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
Thursday, August 30. 2007
I've read this drivel a million times, and I've never seen it refer to anything that remotely fits the expression.
Posting a picture of Darwin in the comments thread of any news aggregator when somebody does something daring, or even something stupid, and then buys the farm, has become a sort of religion of its own. But it's a religion without any basis in fact. And what it really is is a kind of cowardice that wears the disguise of moral and intellectual superiority. If you never ride a bicycle without a helmet, you love to point at anyone that does and say: See, he had that coming --if they fall and hit their head. To be daring is to be stupid, and to be stupid is to be inferior. Ergo, I'm the top of the food chain by virtue of being an amoral coward.
No you're not.This worldview is held by many who have been taught nothing for 16 years of school - and counting - but that Einstein meant everything is subjective; Schroedinger's Cat means you're not really lying when you are; glossing Hobbes means not only that all the brown people deserve to starve, but it would be useful if they did; the Cretan Paradox means anybody you don't like can be defamed; and reading Rousseau means you can have a high opinion of yourself for refusing to participate in any form of gentility related to civilization. You're not a boorish slob; you're authentic.
You're not atheists, you know. Christopher Hitchens isn't really an atheist, so I doubt you are. What you are is an ingrate. You are squatting in the house that religions built, pulling things off the wall to make fires to warm your bones, all the while chanting in your brand new version of the that old-time-worship-everything- pagan sect. You're not willing to submit yourself to the rigors of participating in a sophisticated relationship with the metaphysical, so you say that persons that contemplate the sublime are just worshipping an invisible sky pixie. It gets you right off the hook for any intellectual and moral heavy lifting.
You can claim people whose clothes match when they go to church, know which fork to use, or join the military out of pure dumb patriotism are hollow inside, while you serenely download porn in your mother's basement and eat Cheetos like the wild, noble savage you are. And of course, the "Jesus in the Bathtub Shrine" for people who claim they're rationalist atheists is the blank, bearded expression of Charles Darwin, cut and pasted into every comment thread you can find.
I've met true atheists. They are very few and far between. Almost everybody on death row qualifies. There's another word for them. It fits much better. They're sociopaths, with the occasional psychopath mixed in. A belief in God takes many forms, all relating simply to the details. It all boils down to nothing more than this: Life Has Meaning. And by "life," I don't mean joining PETA and complaining about eating chicken wings because you'd like to indulge yourself in the delusion that chickens would be immortal or would be in Poultry Montessori Schools or something equally daft if we didn't eat them. I mean life, the universe, and everything. If you're a real atheist, then that "life" has no meaning. You wouldn't participate in civilization in any way if you really believed that. You'd be feral. And trust me, those who use cross-training shoes solely to code html in an office park wouldn't last long in a real Darwinian world.
And so you cower in your cubicle, and puff up your sunken little chest, and paste in the face of the man with the theory you don't even understand properly, and think: Brave people deserve everything they get if things work out badly. If they were like me -- an ingrate coward-- they'd be pasting a picture of Darwin in this thread right now instead of risking pushing up the daisies.
I've got news for you. Those people you look down your nose at†for their simple piety and individualism and grit? Unlike you, they aren't mating with a gym sock while looking at pictures of scrawny girls with bolt on boobs on the internet. They're doing all the things in this world worth doing, including having children.
Do not ask for whom Darwination ensues. It ensues for you.
(Our occasional contributor and commenter Roger de Hauteville used to be King of Sicily)
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
That's the best article on the Atheist mentality I've ever read.
"when somebody does something daring, or even something stupid"
Incorrect, Roger. Darwin Awards are handed out to people who have glorified themselves as being both exceptionally daring AND exceptionally stupid. Here's the all-time classic example:
The front runner this year is the mystery owner of a jet-propelled Chevy Impala. The Arizona Highway Patrol came upon a pile of smoldering metal embedded in the side of a cliff rising above the road at the crest of a curve. Wreckage resembled that at an airplane crash, but it was a car--make and model unidentifiable at the scene.
A lab figured out the story. It seems the driver had somehow gotten hold of a JATO unit (Jet Assisted Take Off--actually a solid fuel rocket) that's used to give heavy military transport planes an extra "push" taking off from short airfields.
He drove his Chevy Impala out into the desert and found a long, straight stretch of road. Then he attached the JATO unit to his car, jumped in, got up some speed and fired off the jet device. The cops calculate that the driver of the car hit JATO ignition at a distance of about 3 miles from the crash site. Ashphalt was scorched and melted there.
Reaching maximum thrust within 5 seconds, causing the Chevy to reach speeds well in excess of 350 mph and continuing at full power for an additional 20-25 seconds, the driver, soon to be pilot, most likely would have experienced G-forces usually reserved for dog fighting F-14 jocks under full afterburners, basically causing him to become insignificant for the rest of the event.
He remained on the highway for about 2.5 miles (15-20 seconds) before the driver applied and completely melted the brakes, blowing the tires and leaving thick rubber marks on the road surface.
He became airborne for an additional 1.4 miles, impacting the cliff face at a height of 125 feet and leaving a black crater three feet deep in the rock. Most of the driver's remains were not recoverable. However, small fragments of bone, teeth and hair were extracted from the crater and fingernail shards were removed from a piece of debris believed to be a portion of the steering wheel.
Darwin only gives credit for balls, when you get right down to it.
"If you're a real atheist, then that "life" has no meaning. You wouldn't participate in civilization in any way if you really believed that. You'd be feral."
uh, Actually life is the my meaning. Duh. Be good while you are here and try to leave the place in better shape then when you showed up. Treat people as they indicate they deserve by their own lives. Encourage the good, dispatch the bad.
What does G_d have to do with that?
Oh and another: "You can claim people whose clothes match when they go to church, know which fork to use, or join the military out of pure dumb patriotism are hollow inside..."
(just glad there are lots of people like this- the alternative is truly chaos and disintegration- and they make great neighbors and friends)
I come here because you folks are wise and strong and I have a lot to learn yet. Not gonna happen with folks the rant describes. I have no patience with the eternal teenaged hippy mindset. Must be living in Portland that does it.
Stick around, Phil. Good to have you around the Farm. Can you drive a tractor?
Not yet, but I haven't had a chance. Looks like fun though. I am a big fan of machines that get stuff done, and I like hot sunny afternoons full of endless work.
"Encourage the good, dispatch the bad.
What does G_d have to do with that?"
I dunno. Let's ask Spinoza.
Life has the meaning you give it.
If you need a god, or a good luck charm, or a special diet, more power to you. I do pretty well with just a few friends and a decent work ethic. If that makes me an atheist, or an agnostic, or something else, then I'm fine with it. I'll be damned (or not) if I let someone else place value on my existence.
In the words of a famous Sailorman
"I yam what I yam and that's all what I am"
That's a hilarious baby pic BTW.
You clearly live religion, my friend. Whether you wish to admit it or not matters not at all.
Disagree. He does live something good, but he ducks the issues.
That is a great pic --what an expression on that face--LOL
but he ducks the issues.
#4.1.1 BD on 2007-08-30 11:45 (Reply)
What are those issues?
Hunh? I'm talking about the 'issues' you claim #4 has.
What road? The Yellow Brick Road?
Horse shit! Name me one war that was started to advance Atheism. Name me one scientific advance made in the "glory" of religion.
I'll deal with the thieves and murderers, just please help keep the damned "believers" out of my "Six."
Well, if we are discussing atheistic nationalist statism, how about the efforts of Germany, Russia, and China to extend their empires over the past 60 years?
They all three resorted to Nationalism (itself, a form of religion in it's extremes?) when it was time for serious fighting, conquering, invading, killing, etc.
One issue is, is the individual the smallest indivisible part of humanity, or is it the family, or clan?
If the latter, then I think what BD refers to is the call to congregation, or the duty to witness, to testify.
All of which I flunk miserably, BTW, so I'm allowed to question the breach.
"Name me one war that was started to advance Atheism"
Okay, I'll bite. Stalin wiping out the kulaks. Mao wiping out all sorts of folks during his big purge. It's a bogus argument and you know it.
As for scientific advances in the name of religion, there are plenty of those too. Lots of scientists who are also believers.
I'll take believers over rapists, murderers and thieves any day of the week.
As an aspiring, and some-time believer - re-born one day, and backslidin' the next - I know what you mean, but the religious have no monoply on virtue. Just as flawed as everyone else. Only difference might be that they own up to it.
100 million + people died in the 20th century alone at the hands of atheists. They declare war on their own citizens, in between the outgoing kind.
It would take a lot less time if we listed the scientific advances not made in the glory of religion. What kind of science did they have in the Soviet Union? Nazi Germany? North Korea? Paging Doctor Lysenko.
Friar Gregor Mendel, the monk that proved the manner of inheritance of genetic traits that made Darwin's observations of the natural world explicable would be a nice place to start, if you're interested.
Would you rather your babysitter, mechanic, plumber, banker, accountant, business partner, or, let's get down to it, your spouse, children, siblings, and ma & pa, to fear the judgement of a higher power, or, y'know, not?
Buddy, I love ya. I would like to point out that I've made it this far by making sure that my babysitter, mechanic, plumber, banker, accountant, business partner, or, let's get down to it, my spouse, children, siblings, and ma & pa are all afraid of me.
heh heh--yep, can't have love without respect, and can't have respect without a little smidgen of fear. actually, love may be ALL fear --as in, what if you don't get loved back, arrrrgh--
We have all seen the 100+ million deaths meme bandied about for a while. I have just taken it at face value, but it strikes me now that it is not quite what it appears to be. Those death's were not done 'in' the name of atheism, but in the name of the state. Done for the purpose of transferring power from religion to the state, so the state would be the only thing left to believe in. Now yes, one could say that if Stalin/Mao were a believer they would never have done such a thing. I just wonder what the victims of the religious wars of France and England would think of what difference that might make, or not. And yes, the numbers, we were much more efficient at killing in the 20th century, and had more folks to kill.
Good question Buddy, but.... I am your mechanic, you may have flown on an aircraft that I have helped maintain in the past. Now would you trust getting on that aircraft, knowing me, more or less, based on whether I am a believer or not? What/who are you really placing your trust in?
Well, no, I wouldn't want you --when you're working on the aileron linkage --to put your faith in the Lord that whatever you do or don't do is okay because it's all in the hands of the Lord anyway. But I would want you to feel --and fear -- the presence of your own conscience.
One good way to lighten that load is to adopt situational ethics ("so what, we all gotta die someday anyway"). "Situational ethics" is a euphemism for "morally insane" as the whole point of ethics is that they not be situational. Indeed, that above all, they be not situational.
One of my ex father-in-laws was a bible-thumpin, part-time preacher, and A PEDOPHILE!
I don't want anyone in my house that spends a lot of time sitting around thinking about "magicmen in the clouds." It just seems "hinkie," to me. And, Unbalanced.
Does that include the ones that are obsessed with removing all vestiges of "magicmen in the clouds", ala ACLU?
I am way more concerned with rabid Atheists than rabid Christians. One set is always determined to tear down tradition, and being a cautious man I go with what works, regardless if it conforms 100% to my POV. Think what you like, just don't tell me 200+ years of American rise is an obscene joke.
Instead of history let's see what moves the planet today:
Global warming nuts- probably atheists
Gun control nuts- mostly atheists
anti-capitalists- hmmm atheists
anti-soveriegnty-ists (EU, NAU, et al) ...well it's not for G_d
Slimy media and Hollywood rot- again, not in the name of religion (other than Scientology)
for that matter: Scientologists - f'ing insane
I could go on. But my point is that the cutting edge of change, i.e. throwing out the tried and true system of advance in favor of a more PC or whatever approach, is foisted upon us not by the Pope or any Baptist preachers, now is it?
Indeed Buddy. So you answered my question? Belief is no substitute for conscience and integrity. And yes, I do fear them :) Hard taskmasters are they!
Don't disagree with 'Situational'. It's not allowed in my profession.
Rufus- The town commie where I grew up liked little boys. He didn't need any 'magicman in the clouds'. He thought he was the 'magicman'.
An Incomplete Response to The Apostleís Screed: The intellectualization of the history of a feeling
God to me began to emerge as a viable accruement to my Weltanschauung when in my youth I began to tenderly explore the physics of driving sideways on dry pavement as cathartic release. That exploration of faith and adrenaline was elaborated on later in life when I discovered the metaphysically clarifying art of snow drifting, which required nothing more than a truck, a Norí Easter, a primitive yawp of discontent sitting no more 1/4 of an inch above the diaphragm and just below the heart, a winding New Hampshire back road, and faith in three things: My hand on the wheel, braking horsepower, and some undefined other. There were moments of intense abstraction in my contemplations where my physical being was no more real to me than the potential of the other. The yawp, liberated in the midst of those musings, would possess my tongue and release the most pure and true prayer Iíve ever offered to G*d, an unintelligible summation of hoary, context-less discontents.
Iím still here. Educated now in my finitude. Iíve come to believe, (Lord help me in my unbelief). I understand now that I am a man of faith, because we all are men of faith. The question is merely one of in what we place our faith, great or small.
As for DarwinationÖ
Alas, poor Darwin! I knew him, (insert name here): a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar?
Iíll close with a prayer from the works of the great and worthy Nina Simone: Oh Lord, please donít let me be misunderstood.
Thus endeth the sermon.
Sayeth Brother BJ Thomas, how it is to be "hooked on a feelin'". He sang it to a gal, but it could just as easily be sung to the Grim Reaper, at that age, in the wild years.
Uh, Jephnol, I think you just wrote what "I" would have written if only I could Write like that. Very Good, Son, Very Good.
Good stuff there Jep. You ever think about commenting on blogs? Heh.
Actually, I don't much trust anyone who spends anywhere, near as much time worrying about what "I" should do, as what "He" should do.
I find it most interesting that an article in the section on fallacies and logic would be among the most egregious examples of the straw man fallacy. You managed to spout off several things that you claim define atheists, and then attack them as if they are the truth. Perhaps you could have used some of that education you spent so much time and energy degrading... or at least a freshman English composition class that covers fallacies.
I am an atheist. I am neither proud nor ashamed of that, it is simply what I am. I am not, however, a sociopath, as I care greatly for my fellow human beings both in my career and my private life, and I believe that it is up to each of us to give meaning to our lives. I don't require fear of that invisible man in the sky to care for others and be a good person. I believe that the thing that makes us human is the ability to conceive of a reality other than our own, and to imagine the experiences of others as we would our own. You know, that there empathy thing. If you're lacking those particular traits, you're a sociopath, not an atheist. And finally, I don't find a relationship with the metaphysical rigorous, I find it nonexistent. I'll just take satisfaction in treating others well and living a decent, peaceful life. Atheists are capable of that, y'know?
You are either what Roger says you are, or you are a fraud or a brick. If life ends when you are dead, then it is NOTHING. It twits me when I hear, " Ohh.... at least I led a decent, moderate life, was kind to children and animals and... oh, I planted a tree and went to the Cameroons. And most certainly I left the world a better place than I found it"......
Wha??..... All that means is that you are appallingly lacking of imagination and originality. You are acting out the scripted reflexes of someone who once gave a damn. You are a spiritual zombie, you are essentially dead, just that your raw emotions haven't all played out yet. There is either meaning to your life, or there is not. It is NOT up to "each and every individual to give meaning to life". But I'll grant you as correct, what makes us human is the ability to see reality other than what it is. Culture, and religion, are dreams of immortality - that life is not an absurd waste of time, and justice, reason and love are not a joke.......
This fiction that life is sufficient in itself can only 'work' as long as a faith in the Eternal exists in living memory. Once that fades out, you are COOKED, and Roger here, will have you by the shorthairs......
... I don't even know where to begin here. Soooo, clearly, I MUST be what Roger defines me to be, huh? Of course, judging by your closing, you apparently see Roger as your deity or something equally "You tell 'em, Steve-Dave!"-like.
-"If life ends when you are dead, then it is NOTHING."-
You'll have to be a little clearer on how I'm the one lacking in imagination, as I'm quite able to give meaning to my own life rather than let someone else, whether it's you, god-Roger, or Yngwie Malmsteen, do it for me. And if there is an eternity, I wouldn't mind being remembered in it, but it takes nothing away from what I do today. Furthermore, I see no reason to worry about it, as once I'm gone, I'm gone, and I'm prefectly at ease with that. To worry otherwise is a failure of imagination on the magnitude of green-lighting a "BJ and the Bear" theatrical release. I assure you, I am quite alive, and very much engaged in my life. I definitely do not see life as a waste of time, and I have dedicated my life to social justice, in the form of helping those among us who cannot help themselves. I'm happy with that (although I wouldn't mind getting that promotion I'm shooting for, I must admit). It's a pity that you are incapable of such contentedness without having someone else define your life for you. More importantly, if you or Roger get anywhere near my short and curlies, well, that's why I was issued pepper spray at my last job.
Regarding the significance/meaningfulness of life, who's asking these questions? Is it you as you were, a baby, or as you are at the moment, an adult?
Did you not ask these questions when you were an infant because you had not yet developed self-referentiality, mental sophistication, and abstract thinking?
Why do you believe that you are now adequately equipped to solve the puzzle of the 'why and what for' of your existence?
How many years have you spent devoted to the processes of discovery described by Patanjali, Shankarcharya, Sai Baba of Shirdi, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, or their equivalents?
Is it possible that our present level of awarenesss is as far from the highest level as that of an ant is from ours?
"The fault , dear Brutish, is not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are underaware."
Hmm, it seems to me that a lot of talk and argument and conjecture about such things is rather a waste of time (Unless someone is TRULY seeking understanding, than even the real answers set right out in plain sight will be just another post)
I honestly believe that an atheist is a fool for believing he can give his own life meaning. After all, if he really IS gone after he dies, and the same is true for each of us, then what point is there to living at all? Just to have some fun for a while, step on some people we decide we dislike, show kindness to a few others when it makes us feel good?...And what of death? Can the atheist make meaning for himself in death? It seems rather unlikely. In fact it would merely be a pragmatic response that he kill himself when life eventually takes a turn for the worse, such as the onset of disease, a permanent loss of mobility, or some major setback/disappointment. After all, there's no reason to fear any eternal penalty, nor indeed to regret anything that he did or failed to do while still living... Oblivion awaits the pure atheist, and he knows it. (Or at least he tries to convince himself of this, and admits no doubt.)
On the other hand the religious person is just as foolish if all he does is sit around and expect for some great meaning to fall in his lap, show up at his door, or appear divinely smuggled into his pocket. If there is meaning to life (And I trust that there is) then it is to be found first in what we believe, but secondly (and far more importantly!) in what we DO. Our time, money, physical and mental energy, as well as our personal skills and talents are all resources that we can use to either better our own circumstances, or to help others; that I believe, is where we are best able to find meaning in this life. Whether a person believes in a divine entity or not, the same hardships visit each of us, and we must decide how to react to them.
A rarely used quote from Jesus (The Christ) is this,
"Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
James 1:27 (New American Standard Bible)
Take it how you wish, but even the focal point of all of Christendom points us not to some transcendental piety, but to our mundane, daily choices and actions.
As for death, that is the great mystery. Since no one living has ever died (Assuming that all the "Near Death Experiences" are to be discounted), there is very little to go on. After significant deliberation and after boiling all the talk down to it's fundamental elements, it becomes clear that my choices (And the choices for every living person) are this: hope for something more beyond my last breath; living my life in such a way as to reflect that belief, OR live like there is nothing to fear (which implies I had BETTER hope that I am right or things will get really unpleasant really fast...) The choice would seem obvious, (Even via these purely pragmatic methods of analysis) and I am not ashamed to say that it is not pragmatism but a much longer and deeper search for truth and meaning which has led me to my ultimate conclusion; God is real, morality(or one might say Truth) is absolute, and an eternity of some meaningful kind WILL continue on after mortality for ALL of us. I want mine to be better rather than worse, and will live my life accordingly.