Tuesday, August 31, 2010

laughing out loud-erskates

I got this from Skepchick and put a ring on it.

For more homeopathic fun: Storm and If You Open Your Brain Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out. Tim Minchin has given me so much enjoyment and laughter.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"That doesn't mean you're deep or anything"

I really like "When Harry Met Sally." It has interesting dialogue, a happy ending, and its just fun. I knew from the first time I saw it that Harry's intellectual posturing during the car ride to New York was crap. Now I know why I know it's crap. Here's the beginning of the movie; if you watch from 4:46 you see and hear the conversation about death.

Watching The Atheist Experience #670: Coming Out Atheist, a caller asked about the happiness and morality of atheists. They recommended The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell which I quickly google'd and discovered for free on Google. Almost the entire book can be read for free here. I'm not very far into it yet, but Russell has already debunked in Chapter 2 the idea that there is something better about feeling yourself enlightened or superior because you are unhappy. It is not your great wisdom that makes you unhappy, it's folly.

I earnestly look forward to reading more, as time and classes permit. Happy new school year!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"This is about fairness."

This is a short post just to put up a video TedTalks promoted. I think that Senator Diane Savino is spot-on.

The only bad part is... apparently the bill under discussion was not passed.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Evangelism and Russian Tycoons.

I have a friend who calls spending time reading other's conversations and looking at their pictures (like everyone does) "playing Facebook," a phrase I quite enjoy. I also play facebook, but take breaks from vicariously living to judge the hell out of links people post.

Hilarious link #2 mined from Facebook: Russian Tycoon orders workers to find God or get fired.

Well, it would be hilarious if I hadn't gone to church with the user who posted it. She wasn't exact about her feelings on the article, so I'm hoping she was against the sentiment.... but I'm not sure and that's frightening.

My mental conversation goes something like:

"Having been a pretty radical Christian, I can't believe that someone could do this! Did they miss the story of Jesus and the adulteress? Most Christians that I've known are proud of Jesus' revolutionarily loving stance. This guy sounds more like a fan of the fire-and-brimstone God than Christ. "

"Give it up. People who believe and act in the Christian tradition come in all forms, but all the stances that include following the word of the bible are a bit off, seeing as that forces people to condone things done in God's name that are not really acceptable... like forcing your workers to stop 'living in sin.'"

Christianity certainly can do lovely things. For example, the mentality behind good works is quite encouraging. The church I used to belong to gave away free gasoline during the time when gas prices spiked. The message from the pulpit was that it was a blessing of love to the community, not an attempt to draw people to the church. I still believe that was the intent. Also, most of the people I know evangelize because its the best they have to offer. If you truly believe that everyone who hasn't received the love of your god is going to hell, you try and help. It's not prideful most of the time. I've heard evangelism represented as the height of snobbery, but it wasn't. I believed that I was just a tiny cog in the machine of the church, a blood vessel in the body of Christ. As that, my goal was to serve God because he was worthy. Pure and simple, God was worthy of our love and service. If I have been instructed by the bible and the call of love to share with other people Christ's message and love, I do it. It isn't fun or comfortable and it didn't make me feel important. I did feel as though God could see my devotion and made me feel loved for evangelizing. When done humbly, it isn't about the evangelizer, it's about this beautiful being that wants to heal everyone.

And having that outlook makes you a radical and puts you on your way to violating civil rights for the betterment of people. So this Russian tycoon? He's definitely a different variety of devotee than the people I'm used to. But there is the possibility that he started out with a theology that resembles mine and then it intensified over time...

I'm glad to be free of the toxic, swirling reasoning of Christianity. I don't think that many of the devout are stupid or ignorant; they're caught up into a hurricane of theology that's difficult to see your way out of.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fruitful Day

Tonight I watched episode #669: Agnostic Delusions of the Austin-based "The Atheist Experience." Seems like a good show to me, though callers... hmmmm.
(Img cred: Atheist Nation)

From this show, I'v gained useful info and perspective.
  • Lots of atheists do research. This is my endeavor to do so.
  • Agnosticism and atheism are not, according to this show, the pick-one-and-stick-to-it categories I've assumed that they are. In fact, it is quite reasonable (and specific) to pick a form of each. I, for example, am an agnostic atheist because I strongly believe there is no god, but I do not say that it is knowledge. Other availabilities are gnostic atheist, gnostic theist, and agnostic theist.
  • And just to further clarify, -theism is about belief and -gnosticism is about knowledge.
  • Solipsism is the most difficult word to hear and recognize ever. Additionally, it seems like good science fiction and a stupid idea to live by. If one were to live by this theory then I imagine one would end up in a mental institution.
  • Trusting scientific methods is not the same thing as having faith. Jen has a justified belief that science is the best method for describing the world.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cruising the blogosphere to shamelessly steal and promote ideas.

The source of this image is this webpage obliterating the idea that "America is a Christian nation" with citations from various founding documents (in this case, the Treaty of Tripoli). I found it through the blog: Atheist Revolution. While the spirit of the blog seems a bit militaristic in its opposition of religion, it has provided me with plenty of information in the few minutes I've looked at it.

Nota bene: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams are quoted expressing serious doubts and mistrust of Christianity.

I found another the blog's resources for those not yet non-believers well-stated. The page titled, "Doubting Your Faith?" doesn't push too hard, but also doesn't back down. I've had problems with sticking to an atheistic opinion when speaking to a friend with doubts, so much that I've even defended Christianity to someone before. Does that make sense?
In the "No" camp: Not believing in God can be a good thing. You may experience some discomfort at first, but ultimately, you'll start using your vote, money, and resources in a manner more conducive to helping people. You won't feel guilty or strive to hear and see things that aren't real. You won't be funding any more gosh darn pamphlets and, most importantly, you can sleep in on Sundays.
In the "Yes" camp: If you are relatively happy where you are, why should I disturb your complete world view? You only have one life to live and if you are not burning down abortion clinics or stomping on homosexuals, then why disturb you? You could lose friends, drive, family rapport, a sense of fulfillment, on and on and on.
In the "no" camp: You've got to stick to truth or truth in silence, even if comfortable lies are more convenient.

Thanks, Atheist Revolution.

Also! My favorite resource for switchers is here: de-conversion. Read it!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Free will?

This article regarding free will is cool: it covers both opinions and research on the subject. Ultimately the author concludes we do have free will, but the proof a rather complicated logical scenario. I've got to reread it before I quite understand.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thank you, Robert Hass!

Time and Materials Robert Hass
"State of the Planet"
What is to be done with our species? Because
we know we're going to die, to be submitted
to that tingling dance of atoms once again,
it's easy for us to feel that our lives are a dream-
as this is, in a way, a dream: the flailing rain,
the birds, the soaked red backpack of the child,
her tendrils of wet hair, the windshield wipers,
this voice trying to speak across the centuries
between us, even the long story of the earth,
boreal forests, mangrove swamps, Tiberian wheatfields
in the summer heat on hillsides south of Rome- all of it
a dream, and we alive somewhere, somehow outside it,
watching. People have been arguing for centuries
about whether or not you thought of Venus as a metaphor,
because of the rational man they take you for.
Also about why your poem ended with a plague.
The bodies heaped in the temple of the gods.
To disappear. First one, then a few, then hundreds,
just stopping over here, to vanish in the marsh at dusk.
So easy, in imagination, to tell the story backward,
because the earth needs a dream of restoration-
she dances and the birds just keep arriving,
thousands of them, immense arctic flocks, her teeming life.

Complete credit it Robert Hass for that poem. It is not of my creation, but I wish. (wink)

All of the following is regarding the first three lines. which I know is taking something out of context. However, I'm less concerned with textual obligations than mortality. No offense, poets.

That. Yes.
I've never gotten there before.
I had gotten from, "There is no god, no afterlife" to, "I will die and be no more" but no further.
Yes, I will die because I am a creature like all others. My species' existence is based on atmospheric conditions, evolution, and earth. I am composed of atoms. Even my self-awareness and reflection are products of (and dependent upon) the material world. It's biology, a central nervous system, synapses. I'm not more than cells in life.

But now the next step: "I remain. Decay. Stay on earth. Rejoin the "tingling dance of atoms." I fund other projects."

This is a reality I can live with.

Friday, August 6, 2010

TIme to explain the Kite.

I spent hours sitting at my friend's kitchen table coloring and discussing tattoos. I had this discussion with two others, both of whom are Christians and who want their tattoos to reflect this and encourage devotion.

This discussion was preceded by days of being around conservative Christians of various varieties... and no one else. I do not dislike Christians. I do not think that they are stupid. However, feeling like every single one of them would disapprove of and be shocked by pieces of my life is distancing and uprooting.

Fueled by all this, an image popped into my head as I pulled into my driveway: a tattoo of a kite on my foot. Admittedly, this is not completely original or all that absurd, but I like it.

The basic frame of a kite is two sticks, one shorter than the other, laid perpendicular; in short, it's a cross. Beyond the frame, it's a kite: windblown, hopeful, reminiscent of sunlight and sky. It's just dreamy enough, though it's grounded in a tangible object.

I don't think that tattoos must have meaning. In fact, I was quite torn between getting something symbolic/important and getting something meaningless. Of course, a meaning-devoid tattoo would be a statement in itself; "I chose to put this permanent imprint on my body for absolutely no reason at all. It's pretty." And the meaningless tattoo would stand in for the way there is no ultimate "meaning" to life. We're creatures. Existence doesn't mean something. It just is.

To seemingly-demerit-everything-I-just-said, this tattoo does have meaning. Atheists have a bad rap, even in my head. The word sounds super angry and German, and I'd prefer a title that conjures images of fields and kittens. (Just kidding?) But I really didn't have a bad time as a Christian. I understand that many, many people did, and so I can respect their anger, but I do not share in it. Only things like DADT anger me. I don't want to be an angry atheist. In fact, I can't really afford to be one. My friends are mostly Christians and they are wonderful people whom I care about. I don't want to lose them with bitterness or anger.

And so: the kite. It takes the cross (my history of devotion to a fake deity, belief in an afterlife, involvement with a culture I left suddenly and for somewhat inexplicable reasons) and transforms it into (something small, concrete, experienceable by everyone, and reminiscent of a more reasonable happiness, joy, and hope) a kite.

Two final things and I'm outta here: I don't actually have this tat yet. I want it, but I'm willing to wait until I've done my research and talked to people with tattoos to acquire it. After all, I can wait a few months for something that will stay with me my whole life. Secondly, I started this blog that night too. It's creation was a long while in the making (I've been dwelling on this idea for a while) but the execution of it shared a commencement with the tat. Hence, it's name.

Toodaloo and wishes for concrete hope.

(Img cred to: Life 123)