Posts tagged ‘Freethought’

Creationism could be coming to a high school near you

I wrote to Congressman Jim Buchy of the Ohio House about an alert I received that repealing Common Core Curriculum in the high schools could be used as a way re-open the path for Creationism to be injected in high school curriculums.  I’ll repeat the text of Rep. Buchy’s letter below the document to make it readable.  The original document seemed difficult to copy here.

 

 

buchy

 

Rep. Buchy’s email:

“Dear Douglas,

Thank you for contacting my office with concerns regarding House Bill 597.  I support this bill and recently voted it out of the Rules and Reference Committee, to be considered on the floor.

House bill 597 is not about getting creationism to be taught in public schools.  Instead, the bill aims to repeal Common Core in the state of Ohio in order to put control of schools back in the hands of local government and parents.

I support House Bill 597 because I do not agree with the Common Core standards, and neither do the majority of constituents I have heard from.  I haven’t, however, received one email or phone call from a constituent that shares your concerns.  The fact is that the 84th House District, myself included, is made up of many fine Christian people who [sic] people that God does have a place in everyday life.  If I find that a lot of my constituents would support a bill that requires creationism to be taught in schools, I would consider that very idea.

Thank you for contacting me regarding this important matter.  Please do not hesitate to contact me regarding further state issues.

Please help me determine key issues for this General Assembly: Complete my Legislative Survey.  Please follow the link.

Sincerely,

[signed] Jim Buchy

Jim Buchy

State Representative

84th House District

JB/bps”

I initially responded with the next two paragraphs when I was under the weather with a cold, then recently expanded my reply to the following:

From Douglas Falknor to Rep84

Dear Representative Buchy,

I’m saddened to hear that. Education was once the liberator of thought and did its part to free western civilization from religious dogma. It bears noting that the repeating of scientific and historical facts was punishable by death then. Now the lessons being taught by creationists reject objective knowledge in favor of religious belief posing as fact.

Even though there’s been a tradition of government held hostage by religion in this country, education has been free up ’til recently. If you take these steps backwards you may spawn home taught fundamentalists who over time may achieve a level of literal fundamentalism worthy of eastern madrassas and beyond what most Christians today would consider reasonable.

To test the rightness or wrongness of teaching creationism to America’s youth, you need only substitute the teaching of any other religion’s origin myth in place of it. Only that would be fair to the other religions. Or are our high schools only Christian schools?

The near total domination of the culture by Christianity for two hundred years has not served Christians well with respect to learning to treat other religions with equanimity. The greater diversity of race, for instance, has kept the unequal treatment of minorities on the American Christian radar (TV) screens until the culture has made a modicum of concessions in the treatment of those who are of different races and ethnicities.

Christians, however, have not had enough experience with believers of other faiths to know appropriate etiquette in their interactions with them… so sensitivity in the treatment of others—treating others the way you want to be treated—has lagged behind in the arena of religion. (…and nonbelievers? Christians send death threats and hate mail…and don’t see the reflection of themselves in their actions.)

There’s always been this confusion over whether America is a Christian nation or everybody’s nation. Even George H. W. Bush got it wrong. Why? It was the religion talking. The more religion focuses the full spectrum of the public’s attention on its misbehavior the more apparent it becomes that those affected by religion should recuse themselves from actions that would impose their religion on others. Shouldn’t this include those who would rule us? Or are our rulers agents of religion first before our democracy?

We recognize this bondage to religion in the fundamentalists of other religions. It’s not so obvious to us in ourselves. We inherit this devotion to religion naturally. See the evidence for this in Religion is God’s Way of Showing Us it’s a Lot Earlier in Human Evolution than We Thought on Audible and Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Religion-Showing-Earlier-Evolution-thought/dp/B00I8U6YWC/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8.)

Douglas Falknor

January 4, 2015 at 5:33 pm 1 comment

Boycott Pepsi?

I just read a call to boycott Pepsi, as the blogger relates the offense, for omitting “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance so as not to be divisive.  Pepsi supposedly did that when printing the phrase “one nation…indivisible…” on cans.  The call came from a Christian I know.  To put words in her mouth, she is probably saying that the Pledge should be recited as Congress has dictated it.

It took about ten seconds of my time to search on the words “Pepsi Pledge of Allegiance” to find that this is a rumor started about a decade ago over something Dr. Pepper may have done.    The “one nation…indivisible” phrase, it would seem obvious, is what one might say in saluting the nation.  “One nation, under God” is a religious observation.

Once again, though, we nonbelievers would have received the default discrimination, one that some beverage company would have tried to save the world from–sticking religion into everything–when religion was the intrusion in the first place.  (I’m sure you know, but around 1954 in the communist-obsessed environment overheated by Senator Joe McCarthy and others,  Congress thought they’d trip up the Commies but injecting God into the Pledge–the same environment that brought us Vietnam–because Commies wouldn’t say “under God” if it was in the Pledge.  Will someone one please answer my question:  Why would the Commies say the Pledge as it was?  And if they were going to falsely recite the Pledge, why wouldn’t they falsely Pledge to God as well?).

That’s what it is, you know.  A Pledge or acknowledgement that we recognize that the U.S. nation is under God’s charge and loyal to Him.  I would venture to say that the communist threat from within has passed… so is Congress likely to remove the phrase?   Congress has not only shifted Right, it has shifted even more to the Christian Right.  Individually, those congressmen and senators will tell you that their first loyalty is to God… just like their radicalized Muslim brothers would.

You may be familiar with my theory of why or how the religiously affected get that way (Religion is God’s Way of Showing Us it’s a lot Earlier in Human Evolution than We Thought).  If they are deceived, even if willingly, that makes ours a rough row to hoe.  Everywhere that religion encroaches, once it’s there, it’s locked on.  Marked territory not only to never be freed again–the religious are blind to it.  It no longer is open to question.  Religion gets a free ride, a pass.   It is outside the questions, outside the equation of things that can be examined for fairness or equality.

That’s why it is so hard for us to gain any ground even though religion has encroached so much into are world.  Blind justice may treat us fairly, but not if justice is blinded by religion.  Why do they think they should be able to treat us unfairly?  Well, they pay lip service to tradition, but it’s the underestimated effect religion has on the religious that  they are most blind to.

If you consider civil rights laws, and rest assured that is the field where the discrimination against us lies, we are being discriminated against due to religion.  The bigots among the religious say we can’t be because we have no religion.

IT’S NOT DUE TO OUR RELIGION THAT WE ARE BEING DISCRIMINATED AGAINST.  IT IS, RATHER, BECAUSE OF THEIR RELIGION THAT THE BIGOT DISCRIMINATES AGAINST US.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 19, 2014 at 4:20 pm Leave a comment

Writing yourself to the spiritual place you want to be in.

I recently picked up a book, the Accidental Masterpiece in which the author speaks of the impact of art on our lives.  And says, also, that we can choose to pull that impact into our lives, to create our own art or just a life informed by art, or perhaps, we can even choose a life transformed by art.  And art may be ours for the defining.

arguably, are love, death, and sex in no particular ranking.  There are aspects or items in life, such as beauty, architecture, or nature which seem to boost us toward those vehicles of transcendence.

Eric Maisel tells us we can create a special place, real or imaginary, which will be a safe, but inspiring place to write. I think what we are doing in setting up that place is creating a spiritual dwelling place for ourselves.  (I’m hesitant to use the example, but a church is such a place set up by its members for the spiritual sense it gives them—or failing that—a place for the default rituals—the next best thing.)

For us, receivers of the revealed wisdom that we are “spiritual beings in a secular universe,” we can choose what is spiritual and what is art and what nourishes the human spirit.  Those things, those places, those ideas that we can bring together, that we can curate, accumulate, create.  We may engage in our own practice of art so it will inspire us further.

This is no small item.  Inspiring ourselves.  Even when inspired by something or someone else we participate in our own inspiration.  Certainly, we must.  Art and other creative acts are never truly isolated.  We bring them forth as products of ourselves, our world, and our culture.

So it is with our writing, or it can be.  This is true, also, of those who don’t think of themselves as writers.  Writing is an art or craft like many other endeavors.  What you get out of it is in relation to what you put into it.

The short lesson on writing is this: write, revise, and keep going.  Perfection is an illusion.  Don’t get hung up on it.  It doesn’t matter what you write, but write what you want.  As an endeavor of the human spirit, write randomly.  Leave the topic open.  Just keep writing.

After a few pages, some things will draw your attention.  Different categories of things.  Some things will seem to be negatives—make a note to eliminate or overcome them and move on to write in other directions.   Some goal, wish, or desire may pop out of the writing.  Acknowledge it and keep writing.

When you’re at this for a while two spiritual things (our secular human spirit) will materialize: What it takes to nurture your spirit and What it is that you do that nurtures your spirit.  For me, just this kind of writing does it.

Other things may suggest themselves through your writing that you can do—nature walks, camping trips, art or other museums, or whatever you may find.  If you try it all and run out of things come back and write at it some more.

You may just find that words, thoughts, and concepts may do it for you.  That is, they may elevate your spirit, your mood, your outlook.  You may be moved to write about that experience for others.  Even in that process you may find nurturance for your very human spirit, that soul-like thing.  If each of us gets the spiritual nurturance we need, we are less likely to point angrily at each other and say, You spoiled my happiness.

February 2, 2014 at 4:29 pm Leave a comment

The Echo of the Eons

Consider a man, an early man, maybe 100,000 years ago or a little more.   Just like his animal counterpart of 4 to 5 million ybp, he thinks there’s someone out there in the dark.   He can hear this someone in the wind.   It may be the same someone who brought the fire.  They remember a lightning bolt that appeared to be thrown to the clan but then struck a tree.  Was it the gift of fire?  Or was this force evil?  Did he try to strike the clan?  Or was it just a warning?  They tried to keep the fire, but didn’t know how. 

 “Uuhhh.  Uhhhh.”  They asked the fire to come back.  Nothing happened.  

The next time they thought this powerful One was coming (they thought he hid in the storm clouds), they repeated their plea.  “Uuhhh.  Uuhhh.”  Nothing.   All the men came into the tribe’s clearing.  They all began, “Uuhhh.  Uuhhh.”  It was a distressing noise.  The strong man rammed his staff on the ground.  It startled the others.  He tamped a spot softly with his staff.  He tapped the spot harder and harder, then he spoke the word on the beat.  “Uuhhh!   Uuhhh!”  He leaned toward the others emphasizing the sound and the beat.  “Uuhhh!  Uuhhh!”  Slowly they joined in.  And as one, they raised their voices, Uuhhh!! Uuhhh!!”    Nothing happened.

 The next time storm clouds gathered, the clan assembled on their common ground.  The strong man pounded the ground.  They all chanted, “Uuhhh!  Uuhhh!!”  After a while, they became tired.  As they were about to give up, lightning struck in the distance.

 Renewed, they began chanting again.  “Uuhhh!!  Uuhhh!!”   The strong man continued pounding the beat.  The leader of the hunt stepped before the men and spread his fingers wide.  He made his hands quiver as if it was a prelude to some coming event.  The men, continuing the chant, spread out into the open meadow beyond the clan’s compound.  They kept their voices strong.  It was hard to hear them over the gathering storm so they stood their ground.  One of them motioned to the man farthest out to stop.  He was into a creek up to his shins.  A blinding bolt of light burst out of the man’s chest and he fell dead into the stream. The crackle of thunder reached the others.  Son of a bitch! the strong man said, though, in the words of their day, “UH uh uh UUUUHHH!!”

 When the next storm gathered the men again met on the pounded ground of the clan’s common.  The strong man tamped the beat, the others chanted.  The leader of the hunt palmed the air in front of him with both hands indicating the men should stay put.  There were a few lightning strikes visible, but no fire appeared.  This went on for a few months.  The men started stamping their feet to the beat of the chant.  It seemed to ease the monotony of the monotonal chant. 

 At the next storm and chant session, a weird little guy, who’d yet to hit the first animal on a hunt, had his spear with him!  He started tapping it to the beat of the strong man’s staff and the tribal chant.  Every so often, after a downbeat, he’d raise his spear toward the storm and it caused the men’s emotions to swell until they let out a yell.  The tribesmen looked at each other.  One by one, they slipped away and returned with their spears.  Before long, the tribe was tapping their spears, chanting, and pointing toward the storm and shouting in unison, “UUUHHHH.” 

Soon enough, the lightning struck a tree on the meadow.  The hunt leader motioned for a couple of men to fetch the fire.  As they got to the tree, lightning struck again.  They both fell dead.   “UH uh uh UUUUHH!” said the strong man.

April 14, 2013 at 9:33 am Leave a comment

a row of posts RE: freethoughtblogs.com

If you like the flow of different ideas steadily washing over your mind, there’s freethoughtblogs.com.  Several blog posts of interest were That Allegedly Liberal Media on a Pew study of positive vs. negative media reports on presidential candidates.

The Newt Gingrich article was of special interest as I saw him in the last Republican debate make some rather inane observations.  “Does faith matter?  Absolutely.” Gingrich said.  “How can I trust you with power if you don’t pray?” As this article points out, and I was so stunned to hear, Gingrich said that Americans should value religion first, above morality and knowledge.

This ties into related posts I’ve made about that radical connection from deep within our evolutionary (which is now deep within or gene) of GODANDCOUNTRY.    I’ll leave those arguments for the other posts.  I’ll let Herb Silverman (Secular Coalition for America) have the last word on this topic, “We may be the last minority against whom intolerance and discrimination are not only permitted, but also sometimes promoted by politicians.”

October 22, 2011 at 11:59 am Leave a comment

A god to die for

I commented on the Freethought Blog.

The general question by their reader  was this:

“Hey Martin, I have a dilemma and was hoping for some quick advice on how to handle a situation. I am a part of a theology group here on FB and during one of these exchanges a Christian (fairly fundy) said he would die for his god and asked what I would die for.

My response was that it sounded like jihad. Was this a good approach I guess is my question? I’m pretty sure (with the fundy part) he’s just not going to get where the similarities are between jihad and fundamental christianity but I can try right? lol

Any advice is appreciated.”

MY RESPONSE:

[To set this up: I first default to understanding.  Maybe it’s not as straight forward as just dealing with the issue, but understanding can be a lot and I’ve often found myself left with nothing here in the Bible Belt and it took years to gain the only thing possible: understanding.]

I think Richard Dawkins disputes the thesis that religion was an evolutionary adaptation, but it was the missing piece of the puzzle for me. I’ve been scratching my head for many years as to how religion could have such a universal grip on humanity when it seems so counter-intuitive given religion as we know it.

Whenever I hear a question about an aspect of religion, I’m taken back about a hundred thousand years to consider the underlying source.

Dying for their religion? Sounds like a strange concept to us.
Take that back 100,000 years in human evolution, though, and it was a pact, a pledge, to the tribe. It was a brotherhood, with serious initiation rites, blood rites, and it was solemn and binding. A binding stronger than kin and marriage.

This is one reason why the “God & country” linkages seems to continually resurface. It was reflective of an underlying super-reality, a reality that hunter-gather clans could (or tried desperately to) relate to. It was the realm of the supernatural. The natural world was beyond their understanding.

The projected a power or great father behind the world and worked hard on their identity as his subjects.

Would they die for God & clan and the culture they created around this identity? Oh, yeah. And the clans that did have members who’d make that sacrifice produced more offspring–and here we are.

October 15, 2011 at 1:08 pm Leave a comment

Houston AAA/Freethought Convention

It was good to be there.   I enjoyed seeing Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.  Sad to see Christopher looking frail, but very glad he made it out.  He hasn’t made a personal appearance in a while due to his pancreatic cancer.

The banquet was packed and the crowd was attuned to the night’s business:   Richard Dawkin’s presentation, on behalf of his foundation, of the Humanist of the Year award to Hitch.   There were at least a half dozen standing ovations in recognition of Hitchens’ contributions and his effort to persevere in the cause as well as his shear pluck to go on.

The presenters were all top notch.  I would highly recommend the convention, though I can’t imagine how they could top this year’s event.  I was torn more than once as to which lecture to attend when there was more than one.

It’s surprising at first that these lectures and presentations are directed at issues we all have.   Here in the wilderness, we’re accustomed to there being nothing that’s on topic, no consideration of our issues or wishes, no acknowledgement that we exist.  (Granted that’s better than being pointed out and dragged off to be burnt at the stake.)   So a whole lecture, germain & to the point, it’s heaven if you don’t push the analogy too far.

The presenters had multiple purposes for being there.  Most have published books, the newest being on display in the convention’s bookstore (The bookstore graciously afforded me equal display space to start advanced publicity for Post Script to a Christian Nation.).  Though we all had issues in common, some led the way for their special issue.  For instance, Barbara Taylor is battling creationism in the public schools in her state, Louisiana.

I connected with the convention’s book store for half a dozen items, books, DVDs.   We are a community by our issues; we have similar, but different interests.  Some of the ones I like to pursue I’ve mentioned in this blog. I’m interested in the philosophical implications of all sciences for humankind.  I’m especially interested in paleo-anthropology, evolutionary psychology and the study of how we evolved religion.  Beyond that starting point, is that somewhat difficult to define “spirituality” that we all seem to have is not only a nurturable aspect of the human spirit, but is better for each and everyone of us to nurture it with our highest aspirations.

I reserve a special place, also, on this blog, for any who want to share how they came to freethought, humanism or atheism.    So, again, you are welcome to share, to bear witness to your journey, the journey of the Doubtful Sojourner.

October 10, 2011 at 8:28 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts


Hello

I write for agnostics, freethinkers, atheists and humanists. In my nonfiction, the purpose is the celebration of our noble human spirit. The general pursuit may be Evolutionary Theology, though believers seem to populate that field (so maybe it's evolutionary Humanism). By looking at who we are and where we came from, we can derive much meaning, and perhaps more importantly, understanding, as well as some sense of where we could go.

Religion is God’s Way of Showing Us it’s Earlier in Human Evolution than We Thought

This title is an upcoming book at the publisher's now. I'd like feedback on this title. It's meant to make people think and feel something. And to hint at things for both believers and non- on multiple levels. The book is of a wider scope, though, one which is ultimately a way to grasp more meaning for ourselves. Believers are always telling us our lives don't have meaning without a god. We often counter that it's more meaningful to be looking for our own meaning than to be arbitrarily ascribed it by an imaginary supernatural being. Ultimately, and this is what I think is unique about this book, you'll see how we can be just as spiritual in our own way. Since we've inhertited a capacity for religion (some more than others) as an evolutionary adaptation, believers and non- are both potentially spritual in the same way--but it is an earthly, secular spirituality in which we all can share.