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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

left to my own devices

we all know them, these moments ~ when frustration drips sticky down the fingertips ... we shake and snap hands in maddened instinct to be rid of it, free of it.


if the world spun 800 times faster than it does right now, we'd be flung, shot out into the darks of space like so many forgotten satellites.
- - -


I call myself a devout agnostic. I cannot prove that something like a god exists, nor can i disprove someone's belief that a god exists. They believe. Their belief exists.


Hitchens says he is an anti-theist ... i assume, meaning that he considers Religion to be a man-made institution worthy of contempt and its constraints to be made revolution against. I cannot go so far as to hold all Religion in contempt. I do recognize there have been many wretched conditions of humans bettered by acts of charity, love, sacrifice. But one might argue there have been as equal a number, or more, done and inspired by secular means ... shall we say since the Enlightenment? And can we not say the all too evident many, many horrors done on behalf of Religion, righteously, cause one to recoil from it, become both intellectually and emotionally hostile towards it ... in a word, to hold it in contempt.

The middle-east may be the crucible of Religion. A boiling morass of judaism, islam, and christianity ... slurping and burbling upon each other like liquified feud. The never-ending war and bitterness from that area may have the geo-political and socio-economic as its birthright, but it is Religion that fuels the hate, whispers evil guidance to the dissatisfied, gives strength to the strings that control the marionettes.


I do not understand the Religious. I do not have the capacity to see how faith in something makes it so. And equally, i do not fall in line with the atheist - because i do not claim to know the unknowable. Ask me to prove that ghosts walk the earth and i will say it's not possible, but i cannot say i've disproven it from being so, either. True, this is perhaps taking shield behind semantics ~ however i can say, with all clarity and earnestness ... that i do not want to believe in a god. I do not want to believe in Religion.

I want to believe in the power of the human to create their own moral and ethical codes to live by. I want to believe that we, you and I, have the capacity to define Justice. For only in Justice, will we find any shreds of peace or harmony with each other.


bah ... enough of that horseshit.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great little converse snip from a novel I can't recall:

"I'm an atheist"

"So if you die, and it turns out that the bible is right, you're going to stand in front of St. Peter and say "This is all bulls**t?"

"Pretty much"

AdamB said...

It certainly does seem like people can get away with a lot more BS in the name of religion.

Maybe one fewer of those people now that Falwell is dead, though.

Matt said...

had a similar conversation with some buds over beers on a recent night...for millenia, and even now, fledgling society relies on an invisible "father" to lay down the laws on how to be with one another...perhaps the maturation of society, if we are to survive, is to realize we make those choices for ourselves...one suggestion of a starting point for a rational morality was, the alleviation of suffering in others...

I've long shared your viewpoint of being an agnostic....who am I to deny what others believe to be true?...after reading Sam Harris, recently, I've been swayed towards embracing the term atheist...he argues that religious moderates and agnostics , through arguing for tolerance, give cover to the religious extremists who foster so much violence in this world...

thanks for the opportunity to spout

broxster said...

the growth of understanding about our place in the universe has necessarily diminished the opportunity for religion to suggest what is going on.

witness the recent comments about katrina being a punishment from god. not so long ago in parts of the western world such comments would have had much more credence. fortunately, i believe that as a society, we are more "enlightened" and such comments elicit scorn for the bigotry they betray.

there is an interesting debate in the uk right now around dawkin's book "the god delusion" where people appear to be objecting more to the tone of the book than the actual contents. (the anglican church in england especially is viewed as genteel.) it must be remembered that it was written for the us market where the religious debate is far more strident and where the book fits in.

PAB(a.k.a.CID) said...

you folks read too much highbrow literature.

i'm sticking with Archie comic books

-

and bashing religious zealots.

Chris said...

I believe in basic, observable epiphenomena.

Thus, a strong cup of coffee's bathroom-inducing effect is something I believe in.

Conversely, nervous travel has a non-bathroom-inducing effect, and though I certainly don't like it, I nevertheless still believe in it.

Consequently, I believe that if I hover between the poles of strong java and budget airlines that leave at 7 in the morning, I will nearly always have an interesting crap.

Keeps me alive and interested.

captain sassy pants said...

spoken like a true scientist.....wheres the female version of you

ljt said...

I have said all along that evil has been done in the name of religion…there is no doubt. The greed and lust for power of the human mind controls when not held in check. It can be said for religion, business, government and any other facet of society. Bad apples exist. People take things too far. To the point where they forget what the fight was all about.

We can play the numbers game until we are blue in the face, but can you prove that more good has been done by the secular word? I don’t think know, how can you quantify it? You cannot, but we can see how much evil has been done by those who denounce the presence of God. Hitler, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge to name just two……What difference does it make who has done more good, been more compassionate, the fact that these acts exist is enough.

I want to believe in the power of the human spirit to create their own moral and ethical codes…..but we have all seen that it just does not last. We write our own codes, but repeatedly break them, change the rules to serve our own needs. When tempted with power we will bend, tweak and squirm…..the story is as old as time. This discipline is for the few who can withstand the temptations that the world provides, and that, is a very, VERY, small party. Power causes weakness. Can we sustain?

The only thing that really matters is love for one another, empath, compasion. What is the definition of love? I have one…..giving someone exactly what they need when they least deserve it. There has only been one example of this in history……is it debated? Yes? Ask me what it was and I will tell you, but it think you know. Only with that sort of love can we truly find Justice. Are we capable by ourselves? I am not so sure….we have not been up to this point…even though we are Enlightend

I do not WANT, did not WANT, to believe in God, but I have no choice in the matter. So many things have happened in my life that to disregard would cause me to lose faith in my own mind and spiral out of control into the depths of uncertainty. Supernatural, unexplainable, life changing events that shape thought and act……to deny them would be to deny nature. I came to realize a long time ago that my words or the words of any man, woman, or child cannot make a person believe. It is God himself who brings about the revelation. He smacks you in the face, he drives a knife deep, cutting quick to open up the wound of certainty in the strength of the human alone. It is not faith that makes it so, but events……specific and deliberate that make faith a possibility. Faith is possible because you have seen it, smelled it, tasted it, felt it in your grubby little hands….humbled….completely understood? No. You get to a point where you say F this It can’t be so, but then you remember…..how can it not be. The door has been opened and light creeps into the crack and you begin the journey …..

Love is what we need …..not the bashing of zealots. For then we become what we detest.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

ljt,
i hear ya - it's a comforting thought ... that a god created, guides, intervenes, rewards and punishes.

and i do not deny that your, or other's, faith exists. it is real.

however, where we part is in the thought that we, as humans, are incapable of creating law and justice amongst, and for, ourselves - guiding the educated and uneducated into adhering to law and justice ... not through dictate, but through rational persuasion.

i believe in the capacity of humans to develop ... evolve into this. We are still an extremeley, extremely young species. And it is only in these past couple centuries that we have even begun to make the lightest of scratches into enacting concepts of equity, universal rights, sanctity of the individual, etc.

Religion, to me, is a drying husk ... a coccoon that we are in the process of shedding so that we may develop into another stage of existence.

better? worse?


To me, it is better. I do not say we should gather together all the secular and religious acts of good and bad and count eggs to see who has broken most. No, I say it is better to generate secular impulses for charity, sacrifice, respect for each other because when taken out of religion ... they are the more universal of human construct - applicable to all, if persuaded.

we can persuade in the secular with reasoned argument.

in religion, we must ask or await or force faith upon those who disagree or have a ... competing faith.

i choose reason, persuasion, hope for the future.

Anonymous said...

We will shed religion only when we stop dying.

Or when the aliens finally arrive.

Auffderbach said...

I think too many folks don't understand the difference between religion and a personal relationship with Almighty God.
Religion says "Do do this and don't do that" when a one on one with the Father says "Love the Lord
with whatcha got and love your neighbor as yourself." Do that and
life is good, politics aside.

If we as a society are so
"enlightened" then why are things
so much more f*%^#d up than ever?
We had the "enlightenment" of the 60's, of which I was a part, and next thing God is removed from our schools... Been to a public school lately? While my kids do have some
problems identifying thngs like metal detectors, they certainly know the difference between right and wrong but it's not because they
were left alone to figure it out.
They all have been home-schooled
primarily because God is no longer
allowed in public schools, plus we like having them around. Unlike most of society, we really enjoy our youts and actually am sorry we
didn't have more.

Back to God: For every individual
who can honestly say that their lack of belief has enriched their lives, I can produce 10 fold, more,
who can honestly say that their
belief has TOTALLY enriched theirs.

I of all people understand how hard it is to believe in
something you can't physically
see or touch. I argued that for years. Then again,
you can't see gravity either but go
jump off a bridge and it'll stare
you right in the face at terminal
velocity!

Please forgive my rant...like I've
said in the past, my life has been
changed like you would never believe because of my faith in the
Creator and not circumstances and
I just can't sit back and say nothing. The Holy Spirit's done gotta hold o' me!

I'll stop for now, a co-worker just
gave me a unicycle so I need to check up on my insurance policy and
see if it's covered under "Workmans
Comp". Pray I don't break anything!

Scott

Anonymous said...

As one raised in a devout atheist household, kneeling before the altar of science, my conversion occurred as I came of age and explored the marvels of cellular biology, considered the implications of the laws of thermodynamics...and importantly failed to explain away the undeniable purposefulness, order and fragility of existence on this tiny orb. In a word..I could no longer accept that life and love were mere accidents borne and maintained by way of a chorus of incalculable mathematical
probabilities.
I was raised, and was a generally moral person, yet I observed that my own failings, and those of mankind in general seemed to always be sourced in selfishness of one kind or another...and that its opposite...self-lessness must hold the key to setting the world right.
Corruptible man so capably spoils everything he touches..whether it is our natural environment or any man-made institution you can name. Each "faith" seeks to solve a particular problem of the human condition, and each one has a different "spokesman" each saying very different and contradictory things about who they are, who God is and so forth (contrary to the popular but misinformed notion that they all say more or less the same thing). I considered Buddism and other Eastern thought...but at the end of the day was drawn....
no...called... to the foot of the cross. I make no excuses for the distastful deeds of the institutions of religion. Each as time passes and the influence of politics and pursuit of wealth has crept in, has been corrupted and rendered meaningless. Yet...truth (which cannot be relative) justice, charity, love, self-lessness, sacrifice, and all of the other un-Darwinian values we cherish and value need to be sought, and most humans are inexplicably "wired" to feel this way...yet inexplicably act otherwise. Is faith the "opiate" of the un-enlightened, uneducated masses? Examine that dismissal. What does drug addiction produce in a person...in a family...in a society? Kindness? Charity? Good works? Justice? None of these.
Seek truth and justice, seek selflessnes. At the end of the day, I think you'll find it only in faith.

Velo Bella said...

My dad found religion after one of those life after death experiences.

He went to church every week, volunteered, helped out disabled vets, all sorts of goody two shoes things.

Why? Because he wanted to make the world a better place for all of god's creatures?

No, because he did not see a light at the end of his tunnel. And he was scared.

He decided to behave nice, because he was worried about going to hell. As if, praying in a church would make up for all of those people he killed.

Religion offered him a path to cleanse that conscience.

Without religion, you would be forced to just sit and face your guilt head on. To deal with its daily knockings on your noggin. To deal with the reality of your deeds with no way to erase them. Only to learn from and move on.

thats a lonely battle.

Funny thing was, even after finding religion, he was still a racist.

Velo Bella said...

Therein lies the problem.

The believers believing that only believers can be selfless.

That is the part of religion that I recoil from.

Anonymous said...

Perfect example of why religion sucks. This was done in the name of religion as an "example".

http://www.stophonourkillings.com/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1622

Velo Bella said...

"I believe that global warming is a myth. And so, therefore, I have no conscience problems at all and I'm going to buy a Suburban next time."

-Falwell

Anonymous said...

Religion is the faith.

The Church (Mosque, Temple,...) and the "preachers" are the business and business men. (BIG BUSINESS!)

One enriches the soul, the other tries to control and take from it.

Spirituality is a personal thing that can be shared and enjoyed by many without stepping over the line of other people's personal boundries or beliefs.

The business side polarizes people, takes their money, starts wars, and creates divisions.

Read whatever book that warms your heart and helps you create a better world. The literature won't corrupt you, the person that claims they are all knowing will.

Transcend the labels associated w/ religion and you'll truly be free regardlees of faith.

Farid

BTW - I'm a Deist.

de'ism

rational belief in god

a belief in God based on reason rather than revelation, and involving the view that God has set the universe in motion but does not interfere with how it runs.

broxster said...

auffderbach - don't confuse finding solace and enrichment from being religious with what you believe being "true".

devout beliefs from differing religions are clearly contradictory, yet the adherents believe the "truth" despite the clear paradox.

unicycle? cool!

broxster said...

Faris said:
"... involving the view that God has set the universe in motion but does not interfere with how it runs."

Do you pray? If so, why?

Anonymous said...

No, I don't pray because the God I believe in is more of an extension of my spirit and I feel that in order for something to happen, positive or negative, it is up to me and and my surroundings and how I deal with it. My "God", if you want to call it that, is hands off. It is up to me (us) to figure out our fate.

But if your "God" is a more "complex God" and you believe in that, good. I am not to judge your faith and what makes you happy.

The important thing to me is that you are happy and you share that w/ everyone to make this world a better place.

Farid

ljt said...

OV….To say that human nature will change …grow….mature…..blossom.. is a stretch. We are aghast at the atrocities of Hitler and say …Wow… people were crazy then, but it continues today. The world is becoming more divided not more unified under a banner of hope....evil persist and as long as it does there will be greed, injustice, and pain. I feel that some humans can evolve into what you speak of OV, but not all. The power struggle has just begun.

To say that religion will be shed is interesting. Radical Islam is more unified in its goals, and Christianity continues to grow. You would think that people would be tired of it all yet faith continues to build on a global scale. Growing....not shrinking. I just do not see it withering on the vine.

I applaud you for your positive perspective…your hope…the world need more of it, but human nature remains unchanged. The lessons learned up on Golgatha could show us how to live with each other if we only take the time to look past today’s over riding definition of religion and focus on the relationships.

Brent said...

an age old debate that we will never solve.
Im just gonna rattle on here too.

The basic human belief that our body contains a spirit or Soul or inability to think otherwise is what shapes us to "believe" in higher power.
Evidence is in most "native" people for lack of a better description, as they believe in spirits, a spirit, a being or power that has something to do with their life. Often times it is the Sun or the Earth. Both highly energized beings that clearly effect our life.

Modernized humans are injected by science, the option to think beyond the basic god person/spirit and question or theorize. It is in science that we find the chemical causes for how things are. They don't always explain why those chemical causes exist at least yet. But we are free to theorize (another ideology of sorts).
A complex being on a complex planet, in the middle what appears to be a barren universe is here. It only brings the question, is "here" really "here"?

I believe,people are what ruined "belief". Our own personal thoughts and natural drive to be the survivor has pushed others ideas and concepts of god or godliness into not just difference of opinions, but pure evil. It only strengthens their own ideology to denounce another idea.

From general modern religions we see that many are rooted in the same basic beliefs and are not so different and possibly why the radical ideas and hatred are still not really so far apart.. the Koran, Judaism's Holy books, Buddhism, Pagan books and the Bible share similar stories told by different people. Stories not deemed "intact or inline" with the rest of the holy books were pushed out. With the Christian bible for example, there were a few dozen other books of the bible that seemed to connect to other beliefs concepts... too much for those who wrote the modern version to allow any similarities to break down their version of ideology.

The root of all beliefs including native / ancient beliefs are based on Love. As you pointed out far from what we see today. Angered religious freaks who want nothing but their belief to dominate as the only belief.. Otherwise, what have they done with their lives if they are wrong, which is not an option.

I personally don't know if you can be considered a true atheist if you believe in love. If you don't then love is just another emotional chemical reaction that science will figure out and duplicate and market for sale. Maybe that isn't such a bad thing if they do.

I believe we all have "god" in us. It is what we do with that god in us that is our religion.

Anonymous said...

I was with this hottie last night and let me tell ya...I saw god!

Brent said...

bragger.

Anonymous said...

"The believers believing that only believers can be selfless."

Kind VB..that would be silly, and wrong. If you surveyed this crowd you would find little of that wrong-headed and arrogant thinking. I think you would find instead people with a magnified sense of their own frailties, ashamed of their own hypocrisy, and who feel like they need "help" in trying to live a more selfless life, and find it in faith.

But...it's a sad fact that there are differences between the faith and secular communities with regards to charity. According to Stanford's Hoover Institution and other studies, the differences between the groups charitable funding of health and welfare causes, and the number volunteer hours are profound in favor of the former.

I offer this not to indict secularists, rather to point out that here's another example of "faith that works" for them, and for society as a whole. Discourage it? Not me.

Ordinary people giving their time and money, quietly, privately without the public (and distasteful) fanfare and political pandering of the Falwellian crowd that gets all the attention in the press and newswires.

Auffderbach said...

Broxster...
I've never considered myself to be
"religious" and hope I'm not viewed
that way.
What I know to be true can be found
in John 3:16.
OV - You rascal, I'll bet you're
sittin' back havin' a time with this!

ljt said...

Anonymous...Very well said.....

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

sitting forward and enjoying it, is what i'm doing. i loves me some dialogue.

broxster said...

auffderbach,

john 3:16 is a beautiful text, and has great resonance with me given my upbringing.

but is it "truth"?

there are many people of faith who will flatly disagree (eg: they might be jewish and john 3:16 is not part of their revered texts).

both cannot be right.

Auffderbach said...

Broxster,

We could probably go back and forth
all day on this one.

I will say though, if you study
scripture, and it appears you have,
God cannot lie. Since God said it,
and He has revealed it to us, then
I believe it to be truth.

If I'm wrong, well maybe in the next life I can come back as a
faster cyclist!

broxster said...

"If I'm wrong, well maybe in the next life I can come back as a
faster cyclist!"

this i agree with!

banks said...

I've been grabbing 5 minutes here and 20 minutes there researching Aristotle and Saint Thomas Aquinas since I first read this post in the morning. I could spend the rest of my life seeking answers to the questions that come to mind. I'd enjoy it, but I'm afraid I'll die before finding the answers.

I can say this of what I've read and how I think it relates to the post: I belive there's a difference between a human act and an act of man.

Part of what my faith does for me is it helps me choose to act humanely.

If I had to rely on secular means to define for me how to act humanely, I'd be incredibly skeptical of the source.

What about ignorance? What about passions? Humans are susceptible to both, so a human definition of what is humane could be false.

OK, there's the nut, I'm working on the assumption that the higher power I believe in is true. I feel it to be true, but I can't prove it.

What I think I can prove is a that belief in a higher power has been the central tenet in an unwritten social contract that has allowed mankind to work together and succeed at finding cures to terrible diseases, send satellites into space, etc.

I think changing the definition of human acts at this stage of the game without undeniable proof that a higher power doesn't exsist has the potential to wreck all that's come before us.

In fact I get a chuckle out the thought of a secular body trying to define what are to be considered human acts. The image of a bunch of lawyers in a room arguing over morality is just precious.

Declaring that religion is dead and relying on human reasoning to define a new morality seems to me to run an inherent risk that the definitions coming out would favor one special group over another.

The golden rule of "do unto others as you'd have them do unto you" seems to be a universal theme among religions.

We've gone this far, however imperfectly, relying on the golden rule. I don't really want to change that.

Edwardo said...

Auffderbach,

I cannot see how you can "cherry-pick" parts of the Bible and then tout things as true. There are many things in the Bible that I know are not true, awful and immoral. Stoning, death, disease, famine, offering your child up to God as a sacrifice.

Besides, if God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omnipowerful....why would he have to offer his son (who is GOD) to atone for our sins? Why not just forgive?

Ed

Auffderbach said...

Edwardo,
I don't want to use any more of OV's space so click on over to my
blog. I've left a comment there.