Author Topic: What atheists can learn from religion  (Read 2229 times)

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Offline Tero

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #58 on: February 28, 2012, 09:03:40 PM »
Those who have an overactive taking care gene can go on missions to help the poor. But they would do it anyway God or no god.

Offline kaziglu bey

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #59 on: February 28, 2012, 09:29:07 PM »

I won't deny that you can get good things without religion.  But that doesn't justify axing religion in its own right.  You need to show not that there are bad things about religion (because there are bad things, whether potential or actual, about every human endeavor), but that religion is irredeemably bad and there is no way to fix it.  You have to show that religion is actually a turd, as you put it, not just say it is.

I would like to contribute something here. I suppose that one could potentially "fix" religion. The problem is, that the amount of work required, and the amount of stuff that would have to be carved away, would leave you with something that could no longer be considered religion. In my opinion, religion can not, in fact be fixed, because in doing so, you would strip it of all of the things necessary to make it a religion. You admit that there are bad things about religion, but the bad things are usually what make it a religion. Take away God, Jesus, and everything they did, all of the murder, rape, incest, intolerance, and pointless servitude, and what you have left is common sense, not religion. Don't hurt other people, because you don't want other people to hurt you. Don't steal. Don't kill. Gee, duh. No God needed for any of that. The sense of community and social interaction that can occur as a result of religious folk gathering together for worship isn't something exclusive to religion. It isn't even exclusive to our species. Many other primates have very well developed social networks, communities, and leadership structure, and they don't need false hope to do it. I guess my point is, religion may not all be bad, but nothing good contained within it could not be attained without it. Occam's razor suggests we get rid of religion.
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Offline freakygin

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #60 on: February 28, 2012, 10:19:18 PM »
Hello, i'm still new in this forum
So i'll just post something related to the title anyway.

What i learned from Religion is :

Discrimination!
Believe in that J.C. guy = Heaven
Every other people who have better things to do = Hell
Nice...

Stupidity!
There is a Man in the Heaven above.
He made 10 law, which u should always follow.
If u don't he will throw u, then let the devil burn and torture u for all eternity.
But he loves you anyway..
If you argue correctly, you're never wrong..

Online jaimehlers

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #61 on: February 28, 2012, 10:34:30 PM »
I would like to contribute something here. I suppose that one could potentially "fix" religion. The problem is, that the amount of work required, and the amount of stuff that would have to be carved away, would leave you with something that could no longer be considered religion. In my opinion, religion can not, in fact be fixed, because in doing so, you would strip it of all of the things necessary to make it a religion. You admit that there are bad things about religion, but the bad things are usually what make it a religion. Take away God, Jesus, and everything they did, all of the murder, rape, incest, intolerance, and pointless servitude, and what you have left is common sense, not religion. Don't hurt other people, because you don't want other people to hurt you. Don't steal. Don't kill. Gee, duh. No God needed for any of that. The sense of community and social interaction that can occur as a result of religious folk gathering together for worship isn't something exclusive to religion. It isn't even exclusive to our species. Many other primates have very well developed social networks, communities, and leadership structure, and they don't need false hope to do it. I guess my point is, religion may not all be bad, but nothing good contained within it could not be attained without it. Occam's razor suggests we get rid of religion.
You're not thinking this through.  Religion isn't some cohesive whole, where all of the past parts have to apply as well as the present parts.  Naturally it doesn't make any sense and comes across as completely abhorrent.  The problem is that religions were never set up like that.  They took ancient beliefs and built on them, not because those ancient beliefs were actually necessary, but because it never occurred to them to consider whether those beliefs were still necessary.  The Ptolemaic conception of the skies, the Aristotelian conception of elements, and various other wrong ideas worked in exactly the same way without any inherent religious beliefs at all, because there was no systematic way to examine past conclusions and determine if they were still accurate.

You also said the bad things are what make it a religion, but I disagree.  Those bad things would have happened had no human ever conceived of supernatural beings in the first place.  I'm quite sure tribal leaders didn't need gods to commit genocide on their fellow tribes, I'm quite sure societies didn't need the blessings of priests to hold slaves, and so on and so forth.  If you can get various good things without religion, it follows that you can also get various bad things without religion as well.  Religion isn't necessary to do either good or bad things, and you can be sure ordinary human selfishness and arrogance would have been plenty of reason to do all those bad things.

Religion is a human invention.  It follows that it will change as humans change, and if humans stop "needing" supernatural deities, then religions will change to no longer provide them.  We've already seen that happen in the past, where religions have modified themselves.  It's a slow process because they have inertia on its side, but it's also a process that never actually stops.

And you're way misquoting Occam's razor.  What it says is that the simplest explanation (the one that has the least amount of assumptions) is most likely correct.  What that means here is that an explanation that doesn't posit supernatural beings (which is an assumption) is more likely to be correct than one which does.  But a philosophical statement in no way suggests a course of action.  It just says which is the most plausible, not which is actually correct.

Offline Death over Life

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #62 on: February 28, 2012, 10:49:19 PM »
By the end of the night, all I see is criticism for not seeing anything good religion does. I'm thinking, instead of arguing about why it's not good to state atheists learn nothing good from religion, why not post something that religion does good that atheists can learn from?

Fishjie has posted earlier that religion gives people hope. Religion is not required for that hope, yet religion requires itself to lie to give people that hope. The fact that it is a lie makes it not good. I have yet to see a good post that shows something good that atheists can learn from religion. We have already named many bad things that we can learn from religion, let us see something good if it is supposed to be as good as it's preached about?

Forgive me as I had fishjie and jaimehlers' posts confused. Overall though, the messages seem the same.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 10:52:08 PM by Death over Life »

Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #63 on: February 28, 2012, 11:32:47 PM »
When I was really little, I probably got hurt in various small ways. And I would cry and I assume my mother would pick me up and say "Does Bobby have a boo-boo? Here, let me kiss it" And I'm sure she did, and I am also sure it made me feel better.

I got a huge f**king sliver in my hand today carrying firewood into the house. I said ouch, put down the wood, pulled out the sliver and then took the wood on in. I long ago outgrew the need to have my boo-boo kissed. Which is fortunate since my mom has been dead for 27 years.

But the religious still want their boo-boo's kissed. They want everything that goes wrong to be explainable within a certain set of constraints. And under the control of that same force. They want to say that god did it, that god protected someone, or that god took someone to heaven. Maybe god saved one person out of many, or it is gods will, and of course god operates in mysterious ways. Each of those is a kissed boo-boo that helps people unwilling or unable to deal with reality cope in other ways.

I've been around long enough to experience lots of death, heartaches, loss, disasters, accidents and cancelled TV shows. If I ignore the entertainment programming issue, none of the rest of the bad things that have happened are very mysterious. Cancer killed my dad. Yep, cancer does that. On a regular basis, to lots of people. Doctors tried, my dad tried, cancer won. I was in a big frickin' earthquake. I came close to loosing a house to a wildfire a few years ago. My friends Alan and Daniel and Arnie all died in one car wreck when I was 20. And Dean was paralyzed by that wreck for life. A five year old neighbor named Mike was hit and killed by a car when I was seven. Danny, another neighbor, a little older than me, was killed by a falling tree while hunting with his dad. I think he was 15 at the time. While I was still in high school, I talked to my friend Phil at 9:30 one Saturday morning. By noon he was dead. Drowned when his canoe tipped over. My cousin Phyllis died when she slammed on the brakes to avoid a guy who ran a stop sign and the typewriter sitting in the back of her car flew forward and hit her in the head. That was before computers and headrests. 1960 or so.

None of the above was mysterious. Sh*t happens. I don't know how well I handled the stuff when I was still a kid, but now days when tragedy strikes, I take it in, accept it, and do what I must. My friend Peg has cancer now, and once a week I drive with her the 100 or so miles to the clinic and back so she can get her treatment. My friend George lost his 95 year old mother last month. I helped him clean out her apartment. Not while in shock and wondering how god could do such a thing, but in sympathy while I did what I thought was the right thing.

I have no god to get angry at, no god to excuse anything, no god to ask for help, no need to ask a god for help. I was hiking a few years ago by myself and started feeling sharp pains in my chest. I thought I was dying of a heart attack and all I thought about was that I hoped it wouldn't be a little kid who found my body. Then the pain went away and I later found out I had a bad case of heartburn, something I'd never experienced before or since. OF course I don't eat that brand of pepper jerky anymore either. But I know for a fact I didn't feel any need to call on a god or ask for forgiveness or try for a deathbed conversion. All I wanted was to not be found by a kid running ahead of his mom and dad on the trail.

I can't fault the religious in the year 647 or 1422 or 1751. There was nowhere enough information to convincingly argue against a god. But in the 21st century it is pretty apparent that no such creature exists. None is required to get through the day, no matter how bad it is. None is needed to explain anything other than churches. And even that it explains only slightly. At one time people learned how the world worked from religion. What they learned was wrong, but there was no source of accurate information, so I certainly can't blame anyone for believing in their god a few hundred years ago. But now we don't need it, and the only thing religion has to offer is that it is an example of human folly. And we should learn from that what a folly feels like. And what it feels like is a boo-boo. If you're 40 and still need some loving being to kiss  your ouchy, you're doing it wrong.
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Offline velkyn

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #64 on: February 29, 2012, 09:20:08 AM »
And I never said that we should pussyfoot around the issue.  All i'm saying is that we should make it clear that we are not the enemy of most religious people[1].  We are trying to get them to escape the entrappings of their religion, and view the cosmos with eyes unfettered by irrational belief in supernatural monsters or dictators, not destroy their way of life.  Some believe that atheism will erode morals and disrupt society, they would claim we are striving to demolish "Christian ethics" and that we have nothing with which to replace them.   Atheist must assure the religious that this is not the case, and that most of us espouse positive philosophies such as humanism which advocates more concern and consideration for mankind than any of the monotheistic religions. 

I'm not saying we leave theist unmolested, I'm only suggesting that we diplomatically try to make allies instead of assuming the believer, from a priori, already to be our enemy.
 1. The exception of course being those in positions of religious authority who knowingly deceive or abuse those under their "spiritual guidance".

I know you didn’t say we should pussyfoot around the issue.  But you seem to ignore the  fact that most, if not all, theists will always think I’m their enemy by dint of my mere existence.  And, by and large I am their enemy since I do not want their nonsense around and will do my best to counter it. Their way of life is often part and parcel of their religion, of course as they define it and yes Christians vary wildly on what they think their god tells them to do.  I find that religion is based on deception and often abuse because their claims are lies.  I am indeed trying to get them to escape their nonsense, and that will always make them afraid.  Some will struggle through that and become agnostics or atheists but many will not because they do not want to.

Some, and I think many, Christians do indeed believe that atheism will erode morals and disrupt society and they pass that lie along. This is a lie based on their religion and their way of life.  Atheists have always assured theists that there is no need for religion and there are plenty of morals without religion, but they do not, and I think cannot accept that because their religion *requires* them to not believe it.  The idea that they are wrong and their god isn’t what they think e.g. the font of all “good” cannot be accepted by them.   

You and various others have said that we need to talk to theists “diplomatically”.  I’ve asked how this can be accomplished when the conditions I’ve described above are in place.  I’d like to see examples of how you think this could be done.


Oh and PP, great post. 
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Offline Tero

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #65 on: February 29, 2012, 09:31:12 AM »
If people boast of their good deeds I just say: good for you, give yourself some credit.

Offline screwtape

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #66 on: February 29, 2012, 10:33:39 AM »

I think what he means by "persistent and unattended ills is the assumption that previously religious individuals who become atheist stop participating in their religion, effectively alienating themselves from their community, thereby making them sad. 

I took it to be "the human condition".  All of life's little and large tragedies that make it tough to cope.  Your wife gets cancer.  Your kid is a drug addict.  Your mother ran off with the circus.  Whatever.  We crave something to make sense of it all.  Religion does that.  But the catch is, it only does that if you believe preposterous things - gods, avatars, spirits, goblins, prophecies, etc. 

I also took it that the author was suggesting there was something valuable in religion for us, if we would just stop griping about it and take a closer look.  My point was I doubt it, but I could be missing something.
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Offline velkyn

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #67 on: February 29, 2012, 11:08:12 AM »
a story on how the word "atheists" is just too much for some:

http://www.justinvacula.com/2012/02/really-really-really-inoffensive.html 
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Offline inveni0

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #68 on: February 29, 2012, 03:15:00 PM »
Some of his generalizations are irritating.

Quote
Unfortunately, recent public discussions on religion have focused obsessively on precisely this issue, with a hardcore group of fanatical believers pitting themselves against an equally small band of fanatical atheists.
--de Botton

Bolds mine. Ah, the "fanatical atheists" card! An actual name or two of these fanatics would have been useful.

There is a definite difference between "atheist" and "anti-theist"...and I think that's whom he's referring to.  Though, after seeing the damage religion does, it's very difficult not to go "anti-theist".
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Offline fishjie

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #69 on: February 29, 2012, 06:30:38 PM »
By the end of the night, all I see is criticism for not seeing anything good religion does. I'm thinking, instead of arguing about why it's not good to state atheists learn nothing good from religion, why not post something that religion does good that atheists can learn from?

Fishjie has posted earlier that religion gives people hope. Religion is not required for that hope, yet religion requires itself to lie to give people that hope. The fact that it is a lie makes it not good. I have yet to see a good post that shows something good that atheists can learn from religion. We have already named many bad things that we can learn from religion, let us see something good if it is supposed to be as good as it's preached about?

Forgive me as I had fishjie and jaimehlers' posts confused. Overall though, the messages seem the same.

Yes, it is a lie.   But the truth hurts.    Personally, I'm Chinese, so I am pretty blunt with my statements and don't sugarcoat things (I'm the kind of guy who if asked "does this dress make me look fat" will answer "its not the dress" without blinking lol).      However, lots of people would rather believe a lie to comfort themselves than face the harsh reality.    An ugly person doesn't want to hear that they are ugly.    That is something beyond their control and it sucks to be them.      So they join a religion where they are told "God made you the beautiful person you are!"     It makes them happier, so good for them.

Not everyone is strong enough to face the ugliness that is in the world.   And there is a lot of ugliness.    Senseless freak accidents kill off loved ones all the time.    Natural disasters rack up high body counts.    Evil people prosper while the good suffer.    Kids starve to death in third world countries.    Brutal senseless murders headline the news.   School shootings happen way too frequently.    So on and so forth.     The lie is what gives people hope.      Its kind of like the movie the Matrix.    The character (I forget his name but he kills half the crew on the ship) who betrays them chooses to live the lie in the Matrix instead, because reality is too awful to bear.   He'd rather live in a fantasy land.     I don't fault him for it.

"Shit happens" is my philosophy, but I had no choice but to adopt that philosophy, once I realized I had no more lord and savior.   Its not an easy road to take, and not everyone is able to stomach that.    Needless to say, it was a painful deconversion for me.    I was lucky in that I was only a believer for fifteen years or so, so it wasn't as painful as I know it must have been for other ex christians.

Offline The Gawd

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #70 on: February 29, 2012, 06:53:17 PM »
but fishjie, the lie also does damage and therefore cant be seen as good even if it helps one cope.

for example excepting that lie may have helped my ancestors cope with their enslavement. But that coping with enslavement also helps prolong the enslavement.

Offline Samothec

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #71 on: February 29, 2012, 08:48:53 PM »
It is very obvious that none of you watched the video.

It took until posts 28 and 30 for anyone to start listing things that we are no longer doing or not doing enough of that he advises adopting in the video.  It is 19 minutes long – not just the few paragraphs on the page.

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Offline fishjie

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #72 on: February 29, 2012, 08:54:33 PM »
but fishjie, the lie also does damage and therefore cant be seen as good even if it helps one cope.

for example excepting that lie may have helped my ancestors cope with their enslavement. But that coping with enslavement also helps prolong the enslavement.

that's a good point.   but as i said before, religion (the lie) is not static.   it changes with time.     from what i see, liberal christianity is the dominant form of christianity today.     more and more future generation will not take the bible literally, and think of it more as metaphors and lessons for humanity.    this translates to stem cell research, gay marriage, and less stupidity all around.    so the goal should be to improve education, teach religion in schools (dan dennett is an advocate of this and i concur), and improve the standard of living for everyone (in a peaceful non violent manner like MLK or Gandhi).

i don't think its ever possible to get rid of the lie completely.   people WANT to believe that things happen for a reason.     this is especially true for people who have suffered senseless tragedy in their lives.    to know that a loved one just happened to die because they used a netti pot and a brain eating amoeba got into their nose and then killed them  just because "shit happens" is not fucking comforting at all.

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #73 on: March 01, 2012, 03:27:24 PM »
^^^What you say has a lot of truth in it, but I think it is also true that false beliefs in a better afterlife or whatever slows down the move toward rational thinking. And that is what makes things better; seeing things as they really are is the beginning of what science is all about.

Knowing that there are germs in netti pots, and how to avoid them, will save lives. Praying about the amoebas might make people feel better, but it won't save a single life.

What rational thinking and science have shown us is that it is possible to understand why things happen, and to improve negative things. Natural disasters happen, and we know why. We can construct buildings to withstand earthquakes better, we can predict when volcanoes will erupt and when hurricanes will land, and we can warn people of approaching tornadoes. Because of rational thinking and science.

Even in the case of the "ugly" person, yeah, it sucks when you are ostracized for how you look. But it does not have to stop with "god made you ugly but you are beautiful in his eyes an he loves you". There is plastic surgery for the individual, and there is psychological counseling for groups of "ugly" people, and there is educating the larger society to accept "ugly" people.

Think about how the treatment of various racial groups, gay people and people with disabilities has changed in the past 50 years. All based on rational thinking and the application of science. Would Stephen Hawking ("ugly" person extraordinaire) have become an award-winning physicist if his family had been fundies who decided that he was cursed by god and should endure his condition as a lesson to others? Probably not.
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline RNS

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #74 on: March 04, 2012, 08:48:41 AM »
If religion is the opiate of the masses, surely we must give it credit for preventing more physical addictions.


^this was comment was made in jest, however a thought just occurred to me:

We don't really know why people have this need to believe in religion. Similarly, we don't really know why people have this need to take drugs (I am fairly confident that it's a deeper problem than 'it just feels good'). Perhaps there is something that the society we have created for ourselves is lacking and so people for thousands of years have been filling this void with drugs or belief.
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Offline The Gawd

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #75 on: March 04, 2012, 10:19:24 AM »
If religion is the opiate of the masses, surely we must give it credit for preventing more physical addictions.


^this was comment was made in jest, however a thought just occurred to me:

We don't really know why people have this need to believe in religion. Similarly, we don't really know why people have this need to take drugs (I am fairly confident that it's a deeper problem than 'it just feels good'). Perhaps there is something that the society we have created for ourselves is lacking and so people for thousands of years have been filling this void with drugs or belief.

in other words, coping.
And I'm sure "it just feels good" is a very common reason for lots of drug and alcohol use. Obviously some use them to cope, but that doesnt explain the abundance of night clubs where drugs and alcohol are common as opposed to doing them at home or local hole in the wall bars... not that there isnt some overlap. If we go throughout history people have found ways to become high or intoxicated, I take that as people just not wanting to be in their current state.

Personally, and I didnt read this anywhere so I cant back it up, I believe the evolution of the human brain has made it so that we are more aware than most animals and this awareness leads us of to ways to escape it. I suppose if we found other more aware animals using poppy plants, coca leaves, marijuana, plants etc it would support thatt notion. I guess I'll look it up today.

Offline Jake

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #76 on: March 04, 2012, 05:44:06 PM »
So, life is scary if we can't feel like we know authoritative things about everything.     Is it better to make things up to believe even when doing so finds us in contention with what few things we can know and can understand?

Religions have been the psychological security blanket of humanity probably since the first primate got scared out of its mind by a clap of thunder, or by an earthquake, or lightning, or a flood, or a forest fire, and had no idea what was going on.   In the absence of knowledge or means to acquire knowledge beyond far-too-rudimentary methods, things got made up by way of explanation.

Lots of explanations for lots of things got invented, and were quite probably, in many of their originations, nothing sinister or malevolently intended at all.    Quite frankly, they were almost certainly the product of scared primates that needed to feel like they knew something right and true and that could be relied upon to give them a sense of purpose and place in the world.

It would, in a sense, be a bit of a cruelty to take away a young toddler's security blanket and replace it with nothing while, at the same time, expecting that young toddler to somehow utilize their senses in ways they're not cognitively prepared to do yet, understand concepts they're not cognitively developed sufficiently to do yet and so on.

Now, we're a lot more awake, aware and developed as a species, but we've still got all these security blankets and artifacts of our infancies that many of us are clinging to, and have justified clinging to with increasingly fierce convolutions of rationalization, entitlement and even artificially constructed contexts of need.         

As a species, religion impairs our development anymore.   Where once these security blankets and artifacts of our infancies provided comfort and basis for sympathy and mutual relation between individuals, they have long, long since outlived their usefulness, and in many cases to such degree as to have become psychologically toxic on an individual level and socially ablative, divisive and fetid on the macro scale.

We have become as unto the young adult festooned with garbage we have ascribed cherished meaning to that stink and are offensive to others, which we rationalize emotionally while making frequent habit of lashing out at eachother with our security blankets that have become so filthy and so ragged that sucking on the corners of them is more liable to infect us with a disease than even offer the beloved benefit it might once have.

Among us, there are many, and more with time's passing, that divest themselves of such artifacts of our race's infancy; that try, and sometimes fail repeatedly for fumbling in unknown territory, to replace the baubles that once served as our only real tools of understanding and relating with better tools, tools designed by our current degrees of cognitive and social aptitude, and to find purpose and meaning in ourselves through their proxy.

It isn't an easy thing to do, to grow up.    Nostalgia on an individual level will often find us wistfully yearning for the seeming simplicities of our childhoods, remembering the days when, compared to now, everything seemed to certain, so simple, so right.    It becomes very easy to convince ourselves that we somehow need those artifacts of infancy...because we want them.    We want to feel certain of something; of anything; with the completeness we once did as tiny little babies that KNEW that when we had our blanket and Mr. Teddy was with us, everything was ok.

Growing up is difficult, and life does nothing but get more complicated, especially in the paradigm of how we've set life to tending to be here on the world we live in.    The more complicated life becomes and the more 'on our own' we are or even feel, the more appealing the artifacts of infancy may well become; the more necessary they might even seem.

Yet still I posit that clinging to them does not do a thing, and cannot do a thing, but inhibit our development as individuals and as a species, and there is no evidence of this greater than the hatred, the intolerance and the outright mania surrounding many of the largest organized religions' activities not just throughout history, but straight through to today.   

Countless millions of our fellow human beings, sometimes even ourselves on this very forum, have suffered because of someone else's religious beliefs.      Every single one of us, in some way or another, no matter what we believe or why, is wrong, filthy, unclean and hateful in the eyes of entire other religions based on nothing but cherishing a different set of childhood artifacts, or for seeking to be rid of them altogether.

On the individual level, feeling informed is no replacement for being informed.     No storybook we find emotionally compelling can, or even should, be placed in the same context of reasoned evidence for or against much of anything as the rigorously examined, tested and reviewed findings of our most organized and dedicated thinkers-and-examiners-of-the-world-around us (I like to call them scientists), yet this is not only done, but it is the prevailing way of doing things in much of the world.

Growing up is hard, and it doesn't all happen at once even if it's earnestly, consciously sought.           

Yet, it only happens accidentally if it even happens at all when it is rejected in every way one can conceive of.     

It is time we, as a species, take responsibility for ourselves on a grand scale.    The means are available; we have created them.    The needs are numerous and become ever the more urgent and numerous with every passing day.   

We don't actually know anything about gods or supreme beings, about whether or not anyone or anything actually pulled the trigger and created reality or not.   We can't know such things; the best we can do is contrast the claims many make about such things with what we DO know, and those claims that are artifacts from our infancy as a species just don't add up, and add up even less as our knowledge of reality around us improves.

Could there be a god or gods or beings we have in no way even begun to imagine the scope or scale or intentions of?    Absolutely; we know so little that we'd be intellectually dishonest (and intellectual honesty is quite probably the only saving grace on such issued as that we're ultimately capable to that will matter in times to come) to make absolute statements and claims about much.    For all we know, the universe could be the science experiment of a very young ultra-being, or the accidental byproduct of a celestial dragon's sneezing, or a unicorn fart.

Being as that we don't know anything about ultra-beings or celestial dragons or unicorns (and, in fact, made all such things up and characterized them per our imaginings), we could literally make ANYTHING up and call it good if we simply wanted to feel informed about anything.   

But that's not good enough for the practical needs of our species, is it?     Can we just make up something about faeries to not only feel informed upon but to base resolving actions on...cancer research?     How about food shortages in Africa?     ...Traffic management in a city?    ......Can I repair my computer by making up a bunch of stuff about pixel zombies and how they've infested my hard drive, and now I must burn them out because -everyone- knows that zombies hate fire?

Simply, no, we cannot do this anymore.  We have constructed a great many needs into our ways of life for real knowledge based on facts and evidence, and of these genuine pursuits of such facts and evidence, we've discovered a great many things we can, in fact, know about at least to such degree as to make some terribly useful (and just plain terrible) things and tools and resources for ourselves.

Pretty wasteful of our resources though, aren't we?     Ah, the blunders of eager youth, eh?   We got ahold of industry and polluted our own environments and ransacked the natural world in many places, and the consequences of that are still making some go "O'crap, whoops, we done a stupid" while trying to correct it where others are still going "Nuh uh, I still wanna plaaaaaaaay and have lots of thiiiiiings, you're wrecking my fun!"

Clearly, we're still growing up.     Whether anyone's 'ready' or not, or wants to be or not, however...we have made our world and our societies, industries and ways of living in particular in such a manner as that, to sustain them let alone progress in them, we're going to have to be pretty grown up about ourselves in personal and macrosocial ways all alike.

No ifs, ands or buts about it.      Even if our species is still 'only' a young adult barely out of childhood, we've eagerly gotten ourselves into a lot of messes we're going to have to grow up fast and genuinely to handle.

More than likely, we won't do that, and it will be catastrophe after catastrophe after catastrophe that forces us to learn, or die, where we were not able or willing to do so beforehand.   

And if there is any sort of god or god-force out there, I for one don't see any sign or evidence of their existence.     I surely don't see any sign or evidence of any super-being's imminent arrival to save us from ourselves on or about anything.     

Clutch the talismans and artifacts and security blankets of infancy all we like; pray as loudly and as feverishly as you wish, any of you that are given to such doings; and it will not matter.

It will do nothing in the face of very real viruses and bacteria evolving at absurd speeds.    It will feed nobody, and it will not devise upon more intelligent methods of resource useage and acquisition.       It will not repair a road or perform surgery on a gunshot victim, and it will not stop anybody from pointing a gun or dropping a bomb on another.    It will not clean any polluted water, or generate a single milliwatt of electricity to power our rampant uses thereof.

And those are the sorts of issues we have set before ourselves.    Growing up is hard.

We have no choice but to do it or die, however.    Is it particularly frightening to imagine that there is no safety net to fall back on?    That there is no god that will save us if we mess up so bad that we wipe ourselves nearly extinct?    That there is no knowledge, no matter what anyone pretends, of anything to do with afterlives, and there might not be any such thing at all?

If those prospects frighten you, good.   They damn well should.    They're very probably the truth of the matter, and even if they're not, we don't and cannot know the truth of the matter anyway.

We are, as a race, alone to the best and fullest of our knowledge.    It will not help us to solve the problems we've both created and encountered to believe otherwise, and there is no future in waiting for invisible super-beings to save us while we continue to behave like rampant, wasteful children that have authorized ourselves to not take this life seriously in the right ways based on some pugnacious belief that we'll either get to go to magic happy places when we die or we'll just get to try again.

Those are very nice beliefs to feel hopeful about, but they are useless.   

Just as useless as waving a pacifier at a broken computer would be with the expectation that doing so would fix it.    Or waving one's security blanket at an earthquake to make it stop.

   




"I don't respect your religious beliefs and I don't care if this offends you." - Pat Condel and myself along with him.   I do respect intelligence, rationality and logical consideration, however.    Humor's always good too.