Above us, Only Sky

Politics, Philosophy, Science, and Everything Else.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The underlying humanity

I have many problems with any kind of religiosity. I think the intellectual lazyness nessesary for faith is a symptom of the worst tendancies in human nature. But this is all in spite of the solid fact that for the most part, I like the religious people I know. This is a simple extension of the fact that I like most of the people-in-general I know. I have a friend who I used to work with, whom I saw again recently, who is one of the nicest, most levelheaded people I know, who also happens to be one of the most openly christian people I've known. My grandparents, for whom I hold more admiration than for any other people on earth, attend church regularly and say prayers before meals. It is a fact I lose sight of sometimes in my anger towards the bad people of faith, that most people who call themselves religious aren't BAD. Huamn beings are, for the most part, selfish when they have to be and nice when they can. Religion, or its lack, doesn't say alot about how nice a person you are, or how generous, or how vigorous your intellect. Yes, I believe that more people should be atheists, that if people would just pay attention, they'd stop believing in that nasty old skydaddy and join those of us liberated from the supernatural, but it isn't happening. Most people don't care enough. They were raised with their beliefs, they are comforted by them, they don't feel compelled to do all that much outside their own inclinations by their beliefs- so why change, why put in the effort? I could argue with them- I have- but when I start to proselytize, I start to imitate one of the worst aspects of those I most despise on the other side- acting like I know better than other people what they should believe. When I don't. I don't know that my beliefs, though absolutely, without doubt grounded in fact, are the best beliefs for others. Maybe the idea of a friendly dude up in the sky provides enough in the way of psychological comfort to it's adherants to more than offset the nessesary fuzzy thinking. It's plausible.

Of course organized religion is still an enemy to be fought tooth and nail. When religion inflicts itself upon the public sphere its benefits drop away and its costs soar. It is only the private spirtual beliefs of regular people that should recieve immunity from intellectual attack. I sometimes feel like i'm hiding something shameful in not being an 'open' atheist at work, but here is the thing: I don't know the religious inclinations of most of my co-workers. It just doesn't come up. That is, I think, the ideal: religion has lost its importance in categorizing us, it's just something we do at home and with our families. Religion has become in effect what it was all along in principle: essentially meaningless in the judgement of others.

Monday, November 14, 2005

It's about Vulnerability

I like Butterflies and Wheels, it's a reasonable site that takes people of all sides to task for being irrational. I wanted to comment at that site on an article I read there, but the commenst page seemed to be all aboput some other topic so I wasn't sure if it had been up for awhile and the conversation had gone another way or if the link was faulty. Anyway, My point is a short one. This article does a lot to popint out the flaws in the reasoning that leads people to religion when they're grieving. The myth is that religion has some special take on how to deal with painful events in life, and the artcle does a good job of succinctly pointing out the faulty assumptions and refuting them. The one thing it doesn't mention is why the religious tend to be so 'supportive' at times of tragedy. This is for the simple reason that when you're in deep emotional trauma you're vulnerable to things that normally you'd be able to see as hokey. You're in an ideal state to be converted. Religion doesn't offer comfort to people because it is somehow uniquely suited to offer comfort- it isn't. It does so because persons in the state of grief are uniquely vulnerable to evangelizing- and that is in the end all religion needs, more mindshare.


So for a red-blooded Canadian male, I have a sad lack of experience with hockey. Tonight I did something to fix that by scoring some tickets to the flames game. It was sweet. The first two periods were tepid- some action but basically the flames seemed to be treading water. Then, the third- amazing! They started out down two. Got one back about 10 into the period- then it was like they realized they could score and totally went on the offensive. They scored another with two left and then the winning goal with just one minute remaining. Heres the great part. When they scored that final goal they were on a power play. The goal ended the powerplay, and then the flames got themselves 2 penalties with 30 seconds remaining- plus the wild pulled their goalie, so it was 6-3 in front of the flames net for the final 30 seconds of play. Amazing! Hockey rules. Flames are on a crazy winning streak. I need to score me some more tickets.

Friday, November 11, 2005


Call me a cynic, but I wasn't surprised to learn that Buah and co have been using chemical weapons in Iraq on civilians. Empire Burlesque Has another expanded article on this- it sounds like there are a lot of more and more credible sources for this, so here's hoping big corporate media will take off its blinders and address this story. Meanwhile, I'm stunned at just how stupid it all is- they're fighting against an Insurgency, for fucks sake, what do they think dropping chemical weapons on civilians is going to accoplish? I'll say this: if somebody dropped a load of White Phosphorous on my city, I'd join whatever violent resistance movement I could find. I don't know what offends me more about this, the stark raving evil of it or the complete ignorance that lets them think it will help.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I'm an Optimist, really.

Several thinsg that caught my eye lately in the same theme. First this painful-to-watch-but-can't-tear-your-eyes-away video on Empire Burlesque. I got the link from UTI, an excellent site I visit often, though now I've added Empire to my bookmarks.
Then there was a bit on John Stewart last night, he was talking to Barack Obama, a guy I've heard might save the Dems down south- dunno about that, he seemed like a good guy on Stewart but that's a long way from being a guy who can save the USA from itself- anyway, Mr. Obama was talking about Iraq and used the analogy of a bus crash- what do you do when the bus crashes, well, first you fire the driver... anyway, it seems to me things are coming to a head in the Iraq situation, though I'd be surprised if Bush did anything as clever as pulling out, it seems likely that once he finally leaves office his successor will be find the fastest exit he can.

So why does all this mess and madness make me an optimist? Well, I've always felt that people who ignored reality so they could be cheerful were idiots, not optimists, but once you actually face reality if you can see the bright side of it, then you are an optimist, and that is me. I see this whole war mess and ugliness, and I don't like it, but looking back to Americas last debacle, it took a lot more years and a lot more body-bags before the impetus to keep fighting went away. The way I see it, no generation is really able to learn from the mistakes of others- each has to see war for itself before it can realize that yes, war is hell and best avoided. Sio the fact that this generation saw it quicker than the last- because of better technology mostly- means that maybe the next generation will require still less of a bodycount before it loses it's stomach for war. There will always be George Bushes to start wars, but the public pressure against them will dvelope faster and faster with each successive generation, untill the political masterminds behind people like Bush will no longer see any benefit to starting wars. Take away the ability of these people to benefit from war, and the wars will peter out. Or so I hope. Call me a dreamer.

Monday, November 07, 2005

So... I'm an asshole

I was mean to a lady at work the other day. i don't feel bad about it. It's nice to be nice to people all the time, to always know there other persons point of view and respect it, but sooner or later if someone contuinues to push you and bug you all the time you are kinda justified in taking a chunk out of them, even if the incident that pushes you over the edge is something petty.