Saturday, July 18, 2009

God as a Figment of the Human Imagination

Author of the Evolution of God, Robert Wright, was a guest on Bill Moyer's Journal last night. Shortly into the discussion, Moyers asked, "So, did god begin as a figment of the human imagination?" Wright answered, " I would say so."

Well, that's no great revelation. Most of us figured that out long ago, after we took a second look at all of the nonsense in the Bible. Wright goes on to explain to Moyers that he feels that the human brain is not capable of understanding the principle of god other than some being like us only bigger and more powerful- on the order of Superman. He says, "In my earlier writings about evolutionary psychology, one thing that became clear to me is that the human mind is not designed to perceive ultimate truth or even truth in a very broad sense. I mean, the human mind was designed by natural selection to get genes into the next generation. To do some things that help you do that like eat and reproduce. And as quantum physics has shown us you know, in highlighting our inability to think clearly, even about things like electrons. The human mind is not designed to perceive truth that go beyond this narrow part of the material world."

It's all about our dinky brains.

Regarding the title of the book, The Evolution of God, Wright says, "the god that is believed in now, first of all, assumes many different forms, even among believers. I mean, the difference between the god I was brought up with in Southern Baptist church and the way god would be conceived by an Anglican priest or something, you know, are very different. And similarly, there's been change over time. And the fact that god can adapt does account for his longevity. And also, at crucial points during that evolution, he acquired features that have proved very attractive."

An adaptable god, able to alter features to become more attractive seems to suggest what rock stars [read Michael Jackson] are able to do. Wright identifies the church doctrine of individual salvation of an eternal afterlife as a tremendous sales-pitch which snagged millions of people in its net. Reminds me of the pitch-man, Billy Mays: 'But wait!"

"The god that I show evolving is undergoing a process very analogous to natural selection. You know? New traits arise, and if they succeed in enhancing the power of the god, by, for example attracting new believers then they remain. And if they don't work for one reason or another, they fall by the wayside. So, god has evolved very much the way, you know, human organism evolved through natural selection, yes." Wright notes that god 'acquired' the traits from different religions; from the Egyptians, god promised an 'after-life' to which Christians are so enamored.

[As an aside, while typing this, I can envision a few of the christian fundamentalists who regularly scour my blog, gasping and reaching for their well-worn Bible, falling on their knees to deny that their eyes ever read such blasphemous words! A double dose of fluvoxamine, stat!]

Wright tells of his 'conversion' to Jesus at age 9 and the 'trouble' that ensued. "I went up to the front of the church and accepted Jesus and was baptized some weeks later. And, you know, and then I encountered the theory of evolution and I had come from a Creationist environment, so that was a kind of irreconcilable threat to my faith. And the theory of natural selection seemed very compelling to me. And my parents even brought a Southern Baptist minister over to the house at one point when I was high school to try to convince me that evolution had not happened. And it didn't work."

He was saved! Praise Isis!

The associated 'guilt' however is long-lasting. He says, "I'll tell you one thing I have not lost is I've never lost the sense that I'm being judged by a being. I mean you know, it's a powerful-- if you're brought up believing that a god is watching you, it's a powerfully ingrained thing."

Guilt. Nothing like a dose of that to keep the 'faithful' in line. Fundamentalists carry it round in a spray bottle in their purses and frequently use it on themselves and on those whom they know 'need it.' I must have evolved a super guilt shield because guilt rolls off of me like water off of a duck in a lake.

Praise Mithra!

Wright closes with a phrase that ought to resonate with a large number of people; he refers to 'a moral axis to the universe.'

[end of Part 1]

Friday, July 17, 2009

GOP Math Deficiency

One trillion, 4.5 billion or 6 thousand? Does it make any difference? Good old arithmetic. How many zeroes? Where do I put the commas?

The GOP these days is a queer lot both figuratively and factually. An odd conglomeration of divergent groups of white people who come together every two and four years to vote. The conglomerate sedimentary rock above, shaped like a turtle shell, might be a great graphic representation of today's Republican Party. I'm quite sure that there is some 'Luddite' mixed in with this assemblage of odd sludge.

I spent the day yesterday at a post-glacial lake formed 12,000 years ago during the last glacial ravage in what is now known as The Irish Hills of southeastern Michigan. The Wisconsinan Glacier, named for the state, slowly retreated northward leaving much debris in its melt. Some were mounded conglomerate deposits known as recessional moraines, others beach ridges of mostly sand. Still others were deposit-covered glaciers which slowly melted forming bowls which subsequently filled with water- the lakes of the Irish Hills.

While slowly putting around the lake on a pontoon boat, conversation turned to those funny fundamentalists- always good for a belly laugh at any occasion, and even more-so after a glass of wine or two. "How old is this lake?" I asked? Without hesitation, someone quipped, "Six thousand years!" "Exactly!" I replied, and we all chuckled, knowing that there were millions of Americans who date all earth events from that date, as implied in the Bible.

I was wondering, as the laughter subsided, whether there were any fundamentalist bodies wallowing in these same waters, ignorant of the mass of scientific data on the origins not only of these glacial formations and the earth itself. Enough geology; back to math.

Many Republican members of Congress have stood at the House and Senate microphones denigrating the so-called Obama Health Care proposal, putting special emphasis on the cost of such a bill. They enjoy mouthing the word, 'trillions,' as if it gives their tongue a special tickle upon leaving their mouth. It is oft-repeated during the harangue for emphasis.

They know their 'trillions', but have trouble with 'billions.' To be more precise, 4.5 billion, the estimated age of the earth. Those conservative christian and fiscally anal Republicans like the fluff of 6,000 rather than the hard fact of 4.5 billion. What's up with that?

Well, not much is up with them except the same old obfuscation, spin and other deviant practices that they have exhibited for the past two decades. At least, if nothing else, they can lighten the spirit with a good belly laugh.

Equalizing Black and White Justice

"We're gonna do this crack cocaine thing." Alabama Senator Jeffery Sessions, yesterday. Then he clarified, "We're gonna reduce the burden of crack cocaine cases and make them fair."

'This crack cocaine thing' refers to the long-standing unequal conviction and sentencing laws for powdered vs. crack cocaine- an obvious racial imbalance. Whites prefer powdered cocaine which carries more lenient sentencing guidelines than the black-preferred crack.

We're gonna get it done. Seems it takes a while for GOP congressmen to 'get it' as they prefer to roll around in the muck quite a while before moving towards equality under the law. I suppose it 'teaches' them coloreds that freedom really isn't free unless your skin is lacks melanin. Keeps them from getting too uppity, you know. If you let them have an inch, you know that pretty soon, they'll want to move into your neighborhood!

Best not act too fast. You all know what I'm gett'n at, don't ya?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Those Weeny Southern Senators

Ain't it a hoot watching the confirmation hearings for Sonia Sotomayor? There she sits with all of her feminine, brown-skinned essence with those weeny white southern senators haranguing her with their pompous righteousness dripping from their good ole boy mouths.

It must be frightening, not for Judge Sotomayor, but for the white boys to realize that one more 'colored' person will soon be at the highest levels of our government. Where did 'their' America go! Why can't we go back to the good old days when this nation was run by white men?

Change is tough, especially for weeny men, stuck in permanent adolescence, who are unsure of their own place in this world. I'll bet that right-wing radio has been an unusually malevolent fart-hole these past two days, with the usual group-think dittoheads getting their daily 'fix' of hate.

Weeny men, ne’er-do-wells with low self-esteem, who denigrate others so that they feel better about their own crappy lives, must these days be more and more angry and fearful about their future. A black president, a black attorney general, a Latino Supreme Court Justice, a black Surgeon General must curdle their inners. Is spouse-abuse on the rise? Physical and verbal abuse of children? Road rage?

Too bad that so many American men get stuck in adolescence and never advance to fully-functioning and caring adult men. I wonder if they even know how that they are stuck there? It wouldn't matter anyhow, because they wouldn't have the chutzpah to honestly look into the mirror of truth. No, they would rather wear their mask and angrily plod through the rest of life, blaming everybody else for their perceived miserable life.

Meanwhile, the rest of us go about our adult lives making the best of the challenges and joys of life.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Creation Museum Science Fair

Yes, you read that correctly, although your laughter may have obscured the seriousness of this event. The photo at right is from the First Baptist Church of Wheeling when their church had 'fun' riding the dinosaurs, just like Adam and Noah did 6000 years ago. Adam saddled up Ole Dino to do the plowing after The Fall. Noah was lucky enough to have a breeding pair aboard the ark and used these beasts of burden to build his God-fearing new world atop the mountain.

The children of scientists need not apply, however, because there are strict, religious rules. Mother Jones details some of the most stringent:

Next February, Cincinnati's Creation Museum will hold a science fair for budding creationists. All students in grades 7-12 are encouraged to apply, provided they agree with Answers in Genesis' Statement of Faith, which includes the following items:

• The account of origins presented in Genesis is a simple but factual presentation of actual events and therefore provides a reliable framework for scientific research into the question of the origin and history of life, mankind, the Earth and the universe.

• The various original life-forms (kinds), including mankind, were made by direct creative acts of God. The living descendants of any of the original kinds (apart from man) may represent more than one species today, reflecting the genetic potential within the original kind. Only limited biological changes (including mutational deterioration) have occurred naturally within each kind since Creation.

• The great Flood of Genesis was an actual historic event, worldwide (global) in its extent and effect.


The paradox of a fantasy-land such as The Creation Museum and such strict 'rules' for participation is bizarre. But then, the word bizarre is a perfect description for the folks who see this museum as reality-land.

Dick in Orange

Although the picture at right is a fake, It will be just a matter of time, now, when Dick 'Dick' Cheney's arrest warrant is served. Yesterday we learned that Cheney ordered a subversive spy program after 9/11, so secret that Congress did not even know that it existed. CIA director Panetta ended the program last month. At the direction of the then-vice president, Congress was not notified of a highly classified counter-terrorism program for eight years. By law, the CIA is required to make sure that congressional committees are "kept fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the United States, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity."

By law...

Obviously, Mr. Cheney figured that he was above the law of this nation, much as in the pattern of a dictator of some two-bit banana republic. In Cheney's world, 'The law' only applies to those below the Executive Branch. The law is for the peons, the grunts because, after all, what do THEY know about how to run a government?

With his bad heart, I'm sure that he'd die before any trial or before his public hanging. Either way, this nation will have learned an important lesson on governance and the Constitution- at least until the next deviant comes to power.

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