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.
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Tuesday, May 27. 2008
Our readers know that we are in favor of global warming, (and fear the current cooling phase) but doubt that we will get any good warming other than the usual warm summers. As quoted from Freeman Dyson at Reason:
For whatever it's worth, we agree that the global warming craze is sucking the oxygen - and the sanity - out of a conservation movement of which we consider ourselves to be a part.
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Dyson ultimately believes that environmentalism as the national religion is a good thing. He retains some reason about how that faith should be put into action, but it is scary when someone puts a brilliant logical mind to work on suspect premises.
As a pop religion, it sure beats socialism, New Age, or Scientology!
"...it is scary when someone puts a brilliant logical mind to work on suspect premises."
I don't know. A brilliant, logical mind could quickly dissect the flaws in the premise and save a whole lot of BS.
Dyson actually raises (unintentionally) a larger question I've heard thrown around in theological discussions. That is to say: When you don't believe in God or are an atheist or New Ager or whatever, there's a tendency to create a more acceptable God and show it a similar sort of reverence and fealty one expects (or at least, hopes) to find in Christians towards their God.
As an experiment, test this theory when you hear these discussions re Global Warming zealots, or those holding a similar position re some aspect of science or environmentalism. You might find that the proponents of certain positions hold their beliefs to contain a moral position, and consider disagreements as blasphemy.
In other words, they act rather like they were holding an inquisition.
One of the criticisms one hears of Christians from certain groups is that man invents God so as to give empty lives meaning. It's uncanny to see environmentalists, anti-creationists, etc., doing exactly that with their own belief systems.
Yipes, Snitch.... What a load of thinking you stuck in that comment. I have so much to say that I can't. So, I'll just say that sounds mighty close to a generalization in your first paragraph. I'm thinking you didn't mean it to be as you probably know non-believers and atheists who are not in search of groups, causes, or meaning. I know several and they're neat people. Their philosophy is do the right thing and don't try to tell anyone what, how, or why to think.
Your last paragraph - man invents God to give empty lives meaning - ... I think as far back as pre-history this has been the case. Whatever differences may be the search for personal meaning, but believing in a higher power seems to have always been there. It may have come about because of nature - of which man has no control.
Either way, non-believers, at least the ones not stomping around with an agenda, are fine people and seem to accept their human 'being' with graciousness of self rather than relying on the dogma of religion or the belief in a higher power to give them meaning.
"So, I'll just say that sounds mighty close to a generalization in your first paragraph. I'm thinking you didn't mean it to be as you probably know non-believers and atheists who are not in search of groups, causes, or meaning. I know several and they're neat people. Their philosophy is do the right thing and don't try to tell anyone what, how, or why to think."
I have observed a lot of people professing no belief in God who do want to tell others what to think. I also have observed a lot of people who are looking for a place to fit in. Truly independent thinkers are quite rare, as are people who don't either try to force their opinions on others, or become suspicious of those who don't quite fit in to whatever they have accepted as true.
If you know a lot of truly independent thinkers, well, good for you. I'm not saying you don't.
There's an old wisecrack: "I want to be an iconoclast, like everyone else." It's a cherished American belief that we think for ourselves, uninfluenced by others. We are all rugged individualists, at least in our own minds. Just look at the verbiage under the title of this blog - why, it's the freethinker's manifesto.
On the other hand, it's those who are most confident of their counterculture street cred who need to hear something like this: http://www.lyricsbay.com/w/woodyguthrielyrics/woodyguthrielittleboxesbeatnikversionlyrics.html
The stock market crash in 2000, and the housing crash of - well, right now - are empirical evidence that most people make their decisions based largely on what the people around them think and do. That's why houses in a neighborhood usually look alike - and why people get REALLY upset when they deviate. That's why The Man in the Grey Flannel suit dresses like everyone else in his company (at his job level, anyway). That's why the folks at Daily Kos rarely come to Maggie's to say hello.
Those folks paying too much for stocks in 2000? Caught up with a search for meaning in money, and a fear of falling behind their peers. The men in grey flannel suits? They define themselves by work - it's their 'God'. Etc., etc. The relationship between (wo)man and money, and political affiliation, and social position, and so on, very much resembles the relationship some (wo)men seek with God.
Until we realize and accept (acceptance being the challenging part) that we share certain tendencies at a basic, animal level, we cannot really begin the challenge and struggle of thinking for ourselves.
But that's just my experience. Your mileage may vary. In fact, I'm sure it does, and I hope you get a thousand miles per.
does the lottery god count? Man - I PRAY for that one!!! hahahahahaa
When the numbers reach a certain point, I see worshippers lined up on the sidewalks in front of the local bodegas. And yes, there's a fair amount of prayer and ritual involved...
...problems of nuclear weaponry ... and social injustice...
I'll listen to Dyson on scientific issues he knows about -- what modelling is worth, for example -- but... "social injustice"?! B******t, b******t, b******t...
The problems of nuclear weaponry aren't better understood by knowing more about neutrons than the next guy, either.
Meta - do you know such nonbelievers and atheists, then? I wonder if I knew them if I would find them the same. I know many who make the claim, but when you're with them in the workplace 40 hours/week some contradictions leak out...
I can't think of a good disproving example, actually.
Yes, I know many. I took some courses at UVA and mentioned I'd like to meet more people my age associated with the university. I was told to try out the secular humanist group which met every Sunday. They have speakers each week to adddress approximately 75 members of WASH - Washington Area Secular Humanists. Most of the members were professors at the university and the rest professionals of varying degrees. Because one joined WASH, I can say that there was no contradiction in any of them. There were, however, a number of contradictions in attitude, and that is what ultimately put me off the group. For instance, a few griped at a dinner about taking 'God' off money, and I recall mentioning George Will and this same claque snarled and spit. The rest were Virginia gentry, professors, retired professionals, and none took themselves too seriously (aside from those few), and we all enjoyed learning from the speakers - not expounding on secularism. I think it would be safe to say this group was like any group with a slightly radical element and the quiet, polite, interested element forming the majority.
In my personal life, I've known those I describe above and those you mention who say such as, 'I would like to believe, but I can't.' I am confident enough to say that among good Christians and good atheists, the differences in believing and not believing are never obvious. To me doing the right thing is all that counts, and I see it in both.