Thursday, January 29, 2015

Quotes of the Day and thoughts on those quotes, in Which I disagree with E. O. Wilson

 Yuval Noah Haran is the author of "Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind". When asked what sets humans apart from other species he said:

 "Our unique ability to invent fictions and then believe them."

 You might think he would give religion as an example of an invented fiction that humans then believe in but, no..."Money", he said. Haran points out that money doesn't actually exist. The paper dollar has no intrinsic value in fact. Neither does that number on your bank statement. There aren;t even paper dollars sitting in a vault somewhere that exist in that case. That number on your bank statement only has value if you believe it has value. It is a fiction that exists and has an effect only if we believe in it! 

I had not thought of it that way, having been conditioned by my upbringing to count my pennies as having actual value. My childhood was enough years back that the penny of that day did in fact have value because it was actually made of copper. Not true of today's coin. After thinking about this, I have to conclude that Haran did in fact give one of the major religions as his example. The one universal religion shared across every sect is money.

Now enter E. O. Wilson who says,  "I'm NOT an atheist but religion should be eliminated!"

"Humans everywhere have a strong tendency to wonder about whether they're being looked over by a god or not. Practically every person ponders whether they're going to have another life. These are the things that unite humanity.
"This transcendent searching has been hijacked by the tribal religions. So I would say that for the sake of human progress, the best thing we could possibly do would be to diminish, to the point of eliminating, religious faiths. But certainly not eliminating the natural yearnings of our species or the asking of these great questions."

E. O. Wilson International Business Times Story

Wilson says that he is not an atheist, he is a scientist. I think we're playing on semantics here but I get his point. A truly thoughtful person understands the difference between saying, "since there is no evidence for the existence of something then it must not exist" and saying, "there is no scientific evidence so while I think it is most unlikely, there is always the possibility that the thing in question exists." The difference between science and religion is the difference between "think" and "believe". Back to Wilson's observations:
"...every tribe, no matter how generous, benign, loving and charitable, nonetheless looks down on all other tribes. What's dragging us down is religious faith."
Let's note that each of the three major religious faiths in today's world has as its foundation, what is called in the Christian version, The Old Testament.  All three versions are mostly identical except for minor differences and all three call for killing those who don't share the "One true faith". Think about that. You might look up the definition of irony while you're thinking. It's different from sarcasm but springs from another distinctly human trait that not all humans share, unfortunately.

Now usually when E. O. Wilson speaks I listen...And when my opinion differs from his I usually work on changing my position but not in this case. Wilson wants to replace religion with science. I think that idea neglects a most basic human trait. It is not only as Haran says that humans invent fictions and then believe them...It is that we MUST believe them. It is in our DNA at this point. Even mine!

I personally have looked at my religious tradition and find that while there are truly lovely and poetic aspects of it that I dearly love, there is in fact absolutely no evidence whatsoever that its tenets were given to a small middle eastern nomadic tribe above all other humans on the planet by a supernatural entity. None! Yet it and thousands of other forms of the belief in the supernatural exist and thrive, regardless of the incredible suffering they bestow on humans, both individually and as a whole.

What to do?

Wilson wants to replace science with religion. I think that's a noble idea that would work nicely if there were no humans involved. The human brain as it is now constructed must have a religion. It is obvious that the ones we have now are miserable failures, with emphasis on "miserable". I conclude that we need a great new progressive religion that is not based on the contradictory , bloody, and murderous Old Testament but on scientific thinking coupled with kindness toward others and reverence for the great natural systems of our planet which allow our survival. It was kindness, after all, that was the great simplified message of Jesus. A new gospel must be written and proselytized or human civilization will vanish from planet earth. As it is we are headed toward a great showdown between religious empires. Either one of them will triumph and the humankind will end in environmental destruction. Or they will all destroy each other in a more immediate weapon formulated Armageddon.

I hereby call for a new Council of Nicea to write the new religion. The old testament must have the stories of how supernatural beliefs were used to drive murder and war (Hitler claim he was doing Jesus' work in ridding the world of Jews, for instance). The evils of the "one true religion" must be demonstrated in children's fables. Our history abounds with morality plays that show the evils of organized religion, such as the Christianity justified extermination of native Americans and the Old Testament justified enslavement of Africans. These new gospels must be written with kindness and forgiveness..."They know not what they do"...."Go and sin no more!"

Above all we must understand that the greatest act of kindness toward one another is given in the care of our Earth. The Earth has been in it's current existence for roughly 4.5 Billion years...Mankind for less than 250 Thousand. As things look now we are in our last millenia unless we do something.Mankind needs religion. Let us be the creators this time and build a new one that won't fail us as all the others before have done. Let us create a new religion best said in the line;

"I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together"

Let us create a new religion.
Let us revere fact, and science, and critical thinking.
Let us act in kindness toward others as ourselves.
Let us write new songs to sing.
Let us know that the ultimate kindness to others is caring for the Earth and its great systems that sustain our lives.
Let us face the knowledge that this will be hard.
Let us replace believing with thinking.

After all, this is simply love.

Steve





Friday, January 16, 2015

Crockett Buzz for 1-16-15


Kelsey files bill to block state health exchange

Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, and Rep. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin, have filed legislation that would block the creation of a state health exchange in the event a federal court rules that tax credits under the Affordable Care Act are available only on state exchanges.
Senate Bill 72 is designed to prevent “Tennessee from operating any ObamaCare exchanges in the future,” Kelsey said in a statement.
The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in King vs. Burwell — a case thatchallenges the use of tax subsidies on the federal exchange under the ACA — on March 4.
The central question in the case is whether health insurance on federal or state exchanges is eligible for tax incentives or whether tax incentives — which make insurance affordable for about 121,000 people in Tennessee — are only available on state exchanges. LINK (Subscription)

"Humanity Has Slapped Nature in the Face" So Sayeth The Pope

Well this is just great. The Study says we're screwed and the Pope says our leaders are chicken bleep.
Almost half of the processes that are crucial to maintaining the stability of the planet have become dangerously compromised by human activity. That is the view of an international team of 18 researchers who provide new evidence of significant changes in four of the nine systems which regulate the resilience of the Earth.



Pope Francis on Global Warming ..."There is a lack of courage in our leaders today"

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Crockett Buzz 1-15-15

Today in Tennessee History:

In 1781, Freeland's Station in Davidson County is attacked by 40-50 Native Americans. In 1883, William Brimmage Bate is sworn in as Governor. During his administration, the state debt problem was resolved. Bate was the first Confederate general to become Governor of Tennessee.

McCormick says legislators will OK $300M in VW incentives

Bill: 12-hour wait after domestic violence mandatory

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Insurance News Net: "The New Senate Majority Leader is Clueless"

Interesting that the newsletter for the Insurance Industry featured this piece:


Imagine what a more responsible leader of "coal country" would do. (Senator Mitch)McConnell could easily go to the president and demand a major program to transform the region, a Tennessee-Valley-Authority-sized program that would make coal country a center for manufacturing windmills and solar panels and other renewable sources of energy. He could demand funds for rebuilding the region's energy infrastructure, for investing in its schools, for retraining its workers. He could argue that any just transition must include a real promise of jobs - with the government as the employer of last resort if necessary. He could demand investment in new hospitals and public health facilities, both to care for the miners afflicted from their work in the mines and to be a source of employment and good health in the future. He could be the leader who launches a long overdue renaissance for the region, rather than trying to hang on desperately to its no longer sustainable past.

 But of course to do that, McConnell would have to represent the common good of his constituents rather than the special interests - the oil and coal companies - that helped pay for his campaign.

Insurancenewsnet.com

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ten Commandments?

A good friend linked to an article titled "The Atheist Ten Commandments". I consider myself a "Damfino" rather than the usual labels of agnostic or atheist. Some folks differentiate between the two, but linguistically they are the same word, "a" meaning not or without, and "theist" and "gnostic" relating to "god", and in fact meaning without any of the three to five thousand gods currently being claimed by the earth's various cultures. I personally find the question, "To god, or not to god?" irrelevant. No one can know the unknowable, so what is really important here? Why should one try to be a good person? I reject the idea that we will be judged in some supernatural court after we die as a reason for requiring certain behaviors. Rather I think we are all on a search here, and anybody who claims to "know" is fooling themselves and wants to fool the rest of us as well. I profoundly disagree with the imposition of religious tenets upon others. That seems nothing short of evil to me. What we should be doing is coming together and discussing how we should live in order to give the most of us a leg up in "the pursuit of happiness".

With that in mind and pleading with you to understand that this is a work in progress, I have edited the linked "commandments" into what I call,

Goals of Living

1. Be open-minded and be willing to alter your understandings with new evidence.

2. Strive to understand what is most likely to be true, not to believe and justify what you wish to be true.

3. Know that the scientific method is the most reliable way of understanding the natural world. Learn to think critically and face the truths you discover with personal honesty.

4. Accept control over your own body and leave others' to their own choices. You are challenged to not become a burden to others by your actions.

5. Consider that religion has nothing whatsoever to do with being a good person or living a full and meaningful life. You may make your ideas and arguments known but you may not impose your beliefs on others.

6. Be mindful of the consequences of all your actions and recognize that you must take responsibility for them. Your quest for happiness should include doing the least damage, creating the most good, and helping others with their own quest for happiness.

7. Treat others as you would want them to treat you, and can reasonably expect them to want to be treated. Think about their perspective.

8. Accept the responsibility to consider others, including future generations.

9. Consider that here is no one correct way to live, but all good ways of living promote the well being of all other living things as well as ourselves.

10. Leave the world a better place than you found it.

I can certainly add more or condense what I've written. I'll read these again often and do just that when and if I can perceive any value in doing so. Please feel free to write your own versions.