Happy Friday and welcome to the first day of Autumn for the top half of the globe. I was wondering why this word search happened.
Every 30 seconds of everyday, Merriam-Webster dot com tells us the top ten most popular words being looked up in their online dictionary. Based upon news and world events, it usually makes sense.
This is what they say about this feature, “Trend Watch is a data-driven report on words people are looking up at much higher search rates than normal. While most trends can be traced back to the news or popular culture, our focus is on the lookup data rather than the events themselves.”
The other day number ten was the word religion. Why now? Do the people doing the search not know the definition of religion? And why might they care?
Just to be sure, I often look up words that I know how to spell, pronounce, and how to define. I do not constitute a trend. I’m not sure how many it takes to merit the trend list. I have looked up the meaning of religion before. In this case, I wanted the exact dictionary definition.
The three definitions of religion listed are:
1. A personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.
(a/1): the service and worship of God(s) or the supernatural, or (a/2) the commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance.
(b): It is the state of a religious (like a nun in her 20th year).
A cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.”
I have no argument with these definitions. I knew them. But why were so many people looking it up? What’s the cause or big deal?
For days, if not weeks, fascism has been in the top three. It was gone when I last checked. It’s been in the top ten for years. I get that.
Do you think someone is thinking, oh now, if it means that, then this is not a religion? They update the list about every 30 seconds, but still—religion? I find it oddly interesting.
A curious synonym for religion from the M-W online thesaurus is cult. I also agree with that connection. I was originally taken aback when I first read all religions are cults. Now I get it. Yes, they are.
You could say “so what?” or be insulted by that synonym. But one must remember, conversely, virtually all cults have a remarkable resemblance to a religion.
Try this. Think of words ending with the suffix -ism: Paganism, plagiarism, criticism, racism, sexism, alcoholism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, etc. Words tied to -isms include doctrines, causes, theories, attitudes, beliefs, acts, practices, processes, prejudices, conditions, religions, adherence to a system, characteristics, and traits. (merrian-webster.com)
That same dictionary also defines atheism as “a lack of belief or a strong disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods” and/or “a philosophical or religious position characterized by disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods.”
How many -isms are defined by what they are not or do not do? There is no atheist doctrine, theory, belief, practice, process, prejudice, religion, or adherence to anything.
There are certainly atheists. I suspect more than anyone knows. There are also atheist groups and atheist organizations. People use the phrase, “as an atheist…” often. While I often push back on terms like true atheist and all atheists, both believers and atheists use such phrases. I try to avoid saying as an atheist and prefer the phrase because I do not believe any god exists. But what is atheism other than what an atheist does not believe exists?
I realize people say many false things about atheists and define what they call atheism to insult nonbelievers or to threaten, often dependent, closeted atheists, doubting believers, and their friends, family, and neighbors. Those are almost always ignorant lies, and that will not go away.
However, I, along with others, claim that while most -isms exist, atheism does not. While I am atheist, I have no doctrine to either follow or reject. I believe many things, just not that there really is any god. I have no atheist practices and worship nothing (including Satan, which, like any god, is unlikely to be). I have read social research that indicates some atheists believe there is a god. I call them enigmatic, if not confused, atheists.
There are many types of Jews and forms of Judaism. Same for Islamism. Within Christianity there is both Catholicism and Protestantism, but they are all Christians. Mormons claim to be Christians and lord knows they have their own set of practices (and underwear). Within all these groups lie doctrinaire differences, but they still have rules to debate or follow. Atheists have none of that. I, for one, want none of it.
So, how can atheism be a thing if it cannot be defined by what it is?
Happy National IPA, Underwear, Oyster, and Work Like a Dog Day.
The other day I read an old blog post by a Jewish Rabbi about The Difference Between God and Religion (title of his post). Reb Jeff says they are not the same thing. I agree, but only if the god or gods in question really exist.
I know many religious people wrap the two so tightly that they cannot conceptually separate them. I doubt if most believers could conceive of one without the other. A theist without theology.
Since the rabbi opened the door and put it out there, I am going to pick at his comments.
He wrote, “To me, God is manifest in the realization that I am here, and so are you, to fulfill a purpose and truth that is greater than any one of us individually.” (From Reb Jeff blog 8/18/2012, Italics mine). Jeff’s logic is that because you, he, and I exist, God not only exists, but is “manifest.” If that was true, there would be neither atheists nor agnostics.
Manifest means “readily perceived by the senses and especially by the sense of sight” and “easily understood or recognized by the mind: obvious” (merriam-webster.com). No god is obvious. None.
Furthermore, he got lost in the idea of living a pointless life without his god and his holy books. Based on what he wrote, without the Jewish God, Reb Jeff and his ilk cannot imagine a purposeful or fulfilling life. No news there. They subsequently reflect that position onto others, especially nonbelievers. How can you be happy if you cannot believe any god exits? Well, we are.
In the post, the rabbi speaks of “experiencing” God. Something not everyone does. Not even most believers. I never did. Experiencing is not manifestation. Psychoses and delusions can be experienced. Religion is experienced. Is God?
He also wrote, “You don’t need to be a mind reader to realize that a true atheist would not be concerned with the struggle to maintain faith.” Is the rabbi an expert in what a “true” atheist is? He is a reformed Jew. What if I claimed that he was not a true Jew?
Maybe he never heard of the true Scotsman fallacy. Anyway, I’ve been concerned with having faith and the “struggle to maintain faith,” my entire life. If the rabbi would say I am not a “true” atheist because I have such interests, he’d be wrong.
Then he says, “Atheism is the conviction that there is no God or gods (he’s wrong); no ultimate source of meaning (strike two), truth (wrong again) or morality (well, not the Torah) in the universe.” The whole universe?
He goes on, “How could a true atheist struggle with faith when atheism denies the very basis of faith?” He could have looked up the definition of atheism by atheists, but he did not. Maybe Reb Jeff should look up the meaning of faith and religion and God when he checks out the correct definition of atheism.
I suspect most atheists agree that people have faith whether God exists or not. Lord knows we hear it as the very reason many believe—not God’s manifestation. If God is obvious faith is unnecessary.
Some atheists are convinced to some degree that no god exists, but not all (at least as God is described by the Abrahamic religions).
As for terms like ultimate truth or morality in the whole fucking universe, I admit that I don’t know any universal ultimate truths except that death is real, and it seems to be wherever life exists. But my knowledge only applies to life on Earth. The old joke about three Jews having five opinions exists for a reason. Maybe I should ask three Rabbis and see how it goes.
I think separating religion and belief in god or gods is important for a better understanding of each. Rejecting religion makes room for varied conclusions about gods. However, as the rabbi implies, since I do not accept any belief in a real god (due to lack of evidence), thousands of religions become simple social/political organizations from my point of view.
The problem with seeing god and religion separately is that religion creates gods. Religions tell people who and what a god is and how to interact, relate, and what to believe about the god or gods. It’s contrived by humans. All religions thus become silly (some dangerous) psycho-social clubs.
Consequently, religious folks like good old Reb Jeff use terms (promises) like “experiencing God” to hold people to unnecessary social clubs, which they may enjoy, even as atheists.
Maybe that is why the rabbi thinks he must tolerate atheist-Jews showing up at the synagogue to be with other Jews. He claims they do.
“There’s simply no polite way to tell people they’ve dedicated their lives to an illusion.” ~ Daniel Dennett
“Non ridere, non lugere, neque detestari, sed intelligere,” (not to laugh, not to lament, not to curse, but to understand) ~ Baruch Spinoza
People talk about whether a god exists and what they do and do not believe. They may debate the efficacy of prayer or correctness of a religion or religious practice. It happens. Peaceful argument can be done. Probably no one will change their mind, but maybe some understanding will come from hearing another’s point of view. Ideally, if that outcome ended every such discussion, what a fine thing it would be (sans argumentum ad hominem).
Even experts in debating issues of a god or religion have their moments of anger (i.e., Chopra in this blog last week). It does not take me long to let someone know that I do not believe what they do. I wish they wouldn’t ask me why not. That is often when the trouble starts.
However, I am willing to ask why people believe as they do. Since most believers accepted what they were told as the truth, I understand that reasoning. But that is seldom the response we get. It is not like they saw a waterfall or read the gospel of John and suddenly believed. Belief in a god is taught. All religion is learned behavior.
I decided on my own that I do not believe any gods exist. To be fair, at this point, I’m not sure that I could believe. No one ever told me there is no god or convinced me or won the god/no god argument. There is no proof and never will be.
What are the chances that a believer had a real moment of enlightenment like Saint Paul? Has anyone decided some god must exist because they had an epiphany? Often enough, scripture is their reasoning, but I bet they were already believers, if they ever read scripture at all.
Ultimately, I am willing to discuss
I don’t have a burning desire to have that talk, but I will if asked. However, I am more in Dennett’s court than Spinoza’s. The odds are that I will manage to piss them off, rock their boat, or hurt their feelings (not my goal); and subsequently I will be informed of my still pending eternity of spiritual pain and suffering because Oden is pissed that I seriously doubt his ultimate reality.
But I kind of get it
Truthfully though, it’s more likely that an agnostic or atheist will try to help me understand, but none of them has ever threatened me with eternal damnation. In fact, the worst outcome in arguments with agnostics or atheists is usually that we disagree on just how the hair splits.
I think I understand why people believe in a god. It’s usually several reasons. In no case is it ever because they asked for and were given proof. I even understand why most people cherry pick religious beliefs and scripture. It is not only what they are taught and have read. Belief in a god and the practice of a religion reflects how they want life to be, how their life-long sacrifice of no unmarried sex and meatless pizza on Fridays is juxtaposed with when you’re dead, you are just that. Nevermore. Nothing more.
This youtube from “The Atheist Experience” is almost 30 minutes long. But watching any part of it makes the point and is a good example how hard it is to keep everyone calm, aware, and listening during the discussion. You may want to try a few minutes. Both sides have to work.
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.
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.