It’s 5am and I haven’t submitted a post for several months. I’d say I’m sorry, and some part of me is because I do love this site and wish I could dedicate more time to it, but I’ve had other obligations, flights of fancy, hobbies, and my lovely girlfriend to spend time with as of late.
Just out of the blue however, I had a very succinct thought about a topic relevant to religious belief. I’ve heard it said from quite a few people that if it wasn’t for religion, there’d be nothing holding them back from committing horrible acts of violence and deprivation. I don’t believe these individuals for a moment.
Your faith in god, religion, or the supernatural isn’t what makes you a good person. Your faith in yourself does. By all means, believe what you want to, but know that you’re only as good as you want to be, and you shouldn’t need the threat of hell or promise of paradise to see that being a good person is a worthwhile venture in and of itself, no strings attached, and no justification required.
People often credit their benevolent acts to their faith in a higher power, and are quick to condemn those who commit malevolent acts as either lacking in faith, or perverting it. Let’s instead recognize that there are simply good people and bad people, and, excluding possible mental illness, we make our own choices as to whether we are going to be a good person, or a bad one. It just saddens me to think that there are people out there who think they’d do horrible things if it wasn’t for their belief in god.
I have more faith in them that they are good people than they do in themselves, apparently.
Happy new year to everyone and keep calm and carry on.
Its been almost 10 years since we as a country were jilted from our superiority. Ten years since we as a globally connected species finally witnessed full on, wide eyed and unedited for content what happens when people obsessed with ignorant superstitions act on those whims; death and fear. And we have since seen many thousands more slaughtered in retaliatory actions authorized and supported by leaders who also preach belief in superstitions not so dissimilar. Why is it that people refuse to acknowledge it is not just form that the delusion manifests that is the danger, it is the delusion itself.
I saw that the guardian.co.uk website had an interesting if short article in regards to Richard Dawkins and his promotion of the teaching of evolution. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/sep/01/richard-dawkins-evolution-children-five
As no surprise, I am in full support of this proposal as it reinforces the education of today’s children and helps develop a love of science at a young age. As many studies show, this love of learning stays with them throughout their educational years leading to better grades, critical thinking skills, ect… And how marvelous is it that we can instil these things by just simply stating the facts.
There was one quote in the article that peaked my interest: “This is because myths leave the child’s questions unanswered, or they raise more questions than they appear to answer.” So I got to thinking. Myths and legends are great. They for the most part provide a fictitious scenario that imparts some moral or ethical teaching that a culture wants to pass on. But when myths are taught as fact is when the alarm bells start ringing.
Myths do leave questions unanswered. If they are continually posed instead of facts over time it leads a person to stop asking questions. And to stop asking questions is to promote ignorance. And to choose ignorance over knowledge is at its core a very immoral concept. To be human is to ask questions to seek knowledge and understanding. To willingly commit this kind of subterfuge vexing.
But this is done constantly, every day, by many people. From the parent who tells their child to stop asking why, to the school systems with their low paid and low motivated teachers that barely teach what’s in the book, to the churches promoting magic over science, and even to the every day person who does not garner for some new kernel of knowledge and instead wallows in their day to day existence. This is wrong and is why we must always keep learning and expanding our understanding of life.
I had a brief discussion with a friend on the matter of forgiveness, or more accurately, whether or not universal forgiveness is moral or even possible.
The argument is well known that forgiveness is some magical key to happiness and is required to move on when you’ve been wronged, but I’m curious as to how much of that is actually true; I feel it is just a meme perpetuated by a largely Christian culture that demands forgiveness as a tenet. And too often, I see it as an empty platitude that people bleat out like sheep to make themselves feel better and appear to be upstanding moral people.
Certainly there are some things which should be forgiven. Minor transgressions, and wrongs done, especially by friends and loved ones, should generally be forgiven. These people are important to us, and to hold a continuous animosity toward them would eventually strain and ruin an otherwise mutually beneficial relationship. In other words, it does benefit the individual to forgive - in certain situations.
Some situations, however, forgiveness may not be useful at all. My first thought goes directly to the unrepentant. Above I noted how forgiveness may mend animosity in a strained relationship, but that’s assuming the party being forgiven is actually sorry for what they did. If they aren’t, forgiveness is wasted and it does nothing other than, as some claim, “make you feel better.” But I doubt that claim altogether, for no one forgets where the hatchet is buried.
If we expect ourselves to forgive everyone of their transgressions, unconditionally and universally, it also opens us up to be taken advantage of; everyone will know that no matter what they do to us, they will be forgiven and all will be well. This is where forgiveness can be dangerous, and even immoral. If we do not hold people accountable for their actions, they will either never learn that what they’re doing is actually wrong, or they just won’t care that it is. To be sure, I’m taking this to an extreme, but it is the logical conclusion of universal forgiveness. You cannot punish someone you’ve forgiven, because forgiveness should wipe the slate clean. If punishment is required before forgiveness can be given, then that is not forgiveness - it is retribution. Henry Ward Beecher once said this on the matter, “I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a canceled note — torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one.”
That leads me to the final question I must ask - is universal forgiveness is even possible? I think Henry Ward Beecher had the right it with his statement, that forgiveness almost necessarily requires one to forget the transgression. This may be why it’s easier to forgive the small things in life, because minor issues are easily forgotten and can never be brought back up. But let’s say, for instance, that someone murders your loved one, and is unrepentant for their crime. Can someone truly forget this atrocity? I don’t think so. Every time you see that person, how could you not remember how they’ve wronged you? You may be able to move on with your life, and bury the hatchet deep down, but it will always be there, right where you left it.
So let’s be honest with ourselves. There can be no forgiveness sometimes, and that’s ok. It’s not wrong to be unable to forgive someone for a terrible crime committed; it makes you no less moral to hate someone with justified reasoning. There is no god above us demanding we forgive all, nor should we pretend we are that fictional god and capable forgiving every sin.
First I’d like to welcome Mr. O as another contributor to the site. He too is a good friend of mine and has been a commentor since the start of the site. Mr. O’s specialization is in politics, and hopefully he will be bringing us some posts about religion and politics.
Secondly, I’d like to discuss being a vocal atheist. This can be taken many ways. Some, upon hearing it, envision the stereotypical “angry” atheist, who screams their disdain for religion and gods at the top of their lungs. For me, it simply means that I will not sit quietly while issues that affect me and this country are determined based on the religious views of the majority.
It also means to me that I am not afraid to discuss, in a civil fashion, my non-belief. I’m not afraid to question the beliefs of others, if they are so inclined.
It’s important to recognize that, while I fully believe and agree that ridiculous ideas and beliefs are by their very definition deserving of ridicule, that we as atheists make it a point not to ridicule the believer, but the beliefs themselves. That’s hard to do, I know, because when we call a belief into question, people take it personally. After all, we are poking holes in their entire worldview.
Now I don’t want to make this sound like that there isn’t a place for aggressive or impassioned dialogue, but aggressive doesn’t necessarily mean angry or mean spirited. We live in a country where the majority of people think atheists are broken and unable to be moral. A very simple and powerful tool is to be nice, which will confront that stereotype head on. When a friend of family member realizes that they know an atheist, and know that they are a good person, they can no longer say that all atheists are immoral, bad people.
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What is Fractal Wrongness?
The state of being wrong at every conceivable scale of resolution. That is, from a distance, a fractally wrong person's worldview is incorrect; and furthermore, if you zoom in on any small part of that person's worldview, that part is just as wrong as the whole worldview.
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