On The Skeptic and The Theist

The Skeptic is one who demands evidence.  All the Skeptic demands is that which the Theist can never supply.  For the only thing which the Skeptic demands of anything or anybody regarding any conclusion  is evidence.  The Skeptic neither requires nor is impressed by stories and tales of fantastic deeds of an alleged deity in a land far, far away at a time long, long ago.  Nor for that matter is the Skeptic concerned with promises or threats of an existence in the afterlife which supposedly offers eternal bliss for some and barbaric torture for others.  Again, the Skeptic is one who merely demands evidence, and such is that which the Theist simply cannot supply.

Yet I cannot fault the Theist for lack of effort, either with regards to attempts to persuade we Skeptics or with regards to the effort required for the Theist to maintain their philosophy.  In fact, I openly admit that Skepticism lacks the effort which Theism most definitely does require.  For Theism; by its very nature, demands extensive and unceasing effort in order to exist as an accepted philosophy.  Indeed Theism requires that one study in order to learn what to believe, then further requires that the Theist continually indoctrinate themselves in further study so as to  not stop believing, and then even requires the regular and cyclical exercise of traditional practices as a means of ongoing indoctrination.  The fact is that  the mental effort of constantly praying and praising, and the hectic schedule of continuous weekly worship assemblies (which involve further indoctrination) allows the Theist little time to reason and think beyond what they are told to believe and do.  Again, Skepticism truly lacks the effort which Theism most definitely does require.

And so I repeat myself by way of conclusion:

The only thing which the Skeptic demands of anything or anybody regarding any conclusion is evidence.  And evidence is the one necessary element that the Theist merely cannot supply.

Genuine Goodness is a Natural Human Quality

The fact is that there is much evil in the world. The daily newspaper in any city or town in any country and all societies likely reports happenings that qualify as such. Be it a political scandal, an inner city mugging, rape, murder, State ordained execution (aka “murder”), or organized national aggression (aka “war”); evil abounds everywhere. As a self proclaimed “bleeding heart liberal” I grieve daily over deeds of humanity which are atrocious and despicable. At times it seems that there is no hope for our species.

Yet when my thinking digresses to such a level of despair, I am reminded that discouragement must not displace reason and reality.

There was a time when I would remind myself of the cliche: “There are good people everywhere”. And indeed there are good people everywhere. In every society there are genuinely good people. People who are kind and considerate. People who are compassionate and generous. People who are actively benevolent.

And when I speak of good people in every culture, I do not merely refer to organized activists, although I respect and appreciate every such individual and the groups so involved on behalf of human rights and needs. Aside from good people who actively pursue the common good through organized efforts, I likewise speak of the nameless individuals worldwide who live out goodness on a daily basis. I refer to those folk who treat every other person with respect in their everyday lives. Those folk who speak kindly to complete strangers. Those folk who genuinely care about their neighbors and friends. Those folk who listen with genuine concern to another who is voicing a grievance in their own lives. Those folk who loan a dollar to a co-worker when they themselves could use that dollar as well.

Indeed, there are truly good people everywhere.

Yet as I grow older and reflect upon humanity and our secular existence, I have come to conclude that there is a more fundamental reason that there are good people everywhere. The good people of the world are in fact those who are true to nature and reflective of a basic human quality. As idealistic as the notion might seem, I conclude that genuine goodness is a quality natural to the human condition.

I surmise then that the evil which abounds is the product of conditioning and choice. It seems to me that even allowing for the possibility of an occasional social dysfunction from birth, that generally speaking every person is inherently equipped with the capacity for genuine goodness as their natural function.

I cannot believe that any person is born with racist tendencies, yet myself being raised in the southern United States I have been raised in a culture which conditions its own to assume such a perspective. I cannot believe that any person is born naturally greedy, yet as a citizen of an extremely materialistic society I am party to and participant in a culture which conditions its own to assume that greedy ambition is a worthwhile quality and that therefore self serving, capitalistic ventures are noble endeavors. I cannot believe that any person is born concerned about another’s sexuality, yet I have seen how bigotry is justified in the name of religion and for the alleged societal moral good. For that matter, I cannot believe that any person is born a theist, yet in my culture theism is a condition so commonly taught and so widely believed that to think otherwise is regarded so unnatural as to be considered a mental illness.

The simple fact is that every person is born socially neutral. The traits we display and the thinking we assume in life are for the most part conditioned and culturally induced. From the day of our birth onward every one of us is the product of his/her culture and conditioning. Thus that which is our natural function is oftentimes assumed to be what we become, even though what we become is all too often that which we are externally conditioned to become. We of our species are all too often confused as to our natural being. So confused in fact that many lives are completed to duration with little analysis as to why we think the way we do, and why we do the things we do. Or further yet, whether our thinking is in fact true to our nature.

And thus when evil abounds, all too often we of humanity simply accept such as being “just the way it is” with little regards to whether there are more fundamental reasons open to scrutiny and consideration. And so humanity aimlessly exists midst mortal shortcomings and moral deficiencies with but minor self evaluation and social assessment. Ours is a sad state in that we allow ourselves to be conditioned instead of being true to our basic nature.

Yet if we will be true to ourselves we will be naturally kind to others. If we will be true to our nature we will be compassionate and generous. If we will but regard our own nature we will realize that the tendency of humanity is to be spontaneously good with little concern as to why or whether we should be so. We simply are. The next time you hear an animal in pain, observe whether your spontaneous nature is not altruistic and compassionate. The next time you see a car accident, observe whether your spontaneous compulsion is to stop and render aid. The next time you see a picture of a starving child on the television, observe whether you are not gut wrenched as to the state of being of a suffering sentient being.

I truly believe that we of our species are at our moral and ethical best when we discard all external ideologies and simply allow ourselves to be true to our basic nature. When we realize that there is no god to fight for, no country to defend, no way of life to secure, and no cause worth compromising our own natural values for; then we will discover that at the core of our humanity we are actually and simply good beings.

And naturally so. For despite the unfortunate fact that evil in the world does truly abound, I nonetheless maintain that genuine goodness is a natural human quality.

On Humanism and the Genuine Goodness of Humanity

Humanism is a philosophy founded upon the perspective that genuine goodness is a quality inherent to the human condition.

I sincerely believe that all people are born socially and spiritually neutral.

Hence, as I see it, all perspectives are learned and all traits are acquired.

Yet, I maintain that everyone has a basic nature of genuine goodness.  The genuine goodness of all people is developed from within, hence it must be cultivated as a matter of daily renewal of mind to be true to the principles of goodness which are inherent within.

The challenges to the effort one employs to cultivate their humanity and to realize and activate their perspective of genuine goodness  are many.

The daily grind of trying to survive in a world based upon commerce and trade is a distraction to one’s inner goodness.  Everyone is trying to survive to the extent that oftentimes the goal of personal survival can hinder and distract one from allowing their genuine goodness to develop from within.

In all too many instances in our daily lives being good; which I sincerely believe is our basic nature, is pushed to the side in the light of our need to be constantly “productive” in our efforts to survive.

Daily conditioning to an assumed perspective can likewise prove to be a distraction from a person’s own inner goodness.

The person conditioned to a perspective of partyism for instance is expected to regard certain folks as “them” as opposed to being “one of us”.

Partyism can manifest itself in a number of ways, but mental conditioning to an assumed perspective is common to all instances of such.

Political perspectives can be a form of partyism.

Nationalism can be a form of partyism.

Religion can be a form of partyism.

Thus, as one is conditioned to certain social and spiritual beliefs, the temptation is ever present to adopt one set of standards as to how one relates to “our folk”, while an all together different set of standards might be exercised in relating to “the other folk”.

Hence, one might be kind and courteous towards, and be concerned and compassionate about “our folk”, yet might be rude towards and indifferent regarding the well being of “the other folk”.

Indeed, there is an ever present challenge to suppress our own genuine goodness when one is conditioned to a perspective of partyism.

Yet I maintain that ultimately and fundamentally genuine goodness is a condition inherent to the human condition.

I furthermore maintain that the genuine goodness of most every person spontaneously rises to the surface when circumstances are such that even daily duties and preferred perspectives are set to the side in the light of the urgency of the moment.

As a case in point, I recently witnessed and was party to the spontaneous goodness of humanity in an instance of urgent and undeniable need.

About a week and half ago my spouse and I were involved in a car accident in the middle of a workday in a town where we were complete strangers (Fortunately, there were no serious injuries).  The impact was such that all within quite a distance heard the wreck. Within moments we were surrounded by people who had left their workplaces and restaurants, and who immediately were enquiring as to our conditon and helping pick up glass and direct traffic.

The fact that we were strangers and the other individual was a local resident made no difference to those kind folk who were rendering aid.  The fact that my spouse is a foreigner made no difference (Albeit she is a Naturalized Citizen who has lived here more than 30 years, her German accent is ever so eloquently evident).  Our “Ban Fracking” bumper sticker made no difference (Even though we were in a rural Texas town 2 days after the National Elections).

All that mattered at that moment of undeniable urgency was that we were sentient beings who were in need of assistance.

At that moment and in that instance, who we were, how we think, the values we maintain, and our standing in that or any other community were incidental to the needs of the moment.

And at that moment and in that instance, the natural humanity of those folk whose identities to me are even now a complete mystery rose to the surface.

Indeed, goodness is a quality natural to the human condition, and in moments of unexpected urgency most folk are spontaneously good.