Friday, September 30, 2016

Quaker Witness Against Syrian War




A statement from British Quakers concerned for peace in the Middle East:

Working for peace, opposing war

"Quakers in Britain work for peace. We are led by our faith to reject “outward weapons", turning instead to those of the spirit. As a faith community our religious understanding and experience is that true peace cannot be imposed by military might. Ideas cannot be removed with bombs."

"There are both moral and pragmatic reasons to oppose military action in Syria. Bombs dropped from the air not only kill indiscriminately, they further increase the risk of terrorist retribution. Security comes from building peace not from supplying weapons. It comes from welcoming refugees fleeing war rather than erecting fences."

"Take action now."

-- https://www.quaker.org.uk/news-and-events/news/quakers-say-no-to-military-action-in-syria

"It is human nature that the closer suffering comes to us, the more acutely we feel the pain and grief. But that experience should sensitise us to the suffering caused repeatedly by acts of war and violent crime in more distant places, including Beirut, Sinai, Bamako and Aleppo. It should strengthen our determination to build a safer world together."
--

"The military actions of Western nations recruit more people to the cause than they kill. Every bomb dropped is a recruitment poster for [Islamic State], a rallying point for the young, vulnerable and alienated. And every bomb dropped on Syrian cities drives yet more people to flee and seek refuge in safer countries."


"Our political leaders seem determined that Britain should look strong on the world stage."

"Quakers in Britain believe our country should act with wisdom and far-sighted courage.
A wisdom that rises above the temptation to respond to every problem with military might."

"A wisdom that looks back at our failures in Libya and Iraq and Afghanistan
and learns from experience. The courage – and strength - to think through
the likely consequences of actions to find a long term, lasting solution."

"Although there are no quick or easy answers, there are things we can do, all of us together, which will defeat
the terrorists [and the Syrian Government, Saudi Arabian government instigators, etc.] more assuredly than military action."

"We can quieten ourselves and listen to the truth from deep within us that speaks of love, mutual respect, humanity and peace."

"We can and will refuse to be divided. By bridge-building among faiths and within our local communities we can challenge and rise above the ideologies of hate and actively love our neighbour."

"By welcoming refugees, we can not only meet the acute needs of those individuals but also undercut the narrative of those who seek to create fear and mistrust."


"And we can ask our political leaders to:

Treat terrorist acts as crimes, not acts of war
Stop arming any of the parties fighting in Syria
Observe international law and apply it equally to all parties
Build cooperation among nations, strengthening those international institutions which contribute to peace
Export peace rather than war, so that we can create the conditions the world needs to address its most serious problems, including climate change."

"...from a statement made by Quakers in Britain in 1943 (Quaker faith & practice 24.09):

“True peace cannot be dictated, it can only be built in co-operation between all peoples. None of us, no nation, no citizen, is free from some responsibility for this."
http://www.quaker.org.uk/news-and-events/news/quakers-responding-to-terrorism
-

"The UK and NATO allies must stop arming and financing any of the parties
fighting in Syria, before we can expect that others do the same."
https://quakers-production.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/store/13ab9820c6d6537a38d7d8954233cdba7551622faff943059bb195dcbd03



Is your Friends Meeting, or other human rights organization working to oppose this war
in which more than 350,000 have been killed and many injured, and millions refugeed?

Please write your governmental representatives to oppose this mass slaughter.

Make a visible witness.





In the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Inside Aleppo: A new life in a deadly city


Here's proof that the atheist leader Peter Singer who claims a pre-born infant isn't a person is dead wrong!

And proof that the Christian leader Matt Chandler who claims that every infant at conception is, "in essence evil" believes in an evil religion.

And proof that the U.S. and other nations, mostly Islamic ones such as Saudi Arabia, that are funding this slaughter in Syria are guilty of murder.

And proof, that contrary to all those wrong-doers, there are other humans like this Syrian doctor and helping nurses who are rescuing the perishing.













Rescue the perishing, care for the impoverished, help those in need,

Live in the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Stark Difference Between Modern Science and Modern Religion


Islam's Religion Against Blasphemy

versus

Modern Science's Historic Discovery

Caution: One must be careful not to fall for the Either/Or Fallacy,
blaming ALL of modern science,
or ALL of modern religion
for the horrendous evils in history and today.

But the real facts are these: without modern science, there would be no drones, aerial bombing, gas warfare, and massive slaughters via conventional and nuclear weapons.

But the real facts are these: without modern religion, there would be no doctrinal persecution, torture, and slaughter of humans around the globe.

No Syria,
Iraq,
Yemen,
Afghanistan,
Libya,
Iran,
Pakistan,
Somalia,
Saudi Arabia...






(Of course there would still be destruction and evil
in other forms, but that is a story for another day.)

Two Countering Stories from the News today:

Oldest Human Remains Found from 400,000 Years Ago

by Asaf Kamer

"Located outside of Rosh HaAyin and Tel Aviv, Qesem Cave was accidentally discovered during road work 16 years ago; since then, the cave has revealed a wealth of information on early humans, and helps shed light on the evolution of humanity."

"A powerful controlled explosion designed to demolish a giant limestone boulder blocking the path of the road exposed the entrance to a giant limestone cave which had been sealed for over 200,000 years."

"This 200,000 year old time capsule contained within it rare artifacts from a critical point in the evolution of humanity, and turned the cave, now called "Qesem Cave," into one of the most important pre-historic sites in the world."

"Archaeology Professor at Tel Aviv University Ron Barkai is the head of digging at Qesem Cave."

Inside Qesem Cave, Photo by Ron Barkai, Tel Aviv University

"It's a very special cave," he said. "It reflects an unknown stage in the history of humanity. We don’t know which type of human lived here."

"We know that they acted differently than everyone else who lived in this area before them. They seem like a different type of human..."

"If we aren't mistaken, they were more similar to us (humans today), and not their forefathers the Homo erectus."

"Avi Gofer, another archaeologist from Tel Aviv University and who also helps manage the dig excitedly talks discusses the artifacts left behind by these early peoples, including flint tools and animal bones."

"This cave has been unusually well preserved," Gofer says. "The people who lived here were a huge revolution (in the history of humanity). What these people did here is completely different than what other humans were doing; in terms of chiseling technology, behavior, hunting techniques, organization, use of fire, and much more. In other words, there was an explosion of change (at Qesem Cave), and a lot of innovations."

"One of the major discoveries at Qesem Cave which changed history books was the discovery of the oldest evidence of the consumption of cooked meat."

Professor Torsten Otmeier of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany:
"This site is approximately 400,000 years old."

Photo by Ron Barkai

"If you look at what (the early humans) did here, on their hunting strategies, the way they made their tools and how they prepared their food, it points to one of the most important changes in the history of mankind."

"Before this era, early humans acted in a completely different manner. (This site) represents one of the most important turning points in the evolution of mankind."

"Despite the heat and the harsh and sometimes dangerous physical labor, diggers who come from all over the world work diligently and with scientific precision as they sift dirt, sand, and limestone in the cave. A long conveyor belt brings dirt up from the depths of the cave to the surface, where the dirt is sifted for artifacts."

Professor Barkai explains the technological differences between Homo erectus and the type of humans whose remains were found in the cave:

"They made flint knives alongside other large artifacts such as hand axes which enabled these early peoples to hold onto the tool with one hand and cut. These are the oldest examples of knives in the history of humanity."

"By comparison...Europe only started seeing humans using knives 30,000 years ago."

"These knives were created 400,000 years ago...
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4846834,00.html

VERSUS

JORDAN WRITER, NAHID HATTAR, in ISLAM BLASPHEMY CASE, KILLED

Nahid HattarImage copyright PETRA NEWS AGENCY

"Mr Hattar was attacked on social media for sharing the cartoon"

"A Jordanian writer charged with offending Islam after allegedly sharing a satirical cartoon on his Facebook page has been killed."

"Nahid Hattar was hit by three bullets outside the court in the capital Amman where he was standing trial."

"Police have arrested the suspected shooter, Riad Abdullah. Jordanian media said he was local imam who had been upset by the cartoon...A witness told the Associate Press news agency that Mr Abdullah had a long beard and was wearing a long robe, common among conservative Muslims.

"Nahid Hattar was detained in August for 15 days on charges of insulting God after he published a cartoon depicting a bearded man lying in bed with two women and smoking, asking God to bring him a drink."

Nahid was an atheist, and "was attacked on social media for being anti-Islam."

"He said he had not meant to cause offence and wanted to expose radical Islamists' view of heaven."

"Authorities said he had broken the law by sharing the cartoon."

"The prime minister was the first one who incited against Nahid when he ordered his arrest and put him on trial for sharing the cartoon, and that ignited the public against him and led to his killing,"
Saa Hattar, the writer's cousin
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-37465656
--

Two stories with very different methods and two very different ends.

May we choose to reject All forms of religious and scientific harm and slaughter.

However, this week it doesn't look good.

Many Americans opposed the U.S. selling 1.5 billion to Saudi Arabia which is waging a vicious Islamic war in Yemen where over 10,000 have been killed, many of them by bombing.

But this week, the U.S. Senate voted by a large majority to support the destruction, to support sending weapons to a ruthless Islamic government which is largely, or at least partially, responsible for the endless Islamic slaughter of the last 50 years.

Plus, like Jordan, Pakistan, etc., Saudi Arabia's Islamic government denies its citizens basic human rights including freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

It imprisons innocent civilians for their writing and for their beliefs.

How dark is the darkness of world religion and politics,

Live, instead, in the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Moments of Beauty

Years ago, a short reflection by William Saroyan
dramatically captivated me, vivid words of remembrance--
on the beauty and uniqueness
of small pebbles and stones
that he had found on
the California shore.


Saroyan, (as I warm in the remembrance), spoke of small moments of beauty,
natural objects of serendipity, alluring things of transcendence...
that he set on his writing room shelves,
and felt their
wonder
when the sun shone on them.

From then on, inspired, I collected all sorts of pebbles, agates,
rocks, sea-glass, and shells whenever we visited the coasts.


I became a beachcomber of beauty, a voyager through the washed-up-and-down of life.

A drifter and sea stroller who walks along sand dunes and shores looking for things, even riff-raff...

riffraff (n.)
late 15c., from earlier rif and raf "one and all, everybody, every scrap," also "sweepings, refuse" (mid-14c.)...from raffler "carry off"...or from raffer "to snatch, to sweep together"
Online Etymology Dictionary

Even now here on my computer desk and other shelves, rocks, pebbles, and shells
lay still waiting for another I-It encounter:-),
the aesthetic depth which sometimes
transcends itself
into the wonder!

Which reminds me of another key pebble of beauty for living--
that we humans are washed up
on the shore of existence,
surrounded and crowded
by circumstances we didn't choose.

But the wonder of our human neural plasticity
is that we each get to choose
how we respond to life's circumstances
and we get to create anew, contribute a verse,
as Walt Whitman versed.



O Me! O Life!

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer.
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

by Walt Whitman
--

Beauty Created by Choice

And, then, there are the more folksy versions of that point:

Oyster Choice

There once was an oyster tale to tell,
Of beach sand that got into his shell;

'Unjust' a grain; it gave him great pain.
Oysters got feelings though they're so plain.

Did he curse...go mum and clam, or claim
The lively sea shouldn't so maim?

'No,' said he laying in his shell,
'Since I can't remove, improve it, I shall.'

Thus a mean grain of sand that hurt so
Became a beautiful pearl aglow.

--Adapted, Author Unknown
--

Another creative exploration of happenstance, serendipity, beauty, and lifestance
occurs in William Saroyan's powerful little play, The Oyster and the Pearl:


SCENE: Harry Van Dusen's barber shop in O.K.-by-the-Sea, California, population 909. It's an old-fashioned shop, crowded with stuff not usually found in the barber shops...
Harry himself, for instance.

He has never been known to put
on a white barber's jacket
or to work without a hat
of some sort on his head:
a stovepipe,
a derby,
a western,
a homburg,
a beret,
or a straw,
as if putting on these various hats somewhat expressed
the quality of his soul, or suggested the range of it.












On the walls, on shelves,
are many odd and ends,
some apparently washed up by the sea,
which is a block down the street:

abalone and other shells, rocks, pieces of driftwood, a life jacket, rope, sea plants. There is one old-fashioned chair.

When the play begins, Harry is seated in the chair. A boy of nine or ten named Clay Larrabee is giving him a haircut.
Harry is reading a book, one of many in the shop.

CLAY: Well, I did what you told me, Mr. Van Dusen. I hope it’s all right. I’m no barber, though. You want to look at it in the mirror?
(He holds out a small mirror.)
HARRY: No thanks. I remember the last one.

CLAY: I guess I’ll never be a barber.
HARRY: Maybe not. On the other hand, you may turn out to be the one man hidden away who will bring merriment to the tired old human heart.

CLAY: Who? Me?
HARRY: Why not?
CLAY: Merriment to the tired old human heart? How do you do that?

HARRY: Compose a symphony, paint a picture, write a book, invent a philosophy.
CLAY: Not me! Did you ever do stuff like that?

HARRY: I did.
CLAY: what did you do?
HARRY: Invented a philosophy.

CLAY: What’s that?
HARRY: A way to live.
CLAY: What way did you invent?

HARRY: The take-it-easy way.
CLAY: That sounds pretty good.

HARRY: All philosophies sound good. The trouble with mine was, I kept forgetting to take it easy. Until one day. The day I came off the highway into this barber shop.

The barber told me the shop was for sale. I told him all I had to my name was eighty dollars. He sold me the shop for seventy-five, and threw in the haircut. I’ve been here ever since. That was twenty-four years ago.

CLAY: How old were you then?
HARRY: Old enough to know a good thing when I saw it.
CLAY: What did you see?

HARRY: O.K.-by-the-Sea, and this shop.
(He gets out of the chair, goes to the hat tree, [and puts on one of the many hats hanging there.]
--
CLAY: Well, anyhow, thanks a lot. I guess I'll go down to the beach now and look for stuff.

HARRY: I'd go with you but I'm expecting a little Saturday business.
CLAY: This time I'm going to find something really good, I think.

HARRY: The sea washes up some pretty good things at that, doesn't it?
CLAY: It sure does, except money.

HARRY: What do you want with money?
CLAY: Things I need.
HARRY: What do you need?
CLAY: I want to get my father to come home again...

HARRY: Now, wait a minute, Clay, let me get this straight. Where is your father?
CLAY: I don't know.
...............

(Clay with something in his hand, a smaller boy named Greeley with a bottle of sea water, and Roxanna with an assortment of shells.)

CLAY: I got an oyster here, Mr. Van Dusen.
Greeley: Miss McCutcheon [the young new teacher] claims there ain't a big pearl in it.


HARRY: (looking at Miss McCutcheon) Is she willing to admit there's a little one in it?
GREELEY: I don't know. I know I got sea water in this bottle.

TEACHER MCCUTCHEON: Mr. Van Dusen, Clay Larrabee seems to believe there's a pearl in this oyster he happens to have found on the beach.

CLAY: I didn't happen to find it. I went looking for it. You know Black Rock, Mr. Van Dusen? Well, the tide hardly ever gets low enough for a fellow to get around to the ocean side of Black Rock, but a little while ago it did, so I went around there to that side. I got to poking around and I found this oyster.

...............
Excerpted from The Oyster and the Pearl by William Saroyan






What has washed up on your shore today?






What beautiful pebbled moments of wonder?













Photo by Jeanna Doty




Or what irritant, ache, troubling circumstance, or tragedy
has gotten lodged in your oyster mind and heart?

What creative choices can you make to turn this problem into a precious stone/moment/agate?


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, September 19, 2016

Brief: Freeze-dried, Non-fat Version of My Worldview

For those who don’t like long philosophical posts,
here’s a freeze-dried, non-fat version of my worldview:-=):

#1 I am a theist in the sense of Webster-Merriam Dictionary's
first definition of God


God--“1 capitalized: the supreme or ultimate reality...”

#2 However, I am definitely not a theist in the sense of most organized religion. I don't believe in the creeds, confessions, dogma, and doctrines
of the Christian, Islamic, or Hindu religions and sects.

Don’t believe in the Yahweh/Allah/Brahma of genocides, holy wars, slaughter of civilians and infants, capital punishment, slavery,
inequality, polygamy, oppression and subjugation of women, and so forth. And all
the other immoral actions attributed to Yahweh/Allah/Brahma, recorded in the Bible, the Quran, the Bhagavad Gita, etc.

#3 But then I don’t believe in the claims, assertions, tenets, and screeds of modern nonreligious thought either. Don’t agree with materialism, determinism, moral subjectivism, unethical stances, and philosophical claims that existence/reality is “meaningless and purposeless.”

#4 For better or worse, I am devoted to the principles of the central Enlightenment—
reason,
liberty,
equality,
human rights,
freedom of religion, speech, and the press,
progress,
tolerance,
and science, etc.

In other words, I am committed to the outlook of thinkers such as Immanuel Kant, Thomas Paine, and many others.

#5 I think that all ethics including fairness, fidelity, monogamy, compassion, altruism, kindness, peacemaking/non-violence, generosity, empathy, perseverance, creativity, diligence, thankfulness, hope, and courage—are "oughts,"
are transcendent “beyond” nature, are more than atoms and quarks in motion.


These moral actions are true and universal and will be found in any species in the cosmos who is conscious, rational and aware of ethics.

#6 Another way of stating this is:
Math, reason, logic, ethics,
aesthetics, natural regularities
(sometimes called natural law, like gravity), etc. are all inherent in reality.

Finally, beyond our finite primate abilities to understand, use reason, apply math, do scientific studies, study the history of our species, create things of beauty, and puzzle over philosophical conundrums, there is WONDER.

That is the term that various scientists have used to state their original motivation to seek out and understand existence.

And it’s the term scientists often use to describe what is beyond our rational understanding.

In some cases, human questions may be about non-things that are permanently beyond humankind’s mental abilities like our visual inability to see certain spectrums of light or our hearing inability to hear what a dog can.

#7 At some point, we humans move into areas of speculation—educated guessing.

There are plenty of scientific and philosophical hypotheses as to the nature of Ultimate Reality.

And there are various hypotheses as to whether there is only the Universe, or whether there is a Mulitverse, etc.

These cosmological thoughts are intriguing rational speculations. I find such questions fascinating, have had a life-long searching of why questions.

But I don’t live my practical life by guessing, even educated guessing.

#8 My central concern is with the next living moment,
the next ethical decision,
the next future plan
for the flourishing of all human life,
life itself, and the cosmos.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Responding to Good without God: Theism Manifesto III



In response to the book, good without God by Greg M. Epstein,
Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University:

Theist Manifesto III

Theism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

The lifestance of Theism—guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience—encourages us to live life well and fully. It evolved through the ages and continues to develop through the efforts of thoughtful people who recognize that values and ideals, however carefully wrought, are subject to change as our knowledge and understandings advance.

This document is part of an ongoing effort to manifest in clear and positive terms the conceptual boundaries of Theism, not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe. It is in this sense that we affirm the following:

Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Theists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies.

We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.


Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Theists recognize nature as self-existing.

We accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be. We welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.

Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Theists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond.

We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.

Life's fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. We aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death.

Theists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the lifestance of Theism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.

Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Theists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.


Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature's resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.

Theists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature's integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.

Thus engaged in the flow of life, we aspire to this vision with the informed conviction that humanity has the ability to progress toward its highest ideals. The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.

from "Postscript: Theism and Its Aspirations,"
Theist Manifesto III
Good with God,
pages 223-225

--

The point is that as a Theist, you'd be in distinguished company along with Thomas Jefferson....Voltaire...

from Introduction,
Good with God, page xii

--

NOW FOR THE TRUTH; "JUST THE FACTS"!

This article is a mild satire, a little early morning irony, because the manifesto is actually a contrary publication, THE VERY WORDS of thinkers who DENY theism!!

All I did was substitute one word, that of "theist" for "humanist."

Again, semantics rule almost everything when it comes to questions of philosophy, cosmology, and reality.

How is it that I could insert "theism" as a substitute for "humanism" throughout this publication, without a hitch?*

Clearly the Manifesto uses terms that are contrary to the central beliefs
of Nontheism, and are the same, or very similar,
to the views of generic Theism*
such as those of Thomas Jefferson
and Voltaire,

and those of the
20th century
mathematician and philosopher
Alfred Lord Whitehead.






Another example of a strong theist is Martin Gardner, the creative skeptic and co-founder of the modern Skpetic movement.



For instance, contrast the Human Manifesto's word choices (look at bolded phrases in the Manifesto versus the word choices of some famous nontheists.

Humanist/Theist Manifesto:

"committed to treating each person as having having inherent worth and dignity"

VERSUS

Humans are "puppets," "wet robots," and "a bag of chemicals,"

When it comes to ethical choice, humans have no more choice than the mass murderer in Texas who was forced to murder by his brain tumor. All humans are like that killer--no choice, it's "tumors all the way down."

And humans have no more choice than "a fly or a bacterium" or "than a bowl of sugar."
Humans are only "mechanical forces of nature..."

"...any fetus is less human than an adult pig."

Etc.

"We are survival machines—robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes."
Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene
--

"...long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence."

"inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all."

"Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature's resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life."

"Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature's integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner."

"greater good"

"inspired by compassion"

"subject to change as our knowledge and understandings advance"

These very important phrases sound much more like the thinking of the Enlightenement theists than many of the negative phrases of modern nontheists.

The strangest part of all of this is that even one of the most militant atheist, Richard Dawkins, states that he doesn't get his ethics from natural evolution!

"[If] there is mercy in nature, it is accidental. Nature is neither kind nor cruel but indifferent."
A Devil's Chaplain

Altruism is a "misfiring" of evolution.
The God Delusion



"A predominant quality to be expected in a gene is ruthless selfishness.
This gene selfishness will usually give rise to selfishness in individual behavior?.
Much as we might wish to believe otherwise, universal love and the welfare
of the species as a whole are concepts that simply do not make evolutionary sense."


"I am not advocating a morality based on evolution. I am saying how things have evolved.
I am not saying how we humans morally ought to behave."

"Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least
have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to."
The Selfish Gene


--

from an Interview with Richard Dawkins:
Skeptic: Well, if we don't accept religion as a reasonable guide to "what is" or even a reasonable guide to "what ought to be," does evolution give us such a guide? Can we turn to evolution to answer not what is, but what ought to be?

Dawkins: I'd rather not do that. I think Julian Huxley was the last person who attempted to. In my opinion, a society run along "evolutionary" lines would not be a very nice society in which to live.

But further, there's no logical reason why we should try to derive our normative standards from evolution. It's perfectly consistent to say this is the way it is--natural selection is out there and it is a very unpleasant process.

Nature is red in tooth and claw. But I don't want to live in that kind of a world. I want to change the world in which I live in such a way that natural selection no longer applies.

Skeptic: But given the clay from which we are made, doesn't natural selection make it relatively unlikely that some things will work? Doesn't Darwinism undercut the great socialist hope, "Why, because we will it so!"?

Dawkins: Some goals may be unrealistic. But that doesn't mean that we should turn around the other way and say therefore we should strive to make a Darwinian millennium come true.

Skeptic: But then isn't what we ought to do (as David Hume argued long ago) just a matter of preference and choice, custom and habit?

Dawkins: I think that's very likely true. But I don't think that having conceded that point, I as an individual should then be asked to abandon my own ethical system or goals."

I as an individual can adopt idealistic or socialistic or unrealistic or whatever sort of norms of charity and good will towards other people. They may be doomed if you take a strong Darwinian line on human nature, but it's not obvious to me that they are.
--

Skeptic: Can we use Darwinism and natural selection to analyze other events in history? To put it in its crudest form, if Hitler had won WWII would that have proved that his system was better (in a Darwinian sense) than that of the Allies?

Or does the fact that the Soviet Bloc crumbled tell us anything about the relative fitness of market-based economies versus command economies. If might (or at least survival and reproduction) doesn't make right (as well as everything else), what does?

Dawkins: I think it is not helpful to apply Darwinian language too widely. Conquest of nation by nation is too distant for Darwinian explanations to be helpful. Darwinism is the differential survival of self-replicating genes in a gene pool, usually as manifested by individual behavior, morphology, and phenotypes.

Group selection of any kind is not Darwinism as Darwin understood it nor as I understand it. There is a very vague analogy between group selection and conquest of a nation by another nation, but I don't think it's a very helpful analogy. So I would prefer not to invoke Darwinian language for that kind of historical interpretation.
--

Skeptic: In a Darwinian sense, isn't it somewhat meaningless to argue about any supposed displacement of "superior" beings by "inferior" beings, or that evolution "is going backwards." Don't such arguments turn Darwinism on its head?

Dawkins: Because whatever evolves is, by definition, superior? There's nothing nonsensical about saying that what would evolve if Darwinian selection has its head is something that you don't want to happen. And I could easily imagine trying to go against Darwinism. I don't see why that's inconsistent.

I can easily imagine saying that in a Darwinian world, the fittest, by definition, are the ones that survive and the attributes that you need to survive in Darwinian sense are the attributes that I don't want to see in the world. I can easily see myself fighting against the success of Darwinism prevailing in the world.

...Even if it did, and this is a stronger point, I would oppose any suggestion from any group such as the National Front, that whatever occurs in natural selection is therefore morally good or desirable. We come back to this point over and over again. I'm definitely not one who thinks that "is" is the same as "ought"

...I'm happy for people to make speculations along those lines as long as they don't again jump that is-ought divide and start saying, "therefore racism is a good thing." I don't think racism is a good...it's a very bad thing. That is my moral position. I don't see any justification in evolution either for or against racism. The study of evolution is not in the business of providing justifications for anything.

Skeptic: You also took a bit of flak for likening religion (I think specifically Catholicism) to a virus? Is that still your position?

Dawkins: Yes...I do think that the Roman Catholic religion is a disease of the mind which has a particular epidemiology similar to that of a virus.

Skeptic: But couldn't the Pope (or Evangelical Protestants for that matter), reply, "Look, we just have a terrific meme. It's winning what you would describe as a Darwinian battle and you're angry because you just don't like it."

Dawkins: Religion is a terrific meme. That's right. But that doesn't make it true and I care about what's true. Smallpox virus is a terrific virus. It does its job magnificently well. That doesn't mean that it's a good thing. It doesn't mean that I don't want to see it stamped out.

Skeptic: So once again the discussion goes back to how do you determine whether something is good or not, other than by just your personal choice?

Dawkins: I don't even try. You keep wanting to base morality on Darwinism. I don't.
--
from Interview
by Frank Miele, Skeptic Magazine
http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/10-10-27/
--

*(Though all of this is NOT, of course, true of doctrinal and creedal religions such as Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism.)


In the Light of Meaning and Purpose,

Daniel Wilcox

Eat Food Without a Face


Moving Toward No Harm Eating*

Or VegaAgain...

"Eat food without a face."

What a marvelous aphorism with a powerful ethical kick.


This is an update on my own move down the food chain, transitioning toward vegetarianism gradually. Second time around.

The first time I tried to de-meat was in 1968 near Philadelphia, PA, while working as a mental health care giver in a mental hospital for emotionally disturbed teens and children.

(That came about because I was a conscientious objector; when drafted for opposing the Vietnam War, I served my country and all others by helping at-risk kids.)

I tried to go strictly vegan, but lost 50 pounds, became malnourished, dropped down to 113 pounds, damaging my brain and body and my relationships with others!

Such a good worthy ideal, but for me it was the wrong way to get there. Despite my modeling my diet on a 6-Gold-Medalist Olympian’s, my own particular body constitution couldn't take the drastic switch, even with the help of a health food doctor. Strict veganism worked for Murray Rose and the doctor, but not me.

Fast forward to the 1990’s; I started my new attempt by stopping the eating of all beef. At first, I missed hamburger and beef bologna. And sometimes declining all beef at family meals was relatively difficult. At first, my relatives and friends offered to get me salmon for their meal. I accepted or only ate potatoes and veggies. However, later, for who knows why, they stopped offering the alternative.

But I stuck to my fork, not my gun.

Keep in mind my family grew up in Nebraska, the "Beef State."* Every year when I was a kid, my parents bought half a cow from our grandparents and we ate everything from steak to heart, liver, tongue and ox tail! My favorite meat was fried liver and onions, and second, large beef bologna.


As for pig, I’ve never been a hog for pork, so didn’t have to stop chewing on such oinking dishes,
since, basically, I've eaten very few pork products since childhood.

When the family reunion of Thanksgiving
came up, I simply passed on the ham, and ate a little fowl food instead.

But even if I had loved ham and pork loins, I would have, definitely, stopped because pigs are one of the smartest sentient animals. Not a creature to eat.

See this:
'We have shown that pigs share a number of cognitive capacities with other highly intelligent species such as dogs, chimpanzees, elephants, dolphins, and even humans..."

"The point is not to rank these animals but to re-educate people about who they are.
They are very sophisticated animals," said neuroscientist Lori Marino of Emory University.

"Science leaders have reached a critical consensus:
Humans are not the only conscious beings;
other animals, specifically mammals and birds, are indeed conscious, too."

And octopuses.

"The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in Non-Human Animals was publicly proclaimed in Cambridge, UK, on July 7, 2012, at the conclusion of the Conference, at Churchill College, University of Cambridge, by Philip Low, David Edelman and Christof Koch...
The Declaration was signed by the conference participants that very evening, in the presence of Stephen Hawking, in the Balfour Room at the Hotel du Vin in Cambridge, UK. The signing ceremony was memorialized by CBS 60 Minutes.”
--Marc Bekoff, PhD and other writers
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201208/scientists-conclude-nonhuman-animals-are-conscious-beings


However, despite my jettisoning of beef and pork years ago, I am moving slowly into vegetarianism this time around (compared to 1968), and don't plan on trying to achieve a vegan diet in my life time.

For the past decade or so, I have been a fishetarian, and I hope to become a lacto-vegetarian with in several years.

I am opposed to animal suffering. But I do need to emphasize, again, I am not fundamentalistic or rigid about this ethical choice/moral outlook toward food and human beings.

I certainly don't think that some animals are more important than some humans like plant biologist Peter Singer's incredible claim.

Also, while I personally oppose the eating of intelligent sentient "face" creatures as food, especially cattle and pigs, I don’t protest, like PETA leaders do, nor do I lecture others about their own eating habits and choices.

If someone asks, I share my own journey.

While I don't eat ham or beef, when I am with relatives and they only serve fowl food, so as not to offend, I either pile my plate high with potatoes and veggies or I take a small portion of fowl food.

I do this rather rather than play huge "Waldo" at the dining table and hurt my host's feelings.

But on my own, I drink non-fat milk for protein, and eat cheese vegetarian dishes, and various types of seafood, including clam chowder, crab, and fish, especially Alaskan salmon.

Currently, I am working on eliminating bird fetus (eggs) from my diet.

My personal goal is to finally reach the ethical life where I eat only non-face food, where I don’t eat any conscious sentient creature, not even fowl or gill meals, none at all.



So far moving toward the ideal, is going well.

Considering my age (almost 70), and despite my ill health, I'm doing pretty good. I’ve not lost 50 pounds this time.

And I am probably much healthier than I would be if I still ate beef and pork.

At least my doctor always smiles and congratulates me for not eating red meat. (She says, ‘Now, Daniel, if I could just get you to stop eating those little white doughnuts in the middle of the night because of your insomnia.’)




My general hope is that eventually all humans will move to a harmless/no-harm/no-face food life.


Another point for moving toward non-meat products is that generally non-meat sustenance is better for all humanity and for the environment. Check out some of the various sources on the Internet or the library on that.

What is your view of eating?

What is your favorite food?

Why?

Do you think all humans ought to move toward face-less, no-harm food?

If not, why not?

If so, which do you support vegetarianism or veganism?


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox


For readers interested in my many-post book I am writing, here's the low-up;-):

*The Nature of Reality

Part #1: Monads, Quarks..."I," and God

Part #2: Ultimate Becoming, Divine Process

Point #1: Bottom Up
Subpoint A: Choices
Subpoint B: Ethics and Human Rights
Subpoint C: Creativity and the Openness of the Future
Subpoint D: Inherent Worth of Every Human Being
Subpoint E. Altruism and Non-violence (Attacked…)
Subpoint F: Worth of All Other Sentient Creatures
Fa: Eat Food Without a Face

Point #2: Live Authentically and Creatively
--

*"From 1956 through 1965, the license plate carried the motto, "The Beef State," but it was never an official state name..."

"Nebraskans have been blessed (or cursed) with various nicknames including "Bug Eaters," "Tree Planters," and "Cornhuskers." Nebraska has had two official state names: "The Tree Planter State" (1895), and "The Cornhusker State" (1945-present).

Apparently the earliest nickname applied to Nebraska residents was "Squatters," according to a July 21, 1860, article in the Omaha Weekly Nebraskian. ...many early Nebraska settlers moved onto their claims before the land had been surveyed..other state nicknames of that era were arguably worse...South Carolina Weasels, the Illinois Suckers, the Alabama Lizards, the Georgia Buzzards, the Missouri Pukes, or the Mississippi Tadpoles...'

By the later years of the nineteenth century, "Bug Eaters" had replaced "Squatters" as the Nebraska nickname...probably originated during the grasshopper invasions of the 1870s."
http://www.nebraskahistory.org/publish/publicat/timeline/nicknames_nebraska_2.htm

Monday, September 12, 2016

Guest Post: OUT OF THE SHADOWS by Joe Payne

Read this powerful, lucid article by Joe Payne on the present tragic lives of young teens caught in prostitution and human trafficking...

But, even more importantly, about caring humans
who are helping them escape to new life:



OUT OF THE SHADOWS:

As human trafficking becomes more visible on the Central Coast, authorities are collaborating
in an unprecedented way to prosecute abusers, help victims, and end the cycle.

By Joe Payne
Photo by Jayson Mellom
Illustration by Alex Zuniga

May 18, 2016, marked a grim milestone in Santa Barbara County, as a Santa Maria jury found Humberto Carranza and Cameron Jones guilty of several counts of trafficking of a minor for sex....

Contact Arts Editor Joe Payne at jpayne@santamariasun.com.
Copyright © Santa Maria Sun
http://www.santamariasun.com/cover/15091/out-of-the-shadows-as-human-trafficking-becomes-more-visible-on-the-central-coast-authorities-are-collaborating-in-an-unprecedented-way-to-prosecute-abusers-help-victims-and-end-the-cycle/
--

RISE UP!

Support law enforcement, behavioral wellness helpers, and writers such as Joe Payne who are standing up against the darkness of injustice, abuse, human trafficking, and prostitution.

Work for human rights,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, September 10, 2016

"so many creeds, so many deniers" while...


I am so very tired of the negaters,
naysayers, and nihilisters
of the Christian, Islamister,

and Hindu sects
and various natured
atheist sorts!

See you
never,
alligator.



Too many credos, too many deniers
dogmas galore, secular claimed tenets
and decreed horrors...










Instead, here's a good word
from Ella, the poet:

"So many gods, so many creeds,
so many paths that
wind
and
wind


while just the art of being kind
is all
the sad world
needs."


--Ella Wheeler Wilcox
(not related, except in thought)





In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, September 9, 2016

Call and Oppose the 1.5 Billion Arms Sale

Vital Request from Friends Committee on National Legislation:


FCNL and other organizations are supporting a national call-in day to generate cosponsors for a bipartisan initiative against selling 1.5 billion dollars' worth of arms to Saudi Arabia.

"Will you call your senators and urge them to block the arms sale to Saudi Arabia?

...There hasn’t been much attention to this massive bomb sale the Obama administration has planned, even though the announcement comes in the midst of news
of the Saudi-led coalition
bombing another school,
and a fourth
Doctors Without Borders
hospital in Yemen.


"While Saudi Arabia is dropping the bombs, the U.S. is often supplying the bombs and providing other support for the war.

As Senator Chris Murphy pointed out,
“there’s an American imprint on every civilian life lost in Yemen.”
--

QUOTE FROM REP. LIEU against this arms sell to Saudi Arabia:
“The actions of the Saudi-led Coalition in Yemen are as reprehensible as they are illegal."


"The multiple, repeated airstrikes on civilians look like war crimes. Hospitals, schools, and wedding parties are not legitimate military targets.

Saudi Arabia is either intentionally targeting civilians or deliberately indifferent in executing its military operations – either case flies in the face of long-standing international standards of conduct.

The United States of America should never support such atrocities in any way. They are not only immoral and unlawful, but they seriously harm our national security and moral standing around the world.”
--

"A hospital associated with Doctors Without Borders.
A school.
A potato chip factory.
Under international law, those facilities in Yemen are not legitimate military targets.
Yet all were bombed in recent days by warplanes
belonging to a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, killing more than 40 civilians."

"The United States is complicit in this carnage."

"It has enabled the coalition in many ways, including selling arms to the Saudis...Congress should put the arms sales on hold and President Obama should quietly inform Riyadh that the United States will withdraw crucial assistance if the Saudis do not stop targeting civilians and agree to negotiate peace."

"In all, the war has killed more than 6,500 people, displaced more than 2.5 million others and pushed one of the world’s poorest countries from deprivation to devastation. A recent United Nations report blamed the coalition for 60 percent of the deaths and injuries to children last year."

"Human rights groups and the United Nations have suggested that war crimes may have been committed."
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/17/opinion/stop-saudi-arms-sales-until-carnage-in-yemen-ends.html?
--


"PLEASE CALL the Capitol Switchboard at 1-855-86-NO WAR (1-855-686-6927) to urge your senators
...to block bombs to Saudi Arabia. Here are some talking points to help you make your call:

Hello, my name is [NAME] and I’m a voting constituent calling from [CITY, STATE].
I’m calling to urge the senator to join the bipartisan Murphy-Paul bill to block the $1.15 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi’s war in Yemen is a humanitarian catastrophe and the U.S. shouldn’t be rewarding the killing of civilians by sending more bombs.

Once you're done with your call, make sure to follow up with a message to your senators and representative urging them to block the deal.

Thanks for all you do for peace,

Kate Gould
Legislative Representative
Middle East Policy

For more background on the U.S. supported Saudi-led war in Yemen, see the New York Times editorial calling on Congress to block the arms deal. You can also check out the bipartisan House letter that FCNL supported, which calls on President Obama to delay the arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

You can also join a webinar on the war in Yemen hosted on Mon Sept 12 featuring Yemeni journalist Nawal al-Maghafi and our partners at Oxfam, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam and Win Without War."
--



Endorsed by:
"Oxfam, Amnesty International USA, International Christian Concern, Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers), Just Foreign Policy, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, Yemen Peace Project, Human Rights Watch,
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Physicians for Human Rights, Christian Solidarity Worldwide – UK, In Defense of Christians, Jubilee Campaign USA, The Hudson Institute Center for Religious Freedom, International Christian Concern"


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

9/11, A Last, Again

News: This is the 15th anniversary of the slaughter
of over 3,000 humans at the World Trade Center.

Yet tragically now the U.S. is planning to sell 1.5 billion dollars' worth of weapons to an Islamic government which is bombing, killing many civilians, and denies its citizens basic human rights, a country where you can be executed for disagreeing with Islam!

Further, we continue to supply millions of dollars to jihadists involved in the slaughter in Syria.

WHY?!

Multiply the 3,000 9/11 deaths to about over 300,000 deaths, (probably about 413,000 deaths) in Syria and millions wounded.

Why are we involved in this slaughter being conducted by various contrary groups of Muslims against each other?


A Last

Alas, grieving sorrow, tribulating
Don’t ask from where—
Yes, Shiloh; down to Sheol, after Shoah

Welted eyes, shadowed tears,
Wind-cuffed face with ‘fulled’ lashings

Of more less and less,
Wiping away
With wept wetness
In a downward swirling wet sweep,
The torn sky in
A multiple series of weeping losses,

Stark--
Abyssed fall of all welling reveries
In the wreck--aging.

How long, how many tomorrow’s tomorrow
This a las—ting loss lostness?

Selah



--Daniel Wilcox

First pub. in The New Verse News
in different form

Monday, September 5, 2016

Evaluating Morality without Religion




But look at how strange the list is considering that it was posted by nontheists this week on the Internet.

Many theists agree with all of these points, especially Friendly-oriented ones. Indeed, most of these points are why they are theists!

Quakers live in the Light with a very similar list.

#1 REASON, not superstition:
Great theistic scientists such Arthur Eddington, English astronomer, astrophysicist, philosopher, and mathematician would very strongly agree and support this phrase brainer!

For REASON is the CenterPoint of the Enlightenment and is the basis of science.

I strongly agree, am reason-centered, and hate superstition in all its forms.

If so many theists support "REASON, not superstition," what does this then have to do with atheism?!

The view that reason is reliable, that it qualifies as the best way for all humans to function would seem to show that it aligns with reality.

Thus it is probably inherent in reality, as much as math. It isn't a human construct, isn't an accident, and isn't a subjective cultural standard.

If so, that is a deep theistic outlook, not an atheistic one.

After all, reason was a center-post of great leaders such as Voltaire, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, etc.

All of them were committed to belief and trust in the God of reason, that reason is the way for humans to make decisions and to probe life, the cosmos, and all of reality.

As the Enlightenment's declarations emphasized, they based their views of justice, human rights, and truth on reality's God.


Arthur Eddington put it this way:
“The mind-stuff of the world is, of course, something more general than our individual conscious minds.... The mind-stuff is not spread in space and time; these are part of the cyclic scheme ultimately derived out of it.... It is necessary to keep reminding ourselves that all knowledge of our environment from which the world of physics is constructed, has entered in the form of messages transmitted along the nerves to the seat of consciousness...."

"Consciousness is not sharply defined, but fades into subconsciousness; and beyond that we must postulate something indefinite but yet continuous with our mental nature.... It is difficult for the matter-of-fact physicist to accept the view that the substratum of everything is of mental character. But no one can deny that mind is the first and most direct thing in our experience, and all else is remote inference."
— Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World, 276-81.

#2 ETHICS, not dogma:
The beginning of the Friends was ethically directed, not dogmatic or doctrinal; in fact the leaders strongly opposed religious dogma.

When Friends encountered injustice, immoral actions, and abuse, many of them stood up against such unethical behavior, no matter how much the perpetrators of the actions justified by them by religious or atheistic dogma.

And millions of ethical social activists of other worldviews have done so as well.

#3 RESPECT, not worship:
This is a more difficult statement to deal with because of the semantic problems. Friends and many other searchers for truth, justice, human rights, equality, reconciliation, peace would support the importance of RESPECT.

But here’s the conundrum: Quakers and many other theists base their support for respect in WORSHIP!

What so many of us mean by the term, “worship,” is probably--most likely--NOT
what the secularist meant by the term.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, worship means:
"the act of showing respect and love..."


Friends mean communion,
communication,
wonder,
transcendence,
spiritual intimacy...




The original writer of "...not worship" wasn't opposing "the act of showing respect and love...," nor was he against communication, intimacy, or wonder.

Rather, based on #1's statement, it seems likely that he does show a lot of respect, even love, for REASON and other important humanistic values.

It's the second part and secondary definitions of "worship" that secularists reject--
that of "...for a god, especially by praying with other people who believe in the same god... reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power.."
and
"...a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual."

Yes, nontheists think “worship” is a very negative term meaning:
delusion,
harmful, mean servile scraping,
and terrified fear of the dogmatic god of hellfire who is obsessed with his own glory.

Their rejection of "worship," is the rejection of doctrinal, creedal Christian, Muslim, and Hindu dogma; rejection of the Augustinian/Reformed/Sunni/Shia/Hindu God who is fixated on his own self.

They reject the divinity that, to quote Mahatma Gandhi, treats humans as “toys.” The same god who considers humankind as worthless, that every human infant is "in essence, evil" at conception, etc.

If that is the definition of “worship,” then we certainly are opposed to worship, too.

So were Enlightenment figures including Thomas Jefferson.


Maybe, we ought to abandon the word itself, because like other overused empty-bucket words--
ones which are used, abused, and misunderstood such as god, good, love, etc.—-
“worship” confuses rather than enlightens.



#4 COURAGE, not fear:
This would seem to be a universal agreed upon virtue by nearly all humans, though acting in courage, not fear, is entirely more difficult than supporting the action.

#5 FACT, not myth:
Again, this is another case of slimy semantics;-) Most people would agree if one means the common everyday definitions.

But again, applying this is more difficult for most people than one would ever imagine. Just look at the current presidential candidate campaign where most Americans are majoring in “myths,” advocating all sorts of ad hominem, distortions, plain propaganda, slander, and demeaning, untrue stories.

Much of the media is full of some of the most ridiculously superstitious, irrational, and unfactual information. And these "myth" spews come from many secular as well as religious leaders.

#6 MORALITY, not religion.
Ditto for what I explained in the numbers above.

It is very important to emphasize this separation, this rejection. Nearly always in the past, and everywhere now, religion is the source, cause, and inflictor of countless immoral attitudes, outlooks, laws, rituals, behaviors, and actions.

The most baffling aspect of this statement though is that many of the nontheists who claim to support “morality” actually think that no real ethics exist, that ethics are whatever humans choose them to be.

For instance, one nontheist leader stated, "There are no universal moral values."

Another, there is "no moral responsibility" not even for murdering and raping!

Instead, what many secularists mean by the term “morality” is only
“subjective preference,”
“like/dislike,”
“social construct,”
"cultural standards,"
and so forth.

They claim being opposed to slavery or rape or dishonesty, etc. is only similar to disliking a color such as blue or disliking chocolate!


According to them, morality is only an "opinion."

Other nontheists state that morality is a purposeless adaption of evolution, a survival mechanism.

From an interview with the brilliant biologist Richard Dawkins:

RD: My value judgment itself could come from my evolutionary past.

JB: So therefore it’s just as random in a sense as any product of evolution.

RD: You could say that, it doesn’t in any case, nothing about it makes it more probable that there is anything supernatural.

JB: Ultimately, your belief that rape is wrong is as arbitrary as the fact that we’ve evolved five fingers rather than six.

RD: You could say that, yeah.
--

Philosopher of Science professor Michael Ruse, makes similar statements:

“Morality is a biological adaptation, no less than are hands and feet and teeth … Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction.”
-
American historian of science William Provine, professor of the history of science at Cornell University:

“Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us, loud and clear, and I must say that these are basically Darwin’s views: there are...no purposive forces of any kind...
no ultimate foundation for ethics,
no ultimate meaning in life,
and no free will for humans either..."
--

Evolutionist Craig Palmer:
"That there is obviously some evolutionary basis to rape just like there is some evolutionary basis to all aspects of living things.

In the book we narrow it down to two plausible specific evolutionary reasons for why we are a species in which rape occurs. One is just a by-product of evolved differences between the sexualities of males and females.

Or, two, rape might be an adaptation. There might have been selection favouring males who raped under some circumstances in the past. And therefore there might be some aspects of male brains designed specifically to rape under some conditions.

An evolutionary reason is also known as the ultimate level of explanation. It’s really the question of why are we the way we are?
And the evolutionary answer is what selective forces favoured those traits in hundreds or thousands of past generations that we eventually end up with today.
A Natural History Of Rape: Biological Bases Of Sexual Coercion by Craig Palmer and Randy Thornhill, MIT Press
--

Thankfully, Palmer disagrees with evolution's adaption and states that he is strongly opposed to rape, that such a human action is immoral, but he does think that raping is a result of natural selection.

Thus it is uncertain and confusing how so very many secularists yet claim that human ethics result from evolution.

If both raping versus non-raping, slavery versus abolition, and all other actions of humans are ONLY the result of natural selection, how can anyone think that morality exists (except as one adaption of evolution)?

How could we humans come to an understanding as to which evolutionary adaptions are better than the other contrary ones?

Lastly, on a related topic, it would appear that when Palmer says "there is some evolutionary basis to all aspects of living things" he also means that the human fixation for "religion" is a result of natural selection, too!


#7 CLARITY, not delusion:
See above.

#8 GOOD, not god:
What?! How can there possibly be any good without god?

Again, everyone needs to define the terms. If one means the god of religion, then, for sure, good can exist without god.

Indeed, religion often opposes the good as in the case of Segregation in the United States and in the case of Apartheid in South Africa. And, currently, in the U.S. and many other countries throughout the world, religion supports inequality, injustice, and sexism.

One of the center-points of the Enlightenment is that religion opposes the GOOD.


But if one means by “not god” that reality—all of existence is completely meaningless, purposeless, then “good” in the sense of objective, true, and real can’t exist.

If there is no objective, true, and real “good,” then how could we humans do “good”?

That would be like saying there is NO COLOR, but please paint a drawing in red, since it is the best color!

Huh?

#9 SKEPTICISM, not cynicism:
This is an extremely important value to hold. Merriam-Webster Dictionary--skeptic: “a person who questions or doubts…”

Such an attitude/behavior is the very first step to learning.

Without questioning, no learning is possible, only memorization and brain-washing.


And, who, except very negative, dysfunctional, or even nihilistic individuals wants to be a cynic?

Yes, I know there are actually a number of famous cynics,
but cynicism doesn’t bring hope,
doesn't rescue those who are suffering,
doesn't seek to free prisoners of conscience...

M-W-D- cynic: “a person who has negative opinions about other people...especially a person who believes that people are selfish, a faultfinding captious critic.

#10 RATIONALITY, not ideology:
Many a hand-clap to that:-) So many humans, even ones who manage to understand and reject superstition, religion, and illusion often yet get caught in the wiles of ideologies.

History is strewn with millions of corpses and devastated landscapes which show that this is all too true.

Every individual first needs to use his/her reason within to live rationally before trying to fix the mental attitudes/structures, behaviors, and wrong actions of others.

GREAT TO-DO LIST for humanity, for all of us humans!

I would add a few more essentials such as:

#11 EQUALITY, not sexism, racism, nationalism

#12 COMPASSION, not survival, natural selection,

#13 INCLUSION, not anti-immigration, prejudice,

#14: NONVIOLENT PEACEMAKING, not war,

#15 NO-HARM FOOD, not meat-eating,

#16 WONDER, not materialism

#17 HOPE, not negativity



In every moment, choose to live closer to these essential center-points.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Quaker Humor #11: A New Atheist and an Ol' Quaker


A New Atheist blogger figured he had the ol’ Quaker by the goat-ee, hook, line, and sinker—
“Listen, you stupid theists are so superstitious, believing in ghosts, unicorns, the Easter bunny, and God.”


The Quaker put down his rod and reel, patted his black lab dog scrunched up against his boots, glanced down in the swirling ocean water under the pier, and then said, grinning,
“You mean like, Casper, where ‘ghost’ thou?”

“Who’s Casper?”

“Showing your age, er..guess I should say my age. Never mind, I was kidding.
I grew up in plenty of corn, back in the Midwest; Nebraska Cornhuskers! And lots of rabbits.
But we didn’t believe in unicorns, ghosts, and so on.
We didn't sow that sort of seed."

The ol' Quaker now looked intently with intensity into the Atheist's gaze.
"We seek the Seed of God, the Light that lighteth every human being. Nothing about superstition or tooth fairies.
Besides, I studied anthropology for two years at university and am an avid reader of paleontology.”

“Seed?! What are you talking about? Com’on, we know you theists believe there is a powerful invisible old man up in the sky who burns people.”

"You mean, like the election slogan about Sanders, 'Feel the Bern--'"

"Get serious! Bernie Sanders is a fine political candidate, and that was a terrible word play.

“I agree. I did vote for Sanders though; he has a very ethical platform. I'm surprised you are for him since Bernie very clearly stated he isn't an Atheist."


"You're avoiding my point."

The old Friendly fisherman got serious again."But as for the G-O-D word, yes, I think ultimate reality
is beyond what we finite humans can perceive and test.
Existence is more complicated than only matter and energy."



"Nothing exists but matter and energy!" The Atheist fumed; these theists were so irritating.

The old Quaker rubbed his dog's ears and then looked back up. "'Thee ist' too certain it seems about reality, about what you don't believe. How can you be so certain of the nature of reality?
Besides, we Friends don’t think there is any invisible man--or woman--up in the sky. Nothing like that."

There was a splash below; maybe a large cod, not God.

The Friend glanced back down into the ocean, then back to the man next to him. "Dear Atheist, there's a lot under the surface of things.
"We think that the Light, reason, math, ethics, human rights,
and aesthetics are all real and true, are inherent in reality.

"You sound like you believe ethics are objective and transcendent?"

"Yes, that's right--human rights, I might add."

The Atheist turned, very frustrated, and walked away, back down the pier.

The ol' Quaker picked up his fishing pole and grinned, and told his black lab, "Mostly what he needs is a little light-heartedness."

His dog wagged his tail.

Later when the fisherman got home with some fish 'cod,' he told his wife about the conversation.

She said, "Please stop talking nonstop;
come over and hold that other end of this fabric I'm sewing on."

"Oh, there's 'so,' again. He chuckled.

"What did you say, Darlin'?"

"Cut up and quilt."

Quaker Quilts: Mary Jane Clevenger
Descendant Barbara Harner Suhay with Mary Jane's quilt.
Photograph by Mary Holton Robare.






--




A bright lad came home from school and asked his dad, "What's the difference between our cat and a comma?"

His father grinned and said, "I don't know."

"The first has claws at the end of its paws, the latter has a pause at the end of its clause."






--





The Israeli student asked the girl from Ramallah Friends School,
"How often does your chemistry teacher tell science jokes?"

"Oh, periodically."
--





In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, September 2, 2016

Great Romantic Love Songs for Friday Night





Glass

Trying to live and love,
With a heart that can't be broken,
Is like trying to see the light with eyes that can't be opened.
Yeah, we both carry baggage,
We picked up on our way, so if you love me do it gently,
And I will do the same.

We may shine, we may shatter,
We may be picking up the pieces here on after,
We are fragile, we are human,
We are shaped by the light we let through us,
We break fast, cause we are glass.
Cause we are glass.

I'll let you look inside me, through the stains and through the cracks,
And in the darkness of this moment,
You see the good and bad.
But try not to judge me, 'cause we've walked down different paths,
But it brought us here together, so I won't take that back.

We may shine, we may shatter,
We may be picking up the pieces here on after,
We are fragile, we are human,
We are shaped by the light we let through us,
We break fast, cause we are glass.

We might be oil and water, this could be a big mistake,
We might burn like gasoline and fire,
It's a chance we'll have to take.

We may shine, we may shatter,
We may be picking up the pieces here on after,
We are fragile, we are human,
And we are shaped by the light we let through us,
We break fast, cause we are glass.
We are glass.

Written by Jon Nite, Ross Copperman
Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Such a beautiful, insightful song with great lyrics,
beautiful vocals, and fine instrumentation.

A great song for Friday night sharing.

In the Light of Romantic Love,

Daniel Wilcox