Beliefs give us the ability to respond quickly in dangerous situations, and anywhere that requires action NOW with no time for cogitation or study. Continued study enables us to hone our beliefs to improve our performance by widening our knowledge, and by enabling us to discover where a belief that steered us onto an erroneous path had been wrong. Those who claim no beliefs of any kind do not get to enjoy any of that. Those who fail to verify their beliefs suffer from harm they cause others.  We should respect each other despite differing beliefs, pay attention when others describe beliefs that may be better, and they should consider with equal attention why you may already have rejected those beliefs or why you think they didn’t work for you. Of course, you have to tell them that. If self-proclaimed absence of beliefs puts you in the midst of an intellectual desert, go ahead and quote a bunch of dry statistics. If you can’t tell them what that should mean to them, they will never care and your ponderous thoughts will mean as little to them as their inanity means to you. Learn to recognize and acknowledge your own beliefs so you can explain to others what those statistics mean in your life. If that seems like too much to expect, the prevalent absence of wisdom among humans may have a lot to do with it.

Wisdom: I believe intellectual power among humans runs the gamut between wisdom and dumbasses. I have observed how the same person can exemplify extreme wisdom in one respect, and extreme dumbassedness in another. Take me, for instance. Just don’t take me home.

Rape: a prime example of dumbassedness is found in whomever concocted the idea that a woman getting raped cannot become pregnant. Has this guy never been intimate with a woman? (It had to be a guy, or a very masculine female). Had he been in a relationship over a period of time, he would know why KY (not named after a state filled with dry women) had been invented. The human body will protect itself however it can in spite of a person’s determination to never give in, and will lubricate the point of entry to minimize injury, especially given enough time by a struggling woman staving off a rapist’s advances. Put the shoe on the other foot: It is at least an urban legend that aggressive men will ejaculate while beating another person to death. Would that prove he’d been having sex?

Opinions: We all share rights regarding our opinions, including myself. This is to what the founding fathers referred when they wrote, “All men are created equal.” That’s my opinion, of course. It seems obvious they knew we did not all possess equal talents, strengths or mental abilities. They also knew that women are of a different gender than men, but were of the species called ‘mankind’, were a kind of huMAN called woMAN, and so would be a part of that. Equality of rights has been vigorously defended in the United States, a process that continues for as long as rights are usurped or challenged.

Whether our opinions result from education, indoctrination or experience, we each regard our own with high esteem and treat them as sacred, it matters little how we gained them nor how well we have tested and verified them. We esteem our own opinions because we believe them. We learn to esteem others who will listen to our opinions in a respectful manner, and to offer helpful suggestions about how we may improve them without accompanying that with ridicule and venom.

Only the reticent among us refrain from sharing their opinions with others, and proclaim the right to do so as freedom of speech, which must include a right to silence. We may not like that others do not often want to hear our opinions, and they may become confrontational if we make them feel we are somehow forcing them to listen. This condition is most apt to rise if they assume (or, realize) we will refuse to listen to their alternative opinions, since a right to silence must also include what we hear. It seems innate that most of us recognize a right to not listen, and sometimes remind each other that each audio device comes equipped with a way to silence it.

The arrogant assume that only their own opinions deserve to be aired, that only their own opinions are correct, and only they have nothing to learn from other people. The arrogant assume that preventing others from airing their wrong opinions will prevent the spreading of evil ideas; that attacking such persons with slander, libel or ridicule will stop them from making their offensive statements; that demanding evidence or ‘proof’ while showing none of their own wins arguments; that logical fallacies are there to serve as power tools against naïve opponents; that what their ‘authority’ wrote must be accepted as truth no matter what; rules they apply to you don’t apply to them; that their resources are valid no matter what, so shut up, listen, and then, go away to lick your wounds. You could, after all, have exercised your right to silence and stayed quiet or gone elsewhere. Arrogance portrays a powerful tool placed in the wrong hands.

Your right to silence would also apply to religious rights and the noisy panderers of many forms of that institution. Notice how the last portion allows “from” to replace “of” with no change in meaning: “… noisy panderers from  many forms from that institution.” Doing so, in fact, serves to clarify it. That freedom from religion aligns with the right to silence to clarify what freedom of religion includes to Americans should be too obvious for anyone not advocating noise pollution to deny. If you say that’s just my opinion, I will reply to thank you for recognizing my right to it, and hope my saying so now cuts down on the amount of noise.

God (specifically, the god named God): I believe this particular god somehow killed itself a long time ago, sometime during the 10thousand years before the birth of Christ in Houston, Texas. It did it while looking all over the universe for a way to make a rock too heavy for it to lift, a way to see the future while avoiding responsibility for all the misery it had created, and a way to answer prayers that cancel each other. When it learned how that was only the beginning of its problems, it tried to commit suicide, only to run against another feature of omnipotence that made him too powerful to die. No one but demonstrable liars have been in touch with it for at least ten millenniums. While all kinds of monotheists express doubt, it seems likely the deists have the best shot at knowing the truth.

Advanced Heathenism: We know who we are. The word heathen, derived from ‘heathers’, referred to the rural population. A putdown reference to the hardheaded folks who would not be convinced to adopt strange ideas outsiders carried to them, equivalent to the hillbillies of modern times, heathenism described a way of life originated by independent thinkers to celebrate their ability to endure hard lives. Used to portray their supposed state of ignorance as due to low intelligence, the newcomers could avoid issues raised by advanced thinking, unexpected from such folk, that demanded convincing evidence. “Don’t just tell me, show me!”

Like weeds in the heathers, today’s heathens spring forth where they are not wanted by the gardeners for the various gods. They ask too many unanswerable questions, run at the mouth with ideas of their own, and seem attracted to literature that, in older times, would be forbidden, banished and burned. In some places, in today’s world, such heathens run in the unkempt furrows among the favored plants with no shame showing, proud as if they think themselves beautiful and useful. And, why should they not?

Rather than the Druidism or Paganism of our origins, modern heathens have adopted science as our source of inspiration and awe. It appeals to our need to understand the hows, whys and whats of our existence in a way that also appeals to our sense of the beautiful. It furnishes a shared interface we can learn to apply for ourselves, and forgives us with glee when we discover a new truth that banishes the old, as must occur in growing minds. Our mentors find no real need to cudgel us into acceptance of their instructions; flashes of insight cudgel us with joy. The wise ones find ways to show us the reality behind their words, and banish doubt with demonstrations and predictions they can make about “What will happen if…” in the here and now while we live. We see. We see. We see, and thrive from the experience. We see. We do, and understand what once seemed inexplicable. Science provides for us what other ones would take away.

Unintelligent Design: Some people must assume the god they worship is incredibly stupid and inept, and I find many reasons to believe that. One reason for thinking so is the idea of someone finding a watch and being unable to discern whether it had been made by man or a god. One would be hard put to find a capable modern human being unable to discern what differentiates a natural object from a man-made device. Even children’s creations are generally recognized as such. A wristwatch, given the crude ‘design’ of Nature, shows nature’s designer to be incapable. The watch has a label and a numbered dial. The label may say “Bulova”, “Ingraham” or “Westclox Scotty.” The dial may be imprinted in any of many languages. It may be digital or analog, mechanical or electronic. It may have shiny metal gears inside, or carefully laid out circuits and components. It matters not at all. If anybody had ever found a naturally formed watch, recognition of that astounding discovery would be instant for all but the densest of us. The finder would receive instant fame, acclaim and wealth.

Labels: A handy device that serves many purposes, labels are used to provide names to designate animate and inanimate items to provide identification for purpose, stage of development, process, name an event, to provide reality for the nonexistent, and to demean those deemed unworthy.

Morality: By whatever other label atheists want to prefer, their fears of being thought ‘Christian’ weaning them from common sense, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are recognized in other human beings and applied to our own actions. In a reality setting, we see morality as vastly different from that described in fantasy-based creeds. That is our own reality-based sense of morality at work and it is too important as a real phenomenon to deny. It rises out of our recognition of pleasure and pain we have caused to others, that they have caused to us, and that we have observed in the interactions of others.

In that setting, we cannot deny how good and evil show as measurable phenomena. Pain and pleasure can be measured in the nervous systems of animals, including humans, as also can the comfortable state of relaxed balance that gives us a sense that everything is right and we suffer no stress. Aside from religious influence, the American system of secular justice and ethics gives voice to this awareness through a system of law. Religion gives its nod of recognition with threats of wrath and the promise of Heaven. Why try to make truth out of ridiculous imaginings when that causes more harm than good? If a god exists, we must call it Nature and learn its laws the only ways available: by observation and trial; by prediction and testing; from events recorded in verified history that we can reproduce in our own era and record the results; by learning from failures as well as successes; by shelving the untestable to await the information needed for valid trials; by insisting on ‘show’ and rejecting ‘tell’; and by refusing to proclaim faith in the bearers of unsupported tales however appealing they may be.

Logic can suffer from a whole list of fallacies in the hands of the uninitiated and the manipulators who prey upon, and grow rich from, their naïve victims. New religions spring up overnight because of that, and swarm across the countryside to fill those naïve brains with goofy claims and powerfully futile notions. Logical functioning depends a lot on the materials used as sources. Reality based logic must gibe with what is found in the real world for its proponents to decide an argument has been correctly stated. Ecclesiastical logic develops arguments from religious scripts and pious insights and defines a religious view of truth accordingly. The reality-based argument that says religions are founded upon unsupportable premises is true, therefore, only from a reality-grounded stance. From an ecclesiastical stance, physical reality is seen as a temporary illusion that ends with physical death when the afterlife takes over.

Over the decades of my own life, my own belief has shifted from full acceptance of ecclesiastical logic to endorse the reality-based. Doubts about gods had no part in the beginning of that shift; doubts about God’s messengers drove it to completion as their own actions made it increasingly obvious that even they did not fully endorse ecclesiastical logic’s sources. Many—maybe most—ecclesiastical people do not practice their proclaimed beliefs in anywhere near the manner prescribed in their scripts. A frightening percentage make it plain they have granted their devil the role played by the God in the scripts, are addressing the devil as ‘God’, and are accusing scapegoats of worshiping the former god named God who now occupies the devil’s place. Reality-based logic, however, built upon itself over the years, grew stronger and became a kind of magical system that knows its place and establishes rules by which we can determine many aspects of our own future wellbeing by applying action/consequence consideration onto what we do now. My own errant life can serve as a prime example of the damage done to our elderly selves during our naïve youthful years. Whatever I learned during the half-century that passed between those two stages of my life led to the most important belief that follows.

Hedonism, in the form I have named Equatarianism, makes full use of some modern concepts related to balanced behavior to discover and establish conduct codes for individuals alone and within social settings. The term ‘individuals’ applies to individual persons, groups, assemblies, cities, counties, states, countries and all organized bodies of people whose behavior may affect others in any way. Application of Grrnt’s Rules in either form would pave the way to a just legal system, a citizenry healthier both mentally and physically, and a less stressful life for all. This is my belief, gathered over decades of time as pieces of a puzzle that, when finally assembled, informed me we had known this all along. May Epicurus be vindicated after all!