everything wrong with free software

 "obedience breeds foolishness"

### [generate-title] other pages: => muckrights.html | *originally posted:* jan 2021 this article is really about a certain type of atheist, a common type that takes great pleasure in their love of reason and rejection of mythology. some may even declare religion so dangerous, so destructive, that they argue it would be better off banned. religion is not the only source of irrational thinking, and they know this, but religion is a special exception-- it is the most destructive, the most dangerous, the most irrational thing-- so even if it is impossible to eliminate irrational thinking, at least we should put religion in its place. after all, religion makes people stupid-- or at least less intelligent and less reasonable. this would be a straw man if applied to every atheist. richard stallman for example, amuses himself by telling people "there is no god", but he also dresses as a "saint" with a "halo" that is not actually a drive platter, but it was a drive platter "in another life". i do not think people should take offense to stallmans irreverent parody. it is not malicious, and it gently teases religion while also being a self-parody of stallmans passion for freedom. parody is okay. the most troubling problem, or the greatest inconsistency in the particular "brand" or "flavour" or "style" of atheism that i refer to, is surely something that many atheists (including stallman) have dabbled in. i too was an atheist once, and by some arguments i too am an atheist of a sort-- but if you are to choose between "theist", "atheist" or "agnostic" then it is the latter that decribes me most accurately-- from a technical standpoint, as well as a personal one. the sort of atheist i am describing is the sort of person to classify agnostics as "cowards" who "play both sides of the fence" or "cant decide" or who "accept a ridiculous story out of fear". i think it is obnoxious for someone who claims to love science and reason to refer to an agnostic as a coward who wont accept reason, when reason itself has no real dilemma that requires it to take a stand on god at all. going as far as to believe (as the strong atheist does) that there is certainly no god is a waste of time for reason, and certainly for science, which has testable rational theories to contend with ([url]https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/atheism-is-inconsistent-with-the-scientific-method-prizewinning-physicist-says/[url]). people of faith already largely cede that religion does not hinge on reason alone. i suppose an exception to this would be psychology, which has at least some cause to sort idle fantasies from dangerous delusions. but even in this context the strong atheist is bending reason to their own subjective preference, because psychology itself does not treat religion as a dangerous delusion unless it also behaves like one. in other words, psychology is not out to cure religious beliefs (nor irrational thoughts) unless they are doing the patient harm. if you want to wake up in the morning and say "today i am the eagle, i am the bird, i will fly" psychology is more concerned if this will get in the way of personal relationships (probably best not to voice your avian status to your boss or most of your coworkers) or if it means you might try to "fly" off a tall building. if you want to imagine yourself as a bird, psychology really only cares how far you take the idea. in fact, role play and visualisation (both of which can involve the hypothetical instead of the concrete or factual) are valid, useful tools of the trade. thus science doesnt care about religion, except when it gets in the way of science itself-- and even psychology doesnt care about religion, except when it significantly gets in the way of sanity. and then there are the atheists-- the calmest and most rational of which are not really at odds with someones personal beliefs, but the most zealous of which like to brag and mock about how their lack of belief implies a mental superiority. i think it is based on fear. this particular sort of atheist is afraid that religion has a unique power to corrupt, that it does more harm than good. part of the problem is the straw man and the circular reasoning that this fear is based on. the same people who are most likely to condemn religion altogether are the most likely to judge it based on the most superficial and foolish interpretations of religion itself. so you try to explain that "it is fundamentalism, literalism that makes religion dangerous-- it is hypocrisy, not religion that makes it dangerous" and they respond as though literalism (superficiality) is an artifact caused by religion itself; like you dont find similar problems everywhere else. most religious people are not crusaders, they are not interested in a holy war against the rest of the world (which isnt to say that political movements will not try to conquer in the name of a god, but they are frequently condemned by fellow believers for it, even as they are condemned by atheists) and so what is this alternative to religious fundamentalism in the argument of such an atheist-- just a convenient ploy to make religion acceptable? nationalism for example, can exist with or without religion. greed and global exploitation too, do not require religion-- they are distinctly materialist. imperialism too exists with or without religion-- which becomes a powerful excuse (it isnt us, we do this for our god) but the leaders of such empires are generally not too devoted religiously. one would assume that an objective and rational critique of religion would begin with an honest and thorough assessment of the thing being condemned. you wouldnt say "these people take this thing and use it as an excuse for conquest, murder and terrorism" when you base your own argument on metaphors too literally, while people who are far better (even on a formal and scholarly level) versed in the subject are pointing out "they are misinterpreting these ideas drastically, against the widely-accepted meaning of the tradition". the problem begins with fundamentalism and politics. but some people think religion is the primary cause of that. "theres no way this is post hoc fallacy". in other words, if i were trying to understand what made charles manson murderous and insane, i wouldnt say that beatles music was the cause-- particularly if beatles fans across the world, as well as psychologists, professors of literature and criminal experts were saying that "helter skelter doesnt say any of this". when examining religion, these atheists do it exactly the way the dangerously insane do: by taking things out of context, by taking metaphors literally, by ignoring centuries or even millennia of tradition where the vast majority of believers do not go to war or kill for their beliefs-- they focus on the equivalent of charles manson instead of looking at him against the backdrop of beatles fans (and other people subjected to the same lyrics). so does religion make people more dangerous? i think there are nearly [lit]/[lit] roughly a billion christians on earth. if we sent them all to live a safe distance from the rest of humanity, on proxima centauri for example, surely the world would be a safer more rational place, right? no more christians, now we can have a peaceful co-existence on earth. oh, we would have to send all the other religious people away as well? how many rational people would that leave to inhabit the earth? do we have a way of measuring rationality in those that remain? maybe we can quarantine people who remain irrational? maybe there is a surgery or drug that we can give people to keep them logical all the time? one thing we do know is that sleep is an integral part of biological human function, that the brain steps through various metaphorical and irrational processes during that time, that metaphors are useful for teaching and that ancient history sometimes falls into obscurity, legend and hyperbole. if we rid ourselves of religion, do we subject legend (or even obscure historical account) to this treatment also? it could conceivably be just as dangerous. to be certain, it is more common that people put misplaced or excessive faith in something, when it is not even required (but someone may expect it of them anyway). it is just as true that controlling and abusive relationships (where people are expected to be obedient without any justification) exist with or without religion, that abusive parents hold their family as a sort of hostage whether they believe in a god or not, that while some people rely on god to protect them in any situation, others will (without such belief) risk their life for the sheer thrill of an incredibly dangerous sport, literally leap off a cliff while trying to invent a flying apparatus without understanding flight, believe that "cruise control" (yes, automated driving is becoming a real thing now, but cruise control originally regulated speed only) is the same as "autopilot" so its safe for the driver to go to the back of the car while its engaged; that some people act like a condom makes it impossible to get pregnant or get an sti when its merely *very* good at preventing that on average, that a big coat makes it *impossible* to get hypothermia or that people believe settings in google or facebook applications will actually provide privacy. "look! [lit]/[lit] dont look". misplaced faith is a universal shortcoming, so of course it also applies to religion. but youll never disprove the point of someone who clings to such an idea as though life depends on it, so lets look at religion from the other side for a moment-- not even from the side of those who believe, but from the side of those who argue religion likely does *less* harm than good. there was a time when the pharmaceutical and psych industries were touting such amazing cures as heroin, cocaine and routine brain surgery to treat emotional and physical discomfort. on occasion, these industries will still push cures that are just as dangerous or destructive. your odds of going to a doctor for clinical depression and ending up shackled to a wall for years have diminished substantially, which is certainly progress, but the medical industry is far from always ethical. sometimes they still just want to see "if something works". which isnt to say that we havent made leaps and bounds, even if insurance pushes people farther from whats effective and more towards what profits insurance and pharmaceutical companies. they may have to treat you, but there is also a sort of bidding war going to see what kinds of things they can get away with trying-- getting it wrong the first few times may not benefit the insurance company but the pharmaceutical companies love it. take ten and call us the morning. no good? here, how about these instead? the world is definitely insane, but many (including those who are not themselves very religious) seem to think that worshipping money is even more dangerous than worshipping god, at least on average. but we were supposed to talk about the good points. i too was a strong atheist at an early age. it was not something anyone pushed me into-- i loved science (i still do) and i knew a lot of crazy people (in the bible belt) who went on and on about "god" and "jesus" and i thought it was *incredibly* boring and *weird*. to be certain, some people are consumed with the simple idea that jesus wants to help *everybody* and literally *all they have to do* is convert. so they go around converting people and tsking at the non-believers, and these are the obnoxious annoying people that some atheists remind me of. i have absolutely grown more tolerant of such people, but to this day they are still annoying. it took years for me to notice that most religious people really arent like that. theres certainly a high percentage among certain sects (those sects are still annoying!) but its terribly unfair to lump in kinder, more considerate people who happen to quietly pray at home (or with some group of people) and generally keep to themselves unless you ask. their idea of ministering is based on charity, more than crusading. but reasonable people are generally harder to notice when people are waving their arms and yelling at you to "be saved!" even weirder is pauls peculiar obsession with persian hellfire, which causes smiling idiots to say "god loves you, so join my religion or he will torture you forever!" gee, um... sorry, but i just remembered i have to go get a colonic irrigation, or something. these people do not represent religion very well, they really are a very broad sort of cult. of course a truly reasonable person will let me scoff at this while still saying "you know most of them are very far from that mentality" but i know many otherwise rational people to whom its really and truly all the same! they can hardly tell someone who has read the bible and not declared religion a pox on the human race from the simple fool who makes me a spicecake with a little card that says "jesus loves you-- ITS NOT TOO LATE TO GET SAVED!" sometimes they are simply missing out on a world where two seemingly opposing viewpoints can co-exist through heightened attention to context and commonality. but then, thats exactly what fundamentalism does. in fact one of my favourite celebrated mystical thinkers is none other than the father of physics himself, isaac newton; who like jimmy buffet was born on christmas (december 25th) but sometimes he was born in january-- darned calendars. im pretty sure if we had ever met (he was a bit before my time) he wouldnt have worried if id "accepted jesus" into my life yet-- not that he was christian-- just as a lot of christians dont, because they dont even take the words "no one comes to heaven except by me" so literally. for an atheist, thats just diplomacy and religious reform. to someone who has studied mysticism, its really no big deal at all. jesus is just alright, buddha is just alright-- in hinduism, when they find a new god from another tradition they often react by adopting them with an attitude somewhat like "oh! you must be one of ours". joseph campbell got into some posthumous trouble with a former colleague who insisted he was being antisemetic (its probably fairer to say he just didnt like monotheism) though funny story, early judaism wasnt necessarily so incompatible with pantheism. later on, the god of abraham got increasingly jealous of everybody else, but still while moses (also just alright) went around smashing idols, hinduism goes around collecting other peoples gods and saying "its cool, you can stay". the next time someone talks about "cultural appropriation", note that one of the oldest religions on the planet has welcomed most of the gods to show up since that time into their own homes. i watched a video of various incarnations of vishnu and krishna, and all of a sudden jesus shows up in the mix. i think, "whaaa?" but to be honest, jesus and krishna have loads in common. its cool, whatever. and the best part is, if youre NOT cool with that-- nobody cares. you can be hindu and whether you want something to do with jesus you can take him or leave him-- kaise tum kaho. in the west its a super big deal how you interpret the trinity. its a dealbreaker for most protestants, but i think for many catholics its very important how you do it, because if you do it "wrong" (or some argue, at all) then its polytheism, which is generally forbidden (a grave sin!) in monotheism. saat sri akaal, there is only one god! but there is monotheism within (and monothesists among) hinduism as well, where even dozens of gods have dozens of gods, in a manner of speaking. "youve got a pantheon? thats nice. weve got a pantheon of pantheons! in fact we have *several* pantheons of pantheons! weve got pantheons coming out of our freakin ears!" sikhism im told (but not all at once) is a syncretic monotheistic religion that brings together two other religions-- one monotheist and one polytheist. whether thats true or not (if i found a dozen people to confirm or correct it, i could probably find another dozen who said its nothing like that at all) whats incredible to me is that its even possible to *consider* such a notion. but far from being a relic of the age of political correctness, syncretism goes back hundreds of years or longer in asia and in christianity, which loves to celebrate pagan holidays (but again, with jesus thrown in for good measure). oneness is (by definition) a unifying concept found throughout religions from the monotheistic judaism to the masculine[lit]/[lit]feminine "middle way" balance of taoism, to the sfirot of tiferet in judaism to the concept in hinduism that every person has a soul, and every soul is a piece of god. which god? hinduism is polytheistic as heck. thats the funny thing, it doesnt really matter. they keep trying to make religions that are entirely monotheistic (as the monotheism in polytheistic religions isnt "good enough") but if they fail and you tease them about it they can get really pissed off. of course you are making fun of them a little, so theres that. but thats the thing-- some people like a religion that tells you just how it is, while others would prefer a religion of infinite possibilities leading to a unifying truth. but the point isnt that atheists need religion. im agnostic because no matter how much i experience culturally or how much i feel at one time or another, *the infinite is unknowable by the finite* (whether spiritually or scientifically and literally) and can only be "experienced". so experience has its own validity, which by nature is subjective (thats not the same as untrue) and then to be objective requires infinitely more. learning is an experience, and we assume (i think we probably assume correctly) that there is some validity to our experience so far. but ultimately we take it on faith that we put our foot out on the floor and our foot will touch the floor when we do. we dont expect to wake up with our bed floating in space or something ridiculous like that. its a faith in mundane consistency-- but it has some validity. its even rational-- a reality at rest will stay at rest (or remain reasonably consistent) until it is acted upon by a force. the newtonian world falls apart if we put our foot out of bed in canada and randomly find it in a 12-foot-wide meringue or the corridor of a bed and breakfast in poland. we have reasonable expectations based on a logical chain of events, which demands a certain level of consistency or universal law. and funnily enough, except for certain details the entirety of religion is not so much at odds with that. rather it inspires things like shakespearean theatre and countless episodes of star trek, babylon 5 and crazy anime adaptations like neon genesis evangelion. you remove religion and how much do we lose of the works of da vinci? freud loses at a minimum, half his career (theres an easy joke there if you make it) and jung is no longer much fun at parties. i have long thought of religion as "proto-philosophy" but would we have ever gotten to philosophy without it? and im not saying "so get on your knees and thank jesus for science" but god inspired darwin and newton alike. einstein is more debatable. free culture would be diminished without "sita", and free software would not have st. ignucious. we would have neither rabbi akiva, nor reverend king. the civil rights movement would not have the churches it organised in. i suppose they would have used each others basements instead, but the churches most certainly proved useful. all in all though, i think trying to remove religion from the ancient, historical or contemporary cultures of the world would be just as impoverishing as removing the impact of women, or minorities. we often fail to attribute the cultural wealth we enjoy to individuals or groups that we dont approve of, whether it is over bigotry or legitimate concern about the costs of say-- christianity to the rest of the world. so we focus on the worst of it and ignore the rest. historically, christianity has done some terrible things. people still do some really terrible things in its name, but i doubt jesus would endorse those things. what some (ive been specific and used qualifiers throughout this writing, thanks very much) atheists want, even expect me to do is judge someone with a belief or even a hope in something as though they were part of an army that killed people a thousand years ago (or they want me to think they are no different than a bigot who kills someone in africa because they believe in imposing their personal religious laws on others, which im against-- most people dont prefer theocracy, and i think theocracy is dangerous and immoral). but religion they argue, will only lead to these things. that is where they part with reason, rest arguments on straw men and cease to treat the debate with facts and understanding. ultimately, i must accept their view of the world-- no matter what psychologists say, no matter what historians uncover, no matter what the facts and context are. i must accept that religion is evil, and science is good. and if there is a broader, more reasonable, more patient, more understanding way to view this-- that is no better than heresy. and they dont get why thats so funny. most of the world is either religious or agnostic-- and that doesnt mean the atheists are wrong. its possible theyre right and everyone else (including scientists who are not atheists, including respected theologians, including historians and sociologists) is wrong. but its like they cant hear what they sound like. i have instead tried to understand people who have some, limited religious beliefs. its gives us common ground we can use for those topics and others. most people i know who have a religious upbringing (i did not, at all) are not very religious. but for them there is cultural wealth, there is (as with deliberately fictional works) a cherished engagement and expansion and enrichment of the imagination, which works together with the rationality of the mind and the fact-checking and reality-checking of science to produce culture and (however infrequently, but very arguably) inspiration, progress-- and without an excessive or overabundant reliance on pharmaceutical chemicals, sometimes even a bit of hope and comfort. religion, some argue, produces insanity. meanwhile science produces weapons of mass destruction. maybe the scientists should have waited until the world was rational to produce such weapons, but they had their reasons (plus they were told by very rational and well-intentioned people that those weapons would never be used, so its cool-- more misplaced faith, perhaps? but where are the gods who produce that sort of poor decision making this time?) or, insanity and global destruction have many causes, and religion is relatively harmless in most people. but some people are dangerously insane and some of *those people* in turn are religious-- and i still believe that those who treat religion as the worst thing in the world are still missing the point. on a bad day, it divides us all. on a good day, it is something that agnostics and most believers can share as common ground. without having a religion, many others and i have stories hundreds or even thousands of years older than star trek (which i also love) with lessons that are not actually far removed from those of our era, which we can draw from and compare and even point out how some things really never change. and all of that is possible without thinking "youre stupid, because you entertain a belief". i can even admire them for it, because ive learned something about their belief (often an integral part of their culture, which really isnt a problem unless religion is inherently evil or dangerous) and actually find it interesting. being that the world is still crazy and irrational, which atheism does not seem to cure actually, religion (in a rational argument) is probably not the cause of all that. but i agree very passionately that theocracy and fundamentalism are extremely dangerous, and i think they are unjust. religion is just alright. we can argue about the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin, or we an can put that aside for some important and non-trivial shit like how many kardashians can get married in a year, or how many pancakes a guy can eat in one sitting. ive never met anybody who is rational or reasonable or sane all the time, but some people like to pretend. the dalai lama comes pretty close, and he seems pretty awesome-- i wouldnt kick him out of my house for sitting a certain way or preferring to eat vegetarian, but i still dont want to be buddhist and (so im told) its not a religion anyway. there are buddhists killing other people in sri lanka, so there goes the idea that its always peaceful. but if thats good enough, and it seems to be for most people (i wouldnt ban buddhism either way) then maybe the big problem is just that we refer to religion as religion. if we just called it "star trek", then it ought to be ok. would people still take it too far? i dont know-- maybe if the beatles hadnt spent all that time meditating with the maharishi mahesh yogi, they wouldnt have created that death cult in california. live and learn, i guess. this isnt remotely an endorsement of the maharishi mahesh yogi, but i wouldnt dream of judging all hindus by his example. and if i extend the benefit of the doubt to a religion with too many gods to count, then a religion with just one or two should be alright, generally speaking. i am still, of course, very much against theocracy. *if you are forced to choose what you believe, you are invariably denied the opportunity.* that probably also applies to choosing rationality-- wouldnt someone who chose it for themselves be more likely to passionately defend reason and logic? god only knows. => https://wrongwithfreesw.neocities.org