Sunday Open Thread – March 11, 2007

mutts shelter stories
Mutts Shelter Stories by Patrick McDonnell

What I’m planning on writing about soon:

  • Religion as a Form of Slavery: The God Delusion and all that. And technophilia as the fastest growing religion of them all. This all ties into what I’m thinking about (see below).
  • Increasing Our Resilience and Energy Level: Perhaps we’d save the world if we weren’t so tired, busy and distracted.
  • The Fourth Turning: The coming era of repression and violent reactionary tyranny? (I gave away my copy of the book, so this one will have to wait until I pick up a new copy).
  • Finding & Working With Others: Instead of working alone, connecting and colaborating with others, on our own terms, in our own context, developing our own plan of action. A billion diverse people doing our own thing but in sync, in community.
  • The ‘M’ word: One of the last taboos to talk or write about.
  • Do our frames enable independent thinking or preclude us from thinking objectively?
  • An easy way to ‘walk down the hall and chat briefly’ with people who aren’t down the hall.

What I’m thinking about:

The need to think for ourselves. The need to be ourselves. The need to smash groupthink of all kinds. And a process for doing it.

Thought for the Day, from the NYT:

“Whether or not you agree with them about, say, homosexuality and abortion ó and we emphatically do not ó it is antiquated to limit the definition of morality to the way humans behave among humans. Those days have been over ever since it became apparent that humans ó busy thinking only about their own lives ó had the power to destroy huge numbers of species, whole landscapes of habitat and, in fact, the balance of life on earth. The greatest moral issue of our time is our responsibility tothe planet and to all its inhabitants.”

What’s on your mind this week?

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6 Responses to Sunday Open Thread – March 11, 2007

  1. Martin-Eric says:

    Myself and acquaintances on a certain social networking site all have this sense of urgency for enjoying life while we still can; a feeling that something BIG and drastic is about to happen on Gaia very shortly. Many of us also found out that we nearly simultaneously reached a turning point in our personal life as well, with personal and professional commitments all reaching their conclusion and forcing a pause upon us before whatever is coming. The catch-22 is we barely know each other and we all live on different corners of the planet; we just happen to be members of the same online community and yet we ALL experience this huge sorrow, an urge to see the world while we still can and a feeling that something BIG is about to happen. None of us can put our finger on what exactly is coming, but we all feel it.

  2. Evan says:

    It amazes me to see the level of denial in the population at large. There are so many people who refuse to give up the “artificial” things in life. Why is this? If we don’t get closer to the Earth, we aren’t going to make it. When did quality of life become associated with plastic and petroleum products??? Give me an unaltered sky line anytime, there are so few left.

  3. Jim says:

    Dawkins argues that religion is wrong because of all the evils that have been perpetuated by it. First of all not all Christians are anti-homosexual nor do most accept slavery or the other acts of inhumanity cited by Dawkins. In most cases what is really going on in these isolated instances of inhumanity is individuals with pre-concieved ignorance and hatred manipulate religion to their frame and use logical sylogisms to trick people into accepting that frame as a part of their religion. And just because there are a few bad apples within religion doesn’t make religion per se bad. That kind of thinking would suggest that the US is evil simply because our current President is. Second religion is not necessarily about the question of whether we are good or not. Christianity, while the bible-belters and Jim Dobson crowd portray it as such really has to do with more than just morality. Third if religion is so “accidental” then why does it occur in every culture? I happen to believe in evolution and natural selection, not because of belief so much but because of observation. Having such an acknowledgement doesn’t betray my belief in God, of which I also have observed in ways that are convincing and yet probably unlikely to find any way to prove it in a laboratory. Dawkins uses the weak argument that just because the more outspoken and well funded Christians are anti-evolution, therefore anyone who embraces evolution must be anti-Christian. What chldish reasoning that is. Kind of like Bush’s “if you are not with us you are against us”. Again, Dawkins picks and chooses his definitions of God to fit whatever argument against God he happens to make but he fails to make any arguements that can be applied accross the board in a unified fashion. String theory is an attempt to bring unified understanding to physics, and anything in science seeks a unified explanation. You can’t just take an isolated belief held by only a crtain number of adherents such as that evolution and God cannot co-exist and argue on that and then pick another isolated belief among other Christian adherents says it is ok to have slaves or to discriminate against gay people as another arguement. A more respectable appraoch to argue either for or against religion, God and other things we cannot see and yet percieve through science, would be Margaret Mead or even the book Peak Experiences, who’s author slips my mind at the moment. How handy it is for Dawkins to pick on Aquanis’ five proofs when there are millions of people who still would claim to know the existance of the supernatural. Aquanis made the mistake of attempting to prove the existence of God thropugh logical reasoning thereby setting it up to be dispeled by syllogisitic gymnastics. What an easy target for Dawkins who ignores the incredible statisitcal proof found in just the existence of millions who have belief. If there was any proof to Dawkin’s belief that God is a delusion and that those who do not believe in God are somehow superior than God-believers would eventually become extinct.Dawkins incorrectly refers to the Old Testament writings to portray and define for us who this God is, as if Dawkins has the definitive understanding. Kennedy, Bush, Reagan, Clinton, MLK have all invoked the name of God in their pronouncements. The name of God was used to support wars and invasions throughout history. What Dawkins fails to do is realize that the Bible cannot be read point blank and dare I say, “literally”, without an understanding of the historical context and how political pronouncements and historical codes became a part of the canon. He makes the same mistake as those who use the bible to bash gays and anyone who wears a polyester-cotton blend suit. If you really want to know what God is like, look to Jesus Christ, which ya know is what Christianity is based on, (followers of Christ) not the contrived basis that Dawkins proposes. Clever this Dawkins is, in presenting one thing as the definitive and then dispelling it as if that somehow dispels everything even remotely related to it. His approach to understanding the Bible is very immature, unscholarly and sadly akin to the very people who manipulate the Bible to inflict inhumnaity on others.Mind you though, not everything can be directly observed. Perhaps as a scientist this is bothersome and one is tempted to use the lack of direct observation to prove the non-existence of God. But matters of faith are not always capable of being measured under the microscope. You just don’t see it, because you are using the wrong instruments. But your lack of seeing it for yourself doesn’t prove it away. And Dawkins barely makes a credible arguement even among non-theists. Surely you could have come up with a more convincing non-theist than Dawkins.Finally, I did not come to my religious belief through indoctrination nor being labeled a Christian child, nor by mindless acceptance of what some religious nut on the radio or the pulpit tries to tell me. I still analyze my pastor’s sermons and at times find things I disagree with. And no I did not go to church my entire life, and yes I choose to go to church. Yesterday I skipped it in fact. Whether it be from the pulpit, Bono giving a speech at the Image Awards or that special stand of pine trees in the woods near me, there is a knowing that there is a God that cannot be measured by scientific instruments. It is really too bad, David, that you are so militantly opposed to spirituality that you cannot even see it for yourself. But I can say that I am be proud to be a Christian, and believe in the existance of God, I am a liberal to boot and I am not apologetic for it and there is plenty of good in Christianity in spite of the isolated bad apples who bring dishonor everytime they invoke my religion for their evil intent. I really wish you could see past that as well. For Dawkins to suggest that anything other than atheism is not evidence of a healthy, independent mind is pure poppycock and judgemental. By extension of using the Dawkins article you are guilty of such judgement yoruself. You dont know me, how dare you suggest that I am just some mindless blathering idiot who believes without any thought. I like your articles, I think you go a little overboard on the anti-Bush theme, even though I don’t like Bush either and I do think he is the worst President in the history or our nation. But for the most part I have gained enourmous insight from your thoughts especially with the descriptions of social behavior. Your attack though on religious people is a departure and obviously is motivated by unhealthy agressive thoughts or some displaced agenda. Your psuedo-scientific attack on religious people is offensive, malevolent and non-productive. Why even go to such lengths to attack those who are religious? It is a waste of time and illogical as to why you would even bother. Try to stay focused on explaining how stuff works rather than trying to prove how something doesn’t work for you that happens to work for so many other people. The Dawkins reference doesn’t even add any real understanding about religious people. If people want to be religious, let them be. If you want to be atheist, I don’t have a problem with that, just show the same level of respect toward believers as I show for you to have unbelief.

  4. I want to reclaim the term “Crimes against nature.” No longer will it pertain to incest or sexual misconduct: I want to make it analogous to “Crimes against humanity.” I want to see CEOs charged with crimes against nature when they are responsible for products that set lakes on fire or destroy swaths of forest. For instance.Also, Jim: the foundational basis of any religious or cult belief is an anti-rational one.

  5. Robert Reed says:

    Hello. I am Robert Reed, and I regularly post on the Fourth Turning forums. I disagree with the characterization of Fourth Turnings as a time of mainly violent repression. The book is well researched, but I think that it is very selective, and leaves a lot out.The truth is, any turning can be repressive, or liberating. First Turnings can be repressive, looking at the Alien and Sedition Acts and also the McCarthy Era. Second Turnings are often painted as a time of freedom, but this is not nearly always the case. They, too, are often eras of violent repression. Any minority that lived through the 1890s (when the White Supremacist movement kicked into high gear) can tell you that. And the 1960s contained episodes of violent repression. Likewise, Third Turnings can be oppressive, looking at the Red Scare of the 1920s and other similar events of the decade. I think that the prior Crisis, with the rise of totalitarianism, gave Fourth Turnings that image in many people’s minds.But Fourth Turnings can also be eras of increasing freedom and illumination. Being a racial minority in the 1930s was easier than during the preceding several decades. Keep in mind that the American Revolution itself was a Fourth Turning. For a lot of people, that Crisis was more an era of rising freedom than that of rising tyranny. Also, the rise of secularism tends to coincide with Fourth Turnings. The 1680s (a Fourth Turning decade) contained quite a few revolutions and social experiments. It was also a prime decade for the Age of Reason. Cotton Mather wrote his “Second Treatise on Government” that decade, which would inspire Revolution one century later. In the American Revolution Crisis, New England slaves became freed, and many whites experienced unprecedented freedom. In fact, blacks living in the subsequent First Turnings probably found the First Turning more oppressive than the Fourth. The US Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and the famous pamphlets of Thomas Paine were all Fourth Turning documents. The prior Crisis likewise was an era of liberation for many. Ethnic Whites experienced far less repression than during prior eras, as did racial minorities (with the exception of the Japanese and many Jews). It was also an era of radical progressive activism throughout the world. The campus radicalism of the 1960s was preceded by another period of campus radicalism in the 1930s []. The 1930s contained the first Humanist Manifesto, the Second Bill of Rights, and the UN Declaration. The 1950s were more free than the 1930s, but the 1930s, in turn, were more free than the 1920s or the 1890s (that is, if you lived in America). But then again, I might just be very selective. So the next Fourth Turning does not have to be an era of totalitarianism. It can be the opposite, and that depends on what we value as a society. Only in a Fourth Turning can we actually expand on democracy and freedom. If you want to create a nation based upon GNU and Open Soure philosophy, that would most likely happen in a Fourth Turning, not any other period.

  6. Dave Pollard says:

    Martin-Eric: I think you’re right, and it’s because although most of us don’t trust them, our instincts still speak to us, often loudly.Evan and Renee: Amen. And Jim, I’ve read your comments in the context of those responding to my March 13 post, with which they fit well.Robert: Agreed. In one sentence it is hard to capture the essence of an entire book, and I’m guilty of oversimplifying. My post on the book in the context of what has happened since it was written will either reinforce your points above, or infuriate you, I’m not yet sure which.

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