07-31-15 3:20  •  Plea For Emotional Intelligence

Celtia: There is lots of scientific evidence for God.

What is it?

Celtia: To me, the evidence we have in science only helps prove God even further, because the evidence has not proven otherwise in a scientific way I find convincing. The evidence has never disproved a soul or a god. It has perhaps suggested it, but there are also scientists and popular theories who uphold the opposite.

I'm asking if there is any science that unbelievers find as convincing evidence against either a soul or a god.

Is there any science that you find as convincing evidence against Satan? If not, do you therefore believe in Satan? If not, why not?

Celtia: I don't drove into that evidence, seeing as I'm not and have never been a Christian and do not follow their form of thinking on this topic. I couldn't prove for and against it. I don't follow it so the interest there is minuet.

Yet, you are asking the atheists to show you scientific proof against your pet deities to justify their lack of belief in them. Perhaps, like you, they don't require scientific proof not to believe...they just "don't drove into that evidence" and "do not follow their form of thinking on this topic."

If it's reasonable for you to not believe in Satan, even without having specific evidence against him, it should be equally reasonable for anyone to not believe in your posited entity simply because "the interest there is minuet."

Celtia: But if they had good scientific evidence supporting it and presented it to me, I would look into it with an unbiased mind.

This specifically describes every atheist I know.

Cowgirl: Again with the "logic" and "evidence"! What about how we feel? Does that mean nothing these days?

What I've realized lately is that we live in a society that discredits anything coming from the emotional/spiritual part of our brains.

Um, are you talking about the United States? The society which invaded Iraq because Saddam Hussein "had WMDs" and "was responsible for 9/11"? The society where a majority of people believe that a Son of God was born of a virgin and died for our sins? The society where a significant portion of the population does not accept that evolution occurred? The society where the majority regularly votes against their own economic self-interest to protect and enhance the interests of billionaires?

I don't know what society you live in, but in my society, the United States, the vast majority of people operate with and are manipulated by the emotional/spiritual part of the brain and wouldn't know logic if it bit them on the cerebral cortex. If this society was capable of anything beyond "emotional/spiritual" thinking there is no way we would have accepted invading Iraq as a reasonable response to 9/11.

Cowgirl: This can't be used as evidence, everyone says, our feelings can't be trusted. What if we get just as much valid information from the emotional part of our brain as we do from the logical part?

Our brains produce all kinds of information, both "emotional" and "logical". Some of it seems to be valid, and some of it doesn't. That is why it is so important to check outside the brain. No matter how logical an argument is, if the premises do not correspond accurately to reality, then the argument is invalid. No matter how deeply an emotional perception is prized, if it can't be confirmed there is no way to determine if it corresponds to anything in reality.

If there is something to the claims that gods, souls, Satan, etc. exist outside of the brain, then the place to look for evidence of those things existing outside the brain is outside the brain.

Cowgirl: What I do think, is that this part of us has been repressed and questioned for so long that we need to learn how to use it again.

Reason just came onto the scene a few short centuries ago, and has already caused an explosion in human understanding and capability. If, prior to that time, people had something "emotional/spiritual" going on that worked, they certainly had nothing to show for it. Their lives were almost always nasty, brutish and short.

Curing disease, creating technology and discovering the nature of space/time are demonstrations that reason and evidence work. They produce. There is nothing to suggest that pre-reason, the emotional/spiritual brain was producing anything that worked better than now, or that people back then knew how to use it in ways that we don't.

So, considering the irrational way we run our society, I don't agree that we are just too logical nowadays. And, considering what human life was like before reason, I don't agree that we need to learn to be that way again.

07-31-15 3:25  •  Forget Science

Celtia: You claim no human knows about gods. But I do know. At least in myself, and on a personal level, I KNOW there IS a God. And a soul.

Who are you to claim you know what no one knows? There is no reason to think that you are better at figuring this out than anyone else. You aren't even checking.

Celtia: Simply because SCIENCE does not know, doesn't mean that I don't know on a personal level.

Forget "science." Bringing up science here is a dodge.

If you "know," then any other person should be able to "know" also. Reality is not available only to Phds through telescopes and microscopes, and it's not available only to you. We are all living right here in it. This isn't rocket science, it is the fundamental nature of the universe, which every person has equal access to.

Celtia: I know because I have lived it, seen it, experienced it. And you and science have not.

This has just got to be the biggest load of exclusive apprehension I have ever seen.

Everyone lives it, sees it, experiences it. We are all here. We are all made of almost the same stuff, in almost the same way, doing almost the same thing, in the same place. We have all lived it, seen it, and experienced it. You are not different.

Any person is capable of deific experience and meaningful fortuity. You are not the only person who has experienced what you describe. It is extremely common among people across all cultures. Some people claim it is Gods, or souls, etc. Some don't.

Simply experiencing this is not making a claim. Attributing it to God is making a claim. As the person making the claim - "This experience was God! And a soul!" the burden of proof is on you. Any person who is not making a claim about it does not have to provide evidence about it. That is the difference.

Celtia: What about you? What EVIDENCE do YOU have against it? You do not know for sure, as science has not been able to disprove it.

Again, forget science. Again, a dodge. This is about everyone.

Have you ever heard of a fundamental right of jurisprudence called "innocent until proven guilty"? It's a good thing our courts do not work in the way you are proposing. Proving innocence - like proving a negative - is basically impossible, and hundreds of years ago people realized that requiring it results in terrible miscarriage of justice.

The onus is not on "science" to "disprove" gods. People do not have to prove another person's claim is wrong. The person making the claim has to prove that it is correct, beyond a reasonable doubt. That is why evidence is required to support your claim and evidence is not required of anyone else. You are the one making the claim, and no one else is.

Celtia: You will never get it, because it's all about perception and personal perspective.

No. What is real is not about perception and personal perspective. Reality is what our perception and perspective is of. It exists independently of humans.

Celtia: What do you mean by "checking"?

Looking outside your head to see if what you think accurately corresponds to what can be observed.

Celtia: How is science a dodge?

"Science" is not participating in this conversation. We are.

The dodge is pretending that I cannot know what you claim to know because I = "science." I am capable of every kind of human perception you are capable of. If you can "know" something outside your thoughts, the others in this discussion should be able to "know" it also, just like everybody can know that the sun is shining overhead.

Celtia: Right, and "Fundamental nature of the universe" isn't down to the science.

The fundamental nature of the universe precedes science.

Celtia: What kind of evidence do you use to help found your beliefs?

I avoid belief, I find no use for it.

Celtia: I supported my claim with my personal experience and the scientific research.

Your personal experience is not proof of anything if it cannot be confirmed. I have no clue what the evidence you have provided is because you have ignored my request to name it. Please say what the evidence is and I will consider it.

Celtia: So, what about YOUR claim that there isn't one?

Where did I make that claim?

Celtia: One persons perception of reality is completely different from another's.

There is no reason to think this is true. If our perceptions were completely different, there is no way that we could run an international airport. It takes too much consensus understanding of the nature and relationships of matter, space and time.

Anyone who can catch a flight on time and travel to another city shares enough perception of reality with every other human to perform an extremely complex task.

If you can cook from a recipe, drive in traffic, or laugh at the jokes in a stand-up comedy routine, you share so much perception of such similar nature to your fellow humans that you can coordinate a tremendously complicated task in an extremely similar way. There is no way we could operate so similarly to each other if we did not have similar perception and understanding.

We may differ on matters of taste and preferences, but humans are all made with nearly the exact same set of tools to perceive and operate. There is no reason to think that you have some kind of sensory apparatus which is not present in every other standard human toolkit. There is no evidence of it.

Celtia: What we can see through reading scientific journals and magazines is, scientists from around the world have completely different perceptions of this reality.

Wrong. The reason science works is because consensus about reality can be achieved through study. Is there any disagreement that objects in earth's gravity well fall at 32.2'/sec²-drag? Is there any disagreement that the third element is lithium?

There are plenty of different ideas at the frontiers of science, where no one really knows what is going on. But once discoveries are made, and published and replicated and subjected to peer review...once they become understood, the disagreements fall away and consensus - a precise description of what is occurring - is forged.

There are scientific disagreements only in the unknown. The known is very well agreed upon.

Celtia: Therefore, as a collective, as a whole, we still don't really KNOW yet what is real and what isn't real in regards to this topic.

That is why you don't know.

Celtia: Who are we to judge what perceptions of reality are right or wrong?

We are humans, who desperately need to understand how to live in reality or we will quickly die. We are absolutely required by nature to find out what perceptions of reality are accurate enough to work. We find out by checking.

You don't "judge" which perceptions of reality are right or wrong. You check.

If you can't tell by checking, you don't know is the reality.

Celtia: No one can share someone else's exact same perception, at the exact same time as someone else is experiences it.

Perceptions can be very, very similar, and anything people do as a group requires that they be.

Plenty of people have had experiences which they describe very similarly to yours. Some of them draw the conclusion that the experiences are experiences of Gods and souls. Others do not. It is not known if the experiences correspond to anything outside the human brain.

Celtia: Another person can try to UNDERSTAND and be EMPATHETIC with that perception, but they cannot perceive it exactly as said other person is perceiving it.

Are you seriously saying that God, the source and controller of the universe, and souls, the source and essense of personhood, are so confined to your specific, exact perception that no other person can ever do anything to experience them?

Have they no independent existence at all which can be observed? Is there is nothing there that another person - not a scientist, just a normal person - can see for themselves?

Cowgirl: What if you actually DO create your own reality, therefore the only evidence can ONLY come from YOU?

There is an entire universe of evidence to the contrary. We seem to be inside a universe which pre-existed humans for billions of years. Everywhere we look are processes already in motion.

Our every action for survival suggests otherwise as well. If we don't directly interact with the environment outside us, and actively insert parts of into ourselves, we quickly die.

If you are truly creating everything about this reality, including these words, how could you have not known what they say five minutes ago?

As Sheldon Cooper said on Big Bang, "You know how I know I'm not in the Matrix? If I was, the food would be better."

Cowgirl:Then all this "show me physical evidence" and "reality only happens outside your brain" debate would be pointless.

So would eating. Yet, we eat.

07-25-15 7:20  •  The Business Man and the Living Wage

NerdyPants: Not everyone can be a doctor, a lawyer, or a CEO. We need clerks and dishwashers. How does that mean they should get paid slave wages, just because their jobs are "less important"?

LizFan: Elizabeth Warren said this:

"There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own. Nobody. You built a factory out there - good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory... Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea - God bless! Keep a hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along."

Wanda: Elizabeth Warren has obviously never known any of the pillars of our community known as the business man!

Yes, the altruistic business man, selflessly working longer and harder than everyone else, taking all the risks, all to provide hundreds of families with livelihood. Um, no.

Wanda: They ARE "paying it forward" every single day - plus weekends and evenings!

No. Paying someone in exchange for increasing your profits is not doing them a favor, or giving them a gift, or doing something nice for them. It is increasing your profits. No niceness required.

Wanda: It takes a huge effort to launch something - long before there are any employees who got educated or any roads needed.

So? Lots of things take huge effort on the part of individuals, like recovering from a serious illness, or raising up a special needs kid. The business man is not doing more than other people.

Wanda: That business owner is carrying on his shoulders the families and lives of all his employees every day.

...which he can dump at any time it becomes profitable to do so, and frequently does.

Wanda: All of his employees should treat him with gratitude and respect for his continuing to give them a place to earn their paycheck!

Give!? He could replace all of them with robots and computers as soon as it becomes proftible, and frequently does. Do you think the robots and computers should treat him with gratitude and respect for "giving them" a place to make his profit?

Wanda: And let's not forget this enormous factor: if a business fails, the owner does not get to simply move on to some other job -- he has lost everything: all those hours and years of his life invested, all the money he poured in with the hope of giving his family a better life.

This is the stupidest part yet. Everyone who loses a job can lose everything, all those hours and years of their life invested with the hope of giving their family a better life. How do you come by the idea that business owners get this more? Business owners don't have more to lose than other human beings.

Every single person working for money, from owner on down, is in it for the money, to serve personal desire for money first. Otherwise they would be doing it for free.

That is not a problem if you acknowledge it straight out. But pretending that the business owner is a troddendown hero, who slaves harder and longer and risks more, is bullcrap. Lots of people work really long and really hard and are at risk of losing everything. The business owner is not doing more or at greater risk than regular people.

Regular people don't owe gratitude to their employers for "helping" them. If anything it is mutual, and those at the top owe as much or more gratitude to those below them, who work long and hard for less compensation, but who are creating the actual products and services which keep them in plush offices.

Even better, forget pretending it's about "gratitude" and use business models that pay people who work a week enough to live for a week.

Wanda: You have never known a business man! I've known dozens and they were all exactly as you describe, selflessly working long hours and risking everything for everyone else.

You have no idea what they are going through, what they are risking every day of their lives. If the business fails, then the employees merely go find another employer, they are not faced with having lost everything they spent years investing in!

Since when are failed business owners prevented from getting jobs? They can "merely go find another employer" as much as the next guy. What is stopping them?

Business owners are not hurt more by losing everything and starting over than anyone else. Sheesh.

The point is, we should not be protecting business owners from having to get jobs by letting them run businesses which cannot find the profit to pay workers a living wage.

Wanda: My comment was addressing Elizabeth Warren's contemptuous put-down of people who build up businesses.

It was not a put down, it was an explanation for why businesses owe taxes. That is specifically what is referred to by "taking a hunk and paying it forward," and why she refers to tax-funded services like roads and firemen.

There is no way a business owner has "already paid it forward" enough to make her statement incorrect. Businesses need safe environments to do business in and taxes are how they pay for it.

Wanda: And definitely yes, businessmen are providing for hundreds of families.

And meanwhile, what are the workers are doing, just sitting around while the owners provide for their families?

No. The people providing for the workers' families are the workers. THEY are providing for THEMSELVES by doing the work and getting paid for it. The owner is no more "providing" for them than they are "providing" for him. It is a mutual exchange in pursuit of personal interest, and the owner is no more selfless or wonderful to participate in the dance than they are.

And while you dish about how much worse the owner has it than the worker, you are ignoring a very unequal power relationship. In exchange for subsistence, in addition to making the owner a profit and providing him their time and skill, workers also have to give the owners their complete obedience. This relationship can be exploited and very often has been. That is why workers require protection.

Wanda: Of course the business owner can dump them any time, what does that have to do with it?

I wonder why business men are so much more concerned about carrying people in China these days?

Wanda: And, is there a problem with "profit" ???

There is a problem with hoarded profit. In functioning economies, slightly more money flows upward, from purchaser to owner. When the profits are hoarded, a large percentage of the money in society gets sucked up to the top and gets stuck there. Money has to be spent to be of any value whatsoever.

One of the best ways to spend it is for businesses to pay people who work good wages for their work. This put lots of money back into the bottom of the system where it will be spent, again and again, going from bottom to top, creating value at every level. This helps the workers, AND creates a vibrant business environment, giving people money to spend on products, eventually flowing back into the pockets of the owners. Win-win.

Wanda: Where are those business models?? A business pays what it can afford. If it pays too low, it loses workers once they have enough training and experience to seek a better job. That is built in to the free market system.

Only in a labor shortage. In the United States since the 1970's two forces have changed things. One is, women entered the workforce in large numbers. Another is that technology and outsourcing have allowed productivity to skyrocket while worker rolls are slashed. This had resulted in a labor surplus, where employers can and do find any way they can to pay as little as possible. When there are fewer jobs than workers, workers are forced to accept any conditions because they have to. Only our collective action, through regulation, can prevent worse exploitation.

The "free market" only works at about the level of fruit market and below. In complex global technological societies, we have to take needs other than profit into consideration in order to prevent exploitation.

Wanda: Yes, I said GIVE! Do you imagine that his employees have any RIGHT to have him run a business so they have a place to work?? He does not owe the world his effort, his ingenuity, his time!

Oh boo hoo. If he doesn't like it he should get a job.

07-23-15 8:20  •  Checking About the Sacrifice

BeFromTex: A sacrifice is required for the atonement of sins.

There is no reason to think this is true.

BeFromTex: How did you come to this conclusion?

I checked.

BeFromTex: Where?


BeFromTex: I don't feel that your mocking is adding anything to this discussion.

Since I am not mocking, I would say the fact that you think I am is actually very illustrative.

However I am being perfectly serious. I once heard someone say that "sacrifice" is required for the atonement of "sins." I wanted to see if this is true, so I decided to check. I examined reality...nature, human behavior, morality, functional systems, even transcendent states of consciousness. Nowhere in reality is there any evidence to support the claim that "sacrifice is required for the atonement of sins." There is no cause-and-effect relationship between them that can be observed. All that can be seen of this is just people saying it.

Well, people can say anything. Some things people say are clearly wrong. And some other people are saying some things that are completely different. So, people saying something is not a good reason to think it is true.

So, there is no reason to think the statement is true.

07-23-15 8:20  •  Raising Kids Up To Be...

Cynda: Atheists indoctrinate their children into their belief system just as Christians do.

Valleria: I think most parents regardless of religions would prefer their children adopt a similar world view to them.

I only want my children to be right. If that turns out to be dissimilar from my world view, power to them for figuring it out better! In fact, that would be great for me, because if they were really right and could show it, I could change my incorrect worldview to match the more accurate one. Win - win!!

Valleria: It's assumed that people think they are right which is why they hold a particular worldview.

Rightness does not come from assuming or thinking. It comes from checking. If people "think" they are right, but they are not checking, whence the "rightness"?

Valleria: I'm also fairly certain you have a dogmatic stance on Atheism.

What is it?

Valleria: I don't see how you're willing to change your stance.

I am always willing to change my stance to the stance that is more accurate.

07-22-15 6:24  •  Alternate Religous Styles

HoneyBeeBee: What do you do if you don't believe in God and religion? How do you live?

I think it's really important to separate "belief in god" and "religion." One of the world's major religions, Buddhism, does not even posit a god. It is possible to get many of the great benefits of religion without having to have "faith" in unsubstantiated claims.

HoneyBeeBee:Are there any traditions or rituals in your life comparable to a religious or spiritual practice?

At our house we have a regular mindfulness practice, participate in fun rituals, and live a very "spiritual" life, without involving supernaturalism. We do this by paying close attention to all the beauty and love and intricacy that surrounds us, and how amazing it all is, and how fortunate we are, and how wonderful it is that we live at a time when our investigations have yielded so much knowledge we can use.

It creates a sense of appreciation and wonder which makes every day feel like a closely-lived adventure. Carpe Diem!

Let me know if you have any other questions about alternative religious styles. Thanks HoneyB!

07-12-15 10:01  •  Atheism and Activism

MuppetMama: Atheism is a belief system! Atheists say it's not, but it is.

If you have an agenda, then it must be fueled by something...most reasonably, a belief system.

The agenda of activist atheists is the same agenda as any activist - to raise awareness. A lot of social progress results from that kind of activism.

MuppetMama: Mmmm...to raise awareness or to convert?

I don't really see the difference. You could say that through their activism, the Suffragettes "converted" this country to a nation where women have the vote. It was a change in how we thought and did things - for the better.

MuppetMama:Wouldn't you consider me to have achieved progress, or to have become more educated, if I were to come off of my Possibilian-with-Christian-leanings beliefs and finally just admit there's no God?

Wow, talk about agendas. I have no clue what this name means you are claiming, so I have no idea if your claims are accurate.

However I would say that there is plenty of evidence to show that human progress involves creating more accurate understanding. I would definitely consider anyone who is increasing their accuracy to be making progress.

MuppetMama: But this all started with the claim that atheists don't care what others believe. And I don't buy that, on the whole.

I would say that regular atheists probably don't care what others believe any more than anyone else, but that atheist activists care what people believe the way that activists always care what people think, because it matters.

The vast majority of atheists are probably not activists, but the few that are stand out, largely because what they are saying is a challenge to the existing establishment.

IllinoisMom: I'm curious if you would consider yourself an atheist activist.

I am definitely an activist on a variety of fronts. But, though we share common cause, I do not consider myself an atheist. I am not at all concerned with the existential question of gods, which I find to be a distraction.

In the context of this discussion, I am an activist for reason.

IllinoisMom: You don't consider yourself atheist? That surprises me.

Do you hold yourself open to the possibility of a higher power?

Like what?

IllinoisMom: Or don't care?

I think I would have to know what that means before I could decide if I care or not.

IllinoisMom: I'm just trying to find out where you stand when you say you are not concerned with the existential question of gods.

There is no reason to think the descriptions of gods from Christianity (or Islam, or Hinduism, etc) are accurate. They are not derived from examination of actual gods. There is nothing that can be examined from which to obtain a description of gods.

That which cannot be examined and is generating no discernible effects is not particularly important to describe. After there is something to examine or some effect to discern would be the time to decide if it is a god or not.

In the meantime, what is important is examining the veracity of the claims people make and act on. Are they accurate descriptions or inaccurate? By how much? That really matters.

IllinoisMom:I think I get it, thank you!

07-11-15 3:01  •  United States, Hell Hole

Lexi: If God destroys the U.S., it's going to be everything as a whole that we as a country have allowed, that our government has allowed, just the absolute hell hole this country has become.

"Hell-hole"? The United States? Compared to where?

Lexi: it may look good on the outside, but just visit towns in Appalachia. it's like stepping into a third world country. the entire town is people living in shacks, under homes made of tarps. The librarian makes peanut butter sandwhiches for the kids out of money from her own pocket. The parents are on drugs.

So, poverty.

Do you think poverty makes the United States a hell hole? Do you think other countries with less poverty are less hellish?

Lexi: every country has its share of problems. but when i think of the word hell, in regards to a country or specific place, i think of a place where people live without the basic needs...

I think you are selling the United States short in this regard. We are doing a lot to try to meet the basic needs of everyone, and are keeping most from abject poverty. We have social services in place where people can get help. We have social security and medicare systems to keep our elders from the kind of poverty they experience in other countries. We have piecemeal systems to try to get everyone some kind of health care regardless of their finances. We provide every citizen with a basic education.

Obviously it isn't good enough to eliminate poverty, but if every country has its problems, then percentages and severity make all the difference. If most of the people in a country are living in relative peace, comfort and security, with more than they need of everything, and even the poor are having most of their basic needs met, and even the poorest are not starving, is that country really a "hell hole" of poverty?

I would say no, we are experiencing nothing like the suffering in the levels of hell it is possible to descend to below this.

On the other hand, there are countries with better social policies who have even less poverty, even better health, etc. We could change our policies a bit and have the same better results they are getting.

Lexi: to clarify, i think any country where the government is allowed to trample on its citizens, allows poverty and violence to rule, is either a hell hole, or heading there.

Considering that since the founding of this country we have enfranchised women, blacks and sexual minorities, our trajectory seems to be in the general direction of less trampling rather than more. I also do not agree that we allow poverty or violence to "rule." The United States may not be "#1," but we are generally on the good end of lists which measure quality of life.

Lexi: Are we there yet, maybe not, but what's going to happen if things don't get better? Where do you see our country in 5, 10, 20 years?

Thomas Piketty is an economist who has written a book called Capital in the 21st Century. He has analyzed global economic trends and observed that our civilization is currently structured to grow private wealth faster than economies. He expressed this in the equation r>g.

What r>g means is that as private power grows, people use it to structure their governments to increase their wealth and power. The result is a downward spiral which causes wealth to become generationally entrenched, and it is not clear how democracy could survive. Despite our freedoms, we have drifted into a system where the will of the wealthiest is expressed legislatively almost all the time, and where the will of the people is legislated almost none of the time. If this continues, in 5, 10, 20 years we will have oligarchy, and end any chance we had to use our collective effort to alleviate poverty, to educate and to enfranchise.

The good news is that there is still time to change it. Some fairly minor changes to our social policies could return us to a better balance between our capital and social needs.

If you would like to support a change that would really protect the United States from becoming a hell hole, support publicly financed elections and efforts to reverse Citizens United. Unlimited anonymous campaign donations are poison to democracy.

07-10-15 2:12  •  Is Nice Christianity OK?

MountainMama: Not all Christians hate gays!

The other day our pastor asked us to "keep fighting the good fight" against what is going on in our country right now. In my heart I thought, what if showing kindness and compassion to gays is my way of fighting the good fight? Why does that make me a "bad" Christian?

It makes me sad and in my opinion leads to division in faith and in humanity.

I am really glad your version of Christianity is so much nicer, but doing nice things because of gods is still doing things because of gods.

What is causing the division is trying to base understanding on supernatural claims. Whether your nice claims or their mean ones, it will never work, because supernatural claims can be anything. They can't be checked. There is no way to establish accuracy. People just believe the ones they like. No other criteria.

The only way to get unity is to share accurate understanding of reality, because it is how it is.

Alpaca: If someone lives their life filled with love, joy, empathy, compassion, tolerance, non judgment, humbleness....many of the things we associate with Jesus, who cares if they are doing it based on something we don't believe in?

The truth matters.

Alpaca: You know I am no fan of religion in general but when people use it to bring about positive change in their lives and the lives of others, then they can believe what they want.

Of course they can. That doesn't mean it's a good idea.

First of all, there is no evidence that the ideas of Christianity are especially effective at bringing about positive change, or creating joy, or teaching love your neighbor, or anything. Christians commit suicide and adultery and crime at the same or higher rates as everybody else. There is no reason to think the happiness or helpfulness you see in others is coming from Christianity - most people have it, regardless of belief or lack thereof, and it is part of almost every cultural and religious tradition.

In fact, considering the horrible history of violence and persecution in Christianity, it probably qualifies as one of the worst systems for teaching "love and joy" we have.

Secondly, Christianity is presenting a seriously distorted and inaccurate picture of reality which is leading to serious dysfunction in our society. At the forefront is a misunderstanding and a mistrust of science, which has contributed to our dithering on climate action for decades. Even worse is a misunderstanding and mistrust of reason, the only system we have that actually works for creating accurate understanding that can be used to dramatically increase our ability.

When reason is applied to supernatural claims, they evaporate like the conjecture they always were. So, to maintain the claims, reason must be abandoned. As a result we are not using reason for anything, ignoring obvious problems and obvious solutions, flailing about in needless conflict over nothing. It's no coincidence that lower levels of religiosity correlate with higher levels of societal health. We could use some of that kind of health.

Lastly, everyone just "believing what they want" results in forever irreconcilible conflict. There can be no agreement or compromise when the truth and what works are not considered. So the battles over nothing rage on and on.

There is no reason to think our society would be any less joyous or compassionate or tolerant if it were less dominated by irrational fears of a bloody guy hanging from a cross. On the contrary, we would very likely be more so.

Humans have wasted enough time and effort and resources and guilt and anguish and thought, rattling bones over phantasms. It's time to grow up and put our effort into systems that work.

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