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    Thursday
    Nov252010

    Merry Christmas! Today is Thanksgiving!

    http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com/2010/11/night-before-war-on-christmas.html

     

    The Night Before (The War On) Christmas


    ‘Twas the night before Christmas; the Christians all hunkered
    In basements of buildings they’d armored and bunkered.
    They huddled in silence; they huddled in fear,
    With thoughts that the atheists soon would draw near

    The War Against Christmas had started on Fox—
    Just a couple of fools on the idiot-box
    Who were looking for noise to give ratings a boost—
    But lately, those chickens have come home to roost:

    Believers are frightened; they’re panicked; they’re scared,
    And not one among them will go unprepared;
    They’ve heard that the atheists roam, Christmas night,
    So Christians stay hidden, and safe out of sight.

    It’s serious business, the whole Christmas season,
    When people of faith fend off people of reason—
    At least, that’s the story you hear on TV,
    So the basement’s the place meant for children to be

    There’ll be no “Silent Night”, or “Away in the Manger”
    The godless might hear it! Consider the danger!
    And then, they’d attack—Why, they’ve done it for years,
    With that vile “Season’s Greetings!” invading the ears!

    “Happy Holidays!” may seem inclusive and nice,
    But it just isn’t Christmas, unless it’s got Christ;
    Those words are no less than a form of assault!
    So it’s war (and it’s clearly the atheists’ fault!)

    (Plus, it’s unpatriotic, and now it’s high time
    We made non-Christian greetings a federal crime!
    The clear, true intent of our great founding fathers—
    Which someone should check, although nobody bothers)

    The elders remember an earlier time,
    When a bottle of Coke only cost you a dime,
    Each Christmas the snowfall was brilliant and white
    And there wasn’t an atheist heathen in sight!

    Folks visited neighbors; they caroled with friends;
    They hand-crafted gifts out of old odds and ends;
    They knew that the joys of the season would last…
    But now, such delights are a thing of the past.

    There are rifles to oil; there is ammo to check;
    There’s a radio, straining to tune in Glen Beck;
    No time to sing carols, or even say prayers, 
    With the danger that some may be caught unawares!

    A war—manufactured, but war nonetheless—
    Could kill hundreds, or thousands, it’s anyone’s guess;
    They’re under attack, and that is the reason
    They’re locked and they’re loaded, the whole Christmas season!

    ***

    The atheists, meanwhile, are feasting and singing;
    Our stockings are hung and our sleigh-bells are ringing—
    Though Jesus had nothing to do with a sleigh,
    We’re all unbelievers, and so it’s ok!

    With holly, and eggnog, and mistletoe kisses,
    We’ll watch “It’s a wonderful life” (just like this is)
    With family and friends—with the people who love us—
    With no one beneath us, nor no one above us

    We’ll celebrate all the things Christmas is for,
    Like giving, and loving, not hatred or war
    And we’ll say to the world (cos we’ve got every right):
    Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
    Sunday
    Nov142010

    Thomas Jefferson

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson_and_religion

    Jefferson, however, did not shrink from questioning the existence of God. In a 1787 letter to his nephew and ward, Peter Carr, while at school, Jefferson offered the following advice:

    Fix Reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason than of blindfolded fear. … Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it end in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise and in the love of others which it will procure for you. — (Jefferson’s Works, Vol. ii., p. 217)[25]


    Tuesday
    Nov092010

    Can Science Shape Human Values? And Should It?

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=131099083

    Dr. HARRIS: I think well, first of all, there is an amazing diversity of opinion of just how we should cash out our talk of right and wrong, and good and evil. And it’s quite remarkable how difficult it can be to get people to concede that human flourishing, and the flourishing of conscious creatures, generally is what we should what should concern us.

    But the moment you admit that much, the moment you admit that a real conversation about morality relates to human well-being - to take our case specifically - then most of moral talk that defines our public policy immediately begins to fall by the wayside.

    I mean, the Catholic Church is more concerned about preventing contraception than about preventing the rape of children. It’s more concerned about preventing gay marriage than genocide.

    Now these this is if you’re concerned about human flourishing, this is clearly an inversion of priorities, to put it most charitably, and so the framework being offered here is not an alternate moral framework we have to take seriously.

    This is a framework we can ignore in the same way we could ignore the Catholic Church if they were talking about physics and saying things like, well, we’re interested in the physics of the transubstantiation - or the physics that allows the Holy Ghost to be here and there and everywhere at once.

    There’s not a physicist alive who would be forced to take those utterances seriously, and yet when we talk about morality, it seems that everyone’s opinion has to count equally. But everyone’s opinion is not actually constrained at this moment by an intelligent, or even intelligible, concern for human flourishing. And I think the moment we grant that human flourishing is the point, our moral discourse would change remarkably.

    Monday
    Nov082010

    Monday
    Nov082010

    Makes my brain hurt, but worth reading.

    http://richarddawkins.net/articles/529232-god-s-soft-white-underbelly

    Oh good the link works.

    It perplexes me that this argument has existed since 270BCE, yet the delusion persists.

     

     

    Monday
    Nov082010

    The Experiment

    Observation: Children do not come equipped with the idea of god, nor indeed civilized behavior.

    Hypothesis: Concept of god not necessary for preschool age child to begin integration into her society.

    Subject: Kirin

    Flawed Design Model: Subject has not been exposed to any known significant religious instruction by parents. Accidental contamination possible through daily secular contact with other children or daycare staff. Subject has met all milestones of physical and mental development appropriate for her age. Subject demonstrates social behavior desired by her society such as kindness, empathy, cooperation and following rules. These behaviors confirmed by observation by grandparents without parents presence.

    Provisional Conclusion: Preschool children develop appropriate social behaviors without early religious instruction.

    Sunday
    Oct312010

    The God Delusion

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_God_Delusion

    Chapter 9 Childhood, Abuse and the Escape from Religion

    I can attest that three year olds don’t come with religion. In fact, they don’t come with civilization. It is a parents responsibility to teach and lead by example as best they can.

    I clearly remember being an atheist at the age of 8 years old. I was raised pretty much free of religion. I don’t recall ever going to church until high school. My only exposure to religion prior to Catholic High School was the secular celebrations of Christmas and Easter. Possibly I went to church once or twice with my Catholic grandparents, but I can’t really be sure.¬†

    There are so many things children need to learn in this society. All those basic skills of eating, dressing, living together and everything else in Kindergarten. How does a religious education at this age benefit a pre-schooler? We read quite a few stories with morals and lessons. Thus far, I have avoided traditional children’s bible stories. I don’t see how Noah’s Ark will benefit a child who is unaware of this God character. Besides, what does it teach that she needs? God (Who’s that?) will punish you and then reward you for various strange behaviors? How did Noah get all those animals on a boat anyway?

    Marty believes the children should be exposed to these ideas. To that end, she brought over Mark’s old book of children’s stories and his bible. However, as far as I know, Kirin has no concept of God and has never asked about it. ¬†Considering she asks about everything else (including car fairies), I would expect her to ask if she wanted to know. So I don’t know what effect these stories would have on her.

    I think allowing her to stay in a state of original ignorance for as long as possible is best. I hope this will prevent the idea from deeply taking root when she does encounter it.

    Thursday
    Oct282010

    The Plan

    The plan is to ruminate and cogitate upon some of the things I have been reading lately. I have started writing in my paper journal as time and ideas permit. I intend to edit and upload it here. The paper version may be more convenient. However, quite a lot of the things I wish to ponder can be found on the internet and linking to other articles is just too useful to ignore.  Hopefully, dumping some of these ideas onto ‘paper’ will stop them from rattling around in my sleep deprived mind at 4 am.

    Again, the plan was to begin with some thoughts on the introductory quotation in Victor Stenger’s The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason. I do plan to do that in the near future. Instead, this morning when I sat down with pen and paper (!) I started at the beginning. The first page concerns childhood, mine and my children’s. That shall be the first real post I think. It may require referencing Dawkin’s chapter in The God Delusion regarding the indoctrination of children into religion.The more practical need to determine the proper way to raise children may take precedence over the simple intellectual pleasure of philosophizing.  On to Plan B.  

    I shall continue to write on paper over the next few days and then post a more coherent version of my thoughts about childhood.  We shall see what develops.