Wednesday, April 9, 2014

SCOTUS - Delivered Exactly What The Plutocracy Wanted... Again

Andy Borowitz may have posted satire, but his commentary was spot on in the sense this is exactly what the court's recent decision does to this country.

Will this latest ruling of the SCOTUS instill citizens to realize that their vote means more now than ever? Oh, please let common sense and reasonable actions finally rule! The people who think they have the right to own the politicians by what they give them need to hear the citizenry refuses to be ruled by their money.

I sure do hope Bernie is right. This plutocracy needs to end and the sooner, the better.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"The Killing" - Not Recommended For Believers

Its characters are skeptical, reasonable, logical and scientific, also possessing a tenaciousness and unrelenting desire to find the truth. Those who watch this show and thoroughly enjoy it understand that they have happened upon a rather intelligent show. The nastiness of life aside, it is thrilling and entertaining, even joyful actually, to witness their detective work while they emulate these wonderful characteristics.

From beginning to the very last conclusion, the main characters are asking questions and following through from one logical determination to another. Sometimes they are wrong. But they don't stop until they get to the truth and when they are wrong, they admit it. The precision they use and the techniques they employ in working their case while they reason through each presentation of clues shows an incredible capacity for keeping an open mind about the situation. They come to conclusions based on evidence and then self-correct when found to be in error. The dark subject matter of the show is trumped instead by how intelligent and methodical it is. Just brilliant.

Imagine what it would be like if the writer's mindset was that of believers. Opening scene - "Oh, she's dead!" Lead character remarks - "The Lord works in mysterious ways." Second main character - "Yes, it was all part of God's plan." The show would be over before it had even really begun! Fini, The End. This is what happens when you have your mind made up about a subject or situation or a case. There is no mystery, there is no understanding, you just believe one thing and it's that things are out of your realm of understanding. And of course, then there is no story.

From what I've observed being around believers, they seem to be satisfied with that kind of an ending, and obviously the lack of a complete story. And not only satisfied, they seem to feel completely OK with that; content with only what they have accepted to be true. Putting up a shield to stop asking further questions, for whatever the reasons. I guess it's a protection of sorts, but I'm not sure why that could make anyone feel settled. I know it doesn't make me feel good. It's like the story or the take-away is completely devoid of any substance. This just seems that it is only a means to stop figuring out what comes next.

I struggle with that inclination in some people, along with many other things, because that screams laziness and disinterest. It certainly isn't very open-minded and portrays such a lack of curiosity. This is especially frustrating when I know some of those people are not and, actually, are just as inquisitive and methodical as I am. However, they would ultimately stipulate that their god has all the answers and they just don't understand his plan yet. In other words, it's futile to question.

What is it that makes people stop and hand over their curiosity? I don't know, only that a reasonable answer to that question eludes me. But I will continue to ask because it seems impossible for me to fathom how anyone wouldn't be moved to question things to a logical conclusion, and be thoroughly satisfied with something that was just fed to them. Or in the case of some, do some research and still give up because that is the godly thing to do.

Seems to me that believers certainly have found their niche in religion; they really are a perfect fit. Religion shows them the ending, the followers accept it on faith... Fini, The End.

I can't imagine a more boring story.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Two Versions Of Boom

Believers will tell you a superior and supernatural being created life as we know it by poofing it all into existence at his whim. From nothing to something, every day until he was done. But scientists are crazy because a huge explosion was the cause for the existence of our universe.

Scientists will tell you the best possible explanation that we have to date is the big bang happened. Visually conceptualized, from virtually nothing to something into our current understanding of the universe. But believers are crazy because they think a supernatural being just whipped up the existence of life as we know it out of thin air.

Highlighting the meaning of this concept is clearly one minuscule part of the much larger argument, but it is an irritant for me. Forgive me my OCDs. If we look at these examples, side by side, religion and science seem to agree to the origin (nothing into something) even though each perspective would tell us the how and the why are different. So my point is - let's stop arguing about that particular point! If the explanation for both sides is that our existence got here from nothing, it would seem to me we all (believer, non-believer, scientist or layman) agree to this concept of our beginning.

BOOM... there it is.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I'm Not Spiritual

Armando Favazza, author of PyschoBible, presented us with psychologist David Elkins' definition of what would qualify a person to be a spiritual one. He wrote "These would include belief in "a greater self" or a personal God, a sense of purpose in life and a quest for meaning, acceptance of the sacredness of nature and of all human experience, knowledge that ultimate fulfillment is found in spirituality and not in material things, altruism, idealism, awareness of suffering and death, and leading a life that has a positive effect on people, nature and their relationship "with whatever they consider to be the ultimate and transcendent reality." The take-away for me was that Favazza would agree with that definition.

Well, after reading that I'm going to have to admit that I, too, agreed with that definition at one time. But it's certainly not a label I hold any longer. I think I held this opinion then in the hopes that if there really were a god, I might still get points for the effort of calling myself something closely resembling what he/she wanted me to be.

I understand now am I not spiritual as described in the definition above, but really only a human being who wants to do the best I can during my short stint on this planet. I'll agree (slightly and with some modifications) that I have "a sense of purpose in life and a quest for meaning, acceptance of the sacredness of nature and of all human experience, knowledge that ultimate fulfillment is found in spirituality *being a decent human being and not in material things, altruism, idealism, awareness of suffering and death, and leading a life that has a positive effect on people, *and nature and their relationship "with whatever they consider to be the ultimate and transcendent reality." In other words, just being someone whose presence in this life is not detrimental to others and the world I inhabit. It still doesn't require a holy spirit that sets my actions in motion.

So, I'm not spiritual, but I am a good human and I'm self-led. And that's about as deep as it gets.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Reworking the 12 Steps


Version 2.27.14 - My take on it

1. We admitted we were powerless  our physical/psychological addiction over alcohol that our lives had become and how it made our lives unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves understand those addictions and empowered ourselves with coping tools that could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.  'enough is enough' and with the help of trained medical help, will beat this addiction.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Acknowledged who I am (good and bad) and what I've done (good and bad).

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove change all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove Worked diligently on our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer deep reflection and/or meditation to improve our conscious contact with God ourselves and our motivations, as we understanding Him how we got here, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and tapping into our own personal the power, along with the help of a support system, to carry that out what was necessary to live in a civilized society with others.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening experienced devastating consequences of our actions, taking responsibility, exercising deep thought and insight as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The original words without the strike-through - Copyright A.A. World Services, Inc.

I'm an average human with flaws, but also good character traits. Made good decisions and bad over my lifetime. It's probably correct to say that I have addictive tendencies, but they have not impacted my life in a devastating fashion to date. Regardless, my past included involvement with another 12 Step Program. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It was brief but gave rise to rethinking this whole approach. Primarily because of the AA model incorporating the same traditional approach that religion uses to save souls.

In my opinion, AA is parading like a wolf in sheep's clothing. The main objective for the alcoholic is to get sober, but the running of this program smacks of being back in church. It seems more about bringing wretched people to a god who pulls all the strings rather than solving the initial problem of addiction. Look how many of these steps revolve around the deity! Only 3 out of the 12 Steps actually talk about what to do to help with their recovery. They put up this whole smoke screen of curing/managing their addiction, but a god is the only one in charge apparently.

In addition, the 12 Steps seem to be giving them yet another crutch to use rather than empowering them to stand up for themselves. And obviously it works for some people (something always does - different strokes for different folks), but the conflicting success rates don't show that it is making a dent in the problem of alcohol addiction.

Personally, I think when an addict has crossed a certain threshold and decided for himself/herself that enough is enough, interjecting a god into this process is saying that a person can't do it alone. I call bullshit on AA for letting a person struggling with addictions feel as if they are powerless. How is them saying that give them the courage necessary to face the internal struggles? Especially when realistically they only have themselves to achieve anything. Oh right, I forgot, if they only give it up to God. It just seems like an obvious set up for defeat when it is highly likely they will lapse again.

So if or when the alcoholic does goes back to his old habits does God get the blame? NO! It's the schlub who falls off the wagon who just can't get his act together! The fall back will be 'he/she wasn't entirely ready' to give it all over to God. Does the program and their leaders even begin to understand physical addiction during this whole process?

If addicts were truly powerless, how did those who finally made a decision to stop drinking and then manage to maintain sobriety actually do it? They may 'chant' they believe in the 12 Steps, but it is taking their own determination and willpower to actually succeed. Way to go AA for not giving them the credit for taking the first step towards their own sobriety!

Like I said, I'm an average person with some flaws, I'm not an expert in the field of addictions. But I am against yet another process that would enslave someone to thinking they require a god to live a decent life. That's just bullshit.

If you are struggling with addiction and are searching for a program that doesn't involve handing your life over to a god, check out S.O.S. It's been in existence since 1985 and continues to offer an alternative to the 12 Step Program of AA.

I hope you find the strength you need to get through the process of recovery. May your support system be strong and the resolve for your sobriety be even stronger. You and your success in overcoming your addictions are a testament of your own strength. I wish you all the best.

Friday, February 21, 2014

To Be or Not To Be... Stupid

For the people who absolutely, positively don’t have the ability to be intelligent due to physical or mental challenges, I get it and I’m not discussing you here… just for the record. More knowledge or more education just doesn't matter. These people need our help and support to adjust to a world that takes thinking for granted. And I'll say to those of us that get very uptight about a person’s intelligence level and rail at them at every opportunity when the lack of understanding makes itself known, please realize you might be failing to take some factors into consideration during said rant. Some people are just not capable of grasping information that we readily absorb. Chill out and get a grip of your righteousness.

The term stupid is considered a derogatory comment on the state of someone’s intelligence. By definition though it’s not a bad thing, it just is. So, by that logic, what follows being stupid is actually the bad part. People who are stupid tend to make poor decisions or careless mistakes. Their lack of intelligence or understanding of things contributes immensely to the condition or quality of life. That means stupid people just require more knowledge or education. Right?

Well, sort of. Having the capability isn't the only requirement for learning, the other component is a desire to be educated and informed. So, if people are capable and want to learn, then I would never consider them stupid. They are just ignorant until they understand and that's not a bad thing.

The group of stupid that irritates me and who I'm suggesting are worthy of ire are those who lack any willingness to achieve understanding because it feels more comfortable to remain ignorant. You know who I'm talking about! As John Cleese mentions in the video, they have to have a bit of intelligence to realize they are stupid and when they ignore what is potentially able to be grasped, they make a choice. Stupid doesn't do that, stupid can't do that.

So choosing to ignore information helps to keep intelligence levels down, THAT is what is frustrating with these types of people. Most just want to stay at their own ignorance level instead of really understanding all issues, problems and concerns surrounding their current situations requiring their involvement. Throw into that lack of knowledge unfettered emotions that add absolutely no value to the situation requiring some thought and well, you see, you have a mess. This scenario just leads to no resolution and generally more confusion for the uneducated person.

Let's not call these people stupid, let's call it out for what it really is - them willfully choosing to be stupid. And keep saying it to them. Maybe one of these days this comment you are making about them will have an impact. I suppose they might finally choose to be less ignorant. One can only hope.

***NOTE ADDED 2/23/14 - A fan has highlighted something problematic with this piece. The picture (unknown creator), one I took off of, apparently doesn't have it right according to Wikipedia. I'd like to thank the fan for pointing it out. What a great way to highlight the point I was making! Getting schooled about something you are unaware about is an opportunity to learn. Choosing not to means you prefer remaining ignorant. Acknowledging that you didn't know something is not wrong and slinging unwarranted attacks on people for it is also wrong. And it's even more inappropriate when you don't even know the people, what their thought process is or what their intentions are in the situation. We can all learn something, I hope.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Creationism -The Dogma Of The Christian Fringe

Ken Ham and his views on Creationism are like the Tea Party of the religious - extremely right of American Christianity.

The idea that the earth is only 6,000 years old is a radical idea far from the mainstream understanding of the existence of our world, but it's one that he and so many more want to cling to and sell to the rest of the country. They tried real hard getting it into schools and have succeeded to some degree.

This recent debate between Ham and Nye showed the world the silliness and the sheer ignorance of Creationists; the idea will be laid aside, once and for all. Like the Tea Party, they got just stupid enough that everyone is now coming around to seeing how dangerous their thought process is in the world we understand so well through science. A rational world not only rejecting their ideas about Creationism, but also showing the rest of the sane people how idiotic this whole concept really is and how destructive it is to how we live in this world. The die-hard followers will continue to double down; ignorance always does. But the thinking population will prevail with respect to education and understanding of our universe.

When it became obvious what the true colors of the Tea Party were, their radical mind-set and actions began to contribute to their demise. And it continues as we see that many are being ousted from their positions in Congress.Their infiltration of the Republican Party only recently being loudly called out for what it is - the fringe element of society trying to take over our political systems. Like the Tea Party, the groundwork laid down by supporters of Creationism had somewhat of a foothold in our society, but if we are lucky, sooner rather than later, these crazy ideas will also fade away.

To make the case even more, we have another fringe guy speaking up about the crazy talk of Ham and his followers, pushing it along. You know you and your following, and especially your ideas are in trouble when Pat Robertson says you just need to go away. If he says you are spouting stuff that is "making a joke of Christianity!" seems to me you've crossed a line with so-called legitimate Christians

Pat seems to forget he does a good enough job on his own convincing most of us that Christianity is a joke. He should probably just go away, too. And take with you your fringe element!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Science Is Reasonable

Creator Unknown

I lost count of how many times Bill Nye said the word reasonable during the debate, but every time he did it made me want to slap him on the back with praise. That one word was the most appropriate thing he could say in rebuttal to anything that was coming out of Ken Ham's mouth. He was practically begging him to say something reasonable all during the debate. It didn't happen.

The picture above shows you the response of both participants from last night. Would either of them be persuaded to change their position and what would it take for that to happen?  Many would argue they shouldn't change their mind because they are supposed to defend their position and win the debate. But interestingly, the science guy is open to it because that's what scientists do! That position seems pretty reasonable. Again that word. 

Discussions with people who just want to believe in things rather than understand them cannot be reasonable. We can debate with them until we are blue in the face about their facts and understanding, show them evidence that clearly contradicts not only their thought process about the topic but about the relevancy of the topic as a guiding truth. Getting into a debate with someone who has closed their mind to any new information and we are still no further along than "But it's in the Bible so it must be true." And so, they backpedal all their insight to fit into that idea. Debate over. You're just wrong, you fact-having, evidence-producing, reasonable person you. 

That word - reasonable - will remind people to take a step back and understand that we would normally approach things from a reasonable perspective during the course of our day and life in general. Well, some of us. So, let's hope there are those who were willing to take this discussion about creationism/religion in their brains one step further. Those on the fence about these topics will maybe begin to understand that being reasonable is how we solve problems and maintain a life on this earth. Fantasizing a guy in the sky is pulling the strings and providing you with an after-life is not being reasonable; it's just wishful thinking because you are afraid of your own death. And you want a promise you'll see your loved ones again. 

I've heard many people make the comment that Ken Ham needed money for his creation museum and that this was just a stunt to get some much needed cash-flow. Based on the email I received below the day after (and the pre-sale one before the event), I think I can reasonably say that I would have to agree with them. Making money was one part of the agenda, turning non-believers into believers was the other.

Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham Debate

Keep the conversations going!

Tonight’s historic debate didn’t end at 9:30—it has only just begun! Below are some opportunities for you and your church, school, or organization to keep the conversations going.
  • Debate Answers Live

    Watch Ken Ham and Georgia Purdom discuss the debate at on Wednesday 2/5/14 at 8:00 PM (ET).
    • Air it live for your Wednesday night youth groups, Bible studies, and small groups.
  • Re-watch the debate on our YouTube channel.

  • Learn more with Ken Ham’s Foundations DVD series

    Purchase the curriculum set or just the DVDs, now for an EXTRA 50% off the sale price for 72 hours after the debate!
    • Use promo code FOUND50
    • Check out the first video in this series FREE on YouTube
  • Get Answers

    Get thousands of free articles, books, and videos on some of the most relevant biblical topics.
  • More coming soon

    Look for future emails, in the coming weeks, with outreach ideas for your church and immediate family including new debate and study plan materials.
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Bill Nye and Ken Ham both had agendas, obviously. Ham proselytized his way through the debate and Nye talked about what we can know and what we don't know. Both were confident in their positions. One had evidence based on the scientific method which we would apply to everything in our natural world and the other had evidence from an alleged supernatural source which cannot be proven. Which position seems reasonable to you?

I think I'd rather be on the reasonable one's side.

PS - Bill Nye won that debate hands down.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Did Louisiana Just Give The Boot To Buddhists?

Scott Lane has a problem. He wrote about it and he enlisted the ACLU to help him fight the good fight. His step-son, raised Buddhist, is having Christianity forced on him in a country that supposedly honors and respects, but especially claims to uphold a person's right to Freedom of Religion, any religion he chooses to practice. But Sabine Parish doesn't seem to think they did anything wrong. Christianity Rules, don'tcha know?!?!

It is despicable to me that a child would be harassed for any reason, but for it to be teachers and staff that would participate and encourage behavior that not only violates a constitutional law, and feel proud about forcing their religion onto children tells me we still have a long way to go when it comes to educating our society. Obviously Sabine Parish needs immediate attention in that arena.

I applaud Scott Lane and the ACLU for addressing the problems at Sabine Parish. It is a typical fight, sadly, but a necessary one. Indoctrination of students and promoting one religion over another does not belong in the school system, any school system. The active proselytizing and shaming we are seeing around the country, not only this school, has to stop.

If we want to educate then teaching the history of religion, all religions, wouldn't be a bad thing, but Christianity cannot be promoted as if it were the only religion practiced in this country by the citizens and their dependents. Teaching classes as if this religion were the only right religion is just not appropriate.

And it has to stop. Whenever we see injustices occur and our constitution is twisted to fit a selfish agenda, we must speak out and we must act. Scott Lane, I applaud you for standing up and the ACLU for aiding you in this fight. I'm with you 100%!

Give the boot to unconstitutional and unethical practices in Sabine Parish!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

AZ S.B. 1062 - This State's Version of Sharia
Biblical Law
Web definitions

Biblical: the code of law derived from the Bible and from the teachings and example of God; "Biblical laws are only applicable to Christians"; "under Christian law there is no separation of church and state"

I removed all references to Sharia, Muslim and Islam from the above Google definition of Sharia law. The change of just a few words gives you what Arizona S.B. 1062 is trying to accomplish - becoming a theocracy or theocrazy, as I would call it. This "expanding the definition of a person to include any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly, estate, trust, foundation or other legal entity", person-hood redefined to enable the other problematic part of this bill - legalized discrimination across all sectors of their state.

This bill would allow any person claiming to act in the best interests of his/her religion to do whatever they wanted based on their belief system, including breaking any already established law(s). Their religious beliefs would trump Arizona state laws. WTF?

What time period am I living in? I know it's 2014, not 1814 or the time of Jesus, but it's sure being hi-jacked by right wing religionists who would want to take us back to those days when god ruled with an iron fist! What other explanation can you give to their desire to retreat to the archaic with this action of introducing (again) this current version of legislated hate?

What part of blatant discrimination are he and his co-sponsors not seeing? They aren't seeing the discrimination they would want to foist onto their state (and planting the seed for other states to follow suit) because they aren't doing any different than the lord, their god, has already shown us to be; he's the biggest discriminator of them all! Pleasing the father is their goal; heaven, the reward for their obedience. Never mind we live in a country that has as its highest piece of law, The Constitution, which forbids discrimination. That doesn't seem to matter.

When will these people finally understand that this country is NOT a Christian nation? They won't EVER understand that this is not nor ever has been a Christian nation because plain and simple, they don't want to see it. They don't want to see the letters, thoughts, writings of our forefathers who would dispute their thinking, or the Constitution itself that is a secular document, protecting the rights of ALL its citizenry and their ideology. It's just not in them to let go of their incorrect thought process. Indoctrination will do that to a person; it's quite strong with this one obviously.

While writing this piece, a story came to my attention about a mother who killed her two small children whilst performing an exorcism on them. If AZ S.B. 1062 were in force and she lived in Arizona not Maryland, wouldn't the courts be good with her since she was only exercising her rights? You know where it says "exercise of religion means practice or observance of religion...", that bit? It would seem to me that we give license to crazy when we allow a religion to dictate and excuse some one's behavior, be it discriminatory or criminal. The religious fundies and tea party members who would decry "We can't have Sharia Law!", but yet would create legislation in our country which basically has the same objective or goal. It numbs the mind when you think about the inability of people like Yarbrough to see this is exactly what they are trying to establish here.

If we are to be considered humane, evolved and on the side of reason then this law needs to considered nothing more than insane like most of the religiously driven legislature that has been put forth in AZ and in most conservatives states in this country in the last twenty years. We are better than that. Our country stands on the precipice of making so many good decisions with respect to some issues right now - marriage equality, decriminalization/legalization of recreational marijuana, striking down unconstitutional voter ID laws. Let's keep our eye on the ball and continue moving forward, not going backward. 2014 promises to be an interesting election year considering how many segments of the population the backwards-thinking politicians have pissed off with their 'social agenda' these last few years. Religion has been deserving of the push-back by those who support separation of church and state. I'm expecting the will of the people to be evident in the upcoming elections. They will be sending a message, loud and clear...

Keep religion out of politics. That is the only sane thing to do.