October, 2014 Newsletter of the Lake Superior Freethinkers
Facilitators: David Broman - 218-349-7455, Bill Guse - 834-4583, 343-4806
First Sunday -Radisson – 9:00 AM Social – 9:30 Breakfast - 10:00 Presentation
George Erickson, editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
JOHN WOLFORTH, computer programmer, former Sunday School teacher and self-described myth buster, will present “What is fundamentalism and why we should care”.
Religion vs. religions – by Bill GuseI’d like to explain why usually shouldn’t use the commonly used singular words, “religion” and “god.” In short, it’s because the singular of people’s gods and religions is readily built into our brains because it makes it personal, thus more appealing. Singular references are taught, believed from near infancy, lived in, imagined, dreamed and thus assumed for almost every reader and listener - including the most ardent atheist.
The singular reference is what god or religion is to most of us. When the plural is seen or heard instead, besides being more honest, our brains create new pathways, generally are forced to reframe. That process creates a reflective reaction instead of a reflexive one. Reframing makes us think.
If we want to change how people steeped in superstition think, we should not use the same words they use for their metaphors. If we do, nothing noticeable will happen in their thought process.
The singular reference is ubiquitous in our culture, thus most users of the language assume, automatically, that what they mean or imagine or think is similar to most others because they hear the same language/ words. We humans like to stay in the herd. We are constantly looking to see what others are doing to give us permission to do the same. Permission to use Iron Age thinking is one way our culture carries on. This nearly universal reflexive response needs to be interrupted, and one way to interrupt it is to use different words.
When Sam Harris or Dawkins or Dan Barker or any non-theist uses the word “god” instead of “gods” or “a god” or “their god” or “your god” or “gods of the. . . .” , we are reinforcing or validating the legitimacy of what that word means to most people. The same applies to the word “religion”. They hear the same word they use, so the meaning of it remains constant - no matter what is said before or after. Just as when a teacher tells students to not run in the school’s halls, in the brain she is validating the idea of running. Our brains are not very much as we experience them, run is run is run. Better the teacher says, “Walk”. “Walk” goes to a different metaphorical frame in the brain, creating other images than “run”.
When we say “Your god” instead of “god” in a conversation or we say “religions” instead of “religion” those words go to difference place in our brains. New thoughts arise. To author a different thought we need to experience a different experience. Let’s not feed others and ourselves what we no longer want consumed. Even nonbelievers say “My god!”, but it should be “My particular god!” I know that sounds weird, but that’s the point - you noticed it. When there is more of anything each specimen has less value. That is also true for gods, so go plural please. IF we can’t get to no gods, bringing attention to as many brains as possible that there are many gods or specific gods is a step in the right direction.
Do You Believe Every Word In The Bible Is Inspired By God?The most-sold and probably least-read books in the history of the world are the 171 different Bibles published over the centuries, with 70 of them being major translations. Over 95% of U.S. households own at least one copy. Only 60% can name as many as five Commandments. Twelve percent think Joan of Arc was married to the skipper of the ark, Noah. Fifty percent think Sodom and Gomorrah were a married couple. A Gallup Poll revealed that 50% couldn’t name the first book of the Bible. Over 80% thought that the phrase “God helps those who help themselves” is a great Biblical verse. We own about a dozen different Bibles, and have another two dozen books containing maps and detailed explanations of what the verses mean in the Bibles. One-third of Americans believe that every word is literally true, so naturally they must follow all of the following precepts:
** Women must remain silent in church. Nuns and other females may not teach catechism or Sunday school within church boundaries.
** Sex before marriage is a mortal sin.
** Remarriage after an unbiblical divorce is adultery. Adulterers are stoned to death. If you wish to avoid stoning you must divorce new spouses and remarry the old one–or remain celibate for the rest of your life.
** Same-sex orientation is a choice.
** Homosexuals should be stoned to death.
** Do not eat rabbit, shellfish, pork, weasels, scavengers, reptiles, owls, anything with fins, or scales. Do not eat goat boiled in its mother’s milk.
** Elisha was ridiculed by a group of 42 boys for being bald so he called on God to curse them. God sent two bears out of the nearby woods and the grizzlies killed all 42.
** Jesus was hungry while on the road. He came upon a fig tree but it was barren. He said, “May you never bear fruit again!” The tree immediately died….
Evangelical Megachurch Begins Closing Branches After Pastor Calls Women “Penis Homes”Fifteen Mars Hill churches are closing amid founder Mark Driscoll's controversial anti-LGBT and anti-woman remarks.
Salon / By Jenny Kutner
Salon / By Jenny Kutner
The Washington-based evangelical megachurch Mars Hill is shutting some of its doors. Following controversy over founder Mark Driscoll’s well-documented homophobic and sexist remarks, church officials have announced that they would be closing several of Mars Hills 15 Pacific Northwest branches, citing financial difficulties caused by “negative media attention.” Several staff and clergy members have also been laid off. Last month, Driscoll himself announced that he would be taking a six-week-long leave of absence….
A recent New York Times profile of Driscoll also reports accusations of “plagiarizing, of inappropriately using church funds and of consolidating power to such a degree that it has become difficult for anyone to challenge or even question him.”….
The Wisdom of Getting HighRecently, at a conference in Las Vegas, I was looking out my 29th floor window at the desert and some mountains. A storm was moving slowly toward the North. There was a clear patch over a large park, but the storm would soon be there and the impending deluge was quite apparent. I thought about how different this was from my usual experience of weather, on the ground.
Dr James B Lyttle
Dr James B Lyttle
If I saw that sunny sky, I might have packed up some food and taken my family for a picnic. When dark clouds suddenly appeared out of nowhere and pelted us with heavy rain, I would be upset. Weather would seem cruel and capricious, and I might start to feel that the Universe "had it in for me." I wondered if this new perspective contained any insights for life in general.
Normally, I am "on the ground," concerned with my own interests and goals and problems. Things sometimes happen to me, and I don't know where they came from or why they happen. For example, I might hear a TED talk on a new idea. If the presenter's argument seems coherent, and the presenter seems authoritative, I might buy into whatever that talk espouses. I have no other perspective on the issue than the one presented to me in the TED talk.
But, if I were a philosopher (looking at things from the 29th floor), I might see the new idea in a very different light. It might be obvious why this TED talk was presented, when it was presented, and what sort of person the presenter was. I might be able to place the idea in the context of similar and/or competing ideas on the same topic. I might even be able to place it in the context of the then-current culture. From this perspective, it would be easier to have objectivity (the weather is not cruel) and wisdom (the weather is not capricious). Here is an example of what I mean:
What is reality? When I was young, we were preoccupied with outer space. Our cars were Comets and Mercurys. Our television shows were Star Trek and Lost in Space. Our films were Red Planet Mars and It Came from Outer Space. Not surprisingly, our metaphor for reality (way of understanding it) was atomic. Everything in the world was made up of little solar systems, with a sun (nucleus) at the center and little planets (electrons) revolving around it in predictable orbits. Later, when the Zeitgeist was more new age and magical, we became fascinated with quantum theory. Our movies were The Secret and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Our music included Yanni. Our metaphor for reality (way of understanding it) was energy-based. Everything in the world was made up of energy, assuming various shapes and forms including solid matter. Now, our lives revolve around computers and other smart devices. Our television shows include AMC's Halt and Catch Fire and HBO's Silicon Valley. Our movies include Her and The Social Network. Is it any wonder that reality is now described as "all just information"?
Perhaps philosophers see this coming a mile away. From the 29th floor, they can see that everything is not just little solar systems, or just energy, or just information. Their training and experience shows that these are all metaphors for the same reality, one which has not changed in the face of our shifting descriptions of it. Several clichés apply here: Korzybski's "The map is not the territory," Magritte's "Ceci n'est pas une pipe," and the classic "Don't eat the menu." I want to be on that metaphorical 29th floor more often. I might sometimes miss the passion and excitement of being on the ground and committed to a group advocating this and that cause, but it seems like a reasonable sacrifice for wisdom.