2-08-21 3:03  •  Is Atheism a Belief? Pt. III

To read this conversation in order start here.

Allison: Is Atheism a belief?

Clarity: No, it isn't.

Pentha: Yes, it is!

Atheism is immaterial to the question of whether the ancient religions are true. Gods could be real as toast, but that doesn't mean any particular set of claims about them are right and the others are wrong. Do any humans have a line on the gods? Apparently not. That's a problem, because they claim they do.

Sharon: Ah, that’s where you have an issue. You demean everything labeled as “belief” to that extent. And that’s why you can’t admit that what you have is also a belief. Again, do you have such evidence to argue AGAINST the existente e of a G-d?

For at least the third time, I am not an atheist and I never said I was. I do not take that stance. I certainly don't think I can definitively claim there are no gods or never could be. Its a big universe.

What I am saying has nothing to do with gods.

Tater: "Science" is just another belief.

Scientists say that earth’s gravity will make a rock when released fall to the ground correct? Yet, unless scientists have released every rock on earth and confirmed that every rock will fall to the ground every time, they can not say that particular science is 100% factual.

If someone does not believe 2 + 3 = 5, they would have to believe that it equals something other than 5. There are many mathematicians that will argue that - perhaps rightfully so. But, that doesn’t make what that person believes any less a belief. Even a schizophrenic believes his delusions. I’ve class today; I will not respond beyond this because, frankly, I’m weary of the conversation.

What makes science different is checking.

Tater: "Science" is not different.

So do you think there is no difference at all between rational views and irrational? Every view is equally irrational?

Anna: An honest question... have you really been seeking a discussion on this? A chance to converse with others who might have alternative viewpoints? Or has it been a means to yet another "I'm right and you're not" debate that is prevalent in this group?

I think this is a very important subject that should be discussed, yes. I don't mind being right, and I love being wrong because it means I can change to be more right. It's a process. I can only be polite and speak my mind and see what happens. Isn't it exciting!?

Anna: Interesting response. Thanks.

Tater: Unless you drop every single rock, you cannot prove 100% that they will fall down instead of up. Furthermore, if you wish to find the reasoning against your “induction justification”, I’d suggest you read Salmon’s “the problem with induction.” It explains that better than I ever could. Besides, I’ve not got the time or the patience to type it completely out.

Science makes no claims about "every single instance."

Tater: I never said it did. I said science cannot be claimed to be factual unless it includes every single instance. I’m not saying science is wrong or right just as I’m not saying religion is. I’m saying that belief is believing in one thing or the other, and each theory can be disputed in one way or the other. It’s all belief!

Your phone is not running on belief.

Tater: You are misinterpreting what I’m saying. I never said that science did/does not achieve advancements. Obviously they do. This isn’t about that. It’s about believing the science.

I'm saying that the phone is how you can tell the difference between science and belief. People CAN believe science, but you don't have to. You can just try it. Maybe a side point to yours, but an important one. Thanks Tater!

Tater: One might say that someone surviving an illness that doctors gave zero chance to live would be proof that God exists. It’s all a matter of perspective.

There is a difference. We can make as many phones as we want, with a very predictable process that is well-understood. There are many established, verifiable facts about how it works. You can teach other people how to do it and they can make phones too, or even invent better phones. You can tell who understands it and who doesn't by what they can do.

Amazing cures do sometimes happen. They might be from gods, or not. Nothing is understood about how it works, so it can't be replicated. I'm not saying that means "no gods," I'm saying it means no understanding. With science, there is SOME understanding. A very significant distinction.

Tater: Again, that is just your belief. Just because that particular piece of technology works a million times doesn’t mean it will happen again.

You may put your faith in science, some may put theirs in Gods, and still others may put theirs in magic fairies. The question is whether atheism is a belief or not. The question is not whether one theory makes more sense than the other.

The question of what makes sense and why, and what that means, is the most important question of our time. There aren't many opportunities to discuss it. Thanks so much Tater!

Tater: It isn't. People believe in something(even if that something is nobody knows), and regardless of how insane sounding it may be, any belief can be argued for or against.

I'm not disputing that people can believe anything and can argue for anything. Obviously they can.

I was just saying why I thought the discussion was important. I really think humans need to explore what the difference is between reason and unreason. I do think it is the most important discussion of our time. This topic is related to that very important discussion.

Tater: And I want to keep my thoughts about that to myself. Find a willing participant. I am not.

I understand, thanks anyway!

So, as has been shown, people can believe anything and argue for anything. The question is, are all arguments equally valid/invalid? Are there any arguments that have more merit than others? Or can no one ever really be wrong?

Sharon: “Reason” is also a matter of belief. I mean, if you ask me the most “unreasonable” position is atheism. Because reason dictates that unless you know everything that’s out there, every thing and every force, you really cannot claim the non existence of something or someone.

I think you missed the at least three times where I told you I am not an atheist and I am not arguing for the "non-existence" of anything. I agree, definitive statements of non-existence are not reasonable, but that has nothing to do with what I am actually saying.

Reason is not a matter of belief. Reason sometimes requires that beliefs change.

Sharon: So the question is, how do you define ”reasonable”? And if your parameter is just that which can be measured and proved without question, how is that not limited and therefore actually “unreasonable”?

That is not how I define reasonable. It doesn't mean "proved without question." Reasoned claims are logical and supported with evidence that can be verified. They don't have to be absolute, just accurate.

Sharon: And ultimately, you can’t claim to be using “reason” when it’s pretty likely you lack enough information to make that assessment. I’m thinking of the “Friends” episode where Phoebe doesn believe in evolution and Ross shows her fossils actually showing evolution. Her response “well, I didn’t know that”. So she considered an idea “unreasonable” because of her own ignorance. I wonder, how many ideas are you considering unreasonable when you don’t really know much about them?

I know enough about both reason and Christianity to say that Christianity does not seem to be true.

Anna: Why does it not seem true and how do you come to that conclusion?

It does not seem to be true in the same way that it does not seem to be true that Zeus is in charge of the sky and thunder while Poseidon is in charge of the oceans and earthquakes...and horses. I mean, maybe they are...but not in any way that you can tell.

Similarly, there is nothing that can be established about Christianity which makes it seem true, certainly not truer than the next religion over, Islam. None of these religions seems to have any accurate information about what they are claiming. They seem to be old stories. So again, maybe...but, maybe not.

If not, trying to make the world fit the stories would never work. And, it doesn't.

Anna: So it's the supernatural nature of it all that leads you to believe it's not true in its entirety?

True or not, the lack of correspondence makes it *seem* not true. Particularly in the details, as compared to other faiths.

Allowing for "truth" without correspondence ignores what makes truth work - accuracy. A whole society ignoring accuracy is a real problem.

Thank you very much for asking Anna. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss this.

Sharon: But you’re still failing at providing any parameters to consider something “reasonable”.

No, I said that reasoned claims are logical and supported with evidence that can be verified. They don't have to be absolute, just accurate.

Sharon: You just keep saying that Christianity is “unreasonable” and you can’t even say why.

No, I said it does not seem true, as the claims do not correspond accurately in any way that can be shown to what they are claiming. That is what being true means. True claims are accurate descriptions of what they describe.

Sharon: I myself am not a Christian and I don’t share those beliefs, but I wouldn’t take it upon myself to insult those who believe it as being “unreasonable” and lacking the capacity of critical thought and analysis.

No one was insulted when I said that it does not seem to be true that Zeus is in charge of sky while Poseidon is in charge of water. It's just an observation. There isn't anything in the sky or the water to indicate which god is in charge of which, or if they really are, or still are, or if they are just characters in an old tale. Most would agree there is nothing about that which seems true without being insulted.

2-07-21 3:03  •  vs. Greeks, Pt. II

Look at it this way. Would anyone here be at all offended if I said that the ancient Greek beliefs in Zeus and Hera do not seem to be true? It does not seem to be the case that the sun is a chariot driven across the sky by Apollo.

Is this different?

Sienna: No, it would be no different if you were taking to an Ancient Greek about their beliefs. I strongly disagree with worshipping satan and wouldn’t want that energy around me. But I wouldn’t even do that to them.

So you can question faith claims, as long as no one of that faith is nearby?

Sienna: There is a huge difference between questioning a faith claim and challenging or questioning a person about it telling them what is and isn’t true.

There is no place I can question the claims of Christianity without encountering Christians. In fact that would defeat the purpose. I would like Christians to think about what it means for society that Christianity does not seem to be true, ie, has no evidence. It means that people do not care about what it means for something to be established as true with evidence.

Way back during run up to the Iraq war, I was warning Americans that it was a very short jump from believing in salvation without evidence, to believing that Saddam had WMDs without evidence. Believing without evidence is easy if you don't care about evidence, but it means you aren't using the main tool to find out what is true. Beliefs can grow ever more outlandish.

Now look at what people are believing. Trump won (and every other lie.) Democrats worship Satan and eat babies. Lots of people are making political decisions based on this stuff, voting on it. Insurrecting over it.

Belief is the problem. If we want to find out what is true, we have to look. What seems to be the case? If we look and still can't tell, we have to admit it, because "I don't know" is truth, too.

Filling in the gaps in our knowledge with old tales is preventing the use of reason. And we could use some reason right now.

Sienna: You’re focusing on extremists, not the majority.

No, a majority of Americans are Christian, and the whole society must refrain from questioning it where they can hear. That is a big problem.

Sharon: I wouldn't be offended. I’m also not offended by you claiming the Bible “doesn’t make sense”. As I said, it’s your belief, so why would I be offended by it?

I never even mentioned the bible. I think you might have me confused with someone else.

Sharon: Well, you referenced to Christianity and Abrahamic faiths several times, which includes the Bible, either the OT, the NT or the Quran. That makes me think your primary objection is against those religions, probably Christianity the most for obvious reasons. You’ve said repeatedly that “belief” is a problem and it should be eliminated. And maybe that’s why you’re so hesitant to admit that what you believe to be true isn’t any more factual than those beliefs you seem to think are so harmful to society. By your own criticism, your claims- which are just as unfounded- should be considered equally harmful and not be taken as more truthful or real. Do you accept that?

You still have no idea what I am actually claiming.

2-06-21 2:02  •  Bill Maher is Right, Pt. I

Goosey: Last night Bill Maher drew a comparison from believing in QAnon to believing in religion. He has always questioned religion, and he says this has been brewing for a long time.

For the last 20 years I have been saying the same thing, here and elsewhere. If we don't value reality and truth, and what makes them different from made-up stuff, people will end up believing anything - Saddam had WMD, the election was stolen, Hillary eats babies, etc. When people aren't critical thinkers they can fall for pure insanity, and we see it happen in this country over and over again.

We have to demand more from understanding reality than "I heard it from a guy who says he heard it straight from God." That leaves people believing in a lot of stuff that obviously isn't true. It leaves them unable to defend or even discuss the claims of their religion, especially the most bigoted, because they are too "sacred" to be challenged. It gives people with dangerous delusions the power to enforce their divisions against the other.

The most important thing our nation could do right now is re-dedicate itself to verifiable truth and reason. There is a real world, and real things that happen have evidence. Explanations can be constructed which make sense and can be established. Believing a bunch of magical thinking from thousands of years ago distorts the ability to appreciate truth. We have to get real.

Jules: It’s one thing to condemn Christian Nationalism and another to make fun of all of Christianity in the process. So yeah, I’m not giving that offensive asshole the time of day.

"All Christianity" has a truth problem. It should be questioned.

Jules: Questioning and challenging Christianity is not the same thing as making those who believe in Jesus and the Bible a punchline.

"Believing" is a big problem. It's not easy to get people into a conversation about it. Sometimes comedians are the only ones who can get away with starting the questioning.

But, forget Bill Maher. Christianity does not seem to be true. That's not a punchline. Can we discuss that?

Anna: Why do you feel Christianity isn't true?

It does not seem to be true. There is no evidence that Christian claims about gods, or salvation, or afterlives, etc are informed. People say it, but people can say anything. There is no evidence that these assertions have more merit than the conflicting supernatural claims of other religions. Christianity seems to be a standard narrative tradition, like those of other cultures. It is not unique.

What suggests that it is true?

Southerner: I agree with Jules. It is definitely past rude to make fun of people on account of it.

That’s not how a respectful discussion works and this trend of feeling entitled to be so rude and micromanaging towards people who don’t live the same life as you (general) needs to stop. No one owes you (general) that.

The discussion needs to happen. Belief is distorting society so much we can barely function.

Southerner: What are you going to do? Force people to talk to you and allow you to be rude about their beliefs and make them see things your way? That’s not a “discussion” and no one owes you an explanation. That doesn’t do anything to help society function and that is a much better problem than religion.

No, I don't force people to talk with me and I am not rude. This is a discussion and explanations are very important. I think it would help society to have a grasp of what truth is and why it matters. Thanks so much for joining in!

Anna: The religion itself is true and has deeply rooted origins....centuries-old. Christians believe in only one God; not many gods.

There are deeply rooted, centuries-old religions that believe in many gods. There is no evidence to suggest that Christianity is right about this and these other ancient beliefs are wrong. The point is that no claims about gods are informed.

Anna: Yes, there are some what *I* feel are a bit outlandish claims but personally, it's never impacted me or had me feel I was in the position to mock or look down upon those who DO believe the religious claims. Why would I?

The unreason that it takes to maintain this system is degrading society.

Anna: A religious belief doesn't require being rooted in tangible evidence in order for many to find faith in it, and this should be respected.

The veracity of the claims should be questioned.

Anna: Do you believe that Jesus was a real man and not the mythical person born from immaculate conception?

What about the Nordic beliefs that Odin was real as was his son Loki?

It doesn't matter. Muhammad was definitely a real person. That doesn't make his claims about gods true.

JimJams: My problem is when Christian leaders and politicians don't even follow their founder's ways. Jesus in essence, believed in socialist and very moralistic values. Pay your taxes, give freely to your neighbor and the poor, keep your marriage sacred but live and let live. It's fine if you don't want those rules to affect your politics. But don't go saying you believe in a Christian nation. You don't.

The problem is supernaturally-derived morality, which can be anything.

We can't rely on the ancients to decide right and wrong for us. We have to examine the reality, what works and what doesn't, what helps people or what hurts them, and determine for ourselves what is right to do. It is an ongoing process.

Thanks JimJams!

Southerner: I think people need to realize that the problem is with the leaders and the politicians, not the religion they are exploiting. Both sides has been exploiting everything from race to politics to religion in order to divide us. Also, a lot of voters, leaders and politicians on both sides of the fence who do good things are Christian or believe in Jesus/God.

A lot of good people have believed in Christianity, Hinduism, etc. It doesn't make these religions seem true.

Having to maintain a base level of unreason is the problem. Many of these conflicting interests could be put to rest if we examined reality and heeded the results of that examination.

Instead, millions cannot even tell what reality is anymore. We cannot adopt a common standard for determining reality without calling these ancient beliefs into question. So, a great tool for discernment - evidence-based reason - is left unused. That is causing a lot of error.

Thanks so much for speaking to me about this Southerner!

Clarity: If someone has a deep and abiding belief that their pet cat is the reincarnation of Cleopatra, I can accept that this is important to them, and respect that they are human with rights and needs, not just an object to be casually derided for the amusement of others.

And in the privacy of their own home, they can set their own rules, bow down to the cat and require any visitors to do the same.

When it comes to a public discussion of how cats ought to be treated, however, I'm not going to give their opinion the same weight that I would that of a vet. The question of animal welfare isn't just a subjective one and the vet has reliable evidence on their side.

Unfortunately, in order for everyone in society to privately think whatever they want about their cat, we have to maintain a national policy that cat-think is morally upright, and that it is mean and rude even to question cat-think. We can't attach any significance to truth or reason, or emphasize how important it is that the vet is the one with reliable evidence, because that will call the whole cat-think thing into question.

Well look what happened. People now think Democratic cats eat babies, Trump won the election, etc. We can't even get people to curb the pandemic with masks and social distancing. People really think that it's just a matter of personal preference, like there is no reality outside of themselves.

The system where everyone gets to pick their own favorite idea and then act as if it's true, damn the evidence, how-dare-you-question-me! is not working.

Val: This is how the pseudo intellectuals and atheists make themselves feel better. Imagine what a cold and lonely life it is to have faith in nothing but what you physically can see in front of your face. Imagine how heavy that is to walk around thinking you'll never see your beloved family again, that you haven't got a soul, that you live a whole life filled with people and relationships then one day a switch is turned off. And that's it.

Don't imagine! Find out. Many atheists I know are brilliant, happy people who live deeply meaningful lives. It takes a lot of courage to stare into the unknown and admit it is a mystery. It takes a lot of compassion to be good in the here and now, because it is right and helps others, and not because a guy who says he talked to gods said so. It takes curiosity and courage to want to know what is real and what works, and then a lot of patience and grit to find out. It takes tremendous energy and commitment to be one's best today instead expecting something better "after." It takes a deep humility to be responsible for one's own behavior and do all the work of changing yourself.

It is a life of grandeur, to observe the swirling of the galaxies and atoms and understand how their intricate dances create each other. It is a life of pride and joy to appreciate how precious our loved ones are and cherish the gift of every moment with them because they will never come again. It is a burden and an honor to lift the mantle of our generation, our responsibility for the future of this rare, wonderful living planet. This is too scary for many, but the atheist has to be brave.

Val: Imagine what a dull, inflexible mind it takes to not even allow the possibility that there's a force greater than yourself. I actually feel badly for those that lack the intelligence to allow for the thought that there are things besides just us and this immediate atmosphere.

There are many forces greater than ourselves, and perhaps even more of which we know nothing. That doesn't make Christianity true, or justify making claims of knowing what humans don't know. Open your mind to the possibility! Don't then rush to fill it with an old story.

Thanks Val!

Sharon: Your belief in atheism is just that, a belief. It’s not a certainty, it’s not a fact. It’s not something you can prove as an undeniable truth, therefore, it’s what you BELIEVE.

Athiesm is more of a stance, but not one that I am taking. I don't have beliefs about that, I am not an atheist and never claimed to be. I don't make any claims at all about gods. Please do not assign beliefs to me.

Sharon: I can also call my belief in G-d and the Torah as a “stance”, it doesn’t make it more factual than any other belief.

I'm glad you understand that your beliefs are no more more factual than any other belief.

Sharon: If you ask me, atheism doesn’t seem to be true.

Please, take that up with an atheist.

Sharon: Who are you to say that what seems not true to you is definitely not true? As a Jew, Christianity may seem “not true” to me, but I can only state that as my personal BELIEF, as you should with yours.

I didn't say it was "definitely" not true. I said, and am saying, that the Abrahamic faiths do not seem to be true. You yourself admit there is nothing in the facts to suggest they are. That is what "does not seem to be true" looks like.

The claims of Christianity are unsupported and conflict with observable reality. They are mutually exclusive with the claims of the other Abrahamic faiths. That means *at least* two out of three are not true.

That's a lot of people believing something not true. It takes a toll on society.

JimJams: The kinds of Christians who would believe in Christian Nationalism or Qanon bullshit are the kinds I have raised hell against all along. They are false Christians. The Christian Taliban. The teabaggers for Jesus Christians. The Archie Bunker Christians. EvilAngels.

I appreciate that, but this is a different question. I know plenty of smart Christians who are trying to do good in the world and that is not the problem.

The problem is that it's really tough to maintain Christianity when it does not have anything to back it up. It seems to be a myth like all others. There is no evidence that believing in Jesus will get you to the right afterlife, or that being buried with coins for the Ferryman will get you across the River Styx, etc. To make it seem as if that could be true, you have to suspend the relationship between truth and verification. But once you do that, how can you tell anything?

We would have a really hard time trying to maintain a society today if most people believed that Apollo created the day by driving a chariot across the sky. Especially if that belief was so ingrained that it was sacrilege to question it. The claims of the Abrahamic faiths, Hinduism, etc. are not at all different. Our difficulty is the same.

WeatherProof: Really interesting discussion!

If human brains are religiously hardwired and there is evidence of evolutionary advantage of religion, doesn't that make it impossible to reason religion or beliefs away?

We can work with it. You might be surprised to learn that I am actually a big fan of religion. It serves many important functions for society. Religion helps us to connect our moral foundations to our ultimate origins, which provides personal wholeness and social cohesion.

What I think is a shame is that the only religions people have to choose from are the ancient ones, with all their ancient misconceptions. We have learned so much since then! The verifiably true story of our origins and moral foundations, as we understand it today, is a magnificent tale. Why don't we have religions that reflect this learning and growth?

WeatherProof:Those who are religious, are more prone to believe conspiracy theories which can be very damaging to community as a whole. Yet religious core beliefs are not in themselves detrimental to society. It's when the religious move away or reinterpret those core beliefs, begin to believe in their superiority, and exclude those with any other belief that we begin to see issues and certainly the issues that have arisen within the Christian Evangelical community here in the US. It's also an issue when the irrational conspiracy theories are given legitimacy by religious leaders.

This is why we should have religions based on truth, so that we can make a distinction between sound ideas and irrational ideas.

WeatherProof: I don't know what the answer is but I don't think trying to convince someone that there is no god is productive. Unfortunately, I don't know what would be productive other than perhaps appealing to church leadership?

I agree, I don't find conversation about the existence of gods productive either. It is sufficient to point out that all human claims about them are uninformed. That is, no one knows what does or doesn't "exist" in this vast universe, but it's obvious that some people are claiming to have knowledge about "gods" that no humans actually have.

Thanks again WeatherProof!

2-04-21 2:02  •  Socialism Is

Sharon: Violence is not the way to seek justice.

Katie: I agree with you. But people can only take so much. The wealth inequality in the US is the result of the GOP and their tax cuts for the wealthy.

Sharon: I’m not so sure about that. I think inequality is a result of our human nature. And in reality, socialist systems haven’t done much in eliminating the “haves” and “have nots” system. They can’t, because it’s human nature.

Socialism isn’t much more “fair” than any other system, but it may be more deceiving as it pretends to aim for equality but it really doesn’t. It’s still a system where the ones in control have the upper hand.

Socialism arose as a response to the problems of capitalism. It is not a system. It is the recognition that capitalism does not do everything, and so we need other social supports.

Capitalism is half a system that cannot work without socialism. Socialism is half a system that cannot work without capitalism. (We have forms of socialism in the U.S. right now, just not enough.) Neither is meant to "end" stratification. Done right, together they result in "have lots" and "have less" but not "have nots."

Things don't have to be equal to be fair, but the stratification has to make sense to be fair, and not go below a certain point of livability. We don't need "have nots." That level of deprivation is a source of terrible human suffering. We could prevent it with crumbs from the tables of the haves which they would never miss. Our failure to prevent that suffering, when we so easily could, is the source of the sense of injustice.

Katie: The GOP are absolutely to blame. There has been an almost 40 year decline in the wealth of the middle class. It started with Reagan and his 'trickle down economics' that became gospel to the GOP. Add to that the chiseling away of workers rights allowing corporations to reduce and eliminate benefits they'd once had.

The middle class is not naturally occurring. It has to be created with social supports like the New Deal. We eroded the New Deal and the middle class started to disappear, no surprise. If we want a middle class we have to create a system that allows it, with strong support for working people, like worker representation, along with 21st century education and health support. That is how the more successful countries of the world are doing it and it's working. People are healthier and happier. They are moving on without us.

Sharon: The wealth inequality is the results of many factors. Tax cuts for the wealthy is only one symptom of bigger problems. We don't value work by merit. Should the cook at a fast food place who can’t even make an order correctly be paid more than say a day laborer?

Neither the crappy cook nor the day laborer should have less than a roof, food, and access to health and education. After the basic needs have been met then they can stratify upward based on "merit".

2-02-21 2:02  •  Defending the Different Indefensible

Knighte: The article of impeachment against Trump is nothing but Democrat erotic literature. I think the allegations are pure fiction.

He told his stans that they could overturn his election defeat. That's inciting insurrection.

Knighte: No. He told them to go to the Capital and let their voices be heard but do so peacefully.

No, he lied and said the election was stolen.

Knighte: Actually that point has never been litigated fully. Many cases related to the election were thrown out or dismissed, but there has not been one full end to end investigation and adjudicated case to prove there was or there wasn’t a “stolen election”.

No matter how much you or others twist the words and cherry-pick certain phrases out of his long rally speech, the video and full transcript is clear. He directed the to go let their voices be heard and do so peacefully.

To accomplish what?

Knighte: The last march I attended in DC was a pro-choice March. The rally on the Mall fired us up and told us to march, raising our voices loud, letting the fight and determination show because the votes being taken needed to hear our opposition...

No, he told them specifically to go to the capitol "stop the steal" and "take back our country." He was directing them to overturn the election results. That is insurrection.

Knighte: You really believe that??? That's cuckoo crazy talk.

No, QAnon is cuckoo crazy talk. Telling a bunch of cuckoo crazy QAnons that "if Mike Pence comes through for us" they could "win the Presidency" was lying. There was nothing that could change the election outcome - except insurrection.

1-31-21 1:00  •  Defending the Indefensible

Minnie: An eight-year-old girl was expelled from a Christian school because she said she had a crush on another girl. I think this is abuse.

Sharon: Abuse? Please. Having a moral code of conduct for students based on their religion is acceptable. That said, they over-reacted for sure.

"You can teach kids anything as long as you believe it" doesn't work. Some things people believe are wrong. The idea that humans know what gods think about sex is one of them.

Sharon: You’re entitled to your own beliefs and to raise your children teaching them those beliefs. But just as you don’t want beliefs that YOU think are wrong imposes on you, you shouldn’t impose yours on others. Parents who believe homosexuality is a sinful act also have that same right to hold a belief you don’t agree with and teach it to their kids.

Of course they have "the right" to be wrong. That doesn't make it a good idea.

Minnie: What happens to the teens who have realized they are gay at these schools. They either have to deny who they are or get kicked out.

This is abuse in the name of religious freedom.

Our entire society is held hostage to ideas claimed in the name of the gods, not to mention the unresolvable conflict that results from their mutual exclusion.

Letting people pick and choose their own personal reality is not working. If you don't care about correspondence to reality, you are free to believe anything, including that gays are bad, that the election was stolen, that the rules come from the gods, that Hilary eats babies, whatever.

"Believing" things will not cut it. We need to know things. And admit when we don't.

Sharon: You don’t want to start a war on rights when it comes to beliefs and your right to live by those beliefs yourself.

When people are down to asserting they have "the right" to believe, it is because the beliefs themselves are indefensible.

Sharon: That’s ignorant and prejudicial and frankly, offensive. Just because you can’t agree with certain beliefs, that doesn’t make them “indefensible”. And in fact, the notion that everyone else has to justify their beliefs for YOUR approval is downright narcissistic and supremacist.

I’m no authority to dictate what you should be believing. What makes you think that in order to make my beliefs valid they have to be justified to you? What makes you an authority that you have to approve of them to consider them something I have a right to have? That attitude isn’t much different than any attitude of religious persecution that has happened throughout history. Only those beliefs deemed “acceptable” by the dominant group are valid and everything else should be destroyed?!

Ideas that seem wrong should be challenged. You should not have a problem with people discussing it.

Your belief about homosexuality is indefensible. It is not true. It is hurting people. Teaching it to children, just because you want to, is cruel. That is the point.

Sharon: And how is my belief about homosexuality “cruel”? How am I “hurting” people?

This belief hurt this little girl. That is why it's in the news.

Sharon: I don’t demand that you justify your beliefs to me.

I'm really glad you brought this up. First of all, "belief" is the problem. The ancient religions are just plain wrong about a lot. Lightning and rainbows are not caused by gods. Those people did not realize it, but we do.

There is another way to find out what is the case, it's called looking. The fact that most of society is believing instead of looking is EXACTLY the problem.

Secondly, I would be thrilled to justify my stance on any subject. Why have a stance, if not for good reasons, that stand up to any scrutiny? I take great care to understand before I take a position, and if I have it for good reasons I am always glad to explain them. I consider it an opportunity.

What's more, supposing I was in error and was challenged. How could that be bad? I would find out the truth. I could change my thinking to be more accurate. That would be a win, too.

Take a close look at the "choose your own" reality we are living in, and see how that is working. There is one reality and it's not different for people who "believe" that gays are bad. The reality is that homosexuality is important for group health.

Sharon: MY belief is not hurting anyone. I have gay Facebook friends.

This belief is causing a big problem. It's really hurting people, especially kids. I can't believe you are asking me to never question it, or ask why. What of their suffering? It seems to be incorrect. What of the truth?

You may feel you are asymptomatic, but you are a still a carrier of this belief. You should consider whether that is good enough for a great person like you.

Sharon: That’s perfectly fine. That’s your opinion and I respect it. I actually haven’t heard arguments in support of homosexual acts as morally acceptable. But that doesn’t mean I should demand you justify your views to me.

You *should* demand that people justify their views to you before you agree to believe them. Then you will not be deceived. If we teach people to believe without reason, eventually they start believing in Pizzagate. This is what is currently happening.

If you have never heard, I am happy to explain why homosexuality exists and why it is important. In many different animal populations, there are some adults who do not reproduce. However they help the reproducing adults raise the offspring, which is a very hard job, and they can step in to replace the biological parents if anything happens to them. The adults who do not reproduce share a lot of DNA with the offspring, so this arrangement results in a better chance of the genetic material being passed on, than if every adult was reproducing.

In humans, homosexual people have about 80% fewer offspring than heterosexual people, and so can provide primary reproducers with assistance raising the next generation as aunts and uncles, or even take over if necessary. What's more, human groups need a lot of variety exploit every kind of environmental opportunity. People with unusual identities, queer, non-neurotypical, etc. provide different perspectives and can participate in novel ways, leading to innovation. It takes all kinds.

Thanks so much for asking Sharon!

Sharon: And I’m sorry but nothing you said here convinced me that my belief is wrong. I don't need to justify it or explain it to you. I cherish my beliefs far to much to have them picked over by someone just looking for what is wrong with them.

I appreciate that, but I hope you can see that is what makes these views indefensible. They aren't a rational choice made for good reasons which can be explained or backed up with evidence. They just come with the set.

Sharon: I don’t need to justify my beliefs as right and true for you to at least have the tolerance to respect my right to believe them. Now, if you want to debate the issue of that right, we can debate that.

No one in this discussion questions that right. It is a straw man.

But I wish you would consider what it means for society to carry this belief and pass it along and not allow it to die. It means that perfectly normal humans, who only want to love others and be loved for who they are, are being stigmatized, to their great suffering and detriment. You could stop this by teaching your kids otherwise. Think about it.

Thanks again!

Freida: We should be glad the little girl got kicked out. Seems horrible, but if she does grow up to be gay that school would have crushed her soul. She’s better off not being at a place that causes so many people to be suicidal.

She will not escape these beliefs.

Freida: Why not? Because America is so lacking in gay people who she could find community with? As a person who believes in the old religions myself, I have taken my share of hate from Christians, but I can tell you, those beliefs and those people are avoidable in adulthood.

She's not an adult, she's a kid. Her parents are Christian enough to put her in Christian school. When she grows up she can choose her own community. But if she is actually gay, she has some rough years between now and then.

Freida: So you think the parents, who were so offended by this that they went to the national news for it to be broadcast everywhere how wrong it was - are going to raise her with the same negative views on gay people that this school tried to support?

Hopefully not. Maybe they will flee Christianity altogether after this. Maybe her grandparents will, too, and all her aunts and uncles and cousins will drop it like a hot rock. Maybe their whole church will disband, or publicly change their stance on homosexuality. Perhaps the pope will add a holy writ to that effect and let the Catholics off too. We can hope.

But ask any gay person in America how they grew up, what they faced. Maybe this girl will be lucky, get no blowback at all from the dominant religion of her society that hates and condemns her. But, that is not likely. At least not so far.

Freida: And you want Sharon to make an argument on religious dogma, but based on fact rather than belief?

No, I want people to realize that arguments based on religious dogma are indefensible, especially cruel dogma that tells children they are evil. Sure they have a "right" to be mean for no explainable reason, but it's wrong to do so.

Freida: That's a bit of a fractured statement. All arguments based on religious dogma are indefensible, even when it comes to personal beliefs? Or, arguments that target children and attempt to sway their minds into believing nature is evil, is wrong?

Let's just say "I heard it from a guy who says he heard it straight from God" is not a good reason to think things are true. It produces different, unverifiable answers for everyone which conflict with each other and observable reality.

If you want to know what is true you have to check. Instead, our entire society wants to base everything, from hating gays to picking presidents, on wrong things that people just think without evidence. It's a problem.

Especially when the victims are children, yes.

Freida: There are answers to questions that will never be verifiably true. Does that mean they have no true answers?

It might mean we don't know the answers, and "I don't know" is a perfectly acceptable, true answer. It lets you keep looking.

Freida: In my religion, there are plenty of books and writers, poets and singers, but we all know that the true wisdom has to come from the trees. The healers who have practiced this religion have given us some of the most verifiably precious knowledge on medicinal values of trees and plants that this world has built it's entire medical industry on.

Great! Verifiying is how you get from dogma to real.

Freida:I would definitely agree that one's words should never, ever be used to hurt children... however I can't agree that religious beliefs are without merit.

Some are, some aren't. That is why checking is the most important thing.

Freida: Saying "I feel" is much different than saying "I can prove". If those spiritual men and women did not hold onto their beliefs regardless of whether or not they could be proven, mankind would never have gotten to the point to where were have been able to.

Oh, we might have. Healing in particular is a trial-and-error craft. If she finds that a poultice of arrowroot consistently hastens, rather than impedes, gangrene, a smart healer will stop using it, not "hold onto it regardless." The less they took on faith and the more responsive they were to indications, the better a healer they would be. Checking is built into the process by observing what actually works for healing.

What we now have, which the ancients did not, is systematic checking, where people test and measure and attempt to reproduce the results for study. It works even better. It is this system which makes the phones and the gene therapies.

Freida: You say, 'verifying is how we go from dogma to real,' but sometimes that process takes thousands of years. We need the believers in order to become the intelligent.

Or, you might just get thousands of years of stupidity, like hating gays, subjugating women and worshiping kings. If we want equality and democracy, we have to drop a lot of the stuff people believed for thousands of years. Verifying is how you find out which ancient ideas to keep and which to chunk.

Thanks again Freida!

1-29-21 6:43  •  Who is Happier, Conservatives or Liberals?

Ripney: Studies show that conservatives are happier than liberals. Why is this?

Ignorance is bliss.

Ripney: The data show that conservatives do indeed see the free enterprise system in a sunnier light than liberals do, believing in every American’s ability to get ahead...

...and immediately it makes no sense. How can "every" American get "ahead"?

The "free" enterprise system produces a few big winners and a lot of big losers. Turning it into a system with a middle class requires a lot of direction intervention by society.

Ripney: 90 percent of conservatives agree that “While people may begin with different opportunities, hard work and perseverance will overcome those disadvantages.” Liberals — even upper-income liberals — are a third less likely to say this.

90 percent of conservatives would simply be wrong.

Upward mobility from the lower classes in the U.S. is at at all-time low, and people are rapidly dropping from the middle class into the lower classes, despite hard work and perseverance. The current trend is downward for most.

And that was BEFORE the pandemic.

Living in a dream world must be nice, but on the other hand it doesn't make the "happiness" ratings very credible.

Khatz: Actually, conservatives tend to self-report higher levels of happiness on surveys, but liberals actually express greater happiness in their lives and communications. They smile more and use more happy emojis.

Ripney: These scholars note that liberals define fairness and an improved society in terms of greater economic equality. Liberals then condemn the happiness of conservatives, because conservatives are relatively untroubled by inequality, a problem that, it turns out, their political counterparts defined.

This is ridiculous. "Liberals" didn't invent the correlation between human well-being and greater economic equality.

More equal societies fare better on all measures of human development - Human Development Report Office

Study after study shows a correlation between greater equality and human well-being. People in more equal societies live longer, a smaller proportion of children die in infancy and their self-rated health is better. People in more equal societies are far less likely to experience mental illness. People in more equal societies are less likely to use illegal drugs. Children do better at school in more equal societies. Unequal societies are harsher, they imprison a higher proportion of people. Obesity is less common in more equal societies. There is more social mobility in more equal societies. Communities are more cohesive and people trust each other more in more equal societies. Homicide rates are lower and children experience less violence in more equal societies. Teenage motherhood is less common in more equal societies. Measures of child well-being are better in more equal societies. More equal societies spend a higher proportion their income on overseas aid and perform better on the Global Peace Index.

1-27-21 7:54  •  Incitement

Claire: Please show me the exact quote where he actually says to “attack Congress” with violence. Then maybe send it to Pelosi, since she used the quote of him saying “fight” as committing insurrection.

Mary: So now just using the word "fight" is incitement? They had better impeach my high school! We had a fight song where we sang, "Fight, fight, fight for victory!" Now anybody who says "fight" has to be taken literally!?

The attackers believed Trump won the election because HE told them he did. That is why they attacked, to try to stop the counting of the electoral votes and keep him as prez. He lied and lied and lied to get them into a frenzy. Then Trump "loved" what they did. How do you square yourselves with that?

You don't have to yell, "Everyone rush out and trample others!" in a crowded theater. All you have to yell is "Fire!"

Even if it isn't true. You yelled. You tricked them. You are responsible for the trampling.

Mary: Now they are saying the attack was planned beforehand. So Trump's January 6 speech did not incite them to attack. What a suprise...NOT!

He incited insurrection for weeks by denying the results of the election and telling his boobs that they could change it themselves on Jan 6.

1-26-21 8:46  •  Universal Healthcare

Sleestacks: Can you believe Biden removed the ban on transgenders in the military!? They have medical and mental health issues!

Harry: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom allow transgender military to serve openly. If it's "too hard" for the US to figure it out, then we have issues.

It's also "too hard" for the US to figure out universal healthcare, when every other advanced nation managed. Yes, we have issues.

Sleestacks: And how many of these advanced nations has a population of 350 million people? That’s comparing apples to oranges.

All of the EU is covered. That's 447.7 million people.

China has 1.3 billion people, all covered with healthcare since 2011.

Do you think the American system precludes the ordinary care for life that others have? What are we sacrificing it for that's better?

Sleestacks: We're sacrificing it, as you put it, for a better standard of care. For better access to care. My neighbor was from Canada and talked about how terrible it was.

What good is the "better standard of care" doing for us? Americans pay far more for healthcare and get way WORSE health.

Among 17 peer countries, people in the U.S. have the lowest probability of making it to age 50. How is that better care?

Sleestacks: In the EU, each country is responsible for their own healthcare. And do you really want to compare us to China??

The point is they can get it done. We can't. Big or small, other countries care. We don't. We have issues.


India has 1.366 billion people, it is the world's largest democracy. They have universal healthcare.

Mexico has universal healthcare (127 million) and so does Russia (144 million). They managed. We can't.

Millions of Americans go to Mexico for healthcare. Why??

How is American healthcare better?

Sleestacks: I didn't say it was.

So we are sacrificing better health and more money for nothing.

Sleestacks: Better healthcare doesn’t mean better health. In many ways, it’s detrimental. The most important factors contributing to America’s inferior health are behavioral and environmental.

So Americans are also stupider and dirtier than people in other countries. That doesn't really sell us as a country with "better standards."

Sleestacks: You’re sacrificing money to pay for your healthcare so that when you need it, it’s available because there’s enough resources and personnel to deal with the demand.

Unless you are poor, in which case you get chronic illness, bankrupting bills and early death from 14 diseases the rich will survive. Okay?

Sleestacks: Now maybe you’re willing to sacrifice that, but you don’t speak for 350 million Americans, many of whom realize the drawback of universal socialized medicine.

I am speaking for two thirds of Americans who support universal healthcare.

Sleestacks: If you think American healthcare is bad now, make it free and see how lower it can go. If America is already experiencing some problems with having adequate resources as it is, what will happen if now you make it free for all?

Same thing as every other advanced nation. Better health for less money.

Sleestacks: We can't afford it.

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