Saturday, December 20, 2008

I saw on reddit that Christians wonder why Atheists feel they have to put Christians down, indeed atheists wonder why Christians put Atheists down. It's probably the same thing, like each community has it's own team, whatever the topic. My own experience is that Christians are mostly ok & only those who try to talk about faith (or lack if it) require repression. The missionary spirit is obnoxious, unacceptably conceited, overbearing, inconsiderate, impolite, condescending, oppressive, insulting, and very very ignorant. When it talks about faith and belief in the bible as the word of god, faith is not reasonable (this is bad). Reason connects prior experiences between people, faith doesn't and blithely offers no substitute. It is it's own answer, you have to have it before you understand. Having faith is like being trained in martial arts. Nobody can possibly touch you, every opposing posture has a counter position. If you die, it's a noble death. You're innocent as George Bush because the most obvious and egregious lie in the name of faith is unquestionable.

Why not faith in astrology? I can see small groups of smiling clean cut astrology missionaries going door to door, handing out glossy pamphlets showing the possible end of the world if funding isn't found to study the orbits of near earth asteroids. Dudes, here's my free astrology software.

More than any other world view or philosophy, faith requires trusting someone else's experience over your own. I have a problem with any blank check on my credibility. Human awareness is built on a learned description, which limits what we allow ourselves to know, to mainly things which we can communicate. The sources of these things (authority figures and social conventions), require trusting someone else's experience over our own. Though that process is the backbone of primate society, those sources may still be in error. Unfortunately, the error is too often intentional.

Some studies with monkeys showed that when one masters a game played with other monkeys, to win food, the master must allow the other to win 40% of the time, or the others won't play and nobody gets food. The odds there were 6 to 4 for being conned based on trust. Humans are at least more trusting (6.5 to 3.5), if not smarter, as shown by Experiments in social conformity & torture (BBC). Also see: Placebos, belief and trust ( These odds for being conned don't differentiate players who know they're being conned, but go along because it's better than to challenge authority and risk receiving some kind of reprimand.

Even so, I think the church (all of them) has done a pretty good job of making people happy and dumb. Things could be worse (1) than structured forgiveness, and having a large percent of social misfits held in check by benign neglect because they're socially accepted. However you cut it though, some percent of people will game the system opportunistically. The worst of these either feel socially alienated or are psychopathic. I'd imagine that if the cause was alienation, it would be a mistake to punish them by alienating them further.

Mark Twain on "The Fall of Man" w/ links to other good stories)

(1) Worse: the American prison system, the alternate patron of misfits (2), offers no absolution or social acceptance at all, teaches that inmates are inhuman, and offers rape, a broken spirit, eternal damnation and hell. Misfits find their only society to be other misfits and so form a default team, exchanging ideas and methodologies, until a pool of the dammed becomes available for antisocial efforts (like Blackwater, Mexican drug cartels, or The Joker). When this group reaches critical mass, a war against them becomes politically justifiable.

(2) the term "misfits" is used broadly here to include the nonviolent and offenders of statistics.

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