Enough is Enough

When is Humanity Going to Get That We’re All in This Together?

Archive for December, 2008

Religulous: The Best Christmas Movie Ever

Posted by honestpoet on December 25, 2008

I was afraid to watch it for awhile…afraid Bill Mayer would be too obnoxious, too bitchy, in that way that some atheists can be. But he presented himself as an agnostic, fully, and even showed himself with his mother and sister, after talking about his religiously mixed childhood (raised Catholic, but with a Jewish mother), an interaction that shows him in a sympathetic light and makes his skepticism seem the only logical outcome of his upbringing. It’s clear that what he wanted to present as the best approach to any claims about what happens after you die is as a skeptic. What he presents as a value is doubt rather than faith.

The movie is hilarious (I could just kiss whoever edited it, interrupting the interviews with bits of footage perfectly timed and placed), and poignant (he approaches the religious people he talks to with varying degrees of care and compassion, as merited), and maybe even a little scary if you haven’t already faced up to the mess that religious fundamentalism is leading the world into, namely nuclear confrontation between religious nutjobs.

He also gives fair play to nutty religions like scientology and cannabis worship. Of course, Mormonism gets a few good pokes.

He points out that the non-religious in this country make up a larger minority than blacks or gays, and that we really ought to make ourselves heard and demand that our leaders take our perspective into account. I think he’s right.

There’s one moment when he’s interviewing a Senator, an evangelical, who admits, laughing, while talking about Creationism, that “you don’t have to pass an IQ test to enter the Senate.” It takes him about fifteen seconds to realize that he’s just called himself (and some of his colleagues) a dumbass, and his face falls. It’s a riot.

Unless you’re a total fundamentalist, with your mind cemented shut to reason, you ought to give this film a gander.

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Biological Underpinnings for Spirituality

Posted by honestpoet on December 25, 2008

Because I recognize that our consciousness is centered in the brain, I always figured they’d eventually figure out how spirituality and the brain are related. Well, this article reports how they’ve shown that when an area in the right parietal lobe is suppressed (whether through lesion, injury, or meditation), one is more spiritual. It’s the “me-defining” area, so it makes sense, considering that the key to spirituality, as the various scriptures point out, is selflessness.

It’s way cool, imo, that they’re proving this scientifically. I was talking to my daughter yesterday about how important it is to fight our instincts for selfishness. Of course, Ayn Rand would roll over in her grave, and it’s true that martyrdom and survival are opposing goals, but it’s also true that for those for whom greed is a value, happiness is an unattainable goal. When one focuses constantly on the self and acquisition, enough is never enough, and happiness recedes from your approach like a mirage in the desert.

I also like it because it shows how even atheists can practice a beneficent spirituality (good for themselves and for others) without requiring them to subscribe to a belief in the supernatural that they find irrational and therefore unacceptable. The article also points out that this egolessness is sometimes experienced by appreciating — and “losing oneself in” — the beauty of nature or art, something I’ve long found to be personally rewarding.

Posted in atheism, buddhism, consciousness, mysticism, neuroscience, religion, spirituality | Leave a Comment »

And Now for Something Completely Different (And Very Silly)

Posted by honestpoet on December 17, 2008

I’m adding another category to my blogrool, Comic Relief, and this will be the first entry. (Watch out, this guy uses adult language.) It’s called F*%k You, Penguin. It’s like LOLCats for people who enjoy reading. Have fun!

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