Durango Skeptics and Atheists

A Community for Critical Thinkers in the Four Corners Region

Category: Uncategorized (Page 2 of 6)

About Those Amber Teething Necklaces..

A little blog post I wrote a couple of years back on amber necklaces as a solution for teething relief in babies and toddlers. I wrote this after noticing many babies wearing stylish amber necklaces around town. Investigation enused……

 

A Word About Amber Teething Necklaces….

 

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Action Items, Post Election- What You Can Do

As promised, here are some action items  we can take to get active, get more involved and to help us, hopefully, feel a  little less powerless. Please feel free to send me updates or other links, newspapers, organizations, etc.

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Interview with Bart Erhman RE: the source of the Gospels

I ran across this brief interview with Bart Erhman and I thought it might interest the group.

An Interview With Author Bart D. Ehrman

Q: What is it that drives your fascination with how Jesus has been “remembered” and “misremembered”?

A: When most people today read the Gospels of the New Testament, they nearly always assume that these accounts were written soon after Jesus’ death by people who knew him and his disciples: these are transcripts of the things Jesus said and did, down to the minute detail. What people tend not to realize is that these accounts were written 40–60 years after Jesus had died, by people who did not know him, who did not live in his same country, who did not speak his same language.

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Reflections on the Recent Member Talk Regarding Global Climate Change (GCC)

We owe Sebastian and Jackie a big ‘thank you’ for their presentation last Thursday night. The turnout was impressive and the food was great, as usual. And it was a pleasure to meet the new members to our group: Clint and Susan, Barry and Roz, and Nate who just moved to Durango within the month! The discussion following Sebastian’s remarks was very engrossing, as members offered many different observations. As usual, members of the Skeptics and Atheists of Durango displayed a wide range of opinion!

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Alcohol as a social convention…

Alcohol and social conventions…

So many rules in society are unwritten. What we say, how we say it, who we talk to. In this particular case have you noticed how your ideas of normality, that is what is accepted, change when you have a drink in your hand? Not just for you but your view of others that have a drink in their hand as well. Sadly this first change happens before we even take a drink, just the actual possession of alcohol and we are instantly empowered, emboldened to step outside our normal boundaries. That is a very sad idea. It is truly a shame that we can’t just step outside our normal boundaries without having a justification for it. It is a step above worrying about the opinions of others, it almost borders on permission that we need to cross that boundary. We all have ideas that don’t fit the norm, that aren’t socially acceptable, that could be completely scandalous. Is it really wrong to share these ideas (Yes I realize it depends on the idea)? The force that restricts the sharing of these ideas often only serves to increase their frequency in our mind. By forcing these thoughts out of our sharable sphere they often only serve to slowly propagate the ideas in the unconscious mind; eventually they can overtake your conscious thoughts. Subconsciously our brain realizes this fact and as humans we will often seek out circumstances that allow us to share these thoughts without repercussions. I am sure we have all seen the normally shy, quiet person in a bar “light up” and seem to never stop talking after a few drinks. This isn’t the “alcohol talking” as we would often describe it but it is a change in the social circumstances that allows that person to share more of their mind. This “release” is fun to watch, there are so many pent up ideas in most of us, that when they finally get the chance to come out, it is as if a flood gate has been released. Days, weeks, sometimes years of pent up emotions, ideas, and dark corners of their mind are released, validated. In this release many find that allowing these thoughts out of their corners can free them from occupying their minds. Obviously there are limits on these thoughts and no matter how much liquid freedom is flowing there are things that should not be discussed (I will leave these to your own regional mental guidelines).

Does this idea bother you? Do you not believe in this social convention? Do you feel this is just a strange misconception that I am overthinking? It isn’t hard to test this hypothesis. Next time you go to a bar just order a few drinks that don’t have alcohol and stand back and watch, offer to be a designated driver and just sit back and listen. There isn’t much better than listening to a human mind on a stream of consciousness tirade. We all want to be closer; we all crave an environment where we can share our ideas freely without retribution. Hopefully we find this in our friends, our family and most especially our spouses. For others it gets restricted to a time when the environment is chemically altered to allow such expression. How wonderful would it be if we all found opportunities to express our deepest thoughts in a way that didn’t require such “encouragement”…

 

P.S. please don’t think i am advocating excessive alcohol use/abuse, I am only asking that we look at some of the underlying issues in it’s use.

Links For Monthly Meeting- January 2015

Thanks to all who made it out to our monthly meeting last Wednesday. What a lively discussion!

Here are some links I thought relevant to the discussions that night:

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

Here is a link discussing the Pew Research Center survey titled “The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society 

I believe the above survey was mentioned during our Charlie Hebdo discussion.

If there are any other links you would like to share, please feel free to post them in comments section.

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“Knowing that one may be subject to bias is one thing; being able to correct it is another.”

Jon Elster— Explaining Social Behavior: More Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences, p. 7, 2007

Let’s Be Reasonable

Atheists are reasonable people.  I mean that literally: we try to employ Reason when we make decisions, especially about something as central to our beings as our personal World View.  Reasoned decisions require valid evidence because belief, absent evidence, is just a Wish.  Evidence is the key.  As a rational man, I would be the first to drop to my knees if God Almighty manifested His existence to us in a rational, unambiguous manner.  (None of this ‘God is in the beauty of a sunset’ crap).  No, I am talking about clear demonstration of undisputed Godly Power.  Something like restoring limbs to amputees, rescuing Steven Hawking from his wheelchair, rolling back a raging Tsunami so that the Innocent might survive, intervening when Boko Haram massacres thousands of people in His name, etc..  And, no, I will not accept that rescuing a single child while killing everyone else in a plane crash constitutes a ‘miracle’ or proof of God’s infinite Goodness.

And please don’t bring up Free Will.  I will also not tolerant of the usual ‘free will’ argument: innocents don’t choose to be victims of evils such as gun violence, natural disasters or illness.  In this world, innocents are obviously not protected whether they ‘believe on the Lord’ or not.  As it stands, if Person A decides to be Evil, it is usually Person B who unwillingly suffers the consequences.   If God is waiting for every, single, individual on Earth to accept Jesus as the Christ before He finally makes a move to end Evil, we are truly screwed.

This is what seems reasonable to me: If God wanted us to follow Him, He wouldn’t play hide and seek.  He’d satisfy our rational minds (which were supposed to be created by Him) by communicating the same, unifying, message clearly and intelligibly to every one of the 8,000,000,000+ people presently crowding His creation.  Each person could then make an informed decision about what Life Path to follow.  But instead He is absent and silent.  There is no sign of God in the real world…Earth looks exactly like you would expect if there was no God at all.  Each individual is left to struggle in isolation leading to conflicts of ideology and religious war.  In our world, Good People suffer equally with Bad People.  Disease, crime, illness affect us all – Believers and Non-Believers alike.

To say that humans are responsible for the abysmal conditions of this existence was simply a way for the rulers in antiquity to keep the ignorant masses on their knees, groveling for forgiveness for their imagined sins.  It worked in an age when superstition was all humans had to combat disease and natural disasters…but it won’t work in the modern age.  The evidence for God’s existence is, itself, non-existent.  And belief in something that has no basis in fact – no evidence – is unreasonable.

 

A World Without Gods

So much death in the news these days. My heart aches for those families who lost people they love in this latest round of Boko Haram killings in Baga. Boko Haram’s goal? To establish an Islamic State in Nigeria. I can’t help but wonder how people can believe in an all-powerful and influential God amidst the atrocities we see in the world around us.  If you  are a believer, isn’t everything that happens supposed to be part of God’s perfect plan?

I’m reminded of words from Voltaire’s Candide:

“If this is the best of all possible worlds, what are the others?”

If this is what a God-created and supervised world looks like, then what would a world not managed by a supposedly all-loving and all-powerful God look like? What would you expect to observe in such a world? Clearly, if there’s a god looking out for us, he’s pretty inept at his job.

Some  may bring up the fact that according to Christian theology, this is a fallen world and therefore, evil exists. But what of diseases that target the weakest- children and the elderly? Why would this god create such a creature as a virus or a bacterium that inflicts suffering on the innocent? This is exactly what one would expect to see in a world that was not created and supervised by a benevolent god. It’s difficult to rationalize the existence of a god amid a sea of suffering. Suffering we hear about every day, if you are one that happens to check out the news.

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I read an article recently that I think states the problem and solution succinctly:

“But it has often been said, if we don’t play God, then who will? Such was the central takeaway of the European Enlightenment and the rise of secular humanism. Working under the assumption that God does not exist (or at the very least, does not intervene in our affairs), a popular opinion emerged stating that humanity has an obligation to take matters into its own hands if it is to truly understand the world and make it a better place. And by applying reason and the scientific method, humanity stands a much better chance of success than idly waiting for a supernatural force that doesn’t appear to exist or care one whit about us.”

Human progress will march on. And with it, hopefully, will come less and less need for religion. Sure, humans will always find justification for doing bad things. But we will always find justification for doing good things as well. We don’t need religion for that either. As former Seventh-day Adventist pastor, Ryan Bell, who now considers himself an atheist put it: “Why do I need religion to love?”

You don’t.

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“When it was over, the crowd shouted, “Allah-hu Akbar! Allah-hu Akbar!”

“A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY IS BETTER THAN…”

“A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY IS BETTER…”

Our beaming nine-year old son delivered his insight during a family discussion at the dinner table: “A false sense of security is better than no sense of security at all!”  There was a moment of silence as we all considered the proposal he was floating.  My first impulse was to agree.  After all, it’s good to feel secure, isn’t it?  But soon our ‘parent-mode’ kicked in and we began to pick apart his thesis.  In short order, we listed some of the ways that a false sense of security can lead to disaster.

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