Monday, July 14, 2014

DUMB ASS RELIGIOUS PRACTICES

I was just out on the patio enjoying a brief and far too light rain shower when I got to thinking about some of my past religious experiences. In the cult I was part of, we tried to out-jew most Jews in observing everything from the food laws to the weekly Sabbath and the Bible holy days. We were quite a bunch of nuts, as I look back on it now.

I reflected on a particular Day of Atonement I endured (can't recall the year). That holy day is known as Yom Kippur to Jewish people. They are to afflict their souls for the whole damn day without eating or drinking anything and we dutifully did so, only to find since then that old Herb had a habit of fudging, but we never guessed that then.

Anyway, a real heat wave hit that day and we were sitting through the obligatory morning and afternoon services in the old not-air-conditioned Shakespeare Club in Pasadena. It's a wonder there weren't some medical emergencies, but I know of none. We got through and back home where we had a fan and a shower. My wife and I stripped bare naked and alternated between jumping in the shower and lying down in front of the fan to air dry. It cooled a bit about sunset and we went to a restaurant to break our obligatory fast and I think we must have consumed over a gallon of water each during that meal.

I look back on that now and wonder at what a dumb ass religion makes out of us. Whoever dreamed this crap up had to be a master of manipulation to realize how righteous such stuff makes people feel. Muslims are even worse about it. They're going through their Ramadan right now, fasting all day, feasting at night. What a dumb ass thing to do! But, it makes them feel special, holy and blessed.

How well I remember.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

SAME OLD SAME OLD

(From Facebook.)

Things just keep popping into my mind and this morning it's about how similar things stay in religious huckstering through the ages. As other posters have pointed out, most of religious stereotypes past and present, exhibit the clear signs of mental psychosis which gets credited to inspiration and spirituality.

I'll contrast Paul and my old nemesis, Herbert Armstrong. Both claimed special inspiration and leadership from "god." Herb claimed he was specially led in an Oregon public library. The truth is that he mined the psychotic madness of several other far out denizens of spiritual stupidity and plagiarized chosen bits of their nonsense to concoct a hodgepodge of pseudo spiritual nonsense that appealed to people who yearned to be specially chosen "god's pets." Most of us were misfits in the societies we were running from.

Once Herb had his millions of dollars secured from all us fanatics, he set out to palm himself off as some great teacher taking the end time warning message to the world. He got himself a luxurious private jet and flew around the world, hobnobbing with the rich and powerful, shopping at Harrods of London for steuben crystal gifts to present to people he called world leaders, but they were usually washed up former royalty and third world despots, bloviating about "a strong hand from somewhere" while pretending that was preaching the gospel.

So-called "apostle Paul" (he made the claim -- nobody in Jerusalem considered him such), also claimed special revelation through a seizure of some sort on the road to Damascus and an undocumented jaunt to arabia where Jesus, he assures us, personally communicated with him, much like a later guy by the name of Muhammad. He too, liked to travel around and build up admiring followings from the misfits and unstable of the world, but that often lasted for a short period and he did complain that everybody in Asia had forsaken him. He eventually ended up under arrest and unable to move around anymore and, I guess, executed.

At least Herb got to pass quietly sitting in a chair in his sumptuous mansion, but what he built has degenerated into the same kind of confusing plethora of warring sects as the original Catholicism Paul helped give rise to.

There's really nothing truly new under the sun when it comes to the circus that is religion.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

SKEPTIC AL

My second grandson, Connor Mounts, has just turned 21. I remember how I waited for that fateful day that would confer on me the magic of being an adult. In my case, it meant that I could go with the fanaticism that had seized control of my mind and I was soon off to do my part to change the world with the enthusiasm of a Hitler youth.

That was so long ago. So much has happened since then and here I am, almost 80, bruised and battered by many things that have transpired but infinitely wiser than I was way back then.

There was a time when I believed in reincarnation and thought I had already lived many lives and probably would live many more. That would be fine if we could remember all those lessons and not keep going through the same old crap over and over. It's supposed to be for soul progress and learning, but where is the learning if you have no memories on which to base conclusions and change outcomes?

I no longer accept such fantasies. I don't even think there is such a thing as an immortal soul that operates independently of a physical brain. Our human intelligence, as limited and faulty as it is, resides right there in that marvelous cerebral cortex no other creature has to the same extent. When it ceases to operate, it's curtain down and show over.

Yeah, I know, people have out of body experiences that convince them that they have eyes that see apart from their physical being and brain. But, you know, I've had similar things in dreams where I seemed to be looking at myself. That shows me that it's probably just a dreamlike mental fluke and similar things have been experienced by astronauts in high speed centrifuges.

If I happen to be wrong again, I'll deal with that when I get there. I'm just trying to do the best I can and I'm really totally fed up with the gullibility I once was prone to.

It's "skeptic Al" from here on out!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

JUST WHAT IS "SPIRITUALITY?"

We had our monthly planning meeting for our freethinkers group today. We discussed, among other things, the need some people have for "spirituality," whatever that means. Ask for a definition of that term and you are likely to get as many variations as you have respondents.

It's a very ethereal subject, much like trying to nail a blob of jello to the wall. People like to claim it for themselves as a substitute for being religious. "Oh, I'm not religious -- I'm spiritual" is a common way of saying it. I just don't like the term because it's become an undefinable cop out. Theologically, spirit is often likened to wind or breath. It might make you feel good on a hot afternoon, but it lacks a bit in tangibility.

I try to avoid the term entirely. I'm a humanist atheist who relies on compassionate empathy and common sense ethics as my guide in life. That's basically a live and let live way of viewing the world and human relationships. I frankly don't care if you want to believe in a non-existent god or in the flying spaghetti monster. Knock yourself out and squander your resources supporting organizations and pompous blowhards if that's your fulfillment in life. It's when you contrive to force me to go along that the brawl is going to start!

So, I'm really not interested in sponsoring speakers on this subject because I view it as kind of "fluff fluff" philosophizing. Anyone who wants to devote time to such discussions are welcome to the activity as far as I'm concerned. For the most part, I'll just opt out.

MY GOOD LIFE

(From Facebook.)

OK. Another day to live and do. Like I just said, my life has gotten steadily better overall ever since I had the presence of mind to walk away from that miserable cult and do my own thinking, earn and spend my own money as I saw fit -- not as some avaricious asshole told me I had to spend it while he lived in more luxury than many kings and pretended to be god's gift to mankind.

I finally found what I could call my soul mate, and that alone makes my life splendid. Phyllis is everything a man like me could ask for, and I'm not referring to sex either as that is a very limited part of life that's pretty much a pleasant memory now. She's simply my perfect partner, and we are partners in every way. We have each other's backs all the time.

How I was so lucky to find her is something I wonder at. I just set out with determination when Joyce died of cancer, and in less than six months, it all happened. Of course, I didn't set out to find a "christian" woman. That would have been a disaster! I went into square dancing again, and she just happened to do the same at about the same time and for the same reason -- she wanted a partner to share her life with.

One tip I can give to any free thinking person is to seek a mate through secular, non-religious outlets. I'd run from any woman who was spouting so-called spiritual crap or going to church all the time. In fact, I dumped one woman back in the seventies when I took her out to dinner and she made a show of bowing her head to say grace. I still hadn't totally departed from religion, but I knew that here was someone totally incompatible with me.

That's it for this morning. Our free thinkers planning group meets here in Cottonwood at noon and I have to get ready.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

THE BLAME GAME

(From Facebook.)

We humans seem to be addicted to what I call "the blame game." While I was getting dressed for this day, my mind somehow took me back to an incident that happened years ago.

My son, Gene, and I were changing out a water pump on his truck. We were at the stage of bolting it on and Gene was tightening up the bolts. I was about to say, "I think that's tight enough" when I heard the dreaded pop of an overtorqued bolt. Gene was left holding the remains and turned to me and indignantly said, "Why didn't you stop me?"

My first instinct was anger at being blamed for his ignorant mistake, but then, the irony hit and I burst out laughing. After taking the pump back off, I noticed a little piece of the bolt protruding, got my needlenose pliers and carefully backed it out to where I could get my fingers on it and spin it out. There was a perfect substitute in my extensive bolt collection, so the problem was soon solved.

So it is with most human problems. Instead of calmly and cooperatively going about seeking a solution, people want to play the blame game and often, nothing gets done. I'll let you run with that. I have more important things to get on with.

REALLY, NOW?

Let's see now. Radical theists claim the human race has existed somewhere around six to ten thousand years. Of course, science knocks that bullshit into the proverbial cocked hat.

But, let's just go with that 6,000 years nonsense for a moment. Even if that were true, for Christianity to be true, we have to assume "god" didn't give a damn about all those humans who existed for about 4000 years before he got his lazy, indifferent ass around to arranging for that marvelous human sacrifice that finally brought salvation to lost humanity. According to the myth, he even got so mad at them along in the middle that he drowned all but eight of them and sent them to hell in one fell swoop.

I guess he finally got tired of sending everybody to hell and decided to finally offer a way out to a pitiful portion of all those millions who have perished in most of the world since about 33 AD.

What a miserable excuse of a god we unthinking hairless apes manage to conjure up in our pitiful imaginations. Terms like omnipotent and omniscient become laughably ludicrous when you take time to rationally think about it.

C'mon now, do you still seriously believe all that bullshit?