Prayer is NOT Proactive

I don’t want to be yet another person writing about the shootings in Connecticut, let alone one of the many exploiting that event as a means to push my “agenda”. What I’m responding to is someone else’s claims to the value of prayer, as if it would not only help in the aftermath of that event but that it could have prevented it. Such claims are made all the time after such tragedies and sometimes a tragedy isn’t even necessary so let me repeat that I’m not trying to respond to or exploit the terrible event. I’m responding to this ridiculous claim about the effects of prayer

Prayer has nothing to do with morals. Prayer is a tool that nearly all religions use to artificially make the helpless feel less so. It is not proactive, and it certainly is not going to help someone suffering a mental illness. In fact, it could very well inflame and exacerbate one’s mental illness. There are no shortages of sad stories where the mentally unstable acted against others under some delusional belief in deities and other supernatural beliefs, therefore introducing the mentally ill to such beliefs and encouraging them to engage in rituals, especially when such rituals are alleged to have real world effects, is incredibly reckless and dangerous.

Evil is not a thing. It’s not an entity. People do, or are a party to things we may consider evil everyday. They may not even be aware that they are doing so. It’s a fact of life that bad things happen and we all would like to assign blame and find meaning in it all but there really isn’t any. We can each look at things like this and use it as a motivator for positive change, which would be great, but there’s no inherent meaning in such things. No entity of evil which must be warded off through silly indulgences into supernatural beliefs and rituals.

In Corinthians it says when I was a child I thought and acted as a child but when I became a man I put away childish things. Believing in supernatural entities, good or evil, and participating in magical rituals because you believe they’ll affect the world are the thoughts and actions of a child. To truly affect the world and cause positive change, we need to think and act as adults and put away such childish things.

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Believer Brain Twisting

brain twister

Occasionally I get sucked into posts that my Google alerts find me, and recently I got sucked into this one. I think what may annoy me the most about religious postings is the attempt to justify belief through logic. The post is about the Ontological argument of St. Anselm. Aside from the amusement of the argument and the author’s attempt to explain it is his all too quick retreat, when questioned, to two of the most common religious cop-outs, the link to someone else who explains it better and my favorite, “you just need faith.” When you can’t adequately explain something yourself, then that’s a problem and calls into question why you should believe something that you can’t explain. When the only real way to believe something is to use faith however, then that should be a red light.

The author claims the argument is a brain twister. The only brain twisting is done by the believer who tries, against all reason, to make this failed argument support their belief. If you don’t come to the argument already believing what it tries to prove, then it’s quite a simple and easily dismissable argument. It does beg the question why, if one already believes, that they’d need this “proof”. Is faith not enough? The author said, “Reason, for all its wonder, has its limit and can become rationalization. It needs faith, like faith need it.” It appears to me that it’s faith, for all its wonder, that has its limit and requires reason. When it can’t get it, it resorts to rationalizations, and those rationalizations can be quite brain twisting.

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Religion Immunization

A new study published in Science (I became aware of it via Gizmodo) shows it could be possible to block the emotional recording of a memory. Lots of interesting possibilities for such a thing, but imagine if this were a pill and you took it prior to some religious event. The root of religious subscription is irrationality, in other words emotional appeal, and most proselytizing and apologetics target your emotions. Imagine if someone either has no emotional response or at least that response isn’t recorded into memory.

The joke about modern atheists is we’re like Vulcans or robots, cold and emotionless. Obviously that’s not true (I’m a prime example). The fact is some people are more successful at evaluating things objectively, minimizing any irrational influences such as emotions as much as possible. It’s not easy and can be very difficult at times. It demands commitment and strong will. For many it’s too elusive, so now there could be a pill.

I’m also thinking about this as a children’s chewable, perfect for those inescapable religious exposures like weddings, funerals, or random jackasses they may encounter at school holding prayers, religious assemblies, displays and what not. No pill yet for removing the need for religion, but this could be preventive medicine.

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Pity Nick Zuccarello

Why should anyone have to pity a talented artist who’s been employed as such for over a decade? Because he’s in the grips of an ugly self indulgence and his indulgence is anything but a mere self indulgence.

Everyone reading this likely has at least one self indulgence. Maybe it’s chocolate. Maybe it’s fatty food. Maybe it’s gambling. Maybe it’s alcohol, pot, etc, but there’s a difference between a purely self indulgence and one where the indulgence can negatively impact others. For instance, we have laws against driving under the influence and for good reason. Just last month a cop was killed in Philly by a drunk driver. There’s having a drink or two in the privacy of your own home and then there’s hitting the road inebriated and putting others’ lives at risk. There’s having a friendly wager and then gambling your family’s savings away.

Nick’s indulgence is faith, some form of Christianity. Now like other indulgences, as long as its merely a personal self indulgence there’s no need for concern. Yeah, you can argue that self harm is worth concern but I think everyone should have the freedom to be self destructive if that’s their choice, provided it doesn’t adversely affect others. Lots of people are comforted by religious beliefs, a good stiff drink, what have you. To each their own I say, but just don’t let it negatively affect others. Nick, sadly, can’t keep his indulgence to himself.

Here is a “gift” from Nick on his blog, a very nice model. However, it’s not entirely a gift because he uses it as a tool to proselytize. In fact, he uses his entire blog for that purpose. What computer graphics and faith indulgence have in common, I don’t know. It’s as disparate as talking about politics, food, sports or anything else non-CG in a CG context, but the issue is bigger than just an oddly superfluous addition to a CG blog. The issue is using the CG blog as a vehicle, a mask if you will, for proselytizing and the negative impact of doing that.

Where do I begin? First of all, even for those apathetic towards religion it comes off as, at best, odd and at worst, a turn off. It risks alienating people who otherwise might participate more on the blog or seek collaborations. Should he find himself out of work (CG business are going tits up and/or outsourcing more and more these days), such a reputation for being unable to divorce his self indulgence from his work may hurt his employment opportunities. Talent alone can’t always save you. The nature of CG work is very long hours working in close proximity with others. Perhaps it shouldn’t but one’s personality, specifically their ability to get along with others, plays an important part in hiring. If you can’t divorce your indulgences from your work, that’s problematic. It’s far worse when that indulgence impacts your behavior to the point where you become angry, bitter, manipulative, vindictive and confrontational. If you scroll through the comments in the link above, you see that happening.

Some who indulge in religion happily can indulge without a care what others think or whether others indulge as well or not. The satisfaction they get from their indulgence is not dependent upon others, and they certainly don’t need to affect others in order to maximize the satisfaction they get from their indulgence. Nick is not one of these people. He, unfortunately, is the type who needs others to indulge with him and to buy into the delusions of his indulgence. For some reason, his type can’t get full satisfaction from their indulgence if others aren’t indulging as well, ESPECIALLY if there are those who openly refuse to indulge and even criticize the indulgence, thus he must taint his CG blog with Christian proselytizing, but it gets worse. This unfortunate condition then compels him to lash out at others. I find this pitiful.

Also pitiful is how in order to maintain full satisfaction from his delusional indulgence, he must reframe the reality of others’ objections to his actions and his indulgence to satisfy the “reality” of his delusional indulgence. For instance, atheists aren’t atheists because there’s no evidence for a god but rather they’re “angry with God”. Anger at his god and other believers must be a character flaw stemming from some bad past. Atheism is a religion, too. And of course as we’ve seen countless times before with indulger blogs like those of Christian indulgers, Nick must censor opposition comments. Pitiful.

I must repeat at this time that I don’t care what people indulge in, as long as their indulgences don’t affect others. Nick can’t help negatively affecting others as a result of his indulgence, and for that I pity him.

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Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children

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