My favorite video of the day.  What makes this video so great is, at first, I had no idea whether this was real or parody.  You’ll quickly figure it out, unless, of course, you’re stupid.  Heh.  This video is absolutely brilliant!

Enjoy, you fiendish monsters!!

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Am I close-minded?

January 17, 2009

Am I being close-minded when I say that things like:

“There is no god.”

“Homeopathy is bullshit.”

“There is no such thing as reincarnation.”

I could go on, but you get the picture, right?

There was a time when I would’ve believed and sometimes did believe in any number of these and other similar, fantastical things.  What has made me so cynical, so doubtful of everything?

Years ago, I saw an interview on TV of Billy Bob Thornton, and, while I’m not a huge fan of his, he did say something that really stuck with me.  He said, “It is arrogant to say that something isn’t true simply because you don’t believe it.”  That statement has been like a koan for me all these years, and I think of it sometimes when I ponder the growth of my skepticism.

I really want to believe that anything is possible – that, for example, a woman performing Reiki can put her hands on someone dying of cancer and the patient is spontaneously healed.  (I do not, however, as is sometimes the claims of the religiously devout about atheists, yearn to believe in a god – I have no desire to live my life under the rule of a sadistic, absent, yet supposedly all-powerful and benevolent father figure “in heaven”, or what Christopher Hitchens humorously calls “a celestial North Korea”.)  It is a beautiful thought and many of us have heard of such spontaneous healings – but these are all anecdotal accounts and are hardly a good basis for any kind of proof.  Once again, my intellect, and my constant and insatiable desire to know what is actually true, will not afford me the faith that is required to completely believe in those accounts.  Of course, I really cannot rule out any possibility, but I also cannot fully embrace every “low probability event” as an indication of a likely trend, either.

In other words, I need proof, dammit!

But yes, haven’t all of us had experiences that we cannot explain?  I, for example, once had an out-of-body experience for which I have no reasonable explanation.  I was completely lucid, sober, not under the influence of any drugs, stimulants or any other physical stresses, such as lack of sleep, food, or water.   I can recall exactly where I was, the feeling of floating in the room, looking down at my body.  It was a bit alarming, but, once I got over the initial shock of it, the experience was also very peaceful and dream-like.  I was actually watching myself doing things as I was doing them.  Whenever I have spoken about this to others who are, for lack of better terms, “New Age-y”, they say things like, “Oh well, it was your soul yearning to be momentarily free of your physical body” or things of that nature.  They say these things so unabashedly, believing them so completely, that I sometimes – only sometimes, mind you – wish I had the ability to engage in that sort of willful abandon of my critical thought.

However, given that all my searching leads me back to the mind, the intellect, reason, logic, and critical thought, these tools obviously have their limits (at least at this point in the evolution of our species).  For instance, no one really knows, empirically, what atomic particles are made of.  (String theory, anyone?)  No one really knows the answer to my friend Marde‘s favorite question:  Why is there something rather than nothing?  No one really knows why – the larger why – bad things happen to good people.  Perhaps faith in the unseen is necessary for those who would otherwise lose themselves too easily in the idea of oblivion, or of the seemingly random nature of what is surely the miracle – yes, I said miracle – of our existence.

So where does all this mental meandering and search for meaning leave me on a daily basis?  Sometimes it leaves me breathless, when the search is frustrating.  Sometimes depressed, when the search seems fruitless or even pointless.  Sometimes overjoyed, when I reflect on the sheer luck of the draw that I should be existing at this moment on this amazing planet, for all of its and my flaws.

But most often, it leaves me with this belief, which I know I’ve written here before, but it is worth repeating:

I would rather know the cold, hard, unequivocal truth of something than be comforted by something that is false.

If you have a bit of free time to spare, you MUST watch this amazing display, broken up into 14 parts.  Hitchens v. Hitchens.  Enjoy, faithful readers!

Salvation is selfish.

October 26, 2008

Today, I’ve been thinking about the whole idea of salvation, as it is understood in the Christian religion.  Salvation, of course, is only attainable by “accepting Jesus as your personal lord and savior” and living a life free of sin, according to the good Christians.

Living a life free of sin, according to the devout, is of the utmost virtue.  And sin, of course, is defined by a human interpretation of the bible, which is taken to be the “word of god”.  (I sense a little room here for fallability and subjectivity, don’t you?)  Christians want the rest of us to accept their way as THE way, because some book of dubious origin said so.  (Like the ignorant bumper sticker I saw once – “god said it, I believe it, that settles it.”  They just think they’re so fucking cute, don’t they?)  But it seems to me that to live one’s life in constant fear of a celestial surveillance in hopes to gain said surveillance’s favor in an afterlife is psychologically twisted to the point of morbidity.  It strikes me more as an “alien despotism”, to borrow a phrase from Bertrand Russell.  And for that same fear of banishment from some desirable “heaven” to be the sole motivation for one to do good in the world would reveal not a strong moral character, but a truly selfish and cunning one.  It would rather that living a good and decent life in pursuit of one’s own good and decent hopes and desires without intruding on the good and decent hopes and desires of others, I should hope, would be its own reward here in this life.  Frank Zappa sang it a little more plainly: “Do what you wanna, do what you will, just don’t mess up your neighbor’s thrill.”

Religion is a paradoxical duality of sorts – a wholly individual thing and yet at the same time a collective entity.  Each member of any religious sect partakes individually in its rites – usually by birth or marriage, but somewhat willfully.  In the Christian religion, each member seeks “salvation through Jesus Christ” and yet they are all swept up together in a collective fervor that knows no reason or logic; rather, they are blindly following some handful of teachings and rituals that are self-contradicting, divisive and exclusive at best.

Salvation just strikes as such a selfish enterprise.  All of this charity and good-will seems to be just for show – because, in the end, it is each individual Christian who is hoping and praying that all of this “good deeds” stuff will add up to the correct sum on some score card and allow them admittance into the most aristocratic, elitist club in the universe.  Too bad for them that all scientific evidence and logic point to the contrary – that god’s heaven is the stuff of myth and fable, and each us – devout or not – are headed straight for the collective compost pile.

I did something nice for an old lady the other night, and she turned and said, “Thank you, and god bless you!”

No matter the circumstance – after a sneeze, after a kind word or deed, whatever – I just cringe whenever anybody says these words to me. I can’t help it! It’s an involuntary response. God bless you is just “one of those things you say”, left over from the days of the bubonic plague. But, instead of saying, “Don’t pester me with all that voodoo god believing bullshit”, all I could do was smile and offer a sweet and spineless, “You’re welcome.”

As much as people irritate me with their constant whining and wastefulness and needing to maintain and inflate their precious little egos, I actually have a rather soft spot for my fellow human mammals, and there is this small part of me that believes that, yes, if we could just stand around in a circle and sing Kum Ba Yah, then everything would be just hunky-dory. (I guess some of my highest ideals are still dangling by a thread.)

Don’t worry – I’m not getting all “foo-foo” on you infidels. I am just thinking: Do I really need to be full of dissent and anger all the time? I mean, so what if she believes in a 24/7 surveying celestial father figure who presumably has the power to rid the world of suffering and yet, for all the claims of his benevolence, has repeatedly withheld said power? I held the door for an old lady, she thanked me quite sincerely, it was a nice human Hallmark-card-material moment. In that moment, I could forgive her for being religious and superstitious – she was just being really nice, just as I had been.

**sigh**

Then, moments later, I read an article about “abstinence-only” education in public schools and I got pissed off all over again. Heh. Go figure.

Hitchens is tha bomb.

June 14, 2008

A moment from the archives – In the hours and days immediately following the death of Rev. Jerry Falwell, Hitchens is brilliant, absolutely brilliant, and holds so fast and true to his dissent. Enjoy, faithful readers!

All bark, no bite.

June 5, 2008

In an effort to keep my (anonymous) name in good standing, I would like to simply point out that, although I attack the evils of religion (and there are many) with great gusto, I don’t want you to think for one moment that I am some heartless bastard, as some folks have all too happily pointed out to me.

On the contrary! Here are some rather touchy-feely, hippy-dippy things that I really love (and some links to boot!): piano music, poetry, flowers, art, vegan cuisine, Rocky Mountain National Park, wide open spaces – oh my friends, I could go on and on! (There are also lots of darker things I enjoy, as well – perhaps we’ll save those for another post.)

It’s not uncommon for us atheists to withstand these types of character attacks from Christians. Aren’t these the same people who claim to follow the words of Jesus, who said things like “turn the other cheek” and all that Sermon on the Mount stuff? I mean, what is with these people? It’s either “eye for an eye” ultra-vindictiveness or it’s “love thy neighbor as thyself” ultra-compassion. Sounds like some sort of collective bi-polar disorder. Don’t they have medications for that?

Anyway, to make it short and simple, I want you all to know that I really am a nice person who doesn’t eat barbecued babies for breakfast or knock over Nativity scenes at Christmas time or marry off teenage girls to old pervos.

Carry on!