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The strength of a more inclusive humanism is that it sounds quite agreeable to both today's ingroup and its "other". The weakness seems to be that humanity's factions (by definition) can't ever settle on which faction has the most ethical method for compelling someone to act differently than they otherwise would. I mean any act of moralizing --itself-- is a moral dilemma. It seems we cannot resist judging the method/theory based on how we foresee the practical outcomes will help or harm us --indivually or collectively.
1 year, 2 months ago on Methodological Humanism – Beyond Belief and Disbelief
Selfishness has such negative connotations. What's evidently unique to us mouth-talkers is that we can temporarily spout moral narratives of this universe as if we might look back at puny earth and feel nothing ...but ultimately we mouth-talkers tend towards reverting back to a earthing's view of ecology and economy -- so called "econology". Wherein being selfish and species-ist is not so much egotistical, as humane.
1 year, 3 months ago on Is It Too Late To Start Again?
Paragraph 2: "Ockham’s Razor speaks to the necessity of Ockham’s Beard: that which needs to be trimmed"
Pairing humanity down to primate evolution is perhaps the surest way of raising hackles and re-enforcing the discomfort levels of your interlocutors :) They won't switch so effortlessly from "natural selection via DNA" to mere evolution-as-metaphor. They're wary.
On morality, those "personal" parlances (gut instincts, theologies) are quickly defended as arguably better; hence any groupish (apish) approaches of modernity or liberalism --those ethicists of academe-- are easily judged as humanly corrupt, misguided or wrong.
On genesis, those biologically explanatory theories of human genesis cave to deeper counter-intuitive "unbelievable" theories; abiogenesis, krauss' universes from nothing etc.
On the soul, those minds cannot come at their own consciousness being fully contained within that squishy brain inside their skull. And confirmations are busily bubbling up from those subconscious regions --pre-humanoid and evolutionarily sufficient-- as narratives to an (over-rated and over-confident) cognitive executive function.
1 year, 3 months ago on No Magic Required
"It has been argued that the Anthropocene may transition to a much longer epoch of human stewardship over the environment known as the Sustainocene"
>><i> what do we gain or lose when labeling a horrendous act as “terrorism”?</i>
A sense of comradery. Inviting a sense of an 'us' and a 'them'. Giving us a sense of closure where there is none, nor can ever be.
It isn't that 9/11 language tries to be as consistent with the 20th C as possible. It's for making us feel better about minds that terrify us.
Those minds of criminals that are by no means as easily understood nor as mentally unusual as we keep sincerely hoping they'll be.
Their premeditated, groupish, fits-of-bloody-rage drawing attention to their cause ...are a mirror to our unfathomable "defensive" US wars.
1 year, 3 months ago on Defining Terrorism in the 21st Century
"Many of the foods banned under Islamic sharia law, and under Judaism, may have their roots in the fact that these teachings were there to stop people from getting ill by making the wrong food choices."
Doubtful, unless those ancient holymen understood the cause of poisoning was bad meat and reasoned the solution was a good throat slashing.
I think we can be rather more confident that it was their view of their livestock --not of food poisoning-- that informed their old testament rules about what meat to eat and not eat. Or they'd reason about a meatless diet, which they don't (must eat god's bounty).
1 year, 5 months ago on Transubstantiation, Halal and Kosher – How Food Becomes Magical
The world is now seeing, what always until now, was hidden. Jocks. Version 2.0
1 year, 5 months ago on The Rape Blame Game
I think it might be hair-splitting to try to argue that skeptics can cleanly criticise beliefs without disrespecting those who hold the belief that's being put on blast. To be skeptical of religious beliefs is to behave less-than-respectfully towards the religious.If there are no sacred cows then I think that's fine.
1 year, 5 months ago on Respect for Superstition?
Something is fishy about using the word respect as per the OP. Respect means more than tolerance.
I'm not even sure skeptics have a cognitive choose about whether or not they will respect a belief they're skeptical of.
which is to say, morally inferior. And clearly recognisable as their church's earthly anti-christ with whom she struggles, resists, and hopes to defeat.
Uncomfortability seems to motivate moralizers. Morality has a lot to do with feeling tensions and seeking comfort.
Humanism might try to teach us that we ought to stop discriminating between humanity's morality and god's morality. That seems a difficult teaching to get across to holymen and the fans of godlessness. Humans have an intuition that moral teachings are moral dilemmas whereby the alternatives are either good or --ethically speaking-- wrong.
Personally I would preach that those alternative teachings are either good or --ethically speaking-- better.
Would that make my above preaching wrong? Teach me something better??
1 year, 5 months ago on Expanding on the Definition of Humanism – Full Repost
Marti's case is strong; humanism isn't in fact selfish and species-ist. Such claims are mistaken. Or worse. Moralistic.
Steve's definitions remind us that historically humanism formed as a moral alternative to monotheism. Which for biblical moralists, much like paganism to early Christendom,
>>How does the electrochemical activity of neurons in the human brain produce subjective, first-person experience? Nobody knows.Nagel's argument is trivially true, yet profoundly false.Linguistically, chemistry doesn't explain psychology. Yet brain chemicals *do* explain that familiar feeling of "being in control" ...because that feeling can be so easily taken away from you by simply pumping your system full of drugs.
1 year, 5 months ago on Teleology, Destiny and a Life of Purpose
I'd rather the OP took a skeptical look at Danny's arguments; why should he discriminate between multiculturalism & cultural diversity? why shouldn't he use scripture to defend his group's preference? why should he compromise with his anti-christ?
I'm tempted to think that we can't make sense of a christian moralizer like Danny in his own "conservatism = good" terms, so we're either overlaying liberal nuances to reframe his loyalism as "racism" to avoid debate, or worse: we're essentially just dismissing the preferences of these influential christian Right lobbiests out-of-hand.
He's principled-but-unreasonable approach is at risk of looking like a mirror skeptics: Danny is busy herding the like-minded, not doing the difficult-cum-impossible work of trying to change minds towards his way of thinking about the political world:
For example, this line of reason/unreason can easily divide even a skeptical audience who'll have their balony-detection on a hair-trigger as soon as the topic turns to religio-politics: "the fact that these attitudes are becoming more common  is a direct result of  a failure of the wishes of people to integrate, where we should be celebrating cultural diversity [uncomfortable moralizing, is-ought fallacy fallacy, comfortable apathy...] and of media [how do you feel about the rich?] and political infatuation with... [how to you feel about our leaders?]"
I can see that Danny is standing up for what he thinks is right. But I can't see the OP tackling the root that he is misinformed about 21st century ethics and/or in fact has (many times) been shown to advocate specific premises that's are now know to be historically incorrect.
1 year, 6 months ago on Nalliah – Catching the Fires of Bigotry
@Celia Jane Yes I agree our culture is very gender focused (yes probably "too" focused for our own good) and that our laws ought to be a better mixture of "gender blind" (equal-rights feminism) and "male-female asymmetrical" (positive discrimination).
I'm unsure changing the paradigm is as much of a live option as simply changing the laws. Hopefully changing legislation helps encourage these paradigm shifts, but changing unreasonable primate brains is something reasonable primate's find profoundly difficult ;)
1 year, 7 months ago on A Feminist Issue – Culture or Contract?
Yes very useful. Another great post, M.S.P.
I see at least 2 contexts where those labels frequently get thrown around; the personal & the religio-political.
On the left we can cope your 1950s beliefs if your don't block these Bills based on 21st century thinking.
But the right can see right through irreligious atheism because they've known since they were kids that it's in fact 1955.
1 year, 7 months ago on Irreligion vs Atheism
@futilityfiles Lots of choice seems to be a reasonable way to organise a legal system. At least according to liberals.Wrt your nagging question, if my personal choices are --in fact-- significantly more influenced (by norms) than I currently imagine them to be, then it's likely just another fact of life I'll have to accept, not a personal problem left for me to "choose" to solve.
If feminism is about equal rights, then it seems difficult to substantiate a claim that the Knowles' exercising their American rights are significantly hindering (or reversing) the desired advance of womens' rights globally, or some specific legal jurisdiction.
It might be the prevailing wisdom out in the public square (though not inside the Australian Sex Party, I imagine) but until it's evidenced with some credible trend data, perhaps we ought to remain skeptical that nude popstars are undermining feminist activists... ?
@Shauns57 Sounds reasonable and is clearly written.Trust erodes as historians learn that bible stories aren't historically accurate.
Continuing to spread those fictions to children as if true seems ethically quite problematic.
Discredited explanations of the past will keep conflicting with modern academia.
Wikipedia is more deserving of trust than local clergymen when it comes to history and earthly matters. This includes ethics.
Christendom is so confused about what's a biblical fiction and what's a fact, that its moralizers are even worse than mistaken. They mislead christians into thinking that the biblical view of morality (salvation) ISN'T conflicting with academic ethicists.
Insisting jesus saves is as wrongheaded as insisting on Saddam's WMDs after the intelligence learnt that there's no such thing.
1 year, 7 months ago on Don’t Read This Rant on Religion
@markjoseph125 Also church-state separation is Jefferson's wall concept. The 1st amendment is limiting the government's powers to enact laws that hinder her citizens' right to religious freedom. The US constitution doesn't insist on Jefferson's wall.Imo, this is problematic for the US because to freely practise christendom includes teaching kids bible fictions about history.
Impeding human progress.
@postle_thirteen I had the same thought. But the objection to indoctrination isn't a question of "how many".
The indoctrinated live happy healthy lives. Those families support the religious leaders who're using politics (and wealth) to undermine the sciences. Teaching creationism in the state's science classes, convincing half the US that evolution ain't true, etc.
His first answer is spot on. LIKE.
1 year, 8 months ago on VIDEO: “Oliver Sacks on Humans and Myth-making”
@The Vicar Not creepy because we're skeptical of "CPT Symmetry demands that the past and future have the same level of uncertainty". Is that the current consensus of physicists who specialise in QT?
If so, please show us that wikipedia article so some blogger can dig into its references and interview their (living) authors.
Prediction: the resulting youtube vid will go viral, and its advertising will more than cover the blogger's time to put it together.
1 year, 8 months ago on Future Improbable
@DrBobMI is suggesting "the best way to overcome prejudice or bigotry is not to draw lines in the sand over trivial things like Christmas trees".
Yeah but @LaughPurgatory @martinspribble are drawing their (right/wrong) line in the sand over "anti-homosexual doctrine".
Any more nuanced view of that doctrine's "them" (who's adopted that doctrine) doesn't help with the tree-purchasing dilemma: it's now uncomfortable doing business with a scout.
1 year, 9 months ago on Boy Scouts America: Anti Gay, Anti Atheist (BSA Blog Carnival)
Excellent post, Marti.It's quite encouraging that GGA are taking the progressive approach to their officially stated values. The liberal democratic approach.So eerie that the BSA deliberately maintains their value of loyal obedience to their officially stated leader and ruler, God.Do they ever officially unpack this further; "the requirement in the Scout Oath that a Scout be morally straight"?'Morally straight' seems to be code for unclean conduct, which I'm wagering they feel is profoundly gender specific. But perhaps not.
Imho, when conservative moralisers avoid officially spelling out what they feel is straight/clean, they're permitting families to byo any definitions of sodomy. Including those quick thinkers with a frustrating lack nuance, that conflate acts of personal harm (crimes) with those sex acts that social progressives are increasingly comfortable with (sins).
Great post. Great video. Eye-opening stuff...
1 year, 9 months ago on VIDEO: “Mission Field: Education not Expected”
I think skeptics can treat the evidence for "elusive" beings differently to the evidence for "disembodied" beings.When somebody claims they saw an angel --and cannot show us their evidence-- we find that testimony unbelievable because it's far more likely they're simply mistaken about whatever they think they saw or heard. Scientific research shows us how fallible our senses and brains are. Courtrooms recognise that eye-witness testimony is increasingly unreliable. We aren't calling anybody a liar. It's just that such incredible claims need more credible evidence than an eye-witness.
Those who accept that angels have communicated with humans, we find unbelievable because --despite the countless stories told throughout history-- it's far more likely that all non-human minds that exist in this world will turn out to be embodied. That is, physical with moving parts like a living brain ...or something very like it. Scientific research reveals the answer to body-mind dualism. It's false.
1 year, 9 months ago on Q: How Many Angels On The Head Of A Pin?
The historical trend of monotheism is schisming, so we can guess that any large congregation harbours dissent from their pulpit's (vague) teachings. Including wrt who isn't saved.
Ditto for the readers of any famous theologian's (vague or otherwise) teachings. Whatever monotheism leaders are teaching children about who isn't saved, those teachers trust their sect & heart over the professorial consensus of bible scholars.
Marti is here focusing on the "hypocrisy" of the individual many-paths christian who's arguably dissenting from their own bible. I see that as uncharitable because Pew shows they're thinking in terms of their divine saviour judging infidels (damning them) based on the "spirit of" --and not the letter of-- The Biblical Law.
1 year, 9 months ago on The Many Faces of God
@Steve Barry We see those who aren't defending those central tenets are simply re-imagining them.
There is this concept of the "living" bible. The text cannot be altered (that would be science) and yet each generation can re-interpret those same words. Like magic.
1 year, 10 months ago on The Many Faces of God
@martinspribble That sounds approximately right.
Though I imagine that from the pews it doesn't look nor feel anything like "hypocrisy" since they're merely putting a loving new spin on that (hellish) fable of "saving" being taught from their pulpit.
I think we need to get away from the idea that most christians are thinking of Allah or Islam as being "false".
It doesn't gel with the Pew data suggesting that MOST are thinking in terms of "many paths" :http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1062/many-americans-say-other-faiths-can-lead-to-eternal-life
My suspicion is that jesus fans are more diverse in their thinking about non-christians than today's spokesmen (yes men) for christendom & biblical morality.
Perhaps "Broken Telephone" rather than bringing that particular nationality into it? ;)
1 year, 10 months ago on Faith and the Non-Answer
@Scotsmanmatt Mark and ReasonBeing are reminding you that we can see clear a difference between Religious Faith and the "confident trust" we all have in mere earth-bound entities.
Monotheism insists that we OUGHT to seek "confident trust" in something that isn't physical and isn't conceptual, but instead is something Divine (of, or from, or like that character in Genesis 1 etc). From where do they get this fable? Their bible.Historically each area of academia --originally well aligned to monotheism's biblical teachings-- has discovered more accurate explanations to the biblical version. And thus ousted to sectarian seminaries those who've turned out to be too loyal to their religious teachers, who for the sake of tradition MUST insist on their less well evidenced biblical interpretation (of this world and its morality) -- thus definitionally too confident, too strict, too biblical, too biased, too blinded.You're correct that christians will tend to reject the definitions of non-christians. However that's merely another brute fact about earthlings that the holymen of monotheism are taking advantage of when they continue teaching what 21st century academia now knows to be a fiction: that the Divine miraculously enables christians to behave differently (think more clearly, act more kindly, and other nonscience) to the outsiders, the factually and/or ethically "mistaken", those non-christians.
Thank-you for that great plughole example, Marti.
Made me think that many would be tempted to consult their plumber mate to settle that Plughole question. That to me is making the same mistake as looking to their holyman to help them answer the Monotheism question. We're lucky the 21st century has better options.
One further point make on "information from more than one source" is that that's the dictum we primarily associate with journalism, and yet those folks are among modernity's most distrusted of professions. Since the mass media wells have been so poisoned, most of the info we're consuming is vulnerable to (radical yet believable and compelling) orators who rely on their argument winning "fact" of systematic / isolated "corruption". Their evidence usually hair thin.
Monotheistic teachings therefore seem to fall short in several ways (1) not making a big song and dance about that lesson in credible sources/testimony from modern journalism, and (2) those named books making up their bible anyway giving the distinct impression of multiple independent sources, and (3) winning arguments by default on any debate they weigh into since they teach that all outside institutions are --to a greater or lesser extent-- corrupt. Inferior. Wrong.
1 year, 10 months ago on The Trouble with Facts
Sound like your friend is approaching the Child Maltreatment question exactly the way Marti is saying one ought to approach the Climate question: "...look at a situation, weigh the information for credibility, and come to a conclusion based on the evidence presented."
Moreover, when I consider the highly emotional nature of the former question (and the latter too these days) it seems highly unlikely to me that the human animal can robotically resist "having a foregone conclusion" and "denying any information that doesn’t conform to this". Skeptics ought to heed what psychologists are telling us.
I see many examples of skeptics asserting the superiority of heroically researching and thinking for themselves, rather than merely modestly heralding the contemporary professorial opinion. A very human mistake imho. Because we're human? Or because expert opinion --say when spelled out simplistically in wikipedia-- even when scientifically shown to be highly reliable is still inherently impersonal thus difficult to trust??
1 year, 10 months ago on A Hyper-Skeptic Example – E. Calvin Beisner of Cornwall Alliance
Then there's the problem of attribution; Gillard is guessing at what Abbot is feeling (hate) and has in mind (gender) when he makes those sexist remarks she's listed and berated during her speech.
No surprise listening to his alternative narrative; what he REALLY feels he thinks is x, and what he REALLY thinks he feels is y. It really doesn't matter.
The complaint he ought to be hearing is those specific examples that Gillard has listed. It's that talk which he must defend or apologise for. Not the collective noun we've decided fits (or doesn't) that kind of behaviour.
1 year, 10 months ago on The New Misogyny
@Steve Barry "Who is harmed by such statements or mockery? Certainly not the religious except in their own heads."
I'm not sure that argument works because if I am harmed then that discomfort is quite literally "only" in my own head. Communications that harm (blasphemies) cannot be harmful in any other way than subjectively**.
A more charitable for of the argument seems to be; ought a democratic State be permitting its blasphemers to intentionally hurt other citizen's feelings?
Here I think @KingsleyAimless KingsleyAimless offers a sensible approach: "Give religions exactly the same legal protections from criticism, mockery and ridicule that are given to political parties."
The minute we decide that pious groups ought have more legal protections than irreligious groups is the moment the UN starts singing from the hymn book of monotheism.
(**Though one might philosophise; if a prophet is drawn in a forest where nobody can see it then it in fact makes a blasphemous sound to some all-seeing-ear)
1 year, 10 months ago on Anti Blasphemy Laws – Pakistan, Greece and Australia
We might expect UN legislation (or local laws) to deter violence against blasphemers except any would-be offender is raging AGAINST the machine.
*creator (not greater, lol)
1 year, 10 months ago on Expanding the Definition of Humanism – My Guest Post at Maria Bangs’ Blog
"<i>...needs that need to be met if we are to meet a minimum standard of well-being in our lives</i>"
I suspect those feeling so very uncomfortable with humanism --the idea, the language of that worldview, the social movement, the self-described humanist-- are quite literally NOT "seeing" its internal definition. (Similarly for atheism btw, though not identically)
As in; the pious literally have a different concept in mind than Martin does.
That is, whatever is seen as explicitly human is seen as inferior to the monotheism they have in mind. Because that monotheism insists their spirituality (god) *causes* human morality (goodness).
I note that arguing over whether our universe had a greater *is* arguing over the nature of living humans. Not merely a squabble about whether that particular historical event was in fact a genuine miracle.
@ZachsMind Very compelling.
"They were not magically given this information by an omniscient deity cuz an omniscient deity would not have used ignorant goat herders thousands of years ago to make his case."
To the layman I think the odds of deism --if they've ever learnt about it-- must sound exceedingly similar to the odds of a creator that performed subsequent historical miracles. That is, involving prophets, surviving texts & moralizing institutions (imbued with good teachings, as monotheism keeps insisting on).
The "good" teaching of their Genesis 1:1-3 fiction seems to be that biblical miracles are --even if unbelievable and incredible-- strictly historical.
From there it's hardly a stretch to imagine that miracle-maker character --even if 14.6B years old-- to be still around and inspiring a few famous historical figures, essentially yesterday.
1 year, 10 months ago on Yes, Another Post About Atheism
@AlbertJ It's of no consequence whether you can comprehend of a grey area between your 2 options, the godless don't buy your false dilemma. To us our lives have as much purpose and meaning as yours.
Nothing you're saying is tempting folks here to think any differently. Certainly your superior coherence and logic isn't able to convince us that our lives are inferior to yours. Even if we're mistaken about some historical facts about this world and its smart apes.
Increasingly I'm seeing the language we've inherited to argue over morality and value judgments (the good vs evil paradigm, for example) is as antiquated and wrongheaded and misleading as the rest of monotheism's teachings about history, the natural world, and our unique place in it.
The way we've learned to rationalize about historical moral dilemmas (implying two alternatives, therefore "sides") seems a decidedly black-and-white narrative for our adult minds to be internalizing as we face this overwhelmingly grayish 21st century.
It seems we smart primates *do* have a unique approach to ethics --at least kind of, by trying to outdo our ancestors-- despite this increasingly blurry line we're discovering between humans and non-humans. Although all that uniqueness is turning out only to extend as far as the uniqueness of our brains.
1 year, 11 months ago on Better Angels, Worse Demons – My Guest Post at Al Stefanelli’s Blog
AlbertJ, might as well try to persuade us that no typo exists in your comment. Because any TRUE typo therein would result in whatever those sentences might mean in fact being nonsensical TO ITS AUTHOR.
1 year, 11 months ago on Yes, Another Post About Atheism
Commenters here demonstrating that they cannot let what they read about godlessness (from the godless horse's godless mouth) replace their treasured imaginings about the subject they're being schooled on.
The biggest hurdle of the atheist communicator is that definition. The definition that the unconvinced are hoping against hope is intellectually incomprehensible. Or internally inconsistent. Or doesn't fit with the scientific/unscientific evidence. Or at the very least sounds more unbelievable than the fictions about god and goodness that they currently have in mind.
When does violent rhetoric like "behead these people" become hate speech?
(from wikipedia) In 1989, ...New South Wales became the first state to make it unlawful for a person, by a public act, to incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of a person or group on the grounds of race ...An offence has not yet been prosecuted under this law.
Oh "race". I see. Well that doesn't help Sydney-siders.
Now check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech_laws_in_Australia#Victoria
(from wikipedia) A person must not, on the ground of the religious belief or activity of another person or class of persons, engage in conduct that incites hatred against, serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of, that other person or class of persons.
"Class of persons" ahh excellent!? Except for there's an exception in Section 11(b) (i) of the Act granted for "genuine religious purpose".
D'Oh. Foiled again. So violent salafi jihadists go resume your rhetoric. I mean free speech.
1 year, 11 months ago on There’s no Intolerance like Tolerance of Intolerance
@mariaRB You got it.
Believers are merely mistaken.
Leaders of groups whose rhetoric systematically teaches us we needn't extend our love to neighbours who're mistaken --to the point of inciting violence, inequality and harm-- are no longer ethically permissible.
Liberals insist such institutions move on from their divisive past.
1 year, 11 months ago on What’s the Harm in Religion?
@murraybiscuit Beat me to it.
"the misogynistic attitudes toward women for the last 2000 plus years" is responsible for much of "this small piece of the bible"
I agree it's a self-perpetuating. And if the text wasn't so strictly frozen in time, we'd likely be better off.
1 year, 11 months ago on Eve, Pandora, and the Afterthought Woman