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Pondering the South African Memesphere – Looking for the Good in Everything

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A “New” Focus

March 2nd, 2008 · Posted by Hugo · 10 Comments

Much of the high rate of posts on this blog come from a place of wondering what direction to take. I probably contradicted myself often. This weekend, as I was doing a couple of thesis corrections before final publication (highly depressing to make minor corrections to something that seems majorly weak), and as I was making some food and pondering the direction my life is to take in the following months, I’m settling on a new focus. While I remain keen on education (including science and critical thinking), I still had a big headache on how directly I was prepared to let this clash with particular kinds of religious doctrines. It seems that headache has been removed from its pedestal, and has become one of the “side issues”.

I’m leaning increasingly towards more of a humanist focus, at least in my mind. Whether this will spill over into blog posts, I don’t know, but having a positive focus will help me avoid being dragged down by headaches in the future. The current queue of post ideas will likely still be written and published without too many adjustments, but hopefully the effects of my new (personal) focus will have a positive impact on the writing. I intend to emphasize compassion and parallels between diverse traditions, in an attempt to bring attention to the fact the we are all really in the same boat*, even if we don’t always realise it. Maybe I could focus on helping develop a “post-church spirituality”, to employ what might be one of the South African blogosphere’s buzzwords. (If you’re not sure what “spirituality” is yet: think a sense of “reverence”, a feeling of wonder at existence, an appreciation, or something along those lines.)

I’m also eager to drop a few twigs into the cogs of the New Atheist Publicity Machine. (Sweet: I replaced the propaganda word, “propaganda”. I’m still not quite happy with the phrase, but I’m too lazy to find a better edit. Suggestions?) I have been avoiding pushing twigs in that direction while I was contemplating mutually exclusive directions this blog could take. (Yes, twigs in gears are picky, the stuff I’d done in the past was rather something like haphazard and meaningless stone throwing. ;) ) It’s great that the average level of humanity’s consciousness is being raised, but I’d like to see if I can add my two cents in aid of raising the level of the “new atheists’” consciousness as well, still believing that encouraging compassion and mutual understanding all around can only be beneficial. (As long as you don’t get paralysed by compassion, naturally. Fat chance of that happening though.) Oh, and those are South African cents, I’m trying to destroy any remaining delusions of grandeur here. This’ll return to being “my personal little blog”.

Facebook people: I’m still curious if there’s any yay’s or nay’s when it comes to the question of whether I should continue importing my blog into Facebook notes. Any feedback on that, anyone?

*I wonder if Kevin is still around. Was he able to hold on through the rough roller-coaster ride that I experienced the last few months to be?

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10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ben-Jammin' // Mar 3, 2008 at 1:07 am

    EAC operative #1: (singing) Greasing the cogs, greasing the cogs, greasing the…wait a minute…where did these twigs come from? Stop the machine! Stop the machine!

    EAC operative #2 (runs over to look) Sabotage! Start warming up the black helicopters!

    EAC helicopter pilot: But, sir! We just started the kittens roasting on the grill!

    …and I’m out of silly humor. :)

  • 2 gerhard // Mar 3, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    talking of being in the same boat and not realizing it …. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/28/the-language-of-autism/index.html?ex=1361941200&en=539b83f6c8994672&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

    hugo , i have so much to comment on your post but am pretty sure we’ll end up agruing again so i’ll try keep it to a minimum… for instance , it is my opinion, that you are doing exactly what they seem to be doing from your point of view .. could i advise you so consider something like god delusion by what is being said? ie. listen to which god dawkins is saying is horrific and delusional? and not argue about how his definition is evil compared to your definition of god? i’m just saying … maybe try comparing peas to peas for a change :) he is being very compassionate by saying ‘stop this young earth/indoctrination nonesense ‘…

  • 3 Hugo // Mar 3, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    *sigh*. How about you see what direction I take my blog in, and then you tell me I’m wrong?

  • 4 Hugo // Mar 3, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Oh… and…

    and not argue about how his definition is evil compared to your definition of god?

    When did I say his definition is evil? Please find me some evidence? Thanks…

    for instance , it is my opinion, that you are doing exactly what they seem to be doing from your point of view

    Now suppose it is my opinion that you are also doing exactly what they seem to be doing, but from your point of view? Tralalala… So… what are we going to do about this? Eh? What do you suggest?

  • 5 Hugo // Mar 3, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Oh, and why an argument now might be a little bit different from previous arguments: I’m now free to tell you exactly what I think, whereas I was previously hesitant to lay it out in detail. Doing so would have made my blog and I less effective in the direction I was thinking of taking it. I was trying my best to get people like you to stop fighting me, so that I can go ahead and make a real “contribution”. Congratulations, you drained me to the point where I’ve actually given up. (Ironic that that kind of “contribution” might actually be the kind that you would have approved of.)

    I do thank you for this though, because I’ve come to the conclusion it would be a bad direction anyway. The time-wasting arguments I had with you stalled me, giving me more time to think and rethink, up to the point where I made the decision expressed in this post. This switch in focus actually allows me to argue against you more explicitly.

  • 6 Negate // Mar 4, 2008 at 12:11 am

    >listen to which god dawkins is saying is horrific and delusional? and not argue about how his definition is evil compared to your definition of god?

    Gerhard read some of hugo’s earlier posts and comments, he already stated he knows the “god” Dawkins is talking about and the “god” he and some others are talking about is different. Perhaps some people are afraid that Dawkins is able to capture the minds of young people and that in effect drives them away from any and all gods. that bothers allot of modernists because it can diminish the certain strain of hope in “god” that they wont to get across.

    Faith can be destructive when in the hands of greedy men, but atheists like Dawkins must not try and destroy faith because it’s like trying to destroy hope. Hope? In theistic language it would be, we have to be grateful that god allowed us to live on earth after we tasted the forbidden fruit. In atheist language we are lucky that all the atoms came together as they did, that gave us this wonderful opportunity at experience life once. It is easy to give simple answers to seemingly simple questions but these are profoundly deep questions. Our survival instincts tell us to put our interests first. If our existence didn’t have a death clause in it there would be no reason for us to kill each other. We killed each other for resources, land and ambitions. We are arrogant in our nature to give purpose to everything and then driving that arrogant purpose towards ourself. My purpose, your purpose, there purpose, our purpose, what hugo meant is simple, we are all in the same boat, desperately seeking for purpose. If we have no purpose then why did we evolve in such a way to ask other human beings of purpose? Spirituality(“god”, Buddha, evolution etc) gives us that sense of wonder and curiosity about our existence in this Universe.

    “The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I am a a devoutly religious man.” –Einstein

    It’s easy to reduce existence to birth, life then death, but what is important is the sense of wonder that we all must experience, while living. God is a one of the beautiful ways we can use to experience the wonders of the world. Personally I’m at wonder of the world if I look through the science, psychology and behavior glasses.

    >he is being very compassionate by saying ’stop this young earth/indoctrination nonesense ‘…

    My existence started 4 billions years ago, maybe even longer ago. Its just amazing. When truth seeking atheist like Dawkins, me and you Gerhard look at the earth we see it for what it is. The truth hurt me, it was not easy to accept there is no life after death, but after the initial hurt, I kinda felt liberated. Perhaps you felt the same Gerhard? Gerhard what is your opinion on people that believe in god and evolution, big bang etc? If we look at history all new theories were always at first rejected then fought then accepted. Its only matter of time when people cant fight evolution anymore then it would god would be adapted to evolution( I’m shore some theists are rolling there eyes) I also think people like hugo are trying to take theists into a new age.

  • 7 Hugo // Mar 4, 2008 at 12:24 am

    Thanks Negate.

    On the bite-of-the-apple metaphor, I’d rather say our ability to ponder existential questions, in a way our species evolving consciousness, is our biting of the apple. While I really cannot know for sure, I don’t think many animals suffer from existential angst, they’ve not “bitten the apple”, they’ve not evolved to a point where they thirst for knowledge in the way we do.

    With regards to Gerhard: Gerhard, I want to know what’s your beef with me. I suggest it is largely you making assumptions about me, for which I cannot really blame you, as I have not been particularly clear on a number of issues.

    But that’s the thing: I don’t like how people jump to assumptions without enough info. Gerhard, you strike me as “evangelical”, trying to push your worldview onto other people, while I don’t strike myself as that at all. I never asked you to believe in any God. (I was laying some foundations of the theistic language, trying to facilitate understanding of the theistic worldview.)

    So here’s the thing: I find beauty in humanity’s “spiritual traditions”, I find profound truths about humanity in the Bible, as I do in other religious and ancient texts. I also know of all the danger, all the issues, I’m very aware of the majority of Dawkins’ concerns, I’m just taking a different path to address those. Is that allowed, or must we all bow down and worship Dawkins’ “solution” to the problem?

    ;-)

  • 8 Ben // Mar 4, 2008 at 1:57 am

    Is that allowed, or must we all bow down and worship Dawkins’ “solution” to the problem?

    No, no, no. The only person whose solutions you have to bow down and worship are those of your wife. That’s the rules I’ve learned, anyway. :)

  • 9 gerhard // Mar 5, 2008 at 11:04 am

    When did I say his definition is evil? Please find me some evidence?

    ehm, dude, just look at in which context you keep mentioning dawkins and god delusion/similar works. you may not come out and directly call his work evil but man, you constantly put down his/their work even going as far as calling it tripe. (may not be _exact_ wrong word used) He’s talking about a specific set of behaviours that are evil and laying out a secular model of god/need of god. You have issues with this. You equate lack of god or a secular view of god as, just like negate seems to think , as an attack at hope and faith. Or am i wrong on this? please correct me if i am.

    btw, for me , the irony is that i dont even like the books like gd and writers like dawkins (within religious context) that much (ie. in no way is that something i would describe as my god or my religion), but in face of such daftly extream critisism (mostly unrelated to what is actually being said) one has to stand up to something like that. I personally do think that in case a god doesnt excist that a secualar understanding of why man believes in god and why man shouldnt believe in god is extreamly valueble. (did u know that there are death sentences in some countrys for things that they/I write? )

    Now suppose it is my opinion that you are also doing exactly what they seem to be doing, but from your point of view?

    yeah , so ? i dont pretend to do otherwise do i? i suggest we stop pretending that we’re not being evengelical (ie. trying to promote ones own world view).
    hugo , i have no problems with you , i dont dislike you, i like you, i just have issues with you being antagonistic while bitching about hitchens/dawkins/dennit/ being antagonistic. Don’t take my saying that personal, its not meant as such, its an communicated observation.

    negate, i know he has said so in previous posts but alas you need to ask him if he has actually read the books he has such strong opinions about … which he has also said .. he doesnt have time for … alas my issue isnt with what he is/was trying to do , I respect that , i do. i take issue with specific claims /propaganda/arguments made and will comment on it even if my ability be it some what limited.

    to answer your question, i think mostly that they are acting like children who don’t want to let go of a fantasy ideal of the world, i dont think it has to do with hope or faith. hope and faith are _anywhere_ you look for them and mostly depend on your mind set. Its not about compassion or love either, it to me is about selfish power struggles and belonging, to build up walls so they can be on a side of the fence all while building up guard towers claiming they are there for tearing the walls down but really just building them to protect the wall. (ie. to evolve the delusion so that the delusion can be maintaind). the intention and the result are two very different things.

    I dont know how to explain this except maybe draw a parallel to homoepathy. Essentially , it can be a good placebo, but _alot_ of people take it too far , even more so take the promotion and reverence of it too far .. no one has issues with the placebo itself nor with some reverence, but to explain everything so that it is based on the placebo to legitify it or attack anything saying it is a placebo or even redefine language so that placebo doesnt mean placebo… shoe .. that is just scary to me. Because it allows for the placebo to be limitless. It allows the placebo to be taken for hiv or malaria with colourful results :)

    ben : hail to the wife oh wise one.

  • 10 Hugo // Mar 5, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    yeah , so ? i dont pretend to do otherwise do i?

    Fair enough. I don’t like that people assume things I don’t say, but from now on, I’ll try to make fewer sweeping statements that lead to incorrect assumptions. After all, I want to be able to call Shofar on that one… (41)

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