hobbit-humanist

Humanism, atheism, some politics and lots of common sense.

Archive for the category “Quotes”

Culture of Denial

Generally I’m not very sport orientated. I’ve watched several world cup games this year and I’ve enjoyed previous world cups and European events, on occasion I’ll also go and watch a local team play and can happily sit and watch a few other sports if I’m in the mood.
Most of you have probably seen Uruguay’s Luis Suarez bite the Italian player Giorgio Chiellini on the news followed by the complete denial by Suarez and the Uruguay’s team and manager. Fifa followed up the incident with a lengthy ban on Suarez. Today Chiellini after initially saying Fifa should use all available evidence to investigate the matter says he thinks the ban is excessive, in fact the famous Argentine player Diego Maradona has also got in on the act defending him on television, which I find ironic given his past sporting antics.
The reality is for everyone to see is that Suarez is guilty of biting Chiellini, it’s undeniable yet its denied. This is what bothers me about society today. We see and hear things, see actual evidence yet time and time again we see complete denial despite the facts. The Catholic church is a prime example of recent times, though its now admitting abuse has taken place globally its also denying it when it feels it can get away with it, the psychology of continued denial is one that revolves around people forgetting (hopefully) or giving up (but not forgetting in the victims case).
Whilst I think forgiveness is admirable I think people need to be made accountable for their actions. I could add even more so if they are public figures or in positions of responsibility but I feel everyone needs to be responsible for their own actions.
Every day when I peruse websites I see pastors or priests and yes normal people too using god as an excuse in many cases often denying directly their own actions. God is the great excuse, an alibi, a greater power than reality and the only one that can judge them. Its disturbing how many people use god as an excuse and justification. God has been used in war quotations, ‘Gods will’ readily cropping up. He’s used by murderers to defend their actions (remember Dena Schlosser?), citing they’ve been divinely inspired or commanded. I’m going to give god a break here and say its not his fault at all (not that I think he exists! :-p ), the fault lies firmly with people who can happily live with the denial of their own actions but not the consequences.
The world would be a better place if we learned to deal with reality more readily than we deal out denial.

Is God Dead?

Friedrich Nietzsche mentioned God being dead in his book The Gay Science saying;
“The greatest recent event-that god is dead, that belief in the Christian god has become unbelievable.”
He gets more specific later in The Anti-Christ published in 1888 when he elaborates that the Christian god (of his day we can presume) has become the most corrupt conception of god on earth. This doesn’t really surprise me, back in that particular era philosophy in Europe was gaining new ground and science and industry were booming across the world. Mankind had reached a time where it could literally ask the question “is god dead?”.
In this day and age I guess we are more likely to say “God doesn’t even exist”.
As an Atheist/Humanist the case for God(s) is simple, they are fabrications of the human mind. The fact there are so many gods signifies this even more so. God is the universal explanation for the unexplained (even though much is explained nowadays) and God is also the universal get out clause, excuse, justification or means to an end.
God isn’t dead. A fiction cannot die, illusions can never pass away, folk tales can never refute themselves. You cannot kill a breeze, a fragrance or a dream. God created by mortals in their own image existed to make a hard life more bearable despite the fact we all tread the same path towards death. That’s the clincher though isn’t it? As long as we have this dread upon us, this vulnerable mortality then humans unable to accept this will concoct gods, stories and illusions.
We cannot assassinate gods as some philosophers would like because you cannot assassinate an illusion, though the illusion can kill us because gods and like to stop anything that stands up to them, reason and intelligence being at the top of their agendas.
I suspect the last god will die with the last man and with the last god finally gone then all the terrors, anguish and fears of the world will die too.

Created

The English philosopher and economist John Stuart Mill once said;
“A being who can create a men devoid of real freedom and inevitably foredoomed to be sinners, and then punish them for being what he has made them, may be omnipotent and various other things, but he is not what the English language has always intended by the adjective holy.”
The German philosopher and champion of pessimism Arthur Schopenhauer along similar lines says;
“That a god like Jehovah should have created this world of misery and woe, out of pure caprice, and because he enjoyed doing it, and should then have clapped his hands in praise of his own work and declared everything to be very good – that will not do at all!”
You have to muse on the motives of god really don’t you? I mean he can’t even get the weather right without killing people in hurricanes, floods and earthquakes these days. The god of the old testament of course wasn’t averse flooding (for 150 days) what he’d created, he indulged in genocide and pestilence too.
So the lord sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men. (Samuel 24:15).
But really for me, this last quote says it all from the Greek philosopher Epicurus who asks;
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

Cruel World

I must confess that the last few days have been difficult. At the weekend two people in the town where I lived lost their lives to an explosion which wrecked their house (and those adjoining too), the cause is yet to be identified. Added to that my dad isn’t in the best of health lately and its causing some concern. For me personally though, my body blow came on Tuesday. I saw an eye specialist/surgeon who basically told me I probably will lose my eyesight prematurely because of a problem that cannot be resolved by surgery, in fact in some respects its just a matter of time. Travelling back home on the train I felt detached and numb, the current problems I’m having with my sight made me even more conscious of matters and it made me realise how truly vulnerable we are in this world. I think in the past I’ve relied on surgeons and medical help but the truth of the matter is they cannot cure everything. The news took some getting to grips with but will not deter me from living life to the full, though I face a problem, as the great Carthaginian general Hannibal once said “I will either find a way or make one”, and that’s how I view the current obstacle in front of me.
Then yesterday came those dreadful events yesterday in London in which a soldier lost his life to extremists, that alone made me realise how lucky I still am. Today David Cameron made a statement saying this had nothing to do with Islam despite the fact the killers had shouted “Allah Akbar” when decapitating the unfortunate soldier who they’d ran over in a cowardly fashion before doing so. The scenes on the news were shocking. It turns out one of the killers was a Christian before converting to Islam. A fleeting thought passed through my mind that you don’t see Christians killing people in this fashion but then images of Charles Manson, David Koresh and Dena Schlosser filled my head (among others).
Many cultures are underpinned by religion and when you have a multicultural society then religious views only serve to increase friction which ignites as they clash. Take away religion from multiculturalism and you’d not have nothing near the same problems. The prime minister obviously chose his words carefully on the news and so did various Muslim leaders on different news platforms because quite rationally nobody wants to incite more trouble but as we know violence breeds more violence especially if fuelled by racial or religious hatred. More bizarrely today the BBC published an article which said immigration was down, was this purely coincidental among current tensions?
Politicians and religious leaders chose their words carefully because words are power tools, whilst they tried to swerve away from Islam the blunt truth is the killers would have been inspired by words from the Koran that encourage violence, here’s some quotes of Muhammad;
“Slay the idolators wherever ye find them”
“Fight those who believe not in Allah… nor acknowledge the religion of truth”
“Smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger tips off them”
“O prophet exhort the believers to fight”
The thing is, people still believe this stuff and similar rubbish in the bible and its time we grew up mentally and consigned religion to history. As for the greater Muslim community here, I know most of you are peaceful and yesterdays tragic events aren’t representative of all but I think your religion is backward and repressive. If we look at its sources its basically borrowed much from Christianity and added other bits, Muhammad’s main goal seems to have been conquest and conversion whilst he was alive and of course that continued after and is still continuing. That said, Muslim fundamentalists and Christian ones, they are all the same – aggressive.
Getting back to the title and point of the thread though, the reality is life is often very cruel, just take the recent Oklahoma tornado for instance, would any Christian like to try and justify that to me in a God sense? Many of us shy away from the reality and cruelty of life because it disturbs us but sooner or later reality comes knocking. nature and life are cruel at times and nothing sums it up better than this Gary Numan quote I found the other day;
“If nature is proof of God’s amazing creation then I have truly seen the light, and the light is black. Nature is genius at its most cruel and savage. No benevolent God could have come up with such an outrage.”
When you constantly see outrages, disasters and murders or experience the harsher reality of life yourself then it’s not hard to see how transparent, impotent and fictional gods really are …

Proof !

It will soon be time for the local beer festival and each year they put out beer mats (or coasters as I think they are called over the pond) in pubs/bars a couple of weeks before the event. This years made me smile though being a sceptic I’m not quite convinced! Maybe I ought to post some through the letter box of the local Jehovah’s Witnesses!

Beer Fest

 

Reprehensible

One of my pet hates as an atheist (besides dogs, I really don’t like dogs!) is the indoctrination of young children into the Abrahamic faiths. Children up until the age of seven have minds that are basically sponges and soak everything up, like animals they go through a period of imprinting.
Parents that are serious about their faith like to begin brainwashing their children early and for reasons such as imparting their belief system on a child and of course using certain elements of religion as behavioural leverage. If challenged on this the parents usually react with its our child we do as we wish regardless of the fact the child is its own independent person/mind. Most religions of course seek to do away with independent reasoning early and rationality is replaced by dogmatic doctrine and submission.
Thankfully not all succumb, as children see past the myth that is Santa Claus in due time many see through the illusory nature of religion or at least question it.
Margaret Knight one of the most famous British atheist/humanists of the last century had this to say on the subject of religion and children;
If [a child] is normally intelligent, he is almost bound to get the impression that there is something odd about religious statements. If he is taken to church, for example, he hears that death is the gateway to eternal life, and should be welcomed rather than shunned; yet outside this he sees death regarded as the greatest of all evils, and everything possible is done to postpone it. The child soon gets the idea that there are two kinds of truth. The ordinary kind, and another rather confusing and slightly embarrassing kind, into which it is best not to inquire too closely. Now all this is bad intellectual training.
Religious parents, especially the more fundamental types like to get the ‘Sin’ word understood early but I think this Franz Kafka’s quote covers things nicely;
We are not sinful not merely because we have eaten of the tree of knowledge, but also because we have not eaten from the tree of life.
And of course religious dogma and indoctrination suppresses as much of life as it can. What doesn’t get embedded in the home will almost certainly try to be so in religious schools or mosques. As H.L. Mencken puts it;
Sunday school is a prison in which children do penance for the evil conscience of their parents.
Though I also quite like this quote by Victor Hugo;
There is in every village a torch: The schoolmaster – and an extinguisher: The Parson.
Sycophantic religious people will answer the above with something like its not just their will as a parent but its more importantly gods will for children to know about him, as Ruth Hermence Green puts it;
It’s possible to pull out justification for imposing your will on others, simply by calling your will God’s will.
And how often do we hear God or Allah’s will these days for justification? All the time. I want to draw on another very apt quote in closing from Green which says;
If the concept of a father who plots to have his own son put to death is presented to children as beautiful and as worthy of societies admiration, what types of human behaviour can be presented to them as reprehensible?

Penn Telling It

Penn of Penn and Teller fame telling it like it is !

Penn

Tomorrow

Tomorrow the Hobbit-Humanist is one year old, I suspect WordPress will want to see the colour of my money for another years blogging. During the last year I’ve racked up 115 entries, so basically something every 3-4 days on average, some months busier than others, that thing called ‘life’ often gets in the way!
As Einstein once said ‘Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is never stop questioning.’
I’ve not yet made a firm decision on whether to continue or not, though I think it’s probable. All I can say is it’s been an interesting year and I’ve enjoyed debating with fellow atheists and of course people of faith. There’s some really great blogs out there and lots of talent and I’ve enjoyed reading lots of different ones, the learning never stops! So a hearty thanks for everyone that’s contributed comments and opinions, I’m only a humble little fella with a half decent grasp of my native English but I really value being able to blog and convey my thoughts.

Oh Those Pesky Popes!

If you thought the current Pope Benedict XVI who resigned on the 11th of this month was a bit questionable on some things then lets take a trip through history and have a look at some previous ones.
Pope Stephen VI (896-897).
Something of a nasty piece of work. He exhumed the previous Pope Formusus and put his rotting corpse on trial in January of 897. The corpse was propped up on a throne and a deacon had to answer for him. His crimes? Performing the duties of a bishop when he wasn’t one, among other chargers. After being found guilty the cadaver of Formusus was stripped of all sacred vestments and buried in a grave garbed as a layman with three fingers of the right hand (the so called blessing fingers) being cut off. That wasn’t enough though, the body was dug up again and thrown into the river Tiber. The events caused concern within the ruling powers of the day and Stephen was imprisoned and strangled.
Pope Sergius III (897-911)
Sergius was only pope known to have ordered the murder of another pope and the only pope known to have fathered an illegitimate son who later became pope; his pontificate has been described as “dismal and disgraceful”. The pontificate of Sergius III was remarkable for the rise of what papal historians call a “pornocracy,” or rule of the harlots, a reversal of the natural order as they saw it. A mistress of his gave birth to the later Pope John XI.
Pope John XII (955-964)
If you thought Benedict IX was having all the fun you’d be wrong, enter John XII. On 963, Holy Roman Emperor Otto I summoned a council, levelling charges that John had ordained a deacon in a stable, consecrated a 10-year-old boy as bishop of Todi, converted the Lateran Palace into a brothel (that place again!), raped female pilgrims in St. Peter’s, stolen church offerings, drank toasts to the devil, and invoked the aid of Jove, Venus, and other pagan gods when playing dice. He was deposed, but returned as pope when Otto left Rome, maiming and mutilating all who had opposed him. On 964, he was apparently beaten by the husband of a woman with which he was having an affair, dying three days later without receiving confession or the sacraments.
Pope Boniface (974, 984-5)
Known as an anti-pope, he’s alleged to have put pope Benedict the VI to death. He evidently wasn’t popular and when things went wrong and there were uprisings against him he fled with vast amounts of treasure to Constantinople but came back later to depose pope John XIV. Boniface is said to have died under suspicious circumstances, no kidding?!
Pope John XV (985-996)
The Pope’s venality and nepotism had made him very unpopular with the citizens, as he split the church’s finances among his relatives and was described as “covetous of filthy lucre and corrupt in all his acts”.
Pope Benedict the IX (1032-1044 then again in 1045, then again in 1047-48)
There’s no doubting Benedict IX was a bit of a character and one of my personal favourites. the only man to have served as Pope for three discontinuous periods, and one of the most controversial Popes of all time. Benedict gave up his papacy for the first time in exchange for a large sum of money in 1044. He returned in 1045 to depose his replacement and reigned for one month. after which he left again, possibly to marry, and sold the papacy for a second time, to his Godfather (possibly for over 650 kg /1450 lb of gold). Two years later, Benedict retook Rome and reigned for an additional one year, until 1048. Poppo of Brixen (later to become Pope Damascus II) eventually forced him out of Rome. Benedict’s place and date of death are unknown. It’s said he knew very little theological stuff but didn’t care because he was well connected. He’s often quoted as being the first homosexual pope and had orgies in the Lateran palace. The Catholic Encyclopaedia calls him “a disgrace to the Chair of Peter”, I call him a party animal. There’s so much more I could say on this one but I suspect you get the idea!
Pope Innocent IV (1243-1254)
Innocent by name but don’t be fooled. Mr Inquisition himself ordered the papal bull ‘Ad Extirpanda’ which basically authorised torture to get so called heretics to confess. One of the most famous people being tortured by inquisitors was of course Galileo or said that the earth revolved around the sun (and was right of course). He also issued papal bulls against the Mongol’s and asked them to stop killing christians (though it was alright for christians to kill fellow christians and none christians), they weren’t impressed and sent a letter back telling him to shove it where the sun don’t shine.
Pope Urban XI (1378-1389)
He was the first Pope of the Western Schism (which ultimately lead to three people claiming the Papal throne at the same time). I guess everyone wanted in on the orgies, torture and murder then? Launched a program of violence against those he thought to have been conspiring against him, imprisoning people at will and mistreating them brutally. Later historians have considered seriously that he might have been insane. He is said to have complained he did not hear enough screaming when cardinals were being tortured.
Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503)
He is one of the most controversial of the Renaissance popes, and his Italianized surname Borgia became a byword for libertinism and nepotism. Pope Alexander’s claims to fame were taking over much of Italy by force with the help of his son Cesare (yes, his son), a racy relationship with his daughter Lucrezia (some say her son was his), and his affinity for throwing large parties, bordering on orgies, that usually culminated with little naked boys jumping out of large cakes.
Pope Leo X (1513 to 1521)
Known mainly for the sale of indulgences (an alleged guaranteed ticket to heaven etc) which the profits were used to rebuild St Peters basilica and to challenge the upstart Martin Luther, evidently you needed cash to thwart rivals back then, having god in your corner wasn’t enough. His decadence pissed people off and an assassination attempt was tried but failed. Leo was no idiot and had the conspirators poisoned.
Pope Paul IV (1555-59?)
Pronounced the Jews condemned to slavery by god, created the ghetto of Rome and is quoted as saying “If my own father were a heretic I would personally gather the wood to burn him.”
 Pope Pius XI (1922-1939)
 Personally blessed Italian planes that went to bomb Ethiopian villages during the 1935 war of imperial conquest. Is quoted to have said “Mussolini is a wonderful man. Do you hear me, a wonderful man!”. Oh dear.
Pope Pius XII (1939-1948)
A professional fence sitter during world war two. Roman Catholics in Poland felt betrayed by him when Germany invaded and he didn’t condemn the deaths of around 1,800,000–1,900,000 Poles. Followed a policy of neutrality though he had many dodgy friendships with German hierarchy and people like  Ante Pavelić. Ignored reports of the holocaust. Enough said. I wrote a blog on Pius XI & XII in more detail here).
And of course we have the outgoing one …. number 265th
Pope Benedict XVI (2005 – gone very soon)
Where do I start? Didn’t like cohabiting which he thought was “gravely sinful” and undermined society (March 2012). Didn’t like condoms “[AIDS is] a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems.”(March 2009). Didn’t like gay or lesbian people “Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered to an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.” (1986). And of gay marriage “[It's] an offence against the truth of the human person, with serious harm to justice and peace.” (December 2012). If you happily married heterosexual couples think you got off lightly then think again, couples that opt for any birth control method outside of Rick Santorum’s questionable “Rhythm Method” (which successfully created eight children) are “negating the intimate truth of conjugal love.” (October 2008).
And sexual abuse revelations and countless claims within the catholic church? Let’s not even go there because my fingers would fall off with the typing needed!

Slavery

I went to the cinema the other day to watch the new Tarantino movie called ‘Django Unchained’ and very good it was too, albeit a little on the lengthy side. The movie is about a black southern American slave that gains his freedom, wins his wife back and does some killing along the way. Mr Tarantino had obviously done some research into not too distant American history and depicted slavery as the brutal business it was, quite graphically in some scenes.
That fantastical moral book of wisdom called The Bible doesn’t really have a problem with slavery though, in fact it goes into detail about it. Lets take a look;
44 Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly. (Leviticus 25:44-46).
Hmmm no regard for nations around you then, only the people of Israel matter. Anyway moving on to sexual slavery, perfectly permissible but with the odd niceties;
7 If a man sells his daughter as a slave, she is not to go free as male slaves do. If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. 10 If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. 11 If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money. (Exodus 21:7-11).
Charming indeed. In fact the only real restraint God counsels is that we aren’t to beat our slaves so bad that we injure their eyes or teeth, I’m guessing you can beat the crap out of them elsewhere though (Exodus 21).
If we move onto the New Testament you’d think things may improve, sadly no, in fact Jesus makes no reference in objecting to slavery. Ideally if he had existed he might have spoken up about it but as regular readers will know I firmly believe he is a manufactured fictional character, so no objection to slavery doesn’t come as a surprise.
The very odious, miserable and downright liar St Paul admonishes slavery by saying;
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. (Ephesians 6:5).
And to round things off nicely we have;
All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare of their slaves. (Timothy 6:1-4).
Of course back in the formative days of the United States people such as the Baptist Revered Richard Fuller used the Bible to support slavery saying that;
“What God sanctioned in the Old Testament, and permitted in the New, cannot be a sin.”
He wrote letters regarding slavery and debated it with others, thankfully slavery would soon be consigned to history within America. We can rightly argue that some in abolitionists in America also used the Bible to make claims but religious people always cherry pick the Bible and nothing has changed. Accepting the Bible to be the word of God obviously must have made it right to abduct, sell, abuse and use people but if people use scripture to argue against scripture regarding slavery this does not make the Bible a good moral guide whatsoever, it just makes it look even more silly. The moment a person realises slaves are human beings that have the same capability for happiness and suffering they understand that it is patently evil to control, own and use people as sexual objects or farm equipment (unless they are consenting of course!).

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