02-09-17 2:09  •  Did Obama Cause You Suffering?

Trump_Supporter: Liberal crybabies! Get used to President Trump!

We suffered for 8 years under Obama. Now it’s your turn.

Obama_Fan: You suffered under Obama? Really?

Like, how he saved the economy after the financial crash...that caused you suffering? How he let gays marry, halved the unemployment rate, halved the homeless rate, insured millions of people, tripled consumer confidence, doubled Pell grants, brought down abortion and crime, promoted green energy, killed Osama Bin Laden?

You call that suffering? How were you suffering!?

Obama did not address inequality. The 1% have most of the world's wealth, and it has become even more concentrated on his watch. People at the bottom don't have enough. That's suffering.

That said, this is not the solution.

Obama_Fan: How can you say that!? Obama wasn't perfect, but he was so much better than what we have now!

Of course. I don't disagree. I am proud to have voted for Obama, twice. I love the list of his accomplishments, because it highlights, not only how far Obama brought us, but how deep a hole we were in when he started. The guy deserves a medal. History will love him.

However, the question was about suffering. The conditions that created the massive, destabilizing inequality we are experiencing were not created by Obama, they have been around for over a century. He may not have been able to do much to change them, because they are systemic. Certainly not with an obstructionist Congress. So the suffering is not even Obama's fault.

But, it exists. Our society is massively, terribly unfair. The unfairness is causing suffering. The deprivation of those who do not have enough is causing suffering. The shape of the future with no place for ordinary people is causing suffering. Obama didn't cause it but it still happened. The suffering are incorrect to blame him but they are still suffering.

It's easy to list all the great things Obama did as if there could not be any suffering left after that, but there is.

Obama_Fan: They are not even comparable!

Of course not, which is why I said, this is not the solution. There is no problem of inequality which will not be made worse by the cabinet of gazillionaires.

So the suffering will continue, and become more widespread, eventually destroying the society. Unless we stop it.

01-22-17 2:17  •  Fat People

Sinca: I would never shame a fat person. Out loud. But in my head, you know we are all thinking the same thing - lose weight!! I'm not fat - why are you??

Humans evolved in extreme scarcity. At least some members of the group would have to be biologically programmed to store fat extremely efficiently. Especially in cold climes, a slow metabolism would be a lifesaver in famine. Whereas groups in hotter climes needed more individuals who could throw off heat more efficiently, so there were advantages to a faster metabolism.

Then these groups got mixed up and moved all around the globe, so which kind of metabolism you get is a genetic lottery.

Added to these factors is the massive availability of super-rich food, designed to super-stimulate basic instinctual drives. Also we have the invention of labor-saving technology, which each year renders the expenditure of calories less necessary. Then, as we are coming to find, each person is in a symbiotic relationship with their intestinal bacteria, and they too stimulate appetite - some types much more than others.

So, of course the confluence of genetics, technology and symbiosis means that some people never worry about looking fat and some struggle with their weight their whole lives. The last thing it means is that thin people are good at something fat people are bad at.

01-08-17 1:18  •  Logic

MorningTime: You seem to think you can just use "logic." But how do you personally base your logic on things that do not have all the facts straight? Or in an instance where we don't have all the facts? What sort of logic and reason do you use then?

I do the best I can, avoid jumping to conclusions, and admit I don't know or could be wrong when that is the truth.

MorningTime: Isn't logic percieved differently based on personality and possibly upbringing?

No more than math is perceived differently based on personality and upbringing.

01-07-17 1:17  •  Touché

NickJr: God heals all!

NotAshy: If that's true, then why do you use medicine?


I guess she left.

I never understood why they back down when the questions get too real.

For obvious reasons.

NotAshy: Touché!

01-05-17 5:55  •  Nothing to Worry About

NickJr: In the Old Testament, people needed to sacrifice animals to cover their sins, but Yeshua died as the Final Sacrifice. All sins are now covered with no need for animal sacrifice.

It's not just my mind. I have seen it. Yahweh has treated me exactly as He said He would in all cases according to His word.

Yeah, well, your assessment of how you have been "treated" is still just your mind. People with very strong beliefs employ extremely strong confirmation bias in these assessments. You could be wrong.

That is why it is important to actually check the reality of what you are claiming.

For example, there is nothing you can examine in reality which even mildly suggests that ritual animal sacrifice serves any kind of supernatural purpose. All that exists is people saying it does.

People can say anything. If it can't be confirmed in any way, it's usually nothing to worry about.

NickJr:*Shrugs* You have your opinions and I have what I know to be true.

It does not qualify as either knowing or truth if it is just talk. Both knowledge and truth require verifiable correspondence to reality.

NickJr: There really are no grounds for debate or argument.

Since your talk seems to be completely unhinged from reality, is devaluing reason and enabling a blood cult, I would say there are at least grounds for objection.

01-04-17 3:21  •  Make it Rich

ItsMe: What's going on with the political divide in America?

From what I can see there are two different sides...One believes that any man can make it rich, and the other side believes that the Govt is the way to make every person become better, but not rich.

Actually, no. Both parties claim that any man can make it rich, but the Democrats claim that a few people being rich and everyone else being poor is not enough. The Democrats believe that a society which works for the rich also has to work for the middle class, or there is no economy for anyone to get rich in.

ItsMe: As an employee for a private sector employer and small business owner, I just see the govt as a nuisance and hinderance.

"The government" is the people of America working together, using the tool of social organization our founders invented, to create a society in which businesses large and small can function on a foundation of public infrascructure. From the streets, to the courts, to the grid, to a healthy and educated workforce, all the pieces needed for markets to exist are arranged by our collective action.

That is not "the government" in the way of "business," that is Americans working together to make sure there is a safe place for people to do business.

01-03-17 1:12  •  Evil Evil

Sahara: God is a jealous god, or so I have heard.

That would be evil.

Sahara: But who gets to decide what evil is?

It is decided by people who are dealing with situations and evaluating them.

Sahara: What makes evil evil?

Assessments of good and ill can be derived from an evaluation of well-being vs. harm and suffering. "Evil" is usually reserved for situations with extreme harm and suffering.

I would assess that a "jealous god" punishing a human for "worshipping another god" would be evil. There is nothing inherently harmful about "worshipping" per se which makes it good when you do it to Yahweh and bad when you do it to Vishnu or Ahura Mazda or The Unnamed One. Particulary if the punishment is, as many Christians claim, eternity in the Bad Afterlife. The punishment would far outweigh the harmless "crime" of thinking something different, and would cause harm and suffering extreme enough to qualify as evil.

Luckily, there is no evidence that any gods punish anyone for anything.

Unfortunately, people often punish other people for worshipping different gods. This is because, long ago, it was very important to maintain distinct tribal identities, as I explained to Seventeen.

But, people have improved a lot on this score over the centuries, particularly in the last two. I think as we expand our in-group to include more and more people, it becomes less necessary to create artificial distinctions between in- and out-group.

Sahara: Nobody thinks they are evil. Hitler thought he was destroying evil. So was Hitler right or wrong and what makes him that way?

People who kill and torture millions of other people qualify as evil because they cause great harm and suffering. Did you forget the rubric already? Well-being = good, harm and suffering = ill, great harm and suffering = evil.

Sahara: And how could his version be "skewed" and our version on it be "right" ?

Some brains and some systems get skewed.

Sahara: Is it just a majority vote?

No, it is an evaluation of well-being vs. suffering. Sometimes the majority gets it wrong, but as we progress, people have found ways to create more well-being and less harm and suffering. It is a process of error correction. The moral arc of history bends toward justice, as Martin Luther King Jr. would say.

01-02-17 11:59  •  Anger of the Gods

Seventeen: Why is God so mad when people worship other gods? That's what the Bible says.

This is not an example of a god being mad. This is an example of a person saying a god was mad. People say this because, especially in those days, tribal units were very competitive with each other, and it was important to have very distinct markers on the tribes to separate "us" from "them."

One important marker of who is "us" and who is "them" is what gods are favored. People of the day said (and wrote) that their God was mad to scare people away from considering other gods, or any ideas of other people, and to cement loyalty to the group's own gods and leaders.

There is nothing to examine or observe about gods to figure out if they are ever mad or what gets them mad. It's just a lot of talk. People say the gods are mad all the time to advance their own agenda. Like evangelists a few years ago who claimed God was mad about gays so He destroyed New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina, or a few years later claimed that God was mad about legalized weed and so He destroyed Boulder with floods.

There is nothing to examine or observe to indicate that those events were, or could be, caused by gods, angry or otherwise. They appear to be a confluence of meteorological effects, not least of which is human-caused global warming.

If you understand how people work, you can understand why they say things about gods.

01-01-17 12:42  •  Feasible

Kathy: It's a new year, I just thought I could to give another shout again anyways.

I enjoy speaking with you too.

Kathy: I want to shout it from the roof tops! Jesus lives, so we can live with him!

Sure, if you like shouting bullshit. Jesus lived 2000 years ago, if at all. You are imagining a fairy godfather that is living with you now but it isn't anything real.

Kathy: I guess, I am trying to figure how you started believing in the Buddha.

I don't "believe in the Buddha." Buddha is not a magical figure. He was an ordinary human being just like you and me, who happened to figure out a good trick to make things work. He lived 2500 years ago - if at all.

But even if the Buddha story is not true, even if the good trick was figured out by someone else, it still works. You don't have to believe this, you can test it out yourself. So there is nothing to believe.

To answer your inquiry, I was introduced to Buddhism by my husband, an incredible human being who totally has his life together, has the patience of a saint and treats me like a queen. I asked him how he was so great, and he explained a bit of the system he uses, which includes some Buddhism. I started using it too and became likewise great.

Kathy: The Truth will set anybody free.

Yes, but you have to know the difference between truth and lies before you can use it to set yourself free. The difference is that truth can be verified.

Kathy: I think to be easier and faster to just ask God though. God, who made everything? God's Response would be me. Now that is very fast response, Right?

Of course you get an instant repsonse when you just ask yourself. You answer for god immediately. Unfortunately, when you do the voice, god only says what you want to hear.

Kathy: Seriously,

Who we are, in the Grand scheme of life?

We are this.

Kathy: We would give up everything we ever own for our children. So why it is indefeasible God did the same thing for all us?

There is no evidence that gods exist. There is no evidence that gods do anything. There is nothing to examine about gods to determine what, if anything, they do. All claims about gods are the work of human imaginations with nothing to go on.

A long time ago everybody made up stories to explain why food rotted, why the weather changed, and why bad (or good) things happened. Your religion is an ancient made up story too, just like the ones about Zeus and Thor and The Great Spirit. It's not different from other myths.

If you examine actual reality you will find a wonderland far more beautiful and amazing than the primitive people who made up your myth could have ever fathomed. We have thousands of years of discovery and learning to inform us. We now understand why food rots, why the weather changes and why a lot of things happen. We can now tell true stories about how things are and how they work.

You can tell this understanding is true because it can be verified, because it cures and prevents disease, and because it makes incredible things, like the screen you are staring at right now.

This is what "feasible" means - that it really works.

Read more in the Archives.