Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween
One need not be a chamber to be haunted; One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing Material place.
~Emily Dickinson

D'souza / Hitchens Debate

Here are the simple points that D'Souza used.1) Atoms follow the same pattern inside his head as they do outside in the larger world. Therefore that is evidence of a divine hand.2) D'Souza says that the speed of light was measured many times in our universe with the same result. But he can't be sure that light travels at the same speed outside of our universe. So to do so, would be a leap of faith.3) All morality was taught by Christianity and without Christianity it would be a world full of chaos and immorality. People are not capable of moral actions without the Christian religion. He stated that only Christian nations donate blood.4) In answer to the fact that the law of gravity is immutable, he used a strange pen analogy. D'Souza held up a pen and stated that if he chooses to drop his pen then the law of gravity will act upon the pen. But if he doesn't than he has stopped gravity. Therefore our freedom of choice can affect gravity. Since we can affect gravity then it is possible for things such as resurrection to exist.5) All the biggest despots of the 20th century were atheists. Hitler was an atheist and so was Stalin so atheists should take responsibility for these criminals. D'Souza did admit to the inquisition but he stated that not as many people were killed during that atrocity.6) He also used the talking point that the Founders were christian and the U.S. was a christian nation.7) The universe shows the signs of being "designed" for us therefore it is evidence of a god who has a plan.8) D'Souza stated that since Christianity advocates a moral world, actions have consequences. A world without Christianity would be an anything goes world in which people would run amok. He is glad that his religion advocates and assures a "what goes around, comes around" ethic and that there are consequences for "what we do in the dark".This is the kind of convoluted, market speak we get out of religious. Arguments that eschew sense in favor of simple blurbs that play upon the ignorant. There was also a big reason why D'Souza focused in on faux scientific arguments because it hamstrung Hitchens. Hitchens was intellectually honest enough to admit that he was not familiar with scientific proofs and would not argue them. That is why D'Souza's ridiculous pen argument was allowed to stand. On the flip side, when arguing with scientists such as Dawkins, D'Souza and his ilk favor societal/cultural arguments.These aren't arguments that D'Souza used but tricks and they should be viewed as such. The problem that Dawkins, Hitchens and others run into are that they are treating their opponents sophistry with respect. The time for that is over. As wonderful and intelligent as Hitchen's answers were to all of the above, they sounded convoluted compared to D'Souza's one sentence blurbs. The gloves must come off.

Monday, October 29, 2007

William Blake
London From
Songs of Experience 1793

I wander through each chartered street,
Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
A mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every man,
In every infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear:
How the chimney-sweeper's cry
Every blackening church appals,
And the hapless soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down palace-walls.
But most, through midnight streets I hear
How the youthful harlot's curse
Blasts the new-born infant's tear,
And blights with plagues the marriage hearse.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.
-- George Herbert

Monday, October 22, 2007

WOODY ALLEN: That's quite a lovely Jackson Pollock, isn't it?
GIRL IN MUSEUM: Yes it is.
WOODY ALLEN: What does it say to you?
GIRL IN MUSEUM: It restates the negativeness of the universe, the hideous lonely emptiness of existence, nothingness, the predicament of man forced to live in a barren, godless eternity, like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void, with nothing but waste, horror, and degradation, forming a useless bleak straightjacket in a black absurd cosmos.
WOODY ALLEN: What are you doing Saturday night?
GIRL IN MUSEUM: Committing suicide.
WOODY ALLEN: What about Friday night?
GIRL IN MUSEUM: [leaves silently]
"Play It Again, Sam", Paramount Pictures, 1972;image of "The Scream," 1893, by Edvard Munch

Lessons from Darwin: Not for Love

"Contemplate a tangled bank ..." - Charles Darwin

It is yes a green shimmer of beauty, Of butterfly flashes of lemon, The perfume of virginal roses, And larks lifting lyrics to heaven ...

And yes the larks love butterflies (for breakfast) Raccoons love meadowlarks (at midnight dinners) Roses hug their neighbors (till they wither) Nature breeds good nature (in her winners).

So Brahmins bless the beggars on the Ganges, Commisars kiss virgins in Havana, Massahs guard their nigras in Montgomery, And realtors praise the trees in Indiana.

Moral: True love suffers long and is kind of pathetically prone to be docile. Darwin's advice to the prone is: Beware of becoming a fossil.

Philip Appleman

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Golden Days
A golden sun, an azure sky,
A golden carpet Decks the forest floor.
And boughs above,held promise thereof countless millions more.
The air was brisk,
A gentle breeze Swirled flecks of gold that showered from above.
What luxury to live Among these maple trees,
And walk among their winding ways
To find such joy in golden days.

Bob Johnson
Athens, OH

Friday, October 19, 2007

SEE Top 10 Intelligent Designs:


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

REMEMBERING Emily Ruth Thompson
Born in Daytona April 15,1977

Lived in North Central FL.
Loved dancing, tennis, swimming, basketball, piano & art.
Attended Engelwood High School, Jacksonville.
Died on October 16,1993.

She is remembered and loved.
* Emily & her grandpa 12/24/91

Sunday, October 14, 2007

He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder."
-Albert Einstein

Bruno — one of the greatest and bravest of men — greatest of all martyrs — perished at the stake, because he insisted on the existence of other worlds and taught the astronomy of Galileo...
Robert Green Ingersoll in "A Christmas Sermon" (1892)

The First Great Star — Herald of the Dawn — was Bruno... He was a pantheist — that is to say, an atheist. He was a lover of Nature, — a reaction from the asceticism of the church. He was tired of the gloom of the monastery. He loved the fields, the woods, the streams. He said to his brother-priests: Come out of your cells, out of your dungeons: come into the air and light. Throw away your beads and your crosses. Gather flowers; mingle with your fellow-men; have wives and children; scatter the seeds of joy; throw away the thorns and nettles of your creeds; enjoy the perpetual miracle of life.
Robert Green Ingersoll in The Great Infidels (1881)

In 1584, twenty-five years before Galileo lifted a telescope, Bruno took the Copernican hypothesis to the outrageous new conclusion that the sun is merely one of an infinity of stars, which stretch across boundless and inexhaustible space. It was consummate audacity to proclaim an infinite universe in the teeth of the doctrinal dogfights of the 16th century. It was yet bolder to exult in the de immenso with the bounding wonder of a poet. The prospect of our earth reduced to a turning speck in endless space was terrifying to contemplate. An ecstatic Bruno cried, "My thoughts are stitched to the stars!" and contemplated little else. With an impetuous abandon that his contemporaries found reckless and even dangerous, Bruno proceeded to rethink man's relationship to the universe, to himself, and to God by the unimaginable light of countless stars.His conclusions were simply unbelievable for a late medieval mind: infinite other worlds, inhabited like our own, spread throughout space; a structure to the universe of suns and clusters of suns circling in grand orbits, but no "center" except in the ground beneath two human feet; the presence of God not atop an empyrean throne past the threshold of the farthest stars, but inhabiting every atom of matter; an eternal span to matter, which can change its form but never be exhausted in any proportion; and finally a logic infinity demanded of him — an innate union of all contraries, by which evil and good, history and the future, localized humanity and an infinite universe inform and express one another...
Bill Kuhns in "Giordano Bruno and Marshall McLuhan" (1996)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The last tomatoes in the garden are clinging to the vine, doing their best to ignore the change in season. It is my neighbor's garden, and because these are not my tomatoes, I can afford to be philosophical about them.
It occurs to me that the basic strategy of these vegetables is a mistaken one. The biological winners will be those that accepted their fall with grace weeks ago, when the ground was still warm and welcoming. Next year they will be the ones to produce new seedlings.
What is it, I wonder, that keeps these last fruits hanging on? Is it hope? Fortitude? Perseverance? Or just a bad sense of timing?
Timing is essential to the art of living: knowing when to hang in there and when to let go, when to struggle and when to surrender, knowing how to recognize the seasonable changes of our lives.May we be blessed with the wisdom of good gardens.
by Gary Kowalski, from Green Mountain Spring and Other Leaps of Faith, published by Skinner House in 1997

Monday, October 08, 2007

To serve is beautiful, but only if it is done with joy and a whole heart and a free mind.
- Pearl Sydenstricker Buck

Friday, October 05, 2007

"This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness."
--the Dalai Lama

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The problems of the world cannot possible be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were.
- John Keats

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Oct. 3, 2007After the success of his best selling book The End of Faith, author Sam Harris is now calling for the end of atheism. "I'd like to try to make the case that our use of this label is a mistake -- and a mistake of some consequence," Harris said Friday night, Sept. 28 to a crowd of more than 300 at the Atheist Alliance International conference in Washington D.C. "I think this whole conversation about the conflict between faith and reason, and religion and science, has been, and will continue to be, successfully marginalized under the banner of atheism," he said. "So, let me make my somewhat seditious proposal explicit: We should not call ourselves 'atheists.' We should not call ourselves 'secularists.' We should not call ourselves 'humanists,' or 'secular humanists,' or 'naturalists,' or 'skeptics,' or 'anti-theists,' or 'rationalists,' or 'freethinkers,' or 'brights.' We should not call ourselves anything. We should go under the radar -- for the rest of our lives. And while there, we should be decent, responsible people who destroy bad ideas wherever we find them."

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