11-29-15 8:02House Votes to De-Fund Planned Parenthood

Olive: Did you hear? The House has voted to de-fund Planned Parenthood.

It's about time! I really don't think God is for funding abortions.

That's not what He told me. But, why drag God into it?

Promulgating the idea that God would frown on a woman for her choice is causing an unbelievable amount of unnecessary suffering. It breaks my heart.

Olive: The government should not have ANY HAND in this.

The government is us. Of course we should be helping our sisters in need, with what they have decided they need, just as we would expect our sisters to help us, and yet still let us make our own choices.

Access to safe, legal abortion is absolutely vital to a moral society and to women's equal rights. It is the norm in all the prosperous democracies because the alternatives are truly horrific. It is our obligation to spare our sisters the horror.

Olive: Other organizations raise their own money and are funded by the people that support what they do.

Planned Parenthood does raise a lot of money. They regularly canvas our household for support and we contribute when we can. However voluntary donations are far from enough. The health care needs of women are monumental and meeting them is vitally important. The success of society rests on the health and well-being of the women in the society.

Women have a large number of specific reproductive issues throughout our lives. We are blessed by the technology and medicine and ethics that we have evolved to help women survive our reproductive years, and decide for ourselves how many children we will have. That blessing should be available to each and every woman in our society, not just those with money.

We have an obligation to make sure that blessing reaches all of our sisters in need.

11-29-15 11:34Not So Virgin Birth

Selma:"Virgin Births" were common in ancient religions, from the Greeks to the Egyptians to the Pagans. It was a common way to make the birth of a hero figure Extra Special.

Plus, in the original language the word "virgin" just translates as "unmarried woman."

So, Jesus wasn't really born of a virgin. The miracle doesn't hold up.

I had a conversation with my mom a few years ago. I said, "Born of a virgin? Really? You don't honestly think that's true, do you?"

She said, "It could be true. You know, you don't have to have actual sex to get pregnant, it sometimes happens from heavy petting if you just get real close..."

I said, "Is that what Christianity is claiming? That Joseph and Mary were into heavy petting and Joe accidentally got Mary pregnant without sex?"

"Well, no..."

There probably were - and are - "virgins" getting pregnant from time to time. There is no reason to think it has anything to do with gods.

Velma: Just another hateful anti-Christian post!

Selma:Sharing a different perspective on a story is not hateful.

Christianity does not seem to be true. Pointing this out is not hateful, it is necessary.

Velma: But being condensending and calling others who believe this stupid, ignorant or dumb for believing this is not sharing a different perspective.

How do you suggest people discuss the fact that Christianity does not seem to be true?

Velma: You can have your beliefs that it is not true. I am ok with that. And ok having a discussion on why you believe what you do. But...

Great! Let's get started.

I didn't say I don't believe it is true. I said, Christianity does not seem to be true. Even people who think it is true can do nothing to establish that it is. Establishment is where seeming to be true comes from. The accuracy of true statements can be established.

No matter what you personally think, you have to see that this lack of establishment is going to cause a lot of problems.

People have no means at all to judge the accuracy of the claims they are making about gods, the afterlife, etc. The claims could be completely wrong. They could be ancient superstitions indistinguishable from the other ancient superstitions. They can be, and are, mutually exclusive. They can be, and are in the case of Christianity, cruel and exclusionary.

So, what are we as a society to do about the fact that we have these huge institutions, which shape the very worldview of millions, that are mutually exclusive and do not correspond to observable reality and seem to be ancient folktales?

The more we understand about how reality really works, the less accurate the ancient tribal descriptions appear. Yet, people want to be free to continue making claims, without anyone ever being accountable for the accuracy of the claims.

This lack of accountability is a big problem. The difference between the supernatural claims and what we can observe and establish as actual truth is creating a lot of error. How can this error be addressed?

11-03-15 9:05In a Nutshell

Quickbooks: Basically politics is killing religion. My son doesn't understand why religious people don't believe in global warming, evolution, or dinosaurs, so he thinks they are flat-out nuts.

MomtoFive: I'm Christian and believe in global warming, dinosaurs and evolution. Majority of my Christian friends believe the same thing. To paint all religious folks as nuts based on the beliefs of a minority few is ridiculous.

Most Christians I know understand global warming and dinosaurs. But, they also believe things which do not seem to be true, like that people thousands of years ago were writing for gods.

It's not the fringe beliefs that make Christianity problematic. It's the core beliefs.

MomtoFive: So are all religions problematic then? Judaism and Islam for one wrote for a higher power. What about Buddhism?

Great questions MomtoFive, thanks for asking.

I would say that all unsubstantiated claims of truth are problematic. The Abrahamic faiths are, as you say, all three based on unsubstantiated claims and are problematic to that extent.

As for Buddhism, it has a tendency to pick up local beliefs as it spreads, so it has sects making all manner of claims. But the basics of Buddhism do not contain supernatural posits about gods, afterlives, prophets, scriptures, etc. The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold path are just advice from a human about how to minimize suffering.

So I would say that the problematic part of religions - unsubstantiated claims of truth - lie at the heart of the Abrahamic Faiths (and Hinduism, etc.), while are somewhat more peripheral to Buddhism.

Religion is far from the only place where unsubstantiated claims are problematic, btw. They are problematic everywhere they occur, in business and government and politics too.

That said, I don't think religion (or business, or government or poltics) are a problem. They are systems. They fail when the distance between what they are claiming and the reality is very great. The point of truth, and of reason, is to make the distance between what we think, and what is, as small as possible. This allows us to base action on accurate understanding. Substantiation is what makes it all work.

Religion arose because it serves a lot of important purposes for humans. It allowed us to use narratives to explain where we were from and what we were supposed to do. It created social and personal cohesion by tying together facts and values, what this all is with what is important.

I think we could still use narrative traditions which provide cohesion to understand facts and values. But we understand so much more about facts and values than the people who lived thousands of years ago. Why not have religions and philosophies based on what can be substantiated to be true? The true stories we are just beginning to understand about what we are, where we come from and what has value are better, not least because they can be shown to be accurate and to grow in accuracy with time.

There is really no reason humanity should be stuck with the unsubstantiated claims of legacy religions from thousands of years ago. We could do better.

Thanks again Mommato5kids!

MomtoFive: The majority also needs to do a better job of "shouting down" the crazies who make all of Christianity look bad.

It is the basic tenets of Christianity which make Christianity look bad. "Belive in Jesus or you don't go to Heaven" is not good, or believable.

09-30-15 10:47Truth and God

Me, originally:

When I use the word true I am using it as a description of the accuracy of a statement. A statement is true if it corresponds accurately to what it describes.

Agree or Disagree?

Patricia: Honestly? Truth is up for grabs.

The only "true" things anyone can agree on are indisputable facts like "milk will go bad if it gets warm for too long" or "the ice will melt if it gets above a certain temp." Those are a couple of lame examples, but you get the idea.

Actually I think your examples are perfect. Those types of examples may be the "only" things people agree on. But "only" the things that can be agreed upon comprise the sum total of all certain human knowledge.

What we agree to be true includes the incredible knowledge we have gained about the universe since the Renaissance which has transformed our lives from endless toil and danger to modern comfort and safety.

Millions of lives are saved every day by important understanding of truth like "milk will go bad if it gets warm for too long" and why. The amazing machine you are reading this on exists, in part, because of information like "ice will melt at a certain temp" and a million other verifiable, and therefore agreed upon, truths. The truth that anyone can agree on produces cures, inventions, and understanding beyond anything we could have dreamed before the Age of Reason.

There is incredible power in what we can verify as accurate, and therefore agree, is true. Those may be "the only true things," but they include everything that can be shown to work.

Patricia: One person might say, THIS is TRUE and EVERYONE should buy it, and the next joe you meet will say whatever HE believes is true. Etc.

That is why it is important to check. What is true can be verified.

If you cannot personally verify that a claim is true, there is no reason to think any other person can verify it when you can't. You don't have to buy any theory or believe anything is true. You can find out.

Moira: So, the accuracy of the claim "there is no god" is just as flawed as the claim of "there is a god".

What does this have to do with anything I am talking about? I am not making that claim. I don't even know any atheists who are making that claim, and I never even mentioned God.

Who are you talking to?

Moira: I'm sure you would say there is no "evidence" for the existence of God, but pathetic too is the evidence against a god.

So. Absolutely nothing is known of the existence of gods, either "for" or "against." Perhaps this is why the "existence of gods" question is the most boring and pointless in all religious debate.

Of far more import, and more relevent to the thread, are questions like, "Are any claims known to be true of gods?" Claims about what they do, what they want, etc. Are claims of knowledge of gods warranted?

Claiming that there "is" or "isn't" a "god" is clearly meaningless. If that was the only unsubstantiated claim anyone ever made, there would hardly be an issue.

However people are claiming a lot more than just "Gods exist." They are claiming to know the truth about what the gods are like or what they want. Is that warranted? Are there any statements about gods that correspond accurately to what they describe?

Moira: Wait a minute. How can you not debate God? If you don't believe in any god then isn't that your only debate?

Not at all, the questions of what is true and what matters are important whether gods exist or not.

In fact the utterly null "existence" question, in its complete void of information for or against, is actually a distraction from other important questions.

Moira: You cannot debate part of the Bible versus part of the Quran when you don't believe in either.

Belief in gods does not equal belief in every claim about them. Gods could be real as toast and the Bible and the Quran could still be completely wrong. A particular God could exist and the central tenet of Christianity - "You have to believe in salvation through Jesus Christ or you will get the bad afterlife" - could still be utterly wrong and unlike anything any He would ever want.

If claims like that are completely unsupported it would certainly be important to be able to discuss it, whether you believe in God or not.

"God exists" does not equal = "These people are right about Him." I could be 100% positive that God exists and I would still expect people to support any claims they are making about Him. Why accept less?

Moira: I don't agree that answering the age old question of "where do we come from?" as boring at all.

Except, that is a different question.

There is no information available about gods. There is a lot of information available about where we come from. All of that information is extremely interesting and there is more of it all the time. I would say "where do we come from" has to be one of the most interesting and important questions around, and this is reflected in the great amount of time spent researching it and the amazing discoveries we have made and the incredible understanding we have gained from the search.

The moment some new information about gods is forthcoming that will certainly be interesting, but so far, still nothing for or against, nothing related to where we come from, etc. Ho hum.

Moira: I believe that religion is important to the mass majority of people.

"Gods" are not required for religion. Millions of people belong to a religion that doesn't even have a god.

Moira: Religions are for those who need a set and well trodden path or they just might find that said path works best for them anyway, so why bother changing it?

God could exist and religions could still be preaching loads of crap that is not true. People believing "in God" is not causing as much of a problem as people believing in all the other crap from religion, like false history, ridiculous taboos, cruel and exclusionsary tenets, etc.

In particular, changing cruel and exclusionary unsupported claims is very important. We have come a long way in this regard since the Inquisition but there is still a ways to go.

09-29-15 9:29What The Difference Is

Bree Anna: What is the difference between Democrats and Republicans? Is there a difference, or are they all just corporate puppets? Does anyone have any actual ideas...is anyone doing anything?

In every human milieu, there are always two major social forces at work. One of the forces is towards change, and the other is towards stability. Throughout history these contradictory forces have been in a contentious balance. It's important to have both, because sometimes change is beneficial and sometimes stability is beneficial and there is a constant struggle to determine which direction is best for each situation.

For the past 100 years or so the forces for social change in this society have been the Democrats and the forces for social tradition have been the Republicans. Generally speaking, the Dems have worked for changes like improving society through social programs and expanded civil rights, while the Repubs have worked for maintaining traditional social and family structures.

In a society which was experiencing massive change because of industrialization, the forces for change have produced better working results because they acknowledge the deep inequities in the traditional systems. The Dems spearheaded important new structures which make society as a whole more workable, by expanding political agency into disenfranchised groups and creating a buffer against the worst ravages of capitalism. The Republicans have mainly stood against social changes - against instituting social safety nets, against expanding rights, etc, but for institutions which lend strength, like religion, militarism and corporatism. Forces against change have actually served in some ways by ensuring that changes are implemented more gradually, in more conservative ways, and by supporting the traditional institutions of strength - gods, arms and wealth.

At this point, I agree that both the Dems and the Repubs are fully owned subsidiaries of the corporations and are both required to only enact the change/maintain the status quo that benefits the wealthy. They do little to address real problems with real answers.

Since the days of the Renaissance, there has been a continual effort to make human life more livable to more humans by pushing power downward and outward, away from the ruling elite and into larger numbers of hands. It began with the rise of the merchant class and the development of democracy, and continued with the ending of slavery, women's suffrage, public education, social safety nets and the civil rights era.

The political position today which is actually working for changes that would make society better for everyone is that of the Democratic Socialist. There are progressive social systems which work and can be shown to work in other societies. The telescoping inequality, teetering economy, out of control militarism and the owning of both parties by the highest class are directly addressed with progressive social policies like those of Socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

However in the U.S. progressive thinking has been seriously marginalized up to this point, and we have been locked into a continuous spiral sending all power back upward. So it remains to be seen if Bernie's campaign, successful or not, helps bring some power back down.

Ultimately I think it will. Error correction means that the arc of history gradually bends toward social justice. And people only accept disenfranchisement for so long. If we cannot create an equitable society using our current channels we will create new institutions or a new society to better serve our human needs.

09-15-15 11:23Morality by Observation

This and the next section continued from here.

Part 1, Morality By Observation

Buttermilk: If you are claiming you can determine morality by harm vs well-being, then, you really have to define what "harm" includes and what "well-being" includes.

The regular, standard meanings that come to mind...harm as in injury or damage, well-being as in healthy and thriving, etc. I might further define them as an assessment of the suffering of sentient beings to the extent that they are capable of suffering.

Buttermilk: I was just saying, without my faith I would not be motivated to do the right thing as much. I don't think I was calling anyone else lame.

You were calling yourself lame and I was trying to correct you. You are not basically lame, made good only by religion, and neither are most people.

Our species is social and requires high levels of trust and working together in order to survive. We have to be aggressive and selfish at times, but we have to be compassionate, loving and trustworthy at others. Those behaviors long predate even language, so they don't come from religion. They are all part of our biological makeup.

Buttermilk: You say you can observe and find out, but the world is so complex, a person could spend their entire life trying to absorb understanding the mechanizations, and still not know all there is to know.

You don't have to know ALL there is to know. What matters is that your knowledge is accurate, and that it has a way to increase. Then all you need is patience. :-)

Buttermilk: What is good and compassionate and giving can all mean different things if the ends are different.

It is a process of error correction.

We look and see what works and what doesn't and why, and do the best we can, and it gets better as we go. That is why our morality is SO much better now than it was thousands of years ago. We fixed really bad immorality, like kings, and slavery, and subjugating women, even though there was no dictate from the gods telling us to do so. We did it because we could see that it was unjust and causing suffering to do it the old way, and we thought of a better way.

Buttermilk: I'm simply saying that what we as human beings consider to be moral is not always moral compared to what the living God would judge as moral.

Well that always comes back to he said, she said among human beings. There is zero consensus about what the gods think.

So, we have to go with what we definitely, unquestionably have, which is sentient beings capable of error correction.

And if you look at the way we have learned to understand biology and physics, and cure disease, and create technology, and explore space, and invent democracy, and electricity, and abolish slavery, and enfranchise women, etc. you can see that error correction is working pretty good.

09-15-15 1:30Socialism Today

Part 2, Socialism

Buttermilk: Of course [Marxism] matters. It's the basis for the ideology of Socialism today.

No, like most ideas people thought of a long time ago, it has been through a process of error correction.

"Socialism" originally just meant any social concern and efforts to correct for the poverty and misery caused by the emerging industrialized capitalism. Later, Marx, Wilde and other "socialists" had ideas about organized systems for the distribution of goods. Those ideas never would have worked, but they didn't know that then. Now we know. So, no one today is proposing those ideas.

The socialism being used today, by the United States and every prosperous democracy in the world, is market socialism. There is no question that markets of self-seeking agents are the engine of commerce required to power an economy. All modern social democracies use markets for distribution of goods and services. That is the "market" half of market socialism.

But, markets don't do everything, and the poverty and misery still needs to be corrected for. So all modern social democracies, including the United States, ALSO use corrective mechanisms, and the corrective mechanisms are the "socialism" part of market socialism.

Buttermilk: In order to facilitate the organized systems, money has to be redistributed and the manager of that is going to be a governing body.

That describes every government, every society. When humans want to arrange ourselves, we get some leaders, organize some systems, pool some resources and get going. That has always been the case.

So, best to organize into systems that work, and better to have them answerable to the society, through a representative governing body, than any other way.

Buttermilk: So you don't think the history of socialism and comparing it to what it "was a hundred years ago" is pertinent to today, but you think comparing socialism at work, for now successfully in your opinion, to Other countries is pertinent.

Of course. A hundred years ago they had not yet gone through the error correction process, and today we have. That is why the outdated, never-tried-never-worked ideas of people a hundred years ago are not what socialism now is, and the working-now, right here in the U.S., and in other countries, ideas are what socialism today is.

Buttermilk:Socialists are...who?

In the U.S. the most well known Socialist is Bernie Sanders, who is running for the Democratic nomination for President. He is a market socialist along the lines of the Nordic Model countries. He is recommending full public education, full public healthcare, limiting the influence of money in politics, demilitarizing the police, reforming Wall Street and addressing climate change.

That is the same thing everyone slightly left of center is for, but mainly because of the influence of big money in politics, you have to be pretty far left to say it out loud during a campaign. Luckily, as a Socialist Bernie Sanders is far enough left to say it. Not only is his message catching fire, but it will pull the entire discussion to the left, which is what we need whether he sees electoral success or not.

Buttermilk: You're very clearly saying, that because socialism is working in Canada and Germany, that it will work very well in the United States.

Actually, it already works very well in the United States. We are already preventing the worst poverty and the worst exploitation through socialist policies, like protections for workers, and social retirement, and social aid. But, we have allowed money interests to shift the balance a little too far in favor of markets over society, and need a little shift back in the other direction.

The more socialist, "Nordic Model" countries have already shifted and are seeing good results from the policies. They are still representative democracies, with modern freedoms and market economies, but they have better social safety nets. That's really the main difference.

Buttermilk: You need to examine why you yourself believe it's working in Canada and Germany.

They like it. They rank higher than the United States on measures of social health.

09-14-15 3:40The Stuff of Personality

Draconia: For those who do not believe in God or anything of the like, do you believe in souls?

Meredith: I think SOUL may refer to your inner core being.

I think the DNA would qualify as the inner core being. It is at the heart of every cell, specifically responsible for our being, and is the engine which turns every lever that shapes and continues our presence.

It's weird, because we are used to thinking that we are the beings, and the DNA is ours, which we use to make our bodies. Actually the DNA is the being. It makes everything about us, including our sentience, to serve itself. The bodies and minds belong to it, constructed by it for itself, as a tool to make more DNA with.

We are just one particular stable pattern. DNA has made plenty of other patterns for itself which have been just as successful. DNA is the inner core being of everything that lives.

Meredith: If DNA was the ONLY defining factor of personality, than why is it that cloned animals are not the same?

Who said it was the ONLY defining factor? The DNA is the core inner being, while the outer, explicate manifestations of being are massively affected by even the tiniest variations in environmental factors from the moment of combination.

Meredith: Personality also evolves over time due to circumstances of your physical self. This also has nothing to do with DNA but the chemistry of our minds and the circumstances we encounter during our physical lives.

Sure, but DNA is still at the core.

Living beings can be very different - from a sea slug to a saguaro to Shakespeare - and yet they still have at their very core the same thing - a reproducing double helix of particles.

"Personality" is just one of many reproductive strategies that it employs.

Meredith: I understand that breathing, breeding entity must have DNA to exist but how can it be the defining element of your personality?

It is because of DNA that you have a personality.

The specifics of your particular immune system are defined by what pathogens you come in contact with in your lifetime. But the reason that you have a customizable immune system is because your DNA figured out how to do it and it works. This is the reason you have a personality also.

Meredith: DNA only sets things into motion everything else in the physical world defines who you are and how you handle yourself and perceive the world around you.

Your personality is far from the only thing that defines who you are and how you handle yourself and perceive the world around you. Your immune system and morphology define it just as much, as do many other parts of your existence...all the products of your DNA employing strategies that work.

DNA is the inner core being creating all the systems which define who you are, how you handle yourself and how you perceive the world around you. Customizable personality is just one of the strategies the DNA is using.

Draconia: Even human compassion means very little when you are without a soul.

Wow, that's cold.

Compassion means a better life for you and the people around you. That is not "very little."

Draconia: Why even bother?

Because compassion works. It is a critical survival adaptation in a sentient social species.

Draconia: I guess my concern with the belief of NOT having a soul dirties the value of living.

Well, there is no need to be concerned. First of all, soul is not a matter of belief. Secondly, belief is not relevant to the value of living.

Draconia: If life is only the here and now and nothing but, then your life is nothing at all.

Except for everything that it is.

Draconia: Your purpose may be to ensure your family grows and that your species continues but your children and family are the same as you and their only purpose is to gratify and sustain the pleasures of those they love.

Those sound like really good purposes.

Draconia: Besides, if there is no greater reason for life other than to live than we truly are no better than even the smallest and simplest of life forms.

What point would there be in being "better"?

Draconia: We are all life, after all.

Exactly. How cool is that!? Rejoice!

Draconia: No, it is the soul that is responsible for compassion, altruism, putting others first. If it was just biology, the natural urge would be to be completely selfish. Why should any person sacrifice when they do not feel they are benefiting from it?

Because they want to. It is a natural human behavior for most members of a group to act with compassion towards the members of their group. Overall it has been very beneficial to humans to be this way.

Draconia: Sometimes.

More often than not. That is plenty often enough to be selected for.

Draconia: If not benefiting from the rewards that healthy soul would offer, what then?

A healthy life, lived in kindness.

Draconia: How is having a soul not a matter of belief? You rather believe you have one or you don't.

It would be what it is even if you never heard of it.

Draconia: Belief is relevant because having a soul produces a purpose of living and living good.

It would do that even if you never heard of it. "Believing" in it is not relevant to what it produces.

Draconia: "Those sound like really good purposes"? What, just taking care of your offspring, so they can take care of their offspring, so they can...but why even bother?

Because it's cool. Because we are here, and those are natural behaviors, and it's fun. It works. It makes for a very satisfying life. Growing up, becoming educated, finding a partner, nurturing your babies, growing your family, satisfying your needs and enjoying the repast - these are among the most fulfilling aspects of human existence, the stuff a lifetime of happy memories is made of.

Draconia: Without a belief that there may be consequences for your actions even if you don't get caught in this life, well...this keeps people from doing things they shouldn't be. Like murder.

If this was true it would be very easy to demonstrate a statistical correlation between lack of belief and murder. However there is no evidence at all that this is the case.

Draconia: You say, life isn't just the here and now, it's everything that it is....which is still just the here and now.

The here and now is incredible. Amazing. Thrilling. Ecstatic. A grand adventure. A one-in-a-million opportunity. An intimate dance. A heroic quest. There is nothing "just" about it. It is happening.

Draconia: How do you know your life isn't just an illusion?

It is in some ways. That just makes it even cooler.

Draconia: Human compassion works against the basic rule of survival.

Not so far. We have been extremely successful. We have populated every corner of the globe and we are the dominant lifeform on the planet. It has worked very well up until now.

If compassion ever becomes a genuine detriment to survival it will be selected against at that point. In the meantime, this is what we do.

09-12-15 10:12Dear World, Christian

SimpleFaith: Dear World, I am a Christian.

But, I don't proclaim that as loudly as I once did. I don't want to be lumped in with all the gay haters and bigots.

I want the simple Christianity of my childhood, d'ya remember? When it was all about Jesus.

Jesus, who was born into smallness and poverty. Jesus, who fed the poor and healed the sick and taught compassion. That Jesus, who defied rules of decorum and purity and tradition in order to bring healing and comfort and hope. Jesus was all about forgiveness of wrongdoing, praying for our enemies, loving the least of us, showing radical mercy.

It would be better to be this instead of Christian.

MyMy: Yeah, Christianity has that whole lying about god thing.

GoldenGal: Take your negative comments about Christianity and get out!

It's an important point.

It really doesn't matter how "nice" your phantasm is, it's still a phantasm. Okay if you can admit it...really problematic if you can't.

GoldenGal: Take it elsewhere!!

You wish.

Hi there GoldenGal, so pleasant to speak with you this morning!

GoldenGal: I'm not even Christian. I just see the inherent disrespect that the two of you are bringing currently, especially MyMy.

I appreciate that, however I am not responsible for MyMy, and I don't agree that pointing out the elephant in the room constitutes disrespect.

The problem with Christianity is not that people fail to focus on Jesus enough. The reason Christianity is such a huge problem for society is that it does not seem to be true. Maintaining the fiction as truth is causing far more harm to society than Kim Davis not being nice like Jesus.

This is a post about the problems of Christianity, but any discussion of the problems of Christianity which does not have room for the main, central problem of Christianity is just more polite fiction. There is no reason to go along with it.

Thanks again GoldenGal!

GoldenGal: You are no better than the religious zealots who insist their views are the only valid views.

Sorry, no. Politely pointing out that supernaturalism does not seem to be true is important.

GoldenGal: No, pointing out that TO YOU it doesn't seem to be true...

No, it doesn't seem to be true at all. True statements can be verified. There are no statements about the supernatural that can be verified. The verification is where the "seeming true" comes from.

There is absolutely no question that the supernatural claims of the Abrahamic faiths cannot be verified. Not only that, but they are not reconcilable with anything in observable reality, not to mention with the claims of other religions.

That is what "does not seem to be true" looks like. Is everyone supposed to ignore all that?

GoldenGal: ...may be important for your own personal needs and feelings...

No, the truth matters for everyone. Accurate understanding is important for our entire civilization.

GoldenGal: ...but repeatedly stating it the way you do, as if everyone must see it the same way you do, is counter productive...

No, allowing you to silence this viewpoint would be counter-productive, because then no one would be saying it. The elephant in the room would get bigger. How would that be better?

The truth matters. Accuracy is a force multiplier. Inaccuracy is a trap. We have a lot of big challenges ahead of our species. How are we supposed to meet them without the highest levels of accuracy we can manage?

Stormcry: Well now...one cannot prove it is in fact a lie, that is why so many of the top renowned "atheists" will tell you they are agnostic. So, technically the debate is still out on this one.

That is not what Christianity is saying. They are claiming to possess reams of specific information about gods, which as you know no human possesses. The lie is pretending to know things about gods.

The truth is that humans do not have information about gods.

Stormcry: Positioning gods as lies is still a belief not a proof. Position gods do not exist is a matter of how ones views such gods.

None of which suggests that Christianity, or the Abrahamic Faiths, or any ancient mythology, has anything to do with actual gods. There is absolutely nothing in the universe which can be examined which will reveal information about gods. So, every single word humans say about them is stuff they made up, usually before they understood why it rains.

So, pretending that this information is like real information is a big problem. The distance between the truth - we have no information - and the claim - we have information about A God, and he has A Son, and He died for your Sins, and They want you to take a specific Day Off every week, etc. - is a chasm light-years wide. This disconnect creates a ton of error all across society...for example, the kind of error that prompted the author to write the apologia in the OP.

Here is why it matters. In Buddhism, there is a saying, "Don't be a Buddhist, be a Buddha." It means, don't follow or worship a hero or an idea, but just be the best possible expression of yourself.

Humans will never "be" Jesus if they think he was only that way because he was magic. It was humans who gave Jesus his words, his compassion, his kindness. It's not supernatural. No one can be Magic Miracle Jesus, but everyone can be a kind, compassionate human Jesus, because kindness and compassion are human traits, which we invented ourselves.

Why cling to ancient mythology when the truth we can see is so much more wonderful?

Beej: Sorry, not following why you are claiming Buddhism as being profitable, when Buddhism, whether you want to acknowledge it or not, holds belief in the supernatural.

I am happy to explain.

When humans put together religions, they usually try to include some of the best wisdom they possess at the time. So, Christianity, Buddhism and other ancient religions contain some human wisdom, along with supernaturalism. Some of the wisdom, like "Do unto others" or "Be a light unto yourself," is actually pretty wise.

I hope that is clear now.

Beej: Thanks for response, I wasn't sure if you viewed religion as having any value.

I do. I have studied religion extensively and can see that it has a great deal of value, which is why we invented it. However, like you would expect from any system invented thousands of years ago, it has a few bugs.

Beej: What wisdom can you show humans have acquired apart from religion?

Any knowledge acquired by observation, experimentation, or trial and error, which is most of it.

I am most familiar with this in Western history. Early examples include mathematics, linguistics and taxonomy, and the beginnings of social awareness acquired by the ancient Greeks, and plumbing and civil engineering by the Romans.

Wisdom acquisition took a break for over a thousand years during the Dark Ages, but started up again during the Renaissance. Observation brought discoveries in astronomy and navigation which required a major break from religion to understand.

This led to the discovery of the method for getting accurate understanding, or "science," which has since given us the wisdom to cure disease, heal wounds, create technologies and extend the reach of our discovery to the edges of space and time.

This change in the method of understanding - by observation instead of tradition - allowed another major wisdom revolution, or morality by observation. Humans were able to observe how and why societies form, and conceived of the social contract, which led to the concept of rule by the consent of the governed, which began to be codified in the Magna Carta and ultimately led to modern constitutional democracy. Humans were able to see how markets increase prosperity, which led to the Wealth of Nations and modern capitalism.

And most importantly, once people began to derive systems from observation instead of by dictate, in a very short time we were able to take amazing social steps to right the horrible injustices we saw which had been with us since antiquity. We ended slavery, enfranchised women, even instituted protections for violence and neglect against children. We invented protections for workers against exploitation, and social protections for the elderly and other non-workers.

Most recently, we democratized healthcare (almost, though others are closer) and ended the legal scapegoating of sexual minorities.

That's a pretty good track record for reason.

Beej: In other words, what society you can point to that didn't incorporate religion?

That is a completely different question, but the rise of secular democracy certainly demonstrates that declines in religiosity correlate with rises in measures of social health such as low infant mortality, low poverty, low homicide rates, high literacy rates, low rates of HIV infection, high rates of gender equality, etc.

So clearly as societies incorporate less religion, their social values and well-being can continue to rise.

Thanks again Beej!

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