08-28-18 8:18  •  Spiritual Story

Katz: Have you never believed?

That is inconceivable to me. I can not remember a time in my 62 years of life that I did not believe in G-d. My knowledge of Him has changed through the years. From the typical kindergarten, "man on a cloud" idea, to distant life force of the universe, to a being so much greater than me that I can't comprehend, but that I can communicate with and that is intimately involved in my life. My story has evolved.

Don't you have a spiritual story?

I appreciate that you have reached out to me. I would be happy to tell you my spiritual story, etc. But, it sounds to me like you are not looking for a confrontation about your beliefs right now. And I think you would find what I have to say pretty confronting.

Katz: Hearing your story doesn't have to be confrontational, does it? You are sharing your personal experience...not trying to convince me that I am wrong for me.

My "spiritual story" is not a story about my personal experiences, which are not really relevant. It is a story about what I have learned and how I know it is true. I thought you might find that confrontational. But, I guess I'll let you decide.


I was raised secularly in no particular religion. I survived early adulthood and eventually met my husband, who introduced me to a very secular Buddhism.

Buddhism is about what, exactly, is the case. Over the years I have come to see that guessing games produce nothing. Nothing is known of gods, aftelives, divine interventions, etc. So why pretend?

I could see that gods, or any things about which nothing is known, are not known to be important. What is important is what can be known, like what is real and how to live. This can be determined by looking. That this works is abundantly demonstrated by the explosion of knowlege and ability achieved by humans since organized looking began.

But, in learning about Buddhism and many other religions, I saw that religion can be very useful. It brings people together in common culture and cause. It uses a story to bring together facts and values. When facts and values align it creates personal wholeness and social cohesion.

Most of the ancient religions attempt to do this with ancient stories. But, the ancient people who made those stories did not understand what we, today, understand.

So, in the interest of starting from scratch, unbeholden to any previous tradition, I decided to invent a completely new religion from the ground up, based on truth and the reality that any person today will unavoidably experience. If religion is to serve to provide social cohesion and personal wholeness, I thought, there should be a completely true religion available for that purpose.

That is how I conceived Neoism.

Neoism is based on the tenet that what is real matters, and that the truth is the best guide to navigating reality. It utilizes some spiritual and moral technology for creating human well-being. I feel comfortable declaring the claims of Neoism to be true because they can be verified by anyone.

For example, the cosmology of Neoism states that the universe began about 13.75 billion years ago. That this tenet is true can be verified using the Lambda-CDM concordance model, strongly supported by recent high-precision astronomical observations such as WMAP.

Neoism also states that meditation is a tool which works for transcending suffering. This is strongly supported by data showing that learning to meditate helps people to be calmer and have better moods.

So, my "spiritual journey" has been a quest to find out what is real, and how to know, and see if a life of happiness and rich spiritual fulfillment could arise from accurate understanding of reality. And, I have found that it does.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

That's really all there is to it, but I am happy to answer any questions that you have. I don't feel that if we don't agree, or even if we could never agree, that means we can gain nothing from the interaction. I gain every single time I have the opportunity to learn or be challenged.

Katz: If you would want to convince me to be like you, what do you think I would gain from becoming atheist?

Well, I am not really "an atheist," but I can certainly see a lot that anyone can gain from having an accurate understanding of reality. It allows what we think to align closely with what can be observed. This provides a great deal of understanding about what is happening which can be used to make sound decisions, among other things.

Katz: Or what would you gain from convincing me?

Are you serious? If I was able to convince a person to honor truth and get on board with reality, that would be a rhetorical triumph I could celebrate, and the development of a rhetorical skill which I could then employ to further all humanity. So, fun for me. And, there would be another voice for truth and reason in a world sorely lacking in them. That would be pretty good too.

Katz: How do you think I am hurting humanity by practicing my religion?

I think the distance between unverified claims about reality and how reality actually is creates a lot of error.

Katz, the opportunity to write out "my story" is priceless to me. Thank you again so much for sharing with me and allowing me to do the same. It is a great honor to speak with you. Please let me know if you would like to speak further. I am interested in anything you have to say.


Katz: Actually I do have some questions, now that I know what you are saying.

I thought you might.

Katz: You said, "Nothing is known of gods, afterlives, divine interventions, etc." Really? Was this your experience of Buddhism?

It is not personal experience. Nothing is known for certain about these things at all, to any person. No fact can be demonstrated to be true about gods, afterlives, etc. Nothing, not one thing, is known of them. Conjecture, yes. Knowledge, no.

Katz: You said, "I could see that gods, or any things about which nothing is known, are not known to be important." That's a claim! Are not known to be important to whom?

Again, not "to" a person. Important in general, as in, having great effect or consequence. There are no known effects of gods. If gods exist, they are not "doing" anything apparent. Their role is so insubstantial that it cannot be verified in any way. So, not really important for understanding what is happening and how actual things work. At least, not demonstrably more important than any other unsubstantiated conjecture.

Katz: Torah says G-d can be known.

A lot of people say a lot of things. Just saying something is meaningless.

Katz: if observation tells us what is real and what is real is what is true, How is it that two witnesses to an accident or any other event will tell two different stories, not exactly the same.

Easy. One or both of them is wrong.

You may not be able to tell which. Sometimes the truth is that we can't tell what really happened. "I don't know" is a true answer too.

However the "witnessing an accident" kind of looking is not organized looking, which is what I specified. Organized looking is examining over and over and testing and recording and comparing results and revising the hypothesis to match the observation and examining again and comparing and publishing the data and having others point out the errors and correcting them and over time becoming more accurate.

After an accident you might have to admit that you can't tell which description is more accurate. After organized looking you can very often show which descriptions are the most accurate and refine them for even more accuracy.

Katz: How has the atomic bomb or the cellphone shown us how to live?

We have learned how to live by a similar process of looking at what works and what doesn't, in the laboratory of history. For example, we figured out a couple of centuries ago that institutionalized slavery was not working, and a century or so before that we figured out how to work a constitutional representative democracy, modeled on previous examples. The learning process continues through trial and error...particularly error.

Katz: Do you think human nature has changed over the past 5000 years?

Not much, but what is known and how to check have changed a lot. And that has changed everything else.

Katz: I think here we need a definition of religion.

This is the one I am using. It is from dictionary.com.

1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

Neoism is a set of ideas concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe, moral conduct, etc., especially (but not necessarily) when concerned with gods.

Concern with gods is not required for religion.

Katz:I would consider Neoism as a philosophy, not a religion since it has nothing to do with spiritual or supernatural.

I disagree that religions have to be concerned with the supernatural. In any case, I am going to continue to use the term as per definition 1 above.

Katz: Judaism posits a dual reality--an earthly reality and a spiritual reality.

People can say anything.

Katz: What is the source of truth?

Truth refers to statements that correspond accurately to what they are describing. The source of accuracy in statements is checking.

Katz: And what exactly is this spiritual and moral technology...

Methods for spiritual and moral achievement. Meditation is technology for achieving the spiritual goal of inner peace, for example. For another, you might have heard of the question, "What would Jesus do?" This is a kind of moral technology - it is a protocol, a technique for figuring out the right thing to do. Neoism describes a simple mnemonic aid you can run as an app right on your hand for figuring out moral action in any circumstance.

Katz: ......and where did it come from?

Meditation, I learned about from Buddhism. But the Mind App I made up myself.

Katz: What human well-being is the end result?

The result of meditation is that you learn how to be calm and alleviate suffering. More calm and less suffering allows for greater happiness.

The result of using a moral rubric is better, or at least more thoughtful, decisions.


Katz: So you have created a religion, then say you are comfortable with it's truthfulness. I'm sure all the others before you who created religions and other isms were also comfortable with the truthfulness of their propositions.

Please do not insult yourself by failing to read to the end of the sentence. I said, because the claims can be verified by anyone.

The part you ignored is the important part.

My comfort is not the reason the claims are true. The claims are true because they are accurate descriptions of reality which can be verified by anyone.

Katz: Furthermore, in science, the contemporaries of Christopher Columbus were comfortable maintaining that the earth was flat.

Wow, I can't believe you even suggested this. Are you seriously not aware that people in the time of Columbus did not think the earth was flat? They knew the earth was round, because it could be observed to be round. What they thought was that voyage West to India by sea was too far. What they didn't know was that North America was in between.

Anyway, that was not "in science," and people who claimed the earth was flat, or whatever, were NOT doing organized looking and they were NOT basing their claims on data. They were just repeating dogma.

The claims of truth which work are a result of organized looking and are supported by data - observations of actual reality which can be verified by anyone. That is different from repeating dogma.

Katz: Comfort declaring that something is true is no proof of truth.

Comfort is not the proof and I did not suggest it was. The astronomical data is the proof. The studies of brain activity and increased happiness are the proof. That is the part that can be verified by anyone. If you go all the way to the end of the sentence you get to the part about what makes it truth.

Katz: It seems to me that the reality of existence for a Harlem dweller, a member of an Australian aboriginal tribe, you (wherever you are) and me on my Galilee mountain top is very different.

Oh, not so much. We are all mammals. We are all falling to the earth at about 32.2'/sec². We can all verify the claims that this universe is approximately 13.75 billion years old. Almost everything we share.

Katz: How does this unite humanity?

By being an accurate description of the reality we are all in.

Kasz, thank you again, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing this discussion with me. I understand our schedules - and outlooks! - are very different, but I appreciate the time you have taken to speak with me. Please let me know if there is anything else I can clarify or if you have any further questions, or feel free to tell me more about your ideas. I am enjoying the discussion very much.

With warm regards,


06-18-18 6:18  •  Rewarding the Rich

Thomas: so glad we finally got a good president who is Good for Business! As a society, shouldn't we be rewarding people for working smart?

Do you think they should be rewarded proportionately? Do you think there are some people who are working fourteen billion times smarter than others?

Thomas: yes - bill gates is working a billion times smarter than anyone else -

What exactly did he do that was a billion times smarter than anything any other person has ever done?

Thomas: I don't know his whole history but from what I do know - he started his own business from scratch - smart.

Please. A lot of people start their own businesses. That doesn't make them billions of times smarter than anyone else.

Bill Gates was hired to provide an operating system. He did not invent or create one himself...he just bought one (MS DOS). MS DOS was clunky and stupid and not superior in any way to the other OSs of the day, like the one developed by Xerox Park, but it just happened to be the one chosen by IBM, and IBM already had a large share of the business market at the time because of a long history of providing tabulating machines which used punch cards. Bill Gates just happened to be in the right place at the right time, nothing more. So Bill Gates was not smarter, he was just luckier.

Thomas: He built it up to this huge thing that everyone wanted - Very smart.

Computer power users will tell you that Unix, SUN, and even Apple had far superior products available, but Microsoft crushed all competition with unfair business practices. Steve Jobs did far more to actually advance computer technology than Bill Gates did. But since the Apple was adopted primarily by academia ("smart people") and PCs were adopted by business ("rich people"), in those days they never had a chance to fairly compete.

Thomas: He made all the "accessories" only compliant with Microsoft, all kinds of programming languages, programs are only for Microsoft - the ones everyone uses are only microsoft complaint.

Microsoft did not develop word processing - Word Perfect did. They did not develop spreadsheets - Lotus did. They did not invent the web browser - Mozilla did. They did not invent desktop publishing - Harvard Graphics and Corel did. Microsoft did not develop the hardcore high level programming languages like C, Fortran, Cobol, Pascal or Basic. Microsoft was a day late and a dollar short on every important productivity software development. But because they had the business market, they were able to use financial pressure to drive every single competitor out of business. They put a stranglehold on the market place which has prevented competition and held back innovation in every field for decades.

Microsoft has been hauled into court many times on anti-trust challenges. Microsoft became wealthy by having a monopoly on infrastructure, which even our government concedes is unethical and crippling to a fair marketplace.

Real computer experts know that Microsoft products are crap which barely work. They rush their products out before they are even finished and charge businesses massive fees in updates, patches and support. It's like a doctor who infects you with a disease and then charges you for the cure.

Furthermore, from what I understand, Bill Gates is personally a toad without a shred of ethics. He never lifted a finger to contribute a dime to anyone other than himself until after he married Malinda. Apparently she told him that history would not view him a very good light unless he did something to clean up his image. So, like J.D. Rockefeller before him - another monopoly toad - he devoted himself to charitable works in an effort to polish his PR. Malinda makes up every bit of compassion or charity in that union.

Thomas: If someone was smarter than him in not only doing but taking advantage of the oppurtunity (in regards to the computer industry) I'd be curious as to who?

If you have never heard of the true innovators in the computer world - Jobs & Wozniak, Dan Bricklin, Andy Hertzfeld, Conway & Mead, Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds, Andy Bechtolsheim, and the team at Xerox Park, it is because Microsoft has endeavored to crush all memory of the people who invented and created our computer world under the weight of the monopoly who contrived to sell it to us.

Thomas:But I think what your really asking is more of a relatvie question - can you really measure "smart", I think you can to some degree, and when you are "working smart" with the intend of earning money - then it's even easier to measure "smart".

Only if you insist on equating smart with rich. They are hardly the same. Many unsung geniuses, people who actually had extremely high levels of intelligence, are the ones who actually thought of the ideas we use every day. But Bill Gates gets the credit - and the money.

Bill Gates is a swindler and his wealth is largely made up of ill-gotten gains. If that's "smart," it's not the good kind of smart.

LinuxPenguin: Thank you!! This is everything I wanted to say but couldn't. Microsoft is a bad word at our house. My husband can't say it without spitting twice.

Mine likes to say that there is a special room in hell where Bill Gates will be slapped once across the face for every time somebody gets the blue screen of death. Should keep him busy for all eternity.

06-14-18 6:21  •  My Decision

Sandy: I really don't care what you are anyone else thinks about what I believe. It's my decision...and really, none of you should be concerned about it.

Unreason is a matter of great concern. It is destroying the ability of our society to make wise choices.

Sandy: You always bring up proof. I don't have to prove my God to you all.

The point of mentioning proof is to demonstrate the unreason.

Sandy: If my belief in my God bothers any of you, then you will have to just get over it.

Unreason is hurting you as much as anyone.

05-24-18 1:21  •  Vision for the Future

I posed the following question:

What is your vision for the future? Of our society, of humanity? What would it look like if your dreams came true for Planet Earth? What would society be like? What would daily life be like? I'd like to hear what people consider to be an ideal way of life in the future, a vision that humanity could be working toward. What is yours like?

Allexe: Ugh. IDK. There's no such thing as an Utopian society. It will never happen. Even Eden wasn't Utopian.

We are Utopians compared to previous ages. The future, unless we totally screw it up, will have great ideas and inventions and systems that work better than anything we have thought of yet. It won't be Utopia, but it could be healthier and more fun.

Even if you think it is impossible, what would you like to see?

Romano: It's going to be idiocracy or Wall-E.

That's inspiring!

But seriously - unavoidable? If so, what would you prefer to see?

Good4Goose: Peace. After people finally realize there’s no good justification for war and killing and aggression.

Some people like it. And it's very natural. So, we should have voluntary Thunderdomes.

Little Lizzy: Wait, what? ????

The purpose of imagining the future is to determine HOW to make life work well. Based on how humans act now, and how they have always acted, and how we are evolved to act, some people enjoy violence. That makes sense; you would have to have some individuals in your tribe who could act with violence for sustenance or protection, or your tribe would die out. Of course it still exists as part of human nature today.

That is only a problem if the violent involve the unwilling. We can create outlets, ranging from American Gladiators (where nobody gets hurt) to Thunderdomes (where people voluntarily fight to the death if they choose) and people can exercise their natural proclivities, and indulge in whatever level of violence they enjoy, without harming the innocent or unwilling.

As long as all involved are doing it by informed choice, the violent can wallop the crap out of each other for all I care. I'm not utopian enough to think we can change human nature. I am trying to think of ways we can keep the jungle behavior we evolved from damaging the civilization we are trying to create.

Thanks so much for asking Little Lizzy!

Little Lizzy: Very interesting. Any way to reduce violence against innocents is worth looking at, because you are right about human nature.

Romano: My Science Fiction creative vision isn't so good. I don't know what peace, love and rainbows looks like.

It looks like raves, lol. The opposite of war is not peace. It's partying!

Selena: My vision is to be at a place where we see color, but define people by their character or actions (not because of their color).

I'd like to think we could be like the first season of Dr. Who, where the whitest actress in London had an AA (AB?) boyfriend and beings of every color and form and species mixed it up in every way and no one even noticed anything weird about it. There have been real places and times - ports, mainly - which looked like the Cantina in Mos Isley with so many different types of people coming together. I know we can do it.

But, people are tribal will always enjoy rallying around groups. I hope in the future it is confined to entirely optional and self-selecting groups. Down with racism, up with football hooliganism!

Selena: We allow and support people to make decisions for themselves, especially when it doesn't impact or hurt others (i.e. gay marriages, pro-choice, religion, etc.).

I agree that to work the society of the future would have to support basic self-determination for all.

Selena: Though we all make different levels of income, we acknowledge the disparity but aim for equity for basic needs for all people.

Agreed, we don't need equal outcomes, but we need fair outcomes, and an impenetrable bottom.

Selena: We prioritize education and health care for everyone and properly invest in without adding individual or debt to specific groups of people.

Providing for health and education is providing infrastructure. Without them you get a sick and ignorant society. In the future they will be free at delivery, but all everyday things will be, in the invisible economy.

Your ideas are compassionate and informed, thanks again for the response Selena!

Pete: My vision is, balance and equality for the majority. And less of a need to "go, go, go" and more of a need to sit back and enjoy life.

Artificial busywork is destroying the planet. We have to stop or we will be stopped.

Pete: More patience and understanding and less division.

These are skills which can be taught. They will be basic to future curricula.

RePete: Equality to me doesn't mean that everyone has the same amount of stuff or money.

Equality means that everyone has equal enfranchisement, no matter what they "have." In fact, I would like to see a future where "having" is meaningless to most.

RePete: Equality to me is the opportunity for every child to be the best they can be...

Humans are very competitive and we just love to hierarchically rank ourselves. There will always be structures in which people can compete for rank, which produce winners and losers. As long as this is voluntary and completely separate from a) subsistence, and b) enfranchisement, it will harness our competitive spirit without crushing the losers.

RePete: ...and to never have to experience abuse and/or neglect.

We already care so much more about preventing abuse and neglect than any humans ever have. We will care even more in the future and have even better ways to help prevent it.

RePete: Unfortunately many human beings are horrid, so my vision will most likely never come true.

Humans are both horrid and amazingly wonderful. So much of what you envision is already true, better now than ever before. Barring disaster, we will continue to error-correct and improve.

RePete, it has been a delight to speak with you, thanks!

Agatha: Unlimited diversity respectfully cooperating.

I'd like to see a world in which humans much like those alive now can work in harmony with genetically altered humans, technologically enhanced humans, uploaded humans, hive minds, AIs, or hybrids thereof. And also with their environment, both in space and other species on the Earth. Or, as they choose, doing their own things, to the affordable extent that that can be allowed given the restraints of limited resources and not harming each other (and sensible but minimal monitoring to keep the risk of that same within acceptable bounds).

That's going to take greater intelligence/education/tolerance/wisdom that our species has yet collectively attained, possibly to the extent that the definition of "human nature" will significantly shift.

I don't want to see a single imposed "ideal way". I'm more in favour of a positive spread of vectors and momentums, than a predefined path or destination.

You will make a great uploaded human.

Agatha: I would have. I'd posted sufficient to CafeMom that an AI could have made a partial reconstruction of my mind from it. Alas, that won't happen now. :-(

That's what my blog is for. ;-)

Tuttle: I have quite a gloomy outlook for planet earth ...but tend to carry on as if there will always be a tomorrow.

Good Plan A!

Tuttle: Ultimately I think humans will kill the humans off.

We have taken over for every other sizable animal. Plus, we have a very generic form, much like the small mammals who survived the end of the dinosaur age to fill every ecological niche. If we do not die off, we may be the progenitors of many different kinds of lifeforms. Particularly if we integrate with AI - that is Plan B.

Still no guarantees. If that's possible, how come no one else in the universe has visibly done it? But, we got this far by surviving and we are evolved to survive, so we will keep trying until there is nothing left of us. So, see Plan A!

Tuttle: If space travel for eternity becomes possible...humans may survive off world.

Anything is possible - see Plan B!

I have really valued reading your contributions over the years, Turtle, so thank you so much for replying!

SpiritSpace: It would be nice if the people of this world could see beyond our differences and see how we are alike but I seriously doubt that will ever happen. This site is almost concrete proof that it will never happen.

I was just thinking that this site was concrete proof that it is happening. Our country is currently divided ten ways from Sunday, but this forum is no silo, where people only engage with their own cheering section. On CM, people started talking and kept talking across the aisle, across the divisions...without even killing each other, the way people used to settle arguments. This is evidence of human progress.

We are such a young civilization. We just haven't quite got the hang of everything yet.

SpiritSpace: However, being a big scifi/horror fan and a bit demented, I can picture dozens of ways humanity will come to an end.

There is something irresistible about imagining it, lol. Yet I think it's really important for some people to try to imagine how things could work better. We have mostly inherited systems, full of flaws. We could be proactive and imagine how it would be if we designed our own systems, based on what really works.

You are a force of nature, Space, and I hope you continue to have great power in your life wherever you go! Thanks again!

Cooties: Do you want what I think will happen, or what I want to happen?

How much time do you have? Both, or whichever would be more fun to describe.

Cooties: Well...

I do not forsee a very good future for many. A few will find their way.

I see hatred on the rise and dissatisfaction. Much of that will continue to be fueled by the media.

I see more control going into the government under the guise of helping the downtrodden when it is a means to control them more and to make the gap wider.

I see people turning on each other because of the finger pointing pushed by the media (as an arm of government).

I see fire and firemen being killed if they go to try to put it out.

I see certain groups having no say over their own body parts and pieces removed for transplants into others. I see babies and older people and the handicapped killed for existing by both the government and the people around them. After all they suck up the resources that young strong people need and want.

In the world that would never come about.

Everyone is productive in what they want to do. They are basically allowed to get what they like or need within reason. Not really money at all.

This would leave us with a "prettier" more cared for world. But there would be an understanding that all of us are different and all of us are the same.

I see advances in almost every area but more interaction with each other and less with technology. Technology is a way of life but not all of life. There is some time to do work and some to do other interests. Child rearing is a collective in smaller communities (as a whole) Basically no huge cities.I see education as a semi formal and also as individuals taking time to help children learn about the things that the adult does (work and play).

I also see what you might say as enough for all. There is more than enough food, vegetable and animal for everyone to eat as they like.

I could go on but I am out of time. Oh, and houses clean themselves.

You have both dismaying and uplifting vision. It's up to us which one happens.

I will make sure your beautiful vision is valued in every way I can. If enough people want it, and we clear a path to there from here, it can happen.

Thank you so much for your frightening and inspiring post! I hope to run into you someday, working alongside for your better vision!

Cooties: I would like that too. But, what do you see?

Garden Earth

Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere just passed 410 parts per million. 350 per million was considered the maximum that civilization could withstand just a few years ago. Getting control of earth's climate will be our #1 priority. Vast spaces of land will need to be terraformed and reforested and reherded to restore their capacity to function as ecosystems. But, most of it will be 'tended' in some fashion. Truly wild spaces will not exist because we will domesticate every square inch, but we will harness it for verdancy.

If few wild species survive the current exinction event, the verdant spaces will be populated with bizarre, interesting creatures of our genetic manufacture. I don't fear for the future of pandas; we can now just make a panda. But why stop there?

Automation will bring to an end what will later be known as the Toil Age - when people had to toil to survive. It will be replaced with an invisible economy. The basic needs of life will be met automatically, unquestioningly, for all. With JIE (Just Intelligent Enough) AIs and robots doing the toil, humans will be free to create meaning for their lives through pursuing their passions and enhancing their capacities. Without toil, people will be able to pursue art, invention, service, science, education and philosophy to a heretofore unheard of degree.

If only a small fraction of those people create great art, or great invention, or great cures, it will be worth it to have unleashed everyone's potential. And it would be worth it for people to spend their lives pursuing goals of their own choosing.

It's not soon enough to have this in the future. We are destroying the planet with overwork. It's also destroying the human spirit - about half of workers in this country have Bullshit Jobs., without meaning. The fact the people are longing to contribute, to work in ways that matter instead of for a buck, is a great sign for the future.

VulcanMind: I would like to see Gene Roddenberry's world. Global peace, no famine, space exploration, transporters and replicators.

I am pretty certain history will consider Roddenberry a visionary. He dared to dream that humans could have what they want. So few people even give themselves permission to imagine a future that works!

I'd like to make an important point about Gene's vision, though. Gene was adamant that in his fictional future society, they would not have money. For all of the original series with Kirk and for the first couple of seasons on The Next Generation, the characters in the Federation were unconcerned with matters of exchange.

However, rumor has it that the show's writers didn't like this dictum at all. They wanted to write scripts where objects had relative value, and where characters could be motivated by acquisition. So, when Gene Rodenberry died and his head writer, Rick Berman, ascended to assume creative control, he eased Roddenberry's dictum. He allowed the writers to develop an imaginary currency, called "gold-pressed latinum," which eventually came in slips, strips, and bars. This gave them more flexibility to create dramatic tension over material value, depicting some things as worth more and others worth less.

Of course, this currency wasn't used primarily by The Federation. It was the domain of the Ferengi, a "Yankee Trader" race who care only for money and live by a constitution called The Rules of Acquisition. This race is depicted as a bunch of primitive, greedy little weasels who are concerned only with more. They are shallow schemers who are clearly missing out on what is really important in life, not to mention all matters of galactic significance. They might have lots of latinum, but they are regarded practically as second class citizens.

Back in our real world, the titans of capital remind me of the Ferengi. My answer to what to do about them is the same as how Starfleet handled the Ferengi: Let them. Let them strive to out-fortune each other and amass ever-larger numbers on computer screens. Modest percentages scraped off their fortunes in the form of financial transaction taxes will pay for creating an infrastructure in which to operate. Anyone who wanted to could join in the brutal race for capital. Some love it; let's harness their greed.

However most people would never have to be concerned with any of that. It would run behind the scenes, important only to those doing it. At delivery, what would be produced is adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, healthcare, entertainment, worthwhile pursuits and cultural uplift for everyone. They could spend their lives in pursuit of their interests and talents, with no fear that it might not pay the rent. People would not do busywork. They would just be, in splendor.

We have plenty of Ferengi, and they should take turns gracing the cover of Richest magazine, which only they buy because only they care. As long as "money" does not interfere with access to infrastructure and enfranchisement, we don't need to think about it. I call it an invisible economy, and I think that is really what Rodenberry had it mind.

Thanks for bringing up one of my heroes, and for being an all-around wonderful person. Hope to catch you around!

Love, Raver

Jondayla: I envision a nonviolent world. Where violence is the only real crime. And rehabilitation is the answer.

I agree. In many ways we have created a toxic, dysfunctional society, where people suffer. Yet, we punish them for struggling against this system, or for lashing out in frustration. Sure they are wrong, but so is imprisoning people. That is a crime against humanity. And two wrongs don't make a right.

In the future, instead of being put in cages, people who don't know how to act morally will be taught to act morally, and cured of physical and social ailments that cause them to act wrong. Only those who cannot be repaired, and are a danger, will be confined, and not as punishment, but only as a matter of public safety.

Jondayla: It’s only possible if wealth is shared evenly.

I agree in principle but I'd like to clarify. I don't think wealth needs to be shared evenly. But, it needs to be allotted fairly. And, wealth cannot be allowed to determine access to infrastructure - that is, what is needed to get by, or enfranchisement - that is, a say in what happens. As I mentioned in the Gene Rodenberry post, the "wealthy" can pose for pictures in front of piles of gold to show off how shallow they are. As long as everyone else has what they need, hoarded gold matters only to the hoarders.

Thanks again Jondayla!

MadEyeMoody: I have a vision.

Wotcher, Madeye! So wonderful to speak with you on such an important topic!

MadEyeMoody: No religion. Can you imagine a world without the “my god is better than yours”?

I agree this would be a better world if most of the current religions were quaintly left behind us, like we did with Zoarastrianism and astrology. For one thing, we don't turn to people of the bronze age for instruction on how to construct a plumbing system, or a university, or a rocket ship, or a democracy. We should not be worshipping their advice on how to think and act. Much of it is just plain wrong, and we have learned so much since then! We can do better now.

For another, the ancient religions are largely concerned with the supernatural. We can't blame the bronze-age tribesmen for this. "My god is better than yours" was a hugely successful strategy for tribal survival. But, having morality and social norms and behavior dictated by ancient superstitions doesn't work. What the tribesmen thought, while understandable, is just too different from how things really are. We cannot wring a working system from their ideas.

We are seeing the symptoms of this all around us. I have been arguing for years that the difference between what religions say, and how things really are, is untenable. It requires undermining reason, the system that does work for determining truth. And so what has happened? We are in "post-truth" and nobody knows what information can be trusted. Maintaining supernatural religions into the modern era requires such low epistemic standards, we have now reached an epistemic crisis.

So, you are not wrong.

With all that said, though, I'd like you to consider why humans invented religion in the first place. A professor of religious studies wrote a book called Religion is Not About God. He says it is really about therapy and politics, or personal wholeness and social cohesion. This five minute clip explains his views. He says that humans invented religion to bring together facts and values in a coherent whole. I think at least some humans still need systems of ritual and appreciation and moral instruction, and ways to bring together facts and values, maybe more than ever.

The key would be replacing ancient religions, full of whatever, with deliberately-designed religions based on reasoned truth. That is, based on real facts and real values, derived from observation of reality. If that seems impossible, consider Zen Buddhism. The central tenet is that humans have suffering caused by natural mental activity, and changing the activity changes the experience. Simple, testable, no supernaturalism; just a system for improving the quality of human life.

In the future, I can picture a world where some people meet regularly before a beautiful altar, to think deeply about their place in the universe, to take instruction on how to be better, and to honor the passages of life in fellowship, with the comfort of time-honored rituals. If it is a system that is true and works, I see no problem with this. I think the future could be vibrant with humanistic religions.

Thank you for letting me sum up years of thinking on this topic. I have enjoyed your bright personality and I always look closer when I see your name on a thread. Best wishes! ~Raver

MadEyeMoody: But how are you going to change people's apparently hardwired need to have power and control over others?

I think, like all the other dangerous things we come hardwired with, we can harness and channel it.

For one thing, we do need leaders for some things. So, it's actually a good thing that some people like to step up and be the ones to make the decisions. As long as they have a mandate and there are checks and balances on their power, leader-types can exercise some control while they serve society.

For another thing, we can have all kinds of systems, clubs, teams, orders, institutions and social structures where people compete with each other to climb in the ranks. To continue the Roddenberry analogy, consider Starfleet, a martial organization where officers work and study to try to win limited numbers of command positions. It is depicted as a pure meritocracy, where positions of authority are awarded to the deserving by dint of their hard work, talent, grit, etc. The struggle produces winners and losers, with a few admirals and captains at the top and a lot of lieutenants and ensigns below.

But, unlike our real system, their Starfleet rank is utterly unconnected from their ability to live in comfort and security and have their needs met. As long as access to infrastructure and enfranchisement is not connected to rank, our natural tendency to order ourselves into hierarchies will not be a problem.

MadEyeMoody: I think if we could remove that gene, then we would have a shot at having a more just world.

The answer is to have a very good system of laws, with checks and balances and oversight, so that leaders are answerable to the rest of us for how they lead. Then when bad leaders come along, as they do from time to time, the system will reject them and continue.

Thanks so much to everyone for participating! Best wishes for your future, Ladies, and I hope to see you around!

05-20-18 11:12  •  Is it a religion? Is that enough?

Sleestax: It would make me giggle if sometime in the future, there was no proof of the Christian god, but say Buddha was proven, or Krishna? I'd have a laugh at that!

There is nothing about the Buddha that is important to prove. Maybe he never even existed...it makes no difference.

What is important is, does the system really work? This can be determined by verification.

Sleestax: It was just a joke.

I appreciate the humor, but supernatural religion is very problematic. There are very few opportunities to discuss it. The differences between Buddhism and Christianity can be the difference between having this problem and not having it.

Sleestax: Isn't most religion supernatural based?

I would agree that most religion is supernatural based. However not all religion is, and it doesn't have to be. Religion was invented by humans to maintain personal wholeness connected to social cohesion, and it is important for that purpose. Early people filled their religions with supernatural claims, because they didn't understand what was happening around them (and they didn't yet know what a bad idea that is.)

We don't have to make that mistake today. It is possible to have a system that works for wholeness and connection without making supernatural claims. Zen Buddhism is one of these. We could create others. Religion is important, it shouldn't be left to the chance of history and geography.

Sleestax: Well the Buddha was proven to have been a real person. They haven't even irrefutably proven that Jesus existed, lol.

It's hard to prove anything about specific people from so long ago, and usually it doesn't matter. But ironically, the Buddha could have been created by a committee of writers, and it wouldn't change the working principle of Buddhism, that learning to focus your attention can alleviate suffering. On the other hand, if Jesus was just a committee, that kind of calls into question the whole 'salvation' thing. :-)

Thanks again Sleestax!

Clariton: In order for something to be counted as a religion, which (if any) of the following 6 questions do you think it should address?

Etiology ("What happened in the past?")
Cosmology ("What is life, the universe and everything? How does it work? What is human nature?")
Eschatology ("What is going to happen in the future?")
Epistemology ("How do we know this?")
Philosophy ("What should our goals be?")
Praxeology ("How should we try to attain those goals?")

I think "being counted as a religion" is not the most important thing about a religion. Make up a religion that addresses none of these, who cares? I might still 'count it as a religion' even if I thought it was useless.

In order to be useful, a system of personal or social order - religion or otherwise - should address all of them.

That is why when I invented Neoism - more of an art project than a religion, I admit - I built it to be able to address these questions with verifiably truthful answers.

According to Neoism:

Etiology ("What happened in the past?")

It looks like an exploding star ejected matter large enough to be its own star. Clumps of matter accreted out of the surrounding dust clouds to become planets. One of these was the right distance from the sun to maintain liquid water, and with lots of organic compounds being churned and smashed by vulcanization and cosmic rays, some molecules twisted into a shape which was self-replicating. The ones of these which could continue replicating are still with us today and are us. Also some other things happened like Jupiter.

Cosmology ("What is life, the universe and everything? How does it work? What is human nature?")

"What is this?" is the fundamental question of life, the universe and everything. The answer is not 42. The answer is, "This."

Eschatology ("What is going to happen in the future?")

It looks like the sun will go nova, but we could be wrong.

Epistemology ("How do we know this?")


Philosophy ("What should our goals be?")

Our primary goal is ever the same - to get by. The next is to have things work well.

Praxeology ("How should we try to attain those goals?")


Since I'm using checking as the means, one might ask, why bother having a religion to address these questions at all, why not just address them with our checking system, science? The answer is, why join Chess Club when we have a Strategic Games club which includes Chess? It's because sometimes you want something more focused on your interests.

Thanks Clariton, always a pleasure!

05-19-18 10:20  •  "Keeping Up" the Disabled

Caratin: An Oklahoma GOP candidate proposed euthanasia for the disabled and the poor, to avoid food stamps. “Sorry but euthanasia is cheaper and doesn’t make everyone a slave to the Government,” his account tweeted. “Why should American taxpayers have to keep up people who cannot contribute to society any longer?”

The same people who don't want to support those who can't "contribute to society," don't want to contribute to society with their support. So why keep them up?

05-18-18 5:37  •  Moving the Embassy

Vic20: Other Presidents have talked about it, but Trump finally did it! He moved the embassy to Jerusalem! Finally, a president that made things right for the well-deserving, God-fearing Christians!

GelPen: Wait, what? How is this for Christians?

GelPen: You can't be serious. What does this mean?

The Christians want the Jews lined up in place for the End Times, where a third to a half of them will die and the rest will convert to Christianity. It's called "dispensational pre-millennialism," or as my husband calls it, "Fuck the Jews."

Vic20: No! As Christians, we support the Jews!

Christians trying to get the Jews in their prophetical place so they can be killed or otherwise extinguished is an extremely self-serving form of "support."

05-17-18 2:17  •  A Big Bang Theory

MyMy: Article = New Images Support 'Big Bang' Theory

Gemini: Thank you for the interesting article. But it is all research in progress. It has not been proven when exactly conception of the Universe occurred. Also it has not been proved 100% how the conception occurred. It is still an unproved Theory.

Compared to what? Please give an example of a theory you would consider "proven." How does the Big Bang theory fail to meet the criteria for "proven" that applies to other theories you accept?

And, even supposing there is some failure in the criteria for proven, this suggests what exactly? That nothing is known about anything? That a description of a physical event which left behind lots of evidence presents no more understanding of reality than ideas with no referents, no evidence and no predictive ability?

Gemini: Explain why you say the Big Bang Theory is very accurate.

The Big Bang theory is very accurate because it is a description of reality which can be shown to closely match the reality which it describes. I would say the accuracy is reflected in several ways:

1) The equations which calculate the previous configuration of the universe are based on accurate measurements of the speed and direction of everything observable. Modern, sophisticated measuring equipment continues to confirm that objects are moving through space in exactly the way they are described to be moving by the theory.

2) There is a high degree of accuracy in the estimated timescales. The universe can be shown to be approximately 13.77 billion years old, plus or minus only about 59 million years. That is shorter than the time on earth since the dinosaurs - an eyeblink in the timescales we are talking about. This is a very small margin of error.

3) The Big Bang theory has shown an extremely accurate predictive ability. For example, it was determined in the 50s that if the Big Bang had occurred, it would have almost certainly left behind a signature of residual radiation in a particular microwave band. By the 60s a background radiation field was discovered in exactly the microwave band where the theory predicted it must be.

There are many other examples. Most recently, the Standard Model of Physics - a theory of "almost everything" which includes specific descriptions of the states of matter and energy immediately following a big bang - got a huge boost with the discovery of evidence for the existence of the Higgs Boson. Again, this was discovered exactly where the equations said it would have to be for the expansion model of the early universe to work.

So, because the theory is using measurements which are shown to be accurate, because it is shown to have a small margin of error, and because the model is capable of very accurate predictions, I would describe the Big Bang theory as being very accurate.

Thanks for such a great question Gemini!

Gemini: I'm not going to compare it to another theory. The fact is - The Big Bang has not been proven.

Do you consider some things proven, just not the BBT? Or do you consider nothing proven? That is what I am trying to determine.

Gemini: Do we know exactly when the conception of the universe was?

Do you know exactly when you were born? I mean, to the nanosecond? No? Well, don't worry, it's not important. If you know the day of your birth that is usually close enough for everything that kind of information is used for.

Gemini: So you admit it! We don't know when the Big Bang occurred.

We know approximately when it occurred. That seems to be close enough for everything that kind of information is used for.

Gemini: The Big Bang is not proved 100%.

How would "proved 100%" be different from the roughly "99% proved" that we are working with now?

Gemini: The point is, to this day....it is not a proven fact.

Yet, it works anyway.

Gemini: It is very important if one is claiming that the Big Bang happened.

People are claiming that the Big Bang appears to have happened. That is what it looks like. The Big Bang theory is a description of what it really, really looks like happened. Is there some reason people should not be describing what it looks like?

Gemini: Hyprothetically - let's say they make claims about the BBT, and find out they were wrong......then what?

Well, the short answer is that they change the description to be more accurate. That is what the scientific method is, and why it works.

If you want to know how that shakes out in practice, I can give you a couple of examples.

It was thought for centuries, since the time of Newton, that objects in earth's gravity well were falling at 32 feet per second squared (32'/sec²). This measurement was used to calculate the force of gravity in millions of ways, from architecture to artillary to engineering to physics. This measurement built bridges, won wars, and put a man on the moon. It worked great.

Well, what do you know, it was wrong. With the invention of laser measuring devices, we were able to measure falling objects much more accurately than humans ever could before. We found that objects in earth's gravity well are actually falling at a rate of 32.2'/sec².

So, they were wrong...but not very. They were close. Close enough to work. The old equation, 32'/sec², still works. But, now with this new precision and knowledge, they may be able to do things they were not able to do before.

And you know, I think 32.2'/sec² is probably "wrong" also. In a century we may be measuring so well, we will be able to see that it is really 32.21679'/sec². Or something.

That really doesn't make the older measurements "wrong." It makes them close, but less accurate.

In another example, for centuries Newton was the last word on physics, and it was thought that Newtonion equations explained the movement of everything. Then, they started examining the huge expanses of space and the insanely bizarre world of quantum particles, and they found out they were wrong - Newton's stuff didn't apply to everything after all.

Whole new equations about relativity and quantum mechanics were needed to explain what was happening. Whole new branches of science were born.

So, the earlier scientists were wrong. But not very. They were close. Close enough to work. The old Newtonion equations still work, just as good as ever. But now, we are able to understand things no humans have ever understood - like what the universe was like before now.

That is why I speak of scientific understanding, not in terms of wrong or right, but in accuracy. Our understanding is truly growing in accuracy, and that is why we are able to do so much more. It is a continual process of error correction.

Some day some new understanding will undoubtedly make humans look at the Big Bang in a completely new way. But those people will not be laughing at us, wondering how we could be so stupid to think this was right. The reasons we thought it was right - because this is what is looks like when we measure it with what we have - are not wrong.

If the BBT is "wrong," it is still very close to right. Like I said - close enough to work.

Gemini: But what I am saying is Hypothetically if they WERE wrong--then what?

Then they would change the description to be more accurate, like in the examples I provided, like they always do. That is science.

05-16-18 01:48  •  Design Flaw

JellyBean: If the biblical god exists, why do we need atonement for behaving the way he created us to?

On a similar note, if God created the earth and the solar system, why do we need to have a Leap Year?

Wendy:Our calendar was made by humans, therefore it is flawed.

This makes no sense. Leap year is not an artifact of a flawed calendar. It was invented to fix a flawed calendar.

The reason we have a leap year is because it takes 365 days plus one quarter day for the earth to circle the sun. We have to add a day every four years to account for the extra time, or the seasons start to happen in different months. This occurred a lot in earlier days, before we figured all this out.

Everything in the calendar lines up now, as perfectly as can be detected. The solstices and equinoxes occur on the expected dates every year. They have already calculated that we will have to subtract one day every ten thousand years or so to make up for the fact that the difference is not exactly one quarter of a day. Where is the flaw?

If the earth was set in its orbit by God he could have just made the time to circle the sun exactly 365.0 days and then we would not need a leap year. As it is, it certainly doesn't look as if it was "perfectly designed," any more than anything else does.

Wendy: Just because our perception of time is a certain way does not mean it's THE correct way.

Yet, our perception of time works. It certainly seems to be correct, considering the amazing things we are able to accomplish by understanding it. People have studied time and can measure it with incredible precision, even to the understanding that time is relative at different speeds. There will always be more to know, but obviously what we do know represents a highly functional perception.

I find it hard to see how someone could blame leap year on flawed and pitiful human perception. We didn't put the planet here like this.

Wendy: I know why we have a leap year but what I'm trying to say is that there might be a better way to track time.

"Tracking time" has nothing to do with it. The rotation of the globe does not match up evenly to the revolutions of the globe around the sun no matter how you track them. They are out of synch by about a quarter of a day. Leap year is just our convention for dealing with it.

The point is that examining the solar system reveals no perfection, no sychronization or organization which suggest that the configuration is a result of being designed. How things end up seems to arise from being acted on by an unorganized variety of natural processes.

Wendy: I don't know too much on the subject, but I from what I've read the Mayans didn't need a leap year because their year consisted of 13 months.

The Mayan moon cycle alternating 29 with 30 days came close to the actual lunar month of 29.5306 days. They made it even more "accurate" by simply adjusting it by observation. That is, if the new moon appeared a day early, they simply declared the cycle to have 29 days rather than 30. In other words, they adjusted their calendar with leap days as needed.

Wendy: I never said that it was our fault that the world isn't in perfect orbit...

You responded to my comment about the leap year by mentioning our "flawed" calendar, and our inability to perceive time "THE correct way." Why bring up possible human shortcomings to explain the "design flaw"? There is no reason to think any human failings are related to the discrepancy. It just is what it is.

Furthermore, our current human understanding of space and time is by far the best it has ever been, and constantly improving. There is no reason to call it flawed, because it works incredibly well for everything we do with it. There is no reason to think that we are not perceiving it "correctly," because our perceptions are being confirmed by all the evidence.

And yet, the more deeply we look into what is, the less of anything there is there for a god to do. No matter how sophisticated our understanding gets, it never points to more likelihood of gods being involved. It always seems to point to less.

If our inability to sense the "design" was because of humans failing to see it THE correct way, why do we see less design the more we look, while the non-design explanations just keep improving with investigation?

Wendy: All I'm saying is that leap year is not the "aha!" momment for me that allows me to determine whether god exsists or not.

If that doesn't illustrate the extent to which gods are involved, just look at everything else. :-)

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