Quotes: about Nature

Mark Twain in one of his lectures writes about the Law of Periodical repetition

Nature has no originality. She has a superb and amazing and infinitely varied equipment of old ones, but she never adds to them. She repeats- repeats- repeats. When she puts together a man and is satisfied with him, she is loyal to him, she stands by him through thick and thin forevermore, she repeats him by billions and billions of examples, and physically and mentally the average remains exactly the same, it doesn’t vary a hair between the first batch, middle batch and last batch

 

Lucille 2: La gaudière

Lucille 2

La gaudière

n. the glint of goodness inside people, which you can only find by sloshing them back and forth in your mind until everything dark and gray and common falls away, leaving behind a constellation at the bottom of the pan—a rare element trapped in exposed bedrock, washed there by a storm somewhere upstream.

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Dear Lucille;

Can you see the music and the dance all around?

Can you see the melodies, the codas, the rare refrains, the flanged bridges, and the occasional, but unforgettable  reverberations that string together one and all? Do you feel the sea of pure music, abounding all around, permeating all and one, and setting forth basal harmony to all that abide by it? Does the heavenly resonance touch your heart, and quicken it, and leave you in a turmoil of emotions and longings? If you do, Lucille, I heartily welcome you to my world – a world of symphonies, and in which every single sentiment, every single profundity, and every single chord, has a place on the eternal staves of cosmic music.

At one time in the past, you posed a question unto me, Lucille. You asked me what it was that I saw in you, and that attracted me so intensely towards you. Alas, I found myself speechless then, and I asked for some time to actually think over the question. And, in my solitude, I tried to hack away at the question, trying to reduce it to elemental artifacts, as my professional training was wont to do. It is upon this reductionist paradigm that, for many restless moons, your question remained unanswered. Until, one day, I decided to gaze at the composition, the wholeness of the question, rather than at the composites. And lo, the heavens opened up, light came unto my mind, and the answer came rushing at me, almost immediately:

Lucille, I am privy to a dance that you perform, every single second of your life, and that no one else perceives.

There is an ethereal gait… an other-worldly elegance to your steps, and to your body movements, that I have never observed in anyone else. It is like a unique fingerprint – a primordial signature by which you ceaselessly authenticate and weld your spirit to mine. I have, on various occasions in the past, watched you as you went about your life, and got struck by the sheer grace and fluidity that you seemed to command. Like a ballerina, you’ve always stepped the right way, swayed the right way, gyrated the right way, shrugged the right way, and consistently held me captive, with your movements, the right way. Never have I ever seen a misstep on your path, nor a stumble, nor a tumble, nor a sprain.

There is one particular vision about you that I remember vividly, Lucille. We were on a nature trail, when suddenly, you run up ahead of me, and cast yourself as a silhouette against the setting sun. Then, you executed a perfect arabesque – à demi hauteur, straightened out, pirouetted, and finished off with a grand jeté right across a stony brook. I was mesmerized. But what made the moment even more magical was the fact that, up in the evening skies, a large murmuration of starlings was, right then, performing the most intricate, and iridescent, whorls, swoops and loops… in perfect rhythm with your body movements. It was like both you and the passerines had suddenly, somehow tapped in to a common, ethereal symphony, and were dancing right along to it. Afterwards, we walked the rest of the way in an enchanted… almost divine, silence.

By Tao, it’s said that certain streams hold every single song that has ever been sung. If this is so, then I think that you, Lucille, have somehow bathed in certain such streams, and inherited their precious melodies. For within you, there is a resonance to a cosmic song that never terminates, never pauses, and that never ceases to tug at my soul strings. There is, within you, a harmony and grace that would make even the loftiest angels weep with enchantment. And yet, so innocently and naturally do you carry about your daily chores that I’ve wondered, on many an occasion, whether you are actually aware of this dimension of yourself. Lucille, are you aware that, by a simple flick of your slender wrist, you regularly hypnotize me, and cast me, quite bodily, into Nirvana? And are you aware that, by your presence, every single nature walk feels like a retreat into the verdant fields of Arcadia?

Such is the mellifluous hold you have over me, Lucille, that I have but one recurring dream. I dream that one day, our essences will transmogrify into twin rivers, which will race alongside each other, singing and chanting and dancing to the sweetest melodies ever visited upon mortals. And at the end of our journeys, we will cascade over a cliff, twisting and weaving into each other, until we submerge into the silent pool at the bottom. Upon which, with a final sigh, we will become but part of a larger lake – a large confluence whose myriad tributaries render it immortal. And there, we will ebb and flow, swirl and pirouette, in harmonious eddies, till the ends of time

Yours forever enchanted,

Cystorm Cintanex

N/B: For a related note, see Lucille 1: Sonder

Atheism, morality and more

Atheism is a way to not only deny the creator but live a life of unaccountably. Moral values have existed. However objective morals have been there since God created the Heavens and Earth. Laws require a “Law-giver”

Before I started blogging, that is before I became an atheist, I had only met one atheist or a person who identified as a non believer. If there is anything I remember about this person, they were one of the coolest people I have met. We don’t keep in touch a lot. Why am I telling you all this? When I started to write, I decided I would not intentionally misrepresent anyone or a position and I have tried as much as is possible to stay true to this. Whenever am not sure, I try to verify what I am about to write.

For an apologist to write about atheism claiming that it is a way to deny the creator is beyond being willfully ignorant. It is to be obtuse. Atheism answers to a simple question, a question, which I must say shouldn’t even arise, whose subject matter hasn’t been properly defined to allow you or me to make a stand on it. To add that we live a life of un-accountability is an outright insult and betrays ignorance of atheists and their lives. But while at it, to whom does he want us account? If to a god, then such a thing doesn’t exist. If to our friends and family, yes, we do. So, pray, tell us to who we should account.

Morals, whatever these are, have existed as long as man has existed. To explain their existence one does not need to look beyond the nature of man. We consider bad anyone who forces us to follow their will, that is, anyone who violates our will such as a robber violates my rights to my property and forces me to live according to his will.

For this author to repeat the line oft-repeated by WLC and his followers about objective moral values without caring to list any, depicts a lazy person both in terms of thought and research. There have been countless arguments against this line of argument starting with Greeks who asked whether the gods say a thing is good because it is good or things are good because gods say so? To further say that morals have existed since god created the heavens and the earth, which is a direct reference to the story hobbled together by Jews and then later adapted by Christians and then Muslims ignores years of Indian, Chinese, Greek, Egyptian and other civilizations prior to this blot on human history. It assumes the traditions of countless people to whom the idea that a deity created the universe ex nihilo does not even exist in their vocabularies and to whom such a thought process is first absurd and foreign and lastly is a meaningless statement. Anyone who thinks laws need a law-giver need to live under strict supervision especially since his law giver who is invisible, unknowable and is beyond time and space [as WLC would say] may ask of him something that the rest of human would consider immoral. I must add that anyone who thinks in such a manner is, in the words of W.K Clifford,

 is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.

If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call into question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it–the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.

If this judgment seems harsh when applied to those simple souls who have never known better, who have been brought up from the cradle with a horror of doubt, and taught that their eternal welfare depends on what they believe, then it leads to the very serious question, Who hath made Israel to sin?

We are gravely and repeatedly told that there is no effect without a cause, that the world did not make itself. But the universe is a cause, it is not an effect; it is not a work, it has not been made, because it is impossible that it should have been made. The world has always been; its existence is necessary, it is its own cause. Nature, whose essence is visibly to act and produce, requires not, to discharge her functions, an invisible mover, much more unknown than herself. Matter moves by its own energy, by a necessary consequence of its heterogeneity. The diversity of motion, or modes of mutual action, constitutes alone the diversity of matter. We distinguish beings from one another only by the different impressions or motions which they can communicate to our organs.

d’Holdbach in Good Sense

On creation of the Universe

The atheist is the most fortunate person

Friends, I have come across a post that for lack of a better word portrays the atheist in so unfortunate a light that it is only fair that we be heard. I will not claim to speak for every atheist, but myself. However, before I respond to the three posts which can be found here, here and here, I want to start by saying that atheism answers only one question. The question is do you believe in the existence of god[s]? To which the answer is no! Beyond that, it says nothing about whether I am vegetarian, stamps collector, nada nada, nothing. With this out of the way, I can now proceed to answer to the claims of the above three posts.

The first accusation is the atheist lacks faith which is touted as the greatest good on earth. Our accuser commits a fallacy of equivocation. The word faith here is used in a narrow meaning forgetting that it has other meanings. I will demonstrate. I have faith my car will start in the morning. This faith is informed by the fact that I drove my car home the previous evening, it showed no sign of mechanical failure and last I started it, it worked. It could fail to start, though. It is therefore important that we are told what faith are we deprived of, if it is faith in an afterlife or fairies, that isn’t useful to me and as such I don’t need it.

We are asked to believe the atheist is devoid of human love. I don’t think this claim needs a response. My ability to love other sentient beings has nothing whatsoever to do with whether fairies exist or not. This said, however, I can understand where this comes from. I have often times asked my friends to tell me what they mean when they talk about love and I will tell you that many if not all have very interesting responses. I have sometimes said love is an ambiguous term, and if this is the basis of this accusation, then so be it, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that whatever it means to love, the atheist is as capable of having it just as the theist.

There is a beauty in looking at plant life, animal life or even at contemplating the night sky. There is sublime beauty in knowing we are stardust without positing a divine creator. All around us, both for the believer and unbeliever we are surrounded by natural processes and there is every mystery in looking at the working of nature. Therefore to write

The eye of the atheist sees in creation nothing other than the operation of natural processes. The brilliance and magnificent beauty of the Divine Creator’s image remain hidden and undetectable to him. As he glances aimlessly at creation, nowhere does he discover the beauty of God’s wisdom, nowhere does he see God’s omnipotence, nowhere does he observe God’s goodness and providence, nowhere does he discern the Creator’s righteousness and love for creation

is blatantly false and a collection of hodgepodge. It is what my good friend Tidleb would call deepity those statements that look profound but tell us nothing. And while here, as I have written always, what god? And why would life and the universe need a creator? And where is this love? Is he implying that his god in act of love created the antelope to be killed by the lion for food or the male preying mantis gets to be killed during intercourse, tough love it must be!

The atheist has reason informed by experience as his guide. He walks with his head held high knowing that he too, like all things, in nature die and rot and go back to what they were before in the endless cycle of natural processes. He sees his kin die and knows that he too shall die. If this truth is uncomfortable for some, too bad, but I think to say

The atheist lives in a dispirited state; listlessness has taken hold of his soul. He wanders astray in the lightless and expansive night of this present life without even one ray of light to illumine his crooked paths

is not only mean but borders on condescension. It is a statement borne of ignorance, loaded with hate and malice and is far removed from reality as anything could possibly be.

I am grateful to my friends, they know because I express my appreciation to them. I love a lot of things and so many people. To claim

Feelings of love and gratitude remain unknown mysteries for the atheist

is based just as the others are, on ignorance of atheists. I can only say the author of this piece must live in a place where there is no atheist or he hasn’t met my friends.

It is said of the atheist that

 having appointed matter as his principal governor, limited man’s true happiness within the narrow confines of temporary pleasures.

Be that as it may, please tell me one permanent pleasure that ain’t borne of wishful thinking. All things in nature are transient. This is not wishful thinking. This is fact. You can either embrace it, knowing that nothing is permanent or you can pretend it is not the case and be surprised when things happen not as you had expected them to be.

If as he writes

God, however, has fled from the heart of the atheist. The human heart has infinite desires because it was created to embrace the infinite God. However, since the atheist’s heart is not filled with the infinite God, it can never be filled or satisfied with anything—even though it perpetually groans, seeks, and desires to do so.

The fault is with god and not the atheist. The theist then must ask his god to fill the atheist’s heart with whatever it is that should fill hearts but please leave enough space to allow the heart pump blood :-P. I don’t want to die of heart failure!

I know of no other pleasures. This statement

The pleasures of the world are incapable of filling the heart’s emptiness

then joins the list of those many meaningless things people are oft to say in the hope they have said something substantial. The atheist/ naturalist says we have one life here and we have a duty to make each other’s journey through it as beautiful and easy as it can possibly be. We are earthbound, we make no promise of a future bliss. If we can’t have bliss here, there is no guarantee it can be anywhere else. And I say, since, we needed no training before our birth on how to live here, if there be another place, we should be able to learn to live there as well. While still on this part, I must say, the theist must show me why his god would choose such a torturous route to get us to heaven and hell. Why not just populate the two places at one go?

If happiness is dependent in believing there is a god, and that this god loves you, one wonders why there are countless unhappy believers. No, we are happy when our desires are met, our health is sound, those around us aren’t distressed, we all have a roof over our heads and food in the stomach. Anyone struggling to live can’t be happy.  And am not saying having so much makes you happy, nope, but knowing that you are safe, have food and is loved is enough to make all of us happy.  No god is required.

This statement

The atheist is unaware that man’s happiness is found not within the enjoyment of earthly pleasures but in the love of God

is therefore superfluous and irrelevant to human happiness.

The theist is slave of a tyrant, not the atheist. The theist believes his god desires worship, watches his every deed and will likely condemn him to an eternal fire for finite crimes. Reason can’t be a tyrant. There is no place on the earth where a life has been lost because people were reasonable, but many a number have been lost and continue to be lost in the name of god. So again, this statement

The atheist has become a unfortunate slave subjugated to a harsh tyrant!

is blatantly false and ridiculous. It can hold no water. It can’t stand.

The natural world fills the naturalist with joy and gladness. If you want to believe this, look at the wonderful photos by my good friend Sonel or Sally and if you aren’t dissuaded from this thought

The natural world seems to him sterile and barren. It neither provides him with joy nor generates within him feelings of delight

then you are definitely beyond help. It is you, not the atheist, who needs help. Wake up, look at the beauty around you and be filled with gladness that you are apart of a magnificent thing. That nature has so combined atoms to come up with a being such as you that can appreciate her beauty. You don’t need gods to see that the world and the universe is beautiful.

We are then told

Unmerciful and uncompassionate despair, in turn, violently and harshly severs the thread of his pitiful life, and hurls him into the depths of perdition and darkness, from where he will resurface only when the voice of his divine Creator—Whom he denied—calls him to give an account of his disbelief, at which point he will be condemned and sent to the eternal fire.

to which, in conclusion, I respond, don’t despair for me. If you are not going to be my attorney, let me be. Live your life praising your god and while at it, pray so hard that you are worshiping the right god and if that isn’t the case, that the right god be merciful to you for worshiping a wrong one. If any atheist is called to account, they will do so on their own, stop your threats, they are meaningless to us. They don’t scare us. And in closing, our lives are full of light not darkness, we know we shall die someday and when that day comes we will be no more and are the happy for it.

May your god help you, but please leave the atheist to live his life. The time to live is now.

Everyone believes: No, you are mistaken!

While visiting my friend Violet’s blog, I came across a link by one pastor Miller who uses one of the very tired arguments theists are fond of using, that because everyone talks about gods, they must exist. On this, the pastor is very wrong and we are about to see why.

Before we look at the pastors tired arguments, it is important to remind the reader that the word god is born of ignorance and fear when early man didn’t know shit! The only explanation they had for phenomena was that a god was doing stuff, and if it was things they considered bad, they created bad spirits to be responsible. Gods are therefore creations of our ignorant ancestors.

The pastor starts by telling us

They start with the assumption that their listeners are objective and analytical and can be persuaded by facts.  I doubt this is true.

which I presume is a reference to atheists or other non-believers. To turn the point on its head, what facts have the pastor to offer, if any, that we could discuss on his god position. Yours truly, is patient, and will be waiting for the pastor to wow us, maybe a few of my atheist friends may just as well change their minds, who knows!

What does the good pastor state as evidence to support his position? Let’s hear it

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things..[Romans 1:18-23]

which is Paul’s threat to the unrighteous. Paul, tells us nothing about the nature of god, other than that he is invisible and eternal how comes to this conclusion is anyone’s guess. Two, for, Paul’s argument to hold, one has to believe that the universe and all that is in it was created by divine fiat, and further one has to believe that the christian god is real since Paul is not referring to any other god. So, pastor Miller and Paul can go ahead and call us fools, but they have not med the burden of proof. They have not shown us why the universe needed a creator and what creator? I would also want to hear from the pastor a description of his god which does not involve negative attributes such as perfection and that also do not involve anthropomorphism, and am patient!

If, until now, you haven’t realized the good pastor is up to something, don’t worry, we are about to unpack it. His next argument couched in many words goes

If God doesn’t exist, morality is at best a mistaken byproduct of blind evolution.

and continues to say

 It’s just strange to me that we act as though objective morals should exist, when a universe without God doesn’t require objective morality.

Our pastor, as is common of other apologists, doesn’t tell us what these objective morals are.  And why shouldn’t evolution or by extension, nature not be responsible for bringing into existence beings disposed in such away that they act in a specific way. Must gods be involved. And while still on this, has the good pastor heard of the Euthyphro dilemma? It appears to me, he hasn’t and need to educate himself.

His next argument is on whether we can know anything in a godless universe. This is what he writes

In a godless universe, everything is simply matter.  Everything is made up of colliding particles.  Our brains in our heads are just a collection of particles that have come to function in certain ways

and which I would want him to show us if this isn’t the case. I would want him to demonstrate how our brain is not matter or agitated by material things. I know our brains are capable of abstract thought, which I think are informed by material things or things of possible experience. I would want the pastor to tell us what he thinks brains are and to further tell us what thoughts are.

His last argument, is to claim that without a god, there would be no language and we wouldn’t be able to communicate with each other. He writes

 Again, a material universe with no guiding conscience would not necessitate that words  have meaning or that language is effective.

which is simply false. We have evolved in a certain way, with brains big enough to develop abstract thought and communicate our ideas with others. A god is not required in this case and the pastor must know this. Unless, the pastor is telling us that the claim in genesis is true, that is, that his god confounded the language of men so they couldn’t build the stairs to heaven. If this is the case, the pastor is a very funny person, and I mean this in all the good ways possible :-P.

In concluding his piece of trope, the pastor writes

That person is acting like God is there at exactly the moment she says he isn’t.

Which can be translated to mean that at the moment when you say there are no tooth fairies, they exist. I don’t know if the good pastor is ready to accept this, and if he isn’t then he must show us where the difference is between his argument and mine.

He writes as a closing statement

So ironically, the person who says “God does not exist” is actually proving that God does.

Which, yours truly, responds by saying no, we prove no such thing and goes further to say that whoever says a god exists is ignorant of nature and how it acts, in short he is a fool.

And that, my friends, is my submission!

The only prayer you should be saying, if you must

I here below, teach you how to pray, if you must pray

O Nature: sovereign of all beings! and ye her adorable daughters, VIRTUE, REASON and TRUTH remain for ever our revered protectors: it is to you that belong the praises of the human race, to you appertains the homage of the earth. Shew, us, then, O Nature, that which man ought to do, in order to obtain the happiness which thou makest him desire. Virtue, animate him with they beneficent fire. Reason, conduct his uncertain steps through the paths of life. Truth, let they torch illumine his intellect, dissipate the darkness of his road. Unite, O assisting deities! your powers, in order to submit the hearts of mankind to your dominion. Banish error from our mind, wickedness from our hearts, confusion from our footsteps; cause knowledge to extend its salubrious reign, goodness to occupy our souls, serenity to dwell in our bosoms. Let imposture, confounded, never again dare to shew its head. Let our eyes, so long, either dazzled or blindfolded, be at length fixed upon those objects we ought to seek. Dispel for ever those mists of ignorance, those hideous phantoms, together with those seducing chimeras, which only serve to lead us astray, Extricate us from that dark abyss into which we are plunged by superstition, overthrow the fatal empire of delusion, crumble the throne of falsehood, wrest from their polluted hands the power they have usurped.

Command men, without sharing your authority with mortals, break the chains that bind them down in slavery, tear away the bandeau by which they are hoodwinked, allay the fury that intoxicates them, break in the hands of sanguinary, lawless tyrants, that iron sceptre with which they are crushed to exile, the imaginary regions, from whence fear has imported them, those theories by which they are afflicted.

Inspire the intelligent being with courage, infuse energy into his system, that, at length he may feel his own dignity, that he may dare to love himself, to esteem his own actions when they are worthy, that a slave only to your eternal laws, he may no longer fear to enfranchise himself from all other trammels, that blest with freedom, he may have the wisdom to cherish his fellow creature, and become happy by learning to perfection his own condition, instruct him in the great lesson, that the high road to felicity, is to prudently partake himself, and also cause others to enjoy, the rich banquet which thou, O Nature, has so bountifully set before him.

Console thy children from those sorrows to which their destiny submits them, by those pleasures which wisdom allows them to partake, teach them to be contended with their condition, to banish envy from their mind, to yield silently to necessity. Conduct them without alarm to that period which all beings must find, let them learn that time changes all things, that consequently, they are made neither to avoid it’s scythe nor to fear its arrival.

D’Holdbach in the System of Nature