Sunday School

Sunday School 13th June 2021

This topic contains 8 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  TheEncogitationer 5 months, 2 weeks ago.

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    If the Wall of Separation crumbles, would you see a naked public square? One where atheists cannot hold office?

    Do Australians trust religious leaders?

    Could communion be a gateway to cannibalism is a question I often ask Catholics.

    The key findings of the Apostate Report on ex-Muslims in North America.

    Do Evangelicals still believe in prophecy after Trump?

    Humanism and the stigma of non-religiosity in Africa.

    The godless mom is justifiably moody when she misses her swim.

    World of Woo: Some products that CVS shouldn’t be selling.

    Environment:  The cost of Wind Energy (as we have recently discussed).

    How to think more clearly.

    Polynesians discovered Antarctica over 1,300 years ago.

    Who were the Denisovans?

    Why everyday reality is not illusory but emergent.

    What happened “before” the Big Bang?

    Identity fusion: why some people will go to extremes for the beliefs of a group.

    A new Quantum Microscope that can see the impossible is a little spooky.

    There is no right not to be offended when it comes to Free Speech. We should all be able to echo the words of Voltaire and say “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. There is a line we are constantly challenged to negotiate together as a society – if we don’t, somebody will do it for us and we might not like the results.

    Why do philosophical questions seem to resist definite answers?

    This week I will order this book: Cosmic Queries.

    Some photographs taken last week.

    While you are waiting for the kettle to boil……

    Podcast: Are we alone in the Universe with Sam Harris and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

    Coffee Break Video:  Your Faith is (still) a Joke.  Texas Representative asks the US Forest Service to alter moon’s orbit to tackle climate change. At least we know how the moon got there, yeah? Bill Maher on Progressophobia.


    Have a great week everyone!



    Thanks, Reg!!!



    “We should all be able to echo the words of Voltaire and say “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.

    I am unlikely to say that.

    i) I find it’s one of those overly romanticized views that doesn’t stack up well in reality. The idea of nobly sacrificing oneself in some sort of 19th century resistance movement is nice, but when it comes to the more ordinary measures needed to defend free speech, many of them are more mundane and tedious. It’s strange that someone says they’re willing to die for a thing, but ask them to actually read some legislation or a bit of jurisprudence and understand it, and well that’s a big fat ‘ol “fuck no”.

    ii) If this right needs to be defended to the death, it would seem there were a great many failings leading up to that point. This is not to suggest that no scenario exists where violent clashes have to be faced to avoid the loss of free speech, but akin to the first point, I think this sort of romanticism takes us further away from how free speech typically is defended in reality.

    iii) I’m going to dub this concept as ‘freeze peach’. ‘Freeze peach’ sounds an awful lot like ‘free speech’, but it isn’t ‘free speech’. Similarly, factitious and specious free speech arguments are becoming pretty common. As an example, prayer in schools and ‘teach the controversy’, today, would be presented as free speech issues. It’s a disingenuous tactic that plays on our sacrosanct feelings toward free speech—no person wants to be characterized as being opposed to free speech, even if the argument is bullshit. Personally, I think this ‘defend to the death’ rhetoric makes that sort of propaganda more effective.

    iv) With science and reason, we can look at the transmission of ideas, we can examine resultant harm, and we can look at how speech and calls to action tie together. We can look at the impacts of propaganda and misinformation campaigns, especially wrt to targeting vulnerable or minority populations, or with anti-science movements that go so far as to interfere with public health policy.

    When we talk about offence, sure, laws merely addressing people’s feelings are impractical. We can’t account for what may or may not offend as people manage to be offended by even the most banal shit, like wearing yellow socks. And simply being shielded from criticism, commentary, or analysis isn’t worthy of protection in itself.

    But in some contexts, ‘offence’ starts approaching a meaning closer to defamation, and I’ll concede, the territory gets murkier there.

    More to the point, speech should be regulated for the very reason it shouldn’t: speech is powerful. We recognize harms in limiting it, but we can also recognize harms in not doing so. Protecting free speech because I am more concerned with the former leading to political and ideological abuses than I am concerned with the latter doesn’t translate to some unwavering ideal that free speech is, in itself, inherently good.

    There are undoubtedly cases where free speech causes us harm and holds us back as a species, just as there are cases where it’s been absolutely necessary to prevent harm, promote wellness, and move forward. As human knowledge increases, our ability to discern harm from benefit also increases. We just don’t trust anyone to be arbiters in that delineation. Perhaps we never should, but that’s not a principle I’m confident enough in to stake my life on.



    Bill Maher on Progressophobia.

    It’s a rare thing that I agree with Maher to that extent.

    For me, I have to spend time focusing on how things have gotten better. I grew up learning how to avoid or deal with all of the things that were still bad. The survival instincts I developed from childhood are geared toward that—navigating potential harm. So if I don’t spend some time appreciating that things have gotten better on balance, that in itself is going to impact my mental health and my ability to move forward.

    I do get a reluctance to acknowledge progress on some level. Sometimes even token gestures of progress can be used to try to slow the tide of actual progress. But there is a line between ‘Not enough has changed,” and, “Nothing has changed.” There is a line between, “Some things are worse,” and “Everything’s worse.” Between, “The fight continues,” and, “The fight can never end.”



    RE: Progressophobia

    Yeah, not afraid to admit there has been progress but in reality, oftentimes it seems like the US is actually in shambles.



    Reg and Fellow Unbelievers,

    Whenever I hear the words “Conservative” or “Progressive,” I always have to ask: “What are you wanting to conserve?” and “What are you progressing towards?”

    If someone wants to conserve the ideals of The Enlightenment, such as Reason, Science, Secularism, Exploration of the Earth and of the Natural Universe, Individual Rights, Limited Government with Division of Powers, Free Markets, an end to fixed constructs of Caste and Class, International Trade, Inspiring Art and Music, all of that I fully support.

    But if someone wants to conserve ways of the past, not to learn from them, but just for the past’s sake, even when those ways limit, benighten, impoverish, and destroy human lives, then I can never get behind that.

    And the same goes for “Progressives” as well.  If someone’s idea of  “progress” is to take the ideals of The Enlightenment and apply them to today, to societies and people to whom they had never previously applied, to all peoples and nations, to women, to LGBTQ+ to sapient beings from other species or other worlds, I support that fully.

    But if “progressing” means pursuing a course that in fact undoes the bounties of The Enlightenment and leads humans over a cliff of poverty, disease, squalor, irrationality, tyranny, and destruction, then I am gladly “old and in the way.”

    Nowadays, too many things that identify as “Conservative” or “Progressive” are either staying in or moving to awful places.  I, like others, am just trying to live my daily life and not get any of it on me.

    • This reply was modified 5 months, 2 weeks ago by  TheEncogitationer. Reason: removing an unneeded quote mark, conserving good writing and progressing forward

    @theencogitationer – I would basically agree with what you say. One word I listen out for is “Traditional”.  I have heard people claim not to be right leaning or even to be liberals while at the same time telling me that we must hold on to “traditional family values”.

    ** the links I have inserted below show scenes of blood, cruelty to animals and sadomasochism but only in a religious context.

    In Northern Ireland each year we hear about “Unionist Traditions” –  where Unionists, many of them Young Earth Creationists,  march up and down certain roads, banging their drums and playing their pipes. Their day starts in prayer to their imaginary god and ends when their neighbors understand that they do not love them. Because they cannot progress, they are about to be left behind.

    In the Muslim world Shi ite’s mutilate themselves in worship of their imaginary god at their Ashura Festival.

    The Hindu festival of Gidhimai is a traditional festival, held every 5 years, where some years over 250,000 animals are slaughtered in a killing frenzy. At least this religious tradition is changing and now they tend to only kill under 30,000. So maybe they are becoming progressive!

    Not everyone in the Philippines gets to enjoy their Easter Egg!




    All of these–sectarian warfare and terrorism, self-mutilation, slow killing of cattle not even for food but evidently for “kicks,” and live crucifixions–are all traditions not worth conserving.

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