Quick explanation of why I am an atheist.

This is an expansion of a comment I made on string about why people are atheists. The article was in the NY Times today.

Here y’are:

I have read that there have been about 30,000 gods worshipped at some time in recorded human history. Each was revered and believed in at that time, but dropped as time passed and knowledge took the place of superstition. In time, Christianity will take its place among the myths and the Christian/Jewish god will also land in the Olympus Retirement Home for Gods.

My Christian friends declare their belief in the One God and no other. So they do not believe in the other 29,999 from history. I have come to reject all 30,000 gods. Just one more than my buddies who hold to their patriarchal monotheistic religions and their one god. Just one more.

I feel that as humans we need community and that our instincts lead us to do what makes us feel good within that community. We strive for a feeling of wholeness and goodness which most often comes in service to others in some way. We each use our talents to contribute and feel good. We feel love from friends and give love to select others. We love nature and its beauty because it makes us feel good and humbled in the presence of greatness. That striving and sharing and connection is to me what makes up a meaningful life and a non-religion based spirituality.

A concept of judgmental, jealous god too often interferes with the meaningful part of all that. That’s why I choose to be a non-believer, but reserve the right to be spiritual in a secular, humanistic way.

Spirit is not God. Spirit is all of us. We don’t need a god to seek meaning or find hope. We don’t need a church to participate in our communities and find connections that make us feel good and whole. Opportunities are all around us to create meaning and fullness in our lives without the need to worship a distant God that increasing leaves us with emptiness and even cruelty.

I’d rather hope for real things, connect with real people, revel in a real nature, participate in a real society where I can do some real good for real people. Isn’t that more hopeful than blind faith in one of 30,000 retired gods?


Budget Cuts Mean More Misery. Why? Life is Cheap.

The New York Times ran an article today about Obama catpitulating to the demands of the depression makers. It made me sick.

I’ve been looking for other voices in this time of accerating chaos. They are out there: Jean Houston, a visionary and activist in Social Awareness, Barbara Max Hubbard, an expert in the human evolutionary process in these times and some others I’ll talk about in another post. There is a way out of the current shit, but it will not come from the system that has made itself so radically sick. Einstein said you can’t solve a problem using the same processes and ideas that created the problem. That’s where we are today. We as a country and culture are very ill, and we have to fire the doctors and find our own solutions, and we have to start talking about it a lot more.

This is the comment I posted as Lallen56 to the article “Obama Budget Pivots From Stimulus to Deficit Cuts.”

The cuts to education and every program that supports actual people shows me that the Republicans are pushing to make the American worker extinct. If fewer people are educated they can justify outsourcing more jobs to countries the demand less in wages but still support education. Cheap engineers, cheap attorneys, cheap computer scientists, cheap everyone.

Our lives are cheap to them and they are the ultimate Grinches. It’s a race to the bottom. I am disgusted that Obama has capitulated to this degree. My only hope now is that the Republicans so overstep their bounds that their cruel, domination agenda becomes obvious to even the most staunch TPer’s. Neither party seems up to the challenges. Maybe the solution will come from the trenches.

There are movements afoot that emphasize evolutionary possibilities. More people should know that this doomed scenario is not the only one. (See Jean Houston, Barbara Max Hubbard and others like them.)

We can do better. We can form a culture that supports those who participate, but it will mean a complete overhaul of our economic and political systems. It can be done with determination and activism toward systems that build caring communities rather than punitive surfdoms dominated and ruled by corporate overseers and cruel warmongers.

It’s time for us to grow up and be civilized. It can be done. Wake up.

Thoughts on Gay Marriage and Bigotry

I caught this comment in the NY Times in response to an article about gay marriage rights:

“I am sick and tired of hearing that anyone who disagrees with homosexuality being called a bigot. This simple labeling implies that they must be irrational, and obviously unwilling to listen to someone else’s opinion. What if they simply disagree? What if they have a belief in certain moral standards? Aren’t their other moral standards held by society that people stick up for, that they simply feel are right? Are all those people bigots? Do you hate someone automatically just because you disagree with them? Most certainly not. Every person who does not support gay marriage is not necessarily motivated by animus, and to call them all bigots is unfair, unjustified, and does not facilitate a proper debate of the issues. It is a slur tactic designed to stir people up, and silence the opposition. I’m sorry the the NYT participates in the debate in this way.”

Not a bigot
July 10, 2010
end of NAB’s comment

Does this person have a point?
Yes. Not a Bigot (NAB hereafter) is correct in that calling someone a name does not facilitate discussion.
Yes. Calling someone or a group of people bigots is a slur tactic, but isn’t NAB creating another implied slur by implying that gays or gay sympathizers have no moral standards?

I have some other questions:
What is bigotry?
What is moral? What are moral standards?
In this case, what’s the difference?

What is the origin of the “moral standards” and what system of behaviors is it based on?

Does having “standards” automatically exempt a person from being a bigot?

Does it imply that “non-bigots” in that same issue do not have moral standards?

Doesn’t having “standards” that discriminate against an entire group of people create a systemized and approved superiority over another group because they don’t have the same pattern of “standards?”

If the “moral standards” dictated that the people not conforming to them should be killed, would it still be moral? If so, Hitler would be proud.

(And so would the Dominionists who want to take over the US and make it a Mosaic Law theocracy and execute gays and mouthy kids. Who are the Dominionists? Really weird dangerous religious fanatics, but I don’t want to talk about them at length here. Makes my head spin. google it.)

This is a very dangerous way to think. This is something like what happened to the Jews in Europe before WWII. And it was religion sanctioned by neglect in that the Catholic Church looked the other way. The CChurch has since apologized, but holy cow! Where is this coming from?

My own personal belief is that everyone should have the equal right to marry. Five years ago a gay couple with whom I am very close asked me to conduct their Commitment Ceremony. That couple is still together, and I have to say that doing that ceremony with them was one of the most satisfying events of my life. When two people love each other enough to want this, how can it be a bad thing? It’s a beautiful part of living that we all should have the legal right to enjoy.

The recent legal actions that call married restrictions like DOMA unconstitutional are a great start toward recognizing this right for all through the legal system. Once it gets done opponents will, of course, yap about activist judges and how their rights are being stunted just because another group gets the same right. Eventually it will iron out, but as long as we have groups who feel “morally superior”, we will have disagreements, for all the wrong reasons.

It’s possible that both sides of the argument are treading on very thin ice. No meeting of the minds will ever occur with attitudes this judgmental and exclusionary. Both sides create feelings of superiority and morality based on . . . what the other side doesn’t believe in.

But just like blogs and habits, beliefs can change as well. My hope is that each side will drop the moralizing and get down to the business of solving the issue. Creating a civil union or contract or some vehicle for getting hitched that everyone can have will be a great start.

Here’s a spontaneous thought. Why not have a contract system? Marriage is a legal contract arrangement after all. For example, the initial contract would be for six months with a re-up for another six months. The third contract would be for a year, the fourth for three years, and so on in agreed upon time lengths. If at the end of the contract you’ve had it with bad breath, alcoholism, or a newly discovered painful fetish, just don’t sign the next one. You’re done.

It would require counseling first to discuss the terms, which would be WONDERFUL since most newlyweds have no clue what there are getting into anyway. Maybe it would even prevent divorces, or . . . uh . .. . contract terminations. You could agree on all sorts of stuff – pregnancy, financial accounts, in-laws, toilet paper over or under . . . whatever is an issue. Everyone would have a pre-nup or they wouldn’t get married. Or Civil Unioned.

This is totally off the top of my head, so is undeveloped. But maybe it has merit and a certainly good deal more compassion than “just say no,” or “I have moral standards.”

Just a thought or two.

Talk Thursday: Expectations

Item one – “Oh listen honey. Tomorrow we have to meet with Jack’s teacher about his math grades. Do you think there’s a problem?”

Item two – “Let’s head over to the condo in Malibu next week. I think there’s a festival going on in town that weekend and no bad weather is predicted. Bring that fancy super-lube and let’s make our own hurricane.”

Item three – “I will love you forever. Will you marry me?”

Item four – “That damned recital is this afternoon. If I forget the music like last time, I’m gonna puke right up there on stage.”

Item five – I’m sorry Ms. DeLightsome. Your supervisor downgraded the results of that project you worked on for the past three years. I’m afraid we’ll have to let you go. Please clear your desk immediately. Security is on the way to escort you out.”

Item six – “I’m feeling lucky. Let’s go to Vegas.”

I’ll bet for each item, you conjured up a mental picture loaded with emotions. Either because you lived through something similar, or you can imagine what they must be feeling. (Ah, lovely hurricanes.) You could empathize with the characters and could feel their expectations and you could forecast a good or a bad outcome. Or several outcomes. Or nightmares.

Expectations. They’re always about the future. Some say expectations and intent create reality individually and collectively. Others say that’s horse patooky. Who knows for sure. The only thing we really know is that the more intensely you feel the expectation, the more intensely you feel the resulting letdown or euphoria, depending . . .

Some say:
Expect nothing and you won’t be disappointed.
My expectations were low and they were met.
My expectations were too high and unrealistic.
My expectations were low and I was pleasantly surprised.

Some say don’t have expectations at all. But really it’s okay. Go ahead and have them, but realize they are only ideas about the future, which is just another idea since doesn’t exist yet. But our emotions exist. And our expectations, hopes, fears, and denial about the future exist. Expectations are risky, fun, scary, make for great conversations. When met, such joy.

It’s so hard to not have them; it’s so hard to not adopt the expectations of others. It’s hard to not blame someone, including yourself, if outcomes fall short of expectations. When the outcomes are just awful, it’s sometimes really hard to let go of the disappointment or the anger or the blame.

As a faux Buddhist, I’ve been exposed to some wise people saying lofty things, usually with great compassion. One of the wisest statements I have ever heard came from a French monk visiting the Kanzeon Zen center in Salt Lake City. I don’t even remember what the dharma talk was about, but one statement struck me as profound in its simplicity: That we should regard ourselves with tenderness.

He said we are inherently perfect, but don’t realize it because our striving and expectations hide it from our own vision. Emotions are just ideas, but we feel them intensely. Expectations are ideas, and sometimes we live by them too much, too unrealistically.

Regard yourself with tenderness. When all expectations disappoint as they so often do. When you feel anger, resentment, blame for self. When realization sets in that you’ve snookered yourself again. Or when the joy of success fades, remember that the humanity is still there. And greatness. Expect it, with tenderness.