Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Here's an interestingly rare take on the atheist-vs-theist debate by a christian: Youtuber "Inward Burn" honestly admits to the fundamentals of his christianity being irrational - credo quia absurdum, fideism at its best. A rare beast in today's world, in which everyone strives to appear rational and logical. There is something quite refreshing to it... and yet, there is also something rather uneasy about it. Let's start from a few comments that, to me, seem to sum the whole idea up:

"I don't base what I believe about Jesus Christ on logic... I don't think I have to base it on logic, but on faith."

Indeed, you don't have to base your opinions on logic. The question is, though, what do you mean when you say you don't have to do that? In an ethical sense, you certainly don't; you can believe whatever you like. But you do pay a price for that freedom. You lose the ability to defend your beliefs.

See, you're right to your opinion is not the whole picture. After all, you choose to go on the internet. You log onto youtube and share your opinions. What are your expectations in doing that? Do you expect your viewers to just listen and be silently swayed?

If that is the case, I'm sorry, you lost me - I choose not to go for that.

But if you're in for actual dialogue, then the next question is this: Do you grant me the same right you reserve for yourself? Let's say that I was a staunch antisemite, a sexist who is convinced that christians are below human and should be beaten and bullied. And the only reason I can give for that is that I have faith in those beliefs, I don't base them on logic, and I don't think I have to.

Would you seriously just accept that, in silence? Would you not try to convince me of being wrong?

I certainly hope that you wouldn't give me that.

It's a tough one, isn't it. I mean, basing it all on faith is good and well... but no man is an island, and some beliefs are just plain stupid. We live in a community, we thrive on social interaction, we depend on it to a degree that is often uncomfortable to think about. I predict that, as long as you're not living inside a very intense and tied-up christian community, you won't be able to avoid discussing your beliefs with atheists. And they will demand equal rights in those conversations.

See, as an atheist and someone who strives to base his beliefs on reason, I will always grant you the right to confront my deepest beliefs with your arguments. I might grumble, and I might be embarrassed, but if I find that you are right, I will eventually come around and accept that I was wrong. I have seen many, many times that this is ultimately better for myself.

And, while you surely have the right to your irrational beliefs, the whole situation changes when you want to interact with me. Because I simply demand that we stand on equal footing. Your beliefs are exactly as sacred as mine - that is, they're not sacred at all. I can attack yours, you can attack mine. Plain and simple.

"I'm not ashamed to say that I believe."

I never quite got that line. Of course you're not - what's the point? After all, you have to take your own decisions, so what is there to be ashamed (or, since we're on it, to be proud) of?

"I'm delusional, and I accept that. I don't believe in logic."

And I don't believe that this is true. Imagine you're at the grocery store. You're buying some apples, a loaf of bread, whatever. Apples cost $2, bread costs $1.50. Sales clerk tells you that's $3.50.

Are you seriously telling me that you don't believe that there is logic to that? Do you assume that the sales clerk had some kind of divine revelation?

Of course you don't. That's because you believe in logic.

It's just that you reserve some special place for things that you exclude from your belief in logic. And the interesting part will become very apparent when you try to answer the following questions: How exactly do you determine to what category one specific assertion, claim, or belief belongs? Where exactly do you draw the line? And is this delineation between what's rational and what's irrational itself rational, or not?

These are tough ones, I know. Take your time. I believe it's time well spent.

Friday, March 1, 2013

"Anna Marti: Sacred Tantrika"

I found this interesting article called "Anna Marti: Sacred Tantrika - interview by Dedric". Practically every sentence makes me want to comment on it. I'll select those that speak the most to me (and the least).

As far as I can understand, all spiritual systems have their inception with an individual having an altered state experience: the ego boundaries dissolve and there's a connection, there's an acknowledgement, there's a deep knowing of relationship with all things...

At the very least, it would seem like this is the case, yes. Interestingly, most christians would probably not want to have christianity seen in that light, even though Jesus had a very obvious initiation experience involving prolonged fasting and hallucinations right at the beginning of his career.

As I understand Tantra, philosophically it's not unlike quantum physics.

Rule #1 of discussing spirituality: Don't bring quantum physics in it. You don't understand quantum physics; I don't understand quantum physics; let's leave it at that.

There have been individuals who have found that if you hang out in high states of arousal for long periods of time, as well as doing all these other practices to purify the mind and the body and the emotions, that you can enter a room of expanded consciousness 
I am sure, and I think that I know this from experience, that high states of arousal can lead to a feeling of expanded bliss. I'm not quite certain whether I'd dare talk about expanded consciousness here, though. How would one go about discerning that from merely feeling extremely well. How do we distinguish the (great, excellent, wonderful) feeling of ecstatic union with the universe from actually being one with all?
In this country we think we've got the copyright on dysfunctional sexuality, but in almost every spiritual system there's a huge schism between body and spirit.
I'm pretty certain I second that. Now, if we eliminate the pure power aspect of a priestly caste trying to dominate the rest of society, the question is - why? Why does this go for almost every spiritual system? I mean, it is obvious why those in power would want such a system - but why do the adherents want it? Millions of them, no less! Is this a phenomenon that can be explained as evolution of some kind? Do systems that are grounded in a dualism like that just survive longer, for some reason? 
What has happened in this country is that because we're a capitalistic society we've taken that dysfunction and turned it into business.
Sure, as with every other thing out there.
I don't think there's a quick fix for us as human beings in connecting with each other; I think it takes a tremendous amount of intention and integrity and commitment and work. But, our culture is not built on things taking time, it's built on "I want something right now, I want to fix this right now." So it's a perfect market for books and videos and workshops.
Yep. And so, we came up with the concept of self-help.
Osho, from my limited understanding, was probably one of the foremost Tantra teachers of our generation.
Osho, from my understanding, was a lying, stealing, mischievous fraud. Granted, that doesn't mean he was not a good tantra teacher, but I'd rather trust the heuristic that people of integrity and high moral standards might make for better teachers in subjects like that.
Yeah, I can help you have better orgasms, but trust me: it's not going to make you happy.
On its own, probably not. But tantric practice did help me relax and be in the moment a lot more; and that helps me be better, not only in bed, but in general. More patient, less driven by fear and anxiety and the need to achieve whatever goal. So, yes, better orgasms play an important part in being happier, even though they're not the sole ingredient; they're a tool, more than a goal in and of themselves.
People are not going to be very excited about this, but I think the commitment to your own personal growing up is what is going to give you a better relationship and sex life. That requires a spiritual life; I don't care how you do it, but you need a belief in something that's bigger than your individual ego. Clearing up your emotional garbage, whether that's through individual therapy or group therapy, is also helpful; we've all got it, and I don't know too many people who don't need a little bit of work getting through it so that when I come into relationship I'm not bringing my mom and my dad and every lover I've ever had to you. It's just a commitment to be honest with myself and in integrity with myself.
I contest the metaphor of size in this context. What exactly does it mean for something to be "bigger than me"? I have no answer to that. And also, if "belief" entails asserting the existence of entities without any proof or evidence, then I don't think that this can be a path that leads to more honesty. So belief in something bigger than myself is really an impediment to "spiritual growth" in whatever sense. I'd rather commit to becoming better at giving empathy, and loving my girlfriend. I have a hunch that this might be what really helps, way more so than belief, regardless in what.
There are a bazillion books and videos about sexual techniques, and if they worked people would be having a lot more fun than they seem to be having.
Agreed; this is a tell-tale sign that something is not quite right in the state of denmark.
Ultimately, what is really healing is sex with meaning
Yes. But, going back to the context of spirituality and belief above, meaning is not something that is there, and I have to accept it (or not). Meaning is more like a process, an action, that takes my own active participation. I'm not sure that I can produce meaning on my own (after all, I myself am largely a product of society, earth, my environment), but I am certain that I am part, participant, and ingredient, of that process.

Protect Our Young! Make Better Porn!

As an aside to last nights posting on porn, and after a good talk last night with my girlfriend the pornstar, something quite astonishing has hit me:

Many people (and among them, many conservative christians) will rant against porn. They will not distinguish between good and bad porn, or between different sub-genres of porn, like gay or het porn. Neither will they distinguish between erotic media, and porn in the strict sense. (I do have fond memories of "Tender Cousins".)

But what's really odd is that they don't offer any real solutions. I mean, if the problem you have in porn is how it portrays women in a denigrating way, then why don't you go ahead and make some erotic movies that don't do that? Why don't you go out and search such media, and then promote them all over the internet?

We don't need a ban on porn - we need better pornography.

If we want to protect our young, I believe that's what we ought to do, regardless of whether we approve of porn or not; regardless of whether you're a christian or a muslim or an atheist; regardless of whether you're a feminist, a men's rights activist, or just don't give a damn about politics.

Look, a 12 year old is not going to have great judgment when it comes to porn, and s/he will have access to it. That's just a fact. Prohibition will not work, judging from every single time it failed before. Therefore we should promote sensual, loving, and sexy depictions of human sexuality. If we manage to sneak a little accurate information in without being cheesy, even better.

Accurate, loving, and sexy. The last part matters! Boring lectures on how to put on a condom will not do the trick. Showing that lovemaking is sensual and blissful, along with whatever godly mission you choose to project into it, probably stands a chance of getting the job done. To be clear - by "job", I mean preparing teenagers for actual, real sexuality, as it is practiced in day-to-day life; not some idealized fantasy version of christian family life. And I also mean arousing them and giving them something to lust after. While we're at it, why not arouse them a bit, why not show how much fun and joy and bliss there is to be found in bed?

In short, we need better pornography. Way, way better pornography.