Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"Atlas Shrugged" - a review

Rand, in "Atlas Shrugged", makes the case that because "the people" (corporate leaders, maybe under employee pressure, AND government) wanted to let lazy and incompetent people get paid BY COMPANIES IN JOBS (kind of like the old USSR, not part of a welfare system), and Also tell the Competent that THEY MUST work harder and longer (AND THEIR PAY be reduced to "help those who can't do, or aren't as good, but have mouths to feed) to make up for the others, that The Entire World should be forced back to the "pre-industrial age" rather than "Steal the Minds of Those That "CAN".

I agree with that basic idea - and unions, welfare, and more, are DOING THAT to some degree. (Note - unions are NEEDED to fight against companies creating near-slave-labor wages, to fight for safety, and more. But they also protect people that Should be fired.)

However, the OTHER MESSAGE in the book was "Those That DO SEE, Should LET IT HAPPEN", from paying bums to STEALING Patents, Bribery, TONS of "ideas" by those 'in charge' that Can Not Work - the rich industrialists in this case, with ALL of the bright ideas - Should LET IT HAPPEN instead of Exposing The Wrongs, getting the corrupt out of office, open Newspapers that print TRUTH, etc.

Ayn Rand makes the case that these highly intelligent people SAW what was happening for about 10 years, and they decided Not Just to LET it happen, but to Help It Happen by saying nothing and going into hiding!

And it is THOSE IDEAS - Being a PART of the lies, bribes, theft, shutting down education - that "the right wing" In OUR WORLD have embraced.

Get Money by ANY means, let the country go down - as long as MY FAMILY has enough to last; which will be forever because they keep taking from "those without a voice" (meaning the non-millionaires) to fatten their own wallets. 

And when America fails (and under their control, IT WILL), THEY will have the money to buy the protection they need to keep the rest of us from ripping them apart.

I AM NOT saying we need more welfare; I am saying WE NEED HONEST people in charge with HIGH MORALS (NOT 'christians (or insert religion) in name only', as we mainly have now) to run things. We need Government Spending CUT; War Spending CUT; All WASTE Spending Eliminated;  BETTER Education; and on and on.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Survey by a Jesuit Priest, 2012

ZOMGitsChriss posted that a Jesuit professor was doing a survey. Below are the questions, and my responses after each.

I confirmed that this is a real survey BY that priest, so here is the download link and contact info. Unzip and follow instructions.



Thanks for taking time to respond to these questions.  Note that there are no “correct” answers we are looking for and your responses to this questionnaire will be kept strictly confidential.  Also, please feel free to provide as much information as you’d like.  In other words, we encourage you to provide specific examples in your responses, recount stories from your past, and go into as much detail as necessary to give us a thorough understanding of your experience.  We’re more than happy to read all of this because we want to provide the most detailed and most balanced snapshot of American atheists that we possibly can.  Thanks again for helping us to do this.

Background Questions: 

  • Were you raised atheist or did you have a religious upbringing of some sort?
Yes, "loosely" Methodist. I remember having some "Sunday School", but that was I think finished before I was 10. (now 59) We went to services almost every Sunday until I was about 14. Dad was even a "Lay Minister" - and that was part of why we Stopped going (I found out after he died); he saw that the church was very interested in how much money was in the plate, and I am told that turned him off.

BTW, Methodist was Dad's religion - I found out Mom was Episcopalian AFTER she died! (because the service was held in that church)

  • If raised religious – When and why did you become an atheist?  What was this transition from religion like for you, for your family, etc.?  Was this a quick transition or a slow one?  Was it easy for you or difficult?  
I went through a long process; though never attended church after about 14, I still believed, and even for a while didn't even want to donate organs because I didn't want to go to heaven "not whole" (early 1980's) But I was getting less religious. My cousin's suicide didn't change things, though I DO believe religion may have contributed (working in stuff related to biology may have conflicted with his religion), along with fear of disappointing his parents.

Even DREAMING that I was about to go face to face with the Devil didn't hold my life to religion. I just kept looking at all the BAD things happening, and thinking "contradiction" to the "love all" teachings. 

Later, Having some "very religious people" (Mormons in the 1990's ) cheat me, steal from me, and a Catholic threatening to Kill me in 2007 -- and BOTH claiming their church would still support THEM, didn't help.

So, Slow? yea. Difficult? NO.

  • If raised atheist – Have you ever been drawn to religion at any point in your life?  Why or why not?

Thinking About Atheism: 

  • Do you identify yourself as an atheist?  If so, what does being an atheist mean to you?  Also, how does it feel to be an atheist . . . optimistic / pessimistic, hopeful / cynical, happy / sad, connected to / isolated from other people, etc.?
Yes, I was leaning more agnostic, but think I am now 'full' Atheist. It is NOT ACCEPTING the un-reasonable, contradiction-loving views of an "ALL loving god" that hates SOME people, allows murder and rape of babies, burns people alive, and so much more.

This IS starting to isolate me from others - I was just starting to connect more with old High School folks, but as I tired of their "I have cancer, but it is slowed down right now, so I am SO Blessed" crap, and Voicing that on Facebook (sometimes very strongly) is attracting comments, but it also seems I am getting FAR fewer responses to MY comments.

Being Atheist ALSO means being a REALIST - and looking at what all of these 'Religious' people have done to SCREW this country, I am NOT optimistic about almost everything.

  • Why do you think most people in the United States believe in God, practice some form of religion, and do not identify themselves as atheists?
Indoctrination from birth, and FEAR - fear of death, delusion about "how the earth formed", fear of 'not fitting in' with all the others who are still religious.

  • Do most people who know you – family, friends, co-workers, etc. – also know that you’re an atheist?  Why or why not?
I have been quiet about it for the past nearly 20 years, but I am getting "louder" about it. I have not 'yelled it from the roof' because I don't want to piss others off, don't want to lose friends, I don't want fights. But I am getting louder about it.

My letting a co-worker know (because he kept pushing religion on me, so I was forced to nicely ask him to back off) helped to have him work with the local manager (they were buddies) to force me out. They even tried to get me to Volunteer for Iraq/Afghanistan (it was a DoD job) so I would be out of the computer shop.

A few relatives also know, but as we rarely talk, it is "in the background" of our relationship.

  • Are most of your friends atheists?  Why or why not?
Except a few I have met through a Humanist FB page, I don't think ANY others are atheists. Some are "in the religion business". 
My friends are not atheists because I have very little access to non-theists, and because the people I grew up with, and worked around, are theists. While this was fine 20 years ago, as I profess MY beliefs, it seems fewer friends are tolerant of MY beliefs (like they want to pray before a meal, and if already seated, I will do nothing (if I can find a way to be out of the room, I now will) out of respect for their beliefs.

While I found this Humanist group about a year ago, I have attended very few of their functions; partly out of lack of funds (like for conventions), and that some things are simply reinforcement of my already held 'belief' - Like seeing a movie for the 10th time, I don't need that "input". Maybe I should change that, if only for the social interactions.

  • Have you ever been treated differently by people because you’re an atheist?  If so, please describe this in detail.

I was in a bar, talking to a woman and she had some reason to bring up religion; I nicely said I don't believe (don't remember exact exchange), and within a minute, she moved to the far end of the bar.

Also, I LOST A GOVERNMENT JOB because of it. Bad management was a contributing factor, but when I had to Speak Up because I didn't want a SECOND DAY of the 'office TV' being tuned to an "ALL RELIGION CHANNEL", that finished me there, and I lost the last 'friend' I thought I had at that job site.

Thinking About Religion:

  • Overall, would you say that other people’s belief in God is a good thing, a bad thing or something you’re indifferent about?  Why?
It IS BAD, because it means they want to Force Their Version of Religion on others, and it means they Live in Delusion - making it too hard to figure out How to FIX America. They say "we can do ANYTHING, and leave it to god to fix it' when they screw up.

  • Overall, would you say that organized religion is a good thing, a bad thing or something you’re indifferent about?  Why?
This is worse than 'being spiritual' (belief in god alone), because then they fall into the 'crowd mentality', having to 'conform to the majority' (or at least the loudest portion of it).

  • If not a religious person, do you consider yourself to be a spiritual person?  Why or why not? 
NO, 'spiritual' still believes in the nonexistent god, expecting to 'go to heaven', and ONLY DOING GOOD TO AVOID HELL.

Living as an Atheist: 

  • Many people say that belief in God provides a foundation for their morality.  As an atheist, on what do you base your morality?  How do you decide what things are good or bad, whether you’re behaving rightly or wrongly, etc.?
Our morality DOES come from the religions of the world; but we would have gotten 'there' anyway based on ONE thing - "I don't want you to do that to me, and you don't want it done either" -- the basis of "The Golden Rule" - and that is THE ONLY RULE YOU NEED.

  • Many people consider belief in God and religious practice to be essential for raising well-rounded children with a connection to a tradition that helps them to see meaning in the world.  What’s your opinion about this viewpoint?
You can do many other traditions without bringing in belief in a delusion.

  • For many people, belief in God provides an explanation of how the world came into existence and why we’re here.  As an atheist, do you have answers or insights pertaining to these questions?  If so, what are they?
We are HERE simply because the Universe DOES Exist. Putting 'faith' in something that has NO basis in reality is stupid.

  • For many people, belief in God provides hope or comfort with respect to suffering in the world and to the inevitability of death.  As an atheist, how do you come to terms with these things?
You are born, you die -- in between, you should LEARN and try hard to do Good. 

Want to see why we have religion? "The Invention of Lying" is a good movie to start with. Religion comes from Not Knowing, and FEAR.

Conclusion: No questionnaire could possibly cover all dimensions of this topic.  So, do you have any additional information or any further reflection that could help us to understand your experience as an atheist better?  If so, please feel free to add this now.

First, your SURVEY does not ask the same question as your CONSENT FORM - how Atheists "find meaning in their everyday lives".
Meaning? As in "you don't have a relationship with 'god', so I expect you feel worthless, wonder why you get up each day and don't simply put a bullet into your head? HOW FRIGGING CONDESCENDING OF YOU!! 

In general, WE ATHEISTS and AGNOSTICS have jobs we like, friends that understand us, and support us. WE have children that we LOVE. WE care about what happens in the world, do not advocate killing for some 'false religion", don't think that by merely not hurting others that believe the same as us that we will go to some heaven where we (depending on the religion) meet up with anyone we knew in the past, or get 72 virgins to mistreat as we please, or have powers like "Star Trek's Q entity".

WE want to use SCIENCE to Benefit the world; from clean air and water, to eliminating sickness, save the unborn (i.e. transfer unwanted fetus to another woman, or an artificial womb), explore space, and so much more.

I would consider that We have MORE meaning in our lives, because WE don't live in Delusion.

Now to your "additional information" invitation -

Theists basis "of fact" is a bunch of very old stories, that changed for thousands of years, and eventually got written down as "the word of god". And because using that "god", and the FEAR of what it will do to you For An ETERNITY if you didn't follow what these stories related, keeps "the sheep" under control.

Now, MANY of these stories are good things, promoting 'fairness' in treatment of others, not killing unless that is the last resort (and some say not even then, just lock up the killer until they die, and let "god" handle punishment -- how frigging INSANE is that?), but the SAME stories are used as the basis of "they aren't like us, so do what you want to them; they are not even HUMAN, so treat them worse than you do your dog and have not "fear of god" because "his rules don't apply to non-human interaction."

But what might be the worst thing for the 'modern world' is the refusal to accept SCIENCE; by sticking to words written by a people with NO KNOWLEDGE of the physical world beyond their immediate experience, and even more so, their TOTAL acceptance of Impossible Things as "fact" (like Noah getting ALL of the world's creatures on an Ark smaller than a very large private yacht) is holding back the general advancement of the world. They had NO concept of other continents beyond the Atlantic Ocean (and most didn't even know THAT existed, and didn't care), they accepted magic tricks (like sticks into snakes) as true magic, and if done by a religious promoter (Moses) they accept it as "god did that", and not the TRICKS they really are, and think that, when MAN totally screws up this planet, "god" will simply come a fix it all "by the magic of 'his will'". Some even believe that they have "magic underwear" and that when they die they will be able to Create Their Own Universe and RULE IT AS GOD !! (I got this last thing straight from a Mormon in his spiel to try to convert me.)

Seems Very Clear to me, with these FACTS, that Religions are BAD, even Dangerous, for the world. When you have a religious NUT ready to detonate Multiple Nuclear Bombs based on his idea that his "faith" will fix everything later (either "his people" will survive the bombs, or that he will enter a paradise because of his actions), a RATIONAL person will see that we need to eliminate ALL religions.