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Your Religion Is Sillier Than Mine: The Hypocrisy of Theistic Thinking - An Essay

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TheJollyNihilist Donating Member (79 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 06:18 PM
Original message
Your Religion Is Sillier Than Mine: The Hypocrisy of Theistic Thinking - An Essay
If theres one thing of which Im certain, it is this: When one leaves the northern hemisphere and ventures south, one enters a completely new world. Primitive cultures and civilizations abound, many of which hold some very, very strange beliefs. One wonders, how could these people actually believe in that? Surely, we should expect more from the fellow representatives of our species, even if they are behind the scientific curve when compared to the United States. The Fang people of Cameroon are as good an example as any other. The following passage comes from Religion Explained, by Pascal Boyer.


The Fang people believe that witches have an extra internal animal-like organ that flies away at night and ruins other peoples crops or poisons their blood. It is also said that these witches sometimes assemble for huge banquets, where they devour their victims and plan future attacks. Many will tell you that a friend of a friend actually saw witches flying over the village at night, sitting on a banana leaf and throwing magical darts at various unsuspecting victims.


Yes, apparently they really believe such crazy fairy tales, which rightfully are laughed off by we in the sophisticated north. In fact, Boyer makes a point of noting that, a prominent Cambridge theologian, turned to me and said: That is what makes anthropology so fascinating and so difficult too. You have to explain how people can believe such nonsense.


Well, with that, Ive probably given away my thesis. Heres a hint: All my northern hemisphere arrogance was a ruse to demonstrate our amazing hypocrisy with respect to the esteem in which we hold our silly superstitions and the mockery we express toward other peoples silly superstitions. In his wonderful book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins lays out some fundamental beliefs associated with contemporary Christianity.


Dawkins writes:


* In the time of the ancestors, a man was born to a virgin mother with no biological father being involved.

* The same fatherless man called out to a friend called Lazarus, who had been dead long enough to stink, and Lazarus promptly came back to life.

* The fatherless man himself came alive after being dead and buried three days.

* Forty days later, the fatherless man went up to the top of a hill and then disappeared bodily into the sky.

* If you murmur thoughts privately in your head, the fatherless man, and his father (who is also himself) will hear your thoughts and may act upon them. He is simultaneously able to hear the thoughts of everybody else in the world.

* If you do something bad, or something good, the same fatherless man sees all, even if nobody else does. You may be rewarded or punished accordingly, including after your death.

* The fatherless mans virgin mother never died but ascended bodily into heaven.

* Bread and wine, if blessed by a priest (who must have testicles), become the body and blood of the fatherless man.


After laying out this rather insane set of beliefs, Dawkins asks, What would an objective anthropologist, coming fresh to this set of beliefs while on fieldwork in Cambridge, make of them?


For those raised in the Christian faith, remember this: You have been conditioned to believe that the Christian belief set is not silly. You have been conditioned to believe that the Christian belief set is not weird. Youve been conditioned to believe that the Christian belief set is less far-fetched than the beliefs of the Raelians, Scientologists or Fang people. But, alas, that childhood conditioning has made you blind blind to the fact that the claims of Christianity are deeply, profoundly and shockingly weird. The Christian belief platter, as a matter of fact, is just as fantastically crazy as the Fang people belief platter.


Ever eloquent, Dawkins economically sums it up: The findings of anthropologists seem weird to us only because they are unfamiliar. All religious beliefs seem weird to those not brought up in them. Divorce yourself from your deep-seeded childhood conditioning and examine the claims of Christianity as though they are completely new to you. Look at them from the perspective of a sophisticated adult, as opposed to a credulous child.


Is there room in your consciousness for such utter sillinessfor such contempt of scientific knowledge and natural principles?


Whats the quickest, most efficient way of flushing your religious beliefs? Overcome your deep-seeded childhood conditioning and think about them as if theyre brand new to you.
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Sapphocrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 06:23 PM
Response to Original message
1. ...
:popcorn:
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silverweb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 07:24 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. Butter?
I've got parmesan on mine, too. Wanna try some?

:popcorn:
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More Than A Feeling Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 07:31 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Ooh, Parmesan, what would that be like?
Now I wish I really did have some popcorn...and some parmesan.

:popcorn:
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silverweb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 07:52 PM
Response to Reply #7
11. It's yummy!
Don't forget to put it on the shopping list! :D
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kiahzero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 09:19 PM
Response to Reply #7
18. What kind of parmesan?
Is the popcorn in question the standard buttered microwave variety, or something a tad more esoteric? I have both on me, and now I'm curious.
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silverweb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 10:32 PM
Response to Reply #18
25. Oh, my.
Standard buttered microwave popcorn and standard grated parmesan.

We probably should go a little more gourmet, considering all the lovely fireworks shows ahead of us, huh? However, what's on hand will have to do for the moment.

:D
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kiahzero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 10:50 PM
Response to Reply #25
27. Hrm. I might have to go try that. (n/t)
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silverweb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 12:14 AM
Response to Reply #27
30. :)
:thumbsup:
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Sapphocrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 08:12 PM
Response to Reply #5
12. Yes, please!
Mmmmmmmmmmmmm! Good choice!
:popcorn:
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silverweb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 09:18 PM
Response to Reply #12
16. :)
Things here may prove to get a little more lively yet. A variety of popcorn toppings are always handy to have around.

:D
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kiahzero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 06:45 PM
Response to Original message
2. What about those that have converted?
Oh, right... we're all "fantastically crazy." :eyes:
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poverlay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 07:25 PM
Response to Reply #2
6. What have you converted to and from, if you don't mind me butting in on the conversation. This
sort of thing fascinates me.
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kiahzero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 07:39 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. From Episcopalian Christian to Deist Pagan
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph... is a link to a previous post where I described how I came to my worldview.
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poverlay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 09:03 PM
Response to Reply #8
15. Interesting. It appears you have traded one fantasy(No disrespect intended) for
another. I use the word fantasy because all religion is based on an unknowable supposition. Otherwise it's called "reality" or "fact". As my old philosophy professor used to say: "It's what you trip over in the dark".

I guess I was hoping you could clear up how switching from one religion to another provides some validity that otherwise doesn't exist. I understand that some religions appear preferable to others based upon their narrative. moral framework, equality, kindness and a million other criteria, but how does converting make your entire point? How does it invalidate the O.P.?

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kiahzero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 09:18 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. Because it rejects the OP's thesis
The OP seemed to be arguing that theists are theists only because they can't look at their own beliefs like they look at others.

Ever eloquent, Dawkins economically sums it up: The findings of anthropologists seem weird to us only because they are unfamiliar. All religious beliefs seem weird to those not brought up in them. Divorce yourself from your deep-seeded childhood conditioning and examine the claims of Christianity as though they are completely new to you. Look at them from the perspective of a sophisticated adult, as opposed to a credulous child.

If we converted as an adult, that means that we've already looked at our beliefs outside of "deep-seeded childhood conditioning," and it didn't bring me to the ultimate conclusion that the OP hoped ("flushing" religion). For a period of about 4 years, I considered myself to be an apathetic agnostic (I didn't know if there was any sort of divinity, and I didn't care). Ironically, it was exposure to the beliefs of other people that brought me to where I am now, religiously.
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TheJollyNihilist Donating Member (79 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 09:58 PM
Response to Reply #17
21. My essay
My essay, obviously, doesn't apply to everybody. It's aimed mostly at individuals who hold the same religious beliefs in which they were raised. Most Christians are born that way and continue down that path. Same for Muslims, same for Jews, etc. Most people do not convert one way or another. My challenge for such individuals is to abandon all childhood conditioning and look at their beliefs as though they were entirely new. I would submit that Christianity is just as outlandish as the beliefs of the Fang people. We just happen to be more used to Christianity's ideas, so their craziness is masked to some extent.

If you've accepted certain religious ideas after having examined them from the perspective of a sophisticated adult, more power to you. Personally, I see no good justification for accepting any religion. To me, they all seem far-fetched and poorly suited to the natural world in which we live.
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kiahzero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 10:04 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. I agree that people should examine their religious beliefs
It really upsets me when people can't be bothered to examine their own beliefs and prejudices (not just about religion, but everything), since those are the people most likely to proclaim that their way is the only way.
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TheJollyNihilist Donating Member (79 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 10:19 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. Right.
My atheism is a direct result of an examination of my Catholic beliefs. After an analysis from an adult perspective, I found the religion untenable. Thus, I have a bit of a stake in critical religious thinking.
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Dorian Gray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 11:54 PM
Response to Reply #21
29. That's true for a lot of people
but there are also many people like me, born and raised Catholic, yet when I reached college, I was agnostic. I was uncertain about God and religion and theology. All my upbringing didn't instill it into me. I traveled, lived overseas, and explored a number of other religions. Yet, during this exploration, I firmly re-embraced my Catholicism. Perhaps it held a cultural pull for me, as many of my friends and most of my family are all Catholic. But it was the theological works that I read as an adult that really pulled me back into the fold. I dallied with Buddhism for awhile, but it wasn't for me. Nor was agnosticism, though I spent a good 7 years self-identified as agnostic.

So, I suspect that the road towards religious belief is not so thought-free as just being born into it. Most people that I know truly have spent a lot of time analyzing their beliefs and why they believe as they do. As adults. Whether they be Catholic, Pagan, Jewish or atheist.
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kiahzero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 12:51 AM
Response to Reply #29
33. I wish I shared your optimism on the matter
It seems to me that questioning one's own religious beliefs requires a certain amount self-doubt - being able to postulate a world in which they aren't true. Perhaps it's because I'm still young, but I've known entirely too many people who are completely unable to do so.
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nemo137 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 02:36 AM
Response to Reply #33
35. I remember reading some psychologist or philosopher or other
Edited on Wed Nov-15-06 02:37 AM by nemo137
in English class, whose ideas I filed away under "something to think about." Anyway, he proposed that each person goes through a series of crises in life, starting with basic trust vs. mistrust in the universe, and going through crises about self, personal goals, etc. Maybe the "too many people" you know either haven't hit those crises yet or resolved them poorly.

Again, something to think about, no claims to its truth.
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Dorian Gray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 10:19 AM
Response to Reply #33
47. That may be true...
I wasn't brought up in a fundamentalist area. I grew up in New Jersey, went to school in Boston, lived in Hong Kong, London and now New York City. My experience is one in which I was exposed to many different religions and liberal ideologies. I didn't grow up in the Bible Belt, or any place else where religion played such a large part of a person's life. My family isn't particularly religious, though my father does go to church. (My mother goes only for weddings and funerals.) And that's how most people I know were brought up.

I'm sure that the experience for anybody brought up in The Bible Belt, Iran or any other strictly religious region or household would have a vastly different experience than I did. Most of my friends were brought up similarly to me, however, and they all have varying results as to the state of their religosity.

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poverlay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 11:40 PM
Response to Reply #17
28. Were those other people pagan? What sort of Goddesses and Gods do you worship?
I myself have far more respect and sympathy for pagan philosophy than any other. On the other hand, I don't see the the necessity for "formal trappings" that are agreed on and utilized by other people. In fact, I don't believe any two people can completely agree on the most necessary of attributes required of an ultimate or supremely powerful being. I think that impossible individuality is our ultimate blessing and curse. As a result, any sort of group faith/worship seems like an exercise in futility. We are all seeing the same things, but we can never understand them exactly the same. Yet we continuously struggle to get others to see what we see. That is hilarious and heroic at the same time.

As a 20+ yr ex- Roman Catholic and born again Christian I don't believe anyone can really "look at our beliefs outside of 'deep-seeded childhood conditioning'". Short of a lobotomy, our childhood teachings almost always taint our thoughts.

Again, not to be disrespectful in any way, these are just some of my thoughts on the matter.

T
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kiahzero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 12:41 AM
Response to Reply #28
32. A few were
Mainly I read a lot and exposed myself to what other people thought and believed. A lot of this pondering was during high school, so my exposure to non-Christians was somewhat limited (there aren't a whole lot in Virginia, surprisingly enough). However, a few of my friends were interested in theology, and we talked quite a bit on the matter. There was one girl who I talked to a lot on the matter - as best I can tell looking back, she was trying to figure out why I didn't believe in God, and I was trying to figure out why she did. Most of the pagans I know I meant inadvertently in undergrad; without realizing it for quite some time, the vast majority of my friends fall into the "pagan" category, and most of that subset I met through working at a computing site. Who knew? :shrug:

To say that I "worship" a specific deity is inaccurate, as I'm not much for worship or ritual. For my own personal connection to the divine, I generally see things in terms of the classical elemental forces. It's not something that would make sense to most people, but it really doesn't have to.
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Finder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 08:09 AM
Response to Reply #17
36. A deist pagan is not a theist...
by definition. One does not convert to deism or paganism since neither have a specific theology or set of doctrines. Nor do they keep official rolls for membership.

You have flushed religion and have embraced your spirituality in a sense.
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kiahzero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 08:56 AM
Response to Reply #36
41. A theist is someone who believes in any sort of divinity.
To fall into the class "Theist," one merely needs to believe in some sort of divinity. Specific theology or doctrines further classify one within that category, and membership roles are completely irrelevant.
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Finder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 09:32 AM
Response to Reply #41
45. Theism requires a theology...
and relies on faith rather than reason. Granted, some pagans do worship gods and/or goddesses but Deists do not.
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kiahzero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 10:50 AM
Response to Reply #45
48. I think you're using a different definition than I am.
I'm using theism in the broad sense: "Belief in the existence of a god or gods."

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=theism
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Finder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 12:34 PM
Response to Reply #48
49. That definition states deists are different...
which was my point.
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Zebedeo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 10:46 PM
Response to Reply #6
26. from atheist to Christian
in my case.
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poverlay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 12:19 AM
Response to Reply #26
31. Were you raised atheist and if so what catalyzed your conversion to Christianity? n/t
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Finder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 01:36 PM
Response to Reply #31
51. He is probably using "atheist" to state non-religious...n/t
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 02:45 PM
Response to Reply #51
52. Or "angry at God."
I find that many believers who claimed to be atheists were simply going through a rebellious phase - they are working on reconciling the evil and suffering in the world with the concept of an all-loving god. One common reaction is to just be "mad" at their god, and I have to admit, I went through that phase too. Looking back at it now, I realize I wasn't yet an atheist then.
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Finder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 02:57 PM
Response to Reply #52
53. Same here...n/t
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 01:24 PM
Response to Reply #26
50. Zeb, I really want to hear your story....how were you raised, what did you believe, and why did you
convert. I think it would be rather fascinating, if you could share it.
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Zebedeo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 09:45 PM
Response to Reply #50
61. Since you asked,
Edited on Wed Nov-15-06 09:47 PM by Zebedeo
I was raised in a completely nonreligious household. No church at all, ever. No belief in God or any deity or anything supernatural at all. Sadly, my parents are still atheists to this day. They are not particularly activist about their atheism, but they just don't believe in God. Even today, when I from time to time strike up a conversation about religious matters, they say "Zebedeo, you know what we think of that stuff."

As a teenager, I had a friend who was a Christian, and he witnessed to me repeatedly, but it didn't take at all. I was annoyed by it, but I didn't want to hurt my friend's feelings. He was persistent, but it was all in vain . . . or so it seemed.

I then went through life with a materialist philosophy, assuming that there was no God, and that the only reality was the material universe. I thought that believers were foolish for blindly accepting such outlandish stories.

20 years later, when I was in my late 30's, I started attending church with my wife, mainly for the benefit of our 3-year-old daughter. I took a 40-day class in which we read and studied The Purpose Driven Life. One of the chapters was about witnessing. I thought of how my friend was so persistent in witnessing to me, and how much he must have cared about me to be so persistent in the face of my obvious noninterest. I was really touched by that.

The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, really affected me, and got me interested in reading the Bible. As I began to read the Bible, I decided that I would give this religion nonsense a fair chance. I softened my heart and opened my mind, and the Holy Spirit guided me to the realization that what was written in the Bible was actually true. Then I realized how foolish I had been, and how arrogant and prideful. I gave my life to Christ, and was baptized. My friend's witnessing from 20 years earlier had not taken root immediately, but the seeds had lain dormant on the hard rocky soil of my soul for two decades. It was only after I softened the soil that the seeds took root and my faith flourished. That was the key to all of it - putting away my pride, my cynicism and arrogance for a moment and really giving the Bible a fair shake.

Now Christmas songs mean so much more to me. The truth is that they bring tears of joy to my eyes. Take the third verse of "O Little Town of Bethlehem":

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is giv'n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heav'n.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him, still,
The dear Christ enters in.

This touches me so, because it is so true in my life. It was only when I became meek that Christ entered my heart.

Now I am still a sinner and have a long way to go, but I have a new purpose in my life - to serve the Lord, to strive to do His will in this life and in the next. Becoming a Christian has changed my life for the better in so many ways. My marriage is better, my relationship with my child is better, my behavior overall is better (partly because I don't want to disappoint God, and partly because I want my life to be a positive example of the effect that accepting God brings). Even my relationship with my atheist mom and dad and my atheist sister are better now.

I still face trouble in my life, and heartache, and at times misery. But beneath it all, I now have a constant internal joy, a knowledge that we are only here in this material universe for a short time, and that an eternity in Heaven awaits. One of the Christians I know taught me that since Christians are assured of salvation and eternal life after death, our eternal life is truly ongoing right now. Therefore, there is no reason to wait until after we pass from this world to begin doing the things that we plan to do in Heaven.

I am so grateful to God for His mercy and His grace. Though an unworthy sinner deserving nothing but eternal punishment, I have received from God the most precious gift that can be given, through his Son, Jesus Christ. This gift has set me free, and I choose to exercise that freedom to strive to serve God, out of gratitude and love for Him. By doing so, my life has been enriched immeasurably. The Bible says that the fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I have found this to be the truth.
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 11:38 PM
Response to Reply #61
62. Thanks. nt
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Zebedeo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-17-06 09:22 PM
Response to Reply #62
72. You're welcome n/t
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Random_Australian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-17-06 04:06 AM
Response to Reply #61
68. You know, for all the theist vs atheist battles I take part in, I still think it's
wonderful that you found a set of beliefs that work so well for you - and I wish you the best of fortune in your continued life with Christ. :)
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Zebedeo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-17-06 09:20 PM
Response to Reply #68
71. Thank you!
I appreciate that very much. All the best to you as well.
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Finder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 06:56 PM
Response to Original message
3. Good work...
I like your writing.
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TRYPHO Donating Member (299 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 07:02 PM
Response to Original message
4. Funny you should mention...The Raelians
TheJollyNihilist writes:
Youve been conditioned to believe that the Christian belief set is less far-fetched than the beliefs of the Raelians, Scientologists or Fang people.

Divorce yourself from your deep-seeded childhood conditioning and examine the claims of Christianity as though they are completely new to you. Look at them from the perspective of a sophisticated adult, as opposed to a credulous child.

Whats the quickest, most efficient way of flushing your religious beliefs? Overcome your deep-seeded childhood conditioning and think about them as if theyre brand new to you.
---
I used to be a proof-reader and had the pleasure of proofing a rather large Raelian book (I'd never heard of them before). It seems to me like you are a pure Raelian in thought process atleast, wishing to erase your conditioning and see the world as it really is, rather than as other have made you see it. Except that you are preaching the philosophy to others, without giving them the benefit of a name for your modus operandi.

...Ok, I'm off to google Fang People :-)

TRYPHO
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TheJollyNihilist Donating Member (79 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 09:59 PM
Response to Reply #4
22. I'm just your neighborhood atheist.
nm
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TRYPHO Donating Member (299 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 05:46 PM
Response to Reply #22
55. You think you're an atheist...
But I think you're an undercover Raelian :-)

Is it possible to invent your own religion and then find that it has already been invented by someone else? Coz if so, brother Rael and you should sort out copyright.

Actually, I've just had a look at their website and they say absolutely nothing about the stuff I proofed, which was far less about aliens and cloning and far more about re-discovering the reality around oneself and the interaction with that reality (which I found enlightening, though I still hate green olives)...

So, since you're not spouting talk of the return of The Elohim in their fancy spaceships, I'll let you off. (But I'm watching :-)

TRYPHO

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TheJollyNihilist Donating Member (79 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 05:50 PM
Response to Reply #55
56. It would be very hard to pin any religion to me....
I reject the supernatural, the paranormal, God, angels, demons, the soul, the afterlife, heaven, hell, absolute good, absolute evil, psychics, ghosts, possession, haunting, etc. I believe in water, dirt, air and that's about it.

I think this worldview precludes religion.
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Danger Mouse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-16-06 09:54 PM
Response to Reply #4
67. Sigh...
and I read this as Realians, which proves that I am FAR too much of a geek for my own good.
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Buzz Clik Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 07:41 PM
Response to Original message
9. I prefer South Park's take on Dawkins --
He's a pompous dweeb who is just as horrible about ramming his (non)beliefs down people's throats as those he clearly despises.
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kiahzero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 07:44 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Actually, you're thinking of Garrison.
Dawkins was a nice guy until Mrs. Garrison convinced him he needed to be a dick to everyone who disagreed with him.
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bloom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 08:26 PM
Response to Reply #10
13. So Dawkins shouldn't be responsible
Edited on Tue Nov-14-06 08:27 PM by bloom
for being a "dick". ???


I'm not calling him a "dick" btw - I just don't get where you are letting a grown man off the hook and blaming Mrs. Garrison (whoever that is - I'm not really paying that much attention to any of this) - for Dawkins behavior.

That sounds about as ridiculous as anything. :shrug:
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kiahzero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 09:02 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. It was an episode of South Park last week.
The kid's teacher was told she had to teach evolution, but she did such a horrible job of it (because she thought it meant humanity descended from "retarded monkeys") that the principal brought in Dawkins to teach the kids. He's originally presented as an intelligent person who's still respectful of other's beliefs, a strong contrast to the teacher's intolerance towards anyone that thinks differently. He falls for her, she becomes an atheist, and convinces him that he needs to stop being respectful of other people's beliefs; 500 years later, humanity is about to destroy itself over a name (Unified Atheist Alliance, Unified Atheist League, or Allied Atheist Alliance). One of the other characters breaks up the relationship, Dawkins stays a nice guy, and the future becomes much more tolerant, which means absent the teacher's influence he continued to be respectful of others.

So, basically I was disagreeing with the poster's claim that the episode presented him in a bad light. If anything, the theme seems to have been that an intolerant person who converts can be as intolerant with their new beliefs as they will with their old.
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bloom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 09:24 PM
Response to Reply #14
19. ok
Do the South Park guys often make the bad person a woman? That's what I would be wondering if I watched it.


AFAIC - intolerance is an equal-opportunity affair that can afflict the religious or non-religious - one as easily as the other. (Peer pressure is often involved - but people are still responsible for their own intolerance). I think that's what Buzz Clik was saying.


Anyway - thanks for clarifying.
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kiahzero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-14-06 09:36 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. Not generally
Mrs. Garrison stands out somewhat, in that she's a post-op transsexual; Mr. Garrison has always been an ethnocentric short-sighted bigot with little or no regard for others. Stone and Parker just kept those qualities when they had her undergo the sex change. Garrison is one of the stock bad influences in the show. The "bad person" is almost always male - the only female character that's regularly presented in a bad light is Kyle's mom, and even then her "bad" trait is getting carried away in caring for her son, whereas almost all of the other parents are, as a rule, neglectful for the most part.
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 01:43 AM
Response to Original message
34. Good points.
The weird thing is...even we atheists are conditioned to some degree to believe that christianity is "less weird" than the fangs, raelians, etc. So even if you think Christianity is kinda dumb bullshit like I do, you nevertheless normalize Christianity and its deviances from reality.

One of the reasons I think I'm an atheist is that somewhere down the line, I learned to analyze myself deeply...I never EVER lie to myself or justify my actions to myself. One of the side effects of that self training has been the ability to see things from "outside myself". Let me explain...

When I walk down the street, every now and then I try to see my city and my neighbourhood from the perspective of somebody who has never seen it. Sometimes, it feels like I am in a completely new city...I even feel somewhat lost. Or I try to see others as if I've never met them. Or try to feel as if I'm tasting something for the first time. I know its weird, but I can do it.

The end result is that I've more or less internally rejected almost every tradition, or irrationality that I believe most people have. Marriage, funerals, ceremonies, and other traditions ..I see them from outside myself, and I recognize them as "weird constructs" that make little sense. I've talked about this before in this forum...I often pretend to fit in because I feel I need to to be happy, and to some degree, gain acceptance in our society as it is. Lol..but I am a creature apart from it.

Anyways...thats enough about me...I always talk to much about myself.

In the end, I agree with you...but it not only applies to religion. These "weirdnesses" apply to many other facets of society.
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bryant69 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 08:20 AM
Response to Original message
37. Dawkins does seem full of the missionary spirit
I suppose he's not the only one.

Bryant
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 08:30 AM
Response to Reply #37
38. Classic.
Edited on Wed Nov-15-06 08:31 AM by Evoman
You write a book about atheism, you are full of the missionary spirit. You write a book about religion, you life affirming.

He's not "full of the missionary spirit". He's a man making educated arguments and describing a position most of the world doesn't understand. Hes is not forcing anyone to read his work. Maybe you should read it before you make your baseless snipes.
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bryant69 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 08:42 AM
Response to Reply #38
39. Yes but his tone isn't to explain but to convince - to convert
I don't know that I'll read his book, but I've read articles by him and interviews.

Anyway how is it a snipe? He thinks he's found the right answer to religious questions and he thinks that if people would follow his answer we'd all be a lot happier - so he's trying to share his view with others, to convince them to accept it. Is that a bad thing? Is that an ignoble thing? I might disagree with his answer (of course I do disagree with it), but I assume that his motives are pure.

Bryant
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Finder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 08:54 AM
Response to Reply #39
40. Most of the answers are simply facts...
and rejecting facts is not rational.
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bryant69 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 09:04 AM
Response to Reply #40
43. I wouldn't dispute his facts but his conclusions from those facts
Bryant
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Finder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 09:34 AM
Response to Reply #43
46. What is your conclusion based on the facts he presents? n/t
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 09:04 AM
Response to Reply #39
42. Its a baseless snipe because
a) you haven't read his book

b) he's arguing a position, but not forcing anybody to read it, like missionaries do.

c) your intention was not to foster discussion, nor talk about the OPs points....saying hes "full of the missionary spirit" is just a way for you to "score a point". Thats fine..I'm not trying to rob you of that, but lets recognize it for what it is.


You should read the book. Expose yourself to atheist arguments so that when you come here, you can argue from a position of knowledge, rather than ignorance. If I can read the entire bible, you can read this book. And no, you don't have to agree with anything in it..thats your right.
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bryant69 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 09:11 AM
Response to Reply #42
44. I don't know that Missionaries force people to read things
But let's not let that get in the way of a good story.

I also question the logic of saying that "Well you've read interviews he's given (some of them quite lengthy) and articles he's written, but you have't read his book, so yuo can't say you know what he's really saying." But I'll consider getting it.

Bryant
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Chulanowa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 03:59 PM
Response to Original message
54. Interesting peice...
The one flaw is that it assumes the religions in question are being 100% literal. Metaphor is the bane of anthropological research. :)
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TallahasseeGrannie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 05:58 PM
Response to Original message
57. I really have no desire to overcome my deep-SEATED
childhood conditioning. It is one of the best things in my life.

Regarding other faiths, I have no idea whether they are true or not. It's a strange world out there. We all come up with a worldview that satisfies us. Who am I to knock somebody else's views?

Religious views are sacred. I honor that.
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TheJollyNihilist Donating Member (79 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 06:55 PM
Response to Reply #57
58. Thanks for the correction!
Fixed it on my site. Damn English language...
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TallahasseeGrannie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 07:05 PM
Response to Reply #58
59. Well, "deep-seeded" is one of those common mistakes
that just makes sense.

Deep-seated is kind of...well, personally I've very deep seated. Hard to find pants that fit me.
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TheJollyNihilist Donating Member (79 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-15-06 09:40 PM
Response to Reply #59
60. Yeah, I don't get it either.
Deep-seeded just seemed correct.

But, I should have known better...

I really do appreciate the heads-up. It makes my essay stronger.
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Dob Bole Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-16-06 09:12 AM
Response to Original message
63.  Your Religion Is Sillier Than Mine: The Hypocrisy of Atheistic Thinking
That could be another working title for just about anything Dawkins writes. I respect his facts, but the conclusion from his facts seems to always be "your way of thinking is sillier than mine." To believe so thoroughly as Dawkins does that the answer to everything is material is in itself a religious step.

For Dawkins to criticize someone else for criticizing someone else is a bit hypocritical. And 'hypocrite' is word brought to the English language through the introduction of Christianity, so he's helping.
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TheJollyNihilist Donating Member (79 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-16-06 05:58 PM
Response to Reply #63
64. Materialism / Naturalism / Physicalism is not a religion.
Religion, by definition, invokes the supernatural. Naturalism, by definition, rejects the supernatural. They aren't compatible.
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kiahzero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-16-06 06:50 PM
Response to Reply #64
65. That isn't a necessary definition of religion
In my World Religions class (working off of The Sacred and the Profaneby Mircea Eliade as our foundational text), we defined religion to be a sense of connection to community, a higher force (God as a general word), nature, or one's self. To sum up Eliade's work to an extreme degree, the sacred is heterogeneity of value. For instance, applying Eliade's ideas leads to understanding nationalism as a religion without a supernatural reference.

However, with that said, if I understand what you are referring to as materialism correctly, it alone would not qualify as a religion with this understanding; materialism in of itself does not impose any heterogeneity of value on to time or space - no point in time or space is more valuable or "real" than any other.
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TheJollyNihilist Donating Member (79 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-17-06 06:27 PM
Response to Reply #65
69. According to Mirriam Webster....
Religion means, "the service and worship of God or the supernatural."
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kiahzero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-17-06 07:17 PM
Response to Reply #69
70. Dictionaries are a reflection of common usage
As with any other specialized discipline, philosophy uses words in a much more precise sense than normal.
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kwassa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-17-06 10:21 PM
Response to Reply #69
73. In other dictionary definitions of religion ...
None which mention the need for a deity:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion

2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.

3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.

6. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.

next dictionary, the American Heritage

4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

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TheJollyNihilist Donating Member (79 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-17-06 10:55 PM
Response to Reply #73
74. True enough, but notice number one
a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
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kiahzero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-17-06 11:09 PM
Response to Reply #74
75. Which merely means that is how it is most often used.
As I said above, a supernatural reference is not necessary in order to fall within the category "religion."
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-18-06 12:54 AM
Response to Reply #75
76. Well then...what word can we use to separate an organization
with a belief in the supernatural, that has a set of rules, procedure, or ceremonies from organizations or peoples that don't believe in the supernatural?

I mean...it seems to me the word religion was perfect for that. But since it isn't, what other word can we use?
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kiahzero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-18-06 09:27 AM
Response to Reply #76
77. It really wasn't perfect for that, though
People use "religion" to describe groups that don't really have a supernatural reference, such as Daoism.
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Danger Mouse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-16-06 09:52 PM
Response to Reply #63
66. Recently, Something Awful poked fun at Dawkins...
'I am sick of these people telling me what I should and should not believe. Now, here is what you should and should not believe.' Not a real quote of his, but it made me laugh, as it sums things up pretty nicely.
While he's certainly not as evil-minded or obnoxious as those religious folk who try to force conversions or bully people of opposing beliefs, he's still pretty obnoxious. I have no intent of telling Dawkins what he should and should not believe, or whether he should believe at all. I'd appreciate the same courtesy of him, and of anyone, really, whether they are religious or not.
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