Secular inspiration

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Secular inspiration

Postby Gramma Jackie » Thu Mar 25, 2010 7:00 am

"By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest."

Confucius
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Re: Secular inspiration

Postby Gramma Jackie » Thu Mar 25, 2010 7:55 am

An Atheist Blessing

I feel blessed to be here. By 'here' I mean, this time and place, at this specific juncture of history, on this uniquely beautiful life-sustaining planet earth, the place that we call home.

I know I am not alone in feeling blessed - that all of us here today feel blessed.

Some of us believe that this blessing is conferred by Yahweh; some from Vishnu. Some feel blessed by the Buddha, some by Jehovah, some by Allah. Some will swear their blessings come from no God or gods at all, but rather from the universe itself. The Force, if you will.

We can argue over the existence of deities, but one thing is inarguable: we are, each of us, differently blessed:

Some of us are born to wealth; some to artistic talent.

Some of us are born to beauty, and grace; some to an innate ability to speak languages.

Some of us have a special empathy; some of us an ability to fight for truth and justice.

Some of us can play the violin for heads of state; some of us can hit a ball longer, throw it farther or with more accuracy than 99.9% of the population.

It is my belief that whatever our blessings are, and however we believe them to be conferred, is less important than how we choose to use those blessings. In this, I am in good company:
Ben Franklin recommended the best life would be lived by asking The Morning Question, What Good shall I do this Day? Followed by The Evening Question, What Good have I done today?

Thomas Jefferson said, "Our Saviour... has taught us to judge the tree by its fruit, and to leave motives to Him who can alone see into them."
There are many who argue about what these great men believed - the theists and the deists and the atheists alike cherry pick quotes from these men who accomplished so much, with so much wisdom, even in spite of their very human failings - they cherry pick a sentence here, a comment there, as if taking such comments out of the context of fully lived and realized lives can prove or disprove how much like themselves these great men were.

As for me, I don't care if Franklin or Jefferson or Roosevelt or Lincoln or Washington were Deists, theists, atheists, or polytheists. What matters is that they used their blessings to do good. To be good men, good workers, good thinkers, good doers of good deeds. And they attributed their ability to distinguish right from wrong not to a god or gods, but to themselves, and their personal choices.

They held themselves to the highest standard of good that there is - the standard we can set for ourselves each and every day, a standard they believed to be innate in all of us, as well as something we all should strive for.

Just as we are blessed to be here, now, so too do we bless one another with our constant striving to do good each day, and not judge one another when we fail; to give each other the chance to use the unique gifts we are blessed with to do the good and right things.
It is this, the recognition that each of us holds in ourselves the power to do good, that the ability to do so is not conferred upon us by an outside source that will reward or punish us, but rather, springs from within ourselves as natural as our sense of sight or hearing or touch, that I consider the greatest blessing of all.

May we all live lives blessed by goodness.

Gramma Jackie
 

Re: Secular inspiration

Postby Letha.. » Thu Mar 25, 2010 8:39 am

I'm a big fan of Carl Sagan so I thought I'd share some of his quotes in this thread.

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A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism.
Carl Sagan

All of the books in the world contain no more information than is broadcast as video in a single large American city in a single year. Not all bits have equal value.
Carl Sagan

But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.
Carl Sagan

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
Carl Sagan

For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.
Carl Sagan

I am often amazed at how much more capability and enthusiasm for science there is among elementary school youngsters than among college students.
Carl Sagan

I can find in my undergraduate classes, bright students who do not know that the stars rise and set at night, or even that the Sun is a star.
Carl Sagan

If we long to believe that the stars rise and set for us, that we are the reason there is a Universe, does science do us a disservice in deflating our conceits?
Carl Sagan

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.
Carl Sagan

In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.
Carl Sagan

It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
Carl Sagan

Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide awake and a basic understanding of how the world works.
Carl Sagan

Personally, I would be delighted if there were a life after death, especially if it permitted me to continue to learn about this world and others, if it gave me a chance to discover how history turns out.
Carl Sagan

Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.
Carl Sagan

Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.
Carl Sagan

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.
Carl Sagan

The brain is like a muscle. When it is in use we feel very good. Understanding is joyous.
Carl Sagan

The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.
Carl Sagan

The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.
Carl Sagan

We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.
Carl Sagan

We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.
Carl Sagan

We've arranged a civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology.
Carl Sagan

When you make the finding yourself - even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light - you'll never forget it.
Carl Sagan

Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.
Carl Sagan
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It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
Carl Sagan
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Re: Secular inspiration

Postby Gramma Jackie » Thu Mar 25, 2010 8:56 am

Funny you should mention Carl Sagan........

Here is my Sparkpeople page:

http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage.asp

Speaking of Carl Sagan, my husband and I made a trip to Ithaca, NY a couple of years ago. Ithaca is where Cornell University is located and where Carl Sagan taught astronomy. It is also billed as the most liberal small town in America. While we were there we visited Cornell. We also saw Ithaca Falls where Carl recorded one of his last messages before he died. You can hear the sound of the falls in the background. We walked the Planetary Walk which is a reproduction of the solar system (to scale) set up as a memorial to Sagan in the center of town. We also visited the Museum of the Earth http://www.museumoftheearth.org/ which was really great. We had once thought of retiring in Ithaca so that we could take in lectures at Cornell, but I don't think I could stand the cold weather since I have hypothyroidism and get cold very easily.
Gramma Jackie
 

Re: Secular inspiration

Postby Letha.. » Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:15 am

Hi Gramma Jackie,
The sparkpeople link didn’t work for me but I would very much like to visit the Museum of the Earth. I am hoping that as my health continues to improve as a result of following the McDougall program that I will be comfortable traveling more and more in the future. Hope you are having a great day.
Letha
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It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
Carl Sagan
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Re: Secular inspiration

Postby AnnaS » Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:16 am

I am a big fan of Carl Sagan, too. I think his book "Demon-Haunted World" helps explain a lot about the fear of science and lack of understanding in our culture. It's a book I recommend to people a lot.

Gramma Jackie--my husband and I spent a semester at Cornell and I found the place very dreary and depressing. The town & surroundings has its beauty, but it is gray and rainy there a lot (lake effect). I think if you had business, studies or research to pursue it would be ok, just focus on that and ignore the weather, lol. I would visit there again especially to see museums but would never, never want to stay there again. On the other hand, they did have a very, very nice fabric store.

Oh, a funny story my husband told me when we were there, he said that on one of the physics buildings there used to be a satellite dish pointed at Carl Sagan's office across the quad. It was a standing joke. (Earth to Carl, Earth to Carl...) You have to pretty old to even vaguely get this.
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Re: Secular inspiration

Postby Gramma Jackie » Thu Mar 25, 2010 11:19 am

Letha.. wrote:Hi Gramma Jackie,
The sparkpeople link didn’t work for me but I would very much like to visit the Museum of the Earth. I am hoping that as my health continues to improve as a result of following the McDougall program that I will be comfortable traveling more and more in the future. Hope you are having a great day.
Letha


Maybe you have to be a member for it to work, I don't know. Anyway membership is free and you can be on any diet plan or their own. They have a vegetarian plan but not a vegan plan. I am still trying to do McDougall MWL. It has a place to record your progress, etc. I like it. Anyway sparkpeople members can make their own customized blogs and profile pages, etc. and use their own backgrounds, photos, etc. I made mine with the milky way background. Then I put photos of Carl Sagan, Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins on it. They also have teams and I joined the "Liberal Atheist Hippie" and the "Separation of Church and Weight" teams. :D
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Re: Secular inspiration

Postby Gweithgar » Thu Mar 25, 2010 11:44 am

Hey, Letha,
Have you read Contact? If you saw the movie and hated it, I have to tell you that the book is amazing! It is on my "re-read regularly" list and the end will give you goosebumps.

A fellow Sagan fan,
Cyn
Cet animal est tres mechant; quand on l'attaque, il se defend
(This animal is very wicked; if attacked it defends itself)
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Re: Secular inspiration

Postby Letha.. » Thu Mar 25, 2010 11:56 am

Gweithgar wrote:Hey, Letha,
Have you read Contact? If you saw the movie and hated it, I have to tell you that the book is amazing! It is on my "re-read regularly" list and the end will give you goosebumps.

A fellow Sagan fan,
Cyn


Yes I read the book years ago and loved it. The movie didn't live up to the book which often happens of course. ;)
Letha
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It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
Carl Sagan
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SparkPeople

Postby VeggieSue » Fri Mar 26, 2010 4:01 am

The sparkpeople link didn’t work for me


It won't. Even if you had your own SparkPeople account, all this link
http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage.asp
would do is take you to your *own* SparkPeople page.

To get to someone else's page you have to know their SP ID and include that in the url. For instance, this is the page that belongs to the leader of the McDougall team:

http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage.asp?i ... INGHEALTHY

(have to edit this because the software hides half the url)
In the above url, after the sparkpeople.com/ it says:
mypage.asp?id=CHOOSINGHEALTHY

To go to your page, instead of "CHOOSINGHEALTHY" in that url a person would have to type in *your* SparkPeople user name.


And for those interested, here's the McDougall Team's page:
http://www.sparkpeople.com/myspark/grou ... ?gid=28465
Last edited by VeggieSue on Fri Mar 26, 2010 4:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Secular inspiration

Postby Gramma Jackie » Fri Mar 26, 2010 4:07 am

Thanks for that info veggiesue. :)
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Re: Secular inspiration

Postby Letha.. » Fri Mar 26, 2010 8:24 am

"Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there."
Will Rogers

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"My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened."
Montaigne
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"We don't stop playing because we grow old; We grow old because we stop playing."
George Bernard Shaw

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It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
Carl Sagan
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Re: Secular inspiration

Postby Gweithgar » Fri Mar 26, 2010 8:50 am

Oh! You have to check this page out!

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/usr/will/www/Quotes.xml
Cet animal est tres mechant; quand on l'attaque, il se defend
(This animal is very wicked; if attacked it defends itself)
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Re: Secular inspiration

Postby Letha.. » Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:32 am

Gweithgar wrote:Oh! You have to check this page out!

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/usr/will/www/Quotes.xml


Great link. Here are three that popped out to me.

Wit is educated insolence.
Aristotle284-322 B.C.

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.
H. L. Mencken

There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased that line.
Oscar Levant
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It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
Carl Sagan
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Re: Secular inspiration

Postby afreespirit » Sat Mar 27, 2010 3:45 pm

Another admirer of Carl Sagan here. He was taken from us at far too early an age.

So often the best ones are. :cry:

Cliff Mass, a meteorologist at the U of Washington, was mentored by Carl Sagan while an undergrad at Cornell University. Cliff has a popular weather blog at http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/
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