"Begin at the beginning,and go on till you come to the end: then stop." (Lewis Carroll, 1832-1896)
Alice came to a fork in the road. "Which road do I take?" she asked."Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat."I don't know," Alice answered."Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."
"So long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation. "Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
"All right," said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. "Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; "but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!"
I am diagonally parked in a parallel universe. Like Arthur Dent from "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy", if you do not have a Babel Fish in your ear this blog will be completely unintelligible to you and will read something like this: "boggle, google, snoggle, slurp, slurp, dingleberry to the power of 10". Fortunately, those who have had the Babel Fish inserted in their ear, will understood this blog perfectly. If you are familiar with this technology, you will know that the Babel Fish lives on brainwave radiation. It excretes energy in the form of exactly the correct brainwaves needed by its host to understand what was just said; or in this case, what was read. The Babel Fish, thanks to scientific research, reverses the problem defined by its namesake in the Tower of Babel, where a deity was supposedly inspired to confuse the human race by making them unable to understand each other.
Beepbeepitsme has been added to The Atheist Blogroll. You can see the blogroll in my sidebar. The Atheist blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to Atheist bloggers from around the world. If you would like to join, visit Mojoey at Deep Thoughts.
"Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?" Alexander Pope
"The primary function of myth is to validate an existing social order. Myth enshrines conservative social values, raising tradition on a pedestal." Ann Oakley
"Some treat their longing for God as proof of His existence." Mason Cooley
"The god of the Christians, as we have seen, is the god who makes promises only to break them; who sends them pestilence and disease in order to heal them; a god who demoralizes mankind in order to improve it. A god who created man 'after his own image', and still the origin of evil in man is not accredited to him." Johann Most
"In love, we worry more about the meaning of silences than the meaning of words." Mason Cooley
"My philosophy is such that I am not going to vote against the oppressed. I have been oppressed, and so I am always going to have a vote for the oppressed, regardless of whether that oppressed is black or white or yellow or the people of the Middle East, or what. I have that feeling." Septima Clark
"Secular humanists suspect there is something more gloriously human about resisting the religious impulse; about accepting the cold truth, even if that truth is only that the universe is as indifferent to us as we are to it." Tom Flynn
"If the question is put to me would I rather have a miserable ape for a grandfather or a man highly endowed by nature and possessed of great means of influence and yet who employs those faculties and that influence for the mere purpose of introducing ridicule into a grave scientific discussionI unhesitatingly affirm my preference for the ape." Thomas Henry Huxley
Project Gutenberg is the oldest producer of free ebooks on the Internet. The collection was produced by hundreds of volunteers.
"Give the right man a solar myth, and he'll confute the sun therewith." James Russell Lowell
"Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone. Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon. Show me slowly what I only know the limits of. Dance me to the end of love." Leonard Cohen
"If God is male, then male is God. The divine patriarch castrates women as long as he is allowed to live on in the human imagination." Mary Daly
"If the people were a little more ignorant, astrology would flourish - if a little more enlightened, religion would perish." Robert Green Ingersoll
"In other words (so to speak): not two and also not not two." Magellan's Log V
"History is, strictly speaking, the study of questions; the study of answers belongs to anthropology and sociology." W.H. Auden
"Archaeology is the peeping Tom of the sciences. It is the sandbox of men who care not where they are going; they merely want to know where everyone else has been." Jim Bishop
"To excavate is to open a book written in the language that the centuries have spoken into the earth." Spyridon Marinatos
"Science commits suicide when it adopts a creed." Thomas Henry Huxley
"The place has changed but little since Diana received the homage of her worshippers in the sacred grove. The temple of the sylvan goddess, indeed, has vanished and the King of the Wood no longer stands sentinel over the Golden Bough." Sir James George Frazer
"Babylonian king (1792BCEâ€“1750BCE) who made Babylon the chief Mesopotamian kingdom and codified the laws of Mesopotamia and Sumeria." The American Heritage
"We are ourselves history and share the responsibility for world history and our position in it. But we gravely lack awareness of this responsibility." Hermann Hesse
"Astrology: do we make a hullabaloo among the stars, or do they make a hullabaloo down here?" Mason Cooley
"Readers are plentiful: thinkers are rare." Harriet Martineau
"The Christian religion is a parody on the worship of the Sun, in which they put a man whom they call Christ, in the place of the Sun, and pay him the same adoration which was originally paid to the Sun." Thomas Paine
"Zoroaster was thus the first to teach the doctrines of an individual judgment, Heaven and Hell, the future resurrection of the body, the general Last Judgment, and life everlasting for the reunited soul and body. These doctrines were to become familiar articles of faith to much of mankind, through borrowings by Judaism, Christianity and Islam; yet it is in Zoroastrianism itself that they have their fullest logical coherence.â€ - Mary Boyce
"My esoteric doctrine, is that if you entertain any doubt, it is safest to take the unpopular side in the first instance. Transit from the unpopular, is easy ... but from the popular to the unpopular is so steep and rugged that it is impossible to maintain it." William Lamb Melbourne
"With reason one can travel the world over; without it it is hard to move an inch." Chinese proverb.
"Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. Bribery and corruption are common. Children no longer obey their parents. . . . The end of the world is evidently approaching." Sound familiar? It is, in fact, the lament of a scribe in one of the earliest inscriptions to be unearthed in Mesopotamia, where Western civilization was born. C. John Sommerville
"The sun, the moon and the stars would have disappeared long ago ... had they happened to be within the reach of predatory human hands." Havelock Ellis
"It (myth) expresses and confirms, rather than explains or questions, the sources of cultural attitudes and values... Because myth anchors the present in the past it is a sociological charter for a future society which is an exact replica of the present one." Ann Oakley
"Starry, starry night. Flaming flowers that brightly blaze, swirling clouds in violet haze, reflect in Vincent's eyes of china blue." Don McLean
"NOT from the stars do I my judgment pluck, and yet methinks I have astronomy, But not to tell of good or evil luck, Of plagues, of dearths, or seasonsâ€™ quality..." William Shakespeare
"Moreover, the universe as a whole is infinite, for whatever is limited has an outermost edge to limit it, and such an edge is defined by something beyond. Since the universe has no edge, it has no limit; and since it lacks a limit, it is infinite and unbounded. Moreover, the universe is infinite both in the number of its atoms and in the extent of its void." Epicurus
"Most people today still believe, perhaps unconsciously, in the heliocentric universe every newspaper in the land has a section on astrology, yet few have anything at all on astronomy." Hannes Alfven
The Case Of The Mysterious Rocking Chair From: A Conversation @ Philaletheia
My mother and I were sitting in the lounge of her house a number of years ago just chatting and watching TV when we heard a sound emmanating from the front verandah. Needless to say, this was quite late at night, most of the people in our street has gone to bed, not many lights were on, only a dim street light shone opposite us.
My mother, a delightful person that she was, was also highly imaginative and superstitious. I saw her eyes widen as we both listened to the sound, a steady “creak creak” on the 100 year old floorboards on the verandah. I watched and listened as I saw the physical reaction in my mother’s face and her body language. The primitive response to the unknown was about to receive full expression.
Needless to say, I felt and reacted to what I saw as her reactions as well. It was as if her anxiety was emotionally telegraphed to my synapses as well. Rather than be part of an irrational stampede to the upstairs bedroom where we might have locked the doors and waited in fear and forboding for whatever had made the mysterious noise, I decided to investigate for the sake of sanity and reason.
My mother, also quelled her desire for flight when she saw that I was prepared to confront whatever it was that was making this mysterious noise. I need to add at this time that my mother’s brother had died a few months ago, and so I had a pretty good idea where her brain was flying off to when it came to explaining the noise.
I opened the large timber door, with my mother peering over my right shoulder getting ready to scarper if anything threatening or frightening presented itself. We peered out into the murky darkness of the front verandah, listening intently as we tried to ascerain the specific location of the sound. And then we saw it. The large, old, rocking chair at the end of the verandah, bathed in soft moonlight, rocking steadily backwards and forwards.
By this stage of the proceedings, I am almost sure that my mother was “seeing” her recently deceased brother rocking backwards and forwards on that chair. Something he had done in the past. The sense of panic had escalated in both of us as we had determined the source of the sound, but not the cause of it. ( I think my mother had already settled on a cause by this time.)My mother was quite willing to accept that the cause was a spiritual one, I was less than convinced. (This all happened in a short time frame, just a matter of seconds.)
I flicked on the outside light. The rocking chair was still rocking, but it was slowing down now. Had our presence disturbed whatever was sitting in the chair and it had now left? No. On closer inspection there was my cat of 12 years sitting about 4 feet from the rocking chair staring at us in the bright light and surely wondering why we had these startled looks upon our faces.
The cat had slept on that rocking chair often and as it jumped off it in the darkness, the rocking chair did what rocking chairs do - they rock. Due to the recent circumstances of my uncle’s death, the darkness, the time of the evening (around midnight, if I remember correctly) and the human natural desire to attribute an explanation and a meaning for the unknown; our primitive instincts had kicked in.
Less rational heads would today be telling the story of how they had a visitation from a deceased member of their family and how they had NO rational explanation for why that chair was rocking in the moonlight. Primitive tribes may have made an altar to the chair and prayed for protection, good luck or fortune. People like my mother, saw it as a spiritual visitation from a dead relative. People like myself, look for a rational explanation first.
So what is it in us that allows us to make a variety of decisions based upon the same information? And why is it that we have a tendency to make hasty decisions based only tiny pieces of information?
Human beings are not so removed from their biological past. It is only in recent times, perhaps a few thousand years where the tables have changed and we are no longer being predated upon by a variety of dangerous animals. We are now the ultimate predators. We farm our prey and we farm them on a scale and diverse scale that could not be imagined by any other predator on this planet.
Instinctually, however, we are still wired for physical survival. Better to assume that some mysterious noise or shape is dangerous, suspicious, or a possible threat, than to stay and have possible harm inflicted upon the physical self. Obviously, humans, like other animals, don't want to be killed for some other animal's lunch. The gazelle which assumes that the small noise in the long grass is a threat, has a better chance of survival than the one who doesn't.
So why are these instinctual responses of fight or flight still so prevalent and obvious within the psyche of modern man? We have no real predators anymore, except for perhaps other humans who may wish to harm us, so why has this response remained so strong?
Firstly, this response may not been ameliorated by a large period of time. Secondly, it may not have been ameliorated by reason. In other words, our brains haven't caught up with the fact that the shape mysteriously lurking beside the tree is really the shadow of the house nextdoor, or that the eerie sound in the palm tree is a flying fox scavanging for fruit. We have continued to use the flight or fight response when trying to ascertain an explanation of the unknown, regardless of the truth of our assumptions.
When split second decisions are required, the response which is instinctually considered as preferable for survival is employed. That the assessment of the situation is wrong, was not seen as a necessary component for physical survival.
When confronted with a mysterious sound, event, shape, movement, the brain makes a split second decision along these lines. Friend or foe. It has been advantageous in our past to consider "foe" first. We are emotionally and psychologically culturally attached to some of these foes which we have created as explanations for the unknown. The desire to attribute a supernatural cause for a natural event is embedded deep within our psyche. Being intelligent animals with large brains, we have coalesced mysterious sights, sounds and actions into monsters of our own creation. Vampires, werewolves, succubi, demons, ghosts, devils, spirits etc all have at their root cause, the human need to explain what is considered an extraordinary or highly mysterious set of circumstances. The ability to feel fear has been a driving force towards survival and that we may have imaginatively created and perpetuated many of our fears, does not enter the realm of many people's consciousness.
It is why, under controlled conditions such as a movie, a ride at the theme park etc, we receive pleasure from a frightening situation. We literally confront these primitive fears and experience the rush of fright under controlled circumstances.
We remain the victims of our primitive fear response, though the need for this response has diminished. Many of us, are unwilling or unable to let go of that superstitious response to the unknown.