On April 19, I read a commentary in the Roanoke Times by Clonnie_Yearout; Yearout (gender unknown) was arguing for Creationism and against "Darwinism". I sent the following in reply. The Times printed at least two letters (by other people) replying to Yearout, but not this one.
FROM: John B. Hodges
TO: Editor, letters page
I would like this considered for a COMMENTARY or OP-ED.
Clonnie Yearout's commentary ("A Tale of…
I saw an article on Salon.com or perhaps AlterNet, and reading the comments I was moved to comment myself; I assembled the following out of material I already had on my blog, but in the comments I got several compliments on it, so perhaps this is a happy combination of elements. -JBH
Religion has its benefits and harms. One of the major harms that it does is to teach a false theory of ethics.
I once saw a TV movie, probably a BBC production, probably a movie version of a classic novel, a period costume drama set in England in the 1800's. It had several protagonists we were supposed to care about, and lots of soap opera. One protagonist was a man around 30 years of age, a minor relative of a wealthy family who had never been successful himself. Due to a tragedy, the major members of this family had died, and the whole estate was going to be divided among the more distant…Continue
UPGRADING OUR DEMOCRACY
In America we do democracy by dividing the territory into districts, and electing one representative from each district. We elect them by plurality, that is, by whichever candidate gets the most votes, whether or not they get an absolute majority. If there are three candidates, a candidate can win with 40% support, for example.
This is not the only way democracy can be done. Other countries, fully democratic, do it in other ways. The way we do…
(JBH) The following is something that I wrote a few years ago, for a list of supporters of election reform.
Subscribers to this list are likely to already be supporters of proportional representation. The method of PR most commonly used around the world, Party List, uses simple ballots easily counted by hand.
In Party List, each organized political party publishes a list of their candidates, in order of priority. Voters vote for one party.…
Added by John B Hodges on January 16, 2013 at 7:26am — No Comments
Gerrymandering is the deliberate drawing of district lines in such a way as to distort representation of subgroups of the population.
Consider Case 1: Suppose that a population is divided 60%/40% over some longstanding, continuing dispute. The A's have 60%, the B's have 40. The B's typically live in urban areas, the A's in suburbs and rural areas.
There are five districts, each of which elects one representative to the legislature.
If the A's are drawing the…
Added by John B Hodges on January 16, 2013 at 7:16am — No Comments
Recently I read an exchange of views between freethinkers about whether there was a historical Jesus that gave rise to the legends, or whether the Jesus character was entirely mythical. I found myself entirely unmoved.
I went through the four gospels to collect everything Jesus is reported to have said about what we should DO, all of his alleged ethical teachings. I wrote up my findings here:
I am a male standing 5 feet 10 inches, now 60 years of age. Almost three years ago, in January 2010, I stepped on the scale and saw 215 lbs; I decided to take action to begin losing weight. I have lost a bit over 35 lbs so far. I call what I have done a "Lazy Man's Diet" because it has been effortless; I have never gone hungry, never done exercise beyond what I was doing before, never suffered cravings or felt deprived. I have never counted calories, never weighed or measured my food beyond…Continue
August 11, 2011. A sizeable percentage of Americans are overweight or obese nowadays. I'll speak of my personal approach to this problem. A Lazy Man's Diet.
I am a single male, in my late 50's, 5'10" in height. I was very skinny growing up; in my 20's I weighed 130 lbs. In my 20's I was also vegetarian ("sattvic diet", including dairy), and I did not own a car, walked a lot. In my 30's I got a steady job, bought a car, adopted the "standard American diet" (also known as the SAD diet),…Continue
Katherine Stewart has an article on AlterNet:
Are Christian Fundamentalists Teaching Genocide in Our Schools?Continue
At Virginia Tech, on Wednesday evening March 21, there was a debate on the question "Does God Probably Exist?" I wanted to post comments on two of the arguments given.
One argument given was the "fine-tuning argument". One of the debaters was studying high-level academic philosophy, and they stated it thus:
Given the fine-tuning evidence, a life-permitting Universe (LPM) is very, very epistemically unlikely under the non-existence of a fine-tuner, and is not unlikely if a…
Added by John B Hodges on March 22, 2012 at 2:22pm — No Comments
WHITLOCK'S BLOOD LIBEL
Linda Whitlock (Dec.18) repeats yet again the "blood libel" against unbelievers, that only Creationism offers any basis for ethics.
Whitlock has it backwards. Religion offers no basis for ethics. Religious morality consists of obeying the alleged will of God, as reported by your chosen authority. But obedience is not the same as morality. If believers wish to make war or keep slaves or oppress…
Tom Jacobs has an article on AlterNet: Why Are People Still Afraid of Atheism?
The major point of the article is that atheists are less trusted because they don't believe that they are constantly watched by supernatural enforcers of social norms.
I suggest this reply:…
From THE AGE OF REASON, Part 2, section 20, by Thomas Paine:
Revelation then, so far as the term has relation between God and man, can only be applied to something which God reveals of his will to man; but though the power of the Almighty to make such a communication is necessarily admitted, because to that power all things are possible, yet the thing so revealed (if anything ever was revealed, and which, bye the bye, it is impossible to prove), is revelation to the person…Continue
Nov. 12, 1995; Why I am a former Objectivist and former Libertarian.Continue
Mike Huben writes: (begin quote)
One of my eventual projects for my Critiques of Libertarianism web site
is to present something on folks who have left, like yourself. If you
have any material about why people leave, including your own personal
history, I'd be very interested to get ahold of it. What first cracks
the certainty, what conspicuously doesn't work, what was the turnoff,…
This is something I wrote Spring 2004. Please forward as you think
appropriate. -John B. Hodges.
August 21, 1998. Defining five terms. Rand used the term "objective" differently than most philosophers.
Some definitions, from Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th edition.
OBJECTIVE: ... in the realm of sensible experience, independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers; having reality independent of the mind.... perceptible to persons other than the affected individual... OBJECTIVISM: an ethical theory that moral good is objectively real or…
On Friday March 4, there was an article on a right-wing Christian site:
Atheists Targeting Nation With Godless Media BlitzContinue
WRITTEN BY DAVE BOHON
FRIDAY, 04 MARCH 2011
Preface: The following essay was written in 1998, for the IOS discussion list. More recently I have had an exchange of views on an Objectivist site called "Noodlefood" where they (1) claimed that I had totally misunderstood Rand's argument (2) refused to present her argument, saying only that the choice of whether to live or die was **FUNDAMENTAL**, and that I should go back and do my homework. I have added a postscript at the bottom, in reply to these…Continue