March 31, 2009

A: On the one hand, you despise anthropomorphism and heap scorn upon the masses who believe monkeys to be the sine qua non of creation.

B: That’s right.

A: And you hold most of religion to be fairy tales foisted upon the gullible to placate the ignorant and succor the fearful and to keep charlatans in positions of power.

B: Succinctly put.

A: And you believe what most call God to be a projection of the human psyche, a defense mechanism against an indifferent and callous universe.

B: On the one hand.

A: And on the other, you believe God to be a metaphor, a way to express —

B: or reify —

A: Our most noble impulses. You use the term “God” as a Buddhist uses a finger pointing at the moon.

B: I’m no Zen master.

A: Yet God is your koan.

B: Again, well put. I grant all of your observations and summations.

A: You are generous.

B: And you are kind.

A: But how can you square the circle? How can you hold, on the one hand, religion to be bogus and God as projection and defense mechanism —

B: In the one hand —

A: And in the other God as metaphor and ineffable expression of all that is noble and good within us?

B: Do I contradict myself?

A: You drape yourself in dichotomies.

B: I am huge. I contain multitudes.

A: And you employ literary references as some wear armor.

B: The pen is mightier than the sword.

A: And your tongue sharper than any blade.

B: Touché.


Animal Nature

March 30, 2009

We will never escape our animal nature. As such, our demons — aggression, murder, starvation, disease — will always be with us. We needn’t wait for the apocalypse, needn’t wait for the hoofbeats of the dread horsemen to realize this truth.


We will never escape our animal nature. As such, our noblest impulses — love and compassion — will never desert us. For the beauty of God breathes within the souls of beasts:


In 2003, police in Warwickshire, England, opened a garden shed and found a whimpering, cowering dog. It had been locked in the shed and abandoned. It was dirty and malnourished, and had clearly been abused.

In an act of kindness, the police took the dog, which was a greyhound female, to the nearby Nuneaton and Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary, run by a man named Geoff Grewcock and known as a willing haven for animals abandoned, orphaned or otherwise in need.

Geoff Grewcock and the other sanctuary staff went to work with two aims: to restore the dog to full health, and to win her trust. It took several weeks, but eventually both goals were achieved.

They named her Jasmine, and they started to think about finding her an adoptive home.

The dog had other ideas. No-one remembers now how it began, but Jasmine started welcoming all animal arrivals at the sanctuary. It wouldn’t matter if it was a puppy, a fox cub, a rabbit or, probably, a rhinoceros, Jasmine would peer into the box or cage and, where possible, deliver a welcoming lick.

Geoff Grewcock relates one of the early incidents. “We had two puppies that had been abandoned by a nearby railway line. One was a Lakeland Terrier cross and another was a Jack Russell Doberman cross. They were tiny when they arrived at the centre and Jasmine approached them and grabbed one by the scruff of the neck in her mouth and put him on the settee. Then she fetched the other one and sat down with them, cuddling them.”

“But she is like that with all of our animals, even the rabbits. She takes all the stress out of them and it helps them to not only feel close to her but to settle into their new surroundings.

“She has done the same with the fox and badger cubs, she licks the rabbits and guinea pigs and even lets the birds perch on the bridge of her nose.”

Jasmine, the timid, abused, deserted waif, became the animal sanctuary’s resident surrogate mother, a role for which she might have been born. The list of orphaned and abandoned youngsters she has cared for comprises five fox cubs, four badger cubs, 15 chicks, eight guinea pigs, two stray puppies and 15 rabbits.

And one roe deer fawn. Tiny Bramble, 11 weeks old, was found semi-conscious in a field. Upon arrival at the sanctuary, Jasmine cuddled up to her to keep her warm, and then went into the full foster mum role. Jasmine the greyhound showers Bramble the roe deer with affection and makes sure nothing is matted in her fur.

“They are inseparable,” says Geoff Grewcock. “Bramble walks between her legs and they keep kissing each other. They walk together round the sanctuary. It’s a real treat to see them.”

Jasmine will continue to care for Bramble until she is old enough to be returned to woodland life. When that happens, Jasmine will not be lonely. She will be too busy showering love and affection on the next orphan or victim of abuse. (Source)

The Eye of God

March 18, 2009

Beautiful, isn’t it?


It is also known as The Helix Nebula.

Now I look forward to the discovery of the Asshole of God. Oh, right:


(File this observation under the heading Anthropomorphism and its Discontents.)

He who is without sin

March 17, 2009


[His stone gathering behavior] implies that [chimps] have a highly developed consciousness, including life-like mental simulations of potential events. They most probably have an ‘inner world’ like we have when reviewing past episodes of our lives or thinking of days to come

Notes to MS “engineers”:

March 13, 2009

Computers are machines
Machines are used by people
People are not machines

∴ Design software for people

Apotheosis of Servility

March 2, 2009

“God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next…. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.

Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me –still He knows what He is about.”

John Henry Newman, Meditations and Devotions (Source)

One of the things that I hate most is the arrogance of our species. To religious types, humans are the sine qua non, the being without which the universe would be meaningless.

(To patriotic types, America is the sine qua non, the country without which the world would be meaningless.)

Such stupidity and such arrogance surely spring from infinite wells of insecurity and fear. Oh, irony! That the so-called “wise ape” needs servility blankets: patriotism and God.