Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fundamentalists are not crazy; they are far worse

A saying that gets offered as justification, or rather as an explanation for the beliefs of those fundamentalist, religious followers who hold atrocious beliefs and commit acts of violence, is the dismissive claim that: they're just crazy.  That gets offered by those who lack any religious belief, as well as those who have somewhat a religious belief - generally considered moderates.  Though dismissing fundamentalists as crazy does do a good job of distancing them from oneself - appropriately so if one is rational - it is a false dismissal.  Fundamentalists are not crazy.

First off, let us look at the word fundamentalist: its base is of course fundamental which is based on fundamentalis - the foundation, or primary principles.  So we need to look at primary principles.  Abrahamic religions have as their base their respective God who is perfect and wrote their respective books (Old & New Testaments, and Koran, for Judaism, Christianity and Islam), and is real with a set of rules.  The fundamentalist's God wills and has His preferences; those who follow Him are to obey.  Here we shall see that it is not crazy to act with such a belief base, for it is much worse. 

Fundamentalist base: genocide is not only permissible, but is commendable.  One of the greatest figures to the three Abahamic faiths is Moses.  In the book of Numbers Chapter 31, through instruction from God, Moses killed the Midianites, and after seeing all the captives, then declaimed in verses 17-18 "Now kill all the boys.  And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man."  Explicitly, this is genocide and sexual slavery.  When Boko Haram kidnapped a couple hundred schoolgirls, they were lambastated, except by other fundamentalists who shared their beliefs.  Moses did far worse, but is heralded as a hero.  Let's not forget human sacrifice in this for of the 16,000 captives, there were 32 who were 'tribute for the Lord.'

Fundamentalist base: infanticide and sacrificing one's own is commendable.  Another hero to the three Abrahamic faiths, and that term gets used because of Abraham.  In Genesis Chapter 22, God told Abraham to take 'your son, your only son, whom you love... Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering...'  To which Abraham obeys, but right before he slays Isaac, the child is spared and a ram is provided which is sacrificed instead and that pleases God for the willingness to sacrifice his son was a test of Abraham.  God did not stay Jephthah's hand, and he offered up his daughter as a burnt offering in Judges 11.  When Andrea Yates and Deanna Laney murdered their kids by drowning and bludgeoning with a stone, and did so because they were protecting them from Satan (Yates) or just because God told her to do so (Laney), neither one of them is looked upon as acting properly.  Both women were found guilty of homicide, and insane (or trying to get decreed insane).

Fundamentalist base: cult-like slavish devotion to the point of neglecting ones' loved ones and even oneself is expected from the highest.  "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters -  yes, even their own life - such a person cannot be my disciple" Jesus' admonition in Luke 14:26.  Jesus for Christians, was the Son of God; even those who do not see Jesus as the Son of God still hold a similar belief to their respective one seen as a proxy (Muhammad, Virgin Mary, etc) to God.  Whoever is the spokesman for one's creed, must be obeyed and given all to.  When David Koresh and Jim Jones tried to convince their followers to abandon all in favor of them and their groups, they were labeled as leaders of dangerous cults, and appropriately so.

Fundamentalist base: men and women are of different value, and women/girls have fewer rights.  This can be seen in the sexual enslavement of the virgins aforementioned with Moses (elsewhere male and female slaves - when both are kept alive are treated differently), in the marrying off of teens and children to old men (Jesus' mother Mary was a teen when wed to Joseph and Aisha was six when wed to Muhammad, though nine when consummated), both the bible and Koran declaim women as unclean, and in 1 Corinthians Chapter 14:34-35 "Women should remain silent in the churches.  They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission as the law says.  If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." The sentiment is equally displayed in 1 Timothy 2:12 "I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet".  Not to be let out of the misogyny, the Koran has in The Cow 2:228 that women have rights that are similar to men, but men are 'a degree above them'; in The Clans 33, women are to be covered.  Though men and women have their differences, those differences are not in moral value.

Finally, fundamentalist base: Creation is as it is stated in the [their holy] book.  Additionally, God can and does change laws of Nature as He sees fit.  From this belief emerge evolution deniers, 6000-year-old Earth believers, prayer and faith healers, belief that sex with a virgin will prevent one from being infected with AIDS.  To believe the holy books is to believe that which we know is impossible.  In Joshua Chapter 10, God stops the sun and the moon for a day so Joshua could finish his victory over his enemies and in The Moon 54:1, God split the moon in two.  Such a miraculous base for celestial events make the handling of poisonous snakes as non-problematic; you just need to believe and you will be healed, like Jesus' restoring the sight to the blind or raising Lazarus. 

Each fundamentalist base reflects two things; 1) that Nature and reality are but facades to what is true and God can change anything at anytime for any reason, for He is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient, so examination of Nature is really futile.  If a stick isn't a stick, but a potential snake and dust is a human in waiting, then what really is the reason for studying anything outside God?-why study medicine when one just needs 'faith'?  2)  that God chose one and from that, the selected one can commit any atrocity and consider it good because God told him.  Whether murdering in mass, or just one's own child, it can be seen as good when told to be done by God, as He has told people to do beforehand.

To believe at a fundamentalist level is to state that the primitive, tribal men had a better understanding of nature and the universe than current scientists.  Following that, the moral base was built on tribalism where collectivism was formalized between 'us and them' and others didn't have same rights as one's ingroup; even within the ingroup, there is a hierarchy to abide by - men were the leaders and women were to be subservient.  Why is life like this?-it is because it was written.  Who wrote it?-God.  Who interpreted it, those who had the power.

There is no way that this can be argued.  Argument entails claims and definitions to come to truth that can change one's mind with the advanced idea; fundamentalism entails having 'the truth' and making claims and definitions change to fit.  How can we rationally argue with one who believes that the sun stopped in the sky?-that the moon was cleft into two pieces?-that a bush was on fire and spoke?  How can one rationally make a claim about anything scientific when their base is the negation that science rests upon: that things are what they are, and a stick is not a snake?  Similarly, how can one make an argument regarding morality when beloved heroes of fundamentalists were tribalistic, and willing to slaughter those members of outgroups, even kill children. 

There is nothing rational to be said to them for they reject reason.  However, selectively using the tools of reason, they apply it to their beliefs to further find ways of solidifying belief.  There is a furrow on the moon?-proof Allah split it.  There are large human bones in Latin America?-proof of the nephilim.  Others don't have the same rights, or are even to be killed?-they have chosen the incorrect path and are aligned with the evil ones.  If you try and contest those assertions, they will point to their holy books as final evidence and as it is written in them, how can you contest it further?  If you contest their holy book, then you are of the enemy trying to take away their moral base and personal relationship with divinity - a great threat.

These people are not crazy.  They have a definite value system, as well as a methodology within that value system's hierarchy.  Within that, they use the tools of logic only so far as to justify a conclusion already embraced and if logic shows it was wrong, then logic itself is incorrect.  True reason is every bit an enemy as reality, and that which challenges their belief is not just challenging an abstract notion of what is right or wrong, but one's personal relationship with what is right and wrong as divinely handed down by a specific entity that cares for them.  They blind themselves and lash out to threats.  The new world is not as much of a concern as the threat to the old; order is important. 

We need to better address the issue: 1) address the threat that those who are willing to use force to achieve their ends; 2) address the base of their beliefs, for it is not just wrong, but it is anti-life and anti-reality.  When they reject the reality they live both in the physical and moral worlds, and ultimately state this life that we have now is nothing but an impediment to the life that awaits for us after death - what reason can be used to deal with minds such as those?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Proof of the New Highest God

In an archeological find that is sure to shake numerous religions to their cores, an expedition to the highest mountains, within the deepest caves of those mountains in the land of Iltamasastan, humanity has uncovered an unequivocal historic find.  There has recently been found a new Holy Book which will finalize any debate regarding the True Nature of God.  The first written excerpts date back many thousands of years ago.  Found deep within caverns that haven't been opened centuries BCE; it is a fascinating discovery.  This book speaks the Truth about the Creator, as well as made predictions that have come to pass. 

Written in a lost language, with not an individual whole copy, it has taken time to piece the book together and from that, we now have proof of God and Her nature, including how She created the universe.  Not only do we have Creation explained, but how a True moral system is to be implemented.  This morality as decreed by She not only shows how best to live on Earth, but how Paradise can be achieved.  However, just stating that this has been proven does not mean anything.  We shall look at the evidence and let it prove itself to us of the Truth.

Let us start out by reviewing God speaking about Herself as the Originator, as it is written in the book of Adamina Chapter 1 Verse 10: Behold, all that you see and yet do not see, that you have seen and will ever see, all this and more has come from Me; I birthed it for you.  You, who were in my bosom before you were born, I had loved.  I knew you needed a place to live and grow, so all of Creation is for you.  Take my gift and live well, but remember it is of Me, and from Me, as are you.

Not only did She announce Her prepotency in Creation, showing Her first Great Miracle, but She showed other miracles for us.  The next in Her Great Miracles comes in the regeneration of Life.  As it is stated in the book of Hortense Chapter 5 Verse 27: Behold, where you see death, you also see life; where you see life, you also see death.  Where you see the carcass, do you not also see that which feeds on carrion?-the insects and small creatures and the plants that devour the dead, then themselves are later eaten, and those eaters eaten, and those eaters eaten and so on?  Where you see life, regardless of how robust and healthy it may be, do you not see a life which will end by ending and a body decaying until it is to be returned to be reborn again?

She advised how to properly relate to your fellow man, as She made clear in the book Alma, Chapter 22 Verses 10-15: To those you know and love, treat them as such – love unshown is the same as food uneaten to a starving body.  To those you do not know, accord them the respect deserving of a stranger, with the same vision as seeing yourself through their eyes and how you’d want them to treat you; however, that unwritten description remains blank only briefly and for better or worse, descriptions will be made.  Be careful on how you act.  A mark on a smooth stone stands out and the only way to not let that mark be the only impression is to have others made, but one bad mark may keep further ones from being made.  Individuals are to treat individuals as such; cultures are to treat cultures as such.  To those who are hostile toward you, you must also act accordingly.  If their hostility is that of a buzzing gnat, they can be dismissed the same; if their hostility is that of a hyena trying to devour your lion cubs, then meet them as that lion who defends her cubs.  It is best for people to get along, interact and trade to the benefit of each party; however, not all have noble hearts and if they are set to your destruction and are acting on it, before they are able to devour you and yours, you must defend you and yours.

Sexual relations are reviewed by She in the book of Zalika Chapter 18 Verses 5-8: You were born to blend your body and mind into soul, for I gave you both; to be your highest self, it is through this achievement.  You have the ability to focus on one at the cost of the other - to be focusing on the physical for mindless stimulation, or to be only mind focused and lose touch with reality - but in either way is to live short of the grandeur I made you capable of.  This highest is not related to procreation only, for one may love without creating progeny and one may create progeny without love; whether one is of the same gender or different, there is no difference for either way the highest can be achieved.  The only thing forbidden is the procreation of same-pair coupling; however, this does not take away from the actualization of spirit potential for those in the coupling.  These are my offerings and my limitations.  Go forth, find your highest and share in body and mind.

She reveals the great mysteries of Life in Masego Chapter 1 Verses 1-2: You who seek to know Truth without Me! Do you think you can learn it on your own? How can you learn of Life and Existence without Me?-where will you look? Every direction your eyes look, you will see Me; every direction that your ears hear sounds, you will hear Me; everything you feel, you will feel Me; every scent and every taste as well, you will know My presence in Life!  If you seek to discount Me, then like the chick still within the egg, you will not see anything beyond your shell; your world will be limited to your confines, though you will know them well.

Like anything or one of Perfection, there are those who hate Her for it.  They despise Her Glory and their own smallness.  She, too, has enemies who want to pull us down to their flawed level.  As stated in one of the later books, the book of Ramona Chapter 6 Verses 16-18: The Jealous one has his minions and his preferred servants.  You will know them by the acts they do – all of which are attempts to silence She who birthed you, to remove your ear from her words, to benight you and leave you in darkness – as it was written, leave you unborn, with your world the extent of your unhatched shell, and you calling it the universe.  The Jealous One will try to trick you by demanding sacrifice to prove love, and will call for you to prove your love by offering your blood, but he will ultimately spare the males while letting the females feel the blade or the fire; he will reward those who will punish the feminine while rewarding the masculine.  He hates Her flawlessness and lets his rage rail against those who resemble She.  With the prophets of the Jealous one, you will see them live and die in ways that try to take you away from Her, to try and take that which is Hers and make it so you do not associate them with Her.  The glorious mountain overlooks the Earth while standing above it, the proud tree that touches the Earth and the Skies, and even the arms of a girl child from a forced marriage will be associated with death.  The Jealous One prefers death worship over Life.  Unable to birth Life, acts of prestidigitation will be offered as miracles when the Jealous One is merely using what She birthed.  The Jealous one will try to convince you that this life that was birthed to you is but a secondary concern to life after death.  How can you achieve Life after the death of what was birthed to you?  Do not be deceived!  The Jealous One is vain and will do what he can to convince you to his death worship, but you will not be able to enjoy Life!

She predicted the decrease in Her influence because of the increase of people falling for the Jealous one; She also predicted the turn away from the Jealous One and His deceiving and dividing ways.  We are approaching that time.  We can see the effects now.  To continue to fulfill the prophesy as written by the sacred Jaleesa in her book Jaleesa 9:99: The abuses you suffer by the Jealous One shall become too great - come to a point where the promises he made shall be properly brought into question.  When you question him, he shall give no answer that satisfies; he will speak vagaries and call them divine; he will obfuscate, but say the blame lies in you for not understanding.  Throw off his shackles!  He tricked you away from She, but you can shirk those chains yourselves.  When you come to realize he is powerless, you will see all the threats he made was because you believed them even though they were no threats he could follow through. 

Just as there were miracles that were for all of humanity, there were miracles that were to help specific individuals.  For example, in the book of Esperance, Padriac became ill and then died; it was She who helped Her people raise Padriac back from the dead.  Similarly, in the book of Terena, when the earth was parched as The Jealous One had brought drought, it was She who brought back the rains and bountiful harvests. 

We need not to just take Her word for it – that is not the way to objectively verify anything.  We already have secondary sources that can corroborate Her story.  We need to look no further than from Kaapo’s history; written centuries BCE, he recounts through oral legend of those who were there first-hand to see the miraculous resurrection of Padriac centuries beforehand.  Quillian reviewed the text and compared the taxonomy within its pages and found that it matches the plant and animal life of the area and the time.  Not only that, but scholars of the area attested to the veracity of claims within the Book.  Heralded for his attention to detail in reviewing the data, Agosta summarized in his Historie de Iltamasastan: When we review the text, and compare it to our observations in nature, we see that the script is correct.  We know we need the light of the Sun to see, and where the light of the Sun is not, we see not; can we see in the deep caves unless we have a Sun by proxy in a small fire? – even then, we see not far into that darkness, but only that which is around us and our fire.  So it is for us, as it was written by She: our entire Universe is that which is trapped inside a great egg, and our entire reality is that which is within the egg waiting for it to crack and our potential to come from that birth.

So, there we have it: proof in the script and verification outside of that script of the New Highest God… rather returning to The Original Goddess.  Within the text we can see proof of Her greatness as well as Her predictions of the coming patriarchal religions, and male-dominated societies.  Not only did She state our place in the Universe in the dark of a great egg, but She also specifically predicted the rise of the Abrahamic-based religions in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  The examples of Abraham, Lott and others were predicted by She. 

Now there will be some of you who are skeptical of the new God, or return to the Original Goddess.  That is to be expected, as the Jealous One She talks about has deceived you into following Him and forgetting Her. However, when we read Her words, see how accurate they are and just experience Her presence, how can any still feel allegiance toward the False and Jealous One? 

For those who continue to be skeptical... very good.  This was all made up for this piece.  In creating this, I did use some general archetypal symbolism, history of religion and mythology along with items that are (or should be) part of any general education.  The appropriate question to follow up that statement is: why?  Why would anyone be skeptical about the Goddess presented here?  Just because I wrote something stating that it was divinely inspired and the Word of God[dess], why should anyone take it seriously?

My answer to that: outside metaphor, why should anyone take any base for religion seriously?  There are truths within it expressed as metaphor, but to be taken literally, one would be considered quite mad to believe it.  To elaborate, why do we not approach each 'holy' book with the same level of skepticism?  They each have nuggets that are beautiful metaphor, but if taken literally or following their laws and admonitions, have abominable and evil actions done in the name of Good because God said so. 

No one has a problem dismissing what I've written here about the Universe being contained in an egg and that is why we see so much darkness.  Similarly, there are no issues with disregarding Athena being born from Zeus' head.  However, Noah's ark, Moses' escape from Egypt with its 40-year journey, splitting the seas, various plagues, burning bushes and divinely handed-down stone tablets... that's real.  God made the sun stop in place in the sky for Joshua, and then let it continue on its path again; for Muhammad God split the moon in half and rejoined it.  Jesus' miracles are also well-known: water to wine, a couple loaves of bread and fish to feed thousands and walking on water to name a few.  Moses', Muhammad's and Jesus' miracles are 'real', but why?  In non-canonical books, there are angels whose heads are above the skies, walking crosses and bowing standards (banners) - was one of the reasons why they were not included in the canon because limits of credulity were being strained?

To believe biblical accounts as literally true regarding the creation of the Universe and Nature's laws, we will have to believe that a group of tribesmen from millennia ago, who had no real scientific understanding, were generally limited to the couple hundred miles around where they were born, that these people had a better understanding of the Universe and Nature than we do today from our collected millennia of experience and technological advances.  Even children in elementary school [should] have a better understanding of the scope of the Universe than those old tribal members ever could hope to have. 

Literally taking these old books as the basis for modern understanding of Nature and the Universe is wrong for there is no possible way that some of the claims in the books could be correct, which if inerrant would invalidate them as literally God's word; in a similar vein, using them as moral standards shows that there is no real morality outside of God saying who to hate, rape and enslave, such as Moses' admonition to kill all, but those girls who have not known a man so they can be kept by the conquerors - except those that would be offered as a sacrifice to God. 

There is equally an objective reality for the Universe we inhabit, and an objective morality for us to follow.  If we followed the religious books are the ultimate source of information, then you wouldn't be reading this for there have been a long series of medical, technological and scientific advances that enables this communication to happen; they wouldn't have happened if we kept our epistemology limited to religious textual understanding.  Equally, at a moral level, genocide would be the general norm.  We are better than that and have evolved our culture [most of humanity] beyond the divinely-subjective morality and realistically impossible views on existence.  Let us finish casting off the inappropriate lens through which modern religions are seen of true in actuality and see them through the lens of true in metaphor, and then place the remaining religions with myths of the past.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Why Proving/Disproving God is Impossible

           God is untouchable.  This is not just meaning as a physical, tangible entity; this refers to at a conceptual level as well.  There is no standard that any believer can advance that will objectively prove the existence of God; equally, there is no standard that any who states there is no God to objectively prove there is no God.  The problem arises from the inherent nature of God and proof.

The first point of the issue is the concept itself of God.  The focus of this will be on an existing and willing (having volition to will things into existence and can manipulate things by will) God - the theistic God.  A deistic or pantheistic God each refers to a God that works with or is Nature - an anthropomorphic God which is a poetic expression as Nature is the main factor in life.  The theistic God is not only apart from Nature, but can violate Laws of Nature at will: e.g. turn water to wine, cause the moon to stop in the sky, move mountains, etc - all by mere will.  If one takes the deistic or pantheistic God as the same, granting their respective God the ability to have volition and will, then they give themselves the same problems of a theistic God. 

Proof requires definitions that are objective, otherwise it is just subjective experience which cannot be objectively proven.  God is beyond being objectively defined.  God is supposedly the 'Self-Existent One', 'All Father', the 'Alpha and the Omega', 'The Supreme Being'.  In addition to this God is also to be Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent: that is all-powerful, all-knowing, and present everywhere at all times.  The Bible says in the Book of Job 11:7-8: Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? It is higher than heaven - what can you do? Deeper than Sheol [place of the dead] - what can you know?  Equally, in the Quran 43:84 And He it is Who in the heaven is God, and in the earth God. He is the Wise, the Knower.

Each of these definitions are non-definitions in the objective sense for any entity.  Epistemology has abstractions that are related to concretes to make the concept that is the abstraction: e.g. various types of apples to create the concept of apple, and various types of fruit such as apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries and the like, to come to the concept of fruit.  Without being tied to anything that is objective what remains is subjective interpretation of an external entity.  There is a difference between the subjective experience of an external source, such as do we see the same shade of red as one another; that perception may differ.  Variation of interpretation of an existential object's existence is in how we see a thing, not in what it is: it is either there or it is not.  Whether one sees it or not does not have an effect upon its actuality.  If we do not see the table in the dark, when we kick it our senses will alert us to its actuality.

When the books one bases one's understanding of God upon make the same admonition that God is beyond human comprehension, and with only disconnected definitions, what makes something objectively provable is impossible.  To define something is to limit it to the definition, but 'Self-Existent One', 'All Father', the 'Alpha and the Omega', 'The Supreme Being' as well as being Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent are each impossible to individually tie to a single entity, let alone combine all of them into one entity.

What is generally advanced as proof of God are 'experiences of God', meaning individually feeling the presence of God in one's life; they 'felt' the presence of God.  This experience is not objective, but subjective, meaning it is beyond being verifiable to an actual being.  There can be no debate that one may have felt some thing, but that one may have felt something has no bearing on the actuality of what is real in the world.  Again, the interpretation of something has no effect upon what that thing actually may be.  'Feel the presence' of something, and is that something the Abrahamic God, Zeus, a goblin spirit on Mars, neural stimulation/activation?  The first three each have the same potential proofs; the last one actually can be seen, but it is not the one that refers to an entity.   

Non-personal experience proofs of God that are advanced are substitutes for great cosmological forces and events: the origin of the universe, the creation/existence of life.  However, these proofs of God are interchangeable with the Deistic and Pantheistic concept of God making the willing God unneeded or irrelevant; Nature is the dominating and guiding factor, with God as a poetic image working with Nature.  There is no room for a God that wills; Nature, with science being a good tool to observe, understand and predict events to varying degrees that continue to be fine-tuned, shows us that water when reaching a low enough temperature will freeze, when reaching a high enough temperature will turn to a gas, explain why lightning strikes and what causes and the effects of neural stimulation.  This Nature's God is the Law of Identity: things being in accordance to what they are, and interacting in accordance to how they must.  There is no God who wills; there is Identity in Nature of 'Is', that is A = A.

Each example of why it is impossible to existentially prove the existence of God, is also a reason of why it is impossible to prove that God does not exist.  Without a specific object of reference, there is not a specific object to disprove.  In a dialogue on such a subject between Arenos and Madgo, Madgo reprimands "You speak so highly of proof, then I ask  you to prove that God does not exist."

"I tell you it is not for me to prove the nonexistence of something; it is for you to prove the existence of a thing. Here" Arenos turned his empty hand so his palm faced up.  Looking at Madgo, Arenos continued "I say there is a rock in my hand; prove there is no rock in my hand."
"Don't be ridiculous.  Of course there is no rock in your hand."
"Prove it."
"How can I prove what is obvious?"

No proof is proof enough of the nonexistence of a thing.  When proof is found, then there can be said for a thing to be.  However, proof, or 'hints' at the existence of a thing unbeknownst to man does not mean that it is the willing God.  A mystery by default does not mean the answer is God.  Eclipses used to be seen as ominous, omens from angry gods or an angry God; however, with science, the supernatural veneer has been lifted and humankind has seen far beyond what any early man could have ever imagined.  The Sun used to be seen as an object that moved around in our skies; we now know that it is one but of billions of stars in our own galaxy, and a small star in that.  The changing properties of water, as well as the fields of biology, neurology, astrophysics and countless other areas of science show that there is no reason to believe in the God that wills.  When there is no proof to first make an assertion of the existence, what more can be offered?  Even if there was some proof of the existence of some thing, that does not mean it must be the mysterious, default vague notion of a willing God.

Finally, there are those who state that as there is no proof that there is no God, that is reason enough to believe in God for God will show Himself in His time, to those who are willing and able to receive His message.  This is the last speculative resort of one clinging to what is beloved.  The depth of devotion though does not have an effect upon the actuality of existence.  In conclusion, I offer Bertrand Russell's 'teapot':

"If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I  were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.”

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Belief in God is the Ultimate Moral Relativism [A Brief Review]

Those who believe in God advance the 'highest' moral system created: the one by their respective God.  Even when thinking they are granting a concession to nonbelievers regarding the ontological nature of God, they still press that even if God didn't exist, there would be no objective moral system, leaving only moral relativism.  The Good is decided by God, and without God, there is no Good.  However, what they fail to realize is that by holding up a God who decides 'The Good', they are actually enshrining the ultimate moral relativism.  Their moral relativism would be actually worse for it would be systematized, making a 'tyranny for our own good' while individual moral relativism would be constrained to the individual.

An objective moral principle of humanity and individualism states that no one is the property of another.  However, God and His 'prophets' had slaves of all types.  Muhammad had numerous slaves, and the Bible makes references to the owning of slaves (including sex slaves - remember Moses' taking of the 32,000 'women who had not known a man) to which neither Jesus or Paul explicitly condemn.  Objectively slavery is immoral, but with God and God's will, slavery is permissible.

An objective moral principle of humanity and individualism states that murder is immoral (murder, not killing for murder brings with it its own context as killing is vague).  However, God and His 'prophets' murdered countless people.  'Killing in the name of...' is the [appropriate] pejorative, but also the justified excuse believers use.  Whether it is killing the apostates and nonbelievers mentioned in the Koran, the 'sinners' in Sodom and Gomorrah, the children of the subjects of the one who isn't liked (parents of firstborn in Egypt who wouldn't have any significant political power), the entire planet in Noah's story, or an individual that is one's own child with Abraham - murder is acceptable or even held as an exemplar of devotion with God.  God had 32 of the 32,000 virgins offered up to Him.  Objectively murder is immoral.

The Classic Greeks asked this question with Plato and his Euthyphro: is The Good what God (the gods) decides, or does God (the gods) like The Good because it is The Good.  To give the base of morality to any [Abrahamic-based] God is to cede morality to an interpreted understanding of what others advance from books written by man, influenced by the culture/context of the time, interpreted through generations today to come to their understanding to be pressed upon today.  It is relativism, plain and simple.  Objective morality based upon human rights and individualism is based upon principles which are eternal, while understanding of 'God's' will fluctuates with time and to who is being addressed.  If you want an ultimate, objective standard of The Good and morality then it is not to any God that one should be turning to. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

'If you don't believe God exists, how could you be mad at Him?'

'If you don't believe God exists, how could you be mad at Him?' (snicker)

Many theists of various sorts enjoy deriding atheism by asking 'if you don't believe in God, how can you be mad at Him?' or 'are you also mad at Bigfoot?'  Though there may be a few who are actually angry at a specific god, the retort to atheism with such dismissive questions overlooks a crucial point for the issue at hand is greater than any level of animosity at a specific entity/deity. 

Most atheists are as equally mad at God as they are at Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster and the like - meaning atheists are not angry at God for there is no actual object for scorn.  Similarly, most atheists are not angry with anyone's belief in their chosen god.  The issue of anger comes forward not from anyone's belief in God, but from the basis of that belief in God going beyond personal belief and into aspects that affect public life meaning politics and government.

Some examples are needed to show the concern; this is not a left/right wing issue, for both sides have the commingling of religion and State.

"Go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant - they're quite clear - that we would create law based on the God of the Bible and the Ten Commandments" - former governor Sarah Palin


"There is no contradiction between support for faith-based initiatives and upholding our constitutional principles." - former senator Hillary Clinton

Following Palin's desire here would include violating the first Amendment for the obvious fact of endorsing a religious system; this is a glaringly obvious conflict with individual liberty when all but two of the 10 Commandments have nothing to do with protecting individual rights, but are proscriptions upon human behavior based upon the Biblical God's wants.

Faith-based initiatives, a repeated calling from ex-president George W. Bush, are also against the first Amendment.  It's deemed okay when the faith presented matches one's own, but when the faith doesn't match there are problems.  An example of 'my faith' is good, but yours is not can be seen in Oklahoma where to match a 10 Commandments monument, Satanists have a design for a statue to be paired with the commandment monument.  Additionally, Hindus have a statue proposal for their religion, and Atheists have erected a monument to no God next to the commandment monument.

"I don't know that atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriots.  This is one nation under God." - former president George H. W. Bush

"Those who are quick to feel disrespected often have a spiritual vacuum in their lives, because they feel disconnected to the love of their Father in Heaven." - Presidential nominee Al Gore.

"If we are practicing Muslims, we are above the law of the land." - CAIR director Herman Mustafa Carroll

"I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.  I am not in favor of gay marriage." - then senator Barak Obama

Each of the aforementioned comments emphasizes a legal distinction between how different people are to be treated.  No legislation (in America) has been passed that states atheists are lesser citizens, and there has not been any legislation stating that Muslims are super-citizens.  There have been laws advanced that repeated Obama's (and numerous other politicians) stance that marriage should be between a man and a woman.  Obama, like most other politicians, has an 'evolving' (politically expedient) stance that changes throughout the years from 1996 to 2013. 

Law, however, doesn't change as easily as one can change one's mind.  Law stays in effect until a new law/amendment is passed that nullifies the original.  What will be the result if the same number, or even more people who pushed for the marriage=one-man-one-woman legislation, advance that Muslims are to be super-citizens or atheists are less-than-citizens?  The precedent has already been set for taxation in who gets taxed what with respect to socoi-economic status, and distinctions are being made outside of taxation.  With precedent, new forms of applying it will come.

"I am a firm believer in intelligent design as a matter of faith and intellect, and I believe it should be presented in schools alongside the theories of evolution... call for the examination of all sides of a scientific theory..." - governor Rick Perry

Former senator Hillary Clinton stated that Jesus' resurrection was a historic event.

Any religious text has examples in it that if taken literally are morally repugnant or physically impossible.  Moral issues are related to the ways people can be treated differently for being not of one's group: women, infidels, apostates or just pagans/barbarians.  Regarding the return of the 'Son of Man' in Mark 13:24-25: But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and those powers that are in the heavens will be shaken.  As Neil deGrasse Tyson quipped, that one says the stars will fall from the skies shows that who wrote that had no idea about what they were writing about.

"Doing the Lord's work is a thread that runs through our politics since the very beginning.  And it puts the lie to the notion that separation of church and state in American means somehow that faith should have no role in public life." - current president Barak Obama

As any politician, Obama does speak well regarding not implementing his religious beliefs in legislation - in some areas.  Freedom of/from religion isn't a piecemeal aspect of humanity where it's okay to force some of one's religious preference on others; it is to be an absolute division, leaving individual liberty and self-direction to choose one's course in embracing or rejecting religious systems.  Individual rights transcend any religious law; Nature transcends any religious tenet.  Just because men and women are different, or that another has a different belief system doesn't mean that one has the authority to morally treat them differently based upon that distinction. 

Let us combine some thoughts of those in government with some verses from religious texts and see if the combination thereof is a good one.

"We are a nation called to defend freedom - a tradition that is not a grant of any government or document, but is an endowment from God." - former attorney general John Ashcroft

"God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then He instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East.  If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them." - president (at the time) George W. Bush.

"The Constitution promises freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.  We are, after all not just another nation but 'one nation under God.'" - former senator Joseph Lieberman

All of the aforementioned examples given are made by those in government, or trying to influence government.  That means they are working with the system that has a legal use of force.  Legal use of force against its own citizenry and abroad.  Segregation, prohibition, eminent domain were each advanced based upon varying degrees of a religious belief; spreading democracy, like sharia, has many who advance religious understanding as the basis for legal/political/police actions.  How closely religion and politics commingle.

When a moral/legal differentiation amongst people is accepted as a base for how to see people outside of moral/legal issues (not based upon how they act, but on something else), the dominant power can exercise force against those deemed not worthy of self-direction.  This isn't just referring to America's distant past with slavery.  Stoke enough fear and groups can be marginalized.  This can be an immediate concern as though they were all conspiring to attack (Japanese and German citizens being interred during WWII), or by association with 'evil' such as being 'witches and sodomites'. 

When one takes to heart as part of their sacred tomes such verses as:

Leviticus 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination. (20:13 follows with 'they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them').

Surat Al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2:191 And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing.  And do not fight them at al-Masjid al-Haram until they fight you there, But if they fight you, then kill them.  Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.

...even if the those who follow those books outwardly differentiates between their political and religious lives, what level of that moral proscription/prescription of actions upon others carry over into other parts of their lives?  If there is part of their religious base that has a literal God that is to be obeyed, instead of a spiritual image that had books written about it to try and explain/review life based upon the temporal/spatial limitations of those who wrote the original books, then there is a part of their beliefs that is to transcend the political goals they are supposedly trying to achieve.  John McCain, Mitt Romney, Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton each were not for the recognition of same-sex marriage.  Homosexuality used to be considered a mental disease. 

The enlightened can regress if allowing irrationality to smolder.  Afghanistan had a more open society for women during the 1970s.  The additions of 'In God We Trust' and 'one nation under God' were both not originally on US money or in the pledge of allegiance.  The change from openness to closed is rarely quick; the most sweeping and lasting is through an extended time.  The issue is not so much (though not wholly excluding) any specific policy advanced that has religious strings attached: it is the principle that those religious strings may be attached at all that is to be addressed.  Any specific politician at any given moment may not be calling for sweeping changes, but as a foot in the door keeps the door open so too does that first principle-setting policy that gets passed allowing the religious/political commingling.  A different politician, or the same one at a different time, after seeing how much more that door can be opened gradually, will eventually swing it wide open and at that point it will be too late. 

All of this will be based upon a philosophical base holding religious convictions prepotent over individual rights.  The end result is one who sees his religious cause to be achieved regardless of the methods - of who is sacrificed (i.e. murdered or enslaved), it is irrelevant for there is a 'greater good' and that is God's will.  So atheists do not hate God; they do hate the belief and the attempt to bring one's individual literal interpretation of a God into political life.  It has its own precedent and natural consequence.

"Remind yourself that in this night you will face many challenges.  But you have to face them and understand it 100 percent... Obey God, his messenger, and don't fight among yourself where you become weak, and stand fast. God will stand with those who stood fast." & "Keep a very open mind, keep a very open heart of what you are to face.  You will be entering paradise.  You will be entering the happiest life, everlasting life." - Mohamed Atta

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Bane of Our Existence

The Bane of Our Existence


There is a characteristic of humanity that is not part of our better nature.  It is, in fact, the bane of our existence.  It brings with it repeated trouble through missed opportunities, misunderstandings and even outright conflict amongst people.  It persists because it comes under the guise of our betterment while being more easily engaged in than its alternative.


What is this bane?


Our bane is that we are existentially observational, but not self-reflective.

What does that mean?  Floating abstractions do not help us and ambiguous claims are equally worthless as definitions are needed.  Our bane consists of two parts.  The two segments are simple, but like most things simple their application is difficult. 


Part one - existentially observational - simply refers to that we can see things outside of ourselves and can make value judgments upon what we see.  This by itself does not refer to the validity of those judgments.  But to be existentially observational is to experience the existence of something, whether it is something tangible or conceptual, a physical object or an action, matter or a concept, it is a thing experienced. 


Part two - not self-reflective - simply refers to that though we may see something 'out there', we do not process that thing as something that equally may affect us - that based upon its being out there and we are not out there or our bias to it, the same principles observed affecting others or happening elsewhere do not necessarily apply to us.  This may affect individuals or collectives, but are more easily embraced and solidified with more people adhering to it.  Those with similar ideas bolster each other, keeping the thought process maintained through the shared, preferred vision.


First we'll look at the existentially observational; second we'll look at not being self-reflective.  The initial examples whereby the existentially observational seem benign and obvious, making their true principles set forth to be overlooked.


Existentially Observational: a moral principle states that between two neutral parties (neutral here meaning there is no prior obligation/victimization between the parties), it is wrong to initiate force of one upon the other to take the victim's valuables, and this remains the same even if a third neutral party is involved to 'out vote' the third.  We recognize that we do not have the right to force another to act according to our dictates, or to take from them without permission what they rightfully have earned.  Equally, we recognize that someone else does not have the right to force us to do things against our will, or steal our justly acquired resources - even if we are the minority of a group.  A stranger or neighbor cannot simply and properly, come up and take the food off your plate.


Not being self-reflective: as a principle, not being able to force another to give up their property or work against their will applies to all.  However, we allow it - and even expect it nowadays - when it is decreed as part of a government program, when the State says give or obey.  Through various programs being implemented in welfare (whether it is individual or corporate/poor or rich), for health coverage, loan guarantees, or just to 'level the playing field' and for 'income equality', each one is deemed acceptable forced participation or redistribution of one's resources (time, effort and money).


Existentially Observational: we not only recognize that we do not have the right to force someone to do something, but that we also do not have the right to use force to deny someone from pursuing their happiness.  In the same manner, we do not recognize someone else having the legitimate right to deny us from pursuing our goals, how we may interact with one another as long as no one's rights are violated. 


Not self-reflective: in a similar vein as the first point, it has come to be allowed, even expected that the government may regulate how we interact with one another or how we pursue happiness in our daily lives.  If you want to sell your goods or services to those who have reviewed your work and deemed it worthy of patronage, it does not matter if you did not get an approved license/permission from the State on an expanding range of goods and services.  If we go outside that permission, we can get fined, arrested or worse if we challenge it.  After your own deliberation, if you want to consume something that may have some risks, whether it is drugs, alcohol, raw milk or anything else whereby two free parties may wish to exchange, if it is not approved then you are legally denied it. 


Existentially Observational: if you wanted to defend yourself, you have the right to do so and take the precautions to assist that defense.  In a similar manner, you cannot prevent someone else from defending themselves in a manner they see fit.  Not self-reflective: again, following the aforementioned examples (there is a pattern), the State is expected to regulate who can have what type of firearm, where they can have it, and currently trying to regulate how much ammo it can carry.


Existentially Observational: killing is wrong contextually, for if someone was coming at you with a knife or weapon with the intent of killing you or a loved one and you used lethal force in return, then killing is justifiable.  Murder, bringing with it its own context of not in response to the use of force is immoral.  We recognize we cannot murder, and expect those who do commit murder to be prosecuted if they succeeded (even, preferably, if they did not succeed). 


There is a process, a context outside of self-defense whereby killing is deemed possibly justifiable whether it is through law enforcement such as the issuing of a warrant for the arrest of murderer who may violently resist or through the declaration of war in response to a hostile nation.  In each case it is not up to an individual's whim, but a formal process through the courts for the issuance of a warrant or through congress to declare war because of a threatening nation.  In either case, there is to be an objective panel that is look at the evidence and decide whether it is sufficient for an arrest warrant to bring an individual who violated rights to justice, or the collective action of nation acting against another; it is not just whim of one being the guiding directive. 


Not being self-reflective: those in the government, in particular the president (not just one but most since the last declaration of war by congress during WWII) have gone beyond the process of the objective system leading them to be judge, jury and executioner.  Not just individually such as when Anwar al-Alwaki and his son Abdulrahman who were killed in a drone strike, but countless others for anything from 'police actions' to 'nation building' (e.g. Vietnam to Iraq), with all the killing and animosity it brings.  Obama is just continuing the practice established, for congress, as well as 'we the people' have not asserted our roles, allowing one branch of the government to exceed its bounds.


In the same manner, we cannot detain someone or search someone, or be subject to someone else's whim to search us, which is existentially observational.  Being self-reflective, we see that we do allow arbitrary searches/surveillance regularly upon us, as well as detentions without just cause based upon the whims of those in authority, whether it is The PATRIOT Act, a TSA search, DUI checkpoint, NSA spying, stop-and-frisk, border searches or the like.


Existentially observational: we recognize it is wrong to categorize every member of a group based upon a superficial characteristic (such as race, or socio-economic status) as equally guilty or innocent of the malevolence or beneficence of one member of 'that' group.  We resent being grouped with and be judged as guilty for merely being in the same category as one who did commit a crime.  Not being self-reflective: we allow and expect various authority figures to make such collectivistic condemnations, whether it is the State to punish or benefit the rich through a tax to 'pay their fair share', subsidy to 'help the economy' or bailout for being 'too big to fail', or any group against another not being a member of one's own class/religion. 


An existentially observational furtherance with respect to religion, let us look back upon killing: a parent whose negligence led to their child dying is deemed a bad parent, or at least one who is guilty of negligence even if beforehand they were a good parent; a parent who murders their children is properly deemed not just as a bad parent, but as a murderer. 


Not being self-reflective: at a secular level, tying back into the aforementioned of not allowing the whim of an individual elected leader be the one who decides when military action would be made (congress being the one who should declare war), we do not hold the president guilty of all the killing done as collateral damage trying to get targets not formally declared guilty or deserving attack.  In Pakistan alone, hundreds of civilians, including more than one hundred children have been killed in drone strikes.


On a sacred level, Abraham is held up as model of devotion when he was preparing to sacrifice his son Isaac to God.  He did not actually sacrifice Isaac, so some may say he is an invalid criticism even though he fully intended to sacrifice his son and at the last minute was stopped from murdering him.  If a different example is needed, look no further than General Jephthah who did sacrifice his daughter to God, and was rewarded for doing so. 


Regardless of whether it is Stalin or Pol Pot starving the people, God targeting the first born, or everyone outside of Noah's family - millions of children and others were murdered: it is human cleansing of a specific population or humanity entire .  All of these are done in the name of the 'greater good' whether that is to be in the name of one's country or humanity.


Lastly, this brings us to our final (non-exhaustive) existentially observational point: a basis for moral upbringing should be part of education.  Not self-reflective: what should that basis be?  Most want to have some religious base.  There is an objective moral base, but most interpret their individually-based cultural norm as the objective moral standard.  As just mentioned, different religions have different standards and examples of proper moral behavior (how to treat women, gays, infidels, apostates and so on), so when one wants religious teaching in school should it be Christian?-Islamic?-Pagan?-Buddhist? 


In addition to whatever the believer's overarching religious base may be, exactly what subset of that system should be taught, for each has divisions/schisms within them: each has members that have gone to war and killed members of other religions (e.g. Crusades or more recently the various Muslim/Christian clashes initiated by both sides, in Africa for cross-religious conflict and the inner conflicts such as in Islam with Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis and in Christianity with Catholicism and Protestantism - some included bloodshed). 


A true moral system without bias is possible when religion is removed from it.  It is equally foolish to teach a biased religious system in place of an objective moral system in the same way it is to religion as objective scientific fact in Creationism and to 'teach the controversy' that the universe was 'spoken' into existence, just as a stork delivers babies. 


Belief systems can be examined at the Existentially Observational level; here they can be dissected.  However, ontology is not affected by the epistemological development of the seeker.  Regardless of whether one believes in an actual entity of God named Yahweh, Allah, Zeus, Krishna or states there is no God, that the individual (or collective) believes it does not have an effect upon the reality of whether or not that Deity (or deities) exists or not. 


Likewise, whether one believes a Capitalist, Socialist, Communist, Fascist or Monarchial system is the proper system of government for the best society does not have an effect on the efficaciousness of those systems in being the best for what is it to be the 'best'?-how is it achieved?-who decided for whom?-how is the plan to be the best implemented?  That is at a pragmatic level; how moral each system may or may not be is unaffected by how efficacious it may be. 


The key question requiring exact definitions is: what is it to be 'the best?'  The corollary questions include to whom?-and how?  If we only look at pragmatic concerns and efficaciousness, then we can see that the pyramids still stand for us to see, and Jim Jones was beloved by his followers - at least by enough to take care of all the rest of them.  Slavery or brainwashing, both may be effective at achieving an end, but both are immoral.


Cultures and beliefs are not equal and many have contrasting if not mutually exclusive belief systems; people have the right to believe in them and participate in them according to the self-direction that they choose as their option.  Whether one is a believer in a Deity or is an Atheist, they each have the right to believe as they so do and as an extension allowing each other to follow their right or wrong conclusions.  If one wants to free himself from his cultural chains, that is his right, just as it is to put those chains on if he actually wanted to do so, or keep them on after seeing one has the option to remove them.  The key point of this is being responsible for one's actions and choices; this is the reason why psychiatrist Viktor Frankl advised having a matching Statue of Responsibility to be with the Statue of Liberty.  You can choose, but own your choice; abdication is a choice.


How does a culture embrace science, logic and reason as contrasted to dogmatism and superstition, and most importantly, how is its reason-or-superstition view placed upon the members?-allow its members liberty and self-direction in general, or force obedience/obsequiousness?  Whether one's god is a Deity or the State, the base of belief is the acceptance that this third party/Deity has the authorization and ability to do that which we cannot, such as 'morally' steal from, imprison and even kill us, while also overriding the nature of identity such as ignoring the law of supply-and-demand, ignoring moral laws regarding the initiation of force, and changing a stick to a snake.


We cannot properly force another individual to think and behave to live according to our values.  That is the principle of tyranny we do not want forced upon us.  Individually, people do not have this power; if one person acts without any backing, they can be ignored, spurned or retaliated against either individually or with backing.  Individuals acting as a group form collectives.  It takes a system, a collective to implement and force obedience.  Where is this not being self-reflected?-when dealing with other cultures - interventionism, 'spreading democracy' or sharia.  'Our way' is to be imposed upon the other.


Collectives fall upon a continuum: based upon ideas on one side, and superficiality upon the other side.  Collectives can be based on morally irrelevant issues such as sports and which team is liked; collectives can be based upon such life-and-death issues such as nationalism.  The crucial distinction to be made is how does the collective 'think', for collectives do not think; individuals think.  It is the difference between scientists congregating to review the results of a study and coming to an agreement based upon the evidence against any group who states that by the fact one was born with a certain tint of pigment in their skin or have a different religion, each needs to be grouped differently and have a different moral value - not just description, but proscription and alienation based upon superficiality.  Any thinking mind can contribute to a scientific theory; only those matching the appropriate demographic may enter the equivalent of a kid's fort with the sign 'girls stay out!'


Collectivist thinking is not thinking; it is in fact the lack of thinking.  It is the embracing of a non-thinking characteristic, and giving it prepotency over actual thought.  Collectivistic thinking embraces a non-substantial norm, and that norm becomes dogma. 


The bane of our existence emerges from two parts: 1) that humankind is a social animal and we create group dynamics based upon various criteria, such as who is in 'my' family and friends, our culture, who likes the same music, sports team, religion and so on.  There are those who are more like us, and those who are not.  Others may have beliefs or act in ways one's own group does not like.  The further someone is from one, the more their negative aspects will be taken as a personal characteristic - an ingrown/inherent part of who they are instead of people like us growing in a difference social context, in order to justify feeling contempt for them. 


2) the valid cognitive task of categorization, but taking it beyond where its proper limits should be.  Categorization is a valid, pragmatic process when kept in its proper place: differentiating Red Delicious apples from Ambrosia and Fuji, those specific apples from other fruits (colloquialism of apples and oranges), and furthermore from ripe or rotten.  Categorization is improper as mentioned when it gets to proscription and allowances letting someone or something be treated differently, or having different capabilities, based on the same superficial level of differentiating between an Ambrosia and Fuji apple. 


When this differentiation is made, new standards are created and people act upon them with the necessary consequences that follow.  When 9/11 happened and thousands were killed in a single day with multiple explosions, many were understandably upset, angry and wanted revenge and/or justice.  We were attacked, our innocent people were killed and that is wrong so a response to such an attack is right - right in context. 


But what has our response been?  There has been no formal declaration of war by congress; what has been passed are actions in response to an undefined 'War on Terror' and its corresponding high death tool.  In response to the killing of thousands on one day, we have killed thousands over the course of years with multiple attacks and multiple explosions. 


It's not self-reflective to think that those who have loved ones killed 'over there' don't feel the same anguish as we do when our loved ones get killed; without a declared war with a State (though for the citizens that would not make too much of a difference), it is people living their daily lives getting killed (family, friends and countrymen) by another group.  It is not self-reflective to see the religious symbols one believes in are real, but 'theirs' are foolish, such as to state that though it is nonsensical to have Athena come from Zeus' head, but it is acceptable to have a woman come from a man's rib.  We recognize it is perjury to lie to the to government, 'bait and switch' fraud when done by a salesman, but it is 'just politics' when elected officials lie and misrepresent.  We recognize that we cannot kill arbitrarily, but allow and even celebrate it if our God does it for us.  And an important conclusion to this point: when we grant God or the State permission to act as such, we also grant its agents to act accordingly to enforce its ends. 


Each is an example of going beyond the obvious, and into our bane. 


There is an objective good that is beyond any cultural interpretation, for each interpretation attempts to find the objective good based upon temporal and spatial limitations.  Shadows hint, but do not show the actuality of the subject.  This objective standard exists whether or not we humans will be consistent about it.  We need to keep categorization in its proper place, in addition to recognizing that principles do not change because of crossing a cultural border, by a deity's commandments, or by a majority wanting something and stating an elected (or appointed) official makes a promise. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

"If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" Right?

You are being watched.

But, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

Isn't that right?  That is what the watchers want us to believe.

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution reads as:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

The NSA's Prism is the latest (and most expansive) program whereby information regarding communication amongst everyone is collected and stored.  The government claims it does not keep the content of said communications, but even if that was true, that should not give us any calming of mind.  The data that are collected includes who called who, when, for how long and from where.  If one of the people in the exchange is not a citizen, then the content can be monitored - even real-time.

The data collection is just the continued progression of the ever-expanding State presence in society.  Though the Supreme Court ruled against it (somewhat in U.S. v. Jones, 2012), the Obama administration and Federal government continue to state that a warrant is not required to affix GPS to someone's car, so that an individual's movement can be monitored.  The increase of cameras in public places, use of drones for police work, checkpoints and stop-and-frisk are various ways that the State already has been monitoring us, invading our privacy.

With technology, the State is able to track everywhere we go, know who we communicate with and for how long.  Again, this is taking those who are monitoring us at their word - that they are not listening to, reading or storing the contents of all those various types of communication.

With that ever-present eye of Big Brother, let's put this issue into context.  Through the various programs, even at the benign level its defenders try to portray it as, is no different in observation than a police officer trailing you, taking notes about where you go, who you talked to, for how long.  The corollary of that is the web of connections inherent in social networks and relationships - who did the one you talked to, talk to?-what about those they talked to?-and so on.

Would a warrant be required for an officer of the law to trail you, monitor you, collect your metadata, even if the contents were not captured?  Would a warrant be required for an officer of the law to enter your house and catalogue your possessions?  Would a warrant be required for an officer of the law to answer the phone for you, to get who you were speaking to, who you were calling, as well as reading your mail before you send or receive it?  Yes, a warrant would be required.

Just because we do not see Officer Friendly camping out in our yards, handing us our mail or our phones does not mean there is any difference between what that would be, and what the NSA is doing.  The data being gathered is being held onto by the government, stored for later use.  The State will look into their database to see who you spoke to, when, how long and the network of who they spoke with, and so on.

Here is where defenders of the invasion decry 'If you don't have anything to hide, then you shouldn't care.' 

This foolish statement gets offered regularly by those who think that security can be purchased at the cost of liberty - after all, if you want to be secure, you shouldn't mind the State invading your privacy because it is for the 'greater good,' that is to combat terrorism.

No, it isn't.

Those people who make such a statement fail to understand the nature of principle, focusing only on the concrete example before them - of that concrete before them, just a small part, not the whole - selective attention and self-imposed blinders.

Through the acceptance of the specific act, the principle that is set is the violation of liberty for the greater good, of those who have done no wrong, violated no rights and are not conspiring to do so.  'It's just a little encroachment,' nothing more.  After all, the laws are there to protect us.

Keep in mind how vastly laws are different or can change from state to state, not to mention Federal law is an ever-expanding mass of legal forms in the way the State may use of force to make citizens capitulate.  How do lawmakers stay busy?-they pass more laws.  We don't need any more of an example of how grossly the State may change its ambiguous stance on a position than to look at then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's corrupt statement: We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.

Terrorism itself is ambiguous - a helpful characteristic for the State to use the term to punish those deemed troublemakers, or to avoid using for pragmatic political purposes. 

Nidal Malik Hasan murdered 13 people and attempted to murder many more.  Prior to his murder spree, he had prompted investigation by the FBI for communication with one the State had formally declared a terrorist; Hasan chanted 'Allahu Akbar!' as he continued murdering.  Hasan's murder spree was deemed as 'workplace violence.'

Brandon Raub, a marine who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, posted comments - including song lyrics - on his Facebook page that were critical of the government; he was detained and placed in a mental institution, being deemed dangerous, needing immediate mental help.  He did not violate anyone's rights.

Senator John McCain advised that the US is also a battlefield.  Such a pronouncement makes it so we all are potential enemy combatants, and enemy combatants do not get rights. It is an excuse to say that the content may be monitored.  It is just the step beyond what Raub already experienced.

Combine the database, the vast social networks permanently linked, along with the selective implementation and finish the concoction with those in the government trying to show how busy and productive they are by passing new laws and see how the government will be able to look back: who was your doctor?-what kind of doctor was he, and did he change his specialty?-what other doctors did you talk to and when?  Did you speak to a gun dealer?-what about someone who knows a gun dealer?  Did you post something critical of the government?-do you know someone who posted something critical of the government?  It may not be critical now, but when a new administration comes in that takes over usage of the database, did you state anything that the new rulers do not like?

The IRS is going to be invested in healthcare; states have passed laws legalizing (to varying extents) marijuana - that the Federal government does not observe; states have different laws regarding how one may own different types of firearms; abortion laws are always under review to be changed.  Have an opinion on any of those issues?  Know people who have opinions about those issues?  Those connections will end up in the database - if not more than just connections.

At the defenders' own words, the system tracks when, how, for how long those communications existed.  Those who are critical of the system (including whistleblowers) state that more detailed data are tracked - contents.

Even at the best case scenario that the defenders try to paint on the invasion of privacy - or as they prefer to call it, just data mining - it does not take away that the illusion of non-intrusion, of not having an actual officer present collecting the data, by its nature sets the principle that without having specific reasonable suspicion and probable cause that the State can interject itself into our lives. 

It does all this without preventing what it was supposed to prevent: forewarned by others, both Hasan's Fort Hood shootings and the Boston bombings were not prevented though the NSA's program was in place.

The State (meaning those composing the government) will do what it wants, when it wants, and how it wants, without our knowledge or consent; the programs were created as such in the first place.

This is the ever-present eye of Big Brother making sure the people are obedient.  With the threat of force, the State passes laws dictating what we may and may not do; with expanding surveillance, we are being watched to make sure we remain obedient.  Making people obedient, removing the options from someone takes away the rational part of the rational animal leaving just an animal, like a sheep; a Shepard keeps his flock safe from predators, but also fleeces all, while even slaughtering some in the herd.

Who is watching you, and for what reason?