Flash Fiction #137

God's Dice

PHOTO PROMPT© CEAyr

CONNECT THE DOTS

Steeped in the all-permeating Christian culture of the early Twentieth Century, Albert Einstein is said to have claimed that, “God does not play dice with the Universe.”

No less religious, but perhaps more pragmatic, Stephen Hawking insists that, “Of course God plays dice with the Universe. Just sometimes He throws them where we can’t see them.”

I don’t think that I’ve found evidence of God playing dice, but this might be proof of a minor god, or a giant, playing dominoes.  (Not ordering Domino’s – all gods and giants eat at Papa John’s or Pizza Hut.)  Is that a double six?

***

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

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The Smartest People Say The Dumbest Things

atheist-i-am

Perhaps tired of having ‘God’ and Christianity shoved down their throats, in their Government, and into their schools, many Atheists, agnostics and free-thinkers can become a little bit testy and aggressive.

The older, wiser, calmer leaders of the movements often advise the firebrands not to call Christians or Christianity stupid. “They’ll just try harder to defend their position.  You’ll never change their minds with insults.”

Personally, I’d settle for ‘Live And Let Live.’ Minds are not going to change, not when a well-known scientist, a PhD in Paleontology, who knows about evolution and that the Earth is really 4.5 billion years old, says that, when he goes home, he believes that the world is only 6000 years old, because that’s what his religion tells him, despite scientific evidence to the contrary.

If the above admonition is to be taken seriously, then, the smartest people in the world say the dumbest things. There is a group of people, both professional and amateur, known as Christian Apologetics, from the Greek word ‘apologia’, meaning speaking in defense.

They make it their crusade to provide answers for questions, and explanations for the doubts, of non-believers. They could be named Pretzels, for the mental gymnastics and theosophical knots they tie themselves in, trying to buttress their blind faith.

Some of their claims are amazing, and just mind-numbing.
Atheists really believe in God, but they don’t believe in Satan, so that they can sin.

Yin Yang

This is like believing in Bugs Bunny, but not Elmer Fudd – Sonny, without Cher – salt, but no pepper, or Yin, with no Yang! They come in matched sets.  Belief in one of them enforces the need to believe in the other.

BTW, nice backhand insult, that Atheists sin….because we all know that believers in God never sin.

Atheists are angry at God for something He did, and deny His existence.

This is dumber than the first one. If I believed in ‘God’, to be angry at Him, I’d believe in His omniscience, and know that, even if something happened that angered me, He works in mysterious ways, and it would be for my good, or the good of all.

Even if I were angry at God, I’d still believe in His power, and know that denying Him would result in everlasting torment. This is like a five-year-old, running around with his fingers in his ears, yelling La La La.  Mommy will still spank.  Angry or not, I gotta believe.

Atheists really believe in God, they just don’t know they do.

This one confuses the Hell out of me – so to speak. Does this mean that, even if I deny that God exists, I still get to go to Heaven??  If that’s the case, what’s the fuss?

If someone showed you proof that God existed, would you believe in Him then?
Duh! That’s what this dispute is all about, but nobody’s done it, in 2000 years.  Atheists and Agnostics are not petulant children, rebelling simply for the attention.  This belief by ‘smart’ Christians, simply shows how foolishly desperate they are.

A female phoned in to The Atheist Experience podcast, and asked, “If Y’all don’t believe in God, then who do you worship?” She was told that Atheists don’t believe in deities, so they don’t worship any. “Then y’all worship Satan.” They told her that they did not believe in either God or Satan, so they didn’t worship either. “Well, my preacher told me that, if y’all don’t worship God, then you worship Satan.” The one moderator said, “Then he lied to you.” and thereby made a mistake.  He had no more proof that the preacher had actually, intentionally lied, than the preacher had that they worshipped Satan.

“Well, if that ain’t the truth, then why would he have said it?” (Oh, so many reasons!) This gave the moderator a chance to retract his earlier gaffe.  “He may have been in error.  He may have wrongly believed something that someone else told him, but he does not know, and he has no right to make claims about who Atheists may, or may not, worship.”

A recent post that I read, attributed Christians’ belief in an ‘Assault On Christianity,’ to the rise of the internet, but the Information Age stretches back even further than that.  As long as any religion could fester in its own dark little private hole, like the five-year-old above, they could close their eyes, plug their ears and pretend that they were the only, or at least the most important.

Now that TV, movies, videos and all the other new social media keep displaying the fact that there is a large majority of other people on Earth with contrary opinions, insecurity sets in, and they get their particular emotional/religious crutch kicked out from under them.  This ‘new assault’ isn’t new. It’s been there all along.  They’ve just never had it brought to their attention, or had to face it. 😯

I don’t believe that all Christians are stupid….but some of them say real dumb shit!

manure

The Wages Of Sin

ten-commandments

I recently read a post from a young(ish) woman, titled, “I saved myself for marriage, and now I can’t have sex with my husband.” [Tough luck. Looks good on you. Oops – did I type that out loud?]

She had had a string of boyfriends since high school, but had informed each of them that she intended to remain a virgin until she was married. Perhaps that explains the ‘string of boyfriends.’  She was 26, and her husband was 27.  Maybe one or both were beginning to get a bit desperate.

She had been raised in an ultra-conservative, Fundamentalist-Christian home, and had it pounded into her, and pounded into her….and POUNDED into her, that premarital sex was evil, dirty, sinful! She suffered from vaginismus, a painful spasming of the vaginal walls which made it virtually impossible to engage in intercourse.  I find it ‘interesting’ that they did not find this out until they returned from their honeymoon in The Bahamas.

Possibly it was only the diagnosis and name of the affliction that they found out. While not ‘common,’ this problem is well-known in psychiatric circles.  It occurs in many other hyper-Christian families.  The girls are told over and over and over that sex (and by extension, them, if they perform it) is bad, bad, bad.

Nothing is said about the acceptability – inevitability – necessity – of marital relations. When these women try to have sanctioned sex, they are still overwhelmed by the cognitive dissonance.  No-one ever tells them about the good side.  No-one ever tells them about anything except the evil.

She now goes for daily(?) physiotherapy, and weekly psychotherapy. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just hire a hooker to come over a couple of times a week?

When I was young, and learning about sex, my Father obtained a couple of comedy albums by a bawdy Jewish woman who worked in Nevada and Catskills clubs. She said, if you liked her act, her name was Rusty Warren.  If you didn’t, it was Lois Lipchitz.

Come early – get a good seat. She would pick a woman down front wearing a vee-neck sweater, and ask her if the V stood for virgin.  “Hmm, must be an old sweater.”  She told a story that she claimed happened to her.

Every day, as she left for school, her mother sang the same cautionary song.  “Don’t take gum!  Don’t take candy!  Don’t talk to strange men!  Don’t ride in strange cars. Keep your legs crossed, your panties up, and come home from school in a group!  And whatever you do, DON’T DO IT!”

Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3….especially when she went to high school, the admonition was always the same. “Don’t take gum!  Don’t take candy!  Don’t talk to strange men!  Don’t ride in strange cars!  Keep your legs crossed, your panties up, and come home from school in a group.  And remember….DON’T DO IT! Don’t do it!

She finally got a boyfriend, who became her fiancé. On the day of her wedding, her mother was with her at the Synagogue.  As the happy couple ran down the steps to their car, her Mother yelled, “It’s OK!  You’re married!  Now you can do it!”

She stuck her head out the window of the car, with a confused look on her face and said, “Do what??!  You never told me!”

These ‘Good Christians’ tell the rest of us that the wages of sin is death, but the wages of this self-righteous hypocrisy is….truly Karmic.   😯

Religism

Bible    Koran

Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘Religism’ as animosity, intolerance, conflict, oppression or bigotry towards religions or belief systems.

Archon’s Street-Usage Dictionary, based on keen observation of desperately insecure individuals and groups, defines it as opposing, doubting, not holding, or even merely QUESTIONING any religion or particular set of beliefs.

It is a particularly useful concept and term for the most adamantly religious, to allow them to hold and foment the most extreme acts and views.  They couch the holding of every position except theirs as an attack, to justify outrageous actions.

He who takes offence, when none is offered, is a fool! – Brigham Young

Groups like the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and ISIS view the very existence of the peaceful, democratic freedom of Western society as an affront to their particular narrow view, and claim that it needs to be met with IEDs, torture and beheadings, to ‘defend’ the Muslim faith.

At home, it is only the rule of law which protects all segments of society, and prevents some of the more Fundamentalist Christian groups and individuals from going that far.  I feel that thugs like the Westboro Baptist Church should be weeded out, root and branch.  I grant them the right to hold their noxious opinions, but not to disrupt polite society by ‘defending’ them with graceless attacks and accusations.

I recently read a quote from the President of the Christian Screenwriters’ Guild.  The very existence of this group says, “We’re better than you, and we’re going to fight for the right to keep telling you that.”  They’re the kind who refuse to be inclusive, and view any attempt to speak of plural ‘Happy Holidays’, and add the year-end celebrations of any other Faiths, as Religism, and an attack on Christmas.

The somewhat dated quote, from Barbara Pelosi said, “I find it beyond naïve, to convince myself that the folks who are lapping up The Da Vinci Code are on a ‘search for truth.’ They’re not. They’re on a crusade to validate their own rejection of the authority of Christ and the Church.”

As an analogy, which she and many other Christians would refuse to accept: – Barack Obama is the President of the United States. Within legal limits, his word is law. He is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and his orders must be obeyed. He has the authority!

But wait. I live in Canada, a completely separate country. I don’t have to obey him, or even respect him, and the truth is, our rejection of him and ‘his authority’ doesn’t make my Prime Minister the Devil, nor do I live in Hell. People like Pelosi have convinced themselves that the ‘authority of Christ and the Church’ is universal and valid, and any rejection is an attack. They simply can’t accept that their faithfully believed “TRUTH” could be wrong, or anyone else’s, right.

If Christians go to other countries to convince ‘misguided’ natives to accept the Christian faith, they are viewed as kindly missionaries.  If the natives object to these interfering do-gooders, and they end up in prison, or dead, they achieve the exalted status of Martyrs.

If people of other faiths attempt to do the same thing to Christians, they are insultingly dismissed as ‘Heathens’, and, until a couple of hundred years ago, would have been tortured and burned at the stake as heretics, by a Church ‘defending itself from an attack on its narrow set of beliefs.’

In a recent MSN article about the 20th anniversary of the movie Pulp Fiction, the line uttered by Samuel L. Jackson’s character, just before he killed someone, was quoted.  “Ezekiel 25:17. The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.”

As an English language purist, I questioned whether the word should have been “iniquities”, so I looked it up in ‘one of my Bibles’.  Ezekiel 25:17 does not exist!  Nor does Ezekiel 17:25.  They say that you can get people to agree with almost anything, if you tell them that, “Benjamin Franklin said it.”  Evangelical Christians just claim, “It’s in the Bible.” whether it is or not.  Pay no attention to that deluded person behind the curtain of a “Holy Book!”

 

The Skeptic’s Fate

The miraculous tale that you tell

I don’t credit.  I’m under no spell.

I don’t swallow events

when there’s no evidence.

So I guess that I’m going to Hell.

 

P.S.

English-speaking Christians have ‘The Bible.’  Sometimes it is ‘The Holy Bible’.  In selecting the picture of the Koran above, I found that English-speaking Muslims have ‘ The Koran, The Holy Koran The Noble Koran, The Glorious Koran, and a companion study volume, whose title firmly states, “There Are No Contradictions in the Koran!”  I am underwhelmed by religion.  🙄

 

Not One Of Us!

This post could be considered Part 2 of my Ego And Insecurity post   I want to talk about “Those People”.  These are the ones that you find in every social, business, and political situation.  Perhaps it’s just me, but it seems the worst, the most noticeable, are to be found in religion.

These are the people who, to feel good, have to make others feel bad.  For them to stand tall, it must be on the bodies of their enemies and rivals, or at least on top of those they feel inferior to them – pretty much everybody.  For them to be the biggest frog, they just shrink the pond – exclude, exclude, exclude!

I laughed –behind my hand, and behind the back of – one young new-age New Order Mennonite lad that I worked with.  He was a member of a very elite, very select, break-away sect, comprised of all of 15 members, believing that they, and they alone, knew the road to Heaven, and possessed the keys to the holy gates when they got there.  They were SO different – just like all the others.

The logical end to these exclusionary beliefs and actions, lies with a population of one, the solitary psychopath, who believes that only he counts, and the rest of the world is there for him to do with as he wishes.  Evangelical Christianity is therefore but one short step away from both insanity and criminal behavior, and a disturbing number use their religion, to justify committing the others.

It was not a great surprise that there is a term to describe the actions and attitudes I’ve previously observed and written about.  I was somewhat disappointed that I’d reached almost the age of 70, before I found out what it is.  I was greatly disturbed that it was my ancestors (great thinkers they) who produced it, and I was not aware!

It is known as the, “No True Scotsman Theorem.”  No True Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge!  Wait a minute, I put sugar on my porridge.  That just proves my point.  You’re not a true Scotsman.  Christianity is the religion of love and peace.  What about the Crusades, and the Inquisition?  Well, those weren’t True Christians.  If you own the definition, you can’t be wrong.

An eight-year-old girl was expelled from a Catholic school in California, because she didn’t fit the board’s definition of what a girl was.  She was a tom-boy, who wanted to play ball, and wrestle in the mud.  She wanted to dress in sweatshirts and jeans.  They wanted her in skirts and pink dresses.  She was accused of “gender confusion” because she wanted to go into the boys’ washroom – probably just curious, but the curiosity was more dangerous to the status quo than the non-existent sexual content.

The board denied the gender and dress-code accusations, and said that the reason she was expelled, was that she didn’t follow rules – which is true.  When you write the rules, and seize the definitions, she couldn’t be a “True Catholic,” or a “True Girl.”  Another Catholic elementary school quickly accepted her – but they probably weren’t “True Catholics” either.

The wife and I watch a number of British Television series on a specialty channel.  Last fall we got a new one we liked, imported all the way from Australia, titled Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, set in about 1930.

Miss Fisher is a 30ish, flapper-girl, monied Aussie, exempt from the worst of the beginning American Depression.  She is very intelligent, and independent-minded, like the little girl above.  She has joined a circus, traveled the world, learned self-defence, acquired a hammerless, gold-plated .45 calibre revolver, a nasty little garter-dagger, and come back to Melbourne to solve crimes.

She inherits a 20ish, sheltered, naïve, country-girl maid from a society woman she puts away for murder and drug smuggling.  At a time when Australia was PROTESTANT, this girl wears a tiny gold cross around her neck.  The producers and writers apparently like to point out religious hypocrisies, contradictions and exclusions.

The young police constable wants to get to know her, but quickly pulls back when he spots the gold cross – she might be Catholic.  “Go ahead,” his Inspector urges him, “It’s not as if she has two heads!”  “She might as well have, if my mother finds out.”

When she begins work for our heroine, she refuses to answer an often-ringing telephone.  Her priest has told her that this new-fangled gadget is “un-natural,” the electricity leaks into the planet, and too much usage will cause the Earth to explode.

You can protest that this is just the strange opinion of only one man, but, he’s the infallible, heavenly-inspired, to-be-blindly-obeyed, man in a position of authority, who tells her what she may and may not do to ensure her everlasting soul going to Heaven .

One scene shows her going to bed, clad in her voluminous nightgown, kneeling by the side of her bed, saying her prayers, like a six-year-old.  After asking God to protect the well-being of her parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins, her new employer and fellow servants, the butcher, and the penguins at the zoo – she finally gets around to asking Him to protect the handsome young Police Constable.

“And, if You have enough time, God, after doing all of that for me, I would really appreciate it if you could give Constable Collins a Signthat You are Catholic.”

Some Atheist Thoughts

JESUS
Jesus wasn’t gay! He just hung around with twelve other guys. He was a radical, non-violent Revolutionary who hung around with lepers, hookers and crooks; wasn’t American and never spoke English; was anti-wealth, anti death penalty, anti-public prayer (M. 6-5); but was never anti-gay, anti-abortion or birth control, never called the poor lazy, never justified torture, never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes, never asked a leper for a co-pay, and was a long-haired, brown-skinned, homeless, community-organizing, anti-slut-shaming, Middle Eastern Jew.

***
A young truck-driver who regularly attends the Free Thinkers meetings is as aggressively Atheist as many Christians, to the point that, if someone were to bless him, a fist-fight might occur. He is religiously confrontational and wears a variety of printed tee-shirts, such as one which says, “Abortion just means babies’ souls get to meet God earlier.”

Tattoo

Like many truckers, he has several tattoos. He recently added this Atheist one, on the inside of his right forearm.

 
That’s what it looks like on the skin. The picture below is clearer, taken right from the online tattoo catalog. Like the brands in Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons book, it is an ambigram, reading the same thing, both right side up, and upside down. You can prove this by standing on your head, but I want photos of you doing it. He says it means that, coming or going, he’s a good Atheist.
atheist tattoo
The following is another, more triangular ambigram version of the word atheist.
triangle-atheist

 

 

This picture is of a two-word ambigram. One way, it says Atheist, the other, it reads Godless.
godless-atheist
Many Good Christians, consciously or unconsciously, hypocritically believe that, simply by dint of being Christian, everything atheist-i-amthey do is somehow Good and Honorable. Ergo, they also believe that anything done by non-Christians, is Mean and Evil. I am much tempted to purchase this tee-shirt to remind them they may be wrong, but I don’t go out enough to justify the expense. Maybe the trucker has one – or would like one. Hmmm, must talk to him about it.

Book Review #5

Finally, a book I can be proud to admit I read.

The Author – Jonathan Haidt

The Book – The Righteous Mind

Subtitled – Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

The Review

4-The Righteous MindI might as well start with the book itself.  The dust cover is printed with what looks like a knife slash from corner to corner, with a black gap, showing how “good people” are “divided.”  Despite the subtitle promising to tell why people are divided, nowhere in the book is it explained.  That folks are divided on many topics is emphasised, and the How and Where is demonstrated, but the Why is never given.

On the blurb page, a promise is given to show how to win an argument against someone whose views you do not agree with.  I read it very carefully.  It involves empathizing with your opponent until you Become them, and then slowly and gently lead them away from their position, towards yours.

Sort of like, if I want my neighbor to stop kicking his dog, I bring him over to my place to watch me kick my dog, to show him how much the dog hurts.  I don’t want to lose my morals and empathize till I become the narrow-minded asshole I’ve come to hate.  I’d sooner use the direct approach, and just kick the neighbor till he agrees to stop.

The book itself is a hardcover, each page with twice as much printing as my little paperbacks.  A quick check at the back shows 420 pages, equal to 840 pages of my normal reading.  If I’m not careful I might end up learning something before I’m done.

But wait, it’s been a while since I read a book like this.  The final 110 pages aren’t actually part of the book.  A third of it is a list of people and their research that he stole from, to formulate his theories.  Another third is notes to explain how he twisted their square ideas to fit his round pigeonholes, and the final third is an index to guide you to where you can worship his multifaceted brilliance.

That leaves only 310/620 pages of real reading.  Perhaps I’ll only get a clue when I’m done.

The author is a moral psychologist.  This doesn’t mean that he gives a damn if you’re screwing the neighbor, drinking, drugging, or even dancing.  He’s the guy who explains why and how we make decisions about what we feel is acceptable and non-acceptable behavior, for ourselves and others, even in the face of conflicting opinions, or facts.

The Atheist/philosopher, Richard Dawkins wrote a book called The Selfish Gene, in which he claimed that evolution insists that everything we do, from love, to altruism, to charity, must somehow benefit the individual.

Haidt raises this thought a couple of levels by comparing human society to biological evolution.  Single-cell organisms united to create multi-celled ones, right up to humans and large animals.  Groups of specialized cells and organs allow achievements that single cells could not achieve.

Humans first grouped by family, then by clan, then village, right up to nation.  Things like sports, politics, religion and armed forces create focused groups through synchronized sounds – prayers, hymns, chants, etc., movements – dances, marching, calisthenics – rituals and sacred totems – salutes, uniforms, crosses, even cheeseheads.

Successful groups outperform, and absorb or drive out lesser ones, and can cause actions that are not beneficial to the individual (suicide bombing), but are, to the group (Islam).

To the scientist, for any group, hypocrisy is a good thing.  For the liar, whether group or individual, it gives them a chance to reap their desired ends and feel good about it.  That makes for more confident leadership and an increase in following and obeying.

About the strange, often conflicting beliefs of every religion, including Christianity, the author says:

The memorable nymphs and fairies and goblins and demons that crowd the mythologies of every people, are the imaginative offspring of a hyperactive habit of finding agency wherever anything puzzles or frightens us.  This mindlessly generates a vast overpopulation of agent-ideas, most of which are too stupid to hold our attention for an instant; only a well-designed few make it through the rehearsal tournament, mutating and improving as they go.  The ones that get shared and remembered are the souped-up winners of billions of competitions for rehearsal time in the brains of our ancestors.

Haidt shows that, once we learn something, even if it’s wrong, it takes more mental energy to unlearn it, than to merely absorb the correct information.

The researchers saw similar results when they told participants that pressing a button would reduce the chance of shock by as much as 90%. Those participants who had to make a proactive choice to press the button opted to leave it untouched about half the time, even though it meant they had to withstand shocks they themselves rated as highly undesirable.

It gave me a slight, momentary sympathy for those I’ve viewed as merely too lazy or bull-headed to accept apparently clear proof of their invalid stances.  Then, he went on to state that, having taken a stance, we will expend even more energy to come up with, sometimes very convoluted, justifications for it, all in the name of support from and for, “our group.”

Since there are limits to most people’s ability to reach outside themselves, there are limits to how large the groups may grow.  The book crystallized and explained why I am a non-joining loner, just shy of being a psychopath; yet rail at Quebec for not “joining” Canada, or the Baltic States for each wanting to rule their own little valley.

This was deep and enlightening reading.  My hopes for an informed quick-fix were soon dashed.  Rather, as I wrote in a long-gone post, if we can keep the momentum in the right direction, thousands, millions, billions of tiny steps and nudges may make mankind a better race.