reflections on blogging

Lately I don’t want to brain much so today I will just write on my blogging journey. I have been blogging here since August 2012. I have written on politics, religion, science topics, books i have read, posted videos, songs, photos of the places i have been to and all. And of late, I have made it a point to make sure some of you get tired by just reading about my runs or hikes or rides. Except Brian who rides much more than I do.

In the beginning, god debates used to interest me but not anymore. While I know I haven’t exhausted whatever arguments god botherers have designed to prop their god, I am unlikely to meet a new one that hasn’t been covered already in all the ones I have looked at.

And as I have said elsewhere, I have made friends online. Some have been around this blog from those early days, being critics, supporters and sometimes broadening my perspectives on different topics. Some we have lost. Some have gone to their maker. And some maybe have just disappeared in the thin air.

In the spirit of no braining, I want to repost one of the blogs from 2013. The passage below is from Atheism Explained by D.R. Steele

God cannot be destroyed. He can’t be injured against his will or made to suffer against his will, and he knows this. If this is true, then God can’t be afraid of anything. He has never known fear at first hand, though he may have known fear in his imagination, the way we know fear by watching a horror movie . But if God has never been fearful, then God has never been courageous . The virtue of courage consists in overcoming or disregarding or perhaps suppressing one’s fear or one’s inclination to fear. Bravery, then, is a virtue that God can never achieve .

The same applies to most o f the human virtues. Most virtues, like courage, involve self-control and therefore have no application to God, who experiences not the slightest flicker of appetites or impulses which might cause him to deviate from doing whatever he infallibly decides is best. God cannot be tempted, so he earns no points for resisting temptation. Nothing, to God, is an effort, so he can never become lazy or irresolute, and deserves no praise for being steadfast!
If God is all powerful and almighty, then God has never faced any onerous tasks, has never shouldered any burdens, has never had to give up one thing in order to get another ( except where the alternatives are logically incompatible ) , has never felt involuntary pain or even a twinge of discomfort or anxiety, has never had to make a difficult decision, has never solved an intellectual puzzle ( since he knows all the answers in advance ) . God has no curiosity, since he knows everything instantly, without making an effort to find out.

God has never had to work hard at anything, has never been surprised or disappointed. God has never had to make a choice, since that would presuppose at least a moment where he had not made up his mind. God can never be careful or considerate. God can never pay particular attention. God has never experienced, at first hand, the joy of understanding an elegant theorem or experiencing a great work of art. He has heard it all before.
Creation of anything by humans, for example creation of a song or a book, has its joys and its sorrows . But for God, the Creator of the universe, there could be no joy, or sorrow, or sense of accomplishment. He created the universe just by willing it and before he willed it, he knew how it was going to turn out. Aside from that, joy and sorrow are characteristics of evolved conscious beings with bodies, forever enmeshed in the struggle to survive and reproduce.
Such emotional flurries could have no place in the life of. an eternal, indestructible Supreme Being. Theists say that God is wholly good. This implies that he has never known at first hand malice, lust, greed, or envy. Furthermore, God, defined as God who is wholly good, is held to be necessary. If it’s necessary that God is wholly good, then God could never go even slightly bad, he could never start toying with a bit of shadiness here and there . So God can’t do anything even slightly evil . No credit is due to God for being good; he can’t help
himself.

Only a very few theists are prepared to say that God could choose to do evil, and it’s easy to see why. If God is free to do something evil, then he might, at any moment, do just that. Being all-good would then be revealed as not necessarily true of God : it must have been a mistake all along to think of it as necessarily true & a practical matter we could no longer depend on God to be good. How could we ever know that God had turned bad? What evidence might we find to give us an indication of any such turn of events? It does seem to be essential to the God concept that God is impotent to commit evil. Even mild naughtiness must be beyond his powers. We begin to wonder whether this entity can really be a person .

Have a good week everyone.

on the devil and other news

aka Satan.

Nan says the dude has no real existence. The cuddly one says it is a mistake to think the devil is a myth.


I think the author of this article is not serious. He claims, boldy, that

As C.S. Lewis once observed, even among critics, the teachings of Jesus reflect the highest standard of morality known to man.

which makes me think he hasn’t really considered what he calls the highest standard of morality.

The mythical Dave the author quotes can believe as possible or true natural explanation even when these have not proven as long as they don’t require a miracle. In a world of particles colliding where some of those particles result in thinking beings, wrong and right become very useful indicators as some things are either beneficial or inimical to the continued survival of such species of organisms.

Regis tells us modern man is concerned with, following Maslow, self actualization instead of seeking salvation- individual salvation, so to speak. I see no difference between the two except in the means.

If god exists, Regis must tell us what has taken her so long to provide manna to end starvation? Or to make wine so we all can make merry. Man has been struggling in darkness to solve the problems of man. Were it not for nationalism, short term vision, greed, we could have made progress in how we deal with some of the crisis that face us.

Have a devil free Monday and a good week everyone.

religious disservice

It is Monday, Easter is around the corner and maybe it is time for some sermons. I have been rereading Okot p’Bitek’s Artist the Ruler: Essays on Art, Culture and Values which I highly recommend, if you can find it that is. He quotes Eric Mascall who wrote

It has been emphasised that Christianity is historical in a sense in which no other religion is, for it stands or falls by certain events which are alleged to have taken place during a particular period of forty eight hours in Palestine nearly 2000 years ago.

Eric Mascall, inaugural lecture

Okot continues to say after this that all sorts of strange things happened during these few hours

  1. how for one do you interpret Peter’s so called denial? Why should a rugged fishermen deny his friend
  2. did Jesus ever claim to be king?
  3. who were the other thieves who were hanged on either side of the Christ?
  4. when some fellow, Joseph of Arimateus took Jesus’ body, was he really dead?

Elsewhere, he quotes from Rene Fullop-Miller’s Lenin and Gandhi

It is truly sickening….God creating: is this not the worst type of self reviling? Everyone who occupies himself with the construction of a god, or merely agrees with it, prostitutes himself in the worst way, for he occupies himself, not with activity, but with self contemplation and self reflection, and tries thereby to deify his most unclean, most stupid and most servile features or pettiness.

Lenin in response to Alexei Maximovich’s god-seeking

Have a pleasant Monday, will you.

Things I never learned in Sunday School

By Nan Yielding

First, thanks Nan for the free copy. It is an interesting and easy read. I think a revised edition is due especially because I think you have in the intervening period learnt something that maybe was not available at the time of first publication.

This book is not a polemic against religion or an apologia. Maybe we could say it is an argument against taking someone as an authority without good reason. In this respect, I think Nan makes her point clearly throughout the book.

That said, I have a few issues with the book.

On the pentatauch, she alludes to Moses writing the first five books. First comment is that the existence of Moses is highly doubtful but that’s a story for later. On the authorship of the first five books, research that I have read point to a multiple group of writers. My preface to the African Bible( used by the Catholic Church) is explicit that while it is commonly believed Moses wrote those books, this is no longer tenable.

On Jesus, Nan writes in a manner that shows she is convinced of at least two things; he existed and had a message of love that he taught. The interesting question here is which Jesus. And having read several researches on Jesus life, I would ask with Ark, which Jesus? Nan writes we are certain Jesus died but this is putting the cart before the horse.

What can be said of the resurrection? She points out the various contradictions in the narratives telling of this special event. And I don’t think much needed to be added. Maybe we can say with Mangassarian that if he went to the sky it is best to live him there.

She writes a lot on Paul which is understandable because of his influence in Christian teaching. The first question is Paul who? Does the author of Acts know Paul? And while her conclusion is correct that without the Pauline literature, we would likely end up with a different religion today. She takes it for granted that Paul was. And I would think, as the theme of the book is not taking things on authority, a little bit of rigour would not be asking for too much.

Her exposition on the devil is quite illuminating. But in that chapter she says we are certain a supreme being exists? But does it really? Are we certain about this? What is the nature of this being & though in the final chapter she makes the argument that resembles that of Aviciena( via negativa) that maybe we can’t begin to name or even describe this being, this gives us no light on whether we should assume such a being exists.

I am not convinced the argument about the Roman empire persecution of Christians hold against scrutiny. I will have to dust my books & update this criticism but her position is not tenable.

I am African and it is a pet peeve of mine when I find African deities or religions referred to as tribal gods. This is following Hegel where everyone else has national gods or just religions but the African, no. His is a tribal god. I know it is not Nan’s fault here that most literature sees Africans only through the lens of tribe.

I think on matters where there is doubt, to express certainties must surely take away from the value of the work. To claim a supreme being/ god certainly exists is to stretch credulity a little far. My other general comment that covers the whole work is on miracles. The bible which is the source document for Christian belief is said to be a miracle- that is, it is not of natural production but involves the action of god(s) in unknown ways- is in need of defence.

While reading the book, a thought occurred to me concerning monotheism. Is it a belief in the existence of only one god or the belief in & worship of only one god While not negating the existence of other gods? The israelites are told not that other gods don’t exist, just that they should worship a specific god. Or as Nietzsche put it, the other gods laughed themselves to death when one of them said I am on the only god. Am I missing something?

Happy Sunday everyone. And thanks again Nan for the book.

I watched a really silly movie

In fact, I am not sure one can say it is a bad nor a good movie. It just is. But it is relevant for some of the discussions we have on this blog and elsewhere. In the recent post by Nan, Barry did mention that god has been defined by Lord Geering and maybe a few others as a metaphor representing some of our highest ideas.

This brings us to the movie. It is on Netflix and the tittle is Saladin. I found out this was the deliverer of Jerusalem from the crusaders in the 12th Century. Men were going to their deaths to fight over a piece of earth. And they still do, to this date.

One thing I can say for the script writers and the directors is they know how to revenge. In the whole act, the Arabs are referred to by the Europeans as barbarians and savages but in their actions, the Arabs come out on top. They are just, innovative and their leader Saladin is a man for lack of a better word, we will say is an just principled and generous man.

It is 3 hours long. And while it is the conversation that is riveting, it is in Arabic so you can’t let play in the background while you do some important thing like spoonfeeding a cat that has refused to eat.

Humanity doesn’t seem to have improved. We still kill one another for a piece of earth, or for believing incorrectly when these beliefs have no demonstrated truth/ facts to support them.

Without the devil

As the fourth and silent member of the trinity, churches, mosques and most likely synagogues would have closed. We must, if we look at the narratives presented to us, take it that the devil has equal power with the god head.

Many a Christian believe themselves monotheistic while they believe in a multitude of gods; god the father, the son, the holy ghost, the devil, Mary mother of god and a multitude of angels and saints.

The priests believe in magic. They persecute magicians only because they think they have commerce with the devil.

The miracles of Jesus do not provide definitive proof of his power. The good book says even the antichrist will do the same but doesn’t tell how we can separate the two.

Nowhere in the bible is to be found a defence of freedom of thought.

There was never a just war. Only defensive wars.

How faiths spread

But how do you think, then, that my religion became established? Like all the rest. A man of strong imagination made himself followed by some persons of week imagination. The flock increased; fanaticism commences, fraud achieves. A powerful man comes; he sees a crowd, ready bridled and with a bit in its teeth; he mounts and leads it.

Voltaire

We cannot be certain

Of the justice of men who are capable of fashioning and worshipping an unjust divinity; nor on their humanity, so long as they incorporate inhuman motives in their most sacred dogma; nor their reasonableness, while they rigorously decline to accept reason as a test of truth

Morley

I am sure Barry would disagree and I would too. There are many times humans have acted better than their gods. The Christians at least have stopped using the rake to discover who believes correctly and are no longer stoning their neighbours for having the wrong interpretation of religion.

But on the whole, if one worships a cruel overlord, it is not far fetched to imagine their capacity for cruelty. Look at the Muslims chopping heads in the name of God or it name of the profit?

To be fair to religionists, it can be said any ideology believed in that admits no error and is taken as absolute truth is likely to be intolerant of divergent opinion and can easily lead to inhumane and cruel acts.