Benevolence, God and a Little Girl


‘Somewhere in the world a man has abducted a little girl. Soon he will rape, torture, and kill her. If an atrocity of this kind is not occurring at precisely this moment, it will happen in a few hours, or days at most. Such is the confidence we can draw from the statistical laws that govern the lives of six billion human beings. The same statistics also suggest that this girl’s parents believe—as you believe—that an all-powerful and all-loving God is watching over them and their family. Are they right to believe this? Is it good that they believe this?

No.

The entirety of atheism is contained in this response. Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply an admission of the obvious. In fact, “atheism” is a term that should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify himself as a “non-astrologer” or a “non-alchemist.” We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and their cattle.

Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs. An atheist is simply a person who believes that the 260 million Americans (87 percent of the population) claiming to “never doubt the existence of God” should be obliged to present evidence for his existence—and, indeed, for his benevolence, given the relentless destruction of innocent human beings we witness in the world each day. An atheist is a person who believes that the murder of a single little girl— even once in a million years—casts doubt upon the idea of a benevolent God.’

Harris. S. 2006. Letter To A Christian Nation p. 17-18

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Gympie Gympie


The Gympie-Gympie (pronounced gimpey-gimpey) is one of four species of stinging tree of the family Urticaceae in Queensland, Australia. It is said to have the most painful sting of any plant, not only in Australia, but the World.

“I like it when a flower or a little tuft of grass grows through a crack in the concrete. It’s so fuckin’ heroic.” – George Carlin

Although called a tree, the Gympie-Gympie is a soft-wooded shrub that can reach 4-5m, but is often found as a smaller shrub around 0.1-1m tall. It has broad, oval or heart-shaped leaves (which appear furry due to a dense covering of tiny stinging hairs) with saw-tooth edges, and white or purple-red fruit. The stems and fruit are also covered in the stinging hairs.

When touched, the tip of the hairs break off which turn the hairs into a self-injecting hypodermic needles. It is reported that brushing against it is like being burnt with hot acid and electrocuted at the same time.

The actual chemicals contained in the toxin are not completely understood; however, it is probably a peptide (organic chemical molecules made from linking amino acids together in a certain order) called moroidin, hence the plant’s taxonomic name Dendrocnide moroides.

After a person has been stung, the small hairs can become embedded in the skin, which can lead to long-term pain and sensitivity – there are many accounts of people suffering heavily for months from a sting.

Worse still, the Gympie-Gympie is just as capable of stinging when its leaves are dead. The toxin in the hairs seems unaffected by age.

One account a soldier in the bush during World War II was caught short of toilet paper, used the wrong leaf, and was in so much pain that he shot himself in an attempt ease the pain. In 1866 a surveyor reported that his pack horse was stung by the plant, went mad and died in two hours.

“…and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?” – Vincent van Gogh

Definition of Science


‘There are lots of definitions of science, but I’ll say it’s is a body of knowledge and a method of how we learn that knowledge.

Science tells us that the stuff we think we know may not be perfectly known; it may be partly or entirely wrong. We need to watch the universe, see how it behaves, make guesses about why it’s doing what it’s doing and try to think of ways to support or disprove those ideas.

That last part is important.

Science must be – above all else – honest, if we really want to get to the bottom of things. Understanding that our understanding might be wrong is essential, and trying to figure out the ways we may be mistaken is the only way that science can help us find our way to the Truth.

Or at least, the nearest approximation to it.

Science learns. We meander a bit as we use it, but in the long run we get closer and closer to understanding reality. And that is the strength of science. And it’s all around us.’

– Plait. P. (2015, January 15) Introduction to Astronomy: Crash Course Astronomy #1

28/v mmxv


A human being has about the same number of genes as a cabbage.

Pumpkin Island, Australia, has been renamed XXXX Island.

Lipstick can still contain lead, but no more than 20 parts per million; arsenic, but no more than 3 parts per million; and mercury, but no more than one part per million.

The Dutch for ‘piglet’ is big.

According to the Quran, the testimony of two women is needed to contradict that of a man.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

On Questioning


“The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

– Albert Einstein

Acrimonious [Adj.]


Angry, acid, and sharp in delivering argumentative replies: bitter; mean-spirited; sharp in language or tone.

Joey: Hey, if you wanna grab a bite before work we’d better get acrimonious.
[…]
Ross: Listen, if you don’t know what the word “acrimonious” means, just don’t use it.
– Friends (2003) Season 9, Episode 21; “The One with the Fertility Test” [No. 215]

The Happening of Truth


‘Heidegger believed that art was an alternative way of discovering the truth about the world and Nature.

[Heidegger]
“Art is the happening of Truth. It discloses Being without making it into a classifiable entity.”

In his essay “The Origin of the Work of Art” (1935). Heidegger turned to a painting of shoes by Van Gogh to explicate his point about art as “the happening of truth”:

“A pair of peasant shoes and nothing more. And yet – From the dark opening of the worn insides of the shoes the toilsome tread of the worker stares forth … In the shoes vibrates the silent call of the earth, its quiet gift of the ripening grain and its unexplained self-refusal in the fallow desolation of the wintry field.”

Heidegger’s argument is that Van Gogh’s painting re-creates the lived context of the peasant’s life. Because the painting achieves this, Heidegger concludes:

[Heidegger]
“Van Gogh’s painting is the disclosure of what the equipment, the pair of peasant shoes, is in Truth.”

Heidegger’s reading of Van Gogh’s painting is part of the tradition of hermeneutics, in which the work of art is seen as a clue or symptom for a wider sense of reality.’

– Kul-Want. C. (2012) Aesthetics London, United Kingdom: Icon Books p. 98-100

The Good in the “Good Book”


‘Along with most Christians, you believe that mortals like ourselves cannot reject the morality of the Bible. We cannot say, for instance, that God was wrong to drown most of humanity in the flood of Genesis, because this is merely the way it seems from our limited point of view. And yet, you feel that you are in a position to judge that Jesus is the Son of God, that the Golden Rule is the height of moral wisdom, and that the Bible is not itself brimming with lies. You are using your own moral intuitions to authenticate the wisdom of the Bible—and then, in the next moment, you assert that we human beings cannot possibly rely upon our own intuitions to rightly guide us in the world; rather, we must depend upon the prescriptions of the Bible. You are using your own moral intuitions to decide that the Bible is the appropriate guarantor of your moral intuitions. Your own intuitions are still primary, and your reasoning is circular.

We decide what is good in the Good Book. We read the Golden Rule and judge it to be a brilliant distillation of many of our ethical impulses. And then we come across another of God’s teachings on morality: if a man discovers on his wedding night that his bride is not a virgin, he must stone her to death on her father’s doorstep (Deuteronomy 22:13-21). If we are civilized, we will reject this as the vilest lunacy imaginable. Doing so requires that we exercise our own moral intuitions. The belief that the Bible is the word of God is of no help to us whatsoever.

The choice before us is simple: we can either have a twenty first century conversation about morality and human well-being—a conversation in which we avail ourselves of all the scientific insights and philosophical arguments that have accumulated in the last two thousand years of human discourse—or we can confine ourselves to a first century conversation as it is preserved in the Bible. Why would anyone want to take the latter approach?’

Harris. S. 2006. Letter To A Christian Nation p. 17