tags: God believers atheism musings
How I see the universe and how I (don’t) see God (at all).
A week or two ago, I stumbled across a post somewhere on some blog that featured a TED video of a pastor/minister/priest/somethingorother giving a talk about how God can let terrible tragedy happen.
I won’t go into my honest surprise at seeing God being the topic of a TED video. I wasn’t about to watch the thing, but I did glance over a bit of what the guy who posted the video had to say. As with all believers, I’m puzzled as to why people have this seemingly impossible-to-deny desire to believe in a supreme being. The video was apparently about how silly it is that most believers agree that God is infinite and yet they’ve also decided that God is “this” or “that.” Yes, it is silly. But what about the part where you accept that God is infinite right along the idea that God can ever be comprehended or understood in the first place? Why even bother trying to comprehend him if you know the human brain can never fully do it? And since He is just so far above you, why do you even bother believing at all? What’s the point?
I left some of that in a comment on the already commented upon post (most of the comments were from believers). And I did get a response from the original poster explaining that we should try to understand God so we can understand existence, understand how we understand and understand how we relate to each other.
Being careful to only slightly stretch my own 3 Rules of Internet Arguing, I decided to leave one more comment. Here it is:
I guess I just don’t see much to *understand*. I mean, I read the science, I understand how certain conditions lined up and allowed me to exist. Understanding existence in this way tells me that life is incredibly fragile. Seeing how lifeless the universe appears to be, suggests how incredibly special and unique we are. It also tells me that it is we who bring meaning to the universe—that without us, existence would just be a bunch of planets, asteroids, stars and space dust. Without us, no one would be able to attribute meaning to any of it. So, that makes human life invaluable.
So, to me, when someone I know dies or gets cancer or stubs his toe, I understand this as the way the universe works. I don’t really see a need to describe it in terms of God. I don’t see evidence of God. I actually see evidence of a lack of God.
But I’ll shut up now. I know how useful it is for you believers to hear from a non-believer (not at all).
To me, there can’t really be meaning without anyone around the comprehend that meaning. If meaning was so important to God, you’d think that He’d create a universe teaming with life forms—plenty of people to understand the meaning He has created.
Instead, we are the only ones. We are the only ones who see the patterns. We see star systems and galaxies and shapes and beauty. We bring the meaning. Not God.
We see the stunning mechanics of the universe, while the universe itself, sees nothing.
And that’s OK with me.
YOU’VE GOT TO TELL ‘EM! THE INTERNET IS PEOPLE!!
From underpaidgenius (with my emphasis and my links—mouseover for commentary):
“The internet is made of people. People matter. This includes you. Stop trying to sell everything about yourself to everyone. Don’t just hammer away and repeat and talk at people—talk TO people. It’s organic. Make stuff for the internet that matters to you, even if it seems stupid. Do it because it’s good and feels important. Put up more cat pictures. Make more songs. Show your doodles. Give things away and take things that are free. Look at what other people are doing, not to compete, imitate, or compare … but because you enjoy looking at the things other people make. Don’t shove yourself into that tiny, airless box called a brand—tiny, airless boxes are for trinkets and dead people.”
Wait, DON’T shove yourself into a brand? Actually, that goes completely against human psychology—I spent most of my life pledging allegiance to brands—Coca-Cola, Star Trek, Chef Boyardee. I know they’re full of shit, but it’s instinctual to become loyal to brands. It has to do with relying on patterns that simplify our lives and provide security. Sure, I don’t like Starbucks, but I know what I’ll get when I go in there. Just doing what ever you feel like doing as an artist may sound good, but ultimately won’t help your stuff get seen since people won’t know what the hell to make of somebody who seems to be saying and doing something different every day.
This whole attitude essentially encourages us to be a scatterbrained mess.
I DON’T NEED ANY HELP WITH THAT, THANKS.
I mean, all this hippie shit is great, but what about feeding myself? I can’t eat the warm fuzzy feeling I get from creating something or consuming something someone else has created. Selling yourself is what keeps you alive and, in a country like ours with very little original production going on here, selling our intellectual property is what keeps our economy going.
Jesus, we’re screwed.
In the end, can’t we just agree to not take wicked advantage over each other? It’s not charging for our content that’s bad it’s charging too much. My goal is not to get rich. My goal is to tell stories that change the world—but I can’t do that if I’m starving to death.
Politics, Religion, Glenn Beck and the Art of Not Telling the Truth (they’re all connected)
So, I generally try to stay away from even mentioning Glenn “I’m a Loser Baby” Beck, but thanks to his exceptionally disrespectful event today, there really is no point in not helping him with free publicity. Along those lines, here’s a reblog from friendlyatheist:
In a speech Friday night, Beck said he feels like “God dropped a giant sandbag on my head. My role is to wake America up onto the backsliding of principles and values most importantly of God. We are a country of God.”
Usually, I don’t get to political in this blog. But the fact of the matter is that conservatism and theocracy go hand in hand. There is no doubt about it. The historical revisionism, the lies, the propaganda, and the exclusion from public and political life of those who do not share their religious delusions cannot go unchallenged. If there is a time to be outspoken in favor of reality, truth and fact it is now. It is most needed here.
Come out as atheists, donate to secular and skeptical organizations, go cast your vote against the theocrats. Do something. It is your own liberty to live and think freely that are at stake here.
In reason, and in hope…
But, FA, you’re political whether you want to be or not. Religion is a political issue whether you practice one or not. Don’t forget one of the predominant reasons for people to come to America in the first place: to be free of oppression. One type of oppression is religious. Religious freedom is supposed to be guaranteed in the Constitution—it’s every politician’s job to protect your right to worship as you please (which, for many of us is: not at all). So, in speaking out in favor of Atheism, you’re asserting your politics. It’s OK, though. Politics (the way they should be practiced) are good. Alas, most folks think of politics as “the art of spinning the truth to get what you want from people” (silly politicians, that’s advertising). What’s sad is that Beck’s followers are simply not cynical enough.
We atheists are already this cynical, because most of us have left a faith after realizing it was all made up. Believers are just that: Believers. They’ll believe anything you tell them, assuming you also include some stuff they already believe, like Beck does.
I would mind it much less if what Beck was saying was, at least, historically accurate, but he spouts off his own version of history all the time. People are being miseducated by Beck and that harms America, as a whole.
Honestly, I had hoped Beck would come out today and re-enact the climax from the “The Wave" and point out that they were doing just what so many Germans did in WWII. Blindly follow one man’s leadership just because it felt good—so good they didn’t bother questioning him.
But alas, that lesson is still left unlearned by his minions.
So no one should worry about “being political”. These days expressing your opinions on anything outside of popculture is being political because so many politicians seem to be interested in hacking away at our ability to think what we want while so many other politicians seem oblivious to our right to do just that—think freely.
There is no such thing as wrongthinking and America is not a country of God, it is a country of citizens with rights.
"Without scientific progress the national health would deteriorate;" Interesting words from a man you’ve probably never heard of.
Found this while looking for information (ANY INFORMATION) on Ponds and Fleischman*:
Without scientific progress the national health would deteriorate; without scientific progress we could not hope for improvement in our standard of living or for an increased number of jobs for our citizens; and without scientific progress we could not have maintained our liberties against tyranny.
— Vannevar Bush, presidential science adviser in Science: The Endless Frontier, 1945
I’m sure I could write something huge about how unbridled capitalism/free marketeering actually stymies the progress Vannevar Bush said is so necessary—what with Apple, lauded as a hub of innovation, consistently hobbling their mobile products, seemingly as part of a plan to give us something else to buy next year.
Yeah, I could write something huge. ;)
Of course, Vannevar Bush was one of the minds behind the Manhattan Project and he also envisioned one of the earliest versions of the Internet.
And no, he’s not related to George W, George HW, or Prescott Bush—I looked hard for a connection, I really did but ironically only discovered a family connection of my own to one of his best friends. Yep, a distant cousin of mine was involved in the bomb. :( I would have so given him crap at the next family reunion… you know, if he was alive and if I went to family reunions.
*UPDATE: yeah, I figured out that the reason I couldn’t find anything on “Ponds and Fleischman” was because it’s actually “Pons and Fleischman” but when I Googled the first phrase, Google didn’t ask me if I meant “Pons and Fleishman”. GOOGLEFAIL!
I ended up digging through old Time Magazine cover stories to find an article I remember reading back in 1989 to find out how B. Stanley Pons spelled his name.
Some females hit puberty as early as 7—is this a “canary in the mine shaft” kind of thing?
But either ways girls are developing breasts by age 7 or 8 and going through puberty a lot earlier in life..
In the past, I’ve read about how the number of females born goes up during troubled times. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective as it only takes one male to impregnate many females. During times of stability, the birthrate of males goes up.
What if females reaching puberty younger is an evolutionary tactic to defend against an, as yet, unseen instability with humanity? What if humanity, itself, is failing and this is our genetically instinctive attempt to combat that process of failure? Females hitting puberty earlier means they can get pregnant sooner in life. Assuming menopause doesn’t hit earlier, as well, this allows them to extend their child-rearing years, thus giving humanity a better shot at survival.
Is humanity under attack from something that is causing it to fail? I don’t think so. I think the effects of humanity’s internal flaws are starting to be felt on a genetic level.
Too bad one of those internal flaws of humanity is an inability to recognize slowly boiling water.
Remember that story about the frog?
I’m not necessarily pointing at Global Warming, either. We’re facing a lot of challenges that most of humanity is just to frightened to face.
Why are the police and government so afraid of being recorded on video?
The ACLU of Maryland is defending Anthony Graber, who potentially faces sixteen years in prison if found guilty of violating state wiretap laws because he recorded video of an officer drawing a gun during a traffic stop. In a trend that we’ve seen across the country, police have become increasingly hostile to bystanders recording their actions. You can read some examples here, here and here.
However, the scale of the Maryland State Police reaction to Anthony Graber’s video is unprecedented. Once they learned of the video on YouTube, Graber’s parents house was raided, searched, and four of his computers were confiscated. Graber was arrested, booked and jailed. Their actions are a calculated method of intimidation. Another person has since been similarly charged under the same statute.
The wiretap law being used to charge Anthony Graber is intended to protect private communication between two parties. According to David Rocah, the ACLU attorney handling Mr. Graber’s case, “To charge Graber with violating the law, you would have to conclude that a police officer on a public road, wearing a badge and a uniform, performing his official duty, pulling someone over, somehow has a right to privacy when it comes to the conversation he has with the motorist.”
This is obviously not a free country if any citizen is arrested for video recording the actions of the police, whether the police are obviously breaking the law or not.
I’m not sure how to suggest anything but America being a police state after something like this happens.
The next problem I’m having is with the lack of outrage.