Daily Archives: Friday, 16:43, August 3, 2012
Happy Friday, everyone. This week has been kind of strange, though I’ve gotten a lot done, especially reading — I started and finished “Flatland: a romance of many dimensions” in 6 hours over a period of two days (lots of interruptions in between), which was quite the first for me. The last time I did some serious marathon reading was when I read Lovecraft’s “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” in only the space of a single day.
The parental unit was scheduled to fly over to Slovenia to see my brother’s family (Yo, Teed!), but has had to reschedule her flight due to complications.
This Tuesday, I posted the Fractals of the Month…
Wednesday I posted a Retraction of an Intractable Position & Mars in a Minute: How hard is it to land Curiosity on Mars?…
…and just this morning, I posted a rant I call Please tell me again what I’m missing out on…
Over on his blog, Martin Pribble has posted Why I Am A Feminist…
At windupmyskirt, there is Good News and Bad News for Women at the 2012 Olympics.
I’m having a bit of an i09 fest this week, with a few pieces that caught my eye while perusing my Twitter feed, The Biological Advantage of Being Awestruck, Modern culture emerged 20,000 years earlier than anybody realized — checkmate, young-Earth creationists!, Why We Should Look for Extraterrestrial ‘Bubbles’ in Neighboring Galaxies, & Amazing Fossil Discovery Shows How Insects got Their Wings.
This week has been tons of fun, both in sincerity AND in sarcasm, and next week I’ll be posting the updates for this site’s stats.
- Isaac Asimov — a Quote (sthaelrazor.com)
- Flatland2: Sphereland to be shown at MathFest (aperiodical.com)
- finally friday, finally friday, finally… fractal friday for fractal-philes (buddhakat.wordpress.com)
- Your Olympic Nail Art Roundup [Olympics] (jezebel.com)
- Who will rule the business of space? Humans…or robots? (scpr.org)
The above I saw posted on a Facebook page a while ago, in text on a photograph, by people with enough native intelligence to know better, but who apparently don’t.
No, that is trying to force your beliefs on others, in a passive-aggressive, condescending way that paints non-believers as being less than complete human beings unless they believe what you do. It’s bigoted, self-righteous and downright insulting to both those who believe in other gods, and those of us who don’t believe in any gods, including yours, to be treated as though we are pathetic, defective, broken creatures who only your particular savior can fix, when most of those of us including myself, who no longer believe, live complete, happy, moral, fulfilling and meaningful lives completely independent of any belief in a god.
Those of us who no longer believe do so precisely because of the utter failure of your god to fulfill his promises and supply real, meaningful answers to the questions we raised as believers, questions that went strangely unanswered by a being supposedly all-knowing and capable of speaking for himself — and if not capable of so doing, he cannot be all-powerful or all-knowing, but that’s a subject for another post.
Alright, let’s first take a look at what the secular life has gained me and what I would have gained by remaining a theist…
I’ve gained a better moral sense, and better motivation for morality than any set of religious rules, through secular philosophical ethics all the way from Aristotle to the present. Thousands of years of human moral progress. I follow those morals I do, not from fear of punishment nor hope of reward in some future existence beyond this one, but to do good for its own sake in this life, the only one I’m ever likely to have given the current evidence and best reasoning available.
Frankly, I don’t find arguments for the divine necessity of morals or claims of an immaterial soul or an afterlife convincing.
I find such arguments weak, invalid, and at best, resting upon premises not in evidence even when valid.
The findings of psychology, especially evolutionary psychology, neuroscience and sociology are much more satisfying in explaining the origin and universality of human morals, and the conditions that give rise to them, and while not dictating them — that would be just as absolutist and dogmatic as many religious morals — science and philosophy working together can certainly inform us and allow us to find our own moral guidelines based upon our best thinking and most adaptive sensibilities as social primates.
Morality in its purest boils down to simply pro-social behavior independent of any apparent divine command or doctrines of imaginary sins committed by imaginary distant ancestors in an equally imaginary idyllic past.
I’ve gained a better understanding of the universe through a more well-rounded general science background. I’m no expert, but I now know far more than I did as a teenager, now that I have some idea what science is, how it works, and what it’s for. This background has immunized me to the arguments of creationists and various other stripes of science denial, such as those of climate-change and of astrophysics.
I’ve gained a better, more spiritual outlook, if you could call it that, informed by the grand and sweeping ideas of 500 years of science and the promise of our species’ betterment if we can avoid killing ourselves off in the next century or two. I’m confident that once we pass that hurdle, our future will be bright.
My life is far richer, obviously not just through science, but through secular endeavors like music, dance, literature, the arts, including my enjoyment of making fractals and seeing what I can do with them. I enjoy various fields of mathematics and logic, again for the recreational use, not for any claimed expertise in these.
Philosophy offers a rich heritage of human thought through the ages, with ideas both ancient and innovative, many of these empirically testable, and much of which has some use when it works. There is much use for philosophy, even for the practical-minded.
Though I’ve an odd preference for non-fiction, I’m an avid science-fiction and fantasy fan, and find recreation in games and books as well as personal enrichment in these activities. They stimulate thought, get my mind working in new ways, and are invaluable in getting me out of a rut when things get dull. I watch Doctor Who, as I find many of the monsters exceedingly cool-looking, however cheesy the costumes and special effects.
The universe is vast, as as a being within it I feel it within me as well, my atoms crafted within the hearts of stars which died and in their death-throes exploded so that I and my world may live, all the elements heavier than hydrogen throughout the cosmos and especially those needed for life as we know it — and possibly as we don’t. The grand scale of existence, the dance of energy, matter, space and time, of life’s origin and its evolution on our tiny world to the incredible diversity we see, none of these revealed by mysticism, but through human labor and inquiry, always brings me pause at how conceited we are that we are somehow special, somehow central, to existence.
The hubris! We on our planet are all we know of life and intelligence, and we are so small in the enormous breadth of reality, yet through us the universe can apprehend itself.
Compare that with salvation of only one species, on a single speck of a world, by a messiah whose historical existence is itself questionable, whose deeds are even more questionable, much less the sins we are asked to believe we need saving from, and to me it seems humorous that the ultimate creator of the universe could care about us, much less what we eat, what we wear, and with who and how we love or worship.
To be chained, by guilt and fear, the imagined love of a violent, vain, abusive divine parent, to false comfort and false hope of a life hereafter, to sacrifice my integrity, my ability and willingness to think, my enjoyment of the only life there actually seems to be in anticipation of an imagined “something more to all this…”
So what exactly is it I’m missing out on without your God?