COEXIST

I’m an atheist, but I’m pretty tolerant in my non-belief. I don’t mind people of faith, as long as they don’t start trying to convince me that their way is the right way. Conversely, I don’t try to impose my non-belief on others. It works for me, but I’m cognizant of the fact that some people derive comfort and strength from faith and religious practice.

I also realise that our Constitution stipulates complete religious freedom. We are free to worship where and how we like, or not to do so, if we so choose. And this selfsame document precludes anyone being denied a job or profession based on his faith, or lack of. Put simply, a person’s religious convictions or lack of such convictions, shouldn’t matter in any walk of life or in the pursuit of any profession, even unto the office of President of the United States.

I get, as I’m sure many people do, the nuance behind many people on the Right thinking that the President is a Muslim.  Not only is this a fear inculcated by repercussions surrounding events which happened on Bush’s watch, it’s fear of “the other,” encouraged by the Rightwing media machine.

Our President certainly is different than any other we have previously had. He looks different. His name is different. I can just about remember something similar occurring during President Kennedy’s term, when people worried that the President’s Catholic religion would mean he would defer to Rome first and the United States second. That’s a pretty silly fear to have, but we’ve not seen any Catholics in the Oval Office since, albeit the men who are one and two heartbeats away from the President practice that faith.

Like me, Bill Maher is a non-believer, and he doesn’t stint on criticism of anyone who adheres to a faith. People of faith, Bill says, are deluded.  More than that, he’s archly critical of that Rightwing demographic, who propagate the notion that the President is Muslim; and well he should be critical. It’s an assumption based on nothing more than Big Lie propaganda.

The Big Lie is a propaganda technique, introduced by Adolf Hitler and refined to an art by Josef Goebbels.  It’s a merciless and pejorative public relations operation meant to eviscerate a targeted opponent. It’s basically a lie, so totally outlandish as to be unbelievable; but repeated enough times, more and more people begin to accept it as the truth.

The obvious Big Lie of the 20th Century was the one which led to over 6 million people being gassed to death during World War II, when the German people were convinced that the core cause of all their problems was down to people of the Jewish faith, living amongst them.  Now we have to suffer the Right, aided and abetted by Fox News, casting doubt on, not only our President’s citizenship, but also his religious credentials.  It’s also demonisation of one religion in the land where the concept of “freedom of religion” was fostered.  Linking the President with the Muslim faith links him with those people whom many Americans identify as having been behind the single biggest terrorist attack in history – and we’ve all been told how Obama pals around with terrorists.

On Friday night’s Real Time, Bill Maher managed to get into a contretemps of sort with his guest, Dr Cornel West, when Bill remarked casually that he didn’t think Obama was a Christian. He elaborated the point by reminding Dr West that the President’s mother was a secular humanist, and he thought the President was as well. Never mind the appearance at the Prayer Breakfast, where the President took advantage of the situation to speak openly about his faith.  That was all for show; and furthermore, continued Bill, he didn’t believe Obama “struggled” with same-sex marriage either.

OK, I know what Bill thought or intended to mean.  Maybe he was trying to convey to the super-cool ueber Left, of which he’d like us to believe he is a part, the Left which derides and looks down upon religious faith, that the President really is “one of us” – nudge, nudge, wink, wink.  And, oh, he was pretending to be a centrist too, it seems, although Bill did admit that Obama was a pragmatist.

But in saying something off-the-cuff and totally unfounded on any fact, not only does he further establish the President as being part of “the other” syndrome, he also insinuates that the President is a liar.

On the one hand, he excoriates the fact that many on the Right refuse to accept the President’s word that he is not a Muslim, whilst on the other, Bill, himself, refuses to accept the President’s eloquent declaration of faith – something which, incidentally, our Constitution distinctly reiterates that he shouldn’t have to make at all.  It shouldn’t make any difference to us what the President’s faith is or whether he follows any at all, as long as he governs well and responsibly; the President’s faith is his personal matter.

And whilst I do accept that, to some people, it matters a great deal that their leader believes in a higher being, I would imagine it would matter a lot more to these people, and indeed to all of us, if our leader were found to be openly lying and deceitful about that which he purports to believe, himself.

So, my question is this: Was Bill just trying, after months of subtle racist insinuations masked as comedy, to big the President’s cool and au courant credentials up to the shallow sheeple of the ueber Left, whom he’d formerly convinced of Obama’s “weakness,” or was he indulging in a little bit of the Big Lie, seeking to propagate “Obama atheism” as a counter-fear to the President’s supposed penchant for Islam? After all, the only thing worse than a Muslim, in some people’s eyes, is an atheist.

As Dr West succinctly observed, somebody’s wrong here.

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whatsthatsound
Member

KevenSeven, I defy you to find ONE example of me “self professing” to be a Christian. I will happily wait.

bito
Member

WTS, isn’t it a bit odd that discussions on religion often become, regress, to “Oh yeah, my Dad is smarter than your Dad and he can beat up your Dad while it most times is very personal? Did not the Buddha, Christ Job and many not of the thinkers not question existence and the cause? I am more concerned with those that think they know the truth. The mystery is yet to be discovered and it is up to investigate or not. Some are satisfied with what they have been lead to believe, to think. Some need a “proof.” At one time it was a “proof” that the the world was flat and the earth was the center of th universe. It took the minds and bodies to explore, not concede to the given.
Questions remain and those that choose not to question remain, are certain, and I feel that they may be the lesser.

whatsthatsound
Member

Absolutely, bito. And although I may be guilty as charged in terms of one-upmanship, I do resent having words put into my mouth for me. When I screw up, I want it to at least be MY words, not somebody else’s.

As for what else you said, I couldn’t agree more. I’m not even sure I “believe” anything. I ponder, I question, I consider, I observe, and I experience. I think those are enough.

KevenSeven
Member

“(kevenseven)hasn’t experienced any positives from (religion)”

Uh, huh.

KevenSeven
Member

Well, I too resent having words put in my mouth, and I have had many inserted on this thread, so I can sympathize. So what religion do you adhere to?

Or you don’t believe anything? You certainly are pretty invested for a guy who does not believe anything.

KillgoreTrout
Member

Khirad, thanks for your thoughtful reply!

Khirad
Member

Okay, I finally watched this, and my question is this:

How come no one mentioned Hooman Majd was on?!

He’s fucking brilliant AND witty.

And his expertise and insight was WASTED.

Oh, and how Maher brushed aside Islamophobia when Majd brought it up as a socially acceptable form of bigotry?

Hello?

Recommended:

The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran

The Ayatollahs’ Democracy: An Iranian Challenge

What a waste of a panelist. An utter waste.

ADONAI
Member

That was always one of my big problems with Maher. Even in the early days of politically incorrect when I was a loyal fan.

He just “wasted” panelists far too often. Never cared to pursue an issue with someone extremely knowledgeable on it. Simply dismissing it and moving on.

Khirad
Member

He seemed more interested in Matthew Perry.

(who, in his defense, was kinda funny with Dr. Cornell West)

ADONAI
Member

Well, Matthew Perry is a funny guy. I wish him luck with his new show.

But Mr. Majd’s time seems to have been supremely wasted.

david p canada
Member
david p canada

Usually by interruption.

Not so much with wit.

liberallioness76
Member
liberallioness76

@david p – I’m with you on this one… I may agree with him on many issues but I have never been much of a fan of his show.

He’s all snark and no substance imho.

KevenSeven
Member

Maher is less than perfect as a host and is blatantly tendentious.

I concede that point.

Gotta run to work.

AdLib
Admin

Hey, I’m jumping in here to play a rare role of Moderator…not the “Your comment has been sent to” type but the debate type.

As civil as folks are here, which is very, discussion and debate of religion requires a bit of extra consideration.

No one here is going to change anyone else’s mind about their personal beliefs so a constructive approach would be to be more exploratory than dismissive.

This is not to say that beliefs shouldn’t be freely expressed but generalizations and unflattering portrayals of people who believe or don’t believe something have no constructive purpose and advance no meaningful conversation.

I appreciate everyone’s consideration of this as the conversation continues.

KevenSeven
Member

Ah, did not see you there at the top of the page.

Yes, I’d like to be able to express my opinions without being told directly that they are worthless or simplistic. I’d be ready to return the favor, if it is granted.

Khirad
Member

When I did see some, they were refuted with examples.

I kinda find it ironic it would irk you, in all due respect.

I mean, you make generalizations, than expect people not to generalize you and to treat you with the same respect you’ve not shown them?

I just don’t follow. Sorry.

KevenSeven
Member

I think this would be a pretty good example:

ADONAI says:
02/15/2011 at 7:23 PM

“I don’t really care what you “think” atheists are.

I’m giving you the textbook definition.”

Well, actually, I’m pretty confident that my definition of atheism was the more correct one. And I am ready to back it up with citations.

whatsthatsound
Member

I suppose it goes without saying I’m completely with you on this. Mystifying, to be sure.

whatsthatsound
Member

And Adlib said, “Let There Be Tolerance!”, and (hopefully) there was tolerance.

ADONAI
Member

Discussing religion without insulting someone?

Can it even be done?

The Dood
Member
The Dood

Yes…but it’s difficult.

Mightywoof
Member

You do know AdLib blogs with God 🙂 ….. and Satan when he’s in the mood

ADONAI
Member

I don’t know who this “GOD” is he talks to.

I may have to kill it like I did Jupiter and Baal.

Khirad
Member

But lay off Harry Baals!

Mightywoof
Member

I approve of the Baal destruction – he wasn’t a nice god at all but I was always partial to Jupiter!

If you haven’t read God’s Blog:

http://planetpov.com/2010/03/16/gods-blog-3-16-2010/

Khirad
Member

Like I said, from now on AdLib should just interview Adonai.

ADONAI
Member

I approve!

david p canada
Member
david p canada

Perhaps by those who take the commandment to “love thy neighbor” very seriously.

david p canada
Member
david p canada

Bf you want to equate my personal beliefs in regards to true Christianity with the war-mongering, abortion-doctor killers, go right ahead.

But you’d be as wrong as you could be.

I hate being painted with that brush, usually wielded by genuine haters.

jdmn17
Member
jdmn17

David, your post brought to mind, along with AdLib’s comment some comparisons. We humans seem to struggle with religion, politics and sex. Because of some very effective work by certain elements of the media (both side of the liberal/conservative fence primarily) we seem to have polarized into two very divergent groups that are highly sensitive to each others. Add in some Libertarians, Socialists, Communists and whatever else you want and we have a very large mishmash of ideas. Same can be said for religion. It used to be, my experience, that people acknowledged others religions and politics – we were more prone to joke about it than screw up our faces in disgust. It seems like we were much less prone to judge or talk down to others beliefs. But the media seems to have driven wedges into us and when doing so people have reacted defensively and taken even harder positions

I think two years on HP along with having worked with a particularly aggressively conversion oriented religious man left me with a sour taste in my mouth for both conservatives and evangelical Christians. You said a couple of things the last week, and others have chimed in here and have given me some pause to stop judging and labeling as I’ve been doing.

I have retraced my roots back to the Evangelical (Baptist) Eisenhower Republicans who raised me and I am now left to wonder why the far right gets all the press and the quiet Christians who do believe in the teachings of their religious leader are somehow shoved aside for the blaring headlines of the more outrageous members of the Christian faith. I decry the lumping of all Muslims into the same group as Terrorists yet I’ve been remiss in letting myself hear the word Christian and shuffling them off to the world of evangelical nuts.

The same is true for conservative and I’ve been guilty of lumping all conservatives into the same family as Sara, Rush, Beck and Fox News.

I think I have some work to do. Let someone be who they are, speak to who they are instead of immediately dismissing them because I know their religion and politics.

For example, I have read enough of your posts that I would never equate you with the people who harassed and threatened me with death over the phone and in my mail box because my former wife worked as a nurse at Planned Parenthood, not on the abortion side but treating young women and their sexual partners with STD’s. She had no truck with the abortion side, was personally against it but felt it was a woman’s right. So for that we felt hunted and scared and two months ago when a man showed up in the PP parking lot in MN with a loaded pistol it brought it all back to me.

I have also read enough posts from people here who I respect like crazy who express their religious beliefs ranging from atheist to Christian and Muslim. I think I need to work on being more open to what people believe in. It doesn’t affect me as long as people don’t try to change my thoughts, well, maybe arguing their point is in some ways trying to change me. Or are they simply explaining because they like where they are and want me/us to know?

I don’t know. Late, rambling, but this thread has given me a lot today

Mightywoof
Member

jdmn – gosh what a thoughtful post!! I so agree with what you’ve said here …… tribalism seems to have been unleashed in the world and nobody wants to sit down and talk with The Other they just want to shout and hurl insults (which is NOT the same thing as spirited debate)

I felt the same way about conservatives and religion – especially Christianity – as you …… but then I ‘met’
Choicelady and her words and the work she does makes me realize that there are truly good people out there who do follow the precepts of their faith and walk the path of goodness, I also read the story of Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish (a good Muslim) so, while you don’t have to have faith to walk a righteous path, there are those who walk that path with their faith.

Since 2008, the rise of the Fruitcakes calling themselves conservatives made me tar all conservatives with the same brush but then I started reading David Frums forum and found that there are conservatives in your country, pariahs in their own party nowadays, that are just as concerned as those of us who call ourselves liberal/socialist/commie about the level of social and political discourse and the level of debate there is invigorating even if you can’t subscribe to the conservative philosophy.

Like you, I’ve learned not to be so judgemental and tar all the religious and all the conservatives with the same brush.

Excellent response!!

SueInCa
Member

Perhaps the difference in Obama’s “religious actions” is the denomination he belongs to, United Church of Christ. I attended that church for a long time and they are not your garden variety religious fanatics. It is hard to put your finger on how the worship, kinda mystic, kinda godly, participation from lay people and open and affirming. It is the closest I ever got to feeling comfortable in a church in my adult life.

SueInCa
Member

Marion

Bill is a very angry atheist. To me it is as simple as that. Unlike others he has made a movie making fun of others’ faith. I saw the movie and in fact thought alot of the issues he pursued are valid, especially from the radical side of ANY religion or atheist including Bill. I am not sure where I stand in this argument. I don’t believe I have to participate in an organized sect to be a good person but I am not really ready to say there is no “higher power” either. I guess I am somewhere in the middle of it all.

So…………believing as I do, I really don’t care if the president is a martian. It has nothing whatsoever to do with his ability to lead the country and it offends me that some on the religious right seem to think it is the ticket to the promised land. All you have to do is conjure up Ted Haggard to know that is a big fat lie.

2ndClassCitizenPundit
Member

From what I have seen (I used to watch him on Politically Incorrect a long time ago), Bill seems to be moving from atheist to anti-theist.

An atheist has no purpose or interest in deriding and denigrating another person’s faith. An Anti-theist, on the other hand, will treat people who are of faith as if they are perpetuating a heinous crime.

This is because the nature of an anti-theist states that faith is a crime, or, in some slightly more tolerant cases, the purview of the intellectually damaged.

The fact is however, both an atheist and an anti-theist are products of faith as well. It is not possible to disprove the existence of a deity, any more than one can prove the existence of one. Atheism, and it’s more militant cousin, is faith that there is no God.

I freely admit that I am a spiritual person of faith. My spiritual tradition is not the same as others. My spiritual tradition is one that makes sense to me, but that does not mean I am “right”. I freely admit that I may be wrong. And if I am wrong, I will gladly pay the consequences for it, whatever those consequences are.

As a person of faith, I freely admit that this makes me somewhat unique. However, part of my faith says that I am not a god, and only a god can be infallible.

That’s called humility.

KevenSeven
Member

Wow.

Speaking of painting with a broad brush and simplifying and caricaturing…..

Could you work any harder to depict us anti-theists in a bad light?

whatsthatsound
Member

I think it can probably be summed up this way: Religious people probably shouldn’t talk about atheism as if they know what it is. They do not have the correct insight into it and end up mischaracterizing it and reducing it to absurdity.
AND
atheists probably shouldn’t talk about religion/spirituality as if they know what it is. They do not have the correct insight into it and end up mischaracterizing it and reducing it to absurdity.

ADONAI
Member

I’ve studied both for a decade.

They’re equally arrogant and equally smug in their knowledge of “the truth”.

But, again, that is just my opinion from my own study on the subject.

whatsthatsound
Member

I feel the same way. Human beings create divisions so easily. The ones with the Stars Upon Thars are so certain that they are the ONLY “real” Sneeks, and the ones with No Stars Upon Thars feel exactly the same way!

ADONAI
Member

Indeed

KillgoreTrout
Member

You have just equated the same thing as, “above right and left.” Good and evil. Beyond good and evil is closer to reality than any suggestion of good, or absolute evil. Religions, of any denomination have the absolute power or dictation determining what is good or evil. But it is a determination from a metaphysical point of view. It is not reality based.

Khirad
Member

Actually they don’t all have that absolute power.

There is a lot of debate and interpretation within, depending on religion and sect. Polity and hierarchies also vary wildly.

I dug the Nietzsche reference though.

KillgoreTrout
Member

I suppose I meant absolute power, if one allows it by a strict adherence to scripture. Fundamentalism comes to mind.

whatsthatsound
Member

Fundamentalism most certainly comes to mind. It is the biggie, the aspect of religion that does the most harm. But perhaps the most radical “fundamentalist” who ever lived was Pol Pot, and he was an atheist. So I really think that religion needs to be considered from a much wider perspective than most of its loudest critics view it from.

For example, you seem quite certain that science is superior to religion. Are you willing to own that the scientific method yielded Hiroshima as well as small pox vaccines? If so, then mightn’t you be willing to concede that religion has both inspired and enslaved men?

KevenSeven
Member

Science did not produce the attack on Hiroshima. Politics and war did so. If we had not had the technology to nuke Japan, we certainly would have continued to carpet bomb their cities, creating firestorms that killed as many in one attack.

What is so horrifying about the atom bombs dropped on Japan is not that they killed so many in one attack. As many died in Dresden, and nearly as many died in several Japanese cities.

What is so horrifying is that the damage was inflicted with a single plane and a single bomb. As a people we were perfectly prepared to lay waste to Japan’s cities. The American people were relieved to have had so potent a weapon.

War inevitably escalates to barbarism. It is unavoidable. Which makes a good argument for resisting going to war, I’d say

whatsthatsound
Member

Kilgore, you can disregard my last question. I see that you are quite open minded and tolerant as regards spirituality as opposed to rigid, doctrinaire religions.

whatsthatsound
Member

If I understand what you are saying (and I may be missing out completely), you are basically demonstrating the validity of my above statement. Most of religion is NOT a determination of what is good or evil – it is simply an attempt to describe the universe, as well as man’s place in it. Read the Bible, the Vedas, pretty much any religious writing, and probably a good ninety percent of it will be people describing what they saw, experienced, etc. Only a small fraction will be anybody telling anybody else what to do. However, that is the part that ends up causing all the trouble.

KevenSeven
Member

The bible is a string of narratives of a bunch of bronze aged peasants trying to make sense of bacteria and earthquakes, and this is some way to describe the universe?

Which revolves around which? The Earth or the Sun?

Fer crying out loud. Religion was an effort by ignorant backward people to explain the universe and man’s place in it.

Science is an effort by informed people using reason and observation and method to explain the universe and man’s place in it.

Religion was the first attempt at philosophy. Much better work has followed outside of religion.

whatsthatsound
Member

You’ll have to tell ME how this proves the existence of God, because I never wrote anything of the kind.

KevenSeven
Member

Excuse me? You are a self-proclaimed christian who does not believe in god?

What does the bible provide humanity that thousands of philosophers over the millennia have not? Besides a fiction of a supervising being who is keeping tally of how many times you have whacked off and is going to present you with the bill after you croak?

whatsthatsound
Member

The Bible is partly what you say, but it is other things as well. For example, in the psalms and other portions you will find people attempting to put their numinous experiences into words, just as you will find in nearly any religion. Anyone, having such experiences, would wish to describe them, including you. It is not the fault of such people that their words got shoved together with other words written by people you accurately refer to as ignorant.

Khirad
Member

Killgore Trout, What we’re stumbling over here is a definition of terms here, I think.

I know that when you get technical there are many who would argue that Dharmic religions (Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism) are not religions in their Western definition even. Buddhism and Taoism further have the absence of a deity either altogether or in Buddhism’s case (except Tantric and Tibetan) the deities may or may not exist, but it’s just not important.

I’ve been using ‘religion’ self consciously as a ‘system of belief’ which has otherwise common elements of a religion. In Hinduism, the Vedanta school is more a philosophy, and the other of the great six schools of Hinduism (no longer extant), Samkhya, was atheistic itself.

In other words, for simplicity’s sake, I refer to it all as religion, knowing full well it’s much more complicated than that. It’s a broad brush which perhaps only helps perpetuate the broad brushing of different religions itself in polemics.

Hitchens attempted to tackle the Eastern Religions in “god is not Great”. He failed in my opinion, not because they are above criticism, but because he wasn’t very informed about them. His criticism was about as bad as C.S. Lewis’s, ironically enough.

I still find much of atheism – and I’ll push the envelope here – as a reaction to Western monotheism, in particular Christianity, which it grew out of. And it is sort of stuck in the very dualistic framework of Christianity. Sam Harris does a bit better job of being cognizant of that irony.

But here we go, how do we sort out of the different iterations and admixtures of philosophies, religions and ‘ways’? They are all worldviews. When it involves a text, some sort of clergy and ritual – I just opt for ‘religion’ whether or not there is a supernatural element or deities involved.

For instance, modern Unitarian Universalism has proven one doesn’t need to believe in God (or any particular dogma) to have a religion. My congregation’s reverend is an atheist and gives sermons on atheism!

KillgoreTrout
Member

Khirad;

I am a Taoist. I know it is referred to as an Eastern religion, but I would call it more of a philosophy.
81 ideograms of remarkable wisdom.

Khirad
Member

Heck, even Hitchens has acknowledged that.

And the Bible has trouble cohering with itself because it is so varied in content.

The narratives were strung together a bit later.

Also, who was talking about proving the existence of God?

Is Buddhism not a religion then? Taoism?

jdmn17
Member
jdmn17

I am not a Christian or Jew. Yet the 23rd Psalm has always given me comfort.

When my father died, we had a horrid relationship and the funeral was just more of the same as I was seated toward the back of the “family” seating while his fourth wife and step son sat in the front row. The minister had no idea who I was, that’s how estranged we were. He asked me finally if I had a reading I wanted for him. He hated the 23rd as much as I loved it. I used to recite it to myself when he hit me – never really talked about that before – hmmm

Well the minister brightened right up and was happy to read it. I was the only one in the church it hit the way it was meant. And it gave me comfort once again.

I think the bible, well I have never studied it but I think the intent of much of it was simply to offer guidance for people to treat each other well and to find some peace. At least that’s my completely and probably naive perception.

I left Christianity at age 12, telling them I was going to church and instead walking around the lake near my home talking to the birds and watching nature.

There’s my diety. Nature. Not much or enough for many, more than enough for others. It suits me.

KevenSeven
Member

OK, so some people described transcendent and numinous experiences (which atheists can experience, btw) and this proves the existence of a god, how?

How is religion necessary at any point of this discussion?

whatsthatsound
Member

?????

Mightywoof
Member

My Mum told me never to discuss politics, religion or sex if I wanted to keep friendships – she was certainly correct about religion! I’m an atheist and I’m OK with that – I’m OK with folks who find solace in spirituality or organized religion. I won’t pretend to understand why people need it but that’s OK – I won’t force my views on anyone and I get upset when others try to force their views on me. So yeah – correctomundo WTS!!

KillgoreTrout
Member

When someone contemplates existence it is nobody’s right to say you are wrong or right. The entire concept of right and wrong are man made.
The only morality that we can make use of is that we are all connected. Connected on a basis that includes the entirety of of everything in the universe.
We are made up of remnants of stars and the basic elements that arouse out of that star quality and quantity.
That is as close as I can explain it. An aging traveler in the cosmos.

The Dood
Member
The Dood

Killgore
A lot of what’s been said here is part of why I “became” Buddhist. I have probably been so all my life and just didn’t know it had a name! I’ve been reading some of Stephen Batchelors books (he calls himself a Buddhist atheist) because even in Buddhism there are the dogmatic beliefs and rituals that turned me off to traditional Christianity long ago. Spiritualism is a personal thing…even atheists can be spiritual..nobody has all the answers!

KillgoreTrout
Member

There is much wisdom in Buddhism. Part of that wisdom is the advice that say respect all religions. Religions are just different pathways to the same destination. What works for one person may not necessarily work for another.

whatsthatsound
Member

I have been both atheist and believer, and I see value in both. Neither my decision to reject the idea of a greater intelligence nor my later switch came about without a lot of deep thought that still goes on to this day.

When I see the shallow attacks from either side I can only shake my head.

PlatoSunTsu
Member
PlatoSunTsu

Well said, as soon as someone tries to tell me why what they believe is “right” all I hear is what’s wrong.

2ndClassCitizenPundit
Member

If they are trying to tell you what path is “right” for you, then, yes, what they are telling you is wrong.

Belief can not be imposed from outside. It only comes from the inside.

david p canada
Member
david p canada

Very well put.

There does seem to be a lot of wishful thinking here about Obama being an atheist strolling around in Christian drag.

If he says he’s a Christian, that’s good enough for me. I’d better have some damned convincing evidence before I’m going to call the President a bald-faced liar.

KillgoreTrout
Member

I really don’t think a president’s religion, or lack of religion should ever be an issue. Theology is not in his job description.

KevenSeven
Member

I really don’t think a president should have to be taller than his electoral opponent, but I dare say that over the last 70 years the winner of the election tends to be taller than the loser.

I really think we should all have magic ponies that don’t need hay and don’t poop.

Until our three preferences come to pass, perhaps you and I could focus on what actually is. Rather than what we would prefer would be?

whatsthatsound
Member

Yeah, exactly. HE is the only one who knows what his beliefs are, and how he came to them. Everything else is worth the price of a Starbucks Latte, IF you throw in four bucks!

KevenSeven
Member

Well, I don’t know if you are not a brain-eating cyborg, either, now do I?

But I am pretty sure that Obama is an Atheist. And I have no difficulty in so saying.

But thank you for your valuation of my opinion.

KillgoreTrout
Member

How could you even know such a thing?

KevenSeven
Member

That Obama is an atheist? Obviously I cannot “know” it. He never brings it up in our monthly lunches.

I don’t “know” that you are not a cannibal, do I?

I am of the OPINION that he is an atheist. There you have it. I hope that I may express an opinion without being excoriated for it.

Caru
Member

“Osiris, I am your son, come to glorify your soul, and to give you even more power.” ~ Horus, (Book of the Dead, Ch. 173)

“Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.” ~ Jesus, (John 13:31-32)

Let’s just say that remakes aren’t a new phenomenon. 😉

Khirad
Member

I won’t even bring up the woefully ignored contributions of Zoroastrianism at this point.

It wasn’t so much a remake as copyright infringement.

KillgoreTrout
Member

I would say there is no need for glorification. Anyone being glorified is setting up the concept of, I am better than you. This goes against true spirituality and is the cause, or reason for all wars.

KevenSeven
Member

I think you are reading a lot into Maher’s comments re: Obama’s faith or lack there-of.

Of course, you detest Maher, as you have made a point of saying for the last two years here. That’s OK, Bill is a smug little dick.

But I for one don’t believe for a moment that Barack Obama believes in any flying spaghetti monster in the sky.

Did I just call my good friend Barack Obama a liar? I suppose I did. What of it? He’s a politician. His morning movements smells as much as anyone else’s.

I just listened to the president’s press conference, and while I cannot recall the point he was making, I remember thinking that he was just proposing one cut or other in order to force the Repugs to cast an embarrassing vote, that the Dems could then use in the next election.

I like Obama. A lot. But as an anti-theist, I gotta insist that he does not walk on water.

I think Maher is spot on. Obama has no religious faith, but professes a faith due to his need to gain votes.

Hey, if the religious are so easily duped, tough luck of them. I wish it was not necessary to suck up to the bible thumpers, but there are lots of things in this life that do not suit me very well. This one is not at the top of the list.

jdmn17
Member
jdmn17

Keven

I wonder what would happen if a candidate for public office, when asked of his/her religious beliefs said:
“none of your fucking business”?

They can’t of course and I for one am interested to know because far too often a religious affiliation these days can lead to assumptions regarding what sort of socially repressive legislation they will pursue. I suppose I’m giving myself away there. I never met a deist who was promoting a religious agenda they wanted the rest of us to follow. (Cringing now because I’m sure there are examples I’m going to get blasted with)

In the end, if the guy/gal is religious and doesn’t bring it to the office I could give a crap what they do on Saturday, Sunday or if they smear themselves with bear grease and dance naked under the full moon on the White House lawn. Actually that might be quite refreshing

2ndClassCitizenPundit
Member

This is one reason I have resisted the urge to run for public office (although it does seem like easy money).

I have no inclination to disclose my favorite sexual position, what kind of underwear I prefer, my opinion on the latest crop of American Idol contestants, why I am not married (because it ain’t legal, for one reason), why I don’t have kids (gee, someone around the house 24/7 to accuse me of sex crimes?), my recipe for chicken soup (over my dead body), or a nine-hour interview picking apart my spiritual beliefs.

When are we going to elect officials rationally? I don’t care if a candidate is a blood-drinking worshipper of Team Edward. I want to know that they can do the job, that they have a firm grasp on real priorities, and that they have plans that will work. (This day and age, the ability to knock skulls together at the conference table wouldn’t hurt, either)

pfz
Member
pfz

Oh I think Obama is a Christian, i just don’t think he takes it seriously. He is a non practicing Christan if you will.

KevenSeven
Member

I’m sorry, but I have no idea how one is of a religion, yet does not “practice” it.

Sounds like a big fat guy glued to his sofa calling himself a professional baseball player. I don’t see how the two can exist in one person.

Khirad
Member

Not all religions are orthopraxic.

I don’t see your point.

KevenSeven
Member

OK, sloppy of me.

Christianity is emphatically orthopraxic, and we were discussing the idea that Obama could be a xian without taking it seriously.

I’m sorry. But for me anyone who does not take their religion seriously is not of that religion. And one is not a xian if one is not a practicing xian.

Which is one of the points that we atheists rather like to consider: America is an xian nation? Really? People who have not been in a church since their parents dragged them there are not xians on the strength of their parents dragging them there as children.

Non-practicing Jews are still Jews, btw, because “Jew” means both or either a religion or a culture. A very ancient culture, based on some solid philosophical tenants that have been adopted in many other philosophies. So a Jew who has not seen the inside of a Temple since being bar mitzvahed is still a Jew, at least in a cultural sense. Most likely. (I suppose there are a few slobs who wear mullets and eat pork rinds while watching professional wrestling. They may have left both the religion and the culture.)

david p canada
Member
david p canada

How do you go about “practicing” Christianity?

Get a megaphone and blast Bible verses all around Times Square? Get on TV and fleece little old ladies out of their pension checks?

I think it’s about doing your best, realizing that no one’s perfect especially yourself, and treating your neighbor as you would like to be treated.

Obama is more like that.

KillgoreTrout
Member

For me, the best definition of a Christian is one who adheres to the teachings of Christ. It’s pretty much that simple.

david p canada
Member
david p canada

That would mean there are no Christians in this World.

However, I get your meaning.

ghsts
Member

We live in a country where you can not have an honest stance on religion as a politician with out the religious making that your entire platform. I don’t think he lies to get votes, but to deflect the entire discussion. It is when for example he funds faith based initiatives that he is pandering(perhaps as a pragmatist.)

david p canada
Member
david p canada

If what you say is true, the the President of the United States is a swindler and a scoundrel of the worst kind.

Even being a Conservative, I don’t believe that for a second.

jdmn17
Member
jdmn17

David – that made me laugh. I have been around the world of antiques for years and I’ve seen many old newspapers from the late 1800 and early 1900 hundreds. They used some of the most colorful words to describe each other during the campaigns.

KillgoreTrout
Member

In my humble opinion, Obama is doing the best he can, given the cards he was dealt. I think he is a brilliant man and a decent man. But occupying the immense position that he does, the job, to be really successful, requires abilities beyond the scope of human existence.

Khirad
Member

You and I appear to be the dissenters here. I’m sorta calling him a liar too. But I don’t begrudge him for it, and kinda think it may only be a sort of “half-lie”. I think he has been moved to an extent by Christianity and Jesus, but that he is not exclusively Christian in any traditional sense. I’ve already said it before, but I think he’s more Unitarian in his beliefs – though I’m fully self-aware how much I’m projecting here.

KillgoreTrout
Member

No man, right or left or even in the middle can successfully handle the affairs of men/women in the real world. Concepts. ideals and hopes, do not always translate into reality.

PocketWatch
Member

KevenSeven – I, for one, never question anyone’s declaration of belief or lack thereof. Means nothing to me one way or the other, frankly. As long as they don’t try to prozletize, I couldn’t care less.

Having said that, it does bother me that politicians have to pander to religious ideologies. Imagine if we had a really, really great candidate for high office on either side of the “great divide” who was an avowed atheist…

Can we all hear the screaming and commentary that would ensue?

That’s a problem to me.

8)

KevenSeven
Member

Well, you may or may not question other people’s professions of faith or love or hope or whatever suits you. It is a free-ish country.

And you may go ahead and be bothered by the reality that it is next to impossible for an American pol to get elected without faking some religious conviction. You may as well go to the shore and scream at the tides for all the difference it makes. Until Man loses his fear of death, people will insist on believing in god. And those people will insist on being offended by people who do not believe in god.

I find people chewing gum offensive, but I don’t make any sort of deal out of it. Not worth the trouble.

My opinion: Obama is a secret atheist.

Ricestarz
Guest
Ricestarz

Wow, I know I’m in the right place now…KS, long time no see:-D

I hear what you are saying. Even though I was ticked by Bill’s comments ( I took the chance to watch after months and months of not doing so) as I knew it would fire up the right, I too believe he is too smart to be a “Christian”. I could care less if he is or isn’t, but I just think that he is too smart and pragmatic- also too world and cultural exposed to declare one to be better than another. That especially as the so called Right Christians are so evil towards him. Can’t believe in that kind of h8 in any religion. I’m almost sure he doesn’t.

KevenSeven
Member

Very kind of you. I hope you enjoy it here. Do I know you by another moniker?

whatsthatsound
Member

“Until Man loses his fear of death, people will insist on believing in god.”

K7, it is just as inappropriate for an atheist to oversimplify and generalize concerning a religious person’s belief as it is for a religious person to generalize and oversimplify atheism.

KevenSeven
Member

I think it is you that is over-simplifying and caricaturing.

I was not attempting to write a full essay on philosophy and psychology here. I did not say that the only reason that people cling to religion is their dread of death.

I said that religion will be with us as long as Man fears death.

whatsthatsound
Member

That’s right. You said that religion will be with us as long as Man fears death. And that is what I consider to be an oversimplification. As there is much more to religion and spirituality, they would continue to be with man even were fear of death to suddenly not exist.

KevenSeven
Member

I was paraphrasing Freud there.

KQµårk 死神
Member

I think K7 is right on that one but it’s only one reason people need to believe in the traditional notion of a supreme being. I think man has a need for answers for why we are here and what is our purpose in being here just as much. That’s the main reason fundamentalists cannot accept evolution.

Having been clinically dead a couple times I don’t fear death because it was not the scary place people think it is. It was really just like a peaceful rest. The deepest sleep you can imagine.

whatsthatsound
Member

Oh, I agree with K7 that fear of death is ONE of the things that religion originates in. But like you, I don’t believe it is the only one. But, that’s what K7 tends to do, oversimplify and reduce to caricature, where religion, faith and spirituality are concerned. That’s what I’m referring to.

KevenSeven
Member

Oh, there are all sorts of reasons that people “need” to believe in the flying spaghetti monster in the sky.

I just cannot credence any of them.

PlatoSunTsu
Member
PlatoSunTsu

I really find it disheartening when people claiming to be on the ‘left’ openly attack religion for it’s own sake.
I have no problem criticizing (dogging if you will) any of the dogmas of any religion, especially some of the more oppressive aspects,customs, commandments; but the openly aggressive attacks don’t “play” well and speak of blind intolerance.
Religion, in it’s own way, does in fact accomplish positive things and contributes to society, it may well be one of the last things keeping many zealots in check as opposed to the ones that use it to practice zealotry.
Just IMHO

KevenSeven
Member

Be disheartened if you must, but the simple fact is that religion poisons everything.

Go ahead. Tell me about good works, about charity.

Then you need to credit Hamas and Hezbollah with being forces for good. You want to take that position?

This is not about “blind intolerance”. There is ample evidence to indict religion and “faith”

Try this on for size:

Name a good deed or utterance that could be done or made by a person of faith that could not be done by an unbeliever.

Now the corollary:

Name a wicked or evil deed or utterance committed or made by a person of faith in the name of their faith that could not be done by a person lacking in a faith.

What atheist blows up a church or mosque or synagogue because it does not comport with his belief systems? Happens every week in the real world, and it is always the work of some religious zealot.

The extremism of the zealots is built right into the religion. The religion claims to a special understanding of the mind of the maker, and an authority to enforce that will on those around the believer.

Sorry, not buying a nickel of it.

PlatoSunTsu
Member
PlatoSunTsu

“religion poisons everything” everything? Everything is a pretty broad statement/generalization. I guess it would be important to say that I’m not religious, spiritual yes, but I follow no organized religion, I guess I’m just smart enough ( or dumb enough as you would probably think) to realize that there is more there than I know, a great many things that neither I nor science can adequately explain.
I am also cautious with people that feel they know everything unequivocally and without doubt, whether they are religious or not are the most dangerous of all, there is no black and white in anything… religion included.
I would offer and many would agree that the zealots you speak of act outside the religion that they and you hold them accountable to.
Point taken that many acts are committed in “the name of” religion, just like the crusades etc…but then of course who’s to say these wouldn’t have been committed anyways, just because someone twists a religion in a selfish pursuit does not justify it or condemn it as orthodoxy, alot of the “religious” acts of terrorism you speak of are thinly disguised acts of racism, separatism, nationalism, conquest, expansion etc…
Ya know the thing is five years ago I would’ve agreed with most of what you wrote, completely…I’ve just had experiences that have taught me to look at everything a bit differently…

KevenSeven
Member

“( or dumb enough as you would probably think)”

Where do you get the idea that I think it is dumb that there are all sorts of things that Man cannot explain? I never said anything of the sort.

And the incitement to violence is intrinsic in almost all religion. To claim a superior understanding of the mind of god is to claim the right to murder and enslave. That simple.

Chernynkaya
Member

@Plato, I am a believer, but I have come to think that organized religion is a net negative for humanity.

All people, whether they are religious or not, do both good and bad things.

Religion makes some people behave better if they follow a religion.

Bad people will do bad things whether they are religious or not. But religion also makes otherwise good people do things that are bad only in the name of religion. Therefore, religion has more negative consequenc­es than no religion.

That said, I truly have no problem whatsoever with anyone following a religion. (I suppose that makes no sense.)

KillgoreTrout
Member

At best, it is a double edged sword. Yes, in general, most religions do work some good in the world. But many work harm as well.
I don’t usually condemn or praise anyone for there religious beliefs unless they try to impose those beliefs or consider themselves to be a superior human being because of their faith.
I like to think that people can be moral beings without religion. But, that may be more of a wish than a reality.

Caru
Member

Only Sith deal in absolutes.

zippitytoo
Member
zippitytoo

Fundamentalism, including fundamentalist atheists(like Bill), is dangerous.

KillgoreTrout
Member

Could you explain the concept of fundamental atheism?

KevenSeven
Member

Careful. Soon somebody will be trying to convince you that atheism is a religion. I can’t get enough of that one.

david p canada
Member
david p canada

I believe it would be more accurate to say that some atheists spout their haughty non-beliefs with religious fervor.

PlatoSunTsu
Member
PlatoSunTsu

Agreed!!!…religious fervor and condescension.

Khirad
Member

It’s not a religion, but a worldview – and an absolutist one in its fundamentalist iteration. No one said it was a religion. You don’t have to be religious to be a fundamentalist in its broader sense (which is, of course, meant to be ironic).

I just don’t know. That’s far more honest. I don’t care who believes what, and hey, it may not be all wrong, even though I don’t believe any organized religion has it all right.

KevenSeven
Member

What is absolutist about saying that I have been presented with no evidence of the existence of god?

I’m not saying that it is impossible to find evidence of the existence of god, I’m just saying that thus far, I have not seen any such evidence.

I see nothing fundamentalist or absolutist about that.

Now I do think that I can characterize a profession of a knowledge of the mind and will of god as rather an absolutist position.

I make no claim to know the mind or will of god, now do I?

KillgoreTrout
Member

Plato Sun Tsu; maybe it’s a matter of semantics. Mathematics is a univeral (in reality, a global) language. It is extremely logic based. But there are events and beliefs that defy logic.
The western world of thought depends on objectivism. Things we can observe and measure.
But there is also intuition, foresight, which cannot be quantified in any concrete sense. Or Empirical sense.

KevenSeven
Member

Well, actually, on this very blog atheism has been called a religion, so do be very careful with that absolutism that you seem so concerned about.

There is nothing “absolutist” about atheism. To be an atheist is to say that one has yet to see convincing evidence of a god. It is not to say there is no god. Just that one has no reason to believe that there is.

The ABSOLUTISTS are the people who say there is a god and that they know his mind. Plenty of them kicking around.

KillgoreTrout
Member

I agree. My atheism doesn’t come from some sort of absolute truth. I simply choose not to believe in supreme beings. I give the existence and intelligence inherent in all of Nature a higher position on the ladder of truth.

PlatoSunTsu
Member
PlatoSunTsu

I don’t think belief has to be limited to “Supreme Beings” or any type of conscious entity as we would ascribe to it…couldn’t it be in just an underlying order…look at mathematics,a cornucopia of proof there for a higher and unknown order.

Gransview
Member
Gransview

Yes I am wrong? THANK YOU! I guess that settles it!

KillgoreTrout
Member

Yeah, that one gets me too.

KillgoreTrout
Member

What is a fundamentalist atheist?

Gransview
Member
Gransview

Anyone who shuts out the possibility of more– no matter what.

KillgoreTrout
Member

I don’t get your meaning. What do you mean by, “more?”

Gransview
Member
Gransview

It’s just a mindset. I don’t accept any specific formal Religious view, or traditional concept of a “God” in “heaven”. Doesn’t make me an atheist. My concept of “God” is still evolving.

I may be wrong, but an Atheist is not open to an evolving point of view here.

PlatoSunTsu
Member
PlatoSunTsu

I’m right there with you.

KillgoreTrout
Member

I think in most cases, an atheist has investigated all possiblities for the existence of a supreme being, and has found no evidence to support such beliefs.
I am not saying I have a definitive answer for all existential questions. I just believe that if such power exists, and i am sure it does, it can’t possibly be attributed to any singular being.

KevenSeven
Member

Yes, you are wrong.

david p canada
Member
david p canada

Possibly an evangelical atheist, hell-bent (no pun) on spreading the good news (gospel) about atheism.

KillgoreTrout
Member

Yeah, that is the supposed meaning I guess. But there is no, “gospel,” in atheism.
I don’t think atheists should go around condemning people because they believe differently than the atheist does. To me that is the opposite side of the same coin.
I feel no need to push my beliefs on others. But, when people seek to inject religious tenets or beliefs into our laws, then I have a problem with them.

ADONAI
Member

Someone lying about it is the biggest deal for me. It doesn’t matter if you’re an atheist or an evangelical, you;’re both just as intolerable to me.

I’m agnostic. A Deist in the purest sense of my beliefs. People think that if you’re an atheist it means you don’t believe in a man in the clouds. No. It’s much broader than that.

You don’t believe in a higher existence, period. You deal in absolutes concerning a universe that leaves no room for them. No thanks. I’d rather remain curious about an existence I or anyone else barely understands.

Which isn’t a defense of religion. The other absolute. The assured attitude that they know how the universe came to be and how it will end. Nonsense. Even their own book tells them they can’t know. Doesn’t stop them from telling you every fucking day.

If we got rid of religion, arrogant secularists would find a new cudgel to bash over the heads of the supposed “unenlightened”. A new ego stroke.

The real lie is that we pretend to know. One way or another. Folks, science may be starting to understand that the whole thing you call reality may not even be real. That the universe we pretend to understand and know, is just a small part of a larger existence we can’t see. That matter an energy are interchangeable and can a carry the same information. That “existence” is far deeper than we ever imagined. So don;t give me absolutes. There are none.

Here 2+2 = 4. On the other side of a black hole, it may equal 6. No absolutes. Not yet.

KevenSeven
Member

Um. No. I can assure you that you are perfectly wrong about the meaning of being an atheist.

To be an atheist means that you recognize no evidence of a guiding intellect that designed or built that which is around us. It is in opposition to both a theist (belief in a mind that builds, guides and supervises) and deism (belief in a mind that builds and then pisses off to some other hobby).

Atheist means not believing, based on the evidence laid out before one, that this fat man in the sky exists and is keeping track of how often you masturbate.

Atheists do not, despite the propaganda of theists and deists, deny the beauty of life or the mysteries of existence. We are not immune to the glorious and luminous.

As for your meme of science evolving outside our understanding of reality; this is what is called and ever evolving tautology. No matter how much science proves that there is no reason to believe that there is not “maker”, the religious and those desperate to not believe that they are the most complex intelligence in this solar system (who knows what is out in the next galaxy?) will say “see, that only proves that God is even more subtle and complex than we could ever know.”

When next you have two hours to spare, perhaps you would care to watch:

whatsthatsound
Member

“(kevenseven)hasn’t experienced any positives from (religion)”?

Says who? From where do you draw that conclusion?”

Well, that’s certainly a valid question. I draw the conclusion from the fact that you write “religion poisons everything” and compare belief in God to a belief in a flying spaghetti monster, among other things.
I can assure you that if you hadn’t repeatedly mocked and demonized religion on this very thread, I never would have asserted that you haven’t experienced any positives from it, but to the extent that using your own words to draw conclusions was presumptuous of me, I apologize.

KevenSeven
Member

Yes, you were presumptuous.

You have never heard the “flying spaghetti monster” simile? Google it. It is an effort to illustrate the absurdity of Man’s efforts to imagine an omniscient being.

Obviously god is not Charlston Heston floating in a cloud two miles up in the sky. But he has been so depicted on any number of occasions.

So now that we have decided that the thousand previous images were utterly fanciful, we atheists have taken a humorous view of the matter. There is a flying spaghetti monster in the sky!

I don’t think I have attempted to characterize your views or beliefs in this thread, but you clearly have repeatedly done so with mine. I think you should be able to make your point without doing that.

whatsthatsound
Member

Of course I know about the good ol’ FSM, K7. I meant precisely that, your use of said to ridicule religion. Someone who has taken positives from religions would be less likely to use ridicule, I feel. But, I recognize your right to call me out on presumptuous on this point.

Speaking of presumptuousness, I’m wondering where you get the idea that I am a “self professed Christian”. Unless I have more than one self?

ADONAI
Member

I don’t really care what you “think” atheists are.

I’m giving you the textbook definition.

And I’ve already seen the 4 Horsemen documentary. Very good.

KevenSeven
Member

Which “textbook” is that?

From Wiki:

“Atheism, in a broad sense, is the rejection of belief in the existence of deities.[1] In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.[2] Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist.[3] Atheism is contrasted with theism,[4][5] which in its most general form is the belief that at least one deity exists.”

whatsthatsound
Member

K7, whenever you talk about religion, you reveal your inability to move beyond the most reductive mischaracterizations of it. In other words, you do the same thing you accuse religious people of doing.

As an analogy, it is as if you were watching a person reading a novel in Korean. Some times he smiles, sometimes he cries, sometimes he seems overwhelmed. You go over to him and say, “What are you doing, man? This is just gobbledy-gook!!”

The problem, you see, is that you can’t read Korean.

Ricestarz
Guest
Ricestarz

I can’t see that analogy. If K7 were to see someone reading Korean and he did not speak or read Korean, why oh why would he say it’s gobbledy gook? Korean is a language, religion is faith in something and or someone. When speaking of Christianity, it is all about faith. It’s not like they worship Sun Yeung Moon or L Ron Hubbard.

whatsthatsound
Member

That’s why it’s an analogy. Of course K7 wouldn’t REALLY do that in the case of an actual book written in Korean. What I am saying is that when he criticizes religion he is more or less doing the same thing. HE hasn’t experienced any positives from it so he assumes that it is not possible TO experience positives from it. He hasn’t had the transcendent experiences of history’s great meditators, so he assumes that THEY haven’t EITHER, and are either lying or making stuff up.
Just like telling someone they can’t get something out of the Korean language if you yourself can’t read it.

KevenSeven
Member

“(kevenseven)hasn’t experienced any positives from (religion)”?

Says who? From where do you draw that conclusion?

Khirad
Member

I recognize no evidence either way.

That being said, I still find myself closest to Sam Harris in that group. The numinous, and the mysteries of existence of Hitchens and Dawkins aside.

But, you continue to argue a straw man.

Adonai was proposing no such tautology as that.

I don’t know about him, but I still say that doesn’t disprove anything.

Do I believe in God as understood by most? No.

Do I believe in some abstract notion of god, not even a deity, but an ISNESS… I don’t really know.

Do I recognize our insignificance, even as there’s talk of other universes bordering our own as if they were galaxies? Yes.

KillgoreTrout
Member

I don’t think significance plays much of a part in the overall scheme of things. Significance implies a level of one being more important than the other.
I think Nature is equal, across the board. I am not talking about the hierachy of sentience, but pure existence and the part that all of Nature plays in the conduct of life, to make up the whole of reality.

ghsts
Member

Love that conversation, mind bending.

KQµårk 死神
Member

Exactly AD the more sure you are one way or another the more I don’t believe you when it comes to religion. But it also makes me tolerant of people’s beliefs as well because they could be “right”. My personal beliefs really have no right to infringe on anyone elses because the probability I will find out if I’m “right” or not is nonexistent.

My beliefs are an amalgam of many experiences, religions and philosophies and will be a little different today than they will be tomorrow. I do know the golden rule of most religions is not a bad way to live your life. There’s no downside to treating people as well as you would like to be treated yourself, save if you are a masochist I guess.

BTW the last line reminds me to recommend that people new here look through the archives. The Planet has some great pieces on all aspects of religions and beliefs.

PocketWatch
Member

I love Einstein’s “thought experiments.”

Imagine you are a two dimensional creature. You can go left or right or diagonally, but that’s it.

You would have no concept of, nor could you even understand “up” or “down.”

We are three dimensional creatures in a multidimensional universe. Our brains and science can hardly conceive of what the universe really is, let alone what it may mean.

Either that, or we are a really bad HS science project run amok.

8)

PlatoSunTsu
Member
PlatoSunTsu

Yep, Just try to conceive of the space-time continuum for a moment…or eternity…

KillgoreTrout
Member

It is beyond human understanding. And maybe that’s the way it should be.

KQµårk 死神
Member

Yup string theory proposes 11 dimensions where closed strings can float in and out of our physical perception.

ADONAI
Member

Indeed Pocket.

I’ve always felt that the answer to all this is gonna be crazier than anything we’ve thought up so far.

Khirad
Member

I may be agnostic too, but I believe in Adonai.

ADONAI
Member

HOORAY!!!!!!!!

Gransview
Member
Gransview

Cheers! (LOL!)

PocketWatch
Member

Since this thread seems to be about religion and social justice, here’s something I wrote shortly after the BP disaster:

I rarely get into my metaphysical beliefs, but I am this time.

I believe that the concept of “god” as a singular entity is wrong. The universe is “god” IMO. We are a part of it, probably one of millions of species throughout the universe that are self-aware.

Therefore, we are the concsious thoughts of “god.” When we damage any part of the universe, our world, we literally damage ourselves. When we weep for others, we weep for ourselves, whether we realize it or not.

“God” notices every sparrow that falls, because “god” IS the sparrow, the grass, the fish, and US, as well. Our disconnect with “nature” (god) is artificial.

There is actually scientific evidence that all the elements and atoms throughout the universe are interconnected, and I believe that to be true. I also think the only way out of our delusions about species superiority and “managing” nature (god) is to stop working against it and start working with it, therefore working with ourselves. I don’t know what form that will take, or even if it will happen, but that’s what I believe.

This disaster is a warning and a challenge. We either heed the warning and take up the challenge, or slide down the path of becoming another failed species.

KillgoreTrout
Member

Many cultures, for centuries, have their own creation myths, that very much include Nature.
Christianity is a religion of exile. The humans were, “kicked out,” of the garden. (Nature) The Christian religion seeks to rise above Nature, which is absolutely impossible. We ARE Nature, well at least a big part of it.

whatsthatsound
Member

In esoteric thinking, I think it is safe to go further than that. If you think about it, this COULD be considered a “fallen” world. Nature is beautiful, but it is extremely unkind to the lower members of the food chain. In the psalms there is a line about the “lion laying down with the lamb”, so I think it is possible to consider that it is not solely humans who were kicked out, but that Nature HERSELF “fell”, and that one day we can ALL, not just humans, hope for a world based on exchange rather than taking and eating. In other words, Eden was another plane of existence, not this one.

KQµårk 死神
Member

The existential side of me has a problem with the concept of a fallen nature. Nature is who SHE is and rejects man made concepts like fallen. My guess is Gaia will exist long past this version of our species. If we evolve at all or are just another terminal branch on the tree of evolution it matters not to her.

I also think nature exchanges and always has. It’s man that embraces non-sustainability. Who knows the trash and all the excesses of our species in the form of ancient ruins and landfills will be the source of mineral deposits and energy for some future intelligent species. Even though my gut says one intelligent species per planet may have highly beat the odds already. If we look into the history of the planet we find that the species or group of species that take too much from her, e.g. the dinosaurs, Gaia has a cruel way of sorting them out as well.

whatsthatsound
Member

I appreciate that. I don’t have a problem with the concept of fallen Nature, nor do I necessarily hold to it. As I wrote to Kilgore, I just think it is a philosophical idea worth considering, a very deep idea in my opinion. It gets to the very heart of the nature of reality, so let’s all go see what Cher has to teach us about that! 🙂

KillgoreTrout
Member

I completely disagree. The big fallacy in your argument is that you give non-humans the power of reason and some sort of inner language.
Nature is billions of years old. You can’t compare the other animals with the human animal when it comes to preception.
Saying Nature has fallen is bit ridiculous. Fallen from what height? Nature will never fall. We humans may cause some short term harm to Nature, but will be around long after we are gone.

whatsthatsound
Member

“I’m not talking about a moral code here. All creatures live by killing other creatures. That is Nature’s way”

Exactly. That IS Nature’s way. But there are those, such as the Gnostics I mentioned, who have questioned WHY that is nature’s way. Why a world based on taking and eating? Why all the suffering?

And, in response, many of have concluded that this must be a “fallen” world, or one that was designed by a “lesser god”. Every philosophy questions the Why of suffering at some point in its evolution, and I think it is fair to say that the consideration of suffering is a sine qua non of philosophy. And that includes ALL suffering, not just human suffering.

whatsthatsound
Member

Kilgore, no worries about obtuseness. But many of Plato’s writings deal with his belief in an ideal universe, of “forms”, from which the physical world derives. The physical world is thus a “corruption” of the ideal, immaterial world. This is how nature can be said to have “fallen”; i.e. by deviating from the more perfect world of the non-physical.

whatsthatsound
Member

Also, I don’t “give” the power of reason to anyone or anything. This argument is related to suffering, not morality. An animal being ripped apart doesn’t really care that the creature harming it doesn’t have a moral code. Suffering is just suffering, and its existence has puzzled and challenged philosophers for millennia.

KillgoreTrout
Member

If what you say of Plato is true, then the actual, physical world is not the same as a theoreticle world. Or an idealistic worldview.
Science has surpassed Plato and Greek philosophy. Except for metaphyisical beliefs,
meta-physics simply translated only means, above physics. Above meaning areas beyond our current understanding. Beyond the knowledge of physics as it is understood at the present.

david p canada
Member
david p canada

The creation story or myth implies that at the Fall of Man and disobedience to God, suffering became necessary in order to punish mankind for this great transgression.

All were now condemned by the actions of Adam. Certainly not fair for those of us who had no part in those actions.

So to get the math right, if all were damned by one man’s tomfoolery, then opportunity had to be provided for mankind to be saved by the actions of one Man.

No man was found worthy to bear this responsibility, so God said, “I guess it’s Me, then”.

So He arrives among us in the form of Jesus Christ. Innocent of all wrong-doing, He is executed on trumped-up charges, and His perfect life becomes a ransom to cover over all of our wicked deeds.

At least that’s how I understand it.

KillgoreTrout
Member

I’m not talking about a moral code here. All creatures live by killing other creatures. That is Nature’s way. Even plants rely on the decay of other plants and animals. That’s just how Nature works. But, as far as anyone knows, plants are not sentient beings.
When I mention reason, I mean that as far as anyone knows, non humans can’t contemplate their existence. They don’t say to themselves, this world is composed of suffering.
I am sure they feel terror and pain, but that is not nearly the same as the consideration of suffering.

whatsthatsound
Member

Although you may call the idea ridiculous, the fact is that it is rooted in some very old and well thought through notions about reality, such as Plato’s idea about ideal/real and Gnosticism. I’m not necessarily agreeing with it either, but I think it is worthwhile considering.

KillgoreTrout
Member

I am not trying to be obtuse, but which of Plato’s writings are you referring to?

choicelady
Member

Christianity for the first 800 years had many faces, but pretty much all of it sought to restore paradise on earth. Along came Charlemagne c.800 CE. To bolster his fervent desire to create the Holy Roman Empire, he raised up the crucifixion – the bloody suffering, agony, dying – as the icon and test of loyalty. True believers would agree to suffer and die, to be absolutely obedient to the cross and all it portended, to the institution of the Church and thus the monarchy and all that meant. The Great Divide – will you die for Jesus?

You no longer could live for joy and peace and betterment – that was not good enough as a “test” of purity of your soul.

Prior to that in the early versions of Christianity, Christin images of the cross were the empty cross surrounded by lush lands, fruits, animals, contentment and peace.

The crucifixion became the “test” – separating the men from the boys (since it also meant women did not count as they had in the early church) and the beginning of binary thinking: good v evil; god v devil; believer v non-believer; righteous believer v heretic; Christian v Jew; Christian v Muslim. The only goal is salvation of one’s OWN soul hardened in pain and fire and hate.
Love for the world and its people – not so much. Maybe not at all since you could burn at the stake for that.

This way of thinking was NOT universal, but it became the RCC way of thinking, and it has influenced religion ever since. Only in the past 50 or so years has a real challenge been thrown up against it all. It’s hard getting back to paradise. There are a lot of vested – and vestmented – interests against it. How can I be pure if you are, too? How can I be loved by God if you, freaking sinner, are as well. If everyone goes to Heaven – what’s the point of anything I do? If there is no divide then why am I following all these rules?

And the best evidence of how that deteriorates is that the standard of “proof” of our righteousness gets smaller and smaller. So long as I SAY I’m “born again” then that’s all that matters. I can feel superior to you AND fornicate my brains out all at the same time.

One anti-abortion wacko once whirled on a group of pro-choice escorts and told them to “fuck off”. When one recoiled in mock horror and said that wasn’t very Christian, the protester said, “I’m born again. I can do anything I want.” Thus contemporary RW Christian binary separations of saints and sinners is reduced to nothing more than narcissism and solipcism. It’s the ultimate “kicking out”, Killgore – only God don’t have nuttin’ to do with it.

KillgoreTrout
Member

I am referring to creation myths that are a part of all cultures, which began thousands of years ago.
Genesis is the only creation myth were man is separated from Nature. Separated as a punishment, but separation none the less.
And yes, it does set up the concept of good and evil. In this case, evil being the disobedience of god’s law. Adam and Eve were exiled from the garden, from Nature.

Khirad
Member

Since you’ve done such a good job with the whole notion of Original Sin/Exile (which is kinda a more Jewish focus, in a way) can you help me with something I’ve had a lot of trouble with C’Lady?

In fact, I wanted to ask all the Christians here this too, since I know you’re all tolerant, and accepting of others’ beliefs.

How can I reconcile John 14:6 (Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.) with pluralism?

david p canada
Member
david p canada

I would say that tolerance and acceptance are two entirely different things.

You may tolerate my semi-Conservative views and opinions but completely reject them as having value for you.

Also, in regards to the quote, many interpret that as a verse which means inclusion rather than exclusion. Before Jesus’ sacrifice all were condemned, now all have an equal opportunity for eternal life. Do the words “…but by me” necessarily imply belief or simply a path?

JMHO

Khirad
Member

I’m going to tolerate that opinion. 😉

I get the Christian point of view that it is inclusive in that anyone can join, unlike a country club. I just don’t get why they feel differently if you were visiting from a different club on a friend’s pass.

In other words, I accept the whole path thing.

I just don’t get why someone who is good to people, living a good upright life has to become anything else other than what they already are to achieve rewards in the afterlife.

I’m agnostic, so my view of God is really fuzzy and abstract. But I’d imagine God wasn’t a dick. That’s my underlying philosophy. God isn’t a dick.

When you arrive for judgment between heaven and hell, God isn’t going to send you below on a technicality if you were a good person who lived a righteous life – regardless of if you accepted Jesus Christ or not.

And maybe God sent down a path which fit different cultures? (or those cultures made up their own religion – you can look at it either way).

I’m rambling, but I was just thinking all these things after I just spent over a month with an incredibly fundamentalist Christian aunt. I tolerated her. But, I can’t fully accept her because she is not tolerant of others’ beliefs. And that’s what it comes down to for me. I am accepting of people who are accepting. I don’t need to believe the same thing as you, or you to believe the same thing I do.

And, John 14:6 just kinda typifies a fundamentalist’s worldview. It was her and her stark vision of teetotaler, Christian choral hymn religion – and the heathens who don’t know better yet and live in the sin of idolatry and rock n’ roll. And those of other non-Christian faiths? She had nothing but misinformed contempt for them.

It bothered me immensely. She didn’t even bother tolerating them.

jdmn17
Member
jdmn17

Well put. I have always had a bug about people seemingly confusing the two. Tolerance to me has an element of judgment and grudging acceptance. Acceptance is acceptance.

I don’t “tolerate” conservative views because at the end of the day I have raised two children who are doing well because I drew lines in the sand my friends often thought were too “conservative”. And I have learned there are some people I simply have to tolerate. A man from work who quoted scripture to me ad naseum and was always urging me to “follow him in christ”. I declined as politely as possible but it destroyed our working relationship. And my super christian sister and her husband. I love them of course but I don’t accept their extreme views on things since they lack the desire or ability to question them enough to be able to discuss them.

I accept you and fellow conservatives who are willing to share and provide their insight much like I accept people to the left of me. We are all, at least it seems to be so here, trying to improve our fellow humans conditions. You simply have a different approach from me. And that’s not always dramatic. For example. When “workfare” was being bounced around some of my friends to me left thought it was degrading to ask people to work for their money. I disagreed, not just from a liberal point of view, rather I believed that many people become chronically unemployed because they simply have not participated in the workforce. It’s a self-sustaining cycle. And yet I was not too far to the right where people would be out picking up trash in yellow jumpsuits. There are plenty of things people can do, often using their acquired skills that would give them some sense of self-worth in the bargain.

So, I should stop blathering. Just wanted to say I accept you as you are.

PocketWatch
Member

Khirad – If one looks at much of what Jesus said, and then look at the Black Sea scrolls and a lot of what was left out of the Bible, you come away with something very interesting, IMO. I see that quote as a sort of allegory.

Jesus, in many ways, and according writers very close to his time, was trying to say that the Kingdom was internal, not someplace else. If you read John 14:6 in that light, couldn’t he be saying, you can’t attain enlightenment – the Kingdom or the Father – except by listening to what I am saying?

That’s the way I read most of Scripture… deeper meaning.

KillgoreTrout
Member

The supposed statement that man cannot obtain enlightenment, is basically a wild goose chase. It presupposes that enlightenment is something beyond human understanding, and requires some sort of mystic guide to explain it.
This is very far from the truth. Enlightenment simply means understanding.
One can be very enlightened to the ways of man, Nature. But metaphysical certainties do not exist.

Khirad
Member

Yes, PW, that’s one of the ways I’ve read it too. I’ve also heard that the Amharic me, could have, in its tense, also meant you – as in, no one comes to the Father but through within yourself – à la Hindu atman sort of deal.

It’s just that that verse has always been a stumbling block for me with Christianity.

This is a Unitarian’s take:

http://www.religioustolerance.org/john146b.htm

zootliberal
Member

choicelady – excellent post, thank you. AS I undertand it you have summarized it quite nicely.

Of course the devil in me wants to know if that’s all it takes, say I’m born again and I can fornicate my brains out? wish I would have known that sooner.

choicelady
Member

Yeah – y’know, it’s a pretty good gig if you buy into it. I bet you don’t even have to stand in front of women’s clinics if you don’t want to.

One pouring wet day escorts were huddled under a canopy waiting to help patients in. The protester and “sidewalk counselors” were, well, on the sidewalk. One of the escorts, not all that comfy, said, “If they suddently get dry – I’m changing sides.”

They didn’t. He didn’t.

But we knew from their own conversations (they seemed to think we could not hear them) that they continued to have affairs, many of the girls snuck into the clinics and had abortions themselves, they continued to drink and use drugs, and they were ALL possessed of the belief that it DID NOT MATTER. They were “born again” so nothing they did even required further forgiveness.

Must be nice.

PocketWatch
Member

@ KT: I just don’t see how we are somehow separated from “nature.” We are as immersed in the universe as any other species or planet or star. And the amazing thing is, there is physics to back it up.

KillgoreTrout
Member

Absolutely PW. This is genuine spirituality.

choicelady
Member

If you know a bit about noetic science, it examines the great scientific insights of the ancients and the beliefs that accompanied them. That fusion of science and the “wow” factor of scientific discovery WAS the spiritual font of all great thinkers. There used NOT to be binary divisions between spirituality and science. How can contemplation of “forever” or “eternal” or “universe without end” NOT be spiritual? How can the contemplation of spirtuality not be impressed with science – the sheer amazing boundary between quantum physics and Newtonian physics is beyond wonderful. Why do we need snarky nothingness that dismisses the “wow” and wonder or the snarky cranky God that worries about our minor trespasses. We have so screwed up the beauty of life in search of power over others. Man – do we miss the point!

KillgoreTrout
Member

Why? Actually we don’t need the things you listed in the latter part of your comment. But they do exist in the world. They exist as a means of control. Step out of line, and go to eternal damnation. Religion is an attempt at governance of the soul.
Personally, being a bit anti authority, I just don’t buy into it. I don’t believe in supreme beings.

whatsthatsound
Member

C’lady, have you ever read a book titled “The Reenchantment of the World”? I forget the author, but it is a great book that touches on this very subject, how a Cartesian, mechanistic way of approaching existence robs the human spirit no less than dogma does, and is in fact its own form of dogma.