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No invisible means of support

Jim Dixon 08 Dec 05 - 03:58 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 08 Dec 05 - 12:31 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 08 Dec 05 - 12:05 AM
Janie 07 Dec 05 - 11:10 AM
Janie 07 Dec 05 - 10:37 AM
Wolfgang 07 Dec 05 - 09:57 AM
Paco Rabanne 07 Dec 05 - 03:54 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 07 Dec 05 - 01:07 AM
Big Mick 06 Dec 05 - 07:31 PM
Bill D 06 Dec 05 - 07:22 PM
Bill D 06 Dec 05 - 07:12 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 06 Dec 05 - 04:06 PM
Fibula Mattock 06 Dec 05 - 01:54 PM
Deda 06 Dec 05 - 01:25 PM
Wesley S 05 Dec 05 - 01:30 PM
GUEST,Whistle Stop 05 Dec 05 - 01:03 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 05 Dec 05 - 12:42 PM
Amos 04 Dec 05 - 07:49 PM
Deda 04 Dec 05 - 07:19 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 04 Dec 05 - 06:57 PM
Amos 04 Dec 05 - 01:34 PM
Big Mick 04 Dec 05 - 12:08 PM
Big Mick 04 Dec 05 - 12:07 PM
Jeri 04 Dec 05 - 10:06 AM
*daylia* 04 Dec 05 - 09:43 AM
Jeri 04 Dec 05 - 09:05 AM
*daylia* 04 Dec 05 - 08:42 AM
*daylia* 04 Dec 05 - 08:18 AM
Amos 03 Dec 05 - 11:46 PM
SINSULL 03 Dec 05 - 10:51 PM
Bill D 03 Dec 05 - 08:54 PM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 03 Dec 05 - 07:31 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 03 Dec 05 - 02:48 PM
bobad 03 Dec 05 - 01:20 PM
wysiwyg 03 Dec 05 - 01:00 PM
Jeri 03 Dec 05 - 12:12 PM
Bunnahabhain 03 Dec 05 - 07:48 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 02 Dec 05 - 11:46 PM
Bill D 02 Dec 05 - 11:19 PM
GUEST 02 Dec 05 - 09:44 PM
SINSULL 02 Dec 05 - 07:34 PM
The Fooles Troupe 02 Dec 05 - 06:58 PM
Jim Dixon 02 Dec 05 - 06:58 PM
GUEST 02 Dec 05 - 05:40 PM
robomatic 02 Dec 05 - 04:19 PM
*daylia* 02 Dec 05 - 03:13 PM
bobad 02 Dec 05 - 01:37 PM
*daylia* 02 Dec 05 - 01:24 PM
GUEST,*daylia* 02 Dec 05 - 01:11 PM
Bill D 02 Dec 05 - 12:03 PM
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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 08 Dec 05 - 03:58 PM

"People don't come to church for preachments, of course, but to daydream about God." ~Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 08 Dec 05 - 12:31 AM

From all the years I spent playing my found folksongs for people on the Mississippi River steamboats (not gambling boats) I have learned to try mightily to appreciate perusung whatever floats in the passing parade that come my way down the big stream to enlighten me -- pretty much by chance---by lucky happenstance. Even with reality's toxic pollution floating by on occasion, if you aim your camera's sights at the intriguing patterns of color and light and dark, quite often you can save images that are worth keeping.

Art


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 08 Dec 05 - 12:05 AM

No belief about it. Just logical delineations from observing the world all around me. ---- And for what it is worth, the most religious person I know has the most pain from mental illness of everyone/anyone I've ever met.

My sense of peace comes from existentially going with the flow as I've told about experiencing it in this thread.

(As Dragnet's Joe Friday, used to say, "Just the facts, mam. Just the facts!" ;-)

Art


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Janie
Date: 07 Dec 05 - 11:10 AM

I find the experience of the community of my church, the practice of the rituals of the service, and prayer supportive, helpful and meaningful in sustaining myself and others 'spiritually.' What do I mean by 'spiritual'? Again--I'm not sure--but it is part of what I use to make meaning and it definitely has to do with sustaining a sense that I am not the most important unit of creation, and that I am part of and responsible to the great web of creation and life--even those aspects of which I have no knowledge or awareness.

I call myself a christian with a small 'c' because I have been inculturated to be able to use those particular metaphors reasonably effectively to shape a paradigm of meaning.

Wolfgang,

In my experience as a psychotherapist, people who cannot create some existential meaning are more likely to experience depression that is extremely resistant to treatment. Often, but certainly not always, these are people with strong narcissistic tendencies whose paradigm of the universe has them at the center--not talking here about inflated ego and an overvaluing of self--but of the inability to experience others except from the point of view of the self. (example I can never have a successful relationship because if they really knew me, they would hate me as I hate myself--which, of course, often creates self-fulfilling prophecies.)

Being realistic without having a sense of meaning IS depressing. Whether one believes in God or believes there is no God--both are beliefs. Meaning can be made within either framework.

Janie


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Janie
Date: 07 Dec 05 - 10:37 AM

Like Mick, I am confident that there is a power greater than myself. I am comfortable being clueless about what that power is. Maybe it is a Creator(ess), maybe it is a collective consciousness of all sentient beings, maybe it is simply the power of relaionships. It doesn't really matter.

I understand religous and creation stories as powerful metaphors and tools that are useful in helping one think about the ineffable. People vary in their preference of tools.

When my grandfather died at age 97 I found myself reflecting on how his ways of being in the world shaped my father and in turn my own ways of being in the world. My son, who never knew him, will also be influenced. And so, for better or worse, he will live on as long as there is a chain of influence. The same will hold for you and me, Giok. For all I know, that is what eternal life is. It doesn't really matter. Meaning is what matters and each of us have to make meaning for ourselves.

Janie


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Wolfgang
Date: 07 Dec 05 - 09:57 AM

Well said, Bill.

I'm more realistic than those who find certainty

Art, there is even more truth in what you say than one could wish: People tending to depression are more realistic than others (the causal connection is a riddle still), there's even a research field called 'unrealistic optimism'.

In a nutshell: You either can be wrong and happy or you can be right and unhappy.

That simplistic dichotomy is of course faulty for at least two reasons: First, people cannot chose what they are like a lifestyle ("from tomorrow on, I'll be an optimist"), second, the correlation is not very strong and there is a very large overlap.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 07 Dec 05 - 03:54 AM

100 is the new 99!


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 07 Dec 05 - 01:07 AM

Bill, and others too, good thoughts there. And lots of 'em too! ;-) Here's some more of what is happening for me...

I see good people all around me with a strange need for certainty. It's not just a desire for that commodity. They even find that it by making bargains with themselves to make it happen. They find the rule book---their Rules Ob De Road---to paraphrase the song as it was originally in Sarah Pratt McLean Greene's poem called "De Massa Ob De Sheepfol'" I'm practically surrounded by them folks and their found certainty. Truly, they are very good people---. As long as I don't have to continually argue with them. If I had a business and had to hire a bunch of people, I would hire THEM---and I would know that not even a paperclip would ever be stolen from me. In this world, in these times, that is really saying something.

So, for me, it's just simpler than it seems to be for you. I don't need to find the complex road of it, although I like your arguments with yourself, Bill, quite a lot--after I read through them.   I think I agree on most points. ------- But, again, one of the books I admire most is Alan Watts' The Wisdom Of Insecurity. I am possibly more depressed than the "certain" ones---although I see many who need and get real help from good professionals. I think I'm more realistic than those who find certainty by choosing to believe what is really unbelievable ;-) to me---because it's just so fantastic to me--as in fantasy laden

That is a large part of how and why it's a fairly simple matter for me to say I'm an atheist. Things just really do look that way to me when I'm being honest with myself about what I have seen all around me.

Art


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Big Mick
Date: 06 Dec 05 - 07:31 PM

I thought it was done very well, Bill, and I don't feel as though you were attacking anyone. You did precisely what the thread requested.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Bill D
Date: 06 Dec 05 - 07:22 PM

and I really do regret that some of that tends to sound like an 'attack'...that is not the point. I am not sure how to defend NOT believing without illustrating problem WITH believing.


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Bill D
Date: 06 Dec 05 - 07:12 PM

Here is what I have been messing with...started it several days ago, so I just added more until I found a place to stop....I could start over and do it very differently, with different examples and directions.



hmmmmm... let me try to shed some light on that issue Susan mentions: being positive instead of being 'against' something and speaking of what you DO believe...etc.
It is not an easy path to negotiate, but I'll try to explain what some of us who are not religious deal with as we see & experience a world where pro-religious sentiment is not only common, but persistent AS an issue in culture, politics, schooling, war....etc. It is hard to hold to mostly positive statements when confronted by may of the situation I note in the following.

In one sense, it should not make any difference whether one believes in a spiritual realm or not. It could be simply a personal choice, where some attend services, pray, observe certain holidays and rituals, and try to comport themselves according to a moral standard that feels 'right' to them. In that sense, it 'could' be irrelevant what you or I do or believe, as long as we don't expect everyone to think as we think.
   Unfortunately, it often does not work like that. It is easy to point to the more extreme examples on either side: the Madeline Murray O'Hairs with obnoxious atheist adendas, trying to obliterate any mention of religion from public institutions-- or the TV evangelists (if I may, for a moment, consider them as a group), haranguing and begging and promising with sanctimonious posturing. In both of these situations, we have people with an agenda to influence or pressure others into either seeing their side, or at least not interfering with their message.

   What, then, of the quiet ones?--the believers who happily practice their faith (or un-faith) and do good works and care about everyone? The Mennonite rescue teams who arrive at the scene of a disaster and simply HELP, then return to their communities and give thanks that they were able to help? The Secular Humanists who try to promote understanding thru knowlege and communication? Perhaps the most important thing about the 'quiet ones' may be that, BEING quiet, they don't get much attention or command much authority when issues are being debated. If a news program wants to air a debate on an issue, who do they usually interview?
   Last night, on "Larry King Live" on CNN it was Rick Warren, author of "The Purpose-Driven Life" (full transcript of the show).
   He is a highly visible advocate of Christianity, who travels all over the world, preaching, teaching and 'setting a good example' of reason and tolerance....he says. Listening to him, or reading the transcript, he seems friendly, patient with penetrating questions, and well-read. He seems MUCH easier to listen to than an interview with Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell, who are almost parodies of themselves, ..but who ALWAYS get attention just because they do make such outrageous proclamations!

(this seems rambling, perhaps, but I SAID it isn't easy connecting all the dots in this controversy)

anyway.....so what's the difference between Pat, Jerry...and Rick Warren, and between helpful Mennonites and quiet Quakers and the full Catholic hierarchy with Papal succession? Are all these really parts of one church?

If they are, then some of them are confused or careless, as they simply do not agree on some important points. If they are not, then it needs to be made clear just what is being claimed by each!

Being a non-religious type, but sort of a nice guy...like Art Thieme and a few others..*grin*..., I meet religious folks whom I get along with- some of whom tell me that they 'sort of' think that God will judge me by my life and deeds and that I will "do ok" in the afterlife, whatever it is. But I KNOW that some of those people go about praying for me, hoping that God will 'get thru' to me, because there IS this very clear tenet in most of their church doctrines that says "thou shalt not come unto the Father, but by me!"...etc.

Now there's the rub! Am I condemned because of my stubborness or not? There are many traditionalist (shorthand for 'fundamentalist') believers who have no doubts...no belief means not saved! Hopeless! Lost! You've all seen and heard the rules. But many modern Christians...the ones who don't shout so loudly or harangue so voiciferously... don't believe this, or don't like to dwell on that rule. ....Folks, we can't have it both ways when it seems such an important point! The question is: If it can't be both ways, why is not the most conservative, literal answer the 'right' one? And why dance around it?

Now naturally, I don't think I am in danger, but what I see is dozens of major divisions and hundreds of minor ones, all with different views and interpretations of 'truth'....how can anyone 'pick' among them if there are so few points of agreement? THIS is one of the reasons (going back to Art's original question)why many atheists feel as they do.

   Since we have this complex brain with 'free will', supposedly given us by a creator, why WOULD he expect us NOT to use it to question strange old 2000 year old stories? Why, if he wants certain behavior, does not the Heavens open each Sunday morning with a clap of thunder and a 'message of the week' formed by clouds? You see? Some of us need something **unmistakeable** if we are to buy into such a serious system!

We (I, anyway) are sorry, but "It's not up to us to question God's motives." just doesn't cut it. That begs the question! Read that interview with Rick Warren on Larry King...he starts with the assumption that the Bible is literally true and that God 'gave' it to men in a magical way....just as he (God)later seems to have done with Oahspe and Urantia, which still have a few followers! Urantia is just as big and complex as the Bible, and Oahspe even gives pictures and diagrams! Is it a matter of "majority rules"??? Or of "who was first?"...........I am also sorry, but saying that "we all have our different ways of worshiping and comprehending and coming to terms with the Divine Truth" is vacillation....if there is not a clear answer, it is worse than no answer! We would not fight so much if there WERE no competing answers offered by so many groups which are absolutely certain they have the best one.

....so...(there is no stopping place, but there IS a limit to time and energy to make the various points)...There are various reasons why many of us doubt, question and/or shrug. Too many answers...not enough answers...the wrong kind of answers....and, yes... a few with axes to grind due to personal disillusionment and pain.

Still, as I have said before, I QUITE understand why many find solace and comfort in religious beliefs, as many have done for thousands of years. It is not for me to DISprove them, and in fact, there IS no way to disprove them! But I am not *making* claims...just doubting other's claims. If one makes claims, THEY must provide the evidence, and it just ain't fair to redefine 'proof' and 'evidence' in order to claim a win.

Because religious belief is such an important aspect of human history, I cannot imagine it just going away any time soon...nor do I think that's a particularly good idea....and I WILL defend the rights of believers TO believe....as long as that belief does not include requiring ME to believe also. And isn't that the crux of the problem?
   *IF* one believes they have partaken of the TRUTH, don't they have the obligation to show others? The Bible seems to admonish them to! "Go thou and become fishers of men"....etc...and we have evangelists doing just that...and causing international incidents in their zeal sometimes. It seems, in the mind of many, that "the end really does justify the means" when it comes to witnessing and "acknowleging" God, as Judge Roy Moore tried to say in Alabama in his 10 Commandments struggle. "We are right, therefore we MUST win!"
....maybe you are, Judge Moore....but maybe you ain't...and as long as your type is banging at MY door for attention and privileged treatment, we will continue to have this stand-off as some of us continue to believe that
"Freedom of religion must also include the right to freedom from religion for those wish it."


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 06 Dec 05 - 04:06 PM

...and people get strange with me when I say that I am a Jewish atheist. Yes, I know to be Jewish is to be a part of a religion. One test Jews have for deciding if someone is Jewish is to ask if your mother was Jewish, and Jews consider me Jewish because my mother was Jewish. (My father also drank a lot of Scotch. BUT that doesn't make me Liquor-ish ;-) Absinthe also tastes like licorice. (But "absinthe", some say, "makes the fart grow honder." ;-)

Comes down to me feeling that I am defined as Jewish by Hitler and his kind who would've burnt me to death in a concentration camp oven because of who my mom was! That is, in the end pretty much, definitive from where I'm sitting.

Art


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Fibula Mattock
Date: 06 Dec 05 - 01:54 PM

What lots of other people (like Bill D, Giok and Jeri) said. Count me in as someone with no need for an invisible means of support. Nor does science take the place of religion in my life - science is just another paradigm to me.

So Art said 'My intention in starting this thread was to make a place where us atheists can tell of the philosophical journeys and paths we trod to get to our ways of viewing this life WITHOUT religious people joining in the discussion at all. So please, kindly exit stage right. Just for now though. We like having you around otherwise. ;-) **SMILE** (REALLY)"

...and I am replying: road to Damascus anti-conversion. I realised that religion stuff didn't all make sense, and that a sense of wonder was perfectly possible without a belief in a higher being/spirtuality/insert-appropriate-religious-euphemism here. The more I learn, the more no invisible means of support makes sense.

I wonder why, in a society that is touted as moving away from the Church, and which likes to break more and more taboos, are people still quite shocked (sometimes horrified!) when I explain (when indeed they ask me what religion I am) that I'm an atheist and that I was never baptised?

If, when I die, there's nothing, it won't matter cos I'll be dead. (That's quite appealing sometimes actually.)


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Deda
Date: 06 Dec 05 - 01:25 PM

Thanks. When I saw Art and Amos' lovely responses, and re-read my little blurb, I thought, that's pretty good -- and I decided to put it into my annual letter, over which I had been completely stumped. So this has been very helpful.

Amos of course I love, you too, bro!


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Wesley S
Date: 05 Dec 05 - 01:30 PM

One of my favorite cartoons showed God as "the old bearded guy" standing in front of an editors desk. The editor is telling God "I didn't say that it had to be perfect - it just has to be done in seven days"

It makes sense to me.


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: GUEST,Whistle Stop
Date: 05 Dec 05 - 01:03 PM

Deda, you did say lovely things; you expressed my own feelings much better than I could have.

I only wish your statement that "anyone over the age of 12 or so knows it isn't the old bearded guy on the cloud, it isn't just a Judeo-Christian form of Zeus" were really true. Unfortunately, I'm afraid a lot of people just can't give up the "old bearded guy," and seem intent on imposing all of his scriptural decrees on the rest of us.


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 05 Dec 05 - 12:42 PM

Deda,

If I wasn't married, I'd figure out a way to P.M. you and make a proposal. You said lovely things there---as have many others in this thread. Thank you all.

I just finished wrapping the packages. Now I know what I forgot to get--and for who. Think I'll buy a memory upgrade too!!

Art


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Amos
Date: 04 Dec 05 - 07:49 PM

Wow.

I love you, Deda.


A


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Deda
Date: 04 Dec 05 - 07:19 PM

I believe that the vast, positive, largely inexpressable capacities that we each have --- capacity to love, to help, to understand, to share, to sing, to give, to be generous -- add up in the aggregate to much more than the sum of our combined parts, even though that sum would be incalculably great. Into that aggregate also flows the universal will to survive, which is observable in every little blade of grass, every dot-sized fruit fly, every life form including planets and seaweed and earthworms and ants and people and all - all of those "Will-Survive"s add up to a great loud, deep, massive chorus of "WILL SURVIVE." In my world-view, that great chorus has the attributes of a being. And I can talk to it. It is like floating down a massive river, which WILL find a way to go downstream no matter how large a dam it runs into, and I can talk to the current, and sometimes it responds to me. When this understanding took form in my heart, I realized that the term "God" would work as a metaphor for what I meant, but at first I would always start out with a half-hour disclaimer about "what I don't mean, not the old bearded guy..." Now I don't waste my time trying to explain it. It doesn't matter, really. I figure the term God is always a metaphor, because anyone over the age of 12 or so knows it isn't the old bearded guy on the cloud, it isn't just a Judeo-Christian form of Zeus. We are all inter-connected, and the nature and substance of what connects us is this mysterious thing, to which I talk, and to which I attempt to listen.


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 04 Dec 05 - 06:57 PM

Sinsull and I seem to agree. The long posts working it out are truly grand, but what Sinsull said in his/her last post is a good nutshell synopsis of my overall feelings too. But I'm trying to wrap Christmas presents for my son and his family. Jerry, if it doesn't snow tonight, and my electric scooter works in the cold, Ruth and yours' will get mailed tomorrow.

Please someone, pass that on to Jerry if you will as I really doubt he's looking into this thread very often, if at all---and I cannot send a P.M. 'cause I'm still stuck in the twilight nether world of   (((((Guestland))))). Oh, never mind. I forgot about e-mail. When yer memory goes, forget it...

Yep, I love Christmas. Go figure! ;-)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Amos
Date: 04 Dec 05 - 01:34 PM

Mick,

Beautifully vented, mate.

Those who assert there are no "beliefs" in their world-view are confusing two versions of the word. There are lots of word-music beliefs out there that have little to do with the actual makeup of an individual's core belief system. The core beliefs, the primary assumptions about what to perceive in the world and what the world does, are often so intimately held as to be wholly invisible to the user; yet it is these transparent beliefs that account for the bulk of individual experience, because they define what one allows in and what one "must" think and do.

The genuine belief system of the individual is built around who he considers he is in what he considers the world. If on top of that he espouses doctrines held only intellectually, but not integrated into who he is being, then there will be a marked dissonance between what he says and what occurs in his life.

An example is those who intellectually espouse personal responsibility, but more deeply believe in an other-determined universe which brings them good or ill based on some mysterious external mechanism. Or those who intellectually wrestle with Judeo Christian beliefs who are closer to original paganism or anarchistic brutality in what they truly see in themselves and around them.

I think it is important to be able to see beyond the words and notice the actual music, the walk being walked.

A


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Big Mick
Date: 04 Dec 05 - 12:08 PM

P.S. Jerry Falwell and Madalyn Murray O'Hair. Two sides of the same coin, IMO.


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Big Mick
Date: 04 Dec 05 - 12:07 PM

Exactly right, Jeri. And that goes for those that don't share my beliefs. There is very little in the conservative agenda I agree with, but the idea that being of a Christian persuasion is not a dirty idea. Live and let live is good sauce here. Also, being respectful of others beliefs. You know me like few others here. You should know that I am interested in others belief systems without regard to whether they are rooted in the same beliefs as mine. I get tired of folks telling me I am a fool for my beliefs. I also get tired of Christians who proclaim that all our laws and societal images of right and wrong are grounded in Judeo-Christian beliefs. I believe that the concepts of absolute right and wrong have been around much longer than the religions that claim them. I believe they are eternal concepts, and for me, a part of that which humans have come to worship and seek to understand.


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Jeri
Date: 04 Dec 05 - 10:06 AM

There's wisdom in that, *daylia*.
There's no reason why I need to allow myself to have a panty-bunching reaction to someone else's 'tude. I suppose we all think we're right, no matter what the subject or what, specifically, we think. It's just not nice to treat others as if they were less because they don't agree with us and it certainly isn't nice to be treated that way.


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: *daylia*
Date: 04 Dec 05 - 09:43 AM

I despise the 'holier than thou' attitude.

Well, that attitude is pretty hard to take. It speaks of ignorance and emotional/social immaturity. But will I allow it to undermine my relationships or happiness or health or peace of mind? Nah, not any more...it's easier to practice mental vigilance and self-discipline, so that my own negative, hateful, harmful thought-patterns, judgements and emotions may be replaced by patience, tolerance, understanding and compassion asap.


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Jeri
Date: 04 Dec 05 - 09:05 AM

It's hard to approach not believing as if it were a positive. Susan says, "I just would encourage and challenge non-theists to speak positively of what you DO believe..."

The default question is "What religion are you?" not "Do you have a religion?" The word 'atheist' means without god(s). This is what I think Susan meant by 'non-theist'. Susan refers to us by a negative. When one constantly has to explain why they don't believe, either because belief is the default or because someone thinks there MUST be something wrong with them, the reasons why you don't jibe with what they expect are more important.

What I DO believe:

I believe it's highly unlikely that there's an afterlife. I believe when you're dead, you're dead, and that you live on only in what you leave behind. You don't get another chance to do things right, so you'd better be careful this time around.

I do what is right because it's right, and I know right from wrong because I try to imagine how I'd feel in another persons place, I have a conscience, and I want to be good. If I only have one chance to walk down this road, so do my brother and sister, and I should do what I can to help them, get out of their way or get past them.

I believe in possibilities. There are loads of things I've never experienced that others have. It makes no sense at all to try to convince them THEIR experiences were wrong simply because they weren't MY experiences. I don't like the whole 'you must believe what I believe' thing, and I despise the 'holier than thou' attitude. Mind you, I've known some otherwise nice individuals who bludgeon people with that attitude, but I hope I never start wielding my beliefs as weapons.


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: *daylia*
Date: 04 Dec 05 - 08:42 AM

PS ... I like reflecting on this quote from the Tao Te Ching

"Throw away holiness and wisdom,
and people will be a hundred times happier.
Throw away morality and justice,
and people will do the right thing.
Throw away industry and profit,
and there won't be any thieves.

If these three aren't enough,
just stay at the center of the circle
and let all things take their course"

And this one too. The Dalai Lama says he's used it all his life, to reflect upon when he needs courage facing mighty obstacles and seemingly hopeless problems. He says it reminds him of his life's purpose, and helps him sustain his determination.

"As long as space endures
As long as sentient beings remain
May I too live
To dispell the miseries of the world".

I'm wondering - do any of our onsite atheists or scientists or "religious" have a problem with that verse?


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: *daylia*
Date: 04 Dec 05 - 08:18 AM

All people need and want to reduce and avoid the inevitable miseries of life, and to be happy. If religious beliefs and affiliations (or lack thereof) reduce people's misery and support happiness, health, kindness and peacefulness, who in their right mind would throw the first stone?

I've explored a few different religious and quasi-religious traditions besides the brand of Christianity I was born into. And I've found that each and every one of these paths (and yes, even including   *gasp* Christianity!) offers a most valuable source of insights, truth and "life-management" skills and techniques. I incorporate whatever works from those traditions into my daily lifestyle / world-view, and leave the rest behind.   I cannot identify or affiliate myself with any particular group for long. Religions box me in, and I'm just plain miserable if denied the freedom to explore and change and grow.

Ditto for science. Science is vital and fascinating and indispensable, but only a few scientists can or will "think outside the box" that particular paradigm presents, at least publically! Just like only a few Christians or atheists etc can or will think outside their "box" of choice.

In this respect, I see no difference between science, atheism and religion.

I was reading yesterday about how the Dalai Lama addressed the Society for Neuroscience in Washington DC last week. He's been working with neuroscientists for the last twenty years, investigating the effects of Buddhist-style meditation on human brain development/capacity and psychology (ie emotional, social states).

Interesting to note that hundreds of scientists protested the Dalai Lama's invitation to speak at the College, on the grounds that he is not a scientist but a "religious" (and therefore laughable) political leader. How could anyone known the world over as the "14th incarnation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion" have anything valuable to contribute to science or human knowledge? Why should he merit a place among the "gods" of the hallowed Halls of Science?

Interesting too that a large percentage of the protesters were Chinese, accusing him of using his work with Society for Neuroscience as a platform to promote his Tibetan political agenda.   And it's also interesting that in spite of the protests, thousands of neuroscientists and students showed up to hear him, and gave him standing ovations.

But most interesting, imo, is what the Dalai Lama had to say about Buddhism and science at that talk ...

"...If you blindly accept, you don't reach reality. Buddha said many things, but always encouraged empirical investigation, using your mind to see reality. It then developed in Buddhist tradition as a custom to examine his words and find those that contradict empirical evidence, and interpret them as less definitive.

...if the Buddha was writing now, he would write them differently, based on empirical evidence, science, and investigation...

Scientists are by definition, by and large, "openminded, objective, in the same tradition". In the Sanskrit tradition of Buddhism, if the "Buddhist finds traditions that contradict the evidence, then those parts of the tradition need to be rejected, or interpreted differently." The tradition believes there is a "liberty to change that which contradicts reality."

When I first wanted to talk to scientists, an older monk gave me the advice, "be careful. Scientists are killers of religion" - but I thought, scientists are also trying to find reality, and with an open mind. In the same way as we are .... ancient authors are viewed with 100% respect, but I told my colleagues that if we compared [these texts] to modern science, some would be contradictory.

Therefore, the Buddhist tradition, which respects empirical experience, requires us to view these texts with understanding, with the knowledge that these texts would be written differently today. I hope those senior colleagues don't view me as a rebellious Buddhist," he finished with a wicked grin."

Oh, it will be so good to see a day when scientists and religious fundamentalists of whatever stripe are this courageous, hopeful and "rebellious"!


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Amos
Date: 03 Dec 05 - 11:46 PM

Well, there's the indomitable and unlimited capability of the human spirit, when it is allowed freedom, its power for the good, its power to see truthfully when not interfered with, and its power to bring life and order where it find chaos, massive oppression and deathful dramatization.

Then there's the miles-deep importance of self-determination in individual thought and choice.

I believe if the species has any higher-scale commonality, it is the goal of evolving a sane destiny for ourselves.

I believe that the Individual transcends the boundaries of the body, the local continuum, and matter; that under the right circumstances he can grow to the limits of imagination itself in the exercise of his (or her) sovereign creative power.

I believe that genuine faith is a certainty in making good things happen, and that transferring that faith to external Entities, no matter what they are called, is a failure in integrity and a betrayal of self.

I believe many other things, also, but that's enough for one evening.

A


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: SINSULL
Date: 03 Dec 05 - 10:51 PM

In short, my own church betrayed me when I was a child. In my teens, I studied other faiths, mythologies, religions and came to the conclusion that none of them were based on fact.

The world we know exists because certain factors fell into place BY CHANCE. Had they not fallen into place BY CHANCE, Earth as we know it would not exist. A few more oxygen molecules in the atmosphere and life would not have evolved.

Ghosts, ESP, even the power of prayer will be explained, hopefully in my life time. More than likely they result from some currently unexplained ability of the mind. I see no reason to expect life after death. I see no proof of reincarnation. This is it.

Rather than criticize those with Faith, I envy them. How much simpler life would be if I could consult someone or something besides my own conscience to make difficult decisions. The big ones are simple - it is wrong to murder, rape, rob, etc. The grey areas are tough.


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Bill D
Date: 03 Dec 05 - 08:54 PM

I've been sitting here for over an hour, trying to compose an approach to answering Susan's basic question and her plea for a more positive attitude....and it just gets longer and longer......and the more I type, the more I NEED to type to explain & qualify and the more disclaimers I need to issue...*sigh*...

I can see I'm not gonna get it like I want tonight...maybe never....and I have one more day at a craft show tomorrow. I have what I have written saved, and if I can sort it out, I'll get back to it tomorrow night. (It helps ME refine my thoughts, even if it is tedious to most of you...*grin*)

(Susan does ask us to do something which, if possible, could be very important, and I find it difficult to do it well. I am trying to explain why)


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 03 Dec 05 - 07:31 PM

I have experienced some odd "supernatural" things that I cannot explain by means of science, but that does not mean that I have to believe in a creator. It just means that there are things happening that I do not have an explanation for.
There may be an existance after death, but this also does not explicitly require the services of any superior being or creator.
We'll all find out by experience or the lack of it one day.
Although I have heard and seen some unexplainable things, they did not confirm the continuance of existance of a particular person.


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 03 Dec 05 - 02:48 PM

Susan,

I, too, was hoping to have a talk here that wasn't about why people hate certain religious doings. Many here have done that admirably well. For me, it's not that deep. I don't see evidence around me that supernatural stuff happens. I do see that, if I search long and hard enough, many aspects of Charles Darwin and science theories have proven accurate, and will continue to prove true because they are analyzed correctly with good (not bad) science. That won't be because of my just saying that, no matter how fantastic (meaning full of fantasy) claims in some book might be. That might be things like, say, "all creation in a few days" or "Icarus flying into the sun" or "infants being brought by storks" or "parting the Red Sea" or any of a million things people have CHOSEN to give credence to just because they decide to believe in it.

I might get scared by things that go bump (or bang) in the night when I can't find the sources of those right off the bat. But if I interpret that noise as being the ghost of the previous occupant of the house without seeing or talking to that spirit thing, well, shame on me. I've never, personally, seen an alien either, so I doubt those too. Still, the fact that we are HERE makes me "feel" that THEY might be THERE too... But I need proof.

Art


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: bobad
Date: 03 Dec 05 - 01:20 PM

OK Susan

I believe in water, earth, sun, moon, warmth, cold, love, people, grass, trees, birds, animals, insects and the cycle of life and death among many other things I perceive with my senses. When I'm dead I will no longer perceive these things nor will I perceive that I am not perceiving them. This makes me neither afraid nor unhappy.


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: wysiwyg
Date: 03 Dec 05 - 01:00 PM

People who know me well know how strongly I believe in individual choice in all things.

I just would encourage and challenge non-theists to speak positively of what you DO believe (and as Art asks, WHY), instead of in terms of what you DO NOT believe... to say what you are for, less than what you are against... to speak as an A-theist or Non-theist or Pro-whatever-you-are-ist instead of using such terms to make a very thin veil over being ANTI-theist or Anti-religionist or anti-whatever-hurt-you-or-pissed-you-off.

I'm suggesting, with all due respect, that to expect PRO-anything people to shut up while people speak against their daily life experience is NOT the finest hallmark of tolerance you can logically expect if you are not able to say what you DO believe that is good and useful to you in YOUR daily experience, and can only attack, denigrate, and ridicule what others are living and believing.

That area of positive description is an area in which "believers" and "non-believers" share common ground. I'd love to meet you THERE.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Jeri
Date: 03 Dec 05 - 12:12 PM

I had an interesting conversation with one of the Jehovah's Witness pair that came to invite me to convert. She said she'd joined the church because she'd asked a succession of religous leaders a question about something to do with what happens after death (I can't remember the exact question) and they couldn't answer, but when she got to the Witnesses, they had answers could.

I told her I was wary of anyone who claimed they had answers, especially ones others couldn't come up on their own and needed to be passed on by someone else, with no way to prove or disprove them. They just sounded good.

She needed answers that she liked and I'm happy with the questions. I was 13 when I figured out I wasn't likely to be satisfied with what other people told me was true and I'd better learn how to deal with uncertainty. Uncertainty really isn't all that bad. My beliefs, such as they are, are right for me whereas others work for other people.


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Bunnahabhain
Date: 03 Dec 05 - 07:48 AM

So this isn't a campaign aaginst strapless bras then?


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 02 Dec 05 - 11:46 PM

It's quite fascinating what this topic is generating. Truly is. There is a lot for me to think over----on----and under. I'm going through a bit of heavy stuff here at home so I've not looked in here to the extent that I ought. But I will be back tomorrow or the next day. Thanks to all o' youse. We are walking along the "Razor's Edge" ---- as Somerset Maugham wrote it!   In my youth I wanted to become Larry Darroll---the main character in that good old book. He knew, as someone said in this thread earlier, that "it just doesn't matter"

Art


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Bill D
Date: 02 Dec 05 - 11:19 PM

It is? He does? We are? They are?.....and you learned this where? ?


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Dec 05 - 09:44 PM

The Master Plan God has in mind for us is that he wants us to realize that we are indeed alone and it is truly up to us and no one else to make of it what we will. In that sense the possibilities are endless....


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: SINSULL
Date: 02 Dec 05 - 07:34 PM

Creating life? Not quite yet:
http://archives.cnn.com/1999/HEALTH/12/10/simplest.cell/


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 02 Dec 05 - 06:58 PM

Re ACARUS CROSSII

they are just crystalline non-living structures - deposited by electrolysis. They are 'insects' in the same fanciful way as there are 'canals' on Mars.

The old 'water glass' allows lots of fun. When I was a kid, you could buy 'coral making kits' which sprouted silicate crystals from lumps of various crystals.


In much the same way as referring to the bible many years after the philosophical period of its construction, seeing old 'science' from eyes new with a wider set of understanding often makes hilarity at the ignorance and narrowness of viewpoints of older writings.


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 02 Dec 05 - 06:58 PM

Here's an article called The Vagaries of Religious Experience that throws some light on the psychology of belief. The author describes an experiment:
    when experimenters approached people who were standing in line at a photocopy machine and said, "Can I get ahead of you?" the typical answer was no. But when they added to the end of this request the words "because I need to make some copies," the typical answer was yes.
His interpretation is that people crave explanations of unfamiliar occurrences or behavior, and the words "because I need to make some copies" satisfies that craving even though it doesn't tell them anything they don't already know. Similarly, the explanation "because God willed it" satisfies many people's curiosity about all kinds of phenomena, from "why do fossils exist?" to "why did I survive that earthquake?".

Incidentally, I found that article through The Arts & Letters Daily, which always has some interesting stuff.


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Dec 05 - 05:40 PM

No invisible means of support

The Bush administration


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: robomatic
Date: 02 Dec 05 - 04:19 PM

Religion (n) - The awe in which we hold our ignorance.


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: *daylia*
Date: 02 Dec 05 - 03:13 PM

bobad - I don't know about the euro, but I did discover that those odd characters surrounding "Belief" appear only when I use Wordperfect to draft my posts. And they do not appear on the "Preview" feature, but only after submitting the post for public view.

Hmm. So it appears that strange and unexpected characters surround "Belief", lurking unsuspected within certain communication programs.

Such "Word" programs are marked by an allusion toward "perfection".

Furthermore, theses strange characters which conglomerate around "Belief" may remain undetected until the moment that "Belief" is made public.

Fascinating! Ah, such wonders remain to be discovered, right here on the Cat    :-D


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: bobad
Date: 02 Dec 05 - 01:37 PM

daylia, are you making a statement about how you feel about the euro ?


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: *daylia*
Date: 02 Dec 05 - 01:24 PM

“Beliefâ€쳌 "Belief"


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: GUEST,*daylia*
Date: 02 Dec 05 - 01:11 PM

...If you DO change modify any of your long-established beliefs, do it because of what you think, not because you agree with me.

Well, I make it a point to avoid "Belief", long-established or otherwise.

Besides, the personal will / desire to know the truth + the energy and means to act upon that will / desire + all manner of continuous, ever-changing external conditions, input and influence (hey, even including *gasp* yours, Bill! :)   =   a personal point of view that adapts and evolves and changes just as naturally and readily as the rest of the universe.

If this were not so I may as well be dead, I figure.


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Subject: RE: No invisible means of support
From: Bill D
Date: 02 Dec 05 - 12:03 PM

*daylia*..." I find myself agreeing with you so much these days it's kinda nervewracking    ;-)"

go easy on your nerves..*smile*...If you DO change modify any of your long-established beliefs, do it because of what you think, not because you agree with me. Remember, we ALL would like to 'know' the answers to some of the questions our species has struggled with for thousands of years, and when certain answers are deeply embedded in our emotions and cultural heritage, it is hard to even begin to question or doubt. It is not necessary to totally reject one idea in order to explore another, especially when the older one just 'feels' more comforting!

    I tell myself that if there IS a 'supreme being who made and judges us', I sure hope he/she/it takes into account my attempts to USE the brain he gave me! I don't think I'd want to spend eternity with a God who expects blind obedience based on multiple interpretations of old texts. (and you ought to hear the mumblings and gasps from Jehovah's Witnesses when I tell them that! .

....and you know, if I could somehow prove that there was no Ultimate Truth and Divine Entity...etc., I'm not sure I'd want to show the proof to just everyone, as I can imagine the consternation and sadness it would create...*sigh*. All I want to do is encourage lots of critical thinking, and maybe we'll gradually get closer, as a race, to our potential.


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