When I say woo-woo, I know it is pejorative. Since I am not trying to make any situation worse, maybe I shouldn’t use the term. Yet, calling something woo-woo gets my opinion across immediately and somewhat humorously (me thinks).
For example, most Catholics believe speaking in tongues and playing with poisonous snakes is woo-woo. Protestants think transubstantiation is woo-woo. To be fair, so do most Catholics these days. But for me, it’s all mystical nonsense and unevidenced claims: woo-woo.
I’ve seen Deepak Chopra lose his shit when the term was used during a discussion/debate with atheists. (Click here to watch the youtube—it’s fun.) His demonstrative demeanor and insistence on his correctness were telling of his deeper persona.
It is in the Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Woo-woo means something is “dubiously or outlandishly mystical, supernatural, or unscientific.”
In bar or locker-room talk, I would normally say bullshit. While that is too strong, it also makes my point. I’m not trying to be a polite member of society when I say woo-woo. I am unsarcastically letting society know that I am skeptical but aware.
For years I wrote what are called morning pages (MP). I like them and I agree with Julia Cameron that they are therapeutic, but not therapy. I think they are also fun, considering it’s a morning thing. I don’t accept claims for MPs being mystical or supernatural. I’ve stopped writing them, but I want to begin writing MPs again.
According to Julia’s web page, “Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness (SoC) writing, done first thing in the morning.”
She goes on, “There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages – they are not high art. They are not even ‘writing.’ They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind – and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize, and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.” (juliacameronlive.com)
All good. I recommend, but.
That kind of SoC involves a lot of letting go and much trust. It is not easy, but doable. I have a stack of notebooks full of morning pages writing. My problem is that I do better when I am more emotional, which can happen any time of day. But mornings are what they are. MPs are (for me) not about politics or religion. They are about me, people, and the things closest to me.
But then here comes the word that makes me step back: spirituality. I am good with discussion of the human spirit. I am not okay with invoking woo-woo. I am not okay with others trying to make spiritual things part of my life even if it is part of theirs.
If they want to believe it, fine. If they want me to accept it, they need to prove it is reality. That does not stop them from using spirits or the forces of woo to explain even scientifically explainable phenomena.
By the way, these woo-woo promoting people make a ton of money selling books, doing personal appearances, and on the lecture circuit. They are promising something. Right? Like a religion? Often, their claims are outlandish (more woo-woo).
Over many years during which I thought religion had some value, I tried several Christian denominations, even to the point of being one of the Catholics attending that denomination/church. Eventually, each church provided some revelation that persuaded me to walk away. I regret none of that, and I learned much from the experiences.
My wife was always my partner in these endeavors. One condition for us to give a church a try was that it had to be flexible enough to fit our thinking. These included Episcopalian, Methodist, First Christian, and other welcoming groups. Most were “main line” Protestant.
Some denominations were not going to see us except as walk-ons at weddings, funerals, or other events related to friends or family. LDS and J-Witnesses (I still consider these cults) were not ever even possible considerations. Other fundamentalist bible thumping groups were likewise considered and dropped almost immediately. These would include denominations like Church of Christ, Pentecostal (Holy Rollers), Evangelicals, most independent non-denominational (whatever that is) types, and of course, good old Southern Baptist (home of the hypocrite).
If drinking beer, dancing, and mixed sex swimming were considered sinful, that group was dismissed in a New York minute. Ironically, the only church in which I ever spoke from the pulpit was Southern Baptist. As the minister and I stood at the exit, worshippers filed out shaking our hands. They also kept giving me money. When I turned the cash over to the real preacher he said, “You may have missed your calling, Bill.”
Lately, the Southern Baptists have been kind enough to give me a reason to blog about them. And guess what? It involves sexual misconduct and a high-level coverup. Well, I tell you what! I’ll just swan. Bless their (formerly racist?) little hearts. Read all about it HERE.
Apparently, the once saved, always saved, and largest single Protestant denomination in the U.S., comprising one-tenth of American Protestants, and the world’s largest Baptist denomination, has been taking lessons from the Catholic bishops on how to turn a difficult and bad situation into a major scandal perturbing and embarrassing all 14.1 million of its faithful.
While I am not exclusively in the business of either attacking or defending religion’s hypocrites, anyone who thinks sexual misconduct only lies with pedophiliac Catholic priests and pompous bishops is woefully wrong.
Church and religion are the ideal turf for sexual crimes because, well, as everyone knows, you can trust a Christian much more than an atheist, right? And then there is God, who will take care of it all, right?
I keep quoting Hitch. “Religion poisons everything.”
Have a wonderful June. (Pride Month, Nat’l PTSD Awareness Month, International Mud Month; and today [3 June] is National Repeat Day.)
The Roman Catholic (RC) archbishop of San Francisco ordered priests in his archdiocese to deny communion to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi because of her political support for all women’s abortion rights.
This is not because she killed anyone. She’s had no abortion. She caused no one to have an abortion. She has not molested any children. It is because Nancy Pelosi, as one of the most powerful Democrats in the USA, thinks women should have the right to choose, up to the limits of current secular law, what happens to and within their bodies.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s decision to forbid Pelosi from receiving the Eucharist in churches within her, and his, home diocese interestingly comes when the SCOTUS is expected to overturn the constitutional right to abortion embodied in the 49-year-old court decision Roe v. Wade.
Six Catholics currently sit on the Supreme Court. (No atheists.) Could their vote be influenced by the actions of their religious leadership? Could they be forbidden communion based on how they vote? Protestants and others worried about this when JFK was running for POTUS. Does anyone recall how JFK responded to that?
The RC powers consider abortion a grave sin. It is not the only grave sin. There are many. As with others of his ilk, Cordileone is willing to force his religious views on everyone, not only Catholics (Christians), by attacking lawmakers with threats and godly intimidation. In this case forbidding devout RCs (not just politicians) access to the central point of their religion.
Catholicism is a liturgical religious practice. The key part of that practice is the Mass, and the point of a Mass is changing bread and wine into the actual body and blood of Christ. Then the Eucharist is taken into the body of the faithful by mouth. It is the biggest deal.
Cordileone wrote a tweet. He timed his letter. He said he is not “weaponizing” the Eucharist (i.e., the Christ bullet), which RC’s must believe is the actual, real, living, transubstantiated body and blood of Jesus Christ. Yes, this MF-er is doing exactly what he denies doing.
I confess to being anti-clergy. I confess to being atheist. I confess that I really do not care if Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden take Communion. But I say Cordileone is a liar and a prick. His actions are 100% politically motivated. His willingness to force his views (in defiance of his boss and fellow American bishops) on everyone is clear.
I am certain that Nancy and Joe will continue to receive Communion despite the clownery and grandstanding of dickheads (useless ones at that) like this guy.
Keep in mind that birth control prevents unwanted pregnancy. Consequently, the idea of abortion never comes up. But the RC Church considers birth control, including wearing rubbers to prevent HIV, to also be a grave sin (so said a previous pope). This is a sin that has caused many, if not most, RCs to throw down the BS flag for many years in growing numbers. We used birth control.
Most RC bishops do not deny communion to politicians who support abortion rights. Pope Francis, the leader of the Church, indicated that he believes bishops and priests should not deny communion (the body and blood of JC) to anyone. He said that he never refused the eucharist to anyone. To me, it has always seemed illogical to do so.
The Holy Father also said, “If we look at the history of the church (OMG!!!), we will see that every time the bishops have not managed a problem as pastors, they have taken a political stance on a political problem.” (He did not say the omg part.) But that comment includes his own predecessors. One of the most notable of such messes is now called the Church of England. Another is Protestantism in general.
When people like Bishop Cordileone abuse their power and position, something religious hierarchy of every breed have been doing for thousands of years, they open the door for questioning, inspection, and critique. Boneheaded and blinded, many Catholic faithful will resent my harsh criticism. They will mealy mouth hair-splitting nonsense, thus enabling corruption they deny. “Religion poisons everything.”
I realize how difficult it is for people who are not atheist or agnostic to understand and accept what either term means. Yet, a reasonable dictionary like Merriam-Webster is a good start. The more religious a person is, the harder it may be to grasp the concept of either, as simple as it may be. This is because so much of their belief is based on religion and nothing else.
Conversely, I never will understand why so many people continue to believe that people who do not believe in any god automatically lack both a moral compass and common sense. Maybe it is too difficult, too simple, or maybe they prefer what they have been told (not usually by a member of any nonbelieving entity) for most of their lives.
I cannot recall a time in my life when I thought less of someone because they did not believe in God. More often, it was some believers who troubled me. I’ve had friends and acquaintances from most large religious groups and even some wiccans and druids.
A theist believes in the existence of a god or gods; specifically, one believes in the existence of a God viewed as the creative source of humans, a god who transcends yet is immanent in the world. A person who lacks that belief is an atheist. Morality and trustworthiness must be discerned separately.
Agnostics claim that an ultimate reality such as God is unknown and probably unknowable. It’s not a halfway point between theist and atheist. This is something theists are more likely to get wrong than are atheists. Many folks are hyphenated agnostics: agnostic-atheist, agnostic-theist. I lean toward the former.
I found this PsyPost article regarding research that had been previously reported on in Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. It was about a published report that claimed to be “new” research. The PsyPost piece is dated May 9, 2022. It is bylined Patricia Y. Sanchez.
According to their webpage, “PsyPost is a psychology and neuroscience news website dedicated to reporting the latest research on human behavior, cognition, and society.” It is funded by advertising and claims to have three million readers.
PsyPost further claims, “We are not interested in over-generalizing or mischaracterizing research to get more clicks. We are not interested in confirming or disproving ideological beliefs. We are only interested in accurately reporting research about how humans think and behave.”
Overall, the subject research proports to investigate stereotype opinions held by various groups about atheists, religious (oddly, they chose protestants as a category), and, mainly, agnostics. The sample size was neither random nor sufficiently large to be statistically reliable. However, investigation of the obvious (my opinion) requires little serious statistical effort.
I thought everyone already knew, at least as far as stereotypes are concerned, that religious people generally favored their own ilk in terms of trust and general morality. But that is not my point.
The first sentence in the PsyPost article said this: “Agnosticism and atheism are often categorized into one “nonreligious” group in research despite these being distinct belief systems.”
It is safe to say that agnosticism and atheism do not compete with each other. One person may be both. It would also be right to say they should not be placed into the same religious category. However, it is wrong to categorize, state, or even to imply that either agnosticism or atheism is (or has) a belief system. Such a bogus first sentence places doubt upon either PsyPost or the researcher’s reporting and makes me question the peer review process of Psychology of Religion and Spirituality.
Sometimes it may seem like hair splitting, but this is how atheists.org said it, and I agree: “Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.”
To do research on stereotyping it would seem appropriate to me that one must first stop one’s own stereotyping.
One more important thing. Cher, (Cherilyn Sarkisian) was born on this day (May 20) in 1946.
While I don’t much judge what people say regarding their past metaphysical opinions, a blog post written several years ago by Bruce Gerencser struck a chord with me. He claimed that some folks who say they used to be atheist were lying. I pondered his claim. This is what I think.
First, these brief definitions are from the online Marriam-Webster dictionary (skip these if you want):
Was is (love that) the past tense of be for first- and third-person singular. Were would apply to second person singular.
Is is (even better) for be in the present tense third-person singular. It’s the dialectal present tense first-person and third-person singular of be and the dialectal present tense plural of be.
Am is (I like it) present tense first-person singular of be.
Just to be clear, be (in this case) means to identify with, to constitute the same idea or class, to have a specified qualification, or to belong to a class of.
Stay with me here for one more. M-W defines an atheist as:
“a person who does not believe in the existence of a god or any gods: one who subscribes to or advocates atheism.” It has nothing directly to do with religion or scripture. Just god.
I’ll stop there. But meanings of words and terms are important.
I was a believer, although always with some doubts. I was a Catholic/Christian in that I accepted and professed beliefs and did things that gave me those specific qualifications. Some Christians would want me to use their woo-woo words or terms. Anyone is welcome to doubt that I was what I claim to have been, but I make my claim and I have documents to support it.
Now for my point. While I prefer, I am atheist to I’m an atheist, either works fine. I’m uncertain which is more grammatically correct, but I think atheist is a non-count noun needing no indefinite article. But who cares? Maybe a grammar expert will comment. But that’s still not my point.
By saying in the present tense that I do not think any god exists (the definition of atheist), I am owning up, putting in writing, signing my name, and accepting all consequences. When I first did this publicly my wife’s comment was, “I am not ready to go that far yet.” She is not (an) atheist because she does not say that she is. I will return to this idea.
Unfortunately, the only decent word we have says what we are not: we are not believers in the existence of any god or deity. By default, this not-believing jettisons most major religions. I’m not saying that atheists do not practice any religions. Of course, they do. They just think it’s necessary for some reason other than a belief in God.
I am also not going to say all religions are ruled out because atheists may practice Unitarianism, Wicca, Buddhism, or some other “religion.” But this brings so much mud into the water it’s frustrating.
Here’s my question. Can anyone say that they were atheist if they never admitted that they are atheist? Can the atheist conclusion be arrived at in hindsight? Especially, after being saved.
To me, when someone tells me they are atheist, I accept that as true. However, when someone tells me that they do not go to church, that they have no (or practice no) religion, if they tell me they have fallen away from some religion, or they tell me anything except, “I am (an) atheist,” I do not consider them to be, or to have ever been, atheist. But they might have been.
Atheism has no litmus test, no creed, no organization, no scripture, no set of rules. It is just a conclusion, usually self-arrived at, about the existence of any gods. Many people reach this conclusion but never tell anyone.
However, it is not difficult to find believers, often practicing some form of religion, who will claim that in their past they were atheists. I’ll write of two.
One was a doctor in my previous parish. She eventually drifted off into a lot of not Catholic woo-woo, like speaking in tongues. The more I learned about her, the more convinced I became that she was never atheist and never in her past identified as such. I would call her a none (no religion) who turned to religion because of some trauma she had faced in her life. The other was the writer/author Anne Rice.
Mrs. Rice, in her Memoir, Called Out of Darkness, claims to have been (an) atheist beginning in about 1960 up to the late 1990s, when she found herself back in the good graces of the Catholic Church and once again claiming to be Christian. She admits that she was atheist. But was she?
I have doubts. I have not read where in those 38 years of successful prolific writing and movies where she outed herself and said that she is (an) atheist. Her self-admitted behavior toward the Catholic Church and religion for many years does not seem very atheistic, and certainly was not anti-religion, to me (except for one priest). At most she was agnostic. But it’s more correct, in my opinion, to say that Anne was a long-term, fallen-away Catholic and nothing more.
Before Anne Rice died late last year, she had renounced her identity as a Christian in favor of Secular Humanism with a belief in God. Knowing this outcome made reading her memoir more interesting for me. I recommend it for any fallen away or former Roman Catholic (or anyone).
Except for the few deists out there, very few people harbor a belief in God, particularly of the Abrahamic or Hindu variety, without some attachment to a religion. My experience is that religion removes from a person (Anne Rice being a possible exception) the ability to objectively contemplate the existence of a god or higher power. To this claim, I would add most 12-step programs such as AA and NA, all of which claim not to be religious, but in fact are at least faith-based, if not outright religious. They say we are not. I say, yes you are.
I have read what many of the former atheists who are now Christians claim and found every one of them lacking. Except for a few people who may have made metaphysical adjustments very late in life, and who were possibly mentally or emotionally affected, I agree with Bruce Gerencser’s claim that people who were nones are looking for attention by claiming (lying?) to have been atheists when they certainly were not.
What many religious folks seem to forget or don’t know is that for more years than most of them have been alive, I identified as Christian and practiced that religion, albeit the Catholic version (as a youth, it was the Irish Catholic brand for Carlin fans). I’ve lived in their church. I did more than my share of pay, pray, and obey. I swam in the deep end of godly religiosity. I was once a pubic hair from being ordained (imagine if I had gone through with that?).
I object when religion is forced on me or others. I decry when money taken from me and used to further any religion’s hold on government, society, culture, or basic freedoms. But religion is forced on us politically and money is taken from us and given to religions.
It annoys me (not offends or insults) when religious people lie about other people. Those others may be people of other religious or denominational beliefs, people of no religious practice (aka, nones), agnostics, and (mostly) atheists, like me. I also see many no true Scotsman lies.
Some folks incorrectly think I’m offended by many things Christian, or God stuff. I seldom am. I’m atheist. I don’t care if that offends anyone. However, I see threats to people and problems created for people (albeit, usually not me directly) by religions. I see the irony when the religious charge me with persecution if I insist that they keep their religion out of my throat.
In all those years of trying to be a believer, I never attacked anyone for not holding my beliefs or who did not believe in God. If fact, I often found myself defending non-believers, either generally as a group or by name. It’s enough to say that I’ve been one and done it.
However, I want to tell y’all right here and now that I still like some religious music (not so much the gospel stuff). I’m talking about some Christmas music, Gregorian Chant, and fun R&R tunes that back in some god squad stuff.
I like Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum, and observant Jew who excited so many Christians with the song, except for the part about ‘I’ve never sinned’ (we can’t have sinless Jews singing about their friend, Jesus). Whoopsie, Norm. You see man, I don’t think Jesus was God or the son thereof either. That’s the sin: what you believe, not what you do or don’t do.
I also like ‘(Jesus Christ) Superstar,’ (Murray Head); ‘Jesus is Just Alright’ (Doobie Bros.); and even some back atcha stuff like ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ (Rolling Stones). I (we) don’t believe in the devil either. There’s more religiously inspired music I like. But my point’s made.
I don’t get why people would assume anything godly or religious might aggrieve me or any atheist, particularly former believers. I defend my conclusions, but I also accept their lack of universal popularity.
Are believers upset by secular music? Normally, they’re not. But nowadays we have the holiday tradition of accusatory (false) wars on the reason for the season (it’s not the reason) and how awful the Starbucks coffee cups are this year. Here Comes Santa Claus is not the same as here come Jesus right down Mary’s birth canal. But who cares? It’s just a song.
Do folks get their religious panties in a wad over nonreligious songs? Okay, maybe few weirdos do. But come on. Let’s be realistic here. At the end it is just a song or a movie or a book.
While many religious people credit divinity instead of nature, luck, science, biology, or sex for our being; we can all pretty much agree that life is like a story. It has a beginning, middle, and an end.
We may disagree about when the beginning is, perhaps the middle too. But we all pretty much agree that death is the end of a physical life, at least temporarily. However, there is little consensus about what goes on after we are dead.
Whether or not dying is a new beginning, a continuation of some kind, a simple end, or a mish mash of various afterlife claims; ghostly proposals are a hodge podge of anything goes hypotheses.
There are also a good number of secular concepts of what happens after death. Each is as valid as any of the religious ideas. Add the entertainment category to the list, and anything goes. While anything goes is not a listed concept, it might as well be.
I don’t know what death entails. I have no evidence for any of the life after death hypotheses. Therefore, while I accept that there may be something after death, I don’t know. I am a when you’re dead, you are flat-ass, completely dead and gone kind of guy. Some folks call that disappointing. I call it reasonable reality. I’m not disappointed.
Dan Dennett has said regarding Brights (nonbelievers), “…We disagree about many things, and hold a variety of views about morality, politics, and the meaning of life, but we share a disbelief in black magic — and life after death.”
If a form of consciousness or conscious life exists after physical and mental (as in brain) death, I’ll find out when everyone else does and in the same way. However, I want to kibitz on the 30 afterlife ideas I read about: 30 theories about what happens when you die (msn.com)
I’m loath to say theories because most don’t rise to that level of assurance.
There are not really 30 different after death concepts proposed. Some are essentially the same or overlap. Others are fictional afterlife stories from television shows. I made three categories: Religious, Secular/Universal, and Entertaining.
Secular or Universal Categories:
The cosmic hypothesis claims consciousness belongs to the universe, not to individual bodies. When we die, our consciousness returns to the cosmos. I’m not sure what that means or where it goes. I like the dream thing. It claims that when we die, we will just wake up from a very confusing, vivid, and long dream. It reminds me of Poe’s poem, A Dream Within a Dream.
I fall in among what is called the nothingness concepts. One suggests at death everything turns black, and we’re gone forever. There is also the uncertain idea, which is also me, suggests that all that we know about death is what happens to the physical body. That uncertainty suggestion addresses death as a cold reality leaving other ideas for consideration
Nihilism deems that all values are meaningless and baseless. It’s a dark philosophy. A true nihilist way of approaching death and the afterlife is that there is nothing at all afterwards because life also had nothing. It’s a bit cold, but afterlife it is one thing nihilism may have right.
The solipsism suggestion is new to me. It is valid in both life and death. Solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one’s own mind is unsure. It is a philosophical idea that only one’s mind is sure to exist. Perhaps, when one dies, everything else dies as well. I don’t understand this one.
Those who believe in the paranormal claim that after death our souls remain among the living on Earth. Many also believe communication with these souls is possible through mediums. I don’t buy any of this. This suggestion also fits under entertainment. If I talked about charlatans, this would be their heyday category.
Buddhists hypothesize reincarnation after death. There are different realms into which you may be reborn after your good and dead. You could be a god, demi-god, human, animal, or a ghost.
LDS folks believe good and righteous Mormons become gods when they die. Alternatively, non-believers are condemned in the afterlife. Heaven is apparently not good enough for them. Seems narcissistic to me.
Hinduism also holds the belief of reincarnation. A person’s status or form in the next life is determined by their actions during this current life. No news there.
Christians believe in both Heaven and Hell. Good and righteous Christians will enter Heaven. If they lead a life of sin and wrongdoings, it’s Hell after life. However, it is essential to believe in God and Jesus. Do-gooder agnostics, atheists, Jews, and Muslims are doomed (especially the first two, as the last two also want to believe they’re special and thus semi-saved).
Sci-fi explanations abound. One is the parallel universe idea that when we die, we will be living in the same universe as we were before, just in a different portion of space and time.
Stranger Things followers know what the Upside Down is. The show claims that there is an alternate dimension to our universe that a person can become trapped in, being neither alive nor dead. Not sure you even must die for this one.
The illusion idea claims that the world is created more in our minds than in a literal sense, meaning that it is all an illusion. Following this understanding, death is a human-constructed concept, and when we die, we remain.
The excretion dump is kind of shitty. It claims that the universe is a giant brain in a human body, and individuals are merely cells. When a cell dies in a human body it gets excreted, so perhaps that is what happens to people in the end.
The many worlds claim is that when we die, we are only dying in this world and current universe. There are other universes out there where we can move. See how this idea overlaps others?
There should be no problem with these. Folks should be free to believe as they wish. But not so fast. There appears to be a heavenly problem.
Some believers, mostly Christians, seem eager to participate in bringing on what they believe to be the inevitable end times when all life ends. It’s kind of like in the book of Revelation. Armageddon. They are willing to destroy all life and just get things over with. They see themselves as God’s little helpers. Not good.
Another thing I’ve read about is the killing of children being justified because they are without sin and go directly to Paradise/Heaven. Islamic terrorists have used this logic to justify some of their murderous deeds.
It should not matter what anyone thinks about what happens after we are dead. But it does.
PS: This list could be molded into parodistic lyrics to the Paul Simon song. Maybe someday.
It pains me to admit this. I would rather not tell because some people will get the hypothetical idea that my current metaphysical and ethereal conclusions are consequences of my youthful experience, rather than of study and thought. That would be normal but wrong.
When I was two weeks old, no one asked me if I wanted to go into a church and have a strange man, a priest, pour water over my head, and make me a full-fledged, card-carrying member of the Roman Catholic Church. I did not even know ‘Uncle Paddy’ who was my God Father. I don’t recall meeting him, but I may have been to his funeral. I knew my God Mother.
Five years later, I was again not asked if I wanted to start going to school. Nor was I given any choice of which school I would attend. For me, it was kindergarten at Saint John the Evangelist parochial school, which was a five-minute walk from home. Those nine months were the only days I enjoyed out of the nine years I spent there.
A few years later, I was not asked if I was up to telling one of those priests what bad things (sins) I had done and how often. But by then, I was conditioned to doing what they said and going along with the crowd. It was called Confession or the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a rite of passage for virtually all Catholic children. The second of my six Sacraments.
I was not asked if I wanted to go to Mass nor if I wanted to take Eucharist or Communion (Sacrament #3). I was not asked if I wanted to sing or pray. I was forced to memorize things and was demeaned if I did not get it right. The priests and nuns were always correct. Always.
The religious of the Church taught me that it was a sin for me to think certain thoughts or to feel certain ways (think puberty). For some things, Jesus would send me to Hell for eternity, but if I told a priest about it, and said two Our Fathers, Four Hail Marys, and a good Act of Contrition, all that I confessed was forgiven. Eventually, I made up sins because I had to go to confession and needed something to confess. It never occurred to me (maybe I didn’t care) that lying to the priest was a sin.
The idea was if you died then, you went straight to Heaven. Otherwise, the best one could hope for was Purgatory (a virtual certainty) for an unspecified (but long) time. If you either missed Mass (church) or killed twenty people (be it one or 20 mortal sins), you went to Hell. Forever. You could bargain your way to a shorter Purgatory sentence, but Hell meant God was done with you. Again, I was not given the opportunity at that time to say this is bullshit. Later, I did.
My family supported the church (nuns and priests) over me. But eventually, I became more independent and moved away from all that. I attended a public high school during the early 1960s, during the times when things changed from praying in school (the Protestant version of the Lord’s Prayer), bible readings (the King James Version, also Protestant), to moments of silence, then to all of that being judged unconstitutional by the SCOTUS (thank God).
None of my children objected when I had them baptized (none as infants, two Catholic, one Methodist). Only one was ever Confirmed, first as a Methodist. Later, as an adult, he was Confirmed as a Catholic. It was his choice. Today, none of my grown children attend church nor are they religiously active.
My point is this. From birth, religion and God were forced on me. I was given no choice. Even as a teen, I was forced into it for a time. I neither resent nor bemoan any of that. It’s how things were, and for many, still are. While some people might see it as child abuse (and in some cases it probably is), it simply was what it was.
However, I now strongly resent attempts to force, coerce, or to wheedle religion or any god on me or anyone else. Yet, it is a fact that many (most? all?) people would force their religious beliefs on me or others if they could.
They resent my nonbelief, my denial of any god, my contention that prayer is feckless, and my demand for hard evidence if I am to believe as they do. I likewise resent their attempts to convert or reconvert me. One guy told me on this blog that it was his job. I never heard from him again. Must have been something I said.
The difference is they can have their god as far as I’m concerned. I don’t care. Their religion is a different story. It is bad. And every day, more people are coming to see it as I do for the simple reason that neither deities nor religions make sense.
I read this brief post titled “How do we engage believers?” on Freethought Now by James Haught. The idea is for ‘well-meaning’ believers and freethinkers to have calm discussions, presumably about the existence of any god or the efficacy of any religion. It’s not a long article.
I cannot recall ever having such a discussion as either a believer or an atheist. That is unless you consider comments like, “well, there must be something” to be a discussion.
Today it might begin something like this. I’m atheist. Your religion is (pointless, dangerous, destructive, or silly) to me. Or I am convinced that no god exists. Why are you so certain that there is one?
Many folks still don’t know I’m atheist, much less what that means. While I’m willing to have that talk, I don’t want to. Some folks would be immediately offended simply to know that I don’t believe in Jesus, Allah, or Brahman (Hindu god). However, if sincerely asked why I don’t believe in any gods, I’m willing to explain. I’m just not up to debates or arguments.
I once had a Christian friend/acquaintance who would bait folks into such discussions or arguments, only to later play the victim (like she was accosted rather than the accoster). She would later criticize the other person behind their back or on her blog. I never walked into her trap even though she tried, but I did call her out on her “unchristian” behavior before distancing myself.
I witnessed one brief chat she had where the other person simply said, “I don’t see how you people can believe that stuff.” She said nothing to the person who made the comment. Later, she claimed to be shocked, offended, and angry. She soon posted the experience on her blog, seeking sympathy from fellow Christians.
Believers often charge persecution when they hear terms like freedom from religion, fiction, fairy tale, nonsense, delusions, lies, or deception. Recently, some god-believing folks commented on this blog, which is fine. They are welcome to do so. However, they eventually left claiming insult or injury (hurt feelings). One guy even said his claim to injury was his call since he was the ‘injured’ party. This after making odd and ridiculous claims which I, and some of you, pointed out for what they were: nonsense.
Apparently, when one claims the ability to prove a god’s existence, my pointing out that as evidence of a delusional crack pot is taken as an insult when it is merely describing their claim in the same terms even many of their fellow believers would do.
If anyone claims belief in a spiritual world, a belief in ghosts of dead people, or in other things unseen such as a parallel universe, that’s for them to do. Generally, they don’t ask me to share in their vision.
Religious believers are different. They get their panties in a wad when I request logic, science, proof, justice, human rights, and freedom. Sometimes the only way to remain civil is to talk about the weather (if we don’t have to pray for rain). Yet, even with weather, politics loom.
Here are more brief ponderings.
I am not interested in educating anyone about their religion. They needn’t ask. That’s their job. All religion is pointless to me because there is no god.
If others want to have religious discussions, good for them.
People who do not believe in any god are called agnostics or atheists. It’s that simple.
I call people who believe or claim to believe in some god, believers. Equally simple.
I try to keep Gods and associated religions as separate topics.
On this blog I post my thoughts (ponderings) as simple, up front, easy stuff.
If I read about people saying or doing something dumb regarding some god or religion, I will have my say on this blog. I rarely block comments, so if folks want to weigh in, be my guest. However, #1 above still applies.
If someone prays to their god asking him, her, or it to make me a believer like them; I claim equal opportunity to pray to that same god to make them skeptics like me. Fair is fair.
I like to listen to some religious debates. I enjoy learning about why some people believe in a god and why others don’t. It is better when they play nice. However, finding something new in any of that is rare.
Like everyone else, my days are numbered. I do not plan to use many of them arguing politics or religion. But one final point.
I was a believer for many years. While my doubts waxed and waned over the years, I’ve finally decided about most things spiritual. I’m clear on the heaven or hell hypothesis; I’ve read the complete bible, most of it multiple times. I’ve studied it and taught it along with other religious subjects. That gives me some street cred.
Consequently, when people insist on educating me about the Christian religion or its God(s), I can lose patience with them. I may even grow a bit testy. However, I sometimes play along. I want to see how ridiculous they can get. I’m human.
I had nothing, then this mic dropped. It’s an email FFRF posted today. I need to send them some dinero for helping me out.
Now, it is out of “love” that this Gary person sent this. (CAPS, spacing, spelling, and punctuation are all GARY’s). He removed all our excuses (what a jerk).
“I WANT YOU PEOPLE SAVED AND NOT GO TO HELL FOR ETERNITY . SO PLEASE LISTEN TO ME BEFORE ITS TO LATE FOR YOU . YOUR ETERNAL DESTINY DEPENDS ON IT . I MUST WARN YOU PEOPLE – JESUS IS VERY REAL . YOU ARE LOST WITHOUT HIM AND WILL DIE IN YOUR SINS . HELL IS A REAL PLACE – SO IS HEAVEN . DON’T BE A FOOL AND REJECT CHRIST . I PLEAD WITH YOU OUT OF LOVE . HELL IS A PLACE OF ETERNAL TORMENT WHERE THE DEVIL AND HIS DEMONS WILL ALL BE . YOU WILL GO TO THIS MOST TERRIFYING PLACE IF YOU DON’T REPENT . I GUARANTEE YOU WILL HAVE A RUDE AWAKENING IF YOU DON’T LISTEN TO THIS MESSAGE . ONCE AGAIN DON’T BE A FOOL ! THIS IS REAL AND GOD DOESN’T MESS AROUND . YOU ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE NOW – ALL OF YOU . — Gary”
God doesn’t mess around, and Jesus IS VERY REAL: Gary guarantees it. There we have it, right?
Okay, let’s say I repent (for what I’m not sure). I get my Irish ass saved (from Hell I guess). Presumably after I die, I will not have a rude awakening (but I will remain doornail dead).
I am sitting here reading the Ten Commandments wondering which of them Gary thinks I’m going to Hell for. Jesus is not mentioned. I believe in No Gods, so with one exception, I am good for the first one. No false gods and all that. But, the graven image shit may doom us all.
I’m not sure I know what #2 means, but when I swear, I seldom involve deities. Now I am a fan of the late George Carlin, who, presumably, has experienced his rude awakening. In persona, I’ve been compared to him, but I’m not even close to that funny. Anyways, when I cuss, I use four of George’s seven dirty words: shit, fuck, cocksucker, and motherfucker. I don’t consider cunt, tits, or piss swearing when used on their own. Back to Commandments.
I’m good with Mom & Dad. Lately, I’ve not killed anyone without repenting. I have not adulteried (made-up word), stole, false witnessed, or lusted for or with any of the neighbors. I like my stuff better than theirs, so I’m non-coveting. I am not sure what I could do to fuck up a Sabbath anyway, or which day it actually is.
So here’s the thing. I’ll be going to Hell for ETERNITY, according to Gary and his fellow (loving) pacemakers (that was a 1960s band) because I acknowledge the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that any of the 5,000 or so gods man has created ever existed. Anything else? Nope.