We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Wednesday, April 27. 2011
Image of Ben Franklin's daily sched via Tiger. Ben was self-employed after his youth as an apprentice.
Southerners Not Happy to Have Lost Civil War
Dating - An Anti-Education
America's New Berlin Correspondent: Germany a Nation of Nazis, Bloodsuckers, Prostitutes, Alcoholism and Hopelessness...
Only 1% of Media Stories On Spiking Gas Prices Even Name Obama's Anti-Oil Policies As Possible Culprit; Most Prefer Business Bogeyman of "Speculators"
1979-2007: Rich Got Richer, Poor Got Richer
What’s Left of the Left - Paul Krugman’s lonely crusade.
Venezuela scrambles for food despite oil boom
PJM Exclusive: Stuxnet Has Completely Paralyzed Iran’s Bushehr Plant
If London is harboring terrorists, should we send in drones?
In my experience, most people do not spend much time thinking about policies or politics. That was fine, before government intruded into every area of our lives.
Atheists Seek Chaplain Role in the Military
Is atheism becoming another religion?
The Mainstream Media Finally Investigates Birther Allegations
The O was born in Hawaii. I think the O is toying with the Birthers, playing them for fools. As for his grades, they probably did suck because he was a stoner. But graduating summa from HLS means something.
Just 23% Realize Deficit Largely Due to Commitments Made in 1960s and ‘70s
Israpundit: This will be the Arab world’s next battle
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I'd thought the same thing about being cum laude at Harvard. Ace of Spades takes a look at affirmative action at HLS in the 80s. 76% graduated with honors. D'oh!
The link to the piece on depressed males would be funny if it weren't so painfully true.
"Atheists Seek Chaplain Role in the Military..."
Fascinating. But surely most modern militaries in the West already have "secular chaplains" in the form of social work officers?
I don't see atheism as a religion but it does shares one feature with religion: it's clearly an ideology.
A good many atheists are only very mildly ideological, that is, they don't believe in God (or gods) and are thus indifferent to religion. But a fanatical core takes it all a step further. To the extent they constantly drone on about religious belief, they rather admirably fit George Orwell's old line:
"He was an embittered atheist, the sort of atheist who does not so much disbelieve in God as personally dislike Him."
Atheism is same ideology as Islamism sans acknowledgment of false prophet.
JJM, I don't think it is fair to say that atheism IS an ideology. If it is, what are the core beliefs or tenets that unify atheists?
It is fair to say that (the very vast majority of) atheists have some sort of an ideology. I would say an 'atheist' without a strong enough ideology would not be an atheist but an agnostic. But there is no ideology of atheism. Communist atheists have an ideology, as do objectivists/Randian atheists, but those ideologies are almost complete polar opposites in virtually everything except the existance of God.
Atheism is a lack of belief (in God). It is what you don't believe, not what you do believe. Ideology is what you do believe. Solely with the information that someone is an atheist, you have no information as to what that person actually does believe.
It is like the information that someone does not believe in the Hindu pantheon of gods. It is not particularly useful in determining what someone does believe. 'Not believing in the Hindu Pantheon of gods' could encompass everything from Osama bin Laden to George Bush (either of them) to Clinton and Obama, to an agnostic or Muslim Indian peasant to either an atheist/secular or deeply Catholic Frenchman or a Japanese Shinto priest or a Chinese communist apparatchik. Not helpful. What you don't believe is not a useful grouping. Effective and useful grouping based on what you do believe. It is generally ineffective to group 'atheists' for the vast majority of commonly used purposes.
Especially when opposing 'atheist' groups (ie the war on Christmas) people would be far better served by focusing on what the people do believe than on what they don't. 'Atheists' do not oppose Christmas any more than they oppose Eid or Passover or Diwali. There are hardcore leftists (ie progressives) who hide behind the atheist label to oppose the moral structure Christianity provides many voters limiting their ability to convince those voters to give socialism one more try. You are right there is a 'fanatical core' at the source of the problem, but they are fanatical about what they do believe, not what they don't believe. Don't help them hide behind the atheist label.
Krishna, Zues, Jupiter, Baal, Apollo, Thor, Aramazd, Marduk, Quetzalcoatl...given time and motivation, I am sure we can come to 99.99% agreement.
That would probably also help establish that the things we don't believe are not useful information about what we do believe.
Your failure to believe is something all yourn, laddy.
Me dad is god hater himself though he is partial to the habits of the devil.
He and yall'll get no support for yalls' failure to believe.
Like he yall soon argue against prior agruements presented.
It be jolly fun watchin' the trail yall make though.
Laddy? I am no man's Laddy, and haven't been referred to as a Lad in decades.
So much hostility. It is almost....unChristian.
But your post does elaborate on the need for the clarification of how meaningless the atheist label is. Your 'God hater' father is an atheist, so you think that is relevant to all atheists. But it isn't. I don't hate your God.
The best way to communicate the feeling is a parallel. I feel about your god about the way you probably feel about Charon who supposedly ferried the souls of the dead across the river styx. Do you hate Charon, or are you ambivalent? An irrelevant non-entity who doesn't really exist? (Keep in mind I did not say Christians were irrelevant)
There are certainly 'atheists' who are god haters. But most certainly a small minority of atheists. The motivations of others are far different and varied. That is why atheist is such a useless label. If your father's atheism is motivated by hatred of your God, it is what he does believe, and why he hates your god that gives you insight into him. But it doesn't translate to other atheists the way insight into Christians or Muslims or Zoroastrians can be applied across the groups. The difference between a mutually held belied and non-belief.
I most likely share nothing with your father's morality or understanding or perspective. We coincidentally don't believe in gods, but most likely for extraordinarily different reasons. But I don't bond with atheists over our mutual lack of belief, any more than you and your father bond over your mutual lack of belief in the Hindu pantheon. It is what you do beleive that matters, not what you don't.
"Atheism is a lack of belief (in God)."
That sure sounds like a core belief or tenet to me.
Presumably it's one that unifies all atheists.
GK Chesterton had some astute observations regarding the (then) pioneering field of atheistic endeavours, my favorite of which is, “Atheism is indeed the most daring of all dogmas . . . for it is the assertion of a universal negative.”
Lack of belief makes one agnostic. An atheist claims god does not exist.
In practice, though, atheists are primarily rejecters of their culture’s dominant religion, not logical philosophers. I find few of them are even able to define that thing—god—which they say does not exist. Atheism is an attempted justification of convenient beliefs.
Agnostics are 'uncertain.' Atheists lack belief in god or gods.
While atheists are generally 'rejecters of their culture's dominant religion' (obviously, there is no culture whose dominant religion is atheism) that is not a particularly useful framing of the issue. Only a very small portion of the 'rejecters' are atheists...there are far more converts from one religion to another than atheists in the vast majority of cultures.
Atheists are the ones who are pricks about it. They don’t quietly believe that god does not exist. They snidely attack the structure which they rejected at seemingly every opportunity.
It’s social signaling for misfits.
By the way, am I the only one who's finding these WikiLeaks cables to be a bit of a damp squib?
In most instances, they're really only confirming what we had already more or less surmised. In the case of this latest Guantánamo batch, they simply serve to further underline the scope and scale of the Islamist threat.
And those opposed to Guantánamo would have been no less opposed without the release of these cables.
"The Mainstream Media Finally Investigates Birther Allegations"
Well, better late than never.
Birther's called his hand for years, Hussein0 played the fool and American people.
Impeach the bastard.
The released document may be a forgery.
African ain't a race.
Kenyan pop's race was negro.
Why did it take el presidente so long to forge a document? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AArF2jLEIOs
Image of Ben Franklin's daily sched:
So, ol' Ben invented the eight hour work day.
Southerners: Jammelle get down and stay on the floor.
Without a doubt North's victory was win for America's anti-Constitutionalists.
Liar Lincoln said in his 1st inaugural address, "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so."
Lots of things are said before wars break out...most don't hold up to the dynamics of war.
Constituttion was designed for the eventual demise of slavery.
Yankee sectionalists betrayed the spirit and letter of the US Constitution with liar Lincoln in the drivers seat just as they are to today with liar Hussein0.
I just never thought this would happen, but it finally did. I'm in agreement with Leag! Mirabile dictu and all that. What I agree on is that "African is not a race." It's an adjective describing geographic location. There are folks in Africa [Kenya for instance] whose families have been in Kenya for many generations, but they are Caucasian in background with no admixture of Negro blood. If they should emigrate to the United States, they could be described as African American. This is an example of how one can be bloody mixed up if one adheres to geographic designations of racial strains.
When we say that Negroes are African American, we make that mistake and confuse the issue. Some blacks in this country are first generation emigres from Africa and therefore could be called African, but others have ancestors who have been residents in this country for many generations. They would more accurately be called American Negroes, if our American blacks hadn't decided that 'Negro', an anthropological designation from respected anthropologists like Harvard professor Dr. Carleton Coon,, was pejorative and insulted them somehow.
Then we also have the case of native Kenyans who are pure Caucasian in race. Some Caucasian families have lived in Kenya for as long as whites have lived in America. Would it be accurate to call them African American? Geographically that may be accurate, but it is misleading if you are trying to describe their race..
Another misleading 'racial' designation is "Native American." Many folks who are American Indian in background object to being designated as a 'Native American', since they are aware, as I am, that any American who is native born, no matter what his or her color or heritage, is a Native American, just as any Frenchman who is native born is a 'native Frenchman' and any German who is native born is a 'native German', whatever his color.
If S. I. Hayakawa were still alive [and I wish he were] we might question him about what we could do to eliminate this deceptive impasse, but as long as folks keep shifting the ground to make themselves feel more respected, we'll have to put up with being confused.
P.S. If you want a good anthropological text which bears out my points, try The Races of The World, by Dr. Carleton Coon. Libraries have it, or should. I lost my copy somewhere between the 1940s and now, but found another one through Amazon.
Hawaii constantly struggles with the issue of how to classify the racial makeup of its inhabitants because so many of them are of mixed ancestry. It's not uncommon for someone local to say they are part Hawaiian, Portuguese, Filipino, AND Chinese or Japanese. Indeed, one of the staunchest Hawaiian sovereignty activists isn't even majority Hawaiian by birth but, rather, 50% Irish + German + others. Different official state documents and surveys in Hawaii have used different racial classification schemes, often depending on what some relevant federal regulation required. I believe the classification of "African" first appeared in 2003 or soon thereafter. Prior to that, the classification would have been "black" which, of course, could have included African-Americans or Jamaicans or Bajans or some Ecuadorans, etc. The term "Negro" was apparently not used, not that it made much practical difference because there were so few of them living in Hawaii in the 1960s, even given the strong presence of the military in the islands.
Curiously, Mommy's race is properly put; Caucasian.
Improper race for pops suggests tom foolery.
Tom foolery? No, more likely Barack Sr. foolery. I suspect the real story went something like this: The President was probably conceived in December 1960; his mother realized she was pregnant with him in January 1961; a wedding was quickly held in February 1961; sometime thereafter she learned her husband was already married and had a wife and child back in Kenya (the INS knew that and perhaps inadvertently revealed the secret when Barack Sr. went to renew his student visa in order to remain in Hawaii at the state University); splitsville then ensued, so she decided to get as far away from her husband as possible by enrolling in WSU on the mainland, leaving Hawaii two weeks after giving birth to her son in Honolulu. The INS may have suspected at first this was a sham marriage, which then led to the discovery that Barack Sr. was a polygamist.
Perhaps some of this is mentioned in Barack's autobiography, but I've not read it nor do I have any intention of using my hard earned money to add to his book royalties.
There are two errors in CNN's statement regarding the President's real birth certificate. First, it is not true to say that the Certificate of Live Birth is no longer accepted for official usage. Rather, the COLB is no longer ISSUED by the Dept. of Health. In its place the Dept. issues a short-form Certification, which is a computer generated ABSTRACT (not a true COPY or PHOTOCOPY) of the actual birth certificate. Second, a Honolulu reporter is quoted as saying that in the 1960s all reports of births recorded by the Dept. of Health came directly from the hospitals. That, too, is likely untrue. A number of people who were born around that time say it was not uncommon for children to be born at home, and so the official record of their birth was submitted to the Department by their parents or other relatives, not by any hospital.
Officials of the state of Hawaii itself have contributed in part to the public's confusion over the President's birth certificate. Recently a spokesperson for the Attorney General's office claimed that the Dept. of Health was prohibited by law from unsealing the state's vital records to anyone, including individuals (like the President) who wanted copies of their original birth certificates. That, too, is untrue. There is no such legal restriction, it is only a standing PRACTICE of the Dept. to offer an abbreviated form of its records rather than a copy of the original documents. The Dept.'s own web page says that upon payment of a fee it will make a CERTIFIED COPY of the original document, otherwise it will offer a certified verification that the original document exists.
No, there is a big difference between a negative (lack of) and a positive belief.
The negative is mostly meaningless. Presumably, both you and I don't believe in Krishna. That lack of belief says virtually nothing about you or I. You don't define yourself or your beliefs by the ones you lack, do you? It isn't useful.
If someone does believe in Krishna, that is useful information. You can make educated guesses and reasonable presumptions about all sorts of things from that. The negative is relatively useless.
What you do believe is important, vitally important, to who you are. What you don't is meaningless.
The lack of belief is mostly irrelevant. You and I will never rally together around our mutual lack of belief in Aztec gods. Peple don't care about what we don't believe...we care about what we do believe...that is why atheist is such a useless label except in extraordinarily limited circumstances.
You are being disingenuous.
There is a considerable difference between simply having no particular thoughts or views on religion and declaring yourself to be an atheist.
If you choose to label yourself an atheist, you've made a conscious statement about your beliefs.
There is a considerable difference between simply having no particular thoughts or views on religion and declaring yourself to be an atheist.
Yes. The difference between an agnostic and an atheist.
Declaring one's self an atheist is no more a statement of beliefs than you declaring yourself a non-Hindu. Both true, both mostly meaningless. Very few (mostly the god haters) declare themselves atheists at the key moment at all. It is the deep acceptance of what they do believe that motivates them. The fact that the concepts of the supernatural fall by the wayside is usually incidental.
However, I didn't declare myself an atheist. I provided you clarification of your (in my not so humble opinion) misuse or abuse of the word.
I didn't bring this up to hear myself speak. I tried to offer you something. You are unwilling to listen, so be it. But if you genuinely want to oppose 'atheist' advances into our culture (which was the point of your post I was reacting to), you would do well to understand that atheist is meaningless. Oppose what they do believe, not what they don't. By opposing 'atheists', you ignore who is really doing this and why.
They hide behind the cloud of confusion created by the word...and you let them. Even the Jewish mystical roots of pre-Christianity recognized the power of using true names. Keep calling them 'atheists' and watch them continue to advance. When you actually want to stop them, call them by their true name. Until then, continue trying to spar with ethereal, amporphous shadows, no matter how ineffective.
I have tried to share what I think is a valuable but difficult insight that most religious people don't understand. 'Atheists' cannot stop the advances 'atheists' are making in the culture; we are too few, and our beliefs too scattered and diverse, we are not, by our very nature cohesive. It is, after all, a mostly meaningless aggregation. Christians can, and I hope you do, for I love this (mostly Christian) culture which lets me be free and creates so much goodness. For all its flaws, it is still by far the best.
I hoped to help in some small way. Apparently I failed.