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In response to some very kind words in the comments to my last diary I thought I would share with whomever may be interested some random thoughts dealing with the ultimate question of "what's it all about." Some may be offended by my invective against religion (in particular the Abrahamic ones) and be turned off at times by my vituperative language describing their antiquated beliefs, but its all part and parcel of what I believe, so indulge me the opportunity to not only vent my outrage but also the chance to reverently extol the magnificence of the material universe.

With debates and legislation on abortion rights, and the role of religious beliefs in both education (evolution vs. creationism) and the public square (mandatory observance of Christian holidays) still shaping our political landscape, it's important to present non-religious perspectives on fundamental existential questions. Hence this diary.

I’ve been an atheist my entire life. One of my earliest and fondest memories is proudly proclaiming to a peer (i.e. another 7 year old) that I did not believe in god and thought the concept made absolutely no sense.

Theists are peculiarly self-righteous, thinking that the human condition makes no sense and the universe is meaningless if not for the existence of their god. My own personal experience however runs counter to their sanctimonious insistence that a godless world is devoid of meaning and morality. I am sensitive to the feelings of others and experience empathy towards the plight of those in pain and suffering. I give to charitable courses and lead what I consider to be a relatively moral life. In other words, I’m no different than most people whom I know. As a scientist I accept naturalistic explanations for worldly phenomena. Call me a "materialist" if you will.

I intuitively feel for others and care for them and their well-being. Rather than ascribe these feelings to adherence to some religious scripture, I am convinced that there is a naturalistic explanation (i.e. sociobiological, evolutionary or psychological ) for my and most of humanity’s similar personality traits. Moreover, I do not believe in emotional or behavioral creationism, i.e. the belief that feelings and emotions are unique to our species. I believe that other species possess consciousness and have emotional lives, including the ability to be empathetic. As an evolutionary biologist it makes no sense to think that our higher intellectual and emotional faculties are unique to the human condition. In fact, the more rarefied our intellectual and emotional gifts, the deeper must be their evolutionary origins. To my way of thinking that is a perspective that is morally superior to the anthropocentric morality of most religionists. What evidence do I have in support of my belief system? Much more than any born again fundamentalist has about the resurrection. There is large body of comparative scientific research on primates and other animals that attest to their possession of empathy, feelings of inequality, and the giving of deferred rewards and punishments to members of the group they belong to. So when it’s asked, why does an atheistic materialist care if people live or die; if matter is all there is to a materialist why does it "matter" to them if they live or die? My only response is to not suffer the fool. I care because I was born to care as a member of a social order of mammals that has been evolving for millions upon millions of years to function within a nexus of complex cooperative cum competitive social relationships.

Now tell me. I’ve always wondered, why does the god of the Jews, Christians and Islamists (JCIs) behave so badly? I’m a father. I have three sons. Good kids. Never given me any trouble. Sometimes they do clueless things and I get angry. You can say they’ve sinned against me (at times being disrespectful, not acknowledging the sacrifices I’ve made to ensure their well-being, etc.). Should I therefore disinherit them and condemn them to eternal damnation? Why does the god of the bible act in such strange and mysterious ways, setting up this obtuse situation where he creates people who are flawed (i.e. they sin) and then creating this theater of the absurd where you have this ridiculous trinity and crucifixion and all the other nonsense and mumbo-jumbo that Christianity preaches? As a father I do not want my sons to bow down to me and wipe my feet. I don’t want then to cower in fear of me. I love them unconditionally. Isn’t that the way Christians describe their god’s love for humanity? If so, why all this business about being saved? Look, if one of my sons committed a heinous crime I’d want him to be punished, perhaps put away for life, basically to protect others from the harm he may commit in the future. But I’m against the death penalty and believe in rehabilitation. Why is the spiritual "father" of JCIs so vengeful and mean-spirited?  Of course, it has to do with the historical development of Hebraic religions based on tribal patriarchy in which fathers actually did want their sons to kiss their feet, etc. Are JCI’s so clueless not to recognize that? Hebraic religion is a crock, full of outmoded, outrageous ideas that should be studied in the same fashion that the beliefs of animists are studied.

Well if a belief in the JCI god, or any god for that matter, is not a prerequisite for empathetic, moral behavior and if the behavior of that god is abominable to say the least, why the need for adherence to such an antiquated and unnecessary belief system? Philosophically, at least, the whole question of "god" devolves to the question of first cause. Theists insist that there is a cause for every effect except for god itself. God is exempted because it exists in a supernatural eternal realm beyond human experience. Thus its postulated that only god can constitute the first cause that initiated the phenomenal universe. The existence of god is inferred as a logical necessity to explain the creation event per se. But what is this creation event? In actuality, it is an attempt to confront the fundamental question of existence itself. It is the question of existence that needs explaining, not the question of god. In fact, god can be conceptualized as a personification of existence. Existence has all the attributes of god. If we accept the premise that something cannot come from nothing, existence has no beginning or end. For proponents of the Big Bang, even nothing is something, as virtual particles are constantly popping into existence out of the quantum vacuum. Existence is therefore eternal, it has neither a beginning nor end. Existence encompasses all that is, has been or will be, it is thus both omnipresent and omniscient. Since existence produces all phenomena, it is thus omnipotent. All the above qualities of the abstract notion of existence have been attributed to god. The only difference between the two concepts is that existence is impersonal and part and parcel of the phenomenal world, while god is personal and placed beyond the phenomenal world in a separate supernatural realm. For a materialist, god as a first cause is therefore totally superfluous. Just as the theist sees god as a cause unto itself, for the atheist so is the universe (i.e. the realm of objective reality).

What is most pathetic however is the overwhelming hubris of many (not all) theists, particularly the most ignorant amongst them. They live in a hermetically sealed, self-referenced world stuck in a medieval mind-set, their appreciation of the wonders of the real, material universe is circumscribed by the limited vision of bronze age tribal shepherds. The nearly infinite beauty of the cosmos, the vastness of time and space, the innumerable permutations of the natural world, and the profound unity of all creation escapes them completely. Rather than the awe-inspiring grandeur of organic evolution with its "endless forms most beautiful" responding by the seat of their pants to ever changing environmental fluctuations, they are left with a Geppettan tinkerer fumbling around cobbling together a hodge-podge of trilobites, dinosaurs and mammoths for no apparent rhyme or reason other than to satisfy his whimsical fancy. Give me the real thing any time, not some pale, uninspired, insipid imitation. Revel in the mysteries of existence. We know but a fraction of what there is to know. If we continue to advance our scientific knowledge of the material world what wonders of nature will we comprehend in a thousand years? The religionists among us would have us groping about like the proverbial six blind men feeling an elephant.

Finally, we come to the great fear of death and its aftermath. But the nature of things long ago determined that there is no life without death. We would still be archaean prokaryotic bacteria if not for death. Every life, both human and non-human, no matter how seemingly insignificant, has an impact on the lives that follow. Think of yourself as a quantum burst of consciousness lighting up your little corner of the world in a crescendo of sentience that will eventually engulf the universe. Or perhaps we are but a flicker, a wisp of cognizance that will be blown out never to be realized again, a unique confluence of matter and energy at a particular juncture in space-time. However one views their place in nature make the most of the limited time we have, within our limited abilities, to move our beautifully sublime spinning globe one step closer to the unity and harmony which should be our offspring’s birthright.

It is only by humbling ourselves before the fount of wisdom that nature provides that we can come to grips with both our insignificance and our transcendence.

Originally posted to detler on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 01:47 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  That's a lot of words (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Turtle Bay, QuestionAuthority
    •  Hmmm? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, ExStr8, C Barr, Dixie Liberal

      Let the pastors, rabbis and mullahs mutter their mumbo-jumbo in private and leave the rest of us alone.

      Sounds a lot like Matthew 6:6 But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly.

      And if Limbaugh, Beck et al stroke out over this, I say we put him on Mount Rushmore. - Nancy Nall

      by perro amarillo on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:01:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'd tip & rec this diary just for being literate (4+ / 0-)

      ...let alone for the sentiments, of which I heartily approve. I'd tip and rec twice if I could.

      I don't see how any intellectually honest person can study astronomy or cosmology and still believe in god.  It's been said that we inhabit "the third planet of a second-rate star in a commonplace galaxy," and yet we think we're important?  And there are those who believe that some old patriarch with a white beard is Up There fretting over whether women cover their heads and men are circumcised?  Give me a break.

      Barbara Walker has written several excellent books, among them Crone and The Skeptical Feminist, about the difficulty that women have in fitting themselves "into the interstices of Christianity," as she put it.  Women born into patriarchal religion learn early that we're worthless because we're human and evil because we're female.  Small wonder that most women suffer from lifelong low self-esteem.  Those twin poison pills would be enough to depress anyone's self-image.

      As the diarist says, it is entirely possible to live a virtuous life because it is the right thing to do, the kindest thing to do--not because we hope for a "reward," like a little boy being nice to the neighborhood grouch in the hope of getting a cookie.

      Yes, I'm het, but I'm NOT a Mad Hetter!

      by Diana in NoVa on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 05:20:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Islamists?" (5+ / 0-)

    Why would you label all Muslims with a word whose connotations are primarily political?  You did not specify "Conservative Christians" or "Zionists."

    Finally, some new songs up at da web site!

    by Crashing Vor on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 01:55:10 PM PST

  •  I absolutely respect (7+ / 0-)

    your right to believe as you do.  In fact, there are times in my life when I'm not so sure you aren't right.  Still, I stick with Christianity.  Now, I'm talking the real Jesus stuff, not the Old Testament/Revelation crap.  Even in my most unbelieving times, I figure I'll just stick to the example of Jesus.  The best that can happen is I'm right and get to go to a heaven somewhere.  The worst that can happen is that I'm wrong, but I lead a good and happy life.  When I look at it that way, I really can't lose...

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:01:12 PM PST

    •  Pascal's Wager (10+ / 0-)

      And if Limbaugh, Beck et al stroke out over this, I say we put him on Mount Rushmore. - Nancy Nall

      by perro amarillo on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:02:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, I was pretty sure (6+ / 0-)

        that I didn't think it up first :-)  It just makes sense to me.  No need to reinvent that wheel.   If there is a good example to follow, why not do it?  I can blaze trails somewhere else.  

        -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

        by luckylizard on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:04:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The worst that can happen (14+ / 0-)

          is that some other group that claims exclusive revealed truth is right, and you spend an eternity being tortured in the Lake of Fire.

          Thats the problem with Pascal's Wager. It assumes any diety will be happy that you picked Christianity over atheism. In truth, a lot of religions teach that Christians will be forever punished. Thus, in order to be anywhere near safe, you'd have to be a good Catholic, a good Protestant, a good Sunni, a good Shia, a good Mormon, etc. Only, of course, those are mutually exclusive paths, which means a Christian who's a Christian just to be safe is barely safer than an atheist; statistically speaking, if there is a god, there isn't a better chance that its the Triune god than a thousand other dieties who would hate Christians and send them to their variation of hell.

        •  The biggest flaw is not what a god might do (7+ / 0-)

          in a hypothetical hereafter - it is the consequence of accepting Pascal's Wager on the rest of the world in the here and now.

          As Greta Christina has noted:

          "Believing in God is a safer bet" is a terrible reason to believe in God. It assumes that the consequences of believing in God when God doesn't exist are negligible -- and this is simply not true. People make major decisions based on their belief in God: decisions that can cause harm to themselves and others.

          Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

          by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:58:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  This is likely so. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            perro amarillo

            Unfortunately. there are those who have decided that they are God's own messengers and arbiters on earth.  That is a recipe for disaster.  I'm just talking about my own little life.  If I do that life well, I should have been of some benefit to others and not caused them too much grief.  In turn, I'd hope that they would pass on that good as well.  In the end, that's all most of us can do or hope for: to do some good that will extend beyond ourselves.  

            -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

            by luckylizard on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 04:09:52 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not so (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              KathleenM1, luckylizard

              That means you stand by as others do evil to others, even if and when you have the opportunity to thwart it.

              And many evils can only be combated collaboratively, by many of us working together, not each looking out for their own little "did good today" checklist for their own little god.

              Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

              by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 04:54:36 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  OK, I didn't say that very well. (2+ / 0-)

                In my world, part of being good and doing good is exactly what you say: working together to make things right.  Maybe I'm too tired for a deep philosophical discussion.  I think I'm expecting you to read my mind by looking at the few words that I type.  

                I'm no isolationist.  I know that everything I do has consequences beyond myself, and for the most part, I manage to keep that in mind when I act.  I think the old rules/commandments were originally developed to encourage people to live harmoniously in their society.  What happens with those rules when people start deciding that they are the enforcers is that the rules become ends in themselves rather than means to an end.  That can happen whether the rules are sacred or secular.  Oh crap!  Now I'm going off in another direction.  I'd really love to keep chatting about this, but my brain has deserted me.  You're making me think too hard :-)

                -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

                by luckylizard on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 05:39:41 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  Great minds... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          luckylizard

          And if Limbaugh, Beck et al stroke out over this, I say we put him on Mount Rushmore. - Nancy Nall

          by perro amarillo on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:21:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  but the flaw in that argument (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Turtle Bay, ExStr8, Tonedevil

        is that you might be really pissing off the real god.

        For example, following the basic premise of Pascal's Wager, that we don't really know what will happen, these might be the real options:

        Option A:  Pray to Oden/Zeus/whovever the big cheese is this week, and have a glorious eternal life after death.

        Option B:  Be neutral, pray to no one, and and be given the chance to convert post-death to an eternal life of middling comfort.

        Option C:  Rray to Jesus and be condemned to torment in hell forever.

        I'm not saying those ARE the choices (in fact, I think they're not), but nothing in Pascal's Wager precludes them.

        In short, Pascal's Wager is bunkum.

  •  If it does not impact you ... (8+ / 0-)

    and that is a big "if" ... but if another person's belief doesn't impact you, why do you care?

    When people ask me about theism, I respond with "I don't care. Believe what you want and let me believe or not believe."

    There's lots of things about which I don't care: Reality television, NASCAR, gods, velvet painting, and so on. If some folks like that stuff, more power to them.

    One other point. You're attempting to use reason. Religion isn't about reason. It's about faith. You may as well argue with the wind. It will have the same impact, IMHO.

    Excess ain't rebellion. You're drinking what they're selling. - Cake

    by slatsg on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:03:13 PM PST

    •  Its no big deal. (8+ / 0-)

      As I said just some musings and random thoughts for whomever cares to read them.

      Let the pastors, rabbis and mullahs mutter their mumbo-jumbo in private and leave the rest of us alone.

      by detler on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:05:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Have at it. (5+ / 0-)

        I read your musings and I happen to agree with most of them.

        One place of debate might be the "Theists are peculiarly self-righteous" statement. Some definitely are. However a few are quite humble and many are quite fearful. In fact, fear appears to be a more significant characteristic than arrogance among the believers.

        Excess ain't rebellion. You're drinking what they're selling. - Cake

        by slatsg on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:19:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, this struck me as pretty offensive, actually (0+ / 0-)

          Not every atheist is full of the milk of human kindness.  

          •  Atheists tend not to campaign (4+ / 0-)

            against the rights of others, or insist that their non-belief be codified in civil law.

            "Well, you've got to understand, they're Republicans. They're just doing what comes natural." -John Dingell

            by happy camper on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:35:42 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Um, so? What I'm seeing here is a disdain (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              C Barr, MRA NY

              for people who have religious beliefs or a belief in some force greater than themselves.  Some of the posts are practically smirking in their sense of superiority.  Just pointing out that arrogance does not flow one way.  And plenty of believers HAVE campaigned FOR the rights of others and HAVE insisted that elements of fairness and justice be codified in civil law.  cf. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

              •  And plenty more (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                C Barr

                are proud to do just the opposite, and find justification in scripture.  

                "Well, you've got to understand, they're Republicans. They're just doing what comes natural." -John Dingell

                by happy camper on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 04:01:03 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Duh. My point exactly. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  C Barr, MRA NY

                  In other words, believers and non-believers alike are capable of enormous generosity and enormous dickishness.  They are not characteristics unique to either and neither side should carry on as if they are.  

                  •  Atheists in America are not engaged (5+ / 0-)

                    in pushing legislation to restrict a woman's right to choose, same-sex couples to marry, a woman's right to emergency contraception, condoms and family planning to communities devastated by AIDS, putting up religious tracts in courtrooms, etc.

                    Atheists are not enjoying taxpayer subsidies and immunity from IRS accountability and reporting.

                    Even the most extremely outspoken and hostile atheists are not gunning down abortion doctors, creating harassing gauntlets for women to pass through en route to a family clinic, or any of the things militant American theists do (let's not even talk about what happens elsewhere or by others).

                    So, let's not pretend there is moral equivalency between theists complaining that atheists aren't being nice, and atheists complaining that theists exclude them from society, won't vote for them for any elected office, disapprove of their sons or daughters marrying us, overwhelmingly state that we don't share their basic American values, and either actively working to impose their beliefs on others, or standing by while extremists do that, and moderates and liberals turn all their attention to condemning atheists for saying mean thoughts.

                    Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                    by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 06:14:39 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  I will suggest that in this country (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                C Barr, RandomActsOfReason

                disdain is usually one-sided and comes from the theists.

                Good people, IMO, will be good people regardless of their religion or lack thereof.

                The same applies to unethical immoral people. Bush, Netanyahu, and Ahmadinejad all claim to be religious men, but their actions are still immoral.

                Excess ain't rebellion. You're drinking what they're selling. - Cake

                by slatsg on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 04:24:29 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  You want to see some examples of it coming (0+ / 0-)

                  from the atheists, just read some of the comments here.  They are offensive toward anyone of faith, virtually accusing anyone who HAS faith of being stupid and then working their way from there.  Disdain is very much a multi-sided thing.  When people have no respect for others, when they label others with derogatory names or cynical assumptions about their motivations, then they are disrespecting those people, plain and simple.  

                  •  Not to make excuses ... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    RandomActsOfReason

                    well OK, I am making excuses, but after a lifetime of having to defend oneself from the attacks of the religionists, perhaps we are a bit hostile.

                    It even impacts a person's job. They have finnaly made it illegal to ask about religion when interviewing for educationalpositions. I am an atheist in a small town. if I wasn't so well respected I might have so difficulty. And in some of the surrounding towns, I wouldn't be considered, despite my excellence as an educator.

                    Excess ain't rebellion. You're drinking what they're selling. - Cake

                    by slatsg on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 05:57:08 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I understand. My son is an atheist and (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      slatsg

                      I have a very close friend who is an atheist, too.  I get that it can be very difficult to function, especially in a closed society.  But just as I can't stand it when people who have heretofore been maligned for their race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual preference turn around and behave just as abominably toward others not like them, so I get annoyed at atheists who emerge from their experiences with small-minded nastiness and do it to others themselves.  There are plenty of very smart, very well-educated people who are believers and who take their religious obligations seriously and contribute very generously of their time, money, and efforts to many worthy causes.  Calling them stupid, or saying that THEY'RE doing it because they fear their God whereas ATHEISTS do it because they're simply nice people and therefore are MORE worthy of praise than the religionists is obnoxious, to say the least.

                  •  When people challenge ideas or beliefs (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ExStr8

                    that is quite different than attacking the person or making prejudicial assumptions about their morality based on a group affiliation.

                    Challenging ideas or beliefs is at the core of a progressive activist worldview, without which this site would be all pooties and no substance.

                    Equating challenges to ideas and beliefs, with personal insults, is a protective cultural adaptation intended to thwart critical inquiry into religion.

                    Questioning people's morality because they are atheists - or, worse, assuming that a religious person must be an atheist because they do bad things - is just plain bigotry.

                    Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                    by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 06:08:40 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  So what? (0+ / 0-)

                      What are YOU doing when YOU say derogatory things about people who happen to be religious?  Some of the most tolerant people I know are actually very religious, also.  They believe that we are ALL God's children and that it's their obligation to see the worth and beauty in ALL people.  That they frame this in a worldview which includes an all-encompassing and benevolent deity does not deserve your disdain, any more than a religionist is entitled to believe that you must have low moral standards just because you're an atheist.  And I might add, just because YOU can't see beyond the material does NOT entitle you to derogate those who believe there are other dimensions which we cannot perceive in a material sense.  Especially when one considers one of the hottest topics of present physics discussion is the concept of the multi-verse, a theory that there are many dimensions to what seems to us to be a three-dimensional reality.  That you would not laugh at a physicist for positing the possibility that we exist in multiple dimensions but would laugh at someone for positing the possibility that there is a higher intelligence to our existence shows that you may not as innately tolerant of others as you think.

                      I don't have a problem with people who declare themselves atheists.  I DO have a problem with those who declare themselves atheist and then in the same breath declare everyone who happens to disagree with them and who believes in a higher being either stupid, or oppressive, or driven by fear of almighty wrath as their motivation for doing good.  As I said before, it's just offensive.

                      •  Can you point my to where I have said (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        teachme2night

                        deroagoray things about people who happen to be religious? I am generally quite careful to distinguish between criticisms of organized religion vs attacks on individuals, and between criticism of particular religious beliefs, and the consequences of those beliefs, vs individual people who happen to be religious.

                        Look at how you perpetuate the error of equating legitimate questioning of beliefs with prejudicial attacks on character:

                        That they frame this in a worldview which includes an all-encompassing and benevolent deity does not deserve your disdain, any more than a religionist is entitled to believe that you must have low moral standards just because you're an atheist.

                        So, if I question the idea of an all-encompassing and benevolent deity, that is the same as them telling me I am immoral because I am an atheist?

                        Read that again, what you wrote, and tell me you can't see the logical fallacy in your argument.

                        And I might add, just because YOU can't see beyond the material does NOT entitle you to derogate those who believe there are other dimensions which we cannot perceive in a material sense.

                        it does entitle me to question their beliefs, in the light of the inconsistency between those beliefs and scientific knowledge. For example:

                        Especially when one considers one of the hottest topics of present physics discussion is the concept of the multi-verse, a theory that there are many dimensions to what seems to us to be a three-dimensional reality.  

                        Those "dimensions" are purely physical dimensions, in addition to the three we can sense, and they are hypothesized, not a theory, because we do not yet have sufficient evidence for this proposal to qualify as a scientific theory. It is proposed because it resolves certain previously unresolved issues in physics (the mathematics that underlies most modern physics, actually in most cases) which you undoubtedly are utterly unaware of - just as you are unaware that multi-dimensionality and the "multi-verse" are two completely different ideas, the "multi-verse" (assuming, since you mentioned physics, that you mean to refer to the many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics (first proposed in 1957, although you may have only read it yesterday in a new agey pseudo scientific rag), as opposed to Tegmark's cosmological taxonomy of universes, or the notion of infinite Hubble volumes within our universe), which accepts the objective reality of the wavefunction, but rejects the reality of wavefucntion collapse. That, in turn is an hypothesis promoted to solve a different set of problems in science.

                        That you would not laugh at a physicist for positing the possibility that we exist in multiple dimensions but would laugh at someone for positing the possibility that there is a higher intelligence to our existence shows that you may not as innately tolerant of others as you think.

                        No, it shows that I am able to differentiate between proposals that do not violate the known laws of the physical universe, and those that do. The physicist's proposed explanation, which may or may not prove to be accurate, is based on the known laws of the universe and, in fact, is designed to support them by resolving measurable inconsistencies in current explanations, while your claim of a higher intelligence is neither consistent with known laws, nor necessary to resolve any known inconsistency in those laws.

                        Positing a deity solves nothing, because it simply moves the question of creation of the universe to the question of creation of a deity - and, if a deity requires no creation origin, they why must the universe?

                        Every single physical phenomenon in the universe that now has a scientific explanation, was once explained by "God did it". There is no reason to suppose that this trend, of natural explanations replacing supernatural explanations,  will not continue indefinitely - and there is not a single example of the opposite happening.

                        I don't have a problem with people who declare themselves atheists.  I DO have a problem with those who declare themselves atheist and then in the same breath declare everyone who happens to disagree with them and who believes in a higher being either stupid, or oppressive, or driven by fear of almighty wrath as their motivation for doing good.  As I said before, it's just offensive.

                        You clearly have no problem with theists like you declaring that anyone who disagrees with you is innately intolerant and hateful.

                        Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                        by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 07:20:43 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  OK.... (0+ / 0-)

                          Can you point my to where I have said
                          deroagoray things about people who happen to be religious?

                          ... here...

                          You clearly have no problem with theists like you declaring that anyone who disagrees with you is innately intolerant and hateful.

                          •  Not the commenter, but also not an example (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            teachme2night

                            I clearly qualified "theists like you" not "theists", and I based my critique on the specific statements of the commenter I was responding to, not some general prejudicial stereotype about theists.

                            Nice try, though. I note you have no problem or comment with overtly bigoted statements in the comments in this diary addressed toward atheists, only theists.

                            Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                            by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 08:00:33 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  My goodness, wallowing in self-pity much, are we? (0+ / 0-)

                            I didn't say anything "hateful" about atheists and DEFY you to find where I did so.  Your attenuated and illogical reasoning in the comment above that it must be what I actually MEANT doesn't do it.  Anyone can twist and extrapolate unintended meanings from anyone else's other statements.  Not a very scientific thing to do, I might add, but THAT'S what you did to me.  Show me where I actually made such a statement.  You won't find it, because I know I didn't say it, but it entertains me that you consider yourself the voice of reason yet would go to such lengths of illogic to make your point.

                          •  Self-referential irony (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            teachme2night

                            Anyone can twist and extrapolate unintended meanings from anyone else's other statements.

                            Would that be anything like these gems from you:

                            What are YOU doing when YOU say derogatory things about people who happen to be religious?

                            just because YOU can't see beyond the material does NOT entitle you to derogate those who believe there are other dimensions which we cannot perceive in a material sense.

                            That you would not laugh at a physicist for positing the possibility that we exist in multiple dimensions but would laugh at someone for positing the possibility that there is a higher intelligence to our existence shows that you may not as innately tolerant of others as you think.

                            I DO have a problem with those who declare themselves atheist and then in the same breath declare everyone who happens to disagree with them and who believes in a higher being either stupid, or oppressive, or driven by fear of almighty wrath as their motivation for doing good.

                            Can you point to where I made any of those straw man arguments you invented?

                            Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                            by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 08:19:22 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Read all your posts in this thread (0+ / 0-)

                            They reek of self-righteousness and self-pity for all the real and imagined slights you have experienced from believers.  You even admitted in one post that you really don't get into conversations with those who don't agree with you.  You may perceive this as being because they're going to disapprove of you, but you appear to be oblivious to the insulting demeanor you portray in your "arguments".  

                            You ask if I even "know" an atheist, and this in the same line of discussion where I talk about my son and my closest friend the atheists.  I haven't even told you where I stand on the issue of belief for myself personally because my argument is with your arrogance and your condemnation of religious belief as "superstitions" and your obvious disdain for those who have religious beliefs.  How many times have you posited your complaints in this thread about religionists' being against all your most closely held progressive goals? You even go after people for not being consistent enough from your point of view.  Seems one can't be a good Progressive and a good believer or some such nonsense.

                            Let us just say I am playing Devil's Advocate here.  You are entitled to your beliefs, but look back at the top of this particular thread and see that the point I originally made was that having or not having religious belief is no guarantee one way or the other that one will be a decent human being.  The point I was making - which you seem to have endless quibbles with - was that ANYONE can be a dick.  In your eagerness to disprove this indisputable point you have spent A LOT of time arguing about what physics MEANS and how horrible you perceive religious people to be as opposed to the more saintly atheists amongst us.

                            I believe you have validated my argument.  Please - step down off the high-horse and find someone who can help you with your overweening aggression toward those who happen to disagree with your point of view.

                          •  I realize all us atheists look the same to you (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            teachme2night

                            You even admitted in one post that you really don't get into conversations with those who don't agree with you.

                            But I never made this statement. It would be rather funny, since that is most of what I do here. What would be the point of engaging only people who agree with me? I'd never learn anything new.

                            my argument is with your arrogance and your condemnation of religious belief as "superstitions" and your obvious disdain for those who have religious beliefs.  How many times have you posited your complaints in this thread about religionists' being against all your most closely held progressive goals? You even go after people for not being consistent enough from your point of view.

                            Again, you seem to be conflating all the comments from all the different atheists here. Despite your claims of having atheists in the family (or, perhaps because of your anger about it), your prejudice against atheists, and your need to demonize us by erecting the most extreme straw man stereotypes imaginable, is self-evident in your own enraged comments, with all the ALL CAPS SHOUTING and childish insults.

                            Let us just say I am playing Devil's Advocate here.

                            Ah, now you are going to pretend you don't believe all the irrational things you said, because you can't meet my challenge to back them up? Not a new trick by any means.

                            the point I originally made was that having or not having religious belief is no guarantee one way or the other that one will be a decent human being.

                            A point I agree with an never disputed.

                            The point I was making - which you seem to have endless quibbles with - was that ANYONE can be a dick.

                            Never made a single, solitary quibble with that statement. It's all in your prejudiced mind.

                            In your eagerness to disprove this indisputable point you have spent A LOT of time arguing about what physics MEANS and how horrible you perceive religious people to be as opposed to the more saintly atheists amongst us.

                            You brought up physics arguments (incorrectly), not me. I have never made any statement about "how horrible religious people are". Since I live in a society that is almost 80% religious, 76% Christian, I live with, live next to work with, and socialize with theists all the time. I also vote for them consistently (unlike a majority of US theists - and a strong majority of US Christians who state they would never vote for an atheist). Nor have I ever made any claims about the saintliness of atheists amongst us.

                            See, this is all some argument you have in your mind with your husband or your son or your relatives or some other atheist you are angry with. You have conflated the comments of a dozen different people here and invented this composite demon atheist to tilt at.

                            You haven't validated anything, except your overt bigotry and the fact that you can't separate your personal issues from an intellectual discussion on the Internet with people you don't even know.

                            Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                            by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 09:04:39 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  As I said (0+ / 0-)

                            Go back and read your own comments.  I did and drew my comments from what YOU wrote. Might I ask if you didn't have any quibble with my basic point, then why did you feel compelled to argue with me about it?  And drop the pathetic attempt to turn me into a demonizer of atheists and the silly accusation that I must not like them because I challenged your attempt to prove, despite your alleged support of my point, that atheists might be dickish at times, but believers are just dickier.  I don't disdain atheists for being atheists any more than I disdain believers for being believers.  I'm a firm believer that dickishness is an equal opportunity attribute and knows no boundaries of race, ethnicity, gender, or religious belief or lack thereof.  Your "argument" is a stupid personal attack and not an argument, and if you're going to have a screen name imputing reason to yourself then such ad hominem attacks will draw fire.  

                          •  You fail to link to a single instance of me (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            teachme2night

                            saying the things you say I wrote here. You have confused several different commenters and lumped them together, and now you refuse to acknowledge your error.

                            I pointed to several claims you made about alleged arguments of mine, and asserted that I never made those arguments.

                            In response, you have failed to produce proof of your assertions, you just pile on additional personal insults.

                            Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                            by RandomActsOfReason on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 10:34:23 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Aggression! Condemnation! (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            RandomActsOfReason

                            Jeez, honey, you reek of self-righteousness and self-pity for all the real and imagined slights you have experienced from non-believers.

                            my argument is with your arrogance and your condemnation of religious belief as "superstitions"

                            That's not a condemnation. It is a fact. Even if you don't consider it a fact, or don't consider "facts" important, it's not a condemnation. Your calling it a "condemnation" shows your arrogance in condemning superstitions as somehow inferior to religion. Your overweening aggression toward superstitious people suggests you are oblivious to the insulting demeanor you portray in your "arguments". Are you conscious of your obvious disdain for those who have superstitious beliefs?

                            your overweening aggression toward those who happen to disagree with your point of view

                            If someone is an atheist, their POV is "overweeningly aggressive." But if another person is religious, they just "happen to" disagree. So cheap.

                            It is always to be taken for granted, that those who oppose an equality of rights never mean the exclusion should take place on themselves. -- Thomas Paine

                            by teachme2night on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 11:49:41 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  Break out the tiny violins (0+ / 0-)

                          I didn't accuse you of anything, but did point out that intolerance is not a one way street.  You make A LOT of assumptions about me and my religious beliefs, and having done so then leap to unwarranted conclusions about my assumptions about atheists.  

                          You argue that "known laws of the universe" support your bigotry,  but the fact is that we DON'T know all all the laws of the universe.  This is why there is serious argument among physicists about whether there is support for the argument that there is dark matter, or for string theory, or for quantum mechanics and its seeming conflicts with the theory of relativity.

                          What you're REALLY saying is that if someone posits with you that the universe (or multiverse as it were) has a "natural" origin (whatever THAT is), then you're ALL for it, it being scientific and all.  You'll take it on faith - because there really ISN'T any verifiable method for determining the truth of the proposition - but you'll look down on those who see things as outside of the material confines of your philosophy.  Is this not just having faith in science as opposed to faith in metaphysics?  You can't see, hear, feel, or sense these multiple dimensions, there is no unity of opinion among scientists about their existence or their properties, and you MUST rely on faith that you understand the limits of "the laws of physics".  

                          I'm not saying that you're right or wrong in your assumptions, or even that there really IS a higher power outside of what YOU understand to be natural laws (excuse me, the laws of physics), but I AM saying that it's arrogant for anyone to assume that because their own philosophy will not support anything other than a material explanation for every manifestation of the universe/multiverse.  In other words, I'm suggesting that the matter is by no means settled, meaning you should not be so dismissive of those who suggest that the world is not all it appears to us.

                          •  Meant to say (0+ / 0-)

                            "it's arrogant for anyone to assume that because their own philosophy will not support anything other than a material explanation for every manifestation of the universe/multiverse one must necessarily conclude that all other explanations are excluded and that anyone who suggests an alternative explanation must be an idiot."  

                          •  You know, it might be useful (0+ / 0-)

                            for you to step back, take a deep breath, and think about how you have chosen to debate me:

                            My goodness, wallowing in self-pity much, are we?

                            Break out the tiny violins

                            That's just the titles of the comments.

                            Right from your very first response to my first comment (which distinguished between challenging beliefs and ideas, on the one hand, and attacking the person on the other), you called me intolerant, and you have continued to call me names while attributing to me comments that were made by other people here, or that haven't been made at all here. You have been personally antagonistic from the get-go, and engaged in all manner of emotional attacks on me, while largely ignoring the substance of my arguments.

                            I'll note that I am one of the atheists who criticized a commenter here for making general statements about theists that were clearly prejudicial. In contrast, neither you nor any other theist here have made a single critical comment in response to the many bigoted remarks here about atheists.

                            Clearly, you have issues with your son's atheism, and I am sorry you feel it necessary to dump them on a complete stranger on the Internet. Don't worry, I've been around a long time and have dealt with much worse than the likes of you - but, you might want to consider how your behavior reflects on the people you think you are defending.

                            Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                            by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 09:16:43 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Have you ever actually met an atheist? (0+ / 0-)

                            You argue that "known laws of the universe" support your bigotry,  but the fact is that we DON'T know all all the laws of the universe.  This is why there is serious argument among physicists about whether there is support for the argument that there is dark matter, or for string theory, or for quantum mechanics and its seeming conflicts with the theory of relativity.

                            How do you know how many of the laws of the universe we do or do not understand? You can't even distinguish between the hypotheses of multiple dimensions and the many-universes explanation of quantum mechanics.

                            The search for dark matter has nothing to do with discovery of new laws of physics - on the contrary, the existence of dark matter is only posited because of existing laws of physics. Are you aware of recent experiments which reinforce the hypothesis of dark matter? Do you understand where the notion of dark matter arose in the first place?

                            As for "quantum mechanics and its seeming conflicts with the theory of relativity", do you actually know what that means and can you explain it without simply cutting and pasting something from some new age source - and, can you explain how some physicists believe string theory may reconcile the two?

                            How ironic that you go on to insist that "the laws of physics" are all a matter of faith, that one "MUST" [sic] rely on faith to practice science.

                            Incidentally, you use the word, "science" a lot. It doesn't mean what you think it means.

                            The ultimate irony is yet another of your straw men:

                            What you're REALLY saying is that if someone posits with you that the universe (or multiverse as it were) has a "natural" origin (whatever THAT is), then you're ALL for it, it being scientific and all.  You'll take it on faith - because there really ISN'T any verifiable method for determining the truth of the proposition - but you'll look down on those who see things as outside of the material confines of your philosophy.

                            How ironic given your strident response to another comment just a moment ago:

                            Your attenuated and illogical reasoning in the comment above that it must be what I actually MEANT doesn't do it.  Anyone can twist and extrapolate unintended meanings from anyone else's other statements.

                            which you go on, with no apparent self-irony meter, to state is "not a very scientific thing to do".

                            You do it again in the next paragraph:

                            I AM saying that it's arrogant for anyone to assume that because their own philosophy will not support anything other than a material explanation for every manifestation of the universe/multiverse.

                            I'm not the one who brought confused pseudo-scientific arguments in here that fail to distinguish between multiple dimensions and the many-worlds theory, or who confuse the science fiction concept of the multi-verse with any physics or mathematics-related concept. I never even mentioned physicists, nor have I made any of the straw man arguments you have erected here, in your blind, irrational hatred of atheists and/or scientists.

                            You compound this in your addendum to this comment, in which you state you

                            Meant to say, "it's arrogant for anyone to assume that because their own philosophy will not support anything other than a material explanation for every manifestation of the universe/multiverse one must necessarily conclude that all other explanations are excluded and that anyone who suggests an alternative explanation must be an idiot."  

                            Who suggested that anyone who suggests an alternative explanation must be an idiot? You are the one making all the broad claims about intolerance and arrogance based on nothing but your narrow-minded, uninformed stereotype of what the dreaded "atheist" supposedly believes.
                            You are arguing entirely with an imaginary, pejorative, straw man stereotype of "atheist", which merely reveals your own bigotry and illogical rage-driven thinking.

                            More often than not, you are also arguing with yourself, contradicting in one comment what you state in a previous comment.

                            Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                            by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 08:34:05 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Where to start... (0+ / 0-)

                            argument among physicists about whether there

                            is support for the argument that there is dark matter,

                            There is no argument in physics about the existence of dark matter. You're reading the wrong comic books.

                            What you're REALLY saying [oh, THIS should be good] is that if someone posits with you that the universe (or multiverse as it were) has a "natural" origin (whatever THAT is), then you're ALL for it, it being scientific and all.  You'll take it on faith - because there really ISN'T any verifiable method for determining the truth of the proposition -

                            Since there is nothing of a "non-natural" nature related to anything that could be called "science" I can't imagine what you're talking about. (Actually, neither can you, but you don't realize it.)

                            No scientist is claiming proven "facts" about the state of the universe 10^-43 seconds after the Big Bang. That's just a straw man that you are asserting so you can knock it down. But the following 14 billion years contain no evidence of that big Creation Week or any of the other nonsense religions teach. If you want to cram the Book of Genesis into that 10^-43 seconds, knock yourself out -- but you'll walk alone through a dark valley of of counter-reality without the company of any rational human being.

                            Is this not just having faith in science as opposed to faith in metaphysics?

                            There is a difference between having "faith" in objective reality and having "faith" in mass delusion. That is the difference between science and religion. It is not a small difference, nor is it one designed to piss you off personally. Feel free to fantasize that the world works otherwise.

                            It is always to be taken for granted, that those who oppose an equality of rights never mean the exclusion should take place on themselves. -- Thomas Paine

                            by teachme2night on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 02:51:03 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  Odd that the study of physics does not seem to (0+ / 0-)

                        lead to belief in religious hokum, but belief in religious hokum seems to have created a whole new field of Apologian Physics. Maybe that can replace real science in homeschooling curricula.

                        It is always to be taken for granted, that those who oppose an equality of rights never mean the exclusion should take place on themselves. -- Thomas Paine

                        by teachme2night on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 11:08:21 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Funniest line: (0+ / 0-)

                        And I might add, just because YOU can't see beyond the material...

                        Yes, isn't that a peculiar learning disability...

                        It is always to be taken for granted, that those who oppose an equality of rights never mean the exclusion should take place on themselves. -- Thomas Paine

                        by teachme2night on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 11:10:43 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  That goes in my Quote File... (0+ / 0-)

                      Equating challenges to ideas and beliefs with personal insults is a protective cultural adaptation intended to thwart critical inquiry into religion.

                      It is always to be taken for granted, that those who oppose an equality of rights never mean the exclusion should take place on themselves. -- Thomas Paine

                      by teachme2night on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 10:59:00 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  But let's face it. (0+ / 0-)

                    "Faith" comes easier to the stupid. I'm not saying stupidity is a rigid prerequisite for faith, but it helps.

                    It is always to be taken for granted, that those who oppose an equality of rights never mean the exclusion should take place on themselves. -- Thomas Paine

                    by teachme2night on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 10:56:51 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

          •  Never said they were (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ExStr8

            And of course most religious believers are good people gone astray.

            Let the pastors, rabbis and mullahs mutter their mumbo-jumbo in private and leave the rest of us alone.

            by detler on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 06:22:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Many are humble (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tonedevil, C Barr

          and devout and walk the walk.  But that's not where the money and power are.

          You want to be a Tom Coburn and enlist others of your "brethren" to pray for the death of an elderly Senator with an opposing viewpoint, you've got to be a bible-thumping shitheel.

          (-7.75, -7.69) No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up - Lily Tomlin

          by john07801 on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:45:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  As an atheist, other peoples religions effect (7+ / 0-)

      how I live my life. For example, my girlfriend wanted to order chinese delivery on xmas day. We live in a christian area of the city and not a single one was open near us. So no chinese food on xmas. How shitty is that?

      •  Religions are major actors denying gays civil (8+ / 0-)

        rights, specifically the Mormon and Roman "catholic"
        churches.

        Stonewall was a RIOT!

        by ExStr8 on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:08:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's a damned shame, I have to admit (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ExStr8, john07801, C Barr, Nick Zouroudis

        For my part, I'm just happy to have the day off to spend with my girlfriend/wife and friends and family.

        My theistic friends give me a wide berth. The "I don't care" response has convinced them that I really don't care. And as I've said before, when anyone mentions the reason for the season, I simply reply, "The earth's 23.43 axial tilt".

        Excess ain't rebellion. You're drinking what they're selling. - Cake

        by slatsg on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:14:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You spent the day with your girlfriend (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Turtle Bay, ExStr8, john07801

          AND your wife? Ballsy.

        •  So, you don't care about LGBT rights (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Zotz

          you don't care about protecting a woman's right to choose, you don't care about your tax dollars subsidizing religious proselytizing, you don't care about bans on condoms or family planning education for people in the highest risk HIV/AIDS communities in the world, you don't care about harassment of non-religious in the US military, you don't care about use of the military to proselytize captive audiences in occupied land, you basically don't care about anything that religious beliefs do as long as it doesn't affect you personally in your little personal bubble.

          And, you are on a progressive site dedicated to electing Democrats - why, exactly?

          Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

          by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:04:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  He said that these are a matter of ethics (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slatsg
          •  No need for the attitude (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            txcatlin

            No wonder folks can't have a reasonable discussion around here.

            If it does not impact you ... and that is a big "if" ...

            Those were my first words. All those things you mentioned do impact others, so obviously that's where the line should be drawn.

            As for this being a progressive site, let me suggest that depends on whose ox is being gored. My brother died of AIDs. I have little tolerance for homphobic behavior   ... from anyone. When I blasted Senate candidate Harold Ford, I was labeled a purist. When I criticized candidate and then President Obama regarding the McClurkin episode and about giving the noxious Rick Warren a prominent role in the inauguration, I was taken to task by my fellow "progressives".

            I am an atheist. My lack of religious beliefs are my business. The religious or non-religious beliefs of others are their business. I will speak out in support of progressive issues. If that offends theists or non-theists, that is too bad. But I will discuss the issue based on the merits of the issue, not on someone's superstitions.

            So when I say "I don't care", that also means that I don't care what anyone's religion says about a particular issue. If their religion compels them to work for social justice ... wonderful; but I don't really care about the religious reasons. And if their religious beliefs compel them to be homophobic, then I will fight them, and again I don't care what their religion teaches.

            Finally, I will be tolerant of others and their beliefs ... as I expect them to be tolerant of me.

            Excess ain't rebellion. You're drinking what they're selling. - Cake

            by slatsg on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 04:07:22 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  "whose ox is gored" is a libertarian, not a (0+ / 0-)

              progressive worldview.

              I have little tolerance for homophobic behavior, even though no one is my family has died of AIDS or is gay, to my knowledge. I care about this because it is a matter of fundamental equality and justice and fairness, which are fundamental progressive values IMO.

              If you "only" care about issues that have affected you personally, you are not a progressive, or a Democrat (because caring for the least empowered among us is a core Democratic value).

              Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

              by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 04:52:48 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  So you don't like religion (0+ / 0-)

                I get that.

                The first ammendment guarentees religious freedom, and freedom from religion too, I might add.

                So what is your practical solution? If you wish to tilt at the particular windmill of religious belief, that is your choice. I simply don't see it as a very useful way to spend my time.

                As for being progressive, I don't need to validate myself to you or anyone else. I've been involved in the battles for social justice and peace probably since before you were born.

                Excess ain't rebellion. You're drinking what they're selling. - Cake

                by slatsg on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 05:08:06 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Both practical and philosophical: (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  slatsg, ExStr8

                  From a political standpoint:

                  1. To continue to combat religious intrusion into secular affairs;
                  1. to continue to argue the merits of a rational worldview - if for no other reason than to combat the demonization of science and atheism by religionists.

                  From an educational standpoint:

                  1. to promote reason, the scientific method and critical thinking as essential tools for citizens in a democracy;
                  1. to promote reason, the scientific method and critical thinking as essential tools for human progress;
                  1. to fight superstition, dogma and irrationality wherever they emerge, and NOT to privilege religious dogma, irrationality and superstition over any other kind.

                  From a philosophical standpoint:

                  I find it interesting to discuss the question of the existence of gods.

                  I also find it interesting to discuss the merits of organized religion.

                  Sadly, because of the cultural taboos and biases in America, I can rarely discuss either issue from a purely intellectual, philosophical question with anyone who doesn't already agree with me, which takes away both the fun and the value, because I don't learn anything new.

                  Growing up in Israel, I had frequent debates about both god and religion with deeply devout, orthodox Jews. I can't even have a discussion like that with a progressive Christian on DailyKos.

                  Americans really have no idea how pathologically repressed this society is when it comes to discussing faith and god, in comparison to other putatively free societies in the world.

                  Not only is this sad, from an intellectual point of view, it is a big part of the reason that religion continues its oppressive sway over our body politic.

                  Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                  by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 05:14:42 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Thanks for the answer (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    RandomActsOfReason

                    I agree with you political and educational points.

                    I am an educator in a small rural town, a principal in fact. If you can imagine that -  an atheistic principal in a small rural village. I was also a member of the village council.

                    I have to choose my battles, and have done so with varying degrees of effectivness. As a council member I was the only one to vote against the creche being displayed on public property. In school, I have the Constitution on my side. We have clothing drives where churches donate clothes for our kids. The ground rules always stipulate that no proselytizing is permitted. Ever. Do good deeds because it is the right thing to do. To their credit they have been good about it.

                    When we dicussed our our mission statement and our school goals, I suggested that ethical behavior be included. There was a concern about bringing in religious teachings. I managed to persuade them that there is a difference between religion and ethnics, and though they are not mutually exclusive neither does one necessarily follow from the other.

                    My teaching staff is composed mostly of church goers - with varying degrees of commitment. I think I am helped by the fact that my predecessor was religious and sent out religious emails from time to time. It made them all uncomfortable. They know my viewpoint and they are comfortable, even the ones ho believe I am going to hell. ("He's a great guy and an excellent principal who does great things for our kids. Too bad about the hell business and all of that ....")

                    As far as the philosophical debates, I no longer find them very interesting. Reason is never going to trump their faith. You may be correct with your observation that we are "pathologically repressed this society is when it comes to discussing faith and god".

                    I do take some solace with the fact that the percentage of non-believers is increasing in this country.

                    Excess ain't rebellion. You're drinking what they're selling. - Cake

                    by slatsg on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 05:51:17 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  In my reading of slatsg's comment... (0+ / 0-)

                As for this being a progressive site, let me suggest that depends on whose ox is being gored.

                I interpreted this statement to refer to the DKos community...

                And not referring to his personal philosophy as it seems your statement implies..

                "whose ox is gored" is a libertarian, not a
                progressive worldview.....
                If you "only" care about issues that have affected you personally, you are not a progressive

            •  People are not their beliefs (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              slatsg

              People deserve respect and tolerance; beliefs do not, in my opinion. Nothing I believe is exempt from being attacked, and when my beliefs are attacked I don't view it is an attack on me personally. Only religious beliefs - and only mainstream ones at that - are off limits. We don't extend this privileged position to "cult" religions, to non-theistic philosophies, to political utopias taken on faith such as Communism, or to any other speculations on the nature of reality.

              •  My point is that religious people (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ExStr8

                use the excuse that religious people do good things so I should be thankful for religion. I'm not. Their religious beliefs are irrelevant, as far as I am concerned.

                It is a private matter. If it gives their lives meaning, then good for them. But just as they can use their religious teachings as a reason to do good deeds, so too they can use religious belief to excuse their bad behavior.

                Excess ain't rebellion. You're drinking what they're selling. - Cake

                by slatsg on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 06:03:41 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  Aren't we all impacted... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rieux, happy camper, gsenski, LookingUp

      ... when reason is ignored, when fantasy is put on a par with fact, when the products of superstition are elevated and worshipped?  Even if this behavior is done behind church doors, does it not degrade the entire society as a result?  

    •  Do you argue that others' beliefs don't impact (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ExStr8

      everyone else? In the real world? Seriously? On a progressive political blog?

      Can I interest you in a bridge over a swamp to nowhere?

      Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

      by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:59:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I do like swamps. (0+ / 0-)

        I think you know what I mean.

        There are many things that impact the real world:
        Alcohol, drugs, religion and other opiates. I enjoy alcohol ... the others not so much. Alcohol can negatively impact lives but yet I believe I should be able to enjoy it.

        I want to be left alone by the theists. In turn I will leave them to there superstitions.

        Excess ain't rebellion. You're drinking what they're selling. - Cake

        by slatsg on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:13:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You compare the impact of alcohol and drugs (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ExStr8

          on individuals' lives, to the impact of religious institutions on American legislation and politics and social attitudes?

          Are you serious?

          And what's with this bullshit strawman:

          Alcohol can negatively impact lives but yet I believe I should be able to enjoy it.

          Anyone here, let alone the diarist, propose restricting your freedom to practice the religious practices of your choice?

          Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

          by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:19:18 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't practice religion. (0+ / 0-)

            I'm an atheist ... and I want to be left alone by the theists. In turn I will leave them alone regarding their superstitions.

            Excess ain't rebellion. You're drinking what they're selling. - Cake

            by slatsg on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 04:11:18 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  But they don't leave you alone (0+ / 0-)

              they don't leave anyone else alone. Do you care? If not, are you a progressive? If so, what does "progressive" mean to you? If not, why are you here? Are you a "leave me alone I don't give a shit about anyone else " libertarian?

              I'm trying to understand how you reconcile your "just leave me alone" mentality with the purposes of this community and this discussion.

              I, too, would love religious people to leave me alone. But they don't, they won't, and they can't - because inherent in the nature of organized religion is the conviction that they know a better way, and that they must, as good people, get others to see the light.

              So, in the real world in which I live in, I have to fight a continuous battle against religious encroachment, and to fight an ongoing battle to reduce the hatred, exclusion and distrust of atheists in the American society.

              Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

              by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 04:50:07 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Go back and read what he said. You're off track. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Collideascope, slatsg

        You ask ...

        Do you argue that others' beliefs don't impact everyone else?

        When slatsg said ..

        If it does not impact you ...
        and that is a big "if" ... but if another person's belief doesn't impact you, why do you care?

    •  Great comment. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      C Barr, MRA NY

      Lot's of arrogance and intolerance in this diary. I can certainly understand not believing in God and having once been religious myself, believing. But I find absolute certainty in such matters either way annoying and counterproductive.

      Our obligation to survive and flourish is owed not just to ourselves, but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring. Carl Sagan

      by RALM on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:51:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you for this (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RALM

        But I find absolute certainty in such matters either way annoying and counterproductive.

        It's like everyone creates their favorite strawman and flails away.  Quite the spectacle.

      •  Do you consider absolute certainty (0+ / 0-)

        about the Earth not being flat annoying and counterproductive?

        How about absolute certainty about black people not being inherently inferior to white people?

        Or, absolute certainty about women deserving equal pay for equal work?

        Why is it that only certainty about god is annoying and counterproductive - and why is this ONLY raised as an issue when an atheist challenges it?

        There are multiple "I am a Christian" diaries here all the time, testifying and proselytizing and emoting, and I never see you or others talking about how annoying the "absolute certainty" is.

        Even though the overwhelming majority of atheists reject the notion of absolute certainty - certainly, all atheists who arrived at their atheism as the result of scientific thinking, reject the notion of absolute certainty - that does not mean that the alternative is to grant all beliefs equal credibility.

        Are you agnostic about Zeus? Xenu? Santa? Then why Jehovah or Jesus or Allah?

        Even strong atheists, of which I am one, state there is no god because there is no evidence nor explanatory need for one, not because we have "proved" it.

        Saying you find "absolute certainty either way annoying and counterproductive" is to play into a false- equivalency meme used by religious apologists to diminish atheists by attacking their credibility, rather than addressing the substance of their arguments.

        Absolute certainty is not the issue. The issue is relative certainty, which is what we work with in every field of human endeavor every day.

        You rely on it when you cross a bridge, or turn the key in your car, or set your alarm, or walk out the front door rather than jumping out a 5th story window. Can you be "absolutely certain" those behavior are based on "absolutely certain" assumptions? There is a non-null possibility that gravity may be suspended tomorrow, that Thor may reach down and jiggle that bridge, that days may start having 25 hours.

        Yet, you manage to function ok.

        There is nothing wrong with strong relative certainty, which is what many atheists have (others have weak relative certainty, and agnostics are uncertain one way or another).

        Firmly refusing to believe in something for which there is no evidence is not at all like firmly believing in something for which there is no evidence.

        Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

        by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 09:26:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I try to avoid religious (9+ / 1-)

    discussions mostly

    Because at some point it always comes down to the person believing in the tooth fairy or some other fairy tale and they are just incapable of rational thought

    Whether they are Jew, Christian, Muslim or some other similar fairy tale

    They are all just pathetic needy individuals incapable of dealing with their own emptiness so they fill it with religious nonsense and fantasy

    •  Highly rec'd (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gsenski, politicalstu

      What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

      by agnostic on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:37:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's awfully harsh. n/t (0+ / 0-)
    •  That's their strategy for avoiding challenges (5+ / 0-)

      all the more reason to continue to insist on discussions on this topic, to challenge the "taboo" they have imposed, with their meme that even questioning religious beliefs is a hateful act.

      This is how zealots seek to shut down criticism and free inquiry, by making discussion so uncomfortable that critics impose self-censorship.

      This is why creationists and anti-science nuts like the anti-vaccine folks thrive - because scientists are so disgusted and are so set upon by these spittle-spewing zealots, that the scientists prefer to withdraw to their ivory towers and refrain from debate.

      Unfortunately, just as this neglect by the scientific community has resulted in a much more hostile environment in which to practice and fund science, so the neglect by the rational community has resulted in a much more hostile environment for rational, not-faith-based, policymaking.

      Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

      by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:08:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tonedevil, RandomActsOfReason

        Through my travels I have been to many churches

        It is funny to watch these uneducated preacher sin many small churches attempt to make sense out of the things they hae read but do not understand

        I go to a family members home from time to time, out of respect I listen to the prayer of his father in law

        He is very old and mutters through this payer which is so utterly ridiculous it defies description

        In it he somehow wanders through the scourgeing and humiliation of Jesus then on to the fairy tale nature of religion and finally to his own mortality which seems almost obsecene in the way he "prays" about watching over his family from beyond the grave

        If he were to stand on street corner and mumble on like this he would be locked up for insanity, rightly so

        Unfortunately he has this largely uneducated family trappped in this ring of insanity and fantasy

        He tolerates me since I do not make a scene, however I have made it perfectly clear what utter nonsense all of this is to everyone

    •  I HRd this - something I rarely do. And, seeing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RandomActsOfReason

      as how, as a believing Christian, you would be applying this to me:

      They are all just pathetic needy individuals incapable of dealing with their own emptiness so they fill it with religious nonsense and fantasy

      I will qualify my reason as personal insult.

      Oh, can't leave this part out:

      Because at some point it always comes down to the person believing in the tooth fairy or some other fairy tale and they are just incapable of rational thought

      I would suggest that you

      try to avoid religious discussions

      more than mostly, altogether, since what you post contributes absolutely nothing and is offensive - and I'm the one without rational thought?

      "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

      by MRA NY on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 05:21:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nice (0+ / 1-)
        Recommended by:
        Hidden by:
        MRA NY

        At least you did not condemn me to hell for my position

        Religion is to be mocked

        It is worthless

        Boogey men and deities are the same thing

        •  Your attitude implies that you need no (0+ / 0-)

          assistance in making your own hell right here on earth.

          "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

          by MRA NY on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 07:53:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I think MRA NY made a valid point (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          matching mole, MRA NY

          and there is a different between mocking theiSM, and making blanket statements of character about all theiSTS.

          Just as there is a difference between mocking religiON, and making blanket statements of character about all religious BELIEVERS.

          Not that mocking is particularly the most effective or constructive way to go about it in any case, but the point is that you shouldn't blur the lines.

          You made a statement about character which you explicitly attributed to "ALL" people who believe in a god and/or follow to a religion (those are not the same thing, BTW). That is a manifestation of prejudice.

          BTW, I would note that, yet again, there are multiple atheists here rejecting this expression of bigotry against theists, while overt expressions of bigotry against atheists here - some of them much, much worse, like arguing that Karl Rove must be an atheist because he is a liar and a cheat, and his god is money and power not the Christian god - are never met by a single, solitary pushback from even one single, solitary "progressive" theist here.

          Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

          by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 08:13:09 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I don't agree with the HR, but I agree with your (0+ / 0-)

        comment.

        Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

        by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 08:14:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  This is what gives atheists a bad name (3+ / 0-)

      and I have been one my whole life.

      I feel free to attack and even ridicule religious beliefs themselves, but you go too far. Way too far. I haven't found religious people different from me in any respect other than having beliefs that I don't have. There is no reason for you to belittle them.

      •  At least you were not so offended (0+ / 0-)

        that you hr'd me

        I do not belittle them

        They do that themselves

        It is interesting that on an otherwise well thought of blog, educated people can be so offended by the mere laughing at of religion as a supernatural fantasy, one is hr'd

        This is a discussion and some had rather stiffle that thought

        Not you

        But look around at how defensive we are of our fantasies

        Notice I commented and moved on, I did not retaliate with an hr of my own

        •  I have to agree with denise b (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          denise b, RandomActsOfReason, MRA NY

          also an atheist, but kind of appalled by some the discourse here.  I don't have any problem with vigorously debating and criticizing ideas.

          However your post makes assertions about the personal characteristics of believers that are both insulting and patently untrue.  Incapable of rationale thought?  Well you can certainly argue that belief in god is irrational, but that all believers are incapable of rational thought?  That is a completely unsupportable statement.

          I could go on in the same vein about the 'pathetic needy individuals' statement and so on but I would just be repeating myself.

          "One road is paved with gold. One road is just a road." - Patti Smith

          by matching mole on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 07:13:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  As long as you're not smiting... (6+ / 0-)

    ...all those that don't completely agree with you, I have no issue with that. I think that Jesus and I would have agreed on much if we had ever met over bread.

    The problem is the missionary, evangelistic branches that try to convince, coerce, threaten or kill unbelievers that don't follow their ways down to the last "tittle and jot." They need to learn to accept that some simply are not interested in or believe their theology.

    "Ridicule may lawfully be employed where reason has no hope of success."

    by QuestionAuthority on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:05:02 PM PST

  •  Some thoughts/questions: (0+ / 0-)

    The religionists among us would have us groping about like the proverbial six blind men feeling an elephant.

    I am a unitarian universalist, a religion whose basic premise is largely summed up by a recognition of the blind/elephant conundrum.  Am I a religionist?  Or does mine not count as a religion in your view?  (I suppose that may be one way of looking at it, given that it is a religion that welcomes atheists)

    Hebraic religion is a crock, full of outmoded, outrageous ideas that should be studied in the same fashion that the beliefs of animists are studied.

    Is that really it?  I can't tell if you're saying that the writings of the hebraic religions should be studied as if they are largely myths, with potential nuggets of value alongside antiquated and useless dogma, or if you're saying that both they and animist traditions are basically useless.

    Why does the god of the bible act in such strange and mysterious ways, setting up this obtuse situation where he creates people who are flawed (i.e. they sin) and then creating this theater of the absurd where you have this ridiculous trinity and crucifixion and all the other nonsense and mumbo-jumbo that Christianity preaches?

    Is the theater of the absurd, and the point of the relgion in question, actually a necessary interpretation of the scripture?  Does the scripture ever actually say anything about a trinity?  Is the "accepted" Christian canon necessarily an accurate or complete recitation of Jesus's story or wisdom?  Is the mumbo-jumbo you decry necessarily a problem of Jesus's ministry, or of what the "organized" denominations that have followed have done with it?

    •  Ech. (0+ / 0-)

      Is the theater of the absurd, and the point of the relgion in question, actually a necessary interpretation of the scripture?

      "Necessary"? Of course not; nothing is a "necessary" interpretation of anything. In sufficiently unscrupulous hands, any text can mean absolutely anything at all that the interpreter wants it to mean. When blind political preference is allowed to override any and all meanings intended by people--writers of scripture, religious believers, or ordinary speakers of English--who are or were simply trying to communicate, anything is possible. Meanwhile, reality disappears under the mass of people playing absurd word games.

      And so we get Unitarian Universalists calling themselves "religious" even when they don't believe in anything supernatural; people declaring that the "Roman Catholic Church is not a christian religion" in massive denial of what those eight words mean; and said UUs declaring themselves "a religion that welcomes atheists" despite decades of abuse that atheists have suffered at UU hands.


      For those of us less prone to Humpty Dumpty semantics, Christian scripture paints an undeniable picture of numerous "theater[s] of the absurd." Some of them resemble ideas that have been powerful doctrines in Christian history; others don't. Do you seriously dispute that?


      Looking at the religious aspects of many intergroup conflicts, at the violence carried out by zealots in the name of religion, some people conclude that the world would be safer “religion-free.” They may even try living this way themselves. But too often they only practice a form of self-delusion. Nature abhors a vacuum and so does the human spirit. As C.S. Lewis said, the opposite of a belief in God is not a belief in nothing; it is a belief in anything. Sweep the demon of religion out the door and, like the story in the Gospels, you may only succeed in making room for an evil spirit worse than the first—this one accompanied by seven friends (Luke 11:24-26; Matt. 12:43-45). Zealous atheism can perform this role of demonic pseudoreligion.

      - John A. Buehrens (UUA President, 1993-2001), in A Chosen Faith, "the classic introduction to Unitarian Universalism"


      Who are these people who still think that it's special and unique to reject traditional images of the Deity? Are they the same guys who sit with me at weddings and let drop the bomb that they respect what I do but, rilly, they're "spiritual but not religious??" "That's fascinating and special, dear," I tell them. "But I'd love it so much if we could conclude this conversation right this minute and you'd go fetch me another cocktail."

      It hasn't happened yet but I swear...!

      [...]

      For an atheist to expect CHURCHES to pander to the a- theistic search for truth and meaning is like hiring a dental hygienist with no arms to do your cleaning, and expecting her to do a good job of it.

      - UU minister, Norwell, Massachusetts

      •  And let's not forget: UU = 0.3% of US religious (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ExStr8, Tonedevil, gsenski

        UCC, another progressive church widely touted here, is another 0.3%.

        Meanwhile, over 80% of Christians in the US (which means over 80% of Christian VOTERS in the US, which equals over 60% of all voters in the US) believe in a personal god who responds to intercessory prayer.

        One can always pull out some individual or tiny minority as a counter-example to almost anything - but the reality is that, in the US, from the point of view of this politically-focused website, "Religious" means, essentially "Christian" (the sum total of ALL non-Christian religious believers in the US is 3.9%), and "Christian" in the US means, essentially, believer in the literal god of the Bible, in literal miracles, in literal prayers invoking literal, physical response from an actual, personal god.

        Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

        by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:16:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Of course, "No" is a perfectly valid response (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tonedevil, matching mole

          to any request. So is, "Not right now, but wait a bit." Parents use those two responses to their kids all the time, and no one accuses them of being bad parents.

          Today my family is experiencing the ultimate value of organized religion. While I was at home getting some work done on the computer, I got a call from the senior warden at my inlaws' church. My mother-in-law has been admitted to the hospital with severe stomach pains. Thanks to their belief in "organized religion", there were people they could call, and who could bring my dad-in-law to the hospital and stay with him (one was the husband of the church's rector, who coincidentally has a CT scan scheduled at the hospital this afternoon) until the spouse and I can get there after he gets off work (we should get there around 4:30; he should be home in about half an hour), then take FIL home and get him some dinner.

          At its heart, organized religion is just a group of people with common goals and interests who gather together to pursue those goals and interests. In an era where people rarely know their neighbors (my inlaws' have outlived most of theirs) and families are spread out across the hemispheres (we're fortunate that we're not that far away), anything that builds community is good. The problem arises when people try to force their ideas of "community" and how to live on everyone else.

          Sorry for the rant, but I'm just worried right now and trying to figure out next steps -- I'm not ready to be the only woman left in the family just yet... :'(

          Civility is the way of telling someone to go fuck themselves in such a way that the someone agrees it probably is a good idea.

          by Cali Scribe on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:23:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry about your family crisis (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ExStr8, Tonedevil

            But, since you brought it up as an argument in favor of religion, I have to point out that you are confusing two independent things: religious belief, and community affiliation.

            One need not belong to a religion to belong to a community, nor to have members of a community care for one another.

            That being the case, one can legitimately question whether the "religion" part is either necessary, or desirable - considering all the inherent drawbacks that come with religious belief and affiliation.

            Again, not to diminish at all my concern, as a non-religious non-member of your community  who doesn't even know you beyond a pseudonymous screen name, but who nontheless has a sincere concern, and who would not hesitate (and has not hesitated many times in my life) to extend precisely the kind of tangible care and support and help to others who did not share my beliefs and who were not members of my "community".

            Perhaps, in fact, it is worth contemplating whether it is actually a plus that people in a religious community think only, or at least first and foremost, of the welfare of other members of their religious community, rather than defining themselves in more universal and inclusive terms.

            I remember well when, on 9/11, we were gathered, a number of neighbors and I, in front of the house of our neighbor who was killed on board one of the planes.

            A well meaning local pastor came by, and joined the circle. Upon hearing that a couple were new to the area, his first comment was, "have you joined a congregation yet"? Not a single word of comfort to a known atheist like me - even though the dead neighbor was in the house next to me and was a friend - but an immediate invitation to a new couple to join the flock. Couldn't even wait five minutes to jump in in the midst of this tragedy to push his belief that one within his church can one find comfort and support - perhaps reinforced by the fact that that is the only place he offers it (except when helping the poor and hungry in return for them taking in a sermon or a Bible, of course).

            Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

            by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:48:15 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Just want to acknowledge your comments (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RandomActsOfReason

              and I'd respond in more detail, but my spouse just got home and we're running up to the hospital as soon as he changes jackets.

              Civility is the way of telling someone to go fuck themselves in such a way that the someone agrees it probably is a good idea.

              by Cali Scribe on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 04:05:19 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Wow (0+ / 0-)

          To both.  Yes, UU is only .3% of all church membership.  I didn't realize that minority status made me "unreligious" because of what other "religious" people believe.

          I also didn't realize that the words of a single UU minister, or a passage from a book that is obviously and badly taken out of context and twisted (the author speaks of "zealot" atheists being as dangerous as their religious counterparts) constituted "decades of abuse".

          Notably, 18% of UU'ers say they are atheists, another 33% say agnostic.

          Wow they must all be so stupid to not know how abused they are.

          •  I neither said, nor implied (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tonedevil

            that minority status made you "unreligious". Didn't even use that term which you quote as if it were part of my argument.

            My point was simply that UUs are not a factor in the effect of religious belief on politics and policy and society and culture in the United States of America.

            On the other hand, the tenor and content of your response suggests that at least some UU followers share the intolerance, narrow-mindedness and zealotry of less liberal denominations.

            Or, perhaps you were responding to some other atheist here, real or imagined. I know we all look alike to some Believers...

            Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

            by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:51:03 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Apologies (0+ / 0-)

              I thought "to both", and the content of the comment, made it clear I was also replying to the parent comment.  

              Your claim that UU'ers have no effect on religious belief, policy, politics, etc. based on raw numbers seems incredibly simplistic.  Incredibly.

              The "tenor and content" of my response indicates nothing about my "tolerance" of atheists, or any "narrow-mindedness" towards their views, which are far closer to mine than the views of most religious people.  My comments certainly indicated no "zealotry", and I dare you to cite anything I have said in any comment that could be construed as evidence for your baseless accusation.

              The only people who sound alike to me are ones who say the same thing, especially when they drip with the same self-righteousness when they do it.

          •  Mere evasion. (0+ / 0-)

            The word "religious" actually means things when people (such as the diarist here) use it. Your own idiosyncratic usage is your own business, but importing it into someone else's assertions and then crowing about the absurdity of the result is risible. (And it's something UUs do all the time.)


            I also didn't realize that the words of a single UU minister, or a passage from a book that is obviously and badly taken out of context and twisted (the author speaks of "zealot" atheists being as dangerous as their religious counterparts) constituted "decades of abuse".

            Holy cow, you're arrogant.

            First, the Buehrens passage is absolutely not "badly taken out of context and twisted," pal. That book is chock full of nasty, bigoted attacks on atheists--not that I'd expect you, of all people, to notice. The quoted passage, which contains vastly more ugly bile than you're honest enough to recognize, is merely the low point of a book that also contains awful atheophobic shots like these:

            One cost of avoiding religion altogether may be spiritual isolation. Too often today couples are already socially isolated. ... Having raised their children in a spiritual vacuum, apart from any religious discussion or community, committed secularists are sometimes shocked when their offspring suddenly join a high-demand cult or follow a seductive guru. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does the human spirit. The lure of the various isms, though hardly unknown to religious people, may be even more intense for those who avoid religion.

            - Buehrens (underline added--eight whole pages after the previously quoted passage)


            Some Unitarian Universalists, who still suffer from a religious education based upon teachings from the Bible that inspired fear rather than love in their hearts, have little desire to return to the Bible and reclaim its essential teachings as a part of their own faith. Others, Unitarian Universalist Christians, center their faith and their devotions on the scriptures.

            - Rev. Forrest Church


            The Roman Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor once wrote a letter to her friend Cecil Dawkins, who had expressed dissatisfaction with all forms of organized religion and may have expected sympathy. O’Connor didn’t offer much. “It is easy for any child to pick out the faults in the sermon on his [Buehrens adds ‘or her’] way home from Church every Sunday,” she told him. ...

            Many of our problems with religion and love come from confusions about love, human and divine. ... The real God is unconditioned, transcendent, and sends sunlight and rain on the just and the unjust alike.

            - Buehrens (N.B.: Cecil Dawkins is a woman--but also an atheist, so Buehrens has no obligation to give a shit)


            When reason is reduced to rationality, it too can become an idol. We lose track of the spirit, even of such documents as The Humanist Manifesto, by focusing on the letter. The more legalistic thinkers among us believe that in order to be intellectually legitimate, any opinion we hold, religious or otherwise, must be verifiable as fact. Such people resemble fundamentalists of the right; they are fundamentalists of the left. Such people hold that anything that is not rational is irrational and therefore is to be rejected. A sound reason knows its own limitations. It suggests that beyond the rational lies a transrational realm. We enter it in our dreams; we enter it in moments of worship. We enter it singing, when the tunes are good, even if the words are not. We enter it in lovemaking and dancing and stargazing. We break through to a transrational realm beyond knowing or naming.

            By ignoring this reality in a narrow attempt to guard the portals of rationality against all intruders, we betray the teachings of both reason and science (which, together with our rejection of idolatry, comprise the wellspring of our faith’s fifth source). Many leading scientists are far ahead in this regard. Recent discoveries in mathematics, cell biology, and quantum physics make no apparent sense, at least not according to the known canons of rationality. In probing the mysteries of the universe and the mind, researchers on the edge of discovery find themselves moving freely between the rational and the transrational realms. The physicist Alan Lightman writes, “Of all people today, I think scientists have the deepest faith in the unseen world. The greater the scientist, the deeper his [or her] faith.” Even allowing for hyperbole, where does that leave people who respect science but who don’t know anything about it? Having traded God for “truth,” they are left with neither.

            The philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich once said that “the first word of religion must be spoken against religion.” When spoken, it is almost always a word of warning against idolatries of the mind and spirit. This is not merely a negative, or critical, function, for it liberates us to heed the guidance of reason and science with open, instead of dogmatically focused, eyes.

            - Church (underline added)

            Second, it takes a whole lot of gall to claim that my assertion of "decades of abuse" was "constituted" by "the words of a single UU minister" plus Buehrens' bile. But if you'll sneer at me for posting a mere few examples--how about several more?

            Atheists, at their worst, can be as nasty, as self-righteous, and even as violent as Christian and Islamic fundamentalists.
            The twentieth century was the first in which militant atheists gained significant political power. Quite often the results were horrifying. In Communist China, cadres destroyed Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucian temples and herded monks and nuns into slave labor camps. Thousands of Jewish, Christian, and pagan religious leaders were murdered or imprisoned during the Stalinist years in the Soviet Union. Similar atrocities—committed in the name of "reason" and "progress"—have been seen in Cambodia, Cuba, Vietnam, North Korea, and other nations.

            Be grateful for the wall between church and state that protects U.S. citizens. It's a barrier that also defends Unitarian Universalists and others from government persecution directed by antireligious bigots. In order to appreciate the experience, talk with the Unitarians in Rumania who suffered through decades of Communist tyranny and abuse.

            - Andrea Liounis, "At Their Worst," UU World, May/June 2003


            To be sure, I didn't find a whole lot in [American Atheists President Ellen] Johnson's message with which to disagree. But my attitude tends to be: "Who cares?" I know my views are not mainstream, and I don't expect to see them reflected in the majority culture; all I ask is that the majority's views not be imposed on me. The idea that nearly 300 people would travel across the country to spend a weekend [attending the annual American Atheists convention] complaining about such trivial insults [as "In God We Trust" on currency and "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance] — if, indeed, they can even be considered insults — struck me as weird.

            - Dan Kennedy, "Are You with the Atheists?", UU World, January/February 2003


            Our resistance to religious language, I believe, helps to account for the struggle that so many of us experience in trying to say who we are as Unitarian Universalists. I always encourage people to work on their elevator speech, what you'd say when you're going from the sixth floor to the lobby and somebody asks you, "What's a Unitarian Universalist?" You've got forty-five seconds. Here's my latest: "The Unitarian side tells us that there is only one God, one spirit of life, one power of love. The Universalist side tells us that God is a loving God, condemning none of us, valuing the spark of divinity that is in every human being." So my version of what Unitarian Universalism stands for is, "One God, no one left behind."

            - Rev. Bill Sinkford (UUA President 2001-09), "Share the Good News with a world that badly needs it," UU World, March/April 2003


            I have sometimes used a simple phrase to describe my overarching perspective on life. It’s shaped, I say, by a “biblical humanism.” In using the term “humanist” I am not refusing to think about God or to search for transcendence.

            ....

            I am not interested in using my critical skills to tear apart or dismiss the religious experience of others in the name of my supposed “scientific” superiority or cultural modernity. No, I take the term “biblical humanist” from the German Jewish sage Martin Buber. ....

            - Buehrens, "Why bother with the Bible?", UU World, July/August 2003

            Want more? Or are the past two presidents of the UUA, the bestselling book from the Association's house press, and constant hostility in the Association magazine, not enough?


            Notably, 18% of UU'ers say they are atheists, another 33% say agnostic.

            That's an eight-year-old survey, which predates Sinkford's reign as President. Both of those numbers have fallen precipitously (and continue to do so), as Baby Boomer nonbelievers die off and younger atheists leave because of abuse related to the above.


            Wow they must all be so stupid to not know how abused they are.

            You don't speak for them, pal. Nor, clearly, do you even care.


            My school [Meadville-Lombard Theological School, the UUA's seminary in Chicago] used to be notable for innovations in religious humanist theology. We used to be at the forefront of efforts [to] reconcile science and religion; now, visiting scientists reported that seminarians lacked basic scientific education. Humanist was a word often used in a derogatory sense in my UU classes and it was more often than not preceded by adjectives like “old”, “crusty”, “corpse-cold”, “bloodless”, and “unfeeling.”  It was creepy to hear people use expressions like, “the congregation is waiting for the old humanists to die off before it changes the order of service.” It was more popular among students to be a Universalist … than a Unitarian, a feeler than a thinker, a prophet than a pastor, a theist than an atheist, and anything but a humanist.

            - UU seminarian, 2005

      •  You make no sense word policeman (0+ / 0-)

        And so we get Unitarian Universalists calling themselves "religious" even when they don't believe in anything supernatural; people declaring that the "Roman Catholic Church is not a christian religion" in massive denial of what those eight words mean; and said UUs declaring themselves "a religion that welcomes atheists" despite decades of abuse that atheists have suffered at UU hands.

        1. When did I say I didn't believe in anything supernatural?
        1. Even if I didn't:

        Religion:

        1. 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.
        1. My statement that the Roman Catholic Church is not "christian" was obviously meant as a commentary that it fails to live up to the ideals and morals of Jesus Christ, and therefore is not deserving of the label.  The fact that you are unable to perceive this use of language completely demolishes your claim to be any reliable arbiter of same.
        1. As noted in my other comment, your claim that UU has inflicted "decades of abuse" based on a single statement from a single minister would be bad enough, but then you go and do what you explicitly decry in your comment, which is to blatantly twist and misuse another passage that refers only to the danger posed by zealotry of any kind.  As I also point out, a majority of UU'ers describe themselves as either atheists or agnostics.  Maybe a little more evidence would be appropriate before you accuse them all of battered-congregant syndrome.
        •  As Rieux noted, (0+ / 0-)

          My statement that the Roman Catholic Church is not "christian" was obviously meant as a commentary that it fails to live up to the ideals and morals of Jesus Christ, and therefore is not deserving of the label.

          You've introduced the goal-post-moving, well-poisoning tautological argument that anything done by Christians that you think is wrong, is not "really" Christian. You also seem to claim here to be the sole arbiter and authority on what the ideals and morals of Jesus Christ are really all about, dismissing the hundreds of millions of Catholics around the world that disagree with you.

          As for you UU bit, it is a bit ironic that you insist on conflating UU followers with the UU establishment, even while you continue to attempt to marginalize the official statements of the UU leadership as "a single statement from a single minister" and not representative of the rank and file.

          I don't read where Rieux claimed that the rank and file of UU are anti-atheist, any more than he has claimed that the rank and file Catholic is representative of the institution of the Catholic Church.

          Rather, it is the point that membership in a bigoted institution does not relieve one of responsibility for the perpetuation of that institution - even if one personally does not support the positions of the institution.

          Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

          by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 04:37:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary, detler. Many thanks. (9+ / 0-)

    I'm currently using Richard Dawkins' terminology--
    delusionals, as in "The God Delusion."

    I know many will find this "harsh", but as
    one who is called "inherently disordered", and
    worse, by the Roman "catholic" church, suffice it
    to say "they started it"! <veg>

    And I'm not even trying to deny them their basic
    civil rights!

    Stonewall was a RIOT!

    by ExStr8 on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:06:24 PM PST

    •  The Roman Catholic Church (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ExStr8

      Is not a christian religion.

      •  Sheer genius, dear Turtle Bay! :) (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Turtle Bay

        Stonewall was a RIOT!

        by ExStr8 on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:11:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, please. (4+ / 0-)

        Spare us the word games. Christianity is not just what liberals deign to say it is.

        The guy hanging on all of those crucifixes is not Marshall Applewhite. Catholicism is "a christian religion" to anyone who actually cares that words mean things.

        •  Not a liberal vs conservative thing (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          slatsg, john07801

          Start with the Protestant Reformation, and the Pope as antichrist.
          Those views got a new boost during the period of Irish immigration in the US (they were equivalent to the Mexican immigrants of the time)
          Ian Paisley carries the banner in northern Ireland today.

          In my parents and grand-parents generations Catholics were about as scary as Jews and Blacks.

          "Santa Claus wears a Red Suit, He must be a communist. And a beard and long hair, Must be a pacifist." Arlo Guthrie

          by Catte Nappe on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:27:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I was raised by one of each (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slatsg, Catte Nappe, ExStr8, C Barr

            A devoutly Irish-Catholic mother whose only swear words were uttered in response to John Lennon's observation that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ.  

            And an "Orangeman:" a Northern-Irish Protestant father (more anti-Catholic, actually).  To him, wearing green on St. Patrick's Day is a political statement.

            It's no wonder I'm an atheist.

            (-7.75, -7.69) No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up - Lily Tomlin

            by john07801 on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:58:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  You know ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tonedevil, RandomActsOfReason

        I've always wondered why so many people (mostly Protestants or fundamentalists of one stripe or another, but I don't want to make any assumptions about you) are so adamant in their contention that Roman Catholics aren't Christians. Yes, yes, I've had it explained to me, but never in a way that made any sense. It seemed to be a matter of faith, so no sane explanation seemed to be necessary to the explainers.

        Maybe you can explain it a little better.

        Care to take a swing at this vital theological question?

        (If a link to the Jack Chick tract is the best you can do, have at it! I've read it, and I don't find it convincing, but it does have great entertainment value.)

        America: It's a good IDEA for a country ...

        by Tony Seybert on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:32:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Don't expect Chick. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tonedevil, RandomActsOfReason

          Turtle Bay has describe him/herself above as a Unitarian Universalist--a small denomination on the far liberal wing of organized religion (if, indeed, it even is religious).

          It's fairly clear that (s)he is arguing that the "core" of Christianity is love'n'peace'n'all that really wonderful stuff (the mountains of nastiness and horror in both testaments of the Bible and in Christian history notwithstanding)--and since Catholicism preaches certain ugly ideas, it's "not Christian."

          It's your basic well-poisoning "anything that's bad can't be 'true Christianity'" gambit.

  •  I AM a bubble . . . (7+ / 0-)

    ...in the quantum foam of the Cosmic Bubblebath. Ommmmmmm!

    Life is a fling of bubbles
    from the wand of a Gleeful Child
    We swirl in opalescent skins
    as seemingly separate spheres
    dizzily dancing, spiraling upward
    on Laughter's blown breath
    until, bursting, we discover
    what was Without is Within

    And may the Blessings of the Great Melanesian Amphibian from the Frog Star Croakus be upon thee.

    Ain't life a hoot?

    Everything is conscious, sentient, ALIVE...even the light that embraces us from our star, Sun. Hear O Universe, I am grateful!

    by Donna O on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:10:26 PM PST

    •  Thanks (6+ / 0-)

      The poet in me concurs.

      Let the pastors, rabbis and mullahs mutter their mumbo-jumbo in private and leave the rest of us alone.

      by detler on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:12:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Omphaloskepsis... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tonedevil, C Barr

        I gave it up for Lint.

        Best. Scrabble. Word. Ever.

        Everything is conscious, sentient, ALIVE...even the light that embraces us from our star, Sun. Hear O Universe, I am grateful!

        by Donna O on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:21:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The rational, monist skeptic in me (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          politicalstu

          finds your animist signature every bit as irrational as mainstream religious beliefs or UFOlogy.

          Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

          by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:26:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You're on a roll here tonight (0+ / 0-)
            •  I note that virtually all your comments (0+ / 0-)

              here and on other diaries are of the vacuous, ambiguous nature, which one can read in any number of ways.

              Is this a stratagem to build recs in order to free you up to do some serious trolling, or do you genuinely have no position on any issue of any political significance ever discussed on DailyKos?

              Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

              by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 04:46:59 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yep, I'm saving all those recs up (0+ / 0-)

                like blue-chip stamps.  Gonna cash in that book big time someday.

                •  Your failure to answer the final question noted (0+ / 0-)

                  Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                  by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 04:55:32 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  OK, here's my thoughts (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    dkistner, RandomActsOfReason

                    or do you genuinely have no position on any issue of any political significance ever discussed on DailyKos?

                    I feel that there is great value in listening. And that we should watch ourselves.  And when we talk too loudly and too much, that we should stop and listen again, to make sure that we haven't projected our own misinterpretations upon what someone else is saying.  The world would be a better place if we did this.

                    •  I don't disagree (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      C Barr

                      And certainly don't hold myself up as a paragon of civilized debate.

                      I'm just not sure how posting ambiguous one liners (or even one emoticoners) is a contribution to better dialog.

                      Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                      by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 08:07:30 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

          •  Hey, being irrational is one of the few (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            C Barr

            pleasures of batty old wimmens like moi. You have no idea how freeing it is to just admit that I have no earthly idea what is going on, and that by some folks accounting I am a new age lunatic fringe nutcase.

            I smooch thee gently upon thy most random and reasonable forehead, and I proclaim, "Rejoice Dear Hearts! For everything that is is just somebody's perception."

            I shall speak kindly of thee to the Great Melanesian Frog.

            Everything is conscious, sentient, ALIVE...even the light that embraces us from our star, Sun. Hear O Universe, I am grateful!

            by Donna O on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 04:35:52 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's great to admit one has no earthly idea (0+ / 0-)

              what is going on - of course, that is not what your signature file, or your comments, suggest.

              Rather, they suggest that you hold a particular animist belief - and that, when challenged on that belief, you resort to handwaving, preemptive victimization and the old "nothing is real, it's all perception" dogma, in lieu of a substantive response.

              Pride in irrationality is not exactly an endearing quality in this day and age. It is irrationality that has brought us the troubles we fight right here on this blog. Irrationality burns heretics, hangs witches, and denies women the right to choose and same-sex couples the right to marry. Irrationality causes unnecessary suffering to people with curable or treatable disease, increases the tenacity of diseases that immunization could eradicate and revives old ones that immunization quelled.

              Replacing one set of irrational, counter-factual beliefs with another is not progress, it is perpetuating the status quo. It posits that everything is fine, the systems work, we just need different faces in charge. The "right" kind of religious beliefs should dominate and determine strategy, not reason.

              Sorry, I'm neither persuaded nor molified by your pretense.

              "Everything is conscious, sentient, ALIVE" is just as potentially harmful a dogma as the old dogma.

              Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

              by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 04:45:14 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  My experiences are admittedly subjective (0+ / 0-)

                and my sig is reflective of my own experience. I happen to think the Universe is a pretty awesome and neat place whether there's a "God" or not. And, I really don't care if there is or not.

                I've found that I feel better if I'm kind to people and make an attempt to find the humor in life and all its experiences which I can only perceive from my own particular self-contained awareness.

                What do YOU believe is going on?

                Everything is conscious, sentient, ALIVE...even the light that embraces us from our star, Sun. Hear O Universe, I am grateful!

                by Donna O on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 04:55:18 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I don't "believe" anything, I merely observe (0+ / 0-)

                  and learn and don't presume the entire universe is either constructed to please me or communicate with me, or has a bias to think or behave in ways that please me.

                  There is no evidence that anything non-organic is conscious, sentient  or even alive in the universe, and until we create an artificial intelligence, or discover a non-organic intelligence somewhere in space, there is no basis to conclude that it is even possible.

                  And I do care whether that is the care or not, just as I care whether there is a god or not, because people who hold unfounded and irrational beliefs tend to impede progress towards a more progressive, inclusive, healthy society - and, because, particularly when it comes to public policy, the scientific method is the only consistently useful and effective method that can be applied by all people, regardless of their individual beliefs, and is thus the only common, potentially unifying system we have to bring humanity together and end enmity based on irrational belief in differences that don't matter.

                  Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                  by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 05:00:43 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Well I have to say, RandomActsOfReason... (0+ / 0-)

                    it is obvious to everyone (except, perhaps, you) that THIS is what you believe:

                    I don't "believe" anything, I merely observe....

                    In essence, you believe you don't "believe" anything. You believe you merely observe....

                    I think Inigo Montoya said it best:

                    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

                    •  Insisting you know what someone else (0+ / 0-)

                      believes, while discounting their own self-identification, is a form of bigotry.

                      You fail to challenge a single one of my factual assertions. You fail to challenge a single one of my arguments.

                      I responded in a respectful way, talking exclusively about my own convictions, and not addressing nor making assumptions about yours in any way in the comment to which you respond with such arrogant hostility and ad hominem.

                      Generally, when people fail utterly to address substance, and their entire response consists of personal insults, it is an admission that they have no substantive response to offer.

                      Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                      by RandomActsOfReason on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 10:37:44 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  But, but...isn't this exactly what you first did? (0+ / 0-)

                        You are the one who chose to attack someone else who was minding their own business, in no way f*ing with you.

                        Why would I want to waste my time challenging your "factual assertions"? What you've done here in this thread seems pretty pointless to me, as an observer coming into this little tempest in a teapot of your own making. And you clearly see hostility where there is none. Lighten up, dude. Life's too short to get yourself so bent out of shape over what, in the cosmic scheme of things, is pretty insignificant.

                        Methinks you project too much. And you need to find some way to bring some more laughter into your life.

                        •  No, it isn't at all what I did (0+ / 0-)

                          I responded to what Donna O wrote in her signature. I didn't make up beliefs she didn't assert, as you are.

                          The fact that you seem to think challenging factual assertions - and the fact that you put them in quotation marks, as if they were some kind of exotic concept - merely reinforces that you are no more of a rational thinker than Donna O is.

                          You made this into a much bigger - and more personal - thing than it needed to be, had you just stuck to a substantive debate.

                          If the question of reason vs supernatural and magical thinking doesn't interest you, if you think it is unconsequential, then don't participate in a debate about it.

                          I don't think it is insignificant in the least. It is the basis of the anti-vaccine movement, the anti-stem cell research movement, the anti-conventional medicine movement, the multi-billion-dollar alternative medicine cons, the hostility toward science in general, which, in turn, leads America to fall further behind in science and engineering relative to the rest of the world; moreover, a propensity to belief unsubstantiated, pleasing things, predisposes one to believe pleasing, unsubstantiated statements from politicians, which leads to further trouble.

                          The lack of critical thinking among our citizens is, in my opinion, the fundamental and direct cause of most of our problems today.

                          YMMV,  but, if you think it doesn't matter, then intruding into an exchange with personal insults and straw man assertions about other people's beliefs makes you the rude and intolerant person here, not me.

                          Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                          by RandomActsOfReason on Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 12:34:07 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I don't have an ox to gore in your little fight. (0+ / 0-)

                            It just struck me as pretty darned obvious that what I said was true: You DO believe that you don't "believe" anything. You DO believe that you "merely observe." (Or do you argue that the reverse is the case?) Your belief, to which you are certainly entitled, is a belief like any other belief.

                            If you were truly a critical thinker, as it seems to me you believe yourself to be--you would understand why some of us couldn't resist commenting on the way you inserted yourself into and derailed a discussion that had nothing whatsoever to do with you or your beliefs. That's all I care to expend my energy saying.

            •  If you live long enough it's OK to think and act (0+ / 0-)

              as you please.  You're just being "eccentric".

              I think you make the most sense of anyone here so far by the way.  But maybe I make no sense.

              •  I think some folks take life (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                C Barr

                entirely too seriously. As someone who has worked my ass off my entire life, (I'm 67) and dealt with the joys and heartaches that living that life has entailed, I'm to the point that I really don't give a flying rat's ass what anyone thinks of me.

                I still run my own home-based graphic design business which I started at the age of 55, even though I have a chronic pain condition, PTSD, and treatment-resistant depression for which I had to go on disability.

                I'm a vociferous reader of such varied materials as Ken Wilber's works on Integral philosophy and the musings of formerly religious, now atheistic acquaintances such as Sean Prophet at BlackSunJournal.com

                I have no need to put down other people's observations on life, even if they don't happen to agree with mine. I love Carl Sagan and Michio Kaku as much as I do Anne McCaffrey and Piers Anthony. I think being able to read is a miracle and I don't care if that ability evolved over millions of years through natural selection or sprang full-blown from the head of the great sky god Zeus.

                I'm just surprised at how many people on Daily Kos seem so angry all the time. Life is short. Laugh. Hug more. Get laid when you can. Do what you can within your little sphere of influence to make your own and other people's life a little better.

                But, I'm missing Keith. Smooches to all and to all a peaceful evening doing whatever it is that makes you happy.

                Everything is conscious, sentient, ALIVE...even the light that embraces us from our star, Sun. Hear O Universe, I am grateful!

                by Donna O on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 05:32:52 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Put in a good word to the Frog for me ;-) (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Donna O
                •  You feel strongly enough about your beliefs (0+ / 0-)

                  to put them in your signature, so they appear in every comment - and you felt the need to make a comment in this diary.

                  So I question the sincerity of your live and let live, personal faith assertions.

                  You seem no less determined to push your beliefs on others than the rest of us. You just couch it in nicer language.

                  Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                  by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 09:27:58 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Pushy? (0+ / 0-)

                    You seem no less determined to push your beliefs on others than the rest of us.

                    You are in a class of your own here tonight.

                    •  And what beliefs would those be? (0+ / 0-)

                      Clearly, the mere act of challenging any religious or spiritual beliefs is considered a priori offensive - yet overt attacks on not the beliefs but the character and personal insults against atheists are par for the course, and not a single theist ever criticizes those.

                      Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                      by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 10:27:23 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

  •  I too am an atheist (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ExStr8, Tonedevil

    I do not believe in divinity and I see the bible as a collection of stories. I also believe we human kind believe deeply in understanding causation - part of the drive for science. The belief in divinity whether one, two, three or many Gods, comes from trying to explain what caused everything to come about. What caused the big bang. What causes things to work the way they do.

    As to evolution versus creationism, it is an our best understanding of reality versus what that understanding was thousands of years ago. Unfortunately, such is life.

    Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

    by LWelsch on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:15:09 PM PST

  •  Unlike yourself, I kept my secret (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    agnostic, C Barr

    of not believing for many years, and unlike you, I went to church every Sunday and daily during Lent.

    I believe the teachings are good and the world would be a better place if we complied with them.  

    Most of what I hear from the self proclaimed "Christians" today confirm my disbelief in God.


    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:19:18 PM PST

  •  I tend to think (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, MRA NY

    That God is possible. I don't know that God is probable, or that God is unlikely. However, I'm perfectly willing to co-exist with those who think differently. I've had some great debates on the topic, but it's one that quickly veers into such esoteric arguments that most people just opt for comforable, well-worn beliefs.

    All that being said, at least one line of argument implies that the chance of a God (Godlike relative to us) is non-zero.

    "Karl Rove giving Dems advice is the DEFINITION of 'Concern Troll'" - punkdavid

    by Darkmoth on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:21:26 PM PST

    •  Do you hold the same belief (0+ / 0-)

      with regard to all possible things?

      For example, are you perfectly willing to co-exist with those who think that blacks are inferior, or that women should be subordinate to their husbands, that same-sex relations is an abomination, that AIDS is not caused by HIV but rather by a CIA-manufactored bioweapon, that the Earth is 6,000 years old and that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by Al Gore on behalf of the "global Left"?

      If not, how is belief in God different? Do you maintain that there have never been any negative consequences to anyone believing in any god? Which god is it ok to believe in?

      What if my god says that I should kill infidels who believe in other gods? What if my god tells me that I must pass legislation to prevent "evils" from being committed, even amongst those who do not believe in my god?

      Why is belief in god any different, or more privileged, than any other belief?

      Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

      by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 09:32:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry for the late reply (0+ / 0-)

        don't know if you'll see this, but:

        For example, are you perfectly willing to co-exist with those who think that blacks are inferior?

        Yes, and I'm black. I lived in Central PA for a few years, and that attitude was fairly common. What you believe is your business until it affects me, and then I deal with the actions - not the motives.

        What if my god says that I should kill infidels who believe in other gods?

        Again, that's your business - until you try to kill me.

        What you're trying to do is avoid Thought Crimes. I can't support that. It's OK for you to have the hots for my wife, as long as you don't disrespect either one of us.

        "Karl Rove giving Dems advice is the DEFINITION of 'Concern Troll'" - punkdavid

        by Darkmoth on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 09:15:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am not "trying to avoid Thought Crimes", (0+ / 0-)

          that is absurd. On the contrary, I am arguing consistently in favor of free inquiry and discussion of all things, and arguing against privileging or immunizing religious beliefs from the same rational scrutiny and challenge we should apply to all beliefs - political, ideological, cultural or religious.

          Clearly, the issue and the discussion here is about the consequences of certain beliefs - and, in particular, the consequences of refusing to challenge those beliefs, on the grounds that it is impolite or intolerant.

          We all act on the basis of our beliefs.

          I hope when you say, it is ok to believe in killing "infidels", "until you try to kill me" (emphasis yours), that you are not saying you don't give a shit if religious zealots kill other people. You seem to put this in very personal terms, which suggests a lack of concern for the plight of others. You say,

          What you believe is your business until it affects me, and then I deal with the actions - not the motives.

          What about if it affects other people - people who are not like you?

          In the real world, people's prejudices have consequences. To say they don't is rather unrealistic and contrary to the evidence all around us.

          This entire site is about promoting policies based on beliefs, and combating other policies based on other beliefs.

          "Having the hots for my wife" is a personal issue, quite different from, say, believing wives are property of their husbands.

          If you don't give a shit about injustice until it effects you personally, what are you doing here?

          Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

          by RandomActsOfReason on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 10:31:49 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  let's make the distinction (0+ / 0-)

            If you don't give a shit about injustice until it effects you personally, what are you doing here?

            I don't give a shit about fantasies of injustice. I give a shit about the actualization of injustice. I don't care that someone is a racist. I care when they act out that racism - a huge difference. So, let me restate:

            What you believe is your business until it affects someone, and then I deal with the actions - not the motives

            Your beliefs are none of my business. Your actions are.

            "Karl Rove giving Dems advice is the DEFINITION of 'Concern Troll'" - punkdavid

            by Darkmoth on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 10:41:11 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Beliefs guide actions (0+ / 0-)

              As long as a critical mass of people believed women were inferior, they were treated as inferior.

              Beliefs drive actions. If you don't address harmful beliefs, they inevitably translate into actions - and, if you only address the actions, you fight a losing battle.

              If we don't combat prejudice and bigotry and ignorance with education and information and, most importantly, by teaching people to think critically, then prejudice and bigotry and ignorance will continue to hold minorities down and impede human progress.

              This is not about "fantasies of injustice", this is about the realities of injustice.

              Separating beliefs from actions is foolish. That doesn't mean we try to outlaw beliefs - but it does mean we fight what we believe are harmful beliefs.

              Otherwise, why are you arguing with me? Why not let me believe what I want about this?

              And, why be here on DailyKos? Why argue with conservatives? Why not let people vote whatever they want, without trying to change their minds?

              Why not just sit at home and play videogames all day long?

              your argument, ironically, is the one rooted in fantasy and not reality.

              Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

              by RandomActsOfReason on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 10:46:00 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

                If you don't address harmful beliefs

                How is that not ThoughtCrime? When you are talking about policing opinion and belief, you are trespassing into someone's inviolate space - their head.

                We have to combat prejudicial behavior and bigoted actions.

                As to why I argue, when you post your beliefs in the public stage, it's in the public domain. I assume no one here posts just to talk to themselves, right?

                I have a good many conservatives friends I argue with all the time. I have some I never talk politics to. What you're describing is evangelism, and I don't believe in that.

                "Karl Rove giving Dems advice is the DEFINITION of 'Concern Troll'" - punkdavid

                by Darkmoth on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 11:02:59 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Is campaigning for Democrats "evanglism"? (0+ / 0-)

                  If not, what is the distinction?

                  Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                  by RandomActsOfReason on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 11:12:31 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  An excellent question (0+ / 0-)

                    I'm not sure I know the answer. If you're an atheist Republican, what's the difference between a Jehovah's Witness knocking on your door to convert you, and a canvasser knocking on your door to convert you?

                    Do you see a difference?

                    "Karl Rove giving Dems advice is the DEFINITION of 'Concern Troll'" - punkdavid

                    by Darkmoth on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 12:14:24 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  What is your answer? (0+ / 0-)

                      Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                      by RandomActsOfReason on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 12:20:34 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  From the viewpoint (0+ / 0-)

                        of the home owner, probably not much.

                        So yea, it's not that different than Witnesses. No different, in fact.

                        "Karl Rove giving Dems advice is the DEFINITION of 'Concern Troll'" - punkdavid

                        by Darkmoth on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 01:07:33 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  What about here on the Internet (0+ / 0-)

                          What about in a bookstore?

                          Is writing a book opposing, or writing a comment opposing religion, and/or advocating atheism, the same as a Jehovah's witness knocking on your door to evangelize?

                          And, if one writes such a book, is going on a book tour to promote it "evangelizing"?

                          Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                          by RandomActsOfReason on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 01:31:35 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  A book? (0+ / 0-)

                            Absolutely not. Someone has to go to a store and buy your book. It's an affirmative action, indicating that they are interested enough in your opinions to drive to the mall and shell out cash. As for book tours, as long as they don't knock on your door, the same applies.

                            What do you see as the difference between Witnesses knocking on your door and canvassers knocking on your door?

                            "Karl Rove giving Dems advice is the DEFINITION of 'Concern Troll'" - punkdavid

                            by Darkmoth on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 01:43:41 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Actually, I don't like anyone knocking on my door (0+ / 0-)

                            unsolicited, just as I don't like unsolicited telemarketing - whether from a corporation or a political party.

                            However, there is a critical distinction. Our nation is governed by a system that depends upon political persuasion and campaigning. Our nation is not governed by religion or corporations.

                            However, I can put myself on a do not call list for corporations, and bar commercial soliciting, but I can't prevent myself from being evangelized by the religious.

                            I'm not talking about a public ban, that would violate free speech. But, the notion that free speech includes infringement on my private space is one I have never agreed with - any more than I agree with the fiction that donation dollars are a form of speech and thus protected.

                            Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                            by RandomActsOfReason on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 01:54:21 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I don't think we disagree (0+ / 0-)

                            on this point. And I think "unsolicited" is the key concept.

                            However, there is a critical distinction. Our nation is governed by a system that depends upon political persuasion and campaigning. Our nation is not governed by religion or corporations.

                            I wouldn't say canvassing is a required part of our system. It would operate just fine using only solicited political persuasion.

                            However, I can put myself on a do not call list for corporations, and bar commercial soliciting, but I can't prevent myself from being evangelized by the religious

                            A good point. You should be able to be on a religious DNC list (although a 'Guide Me, Lord Satan' doormat works in a pinch).

                            "Karl Rove giving Dems advice is the DEFINITION of 'Concern Troll'" - punkdavid

                            by Darkmoth on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 02:17:32 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

  •  A Funny Thing Happen On The Way To Confirmation (6+ / 0-)

    As a kid growing up I was "forced" to go to church. I think at about 14 in the Methodist church you have to go through Confirmation.

    We had to take these classes. At one point I asked:

    I think there are like 380,000 species of bugs, did Noah get them all on his arc?

    That got a phone call to my parents saying I was, "being difficult." That was the last time I ever went to church.

    I've never had a conversation to be blunt, about what my parents think. But I like to think my parents just introduced the idea of religion to me and let me figure stuff out for myself.

    "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

    by webranding on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:22:00 PM PST

  •  At least part of the problem is definitional (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, C Barr, Darkmoth

    There are, after all, many ways of being a theist of one sort or another which do not require adherence to the whole set of baggage we've inherited.

    We tend to think that "believing in god [or 'God' or 'G-d']" requires accepting a whole bunch of other stuff, such as you've enumerated. Which is not necessarily the case. It has been extensively diaried here that the most of the founding fathers of the US were theists, yet by no means Christian.

    Overall I'm with you, yet I'm not sure I feel entirely comfortable with the label of "atheist." Were it possible, I'd like to step outside of the debate entirely.

    •  Yes, but... (3+ / 0-)

      There are, after all, many ways of being a theist of one sort or another which do not require adherence to the whole set of baggage we've inherited.

      But all of them require believing in the existence of a being for which there is no evidentiary support. This is precisely the same position that beliefs in Zeus, Mithra, Amon-Ra, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny occupy.

      Some of us think that that fundamental irrationality is a rather major variety of "baggage."


      I wish to propose for the reader's favourable consideration a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine in question is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for believing it true....

      - Bertrand Russell

      •  However (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        C Barr, Darkmoth

        If I claim that the universe in its entirety is my deity, there is ample evidence of its existence.

        Again, you have made a presumption as to what the concept of a deity entails.

        •  Well-stated (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          C Barr, sfbob

          most of the talk about 'God' revolves strictly around the Santa-Clause-In-The-Sky model, which is arguably the one most popularized in American culture.

          However, the concept of what a god is is all but undefined.

          "Karl Rove giving Dems advice is the DEFINITION of 'Concern Troll'" - punkdavid

          by Darkmoth on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:55:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You've gotten my point precisely (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            C Barr, Darkmoth

            The adherents of the "Santa Claus in the Sky who is Always on Our Side" version of a deity tend to proclaim that anyone who doesn't go for that version is, perforce, faithless and/or otherwise somehow suspect. I encounter this attitude rather often, even in places where one would not expect to find it.

            And this, incidentally, is why I am not comfortable with the label of "atheist." Or any label really. If you must stick me with one, perhaps "agnostic" is the most accurate, but even that one will tend to enter one into a debate which I for one find rather limiting.

          •  If such a thing is, it would be beyond (0+ / 0-)

            our human comprehension and so undefinable.

          •  over 80% of religiou Americans (0+ / 0-)

            believe in a personal god who responds to intercessory prayer. What you call "Santa-Claus-In-The-Sky is not onlly popularized in American culture, it is by far the dominant American belief.

            Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

            by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 09:33:13 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Theists generally do have evidence (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tonedevil

        I've known some fairly religious people, and they do believe they have evidence for a God. It's probably safe to assume that humans, in general, do not believe anything without evidence.

        They may come to the wrong conclusions based on that evidence, but that is a different thing altogether.

        "Karl Rove giving Dems advice is the DEFINITION of 'Concern Troll'" - punkdavid

        by Darkmoth on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:53:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  For some folks "evidence" consists of (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tonedevil, Darkmoth

          "If I don't agree with your idea of a Supreme Being I'm going to get clobbered." or

          "It says so in this here book and this book says it was dictated by that big fellow in the sky so it must be true."

          I'm not inclined to subscribe to those standards of evidence but, for better or for worse, they are at least SOMEONE's idea of "evidence."

        •  Evidence may be false (0+ / 0-)

          you assume that everyone who claims they have evidence is correct, and merely, possibly, making erroneous conclusions.

          But, it is quite common to posit evidence that turns out not to be valid evidence, not to be conclusive evidence, to be misinterpreted as evidence, or to be imaginary or the product of an illusion and not "evidence" at all.

          Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

          by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 09:09:18 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  may the fodder, the sun, & wholly guest bless (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slatsg, ExStr8, Tonedevil, C Barr, gsenski

    your soles.

    beautifully put.

    I was imprisoned in  a strongly christian skule early  in my yute, and it took me years of hard reading (everything from scifi, to Mao's little red (seldom read?) book, to history, from science and philosophy to bios on John Paul Jones, Einstein, FDR, and others) , harder thinking and many conversations to realize that my innate disbelief in some heavenly critter came naturally to me, and that it was just fine to use my mind for whatever it was intended.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:33:28 PM PST

  •  Pascal's wager, done by Pratchett (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, RandomActsOfReason

    "Possibly the gods exist, and possibly they do not. So why not believe in them in any case? If it's all true you'll go to a lovely place when you die, and if it isn't then you've lost nothing, right?"

    When the philosopher died, "he woke up in a circle of gods holding nasty-looking sticks and one of them said, 'We're going to show you what we think of Mr Clever Dick in these parts...

  •  One of the greatest ironies ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, agnostic, DemandTruth

    ... of the story of Jesus is how much MORE meaningful and relevant and amazing it is if you interpret him as a regular human being.

    He spoke about what he believed, he developed a loving belief system, he upset the people in power, he died suffering on the cross and left a great philosophy behind.

    The resurrection is a horrifying distraction, tacked on to impress the stupid and the gullible.

    America: It's a good IDEA for a country ...

    by Tony Seybert on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:36:52 PM PST

    •  another great irony. . . . (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      slatsg, Tonedevil, RandomActsOfReason

      atheists and agnostics tend to read holy books more often than some of the strictest believers.

      What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

      by agnostic on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:39:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I sit next to a Cafeteria Christian at work ... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ExStr8, Tonedevil, agnostic

        ... and I'm always bedeviling her when my knowledge of the Old Testament and the New Testament trumps the vague ideas pounded into her brain by her upbringing.

        I say things like, "You know, I've read the New Testament, and I didn't come away with the idea that the main part of Jesus' message is that he hates homosexuals."

        She brings up the Old Testament, so I respond: "Well, that exact same verse says homosexuals should be put to death. So is the U.S. any less a "Christian nation" because we don't have a mandatory death penalty for homosexual activity?"

        I read the Koran last year. You should have seen the look on her face when I said I gave the Koran extra points over the Xtian bible just for being shorter.

        America: It's a good IDEA for a country ...

        by Tony Seybert on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:53:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Or more like: (0+ / 0-)

      a metaphor illustrating how the personal acceptance and implementation of that "great philosophy" gained adherents access to The Kingdom that was "not of this world".

      Such metaphoric/allegoric writings IMHO meant to show individuals a way to love and happiness even in the worst of worlds were twisted when viewed through later literal interpretations into static symbols.
       

      "We know the truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart." - Blaise Pascal

      by Dixie Liberal on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:02:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  it's happened before. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil

      "Bloody Sunday", 1965

      Main article: Selma to Montgomery marches
      King and SCLC, in partial collaboration with SNCC, attempted to organize a march from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery, for March 7, 1965. The first attempt to march on March 7 was aborted because of mob and police violence against the demonstrators. This day has since become known as Bloody Sunday. Bloody Sunday was a major turning point in the effort to gain public support for the Civil Rights Movement, the clearest demonstration up to that time of the dramatic potential of King's nonviolence strategy. King, however, was not present. After meeting with President Lyndon B. Johnson, he decided not to endorse the march, but it was carried out against his wishes and without his presence on March 7 by local civil rights leaders. Footage of police brutality against the protesters was broadcast extensively and aroused national public outrage.[66]
      King next attempted to organize a march for March 9. The SCLC petitioned for an injunction in federal court against the State of Alabama; this was denied and the judge issued an order blocking the march until after a hearing. Nonetheless, King led marchers on March 9 to the Edmund Pettus bridge, then held a short prayer session before turning the marchers around and asking them to disperse so as not to violate the court order. The unexpected ending of this second march aroused the surprise and anger of many within the local movement.[67] The march finally went ahead fully on March 25.[68] At the conclusion of the march and on the steps of the state capitol, King delivered a speech that has become known as "How Long, Not Long".[69]
      Chicago, 1966

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

  •  am I the only one (5+ / 0-)

    Some may be offended by my invective against religion (in particular the Abrahamic ones) and be turned off at times by my vituperative language describing their antiquated beliefs, but its all part and parcel of what I believe, so indulge me

    who caught the irony of this statement, given it comes at the outset of a screed against... believing.

    The saddest part is if I were to come to you and insist your chosen "belief" was foolishness, I'd be lambasted as all kinds of intolerant... and yet you manifest intolerance in your demand for tolerance of what you believe and no one bats an eye...

    I am a Christian because I choose to be. My choice is not made with you in mind. It is not made to make you choose what I have chosen. It is what I have chosen because it works for me and I reserve the right to change my mind when and if.

    I'd just appreciate that as I can appreciate your choice and respect it enough to not denigrate because it is not the choice I have made that the same respect come from your direction.

    I'm not holding my breath... but it would be nice.

    •  So, despite your belief in Christianity (0+ / 0-)

      you do not believe that an atheist is:

      1. lacking something essential
      1. less moral than you
      1. disfavored (possibly even due to be punished) by your god
      1. inherently inferior in any way, shape or form?

      Also, you don't even maintain that your choice is the right choice for anyone except you?

      Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

      by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:29:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Once again... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MRA NY, Huginn and Muninn
        1. no
        1. no
        1. no
        1. no

        As I said before my choice is not a referendum on atheism; in fact my choice has nothing to do with anyone else's choice... my choice is right for me.

        It's not about you or anyone else. Even if you choose to disbelieve my responses, my responses are not contingent upon your belief or your concurrence or lack of same.

        Jesus addressed this concept in John chapter 4 when he had his conversation with the woman at the well... she pointed out that her ancestors worshipped in that mountain and the Jews said one had to worship in Jerusalem and then she asked Jesus which of them was right... his answer was "neither"... because it's not about the rith or the ritual or the place or even the day... it's not about "formal worship", dogma or doctrine because, IMO God is  so beyond man's superficial religious circle jerks...

        As the lyrics of a song sung by the gospel group shekinah glory say... "there is something more God requires of me"

        it is that more I seek; it is that path I walk... and being bothered with whether someone else is walking this particular path will only take me off the path.

        •  You represent perhaps 0.3% of the US religious (0+ / 0-)

          population.

          If all or even most or even a significant portion of the US religious population thought as you did, we'd live in a very different country, and I probably would not be discussing this topic at all.

          Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

          by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:52:18 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I represent (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            C Barr, Huginn and Muninn

            myself.

            Period.

            Hard as that may be for some to fathom.

            •  I don't understand the awesumtenor of your (0+ / 0-)

              response.

              I'm concerned with the real world, in which the other 97.7% of religious followers are impeding the progress of progressive ideals, limiting my freedoms and seeking to limit more, and overwhelmingly lack respect or even basic trust for my commitment to American values.

              Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

              by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 04:01:53 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm just pointing out (0+ / 0-)

                that I am not taking responsibility for what any believes save myself... even when I preach (I am a minister), my goal is to be iconoclast, to break the molds that religious folk have grown comfortable fitting into. And I leave it there... if I have not fostered more questions than provided answers, I have failed...

                People ask WWJD? That is what Jesus did. He was a subversive; he was a nonconformist. He took people out of their comfort zones and made them realize that it wasn't about long held practice and pat responses and there was no room for prejudices and preconceived notions.

                So I'd prefer to not "represent" any save myself... but I will say that there are more who think like me than one might believe; I know quite a few who are regular lurkers here...

                •  This site is a community of people (0+ / 0-)

                  who, if they share anything in common, it is the conviction that activism affects society.

                  So, if you believe that no one should take responsibility for what anyone else believes - or the consequences of those beliefs - and that each of us should just mind our own business (even when others attempt to impose their business on us), then why are you part of a community that is all about changing things?

                  Or, do you hold religious beliefs - alone, separate and apart from all other beliefs (political, ideological, economic, cultural, etc) - to be immune from collective action and the effects of democracy?

                  If so, why? Religion is among the most intrusive forces in American politics. Why don't you care about that? As a progressive - even if it doesn't make any difference personally to you - shouldn't you be concerned about effort from theocratic forces like the Catholic Church to get abortion banned in the US, or to oppose same-sex marriage?

                  Virtually the entire anti-progressive front in the US is religiously motivated.

                  Saying, "I only represent myself, I don't tell anyone else what to do" is nice. But, the reality is that staying out of it is being complicit in it, just as those who stood by in the face of other injustices contributed to their persistence.

                  Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                  by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 04:32:03 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You are putting words into my mouth (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    C Barr

                    that I have neither stated nor implied.

                    Does my religion play a role in my politics? Absolutely.

                    Does it play a role in why I advocate certain political positions and try to convince you or others why you should? Absolutely not.

                    If I do not have a reason other than my faith for why I endorse a position, that position is one of my personal preference... and while it would be nice if we agreed, your not agreeing does not make me holier than thou or a superior progressive than you... nor does it make me feel I have to make you see things my way. Life is too short.

                    The fact of the matter is... no two of us is in absolute and utter lockstep on every topic. The question then becomes are the points where we agree enough to outweigh the points where we do not?

                    As hard as you find it to believe, I am not my faith. It is a factor but not the factor for why I espouse the political positions that I do. The political positions I hold predate my faith, for the most part and while in some aspects of my life my faith is paramount, I am far more multifaceted than that and so much more of my life experience, my education, my relationships with friends, family and even adversaries plays a part in who I am.

                    •  You keep missing the point (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      KathleenM1, gsenski

                      religion plays a role in the advocacy of certain political positions and in attempts to convince others and in funding and support for political campaigns in an overwhelming number of cases in American politics.

                      You seem to say, "I'm ok, so there is no problem". I just don't understand this logic. This diary, my comments, and this entire issue is not about you. It is about the problem in America in which faith - not reason - is a primary factor in our politics, our voting and our policymaking.

                      Faith is the reason atheists are held in such low esteem and discriminated against in America. Faith is the reason a woman's right to choose is threatened. Faith is the reason the LGBT community still struggles against widespread legal and social discrimination.

                      There are numerous studies comparing the political attitudes of religious and non-religious Americans across the political spectrum. It is utterly clear that religion plays a dominant role in impeding civil rights in this country today.

                      I don't understand your argument. I go even further than you - I don't even have a belief to proselytize, nor does the mere fact that I lack a belief in gods serve as an adequate guide to my political positions. Yet, as a progressive, I devote a great deal of my attention to addressing the influence of religion in politics in America, because it is the main barrier to progress in America.

                      Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                      by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 05:20:11 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  another irony (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    C Barr, MRA NY

                    why is it someone such as yourself who eschews the categorization of others finds it so needful to categorize me or find it incredulous that I resist the labels you are trying to place on me?

                    The moment I accept where you choose to place me I have allowed you to define me.

                    Sorry... not gonna happen. You are, of course welcome to believe me to be whatever you feel you must... but that in no wise obligates me to be that.

                    Part of having the right to believe is accepting the possibility of your being wrong; you say I am this or I represent that... which is your prerogative... but if I say, no I am not or  no, I don't... I think I know me far better than you know me...

                    •  I don't understand why you seem determined (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      KathleenM1

                      to dismiss the importance of religion in America by arguing that you are a good guy and don't impose it on anyone else.

                      It does sound an awful lot like someone standing on the curb, watching a bunch of white people beat a black person, and saying, "hey, I'd never do that - I'm a good white person, I don't discriminate".

                      So much of what we fight for as progressives is blocked by religious interests, and so much of what we fight against is perpetuated and instigated by religious interests. To claim otherwise is ridiculous, and to dismiss it by saying, "doesn't effect me, I don't do it, just leave me alone and I'll leave you alone" just isn't consistent with a progressive worldview as I understanding.

                      I'd love it if religious people would leave everyone else alone. But, overwhelmingly in the US, they do not. And that has consequences which we all need to address, whether we believe or not, whether we impose or not, whether we belong to a theocratic denomination or not.

                      The fact that so many progressive theists spend most of their time attacking atheists, while giving the most noxious fundamentalists a pass (instead obsessing over distinguishing themselves from 'those people'), makes being a "bystander" even more of a problem.

                      Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                      by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 05:24:30 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  We are having two separate (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        C Barr

                        conversations.

                        I am talking about me and me only.

                        You are trying to conflate what i am saying about myself into something about "progressive theists" in general.

                        In doing so you are assuming that I don't involve myself in the positions of other "progressive theists".

                        And in assuming that you are, again, wrong.

                        Yes, I am aware of the prevailing politics of people in america who profess Christianity... and when I discuss those prevailing politics with then I use what on the surface appears to be our shared faith to point out that  their profession and their politics are mutually exclusive...and BTW, seeing that I'm black, chances are I would not be the one standing on the curb watching the beat down; I'd be the one getting it. Just because I choose to not get into a discussion with you about the role of religion in America when it is plain that the subject evokes a visceral response from you does not mean I am not aware and it does not mean that I have chosen to be complicit in that.

                        What it means is that I have chosen to work against that thinking from within rather than from without. yes, I know that is not a choice you would make... but we have been talking about me... and again the choices I make are not made with how you'll view it in mind.

                        Just because I don't have that conversation with you does not mean I don't have it at all. Just as you disdain being categorized by Christians who don't understand what it means to eschew faith and would reject it outright... you don't know me from a can of semi-gloss latex and at best can lump me in with your preconceived notions about "progressive theists"... which I reject because I do not fit your preconceived notions about "progressive theists".

                        You don't have to understand why I will not take up residence in the pigeonhole you have been trying so diligently to place me in; just respect my telling you that that is not who I am or where I stand.

                        By your own admission you don't understand my argument and that's fine; whether you can see how I came to share positions with you is not nearly as significant as the fact that we share those positions, regardless of how divergent our paths to those positions has been.

    •  I can understand not believing in God, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      C Barr

      but not being certain about it. Not when we have zero explanation for how the universe came into existence, how life came into being all by itself (when we have not been able to recreate it), or our own consciousness. This is pretty basic stuff yet we don't have the answers. That doesn't mean the answer is God did it. But I think, given our current state of ignorance as a species, a little humility is in order.

      Our obligation to survive and flourish is owed not just to ourselves, but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring. Carl Sagan

      by RALM on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:57:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The point of my post (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        C Barr, gsenski, RandomActsOfReason, RALM

        is that the real mystery is the mystery of existence per se. There is no way can avoid the reality of our existence and the existence of the universe we are part of. Even if you postulate that everything is a figment of someone's imagination, the illusion nevertheless exists. Hence there is no need for a first cause, existence in and of itself suffices.

        Let the pastors, rabbis and mullahs mutter their mumbo-jumbo in private and leave the rest of us alone.

        by detler on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 04:23:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I can understand not believing in elves (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        slatsg, gsenski, RandomActsOfReason

        but not being certain about it. Not when we have zero explanation for how the universe came into existence, how life came into being all by itself (when we have not been able to recreate it), or our own consciousness. This is pretty basic stuff yet we don't have the answers. That doesn't mean the answer is elves did it. But I think, given our current state of ignorance as a species, a little humility is in order.

        •  Gee your clever. What a wit. Why didn't I think (0+ / 0-)

          of that. Substituting elves for God just make me sound silly. Good one.

          Our obligation to survive and flourish is owed not just to ourselves, but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring. Carl Sagan

          by RALM on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 04:54:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Why are elves more ridiculous than gods? (3+ / 0-)

            Is there a shred of additional evidence for gods over elves?  

            •  One thing I (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gsenski

              have always loved to hear preachers pontificate on is cults

              One preacher I have listened to every year has his Mormons are a cult, scientology is cult, and on and on

              But his religion is the right one

              The best part of the freak show is that there is no cover charge at the door

              Greatest show on earth, or snowjob, or ...

              Oh yeah the alter calls are a hoot too.....

          •  Yes, Christers hate it when their delusions (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ExStr8, politicalstu

            are put in proper prospective.

            •  I'm an agnostic. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              C Barr

              My problem is with people who are certain they know there is no God, or that there is one, or that those who don't believe in their God are flawed in some way and won't be saved (whatever that really means) and that everyone who thinks differently deluded idiot. It seems the hypersensitive ones here are the ones who don't like having there sense of superiority questioned. Not much different than evangelical young-earthers if you ask me.

              You question the existence of God? Fine, so do I. Feel certain there is no God? OK. Just don't be such arrogant assholes about it.

              Our obligation to survive and flourish is owed not just to ourselves, but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring. Carl Sagan

              by RALM on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 06:33:09 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Ahh, excuse me, are you claiming (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RandomActsOfReason

                that you are 100% sure that Elves do not exist?

              •  You avoid the question (0+ / 0-)

                why is restating your thesis substituting "elves" (or leprechauns, invisible pink dragons, smurfs, or Elvis)  for "God" any more or less reasonable?

                Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 09:37:12 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Very different (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                KathleenM1

                Not much different than evangelical young-earthers if you ask me.

                Firmly refusing to believe in things for which there is no evidence, is not at all like firmly believing in things for which there is no evidence - let alone, as in the case of young-earthers, firmly believing in things which are firmly refuted by the evidence.

                Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 09:38:23 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  True - I went too far with that comment. (0+ / 0-)

                  But ridiculing others for their beliefs is loathsome whether its coming from an atheist or a evangelical right-winger. Plenty of thoughtful, mature, and reasonable people are religious. We're talking about matters of faith here. I'm not sure from where the faith derives, but obviously it is not rooted in scientific evidence. I don't think you or I have the wisdom or knowledge to dismiss them as fools.

                  Our obligation to survive and flourish is owed not just to ourselves, but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring. Carl Sagan

                  by RALM on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 06:57:42 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Separate critique of ideas and beliefs (0+ / 0-)

                    from attacks on the person.

                    There is nothing wrong with challenging ideas - political, ideological, religious or cultural - even in the strongest of terms.

                    On the contrary, free inquiry and questioning beliefs is at the core of free society and human progress.

                    And questioning beliefs - religious or otherwise - should not be confused with a personal insult.

                    Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                    by RandomActsOfReason on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 10:25:26 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  It's a shame you felt you needed to categorize (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RALM

                yourself for this discussion.  Don't know if you saw it but recently there was a diary touching on this subject in which people were for the most part very respectful of one another.  It was quite a treat to read.  Actually it was most wonderful just to watch it unfold.

                http://www.dailykos.com/...

                •  This hasn't been a discussion. It's been (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  C Barr

                  me responding to ridicule. They're not trying to have a discussion when they bring elves into it. They just trying to put others down and pat themselves on the back for being so much wiser and more enlightened than people who are religious or are open minded on the subject. If I were smart I would have simply ignored them and not responded. There's nothing harder to open then a closed mind.

                  Our obligation to survive and flourish is owed not just to ourselves, but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring. Carl Sagan

                  by RALM on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 04:39:05 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I considered putting discussion within quotations (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    RALM

                    Wished I had.  This "discussion" strategy is pretty ugly, and intellectually dishonest actually.  It bodes ill for the future here.  One thing I enjoy about this place is simply learning other people's viewpoints.  If the smart thing to do is not to respond, then there will be less sharing here.  But not everyone has the time to waste writing a reasoned response to countless paragraphs of misdirection.  This reminded me of Mickey dealing with the multiplying broomsticks in Fantasia.

                •  Also not sure why I did anything wrong (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  C Barr

                  by calling myself agnostic. That's where I'm at,nothing wrong with saying so. By the way, that was a great discussion. Thanks for the link.

                  Our obligation to survive and flourish is owed not just to ourselves, but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring. Carl Sagan

                  by RALM on Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 04:44:02 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Just that a person should be able to discuss (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    RALM

                    ideas, or simply state a point of view without being forced to place themselves in one camp or another.  Once you've labeled yourself then others can argue against that label instead of what you're saying.

                    Glad that you were commenting here tonight even though the experience may have been distasteful.

        •  Aha! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ExStr8

          As you ask what brought the universe into existence? The major thesis of my diary is that existence itself is beyond comprehension. The mere thought of non-existence in the universal sense is an oxymoron. According to the theist god exists without cause. Existence in and of itself is its own causative agent. No need for a deity to intervene.

          Let the pastors, rabbis and mullahs mutter their mumbo-jumbo in private and leave the rest of us alone.

          by detler on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 06:15:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Amen. nt (0+ / 0-)

      "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

      by MRA NY on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 05:31:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  some thoughts... (0+ / 0-)
    1. I have a theory about Hell which sounds a lot like your thinking...I don't believe in a God who is omnipotent and all-knowing who creates billions of souls, knowing that most of them will go to Hell, where they will suffer for an eternity for crimes committed in their pitiful 20 to 80 years.  What crimes could warrant that type of ever-burning, ever-suffering, burning in a lake of fire forever punishment?  Worship a God that would create and oversee such a scenario?  I think not!!!
    1.  I think if there were a "God", it would be some entity that is watching us, seeing if we use our intelligence, love, teamwork, to get off of this planet before we or it dies, to spread out to the Universe, or do we fail the test, infight, and wither with the planet and eventually the solar system.  Or do we pass the test and get off this planet and out to the other worlds?  

    That's what I believe.

  •  Your story reminds me of my own... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, C Barr, gsenski, IowaPopulist

    I can remember when I was nine or so, going to Sunday service with the family down the street, after sleeping over at my best friend's house. (My folks never bothered to take me to church or give me much religious "education," for which I will always be grateful.)
    I remember listening to the sermon, and thinking to myself: "I just don't buy this at all. How can all these folks actually take this seriously?"
    Since then, I have read and thought about it quite a bit, but I keep coming back to what that nine-year-old boy concluded: I don't buy it, I can't take this seriously, and why would I want to?

    "Democracy is like chicken soup. You have to stir it up often or a scummy oily film forms at the top."

    by StratCat on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 02:55:22 PM PST

    •  When I was little ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JMcDonald, Tonedevil, StratCat

      ... really, really little, so little I couldn't see over the pew in front of me, I couldn't see the priest, and I literally thought God was talking. (It was a very beautiful Catholic church in the Midwest, thus adding to the effect. I particularly recall being very impressed with the statue of Mary.)

      I guess I grew up a little, and found the truth rather less impressive, because aside from that early memory, I don't remember ever being very impressed with most of the loony details offered up by any of the Judeo-Christian religions. (Though I do love going into Catholic churches. And seeing a nun usually makes me feel better.)

      America: It's a good IDEA for a country ...

      by Tony Seybert on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:06:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  When I was in the Navy, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tonedevil

        I sang in the choir at Great Lakes Naval Training Center while I went to tech school there. We would sing at ceremonies and events and at Sunday chapel services. I've always loved to play and sing, so it was fun for me, and choir and band members got out of standing barracks watches.
        While I loved the music part of it, I heard enough dopey sermons in those six months or so to last a couple lifetimes.

        "Democracy is like chicken soup. You have to stir it up often or a scummy oily film forms at the top."

        by StratCat on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:15:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  when I was about 3 ... (0+ / 0-)

        I memorized the 23rd psalm for an Easter service at my grandmother's church.

        But I interpreted "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." as
        "The Lord is my shepherd, whom I shall not want."

        This puzzled me for a bit, but I rather quickly concluded that god was like my parents:  I might need him for awhile, but the goal was to become self-sufficient and no longer need help.

  •  religion is part of nature (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil

    chemical reactions are what ultimately led to religion being developed.

  •  Theism is not the whole story. (0+ / 0-)

     There are a lot of us who are religionists and not theists. I agree with you that theism is a poor reflection on human kind but assuming that theism reflects religion is to ignore a major chunk of the world's believers, namely Budhists and Taoists.
     And as for the whole comment on epistomology: we don't have to buy into the theist argument regarding first causes and all that garbage.  How about if we accept the Boolean theory that all questions can be answered by yes or no, which is to posit a binary universe or "biverse."  Following that line of thinking brings us to a universe that is a two-sided coin: one side that "is" and the other side that "isn't."  
       What "is" is all those things that have mass and occupy space or are their equivalent in the E=MC2 equation  AKA the natural world we all live in.
       What "isn't" are all those memes that do not occupy space and have mass: things such as relationships, moral codes, values, beauty, thoughts, justice, love, compassion, purpose, hatred...all the stuff of which culture, as opposed to biology, is based.
      Ignoring the "isn't" is to reduce man to a sub-species, since even the beasts show compassion...or it seems from our "isn't" view of their actions.  Taking all the "isn't" out of the human story is to reduce human history to atoms in motion...of culture to biology.  
       Theistic language is sometimes very helpful in talking about the "isn't" dimension of the "biverse" once one understands just where it fits in this overarching epistomologial view. [Theists and their anti-theist critiques could both learn from the Greeks who always blurred the line between the gods and man, between the sacred and profane, since the gods were always wander off Mt. Olympus and cavoting with some lusty damsel.]  The realm of the gods (spiritual, holy, etc.) is on the "isn't" side of the great binary divide. Once fully understood it makes the science vs. religion debate nonsense and renders moot most argument for atheism as a viable option to theism.
      In other words, that you call yourself an atheist, actually authenticate theism by basing your authentication on being in opposition of theism.  A better way, I suggest, is to abandon both terms and move toward a binary position.  Become a "binaryist." Come on in, the waters fine.  :-)

    •  Religion and theism are not the same thing (0+ / 0-)

      and thus "atheist" correctly poses one as being the opposite of theist. That doesn't "authenticate theism" any more than 2+2=4 "authenticates" 2+2=5.

      Your binary casting is arbitrary and meant to support your nonoverlapping magisteria approach, which is just as arbitrary and irrational.

      Even if we accepted your binary premise (which is not at all a given - for example, photons are neither inherently wave nor particle, nor are electrons inherently located in any particular point in space - until and unless we measure them), a more logical and simpler binary axis would be "true" vs "false", because that would actually provide us with useful information.

      one could arbitrarily divide the universe into an infinite number of non-overlapping binary sets. That's a fun mindgame, but not really useful, and thus not really scientific or rational.

      Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

      by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:40:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  On second thought.... (0+ / 0-)

        "atheist" correctly poses one as being the opposite of theist. That doesn't "authenticate theism" any more than 2+2=4 "authenticates" 2+2=5.

         Well, in the rules of logic it does.  X + 2 equaling 4 damn sure authenticates X as 2.  Or did when I took algebra.  :-)

        Your binary casting is arbitrary and meant to support your nonoverlapping magisteria approach, which is just as arbitrary and irrational.

        Hence my suggestion as to accepting the Boolean theory as a constuct around to build an epistomology. Of course the binary construct is itself arbitrary even though most of the computers of the world are based on it.

        Even if we accepted your binary premise (which is not at all a given - for example, photons are neither inherently wave nor particle, nor are electrons inherently located in any particular point in space - until and unless we measure them), a more logical and simpler binary axis would be "true" vs "false", because that would actually provide us with useful information.

        I, too, have read in sub-atomic physics, but find this has zero to do with the issue at hand.  As for "true or false" trumping "yes or no" or any other binary opposites...choose your answers and let be chose the question and I will win.  ;-)

        one could arbitrarily divide the universe into an infinite number of non-overlapping binary sets. That's a fun mindgame, but not really useful, and thus not really scientific or rational.

         Now, who is resorting to a magisteria approach?  :-)
         But you are right, a discussion of epistimology based on whether pigs, roller skates or polecats existed or not would indeed be fruitless, but that is not anything like what I have suggested.  You have come up with this "non-overlapping binary sets" idea.
          On the other hand, when the issue is "existence" vs "non-existence" itself, - complementary sides of a single coin - you find yourself following the Taoist line of thought that hardly can be ignored without betraying a bias against oriental thinking.  What DOES happen to the lap when we stand up or the sound of one hand clapping? Can there really be a up without down, in without an out or yes without a no? Only in a monary world, which I have yet to observe.

        •  None of which has any real-world relevance (0+ / 0-)

          If you argue for the potential existence of a deist deity, we have no quarrel - for all intents and purposes, a non-interventionist, deist god is nothing more than a philosophical game.

          In the real world, theism has consequences, and most of them, I contend are negative. In the real world, theism matters - both to theists and to nontheists - to the extent the theist believes that human behavior matters to - and causes corresponding behavior from - a god or gods.

          That has consequences that are, on balance, negative. When you couple theism with organized religion, you have the recipe for the disasters of human history.

          This would be a better world, if there were no religion in it. As long as theism of the intercessory kind persists, we will not have a world without religion.

          Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

          by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 05:06:39 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You got to stop and read for understanding. (0+ / 0-)

            If you argue for the potential existence of a deist deity, we have no quarrel - for all intents and purposes, a non-interventionist, deist god is nothing more than a philosophical game.

            What in anything I have written has to do with this? Why does it seem I am talking to someone engaged in a monologue?  Go back and read my initial diary and copy selected comments and respond to them.  

            In the real world, theism has consequences, and most of them, I contend are negative. In the real world, theism matters - both to theists and to nontheists - to the extent the theist believes that human behavior matters to - and causes corresponding behavior from - a god or gods.

            You are still trapped in the theist/nontheist arena. If you understood what I have written you would know that I am not playing in that ballpark.

            That has consequences that are, on balance, negative. When you couple theism with organized religion, you have the recipe for the disasters of human history.

            If so, why defend theists as people who believe that human behavior matters. My observation is that it matters so long as it works to their advantage.  Isn't that the definition of hedonism?

            This would be a better world, if there were no religion in it. As long as theism of the intercessory kind persists, we will not have a world without religion.

            Is there any other kind?  What are gods for if not to save us from our own folly?  But why do we call them gods when all they do is sit around until we call?  Sounds like gods are just celestial paramedics.  :-(   Which is why any discussion of them is folly or insanity...you pick your poison.

  •  Poll shows non-believers are increasing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, DemandTruth

    I have seen many reports of polls showing increases in the percentages of people identifying themselves as atheists or non-believers.  I have long thought these percentages are higher but the stigma for saying so is real and not without consequence.  For instance, being openly atheist makes it more difficult to be elected than being openly gay.  But being an atheist doesn't require a "lifestyle" as visible and different from the religious norm as being gay, so avoiding the uncomfortable is easier for us. Still, it divides families, strains friendships, and can effect you economically through the workplace.

    From my earliest experiences with religion I was always confused as to how quick and easily professed Christian's hearts would turn cold at those they disapproved of, to the point that the hatred was palpable. Love may be the coin of their realm, but hatred is their paper money. My experiences with non-believers, on the other hand, consistently found people who were more tolerant and open to others.

  •  Winter Solstice Celebrations (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cumberland sibyl, IowaPopulist

    The celebration of the Winter Solstice was hijacked/adopted by the other religions so they could get more converts in marketing their god and religion to the pagans.

    In pre-historic times, winter was a very difficult time for Aboriginal people in the northern latitudes. The growing season had ended and the tribe had to live off of stored food and whatever animals they could catch. The people would be troubled as the life-giving sun sank lower in the sky each noon. They feared that it would eventually disappear and leave them in permanent darkness and extreme cold.

    After the winter solstice, they would have reason to celebrate as they saw the sun rising and strengthening once more. Although many months of cold weather remained before spring, they took heart that the return of the warm season was inevitable. The concept of birth and or death/rebirth became associated with the winter solstice. The Aboriginal people had no elaborate instruments to detect the solstice. But they were able to notice a slight elevation of the sun's path within a few days after the solstice -- perhaps by DEC-25. Celebrations were often timed for about the 25th.

    This is the holiday season of celebrating "Lights" at the darkest time of the year now by both Christians and Jews. It's not a coincidence, it's history and tradition.

    ANCIENT ROME: Saturnalia began as a feast day for Saturn on DEC-17 and of Ops (DEC-19). About 50 BCE, both were later converted into two day celebrations. During the Empire, the festivals were combined to cover a full week: DEC-17 to 23.

    By the third century CE, there were many religions and spiritual mysteries being followed within the Roman Empire. Many, if not most, celebrated the birth of their god-man near the time of the solstice. Emperor Aurelian (270 to 275 CE) blended a number of Pagan solstice celebrations of the nativity of such god-men/saviors as Appolo, Attis, Baal, Dionysus, Helios, Hercules, Horus, Mithra, Osiris, Perseus, and Theseus into a single festival called the "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun" on DEC-25. At the time, Mithraism and Christianity were fierce competitors. Aurelian had even declared Mithraism the official religion of the Roman Empire in 274 CE. Christianity won out by becoming the new official religion in the 4th century CE.

  •  Real easy to poke holes in any religion. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    C Barr, MRA NY

    Kind of like shooting fish in a barrel since all of the world's religions are governed by human beings and thus have sordid and flawed histories. That doesn't mean they are without value and that each doesn't contain some truth. The problems of religion are a manifestation of humanity's imperfections.

    The fact is, the nature of existence is a mystery to us all, and you are no closer to knowing any basic truths than most religious people (nut jobs notwithstanding). Your absolute certainty that there is no God and contempt for religion is as obnoxious and counterproductive as preaching the world is 5,000 years old.

    Is there are God? I don't know and neither do you. I think religion serves the greater good more often than not. Unfortunately, those who use religion as an excuse to abandon reason, ignore science, and pass judgment on others make all the noise and have a negative impact disproportionate to their numbers. Contempt for such people is not confined to atheists and agnostics. I know plenty of deeply religious people who love science and have no respect for young-earthers and evolution deniers.

    Our obligation to survive and flourish is owed not just to ourselves, but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring. Carl Sagan

    by RALM on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 03:46:22 PM PST

    •  huh? (0+ / 0-)

      how can you say "religion serves the greater good more often" when millions of people have been killed in the name of some god?

    •  I respectfully disagree (0+ / 0-)

      I think religion serves the greater good more often than not.

      In my experience I have seen religion used as a bludgeon, a crutch, and a very devisive tool

      Several of my Church of Christ friends are very quick to tell me that they are the only real church and that all these other churches are imposters and that the parishoners of them are doomed to hell.

      Now that is not serving the greater good

      I am not even going to get into the muslim extremist other than to say that they are not serving the greater good either

      In my travels I see many self styled preachers who have no classic education of the biblical text. Except being so called self taught and "Called" to lead

      What a crock

      Even at this, what many would call a "mega-church" with one classically trained professional clergy, who does as good a  job as has been my pleasure/displeasure to hear, even there, the second string is woefully inadequate and just living off the dole of the church.

      And the so called volunteers at this modern mega church are such hypocrits about all the god stuff it is hilarious

      I go to several churches each year, I enjoy it and I have yet to see one iota of evidence of this so called greater good

      Mostly I see hucksters, scam artists, and people all wanting to sell their home business crap to their fellow church goers.

      One such pastor, is an avid outdoor lover, so what he does is scam this church to support his habit.  He gets a bunch of men together for outtings every couple of months which entails using the churches resouces to fund these trips.  He gets the gas and trailers and everything he needs to fund his trip and all he has to do is act like their was some supernatural meaning to the outdoors.  

      What a hoot  

      And he is on the payroll although he has never given a sermom.  Only occasionally do they let him do the communion mediation.  When he does he blathers on so much that they get many many complaints.  That way he is not forced to do it but maybe twice a year.

      That is largely what inhabits those so-called holy places.

    •  Also on this point (0+ / 0-)

      Real easy to poke holes in any religion. (0+ / 0-)
      Kind of like shooting fish in a barrel since all of the world's religions are governed by human beings and thus have sordid and flawed histories. That doesn't mean they are without value and that each doesn't contain some truth. The problems of religion are a manifestation of humanity's imperfections.

      The holes most easily poked is the supernatural tooth fairy basis of all religions

      That my friend is the elephant in the room of all religion

      How rational modern thinkers can accept this escapes me

  •  also... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    politicalstu

    I call people out at work when they throw around the "I'll pray for X" comment...I ask them if prayer really works, they will say yes and then I ask about all the poor people who they didn't pray for.  Why they aren't praying 24/7 for everyone they can *if it actually works*.  

    Working in a hospital I also get the "I'm blessed" comment a lot. I guess the other guy who died in that wreck was cursed then...

    Religion is Absurd!

  •  How beautiful. You have summed up (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cumberland sibyl, DavidHeart

    beautifully and brilliantly exactly how I feel as a fellow athiest.  

    Just watching The Universe or that series they made exploring the oceans (Blue Planet?) - this planet and the entire cosmos are so awe-inspiring, beautiful and wondrous!  Who needs some bearded sky fairy when we can marvel at what's before our very eyes, and what we're discovering every day?!?

    The reason God is the way he is (they all are) is because he is a human construct.  Theists believe their God to be supernatural, divine.  And yet he has only the qualities/traits that can be concieved and experienced by the animal brain.  He has a name - he has a gender, he has a son, he can be vengeful, jealous, forgiving, cruel, kind...you get where I'm going here.  That's just a dude.  An ancient superhero dude.  That's nothing I feel the need to worship.  Nothing that could judge or threaten me into being a good person (if I were not inclined to already be one).

    You have put so eloquently many things that I've believed for a long time.  Thanks for this.

    "I think if aliens came down from space and killed everybody, they would spare Radiohead and make them play every night" - stevethemod87

    by DemandTruth on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 04:45:57 PM PST

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