Questionable Motives

August 16, 2010

Catholic evidence of an alternative universe?

Yup. Michael Voris of The Vortex shows us clear evidence how his faith allows him to live in alternative universe while using the rights and freedoms found in this universe within his country’s secular society to advocate that all of us should join him there.

(Tip to Pharyngula)

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29 Comments »

  1. 1. This guy is scary.
    2. At the same time, I have trouble taking him seriously, as he is so clearly divorced from reality that a catatonic on a mental ward is probably more in touch with reality than he is.
    3. You do understand that not all Catholics are like this, don’t you? In fact, the majority of Catholics aren’t, or at least, the majority in the United States aren’t. Most just sort of nod in the general direction of the Pope and then do whatever pleases them.

    Comment by Diana A. — August 16, 2010 @ 11:11 am | Reply

  2. 1. Agreed
    2. Hence the title of my post.
    3. What is worrisome is that most catholics have a shorter intellectual journey to get where he is than non catholics because everything he suggests is in line with rc dogma taken to their logical conclusion (but why should anyone vote with even a benign theological dictator?) and support the philosophies that back up the Holy See’s policies. That is a cause for concern… for everybody.

    Comment by tildeb — August 16, 2010 @ 12:28 pm | Reply

    • I can see your point regarding Roman Catholics having a shorter intellectual journey to get to where he is than do Non-Catholics, but I think that your concern shows a misunderstanding of how religious thought impacts people on the individual level. Religion isn’t a purely intellectual experience (as I’m sure you’d agree :-)!) The point of religion (to my way of thinking) isn’t to provide intellectual explanations of reality but emotional fulfillment. It is 100% possible for a person to attend the religious service of his/her choice, experience the emotional fulfillment which comes from that experience, and then cheerfully go about his/her day without buying into the notion that the religious dogma is the sole truth (or even a truth) about reality. In fact, most of the religiously motivated people I know personally do that all the time.

      Comment by Diana A. — August 16, 2010 @ 1:38 pm | Reply

      • This view is understandable. I have a particular passion for church architecture, am enamored by the remarkable acoustics, and have been to many throughout Europe. I also understand and appreciate the draw of tradition and ceremony and beauty of sight and sound and the wonderful feeling of communion one can have with the institution that organizes and maintains this link as well as value the people who populate it. I get it.

        But.

        This is very much a westernized and mostly benign version you have of the role of religion. But the same religion causes havoc elsewhere. Its influence can be attributed to gross human rights violations, embedded misogynistic practices, aiding and abetting the raping of children by its agents, spreading misinformation and lies about disease, all the while centering its organizational power to protect itself from scandal while excommunicating doctors and nurses who dare act in the best interests of their patients. This, too, is as much part and parcel of the religion that helps you feel good. But is the source of your feelings and comfort also worth the cost in real suffering in other people’s lives?

        Comment by tildeb — August 16, 2010 @ 7:27 pm

      • “But is the source of your feelings and comfort also worth the cost in real suffering in other people’s lives?”

        No, it is not. And, in fact, I believe those of us who are Christians need to stand up to and fight this element within our church.

        Comment by Diana A. — August 16, 2010 @ 11:07 pm

  3. “It is 100% possible for a person to attend the religious service of his/her choice, experience the emotional fulfillment which comes from that experience, and then cheerfully go about his/her day without buying into the notion that the religious dogma is the sole truth (or even a truth) about reality. In fact, most of the religiously motivated people I know personally do that all the time.”

    And that is precisely the problem – the religious leaders use their congregation to demonstrate that people agree with their mis-truths, and use this influence to doctor the rules of society. The biggest problem with religion is that those who follow it are naive and think that their faith in benign – they do not associate their community church with doing social mis-justice on a national and global scale…

    i.e. they do not think!

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 16, 2010 @ 2:45 pm | Reply

    • Some religious leaders may do that and I do believe as a Christian that those of us who are in disagreement with these religious leaders need to speak up–and, in fact, more and more of us are doing so. Not all religious leaders seek a theocracy. The great majority are rightly appalled by such a notion. Keep in mind that when one religious viewpoint dictates public policy, this doesn’t just hurt nonreligious people. The majority of the victims of the Spanish Inquisition were Jews (to my knowledge–I could be wrong) and heretical Catholics (people who considered themselves Catholic but who disagreed with the policies of the Catholics in charge.) The Puritans were oppressed in Europe, which is why they left–then they turned around and oppressed non-Puritans–including the Quakers. So yes, most religious people are intelligent enough to be strongly opposed to a theocracy.

      At the same, I question the attitude among some atheists (please note that I do not paint all atheists with the same brush here–will you do me and mine the same courtesy of not painting us with the same brush with which one might paint Fred Phelps and friends?)that anybody with a religious belief is a danger to society. Given that the majority of people on the planet both now and in the past have had some sort of religious belief, it seems absurd to me to imply that we’re all a danger to society.

      Comment by Diana A. — August 16, 2010 @ 3:10 pm | Reply

      • (Take cover, Diana!)

        Comment by tildeb — August 16, 2010 @ 3:13 pm

      • There is often a disconnect between believers and non believers over this role of religion in public policy and what it is were talking about. Too soon the issue quickly devolves into name-calling on both sides because believers begin to substitute themselves for the religious beliefs under criticism and non believers begin to substitute themselves as the voice of reason. I think there is room for a clear separation here between a believer and what it is she believes, just as there is a clear separation between a non believer and the reasons put forth for that non belief. But it is difficult to practice keeping this separation in mind.

        When one lives as a non believer, one sees religion and its affects everywhere. It is obvious to the non believer that religion has a dominant place in our society. But it is difficult to argue with a building, to criticize the slogan on money and expect a response, to raise an issue with oaths of offices that needlessly refer to some supernatural agency for wisdom, to rant at a tax form that allows exemptions and deductions for financially aiding some superstitious affiliation. We must turn, instead, only to a representative of religious belief if we want our concerns heard. And non believers do have concerns… major ones and very well grounded I think about the scope and power and influence of religious belief inserted and often pushed into public policies.

        So when a non believer has a particularly noxious example of religious affect in the public domain it is with a great deal of frustration that the local representative of believers sidesteps the specific example and insists that it’s those religious people over there, that most religious people are not like those believers, that most believers share the same concerns as non believers and are, in all likelihood allies with the non believer in separating public policy from religious influence. All the while, the believer almost always fails utterly to understand and appreciate why the non believer targets not the specific issue at hand but the very notion of religious belief in the public domain. Because the non believer does not find any stand-alone merit to justify religious insertion and interference as it crops up over and over in the public domain, to any believer the question is directed: can you justify why any religion is granted a place to make its views known no matter what the public issue may be? The side-step on the specific example is a very common maneuver, but does not address the underlying concern nor offer any aid or comfort to it.

        The argument non believers attempt to make is that it properly belongs to believers to stop this intrusion of their religious beliefs in general into the public domain. Failure to do so creates more problems than it solves, and the side-step issue is particularly annoying in this regard because what little criticism is usually offered by believers to other believers is often specific to some minor point (like tone or over-generalizations) rather than supportive of the broader issue of the need for no religious role in the public domain. In this sense, from the non believer’s point of view, the believer who supports any religious notions to be influential in the public domain is part of the problem.

        Comment by tildeb — August 16, 2010 @ 7:11 pm

      • Thanks tildeb!

        What you say makes sense and I agree that it’s often difficult to separate people from their beliefs or lack thereof.

        “When one lives as a non believer, one sees religion and its affects everywhere. It is obvious to the non believer that religion has a dominant place in our society. But it is difficult to argue with a building, to criticize the slogan on money and expect a response, to raise an issue with oaths of offices that needlessly refer to some supernatural agency for wisdom, to rant at a tax form that allows exemptions and deductions for financially aiding some superstitious affiliation.”

        I can certainly see your point on this and I can understand and respect the accompanying frustration. I am Christian (probably one of the few who feel this way) who feels that in the name of the greater good, the slogan “In God We Trust” on the money should be removed. Perhaps reference to a deity should be left out of oaths of office as well. And I don’t believe (necessarily) that churches and other religious institutions should be tax exempt. Then again, I think the entire tax code is so messed up that we need to ball it up and start all over.

        “And non believers do have concerns… major ones and very well grounded I think about the scope and power and influence of religious belief inserted and often pushed into public policies.”

        And I think that nonbelievers are right to be concerned, as should be everyone who is in disagreement with the policies of the predominant religion.

        “The argument non believers attempt to make is that it properly belongs to believers to stop this intrusion of their religious beliefs in general into the public domain.” And I totally agree with you on this. Unfortunately, human beings are notoriously bad at self-policing–which is why we need members of “the loyal opposition,” such as yourself, to point out the ways in which we are being willfully dense and falling short of the mark as a result.

        “…the side-step issue is particularly annoying in this regard because what little criticism is usually offered by believers to other believers is often specific to some minor point (like tone or over-generalizations) rather than supportive of the broader issue of the need for no religious role in the public domain. In this sense, from the non believer’s point of view, the believer who supports any religious notions to be influential in the public domain is part of the problem.”

        Yes, I totally agree with you on this as well. The notion that religion should have no role in the public domain is a difficult one for a lot of us Christians to swallow since ours has been the dominant religion for so long and the power has gone to our heads. Part of the reason why some of us are so reluctant to cede this power is because we know that we’re losing it and we’re human enough to hate that. This, however, is not an excuse.

        Comment by Diana A. — August 16, 2010 @ 10:56 pm

  4. This debate is more about moral integrity than anything. Diana, I am sure you are a very nice person, and you intend to be as humanly nice to people as you can be, but allow me to be candid here:

    To say that you understand to the point where you agree with non-believers, and that you cannot argue with their moral reasoning for the removal of religion from social control is one thing; to state that you believe this, but you believe that religion may have some tiny basis in fact, enough faith to vote with your feet and proclaim publically what you believe, is a self-deception, that requires the distortion of reality beyond that which I can trust; no matter how tame, well mannered, clearly spoken, well educated, motherly, loving, compassionate, charitable, or ‘clean living’.

    Saying that you feel emotionally fulfilled by religion is an utterly selfish demonstration of mental masturbation, and it is probably the reason why you allow the delusion to persist. It is like saying “I don’t really like those Nazi people because they gassed the Jews, but I will join their party and be social with them, because they are OK to get on with, and it makes *ME* feel good, anyhow not everything they do is bad – so it is ok, justify, justify, subdue guilt etc.”

    It is the total opposite of what any decent human being should be doing!

    The religions of the world took what was yours “i.e. your human morals – the ones that evolved to keep you alive” and re-branded them as theirs, and then they used the morals which they stole from you, to judge you (if you notice they were careful not to judge themselves by them).

    They did this by making you feel guiltier about breaking their moral code, than you do about breaking your own moral code. This was embedded into your conscious by the religious people using fear (an evolved emotion) to establish a crowd of fearful people to congregate thereby promoting a group feeling of security (another evolved emotion). This is the basis of the whole Hail Mary and not denouncing Christ thing – guilt, fear and security (I like to think of it as the real holy trinity!).

    This means that the simple act of going to church to worship, is a vote with your feet; not only for the religious leaders, but also for those who gather around you, those who need see where others physically stand before they state (or rather copy) their belief. Without knowing it you support the non-thinking, the mob (those who feel secure only in groups) that gives the church its power to keep spreading its deceit.

    To provide this marginal support to the mob, ‘knowing!’ that the whole thing is a pack of lies and being too afraid to be alone is just morally shallow. I would rather standalone than subdue my guilty conscience and know that above all else I was true to myself and my own sense of right and wrong. This is because I know that my actions speak louder than their [the religious leaders] words.

    Group thinking is a dangerous thing Diana.

    It is exactly the same mentality that allowed the German people to come to terms with the extermination of the Jews, and allowed otherwise decent upstanding citizens to turn a blind eye to mass murder. It is exactly the same mentality that allows otherwise lawful human beings to lie to children about evolution, to the point where the state has to intervene. Although the outcomes of these two examples are different in consequences to individual suffering – the delusion is still the same!

    I hate to break it to you, but no matter how nice a person you think you are, your wilful affiliation with religion gives away the fact that you cannot see the faults in your own moral reasoning – i.e. you do not celebrate the ignorance of the religious but neither do you show it the contempt it actually deserves, because you are not brave enough to do so.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 17, 2010 @ 4:23 pm | Reply

    • “It is like saying ‘I don’t really like those Nazi people because they gassed the Jews, but I will join their party and be social with them, because they are OK to get on with, and it makes *ME* feel good, anyhow not everything they do is bad – so it is ok, justify, justify, subdue guilt etc.'”

      Not surprisingly, I disagree with your analogy.

      Being a Christian isn’t like being a Nazi during the time of the Holocaust, it’s like being a German during the time of the Holocaust. You may not see much difference–let me explain.

      The Germans who lived under Hitler had several options as to how they could respond to him–they could join the Nazi party and work enthusiastically for its goals, they could join the Nazi party and just do the minimum to get by, they could join the Nazi party but then work behind the back of the Nazi party and within the Nazi party to bring about its ultimate defeat, they could out-and-out rebel against the Nazi party, they could vote with their feet and leave Germany (probably in the dead of night with nothing but the clothes on their backs and their hearts in their mouths–but it was an option)…in short, one had many options in Nazi Germany, some of which were safer than others, some of which showed more approval toward what Nazi Germany stood for than others.

      I am a Christian. I am a follower of Jesus of Nazareth. As a follower of Jesus, I have several options as to how I can respond to the Nazi party within my religion. I can join enthusiastically with them–but I don’t. They in fact make me sick. I can join them but just do what is necessary to get by–but I don’t, because I’m just not that interested in fitting in with them and unlike with Nazi Germany, one can still refuse to be a fundamentalist Christian without risking one’s life. I could join the Nazi wing of Christianity but work within it to subvert it–I don’t have that kind of self-discipline and besides, these particular Nazis are pretty good at spotting the impostors within their ranks and sending them on their way. I could do what I am doing which is to refuse to join the Nazi wing of Christianity at all, while still staying within the Germany of Christianity and actively fighting the Nazis. Or, I could do what you suggest which is to vote with my feet and leave the Germany of Christianity. In fact, I did do that at one point, for 10-15 years. But then I went back because I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a passel of Nazis define what it means to be a German. Germany existed long before the Nazis did. Christianity existed long before the fundamentalist wing of it did (strange but true) and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let the fundamentalists define Christianity.

      Comment by Diana A. — August 17, 2010 @ 7:51 pm | Reply

      • Very nicely expressed, Diana.

        And I, for one, very much appreciate your focused criticisms against those who overstep that personal sense of christianity. Thank you.

        Comment by tildeb — August 17, 2010 @ 9:11 pm

  5. “I am a Christian. I am a follower of Jesus of Nazareth.”

    You are missing the point somewhat – Jesus of Nazareth is an invention by the Christian Nazi’s who defined the faith – at the time when Jesus existed people got stoned for denying the existence of gods – the religion you worship today is product of many years of bloodletting and irrational persecution, the fact that this does not happen in such quantities today should not lessen your guilt.

    I think what you are describing is a kind of Protestantism, where you focus on what Jesus said, as a guide for your moral compass, but disagree with how the main stream church implements its religious practices. This is another elaborate product of your self-inflicted delusion.

    As a non-believer, I see no difference the factions of Christianity, because they are all based on the same superstitious non-sense. To not question the basis of your beliefs is the deception, regardless of how malignant or benign the outcomes of the beliefs are. Bringing up generations of children to value superstition over real verifiable evidence is just immoral.

    Some of what this fictional character (Jesus) said was good wholesome wisdom, the type of wisdom that is earthly, natural and real – the type that any intelligent moral and mortal has, and I agree holding these morals up in praise is good, but Christianity does not own these morals, it did not invent them. Furthermore, some of Jesus’s wisdom was ridiculously stupid – the type that religious robots frequently spout out; this is normally the wisdom that is associated and attributed to god, and aimed at those that do not follow Jesus’s interpretation of god.

    By being protestant you are cherry picking what you like from the words in the Christian bible – a bible, that was not written by witnesses, and was fabricated by the early Catholic church decades after the life of an individual, who probably never existed other than in the figment of the imagination of St. Paul. You may as well worship Harry Potter, or Lord of the Rings.

    If you need to feel spiritual about life, then fine, worship the sun and stars, the earth and moon at least it is real, but promoting false hope and broken promises is just dishonest.
    Ultimately Christianity (like all religions) is a cheap trick – it is opium for the masses and any amount of support only strengthens this cult.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 18, 2010 @ 2:15 pm | Reply

  6. “…at the time when Jesus existed people got stoned for denying the existence of gods…”–not true. At the time Jesus existed, people got crucified for not regarding Caesar as Lord–do get your stories straight.

    “To not question the basis of your beliefs is the deception, regardless of how malignant or benign the outcomes of the beliefs are.” How do you know I haven’t questioned my beliefs? Why don’t you try questioning your own? Or do you think you are a god and thus perfect? Trust me, sweetie, you’re not.

    “By being protestant you are cherry picking what you like from the words in the Christian bible – a bible, that was not written by witnesses, and was fabricated by the early Catholic church decades after the life of an individual, who probably never existed other than in the figment of the imagination of St. Paul.”–The bible was formulated over several hundred years. Much of what is in the Bible was handed down through oral tradition. And yes, it was edited and re-edited and edited after that–which is why I don’t worship the Bible. Doesn’t mean that I can’t gain inspiration from it.

    “If you need to feel spiritual about life, then fine, worship the sun and stars, the earth and moon at least it is real,…” I am grateful that you are willing to permit me the privilege of worship at all and I bow humbly in gratitude to your generosity. Never-the-less, I worship what/whom I worship–not the sun, stars, earth and moon but the Creator/Lifeforce of the sun, stars, earth, and moon–and everything else. BTW–one does not have to take literally the stories in Genesis (there are actually two creation stories there–just so you know) to gain inspiration from them or to belief that God is the ultimate creator–regardless of his/her methods.

    “…the religion you worship today is product of many years of bloodletting and irrational persecution, the fact that this does not happen in such quantities today should not lessen your guilt….” BTW: I don’t worship Christianity. I worship God. There’s a difference.

    Comment by Diana A. — August 18, 2010 @ 5:00 pm | Reply

  7. BTW: I don’t worship Christianity. I worship God. There’s a difference(Diana)

    The thing is though, your basis for God is Christianity, so its kind of hard to separate yourself from it when you say you worship God.

    Comment by Titfortat — August 18, 2010 @ 7:35 pm | Reply

  8. It is about being intellectually honest with yourself, let me show you:

    “At the time Jesus existed, people got crucified for not regarding Caesar as Lord–do get your stories straight.”

    – Not true! The Romans worshipped many different gods – here is a list of them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Roman_deities.

    As for getting the story straight, the Gospel Peter says that it was Herod and the Jews that Crucified Jesus, yet the gospels put it all down to Pontius Pilate John 19:19 (King James Version (19)): “And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS [Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum].”

    Crucifixion is one of many punishments that was used by the Roman legal system, it is likely to have been expensive in contrast to stoning, and requiring organisation and man power to cut and erect the cross, guard it, hold someone down and nail them to it. The bible has many references to the stoning of human individuals in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – but as someone who worships Jesus (and has their stories right…) you know that already; right?

    “Why don’t you try questioning your own? Or do you think you are a god and thus perfect? Trust me, sweetie, you’re not.”

    I never claimed to be perfect, or to have the answers to everything, or to be a god, so I am not sure what you are saying here. What I can tell you is that I think the chances of there being a sentient all knowing, all powerful being that created small pox as part of his divine plan is pretty low; and that if I am wrong, then I really hope I don’t meet him because he’s far from my idea of perfection and loving.

    I have questioned my own beliefs – this is why I am a non-believer, I have chosen not to believe in all gods including but not limited to: Egyptian gods, geek gods, pagan gods, Jesus and even Elvis!

    Ask yourself this – why is that you choose to believe in Jesus, but you do not believe in the Egyptian gods? The Egyptian gods have the equivalent of the bible written in stone (unchanged)? Why not believe that instead? In addition, have you ever stopped to think what religion you would likely to be if you were born in India or China? Out of all the gods that have been created in history – why Jesus? Is this because Jesus is the one true god, or is it more likely that Jesus is the name that you are most familiar with due to the social interaction that you have had through your life (i.e. the same reason you speak English)?

    “The bible was formulated over several hundred years. Much of what is in the Bible was handed down through oral tradition. And yes, it was edited and re-edited and edited after that–which is why I don’t worship the Bible. Doesn’t mean that I can’t gain inspiration from it.”

    Firstly, I never said anything about inspiration; but, sure – I can see that, after all I get inspiration from sci-fi books, films and music. However, inspiration is not evidence on its own that worship is a morally right thing to do. Plenty of people have had rather evil inspirations from all religions.

    You state that you do not worship Christianity, and that you worship god, but ask yourself, where does the knowledge of the god you worship come ultimately come from, would it be the only source of this story? AKA the bible or do you have access to historical texts and manuscripts that can verify that the god you worship actually exists outside of the bible? If you do please tell me where they are so that I can read them for myself – what is the source of your conviction and the reason why you believe in Jesus?

    Like a lot of Christians you are good at stating what you believe and why you believe it in an emotional way that is associated with groups of people who gather, chant and meditate together; but you are not very good at REASONING why you believe your religious stories to be true.

    By the way – I have no problem with you worshipping what you want, I am just questioning why you choose to put so much mental and physical effort into chasing someone else’s fantasy, when there is a wealth of real knowledge out there that can be put towards useful and meaningful things – right here, right now on earth (and not as it is in heaven). It just seems like an enormous waste of time to me to worship something that probably doesn’t exist and has little or no value other than to massage your own desire for emotional fulfilment, which could be achieved by doing something useful and purposeful.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 19, 2010 @ 2:21 pm | Reply

    • “At the time Jesus existed, people got crucified for not regarding Caesar as Lord–do get your stories straight.”

      “- Not true! The Romans worshiped many different gods – here is a list of them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Roman_deities.”

      My remark was meant to be partially facetious. There actually is a certain amount to truth to it though–the Romans crucified those whom they considered to be a threat to their government. Part of the reason for attributing God-like status to Caesar was to silence those who would dare to question the Roman government. Of course, this didn’t work so well with the Jews, who believed “The Lord! The Lord our God is one!” In other words, there were no other Gods and Caesar himself was no exception to that rule. This made the Jewish People a thorn in the side of Rome until Rome finally decided it was through playing and destroyed Jerusalem.

      “Ask yourself this – why is that you choose to believe in Jesus, but you do not believe in the Egyptian gods? The Egyptian gods have the equivalent of the bible written in stone (unchanged)? Why not believe that instead? In addition, have you ever stopped to think what religion you would likely be if you were born in India or China? Out of all the gods that have been created in history – why Jesus? Is this because Jesus is the one true god, or is it more likely that Jesus is the name that you are most familiar with due to the social interaction that you have had through your life (i.e. the same reason you speak English)?”

      Short answer–because I want to. Yes, I’m well aware that if I’d been raised in a different time and a different place, I’d have different beliefs. So? Your assumption is that I have accepted the faith that was handed down to me without ever having explored anything else. Your assumption is in error. On the contrary, I challenge my faith all the time. Why do you think I’m over here on this blog? Were I not inclined to challenge my faith, I’d just dismiss all of you as a passel of unrepentant atheistic sinners destined to spend eternity in Hell. As it is, I don’t believe in Hell, so I can hardly do that.

      “However, inspiration is not evidence on its own that worship is a morally right thing to do.” You’re right. It’s not. However, worship is not something that I do because it is morally right or morally wrong. Worship (to my way of thinking) is an inevitability. The question is, who or what does one worship? One can choose what and why to worship or one can be unconscious in worship. Unconscious worship is more dangerous. One might not even realize that one is worshiping until one has followed the worshiped one right off a cliff. Better to know what and why one worships than to pretend that one does not worship at all.

      “…but you are not very good at REASONING why you believe your religious stories to be true.” True. Reasoning was never my strong point anyway. Moreover, I don’t necessarily feel compelled to prove that my beliefs are reasonable. As long as they work for me, who cares?

      “By the way – I have no problem with you worshiping what you want, I am just questioning why you choose to put so much mental and physical effort into chasing someone else’s fantasy, when there is a wealth of real knowledge out there that can be put towards useful and meaningful things – right here, right now on earth (and not as it is in heaven). It just seems like an enormous waste of time to me to worship something that probably doesn’t exist and has little or no value other than to massage your own desire for emotional fulfillment, which could be achieved by doing something useful and purposeful.”

      For me to adequately answer this question would require me telling you my whole life story. What you call someone else’s fantasy may have started out that way but time and life have made it into my own (and if you want to call it fantasy, that’s fine.) You regard my religious beliefs as useless and meaningless. That is your prerogative. For me, they are neither useless nor meaningless. When I attempt to model myself after my Master Jesus, I am driven to much higher standards for my own behavior than I would be on my own. The teachings of Jesus I take seriously. I have read them so many times that they are a part of my flesh and blood. When I am tempted to vengeance (often), tempted to spit in the face of humanity due to having been hurt not once but many times, these words rise up in my mind and my heart and stay my hand (and my spitting tongue!) I am not perfect, nor do I need to be (salvation theology–not that you’re interested), but I am called to put forth the effort, not because it will be successful but because this is what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The knowledge of which you speak that can be put toward useful and meaningful things is made holy (you just winced. I apologize) because it is dedicated to God and to neighbor and everyone is my neighbor–even if I’d rather they weren’t. Worship may seem to you to be a waste of time, and it may well be, but as I have said before, I consider it to be an inevitability.

      Comment by Diana A. — August 19, 2010 @ 3:49 pm | Reply

  9. “When I attempt to model myself after my Master Jesus, I am driven to much higher standards for my own behavior than I would be on my own.”

    Only because you cherry pick the good bits – if you read the Gnostic gospels, you would see a different side to your ‘master’ – in fact you don’t have to look that far, Jesus is gets pretty angry quite a few times even in the heavily edited version of the bible.

    “Short answer–because I want to. Yes, I’m well aware that if I’d been raised in a different time and a different place, I’d have different beliefs. So?”

    The ‘so’ is that your religion is not the only religion, so which religion is the right religion? This is very important since many of the world’s remaining religions claim that they worship the one true god, and that if you do not worship that particular religion’s god then this is a sin and you will be punished.

    “When I attempt to model myself after my Master Jesus, I am driven to much higher standards for my own behavior than I would be on my own.”

    This is an interesting notion, since you may be worshiping the wrong god, and if that is the case the true god might be upset and may punish you for worshiping the wrong god. Perhaps it is wise not to risk that, and worship a generic god called ‘nature’ instead – which will not care what you call it, as names and human language are meaningless to it? This seems to be a far more moral thing to do.

    The below is not my words (see: http://www.godisimaginary.com) – there seemed little sense in me making the argument, when it has been done before.
    *************************
    “Think about all the problems that Jesus could have solved. At the very least, Jesus could have transcribed passages into the Bible that would have ended sexism, racism and slavery forever.

    As the simplest example, think of all of the suffering that slavery has caused. Millions upon millions of people have suffered through the bondage and the remarkable brutality of slavery because Jesus and his Bible fully support it. If Jesus had simply made a clear statement — “Slavery is forbidden, free all the slaves” — he could have prevented all of that suffering. Yet Jesus did nothing of the sort. Instead, Jesus endorsed slavery.

    The argument could be made that Jesus did try to solve poverty when he said that you should sell everything you own and give it to the poor. However, in saying this, Jesus showed a complete misunderstanding of human nature. Do you know of anyone who has sold all their possessions and given the money to the poor? As a result, half the people on planet earth today live in abject poverty, supporting themselves on less than $3 per day.”
    *************************
    So this Jesus guy – really a good person that you want to base your morals on? Or are you just a nice person anyway, and if you mix with the right people and have the right amount of emotional support it will bring it out in you anyway?

    I think the problem with many religious people is that they are trapped in the religious community, they have invested so much of their life in the religion that they cannot announce they do not believe, and instead become more moderate. They slowly realise that if they cut out religion all together they will be cutting out their social life and the physiological crutch that the religion has become (i.e. they will have to make new friends). It is an addiction – so the question is this: is it a harmful addiction if the addicts know they are addicted to it and believe that it is doing them some good?

    The answer is yes – because it still gives the congregation moral support via the presence of church numbers, and casting of census results. These mould national and international policy, turning into laws and social behaviour that persecute homosexuals, non-believers, women and children.

    A good book to read is the missionary position by Christopher Hitchens, he covers some interesting stuff about this very topic with regard to Mother Teresa. One of the examples he gives is a running of hospitals by the religious who take in millions of dollars, but still do not provide hygiene and drugs to the people they supposed to be helping, even though they have millions; yet the Mother has some of the best medical treatment money could buy – all paid for by worshipers, who in part are lead to believe that they are doing the right thing, because they belong to a peer group of other believers. (I think I would rather be lonely, have no friends than be associated with such hypocrisy).

    So actually, I don’t think it improves your behaviour at all, I think it makes it worse – you may not directly harm the people that your religion touches, but you certainly contribute to the harm that it your religion does by proxy.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 20, 2010 @ 3:49 pm | Reply

    • “The ‘so’ is that your religion is not the only religion, so which religion is the right religion? This is very important since many of the world’s remaining religions claim that they worship the one true god, and that if you do not worship that particular religion’s god then this is a sin and you will be punished.”

      ‘When I attempt to model myself after my Master Jesus, I am driven to much higher standards for my own behavior than I would be on my own.’

      This is an interesting notion, since you may be worshiping the wrong god, and if that is the case the true god might be upset and may punish you for worshiping the wrong god. Perhaps it is wise not to risk that, and worship a generic god called ‘nature’ instead – which will not care what you call it, as names and human language are meaningless to it? This seems to be a far more moral thing to do.

      Boy, for a nonbeliever, you sure sound like a believer. “You’d better make sure you’re worshiping the right God, or else you might get punished!” Please! Bottom line: God, if there is such a thing (and you’re the one who doesn’t believe in him), knows what I think and feel about him and either approves or disapproves–but God’s approval or disapproval does not change what I think or feel, any more than yours does.

      As for the rest of what you’ve said: you show such a profound misunderstanding of the Bible (its origins and its purpose)and of religion and religious community and how they relate, that I don’t even know where to begin in terms of addressing those misunderstandings.

      Jesus didn’t write the Bible–any of it. Much of the Bible existed before he was born in the earthly sense. And all the books in the New Testament were written after his earthly death. And what makes you think that anyone would be more likely to obey the verses you think should have been added in there than they are any of the other verses that are already there?

      As for my being so committed to my individual religious community and the people who are a part of it that I’d rather lie about what I believe and stay than tell the truth and get kicked out–my particular religious community is United Methodist and located in Southern California–which means they’re liberal out the wazoo. Nobody at that church expects blind allegiance to a literal interpretation of the Bible. Even if they did, I know where the door is and enough to not let it hit me on the backside on the way out.

      Also, there are plenty of people who buy into Christianity who never step foot inside a church. I didn’t for years. Doesn’t mean they don’t believe.

      Comment by Diana A. — August 20, 2010 @ 4:54 pm | Reply

  10. “Boy, for a nonbeliever, you sure sound like a believer.”

    I believe in ‘belief’ – that is that other people believe things, this is not the same as believing that what they believe is true.

    As for personal belief, I believe in nature, because I am part of nature – so in that sense, yes you could call it spiritual. The difference here is that I don’t think nature knows, or is sentient (other than the sentience that resides with its own creations – i.e. us and other sentient beings – i.e. animals).

    Nor do I believe that nature judges me (again its creations might – i.e. you and others) – and praying to nature certainly doesn’t change any outcome in my life – unless of course I am communicating with another sentient creation of nature (i.e. a person or an animal) that is in a position to change something in my real mortal life.

    In addition, nature is not hidden, I can observe it, touch it, smell it, hear it and taste it and it will provide subsistence for me to survive but only if I know how to use it to do so through reason and rational thought. Finally, I don’t think we (as humans) are any more special than any other of nature’s creations – we are animals nothing more nothing less.

    “You’d better make sure you’re worshiping the right God, or else you might get punished!” Please!”

    This isn’t my belief, this is the Christian belief, the belief that you claim you subscribe to. Such an idea to me is utterly childish and ridiculous.

    “God, if there is such a thing (and you’re the one who doesn’t believe in him), knows what I think and feel about him and either approves or disapproves–but God’s approval or disapproval does not change what I think or feel, any more than yours does.”

    Except that the Christian church claims that if you do not accept Jesus into your heart that you will be punished, so whilst I accept that god does not directly let you know what to think or feel or how he feels (if he did it would be more believable and we wouldn’t having this debate) – you still believe that you will be judged by him, if you do not then you are ignoring a very central message of the Christian text – which seems at odds with the religion that you claim to be a part of. Actually an awful lot of the bible stories centre around allegiance to the god and only that god. The OT describes god as vengeful, jealous, spiteful and cruel being – the language used is very direct. The NT softens this message somewhat by delivering gods message via Jesus and his ‘hippy – flower power’ followers, but it is still the same core message – believe in me or be sorry for eternity.

    “As for the rest of what you’ve said: you show such a profound misunderstanding of the Bible (its origins and its purpose)and of religion and religious community and how they relate, that I don’t even know where to begin in terms of addressing those misunderstandings.”

    Please enlighten me, because from where I am standing, you seem to know very little about your religion and its origins, what it means, and how it was created. You can start by explaining to me how you can be sure that what is written in the bible is what Jesus actually said? Since we cannot believe what was written in the newspapers yesterday – your explanation should be interesting.

    Your view on your religion is just as confused as every other Christian I have engaged with – albeit, it is slightly different in that you accept that your religion might be a load of bullshit and publically admit it.

    “Jesus didn’t write the Bible–any of it. Much of the Bible existed before he was born in the earthly sense. And all the books in the New Testament were written after his earthly death. And what makes you think that anyone would be more likely to obey the verses you think should have been added in there than they are any of the other verses that are already there?”

    I never said he did, and this is precisely my point – you are not worshiping god’s word you are worshiping man’s word – the bible may as well be Lord Of The Rings for all it is worth. I suggest you read up on the creation of the bible you can start with the apostil Paul, whose words were written 4 decades after the so called life of Jesus… who’s going to remember you and what you said 40 years after your death? Incidentally, Paul never put Jesus on earth…. All that cods wallop came later – so Paul is the earliest source that we know of, the rest is artistic licence.

    “Nobody at that church expects blind allegiance to a literal interpretation of the Bible.”

    I would love to see you test that – go in there and say that Jesus was a fraud and never existed, and see what reaction you get, or when someone says ‘god spoke to me’ enquire how, and then start accusing them of fabricating their story to gain attention?

    Please understand that I understand there is a difference between taking the bible literally and just having a general belief in that some of it may be true. My argument is that it is a story and has no more validity than any other story for example like the story of Robin Hood. The difference is that people who believe in Robin Hood don’t generally use it as a motivation to stone people to death and change the law – Christianity is used for this purpose, and whether you agree that it shouldn’t be or not does not distract from the fact that it is. In other words the Christian’s you describe are innocent fools, they have been duped by the faith which is run by the corrupt, and in many cases unknowingly support the corrupt – this is made possible through having blind faith in a fairy tale that the corrupt peddle as the truth. As I said non-belief is about moral integrity, and intellectual honesty, you start by applying this principle to yourself.

    “Also, there are plenty of people who buy into Christianity who never step foot inside a church. I didn’t for years. Doesn’t mean they don’t believe.”

    This proves nothing, it does not prove that Christianity is true, nor does it falsify what I have said, people generally communicate with people who they have something in common with, and build a life around that. If for example I joined the Nazi party – most if not all of my close friends and family would disown me (which is understandable considering the facts of the Nazi party) – if I supported the Nazi party the but never ‘stepped in their church’ I would still get the same reaction from my friends and family and rightly so.

    Christianity can provide the same level of isolation for non-believers – in the normal social setting non-believers and religious believers don’t mix and debate violently over subjects related to abortion, treatment of women and homosexuals, origins of creation etc.

    The issue that you are side stepping is the fact that you cherry pick the parts of your religion that fit your own moral standard – and indeed this is exactly what homophobic Christians do, and Christians who support pro-life to the point of murder. They pick the points of the bible that they believe support their unique view on a particular subject. You are doing exactly the same thing, the difference here is that you are using the bible to do what you think is good, which happens to align with what is regarded as good by most civil people. But the so called pro-life people think they are doing good as well, and their peers agree with them and support them in their terrorist activities to a lesser or greater fundamental extremities. You are no different.

    Therefore, I can safely say that you are good person anyway, a little misguided perhaps, but never the less you know the difference between right and wrong – you don’t need the bible to teach you that any more than I do. However, I will caveat this by saying that what you fail to see is the wider picture of how your support of the religion fuels other people’s interpretation of the same religion – some of them who will not use the bible to justify pacifism but vengeance.

    “Also, there are plenty of people who buy into Christianity who never step foot inside a church. I didn’t for years. Doesn’t mean they don’t believe.”

    Ironically, I do step into churches a lot – living in the UK I have access to some of the most fascinating historical structures available. I go to read and learn the history of the building, and to associate symbolism with social change and influence. Besides the churches I visit are amazing structures, built using reason (science); the builders didn’t pray that St. Pauls Cathedral would stand up – they worked it out mathematically and by designing models and knocking them down. The folly in their ways was that they were made to believe that the intelligence and wisdom they were given was given to them by the Christian god the church was built for – it wasn’t it was just pure human ’evolved’ ingenuity. The only thing related to god that was responsible for the building of the church was the belief in a god, a belief that convinced people that a god would be pleased if a temple was built for him – odd that such ingenuity can be linked to such primitive irrational reasoning, don’t you think? Why not build a hospital, school or homes to help people instead?

    “As for my being so committed to my individual religious community and the people who are a part of it that I’d rather lie about what I believe and stay than tell the truth and get kicked out–my particular religious community is United Methodist and located in Southern California…”

    Methodism is relatively new in the Christian faith, with little or no evidence to support it – so the question is why do you care if you get kicked out by a load of loonies who believe in voodoo?

    The Bahá’í Faith is even newer, and just goes to show how easy it is to create a faith based on nothing and interpretation and dupe people into believing in it – personally I treat them all the same level of contempt – if people cannot discuss the reality of their life in this universe sensibly without making up stories then why should I believe in what they believe?

    So the question remains why choose any faith over the other, or any faction of a faith over an other – since all faiths claim to be the true faith, and no faith can prove or disprove any claim to truth then it seems to me that there is no integrity in any of them. This leads me to conclude that those who follow a faith have no integrity either, and those who have no integrity cannot be trusted at all – which sends shivers down my spine when I see the influence that the religious have on society. And it is the main reason I will not trust religious people with the care of my children under any circumstances.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 21, 2010 @ 7:51 am | Reply

    • Before I get started, a suggestion–instead of reading each sentence, carefully, one at a time, and then answering that sentence as if it is the only sentence in the post and as if there had never been any other posts, you might want to read the argument in its entirety and then attempt to answer the sentence based upon how it relates to the overall argument.

      “’You’d better make sure you’re worshiping the right God, or else you might get punished!’ Please!”

      “This isn’t my belief, this is the Christian belief, the belief that you claim you subscribe to. Such an idea to me is utterly childish and ridiculous.”

      So maybe I’m not as Christian as I claim to be. Certainly others who call themselves Christians would argue that I’m not.

      “…the Christian church claims that if you do not accept Jesus into your heart that you will be punished, so whilst I accept that god does not directly let you know what to think or feel or how he feels (if he did it would be more believable and we wouldn’t having this debate) – you still believe that you will be judged by him, if you do not then you are ignoring a very central message of the Christian text – which seems at odds with the religion that you claim to be a part of. Actually an awful lot of the bible stories centre around allegiance to the god and only that god. The OT describes god as vengeful, jealous, spiteful and cruel being – the language used is very direct. The NT softens this message somewhat by delivering gods message via Jesus and his ‘hippy – flower power’ followers, but it is still the same core message – believe in me or be sorry for eternity.”

      This is an interesting point. Yes, the Bible does say that people who do not accept Jesus into their hearts will be punished. But what exactly does it mean to accept Jesus into one’s heart when Jesus himself said that there would be those who say “Lord, Lord, I did all manner of blah blah for you,” (not an exact quote) and that he would respond “Go away. I never knew you.” See, there are the words and there are the actions. There are the things we profess and then there are the actual beliefs themselves and what we do in response to those beliefs. This is why I don’t put a lot of weight in professed belief. Rather, I look at how people choose to act. God, of course, has the advantage in that he looks directly into our hearts and knows us for what we are. In fact, I believe a good part of being judged will involve having to come to terms with what we really are, rather than the pretty pictures we’ve made up about ourselves.

      “As for the rest of what you’ve said: you show such a profound misunderstanding of the Bible (its origins and its purpose)and of religion and religious community and how they relate, that I don’t even know where to begin in terms of addressing those misunderstandings.”

      “Please enlighten me, because from where I am standing, you seem to know very little about your religion and its origins, what it means, and how it was created. You can start by explaining to me how you can be sure that what is written in the bible is what Jesus actually said? Since we cannot believe what was written in the newspapers yesterday – your explanation should be interesting.”

      This is what I mean by your tendency to take one sentence I’ve written and treat it as if it is the entire post and as if there have never been any other posts. I went on to elaborate on that sentence. Now it may be that you just weren’t satisfied with my continued explanation–in which case, I’m more than happy to address your concerns further. Still, I knew when I wrote that sentence that you would take it as a stand-alone statement and argue against it in that way because that has been your pattern right along.

      How can I be sure that what is written in the Bible is what Jesus actually said? I’m not. As I’ve been telling you right along, I’m not a biblical literalist. I realize that you find that vaguely disappointing, but you, my dear, are just going to have to deal.

      “…you are not worshiping god’s word you are worshiping man’s word…”

      By this, you are again implying that I worship the Bible. I don’t. I worship the God to whom the Bible points.

      “I suggest you read up on the creation of the bible you can start with the apostil Paul, whose words were written 4 decades after the so called life of Jesus… who’s going to remember you and what you said 40 years after your death? Incidentally, Paul never put Jesus on earth…. All that cods wallop came later – so Paul is the earliest source that we know of, the rest is artistic licence.” I have read up on the creation of the Bible and will continue to do so. I do thank you for your suggestion.

      “Nobody at that church expects blind allegiance to a literal interpretation of the Bible.”

      “I would love to see you test that – go in there and say that Jesus was a fraud and never existed, and see what reaction you get,…”

      Okay, I’m a coward, so I’m not going to stand up in the middle of the 9:30 service (the most populated of the services) and say that Jesus was a fraud and never existed. I imagine the response I’d get would be every bit as bad as you think it would be…but at least part of that would be the rudeness of the presentation–interrupting the church service is not looked upon with kindness.

      As for saying it in the context of a bible study–I have heard people refer to themselves as agnostics in my church. Granted, it’s a minority position, but it does exist.

      “…or when someone says ‘god spoke to me’ enquire how, and then start accusing them of fabricating their story to gain attention?”

      Almost no one in my church would put it that baldly. In fact, in my church, there’s kind of an embarrassed attitude toward the notion of God speaking personally to anyone. People who bring it up often do so with some hesitation–as if they are at a convention of atheists who will laugh at them instead of being among their Christian kin who, theoretically at least, believe in God.

      “…what you fail to see is the wider picture of how your support of the religion fuels other people’s interpretation of the same religion – some of them who will not use the bible to justify pacifism but vengeance.” Perhaps so. Of course, I look upon myself as fighting for change within the church and within Christianity itself–but I understand that you view my commitment differently.

      “Why not build a hospital, school or homes to help people instead?” Actually, Christians do that too–and there are Christians who believe that church buildings should not be built, but that Christians should meet in buildings that are used for other purposes–homes, offices, and schools more than hospitals, since hospitals are already in use twenty-four hours a day.

      “Methodism is relatively new in the Christian faith, with little or no evidence to support it – so the question is why do you care if you get kicked out by a load of loonies who believe in voodoo?” I did not realize that voodoo was a tenet of Methodism. I will make a point of asking my pastor about that one.

      “So the question remains why choose any faith over the other, or any faction of a faith over an other – since all faiths claim to be the true faith, and no faith can prove or disprove any claim to truth then it seems to me that there is no integrity in any of them. This leads me to conclude that those who follow a faith have no integrity either, and those who have no integrity cannot be trusted at all – which sends shivers down my spine when I see the influence that the religious have on society. And it is the main reason I will not trust religious people with the care of my children under any circumstances.”

      This is your prerogative and I am not arguing that you should do otherwise. As for why I believe, I think I’ve already told you my answer and you’ve already dismissed my response as silly. That too is your prerogative. And if you want to believe that all religious people are lacking in integrity, that too is your business and no one else’s. As to your fears of the influence that religious people have on society–well, you’re not going to be able to stop people from being religious if that’s what they want to be. You might, if you are able to get enough like-minded people together, be able to take rights away from the religious, so that we will not be able to have any influence on society. But if you do that, you’ll be as much of a tyrant as you deem us be…so where’s the improvement?

      Bottom line, you either respect the rights of others or you don’t. Either I respect your right to be an atheist or I don’t. Either you respect my right to be a Christian (or any other religion I choose) or you don’t. What’s it going to be, buster?

      Comment by Diana A. — August 21, 2010 @ 3:18 pm | Reply

  11. wow, it never ends does it guys? I was hoping that when I came back there would be mutual respect among believers and non-believers.

    Comment by 4amzgkids — August 21, 2010 @ 5:04 pm | Reply

  12. I think it is pretty obvious that I don’t respect the religious, and I question their rights to influence society as a result; and yes given the chance I would remove the religions rights to influence and rule society. Unthinking religious belief belongs in the dark ages, as a society we need to be thinking strategically about how we are going to solve some very big problems using practical means – this requires everyone to be thinking clearly and rationally about evidence and the process of decision making. Wishful thinking isn’t going to solve the world’s problems, but removing obstacles that prevent people from thinking critically will. Your commitment to the church (‘for emotional fulfilment’) supports the obstacles, it doesn’t remove them.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 21, 2010 @ 5:17 pm | Reply

    • And I shall certainly give your viewpoint all the consideration that it deserves, in other words, about as much consideration as you’ve given to mine.

      Comment by Diana A. — August 21, 2010 @ 5:21 pm | Reply

    • […] given the chance I would remove the religions rights to influence and rule society.

      Can you clarify what you mean by this?

      Comment by tildeb — August 21, 2010 @ 10:31 pm | Reply

  13. Tildeb: Certainly, however, please remember that in my country the Church has legal influence – we have two houses of Parliament, in the House of Lords in which the Church has ‘spiritual’ representation. This right I would remove.

    The national curriculum in the UK for education states that education will be taught with a broadly Christian ethos – again I disapprove of this as it is a barrier to critical thinking in the class room.

    The rights for the religious to not wear crash helmets, and safety equipment because of their religion, and the right for the religious to carry weapons, everyone would be equal under the rule of law regardless of belief.

    The rights for the religious to cover their faces in courts and public places.

    The rights for the church to only hire men for certain positions is another one.

    The removal of tax exempt status for religions.

    The inclusion of religious views in such public topics as contraception, abortion, artificial fertilisation, cloning and genetic analysis.

    I would also make it illegal for religious groups to canvass houses to peddle religion – again I think this is highly inappropriate.

    There are other examples of these rights – but this should be enough to get the idea.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 22, 2010 @ 3:31 am | Reply

    • Thanks, MUR. It sounds to me that what you are suggesting is to remove the privileged status religious affiliation now bestows. That’s not so much reducing ‘rights,’ which scares people into thinking that their human rights might be under attack or that their civil rights are to different in some kind of reduced way from others, as it is leveling the playing field for all and getting rid of special exemptions and the elevated status now employed that favours the religious.

      Comment by tildeb — August 22, 2010 @ 9:13 am | Reply

  14. I agree with your terminology levelling of rights is less confrontational.

    However in debate, I do go as far as to question believers on what they think is true to the extent of trying to making them think about their beliefs and the consequences of it – some find this offensive, because this is a direct challenge not just to their religion but to how they think about their religion and their personal interaction with it – in other words they think I am trying to prevent them from worshiping, I am not all I am asking them to do is think about why they worship, and the broader consequences of that worship, and offer alternatives to the worship of a particular faith.

    Most religious people want to be good people, but what they fail to see is that their religious faith taints their logic in this respect – because they are affiliating themselves with lies and deception. What many religious people forget is that religion itself is *deeply* offensive to anyone who has really considered what it means to be religious, and has decided that they are not religious.

    Therefore if people claim to be believers I will ask them why they are believers and expect an answer that is based on reason. If the answer I receive is focused on some wishy washy bunk (which it usually is) I will point this out as a flaw in their reasoning. I am then usually confronted with arguments that attempt to bend the truth or re-write history, or the repudiation of an interpretation of the faith that they worship. So I also point this out to them, with as much honestly as I can, often in the face of patronising comments and attempts to twist what I have said into something more than it actually is.

    The trouble I find, and which many atheists find is that we are often seen as arrogant by the religious – this I can relate to a little, it must be hard having your belief system blown away and unpicked – however, the anger should not be directed at atheists, it should be directed at the church, for it is they who have deceived and go on deceiving the public.

    I think there are a lot of non-believers in the church community, some of which ‘come out’ as agnostic because it is easier for their peers to accept – but this in itself is unethical. The ethical thing to do is not participate – take the community and social structure elsewhere. There is absolutely no reason for a local community scheme to be associated with religion, and every reason why it should be associated with the application of real skills involving the practical use of critical thinking, and experimental enquiry.
    Much of the time we focus on why we believe in something without focusing on what would happen if we did not believe in something. I think if religions lost their followers, they would lose their power and influence; in turn this would benefit society greatly as it would break down social barriers. Therefore I will do my best to encourage deep questioning of an individual’s belief, and where necessary I will chastise believers for believing in something that does not hold true beyond that which can be explained by reason or justified by providing an unbiased benefit to society.

    I agree that people are spiritual – this is fine, I am spiritual too (we all have those moments where we feel at one with the universe around us), but I refuse to have my spirituality branded as one faith or another, as I regard this as theft.

    It is important for agnostics to realise that the feeling of spirituality that causes them to not to commit to a full non-belief is the very substance that the organisations have hi-jacked and stolen from them, rebranded as ‘Christianity’ or whatever, and is then used to emotionally blackmail them into worshiping something that does not necessarily exist. The churches of the world have used natural emotions to control people, and have created faiths that are based on an emotional dependence that is totally unnecessary. Religion does not free people it enslaves them – the way out of the trap is to ignore it, and educate others so that they can learn to ignore it as well.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 22, 2010 @ 2:04 pm | Reply


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