Sunday, September 21, 2014

Talkin' 'bout My Generation

Source: Pew Research
There is a wonderful passage near the end of the book Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, written by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, that could be accidentally minimized or even ignored by the reader.

But if one gives more than a passing glance, I conclude that these brief sentences offer themselves as both profound and prophetic.  They follow:

"Taken together, these dramatic societal shifts—often in ten generations or less—provide a compelling refutation of the claim that we are condemned, without hope of reprieve, to live out our lives in a barely disguised chimpanzee social order. Moreover, the shifts are occurring so swiftly that they cannot possibly be due to natural selection. Instead, our culture must be drawing forth propensities and predispositions that already reside deep within us.”

So what does this mean to us? What could it reveal about our lives and how could these words inform our perspective and future? Or for that matter impact our children and their children's perspective and future?

Let's say for the sake or argument that modernity, defined here as when the modern world truly took shape, occurred in the year 1859. I chose this year, as it is the publication date of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species (here is a free .pdf copy of the book).

Through synthesis, observation and experience Darwin essentially wrote a codex which unlocked ancient nature for so many of our modern disciplines. Origin liberated our ideas about humanity's place in nature. The book's theories also laid the foundation for modern biology, medicine, chemistry, geography, geology anthropology and numerous other fields.

So look where we are in terms of modernity and within the generation you find your birth year (or in between). This assumes a generation is separate and apart from the previous generation by 25 years):
Year of Modernity
                C. 2014. The Paleolibrarian

What can this tell us about the Freethought movement?  If Sagan and Druyan's assumptions are correct then within no more than ten generations significant cultural change will occur in a given society. Since 1859, and as the proposed year of modernity, this certainly can be seen as true.

With the rise of the global non-belief movement, especially with the rise of the "Nones", we are seeing great shifts in the number of people who are non-believers. We're seeing as can be expected great increases in the number of people who have no religious faith, or who may be spiritual but not religious and who also accept the reasoned the Law of Natural Selection.

By some estimates there are more than one billion people across the globe who are faithless. Non-faith is the third largest "faith" group behind Islam and Christianity. And while Islam's numbers grow because of higher birth rate and Christianity's numbers tilt towards decline, those who are born atheists remain so and these numbers are increasing.

This trend cannot be stopped unless non-believers are rounded up, locked away and are not allowed to procreate.

Source: Pew Research
When you consider we are at best just six generations from modernity that still leaves global society about 100 years to dial down its faith perspective and raise subsequent generations more rationally and less religiously. Combining the growth post-modernity with new found political power and social impact, the more activated non-believers become the greater we can shape the secular humanist rights movement and also the democratic secularist movement.

While some may feel frustrated that a more reasoned and less religious world culture has not yet come to pass, if we reflect and understand that we're just about half-way through the modernity tunnel we may gain a greater appreciation for who and where we are right now.

But make no mistake, a fraction of this light is just starting to beam in. We may not be able to guide ourselves by it just yet but as long as we have each other and as long as the numbers bend towards non-belief's  favor we'll certainly get there. This statement isn't based on pure exposition and hope but on the real and factual numbers related to non-belief and demography.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Danger of Unrelenting Religious Terrorism

Members of ISIL on the march
Two American journalists and now a British aid worker beheaded by those who choose to use the sword to make their point rather than diplomacy or numerous other channels to convey their ideas, views and religious faith. This represents a humanist and secular crisis on the order of other genocides carried out by ISIL since gaining military power in the vacuum of leadership within the region or outside of it.

All three men murdered knew that theirs was a serious profession. Two were willing to risk their lives to report on the ongoing wars and sectarian violence occurring in the hotbed of battle across Iraq, Syria and other states within the Middle-east. The other, a humanitarian aid worker, helping to rebuild and bring urgent and fundamental resources like clean water and food supplies to those who had become refugees in all the fighting.

Each of the men kidnapped lead different lives up until they were offered to ISIL. In the end each was held for ransom and each man paid the ultimate sacrifice for his labors through a video taped barbaric beheading. The intent of the tapes are to show power but in reality they show cowardice.

Mr. David Haines
While I do not know the spiritual beliefs of British aid worker David Haines, the organization he volunteered for, ACTED, appears to be a non-denominational NGO. According to the organization’s website its purpose is to raise funds and provide humanitarian support to those impacted by war. This is a very noble cause indeed.

David Haines, acting as a humanist, was not profiled in Godless Grace. However, others like him who do provide humanitarian support for those impacted by social, political or economic violence are profiled. And many do recall their own terror at times doing their work in overtly religious regions and nations.

Sam Harris has an excellent post on his website regarding the religious extremest threat. The title being "Sleepwalking to Armageddon." Apparently, it was offered to The Wall Street Journal and also Slate but each turned it down. I recommend it highly.

The response to ISIL’s violence is not a “clash of civilizations” as will be portrayed as propaganda by the group and their few equally radical supporters. But it will serve as a global reason to refrain from using one’s religious faith either as a cause for good or evil since both concepts are subjective. It is a call for all who call themselves Humanists or secularists, either as individuals and within their nations, to stand up and repudiate such horrible religious violence, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The response to this religious fanaticism IS NOT anti-faith. The response does and should stand against the anti-humanist and the pro-fascist stance brought to the forefront by ISIL and those groups who would use their religious faith and doctrine as justification for terrible violence.

ACTED has put out a press release. I offer it to you below. I also urge you to view their website which I have linked to in this post. 

“ACTED Communique on the Assassination of David Haines 

ACTED aid agency is deeply appalled and horrified by the assassination of David Haines. ACTED strongly condemns with the utmost of force these crimes. In this tragic moment, our thoughts are with his family, friends and loved ones. 

All of the ACTED team empathise and share their pain. David was a new member of the ACTED team supporting the emergency humanitarian response for the displaced Syrian people in Atmeh camp near to the Turkish border. 

David was appreciated by the ACTED team and all those around him, notably for his generosity, commitment, and his professionalism. Since his abduction, David has constantly been at the forefront of our minds and efforts. David will remain in the hearts and minds of everyone in ACTED. 

The horrible assassination of David, an aid worker, goes against all humanitarian principles and is a crime against humanity. This barbaric crime must not remain unpunished.”

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

13 Years

WTC - Never Forget

Never forget the innocents who perished.

Never forget the brave who entered the buildings and never returned home.

Never forget those who took control of their fate in Pennsylvania.

Never forgive the human excrement who wanted to be remembered this way.

Never let those who would place blame on the victims obscure the evil planned and executed that horrible day.

Never forget to love and hug the ones closest to you

Never forget to say "I'm sorry" or to be present for those who smile when you enter a room.

Life is too short. Life is so special. Live every moment as if it were your last.

And let us remember.

In Memoriam.  September 11, 2001

The Paleolibrarian
September 11, 2014

Memorial for Flight 93 in
Shanksville, PA

The Pentagon -After the
Terrorist Attack