Metro State Atheists

Promoting Science, Reason, and Secular Values

Venom In The Veins

Venom

in the

Veins

It’s my property! Why, I paid $985 for this here piece of flesh, and I have the right to do what I want with it.

Pounded under the slave block’s gavel,

bid-$1-2-430 bid-$2-4-580 bid-$3-4850 bid-$5-6-1,000

& Sold, & Sold, & Sold, & Sold,

heart beats, heart beats, heart beats, heart beats

Four million hearts beating

Imprisoned

For Life

For Greed

For Lust

for

the rhythm of planting, picking—

FLESH

Turned into MONEY,

Blood

Poured into crops,

Fusing with the dirt

And

Raining from the sky—

Southern trees bore a strange fruit

Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,

Black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze,

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Across the street,

in the White Churches,

BREAD turned to CHRIST’S FLESH,

and

BLOOD

to WINE

So if’in I want to rape it, hate it, mutilate it, that ain’t none of your business. I can even kill it if I want to ‘cause it’s mine, and you can’t stop me. Though me killin’ it would mean I was downright crazy given what I just paid for it. But when it gets old and useless, and I’ve gotten my money’s worth, I just might hunt it for fun. Now you just get on out of my way before I start to showin’ my hate for you, you anti-Christian piece of Northern trash! It’s in the Bible; they’re heathens, savages, inferior, don’t believe in Jesus, and even when converted, they still the sons of Ham. My preacher taught me the word of God. He should know. God’s never wrong, and We Southerners have God on our sidde [ssssss-slap]

God on our siiiiid- [sssss-slap]

God on our siiii- [ssss-slap]

God on our sssss- [ssss-slap]

God on ouuur- [ssss-slap]

God onnn -[ssss-slap]

“Oh, yes ye converted heathen, God has a message for thee; be meek and mild my child in the face of thy travails. Submit and repent; think only of Heaven, not this world, and the next will be yours.”

So said the Southern Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and cohorts.

(and the country whispers but that was so long ago; that was not us; I’m not to blame…. but look and listen and understand it is here now; it is racism; it is killing you, me, the haters and the hated—and yes, even most the ones that stand by, doing nothing)

The vomiting has begun

AGAIN

The bile is rising

AGAIN

The venom in the veins

Courses hardy

Again,

Throbbing, pulsing

AGAINf

Lub dub, Lub dub, Lub dub:

The throb of life calling for

MURder, MURder, MURder, MURder

chanting in a viperous tongue

slithering from

the Reptilian brain,

spitting

H A T E

K I L L.


When did slavery end?

When did it end?

Physical fact,

Or

State of mind?

Emotional?

Spiritual?

Cultural?

As law?

Or

Law enforcement?

But only the sightless believe

It ended in 1864.

Jim Crow’s reign, segregation, culture of terror, KKK, politicians, Good-White-Men-with-Family-Values. Black ink on White paper records 3,437 African-American lynched up to 1951. Not recorded: every Beating, Stabbing, Crippling, Broken bone, Fried human, Burnt house, Vigilantes Hunting in packs…..

Rising in the pride of the South, strong in their conviction, pleased with their Tradition, Southern Governors and Senators spoke out for what their cold, lizard hearts and squalid eyes and fetid brains claimed as Truth. the “Negro” is inferior. With God (& their ‘way of life’) on their side, they made sure no African American sat on a jury; lynchings took place with impunity as community picnic entertainment, photographed with pride—placed in the family album next to the wedding reception.

(and the country whispers….but that was so long ago… that was not us; I’m not to blame…. but mark and listen and understand it is here now; it is racism; it is killing you, me, the haters and the hated—the Lovers and the Loved—and yes, even most, the ones that stand by, doing nothing)

Woodrow Wilson, a racist Enforcer, segregated the federal government: 1902-1910. One man—the country followed.

1955, a 14-year-old Chicago boy visiting in Mississippi crossed an invisible “white’s only” boundary he didn’t even know existed. His punishment: eyes gouged out, beaten to death, then, finally, shot in the head, thrown into the Tallahatchie River, a 75-pound fan tied around his neck with barbed wire weighing his small body down. Only 54 years ago (and the country pretends… it was so long ago…but oh how wrong we are. It happened during my lifetime. And it was not the end.). Two men arrested, not held or punished; the haters enforced their reign of terror, and J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI promulgated hate, intimidating civil rights workers, giving aid to lynchers, discrediting Martin Luther King, Jr., serving him up to the murdering mob.

1968, only 41 years ago, racism killed Martin Luther King, Jr.

1981, two KKK members in Alabama randomly chose to lynch 19-year-old Michael Donald. For the very first time, the killers were found guilty, but the prosecutor has been number 1 on the Aryan Nation hit list ever since. 1981, Only 28 years ago, during the lives of my children.

I beheld my caring, open-hearted lover

Ignored

Every month, every week, every day, every hour

We strolled through a store

Sat together for coffee—or more.

Eyes glided blankly past her to see only me,

Ask me what I wanted

Fuss over me

Serve me

While she stood next to me:

Invisible

Black

But

Invisible

Except in the Glares of the Police.

The Stares of the Guards

The Malevolence of the Whites

Sniggering, Blithering

As we passed by.

I learned to read

The nerve-quickened pulsing

at the edge

Of her jaw,

The muscles set

—Tightly—

from

neck

to

shoulder

blade,

Petrify,

and

Rip

her throbbing, open heart

APART.

1998, three men, all members of a white supremacist prison gang, murdered James Byrd, Jr., a 49-year-old Texas father of three, who had accepted an early-morning ride home from work with the three men. Because it’s what white racists do, they attacked him, dragging him to his death behind their truck, then moseyed off to a barbecue. 1998, only 11 years ago, as the radical Christian Right gained its stranglehold on the Republican party, fought for religion in politics, anti-immigration, anti-gay, anti-everything “not them.” They’ve perfected the attack ad, blaming the “other,” hunting the scapegoat, preying on and harnessing the collective ugliness within us. And as they’ve discovered, there is more than enough to destroy this country without the need of a nuclear bomb. (and the country ignores….IT is not going away…IT grows on hate, and the agony is ascending once again, again, and again, flooding the land.)

Finally, on June 13, 2005, the US Senate formally apologized for its failure to previously enact a Federal anti-lynching law. All earlier attempts had been defeated by filibusters by powerful Southern senators. 2005, only 4 years ago (and the country sighs, it is over…Oh, how very wrong are we. Look anywhere; there IT is).

And once again the lynching comes

as mobs find courage in numbers.

Have Faith for Faith’s sake,

preserve Tradition for Tradition’s sake

Hate for Hate’s sake

With God, Government, and Police on their side.

For as far back as we have evidence, humans have practiced human sacrifice: scapegoats, the pariah, the “other” to put upon them the blame and shame of the community, to be the sacrifice for the sins of all, originally to drive them out of the community and leave them to die—or ritually kill them in cleansing ceremonies. Human sacrifice for the rest of our sakes; human sacrifice to the gods. The one we know best is the dying/rising god, the god that promises immortality. The names may change but the promise of sin-free immortality remains the same: Osiris, Dionysus, Tammuz, Odin, Ishtar, Persephone, Baal—Jesus. Christians say Jesus is the last; THEY say Jesus took the sins of all so no one else would have to suffer; THEY say they follow him….and yet…and yet….and yet, THEY continue scape-goating—sacrificing others, projecting fears, hatred, anger, perverted thoughts onto entire populations.

What an excuse to commit genocide (Indians, Jews, Blacks, Muslims, Immigrants—take your pick).

What an excuse to kill ( so many to choose from).

What an excuse to be a vigilante (a buffet of life to slaughter).

What an excuse for murdering in the name of love.

Diagnosis:

The psychosis of humanity made manifest, running amuck, ranting, wrecking, reeking havoc, assaulting, lynching, Effacing to avoid facing themselves.

Playing God, they slaughter.

The herd hunts again,

Rulers of Deceit:

The Rogue and the Righteous

—The McPalins of the World—

Forging the grandiose

Hate-Fest

To Feast,

Draped

in rancid lies

They

Dredge

the

Sludge in the drains—the slime—

Lining the social plumbing,

Lurking in the twisted shadows

Out of sight

But

Never

Out of mind.

Left too long to rot and mold

In the grime

of history

—denied—

Bubbles in repression,

Churns sour in our souls,

Flings out its tentacles for the light of day

Births hate from guilt,

Pain from shame,

Displaced blame gobbles the refusal to atone

No matter how hard we try to scrub the claims of conscience away,

Racism

is

Our Nemesis,

Our cyanide rage,

Our Gangrenous hate.

Crawling on the unmasked:

Neighbors,

Church members,

Farmers,

Butchers,

Jury-sitters

Bakers

Law-makers,

ALL

Beasts craving to be fed Again

US-made

Vampires

Raping

Their Country,

Devouring

Their Young.

(With God on their side)

Thanks to:

Abel Meeropol for the lyrics Strange Fruit

The Southern Poverty Law Center:

Morris Dees, Joseph J. Levin, Jr., and Julian Bond,

Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, all those who’ve been hurt & still will,

All who’ve fought and still continue to

Charging Shame to:

All that aid & abet fear of those who are different

All that feed off hate

All that incite violence against those who disagree

All that are complicitous, consciously or not

By riki mathews, The Trickster

(Some aspects of original format have not been preserved)

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October 30, 2008 Posted by | god, Poetry, Politics, religion, The Trickster | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can Religion Ever Be Right about Right and Wrong?

A presentation by Sam Harris

October 26, 2008 Posted by | Lecture, religion | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Epicurus: The Problem of Evil

Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?

– Epicurus, according to Lactantius in The Wrath of God

Problem of Evil

October 9, 2008 Posted by | god, philosophy, Qoutes, religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Materialism and Morality

So, according to Michael Humphrey from The Daily Everygreen Online, atheism precludes the possibility of having morals. I thought I would take some time address some of the claims made in his article.

Pure materialism rejects the existence of anything beyond matter and its interaction. When all events in the universe are reduced to the colliding of atoms, there’s no room for good or bad. These interactions are purposeless and irrational.

Though it may be without purpose, it is far from being irrational. The interactions of matter are consistent. If one is rational, it means their opinions are consistent with and logically derived from established facts and observations. The interactions of matter are determined by the properties inherent to the matter itself. Matter never deviates from its own nature, and never reaches irrational conclusions. The material world never actually reaches any conclusions, nor does matter apply reason to anything because matter is not aware of facts and it doesn’t make observations. Matter has no need to derive truth from itself, because the properties of matter, and energy, dictate what truth is.

Because of this reductionism of everything, materialists argue that humans are the same as animals, thus taking away the dignity humans have.

I’m not so insecure that I think my worthiness of esteem and respect is somehow robbed if I’m not the product of divine inspiration. Dignity is only lost if your standard for dignity requires that the entirety of the universe revolves around our tiny little lives. Besides, why should truth conform to the whims of our discontentions. Reality need not think you speacial in order to remain real.

This line of thinking is severe and deadly. Let’s consider whether it is evil or not to kill an animal. If it is evil to indiscriminately kill an animal, then it is also evil to indiscriminately kill humans. However, the unfortunate side effect of this is that we must stop washing anything, because killing bacteria – animals – is just like killing people.

The other option is that indiscriminately killing animals is not evil, but then killing humans indiscriminately isn’t evil either. So the worst atrocities of human history are nothing more than just washing your hands.

In either case, the final issue is that the Holocaust becomes morally equivalent to cleaning a dirty bathroom.

This is a very simplistic view of morality because it does not take into account the reasons why we consider killing in some circumstances wrong and not in others. The killing itself is not inherently wrong and, for most people, the moral implications of the act are based on other factors such as necessity and sentience.

Then things such as altruism are only believed to be “good” because they benefit the species and forward our evolution. However, altruism and self sacrifice are actually a detriment to our progress. If the weak are procreating, they only pollute the gene pool and ultimately damage the species. If Dawkins is right about memes and morality developing in an evolutionary way, then all forms of altruism will quickly exterminate themselves, since it is disadvantageous evolutionarily.

Altruism need not be applied only to the weak and, as a social species, our certain weaknesses can be more tolerated in the population. When a parent cares for her children or her relatives, he/she is helping to ensure that members of the species sharing at least some of his or genome are more likely to survive. While altruism might perpetuate certain weaknesses, such as strength, it selects for intelligence and strengthens the group by cultivating problem solving skills. Altruistic behavior is even present at the cellular level. In multicellular organisms, a process of cell destruction called apoptosis occurs. Apoptosis can be mediated by the organism, or by the cell to be destroyed. In one case we see murder, but in the other we see self-directed cellular suicide. When the cell poses a threat to the organism, it quite literally takes one for the team. I’m fairly certain Dawkins discusses social evolution in more than a few of his books, and he addresses this very concern. If Humphery read Dawkins work at all, he might have been aware of that.

Furthermore, this type of thinking on morality can lead some to justify atrocities. If we take Dawkins at his word about the evolution of morality, then for the sake of the species almost every corner of the world has found it acceptable to enslave, exterminate and sterilize humans at some point.

The behavioral parameters we have are not absolute, because our circumstances are not absolute. Many societies have also deemed slavery not acceptable. Why should we assume that one circumstance is inherently implied while the other is not? Evolutionary pros and cons exist for societies advocating slavery and those not advocating slavery. Ultimately, slavery is less beneficial. Freedom allows for the persistence of genetic diversity and increases the likelihood that a beneficial characteristic will be have a chance to enter the population. Freedom is potentially beneficial for every member of our species, while slavery only favors the few. Humphery also seems to think that those who use slavery are so capable because they are superior. Slave drivers usually have a weapon, something their genetics know nothing about. Technology has changed the course of evolution. Almost anyone, regardless of their genetic “inferiority”, can pull a trigger.

It was once legal and morally acceptable to own slaves, yet Western civilization considers freedom to be an inalienable right. But from Dawkins’ point of view, it could be prudent for our species to enslave the weak for survival of the strong.

Slavery does not favor the strong. With a weapon, even a child is potentially deadly. Also, if I were to advocate slavery, I would have to acknowledge the potential that I might be enslaved. Not only is it in the best interest of our species to remain free, but it is in the best interests of the individual.

These conclusions, once illuminated for what they are, morally corrupt – lose their creditabilty. They are simply a gross oversimplification of the human condition. We are more than biological programs.

This reasoning is completely circular. Humphery correctly implies that certain atrocities such as slavery are neither morally right or wrong, but then arbitrarily decides that such a a conclusion is unacceptable. In other words, he’s assuming the existence of absolute moral truths, and using them as evidence that moral relativism is irrational. Humphery deems the implications of moral relativism unacceptable by applying them to his as yet unjustified absolute moral standards. Humphery’s argument establishes nothing, it requires that moral absolutes already exist. His argument is as follows:

Slavery is wrong, moral relativism implies otherwise, therefore moral relativism is wrong.

That Slavery is absolutely wrong, or that moral absolutes even exist, is never established and the assumption never actually justified.

God gave us stewardship over creation not to exploit, but to tend it as a servant tends his master’s vineyard.

I may have spoken to soon. It seems Humphery feels that servitude is morally acceptable. How ironic…

-Chalmer

October 7, 2008 Posted by | Morality, philosophy, religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Problem of Evil


Wrote this for a philosophy class, thought I would share.

The problem of evil arises when one attempts to reconcile the existence evil with the existence of a benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent deity. The existence of evil indicates one of two alternatives. If suffering exists God either can’t prevent it, and may therefore be benevolent but not omnipotent, or won’t prevent it, and may therefore be omnipotent but not benevolent. A third alternative does exist, as well, which is that God may be neither omnipotent nor benevolent. Several attempts have been made to reconcile the two and provide a solution to the problem of evil and, while generally consistent, I find most of them to be unsatisfactory because they make unjustified assumptions about the objectivity of evil and the anthropomorphic nature of God.
Evil can be divided into two subcategories; they are natural evil and moral evil. Natural evil suffering brought about by natural phenomena, whilst moral evil is human suffering brought about by the will of other willful entities (1). Evil, in the context of this discussion, almost always refers to something that results in suffering. Any process whereby suffering imposed can be said to be evil. Moral evils consist of circumstances where, through action or inaction, one human being allows suffering to be imposed upon another. Natural evils consist of circumstances where, through action or inaction, and God allows suffering to be imposed.
Moral evil, though, can also be seen as Gods responsibility because, despite the apparent presence of free will, God should have the power to circumvent out transgressions against each other in order to prevent suffering. For example, if we should see one person causing another to suffer and we can, with little or not effort, circumvent and prevent suffering, most would consider it negligent, cowardly, and immoral not to do so. One might object on the basis that this would undermine our free will. I see this not so much as an objection so much as a complaint, as well as another contradiction in the riddle of this God’s nature. Supposing certain truths for arguments sake is bound to lead to certain objectionable consequences. Regardless, both moral evil and natural evil can seen to be transgressions of God against man, in which case God is not benevolent. Otherwise, God can’t prevent evil, and is thusly not omnipotent.
The first issue I have with the argument is a failure to establish the objective standard that suffering is a qualifier for evil. Without invoking the existence of a deity who dictates or reveals the nature of evil, establishing objective or even subjective moral systems is a taxing endeavor. Without assuming the God in this discussion has properties not yet specified, there exist no reason to presume that suffering is objectively or even relatively evil. In even posing the problem of evil, our preferential aversion to physical and mental anguish must be equated with evil and, moreover, we must anthropomorphize God in assuming the same aversion to suffering as inherent to its nature. Finally, our mortal aversion and God’s divine aversion to suffering must then be justified as serving as a qualifier for evil.
One solution to the problem may simply be to deny that suffering is evil. This can be done on the basis that no reason to accept otherwise has been established, but these seems more a matter of opinion. However, we might also presume that suffering has been endowed in us at the biological level in order to ensure our survival. Suffering is not always necessary, such as in the case of impending and non-preventable death, but does have its uses. Physical suffering alters our behavior in a number of ways that are either useful at the individual level or the group level. Pain makes us aware of bodily injury, and prevents us from exposing ourselves unnecessarily to the possibility of further harm. Pain also exposes our physical limitations. If you jump of a two-story house, and it hurts, logic dictates that jumping of a three-story house will probably hurt worse. In a sense, suffering, be it emotional or physical, indicates to ourselves or to our group that our circumstances are not as we wish them to be. So, again, we find ourselves at the level of preference.
The solution of biological suffering as a means of survival is inadequate because we have described the necessity of suffering relative to our natural environment, of which the parameters and properties have been and can be dictated by God. Suffering is only necessary if God allows it to be imposed upon our biology by failing to circumvent the parameters of our environment. If God is omnipotent, either our nature or the nature of our environment can be altered such that suffering is not a necessity.
The solution I just proposed is a more specific example of the greater goods defense, which states that evil is necessary for the attainment of greater good. As well, it is stated that for ever evil, an equal or opposing amount of good results. Evil has so far been defined in terms of suffering and thus good must also be defined in these terms. Presumably, good should be defined as any action, and possibly inaction, that relieves or prevents suffering is good. In other words, evil means to a good end justifies those means, and negates their being evil. So it follows that, if God did not allow some degree of suffering, far more would result. This defense though is flawed as wall, because it fails to acknowledge that an omnipotent God could create a reality in which the greater good can be achieved without the necessity for suffering. Suffering is inherent to our nature, and our nature is malleable to an omnipotent being.
Another objection would be an attempt to falsify the premise that the net amount of suffering in the world leads us to a greater net amount of good. So I will attempt to falsify the premise by providing a single example from personal experience. My grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimers just after my grandfather’s death. My schizophrenic and physically disabled uncle, whom lived with and depended totally on them, was forced to leave because my grandmother had no income and, given her affliction, was unlikely to acquire one. So my uncle reverted to alcoholism and homelessness, and no one has seen him sense the funeral of my grandfather some 6 years ago. As well, my grandfather left his family thousands of dollars into debt, and neither my uncle or grandmother has the wherewithal to solve the problem, so it was left to myself and my parents. My mother was forced to drop out of school because we had to constantly travel to Texas, my grandmother’s home, in an effort to sell her house, help her declare bankruptcy, and find medical and psychological help for my uncle and grandmother, something both of them refused.
Today, my uncle is missing, my mother sacrificed 3 years of her life to help my grandmother, who no longer remembers her name, and who look at me as though I were a complete stranger. From these circumstances, no greater good was achieved. Death and tragedy can bring about greater good, but it is no necessarily so. Often, tragedy begets tragedy, violence begets violence, and hate begets hate.
In summary, we have no reason to assume God defines evil in the same way we might, lest we refer to some specific deity. We have no reason to assume suffering is necessary, as doing so appeals to a naturalistic explanation for which the invocation of God is unnecessary or contradictory. The consequences of accepting said attributes of God are an inherent contradictions when contrasted with the plight of human existence. Finally, attempts to solve the problem of evil assume that its premises are true; that God exists and has said properties, and thusly any contradiction must be reconcilable. I can think of now clearer example of confirmation bias. Ultimately, the simplest and most consistent solution to the problem is this; said God does not exist.

– Chalmer

Citations
Lawhead, F. The Philosophical Journey: An Interactive Approach, Third Edition, McGraw Hill: New York, NY, 2006

September 25, 2008 Posted by | philosophy, religion | , , , , , , | 5 Comments