Archive for May, 2014
I have always said that the concept of eternal heaven, or anything without parole and a way out, really, whereby one spends eternity just being happy with ones loved ones – no drive, no seeking out truth or knowledge, wonder or laughter, no challenges to the way we view the world and ourselves – just being happy forever and ever with loved ones, seems more like hell and punishment than bliss. Who wants that?
Who wants to spend eternity like that? It sounds boring to me and lazy and simple-minded and as I would imagine hell, actually, not a state of contentedness.
Existing in absolute bliss with everyone for eternity while being forced to worship a narcissistic egotist that creates you one way and sets the rules at the exact opposite to see if you fuck up so he can punish you, is not enticing
In fact, anything that involves eternal anything without parole or a way out seems more like hell – metaphorically speaking – than a blissful paradise.
Taking away someone’s choice and with it autonomy is just about the worst thing that can happen to anyone as it is just another form of control, in which case, then, heaven becomes nothing but a gilded cage.
Most importantly, however, the concept of a paradise – as pertaining to human existence – seems unreal. The good cannot exist without the bad. In fact, goodness or heaven or bliss do not make much sense without their counterparts.
In paradise, there is no passion, no drive, no ambition, no hope, no imagination, no creativity…because those things are borne not out of paradise and bliss, but out of the growing pains of existence. There is no passion, hope or imagination in paradise because there doesn’t have to be. All is good – there is no reason to invoke anything else or strive for anything else. It is like having everything in life and nothing left to hope for or strive for. That seems like a pretty boring, if not torturous, existence to me.
Not that i wish for evil to happen but human existence or existence itself is tragic. Death and the end of all things conditioned (at least by what we understand as existence to mean) play a powerful role in that. Imagine how fundamentally different our existence would be if there was no death.
Furthermore, the concept of heaven and earth – much like good and evil, light and dark – seems too simplistic. Like Star Wars, where everyone – with the exception of Han Solo – is an archetype of some sort: a guru, a princess, a chosen one, an evil emperor, or a woolly mammoth.
Real people, however, and their lives have trajectories, a motivation which grows and shifts over time, realistic interests and ambitions, a satisfying or dissatisfying growth and so on. Real people have real flaws, hopes, dreams, setbacks, and strengths. People in a perfect heaven don’t.
The concept of heaven and earth is very childlike and simplistic. Everything is expressed, assessed and viewed in very simple, child-like terms: good guy versus bad guy, good cop vs bad cop, light versus dark…heaven and cotton candy and bliss versus the dark underground, fire and burning in hell. It is just too easy.
Eternal bliss is one of things people always dream of or think they want, but if you really think about it, it is just boring. It doesn’t feed the soul or imagination. On the contrary, it leads to its degeneration.
I totally get it. I mean just the other day, an orange disobeyed me. I called the orange a total jerk, and said I would never speak to it again.
God sure does work in assholish ways…
A woman who claims to have been kidnapped by Isidro Garcia 10 years ago has escaped and is now telling her story, being especially grateful that God has been with her and her family, even though she has been through hell in the past 10 years.
“He worked hard for me and my daughter and he bought everything I want, but I need love of my family – not things. I’m happyi [now]. God is everything“, she said.
The young girl was raped and forced to give birth to Garcia’s daughter, who is now three years old. The two have been reunited with her family and give thanks to God for the reunion and for never leaving their side, even when things looked their worst.
“I’m so happy and God-blessed to be with my family. That’s what I want all the time. All the time, I cry for them, more for my mom and my sisters,” the unnamed girl said.
Yes, God, thanks for sitting on your ass for ten years. You dick!
Some of the most tired arguments by religious people against atheism and atheists is that atheists are “too harsh”, “not accommodating enough”, that we are “mean”, “disrespectful”, that we enjoy being smarter and more rational than everyone else” (like that was an insult), that we “ask too many questions”, are “haters”, that with our repeated questioning and inquiring we “kill the positive mood”, that we rather be “right than loved”, that we are “intolerant”, “trolls” and enjoying telling little girls and boys that Santa is not real.
Such accusations are usually thrown around by people who have either failed to or refuse to argue atheists based on merit, instead resorting to sophistry to derail the discussion and obfuscate in order to, ultimately, cover the fact that they really do not have a valid argument.
Using fallacious arguments result in the discussion no longer being about content, but about tone, and how something is said, and that what they what is said just doesn’t sound after-school special – that it makes religious people feel bad etc.
Another similar type of argument, if one can even call it a “argument” – or line of “arguing” are ad hominem attacks and other petty personal attacks.
In this case, the obfuscation and diversion is achieved by going for the low blow, by trying trying to “invalidate” the atheist by not commenting on the content of their message but their personality and mind-set, the point being that if you poke enough holes (imaginary or not) into an atheists person and character, you can show how invalid they as peoples are altogether.
Like being an atheist was some sort of a pathology – a flaw, a defect – that was only brought on by some kind of a dysfunction. “You sound bitter”, “you sound angry” , “you sound like an asshole”, “I feel sorry for you”, “you seem to have no love in your life” blah blah yawn are the common retorts of religious folks who harbor a special kind of loathing for atheists.
One such especially loathed atheist under a constant barrage for being very outspoken about religion is Bill Maher.
People think he goes too far, that he displays “unmitigated bigotry”, that he is too disrespectful or not respectful enough of religion and religious people. That he is “mean”, a “hater”, “too harsh”.
In a recent interview with TheBlaze, actor Sean Astin, who is famous for starring in such classics as “The Goonies“, “Son in Law” and “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy, remarked that Bill Maher is a “cripplingly intellectually abusive atheist” who does a disservice to thoughtful people with his “excessive need to promote atheism.” He went on to say that dismissing “a feeling that millions of people are having is not very generous of spirit.”
Now, I admit that Bill Maher’s particular brand of humor is not for everyone. If you watch his show and expect to find politically correct assertions, a “balanced view” on unmitigated and institutionalized Conservative racism, misogyny, hypocrisy and harmful policies or if you expect him to talk politely about religion, then you will be sorely disappointed. Maher says it like it is and he doesn’t hold back.
That said, the issue with Astin’s assertion is not really so much Maher’s brand of humor – which may or may not be palatable to some – but that behind Astin’s sentiment that Bill Maher is “intellectually abusive” because he dismisses the “feeling that millions of [religious] people are having” lies a fundamental failure to understand criticism of religion in the first place.
The fact that Astin frames Maher’s mocking and dismissive attitude towards religion and god as being problematic because it doesn’t take into account the boo boos of its followers tells me that Astin, just as a lot of people who criticize atheists, simply does not understand religion and its harms, because if he did, he would not try to give it credence or worse, defend it.
Because, the thing is, behind Maher’s tongue in cheek attitude towards religious people and religion in general, lies the understanding, which I share with him, that religion is harmful – a point which a lot of people miss.
If you have to ask me why I am contemptuous of religion, mock it, speak out against it, advocate against it, write about it and critique it as much as I do, then you simply have not understood why religion is a problem in the first place.
The problem with such an approach is that by turning perpetrators and transgressors into victims – which is essentially what Sean Astin and other religion-apologists do all the time, you disappear those that have been harmed by those perpetrators.
In other words, instead of asking about all the people who are hurt and killed, discriminated against, dehumanized, their Human Right’s trampled on and otherwise harmed by religious people and their “feelings” every day, the victim in this scenario suddenly becomes the very entity doing all the killing, discriminating, dehumanizing, harming and subjugating.
So Maher’s words offend a bunch of religious people – boo fucking hoo – but what about all the myriad actions, in the form of policies and laws, regulations and penalties by religious people that have been harming, and continue to harm, countless of other people? What about their rights to not be subjugated, oppressed and discriminated against? What about their feelings?
Frankly, dear Sean Astin, if you are more concerned about not ruffling the feathers of religious people than you are about the detrimental consequences of religion and religiously influenced policies, then clearly, you missed the point.
What Sean Astin is advocating is basically a watered down, neutered and wishy-washy type of atheism, as if atheism and religion were not mutually exclusive and fundamentally at odds with one another, as if religion wasn’t harmful and as if atheism could just embrace religion and go with it.
What Sean Astin and people like him who keep commenting on someone’s tone when it comes to the subject of religion ultimately want is silence; say it once and shut up. Only speak when asked. He wants atheists to stop speaking up, to stop “promoting” rational thought and fact-based knowledge, to stop pointing out and fighting against the dangers inherent in religion.
The thing is, silence empowers bullies. It empowers ignorance, oppression and wrongs. So does a false sense of decorum and phony PCness.
Let’s do a little mental exercise here and imagine Sean Astin criticizing anti-racists, for example, wondering why they “dismiss the feelings that millions of [white supremacists] have. ” Most people would be outraged and cry racism if that were the case. That is because it not only would be racism but because decent people know that racism is wrong and harmful and that there is no acceptable amount of racism. Such people would not think that we somehow owed it to racists to remain polite and respect their racism and their (harmful) feelings and assertions born out of racism.
Yet religion and its followers get all sorts of leeway and passes even though religion is just as harmful to people as something like racism.
This is religious supremacy and it happens all the time: religion and its followers, despite harmful actions, directives and messages, are not viewed as harmful and detrimental – instead, they are sympathized with as these unjustly judged people who have feelings they do not want to see bruised and questioned, even if those “feelings” cause real harm.
Again, if Sean Astin understood that religion was harmful (just as racism is harmful), he would not be defending the feelings of its followers In fact, I doubt he would even consider their feelings worth defending because there is no virtue in defending harm.
At any rate, the message atheists give, if you shave off the tone, is ultimately a positive one and I would say that it, in fact, is incredibly “generous in spirit” to assert to the religious that not only can they be good without god, but that their thinking minds are capable of more than believing in fairy tales. That they can conquer the world by intelligence and not merely by being slavishly subdued by the terror that comes from it.
That the concept of god and religion and the fairy tales, bigotry, hate, genocide, and ignorance entailed in them is a conception quite unworthy of self-respecting human beings who constantly debase themselves as miserable sinners.
Suggesting that we ought to stand up and look the world frankly in the face; that we ought to make the best we can of the world without god(s) and if it is not so good as we wish, try to change things by employing knowledge, kindness and courage, instead of superstition and fairy tales; suggesting that we do not need a regretful hankering after the past or a fettering of the free intelligence by the words uttered long ago by ignorant men, that our intelligence and empathy can create a meaningful future, thus extending to the religious the same capacity for intellectual authenticity and rigor that atheists celebrate, is hardly offensive or abusive.
A balloon flies past Pope Francis during his general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Wednesday.
This picture captures Pope Francis’ essence quite expertly, because Francis (like all other Popes) is really just an inflatable air head. He is a figurehead, a caricature who contributes nothing to the world but thin air, a facade, lies, hollow words without backing, recited compassion, dogmatic empathy, ignorance, judgment and hate masked under the lofty, airy yet thin veneer of god and religiosity. He is a hollow shell, a stand-in for peoples’ desire for answers and meaning, even though he offers nothing in return but lofty words that pacify your mind and make you sleep better at night.
Donald Sterling is a racist scumbag and worthless human being. He is a white supremacist who has been hating on, harassing, bullying and discriminating against black people all his life and it is doubtful that anything is going to change about his behavior anytime soon, despite his half-assed, desperate, insincere “apology” about the things he had said to his girlfriend in a private conversation over the phone about black people.
It is entities like him that are part of the problem and if he is going to lose a tiny piece of a kingdom that he undoubtedly built at the backs of those he hates, harasses, bullies and discriminates against as a result of his gross rank racism, I will not lose any sleep over it.
That said, I completely and fully support Donald Sterling’s right to be able to say whatever he wants to anyone in a private conversation without fear of persecution and without losing his business, pay fines or be subject to similar reprimands. And I do so, not because I particularly care about Donald Sterling or the Donald Sterlings of the world (if you ask me, the only good one percenter is one behind bars) but because by upholding Sterling’s right to say whatever he wants in a private conversation without having to pay for it professionally, I uphold my own right to do the same.
I admit, it’s a difficult point to make given the collective outrage that sprung up once Sterling’s comments were broadcast.
But that is hardly the point, is it? Because what I am trying to get at is that people should be able to think what they want and say what they want in private conversations, without the fear of losing their business and their jobs.
We cannot, and should not, go after people for their privately held beliefs, especially if those beliefs are shared in private conversations with partners, spouses, friends or even on Facebook.
To be clear, this has nothing to do with the First Amendment. The First Amendment merely protects a person’s right to free speech without government interjection and persecution. Since the federal government did not go after Sterling after his remarks to his girlfriend were published, this is not a First Amendment issue here, and it is rather bothersome that people who do defend Sterling’s right to say what he wants erroneously use the First Amendment and “free speech” clause to make the point.
What this is, however, is a matter of living in a society in which people are able to express their personal thoughts to those around them without the fear that doing so may cost them a job, a promotion or their business.
Donald Sterling’s private words (just as your private words, and my private words and John Doe’s private words) should have remained private – even after they were published.
He was not talking to anyone in HR demanding, and thus in a business capacity, that they not hire any more blacks or recruit any more black players for the Clippers; he was not having a conversation about his sentiments about black people in a business capacity; on the contrary, he was talking to his partner over the phone about his racist views on blacks.
Sterling should have the right and freedom to think what he wants and say what he wants in private without fearing that once his thoughts are public, he may lose his business or have to pay a substantial fine for holding those thoughts. it is ridiculous.
Going after Sterling for thinking that blacks are less than sets a terrible precedent and tomorrow, in a not so cut-and -dry case, someone may use the same rationale to go after someone who supports Socialism, or atheism, or after someone who works in a Conservative firm but supports gay rights.
Do not think for one second that doing what was done to Sterling is going to be merely confined to the “bad guys.”
Liberty in America is a transactional experience. In affirming the right of a man to express an opinion in the privacy of his own bedroom (however obscene that opinion may be ) I affirm my right to express my opinion in the privacy of my home.
In affirming the rights of bigots to freely express themselves in any venue, I enhance my own freedom to oppose policies indifferent to popularity without fear of retribution.
It is a two way street.
In condemning the freedom of one man you condemn the freedom of all.
We must live in a country that punishes based on people’s actions, not based on their opinions or thoughts that they express to partners, spouses, friends and family in private conversation.
Simply because a man holds a view that 98% of Americans don’t like and it leads to declining revenue does not justify what the NBA did. By this logic, an owner who tells his wife in the privacy of his own bedroom that he supports the Communist party, can then be banned by the game due to capitalist outrage.
The irony here, of course, is that Donald Sterling was, in action, discriminating against blacks and racial minorities in his housing communities for decades and no one cared, not even these very black Clippers players who are now so deeply offended.
In response to the 2003 suit, one of his property supervisors testified that Sterling said all blacks “smell” and are “not clean,” that he wanted to “get them out” of his properties to preserve his image, and that he harassed tenants and refused to make repairs until they were forced to leave, according to depositions obtained by ESPN The Magazine
Gross and blatant housing discrimination is Sterling’s biggest offense and it was documented, even with the Department of Justice that sued him (and no one can tell me that the honorable NBA and Clippers players did not know about it). Yet, it took insulting and alienating a few wealthy athletes and sponsors during a private conversation to finally give this piece of shit what he deserves.
Something is upside down here. Fining Sterling and pressuring him to sell his business because of what he said in a private conversation is going entirely too far.
I condemn this Clippers owner because he violates everything I have worked for and believe in but I defend his rights of expression just as ardently as they were my own.