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The portrait is Charles Darwin, age 31, in 1840

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Comment by Joan Denoo on September 16, 2013 at 10:29pm

There is another compounding variable taking place here that explains the conflicts and confusion, often expressed by people who believe in myths, vote their beliefs, end up with lousy government and wonder why? The issue of free will is a symptom of a much deeper problem. If one believes individuals have free will and make decisions based on sound judgment, they simply are wrong. Fear based on disinformation and delusion gets us no where. 

Atheists seem to have a clue about identifying problems based on evidence, creating ideas and processes to overcome challenges, explore and experiment with different things and then observe outcomes. That is how USA put a man on the moon and brought him home safely. 

Gregg Palast, a muckraker of notorious repute, tells a story about how we got into this economic/political mess. It doesn't involve religion, however it does involve what happens when misinformed citizens make choices based on propaganda. Many people do not want to consider his story, valuing loyalty and faithfulness as a higher value than critical thinking. 

Atheists need to speak their truth to power. By remaining silent, atheists become part of the problem. What have we got to lose by being informed and telling the story of cronyism, corruption, and crime? What do we gain if we speak out? 

I have no idea if the voting public members have free will; perhaps fear and disinformation clouds their thinking. In any event, here is the article and the theme I followed since Obama's first inauguration day when he named all neocons to his financial team. 

Larry Summers: Goldman Sacked

Comment by Dorian Moises Mattar on September 16, 2013 at 9:50pm

Joan, that was beautiful writing!

I don't think that you are missing much.

I'll have to look into the origins of Capitalism, but I wouldn't doubt it.

There has to be a better way than this rat race!

Comment by Dorian Moises Mattar on September 16, 2013 at 9:38pm

Now that's an irony!   LMAO

Comment by The Flying Atheist on September 16, 2013 at 8:48pm

Yes, teach the controversy! 

Comment by Dorian Moises Mattar on September 16, 2013 at 7:38pm

I second that motion.

Education of ALL religions.

Comment by Christopher Lowe on September 16, 2013 at 6:48pm

Education, education, education. Before the religious can proceed with indoctrination! Daniel Dennett got it right when he proposed  mandatory, non judgemental, non threatening looks at all the worlds religions in the classroom just for informational purposes kids can put in their back pockets. If for no other reason than to teach them there are different ways different cultures view things. I know it's pie in the sky, but better information begets better decisions. There is a culture of anti science out there combined with a defunding of education  whose only purpose seems to shield unfounded dogmas from challenge and this seems to me to be very unfortunate indeed. 

Comment by Homer Edward Price on September 16, 2013 at 5:36pm

Chad Kreutzer is correct that freedom of religion and Darwinian (or free market) competition for members has strengthened religious denominations in the United States.   At least that is the consensus of sociologists of religion.   Established churches or state religions are weakened by their identification with the powers that be rather than with the common people, in addition to the laziness allowed by state subsidies.  But the evangelicals and Catholics are not satisfied with freedom of religion, as an earlier commenter mentioned.  They want dominion.

Comment by Joan Denoo on September 16, 2013 at 12:58pm
FEAR! Plain, simple, unadulterated fear, generated by charismatic charlatans who pump up emotions in people who feel victimized by life's challenges, and it is contagious, just like a disease.
Add to that political conflict, an economic downturn caused by dysfunction banking and oligarchs, the disease spreads creating its own wind.
Any attempt to rational, critical thought only adds fuel to an already overheated situation.
How does one fight a disease spreading like wildfire? Back in the days of smallpox and polio, isolation, good hygiene, explore and experiment for treatment of the already infected and work on prevention.

So, name the disease based on the evidence, identify the carriers and refute their claims, use old fashioned, clear, concrete, thinking to rebut superstitions, take action to speak and openly challenge fears, explore and experiment to find positive, healthy, functional ideas and plans to offer as alternatives to fear.

OK, oversimplified! Sure! But the basic principle applies. Silence solves absolutely nothing. Rational ideas offer a glimmer of alternatives to Armageddon. The way it is now, those poor, foolish, gullible folks feel helpless and so transfer their hopes and dreams into salvation by declaring a non-person as lord and savior with an escape mechanism to heaven.

If my memory is correct, there is only one declared senator or representative in our national legislature. How can good government come out of dysfunctional values? How can our representatives in a republic make decisions that make sense if they believe there is a god who hears and answers prayers, even in the face of incredible evidence that no such phenomena exist? How can they pass laws that fit 21st century reality when they believe a non-being loves them and cares about them?
I think one fact we often fail to understand: capitalism is a product of Christian religion.

"It was the church more than any other agency, writes historian Randall Collins, that put in place what Weber called the preconditions of capitalism: the rule of law and a bureaucracy for resolving disputes rationally; a specialized and mobile labor force; the institutional permanence that allows for transgenerational investment and sustained intellectual and physical efforts, together with the accumulation of long-term capital; and a zest for discovery, enterprise, wealth creation, and new undertakings."
~How Christianity Created Capitalism

This is only one article, and there are volumes of other writers who make this claim. Just think about it for a minute. There is a higher authority, obedience is a towering value, following orders and depending on others to lead is required, might makes right, etc., etc.

OK, what am I missing here? Where are the flaws in my thinking?
Comment by Chad Kreutzer on September 16, 2013 at 11:59am

I've had a theory for a while that part of the problem here in the US is our much vaunted freedom of religion. when faith has to compete, it becomes stronger in a sense through (ironically) evolutionary processes. Whereas in places where there is a state religion, it fades away into a social club and irrelevance because it doesn't have to compete.

Mind you, I have no data backing this up and I have done no research. It's just something that I've been thinking about for a while looking at the US compared to other first world countries.

Comment by Dorian Moises Mattar on September 16, 2013 at 11:52am

I think religious institutions are loosing so much ground that they are throwing wild punches in desperation.

The economy isn't helping either.  People without jobs become desperate and seek solace. 


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