12-25-15 9:21Merry Holidays

JellyFish: I know it's Christmas and all, but I just don't get the whole Jesus thing. I know how this sounds, but the whole "blood of Christ" thing reminds me of the Aztecs or something. Blood sacrifice, really? I don't understand how an almighty God would need any of this.

MyMy: Well you see god created the universe and man and satan exactly the way he wanted to because he is all knowing and all powerful, so when satan went bad and then man went bad that was god's plan all along.

God then had to bribe himself with his own blood sacrifice of him self so he raped a man's wife so she could give birth to himself and then he arranged to have himself tortured to death so he could redeem mankind from being how he planned on them being to begin with.

You see being all knowing and all powerful means you have to torture yourself to death to save those you condemned.

JellyFish: Well...that is kind of what it seems like to me...except not expressed in such an eccentric way.

The simplest explanation is that it doesn't make sense because it is a story.

As always, the amount of time people spend trying to explain how this story could be true, and make sense, is mind-boggling to me. Why is that important?

DaisyRey: I'll try to explain. In the OT the manner and requirements for a sacrifice were an example of what God accepts from us.

God is way too picky. He should accept us for what we are, which is glorious.

DaisyRey: On our own, no sacrifice is enough - none is pure enough, holy enough, or acceptable for an eternal pardon for our mistakes.

Speak for yourself. Everyone I know is plenty pure enough, and plenty holy enough, and plenty acceptable for pardon for their mistakes. People are great - amazing. Our only "crime" is being physical beings who have no choice but to learn by trial and error.

Out of our mistakes we have grown. We have created amazing love and art and knowledge. We have transcended our own limits. We have created great societies of caring and order. We have discovered how this place and our forms came to be and invented astonishing cures and systems and technologies. Humans are amazing beings.

If God doesn't like what we are He can go fuck Himself.

DaisyRey: I struggle a lot with making sense of how this all works...

The answer is easy. It doesn't all work. There is no reason to think any of this is actually true. It could be entirely imaginary. That is what it seems like. Why?

12-24-15 9:21The Investments of The 158

This is why we need checks on every kind of power, including financial power.

Marigold: Dumb. I wish everyone saw the issues financially this country is having due to the lack of personal responsibility.

What do you see as the issues financially in this country? In what way are they due to a lack of personal responsibility and on the part of whom?

Marigold: Disability and welfare are OUT of control and needs to be reigned in to those who truly need it.

I don't agree that this is the financial issue this country is having and I am happy to explain why.

First of all, the amount of our budget that goes to social safety net programs is small, only 11%.* That percentage is not large enough to be the main problem.

Secondly, both of these programs are almost entirely reigned in to those who truly need them. Investigations show that the rates of fraud in these programs range from 1 to 3%, representing a truly insignificant amount of money in the federal budget.

Lastly, all you have to do is compare what life is like in our country now to how it was before these programs came along, or to countries that do not have these programs. You will see that the money we spend keeping people from extreme poverty is propping up the foundation of society and is worth every penny of that investment to prevent economic collapse and widespread human suffering.

It would not help to stop spending that 11%. It would help a lot more to 1) get a good economy going that has more opportunity, and 2) get people really well educated to utilize the opportunity.

*It is worth noting where the 11% figure comes from.


Nearly half of the budget goes to social programs, but not welfare or disability. About a quarter goes to Social Security for the elderly (<4% to disability) and another quarter to social health insurance. Both of these systems are paid into by pools and meant to be used in this way. Both also represent important social investment and are preventing social and economic collapse. Both are features of every advanced nation.

Marigold: The foolish spending NEEDS to stop.

I agree, but social spending is not foolish spending. It is an investment in people, to keep them healthy and able to spend into the economy. The alternative is far worse - abject poverty, which causes social unrest, economic collapse and horrible suffering.

Unfortunately, unrest and suffering are already on the rise, and it's not because there is too much support for the lowest people on the economic scale. It's because there is not nearly enough. A recent Princeton study of legislative effectiveness found that when it comes to making the rules, the will of the wealthiest people and companies was enacted into legislation about 100% of the time, while the will of the vast majority of ordinary people was legislatively enacted almost never. This effectively means that the United States is an oligarchy, where only the most powerful have a say. As a result, the economy is being rigged to further enrich the rich, and the entire rest of the economy is being emptied of money, causing the middle class to rapidly shrink, dumping many former members into the lower classes.

This is exactly as Robert Reich describes in the video.

So I would say that the foolish spending that needs to stop is the bajillions of dollars spent by the bajillionaires to rig our elections and make the politicians indebted to them. The real failure of personal responsibility is our failure as voters and citizens to demand our system work for all of us instead of only 158 families.

12-23-15 12:01Scripture

Katy: God tells us how to understand through his Scripture, the Bible.

Bandicoot: Me, personally, I pull from the various scriptures, not just the Bible. So the Quran, the Gita, the Upanishads, etc are all things I look at and consider.

But no more so, I would hope, than say, Beowulf, or The Iliad, or any other ancient writing. These writings all have interesting and important things to say, and value as a part of human heritage. They are all good to look at and consider.

My concern is when people claim that "scriptures" are "the word of God," or are somehow different from other ancient writings, in that they somehow represent something truer, or more sacred, just because they claim to be.

There is no reason to think that the Bible, or the Quran, etc. represent a better understanding of God, or the universe, or a better prescription for human success, than any other kind of human writing.

Scriptures are not magically right. They are not saying anything you can't get anywhere else. They are nothing special. And, since they contain massive amounts of information that we know is incorrect, they are not a particularly reliable guide to anything.

I would say there is no better guide to understanding the universe, and no better prescription for human success, than the truth, as discerned by looking at and considering reality itself.

Bandicoot: "Word of God"? Oh, haha, that's not me. I'm not a literalist.

You don't have to be a literalist to buy into the concept of "scripture."

Bandicoot: I do believe, though, that when we peel away the "incorrect" pieces there is truth still to be found.

Yeah, but so what? "Scriptures" are not saying anything very interesting or unusual. Any tiny scraps of truth they happen to contain are buried under massive tons of crap...cruel taboos, confused morality, ingroup-outgroup divisions and warmongering...and not to mention huge, utterly unsubstantiated and unjustified claims of exclusive understanding of what God is and what God wants from humans.

What makes those little scraps of truth worth the effort of peeling away mountains of that other stuff, when you could get the same information straight up?

I'm not saying don't ever look at scriptures. I am saying there is no such thing as "scriptures." There is just writing.

Digging through these particular ancient folktales for "truth" is an effort granted to them only because they are designated as "scriptures," not because the works themselves merit any special regard. Whatever truth they do contain is available everywhere.

They can be treated like what they are - old fiction.

12-22-15 12:01Sex, Gay Sex and Hinduism

ShivasGirl: Is gay love abomination, or just gay sex?

In my religion, Hinduism, sex is only to be used to produce God-conscious children. Even sex between married men and women that is done for any other reason is considered to be taking your focus away from God.

In my temple community we have several homosexual, committed couples that practice our religion fully. They do not have sex because they cannot produce a God-conscious child. So, they are completely accepted in our temple community, because the issue with homosexuality in Hinduism is with gay sex, not same-sex couples.

Discriminating against homosexuals is inexcusable. Claiming it's because that's what God wants is even more repugnant.

ShivasGirl: Giving up one's sex life is a very hard thing to do. I have not been able to control that part of my life...I love having sex with my husband, but I am also well aware that it keeps me from becoming fully God-conscious.

Sex life ties you to the material world, whether you are gay or straight...no discrimination there

Discriminating against sexuals is inexcusable. Claiming it's because that's what God wants is even more repugnant.

Shivas, nothing personal.

I have been considering this and I just can't tell you what a poor reflection this is on Hinduism.

First, it makes no sense. There is just no reason to think that sex "takes your mind off God" any more than breathing does. If bodily pleasure is a distraction, why the hell is Indian food so good? If eating curry, telling jokes and having a good crap are acceptable parts of Hindu behavior there is no reason sex should not be.

Secondly, it is an obvious grab for manipulative power at a very personal level. It reeks of petty politics to control flocks. Whatever person - yes, a person - said this was what "God" wants was trying to control people's minds through controlling their bodies, to get their compliance and agrandize his own position. This is wrong. It's despicable to rob people of their birthright.

Third, having this as a policy results in massive amounts of guilt, not to mention lying. It doesn't actually reduce sex or get anybody better focused on God. It creates a secret world of shame for every normal person. It brings utterly unnecessary sadness and suffering to our short human lives.

Lastly, it is just ridiculous from every possible practical standpoint. There is just no way it could ever work. People do not act like this. People have tons of sex even when they are not trying to get pregnant. No wonder there is massive overpopulation in India. Like all abstinence plans, it's an utter failure.

This is the kind of primitive, mind control crap that gives religion a bad name. This stricture should be removed from Hinduism entirely and thrown on the scrap heap of history next to the caste system.

I think every Hindu should go out and have sex right now to celebrate God and our wonderful bodies.

And of course they are.

Hello again Shivas, thanks for discussing this with me. I think you are a very cool and smart person, and this is not directed at you personally. However I would like to discuss what you are presenting as Hinduism because it seems highly objectionable.

ShivasGirl: Okay, so I find it extremely rude that you would even mention bathroom calls in a discussion of spirituality. Let me just say that telling jokes, eating food and enjoying a mundane material life will not help you attain God consciousness.

I don't see how you can say this. It doesn't seem true. How do you know? Have you checked?

Upon examination, it seems obvious that telling jokes, and embracing the humble honor of enjoying mundane material life, are among the richest forms of existence known. It is for exactly this that our bodies and minds were made. It is in exactly this way that the human condition thrives. It is exactly this that life seems to be about.

Everything we can observe from biology to sociology to psychology, and in our own everyday lives, suggests that humor, and enjoying the mundane, are fundamental to every kind of human success and, in the joy of their expression, are divine ends unto themselves.

I find myself feeling anger towards whoever told you this. They are, again, robbing you of your birthright - this life, exactly as it is, to be fully expressed and appreciated for the amazing and wonderful phenomenon it is in every possible moment.

And trading it...for what? A vague promise of some kind of whoo-hoo "consciousness" you will not actually experience because it happens after you are dead.

This is cruel.

ShivasGirl: The goal is to have your mind fixated on the Lord at all times so you can break free of the cycle of birth and death and have your soul return to Godhead.

There is no evidence that fixing your mind on the Lord at all times will make you break free of the cycle of birth and death and return your soul to Godhead. That sounds like a lot of talk. Reality does not appear to work like this at all.

Shivas, have you considered that this could be inaccurate?

ShivasGirl: In order to do this, I had a picture of Lord Shiva at my desk at work...kept my mind on Him while I was doing my job. I also have pictures of Lord Krishna all over my house. All day while I clean, pay bills and so on, I sing bahjans and tell my kids stories from the Vedas...when I cook, I offer the food first to the Lord...really, it's not hard to focus on the Lord.

It's on us to further our soul's journey by doing what we can to attain a higher birth in the next life.

I can't believe you feel you are on the hook for that, at the deferment of this life.

ShivasGirl: No one is forcing anyone to do this.

Ugh, this is the same stuff I hear from fundamentalist Christians, saying that no one is "forced" to believe in salvation through Christ...you'll just go to hell if you don't.

Telling people that if they have sex outside of procreation their soul will be retarded in its divine journey is exactly the same kind of manipulative propaganda. "We're not 'forbidding' recreational sex, we're just saying it's a deep personal failure on your part that's separating you from God." Nice.

ShivasGirl: It is up to you to advance your soul. It's your choice if it will be in this life, or another.

...or so you have heard.

Shivas, it is an honor to me that you are willing to discuss your beliefs with me. Thank you very much for this opportunity.

ShivasGirl: How can you say it's cruel? This is my belief.

Beliefs can be cruel. Luckily, it does not seem to be true.

ShivasGirl: I believe in reincarnation and Karma because it makes sense to me.

That method of determination is known to produce wrong answers.

ShivasGirl: The idea that my soul has a chance to not return to this hellish place is very appealing to me.

Then it seems like you would love reality. If you examine reality it appears very likely that you will not return to this place. It's a win-win.

But, even supposing there is more to it than that, you really have no idea if forgoing sex and jokes will actually make you go somewhere else. For all you know, it is the people who enjoy this life the most - who don't regard this place as "hellish" - who get to move on, while you will be stuck here until you learn to relish this existence for what it is.

There is no reason to think forgoing or disdaining the pleasures of this life is actually going to do anything. Maybe it doesn't.

ShivasGirl: ...if you like living in a place where there is disease, pain, war, stress, hunger, discrimination, and it is worth the exchange of sex, then more power to you...

Apparently that is the place you like living in. According to you, you are still choosing the exchange of sex. More power to you.

Earlier you said this:

ShivasGirl: Of course I don't know for sure, but I feel in my heart that it is accurate.

And then you said:

ShivasGirl: It's not like Christianity. In Hinduism, we have no hell.

Shivas, there are literally millions of Christians who feel in their hearts that hell is accurate.

As much as you feel your soul might get stuck on earth if you focus on sex too much, they have faith that your soul will spend eternity in a torment of separation from God for not accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior.

The same method that you are using to determine that you reincarnate, they are using to determine that you fry.

Why does this "just feel it in my heart" method lead you to an accurate understanding of what happens to humans after death, but "feeling it in their hearts" is not leading them to accurate understanding? Why is the method working for you but failing for them? How do you know?


ShivasGirl: ...in Hinduism, we have no hell.

Close enough. You said yourself - it is here. I can only tell you how sorry I am that your beliefs depict this life as hellish. I live here too and to me it is heavenish.

Daisy Rey: The method used by Christians, Muslims, Athiests, Hindu's etc. for establishing their beliefs is the same, no matter how people try to skew it into something different.

Yes, the method of making unsubstantiated claims is used by everybody making unsubstantiated claims. This is the method used by everybody except for those who are using reason.

People who are using reason are not doing the same thing as those people because people using reason are establishing their claims with evidence, using a system known to produce accurate results. That is the difference.

Daisy Rey: Conviction comes from observation, studying and simply asking the hard questions of life, but different people come to different conclusions from the same evidences.

Not people who are using reason. People who are using reason come to the same conclusion from the same evidence. That is how they are able to check and see if the conclusion is accurate. If anyone who examines the evidence can see the same conclusion, that is how a claim can be substantiated.

If people differ on their conclusions from the same evidence, the answer of reason is that the conclusion is not known.

Daisy Rey: Only if said people use the same kind of reason to observe and conclude.

There is only one "kind" of reason which can be shown to work, and that is the reason of substantiation by evidence. It is the same system of reason which is used to establish facts in academics, in courts and in science. It's not perfect but the efficacy of evidence-based reason over other methods is obvious. Evidence-based reason produces things, like discoveries, cures and incredible devices. No other "kind" of reason does this.

Daisy Rey: You can't say one person or group is using reason and another is not simply because they do not agree with each other.

Of course not. That is not why you say one person or group is using reason and another is not.

You say a person or group is using reason when they are substantiating their claims with evidence that can be verified by anyone.

Daisy Rey: So who is correct?

What claims are supported by evidence that anyone can verify?

Daisy Rey: Obviously you think its the Athiests, or those who have no religious affiliation but arent "Athiest" in conviction...

No, I wouldn't generalize...not all "atheists" or "those who have no religious affiliation" are making the same claims.

Daisy Rey: When it comes to religious beliefs,there isnt a method of evaluation that will produce the same response in every person.

Yet, people are making claims of truth anyway. How is that warranted?

When the truth is that you don't really know, the only ethical course of action is to admit it.

ShivasGirl: You said of my beliefs, "Luckily they do not seem to be true." Well if you have some proof that they aren't, let me see it!

An acquaintance of mine believes in the Funny Clown Afterlife. He says our spiritual destination is a place where everyone becomes a clown. This is Heaven if you like clowns, and it is Hell if you hate or fear clowns.

The only way that any human can avoid the Funny Clown Afterlife is to prove that it doesn't exist. Good luck everybody!

Luckily, "favorable reincarnation by disdaining sex" does not seem to be any truer than the Funny Clown Afterlife.

ShivasGirl: You also said, "That method of determination is known to produce wrong answers. "

Again, if you can show me for sure that reincarnation and Karma are wrong answers, please do so.

This method - "I'm right unless you prove me wrong" - is a logical fallacy and it was discarded centuries ago because it resulted in terrible error.

This is why a basic understanding in modern democratic jurisprudence is "innocent until proven guilty," or, "not known to be true until proven true." Doing it the other way was resulting in a lot of wrong answers, and terrible miscarriages of justice.

ShivasGirl: Maybe you are right...

Maybe, shmaybe. Don't take my word for it. Check yourself! Nothing is known of what, if anything, occurs "after" life. This is the truth that you will find if you check reality yourself.

ShivasGirl: ....we wont know until it's over..

Exactly. If then.

That seems like a really good reason not to bet your entire life and every minute of your behavior on one speculation, out of infinite possibilities, at the expense of reason.

ShivasGirl: What do you mean, the method is "failing" for Christians? Who said it was failing?

Hinduism, according to you. The FIMH method - "Feel in my Heart" - tells them hell is real and you are going there. The FIMH method is telling you Hinduism is true and has no hell. If you are right you won't go to hell but if they are right you will.

You don't think you will go to hell. So, they must be wrong about that. FIMH method must be telling them something wrong.

If it could tell them something wrong, it could tell you something wrong.

The FIMH method starts inquisitions and witch trials. It tells people a lot of wrong things. It's not reliable. It's not used in justice or academics or science because it doesn't work.

There is an alternative method which does work. This world would be a lot less "hellish" if more people would use it.

ShivasGirl: I believe all paths lead to God.

Then why not use reason?

12-22-15 12:46Thinking of God

Sweetheart: I was reading where Shivasgirl said she was supposed to keep her thoughts on God 100% of the time. If we were to keep 100% of our thoughts on our religion and God then how would we ever have time to think about work, home, family, or anything for that matter?

This is another way religions serve to control minds, by creating an impossible standard which any normal human will fall far short of. It's designed to create dependence by making the person feel like a failure in the eyes of The Lord. Christianity does something similar, by designating all humans as defective at birth ("sinners") and therefore unworthy of God.

So, just acting like biological organisms are evolved to act, people are made to feel like weak, helpless creatures who are not doing what they are "supposed" to do. This makes them very vulnerable to manipulative mind control systems which promise to "correct" the "defect."

The saddest part of this is there is no evidence anywhere in the universe or in human existence to support such ridiculous ideas. Humans appear to be naturally occurring organisms, with ordinary biological needs, and no more or less flawed than any other part of the universe. The ordinary needs, and even the ordinary mistakes, of a human are exactly what you would expect from a naturally occurring, learning lifeform in a natural universe. The angst-ridden, imaginary "sickness+cure" scenarios are unnecessary.

There is no reason to feel like having a human life and thinking about it is anything less than perfectly correct.

12-22-15 11:46We are not Poor

Rocket Surgeon: How do you explain socio-ecomnimic status to your kids, or do you even try? My kid wants to know why our cars are not as nice as all her friends. She now thinks we are too poor to get a nice car. How can I explain to her that we are not poor?

MyMy: I'd have simply said we aren't poor but if we were that would be ok as well because being poor isn't bad.


Money is a terrible thermostat by which to measure life. Fortunes can turn in an instant. Almost anyone can suddenly become poor. What's more, the current system is actively lowering the middle class at a fast rate. Nothing is being done to improve the economy. In a decade we may all be what we now consider "poor." Everyone will have far less buying power.

If we allow monetary levels to dictate our life's worth we are all doomed to less happiness in the future.

Money is currently the new slavery, a hideous amoral force which is crushing the life out of our culture. The more money you have the more you are enslaved to the system, legally bound into the illusion by exactly that amount. Having Americans fear that number being low is what keeps them slaving longer hours under worse conditions than any other developed democracy, trading away our lives for other's profit.

The only way to avoid the despair of less money is to transcend the need for more altogether. Money is an illusion and if you know this you can live like a king even if you are "poor." If you practice non-attachment, it is possible to have an amazing life without much money or concern for money.

You could be living in a shed and it could be the greatest adventure of your child's life, if that's the kind of family you are. If you are not attached to things, you can get by and live happily with very little money...and no worry. I know people who got through the Great Depression that way. We may all need this skill soon.

If I could, I would encourage everyone to be poor and love it. It would break the chains of slavery of those who would have us believe that money is important, and remove their claim to power. It would free us to create happiness from a simple life, spent enriching not what we have but what we are.

aquarian: i wish i could be so free thinking...

It's actually easy to learn. When you don't have a lot of money it's a great alternative to suffering.

aquarian: but the truth is people need things (houses,cars,food,clothes)...

The truth is you can be poor and still have those things. Most "poor people" in America do have those, one way or another. Yet, many people - and not just the poor, either - have a lot suffering anyway, because they continually long for much more, and nicer and newer and more fashionable, etc. That kind of suffering is unnecessary.

aquarian: ...and people frown on kids being raised in a shed.

Too bad people don't frown on it enough to continue to structure our society so that children are kept from extreme poverty. I hope no one we know ends up there, but with this precarious economy and the proposed shredding of the social safety nets it could happen to anyone.

But that is just the extreme. You can be above the shed level and still be a very long way from not being poor. Why isn't that okay? Because in this society it is considered bad to be poor.

My point is that even at the subsistence level, a life can be enjoyed that is as full and rich - or richer - than the lives of people with more money. It comes from creating fun and beauty and excitement and learning out of our relationships and talents instead of buying them, and appreciating all the things money can't buy.

I am agreeing with MyMy that being poor is not bad. In fact it can be liberating.

Certainly the people of this country could use some liberation from the endless grind of materialistic consumerism. And, we may be about to get it. If so, non-attachment would be a great alternative to suffering.

12-22-15 9:34Fear of Accidental Baptism

Helena: Another crazy teacher! This one claims she was trying to teach kids Arabic calligraphy, but the Arabic in question turned out to be the Muslim statement of faith! She's actually having kids swear to worship Allah!

Nome: She's a teacher, she's supposed to be sharing knowledge and providing education.

Helena: So am I to understand that teachers have the right to teach their students *anything* in the name of Education? I wonder how you'd like me to baptize your child to the religion of my choice in the name of education! You know, just to educate to them on my beliefs and how we do it.

Is that something to fear?

Helena: I'm not sure, I haven't had anyone take me up on it. Would you be OK with me baptizing your child as a Jehovahs Witness?

According to the JW web site, my child is not qualified for a Jehovahs Witness baptism. Supposing you wanted to perform it on him anyway, it would require immersing him in water.

If that was all that was required, I say you could go right ahead. You could do it six times if you wanted. My kid loves the water.

There is no reason to think it would effect a magic change.

Helena: I don't believe you would, no one would.

In the name of education - and fun - we have celebrated the rituals of many religions. One year instead of Christmas we did Hanukkah. We made latkes, played dreidel, and lit candles every night for eight nights, and told our children the story of the miracle of the oil. It didn't turn my kids Jewish.

The next year we celebrated Kwanzaa. We did libations, took turns performing, and learned the Seven Values, again lighting candles each night. Obviously this did not turn them black.

We have celebrated Saturnalia, Solstice and Diwali without becoming any more Roman, Wiccan or Hindu. Last year just for fun we celebrated Life Day and spent the holiday wishing each other "May the force be with you." We didn't turn into Jedi. The only thing all this turned my kids into is more interesting, well-rounded individuals.

Celebrating and sharing human rituals and stories is wonderful. It's nothing to fear.

12-21-15 9:34Counting the Gods

Helena: A professor at Wheaton Christian College got suspended for telling students that Muslims, Jews and Christians all worship the same god. Um, no they don't. Christians worship a triune god.

MyMy: Absolutely and without any doubt, christians, jews and muslims worship the god of Abraham.

Helena: I do agree that Muslims worship the God of Abraham. However, unless and until a Jew or a Muslim is willing to worship Jesus as God the Son, then they truly do not worship the same God. I find it disrespectful to Muslims and to Jews to insist that they worship the same God as Christians.

The AFs are mutually exclusive. But why? How could millions of good people be wrong?

Nome: It's not a different God! It's like if you found out your father had another kid you never knew about. If you met as adults, you would have one idea of your dad, and your sib would have another, but it's the same man the whole time! Just like there is still one God, just one God, no matter how many groups have differing concepts of him.

So those crazy people who thought up Zeus and Athena just couldn't count the gods correctly.

Nome: Count the gods? What do you mean?

People made up these stories a long time ago. Some of the stories got passed around and changed. Stories changing is not a problem. The only problem is when people pretend the stories are about real things when they obviously are not.

The fact that monotheism and polytheism both exist is part of the obviousness. No one can count the gods. No one actually knows if there is one or many or none. There isn't the least bit of information available about gods from which to make a determination of their number - let alone about what they want you to do for the afterlife, or what day of the week they want you to take off.

So, every single thing that people are reporting about "gods" is just repeating what others said, which long ago some people just made up. Debating the content of these made up stories as if they were real is just ludicrous.

People will continue to spin their wheels in totally unnecessary conflict over "the gods" until they finally just admit that folktales are human things which have nothing to do with actual gods. If we want to know what this is, and what is in it, there is no reason to think what people thousands of years ago thought.

We can see for ourselves what this is and what it is like.

This is what the discussion needs to be about, far more often than it is. Thanks for letting me springboard it from your point.

Helena: How can all three be said to worship the SAME God as long as this fundamental disagreement exists?

Nobody is worshipping the same god. Every person is worshipping their own custom version.

Helena: People are entitled to believe what they believe.

The problem is that believing is not a good system.

Helena: If a whole group of Christians do not believe it's the same God, why it for anyone to say with certainty they are wrong?

It is possible to say with certainty that they have no clue what they are talking about and neither does any human. Nothing is known of gods.

That is why believing things about them is such a bad system. Anyone, or a whole group, can just declare anything they want. How could that possibly be good?

Helena: It is why it's called Faith. No one knows who is right, and everyone believes their beliefs are the right ones, and everyone else is wrong.

How is that supposed to be good?

Helena: Isn't that what freedom of religion is about.

Freedom of religion is about being free from interference from the state. That's important but a separate issue.

Helena: You can believe they are the same, someone else can believe they are not and someone else can say there is no such thing as God.

And then? Everybody just stands around declaring things, and nobody checks to see if what they are saying is true, and what everybody says is different and mutually exclusive? Again, how is that supposed to be good?

Helena: There is no winning or proof in the same God or not the same God.

That is why people should stop pretending to know anything at all about gods.

12-21-15 9:43Guy with a Gun

Karnie: It's about time! A local school district has approved arming teachers with guns.

Just having a gun does not make you a good guy with a gun.

Karnie: This is true, as a lot of criminals have them.

It is true as even non-criminals with guns are not "good guys with guns."

Karnie: Not sure how they're bad just because they have guns, but that's your opinion.

Wow, I didn't say they were bad. I said they weren't "good guys with guns."

Just having a gun does not make you qualified to take out a public shooter. It requires more than just a having a gun in your hand. It requires years of constant training, practice, drills, and a lifetime dedication to the profession. Otherwise, you are far more likely to injure yourself, or shoot an innocent.

The ONLY people qualified to be "good guys with guns" are trained law enforcement. Amateurs with a gun are at best neutral.

Karnie: Not true, there are many non law enforcement citizens that go through training.

Well in that case, why are we wasting billions of dollars on years of daily training and drills for professional SWAT teams? It's not making them any more qualified than a civilian who took a course!

Karnie: What do you even mean by lifetime dedication?

Choosing SWAT as a profession.

Karnie: I know quite a few people who have guns that practice much more than police officers.

Not just target practice - advanced tactical practice at securing locations, covert approach, threat identification, evasive maneuvers, maintaining radio contact, etc. Practicing drills with teams, performing building sweeps and mock combat training in hundreds of simulated scenarios. That's the life of a SWAT.

When a civilian spends his whole life, 40 hours a week, focusing on nothing but this, with an equally well-trained and coordinated team backing him up, I may agree that he is qualified to point a gun around school children. Not otherwise.

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