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BS: Another View of Religion

Joe Offer 17 Mar 11 - 05:35 PM
Wesley S 17 Mar 11 - 05:40 PM
Joe Offer 17 Mar 11 - 05:49 PM
Dorothy Parshall 17 Mar 11 - 06:05 PM
Little Hawk 17 Mar 11 - 06:11 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Mar 11 - 06:15 PM
DMcG 17 Mar 11 - 06:26 PM
Deckman 17 Mar 11 - 06:28 PM
Art Thieme 17 Mar 11 - 06:29 PM
Little Hawk 17 Mar 11 - 06:31 PM
Little Hawk 17 Mar 11 - 06:35 PM
GUEST,Eliza 17 Mar 11 - 06:36 PM
Little Hawk 17 Mar 11 - 07:16 PM
olddude 17 Mar 11 - 07:30 PM
GUEST,Eliza 17 Mar 11 - 07:33 PM
GUEST,999 17 Mar 11 - 07:36 PM
GUEST,mauvepink 17 Mar 11 - 07:41 PM
GUEST,Paul Burke 17 Mar 11 - 08:08 PM
mauvepink 17 Mar 11 - 08:23 PM
Wesley S 17 Mar 11 - 08:35 PM
Amos 17 Mar 11 - 09:36 PM
Steve Shaw 17 Mar 11 - 09:53 PM
Ebbie 18 Mar 11 - 02:12 AM
Joe Offer 18 Mar 11 - 04:18 AM
GUEST,Patsy 18 Mar 11 - 04:29 AM
Will Fly 18 Mar 11 - 04:58 AM
VirginiaTam 18 Mar 11 - 05:08 AM
GUEST,lively 18 Mar 11 - 05:10 AM
Joe Offer 18 Mar 11 - 05:22 AM
GUEST,lively 18 Mar 11 - 05:29 AM
Joe Offer 18 Mar 11 - 05:48 AM
GUEST,lively 18 Mar 11 - 05:58 AM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Mar 11 - 06:10 AM
GUEST,lively 18 Mar 11 - 06:22 AM
GUEST,John MacKenzie 18 Mar 11 - 06:24 AM
Georgiansilver 18 Mar 11 - 06:28 AM
GUEST,lively 18 Mar 11 - 06:31 AM
GUEST,lively 18 Mar 11 - 06:33 AM
Will Fly 18 Mar 11 - 06:43 AM
bbc 18 Mar 11 - 06:52 AM
Georgiansilver 18 Mar 11 - 06:59 AM
Keith A of Hertford 18 Mar 11 - 07:07 AM
Will Fly 18 Mar 11 - 07:20 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 18 Mar 11 - 07:22 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 18 Mar 11 - 07:25 AM
GUEST,lively 18 Mar 11 - 07:26 AM
GUEST,lively 18 Mar 11 - 07:30 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 18 Mar 11 - 08:27 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 18 Mar 11 - 08:35 AM
Steve Shaw 18 Mar 11 - 08:51 AM

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Subject: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 05:35 PM

It seems like every Mudcat thread that mentions religion, turns into a battle between people whose definition of religion is completely foreign to the religion I practice - but yet the dominant parties seem to assume that since I'm a religious person, I MUST fit their definitions.

We do have a few conservative Christian Mudcatters. Some are gentle and sincere, and I sympathize with them although I cannot say I share their beliefs. Some are closer to the stereotype and are very aggressive and argumentative, and I can't say I have much sympathy for them.

We have a few Catholics at Mudcat, but I don't think we have very many active Catholics. We have at least one Catholic who seems very traditional, but isn't very happy with the Catholic Church. Most of the Catholics at Mudcat seem to be moderate to progressive. I suppose I'm the most active Catholic here. I think of myself as moderate to progressive, but I suppose that conservative Catholics think of me as a horribly liberal heretic - which I'm not.

I also suppose that some non-Catholic Mudcatters think of me as horribly conservative and rigidly doctrinaire and in lockstep with the pope - which I'm not. These Mudcatters seem to assume I support the molestation of children and protection of child molesters and killing of abortion doctors and denigrating homosexuals. They seem to think I'm responsible for the Spanish Inquisition (or at least that I support it wholeheartedly), and that I'm responsible for the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa because of course I don't believe in condoms.

And I want to shout

Wait! I'm not like that at all.



Very often, my thinking is very close to the thinking of the progressive nonbelievers who think I'm horrible for being Catholic - except that I add a religious perspective to my thinking. And so when I get accused of supporting child abuse and the killing of abortion doctors and the Inquisition, I want to scream that it's just not fair to pigeonhole me that way, because I'm not like that at all.

I'm an open-minded person, willing to consider just about any perspective. I'm open to all religious creeds and to the lack of a creed, and I've learned from all of those perspectives. I'm a pacifist, although I am well aware that I cannot come up with an ironclad defense of my pacifism. I oppose the death penalty, but I can understand the outrage that drives many people to demand capital punishment for some crimes. I'm an associate member of the Sisters of Mercy (yes, they allow men); but I acknowledge that some of our sisters ran schools in Ireland where children were abused, and that there have been nuns in the US who were harsh and abusive in Catholic schools. I spent eight years in a Catholic seminary and I knew some seminarians who ended up molesting children as priests - but I do not condone, excuse, or deny the molestation of children by priests.

I'm Catholic, and I don't see abortion as a good thing. I think that the loss of a fetus is a cause for mourning, even if that loss was necessary. I hope women choose other alternatives, but I see that choice as their right. I do NOT see opposition to abortion as a central aspect of my relationship with God, and I wouldn't dream of campaigning against abortion or of supporting laws that prohibit abortion. I know very few priests and nuns who actively campaign against abortion - most are more concerned with healing, rather than prohibition.

Yes, I see a moral aspect to religion. Religious people should speak out against injustice when they see it, but they should keep their noses out of other people's bedrooms.

I see the hand of God in the wonderful, miraculous natural process called evolution. If others don't see God in that, that's OK with me. I see the creation stories of Genesis and the creation stories of other cultures as wonderful allegories - not as scientific fact.

I support organizations such as faithfulamerica.org/, which advocates universal health care, solidarity with union workers in state government, and the resignation of Glenn Beck - among other things. Another organization I support is Sojourners, which has a similar perspective.

I read America Magazine from the Jesuits and the National Catholic Reporter, two periodicals that are very blunt and honest in their regular criticism of the leadership of the Catholic Church.

I don't see doctrine or obedience as primary aspects of my faith. My faith is part of who I am, not what somebody else tells me to be. I find doctrine to be a useful framework for a faith relationship with God; but relationship, not doctrine, is the essence of my faith.

Yes, I do experience what I see as the presence of God in my life, mostly in the love I share with people and the beauty I see in the universe. But don't ask me to defend or explain what I experience, because I can't. And don't denigrate my experience by using dismissive, insulting terms like "imaginary friend." I pray more than once a day - usually, my prayer consists of simply stopping to enjoy the presence of God. I suppose you could define God as "goodness" - but God is more than that to me. God is the essence of the goodness that surrounds me - but more than that.

I've been a teacher of religion since 1966. I teach when people ask me to teach, but I've never been one to proselytize. If people see me as a person of integrity and they see that my faith makes sense, then they can ask and I'll do my best to give them answers, but I've never believed in recruiting converts.

I am who I am, not who you think me to be. Judge me by what you see and hear, not by your expectations of me.

It pains me to see the general flow of religious discussions at Mudcat, because so many Mudcatters can only see religion as doctrinaire, rigid, mind-controlling, and intolerant. Yes, all those things do exist in religion; but they are most often the very evident exception rather than the rule. I've attended services and had extensive discussions with people of many faiths, and I have found rigid intolerance among them only rarely. I have my disagreements with evangelical Christians, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Seventh-Day Adventists, but I've also found a lot of good among these groups. The religious groups I'm more comfortable with are more progressive - Unitarians, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Congregationalists, some Presbyterians, Methodists, the Unity churches, Jews, and Orthodox Christians.

So, when you are tempted to put me in a pigeonhole and define what I think and do before I have a chance to do it myself, consider this:

Wait! I'm not like that at all.



-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Wesley S
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 05:40 PM

Well written Joe. But I'm afraid your words will fall on deaf ears. Let's hope not.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 05:49 PM

I guess I don't understand the dynamic of the religion threads. Mudcatters in general seem so nice, so intelligent, so tolerant. Why is it that in the sphere of religious belief, so many Mudcatters so vehemently exclude people who don't fit their narrow definition of "correct" ideology? Why is it that they claim to promote tolerance, but can't accept people who don't think exactly the same way they do?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Dorothy Parshall
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 06:05 PM

That is wonderful good, Joe!

As for the lack of tolerance among mudcatters. They are human? They love to argue and foment trouble?

I'll bet you have read the book: You Don't Have to be Wrong for Me to Be Right, by an orthodox rabbi - Hirschfield. It speaks to our condition. The author is doing great work in the field of conciliation.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 06:11 PM

I think, Joe, that it is simply because of how the human ego usually works in people. It vigorously defends its own identity at all times. It views beliefs which are different from its own as a potential threat.

And...it also searches hungrily for someone to feel superior to and to hold in contempt or to laugh at....as that, again, seems to bolster its own sense of identity.

That's the negative side of ego, and it's very common. For most people there are few aspects of their own identity which go much deeper than their beliefs about religion, national identity, and politics. You could call it "tribal consciousness", and it works just as it did 20,000 years ago, long before the rise of modern nation-states. The tribal mentality defends the home turf (mental or physical home turf), defends the familiar, fears the unfamiliar or the foreign, and prepares for a probable fight whenever it encounters them.

You get two tribal mentalities colliding with each other...they react negatively to each other...those reactions trigger further counterreactions...and you have the typical argument that erupts on those threads.

This will not, by the way, prevent them from both thinking they are eminently logical, reasonable, and rational....while their opponent is not. That's a standard assumption of every insecure ego that's ever existed. Logic always supports itself...within a closed circuit...but how large is that circuit? That's the question. ;-)

Who is willing to be tolerant of different beliefs? Someone who isn't afraid, that's who.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 06:15 PM

Most people steer clear of those threads, because they do tend to turn nasty. It doesn't take many people to turn a thread nasty, and it can be done from any direction. But I don't actually think it's a matter of
"so many Mudcatters".

The pity is that too often threads that could be an opportunity to explore issues on which people disagree, are turned into undignified and unpleasant squabbles.

I've sometimes wondered whether some people have absorbed an assumption that strong beliefes need to be expressed in an aggressive way in order to be counted as sincere. Which is nonsense.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: DMcG
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 06:26 PM

I suppose I should rise to the challenge and 'come out' as an active, practicing, Roman Catholic. I would consider myself towards the progressive wing as well and, thinking back over the comments from Joe over the years, I can't recall anything of substance I have disagreed with.

I am also a scientist by training and inclination and, while the two are not always easy companions, it is usually because I have had an over-simplified understanding of both.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Deckman
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 06:28 PM

Hmmm ... Joe, I NEVER thought that YOU, of all people, would start a thread on "religion." You've explained some of the delemmas well, and described some of the issues well.

My views on religion ... which are NO ONES BUSINESS BUT MY OWN ... can best said as: "Religion is it's own reward." best wishes ... bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Art Thieme
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 06:29 PM

Joe,
That is you all the way. And I think it's the reason I like you so much even while never having had the pleasure of meeting you in person. --- These attitudes you exhibit are how Carol and I stayed in love through the years---as different as we both are.

Thanks for showing us part of your heart!

Art


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 06:31 PM

Well, there are many aspects of both (your science and your religion) that you find agreeable, useful, and harmonious, correct?

And why should anyone have trouble grasping that? (unless he imagines that you MUST automatically be for every single thing he doesn't like about either science or religion)


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 06:35 PM

Everything people do is its own reward. (from the point of view of he who is doing it)


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 06:36 PM

There does seem to be an inordinate amount of anger and rage expressed by some posters on religious issues. It's difficult to understand why they are so angry, and why they need to state their views in such an insulting and abusive fashion. After all, an opposing view is interesting and stimulating, and can be a starting point for some great ideas and insights. One can only progress in reconciliation and sympathy if one has respect for another's views. My husband is a Muslim and I'm a practising Christian, but we live in perfect harmony and respect. We find eachother's faiths very interesting, and have learnt a lot, without compromising our beliefs.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 07:16 PM

Exellent, Eliza. I find all religions interesting, I respect the fact that they each grew out of a specific culture in a specific time...that they have probably changed quite a bit since that time...and I enjoy finding out more about them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: olddude
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 07:30 PM

Well said my friend


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 07:33 PM

So do I, Little Hawk. Humankind is infinitely fascinating. I have visited mosques, synagogues,cathedrals, temples, etc and watched festivals of all kinds in many countries. I've never felt angry or disturbed by what I've witnessed, just privileged to have the chance to enjoy my fellows' enthusiasm and sincerity. (Actually, I'm also a very nosey lady, and always want to see for myself what goes on in the world!)


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,999
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 07:36 PM

Good post, Joe. Nothing less than folks would expect from you.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,mauvepink
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 07:41 PM

Joe... well posted. Honest and brave I think. Thanks for taking the time to write it but, to be honest, it's not far from the view I had of you already.

Who is willing to be tolerant of different beliefs? Someone who isn't afraid, that's who. . Fair comment LH

The same is true of so so many things. Sexuality, politics, race, religion or non-religion. People secure in who and what they are very rarely have to lash out. This does not mean they cannot be good communicators and have opposing views. Rather they will meter their responses and replies in a respectful and courteous way. Swearing and name calling seldom calms things down in any discussion/debate. I don't recall ever seeing a profanity or insult issuing from Joe's and many other's keyboards on here.

I certainly do not agree with all that you write and believe Joe. I know the same probably exists vice versa, but does it matter? Having opposing views is not an act of war as some seem to think it need become. There are worse things to be called than 'liberal' for sure and having faith, in any religion (or not) should not be a reason to enough to persecute or insult anyone. We all have belief's, I would hope, in some thing or other.

In general I stay on Mudcat for the music threads. I tend to post the most in BS though. I like intelligent and interesting interactions, whether written or verbal, that stay on the fair side of things. It's not always possible to be able to post without someone having a go at you but, in general, most people here do get along. That is what has to count in the end I think

mp


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 08:08 PM

I've largely withdrawn from this sort of stuff, because there's no resolution, and I once had a near-life experience. But I really think Joe is missing the point.

He ain't like that.

The others are.

It seems to me that the problem isn't WHAT you believe, but HOW STRONGLY you believe it. The vast majority of religious people I've known- of many religions- have appeared to share the same core valuation of the importance of loving other human beings, and have been prepared to place that valuation above the strict requirements of thir own nominal affiliations. Some more enthusiastically than others.

The trouble starts when someone isn't prepared to do that. Like insisting that because your sect doesn't like abortions, those of other sects can not have abortions. Or that it's OK to attack men without beards or with beards. Or that children must have daily christian worship in schools (that's UK law). Or that a 600 year old temple should be destroyed because there was a different temple there 601 years ago. Or that one lot of Semites must be removed to make way for another lot of Semites.

Sexuality? History? Science? Personal freedom of belief?

Examine the history of those of your own persuasion on any point of potential conflict. If you do it honestly, you will find that those of your belief come up short.

Whatever you believe.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: mauvepink
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 08:23 PM

I think I understand what you are saying Paul. That just because we have a belief in something we may be tarred by our forebears or even our own actions in towing the party line instead of the free thought we are given?

Some things are certainly pretty set in my mind, I confess, but I am never feared of dancing to a different beat if the music is appealing. I like to keep options open and not slam doors behind me. I suppose a lot of belief comes down to appeal in the end and not just dogma and what has been handed down to us.

Being able to think outside of the box, from inside the box, is hard... but a lot do it. I aspire to. I think Joe does. No sense in reaching a horizon when all you see is another horizon facing you unless you really want to explore I suppose. We may not always like what we find but then there can be as much beauty in moving on as there is in staying put.

I still have the child-like facination that keeps me seeking new things and answers. Some answers I think I know now... but some answers just open more questions. All this said, some things within me I know to be immutible. Some I like, some I don't... I'm human... I think!

mp


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Wesley S
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 08:35 PM

18 posts. I thought we'd make it all the way to 25.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Amos
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 09:36 PM

Joe:

I think there's another element at play that produces the kind of sparks you so justifiably protest. Two, actually.

1. There is always a good amount of ham-handed miseducation going on in children's lives when adults try to tell them things metaphorical in un-nuanced concrete terms "God is watching you so be good...". So they imagine angels, divine oversight, and the consequences of bad karmic choices in vivid but inaccurate images and then wonder why things don't work that way. The side-effect of bad education is for the trusting student to feel betrayed.

2. At the same time, spiritual discussions resonate deeply with an individual's most intimate sense of life, and when someone inadvertently treads on those feelings, explosions of unexpected degrees of vehemence can ensue.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 09:53 PM

Hello (he said, sneaking in hoping not to get noticed...) Well, Joe, I agree with almost everything you said in that original post, though I think you're seriously wrong about God's hand in evolution and I could give you a constructive fight over that any time...

Just to straighten a couple of things out here. I can't speak for any atheist other than myself (when I've been bold enough to try that I've been shouted down, so I won't try again). First, any atheist worth his or her salt will always cheerfully acknowledge the right of anyone to follow and practise any creed they like. Yes, Stalin and Mao were atheists but they were most decidedly not my kind of atheist because they were intolerant of beliefs other than their own. Second, any atheist worth his or her salt will cheerfully acknowledge that many people of religion have been inspired by their faith to do wonderful work. I've often said that we atheists are such a disparate bunch that we never get our act together in this regard anything like as well as believers do. Third, there is, to any atheist worth his or her salt, a very sharp faultline between what individuals of faith get up to and what big organised religion gets up to. It is perfectly possible to see the validity of the one and completely reject it in the other.

What causes the worst arguments, by and large, is when people professing to be atheists, but who have so far failed to articulate the reason for their atheism, clash with believers who are so soaked in certainty about their faith that they think nothing of declaring that certainty to the world at large. I have standards to which I think all so-called atheists should be held, and the cardinal one is that no atheist should ever declare that they are certain there is no God. It simply is not possible to hold to that position. Even Dawkins will tell you that. We can point to the lack of evidence for God and the fact that he breaks all the rules of nature, etc., but none of that is "proof" he does not exist. But I feel that believers must also accept that there can be no certainty, and with that acceptance comes a certain humility that many atheists don't see in believers and which causes so much of the friction. It's very hard to take for an atheist when someone starts a thread "asking for prayers..." on a forum that they well know contains non-believers. We're fairly broad-minded, but that is an insult. There's no reason why you couldn't just ask for kind thoughts, is there. The ethos for believers should be that such thoughts can be kept private and between people who feel the same way, out of respect for non-believers. Doing it the other way implies a disrespect if you think about it, even a degree of arrogance, though most good atheists are pretty tolerant of that stuff.

The big battles are caused when people breach the aforementioned unspoken rules. No believer is an idiot for believing, though many are all too happy to be so certain that they have the one and only valid story that they are happy to attack those who are at variance with them. No atheist is an idiot for not believing, though it is a huge mistake to offend individuals on the grounds of their beliefs alone. Attacking organised religion is an entirely different matter, and I think that more they are challenged, right down to the core, the healthier it is. Of course, some people don't like that. Tough. And we atheists have it tough too, remember, in world which has religion at its core by default.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Ebbie
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 02:12 AM

Joe, tell your wife that Ebbie loves you. :)


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 04:18 AM

Can I tell my wife that I love Ebbie? ;-)

One thing I really crave is rich discussion. It's nice to talk with people who share my thinking, but it's not often that it's rich. It's difficult to talk with people who attack my ideas, because that puts me in a defensive mode.

What's wonderful is when I'm with people who also want to exchange differing ideas. THAT'S when discussion can be rich. And this thread has been very rich so far. Thank you all very much. That's why I like you so much.

And Ebbie, my wife thinks it's wonderful that I love so many women, including you.

-Joe Offer-

P.S. So often, there are atheists in the forum who say something and expect me to disagree with them. And I want to say, "Wait, wait - that's exactly the way I see it. Don't shut me out because I wear the label of 'Catholic!' I agree with you."


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Patsy
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 04:29 AM

I like interesting discussions about religion because it is an interesting topic and I get so disappointed when it becomes angry and insulting to whoever.

As a child once said to me 'why can't people just be nice' I agree with that.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 04:58 AM

Joe, one of the reasons that I never post on threads relating to religion is because either they do turn into mudslinging after a while, or they just degenerate into the usual opposing and intransigent points of view - with never a resolution in sight. Not that I'm naive enough to expect a resolution, but it would be interesting, occasionally, to see some common ground agreed on.

I also never post because I'm an atheist. I've been an atheist since my very early teens (well over 50 years ago) on grounds which - to me - were and are still logical and reasoned. Those grounds are usually anathema to people with religious faith and there's little point in arguing over them. I'm not a militant atheist but I'm genuinely dismayed when I read about - for example - creationists' who are convinced that the earth is 6,000 years old and that dinosaur fossils were put here to "test us". I'm further dismayed when I read that (for example) a schoolteacher holding those beliefs is allowed to teach in a well-known and highly-rated school in England.

Unfortunately, I'm also persuaded that arguments using logic, reason, scientific evidence, etc. are also wasted on such people. And that's why I simply - and more usually - stay mute on Mudcat when it comes to religious matters.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 05:08 AM

I have never been able to come to terms with the concept of an all knowing, all powerful being permitting such destruction of and suffering in what s/he has created.

I have never been able to come to terms to with the concept of free will, especially upon seeing how easy it is for individuals to be subsumed into a mob. It is built into us to want to belong, because as a matter of protection we needed to belong.

While I find there is much that is reprehensible in many religions (let's face it - religion is just a vehicle of belonging) I also find much that is good and beautiful. But that is not enough for me to deny what my head and heart tell me. Which is to be wary. To not let anyone do your thinking or feeling for you.

For these reasons, I don't believe in god and definitely do not adhere to religion.

But this is just me. Not my place to tell anyone else what or how they should think, feel or believe.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 05:10 AM

'i feel that believers should also accept that there is no certainty' steve shaw. Thats an interesting position to take, because it demands the rejection of a fundamental premise held my many / most? believers of certainty in god through 'faith'. Its not too far from saying that you feel that believers shouldn't believe what they believe but they should believe what you believe.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 05:22 AM

OK, we're up to 28 posts, and every single post is valuable and positive and respectful. Seems to me that the atheists may have thought their opinion is not valued by people of faith. I would like to believe that at Mudcat, every opinion is valued - and I mean honestly valued. Is that possible?

Maybe we merely assume that our own opinion is rejected by other people. Maybe they think better of us, than we think of ourselves?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 05:29 AM

'when someone starts a thread asking for prayers... That is an insult' steve shaw. If a person believes in the power of prayer, and that is what they want, then they are entitled to ask for it. If as an atheist you are unable to provide what has been requested, then you can offer what you are able to provide. I think there have been requests for financial support on this forum, should people unable to offer any financial support feel insulted by the request?


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 05:48 AM

About 18 months ago, Barack Obama gave a profound (and controversial) commencement address at Notre Dame University [(click)]. In his speech, he said that there is always an element of doubt in faith. I'd agree. If we don't have at least some doubt about what we believe, our belief is not honest.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 05:58 AM

'our belief is not honest'. Interesting that you rephrase your belief as 'our belief'. you are entitled to hold your belief, but it is a personal belief and others who do not share it are entitled to their unshakable faith without you demanding they accept your 'doubt' as a part of their beliefs. Im not religious by the way, but i don't believe in imposing my beliefs on others.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 06:10 AM

"Unshakeable faith" is in no way inconsistent with an element of doubt. That is as true when it comes to faith in religion as it is to faith in other people.

Perhaps it can sometimes be more helpful to use the word "trust" instead.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 06:22 AM

fair point. 'Not necessarilly inconsistant' however is a very different statement to claiming that anothers faith is necessarlly 'dishonest' if they do not share my doubt. I find it highly presumptious to impose the conditions i hold important for my own beliefs, upon another.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,John MacKenzie
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 06:24 AM

I'm not intolerant of religion or religious views, just don't understand them.
Mind you, getting someone to believe in something they can't see, is a neat trick.
Don't get me wrong, (unless you want to) I admire many christian people, and yes that's with a small c, as it's an attitude of mind to be admired, even if the belief is improbable.
Watched part of a programme last night about 2 families, thrown out of the Amish sect, for "Transgressions", and was disgusted by the fact that they are given a bible in a Germanic language that they can't read, and forbidden to read it in English. I thought that was sorted out long time ago.
They joined another church, that believed if mould grew in your house after it had been shut up for a certain number of days, you had to demolish the house, burn the bits, and start again.
Don't get me started on the religions where women are treated as goods and chattels, and definitely second-class citizens!
So many people seem to say they have "found" religion, like they'd found a dollar bill. Often to people like that, religion is like a crutch to a one legged man, it fulfils a need that they didn't know they had, till they fell over.
Your religion is to me, like your sexual preferences, please keep it to yourself. Don't go round proclaiming 'I got religion', you don't do that when you catch syphilis, do you?
Enjoy it, feel secure in it, but it's personal.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 06:28 AM

I personally have no doubts in my Faith. The way I came to know God/Jesus/Holy Spirit left me in no doubt and where I am happy to tell anyone about my experience I don't believe I have the right to try to push them toward that belief. However, because of the way I live my life in line with the New Testament of God in the Bible.... people ask why I am different... and I tell them. Others have come to a knowledge of the Trinity as a result of this and that pleases me...... There are some on here who perhaps are unable to understand that someone can have a relationship with the living Christ and would criticise me for talking with that imaginary friend.. there are perhaps those who think I could better spend my time not reading my Bible or praying. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions/choices/followings... I am comfortable enough with mine not to worry about criticism from anywhere or anyone. That is not arrogance by the way, that is confidence. I have something in my life which I wish all others could have........ When I first entered "Mudcat Cafe' I was highly criticised for putting "Be Blessed' at the end of each post.... I now sign off with Best wishes. If people are not happy with what I say/do.. then I have to assess whether it is correct for me to change or to hold my position in line with my belief. I try hard not to offend or appear too forceful but I sometimes make mistakes ... in my belief "We all fall short of the Glory of God" and every Christian makes mistakes and maybe sometimes chooses to take the wrong path. We then have to go about trying to make things right..... not always successfully.
Best wishes, Mike.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 06:31 AM

amen!


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 06:33 AM

bad timing. Last post in response to j.mackenzie


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 06:43 AM

I'm an atheist - a disbeliever in a supreme being - because I can see no rational nor logical nor scientific reason for such a belief. As far as religion is concerned, which is a positive expression of such a belief, it has always appeared to me to be become a method of controlling a society and making it conform to a set of practices. Now - I'm under no illusions that all societies are subject to some form of control and conformity - else anarchy would reign - but I'd much rather be subject to a set of agreed rules which are not driven by an irrational belief in a non-existent supreme being. State, and not Church, in other words. Rules, the making of which I can participate in and help to modify (in an ideal world).

Religious extremism - which is more usually the topic which sets Mudcat on fire - is the ultimate expression of the desire to control and impose conformity. I abhor it.

The question of morality has often been put to me by religious people in discussions of belief and unbelief. "How can you possibly behave in a moral way", goes the argument, "without basic concepts of Good and Evil to lead you?" As far as I'm concerned, there is one simple rule by which I try and live: Treat others as you want to be treated yourself. Charles Kingsley's 'Mrs DoAsYouWouldBeDoneBy', in short, and I don't believe that I need much more of a precept to distinguish right from wrong. I make no claim to always do right - I can be as naughty as anyone, given half a chance - but I'm under no illusions about what I'm doing.

As far as being tolerant - as an atheist - of people with religious faith is concerned, I have very mixed views. I think it very wrong that children, from the moment of their birth, are indoctrinated with religious beliefs. Of course every child has to be brought up to distinguish good and bad behaviour as defined by the society in which it lives, but - as far as religions are concerned - no child should be subject to religious influence. Not for nothing do the Jesuits say, "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man" (Francis Xavier). Views inculcated at an early age are difficult to shrug off in later life. For those of you who are religious, ask yourself why you are the religion you are. Unless you've been converted in later life, for most of you the answer will probably be that it's an accident of birth. I happened to be born into a family who were ostensibly Church of England. If I'd been born in, say, Italy, it's highly likely I would have been born into a Catholic family. If I'd been born in Tel Aviv, it's highly likely I'd be Jewish and, if in Baghdad, a Muslim. Divine Providence or accident?

And which of these is "Right" and which of these is "Wrong"? As far as I'm concerned, seeing the irrational behaviour of my own "CofE" family, with its prejudices against Catholics and Jews, etc., the whole shebang was to be devoutly avoided!

I genuinely believe that, when I die, the atoms that have made me will return to the cosmos and reappear, millions of times, in millions of different forms, and in completely arbitrary ways. The span of my life, in cosmological terms, is less than a blink, and religion is to me a cumbersome, man-made and irrelevant construct.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: bbc
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 06:52 AM

Well-spoken, Joe. Most would consider me a conservative Protestant Christian. I attend services at a mainstream church almost every week. Even more, I believe that my life, moment by moment, should show the beliefs I profess. I believe in an active, loving God, who has an interest & involvement in my life. I believe that God communicates with me through His Holy Spirit (as well as through people) & seeks to direct my actions. Like you, having said the above, I am open-minded in most of my beliefs & don't attempt to push my beliefs onto others. I find that many who think themselves liberals, however, are not open to any other view. I've soured on Mudcat because of the frequent negativity & unthinking attacks on others. I appreciate you "hanging in." I still drop by, but don't comment much.

best always,

Barbara


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 06:59 AM

Guest Lively... my post was not in response to the previous one by John but was being written presumably whilst Johns post was published.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 07:07 AM

You would not need faith if there were rational, logical or scientific reasons for belief.
I have some faith but the doubts persist.
I find no conflict with science, cosmology and my faith.
Studies have shown that people with faith are happier people.
That is my experience too.
What a nice thankyou for believing.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 07:20 AM

Studies have shown that people with faith are happier people.
That is my experience too.


Keith - with respect - that's the kind of statement that usually drives me away from Mudcat discussions. And it does so because my immediate reactions to it includes multiple questions like: What studies? What evidence? Studies from all faiths? Studies from all parts of the world? What studies have measured the happiness of people without faith? And - most importantly - how is "happiness" defined?

As far as your own experience is concerned, who am I to doubt your state of mind? I accept it at face value but would still ask - was there a time when you were without faith - a time to which you can compare your present happiness. A bit of a tongue-in-cheek question, I admit, but you get my point, I'm sure.

I consider myself a very happy person. My family are all around me; I'm able to live modestly; I enjoy my formal work retirement and the music which has permeated my whole life; I live in a pleasant part of Sussex in a small but comfortable house. Life hasn't always been easy - why should it be - but religion has never played a part in the happiness or lack of it. What does my experience count as a statistic?


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 07:22 AM

A well thought through post Joe, thank you for sharing your creed with us.

The bit I thought most useful was your take on abortion. You said you mourn when an abortion is carried out, however necessary. That is a take on the subject that I only wish others could follow. To mourn is neither to condemn or condone. None of us want our loved ones to die but we either accept that they do and mourn their passing or have problems coming to terms with the fact that they do and still mourn.

Your take on that particular emotive subject is one that people on either side of the debate could (or in my opinion should) accommodate.

I guess I am firmly in the camp that will find fault in organised religion and especially those who seek to influence others on the basis of their belief. However, there is a huge difference between opposing the rise of religious interpretations of society's future and opposing people who believe in their God.

I have friends and family who are Christian, Muslim, Jewish etc. If I were to debate their take on life with them, I am sure we would end up arguing, hence I don't tend to do so.

Mudcat does occasionally give people the opportunity to, namely or anonymously, air their deep thoughts with no sense of having to hold back in case close friends are offended. That makes these posts somewhat cathartic and I for one welcome the opportunity.

I am irreligious, I resent Bishops sitting in our upper house (Lords) by dint of their superstition and I genuinely cannot see belief as being anything beyond superstition. It can be a power for good and is often used wrongly as an excuse for performing bad deeds. In fact I accept that if we didn't have religions, we would probably invent them again anyway.

At the risk of sounding elitist, I cannot help thinking that as we evolve, religion will become less useful and that activists are fighting a rear guard action. I am convinced that the tradition rather than the rationale is the reason most people still identify with religions.

But you know Joe, if awful deeds were being committed in the name of my religion and I felt strongly that my religion was still relevant, my anger would be inward looking rather than pointing out the shortcomings of we heathens.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 07:25 AM

In spite of having very bitter memories of a Catholic upbringing which included frequent beatings by Jesuit brothers at my Catholic Grammar School, I am inclined to agree with almost everything you say Joe.

It doesn't bother me that other people have different experience and different ideas.

I find myself in the exact centre of these arguments, being a believer in a deity, but not a believer in any religious organisation or cult.

I think the biggest stumbling blocks to discussion and tolerance are the oft repeated conflation of "Faith" with "Religion", which are IMO two entirely different things, and the fact that some of the debaters are so firmly entrenched at the extremes of the argument that they are not aware that a middle ground exists.

It's rather like two strangers shouting threats at each other across a wide gorge, not realising that if they take the bridge and meet in the middle they can discuss the situation quietly, or even shake hands.

It's the kind of thinking which leads to grown men terrifying primary school children in the street, because those children of a different faith have to cross their territory to get to school.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 07:26 AM

mcgrath: yes, as said your statement that 'my faith is not inconsistant with my doubt' is a different statement to saying 'your faith is dishonest, because you lack my doubt'.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 07:30 AM

sorry, repeating myself


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 08:27 AM

Reading this how grateful I am for my secular upbringing! I meet a lot of desprately Liberal Catholics - decent folk messed up by faith and superstition, still fearful of the lies, threats & fairy tales they were fed in childhood. Is that the problem here? Is that why Joe's forever telling us how good Catholics are whilst coming out with guff such as I don't see abortion as a good thing. I think that the loss of a fetus is a cause for mourning, even if that loss was necessary. In the UK (and elsewhere) the RCC is offering easy conversion to reactionary / sexist / homophobic Anglicans who want to get back to good old intollerance.

Maybe in looking at the vile history and ongoing horrors of the RCC what Joe really wants to shout is:

Wait! I'm a decent human being but I can't seem to tear myself away from my conditioning so I'm locked in this endless cycle of apology and self-justification which seems to get worse as I get older...

Like anyone really cares anyway.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 08:35 AM

Yeah, well - I do care as it happens, just can't hack the institutionalised bullshit which passes as Religion. Remember, they can't all be right, but they can all be wrong...


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Subject: RE: BS: Another View of Religion
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 18 Mar 11 - 08:51 AM

Excellent post from Will, above (the one before last). One path of less resistance would be for no-one ever to discuss religion. That would leave everyone in their little comfort zone and would be a complete copout. It might work a little better in a world in which religion was not in any way organised, and in which worship, or not, was a completely free and private matter. But it isn't. As Will points out, that accident of birth thing determines what religion most religious people "belong to" and therein lies the seeds of much trouble on this planet, and it's absurd when you really think about it.

Religious extremism - which is more usually the topic which sets Mudcat on fire - is the ultimate expression of the desire to control and impose conformity. I abhor it.

That is a statement few people, bar the nutters, would ever disagree with. But where does moderation end and extremism begin? If you define it as above, then you are including all religious instruction in schools and you are including christenings and other induction ceremonies. My view is that these things are utterly wrong, but they are endemic and I'm not going to get anywhere by calling millions of parents "extremists" for sending their kids to Catholic schools or whatever. The argument has to be put, but it's next to impossible to put it without ruffling feathers. Believers see all the indoctrination as part of the religious community thing whereas atheists may see it as an instrument of control and a ploy to get people in young to keep up the numbers. If you can see a way of discussing that without it getting all inflamed you're a better man than I am, but that is no reason for the argument to be not put.


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