I’ve been writing about morality and its relationship to religion for quite a while. Let’s take a brief journey through my past articles before we get into my latest observations…
December 22, 2014: “Your devotion to your faith should not lead you to cover up evil, in some misguided attempt to retain dignity for the religion as a whole.”
May 27, 2015: “Despite what [the Duggars]–or their apologists–might claim, their particular religion is not all about forgiveness for sinners. It is specifically focused on patriarchal control; the “forgiveness for sinners” argument is just a convenient way to gloss over the crimes of the male leaders.”
This is not a Lego set. I don’t even have instructions for building it. To create this Porsche 911 Turbo, I found a design someone else did online, built it with my own modifications in Lego’s digital designer program, and then ordered all the pieces individually. I then put it together differently with some extra pieces from my box of loose Lego bricks.
I love creating things. It’s the reason I wrote somewhere around 1.5 million words of fiction in about two years, before I got a full time job. Lately I haven’t done as much writing, but I have been creating other things. Some are major ongoing projects, which I’ll write about as I finish them. To kick off the series, though, here are several simpler things I recently created.
There’s an old quote I’m reminded of right now: “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a Bible.”
I’ve been calling out various Republican policies as fascist since well before the 2016 presidential race even began, but Donald Trump took it to the next level. They have now checked the boxes, at least ideologically, on every major feature characterizing the regimes that defined fascism. Let’s take a look at eleven issues, and the policies and statements that put Trump and his enablers firmly in the realm of the fascism they’ve long been drifting toward.
In retrospect, science for me was more like the blinding sunlight that made everything clear after logic drop-kicked me out the door.
I’ve been through some shit. Some of it I’ve mentioned on this blog, some I only share with close friends, and some I never talk about.
In the particular strain of Christianity that produced me, every single thing that happens is said to be planned by god, and thus either caused or permitted by him in order to achieve his desired results. So, perhaps in an effort to encourage me, religious friends and family would often take that shit and try to paint a happy little picture with it. God’s teaching you this, or that, or he’s doing his generic “making you a better person” thing.
I have to say, it seems a little counterproductive for such a god to teach me that he isn’t real.
I don’t weigh in much on the issue of abortion. I’m not sure why, but I did write a pro-life paper in college before I came to my senses. You could call me pro-life still, I suppose, but it means something much different. I am literally in favor of life; I think it’s a cool thing that should be protected from needless harm.
But not all living things are equal. It’s helpful to distinguish between different meanings of the word before we attempt to have an argument. When we talk about life, are we including plants? Insects? Or are we talking about something else?
I have to ask conservative pro-life people what they mean when they refer to a human life, the ending of which would be morally wrong. What sort of criteria can we use to distinguish between a human life and a sample of living human tissue? Or in other words, how do we distinguish dead people from living people? Obviously a severed foot, even if it’s fresh enough that the cells are still mostly alive, is not a human life, though it’s both human and alive. But what about a complete human body? What can we test to see if it’s alive or not?
It seems to me that religion started out as a simple system of government, so the leaders could keep order in a community that outgrew familial bonds. This probably would have happened about the time we developed agriculture, or made some discovery that allowed large populations to concentrate into a small area. With larger populations comes a need for some shared system of values to tie them together, because in such a community everyone is dependent on everyone else.
The people most likely to take charge would be those who were best at creating a compelling narrative and manipulating emotions, so naturally tall tales were spread of superhuman feats in order to elevate the status of the leaders. Over time people started to believe the legends, but if the heroes were dead then who would lead them? When a beloved leader died, it wouldn’t be uncommon for multiple people to claim his place, which could trigger devastating division in the community.
Enter the gods. They could explain so much that we didn’t understand, like where the sun went at night and what caused the wind. And by virtue of being imaginary, they could transcend the mortal life and provide a long-lasting authority figure for the nation’s descendants. Tall tales stuck around, of course, merely attributing the great feats of men to the assistance of gods. Or in some cases, like ancient Egypt and Christianity, the men were the gods.