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  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Scott hasn't responded to the two key questions I posed here on March 13th - perhaps he's occupied elsewhere. But answers to them do seem to me prerequisite for further useful discussion on the subject, so I wonder whether anyone else would like to try? They were: 1. Please define the term "God." 2. Upon what premise do you base your reasoning for God's existence?
  • AtlasAikido's picture
    AtlasAikido 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Re: "At the same time I'm aware of priests and nuns who would put all of us here to shame in their willingness to sacrifice themselves and their well-being for others when the need has presented itself". Hi Sam, Pleading "shame" "sacrifice" and "selflessness" of self--and then others--as the moral good is the platform of collectivism and religion and the worship of authority that sociopaths use to control, placate and feed on the philosophically ignorant. Precisely what some have good reason to point out as unprofitable and unproductive i.e. "irrational". "Shaming" and "sacrificing" as a quasi moral standard of "humble" selflessness are NOT the equivalent to a fully integrated non-contradictory philosophy of living on earth such as Ayn Rand's "Philosophy Who Needs It?", "The Virtue of Selfishness" and objectivism nor as the source of progress via peaceful *self-interested trade* in the remnant free market (division of labor society) as pointed out at Mises.org, Lewrockwell.com and the author of "Laissez Faire Capitalism" Thomas DiLorenzo. As to the so-called virtue of "need"? I believe the principle of "Helping those who can't help themselves" which is a paraphrase of Karl Marx' famous dictum: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." is harmful even in a voluntary organization: "From the Mailbag" by Harry Browne http://www.lewrockwell.com/browne/browne15.html Best Regards, and I concur with the rest of your post, AtlasAikido
  • Suverans2's picture
    Suverans2 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    I will presume, JD, that you are referring to this question, "Where did those first "materials" come from, Jim?" If so, I anxiously await your answer, because I certainly don't know. ;)
  • Suverans2's picture
    Suverans2 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    G'day Allen, Perhaps you didn't notice the bold, all-caps, "IMO", which, I presume you know means "in my opinion". And, you are certainly entitled to yours as well, so, thank you for your opinion. Just out of curiosity, are you saying that "ridiculing someone's belief in a First Cause" is the same as "anti-religious speech"? And, though you are certainly, once again, entitled to your own belief as to whether there is/was a First Cause, what possible positive outcome do you expect to see from spouting "anti-religious speech"? There is an old sales idiom, "We lead with questions, we push with statements", which, IMO, can be very helpful.
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    I'm glad I became "libertarian" (to the angst of some of my family and others I love dearly). I can see more clearly than ever previously. You see, "libertarian" simply means one who practices liberty (not necessarily one who believes everyone else should practice liberty, or even believes everyone should have the "right" to practice liberty). I can see now that even here on this august forum there are many who want to believe this or that -- particularly having to do with "religion" or "state". And I'll agree wholeheartedly that religion and state have walked hand-in-glove throughout history committing the most egregious crimes against humanity imaginable. At the same time I'm aware of priests and nuns who would put all of us here to shame in their willingness to sacrifice themselves and their well-being for others when the need has presented itself. Thomas DiLorenzo had a good blog post over on Lew Rockwell this morning bringing the incestuous religion/government relationship into current prospective. But even the plebe of libertarians should understand that belief in G-d (or non belief for that matter) and "religion" are two separate issues, not to be confused. If an individual wants to espouse the idea that belief in a g-d is "irrational", be my guest. If an individual wants not to so believe, I'll not argue. Just so I understand that's what he wants to believe. I can respect his opinion while inwardly feeling he has no idea what he's talking about. I think a lot of that is going on here in this thread. So I'm going trucking. But before I go, I want to salute you, Paul, on an excellent topic. I seldom rate these essays "10", but I did this one. Those of us claiming to be "libertarians" should take heed to your premise, IMHO (which ain't very humble). Sam
  • Allen's picture
    Allen 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    One thing about this article, and the following thread, is that there seems to be some presumption that non-religious people simply antagonize believers without reason, rather than 1) doing what believers do (say, on the Internet) and post their thoughts, critiques, arguments, etc., on and of believers and their faith in response to such beliefs ; 2) engage in discussion as freely with believers as the believers themselves do. Time and again, I've seen believers comment on YouTube, in news forums, on web-sites and blogs of non-believers, engaging all on their own, with admitted non-believers, getting upset, angry, offended, and many, all the while, acting as if they've been attacked somehow. To them, to critique religion is to angrily attack it; to attack it is to personally harm. I'm not saying that there aren't a-hole non-believers out there, nor am I saying that none go out and aggressively engage believers in public, but the difference I've noticed is the siege mentality most believers exhibit in practice, regardless of what Colossians 4:5-6 may say to the matter, in context of Christianity. The notion of being attacked seems part and parcel of this religiosity, be it the Devil, heresy, "cultural Marxism," moral relativism," "paganism," witches, plurality, other religions, reason, science, sometimes politics, sometimes using politics to stymie such "attacks," and so on and so on. This notion of being under attack has been the case for centuries, even when Christianity was the state religion (ex: *Imperium Romanum Sacrum*)! My point is, that if believers are going to go out into the world, or online, and proselytize, they will be met with opposition, criticism, and denial of their claims. To demand, or even desire, the cessation of such opposition and criticism, seems to me a matter of great irresponsibility on their part. I have no problem with Christian neighbors and allies. I do have a problem when they desire a monologue supporting their faith and wail as if in pain upon disagreement. It's, well, simply un-neighborly.
  • AtlasAikido's picture
    AtlasAikido 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    I remember recently how thankful a young man was when I responded that he might want to read the following--I pulled up the article on my laptop at a cafe bar--when he questioned me about what appeared to him to be a contradiction regarding the issue of "time" and atheism: The "First Cause" article http://tinyurl.com/First-Cause-article •Objectivist Newsletter-Vol 1, No 5, May 1962, page 19 •Having trouble grasping the phrase "Existence Exists"? Grappling with the "God" problem? HERE is the article that fixed those problems for me--it might just be the one for you. The young man remarked that he had been "surounded all his life" by those who had NO idea of such thinking and that he felt wonderfully freed and relieved of those who were UNaware, UNconvinced or UNable to reason such thru. And that he was now clear about how "time" and other factors played against such things as belief in gods. Good for him. I concur. He also remarked that the way I came at this issue was such that I actually addressed his questions and concerns as opposed to the "dehumanizing-people-is-fun" that he was accustomed to ALL his life from those who see themselves as blessed and unquestioned authorities of faith (belief without the need of reason)...
  • Irb's picture
    Irb 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    The only reason I got an account on STR, after reading for 5 or more years, was to give props to Mr. Bonneau for what I see as a very good piece. As a Christian Anarchist (Capitalist) I get a funny look from fellow Christians--though not all--because I have no belief in government (save self-government). The difference between Mr. Davies irrational belief in government (agreed) and an irrational belief in God (disagreed) is God isn't forcing us to kill, steal and destroy. We should deal with the clear and present danger of government. To make a comparison to Mr. Bonneau's argument: If I, an Anarchist, were also a racist and made fun of anyone who wasn't white; and I also tried to win persons to Anarchism, how much weight could I throw? How serious would other people take me? Hey, I once was that person. I believe that not just "religious" persons is appropriate but many different persons can be considered when trying to "sell" Anarchism. I, personally, find it tough to talk to the whining left. Every other word out of their mouth is "feel". "I feel these people should be taken care of because they...." I don't "feel" in apolitical conversation, I "think". But I cant just make fun of them. It will run them off. Mr. Bonneau, Kudos.
  • Allen's picture
    Allen 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    "From that position, I question how anyone can firmly believe in the "supernatural" or firmly disbelieve in it. Both require faith. I choose to not have faith in either direction, but I completely understand those who do, and they just may be correct." Perhaps it depends upon what one means by "nature." The term has a fuzzy history of usage which depends upon the perspective and context of usage, and the values of those using it. It's hardly points toward anything "self-evident." Are we speaking of nature as being similar to, or even synonymous with, other concepts such as "existence," "reality," "the universe?" Are we speaking of "matter" as opposed to "spirit," or one of the derivative dichotomies such as "the true world/appearance," "essence/contingency" "Being/becoming," "The Absolute/relative" etc.,? Are we only speaking of the non-human "environment," as in "man versus nature?" This isn't a definitive list by any means, only illustrative of the elasticity of "nature" is as a concept. All of these have underlying presuppositions, though I'd say the first has less precisely because of its vague generality, and it's probably the one I'd prefer over the others.
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    If you don't mind, S2, since i was the one first to pose the question (to Scott) about premises - along with one about the definition of "God" - I'll await his reply before possibly naming mine.
  • tzo's picture
    tzo 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Well, if I'm going to allow for all possibilities, including intelligent creators, then I guess I have to accept the possibility of concrete answers to these questions, but I don't really see how. Science and the scientific method are dependent upon observation and repeatability. Will science ever create its own universes? Perhaps. That still doesn't account for this one, however. Deductive arguments are valid or invalid, sound or unsound. They are not true or false. When someone someday claims to have the answer to how the universe came to be or what happens after death, my statement will be "Prove it." I cannot comprehend (again, perhaps that's my shortcoming) how I may be presented with evidence for my senses to evaluate that would allow me to say "You are correct. There is no other possible answer." Anyway, I only have a few years left on this spinning place, and am quite willing to call the chances of me ever having concrete answers to these questions as being zero, and that doesn't bother me at all. From that position, I question how anyone can firmly believe in the "supernatural" or firmly disbelieve in it. Both require faith. I choose to not have faith in either direction, but I completely understand those who do, and they just may be correct. For all the rationality we try to impose on the world, it seems the deeper you dig toward the fundamental aspects of being, the more irrational things become. The one thing we can hypothesize from this is that the universe has a great sense of humor.
  • Allen's picture
    Allen 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    "Ridicule" is very subjective, and I think it is a stretch, a huge stretch, to say that it actually hurts people. How has the one who ridicules harmed the believer or their property in any demonstrable way? It may anger the latter. It may offend them. It may not be the best choice in forming alliances, being a good neighbor, and so on. But harm? I think that is a dubious claim. Are we to curtail 'anti-religious' speech? How is that to be done without the threat of force?
  • Allen's picture
    Allen 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Dictionaries are helpful to some extent, but you must remember that all language is conceptual. Words are concepts and all words are defined by other words. Words can only point toward existing objects (aka "things." I usually use these terms interchangeably) or other concepts. I don't see any other choice. If "cause" is a noun, this means it is a person, place, thing or idea. I think we can say that "idea" is a synonym for "concept." So, that leaves us with a person, place or thing; here, we are simply saying that things (including those things called "persons") exist somewhere. All things exist somewhere in relation to other things. So, in using "cause" as a noun we only have the choice between a concept (idea) or object. It is clear that "cause" has no identifiable features, no shape of its own, no body-in-place, so it cannot point us to any thing/object. As to "cause" being an event, we need to ask ourselves what constitutes an "event." An event is clearly not a thing, but another concept denoting things in motion and the concept of time. An event has a beginning and an end, things move and change. An event is a temporal, and therefore, relational *activity* between things. It is brought into a "unity" only within the concept of time, which, in turn, is dependent upon things in motion. "Cause," being a concept, cannot act on it's own since a concept cannot move a thing. Only things in motion can move other things, and *we* call this activity amongst things "cause". This is one reason why the "First Cause" or "Un-caused cause" argument doesn't really say anything, since it violates the very *relationship* between things a "cause' is supposed to denote for us. In other words it is saying "Something comes from nothing" and postulated an "active nothing." This is the irrational step Christianity took when they made Aristotle's concept of "Prime mover" into their "First Cause" or "Creator." Now, I don't mean this as an attack on him, but it appears Mr. Bonneau believes this type of discussion is irrelevant to the notion of "harm" to oneself. I'm not so certain of this, particularly given the insistence of most people to reify concepts, and *act* according to the valuation inherent in such a reification. This is particularly the case in the terms of moralizing evangelical movements, be they states and/or religions intent on conversion, by hook or by crook. People act according to what and how they value things and concepts, if someone believes another lie outside of "true religion," the dehumanization has already taken place . At any rate, I remain skeptical of such any irrelevance of this fact in the matter at hand. -Regards
  • Suverans2's picture
    Suverans2 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    G'day Jim Davies, I am reminded of the old joke about the devil telling God that he did a terrible job of creating man, so God asked him if he thought he could do better. The devil quickly answered, "Sure". So, God told him to have at it. The devil grabs up some carbon, some water etc. and starts to start, but God stops him, and says, "Hold on their boy, use your own materials." Where did those first "materials" come from, Jim? That aside, "ridicule" ("That species of writing which excites contempt[1]..." ), besides being a bad way to "win friends and influence people", as Paul Bonneau correctly pointed out, also, IMO, violates the N.A.P. in that it hurts individuals who have caused you no hurt...well, unless you consider beliefs that conflict with your own, "hurtful". ______________________________________________ [1] "This word [contempt] is one of the strongest expressions of a mean opinion which the language affords." ~ Noah Webster (c.1828)
  • Suverans2's picture
    Suverans2 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Welcome Allen, Check this out, it's the number one definition from Macmillan Dictionary cause noun▸an event, thing, or person that makes something happen
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Good, Allen. There's another aspect of the "first cause" argument worth mentioning: some theists use it to "prove" that there must be one; ie, that that since everything has a cause, back at the start (they do assume there was a start) there must be a god to have been that first cause. The irony is that there is no cause proposed from which god resulted; hence, they "prove" the existence of a first cause by proposing an entity that has no cause. Paul urged us not to ridicule religion, but this is one of many reasons that make his good advice quite hard to take.
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Tzo, I was surprised by "Here's a fact: No one is ever going to be able to explain how the universe got here and what happens to a human being after he dies. No answers, sorry." We cannot at present, obviously (though Christians will emphatically disagree.) But, never, ever? Sure? It becomes ever harder, for me, to follow the reasoning of cosmologists and I'll not be surprised if, fifty years hence, some of them do some serious back-tracking. But if we use centuries as a time scale, isn't it fair to say that we've already come an amazingly long way, in understanding how the universe developed? Sure, it may be that there are some mysteries incapable of being unraveled, but I'm unable to join you in suggesting these will _never_ yield to rational enquiry. The precedent to the contrary is powerful, and many predictions as confident as yours have been eventually proven dead wrong.
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Dear me, this religion thing has got everyone quite stirred up! Who'd have guessed it. Brian, so far you're the only one to have addressed what seems to me the key question for libertarians: whether irrational thinking in one subject (the state) can be corrected without remedying that in another (God.) I doubt that it can; you think there is not much of a problem, and point to the strong rationality found among government scientists, for example. Good point. Rational thinking has two elements: a premise and a progression (given A, therefore B etc.) A string of deductions can be brilliantly clear and logical, but if the underlying premise is unsound, the conclusion too will be incorrect. Are we agreed so far? If so, I hope our disagreement is resolved. A statist mathematician works on premises that are perfectly sound, and draws accurate, logical and admirable conclusions. A theologian, similarly, begins from the premise that God exists, and draws elegant and logical conclusions about the meaning of scripture, the density of angels on pinheads, and so on. I don't doubt the accuracy of those conclusions nor the intellectual feat of reaching them by reason. And if one's premise is that government is necessary (Paine began there, recall) then it's possible logically to deduce what kind of government should be constructed for optimal performance. But if the premise is wrong, the conclusion too will be wrong; and the congruity needed is that someone claiming as we do that the self-ownership axiom requires the abolition of government, has no business embracing the idea that a creator exists when that premise is (to put it mildly) wide open to dispute and refutation. That is intellectually inconsistent very damaging; it invites the response "you have your fairy tale about God, I'll keep mine about the State." Scott, I'm still eager to know your definition of "God" and the premise from which you start, when reasoning that he (/she/it) exists.
  • Tony Pivetta's picture
    Tony Pivetta 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    The marketplace of ideas includes a wide range of philosophical, religious, moral, social, cultural, political and economic issues. These have to do with war, taxes, "price-fixing," abortion, divorce, recreational drug use, gay marriage, euthanasia, seventh-day Sabbath observance, gambling, pre-marital dancing and artificial insemination, among others. A religious leader has as much right as anyone to inject his views into the marketplace. From a libertarian perspective, it makes no difference what kind of extraordinary claims the pope, e.g., makes for the *moral* authority of his office. It makes no difference that some "consumers" of the marketplace of ideas believe that Christ is the Son of God, that He instituted the office of the papacy, or that those who reject the authority of that office are flirting with the fires of hell. Indeed, those very issues – belief in Christ, the office of the papacy and the existence of hell – themselves make up part of the marketplace of ideas. Religious belief exists apart from the state. In the case of Christianity, religious belief took root and spread in the face of active and violent opposition by the state. There’s no reason to believe that people living in a religiously-neutral stateless society would be any less prone to religious belief than people living in an anti-religious statist society. In a hypothetical anarchic state-of-nature society, people would continue to espouse "good" and "bad" beliefs, religious or otherwise. People would debate the merits of those beliefs. Faithful Catholics would continue to refrain from practicing artificial insemination and contraception and remarrying after divorce. Jehovah’s Witnesses would continue to reject blood transfusions. Orthodox Jews would still abstain from ham sandwiches. Since people disagree about good and bad beliefs, they will disagree about what constitutes irrationality. Catholics may well argue that those who reject the Catholic moral code incur the wages of irrationality, either in this world (e.g., undisciplined individuals, broken families, less tightly knit communities) or in the world to come (Judgment and damnation). The JWs and Orthodox Jews will probably do the same. Secularists are free to disabuse religionists of their beliefs, just as religionists are free to disabuse secularists of theirs. But they’re free to do that in most statist societies today. They’re certainly free to do that in our own. Libertarians have their hands full simply convincing their fellow citizens that the vaunted democratic state is a criminal enterprise writ large. They should stick to addressing, and redressing, the physical losses associated with that enterprise. Merely raising the issue of belief losses is to risk associating libertarianism with that weird panoply of attitudes and behaviors the great Murray Rothbard tagged and excoriated as "modal libertarianism." Yes, people who hew to religious or culturally conservative mores incur belief losses – in the eyes of their liberal secularist counterparts. Yes, conservative religionists might in fact be happier if they smoked pot or cheated on their wives (or if they availed themselves of artificial insemination, accepted blood transfusions or partook of the occasional ham sandwich). Maybe these people have all been brainwashed. On the other hand, maybe the liberal secularists have been brainwashed. Maybe they’re the ones incurring belief losses. Maybe they’d be happier leading sober, faithful lives yoked to a benighted and medieval religion. Who’s to say? For the libertarian, what does it matter?
  • Suverans2's picture
    Suverans2 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Great reply.
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Hein
    "(Has any president since ever acknowledged that?)" Yeah, believe it or not, Obama did. I saw it on youtube! I think part of the psychology works this way. First, people have a natural respect and fascination with old stuff. It's stuff that talks to us over the centuries. Not so surprisingly, the "best" old stuff is that which was owned by the ruling class. They had the facilities and the incentive to preserve it, and even when it was new it was top notch, not shoddy, so it was not going to fall apart. So the state takes this natural fascination and manipulates it into a means of control. It's much like the way laws are named. For example the "Patriot Act" had nothing patriotic about it, but naming it that way helped to sell it.
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 5 years 10 weeks ago Page JGVibes
    Drawing this distinction between "leader" and "master" is a good idea I think. Yes, this dislike of "leaders" boils down to a conditioned response, as the Ministry of Propaganda tries to turn all masters into "leaders". Unfortunately even dictionary definitions repeat this equating of leader with master. I am less sure of the notion that we are slaves. Not only are there important differences between our condition and that of real slaves, it also makes the job of freeing people more difficult, I think. Call them slaves, and they are unlikely to pay attention to you.
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Actually, I did not want to get into a discussion over whether (Gg)od exists or not. My article was directed at those who already don't think so. "Belief in God is irrational, and belief in government is irrational. Religion and government share that same flaw: each has an irrational underlying premise." And that is entirely irrelevant. I don't care if people believe things that aren't so. I'm sure I have some of those myself. I only care if they harm me. People who are religious do not harm me per se. There is no profit in making the effort convincing them they are wrong. People who "believe the government religion" do harm me. There is profit in turning them into nonbelievers. However even then, you want to find the most effective way to do it. Look in Dale Carnegie's book "How to Win Friends & Influence People". The man wrote the Bible, so to speak, on effective human interaction. Nowhere in that book will you find him advocating ridicule. Bottom line, leave religious people alone, except for believers in the government religion; and with those use your most persuasive tactics. Try not to multiply your enemies for no good reason. When the revolution comes, we will need all the support we can find.
  • Suverans2's picture
    Suverans2 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Good word, "presumptuous". presumptuous adjective▸showing too much confidence and not enough respect ~ Macmillan Dictionary
  • BrianDrake's picture
    BrianDrake 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    "I have a hard time seeing how we can say [founding their lives on a rational premise is] important in the one case without being important also in the other. " Though I can sympathize with this feeling, I don't think it conveys a very clear understanding of human beings. Those who do not believe in the legitimacy of the state are a minority in the world. Since you and I are in agreement that the "belief in government" is illogical (I'm trying to avoid "irrational" since I prefer Mises' definition of "rational" - choosing means to accomplish ends - which is not the same as "illogical", and is indeed something all humans are, regardless of how logical they are), would you then conclude that the vast majority of people are completely illogical? Well when it comes to the issue of the state, yes. The vast majority are illogical. But does that necessarily mean they are illogical in every other area of their life? Most scientists are statists, yet they demonstrate a high degree of logical thinking in their field of expertise. Most engineers are statists, yet they must make logical decisions in order for their engineering tasks to succeed. I've yet to observe the trend that 100% of mathematicians are anarchists. It actually seems illogical itself to think that if someone is illogical in one area of their worldview, that they are necessarily illogical in all other areas. Unfortunately, humans that I've observed just don't seem to demonstrate a perfect level of congruity. Does that mean that congruity is not attainable or not desirable? No. But I've yet to meet the person who has truly attained it. So in contrast to you Jim, I have a hard time seeing how it follows that someone who holds an illogical belief on one topic cannot be persuaded logically in another topic.
  • Allen's picture
    Allen 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Hello. This is my first post here at STR. I've been reading and taking in the "feel" of the site before I made any comments. The "prime mover" argument was made by Aristotle to explain *motion*, definitely *not* "creation" and/or "the cause of all things." Aristotle explicitly argued that matter was eternal , that is, un-created (Physics 1:9). Later, Christians cherry-picked Aristotle (of course, after first denouncing all "pagan" philosophers) and attempted to color over his "prime mover" by naming it "the first cause." Anyway, a "first cause" isn't at all rational. "Cause" is a *concept,* not a thing/object. No "cause" exists. It is a name we give *after* we perceive the "effect" (another concept) of things on other things (including ourselves). Motion is an activity of things/objects within the space between other objects. A concept cannot "create" anything. To say that a "Creator creates" isn't saying anything at all, no more than "The first cause, causes." The notion that life requires a creator is a leap of faith, not a rational statement. So, are you presupposing, then, the creator was not living? Or non-existent? Is the "creator" a thing or a concept? And what do you mean by "accidental?" In using this term, are you presupposing what we call "natura/physis" (another concept) won't allow for a myriad of variations without some intelligent mind to direct the course within it? -Joy!
  • tzo's picture
    tzo 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Okay, this just came out. I think it kind of gets across how I feel about all this, but I may change my mind by tomorrow. :> We humans seem to have this strong need to have answers. Many times, just having any answer is satisfactory and better than going without. Here's a fact: No one is ever going to be able to explain how the universe got here and what happens to a human being after he dies. No answers, sorry. Science is the ability to predict the future in a controlled environment based on the body of accumulated knowledge. It is assumed correct until it is proven wrong. Science is nothing more than our best guess as to how things work based on what we know. Since we never can know everything, there is always a chance we are incorrect. Science is not infallible by any measure. So now on to rationality. What do we know, and what can we infer from what we know? Well, the universe is here. Where did it come from? Science has a few theories, but what can we really know about what happened a few billion years ago? I mean know for sure. Just about zero. Yes, I know there are many famous theories that account for the creation of the universe right on down to the first nanoseconds after the big bang. I would contend that this is more of an "I have an answer, which makes me feel much better than not having an answer" answer. How far removed from faith—that thing that people who believe in an intelligent creator are criticized for by rationalists—is the assertion that we know with great certainty what happened a few billion years ago to create the universe? Now right here science is beginning to look a bit like yet another synonym for faith. There seems to be no rational reason to believe that there is something after death, as the consciousness of each of us seems to be tied directly to the body, and so when the body dies, the "me" part dissolves as well. Now imagine this state of nothingness, and the brain cannot handle it. The concept of us being here for a fleeting instant and then being nothing for eternity does not compute. If you say it does, you haven't really meditated on eternity and nothingness. So there you are: At this point any answer feels a whole lot better than that uncomfortable mystery that you don't want to get too close to, too often. On the flipside, eternal life seems pretty terrifying as well. Maybe terrifying isn't the right word, because eternal life just does not really process well in the human brain. Now maybe it's just my defective brain that can't deal with it, but I suspect it is a common design limitation we all share. So there seems to be no "reasonable" answers to these big questions. Based on my observations (I have less than 50 years in a universe that is a few billion years old and my observations are worth what, exactly?) I would tend to not believe in Creators and such supernatural stuff because I haven't directly experienced them as I have, say, a car. Or maybe I have, and that's what life is. There will never be an answer, and all possibilities are open. I agree that organized religion is like organized government, and is generally a man-made con game wherein some profess to know what everyone else doesn't. Rationality says that no one can know about certain things, and so if someone professes to be an expert in the unknowable and surrounds himself with rules and privilege, you can bet it's a scam. But to ridicule people because they feel there is some sort of intelligent creator or that there may be life after death has little to do with rationality, IMO. It actually seems rather presumptuous, now that I have reached the end of this little rant.
  • Suverans2's picture
    Suverans2 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Hi Jim, I apologize for butting in, but... THE only idea man can affix to the name of God, is that of a first cause, the cause of all things. And, incomprehensibly difficult as it is for a man to conceive what a first cause is, he arrives at the belief of it, from the tenfold greater difficulty of disbelieving it. It is difficult beyond description to conceive that space can have no end; but it is more difficult to conceive an end. It is difficult beyond the power of man to conceive an eternal duration of what we call time; but it is more impossible to conceive a time when there shall be no time. In like manner of reasoning, everything we behold carries in itself the internal evidence that it did not make itself. Every man is an evidence to himself, that he did not make himself; neither could his father make himself, nor his grandfather, nor any of his race; neither could any tree, plant, or animal make itself; and it is the conviction arising from this evidence, that carries us on, as it were, by necessity, to the belief of a first cause eternally existing, of a nature totally different to any material existence we know of, and by the power of which all things exist; and this first cause, man calls God." ~ Excerpted from The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine When forming your rational belief, Jim Davies, that life, in all its myriad variations, "accidentally" created itself, what premise(s) do you start from?
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Hi Scott. Belief that the universe was created by a God is indeed massively irrational; it conflicts with reason from A to Z. However, I say that with a particular image of what you might mean by "God", so I may be premature in offering that reply. Therefore let me ask you to define the term "God" before continuing by giving examples of what I have in mind. PS: One other question, if I may: when forming your opinion that a creator exists, what premise(s) do you start from?
  • Scott Lazarowitz's picture
    Scott Lazarowitz 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Jim, how is belief in God irrational? And by God, I refer to a "Creator." Do we lack "proof" of God or Creator? Just look at us! Look at life in and of itself as proof! It is very rational to believe that life including animal life was created by a being or beings of superior intelligence. It is difficult for me to believe that the complexities that make up what we view as "life" (such as how our heart is structured and the way it works with arteries and the circulatory system, and how complex the optic nerve is and the way it works with the brain, and the entire reproductive process as well) could possibly have come about as a result of "random matter and particles spontaneously coming together" and forming themselves just by coincidence. Given the extreme odds against such an occurrence, you would have to believe all that as a matter of faith. And that, to me, is irrational.
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Belief in God is irrational, and belief in government is irrational. Religion and government share that same flaw: each has an irrational underlying premise. Our #1 task is therefore to persuade folk of the importance of founding their lives on a rational premise, and I have a hard time seeing how we can say that's important in the one case without being important also in the other. If ridicule can help accomplish that, let's use it. If some other way proves more effective, fine. But I'd not want to underestimate the power of humor.
  • Scott Lazarowitz's picture
    Scott Lazarowitz 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    I don't know about "dehumanizing" the government elites as they seem to dehumanize us. Many of them are just sadists and psychopaths, which are "human" characteristics, albeit very bad ones. But we do need to continue to expose them and their crimes against us, from our local neanderthal Nazi cops to our elite Supreme Court Justices such as Elena Caveman.
  • KenK's picture
    KenK 5 years 10 weeks ago Web link Jad Davis
    Mainstream media then: Sheehan is a brave and patriotic Gold Star Mother who is useful to have as a Bush stalker and whose bona fides are beyond reproach. Now? Bush is gone and Obama is the one prosecuting these wars and Sheehan's services as peace activist are no longer needed and she' a flaky kook tax resister to boot. Oceana has always been at war with Eastasia.
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Just noticed this is from 'way back in December, but after a long week of trucking coast to coast I saw a comment and read your essay without checking the date of the post. I like your thrust on this, Paul. As I've stated previously, I have family I love dearly who are highly involved with the Ron Paul "movement", and it is a good lesson for me in just what you are saying here: I don't know it all, and it is important I support and respect those I love without necessarily jumping on their band wagon. You made one statement: I have read several times that people in America in the 1750s and 1760s considered themselves Englishmen and wanted desperately to be accepted by English society. How did this feeling morph into its complete opposite by so many people, in just 20 years, leading to successful armed rebellion? I think it was a shift in worldview. There can be huge, almost impossible-seeming changes to worldviews in a short period of time. I'm not sure the number or percentage of those disloyal to King George was all that great even when the "revolution" began. I suspect many "historians" wanted it to appear that way (that's how "history" comes about), but I think most were still loyal to England and weren't that het-up over getting into a brawl with the red coats. It seems Washington had to virtually enslave numbers of individuals and force them into his fighting forces at the outset of the violence. The analogy would be us today: you and I and our friends here on STR as compared to our peers "out there in radio land". In the eyes of many of them we belong in the "hate-America-first" camp. With the advent of the Ron Paul movement (many of whose members will be with us some day soon) that percentage may be changing. But we are definitely in the minority now. And you are correct: people like us need to find a balance in our interchange with them and not pull the "superior knowledge" gambit on them. Sam
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Hein
    You've outlined the genius of state, Paul: pillage by use of psychology. Look at it this way: we have to deal with two distinct types of thieves and robbers in our daily lives: government confiscators and non-government confiscators. State media types are using the term "sector": "the private sector" and "the public sector" -- but that's all a bunch of obfuscation and one dimension of the psychology that produces the genius of "pillage legitimacy". You described it well in your essay, Paul: the mass of "the people" ooh and aah and talk about it for years when they are "provided" tours of state opulence. People who take guided tours of those joints never in a hundred years connect the abundance of palaces and state buildings and mansions with the thievery that is euphemized as "taxation". Non-government thieves and robbers take your stuff and leave you alone. Government thieves and robbers confiscate your stuff and later put it on display for you so you can tell your grandkids about how you got to "tour" this or that capitol "oval office" and perhaps took pictures or bought souvenirs. The psychology of state is indeed an act of genius. You and your family are perhaps the only individuals on your block who see through the ruse. Disseminate your knowledge. Carefully and discreetly. Sam
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 5 years 10 weeks ago Web link Westernerd
    Thanks for the link, Robert. I used to subscribe to Whiskey & Gunpowder, along with The Daily Reckoning, etc., and found I was wasting the whole day reading them. I'm often am tempted to get their daily emails back primarily because they post lots of good articles such as this one. I was once diagnosed "pathological nonconformist" by a judge (as he sentenced me to 30 days in jail, the rascal). He later became my close friend until he died some years ago. I've had to shed many of those psychopathic pathogens in my old age, but if "extremist" is the worst creeps of state can come up with in which to label me, I'll take it as a compliment. Sam
  • Suverans2's picture
    Suverans2 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Hein
    Take care, Paul, when next you visit the UNITED STATES. Its PRESIDENT, (with his new powers), might just spot you and say "off with his head!"
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Hein
    Take care, Paul, when next you visit England. Her Majesty might just spot you and say "off with his head!" Your remarks come at a good moment. This year is the 50th of her reign, and there are some good things one can find to say about that. She did not set out to become Queen; her uncle quit so as to marry an American divorcee, thrusting her very shy father on to the throne where he did a creditable job as a national figurehead and morale booster during WW-II (into which, of course, the UK should never have entered, but that's another story. Monarchs nowadays don't rule, they reign.) He died young, from stress and smoking, so Elizabeth took on the job. I reserve judgment on her grandsons, but otherwise she is the only member of her family for whom I have any respect. The Royal finances are not simple. There is huge wealth (land, palaces) attached to the monarchy, though not to the person. The population is taxed to provide stipends to members of the family, but those are, like the US President's, not way out of line. In return, they do a large amount of work as national ambassadors and, again, as figureheads. I have no doubt that the British economy comes out well ahead from tourism revenues minus those Royal expenses, and the palaces form the #1 staple in terms of tourist magnets - as Windsor did in your case. A case could also be made that the Queen has held together the Commonwealth, which approximates to a free trade area, by building relationships over a very long term. So it's not quite fair or true to say that the Royals are parasites. They earn their keep, in PR alone. Finally I'm gullible enough to believe that by her weekly interviews with the Prime Minister, she has exercised moderation on some of their wilder plans. That relationship is subtle, and on occasion the influence flows the other way; those interested should watch the movie "The Queen" that documents how she and Tony Blair interacted during the week following Diana's death. So much for the positive. The negative aspect of monarchy - and it is decisive, we fully agree - is that the figurehead serves to validate the government she nominally "owns", as in "my government" and "the Queen's Ministers." My blog at http://www.theanarchistalternative.info/zgb/10A076.htm explores the issue a little and concludes: "The monarchy all-but ensures that, however unpopular a particular administration may deservedly become, the institution of government itself will survive." So: guilty, as charged.
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 5 years 10 weeks ago Page JGVibes
    Subplotsville, I respectfully disagree. If someone thought to be a leader turns to the use of force, he is no longer a leader but a master; an analogy might be that a leader prepares a path, as JGVibes wrote, which followers voluntarily follow. Force involves connection; he pulls with a rope (or a chain!) or pushes, from behind. I wonder also whether you might reconsider the words "real world political." If a relationship is political, it necessarily involves force; that's what politics is about. Masters are chosen by a majority (in theory) who then impose their wishes upon society. Now, is that the "real" world? It is, yes, the actual one now prevailing, but surely "real" has something to do with what human being truly are, in our basic nature. And that basic nature begins with self-ownership. (Try denying that, without assuming it implicitly in the first place.) Self-ownership means that each decides for himself how to arrange his own life, and therefore being forced to do otherwise - politics - is not "real" in that sense. The political arena is the UNreal state in which we find ourselves; an unfettered market, alone, is the real world.
  • Subplotsville's picture
    Subplotsville 5 years 10 weeks ago Page JGVibes
    Your essay has a few interesting ideas. However, many leaders do, in fact, use force. Effective leadership in many real world political situations requires maintaining the rule of law, which in turn inevitably requires force. And it seems an odd use of language to refer to the prosecution of criminals as intimidation.
  • Suverans2's picture
    Suverans2 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Hein
    Absolutely, ReverendDraco; we must remember to separate the "image and superscription" (fiction), which are the CAESAR's, from the silver (nonfiction). What the CAESAR ends up with when we do this, is nothing, nothing but thin air. The same thing is true of the "prince and the pauper"; when we separate the fiction from the nonfiction, we end up with nothing but a man.
  • rita's picture
    rita 5 years 10 weeks ago Web link Guest
    And how will they know how much pot you have, unless they kick in your door and take it? This bill solves nothing.
  • Suverans2's picture
    Suverans2 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Hein
    "But millions of Americans do government’s bidding day after day, even though they find it odious, or simply aggravating, with no sign of a gun or truncheon. They not only obey, but expect others to do likewise. So while force is the rulers’ ultimate weapon, they get what they want by other means 99% of the time. And that means is psychology." ~ Paul Hein And, there it is. I gave this a "Must read!", ten-star rating.
  • ReverendDraco's picture
    ReverendDraco 5 years 10 weeks ago Page Paul Hein
    Caesar has nothing which wasn't first stolen from the person who produced it. So, by all means, render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's. . . and keep rendering it until Caesar is living in a tent along a creek somewhere - just like a quarter of US Veterans are. . .
  • GeoffreyTransom's picture
    GeoffreyTransom 5 years 11 weeks ago Page Douglas Herman
    Dude, in your photo you totally look like Owen Wilson. And let's be frank: Sibel Edmonds is several degrees of hawt ABOVE "attractive". She could totally play Anna - the Queen V in the new version of 'V' (the same woman who played the wife in the recent Claire Danes vehicle). But here's the thing: Sibel Edmonds, for all her hotness, WAS A FED. And she was a Fed for a long-ass time. She got that old-time libertarianist religion after they burned her, and had she not been disgruntled in her work there's decent chance she would now be a senior cog in the tyranny machine. I cop a bit of flak in anarchist/voluntaryist circles for being too harsh on our new comrades-in-arms, especially given that I was formerly a .mil psychopath and then a .gov intel hack. (I'm not quite as hot as Sibel... there, I said it). My counter-argument is that I was not a True Believer at any time - that is clear from my disciplinary record - and that as a result I would never have contributed my genuine best efforts to the furtherance of tyranny. Examples abound: e.g., if I had been in Bradass87's seat I would have been calling fire missions on buildings I knew were empty; I know three former .mil intel guys who were encouraged to DoR after being [probably rightly] suspected of doing precisely that. That's why I say it has to be borne in mind that these people were *happy* being servants of the powerful - at non-trivial level - until they became disgruntled. They joined at a significantly higher pay grade than a recruit grunt, and as such had to jump through a lot more ideological hoops in order to 'join up'. Then they got the shits with their lack of progress. It's not clear to me that this type of person is a genuinely reliable asset to 'our' cause - they left being a tyrant's minion because they didn't get their due, not because they ceased to believe in their mission.
  • John deLaubenfels's picture
    John deLaubenfels 5 years 11 weeks ago Page Douglas Herman
    Inspiring words!
  • Mark Davis's picture
    Mark Davis 5 years 11 weeks ago Page Douglas Herman
    Well said, Douglas.
  • Suverans2's picture
    Suverans2 5 years 11 weeks ago Web link Jad Davis
    The breach in our defenses, said Frank Chodorov[1], is in Article VI of the Constitution, which provides that "...all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. So much for the Tenth Amendment. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles stated that "The treaty power is an extraordinary power, liable to abuse," and warned that "Treaties can take powers away from the Congress and give them to the President. They can take powers from the states and give them to the federal government or to some international body and they can cut across the rights given to the people by their Constitutional Bill of Rights." This is precisely why "the Eisenhower Administration, and particularly the U.S. State Department, went all out to defeat the Bricker Amendment, which sought to greatly limit that power. "Introduced into the Senate in February, 1952, as Senate Joint Resolution 130, the "Bricker Amendment" to the Constitution read as follows: Section 1. A provision of a treaty which conflicts with this Constitution shall not be of any force or effect. Section 2. A treaty shall become effective as internal law in the United States only through legislation which would be valid in the absence of treaty. Section 3. Congress shall have power to regulate all executive and other agreements with any foreign power or international organization. All such agreements shall be subject to the limitations imposed on treaties by this article. Section 4. The congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." No one listened then, and my guess is that no one will listen now. _______________________________________________________________________________ [1] Frank Chodorov was an American member of the Old Right, a group of libertarian thinkers who were non-interventionist in foreign policy and opposed both the American entry into World War II and the New Deal.
  • rita's picture
    rita 5 years 11 weeks ago Web link painkilleraz
    Priceless. Maybe the next one will crash into a school bus, or a nursing home, or someone's backyard barbeque.
  • Guest's picture
    jaffa (not verified) 5 years 11 weeks ago Web link Westernerd
    Driveway safety is comprised of two categories. Preventing your child from being run over as a car is backing out of the driveway. The other is preventing your child from running out into the street while playing in the yard with a driveway safety net. We will now cover each topic individually. Thanks. Regards, cell phone directory