The religions were interesting to me, but none were persuasive.

116

I was born in 1944 in the Midwest region of the United States. My parents were Catholic. I attended and graduated from a Catholic high school where the majority of teachers were members of a religious congregation of sisters. As a small child, I expressed a desire to become a priest, and I received so much positive feedback that I persisted throughout high school and college — I just assumed that my life would be spent in a religious institution. After a year of college, I joined a religious order and was a postulant, then a novice in the order. One afternoon, while sitting in the chapel during a period of time called meditation, my mind wondered to a childhood incident where my parents hired someone to come to our home dressed as Santa Claus. While sitting on the actor’s lap, I couldn’t help notice that his mustache was held in place by, what appeared to me to be, a band-aid. In that instant, I realized that Santa Claus was not a real person, but only something which made the Christmas season more fun. Rather than blurt out the truth, I decided to go along with the gag, and not spoil the fun for me and the rest of the family. In the monastic chapel, while remembering that moment, I realized that my belief in the God and the rest of the Catholic pantheon (for lack of a better word), was no different than my prior belief in Santa Claus. It was like someone had turned on a light — a light that has never gone out. Shortly thereafter, I left the Order.

The year was 1965 and I was 21 years old. Within a few months, I was drafted into the Army. It was suggested that because of my background, that I serve my time as a Chaplin’s Assistant, which I did. I worked for several Catholic priests, both in the United States and in Vietnam. I did not make a secret of the fact that I did not believe in God. By the way, if anyone tells you there are no atheists in foxholes, don’t believe them — One night, during the Tet Offensive, my platoon was awaiting instructions in a bunker while mortars and rockets fell all around us. I asked if I was the only atheist in the bunker, and learned that nearly a third of the men there indicated that they were atheist too. Not exactly a scientific survey, but it demonstrates the point.

After I completed my Army service, I traveled around the world, making my way overland to India and Nepal. This was in the late 1960s and early 1970. Although I was exposed to numerous religions — Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist – including Tibetan, and others, but I never gave a serious thought to the idea that one of them could be “the one true religion.” The religions were interesting to me, but none were persuasive.

After my travels were complete, I returned to my home and began a career as a factory worker and became involved in the labor movement. When that career came to an end, I returned to school and became a paraprofessional, and have worked as such ever since.

Although I have never made a secret of the fact that I am an atheist all these many years, until very recently, the only reason that I could use for my position was that religion simply made no sense to me. I also knew that I was not the first to come to that conclusion. I knew that many of the founding fathers of the United States were probably atheist, and I knew of famous people like Clarence Darrow and others from his time. I was always a big fan of Madalyn Murray O’Hair as well. However, I began to find my real heroes in people like Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krause, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and other scientists, who have explained in terms that lay people like myself can understand, that the cosmos can be explained in completely natural terms from now all the way to the big bang, and probably even before, all without any reference to supernatural powers. We know that the gaps in our current knowledge will someday be explained in natural terms without reference to superstition. And we also have biblical scholars like Richard Carrier, Bart D. Ehrman, Daniel Dennett, and others who explain the real historical significance of the bible. What a wonderful time in which to be living.

I often wonder how my life would have been different if my early childhood years had not been filled with the fantasy of the priesthood. Be that as it may, I am grateful to Prof. Dawkins and the others mentioned above, whose books as well as hours and hours of intellectually stimulating lectures and debates available on the internet. Although I may never live to see it, I look forward to a world in which the practice of religion is remembered only in historical terms — in the same way we study Greek, Roman, Egyptian and other ancient mythology.

116 COMMENTS

  1. …As a small child? This was the beginning of folly for you. Someone should have guided you and explained that you needed more experience with your parents beliefs, and to explore others as well. There is no existing worldview besides the Judaeo-Christian belief that correlates as closely with life as we know it today. However, all human beings have a choice to look, taste, and adhere to any belief they want. The Christians just want people to give their God of Abraham a close and careful look before to decide on any other belief. Secularism is a religion of sorts, because it is not based on some outside force, it is based on you. In either case, you make the decision. Allowing anyone else to force your decision invalidates foundation of both worldviews. May you find your way 🙂 without the influence of other men, but with attempts to find if any of these alleged God’s really reach out to you when you are earnest in your pursuit. You can do it. I did. Jesus Christ is my way of choice. May you find yours and know that it is true.

  2. Stewart B

    May you find yours and know that it is true.

    I do acknowledge that you take a generous tone with our former Catholic writer above but I do have some questions for you.

    Someone should have guided you and explained that you needed more experience with your parents beliefs, and to explore others as well.

    Our writer (his name?) reports that he attended Catholic schools and then as an adult, joined a religious order. This indicates a substantial degree of indoctrination for his whole childhood, adolescence and early adult years. Don’t you think this was more than enough “guidance” and “experience” with parents’ beliefs? Parents who indoctrinate their children to this degree are very unlikely to encourage their children to “explore others as well.” In fact, these types of parents actively block their children from interaction with others who might compromise their belief in their so called one true religion. I don’t think Catholics are the only ones who do this. I was brought up in the Methodist church and they definitely tried to corral us “Methodist kids” in social activities so we’d all stick together.

    There is no existing worldview besides the Judaeo-Christian belief that correlates as closely with life as we know it today.

    I would really like to hear more about how the Judaeo-Christian belief correlates with our lives. I dumped my Christian beliefs because I saw no part of it that I could relate to and I strongly disapproved of certain principles that were being forced on me that I objected to even as a teen. Your statement requires elaboration please.

    And while we’re at it, why stop at Judaeo-Christian? Why not add in Islam as well? Judeao-Christian-Islamic values. They’re just different versions of the same values.

    The Christians just want people to give their God of Abraham a close and careful look before to decide on any other belief.

    I hope you realize that the great majority of Christians on this earth never had a choice in the matter. Children have no way to analyze the ideology that is being presented assertively to them by the very people on whom they depend to stay alive in this life. Take a careful look? We weren’t allowed to look away!

    Secularism is a religion of sorts, because it is not based on some outside force, it is based on you.

    sec·u·lar·ism
    ˈsekyələˌrizəm
    noun
    the principle of separation of the state from religious institutions.

    Secularism is not a religion at all. The dictionary definition above reveals the simplicity of the idea. Of course, the non-religious amongst us prefer to live in a secular society where religion does not have any influence in government, including schools, courts and legal proceedings. This doesn’t mean that we want to eliminate religion, just that we want it limited to private life. There are plenty of religious people who appreciate secularism too. With freedom of religion and a separation of religion and state, the government is blocked from interfering in religious practice and from declaring a single state religion.

    May you find yours and know that it is true.

    I think, Stewart, that our writer above has found a happy home in the atheist community and he seems to appreciate the writings of RD and others that we admire. Is it so hard for you to believe he is settled on this path? You may not appreciate this but it is a peaceful feeling to finally put the disturbing ideas of Christianity to rest in our minds, once and for all. After that we can live without the fear of hell and an ever watchful supernatural presence watching our every move and reading our minds. Rejection of religious dogma was freedom of the mind for me. I’m only sorry I lost so much time in my youth under the influence of pernicious religious influence and I’m sad that our obviously intelligent and thoughtful writer has lost so much time like I did. But for all of the time that we have left in this world we can strengthen our humanist, ethical, secular values and strive to live every day to the fullest.

  3. Judaeo-Christian belief correlates with our lives

    really should say

    Judaeo-Christian belief correlates with our Judaeo-Christian lives.

    But, of course.

    This is no insight.

    The way you live has yet to be proved the acme of lives. You could give it a shot here?

  4. Stewart B #1
    Oct 2, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    Hello again Stewart.

    There is no existing worldview besides the Judaeo-Christian belief that correlates as closely with life as we know it today.

    I think what you are saying, is that you are personally unaware of any world-view which better matches your understanding of life. That does not mean that outside the bubble of Christian indoctrination, none exists!
    Many people from diverse cultures, would say that of their own personal view.

    However, all human beings have a choice to look, taste, and adhere to any belief they want.

    They do, but some beliefs are backed by scientific or historical evidence, while others are simply speculative, whimsical, or delusional.
    All opinions are not equal when it comes to understanding the workings of the world.

    The Christians just want people to give their God of Abraham a close and careful look before to decide on any other belief.

    I think that is ONLY the approach when trying to recruit non-members.
    It is part of the evangelical culture of Catholicism, Protestantism and Islam, to spread the spread those particular beliefs. Some sects are more aggressive and demanding in this policy than others.

    Secularism is a religion of sorts, because it is not based on some outside force, it is based on you.

    As Laurie explains, secularism is about no ones right to impose theocracy [as is done in Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Egypt] of a particular religion on their fellow citizens.

    In either case, you make the decision.

    Most atheists have looked at various religions as an exercise in understanding the behaviours of the various religious fellow citizens around them. Usually they have looked in much more detail, than those whose indoctrination has closed their minds to challenging ideas conflicting with indoctrinated beliefs.

    Allowing anyone else to force your decision invalidates foundation of both worldviews.

    Two problems here!
    First of all there are thousands of world-views not just two.

    If you had been born elsewhere in the world, you would probably be following sects of Shinto, Buddhism, Hindu gods, or Islam!

    Secondly forcing children into particular religions by way of indoctrination, is precisely what religious organisations strenuously seek to do.

    It is always interesting to see how the religious are dismissively atheistic towards all gods and religions other than their own, but don’t seem able to take the last step in discarding the remaining one they have been indoctrinated to follow.

  5. Stewart,

    A few other thoughts. You may appreciate the book by Prof. Larry Siedentop “Inventing the individual. The Origins of Western Liberalism” making the case for the Judeo-Christian tradition.

    He makes this case comprehensively and I agree with much of it. Most importantly he shows (approvingly) its terminus in the hyper individualism of American neoliberal culture. He explicitly excludes European culture from this path which he defines as rather rooted in Classical Greek traditions of a more collective polis, in its “ancient republicanism” with its later collectivisms, Marxism and mutuality.

    My roots have not a whiff of the Judeo-Christian. Mine extend back through the Enlightenment with its burgeoning religious dissent, through the Islamic Golden Age of wealth, pluralism and intellectual achievement, to the Greek philosophers, most particularly Democritus and Epicurus.

    We were rescued from the Dark Ages of Christian impoverishment (“The Poverty of the Latins”) by the Islamic scholars, the keepers of classical wisdom, who fed the west and kick started the Renaissance.

    The Judeo-Christian tradition has their view of mankind exactly backwards. They assert we are all made in the same image, making virtue cease with the Golden Rule, imagining we all might want the same things. They then divide us by making us individually responsible for some ancient sin.

    In reality we are made with great approximation with many possible needs. The Platinum Rule will never be accepted by traditional Christians. Do unto others as they would wish to be done by. From this diversity comes the real source of morality an actual need for mutuality. How do we make the most of this raggedy bunch?

    Well….if we can pull the trick off of mutuality given the astonishing diversity of needs and cognitions, we might find, given the extra problem solving tools now at our evolutionary disposal (genetically and culturally speaking) we might be the ape to thrive.

  6. Phil, you said:

    “My roots have not a whiff of the Judeo-Christian. Mine extend back through the Enlightenment with its burgeoning religious dissent, through the Islamic Golden Age of wealth, pluralism and intellectual achievement, to the Greek philosophers, most particularly Democritus and Epicurus.”

    Hi Phil, yes, I can tell from your posts that you are a very learned individual. I am familiar with the age of enlightenment. I relate people of that age to what they called Gnostic’s in the bible. You appear to put intellect ahead of all else and there is nothing wrong with that. If you make sure that “pride” does not get intertwined with your knowledge, then you will continue to analyze all of that deep knowledge fairly. As long as you have the time, you will come to the truth in my opinion. Or enemy is time itself as far as that is concerned. The rest of it is fun, as long as we don’t beat each other over the head! From what I can see you don’t cater to doing so. Thanks for your comment.

  7. I’m sorry, Stewart, there will be no engaging with the Christian only a further distancing as it falls into further disgrace as unintentionally mapped by Prof. Siedentop.

    “You appear to put intellect ahead of all else,”

    Absolutely not. It is morality I put as the driving force for how we must choose to live. Our achievements are mutual. Singly we are nothing. All sit on the shoulders of giants. Morality is what makes Truth essential. The appalling understanding of morality by religion discounts it until all of its dogmatic artifacts are dissipated.

    You don’t appear to be in receptive mode at the moment.

  8. “You appear to put intellect ahead of all else”

    Instantly takes me back to my father telling me not to read so much. He feared losing me to Christianity, or worse, atheism.

  9. Stewart,

    I tend not to join the dots for others, so I may not come across as clearly as I imagine I do.

    We are not made in anyone’s image.

    We are neurally, genetically, diverse having a range of different aptitudes and psychological needs.

    We need to work together to achieve what we do. The more the better. Mutuality, not individuality makes
    cultures, solves problems.

    Only one kind of knowledge (predictive, corroborate-able, non-contingent) can be shared by all.

    Morality that maximises mutuality is maximal.

    Knowledge of our differentness are moral facts.

    We not being made to a plan, but being remarkably mutable, moral facts evolve.

    Daily living, art, novels, opera and soap-opera are mostly concerned with moral making and refining.

    Obedience is never moral.

    Moral dogma is moral atrophy.
    UK Quakers get this, but “Christianity” gets further away as they isolate individuals, accentuating personal justice rather than cultural fairness.

  10. Hello all, I made about 5 posts but they went into a black hole if you will. I don’t know if that was intentional but it happened.
    Phil, are you saying that morals change over time? Meaning that there are no absolutes except those we develop according to the situation and the decisions of the collective? Please elaborate, but take it easy with you vocabulary which is about 3 levels above mine 🙂 This will help with your being understood. By me anyway.

  11. Stewart B

    Hello all, I made about 5 posts but they went into a black hole if you will. I don’t know if that was intentional but it happened.

    And we replied to your email, explaining why it had happened and pointing out that all but one had since been approved. We suggest you check your inbox.

    The mods

  12. LaurieB, Please excuse my typo first of all as I meant that you needed more experience “than” the beliefs of your parents. All of the evidence is available for us to examine. When we are pointed in one direction, and it turns out that it appears to be untruthful or constantly fails you. It may help if you / I look at how I came to the conclusion. i.e. was it my belief, or others that failed me? When as I believe Phil was explaining (he is pretty deep for me and maybe needs to explain at kinder level for me 🙂 ) That the supernatural cannot be part of the argument because we are not made in anyone’s image. I think we must look at a whole different set of rules. The reason I say that is because we have effectively become God, in place of the belief’s of others. I mean that since there is no God (which is what I assume from his posts) Then we are as close to God as we are going to get, and thus we must police ourselves as a society. Is this right Phil? and Laurie, even though you say secularism is not a religion, I will go with that. Lets just call it a belief, as well as Christianity, since a large part of the Christian faith believes that it is more of a relationship than a religion. (This would be protestants I think, because Catholics appear to have many rituals)
    As far as my worldview statement, I meant that The Judaeo-Christian view coheres with reality “and” when coalesced as a whole is a workable-livable way of life including the supernatural elements. People tend to pick the beliefs of others apart by zeroing in on the symptoms of alleged disobedience rather than the whole of the foundation that roots the belief. About recruiting – Christians are not supposed to “recruit” anyone. As a matter of fact, those who study the doctrines find that they don’t have the power or authority to do so. Think about it. If God, does not resort to forcing us to love and obey him, would he not be a hypocrite if he used Christians as an extension arm to do the same? Instead, we are to share the good news with others as well as our experiences. This is called witnessing. Should those who don’t believe, but are open to exploring a different answer to our lives and our existence, then their journey leads them to Christ. It is He who, when invited into our lives begins enriching our lives on a different level that non-believers are not privy to. As a matter of fact, scripture says that the rest of the world will find that it is silliness! They certainly do. but, instead of discouraging Christians, it emboldens their faith and their commitment because they see scripture in action immediately! The faith is full of confirmations if your eyes are open.
    You Said:

    “Two problems here!
    First of all there are thousands of world-views not just two.”

    I agree, and unless you truly understand another’s worldview, then you would not have a clue to how they lookk at the world, or their foundation for their beliefs. So in that we are on the same page. I also agree that many have not looked at other beliefs/worldviews, and become opinionated and look at others with presumptuous blinders without understanding at all. I also agree that most people (including Humanists or Atheists)will indoctrinate their children based on their own beliefs. If you have children and have not done so then you are an exception. Christian scripture says to “raise up a child in the way he should go, and when he grows old, he will not depart from it” This simply means to make sure that tour child understands Christianity and they will find it to be the truth later on even if they decide to explore. My Grandchildren understand that This is my belief, but their Dad is an Atheist. So, I set an example for them. I let them know what I believe because I will not lie to them. I also make sure they respect and understand their father’s beliefs since he is their father, and I don’t have the right to cause, or even attempt to cause enmity between them. So I tell them that they have ti discover truth on their own, and I make sure they understand the meaning of truth.
    Did I address all of your comments? If I missed anything pleas let me know. Thank you for making me think 🙂

  13. Stuart#13

    Should those who don’t believe, but are open to exploring a different
    answer to our lives and our existence, then their journey leads them
    to Christ. It is He who, when invited into our lives begins enriching
    our lives on a different level that non-believers are not privy to. As
    a matter of fact, scripture says that the rest of the world will find
    that it is silliness! They certainly do. but, instead of discouraging
    Christians, it emboldens their faith and their commitment because they
    see scripture in action immediately! The faith is full of
    confirmations if your eyes are open.

    Could you please describe exactly how – and in what way – you think ‘He’ enriches your life ‘on a different level’?

    As a devout non-believer I’m just curious!

  14. Stewart B #13
    Oct 8, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    I also agree that many have not looked at other beliefs/worldviews, and become opinionated and look at others with presumptuous blinders without understanding at all.

    The problems arise when people DO understand other worlds views, and recognise just how crazy and unreal some of them are.
    Some of these can be discovered by debating on this RDFS site!
    Many people view religions in general through rosy spectacles as “something good for societies”, without ever enquiring about what other religions, cults, or sections of their own, actually do!

    As far as my worldview statement, I meant that The Judaeo-Christian view coheres with reality “and” when coalesced as a whole is a workable-livable way of life including the supernatural elements.

    I think you might find this earlier discussion enlightening!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/11/i-had-to-take-my-dirty-panties-to-a-rabbi-and-so-has-every-orthodox-jewish-woman/

    I also agree that most people (including Humanists or Atheists)will in doctrinate their children based on their own beliefs.

    That is simply a projection of religious thinking on to atheists.
    The religious indoctrinate their children (to varying extents,) in the doctrines and dogmas of their specific religion.
    Atheists do not have any doctrines or dogmas so usually do not make any attempt inculcate specific beliefs in their children!

    So, I set an example for them.

    Which is more of an atheist or humanist approach.

    The other aspect is helping children identify worthy role models. – An aspect at which most religions and much of the modern media, is appallingly bad at!

    If you have children and have not done so then you are an exception.

    Not generally among atheists or humanists.

    Christian scripture says to “raise up a child in the way he should go, and when he grows old, he will not depart from it”

    I think this was the “give me a child ’till he’s 7 and he is mine for life”, which takes advantage of a child’s trust and copying at this stage of mental development, before critical thinking skills have been developed to filter out dubious claims.

    This simply means to make sure that your child understands Christianity and they will find it to be the truth later on even if they decide to explore.

    I think you may well find that if children “understand the historical truth of Christianity” as it is, (see Catholic abuse scandals and connivance with despotic regimes), rather than some cherry-picked, happy, sanitised version, or some personal cultural version of it, this leads them to atheism! – and frequently, a contempt from the hypocrisy and tribalism, of organised religions.

    About recruiting – Christians are not supposed to “recruit” anyone.

    There cannot be valid blanket claims like this! Some denominations and sects are engaged in aggressive missionary promotion of their version of Christianity. Others are not.

    As a matter of fact, those who study the doctrines find that they don’t have the power or authority to do so.

    Those who study the doctrines and bible stories and compare them with independent records, recognise them as mythology or fantasy.

    Those who study the numerous religions and denominations of the world past and present, recognise them as contradicting each other and regional cultural delusions in the minds of specific times and localities.

    Those who value accuracy and an objective view of reality, use evidence and scientific methodology.

    Thank you for making me think 🙂

    Carry on thinking! It is good exercise for the brain!

  15. Stuart#13

    The faith is full of confirmations if your eyes are open.

    I think you will find that “faith” leads to confirmations of core indoctrinations, by back-tracking thought processes to these indoctrinations and preconceptions, in circular arguments.

    It is easy for those trained in logic to watch this happening in others, but to see it clearly, it is necessary to break out of the closed loop and use wider and better verified, sources of information when critically examining religious teachings.

  16. Stewart

    Laurie, even though you say secularism is not a religion, I will go with that. Lets just call it a belief, as well as Christianity, since a large part of the Christian faith believes that it is more of a relationship than a religion. (This would be protestants I think, because Catholics appear to have many rituals)

    prin·ci·ple
    ˈprinsəpəl/Submit
    noun
    1.
    a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.

    be·lief
    bəˈlēf/Submit
    noun
    1.
    an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.
    “his belief in the value of hard work”
    2.
    trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.
    “a belief in democratic politics”
    synonyms: faith, trust, reliance, confidence, credence
    “belief in the value of hard work”

    We are engaged in a semantic pas de deux, you and me. Definitions matter to me and the regulars here. Secularism is not a religion. Christianity is very much a religion. Religions are types of ideologies. Indoctrination is a psychological process:

    in·doc·tri·na·tion
    inˌdäktrəˈnāSHən/
    noun
    the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.

    faith
    fāTH/Submit
    noun
    1.
    complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
    “this restores one’s faith in politicians”
    synonyms: trust, belief, confidence, conviction; More
    2.
    strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

    de·lu·sion
    dəˈlo͞oZHən/Submit
    noun
    an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder.

    These are some definitions of words that appear around here rather frequently. There are often discussions having to do with accuracy of these definitions and common usage which I personally find to be interesting. For example, I personally find the definitions of “faith” and “delusion” to be synonymous. This declaration by me in a previous discussion caused some of my fellow atheists to issue an enjoyable scolding . You are more than welcome to contest these definitions but one thing I’m sure we all agree on is that is isn’t possible to have a pleasant productive discussion when there is more than one set of definitions flying around! ha. These discussions never end well I can assure you of that. I think that you are trying to work out some of these definitions and it’s the right place to start. The hard part of entering any new domain in the academic or secular or religious world is to learn the new lingo and values so one can jump into the material that is being discussed. Please continue along these lines. By the way, protestants have no dearth of completely objectionable rituals.

    The Judaeo-Christian view coheres with reality “and” when coalesced as a whole is a workable-livable way of life including the supernatural elements.

    Now Stewart, I for one am smiling as I respond to this. Can you consider that the J-C view coheres with YOUR reality and is workable and livable for YOU and the supernatural elements are acceptable to YOU? Can you step outside of your own mind and understand that all of this has nothing to do with the reality experienced by billions of other humans that are currently strolling around on our shared planet? Or that there are masses of humans alive right now who scoff at belief in supernatural nonsense and are living very good lives without entertaining these silly childish notions? It’s not that we’ve never been introduced to these ideas…it’s that we HAVE been and then we’ve REJECTED them!

    People tend to pick the beliefs of others apart by zeroing in on the symptoms of alleged disobedience rather than the whole of the foundation that roots the belief.

    I suppose that’s a possibility but there are too many atrocities ongoing currently and historically that can be attributed to religious doctrine that is rotten to the core. This is a whole discussion thread in and of itself! (which I am happy to participate in!) Much suffering of innocents in all of human history has been directly attributable to pernicious ideologies, including religion, and the power hungry individuals who wield them. Is yours really any different?

    Think about it. If God, does not resort to forcing us to love and obey him, would he not be a hypocrite if he used Christians as an extension arm to do the same?

    Stewart, honestly, have you actually READ the ten commandments?! Genesis? Exodus? Leviticus?! That’s enough for anyone to read and come away with a very good understanding of what this entity called “God” is really all about. God is NOT kind. NOT compassionate. He is a brutal taskmaster who has the morality of a present day toddler who one minute caresses and soothes her doll and the next minute stomps on its face and walks away without a second glance. I do remember many Methodist adults who said, “God is love and forgiveness, etc” as spoken like parrots but when I pointed out many quotes and sections of the Bible that proved otherwise they did not receive my discoveries in a positive manner. In fact they were downright angry most of the time. I will now ask you to reconsider the personality profile of the supernatural man known as God.

    Christians are not supposed to “recruit” anyone. As a matter of fact, those who study the doctrines find that they don’t have the power or authority to do so. Think about it. If God, does not resort to forcing us to love and obey him, would he not be a hypocrite if he used Christians as an extension arm to do the same?

    Recruiting. Witnessing. Spreading the good news. Come on Stewart. This is more slippery semantics. No one in the religious or in the secular world is fooled by this shade of difference that you claim. Why make the effort at all if there is no payoff? Increasing the numbers is a hallmark of religious activity in general. There are various tactics that are used by all of them to achieve this goal. “Witnessing” is just one of many.

    Should those who don’t believe, but are open to exploring a different answer to our lives and our existence, then their journey leads them to Christ. It is He who, when invited into our lives begins enriching our lives on a different level that non-believers are not privy to.

    In all my time spent contemplating the guy called Jesus, one description of him that I would never have used is “enriching” of my life. The guy is in no way inspiring. Dour is my impression of him.

    dour
    do͝or,ˈdou(ə)r/Submit
    adjective
    relentlessly severe, stern, or gloomy in manner or appearance.
    “a hard, dour, humorless fanatic”
    synonyms: stern, unsmiling, unfriendly, severe, forbidding, gruff, surly, grim, sullen, solemn, austere, stony

    All of the synonyms seem apt. We ARE privy to it! It’s just that it’s not impressive whatsoever! I must remind you that many of us have been brought up in strict religious families and have much Bible reading time under our belts! It is a mistake to assume that we are ignorant of the same material that has so impressed you in your formative years. The difference is that you have been indoctrinated hook, line and sinker and I have not.

    scripture says that the rest of the world will find that it is silliness!

    Of course scripture says that. It’s very predictable. Every read the Koran? It also says that on every page. “Beware the infidels…they’re trying to destroy your religion and send you straight to hell!!!” This is a built in defense mechanism that ALL ideologies employ. They want you to believe you are righteous and persecuted. Of course. It’s all very obvious and boring.

    You Said:

    “Two problems here!
    First of all there are thousands of world-views not just two.”

    This was said by Alan, not by me.

    Christian scripture says to “raise up a child in the way he should go, and when he grows old, he will not depart from it” This simply means to make sure that tour child understands Christianity and they will find it to be the truth later on even if they decide to explore.

    If the religious people in this world were really interested in letting children learn about all the religions and then choose one or none at all then they wouldn’t say a word to the children at all until they were 20 years old and capable of parsing the big moral and ethical dilemmas of our time. Children have NO capacity to consider and discuss any of the major principles of Christianity, do they, Stewart? Original Sin? Jesus died for our sins? Mary and the virgin birth? Kids have no possible way to process these ideas. When they are explained to rational adults they are rightfully judged to be immoral ATROCITIES. Of course, if that’s all you’ve been told and lectured on as a child then by the time one is an adult, then they’ve lost their ability to dissect these stupid ideas and think critically about them.

    That’s enough out of me, right Stewart?! I’ll let the others answer their own questions from your comment above. One thing that will facilitate our conversation is for you to separate out your questions/statements to us in different comment spaces. Also, if you can separate our quotes from the other lines in the comment that makes for better organization of conversation. To make quotes appear in red print just add > exactly in front of the first letter of the quote. Leave no space between. Leave one line of space after the last letter of the quote then keep writing. Give it a try.

  17. Stewart B #13
    Oct 8, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    Phil? and Laurie, even though you say secularism is not a religion,
    I will go with that. Lets just call it a belief,

    For clarification; Secularism is not “a belief” or “a religion”.
    It is a view on the equal treatment and rights of citizens, with no particular religion or sect, favoured over other religions or over non-believers – as is the case in theocracies such was so historically in Franco’s Spain, or as it is in modern Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, or Iran.

    In a secular democracy all citizens are equal before the law and parliament. No religious or political affiliation gives advantages or disadvantages and religious believers are citizens with the same rights and obligations as anyone else.

    Understandably, those seeking religious privilege for themselves, or their own religion or ideology, disparage and misrepresent secularism.

  18. @#16 – . . . . I think you may well find that if children
    “understand the historical truth of Christianity” as it is,
    (see Catholic abuse scandals and connivance with despotic regimes),
    rather than some cherry-picked, happy, sanitised version,
    or some personal cultural version of it, this leads them to atheism! –
    and frequently, a contempt for the hypocrisy and tribalism, of organised religions.

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2018/09/church-in-crisis-as-only-2-of-young-adults-identify-as-c-of-e/#li-comment-233698

    Claims of clerical sex abuse have been levelled around the world, and with them allegations that Church leaders hushed up or ignored the wrongdoing.

  19. LaurieB #18
    Oct 8, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    Witnessing

    You have to be a little taken aback at the credulity of some people, who think they can “witness” folk-law events which are said to have happened 2,000 years before they were born, and that rational people will take them seriously as credible witnesses!!

  20. Certainly I can, however, chances are you would find it silliness. Here are a few things.

    I was one of what you might call a “Fire Insurance Christian” for about 30 years. first accepting Christ because some adults urged me to. The indoctrinated me, I immediately went into the service, and out into the world. I did everything I thought I was old enough to do. Totally ignored the faith except for those occasional “thank God” or “Yes, God is good” or Sure I am a Christian” all of these statement really meaning nothing (to me)
    I had moments of what you might call “guilt faith” 🙂 where I was going to church regularly, refraining from many things forbidden, never cracking a bible. (several dusty ones around my home for show) I like d to sing in the choir loved being in the limelight, had great respect for my pastor, and had occasional fits of emotion during services, but a depth remained non committal.
    Sorry, I have to lead you up to my story as a whole I hope I am not wearing you out.
    I became disillusioned by my pastor, and thus later with the church, and stopped going. Falling back into my old ways of pleasure seeking and party time.
    Went back to my church and through 2 other pastors, now living a duel life. A show in the Church, and party time at home. Still getting better jobs, better homes, etc. but never really finding contentment. It was perpetual pursuit of …something, anything.
    I got involved in substance abuse and alcoholism. partied happily for a short time. Experiencing rehab a couple of times along the way as my abuse leaked into my work life and caused problems. Locked onto AA for a spell, thinking this would help me solve my problems.
    Left the church again! not liking the pastor (did you notice all these times I didn’t really check out “any” doctrine from anywhere seriously? Not even my supposed own Christianity)?
    Dropped the religion stuff all together still putting up a front for certain friends and family, but I suppose they could all see that I was slowly going into a state of perpetual inebriation from Alcohol, Mary Jane, opiates, etc.
    Being very unhappy, I decided to say something I had never said before…”God, please lead me to something better”. shortly after, a friend asked me to check out his church. Just a straight, non-denominational,Christian church that taught the bible. No frills, no dancing, moderate music, deep scripture.
    My wife and I began to attend the new church, and found it welcoming. I was somehow drawn to finding out more about the bible as well as other religions, so I attended bible college, other religions and their origins etc. However I kept partying 🙂 didn’t really crack that bible except when I had to for school. However now I was learning some things (in between fogs of my party) that I didn’t know in the past, about many beliefs.
    I joined the praise team (sort of like a worship band) at the church. A bold move of my supposed commitment since I attended may practices hung over, but put on a good show.
    Time to get serious… One night, I decided to ask for something since this life cycle I was going through didn’t mean much. I was just existing, partying, and keeping up a good show for…show. So, in a prayer, in the shower, hung over. I asked “God, I got baptized twice! once as a child, and once at 12, and once at 29. Here I am, a mess, many mistakes under my belt and a lot of tried and failed solutions. So, I give you permission to DEAL WITH ME! Whatever that is, it can’t hurt any more than it does now. So, whatever it takes please show me what to do..
    12 Well, in the following year, my brother-in-law, my brother, my step mother, my dad, and my birth mother died! What the heck!! I am asking him to show me, but I expected him to take some pressure off, not pile more problems on!!
    13 Pre-dealt with: My wife had to have surgery. Although I took time off from work to be with her. I spent much of the time with her trying to figure out how I could get high whenever she slept. I am a thoughtful guy huh?
    14 My wife stayed at my daughters for awhile, while I had to go back to work. Besides! I was free! I was alone at home except for my grown son, who worked a different shift! So the first 2 days home, I stayed wasted, breezing into work just to show I was alive but preparing my home for my wife’s eventual homecoming heh! I was brilliant!
    On the third night, I was comfortably high. Nursing a light buzz as I had been working on prepping the house for my wife (deep cleaning our bedroom and adding new rugs etc. to make the nest really nice (after all, those who play too much are equally good at looking wonderful are they not?)

    Sitting on the bed and watching the TV, I felt something strange wash over me. I was not sure what was going on. It was not unpleasant, and it was not a chill as the bedroom was quite comfortable. My mind, for no reason I could grasp at the time recalled a prayer I learned when I was about 5 years old, and was unassuming about the existence of God. I am sure you know it, it begins with “Now I lay me down to sleep” you know that right?
    Anyway the feeling that had washed over me as I thought about the prayer became very intense. Something akin to coming down off a a large hump your car went over at high speed. A sort of “free-falling if you will. Without really thinking about it, I raised one hand and said “Thank you Jesus!” again and again. Still the feeling intensified to the point where I knew this was a presence with me in the room! I could not stay on the bed, and so dropped to my knees saying thank you Jesus! What do you want me to do? You see I didn’t understand why I was having the sensations. They again intensified and I felt unworthy to be on my knees! If I could have molded my body and combined myself into the floor, I would have done so. All I could do is cry, and lay prone with my face against the floor repeating my last words.
    Eventually, this subsided. I didn’t know the time. But like any good science lover, I analyzed the situation and came to a theory. I picked up my cell phone and began to text my oldest daughter. I typed well honey, I guess it is a good thin your mom is with you. I guess I still had some gre… and back to the floor I was! I was going to tell her that I guessed I was still grieving over the recent deaths of my mom and dad. But I was not allowed. Again I lay face down repeating my last words and adding something I ha read that Abraham said in the presence of the Lord “hear I am”. Again this lasted for a time, and I was able to get up. Well, I thought. This must be the result of my buzz…(can you guess what happened) lol! again I was face down, but I finally heard something. Not audible, but in my head. Simply “STOP IT”. I didn’t even have to think! I went to the kitchen and got a garbage bag and I went around the house collecting every bottle, pipe, joint, every piece of everything I used to alter my reality. I promptly walked onto the back porch and repeatedly slammed the bag into the concrete until all was pulverized glass weed and liqueur. Then I placed the bag in the garbage and went back to my room. I marveled for a few minutes in the room, but was exhausted, so I went to sleep. The last thing I noticed was that 3 hours had passed on the digital clock. I thought it had been minutes! since that beginning experience and some subsequent additional but never that intense, I have committed myself to Jesus deepend my studies, taken theology and apologetic classes buried myself in literature and daily reading of scripture.
    Each morning, when I read scripture, my understanding goes beyond what is written on the page. I see it all as it applies to my life today. I see a simplicity that I never noticed before! A simplicity of the Word, the Message! Sometimes talking to me pertaining to a thought I had a night or 10 minutes before I started reading. Each time I marvel. I have learned that this life and all of what we perceive to be mystery s are really just information that we have not yet gathered or in my belief (Given) I live in a state of grace, meaning that it is possible for me t make a mistake (and I do), but I can immediately acknowledge that mistake and be absolved of it, because I know if I accept His forgiveness that it has wiped out my past transgressions and I am forgiven for current and future ones. I am so, so grateful for this, that I work to be obedient and I don’t really find it hard because the overriding factor of everything is love, grace, and mercy for all of us who want it. After all Christ says that His yoke is easy and his burden is light does he not? Who ever thought that God, could be humble and meek. Meek in his case being “Power under Control” we are commanded to be the same (without the unlimited power of course, I can only guess at the problems that would cause) 🙂
    There are two kinds of peace in Christianity. (Peace “with God), and (Peace”of” God) We make peace with God when we accept Jesus and become one with him through the Holy Spirit. We experience the peace of God as a result of the first peace. It truly is beyond our understanding especially in times of trouble. I could not trade this for anything my friend even to the point of death, because I know I don’t belong here, To live is Christ, to die is gain. I am only here, because he has work for me to do. May his blessings reach all of you through your acceptance of his grace. This is His legacy. Not the rules, they are just a taste of what you will want by choice in the end. The Love in one word is OVERWHELMING :)!!
    You asked my friend.

  21. Hi Alan, you said:
    For clarification; Secularism is not “a belief” or “a religion”.
    It is a view on the equal treatment and rights of citizens, with no particular religion or sect, favoured over other religions or over non-believers – as is the case in theocracies such was so historically in Franco’s Spain, or as it is in modern Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, or Iran.

    In a secular democracy all citizens are equal before the law and parliament. No religious or political affiliation gives advantages or disadvantages and religious believers are citizens with the same rights and obligations as anyone else.

    Understandably, those seeking religious privilege for themselves, or their own religion or ideology, disparage and misrepresent secularism.

    So, are you saying that you don”t believe in secularism? It just is?

  22. Stewart B #1
    Oct 2, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    There is no existing worldview besides the Judaeo-Christian belief that correlates as closely with life as we know it today.

    I find it hard to believe that anyone, even the most blinkered faith head, could write something that absurd with a straight face. You think talking snakes, impossible floods, all the world’s animals on one little wooden boat with no form of propulsion, an invisible supernatural sky pixie who nobody has heard so much as a cough our of for over 2000 years correlates closely with life as we know it today? You are delusional beyond all understanding.

    What correlates with life as we know it today is the scientific method that explains everything we currently understand. The big book of bronze age lies, the goat herders guide to the galaxy, says nothing at all that has the slightest relevance to life today.

  23. Stewart B #25
    Oct 8, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    Certainly I can, however, chances are you would find it silliness.

    Long story snipped. Yes we are all well aware of the ways in which people come to believe in their sky pixie of choice. The two main ones are 1) indoctrination and brain washing at an early age and 2) coming to some low point in their life due to addiction, illness or other cause, abandoning hope of sorting it out by themselves and thinking it was god that did it when they finally climb out the other side.

    Route 1) is child abuse. Route 2) is sad because everything we do in this life we achieve by ourselves or with the help of other people but you have to credit it all to an invisible sky pixie and will never get to understand what humans alone are capable of doing.

  24. Stewart B #27
    Oct 8, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    Hi Alan, you said:

    For clarification; Secularism is not “a belief” or “a religion”.
    It is a view on the equal treatment and rights of citizens, with no particular religion or sect, favoured over other religions or over non-believers – as is the case in theocracies such was so historically in Franco’s Spain, or as it is in modern Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, or Iran.

    So, are you saying that you don”t believe in secularism? It just is?

    I believe that it is a fair even handed way of treating fellow citizens, in the same way that I believe checking tyre pressures on my car or bike, is a good idea for staying safe on the road, , but that does not make it a religious belief or a religion!

    If you look at the alternatives (theocracies) I give as examples, (above and @#20) you will see the point! – Or are you not aware of the heavily biased religious discriminatory laws in these countries?

  25. Laurie, do you have children? (thanks for the tips and your conversation 🙂 )

    If the religious people in this world were really interested in letting children learn about all the religions and then choose one or none at all then they wouldn’t say a word to the children at all until they were 20 years old and capable of parsing the big moral and ethical dilemmas of our time. Children have NO capacity to consider and discuss any of the major principles of Christianity, do they, Stewart? Original Sin? Jesus died for our sins? Mary and the virgin birth? Kids have no possible way to process these ideas. When they are explained to rational adults they are rightfully judged to be immoral ATROCITIES. Of course, if that’s all you’ve been told and lectured on as a child then by the time one is an adult, then they’ve lost their ability to dissect these stupid ideas and think critically about them.

    You warn your children not to cross the stree either without supervision, You warn your children not to treat others harshly, but to defend themselves or come running to you. Scripture tells us to raise up a child in the way he should be. But it does not say “raise up you Child to be a Card Carrying Christian This originates in Proverbs 22:6, which means it was one of the thousands of writings by King Solomon. This was before Jesus, so he was not referring to Christians. A translation from (The Voice) version of the bible helps a lot

    Teach a child how to follow the right way;
    even when he is old, he will stay on course.

    Even the literal translation says something similar

    Give instruction to a youth about his way, Even when he is old he turneth not from it.

    There is a wealth of piratical instruction in the bible. Also we have to remember that the NT is a new covenant with man. I think it was Alan who said that Jesus didn’t come to change the law. This is true, he came to complete it. However to honestly accept Jesus is a deep experience that changes one’s way of thinking. Yes, there are some very powerful groups that twist the meaning of what Christ wanted and is scary to me because using their views to control masses of people would surly anger God! I believe there is little reason to be afraid of Him, but one would surly be to mislead people, because to him all belong to Him. When you see passages in the bible that say to “Fear God” it means to take Him very seriously. That only need s to be outright terror if you do things that not only ruin you, but take others with you ate the same time. This, I would be afraid of. I just want you to know Laurie, that I see you 🙂 I get your points. I may not agree, but I see them.

  26. Comment removed for preaching.

    it is my job to spread the good news
    Not on this website, it isn’t!

    From our Terms of Use (www.richarddawkins.net/tcp, Section 14):

    ‘9. Do not preach, do not threaten, do not proselytize.

    ‘Users who hold religious beliefs are welcome to join in the discussions, to challenge the views expressed here and to present their views from their own perspective.

    ‘However, please do not preach. The distinction between arguing and preaching can be somewhat blurred, but we are likely to treat as preaching any comment that relies mainly on quotes from your holy book; or that merely states your religious beliefs without any attempt to engage in rational discussion about why they should carry weight with non-believers; or that threatens hell or other supernatural retribution; or whose primary aim is, in our view, to proselytize. Please understand that for many users this website is one of the few places they can get away from all that. None of this is intended to prevent you from joining in fully with the discussions from a religious perspective or expressing dissent. We simply ask you to engage and reason rather than preach.’

    The mods

  27. Mr. Sandwich, what will you do when you discover that many humans are pawns? Also, your comments are so…colorful:) here here! 🙂

  28. Stewart

    I really am sincerely sorry for all of the troubles that you’ve suffered. I hope that you’ve achieved sobriety and if your religion has led you to it then I won’t speak against it. I realize that AA is a religious program and it can offer help to those who are believers. As an atheist, I hope you will lean on the real live people around you for support and guidance rather than an unresponsive God in the sky but in the face of persistent addiction I think you should pull all forces you can possibly muster.

    Now what I find myself wondering is this; why did you come to a website inhabited by atheists and engage us in this conversation? Aren’t you afraid that we will compromise your belief? I usually don’t worry about these things but in light of your situation, I’m feeling a little worried for you.

    One of my best friends is 15 years sober and got that way through the AA program. She has since then volunteered many hours and has sponsored many newly sober members. A year ago she confided in me that in retrospect she doesn’t credit that program with her sobriety anymore. She said that she gave up the drink due to her completely stubborn personality and the refusal to fail because she wouldn’t let the naysayers be right. As I said, however you get there is fine with me.

  29. Stewart B #33
    Oct 8, 2018 at 7:18 pm

    Mr. Sandwich, what will you do when you discover that many humans are pawns?

    Pawns of what, or whom? And even if so why would that make an iota of difference to me?

  30. Yes Stewart, I have children who are now adults in their twenties. The quotes you posted about teaching children to follow the right way are just a simple truth that all decent parents already know. Do we raise our children to be thieves from the cradle? To be prostitutes? No. It’s human nature to want the best for our children. Certainly sometimes this goes all wrong. Parents are imperfect humans under stress and mucking their way through conflicts in life and trying not to perpetuate aspects of their own imperfect upbringing. I feel that keenly in my own imperfect parenting. When I observe other parents who are supremely confident in their own supremely perfect parenting I immediately feel pity for their children. What a burden that must be.

    I can tell you from experience that when our children can understand it – they can benefit from honest confession of these imperfections. It was a great relief to me when I could review incidents from the past that I thought I’d done less than perfect parenting. A few shaky apologies from me prompted understanding from them about the conflicts that we worked through. I believe this process can help kids move into a smoother transition to adulthood and promote a relationship with their parents that is more like friendship than authoritarian pecking order parenting like what I grew up with. Stewart, if you’ve mangled your close family relationships then now is the time to fix them. Take stock of your mistakes (and successes) and have the courage to be honest. Take your lumps and make repairs. This is how we help kids to find the “right way”.

    When the topic of right and wrong comes up with atheists and the religious, I’ve realized that the religious don’t understand how we can follow the “right way” without the rules, obligations and dictates that come (in their opinion) straight from God. If that’s all they’ve ever heard, along with constant slanders against those who don’t believe in their particular version of God’s word, then I understand that they must be mystified over how atheists manage to stay out of jail and don’t manage to slaughter each other on a constant basis. But what I hope you will learn about us is that we DO have a system of deciding right from wrong, good from bad and valuable from not valuable. This is all made clear from studying ethics, humanism, naturalism, principles of human rights and animal rights and all of the pragmatic philosophy of the Enlightenment. This is a large body of writing and I know you’re thinking – children don’t read that! True, but this is what our kids grow up learning as told to them by us. Along with these ideas we encourage critical thinking skills so they can go into the world with a cognitive toolbox full of skeptical thinking tools.

    I wanted my kids to be grounded in the here and now and to feel connected to the family, then the community, the region, the West and to be a citizen of the world as well. My kids travel everywhere and take the best from wherever they go.

  31. Stewart B #1
    Oct 2, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    The Christians just want people to give their God of Abraham a close and careful look before to decide on any other belief.

    No they don’t. They insist that everyone worships their god or they’ll go to hell for eternity. And god instructs his followers to slaughter anyone they meet who worships someone else.

    You are disingenuous beyond the point of anyone being able to give you the benefit of the doubt. You distort and cherry pick from the goat herders guide to the galaxy to give the impression it’s all touchy-feely and people have a choice and hey, no pressure when it’s actually a vile set of commands which if you disobey you are tortured for.

    If you have a shred of honesty try and look at what you write and how absurd and untrue it is.

  32. Stewart B #1
    Oct 2, 2018 at 7:26 pm
    Secularism is a religion of sorts, because it is not based on some outside force,

    Absurd. Religions are by definition based on an outside force, a god. To reverse this into things that are NOT based on an outside force are religions is ridiculous. They are the opposite of that. You lie so shamelessly. Are you not embarrassed by yourself?

  33. Pawns of those supernatural dudes that you can’t see. You know, like you can’t “see” an emotion like anger except through expression. But you know it.

  34. Stewart B #30
    Oct 8, 2018 at 6:47 pm

    There is a wealth of piratical instruction in the bible. Also we have to remember that the NT is a new covenant with man. I think it was Alan who said that Jesus didn’t come to change the law.

    Nope! Alan was the one who pointed out that none of the New Testament was written by the named authors – with the possible exception of Saul/Paul, who never met the Jesus person he describes, except perhaps in one of his epileptic visions during a fit! He was however a Roman citizen, and as such could wander around the empire with impunity, preaching to various early Christian sects.

    This is true, he came to complete it. However to honestly accept Jesus is a deep experience that changes one’s way of thinking.

    I am sure you have come to sincerely believe that, but there is no historical evidence to support any of it. There are just a few relics of ancient mythology with various contradictory stories from different Christian sects.

    Yes, there are some very powerful groups that twist the meaning of what Christ wanted

    There are indeed almost as many versions and interpretations of these stories, as there are believers!

    and is scary to me because using their views to control masses of people would surly anger God!

    It can be scary because gullible followers can be easily manipulated into becoming cannon fodder acting on the orders of dictators and war-lords and their chaplains. Gods are just the delusions indoctrinated into their heads to manipulate them, but the damage they do is real, and can be massive!

    I believe there is little reason to be afraid of Him, but one would surly be to mislead people, because to him all belong to Him.

    That is the difference between you and me. You clearly do belong to the god delusion implanted in your brain.
    Mine was put firmly in its cage when I matured into a rational thinker as a teenager, and has been no bother since, while it atrophied away and has been long forgotten.

    When you see passages in the bible that say to “Fear God” it means to take Him very seriously.

    Consequently I have no need to fear the delusion or need take it seriously, so I can concentrate on keeping a clear objective view of the world, with a mind free of gods or superstitions.

    That only needs to be outright terror if you do things that not only ruin you, but take others with you at the same time. This, I would be afraid of.

    I have no terrors, and live a happy god-free existence with good relations with friends family and neighbours, taking care to avoid making damaging mistakes which harm people.

    When you base your thinking on faith in “interpretations” of ancient mythological texts, there can be thousands of deeply held conflicting world-views, with a huge diversity of forms of god-delusions in the brains of the believers of the world, and for most, or all of them, THEIRS is THE true one, – or two or more!

    Without the use of science to investigate and correct mistakes, people can, and will, believe almost anything! – and without evidence and reason to resolve questions, they will fight each other to the death over conflicting views! – Hence religious wars or killings for “blasphemy”!!

    Have a look at the links @#25!

  35. Moderator, was my comment to Oliun considered preaching too? PS thanks for the heads up on the email. I missed your reply because I sent the question from another account. My Bad 🙂

  36. Stewart I have some questions for you because I have learned that if you don’t actually start discussions by pinning faith heads down on what they believe then they wriggle and squirm and change their story every time something becomes uncomfortable for them to answer. So do you believe the following.

    1) That your god is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and infallible?
    2) That the bible is the word of god, albeit maybe written by humans who were under his control or guidance so as to write his own words?
    3) That the bible is therefore also true and infallible in its entirety?

    If not then what do you believe in respect of the above?

  37. Stewart #41

    Moderator, was my comment to Oliun considered preaching too?

    No, it wasn’t, and we’re not sure why it’s disappeared. The system is occasionally a little erratic, but we’ve checked both the Spam and the Trash sections, and your reply to Olgun isn’t there. Sorry. Feel free to repost it if you can remember what you wrote.

  38. Allan;

    When you base your thinking on faith in “interpretations” of ancient mythological texts, there can be thousands of deeply held conflicting world-views, with a huge diversity of forms of god-delusions in the brains of the believers of the world, and for most, or all of them, THEIRS is THE true one, – or two or more!

    Yes, like the Trojan horse! who would have thought we could use that as modern day spies and undercover infiltration?
    You are also correct about interpretations. Faith has to be based on truth. Unfortunately what we believe is not always truth, which can only be discovered and never changes although we do. So, in many ways we both rely on philosophies, which has always driven science to prove them out. It is simply that what you call my myth tells me that this round and round has happened before. i.e. there is nothing new under the sun. Since there are ancient artifact we have dug up that have some mechanical or mathematical purpose that we yet do not understand I am inclined to believe that there is truth in that statement. It it truth we haven’t discovered the answers to or is it truth answered bu not believed? Wonderfully intriguing question.

  39. Mr Sandwich

    1) That your god is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and infallible?
    2) That the bible is the word of god, albeit maybe written by humans who were under his control or guidance so as to write his own words?
    3) That the bible is therefore also true and infallible in its entirety?

    yes I do
    Yes to that also
    Yes inerrant
    However I have to include that there is much depth to the Word, this is why there are so many ways people have tried to explain it for example the KJV is not easy for those trying to get the kings English, but I believe it is the goto for clarity in English. The best clarity comes from study of the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages so that you understand the nuances of the language. For example, there are many ways to use English that people from other countries just don’t get, so it sound funny to us when they try to use some words in a sentence, but we understand what they are trying to say even with a smile 🙂 But they don’t understand why we think it is funny.

  40. Stewart B #39
    Oct 8, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    Pawns of those supernatural dudes that you can’t see. You know, like you can’t “see” an emotion like anger except through expression. But you know it.

    The “supernatural” is your shorthand for something we can’t actually see, hear, touch or otherwise determine or prove the existence of in our physical universe. It therefore does not exist to all realistic intents and can be ignored. Your analogy with anger is false and easily disproveable. We are alerted to anger by the physical manifestations of the person experiencing it. Facial expression, their words or actions. If there are none of these physical manifestations to observe then we have no idea what someone’s emotional state is. Pick anyone you know who is not present with you at the moment and try and determine if they are angry. You can’t until they are present and reveal that anger. So anger does indeed manifest in our universe and so is a normal part of that universe and nothing whatsoever to do with your supernatural.

    Many things are invisible. Electricity, gravity, magnetism. But we know they exist from their physical manifestations on our universe. Anything which cannot be observed from its physical manifestations on our universe is irrelevant to me and my life, such as your imaginary god.

    I feel sorry for you that you are doomed to waste your life praying to a non existent sky pixie instead of taking responsibility for your life by yourself. What a waste of time and energy.

  41. Laurie

    Yes Stewart, I have children who are now adults in their twenties. The quotes you posted about teaching children to follow the right way are just a simple truth that all decent parents already know. Do we raise our children to be thieves from the cradle? To be prostitutes? No. It’s human nature to want the best for our children. Certainly sometimes this goes all wrong. Parents are imperfect humans under stress and mucking their way through conflicts in life and trying not to perpetuate aspects of their own imperfect upbringing. I feel that keenly in my own imperfect parenting. When I observe other parents who are supremely confident in their own supremely perfect parenting I immediately feel pity for their children. What a burden that must be.

    That is wonderful Laurie, we both have empty nests. My point was that there is a lot of the sense you speak of without the benefit of today’d child and adult psychologists. This may be an indication that there is more than a mythical story at hand. Strangely enough, it was when I tried to adhere to thos values that my children had the most respect for me. I have apologized for my lapses in life, but they say that they were mostly unaffected by them since they were usually in the privacy of my room. Of course there is always the chance they are just being nice. But I think they know my heart, which is what I think is important. Off and headed home now. All please have a nice evening.

  42. Stewart B #13
    Oct 8, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    My Grandchildren understand that This is my belief, but their Dad is an Atheist. So, I set an example for them. I let them know what I believe because I will not lie to them.

    No you set no example. You promote your own selfish agenda knowing full well it is contrary to their actual parent’s wishes. That is a disgusting interference in something that is none of your damn business and I hope their father stops you meddling in his children’s lives.

    I also make sure they respect and understand their father’s beliefs since he is their father, and I don’t have the right to cause, or even attempt to cause enmity between them.

    Weasel words. Stay out of their business and keep your faith delusions to yourself before your son bans you from having any access to your grandchildren.

  43. Stewart B #44
    Oct 8, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    Allan;

    When you base your thinking on faith in “interpretations” of ancient mythological texts, there can be thousands of deeply held conflicting world-views, with a huge diversity of forms of god-delusions in the brains of the believers of the world, and for most, or all of them, THEIRS is THE true one, – or two or more!

    Yes, like the Trojan horse! who would have thought we could use that as modern day spies and undercover infiltration?

    Yes the activities of infiltrating god-delusions are becoming increasingly detectable and measurable as I was commenting here:

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2018/09/i-just-became-an-atheist-a-few-seconds-ago/#li-comment-234090

    You are also correct about interpretations. Faith has to be based on truth.

    “Faith” (belief without evidence or proof), can only be based on truth by happy coincidence. Without the checking and refuting of errors, by scientific methodology, anything can be believed.

    Unfortunately what we believe is not always truth, which can only be discovered and never changes although we do.

    What never changes is the underlying material laws of the universe, which are best described by objective scientific observations and inductive and deductive theories.

    So, in many ways we both rely on philosophies, which has always driven science to prove them out. I

    Natural philosophy was science before the term “scientist” was invented. While science examines and debunks or confirms claims – or says it does not know, if results are unclear, Scientists usually start with the evidence and follow it to conclusions, rather that starting with asserted notions.

    It is simply that what you call my myth tells me that this round and round has happened before. i.e. there is nothing new under the sun.

    That is true, but humans have been and still are making up myths and conspiracy theories, while present scientific knowledge far exceeds what most can envisage in their imaginations.

    Since there are ancient artifacts we have dug up that have some mechanical or mathematical purpose that we yet do not understand I am inclined to believe that there is truth in that statement.

    I am not aware of any such devices, but the ancient Greeks certainly had machines that many present day humans would fail to understand!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antikythera_mechanism

    It it truth we haven’t discovered the answers to or is it truth answered bu not believed? Wonderfully intriguing question.

    Nobody lives long enough to know “all the answers” but those who use modern technologies to aid study can find many answers, but need to know the boundaries of their knowledge.

    The scientific toolbox can critically examine artefacts and documents, to check on function, authenticity, date, forgery, structure or material content, and so confirm or refute, many claims about them.

    Science admits there are unknowns, and indeed seeks out boundaries of present knowledge as areas for further exploration and discovery.

    Where we should always be cautious, is when encountering the ignorant who make spurious claims such as “You don’t know”, so we do”! OR, “There are unknowns beyond this boundary, so we can make up anything we like and claim it is beyond refutation”! – Which it is, – due to a lack of definition and evidence, but that in no way validates such wild speculations.

    Of course frequently the “unknowns” are only beyond only “unknown” to their personal understanding and knowledge, and not unknown in the on-record information of which they are unaware!

  44. Alan,

    The problems arise when people DO understand other worlds views, and recognise just how crazy and unreal some of them are.
    Some of these can be discovered by debating on this RDFS site!
    Many people view religions in general through rosy spectacles as “something good for societies”, without ever inquiring about what other religions, cults, or sections of their own, actually do!

    But you would not know they are nuts if you didn’t try to understand their worldviews correct? No matter how ludicrous you may think they are, you still have to respect their right to have that view, even if you vehemently oppose it. Otherwise you would not know what you were opposing.

  45. Alan,

    What never changes is the underlying material laws of the universe, which are best described by objective scientific observations and inductive and deductive theories.

    I agree, but laws do not create truth or create anything. They simply describe.

  46. Stewart

    But you would not know they are nuts if you didn’t try to understand their worldviews correct?

    Why do you think that we don’t understand those world views? They’re not difficult to understand and as I’ve said before, many of us here have been brought up in religious families and communities. Since I’m a person who was brought up in the church for 16 or so years and also after that went to university to work on my B.S., I can say with confidence that the B.S. was the much more challenging material.

    Alan has described the scientific process and way of looking at the world but I want to add to that. Reading between the lines, could it be that you find this a cold and calculating process? In some ways it is like that. We need guarantees of objectivity as much as that is humanly possible, but after that, I want to tell you that scientists and atheists and all of our community really feel emotional pleasure and even something I’ll call transcendent beauty when in certain inspiring situations. I’m wary of the word “transcendent” because it also has a religious context that although I once felt that in church as a child, but it’s not God or Jesus that inspires it in me now. At times, mostly in nature, I feel all of my knowledge of biology, anatomy, geology, meteorology, astronomy and all of the science that I’ve managed to take into my puny brain after all of these years and it all comes together in the right environment to create this identical feeling of transcendence that you have described in your comments. Also many works of art can draw forth this same intense feeling.

  47. Stewart B #51
    Oct 9, 2018 at 11:36 am

    But you would not know they are nuts if you didn’t try to understand their worldviews correct? No matter how ludicrous you may think they are, you still have to respect their right to have that view, even if you vehemently oppose it.

    No I don’t respect anyone’s “right” to believe gibberish on faith alone. That tells me they are delusional and potentially dangerous. Delusional thinking lets such people disbelieve as easily in things which are fully supported by evidence like evolution and global warming as they do believe in things which aren’t supported by evidence like religion. That means they’ll make stupid and illogical decisions about things that affect us all.

    The world will only be a safe and rational place for all of us when religion has died out. I consider it a curse and a cancer on society.

  48. Stewart B #51
    Oct 9, 2018 at 11:36 am

    The problems arise when people DO understand other worlds views, and recognise just how crazy and unreal some of them are.
    Some of these can be discovered by debating on this RDFS site!
    Many people view religions in general through rosy spectacles as “something good for societies”, without ever inquiring about what other religions, cults, or sections of their own, actually do!

    But you would not know they are nuts if you didn’t try to understand their worldviews correct?

    Naturally it is necessary to know what their views are in order to evaluate them.

    No matter how ludicrous you may think they are, you still have to respect their right to have that view, even if you vehemently oppose it.

    One can respect the person and their right to personally hold particular views. That does not confer a right for them to inflict those views or the consequences of those views on others, or in ways which affect others or society as a whole.

    This is particularly so with dishonest views promoted as cons for profit, or delusional views from the mentally deranged. – Especially when such people enter the political arena specifically to promote errors and deceit!

    Otherwise you would not know what you were opposing.

    The track record, competence and honesty, of those promoting views can be legitimately taken into account.
    No scientists are going to invite Flat-Earthists to an astronomy conference, or Young-Earth Creationists to a geology or palaeontology conference! – regardless of any whingeing from delusional pseudo-scientists, or conspiracy theorists with inflated opinions of their own capabilities.

  49. Stewart B #52
    Oct 9, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    What never changes is the underlying material laws of the universe, which are best described by objective scientific observations and inductive and deductive theories.

    I agree, but laws do not create truth or create anything. They simply describe.

    Thee key issue is how accurately the descriptions can be confirmed (by repeat experiments and observations) to match the underlying reality.

    This is not just some fanciful story-telling!
    The world’s technologies work on our understanding of these laws, and when people make decisions based on “faith” instead of carrying out scientific tests or checks, they frequently become a central feature of accident investigation reports!

    With insufficient data, scientists are prepared to say they don’t know – but may offer some speculations; – which should always be labelled as such.

    That does not mean that wild claims which conflict with established known confirmed observations, cannot be refuted and thrown out!

  50. Stewart B #46
    Oct 8, 2018 at 8:37 pm

    @#42 – So do you believe the following.
    .3) That the bible is therefore also true and infallible in its entirety?

    yes I do

    There is a problem with that view from the very beginning!
    The shambolic accounts of the creation of the Earth in Genesis, with most of the sequential events in the wrong order, are utterly incompatible with the massively supported evidence of the formation of the Solar-System, the planets, the Earth-Moon System, and the subsequent evolution of the planet and its living systems.

    The error derives from the egocentric view of the Earth and humans, as the centre and central feature, of the “universe” which surrounded a flat Earth!!

  51. Sharing the author’s origins somewhat – Catholic family, Catholic schools staffed mostly by a Catholic religious order – I retain one core belief from their teachings, one that they were most insistent upon: ALL OTHER RELIGIONS ARE WRONG. Ranging from well meaning but mistaken or misguided to downright evil, the work of Satan even, but in every case, WRONG. No tickets to Heaven from any of them.

    Please excuse the caps it seems appropriate here.

    In my teens, troubled by Inconsistency, I upgraded my faith in that core teaching. I deleted the word OTHER. It’s a simpler belief, and it’s a lot more even handed, it does not discriminate. Also, it contains one of the key tenets of any other religion you care to mention — that the Catholics are wrong.

    I think that makes me even more Devoutly Religious than ever before. Maybe like Elrond I should start a Church of my own? It would, of course, be Wrong. But it could still be tax-exempt.

  52. @#4, Alan4

    It is always interesting to see how the religious are dismissively
    atheistic towards all gods and religions other than their own, but
    don’t seem able to take the last step in discarding the remaining one
    they have been indoctrinated to follow.

    Sorry, I sped thru the comments above before posting my own. I missed this. That’s what I was meaning, only Alan put it better. Thanks Alan.

  53. @Ark #54

    The world will only be a safe and rational place for all of us when
    religion has died out. I consider it a curse and a cancer on society.

    Yes, it’s no help at all in dealing with the big stuff: To quote some Scripture…

    Their children kneel in Jesus till

    They learn the price of nails

    Whilst all around our Mother Earth

    Waits balanced on the scales

    OK, not quite Scripture. King Crimson, In the Wake of Poseidon.

  54. Stewart B #46
    Oct 8, 2018 at 8:37 pm

    1) That your god is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and infallible?
    2) That the bible is the word of god, albeit maybe written by humans who were under his control or guidance so as to write his own words?
    3) That the bible is therefore also true and infallible in its entirety?

    yes I do
    Yes to that also
    Yes inerrant

    Then you have an awful lot of problems to explain if you want to try and keep believing what you claim you do. The bible is full of mistakes and contradictions. Just google for “bible errors” or similar. Pretty shoddy work for an infallible being. There are also thousands of different religious denominations who have spent the last couple of thousand years arguing about what the bible means. You yourself said earlier how wrong the silly catholics are on some points. I hope you realise how hilarious it is to we atheists when theists bicker about how wrong each others beliefs are but without any ability to realise that applies to their own as well. If god is omniscient and infallible how come he couldn’t write his own workshop manual well enough for people to understand it properly? BTW you don’t get to wriggle out by claiming it’s people’s fault for being imperfect and not god’s for being unclear. God is omniscient; he should know perfectly well the comprehensional ability of the humans he supposedly created. But he’s still too dumb to write a book at their level of understanding?

    Even the most cursory examination of this tells a rational person that no supernatural infallible being was at work here. The bible is unclear because it’s the fictional work of fallible humans. There are also so many different versions of the bible. Even if we assume that one of these is perfect then all the others can’t be. What about the apocrypha of 14 books that just got deleted? Were they part of the perfect version or were they surplus baggage from yet another faulty version? Can’t have it both ways I’m afraid. That’s not even getting into how the Old Testament was so unpallatable it had to be superceded by the bible v2.0 of the NT. Your infallible god sure made a mess of the OT eh?

    If being omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent are necessary attributes of a god then it’s easy enough to show that these are impossible. Can god make a rock so large even he can’t move it? Either way he’s not omnipotent. Can he design a puzzle so complex even he can’t solve it? He’s not looking good on omniscient either now. Quantum theory tells us that it’s impossible to know both the position and momentum of an elementary particle with perfect precision. Just looking at the particle affects things and knowing one thing precludes knowing the other. Even a god, if he interacts with this universe can’t be omniscient.

    Theists tend not to bother thinking too hard about what omniscient even means. It’s not just about tallying the fall of every sparrow. To be truly omniscient you would need to know the position and momentum of every particle in the universe at every instant in time from the beginning of the universe to the end, past as well as future. Every single Planck unit of time that’s an entire universe’s worth of data, changing completely each 5 x 10-44 seconds for trillions of years. Information theory tells us that information needs to be stored somehow and that takes a certain minimum amount of space. You can’t store information any more effectively than using the scale of the smallest particles to store info about those particles. So to store an almost infinite number of Planck snapshots of our universe would take the space of an almost infinite number of other universes. You certainly couldn’t store all that information in the universe it pertains to. But of course your god is magic when it suits you so the laws of physics don’t apply to him if you just wave a magic wand and sweep them away.

    In fact to even start to try and believe in the existence of a god requires sweeping away everything we know is correct about our universe. Occam’s Razor says that’s not the most likely explanation of anything. I have no interest in sweeping away everything we know is true in order to delude myself into believing something that’s vanishingly unlikely to be possible is true. So no I can’t PROVE that no god exists given a sufficient suspension of logical beliefs but the overwhelming weight of evidence says one doesn’t, and can’t.

    As soon as you truly realise how improbable or impossible a god is then the rest of the pack of cards tumbles down too. But even then we could continue with how utterly impossible the Noah’s Ark story is. 8 people kept pairs of every species on earth and fed, watered and removed their excrement on a tiny boat far too small to even hold them all nevermind their food? Pull the other one. It’s got huge bells on.

    We don’t disbelieve your religion, and all the others because it’s just our own “belief” or because atheism is some sort of religion. We simply find a complete lack of evidence for it and a huge amount of evidence saying it’s impossible. Because we are rational and not delusional we stay on the side of the weight of evidence as we try to do with all things in life.

    I know full well though from long discussions with other religious fundamentalists that they are incapable of logical thought though. They are too brainwashed and too deluded to be rational. Oh they tell themselves and others they seek truth and believe in evidence but every time some inconvenient evidence has to be considered it just gets swept under the rug because when your only starting point is that your religion is true and anything that contradicts it MUST be false then you don’t dare actually look at evidence properly. It might cause you to lose your faith which is the thing that all theists live their lives being terrified of. The carrot of heaven and the stick of hell has you caught in a trap which precludes logic.

    You are doomed to live your life out praying to a god which doesn’t exist, hoping to go to an imaginary heaven and terrified of losing your faith and going to an imaginary hell. But of course when you have no faith you don’t believe in hell anymore and there is no fear. Just the enjoyment of this wonderful universe we get a few score years to live in and have to make the best of.

  55. Stuart#44

    You are also correct about interpretations. Faith has to be based on
    truth.

    And truth can only be based on EVIDENCE!

    You clearly believe in a god in which you can pray to to make good things happen. OK – so how do you explain babies being born with terminal illnesses such as cancer or mitochondrial disease whose short lives have to be terminated to avoid unavoidable pain and discomfort. Or what about natural disasters that don’t discriminate who perishes including the very young and very old. Where is your god in such situations? If he/she/it is compassionate enough (in your belief) to help you when you’re feeling ‘down’ why isn’t he/she/it much more visible in helping mankind where it really matters? There are even instances in which churches full of people showing devotion to their god were destroyed by an earthquake thereby killing all those inside! I repeat – where is your god – indeed, where is the actual evidence for your god to make it true in your mind?

  56. Stewart B #46
    Oct 8, 2018 at 8:37 pm

    However I have to include that there is much depth to the Word,

    When you read it with your god goggles on maybe but when you look at it with a rational and non brainwashed mind it’s just the ramblings of bronze age goat herders with nothing to say about our modern world and very little of interest to say about their ancient one. It contains no physics, no chemistry, no cosmology other than what they could see with the naked eye and misinterpreted as being an earth that everything revolved around.

    The rules for how people should behave are mostly obscene. Kill all gays, kill anyone who doesn’t worship me, kill kids who swear at their parents. The one thing they did know by virtue of standing on the shoulders of many who had invented religions from scratch before them was how to suck people in and scare them into not leaving. The carrot of heaven and the stick of hell. Faith is more important than evidence because of course no religions have any evidence to put forward but if you can find people dumb enough to believe that blind faith (gullibility) is an actual virtue you can make them swallow anything no matter how ludicrous.

  57. Arkrid Sandwich #65
    Oct 10, 2018 at 5:04 am

    When you read it with your god goggles on maybe
    but when you look at it with a rational and non brainwashed mind
    it’s just the ramblings of bronze age goat herders
    with nothing to say about our modern world
    and very little of interest to say about their ancient one.

    . . . and it is frequently “interpreted”, re-written , edited or embellished, to meet the requirements of the sect concerned – as is the case with “fundamental beliefs” such as the Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, and Islamic versions of THE “10 Commandments”!

    http://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/2007/03/chart-comparing-the-ten-commandments.aspx

    Jewish and Protestant version on idolatry

    Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; Thou shalt not bow down unto them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; And showing mercy unto the thousandth generation of them that love Me and keep My commandments.

    Catholic Version on idolatry (blank)

    Islamic version:

  58. Stewart

    Religion can be a source of great personal comfort.

    When you are at your lowest ebb, when you feel you’ve made a mess of everything, when you feel like a failure and that you always will be, when you feel you’ve been rejected by friends and family or that, even if you haven’t, you deserve to be, then the idea that there’s an all-powerful, all-loving god who will carry you, enfold you, comfort you and protect you; whose love and concern for you will never falter no matter what; in whose sight you are still precious, despite everything; who can wipe out your past and give you a new future; who has a purpose for you and will take all these terrible experiences you’ve been having and turn them into something ultimately good and meaningful, and that one day you’ll see that all this was for a higher purpose – it all has tremendous emotional and psychological appeal to people in a susceptible mental state. And many people will therefore cling to it, desperately, and are perfectly willing to swallow all the claims that go with it, however bizarre or illogical, unwilling to question or doubt any of it for fear of having to relinquish the emotional shield that belief has given them.

    I can totally understand that, and I don’t despise it or them. Life can be tough, and we all get through it as best we can. There is far more understanding these days of just how many people struggle with their mental health, and just how devastating those struggles can be. As Laurie rightly said several comments ago: whatever gets you through. And if you were just quietly going about your business, buoyed up by your beliefs, that would be fine by me and I wouldn’t seek you out to disabuse you of them.

    But you aren’t. You have sought us out, either to test your own beliefs, or to try to convince us of the truth of them. And that’s a completely different matter. “My beliefs give me comfort and are important to me”, I accept totally. “My beliefs are true”, I do not.

    People who believe that the intensity of their emotional responses to Christianity is evidence enough of its truth overlook the fact that followers of other religions also experience such intense emotions. To the sannyasi devoting his life to religious asceticism and devotion, for example, Hinduism has precisely the same emotional, life-changing power. There are many examples across multiple religions and traditions – not all of them involving belief in a deity – of followers achieving a state of mental ecstasy. Such states certainly tell us something about human psychology but nothing whatsoever about the truth of the claims or beliefs that underlie them. Which should be a statement of the obvious, given the enormous differences and outright contradictions between those claims and beliefs.

    Similarly, like many of the Christians who pitch up here, you have been quick to deny the relevance or truth of anything that conflicts in any way with your own version of Christian belief. Only your version is true-with-a-capital-T.

    I would simply ask you to reflect honestly on the fact that every single version of Christianity – catholic, protestant, pentecostal, evangelical, calvinist, presbyterian, orthodox, trinitarian, unitarian; universalist; liberal; conservative; sabbatarian; those emphasising love, peace, forgiveness, compassion; those emphasising punishment, vengeance, fear, obedience; those that believe hell is a real place of physical torture; those that believe it is simply an absence of God; those that do not believe in it at all; those that are Young Earth, 6-day creationist; those that accept evolution to a greater or lesser extent; the biblical literalists vs the bible-as-metaphor; those that preach the prosperity gospel; those that preach Christian socialism – every single one of them is using precisely the same materials to justify their own beliefs too. Every single one of them points to the Bible in support of its own stance (and finds excuses to dismiss the bits that don’t fit it). And every single one of them believes they have direct access to God in the form of prayer and that God guides and directs them in some way.

    You all have the same sources. You all, supposedly, open yourselves up to God and are willing to be directed by him. You all, supposedly, give him every opportunity to do so – through prayer and bible study and reflection. Let’s accept for the sake of argument that you are all sincere. That you all genuinely want to know God as he really is. If the God you all believe in really existed and could really be known by humans, wouldn’t you expect humans who devote their whole lives to knowing him to have a rather more consistent view of him? And yet look at you all! Those different strands I listed above are so mutually contradictory, in reality they are virtually different religions, worshipping gods with completely different traits, priorities and characters.

    I understand your resistance to it, but this really should give you pause for thought. What makes your version true, and theirs less true? And, most importantly of all, how do you know? Remember, all those others spend time ‘listening to God’ too. What source do you have that all those others – equally devout, equally receptive to messages from God, yet who see him quite differently – do not?

  59. Marco #67
    Oct 10, 2018 at 8:12 am

    Religion can be a source of great personal comfort.

    So when the alcohol and the opiates of the drug-dealers fail,
    the salesmen of the “opium of the people” are quick to recognise a market for pseudo solutions to life’s problems, and seek advantage from co-operative subjugation of populations on behalf of elitist rulers.

  60. Twelve step programs such as AA and its clones require their members to put their fate in God’s hands. Beg and grovel to the almighty for a cure to their addiction. Then, if they achieve sobriety they praise God for this miracle but if they fail in their sobriety time after time, do they blame God for that?

    As my friend in my comment above realized, there was no outside, magical intervention that got her sober finally. She credits her own stubborn resilience. This indicates that she has developed an internal locus of control instead of an external one.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locus_of_control

    Now with discussions of free will I’m always thinking about how much of our lives are within our capacity to control and my answer at this time is -not much. But even if I don’t have much in the way of free will as I suspect, it’s still better than assigning my life and fate over to an imaginary entity in the sky!

    I hope Stewart will achieve a good solid year or two in his current religious program but then move toward a secular program that shifts him away from the external locus to the more internal one and includes science based therapies for addiction. America is sadly way behind the times on our addiction treatment methods. The public is mostly unaware of the difference between AA and science based therapy and that’s why AA twelve step programs dominate the scene although they have abysmal track records.

  61. In the Atheist Experience shows the host Matt Dillahunty usually starts by asking theists if faith can lead to beliefs that are untrue as well ones that are true. It’s hard for theists to claim the followers of other religions, who also act on faith, believe in things that are untrue without also admitting that faith can lead you to untruth but it’s fun watching them wriggle. Next step is to admit that faith is therefore not a path to truth. Then they say “oh well but but but my TRUE faith is a path to truth. All the other religions only have untrue faith” whatever TF that is. I’m an angler all my life but I’ve never seen a maggot wriggle on a hook as much as atheists trying to hold two different positions at the same time and not admit there’s anything wrong with their own blind faith.

    Faith is gullibility, nothing more, nothing less. Religions HAVE to claim it’s a virtue because they have nothing else to fall back on. Hence the doubting Thomas story. If you can persuade someone that gullibility is a good thing there’s not much else they won’t swallow. It’s kind of like a teacher trying to teach his class of kids that book lernin’ is bad juju n’kay.

  62. Alan#66

    ……….for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God……

    There seems to be a weakness in character there! Isn’t there a heavenly psychiatrist that could sort this out before he loses his stupendous power? 🙂

  63. Erol #71
    Oct 10, 2018 at 10:09 am

    There seems to be a weakness in character there!
    Isn’t there a heavenly psychiatrist that could sort this out before he loses his stupendous power?

    I don’t think there are any “heavenly psychiatrists”, but there are a few Earth bound ones, who along with some neuroscientists, are working on identifying god-delusions and MEASURING their power – which is likely to be confined to hiding, diverting the attention of those looking for them, seeking links with cloned god-delusions, and deluding and operating a puppet or team of puppets, – according to indications so far!

    https://news.yale.edu/2018/05/29/where-brain-processes-spiritual-experiences

    Activity in the parietal cortex, an area of the brain involved in awareness of self and others as well as attention processing, seems to be a common element among individuals who have experienced a variety of spiritual experiences, according to a study published online May 29 in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

    “Spiritual experiences are robust states that may have profound impacts on people’s lives,” said Marc Potenza, professor of psychiatry, of the Yale Child Study Center, and of neuroscience.
    Understanding the neural bases of spiritual experiences may help us better understand their roles in resilience and recovery from mental health and addictive disorders.”

    Spiritual experiences can be religious in nature or not, such as feeling of oneness in nature or the absence of self during sporting events.
    Researchers at Yale and the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Columbia University interviewed 27 young adults to gather information about past stressful and relaxing experiences as well as their spiritual experiences.
    The subjects then underwent fMRI scans while listening for the first time to recordings based on their personalized experiences.

  64. “absence of self during sports events”.

    I was pacing up and down at a petrol station wondering what I was going to do. My petrol tank was running on fumes and I tried to remember my credit card number as I was driving in and realised I couldn’t. There was a cash machine at the station and I decided to try there first if I could remember the number by going through the process. I couldn’t but my finger knew the sequence and punched in the right number. I still had no numbers in my head. I got some cash out as I was there, filled up and drove off smiling at what just happened. No out of body experience because I did not need to go there. The “self” seems to come at you from all ways.

  65. I know this thread has been focused on Stewart, but getting back to the original whatever it is (article, blog, post, someone’s diary, I don’t know), I was very curious to know how his family adapted to his atheism, and how he adapted his atheism to his family.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I was raised as an atheist, so there was never that indoctrinated baggage to have to overcome, or resentment at such a waste of time and energy, and there was never any tension at family get-togethers. I wonder how the author dealt with it.

  66. Hello all, I am afraid I was indisposed for a couple of days and missed all of this! Wow! Dearest Viki, This started with me commenting on someone else’s post that religion just didn’t work for them. I didn’t see a name to the post. Although you are right in thinking that the other posts seem to be focused on me, that is my fault. I was curious about how the people here processed life. I think I have seen anger, logic, science, compassion… The whole gambit of emotions and evidence of deep thought. Someone mentioned in the posts that I sought you folks out. This is 100% true. My motives may be misunderstood though. 🙂 I grew up as a little scientist. I questions everything! Because I was curious about all around me. I learned a lot! I eventually passed up my parents at a young age because of my intense curiosity. This is something that I think parents hope for. For their children to surpass them in “smarts” and thus success. God was in there too, mixed with superstition (OK Alan, Akrid, I know you would say there is no mix, it was all superstition)! That is ok. I haven’t lost my curiosity, I just direct more of it towards people now rather than other things because I believe that people are special, and different from any other thing in the cosmos that we know.
    About my seeking you out, that is not a place to evangelize as a Christian simply because no one asked! Everyone here appears to be past most of the major questions in life, and they are content to enjoy what “is” and see any other information as it becomes available. If that is what satisfies, then it is what it is.
    However, that does not satisfy my curiosity. I still want to understand people. So far, there is nothing said here that is not addressed in the book that I adhere to. The language might have changed, but the core of the message does not. No matter how we complicate it. I suppose I might think differently if I could not find the answers there, but I have not run into that as of yet, and the information is layered so deep that I will probably be physically dead before I am confident that I got it all:) And yet again, the core is simple. When you walk around, you get to know your way around your neighborhood. When yo get a bicycle, you learn your way around your community. A car may allow you to know the area fro hundreds of miles around. You can look it up, see pictures and books and now the web, but nothing quite beats going there! That is by journey now. I am learning about the neighborhood of folks around me, but my perspective and my projections take me far beyond what I see here. But that is me. As far as a person’s family dealing with a member being atheist I think the answer is simple. They are your family. If they develop different views of life, they don’t have to agree with yours, but you can all attempt to understand each other, and this doesn’t change the fact that they are family. Shunning someone, or shaming them, or berating them does not benefit anyone except maybe the ego of the one who berates, but that, like everything else is a temporary pleasure or victory depending how you look at it. If they are not family, the same really applies because they are part of a unique larger family of humans.

    MARCO, said:

    When you are at your lowest ebb, when you feel you’ve made a mess of everything, when you feel like a failure and that you always will be, when you feel you’ve been rejected by friends and family or that, even if you haven’t, you deserve to be, then the idea that there’s an all-powerful, all-loving god who will carry you, enfold you, comfort you and protect you; whose love and concern for you will never falter no matter what; in whose sight you are still precious, despite everything; who can wipe out your past and give you a new future; who has a purpose for you and will take all these terrible experiences you’ve been having and turn them into something ultimately good and meaningful, and that one day you’ll see that all this was for a higher purpose – it all has tremendous emotional and psychological appeal to people in a susceptible mental state. And many people will therefore cling to it, desperately, and are perfectly willing to swallow all the claims that go with it, however bizarre or illogical, unwilling to question or doubt any of it for fear of having to relinquish the emotional shield that belief has given them.

    Well MARCO, you have a point that is mostly hard to argue! This is addressed in the same book of alleged myths that I love to read. “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter heaven” This means that as long as you have the comforts of life, all of the offerings such as following Jesus are mostly off of the table because you feel you don’t need it. But to quote another old saying that is not part of scripture “There are no Atheists in foxholes” so, there is one of your ebbs! Cant really fight you on that one. The rest of it is timing. All of us are inextricably tied to time in our physical world, no matter what we believe, but the story is different in the next. So, in the minds of us who don’t believe there is a “next” we are content to wait, and enjoy what “is”. As an old man once told my cousin “That’s too close for me” but it does not stop me from enjoying what “is” I just believe there is …more 🙂

  67. Laurie, 12 step programs prompt you to believe in a “Higher Power”, whether it is God, or a door knob as long as you can look at it being outside yourself and superior. So I would say it is based on what happens in religion, but they have to account for those who just don’t believe in a God, and there are many! So there are some who are even at there “lowest ebb” as Marco says, that refuse to believe in God. However, when you “are” truly at your lowest, where is there to look but up? If you see a doorknob, then give it a shot! Kept me sober for 12 years.

  68. Akrid, you said:

    No you set no example. You promote your own selfish agenda knowing full well it is contrary to their actual parent’s wishes. That is a disgusting interference in something that is none of your damn business and I hope their father stops you meddling in his children’s lives.

    I think you misunderstand. By example I mean I treat them fairly, teach them kindness, and show them love. I don’t “Indoctrinate them” they are too young for that. But I answer questions related to my beliefs honestly. I don’t tell them that their Dad is wrong, I just tell them we have different ways of looking at the world, and that one day, they will develop theirs, but they should be aware of all of their options should they not? I mean even our colleges were called university for a reason. “unity in diversity” giving students an unbiased view of everything along with the supporting known facts of each subject. But that practice is now waning.

  69. Stewart

    If a more modern version of the book was written and offered all the good advise that equals those in your preferred book but left out the god delusion, would you trade up?

  70. Hello Olgun,
    You said:

    If a more modern version of the book was written and offered all the good advise that equals those in your preferred book but left out the god delusion, would you trade up?

    I would have to read the book to discover why you call it “trading up”. I watched the latest version of Poltergeist, but I did not find the quality anywhere near the original, even with better special effects. I could check out what you propose. Especially if you can offer me something that determines our “ought’s” that is outside of human or chemical intervention. Lead on…

  71. Stewart

    Was hoping you would lead the way as you are looking to move forward and understand people. In writing it, maybe you could understand me and allow for that and win me over because the current version isn’t doing it for me?

  72. Stewart B #75
    Oct 11, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    But to quote another old saying that is not part of scripture
    “There are no Atheists in foxholes” so, there is one of your ebbs!
    Can’t really fight you on that one.

    Sorry to disappoint you Stewart, but according to atheists who have been in foxholes, that is just another myth, made up by people who make stuff up according to their faith-preconceptions, rather than actually investigating the facts!

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/may/16/atheism-religion

    Oh yes, there are atheists in foxholes

    The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF), which I presently serve as president, represents atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers and other nontheists within the military. MAAF is based in the US, but includes members in Canada, Australia, and even Israel and Egypt.
    The UK Armed Forces Humanist Association similarly represents UK service members.

    Uncritically accepting and quoting such nonsense, is one of the hazards of using “faith-thinking” as a process to build your world view!

  73. Stewart B #75
    Oct 11, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    However, that does not satisfy my curiosity. I still want to understand people. So far, there is nothing said here that is not addressed in the book that I adhere to.

    That is what is sad about those who think the knowledge of the universe is contained in the little bubble of the doctrines of any one religion!

    They miss out on the other 99.9999999%

    The language might have changed, but the core of the message does not. No matter how we complicate it. I suppose I might think differently if I could not find the answers there, but I have not run into that as of yet, and the information is layered so deep that I will probably be physically dead before I am confident that I got it all:)

    You could spend eternity seeking answers from the bible, and never find the vast majority of those already discovered by science through studies of human populations, animal populations, rocks, oceans, planets , stars, and galaxies etc. That’s because they were not known to the bronze-age and iron-age writers and are not there!

    The detail achieved with the tools of science – telescopes, microscopes, scanners, multi-spectral analysis, and the fine detail of living organisms and living ecosystems, is far more inspiring than the verbal superstitious ramblings of bronze-age scribes, and tribes.

    As I was pointing out at #72, science is also well on the way to explaining the working of “gods” in the brains of believers – along with other details of brain function!

  74. Did I quote it from somewhere? I thought I said it was an old saying. Meaning that people have second thoughts when they feel they are about to die and their life flashes before their eyes. Did you speak with any of the folks in the association involved in a live combat situation where things didn’t look good, or better yet have you joined them in that sense? It is actually a reference to extreme stress, not a quote from an atheist in a foxhole 🙂

  75. Stuart

    I would appreciate your well considered comment in response to the obvious ‘failings of god’ as pointed out in my post of #64. Or would you rather just ignore a question that is difficult for you to answer?

  76. Stewart #84

    Meaning that people have second thoughts when they feel they are about
    to die and their life flashes before their eyes.

    If you think about this a moment, you’ll realise this is something you can’t possibly know. The most you can say is that some people have reported doing so. Those who actually were about to die … are dead and cannot report back on their feelings immediately before it happened. And those who merely thought they were about to die, didn’t give God a second thought, and lived to tell the tale … don’t, on the whole, tell the tale. What, after all, is there to tell? There are countless things such people didn’t think of at the point they thought they were about to die – why pick out God especially? I myself very nearly drowned once – I can assure you, the only thing I could think of was trying to get some air. Not a hint of a whisper of anything else. Do you really suppose I went running around afterwards telling people “Guess what, I came close to dying and I didn’t think of God once!”? Of course I didn’t. Why on earth would I? Any more than I’d have run round saying, “Guess what, I came close to dying and I didn’t think of brussels sprouts once!”, which would have been equally true.

    We’ve all encountered this many times before: attempts on the part of the religious to claim that, deep-down, we all believe in God really, even if we don’t realise it. I’ve literally heard Christians trying to claim that expressions such as “Oh God! I’ve left the iron on!” are a tacit admission that we believe in God really. (They’re not, of course: they’re figures of speech. “Oh God!” in this context is merely the equivalent of “Oh shit!”)

    How low you set your evidential bar.

  77. Marco #86

    I nearly drowned in Barbados. Had I turned to god to save me, I would have been fish food. Instead, at nearly the moment that I was about to give up and go down for the last time, I had the idea of if the waves are going in and the undercurrent is going out, I need to use the power of the waves to take me back to shore. I laid flat on the surface when felt the undercurrent on my feet and let the waves bash me about and take me back a bit at a time. I came out a mile down the beach but the plan worked. I can’t say it was clear in my head all the time I was being tossed about but I was thinking of my wife sitting on the beach and needed to get back and not give up.

  78. Erol #85

    Stuart

    I would appreciate your well considered comment in response to the
    obvious ‘failings of god’ as pointed out in my post of #64. Or would
    you rather just ignore a question that is difficult for you to answer?

    Quite. I also note that in Stewart’s wall of words in #75, there is nothing that specifically answers my question in #67.

    Stewart:

    We do notice when you dodge questions, you know.

    Here is my question again:

    What makes your version true, and theirs less true? And, most
    importantly of all, how do you know? Remember, all those others spend
    time ‘listening to God’ too. What source do you have that all those
    others – equally devout, equally receptive to messages from God, yet
    who see him quite differently – do not?

    There’s not the slightest point simply repeating religious claims in here. They are of no interest. Without some reason to treat them as true, they are irrelevant. No one here accepts something as being true, simply because of a verse in the Bible or something stated from a pulpit. No one’s going to accept it as true just because you or someone else claim it. If you are to make any headway here (and – just as importantly – not just to waste our time), you need to find something OUTSIDE the Bible, OUTSIDE Christian teaching, that points to its truth. The idea that you can convince anyone of the truth of the Bible and Christian teachings simply by citing the Bible and Christian teachings is a religious claim in itself. It is a wholly circular argument that depends on the Bible and Christian teaching actually being true. And that is the very point of contention here.

    Seriously, all your arguments so far have been entirely self-referential. Either statements of your beliefs, which you have attempted to back up with more statements of your beliefs. Or outpourings of how your beliefs make you feel, why you find them personally satisfying. To which, with the best will in the world, I can only reply: So what? Your emotional responses, while clearly important to you personally, are evidence of nothing but your emotional responses.

    All the earnestness and twisting and turning and loquaciousness and weasel words and dodging in the world (even when dressed up as “curiosity”) will get you nowhere in here. The only thing you can do to make any headway with us at all (and that won’t be wasting our time as well as your own) will be to provide some proper evidence of the TRUTH of your claims. You’ll have to start with proper, stands-up-to-objective-scrutiny evidence for the existence of ANY god. We can then move onto the question of its identity in stage 2.

    By the way, I’m not falling for your “curiosity” line either, and I’d be very surprised if anyone else is.

    If you were genuinely simply curious to know how atheists tick, pouring out screeds and screeds of stuff about how lovely Christianity is would seem a highly odd way to go about it. You’d be able to satisfy your curiosity a lot better by simply reading what we strange atheists write about stuff. By following the discussions. By asking for clarification here and there. But that’s not what you’re doing. You’re trying to do a sales job for Christianity while trying to get round the site rules that prohibit it.

    Well, there’s only one way to do that: EVIDENCE, please. If we wanted to be preached at, we’d go to church. And if preaching at us worked, we wouldn’t be atheists: or do you really think you’re the first to try it?

  79. Stewart B #84
    Oct 11, 2018 at 5:53 pm

    Did I quote it from somewhere? I thought I said it was an old saying.

    You must have heard it somewhere, and the best known sources are preachers trying to impress their flocks, while pretending that atheists are unprepared for, and unable to cope with, stressful situations- along evangelical politicians seeking votes from the faithful while pretending that prayer will provide the answers they lack!!

    Meaning that people have second thoughts when they feel they are about to die and their life flashes before their eyes. Did you speak with any of the folks in the association involved in a live combat situation where things didn’t look good, or better yet have you joined them in that sense?

    There are atheists from foxholes whose statements are on record, and they are still atheists.
    For myself , there are a number of times when I faced possible death – (such as when I was jockeying a disintegrating car to a stop before it could somersault into oncoming traffic), and gods never crossed my mind.

    It is actually a reference to extreme stress, not a quote from an atheist in a foxhole.

    The quotes don’t come from atheists who have been in foxholes!
    They are made up by frightened believers who have been fervently praying and crossing themselves in foxholes, and who have no concept of how other people react more constructively to stress!

    If you are on an aircraft in difficulty, I think we know which pilot you would choose, between one wrestling with the controls and planning an emergency landing, or one on his knees with with eyes closed fervently praying!

  80. Olgun #87

    It’s a terrifying experience, isn’t it? Having been somersaulted over and over again beneath the water by the violent waves, I somehow managed to push myself up for air and then saw an even bigger wave rolling towards me, a real monster. I knew that if I didn’t somehow manage to get myself on top of that wave, I was completely finished. By this stage I was all but done in already, but that raw instinct for survival clicked in and I somehow managed to summon every last ounce of strength and hurl myself upwards so that the wave picked me up and threw me at the shore, rather than crashing over me and sending me spinning beneath the water yet again. Exactly as with you, there was no space or time for thinking of anything other than survival. Every last drop of focus and energy is directed at that. There’s simply nothing spare for fanciful thoughts.

  81. Stewart B #75
    Oct 11, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    However, that does not satisfy my curiosity.
    I still want to understand people.

    . . . . . and yet you have produced no response to my links suggesting or explaining the thinking of those in other religions (such as Orthodox Jews ‘#16)!
    You seem totally preoccupied with thinking within the very limited boundaries your own version of Christianity!

    So far, there is nothing said here that is not addressed in the book that I adhere to.

    As I said earlier, I think that those who study modern science would find the explanation of the formation of the Earth in Genesis , to be woefully inadequate and simply wrong! No amount of studying Genesis is going to give you an understanding of astronomy or planet formation, or evolution. Nor is any other part of THE Bible, going to give you any understanding of modern medicine.

    Also, for someone who professes curiosity, there is a lack of response to the subject of the absence of ANY verified historical documents or artefacts, from the time of supposed New Testament events! As I explained in in response to your assertion in this other discussion:

    There are no evidenced “Christian documents” from the time stories of Jesus were supposedly happening! They were all written decades or centuries later – often in other languages!

  82. Marco#88

    No one’s going to accept it as true just because you or someone else
    claim it.

    It seems as if Stewart just cannot get over this hurdle!

  83. When my mom came to know that I just didn’t believe in God(s) she said that when the going became rough, then I’d realize how necessary God is for those terrible life tragedies and I’d go back to believing in God. But two years ago two first degree relatives died within two months of each other with both needing much care and attention for the year ahead of their deaths.

    In those frightening stressful times it never once occurred to me to force myself back to believing in God as I had as a child. If we don’t believe something exists then how can I produce belief in my brain at that point?

    Several well meaning people around me would make a serious point of telling me that they were praying all the time for the recovery of the two family members in medical peril. I understand that they were expressing deep concern and worry and when I’m in a state of exhaustion and panic like that it’s difficult to hold my temper with them. I feel bad about being snippy with them but I started ignoring the “I’ll pray for him” statements but I did answer some of them with “You go ahead and pray if it makes YOU feel better, meanwhile I have a meeting with the medical staff and a list of ten points that I need to get through with them.” Or sometimes I’d say “Sure, pray if you want but then I’ve got a list of things that I actually need help with that would make an actual difference if you want to help.

    When the going really did get rough and my two family members just couldn’t manage to stay alive anymore, I never once begged God for a happier ending for them or to alter the laws of nature in our favor. I never forced myself to believe that the dead were in a “better place” or a “worse place”. I made the funeral arrangements in a state of grief but with a clear mind and I wrote and gave the eulogy for both family members without the mention of God or heaven in either one.

    There are ways of dealing with stress and grief that don’t involve begging a supernatural entity for help and from my experience in times of trouble, the practical, goal oriented, compassionate ways are highly superior to the delusional begging God to spare themselves of grief and frightening emotions. How selfish is this appeal to the supernatural when there is a frightened ill person in front of us who needs care and emotional support more than ever. Praying in foxholes or praying at someone’s deathbed are useless, selfish, futile ways of trying to remove oneself from the extremely scary and upsetting reality of that moment. It’s weakness. Instead, use the brain in your head to understand the situation and create real strategies that will result in making a real difference.

  84. Erol #92

    It seems as if Stewart just cannot get over this hurdle!

    It does. But to be fair to him, nor can any other Christian who’s ever popped up here in the hope of persuading us to rethink our atheism (and whatever they may say, that’s always their real goal).

    I’m an ex-Christian myself. And I mean proper Christian – I really believed it all and it really mattered to me. It’s not too much to say that it used to be at the heart of my life. At the peak of my fervour, there’d have been nothing anyone could have said that could seriously have made me doubt it.

    So I kind of understand where they’re coming from. I still speak the lingo. The problem is, they have given over their lives to this story to such an extent that they simply have no conception of how weak and preposterous it seems to anyone who hasn’t surrendered themselves to it – or who has escaped it.

    For which reason I find the various Stewarts who’ve pitched up here over the years a complete waste of time. They’re not (yet) at a point where they’re receptive to reason. And they don’t have any grasp at all of what it would take to convince us. Every time they or we post a comment, we’re talking past each other. They have the words alright – they just have no idea how hollow they ring to anyone outside their bubble.

  85. Marco #94
    Oct 12, 2018 at 9:16 am

    they just have no idea how hollow they ring to anyone outside their bubble.

    So what finally broke through your own bubble?

  86. In a nutshell: simply realising that I had no good grounds for believing what I believed.

    That others who believed equally strongly in almost unrecognisably different versions of the Christian god were basing their beliefs on the same sources that I was.

    That my conclusions were therefore unsafe, and so were theirs.

    Thereafter scrutinising every word of every hymn/prayer/sacrament/sermon and asking myself, “Do I really believe this?” and realising just how much I’d simply gone along with, unquestioned, despite not literally believing it.

    Realising how many claims get slipped past congregations, thanks to the whole church aura. Seeing how the others in every congregation I was ever part of became utterly passive during services – how little they/we questioned what we heard. How little they/we actively listened and asked ourselves whether that was what we really believed. Being friends with clergy who were honest enough to admit that they didn’t believe XYZ either but had to go along with it just because … Admitting to myself that it had all been highly important to me emotionally, but simply couldn’t be justified intellectually.

    The thing is, truth and reality have always mattered to me. My faith at that time was hugely important to me, but only because I honestly believed it all to be true. Once I realised that I had no good grounds for that belief, that other devout Christians believed in versions of a god that I found both false and actively repugnant, but that were as well supported biblically etc as the very different version my church tradition believed in, honesty required me to relinquish it.

    I honestly think it all boils down to the questions, “But how do I know?” “What am I basing this on?” “And how reliable is that basis?”. Until someone is ready to ask themselves those questions honestly, I don’t think there’s much that can get through to them.

    And once someone has asked themselves those questions honestly, I don’t think there’s any going back.

  87. Marco #94
    Oct 12, 2018 at 9:16 am

    They have the words alright – they just have no idea how hollow they ring to anyone outside their bubble.

    If I had a penny for every theist who has told me I “should widen my horizons”, by studying “the extensive knowledge”, which they claim is in their little self-delusion bubble, I would be a millionaire!

    Some of them, know “all about gods outside of space and time”, even if they don’t know a galaxy from a universe or a solar-system!

  88. Marco#96

    Yours is an interesting ‘conversion’ based on making that long pondered rational judgement that religious belief was all pie-in-the-sky nonsense. In my case I was never ‘indoctrinated’ into Islam as a child. I was born in the UK from Turkish Cypriot parents who were kind of ‘armchair’ Muslims. They hardly ever went to a mosque unless someone had died, while my father regularly drank watered-down whisky as his favourite tipple. However my mother never cooked any pork dishes, but I had personally got over that prohibition long ago. One could make a health case for not eating pork in hot countries before the advent of modern farming methods, but that would surely no longer apply in the modern era, while also living in a cold climate. A close Jewish friend from school days was surprised when I told him of my liking for ham and bacon dishes such as penne carbonara a few months ago. He of course still follows the ‘rules’. So in my case a conversion was never necessary. The whole religion thing just seemed to be so irrelevent to my life in general from early childhood.

  89. LaurieB#93

    Several well meaning people around me would make a serious point of
    telling me that they were praying all the time for the recovery of the
    two family members in medical peril.

    Are most of the people you’re acquainted with still serious in their religious beliefs, or are there signs of a switching off after the numerous school killings as well as recent natural disasters in the U.S.? I notice that for the former Trump is very keen to recommend praying as a way of soothing the horrendous grief that was inflicted (instead of addressing the gun issue).

  90. oh Erol, how I wish I could tell you that the devout Americans are learning their lesson and developing some astonishing skeptical thinking skills but in truth, I can’t say it. There is a great upwelling of evangelical passion and with encouragement from Trump & Co. they feel the wind at their backs. It’s currently the victory of two right to life Supreme Court Justices. Also with son-in-law Kushner having his way with the Israel/Palestine situation the evangelicals have the rapture in their sights.

    The school gun slaughters get some airtime on the nightly news but quickly fade away or one shooting replaces the last. Seems like we have a shooting every week. Florida has passed some minor gun restrictions but even after the Las Vegas disaster, nothing was done! Bump stocks still legal even though that is what allowed that shooter to perpetrate that slaughter. I just don’t have any hope that we will ever deal with the repulsive gun problem in this place. This feels hopeless.

    I will end with an up note if I can; except for the pockets of extremist fundamentalists, I know that the young people are much less religious than they used to be. Religiosity is declining with them because they can’t tolerate the sexism, racism and general intolerance that goes with it and their baby boomer parents just didn’t enforce Sunday school and church attendance like the older generation definitely did.

    By the way, your comment 98 reveals you to be in the exact spot that my kids are. Their dad is also a checked out Muslim who likes an icy cold beer and has given up the hassle of Ramadan. He won’t eat pork because he was raised to believe it’s filthy and infested with parasites and this may be impossible to extinguish, but when our kids tuck into a pile of bacon he couldn’t care less.

    I had a jewish friend way back in college and we’d go over to the nice sandwich shop for lunch. We must have ordered ham sandwiches because between bites she said that I wasn’t to tell her mother about the ham if I ever met her. haha. No problem.

  91. Erol #98

    Don’t know why but thought you were a “mainlander”!

    Same story here, as a Turkish Cypriot. The only real (I’ll use the word real only because it fits here and not because of the product) pork I ate when young was Spam, at school. Loved the processed crap then with mashed Potatoes but hated the beetroot that made everything red on the plate. We were made to eat it with Mrs. Bootle would stand hard and send us back if there was anything left on our plate. Luckily we had a couple of girls that were more than willing to take my beetroot and I soldiered on with my beetroot infested mash and mush. My dad, who was/is a messed up mix of Ottoman and Victorian values (what a mix) was too scared to challenge the school although he bullied us all at home.

    I don’t know if you get to go back to Cyprus any more but Erdoğan is effecting this place as well. A huge mosque with universities with more to come. I have to be careful with my portrayal because I have noticed I feel more oppressed since coming to this site or at least more concerned.

  92. Stewart B #24
    Oct 8, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    I was one of what you might call a “Fire Insurance Christian” for about 30 years. first accepting Christ because some adults urged me to. The[y] indoctrinated me, I immediately went into the service, and out into the world.

    It sounds like the usual inculcated spoon fed dependence on indoctrinators, and a lack of education in critical thinking or taking an adult level personal responsibility for life’s decisions.

    I did everything I thought I was old enough to do.

    So having been obedient and dominated as a child, you were “let off the lead”, totally unprepared for a responsible adult life!

    Totally ignored the faith except for those occasional “thank God” or “Yes, God is good” or Sure I am a Christian” all of these statement really meaning nothing (to me)

    Just keeping up appearances for “in-tribe” social purposes.

    I had moments of what you might call “guilt faith” 🙂 where I was going to church regularly, refraining from many things forbidden,

    Indoctrinated “guilt” IS one of the control tools of indoctrinators, used to retain members and close minds!

    never cracking a bible. (several dusty ones around my home for show) I like d to sing in the choir loved being in the limelight, had great respect for my pastor, and had occasional fits of emotion during services, but a depth remained non committal.

    This sounds very much like the compartmentalised thinking dividing the fantasies of “faith” from everyday life.

    Went back to my church and through 2 other pastors, now living a duel life. A show in the Church, and party time at home.

    This sound’s like the standard disconnect between preaching and real life! – with neither serving you well!

    That is not unusual among many church goers, with a disconnect between what they profess, and what they do! Some maintain an interface of “confession” to prop up and sustain the contradictory thought processes and life-styles.

    ”God, please lead me to something better”. shortly after, a friend asked me to check out his church.

    So your early Christian indoctrination, caused you, as someone still mentally dependent, and lacking the guidance you had not been given as a child, to look for a spoon-fed solution to life’s problems, in a god and in a church!

    Just a straight, non-denominational,Christian church that taught the bible. No frills, no dancing, moderate music, deep scripture.
    My wife and I began to attend the new church, and found it welcoming. I was somehow drawn to finding out more about the bible as well as other religions, so I attended bible college, other religions and their origins etc.

    I don’t think you would be likely to find any reliable information relevant to modern life, on the Bible or “other religions”, at Bible College!

    However I kept partying 🙂 didn’t really crack that bible except when I had to for school.
    However now I was learning some things (in between fogs of my party) that I didn’t know in the past, about many beliefs.

    I have seen nothing in your posts to suggest that you have any depth of understanding or knowledge of “other religions or beliefs”! On the contrary, rather than being well versed in those subjects, you seem to strenuously ignore and side-step, any questions on such topics! You even struggle to understand the concept of “secularism”.

    I joined the praise team (sort of like a worship band) at the church. A bold move of my supposed commitment since I attended may practices hung over, but put on a good show.

    I think being regularly hung-over, would clearly identify you as a target for recruitment!

  93. LaurieB #100

    ….and their baby boomer parents just didn’t enforce Sunday school
    and church attendance like the older generation definitely did.

    Thanks for your insight. I’ll hang on to your up note!

    The Trump phenomenon can’t last very long imo. Muller will catch him out eventually, and he’ll pay for the amateur and unsavoury POTUS that he is. I’ll go out and celebrate when that happens.

  94. Olgun #101

    I smiled at your school dinner story. I also disliked beetroot when I was young, but don’t mind it so much now. As you’re probably aware spam was elevated to a UK food icon in the 70s by the amusing Monty Python sketch that referred to it.

    I went to Northern Cyprus about a year ago with my wife on a package 2-centre holiday trip. This was the first time after nearly 50 years! I had been reluctant to go previously because I had heard of these horror stories that you could go and then be held in the north and forced to do armed services duty for a lengthy period, even if you had a UK passport! Of course, if you wanted to avoid that duty you could do so by simply paying a few thousand pounds forfeit to the authorities there! Fortunately I didn’t experience such a problem when I finally visited.

    I’m not surprised that Erdoğan is building a huge mosque there – that’s ALL he is concerned about!!

  95. Erol #104

    Still don’t like beetroot. Not sure if I hate the taste or the texture most.

    I stayed away from Cyprus for the same reasons but found out all you needed to do was visit the army and get papers to leave the country and that’s all. I say that’s all but if you cannot read or write Turkish properly, it’s not that easy. I took someone who could with me. The paying of thousands of pounds is only if you wish to stay longer than ninety days. You still have to do a minimum of two weeks even if you pay. They have now put an age limit on, which, if I remember rightly fifty five. None of that is a problem any more as long as you come informed and do what is required. The biggest problems are caused by the embargoes which stops direct flights and tourism. Coupled together with propaganda by Greek Cypriot admin and NGO’s. The religious side is coming by stealth although very visible (if that makes sense?).

  96. Guys,
    I was forced to eat beets as a child. They had been boiled until gray and mushy then slathered with butter and salt. This is child abuse.

    Then when living on the Mediterranean for a few years I had an epiphany! Beets cooked until just tender, cut up bite sized and with a delicate dressing of olive oil, vinegar and salt, pepper and garlic. This is heavenly! I can’t get enough of beets now! Leave it to the Mediterraneans. They are wonderful cooks.

  97. LaurieB #106
    Oct 13, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    Guys,
    I was forced to eat beets as a child.

    I like our home grown beetroots, which are pressure steamed , sliced, frozen, and eaten from fresh (or thawed from frozen), with cold meats, boiled egg, a sprinkling of cheese, and (in season, home grown) salad.

    They had been boiled until gray and mushy then slathered with butter and salt.

    If they were gray, it sounds like they were bled-out!
    Beetroot should never be cut while raw or it bleeds the juices out during cooking!
    When harvesting, the leaves should be twisted off, the roots washed, and the skinning, trimming, and slicing, should only be done after cooking!

  98. You’re right about the cooking of beets but any veg cooked for an hour will have no nutritional value left at all. They were gray because of severe overcooking. That’s how they do asparagus too. Cooked for an hour until gray then slathered with butter…

    Thank goodness for our Mediterranean immigrants. They’ve been a culinary treasure.

  99. Laurie #106

    That’s the way it’s regularly served with the rest of the meze style but I still hate it. Think it’s the texture more than anything. I love the olive oil and lemon the more lemon the better for me. I can eat those like oranges. The olive oil I get direct from very good friends in Cyprus is to die for. We call it black olive oil and it comes from green olives and is made by boiling the them first.

  100. I know we are way off topic Mods but one more for a bit of fun as Laurie has mentioned Mediterranean foods.

    Laurie, a bit jingoistic but I do have a friends reaction to me eating marmalade toast with cheddar cheese ringing in my ears. He thought the correct combination should be Marmite toast and cheddar. He is English btw.

    https://youtu.be/An1_esq5Blw

  101. @OP – Although I may never live to see it,
    I look forward to a world in which the practice of religion is remembered only in historical terms —
    in the same way we study Greek, Roman, Egyptian and other ancient mythology.

    Once the blinkers of “faith” are removed, people will probably have a new take on popes sitting in a Vatican palace on a golden throne, financially supported by tithes, corrupt politicians, and money laundering bankers, – while pontificating on “helping the poor”!

  102. Olgun #110

    I know we are way off topic Mods but one more for a bit of fun as Laurie has mentioned Mediterranean foods.

    You are indeed! But we’re rather assuming the subject of beetroot and related culinary matters has now been exhausted and therefore requires no intervention from us?

    The mods

  103. Ok I agree that we’re off topic. Perhaps a thread about the evolutionary value of root vegetables in our ancient ancestral environment…

    I look forward to a world in which the practice of religion is remembered only in historical terms —

    A great comment I remember someone making here (can’t remember who!) was that perhaps religion would be found to be the unfortunate result of an infection by an obscure but common bacteria – similar to how H. pylori caused stomach ulcers that were once attributed to stress or too much tomato sauce. Now H. pylori can be eliminated by an antibiotic. If religion could be cured by a powerful new antibiotic what would happen to the world as we know it?!

    Someone needs to write that story!

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