Reflections on Good and Evil
(Top Posts - Distance From Belief
in theism - 031407 to 032407, updated 032609)

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Summation of posts made March 14-24,
2007, in a thread titled "Reflections on Good
and Evil":

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Anyone can claim a God or a Devil or a par-
ticular version of a supposed supernatural
Jesus ... Many have done so, in the past and
present. Such claims oft-times come across
as contradictory self-serving exhibitions of
human desire, fear, pretense, and power trips.

...

Contradictions, religions are loaded to the
gills with them.

Self-serving? Religions are built with their
primary priority being perpetuation of the
particular religious faith promoted within
their so-called 'holy' places, and depend
on people acting as if their own personal
fates are leveraged off of buying into the
particular religious faith being promoted.

Desire? Religions desire a pleasant immor-
tality and a sky buddy who they like to believe
acts as if human desires matter.

Fear? Religion's hell and/or oblivion card, most
pronounced, in addition to all the death/destruc-
tion religions have resorted to in converting or
killing those who've yet to "see the light".

Pretense? Required to believe in magic beings,
powers, and places, for without any evidence,
what else have they got? Oh sure, they call it
faith, but tell me, honestly, isn't faith and pre-
tense one in the same?

Power trips? Clearly, that's the manner in which
religions claim to know all, provide naught but
claims, and cowtow to faith to just believe in
order to get the supposed goodies. Oh sure,
they're so insecure about their faith that they
rely on childhood brainwashing as the corner-
stone of perpetuating their myths, but asser-
tions of power go hand-in-hand with religions,
from beginning to end.

Compare to Pro-Humanist FREELOVER prin-
ciples, and you'll clearly see the difference
between open-minded, freethinking pursuit
of truth and love and beauty -and- the ancient
modalities of religious intolerance of any and
all approaches which differ from / doubt in /
disbelieve in the magic being realm.

...

When folks perceive religion in a manner differ-
ing from its actual nature, differing dramatically
from historical fact, differing profoundly with
science, logic, and reason, and far removed
from what's actually written in the entirety of
the ancient foundational texts, and follow that
with words like 'good', 'worthy', 'estimable' or
'True' in reference to religion, it's clear that a
dramatic disconnect between reality and per-
ception exists.

Only by discussing that disconnect can humans
ever break free of the downsides of ancient myth.

The cost?

Freedom and reality don't come without a cost,
and the primary cost is one few (in the current
day) are willing to pay, publicly, and that is re-
nouncing the anti-humanism of their ancient
faiths, recognizing the myths as simply super-
stitions, and accepting that human fate, until or
unless actual contact between humans and other
intelligence occurs, has been and still is solely
up to humans and nature to determine.

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In response to a poster who said "You're a funda-
mentalist - just of the atheistic variety. You're a
one man moral majority (with apologies to the
moral majority)", I replied as follows:

Your statements imply that I have as strong a com-
mitment to Pro-Humanist FREELOVER principles
as do the believers who claim to literally interpret
the bible.

Strictly speaking, by definition, fundamentalism is
a movement begun in 20th century Protestantism,
bible-based, and as such, is the antithesis of Pro-
Humanist FREELOVER principles in most respects.

Why does fundamentalism cling so tenaciously to
(most?) Americans in the current day?

Simple. Fear, and the role it plays, once instigated
into the mind of the young and innocent, at a very
vulnerable age, an age at which susceptibility to
adult influence is at its strongest.

4 examples, 2 from previous posts, 1 from a recent
Scientific American article, 1 from a recent Wired
News article:

Key words -- amygdala, neocortex, regions of the
brain that impact the behavior of mammals in a man-
ner imparted by billions of years of evolution, the
happenstance of existence over billions of years in
a threatening and oft-times death-dealing environ-
ment.

In these posts/articles, ponder the amygdala - fear
- religion residing in a fast-acting primitive part of
the human brain, and think of neocortex - rationality
- reason - logic as residing in the heart of human
intellect, a slower-acting recently evolved part of
the brain that has to deal with the primitive instincts
inherited by the amygdala ...

~~~

Youth-Brainwashing-Hitler's Germany
(Top Posts - History - 012805)
  http://prohuman.net/history/youth_brainwashing_hitlers_germany.htm

...

~~~

Hint at how fear is used to promote religion
(Top Posts - Science - 122305)
  http://prohuman.net/science/fear_used_to_promote_religion.htm

...

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Regarding the following article, focused
on the human emotion of fear, I can't help
but recall some of my most fearful mo-
ments raised in the heart of a fundamen-
talist church environment, exposed to the
hellfire threats year after year (first 18
years of my life), the ultimate threat used
by many of the christian faith to try to
scare children and adults into belief in
a particular version of religious mythos.

Fear as a religious weapon?

You be the judge ...

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December 2005 issue
Can We Cure Fear?
  http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=can-we-cure-fear
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...

Fear is more than a state of mind; it is chem-
ical.

The feeling of alarm arises from the circuitry
of our brains, in the neurochemical exchanges
between nerve cells.

...

When one feels threatened, the metabolism
revs up in anticipation of an imminent need to
defend oneself or flee. ...

The body unleashes an outpouring of vessel-
constricting, heart-thumping hormones, includ-
ing epinephrine, norepinephrine and the ster-
oid cortisol.

The heart speeds up and pumps harder, the
nerves fire more quickly, the skin cools and
gets goose bumps, the eyes dilate to see
better, and the areas of the brain involved
in decision making receive a message that
it is time to act.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Once a person has learned to feel appre-
hensive about something, he or she may
always dread it.
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At the center of these processes is the
amygdala, an almond-shaped region of the
brain.

Neuroscientist Joseph E. LeDoux of New
York University, a pioneer in the study of
the fear cycle, describes the amygdala as
"the hub in the brain's wheel of fear."

...

It takes only 12 milliseconds ... for the
thalamus to process sensory input and
to signal the amygdala.

He calls this emotional brain the "low road."
The "high road," or thinking brain, takes
30 to 40 milliseconds to process what is
happening.

"People have fear they don't understand
or can't control because it is processed
by the low road"

...

Fear is a deep-rooted emotion, difficult for
the brain to control.

...

~~~

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Why the Human Brain Is a Poor Judge of Risk
 
By Bruce Schneier
05:00 AM Mar, 22, 2007
http://www.wired.com/politics/security/commentary/securitymatters/2007/03/SECURITY_MATTERS0322
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Excerpts:

... 

Assessing and reacting to risk is one
of the most important things a living
creature has to deal with, and there's
a very primitive part of the brain that
has that job.
 
It's the amygdala, and it sits right above
the brainstem, in what's called the medial
temporal lobe. The amygdala is respon-
sible for processing base emotions that
come from sensory inputs, like anger,
avoidance, defensiveness and fear.

It's an old part of the brain, and seems
to have originated in early fishes.

When an animal -- lizard, bird, mammal,
even you -- sees, hears or feels some-
thing that's a potential danger, the amyg-
dala is what reacts immediately. It's what
causes adrenaline and other hormones
to be pumped into your bloodstream,
triggering the fight-or-flight response,
causing increased heart rate and beat
force, increased muscle tension and
sweaty palms.

...

We humans have a completely different
pathway [different from creatures that
evolved much earlier than mammals] to
cope with analyzing risk.

It's the neocortex, a more advanced part
of the brain that developed very recently,
evolutionarily speaking, and only appears
in mammals. It's intelligent and analytic.
It can reason. It can make more nuanced
trade-offs. It's also much slower.

So here's the first fundamental problem:
We have two systems for reacting to risk
-- a primitive intuitive system and a more
advanced analytic system -- and they're
operating in parallel.

It's hard for the neocortex to contradict
the amygdala.

...

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- - -
 
I disrespect religious faith, and understand the modality
by which it is perpetuated, the physics of belief. Been
there, been done by that. Escaped it, after many years
of being entombed within it.

Non-fundie religionists, fundies including islamists / chris-
tians / other religionists, many agnostics, many weak
atheists, many in media, you, and (let's see, who have
I left out?) some others tend to strongly oppose strong
disbelief most often, strong disbelief like that practiced
by (among many others) former pastor Dan Barker,
biologist / anti-religionist Richard Dawkins, esteemed
cosmologist (the late) Carl Sagan (though relatively shy
about his disbelief relative to Dawkins), yours truly, and
many others.

Why?

They like the pleasant immortality fantasy, regardless of
whether it's true or not, they've been taught to keep their
doubts and disbelief to themselves (if unable to extinguish
them) as a shameful sin (to those exposed to that religious
pitch), they've been taught to demonize strong disbelief as
the 'ultimate sin', they've been taught that disbelievers and
disbelief are abominable, and they're determined to act
out as if religions are, on their better days, good, and
strong disbelief is bad, no matter how the facts counter
that blatantly false and devious deception planted within
them when they were too young to defend against it.

...

Fear is intrinsically fundamental to religious faith. Scare
'em and seduce 'em into believing, Religion 101.

...

Current-day religions, many have spun the threat from
immortal torment to a judgement/lake of fire torturous
second death or mere oblivion assured if you don't buy
into their version of what it takes to get the heaven ticket.

Funny thing is, few religions are so sold on their modern
spin on oblivion for disbelievers threat that they actually
preach immortal torment is not in the cards for disbelievers.

In other words, they leave it in the deck as an implied
threat.

Catholics, you may be surprised to find, still hold on to
that immortal torment threat engine. Muslims do, too.
Many Protestants, yep, still cling to that as a possibility,
if not probability, even though it's a very difficult sell
when juxtaposed against the positive religious seduc-
tions.

... religion has a much more pernicious influence on
societies than your nice heaven for nice people fantasy
would suggest.

Creationists and IDers, for example, trying to get religion
into science classrooms.

The "all fertilized eggs are 'babies' crowd", like GW
Bush, ignoring the fact that the overwhelming majority
of fertilized eggs fail to be born due not to act of humans,
but due to the way human fertilization works. That gang,
devoted to fighting against stem cell research no matter
how many birthed sentient humans suffer because of their
actions.

Muslim extremists, their version of heaven is their under-
lying motivation for mass murder.

Crusaders, religion as motivation for war, and mass murder.

The inquisition, perhaps you've heard of it, motivation for
imprisonment, torture, and murder.

Witchhunts, not the modern type, no, the type that occurred
in Europe (and a bit, in America) where women were ac-
cused, and/or imprisoned, and/or tortured, and/or murdered.

Shiites and Sunni, all the warring going on right now, moti-
vated by, you guessed it, religion.

Protestants and Catholics, until recently in modern day Ire-
land, and in the past, in Europe, war / torture / murder, the
cause? Religion.

Open up so-called holy documents, and you'll find positive
and negative, but the negative, so intensely anti-human, it's
difficult for rational, logical, and reasonable individuals to
deal with the negative as if it's just or ignore it as if it's irre-
levant, and accept the positive as if that's all religion is about.

Clearly, as seen from the brief examples above, there's a
lot more than mere heaven fantasies going on with religion,
and that's why I oppose it, in its current form, as practiced
by billions on the planet.

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