The conversation

File:Pissarro Conversation.jpgHere is a man who believes Sandy was not caused by climate change, but by gay pride. Since June, when Obama proclaimed the month as homosexual/Gay Pride month, America has been hit by everything but a massive earthquake. I accuse him of committing the sin against the Holy Spirit, that is, wilfully blinding himself to the truth. The amount of reality to which you need to wilfully blind yourself to reach this position is frightening. I wondered what I could say to him, so I just said “Hi there”. His source, John McTernan, blames 9/11 on homosexuality. “God raised up Obama to oversee the destruction of America.” I looked through the comments, but found none in dissent.

I hope that John McTernan will drive people away from his position, as they see how insane it is. He offers nothing, beyond sticking his fingers in his ears and shouting, “The Bible says, and God condemns it”. No Christian argument can get through his certainty, or, indeed, his misery: as marriage is equalised across the US and EU, he and his followers will get steadily more despondent and wrathful, until they die- barring a miracle. The joy they take in the certainty of their rectitude will turn to dust and ashes in their mouths.

Then there is Christy Wade who “does not know” whether homosexual behaviour is sin or not. She is wrestling with this, sees it as important, and has not reached a decision. Iissarro_002.jpg know all the different arguments from both viewpoints. Trust me…I have spent much time thinking about this! As she has graduated from a seminary and her ministry is to LGBT youth, allowing her flock to make their own decisions on this may be the best way. We do make our own decision, eventually. She will realise that her sexuality is not a temptation to sin more than straight sexuality is. She was surprised when her mother said she did not embarass her.

As Christy absorbed from her society that being gay was wrong, I think eventually she will absorb that it is not wrong. I hope Christy Wade’s position may influence those who condemn homosexuality towards her more nuanced position. They may see her and realise she is not a monster. Her personal apology from the Church to the LGBT community may influence them.

John McTernan serves the useful purpose of testing to destruction a vile idea. Then there is a whole spectrum of views, Christian and non-Christian. I speak Evangelical, so I try to influence those against equal marriage. There are so many who will dismiss me out of hand, but may be influenced by someone only slightly to the left of their own position.

It is a world conversation, all the different views, all the different people, influencing one another, coming up with new thought, moving towards new understanding. This is the basis of social progress. With what we know now, fascism cannot dominate as it once did. So I feel that even those who are wrong might be wrong in a useful or interesting way, trying a path so that those who come after will close it off, or influencing those further from the truth than they are. And, if I am wrong about an issue, no great harm will come of it.

20 thoughts on “The conversation

  1. Yes, it is indeed useful to see where the negative serves us, by allowing us to be clearer about what we choose. That is better than getting upset and indignant, even although it can be righteous indignation that prompts us to do something.

    I suspect that there are many ways to handle outrageous stupidity. I would want to be clear that I was not part of it – that I hoped to espouse a different way. That can be enough to convince the followers, sometimes. At other times, we ignore it and it wilts and is washed away in a tide of indifference. Occasionally, we need to watch that tendency to be too benign, too careless of bigotry. Some bigots rely on not being taken seriously.

    Bless you, Clare, today and always. I love the pictures you have chosen for today’s post. Thank you for making my life more beautiful.

    XXX :-))


    • I was surprised to hear that John McTernan had achieved fame in the US, for this. Previously he claimed Hurricane Katrina was God’s judgment on gays in New Orleans. I am horrified to read that a Church of England bishop has said similar things.

      You are right about bigots. Nicholas Griffin is a buffoon, but a wicked one who needs refuting, and clearly expressed derision and disgust. And yet he is forced to rely on fear, victimhood and resentment: he cannot use the idea of Ubermenschen.

      I am delighted that you like the pictures.


  2. I suspect that most “god fearing people” of Obama being the death of humanity are really just racists. I have seen most of their vague or second-hand quotes having no technological/scientific/rational proof.

    Using some biblical apocalyptic reference, their rhetoric still smells of racial hate.

    At least that’s how the last 4 years in the USA has been.


  3. This is a good example of why faith-based belief is delusional: I call it ‘Rain Dance Evidence’. I dance for rain. It rains. My dance caused the rain. What could be more obvious?

    Well, establishing causation is not so easy as simply stating it to be so. To get from the dancing to the raining requires a wee bit of mental discipline because I’m making a claim about reality we share and not just my beliefs about it. I am claiming that my dancing with intention causes an effect in reality. For me to link the two requires some mechanism that is independent of my belief alone for the claim to have any intellectual integrity at all. This mechanism must be an identifiable process that is independent of my beliefs. And this is where faith-based beliefs of all kinds fail to link reality with claims of cause and effect by a knowable mechanism.

    Once we reject the need to link by an independent and reliable mechanism cause with effect in our faith-based claims, we have rejected any way to differentiate between the belief to be either an accurate and honest insight into reality or a psychotic delusion.

    Belief alone is not sufficient. Something more, something independent, is needed to arbitrate claims made about it. Reality is a really good one. To reject reality in favour of assuming a faith-based belief is true by divine fiat means we have rejected reality to arbitrate whether or not a claim is true and, instead, have promoted faith-based belief to be sufficient. And this is how we end up with such people like John McTernan and Dr. Mike Johnston spouting claims that are untethered to reality because reality doesn’t matter in the glowing and privileged insight made available to true believers who subject their reality to arbitration by belief! This is how we end up with other people infusing confidence in their Rain Dance evidence where absolutely none is warranted.

    As long as people continue to grant respect to ANY claims based on faith and divine authority, then we are going to continue to be bombarded by delusional claims as if they were equivalently true, equivalently back up by evidence, equivalently probable and reflective of what’s true in reality. And people who offer this respect to faith-based delusions of knowledge and insight into reality are very much part of the problem of why it continues to cause real negative effect on real people in real life.

    You can’t have it both ways, you see: you can’t respect only the faith-based beliefs you happen to agree with; either you have intellectual integrity to respect reality to be the arbiter of claims made about it or you do not. There is no tolerant middle ground because what’s true in reality is not compromised or affected by beliefs imposed on it by deluded people; reality is the way it is whether you believe it or not.

    For example, anthropogenic global warming is driving rapid climate change. This is a fact. This is true in reality because reality is providing us with overwhelming evidence that this is so. Every major scientific organization in the world agrees. There is scientific consensus on the matter. Its effects can be linked to this cause and we have knowledge (that works for everyone everywhere all the time) of how this cause brings about the effects we see. We can test over time by ever exacting predictions, and lo-and-behold, our predictions are confirmed not by someone’s faith-based beliefs but arbitrated by reality.

    When one confuses respecting reality with respecting faith-based beliefs held about it, one loses any means by reality’s independent arbitration to test those beliefs. I believe dancing with intention for rain causes rain, you see, because I believe it to be true. The inevitable result of respecting this broken methodology is producing a sizable segment of the population whose beliefs become untethered to the reality we share. The overall cost of this misguided and very stupid respect for faith-based beliefs is to equivalently reduce respect for what’s true in reality. What’s true in reality doesn’t matter to anyone who respects faith to be an equivalent way of knowing; all that matters to such confused people is maintaining respect for faith… not for any specific faith-based belief, mind you, but for the broken method that produces such batshit crazy claims.


      • I am a big supporter of secular values like religious freedom; people can believe whatever they want and it’s no business of mine. But when faith-based beliefs leave the private domain and enter the public domain to effect policy – like promoting discrimination against people who identify as LGBT – then it’s all our business. Faith has no legitimate or informative or respectful place in public domain and anyone who thinks it has such a role is part of the problem. Please remember that faith-based beliefs are not the sole property of religion but appear everywhere: from alternative ‘therapies’ to ‘complimentary’ medicine, from birthers to 9/11 conspiracy ‘theorists’, from dowsers to tarot card readers, and so on. Respecting any of these beliefs as if they were equivalent ways of knowing about reality is in direct conflict with and contrary to how we accumulate knowledge. Respecting the former degrades respect for the latter, and this costs us all in political will to bring about meaningful change where required, such as when climate deniers and naturopaths are treated as equivalent to scientists and doctors rather than what they actually are: nut cases who promote woo.


      • Then it’s a way of recognizing another person’s subtle behaviours to tell them what they are feeling. Intuiting may help bring about awareness but it by no means produces knowledge and so it is not another way of knowing any more than gambling is another way or drinking is another way. We use intuition all the time – especially in sales – so the point that bears remembering is that it has nothing to do with the cards and everything to do with the perceptive abilities of the card reader seeing the signals put forth by the person sitting across from him or her.


        • I don’t understand. If the card reader perceives something, is that not then her knowledge? She might not be fully conscious of it, or put it into words, but she knows the person across the table better than before the perception.


      • Clare, you ask If the card reader perceives something, is that not then her knowledge? It may be knowledge but it’s not discovered by ‘another way of knowing’. You presume an accurate perception comes from intuition. This is clearly not true. Perception comes from the physical and material reality we inhabit. When intuition is accurate, it is because of the reader has correctly identified subtle indications. This is why in a reading, the reader asks a zillion questions, makes a zillion corrections, and eventually whittles down the reading to what the customer agrees is true. But in blind studies, tarot readers show zero increased ability to ‘see’ anything true about the customer from the cards alone or a disembodied voice answering either ‘true’, or ‘false’. The card part of the reading is nothing but a front; what is being ‘read’ comes from the customer alone, which is why the business has many kinds of fronts… fronts like tea leaves and seances and so on. There are no mysterious forces at work that provide ‘another way of knowing’; it’s a matter of questions and answers while watching (and listening) for ‘tells’ commonly used by all of us.


        • But is she aware of that, or does it feel like inspiration?

          With some, the spotting the tells is unconscious, and the unconscious knowing bubbles up, perhaps through a voice identified as a spirit guide.

          No, I did not think the patterns of the cards produced knowledge, but we can create meaning with the card which comes up. It fits something as a Synchronicity, and feels right, and leads us where we need to go.


      • My point is that we have one of knowing: we gather evidence and test it against reality for confirmation. The meaning we create belongs to us and not some exterior agency.

        Perhaps you are unaware of what effect having a bicameral brain has on our meaning-making. In effect, we have two brains working (mostly) in tandem. Different parts specialize in different functions. What you think of as your ‘conscious’ brain is very much your prefrontal cortex, but this is the tip of the iceberg. (We tend to visualize a tiny little drive sitting at some control panel between and behind our eyes and call this driver ‘I’. But no such central ‘I’ exists.) Your brain works ceaselessly, almost all which you are blissfully unaware. The knowledge this ongoing functioning produces can ‘bubble up’ into consideration of the prefrontal cortex without hauling in mysterious forces. But the bicameral nature of our brains means there is ongoing competition for attention (as the same input is considered by different parts of the brain), in the sense of our prefrontal cortex assigning more or less importance to the various considerations of the processing. In addition, the prefrontal cortex is almost shut out of highly stimulating encounters because of how the chemical cascade initiates parts of our biology over which the prefrontal cortex has no input or very limited control.

        So when you mythologize ‘voices’ you hear, you are assigning to these various considerations a ‘spirit’ voice. But again, we have to be careful about the words we use because they contain meaning that can be misleading.

        As you’re probably aware, the meaning of the word ‘spirit’ (from spiritus, meaning ‘breath’) implies the seat of vitality (the soul in religio-speak), which is an ancient notion about requiring agency for motion. This understanding is called Vitalism, and it has been thoroughly debunked by modern biology (thank you, Galileo). Many of the ‘ancient’ traditions over which so many of us in the West are enamored use this misleading understanding as if it were some hidden and powerful mysterious source as the basis for understanding the effect of various activities and treatments… effects that mistakenly attributed and then appear to support the assumption that vitalism is in play. But it is factually incorrect: we do not possess any ‘vital’ force beyond the functioning of our biology – and the chemistry and physics that drive them.

        This is important because once we get over this faith-based hurdle, this belief in vitalism that does not exist in reality, we can get to work collecting evidence from reality (rather than our assumptions) and testing it against reality for confirmation. This is why faith-based beliefs of all kinds in all manner of garb produce not one jot, not one tiddle, not one bit of knowledge. And we know this because we cannot transfer this so-called knowledge, from this so-called ‘other way of knowing’, into practical applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time. Faith-based beliefs hinder gathering evidence from reality for testing for confirmation against reality and substitute supernatural forces of agency with hidden meanings, purposes, intentions, desires, etc., wrapped up in a bow of mysticism and spirituality and presented as if it were a different kind of knowledge. It’s not a different kind; it’s a surefire method of increasing credulity and gullibility for snake oil sales of woo.


    • Dear Tildeb

      I believe, as you state so carefully, that “my dancing with intention causes an effect in reality.” That is because, just by being, I am powerful. By existing, I am productive of effects, whether I can see them or not.

      Therefore I disagree that

      “For me to link the two requires some mechanism that is independent of my belief alone for the claim to have any intellectual integrity at all” though I agree that there are many, many people who witness life in these terms.

      I believe that reality is rather like an iceberg – we can see some of it, but the vast majority of its creative forces are hidden. To me, that does not matter….my beliefs are simply the tools I use to enjoy a more rewarding life; whereas the motivation behind fear based rantings, is to instil a belief in separateness, in specialness and in the justified hatred against those who are “not like us”.

      Not all Christians, creationists and theists are deluded. Besides, we can check whether a belief serves us, by asking, does the way I live my life increase the sum total of happiness? Or does it strike fear and loathing in the hearts of others….



      • I am speaking of attributing a specific cause with a specific effect. For this to be true, there needs to be a means by which we can test how to link this cause with this effect. Claims about god or other mysterious forces causing all kinds of specific effects, claims about the nature, intentions, purposes, meanings, do not successfully do this. We are left with nothing but the assertion, the assumption, the presumption that the link is true. In this matter, such claims are not evidence for delusion; they are equivalent to delusion with no means to test if in fact they are anything but delusion. When I claim your illness/pain/dysfunction is ’caused’ by a vertebral subluxation that produces the effect of interfering with your body’s innate vital intelligence, what I am really saying is that I’m making a claim that is equivalent to making stuff up.

        You would have me accept that providing evidence independent of this assertion doesn’t matter as long as you feel there is benefit to you, and that by criticizing the claim for failing to provide independent evidence for the asserted cause to the asserted effect by the asserted mechanism is not warranted for any compelling reasons but is a “fear based rantings, is to instil a belief in separateness, in specialness and in the justified hatred against those who are “not like us.”

        Well, Ann, it’s not. It is what it is – a criticism that statements of beliefs of causal effect untethered to the reality we share are a way to guarantee that we allow ourselves to be fooled. That you find a deeper level of happiness in this allowance does not mitigate its equivalence to delusion one iota.


  4. The anti-gay people never quote the parts of the bible that condone slavery, force a woman to marry her rapist to show honor/ respect to her family, allow for multiple wives, condone women being stoned (not the men) for adultery (with no proof necessary) and so on. They only want to quote what they feel is useful to them… which to me makes their opinions based on the bible completely invalid because they can’t have it both ways. I think their hatred is based on their fears of change and the unknown. – – I don’t know if you’ve read this before but it’s from the Gospel of Philip in the Nag Hammadi Scriptures: Sex and Spirit (#78,25-79,13). There’s no distinction of male or female, just species. It states “Humans have sex with humans, horses have sex with horses, donkeys have sex with donkeys. Members of a species have sex with members of the same species. So also spirit has intercourse with spirit, word mingles with word, light mingles with light. (and it continues.) The Gospel of Philip was one of the books that Constantine “the Great” did not want included in the bible when it’s books were being complied. He and other men left out the books that weren’t in line with what they wanted people to think/ believe.


    • I went to Wikipedia, and found about the Muratorian Fragment, probably listing the current four gospels, probably from AD170. Constantine became emperor in 306. I am suspicious of Gnosticism, since I read of it aged about 20, and read it distinguished flesh (sarx), which was evil, from spirit (pneuma) which was good. With John, I say “The Word became flesh”: my physical body is Good.

      The anti-gay people do not accept that the Centurion’s pais whom Jesus cured was probably the centurion’s lover, or that David’s love for Jonathan, more than his love for women, was gay. No-one lives by the Bible. Everyone picks and chooses from the Bible, and even Evangelical churches let divorcees be members. You are right. One may show at least equal respect for the Bible, and not condemn gay lovemaking.


  5. I found that in the compliation of texts in the Nag Hammadi scriptures, there are some that sound like they were written by men with a politcal objective and/or for power, like (in my opinion) some books in the bible were written. And then other books in the N.H. scriptures are very esoteric. I guess it’s like anything preached or taught by any man, even today, one has to put their prejudices and fears aside and listen with their heart to find the truth of things. (Thanks for your response. I just found the section – in WordPress Reader – that showed I had responses waiting. Oh well.)


      • Absolutely. A woman should be stoned to death if she is not a virgin at the marriage, and her husband does not accept her. He takes the bloodless sheet out, and it is evidence against her. Patriarchy. Worthless.

        The Gospel of Thomas I love. The Gospel of Philip is too long for me, and I have heard the suggestion that it has fallen out of order: at one time the text copied was not in page order. I have not read it, I am afraid. The translation I found did not have the page references, so I could not find your example.

        But it is the goodness of my physical body, its value, its beauty, which drives me from Gnosticism. I am unsure about esoteric knowledge: I believe I am in the Kingdom of Heaven. Human beings are good, doing our best under difficult circumstances. That is the knowledge or belief to get me there.


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