Weird Things


For more than twenty years I attended religious services three days a week. The meetings began with a song/hymn and ended with another one. This religion did not have a choir; the entire congregation sang from the hymn book. Each and every time the congregation sang I did not. I merely mouthed the words but never sang a word in twenty years. I did not sing because I have immense respect for the art form. I simply believe that singing should be done by those whose voices are euphonious. Yes, even as a devout believer I would not sing praises to “God” because I [and almost all the other members of the congregation] did not have a good singing voice. To me, people who can not sing should leave the singing to those who can. Weird thing #1.

About one week after I received my driver’s license I began to do what most drivers do not; I brake with my left foot. It just makes sense to me to use the foot closer to the brake rather than let it just rest there while the right foot does all the work. Weird thing #2.

When I button a shirt or coat, I start with the bottom button and button up; most people do the opposite. The first time I did it, it somehow made more sense to my mind since my hands are already close to the bottom button. Weird thing #3.

I do as many things with my left hand as I do with my right even though I am right-handed. I shave, eat, train [KM] with my left hand to name a few. I have two hands and to my way of thinking, why not use one nearly as often as I do the other. Weird thing #4.

Sometimes I choose to listen to songs that sadden me and make me cry because I want to feel the pain — but not often; only when I think the tears will wash away the dust that has accumulated on top of certain memories. Weird thing #5.

I have decided that I do not like bagels even though I have never tasted one. I do not like the way they look; but I love donuts. Weird thing #6.

I do not watch or follow sports at all — I’m just not interested — except I do watch the Super Bowl each year, intensely, as my dose of sports for the entire year. The next day I could not tell you who played or what the score was because my interest does not last beyond the end of the game. Weird thing #7.

I have more books than I have money. If I have the money to lend and a book to lend, I would rather lend the money. Weird thing #8.

Whenever I see a group of young children I wonder, almost automatically, will any of them be a murderer, a rapist, a thief or racist, or some other type of miscreant? Odds are, at least one will be. Weird thing #9.

One of the things on my bucket list is to take calculus I. Somehow, I feel I have been deprived by graduating from both High School and college without having to take it. Weird thing #10.

Knowing that my mother would love me no matter what, I often fantasize about her being so damn proud of what I have done and so damn ashamed of me for what other things I have done. Despite the certainty of love, I painfully wonder would pride prevail or would shame? Weird thing #11.

To be sure, I am not the only one who has “weird” things that are characteristic of himself. But what I believe to be especially “weird”[but not uniquely weird] about myself is this: I want to hear from “God” because everything I have read or heard that is supposedly from or about “God” is ambiguous, contradictory, fanciful and useless. Albert Einstein said, “I want to know God’s thoughts. The rest are details.” I believe the rest is pure unadulterated bullsh*t and I am just so very tired of it; it hurts. Weirdest Thing of All

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Published in: on January 10, 2017 at 9:30 PM  Comments (1)  
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Imagine


Imagine a “God” who has nothing to do with our successes or our failures.

Imagine a “God” who does not want credit for catastrophes or blame for “miracles” (or even vice versa).

Imagine a “God” who does not need a Satan with whom to stand in contrast.

Imagine a “God” who does not need a “hell” with which to punish or a “heaven” with which to bribe.

Imagine a “God” who is something other than a “He” or a “She” (maybe an “It” or a “They” or something entirely different).

Imagine a “God” whose ego does not require or desire praise, adulation, sacrifice or worship from humans.

Imagine a “God” who does not need humans to kill or punish “in the name of God,” because if such a “God” wanted to kill or punish, It or They would do it without any help or participation from humans.

Imagine a “God” who does not believe in the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, the Book of Mormon, the Veda, the te Ching or any other book as being “holy” or “divinely inspired” but rejects them as the product of the human imagination and various contradictory interpretations.

Imagine a “God” who does not need prophets, priests, preachers, ministers, deacons, reverends, mullahs, monks, ayatollahs, elders, nuns, and so forth, to speak or teach the will of “God.”

Imagine a “God” for whom how humans treat each other is infinitely more important than whether people believe someone did or did not die for their sins, or whether a particular place or day is “holy,” or whether people should wear this and not that, et cetera, (the list extends much too far and wide).

In other words:

Imagine a “God” not made in the image of Humans.

Published in: on December 7, 2015 at 8:59 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Education versus Critical Thinking – re: Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ph.D.


One of the great follies of the human experience is that too many people assume that an educated person, such as Dr. Neil degrasse Tyson, is also a critical thinking person. Such a folly is somewhat understandable given that critical thinking is often a function of being educated. Education and critical thinking, however, are related but not synonymous. It should also be noted that critical thinking is a challenge for those who are educated and can be even much more difficult for those without an education. Stated otherwise, one has to consciously and deliberately link education and critical thinking because it does not happen automatically; critical thinking does not automatically follow education. The link between Dr. Tyson’s extensive education and his ability to think critically was essentially none existent in at least one instance.

At this point, it would be prudent to do what Voltaire once said: “If you want to converse with me, first define your terms.” To that end, for the purposes of this matter, I am defining being educated as being informed, having been taught what one did not know previously, to have learned, usually in a formal setting. Whereas, I am defining critical thinking as being able to identify and assess assumptions, being able to identify and evaluate explanations of cause and correlations, being able to recognize flaws and inconsistencies in an argument and being able to establish appropriate inferences and conclusions from information.

Having established this framework for discussion I now reference the appearance of Neil deGrasse Tyson [astrophysicist] on the Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore on 05 November 2015. Also appearing opposite Dr. Tyson was a pastor, Carl Lentz. One reporter, Tana Ganeva, wrote an internet article for the AlterNet about that program and called it, “Neil deGrasse Tyson Wins Debate With Christian Pastor Using Flawless Argument About Asteroids, Genitals”. This so-called debate was about the never-ending argument regarding the existence or non-existence of “God”.

Before proceeding further, I want to make it clear that personally, I do not care if “God” exists or not. The existence or non-existence of such a Being does not alter my own existence one way or the other. If “God” exists, then good for “God”; if “God” does not, then still good for “God” [if you know what I mean]. I have no need for religion. I have no need for spirituality. On the other hand, I have no need for specious scientific ideas, theories or hypotheses presented as logical and conclusive. I only have a need for ideas that flow from critical thinking.

Dr. Tyson’s response to one of Pastor Lentz’s comment was, “I think of, like, the human body, and I look at what’s going on between our legs,” Tyson said. “There’s like a sewage system and entertainment complex intermingling. No engineer of any intelligence would have designed it that way.” Notice that last sentence. It is this sentence that casts doubt on his ability to think critically [at least in this instance].

A critical thinker would state it another way. The fact that our genitalia function as a “sewage system” and an “entertainment” system can be seen as being efficient rather than something that an intelligent engineer would not do. Case in point: A couple of hundred years ago, many homes in the US had a separate shed called an “out house.” It was thought that defecating and urinating were too foul of thing to do in the house. Later, not only did engineers/architects design a separate room in the house but, for efficiency and convenience, people could do more than just defecate and urinate in the bathroom. People could brush their teeth, take baths/showers, shave, apply makeup and even dress in the same room in which they also defecated and urinated. Engineers of intelligence often pursue efficiency by combining two or more functions in the same thing. So, the fact that we have a “sewage system” between our legs that also serves as an “entertainment” system is not a valid argument against intelligent design. Based on the aforementioned definition of critical thinking, Dr. Tyson failed to evaluate his assumptions or the flaw in his argument.

Secondly, Dr. Tyson also stated, “Anytime someone describes their understanding of god, it typically involves some statement of benevolence or some kind of kindness. I look out to the universe — and yes, it is filled with mysteries — but it’s also filled with all manner of things that would just as soon have you dead, like asteroid strikes and hurricanes and tornadoes and tsunamis and volcanoes and disease and pestilence.”

Again, this argument is feckless and is out alignment with the definition of critical thinking. Suppose the theists or the religious communities’ perception of “God” is mistaken? After all, they have no concrete and objective evidence of “God’s” mercy and benevolence. Maybe “God” is not a loving god but one who is indifferent or maybe even cruel. In other words, just because religion describes “God” one way and reality indicates something different, does not mean that “God” does not exists. It means the religious people are not thinking critically.

Furthermore, other scientists would tell Dr. Tyson, that tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and the like serve a useful purpose. All Dr. Tyson had to do was consult with meteorologists and geologists and they would tell him what are the benefits of those natural phenomena. Yes, they are often destructive to humans in the short term but are beneficial to the earth and subsequently and ultimately beneficial to humans in the long term.

To be sure, there are much more cogent and incisive arguments against the existence of “God” but Dr. Tyson’s argument lacked critical thinking. Despite Tana Ganeva’s description, Dr. Tyson’s argument was not “flawless”; it was shallow and vacuous. To be fair, Pastor Carl Lentz did not launch any powerhouse argument in favor of the existence of “God” either. In short, the “debate” between those two was akin to a fight between an amateur boxer and his own shadow; neither one landed a blow despite all the sweating and huffing and puffing. Quite honestly, I expected more from Dr. Tyson than I did Pastor Carl Lentz because of his scientific — and hence supposedly logical background.

Once again, I do not care if “God” exists or not. My only point is that if one is going to mount an argument for or against something, come ready, and come strong. Challenge assumptions, seek out the flaws in an argument, evaluate explanations. Be a critical thinker. Do not rest on your education and assume that it is sufficient or that it automatically means that you are a critical thinker. And lastly, do not be afraid to constantly question what you believe. After all, that is what critical thinkers do.

Imagine


The world is replete with varying beliefs about “God” and religion. These varying beliefs have been the source of much of the pain humans have suffered over the millennia. Even to this day, those beliefs engender division, antipathy and misery. Having either read or listened to many of these varying and often contradictory beliefs, I ask you to imagine the following:

Imagine a “God” who had nothing to do with the Bible, the Koran, the Talmud, The Book of Mormon or any other “holy” book.

Laws proscribing theft, rape, murder and so forth would still exist and would still be violated as they have been even with these “holy” books in circulation. Besides commenting on morality, these books purport to present doctrines such as details about such subjects as, the essence of “God”, baptism, prophets and prophecies, gender roles, et cetera – all of which provide fodder for debate, division, persecution and even pogroms.

Most importantly, however, someone once said that the author of a “holy” book is not as powerful as the person who has been deemed authorized to interpret it. God” may speak, but the mullah, the minister, the monk, the prophet, the priest, the preacher, the pope, the “whoever”, explains. (No wonder there is this phenomenon: same book, different interpretations.)

Imagine a “God” who is something other than a “He” or a “She.”

How “God” is referenced has subtle implications and ramifications with respect to how humans define their gender roles. Referencing “God” in terms of one of the sexes, and not the other, buoys a sense of entitlement to govern or dominate the gender not chosen to reference “God.”

Imagine a “God” who banned/forbade the practice of religion with all its accouterments.

There would be no churches, temples, kingdom halls, synagogues, or mosques. No need for prophets, popes, cardinals, elders, nuns, ministers, deacons, mullahs, priests, preachers.

Additionally, there would be no need for religious rituals, baptisms, holy water, robes, or collection plates.

Also, no place or time would be considered “holy.”

Thus, without religion, there would be one less thing to argue about or kill over (albeit true that humans will always find plenty of other reasons to do either one) and one less reason to feel superior (or to feel “saved” or “righteous”).

Imagine a “God” who had nothing to do with our successes or our failures.

There would be no reason to “thank God” for winning the ball game, or receiving an award, or finding a job or escaping death. After all, why would “God” help you do any of those things and yet let millions suffer hunger, disease, genocide, rape and torture? That kind of “God” would have misplaced priorities.

Imagine a “God” who did not need a Satan against which to stand in contrast.

Sufficient is the “evil” within humans without the need for a being who personifies “evil.” Is it that humans are more comfortable pointing to something outside themselves to assign blame for much of the horrors we experience? Assuming that “God” is “good,” Prison Earth is filled with enough evil humans who stand at the opposite end of that continuum.

Imagine a “God” who did not need a hell with which to punish or a heaven with which to bribe.

How righteous or honorable is the person who lives a certain way because he wants to receive an award or avoid punishment. How would worshippers live if there were no prospect or living in eternal bliss or eternal torment? If heaven is a reward for “righteous” behavior and hell for “wicked” behavior, by which standard is one judged? Is it Christianity, Islam, Shintoism, Hinduism? Which branch or sect of those religions?

What happens to infants who die? What happens to those who convert from one religion to the other? Why punish/torture even the most vile human being for an eternity? How does eighty years of being “wicked” justify billions and billions and billions and billions and billions of years (i.e., forever) of excruciating torment?

Imagine a “God” whose ego did not require adulation, sacrifice or worship from humans.

“God” – the creator of a universe of unimaginable size, power, and complexity versus human beings. Why would such a Being require, demand puny humans to worship, praise and heap adulations on it? Is it not possible for humans to respect and love each other in the absence of worshipping “God”? Of course! I present atheists and deists who are law abiding and exhibit behavior characterized as loving, and decent.

Imagine a “God” who placed emphasis on love rather than doctrine.

Is “God” part of a Trinity, or is “God” a distinct separate being from the other two members of the Triune? Is hell the grave or a place of torment? Is the cow a sacred animal or a delectable source of protein? Is pork unholy or best served fried? Or are love and respect for each human more important? How much sense does it make to observe the Sabbath but lie, or steal or even kill during the other six days of the week? How much sense does it make to condemn homosexuality but pray to “God” to bless your country as it engages in activities of which not even the prophets of your religion would approve?

People declare that all religions teach love and respect for human beings, but they insist on overlaying that notion with all sorts of doctrines and ideologies that turn the simple and sublime into complicated and convoluted.

Imagine a “God” who did not need humans to kill or punish in his/her/its/their name.

Put succinctly, why does an all-powerful “God” need humans to kill each other in defense of “Him” or “Her” system of worship? “God” is in the best position to kill because “God” would know all the relevant facts and motives; humans cannot. “God” would, presumably not kill the innocent while killing the “guilty”; humans often claim that “collateral” damage is unavoidable.

I ask you to please do the following:

Imagine a “God” not made in the image of “HuMan.”

Published in: on June 21, 2013 at 1:37 AM  Leave a Comment  
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My Mother’s First Child


I am more afraid of running out of time than of dying. I am not confused about the difference between the two.

If my mother knew all that I have done that I should not have done and all that I have not done that I should have done, she would be both proud and ashamed of me — one just a bit more than the other.

I do not love or hate easily; I believe both emotions are important. One should be done with care and caution while the other with deliberation and decisiveness. Which is which depends on the context.

I realize that the kind of parent one is, is often, to some extent, a function of the kind of parent the other parent is. Somehow, however, that fact does not make me feel any better.

I have been a fool many more times than once — and so have the “gods.”

I have many regrets — as many painful ones as mundane ones. But I do not regret regretting; because I regret, I suffer no delusions about my humanness or the humanness of others.

I am a deist. I believe that a First Cause, or an Uncaused Mind/Intelligence, is responsible for the existence of the universe and all its component parts — including life. Immediately thereafter, this Being or Beings, i.e., “God,” abandoned us and left humans to the devices of the maleficent trinity: Whimsical Chance, the Workings or Agenda of Others and alas, Our Own Doings. Everything that has happened, does happen or will happen can be traced to those three alone — not “God” or his “Devil.” “God” does not deserve credit for any “evil” and no blame for any “good,” or vice versa.

I am my own hero, for who could be a better champion for me than I?

I am not a happy person. There are certain things, however, for which I am happy — even delighted. But in the heart of my heart, between each beat, there is sorrow. I am pained at what humans do to other humans. I grieve at the exploitations, the sufferings, the injustices. I see the strong, and all they do to those not. And my heart weeps. I can only savor the few joys and cherish those who and that which bring them.

I am guilty of not saving m mother — of not being able to deliver her from her tormentor. But in that regard, I am as guilty as Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, Jesus, Vishnu Zeus and all the other “gods” because they did not save her either. Nonetheless, their cowardice does not diminish mine.

I hate being wrong; I detest it. In fact, I abhor being wrong so much that I desperately want to know when I am so that I can stop.

I wonder, at night: What did “God” do today?

Published in: on November 10, 2012 at 3:29 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Eleven Pieces


 

I hate being wrong; I detest it. In fact, I abhor being wrong so much that I desperately want to know when I am so that I can stop being wrong.

 

I am a man not because I am a heterosexual male. To me, manhood is independent of one’s sexual orientation. I am a man for the same reason a woman is a woman. Humanity trumps all the labels we pin on each other and humanity is the idea that being straight is no more relevant to being a man or a woman than being a fish has anything to do with riding a bicycle.

 

I have seen many males who impersonate men; they beat women.

 

I want to know everything – everything from why is there each and everything, to how is there anything. In short, I want to know what “God” knows because what we know is worth as much as what we flush down the toilet.

 

I am more afraid of running out of time than of dying. To me, those are two different things.

 

I have never tried to control a woman. To the weak, that was a license to try to do to me what I refuse to do to them. Oh darling, thy name was “fool” and thy status, “alone.”

 

I do not love or hate easily. I believe both emotions are precious; one should be done with care and caution while the other with deliberation and decisiveness. Which is which depends on the situation.

 

I realize that the kind of parent one is, is often, to some extent, a function of the kind of parent the other parent is. Nevertheless, I wish I could start over.

 

I have many regrets – as many painful ones as mundane ones. The most profound regret, however, is not knowing the why that would explain all the regrets and every single other thing about this reality.

 

If my mother knew all that I have done that I should not have done and all that I have not done that I should have done, she would be both proud and ashamed of me – one just a bit more than the other.

 

I wonder why White people do not go to beauty shops to make their hair look like Black people’s natural hair. Then I also ask the obvious question.

Published in: on June 27, 2012 at 3:08 AM  Leave a Comment  
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