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December 02, 2021


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“Like the humorist Fran Lebowitz, I don't believe in anything you have to believe in.”

……….Nicely put! I'm going to steal that thought, perhaps even that wording.

(I can see this ...this motto, running into some trouble because there's a great deal that science has uncovered that we, as individuals, don't necessarily grasp entirely; but of course, at least potentially people are free, more or less, to bring themselves up to speed on whichever individual areas draw their interest, even if not all of them all at once. As long as we're content not to split hair over nuances, absolutely, that makes for a lovely and pithy motto!)


“ "Progress" is shorthand for a set of pushbacks and victories wrung out of an unforgiving universe, and is a phenomenon that needs to be explained. …The explanation is rationality.”

“Progress consists of more than gains in safety and material well-being. It consists also in gains of how we treat each other: in equality, benevolence, and rights.”

“The power of rationality to guide moral progress is of a piece with its power to guide material progress and wise choices in our lives. Our ability to eke increments of well-being out of a pitiless cosmos and to be good to others despite our flawed nature depends on grasping impartial principles that transcend our parochial experience. …We are a species that has been endowed with an elementary faculty of reason and that has discovered formulas and institutions that magnify its scope. They awaken us to ideas and expose us to realities that confound our intuitions but are true for all that.”

……….Great insights, and beautifully expressed.

“Like the humorist Fran Lebowitz:
´I don't believe in anything you have to believe in.”

Great really!!
Especially in this period of time!!
In my body no experimental Jab......



I just discovered an interesting site that makes the argument for why religious ideation can lead to exploitation and abuse. https://gurumag.com/

Pretty interesting reading. RS Exers can perhaps take heart that they chose Charan and YB:

Since no one else is interested or willing, I thought I might as well provide actual evidence that religion can sometimes be harmful.

As for this latest essay, the argument that "rationality" as opposed to religion leads to "moral progress" is simply sophistry, or at least so broad as to be all but meaningless. Rationality and morality have no objective meaning or specific definition.

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

Science didn't create that.

Yet it is the most enlightened morality in human history.

Here is another..
"Love your neighbor as you love yourself... Even your neighbor in another land."

Humanity still struggles to achieve even this.

Even with all our technological achievements.

Our world today is on the brink of disaster so directly to the unsustainable and damaging use of technology.

Long ago a terrorist could kill a handful.

Now, thanks to automatic weapons, they can kill dozens... And with nuclear weapons, a bomb that once may have killed a dozen can now kill tens of thousands.

We have technology that saves lives and technology that takes even more.

We have technology that has economically enslaved 80% of the world.

And technology that opens the door to education and economic opportunity in practically every square inch of the world, wherever a wifi signal can be found.

Thanks to technology, a city under siege of a deadly virus is now a threat to the whole world.

Technology is both a blessing and a curse and the difference is the morality of the individuals shaping it.

But that morality has no higher standards than those set many millenia ago in spiritual teachings.

At best science has been led by spiritual, not religous or material sentiment.

And when we look to the most brutal tyrants, Stalin, Hitler, Amin, even Robbespiere sending thousands to the guillotine, they share a common atheist view.

Rationality leads to progress and morality

Religion is an absurd idea created to control the massess for the selfish endless needs of the ego ridden high and mighty.

Gurinder Singh Dhillion sets the stage here again, we can see the self interest phenomena in action where everything and everyone in the Radha Soami Cult work for the fruition of this evil nasty virus religious cult to spread worldwide so no one can escape this malicious manipulating cult.

Gurinder himself works day n night to fulfil his dream of this family orientated business so called RSSB. Siphoning millions and benefitting himself handsomely.

Whilst leaving others out of pocket and some in prison in the making.

The welfare of others is of no concern here its all about a devious dream of dhillions

Morality doesn't even have a chance to exsist where Gurinder Singh Dhillion steps in.

How can you Expose the Exposed!

Science isn't the cause of rational thinking.

It is the result of it.

But what is the cause of rational thinking.?

A calm, balanced mind at peace.

A mind that accepts its current condition.

A mind that is compassionate to all, that sees beauty in all, Beggar and rich, ugly and beautiful, incomplete and complete.

Free of anger.

Free of attachment.

Free of desire to take, to own, even to build material wealth.

A mind that sees the balance in all things.

A mind that sees progress as natural and inherent in all things.

A mind that finds pleasure in understanding.

A mind conditioned by deep meditation.

That mind is rational, and scientific inquiry comes to it naturally.

Objectivity and balance come to it naturally.

Sorry, Spence. Stalin was an atheist but not the others.

Adolf Hitler:
"In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. ...Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed his blood upon the Cross."

Idi Amin:
"I am leading a quiet life and committed to my religion, Islam, and Allah. I don't have problems with anyone."

Maximilien Robespierre:
“The day forever fortunate has arrived, which the French people have consecrated to the Supreme Being. Never has the world which He created offered to Him a spectacle so worthy of His notice. He has seen reigning on this earth tyranny, crime and imposters. He sees at this moment a whole nation, grappling with all the oppressions of the human race, suspend the course of its heroic labours to elevate its thoughts and vows toward the great Being who has given it the mission it has undertaken and the strength to accomplish it…
He did not create kings to devour the human race. He did not create priests to harness us, like vile animals to the chariots of kings; and to give to the world examples of baseness, pride, perfidy, avarice, debauchery, and falsehood. He created the universe to proclaim His power. He created men to help each other, to love each other mutually, and to attain to happiness by the way of virtue…
Republican Frenchmen, it is yours to purify the earth which they have soiled, and to return the justice that they have banished! Liberty and virtue together came from the breast of Divinity. Neither can abide with mankind without the other…
The monster which the genius of kings had vomited over France has gone back into nothingness… Frenchmen, you war against kings; you are therefore worthy to honour Divinity… Hatred of bad faith and tyranny burns in our hearts, with love of justice and the fatherland. Our blood flows for the cause of humanity. Behold our prayer. Behold our sacrifices. Behold the worship we offer Thee.”

"Few people today feel the need, or could muster the ability, to formulate a coherent argument on why slavery is wrong, or public disembowelment, or the beating of children; it's just obvious. Yet exactly those debates took place centuries ago. And the arguments that prevailed, when they are brought to our attention today, continue to ring true. They appeal to a sense of reason that transcends the centuries, because they conform to principles of conceptual consistency that are part of reality itself."

Yes, those debates took place centuries ago. However, life was actually not the same centuries ago, and so the claim that there's "a sense of reason that transcends the centuries" is moot..

Take slavery, which was common in the ancient world and even up through the Middle Ages. Most societies across the globe practices some form of slavery at some time. Were people back then simply irrational and cruel?

No, because ancient slavery consisted of a mixture of debt-slavery, punishment for crime, prisoners of war, child abandonment, and children born to slaves, and this was the best (ie most rational) policy of the time.

If a tribe to the east invaded your homeland with the intent to annihilate your tribe, and your tribe defeated them, would it make sense from a survival standpoint to send the survivors of the battle back to their own homeland with a pat on the back? To reform their forces and try to conquer you again? Hell no. You spare their lives but keep them where you can control them. At the time this was the only "rational" option.

And we do the same thing today, except we build prisons and lock up people who try to hurt us. We just don't require work of them anymore, and we don't call them slaves. But the same rationale is used today as in ancient times. That is, people who are a danger to your idea of harmonious society don't get to keep their freedom.

So much for all of the hullabaloo over the Bible condoning slavery. What was the alternative? There was no feasible alternative at that time. Prisons of war became slaves because it was the most rational and humane policy.

So the "sense of reason that transcends the centuries" indeed exists, but it's always relative to a society's ability to provide alternatives.

Let us note that sometimes these supposedly enlightened and humane alternatives don't work, such as the move to abolish bail for violent offenders. Quiet a few people in just that last month have died because of that "rationale" policy.

Hi Umami
Thanks for acknowldging that Stalin was indeed an Atheist.

As for Adolph Hitler, he was known to tell a lie or two (his self - justifying vversion of "facts") and was quite proud of it. He called it Propaganda. From Mein Kampf..

"The art of propaganda lies in understanding the emotional ideas of the great masses and finding, through a psychologically correct form, the way to the attention and thence to the heart of the broad masses."


As for his actual beliefs about divinity, he denied the divinity of Christ.

" Hitler and the Nazi party promoted "Positive Christianity",[13] a movement which rejected most traditional Christian doctrines such as the divinity of Jesus, "....

" In his private diaries, Goebbels wrote in April 1941 that though Hitler was "a fierce opponent" of the Vatican and Christianity, "he forbids me to leave the church. For tactical reasons."

Bullock wrote that Hitler believed neither in "God nor conscience", but found both "justification and absolution" in a view of himself echoing Hegel's view that heroes were above conventional morality, and that the role of "world-historical individuals" as the agents by which the "Will of the World Spirit", the plan of Providence is carried out. Following his early military successes, Hitler "abandoned himself entirely to megalomania" and the "sin of hubris", an exaggerated self-pride, believing himself to be more than a man.[24] Once the war was over, wrote Bullock, Hitler wanted to root out and destroy the influence of the churches, though until then he would be circumspect for political reasons:

'In Hitler's eyes, Christianity was a religion fit only for slaves; he detested its ethics in particular. Its teaching, he declared, was a rebellion against the natural law of selection by struggle and the survival of the fittest.'

— Alan Bullock, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny


As for Robespierre, he rejected all beliefs and simply created his own religion for political purposes. That would hardly constitue submission to a higher power.

In short, when someone does not believe in the existence of a power or intellect greater than their own, when there is nothing and no one they love more than themselves, I suggest that this could be considered a defines atheism.

@ Spence [ Bullock wrote that Hitler believed neither in "God nor conscience", but found both "justification and absolution" in a view of himself echoing Hegel's view that heroes were above conventional morality, and that the role of "world-historical individuals" as the agents by which the "Will of the World Spirit", the plan of Providence is carried out. ]

Interestingly, on recovering from the July 20 plot, Hitler reportedly
viewed its failure as a validation and used "Providence" three times
in his triumphal address to the German people:


Such are the delusional "mis-reads" of Providence by both religious and
irreligious alike. Hitler was dead less than a year later. Stauffenberg was
seemingly more attuned to Providence. When asked the chances for the
success of his assassination attempt, he responded "fifty-fifty".

"...when there is nothing and no one they love more than themselves..."


When one finds oneself resorting to strawmen in order to bolster one's argument, perhaps there's something lacking in that argument? Certainly some lack generally speaking; but more importantly, some lack even in how that argument holds up for one's own self? Because why else this need to set up strawmen?


To spell this out very very very clearly:

Not to believe in a God, in the absence of compelling evidence for that God, is not to "love nothing and no one more than oneself". The atheist may well love other individual/s, that is to say, specific other people, more than oneself; and/or they may, even, love humanity in general more than oneself; and/or they may love some idea or some ideology more than oneself; hell, they may even love the quest for truth itself, including a quest for understanding as best one can if there's a God, more than oneself. Or, of course, not, depending on the individual atheist.

Nor is it the case, at all, that to believe in a God is necessarily to love that God more than oneself. It is entirely possible, even, for a theist to fully believe in God, and yet "love nobody and nothing more than themselves". Or, of course, not, depending on the individual theist.


By all means believe in your God, if that belief appears reasonable to you personally, and/or if that makes you happy. No one is stopping you from doing that. There is no need to vilify the position of the atheist in order to do that.

Your concern that what we love and what we believe in can be completely separate may have validity, given the range of human psychology.

But I suggest that belief in divinity generally comes with an acknowldgement that such divinity is superior in every way. And hence a natural desire to understand and submit to that divinity follows in the psychology of the true believer of spirituality.

Where we find tyrants making public statements of their loyalty to the divine, but shape their man - made god to their tastes, desires and political ambitions, or shape the god they claim is believed by their opponents as a demon, there is no actual sincere belief in any divinity but only in oneself, and the divinity and demons created in that mind.

The true believer is on a path of discovery, not manipulation ; a means to touch a higher wisdom, a higher love than oneself, and benefit all by doing so.

That is real belief and submission to God, it seems to me. And anyone who holds that belief may be unable to even call it God, given how little we understand at this level. Doing that speaks highly in favor of their submission to a higher authority.

So the true believer who dare not even speak the word God for fear of presumption is the true servant of God.

And the false believer who creates a convenient man - made icon of God, and another to overlay other competing beliefs as demonic, all for political advantage, is the true Atheist.

"And the false believer who creates a convenient man - made icon of God, and another to overlay other competing beliefs as demonic, all for political advantage, is the true Atheist."


Then aren't most people true atheists? What do they worship but concepts, symbols, representations? Mental icons, in other words, for political advantage on the small scale--family, business or community. How else could politicians and preachers get away with it?

"So the true believer who dare not even speak the word God for fear of presumption is the true servant of God."

Indeed. Even if the speaker has direct experience, he risks reinforcing the listener's false concept. Absolutely. No more of that word or its surrogates!

"... Then aren't most people true atheists? ..." (Posted by: umami | December 05, 2021 at 07:18 PM)

As are most people true a-Scotsmen!

"Hi AR
Your concern that what we love and what we believe in can be completely separate may have validity, given the range of human psychology."

..........There's that, sure, Spence, but that isn't what I'd said, or meant. Our exchange immediately preceding was clear enough, surely. You'd suggested, goodness knows why, that one defining feature of an atheist --- and as opposed to a theist --- is that they love nobody and nothing more than themselves; and what's more, your tone suggested that this is a bad thing (because you were saying this in the context of people like Stalin, and Hitler, and Monsieur Guillotine). Whereupon what I did was to point out, in very clear terms, how entirely mistaken such a POV is. Whether an atheist loves anyone or anything more than themselves depends entirely on the individual atheist and has nothing to do with atheism per se, just as whether a theist loves anyone or anything more than themselves is a function of what kind of person that individual theist is, and has nothing to do with theism per se. I had spelt this out clearly enough, but if you wish to discuss this further, if you wish to make my case, obvious though it is, with specific examples, well then that's done easily enough, if you ask me to.

And although whether or not one loves other people or other things more than oneself is a function not of one's theism or of one's theism, but that apart, nor is it necessarily a bad thing not to love other people and other things more than oneself. While that kind of a personality will probably not be given to heroics, in the positive sense, but nor will they, probably, be given to evil. This point too I won't belabor now, because it seems so very obvious, and because it seems only tangentially related to the discussion about (a)theism, but I'll be happy to do that if you ask me to, even though this discussion would effectively be a derail off a derail off a derail, albeit for all that not necessarily uninteresting.

I suggest that in defining theism as you do in that last comment of yours addressed to me --- and in defining atheism as the opposite of that kind of theism --- what you're doing is simply projecting. You're projecting your own ideals and your own perceptions on to theists in general, which is entirely and wholly fallacious.

I'm not criticizing you. I find your brand of theism gentle and accommodating and, broadly speaking, tolerant. Even though I find your theism not quite rational, but I've no objections to it, not only because your beliefs are no business of mine, but also because your position isn't at all toxic and harms no one. I was saying, I'm not criticizing the content of your projection, but I'm suggesting that you're wrong in projecting on to the mass of theists a subtlety and a nuance that is in general missing in their belief system. And further, to equate all theism other than your brand as "not really theism and therefore actually atheism" is a transparent, textbook instance of "No True Scotsman" thinking.

All of your comment there that you've addressed to me, in that comment: They're rather beautiful words, and express a rather beautiful sentiment. Even if I'm not necessarily in full agreement with that sentiment, but I find it beautiful and have no quarrel with it. But see those words in context of what I've just said above. My point is, you're projecting, and making up your own idiosyncratic definitions of theism and atheism here. At neither end is that definition correct.


My larger point, in entering this discussion on this thread at this point, is this: I was surprised to find you of all people, who are not generally given to this kind of thing, suddenly and so blatantly setting up this ridiculous strawman to vilify the position of the atheist. Theists are often given to doing that kind of thing, because that is the only way they can justify their risible and often toxic beliefs; but your own approach to theism is very different than that base level of theistic belief, which is why I was surprised enough to comment on this, and to suggest that you at least have no need to resort to such subterfuge to defend your position. Your personal subjective position, based on your personal experiences, even though I myself don't agree with it from where I stand, basically stands on its own feet and isn't really in need of that kind of subterfuge. Or so I thought, and thought to point out here, that's all. Like I said, no criticism implied here, beyond just that much.

You wrote
" Theists are often given to doing that kind of thing, because that is the only way they can justify their risible and often toxic beliefs;"

Hm. Then if Atheists stands on firmer ground why, as per your comment, do they indulge in the same? Why is it necessary to comment about others who hold different beliefs?

I suggest that neither atheism nor theism as single categories can really capture the full human range of sentiment.

Some folks love the world around and within them.

Others do not.

But each has a different experience as well.

And, AR
As for loving something more than ourselves, that would be something we find greater than ourselves. Atheists can fall in love with a political ideal.

I suggest that we redefine Atheist and theist.

If you believe in your own inventions and your own personality as greater than any others, I suggest that is Atheism.

And if you believe the world around us and within us has a greater intelligence and nobility than our own, that it is indeed our Teacher and we its student, then that to me seems to be a form of theism:submission to a higher authority. You can call that reality.

Hey, Spence. *waves*

I'm sorry, but your responses seem somewhat, I don't know, incoherent? We're clearly disagreeing about and arguing over, well, something, but it isn't very clear to me what that something is! What I've said was very clear. You'd presented a false claim about atheists, and set up a strawman; and I'd done three things: first, point out your strawman; and two, clearly explained why that was a strawman, even though it was kind of obvious; and three, suggested that regardless of what other theists might be given to doing, you probably have no need of that kind of subterfuge (which is, well, saying good things about you, vis-a-vis other theists!)

Now I've no clue why, but you insist on not addressing that single-point issue I'd raised, and instead keep raising all kinds of random issues that really have nothing to do with anything at all. I mean, hey, I clearly explained where I'm coming from, and if you're not comfortable with addressing that, well that's cool. I've no wish to force the issue. I'm backing off, so, like, you know, Peace?!


Just to address your last proposal about redefining theism and atheism, well, where on earth did that come from, that thought? It's pretty much weird, I have to say. First, because it is entirely pointless and uncalled for. And second, because it is incorrect.

It is pointless because we already have this word to describe the person who's basically all wrapped up around his own self and his own ideas and his own whatnot: such a person would be an egotist. Perfectly cromulent word that, "egotist".

And besides, your suggested definitions are entirely wrong. If for some reason we decided to use your new definitions, then we'd have to rack our brains to think up new words to do duty for what "theist" and "atheist" describe at this time. What on earth would be the point of that?


Finally, what do people love more than themselves? You seem to have a curious view about this. This seems straightforward enough to me, for theist and atheist alike. Obvious though this seems to me, perhaps I should just spell it out:

1) People, theist and atheist alike, sometimes love other people more than themselves. A husband, maybe, or a wife, or a lover; one's children; one's parents, maybe; friends, maybe; perhaps some mentor; maybe even idol/s one may not directly know. Just some categories here, add in any other I might have left out. My point is, this clearly #1 in the list, because the first thing most people would think of when you speak of loving something more than your own self, would be other people, that is, specific individuals in one's life. Sure, not every one has people in their lives that they love more than themselves, but very many do. Absolutely, it is very much a thing.

2) Some ideology. That's probably the #2 category, right after individuals. That includes one's politics, but it needn't be limited to politics.

3) One's tribal identity. Like one's country maybe. (Of course, there's some overlap here --- for instance between this category and ideology and also politics --- but these are all separate categories, IMV. Think of them like a Venn diagram, intersecting circles, but different circles nevertheless.)

4) What one does. Maybe one's profession. Maybe some hobby. It's possible to be committed to such more than one is to one's own self, so that in effect one loves that more than oneself.

5) Yep, God. Above and beyond religion, I suppose the mystic can actually love God more than themselves. Regardless of whether this is some kind of delusion, nevertheless, as far as our limited purpose here of simply noting down categories, sure, this is a thing.

6) But nor is #5 above restricted to God-believers or theists. Like I'd very briefly mentioned earlier, it is possible for an atheist to actually be drawn to this quest, and love this quest, more than themselves. Indeed, to even love the content of what they are seeking, and/or what they've discovered, and/or what they experience.

So that, while I've put #5) and #6) in separate Venn circles, nevertheless they actually relate to the same thing, a thing that is very distinct from religion per se. And that thing is not predicated on one's belief in a God, at all. Rather than discuss this last at length, it might be easier to present a particularly apt example that illustrates what I mean: the Buddha! At both stages of mystical journey: both when he was a seeker, and also when and after he'd finally found what he was seeking. Here's a man who's clearly an atheist, in as much he does not believe there's a God (as in, *soft* atheist); and yet you'll be hard pressed to find a better example of this kind of love, search as you might amongst theistic mystics.

So that, it seems very weird indeed to even think of an atheist as "someone who loves nothing more than himself", and it seems not just unnecessary, but actually entirely inexplicable, why you would even think of redefining atheism along those lines.


Anyway, that last, although obvious, was kind of food for thought, so I guess thanks for bringing that up; but still, we're kind of arguing about random disjointed things at this point.

I've already spelt this out, that I'm not really criticizing your brand of theism, even while I don't myself subscribe to it. That strawman you'd suddenly put up out of nowhere seemed entirely out of place in that scheme of things, that's all.

Which is fine. A slip of the tongue, a misplaced comment: happens. No big deal.

(Although of course, if I'm misreading this, and you actually stand by that idea --- the idea that the atheist, unlike the atheist, tends to love nothing other than himself, and atheism can be thought of as actually defined by that trait --- then sure, that might make for interesting reading, if you'd like to discuss that clearly.)

Sorry, typo in that very last paragraph there: that part within the dashes should, obviously, read as follows:
" ... the idea that the atheist, unlike the THEIST, tends to love nothing ..."

You wrote
"Here's a man who's clearly an atheist, in as much he does not believe there's a God (as in, *soft* atheist); and yet you'll be hard pressed to find a better example of this kind of love, search as you might amongst theistic mystics."

Your understanding of Buddha is flawed if you believe he did not advocate for a greater understanding than his own thinking. Rather, he advocated moving consciousness beyond personal thinking to a higher stage of experience. A stage far greater than himself. A stage worthy of love and devotion. Indeed it is only going beyond the self and the suffering of the self that anyone can become genuinely compassionate. This is moving beyond the ignorance of one's own limited thinking to a very real place of understanding whose existence is more real than the illusion these little minds live in. Worship that. As Buddha did! Note the path he discovered is an ancient one. He didn't invent it. It already existed and was practiced.

"He is regarded as the founder of the world religion of Buddhism, and revered by Buddhists as an enlightened being,[8] who rediscovered an ancient path to freedom from ignorance, craving and the cycle of rebirth and suffering. He taught for around 45 years and built a large following, both monastic and lay.[9] His teaching is based on his insight into the arising of suffering or dissatisfaction and its ending—the state called Nirvana (lit. vanishing or extinguishing)."

"Your understanding of Buddha is flawed if you believe he did not advocate for a greater understanding than his own thinking."

.........Gods above, Spence, why on earth this unending parade of strawmen?

Sure, my understanding of the Buddha would be flawed if I believed he did not advocate for a greater understanding than his own thinking. But considering that I neither said nor implied anything of the kind, what does this have to do with anything at all?

As for this: "he advocated moving consciousness beyond personal thinking to a higher stage of experience. A stage far greater than himself. A stage worthy of love and devotion" --- Well, that's kind of exactly what I was referring to. My point is straightforward enough: You'd suggested atheists tend to love nothing more than themselves. Well, I pointed out many different types of love, that anyone, theist and atheist alike, may have, even more than their own selves (or not, depending on the individual). One of those many categories was the mystic's love for transcendental experiences, including God (without, at this time, getting into a discussion on the nature of these experiences, whether delusion or "real") --- and my point was, even this kind of love isn't exclusive to theists, and instead of lengthy discussion on this, I presented the example of the Buddha, as an instance of this kind of love that does not involve theism per se.

As for the rest of your comment, sure, I agree with all of it. Except, once more, I have no clue why you bring out yet another random point of disagreement with a construct of your own making (a strawman, in other words).

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