Finding Religion

INT21

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..I'll trust you've never encountered these things, but i can only assume we mix in different social media circles! ..

You are correct in the first assumption and probably correct with the second one.

By the way, you do seem to be taking this rather seriously.

Relax, in the end, it doesn't really matter one iota.

But that is just the atheist in me speaking.

INT21 ;)
 
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I'm saying there are people who treat Richard Dawkins as a prophet, the God Delusion as a gospel, seek comfort in the communion of their fellows, stand ready to damn heretics and feel a righteous obligation to spread the word to non non-believers, so to speak. There are even atheist dating sites, presumably for those who wouldn't feel free to marry outside the non-faith.
This is a bit like treating 'not having a religion' as a religion.
 

gattino

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By the way, you do seem to be taking this rather seriously.

Relax, in the end, it doesn't really matter one iota.
Do I? I thought i was just answering your long response with a short and cheerful one. I take very little seriously.
 

gattino

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I often sound snarky and sarky in the written word.. especially when i write lists. Just imagine me wearing a clown nose and with a party blower up my bum. It makes it easier.
 

AlchoPwn

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It is never a good reason to start wars and kill people. Maybe that is why atheists don't tend to do this. INT21.
Well, as an atheist myself, I think that Communism (being an avowedly atheist political philosophy) hasn't done the atheist cause much good, given all the totalitarianism and mass murder it engaged in. But then, it is not hard to see how people with nothing to replace the religion in their lives turned to deifying the state, their "fearless leader", and their ideology. Communism failed to see that just because you don't have an all-powerful dictatorial sky daddy in heaven who watches you poop, doesn't mean you have to invent a real one on Earth. That being said, Communism's many crimes pale into insignificance next to the magnitude of religions' bodycount (thanks Islam, only you could make Communism look reasonable by comparison).
 

INT21

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It's all a matter of degree.

Even Stalin found he couldn't wipe out organised religion.

I'm not too sure on how the early Leninists viewed the orthodox church. I'd have to look it up.

Maybe the difference is that for Communism religion got in the way. Where as for Islam and Christian extremists, non belief was a problem to their power base.

Maybe the result is the same. An all powerfull leader and group who promise a form of Utopia but can't deliver in the end. Religion has the advantage that one can't tell if it delivered until one is dead.

INT21.
 

Mikefule

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I'm saying there are people who treat Richard Dawkins as a prophet, the God Delusion as a gospel, seek comfort in the communion of their fellows, stand ready to damn heretics and feel a righteous obligation to spread the word to non non-believers, so to speak. There are even atheist dating sites, presumably for those who wouldn't feel free to marry outside the non-faith.

I'll trust you've never encountered these things, but i can only assume we mix in different social media circles!
Fair point. I am an atheist myself, and reached this conclusion after much reading, much thinking, and careful analysis of the points I considered to be relevant. I believe there are no gods in the same way that I believe there are no shape shifting reptiles in the royal family, but I believe that it is possible but unproven that there is an unknown species of megafauna in Loch Ness. This is not the place to discuss the arguments for my personal conclusions in detail; I only make the point that it is a considered conclusion, although others may reach a different conclusion.

However, I agree that there is definitely a type of atheist who buys into the whole package of fashionably iconoclastic atheism, who professes to hate religion, who says, "I'm not an afairyist, I just don't believe in fairies," at the drop of a hat, and revels in referring to God as "your imaginary friend." Atheism becomes almost a crusade (ha ha) for them, and they broadcast their atheism to all and sundry, with rather more expressions of anger than are strictly necessary. When such a person has direct access to mainstream media, they can be an absolute bore, parading their atheism as a badge of intellectual elitism.

Superstition, religious belief, anthropomorphism of natural forces, attribution of purpose to random events, and a sort of nebulous bargaining with the cosmos in times of stress are all natural parts of being human. I consider myself a rational person, but I still swear at the motorbike when it won't start, and I say things like, "Just my luck!" when something goes wrong.

Personal private belief seldom does any harm and often brings comfort. Organised religions do good and bad, just like any other organised belief system or orthodoxy. There are good people and bad in every mainstream political party, and every mainstream religious denomination. However, there is a qualitative difference between believing on the basis of faith, and not believing in the absence of evidence. They are not both "beliefs" in the same sense of the word "belief".
 

markrkingston1

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I'm saying there are people who treat Richard Dawkins as a prophet, the God Delusion as a gospel, seek comfort in the communion of their fellows, stand ready to damn heretics and feel a righteous obligation to spread the word to non non-believers, so to speak. There are even atheist dating sites, presumably for those who wouldn't feel free to marry outside the non-faith.
I was going to reply to you very much as INT21 did in #218 but I do see your point here. There are indeed some people who treat atheism almost as if it was a religion in itself, complete with spiritual leaders.

One group who seem to me to be like this are some branches of humanism, who go as far as to have humanist 'services' and songs.

There's nothing wrong with getting together with your friends and singing songs, of course, but in such cases it does seem that, for them, not-religion and not-faith has morphed into a kind of pseudo-religion.

But, as for atheist dating sites, I don't think that proves anything. ;) Dating people who share your mindset is hardly indicative of religion. If you reject religion then it might make life difficult if you had a relationship with someone religious!
 

markrkingston1

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I note in myself (and others on here) that we can accept claims of every kind of wild and impossible thing in the Fortean world, but rebel against taking as real the religious flavored ones.
Do we? I certainly don't think so. What exactly do you mean by "accept"?

For me, I approach "claims of every kind of wild and [seemingly] impossible thing" on their individual merits, and religious-flavoured ones are no more or less worthy of interest. I "accept" such claims only to the extent that they are in effect witness testimony and that this is a basis for further investigation if feasible.
 

gattino

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Do we? I certainly don't think so.
I said "can" not "do", "I" not "you", "others" not "all"

I was referring to my own personal boggle freshold, which i don't perceive to be unique to me, but wasn't speaking for the world at large.

As for what I was getting at, it wasn't a lack of interest in such "religious flavoured" experiences, nor a refusal to accept the experience was had...but rather, as I say with my own prejudices, they are the element were I'm most resistant to accepting that the "face value"/literal explanation - that it really was God/Jesus - is an option.

Along with fabrications, hallucination, misapprehension and all the other possibilities, maybe that ghost you saw was the spirit of a dead person, maybe that cryptid was an unknown to science creature, but I struggle to include that "maybe" in encounters with the deity or jesus or whatever. Not because they're less possible, but because of my own prejudices against wanting to accept such things. My open mind closes a little. It's not a rational distinction on my part, but I'm sure its not unusual.
 
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AnonyJoolz

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Having a nice cup of tea and a sit-down.
...But still, I looked around the beautiful building and tried to let God in. I held my daughter's hand in mine, she rested her head on my shoulder and I glanced out the window. The snow was still falling. I looked back at the choir and we listened. I felt calmer. I felt I had time to breathe. I even allowed the knots in my stomach to ease a little. I realised that for the first time in weeks, I didn't have anywhere else to be. I couldn't multi-task. I couldn't just fix something quickly. I was forced into sitting down and being quiet. It was quite medititive. But I felt no connection to God....
My own experience is that simply being as opposed to doing is a connection to 'God'. I've never had a revelation, or mystical vision as some others report. I have had emotional responses to Christian readings and even felt that prayers said for me by others have benefited me. I cannot say what people should or would experience, but all that I know is that it feels like 'home'. I never had a blinding moment, but at some point when someone asked me if I had a religion I answered "I'm a Christian".
 

Ringo

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My own experience is that simply being as opposed to doing is a connection to 'God'. I've never had a revelation, or mystical vision as some others report. I have had emotional responses to Christian readings and even felt that prayers said for me by others have benefited me. I cannot say what people should or would experience, but all that I know is that it feels like 'home'. I never had a blinding moment, but at some point when someone asked me if I had a religion I answered "I'm a Christian".
I underatand your comment but alas it falls short for my own needs. I was in a quiet, calm building. It was warm and cosy inside and the snowy landscape outside was impossibly beautiful. Captive for over an hour, listening to slow, choir music was very indusive to relaxing and almost nodding off. But relaxing isn't the same as feeling God's presence. It's just a medititive state. It's almost hypnotic. So while I enjoyed being there, I would also have enjoyed being in a library listening to the local school choir, or a cosy theatre listening to some opera. Everything I needed to just unwind a little was there but a divine oneness was absent.
 
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markrkingston1

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I said "can" not "do", "I" not "you", "others" not "all"

I was referring to my own personal boggle freshold, which i don't perceive to be unique to me, but wasn't speaking for the world at large.
Ah, understood. Fair enough.

( In the sentence in #217 to which I replied you did in fact use the word "we" (as well as other words of course) and I feel that I should explain that I am very wary of the use of the word "we" in such contexts. The word "we" is often used disingenuously (albeit subconsciously or unwittingly so in many cases) to falsely extrapolate from the few to the many, i.e. to invent a false social proof, and I overreacted and incorrectly thought that that might be what you were doing. Sorry! It would seem I applied my own concerns/prejudices to what you wrote. )​

Yes, I can see now how you meant that some people think as you do in this respect.

As for what I was getting at, it wasn't a lack of interest in such "religious flavoured" experiences, nor a refusal to accept the experience was had...but rather, as I say with my own prejudices, they are the element were I'm most resistant to accepting that the "face value"/literal explanation - that it really was God/Jesus - is an option.

Along with fabrications, hallucination, misapprehension and all the other possibilities, maybe that ghost you saw was the spirit of a dead person, maybe that cryptid was an unknown to science creature, but I struggle to include that "maybe" in encounters with the deity or jesus or whatever. Not because they're less possible, but because of my own prejudices against wanting to accept such things. My open mind closes a little. It's not a rational distinction on my part, but I'm sure its not unusual.
What is unusual is that you are self-aware enough to realise this about yourself and to be able to so clearly articulate it. What is perhaps even more unusual is that, having realised this about yourself, you have not already 'fixed' it one way or another. May I ask, are you happy with this self-recognised prejudice or would you prefer to consciously eliminate it? (Not that it's my business to ask; I'm just being nosy ;) ).
 

gattino

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May I ask, are you happy with this self-recognised prejudice or would you prefer to consciously eliminate it?
Well i don't see it as problematic! Person X's uncanny experience, if they seem to me sincere and trustworthy, remains an uncanny experience like any other..i can accept that it happened and is a genuine mystery. I'm just not keen to embrace one particular aspect/interpretation. I only call it "prejudice" because it reflects an instinctive bias away from that interpretation, rather than in the sense that i see myself as being totally unreasonable.

I should say its not a blanket anti-religious sentiment in Fortean experiences. I've had a religious themed experience of my own involving a saint and a seeming miracle. It's more the inclusion of the biblical or the divine within other categories of paranormal experience such as OOBEs and Precognitve dreams that make me think "Doesn't sound right - I can't buy that" (or don't want to!)
 

markrkingston1

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Well i don't see it as problematic! Person X's uncanny experience, if they seem to me sincere and trustworthy, remains an uncanny experience like any other..i can accept that it happened and is a genuine mystery. I'm just not keen to embrace one particular aspect/interpretation. I only call it "prejudice" because it reflects an instinctive bias away from that interpretation, rather than in the sense that i see myself as being totally unreasonable.

I should say its not a blanket anti-religious sentiment in Fortean experiences. I've had a religious themed experience of my own involving a saint and a seeming miracle. It's more the inclusion of the biblical or the divine within other categories of paranormal experience such as OOBEs and Precognitve dreams that make me think "Doesn't sound right - I can't buy that" (or don't want to!)
Interesting, thanks.

In fact, having considered it, I think I know what you mean. Religious content (claimed or seeming) does seem to somehow.... I was going to say "put me off" but it is somehow more subtle than that. Perhaps religious content seems like a likely over-complication to me. But I must be cautious to not exclude any possibilities subject to evidence one way or another.
 

gattino

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Well i think its two things happening at once. One is im wary of anyone putting their experiences in a confident setting of some belief system. Outside of religion people who explain things in terms of planes, vibrations, energies, and "my guides" do not inspire confidence in me that they're worth listening to or know what they're talking about! So putting the same experience in terms of God's will and heavenly injunctions just seems like another variation on the same thing.

The less high minded reason i react as I do is that it scares me a little to solidify and personalise the concept of God quite so literally so that he really is a biblical giant watching me and overly concerned with the building of churches, or some other earthly mission i'm failing to fulfill...
 

markrkingston1

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One is im wary of anyone putting their experiences in a confident setting of some belief system. Outside of religion people who explain things in terms of planes, vibrations, energies, and "my guides" do not inspire confidence in me that they're worth listening to or know what they're talking about! So putting the same experience in terms of God's will and heavenly injunctions just seems like another variation on the same thing.
I agree with this.

The less high minded reason i react as I do is that it scares me a little to solidify and personalise the concept of God quite so literally so that he really is a biblical giant watching me and overly concerned with the building of churches, or some other earthly mission i'm failing to fulfill...
I don't think it should scare you, as such. It's just very, very, very unlikely.
 

INT21

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Gattino,

Ask yourself why should something that is supposed to have created the Heavens and all therein, be even remotely concerned about you ?

Has it nothing better to do ? Maybe go create a few new Universes.

INT21.
 

Ulalume

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Inspired by a comment I left on another thread, I thought I would see if we can get a discussion going about Finding religion, or at least wanting to. I have felt for years that I am missing something spirtual - a belief in something greater than myself. I am athiest and don't believe in God, Heaven, Hell or any thing in the Bible. I think of it as a collection of morality tales and guidelines at best. My mother is Catholic and my Father Protestant. When forms were filled in, I was Church of England. As a child I attended church only at Christmas (as part of a school service) and now as an adult it's the same - Christmas carol services with the odd wedding/funeral. I am not anti-religion. I just have never felt the need for it.

But...something is niggling away at me. I feel more and more that I have taken no comfort from my sceptical viewpoint (that the church is a business and a money making scam). I just feel cold and detatched - distant even from my fellow man. I scoffed at people claiming that Jesus has spoken to them, looked askew at anybody claiming that their prophet will return, even felt sorry for people tied to a medieval mindset and was safe and secure in the knowledge that they were wrong and that I and science are correct.

And while I still think that science is correct, I can't help but feel that a part of my understanding is missing. Is this it? I want fo find some spiritual fulfilment, feel part of something greater than myself. Something which permeates the entire universe. I don't want to just choose something half-heartedly...I want to believe.
Hi Ringo - FWIW I'll try to explain how it is for me.

Ive never been converted to any religion, despite all the attempts that have been made.
While some of my relatives were witchy, deities or worship of such never came into it. Still, I always had a feeling of "something," some force or power being out there, beyond sight.

My parents were nominally Lutheran, but rarely went to church. I did go to BIble school there, but was underwhelmed. When I was sent to Catholic school and attended Mass, the ineffable "something" felt closer.
But later, when I attented both Southern Baptist and Fundamentalist Christian schools (and of course had to attend the churches as well) the ineffible something might as well have curled up and died in those places.

At that time I did a lot of reading up on various religions of the world, from the Abrahamic faiths to esoteric Hindu sects. It was all very interesting, but nothing I could truly believe in.

Eventually I decided there was no way I could be Christian, as I simply couldn't believe in salvation.
Buddhism has much practical wisdom in it, but here it functions more as a philosophy, as its spiritual elements tend to be difficult for Westerners to grasp. And organizations of pagans and heathens seemed all wrong to me, too.

There was a sort of question I had and none of them could really answer.

Do you remember the book The Wind in The Willows and the chapter The Piper At the Gates Of Dawn? The animals meet the god Pan, but he makes them forget, lest this perfect moment destroy the rest of their mundane lives. They are only left with the feeling that something incredible had happened that they could no longer recall. Well, I've had that sort of feeling my entire life, and that's what I'd been searching for, spiritually. Some way to understand it. But I've had to conclude that organized religion is not the vehicle for me to get there.

As it is, I'm still pursuing that mystery, but mainly through private rituals and practices. Trying to connect with the ineffable something. Its much more effective now that I've stopped trying to fit into someone else's established system.

The epitome of spiritual but not religious, I suppose.

Note - I suspect that some people naturally have a sense of this whatever-it-is and some people don't. Neither way is necessarily right or wrong.
 

Comfortably Numb

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An interesting thread.........with many solid points.
But I have to quote RAWilson (and I'm not trying to be a smart ass..) who once said: "If you think you know what's going on, you are probably full of shit."
Quite extraordinary and dare I say, a Xmas Day Fortean moment!? :bish:

Being said day, there were reminiscences of absent friends, including my late Dad.

I mentioned a memory of something, quite profound, he said to myself when I was around 12-13 years old.

We were walking along a road and I distinctly recall lamenting how I was reading a lot of books from the library and struggling to make sense of Astronomy, Religion, et all.

Dad remarks, "The more you know, son, the more you realise you don't know".

Still to this day, I have found no evidence otherwise... :dunno:
 
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