Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Reactionary Rant...

What can we do, right now? How can I get people to realize the complications of the wars we are fighting? How can I get them to see that bombs and bullets don't solve what true diplomacy should be handling? We can not beat the religion, belief, culture, and history out of millions of people. I also do not know how to get people to stop denying global warming... and furthermore, science.

Why is it that I must defend SCIENCE? I understand someone choosing to defend religion takes on a monumental task. They must take a stand on a position that is neither provable nor deniable. To be fair, they have safety in numbers. I mean, thousands of Elvis fans can't be wrong... thousands that for years believed that he really could not possibly be dead. If a shitload of people believe in something, then people feel more comfortable in believing. Sorry, not going to reference any journal to support this. It doesn't matter.

So, I have to take a stand and say:

Global Warming is real and a probable result of human consumption of fossil fuels. Why? Because the overwhelming majority of SCIENTIFIC research tells me so.

Darwinian Evolution is a theory that strongly supports the idea that we humans have evolved over millions of years of random mutation and natural selection from simple origins of life. Why, because the overwhelming majority of SCIENTIFIC research tells me so.

Testable hypotheses. Repeatable processes. Multiple studies. Volumes of data. Oh, so you have all this for Noah's boat? No.... What about a virgin birth, a resurrection, walking on water. No.

I can come closer to proving time travel, than anyone can proving one single component to the teachings of the bible. Is it really just about the message? Then fine, get everyone together and agree to that. Just decide what the message is... the bible does not seem to be sure itself.

So, we are all going to die. What is it all about? Nothing in particular. We all seem to be wired relatively the same, so the same basic stuff makes most of us happy. Sometimes there are fundamental differences in what makes us happy, but we all need basics. Oxygen, food, water, human companionship, stimulation, sex, and so on up Maslow's Hierarchy.

This really does not have a direction. As usual, it is me rushing to get my thoughts out with limited time, limited energy, and limited patience. More excuses, more piled up stories for another day.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Many things...

The great thing about doing this blog is that I have far too much material, and far too little time. So be it, that this will be another rambling and less of a relevant posting. I have been catching up on the videos posted on Richard Dawkins' website, watching some great shows (Nova for one), and actually doing some reading for pleasure. I have also spent the last 2 weeks traveling, which builds up more material and takes away more time.

I also want to take some time to do some upgrades to the layout of the site. The template from blogger is nice, but I want to tweak it a bit for my subject matter. Well, no time to get into anything now... have to wake the baby up!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Part 1 of My Path to Enlightenment: The Drill Sergeant

One of the reasons for this online forum is to find release for certain things that happened in my life. I will foremost try to be topical, as I want to be relevant and part of the movement to open a few eyes. Secondly, I want to tell my story... much as we all do.

This posting is a rare moment where I can relay a short anecdote and still be somewhat relevant.

1993: The First Time Religion Really Pissed Me Off

The US Army's basic training program is a lot of things. It instills discipline, hones the body and mind, and prepares the novice soldier for the future in the world's most advanced army. I expected all that when I was barely old enough to shave, and signed up for 3 years plus training to be an Airborn Ranger. I also expected to get kicked, punched, or smacked around if it came to that, just like in the movies.

I went to infantry basic training in Fort Benning, GA, which was often referred to as the "old Army". Although they had formally stopped hitting the trainees, they still had a good amount of vicious techniques that caused great mental and physical torment. This was before the official bans on hazing was enforced, which was well after my second year in the service.

What I did NOT expect was an evangelical blindsiding, a religious shovel upside the head. It took me some time to realize the impact of what happened that evening in the barracks, but looking back I realize how completely inappropriate and outrageous the whole thing was.

For those who never were in the military, imagine combining the authority of the police, your parents, your teachers, priests, or any other authority figure. Push those into one person, and you have a Drill Sergeant. I am sure many have seen the movie's take this on, and some do a very good job. The key point is to realize how unquestioning you become of them, how you hang on their every word. Then factor in the reality that 90% of what they say is negative and insulting. That 10% of positive is really powerful. If you get praise from a drill sergeant, your chest swells with pride and accomplishment. If you are the fastest at field stripping an M-16 (or M4 now a days), then the drill sergeant may hold you up as a model for the rest of the platoon. If you max the running score in a PT test, you are held in high regard for others to rise to.

It was well into the whole 17 week process of infantry basic and Advanced Individual Training (AIT). Infantry trainess do not stop and graduate from basic before going to AIT They take a weekend off then keep going, same cadre, same platoon, same everything. On a hot and slimy Georgia evening, one particular drill sergeant softly and politely called a platoon meeting on his evening shift.

The whole platoon gathered around as he started appealing to our basic need for approval. He very carefully navigated through our insecurities, our fear, and our collective need for kindness. At this point in my life I had become fairly agnostic, but was still entertaining the thought of a god and often praying in private when I felt the need for meditation. When the drill sergeant began asking if we wanted our eternal souls to be guaranteed a place in heaven, I kind of looked around and thought, "well yeah, of course. That would be sweet".

At this point my best friend in basic training at that point turned around abruptly and said "man, I can't listen to this" and walked away. I could not believe he had the audacity to walk away from the drill when he was talking to us. I continued to agree with all of the wonderfull things the drill said about our heavenly salvation. I admire his boldness to this day.

Finally, at some point, we all said "yeah sure", or some such affirmation, to his final question. It was then that he announced that we were all officially born again.

My chest filled with the distinct heat of burning rage. Had this guy honestly just swindled me into stating my acceptance of his religious beliefs? Had he actually used his authority to get my attention to hear his speil? Yes, yes, yes he had.

I have always been pretty good about sniffing out a con, but this really caught me off guard. Like the choir boy about to be molested by his priest, I accepted the whole thing on blind trust and faith in his position. Now that said, I was not physically violated. Someone tried to take something that did not belong to them. They told me, "hey, you have an eternal soul that's up for grabs. It's not yours, because either God gets it or the Devil gets it. If you say these words, then God gets it, and you're good. If not, then your screwed and your fingernails will be pulled out slowly and regrow in a vicious eternal cycle of unbearable searing pain. But hey! It's your call dude!"

Again, it took some time to realize the importance of this event in the movement away from faith. I understood more about the tactics and techniques of the relgious movements. I am sure there were Muslims, Hindus, atheists, and other non-Christians that all had to hear that asshole's speach. I can't imagine how many times this has happened, and no one said a word. I could have really been ahead of the times if I would have said something back then. I was just afraid of getting smoked (hazed), and not getting my chance to jump out of airplanes and shoot bad guys.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Widget for Blogger?

Oooh, that was cheap! Now that you're here, you can take some time to read one man's views, insights, and musings based on years of hard earned experience. Then, after you've read all my links, you may even read my postings.

You see, it took me years to come to certain conclusions... as we all do growing up. Some go to a further horizon than others. Some do not like what they see, and turn back. And some just don't bother looking at all. Regardless of where you fall... relax, take a look around, and let me know what you think. I am open to positive and negative feedback, so have fun.

As for the title, apparently that link is a Technorati Top 100 and gets a lot of hits... yeah, that was my cheap attempt at getting you here. Now if I only had some good content. Oh well, I'm new to this.

Look forward to future installments of (adult content warning) "crazy things my wife and I do with our friends." You wouldn't believe the pictures my wife's friend has been sending her... it's good to live like a heathen.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Megaphone Around the Corner

How does one make a bunch of noise, make a difference, change the world, all while remaining anonymous? How can you really do something with passion, and half-ass it at the same time? The logic seems fatally flawed, right from the outset.

My wife coined the metaphor. I was trying to justify why I wish to do this online forum, in all of it's pointless preaching. I was explaining, like I always do, that it is really about intelligent discussion. It is really about participating in a free-thinking community and spreading a positive message about the benefits of ditching superstition, for the betterment of humanity. But, I need to be careful, because:

I do this blog to get discussion started on a global scale
The discussion I wish to start is about religion
Religion is a very touchy subject taken very seriously by some very powerful/crazy/intelligent/passionate (pick your adjective) people.
These people may become my enemies due to my words
If my blog is "successful" then I will get a lot of attention
My enemies will know who I am
They may try and hurt/impair/hinder/harass (pick your negative verb) me

So, should I not stay anonymous to protect my family and my career?

I always wanted to be the guy whispering in the ear of the guy with the microphone and the cameras pointed at him. I wanted to be the power, but not the face. However, I wanted the informed people to KNOW that I was the man. In my ultimate career fantasy, I am the architect, the puppet-master, the Karl Rove to the George Dubba-Ya., the Emperor to the Darth Vader... and so on.

My wife, looked at me and said I wanted to hide around the corner, and yell into a megaphone. I thought, "well yeah, I don't want the bullets to hit me while I yell."

So here's the big question: "Who fucking cares?"
If its no one, then great. My family and I are safe, and nothing happens. But then, nothing happens. The only benefit I get is a medium for my creative urges, and to get my thoughts published in the vast expanses of the internet cosmos.

If someone does care, then maybe something does happen. Maybe you inspire the right woman who becomes president, or the man who creates a belief structure that allows for all beliefs and everyone buys into... right. Keep your goals small. Just be glad to have a reason to write.

I was considering creating a myspace/facebook page. That goes greatly against my character... I guess. I will send you freaks a message when I get my pages set up...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Atheist Sell Out

I just turned on AdSense... this should be interesting. I am really trying to do two things, make a difference in free-thinking and liberation from religion, and see what kind of money doing that would make me. I have a good job, and enjoy what I do, but if I save some huge client $1 million bucks, the world is not a better place. If I make a few smart people question the superstition of their ancestors and challenge the world around them, then I can say I did something worthwhile in life. Furthermore, if I can support my family doing what I love (and keep my wife happy about me sitting on the computer every night), then even better!

Soap Box Time:
Research your religion, challenge what you were born into, confront superstition, escape intellectual restrictions. Religion is thought-control. That is how it has been used for thousands of years, and we should all be ashamed that we have not discarded it's archaic hold on our minds.

Look into the universe, look into the sub-atomic world, marvel at what you find. There is nothing more magical and fascinating than the realities of science, especially the dogma of ancient superstition. Look into it, for yourself, your children, and the future of humanity.
End Soap Box.

Administrative Issues:

I am trying to reach out and support outspoken atheists. I have somewhat tried to find the myspace page for Jeremy Hall, the Army Spec 4 who was threatened for being an atheist. I am also trying to reach out to Pete Stark, the California Senator who finally admitted to his atheism. His site only allows contact from constituents, which is understandable. If anyone has some ideas to support these free-thinkers on the front lines, please let me know.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Athest Blog Roll... Hell Yes.

I wanted to publicly thank Mojoey for including me in the Atheist Blogroll. To help the cause, bring publicity to the list, and fight the ole' interweb fight, here is the entire list as of today:

Join the best atheist themed blogroll!
Technorati Profile

Monday, October 1, 2007

Win Ben Stein's Religious Endorsement

I know I'm late on this.... but...What the hell? Should I be surprised that sort-of media star, former Nixon speech writer, and pop culture icon Ben Stein is supporting Intelligent Design?! Why Ben, why? I guess my disappointment is the way he is supporting the cause, by starring as the main interviewer/narrator of the new documentary of ID called Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. This is the one that rounded up some great atheist spokesmen and biologists and interviewed them under false pretenses, after which they "quote-mined" the interviews for anything that could be used against them. Some articles have stated this was a Michael Moore-style documentary, in the way it spins interviews of the opposition into the message of the movie. Michael Moore, for all his spinning and shortcomings as a fact finder, does not try to convince the world that there are alternative theories to gravity, or another viable option to mathematics.

This movie, in short, is unbelievable bullshit. In all attempt to not rant and rave, how can rational people sponsor such pseudo-science and mysticism? The Atheist Ethicist does a very well done letter to Ben Stein here, that says it better than I can.

The sad fact is that intelligent design will be the embarrassment of our generation. Future generations will look back at this backlash to the increasing understanding of scientific principles and theories, and feel sympathy for our poor, back water intellects. Intellects of a large number of people who were unable to accept that their 2000 year old book may not be 100% accurate.

I fear the future for our children, for a great number of reasons. If we can tell them that evolution is flawed and there are viable alternatives within the realm of superstition, then we can also tell them that the ice caps are not really melting, their just migrating south for the winter. We can tell them that oil comes from an infinite well at the core of the planet. We can tell them that solar energy is too expensive and not-feasible. Yes, we are already telling them most of this stuff. Sad.