November Voice of Sanity

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Editor: Joyce Bates
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P. O. Box 1744
Greenville, SC 29602
November, 2012

The Voice of Sanity

THE NEWSLETTER OF THE UPSTATE S.C. SECULAR HUMANISTS
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CALENDAR

 

Second Saturday Brunch, November 10th, 10:00AM to 12:00 noon, at Denny’s restaurant, 2521 Wade Hampton Blvd.

 

The conversation group (non-theist) get-togethers for August are:

1st Sunday (November 3rd) at 11:00AM and

3rd Sunday (November 17th) at 2:00PM

at the Brew and Ewe; 108 West Broad Street; Greenville.

 

The Free-Thought group meets every other Thursday (November 1st, 15th and 29th) 7:00PM at Bailey’s; 2409 Laurens Road; Greenville.

 

There will be a ANNUAL BUSINESS MEETING on Friday, November 16th, 7:00PM to 8:30PM, at the Greenville Public Library; Heritage Green.

Items on the agenda will be the election of officers and a vote to make a change in the by-laws. (We need early arrivals at 6:30 to set up chairs)

 

For additional local activities see calendars at: www.meetup.com/piedmont

www.piedmonthumanists.org

 

COULD WE BE WRONG?

 

I ask this question in a rhetorical manner. Could we (Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists, non-believers, etc) be wrong as to the existence of God and infallibility of the religions’ sacred books? This is incorporated in the question of the ages. In His book, “The God Delusion”, Richard Dawkins lists seven milestones that every Atheist faces. I am in category seven (7), “I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung ‘knows’ there is one.”

 

There is no specific historical evidence that Jesus Christ of the New Testament ever existed! To carry that even further, there is no evidence that Jehovah of the Old Testament and the teaching of the Apostles and other Biblical writers existed except in legendary stories. The Christian Bible does not speak authoritatively. The “faith” of believers rest only in ‘blind faith.” Practically, every “alleged facts” of religions are brought into question by science and practical inquiry.

 

The most important event in all Christendom, the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, is so confusing in the pages of the Bible that it defies reason or logic! All four reporters of the alleged event told a conflicting story as to time, who was there, the time of day, confusing as to the women present, the appearance of an angel, etc. The tale has no basis in facts. In other words, the yarn is not believable nor would it stand up in any court.

Prophesies in the Bible are the ramblings of ancients who probably were under the influence of unknown hallucinating substances of that day. In his book, “100 False Bible Prophecies,” Robert Collins enumerates contradictions of Biblical prophecies. I give you one. Second Timothy 3:12 predicts, “all that will live godly…shall suffer persecution.” But, Proverbs 16:7 states, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” The Christian Bible is abundant with contradictions and there are many books available which catalog them all.

 

The Bible can be discredited on every front. In any other circumstance, so called Christians will practice logic and reason, but the culture dictates “faith” when religion is involved and that is all it is. Faith, changes nothing. There is luck, circumstance and destiny. Faith does not change the facts at hand. It does not change behavior. It does not change the fact, that man is an creature of nature, habit and routine, acting in the fashion of the animals. Animals have no “soul.” Humans have no “soul.” At death, that is the end. We are destined for several places: the cemetery, the crematory, the university or the sea, We all are born, we live and we die. Nothing about a heaven or hell can be proven. The burden of proof rests on those who believe and for 2,000 years it is still unproven.

Often we hear someone say “he/she is a person of faith.” What faith? Faith conjures up all the teaching of Jesus and the entire Bible or the sacred writings of other religions. 1) Do not lie, 2) witness to others, 3) keep the commandment {all of them}, 4) share, 5) give a helping hand, 6) follow Jesus in example, 7) lead people to God, 8) love one another, 9) help the poor, 10) be an example of Biblical teachings, etc, etc. The Christian Bible is loaded with commandments, teachings, parables and Christ’s examples, yet there is only a thin veneer of “holy living” as mandated by Biblical writers. The ranks of the unbelievers are growing annually as cited by recent polls and surveys.

 

The over riding message of this article is, with all the preceding, can/does a God exist? I mean a god who is “up there somewhere” involving him/her self in the affairs of man, and listening to opposing football teams praying for victory and safety. Can we be wrong in rejecting the existence of God? Not withstanding the archeology, anthropology, star gazing, assumed history (unfounded), sacred writ and faulty arguments, a positive proof of a god working in the affairs of man is totally unavailable! Reason and a realistic evaluation of the most simplistic look at the options, leads to non-belief.

With all the religiously, church going, Bible study and reading, attempts at corralling the gods, worshiping, hymn singing, TV preachers, religious revivals, lifted hands, printed sermons, gospel tracts, praying and unintelligible god talk, little is practiced but much is “believed in faith.”

 

In any argument, facts and testimony are essential. In the world of “god belief,” there are no cold hard facts.

Could we be wrong? No.
Lee Deitz

 

ATHEISM AND IRRATIONALITY

 

Probably the biggest issue atheists have with religious belief is superstition. Anyone attending a traditional church, synagogue, or mosque for all practical purposes must leave sound thinking outside. Atheists constantly talk about this lack of reasoning, the idea being that in order for people to “wake up” to scientific reality they need to abandon superstition.

 

The dichotomy between superstition and scientific reasoning presents itself in a number of ways. Sometimes we refer to it as the spiritual versus temporal, or mind versus brain, or intuitive versus reasoned, or instinctual versus cognizant. In all we are dealing with the contradiction between that which is magical because it is without explanation and that which has been observed and nailed down by repeated observation and experiment in the real world. The surprise is that although atheists can be very rational, they can also display superstitious behaviors just as nicely as those attending church every Sunday.

 

Perhaps you would stay in a haunted house overnight, but I’ll bet you wouldn’t feel good about it while you were there. Maybe you have a rabbit’s foot on your key chain or have to think twice about purposely walking under the ladder. Maybe you would be very reluctant to wear one of Jeffrey Daubner’s old sweaters, but might be willing to try on one belonging to Mr. Rogers. Does your dog or cat understand you when you talk to it? I’ll bet you made a wish before you blew out the birthday candles, too.

 

Modern research shows that, whether we like it or not, “intuitive” thinking and cognitive thinking share the load of our brain activity. Otherwise, we probably wouldn’t be able to do so many tasks at once, or take for granted all kinds of mundane activities. For example, we know about gravity without benefit of Newton’s formula. We discovered it when we are still in highchairs dropping spoons. When we’re tiny we learn that the dog is not the same as the stuffed bear. As adults we put the stuffed bear in the washing machine and only wish we could do the same with the dog. As children we automatically keep our caution around people we don’t know without actually knowing why. These are things taken for granted but they are all learned without the benefit rational thinking.

 

There is a neurological aspect to intuitive thinking, as well. Neuropsychiatrist Peter Brugger suspects that dopamine related activity in the brain is part of the explanation for this willingness to infer more than what is actually there. Brugger tested believers and skeptics for pattern recognition. He presented words and faces among much “visual” noise on computer screens. Subjects were asked to identify any patterns or images they saw. Skeptics found fewer patterns on the screens than believers and they sometimes failed to detect some patterns that were actually there. A puzzling aspect came to light when Brugger administered the drug levadopa and raised dopamine levels in both groups. Then the skeptics recognized more patterns than they had originally, but the believers were now more conservative in what they saw. There is something going on here, but it will take more research to find out what it is. Nevertheless, patients with mental conditions such as paranoid schizophrenia, and bi-polar disease also exhibit the tendency to see more patterns in their surroundings than normal people do.

 

The idea that the mind belongs to the spiritual world although the brain is only a physical entity is perhaps the most stubborn of unproven beliefs to abandon; especially since there is so much we don’t understand about how our brains work. The firing of impulses during neural activity is measured in thousandths of a second, a time so short it is equally as impossible to imagine, as are hundreds of millions of years of geologic time. Even the notion of free will has been put in question since the discovery that our brains can initiate tasks such as moving our little fingers before we consciously think about doing it.

 

The reassuring or terrifying idea that the spirit of the mind can leave the body after death, entering either heaven or hell, is perhaps the last religious belief a person abandons upon renouncing God. Only when we admit the physical framework and the electrical processes allowing awareness, memory, emotions and reason are one and the same thing, can we look at religious superstition critically as a collection of antiquated unproven ideas.

 

Yes, atheists exhibit intuitive as well as rational behavior but they draw the line with organized religion. No organized religion would be able to withstand scientific findings that contradict its tenets without falling apart. This is probably the reason why fundamentalist believers are presently struggling so hard against the teaching of evolution in our educational system. They are, not without cause, afraid of “contamination” in the structure of their belief system. It is a system that contains a well organized and easy to understand explanation of natural history, placing humans below God, who dictates acceptable behavior, and above all other forms of life, over which they, humans, have control. Evolution utterly destroys this idea, reducing their orderly arrangement of life to apparent random occurrence through time. It also implies that humans are on a more or less equal footing with other forms of life.

 

So, atheists are superstitious. So what. Keep the rabbit’s foot on the key chain, but don’t plan on winning the lottery for sure next time around.
Hope you get your birthday wish, too.
JB

 

 

RAISING JESUS

 

It was just too easy

No parent deserves it-

The Virgin Mary

Raising Jesus!

 

Just think!

Never a worry about

Childhood diseases

Serious accidents

 

About victimization,

Bullies, molesters

Or drug pushers,

No worries about grades

Popularity or career choices.

He was magic, invulnerable

And he was perfect!

Without a sin!

 

Thus no screams, no lies,

No teenager feuding

No scrapping, no screwing

Or even masturbating.

 

When did he realize

He could do the miracle bit?

Do tricks for his friends

Save the family pet?

 

But none of that!

It was just too easy

Raising Jesus.

 

NOT ENOUGH

 

Have to face it

My life is not

Commensurate with

Poetic imagery.

 

Dated this smart

Good looking girl

In high school and college

No wild frat parties

 

Too serious

Came home for love

Hitched that sweetheart

To live happily

Lo these many years,

 

No divorces,

No separations,

No money woes,

No living in a trailer down by the river.

 

Moved away from

Right-wing brothers,

Cousins, in-laws,

Imbued with religiosity

 

Cramped worldviews

Devoid of conversation

Left behind George Wallace

Hard-shell Baptist preachers

 

And Alabama bigotry.

This is not

The stuff of poetry

Or country music.

Just not enough angst.

 

(Poems by Written by W.R. Garrett; Tennessee)

 

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