Monday, October 31, 2016

Kaepernick and Con(artist) Propaganda

Conservatives are funny sometimes (and downright scary the rest of the time). Just look at what they've done with Colin Kaepernick.

It's fine to hate how Kaep has chosen to protest about police brutality of African Americans, but it's quite another thing to continually, and deliberately, mischaracterize his protest as something it is not. And a lot of these Con(artists)s do this intentionally in a number of ways.

First, they deliberately claim - over and over again - that Kaep is protesting that HE is being oppressed, even though they know full well that his protest is directed specifically at police brutality of African Americans.

 This allows those Con(artists)s who seek to express their (pretend) patriotism - by complaining about how upset they are that anyone would ever dare to disrespect their  sacred national anthem or flag (even as they often have no respect for other people's nation or flag) - to suddenly play the victim of "black brutality" at the hands of all those who fail to handle their own sense of patriotism with the proper respect (i.e. kid gloves) Con(artists)s feel it deserves.

Second, they deliberately accuse Kaep's supporters of claiming their "right" to protest is being attacked, even though such supporters are, in truth, simply claiming that it is "right" for them to exercise their "right to protest" in this way. Conflating the two, however, is simply another way of trying to suggest that those who chose to protest are "retarded" and have no idea what they are doing or saying. This only allows such Con(artists)s to simply dismiss Kaep's supporters claims, without having to give such "retards" a second thought.

(Side note - how Conservatives can accuse Liberals of being emotionally driven while making such claims, using such language, and being so sensitive, is yet another example of how people will accuse others of the very thing they themselves are guilty of. It's like farting in an elevator, in other words, where the guy who accuses someone else is usually the guilty one.)

Third, they claim that Black Lives Matter, which is a larger movement that is protesting the same police brutality in the African American community as Kaep, is a terrorist organization, even as they defend or ignore the Bundy Brothers who, armed to the teeth and waving an American flag, illegally seized a Wildlife Preserve in Oregon.

I guess the lesson to be learned is that you can be a homegrown terrorist organization, as long as you stand for the national anthem, and commit acts of terrorism, not as a right to protest, but as a right to carry your guns. Do all that while waving an American flag, and you can commit genocide and be hailed a national hero.

The Blind Spot of Every Bias

Every person has some bias in their own eye that prevents them from seeing what it is other people see. Most of the time, this bias leads us to the conclusion that the other person is simply wrong in their assessment of our beliefs and wrong about their own. But are they the one who is wrong, or are we?


If you are a Christian, for example, your bias will often lead you to not only see the "virtues" of Christianity as far out weighing its vices, but also that the vices of not being a Christian far outweigh the virtues. And if you are an atheist, you see it the other way around.


Such a bias can also lead some Christians to believe that their beliefs can only ever produce virtue (because God is pure virtue) and anything that produces vice (even within or in furtherance of their beliefs) is always the result of something that is most definitely not their Christianity.


Atheists, as a group of people, may certainly have those within their ranks who feel the same way about their atheism, but there is a notable difference. Atheists are willing to admit that atheism can be used to produce a plethora of both virtues and vices, even as Christians will argue that their Christianity can only ever produce one and not the other.


When an theist counters this point by asking about child rape, crusades, slavery, global floods, jihad, and the like, the Christian simply concludes that such acts are clearly have nothing to do with 'true' Christianity.


Of course, if you ever turned such reasoning around by suggesting to the Christian that the proper understanding of Nazism was that it was simply a virtuous political system that helped to feed an entire country of people who were being systematically starved to death by the Allies after World War I - thanks to embargos, the Treaty of Versailles and myriad other factors - they would think you were quite possibly insane.


They would then, most likely, move to find any possible way to explain how the two comparisons have absolutely nothing to do with each other, even though for many people, Christianity is even worse than Nazism.


But in either case, the true meaning of Nazism or Christianity lie not in what the system is or is not, or in whether either system produces more virtue or vice, but in why someone feels the need to argue for the sanctity of one and the evil of the other. These perspectives, in other words, tell us about how the blind spot of every bias controls how we see things, far more than it tells us about whether our own "perspective" on such matters is more objectively "true" and accurate.


It has nothing to do with the "truth" of such things, in other words, but everything to do with what we decide to be "true." Thus, proving once again that "we do not see things as they are, but as we are."

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Paradox of Ojective Reality

For many Conservatives or religious believers (but not all, of course), there is often a common thread that weaves through most of their ideas, until it doesn't. "It doesn't" when their view of "objective reality," departs from the objectively real, of course, when they insist that miracles are acts of "god," rather than anomalies that illustrate how imperfect we are, and how "objective reality" is neither objective and (since god can arbitrarily change "reality" anytime he likes thru the use of such "miracles") may not even be real.

The belief in an absolute "objective reality" that we can all agree on, as well as the belief that everyone can and does know exactly what constitutes that objective reality, is something both many Conservatives and Christians insist must be true. But even they don't believe this as much as they say, which is why they believe in God, angles & demons, and even miracles. 

Miracles, after all, are simply things about reality that 1) we cannot explain (even though Christians insist they can), and 2) happen to be favorable to someone in some way. It's a miracle, for example, if we a blind man can suddenly see or a cripple can suddenly walk,  but not if these things were achieved via a good doctor or medicine, of course. If we are at a complete loss to understand how or why someone spontaneously bursts into flames, on the other hand, we don't think of that as a "miracle," but just "bad fucking luck!"


The biggest problem with this view about "objective reality" is not that there isn't anything we can never agree on. Instead, it is the  inability to distinguish the difference between facts, like when the Battle of Hastings was fought, and understanding, which deals with how and why the Battle of Hastings was fought. One is fixed and thus objective, while the other is more subjective, depending on who you ask, and what perspective is being offered. But to reduce the entire understanding of the world to mere facts is to reduce the understanding of a single person to simply their skeleton; it completely misses the unique nature of the person for essentially their bare bones.

 Objective absolutests confuse their power of observation with the power of perspective, which happens when they assume that the are seeing the world without the slightest tint of confirmation bias, even as everyone else has been fooled, and often blinded, by their own. (How this constitutes a religiously "humble perspective" is a "mystery of faith.")  

Yet anyone who holds such absolute certainty in their perspective to absolutely "know" what constitutes "objective reality," who then feels quite capable of proclaiming how everyone should live their lives and what "moral absolutes" must therefore govern everyone, everywhere, and always, has abandoned their own senses and adopted a God's eye perspective of everything.They do not simply assume themselves to be Napoleon of Jesus Christ reborn, but God himself!

The fail to admit or understand, however, just how incredibly different each individual on the planet sees the world from their own unique perspective. Instead, they believe there is this whole "objective reality" to everything - and I mean EVERYTHING - that these absolutests insist everyone - and I mean EVERYONE - agrees on; even though they can't find anyone who happens to agree with them on almost anything at all, let alone everything (except for the belief that there is the "objective" reality that we should all agree on, of course). But you can't explain abstractions to people who think only in concrete absolutes. So I stopped trying to, and now I simply marvel at them, the way people look at babies or goldfish

The Cult of Conservative Capitalism: Slavery as Salvation Pt. 1

Arbeit Mach Frei is the inscription written above the gates of the Auschwitz concentration camp were millions of Jews were reduced to ashes. It means, "work will make you free." Like the Benedictines and other Catholics/Christians, this idea is similar to the concept that "work is prayer," which was an idea used by people like Dr. Rev. Charles Colecock Jones to convince black slaves that they should be happy to submit to their masters. Colecock even wrote a book about it, called "How to Make A Negro Christian," written in 1837, about "the religious instruction of the negro."  But he was not the only one selling the idea that slavery was the road to salvation.

Along with other Christian ministers, like Dr Samuel Cartwright and many others, convincing Christians that their toil was simply a tithing that could be depended on to help them reach heaven (even though Protestants insist that people cannot obtain salvation through their own "works" - ironically enough), has allowed Christianity to seduce the religious with the secular religion of the "money lenders" (whose tables Jesus overturned in the temple, if you happen to "believe" in the bible) called Capitalism.  And today, the strongest form of that secular religion comes in the form of political Conservationism.

In his 1921 book, A New Christ, Wallace Wattles discussed how Christianity has been used to  seduce people into the industrial strength cult of Conservatism that has been used the world over  by the pharaohs of finance. But this process has been going on for longer than that, and with the advent of propaganda and advertising (yes, that's redundant, but some people fail to realize this) such mass manipulation has greatly increased.  And with it, the willingness of people to treat an economic and political perspective, more and more like a religious devotion.

In the same way that most Christians would never bother reading a book written by an atheist or a Muslim criticizing Christianity, so to would a Conservative never bother to read a book written by a Liberal criticizing Conservatism, or a Free Market Capitalist ever read a book written by a Socialist criticizing Capitalism. Or, if ever they did, it would only be to find errors in the thinking of their opponent so that they could poke holes in their argument. They would never read it, however, in an attempt to actually understand why some people legitimately see their "religion" as the sum of all of the evils it has helped to facilitate, instead of the bastion of virtues the "believer" often insists it really is.

But such is the nature of a confirmation bias that it convinces the "true believer" of any religion that they are only ever drinking "holy wine" divinely fermented and inspired, and that everyone else is drinking grape flavored Kool Aid laced with potassium cyanide and following Jim Jones to their early grave (those poor hapless fools). Ask these "true believers" how they "know" the difference, of course, and they will begin to explain "the mystery of faith," which is simply an infomercial, 2000 years in the making.  Drink up and be saved!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Religious Judgement: The Curse of Cain

One of the things I hate about religion is that it teaches people to judge each other, even as it claims that it tries to do the very opposite.  Religion teaches people to act like Cain, in other words, toward all those who wish only to be "like a child" as Christ put it, by being as happy, unencumbered, and appreciative of life as Able.  But if it were not for religion, most people would not have a rubric with which to judge each other in the first place.


Or course, modern society, with it's ostentatious displays of wealth and botoxed photo shopped realty, and constant barrage of commercials designed to make us feel insecure so we will spend ever more to "fix" whatever such commercials program us to be insecure about, only teach us to unfairly judge ourselves all the time. Indeed, when we have created a society that leaves the vast majority of people unhappy and unfulfilled, it is no wonder America has the largest and most religiously addicted populations on the planet.


That's also part of the reason most people have huge amount of debt in this country, as well as why so many people are trying to "escape" realty (or adjust to it) via opiods and massive consumption. It's all to fill the void that religion rushes in and promises to fill with god and hope for heaven. But I digress.


Religion teaches people to "believe" in moral absolutes, that people MUST accept we are all governed by, for it is God's will. And then religion teaches those same people NOT to judge people according to these absolutes, that they must "work out their salvation in fear and trembling" trying to live up to. In other words, religion teaches people NOT to judge others for the very things that people are supposed to believe they will be judged for when they die. And if they do NOT pass with flying colors, they could end up in hades, or Walmart, or North Korea, or working for Nike in central America - which are all basically the same thing, when you think about it.


This, then, is but another lie religion teaches people. That they MUST conform to absolute moral rules, but that their religion will teach them NOT to use those rules to judge others, even though we should all stay painfully aware that God will use them to judge us.


How living under the axe of such judgment is supposedly a healthy way of thinking (which it obviously is NOT) is never addressed by "believers," all of whom simply ignore both the contradiction and the damage it does to themselves and others.


But judging others is NOT about learning moral absolutes and then trying NOT to judge others by those moral absolutes (even as we "judge" ourselves, and asked to be judged by a priest, every time we ask for forgiveness in the confessional for failing to live up to those "moral absolutes"), which is simply a fiction of a "belief" system that is incapable of practicing what it preaches, but in NOT assuming we possess an infallible grasp of god given moral absolutes in the first place.



Religion is a Rorschach Test

For those who have yet to figure this out, religion is simply a rorschach test. It's an ink blot that we look at, and everyone has a different interpretation of what they see.


The "lie" perpetrated by Churches comes not from convincing people to quite literally "buy into" their interpretation of the ink blot - with mega churches making mega millions by turning the orgasmic experience of spiritual euphoria into a financial Ponzi scheme for themselves - but by insisting that those who see the "ink blot" in any other way are simply 'wrong.'


Their "lie," in other words, comes from insisting that there is necessarily a "right way" to interpret religion or the bible, and there is a "wrong way." But just like the ink blots of a Rorschach test, there is no objective, "true" interpretation of anything - especially religion - that is and must be accepted as 'fact' by all, in faith (how ironic that the 'facts' believers insist are true, must be accepted and thus relied upon as "true" in "faith").


Now, the "truth" is that religion can and does help some people, while it hinders and hurts others, because "God" (as the "believers" like to call "everything") made humanity as diverse as it is numerous. But whether "believing" in a 'god' helps people or not, is very different from insisting that their is one undeniable "truth" about "religion," or even an ink blot in a Rorschach test. And anyone who denies that should probably needs to have their head examined.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Paradox of Blasphemy

Jesus was spit on, beaten, attacked, and accused of all sorts of things before he was put to death, so the Christian bible claims. Yet despite all of this, he did nothing in retaliation. But his church was no so found of the idea that it should simply turn the other cheek. While Christ was willing to suffer every insult and injury inflicted upon him, his church would eventually decide that no such insults or injuries would be acceptable to God.

The Church uses the idea of blasphemy not only to help keep its adherents in line, but also to prevent anyone from contradicting anything it says about god, moral law, and other things the Church claims it alone has authority to speak of.

Yet there is nothing in the bible that shows Christ reproving anyone for offering a different perspective on his religion or his ideas about god. Indeed, Christ was offering his OWN interpretation of both, that eventually lead the Sanhedrin to behave in exactly the same way the Catholic Church would behave centuries later.

Christ, like Satan, and Adam and Eve, and Martin Luther, and even America for that matter, challenged authority, and traditional ways of thinking. And he was cast out, cut down, and executed for it. To be like Christ, in other words, is to be willing to blaspheme.

Tell that to a devout Christian, however, and they are likely to accuse you of blasphemy, which is how all prophets are treated. The trick, is having the courage to be your own prophet, instead of a puppet for a religion. 

The Great Paradoxes of Religion

The greatest paradox of religion is that it claims to help fallible beings discern the will of an infallible being. That almost none of these fallible beings can agree about what exactly that infallible-being's "will" actually is, or how to best carry it out, never stops the faithful from insisting that they have "the true faith." and that all of the others are incorrect, some more than others.

Their Church alone makes this claim, ironically enough, even as they claim that their church has "infallibly" determined that we are all incredibly "fallible" to begin with, thanks to the stain of "original sin." Of course, the whole "fallible" and "infallible" thing, along with the whole story of "original sin" and the need for Jesus to come along and fix the humanity that his father started, are all just ideas that comes from, and are perpetuated, by the Church; a Church that insists it "knows," infallibly, that these things are undeniably true. And if we are wise, we will "know" it's true too.

But for religion to boast that it alone can help imperfect human beings discern what it means to be "perfect," and indeed can be trusted to discern this meaning "infallibly," it must first believe that it has some degree of perfection itself to begin with. After all, if a color blind person is going to tell blind people that he alone knows what "true" color is, he must first assume that he is discerning the colors he is about to describe with 'infallible' accuracy. To do this, he must first assume he is not color blind, even though by his own admission, and by his own religion, he is forced to admit that he is as "flawed and imperfect" as those whom he wishes to convince should follow his "infallible" claims about the "truth" of color. 

The paradoxes of religion do not end there, however. There are a host of other such paradoxes that it's many priests and penitents simply chose to ignore, often because they go without notice. These paradoxes, to use an old euphemism, are the very water such fish swim in. And here is just some of them.

Such priests convince their flock that their "belief" in the "truth" is no different than "truth" itself, even as they simultaneously condemn anyone else who wishes to "believe" in an opposite "truth." This, then, is to equate "faith" - which is to believe in something for which there is no proof - with "truth" itself, even while insisting that people cannot just decide for themselves what they chose to "believe" is "truth."

Anyone who challenges any of this is told that they just have to "believe" that the Church is 100% legit, and is 100% accurate in its claims that God is guiding it in everything it chooses to proclaims as "truth."  And if they do, they will clearly and unmistakably see just how "true," it all is. And if not, they will most likely roast for eternity in hell. But either way, the point is that god loves you. 



Monday, October 24, 2016

Failing Christ: Why Some Christians Have Trouble Saying I'm Sorry

Christians believe that their God, Jesus Christ, was executed not for having ever committed any of his own sins, but for the sins that everyone else in the world had, was, and would eventually commit; even though Jesus himself was completely free of sin. Put another way, Christ offered himself as an apology for the sins of humanity. And since Christians claim to be following in the footsteps of Christ, you would think it was their duty to be willing to say they were sorry, even if, like Christ, they had not done anything wrong at all. But the reality of Christianity is often the very opposite of that.

Rather than being able to say they are sorry for the things they have done (or even, like Christ, say they are sorry for the things they may have not done in order to actually "be like Christ"), many Christians tend to find it practically impossible to say they are sorry for almost anything. This is probably not just the result of their having to constantly tell themselves that they are right to conflate their "beliefs" with "eternal, everlasting truth," but also because of the need to hold on to something that they can depend on to never change. 
 
But either way, given their need to constantly defend their "belief" as the indisputable "truth" of reality (despite the two things being polar opposites in fact), being unapologetic in their religious devotion to conflating the two may spill over to their personal dealings with others, even when disagreements arise on subjects that are wholly unrelated to issues about religious beliefs. 

The deep emotional investment and connection that many "believers" have for their beliefs, along with the willingness to completely identify with such beliefs, does not always produce the kind of selflessness that Christians claim their religion helps to encourage and instill. Instead, it can just as often prevent such "believers" from ever considering that they could be completely wrong about the sacred "beliefs" they hold  (and indeed, who could ever be wrong about something as subjectively fickle as one's "beliefs"?), and by extension, about any other emotionally charged position they just happen to identify with it. 

In this way, the need to be right about one's religious beliefs can spill over into other areas of their lives, and replicate itself in a need to be right about virtually everything else. But this is the very definition of ignorance. For ignorance is not the result of what we do not know - since there is always far more that even the most brilliant mind does not know than it ever could know - but from the "belief" that we know far, far more than we actually do. It also comes from the inability to admit that no matter how much we do know, it is always just a drop in an infinite ocean of knowledge, and a single perspective among an infinite number of different possible perspectives - none of which can ever hope to be more "right" or "wrong" than another, when interpreting something both infinite and eternal  

And anyone who pretends that their "beliefs" or their subjective understanding of "objective universal moral truths" is anything other than that, is not exercising any degree of humility, but is only presupposing they have been granted special access to knowing the mind of god. No wonder they so often find it impossible to admit they are wrong or say "I'm sorry." 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Beliefs: Creating Dependence on a Religion

There are any number of "beliefs" that people have, and indeed rely on. Some are big beliefs, like God or religion or patriotism, and others are more personal, such as the belief that a person can achieve a desired goal. And while many people often use one to help them with the other, there is a difference between the two that is important to understand. Why?  Because although some people prefer to link these two different kinds of beliefs together, others feel one is better exercised without a necessary dependence on the other.

Is it better to believe in oneself without having to believe in God or religion? That depends on the person. God may be "real" or he may be simply a placebo of the mind that we happen to prefer to believe exists. It is not necessarily dangerous for a given individual to choose to believe in a personal god, or that they are being watched over by guardian angels, or even that they will see their loved ones after they die. Nor does it matter if a person needs to believe in god to make sense of the world around them or believe in them self.

Such beliefs help people make sense of the world, and provide people with a perspective that makes the insanity of our condition bearable. But this preference for choosing to believe in god in order to believe in oneself is not something everyone prefers. Indeed, for a growing number of people, needing to believe in god in order to believe in oneself is only proof of a deep insecurity.

Why, in other words, would someone need to believe that God can help them achieve a goal, for example, as opposed to simply believing in them self to accomplish it?

In truth, the answer to this question may be interesting to consider, but it doesn't really matter. The real problem is not whether someone wants or needs to believe in a religion or God in order to believe in them self, but the mistaken belief that EVERYONE needs to believe in God in order to believe in them self. Because the truth is, not everyone does.

Worse, however, is when someone takes their belief in God or religion, which they may use to help them believe in their ability to achieve their goals, and tries to convince others that they must accept the same belief in order to believe in them self as well. That some people work better with a belief in god or religion, is not proof that everyone does, and everyone should therefore except the existence of God or the validity of a particular religion. Such beliefs may help some people, but they may be just as harmful (if not more so) to others.

Yet, to suggest that everyone can only be free or be able to trust themselves fully by first accepting Jesus or believing in God or a religion, is not to help people believe in their own abilities to overcome obstacles. It is only to create a dependence on a larger system of beliefs in order to trust in oneself. This, in a very real way, is simply "gas lighting."

But like any drug, those who peddle this opiate of beliefs to believers, only take credit for the high it gives them by indulging in it, and never take responsibility for the low they suffer, when they come back down to a reality that is as indifferent as the grave. And like that song from Easy Rider, "god damn the pusher man."


The Terrorism of Religion: By Their Fruit Ye Shall Know Them

It has been said that the war on terrorism can never be won, because "terrorism" is simply an idea, and an "idea" can never be defeated. One reason for this, for example, is that "war" is "terrorism." Hence the "war on terrorism" is simply a redundancy. But religion is also just an "idea," that uses weapons like "hell" and god's wrath, and judgement day, to intimidate people into "believing" in a particular religion or god, even if there is little or no evidence to support the claim that such "beliefs" make people behave more morally toward each other -  and plenty of evidence to show the very opposite is true.

Christians and Muslims, of course, simply deny that the "evidence" of the great many sins of their religions should ever be considered to be the fault of their religions. For them, those sins are always the fault of the 'evil' their religions are designed to combat. These believers are convinced, in other words, that the "fruits" of their religions are only ever the virtues practiced by faithful, humble, seekers of truth and justice, and never the result of an absolute devotion to an idea. That some religious "extremists" seek to save people spiritually by executing them physically, they argue, should not be considered to be the fault of religion, but proof of the claims of religion that people are flawed and need to repent.

What the distinction just described boils down to is this: Religious devotees have a very different way of thinking about, and thus applying the phrase "by their fruits ye shall know them."

Non believers see this phrase as proof that religion is a lie, for they see crusades, terrorism, witch burnings, genocides, inquisitions, child rape,  and other such horrible acts, as being the "fruit" that let's us know what kind of bloody "tree" religion really is. Religion was not only the "tree" from which Adam and Eve ate forbidden fruit, according to some Christian interpretations of the story of Genesis, but also the "tree" (i.e. cross) upon which that 'enlightened' fellow Jesus was crucified for daring to challenge the dogmas (i.e. evils) of his own religion.

Hence, for non-believers, the sins committed in the name of religion is what determines what kind of "tree" religion really is, regardless of how it may help people cope with suffering or the depressing thought of their own unavoidable death.

For "true believers," on the other hand, this phrase is understood in a very different way. For them, the "strange fruit" of religion (to use the title of Billie Holiday's song about the lynchings of black men in America) lets us know who is actually practicing religion, and who is only claiming to practice that religion in order to commit evil. For the believer, in other words, this "fruit" informs us of the difference between true disciples of God (and therefore love and justice), and "false prophets," who are simply claiming to be disciples of God and their religion, in order to practice death and destruction for their own gain.

While the former thinks they have the correct understanding of their beliefs, the latter is believed to have it all wrong, and probably because we are all such flawed, imperfect beings, or because the devil has twisted their understanding. Believers, however, have been lucky enough to rise above such imperfections in their own interpretation of their religious beliefs,  "thanks be to god." And that's because God has shown them the "true" meaning of their religion, and thus this phrase. Why their "god" did not show this true meaning to others who are committing atrocities in the name of that same religion, is simply a a mystery, and proof that "god works in mysterious ways."

All of this - the good, the bad, and the evil -  is just "part of gods plan."It apparently never occurs to such "true believers," however, that humanity is in desperate need of a better plan. 



Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Spiritual Racism of Religion

A recent study found that racism was more common among those who identified as religious believers. And since religion is a kind of spiritual racism, this should not be surprising.

One of the great lies of organized religion, of which there are too many to count, is that there is a hierarchical order to moral truth and virtue. This lie, however, is so apparent, it goes without notice or objection by those who willingly accept it. And simply accepting such an idea is how the religion robs people of their "free will," even as it claims to be doing the very opposite (which is a means of mass manipulation that both advertisers and politicians have adopted to great applause and destruction).

You see, there are at least two obvious reasons why such a "belief" is flawed, if not outright false. The first is that it presumes that some people are saints and others are sinners, even though assigning such rankings on an infinite scale is impossible. And the second is to mistakenly conflate how we biologically rank different species on the food chain with how we spiritual rank the holiness of souls. Both of these mistakes, which have been completely overlooked by theologians throughout the ages, demonstrate just how man-made our ideas of religion and morality really are.

 First, let's look at the idea of ranking people from saints to sinners. Can we really use an infinite god as an infinite moral standard to measure finite moral beings? While Christians by default insist that we can, the real question is, how would such a thing even be possible?  Think about it: if God is an infinitely long moral yard stick, than how can any finite thing be said to be better or worse than any other?

To put it in terms of space that we can relate to, think of it this way. Imagine God was infinitely tall, and that the ideal height that humans aspired to was measured agaisnt this infinitely tall ideal. How then could we ever conclude that a dwarf was somehow less perfect than a giant? Both would obviously be equally unequal to an infinitely tall God. Hence, to say that one is more "perfect" in height is not to measure them by an infinite standard of height, but a finite standard that we both design in our own image, and apply with all of our subjective biases and fallibility.

The second problem  with ranking people according to their moral purity is that it facilitates a kind of spiritual racism, by decided that some souls are more pure than others. Like the purity of bloodlines sought after in Nazi Germany, the religious quest for spiritual purity was likewise the cause of genocides committed by the Hebrews in the Old Testament. And spiritual purity may be far more dangerous, since the Hebrews not only recorded their genocides for posterity, but boasted about it as proof that God and morality was on their side, much like ISIS and other Islamic extremists today.    

Like Herbert Spencer trying to justify his own social-Darwinism by applying the biological ideas of Charles Darwin to his ideas about economics (even though Darwin insisted Spencer's idea of "survival of the fittest" was an incorrect bastardization of his own theory of natural selection), so theologians mistakenly conflated our taxonomy  of a biological food chain in a finite world, with ranking human souls according to an infinite standard.  But since all souls would be equally unequal to any such "infinite standard" (or unequally equal, if you prefer) this would be impossible.

And anyone who pretends they can use "God" or the bible to distinguish the morally upright from the morally corrupt,  is simply a snake oil salesman practicing spiritual racism for their own gain.



     

2+ 2= 5: Why Religion is the Opposite of Truth

Christian's often like to point to the question Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?" They argue that Jesus did not answer the question because he was, in fact, the truth revealed. But to accept that answer is not "the truth," but simply "belief" such Christians prefer, which is the very opposite of truth. And it is Christians - not atheists - who say so. Here is why.

First, we have to ask the question: does truth matter? Or can we simply decide what we want to believe "truth" is for ourselves? Christians almost always assert that truth is fixed, and immutable, in Christ. They also believe in absolute moral truths, as well.  Sometimes, to illustrate their point that "truth is immutable," they will offer the example that 2 + 2 always equals 4.  But this is untrue. As David Gershaw has pointed out, it actually depends on what measurement scale we are using.

Gershaw put it this way: there are four types of measurement scales, which include nominal, ordinal, interval, and rational. But only in the last two categories, he goes on to explain, does 2+2 =4. Hence, the "immutable" mathematical law that Christians hope to demonstrate through simple math, actually proves the Christian is wrong to believe that 2+2 always equals 4. Of course, the Christian never bothers to explain why a belief that 2 + 2 always equaled 4, means  we should therefore conclude that there are immutable moral laws.

But why does the assumption of mathematical absolutes, necessarily lead us to the conclusion that there must therefore exist immutable moral laws of right and wrong?   Why, in other words, should we assume that the existence of one has anything at all to do with the possible existence of the other? Such questions are never addressed, of course, because they are never considered. But there's more.

Christian's are not completely wrong, here, we should point out. Because even though they are wrong to claim that 2+2 always equals four, they are NOT wrong to claim that - regardless of which measurement scale we are using - we can derive answers to mathematical equations. Thanks to Alan Turing's halting problem, and a number of other mathematical stumbling blocks, however, not every problem necessarily has an answer.

But let us accept the reasoning used by Christians that 2 + 2 ALWAYS equals 4, and see if, by accepting this premise, we can find proof for God or even universal, immutable, moral absolutes.

Asserting the mathematical claim that 2+2 ALWAYS equals 4, means that Christians agree that absolute "truth" actually matters. They are asserting, in other words, that people cannot just chose to "believe" what the answer is to the equation, 2+2 =?. But before that mathematical problem is even cold, the Christian then breaks their own rule of mathematical absolutes (and by extension, moral absolutes) by then doing the very thing they argue we can not do - they chose to "believe" in the story that Jesus was both god and our messiah, who came to forgive our sins and deliver us from evil, so we can live forever in heaven and avoid going to hell.

But NONE of the "beliefs" about Christian "truth"can, in the mathematical sense, be in anyway tested, calculated, or proven to be true. Instead, these are all just things that Christians chose to simply "believe" are as true as their mathematical "truth" that 2 + 2 always equals 4. This, then, is to confuse the apple of math with the orange of morality, even though the two have not been demonstrated to have anything in common at all.

And with regards to "religious beliefs" that some Christians try to claim are "absolutes, the truth is that there is nothing of absolute objective "truth" in the purely subjective "belief" that a man named Jesus ever actually lived, let alone that he was a god or a messiah. Hell, there isn't even any objective proof that Adam and Eve ever existed in the first place, or that there is such a real thing as 'original sin," or any other kind of "sin" for that matter. At least, not in the sense that we as fallible human beings are offending some infinite being by what we do, as if ants could offend us by who the chose to screw.

Rather, all of these "beliefs" are simply bundled together, and gilded with the fear of hell and the hope of living happily ever after (which is exactly how every fairy-tale told to children tends to end). And in that sense, the story of Jesus and the 12 apostles is only as objectively "true" as Snow white and the 7 dwarfs.  

Such beliefs are what Mikhail Bakunin called "the philosophical vinegar sauce" of religious beliefs that, as he puts it, put together "the most opposed systems" of ideas with a complete and contemptuous ignorance of natural science, until two times two make five," and proves "the existence of a personal God." And while it is always entirely up to an individual to design whatever system of beliefs they find true for themselves, including beliefs in god, gods, or even religions, they should never confuse those beliefs with an objective "truth" that everyone else must accept, and follow.

For such religious beliefs may be beneficial to one person, but harmful to another. And all those who deny this only prove that religion, while it can offer things that are "true" to its believers, can just as often be the very opposite of truth. 




Friday, October 21, 2016

Does Religion Make People More Moral?

 The philosopher David Hume wrote, "The greatest crimes have been found, in many instances, to be compatible with a superstitious piety and devotion; Hence it is justly regarded as unsafe to draw any inference in favor of a man's morals, from the fervor or strictness of his religious exercises, even though he himself believe them sincere."

The question we are left to wonder about, therefore, is whether religion and religious beliefs actually make people more moral human beings, or less. Or do they have no real effect on us at all. 

"Believers,"  naturally assume that their sacred "beliefs" actually make people more moral human beings, even though non believers argue that such a "belief" is what actually leads such "Believers" to not only be self righteous in their conviction that they are right (about pretty much everything, unfortunately) but to commit some of the most immoral crimes imaginable - and often for their beliefs and their "god."  

But the truth is that there is plenty of evidence that shows religion makes people worse, in fact, including studies that show the more religious people tend to be, the more racist they tend to be. It has also been found that the biggest consumers of online porn tend to be people who live in America's Bible belt.

The point is, that even if religion does make some people better (which is debatable, of course), it clearly also makes some people worse as well (which is indisputable). The question ,then, is whether "believers" chose to simply "believe" that their beliefs make more people better than worse, even as non-believers think it is the other way around. 

This is not surprising, of course, because once we look under the hood of what drives such believers, we see that there is nothing but air. That is to say, that this "belief" that people are potentially more moral if they "believe" in god or a religion, is itself simply another "belief" that "believers" are just willing to accept as true, regardless of whether there is any evidence to support the claim, even if there is a mountain of evidence to the contrary.

And this only supports the idea that once a person is willing to believe in something without proof, they are easily willing to believe in practically anything without proof. They will, no doubt, reject all of this as simply a "belief" as well, which only proves how they pick and chose which baseless beliefs they are willing to believe are "true," and which they chose to believe are false.  And while it tells us nothing about the validity of such "beliefs" one way or the other, it does tell us that our "morality" is as fickle as what we are willing to believe, and why. 

 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Taking a Knee: Saluting the American Soldier


Not too long ago, Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest police brutality agaisnt African Americans. He made this protest, which was an act in a larger movement called Black Lives Matter, because too often in America, Black Lives are treated as if they matter much less than white lives. And nothing demonstrates this better than America's bogus War on Drugs. But while his protest has been described as being disrespectful of American soldiers who died fighting to defend his freedom, in truth, it should properly be understood to be the very opposite of that. 

Kaepernick's justifiable protest about America's systemic racism that clearly illustrates just how much Black Lives matter less than white lives (which is why white people would never agree to trade places with black people in America), has been hijacked and re-framed as a slap in the face of soldiers who died fighting for freedom and justice in America's wars abroad. But by reframing Kaepernick's protest as an insult agaisnt dead American GIs, those who attack Kaepernick insult all those who died in the fight agaisnt racism, and for civil rights.

Kaepernick's detractors re-framed his protest of the national anthem as not only a slight toward dead American GIs who fought for his freedoms, but as a direct denigration of the very freedoms that allowed him to make such a protest in the first place, while collecting a paycheck of 19 million dollars a year just to play football.

The same people who claim to be the most upset with Kaepernick's protest, claim not to be upset about what he is protesting about (which they are less uncomfortable with, apparently), but about how he chose to protest (and this from many arch Conservatives who regularly accuse Liberals of being dominated by their emotions, ironically enough). They argue he has every "right" to protest the things he is unhappy about, of course, but that he should not protest the American flag by taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem.

Despite the fact that plenty of football fans, and countless other sports fans around the country, regularly fail to stand for the flag during the playing of the national anthem,  it is Kaep's deliberate protest, they argue, that directly disrespects all those who died defending our flag, and preserving his freedom. That Kaep's detractors are directly disrespecting all those who are forced to suffer under the brutal inequalities that such systemic racism produce, is either overlooked, or is just considered less important.

It is irrelevant to such detractors, in other words, that Kaep's protest agaisnt police brutality and systemic racism in America, is simply a continuation of the very same fight that so many American GIs died fighting agaisnt in Europe. Both forms of racism, after all, were not only exercised through laws, but were equally defended in the name of patriotism.

The problem is that simply "believing" that America is free and equal, does not mean that America is either one, especially for large numbers of minorities who are disproportionately treated like their lives matter a whole lot less than the Brock Turners of the world.         


Indeed, a country is not free simply because it claims to send soldiers off to die for "freedom" on foreign soil.  It is free because people have the courage to stand up to oppression and injustice, both on battlefields abroad and on buses here at home. And all those who demand respect for the soldiers who were killed on the former, only disrespect all those who were murdered trying to desegregate the latter, even though all of them died fighting for the exact same thing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Christianity: The God-Standard of Double Standards

It is an indisputable fact that virtually all non Christians have noticed and commented on, that all Christian apologetics can be summed up in the simple ability of Christians to excuse their religion and their "gods" of any and all wrong doings, while at the same time finding ever clever ways to blame every other "belief systems" humanity has shackled itself with, as being responsible for all of the worst things humanity has done to itself. (Of course, to be fair, all "belief systems" are guilty of this.)

Christian may deny this, as people in every cult are so often compelled to do. But the fact remains that Christians continually white wash their beliefs through the mental separation they create between their "idealistic" beliefs on the one hand, and the horrible human suffering such beliefs have been used to inflict and justify on the other.

Although children were brutally mutilated and raped in the Netherlands during the 1950s by Catholic priests and nuns, for example, most Christians see this NOT as evidence that their beliefs are only as man made as Nazism or capitalism, but as evidence that human beings are flawed creatures who desperately need Christ to save us.

(Luckily, we are exactly the kind of people who were willing to brutally butcher Christ to death, much to our benefit and salvation. If we take the Christian story literally, in other words, murder was the means by which we managed to save our miserable hides by killing god.)

The Christian conveniently sees anyone who commits a "sin" like this, as simply proof of our desperate need to rely on Christ to fix our sinful nature. Our sinful nature, in other words, can only be cured by believing in Christ.  In this way, every "sin" and every virtue simply confirms the Christian narrative. As a result, there is no evidence whatsoever that could ever be used to prove that Christianity is in fact the cause of so much evil, even as Christianity falsely takes credit for all of the virtues people exhibit.

Put another way, Christians always assume that people are only made BETTER by "true" Christianity, and never worse, even though millions throughout history would beg to differ (had they not been put to death by Christians, that is). This allows Christians to separate their "belief system" - which they insist is nothing but pure virtue and love - from the many vices and hate that so many Christians have often exhibited toward others. 

Of course, if the very same defense was offered for Nazism -  by likewise suggesting that "true" Nazism was ultimately a divinely revealed religion from a morally perfect God, that just happened to be used by sinners in the wrongest of ways -  Christians would flatly reject such a defense as not only clearly wrong, but blatantly ridicules.

This, then, is the God-Standard of Double Standards that Christians, who always claims that their "eyes have been opened to the truth," seem unable to see.

In this way, Christians have a truly God-like ability to exempt their own religion from all of the worst crimes it has been used to commit. The genocide that resulted in the brutal murder of an estimated 10 to 20 million Native Americans, for example - who were never able to accept the religion of their conquerors, by the way, because they could never reconcile the claims of Christians who preached "freedom and salvation" with their imposition of such beliefs via pain and death - is never accepted by Christians as evidence of Christianity, even though the Holocaust is ALWAYS seen as evidence of Nazism.

None of these facts should be in anyway surprising, considering they also exempt their "god" of drowning everyone on the planet and ordering his "chosen people" to repeatedly commit genocide, if their own bible is to believed.

(Ironically, since atheists believe that both the Old and New Testament are pure lies, designed to give pompous priestly elites the power to convince the illiterate masses that, like the Blues Brothers,  they're "on a mission from God," the horrible acts that these self admitted murderers brag about committing in their sacred scriptures is actually just a confession of how completely delusional they truly were.)

In short, the miracle of Christianity (like all religions and all "belief systems) comes from the dubious ability to separate the sin from the sinner. In the same way that Christians will fool themselves into believing they can condemn witches, in other words, while avoiding responsibility for burning them alive by claiming they are only doing gods will, so they also separate all of the evils that have been committed by Christians for Christianity, from the 'ideal" they carry around inside of their head about what they simply choose to believe Christianity represents. The only problem with this standard (which ALL belief systems necessarily rely on) is that they refuse to allow anyone else to do the exact same thing.

The only TRUE "universal moral standard" such Christians are actually practicing, therefore, is the God Standard of Double Standards.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Breadcrumbs for the Umimaginative: Why I Hate Christiainty

 All facts and all evidence are ambiguous, unless you are a Christian of course. While Christians agree that this claim must be true in principle, since they are the ones who readily champion the idea that we are  flawed sinners who are as fallible as sin, they also (paradoxically) reject all notion of their own fallibility when it comes to their beliefs in "god," their religion, and their bible. In this sense, the mere act of "faith" to believe in these things, makes them infallible in their understanding of these things (as well as pretty much anything that has to do with their own subjective ideas about "morality," that they only ever insist are not "subjective" at all).

And this is why I hate Christians, for they are often as opposite to Christ as the devil himself. They claim to only ever be seeking truth, even as they always engage in interpreting ambiguous evidence as necessarily "proving" their "beliefs." Their "beliefs," in other words, make people who may have no education concerning anything, "infallible" in their conviction that what they simply chose to "believe" is 100% true, and for no other reason than that they simply chose to believe it.

Take any "evidence" such Christians offer, and we find that there are far more ways such evidences could be interpreted to suggest there is no God, than the few ways in which that evidence could be interpreted to suggest that there is. Certainly their bible is but one example, as are miracles (as Carl Sagan has repeatedly explained), and virtually everything else that Christians claim "prove" that their god is real. But rather than admit or accept that such evidences COULD be interpreted in ways that do NOT necessarily prove there is a god, they selectively chose to interpret such evidences as necessarily proving there is, and dare anyone to suggest otherwise.

These evidences, according to such believers, are the breadcrumbs from gods table, that let us know he is real, watching, and may return to punish us at any moment. But such evidences - like "miracles," for example - are only proof to Christians that God is real, because they lack the imagination to think of what else they could possibly be. This is the stranglehold that Christianity has on the mind of believers.

Christianity also leads Christians to believe that they have enough knowledge of "every civilization that has ever existed in human history," to boldly claim to know (as C.S. Lewis did) the "universal moral truths" of the entire universe. In other words, having faith in god apparently gives Christians the clairvoyance of god to see and know every civilization that has ever existed, and that ever will (even though their "god" has broken every one of these "universal moral truths" in spades - and he's their moral exemplar).

But where is the "fallibility" or even the humility that Christians like to brag about, in asserting such an omnipotent understanding of people everywhere, throughout history - ever? Especially when any first year grad student of anthropology can see how clearly incorrect such an empty boast truly is.But that never deters the Christian from making such infallible claims anyway, so help them god.

And all of these claims are boldly proclaimed by those who insist they are the ones who are looking for truth in a world full of lies. But any "true" search for "truth" would necessarily admit, and acknowledge, how even their own bible states that we can never truly know "truth." But they simply ignore such statements, of course, and paradoxically insist that they DO know truth, because they know Jesus - Hallelujah! But even he couldn't give an answer when he was asked, "what is truth?" And yet their inability to find answers to the inexplicable, lead them squarely to the conclusion that God must have done it in the laboratory with the candle stick.

But when "truth" is a belief in God, which is based on a selective interpretation of ambiguous information, by those who "believe" their "faith" makes them so infallible that such information could not ever be interpreted in any other way,  you know that when a Christian wants to offer you "the truth," they are only trying to convince you of a lie. They just changed the story, so that rather than it being a serpent in a tree asking Adam and Eve if they wanted to be like god, they put Jesus on a cross and tell people to "be like Christ." 


Sunday, October 16, 2016

From Miracles to Genocide: The Power of a Confirmation Bias

I have never understood how Christians can believe that a God who only creates people who are prone to death and disease (even though he could easily create them to be impervious to either one), is somehow "benevolent" for choosing to "miraculously" heal a select handful of those suffering from either one. If a car or a mobile phone manufacturer operated in this fashion, such Christians would be justifiably outraged. But if it is God, they are overjoyed.

Today, our understanding of genetics and the mapping of the human genome give us the potential to create human beings who are indeed immune to death and disease, potentially speaking. But just imagine if a "good" doctor somewhere, who possessed the ability to make all of his own children immune to death and disease, decided to make them susceptible to death and disease anyway. And all because that "good" doctor wanted to be able to use his medical knowledge and medicines to pick which of his children he would chose to "miraculously" heal. And if he only wanted to heal one of his own children, even though he could just as easily heal them all, simply because he wanted his other children to see how "benevolent" he was, would humanity not rightly equate such a doctor with Joseph Mengele or Dr Moreau?   

And yet, if God does this very same thing, why then do we call him our Messiah? Indeed, no matter how horrible "God" is or may be, and no matter what acts of cruelty and destruction are committed for this God, nothing can ever disprove to the "believer" that their belief in God could ever be a "bad idea."

No amount of power, murder, genocide, rape, molestation, pillaging, inquisitions, witch burnings, and other horrible acts committed for God and Christianity in particular, could ever cause the Christian to consider for a single second, that their "beliefs" in such a God might be misplaced. No, never! It's just people are flawed.

The TRUE miracle, then, is how the Christians is convinced by every act of evil committed by other Christians is only ever proof of just how desperately the world needs the TRUE Christianity.

So strong is the power of their own confirmation bias, their God could even decide to murder the whole world (and according to their own bible flood story, he already did) as well as use the ignorance of humanity to help murder his own son (Jesus), and they would still insist that to "find salvation" they must continue to "believe" that this God is "good" and "loves them."

How then, is this NOT proof of the greatest act of brainwashing ever known to humanity? Indeed, never has ANYONE been brainwashed that ever admitted they were brainwashed, and no one has EVER belonged to a cult that they recognized was a cult. Instead, it's everyone else who is wrong.

If this is not the truest example of the miracle of how a confirmation bias blinds a person to the "truth" they claim only and always to be looking for, then nothing is.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Who is Suffering From the Delusion?

Why don't Christians have the humility to admit they may be wrong?


I know Christians think their soul will receive rewards in heaven if they "save" atheists from NOT believing the stuff they are convinced is "real," like God, Mary, Jesus, Satan, Hell, etc., etc.  Hence they must think that atheists just fail to fully understand and accept the "truth" of what is real, because they KNOW that ALL of the things just mentioned are unquestionably real. But  even though their religion commands that they try to empathize with others, they never once try to put them self in the shoes of those who feel just as strongly that the Christians are practicing a lie, and that it is indeed the Christian who is suffering from the delusions. 


Imagine, for example, if I wanted Christians to accept MY God – a different and NEW God, an improved God, "a kinder, gentler God, that I was sincerely convinced existed via divine revelation. And of course my God would be a far better God than that genocidal Christian God, who offered to forgive humanity its transgressions if it would but murder his own son. And imagine if I continually tried to sell those Christians the idea that THEY were wrong, and that I was right. After a while, they would probably just think I was being a jerk to insist that their Christian god was a fake and mine was real; and all because I had "experienced" the "truth" of my beliefs.


Christians would probably be even more offended by me occasionally pestering them about it to, because I was convinced that I was “on a mission from God” to SAVE their eternal soul from their false Christian god. They would also probably feel offended by me making such claims, over and over again, even if I honestly only ever made such claims out of a deep abiding love for them, and desire to see them happy. In fact, it never once occurs to Christians that it is actually THEIR incredibly myopic and highly prejudiced beliefs, and their adamant insistence that THEY are right about pretty much everything, that so often makes so many other people UNHAPPY.


Well, for those Christians who are unable to see the beam in their own eye because they are so busy pointing out the splinter in everyone elses, here is the deal: you know that feeling you Christians have, whenever people try to convince you that you're wrong to believe what you believe - that's EXACTLY how you make everyone else feel who doesn't agree with you. And if you are so easily offended by anyone who fails to treat your beliefs with the utmost respect, let alone anyone who dares to suggest that your beliefs are all  untrue, then why do you think it is okay for you Christians to treat everyone else's beliefs the same way? Is it because, in your heart, you believe you are only trying to "save them," by showing them the "truth" of God?  Well, atheists feel the EXACT same way.  


You see, atheists feel just as sincerely about wanting only to "save" Christians by sharing with them the "truth" about just how much of a LIE Christianity really is, and just how truly destructive Christianity has been, on both a global level, and emotionally, and psychologically on an individual level. Atheists, more importantly, want to "save" people - like homosexuals and other atheists, for example -  FROM CHRISTIANS. Atheists know that Christians do not believe this, but that's how all cults work, whether it was started by Charles Manson or John the Baptist or Jesus Christ.  But Christians are just convinced that they are right and that everyone else is dead wrong. That’s not humility, however, that’s more hubris than the devil.


But just imagine what it must feel like to be that ONE member of an entire family, all of whom are suffering under the same delusion. And they are all so seduced by this delusion, and so committed to advancing it as "the truth," that they all, in their own ways, try to impose or convince that one member to accept “their truth” as totally real. So even if ONE member of the family is not trying to subtly or directly convince that one person to accept their beliefs, another member of the family probably is. It's like a tag-team wrestling team on one side, fighting a single opponent on the other.  How much worse do you think it must it feel for that ONE person to have to constantly deal with all of those delusional “believers,” than it is for any one of those “believers” to deal with that one delusional “non-believer?


Making life all about having the right "beliefs" is to say that life is necessarily only about subscribing to the right "ideas. Life, in this respect, is more about THINKING the right thoughts, than about having or trying new experiences (many of which are considered too "evil" to be enjoyed by moral people). And then, to convince people of this, heaven and hell are used as "either a threat or a bribe," as Christopher Hitchens put it.  Hence, heaven is offered as "the eternal pleasure" experience, and hell is offered as the "eternal torment" experience. Thus, religion makes IDEAS more important that experiences in this life, while using the "experiences" of Heaven or Hell in the next life, to force us to accept the right ideas in this one. 

But there is still one question that remains unanswered, and that is this: When will Christians ever understand that they’re constant attempts to lead people to heaven by getting them to accept Christian "beliefs," only results in making everyone else feel like they are in Hell, and that their attempts to "save  souls for Jesus" only feels like they are crucifying anyone who chooses to disagree with them, the same way Christ disagreed with the Sanhedrin?  

At least the Christian knows who is really suffering from the "delusion" in all of this. And so does everyone else.

At the end of the day, the debate between atheists and believers  is simply a question of whether God and religion are a disease or a cure. And even if it's the latter, it's still possible to have to much of a "good thing."

ground hog day

Our central nervous system needs constant stimulation with new stimuli, and so does our brain.  Otherwise, both our sensations and our minds...