Saturday, February 15, 2014

Music To Heat Up A Snowy Evening

Chick Corea & Gary Burton - La Fiesta

Great duo playing.


Wish I'd Posted This Before

Eva Sollberger's Stuck in Vermont looks at Art From the Heart

This year Art from the Heart, a program of Burlington City Arts, celebrates 20 years of connecting children with art supplies and volunteers at the Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care. Eva visits with some young artists who are busy making Valentine's cards with extra special love and care.

Day After St. Valentine's Day

now that, more nearest even than your fate

and mine (or any truth beyond perceive)
quivers this miracle of summer night

her trillion secrets touchably alive

— while and all mysteries which I or you
(blinded by merely things believable)
could only fancy we should never know

are unimaginably ours to feel –

how should some world (we marvel!) doubt, for just
sweet terrifying the particular
moment it takes one very falling most
(there, did you see it?) star to disappear.

The hugest whole creation may be less
incalculable than a single kiss

e. e. cummings

Reading that I can't help but have the feeling that Cummings, for all his yankeeness, must have been an extremely passionate person.  I mean, is there any more all encompassing faith expressed in the power of human love?

"No one reads your boring blog"

Well, I know that's not exactly true, Blogger collects statistics on hits and I've got it set so it doesn't count my hits so there are more than four-hundred of those most days, at times several thousand,  other than my checking up to see how badly I wrote something and, sometimes, managing to fix it.

But the lack of popularity leaves me entirely free to say whatever seems to need being said, removed from questions of audience approval, ad revenue, something I've been tempted to change, only to be held back by my worry that I'll write to increase hits instead of for a better reason.   I look at Charlie Pierce who, after decades of scribbling away in relative obscurity, finally attained a national audience commensurate with his abilities.   His pointing out some unpopular truths about Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald brought an enraged reaction, threatening the loss of his newly found popularity, and, after that, he varied his tune for that particular dance.  I doubt I have a more resolute character than Pierce, I don't want to test what my reaction to mass popularity might be.  Happily, providence seems unwilling to lead me into temptation in that way.

I don't care if you don't read me but complaining about what I wrote, even in your fragmentary skimming of it, isn't any way to convince me that you don't hit on it.

These Are Important Questions To Ask The Atheists Who Insist They Will Win In The End

I know that I said yesterday was going to be the end of this exchange, but the questions and issues it raises are important as atheists claim that they will soon or eventually "rule the world".   Just what would happen to rights and equality under the atheist framing of them.   I will point out that "kogwonton" deals with the points and questions raised by either distorting them or clipping them, "cherry picking" if you will, the least salient aspects of them.  That prevents him from really dealing with the problems his framing poses for rights and the moral responsibilities that constitute the foundation of democracy and a decent, egalitarian society.  You will remember we left off last night on the point that Lincoln raised about a black woman's right to eat the bread that she earns without needing the permission of any man.   A right that was denied by the slave power that the Dred Scott decision had just upheld, which was what Lincoln was addressing.  The social consensus had not "created" that right, under the atheist framing of rights.   The Taney court had used that as a fact to deny that black people had the rights set out in the Constitution.

These are real questions and they have real life consequences as dramatic as any in our history.  Whether or not governments respect rights, equally held is the most dramatic and powerful issue in the exercise of the moral obligation to respect those rights possible.   The brutal dictatorships of the past three centuries, since the articulation of those rights became common place and an aspiration of hundreds of millions, then billions of people around the world, are the real life example to study to find out what variou framings of those issues lead to.   The results of those put into practice in the past are what people should learn from as they are our only real-life evidence of what you can expect from those different framings.   Just as the "founding fathers" based their secular framing of the United States governments on the lessons of recent European history, making all religious viewpoints politically equal, we should learn from subsequent history to show what different religious understandings of reality can lead to, so we can make an informed choice in which to put our faith in.

kogwonton  Anthony_McCarthy • 14 hours ago
So, then, morality and human rights are as real as your opinion, and become more potent when others agree with you? Excellent. Now we're getting somewhere. The fact that a black woman in 1857 could be prohibited from eating bread she earned with her own hands proves that her 'right' to do so was not an objective reality, but that others agreed and fought to make it real felt that it SHOULD be a reality. It became such when enough people believed it, and forced it to become real. What is and what should be are not the same thing. I would agree with you that all humans should be regarded as equals, at least in terms of the law is concerned. The facts on the ground show that this is not the case, and I don't see gods coming down here to make it so. If they did I would celebrate.

Anthony_McCarthy  kogwonton • 12 hours ago
It proves that the society you give the power to "create" a right deprived her of her natural right, as Lincoln put it, the people who did that and the country that allowed it were in a state of sin. They deprived her of what was rightfully hers.

If, since the polls that atheists are always whining about show that a majority of Americans don't trust atheists enough to vote for them, do atheists have a right to run for public office?
If an atheist, managing to avoid answering the question of their atheism, won an election with the votes of people who don't believe an atheist should hold office, does that atheist have a right to hold the office? If your answer is yes, where did that right come from?

kogwonton  Anthony_McCarthy • 11 hours ago
Atheists have a right to make noise, make their arguments, and convince society that equal rights means equal rights for them also - that is, if society claims to believe in equal rights. If society doesn't really believe its own bullshit, then it won't change, and ultimately will have to resort to force to sustain the status quo. As it always has. You let me know the next time you see God come down here and lay down the law. Ok?

Anthony_McCarthy  kogwonton • 9 hours ago
Don't dodge the questions, answer them.

Do atheists have a right to run for office if the majority of the voters don't trust atheists enough to vote for them?

If an atheist is elected while concealing their atheism from voters who don't believe an atheist should hold public office does the atheist have a right to occupy the office?

If they do, where does that right come from?

Don't screw around with stuff irrelevant to the questions, if your theory is right, that societies create rights you should be able to answer these questions.

kogwonton  Anthony_McCarthy • 9 hours ago
Read your question dipshit. "Do atheists have a right to run for office if the majority doesn't trust them enough to vote for them?". Of course they do, you idiot. They have a constitutional right - which was created as an obstacle to consensus being a matter of whim. It is built into our constitutional democratic republican system. If the majority doesn't vote for them, they don't win. Their right to run for office comes from a constitution that was ratified by people, not god. The point is, while I may agree that rights SHOULD exist, I don't agree that they actually DO as an objective fact, apart from the will of people. This does not mean I have no right to appeal to my constitutional rights, since 'rights' is the default position (at least in theory) of the system of government we live in. If you want to point to a document that established rights, Magna Carta actually conferred human rights. You could argue that the bible influenced them, but it was the decision of people that made it happen.

Anthony_McCarthy  kogwonton • a minute ago
You don't want to deal with the question, the questions. If, as you frame their existence, the reality of rights, they depend on social consensus. I did not specify any particular society we were talking generally as to whether or not atheists had equal rights in any society that hadn't done for atheists what you insist is necessary for those rights to exist and be real.

Under the atheist framing of rights, if the majority don't trust atheists with public office, they don't even possess a right to run for office, win or lose. The favorite whine of atheists that a majority of Americans poll as not being willing to vote for an atheist for president is baseless under atheist framing. In the United States the law and the constitution could be changed to deny the exercise of the right to run for office to atheists and, under your framing, that would not constitute a violation of rights because those rights wouldn't exist.

Though we didn't go into it, specifically, if the existence of rights depends on social consensus, then a changing social consensus could make rights go extinct. If The People of the country, by vote, and then their representatives, by changing the constitution, said that atheists were untrustworty, due to their their lack of a belief in sin, unworthy of having a right to hold public office, give testimony in a court of law, serve on a jury, sign contracts, etc. your atheist framing of rights would force you to admit that atheists in that country did not have those rights. The social consensus they depend on would not exist so the rights couldn't exist.

Which is why I asked the second question that if an atheist managed to win election while concealing their atheism with the votes of people who would not vote for them if they knew they were an atheist, does that atheist have a right to hold the office.

I knew you wouldn't answer those questions honestly because if you say no, you just denied the validity of the rights of atheists in societies that don't hold atheists have rights. If you answered yes you would be at a loss to explain where those rights, not "created" by that society came from .

See what your atheism forces you to do. It forces you to deny the reality of the rights of atheists. I look at this and I look at the history of atheists with control of governments, which have been, in each and every case a violent, oppressive dictatorship, often the result of a brutal power struggle among competing atheists and think that may well be the real life evidence of what happens under the atheist framing of rights. There has to be a reason for that uniform characteristic of atheist governments in the past.

That atheists as brilliant as Karl Marx held the most deluded, view of the French Revolution, in which revolutionaries, atheist materialist parties spouting the phrases of liberty, equality and fraternity, turned on each other and chopped each others heads off, is testimony to the ability of materialism to make its adherents as blind to the most potent of reality. The mockery that the revolutionaries in France made of their motto in that fratricidal bloodshed should have made even someone less impressed with the questions of equal rights as Marx claimed to be, notice the lapse between profession and act. Yet, even today, alleged radicals, in just about every case I can remember, atheists hold up that first experiment with government by "rational materialists" in some absurdly romanticized historical fiction. Perhaps they don't notice the blood so much for their rose colored glasses, but they should be able to see the heads all over the place. And that was just the first experiment with a :"rational, scientific, materialistic, enlightened," atheist regime. The subsequent examples confirm the lessons of that one.

I really do think it makes all the difference in the world whether or not you believe rights are the equally distributed gift of God's grace which everyone is morally required to respect on that basis. It has in real life, allegedly the scientific acid test of all theories. In the absence of that belief held with sufficient strength by sufficient numbers in a society, all hell breaks lose. And even atheists suffer the consequences, except those who are the most ruthless who climb to the top of the mountain of bodies.

Friday, February 14, 2014

My Hate Mail Bag

tells me that the kewl kids at Baby Blue are still saying the same old things they've been saying, over and over again to each other, day in and day out, for the past eight or nine years.  I've heard of people with seriously disabling OCD obsessions, even worse, really hard core Trekkies,  who had more varied intellectual lives.  Not to mention real lives.   

That's why the left goes nowhere in this country. 

To The Atheists At Alternet: Post Script Before Going On To New Things

Your demand for "objectively real" support for morality only confirms my point that atheism inevitably destroys morality because there is no evidence anyone could provide that you could not say was "not objective," using that dodge to reject it. The evidence for equal inherent rights and a moral obligation to respect those, even when you don't want to, even at your cost is as abundant as the human experience of what happens when those things are denied, slavery, rape, exploitation, murder, genocide.... Those experiences are as direct and as obvious as any other experience that the "Earth is objectively real" and the atheist demands for "objective evidence" and "proof" are merely ruses to deny what is as obvious as any other experience.

I also showed you that you bogus framing of rights as "created by "social consensus" means when a society that doesn't "create" rights for atheists that atheists who complain about their equal right being violated are delusional because, under that atheist framing of rights, those rights wouldn't exist until the very society that denied them created those rights. That is even worse than a society that refuses to grant rights that are inherent because those rights would not exist and there would not ever be a right if society didn't decide to change their mind. Your framing sets it up for a majority that benefited from the oppression, subjugation and even death of a minority group would be under no obligation to create rights for that minority and they could, rationally, honestly, deny that they had rights because it was solely in in their power to create or deny the creation of those rights, at a cost to themselves.

Your demand for "proof" in this is hilarious considering against one lame ass-covering quote by the pedophilia advocate, Vern Bullough, produced by yankee2, I produced the fact of Bullough's membership in a group that advocated the "normalization" and legalization of pedophile rape, a fact he admitted in his CV, something that his atheist colleagues in the "Humanists" and CSICOP and Paul Kurtz, who made him the "human sexuality editor" at Prometheus publishers all knew and couldn't possibly deny. I also gave him a link to the study of the sTARBABY scandal by Richard Kammann, a "skeptic" and atheist who, along with Dennis Rawlins had been one of the members of the upper eschalon of CSICOP and a "true dis-believer" until he had to face up to the scandal and the scandalous and unscientific behavior of Kurtz, George Abell, Marvin Zelen, Kendrick Fraiser, James Randi.... and virtually every one of the CSICOP luminaries who knew of and covered up the sTARBABY scandal.

I provided the evidence and you refused to look at it even though the sources of it were atheists who yankee and, obviously, you hold up as heroes. You are as bad as the people who deny that the pedophile priest scandal happened, covering up for men who went much farther than the bishops and cardinals who covered up, but who elevated a man who promoted making what those priests did legal and considered a normal part of life.

All of this is massive evidence that the consequences of atheists not believing in sin and so not believing it is a sin to lie, will twist reality into any lie that is convenient to their preferences and then twist it back when it suits their preferences, that is the morality that is produced by atheism, by a denial that morality is the product of God's intention in creating us and the universe. It is the product of your hatred of the God which the absolute necessity of the inherent nature of equal rights and moral obligations demonstrates, otherwise there is no explanation of the origin and presence of those rights. Your hatred of God leads you to massive and cynical dishonesty and an irrational and illogical substitute for God with "social consensus" which, as I demonstrated, works to destroy rights and moral obligations, making those subservient to selfishness. I suspect that selfishness is the real basis of your hatred of God. You hate having moral obligations imposed by God, and I think that is why you really hate God and look for any possible reason to deny God's reality.


kogwonton  Anthony_McCarthy • 14 minutes ago
You said morality and human rights had an existence as real as physical reality, independent of belief. Your words. That is the very definition of 'objective, dear.

Anthony_McCarthy  kogwonton • 2 minutes ago
I can assure you my opinions on this are real and they are anything but objective.

The reality of the right of a black woman on June 26, 1857 to "to eat the bread that she earned with her hands without asking leave of any one else", to quote Lincoln, was entirely real yet its reality was not held to be "objectively" real. It was denied by the law and society he was addressing after the appalling Dred Scott decision denied that black people had the rights of citizens, and, according to your framing, since the society slaves lived in did not agree, according to you her right didn't exist and Lincoln and she would have been deluded if they believed that she did have that right. I absolutely disagree, those rights were real if every single other person in the world, including Lincoln had said they weren't even if the woman, herself had been gulled into believing they weren't. They were always there because she was created by God in her image and given those rights by grace of that fact. I admit those rights and am glad of them, you deny they existed until society condescended to "create" them.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What I Pulled Off the Computer To Work On Fernando Sor op. 60 Really Easy Pieces

There are hundreds of really easy pieces for guitar, these are some of the best ones from the early 19th century.  It's kind of fun to go back to the beginning, so much less pressure than the hard stuff that comes later.

Nicholas Goluses Guitar

Why I Am A Christian

Anthony_McCarthy  kogwonton • 13 hours ago
I answered you on the demand for proof, that proof wasn't available, that those things in human life were the product of belief, morality is based on the belief that God created all of us and that we are equally endowed with rights and have a moral obligation to respect those rights on an equal basis. Every dodge for that point that you have proposed to get past that has only damaged the idea if not killed it off entirely.

kogwonton  Anthony_McCarthy • 12 hours ago
Ok, so your 'objective moral authority' is 'the product of belief'... I rest my case. Thank you for admitting that I have been right about you from the very beginning.

Anthony_McCarthy  kogwonton • 10 hours ago
Did I use the phrase "objective moral authority"? That would be odd because I believe I've written that God, having created us, knowing our thoughts, being all powerful, would not have a need to resort to objectivity in order to communicate with us. I've also pointed out that there is no such thing as objective knowledge, not really. In the end the only thing we can know is the raw experience of our own consciousness, everything else, every single thing, including mathematics, science, even the experience of logic is inference based on our entirely subjective experience. "Objectivity" is rather a myth, though I sometimes use the word to press those who believe they and their knowledge is objective.

kogwonton  Anthony_McCarthy • 6 hours ago
You truly are idiotic. If god exists as this omniscient figure upon whose command all existence is sustained, that particular perspective would be the only truly objective one - that of knowing in totality, of knowing from all possible perspectives, even that of the object known. That is the point. You make morality into some 'thing' that has an existence apart from the beliefs of human beings. Everyone has a sense of morality if they value anyone beyond themselves. It is a biproduct. Everyone, regardless of their belief, knows how they prefer to be treated, and that a formula for a civil society is to extend to others what they expect in return. Even dogs understand an sense of fairness. Laws are for people that don't get that. As for 'objectivity' being a myth, it is no more a myth than the smallest or largest possible unit of space or time. It is far less mythical than some big papa in the sky that tells everything what to be and what it all means. You have yet to offer a shred of evidence for such a thing.

Anthony_McCarthy  kogwonton • a few seconds ago
You are thinking way too small, imagining God as if s/he were some human being who has to learn about the universe through experience instead of the Creator who made every single aspect of the universe, knowing it more intimately than humans can experience. That practice, of trying to imagine God as if s/he were some superman is one of the things you guys share with biblical fundamentalists, which is why they are always talking about God as some kind of superman action figure.

You make the same mistake in considering morality which I have tried to show you isn't a thing that comes about because human beings make it happen. I tried to address your self-interest, something which atheists don't seem to ever be far from, showing you that if your rights and the obligation of others to respect them depends on social consensus, your complaints about being deprived rights not already so created is a delusion and that society has no obligation to create those rights if it chooses not to. You don't even have a right to equal consideration under your scheme so if they wanted to create rights for every single other ideological faith group, except atheists, you wouldn't have a right to equal consideration UNDER YOUR ATHEIST FRAMING OF RIGHTS.

The proof that my view of rights, as being inherent, equally distributed and co-exist by virtue of a real and consequential moral obligation on each of us to respect those rights, is abundantly supplied by human experience and human history. It makes all the difference in the world whether or not those real rights and obligations are believed to be real or if people believe with you that there are no inherent rights, no equality, no obligation to equally respect rights. The belief that those are real is what produces a just democratic society based on equal justice before the law, yours produces the full range of oppressive governments and societies in which people are denied their rights are even existent as a matter of preference, whim, custom and group privilege. And there is no explanation of those equal rights and moral obligations that I've ever read or heard articulated that doesn't rely on the fact that God arranged things that way. Materialism always, in every case I've seen it pushed that far, denies their reality and insists on a depraved view of life. Denying the best thing about reality, the experience of life, available to us to be known.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Oh, It Got Even Worse

What happened after last nights post (note the time stamps, I haven't sorted them chronologically but as they appear in nested form):

kogwonton  Anthony_McCarthy • 10 hours ago
Morality is not based upon some law or Divine decree. It is based either upon genuine concern, or it is nothing at all. Even the type of concern isn't necessarily relevant, since your actions are either based upon what you love or what you hate. Your morality will dictate your treatment of both. Rules and laws are external imposition of ethics, while morality is the expression of internally held values. You are right. Atheism is just as incapable of producing morality as theism. If you don't care, then you will express your moral position as such.

I'd be interested to see this exchange on your blog, unedited to spin your position in a better light.

Anthony_McCarthy  kogwonton • 2 hours ago
Yes, it is based in God's words and acts. That is the conclusion of human experience, the only oracle we have in regard to anything. All you can come up with is to pretend that morality depends on whatever the majority opinion in a society thinks it is, which could easily excuse any genocide, any enslavement, any gender, ethnic or class oppression so long as it is approved of the majority and that until they change their minds that any member of those groups that complain about being deprived of their rights, they are deluded idiots because those rights don't exist until the majority creates them. And, so long as that majority is benefited by the non-existence of those rights, that they have no moral obligation to "create" them to their loss. Your position is no better than the moral framing of slave masters and the most depraved societies in our history.

I am not impressed with people who preen in their superior sciencyness as they promote that kind of amorality, especially when they are trying to dominate the left, turning it into just another branch of the far right,.

kogwonton  Anthony_McCarthy • 12 hours ago
Yes, you have no moral imperative to help anyone if you don't care. If you claim to care, then you have that moral imperative, just as I would bear the burden of proof for any assertion I would make. Ethics is logic, which is math. Martin Luther King had a moral imperative which he based both in religious doctrine and upon the values expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. constitution. IF it says that 'all men' (and ultimately women) are created equal, and IF it can be proven that black people are human, THEN they must be extended equality before the law. How many religious people refused to accept this very simple math, and opposed MLK? They certainly felt no moral imperative to come to the defense of those who suffered terrorism by society, and oppression from the law? Did God come down and force them? No... PEOPLE forced them.

Anthony_McCarthy  kogwonton • 11 hours ago
I think you got lost on your way to the Ayn Rand Fan Boys site.
I'm a leftist, I don't buy your libertarian horse shit.

kogwonton  Anthony_McCarthy • 11 hours ago
Now I KNOW you're full of shit. If you think of me as part of Ayn's fan club it only shows that you truly have no idea of whom you are talking to. I fail to see how this last post even resembles an argument. It looks more like an infantile tantrum.

Anthony_McCarthy  kogwonton • 11 hours ago
Oh, to whom am I talking to? Oz the Great and Powerful?
You are a libertarian trolling what's supposed to be a leftist site, only it really isn't.

kogwonton  Anthony_McCarthy • 11 hours ago
I am an anarcho-syndicalist at heart, while I recognize that society isn't quite ready to do away with authoritarian forms of government. I do consider such to be the ultimate goal of a truly civil society - one in which people are civil and need no coercion to respect the rights of others. I could argue my position either from biblical or purely secular terms. My guess is that I'm well to the left of you. You are an authoritarian, as proven by your assertion that rights are things that God gives, rather than something that people take as a sovereign act.

Anthony_McCarthy  kogwonton • 3 hours ago
Just out of curiosity, are you based in the San Francisco area?

Anthony_McCarthy  kogwonton • 3 hours ago −

If you are an anarchist then you are politically irrelevant. Anarchism is a delusion. Whenever there is a vacuum of civil authority criminal authority steps in to fill the gap. That is the real life experience of an absence of civil authority, where that civil authority isn't democratic and ruled by exactly those moral prerequisites of the real left that we've established atheism can't provide, it is a fascistic civil authority. , Anarchism is a delusional fantasy, one which has proven quite able to be as ruthlessly violent as others. The violence that those who adopted "propaganda of the deed" including such anarchist stars as Emma Goldman were openly prepared to use rather ruthless violence to pursue their pipe dream and when they did the only political result was damage to the real left, the left that had any chance of making real political change.

The real result of your atheist-political ideology has been the enablement of the far right. Pretending it will ever have any other result is romantic fantasy.

NOTE:  I should be able to type two-handed after tomorrow, though it's clear I'm not going to regain full use of my arm, at least not for a while.  I hope to minimize these kinds of posts for more formally written posts.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


My exchange with "kogwonton" would seem to have just reached something of a denouement,  I'll let you read as he proves my case.

kogwonton  Anthony_McCarthy • 10 minutes ago
There is no moral obligation to do anything at all unless one cares enough. You have failed to show that human rights have any origins with divine mandate. The proof of your religious precepts having a very human source is utterly massive. You fail.

Anthony_McCarthy  kogwonton • a minute ago
Oh, you mean I can stand by and watch while some crackpot goes into some meeting of atheists and starts blasting away like Yosemite Sam and I'm only required to try to stop him only if I care enough. Or I can let some legislature somewhere make it a capital crime to promote atheism and I don't have to do anything about it unless I care to.

Well, I'm sure that the crackpots of the world will be happy to know that they're not bound by anything except what they care about.

Like I said, atheism is incapable of producing morality, whenever atheists whine about some moral wrong done to them they have to sneak back to religion to steal the things they're whining with.

I should let you know I posted a good part of this exchange on my blog earlier today and this makes a fitting end to it so I'm going to post this exchange as well. It proves my case better than if I'd put QED before it. Or. say, that's a good title for it.

Encounter With a "Theology Major"

Gerry  Anthony_McCarthy • 17 hours ago −
having read the relevant letters of Matthew Mark Luke and John , also don't bother lying about them being the ones that wrote those letters to the Corinthians , those books and letters were written well after the fact also( and as for your King James version of the bible and even the new christian version both were written a thousand and even two thousand years after the fact). initially written by scribes writing what the popes dictated to them. omitting what they thought to be damaging to their cause to further enrich themselves with property and slaves. the bible is written to control the masses that is all and if you are that weak that you need a book and an imaginary friend to tell you how to behave you are a pretty sorry person. I know how to behave and do right by those that deserve it with out all the fairy tales and hoopala.

Anthony_McCarthy  Gerry • 13 hours ago
Oh, dear. You must have missed the point that they wrote GOSPELS NOT EPISTLES. And Corinthians, is attributed to Paul You are so obviously lying about having read it that I'm not even going to bother answering your tripe on that.

If you weren't such an idiot you might take a guess from my name that I was not raised a protestant and so we didn't use the King James translation.

As I said, CFI must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel these days, not that it was ever a terribly deep barrel to start with.

Gerry  Anthony_McCarthy • 2 hours ago
yeah that's why theology was my major in college. and I see nothing in your "name" that would indicate you are nothing but a know nothing, think you know it all, christian, regardless of the denomination. so I suppose you are going to tell me now that you were raised catholic??? so was I but I got smart and left that superstitious crap behind 45 years ago.

Anthony_McCarthy  Gerry • 2 hours ago
"Theology was my major in college"
What "college" was that, MatchBox U? Oh, yes, I am entirely prepared to believe that a "theology major" would make the mistake of believing Matthew, Mark, Luke, wrote letters and that one of them wrote Corinthians. And I'm prepared to believe that Penn Jillette is a great figure of science on the same basis. Not to mention the stupid idea that someone named "Anthony McCarthy," obviously, on the basis of his statements not a fundamentalist protestant, was likely to be devoted to the King James translation of The Bible.

Theology major, your ass, you're a rent-a-troll hired by CFI or some other ideological interest group.

Gerry  Anthony_McCarthy • 2 hours ago
my comment about Matthew., Mark, Luke and John was generalized for your simple mind to comprehend. so where did you attend grade school ? that seems to be the extent of your education. in no way could you have even graduated high school with that ignorant mind set.,
I suspect you are the hired troll as you have done nothing more than insult and spread dribble, and try to make others engage in arguments. names mean nothing to me as to what your mama taught you. I too grew up catholic but realized soon enough that it was all superstition and bull shit and learned to think for myself and dismissed all the antiquated theories and stories, which is what any intelligent being that is capable of having a mind of their own would do. . not some brain washed idiot that has nothing but insults and lies to comment with.
I see nothing in your comments that indicates that you actually have any knowledge or intelligence what so ever as all you have done is repeat something you read in some noncredible book or saw on a site. nothing that shows you have the intelligence to think for yourself at all.
and you still haven't proven to me that your bible is all truth because you can't. you are like all the rest of the jesus freaks, you avoid the questions that are too hard for your little mind to answer.

Anthony_McCarthy  Gerry • 2 minutes ago
You already dug that hole to bedrock and back filled it over you, composting it with more bull shit won't do anything to get you out of it. You don't know anything about the New Testament, no one who did, never mind someone who had gone to Catholic schools or majored in theology, would have made those hilariously stupid statements.

Paul Kurtz was a noted cheapskate, his sugar daddy, the last Stalinist, Corliss Lamont really pulled back the sugar after he made such a botch in the sTARBABY affair. Apparently CFI is still buying its propagandists on the cheap.

Just to let you know, ger, I'm copying this and posting it as a humorous post on my blog. Say something even stupider so my readers can get another laugh out of it.

Nothing Could Endanger The Rights of Minority Groups More Than Believing Rights are The Product of Social Consensus An Exchange

Anthony_McCarthy  kogwonton • 8 hours ago
Well, show me where in atheism you can locate inherent rights. Who put those inherent rights within the people to whom they inhere, where do they come from. Then you can show me where in atheism you locate equality. And, trickiest of all, you can show me where in atheism you locate a real and consequential moral obligation to respect those rights on an equal basis, EVEN WHEN SAID ATHEISTS DON'T WANT TO RESPECT THEM AND IT COSTS THEM TO.

Go on, show me where you'll find those and then you can show me how they withstand the atheists' methods of attacks on things they don't like, like, you know, God.

kogwonton  Anthony_McCarthy • 8 hours ago
If by 'inherent' you mean some magical virtue or value which is true simply as a fact of being? For example, gold having an intrinsic value apart from what a majority believes about it? I say that human rights are a product of consensus, no different than the status granted to any saint or prophet, and evidenced by the fact that all authoritarian systems have shown a need to justify themselves. Human rights are the natural product of consensus achieved through good-will and respect. Why should it be more than that? I would say that the only reason anyone would even consider a religious belief is because it establishes a respect for the rights of the individual - at least in theory. If this weren't so, the religion in question would be seen as being morally bankrupt, and the god in question would be rejected - and its threats or bribes ignored.

Anthony_McCarthy  kogwonton • 2 minutes ago
"Human rights are the natural product of consensus"

Oh, does that mean in those societies where it's the consensus position that atheists should not have a right to hold office or be trusted to give testimony or serve on juries, that atheists don't have those rights in those societies and they should just suck it up and take it? You can substitute the words "black people", "GLBT folk", "Jews," whatever, in your elucidation of "rights" and the moral obligation to respect them on an equal basis. Because that is the rational result of that particular atheist dodge, replacing societal whim for God's grace. You have just made my point that atheism can't support its claim to equal rights because it denies that those rights are real and durable and that they come with a moral obligation to respect those rights even when you don't like the people, don't want to treat them justly and it costs you AND YOUR SOCIETY to do so.

You have just shown why atheists could accept the mass murders and genocides of the 20th century, most of them committed by atheist dictators and their atheist regimes, many atheists in the West supporting or excusing them. I should collect the times that prominent atheists justified or brushed aside the crimes of Stalin and Mao and even Pol Pot as they were happening on the basis of their imaginary "greater good". By which I have come to believe they really meant imposing an anti-religious regime which would wipe out religion once and for all, which is a remarkably persistent feature of atheist thought, regardless of variation in its accompanying suite of ideological positions.


kogwonton  Anthony_McCarthy • 11 minutes ago
I can show evidence for the evolution of the concept of inalienable human rights is a matter of consensus, because when people are introduced to the idea it jibes with their own desires for self-determination, freedom of conscience, of allegiance, and of thought. In fact, almost every religion or government on the planet in all of history has proclaimed itself to be a defense of justice and virtue which is, itself, said to be the sole means by which any society sustains its liberty. It is inherent because it is universal, not because it is some objective thing that exists outside of belief - no less than gold has value only because so many believe it does. I have an obligation to respect those rights because judgment goes both ways. I cannot say I love freedom if I refuse to extend it to others. It is that simple. If you think that the only reason people are good to each other is out of fear or hope of reward, then the law is a cruel joke and protects nothing. And you claiming that atheists accept mass murder and genocide is horseshit. Mass murder is a human thing, not specifically an atheist thing. Genocide has been done in the name of 'god' since the dawn of recorded history. You fail to show any evidence of human rights being something given by god(s). You either believe in them or you don't. Even your sovereign choice to agree with some moral code claimed to be handed down by the Divine is still just that - a sovereign choice based upon agreement. It is that or it is a lie.

Anthony_McCarthy  kogwonton • a few seconds ago
Your position means that in states where most people don't trust atheists there is no moral basis for atheists to protest when they are excluded from public office. You have just shown how the atheist dodge of replacing inherent rights with social consensus that they prove they can't even support their favorite whine "people won't vote for atheists for president".

You can't "show evidence for the evolution of the concept of inalienable human rights" but you can make up explanatory myths and fables pretending you can. And even if you could prove that the concept "evolved" that would no more remove the necessity of those rights being inherent, real and enduring on that developing understanding than the developing understanding of chemical bonds would remove the necessity of regarding those as being real and having been real even as peoples' understanding of the "evolved".

Your position would mean that anyone who society agreed had no rights had no rights. Anyone complaining of a violation of rights that society didn't create with that consensus would be deluded and they, in fact, would be because those rights would, under your framing, not exist. And if society never agrees that they have rights then those would never exist. Atheists in the United States who claim, against a societal consensus, that they had rights would be entirely delusional because, under your atheist framing, those rights would not exist.

Update 2 (slightly edited) :

Anthony_McCarthy  Anthony_McCarthy • a few seconds ago −
Thinking about this more, I have to point out something really dangerous in your claim that society creates rights by consensus. If that were the case than whenever some minority group or some individual complains and campaigns for equal rights that aren't granted by an existing consensus they can freely be ignored by the members of the majority who already have those rights, in whom you put the power to create rights.

Under your framing, they would be entirely correct and within their rights to refuse to create rights for, say, atheists, or black slaves or women for whatever reason they choose to not create those rights or for no reason other than mere predilection. There is no engine that could compel an unwilling majority that chose hot to to create those rights and no legitimate case for the deprived minority to claim that their deprivation was anything other than entirely right and proper.

You demote equal treatment which is denied from a right which is morally required to be redressed into a privilege that can rationally and rightly be denied by a majority which is benefited by withholding that privilege.  Or, even worse, an entirely optional favor to be granted. Which is a pretty dangerous belief to hold.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Caution To The Wind

Because I'm miserable with my aching arm and the remain of a cold, I'm throwing caution to the wind and posting a letter that Richard Lewontin sent to the New York Review of Book in 1990.   Just because I re-read it and I like it.  You can read Maynard Smith's response which doesn't really deal with the points Lewontin raised, here .

Are We Robots?

In response to:
What Can't the Computer Do? from the March 15, 1990 issue
To the Editors:
John Maynard Smith, in his recent review of Penrose’s The Emperor’s New Mind [NYR, March 15], has made a couple of remarks about the recent history and sociology of biology that need to be challenged both as factual claims and as descriptions of motivation.
In explaining the probable resistance to Penrose’s ideas among biologists as probably a consequence of the difficulty of the physics, he writes that: “Sociologists are hostile to sociobiologists for the same reason: if E.O. Wilson is right, they will have to learn some genetics.”
First, the fact: “Sociologists” are not hostile to sociobiology. Many are but many were quite positive toward the theory from its inception, and not only sociologists, but political scientists, cultural anthropologists, economists and other social scientists as well. My reprint files are filled with papers by social scientists explaining every human social phenomenon from aggression to zealotry using the theory of inclusive fitness. Second, the ascribed motivation: The implication that if only social scientists had the intellectual leisure to learn genetics they would embrace sociobiology, or at least give it a serious hearing, misses the point. I am not as ready as Maynard Smith to say where the ignorance of genetics reaches its greatest depths. The retreat of some early enthusiasts from sociobiological theory, and its rejection by many social scientists from the beginning, do not come from their ignorance of the facts of history, but from their knowledge of the phenomena of human social existence. By its very nature, sociobiological theory is unable to cope with the extraordinary historical and culturalcontingency of human behavior, nor with the diversity of individual behavior and its development in the course of individual life histories. Sociobiological theory depends upon typologies (“men would rather believe than know,” “sociologists are hostile to sociobiology”) which fail to correspond to actual contingencies. Sociologists who have rejected sociobiology have done so because it cannot be cashed out. It is too theoretically impoverished to deal with real life. My guess is that those social scientists who remain committed to the theory do so in the mistaken belief that a simplistic biological theory will do what simplistic social theories have not.
A bit further on in his piece, Maynard Smith again juxtaposes a “fact” about people with an assumption of motivation. “The people who are going to like this book best, however, will probably be those who don’t understand it. As an evolutionary biologist, I have learned over the years that most people do not want to see themselves as lumbering robots programmed to ensure the survival of their genes.”
Unless he has been carrying out a stratified sampling poll of Great Britain, John surely means “most literate and educated people, professors, students and people who write letters to the editors” since those are the people that he, and I, mostly know and hear from. But if what he says about them is true, then they are extraordinary masochists as well. They have made a best-seller out of The Selfish Gene in which the robot metaphor first appeared, and a popular intellectual figure and modest academic success out of its previously undistinguished author, Richard Dawkins, With enemies like these, people have no need of friends. Of all the vulgar errors about biology presently circulating. the notion that we are “lumbering robots blindly programmed” by our genes which “control us body and mind” (Dawkins’ original dictum) is surely the most popular by a long shot.
Is Maynard Smith suggesting that if only people could conquer their irrational dislike of the idea and understand it better, they would see that we really are such robots? He is among the world’s best biologists, and he knows as well as I do that every individual in every species is the unique consequence of a developmental process that is, at every moment, an interaction between the internal and external, between genes and environment. No organisms, not even ants, but certainly not human beings are robots controlled by their genes. But perhaps the ambiguity of his prose has misled me into asking whether he holds a view he does not have.
So for the sake of the “people,” let’s have a clear and unmistakable declaration. Putting likes and dislikes aside, and speaking as an eminent biologist, tell us, John, are we robots or aren’t we?
R.C. Lewontin
Cambridge, Massachussetts

Atheists Can't Depend on Atheism to Even Assert Their Rights

Note Updates Below

I almost feel sorry for Valerie Tarico who, obviously hard up for something to post, came up with

20 Atheist Quotes About Joy and Meaning That Crush ‘Angry, Empty’ Stereotype

The list is cribbed from what I guess is an atheist coffee table book which promises that through it you can "Explore the meaning and joy of life with 100 atheists in this book of photos and commentary featuring Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, Steven Pinker, Penn & Teller, Julia Sweeney, Alex Honnold, Derren Brown, and more!'

The full list of those shedding atheist joy and meaning includes, in addition to Penn Jillette !!! such blithe spirits as A. C. Grayling,  Christopher Hitchens, James Randi, James Watson, Patricia Churchland, "and many, many more!".   Considering this list, I wonder if that dear old sweetheart Jerry Coyne is one of those more.   

All in all, these are not folks I associate with goodness and light.   So, Tarico had her work cut out for her with anyone who was even slightly familiar with those guys

But her own experience should have dissuaded her from writing her cut and paste post.  Anyone who has read even five comment threads at Alternet, where she posts her stuff, would know to a margin within practical certainty that the Alternet atheists would immediately undermine her salvage effort with angry, empty quotes stereotyping the overwhelming majority of the human species who are religions.   You won't have been waiting with baited breath to hear that they have done that as certainly as the sun rose this morning.  


That would all be so predictable as to not warrant mentioning it, though how Alternet could continue to sponsor such obvious nonsense that it would know its readers would prove was nonsense might be a mildly interesting question to consider.

In the course of the back and forth was going on - you didn't think I wouldn't point out the above, did you - a question occurred to me that I don't think had before.  

Are atheists able to make a single complaint of their victimization that isn't based in a moral principle that 1. was not originated in atheism but in the religions that atheists hate and despise and lie about and try to destroy, 2. a moral principle that some well known atheist, adored by many if not most atheist, has not attacked as being delusional or superstitious nonsense.  3. present in any form within atheist assertion that would withstand the forms of debunkery that is the life's blood of atheism? 

Their complaint that they are not treated equally is one of the more common ones.  In its most aggravating form it's some Brit slamming the United States as being a cesspool of religious persecution of atheists,  they sitting on a country with an official state religion, which banned religious minorities from public office and a number of other things as the United States was a beacon of non-establishment with the law mandating that there would be no religious test to hold office.   A country in which discrimination against atheists is as illegal as it is any other covered group under the Civil Rights Act, a law adopted and put into effect by a legislature comprised almost exclusively of professed Christians and Jews and signed by a President who was a professed Christian. 

Anyway, the concept of equality in Western culture came directly from the Jewish scriptures based on the religious belief that we are all created by God and in God's image.  The principle of legal equality is present from at least the time of Leviticus,  some hints of it going back into Genesis.  The most dramatic expressions of equality in modern life, anti-slavery agitation, was certainly motivated by religion and not atheism.  To pretend that isn't the case is to deny aspects of the past far more amply documented and far more certain than any part of the geological record supporting evolution.  

Yet the greatest attacks on equality have been from atheists claiming that science negates equality among human beings and even among groups of human beings. The who's who of the "scientific" attack on equality, the attacks on it that have had the greatest effect in damaging equality,  are full of prominent atheists, some of them still held as heroes of atheism.  You've read part of that list here before, Ernst Haeckel, Francis Galton, Thomas Huxley,  Karl Pearson,  Francis Crick, W. D. Hamilton,  James Watson... The moral principle of equality is not discernible with science, it is not something that materialism can do anything but attack and damage.   If equality is real, and I believe absolutely that it is, its reality, its  political and social effectiveness, its manifestation in life, absolutely depends on religious belief because it can not be found any other way.  

As to the impossibility of atheists making moral stands that withstand atheist methods of debunkery, the list of atheists in the book Tarico based her post on contains the name of Rebecca Newberger Goldstein.  She was the one who did her best to turn morality into an aspect of the nature red in tooth and nail framing of natural selection  in its most dubious evo-psy manifestation.  It was her effort that Steve "bad religion" Weinberg shot down within ten minutes of her making it using the most primitive of atheist tactics, taking down the even more massive effort of utilitarianism with it. 

Atheists who want to claim their right to equality have to leave the territory of atheism to find what they are claiming.  Atheism can not produce an effective and durable claim of a moral position, atheists who want to assert even the concept that they have a right to equal consideration have to entirely leave the framing of atheism to make that claim.   If they can point to some nearly universal holding of atheism that can compete with the assertion that God created us all equal and endowed with rights for internal coherence, I'd love to see it.


Jeff Clothier • 13 hours ago −
We're actually pretty mellow folk, once you get to know us. Not walking around all the time with our head in the clouds and one foot in the grave does that for you. That I am not Yahweh's dust-puppet and my wife is not a walking sparerib is very comforting.

I only get angry and hostile when Theists act like they have the right to dictate how others live their lives.

Anthony_McCarthy  Jeff Clothier • 2 hours ago
Jerry Coyne, P.Z. Myers, Penn Jillette, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, ......

"I am not Yahweh's dust-puppet"

No, you're Richard Dawkins' "lumbering robots".

Update 2:
doubtom  Anthony_McCarthy • an hour ago
Atheism, you ignorant and pompous ass, is not a body of dogma, it is an 'absence' of the belief in gods,,, that and nothing more,, as such you have no business comparing it to any religion or religion's outlandish claims of being the originator of the concept of morality. You are beyond shallow in your arguments,,in fact you're closer to foolishness.

Anthony_McCarthy  doubtom • a few seconds ago −
Atheism is an ideology that can contain no basis for morality, no basis of civil rights, no basis of a moral obligation to respect rights. In short, as I've been pointing out, it provides atheists with no basis for asserting that there is anything wrong with anyone violating their rights. They can't even identify rights or obligations to respect rights for them to whine about other people violating. Deliciously ironic in that is that religion is exactly where they could find those things they are whining about and why the people who are violating their rights should stop doing that. Only they're so dull and arrogant that they can't admit that's the case.

You don't get it both ways, bunky, either you admit that you have to find your rights outside of atheism and, so atheism is a fatally flawed ideology that the political left can't build on securely, or you give up your whining about your rights being violated. You don't get to have it both ways.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

In Happier News

My friend, "X" (psst! He hates his name, Xavier) came over and tried out my new La Patrie Motif guitar for me to hear.  He reports it to have a wonderful feel, the left hand, even the barring is superbly easy and the tone is excellent for the size and price range. 

It does sound more like a 19th century "romantic era" guitar than my quite good modern guitar does and, when comparing 1960 dollars to today's, costs about a third the price.   The cast comes off next week so I will be trying it out and writing a review.   I would recommend it to anyone who wants to either begin guitar or who would like to have a guitar that sounds more like the pre-modern style classical guitar that has come to dominate the field.  

Answer To Snark By An Eminent Person

You mis-attribute motives to me in yesterday's post,  I am indifferent to the existence or non-existence of multiverses, unlike those whose stated motives in inventing the and promoting the belief in them, I'm not foolish enough to fall for their much hoped for ruse that they kill off God.  As soon as the first description of God attributed infinitude to him, in Exodus, I believe, that solved that problem.  As others have pointed out, an infinite God could create infinities of universes, though how you can have more than one UNIverse is a question in itself.

And, in a futile hope in proving to you that your hoped for use of the study of the one and only universe we have even any universe we have evidence of to kill off God, that problem for the believer was solved even earlier in The Book, in the first sentence of Genesis,  "Bereisheet bara Elohim et hashamayim ve'et ha'aretz,"  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  God created the universe as it is, as it was and as it becomes.  

What you can overturn is human understanding of that universe, as the geological and genetic record overturns the idea that all living beings were created within several days out of a week, which is a human explanation of things.  It's surprising that hard core, science worshiping folks like you wouldn't understand that overturning human conceptions does nothing to negate the reality of the thing they were mistaken about, isn't that one of your favorite pretenses about science, that it has that as a feature and not a bug?   Only, I don't believe your motives in that are honesty about science or its subject matter but as just another venue of your real goal in this discussion,  mocking religious people and what they think.  Or, rather, what you like to believe we think, that we all think the same thing, for a start.

No, my purpose for bringing up the multiverse brawl between Tegmark and Woit was the example it is of the lapses in your faith, scientism, materialism, and how much of what you mock and slam religious people for, you do yourselves.  Only, as you do it in the promotion of materialism and scientism, two of the great great pillars of faith among the would-be enlightened, modern, educated class, you don't even admit that's what you're doing any more than any of the more benighted writers of the medieval scholastic tradition were aware of the fuller picture of their narrow faith.   

In the Tegmark-Woit smackdown,  it seems to me that Woit is the more orthodox, insisting on their mutual religion living up to its founding principles.  Or, what turn out in practice to be pretended principles.   And I think that in those principles resides much of what is useful about science.   I more agree with Woit, though I think he's kind of a pill and quite clueless in other regards.   I think he is also the smarter of the two.   In that he has been absolutely brilliant in identifying, not only the defects in various strains of opposing materialist theology, string-M-multiverse sects,  but their utter violation of the more basic and, allegedly, agreed to points of faith.   So far Woit seems to me to win on that basis, though it certainly isn't as much fun to go after the crumbs of conventional physics left over from the previous three generations as it is to make up stuff out of nothing.  

About that making stuff up out of nothing.  It is one of the most amusing things about this, for me, to see how atheists among scientists, the ones who spend all of their time mocking the creation account of Genesis,  do exactly the same thing they mock as impossible for a rational person to believe was in the capacity of God. 

These multiverses are, literally, the greatest creation of universes described in human literature, outdoing Genesis by a power of 10500 at least if the Lords of Creation haven't thought bigger by now.  And it's done through, well whatever something that the physicists want to rename "nothing".   In one case it would seem to be that gravity is now the creator God, if not the even more nebulous concept of probability, as I recently wrote.   

Before that it was the enormous creation of dark matter and, then, energy.  That was created in a way that Tegmark cites as the motivation of the creation of multiverses, a faith in the power of vaguely defined assumptions of logic and what those can be forced to do when the equations don't balance or go as far as people needing to publish something in theoretical physics or cosmology desire them to. So perhaps the "modus ponens" is the God of that effort.

And, so as not to be left behind in the creation of stuff, the celebrity atheist biologists are in the act too.  Richard Dawkins and his faithful budget brand Thomas Huxley, Daniel Dennett are eminent magician-priests who are constantly creating genes and the proteins and higher structures derived from those genes as a materialist grounding for their creation myths.  Their creator God who gives them the power to do that is, of course, Natural Selection, the most potent of these atheist gods, having had the most power over human beings, societies and governments of all of them.   You might get kings, governments, and their bosses, the corporations, to build you an even bigger cathedral, uh, super collider, or so I'm reading.   But the god of Natural Selection has been infinitely more potent in commanding resources and sacrifices in human history.  

That is how I see this,  scientists are the modern priesthood of a religion that is materialistic, or, at least, many of the most well known of scientists are.  I recently had a link sent to me of an exchange on the old Eschaton blog, in which what was, obviously, a troll was goading the regulars about their entirely romantic and unrealistic view of science and scientists.  I believe the antagonist was a regular with an assumed identity, not the one I usually suspect but one of the brighter ones who still go there.  I don't think he was a right winger because everything he said was 1. obviously true, 2. accurate.   It's my experience of right-wingers that they can't go that long without lying.   And he really knew the others who can't stand to have the sins of the scientific priesthood pointed out,  the production of atomic weapons, conventional weapons, industrial pollution, dangerous, ineffective pharmacuticals.... I don't remember his exact list.   Even one of the regulars who I like, who is an actual scientist whose identity I know, was enraged that someone was telling the truth about what horrible things so many of his colleagues are paid to do by corporations and governments around the world.   It's been my experience of the scientific priesthood and the simple faithful of the religion of scientism, that they can't tolerate any criticism of their faith anymore than the most fanatical of Biblical Fundamentalists can, they become angry to the point of dishonest irrationality when you bring those things up.  It ended my friendship with several of them.  Only it's the truth.  

If science were not of such proven potency to effect the world, to destroy life on a small or on a universal scale, it would be less urgent to bring to bear the level of critical assessment to it that its apologists claim to be one of its main virtues.  Only, as can be seen everywhere, that is not actually welcomed or even tolerated. It is the rarest of things, to see a scientist St. Francis who goads the conscience of scientists to live up to their professed credo.  I have enormous respect for those few.  I honor them.