08-06-06 9:09  •  Zeus vs. Jesus

Marvin: I don't see how people can say that Jesus is not the savior or compare Him to Zeus. One reason we take Zeus to be a mythological figure is that no one ever met him, or claimed to. That's not the case with Jesus. Lots of people met him, saw him, heard him talk. Several died for him.

With Zeus there is nothing for a historian to evaluate. But with Jesus you have the reign of Tiberius, with Herod Antipas lording it over the Jews and Pontius Pilate as procurato. To think this was devised like a myth about Zeus is to misunderstand both the Chrustian faith AND the Greek myths.

There are no correlating documents which speak of Jesus or even many of the events which supposedly happened and which one might suppose would be of note to people of the day. The earliest mention of any one named "Jesus" is now known to have had the majority of the text forged by later xtians. The actual text, which they have unearthed a copy of, just barely mentions the name "Jesus" without anything special being noted about the person. In other words, it could have been anyone since "Jesus" is hardly a unique name - and in any case that document is still well after the events supposedly took place.

Further there are problems with the historicity of the major biblical stories from the birth to the tomb.

You might as well claim "Ivanhoe" is real because it mentions Richard the Lionhearted.

Further, there are a cluster of religions which all share very similar myths in that area and it is well known that the xtians stole as liberally as they persecuted to subsume any competing faith.

In fact if there is any sure cure for xtianity it is a close and careful study of its history which is about as evil as any group in history.

Marvin: You're ignoring the New Testament. You may not believe it but you can't seriously deny that it exists, dates to the first century, and mentions Jesus. We know more about Jesus than we do about Tiberius, who was emperor at the time.

The new testament is actually just Mark, rehashed 4 times, and it excludes the other gospels which conflict with it.

It's also a text kept by religious fanatics about their "god," hardly a reliable source.

Also the earliest date *attributed* to even the earliest texts is well past JC's supposed time and they were supposedly written by Saul, a noted enemy of the church and persecuter of xtians who never knew JC and managed to wrest control of the church from Peter and change it completely in a way JC would hardly have approved of. Again, hardly a reliable source.

So ignoring the new testiment is the only reasonable thing to do given the notable errors, questionable authenticity, and notable tendency of xtians to lie in the name of god.

The fact is there is no verifiable information about JC which shows he ever existed. Further the writings in the new testament, which can't even get the story straight and lay the BS on thicker as time goes on from Mark to John, just are not pursuasive to any one with a lick of objectivity.

08-05-06 11:04  •  Israel

Adam: Can you clarify your position? Usman was saying that anyone who supports Israel [in their bombing of Lebanon] is wretched, greedy and a blood-thirsty monster. Well, 85% of American Jews support Israel. Do you think that 85% of Jews in America are wretched and greedy? Do you feel that 85% of American Jews are blood-thirsty monsters?

What Israel is currently doing is both morally 100% wrong and it is strategically a serious error. Any one who supports them is equally wrong and I don't care what their religion or ethnicity is. The Lebanese are entirely justified in taking any action necessary to defend their country from this outrageous, unjustified and illegal aggression.

Perfectly clear?

Adam: Sorry, I was actually refering to the problems of the Jews defending themselves from the Palestinians.

Not what's going on in Lebanon right now.

What's going on in Lebanon right now is part and parcel to the problems between the Palestinians and the Jews and it is no different than what they have been doing since before I was a kid in the 60's.

“Defending yourself” is not using your superior military to attack innocent civilians and destroy weak neighboring nations nor is it using your secret service to do extra-judicial assassinations. It is not using your judiciary to illegitimately confiscate peoples homes and businesses or reduce them to second-class citizens.

Israel is reaping what they have sown, and they are sowing a new generation of hatred to reap for the next twenty years.

Indiscriminant bombing of civilians and particularly children...indiscriminant and unprovoked attacks on peaceful nations and against non-military targets like refugee convoys, infrastructure, hospitals, TV stations, UN relief convoys, etc.; all of that makes it plain that Israel is a terrorist nation.


Adam: There is no question that some of what Israel is doing is wrong.

"Some" is the incorrect modifier. The more honest yet still "pro israeli" modifier would be "most."

However in this particular case I would be extremely hard pressed to say what redeeming features actually exist.

Adam: That doesn't change Israel's right to exist.

Only a fool could believe that Lebonon was challenging Israel's "right to exist."

No country has a "right to exist" beyond the good it does for all people.

Countries are just the collective imaginings of a group of people.
But the dream can be good or bad and right now Israel's dream is vile.
They commit atrosities far worse than anything done to them.
They are vilified by their brothers and sisters.
No where can they feel safe.

People have forgotten that this is what you get when you let the religious fanatics and fascists seize control, and so now we dream of their hell for a while.

Adam: The U.S. was founded by conquest, you know. If you're going to condemn them, make sure that you do it without bias and condemn them all.

I do. I clearly condemn ay one who turns to bloodshed in anything short of the most absolutely dire circumstances.

If you don't condemn Isreal, I also condemn you. Are we clear?

You cannot equivocate out of this one. Israel is clearly beyond the pale and out of control, just as we are in Iraq.

It doesn't matter that the muslims are idiots to have given us excuses.

As "civilized" nations we're supposed to use courts and police to control and redress such matters. By using unilateral military force and striking first, we are just powerful terrorists instead of weak ones.

You want me to condemmn Usman. Usman wants me to condemn you.

You want to earn my respect?

Stop inventing reasons to hate each other.

You both claim to be atheists, why are you perpetuating this religious hatred against a person who has done nothing except be born in a tradition which your tradition, which you have renounced, hates?

Why are you defending those fanatic assholes who have done outragous and barbaric acts in the name of a faith you do not believe?

Don't you know that as an atheist you are next on their chopping block? Usman in particular is committing a crime punishable by death in most muslim countries.

Israel et al are already condemmned to exist in the living hell they have created for themselves.

Stop joining them.

08-05-06 6:04  •  Removing the Blocks to Love

Ashleigh: Dear Swarm,
You seem to understand so much about relationships. I need to know, how do I remove the blocks to love and pleasure?

I have met an amazing man. I fell in love almost immediatly.


Ashleigh: It is great, but it's hard too. I have been very hurt in the past from people who said they loved me and then betrayed me.

This is the nature of life and love. I know it hurts, but you survived and still can dare to love. You are tough enough to risk your heart and make it through betrayal.

That is all any one can ask for.

Ashleigh: I don't know how to get over my fear of being abondoned and betrayed.

Don't worry about getting over it. Love him as you are now. A good man is going to be around and love you for who you are now. He will help you become who you can as your partner. You don't have to figure it all out now or become anything more than who you are.

Another betrayer will just betray you and it is far, far better to get that out in the open early when it is easier to drop him and get on with your life.

Be open, forthright and honest about your feelings and it will all resolve itself as the relationship unfolds and you learn who each of you are.

Fear is just part of the game. To love greatly is to risk greatly, but you have already been knocked down and know that you can take one on the chin and get back up. Trust your heart here and love with all your being, even your fear.

Here is a trick you can practice to help you focus.

Just sit and let yourself focus on something neutral, like your breathing.
Your thoughts and emotions will soon try to distract you.
Notice the distraction as soon as you do for what it is: a distraction.
Go back to what you were doing.
Practice about 5 min every day so it becomes a habit.

There is no right or wrong here. Its just exactly what I just outlined.

It doesn't remove fear (or whatever); fear is a part of one's total being.
But it does keep it from being a distraction when you are busy loving.

The key to giving your full self is being comfortable with your darkness and your light, being able to bring it all into focus and then holding that focus while you share it with another.

That sounds difficult, but it is actually easy. What is hard is hiding parts like fear while trying to be open.

Best wishes on your love.

08-03-06 3:21  •  Blow the Stop Sign?

Jeff: Imagine you're driving down a highway in Nebraska, and can see for miles in every direction, and there's not another car or person in sight. You come to a 4-way intersection with a stop sign. Should you stop, even though no one is there? Should you break the law even if the law doesn't function in the situation as intended? I say you should drive through the stop sign.

Self-government is a complicated process. But without awareness of our primary responses -- if the controls jump in so quickly and automatically that we don't even remember why we have them -- then we are doomed to always stop at the stop sign even when no one's coming. Don't you agree?

I don't run that sort of stop sign for the very same reason I always buckle up.

Humans are not designed to move faster than about 10 miles an hour or to pay attention for more than about 5 minutes at a stretch.

I've been at abandoned stop signs before, and been wrong about how abandoned they were. I've been in unexpected, unplanned, unforseeable accidents where a seatbelt made the difference.

If you make your freedom tied to violating necessary habits of safety, the freedom you enjoy will be maiming and death. It is sad but true that inertia and solid objects don't care about your social statements. This a case of necessary regulation by the government, though certain government agencies certainly abuse the system for nefarious purposes.

Jeff: Why let the government control us? We should consider control from the firm footing of self-awareness. Nothing should be beyond consideration. I feel we need to familiarize ourselves with our basic animal natures.

Drive down any road and you will see that the "basic animal nature" around roads is to wind up roadkill.

I find your position just as bound to mindless legalism by reflexively breaking the law as those who reflexively obey it.

Jeff: Boy are you combative! Instead of recognizing what I was trying to get at, you nitpick. In my analogy, which, by the way, was hypothetical, you could CERTAINLY tell that no one was around.

I think you are underestimating my grasp of what you said and thereby completely missing my point.

I'm fully aware that you are presenting a hypothetical situation cooked to make your point; however we don't drive in a hypothetical world. You imply that certain knowledge is available about crossing traffic, but I live in the country and I've lived in the city and the suburbs. There is never a place and time where you have certain knowledge approaching an intersection. There are only intersections where you think you have certain knowledge and my personal experience is that sometimes for completely unforseen reasons, you are wrong about that certainty.

Stopping forces you to double-check, and when my life and the lives of others are at stake, double-checking makes a whole lot of sense to me.

Jeff: I'm talking about attachment to self-government principles that serve no purpose and protect no one, and you agree with me I bet, if you'd stop your damn posturing.

I don't agree and it is not a matter of principles that serve no purpose and protect no one.

I'm guessing you've never handled much dangerous stuff. Cars are just like weapons, explosives, rock climbing, parachuting or anything else which is extremely dangerous. You go through the safety motions ALWAYS because 1) that is how you ingrain them into your thick skull and 2) you never know when an accident is going to happen. If you knew it was going to happen, you'd do something to prevent it.

That stop at an empty street is to practice for that one time you only thought it was empty. It gives you essential practice and a chance to double-check.

What you have forgotten in your anti-government haste is that driving a car is the most dangerous thing you do. About as many people die in car accidents each year, that's each and every year, as died in all of Vietnam.

Always buckle up. Always stop. Work at getting safer because it has nothing to do with the government and everything to do with drilling safety into your head so you make it to the other side of your trip alive.

There is no reason why you should ever be in such a hurry or such an anti-establishment furor that you blow a stop sign like that. It's a bad habit and it may well get you killed.

Jeff: You said, "Stopping forces you to double check," but...all the time? How about situational awareness in the moment, evaluating the relevance of applying a stopping force?

All the time is the only way to make it a good habit, so that you do it when you don't think you need to but actually do.

I'm 100% serious about this.

Situational awareness is great at 4 miles an hour with the inertia of a human body, and yet consider how often you bump into people and stuff. Evaluating the relevance of stopping is great only when you have as long as you need to.

Humans were never intended to drive cars and they suck at it. Poor reflexes (up to 3/10s of a second to actually do something), poor attention and focus, fragile, and with this stupid super-conscious which has to pretend it's always in charge but can't even think about more than one thing at a time.

The parts of the brain that make all the real decisions driving are at the level we call habits. That's one of the reasons the young die so much behind the wheel: lack of good driving habits. Unfortunately there is only one way to get good habits and that is to practice them all the time, especially when you think you don't need them.

The legislation of personal choices sucks. The legislation to prohibit anything enjoyable sucks. However, the legislation of minimum levels of public safety is a necessary function in a society. Developing good safety habits is a worthwhile pursuit. Safety is not the place to be second judging yourself all the time, because you don't have that luxury when the shit is hitting the fan.

Jeff: I wasn't talking about assuming the rebel pose and blasting through the stop sign BECAUSE it was illegal. I was talking about going through it because the law was irrelevant.

Just because you don't understand its immediate relevance, that doesn't mean it actually is irrelevant.

If you were just going to kill yourself it's really none of my business, but what you suggest will take out another driver and maybe their family. That is stepping over the line.

Here is a similar situation. My son and I were at a store and looking at some pellet guns. I always drill it into him you don't point guns at people. Even with toy guns he has to get permission first from a person before shooting them.

Without even thinking about it he had the gun pointed in a safe direction when he pulled the trigger and found some joker had loaded it, in the box. The only damage was he shot out a light fixture which made a very satifactory explosion and splattered glass every where.

It worked because it was a habit and we practiced on silly toy guns that obviously couldn't hurt any one.

The whole law aspect is a red herring. Safety has to be a habit and it is developed by consistant practice during the times you don't need it.

08-02-06 5:55  •  Suckiness

Shucks: I just thought I'd reinforce this. WE SUCK. Let's repent of our suckiness and be cool.

Repenting of suckiness is just more suckiness.

To be cool, just be cool.

Don't worry about past suckiness at all, it's not cool to be that concerned about your suckiness.

Just chill, relax, kick back.

Think like a cool cat and not like a hangtail dog.

Shucks: Damn, I keep digging myself in deeper. Not only do my remarks suck, but even my noting that they suck also sucks, and plus my regretting the suckiness of others and my past suckiness also sucks. Plus it would suck if I were defiant or apologetic. I am lost in a whirlpool of suckiness, and then even to say that sucks. Help!!!

Oh gosh, okay, I'm going to be okay, I've got this valium here, whew!!!

It's really just a perspective thing.

For example, taking valium because you need it sucks. Taking it because you want to get high is cool, but only if you don't get hooked, which sucks again.

Having a sucky past is only cool if it doesn't bother you and you don't make a big deal out of it.

You have to be cool, not your past, and part of cool is not what you do, or have done, but how you do it, or don't do it.

Right now you are still clinging to your suckiness and you seem to think you have to account for it somehow. Nobody cares about your suckiness except you, maybe an ex or two, and therapists you pay to care. Its OK to just let it go as an unnecessary distraction.

But if you really want to be cool about it, write an autobiography like Anne Marlowe of "How to stop Time: Herion from A to Z" fame. Turning sucky into cash and fame is cool.

07-31-06 4:04  •  Anarchy

Wilma: Loki said, "Let's use the government that Jesus recommended - anarchy." Well, I'm a Christian, and I can tell you that stuff about Anarchy is just plain crazy. People are such brutes, you've got to hold a whip to them to get them to work together. If there are no leaders, no people to guide decisions to fruition, nothing will ever be decided on a massive level.

You are mistaking leading with being in charge. The Rainbow Family, for example, has no one in charge. No one has dictatorial powers like a boss or a president. Everything has to be agreed upon.

Leaders are people who can find agreement and get things done. Without people in charge blocking them, the actual leaders can come to the front.

You only see the world in conflict, short-sighted..."sinful."

People actually can cooperate with each other, take a long view, and work for the common good. All without you threatening to beat them up.

Anarchy is how most people work their friendships. If your objections don't apply to you and your friends, they are spurious.

Wilma: But if there was no government, there would be no one to stop a company from dumping highly toxic substances into the water and in the air. Are you getting my point?

Your point is that you actually know nothing of anarchy, can't be bothered to consider the matter, and are going to throw out an example of our current govenment's failure out of fear something better might be found.

Wilma: Ha! You think Mad Max is a fantasy?

Mad Max is a fantasy. The reality is that anarchy is the default means of reaching agreement used by everyone, even you, and as Loki pointed out, it is the government recommended by your god.

Wilma: I don't know ...

So learn.

Jennings: Now you've got me thinking. Have you seen the movie "The Postman"? It's set in a post-apocalyptic US where the government has more or less collapsed for most of the country. It makes me wonder, how would an anarchistic "country" defend itself from a non-anarchist country?

This is a question not limited to anarchy. As is very apparent if you look in the world, there are no clear-cut answers. Lebanon, a democracy, could not defend itself. Iraq, totalitarian, could not defend itself. Vietnam, totalitarian, could defend itself.

The form of government is just a factor. The will of the people, the terrain and the capacity for fighting are all important.

I think the case of the Rainbow Family is a good example of how anarchy can be effective in the face of a superior foe. The gov has been trying to crush them for decades now and yet they still have their annual gathering on their terms. Babylon, while not anarchy, had an interesting approach. They simply surrendered so that the city wasn't damaged and then relied on their superior culture to assimilate whoever was put in charge. If I were in charge of Lebanon, I think this is the approach I might take.

The fact of the matter is that anarchy works best in small groups with high trust. It can, and has been applied to larger groups, but there is a lack of good information on how to do this effectively.

BTW, you should not confuse warlordism or apocalyptic senarios with anarchy. Anarchy flurishes best in peace and it doesn't imply luddites or a breakdown of society. It is not nihlism for example. As I've said, anarchy is how you interact with your friends.

Jennings: Well, one of the legitimate functions of government is to provide a means of defense for its people, and I have a hard time imagining how a large-scale anarchy could effectively provide for its own defense.

If there is one thing you generally don't have to worry about, it is people figuring out how to fight. Also, a system where the people are generally involved and approve of the government is notorious for being a poor choice to tangle with. The Swiss for example.

Jennings: "Just be conquered and hope you can assimilate your foes" seems like kind of a rough approach to defending oneself.

Babylon outlasted several empires.

The best defense is good trade relations and a strong international community.

Jennings: You said anarchy works best in small groups with high trust, but that's kind of like saying that anarchy is the perfect system for perfect people. Communism works well in small groups with high trust. So does democracy. And theocracy. Or any other system.

Democracy lowers the level of trust. Communism lowers it even more and theocracy is worst of all. There are few systems that work well to preserve a high level of trust, and anarchy is one of the best.

Jennings: Representative Republican Democracy seems to work well enough for the US, but it doesn't seem to be working so well in Iraq.

Any form of democracy is subject to difficulties with a population which is ignorant or which does not value democracy.

As for Iraq, democracy is not possible in an occupied nation.

Anarchy has its issues, but personally I think it is better to aim high even if you fall short.

Jennings: Thanks, Swarm. That's interesting food for thought. I'm not sure anarchy promotes a high level of trust so much as it depends upon a high level of trust. Then again, those may be the same thing.

They aren't the same thing, but they do directly influence each other.

You can take a group with a high level of trust and have them follow Robert's Rules of Order (standard palimentary proceedure) which is needed at very low level of trust and the group trust level will sink to that level.

Part of why bonding under hardship works is because it forces a high level of trust.

Now there are other factors invlolved, but you can definately influence the level of trust by starting high or starting low.

07-31-06 3:00  •  Disproving

Emily: I want to know, can't having faith in something beyond our own silly egoistic minds bring us along our evolutionary path? Why do we as a culture waste so much time and energy trying to disprove the existence of everything?

Good question. There are a couple reasons.

Conmen, particularly religious conmen require you to be unquestioning and gullible to work their magic. "My god is all powerful" only works until you seek real proof.

What is real cannot be disproved as it has its own existence equal to your existence. It just happens to be easier to try and disprove things, and then see what failed to be disproved, for finding out what is actual. This is the method science uses and it is extremely effective.

Basically belief which cannot be substantiated is by default not true and even claims which can be shown to be true must also be shown to be ordered in a valid way before any conclusions can be accepted.

So, "There are flern who are all powerful and undetectable" is by default false.

And "I have a rock, therefore you must believe everything I say," where "I have a rock" is actually true, is not acceptable because "you must believe everything I say" is not a valid conclusion.

It is necessary to understand what "having faith" means. If you have faith it means you are wholely ignorant about what you have faith in. Faith is just confident ignorance. Its only value is as an impetous to start finding out so you can know instead of mearly having faith.

Intuition is great, but it is not magic. It can let you see far, but you still have to prove your insight is true and valid before it is of any value.

Emily: But, maybe if we don't need to 'know' (read: grasp) everything, it frees us to 'know' (read: ~~~~!~~~~~~*) a lot more. Must faith = ignorance?

Faith is "Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence."

If you have logical proof or material evidence then you know something and no longer must have faith about it.

Only what you don't have knowledge about requires having faith.

A lack of knowledge is ignorance.

Properly placed faith is useful. You have faith that a master knows something worth learning and can teach it to you.

Improperly placed faith is a disaster - like blind obedience to a person who claims to speak for god.

07-27-06 2:00  •  Convert Me

Gwenny: I used to debate hotly with devout Catholic who constantly told me that God loved me and wanted me to follow Him. Finally I challenged him: "Reply to this message and say the ONE thing that would convert me. If God wants me all that bad, He will tell you what to say."

So, now I'm extending the challenge to you! What is the one thing you can say?


Gwenny: (blows a kiss) Hey, you cheated! Do I have to kill you now? ;)


07-25-06 1:00  •  Mid East in Crisis

Jon: Is there an evolutionary advantage in war to the side with extreme religious belief? Does it give Muslims an advantage being virtually certain that death is only the beginning of something great?

The advantage in war is not the quality of the tools but the sharpness and determination of people with a will which can endure any setback and pay any cost to secure the final objective. Just dying is not enough.

This is why fanatics end up in charge so often, be they Republicans or Hizbollah, and why they do so much damage.

Unfortunately, just fighting is not enough either. Neither side in the Mid East at the moment has a real objective, so the fighting on both sides is ineffectual and counter-productive. Israel has ushered Hamas into power and now they do the same with Hizbollah. Neither of these groups were of much note until Isreal made them into forces to be reckoned with, and once more Israel is bringing a sense of unity to its enemies that they could never achieve on their own.

You cannot occomplish law enforcement with the military. Terrorists are a civil problem.

You cannot claim rule of law while assasinating people, arbitrarily seizing and destroying their property and denying them basic protection under the law.

You cannot secure your borders by weakening and invading your neighbors.

Luckily Hizbollah and Hamas are equally short-sighted and ineffectual.

Of course, having the rest of the world either attached like leaches to the oil there, or just more fanatics wanting the unholyland, just keeps the pot stirred.

Read more in the Archives.