Sunday School

Sunday School 15th October 2023.

This topic contains 14 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  PopeBeanie 1 month, 1 week ago.

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    A Gallup survey report on ‘Is religion good for you’?

    In Northern Nigeria, members of the Religion of Peace will attack and often murder atheists.

    In the name of Jebus, Rock me Amadeus. I might send a copy of it to this Louisiana public school principal.

    Christian Nationalist State Rep. insists he is not a Christian Nationalist.

    Local groups are rallying against the far-right Moms against Liberty.

    I see little merit in claiming to be an agnostic.

    Ten reasons why most believers don’t seriously question their faith.

    World of Woo: ‘Vegan Tylenol’ and the pain of Scientific Ignorance.

    Environment:  The Data on Climate Change is telling us something new.

    Why are adults legally allowed to assault children in their care?

    This article on the Origins of Life would be better without the hyperbole. It won’t blow your mind.

    Consciousness may emerge while we are still in the womb while researchers reconstruct speech from brain activity.

    The value in seeing free will as an illusion.

    The theoretical foundation for psychology is shaky. No one knows if the theories are valid.

    Three advances in philosophy that made science better.

    Long Reads:  Why we will never live on any other planet. The weird hum coming from the start of the Universe. How to think morally about the Israel-Hamas war.

    Sunday Book Club: Until the End of Time. See also the final video below.

    Some photographs taken last week.  Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

    While you are waiting for the kettle to boil……

    Coffee Break video:  The world’s population is set to decline this century. The ‘other’ Hitchens storms out of an interview. Liberal democracies are backsliding worldwide. Could anarchy help? Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter and Meaning with Brian Greene.


    Have a great week folks!



    RE: Liberal democracies are backsliding worldwide. Could anarchy help.

    No. but rationality can. Because of these wars and recent politics, I keep having the terrible thought that our lives are back in the hands of theists, ideologs and personality cults. Be they Christians, Muslims, Nationalists or Communists. I guess it has really always been that that way. I live in a bubble. It was muted by the Age of Reason just a bit, however on a grand scale it feels like there has been an inflection away from reason and back to hard-core tribalism and picking teams.

    Social media and AI are the perfect, efficient tools that ignite these fires. Gets us all “jacked-up” and addicted.

    Will this escalate? I gotta say, just by looking at Elon’s fucked-up app, we are there. What an open sewer that is. Hopefully this is just anecdotal and there are billions of peace-loving, rational people left in the world. I just don’t know anymore.


    Social Media is something I refuse to be involved with. I do not use FB or Twitter or any other medium. When I debate with people face to face I often wonder how they can be so opinionated and/or outraged on subjects that, to me, they clearly know very little about. They seem to have no ability to frame things in any context other than “Well someone said X so…”. If I try to make my point, giving reference to its historical, political or cultural context, I can see that they have no idea about what I am talking about.  What they are saying is not even their own opinion. All they have done is just stuck their head into an echo chamber of ignorant misinformation and then claimed to have reached their own opinion.

    That shit does not work on me. I will keep challenging them until they throw a tantrum and wax lyrical about their feelings on the topic. I will leave their heads wobbling 🙂

    Maybe it should be called anti-social media.



    As you may know, the country was founded primarily by “deists,” a fact Christian nationalists are at pains to ignore. CN bears a striking resemblance to a theological movement big in the 60’s called The Death of God. While DoG had many wrinkles, one of them held that basically God made the universe and then left, a belief rather similar to deism.

    Another thing CN imagines is that the country was founded by Christians alone. As a matter of fact, while not listed as official card carrying Founding Fathers whose signatures are at the bottom of the Declaration of Independence, Jews were present in the colonies and aided and abetted the movement:

    Haym Solomon: Haym Solomon was a Jewish immigrant from Poland who was a successful businessman and financial broker during the American Revolutionary War. He provided financial support to the Continental Army and helped secure loans from Dutch and French bankers, contributing to the American cause.

    Isaac Touro: Rabbi Isaac Touro was a prominent Jewish leader in colonial America and an advocate for religious freedom. He served as a chaplain in the Continental Army and played a role in the early development of the Jewish community in the United States.

    Francis Salvador: Francis Salvador was a South Carolina planter and merchant, and he is considered the first Jew to be elected to public office in the Thirteen Colonies. He was a strong supporter of American independence and served in the South Carolina Provincial Congress.

    …or so ChatGPT tells me.



    “Agnosticism” is an absurd position, claiming that the belief in a cosmic sorcerer who created everything through an act of magic, who created a lake of fire for people who use their free will incorrectly, who hates it when you covet your neighbor’s backyard swimming pool, who lets playing toddlers be crushed by their dad’s car who was running out to the convenience store for milk. Yeah, that deity. Agnostics think he might exist.

    Even if you pare it down to the bare bones, the whole cosmic sorcerer thing, it’s still absurd and an intellectual cop-out.




    Regarding the article on infantile consciousness, while the notion that playing classical music soothes fetuses may (or may not) be woo, they can at some point react to stimuli.

    We find it hard to distinguish between reactivity, awareness, consciousness, and memory, since fetuses and infants can’t talk to us.

    And so, are the anti-abortion people to be taken more seriously?




    Regarding the free will article, while the author claims to find no persuasive arguments on behalf of determinism (he isn’t trying very hard to understand them, then), he reaches this  conclusion:

    It takes a certain intellectual courage to instead embrace determinism and a worldview of causal complexity. But it also offers enormous promise: a clearer vision of your place in the Universe, freedom from unnecessary anger, pride, guilt and shame, and a deeper empathy for fellow humans and their struggles. Determinism may also encourage us to see our own lives and interests as inextricably yoked to those of others – and to do less harm, and more good.

    When you embrace determinism, you no longer have a basis for being judgmental. People doing “bad” things do so because they are who they are, not because they are listening to the demon sitting on their left shoulder.

    Likewise, what the author doesn’t get, is that if determinism is true, he is just doing what he must do as well, not out of good intentions but because of his life experiences and education. It feels good to “help,” but he isn’t being or doing good, he’s being who he is and doing what any person with the same personal history would do.


    I wonder would the free will quote read better if he used the term ‘atheism’ instead of ‘determinism’?

    It takes a certain intellectual courage to instead embrace determinism and a worldview of causal complexity. But it also offers enormous promise: a clearer vision of your place in the Universe, freedom from unnecessary anger, pride, guilt and shame, and a deeper empathy for fellow humans and their struggles. Determinism may also encourage us to see our own lives and interests as inextricably yoked to those of others – and to do less harm, and more good.



    Thanks, Reg 🙂



    World of Woo: ‘Vegan Tylenol’ and the pain of Scientific Ignorance.

    There are good points in the article—overall certainly worth a read—, yet I still find it weird how much veganism brings out the silliness in its critics in places:

    How can a petroleum-based, factory-produced medicine be vegan in the first place? This would seem to be an obvious contradiction:

    “We call crude oil and petroleum fossil fuels because they are mixtures of hydrocarbons that formed from the remains of animals and plants (diatoms) that lived millions of years ago in a marine environment before dinosaurs existed.”

    In the case of ethical veganism, the concerns typically come down to the killing, injuring, and exploiting of animals as well as environmental impact. While not all vegans agree on where lines should be drawn, I doubt any are unaware that living beings die and return to the earth, so to speak. No one is killing, harming, or exploiting animals to create crude oil/ petroleum. Now as to environmental impact of oil extraction and its impact of wildlife, that’s a different matter.

    Likewise with the weird jab at the vegan swimming article. If you have good points, why weaken your article with bad ones?



    Why are adults legally allowed to assault children in their care?

    The personhood of children seems to still be an emerging concept. It’s awkward because children require guidance, supervision, and custodial care, but that doesn’t mean their lives should serve the whims of adults tasked with their care.

    I can understand why states would be more reluctant to intervene when it comes to parents spanking children for disciplinary reasons, but schools?



    It’s hard to think of many historical precedents, where a people once controlled a territory centuries earlier, and then an occupied power controlled it and then mostly gave it back to the previous occupiers, as though they had a legitimate claim to it.

    It would be like saying that the Greeks have a legitimate claim to Istanbul. That’s saying the Americans took over Istanbul, and then partitioned it in half and then invited millions of Greeks to come and push Turks out of their homes (hopefully with no animosity or pushback) to join the tiny little Greek community who never left.

    The paralells are all there. Istanbul was a holy land for the Greeks with their prime Cathedral, they were kicked out by the Turks centuries ago. An important difference is, of course, that Greeks weren’t persecuted and slaughtered in other countries, none the less, it’s hard to see how this would add legitimacy to a claim that the Greeks still are entitled to a huge portion of Istanbul (and then later most of the surrounded territory).

    I would say the same applies to the United States itself. Imagine Canada occupied New York, Massachusetts and California and then slowly kicked people out of their homes in these cities and allowed people from Native American reserves to take over. Can you imagine, honestly, for a second, the average American going, okay yeah, fair enough, they have a historical claim to the land, we will give up half our cities and move on?

    It’s one thing to say, yeah, decades after this has all happened, that Israel, an established nation has a right to exist. They do. But to say that, at the time of British occupation, that what transpired by the British, massive emigration and displacement of locals was a fair and reasonable policy is absurd. You simply wouldn’t say it was fair and reasonable if we tried to give a chunk of Istanbul back to the Greeks or half of New York and California back to native Americans. Especially if you think for a second it would not create decades of turmoil, misery, power struggles, apartheid, religious extremism and horrific problems in neighbouring countries.




    “Vegan Tylenol” is woo because living Vegan sounds like a perpetual migraine. 😁

    As for Anarchy, I’ve read it said that men would have to become Gods before they could become Anarchists. This makes sense, because only immortal beings that couldn’t be harmed and Omniscient, Omnibenevolent beings who know all and love all would be fine without government.

    Since Gods do not exist, M’Lady, and since many Libertarians are also Skeptics, the route most of us go is Miniarchism.

    Miniarchism means a government limited to Courts for arbitrating disputes, Police for protecting Life, Liberty, and Property at home, and a Military and a Border Patrol for protecting Life, Liberty, and Property from threats abroad. Police powers could also include things like setting standards for weight and measure in commerce and inspecting hygiene in businesses like restaurants or medical facilities.

    But beyond this, government stays the Hell out of everything else, from boardroom to bedroom, from wardrobe to bookshelf to entertainment center to medicine chest to wallet to holster to house safe. Sounds like a winner to me! 🗽



    I do not use FB or Twitter or any other medium.

    I mostly quit both, years ago, but didn’t delete my accounts. Maybe a few times a year I check FB for updates on my closest friends or family. And recently I’ve added some people to follow on Twitter, based on their record of being factual, e.g. Dr. Michael Mina, who was the first expert on what rapid covid tests could do for us. He pushed it hard while still at Harvard, for at least two years before it finally came to be. Dr. Mina’s still the most objective and trustworthy source of covid-related data I know, and I’ve learned which other experts on Twitter I can follow. I just ignore a lot of the replies to their tweets, as sometimes half of them are just as terribly biased and uninformed as what we’ve come to expect from Twitter.

    There are also still some decent journalists, and other experts in their field on Twitter. I hope to pay more attention to them in the future, while they’re still there. The key is that it’s still easy to ignore militant and other bad sources. At least so far. I heard a rumor that Elon’s thinking about taking away the option to block other members. Anything is possible, at this point.

    Meanwhile, non-profit, open source social networking is evolving. For example, Mastodon (as potentially competitive to Twitter/X):

    Mastodon actually has 407K+ more monthly users than it thought

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