Damascene Moment on Abortion

… or how I finally got rid of more of the Japanesus Chrinotweed infesting by brain

First off, this is not a man pronouncing on abortion for the benefit of womankind. More the realisation of how deep spiritual dualism can bury itself into thought long after it’s been rejected.

Age 14, RE lesson from Father Cooper.

A woman with nine children goes to the doctor.

“Doctor!” she implores, “I’m pregnant again! Is there anything you can do?”
“An abortion do you mean?”
“Yes!”
“Why?”
“I just have too many children! I can’t cope!”
“Why not kill one of your other children?” he suggests.
“Oh I couldn’t do that,” she cries, “that would be murder!”

As far as I remember that was the extent of the debate we had. Honestly, I didn’t have strong feelings about abortion then; it didn’t seem relevant.

FF to now…

I’m resigned and signed up to it being the woman’s choice. I think about the absurd interpretation of cause and effect. He wanted it with passion now she’s got the morality laser on her? The pontification of the millisecond before and after of that magic moment when the one lucky sperm buries into the egg and POW! IT IS LIFE!

And yet, I am bugged by life being precious so how can anyone end that potentiality. More accurately bugged by not having scalpel precision of when. Inception? Heartbeat? NN weeks? Up until the life is viable without mother’s aid?

But then I realise…

Oh for heaven’s sake I’m still associating mysticism with life. Scrap that. Piss off Jesus.

It’s so simple. The mother HAS that magical power. She has the wand, the ring, the womb. She is the Author – she has the Authority. Obviously her choice until it need not be. Obvious to women I guess.

Additionally, interesting that women have this magic power, priests don’t yet they jealously rob women of the right to exercise the power they have.

 

 

I lose my shit with a Christian

I can usually cope with proselytizers in low gear.

If they’re older and merely offering a leaflet, a simple “no thank-you” suffices. If they’re trying a little harder and look game I might engage in a debate. This has usually finished with the Christian saying I’m nuts and seeking easier prey or the old stand-by of “I’ll pray for you.”

But yesterday I said, “I used to be Christian but I’m atheist now thanks,” this one looked game.

“You go to the doctor?”

“Yes.”

“You take their medicine?”

“Yes.”

“So you believe in medicine?”

“No. I recognise evidence.”

That threw him a bit. He was obviously expecting me to express belief in medicine which he would leverage. So undeterred he repeated the same line which resulted in the same outcome.

“I will show you evidence,” he says. He’s going through his phone’s camera roll now to show me a picture of his leg ulcer, which he has since recovered from after praying to Jesus.

“Correlation is not causation!” but why am I angry now? I rationalize at the time I’m starting to make an argument he can’t comprehend or doesn’t want to. No doubt Jesus taking time out of his busy schedule of not coming back to Earth in order to heal his leg made him feel pretty good. I swear a lot and move on. But I want to pound his face out of existence. I visualize doing it.

Normally I am ashamed when I lose my rag but not this time. Later, I recognise that this all took place outside the hospital where I recently lost someone very close, while this simpleton was using his imaginary friend’s imaginary healing of his leg to manipulate me to be like him.

He thinks he is pious. He is simply selfish and self-absorbed.

I hope I don’t see him again.

 

Resurrection Ramble

A quickie with no Lego.

The evangelists are light on the detail of Jesus’ resurrection. Understandable, they weren’t there and are relying on word of mouth decades after. But that’s fine, we can examine this from first principles and see where we end up.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life

Straight off, why have just the one offspring God? I suppose it makes Jesus the main event. Do we have a record of God saying he’s having just the one child? No? Just Jesus’ word then. Bit suss. Did God produce other kids at other times and spread them further afield from the Levant? Maybe… Ah who are we kidding? One shot one kill. Keep the message simple.

It’s a given crucifixion kills Jesus. He’s dead, bereft of life and off the twig. So who resurrects him? He can’t do it himself because he is dead. Dead people don’t get to go shopping, let alone bringing themselves back to life. So God did it – his dad.

Any parent who’s child has died would want to do the same. None have been able to but God uses his God powers to bring his son back from death. Three days he lasted, enduring the death of his child and he cracked. Seems like all powerful, all knowing Christian God was less able to go through that process than regular people.

And that act of weakness gave us salvation?

Or another tact – if the soul truly is immortal then death is trivial. How does God’s “son” going through that process and coming out the other side any more significant than any other death?

It all sounds like justification post event. When you have a God made flesh you need a pretty good tale to cover his dying like any other person.

For God so loved the world that he rescued his son from its dangers and did nothing for all those who died pointlessly

It’s only because I was skull-fed this nonsense as a kid I get motivated enough to type about it.

 

 

Alien Invasion? Already happened…

invader-ception

face invaders

Given

  • free will is a myth – we are just witnesses to what a body is doing
  • a body is a successfully persistent structure in space-time
  • success is defined as the body’s the persistence and propagation

we might wonder what other structures could persist, grow, communicate, expend energy, propagate and die in the Universe and, more interestingly, what of those we might engage with.

Take a moment to consider the participants in our own body – at least as many cells in our body are those of other discrete life forms – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_microbiota – some helpful, some harmful, some just hitching a ride. That aside, the cells we call our own go about their business, unaware of the role they play in our makeup. We don’t attribute conscious status to any of these cells, these little machines the comprise us. Nor should we – they’re just smaller persistent structures.

Naturally that leads to: could we be component cells of larger structures? Of course – family, social groups, the chance collection of people that simultaneously sigh in a train carriage when a delay is announced. A neighbourhood? A town? So sure, we recognise these communities. And we discuss group, herd, behaviour as though there were more to it than a bunch of people in a similar environment, receiving similar stimuli reacting the same way – get puzzled – wonder what else is going on. Nothing! That’s it! A bunch of people in a carriage who simultaneously learn the train won’t be moving for ten minutes are likely to sigh together – no group soul needed.

So where else do people group? Ah yes businesses.

But here there’s a significant difference. The business has a mission statement and procedures and an HR department to manage the component staff to follow the goals at minimum cost to the business. It has purpose, goals. It communicates with other businesses. It grows, divides, reproduces, dies.

Businesses are just as much “alive” as our blood cell and us.

We have superior culture – fact – as it is immeasurably more complex and sophisticated and yet we defer own natural priorities to the needs of this alien invader. I can’t deny that capitalism encourages advance as long as there’s a profit motive. And go to it, all good.

But why do we allow businesses to steal from humans?

And why we allow businesses to harm humans?

Why do we not see them for what they are? An alien form of life, in their own space, enriching a select few, who could all die tomorrow and be immediately replaced.

We should regulate, regulate, regulate and bring these beasts to heal and serve. Like all life, their only function is to persist and propagate, oblivious of other levels of life. Our rich, complex culture gives us the right to rule them.

But we would say that wouldn’t we?

Where Relationships Happen

This follows recent a domestic ruckus in a family I know and a row I had about a decade ago. That row was with a person who thought I was trying to manipulate them. He knew I was an atheist and yet in an explosion added “… and you can’t make me go to church!” I’ve never been able to follow that up but do know Sundays were a misery for him – a day for solemnity, no music, no TV, no fun and games with any infringement rewarded with a beating. So how did my friend conflate me with his, what I would consider, abusive parents?

My thinking (not “the Truth” obvs)…


This must be the most naïve view of a relationship. Works for spatial relationships, ie, if I am six foot away from you then you are six foot away from me. But with social relationships two people will regard each other differently. A may regard B as a mate while B may regard A as an irritating acquaintance.


So a little less naïve would be a relationship comprising two elements. But it’s assuming that our senses afford us perfect knowledge of each other.


More accurate is to model the relationship as happening between oneself and one’s idea of who the other person is. It’s all taking place within one’s head. That or some nonsense about souls.


Obviously we can’t imagine the other person perfectly, we’re limited to our senses and actual meetings which can’t give the full picture. So we’re having a relationship with a low-definition and distorted version of that other person


But how do we event create a model? Even if our brain came with a model it could be no more than a sketch template as it’s hard to see how evolution could anticipate even gross cultural variables. So with or without a given basis, we must construct a model for what a person is from our earliest encounters, most often parents. I imagine then that, at least early in life, we see other people as variations on those first models built from those first relationships.



Pity then the child born into early abuse – the world must be full of monsters to hide from or fight against.

Soul, the final frontier

A child once asked me what the soul was, I suppose having heard it repeatedly mentioned at church, school and in the odd pop song. I described it as the driver of a car which was the body. This fails for a number of reasons. Firstly it ignored the issue of what a driver’s soul would be. Secondly it didn’t account for what the soul was doing that a perfectly good brain couldn’t cope with. Thirdly, perhaps most importantly, was the issue of authority. I was simply repeating what I had been told but was presenting it as truth to a young enquiring mind; a mind that may have gone on to tease apart the mystery of consciousness with an untried approach – possibly.

There are some common ideas of what a soul might be. It’s not brain as that’s hardware. I don’t think it’s the same as mind either; I get the impression a mind is seen as hardware dependent, like the story where the brain is the book. As it persists after the body perishes it can’t be dependent on the physical body at all. But although it influences the physical self it avoids detection, which is a bit odd – like a torch that lights up objects but is invisible itself.

There are differing specifics on offer. Does it collect sin getting grubbier until cleansed with Grace-O the wonder holifier? On physical death, does it migrate to complete another human body or to any animal depending on earned merit or coalesce with a universal consciousness or even meet up with the souls of those gone before in a wonderful place, giving praise to their manufacturer for ever (and ever)?

The fact that there are competing models itself doesn’t mean they’re all wrong. But there are no tests available to decide the competition, neither on a cohort of souls nor on the methods by which the models were arrived at. So to say one tradition has the model right is like saying one person knew the winning lottery numbers in advance as they did indeed win but with the added complication of never being able to hold the draw.

Not that’s enough to scientifically discount the possibility of a soul, that method can’t judge on what can’t be tested but it can say that in that regard it is equivalent to any other untestable notion, for example, the claim that at the centre of every life sustaining planet there is a unique and breathtakingly beautiful gemstone that generates the force for that planet’s life and influences its character – a claim invented this very moment.

Its persistence is down to the absence of possible tests and perhaps that success gets confused with persistence of, say, using language to communicate, which persists because it has worked for millennia and telepathy doesn’t.

The age of the idea of the soul gives it credibility, authenticity even. Some like to believe that those ancient peoples were closer to nature, so more spiritual and knew more about the mysteries of life. But there’s no evidence for that, so we can simply bundle it in with the whole soul model: if it were real, as intangible, the revelation of its existence is a part of its mystery; if not real, the establishment and persistence of the idea is as much a part of the study as the belief itself.

Why does belief in it persist?

Just as fiction relies on interaction between people; science fiction often relies on interaction between people form other worlds. Sadly, apart from the nine local planets (eight if you discount Pluto, nine if you include the Moon) and a few possible moons all other worlds are so far off. There being limited scope for interaction between human heros and the Supreme Slimemold of Europa, SF is left with the basic issue of bringing races together. So devices like warp drive, bloater drive, stargates, wormholes and hyperspace in general are accepted constructs. So useful and appealing that they appear in tales without explanation or query despite them being baloney. Besides in the untestable future who knows what engine will be devised.

Similarly the soul – so early is this idea inculcated and so widely and casually distributed that its existence is not up for question.

And so appealing too. No one wants to die and even we who rarely see a human corpse recognise there’s no hope of reanimation. So if we’re going to persist there needs to be an elemental aspect to our self that will survive physical demise.

And so useful to those in power, since it offers an organised religion a handle on a part of us they can claim privileged knowledge of, then ownership of and then control.

But the challenge remains: if not the soul, what gives us consciousness given that science hasn’t figured out how the brain does that trick yet?

Call it a soul if you like and I’ll agree with the definition: soul (n): an outcome of the brain that gives the sensation of consciousness by an undiscovered mechanism.

Captain Capitalism and the Power of Market Force

Credibility is an issue.

For every policy maker asserting grey is black there’s another instance of that species stating that, on the contrary, grey is in fact white. If you’re not predisposed to the arguments on one side it would be hard to pick one on the strength of evidence.

So claiming an established scientific model backs one position would seem to improve it’s standing. Evolution is such an established model in the face of millions who don’t really get science, let alone Wallace’ and Darwin’s model.

So let business fight it out – the fittest will survive. Fine for the six shoe shops on the high street that can support three comfortably; who cares which closes beyond those involved in the business?

But public services?

Even utility services – if six electricity suppliers are competing for your money, are you happy to be one of those thousands of gauges for a year, paying over the odds for poor service for the one company that sinks or is forced to reorganise? Is that what humans are for?

Worse though, is the effectiveness of evolution in this environment. Survival of the fittest doesn’t require the survivors are fit per se – out of six awful companies the least awful may prosper. Also, effective predation is a requirement. I can’t imagine anyone describing Offgem or Offcom etc as a regular velociraptor. And it’s taken over a million years to leap to our current species from what we label as our ancestor species. It needn’t take this long in a wholly different environment of course and in a competition between six electricity providers over millions of instances of a species, general calculations don’t apply – each case would require its own case study.

And that’s the final, if not irony, certainly a close cousin. Politicians will claim they are not in the business of “picking winners” eg setting up one publically run body to manage electricity supply and so it’s best left to market forces. Isn’t it odd that they who are the outcome of millions of years of evolution think that that very force hasn’t equipped them with a brain able to set up such a public body, yet that force will deliver good public service when acting on private companies?

Is it not simply a gross abdication of responsibility with the opportunity of earning some bunce off the wheeling and dealing?

 

 

Imagine there’s no death…

Rather a world where the old, infirm or unfortunate are simply taken away. Imagine a fleet of black vans, as common as ambulances. They would feature in that world’s Lego set of emergency vehicles.

999 in Legoland

When your time came to be taken a van would pull up. The black-cloaked driver would get out, make his way to your bedside or tap you in the shoulder and with a bony nod of his head towards the van, you would simply rise and follow. You would be driven off towards an otherwise avoided, vast, windowless, black building beyond the limits and no one would ever see you again. No one ever came back.

Some driven by the loss of a loved one, curiosity or the need to escape a desperate environment would make their own entry to this StaSiesque establishment. They’d not be prevented from entering but they would never reappear either.

From time to time a driver might turn up for a collection, exchange glances with their intended and leave alone. The survivor would say they remembered suddenly feeling an irresistible desire to follow, that it seemed entirely the right and natural thing to do until, just as suddenly, the desire was gone.

But once someone had been taken, it was as though they no longer existed.

Imagine now a smart phone app called “PysClick” that claimed to allow you to text with a loved one who had been taken. Anyone could install it. You would tap the icon, enter your loved one’s name, “connecting…” would appear on the screen but that was the extent of its function. It had bad reviews online too. “It sucks! Waste of time! Uninstall!”

PsyClick!

PsyClick!

Yet for all the millions who gave it 1 star a handful claimed it was awesome; an elite who claimed they had the gift of using it. And they would offer to act as middlemen,  conduits or mediums between you and your lost one – for a fee. “Give me some money,” they’d say, “Tell me what you want to ask and I’ll tell you their answer.” You’d pose the question then they’d tap away, shielding the phone’s screen from view.

“Should I marry again after my wife’s death?”

Tap, tap, tap.

“Your wife wants you to be happy, follow your heart. Fifty dollar.”

No one would believe it for a moment – it would have to be a fraud.

For no credible whisper had ever been heard from someone taken; certainly no one had ever come back.

And some conduits had definitely been exposed as frauds, employing the common tricks of the magician. For example, using a hidden earpiece relaying information from a remote accomplice who could dig up a few personal details on their mark and family online during the interview.

And how did the conduit arrange for your loved one to be so readily available on the other side of the wall at a moment’s notice? Billions of people had been taken, yet up pops your dearly departed on demand. That’s impressive admin. Perhaps when they passed over, people gained greater powers and had the ability to foresee your attempt to make contact, though they seemed to lack the power to be there when you use the app. One would expect them more likely to contact you directly rather than through someone who will charge you.

And the conduits made a good living off their fees which raised the issue of the provenance for their claims that could never be corroborated.

So how could anyone believe it?

Perhaps if they’d been inculcated from before they could even talk with fables of a guy who had actually come back, they would be more open to this groundless hope.

Perhaps if that society were scientifically illiterate and avoided condemning such old stories for fear of offending, they wouldn’t feel so foolish grasping at such a thin straw.

Perhaps if they were bereaved, shattered by the pain of loss with a need to communicate more powerful than the natural doubt, they would seek comfort in this deception.

I get that.

What I don’t get is how a conduit could continue in this fraud, lying to people about their dead loved ones to take their money.

Actually scratch that. I don’t get muggers and rapists but they get locked up, so that’s fine.

Conduits are free to conduct their business and submit tax returns.

That I don’t get.