The Day I Almost Went Over Niagara Falls

Niagara

Dear (un-named deity), how did I ever survive childhood, to become the Grumpy Old Dude that I am today??

Early in the 1960s, my Father took our family to Niagara Falls. We rented a little cabin in the village of Chippewa, 5 miles above the Falls. I don’t know what it’s like there now, but back then you could stroll along the Canadian-side bank of the river, like a continuous park. Having been told of a picturesque picnic area, one day we set off downstream to take advantage of it.

If I was 6 or 7 years old, my brother was 3 or 4, and my Mother was busy holding or carrying him. Dad was laden with a box, full of food and drink, and I wandered along behind them. About halfway to our destination, there was a gnarly tree, growing out of the bank at a 45 degree angle, out over the river.

Someone had tied a rope to a branch, and a group of 13/14 year old boys were using it to swing out, and splash into the river. One lad would climb/walk up into the tree, and flick the end of the rope up to his compatriots. One by one they’d launch themselves, swim back, and one of them would take the spot in the tree.

I had a tree at home. It had a rope in it. I liked trees. I liked ropes. I liked swinging. 😯 When all had plunged into the river, I asked the kid in the tree if I could swing from the rope. Sure! And he flicked the end up to me.

I launched myself off the 8-foot high bank, and enjoyed a magnificent swing. I didn’t learn to swim until I was 14. When I reached the extent of the outward swing, I realized that I couldn’t let go – a little late! Holding on for dear life I swung back in, but the arc of the inward swing is never as long as the outward one, and it was nowhere near long enough to put me back up on that bank.

Actually, the point nearest the bank would have been the best time to let go. I’d have smacked into the clay and rock, and would have been able to scramble up the bank, dry and safe, but my Grade 1 brain was busy trying to figure out the physics of this whole thing.

Back out I swung. These guys wanted their rope back, and were shouting, “Let go! Let go!” Once more I swung back inward, this time again the arc becoming much shorter. As I reached the inner apogee – right or wrong – I let go…. and splashed down three feet from dry land.

I was used to a well-mannered Lake Huron, where you could walk out 100 feet before it got chest deep. In this river, three feet out put me in chin-deep water. Still, I scrambled out, and rejoined my family. If either parent noticed that my shoes, shorts and tee-shirt were drenched, neither of them mentioned it. Only later did I realize that I could have climbed up the rope, and down the tree, safely. At the time, I was a bit too busy to think of that. What do you think?? A young fool became an old one??  😕

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A Collection Of Atheism-Related Quotes

atheist-i-am

“Through the prior assumption that his beliefs of faith are true, the Christian necessarily concludes that any ‘conflict’ between reason and faith is a mistake. He does not want contradictions, so he will refuse to accept anything as evidence of a contradiction. There is no apparent contradiction that cannot be explained away — even if it entails the castration of the Christian religion and the sacrifice of reason.”

George H. Smith, Atheism: The Case Against God

“Whenever a man imagines that he need only believe the truth of a proposition, without evidence … he becomes capable of anything.”

Sam Harris, The End of Faith

“Because religious doctrines are supposedly ordained of God, the religious adherent cannot easily question the teachings of his chosen church, even when those teachings are provably false. The scientist, on the other hand, is most rewarded when he proves the conventional wisdom wrong and revolutionizes our understanding of the universe.”

David Mills, Atheist Universe

“At this very moment, millions of sentient people are suffering unimaginable physical and mental afflictions, in circumstances where the compassion of God is nowhere to be seen, and the compassion of human beings is often hobbled by preposterous ideas about sin and salvation.”

Sam Harris, Letter To A Christian Nation

“Monotheists have to practise intellectual gymnastics to explain how an all-knowing, all-powerful and perfectly good God allows so much suffering in the world.”

Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

“Religious faith is, precisely because we are still-evolving creatures, ineradicable. It will never die out, or at least not until we get over our fear of death, and of the dark, and of the unknown, and of each other.”

Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great

“Being an atheist is nothing to be apologetic about. On the contrary, it is something to be proud of … ”

Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

 

Flash Fiction #196

Oy

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

OY

Trump doesn’t govern well because he has poor advisors – not that he listens to anyone. The guys who really know how to run the country are all cutting hair, or driving taxis. The difference between a good haircut and a bad one, is two weeks. The difference between a calm cab ride and a butt-clencher, is prayer.

What was the DMV thinking, licensing these guys?? They drive like they were still in Beirut or Mumbai.
AAAHK – WATCH OUT FOR THAT BUS!!

I’ll just cover my eyes and hope for the best. I picked a fine time to be an Atheist.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

Is Atheism A Bad Idea?

Atheism

He was an Atheist for 40 years, then one day, he became Catholic. (Or so he claims. I suspect a troll.) Not A Catholic – merely Catholic. He and I had some words. They grew too numerous for a comments column…. so here we are again.

And how miserable does atheism make you? Choosing it is a bit like choosing to be fatherless in the world. Left to your own devices.

For someone claiming to be Atheist for forty years, his assumptions and questions are bewildering. He seems to imply that morality must be applied from outside. A moral framework must be accepted internally, even if it is supplied from the outside. I know “Good Catholics” who believe in divorce and remarriage, gay marriage, and priests being married – all ‘sins’ to the church. Atheism does not make people miserable. It frees them to enjoy the natural beauty of the world and the Universe, revel in the companionship of friends and family, and be proud of how much better they’ve made and left it all.

He seems to feel that he needs some kind of social and moral crutch. Most Atheists want to be left to their own devices. They have the strength of will and character to deal with life and reality on their own. Is he too stupid or lazy to formulate and apply his own moral code??

True Atheists simply do not see convincing evidence of the existence of God, or gods. They do not “choose” to be Atheist. Anyone who claims they do, or that someone else did, is mistaken and often an intentional liar.

Do you have children? Do you have a set of values? How do you pass them on? Do you even want to pass them on or do you want to just let the thousands of ancestors of yours who struggled to survive only for you to say, “eff it, my line is OUT”? (He wants me to continue to be Christian – and fruitful – simply to please my dead predecessors??!)

I have a set of values – Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you. – which is neither original, nor exclusive, to the Bible. Do the greatest good for the greatest number. I passed them on to my children, and now to our grandson – who received a small award in college for his assistance to others. I not only told them to aid and be kind to others. I showed them how, by doing it myself. From empirical observation, our practiced moral values are better than many ‘Good Christians.’

I certainly feel my/our moral values should be passed on. Some of my ancestors were deeply religious. Others were completely not, but I’m sure that all of them would agree and be proud of me and the good I do.

I hear you and agree with most of what you say, however, I don’t condemn all of Christianity because some people abuse it or make it look bad. But let me ask you this question, beyond those phrases like “do unto others” how do you guide someone to resolve complicated moral issues? Do you ever talk with your children about morals? Is that enough to lead a person through every moral quagmire he or she might face? Not in my view.

He doesn’t say why he feels that’s not enough. Perhaps I’m simplistic, but I do. Adultery is wrong – not necessarily a sin – but wrong. Her husband may beat her, or ignore her. That makes it more complicated, but that’s social, not moral. It’s still wrong. You wouldn’t want to be her husband, nor her to be your wife. You’re not doing unto others, nor the greatest good for the greatest number.

I grew up in an atheist household, and we had some discussion of morals but it was very infrequent. Until atheism offers me the discipline of continually working to be a good person, I decided I’m done with it. And given that atheists or secularists tend to not marry or have kids at nearly the rates of religious people, how do you expect your values to live on beyond a generation or two?

I don’t view life – or religion – as a contest to be won. I hope to influence my descendants, and society in general, by my example. I would not dare to attempt to impose my code on others. People who do that are called ISIS. I believe my opinion to be the best, but if it dies out after I do, that’s not my problem.

Unlike Religion, Atheism has no real structure. There is no Pope, no hierarchy, no Bible, no tenets, no dogma, no sin, and no handy rule-book with a ready-made list of acceptable actions. People have to work that out on their own. He makes no mention of belief in God, Jesus Christ, salvation, Heaven, or everlasting life. He just wants someone to hold his moral hand and lead him down the Holy Garden path. It’s like someone wanting to save the Earth from Global Warming, but buying a Hummer because it has cool wheels.

Hummer

Jim says

“The reason you returned to religion is self interest. That’s how it always is. Just because you failed to find a meaningful life outside of faith, you have joined the herd to find solace. I, and many like me, find complete satisfaction finding our own way in the world. You on the other hand, profess belief in something you don’t believe, to have community. That is hypocrisy and lacks integrity.

There is no meaning but what you make it. Searching for it inside of prearranged dogma is cheating yourself of possibilities. Spirituality comes in billions of options that are quite fulfilling outside the plug-and-play religions. It’s even true inside religion. Everyone just picks the parts they want to believe anyway. Your mind has now been hijacked by the herd.”

 

Ego And Insecurity – Episode 2

Bible

Trying to debate the existence of God, with someone who has renounced critical, rational, logical thinking, is like trying to administer medication to a dead body.

A Fundamentalist Christian recently declared that, if he found a passage in the Bible which stated that two plus two equaled five, he would unquestioningly believe it. Another was quoted as saying that, if it was proved to him that the entire Bible had been written by forgers, he would still believe that they were Divinely-inspired forgers. Who could have a meaningful debate, or even an intelligent conversation, with someone with such desperately hidebound assumptions?

A recent Christian response to anyone presenting Biblical mistakes or contradictions, has been to defensively ask (demand), “Do you think that you are smarter than me?” That question is as vague, insecure, irrelevant and meaningless as all their unproven beliefs and claims. Smartness is almost impossible to define or measure. I’ve written of a woman so clueless that she didn’t realize that she had Polish ancestry. Yet she owned three homes, while my MENSA-grade IQ was still paying rent.

“Smart” is not the matter at hand. Instead, it is the gullible, sheep-like, unthinking, dogmatic rejection of any portion of evidence of reality that conflicts with their (and their church/religion’s) unthinking hope/wish that their existence was exactly the way they needed it to be, to make them feel good about their life choices.

I realize that ‘salvation’, and ‘eternal life’, are very important concepts. It’s just that far too many people put far too much belief and energy into things that have no real connection to God. In a legal sense, I’ll stipulate to the existence of God. That means that I may, or may not, accept the concept, but I’ll allow it for the purposes of discussion. I’ll also, grudgingly, agree to ‘Christ as Savior.’

ALL the rest, is bullshit! Petty rules and orders, dreamed up by men, for the benefit of men. God doesn’t need you to kneel. Even if He did, he’d want you down on BOTH knees, not just the right one, with the left foot forward. He doesn’t care if you accept Him, dabbed with ashes, or oil, with a little water sprinkled on you, or dunked whole-hog in a creek or pond.

I can manage to get born, married and die without some guy in a funny hat and dress being there to demand his 10% – not for GOD, but for him, and his church. Ritual actions can be important, not in terms of God, Jesus, and salvation, but for ‘the group – the congregation,’ as well as those performing them, so that the group will accept them.

They are an external indication of an internal decision of belief, but no specific rites or actions are any more “right”, (or wrong) than any others. Lutherans will not go to Hell, just because they don’t genuflect, no matter what your priest/preacher tells you. In the Old West, preachers were often not available. Many couples were ‘married’ by gathering friends and family, and performing some overt, ritual act, like ‘jumping over a broom,’ with a Bible present.

“Church” becomes a place where we go once a week, to pass judgement on others. A lot of folks would do well to dispense with the irrelevant details, dreamed up and enforced by men, having nothing to do with God, Christ, or salvation, and concentrate more on ‘Love thy neighbor’, and ‘Do unto others….’

Episode 1 is here, if you’re interested.

I Really Must Stop Doing That

Thumbs Down

I really must stop reading Christian Apologetics’ blog-posts. While many of them are mind-bogglingly irritating, yet in their own way, they can be so interesting and humorous that I feel that I should share them with my readers. I recently realized that I’ve been posting about one a month, when I really should be focussing on more serious issues, like whether the recently imposed tariffs mean that Donald Trump will run short of macaroni and cheese-flavored hair-dye.

Like my That’s Not Funny post, I recently read this one.

A father was reading a story to his young son about cosmetology and likened the earth to a ball sitting on the back of a huge turtle. The young boy replied “but dad who made the turtle and what is holding up the turtle” “The father replied its, “turtles all the way down.” Young children may ask, “Who made the turtle,” grown men do not.

It’s nice to be shown in the very first line, that the author doesn’t even know the difference between Cosmology – and Cosmetology, which is the science of producing, or applying makeup. Perhaps he was trying to put lipstick on that ‘Creation’ myth pig. Who reads to a ‘young son’ from a book on Cosmology?? And what Cosmology book has the Earth sitting on a turtle??  Even the Bible has it sitting on four pillars.

How can you tell a Christian Fundamentalist? You can’t! They only believe what they want to believe. I hit a post titled ‘Should a Christian Drink Alcohol?’, and commented, ‘Not only did Jesus drink alcohol, but he changed jugs of water into wine so that everyone at the wedding could drink also.’ I got back, That wine couldn’t have been alcoholic. All I’m trying to say is that we should always be on duty for Jesus.

A local woman’s Op-Ed letter said

Wicca is a dark art

It’s easy to see why Wicca is growing in popularity among young women today. It worships the “goddess” and the sacred feminine, which feels like a celebration of womanhood. It offers power and control over the spiritual world through its magic, spells, and divination. It also treats nature with great reverence, an appealing idea to a generation that grew up with wanting to “save the Earth”.

But while these things sound good, anyone with long-term involvement in this complex religion (associated with witchcraft, occultism and neo-paganism) knows what this story failed to reveal – there is more to Wicca than meets the eye.

Wiccans want you to believe that it’s all fun, unrelated to evil, Satanism and dark forces, but many ex-Wiccans tell a different story.

Though popular movies and books like ‘Harry Potter’ would have you believe otherwise, there is no such thing as “white magic.” Interacting with spirits and spiritual forces any way one chooses eventually leads down a path of destruction.

I could have written that she had nothing to worry about. Black, white, polka-dot or plaid –MAGIC DOES NOT EXIST! Perhaps she hadn’t noticed that all the Harry Potter books are sold in the Fiction section. I refrained from submitting a letter of rebuttal because, as Jim Croce said, “You don’t spit into the wind.”

A writer claimed that “Atheism Proves God’s Existence” with this….

I can’t answer that question for you, but I do know that when I was an atheist, I wanted nothing more than to kill it; kill creationism. Especially Christianity! Why? Because my biggest fear was that it was all true. I knew there was a God and that his existence was axiomatic, but if I could just stamp out the flame of Christianity, maybe it will become less real. If I hung out with likeminded individuals that supported my claims, maybe I could drown out the evidence with their baseless words. If I can deny the creator, maybe I could be free of him. So, for me, the greatest evide

***

Your final, unfinished, incomplete paragraph proves that you are/were lying….to others, and apparently, to yourself. By definition, an Atheist is a person who does not believe in the existence of God (or gods). “I knew there was a God and that his existence was axiomatic,” “If I can deny the creator, maybe I could be free of him.”
If you ‘knew’ there was a God, and tried to be free of him, then ‘by definition’ you were not an Atheist, no matter what you thought, or claimed to be to others. You were just a rebellious, failed Christian and linguist.

***

This is the exact response I was expecting. 

Look how offended you are? Why? Because I don’t believe what you believe? Because I’m attacking your religion? What’s the reason for you to attack my use of the English language? Because your hurt over the fact what I’m saying is true, obviously.

If what I was saying wasn’t true, you’d have ignored it. Thank you for proving my point. The bottom line is, atheist reject God because they know full well he exist and you might not like that he has a standard of objective morality they do not subscribe to. As the bible says, they love darkness. If your hostility doesn’t show you that, then nothing will.

God bless.

***

I wasn’t so much ‘offended’, as dismayed and depressed by the language misusage, and the obvious contradictions. I don’t know how he thinks that he’s attacking my religion. He doesn’t even know, from that comment, what my religion is. What I am offended by is idiots, and liars, and lying idiots. I just love that, after laying an illiterate bitch session on me, he signs off with that self-righteous “God bless.”

I sometimes wonder what color the sky is, in the tiny world that these people inhabit. I’m off to do some non-religious research. I’ll see you soon in my world of sunshine and bright blue skies. 😀

What’s Wrong With A Comfortable Delusion?

What’s Wrong With A Comfortable Delusion??!  Take a look here.

Delusion

Some Christians get upset when others argue against all their unproven assumptions. There’s everything from the ranting and raving, “How dare you disagree?” to a less confrontational, honest request for quiet acceptance of their beliefs and actions.

This morning, I found a YouTube video from The Atheist Experience, with the above title. Then I came down to read the newspaper, and found this article.

Farmer burned down barn, shot at house

Actions a ‘cry for help,’ judge says, sentencing man to 22 months for arson, firearms offences

In a ‘cry for help’, a depressed and guilt-ridden Mennonite farmer set three fires on his property – including one that burned his barn to the ground, killing seven cattle and a horse, causing $400,000 damage. Later he shot five or six times at his house with a .22 caliber rifle, while his wife and two young children were inside.

“It would appear that much of his angst arose from guilt that he felt over pursuing some secular interests that may have been contrary to his religious teachings.”

His lawyer was asked outside court about his secular interests. “He got a phone, as necessary for the operation of his cattle farm. The cell-phone was a Smart Phone, with access to the internet, and he started to retreat to the barn to watch Hollywood movies. So he was watching movies like “Superman” or something. It wasn’t pornography or anything.”

What’s wrong with a little comfortable delusion? Nothing, until it changes to psychopathy, and becomes uncomfortable, both for the deluded person, and the rest of society.

This is not an isolated incident, and it’s not restricted to Christians. The same paper contained an article about a Christian Pakistani woman who has been held in jail for 7 years, much of that in solitary, because a neighbor accused her of blasphemy. The raging mob demanded her execution, and that of the judge who finally freed her.

Don’t be deluded; it can be very dangerous.

Speaking of being deluded…. My contract says that I’ll be back here in a couple of days, I hope, with a new 100-word Flash Fiction.  Don’t let me down.  🙂