ONLY good without god/s: why if you are a believer you are terribly immoral.

I’ll keep this one very short.

You are watching a terrible scene – someone is torturing an innocent little child (I know, I know, it’s a terrible cliché alongside with being a terrible scene, but bear with me) for absolutely no reason at all – simply for their own ‘fun’. There is another person watching that scene, not taking part in it but cheering loudly and gleefully for it to go on. If you are a normal, not mentally ill, morally sound human being, seeing such torture scene will make you sick to your core. Hopefully, you would do anything in your power to stop what is going on. You would also likely label the one doing torturing a string of unfavorable epithets including ‘monster’ and demand justice be served through administering appropriate punishment to the perpetrator. Very similar sentiments would apply to the ‘cheerleader’ on the side.

Would it be fair to assume that, if it is a given that the victim is innocent and the torture took place only for the fun of the perpetrator and the ‘cheerleader’, there cannot possibly be any justification for such a horrendous thing to occur? Again, if you are a normal, morally sound human being, everything in your nature will scream “but OF COURSE there can’t be ANY damned thing to EVER justify something terrible like this, DUH!” Would it also be safe to assume that you would readily label anyone who disagrees with that sentiment and anyone who would as much as dare to open their mouth to try and come up with some excuse for such behavior an immoral monster? And again, if you are a morally sound, sane individual – you would.

Voila.

For those who fail to draw the analogy: you have, in the image of any god/s, the ultimate perpetrator/s (by the virtue of creating everything the way it is) of every single vile thing and act and process in the universe – the ultimate monster/s most deserving of hell, if one existed. You have, in the role of gleeful cheerleader, any given believer and/or worshiper of such a monster (and, weirdly, also the same god/s, as it/they are watching terrible things it/they caused unfold without intervention).

If YOU are a believer, you ARE IMMORAL to a cosmic proportion by the virtue of rooting for any god/s. It is ONLY possible to be a fully moral person when any degree of reverence, obedience or worship for your god/s is eradicated completely. You can still play with an idea of existence of god/s all you want. However, for as long as you have any respect, regard or desire to listen to, follow or praise any architect of the universe – for all that time a huge part of you will remain grossly immoral by definition and there will be blood and pain of all of the dead and suffering creatures on this planet partially on your hands. Because you will have to be engaged in justifying the endless list of everything that is ultimately wrong, absolutely immoral and utterly unjustifiable. Think about it.

Happy cheerleading.

Posted in Controversial, Matters of faith | 2 Comments

God deserves to burn in hell

There is no god. But let’s think for a second about a scenario where there would have been an architect of the universe of some sorts, whether a magical god of any type, or simply a higher form of physical intelligence. Thus, for the sake of the argument in this post, let’s presume some form of a higher power exists. Would it be warranted to try to please and praise and listen to such a being? The short answer is no way. The longer argument is as follows:

Any maker of our universe could either completely not give a damn about it, in which case it is fully irrelevant, or have some vested interest in stuff that’s going on inside it. According to many people, the ‘interested’ higher power is exactly what there is. And insofar as it is interested (although it’s a bit difficult to conceive of the highest form of intelligence in the universe that would give a damn about what some amoebae that we are compared to it may be doing or saying…), people go out of their ways to try to second-guess what may please such a being and tickle its vanity…  Why all this is absurd in and of itself is covered in my other post “Nothing Personal“, so let’s move on to the current subject at hand, which is the following: even IF there had been a higher power, it is unworthy of regard, let alone obedience and praise.

ANY ‘interested’ or capable of empathy higher power (magic or not) who would have made such a universe as ours is a psychopathic sadist. That is ANY architect of the cosmos, even if it’s aliens. Most people’s version of a god is claimed to be ‘loving’ or ‘caring’. Any of their gods ‘loves’ everyone SO friggin’ much that it couldn’t conceive of creating any other type of universe for its ‘dearly beloved’ than the most inhospitable, cruel and difficult one to exist in. As a special token of boundless adoration, it made sure that the vast majority of life forms, including sentient apes called ‘humans’, who’d ever exist and would be self-aware enough to experience suffering definitively WOULD suffer. Most of them for absolutely no wrongdoings of their own and in manners that would serve absolutely zero purpose. For example, there are babies who are born with a genetic disorder that causes the butterfly wings syndrome: they lack proteins that bind different layers of skin. As a result, any touch to them causes blisters and bleeding – even ingesting food is torture. They suffer excruciating pain every minute of their lives and die quickly. Examples like this one are countless.

In addition, in many versions of an architect of the universe there exists some sort of a cozy retreat that is also designed by such an architect called ‘hell’. People suffer there eternally as a ‘punishment’ for limited in time and scope (and mostly profoundly mundane) ‘transgressions’. It’s a bit difficult to conceive of such a collection of wrongdoings, no matter how violent and cruel and numerous, that would warrant any form of an eternal retribution… In fact, it is impossible – that is, if you are a sane, moral human being. But I digress…

So here’s that higher power who decided upon creating that model of the universe where such stuff happens routinely… It’s created the universe, and now is watching all the horrible things happen and (if you believe in that) poor punished ones writhe in eternal agony in hell, maybe even feeling sad about it but doing fuck all to change the situation. In psychology it’s classified as sadism and psychopathy. In the framework of any type of a belief, it is classified as ‘benevolence’ and ‘working in mysterious ways’ and ‘non-interference with ‘free will”…

Neither of those excuses is anything but a lame attempt to somehow justify and absolve of fault of the greatest asshole imaginable. Let’s see about benevolence: I, a ‘lower’ life form, am far better than any god can dream of being. Because in 10 minutes time I can brainstorm a far better, fairer universe than it came up with. In the words of a wise man, Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? -Epicurus. There truly is no squaring that circle, no matter how hard one tries. If even I can think of a universe that, let’s grant even, WOULD include some degree of hardship and suffering and death, but won’t include abundance of all of the above that serves no imaginable purposes of any sorts (like the mentioned butterfly wings syndrome) – why didn’t the all-powerful architect of the universe manage to create a better model?

The ‘mysterious ways’ argument is very well addressed by Jim Jefferies and needs no further mention on my behalf:

As to the (non-existent) ‘free will’ thing… It doesn’t cut it. Here is why: take person A being the perpetrator of a violent crime and person B being that crime’s victim. Person’s a ‘free will’ is to execute that violent crime on person B. However, what the ‘free will’ proponents forget about roughly 100% of the time is the person B and their free will. Incidentally, person B’s free will is NOT to be a victim of a violent crime. Now what? Now it’s a standstill between two free wills that happen to be for opposing events. How does the all-powerful entity most often resolve that issue? By rooting for person A’s free will – because violent crimes on fully innocent victims happens ALL THE FUCKING TIME. Some may wish to begin arguing that no one is without a ‘sin’, of some sorts. Even if – what about violent crimes against little babies and kids? Oh, go ahead, push it: the ‘original sin’ that every newborn is already born with. Let’s take a baby/child that hasn’t been ‘absolved’ from that ‘sin’ through baptism or what not: the MAJORITY of human babies will never be dipped into water to ‘cleanse’ them off that – that’s a pretty bad model in and of itself. But even if one assumes the equal  ‘guilty cuz of Adam and Eve’ standing: that means all unbaptized humans start off at an equal ground: Person A’s standing sin-wise is no better or worse than baby B’s standing, if they’re both unbaptized, right? Right. Then it’s irrelevant. It’s a moot point and we’re back to trying to square person’s A ‘free will’ desire to commit the violent crime against the baby B, and baby B’s ‘free will’ to stay safe from it… It just simply doesn’t add up.

So there’s that interested higher intelligence, who not only couldn’t do any better than create a rather fucked up universe like ours with rather fucked up things happening in it routinely to completely innocent victims, but for the entire duration of existence of this universe watches it all unfold… Here’s a generic example. Take a little kid getting raped. The claimed god/higher power stands by watching a little innocent kid get raped (probably jacks off to that, too) and only THEN (in some versions of god-related beliefs)  reminds there MAY be punishment (in other versions you get reborn as a cockroach or something else happens, but the main point is, retribution is for the done deed and it’s delayed in time). In many cases there doesn’t even have to be a punishment – the rapist only needs to repent or pray or follow through with some silly ritual and boom – full forgiveness and heaven. Unlike such a joke of a deity, I, were I in that position and power, would never ALLOW for something so sick, twisted, pointless and harmful as child rape to ever happen in the first place. But a higher power does. All the time…

All this is exactly the reason why it confuses me that some people insist on singing praise to a dick infinitely worse than all violent criminals and wrongdoers of all sorts in the whole history – combined. In fact, no matter how one tries to twist and tango out of the fact, the creator of the universe is, ultimately, by selecting the grounds and framework of that universe, fully responsible for every single death, misfortune, occasion of pain, grief, sorrow, for every crime and every other reprehensible act and occasion in the universe. Because the architect could create any different model of the universe – but chose to create such that contains all that bullshit. Praise and obedience is the last combo such an architect would deserve – it instead would deserve a strong kick in the nuts and a spit in the face – at best.

According to many, such an architect is eternal… An eternal power responsible for an eternal array of pain, crime and woe of all kinds… This sounds to me that, if there was an eternal hell, such an architect would, in fact, be the only creature fully deserving of an eternal vacation in that hell for all it’s done.

Posted in Controversial, Matters of faith | 17 Comments

Gods’ PR agents – why do they suck?

It’s very often the case that people on ‘team god’ (regardless of which god it happens to be) who are the most zealous, outspoken and ‘thy shalt definitely follow my god, why can’t you understand that?!?!?!’-like are also the same exact ones who happen to be grossly uninformed and misinformed about… how to put it mildly?.. reality, the rest of the world and knowledge/information in it…

One recent online chat reminded me of this trend yet again. I was conversing with a lady who denies evolution as an outright lie, while at the same time exhibiting not a single sign of knowing anything about evolution besides the word itself – a trait very common among believers… So it got me thinking about two separate issues. One issue has to deal with walking the talk, and the other issue has to deal with how piss-poor gods’ PR agencies are… Here’s to the first one:

I don’t care what reasons anyone has to dislike or to deny evolution and scientific process – all people who do that are, to a significant extent, idiots and hypocrites. Especially those from the more prosperous societies. They go around doing the lip-service of bashing the very same things that keep them ALIVE, well and prosperous, comfortable, safe and able to live, love and laugh (instead of barely surviving under continuous hardships and dangers, with no comforts, fun, human rights and with a terribly short lifespan… Although people in poor conditions are often even more pro-gods, which is simple to explain from the point of view of psychological processes, but still seems even sillier than if they were in better conditions… I mean, why praise an asshole who threw you into a torture chamber? But anyway…)…

It is as fucking stupid and hypocritical to bash evolution/science as hating food for the fact that it exists – while eating it every day in order to survive and live a long, healthy life.  Every single damned day of their lives they are shamelessly reaping benefits of all that stuff that they are losing their voices over trying to scorn and ‘disprove’ (with a rather typical for their kind level of not-having-a-freaking-clue-ness about anything they say). Never mind that the entire world lives and progresses exclusively thanks to our scientific advancements and understanding of evolutionary processes… Anyone who, for whatever reason, bashes science or evolution deserves zero respect – for those exact reasons.

You know who does deserve some respect? The Amish. And anyone else who shuns anything ‘modern’. These folks (especially the hardcore ones) say that science and all that jazz is of the devil, and they DO NOT USE most of it! Now THAT is what ‘walking the talk’ is. They disagree with something, and they avoid using its products, including medicine. It’s insane, of course: even the simplest tools that they use in their daily lives, even the most basic foods and animals – ALL of those are, in turn, a product of thousands of years of adaptations that made them suitable for eating/keeping as domestic for the specific needs. Nevertheless, at the very least they try very hard to avoid what they claim is wrong, bad and untrue. So kudos to them – however wrong they are, they match their words and deeds to the best of their abilities.

But here’s to the bigger question: why the hell most gods’ spokes people are so uninformed, misinformed, annoying, unable to answer a single question, and generally pitiable and laughable?

Imagine you have a huge multinational corporation that offers very serious services. Let’s say it’s a huge insurance company. You have local and central PR departments within your company to maintain the much needed publicity of credibility and trustworthiness – because if people won’t believe you, or if what they hear would sound strange or shady, it wouldn’t matter how excellent your services are in reality: no one would ever want to be your client. So you, as a wise top manager of that all, obviously hire the most able, well-spoken, educated and credible experts to be on your PR team. Right?

Wrong. The greatest ‘insurance company’ on earth seems to hire the most uneducated, confused, emotionally unstable, void of critical thinking village idiots 99% of the time… I don’t know what the manager’s intentions are, but it seems to be that the main requirements for the job in their PR departments are the following: ‘unable to properly articulate and, as a special bonus, spell; incapable of presenting relevant evidence to support claims; hell-bent on denying self-evident things that the whole world operates on (like evolution/scientific process, etc) while using their products daily; acting highly emotional and offended any time anyone asks questions or presents solid evidence contrary to their claims; in any case of coming across anything counter to what they think, covering ears, closing eyes and screaming ‘lalalalalalala I can’t hear what you’re saying, I don’t wanna hear it, I won’t think about it, and you’re wrong anyway!!!!’ like a five year old’. That ‘insurance company’ with such a ‘grand’ PR department is, collectively, all religious groups, institutions and beliefs.

Now, maybe I’m wrong and there is something that I’m missing in the picture, but here’s my line of reasoning: If I were god (the all-powerful entity, no less) and wished to actually have some mortals accurately convey some of my thoughts to the rest of the mortals, I’d go about it in a completely different manner. First of all, I’d make sure all the relevant literature (if any) was clear-cut, well-written, exceptionally substantiated, demonstrable and accurate in all times, not vague, not open to a million interpretations but as solid as a math book. I’d also make sure that I don’t have any idiots responsible for propagating my views – I’d instead vest that knowledge and function into the hands of well-educated, well-spoken, well-respected individuals who would be able to carefully and correctly explain all of the points. I’d also make sure none of it contradicts that pesky little thing called REALITY. Namely, the physical world, the evolutionary processes, the cosmological processes, the laws of physics and the rest of them silly little things that are, not sure how to break it down to some people, but let me try; REAL and TRUE. Only then could I be sure my message is conveyed in the best possible manner and relax.

Some people would jump in with “oh but the god leaves people free will, so the god’s information can’t be so accurate – then people would have no choice but believe it!”. Ehm… no. Majority of people may be persuaded, indeed, by a solid line of evidence and reasoning, but there will be enough people who’d do the exact same thing many believers do when it comes to stuff THEY don’t like: close their ears and eyes… There is very little in this world as well substantiated, as solidly proven and as demonstrably accurate as evolution, yet there are people out there who manage to deny it. If they have enough free will to deny evolution, I’m sure enough humans to keep hell in business would be just as capable of denying any well-presented word of any god/s. Evidence and articulation don’t impede on the ‘free will’ to be damn wrong.

Therefore, if I were god, I’d take proper care of my message and messengers and their image. Unless I do that, I’d be no worse or better than any other toothfairy of any brand because every existing deity has just the same piss-poor PR agents and same piss-poor advertisement as to why THAT deity must be believed over all of the rest. Majority of the most popular celestial ‘insurance agencies’ are so badly vested in reality they have exactly nothing to support their claims. Usually, once you take away a single fan-fiction, hear-say-at-best-based work of piss-poor written ancient mythological literature from them, they go out in a poof of smoke and mirrors.

So long as the vast majority of PR people for the vast majority of gods insist on the silly, the untrue and the inaccurate, I think it is safe to assume there is no all-knowing authority behind them and they should be listened to with the same degree of reverence and respect as a 5-year old kid telling you about the Narnia they found in the closet. It’s cute and adorable and it’s good that the kid’s imagination functions well, but it is classified as mental illness if the kid never grows out of sincerely believing in that Narnia and making life choices fully based on that belief.

Yet gods’ PR people take pride in their arrogance and ignorance – no less! Maybe their dismissive attitude towards any information offered to them that may bring them back to the actual reality from the la-la land shows one thing and one only: they are SCARED TO DEATH. They are SO frightened that the fragile, leaking at all ends model of their worldview can be shifted or destroyed when someone demands them to show how that model actually fits REALITY (and it doesn’t), that they shut off, in a thoroughly intellectually dishonest manner, ANYTHING that anyone presents them. They are so UNCERTAIN in their faith that they simply can’t bear to test it. They would rather lie – to themselves and others – than lose their la-la land of Narnia. They honestly and strongly WISH that what they thought was true, but deep inside they KNOW it’s a pile of bullshit. That’s why they meet every smallest request at assessing opposing to their view information as a threat and hide from it behind a pile of make-belief. 

IF they knew for certain, on the other hand, that what they think was true, they’d be HAPPY to thoroughly study EVERY piece of counter-argument presented to them. Because then they could easily come back with a solid set of evidence and counter-arguments, possibly gaining a few more people into their deity’s fan club along the way. But they don’t. And if even the gods’ own spokespeople are so damned uncertain about what they claim – why should any of us believe them? We shouldn’t. And many of us, thankfully, don’t.

Here is one example of how a specific brand of god people doesn’t REALLY believe what it claims to believe, well illustrated (as always) by DarkMatter2525:

I pity such PR agents. I pity how much energy, time and mental potential that could be used to truly good causes they waste on trying to convince everyone else of something they are themselves completely unconvinced of. I pity any gods, if they were to exist, who manage to have such unconvinced followers – these are bad gods, terrible in PR. To have followers like that is a DISSERVICE to any ‘word’ of any ‘god’ that they are so eager to insist upon everyone adopting. Because by denying FACTS, by throwing childish tantrums of “No, I DO have faith in Santa!!! Because I WANT to!!!” they’re making themselves and their dogmas look nothing but ridiculous.

If what they had to offer had ANY credibility, it would not need people like that, who dismiss counter-arguments without bothering to assess them and who deny reality (and thus sound, pardon me for the harsh truth, fucking stupid. By the way, anyone who has anything to say about evolution not being true is nothing but fucking stupid). What type of a stupid god would want stupid people to speak in its name? By being dismissive, willingly ignorant and willingly stupid about reality they make a laughing stock of the gods they speak for.

Plus they don’t even understand how to present a valid, solid piece of evidence for their claims to anyone because, lo and behold, they can’t tell the actual difference between a wishful-thinking based opinion (however strongly held) and actual demonstrable evidence for something, or why some things are more believable than others (exhibit A below):

Although you know what? It’s good. It’s good most religious/believing people are terribly uninformed and make a laughing stock of themselves 5 times per sentence. If they were any smarter, it would be more difficult to expose their lies. If they were more articulate and informed, it would at least make it seem more plausible that a god (granted one existed) would, indeed, have such intelligent messengers.

So here’s to all the god-fans out there: please stay ignorant. Keep refusing evolution all you wish. Ignore any facts or knowledge. Keep sounding as tragically misguided as you sound so far. It makes the job of laughing our assess off at your fairy tales so much easier. Go ahead do the terrible advertisement job for your selected celestial sadistic dictators. It is guaranteed to keep most intelligent and capable of critical thinking people as far away from it as one should stay from poison that it is. Thank you.

Posted in Controversial, Matters of faith | 1 Comment

What it is like to be a Muslim woman, and why we know what freedom is (and you may not)

in shade:

Things that stay behind the veil…

Originally posted on Between a Veil and a Dark Place: Missives of an Ex-Muslim Woman:

Part Two of ‘What it is like to be a Muslim woman’ can be found here.

A defense and rationale for the title ‘What it is like to be a Muslim woman’ can be found here.

muslimwoman

I have keys.

When I first moved to the United States eleven months ago, it took me several weeks to grasp this bit of information.

I have keys.

I have keys to my own front door and I can open this front door and walk down the street whenever I want to.

I can walk down the street without being watched through the windows and without anyone calling my parents and telling them I am roaming loose on the street.

I can walk down the street, sit down on a bench under a tree, and eat an iced cream cone. Then I can stand up and walk back home.

There will be…

View original 2,512 more words

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New Year’s Eve Message to the World 2013: Fear of Success

Hello, hello to my dear friends! I am blessed to have so many of you that every now and then I choose to write a collective message instead of personal ones because writing individually would take months :). But also because I often have one central idea or a message to share from the year before… And, great news: this year’s message is unusually short!

Events of 2012 got me thinking about fear of success… Libraries have been written on fear of failure, but sometimes I think the opposite holds us back from what we could have achieved… I myself ended up face-to-face with my probably most persistent secret phobia yet, but it wasn’t the end of the world, after all. I hope I can, now knowing my enemy by the face, battle its ass into oblivion during 2013. After all, 13 is the lucky number! AND I absolutely love snakes, too! :) :) :)

In the best traditions of previous editions, here is a quick re-cap of 2012 events from my side:

In 2012 I managed to: finally get a driving licence. I also for some reason designed a dress. I started writing 2 books – one of which you’d never know about from me ;). I finally launched the MAD DAWN Challenge project, but lost my partner and the original video footage. That threw me off my timeline for the project by a whole year…

After it all went wrong, I expected to have an uneventful year. Instead, I managed to dance and travel all over the place again, covered a lot of ‘old’ ground and added one new country to my ‘been to’ list. I went to Amsterdam Salsa-Zouk Congress;Prague International Zouk Congress (ok, I live here…); I accidentally ended up at the first Zouk Congress in Paris, after spending some homeless time in the city and roaming the Montmartre cemetery; had a lovely time in Dresden (managing two flashmobs in two countries in one day!); rode ranch horses in Podoli; closed (almost) every party at Berlin Zouk Congress; was ‘kidnapped’ from my intended relax-time into Italy by my mom, then accidentally ended up at the Moscow Zouk Congress, then proceeded directly to Holland (having not slept for almost 3 days…) for the Scheveningen Salsa and Zouk Beach Festival; had half of it all not go according to the plan in Croatia, came back thinking I’d finally manage to do some stuff in Prague but went off to Zurich instead for the 1st Swiss Zouk Festival, where I had way too much fun; after a short breather went to the Prague Samba Zouk Congress, after which I had an emergency rescue operation befall me (instead of an expected trip to Paris…), which extended into about a week of partying before during and after the Amsterdam Zouk Congress; took part in the International Zouk Flash Mob; caused a virtual riot after the 1st Dutch International Zouk Congress in Breda; then did a Prague-Moscow-Maldives (the new addition)-Colombo-Moscow-Prague stretch; a few days later went to Lloret del Mar for the Zouk and the Chocolate Factory congress, managed to actually perform there, then stayed in Barcelona and had a blast (fun stories and action pictures here/city pictures here). If 2013 ends up just as ‘uneventful’ – sign me up! Although I have other hopes and aspirations than simply floating from one location to another, which brings us back to…

…the central theme of this year’s Message to the World…

You see, back when I came up with the idea of the MAD DAWN Challenge project, it was thing one huge dream-of-my-life type of a thing. It would require a lot of work and effort, but it would be pretty much the only thing I’d love to do in life (well, besides writing a load of random stuff and taking a load of random pictures on the side…). And then everything got delayed… At first it was delayed because I was still finishing college. Then because I was dealing with some personal issues and pretty much phased out of life for several months… Then because I lost my partner and the original footage… And now… Almost two years later… Now I’m waiting for another video’s edit to re-start the whole process… But am I, really?

Sometimes I think I find excuses for not making things work more effectively than I find solutions and ways that would make them work. When it comes to other people, it’s the exact opposite, but applying any ‘wisdom’ to myself is one hell of a challenge. The worst thing about it, things I find most excuses for postponing are exactly the things I’d LOVE to be doing… I can blame it all as much as I want on circumstances, but my circumstances are, after all, nothing even close to stuff other people in the world have to go through daily – and they manage much better to toughen up and simply work through to their dreams. So where does this self-stopping come from? I first thought about the good old familiar ‘what if it doesn’t work?’ reason, but then again: if something doesn’t work, at least I would have tried and, well, worst that can happen is I’d be back to where I started – and I can’t really say my baseline existence is so dire that such a landing would be unbearable. No – I am among the fortunate few in this world who even CAN have some weird dream and can afford to give it a try, instead of fighting for daily bread and survival, and I can fail as many times as I wish to, while still landing softly. Is it that then? Is it the ‘soft landing’ that fuels this aversion to trying to fly?

Maybe. But maybe it’s worse than that. Maybe it’s actual fear, but not of failure – of success. Some laziness may be sprinkled in, of course, because success takes hard work. Still, I’m known for obsessive dedication to tasks that I either have to do or really want to do, which most often beats any laziness. But fear – fear of actually succeeding – that probably is the poison in my well…

Why? Oh, I could come up with a million cool-sounding excuses of why succeeding may be such a terrifying idea for me, but I think it boils down to the very simple, very stupid, but very persistent notion of “who am I to deserve this?”. I’m not good enough to deserve to live a dream. I haven’t done anything to deserve the fortunes I have had and still have in life (and this is absolutely true, pretty much everything I ever had in life was obtained by sweat and blood of my parents, not mine), who am I to want even more? All that self-depreciating type of nonsense that is, despite its silliness, surprisingly persistent.

Sometimes I can trick myself into avoiding my inner demons who are so hot about those ideas. After all, somewhere in the back of my head I realize, also, that my potential success and happiness are the best tribute to the opportunities and support I was given by others in this life. That if I manage to live my dream, it would be the best gift and pay-back to my parents, to whom I owe everything. But “I don’t deserve it” mantra still often trumps any rationality…

Plus it’s a bit difficult to fight a war on one’s own. Normally it requires troops. In any wars with inner demons, the troops are the friends, the family and the people who support you through each battle and, hopefully, help you through to a final winning march. Regardless of how much I am used to sorting my stuff out on my own, something bigger than myself, like the project I still want to make come alive, is something I can never build just by my own two hands. The nature of that project is simply such that it’s impossible without other people. I think losing the person who seemed to most believe in this project from day 1, as well as (apparently) losing someone else who I thought of as an emotional anchor were the two events that made the “I don’t deserve it, I’m not worthy, I’m not good enough” magic spell take the strongest hold of me so far… I’m still licking the wounds and I’m still faced with “just give it up” mental trolls every single day, but screw it – I’m angry now. I’m angry at the loss of this support. I’m angry that I wasted time and mental energy while waiting to find out what and why was going on with those two people – time and energy I could, if I knew what the deal was, divert elsewhere. Somewhere more productive, maybe? I’m angry at myself, too, for being so dependent on others for the initial support and motivation. I just hope I’m angry enough to keep on going, because at this point I have nothing else powerful enough to fuel any progress.

I’ll probably end up following through with it all, even if later rather than sooner. Most likely, at this point, out of sheer spite and stubbornness. And don’t even think about telling me that these are no noble motivations – fuck this. If they are the only type of motivation I can fully rely on to do what I feel is my calling and obligation to my family in one, then I’ll use those. Any weapon is better than no weapon in a battle against persistent self-depreciation, especially aided by those closest to one’s heart basically walking out on you without a word. If needed, I’ll call upon any ‘nasty’ inner emotions to my aid: rage, jealousy, contempt, pride – you name it – to win the war. Sometimes the darker forces of human nature are simply stronger motivators than the fluffy-furry stuff. I’ll switch over to the fluffy after I get the hard shit done, thank you very much, if the only way to get the hard shit done is by employing the worst of inner demons. In the light of those inner ponderings of my own, here is what I want to wish all of you for 2013:

I wish you success. No matter what you think or what anyone tells you, you DO deserve it. You ARE worth it.

More than that – it is essential that you follow your dreams and make them true. When you achieve something, you make the slacking losers like myself look up to you and say “damn… That’s pretty awesome, I wanna do something like that!” and maybe, just maybe, on occasion, tear our lazy asses off the chairs and go ahead DO things for ourselves, too.

I also wish that you would never have to pull it off alone. It may be ‘noble’, but it’s fucking hard and depressing on that lonely road, too. I wish you to have people near you who will keep helping you on your way and encouraging you at every major step.

I also wish you to remember that, when you encounter someone with a dream, even the smallest sign of interest and support may be that magical final drop in the cup of their resolve and determination to do something great and miraculous in their lives. So BE those people, if you can. Encourage your friends, encourage strangers. Help them, if you can and it is simple for you to do.

When a load of people come together and do a load of small things – any miracles are possible. Never forget that you are a part of that ‘load’, an essential part, for anyone you know. Hopefully, if you live by the pay-it-forward principle, the seeds of the kindness and support you show to others will roll back to you tenfold.

I’m not talking about going out of your way to help every human being you ever see – it’s impossible. But please, when you encounter someone you (even barely) know (or not at all), who mentions that they have a dream, if you have a spare minute, send at least a few encouraging words their way. Not everyone has enough courage, or spite and stubbornness,  to do things on their own – people need you, just as you need them. Think of how much better our world would be if other people’s great ideas found support when it was much needed.

Let us all, together as a human race, through mutual support and encouragement, have a much more successful and encouraging 2013.

Happy New Year to you all.

Posted in Inspiring, Messages to the world, Random wisdom, Self-reflective | 3 Comments

Dirty laundry

Aaaaaand as it sometimes happens, I have created a monster – wheee! So today, kids, the things that we are going to look at are censorship, politeness and airing dirty laundry.

On the one hand, there is a certain ‘rule’ in the Western society: to sort one’s personal grievances privately, not to air one’s dirty laundry out in the open. In most cases, it is indeed a wise advice. When some occasional troubles arise, it would normally blow off and be sorted out in a very short time, and there is no need to publicize any of it. It is considered ‘polite’ and ‘proper’ not to publicize some passing troubles, especially to protect a common goal or a business or a project that may be a collateral to any dispute. This is why companies have PR agencies – to make sure they can effectively sugarcoat any bumps on their way and filter information that ever gets out – to make sure small internal disputes don’t come out into the open and don’t unnecessarily affect the entire company’s reputation.

But there are exceptions. When a problem is chronic and when trying to do something privately simply doesn’t work at all. When that problem affects many people. For example, it would be very difficult to do much about civil rights if black people of the past century USA remained nice and polite and tried to sort out their troubles privately with their owners, in order to make sure to not hurt the cotton industry… You can imagine how effective such approach would have been. Instead, it took being loud and assertive and even aggressive to get the message across and to finally mobilize enough public momentum to stop an entire segment of the population from being abused.

The principle works on all scales. Here’s something you could learn in conflict resolution: in a relationship between two people, some couples try to avoid arguing… If they do it too much, if they are too afraid of conflict – they stop communicating effectively. They get too fixated on not offending each other instead of on building a relationship and being honest with one another, on growing and evolving together, on bonding and making sure both themselves and their significant others are happy. A conflict, an argument – it may hurt for half an hour or a day, or even a week but it clears the air. It brings out into the open what can otherwise grow unnoticed into an all-consuming cancer. People are afraid of conflict, for it is associated with pain and threat to lose something dear. Ironically, couples with least conflicts normally don’t last long together. Couples who occasionally get caught in a bad loud argument – they are those who most often celebrate all those freaky quarter and half century anniversaries.

So, in the view of what happened with my little monster, I got told to, basically, shut up and keep things behind the scenes and sort things out privately… Except apparently this is case number 2 – a chronic case where “quietly” yielded exactly zero results. Now what?

And now it’s about the time for some people to understand that sometimes, in some cases, focusing only on ‘good PR’ and on making everything seem and look ‘perfect’ or just ‘nice and shiny’ all the time leads to the loss of focus on the actual goal, whatever it may be. To begin with, it’s fake. There is no perfection in this world. When something seems to be too good to be true – you know the rule… In addition, when too many people are affected by some wrongdoing, but are bound by the common ‘courtesy rules’ of ‘shut the fuck up’ and ‘try to solve it mano a mano’ – that actually doesn’t make any problems go away. Oh, and sometimes when nobody out there in the open knows that some things are done in a wrong way, they fall unwitting victims to unexpected mishandling. Those who kept quiet about it for a very long time – those are bystanders, on whose hands the inconveniences and troubles of the new ‘victims’ are just as much, as on the hands of perpetrators. If, on the other hand, people knew what to expect – they could make an informed choice of whether to deal with someone and how to go about the potential inconveniences.

There simply are times when an actual storm is absolutely needed to clear the skies. If we all, by keeping polite silence at all costs, allow for wrong behavior to remain and to  continue unchanged, we’d all reinforce the idea that some people might hold that it is fine to disrespect people they deal with. That it is fine to hear everyone tell you that how you go about doing things is totally wrong and inappropriate, to hear good sound advice on how it can be done better but ignore it and keep doing the same good old stuff as always. We as people, even if we are working on a common goal, don’t need to like one another at all times, or agree with one another on everything, but we need to all remember to respect one another. We also need to remember that NOT stopping behavior that is hurtful and disrespectful in the end hurts that very precious common goal that we so desperately are trying to ‘protect’ by censorship of any discontent. The only world where such obsession about political correctness is functional is in Orwel’s 1984 world – are we sure we want THAT type of a world? If someone for a very long time holds an opposing view and considers that to be right – then please don’t say it would do any good to any common goal. I’ve never heard of any cases where disrespect did any good to anyone or to any goal, I doubt I’d soon live to see an exception.

People are welcome to hate me all they want for occasionally sorting some specific bundles of dirty laundry out in the open, but sometimes that laundry stinks so much it’s silly to pretend it’s not there in the basket because everyone already feels the smell. Ever heard of the elephant in the room? That awkward ‘stuff we don’t speak of’? Remind me of the last time it helped any community to keep feeding that elephant by more and more silence? And just as at times a doctor has to inflict some pain to the patient to save them, sometimes some conflicts and some problems need to blow up big and loud and out in the open to prevent even greater damage. Before they slowly, through accumulating charges of minor grievances, accumulate enough to turn into nuclear weapons of mass destruction of both the precious common goal, whatever it may be, and everyone involved in it. It is much worse when a nuke blows up than if a firecracker does. Don’t know about any of you, but I’d rather on occasion let a firecracker blow up (when putting out the fuse fails) than wait until a full-on nuclear explosion.

Posted in Controversial, How to..., Random wisdom | 1 Comment

The immoral, unhappy, angry, traumatized, lost, purposeless, dimwit atheist

Show of hands, fellow heathens: how many of you have been called anything from one to all of the above by believers? Show of hands, dear believers: how many of you think that anything from one to all of the above truly applies to all atheists? I can see that’s all hands up…

I can’t and won’t speak on behalf of all atheists – we are an extraordinarily diverse fabric of people and the only thing that unites us is the simple fact that we’re not convinced that some god/s exist. I will, however, speak for myself in this entry because I am getting sick and tired of wasting my time dealing with the same old idiotic accusations from “the other side” (yeah, that same “thy shall not judge”, “turn the other cheek”, “the meek shall inherit the earth” bunch that are so quick to judge, snap back, hate and showcase their most epic arrogance that can be possibly conceived of in the universe…). I don’t just allude to one religion here either, because in one manner or another they all come up with either one or a few or all of the claims listed in the title – same old accusations I’m getting sick and tired of hearing every other bloody day.

1. The “immoral” atheist, or “where can you possibly get morality if not from god?” plus “you just don’t understand god/ god’s ways/ message/ whatever”.

I’ll write a long in-depth, well-linked entry on morality one of those days. For the purpose of this entry, here is a short version:

a) Where do monkeys, dolphins, ants, crows and other social animals get their morality from – what literature do they read? Ah, that’s right – they can’t read. They have no access to the babble or koran or you name it. They have no ‘soul’, they are incapable of moral decisions and self-reflection, yadda, yadda…

Weirdly enough, they still show exactly the same behaviors we deem moral: care for the weak, wounded, sick and little. Mercy to the defeated. Appropriate in scale punishment and reward systems. Mutual care, grooming, protection within the group. Noticeably, they don’t wage genocidal wars for the most part…

They – and us humans, too – do NOT get morals from anyone’s favorite mythology texts.

‘Morality’ – or the innate sense we all (with the exception of babies, some types of the mentally ill, some people with specific medical conditions (like pain insensitivity) and sociopaths) share of what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ to do on a fundamental level, at least the basics like not killing/hurting others, comes from evolution. It is a necessity for the survival of a species that relies on the social structure and group for its existence. We’re hard-wired to be empathetic and be reciprocal in care and empathy.

Some sneaky bastards manage to jump in with “oh, but there still exists an OBJECTIVE standard of good and evil, otherwise how would we know if murder is bad to begin with or love is good, blah blah blah… Therefore = god”

Therefore, say I, =IDIOTS. With all due (dis)respect.

To be as juvenile as to claim that the world is divided into two polar camps of ‘good’ stuff vs. ‘evil’ stuff that is always that what it is regardless is akin to being stuck in teenage maximalism well into adulthood. No, there ARE NO inherently ‘good’ or ‘bad’ things in this world. No, even something like murder isn’t inherently good or bad (otherwise you’d send all animals out there to the gulag and you’d also be forced to condemn everyone who ever killed someone in self defense to a lifetime in prison). Things just ARE. And we humans go ahead put labels on them according to what we see fit.

We do as a species seem to agree that slaughtering everyone over minor disagreements isn’t the greatest way of ensuring our survival (abrahamic religions’ god, of course, has a totally different idea and in the spirit of ancient tribalism is very much into genocide over some petty shit like, say, different skin color…), that pain is rather unpleasant – but this isn’t morality. This is self-preservation: selfishness at its utmost. We don’t want to be beaten up, tortured, killed and stolen from. Not one person truly wants to (masochists aside, but even they have their limits). So since we as individuals live together in groups, we figured out back in monkey times (no, we did NOT evolve FROM monkeys – we are apes and we share a common ancestor with modern monkeys – this was just a figure of speech) that if we don’t do all that to others all the time, then they also don’t do it to us all the time, and then everything works out and everyone’s happy. No rocket science. No grand morality, either.

b) I do, however, claim to be MORE moral than believers. Here is why:

- My moral values aren’t something I’m spoon-fed by others while unconscious. I didn’t accept them without any thought or questioning. They are not immune to any criticism (which makes them superior, not inferior, to the nonsense  ‘infallible’ claims). They are not a product of blind superstitions and faith in toothfairies.

- My moral values are NOT influenced by fear of punishment and hope of a reward. If I were to face the person I most strongly despise on a deserted island and i could kill that person and no one would ever know about it – unless that person attacked me I would still not kill them NOT because I would fear some sort of a punishment, but because it is wrong.

- My moral values aren’t centered around preserving some old mythology for the old mythology’s sake. They are centered around making sure the entire society flourishes, human rights and the rule of law are observed and not denied to anyone, our liberties and freedoms remain available to all.

- My moral values don’t request and require mandatory hatred and condemnation, guilt-tripping over or fear of anything that is in and of itself completely harmless and natural. I am talking about LGTB community, sexual practices, food, skin color, ‘tribe’ – you name it.

- Equally, I don’t have to walk around with a book under my arm on one hand screaming till I lose my voice about how it’s fucking infallible and perfect and to be taken literally, then on the other hand right there and then refusing to stone disobedient children and adulterers, beat slaves, wage genocidal war on non-believers, subordinate women and all those other ‘nice’ things that somehow have a special ‘not infallible’ exemption status in the otherwise ‘infallible’ book… (to all that doublethink, I say ‘bitch, please!’).

- My morality doesn’t give me a sense of ultimate, unquestionable sanction to all my actions from the ultimate authority, and thus puts me in no danger of committing hate crimes and inhumane atrocities (like holocaust… And nope – Hitler was NOT an atheist, he believed strongly he was acting out god’s will and was his messenger on earth, was under the wing of the Catholic church and I doubt ‘Got mitt uns’ would make it onto SS officers belt buckles if he didn’t meant it in all sincerity. If STILL in doubt – read Mein Kampf) just because the perceived ultimate authority who isn’t to be questioned presumably commands it.

c) There is a load of other reasons, but I’ll just mention the last one here, which also deals with implying I’m a dimwit because I just don’t understand your religion/ god/ etc (by the way, a very dangerous thing to say to an atheist – we DO, on average, know your religions much, MUCH better than YOU do – which by the way is just another reason we aren’t buying that shit):

The epic fucking narcissistic megalomanic arrogance of those self-righteous bigots! They call me arrogant for denying their unsubstantiated myths – while they claim to have a personal relationship with the presumed ultimate creator of the universe! Whoa!

Sorry, darlings, you’ve got it all screwed up. I’ll explain:

Being HUMBLE (moral, and intellectually honest – AND superior) means thinking like I do, i.e. the following: realizing you’re just one transient species that arose from the game of evolution on a tiny planet orbiting an average star of the millions and millions of them in the corner of an average galaxy out of the billions and billions of them somewhere in the suburbs of the universe. Realizing that all that grandeur was NOT made with YOUR self-centered ass in mind by anyone, and definitely NOT by anyone who’d for some reason be compelled to give the slightest damn about YOUR ass’s petty existence and daily routine, words you mumble, etc. Realizing that most likely millions of other life forms inhabit the universe and you are NOT fucking special in any sense. Realizing you have but one life to make the most of and but one chance at leaving the legacy after yourself that would make this our tiny piece of a planet more hospitable for all others after you, if only just because it is nothing more grand that simple common courtesy. Realizing you are not infallible, you have NO special insight, knowledge, channels of communication, no special powers, no special brain abilities that would make YOU, out of all people, more likely than anyone else who ever lived or will to tap into ‘the most profound secrets of the universe’. It also means constantly seeking knowledge, breaking out of one’s cognitive comfort zone, accepting truth and fact even if it’s painful – because it is truth and we have nothing better than trying to know more and more of it at our disposal as a tool to understanding anything.

Alternatively, thinking you’re the ultimate masterpiece of the ultimate intelligence, who made EVERYTHING in this universe just for YOU to be here, cares a huge deal about what you do, think, eat, etc., and that you’re SO special as to KNOW for CERTAIN ALL of the answers to the most intriguing mysteries of the universe, and that includes what that supposed ultimate intelligence of the universe is, wants (although it can’t, by definition, give a slightest damn or want a single thing, for desires imply lack, and the ULTIMATE something can’t be LACKING in anything…) – now THAT, my darling, is EPICALLY ARROGANT MEGALOMANIA.

It also stops any questioning and inquiry – no wonder so many idiots who have not a slightest clue about even the most basic DEFINITIONS (I’m talking about you, “evolution is just a theory” nutcases… Why don’t you test the THEORY of gravity by jumping off a high cliff, huh?.. Alternatively, you can read and learn what the word means before you use it) of things they dare talk about keep spitting out so much inane bullshit all the time, instead of getting a bloody education… I’m not even mentioning the constant logical fallacies you perceive to be ‘compelling arguments’ – because you don’t bother learning any better…

2. “Why are you so angry?”, “You probably just had a bad experience with some Christians (or insert other faith) or your own believer family and now are traumatized…”, “You’re just angry at god for not letting you do whatever you want”.

Or something along those lines… I’ll answer in order:

a) Have you ever played that psycho game with someone who is in a great mood, or just perfectly clam, when you come up to them and say “Yo, mate, just chill off, relax, it’s okay”…? Then repeatedly suggested that person to relax and chill off when they kept telling you they’re actually perfectly fine?.. How long, on average, did it take you to fully spoil that person’s mood?

Dear believers: please stop PROJECTING your own ANGER and FRUSTRATION onto everyone else, okay? Thank you. Should I even go on?

Bah, okay, I will a bit. You’re an online someone I do not know – just what exactly makes you think your meek existence has any significance to me and thus bearing on my mood?.. Or are you stupid enough to think that if I start using swear-words, I turn into a red-neck-esque hate-spewing chainsaw-massacre-like character? PUHLEASE, give me a break. You’re really, I mean REALLY not THAT important to my life to get me actually angry. I begin to swear because I see there is no actual intelligent conversation to have with you, so at least I annoy you with foul language and cussing you’re so afraid of (because as we all know, magic words can cast magic spells onto you… That’s why they’re called CURSE words… Ahem…).

You’re annoying – that’s true. Because you all constantly misrepresent facts, twist words and quotes and meanings of everything you say/quote. You refuse evidence and facts and goddamn REALITY point-blank simply because they don’t go well with your mythology. Then you DEMAND to be taken seriously? You claim your IDIOCY has the same value and merit as the whole body of scientific and other knowledge of humankind? Oh, fuck off. That’s annoying. That, and you calling me all those retarded names and giving me the same old retarded labels. Just who the fuck are you to judge my entire life and character on the simple basis of the fact that I happen to have a higher standard for evidence i demand before I accept something as true?… That’s right – you’re a nobody. You’re no psychic. Live with it.

b) To the bad experiences and horrible family – nope. I was lucky to have had non-believing (and wonderful – for me, at least) family and I never had to face any hardcore mad believers in my life until I got an internet connection and Facebook.

c) More than having a problem with the idea of someone telling me what not to do (and sometimes they’re right – if I get told not to sleep on train tracks, it’s probably good for me), I have a problem with someone telling me what I MUST do, when that list has such shit as “hate, kill, discriminate, be in constant fear yet obligated to love the same one you must fear (definition of pathological relationship, by the way), and consistently feel guilt for every single normal thing you dare to enjoy and the fact of your existence, too. Oh and you’re a female – so shut up and be your man’s doormat, spitting babies out all your life.

I don’t need a bid sky daddy to be nice to other people and fair – I covered this in morality part. If a sky daddy, however, truly showed up and had THOSE demands for me? I’d tell that idiot asshole to go stick it back up the same hole they most likely came from.

So I’m sorry, my life isn’t one raging stretch of fiery anger. And even on the rare occasions when I get irritated, what I do occasionally get angry about is not your ‘god’ (for the same exact reason that you don’t get mad at unicorns and dragons, by the way), but about what people who think they have divine sanction for their actions do way too often for my liking.

3. “You’re lost in life”, “your life has no meaning or purpose (without god)”, “you must have such a meaningless life if you think there’s no meaning/purpose/afterlife/god/etc”.

To being lost: I think it’s those who still insist the earth is flat and 6000 years old need an up-grade of their GPS – not me. I’m good on direction for my life, thank you.

Objectively speaking, there IS no purpose, meaning, direction to this life and universe (well, ultimate death and annihilation notwithstanding…). We’re a cosmic accident bound to live once then die forever and that’s that.

To cope with that reality, some people resort to magic-think and fairy tales and wishful thinking stuff like ‘afterlife’ or ‘reincarnation’ or what not. Some for some reason find joy in subscribing to eternal slavery to an infinitely jealous egocentric psychotic imaginary friend in the sky…

And some people simply accept the reality for what it is, and then decide for themselves what THEIR personal purpose in life would be. This is why we have some people who work all life on cancer cures, others writing cook books, others working on super-computers, yet others teaching kids… THESE are the purposes in life! To give, to contribute, to leave a legacy, to leave a better world after myself – THAT is a purpose.

You, believer, have a purpose to second-guess a set of thoughts and actions such that as to not to piss off your imaginary friend too much, so that you can deserve your warm spot in the heaven of some sorts and avoid pits of hell… That’s just fucking LAME! Even lamer is making it your purpose to infect as many people with that same bullshit as you’ve been infected with. That’s both lame and inhumane…

Now, MY purpose (and other heathens have their own, of course – and we all ultimately do) is to make the most of this lifetime that I was lucky enough to even get in the first place. So my purpose is to live a life in pursuit of education, a life full of love and experiences shared, a life that would leave a legacy behind it, however small, that would impact people’s minds, inspire them to think, act, dream and do, to love, to open their hearts to the world. My purpose is to capture the beauty of this world in pictures and words and share it. My purpose is to have a blast.

My purpose also is to make sure everyone else has those same opportunities – by making sure human rights, rule of law and social justice are ALWAYS preserved, above anything else, for ALL people. And this is where we collide: believers hate, discriminate, de-moralize, de-humanize, label people who differ/ disagree with their preferred myths. Believers have the nerve to dare tell someone else what they can or can’t do with their body. What they can or can’t do with other consenting adults (no matter how many or of what genders) in their homes and bedrooms. My purpose is to call out your ignorant, bigoted bluff and bullshit whenever I come across it, to destroy it, so that not a single other additional mind is destroyed by the hateful ancient bullshit you hold so preciously dear to your hearts and minds.

We didn’t climb out of the Dark Ages just to allow all the advancements of humankind to yet again be lost and destroyed by superstitious idiots. You want to see what happens when ancient religion is wed with government and becomes the main code of conduct of the land? Middle East. Africa. Latin America. Asia. Follow the map of the strength of religious belief in the world. It very closely corresponds to the map of the GDP distribution in the world… Most prosperous and FREE and SAFE and democratic countries? Atheist. America? Most devoutly Christian of all developed nations – and most violent, recently slipping to 23d place in list of ‘most desired countries to immigrate to’ when assessed by safety, standard of living, work opportunity etc. Highest rates of violent crime (by a magnitude of about 2 times or more worse than runner up), gun deaths, highest percentage of population in jail IN THE WORLD, highest teen pregnancy rates, highest STD rates (same applies for stats between states of the USA – the more fundamentalist the state, the worse the stats…)… Isn’t it maybe JUST about time to fucking have those bells ring that make you go ‘aha!’…?

So thank you for your concern about my purpose in life, but why don’t you closely re-examine your own instead. I have an incredible life that very many can envy. My life is full of magic and wonder and love and adventure. I am brought to tears when I think of how darn lucky I am to have such a life as I do. I want to keep it that way.

This is why I also am forced to battle with people like YOU, who seem to be hell-bent (pun intended) on making sure you spread misery, hate, crime, poverty and other unpleasant things everywhere you go. Whether you realize that’s exactly what you’re doing, or not. Remember this next time you dare to call me immoral.

Posted in Controversial, Matters of faith, Self-reflective | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy – or maybe not…

“Here is a list of 15 things which, if you give up on them, will make your life a lot easier and much, much happier”, claims the author of 15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy. I expected a solid piece of advice but instead got a few unrealistic stencil-type cliches. I also promised to one of my friends on FB to tear the whole article apart – which I will try my best to do below :). As a cherry on top of the cake, I’ll also pitch in a few of my own suggestions on a happy life. They may not be perfect, but at least they seem to be more rational, sound and effective. Here we go (original article segments in italics):

1. Give up your need to always be right. There are so many of us who can’t stand the idea of being wrong – wanting to always be right – even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain, for us and for others. It’s just not worth it. Whenever you feel the ‘urgent’ need to jump into a fight over who is right and who is wrong, ask yourself this question: “Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?”Wayne Dyer. What difference will that make? Is your ego really that big?

Ehm… no. My ego is healthily self-doubting, thank you. But I do disagree.

You see, while in some instances this is a sound advice, it is only applicable to the small things in life. And for shorter stretches of time. Oh and the false dichotomy of “either right or kind” deserves a specific mentioning: one can be both right AND kind, or neither, too. Or one of the two and something entirely else. This isn’t a legitimate choice. Way to start an article – with a logical fallacy…

Anyway… Say that you have a not so bright rebellious teen growing up. Or a not so savvy spouse. And you’re the thrifty one on the bunch with a lot of know-how. Are you obligated to cave in to stupid stuff of theirs? If you don’t, does it automatically imply there is no possible way of telling them what is the right thing while maintaining kindness? The list of situations really goes on and on even on the macro-scale of daily interactions. Did that cashier accidentally put extra items on your bill? Oh but you’re right to point it out and maybe argue, but you should rather suck it up, smile, pay extra and go? This simply doesn’t work. By default accepting everyone’s ideas – especially wrong ones – is exactly what lets stupidity reign, robbing the world of intellectual advancement, accuracy, progress, knowledge and mutual understanding.

People who are misinformed make wrong judgments and decisions. Repercussions of those are often very grave for many others involved. Sharing accurate information and pointing inaccurate is just one way of PREVENTING harm. I’m not even going to mention implications of hand-waving at issues of “greater truth”. Flat earth, anyone? Oh and yes – some people TODAY claim to believe that. And that there are witches who need to be burned alive. And that homosexuality is a choice and/or a disease to be fought somehow. Should I go on?

Even in a regular situation, sucking up every time someone is incorrect only builds frustration and misunderstandings.

Solution: instead of blindly nodding to every piece of inane bullshit, accepting it gladly and forgetting it ever happened, realize that this “whatever rule” only applies to a tiny portion of human interactions. In other cases, summon all your niceness, kindness and facts and present them to the other party in a friendly manner instead. This encourages dialogue, shows you have a spinal chord, spreads important accurate information and generally advances learning. Keep your emotions at bay though – don’t get too agitated, and never, EVER start off by personal attacks or demeaning remarks. In that case all your interactions where disagreements may occur will be civil and mutually satisfying. If you manage to, however, run into someone who is deaf, blind and screaming and kicking at anything that may correct their inaccurate point of view – go ahead lose them. Such people aren’t worth keeping and wasting time on in the first place. Oh and all of the above applies to factual parts of any arguments – emotional cases and opinion-based discussions unsubstantiated by facts live in their own realm and have different rules, where “you don’t always have to be right” is a much more sane advice than elsewhere.

2. Give up your need for control. Be willing to give up your need to always control everything that happens to you and around you – situations, events, people, etc. Whether they are loved ones, coworkers, or just strangers you meet on the street – just allow them to be. Allow everything and everyone to be just as they are and you will see how much better will that make you feel. “By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond winning.” Lao Tzu

Let’s allow everyone to go ahead be what they want to be and thus do whatever the fuck they want – murder, rape, theft, lying, genocide, witch-burning, abuse, torture and reckless driving – YAY!

Errrrm – nay. Accepting reality for what it is at a given time is one thing – and I fully support it. It’s the “ok, so here’s how it currently is” mindset I’m completely for. But the next step is critical evaluation of each given process, situation, action, circumstance and consequent decision of the best tactic. To keep this short, instead of letting it all “just be as it is” – which is by the way the exact same lame defeatist attitude that slaves were encouraged to maintain back in them days and the poorest of the world are encouraged to embrace even today, ahem –  I prefer a different approach:

Solution: Have the strength and courage to change things you can change. Have patience and acceptance for things beyond your control (like weather). And spend your entire life on cultivating wisdom that would allow you to distinguish former from the latter.

3. Give up on blame. Give up on your need to blame others for what you have or don’t have, for what you feel or don’t feel. Stop giving your powers away and start taking responsibility for your life.

Oh, but of COURSE it is I who is to blame for the ginormous economic disparities of the world, every single disaster and misfortune that ever strikes me, and the fact that my spouse is hitting and abusing me and my bankers are defrauding me out of my savings – how could I possibly have EVER thought otherwise!!!

Meh… Nope. One issue is blameshifting and responsibility-shifting for the things one truly controls – and those are self-deception at best, I agree. However, being able to properly recognize those who are responsible for something (yes, that includes oneself and blind chance, too) is a crucial skill for social cohesiveness and problem-solving. Otherwise this leads to “blame-the-victim” mentality we all know the fruits of.

Solution: instead of focusing on blame, focus on responsibility and objective assessment of who is/was/will be responsible for something and how. Trying to stick to objective reality is a better guide than a blanket amnesty to every scammer out there. Definitely look at yourself first when something isn’t working – see if you can figure out whether maybe something you do is preventing you from your goals. But don’t carry the weight of the world on your own shoulders either – you control a lot in your life, but a lot of your life controls you, too. It’s a push-pull game that never ends, so adopting either extreme strategy (“I’m 100% responsible for everything” or “The universe is against me”) is equally misguided. Sometimes those you blame ARE the ones responsible – and there should be no ‘zen’ rule preventing you from calling them on their criminal activities or otherwise antisocial behaviors.

*(note: ‘antisocial’ means someone deliberately breaking established rules and laws of the society. The word you should use instead when you use this one is ‘Asocial’ – a person shying away from social interactions)

4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk. Oh my. How many people are hurting themselves because of their negative, polluted and repetitive self-defeating mindset? Don’t believe everything that your mind is telling you – especially if it’s negative and self-defeating. You are better than that. “The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive.” Eckhart Tolle

Being one’s own cheerleader is great, but perpetual pink shades are self-deception just the same as perpetual dark ones.

Solution: be your own friend and try to objectively assess your strengths and limitations. See if you can turn your ‘bad’ traits to your advantage and polish up the ‘good’ ones. Accept yourself for who and what you are right now. Only then can you proceed to working on making yourself even better.

5. Give up your limiting beliefs about what you can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible. From now on, you are no longer going to allow your limiting beliefs to keep you stuck in the wrong place. Spread your wings and fly! “A belief is not an idea held by the mind, it is an idea that holds the mind” Elly Roselle

That’s inspiring but I won’t want to see someone trying this stunt at the top of a cliff – at least not without proper equipment. Which they’d check a few times over first. Ever heard of Darwin awards? Those people grossly overestimated their own abilities. Also read up on Dunning-Krueger experiments…

Solution: humans are amazing and can do great stuff. However, simply believing you’re amazing and can do anything won’t get you off the couch. Actually putting the EFFORT into ass-lifting is what MAY get you somewhere. So next time you have a huge aspiration – make sure you proceed as fast as you can to the practical stage of making it happen, instead of simply believing in yourself – while clicking through channels. It’s hard work, too, not just self-confidence alone that gets you to greatness and miraculous achievements. Dream big – dream VERY big. And then go right ahead start taking baby steps towards it.

6. Give up complaining. Give up your constant need to complain about those many, many, maaany things – people, situations, events that make you unhappy, sad and depressed. Nobody can make you unhappy, no situation can make you sad or miserable unless you allow it to. It’s not the situation that triggers those feelings in you, but how you choose to look at it. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.

While this is by and large my own philosophy in many ways, I’d see you preach this to people who are affected by SAD, depression and other conditions (including diabetes, hormonal issues, bad diets and foods, polluted environment etc etc etc etc) – that their state of temporary (or permanent) misery is their fault.

Solution: as a general rule of thumb, do try to remember that your own reaction and take on certain things (like, say, someone calling you names) is, indeed, very much in your hands. And yes, it helps to not sweat the small stuff. However, you’re not a robot – you’re a human. Go ahead get offended and complain every now and then – there’s nothing wrong with it and it’s therapeutic. One caveat though: if you complain about something, then DO something to change it. If you’re just sitting there spitting out complaints on everything but do nothing – you’re indeed wasting oxygen. And your life.

7. Give up the luxury of criticism. Give up your need to criticize things, events or people that are different than you. We are all different, yet we are all the same. We all want to be happy, we all want to love and be loved and we all want to be understood. We all want something, and something is wished by us all.

So I take it we shouldn’t criticize slavery, human rights violations, the (you guessed it) witch burnings, hate crimes and the millions of RETARDED and plain dangerous ideas held and enacted by anyone on this planet? Hells to the no, I’m not staying silent – and neither should you!

Solution: most definitely DO criticize! There is no betterment without criticism, no progress, no advancement of knowledge, and this stupid idea that just because all people have equal rights, all their ideas, however retarded they may be, deserve equal merit and respect is, well, STUPID. It wastes collective time we all then have to spend trying to dig through the bullshit and deal with consequences of ignorant recklessness – time we could otherwise divert to something much more constructive. Speaking of constructive: if you criticize, do so constructively. Explain what causes the criticism, offer possible options for a solution, and don’t make it too personal. But “giving up criticism”? That’s an equivalent of bringing “heil, Hitler” back in fashion!

8. Give up your need to impress others. Stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not just to make others like you. It doesn’t work this way. The moment you stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not, the moment you take of all your masks, the moment you accept and embrace the real you, you will find people will be drawn to you, effortlessly.

That’s probably the most sound piece of advice so far. Staying true to oneself is important, and pleasing everyone – impossible.

9. Give up your resistance to change. Change is good. Change will help you move from A to B. Change will help you make improvements in your life and also the lives of those around you. Follow your bliss, embrace change – don’t resist it. “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls” Joseph Campbell

Everything is good in moderation, and everything is good when it is appropriate to circumstance. Being generally flexible is, indeed, a very good trait. Make sure though you don’t lose yourself in the process. Also, if you have a family or a relationship – build rituals. Excitement is one thing, but oddly enough routine activities and regular rituals keep the families/partners together, too, and are a very important part of relationships. It’s about striking the balance.

10. Give up labels. Stop labeling those things, people or events that you don’t understand as being weird or different and try opening your mind, little by little. Minds only work when open. “The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” Wayne Dyer

I don’t see the relevance of the quote to the point… More importantly, to “stop labeling” means to go insane in 5 minutes. Literally. Our brain processes immense amounts of information and it HAS to label and lump it all into categories (otherwise you’d have to figure out what that creature is every time you see another type of a dog – all over anew).

Solution: “open-minded” doesn’t mean you have to accept (and respect) every piece of bullshit you encounter. Stay critical, demand evidence for claims and ideas. Otherwise your open-mindedness will cost you a big deal – of time, money and potentially even health. In other words, there’s open-minded, and there’s “my brain is an open trash bin that anyone can throw any garbage into”. Focus on ideas worth learning about – not EVERY little thing that sounds fun and ‘open-minded’ just because it’s new, fancy or hasn’t been properly tested yet.

Same with people. Yes – being generally respectful and courteous pays off, but I will not suggest trying to sweet-talk a junkie or a thug in a dark alley into being your friend. I’d suggest to RUN and scream. Even in more social settings – keep your human radar running. If you sense something is off – it most often is. Excuse yourself and leave the person. Better to come off as occasionally rude than end up as a popsicle in morgue or with a few bad memories uncalled for.

11. Give up on your fears. Fear is just an illusion, it doesn’t exist – you created it. It’s all in your mind. Correct the inside and the outside will fall into place.
“The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”
 Franklin D. Roosevelt

Yeah – and stand in front of that approaching train…

Solution: fear, in case someone is unaware, is a SURVIVAL tool. It’s necessary for life. It’s useful. Yes, it does often glitch as a system – but that’s kind of the point: one needs to know when fear is rational, and when it isn’t. In addition, the bravest people are not fearless ones. Fearless folk are often the ones who die too young – because they were too reckless for safety measures. Bravest folk are those who DO experience fear, then assess the real danger, take necessary precautions and then, if necessary or desired, confront the situation. So instead of trying to fight fear itself (and unless it’s a phobia or other extreme condition, trying to eliminate fear itself is counter-productive), it’s better to act like truly brave people (see above).

12. Give up your excuses. Send them packing and tell them they’re fired. You no longer need them. A lot of times we limit ourselves because of the many excuses we use. Instead of growing and working on improving ourselves and our lives, we get stuck, lying to ourselves, using all kind of excuses – excuses that 99.9% of the time are not even real.

Ay-man. That’s one point I fully back.

13. Give up the past. I know, I know. It’s hard. Especially when the past looks so much better than the present and the future looks so frightening, but you have to take into consideration the fact that the present moment is all you have and all you will ever have. The past you are now longing for – the past that you are now dreaming about – was ignored by you when it was present. Stop deluding yourself. Be present in everything you do and enjoy life. After all life is a journey not a destination. Have a clear vision for the future, prepare yourself, but always be present in the now.

Sorry but naaah. Let’s start with the past… Hell no I won’t give up a single day of it! My past is what made me be ME, it defines me! It is also my personal huge library of experiences and references to both learn from, think back to and smile, draw strength from and grow from! WTF is this advice – to give up my entire identity? I’ll pass.

Solution: do NOT give up on the past! Respect it, treat it as a treasury of knowledge, learn from it, cherish the best parts of it – without dwelling in any of it though. Remembering the past is essential (and if people actually learned history, too, and FROM it – we could avoid about 60% of all problems we’re facing as a world, too). What one shouldn’t do is escape into the past, cling to it or let it determine everything in their daily lives. Refer to your past occasionally when needed, don’t live in it. Live in the present, plan for the future – I agree with that part. But letting the past go may backfire – it’s more sane to let go of the deep emotional attachment to the past, or maybe some of the traumas, but definitely counter-productive to throw out the exact precious thing that makes you who you are altogether.

14. Give up attachment. This is a concept that, for most of us is so hard to grasp and I have to tell you that it was for me too, (it still is) but it’s not something impossible. You get better and better at with time and practice. The moment you detach yourself from all things, (and that doesn’t mean you give up your love for them – because love and attachment have nothing to do with one another,  attachment comes from a place of fear, while love… well, real love is pure, kind, and self less, where there is love there can’t be fear, and because of that, attachment and love cannot coexist) you become so peaceful, so tolerant, so kind, and so serene. You will get to a place where you will be able to understand all things without even trying. A state beyond words.

It’s hard to believe someone has gotten attachment so wrong… I’m sure a mother giving birth to a baby may love it very, VERY much, but if she doesn’t feel attachment to that baby – she won’t deal with having it around for too long… And just generally – it’s not attachment that is the problem. It’s extreme cases of it.

Solution: it’s actually POSSESSIVENESS, jealousy and desire to control other people that stem from fear. Attachment is the warm and fuzzy thing we absolutely need as humans. We just need not to overdose on it – that’s all. Throwing it away, however, just because it may be dangerous in higher doses is as sane as banning oxygen because in higher doses it may be toxic and lethal. Learning to appreciate someone/something while it’s in one’s life and letting go when it has to leave – THAT is the trick. Avoiding attachment altogether, however, is avoiding the most basic part of being a human, a mammal even, giving up on the social glue so to say. If everyone detached themselves from everything, the entire structure of empathy and cooperation would collapse and we’d be all perfectly detached and perfectly extinct very soon.

15. Give up living your life to other people’s expectations. Way too many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what others think is best for them, they live their lives according to what their parents think is best for them, to what their friends, their enemies and their teachers, their government and the media think is best for them. They ignore their inner voice, that inner calling. They are so busy with pleasing everybody, with living up to other people’s expectations, that they lose control over their lives. They forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need….and eventually they forget about themselves.  You have one life – this one right now – you must live it, own it, and especially don’t let other people’s opinions distract you from your path.

What if that inner voice is telling you “you have to kill that neighbor”?.. Ok this is a bit extreme, but for one thing, not everyone even HAS an inner greater calling, and not every one of those callings is attainable and/or desirable.

Solution: it is definitely great to find one’s true passion and course and follow it. However, other people’s opinions can help to correct the course (or simply to gain more certainty for one’s own), discover new ways and options to it, shortcuts, little mistakes and otherwise be very useful. Again, pleasing everyone and listening to every stupid idea isn’t wise, either. Also, realize that maybe you don’t have a particularly strong calling – and that’s perfectly fine, too! World needs all kinds of people – people who are driven inside, and people who follow course. People who set trends, and people who simply get the job done.

More than focusing on a calling, focus on the sense of inner balance and peace – with yourself, people around you, your environment and your activities. And no, it’s not ALWAYS your own attitude that needs to be tweaked internally for that balance to remain – sometimes external factors need to be tweaked. Also, remember you’re not a robot. Silly attempts to always feel great and happy are, ironically, exactly the attitudes behind the developed world’s rather rapidly growing dissatisfaction with just about everything…

Basically, having read all this, I have one thing to say: don’t fool yourself – stay real, stay true, work hard if you need to achieve something, consider constructive criticism, know your limitations and strengths, and realize that the world is never black and white and no simplistic advices will ever get you anywhere far.

Posted in How to..., Inspiring, Material by other authors, Random wisdom, Self-reflective | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Murderer can walk free… And it’s somehow perfectly ‘reasonable’, too.

ARE you flipping kidding me??!!!

In case you live on a different planet and haven’t heard the news, here is the gist of it:

On top of me being more incredibly mad than I can recall myself being in a very, VERY long time, this to me is plain surreal on so many levels… I don’t understand how this could happen. I just don’t. This is like a scenario from a crap movie where ‘reality’ of the film is bizarre but viewers accept it because, after all, it is a film. Except this is REAL life, and a REAL kid who is brutally slaughtered, while a REAL monster gets to walk free… WHAT?!!

This is absurd. The situation like this just should not have happened altogether. Even if the murderer for some sort of a retarded racist reason ‘suspected’ Trayvon of anything – he called 911 and was told to STAY THE FUCK AWAY. Which he well should have done. And THAT is where the story should have ended for him. But no. NOOOOOOO. He just HAD to disobey the order. Just out of curiosity: what flipping nutjob who feels ‘threatened’ by someone in their neighborhood makes sure he stays close enough to the source of that ‘threat’ for such a very long time? Mr. murderer: if, as you dare to shamelessly claim, you felt ‘threatened’ somehow, then WHY THE FUCK DIDN’T YOU RUN THE OTHER WAY AND HIDE YOUR SORRY ASS after alerting the police of your ‘suspect’?!!??!!!

Or maybe it was because you felt that you were carrying out your ‘duties’ of the ‘neighborhood watch commander’? Except you were NOT affiliated with the neighborhood watch program to begin with, as it turns out. Then why?

I’ll tell you why: because you are a troubled, sociopath racist cunt, who was feeling all macho and trigger-happy, and just like sometimes little children brutally torture and kill cats or other animals ‘for fun’, went ahead and pulled the gun at a kid – because you simply thought you fucking CAN. You then ENJOYED tremendously the rushing sense of power, superiority and significance that Trayvon’s screams and pleading for help gave you. Then you, you filthy fucking swine, have taken a deep breath and probably nearly jizzed in your pants with excitement as you had your “I am GOD” moment – when you pulled the trigger on your unlawfully held gun (for which you didn’t have a license) and ended a life of a young, completely innocent boy, whose little brother was expecting him back home soon with some sweets…

You, Mr. “I-can-shoot-a-teenage-boy-walking-home-just-because-he’s-black-and-I’m white-and-I-have-a-gun-and-I-can-claim-’self-defense’-and-get-away-with-it” deserve a life sentence in prison and NOTHING less. I sincerely hope that you endure a lot of unwarranted butt sex behind the bars. I also hope you have several FAILED suicide attempts while there and get some non-treatable disease on top of that with which you’d be able to live a long time but in agonizing pain.

I’m not a sadist at all – but THAT fucker fully deserves it. FULLY. And if for some miraculous reason he does NOT get life sentence - I hope SOMEONE shows him what justice is the same way he showed Trayvon what mercy was. A good solid till-he-chokes-blood beating that would leave him alive but crippled would do by me. Screw pacifism.

Even worse? That the monster was LET GO to begin with!!! What a fuck is THAT? ‎”Justice system” my ass…

Whoever let this fucking sociopath walk must be fired and tried, right after he gets a life sentence for premeditated murder of highest degree of cruelty. If that doesn’t happen – then good luck, America, on your way down. You once were a great nation – and now are a strong bully flexing muscle up in everyone’s face but earning less and less respect beyond mere fear, accumulating more and more to be seriously ashamed of…

You are so proud – so proud to be the “greatest nation under god”… Well if THAT is your standard, America – maybe out of all the theocracies of the world you are, indeed, doing better than most, but guess the fuck what? You could probably learn from some greatest nations under NO gods, where shit like this just DOES.NOT.HAPPEN.

But this isn’t just an American problem (although, we must admit, it is sadly a very TYPICALLY American set of circumstances…). It is our collective failure as a society that shit like this can even conceivably happen. Not even the murder itself – all murder and crime will never be prevented, unless all human emotions and mental disorders that sometimes lead to criminal conduct somehow seize to be. The fact that after committing this atrocious act under these gruesome circumstances the cold-blooded murderer was let go… This makes me want to scratch my eyes out and scream and howl and stop the fucking planet and get off – I can’t humanly conceive of my home being host to such scenario!

It makes me also ashamed to the bone. Ashamed of the human race. Of our collective failure. We human beings are stupid, myopic arrogant monkeys too full of ourselves to even use a FRACTION of our brain potential for any significant good – best fucking testimony to the absolute and definite NON-intelligent “design” of this whole fucking place and universe, if you ask me… A bunch of apes behaving worse than actual monkeys in the woods (at least rivaling monkeys allow the defeated males to simply leave in shame and don’t feel the urge to kill them off just for the sadistic ‘fun’ of it, on top of the defeat…) and thinking we’re all that… Way to fucking GO, human race – we’ve done a tremendously great job at just about everything we laid our hands on. NOT…

People of America, if you ever want to claim the former greatness of your nation – wake the hell up. Make sure this monster AND all those who let him walk in the first place are locked up. If you don’t – it’s just another punch to roll with and before you know it everything you ever came to be proud of as an American will disappear in front of your eyes as a mirage in a desert. A lot of it already did. Just, please, don’t let it get any worse than that. Please.

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This post has been found in violation of H.R. 3261, S.O.P.A and has been removed.

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Turns out pedophilia is okay…

Well, having joined the  ATHEISM DEBUNKED BY UNITED MUSLIM UMMAH! group on Facebook out of my boundless curiosity (and due to encroaching boredom in the Christian group…), I guess I should have seen it coming… Never, however, in my worst nightmare could I imagine that I would run into two WOMEN who’d be saying what they were saying… I have a strong stomach, and I hardly every have crying sprees – well there was one female who made me consider getting a sick bucket and forced me to annihilate a perfectly new spare kleenex pack…

Print screens won’t do her justice, so you are welcome to witness our (very heated and extremely uncivilized, of course, as I’ve given up respecting people who don’t respect other people,  and this monster was promoting child abuse) debate here. For the TL;DR readers out there, allow a few copy-pasted excerpts (names are not hidden since it’s originally a public group).

It started off with the original post describing Aisha’s wedding to Mohammed… One of the passages it has that I didn’t get a chance to comment upon is the following:

“If you think – may Allaah guide you – that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not marry any virgin other than ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her), and that all his other wives had been previously married, this will refute the notion spread by many hostile sources, that the basic motive behind the Prophet’s marriages was physical desire and enjoyment of women, because if that was his intention he would have chosen only those who were virgins and beautiful etc. “

Just a quick note on this… Besides this being written so poorly that it almost lacks sense, I would assume that it says Mohammed only married Aisha as a virgin and all his other wives were not. This implies that previously married women are NOT sexually attractive/beautiful (according to Islam, they’re not – only attraction is virginity and submissiveness to the husband), especially to a medieval illiterate brute… I call bullshit on this because sexual attraction is sexual attraction and virgin or not if the guy’s horny, he’s horny. Something tells me on his case that marrying a load of women just for the fun of it and no sexual desire is just, well, mildly put ‘untrue’…

Anyway, back to the fury-inducing part…

Some of the first comments went something like this (note – comments that are displayed in chunks are actually originally followed by one another. Separated comments are randomly selected in sequence of the conversation):

  • Vivek Saini Since u know everything.. Answer dis.. will u marry ur nine year old daughter to an old man .. if thats wat Allah comes and says in ur dream?

    Sinchi Kodo allah don’t say that
    Vivek Saini ‎//He saw a dream about marrying her. It is proven in al-Bukhaari from the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to her: “You were shown to me twice in a dream. I saw that you were wrapped in a piece of silk, and it was said, ‘This is your wife.’ I uncovered her and saw that it was you. I said, ‘If this is from Allaah then it will come to pass.’” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, no. 3682)// .. Well.. no comments..
    Leah InShade ‎1. Allah SAID THAT, so you’re a liar for DENYING it.2. AND – please answer the question: would you marry off your 9 years old daughter to an old man, if Allah came to you in your dream and told you to?

To which she answered, slyly, that she was not the prophet… (As if Mohammad KNEW he WAS a prophet BEFORE it all, allegedly, happened to him…). Later on, one more woman showed up saying something like this (random excerpts):

Ghazala Muslimah a girl when she reaches puberty is allowed to be married in islam
Ghazala Muslimah child marriages are not forbidden in islam
Sinchi Kodo in my country the age of marriage is 18
Ghazala Muslimah we are supporting child marriage bcz its our right and who do u think u are to say we should go against the law made by allah

Ghazala Muslimah u all are sich….bcz u guys dont gt married thts y u guys resort other means…likes having sex with animals

Ghazala Muslimah child marriage is legal according to shariah
Ghazala Muslimah we honour our shariah than ur useless views

Ghazala Muslimah whteva its about…if u call us sexual perverts cz we marry our child…thn u guys are wht? beastility legalized? sounds sane frm which angel…u mad
Ghazala Muslimah US Allows sodomy
Leah InShade Wow, bestiality… Really… You know what, even if that MYTH was anywhere near truth (and it isn’t) – I think I’d much rather have a man fuck a sheep than MY OWN UNDERAGE DAUGHTER. And you both are NOT WOMEN and NOT MOTHERS if you can dare say that underage forced marriage is a good thing for ANY reason…
Ghazala Muslimah u guys screw up anythyng tht u gt ur hands on
Ghazala Muslimah except marrige u think everthyng is good
Leah InShade AND WOMEN LIKE YOU SCREW UP THEIR CHILDREN.
Ghazala Muslimah mad ppl u westerners are
Leah InShade you disgust me.
Ghazala Muslimah u urself are disgusting…cz u like ur daughters being screwed by every man except gtting thm married

Ghazala Muslimah if i am child abuser/…u are prostitute producers

Riccardino Tiamo that pic on your profile, i feel sorry for that little girl

Ghazala Muslimah if u hv prblems u gt ur daughters screwed in bars and discs by weirdos and take care off there illegitimate kids

Ghazala Muslimah and we muslims resperct our book more than any damn organisation of this world

Ghazala Muslimah homosexcuality is ok…bt child marriage is sin…marriage in any way is isn for u guys

Ghazala Muslimah yes…child marriage is allowed, bt consummation is only after pubertyu

Ghazala Muslimah i love allah and muslims and shariah
Leah InShade You’re a disgusting monster, or a troll. I hope you’re just a troll. I sincerely do. I refuse to believe that there exists a SINGLE WOMAN on this planet capable of saying what YOU are saying. Not one.

Leah InShade Islamic imams marry off young girls to rich men for 1 hour or two hours, so that they can have SEX, then they annul the marriage – how’s that NOT prostitution?

Ghazala Muslimah rape…is the worst crime…prostitution is whn mothers like u dress their daughter like barbie dolls for men to take pleasures in thm

Ghazala Muslimah marriages with the intention of divorce is not marriage it is prostitution and rape

Ghazala Muslimah if sm1 goes and practises smthyng outside shariah i cant say cz he is an imaam so he is doing the gud thyng

Ghazala Muslimah yes…marriage of 6 yrs and below or above is allowed…only consummation is allowed after puberty

Ghazala Muslimah thts hw u are born and thts hw ur daughters are born and thts all gud in ur life the 4 letter wrd

Ghazala Muslimah YES!!! CHILD MARRIAGE IS ALLOWED IN ISLAM…. we muslims do marry our daughters when they are children….but consummmation is only after puberty…and it shall keep going like this……forever n ever…:)

Leah InShade It also permits fondling a toddler, sticking the dick between a toddler’s thighs and touching of genitalia by man…

Sinchi Kodo The father should not give a minor daughter in marriage except in a case where he thinks it is in her best interests. [...]

Michael Peat Wow, that’s amazing. Most girls do not yet have the requisite hip spacing ratio to safely give birth in the first two years of puberty. No wonder so many young girls are dying in childbirth in Muslim countries.

Ghazala Muslimah ray: prove tht women have no wealth rights in slam
Abdur Rahman The Quran in Sura 2:228 says:

. . . Wives have the same rights as the husbands have on them in accordance with the generally known principles. Of course, men are a degree above them in status

 Ghazala Muslimah i love to obey my hubby…may be you like a wife who gvz a damn to u …may u be blessed with a wife who disobeys and disrespects u

Leah InShade A menstruating 9 year old girl (and puberty at times happens very early in age) is NOT to be had sex with and bear babies. Neither is a 12 year old. Nor 13.

Leta Bezdecheck Animal sex has NOTHING to do with homosexuality, you moron. Google says it is Muslims who keep looking up that nasty stuff anyway.

Leah InShade Ghazala – that actually IS THE POINT. Puberty IS NOT fixed in age. Which means that any unfortunate girl of 9 who menstruates is open for CHILD RAPE.

Ghazala Muslimah open for marriage not rape or prostitution as ur daughters…:))

Leah InShade Ghazala forcing a CHILD TO HAVE SEX, marriage or not, IS RAPE.

Rafi Aziz Puberty does not make you an adult. Puberty is not a magic day, it takes years to complete…

Ghazala Muslimah yes…9 is adult if menstruating…in islam

Leah InShade Also, very interesting to me, do you think it is OKAY for a 10 year old to GIVE BIRTH?

Ghazala Muslimah ray go marry ur daughter to animals so tht they can have gud sexual life

Leah InShade She sincerely thinks that a guy doing a sheep is a WORSE thing somehow than a guy doing a 6 year old girl and getting her pregnant…

Ghazala Muslimah after puberty…..u can have as many children as u want….tell me at what age u had first illegal sex in skool with ur boyfren and hw many abortions u hv had to conceal ur pros life

Ghazala Muslimah you tell me wht age u were sexually used by ur byfren at what age?

Leah InShade do you think it is OKAY for a 10 year old to GIVE BIRTH? yes or no.
(which part of “I had NEVER done ANYTHING illegal in my life is hard for you to grasp?…)

(This 10 year old giving birth vs her copy/pasting “at what age…” thing over and over again went on for a while…)

Leta Bezdecheck She can’t asnwer that question correctly because it will either make her religion look bad (it is bad) or it will make her look stupid (um…)

Ghazala Muslimah u know u suffering frm tht intense disease…go gt urself checked

Ghazala Muslimah david…dont worry about my hubby think about ur wife….may be she must be njoying herself with the dog u have a home more than she njoys u…:P

Ghazala Muslimah david….ask ur pros daughtr….wether she njoys an animal more or a man…. and ask her if she njoy women more….so much confusion…go ask her…and have good sextales to listn frm her

Sinchi Kodo ok iwill answer you . physically it’s no good to a girl have 10 to have kids

Sinchi Kodo and i’m so proud to be a muslim

Leah InShade Sinchi – thank you for your honest answer.
Now, are pubescent girls (some of whom 9, or 10… or 13…) and their husbands allowed to have birth control after marriage?

At which point Sinchi also fell silent… because the answer is, obviously, “no”, and the consequences of it are often something like this:

So you can see kind of how it went (save a lot of name-calling :) ). I thought I’d share a couple of quick thoughts on the whole matter, just to have them handy if ever needed.

1. I don’t care what kind of law – Sharia or secular or any other – will say anywhere that it is OKAY for CHILDREN to be RAPED. I don’t like kids too much, and highly doubt wanting any of my own; however, if I had a kid, I’d scratch any horny pedophile’s eyes out and tear his testicles off with my bare hands if he were to approach my kid (or ANY kid) below the age of 13 (menstruation or not) with any sexual advancements.

I say 13 not because I condone any old fuck getting it on with an underage girl. I say 13 because sometimes by that age some of the girls mature enough to handle intercourse. Sometimes they go for it. However, it much more often happens with someone close to her own age and with her consent (in OUR world here).

2. The world I live in has underage sex, rape (of any kind) and underage prostitution all illegal (With the exception of Churches and their institutions…). Even the criminals in prison place child molesters at the very bottom of hierarchy, and they better watch out for violence and abuse that even violent criminals have enough decency to condemn them to for their horrific crime.

The world that troll lives in (if she’s for real, or even a she…) puts underage and child sex together with lack of consent by the child (who most of the times isn’t even told anything, let alone asked) and calls it ‘marriage’ and condones it… Except, it makes it no less of a child rape than what’s happening to the altar boys…

3. If I had to vote for legalizing gay marriages, prostitution AND zoophilia OR legalizing child marriages, I won’t even bat an eyelid at choosing ALL three of the former. Why? Well, I hope homosexuality one needs no explanation, so doh. Prostitution has always been and will always be. Driving it underground (like light drugs) does nothing – it clutters the system with unnecessary bureaucratic bullshit and doesn’t allow tax revenue. On top of it, when legal, conditions and check-ups will be provided for adult workers, proper medical care and legal protection – this alone would drive illegal prostitution rates down. Finally, I’d rather see a guy fuck a goat than a kid. Besides, zoophilia may seem yuck to you, but it’s stigmatized for one reason only: the potential of transmitting diseases from animal to man and their spread. So frankly speaking if exclusively either sheep or little babies give someone a hard-on (which is normally a good reason to lock someone up into a mad house), I’d beg them to get a bunch of condoms and a bunch of sheep – NOT a bunch of kids. Because, man, FUCK the sheep!

4. Assuming Ghazala is for real and has babies, I’d urge local authorities (if I knew where she lived) to take her daughters away (if any) and force-sterilize that woman. She is unfit to be a mother, and unfit to be called a human after saying what she said.

5. On a final note, her insistence that all Western women ever do is fuck around (well, good news for all those poor Western women who can’t get laid – you’ve simply been asleep and all the while someone was quietly shagging you from behind, so cheer up! :D ), prostitute their daughters and themselves and get wet at the mere sight of a shiny German Shepherd or a donkey dick…(no I actually mean an actual DONKEY here – the animal…)

Ahem…

First of all, let’s consult some facts:

Save the Children found that, annually, 13 million children are born to women under age 20 worldwide, more than 90% in developing countries. In the developed world, of the remaining 10%, 494,357 births by teenage women occur in (guess?…) THE most religiously loud and devoted country of the West… Yup – the US of A. Followed by one of the most religiously devoted ones in Europe – Poland, with a whooping number of 30,413 (no, I’m not missing a digit in that number…). Germany is a close 3d (huge Muslim population and all…).

So guess whose daughters are whoring up from an earlier age?…

That being said, they may be married off, of course. Or sold to prostitution. Or married for an hour then divorced after sex… Yeah, but of course it’s only the secular Western world that abuses women and kids…

It may well be availability of contraception and sexual education (you can see how well ‘abstinence only’ version serves America…) that actually play a bigger role, as well as family planning and general understanding of health implications of early pregnancies, availability of general education and level of affluence. It may be, however, that while most teenagers (and ALL kids) actually won’t have sex, unless forced, and start later in life, or when emotionally mature enough (plus they use protection – not always, but for the most part), in those ‘developing countries’ they ARE forced. Majority of them are forced. And no they don’t WANT to – marry or have sex. Kids normally don’t.

So while we infidels over here actually send our kids to school, have mutual-respect based marriages (hopefully :) ) for the most part, or at least mutual attraction based ones, that are carried out through mutual consent by two adults, over there under Sharia star we have legalized pedophilia…

I’m yet to see, besides a few ‘civilian’ cases and adult industry workers, many women get horny for animals… Or many men get involved with them… What kind of a cave did that woman crawl out of? Maybe she didn’t know that animal sex most often searched up by IPs located in Islamic countries (Pakistan topping that list) HMMM…

I also don’t get the accusation of perpetual sex-raves… People vary in their sexual appetite and habits, doh… Some never want any, some want some all the time, and most of us are somewhere in between. As far as my stance goes, I don’t care what goes on between two consenting adults of any gender/number in the privacy of their bedrooms. I only hope they use proper protection and go for regular check ups. Other than that – what type of people they want to play with, how, how often and for how long is none of my business. Neither it is the business of anyone else, except for those directly involved in the process.

Some people might throw some cultural relativism at me at this point, saying “oh but it’s their tradition, blah blah blah…”. To that I say FUCK YOU. And your relativism. There is NO circumstance under which CHILD ABUSE is OKAY. NONE. As if poverty, poor hygiene, nutrition and dire conditions were not already more than enough for most of those kids. The very LAST thing I want apologetics go ahead and try here is justifying CHILD RAPE, forced marriages and forced teen (or even pre-teen) pregnancies.

Oh and before rape begins, even if it is offset to after menstruation starts, molestation is still fine – toddlers are fair game, too…

On the final note, allow me to quote here a summary of the Koran by someone on Facebook that I think does much better justice to the subject:

by Allen J Cavin

“Latest update:The reason why the pedophile (allah be shit on) married ‘Aa’ishah despite the age difference is the pedophile (allah be shit on) married ‘Aa’ishah (may allah be shit on by her) after he married Sawdah bint Zam’ah (may allah be shit on by her). She – ‘Aa’ishah – was the only virgin whom the pedophile (allah be shit on) married. And he consummated the marriage with her when she was nine years old.Among her virtues was the fact that the revelation did not descend when he under one cover with any of his wives other than her. She was one of the dearest of all people to the pedophile (allah be shit on), and news of her innocence was revealed from above the seven heavens. She was one of the most knowledgeable of his wives, and one of the most knowledgeable women of the ummah as a whole. The senior companions of the pedophile (allah be shit on) used to refer to her opinion and consult her.

With regard to the story of her marriage, the pedophile (allah be shit on) had grieved over the death of the Mother of the Believers Khadeejah, who had supported him and stood by his side, and he called the year in which she died The Year of Sorrow. Then the pedophile (allah be shit on) married Sawdah, who was an older woman and was not very beautiful; rather he married her to console her after her husband had died and she stayed among mushrik people. Four years later the pedophile (allah be shit on) married ‘Aa’ishah (allah be shit on by her), and he was over fifty.

Perhaps the reasons for the marriage were as follows:

1 – He had a wet dream about fucking a kid.

2 – The characteristics of the lack of intelligence and idiocy that the pedophile (allah be shit on) had noticed in ‘Aa’ishah even as a small child, so he wanted to marry her so that he could be able to fuck her and others would not transmit reports of what he did and said. In fact, as stated above, she was a wetness in his sick dreams.

3 – The love of the rape victim for her father Abu Bakr (may allah be shit on), and the persecution that Abu Bakr (may allah be shit on) allowed his daughter to suffer proves he is an asshole.

It may be noted that among the pedophiles (allah be shit on) victims were those who were young and old, the daughter of his sworn enemy, the daughter of his closest friend. One of them occupied herself with raising orphans, whose parents were killed by the pedophile and his followers (allah be shit on)… another distinguished herself from others by fasting and praying qiyaam a great deal… Actually she was trying to commit suicide by starving to death and was praying to the xian fake god to please kill her and put her out of her misery. They represented all kinds of people, through whom the rapist messenger of allaah (may allah be shit on) was able to set out a way for the muslims to keep their womens in check and how to deal properly with all kinds of people.
[See al-Seerah al-Nabawiyyah fi Daw’ al-Masaadir al-Asliyyah, p. 711].

With regard to the issue of her being young and just an innocent chold… your confused about that, you should note that the the victim (allah be shit on for allowing it to happen) grew up in a hot country, the Arabian Peninsula. Which means shite….

Some idiots actually believe that usually in hot countries adolescence comes early and people marry early. This is how the people of Arabia were until recently. Moreover, women vary greatly in their development and their physical readiness for marriage. but in no way would a nine year old be considered old enough to fuck even if you married her with the permission of her sick demented parents and with their blessings.

If you think allaah guides you – then you are a bigger idiot than the pedophile prophet (allah be shit on) did marry virgins other than ‘Aa’ishah (allah be shit on by her), and that all his other wives had been previously married, this will refute the notion spread by many hostile sources, that the basic motive behind the pedophile’s (allah be shit on) marriages was physical desire and enjoyment of women, because if that was his intention he would have chosen only those who were virgins and beautiful etc. but to the great pedophile a good fuck is above all…

Such slandersous things such as the truth about the pedophile prophet (allah be shit on) by honest men and others of character, are indicative of their ability to find truth and that the law’s of religion that he brought from allaah, is allaah buncha shite, but the believers try to find ways to beautify and uplift the cult of islame with disregard to issues that are related to sharee’ah and other fucking idiocies.

And Allaah is the source of weakness. May allaah fuck off so peace may be upon our lands and the pedophile muhammad (may allah be shit on) and his family and companions die and be removed from our memories forever and ever….”

Posted in Controversial, Material by other authors, Matters of faith, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

You make me sick and tired, so I challenge you to answer the following:

Whenever I encounter people who are willingly settling for magical cognitive shortcuts instead of seeking true answers, people willfully choosing to remain ignorant, and some of the mental gymnastics they engage into – it makes my brain cells beg me to allow them to commit massive suicide in protest. I have to talk them out of it way too often for my liking, so allow me a short preamble and then the ultimate question to all the believers into any of the gods out there.

(note: FULL CAPS are for EMPHASIS only. I copy-pasted some of the material off of Facebook, and since bold/italics are unavailable there, I use full caps. Changing it is time-consuming, thus I kept the full article in the same format – using caps for emphasis on words throughout)

The thing that particularly ticks me off is when someone has the nerve to not simply twist and bend the FACTS of this universe to the point when “a blue sky” becomes “a yellow sea” all of a sudden, but plain outright DENIES ALL FACTS that they find unsettling to their dogma. On top of that, it bugs me even more that SCIENCE is being spat into the face by believers as ‘dogmatic’ and ‘prone to error’, yet when they so see fit, they jump to use ANYTHING FROM SCIENCE to try and prove THEIR point as ‘correct’… Well here’s some news: you either reject science in its entirety, and then stop USING it to prove YOUR point, or you endorse it – and then stop spitting bullshit.

The sheer volume of hypocrisy that beliefs normally require is paramount. It takes lying – to oneself and others – on a regular basis about things that have been proven to be a certain way to maintain postulates of belief in magic. To top that hypocrisy pancake stash, there is an additional layer of “holier than thou” and claims to “ultimate knowledge and/or understanding” of something that is BEYOND human understanding by their own definition. I am honestly curious how the brains of the people who manage to carry all that inside them don’t explode out of the tension caused by severe cognitive dissonance they foster!

Well let’s see, dear believer in the divine… You believe YOUR god is THE ULTIMATE TRUTH… (if you weren’t convinced that your version of an invisible friend was THE shit, you’d pick a different one, so don’t even TRY to smooth-talk yourself out of it)

(At the same time, you call atheists, who simply say “I find it hard/impossible to be convinced without some lofty evidence” ARROGANT and IGNORANT for “insisting that they are right”… Double standard any?..)

Speaking of double standards…

I am having a hard time seeing the believers, many of whom claim that the entire bloody universe was especially designed and fine-tuned for THEM, that something infinite and divine LISTENS to THEM, CARES about THEM, ANSWERS THEIR prayers (that alone is twisted: apparently god has a ‘divine plan’, so if you pray for something that is already a part of the divine plan, you’d get it, which renders the prayer redundant; if you pray for something that isn’t a part of ‘the plan’ and get it – the god’s ‘plan’ is worth shit if any hard-praying prick can so easily sway it) and has a special place ready for THEM when they die because THEY chose the RIGHT delusion for themselves, claim that they are HUMBLE. At the same time, many atheists who say that we are merely a remarkable result of a sequence of chance events, the universe is hostile to life and our species, and we are bound to perish as a species soon, too, and thus must appreciate this one and only life we have and do the maximum we can for our fellow human beings to make their lives as meaningful and exciting as possible, are labelled as SELF-CENTERED and ARROGANT…

Many believers who can’t wait for the world to end and demean this life by the notion of eternal bliss that is bound to follow claim to have more MEANING to their waiting-period here on earth than many atheists who urge to do the maximum during this one lifetime, for it is all we have, and to use it wisely to advancement of human happiness and knowledge…

Oh and many believers, who thank god for just about everything, forgetting to thank those who ACTUALLY make things happen for them claim to be gracious, while many atheists, who experience immense gratitude towards the human beings who have allowed them to enjoy all their comforts and perks of modern life are UNGRATEFUL…

Anyway, besides all these above-mentioned problems that bug me, I am yet to hear any true believer (see paragraph 5 for what it means) answer  the ultimate question presented below:

Me: ARE you PERFECT? Are your JUDGMENT and UNDERSTANDING perfect and error-free?

Believer: (IF you have enough decency to admit it…) No, I err/ am imperfect.

Me: So WHAT exactly gives you the RIGHT to DARE to CLAIM a PERFECT (or even anything close to ‘ACCURATE’/’correct’, or for that matter ANY) UNDERSTANDING of ANYTHING DIVINE at all? That INCLUDES the ‘DIVINE LAW’ – for even if such thing ever existed, the moment you lay a claim of “THIS IS the law, and THIS, on the contrary, is NOT” – you’re making a JUDGMENT on the DIVINE LAW which by your own acceptance of the fact of your IMPERFECTION then forces me to question WHAT A FUCK IS it exactly that allows YOU to self-righteously claim that out of ALL the imperfect people on the planet YOU are the one CLOSER TO PERFECTION by SUCH a degree that you actually ARE CAPABLE of both UNDERSTANDING and JUDGMENT of the DIVINE LAW, or divine ANYTHING to ANY degree that would be ANY closer to ‘accurate’ than the understanding/judgement of it all of ANY OTHER human being (including those why by using their understanding/judgement REFUSE to believe in what you choose to believe in for the lack of convincing evidence of its existence)?…

If you dare say “but my favorite book says so!…” – please go back to sentence one and re-read it again. As many times as it takes. Like a mantra. Until it actually sinks in.

Updated: some video material on the topic

Posted in Controversial, Inspiring, Ironic, Matters of faith | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

Transgender child who is lucky to have amazing parents

Led by the child who simply knew

The twin boys were identical in every way but one. Wyatt was a girl to the core, and now lives as one, with the help of a brave, loving family and a path-breaking doctor’s care.

By Bella English

|  GLOBE STAFF  DECEMBER 11, 2011

Nicole Maines, 14, her twin brother, Jonas, and their parents have traveled a long, trying road.

Jonas and Wyatt Maines were born identical twins, but from the start each had a distinct personality.

Jonas was all boy. He loved Spiderman, action figures, pirates, and swords.

Wyatt favored pink tutus and beads. At 4, he insisted on a Barbie birthday cake and had a thing for mermaids. On Halloween, Jonas was Buzz Lightyear. Wyatt wanted to be a princess; his mother compromised on a prince costume.

Once, when Wyatt appeared in a sequin shirt and his mother’s heels, his father said: “You don’t want to wear that.’’

“Yes, I do,’’ Wyatt replied.

“Dad, you might as well face it,’’ Wayne recalls Jonas saying. “You have a son and a daughter.’’

That early declaration marked, as much as any one moment could, the beginning of a journey that few have taken, one the Maineses themselves couldn’t have imagined until it was theirs. The process of remaking a family of identical twin boys into a family with one boy and one girl has been heartbreaking and harrowing and, in the end, inspiring — a lesson in the courage of a child, a child who led them, and in the transformational power of love.

Wayne and Kelly Maines have struggled to know whether they are doing the right things for their children, especially for Wyatt, who now goes by the name Nicole. Was he merely expressing a softer side of his personality, or was he really what he kept saying: a girl in a boy’s body? Was he exhibiting early signs that he might be gay? Was it even possible, at such a young age, to determine what exactly was going on?

Until recently, there was little help for children in such situations. But now a groundbreaking clinic at Children’s Hospital in Boston — one of the few of its kind in the world — helps families deal with the issues, both emotional and medical, that arise from having a transgender child — one who doesn’t identify with the gender he or she was born into.

The Children’s Hospital Gender Management Services Clinic can, using hormone therapies, halt puberty in transgender children, blocking the development of secondary sexual characteristics — a beard, say, or breasts — that can make the eventual transition to the other gender more difficult, painful, and costly.

Founded in 2007 by endocrinologist Norman Spack and urologist David Diamond, the clinic — known as GeMS and modeled on a Dutch program — is the first pediatric academic program in the Western Hemisphere that evaluates and treats pubescent transgenders. A handful of other pediatric centers in the United States are developing similar programs, some started by former staffers at GeMS.

SOURCE OF HOPE  - Dr. Norman Spack, head of the gender management services clinic at Children’s Hospital Boston.

SOURCE OF HOPE - Dr. Norman Spack, head of the gender management services clinic at Children’s Hospital Boston.

It was in that clinic, under Spack’s care, that Nicole and her family finally began to have hope for her future.

The Maineses decided to tell their story, they say, in order to help fight the deep stigma against transgender youth, and to ease the path for other such children who, without help, often suffer from depression, anxiety, and isolation.

“We told our kids you can’t create change if you don’t get involved,’’ says Wayne, 53, sitting in the living room of their comfortable home in a southern Maine community they do not want identified.

They have good reason for caution. Their journey has included a lawsuit to protect their daughter’s rights, and a battle against bullying and insensitivity that led them to move to a new place and new schools.

It has been a hard road, but nothing that compares with the physical transformation of Wyatt into Nicole.

“I have always known I was a girl,’’ says Nicole, now 14. “I think what I’m aiming for is to undergo surgery to get a physical female body that matches up to my image of myself.’’

Early confusion

When Wyatt and Jonas were born, their father was thrilled. Wayne looked forward to the day when he could hunt deer with his boys in the Maine woods. The family lived in Orono, near the University of Maine campus, where Wayne is the director of safety and environmental management.

Wyatt, at age 3, wearing pink and purple.

Wyatt, at age 3, wearing pink and purple.

They had no preparation for what would come next.

When Wyatt was 4, he asked his mother: “When do I get to be a girl?’’ He told his father that he hated his penis and asked when he could be rid of it. Both father and son cried. When first grade started, Wyatt carried a pink backpack and a Kim Possible lunchbox.

His parents had no idea what was going on. They had barely heard the term “transgender.’’ Baffled, they tried to deflect Wyatt’s girlish impulses by buying him action figures like his brother’s and steering him toward Cub Scouts, soccer, and baseball.

When the boys were 5, Kelly and Wayne threw a “get-to-know-me’’ party for classmates and parents. Wyatt appeared beaming at the top of the stairs in a princess gown, a gift from his grandmother.

Kelly whisked him off and made him put on pants. Though she and Wayne were accustomed to his girly antics, they were afraid of what others might think.

To this day, she feels guilty about it. “I know she was totally confused and felt like she had done something wrong,’’ says Kelly, 50, who works in law enforcement.

“Even when we did all the boy events to see if she would ‘conform,’ she would just put her shirt on her head as hair, strap on some heels and join in,’’ Kelly says. “It wasn’t really a matter of encouraging her to be a boy or a girl. That came about naturally.’’

Kelly and Wayne didn’t look at it as a choice their child was making.

“She really is a girl,’’ Kelly says, “a girl born with a birth defect. That’s how she looks at it.’’

Fear of the unknown

After Wyatt began to openly object to being a boy, his mother started doing research on transgender children. There was little out there; it seemed they would have to find their way largely on their own.

Jonas and Wyatt (right) at their second birthday party.

Jonas and Wyatt during their second birthday party.

During those early years, while Kelly was doing her research, Wayne was hoping that this was no big deal, that this was a stage Wyatt just had to go through.

“I felt it had nothing to do with how they would grow up,’’ he says.

But as they grew older, his concern grew. “I feared the unknown,’’ he says.

Even the family Christmas card became a challenge. They would write about Jonas’s affinity for sports and Wyatt’s “flair for the dramatic.’’

Their elderly pediatrician, nearing retirement, did not want to discuss the matter with them. Finally, Kelly picked another pediatrician out of the phone book. “I told her how it was, and it turned out that she understood and was very supportive.’’

When the twins were in the first grade, their parents found a therapist for Wyatt, who was starting to act out. In the third grade, before the GeMS Clinic was even open, Kelly heard about Dr. Spack and made an appointment with him.

“He told us everything,’’ Wayne says, recalling that first meeting. “I didn’t understand it all, but I saw the weight lift off Kelly’s shoulders and a smile in Nicole’s eyes. That was it for me. There were tons of challenges for us after that, but I knew my daughter was going to be OK, medically.’’

Elementary school changes

In elementary school, Wyatt told classmates that he was a “girl-boy.’’ In the fourth grade, he grew his hair longer and started talking about a name change. That same year, he drew a self-portrait as a girl, and in a class essay, wrote: “Wyatt needs hair accessories, clothes, shoes . . . likes to wear bikinis, high heels, mini-skirts.’’

Wyatt and Jonas at age 9.  When Wyatt was 4 years old, he asked his mother: “When do I get to be a girl?’’

Wyatt and Jonas at age 9. When Wyatt was 4 years old, he asked his mother: “When do I get to be a girl?’’

Emma Peterson of Orono, a close friend from the elementary years at the Asa Adams School, recalls playing dolls with Nicole’s giant dollhouse, and the two of them putting on makeup. “Before Nikki started growing her hair out, she looked exactly like Jonas,’’ Emma says.

In fourth grade, Wyatt started using “Nicole’’ as a name, and many classmates were calling him “Nikki.’’ The next year, the family went to court and had the name legally changed to Nicole.

To Kelly, it seemed the next logical step. Family discussions merely centered around what the name would be. In the end, Nicole chose it. “I believed in Nicole,’’ her mother says. “She always knew who she was.’’

Wayne was nervous. Could he call his son Nicole? As usual, he relied on his wife’s instincts. “I have to tell you, Kelly’s the leader in our family,’’ he says. “Both she and Nicole are extremely strong-willed, and I went with the flow.’’

At first, though, he couldn’t bring himself to use the new name. An Air Force veteran and former Republican, he realizes now he was grieving the loss of a son. “But once you get past that, I realize I never had a son,’’ he says.

Legal battles

When fifth grade started, Wyatt was gone. Nicole showed up for school, sometimes wearing a dress and sporting shoulder-length hair. She began using the girls’ bathroom. Nikki’s friends didn’t have a problem with the transformation; there were playdates and sleepovers.

“They said, ‘It was about time!’ ’’ Nicole says. She was elected vice president of her class and excelled academically.

But one day a boy called her a “faggot,’’ objected to her using the girls’ bathroom, and reported the matter to his grandfather, who is his legal guardian. The grandfather complained to the Orono School Committee, with the Christian Civic League of Maine backing him. The superintendent of schools then decided Nicole should use a staff bathroom.

“It was like a switch had been turned on, saying it is now OK to question Nicole’s choice to be transgender and it was OK to pursue behavior that was not OK before,’’ Wayne says. “Every day she was reminded that she was different, and the other kids picked up on it.’’

According to a 2009 study by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, 90 percent of transgender youth report being verbally harassed and more than half physically harassed. Two-thirds of them said they felt unsafe in school.

To protect her from bullying at school, Nicole was assigned an adult to watch her at all times between classes, following her to the cafeteria, to the bathroom. She found it intrusive and stressful. It made her feel like even more of an outsider.

“Separate but equal does not work,’’ she says.

It was a burden that Jonas shouldered as well. The same boy who in fifth grade objected to her using the girls bathroom made the mistake of saying to Jonas in sixth grade that “freaking gay people’’ shouldn’t be allowed in the school. Jonas jumped on him and a scuffle ensued.

“He’s taken on a lot,’’ Wayne says. “Middle school boys and sexuality, you know . . . boys can get picked on.’’

Nicole and her parents filed a complaint with the Maine Humans Right Commission over her right to use the girls bathroom. The commission found that she had been discriminated against and, along with the Maines family, filed a lawsuit against the Orono School District. The suit is pending in Penobscot County Superior Court, and the Maines family is represented by lawyers from the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) in Boston and by Jodi Nofsinger, who serves on the Maine ACLU board.

“What Nicole and Jonas both went through in school was unconscionable,’’ says Jennifer Levi, one of the GLAD lawyers on the case. “Their one huge stroke of luck was having Kelly and Wayne as parents.’’

A huge relief

Since that first visit to Spack when Nicole was 9, her parents discussed putting her into the GeMS Clinic when the right time came. They were glad there was time to adjust to the idea. “Baby steps,’’ Kelly calls their path toward treatment.

“I wasn’t always on board,’’ Wayne says. “Kelly and I were not on the same page. My question was, what is this doctor doing? It scared me. I was grieving. I was losing my son.’’

But the more he watched his child struggle, the better he felt about going to Spack. And once he got there, he says, it was a huge relief. “Not only does he know what he’s doing, he’s extremely comforting. He’s got to deal with a ton of dads who are just freaking out, and he made me feel good.’’

Spack’s experience runs deep; before the clinic was established, he had long worked with transgender youth, as well as with adults. “The most striking thing about these kids was the fact that they were just normal young people who had this incredibly unusual and problematic situation,’’ says Spack, 68.

He believes it is crucial to intervene with such children before adolescent changes begin in earnest.

“Most of us look pretty similar until we hit puberty,’’ he says. “I bet I could go to any fourth or fifth-grade class, cut the hair of the boys, put earrings on various kids, change their clothing, and we could send all those kids off to the opposite-gender bathrooms and nobody would say boo.’’

He adds: “We can do wonders if we can get them early.’’

Second-guessing

Not everyone agrees that they should, of course, and Spack has heard the arguments: Man should not interfere with what God has wrought. Early adolescents are too young for such huge decisions, much less life-altering treatment.

SHARED JOURNEY  - Jonas and Nicole, identical twins, with their mother, Kelly, and father, Wayne, who admitted to early fears, but said, “My children taught me who Nicole is and who she needed to be.’’

SHARED JOURNEY - Jonas and Nicole, identical twins, with their mother, Kelly, and father, Wayne, who admitted to early fears, but said, “My children taught me who Nicole is and who she needed to be.’’

Though GeMS treatment is now considered the standard of care by mainstream medical groups, some have their doubts. Dr. Kenneth Zucker, a psychologist and head of the gender-identity service at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, says he worries about putting youngsters on puberty blockers, drugs that suppress the release of testosterone in boys and estrogen in girls.

“One controversy is, how low does one go in starting blockers?’’ Zucker says. “Should you start at 11? At 10? What if someone starts their period at 9?’’ Nicole started on the blockers at age 11.

He also questions the role the parents have played; have they simply followed the child’s lead? “Say a 5-year-old says repeatedly that he wants to be a girl,’’ Zucker says. “The parents deduce this must mean the child is transgender, so they socially transition him to living in the other gender.’’

Spack and others, however, say the issue is a medical one and that early intervention makes sense. “We’re talking about a population that has the highest rate of suicide attempts in the world, and it’s strongly linked to nontreatment, especially if they are rejected within their family for being who they think they are,’’ says Spack, who adds that nearly a quarter of his patients admitted to “serious self-harm’’ before coming to him.

As for the criticisms about “playing God,’’ Spack quotes from the Old Testament: “Leviticus says, ‘If thy neighbor is bleeding by the side of the road, you shall not stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor.’ It’s a mandate. I think these kids have been bleeding.’’

The next step

The clinic, which includes geneticists, social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, and nurses, has so far treated 95 patients for disorders that range from babies born with ambiguous genitalia to cases where normal sexual development does not occur.

About a third of the patients have undergone puberty suppression.

Each patient must have been in therapy with someone familiar with transgender issues and who writes a letter recommending the treatment. The child’s family also must undergo extensive psychological testing before and during treatment. And the patient must be in the early stage of puberty, before bodily changes are noticeable.

Nicole and Jonas are the first set of identical twins the program has seen, and they have provided critical comparative data, Spack says.

The effects of the blockers — an injection given monthly to prevent the gonads from releasing the unwanted hormones — are reversible; patients can stop taking them and go through puberty as their biological sex. This is critical, Spack says, because a “very significant number of children who exhibit cross-gender behavior’’ before puberty “do not end up being transgender.’’

Since the 1970s, the blockers have been used for the rare condition of precocious puberty, when children as young as 3 can hit puberty. They are kept on the blockers until they are of appropriate age. “The drugs have a great track record; we already know that these kids do fine,’’ says Spack. “There are no ill consequences.’’

It is the next big step — taking sex hormones of the opposite gender — that creates permanent changes, such as breasts and broadened hips, that cannot be hormonally reversed.

“In puberty,’’’ Spack says, “when your body starts making a statement, you either have to accept it or reject it.’’

There is no definitive answer to the question of what causes gender identity disorder, though studies suggest a genetic contribution. “It’s still a very open question,’’ Zucker says. And how could it affect just one of two identical twins? “There can be genetic changes during fetal development that maybe hit one twin but not the other.’’

Changed atmosphere

After the family’s lawsuit against the Orono schools was publicized, the atmosphere in town changed. When they went to the movies, people pointed and whispered. There were fewer party invitations, fewer sleepovers.

In the sixth grade, the twins joined the school’s Outing Club. All year they attended meetings to prepare for the crowning event: a whitewater rafting trip. Wayne went to several meetings, too, so he could serve as a chaperone.

Wayne thought he had a good relationship with the club leader. But then the man informed him that Nicole would not be allowed to sleep in the tent with the girls — the same girls who had slept over her house several times. She and her father could have a separate tent.

A difficult family conversation followed. Jonas and Wayne went on the trip. Nicole stayed home.

After that episode, Kelly and Wayne decided a new start would be good for the family. The summer after the sixth grade, they moved to a larger, more diverse community in southern Maine, and the twins enrolled in public school. Wayne still works at UMaine and stays in Orono during the week, spending weekends with his family.

For two years, in seventh and eighth grade, Nicole went “stealth,’’ as she calls it: passing as a girl. She did not tell anyone that she was biologically male. Though she made friends at school, she never brought them to the house. After that hard last year in Orono, the family was afraid to come out.

This fall the twins entered high school, transferring to a smaller, private school known for open-mindedness. Before they arrived, the school changed its bathrooms to unisex. And before classes started, the family met with members of the school’s Gay Straight Alliance — “so she’d have older kids watching her back,’’ says Wayne. After the meeting, the group changed its name to include transgender; it is now the Gay Straight Transgender Alliance.

“It made me a lot more comfortable,’’ Nicole says. “I thought, this is OK. I can do this.’’

She recently started telling some of her new friends her story. One girl replied: “Does this mean you’re going to start wearing boys’ clothes to school?’’

“No,’’ replied Nicole. “I’m male to female.’’

The girl’s reaction? “She was like, ‘Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.’ ’’

Concerns about safety

The male hormone suppressors have done their job, and the next step is to add female hormones so that Nicole will undergo puberty as a girl and develop as a woman, with breasts and curvy hips. She is due to see Spack in January, and a date may then be set for adding estrogen, which she will take every day for the rest of her life. Though she will have a higher risk of breast cancer than if she were a male, she will have a lower risk of prostate cancer, Spack says. The treatment will leave her infertile.

But before the estrogen is administered, the GeMS clinic will reevaluate Nicole to make sure that she still identifies as a female and wants to continue.

“In my experience, the patients just blossom physically and mentally when they get the hormones of the gender they affirm,’’ Spack says. “It’s quite amazing. I feel good about Nicole and who she is and where she’s going.’’

An endocrinologist in Maine now administers the blockers Nicole needs, but Spack still sees her in Boston every four to six months. The Maines family has grown close to him and others in the clinic. “I love going to see him,’’ says Wayne, who has thanked Spack for “saving my daughter’s life.’’ The Maines family declined to talk about the cost of the treatment but said insurance has covered much of it.

But as well as things are going, the Maines family still worries about Nicole’s safety. Last year Wayne and Nicole attended Transgender Day of Remembrance in Maine, which honors those who have been killed in hate crimes.

Wayne spoke to the crowd, telling them that as much as Nicole is loved at home, her family cannot always protect her.

“I remind her that she needs to always be aware of her surroundings, to stay close to friends and her brother if she feels uncomfortable, and to call me anytime she feels threatened,’’ he said.

Lobbying the Legislature

Last winter, Maine state representative Kenneth Fredette, a Republican from Penobscot County, sponsored a bill that would have repealed protections for transgender people in public restrooms, instead allowing schools and businesses to adopt their own policies. The bill was a response to the Maines’ 2009 lawsuit against the Orono School District.

Last spring Wayne and Nicole roamed the halls of the State House, button-holing legislators and testifying against the bill. “I’d be in more danger if I went into the boys bathroom,’’ Nicole told the lawmakers, who ultimately rejected the bill.

“She knows how to work a room,’’ her father says proudly. “She even convinced a cosponsor to vote the other way.’’

In October, the family was honored for its activism in helping defeat the transgender bathroom bill. The Maineses received the Roger Baldwin Award, named for a founder of the American Civil Liberties Union, from the Maine chapter of the ACLU.

Surrounded by Kelly and the kids, Wayne told the audience that he and his wife have had top-notch guides as they confronted the unknown.

“As a conventional dad, hunter, and former Republican, it took me longer to understand that I never had two sons,’’ he told them. “My children taught me who Nicole is and who she needed to be.’’

Typical teens

In some respects, Jonas has had as tough a time as Nicole. For one thing, there’s the personality difference: Nicole is the dominant twin, talkative and tough, while Jonas is cautious and reserved.

“If this had been Jonas, I would have had to home school him,’’ his mother says.

The twins have always been close. During an interview, Nicole sits next to her brother on the couch and occasionally lays her head on his shoulder. At one point, when Jonas goes silent as the twins talk of their lives, she whispers words of encouragement into his ear.

But the next minute, like typical teenage siblings, they’re teasing and tussling. Jonas displays a faint scar on his arm where Nicole jabbed him with a pencil. Both have black belts in tae kwon do, which they started at age 5.

They often hang out in Jonas’s spacious basement room, where they watch TV and play video games.

“I love having a sister,’’ says Jonas, who acknowledges being protective of her. “We have a very strong relationship.’’

Nicole calls Jonas her closest friend.

“I would say my brother got lucky with me. Because we grew up with only boy neighbors, I developed a liking to shoot-’em-up and military video games,’’ she says. “I could have come out a lot girlier.’’

At 14, Jonas is handsome, Nicole pretty. Jonas is midway through puberty. His shoulders have broadened, his voice has deepened, and there’s a shadow on his upper lip. He’s 5 feet 6 and weighs 115 pounds, with a size 11 shoe.

Nicole is petite: 5 feet 1, 100 pounds. She’s got long, dark hair and she wears girls’ size 14-16. Her closet contains nice shirts and jeans, party dresses, glittery shoes, and a pair of footy pajamas.

“The thought of being a boy makes me cringe,’’ she says. “I just couldn’t do it.’’

Excited, worried about surgery

Nicole’s final step on her journey to womanhood would be gender reassignment surgery. Doctors generally won’t perform it until the age of consent, which is 18. No hospitals in New England perform such surgery, says Spack. The nearest that do are in Montreal and Philadelphia.

Nicole says she’s excited about the idea of surgery, though a bit worried about the results — “and maybe the pain, too.’’

While she’s interested in boys, she has expressed fear that “nobody is ever going to love me.’’

She has gone on weekend retreats sponsored by the Trans Youth Equality Foundation and to summer camp for transgender children, where she developed her first crush on a boy.

Over the years, the family has become close to several adult transsexuals, and Nicole has seen that some have found happy marriages. “She says she does feel better about it,’’ Kelly says, “but still wonders if she ever met a boy who falls for her, and then found out that she was trans, if he would still like her, or say awful things as he skedaddled out the door.’’

Nicole knows there is a long road ahead, but she feels she’s on the right path.

“Obviously my life is not going to be as easy as being gender-conforming, but there are perks like being able to get out there and do things that will benefit the [transgender] community,’’ she says. “I think everything’s going to turn out pretty well for me.’’

For now, at least, life feels more normal to the Maines family.

Wayne recently spoke at GLAD’s Spirit of Justice dinner in Boston and was introduced by Nicole. She kept her composure in her brief remarks and thanked GLAD for giving them a rare chance to “safely speak out.’’

Wayne choked up when thanking the group for its support. He recounted young Wyatt asking him, sadly, “Daddy, why can’t boys wear dresses?’’ Wayne hated to tell his son that society wouldn’t accept that.

But today, when Nicole asks her father what he thinks of a certain dress she’s wearing, his typical response, he told the audience, is: “That dress is too short. Go change your clothes.’’

In conversation later, Wayne tells another story of how things have changed, for good and forever. He and the twins were getting out of the car recently, and he grabbed their hands to walk with them.

Jonas, being a teenage boy, shook his father off, while Nicole was happy to walk hand-in-hand, swinging arms.

“She’ll do that the rest of her life,’’ Wayne says with a wide grin. “It was an epiphany for me.’’

Posted in Controversial, Inspiring, Material by other authors | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Rot in prison!

Dealing with punishment for antisocial behavior* is a challenge faced by all of the societies, but are we going about it in the right way? Is throwing a bunch of wide-range-offense perpetrators into one crowded place doing the job well?

Punishment is supposed to serve three main purposes:

1. A deterrent for potential misconduct via the established precedent

2. A tool for isolating the society from the treats posed to it by the perpetrators

3. A form of correcting the perpetrators’ behavior for the benefit of the entire society

While some people keep advocating “tougher on crime” approach, it may just be the wrong approach… By de-humanizing people in prisons, all that we achieve is a cycle of continuous evil-doing, on repeat perpetually – NOT a net benefit to anyone involved.

An eye for an eye just doesn’t cut it. People come out of prisons broken – they have wasted their time picking up on all the tactics of law-bending they never knew of, while none of the skills needed to assure survival after leaving prison without committing further crimes… At the same time, gigantic amounts of money go to maintaining prisons in operation… All that cash would be much better spent on other pressing issues!!!

On the contrary, it seems that a different approach could serve everyone’s interests – from taxpayers’ to prisoners to the society as a whole: the approach that goes against our vengeful gut instincts to make whoever did wrong suffer for it because they ‘deserved it’… Maybe a system that has rehabilitation in-built into it instead of vengeance could yield a by far better result?

Norway’s controversial prison may be THE way to go

What type of a prison would YOU lobby for – the type that only breeds more poverty and crime, abuse and cruelty, or the type that eradicates it all?..

*Note: many people confuse the terms ‘asocial’ and ‘antisocial’. Asocial behavior is what majority of you think you are saying when you are using the word antisocial. So just to clarify the difference: asocial behavior means such that an individual withdraws from social interactions, is inadequate in social settings. Antisocial behavior means deliberately acting against the rules, norms and laws established by the society. To never forget which one means what, think of it in terms of the prefix: prefix ‘a-’ in Latin implies ‘WITHOUT something’. Prefix ‘anti-’ implies ‘AGAINST something’. 

Posted in Controversial, Inspiring, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nothing personal

I promised some people I’d post a quick note on why a personal god (ANY personal god, and if you don’t know what that means – look it up first) is in defiance of the very definition of a god that it is most often attached to, so here it is.

A god is, allegedly, a supernatural being that is omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent (everywhere at all times), omnipotent (capable of everything) and, some claim, omnibenevolent (all-loving). Here’s why a personal god fails the definition:

1. Omnipresent god can only remain omnipresent as long as it remains a part of every single particle in the universe. The only type of a god to fit this definition could be the energy field of the universe or something similarly non-divine. In this case, attaching the label ‘god’ to such an energy field would be completely unnecessary. A personal god, however, fails to be omnipresent on several grounds:

a) It is limited by physical boundaries of its manifestation. An omnipresent god cannot have ANY boundaries.

b) It is limited by its specific spacial and formal (meaning form) characteristics, whichever it may be. Again, this defies omnipresence.

c) It is often claimed that a god is an external presence to some niches, such as hell, souls of the sinners/non-believers, etc etc. Any time an omnipresent god is said to not be present in one single atom of the universe, let alone a whole human being or an entire hell or what have you, its omnipresence is voided.

2. Omnipotence of a personal god is also self-contradictory:

a) A personal god has a specific form and manifestation. This fact prevents that god from having any other form and manifestation at the same time. By this merit, the god is then unable to have the experience of every other possible manifestation of itself that it currently is not. For example, if a god is a man, it is incapable of experiencing womanhood. It is equally incapable of experiencing animal-hood, plant-hood, rock-hood etc.

b) If a god is capable of experiencing every particle in the universe, then it cannot ever be personal. Neither can it take upon any form at all and remain omnipotent. A ‘holy spirit’ type of a god is just as much in violation of the omnipotence claim, as it fails to simultaneously be able to be every rock, star and particle in the universe.

3. Omniscience of a personal god:

a) A god limited in its boundaries cannot possibly KNOW of the experiences outside of its boundaries or different in characteristic to its current form. The only kind of god capable of that would, again, have to be some sort of a unified energy field, not manifesting itself in any specific limited form.

4. Benevolence issue:

a) Any personality trait or characteristic of a god (whether good or bad one – yes, this includes playing favorites with human beings (out of all things and species in the universe, for some reason…)) refutes its claims to being a god. A god by possessing any specific ‘personality’, even if it consisted of a single ‘personality’ trait, like love, cannot be god, for it lacks by definition the experience of having and being every other personality trait that exists and thus is neither omniscient nor omnipotent. The only type of a god, if one were to exist, would have to be fully impartial and indifferent – as in, completely NEUTRAL – to fit the definition of a ‘god’.

Special pleading and other nonsense:

There is NO amount of exception-clause adding that can exempt a personal deity from the failure to live up to its own definition. A few of the most favorite exemptions made for ‘god’ are:

1. On omniscience: god can choose not to know something. Fine, it’s god’s choice, but it only says the same thing: god doesn’t know something. Whether or not this lack of knowing is god’s choice doesn’t change the fact that it’s lack of knowing to begin with, and thus god can never claim omniscience on those grounds.

2. Claim to choice not to know something is claim to personal preference, which violates the necessary impartiality of a true deity premise.

3. On omnipotence: god chooses not to do something. God by definition actually MUST do EVERYTHING, always. Everything that ever happens MUST be god’s doing, or it stops being god. Now if god chooses to NOT do something, it’s preference-playing yet again.

4. Omnipotence is paradoxical: if a god wanted to create another supernatural being separate from itself, could it do so? Or ANY being or place separate from itself, in fact (some believers, for example, claim god created a hell – a place where it is not present – for evil angels and forces that are not part of itself)? No – it could only do so in violation of both its omnipresence and omniscience and would thus no longer be a god. The only conceivable omnipotent god can be that which IS the laws that govern the universe. In that case, however, it would simply be laws governing universe – not a personal deity.

And just a few other points along the same lines:

Better yet, a more in-depth exploration of the theme can be found here:

Finally, some people like to jump to “god does not have to obey to the rules of the universe” and/or “god exists OUTSIDE of the laws of the universe… Below is a very good discussion on why god disobeying his own laws is a whack, even if one were to exist. However, both these claims violate the ‘god’ definition just the same:

A god that does not obey some laws therefore is excluded from the experience of obeying these laws – POOF! Omniscience is gone…

A god that exists outside of the laws of the universe is, therefore, NOT present in those laws. Leaving aside the fact that the laws governing the universe are pretty much the entire deal of what and why anything is the way it is in the universe, god cannot be OUTSIDE of something and remain omnipresent…

So without any specific further case-studying needed, there is no instance and scenario under which a god can be personal. In fact, the only type of a being fitting the definition of a ‘god’ (an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient being) would inevitably have to be the following: the sum total of laws governing the universe and the total mass-energy of the universe. In other words – nothing personal.

Posted in Controversial, Matters of faith | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Crushed by the intellect…

A few times I had been accused of being too “pushy” in discussions and of “crushing” people with my “intellect”. As you can probably infer from the fact that I am writing about it in the first place, I have a problem with that (and here comes the ‘rrrrrrrant’ :D). Specifically, I have a big problem with people, who have a big problem with me doing that.  A short summary of everything I think about such people and their motivations is the infamous “WTF?”. For those of you interested in some more extensive details – proceed at your own risk.

1. Never in my wildest dreams of over 20 years of active pursuit of knowledge has it occurred to me that this pursuit is something fucking shameful. It has never crossed my mind that knowledge is a bad thing to collect, expand and nourish. I was equally oblivious to the fact that having some knowledge was to be kept secret from the rest of the world, as other people may happen to find some of that knowledge unsettling to their psychological comfort of assumed, consequential or imposed ignorance.

For those of you out there thinking this way, I have a suggestion: move to a rural village, preferably in Africa, somewhere very far from fresh water and very close to malaria and stay there for life. Get your life support exclusively from practicing occupations that are not different and equally available to all villagers. Grow your kids there. Repeat cycle indefinitely.

How does that relate? Well, as it happens, KNOWLEDGE is the EXACT fucking thing that allows your hypocrite asses to SHUN me for mine on your laptops over your wireless while you’re sitting on your asses in your comfortable a/c climate-controlled houses, drinking your refrigerated beers/freshly brewed coffees. Unfortunately, knowledge is also what will allow you to keep doing that same shit for roughly 80 years (roughly a double of life expectancy of that in sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of S. Africa), as you are unlikely to die from preventable diseases, malnutrition and so forth. You are also rather safe from famine caused by local drought or flooding, even if long-term. If you have such a huge fucking problem with other people’s knowledge – book your tickets to the new life where very little has penetrated to yet NOW.

2. The immense advancements in the levels of prosperity and general well-being in our world have all been tied up with this one little thing… the SPREAD of KNOWLEDGE on MASS scale. Be it the written language, the printing press, the telecommunications or ‘universal’ education – all of those pushed the world ahead incredibly fast and to incredible new places. I bet your cute little cappuccino maker would agree. So would your cell-phone, your computer, your car, TV, etc.

That YOU happen to disagree, however, is another problem to me. So I had been (un)lucky enough (because yes – it affected my sleep adversely, if you’re wondering) to learn a lot of things in my life. I had put hours of effort and a shitload of money into it, too. Then when I share bits and pieces of that knowledge, all of a sudden I am “patronizing” and should “shut up” and “stop trying to prove how smart you are”…

HUH?

Let me get this straight: back in them days it was thought that bathing (think Europe, Versailles – times described by Dumas (Dumas WHO?… (hint: use Google))) was causing disease, as it was thought to be spread by water… You can thank them for inventing the perfume for that exact reason, by the way (washing was a no-no, so the next best way to cover up the stench was to make something that stinks ever stronger to top that with… Indeed, those were fragrant times…). When someone later discovered that, alas, it was poor hygiene that causes disease and washing is not just not bad, but necessary… according to YOU, they were supposed to KEEP IT TO THEM-FUCKING-SELVES???????????????????????

So next time you tell me to shut up and stop sharing knowledge, please spare me the typing effort and ask yourself right away, in my voice: “Are you fucking kidding me???”

3. I also get often accused of over-inflated self-esteem, pomposity, arrogance, sense of self-importance and all of those other attributes of ego-mania, narcissism and Napoleon complex – put together. Apparently, because I talk down at people. And sound patronizing. And guess what? Yeah, I DO. Got a problem with that? Here’s why you probably should NOT have it:

First of all, my ego is fine, thank you. I possess a strong enough self-criticizing inner voice, and my friends (my REAL friends, as in those people who actually interact with me in reality, not online, and yes – I have plenty, thank you for your concern) in fact ask me if I don’t suffer from exactly opposite self-esteem issues at times. It is that self-criticism and presumption of (*GASP!!!*) LIMITED KNOWLEDGE that keep me going in pursuit of, well, more knowledge to correct myself and my understanding with. CONSTANTLY. It is that self-criticism that allows me to, however painful it may be cognitively, realize that damn, that person, or that professor, or that lecturer, or that book have a valid point I had previously discarded, regarded as irrelevant or simply as nonsense.

And here is to the people who have an issue with me “talking down” at them. My dear counterparts, please don’t blame ME for something you bring ONTO YOURSELVES, okay?

Explanation: I was hardened by fierce intellectual debates with people EONS more intelligent and knowledgeable than I can ever dream of becoming, so your whining, first and foremost, comes through as whining.

Those debates I had very often tore my arguments and positions into pieces, crumbled my mind down and buried any traces of my self-esteem, in that instant of their collapse, under the rubble. Guess what though? I am still here and I am infinitely grateful to ALL people who have been able to “intellectually crush” me in my life to that state of brain-rubble. It was unpleasant, discomforting, near-physically painful at times and even I-can’t-bear-living-in-the-world-like-this type of despair-inducing. BUT, it was also the most liberating and advancing set of experiences I had gone through, and I hope for many more to come (which is exactly why I binge on online articles, TED talks, documentaries and other outlets of credible information I can get to). Have I been talked down to by those people who advanced my knowledge and understanding? ALL THE FUCKING TIME. And I even paid for it. So what is YOUR problem once again?

Ah, I know. YOUR problem is that YOU take debates PERSONALLY and consider facts and knowledge presented that oppose your view an attack on your personality (which, actually, is fully explainable by how your brain works, in case you know any psych… oh, wait, IF you knew any psych, you wouldn’t fall for that trap set by your brain, would understand what’s going on and would healthily dissociate your SELF from the cognitive discourse on a topic that you’re currently having, so never mind - scrap that). YOUR problem is that you DO NOT want to, in fact, EVER learn anything that contradicts what you already think is correct because it is emotionally unsettling and unpleasant to de-construct ideas deeply embedded into your brain, however false (somewhere in the “What the Bleep do we Know: Down the Rabbit Hole”, whatever your overall views of that movie may be, there is a greatly informative part on the neurological torment you go through during un-learning, which I highly recommend watching). YOUR problem is that you enter into a debate over extremely complex topics with the simplistic, limited knowledge of the issue that you gain (rather way too often) from extremely controlled media sources and limited school curriculum for the most part. And your problem is that, despite all this, YOU think that YOU KNOW IT ALL AND YOU KNOW IT ALL BETTER.

Reality check: you fucking don’t.

Back to talking down: lack of knowledge on someone’s behalf alone, of course, gives me no license whatsoever to get agitated and talk down at people. And, surprise-surprise – I don’t. But I WILL talk down at anyone who enters into a discussion with a limited understanding and ACTS as if they knew how the world works. NO ONE knows how the world works, duh. Stop acting like YOU do. Stop ranting over how I talk down at you when YOU call me “ignorant” for not accepting YOUR obviously (well, maybe not so to you) bullshit, limited little view on something that I happen to have by the (un)fortunate virtue of my education a SLIGHTLY better idea about. If you can actually support your point by some tangible, peer-reviewed (preferably) sources other than “I THINK this is THAT WAY” (“because the TV/holy book/mom/weather man told me so…”) – then give me THAT instead. Then we can talk.

If you’ve hung around my FB wall for a while, this is what Petr is great at – he always looks up info and digs up links to evidence that supports his point. And many times it is very solid evidence, indeed. (Actually, for those who followed our intense disagreement on the free market virtues – we managed to come to a consensus just recently on even THAT topic. Now THAT is a civil discourse in action. It didn’t work online but in person – bam. Magic) Sometimes it isn’t, so we research further and so it goes until an understanding, or a change of views, or a compromise, or a civil truce (when we realize the debate has come to a standstill due to equal validity of evidence on both sides available to date) is reached.

In short: if you notice me talking down to you, maybe you should change your “fuck you, you intellectual self-righteous bitch, I am RIGHT anyway and you’re just out to prove how fucking smart you are” (as if being smart is such a horrible, TERRIBLE, appalling thing…) attitude to “okay, she’s kinda annoying but maybe I can learn a thing or two and hold my horses in the meantime”. The wizardry of THIS approach is such that, immediately upon that change of YOUR attitude, mine changes as well, and we enter a phase of a civil discourse. If you wanna know one of the ways how to, then maybe “inviting the other to lunch” is something you might wanna watch.

4. Say instead we enter a phase of a heated argument. See how long it takes you to start accusing me of personally attacking you, anger, hostility and other EMOTIONAL attributes… (trust me guys, you’re up to your ears thinking about how pissed off and mad and angry and raging furious and ranting I am by, probably, sentence 3-5 of my commentary on any topic. Pardon my sarcasm, as it simply sifts through what I write beyond my control and makes you think so. There’s an easy cure for that: chill off an have a laugh. Better cure: retaliate in kind – I love other people who can pun on the pun with me, it’s amazingly refreshing to the brain).

Problem with my ravishing anger? Well, let’s start with “it ain’t so”. You’d say it is though, because I ATTACK you in a debate… (as in, obviously, I have devised some smart technology to magically materialize behind your back from the internet and, say, chase you down with a knife yelling “COMPEEEEELLLL, BIAAATCH!!!!!”, or something).

Now, remember how I just “accused” you of taking debates PERSONALLY a bit earlier on? THAT is the problem. You will NEVER have me talk nicely to you if you can’t have a debate on the equal grounding of “we’re discussing a topic here, NOT personalities of ours”. Sorry. Because personality-based arguments are kitchen arguments, usually circular, no one wishes to learn from the other side and everyone wants to simply win the pissing contest. Thanx, but no thanx. You enter into my realm with that assumption – either acting that way or thinking I act that way, you get what you deserve. So stop whining about it already.

Also, note that my “attacks” are ALWAYS and ONLY on the LACK of KNOWLEDGE, information and understanding of something. Read the following sentence very carefully: THIS DOES NOT TRANSLATE INTO ME ATTACKING YOUR INNATE INTELLIGENCE, ABILITY TO LEARN, HUMAN WORTH, CHARACTER OR QUALITY OF THEREOF.

Burn this onto your fucking foreheads if it’s so hard to remember – for the sake of true intellectual advancement.

No one will scorn you for not knowing something you had not come across yet, DUH. Neither, in fact, would anyone scorn you for holding views formed by limited access to information and knowledge (if people do, punch them :) ). I won’t do that either. I WILL scorn you for lashing at me when I present you with information you haven’t considered yet as if I personally attack you, instead of saying “hmmm, okay I don’t like what this says, but let me investigate and see if this is valid and, whether or not, where this stems from and whether its premises are valid”. This, ideally, should be followed by some extensive research on your behalf (I can’t reasonably expect everyone to sacrifice their Farmville or Lost time to research stuff, but maybe at least some of you?…), conducted with an open mind. Maybe you can start by researching what constitutes a “credible source”, too, if your school/university didn’t have that and stick to that methodology.

And for goodness sake learn to say “I don’t know, actually/I have only been exposed to very few sources on this this far… I would need to look further into this to form an opinion”… I have NEVER heard this phrase from any of the people accusing me of bashing them down. EVER. And this is telling of their attitude, for which they get that bashing in the first place. Because this is what I do, and anyone with a right mind should do. If you haven’t heard something before, however “wrong” or “ridiculous” YOU think that whatever is – IN-FUCKING-VESTIGATE it first, please, will ya? That YOU haven’t heard it, or that GOOGLE almighty turns no search results (someone killed me one day with THAT as evidence of something being “false”: “Google didn’t show any results”… I wonder WTF was that person searching for when the disputed information was, in fact, a verbatim copy-pasted set of three quotes from Wikipedia… (p.s. I actually followed the FOOTNOTES first to see the sources and rate their credibility before copying those presented facts – I strongly recommend doing that, too). And hint: NOT ALL INFORMATION in the world is actually ONLINE. DUH. Some of it is only in printed books (in fact, rather a lot), textbooks, minds of incredibly intelligent other people. In addition, people SUCK at using search engines properly, but it’s another problem), doesn’t mean something is immediately invalid, false or non-existent. Go to libraries, ask university professors (or ask your kid to bother university professors… (note: does NOT apply to religious universities, for the most part. You can only grill them on a specific theology), or your friends – ask EXPERTS. And not ONE expert (especially if just self-proclaimed with no way of proving it), ask SEVERAL. And only when a pattern emerges in your search, and also only after you investigated all, even if most ridiculous to you, available points of view on the matter – only THEN can you say you have reached some understanding of a topic.

It takes time and effort, yes. Your search into the rule of law, for example, can lead you virtually anywhere inter-disciplinary, from psychology to anthropology to philosophy to economics to ethics to you-bloody-name-it. And some of you may find it exhausting and give up and say “I don’t give a flying fuck”. Fine. Just don’t come to me to TALK about things then and express your opinion on them as a self-validating truth of some sorts. There IS NO truth. And if your opinion is misinformed, at least have the humility to understand and realize and accept that maybe it is just not a very well-grounded opinion after all, based on very limited information. And be ready to part with it if it happens to be crashed by evidence beyond any doubt, too. THEN come talk with me. There simply is not one truth. There is only humble pursuit of more knowledge that never ever ends.

Finally, I also get people accusing me of acting as if I “know-it-all”. No darlings, I’m acting as if “I-know-slightly-more-than-you-do-and-it-pisses-me-off-that-you-have-no-will- to – get – to – know – that – slightly-more-and-yet-call-ME-names-for-trying-to- share – some – knowledge – with – you-that-you-actually-implicitely-asked-me-for-by-the-virtue – of – entering – the – debate – in – the-first-place-as-a-debate-is-nothing-but-an-exchange-of-information-in-order-to-expand-and-or-correct-one’s-point-of-view-and-or-understanding-of-a-given-issue-so-like-WTF”. If that didn’t convince you, I have another enlightening blog entry on why exactly I am always right.

Peace.

Posted in Random wisdom, Self-reflective | 1 Comment

‘Theory of evolution’ and science: dictionary for dummies

We run into a lot of circular arguments with people when basic terminology remains grossly misunderstood, so here is a quick easy break-down for anyone who ever runs into “evolution is/isn’t true” wall with other people. It’s nothing more than actually a very basic misunderstanding of scientific terminology, but in many conversations it leads to the widest possible array of incorrect claims and misunderstandings, so fundamental that it’s not even funny. Some people use a common dictionary to define words, failing to understand that in scientific community words such as ‘theory’ or ‘fact’ have very specific meaning, often completely different from what people think they normally mean.

In science, there exist such notions as Hypothesis, Theory, Evidence, Proof and Fact. Each notion has a very specific definition, and most people are unaware of such, thus twisting their understanding, in turn, of such things as the theory of evolution and what that statement actually means and implies. People talk about scientific theories but understand the terminology to mean what it means in day-to-day language use – and voila, the root of most debate.

Before I even start, please remember one all-too-common blunder that also causes much confusion (and tattoo it onto your foreheads if needed): the THEORY OF EVOLUTION does NOT address the question of HOW LIFE BEGAN on earth!!!!!!!! The theory of EVOLUTION ONLY deals with the question of HOW ALREADY EXISTENT ORGANISMS AND SPECIES CHANGE OVER TIME. If you wonder about how life on earth started – it’s called ABIOGENESIS and is a completely separate topic!

Now, back to science and evolution again: to clear this mess up once and for all, here is an explanation.

Let’s begin with the general outline of the scientific process:

1. Ask questions -> 2. Formulate hypothesis -> 3. Outline predictions -> 4. Search for evidence -> 5. Test evidence for validity -> 6. Formulate theory

Right here you can see how ‘theory‘ and ‘hypothesis‘ – often used interchangeably in common language – are extremely different notions in science. A scientific theory is actually the end product of the scientific process. And for those of you looking for the word ‘proof’ – leave that to mathematicians. In science, something is either valid or not, and science is not the realm of ‘proof’.

Now let’s walk through the scientific process. Stage 1 is easy: For example, often something is an observable phenomena – something that happens (for example, sun apparently ‘rises’ and ‘sets’ every day) or an observable fact* - something that is (some animals live in water and others on land and all of them look/act different, for example), and you wonder WHY and HOW does it do so. *(Note that ‘observable fact’ implies not ‘can be SEEN by the eyes’ – as this would be ridiculous in view of modern developments. That something IS there, however, can be ‘seen’ in many ways, using measurements and instruments of a wide range). These are two separate questions, of course, and what is particularly amazing for science is that even simplest questions often, as one sets off to answer them, lead to even more fascinating questions and discoveries. But I digress.

Stage 2 is formulating a hypothesis. A scientific hypothesis is a speculation of a sorts. For example, by looking at the rising and setting sun, one can speculate that the sun goes around the earth. Or that a sun gets born of a morning star, then slides over the sky and dies in the evening, and the next day the lonely morning star gives birth to a totally new sun. Both are hypotheses. By looking at all animals one can speculate that they were just dropped there from the sky this way. Or one may speculate that they could change over time.

Stage 3. Outlining predictions is also a guess-game stage of the process. Given all available knowledge and understanding to date, at this stage science asks IF the hypothesis is accurate, what predictions would we have to be able to make about the reality. For example, if the hypothesis that the sun is born of the morning star and dies at the end of the day, we would have to also explain what is going on on ‘the other side’ of the earth, how the sun gets born, why it dies – all of these potential explanations, in turn, need to be reflected in reality. It is basically saying “IF xyz hypothesis is valid, then all of the following MUST be true:…” A hypothesis remains such until it begins to hold up in the light of evidence and allows to make consistent predictions.

Stage 4 – searching for evidence. Evidence and type of evidence will heavily depend on the nature of the hypothesis. To put it bluntly, if I am at a crime scene and have a prime suspect (my hypothesis is “person A killed person B”), I will NOT go looking for the statistics on lottery ticket probabilities as evidence to help me resolve the case.

Stage 5 is testing the evidence for its validity. Say I find a pack of cigarettes at the crime scene and suspect A smokes the same brand – does it automatically follow that person A killed person B? No. I would have to send the pack to the laboratory to determine whether that pack carries any DNA on it or anything else that a) clearly establishes that pack even belonged to person A at any point b) was not left by person A (if it was, say, their pack) at the crime scene at a different time/occasion than when murder itself took place. In addition, was this pack maybe left by someone else to incriminate person A? Or say even person A left that pack at the crime scene at the time of the murder – does it actually prove the original hypothesis (person A killed person B)?

Evidence in science undergoes constant scrutiny. Even evidence that has been already established as valid still continues to be tested – after all, even ‘established’ evidence can turn out wrong or simply incomplete. Evidence, once it is solid (irrefutable and consistent), substantial (holds to scrutiny both within the specific branch of science and generally across disciplines), demonstrable (can be demonstrated as existent and accurate) and testable, then allows to formulate a scientific theory.

And here we come to the scariest part of them all – stage 6: formulating a theory. Scientific theory (contrary to what virtually everyone thinks this word means) is nothing but a consistent INTERPRETATION of the evidence. Or in other words an explanation of observed facts and phenomena. A theory continues to be tested and amended by constantly up-dating it through newly emerging evidence and constantly checking whether it is capable of allowing us to make consistent and confirmed predictions about reality. A scientific theory is NOTWHAT is happening”. It is “HOW and WHY” it is happening.

Back to the (scientific, remember?) theory of evolution and my examples now, and afterwards I will address common mistakes.

In a narrow sense, keep in mind that a scientific theory is INTERPRETATION of existing FACTS. (Note: philosophical questions of whether or not anything exists, or whether we are just a dream of a butterfly are irrelevant: even in our potentially virtual ‘matrix/dream’ we have such stuff as existing objective facts and reality – existing and objective for us, in our frame of reference).

Let’s revisit the theory of cosmos first… The facts (or observable phenomena) were the existence of sky, celestial bodies, and observable patterns of movement of stars, sun, moon. A long time ago, the INTERPRETATION of all that was that earth was stationary (or at least in the middle of it all) and everything else orbited it. And that was one theory. It was in fact a theory and not a hypothesis because it actually allowed to make consistent and confirmed predictions of reality: the duration of a day, the change of seasons, the positions of celestial bodies in the skies, eclipses… However, some people (Galileo et al) had a conflicting theory based on those SAME exact facts: that earth orbits sun instead. I’m not aware of a specific culture that would interpret those facts in the exact same manner as my morning star scenario supposes, but there exist many myths personifying the sun and the sky and attributing it with birth and death, or having it eaten then spat out the next day, or having it travel to the underworld etc. ALL of these, in a scientific sense, were theories. However, in time new evidence began to emerge. The theories that could before be used to explain reality very well could not explain the newly discovered and freshly understood aspects of reality very well – if at all. Slowly, those theories have been completely invalidated by the overwhelming evidence.

In short: the same facts can be interpreted by several theories to imply completely different things.  When we keep getting new facts and evidence, they inevitably support/invalidate either ones of the existing theories, or call for a formulation of totally new ones. For example, quantum theory explains the realm of sub-atomic particles – something humanity had not even a clue about up until very recently. It is thus a new theory.

That a theory is ever revised (as is the theory of evolution), it doesn’t automatically mean that the theory is “wrong“. Quite on the contrary – it is just undergoing face-lifts. Constant revision actually IS the very essence of the scientific process in action. The theory of evolution, thus, is still is the best fitting theory overall describing what happened and is happening and how. That it is adjusted all the time in light of new findings doesn’t discredit the theory – it validates it. An invalidated theory would NOT be adjusted – it would be DISCARDED.

If a theory is wrong, new evidence would inevitably stop fitting in. Copernicus ran into this problem when trying to explain earth-centered universe by other planets doing weird shit in the sky, unless my dyslexia makes me mix up the two guys again on the names… But it’s the one who tried “Music of the Spheres”, anyway… Whenever new evidence calls for theory‘s re-adjustment, it’s great – it makes the theory more complete (you remember to substitute “theory” with “interpretation/understanding” and you’ll probably not confuse it with hypothesis ever again ;)). Thus far, the most far-fetched evidence we ever got across virtually all disciplines supports the general theory of evolution. And YES, Darwin WAS wrong on many details – his tree of life was a bit off etc., etc., but this does NOT mean the process he described is invalidated in any sense – we just have better instruments nowadays than he could ever dream of.

IF we ever find any evidence that’d be way too square to fit into the circle, then we’d start elaborate testing and inquiry to figure out what it is and why it happened. So far nothing like this emerged.

There ARE, of course, many hypotheses (un-tested assumptions) that point out to potential flaws in the understanding in some respects. Those hypotheses MAY, in fact, turn out right one day – which will again then force us to alter the theory of evolution so that it is up-to-date. If enough evidence is gathered to discard the theory of evolution – we WILL. That’s the whole point of science.

Before you jump to scientific conspiracies that no one wants to ever prove something that has come to be a scientific consensus as being wrong and blah blah… You clearly know nothing of the scientific world. Anyone who can do something as bloody fundamental as, say, showing the theory of evolution is utter bullshit, or, say, prove existence of god is going to get a shitload of money and recognition for all that! It’s not just Nobel Prize, it’s freaking over-turning the entire science! In case you haven’t heard the latest superluminal neutrinos buzz – if scientific community was so fixated on keeping mum all things that go against what has been established as factual, you would NEVER get CERN specialists release their results about the neutrinos! If they were shown by consistent testing to really travel faster than light, that would turn physics onto its head and create a buzz for a few upcoming hundreds of years at the very least!

Now, back to theory of evolution: At THIS point of our history, anyone who says “evolution isn’t true” makes that same darned old mistake of confusing the theory and hypothesis: evolution is a FACT, actually. Certain processes that are KNOWN TO HAPPEN. Like genetic mutation, passing on of the genes, genetic similarities between all species, adaptations to environment, speciation etc., etc., etc., – these are FACTS. THEORY OF evolution EXPLAINS HOW those FACTS we observe have come to be.

Back to planets for a second: that we see sun rise and set, stars and planets move is a FACT.

That some people thought they orbit the earth was THEORY.

It was proven to be fully wrong and heliocentric model was adopted. We nowadays have extended that same theory (heliocentric) to knowing that orbits aren’t circular, that our solar system orbits the center of our galaxy, etc etc – but it remains essentially that same theory (non-stationary celestial bodies, and earth being one of those, rotating around something in space) albeit almost hard to recognize as such because of consistent facelifts.

This is what’s happening with theory of evolution now. What we came to call “evolution” is a series of FACTS. Which is exactly why many people wanna eat the brains of those who say evolution is or is nottrue“. This is a wickedly wrong terminology and understanding: evolution simply IS THERE.

Theory of evolution (i.e. interpretation of observable FACTS) can be false. Or true. At this point, it is considered as the most accurate one we’ve got, in view of all the evidence, the facts and its supreme ability to predict consistent outcomes.

Finally, equally infuriating are the claims and questions regarding ‘believing’ in the evolution…

Wrap your head around this one, will you: whether one ‘believes’ in evolution or not has no more meaning than assuming that believing in a kitchen table or not makes it somehow change the FACT of its material EXISTENCE in objective reality

Some misunderstanding also arises in other related domains, and I shall thus address them too:

1. Evidence vs. Proof

In everyday life, these two are often viewed as synonyms. In scientific world, they are nothing of the sorts.

Remember how in science nothing is strictly considered as “proven”? Therefore, while theories may be revised/discarded in light of new emerging evidence, the idea of “proof” in science (even though the word is, unfortunately, used very often even by scientists themselves – except they know what it actually implies in the context, unlike us laymen :) ), once something is “proven” in science, it no longer undergoes any further revision and is considered impossible to disprove. (This sort of goes against the scientific premises, but I won’t go into that). When scientist use the word “proven” or “proof”, it simply means that no matter what evidence ever comes up in any field of studies, the premise in question always holds. For instance, it can be said that “earth orbits sun” is “proven” to be true… However, hypothetically it may only be a holographic illusion of earth orbiting the sun… But I digress again :).

To illustrate the point, the fact that sun disappeared every night and appeared every morning to an ancient man could be EVIDENCE of, say, my morning star scenario.

However, to equate evidence to proof would be to say that BECAUSE sun appears/disappears daily, it PROVES that morning star gives one birth every morning and it dies every evening… See?

2. Proof vs. truth/objective reality/existence

Strictly speaking, one can “prove” by means of logic, philosophy or otherwise, pretty much anything. However, that does NOT constitute as EVIDENCE of that something’s actual existence in objective reality.

Mathematically, Newton was able of constructing a proof of the theory of gravity. However, gravity ACTUALLY EXISTED before any proof, would have existed if such proof was never found, and would continue to exist even if it was “disproven” by any means. The falling apples (btw it’s a fable, just f.y.i.) are EVIDENCE of gravity.

Finally, just to throw another hot potato into the pile, some people just as in case of evolution (notice: NOT THEORY OF evolution – but evolution ITSELF ;) ) argue about the Big Bang Theory. I do hope you now understand what it means, and if you find it hard to accept it as accurate, just like the theory of evolution it has to date confirmed all of its predictions (is consistent with observable Doppler shifts of the galaxies, radiation readings, General Relativity, so forth).

Overall, it is one of those shady areas indeed with ‘proof’.

The actual NOTION of “proof” exists in science (although scientists would say that “proofs are for math”). In very strict terms, it applies to something that has been ‘proven’ to be correct beyond any possibility of DISproving it… At such state, any further inquiry into the subject is seized… I mentioned, however, that this is an idea contradictory to the scientific premise: everything IS falsifiable or at least is to be always considered/presumed as such, and thus is constantly re-tested.

Outside of the realm of hardcore science principles, in regular speech scientists use words ‘proof’ or ‘proven’ only to mean that something had been shown consistently beyond any reasonable doubt by all evidence as correct/existing etc (depends on the nature of the original inquiry). The ‘falsifiability’, so to say, principle is still assumed. If tomorrow we all of a sudden figure something out that fully disproves gravity as an existent force, well then we’d deal with that. For the time being, however, despite the fact that we still don’t actually know wtf gravity IS, it is considered as ‘proven’ to be an actual existing force by all evidence ever gathered thus far.

In the everyday speech WE use, ‘proof’ is really easy. Say I tell you I’ve got a pet monkey. You ask to prove it. I can provide you with pictures of me and monkey at my house over time, blog entries about it, friends testimony, evidence of animal food etc in the house, receipt of purchase and so forth. I can invite you to live with me for a year and see the monkey is mine and always there :).

The type of evidence accepted by you as enough to ‘prove’ something is up to you to determine. This little point is vital in many debates. Generally speaking the more extraordinary the claim (say, I went to the North Pole vs. I went to Hungary), the more evidence you are justified in requiring before believing it (I wish pple knew this about politics too… sigh… ).

You can use the word ‘proof’ in this sense. In an argument, you would have to be careful, however, to distinguish whether you are talking about ‘proof’ as ‘enough evidence to convince ME, or ‘scientific proof’ (pardon this horrible wording, but it’s for the advancement of the better cause!) - evidence ‘enough to convince the scientific community‘. Most people confuse those two all the time and imply conflicting degree of burden as substantial for their claim in both their speech and others’… For example, my standard of proof may me at “my mom said so” (which is argument from authority, if you see the next link ;) ), but I’m pretty sure it just wouldn’t cut with that darned scientific community :D. (Other things that won’t cut it can be found in the list of top 20 logical fallacies).

Unless otherwise stated, or ALWAYS when the specific point/subject of a debate relates to something scientifically ‘provable’ (in other words, anything for which real data and evidence can be/has been gathered), the ‘scientific proof‘ is to be presumed, unless otherwise stated. Unfortunately, standards of what is acceptable to constitute such a ‘proof’ are extremely high, and sky-rocket when it comes to anything ‘supernatural’. This doesn’t presume to DENY supernatural, but each such claim should be testable at least in theory to even discuss any claim’s probability of being ‘true’ or ‘false’ or ‘existing’ or ‘non-existing’.

A lot of misunderstanding arises when, for example, believers in some faith present something that by their subjective standards of ‘solid evidence’ is sufficient to ‘prove’ the claim as accurate, valid or even plausible. To them.  All the while for atheists/scientists/skeptics of any sorts the presented ‘evidence’ is often non-substantial as ‘proof’ of the original claim. This leads to a lot of head-banging and facepalming on both sides :) :)

I sincerely hope this finally settles the confusion because if not – we have absolutely nothing to talk about when it comes to the realm of assessing reality and no way to communicate our points across to either side without distortion and major misconceptions.

Posted in How to..., Random wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Top 20 Logical Fallacies – how well do you score?

(From  The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe)

What is a logical fallacy?

All arguments have the same basic structure: A therefore B. They begin with one or more premises (A), which is a fact or assumption upon which the argument is based. They then apply a logical principle (therefore) to arrive at a conclusion (B). An example of a logical principle is that of equivalence. For example, if you begin with the premises that A=B and B=C, you can apply the logical principle of equivalence to conclude that A=C. A logical fallacy is a false or incorrect logical principle. An argument that is based upon a logical fallacy is therefore not valid. It is important to note that if the logic of an argument is valid then the conclusion must also be valid, which means that if the premises are all true then the conclusion must also be true. Valid logic applied to one or more false premises, however, leads to an invalid argument. Also, if an argument is not valid the conclusion may, by chance, still be true.

For a more thorough discussion of logical fallacies and how to structure a logical argument, see the New England Skeptical Society’s article, How To Argue.

Top 20 Logical Fallacies (in alphabetical order)

- Introduction to Argument
Structure of a Logical Argument Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, our arguments all follow a certain basic structure. They begin with one or more premises, which are facts that the argument takes for granted as the starting point. Then a principle of logic is applied in order to come to a conclusion. This structure is often illustrated symbolically with the following example:

Premise1: If A = B, Premise2: and B = C Logical connection: Then (apply principle of equivalence) Conclusion: A = C

In order for an argument to be considered valid the logical form of the argument must work – must be valid. A valid argument is one in which, if the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true also. However, if one or more premise is false then a valid logical argument may still lead to a false conclusion. A sound argument is one in which the logic is valid and the premises are true, in which case the conclusion must be true.

Also it is important to note that an argument may use wrong information, or faulty logic to reach a conclusion that happens to be true. An invalid or unsound argument does not necessarily prove the conclusion false. Demonstrating that an argument is not valid or not sound, however, removes it as support for the truth of the conclusion – it means that the conclusion is not necessarily true.

Breaking down an argument into its components is a very useful exercise, for it enables us to examine both our own arguments and those of others and critically analyze them for validity. This is an excellent way of sharpening one’s thinking, avoiding biases, and making effective arguments.

Examine your Premises 

As stated above, in order for an argument to be sound all of its premises must be true. Often, different people come to different conclusions because they are starting with different premises. So examining all the premises of each argument is a good place to start.

There are three types of potential problems with premises. The first, and most obvious, is that a premise can be wrong. If one argues, for example, that evolutionary theory is false because there are no transitional fossils, that argument is unsound because the premise – no transitional fossils – is false. In fact there are copious transitional fossils.

Another type of premise error occurs when one or more premises is an unwarranted assumption. The premise may or may not be true, but it has not been established sufficiently to serve as a premise for an argument. Identifying all the assumptions upon which an argument is dependent is often the most critical step in analyzing an argument. Frequently, different conclusions are arrived at because of differing assumptions.

Often people will choose the assumptions that best fit the conclusion they prefer. In fact, psychological experiments show that most people start with conclusions they desire, then reverse engineer arguments to support them – a process called rationalization.

One way to resolve the problem of using assumptions as premises is to carefully identify and disclose those assumptions up front. Such arguments are often called “hypothetical,” or prefaced with the statement “Let’s assume for the sake of argument.” Also, if two people examine their arguments and realize they are using different assumptions as premises, then at least they can “agree to disagree.” They will realize that their disagreement cannot be resolved until more information is available to clarify which assumptions are more likely to be correct.

The third type of premise difficulty is the most insidious: the hidden premise. I have seen this listed as a logical fallacy – the unstated major premise, but it is more accurate to consider it here. Obviously, if a disagreement is based upon a hidden premise, then the disagreement will be irresolvable. So when coming to an impasse in resolving differences, it is a good idea to go back and see if there are any implied premises that have not been addressed.

Let’s go back to the transitional fossil example again. Why is it that scientists believe we have many transitional fossils and evolution deniers (creationists or intelligent design proponents) believe that we do not. This would seem to be a straightforward factual claim easily resolvable by checking the evidence. Sometimes evolution deniers are simply ignorant of the evidence or are being intellectually dishonest. However, the more sophisticated are fully aware of the fossil evidence and use a hidden premise to deny the existence of transitional fossils.

When a paleontologist speaks of “transitional” fossils, they are referring to species that occupy a space morphologically between two known species. This may be a common ancestor, in which case the transitional fossil will be more ancient than both descendant species; or it can be temporally between two species, the descendant of one and the ancestor of the other. But in reality we often do not know if the transitional species is an actual ancestor or just closely related to the true ancestor. Because evolution is a bushy process, and not linear, most of the specimens we find will lie on an evolutionary side branch (an uncle rather than a parent). But if they fill a morphological gap in known species, they provide evidence of an evolutionary connection, and therefore qualify as transitional. For example, archaeopteryx may not be on the direct path to modern birds, but clearly they occupy a space that is transitional between therapod dinosaurs and modern birds and one of their close relatives is a direct ancestor to modern birds.

When evolution deniers say there are no transitional fossils their unstated major premise is that they are employing a different definition of transitional than is generally accepted in the scientific community. They typically define transitional as some impossible monster with half-formed and useless structures. Or, they may define transitional as only those fossils for which there is independent proof of being a true ancestor, rather than simply closely related to a direct ancestor – an impossible standard.

Another hidden premise in their argument is the notion of how many transitional fossils there should be in the fossil record. They, of course, can always assume an arbitrarily high number to claim that there isn’t enough.

- Introduction to Logical Fallacies
Even when all of the premises of an argument are reliably true, the argument may still be invalid if the logic employed is not legitimate – a so-called logical fallacy. The human brain is a marvelous machine with capabilities that, in some ways, still outperform the most powerful of super computers. Our brains, however, do not appear to have evolved specifically for precise logic. There are many common logical pitfalls that our minds tend to fall into, unless we are consciously aware of these pitfalls and make efforts to avoid them.

Humans also tend to use logical short-cuts, called heuristics. These are thought processes that are not strictly valid in their logic, but are true most of the time and therefore are a useful rule-of-thumb as to what is likely to be true. But they get us into trouble when they substitute for valid logic.

Also because, as stated above, there is a tendency to start with desired conclusions and then construct arguments to support them, many people will happily draw upon logical fallacies to make their arguments. In fact, if a conclusion is not true one must either employ a false premise or a logical fallacy in order to construct an argument that leads to that conclusion. Remember, a sound argument (one with true premises and valid logic) cannot lead to a false conclusion. So in order to avoid using logical fallacies to construct invalid arguments, we need to understand how to identify fallacious logic.

Below I will list the most common logical fallacies, with examples of each.

On a side note, I have found many lists of logical fallacies, and they tend to differ along the “lumper vs splitter” spectrum. Many fallacies are really just specific subtypes of a more general fallacy. I have taken a combined approach, listing the main types of fallacies and giving examples of subtypes where appropriate.

Although this list started as our “top 20 logical fallacies,” we include more than 20 fallacies for your information, and will likely continue to add to the list.

Ad hominem
An ad hominem argument is any that attempts to counter another’s claims or conclusions by attacking the person, rather than addressing the argument itself. True believers will often commit this fallacy by countering the arguments of skeptics by stating that skeptics are closed minded. Skeptics, on the other hand, may fall into the trap of dismissing the claims of UFO believers, for example, by stating that people who believe in UFO’s are crazy or stupid.

A common form of this fallacy is also frequently present in the arguments of conspiracy theorists (who also rely heavily on ad-hoc reasoning). For example, they may argue that the government must be lying because they are corrupt.

It should be noted that simply calling someone a name or otherwise making an ad hominem attack is not in itself a logical fallacy. It is only a fallacy to claim that an argument is wrong because of a negative attribute of someone making the argument. (i.e. “John is a jerk.” is not a fallacy. “John is wrong because he is a jerk.” is a logical fallacy.)

The term “poisoning the well” also refers to a form of ad hominem fallacy. This is an attempt to discredit the argument of another by implying that they possess an unsavory trait, or that they are affiliated with other beliefs or people that are wrong or unpopular. A common form of this also has its own name – Godwin’s Law or the reductio ad Hitlerum. This refers to an attempt at poisoning the well by drawing an analogy between another’s position and Hitler or the Nazis.

Ad ignorantiam
The argument from ignorance basically states that a specific belief is true because we don’t know that it isn’t true. Defenders of extrasensory perception, for example, will often overemphasize how much we do not know about the human brain. It is therefore possible, they argue, that the brain may be capable of transmitting signals at a distance.

UFO proponents are probably the most frequent violators of this fallacy. Almost all UFO eyewitness evidence is ultimately an argument from ignorance – lights or objects sighted in the sky are unknown, and therefore they are alien spacecraft.

Intelligent design is almost entirely based upon this fallacy. The core argument for intelligent design is that there are biological structures that have not been fully explained by evolution, therefore a powerful intelligent designer must have created them.

In order to make a positive claim, however, positive evidence for the specific claim must be presented. The absence of another explanation only means that we do not know – it doesn’t mean we get to make up a specific explanation.

Argument from authority
The basic structure of such arguments is as follows: Professor X believes A, Professor X speaks from authority, therefore A is true. Often this argument is implied by emphasizing the many years of experience, or the formal degrees held by the individual making a specific claim. The converse of this argument is sometimes used, that someone does not possess authority, and therefore their claims must be false. (This may also be considered an ad-hominen logical fallacy – see below.)

In practice this can be a complex logical fallacy to deal with. It is legitimate to consider the training and experience of an individual when examining their assessment of a particular claim. Also, a consensus of scientific opinion does carry some legitimate authority. But it is still possible for highly educated individuals, and a broad consensus to be wrong – speaking from authority does not make a claim true.

This logical fallacy crops up in more subtle ways also. For example, UFO proponents have argued that UFO sightings by airline pilots should be given special weight because pilots are trained observers, are reliable characters, and are trained not to panic in emergencies. In essence, they are arguing that we should trust the pilot’s authority as an eye witness.

There are many subtypes of the argument from authority, essentially referring to the implied source of authority. A common example is the argument ad populum – a belief must be true because it is popular, essentially assuming the authority of the masses. Another example is the argument from antiquity – a belief has been around for a long time and therefore must be true.

Argument from final Consequences
Such arguments (also called teleological) are based on a reversal of cause and effect, because they argue that something is caused by the ultimate effect that it has, or purpose that is serves. Christian creationists have argued, for example, that evolution must be wrong because if it were true it would lead to immorality.

One type of teleological argument is the argument from design. For example, the universe has all the properties necessary to support live, therefore it was designed specifically to support life (and therefore had a designer.

Argument from Personal Incredulity
I cannot explain or understand this, therefore it cannot be true. Creationists are fond of arguing that they cannot imagine the complexity of life resulting from blind evolution, but that does not mean life did not evolve.

Begging the Question
The term “begging the question” is often misused to mean “raises the question,” (and common use will likely change, or at least add this new, definition). However, the intended meaning is to assume a conclusion in one’s question. This is similar to circular reasoning, and an argument is trying to slip in a conclusion in a premise or question – but it is not the same as circular reasoning because the question being begged can be a separate point. Whereas with circular reasoning the premise and conclusion are the same.

The classic example of begging the question is to ask someone if they have stopped beating their wife yet. Of course, the question assumes that they every beat their wife.

In my appearance on the Dr. Oz show I was asked – what are alternative medicine skeptics (termed “holdouts”) afraid of? This is a double feature of begging the question. By using the term “holdout” the question assumes that acceptance is already become the majority position and is inevitable. But also, Oz begged the question that skeptics are “afraid.” This also created a straw man (see below) of our position, which is rather based on a dedication to reasonable standards of science and evidence.

Confusing association with causation
This is similar to the post-hoc fallacy in that it assumes cause and effect for two variables simply because they occur together. This fallacy is often used to give a statistical correlation a causal interpretation. For example, during the 1990’s both religious attendance and illegal drug use have been on the rise. It would be a fallacy to conclude that therefore, religious attendance causes illegal drug use. It is also possible that drug use leads to an increase in religious attendance, or that both drug use and religious attendance are increased by a third variable, such as an increase in societal unrest. It is also possible that both variables are independent of one another, and it is mere coincidence that they are both increasing at the same time.

This fallacy, however, has a tendency to be abused, or applied inappropriately, to deny all statistical evidence. In fact this constitutes a logical fallacy in itself, the denial of causation. This abuse takes two basic forms. The first is to deny the significance of correlations that are demonstrated with prospective controlled data, such as would be acquired during a clinical experiment. The problem with assuming cause and effect from mere correlation is not that a causal relationship is impossible, it’s just that there are other variables that must be considered and not ruled out a-priori. A controlled trial, however, by its design attempts to control for as many variables as possible in order to maximize the probability that a positive correlation is in fact due to a causation.

Further, even with purely epidemiological, or statistical, evidence it is still possible to build a strong scientific case for a specific cause. The way to do this is to look at multiple independent correlations to see if they all point to the same causal relationship. For example, it was observed that cigarette smoking correlates with getting lung cancer. The tobacco industry, invoking the “correlation is not causation” logical fallacy, argued that this did not prove causation. They offered as an alternate explanation “factor x”, a third variable that causes both smoking and lung cancer. But we can make predictions based upon the smoking causes cancer hypothesis. If this is the correct causal relationship, then duration of smoking should correlate with cancer risk, quitting smoking should decrease cancer risk, smoking unfiltered cigarettes should have a higher cancer risk than filtered cigarettes, etc. If all of these correlations turn out to be true, which they are, then we can triangulate to the smoking causes cancer hypothesis as the most likely possible causal relationship and it is not a logical fallacy to conclude from this evidence that smoking probably causes lung cancer.

Confusing currently unexplained with unexplainable
Because we do not currently have an adequate explanation for a phenomenon does not mean that it is forever unexplainable, or that it therefore defies the laws of nature or requires a paranormal explanation. An example of this is the “God of the Gapsa” strategy of creationists that whatever we cannot currently explain is unexplainable and was therefore an act of god.

False Analogy
Analogies are very useful as they allow us to draw lessons from the familiar and apply them to the unfamiliar. Life is like a box of chocolate – you never know what you’re going to get.

A false analogy is an argument based upon an assumed similarity between two things, people, or situations when in fact the two things being compared are not similar in the manner invoked. Saying that the probability of a complex organism evolving by chance is the same as a tornado ripping through a junkyard and created a 747 by chance is a false analogy. Evolution, in fact, does not work by chance but is the non-random accumulation of favorable changes.

Creationists also make the analogy between life and your home, invoking the notion of thermodynamics or entropy. Over time your home will become messy, and things will start to break down. The house does not spontaneously become more clean or in better repair.

The false analogy here is that a home is an inanimate collection of objects. Whereas life uses energy to grow and reproduce – the addition of energy to the system of life allows for the local reduction in entropy – for evolution to happen.

Another way in which false analogies are invoked is to make an analogy between two things that are in fact analogous in many ways – just not the specific way being invoked in the argument. Just because two things are analogous in some ways does not mean they are analogous in every way.

False Continuum
The idea that because there is no definitive demarcation line between two extremes, that the distinction between the extremes is not real or meaningful: There is a fuzzy line between cults and religion, therefore they are really the same thing.

False Dichotomy
Arbitrarily reducing a set of many possibilities to only two. For example, evolution is not possible, therefore we must have been created (assumes these are the only two possibilities). This fallacy can also be used to oversimplify a continuum of variation to two black and white choices. For example, science and pseudoscience are not two discrete entities, but rather the methods and claims of all those who attempt to explain reality fall along a continuum from one extreme to the other.

Genetic Fallacy
The term “genetic” here does not refer to DNA and genes, but to history (and therefore a connection through the concept of inheritance). This fallacy assumes that something’s current utility is dictated by and constrained by its historical utility. This is easiest to demonstrate with words – a words current use may be entirely unrelated to its etymological origins. For example, if I use the term “sunset” or “sunrise” I am not implying belief in a geocentric cosmology in which the sun revolves about the Earth and literally “rises” and “sets.”

Inconsistency
Applying criteria or rules to one belief, claim, argument, or position but not to others. For example, some consumer advocates argue that we need stronger regulation of prescription drugs to ensure their safety and effectiveness, but at the same time argue that medicinal herbs should be sold with no regulation for either safety or effectiveness.

No True Scotsman
This fallacy is a form of circular reasoning, in that it attempts to include a conclusion about something in the very definition of the word itself. It is therefore also a semantic argument.

The term comes from the example: If Ian claims that all Scotsman are brave, and you provide a counter example of a Scotsman who is clearly a coward, Ian might respond, “Well, then, he’s no true Scotsman.” In essence Ian claims that all Scotsman are brave by including bravery in the definition of what it is to be a Scotsman. This argument does not establish and facts or new information, and is limited to Ian’s definition of the word, “Scotsman.”

Non-Sequitur
In Latin this term translates to “doesn’t follow”. This refers to an argument in which the conclusion does not necessarily follow from the premises. In other words, a logical connection is implied where none exists.

Post-hoc ergo propter hoc
This fallacy follows the basic format of: A preceded B, therefore A caused B, and therefore assumes cause and effect for two events just because they are temporally related (the latin translates to “after this, therefore because of this”).

Reductio ad absurdum
In formal logic, the reductio ad absurdum is a legitimate argument. It follows the form that if the premises are assumed to be true it necessarily leads to an absurd (false) conclusion and therefore one or more premises must be false. The term is now often used to refer to the abuse of this style of argument, by stretching the logic in order to force an absurd conclusion. For example a UFO enthusiast once argued that if I am skeptical about the existence of alien visitors, I must also be skeptical of the existence of the Great Wall of China, since I have not personally seen either. This is a false reductio ad absurdum because he is ignoring evidence other than personal eyewitness evidence, and also logical inference. In short, being skeptical of UFO’s does not require rejecting the existence of the Great Wall.

Slippery Slope
This logical fallacy is the argument that a position is not consistent or tenable because accepting the position means that the extreme of the position must also be accepted. But moderate positions do not necessarily lead down the slippery slope to the extreme.

Special pleading, or ad-hoc reasoning
This is a subtle fallacy which is often difficult to recognize. In essence, it is the arbitrary introduction of new elements into an argument in order to fix them so that they appear valid. A good example of this is the ad-hoc dismissal of negative test results. For example, one might point out that ESP has never been demonstrated under adequate test conditions, therefore ESP is not a genuine phenomenon. Defenders of ESP have attempted to counter this argument by introducing the arbitrary premise that ESP does not work in the presence of skeptics. This fallacy is often taken to ridiculous extremes, and more and more bizarre ad hoc elements are added to explain experimental failures or logical inconsistencies.

Straw Man
A straw man argument attempts to counter a position by attacking a different position – usually one that is easier to counter. The arguer invents a caricature of his opponent’s position – a “straw man” – that is easily refuted, but not the position that his opponent actually holds.

For example, defenders of alternative medicine often argue that skeptics refuse to accept their claims because they conflict with their world-view. If “Western” science cannot explain how a treatment works, then it is dismissed out-of-hand. If you read skeptical treatment of so-called “alternative” modalities, however, you will find the skeptical position much more nuanced than that.

Claims are not a-prior dismissed because they are not currently explained by science. Rather, in some cases (like homeopathy) there is a vast body of scientific knowledge that says that homeopathy is not possible. Having an unknown mechanism is not the same thing as demonstrably impossible (at least as best as modern science can tell). Further, skeptical treatments of homeopathy often thoroughly review the clinical evidence. Even when the question of mechanism is put aside, the evidence shows that homeopathic remedies are indistinguishable from placebo – which means they do not work.

Tautology
Tautology in formal logic refers to a statement that must be true in every interpretation by its very construction. In rhetorical logic, it is an argument that utilizes circular reasoning, which means that the conclusion is also its own premise. Typically the premise is simply restated in the conclusion, without adding additional information or clarification. The structure of such arguments is A=B therefore A=B, although the premise and conclusion might be formulated differently so it is not immediately apparent as such. For example, saying that therapeutic touch works because it manipulates the life force is a tautology because the definition of therapeutic touch is the alleged manipulation (without touching) of the life force.

The Fallacy Fallacy
As I mentioned near the beginning of this article, just because someone invokes an unsound argument for a conclusion, that does not necessarily mean the conclusion is false. A conclusion may happen to be true even if an argument used to support is is not sound. I may argue, for example, Obama is a Democrat because the sky is blue – an obvious non-sequitur. But the conclusion, Obama is a Democrat, is still true.

Related to this, and common in the comments sections of blogs, is the position that because some random person on the internet is unable to defend a position well, that the position is therefore false. All that has really been demonstrated is that the one person in question cannot adequately defend their position.

This is especially relevant when the question is highly scientific, technical, or requires specialized knowledge. A non-expert likely does not have the knowledge at their fingertips to counter an elaborate, but unscientific, argument against an accepted science. “If you (a lay person) cannot explain to me,” the argument frequently goes, “exactly how this science works, then it is false.”

Rather, such questions are better handled by actual experts. And, in fact, intellectual honesty requires that at least an attempt should be made to find the best evidence and arguments for a position, articulated by those with recognized expertise, and then account for those arguments before a claim is dismissed.

The Moving Goalpost
A method of denial arbitrarily moving the criteria for “proof” or acceptance out of range of whatever evidence currently exists. If new evidence comes to light meeting the prior criteria, the goalpost is pushed back further – keeping it out of range of the new evidence. Sometimes impossible criteria are set up at the start – moving the goalpost impossibly out of range -for the purpose of denying an undesirable conclusion.

Tu quoque
Literally, you too. This is an attempt to justify wrong action because someone else also does it. “My evidence may be invalid, but so is yours.”

Slippery Slope
This logical fallacy is the argument that a position is not consistent or tenable because accepting the position means that the extreme of the position must also be accepted. But moderate positions do not necessarily lead down the slippery slope to the extreme.

Special pleading, or ad-hoc reasoning
This is a subtle fallacy which is often difficult to recognize. In essence, it is the arbitrary introduction of new elements into an argument in order to fix them so that they appear valid. A good example of this is the ad-hoc dismissal of negative test results. For example, one might point out that ESP has never been demonstrated under adequate test conditions, therefore ESP is not a genuine phenomenon. Defenders of ESP have attempted to counter this argument by introducing the arbitrary premise that ESP does not work in the presence of skeptics. This fallacy is often taken to ridiculous extremes, and more and more bizarre ad hoc elements are added to explain experimental failures or logical inconsistencies.

Straw Man
A straw man argument attempts to counter a position by attacking a different position – usually one that is easier to counter. The arguer invents a caricature of his opponent’s position – a “straw man” – that is easily refuted, but not the position that his opponent actually holds.

For example, defenders of alternative medicine often argue that skeptics refuse to accept their claims because they conflict with their world-view. If “Western” science cannot explain how a treatment works, then it is dismissed out-of-hand. If you read skeptical treatment of so-called “alternative” modalities, however, you will find the skeptical position much more nuanced than that.

Claims are not a-prior dismissed because they are not currently explained by science. Rather, in some cases (like homeopathy) there is a vast body of scientific knowledge that says that homeopathy is not possible. Having an unknown mechanism is not the same thing as demonstrably impossible (at least as best as modern science can tell). Further, skeptical treatments of homeopathy often thoroughly review the clinical evidence. Even when the question of mechanism is put aside, the evidence shows that homeopathic remedies are indistinguishable from placebo – which means they do not work.

Tautology
Tautology in formal logic refers to a statement that must be true in every interpretation by its very construction. In rhetorical logic, it is an argument that utilizes circular reasoning, which means that the conclusion is also its own premise. Typically the premise is simply restated in the conclusion, without adding additional information or clarification. The structure of such arguments is A=B therefore A=B, although the premise and conclusion might be formulated differently so it is not immediately apparent as such. For example, saying that therapeutic touch works because it manipulates the life force is a tautology because the definition of therapeutic touch is the alleged manipulation (without touching) of the life force.

The Fallacy Fallacy
As I mentioned near the beginning of this article, just because someone invokes an unsound argument for a conclusion, that does not necessarily mean the conclusion is false. A conclusion may happen to be true even if an argument used to support is is not sound. I may argue, for example, Obama is a Democrat because the sky is blue – an obvious non-sequitur. But the conclusion, Obama is a Democrat, is still true.

Related to this, and common in the comments sections of blogs, is the position that because some random person on the internet is unable to defend a position well, that the position is therefore false. All that has really been demonstrated is that the one person in question cannot adequately defend their position.

This is especially relevant when the question is highly scientific, technical, or requires specialized knowledge. A non-expert likely does not have the knowledge at their fingertips to counter an elaborate, but unscientific, argument against an accepted science. “If you (a lay person) cannot explain to me,” the argument frequently goes, “exactly how this science works, then it is false.”

Rather, such questions are better handled by actual experts. And, in fact, intellectual honesty requires that at least an attempt should be made to find the best evidence and arguments for a position, articulated by those with recognized expertise, and then account for those arguments before a claim is dismissed.

The Moving Goalpost
A method of denial arbitrarily moving the criteria for “proof” or acceptance out of range of whatever evidence currently exists. If new evidence comes to light meeting the prior criteria, the goalpost is pushed back further – keeping it out of range of the new evidence. Sometimes impossible criteria are set up at the start – moving the goalpost impossibly out of range -for the purpose of denying an undesirable conclusion.

Tu quoque
Literally, you too. This is an attempt to justify wrong action because someone else also does it. “My evidence may be invalid, but so is yours.”

Posted in How to..., Random wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Authors@Google: Tim Keller DEBUNKED

Someone asked me to watch the video of Tim Keller’s speech, as an example of very plausible and sound argument for the existence of god… I wish I hadn’t done it because it made my brain hurt just counting the lies and fallacies this man manages to calmly profess as ‘proving’ anything…

I had warned the person that I would point out anything that is bullshit once I hear it… Which kind of resulted in an unexpected (and very lengthy!) debunk spree :). I also swore a lot because I started watching this after a tedious debate with the guy on FB wall of one of the groups – and he still wouldn’t listen, so my sleep deprivation and the lunacy of Tim Keller just made me :D.

Needless to say, it took me two hours to go through just first 28 minutes of the video because there was so much to write… I don’t want to see my efforts go to waste though, so here I present you the video, followed by my commentary which I did as I watched it (pausing it for typing, obviously). Note that since I initially was writing it all on Facebook, there is a lot of FULL CAPS – I use them for emphasis only, since bold/italics are not an option – and I also often forgo proper capitalization in messages because I’m lazy and I like e.e. cummings :). Enjoy!

soooo they guy had started a church… soooo he is making money… doesn’t sound good even at get-go…
right so on him saying faith is going UP in the world…
religious freaks are certainly more LOUD, because they have the internet etc etc, but statistics aren’t in his favor…
http://religions.pewforum.org/reports
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/24/us/24beliefs.htmlbelief seems largely unaffected by technological advances…

also, america is the most devoutly christian country – with the highest rates of crime, violent crime, std, teen pregnancies and rapes per capita IN THE WORLD… just saying…

africa has only recently gotten access to mass media and is no less fucked up economically and politically and socially than ages ago, and religious belief flourishes among the weakest.
as for why tolerance and respect are foul when directed at a wrong cause, i’ve written about it extensively here, so i won’t repeat myself.
supporting a group who thinks earth is flat wouldn’t occur to you as a moral obligation, would it? JUST BECAUSE it is a group in your society, in other words, doesn’t make it worthy of respect. there’s a huge number of criminals there too and con artists – hey, let’s praise them all! wtf is this logic of “because it IS a group, you need to be nice to them”??? no you fucking don’t. Nazis were also a GROUP in a society (and still are in some places).
Respect for PEOPLE isn’t also the same as respect for any dumbfuck ideas they may hold so no nice try but no. NO.
I can find it intellectually compelling when someone presents me with a well-reasoned argument of why I should invest my money into something. Then it turns out to be a sham… Is “intellectually compelling” a great point at all? Nope. dismissed… next…
“successful but still empty”… filling up emptiness with imaginary friends is “in” all of a sudden?…
aha so there are three reasons to believe or disbelieve in god, and OBJECTIVE FUCKING REALITY IS NOT one of them… should i listen any further?…
21 hours ago
Willis***
Yes. Keep listening. There is more to it. You will like it. Keep listening.
Leah InShade
oh HEEELLLLLS no! ok this guy is getting worse!!! “you may have lost your belief because you wanted OTHER PEOPLE TO LIKE YOU”??? REALLY??? Is THAT what people do when they lose faith and find themselves cut from their family, friends, community, fully alone and even suicidal??? WOW. *facepalm*… if this is ‘better” then fucking hell…
Willis***
Leah, patience. He is talking not about you in particular but about the various reasons why some people do not believe.
Leah InShade
i know. but “objective reality” wasn’t mentioned. and for most people who become atheists… for MOST people – it is DEFINITELY not cuz “oh i want others to like me!”
now, “if you were born in madagascar you won’t be a secular relativist”… full of shit. a person gets born into ANY faith anywhere in the world and with due amount of brain usage can easily come to disbelieve…

well yeah it’s inaccurate to say that… because we say “our position is based on reasoning and REALITY and yours on blind faith”, whatever reasons for THAT on are”…
Willis***
But you have to admit that there are fewer atheists in some countries right? There has to be some cultural conditioning.,…right?
Leah InShade
SOME duh. but it’s also closely tied to economic situation, quality and access to education and a shitload of other stuff.

and now he deserves a slap on the face because he said “it takes as much FAITH to DISBELIEVE in god as to believe”…
i can’t even begin to count all levels on which he just said a fucking outright LIE, but to sum it up:1. NON-BELIEF takes NO FAITH. DUH.
he clearly confuses it with BELIEF THAT THERE IS CERTAINLY NO GOD, which is a very specific case that requires some CONVICTION (NOT “FAITH”, for faith is defined as “belief in the absence and regardless of evidence”). DISBELIEF TAKES NO FAITH.

2. It takes a SHITLOAD of FAITH to believe in god and very little to even DISBELIEVE in one fully, because the faith it takes to believe in god has to somehow counter ALL THE FUCKING EVIDENCE IN THE WORLD, while a conviction that there is no god (if we take the extreme case of “there certainly is no god” ) is actually the most plausible thing to consider in light of all evidence (of which of course he speaks NOT, so what a douche, anyway…) and follows rather smoothly from mere understanding of the universe, human brain, a few other key sciences etc…

and 3 – WHAT A FUCKING TWAT he is by inserting this claim into the speech!!!

more of a “leap of faith”?… i’m sorry i’m off to bed this guy just really REALLY lost any credibility right there at his “3 causes” and “faith” and “leap of faith” shit… wow…WOOOOW… and he scams people out of their money with selling them his book… there must be laws against it!
as for the “it takes conviction to get to certainty”… i HOPE to hell he means only ideological sense of “certainty” because NO amount of CONVICTION ever flattened the earth!!!!
can i skip ahead then? for real though, is this guy even serious spinning everything as much as he does (as nicely as he makes it sound, of course)
Willis***
Well, you can do whatever you like of course but I thought the arguments were compelling.
Leah InShade
LMAO at “get a book” and “i’m saying it not as an author trying to sell the book but as a minister who’s trying to get a message across” – yeah… the message being “BELIEVE IN GOD, and yeah thanx for the cash!”… fucking twat…rrrr the nerve of it!
he SOUNDS nice and well-spoken but i’m afraid he’s just full of shit because, well, he’s LYING.
Willis***

LOL. Come on. These are long arguments. It is not inappropriate to point to a larger argument right?
Leah InShade
(i’m sorry if someone’s starting with a PREMISE for further speech and the premise is a LIE then ahem since the argument is based on a LIE it can never dream of being compelling, let alone accurate, let alone worthy of consideration…won’t you agree? if i tell you earth is flat: let’s cut a piece off the edge – you’ll tell me to go fuck myself cuz earth is round)
)aaand it just got worse…
“all of the arguments that try to disprove god fall flat”COUGH…

1. BURDEN OF PROOF is clearly something he never heard of in his many years on earth and

2. I actually disproved god to myself in my own blog entry very effectively and fully and went from someone playing with deism to full on “there IS and CANNOT be any god” person so hmmm… Maybe he looked in all the wrong places :)

3. lastly, he never defines “god” (as many people move on to this “spiritual” shit and thus add to “believer” statistics but in fact are just nature-worshipers), but if we presume a christian or similar god or a personal god of any sorts then boom – i disproved it in one short blog entry with 3 videos.

i’ll watch the rest JUST because you consider what he says as “compelling”…

Willis***
Ok, thanks for listening to it! And I do find it compelling. :)
well you’re gullible, i’m sorry. i truly am.
(got to him saying that arguments that christianity can’t be true fall flat… start thinking the guy was lining in the cave for the past 200 years or so… christianity CAN be way too easily proven false even on HIS OWN “3 reasons why people believe” premises, let alone HARDCORE EVIDENCE…(and i’m yet to hear that word…)
(p.s. i may find a sham investment proposal compelling, but the fucker’d get my money and run, remember? ;))
plus ever since when “christianity is/is not true” = “there is/is no god” in ANY combination?… these two concepts are actually fully unrelated. an ideology can be utterly false while its premises true, and vice versa, and cris-cross, too..)
Willis***
Leah, have you always been an atheist?
Leah InShade
OOOKAY NOW i want a machine gun for the guy… inflatable – i’ll beat him on his dumb head…
because he just said THE MOST FUCKING INCREDIBLE PIECE OF BULLSHIT IN THE UNIVERSE. which is “if you can’t DISPROVE something, and it is THEREFORE REAL”…homework: YOU tell me what is so epically WRONG with this statement!

I went from believing in magic, to heavily deistic spiritualism to “god what a fuck was i thinking” :) (how does my personal experience relate to the video?)

arguments against god let’s see…

1st one “evil and suffering”… wrong baby – REASON AND EVIDENCE actually are what propel people out of faith – everything else they can comfortably loophole justify for themselves within their faith, whichever it may be…

Willis***
It doesn’t really I guess. You just seem really passionate about these things and I was curious why? Have you had really bad experiences with Christians in the past?

Leah InShade
make it “believers” and yes – they screw up my world big time on a very large measurable scale in many intricate ways.

“there haven’t been any major PHILOSOPHICAL WORKS trying to disprove the existence of god”…

*takes a really deep breath and talks herself out of smashing her laptop because it has nothing to do with the video* (ONLY a metaphor, just f.y.i)

1. PROVING something’s existence has NOTHING AT ALL to do with PHILOSOPHY. NOTHING AT ALL. NOTHING. AT ALL.

2. PROVING something’s existence has to do with (you guessed it) DEMONSTRABLE, VERIFIABLE, CONSISTENT AND REPEATABLE SOLID EVIDENCE.

3. If we are going to the CONCEPT of god and philosophical DEBATE over its existence then we’re done talking about ACTUAL EXISTENCE of god and off talking in the theoretical realm. On which point – case closed, because we can philosophically debate god’s existence or not till we die. Except none of it has anything to do with PROOF of EXISTENCE.

(p.s. i’m passionately against IGNORANCE and blind faith – yes)

Willis***
Leah, what do you mean “change that to believers”?

Leah InShade
I am against ANY blind belief, in whatever it is. nothing against specifically christians or what have you.

Willis***
Oh.

Well, Leah. It was nice talking to you. I have to go to bed. I will check out the videos you sent and get back to you. Thanks for watching my vid and I am sorry you didn’t like it.

Leah InShade
(in the meantime in the video… loopholes, loopholes…

“we can’t possibly understand reasons for suffering that god may have” uhuh… but we can possibly and just fine conceive of understanding EVERYTHING ELSE DIVINE: god’s INTENTION for us, rules, laws, purpose in life, celestial hierarchical organization (and btw if someone ever again calls christianity “monotheistic” slap them) etc… with that SAME brain of ours..

and willis, i LIKE the video – it’s a nicely told speech. me liking or disliking it, however, has nothing to do with the amount of fundamental BULLSHIT in it, and i’m not even half way through…

i can LIKE throwing stones at random strangers, but does it make it a good thing to do? I can LIKE some car, does it make it a GOOD, safe, efficient car?.. No. LIKING something never validates it in itself… I’ll finish watching, and commenting, but please don’t waste my efforts on discarding them as “oh i’m upset you didn’t LIKE it” ok? you sound dumb doing it and disrespectful of the time i waste on it.

re-watch the video yourself with my comments in front of you, pause where needed, THINK for crying out loud… okay?

nite.

“believers in god” is no more an argument (either for or against) actual EXISTENCE of god (it’s purely conceptual instead), and his point is the same as before, too so like “ok, point is?”…

“out of islam comes global terrorism”… niiiice, now we’re hastily generalizing AND fucking racist in one sentence!!!… nooo darling, “global terrorism” comes NOT out of islam, but out of the MOUTHS of POLITICIANS as a nice little nick-name for “Eastasia” with which we’ve”always been at war” (if you haven’t read Orwel’s 1984, demand it from someone as a x-mas gift this year, it’s mandatory reading for every human being who gives a slightest remote fuck about anything really…), because guess what? terrorism has been around WORLDWIDE (that makes it global, i presume) since time immemorial. terrorism simply means trying to convince someone into something by means of scaring the living shit out of them.

and back-tracking to “out of… arose..”… well belief systems were definitely a FACTOR, and in some cases indeed the main factor, but not always have they been the one and only cause, let alone of WWii and japanese involvement etc etc…

Correction: Stalin was a believer, so here we go lying again and creating poster-child analogies…
so “blah blah” in this bit is basically about “some people do good, some people do bad”… i don’t see any relevance at all to subject matter here, this is simply stating the obvious and besides he seems to just go off a theoretical tangent of his further away from question at hand…

another highly offensive stereotype… “if i can get away with xyz, i will do it” = atheist stance… i can get away with a lot of stuff, but my CONSIDERATION FOR MY FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS AND THEIR WELFARE is, trust me, a much stronger and more compelling and MORAL reason NOT to do something than “god said so”…
(did i mention this guy is a douche?… i mean, i think he honestly thinks he is correct, of course, except, well… he’s wrong on the FACTS, definitions and the whole understanding of what it means to PROVE the EXISTENCE of something…)

blind men and elephant… wow we’re down to “analogy is proof” now? for real? (bear in mind he keeps saying “proof AGAINST god”…which in and of itself is utter nonsense… do i need to PROVE to you there is no teapot orbiting jupiter right now for you to reasonably assume there ISN’T one there?)

here’s what is missing in the elephant story

1. if blind men were less of idiots, they’d simply grope and climb all over the elephant until collectively they can construct a damn good picture of what an elephant truly is, DUH. (in other words – ready for it? they can EXAMINE EXISTENT REALITY AND EVIDENCE, yay! because, well, the elephant actually IS there for examination, as in – physically present)

2. the whole fable is insulting of blind people – they can accomplish amazing stuff and here’s just one little quick example for you

3. now… our eyes and senses deceive us ALL THE TIME. eye-witness or sensations had never been PROOF of anything. EVER. so even a person who can SEE needs not know what an elephant is.

4. If i look at panda, i’ll be compelled to argue till i’m out of breath that it’s a BEAR. i can see it, i’ve seen other bears etc etc… EXCEPT… except panda is NOT a bear and nowhere even CLOSE to bears in its heritage…

5. all that aside – analogies never proved shit.

oh and to “blind men cannot know if they are blind unless a seeing person tells them so”… REALLY?????????????????…

because he implies that blind people can only touch one part of elephant and that’s it – they can’t move their hands around, walk around the elephant, touch it elsewhere… and only a seeing person can tell them what an elephant is… BULL-fucking-SHIT :)

on “how dare you”… ehm… same way they dare say “we DO” have knowledge?… he twists a claim that NO ONE can have knowledge (no one, just in case, implies the one who makes the claim – so there’s your humility) – INCLUDING no one in any religions. and he needs not add the second part to this (the “claiming for certain no religion has the truth is arrogant” thing – because frankly this is batshit crazy what he’s saying), because that 2nd part makes an otherwise reasonable statement get turned upon itself and twisted beyond belief and makes him sound ehm… let’s just say “irrational” for now (in other words, batshit crazy :))

and just an aside – there is no such thing as “universal truth”… there are universal FACTS (maybe), but “universal truth” is meaningless as a concept (that’s irrespective of the religious debate)

aha, we got to evidence… and again – FAIL.

“i cannot BELIEVE in god until one is PROVEN to exist” does NOT (burn this onto your forehead, mr. speaker) and never in the world meant or implied that something DOES NOT EXIST UNTIL PROVEN TO EXIST…

that’s so fucking ridiculous!!! until a few years ago no one saw quarks – did they NOT EXIST until that date???? until a couple of centuries ago no one PROVED BACTERIA – DID THEY NOT EXIST THEN????

WTF is he even trying to say by equating the two claims?

What instead “i can’t believe until proven” means (in, like, the rest of the sane world) is that anything is to be PRESUMED as NOT CONFIRMED AS EXISTING unless and until evidence suggest otherwise. simple as that.

as for “what makes you believe that god would be so inside the world that he would be provable” (wow this guy…)

ehm… omnipresence, anyone?… just for starters?

also, god is presumably very tuned in into the prayer twitter etc… so maybe he won’t show himSELF, but there are a million ways it should be possible to test for his existence… (in fact that’s what all the double-blind tests on prayer effectiveness (all of which btw failed… and oh they are usually conducted BY the religious folk…) were trying to do… so to call god “un-testable” in principle means, well, how does it differ in any way to “no god” then? )

shakespeare actually never wrote anything saying “yo here i am, nice to meet you – shakespeare! here’s everything and all that i am (include summary)” into any of his plays, so hamlet would have NO way of knowing either way anything at all about his author…
so we’re back to philosophical “proof” again without addressing evidence based proof in any manner that could be called ‘proper’ by any standard… oookay…(damn, why am i watching this?…)

moral convictions are NOT subject of being provable or not, just the same way as you are not required to “prove an idea”… any guesses as to why? morality is a COGNITIVE CONSTRUCT. DUH. So “proving” morality is a ridiculous demand!

We can prove, however, moral behavior in other species and see how moral behavior arose in humans and why – but none of this “proves” or needs to “prove” morality…

scaring us now… “if you live without a god it’s a risk”… of WHAT?…ah, of “TAKING YOUR LIFE INTO YOUR HANDS”. in other words, being grown-up and accepting full responsibility for your actions… and that’s, like, a BAD thing…?!!!!!!?!?!?!?! also, pascal’s wager, anyone?!!

Golf club… gimme a golf club…(counts to 10…)

“it makes more sense to believe in god than not” because god “makes everything simpler”… BIG GOLF CLUB please!!!

just HOW the fuck does it EVER make MORE sense to explain anything at all by laying over it something MORE COMPLEX AND MYSTERIOUS AND NON-SENSICAL THAN ANYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE??????????? if i drop a pen and it falls, does it make MORE sense and is it a SIMPLER explanation if i say “the special god of falling pens carries the pen downwards and determines how it would fall, how many times it will bounce and how far it would roll” OR, does it actually make more sense and make everything simpler by saying “well, gravity acts upon it”. done.

i dunno if you’re aware of it, but explaining something complex by something yet more complex leaves that something more complex in need of something YET MORE complex to explain THAT… ad infinitum…

in addition, we’re actually pretty equipped with the simple explanations of the universe, its origins etc – WITHOUT GOD – that ACTUALLY MAKE REAL SENSE.

lastly: ever since when “oh, this “MAKES SENSE” is = this “is true”/”exists”?????????????????????

It made a SHITLOAD of sense back in them days to believe that earth was flat and sun revolved around it, AND it explained PERFECTLY WELL the change of day into night…now… did it make it TRUE or ACTUALLY ACCURATE?…

“world is perfectly chosen for OUR HUMAN LIFE”… i’ll call a mafia mob on this guy – he deserves it :D

1. CORRELATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION. that we happen to live in this universe doesn’t mean it was MADE FOR US any more than if an animal happens to live in the jungle it would mean the jungle was planted there for the sole purpose of that animal. especially because we have only been in the universe for like 1 speck of its existence, and we’ll also soon die out as a species (by soon i mean by universe’s standards) and then again why have universe after that, right? but guess what – it’s continue to exist, so it’s NOT here for US – how fucking egocentric that is!

2. that we HAPPEN to be the self-aware life-form on this particular planet doesn’t MEAN or IMPLY anything. any difference in the chain of coincidences of our evolutionary process could make dolphins the smart asses and dominators of the world instead, building submarines and all… or crows… or some unimaginable to us species…

3. and he generally got it backwards altogether: it is BECAUSE this particular universe HAPPENS to have certain laws, a CERTAIN form of life (or any at all) came to be. However, the universe did NOT came to be with that set of laws IN ORDER TO have US in it. in other words, we are product of chance in terms of our current form and level of advancement. any other life form could be now here instead of us thinking just as egotistically that the whole damn universe is there for THEM (and maybe there are aliens out there doing it now (btw probability of alien life is pretty damn high, unlike that of a god))

i can’t even begin to say everything that is wrong with this point but i’m off to bed, i will try to watch 2nd half of this tomorrow and finish commenting but i’m just so upset that someone like this guy even gets the respect enough to get him on stage and have him LIE to people, SPIN everything, call mere rhetoric “proof” and suggest someone pays for his book…

and before i go on his point on “statistical improbability” so, like, explaining a highly unlikely scenario with an even less likely scenario (aka “god”), like, EXPLAINS something?…

so let’s say i win a lottery… and it’s pretty darn unlikely… but without invoking parallel universes, it happens by the odds of our own universe… now, am i explaining HOW i won the lottery by saying that a magical invisible fairy flew up to me once and suggested i buy a ticket on that and that day and bet on these numbers, or making the whole story much more complicated by including a fairy into the picture – a thing itself in need of a pretty darn good explanation to start with? or am i rather gonna be honest and explain that well, out of all people who pray and speak to their invisible friends or insert their loved ones’ birthdays or just randomly pick numbers out of a hat – that out of the multitude of betters i happen to win by, well, random chance?

see random chance is fine by us BEFORE anyone wins – we understand it, we expect it. we know that ANYONE who plays CAN potentially win.

then, ONE RANDOM PERSON wins, as chance dictates, and BOOM – we all of a sudden start attributing that chance to SOMETHING ELSE that “played the role”…note how this ONLY happens AFTER the fact of winning. ONLY in RETROSPECT. but for anything you can possibly think of that might’ve played the role, there are thousands of people who did the same exact thing and have the same exact qualities and DO NOT win… what about them? well nothing. god would have a LOT of explaining to do as to why any specific person is chosen for something like lottery win, but chance doesn’t at all – chance is SIMPLE. it MAKES SENSE. there is no judgment in chance.

same with “fine-tuned universe” well universe, frankly, is NOT very fine-tuned for humans… surprised? bah, go into the desert, into antarctica, or into outer space itself… you’ll soon die there, if alone. it’s INHOSPITABLE TO US – the universe. in fact the universe is MUUUUUCH more hospitable to – ready for it? – BACTERIA. boom, was universe MADE FOR bacteria then? and we’re just a by-product that allows bacteria to procreate and move around and survive?…

and if you say it’s ridiculous i’d say no – it’s MUCH more plausible that the universe as a whole was “fine-tuned” for bacteria than for us. bacteria survive in outer space, on other planets, in other galaxies… humans are a sorry ass thing that has only been around a few thousands of years and will soon die off.

GET OVER IT – the universe was NOT made FOR us.

Even the holy babble, by the way, agrees on how ‘special’ and ‘chosen’ we are to ‘god’…

Ecclesiastes 3:19-20: “For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place, all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again.”

(here’s where I went to bed… I didn’t want to finish watching this but hey well, I already started, right? So here’s the rest..(I keep full caps for emphasis for the sake of coherence))

Lovely little anecdote on violence in nature… Lovely but irrelevant.

Violence in nature is, indeed, linked to survival. However, one must notice that it is always the very minimal violence that allows for that survival – nothing vengeful, no killing for the fun of it only (except maybe a few rare cases and species). In most species, even in fights over territory, dominance and mate, as vicious as the fights may be, the defeated one upon gesturing defeat is let go and from then on knows their place, or summons more strength and takes over. The loser isn’t chased and killed just to make an example out of them for others, or to take out private rage.

Humans, on the contrary, extend their violent behaviors to multitudes of completely innocent people, animals, plants all over the place for really no good reason other than pure rage at times. If one is to look for exemplification of violent behavior – nature is peaceful, and us humans are the ultimate rage-filled heartless death-machine species.

His ‘nature favors the strong, humans favor the weak’ argument shows how close to nothing he knows on origins of moral behavior in social species. Nature still favors the strong – even in human beings, duh. However, we are an extremely complex social species, and the only way we can benefit the entire group is by altruistic behaviors. Additionally, ALL social animals exhibit altruistic behaviors, not just humans, so he’s totally off separating us from nature on ‘moral’ grounds… I will make a separate entry on morality some time soon, because the topic comes up too often.

His suggestion to ‘lobotomize us all to go to the natural state’ is obscene. ‘Natural’ to WHAT SPECIES?… We aren’t some fucking crickets who live a few days – we are an advanced social animal, and it actually IS the NATURAL state for US (and other social animals), to behave ALTRUISTICALLY. Good morning, reality!

“That’s how you got there: the strong eats the weak”… NOPE. If that were the case, we wouldn’t have gone too far from the caves.

Human rights… Well, reality check: human rights actually ARE a social construct. Except his ‘genocide by majority vote’ analogy is ridiculous. Our morals are vested naturally in the ‘minimal harm and pain’ principle of social co-existence (and I mentioned earlier how ‘well’ we do in this domain… You ever seen monkeys wage a slaughter campaign?… Genocide, maybe?… Thought so… ‘brutal nature’ my ass!), not in some supreme command.

To his lawyer, who probably never had a single human rights class in his life: human right’s are NOT ‘just there’. Human rights are an extremely flexible cognitive construct, interpreted in a billion different ways all over the world. The whole idea of human rights was actually non-existent in the times when the babble was written – did we have no morality? Well sure there was occasional slavery, slaughter, rape, child abuse, female abuse, stoning and rampage every here and there… How come, if morals are ABSOLUTE and GIVEN, that our moral preferences changed so drastically over time? NO absolute morality can undergo such a RADICAL facelift!!! We went from the life of a slave (and/or woman and/or child and/or criminal) having no more value than that of cattle to ‘every human being is to be treated equally before the law’… HOW??? Answer is, through our growing understanding and inter dependency, we realize that such actions as enslavement etc are not beneficial for the society. We equally realize that shall we permit such actions to occur anywhere in the world, we automatically justify the same action to be taken upon OURSELVES. Moral behavior is in our own very selfish very best self-interest, and the notion of what constitutes it has accordingly changed over time.

And then he’s back to his whole ‘human rights make less sense without a god’… Actually, quite the contrary. Human rights make perfect sense as an evolutionary adaptation. We have mechanisms of empathy, mirror neurons so forth to make sure that we protect OURSELVES from harm by not suggesting to anyone that such harm is permitted without punishment to be done onto OURSELVES by exerting it on others.

When you throw ‘god’ into the picture, however, then we’re back to battling with the confusion over why in some places moral standards seem to be so strongly opposite to other places, why they change so drastically over time and why in the beginning they were so savage. If his argument is to be taken seriously, then ANY human standard is permissible – because ALL of what EVER existed MUST have reflected the “ABSOLUTE” god’s standard of morality… Shall we then go ahead do us a lovely human sacrifice, anyone?…

(side note: ‘making sense’ proves nothing, and ‘feel it’s wrong’ is actually perfectly viable – our self-preservation mechanisms tell us that, shit, pain HURTS, duh! Thus we don’t want to be hurt. Thus we can’t really hurt others because if we do – they come back hurt US, and we don’t want that to begin with, so OF COURSE we feel that it’s wrong!)

Ehm his “fall of a cliff see a branch” analogy doesn’t work just as the elephant doesn’t… You see, in the REAL world we actually have enough prior knowledge and experience to KNOW for CERTAIN that upon falling off a cliff ANY branch must be grabbed. There is NO debate over it in anyone’s head, unless they’re committing suicide or base-jumping over “hmmm, should I try grab that branch? I wonder if it’d hold me hmmm, what are the chances, let’s calculate…” because they’d be flipping DEAD by “I wonder”! Branch is a REAL instrument for a REAL purpose – that of REAL salvation.

God, on the other hand, is a purely hypothetical branch of a purely hypothetical salvation from a purely hypothetical ‘danger’… It’s also purely irrelevant to our lives here on this planet… Also, Pascal’s Wager…

Personal commitment… Again – if you commit to employee (and don’t forget they also commit to employer), there is a two-way exchange in REAL TIME with REAL consequences in REAL TIME and IMMEDIATE FEEDBACK on the merits of this commitment. God?… FAIL.

Lonely detective story followed by “you know what a gospel is?” – yes: WORK OF FUCKING FICTION just like that detective story! Get over it. If A BOOK is now THE REALITY, then we all live in some wicked bibliophile matrix!!!! Is this guy even sane??! Note on ACTUAL REALITY: the book’s AUTHOR IS THE REALITY. And no amount of her writing herself into the book makes the BOOK any more REAL. IT IS A FUCKING BOOK.

Now, if detective magically materialized in front of the writer and then fell in love with her and they got married and lived happily ever after IN REAL LIFE, then that’d be pretty awesome. Wouldn’t prove god, however, any more than my school drawing…

See, I once drew a person for school assignment: it was a young woman, and I can’t really draw. I tried, but she turned out with disproportionately narrow shoulders. Not enough to re-draw, but too narrow. Long straight blond hair, oval face… Several years later i Frankfurt airport a young woman walked past me who looked EXACTLY like my drawing! I saw her and thought “whoa, that’s HER! I DREW HER!” – long blond straight hair and disproportionately narrow shoulders, too! Gift of foresight, you wanna tell? No. Out of all the people on the planet of all shapes and sizes, I was in fact very likely to one day see someone who in my mind’s eye would trigger the ‘recognition’ of the image I once drew. There are in fact many girls like her that could ‘fit’ – she was simply the first one I noticed.

“Watertight person Jesus Christ” was so ‘watertight’ that he most likely never even existed in history…

And here he goes quoting the babble on ‘god’s will’ and we all know where that one goes… (reminder: slavery, rape, forces abortions by violence, abuse and torture of fellow humans, child abuse, spouse abuse, human sacrifice, manslaughter and genocide, destruction of property – are ALL ‘god’s will’ in the babble, and here are just a few verses:

DEUTERONOMY 22:28-29 (If a woman is raped, she MUST marry her rapist): If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.

Exodus 21:22-25: (Causing miscarriage (aka abortion by violence) is perfectly fine by god): When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined, according as the woman’s husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Jeremiah 20:14-18 (aka ANY abortion is FINE by god – so you guys might wanna stop killing doctors and halting stem-cell research just about now): Cursed be the day I was born! the day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed! Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, “A son is born to you,” making him very glad. Let that man be like the cities which the Lord overthrew without pity; let him hear a cry in the morning and an alarm at noon, because he did not kill me in the womb; so my mother would have been my grave, and her womb for ever great.. Why did I come forth from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame?

Job 3:16-19: Or why was I not as a hidden untimely birth, as infants that never see the light? There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest. There the prisoners are at ease together; they hear not the voice of the taskmaster. The small and the great are there, and the slave is free from his master.

Ecclesiastes 6:3-5: If a man begets a hundred children, and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but he does not enjoy life’s good things, and also has no burial, I say that an untimely birth is better off than he. For it comes into vanity and goes into darkness, and in darkness its name is covered; moreover it has not seen the sun or known anything; yet it finds rest rather than he.

Exodus 21, 22, and 23 (aka hold slaves, kill witches and offer human sacrifice):

[21:2] “… When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing.”

[21:7-8] “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do.”

[21:26-27] “When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let the slave go free for the eye’s sake. If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free for the tooth’s sake.”

[22:18, KJV] “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”

[22:20] “He that sacrificeth unto any god save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed.”

[22:29] … “The first-born of your sons you shall give to me. You shall do likewise with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with its dam; on the eighth day you shall give it to me.”

Proverbs 23:13-14 (aka if you actually DO have a kid, feel free to beat the living crap out of it or kill it if it develops its own mind): Do not withhold discipline from a child. If you beat him with a rod, he will not die. If you beat him with the rod, you will save his life from Sheol.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21: If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father; or the voice of his mother, and, though they chastise him, will not give heed to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, “This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.” Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall purge the evil from your midst; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

Numbers 31:17, 40 (aka rape, slaughter, destroy): [Verse 17, Moses says:] “Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.”

[Verse 40:] The persons [women who had not known man by lying with him] were sixteen thousand, of which the Lord’s tribute was thirty-two persons.

I’m sorry but cherry-picking only the good stuff from the babble is no less delusional than the rest of his ‘arguments’…

On his ‘answer’ to human rights rebuttal (which is somewhat close to my own, except I didn’t talk about gene spreading, as our species is far beyond that, but rather about empathy, social interaction, safety from harm and so forth), he once again goes conceptual about ‘human rights ARE there’… No, aren’t just there, and also which ones of the human rights are we even talking about? Right to be spared cruel and unusual punishment and torture? Find me TWO people who agree on what that phrase means down to detail!

Baff! So now we went from ‘god dictates human rights’ to enlightenment is one path to human rights, Christianity is another? Super so I’m in for enlightenment full-time then and… why are we listening to this guy again?…

Then right away he goes to ‘individual rights are MORE IMPORTANT than those of community… WOW… I can write a whole essay on just THAT one sentence proving how fundamentally screwed up such logic is… I mean… WOW… He obviously knows nothing of human rights, and sounds like he equates INDIVIDUALISM with human rights and mixes those two up in a very weird way…

His arrogant self-righteous ass comment on “it’s pretty hard to see human rights grow out of any other religions” is egocentric bullshit… Crediting Christianity, out of them all, FOR emergence of human rights??? Oh don’t make me buy a ticket and come to your house and whoop your lying ass with thorny lashes!!! Human rights movement ONLY came out of enlightenment, you asshole!

USA CONSTITUTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Okay I AM buying a ticket… Learn your HISTORY, arrogant asshole!!! This is SUCH a common bull from apologetics I’m not going to even waste space on it, wow!!! WOW!!!! (NOW I’m mentally screaming!)

Compulsion to create… Nope, doesn’t come from god – it’s a by-product of our brain’s other functions and actually a continuum to insanity because creative process is literally a glitch in the proper workings of the brain… It has its advantages, which is why it flourished, but it’s a ‘mistake’ of nature so to say.

Jesus ‘argument’… ahem… Let’s even leave aside the fact that Jesus is most likely a fully fictional character to begin with, and his ‘miracles’ are a re-tell of something via a hear-say game of Chinese whispers over several generations recorded by non-eye-witnesses, etc, etc… There are people who are declared dead, put into morgues, then into coffins (all of this over a course of several days) and then actually come right back alive at the funeral service (if they’re lucky… And if not – 10 feet under ground… just like in Hitchcock’s short film on prison escape…) – let’s go ahead worship THEM? And if “no” is the answer, then why not? What if they live a remarkable life and actually heal people etc, too? Are they god?

NO. They are regular human beings with maybe one or more of the many extraordinary talents on this planet who happen to ‘resurrect’ and not gods, at least in our view… So how would Jesus’s presumed ‘resurrection’ (he could have just gone into a coma for a few days, DUH!) that allegedly happened 2000 years ago and of which there is absolutely no supporting evidence other than ONE fucking damned book would all of a sudden sound any more convincing? Well guess what – it doesn’t.

As to his point on Christianity being the ONLY religion where god talks to people directly… Oh, REEEEALLY???? Go read Greek ancient mythology, Egyptian ancient mythology – they all had gods who mingled daily with humans in all the possible ways imaginable!!!!! Does this guy know anything at all about other world religions?… Dang!

OOOKAY, finally this drivel is all over… I’m off to bed but seriously, if anyone in their right mind after a bit of thought and consideration and fact-checking can for some reason find anything that this guy’s talking about COMPELLING – then I am Michael Jackson’s incarnate and a ballerina at Bolshoy Ballet. I rest my case.

Posted in Controversial, Matters of faith, Random wisdom, Videos | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Sex with close relatives… Yip, I DARE ponder!

I hope I am already renown for wrecking all imaginable havoc, although usually more so among people who encounter me personally. Something tells me, though, that this one will be a much hotter topic than many others I may touch upon…

I was lucky enough to end up discussing this issue several times, and here is my line of thought. Btw, before you crucify me, try to approach the topic scientifically for a change, see what you think when you don’t allow the pre-conditioned emotional response to take over. So, here we go:

1. The seemingly in-built aversion to the idea of being sexually involved with close relatives, such as siblings, parents, children, aunts, uncles and cousins (aka incest) stems from a biologically pre-programmed mechanism of preventing in-breeding.

As can be empirically seen (and lately scientifically proven and explained), a non-diversified genetic pairing in offspring is more likely to result in anomalies, passing on of inferior traits, diseases, weak characteristics and so forth. This is why most complex organisms seek out the most genetically remote partners for procreation. Actually, one of the reasons why the ruling monarchs in Europe had been generally short-lived and of frail health was exactly the fact that most of them were all as close or closer to one another as cousins.

In short, it makes perfect sense for the mechanism to evolve that would prevent this from happening (i.e. aversion, non-attraction to genetically close people)

2. Now, that being said… If you consider the new developments in the realm of, namely, contraception, which means that the risk of pregnancy from a sexual encounter can be practically brought down to almost none (or take it to the surgical level where the prevention can be permanent and 100% effective), the need to avoid at all costs engaging sexually with one’s close relatives is… gone.

Of course, the “moral” arguments will be thrown at me in a whimsy, but think about it fully objectively for a minute, emotional psychosis aside: fully objectively, from the viewpoint of nature, the only risk of sex among closest relatives is derogatory consequences for potential offspring due to interbreeding, and that’s gone now…

So if Luke Skywalker never learned that Leja was his sister, they could happily ever after live together… They probably could even pull off a healthy baby or two, since they had, as far as I recall, only 1 common parent (do correct me, Star Wars fans, if I’m wrong :) )…

But even if not and say they knew, they could simply avoid pregnancy by, say, some form of sterilization and live together wonderfully well otherwise…

Who knows maybe in a few generations the ‘sex among relatives’ taboo may slowly wear off just as ‘sex before marriage’ one (the main evolutionary cause for this one is making sure that the offspring that the man will be providing for by supporting the woman during pregnancy and both of them during first most risky years of child’s life is definitely his) is losing its grip in the developed world every day…

What do you think?

And while you’re thinking – here’s something to consider: more states in the USA allow marriage between first cousins than gay marriage…

No comment needed

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On matters of belief…

This is the map of the strength of religious belief in the world. It very closely corresponds to the map of the GDP distribution in the world…

As some of you have noticed on my Facebook, I had recently been engaged in active accumulation of various sources of information regarding some of the world’s mythologies considered, for whatever reasons, as ‘holy’ and most commonly known as ‘religions’.

This hunt had been inspired partially by the events of one crazy Monday (and specifically, the evening of that crazy Monday).

Some of the people who know me not but have actively engaged in the lively discussions that followed have, somehow, jumped to the conclusion that I had just that week discovered a grand set of YouTube videos that have ‘opened my eyes’ and made me want to share… Well, that’s wrong. My viewing of all organized religions as canonized mythologies that had long outlived their purpose in this world and should slowly retreat to the same realm ancient Greek or other myths have gone to has not been shaped overnight, and definitely not after watching a video or two. That organized religions and the idea of a personal god are, to the large extent, nonsense, is a conclusion I have began my journey to way back when I had first read the first of those story books – the bible – at the age of 7. Since then, absolutely every field of knowledge and pretty much all observations of this world available to me have confirmed my premise.

Nevertheless, the ‘witch hunt on the believers’, or what one of the most outspoken of the people who have invited themselves, by commenting on my posts, into the discussions on the topic, had labelled ‘cyber bullying’ (aka asking some simple questions and making some simple points) had unfolded last week in full bloom on the social platform that had only recently become such a predominant forum in people’s lives. In the course of all the madness that followed, I have acquired some valuable links to sources that illuminate different aspects of religion for what it truly is – an irrational belief system, that often justifies emotions and actions that a rational human being would not normally conceive of otherwise (such as strong hate, sense of absolute righteousness, some divine insight, and all the way down to abuse, whether physical or mental or verbal, denial of rights and murder, even on mass scale).

Of course, all of the above foes can be also justified by many other causes. I doubt, however, that people are so happy to hate unless they are acting on a premise that those against whom their actions are taken are ‘less deserving’ of an equal, respectful treatment than the in-group. Religion is one of the strongest, most emotionally and communally vested venues for creating a very potent sense of the in-group, privy to the understanding and knowledge no one else can possibly grasp (until and unless they choose to take a leap of faith and, in defiance of any reason and logic, as well as evidence, decide to accept one of the numerous myth books out there as their source of absolute, uncontested truth and moral and practical guidance for living a life). It is equally potent in providing countless justifications for unequal treatment of anyone from any of the out-groups. Whether this is simple vocalized or implied condemnation to eternal residence in hell or outright persecution does not matter: the point is, anyone outside of the believing community, whichever one it is, is viewed as inherently inferior to those who are ‘in’.

Now, many might argue that in many modern churches of whichever religion the outsiders are welcome and no one is viewed as inferior or unworthy. I humbly disagree. The premise of pretty much every religions is that it holds THE most ULTIMATE, uncontested truth and knowledge. By the virtue of that premise, anyone not fully being a part of the belief group in that given religion is, by definition and however ‘welcome’, in a sense ‘not there yet’ in understanding, not yet fully aware of the ‘absolute truth’, the ‘ultimate path’ and the ‘proper way’, whatever any of those might be. I am not even going to mention the male-dominated system of most organized religions. A priest at a church or an imam can preach for hours about equality of men and women, if they choose to, but please show me how many females hold high-ranking positions in their churches… Finally, any all-welcoming and non-segregationist new-age developments within the religions most prominent today are nothing but a marketing strategy. Regardless of the good intentions, if any, simultaneously truly belonging to and accepting a set of beliefs proposed by any of the holy texts is a paradox. It is an impossibility, for segregation and discrimination, as well as condemnation of everyone else outside of the in-group, are all inherent parts and premises of the holy texts. What it means in practice is that one is either a ‘true believer’ in one’s faith, OR a tolerant, all-welcoming human being. The moment a church or a person within it begins to nudge-down on the inherent segregations of any sorts, they stop being a true part of that religion and simply become those who loosely cherry-pick some of the most suitable bits and pieces of their favorite book for their purposes, whether public or private. The ‘true believers’ thus, by definition, are segregating in nature of their thinking and premises. They operate on the self-validating, and however subtle (although mostly it’s not subtle at all), premise of moral and intellectual superiority to everyone else. Once someone starts viewing someone else as morally inferior, however, or inferior in any other way, then the wide pathway to all sorts of abuse, discrimination and the like is paved. And, scarily, it starts like this.

You are welcome to read some of the preserved discussion threads on my Facebook (unfortunately, two of the most lively and thought-provoking threads have been deleted by the FB account holder on whose wall they took place, while in one of the threads on my wall the hateful comments in all caps have been deleted by their original author…) for some entertainment. Note that I do not claim to be extremely ‘politically correct’ in the discussions that took place, but I just the same think that ‘political correctness’ has reached its limits in this world. So here are some links:

The discussion originally with Dianne (who then deleted her comments and myself from her friends list), following her spiteful remark on my FB status that concerned equal rights to all and gay marriages specifically (she lashed against it on the basis that ‘god never intended for there to be any gay marriages’), can be found here. You can guess what she said by the replies that still remain.

A parallel discussion happening at the same time as the one with Michael (the thread to which the original link was leading. Unfortunately, that original thread no longer exists…) was happening here.

The discussion that followed my eternal damnation from Michael’s profile can be found  here.

And something ‘miraculously’ preserved – one of the threads on my wall that still bears Michael’s commentary here.

After all, when one is faced all the time with dialogue partners similar to Wendy Wright (what a name!), whom Richard Dawkins deserves a monument for not punching during the entire interview (below), it is very soon that all the extremes of political correctness wear off.

Based on my arguments, I have been labelled an ‘atheist’. I had also been labelled unknowing of what I’m talking about (although evidence suggests otherwise). Very incorrectly so, or at least only partially valid. I AM a 100% atheist, for countless reasons, when it comes to any myth-based religion involving a personal god (please look this concept up before assessing my position in the future – I had had to repeat myself about 20 times over within a single discussion thread and at least 4 times to the same exact person, who seemed to have completely by-passed me mentioning my very specific rejection of the existence of a very specific type of a god – a personal one. Btw here are logical reasons for my rejection). I just the same claim to not know (and to there possibly being no way of ever knowing) about the existence of some force that could be called ‘god’ or ‘divine’ for a lack of a better word. That, however, would have to be an indifferent FORCE, not a conscious entity obsessively involved with every single thought and action of, out of all things and species in the universe, human beings (how very egocentric of us to ever even conceive of that, by the way!). It could be the sum of all laws governing the universe, or an energy that is present in all universe when it’s broken all the way down to the smallest particles. Something truly omnipresent in a sense of having no spatial limits of form, size, location, shape or any other form of physical or psychological characteristics (the minute a ‘god’ becomes an entity separate from everything else in the universe it, in my eyes, stops being ‘god’ that is omnipresent. Let alone when it gets limited in size, shape, gender and character… I won’t ask you to correct me if I’m wrong because something just tells me I’m not :) ). Something truly omniscient in a sense of either being or holding (or both) all information in the universe about everything in it – every atom, every aspect of the universe. A personal god cannot know, for example, what are the experiences of the other gender than that attributed to it, or of the animals, bacteria, rocks, galaxies… It thus similarly fails to be omniscient the moment it becomes personal or defined in any similar ways. Finally, an omnipotent deity won’t impress me by fiddling with one little planet in the universe all the time. In fact, if that’s the best that ‘god’ can do, then god is one of the biggest losers ever. A truly omnipotent force will be powerful enough to initiate a set of general processes in such a way that they would inevitably lead to a specific outcome – like a universe as we know it. Granted that our universe (for all the tiny bit we know about it) may not be the only one that ever existed or will, and even the laws of physics and nature that we deem to be universal may differ in either other universes or even in some specific corners of our own, implying omnipotence of a god only capable of doing some lousy few tricks (on a galactic scale, causing a flood isn’t really a major thing. Floods happen, actually, pretty regularly for other reasons than miracles. And some are even man-made… are we then so powerful as the ‘god’ is, since we can cause floods?…) here and there is nonsense. Actually, we’re more powerful than a god because people can pray all they want for something but it’s getting off of one’s ass and doing something that gets it to happen. Same goes for disease treatment – prayers don’t work (or the little children that died of treatable conditions because their parents chose prayer over treatment would still be alive…). Medicine and treatments are much, MUCH, by a HUGE margin more effective than ‘god’ in helping other people. Prayer, at least evidence shows, helps make people… more miserable, if anything!

So this is the general set of premises upon which I dismiss any personal god in general. Then of course come specific religions, but that really means little because each has simply their own version of personal god(s) to it and thus are invalidated on the general premises.

Still, for the fun of it, allow me to present you with just a few of my questions and concerns addresses at, specifically, Christianity, since this was the subject matter of the manic monday chat, that have remained unanswered still. Further on, I will also post links to the sources that I have come across in my week-long ‘crusade’ of information gathering on the topic.

The question that I specifically can’t find answers to is, just to name the most burning one, the question of incest.

Incest is a sin punishable by death in Christianity. So:

A) Adam and Eve are our parents. They had two sons, one killed another. Thus you’re left with Adam, Eve and their 1 male child. According to the bible, these two guys have been taking turns shagging Eve in order to populate the planet. And the same behavior, in turn, was carried on by their kids. Case in point: the entire population of the planet is engaged in incest. That is, if the bible is correct.

B) Some try to argue that this story is allegorical. Fine. But then there was the great flood that killed off all living things except those who fit on one boat. Let’s leave alone the fact that, just looking at how many species of anything there are, this would have to be a by far bigger boat than could ever be built – let’s say, as Christians do, that this happened. But then again we’re down to 12 people of Noah’s family, who consequently shagged one another to re-populate the earth after the great flood… And managed to breed like rabbits with kids of all races and colors in the few thousands of years since the flood that lead us to our current 7billion population… Riiiiiiiiight…

Hence C) WHY is incest a sin at all when we are all, clearly, according to the bible, bastard children? This is my question. All without exception – we come from a single family of 12. I’m not even mentioning the fact that if god indeed tried to populate the earth with people that way, we’d all be dead by now. By the merit of mutations that happen when close relatives interbreed – the exact reason why incest was prohibited and still is. One can refer to the latest european royal families, take some period before WW1, to see it happening just in a few generations: genetic diseases were passed on, they were all each other’s distant cousins, and pretty much not one lived to an old age that was expected even by standards back then, many had problems with fertility and you simply name it. I didn’t get an answer, because the answer would have to would be “well, those stories weren’t really literally true”. From there, of course, all Christians are aware it’s the road only to “well, then NONE of the bible is literally true then…” and boom their body of ‘evidence’ goes out of the window. Thus it’s a question that remains unanswered…

Another question that remained unanswered was my medical almanac question…

Imagine you have a headache. I come to you and say “I KNOW what will DEFINITELY as the ONLY thing cure it”. You ask “what”; I say “bleeding”. You ask me “how do I know for sure it’s the right thing?”; I say “the smartest doctor of all times told me so”. “Where did you get the doctor’s words from?” “Ah, from this highly esteemed medical almanac written a few hundreds of years ago”… Then you’d ask me “but what makes you think it is effective and valid now, a few hundred of years later, and how are you so sure that that doctor was right in the first place?” I’d say “well it’s WRITTEN HERE IN THAT ALMANAC that it’s effective and that this doctor said so, DUH!!!!!!!!!!!” to prove my point….

If you hereby want to be treated by me – please take a number and stand in the line to be bled… (Somehow I don’t expect to be very busy in the upcoming days…)

I’ve asked Michael specifically to answer this question that could convert me to Christianity on the spot: “would you consider a doctor like myself for your treatment, and would you consider my argumentation of the proof of the exclusive effectiveness of MY cure over any other to be anything like valid?”

I never got an answer to this either…

Instead, I got a bus driver explanation for why ‘god’ wants us to ‘behave’: Michael tells his kids that if they don’t behave well on the bus, the driver may be distracted and cause an accident. Somehow in his eyes this explained why god wants people to obey some rules. Unfortunately, when I pointed out that if the bus driver is wasted (or, adding here, out of his wits crazy… or might have a heart attack on the go, or micro-sleep…) he’d kill all the kids regardless of how stellar their behavior might be…

A few more comments and I’ve earned not a patient, in the spirit of Christianity (as in, being a good ‘servant’ of god, a patient ‘messenger’ of ‘his word’… patient to guide the ‘lost sheep’ back onto the path… basically, in a course of a courteous conversation pointing out why I am wrong, what am I missing in my reasoning and showing me otherwise) explanation or talk but a condemnation in the form of de-friending on FB and blocking me from viewing his account. Dianne, when I asked her what her problem with homosexual marriages is when we are all children of incest, according to the bible, has also de-friended me… I just hope that Jesus still loves me though (LOLLL)

(He also loves lesbians…)

I’m not alone asking questions that remain unanswered. Many YouTube channels are devoted to that same purpose. Tough questions for Christians is just one (he also started questions for Islam in a new series),

while Why God Won’t Heal Amputees is one of the most popular ones.

And here I rest my case. Much has been written, so I leave the word to others but myself, as I am not a single source of the similar conclusions. Thus, introducing you to some rational thinkers’ propaganda material:

George Carlin was one of the most poignant thinkers in our world, one of the most clear-spoken, intelligent and critical thinkers. Although he presented many of the points in the form of comedy, they nevertheless are no less valuable and valid.

Here are his general thoughts on religion.

Something on related customs (like swearing on the bible in court).

Here is his view specifically on the 10 commandments.

And a few more punch-lines :).

Jim Jefferie agrees here, too…

YouTube users have been very vocal in creating their own channels challenging the canonization of some of the ancient myths… I guess this is a glimpse of hope :). I hope there will be more channels like this (or this) and the like on the web.

Moving on from the comedy domain to fact-gathering…

Excuses to Christ mythology… And the channel of GodAlmighty, whose amazingly well-researched videos tackle the issue of the origins of the biblical myths – NOT to god or Moses, though… :)

A very well-reasoned channel of a reformed Christian. Not just some reformed Christian, but a person who believed to the bone, spoke in tongues and, ironically, lost his beliefs through the ceaseless search for understanding god’s purpose.

I suggest to watch this whole (it would take around 1.5 hours). Very insightful and moving.

An extremely telling documentary on religion in general, simply called Religious.

An examination of whether religion is the root of much evil by Richard Dawkins is found in yet another telling documentary.

Part 1

Part 2

Not all is lost, and there is hope, as one can see from the conversion story above. Sometimes the path to healthy non-belief (in personal god(s)) begins with the simplest questions and/or thoughts and not with an elaborate search for the god’s purpose like the one shown above. Examples of such questions can be found in many places all over the web. For example, I’ve stumbled upon this reddit thread where users share what got them to get started on the path leading away from their specific superstitions. Some stories from the converts can be found on Richard Dawkins Foundation website. By the way, his The God Delusion, as well as the book by Christopher Hitchens God is not Great, are texts I consider worthy of being mandatory materials in schools. Many thinking critically people have examined the holy scriptures for their moral validity, if any. Here are just two sites devoted to the cause. There exist numerous clusters on the web of people gravitating to free though rather than blind belief. Just to name a couple, Freethought Nation or the many atheists’ blogs. Or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster that I adhere to :).

A glimpse of hope even came from a very ironic and unexpected direction.

And to end on a more positive note, a few videos with great quotes from healthy non-believers:

Finally, if you still think you were lucky enough to born into the ‘right’ faith – maybe this  very short list of some of the world’s deities will illustrate just what are the odds of such amazing luck (I’d suggest to mute the video as the backdrop song is a bit too noisy, unless you’re a fan of such stuff :) ).

Hope this was fun. Also hope the information here, if anyone deemed it worthy to actually check it, was worthy. Till the next post! :)

Posted in Controversial, Documentaries, How to..., Inspiring, Ironic, Material by other authors, Matters of faith, Random wisdom, Self-reflective, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Thought of the night 11.01.11

I’ve dreamt of an awakening my whole life,

I’ve waited, summoned strength, I’ve kept my cool

Only to realize – oh, fruitless fool! -

That I had been awake for all the while…

 

(p.s. that’s what showering does to people :) )

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The Marijuana Conspiracy: The true reasons why hemp is illegal

I have come across the article summarized below and it is another piece of knowledge I wish to share. Every time when it is appropriate, I include in my university presentations information on hemp and its immense potential. If you still think that it is a useless, intoxicating, evil plant, I suggest to do proper research on the subject first. The article below is simply one of the examples of the information that is both accurate and paradigm-changing for ‘anti-hemp-ers’.

The Marijuana Conspiracy: The reason hemp is illegal

by Doug Yurchey
They say marijuana is dangerous. Pot is not harmful to the human body or mind. Marijuana does not pose a threat to the general public. Marijuana is very much a danger to the oil companies, alcohol, tobacco industries and a large number of chemical corporations. Big businesses, with plenty of dollars and influence, have suppressed the truth from the people. The truth is, if marijuana was utilized for its vast array of commercial products, it would create an industrial atomic bomb! The super rich have conspired to spread misinformation about the plant that, if used properly, would ruin their companies.
Where did the word ‘marijuana’ come from? In the mid 1930s, the M-word was created to tarnish the good image and phenomenal history of the hemp plant – as you will read. The facts cited here, with references, are generally verifiable in the Encyclopedia Britannica which was printed on hemp paper for 150 years (read full article):

 

 

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Watch out for “The Corporation”

“The Corporation” is an award-winning Canadian documentary that dissects and exposes an entity we have come to view as an integral part of our existence. It is tale of the inherently flawed design of the global market’s basic units. Avoiding the common traps of unfounded, emotional dirt-smearing, the documentary almost poetically tells it all about behind-the-scenes of the free market show, its self-justifying major players and unpredicted, far-reaching consequences. Watch this enlightening film online for free and share your thoughts.

 

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New year’s message to the world edition 2010

Depending on the calendar you might choose to use, a new year had, once again, began. Hopefully, it will bring on positive changes in our lives and in this entire world…

This time I am writing after the holidays again, which is probably a right decision, because otherwise this message would have been written in a rush and would definitely have had a different tone and idea to it…

I would like to start with (well, right after the belated holiday greetings and all the best wishes and blah blah blah… :)) the changes… small to the big ones, shall we?

I’ve decided to change my e-mail address, which is the small change. I will not abandon my old account completely, but it has acquired too much spam over the years I’ve had it. I’d like to have an e-mail that will be only used for my real friends and no one else… You might think that ‘real friends’ is a sketchy category, especially in my case, when most people I know and who matter to me live thousands of kilometers away, and some I haven’t seen in years… But all of that is actually very relative, when you think of it… On the grand scale of things, we all are connected in this universe… Besides, every person we meet in our lives we meet for a reason and not just like that. We may never know why exactly, but all encounters are meaningful. Actually, if you are a recipient of this particular message, it means that you are one of those people who had made an impact on my life, and this is my way of thanking you for being – simply being on this earth, and having shared a no matter how short or long of a fraction of my time here on this planet with me. I value you, regardless of how many years have passed since we met, or how many months since I last heard from you. There is something YOU gave me in my life of which the value will never fade, and you will be remembered as long as I stay capable of a sane memory recollection (with 4 languages my chances of Alzheimer’s are thinner, according to researchers, so inshallah thy shall be remembered till the end of my life mmwwaaahahahahaha :):):) ).

You know, back to the ‘no matter how long ago’ part… In the end of life, it’s the people one had met, experiences one had had, memories one had acquired that compose the most valuable treasures and possessions of a human being… Nothing material is brought into this world when we come here, and as the song goes that I’ve heard playing at an internet café in Tenehir, Morocco, about a week ago – “you can’t take it with you when you’re gone”… In my humble opinion, we should remind ourselves of this very self evident but evermore so forgotten little truth… And assign value to things that really matter in life – those who make our life the way it is, who make us smile, who give us strength, as well as those who teach us our worth by creating obstacles on our way – those are the true treasures. Memories of unusual, fun, crazy, hard, stupid, but in any case character defining things we’ve done – these are the real gems. stories we can tell, impact we have made on the people and world around us – that’s our true immortality…

Let’s not lose the connection, for all we have in this world that make it a better place, a place worth caring for, a place worth exploring – it all comes from and thanks to the connections with other people around… We forget it too often – to stay in touch, to say a few kind words here and there, but it makes a world of a difference to hear from an old friend – it makes the world home, makes it smaller, makes it one big family…

In 2009 I received less than 10 greetings for my birthday and for x-mas/new year’s… and it made me think, with all the e-mails everyone has, all the cellphones, facebooks, im’s and such – how come? Maybe we live in such a fast-communication world that even last hour’s news are no longer news? So we don’t think they’re worth sharing with others? Or maybe the knowledge of the fact that anyone we wish to contact is “just” a click of a mouse or a button on the phone away from us diminished something very very important – the value of human contact? Because now it’s so easy and instantaneous, can be done any time, that if you don’t send that e-mail or make that phone call right now, you can always do it – an hour later… this evening… tomorrow… over the weekend… after that party… in a month… next holidays… and in the end what happens is you don’t – you don’t call. You don’t write… Because you can always do it any time, and ‘any time’ ends up never…

12 years ago I had no e-mail and no cell phone. my 2 close friends at the time wrote letters to me – the real paper ones, handwritten and all… We wrote each other regularly every 1,5 months or so, with a lot of news. Our letters had sections – latest news, thoughts, music, school, love… They were pages long and took hours to write – back when there really was little free time for it with all the school homework load and everything that needed to be squeezed in between… I still have them all – those letters… When I got the e-mail address, I was psyched – it’d be so great I will be able to keep in touch more regularly with everyone! Or so I thought… Those people who I got detailed news from and shared events and thoughts from my life with – they have my e-mail, my phone number, and the last time I heard from either of them was a quick meaningless exchange of something like “Hi how are you” “I’m ok and you” “me too. What’s new?” “Oh same old. You?” “Yeah same here… gotta run! Mwah!” over 6 months ago… something makes me think that something has gone terribly wrong in this world…

Today before sitting down to write this, I clicked around the net aimlessly for a while (wasting that same time I could have otherwise used for sending some love to someone…) and ended up on 10 travel resolutions… definitely from a US site, since the very first thing was “finally get that passport” :)…(it’s actually a fun short read) but the one thing in particular made me stop and think was number 4 on the list:

“Travel with a close friend or family member.

None of us is getting any younger. Time is our most precious asset, so hoard your vacation days and travel with the folks who matter most. Swapping messages and weekly phone calls can’t compare with sitting together on a plane for five hours and then zip-lining through the rain forest. Wait too long, and you’ll regret it.”

You have no idea how true this is… Or maybe you already do – so make no such mistakes in the future… I didn’t make new year’s resolutions this time, but I came up with one goal I hope I will maintain: to stay in touch with people that matter to me, to let them know they matter, to show the care – while I still have the chance of having them around, and much, MUCH more often than I usually do… There are all the means in the world available for communication, so the least straining and the most rewarding little thing is to call that friend of yours you’ve been meaning to call in months… Or all your friends, for that matter… To call your family, to tell them you love them, to listen to their ‘silly’ chatter and news – while you still can… To write those you cannot call, and to make it something more than “hi, how are ya? Long itme! What’s new?”… Put an effort into it… You can write all people who matter in one evening – all it takes is not playing lil farm life on facebook that day… And makes a world of a difference, really…

Which brings me to change number two – the world of a difference… We spent the new year’s eve in the pension lobby in essaouira, morocco, talking to an almost 50 years old global trotter of a lady, who travels to help the local people, till 4 am… She is one of a hell of a kind of a reminder to all of us, most much younger than her, that the only way to make a difference in this world is NOT by sitting on the butt and hoping to make a difference and wishing for a better world… It’s by doing our little part, little as it is, but if we DO it – then things change… It’s by thinking positively, by thinking constructively that we can all turn the course of history around and make earth a much better place to live on. there’s technologies and projects for fully sustainable cities (some already being built, due in 2011 and 2012 and 2015), there are small things that make huge differences in people’s lives to see that it doesn’t take millions of dollars and hours to really make an impact – read all stories on the left to get inspired, will only take you 20 minutes…)

There’s SO much we all can do to bring that change about that we all hope for somewhere deep inside – so DO it all! Because you can, and I can, and facebook farming can wait. Seriously – it can. And changing this world – that CANNOT wait. It has to be done now. Best yet – it CAN be done. Much easier than we all imagine to ourselves…

So I guess my message for this year is the following: think positive, ACT upon it. This is the only route to bring about all the yearned for changes… And stay in touch. Don’t let the illusion of instantaneous access to all people that matter to you get a hold of you. That TV program you “have to” watch tonight might be extremely entertaining. It might even be educational and expanding your knowledge and worldview – fair enough. And those crops in Farmville might be also excessively important to harvest… (well… ehm… not)… but all of it can be actually done later – a program can be downloaded, and the world won’t crumble down if the facebook game won’t see you for a few evenings… When your virtual crops wither – nothing at all in your world changes… When a relationship with an old friend of yours withers – the world changes rather significantly, because one more human tie, one more degree of warmth between human hearts – is forever lost… Reconnect with those people who matter to you, thank them for what they have been in your life… Because what you can NEVER turn back is the opportunity to share the love and care and a part of life with someone who may no longer be there… start with your family, close friends – call them. talk them. Write them a long email… stay in touch – these people may not be here tomorrow when you’d have no other TV show to watch. Sit down and write them tonight. Make this world a warmer place for everyone to live in, because regardless of climate – it’s the warmth of human heart that keeps it all turning and going around and gives any value to our otherwise relatively insignificant existence on this planet…

Happy 2010 to you, and let’s make the world a bit closer, warmer and better this year.

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