Saturday, June 25, 2011

Discussion for "The Good Book"

I think it will take me a little while to get the hang of finding a balance of how much to post, in a post. I may have overdone it a bit in my first post? I think there are too many ideas there to just "discuss". So, for my second post, I am going to include a short video, which I don't think requires much discussion. It's just pretty self explanatory and somewhat relates to the general idea of religion and beliefs. So I think I will just include it here, then add some thoughts and questions about "The Good Book" post.

Just to be clear, I hope that, eventually, at least a couple people will comment and have a discussion with me. However, I'm prepared to accept that most people may not have the time or the interest to delve into the work of one artist with this much depth. In which case, I will still post about all the things I want to post about, then maybe someday the world will realize how fucking brilliant Tim Minchin is and there will be college level courses for this type of discussion I will use this material to do a Tim Minchin workshop at a UU CON for teenagers.

Moving on. Short video for today- "Take My Wife"

Discussion topics/questions for my first post, "The Good Book".

1) Did you like the song?

2)According to the song, The Bible paints morality in black and white, when life is more varied and colorful. Some people (fundamentalists) think it is the authoritative and definitive source for all life's questions and problems. I don't even know how to phrase a question here. This is just strange to me. What do you think?

3) I love the line, "I feel sorry for you heathens, got to think about all that". But, that is because I believe now that we "think about all that" we have achieved a higher morality in regard to some of the issues mentioned toward the end of the song, such as stem cell research, terminating pregnancy, easing suffering and the right to die with dignity, etc. Do we all think that our own morality is the right morality? I guess we do.

4) The reference to Genesis 6:5-7, I thought was going to be the bit in Genesis about humans having dominion over animals, but it is actually the bit about God regretting making humans and animals and wanting to wipe them all out. So, like the references to sacrificing children and stoning raped women, it speaks to the notion of whether a Christian god is a loving god. Something I don't understand, so I won't go on about it. Feel free, if you like.

5) So, The Bible. What do you think of it? As UUs, we quote it sometimes. Many of us claim to find value in it, when viewed as a myth. What value do you find in it?

Tim's comments on morality-

6) Do you think morality is a selected trait? What are some possible examples of this? How could this work like a biological variance being selected? (Trying to wrap my head around this concept.)

7) Tim says, "apparently we need to 'respect' the choices of radical Islamists (freedom of religion and all that), but that means accepting the abuse of women." Do you think this is true?

One more...

8) "If you accept Faith as a basis for morality then you MUST logically accept that other people are going to use THEIR faith as a moral base. You cannot believe in God and Jesus and the idea that your morality comes from a 2000 yr-old book and then go whingeing if people fly planes into your buildings. They're only playing by the rules you condone: the eschewal of reason and the adherence to mythology that is both extremely powerful and massively open to interpretation." Discuss??

I spattered my opinions throughout this a bit. depending on how any discussion goes, I may add more. I'd really love to hear other thoughts or opinions on any of these ideas or anything else "The Good Book" brought to mind.


  1. Well, I thought I'd return the favor and check out things on your end. (May not hang out long.)

    Quick disclaimer: I'm not UU. In fact, I'm not particularly religious in any way. More of a doubting agnostic, really. (I've been to Unitarian services, and if I were looking for a church to attend, that would probably be it, but... well, I'm not. So there it is.)

    1. Good song. (Musically, not his best - IMHO, that would be "Drowned") Fairly straightforward lyrics, if you've ever read the Bible.

    2. Yes, the Bible is very specific in demanding "Yes/No" moral choices, and life just doesn't work like that. (Ex - Rick Santorum opposes abortion for any reason, although he's waffled at times in both directions. Of course, his wife had one because she would have died otherwise. Then again, he's just freaky on the subject, so, you know, take it with a grain or eight of salt.)

    3. Um... yes. By definition, your own morality is what you view as correct.

    4. Well, I've always had a hard time taking parenting advice from a god who drowned all his own kids when they misbehaved.

    5. I'll defer to my first two links.

    6. I don't believe there is an evolutionary equivalent to morality, except that certain behaviors lead to death, and so that guy's out of the gene pool.

    7. Well, once the "religious choice" of anyone leads to behavior that threatens other people, no, I don't think we need to "respect" anything.

    8. Moral choices have numerous roots, and "faith" is only one of them. And if the Bronze Age is as far as you want to progress, hey, go for it. Just stop whining that I won't join you.

    And, btw, interview.

  2. Thanks for the comments! Yes, I gathered from your blog that you are not religious at all. I'm not trying to convert anyone here. Thanks for the link for the interview as well. A good one, I thought. I like how he, TM, is willing to consider the impact of his choices of songs and lyrics, and actually change them when he sees fit, and not be all self-righteous about it, as some would. I think he shows great compassion and responsibility.

  3. Congratulations on your new blog. It is a fitting tribute to one of the most talented individuals I have ever had the pleasure to see perform live (second only to Sir Elton John).

    Here are my two cents worth on morality:

  4. Thanks, Atheist Missionary. Your comment mentioning Sir Elton John makes me wonder if you've heard Minchin's "Mitsubishi Colt" poem?

  5. Thanks for the kind words over at my blog! Figured I'd return the favor. We feeters must stick together, after all. Let's dig in to some of those questions, shall we (all of which I found very thoughful and thought-provoking

    1.I adore "Good Book." In a catalog of favorites, it's near the top for me. The boot is not the least of reasons why, either. As Nameless Cynic pointed out, its lyrics are fairly straightforward, but to me, that's one of the best things about it. It seems to say, as I have said myself many times "Really, guys. C'mon; Have you ever actually READ this book of yours?"

    2.To quote another Tim song, " externalize blame, and to feel ashamed, and to judge things as plain right or wrong." Morality is, and should be, a grey area. Some bits are more obviously blackish, and some more obviously whitish (i.e. murder is wrong, feeding the hungry is right), but it's never completely cut and dry.

    3.We do tend to see our views as correct, but they ought to be mutable. If enough evidence presents itself to convince us otherwise (not muscle us to the other side, mind you, but honestly convince us), our views ought to change. The scientific method works for more than science, it seems.

    4.I really dug this reference. "These things are getting to be a real pain in the ass. I know, let's drown them!" I see one kitten, named Noah of course, being spared.

    5.The only value I find in the Bible is as a historical text. I have read it many times, both during my believer days and after I'd let go of it all, and I've got to conclude that the only good, moral lessons to be found in it can be found in many other places. The Golden Rule, for example, isn't something that can be found only or even first in the Bible. It was around long before it in many other texts in some version or another. More than that, it's an evolutionary imperative. We take care of each other because that's the best way to ensure we all survive and thrive. And aside from those bits, the rest of it's nothing but a method of keeping people docile and in control. Sorry, went a bit Marxist for a sec. Hey, my beard got longer!

    6.As mentioned above, I think morality most definitely began as an evolutionary advantage. We are social animals, and as such, not only are we biologically geared to look out for ourselves, we're also designed to care for the group. When a larger number of people have your back, so to speak, it's a lot easier to live to procreate. The finer points of morality can be debated, and should be, but the basics stem from that, near as I can figure.

    7. I respect and will defend the right of each and every person to believe whatever silliness they like. I don't necessarily respect the belief itself, nor do I expect anyone to respect my views, merely my right to hold them. But the moment that belief results in harm to someone else is the moment the holder of said belief loses that respect from me.

    8. This is one of my favorites. It's provocative, has the ability to offend, and really causes one to think about the hard stuff. On the one hand, christians and other religious folks have every right to be upset about the radical and violent acts of extremists. They, and every other human being for that matter, ought to be furious about it. But, as is pointed out, they're just doing what they think their god wants. (I'm merely playing devil's advocate here, I think all violent acts, with "god's" permission or not, are reprehensible). If you're going to play by that set of rules for yourself, just because you choose to adhere to the cuddlier parts of religious philosophy, you really can't be all that surprised when other people pick the nastier parts. We're just fucking monkeys in shoes, after all.

    Anyway, I've been long-winded enough. Thanks again. Excellent stuff, and I look forward to more!

  6. Thanks for you comments, Keith. Mildly amused smirk at the kitten named Noah.