God bias

I don’t think I’ve ever held the belief in supernatural events, such as deities, as confirmation bias. I mean, of course I’ve discussed it like it was, but I never think to myself, “oh, this is just them wanting to believe so and so”.

I know why: it is a pessimistic view of humans. I counter with my bias, that humans couldn’t possibly need to serve space people who control the minutiae of reality. Maybe it is psychosis brought on from the stress of seeking shelter from the elements or the balanced caloric intake that allows civilization to grow. Anything but the simple matter of humans are kinda stupid.

This is an oversimplification of course. Humans are wired for problem solving, but we are also wired for social interactions, and that is a cocktail capable of creating some profound problems that can’t be solved easily. It isn’t that God can solve our problems, God is a problem to be solved. And despite humans being creatures of habit, our curiosity means that exposure to the aggregate of ideas from around the world can deconstruct tradition, allowing some folks to solve their God problem.

So there’s that. ^_^


Tonight Stephen Colbert “baptized” all dead Mormons to Judaism, via “circumcizing” a hot dog. That is funny.

It was in response to the Mormon practice of using their hot tub time-machine to baptize deceased Jews. That is… a thing that happens.

Maybe it is the horrific world history of organized religion suppressing human expression and needs. Perhaps it is the latest onslaught of self-titled religious experts seeking leadership in our secular government. I am sure it is involved with the rhetoric surrounding insurance plans and sexually immature men (I am not calling them names; clerics are almost by definition sexually immature, see the section Religious Decree on Sexual Behavior) deciding women’s health issues, rather than actual experts and, you know, women.

I am done with superstition. I believe that religion is a form of human expression, and should therefore be protected. This isn’t about that. It is about one group of people taking their superstitions and trying to shutdown science and secular rights.

We do not derive our rights from god (god isn’t a real thing). We derive our rights from an ongoing discourse that self-perpetuates through education and hopefully individual consent. It is not perfect. In fact, its main weakness is that it lets people with ridiculous ideas reach a national audience. It is a hole that we can’t plug up, because the stakes are too high. We need to let the people who have unhealthy views of reality enjoy the same free speech we do.

That is why I am lifting my personal media blackout on religion. I have a whole lot of tolerance for expression. But I won’t stand by while people use their expression to hurt others. I am adding my voice to the “side” of reason, also known as people with reason.

I recommend you do the same. ^_^

The church year

I wanted to know more about Advent calendars, and when learning about the Advent, I found out about the liturgical year, or church year (which I am sure I know how to pronounce.

Besides reinforcing my belief that religions are made up by science fiction/fantasy writers, reading up on these things made me realize that religion can be really useful in reflecting on one’s life. I know, duh, right? That is obvious to anyone who has spent any amount of time in a meditative mood.

It is just that religion never seems to sell itself on that. We can all think about different religions and use the same words to describe them positively: beautiful, wonderful, loving. But we don’t hear about that when it comes up in the news. We hear that gay marriage is something forbidden by God, because saying that you should “love your neighbor, but following these guidelines” sounds stupid. We completely glaze over the fact that Islam does not equal terrorist dogma, because it if difficult to look at Islamic documents and not see the blueprints of community building.

This is a separate point here, but I am not really sure why so much is reported on the news about religion in the first place. We are not a Christian nation, but definition. You can not be born a Christian, nor can you be coerced into accepting a savior. Such talk covers up obvious insecurities in an individual’s faith.

That brings me to my main point, churches aren’t owning their images, they are letting mild fanatics complain about fringe fanatics. We talk about shame and guilt, coercion to be “good”, while pointing how “they” are “bad”. Where is the sermon that connects everyday activities to contemplation of God and the cosmos? Why aren’t they leveraging social networks (both digital and people) to show the actual non-violent and compassionate lessons that they espouse?

Time is of particular importance to monotheistic religions, especially the ones with prophets and saviors. Their time lines have beginnings and endings, with major events happening in between. That they have detailed and complex calendars to remind and reflect on these important events is no surprise. In fact, the surprise comes in that it is basically hidden. They aren’t guarded secrets, but they are also not advertised.

One way of looking at this is that the liturgical year is a cultural product. Share it! Let’s wrestle the dialog away from the people who try to control culture, and show that religion, and even religious holidays, are of importance beyond creating controversy and stimulating the economy.

Also, if another person asks me if I am a holiday person I will politely ignore them, while I mentally slap them.

Latter Day Saint movement

I believe in some crazy stuff. Stuff I won’t share with people unless I am sure that they both likely to believe it as well, and will keep it to themselves. You know, stuff like the nature of reality, and the afterlife. I think most people have some things that they believe that they share with their tribe, and it is all great. With that in mind, I can’t ever really criticize a person’s or group’s beliefs… and then there is the Latter Day Saint movement.

Now hear me out! I am not advocating that they are any more bat-shit crazy than the next group. I am actually quite fascinated with the movement as a whole, and then specifically a few of the sects that have become in/famous over the last century. I mean, if you were to just look at the highlights… founder of the movement murdered by a mob, constant struggle to find a “home”, a war, their own brand of even crazier fundamentalists, car bombings… the list goes on, and that isn’t even getting to their beliefs, yet!

All that aside, the beliefs are actually what I wanted to get to, as well as providing some commentary on secretive religions.

The documents that constitute the religious canon for many of the sects read like the corniest fantasy novels, written by the offspring of a DC comic-book writer. But a lot of religions have those. I mean, the sacrifice story is kinda cool, which makes Jesus, and all the other figures he represents pretty bad-ass. Not many people would willingly be tortured and die for the sins of humankind, I suppose… actually, it really depends on fore-knowledge and all that, but I digress, very cool story. And then you can look back to even older mythologies, Hercules, that guy was cool (according to the TV show). The Valkyrie? Tingles!

We have all this great literature from the ancient world, and some people choose to believe in some form of it. Whatever. I think it is because most people who subscribe to a religion don’t know much about it, say compared to those who have left their religious organization or have an interest in such things (though apparently not Latter Day Saints; they are well read). I will get to that later, but my point here is that we have this huge body of work from ancient times where people had excruciatingly limited access to the methods of scientific deduction that we have today.

Joseph Smith, Jr. met an angel, translated Reformed Egyptian from mystical golden plates, and told people that God used to be just this guy, you know, and that we can all get into the celestial ponzi/pyramid scheme by marrying lots of ladies (sorry ladies, you have less say in this), and then we are all chilling in a galaxy far, far away. In the 19th century. In the United States of America. And people ate it up!

Again, I want to reiterate, I am no judge of religious truth. But damn, that is crazy! How much? Even Junior thought so.

I don’t blame anyone for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I could not have believed it myself.

Well, yeah.

But that is not-quite-so-ancient history. It happened over a hundred years ago. I can let that slide. However, I can’t let the secrecy and cult behavior go, and that is all modern.

If you look at the Church of Christ, you will see that there are two large demographics in their world view, members and non-members. I am calling upon personal experience here, but I think that is worth a lot, because it has been validated by others’ from both of those groups. I am obviously a non-member, so there is a lot about that church that I don’t know, things that happen during temple services and whatever other secrets they keep to themselves. That is bad. That is a sign of a cult. It is also hard to believe that this level of secrecy is passed down by God, given that whatever entity God is, they are probably beyond the control-freak phase of cosmic life (or maybe we never outgrow that).

Let’s bring this together. It isn’t like the Church of Christ is particularly more secretive than any other religious group (and their fundamentalists have their own cults going, as well). Catholics have set the bar for politicizing “faith” and running puppet states, while protecting their clergy. Unfortunately, I am not very educated on how Islam groups are organized, but it is a human organization, no matter how divinely-inspired, so like all of these groups, surely they have some traditions that elicit, if not actively encourages, separation between “us” and “them”.

So why am I focusing on Latter Day Saints? Because they take all the trappings of the old world religions, and encapsulate it around Harry Potter and Tron. And it bums me out.

When I was active in a Wiccan community, I often bumped heads with the leadership. Of course I would, I do that. However, after having been away for a while, and reconciling my actions back then, I still have major disagreements with how sects of Wicca operate. There are vows and secret codes, some of which are explained. Even when they are, they don’t make sense to me, and despite how much I disagree with them, until I have made more effort to discuss this within that community, I won’t even describe the explanations (see how ridiculous my beliefs can be ^_^).

Wicca is also a very, very, very very very new religion. It draws on everything we have learned from the past, but Wicca in your living room is completely different from sympathetic magic practiced by peasants, indigenous folks and women. We’ve never hunted witches, we hunted the already exploited. That is why I give Wicca a pass. For one, it a counter-cultural reaction to mainstream faith, which is important to remember, since it still touches on our human needs to belong in a community with like-minded individuals, many of whom are looking for spiritual meaning. And secondly, there are movements within Wicca to open it up, some of which tickle me in particular ways.

The reason I can write so much about this subject is because I really like the Latter Day Saint movement. I think it is as interesting as it is hilarious. I wish they were more relaxed, but no doubt they suffer from the human condition in which it is easier to see differences than similarities, and I am very different from them. I want to know more about their inner workings.

I also want every religion in the world to make a concerted effort to have their congregations critically think about their religion. I think your deity can stand up to that, but I doubt your religious “leaders” can.