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Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Dr. Joseph E. Lowery’s Benediction Transcript @ President Obama’s Inauguration

Can there be any question of the power of words?

Can there be any mystery why the sophisticated symbolism of words binds people to…

  • Others
  • Ideals
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Dogma
  • Superstition
  • Loss
  • Hope?

This learned set of symbols… these words… in whatever language they form… are powerful. Words have a value that connects people reading and hearing them as well as separates those not understanding those words.

Based on past histories and current contexts words rouse unforgettable warmth or irreconcilable anger which, in term, become learned by those experiencing them and watching others experience them. It is a reciprocal relationship; words represent traditions and traditions represent words (as we witnessed with the second swearing in of President Obama). When repeated over and over words morph oh so slowly while becoming ingrained in the fabric of civilization. Traditions, including those of religion, bigotry, superstition, inaugurations and funerals are indelible links between people all represented by words.

Sam Harris in “The End of Faith,” has many logical points concerning traditions, superstition and cultures as do so many others including this author. However, at one time or another we all miss another point that gets lost in emotional [ratio strain] self-righteousness; being right is a relative target and is not what everyone values. One thing for sure is that we all value some words organized in some order representing some experiences.

The changes Sam Harris and others search for will come only through a process of selection by consequences. The things that will replace bigotry and fear and traditions of hate must be learned just as the superstitions and belief systems they were based on were learned. If that is the case, and it most assuredly is, Sam and some of the others will not be here to celebrate a new form of enlightenment where understanding the elemental basis of how behavior works is a primary requirement of primary school graduation.

While we work for all those words describing the elements of understanding behavior in our culture we can appreciate Dr. Lowery’s words for what they represent: a plea to figure out what the heck is going on out there.

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The CNN article “Charting the psychology of evil, decades after ‘shock’ experiment” ought to be retitled “Charting the psychology of web reading on a Dull Friday

Stanley Milgram’s research was remarkable and valuable. It has been replicated. It has been quoted and interpreted to ad nausium. Now in an effort to sell copy during the hiatus between presidents some genius has resurrected it and given it a fancy name with “evil” in the title. Now it has a zillion hits and is replete with “coulds” shoulds” oughts, may, and other conditional phrases that allow the reader to be led down a path to a possible chance-finding of a new version of a car crash.

Words are powerful. It is a sign of Dumbness when people hoping to land on an island of absoluteness grasp on to anything that is presented as binary:

Good vs. evil

right vs. wrong

Chevy vs. Ford

normal vs. abnormal

Democrat vs. Republican

Worker vs. management

Muslim vs. Christian                                                           

etc. vs. etc

It’s here again. We use the research rather than this sadly disturbed illiterate interpretation to keep authority figures off alter boys, teachers off cheerleaders, bosses off new-hires and rent-a-dicks away from ‘civilian combatants’ in detainment.

But, because we have the 1890 concept of behavior as being based on religion, traditions, and good and evil, all these perverts continue to exist aided by the writers who need to finish off the month with a dippy article in order to look like they know how to read.

All this has to do with implied and explicit rules and a false sense of personal and divine responsibility that has been part of the teachings in schools and churches and synagogues for 400 years at least.

Pay attention to the consequences to understand behavior. Pay attention to the rules that the “other” person is working under to understand behavior. Pay attention to the knowledge that you have millions of rules you don’t know about and those rules are not likely the same as anyone else’s rules – at the moment they are your rules. Pay attention that the different rules you attend to on Monday don’t exist on Sunday.

When reading about “What the heck is going on out in the world? – consider that some grad students or volunteers got paid to be in an experiment 29 years ago. They wanted to do it right in front of all the PhDs and they wanted the money and they wanted to show they were smart and on and on.    Hundreds of rules were working including doing what you were told that our parents locked down early on.

When you define things arbitrarily – the things like evil, good, honest, hero, sinner, saint, patriot, freedom fighter, and all the other meta-terms keep their fuzziness so that you read what you bring to the article. (By the way, that is another experiment to read up on….) While having specific and empirical definitions is not going to happen, using your noggin for something more than a baseball cap rack can’t be beat.

As they say on ESPN’s NFL Countdown… “C-mon Man!

This site and this author will contribute by provided one of the many versions of “BALONEY DETECTION COLLECTION”… stay tuned…it’s coming to you and, as always, it is FREE…

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Playboy and the Virgin Mary?

Playboy and the Virgin Mary?

CNN and others have reported on the “offense” generated by the Mexican edition of Playboy.

Sanchez: We do. It’s right here. This is from the publisher of the magazine, Raul Sayrols. He says, “The image is not and never was intended to portray the Virgin of Guadalupe,” — which is the Virgin Mary — “The intent was to portray a renaissance-like mood on the cover.” Interesting. Let me bring in somebody for whom this hits home. He’s one of the best known priests in the United States. His name is Father Cutie. I worked with him in Miami many times, has his own show — actually he’s got his own book out now. It’s called “Real Life, Real Love.” Bestseller, by the way. Father, are we as Catholics just too sensitive when it comes to this kind — after all, it’s a beautiful woman being shown to represent what is, in our minds, to all of us, a beautiful woman.

Father Albert Cutie: Listen, there’s no doubt that she’s a beautiful woman. But a stained-glass window and the veil that looks like that, certainly there’s a reference to Mary. Whoever tells you there isn’t is simply being hypocritical or not very honest. And that’s what I don’t like about the statement from Playboy magazine. I think that they timed it not only with the Virgin of Guadalupe, as Glenda was saying, but also with the month of December. How many nativity scenes are out there this time of the year? How many times is Mary a central figure in this whole celebration? And this is offensive. This is very offensive. It’s blasphemous.

Puhlease.

You read in this interview about all sorts of intentions and indications and meanings.  Folks, gimme a break.  Of course this sells magazines.  Of course this is “offensive”.

Really, though,  We’re asking Playboy to apologize for this and not other images?

What really are we objecting to?

What’s offensive?

And why this depection versus the Ivy League’s Hottest or heffner’s twins.

Or why isn’t the continued struggles (for various sexual issues) of the Catholic church constantly objected to?

These are rhetorical questions of course.

The Catholic image does more to sell sex than any other image, certainly online.  Think Britney Spears.

Sometimes when you reinforce something as a punishment (sex is bad) so long it becomes an reinforcer for other things (attention for breaking protocol).   The more you issue the punishment the more you reinforce the other behavior.

Sometimes the best approach is no reinforcement at all.

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Kathleen Parker: The abortion gospel according to Pelosi is just wrong

http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080828/OPINION/808280310/

…and various newspapers around the country on 8/29/08

So there are several questions to be considered and answered, if possible, initiated by your swirl around issues of abortion, law and woman’s rights, not the least of which is free speech. Consideration of these type questions will hopefully allow some level of resolution, if not provide relief from the passionate but bullying finality you express in this referenced piece that has come to be the hallmark of the sound-bite society.

For starters, your writing behavior is an example that one can’t separate religious views from science and news interpretation – alluding to ‘science and religion in agreement’ comment at the end of your article. That is very myopic statement in that you appear to be referring to Catholicism and not Jainism or Shinto or Mormonism as ‘religion’.

There is no such thing as the instant when life begins. There is no immaculate spark or divine initiation. Fertilization takes hours and is the product of two or more living cells, and, like any cellular division, it is not created in any sense other than a religious sense of the term.

Human development begins with the process of the zygote, which is a single cell like the brain is a single organ. However, if there is no nidation and the fertilized cell is sloughed off, it is as if the conception and fertilization never occurred.

Brought to light that the fertilized entity represents never-to-be realized potential, would there be some nuts out there that want to bury menstrual products in some deification of lost human potential? Is the fertilized cell prayed for or is the women singled out as the guilty party due to lack of nidation? Is this type loss of potential members to the faith one of the reasons that some religions scorn women and treat them as secondary communicants?

How does the Catholic church reflect on this by-product of unrequited union? Menstrual products can’t be glorified (given the last rights because it wasn’t a cognizant being or baptized) because without some blood analysis, one can’t determine if it carried a fertilized cell or not.

New additions to your literary skills are duly noted in your review of the cogent legal issue references of Roe v. Wade as the rule of the land. You write as if people including Justice Blackmun conspired in some way to make you and your dogma look bad. I posit that what the justices saw and acknowledged was a convergence of difficult issues due to the lack of monocausality. You had no such inhibition and that appears to be a great comfort to you. However, your general foggy understanding of law, constitutional prevalence and neuroendocrinology based on two books you obviously didn’t read does stand out.

Heaven forbid (like that phrase?) that Pelosi has a right to speak her views as she did, while you, stand tall as a writer and courier of social banality, state rightness and wrongness while discounting her right to do what you are doing.

Please rise above absolutists and do some reflection before you write about non-dogmatic material. I have no problem with how you came to have your beliefs. I am contemptuous of pretenders to the thrown who pawn their beliefs off on others as substantiated facts.

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One of my great friends and confidants has pointed out, in a non-chiding way, that one of my favorite authors, Ben Stein, has been doing and saying some disturbing and annoying things lately. This phase of his career started to get weird with the movie he produced and starred in called “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.”

Six Things in Expelled That Ben Stein Doesn’t Want You to Know …

Apr 16, 2008 In the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, narrator Ben Stein poses as a “rebel” willing to stand up to the scientific establishment in
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=six-things-benstein-doesnt-want-you-to-know – 159k – CachedSimilar pages

The Big Picture | Farewell To Ben Stein

Let us not forget that Ben Stein thinks that Nixon could have won the Vietnam War, and defeated the Kamar Rouge, but not for the dastardly deeds of Woodward
bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2008/01/farewell-to-ben.html – 181k – CachedSimilar pages

Well, the movie was panned. It is not at all good or entertaining, or informative. But now his reinforcers come increasingly from Fox faculty and from those who have a lot to lose if things continue to move in several different directions…. In education, government, free speech, the courts, the reduction of the imperial presidency, science, etc.

He has some points of fairness but some of the reviews in Scientific America were scathing. He benefits by being on the shows of bull dogs ‘cause he is a known entity. But where is it going? He can’t be looking for another TV gig, can he??!! He has some agenda. Stay tuned…

The people that he, BS, pushes in academia have some good and some mediocre value to science… but, in a peer review based community they don’t do well at all so they don’t get the tenure tracks, the research $$, etc. The free speech argument is impotent if no one is listening! It’s like it was for the black panthers: People hear it but don’t listen twice… even if it was true.

Say that 5 or 15 scientist have a point…well, it is chalkboard science rather than electromicrosopy level stuff so the shock jocks are the only ones that BS gets to visit because a guest lecturer series at MIT would or U. of Kazakhstan would not be entertained. His movie assures that!

Free speech per se is not part of academic freedom any more than racial epitaphs are part of the schick in a comedy club. The guy that posed that World Trade center focus on 9/11 was retaliation for 120 years of subjugation and abuse in the Middle East by Westerners, from the U. of Colorado was bounced. Nothing to do with data… just research grants and academic respect.

It may be more about BS then the profs that question evolution. Like Darwin work churned for 150 years to get traction, these belly-ache-ers are being used by BS and will have to fight to make their point. A media blitz works against it, so… what’s his agenda? Stay tuned!…..

They know what they are doing in academia. BS knows what he is doing in media mud. Both are faced with an uphill climb and a) getting someone in science in some country that doesn’t recognize voodoo to bridge their work to what we know about that is basic to chemistry, anatomy, paleontology, etc. that is more powerful than man and money having 99.997% of the same DNA… and b) getting BS to account for his loopiness or give him a show on conspiracy theories in the vein of John Stossel on 20/20 on ABC.

I can just see it now… he gets on TV with a hard-hitting conspiracy angle… and starts in on ‘morality of stem cell research’, intelligent design, elder care and extension of life and then ‘Self termination criteria you can live with’ and the ratings go over the top…. New reality based TV… a series: CSI – Geriatrics, or “Make a Wish in Area 51” and… oh, the horror…..Oh, Ben… Don’t be that way…

Don’t ask… No, I didn’t see the movie. I also didn’t see “Ol Yeller.” I am as good at ‘suspending disbelief’ as the next guy but I didn’t need the practice that bad.

However, I was heavy into what was going on with him and the scientists.

http://www.expelledexposed.com/index.php/the-truth/hitler-eugenics

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We all know that if you want to get your point across you need to begin teaching it early and with much fanfare and pomp. Families use holidays and traditions to cement the family unit and the values they collectively hold every time there is a birthday party, birth, wedding or death. Clearly getting to the youth early makes them become part of the unit early and potentially moves to maintain them in the fold for as long as possible.

 

It is not surprising then that the Catholic Pope Benedict XVI moved to get to the important stuff at the World Youth Day this week in Australia. I’ve been to one before and they are something to behold! Clearly the faithful and searching youth need to know what’s most important in their life. What great timing. He gets to tell the gathering eager searchers how to make the world a better place.

 

Worldwide AIDS/HIV fight…? No…

Condemnation of sexual abuse by priests…? No…

End to war..? No..

End of 43 years of impotence on genocide in Europe or Africa? No..

Return of art from the masses taken for “safe keeping”…? No…

Lead a simple life…? No…

Support of sex education in poor nations…? No…

 

The Pope attacked moral relativism! Right! The Pope made it clear what the enemy was and attacked – again – the idea that there are no absolute truths.

 

Nothing infuriates the Catholic Church and some less voracious church fathers as much as relativism (the denial of absolute truth which they, not surprisingly, are in charge of) that leads to moral relativism that leads to – according to their thinking – preventing ‘human minds’ from the ability to arrive at truth. For Catholics, denial of an absolute reference denies God.

 

But wait, there’s more. Some have referred to the subject matter as the “dictatorship of relativism” (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger). In this sense, any thinking is to be done, any evaluation, they will do it.

 

“Relativism… …has made ‘experience’ all-important. Yet experiences, detached from any consideration of what is good or true, can lead not to genuine freedom, but to moral or intellectual confusion, to a lowering of standards…”

 

Those would be the standards we’ve seen in the news for the last 20+ years (for actions of 60+ years) and that resulted in 3 excommunications out of the 244 priests that have been dismissed for inappropriate actions. Nineteen have served jail time. Oh, those absolute truths…!

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Boy, has that a lot of meanings….

But consider this version of ‘cosmos’…

 

According to Lawrence Krauss of NEWScientist magazine, David Brook wrote in The New York Times in May that

 

“…while we moderns see space as a black, cold, mostly empty vastness, with planets and stars propelled by gravitational and other forces, Europeans in the Middle Ages saw a more intimate and magical place. The heavens, to them, were a ceiling of moving spheres, rippling with signs and symbols, and moved by the love of God… The modern view disenchants the universe and tends to make it ‘all fact and no meaning’.” 

 

YIKES!  This is a world-view a 5 year-old would not embrace.

 

Brooks’s article reflects a popular view of science and technology shared the world over.  For too many and for too long, the complexity and majesty of the inner workings of the universe, a cell phone  or a blender – robs some of the ghostliness and the mercurial wonder fulfilled by myth, superstition and religion.  

Only the hopelessly lost and the cynical would suggest that medieval banter, hallucinations, and fantasy are of greater value to man today and our future than the actual workings of the universe.

This romanticized fantasy and yearning for the “good ‘ol days” is more frequent and pervasive in times of great change and upheaval when all the absolutes are evaporating in a short course of accelerated science. 

On the opposite end, the spiritual and mythical universe is anchored among our fundamentalist religious myths, along with virgin births, booga-booga incantations and other intellectually lazy creations of simple minds where answers must be keep equally simple rather than accurate or non-existent.  Brooks’s column referenced Barack Obama’s much-maligned statement that – some people turn to religion and guns for refuge from the inequities that abound.   From the response, Obama must have struck a note that many people would rather not hear.

Science is not necessarily a comfortable place to hang out.  It certainly is not for everyone.  For those that do hang out in the library, lab, or field explorations, it is laughable to have naysayers poo-poo science while they are clogging their brain arteries with cholesterol, The Simpson’s and Brittany Spears.  When it comes to an emergency cure for clogged arteries, some neurosurgeon with 25 years of science philosophy, practice, and imagination will be paged to save his life.  There is no current cure for The Simpson’s and Brittany Spears brain clogged arteries.

A lot has happened since the discovery of the new world.  Sailors from those ancient times mentioned above learned that the constellations in the sky were a ‘tool’ to navigate and an aid to their survival.  Many could only wonder if the same star constellations existed in the other hemispheres around the globe.  The light from the stars of other galaxies takes billions of years to reach us.  Those sailors saw light that is ceased to glow since then.  It seems that surely expands the imagination more than incense, fables and war-lording that’s provoked by religions feuding over who are the ‘delivered’ people.

The skies are not inhabited by mythical beasts, nymphs or fairies.  But, yes, their may be life out there or a version of it that some of us can agree on. 

Worldwide superstition is based on fear and lack of understanding of the relationships between entities in the universe.   Until we learn to separate mythical thinking from a knowledge base developed empirically, we’ll continue to invent alternative realities to justify whatever is the current superstition.  Thus, for now it is important that we get an accelerated perspective on what is imaginary and what is real.

Why does it matter if people cling to myths for solace from the confusion?  

It matters because real-world problems such as hate, hunger, disease, genocide, and climate change can only be solved by real-world thinking. That will require that people get uncomfortable.  Our “raison d’être” is survival. Nature doesn’t exist to serve humanity. It is ruthless.  It knows nothing about accounting or retirement or children in religious sects.  While it is hard today to abandon silliness, it will become even harder when consequences of superstition are racking every thing on earth – especially when our own survival is at stake. 

Recounting myths and calling it ‘tradition’ does the world a disservice.  Myths put humans at the center of everything.  That is a big error.  Be suspicious of those that promote human based logic. By acquiescing to some ‘harmless’ superstitious practices the weary and confused are distracted from selections about the future that even doom their wishful thinking that is the staple of supernatural thought.  

None of this is easy so lets get started right away.

~~~~~~

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