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Christianity and giving up Free Will

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  • Fred Pauser
    There is a case up before the Supreme Court concerning picketing done by members of a certain small Baptist Church outside the funeral of a fallen soldier. The
    Message 1 of 13 , Oct 7, 2010
      There is a case up before the Supreme Court concerning picketing done by members of a certain small Baptist Church outside the funeral of a fallen soldier. The church contends that holding up signs bearing such messages as "God hates fags" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" is protected by the first amendment, even under the circumstances. They say that breast cancer, AIDS, and dead soldiers are signs of God's wrath for the sins of the people of the US.

      I began to listen to CSPAN's coverage of this matter this morning, my first reaction was, "What a bunch of wacko nut cases."

      Margie Phelps is both a member of the church and the lawyer who spoke before the Supreme Court. She spoke at length this morning explaining the church's position. She came across as amazingly articulate, intelligent, very calm and reasonable (not to say I agree, I do NOT).

      A listener called in and complimented Ms. Phelps on her ability as a lawyer. She responded (paraphrased), "I don't know if I'm a good lawyer or not, my wisdom comes from God." She said this with a tone of humility and deference -- as if she is not actually the speaker, but from her point of view, God is speaking through her.

      This reminded me of my sister, a born-again fundamentalist Christian. After her "conversion," or more accurately, her "surrender" to Jesus/God, she gained in self confidence, became better able to speak on stage, and even to sing solo. I suspect that Ms. Phelps, devoid of her Christian beliefs, would not be as calm and articulate.

      This brings up the issue of free will. Ironically, Christians insist that God has granted everyone free will, thereby enabling everyone to either accept or reject God. Yet it is by GIVING UP THEIR FREE WILL -- by turning their will over to God -- that they seem to gain some sense of peace, and in some ways seem able to function better. "Thy will be done, on earth as i'tis in heaven."

      Like you, I believe no one possesses what is commonly known as free will (that is, "contra-causal" free will). But we certainly each possess a will, so if not "free," what accounts for it? We possess the will of nature. A pantheist might say, we possess the will of Nature (capitalized), since in that view, God permeates all of nature. Either way, the Bible is replaced by our knowledge of reality as revealed by science. My bible consists of what we have learned about the evolution of the cosmos, the evolution of life, biology, genetics, neurology, etc. etc. which is not dogmatic, but always open to modification.

      There seems to be something to be gained in turning over one's notion of personal or free will to a concept greater than the self, whether one is a Christian, atheist, agnostic, pantheist, or deist. There is a basic truth in this -- that no one is an island, we are all profoundly interconnected…

      But why is it that Christians who turn their will over to fairy tales and magical ideas seem to gain even more personally than those of us who base our concepts on scientific knowledge?

      Fred Pauser
    • Alice
      Hi Fred, I think it might be to do with love. When they give over their free will to god and do as he pleases them to do, then they are acting out of a great
      Message 2 of 13 , Oct 7, 2010

        Hi Fred,

        I think it might be to do with love.

        When they give over their ‘free will’ to god and do as he pleases them to do, then they are acting out of a great love, reverence and devotion for their lord.

        I think this triggers in them, in their physiology, those deep feelings of love – which would indeed cause them to relax more and feel more at ease.

        We can do the same as naturalists.  If we see the universe as our creator – in that we are all part of the same matter – that perhaps was once at one, and has since exploded to the far reaches of our known universe and has created many things, through the causal chain of events that lead us to this moment in time.  If we can surrender to this great casual chain of events, but more than that, love that we have been created by this great casual chain of events, then we too can experience this sense of awe at the nature of the universe – but we must be able to maintain this feeling, in order to maintain the calm.

        If you’ve ever been at the birth of a baby, then you can be amazed at the universe – other more every day moments can also trigger these feelings such as sun rise, sun set, looking at the stars at night, watching children play and so on….  christians have more of a focus on Jesus, but we have the reminders around us all the time of the awe of what has been created in our universe – all living things and all the technology humans have created.

        Actually I see the same in some hippies, who have given over their love to the ‘earth’, or environment.  They have the same love, reverence and devotion to the natural world.  And why not, we are part of it, and rely on it for our survival as humans – oxygen, food, atmosphere….

        Alice J

         


        From: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com [mailto: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com ] On Behalf Of Fred Pauser
        Sent: Friday, 8 October 2010 4:31 am
        To: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [naturalismphilosophyforum] Christianity and giving up Free Will

         

         

        There is a case up before the Supreme Court concerning picketing done by members of a certain small Baptist Church outside the funeral of a fallen soldier. The church contends that holding up signs bearing such messages as "God hates fags" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" is protected by the first amendment, even under the circumstances. They say that breast cancer, AIDS, and dead soldiers are signs of God's wrath for the sins of the people of the US .

        I began to listen to CSPAN's coverage of this matter this morning, my first reaction was, "What a bunch of wacko nut cases."

        Margie Phelps is both a member of the church and the lawyer who spoke before the Supreme Court. She spoke at length this morning explaining the church's position. She came across as amazingly articulate, intelligent, very calm and reasonable (not to say I agree, I do NOT).

        A listener called in and complimented Ms. Phelps on her ability as a lawyer. She responded (paraphrased), "I don't know if I'm a good lawyer or not, my wisdom comes from God." She said this with a tone of humility and deference -- as if she is not actually the speaker, but from her point of view, God is speaking through her.

        This reminded me of my sister, a born-again fundamentalist Christian. After her "conversion," or more accurately, her "surrender" to Jesus/God, she gained in self confidence, became better able to speak on stage, and even to sing solo. I suspect that Ms. Phelps, devoid of her Christian beliefs, would not be as calm and articulate.

        This brings up the issue of free will. Ironically, Christians insist that God has granted everyone free will, thereby enabling everyone to either accept or reject God. Yet it is by GIVING UP THEIR FREE WILL -- by turning their will over to God -- that they seem to gain some sense of peace, and in some ways seem able to function better. "Thy will be done, on earth as i'tis in heaven."

        Like you, I believe no one possesses what is commonly known as free will (that is, "contra-causal" free will). But we certainly each possess a will, so if not "free," what accounts for it? We possess the will of nature. A pantheist might say, we possess the will of Nature (capitalized), since in that view, God permeates all of nature. Either way, the Bible is replaced by our knowledge of reality as revealed by science. My bible consists of what we have learned about the evolution of the cosmos, the evolution of life, biology, genetics, neurology, etc. etc. which is not dogmatic, but always open to modification.

        There seems to be something to be gained in turning over one's notion of personal or free will to a concept greater than the self, whether one is a Christian, atheist, agnostic, pantheist, or deist. There is a basic truth in this -- that no one is an island, we are all profoundly interconnected…

        But why is it that Christians who turn their will over to fairy tales and magical ideas seem to gain even more personally than those of us who base our concepts on scientific knowledge?

        Fred Pauser

      • Alice
        Wow, so are you saying that having confession allows people to go against their instincts to feel compassion? Alice :-) _____ From:
        Message 3 of 13 , Oct 8, 2010

          Wow, so are you saying that having confession allows people to go against their instincts to feel compassion?

          Alice J

           


          From: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com [mailto: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com ] On Behalf Of graeme
          Sent: Friday, 8 October 2010 9:52 pm
          To: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [naturalismphilosophyforum] Re: Christianity and giving up Free Will

           

           



          --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "Fred Pauser" <arborculture@...> wrote:

          > But why is it that Christians who turn their will over to fairy
          > tales and magical ideas seem to gain even more personally than
          > those of us who base our concepts on scientific knowledge?

          The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. (Bertrand Russell)

          The Gestapo, as I heard it, had some widespread difficulties with their torturers. Many recruited torturers were impeded from implementing their duties fully by their moral sentiments, instinctual empathy, call it what you will. The Gestapo solved the problem by adapting the confessional model of the Catholic Church. In a similar vein, there's since been much investment by the military world wide in the trickery it takes to turn a relatively normal person into a reliable killer.

          Graeme

        • Fred Pauser
          Hi Alice, Thank you for your thoughtful response. I would say you are onto a major part of the answer. Your comments have triggered in me further thoughts on
          Message 4 of 13 , Oct 9, 2010
            Hi Alice,

            Thank you for your thoughtful response. I would say you are onto a major part of the answer. Your comments have triggered in me further thoughts on the question…

            I agree with you about the wonders of nature -- so incredibly awesome! For decades I have been talking walks in the woods because it tends to calm me; and you might say it sort of revives my "spirits." However, nature in impersonal. This fact was made very clear to me several years ago when I came down with Lyme disease (due to being bitten by a deer tick - no doubt encountered in the woods). Nature has no concern for any particular individual -- its laws apply equally to all. If a nature lover accidently slips over the edge of a cliff, the law of gravity takes over without mercy.

            The Christian God is an all-powerful authority figure who loves, forgives, and is merciful (except for those who reject Him -- don't they supposedly go to hell?)

            Let's look at this from the standpoint of human psychology. Using myself as an example, at age 5, I went to kindergarten. In the classroom, especially at that young age, the teacher was God. It turned out the teacher came to like me and favor me, thus I became the proverbial "teacher's pet." We had two class plays in which she cast me in the lead role. I performed well and with confidence, because I knew the teacher loved me.

            In fourth grade it was a very different story. My teacher was a "battle-axe" in my opinion, who did not seem to like me. I remember being called upon to stand in front of the class and recite something. I was absolutely terrified and did a poor job of it.

            The Christian God, humanized as Jesus, loves those who accept Him, personally and unconditionally. It may require some mental gymnastics to make that seem real, but once that's accomplished, Jesus/God becomes the ultimate "classroom teacher," the ultimate authority figure, the greatest lover.

            It seems the fanatical fundamentalists are best able to pull off this loving relationship with their God. And they gain human support from their like-minded church members. To the extent that they are out of sync with reality they are destined to eventually fail. We can see over the centuries that the organized religions of the world are losing power as the secular forces of science gain ground.

            So it appears that one big difference between being a nature lover and a Jesus lover, is that nature is impersonal, it does not particularly seem to love us back.

            Alice, you said, "it might be to do with love." Yes, I think love is key. I think we need to work at a personal level on developing a more caring, more understanding, and more loving attitude (without resorting to magic) and building supportive networks.

            Robert Wright (science writer, agnostic) sees humanity as evolving toward greater morality, as we grow through technology, toward becoming one giant world society. My favorite of his three books is Nonzero. Robert has a great ability to look at issues without bias, based only upon evidence and excellent logic.

            Alice, thanks again!

            Fred



            --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "Alice" <alice1976@...> wrote:
            >
            > Hi Fred,
            >
            > I think it might be to do with love.
            >
            > When they give over their 'free will' to god and do as he pleases them to
            > do, then they are acting out of a great love, reverence and devotion for
            > their lord.
            >
            > I think this triggers in them, in their physiology, those deep feelings of
            > love - which would indeed cause them to relax more and feel more at ease.
            >
            > We can do the same as naturalists. If we see the universe as our creator -
            > in that we are all part of the same matter - that perhaps was once at one,
            > and has since exploded to the far reaches of our known universe and has
            > created many things, through the causal chain of events that lead us to this
            > moment in time. If we can surrender to this great casual chain of events,
            > but more than that, love that we have been created by this great casual
            > chain of events, then we too can experience this sense of awe at the nature
            > of the universe - but we must be able to maintain this feeling, in order to
            > maintain the calm.
            >
            > If you've ever been at the birth of a baby, then you can be amazed at the
            > universe - other more every day moments can also trigger these feelings such
            > as sun rise, sun set, looking at the stars at night, watching children play
            > and so on.. christians have more of a focus on Jesus, but we have the
            > reminders around us all the time of the awe of what has been created in our
            > universe - all living things and all the technology humans have created.
            >
            > Actually I see the same in some hippies, who have given over their love to
            > the 'earth', or environment. They have the same love, reverence and
            > devotion to the natural world. And why not, we are part of it, and rely on
            > it for our survival as humans - oxygen, food, atmosphere..
            >
            > Alice :-)
            >
            >
            >
          • Alice
            Hi Fred, I was thinking the same recently, when listening to a radio show on radio national Australia about how parasites change the behaviour and desire of
            Message 5 of 13 , Oct 10, 2010

              Hi Fred,

               

              I was thinking the same recently, when listening to a radio show on radio national Australia about how parasites change the behaviour and desire of the host… this got me thinking about cells and communication and what makes an ‘I’…  another radio show talked about the worm, which is a collection of single cell organisms that get together when they need to mate, so that they can get to the surface (they live underground).  Humans and all large creatures are kind of like that – we are a collection of single cells, making up a collective that are the ‘I’.  but what about the effects of parasites, funguses and bacteria – even viruses on our idea of ‘I’?  the show I heard recently was about the cat parasite that gets into the brain – it can cause blindness in an unborn child, but it mainly wants to get into mice and then it makes the mice more likely to be eaten by a cat, as the mouse becomes less scared of the smell of cats and even is attracted to it.  this same parasite gets into the human brain also, and around 1/3 of humans have this parasite, and it also has an effect on humans.  women become more warm and homely, men have more negative effects from it.  but it brings into question the idea that we are not what we seem, and indeed our personalities are effected by way more than just our own cells, but also the bacteria, viruses, diseases even that we carry with us.  how do they communication their desires?  How has this evolution taken place? We have indeed as humans always hosted these extras, as they are way more ancient that we are as a species. 

               

              So yes, in relation to your comments about nature not being ‘friendly’ I very much agree with you.  in fact, I was brought up vegetarian, but recently due to poor health have totally changed to a raging carnivore.  But in fact, I realise that all living things have to eat other living things to survive.  So the nature of live, is to consume life.  And it can’t just be live that has died – as they may be bad for our health – but indeed we must cut down other life in its prime in order to carry on our own life.

               

              This radio show brought up another interesting observation – that the parasite that comes from birds, comes out in their pooh, onto the mud flats, then infects the local snails, who then take the parasite to the fish, who then develop cists on their brains, and effects their behaviour so that the fish swim to the surface and flip over, creating a flashing from their bellies that attracts the attention of birds, that eat them, thus completing the life cycle for these parasites.  I suppose in an other way, it’s the survival of the fittest for the fish, as the ones infected by parasites get taken, but the others remain.  But it brings up more for me, about motivation and personality.  Perhaps we aren’t even driving our own lives as much as we feel we are, but are very effected by other species we are hosting.  Most average weight humans are carrying about 2 kg of gut bacteria… how’s that effecting our choices, what we eat, how we feel, and how many other parasites might have a say in what we do in our lives.  There are always interesting and thought provoking things to find out about in the mico and the macro.

               

              Perhaps also it’s about loving yourself and realising that nothing matters in the end really – in terms of small things.  Of course if you’ve somehow got yourself into jail in Asia for drug smuggling and you’re trying to get off the death penalty, then it kind of matters a bit more what you say.  But in terms of a job interview or giving a speech at a wedding – it’s perhaps less important how you go – you can go for more job interviews and wedding attendants are usually quite forgiving after some wine.  Since exploring more of how the universe works I’m feeling more and more like life is a ride and all I have to do is aim to enjoy the ride, as really I don’t have that much say in what’s going to happen next – and at the end of the day I can only do what I do in any situation.  these days, I try to be amused at my failings and am proud of my achievements, even though I’m not sure that I’ve had much say in either.

               

              Why not love nature?  Yes, it’s a crazy mixed up thing, the sun although it gives life, also emits large amounts of radiation that will one day kill us all – sort of sick really – but amazing, huge and overwhelmingly awe inspiring.  I’m not sure if you’ve got Dr Who over there, but there are quite a few lines in that TV show that express the awe of the universe, even though it is a sci fi tv show.

               

              I’ve often in the past felt jealous of those Jesus loving christians – they have something that I wanted in the past.  But I can’t be something I’m not – and I realised when I was about 30 that no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t believe in God – it just didn’t make any sense and I’m a very pragmatic and logical person.  So I’ve had to come to terms with who I am and what I believe.  I think being true to myself, I’m much more happy that trying to believe in a god and an afterlife that I knew deep down wasn’t true, and therefore just left me feeling anxious, scared and vulnerable.  I wonder really how many of those christians, and people of any faith do believe what they do, with the evidence being so non-existent.  How can they keep justifying their views when there is simply nothing to support their belief?  I wonder if they don’t have that anxiety and fear.  I wonder if we could set up a counselling hot line for those who need to express their doubts about religion in a safe environment, without the judgement of others in their religious group.

               

              Anyhow, I’m rambling now….

              Alice J

               

               

               

               


              From: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com [mailto: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com ] On Behalf Of Fred Pauser
              Sent: Sunday, 10 October 2010 1:51 am
              To: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [naturalismphilosophyforum] Re: Christianity and giving up Free Will

               

               



              Hi Alice ,

              Thank you for your thoughtful response. I would say you are onto a major part of the answer. Your comments have triggered in me further thoughts on the question…

              I agree with you about the wonders of nature -- so incredibly awesome! For decades I have been talking walks in the woods because it tends to calm me; and you might say it sort of revives my "spirits." However, nature in impersonal. This fact was made very clear to me several years ago when I came down with Lyme disease (due to being bitten by a deer tick - no doubt encountered in the woods). Nature has no concern for any particular individual -- its laws apply equally to all. If a nature lover accidently slips over the edge of a cliff, the law of gravity takes over without mercy.

              The Christian God is an all-powerful authority figure who loves, forgives, and is merciful (except for those who reject Him -- don't they supposedly go to hell?)

              Let's look at this from the standpoint of human psychology. Using myself as an example, at age 5, I went to kindergarten. In the classroom, especially at that young age, the teacher was God. It turned out the teacher came to like me and favor me, thus I became the proverbial "teacher's pet." We had two class plays in which she cast me in the lead role. I performed well and with confidence, because I knew the teacher loved me.

              In fourth grade it was a very different story. My teacher was a "battle-axe" in my opinion, who did not seem to like me. I remember being called upon to stand in front of the class and recite something. I was absolutely terrified and did a poor job of it.

              The Christian God, humanized as Jesus, loves those who accept Him, personally and unconditionally. It may require some mental gymnastics to make that seem real, but once that's accomplished, Jesus/God becomes the ultimate "classroom teacher," the ultimate authority figure, the greatest lover.

              It seems the fanatical fundamentalists are best able to pull off this loving relationship with their God. And they gain human support from their like-minded church members. To the extent that they are out of sync with reality they are destined to eventually fail. We can see over the centuries that the organized religions of the world are losing power as the secular forces of science gain ground.

              So it appears that one big difference between being a nature lover and a Jesus lover, is that nature is impersonal, it does not particularly seem to love us back.

              Alice , you said, "it might be to do with love." Yes, I think love is key. I think we need to work at a personal level on developing a more caring, more understanding, and more loving attitude (without resorting to magic) and building supportive networks.

              Robert Wright (science writer, agnostic) sees humanity as evolving toward greater morality, as we grow through technology, toward becoming one giant world society. My favorite of his three books is Nonzero. Robert has a great ability to look at issues without bias, based only upon evidence and excellent logic.

              Alice , thanks again!

              Fred

              --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, " Alice " <alice1976@...> wrote:

              >
              > Hi Fred,
              >
              > I think it might be to do with love.
              >
              > When they give over their 'free will' to god and do as he pleases them to
              > do, then they are acting out of a great love, reverence and devotion for
              > their lord.
              >
              > I think this triggers in them, in their physiology, those deep feelings of
              > love - which would indeed cause them to relax more and feel more at ease.
              >
              > We can do the same as naturalists. If we see the universe as our creator -
              > in that we are all part of the same matter - that perhaps was once at one,
              > and has since exploded to the far reaches of our known universe and has
              > created many things, through the causal chain of events that lead us to
              this
              > moment in time. If we can surrender to this great casual chain of events,
              > but more than that, love that we have been created by this great casual
              > chain of events, then we too can experience this sense of awe at the
              nature
              > of the universe - but we must be able to maintain this feeling, in order
              to
              > maintain the calm.
              >
              > If you've ever been at the birth of a baby, then you can be amazed at the
              > universe - other more every day moments can also trigger these feelings
              such
              > as sun rise, sun set, looking at the stars at night, watching children
              play
              > and so on.. christians have more of a focus on Jesus, but we have the
              > reminders around us all the time of the awe of what has been created in
              our
              > universe - all living things and all the technology humans have created.
              >
              > Actually I see the same in some hippies, who have given over their love to
              > the 'earth', or environment. They have the same love, reverence and
              > devotion to the natural world. And why not, we are part of it, and rely on
              > it for our survival as humans - oxygen, food, atmosphere..
              >
              > Alice
              :-)
              >
              >
              >

            • Fred Pauser
              Hi Alice, you wrote: we are a collection of single cells, making up a collective that are the `I . but what about the effects of parasites, funguses and
              Message 6 of 13 , Oct 11, 2010
                Hi Alice,

                you wrote: "we are a collection of single cells, making up a collective that are the `I'. but what about the effects of parasites, funguses and bacteria – even viruses on our idea of `I'"…

                You certainly understand something of the cooperative, interactive, profoundly interdependent aspects of nature. Such insights are very significant, although poorly recognized by most people. Here you focus on the parasites and micro-activities that seem to us rather horrible. Let me add, it is also true that many microorganisms are directly and indirectly helpful to us humans. In fact, we could not live without them! You probably understand this point also, but we should mention it to balance the picture.

                You wrote: " So yes, in relation to your comments about nature not being `friendly' I very much agree with you."

                Well, I did not say that nature is not friendly -- I said nature is "impersonal." The various manifestations of nature may at times seem to help us or to harm us, but nature is neither friendly nor unfriendly. The laws of nature work the same without regard for any particular individual. But it may be argued that from a Big Picture perspective that perhaps nature overall is friendly in that it has enabled intelligent, feeling creatures such as us to evolve, to come to be (Robert Wright). I wrote a blog piece last year, Why So Much Pain and Suffering, that has received positive attention, which I think has some bearing on this discussion:

                http://www.science20.com/what039s_true_reality/why_so_much_pain_and_suffering_world

                You wrote: " Why not love nature?"

                Yes, as you said, nature is "amazing, huge and overwhelmingly awe inspiring."

                You mentioned lethal radiation of the sun killing us some day, but that's not expected for what, some billions of years? By then we as Homo sapiens will have long ceased to exist as a species, having either been out-competed or having evolved into new species. It seems a good possibility that millions of years into the future, species of far greater capabilities than our own will exist.

                In the meantime, we humans, governed by the pleasure/pain principle, will try to improve and advance our capabilities as best we can. This is fundamental to our nature, as it is fundamental to the overall directional impetus of evolution since the emergence of life.

                Fred


                --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "Alice" <alice1976@...> wrote:
                >
                > Hi Fred,
                >
                >
                >
                > I was thinking the same recently, when listening to a radio show on radio
                > national Australia about how parasites change the behaviour and desire of
                > the host. this got me thinking about cells and communication and what makes
                > an 'I'. another radio show talked about the worm, which is a collection of
                > single cell organisms that get together when they need to mate, so that they
                > can get to the surface (they live underground). Humans and all large
                > creatures are kind of like that - we are a collection of single cells,
                > making up a collective that are the 'I'. but what about the effects of
                > parasites, funguses and bacteria - even viruses on our idea of 'I'? the
                > show I heard recently was about the cat parasite that gets into the brain -
                > it can cause blindness in an unborn child, but it mainly wants to get into
                > mice and then it makes the mice more likely to be eaten by a cat, as the
                > mouse becomes less scared of the smell of cats and even is attracted to it.
                > this same parasite gets into the human brain also, and around 1/3 of humans
                > have this parasite, and it also has an effect on humans. women become more
                > warm and homely, men have more negative effects from it. but it brings into
                > question the idea that we are not what we seem, and indeed our personalities
                > are effected by way more than just our own cells, but also the bacteria,
                > viruses, diseases even that we carry with us. how do they communication
                > their desires? How has this evolution taken place? We have indeed as humans
                > always hosted these extras, as they are way more ancient that we are as a
                > species.
                >
                >
                >
                > So yes, in relation to your comments about nature not being 'friendly' I
                > very much agree with you. in fact, I was brought up vegetarian, but
                > recently due to poor health have totally changed to a raging carnivore. But
                > in fact, I realise that all living things have to eat other living things to
                > survive. So the nature of live, is to consume life. And it can't just be
                > live that has died - as they may be bad for our health - but indeed we must
                > cut down other life in its prime in order to carry on our own life.
                >
                >
                >
                > This radio show brought up another interesting observation - that the
                > parasite that comes from birds, comes out in their pooh, onto the mud flats,
                > then infects the local snails, who then take the parasite to the fish, who
                > then develop cists on their brains, and effects their behaviour so that the
                > fish swim to the surface and flip over, creating a flashing from their
                > bellies that attracts the attention of birds, that eat them, thus completing
                > the life cycle for these parasites. I suppose in an other way, it's the
                > survival of the fittest for the fish, as the ones infected by parasites get
                > taken, but the others remain. But it brings up more for me, about
                > motivation and personality. Perhaps we aren't even driving our own lives as
                > much as we feel we are, but are very effected by other species we are
                > hosting. Most average weight humans are carrying about 2 kg of gut
                > bacteria. how's that effecting our choices, what we eat, how we feel, and
                > how many other parasites might have a say in what we do in our lives. There
                > are always interesting and thought provoking things to find out about in the
                > mico and the macro.
                >
                >
                >
                > Perhaps also it's about loving yourself and realising that nothing matters
                > in the end really - in terms of small things. Of course if you've somehow
                > got yourself into jail in Asia for drug smuggling and you're trying to get
                > off the death penalty, then it kind of matters a bit more what you say. But
                > in terms of a job interview or giving a speech at a wedding - it's perhaps
                > less important how you go - you can go for more job interviews and wedding
                > attendants are usually quite forgiving after some wine. Since exploring
                > more of how the universe works I'm feeling more and more like life is a ride
                > and all I have to do is aim to enjoy the ride, as really I don't have that
                > much say in what's going to happen next - and at the end of the day I can
                > only do what I do in any situation. these days, I try to be amused at my
                > failings and am proud of my achievements, even though I'm not sure that I've
                > had much say in either.
                >
                >
                >
                > Why not love nature? Yes, it's a crazy mixed up thing, the sun although it
                > gives life, also emits large amounts of radiation that will one day kill us
                > all - sort of sick really - but amazing, huge and overwhelmingly awe
                > inspiring. I'm not sure if you've got Dr Who over there, but there are
                > quite a few lines in that TV show that express the awe of the universe, even
                > though it is a sci fi tv show.
                >
                >
                >
                > I've often in the past felt jealous of those Jesus loving christians - they
                > have something that I wanted in the past. But I can't be something I'm not
                > - and I realised when I was about 30 that no matter how hard I tried, I just
                > couldn't believe in God - it just didn't make any sense and I'm a very
                > pragmatic and logical person. So I've had to come to terms with who I am
                > and what I believe. I think being true to myself, I'm much more happy that
                > trying to believe in a god and an afterlife that I knew deep down wasn't
                > true, and therefore just left me feeling anxious, scared and vulnerable. I
                > wonder really how many of those christians, and people of any faith do
                > believe what they do, with the evidence being so non-existent. How can they
                > keep justifying their views when there is simply nothing to support their
                > belief? I wonder if they don't have that anxiety and fear. I wonder if we
                > could set up a counselling hot line for those who need to express their
                > doubts about religion in a safe environment, without the judgement of others
                > in their religious group.
                >
                >
                >
                > Anyhow, I'm rambling now..
                >
                > Alice :-)
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                > _____
                >
                > From: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
                > [mailto:naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Fred Pauser
                > Sent: Sunday, 10 October 2010 1:51 am
                > To: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
                > Subject: [naturalismphilosophyforum] Re: Christianity and giving up Free
                > Will
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                > Hi Alice,
                >
                > Thank you for your thoughtful response. I would say you are onto a major
                > part of the answer. Your comments have triggered in me further thoughts on
                > the question.
                >
                > I agree with you about the wonders of nature -- so incredibly awesome! For
                > decades I have been talking walks in the woods because it tends to calm me;
                > and you might say it sort of revives my "spirits." However, nature in
                > impersonal. This fact was made very clear to me several years ago when I
                > came down with Lyme disease (due to being bitten by a deer tick - no doubt
                > encountered in the woods). Nature has no concern for any particular
                > individual -- its laws apply equally to all. If a nature lover accidently
                > slips over the edge of a cliff, the law of gravity takes over without mercy.
                >
                >
                > The Christian God is an all-powerful authority figure who loves, forgives,
                > and is merciful (except for those who reject Him -- don't they supposedly go
                > to hell?)
                >
                > Let's look at this from the standpoint of human psychology. Using myself as
                > an example, at age 5, I went to kindergarten. In the classroom, especially
                > at that young age, the teacher was God. It turned out the teacher came to
                > like me and favor me, thus I became the proverbial "teacher's pet." We had
                > two class plays in which she cast me in the lead role. I performed well and
                > with confidence, because I knew the teacher loved me.
                >
                > In fourth grade it was a very different story. My teacher was a "battle-axe"
                > in my opinion, who did not seem to like me. I remember being called upon to
                > stand in front of the class and recite something. I was absolutely terrified
                > and did a poor job of it.
                >
                > The Christian God, humanized as Jesus, loves those who accept Him,
                > personally and unconditionally. It may require some mental gymnastics to
                > make that seem real, but once that's accomplished, Jesus/God becomes the
                > ultimate "classroom teacher," the ultimate authority figure, the greatest
                > lover.
                >
                > It seems the fanatical fundamentalists are best able to pull off this loving
                > relationship with their God. And they gain human support from their
                > like-minded church members. To the extent that they are out of sync with
                > reality they are destined to eventually fail. We can see over the centuries
                > that the organized religions of the world are losing power as the secular
                > forces of science gain ground.
                >
                > So it appears that one big difference between being a nature lover and a
                > Jesus lover, is that nature is impersonal, it does not particularly seem to
                > love us back.
                >
                > Alice, you said, "it might be to do with love." Yes, I think love is key. I
                > think we need to work at a personal level on developing a more caring, more
                > understanding, and more loving attitude (without resorting to magic) and
                > building supportive networks.
                >
                > Robert Wright (science writer, agnostic) sees humanity as evolving toward
                > greater morality, as we grow through technology, toward becoming one giant
                > world society. My favorite of his three books is Nonzero. Robert has a great
                > ability to look at issues without bias, based only upon evidence and
                > excellent logic.
                >
                > Alice, thanks again!
                >
                > Fred
                >
                > --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
                > <mailto:naturalismphilosophyforum%40yahoogroups.com> , "Alice"
                > <alice1976@> wrote:
                > >
                > > Hi Fred,
                > >
                > > I think it might be to do with love.
                > >
                > > When they give over their 'free will' to god and do as he pleases them to
                > > do, then they are acting out of a great love, reverence and devotion for
                > > their lord.
                > >
                > > I think this triggers in them, in their physiology, those deep feelings of
                > > love - which would indeed cause them to relax more and feel more at ease.
                > >
                > > We can do the same as naturalists. If we see the universe as our creator -
                > > in that we are all part of the same matter - that perhaps was once at one,
                > > and has since exploded to the far reaches of our known universe and has
                > > created many things, through the causal chain of events that lead us to
                > this
                > > moment in time. If we can surrender to this great casual chain of events,
                > > but more than that, love that we have been created by this great casual
                > > chain of events, then we too can experience this sense of awe at the
                > nature
                > > of the universe - but we must be able to maintain this feeling, in order
                > to
                > > maintain the calm.
                > >
                > > If you've ever been at the birth of a baby, then you can be amazed at the
                > > universe - other more every day moments can also trigger these feelings
                > such
                > > as sun rise, sun set, looking at the stars at night, watching children
                > play
                > > and so on.. christians have more of a focus on Jesus, but we have the
                > > reminders around us all the time of the awe of what has been created in
                > our
                > > universe - all living things and all the technology humans have created.
                > >
                > > Actually I see the same in some hippies, who have given over their love to
                > > the 'earth', or environment. They have the same love, reverence and
                > > devotion to the natural world. And why not, we are part of it, and rely on
                > > it for our survival as humans - oxygen, food, atmosphere..
                > >
                > > Alice :-)
                > >
                > >
                > >
                >
              • Alice
                Fred, Yes, I find the prospect of us growing into other spices quite amazing.. That a little part of us will be in this future species. or not perhaps. And
                Message 7 of 13 , Oct 11, 2010

                  Fred,

                   

                  Yes, I find the prospect of us growing into other spices quite amazing…. That a little part of us will be in this future species… or not perhaps…

                  And yes, we don’t need to worry about the sun for a long time.

                  I think it an important correction that you’ve made to my calling nature friendly – as I have personalised ‘nature’ by giving it some sort of personality – being friendly or not friendly – although calling it impersonal seems too distant for me….  each part of the living natural world is on it’s own caused journey that is completely logical to its past.  Nature as a collective may seem impersonal, but each interaction is meaningful according to the natures of those involved.  I suppose though I’m talking about living nature, as opposed to the natural laws of physics.  Life being something that can replicate itself.  The laws of physics being our understanding of the natural laws of the universe.  The laws of physics seem more impersonal – in that they just are – but I suppose also the natural state of a hungry lion is to hunt down some food and eat it – therefore quite impersonal – as in, nothing personal – just hungry.  OK, maybe nature is impersonal.  But I like to think that the word ‘personal’ has a meaning, and it is relevant to us, because it perhaps gives us more meaning to our short quite irrelevant existences… LOL…

                   

                  It’s a bit like that story I heard about the turtle…. Two men walking down a beach, and there were lots of baby turtles stranded on the sand and for some reason they couldn’t get to the sea.  One man started to throw the baby turtles into the sea.  The other man said, what’s the point, it’s not going to make much difference, there are thousands of them.  the other man threw another baby turtle into the sea, and replied – it made a difference to that one!

                   

                  So it becomes personal when it’s you we’re talking about.

                   

                  We do live symbiotically with many different bacteria and who knows what else…  even in fact some parasites seem to enhance a persons experience – the cat parasite that inhabits 1/3 of humans makes women calmer, so they would perhaps prefer to keep the parasite.  I mean we commonly do other things, like drink poison (alcohol) and it has been shown in some studies to benefit our overall health.  Although perhaps drinking grape juice every day might do the same?!

                   

                  I think perhaps seeing nature as a whole, as being connected and in balance – if there is an imbalance one way there are consequences the other way.  The story of Mao, when he got the whole population of china to get rid of the plagues of sparrows and so everyone chased the sparrows until they fell dead from the sky, and then followed many years of famine as the insects the sparrows were eating, ate the crops.  I’m sure cockroaches have their place.  I saw a David Attenborough documentary about how maggots eat all the dead meat, along with other bacteria and insects – so without them who would consume the dead meat – it’s all a cycle of life in balance with each other.  Life adapts to it’s surroundings.  Apparently life started in an environment that now would be very uninhabitable, without an atmosphere or water in hot acidic conditions.  So life has adapted and will adapt.

                   

                  So back to that feeling that the christians get from their love and devotion to their Lord Jesus.  Surely we can conjure up a similar feeling, based on these facts we have mentioned between us, regarding nature – in fact we could almost say that ‘nature’ had a very similar description to the christian god?  Except that the christian god seems to be personal… and nature impersonal – so one tracks your behaviour in terms of not being gay or not cheating on your wife… and the other just responds naturally to your behaviour….  I think we’ve got a lot more freedom being naturalists than christians do – they are very much restricted, by somewhat ‘primitive’ directions.  Many of their ‘laws’ are probably quite sensible, but it’s better I think to understand the reasons rather than go with dogma.  Not that we by any means know all there is to know – but if you cheat on your spouse you might get pregnant, an STD and ruin your marriage… all good reasons to stay faithful.

                   

                  But how do we as naturalists encapsulate this feeling towards nature, without having an embodiment to focus on, like Jesus?  The other thing that Christians and other faiths do, is to remember the same thing over and over again, so that it embeds in the neural networks of the brain and so it becomes easy to remember.  A sort of brainwashing.  I’ve used this same technique to help my marriage.  So decide one line that I think will help improve our relationship, and then use it over and over again through the day.  another lady I saw used this technique to loss weight – every time she saw food she used to eat, she said to herself – but I don’t do that any more.  And it appears to have worked for her and her sister, who both use this reinforcing technique.  I think you’ll find that christians do this also.  every time someone is ‘losing their way’, someone in the gathering will remind them to remember Jesus and carry on with love.

                   

                  I’ll have a look at the paper soon,

                   

                  Alice J

                   

                   

                   


                  From: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com [mailto: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com ] On Behalf Of Fred Pauser
                  Sent: Tuesday, 12 October 2010 6:44 am
                  To: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: [naturalismphilosophyforum] Re: Christianity and giving up Free Will

                   

                   


                  Hi Alice ,

                  you wrote: "we are a collection of single cells, making up a collective that are the `I'. but what about the effects of parasites, funguses and bacteria – even viruses on our idea of `I'"…

                  You certainly understand something of the cooperative, interactive, profoundly interdependent aspects of nature. Such insights are very significant, although poorly recognized by most people. Here you focus on the parasites and micro-activities that seem to us rather horrible. Let me add, it is also true that many microorganisms are directly and indirectly helpful to us humans. In fact, we could not live without them! You probably understand this point also, but we should mention it to balance the picture.

                  You wrote: " So yes, in relation to your comments about nature not being `friendly' I very much agree with you."

                  Well, I did not say that nature is not friendly -- I said nature is "impersonal." The various manifestations of nature may at times seem to help us or to harm us, but nature is neither friendly nor unfriendly. The laws of nature work the same without regard for any particular individual. But it may be argued that from a Big Picture perspective that perhaps nature overall is friendly in that it has enabled intelligent, feeling creatures such as us to evolve, to come to be (Robert Wright). I wrote a blog piece last year, Why So Much Pain and Suffering, that has received positive attention, which I think has some bearing on this discussion:

                  http://www.science20.com/what039s_true_reality/why_so_much_pain_and_suffering_world

                  You wrote: " Why not love nature?"

                  Yes, as you said, nature is "amazing, huge and overwhelmingly awe inspiring."

                  You mentioned lethal radiation of the sun killing us some day, but that's not expected for what, some billions of years? By then we as Homo sapiens will have long ceased to exist as a species, having either been out-competed or having evolved into new species. It seems a good possibility that millions of years into the future, species of far greater capabilities than our own will exist.

                  In the meantime, we humans, governed by the pleasure/pain principle, will try to improve and advance our capabilities as best we can. This is fundamental to our nature, as it is fundamental to the overall directional impetus of evolution since the emergence of life.

                  Fred

                  --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, " Alice " <alice1976@...> wrote:

                  >
                  > Hi Fred,
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > I was thinking the same recently, when listening to a radio show on radio
                  > national Australia
                  about how parasites change the behaviour and desire of
                  > the host. this got me thinking about cells and communication and what
                  makes
                  > an 'I'. another radio show talked about the worm, which is a collection of
                  > single cell organisms that get together when they need to mate, so that
                  they
                  > can get to the surface (they live underground). Humans and all large
                  > creatures are kind of like that - we are a collection of single cells,
                  > making up a collective that are the 'I'. but what about the effects of
                  > parasites, funguses and bacteria - even viruses on our idea of 'I'? the
                  > show I heard recently was about the cat parasite that gets into the brain
                  -
                  > it can cause blindness in an unborn child, but it mainly wants to get into
                  > mice and then it makes the mice more likely to be eaten by a cat, as the
                  > mouse becomes less scared of the smell of cats and even is attracted to
                  it.
                  > this same parasite gets into the human brain also, and around 1/3 of
                  humans
                  > have this parasite, and it also has an effect on humans. women become more
                  > warm and homely, men have more negative effects from it. but it brings
                  into
                  > question the idea that we are not what we seem, and indeed our
                  personalities
                  > are effected by way more than just our own cells, but also the bacteria,
                  > viruses, diseases even that we carry with us. how do they communication
                  > their desires? How has this evolution taken place? We have indeed as
                  humans
                  > always hosted these extras, as they are way more ancient that we are as a
                  > species.
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > So yes, in relation to your comments about nature not being 'friendly' I
                  > very much agree with you. in fact, I was brought up vegetarian, but
                  > recently due to poor health have totally changed to a raging carnivore.
                  But
                  > in fact, I realise that all living things have to eat other living things
                  to
                  > survive. So the nature of live, is to consume life. And it can't just be
                  > live that has died - as they may be bad for our health - but indeed we
                  must
                  > cut down other life in its prime in order to carry on our own life.
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > This radio show brought up another interesting observation - that the
                  > parasite that comes from birds, comes out in their pooh, onto the mud
                  flats,
                  > then infects the local snails, who then take the parasite to the fish, who
                  > then develop cists on their brains, and effects their behaviour so that
                  the
                  > fish swim to the surface and flip over, creating a flashing from their
                  > bellies that attracts the attention of birds, that eat them, thus
                  completing
                  > the life cycle for these parasites. I suppose in an other way, it's the
                  > survival of the fittest for the fish, as the ones infected by parasites
                  get
                  > taken, but the others remain. But it brings up more for me, about
                  > motivation and personality. Perhaps we aren't even driving our own lives
                  as
                  > much as we feel we are, but are very effected by other species we are
                  > hosting. Most average weight humans are carrying about 2 kg of gut
                  > bacteria. how's that effecting our choices, what we eat, how we feel, and
                  > how many other parasites might have a say in what we do in our lives.
                  There
                  > are always interesting and thought provoking things to find out about in
                  the
                  > mico and the macro.
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > Perhaps also it's about loving yourself and realising that nothing matters
                  > in the end really - in terms of small things. Of course if you've somehow
                  > got yourself into jail in Asia for drug
                  smuggling and you're trying to get
                  > off the death penalty, then it kind of matters a bit more what you say.
                  But
                  > in terms of a job interview or giving a speech at a wedding - it's perhaps
                  > less important how you go - you can go for more job interviews and wedding
                  > attendants are usually quite forgiving after some wine. Since exploring
                  > more of how the universe works I'm feeling more and more like life is a
                  ride
                  > and all I have to do is aim to enjoy the ride, as really I don't have that
                  > much say in what's going to happen next - and at the end of the day I can
                  > only do what I do in any situation. these days, I try to be amused at my
                  > failings and am proud of my achievements, even though I'm not sure that
                  I've
                  > had much say in either.
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > Why not love nature? Yes, it's a crazy mixed up thing, the sun although it
                  > gives life, also emits large amounts of radiation that will one day kill
                  us
                  > all - sort of sick really - but amazing, huge and overwhelmingly awe
                  > inspiring. I'm not sure if you've got Dr Who over there, but there are
                  > quite a few lines in that TV show that express the awe of the universe,
                  even
                  > though it is a sci fi tv show.
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > I've often in the past felt jealous of those Jesus loving christians -
                  they
                  > have something that I wanted in the past. But I can't be something I'm not
                  > - and I realised when I was about 30 that no matter how hard I tried, I
                  just
                  > couldn't believe in God - it just didn't make any sense and I'm a very
                  > pragmatic and logical person. So I've had to come to terms with who I am
                  > and what I believe. I think being true to myself, I'm much more happy that
                  > trying to believe in a god and an afterlife that I knew deep down wasn't
                  > true, and therefore just left me feeling anxious, scared and vulnerable. I
                  > wonder really how many of those christians, and people of any faith do
                  > believe what they do, with the evidence being so non-existent. How can
                  they
                  > keep justifying their views when there is simply nothing to support their
                  > belief? I wonder if they don't have that anxiety and fear. I wonder if we
                  > could set up a counselling hot line for those who need to express their
                  > doubts about religion in a safe environment, without the judgement of
                  others
                  > in their religious group.
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > Anyhow, I'm rambling now..
                  >
                  > Alice
                  :-)
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > _____
                  >
                  > From: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
                  > [mailto:naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com]
                  On Behalf Of Fred Pauser
                  > Sent: Sunday, 10 October 2010 1:51 am
                  > To: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
                  > Subject: [naturalismphilosophyforum] Re: Christianity and giving up Free
                  > Will
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > Hi Alice ,
                  >
                  > Thank you for your thoughtful response. I would say you are onto a major
                  > part of the answer. Your comments have triggered in me further thoughts on
                  > the question.
                  >
                  > I agree with you about the wonders of nature -- so incredibly awesome! For
                  > decades I have been talking walks in the woods because it tends to calm
                  me;
                  > and you might say it sort of revives my "spirits." However,
                  nature in
                  > impersonal. This fact was made very clear to me several years ago when I
                  > came down with Lyme disease (due to being bitten by a deer tick - no doubt
                  > encountered in the woods). Nature has no concern for any particular
                  > individual -- its laws apply equally to all. If a nature lover accidently
                  > slips over the edge of a cliff, the law of gravity takes over without
                  mercy.
                  >
                  >
                  > The Christian God is an all-powerful authority figure who loves, forgives,
                  > and is merciful (except for those who reject Him -- don't they supposedly
                  go
                  > to hell?)
                  >
                  > Let's look at this from the standpoint of human psychology. Using myself
                  as
                  > an example, at age 5, I went to kindergarten. In the classroom, especially
                  > at that young age, the teacher was God. It turned out the teacher came to
                  > like me and favor me, thus I became the proverbial "teacher's
                  pet." We had
                  > two class plays in which she cast me in the lead role. I performed well
                  and
                  > with confidence, because I knew the teacher loved me.
                  >
                  > In fourth grade it was a very different story. My teacher was a
                  "battle-axe"
                  > in my opinion, who did not seem to like me. I remember being called upon
                  to
                  > stand in front of the class and recite something. I was absolutely
                  terrified
                  > and did a poor job of it.
                  >
                  > The Christian God, humanized as Jesus, loves those who accept Him,
                  > personally and unconditionally. It may require some mental gymnastics to
                  > make that seem real, but once that's accomplished, Jesus/God becomes the
                  > ultimate "classroom teacher," the ultimate authority figure, the
                  greatest
                  > lover.
                  >
                  > It seems the fanatical fundamentalists are best able to pull off this
                  loving
                  > relationship with their God. And they gain human support from their
                  > like-minded church members. To the extent that they are out of sync with
                  > reality they are destined to eventually fail. We can see over the
                  centuries
                  > that the organized religions of the world are losing power as the secular
                  > forces of science gain ground.
                  >
                  > So it appears that one big difference between being a nature lover and a
                  > Jesus lover, is that nature is impersonal, it does not particularly seem
                  to
                  > love us back.
                  >
                  > Alice , you said, "it might
                  be to do with love." Yes, I think love is key. I
                  > think we need to work at a personal level on developing a more caring,
                  more
                  > understanding, and more loving attitude (without resorting to magic) and
                  > building supportive networks.
                  >
                  > Robert Wright (science writer, agnostic) sees humanity as evolving toward
                  > greater morality, as we grow through technology, toward becoming one giant
                  > world society. My favorite of his three books is Nonzero. Robert has a
                  great
                  > ability to look at issues without bias, based only upon evidence and
                  > excellent logic.
                  >
                  > Alice ,
                  thanks again!
                  >
                  > Fred
                  >
                  > --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
                  > <mailto:naturalismphilosophyforum%40yahoogroups.com> , "
                  w:st="on"> Alice "
                  > <alice1976@> wrote:
                  > >
                  > > Hi Fred,
                  > >
                  > > I think it might be to do with love.
                  > >
                  > > When they give over their 'free will' to god and do as he pleases
                  them to
                  > > do, then they are acting out of a great love, reverence and devotion
                  for
                  > > their lord.
                  > >
                  > > I think this triggers in them, in their physiology, those deep
                  feelings of
                  > > love - which would indeed cause them to relax more and feel more at
                  ease.
                  > >
                  > > We can do the same as naturalists. If we see the universe as our
                  creator -
                  > > in that we are all part of the same matter - that perhaps was once at
                  one,
                  > > and has since exploded to the far reaches of our known universe and
                  has
                  > > created many things, through the causal chain of events that lead us
                  to
                  > this
                  > > moment in time. If we can surrender to this great casual chain of
                  events,
                  > > but more than that, love that we have been created by this great
                  casual
                  > > chain of events, then we too can experience this sense of awe at the
                  > nature
                  > > of the universe - but we must be able to maintain this feeling, in
                  order
                  > to
                  > > maintain the calm.
                  > >
                  > > If you've ever been at the birth of a baby, then you can be amazed at
                  the
                  > > universe - other more every day moments can also trigger these
                  feelings
                  > such
                  > > as sun rise, sun set, looking at the stars at night, watching
                  children
                  > play
                  > > and so on.. christians have more of a focus on Jesus, but we have the
                  > > reminders around us all the time of the awe of what has been created
                  in
                  > our
                  > > universe - all living things and all the technology humans have
                  created.
                  > >
                  > > Actually I see the same in some hippies, who have given over their
                  love to
                  > > the 'earth', or environment. They have the same love, reverence and
                  > > devotion to the natural world. And why not, we are part of it, and
                  rely on
                  > > it for our survival as humans - oxygen, food, atmosphere..
                  > >
                  > > Alice
                  :-)
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  >

                • Alice
                  Hi Fred, I ve read your article, which is interesting and thought provoking. I felt compelled to respond to this. The human propensity to suffer the pain of
                  Message 8 of 13 , Oct 11, 2010

                    Hi Fred,

                     

                    I’ve read your article, which is interesting and thought provoking.

                     

                    I felt compelled to respond to this…

                     

                    The human propensity to suffer the pain of anxiety through the ability to imagine

                     

                    I haven’t studied this, but I would have thought that all animals experience anxiety – it is a state in the moment, caused by histamines and hormones in the blood system travelling through the body and organs, triggering a physiological reaction – even though the state causes humans to think of the future; what might happen and they can imagine many things – but also any other animal will do the same.  I think animals that have suffered distress when young could be more prone to this – or in fact it could be attributed to types of bacteria reacting with energy rich foods such as carbohydrates and sugars, as I’ve found in my own life, changing my diet and taking probiotics have much reduced my anxiety, even though external factors in my life haven’t changed much.

                     

                    I would also say that it’s not only the imagination that causes increased anxiety – but our ability to communicate, through words and pictures.  If a gazelle was exposed to video footage of lions killing gazelles in different tv dramas from a young age, it’s possible that it too would experience more anxiety generally.

                     

                    Alice J

                     


                    From: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com [mailto: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com ] On Behalf Of Fred Pauser
                    Sent: Tuesday, 12 October 2010 6:44 am
                    To: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: [naturalismphilosophyforum] Re: Christianity and giving up Free Will

                     

                     


                    Hi Alice ,

                    you wrote: "we are a collection of single cells, making up a collective that are the `I'. but what about the effects of parasites, funguses and bacteria – even viruses on our idea of `I'"…

                    You certainly understand something of the cooperative, interactive, profoundly interdependent aspects of nature. Such insights are very significant, although poorly recognized by most people. Here you focus on the parasites and micro-activities that seem to us rather horrible. Let me add, it is also true that many microorganisms are directly and indirectly helpful to us humans. In fact, we could not live without them! You probably understand this point also, but we should mention it to balance the picture.

                    You wrote: " So yes, in relation to your comments about nature not being `friendly' I very much agree with you."

                    Well, I did not say that nature is not friendly -- I said nature is "impersonal." The various manifestations of nature may at times seem to help us or to harm us, but nature is neither friendly nor unfriendly. The laws of nature work the same without regard for any particular individual. But it may be argued that from a Big Picture perspective that perhaps nature overall is friendly in that it has enabled intelligent, feeling creatures such as us to evolve, to come to be (Robert Wright). I wrote a blog piece last year, Why So Much Pain and Suffering, that has received positive attention, which I think has some bearing on this discussion:

                    http://www.science20.com/what039s_true_reality/why_so_much_pain_and_suffering_world

                    You wrote: " Why not love nature?"

                    Yes, as you said, nature is "amazing, huge and overwhelmingly awe inspiring."

                    You mentioned lethal radiation of the sun killing us some day, but that's not expected for what, some billions of years? By then we as Homo sapiens will have long ceased to exist as a species, having either been out-competed or having evolved into new species. It seems a good possibility that millions of years into the future, species of far greater capabilities than our own will exist.

                    In the meantime, we humans, governed by the pleasure/pain principle, will try to improve and advance our capabilities as best we can. This is fundamental to our nature, as it is fundamental to the overall directional impetus of evolution since the emergence of life.

                    Fred

                    --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, " Alice " <alice1976@...> wrote:

                    >
                    > Hi Fred,
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > I was thinking the same recently, when listening to a radio show on radio
                    > national Australia
                    about how parasites change the behaviour and desire of
                    > the host. this got me thinking about cells and communication and what
                    makes
                    > an 'I'. another radio show talked about the worm, which is a collection of
                    > single cell organisms that get together when they need to mate, so that
                    they
                    > can get to the surface (they live underground). Humans and all large
                    > creatures are kind of like that - we are a collection of single cells,
                    > making up a collective that are the 'I'. but what about the effects of
                    > parasites, funguses and bacteria - even viruses on our idea of 'I'? the
                    > show I heard recently was about the cat parasite that gets into the brain
                    -
                    > it can cause blindness in an unborn child, but it mainly wants to get into
                    > mice and then it makes the mice more likely to be eaten by a cat, as the
                    > mouse becomes less scared of the smell of cats and even is attracted to
                    it.
                    > this same parasite gets into the human brain also, and around 1/3 of
                    humans
                    > have this parasite, and it also has an effect on humans. women become more
                    > warm and homely, men have more negative effects from it. but it brings
                    into
                    > question the idea that we are not what we seem, and indeed our
                    personalities
                    > are effected by way more than just our own cells, but also the bacteria,
                    > viruses, diseases even that we carry with us. how do they communication
                    > their desires? How has this evolution taken place? We have indeed as
                    humans
                    > always hosted these extras, as they are way more ancient that we are as a
                    > species.
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > So yes, in relation to your comments about nature not being 'friendly' I
                    > very much agree with you. in fact, I was brought up vegetarian, but
                    > recently due to poor health have totally changed to a raging carnivore.
                    But
                    > in fact, I realise that all living things have to eat other living things
                    to
                    > survive. So the nature of live, is to consume life. And it can't just be
                    > live that has died - as they may be bad for our health - but indeed we
                    must
                    > cut down other life in its prime in order to carry on our own life.
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > This radio show brought up another interesting observation - that the
                    > parasite that comes from birds, comes out in their pooh, onto the mud
                    flats,
                    > then infects the local snails, who then take the parasite to the fish, who
                    > then develop cists on their brains, and effects their behaviour so that
                    the
                    > fish swim to the surface and flip over, creating a flashing from their
                    > bellies that attracts the attention of birds, that eat them, thus
                    completing
                    > the life cycle for these parasites. I suppose in an other way, it's the
                    > survival of the fittest for the fish, as the ones infected by parasites
                    get
                    > taken, but the others remain. But it brings up more for me, about
                    > motivation and personality. Perhaps we aren't even driving our own lives
                    as
                    > much as we feel we are, but are very effected by other species we are
                    > hosting. Most average weight humans are carrying about 2 kg of gut
                    > bacteria. how's that effecting our choices, what we eat, how we feel, and
                    > how many other parasites might have a say in what we do in our lives.
                    There
                    > are always interesting and thought provoking things to find out about in
                    the
                    > mico and the macro.
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > Perhaps also it's about loving yourself and realising that nothing matters
                    > in the end really - in terms of small things. Of course if you've somehow
                    > got yourself into jail in Asia for drug
                    smuggling and you're trying to get
                    > off the death penalty, then it kind of matters a bit more what you say.
                    But
                    > in terms of a job interview or giving a speech at a wedding - it's perhaps
                    > less important how you go - you can go for more job interviews and wedding
                    > attendants are usually quite forgiving after some wine. Since exploring
                    > more of how the universe works I'm feeling more and more like life is a
                    ride
                    > and all I have to do is aim to enjoy the ride, as really I don't have that
                    > much say in what's going to happen next - and at the end of the day I can
                    > only do what I do in any situation. these days, I try to be amused at my
                    > failings and am proud of my achievements, even though I'm not sure that
                    I've
                    > had much say in either.
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > Why not love nature? Yes, it's a crazy mixed up thing, the sun although it
                    > gives life, also emits large amounts of radiation that will one day kill
                    us
                    > all - sort of sick really - but amazing, huge and overwhelmingly awe
                    > inspiring. I'm not sure if you've got Dr Who over there, but there are
                    > quite a few lines in that TV show that express the awe of the universe,
                    even
                    > though it is a sci fi tv show.
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > I've often in the past felt jealous of those Jesus loving christians -
                    they
                    > have something that I wanted in the past. But I can't be something I'm not
                    > - and I realised when I was about 30 that no matter how hard I tried, I
                    just
                    > couldn't believe in God - it just didn't make any sense and I'm a very
                    > pragmatic and logical person. So I've had to come to terms with who I am
                    > and what I believe. I think being true to myself, I'm much more happy that
                    > trying to believe in a god and an afterlife that I knew deep down wasn't
                    > true, and therefore just left me feeling anxious, scared and vulnerable. I
                    > wonder really how many of those christians, and people of any faith do
                    > believe what they do, with the evidence being so non-existent. How can
                    they
                    > keep justifying their views when there is simply nothing to support their
                    > belief? I wonder if they don't have that anxiety and fear. I wonder if we
                    > could set up a counselling hot line for those who need to express their
                    > doubts about religion in a safe environment, without the judgement of
                    others
                    > in their religious group.
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > Anyhow, I'm rambling now..
                    >
                    > Alice
                    :-)
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > _____
                    >
                    > From: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
                    > [mailto:naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com]
                    On Behalf Of Fred Pauser
                    > Sent: Sunday, 10 October 2010 1:51 am
                    > To: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
                    > Subject: [naturalismphilosophyforum] Re: Christianity and giving up Free
                    > Will
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > Hi Alice ,
                    >
                    > Thank you for your thoughtful response. I would say you are onto a major
                    > part of the answer. Your comments have triggered in me further thoughts on
                    > the question.
                    >
                    > I agree with you about the wonders of nature -- so incredibly awesome! For
                    > decades I have been talking walks in the woods because it tends to calm
                    me;
                    > and you might say it sort of revives my "spirits." However, nature
                    in
                    > impersonal. This fact was made very clear to me several years ago when I
                    > came down with Lyme disease (due to being bitten by a deer tick - no doubt
                    > encountered in the woods). Nature has no concern for any particular
                    > individual -- its laws apply equally to all. If a nature lover accidently
                    > slips over the edge of a cliff, the law of gravity takes over without
                    mercy.
                    >
                    >
                    > The Christian God is an all-powerful authority figure who loves, forgives,
                    > and is merciful (except for those who reject Him -- don't they supposedly
                    go
                    > to hell?)
                    >
                    > Let's look at this from the standpoint of human psychology. Using myself
                    as
                    > an example, at age 5, I went to kindergarten. In the classroom, especially
                    > at that young age, the teacher was God. It turned out the teacher came to
                    > like me and favor me, thus I became the proverbial "teacher's
                    pet." We had
                    > two class plays in which she cast me in the lead role. I performed well
                    and
                    > with confidence, because I knew the teacher loved me.
                    >
                    > In fourth grade it was a very different story. My teacher was a
                    "battle-axe"
                    > in my opinion, who did not seem to like me. I remember being called upon
                    to
                    > stand in front of the class and recite something. I was absolutely
                    terrified
                    > and did a poor job of it.
                    >
                    > The Christian God, humanized as Jesus, loves those who accept Him,
                    > personally and unconditionally. It may require some mental gymnastics to
                    > make that seem real, but once that's accomplished, Jesus/God becomes the
                    > ultimate "classroom teacher," the ultimate authority figure, the
                    greatest
                    > lover.
                    >
                    > It seems the fanatical fundamentalists are best able to pull off this
                    loving
                    > relationship with their God. And they gain human support from their
                    > like-minded church members. To the extent that they are out of sync with
                    > reality they are destined to eventually fail. We can see over the
                    centuries
                    > that the organized religions of the world are losing power as the secular
                    > forces of science gain ground.
                    >
                    > So it appears that one big difference between being a nature lover and a
                    > Jesus lover, is that nature is impersonal, it does not particularly seem
                    to
                    > love us back.
                    >
                    > Alice , you said, "it might
                    be to do with love." Yes, I think love is key. I
                    > think we need to work at a personal level on developing a more caring,
                    more
                    > understanding, and more loving attitude (without resorting to magic) and
                    > building supportive networks.
                    >
                    > Robert Wright (science writer, agnostic) sees humanity as evolving toward
                    > greater morality, as we grow through technology, toward becoming one giant
                    > world society. My favorite of his three books is Nonzero. Robert has a
                    great
                    > ability to look at issues without bias, based only upon evidence and
                    > excellent logic.
                    >
                    > Alice ,
                    thanks again!
                    >
                    > Fred
                    >
                    > --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
                    > <mailto:naturalismphilosophyforum%40yahoogroups.com> , "
                    w:st="on"> Alice "
                    > <alice1976@> wrote:
                    > >
                    > > Hi Fred,
                    > >
                    > > I think it might be to do with love.
                    > >
                    > > When they give over their 'free will' to god and do as he pleases
                    them to
                    > > do, then they are acting out of a great love, reverence and devotion
                    for
                    > > their lord.
                    > >
                    > > I think this triggers in them, in their physiology, those deep
                    feelings of
                    > > love - which would indeed cause them to relax more and feel more at
                    ease.
                    > >
                    > > We can do the same as naturalists. If we see the universe as our
                    creator -
                    > > in that we are all part of the same matter - that perhaps was once at
                    one,
                    > > and has since exploded to the far reaches of our known universe and
                    has
                    > > created many things, through the causal chain of events that lead us
                    to
                    > this
                    > > moment in time. If we can surrender to this great casual chain of
                    events,
                    > > but more than that, love that we have been created by this great
                    casual
                    > > chain of events, then we too can experience this sense of awe at the
                    > nature
                    > > of the universe - but we must be able to maintain this feeling, in
                    order
                    > to
                    > > maintain the calm.
                    > >
                    > > If you've ever been at the birth of a baby, then you can be amazed at
                    the
                    > > universe - other more every day moments can also trigger these
                    feelings
                    > such
                    > > as sun rise, sun set, looking at the stars at night, watching
                    children
                    > play
                    > > and so on.. christians have more of a focus on Jesus, but we have the
                    > > reminders around us all the time of the awe of what has been created
                    in
                    > our
                    > > universe - all living things and all the technology humans have
                    created.
                    > >
                    > > Actually I see the same in some hippies, who have given over their
                    love to
                    > > the 'earth', or environment. They have the same love, reverence and
                    > > devotion to the natural world. And why not, we are part of it, and
                    rely on
                    > > it for our survival as humans - oxygen, food, atmosphere..
                    > >
                    > > Alice
                    :-)
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    >

                  • Alice
                    Hi all, I m just reading Susan Blackmore s book consciousness, a very short introduction - finally got around to it.. I had to laugh and share this with you..
                    Message 9 of 13 , Oct 28, 2010

                      Hi all,

                       

                      I’m just reading Susan Blackmore’s book consciousness, a very short introduction – finally got around to it….

                      I had to laugh and share this with you….  she is talking about the experiments of Libet and ends with -

                       

                      “From this he argued for the existence of a ‘conscious veto’.  Consciousness could not initiate the wrist flexion, he said, but it could act to prevent it.  In other words, although we do not have free will, we do have ‘free won’t’.”

                       

                      I thought that a very funny concept.

                       

                      What do you think of that one Stephen?

                       

                      Alice J

                    • stephnlawrnce@aol.com
                      Hi Alice “From this he argued for the existence of a ‘conscious veto’. Consciousness could not initiate the wrist flexion, he said, but it could act to
                      Message 10 of 13 , Oct 29, 2010
                        Hi Alice :-)
                        “From this he argued for the existence of a ‘conscious veto’.  Consciousness could not initiate the wrist flexion, he said, but it could act to prevent it.  In other words, although we do not have free will, we do have ‘free won’t’.”
                         
                        I thought that a very funny concept.
                         
                        What do you think of that one Stephen?
                        What I think is he isn't talking about free will or at least the version I/we? are interested in and nor is Susan Blackmore.
                        They are talking about conscious control, whatever that is.
                         
                        The problem is people believe we could have done otherwise in a way that is impossible and that's a different subject. That's what we call free will, right?
                         
                        I think scientists are brilliant at what they do but when I listen to them talk about free will, often they don't seem to have a clear definition of it in their minds, so when doing science to answer philosophical questions they don't achieve the results they think they are achieving.
                         
                        What role consciousness is playing, or if it's playing any role at all is interesting but won't make the slightest difference over the question of the mythological type of could do otherwise that denies that ultimately "luck swallows everything." .
                         
                        all the best,
                         
                        Stephen
                         
                         
                         

                         


                        -----Original Message-----
                        From: Alice <alice1976@...>
                        To: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
                        Sent: Thu, 28 Oct 2010 8:22
                        Subject: [naturalismphilosophyforum] susan blackmore

                         
                        Hi all,
                         
                        I’m just reading Susan Blackmore’s book consciousness, a very short introduction – finally got around to it….
                        I had to laugh and share this with you….  she is talking about the experiments of Libet and ends with -
                         
                        “From this he argued for the existence of a ‘conscious veto’.  Consciousness could not initiate the wrist flexion, he said, but it could act to prevent it.  In other words, although we do not have free will, we do have ‘free won’t’.”
                         
                        I thought that a very funny concept.
                         
                        What do you think of that one Stephen?
                         
                        Alice J
                      • Alice
                        You know when I was 16 years old, I could have eaten this topic for breakfast. but my brain is so slow these days. it seems full of fog on the matter. :-)
                        Message 11 of 13 , Oct 30, 2010

                          You know when I was 16 years old, I could have eaten this topic for breakfast… but my brain is so slow these days…  it seems full of fog on the matter… J

                          Yes, Susan seems to be saying that consciousness is really just another illusion, along with free will, or the ability to do something contra casual.  It was good reading her book.  I like that she stated that it’s almost universally accepted that the universe is determined.  In that it is a caused chain of events from day one to now.  But for some reason people don’t like to attribute that same logic to humans.  because we ‘feel’ like we have free will.  Presumably it’s because people aren’t aware or conscious of the pre decision making process and so they feel as though they decided.  Like she says with people who have their brains cut in half – the left, language side of the brain actually made up a story about why the right brain controlled left hand had chosen a certain shape – but wasn’t at all confused about the story or aware that he had made it up.  I suppose we all do this all the time.  it’s much more easy to see in children.  When I ask my 4 year old what the sun does – I get a really interesting explanation about if you’re in the sun it keeps you alive, but if you stay in it for too long you will die, so the job of the sun is to keep us alive – or how the street lights come on, he is more than happy to provide any number of detailed explanations about why and how things happen in the world around him, and seems really to feel like he is quite right.  Even my 9 year old has this logic.  He was in tears the other day, because his father said that he had to make a phone call and so unplugged the dial up internet.  To my 9 year old, he had worked out that if you unplug the internet half way through a download, it would never go past that down load again and so you would be incapable of seeing the website for ever….

                          Interesting about the God thing also.  as she was saying that we see people having an impact and effecting things.  So we need an explanation for the sun, wind, volcano’s etc.  someone must have done them – hence the creation of God.

                          Alice J

                           


                          From: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com [mailto: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com ] On Behalf Of stephnlawrnce@...
                          Sent: Saturday, 30 October 2010 4:21 pm
                          To: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
                          Subject: Re: [naturalismphilosophyforum] susan blackmore

                           

                           

                          Hi Alice :-)

                          “From this he argued for the existence of a ‘conscious veto’.  Consciousness could not initiate the wrist flexion, he said, but it could act to prevent it.  In other words, although we do not have free will, we do have ‘free won’t’.”

                           

                          I thought that a very funny concept.

                           

                          What do you think of that one Stephen?

                          What I think is he isn't talking about free will or at least the version I/we? are interested in and nor is Susan Blackmore.

                          They are talking about conscious control, whatever that is.

                           

                          The problem is people believe we could have done otherwise in a way that is impossible and that's a different subject. That's what we call free will, right?

                           

                          I think scientists are brilliant at what they do but when I listen to them talk about free will, often they don't seem to have a clear definition of it in their minds, so when doing science to answer philosophical questions they don't achieve the results they think they are achieving.

                           

                          What role consciousness is playing, or if it's playing any role at all is interesting but won't make the slightest difference over the question of the mythological type of could do otherwise that denies that ultimately "luck swallows everything." .

                           

                          all the best,

                           

                          Stephen

                           

                           

                           


                           

                           

                          -----Original Message-----
                          From: Alice <alice1976@...>
                          To: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
                          Sent: Thu, 28 Oct 2010 8:22
                          Subject: [naturalismphilosophyforum] susan blackmore

                           

                          Hi all,

                           

                          I’m just reading Susan Blackmore’s book consciousness, a very short introduction – finally got around to it….

                          I had to laugh and share this with you….  she is talking about the experiments of Libet and ends with -

                           

                          “From this he argued for the existence of a ‘conscious veto’.  Consciousness could not initiate the wrist flexion, he said, but it could act to prevent it.  In other words, although we do not have free will, we do have ‘free won’t’.”

                           

                          I thought that a very funny concept.

                           

                          What do you think of that one Stephen?

                           

                          Alice J

                        • Jim House
                          My first post to the group: Can we apply Occam to this argument? Isn t Susan stuck on the old irreversibility of time issue? Yes, physics would be so much
                          Message 12 of 13 , Oct 31, 2010

                            My first post to the group:

                             

                            Can we apply Occam to this argument? Isn’t Susan stuck on the old irreversibility of time issue?

                             

                            Yes, physics would be so much neater if time was symmetrical, but it isn’t, the arrow only points in one direction. So if it is not possible to reverse an action once taken can it appear that the action was preordained?

                             

                            However irreversibility is not the same as preordination.

                             

                            Respectfully,

                             

                            James D. House

                            jdhouse@...

                             

                            California is earthquake country, are you prepared?  Join or start a CERT team in your neighborhood and prepare yourself and your family with a three week supply of necessities. Details at  https://www.citizencorps.gov/cert/

                             

                             

                          • Alice
                            True, good point. Alice :-) _____ From: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com [mailto:naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Jim House
                            Message 13 of 13 , Oct 31, 2010

                              True, good point.

                              Alice J

                               


                              From: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com [mailto: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com ] On Behalf Of Jim House
                              Sent: Monday, 1 November 2010 5:33 am
                              To: naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com
                              Subject: [naturalismphilosophyforum] Re: susan blackmore

                               

                               

                              My first post to the group:

                               

                              Can we apply Occam to this argument? Isn’t Susan stuck on the old irreversibility of time issue?

                               

                              Yes, physics would be so much neater if time was symmetrical, but it isn’t, the arrow only points in one direction. So if it is not possible to reverse an action once taken can it appear that the action was preordained?

                               

                              However irreversibility is not the same as preordination.

                               

                              Respectfully,

                               

                              James D. House

                              jdhouse@...

                               

                              California is earthquake country, are you prepared?  Join or start a CERT team in your neighborhood and prepare yourself and your family with a three week supply of necessities. Details at  https://www.citizencorps.gov/cert/

                               

                               

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