Monday, December 18, 2006

Two takes on "War on Christmas"

#1 I have found the "War on Christmas" to be a bit absurd 
notion. Why shouldn't people say "Merry Christmas" and 
say something like "Happy Holidays" instead? But then I 
realized this might be because of language barrier. In here 
"Christmas" is "joulu" and the word does not bear any 
christian notions, it comes from an old swedish word for 
pagan celebration of winter solstice "yule". I would be 
annoyed if somebody would wish happy birthday for 
some imagined saviour, but I guess I should be as annoyed 
to be wished happy 
But I'm not :P

#2 The true war on Christmas could be climate change. Looks like this will be the first Christmas I can remember (in about 20 years) when there will be no snow :(. We do have a fine dusting of snow on the ground now, but as weather forecast promises about +5 degrees of Celsius on friday, I doubt it could survive. This has made me to think what I could change in my own habits to lessen the effects. The answer is "a lot".

PS. I officially hate word-wrapping in Blogger :(

Friday, December 15, 2006

Atheist/freethinker music

I came across two pieces of music which "sturck a chord" in me. 

First one is "I Ain't Afraid" by Holly Near.
The other one is "God Thinks" by Voltaire. 

I'm not quite sure about the legality of the last link, but Voltaire has the song on his website (link of which I displaced) so I hope it is OK. Both found through Humanist Network News Podcast.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Religion, ethics, moral and science

Lately I have been thinking about all this abstract stuff that makes humans tick. I'm not a religious person, nor have I ever been. Thus, religions hold some innate mystery (pun intented) to me, and I have always been interested in them. What makes people believe in something what I consider absurd and to shape their lives accordingly? So far, I haven't been able to find an answer despite tons of books and hours of thinking sacrificed.

OK. Religions claim they give the ethical and moral guidelines according which people should live, and to some extent, force others to live. Where does this leave me? I do not hold any religional beliefs, so I'm on my own. I do have quite strict moral code and I consider myself to be an ethical person, although my views on these issues seem to be somewhat different when weighted against views of "hoi polloi", most of whom are religious. Of course I see my viewpoints to be better, otherwise I would have changed them ages ago. Religions are trying to impose their views on me (and on society in which I live), using legistlation and other tools in their arsenal. Should I fight this? Isn't that forcing MY beliefs upon others? I think answers are yes and yes. This gives arise to another dilemma. If I see fit to focre my beliefs upon others, why I fight against other people doing the same thing?

And, at last, science. I aspire to be a scientist. For some reason, society seems to hold dual views of science. On the other hand, science is what saved your sister when she had cancer. And on the other hand, science is the atom bomb and genetic engineering. Religions seem to fall on the side which considers "the bad things" in science, so they are against me on this too. I dont think science as such is ethical or moral, but scientists should be. But ethical and moral arguments can be used against science and the arguments in these cases are usually very different from what I consider to be ethical and moral. For example, the atom bomb. I do not hold the inventors of the atom bomb to be in any way responsible of what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but some do. I think the issue here is the viewpoint society takes on science. If someone gets murdered with a knife, people do not hold the knifemaker responsible, but if someone gets murdered by the atom bomb, people seem to hold the guy who invented the bomb at least in some way responsible. Why? Knife is something everybody understands, it has a pointy end and a blunt end and if you hold the blunt end and stick the pointy end into someone elses innards, s/he dies. The atom bomb has something to do with atoms, but it is somewhat hard to understand. But that guy does, I bet he is the one whodidit. So, the answer might be lack of knowledge.

What can be done? As everyone says, the key is education. And it seems to be the key to most problems, including famine and poverty. I think this might be overly optimistic. Humans as a species could be irredeemedly dumb. By this I mean that no matter what education you get, no matter how high is your IQ, you are still prone to submit to scientology, healing crystals or invisible pink unicorn. Just pick your poison. I would like to see studies of what happens in peoples brains when they try to fit some irrational belief they hold in what they actually KNOW about things. I would like to see studies comparing the religious brain against halluzinating brain against normal brain. I would like to know more about these things :)