Thursday, May 28, 2009

Proposition 8: The Hypocrisy

With the recent decision by the California Supreme Court to uphold Proposition 8, the fight for same-sex marriage continues. Some are now litigating the question of conflict between the California Constitution and the US Constitution in regard to equal rights. Others feel that this move is premature, and could worsen the situation for equal marriage rights should the US Supreme Court decide against them. Of course, the US Constitution has been interpreted over the years by the US Supreme Court to support "separate but equal" education for those of African descent, and then later to abolish that same institution as unconstitutional. What is or isn't legally permissible depends on the social and political climate of the time, and the views of the justices.

I'm going to have to restrain myself from shouting, "piss off, bigots!" and slamming the door the next time a pair of Mormon missionaries arrive on my doorstep. My irony meter goes off whenever I think of all the money the LDS church poured into Proposition 8, when they're the ones who refused to give up their own idea of proper (plural) marriage, even after being invaded by the US Army! Although, they later sacrificed their religious convictions in exchange for Utah's statehood (their prophet got a message from God that one of the core tenets of their faith was no longer necessary - a bit financially expedient, their god!).

It is difficult for me to understand the level of hypocrisy required for a minority group that prided itself on standing up to the US government for the sake of their own marriage rights, to actively participate in, and now gloat over, another minority group having theirs taken away by that same authority. And here I thought they'd learned some sort of lesson by finally admitting black men into the priesthood in the late 1970's. I think this had as much to do with the church being behind the times in regard to the US civil rights movement as it did with their desire to spread their religion into countries with dark-skinned inhabitants, to share their own brand of the "good news" and, of course, acquire more converts who tithe!

Having been baptized into the LDS church at a young age, during my parents' brief experiment with the Mormon religion, I am officially still a member. It's a rather involved and annoying process to have oneself removed from their rolls, which is one of the reasons I never bothered. I'm now bothered enough to bother; I cannot allow my name to continue to be associated with an institution that actively works to abrogate the civil rights of others who are perpetrating no genuine harm on that institution's members by exercising those rights.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Soulless it Seems

In regard to human consciousness, I consider myself a philosophical materialist: brains generate minds; minds are what brains do, with no other substance, concept, or mechanism needed to explain human thought processes. I think the evidence from neuroscience favors this view.

But what about dualism, the idea that there is more than the physical, the notion that the real you is your soul, and that your consciousness continues to exist even after your death? I think a computer CPU, with integrated RAM and a firmware operating system, is a good analogy for the human brain.*

* For those who aren't acquainted with the innards of computers: I'm talking about all the parts of a computer (the memory, information storage, and information processing) being completely fused together on one integrated, self-contained computer chip.

In the materialist view, the entire "self" is exclusively contained on that one chip. If a part of that chip fails, say, part of the RAM becomes corrupted, it's like suffering from Alzheimer's. That part of the self can never be restored; it is forever lost.

In the dualist view, the chip is a transceiver and physical projector of the non-material self (soul), which is transmitted over the ether(eal)net to the body. If part of the chip fails, the transmission and reception of information between the hardware body and the self becomes garbled, but the "true self" is still intact on a server somewhere.

Problems: we've never been able to find a method of transmission between the body and the soul, and no one has ever been able to provide good evidence for the existence of the heavenly server farm.