Thom is a liberal, but has a screw loose when it comes to religion

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ah2, I am interested in what moved you "beyond atheism."

I am trying to get atheists to talk about "the Mystery of Reality" and how we explore our experience of reality and conceive of it. I have no interest in the preservation of theism as a metaphysical strategy; but I think we ought to be able to respect what worked for people before the cosmological and archeological exposure of the Biblical narrative as narrative instead of history and science. It required some attention to the way "truth" is conveyed.

Those who wish to reject all beliefs in mythic and metaphysical beings have my support because what we have has become too cliched to work well as religion. Churches are still selling God to people who want to believe that their world is not a cold, materialistic and impersonal space. Feeling the love of God is what they want because we really need love. Getting virtual love is not enough. Atheists who are looking for love and are not falling for some Santa substitute may be able to work out the power and authority of love in human nature with deep moral results. Go for it.

The point is that going for it is not the same as rejecting theism. That is the preface, now you have to get to work on the essay.

DRC's picture
DRC
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

But what is the nature of what we call "reality?" Where do "you" (the thing that you call you) actually reside? Do you perceive the "you" as what is somewhere behind your eyes? Are "you" actually in your brain?

And if so where were "you" before you were in your brain?

We really have no idea how this thing we call "life" or "reality" actually works, so who is to really say who or what "God" is? If "God" is something that exists in your mind, or in some collective consciousness is "God" really any more or less because of that? Maybe it's all something that no person has yet been able to even contemplate? In fact if you're going to stake out any position based on any rejection of myth or metaphysics then don't you have to really conclude that we, as human beings, simply don't know and probably can't comprehend?

And why do you we have to be able to comprehend it? Where is that written?

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Rosenthal
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OK you have a point. I said “most hated.” I dont want to argue that further, so lets simply go with “substantial hatred of atheists.” I still wonder why all sorts of people back up the conservatives when atheists speak up; wanting religious freedom (to be free from religious coercion)..

FYI, We have all heard stories.. I have met hundreds of atheists (freethought retreat in Alabama of all places), but not one of us knows an actual atheist, who then was not an atheist any longer.. I believe this topic comes up in atheist chat rooms occasionally (seems we don’t believe in atheists who no longer exist, LOL).. In any case, maybe this explains you resistance to freedom of religion.

Quote ah2:
Quote bobbler:

You must be an atheist to understand (apparently).. The examples you given do not directly relate, because the vast majority of atheists are in the closet.. When Hitler killed the Jews, gays and atheists got the same treatment (if they were not well in the closet).. There are court cases with marriage, military, etc, where atheists are denied rights.. Almost every time an atheist, agnostic (or even a Catholic) complains about some other sect of Christianity installing their prayer in school, that family gets the familiar treatment of dead pets in the mailbox, death threats, etc.. Religious freedom is a big deal, that you are trivializing with you poo-poo on atheists complaints..

Quote ah2:
Quote bobbler:

Maybe it is a sweeping generalization, but I believe it to be true, so it os certainly not dishonest. What minority do you think is most hated? There was a survey a while back showing that fathers would rather their daughters marry a muslim, than an atheist.. And this after the 911 terrorism where many were on the war path agaionst muslims.. This data suggests I am correct.. Next week I will dig up some links if anyone wants to debate this point further.

Quote ah2:

bobbler, I generally respect your opinions but don't position yourself as a martyr. Aethists are no where even close to the "most hated minority." That is just blatantly dishonest.

As far as I know there are no legal restrictions on aethists getting married. As far as I know, there have never been restrictions on aethists serving in the military. As far as I know aethists are not subject to racial profiling in law enforcement. As far as I know, there isn't a high prevelence of overrepresentation/disproportionality of aethists in prisons. As far as I know aethists have not had to defend their reproductive rights in the Supreme Court. As far as I know, aethists have never had to fight for sufferage on account of them being denied the vote based solely on their aethism. As far as I know, aethists were not enslaved based on their aethism in US history. As far as I know, there is a not a disproportionate representation of aethists in special education in schools. As far as I know, aethism does not correlate highly to generational poverty. As far as I know, there are no statistics that show aethists get paid less than their peers who have the same level of education and do the same type of work. As far as I know, there is no "aethist-religious achievement gap" in educational outcomes.

Need I go on? Every single one of the statements made above is true for other minority groups in this country. Aethism, by and large, has never been a persecuted minority. Asking a bunch of Christians if they would rather have their kid marry an aethist or a muslim does not indicate widespread, systematic, overt, and institutional oppression which results in objectively measurable outcomes on a very material and visceral level. I am not one to make the issue of oppression some type of derby where there are winners and losers - I think this is extremely context specific. However, as someone who looks at a lot of research around issues of social justice, I feel I can safely claim that there is neither historical nor sociological evidence to support your claim.

I am sorry but you are barking up the wrong tree...

1. We are not in Nazi Germany.

2. Nazi Germany in no way shape or form treated atheists the same way they treated Jews or any other persecuted group in the Holocaust. Not even close. While Hitler was generally against "secularized political movements" and abolished many of the formal atheist organizations, his primary concern was their compliance with his poltiics. If atheists were persecuted it was because they were speaking out against the Third Reich and not because of their atheism. Now it is possible that the aethists schools of thought were more critical of Hitler and that resulted in disproportionate persecution in relation to treason but that is not the same as saying that they were persecuted simply because they were atheists. The Nazi's even had stated policies declaring an official neutrality towards atheism, while admittedly actively attempting to maintain a Christian aspect to their nationalist identity. This, IMO, was primarily to distinguish themselves from communist Russia and to distance their ideas from that of Karl Marx.

3. I used to be atheist.

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bobbler
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

In my words; (I was trying to avoid talking about beliefs to simplify my complaint against thom, LOL, but here goes);

The Mystery of Reality is a place where truth is stranger than fiction. No matter how we assemble electronic parts (artificial intelligence) to act human, or how nature assembles elements from the dirt (iron, calcium, etc) into plants and animals, it is a mystery indeed where self awareness comes into the picture. Obviously there is more to reality than our best scientists understand, and every culture since the dawn of human reasoning has made up a religion to answer this unanswerable question.. I think the commonality with atheists (although there is substancial variation) is that we feel these things are unknowable, and we do not accept ancient superstitions as an explanation, and looks like we get millitant when these explanations are attempted to be forced on us or our children (although more often than not we are in the closet due to the violent nature of believers)..

Quote DRC:

I am trying to get atheists to talk about "the Mystery of Reality" and how we explore our experience of reality and conceive of it.

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bobbler
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote DRC:

... Liberals who talk about spirituality tend to make it totally personal with nice individuals doing good things. This is the same evangelical recipe for social change given by Christian Conservatives who wanted to place Christians in positions of power but not by dealing with structural injustices.

Liberals of faith don't bring their faith into their politics, but liberals are all about dealing with structural injustices. What type of "recipe" are you proposing yourself?

Quote DRC:

... Where is the community that brings the "we" vision to visibility and life? Where do we get past "me" in worship and celebration so we can make the we happen?

One example would be what I saw during the period of time leading up to the WTO protests. The literature included references to campaigns to alleviate debt which were framed in Judeo-Christian concepts. The word used was "jubilee", having something to do with periodic forgivance of debts in ancient times. While this was included in the various coalitions, when a religious basis is used to justify a political campaign it is more likely to draw in a wide variety of people that have different views but share the same faith. Campaigns without a religious overtone however are more likely to draw together people who leave religion at the door so to speak in order to focus on a sophisticated political vision that does not need to be rationalized in relation to some particular belief structure. Once a movement such as the anti-neoliberal, pro-peaceful global development movement comes together at critical points or gains momentum, all of these types of groups, with a degree of overlapping membership, tend to form tactical coalitions.

Quote DRC:

It is only a silly question about the existence of metaphors and metaphysics. Or is it?

Arguably it is. The idea of god in the anthropomorphized sense of the word has been categorically disproven; as you pointed out there is no "finite" God. But what is the "infinite" god except that which science approaches? But to think scientifically we must hypothesise about "God", give an idea of God that we think is testable. But to substitute the word "God" for whatever other word we would use when we speak of science attempting to create universal theories of everything, "cosmology" for example, is only to change the definition of the word. That this attempt has failed or even may be doomed to failure is more of an argument against the existence of god than for the existence of god insofar as this failure to render a grand theory fails to offer a concept which we can name. "The Tao that can be named is not the infinite Tao."

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nimblecivet
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

But you're still working from a supposition that religion, any religion, must be regarded as being literally true.

Awhile ago I heard a priest say that he long ago stopped praying in any language, which makes absolute sense because why would one need to use words to commune with an all knowing and all powerful entity? Instead this visualized light streaming through him which is exactly one of the meditation techniques I learned and practiced in my internal martial arts.

Of course you don't want to use red. I wonder if the priest knows that?

Anyway since Tai Chi, Bagua, and Hsing Yi are connected with Taoism it is interesting that a Catholic priest would arrive at this technique.

I am not a religionist and have been accused by religionists as being an atheist, and maybe I am? However I think there is more to religion than a belief in God. Interestingly that conforms to what I was taught as a Reform Jew, where we actually reject literal interpretations.

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Rosenthal
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Do you believe in black holes? Ever been to one? Ever seen, touched one, etc. The answer in no, of course. You will say, "I believe in them because there is evidence for them." Really, those grainy images taken by the Hubbell telescope are an artificial representation of numerical data based on algorithms created by man. In many ways the evidence for black holes (one of hundreds of examples of the unseen I could cite) is no more solid than that for the New Testament stories being written by those who had no direct knowledge of the Man. It is like the representations we have of dinosaurs showing their skin color and texture when all we know of them is their fossilized bones.

Atheism is a quasi-religion in the sense that it requires faith. Faith is what we humans do to bridge the gap between the known and the unknown. I've never been to Pluto (nor has any other human) but I'm pretty certain it is there. You need to put your trust in the observations of scientists whom you have never met and whose methodologies are likely unknown to you. You claim that there is no Deity, Creator or anything or anyone of the like but your faith in this belief is really not different than a religious persons faith. I'm not saying you are right or wrong, I certainly don't have the proof one way or the other, neither do you or any other atheists out there. Hence your believe that there is no God is a leap of faith as well.

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IMD
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Aug. 24, 2010 7:37 am

Atheism is religion bunk

[btw Rosenthal, the late Tony Judt left an amazing legacy you might like to browse]

Let the games begin! But while the righteous atheists and creationists mud wrestle for style points in the public arena, let's look at this claim that atheism is a religion.

The first thing to say about the claim that atheism is a religion is that it is patently false. But let's not let that fact get in the way of a good analysis of another pointless idea. Did you know that there are atheistic religions? Yes, Jainism has no gods and Buddhism has no personal gods. But neither Jains nor Buddhists align themselves with atheists. Furthermore, the majority of the world's atheists reject Jainism and Buddhism along with Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and all the other religions that have been created by humans over the course of history.

Does atheism have a dogma? No, but many atheists do accept a lovely narrative involving some very wild and beautiful notions about a Big Bang, universe formation, evolution of species, and so on. But our scientific narrative is not dogma. The story is always "the story so far." It keeps changing as we discover more about the nature of the universe we find ourselves in.

I won't belabor the point, but humans love to create and tell stories. No. We don't just love it, we are compelled to do it. It's what makes us what we are. Science is one of our stories or collections of stories. Perhaps, it is our best story. In the debate over what it is that separates humans from the rest of the animals I vote for this story-telling drive, this love of narrative that strives to connect disparate items into some sort of satisfying, coherent whole. In the never-ending argument over what makes us special, I go for that ancient human pastime of sitting around the campfire and telling tales.

A book I recently read makes the argument that religion issues from this brain-driven need to create stories (The Accidental Mind: How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams, and God by David J. Linden). I have no reason to doubt it. But the kinds of stories religions tell resemble dreams, fantasies, fables, legends, and fairy tales. The kinds of stories science creates are unique. They are fallible, revisable, testable, modifiable, and ultimately falsifiable. Science changes its stories to fit with our growing knowledge of the universe. Creationism doesn't do that. Creationism, in fact, is dogmatic in its assertion that some desert nomads got it right a few thousand years ago and anyone who discovers anything that contradicts what these ancient savants said is a fool. Rather than modify its beliefs to fit with our expanding knowledge of the world, creationists reject science a priori and try to construct a new narrative that fits science with their biblical beliefs. The only way to do this is to declare that all scientists and scientific methods are in error. To be blunt: young Earth creationism is one of the stupidest stories humans have ever told.

For a religionist to compare science to theology is either hypocrisy or ignorance. To say atheism has a demonology because some atheists demonize creationists and other buffoons as stupid, insane, or unworthy of consideration in the marketplace of ideas, may be metaphorical but at least it is a narrative that makes sense. To say that atheists think that religious believers "are all similar beings that need [to] be controlled and feared by rational people lest we spread our corruption throughout their pristine and random creation" may be true (except for the bit about being pristine, random, and a creation) but it's irrelevant to the issue of whether atheism is a religion. Likewise, it is true that some atheists would like to see the end of all religion, but this desire is also irrelevant to the issue of atheism as a religion. If this defender of the faith has shown anything, he has shown that atheism is an enemy of religion. Though it wasn't his aim, he may have inadvertently proved that science is a religion in the sense that it is a competitor with creationism and other stories for those of us sitting around the human campfire wondering what the hell we're doing here. Even that wouldn't be true, though. We might say that science was a religion back in the day when its narrative might have been considered a competitor of stories like creationism. Creationists who have abandoned science are no longer allowed to sit at the camp fire. They have to go to another forest and tell stories to each other. The rest of us will listen to religious stories, but only those that don't reject science out of hand. Atheists might not accept the religious stories of scientists who believe in gods, but most atheists will not be so arrogant or stupid as to deny all those who believe and tell religious stories a place around the fire. If the religious story is consistent with the narratives of science, no matter how implausible the religious story might seem, it still has a right to be told, argued about, modified, and ultimately accepted or rejected as the participants see fit.

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douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote bobbler:

OK you have a point. I said “most hated.” I dont want to argue that further, so lets simply go with “substantial hatred of atheists.” I still wonder why all sorts of people back up the conservatives when atheists speak up; wanting religious freedom (to be free from religious coercion)..

FYI, We have all heard stories.. I have met hundreds of atheists (freethought retreat in Alabama of all places), but not one of us knows an actual atheist, who then was not an atheist any longer.. I believe this topic comes up in atheist chat rooms occasionally (seems we don’t believe in atheists who no longer exist, LOL).. In any case, maybe this explains you resistance to freedom of religion.

Quote ah2:
Quote bobbler:

You must be an atheist to understand (apparently).. The examples you given do not directly relate, because the vast majority of atheists are in the closet.. When Hitler killed the Jews, gays and atheists got the same treatment (if they were not well in the closet).. There are court cases with marriage, military, etc, where atheists are denied rights.. Almost every time an atheist, agnostic (or even a Catholic) complains about some other sect of Christianity installing their prayer in school, that family gets the familiar treatment of dead pets in the mailbox, death threats, etc.. Religious freedom is a big deal, that you are trivializing with you poo-poo on atheists complaints..

Quote ah2:
Quote bobbler:

Maybe it is a sweeping generalization, but I believe it to be true, so it os certainly not dishonest. What minority do you think is most hated? There was a survey a while back showing that fathers would rather their daughters marry a muslim, than an atheist.. And this after the 911 terrorism where many were on the war path agaionst muslims.. This data suggests I am correct.. Next week I will dig up some links if anyone wants to debate this point further.

Quote ah2:

bobbler, I generally respect your opinions but don't position yourself as a martyr. Aethists are no where even close to the "most hated minority." That is just blatantly dishonest.

As far as I know there are no legal restrictions on aethists getting married. As far as I know, there have never been restrictions on aethists serving in the military. As far as I know aethists are not subject to racial profiling in law enforcement. As far as I know, there isn't a high prevelence of overrepresentation/disproportionality of aethists in prisons. As far as I know aethists have not had to defend their reproductive rights in the Supreme Court. As far as I know, aethists have never had to fight for sufferage on account of them being denied the vote based solely on their aethism. As far as I know, aethists were not enslaved based on their aethism in US history. As far as I know, there is a not a disproportionate representation of aethists in special education in schools. As far as I know, aethism does not correlate highly to generational poverty. As far as I know, there are no statistics that show aethists get paid less than their peers who have the same level of education and do the same type of work. As far as I know, there is no "aethist-religious achievement gap" in educational outcomes.

Need I go on? Every single one of the statements made above is true for other minority groups in this country. Aethism, by and large, has never been a persecuted minority. Asking a bunch of Christians if they would rather have their kid marry an aethist or a muslim does not indicate widespread, systematic, overt, and institutional oppression which results in objectively measurable outcomes on a very material and visceral level. I am not one to make the issue of oppression some type of derby where there are winners and losers - I think this is extremely context specific. However, as someone who looks at a lot of research around issues of social justice, I feel I can safely claim that there is neither historical nor sociological evidence to support your claim.

I am sorry but you are barking up the wrong tree...

1. We are not in Nazi Germany.

2. Nazi Germany in no way shape or form treated atheists the same way they treated Jews or any other persecuted group in the Holocaust. Not even close. While Hitler was generally against "secularized political movements" and abolished many of the formal atheist organizations, his primary concern was their compliance with his poltiics. If atheists were persecuted it was because they were speaking out against the Third Reich and not because of their atheism. Now it is possible that the aethists schools of thought were more critical of Hitler and that resulted in disproportionate persecution in relation to treason but that is not the same as saying that they were persecuted simply because they were atheists. The Nazi's even had stated policies declaring an official neutrality towards atheism, while admittedly actively attempting to maintain a Christian aspect to their nationalist identity. This, IMO, was primarily to distinguish themselves from communist Russia and to distance their ideas from that of Karl Marx.

3. I used to be atheist.

bobbler you need to back up about 5 ticks and reassess. Before, I was attempting to have a civil conversation, now I am pissed. One of my biggest pet pieves on forums like this is when people misrepresent my views. Where in the hell do you get off saying that I am against religious freedom? Where in the hell do you get off telling me I wasn't a "real" atheist?

I have made 3 claims in this thread:

1. Atheists are not "the most hated" minority in the U.S. While I recognize that they probably receive a fair amount of discrimination from hardline Christian psycho-talkers. Tp my knowledge, they are not the victims of any overt institutionalized oppression as are many other minority groups in this country (which I eluded to in my previous post).

2. Atheism could be considered a religion in the sense that it is a set of beliefs to which people dogmatically attach themselves. This has been supported by two things in this thread. a) your insistance that ideas regarding "religious freedom" be applied to atheism. If atheism were not a relgion, then religious freedom would have nothing to do with it. AND b) The fact that the atheists here are adament about what is and what is not included within their belief system and they pursue this distinction with fervor.

3. Secularized "rationality" is also an ideology just like any religion. In fact, "rationality" as a set of beliefs has a very short history of only about 300 years. There is A LOT of scholarship about the ideological nature of rationality. A good place to start if you are interested in this critique would be: "The History of the Modern Fact" by Mary Poovey, "Trust in Numbers" by Theodore Porter, "Objectivity" by Daston and Galison, and basically anything written by Bruno Latour.

I have set aside other questions asked of me here because I believe them to be a smoke screen to avoid these three points. Attacking my character, bobbler, is among them. Nothing in the claims I have outlined here says that I am against religous freedom. In fact, in my opinion, the ONLY people in this thread who have completely discounted other people's views as illegitimate are the atheists - calling all religion "imagination" - while us "theists" have generally allowed for the validity of your viewpoint and your right to see the world the way you see it. My point has only been that atheists need to acknowledge that a fair amount of what they believe is based on assumptions about the world that they cannot prove. That's it...

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm

As posted previously, atheists do not "believe there is no god." Rather atheists "dont believe in god" (dont believe either way being the key point).. You are repeating definitions for atheists made up by fundies (I think it was Pat Robertson).

Religion and science do not relate to each other because they are mutually exclusieve (the opposite because science refers to things we know, and belief refers to things we do not know). In other words belief begins where science ends (for exxample people used to believe thunder was god, until science explained it). Science is peer reviewed, and self correcting when a mistake is made.. Scientific discoveries are repeatable all over the world. Belief on the other hand is simply belief in something..

Quote IMD:

Do you believe in black holes? Ever been to one? Ever seen, touched one, etc. The answer in no, of course. You will say, "I believe in them because there is evidence for them." Really, those grainy images taken by the Hubbell telescope are an artificial representation of numerical data based on algorithms created by man. In many ways the evidence for black holes (one of hundreds of examples of the unseen I could cite) is no more solid than that for the New Testament stories being written by those who had no direct knowledge of the Man. It is like the representations we have of dinosaurs showing their skin color and texture when all we know of them is their fossilized bones.

Atheism is a quasi-religion in the sense that it requires faith. Faith is what we humans do to bridge the gap between the known and the unknown. I've never been to Pluto (nor has any other human) but I'm pretty certain it is there. You need to put your trust in the observations of scientists whom you have never met and whose methodologies are likely unknown to you. You claim that there is no Deity, Creator or anything or anyone of the like but your faith in this belief is really not different than a religious persons faith. I'm not saying you are right or wrong, I certainly don't have the proof one way or the other, neither do you or any other atheists out there. Hence your believe that there is no God is a leap of faith as well.

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bobbler
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The idea that religion and science have nothing in common, nothing to talk about, etc. will come as a big surprise to those of us who are and have been engaged in wonderfully productive conversations in the post "literalist" world. The big face off between religion and science was always a misunderstanding. Religionists have this tendency to forget that religion is a myth/metaphor construct about reality and want their story and its constructs to be real instead. It is like making poetry into prose.

Once scientists stopped trying to fill in the blanks in "reality" and felt the joy of a continuing mystery they stopped confining theology to non factual wishing. There is meaning and content to being human, and theology is always about what it is to be human in this world. There are not any final answers, but there is a lot of description and narrative as well as metaphors that science has embraced. Even the idea of being "born again" describes the shift of paradigms and perspectives.

Back in the day, as a college chaplain I would put on the science/religion debate where the professor of religious studies would inevitably try to prove the factuality of his discipline while the scientist would gush with wonder about science. Religion did try to prove itself intellectually respectable in the age of logical positivism, and much of Fundamentalism and Biblicism is more like the epistemology of lab science proof in a test tube than anything including the Holy Spirit.

Liberals tended to conflate science with religion so that evolution is how God does it. A whole lot better than the theological junk called Creationism, but not exactly a vibrant dialogue. The better way is to join the cosmological conversation where theism's metaphorical coherence is fading and the sacred, the moral and the human continue to be existentially relevant. If we are not wasting time looking for God out there at the end of Hubble vision, we can rediscover the sacred in our humanity. The New Epistemology is post rational and filled with carnality. How our human nature fits with nature and our knowing and imagining stays connected to reality tends to be important in a lot of our discussions.

Atheists would do themselves a favor if their rejection of theism did not include all of religion. As pointed out, some religions do not make theism that be a deal. I am convinced that "God" is just mental furniture referring to our finitude to keep us from treating the finite as if it were infinite. If God "exists," the claims of Mammon and Mars are false. But they are false even if we don't invoke theism.

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DRC
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote bobbler:

As posted previously, atheists do not "believe there is no god." Rather atheists "dont believe in god" (dont believe either way being the key point).. You are repeating definitions for atheists made up by fundies (I think it was Pat Robertson).

Religion and science do not relate to each other because they are mutually exclusieve (the opposite because science refers to things we know, and belief refers to things we do not know). In other words belief begins where science ends (for exxample people used to believe thunder was god, until science explained it). Science is peer reviewed, and self correcting when a mistake is made.. Scientific discoveries are repeatable all over the world. Belief on the other hand is simply belief in something..

Quote IMD:

Do you believe in black holes? Ever been to one? Ever seen, touched one, etc. The answer in no, of course. You will say, "I believe in them because there is evidence for them." Really, those grainy images taken by the Hubbell telescope are an artificial representation of numerical data based on algorithms created by man. In many ways the evidence for black holes (one of hundreds of examples of the unseen I could cite) is no more solid than that for the New Testament stories being written by those who had no direct knowledge of the Man. It is like the representations we have of dinosaurs showing their skin color and texture when all we know of them is their fossilized bones.

Atheism is a quasi-religion in the sense that it requires faith. Faith is what we humans do to bridge the gap between the known and the unknown. I've never been to Pluto (nor has any other human) but I'm pretty certain it is there. You need to put your trust in the observations of scientists whom you have never met and whose methodologies are likely unknown to you. You claim that there is no Deity, Creator or anything or anyone of the like but your faith in this belief is really not different than a religious persons faith. I'm not saying you are right or wrong, I certainly don't have the proof one way or the other, neither do you or any other atheists out there. Hence your believe that there is no God is a leap of faith as well.

do some of the reading I posted bobbler and get back to me.

ah2
Joined:
Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm

People who argue that religion and scientific knowledge are to be evaluated as having the same basic status of validity are making a mistake. This is why it is important to understand the idea that religion is a failed science. Religion never lacked a rational aspect, and the gradual refinement of philosophy created a somewhat artificial historical division between the past characterized as a "religious" phase of history and the present phase dominated by a concern for reason. If we understand the continuity behind the historic development of philosophy and science it becomes possible to avoid creating an artificial paradox. As knowledge is gained and theories are revised, the historical continuity remains rooted in the ability to recognize the object of knowledge treated by different modes of knowing.

Religion continues to revise itself and continues to exist; it probably will indefinitely because it serves a basic social function endemic to our species. That's not to say that spirituality and other forms of psychological self-awareness will eventually account for religion being superceded by other forms of social interaction. "Spirituality" outside the definition of religion is a vague term which some might find objectionable or innaccurate in reference to them; but it serves to invoke the individual where "culture" invokes society.

It is fallacious to think in simplistic terms of a "Science" that all at once reforms itself at certain critical points as the acquisition of knowledge and the attempt to verify theories progresses. Even more dubious is the assumption that the process of accumulating knowledge inevitably leads to a wholesale transformation of a discipline, much less "Science" as a whole, without end, without the accumulation of a stable base of knowledge. The various scientific disciplines are gradually reformed and perhaps their relationship to each other is revised, etc. etc., but through all these transformations knowledge and accuracy has only increased. The only question relevant to the potential of science in the long run is that of our ability to acuire knowledge, whether science will ever yield a "metaphysical" praxis which comprehends our ability to perceive what we call reality as well as that reality itself.

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nimblecivet
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I am amused at the idea that religion is a "failed science." "Science" is a fairly modern methodology in the history of philosophy, but I think it is a bit presumptious to think that it trumps the traditions of metaphysics, parables, myths and ritual that are part of human culture or the spiritual quest to understand the mystery of being here as human beings.

What I like is the fresh discourse between science and metaphysics and the interest in narrative where myths are not offensive to the "scientific method." There is no winner in any contest between science and religion, but there is bad science and bad religion aplenty. There are scientists who are ignorant about religion and have had very bad experiences with bad religion. Getting them to speak with respect about theology is not easy.

There are enough idiots pushing religion and theism to make the defense of religion questionable. But the point is that they do not exhaust the subject and the good stuff does not make the news. When theologians take science seriously, good things happen. I like to think it can be reciprocal, and my experience tells me that is true. "Failed science?" I don't think that makes any sense.

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Quote DRC:

ah2, I am interested in what moved you "beyond atheism."

I am trying to get atheists to talk about "the Mystery of Reality" and how we explore our experience of reality and conceive of it. I have no interest in the preservation of theism as a metaphysical strategy; but I think we ought to be able to respect what worked for people before the cosmological and archeological exposure of the Biblical narrative as narrative instead of history and science. It required some attention to the way "truth" is conveyed.

Those who wish to reject all beliefs in mythic and metaphysical beings have my support because what we have has become too cliched to work well as religion. Churches are still selling God to people who want to believe that their world is not a cold, materialistic and impersonal space. Feeling the love of God is what they want because we really need love. Getting virtual love is not enough. Atheists who are looking for love and are not falling for some Santa substitute may be able to work out the power and authority of love in human nature with deep moral results. Go for it.

The point is that going for it is not the same as rejecting theism. That is the preface, now you have to get to work on the essay.

Wow, man, it's like you read my mind and articulate my thoughts even better than I can. I agree wholeheartedly.

Again and again we see people advocate for religion instead of those things that really nourish the human spirit. They are bound by tradition to the point that they don't even question whether or not it still works, or ever worked. People DO seem to need to have a spiritual component to their lives, but that is in no way a mandate to join the sky worshiping crowd. There are a lot of good things that we can do for ourselves before we beseech the clouds to intervene.

I agree that love is "it", though not the kind of love that people use to describe their feelings towards gods, countries and chocolate. That isn't love-or at least isn't the way to define love if you want love to change lives for the better. Love can't be a feeling or it will come and go with one's feelings. Love must be an action and it must be selfless.

Look at the words of Jesus, when he used the phrase "love thy neighbor" or "love thy enemy". He wasn't saying get a warm fuzzy feeling about people-which is nearly impossible to force. He was saying commit acts of selflessness in the best interest of other human beings and the world we share will improve. With that I cannot argue. Imagine how that strategy would have changed some of history's most notable failures. For instance: 9-11

If, when we were attacked, we had decided to love our enemies, instead of attempting to bomb them back to the stone age ( a horrific dismissal of violence), we could have used the money to educate, feed and heal the people we, instead, bombed. We never selflessly looked at our history with regard to the middle east and decided to be the first one NOT to strike back. It would have cost a fraction of the amount we ultimately spent, it would have prevented the deaths of thousands, if not millions, and it would have been consistent with our national rhetoric about justice. The attackers would have had nothing to show to the world as a demonstration of American violence against Islam and the worldwide sympathy that followed 9-11 could have been channeled into really changing hearts and minds in the traditional sense, as opposed to the way the military changes hearts by stopping their beating and minds by exposing them to the air. That equity of sympathy could have gone a long way toward changing the political environment of the middle east and the friction between Israel and Palestine. But, if we did that, many Americans would accuse the president of being weak...like Jesus, I suppose. It' seems ironic to me that the religion most Americans believe in is contradicted, so often, by their actions. It makes me wonder which book they're reading.

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Oct. 20, 2010 8:47 pm

This "atheism requires faith" line always make me chuckle. Faith in what?

Anyway, here's an article that I think is worth reading: http://atheism.about.com/od/atheismatheistsriskhell/a/ReasonsBelief.htm

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Sep. 3, 2010 9:20 am

I think "failed philosophy" is more accurate personally, but this is not the point I wanted to get hung up on. But since you bring it up, religion is a failed science in that it gave answers to what could be considered to be "scientific" questions. These answers were tested and found wanting. A science offers not only explanations but prescriptions. The prescriptions for avoiding disease, being successful at war, avoiding misfortune, etc. which religion offered were found to be ineffective. The results hoped for did not manifest. New methods of examining the same problems were developed, methods which yielded consistant results as expected after ascertaining the relevant facts. These days, attempts to make religion relevant are done on a philosophical basis. For example, the ban on stem cell research was largely based on religious sentiment that humans should not interfere with the sacred. But of course, there are a number of legitimate concerns about bioengineering and biotechnology. So the real question is whether what you refer to as the "sacred" can be adequately identified. Is a gamete sacred because it is a mystery, or are the potential results of experimenting with the human genome a threat to the notion of human society which properly recognizes the sacred?

Your focus on meaning and stories I think is valid to an extent, especially considering that the science of psychology does not even approach a comprehensive understanding of the existential, social, anthropological, and historical questions involved with meaning, understanding, expression, etc. But to me religion appears limited to certain forms of expression. It does not necessarilly limit expression, as religious institutions no longer seek to fully censor expression in the ways they did previously. But for religion to express itself through art it has recourse only to certain forms of storytelling, and certain forms of art including painting, sculpture, and filmaking, etc. which are employed in ways restricted to communicating religious thought and sentiment.

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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Expat Wannabe:To call atheism a religion is like saying bald is a hair color. In practical and selfish terms though, I'd like to see it classified as a religion.

What would you think of calling both atheism any other religions "spiritual orientations?" Can we call both dyejobs and baldness "hairstyles?" Can we put this to bed?

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Quote Expat Wannabe:Another fun fact: The countries with the lowest rate of religious participation also have the lowest rate of crime, divorce, teenage pregnancies, and a number of other societal ills.

Another fun fact: The highest concentration of Christians, outside of church on Sunday, can be found in prison.

First thought: are the prisoners just saying they're religious because they want to be seen as reformed? Probably some, at least.

But which thing causes the other? I think it's at least equally likely that living in an environment full of social ills makes your life harder, which makes you more likely to seek an emotional security blanket that can't be easily affected by additional hardship. I know I find it much easier to comtemplate the possibility that this is all there is when my life is going well.

I think it's probably a little bit of both: that people seek religion when times are tough, and that people who think that as long as they belong to this certain group, they can do no wrong, actively cause times to be tough. But, of course, not all religious people are like that.

I mean, all but the strongest of atheists doing hard time would probably succumb to the need for some kind of untouchable positive emotional foundation.

- An Agnostic who prays and doesn't care if it goes anywhere

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Quote Garrett78:

This "atheism requires faith" line always make me chuckle. Faith in what?

Faith that there will never be any evidence of a higher power simply because you haven't seen it in the past. And faith in your awesome powers of perception and reasoning.

- An Agnostic who prays and doesn't care if it's only a useful thought exercise

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Quote chiiill:
Quote Garrett78:

This "atheism requires faith" line always make me chuckle. Faith in what?

Faith that there will never be any evidence of a higher power simply because you haven't seen it in the past.

Except that isn't what atheism means to me or any atheist I've come across. I don't believe there is a "god" (in the traditional sense--see article I linked to in my last post). If presented with evidence that there is one, I can re-assess. In the meantime, I see no reason to merely have doubt and I certainly don't see any reason to have faith that there is, in fact, a "god."

"Higher power" is pretty vague (again, see article I linked to in my last post).

“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” Stephen Roberts (who, of course, was referring to traditional monotheists).

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Quote Garrett78:
Quote chiiill:
Quote Garrett78:

This "atheism requires faith" line always make me chuckle. Faith in what?

Faith that there will never be any evidence of a higher power simply because you haven't seen it in the past.

Except that isn't what atheism means to me or any atheist I've come across. I don't believe there is a "god" (in the traditional sense--see article I linked to in my last post). If presented with evidence that there is one, I can re-assess. In the meantime, I see no reason to merely have doubt and I certainly don't see any reason to have faith that there is, in fact, a "god."

"Higher power" is pretty vague (again, see article I linked to in my last post).

“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” Stephen Roberts (who, of course, was referring to traditional monotheists).

I agree. It's not the same "faith" to think that there isn't a malevolent and invisible force waiting for you to die, so he can judge you against an arbitrary binary standard of good and evil for the purpose of thrusting you into either eternal bliss or suffering accordingly, as it is to believe there is one. I also have faith, by that standard, that invisible sex demons aren't humping me every time I bend over the dish washer. So there, that's at lest two things I don't have faith in...gods and invisible sex demons. I'm sure I could think of others.

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Oct. 20, 2010 8:47 pm

Thom is disrespecting athists by repeating fundy tactics used to demonize atheists.. This was the main issue here; that got hyjacked by all the philosophical discussion..

As usual we get the few atheists who are out of the closet agreeing.. And we get a few atheists, or people claiming to be atheists, saying it is OK (I cant imagine any atheist agreeing its OK to repeat fundy inspired slaps in the face against atheists).. And a bunch of people seemingly angered by this attempt to try and get thom to simply stop calling atheism a religion (so we can move fwd with progressive issues)..

For philosophical discussions (rersources) please go to http://www.ffrf.org/ http://www.atheists.org/ or my home email list afsforum at www.yahoogroups.com / http://www.atlantafreethought.org/.. I am sure there are many other sites, but many of them are fundy websites purposefully confusing the issue.. The sites above are genuine atheist websites with no bull.. One appology in advance.. atheist websites can be a abrasive if you are a believer.. I fight with my fellow atheists on this all the time.. More friendly atheosts are (google) "atheist alliance" "positive atheism" "secular humanism" ..

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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Bobbler, http://www.centerforinquiry.net/ is good.

Drc,/Biology-Transcendence-Blueprint-Human-Spirit/

might fit into your view. Thom's acknowledgement is on the back cover.

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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Definitely it is unacceptable to refer to atheism as a religion. Believing something that might not be true does not make it a religion. The character of an atheist's beliefs will be philosophical or scientific if they are to be described with labels, or perhaps spiritual or demonstrative of a certain psychological disposition (personality, character). True, that these characteristics might have been inherited from a religious culture, or from a culture with a religious history, but that does not make the person "religious" per se. One could stretch the definition and speculate on the possibility that an atheist could adhere to a set of practices inherited from religion, but it would be hard to see why an atheist would do that unless they were the only atheist around in a religious culture. More likely, the prevelence of a non-religious culture would imply greater social and cultural variety and individual freedom of expression.

That being said I don't mind any type of evangalist. People who say "Believe what you want but don't get in my face with it." are contributing to the apathetic social and political culture that we have today dominated by dumbed-down media and market culture.

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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I don't despise the JW's who knock on my door with the Watchtower, but it is pretty ridiculous stuff. I do resent the fools who "pray for me" because they are stuck in homophobia or fetal sentimentality. I find the One Way with Jesus crowd locked into their binary world and missing the whole point. The only evangelism Paul really recommended was by example and to build relationships where others would ask about Jesus.

Passionate advocacy is another matter. It is not "my way or the highway." It is about speaking truth to power and being a witness at a personal level. Being an evangelist for peace is not about the personal salvation of anyone. It is about politics.

When atheists attack religion per se instead of theism as a mode of metaphysics or a "failed metaphor," they get religion about it. I think there is a level of obsession that belies a problem in "development" in this area of life. Instead of moving ahead in the spiritual process, the militant atheist stops with Doubt and makes it everything. I am trying to distinguish here between the militant and the healthy "atheist" who just does not use theism in the area of personal spiritual growth and consciousness. For the latter, as for the rest of the theists, getting to the "we" from the "me" is still the unmet challenge.

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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Christians who are exclusive and judgmental are acting contrary to Jesus' teachings which makes them not only hypocritical of their religion, but obviously failing the "we" vs "me" challenge.

Atheists are just as capable of meeting the "we" vs "me" challenge, but also capable of acting exclusive and judgmental without being hypocritical of their atheism.

Every single person on earth should be striving to meet the "we" vs "me" challenge regardless of where they may lie on the theism spectrum. If the theism spectrum is seen as a straight line, then the "we" vs "me" spectrum is a straight line which is perpendicular to it and can cross the theism line at any given point. And we are all too capable of moving in the "me" direction.

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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

CFI are my favorite people (but I forgot them, LOL).. ..

Quote douglaslee:

Bobbler, http://www.centerforinquiry.net/ is good.

Drc,/Biology-Transcendence-Blueprint-Human-Spirit/

might fit into your view. Thom's acknowledgement is on the back cover.

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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I guess some atheists do attack religion, but name me any group of people that doesnt have some hot heads (a lot of atheists go thru an angry phase). It annoys me that atheists have the reputation of attacking religion, but it is almost always a "response" to some religious group that attacked the atheist first.. It is noteworthy that there would be no atheist groups if fundy groups were not pushing their religion onto us in the first place (typically forcing their religion onto our kids when we send them off to school.. or we are denied a job, or expected to swear to god, etc).. Some atheists get millitant about defending the rights of atheists, and will not go to the back ofthe bus and sit down..

Quote DRC:

I don't despise the JW's who knock on my door with the Watchtower, but it is pretty ridiculous stuff. I do resent the fools who "pray for me" because they are stuck in homophobia or fetal sentimentality. I find the One Way with Jesus crowd locked into their binary world and missing the whole point. The only evangelism Paul really recommended was by example and to build relationships where others would ask about Jesus.

Passionate advocacy is another matter. It is not "my way or the highway." It is about speaking truth to power and being a witness at a personal level. Being an evangelist for peace is not about the personal salvation of anyone. It is about politics.

When atheists attack religion per se instead of theism as a mode of metaphysics or a "failed metaphor," they get religion about it. I think there is a level of obsession that belies a problem in "development" in this area of life. Instead of moving ahead in the spiritual process, the militant atheist stops with Doubt and makes it everything. I am trying to distinguish here between the militant and the healthy "atheist" who just does not use theism in the area of personal spiritual growth and consciousness. For the latter, as for the rest of the theists, getting to the "we" from the "me" is still the unmet challenge.

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Quote bobbler:

I guess some atheists do attack religion, but name me any group of people that doesnt have some hot heads (a lot of atheists go thru an angry phase). It annoys me that atheists have the reputation of attacking religion, but it is almost always a "response" to some religious group that attacked the atheist first.. It is noteworthy that there would be no atheist groups if fundy groups were not pushing their religion onto us in the first place (typically forcing their religion onto our kids when we send them off to school.. or we are denied a job, or expected to swear to god, etc).. Some atheists get millitant about defending the rights of atheists, and will not go to the back ofthe bus and sit down..

I believe that religions are only as good as the people who practice them. The words of the books being inerant is just an idea that zealots subscribe to, those who have switched off-out of fear or laziness- their internal question marks. I know that many religions have been spread, apparently, through missionaries and soldiers but there is really only one way to spread a religion, just like there is only one way to spread a political philosophy...by example. You sell either religion or politics by demonstrating that they work for people. I've never seen anything else convince anyone.

I think that's why there are so many people who call themselves christian without ever reading any part of the bible. They grew up around people who called themselves christians and those people were good and led decent lives. It is the actions of the adherents and not the rhetoric of the scriptures or political manifesto that really sells the idea. So, becoming "militant" is not going to work for the atheists OR the theists. That will be a turn off to just about anyone. Looking at the issue, big picture, though, I think it's pretty unimportant whether atheism or theism "wins" the debate. What's important is that whatever emerges as our spiritual path, it better not be violent or stupid-inducing. We've had plenty of that already.

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I support positive atheism, humanism, freethought, and education as the tools to fight for atheists rights.. We should not "try" to speak in terms that annoy believers, as many atheists do do.. Rather militant in the sense that we cant let thinsg slide..

Quote D_NATURED:
Quote bobbler:

I guess some atheists do attack religion, but name me any group of people that doesnt have some hot heads (a lot of atheists go thru an angry phase). It annoys me that atheists have the reputation of attacking religion, but it is almost always a "response" to some religious group that attacked the atheist first.. It is noteworthy that there would be no atheist groups if fundy groups were not pushing their religion onto us in the first place (typically forcing their religion onto our kids when we send them off to school.. or we are denied a job, or expected to swear to god, etc).. Some atheists get millitant about defending the rights of atheists, and will not go to the back ofthe bus and sit down..

I believe that religions are only as good as the people who practice them. The words of the books being inerant is just an idea that zealots subscribe to, those who have switched off-out of fear or laziness- their internal question marks. I know that many religions have been spread, apparently, through missionaries and soldiers but there is really only one way to spread a religion, just like there is only one way to spread a political philosophy...by example. You sell either religion or politics by demonstrating that they work for people. I've never seen anything else convince anyone.

I think that's why there are so many people who call themselves christian without ever reading any part of the bible. They grew up around people who called themselves christians and those people were good and led decent lives. It is the actions of the adherents and not the rhetoric of the scriptures or political manifesto that really sells the idea. So, becoming "militant" is not going to work for the atheists OR the theists. That will be a turn off to just about anyone. Looking at the issue, big picture, though, I think it's pretty unimportant whether atheism or theism "wins" the debate. What's important is that whatever emerges as our spiritual path, it better not be violent or stupid-inducing. We've had plenty of that already.

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I support positive atheism, humanism, freethought, and education as the tools to fight for atheists rights.. We should not "try" to speak in terms that annoy believers, as many atheists do do.. Rather militant in the sense that we cant let thinsg slide..

You're right, the word "militant" gets misued a lot by people who want to equate our ire with their own violence. Militant atheists, militant feminists, etc. are just people who have begun to speak up for themselves against the established social norms. It is understandably a threat to the status quo, but we are NOT militant.

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It is one thing to have strong feelings and to be making a significant personal shift and another to be fixated on the point. The word "militant" has a connotation of ideological rigidity beyond passionate commitment. I think it reflects a less than confident or settled developmental process and the "militant" element is about being too defensive rather than certain of one's convictions. The idea that you have to fight for the right to not be a theist runs to hyperbole.

In some lives, escaping the stifling culture of religion means leaving a lot more than "god" behind. It makes sense to me that people who make decisions of this magnitude would not want to have it trivialized by a sophisticated theologian who asks about the ontology of metaphors. Getting out of catechism and into one's personal narrative is a big personal deal even if the questions and issues are not as ultimate as they seem at the time. I think the issue of theism is overblown. Those trying to prove the existence of God and those selling the experience of God are, at least, boring. They can be very dangerous.

What I am concerned about is the criticism of religion from those who believe they are outside it. The problem of religion is that it is extremely subversive and hard to eliminate. The creation and establishment of religions is more about controlling the inevitable than about inventing some superstitious shadow show. When people think they are working in secular realism, I get worried about their oblivion. When did "reality" lose its mystery and seductions to meet us in secular nakedness? Did Science dispel the vapors and mists and reveal Reality Itself to our naked eyes? I don't think so.

Doubt is an essential ingredient in healthy faith. Radical questioning never ends in healthy human development. But it also does not run the show. The defense of God by religionists is a lost cause; but so is the attack on God and religion by those who think that abolishing both or either settles the issues. Religion comes back in false powers and realities. Economic Realism parades its secular bottom line as if it were the Measure of All of Life. Petro Imperial Politics justify wars where "money trumps peace" in the infamous words of Dubya. Mars and Mammon have made an amazing comeback in "Christian America." Who's Your Daddy? turns out to be a political taunt.

What power is real? Where is the authenticity in any of these claims to our devotion and service? If you have issues with religion, I advise you to understand religion far better than you will if the only issue is atheism. It is not the question that matters, and deciding that theism is either antiquated or ridiculous is far from the end of the process you will be going through as a human being.

When we remark that a number of people who make strong atheist arguments have all the characteristics of the religious, we are not insulting them. We are pointing out that religion is harder to abolish or avoid than they think. My concern is that thinking the problem of religion is solved lets down the defenses. Established religions operated to control and normalize the religious wildfires that erupt otherwise. Having a common narrative and named deities kept the demons and other spirits from running amok. When we think that money trumps peace and war is the wise political investment, some power other than Love and Truth is running our show. How did that happen?

The point of the Ineffable One, the Mysterious Yahweh, was that there was no other god. Keeping the finite finite matters.

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LOL, as strange as it sounds, I am ready to let the whole atheism=religion thing drop (unless it comes up in court for some reason pushed by fundies).. From now on I am going to try and ignore this """distraction,""" except for internally questioning the intellectuial honesty (or sanity) of the person trying to equate atheism with religion..

Quote D_NATURED:
I support positive atheism, humanism, freethought, and education as the tools to fight for atheists rights.. We should not "try" to speak in terms that annoy believers, as many atheists do do.. Rather militant in the sense that we cant let thinsg slide..

You're right, the word "militant" gets misued a lot by people who want to equate our ire with their own violence. Militant atheists, militant feminists, etc. are just people who have begun to speak up for themselves against the established social norms. It is understandably a threat to the status quo, but we are NOT militant.

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bobbler
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Quote DRC:

It is one thing to have strong feelings and to be making a significant personal shift and another to be fixated on the point. The word "militant" has a connotation of ideological rigidity beyond passionate commitment. I think it reflects a less than confident or settled developmental process and the "militant" element is about being too defensive rather than certain of one's convictions. The idea that you have to fight for the right to not be a theist runs to hyperbole.[/quote[

Unless you live in Saudi Arabia. Then, it is a fight you will lose...with your head.

[quote]In some lives, escaping the stifling culture of religion means leaving a lot more than "god" behind. It makes sense to me that people who make decisions of this magnitude would not want to have it trivialized by a sophisticated theologian who asks about the ontology of metaphors. Getting out of catechism and into one's personal narrative is a big personal deal even if the questions and issues are not as ultimate as they seem at the time. I think the issue of theism is overblown. Those trying to prove the existence of God and those selling the experience of God are, at least, boring. They can be very dangerous.

I think the key is to determine whether the change is good for you. If rejecting a certain religious world view leaves one wanting for answers to the point that they feel insecure, they have made a mistake. People should do what works. Unfortunately, what works for one individual can be an excuse to treat other individuals like shit. Other than that, I have no real problem with most religions any more than I have a problem with a child having an invisible friend.

What I am concerned about is the criticism of religion from those who believe they are outside it. The problem of religion is that it is extremely subversive and hard to eliminate. The creation and establishment of religions is more about controlling the inevitable than about inventing some superstitious shadow show. When people think they are working in secular realism, I get worried about their oblivion. When did "reality" lose its mystery and seductions to meet us in secular nakedness? Did Science dispel the vapors and mists and reveal Reality Itself to our naked eyes? I don't think so.

I agree to a point. We don't know the full extent of our reality but to dismiss the empirical as the smoke and mirrors of a tricky diety is stupid. Nobody is outside religion, some just don't know what to call the religion they are.

Doubt is an essential ingredient in healthy faith. Radical questioning never ends in healthy human development. But it also does not run the show. The defense of God by religionists is a lost cause; but so is the attack on God and religion by those who think that abolishing both or either settles the issues. Religion comes back in false powers and realities. Economic Realism parades its secular bottom line as if it were the Measure of All of Life. Petro Imperial Politics justify wars where "money trumps peace" in the infamous words of Dubya. Mars and Mammon have made an amazing comeback in "Christian America." Who's Your Daddy? turns out to be a political taunt.

LOL. Dubya was a douche.

What power is real? Where is the authenticity in any of these claims to our devotion and service? If you have issues with religion, I advise you to understand religion far better than you will if the only issue is atheism. It is not the question that matters, and deciding that theism is either antiquated or ridiculous is far from the end of the process you will be going through as a human being.

When we remark that a number of people who make strong atheist arguments have all the characteristics of the religious, we are not insulting them. We are pointing out that religion is harder to abolish or avoid than they think. My concern is that thinking the problem of religion is solved lets down the defenses. Established religions operated to control and normalize the religious wildfires that erupt otherwise. Having a common narrative and named deities kept the demons and other spirits from running amok. When we think that money trumps peace and war is the wise political investment, some power other than Love and Truth is running our show. How did that happen?

Where is the profit margin in Love and Truth as non-abstract concepts? It's only when we can call war "love" and religion "truth" that we have any interest in those things. Mo' money, mo' money...

The point of the Ineffable One, the Mysterious Yahweh, was that there was no other god. Keeping the finite finite matters.

Do you feel that the mystery is more important than the answers? If so, why do the religious not embrace the phrase "I don't know" any more than they do?

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D_NATURED
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Oct. 20, 2010 8:47 pm

I'm glad to see other reactions to Thom's religious perspective. (See my other posts on the message board and members blog entitled Progressives and the Catholic Church). I agree with him 100% except in his gushing admiration for the Catholic Church. It is a bias that tests his objectivity and credibility. He aligns the institutional Church with the progressive cause when, except in isolated instances, the church is in fact anti-progressive. The Church has just been added to Amnesty Internationals list of human rights violators because of its persistent harboring of pedophiles among its clergy. http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1101902.htm

I don't have a problem with whatever Thom's religious affiliation is; that's his business. But I think he owes his audience an objective perspective, untainted by religious bias.

Does he read these posts? has he responded to his religious bias on the air?

maubry3's picture
maubry3
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May. 12, 2011 6:06 pm

Gushing admiration? You're kidding right.

If Thom could only extract any reference to religion whatsoever (except disdain), he would be perfect!

And I thought conservatives were the closed-minded ones.

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Laborisgood
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I'm a long time atheist. The "mystery of reality" is just that; a mystery; it can't be explained in any terms within our present human conceptual abilities. It's like the Buddhist conception of the meaning of life: it has no meaning, it just is. "Truth" is conveyed according to various conceptual schemes that we possess, most of which I think are designed to create a semblance of order in our brains. Biological schemes, like the eye, let us see color, even though "color" doesn't exist in nature except as light waves. The eye-brain tandem translates it for us in a way that allows us to categorize it and provide some kind of order. Other conceptual concepts, the ones easier to describe, are the cognitive schemes like religion, ideology, and culture. These constructs influence how we perceive the universe, that is, what kind of order we lay over it. Cognitive schemes are learned, and most frequently and powerfully communicated via culture and family. These are human designed constructs, and all arbitrary really. But we seem to need to provide some sense order, some template, for our timid psyches. So we create religions and embrace ideologies to hang on to. It's all subjective and relative in this post-modern age.

Furthermore, not only do we not have the conceptual abilities do define reality or "truth," but we lack the linguistic ability to represent what we may conceive or perceive. Language is another human-made construct that allows us to attempt to create order out of the chaos. All languages are equal in performing this function. But language often fails reality. "Words fail," and so we are left with a single word as default: ineffable.

maubry3's picture
maubry3
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May. 12, 2011 6:06 pm

I love this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T69TOuqaqXI

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Garrett78
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Sep. 3, 2010 9:20 am

Have any of you considered religion and religiously affiliated philosophy from the perspective of mental illness? Centuries ago, a person who would have hallucinations didn't check into the doctor's office. They checked into the exorcist's office! A person with delusions caused by brain problems was viewed as either posessed by demons or was "mad." If a person had hallucinations of people talking to them, they thought they had a conversation with an angel or a demon. The concept of "madness" was one step away from thinking that mental problems were caused by demons. Take a modern person with a mental illness and put them in a church or similar place 1,000 or 2,000 years ago, and you've got your self an instant exorcism! People do have mental problems that cause them to see things, hear things, or think things that not too long ago in human history would have sentenced them to a life (or death) as a demoniac, witch, or something!

micahjr34
Joined:
Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm
Quote micahjr34:

Have any of you considered religion and religiously affiliated philosophy from the perspective of mental illness? Centuries ago, a person who would have hallucinations didn't check into the doctor's office. They checked into the exorcist's office! A person with delusions caused by brain problems was viewed as either posessed by demons or was "mad." If a person had hallucinations of people talking to them, they thought they had a conversation with an angel or a demon. The concept of "madness" was one step away from thinking that mental problems were caused by demons. Take a modern person with a mental illness and put them in a church or similar place 1,000 or 2,000 years ago, and you've got your self an instant exorcism! People do have mental problems that cause them to see things, hear things, or think things that not too long ago in human history would have sentenced them to a life (or death) as a demoniac, witch, or something!

And sometimes they were also considered prophets or blessed with third sight.

ah2
Joined:
Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm

That is very true, ah2! However, if people are following a religious leader that seems to have conversations with spirits or a God, with a strong message, but in truth the conversations were caused by a problem deep within that person's brain, does that message gain strength, lose strength, or stay the same in strength?

micahjr34
Joined:
Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm

To clarify even more, does the universe care if one of its messengers receives it's messages through insanity? Or does the truth of the message turn that person's insanity into sanity?

micahjr34
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Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm

Isn't it possible that these messages are simply generated by humans, rather than from an external source? Take Jesus for example. It's been pointed out that the things he said aren't true because he said them, but he said them because they were already true. No divine intervention, just a guy pointing out the obvious.

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maubry3
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May. 12, 2011 6:06 pm

What I was trying to communicate is that the particular message is generated inside the person, inside their brain through a chemical imbalanced nuero-stimulation, where the person thinks that it is true, but it is caused by a mal-functioning brain. Under such circumstances, can a spritual message be of a lesser value if created by someone who is not thinking soberly or rationally while compoising it?

micahjr34
Joined:
Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm

Laborisgood: I think you should actually listen to his show some time. Thom: "I get a real kick out of the church." "The Church is one of the world's great religions...stands up against poverty ...and promotes peace." That's not admiration?

maubry3's picture
maubry3
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May. 12, 2011 6:06 pm

And what i was trying to say is that if the message is the product of the human mind, sane or crazy, then how is it spiritual?

maubry3's picture
maubry3
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May. 12, 2011 6:06 pm

That it contains advice that claims spiritual authority, but in reality was created by chemical imbalance.

Speaking with respect, what if Abraham, Jesus, and Muhhamed (sorry if I mis-spell the name) were technically insane when they came up with their teachings due to chemical imbalance in the brain?

***** - I am asking this for the sake of discussion. I am not saying that every religious leader is insane.

micahjr34
Joined:
Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm

I guess if they were insane when they came up with their teachings, it would change history. It's an interesting theory, and would be quite a coincidence. Are you playing devil's advocate here and proposing this as a merely academic question? Are you suggesting their claims to spiritual authority are false? How would you answer your question?

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maubry3
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May. 12, 2011 6:06 pm

To answer your response, I am playing devil's advocate and making this discussion for academic reasons. However, in this subject, the "Devil" (NOT me...) has quite an interesting case for the potential invalidation of religion. If it can be determined by the "Devil," a religious person's mental health should play a role in judging the validity of their ideas, especially if that person requires a divine origin for their authority.

micahjr34
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Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm

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