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08.28.2009 – My New 10 Commandments

August 28, 2009 2 comments

I am currently about half-way through reading Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion (yes, i know…what the hell took me so long?!?!?). It is truly VERY well written and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

I’ve just recently gone through his section that talked about a ’10 commandements’ more suited for our modern society. Since, obviously, the biblical ones are not only VERY outdated, but also, not all encompassing and really rather narcissistic from ‘god’s’ perspective.

Anyway, I wanted to post the new list of 10 commandments (based on the list that Dawkins provides in the book) because I think they are really are more applicable to modern life. Here is the list, along with some of my own commentary in parentheses where applicable…

First Commandment: Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you. (Ah yes…the golden rule. Applicable, I think through ALL ages)

Second Commandment: In all things, strive to cause no harm.

Third Commandment: Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect. (A worthy, albeit challenging, goal)

Fourth Commandment: Do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted. (this has an ‘eastern philosophy feel to it that I really like)

Fifth Commandment: Live life with a sense of joy and wonder. (this is a big one for me. I think when I was young, I HAD this sense of wonder. This amazement with the world and the universe. Though the years of my fundamentalism, a lot of that was taken away and lost. Now that I’ve shed that oppression, I can feel some of the sense of joy and wonder coming back, and it really has been awesome)

Sixth Commandment: Always seek to be learning something new. (yep…a daily pursuit for me)

Seventh Commandment: Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.

Eighth Commandment: Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you. (another challenging rule for me personally. It’s hard, but getting easier, to take the mentality that other people are allowed to have opposing viewpoints. I guess it just comes down to the fact that I’ve always been passionate about my beliefs (that damn fundamentalism!).

Ninth Commandment: Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience; do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others.

Tenth Commandment: Question everything. (and then question it again!)

-eoe-

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08.25.2009 – Where are Jesus’ Writings?

A thought hit me today: Where are the actual writings of Jesus? I might be wrong, but I’m pretty certain that there is nothing in scripture or any other source that is identified as being written by Jesus himself. This seems odd to  me. Everything we have about the life of Jesus is from 2nd hand sources (or 3rd hand, 4th hand, and beyond). Not to mention that the bulk of the New Testament is attributed to Paul who never even met the man himself.

I would venture that ALL of the scholars that we hold in high standards throughout history have written their ideas down. Most often times they have written MANY volumes. It would seem to me that Jesus being the amazing teacher that he was proposed to be, should have or would have done the same.

So where are they?

Obviously, people were writing in those times and before. We have the manuscripts to prove it. Old testament scriptures among them.

I’m thinking that their apparent non-existence, might also be another bit of evidence (or lack thereof) for the non-existence of Jesus. I am going to research this a bit more, but wanted to pose the question here so I can keep track of it.

Where are those writings?!?!?!

-eoe-

08.13.2009 – Critical Thinking Update

August 13, 2009 1 comment

Well, I figured it was about time to just post an update as to the state of things in my own head. Kind of a ‘milestone’ marker for me to look back on and see how far I’ve come and how far there is left to go.

I’ve looked back recently on some of my earlier posts and just had to have a bit of a chuckle at some of the thoughts. When I first started this whole ‘Pursuit of Truth’ thing that I find myself on now, I obviously got sucked into a whole lot of conspiracy theory type BS initially. Ideas that the whole world was organized to destroy everyone in it except for an elite few. Or, if nothing else, enslave us all. The ‘New World Order’ bullshit if you will.

I now know how silly that all is. While I’m sure there is some level of secretive stuff going on in the world, I no longer believe that there is a global organized effort to bring on tyranny and keep all of us as peasants or slaves. The information that I found myself believing was based on blind assertions, non-sequiturs, and slipery slopes that had no real evidence to back it up.

I’m really starting to be proud of myself in the way that I am able to critically assess topics now and get to the root questions of their validity. Obviously, there’s always skills be to learned. There will always be practice needed, and I’m certain that at some point I’ll find myself believing something that didn’t really have all the evidence to support it. Hopefully, though, I now have the tools to recognize it and be able to re-think accordingly.

Most of my progress has come as the result of the various outlets that I’ve been reading and watching lately. The biggest help to me was reading Carl Sagan’s Demon Haunted World. His ‘Baloney Detection Kit’ seems to be the single most effective set of tools for getting to the crux of most claims and assertions. I hope to be able to apply more and more of these tools to my thinking arsenal for future use.

The other huge help to me has been listening to the podcasts from Point of Inquiry (http://www.pointofinquiry.org). There doesn’t seem to be ANY topic of human interest that they haven’t discussed with the leading thinkers of our times. It’s been an amazing journey to go through all of the archives and listen to the discussions. Hearing HOW these amazing minds dissect topics and tear them down to their bases is very impressive and very helpful.

Also, the Atheist Experience TV show (www.atheist-experience.com) and the Non-Phophets (http://www.nonprophetsradio.com) are two shows that I really love. I look forward to each week of hearing what they will be discussing.

Anyway, that’s kind of where I’m at right now. I’m FINALLY reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (way overdue), and thoroughly enjoying it. I believe this may give me the confidence to no longer feel like I have to hide my atheism and stand by silently while the religious majority tries to force feed their beliefs to the non-believers.

-eoe-

08.06.2009 – Ireland helping to bring back the Dark Ages with new Blasphemy Law

For anyone who is a supporter of free speach, this move should scare the hell out of you. For all our progress over the centuries in moving towards a free society where people can express themselves verbally without fear of reprisal, this move by Ireland is a HUGE step backwards. I can’t imagine the thought process of these leaders. They’ve approved law enforcement to be able to raid peoples homes in search of published items that violate this law.

What’s next? Book burnings? or worse…Witch Burnings?!?!?

Give me a break. This is truly sad.

here’s a link to the ABC news commentary on the topic…

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/WhosCounting/story?id=8222603&page=1

-eoe-

08.05.2009 – A Man Goes on Shooting Spree at Local Gym

Last night around 8:15 pm a man walked into a local LA Fitness center and started shooting. When the dust settled, 3 women are dead, the shooter is dead, and over a dozen are injured in various degrees.

My step-father happened to be at a store in the same strip mall as the shootings occurred. Obviously, we were worried about him, but in the end he was fine.

It has come out that the perpetrator was a 48 year old, single white male who, as it turns out, was rejected by women throughout his entire life. He was an, obviously, deeply disturbed individual as attested to in his person blog…

http://www.wpxi.com/news/20289819/detail.html (his website was taken down, so this is a link to the transcript of the blog) (8.6.2009- it seems his website is back up…my guess is it crashed from excessive traffic. here’s the direct link, if it doesn’t work, then the one above should… http://georgesodini.com/20090804.htm)

I read this whole thing this morning. While it certainly angers me, it also deeply saddens me and makes me wonder how an entire society could reject a man so entirely as to drive him to this kind of act. It just doesn’t seem right. Obviously, it seems that the man didn’t take the steps that he should have to get help and fix the problems in his own brain, but I could imagine that a mentally sick person may not be able to identify that what they are doing is wrong. It’s all very deep and hard to wrap my head around.

I guess I just need to write about this and try to make some sense of it (even though there is probably no way to ever make sense of such an awful thing). It’s just deeply sad and deeply disturbing.

My heart and thoughts go out to all the families and friends of the victims. And maybe through reading the thoughts of this man, we might make steps towards being able identify the warning signs, and possibly be able to head off events like this in the future. I’m sure that in a world of over 6 billion people, we are probably never going to be able to completely eradicate this type of thing, but if we can stop ONE as a result, that to me, is a step in the right direction.

 

-eoe-