Leveling With Myself

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have been facing the world’s worst case of writer’s block for quite some time now.  Anyone who knows me, reads this blog or runs across this new post will probably figure that out pretty quickly. My first post on the blog since stumbling across the solution to my problem was the one redefining myself; but even so, I’ve found it insurmountably hard to write. I guess I need to keep reminding myself of this fact;

I have stopped being honest with myself. Time to tell myself the truth.

I was a libertarian for 20 years because of the idea that individuals doing the ‘right thing’ voluntarily was the best solution. Some systems require support whether we want to contribute or not though.  If the answer is not then force has to be applied.  Force has to be applied, otherwise human nature will dictate that no one will pay for the systems, since most people will only do what they are required to do. I have no answer for “what if people won’t pay?” other than to state “I will shoot you myself”.  I don’t rely on the state anymore than I am required to; and yet the state does many things which are of use, one of them paying me for my disability.  I would ask “why did I have to spend three years fighting for something which I clearly need?”  you might ask “what makes you think you deserve it?” I deserve it, because I paid for 20 years on a contract that the government should honor.

I have never been an anarchist, which is (as my redefining post pointed out) what libertarians really are.  I find anarchists to be some of the most delusional (and generally harmless) people around. Humans have always adhered to some form of tribal authority and work best in groups aligned on a common goal. An individual can survive but it cannot thrive without the group and it’s ‘greater than the sum of its parts’ compiled results. To suggest that we can simply do away with governments and tribal authority and replace it with nothing is to ignore reality; and the solutions offered by anarchists as a replacement don’t look any better to me than current government solutions, really any different than tribal leadership. So government exists and will continue to exist, and force will occasionally have to be applied to individuals who simply want to not have to pay for services that they will eventually use.

Studies have been conducted that show that people do not contribute to charity at a level that would make services available that are needed, necessary and require funding. Have shown that the wealthy on average contribute a far smaller percentage of their wealth than the poor and middle class do.  That the wealthy feel they are entitled to the privileges of wealth, even if they are granted unfair advantage at the outset of a game designed to test just this attribute of being well off.

Every time I write on a subject that expounds on scientific findings that I’ve read, I am challenged personally by people who disagree with the findings; as if the workings of science answer to what I or they might think or believe; as if the actual path of past evolution could be altered just because we want it to be different.  It remains a fact that people (in general) will avoid doing work that they think others will do given time, or if not doing it doesn’t impact them immediately.  Consequently young people don’t buy health or life insurance, and bridle at being told they must invest in their future.  The average person dies without ever expressing their wishes in a will, because making those plans is an admission that they will actually die someday.

So maybe that is the point of this post. What I want has nothing to do with what is, what exists and its nature. That the most I can hope for is to be able to carve out a little space for myself, preferably one not backing onto a high traffic area of the house, where I can be pestered every 5 minutes like I’m the house information system (where are my keys?  Where is my phone?  Is there milk in the fridge?) a place where I can find the peace to write.

A Foolish Consistency is the Hobgoblin of Little Minds

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

DCBBS Archive: Sacred vs. Good

The Wayback Machine

There is nothing sacred, in my estimation. Nothing is beyond question. I don’t disagree that there is an objective morality, the stated purpose of the thread having been established as finding the basis for what was objectively good. It is the confusion of the good with the sacred that got me irritated with the thread from the beginning.

Sacred is a religious term. If you look it up in the dictionary, you will find that the predominant definition for sacred is something revered by god. What is good on the other hand can be a relativistic term, but it can also be objectively determined through testing and observation. The good in that instance being synonymous with right, correct, or positive.

This conversation started due to some podcast or other that DrYouth was certain contained some revelations about morality. I tried listening to those podcasts and couldn’t get past the false dichotomy introduced into the discussion. There is no either/or present, so there is no dichotomy to be in conflict; on the other hand, introducing religion into politics, the law, and science is something which cannot be allowed to occur, and should be combated at every turn. Religion cannot be verified, cannot be held to a standard, can not be judged except from within it’s own teachings. The conduct of the religious, can.

The way to settle the conflict over what should or shouldn’t be sacred is to throw out the concept of sacred in the first place. Remove the distinction of anything being beyond question. Nothing can be beyond discussion, even if raising the discussion merits immediate dismissal by the other party. If there is no concept of sacred, of something being beyond discussion, the conflict goes away. It doesn’t exist. The way to settle the remaining conflicts is to determine what is the good, and then work toward that goal. You cannot discuss something that is sacred. It’s beyond question, beyond negotiation. Measuring and determining the good, isn’t.

As always in arguments of this kind, it’s the precepts that end up tripping up the result. Morality (proper behavior) can be objective in the broad sense by simply being demonstrably reasonable and rational. No arbiter, no enforcer, no rigid code. You just do what you think is right, what your ability to think critically tells you is right.

No facts are to me sacred; none are profane; I simply experiment, an endless seeker with no past at my back.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is where the signature I still use comes from. This thread is to blame.

FFrF Radio: James Randi Archives: Parenting Beyond Belief & Richard Sloan

Podcast Link.
May 17, 2008Guests: The Amazing James Randi & Dad Complainant in FFRF’s Newest Religion-in-School Court Challenge

Thecracy Alert. Child Evangelism Fellowship is partnering with a Wisconsin public school system, targeting children as young as 4; disguising their proselytizing as a party, and giving gifts at Christmas, using school facilities without compensating taxpayers.

McCain’s pastor problems; Mother Jones magazine skewers Rod Parsley.

James Randi
is the guest.

Cruel men believe in a cruel God and use their belief to excuse their cruelty. Only kindly men believe in a kindly God, and they would be kindly in any case.

Bertrand Russell

2007 Archive episode.
May 19, 2007Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion

Theocracy Alert. Tinky Winky’s critic Jerry Falwell is dead; Criticism of the idiot’s own words follows. The Hitchens vs. Sharpton debate has a segment aired (as well as Hitchen’s rather pointed comments on Jerry Falwell) including this quote;

Not until gentle Jesus meek and mild is the concept of Hell introduced.

Thank you Mr. Hitchens for hitting on the point that I find most objectionable as well.

Dale McGowan (the guest) has written Parenting Beyond Belief a guide to how to raise children in this religion drenched society. I was impressed with his devotion to this subject. If my children weren’t well on their way towards adulthood, I would probably pick up a copy of the book.

Dan Barker’s song It’s Only Natural is aired. Susan Hofer is the vocal artist. Here’s a video of the song on YouTube.

Freethinkers Almanac. Lorraine Hansberry and an audio clip from Raisin in the Sun.

As men’s prayers are a disease of the will, so are their creeds a disease of the intellect.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

2006 Archive episode.
May 20, 2006Nothing Fails Like Prayer: Richard Sloan

Theocracy Alert. Guidelines allowing prayer in the name of Jesus in the military are of concern.

Richard P. Sloan is the guest (Last week, next year was his second appearance) As this was his first appearance, the discussion was much more focused on the contents of his book Blind Faith. Prayer in medicine claims are addressed (sharpshooters fallacy) Prayer studies, and their negative results.

Dan Barker performs Beware of Dogma (used as bumper music from this point forward)

Ask an Atheist addresses the myth of no atheists in foxholes? The Lake Hyapatia monument is referenced.

Freethinkers Almanac features Bertrand Russell, Lorraine Hansberry, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.