Second Hand Religion

The results of Christianity isn’t one that can be measured. It is personal conviction that struggles to put into words what the owner himself thinks is crazy. But, once you believe your own “personal” story, it open up a serious can of worms. The obligatory nature of meta-reality (testimony) now has to give validity to all perceived paranormal activity. It makes it possible, but makes it even more crazy. See, you can’t understand my own personal experience with god, but you are expected to believe my own personal experience from god (unless that experience is Muslim or Hindu or other) there’s where Satan lurks—in other countries.

Second hand religion is a system of believing the quirks of human neurology are divinely inspired. Reality is not only the simple answer, but also more interesting. The galaxy of electrical neurons in our heads occasionally misfire, shut-down, cleanse, reboot, and reroute. It a wonder we have any stability at all, but we manage to limp along with the occasional tic (some more than others). The grand-mal seizure, the head injury, the near death experience, the trauma, the crisis, divorce, loss of a loved one, etc, all put pressure on the neurons, which is gods way of introducing jesus to unbelievers. No, it’s not, but having open dialog about our quirkiness without invoking the supernatural could be an exercise in tremendous growth to answer the questions how and why.

The second, second-hand way to god is through lying. Carefully wording your story to inspire conviction in others causes another backfire in the confusion of our own neuroniverse. Why haven’t I had a visitation? Does god not love me? Am I not chosen? Am I doing something wrong? Am I a sinner? “I am not even worthy to latchet his shoes”. So, eventually through some type of herd instinct peer pressure we wind up praying for what we want. The neurological implications of praying for what you want to believe (in order to fit in) is a near guarantee you will get what you want. Prayer, deep consolation, meditation, group prayer (ugh, everybody hold hands) is at first a very uncomfortable and stupid feeling. Trust that instinct. But as you see around you, the smiles, the hugs, the tears, the joy of the dervish, compels you to want more, even though it’s a sickening display of self inadequacy and recurring shipwreck.

The third second hand is the tic, tic, tic, of your life passing you by living a system created by someone else, fine tuned by someone else, for someone else. As every institution grows it becomes more flawed, more corrupt. As it breaks down it naturally gets more outlandish as they try to hang on. Religion is way over due for an undo, but are we ready to be our own?

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Author: jim-

One minute info blogs breaking the faith trap.

102 thoughts on “Second Hand Religion”

  1. It’s all quite interesting how gullible man can be when he employs faith before knowledge. ~ Jim

    And how many of these men/women based on their “faith before knowledge” lead the young into faith without knowledge? Children thrown into situations without full consent, without full disclosure, without their own knowledge. Trusting that their elders know what the hell they are talking about.

    After the enormities of his youth, daddy finds jesus and first rule of business is to inflict it on his children. Daddy used his freewill and found god and took my freewill away. ~ Jim

    Powerful.

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    1. Exactly. Monsters, ghosts, fairies, santas, gods, spirits, devils, spells, religion, Santeria, myth as fact—jeezus christ! Zoe, deceived at every level in every culture that I know of. Why? What is the root of the deception? Satan? Lol. Thanks Zoe. It is a disturbing dilemma.

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  2. You are right, but I find it interesting and it’s like exercise for the mind. I enjoy it as long as it stays nice.

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  3. Why are we defending ourselves to those who believe? IMO, it really is a waste of time and energy. I am just coming off of 36 hours or so of staying away from word press, exhausted by the theology student I am talking to. I could prove the elephant in the room is grey, but he says it is pink so it is pink. Do we really need this, or is it that it feeds our egos to some hungry end. We pay back all believers for what some of them did to us twenty or more years ago. Is this really the people we want to be? We can tell ourselves we are trying to prevent them from torturing others, especially children, but are we protecting anyone?
    I don’t know, maybe I am just feeling the effects of my own exhaustion, but I really fear we are proving we are no better than anyone else. My hope is that I can learn to just ignore them, and worry about how I conduct my own life. That is strictly up to me. How others conduct their lives is up to them.

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  4. Interesting article but I found another article that shows rates religiosity with the percents of being important or not and I tracked the most authoritarian countries in that list.

    Contrary to what you stated, most are religious from around half to extreme.
    The exceptions are China and N Korea. To a lesser degree are Cuba, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.

    The vast majority were either Middle Eastern countries, which are heavily Muslim and African countries which are also heavily religious and a mix of Muslim and Christianity.
    So indeed the places most religious are also often the poorest and most authoritarian and keeps much of the world regressive, poor and a low quality of life and often a life lived in fear.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Importance_of_religion_by_country

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    1. I garnered the same info from the map Mary. It was confusing at first as I thought he might have something, but after a careful look, the map actually proves my point, not the other way around.

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      1. Loy, can you deny that women’s rights have been fought by religion? Can you see that it is religious minded people that discriminate against gay people? Can you see that it is religious people that fought marriage between different races? Can you see that children are the easily duped victims of superstition and make believe? Can you deny that children are indoctrinated with deception of every kind from the word go? From the top to the bottom religion is a problem that sets one group over another to divide with false information and piety, while in their private time they are no different than the heathen? Google clicks don’t lie. Most of the preaching is pretentious and fake, and is a superficial heiristic hypocrisy driving guilt and division and secrecy, but has no positive long term affect. It is a deception and a cop out to facing the reality of life and loving neighbors. The point is pretty clear that no matter what a study says, we have seen this play out in our lives and laid out in front of us. I used to be a part of it. Sorry if that came out a little heavy. It is an obvious dilemma religion is in when peace and love are just words. The actions are much apart.

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        1. @Jim: Even if some of your complaints were sometimes true against some religions, that tells us nothing about other religions in other circumstances. In so many words, they’re pre-posterously hyperbolic generalizations.

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          1. Which one? That is truly the nature of a religious discussion that has a near monopoly on the world and has fought social justice at nearly every turn. That makes a pre-postuoous generalization very pointed and accurate. Cherry picking the parts you like and dismissing the parts you don’t like as pre-postura is apologetics 101. Calling true statements out as you did is painting your own broad brush in denial of obvious.

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      2. One more point. I re read the Freedom house report and first of all it says NOTHING one way or the other about religion. Religion isn’t even mentioned. And the report doesn’t align with your views either. It aligns with no ones view, so you can’t say because it makes no correlation to my views, it means yours are correct. This is absurd. You are using a non sequitur for your claim.

        And just for anyone’s info, Freedomhouse is a conservative center right group. I googled it to find out, although this report appears totally unbiased.

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        1. @maryplumbago: The report is based on objective quantitative data about each country. The whole intent and purpose of the report, published by experts annually for many years and widely respected, is to expose the reality of oppression around the world so that it can be eradicated. If there were empirical evidence supporting your views about the relationship of religion and oppression, then for what possible reason would Freedom House withhold it? Isn’t the more likely explanation simply that your views are based on animus, not fact?

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          1. The report appears totally unbiased as I stated above and also, as I stated above, the report does not mention religion or any religious connection. So you are correct there.
            However, the correlation appears when you do look at a list of countries that are ranked by their religiosity and you can see plainly the connection in all but a few cases.
            Religious fanaticism has caused more death, pain and suffering than any construct of man to date and has been doing so since the dawn of man.
            If you can’t see this, it’s because of willful denial based on what you emotionally can’t let go off.

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          2. @maryplumbago: The “correlation” you imagine happens to align with your pre-existing views, and you don’t explain why a much more careful, detailed and unbiased analysis fails to even mention your hypothesis as a possibility. The situation speaks for itself.

            You say, “Religious fanaticism has caused more death, pain and suffering than any construct of man to date and has been doing so since the dawn of man.”

            That’s an empirical claim. What analysis can you point to that quantifies and compares the levels of death, pain and suffering from various causes? An analysis I mentioned earlier in this thread identifies history’s deadliest violent conflicts. That analysis shows that unremitting violence has happened throughout history, of course. And it shows that the worst known cases have little or nothing to do with “religious fanaticism”.

            https://m.warhistoryonline.com/instant-articles/casualties-war-ten-deadliest-conflicts-human-history-m.html

            In the Americas, for example, it is estimated that before the arrival of Europeans, an average group of indigenous people would have engaged in violent conflict with another group in nine years out of every ten. (Hint: Not due to “religious fanaticism”.)

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            1. In the Americas, for example, it is estimated that before the arrival of Europeans, an average group of indigenous people would have engaged in violent conflict with another group in nine years out of every ten. (Hint: Not due to “religious fanaticism”.)

              I didn’t find this in the article you linked, can you show where you got it from
              So even if the had tribal wars, how does that excuse actions of the europeans

              The crusades, the inquisitions, Boko haram, al-Qaeda, ISIS, the burning of “witches” and “heretics” at the stake are all what. The result of religious fanaticism

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  5. Trump, by using the far right evangelicals and fundamentalists, is trying to drag the US, religiously, back in time and you can see the result in the fervor of anti science, anti human rights, racism, bigotry, anti climate change and white supremacy that is plaguing our country once again.
    So yes religion is regressive and potentially destructive and dangerous.

    The Mideast alone is the perfect example of this. Religion stopped progress for them dead in their tracks in the eleventh century and they have never rebounded. Think about that…nine centuries of idiocy!

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    1. Pre 1979 Iran is a great example. Wonderful country thrown backwards 700 years by Islamic law. My only hope is it can disappear as fast as it ruined everything.

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  6. ‘the quirks of human neurology’ is an excellent way to put it. Back when I was involved with a fringe science research group we attracted a lot of, well, to put it crudely, loonies, who hadn’t yet figured out that that the group did serious investigations. One was a woman, a former fundamentalist Christian, who believed she was channeling the spirit of the commander (she insisted he was “retired”, I never did figure that one out) of massive fleet of starships out around Jupiter. Exactly what he wanted was never very clear, some kind of warning or advice or something. We tried to convince her to seek out some kind of help but I never did find out what happened to her. When we didn’t take her claims seriously she stopped emailing us.

    Come to think of it, she had about as much evidence for her claims as christians have for their belief that some kind of magic being impregnated his own mother to give birth to himself (if Jesus is indeed god, then he got his own mother pregnant with himself, a neat trick in anyone’s book) whom he then tortured to death in order to “save” his own creations, us, from being tortured in a hell he created because we didn’t pay attention to a set of ridiculously complex and often senseless rules he made up himself…

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      1. If you look at the two groups; the more extreme religious believers, and the more extreme ‘true believers’ in the fringe science areas, it doesn’t take long to notice that there is a strong resemblance in the behaviors of both groups. Both exhibit a total denial of the facts. Both refuse to accept any criticism of their beliefs. Both resort to personal insult and verbal violence (threats, accusations of criminal behavior, etc) when their beliefs are contradicted, and in the most extreme cases, physical violence. Both demand you accept second, third or fourth hand anecdotes as evidence. Both exhibit paranoia that ranges from mild to extreme. It doesn’t take long to begin to think that these behaviors are caused by the same mental issues. What really puzzles me is how society in general reacts to both of these groups.

        If I were to stand on a street corner and claim I was channeling the spirit of the commander of the Jupiter Fleet, yell at people, demand they believe me, insult and even threaten people if they didn’t believe me, I would be held for psychological examination.

        But if I were to engage in exactly the same behavior only now I claim that an obscure preacher who’s been dead for 2,000 years was really god, with no actual evidence to back it up except a bunch of ancient stories, claim certain people who don’t do what I tell them to do should be ostracized or even executed, that kind of behavior is ok because it’s “religion”?

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    1. And think about it..the story goes, Jesus was killed in a way that was the standard custom of the time and “supposedly” it only lasted three days and then he arose.

      Why didn’t he hang around longer to continue his activism for the poor and downtrodden? Went on to a cushy place never to be heard from again. From there on out…just threats that you better comply or else!

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  7. Religion, particularly any form of christianity, has been on its way out since before the time of Nietzsche, it just refuses to die a meaningless death. I would have to say the early missionaries did quite a number on the world, especially the preachers and priests who accompanied people like Marco Polo, Columbus, de Gama, Cook, Cartier, etc. They spread their lies to almost every corner of the world, and now we are paying the price.
    But refusing to die is just prolonging the agony.
    I am currently in discussion with an American theology student who firmly believes christianity and islam are not connected by the Old Testament. He is more than adamant his god and allah are two totally different beings. (After all, their names are different. That the words are the same, just different languages, has no bearing on the matter.) There is no convincing him of the truth, he does not want to hear it. But so it goes.
    Anyway, just thought I would give you my assurance, for whatever that is worth, that my theory of spiritual evolution predicts the final death of religion in about 2500 AD, if we make it that far. (Before Trump, the prediction was for about 2350. Amazingly, one man was able to add 150 years of continued belief! Is there one more man out there who can counteract the Trump Effect? Given the time frame, there might be, lol.)

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    1. I’d like to hear how you came to the year 2500 more or less. That’s 500+ years. Do you really think it will take that long? Or is this a statement in jest?
      And what do you mean by spiritual evolution?
      I’m serious about wanting your thoughts.

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      1. Hi Mary,
        Yes I am very serious, though how serious you think I am after you read what I am about to say, that will be up to you.
        When I look at life, I see a lot of connections others do not generally see. From the start of sentient life in the homo sapien species, I see that the IDEA or CONCEPT of gods, or spirit-beings, coming into being very early. There were so many things early people had to deal with, storms, lightning, thunder, wind, rain, drought, they were one stressed out bunch. But, being creative probably beyond their means and understanding, some crazy asshole decided to humanize all these different things that stressed everyone out, and probably he, possibly she, gave these things human qualities so that they were easier to understand, and less fearsome. Like people can be appeased by feeding them, keeping them safe, having sex, etc., these invisible spirits were sacrificed to in order to appease them, and by total coincidence they sometimes worked. Noticing this, some crazy lazy person started pretending he or she could talk to the spirits, and intervene to calm winds, bring rain for growing plants, and apologize to animals for having had to take their lives away. It was all a big scam, but it worked. The intervener became important in the tribe, and they were allowed to stay home while others went out to hunt and gather.
        I’m thinking you can see where I am going with this, but if you have questions please ask.
        Eventually a priest or priestess caste was created, and the first real human parasites became established. Depending on the language, all sorts of words and names were given to these invisible humans, which eventuated in pantheons, groups of theities, and even into monotheisms. The evolution of spirit-beings into gods into God follows a fairly straight line, if you are willing to look.
        (The difficulty with this is that being partially of European descent, I do not know much about the history of pantheons or gods in places like India and Asia, places where such things developed along similar lines, but that had a lot of differences too from the way things progressed in Europe and parts of the Middle East. Oriental religions, if I may call them that, allowed for reincarnation, whereas so-called Western religions went with the similar yet different idea of rebirth.)
        Still, almost everywhere on our world the idea of gods erupted, and evolved.
        Until atheism evolved, which rejected belief in a god or gods. Humans started to discover the traits that were supposed to exist only by virtue of the gods actually exist inside of us without any help needed from outside authorities.
        The question becomes: Is non-belief related to belief? And the unfortunate answer, so far, is yes, they are flip sides of the same coin. Without the idea of theism, there would never have been any need for atheism–it would never have been a concern. But the world does have theisms, and at various times they were very successful organizations, whether through quality or quantity, whether through fear or persuation. One of the advantages atheism has over theism is that atheism can be role-modeled without intention, while theism appears to be role-modelable only by intention. IN MY OPINION.
        Anyway, having seen this connection, as simple as it might sound herein, I investigated it, and yes, given the IDEA of god, evolution of the spirit works.
        (I have since developed this into spiritual atheism, but that can be found in my blog.)

        As to how long it will take to actually rid the world of christianity, and possibly other religions, I use my rudimentary psychic skills to find such things out. Being able to see patterns or connections others seldom see, I can look at something such as this, and a general idea will form in my head. I cannot prove anything, obviously, but depending on what it is it works more often than if does not. Generally it is about momentous occasions in the life of friends or acquaintances. I have predicted marriages, divorces, and deaths, but not births for some reason. Those usually happen in near-future times, and I try to avoid predicting them because my predictions could influence situations, or at least to me this seems to be the case. Anyway, when it came to creating a new world sans religion, the old idea used to be mid-2300s. Now, though, knowing what Trump is doing to the western world, when I talk about the changing of the world, the numbers that appear in my mind are early 2500s. Here, when I make such predictions publicly, I do hope I can have some influence on what actually happens. Unfortunately, I will never know.
        One thing of note, while I can feel dangers coming for me, or good fortune, l cannot predict such things as marriage, divorce, or death. Those avenues are totally closed to me. And I am glad they are!

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        1. Thank you for your answer. I can see how it all began with early cavemen and grew to what we see today.
          I’m not sure of what you mean by spiritual atheism unless just the sense of everything being connected on some level, which to me is explained by science. Perhaps a reverence for the cosmos and how we all indeed are made of star stuff. I can see that.
          I can only hope your prediction for the demise of the abrahamic religions, occurs earlier that you feel. I have serious doubts that humanity will last another 500 years with the rate we are destroying our environment and with hatred and exclusion on the rise.

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          1. At current growth rate if nothing changed, population estimates for 2500 would be 70-90 billion. About 35billion in 2300. Somethings got to give and the UN may know something we don’t, because the low estimate for 2300 is 2.3billion. That would mean a monumental catastrophe to make Christianity happy while waiting for the lord to return.

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          2. Hatred and exclusion are both on the rise, thanx to Donnie Dump Truck giving the evangelicals an outlet for their ugly voices. But barring all out nuclear war our Earth will still be around 1 million years from now. Whether humanity will be there, I cannot say, and really do not care. At present we do not deserve to be anywhere, IMO.
            But when I said spiritual atheism grew out of spiritual evolution, it was not as simple a journey as I made it sound. It was a fairly long process, one that is still being worked on today.
            When you say “we all indeed are made of star stuff” you come close, in a way. I cannot say it in just a few words, though I have tried, but it all starts with life, and for me the fact that all life is equal and the same, no matter the outweard form, or if it even has a form. Life for me extends beyond physical reality, far beyond, but includes physical reality as one step in an unknowable number of steps process. One thing it does not include is a god or superbeing running anything. That is the atheism part, the spiritual part is much more involved.

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        2. “Without the idea of theism, there would never have been any need for atheism”

          To the contrary, if you believe that man invented God, then you are saying that those who came before that event — our most primitive and ignorant ancestors — were stone-cold atheists (as are our primate cousins). The notion that atheism represents any kind of advance for civilization seems ludicrous.

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          1. The notion that religion represents any kind of advance for civilization seems ludicrous.

            Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion — several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven… The higher animals have no religion. And we are told that they are going to be left out in the Hereafter. I wonder why? It seems questionable taste.
            — Mark Twain, The Lowest Animal

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          2. Loy, historically faith has led to force. It’s a universal flaw in the system. Half the world lives this way now, and the other half used to. The reason it’s no longer working in the west is less religiosity, not more. This is the safest time in history to be alive and Christians keep saying with each generation that the earth is ripe for destruction and worse than ever before. Not true. Less religion= more peace. Religion spawns oppressive behavior. Christianity has its day, now we’ve all had enough.

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            1. I don’t see a connection with the point I made, namely that at the dawn of the human race, our most primitive and savage ancestors were all atheists like Richard Dawkins.

              Yes, over the course of history there has been too much religiously-based violence, but of course it pales in comparison to the unrelenting warfare over power and status, wealth and trade, territory, ethnic hatreds, revenge, jealousy, etc. etc.. All of that was going on in the Americas, for example, not so very long ago among peoples who to that point had never heard a word about Moses, Jesus or Mohammed.

              Christian and Muslim populations are projected to continue to grow faster than the total global population in coming decades, whereas other groups, including unaffiliated, will not keep up with overall population growth.

              http://www.pewforum.org/2017/04/05/the-changing-global-religious-landscape/

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            2. You said “it pales in comparison to the unrelenting warfare over power and status, wealth and trade, territory, ethnic hatreds, revenge, jealousy, etc. etc” -You are talking about religion in a nutshell Loy. Until very recently due to less religiosity, not more, we have gotten a break from the torment. Christianity is flat except impoverished countries, and Islam will overtake you by fertility within 50 years. The Abrahamic religious systems always lead to force when left to themselves. Not something I’d be rooting for even if I was a believer.

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            3. I am referring to the grass roots of religion and the individual, town and countries controlled by religion. No deflecting stats Loy, maybe some Christian will own the fact. After the enormities of his youth, daddy finds jesus and first rule of business is to inflict it on his children. Daddy used his freewill and found god and took my freewill away. It happened to me, it’s happening in MANY of my neighbors homes right now. It happened in virtually every hamlet where faith was administered by force. Not by an occasional masochist or an errant control freak zealot, but everywhere Christianity planted its roots was the same. You can’t excuse that fact by pointing out other atrocities. When abrahamic religion has taken hold, watch out.

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            4. Fair enough, I was responding to the statement “Less religion=more peace”.

              As we’ve discussed before, your experiences and observations relative to Christianity are so radically different from my own that I have to take your word for it. But I don’t think we can make broad generalizations from such weird anecdotes, can we?

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            5. Not sure it’s a weird anecdote when you look at now, statistically the safest time in the world to be alive, and by quite a margin. The world is less religious, more and more are leaving the faith and religions are the ruling class less and less. The places where religion rules are still the most oppressive by quite a margin. I struggle to see the anecdotal side to that.

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            1. In my case rg, it was immediate after ditching religion I actually had feelings for people again. My own feelings, not a lockstep dogma of divisiveness.

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            2. My point is simply that we should be clear about which direction we’re talking about when we say we want to ape (pun intended) our pre-civilizational ancestors. In plain language, that’s going backwards (way back).

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            3. Okay, but what is it you are really saying? That religion is an advance? It may have been at one time, but IMO that time is long past. People need to learn to be responsible for themselves. Religion took that responsibility away. It is time to take it back. At least that is my belief!

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            4. I understand your point here sir, and your proposal hinges on the choice between two ways. I would offer a third alternative, and that would be to tackle the big questions and deal with human quirkiness without employing the supernatural. If, and only if, that pointed to a god so be it. But not first and last pointing it to a god. When we succumb to the scripture as the final say, we fail in so many ways to progress, to reach new levels, and I just think we could do better.

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          3. Loy said: ‘The notion that atheism represents any kind of advance for civilization seems ludicrous.” I would argue that the exact opposite seems true. Almost all of the major scientific advances that have taken place over the past three thousand years were not because of religion, they were made despite religion. In many cases it required an over throw of existing religious doctrine for science to progress because the observation of the natural world that led to that progress contradicted religious teachings.

            We now know that lightning is an electrical phenomena caused by charged particles in clouds, not angry gods. We know that earthquakes are caused by plate tectonics, not the punishment of some petulant god. We know that disease is caused by viruses, bacteria and other factors, and not some kind of punishment by a jealous god. We know that mental illness is a disease that can be treated, and is not caused by the person being “possessed by demons”. Virtually every major scientific and medical advance made in the last few millennia required a denial of existing religious teaching to one extent or another, and people reaching beyond superstition to find the real reasons for the things we observed.

            If people had accepted religious teachings at their face value and refused to challenge them, we would still be hunter/gatherer nomads. So one could argue that the exact opposite of Loy’s statement is true. Atheism, or at least a willingness to challenge religious teachings, was essential for the advance of civilization.

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            1. @grouch: First, you miss the point of my comment. If religion is manmade, then atheism predates religion and clearly represents an earlier, far less advanced stage of human development. You would have to acknowledge that our most primitive and ignorant ancestors would have been stone-cold atheists, as are our primate cousins even today. (I’m using the conventional definition of atheism as an absence of belief.)

              You obviously know much more about religion than I do. For instance, I am not aware of a major religion that teaches that lightning and earthquakes are caused by “angry gods”. Or that diseases are punishment by a “jealous god”? Or that a person with mental illness is “possessed by demons”? Which religion(s) would that be? Can you kindly name them for our benefit?

              Granted, many people thought that way once in the absence of scientific explanations, but your claim is much stronger than that: You claim that some religion or other teaches the preceding as a matter of essential doctrine. Which of the world’s major religions do that, or did that, and what is your evidence? If “virtually every major scientific and medical advance made in the last few millennia required a denial of existing religious teaching,” then you will have no trouble providing concrete examples. You’ll need a lot more than Galileo to back up such a breathtaking claim.

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            2. You are not familiar with the Greek and Norse gods? With animism and polytheism? There’s probably 1000 examples for you. They had a god for everything. Surely you have heard of them. There was a god for nearly every natural phenomenon until it was explained by science.

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            3. Loy:
              “For instance, I am not aware of a major religion that teaches that lightning and earthquakes are caused by “angry gods”. Or that diseases are punishment by a “jealous god”? Or that a person with mental illness is “possessed by demons”? Which religion(s) would that be? Can you kindly name them for our benefit?”

              Oh, please, are you serious? Every time there is a major storm or earthquake or other natural disaster more preachers than I can count start ranting about the disaster being “punishment by god” for whatever “sin” they’re preoccupied with that week.

              If “virtually every major scientific and medical advance made in the last few millennia required a denial of existing religious teaching,” then you will have no trouble providing concrete examples. You’ll need a lot more than Galileo to back up such a breathtaking claim.”

              Now you are either deliberately trying to bait me or you refuse to learn simple history.

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            4. After the pretense of reason, this is where outright intent comes in. Loy sounds intelligent enough until now, and this is a deliberate attempt to deceive, or just plain dumb. Sorry Loy.

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            5. @Loy … you wrote: atheism predates religion and clearly represents an earlier, far less advanced stage of human development

              Says who?

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            6. The question is not whether pagan cultures associated natural phenomena with their “gods”, or whether even adherents of the major religions may have inclined toward superstition in the times when scientific explanations were not available to them. I already conceded that.

              But if you’re saying that animism, or Greek or Norse mythology, somehow had enough purchase to impede “virtually every major scientific and medical advance”, where is the evidence for that? (Please don’t malign the Greeks — as if Western civilization would be anywhere without them!)

              And with respect to any of the major religions, may I remind you of your claim that “in many cases it required an overthrow of existing religious doctrine for science to progress”. “Overthrow” is a strong word. If there are “many cases” where this happened, it shouldn’t be hard to enumerate them.

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            7. @Nan: That atheism predates religion is implied by the premise that man invented religion. That earlier stages of human development are less advanced than later stages seems self-explanatory.

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    1. Been about 4 years now. Once it started to become obvious it was like holding back the tide. It all unraveled pretty fast. Unbelief opened my eyes in so many ways it would be an awfully long comment.

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        1. Dialog is good. The most interesting thing to me was the near absolutes. Every part of faith is propped up with volumes of excuses, while a basic observation shows endless contradiction. And, as Ayn Rand said, when you see a contradiction, check the premise. At least one is wrong, if not both. Take the simple catch phrases if Christianity, like god is love. Show me where? I can show you a world of opposing examples. God is merciful? That’s another we see endless examples of no answered pleading or help in any way. It’s all quite interesting how gullible man can be when he employs faith before knowledge. Curious though to hear something you disagree with. I don’t typically post anything I can’t see the obvious about. You?

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            1. So how do we know “god” gave us free will? There are quite a few contrary conclusions to that statement as well as multiple neurological studies that say otherwise. I tend to land somewhere in the middle of the freewill debate myself, but studies show that your brain has decided what your going to do as much as ten seconds before your aware of the thought. There is much more on this but very far from an answer of clarity.

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            2. So if you brain has decided what you are going to do, that should still be deemed ” free will” should it. Your brain belongs to you and not anyone else. Or are you being deep and say it receives subliminal messages from others…..
              I do like the theory that the brain has made a decision before we realise. So thats free will but our sub conscious knowing about it before our conscious mind?

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            3. I am sorry you are being attacked. Given that you seem to be open to learning and discussion I don’t know that this entire conversation has been as productive as it could have been.

              I encourage you to check out some of Sam Harris work on free will. There are several youtube videos where he gives short talks, but I encourage you to read his short book on the matter if you are interested in a more in depth discussion and learn why free will might very well be an illusion.

              I think it’s generally quite clear give what we know about various brain injuries and maladies that lead to behavioral changes that even if there was free will it certainly isn’t absolute. We are most certainly limited in our choices given the environment we grew up in. Quite simply there are choices we can’t even make if we don’t know there are possible to make. So the extent to which are will is free is at the very least constrained by our experiences.

              Consider also that when we make choices it is our consciousness that makes us aware of that decision, but neuro-imaging experiments have demonstrate that the decision to do something actually happens in the brain before we consciously become aware of it. There is certainly some disagreement about some of the details within the community of those that study the brain, but no scientist who studies the brain thinks that our choices of what to do in any given moment are 100% free. I person who is born with a psychopathic brain and experiences neglect and trauma as a child is almost guaranteed to become violent. There is scores of neurological data on this point and I encourage you to check it out.

              You are right that all people should be allowed to have an opinion, but that doesn’t mean all opinions are equal. Never make that mistake. There is a great deal of research into the topic of free will so it is a topic in which we can certainly say certain opinions are less valid than others.

              If on the other hand you wanted to have a discussion about the best flavor ice cream. All opinions are equal in that case (really though peach is the right answer). 🙂

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            4. Thank you Swarn. I felt the entire thing was just a misunderstanding. It is hard to sit back and see things unfold the way they did amongst people I truly respect. Thanks for the freewill tips. It in itself is a fascinating study.

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            5. Yeah, it’s pretty interesting stuff. And I think Sam Harris is correct in saying that the assumption that we have absolute free will is so ingrained into so many of your belief systems and institutions that challenging the notion is actually much harder for people to accept than even evolution.

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            6. Freewill has a nice ring to it, but one exposure to pure logic about it really throws it all into question. Every avenue of thought is contradicted by it, and much easier for Christians to accept since overlooking contradiction is basically a way of life.

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            7. Well I mean it’s completely normal I think to understand why we think we have free will. It’s a persistent illusion. It’s much stronger of an illusion than thinking the sun goes around the Earth. As we learn more about how the brain works, develops, and the effects of consciousness this was the bridge we needed to cross to be able to tear down another one of our illusions, just as very careful observations of the skies were needed to disprove the geocentric theory.

              But I completely agree with you, that in a religious context the idea of absolute free will contradicts directly with the idea that everything happens according to God’s plan. You quite simply can’t have it both ways. How Christians make it work is really beyond me!

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            8. Lol. It is a strange phenomenon. I have a line in my post today about this, only the opposite “placing Christians in an awkward stance of non-contradiction”. Lol. At a primary level, they don’t have any straightforward beliefs that have consensus outside of faith. Really quite remarkable.

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            9. That is the crux of much of the freewill debate. Everybody is a pawn to their upbringing, influences, oppressors, and so forth. You may be able to decide some things, but what caused your decision is out of your hands. Sam Harris said “Take a moment to think about the context in which your next decision will occur: You did not pick your parents or the time and place of your birth. You didn’t choose your gender or most of your life experiences. You had no control whatsoever over your genome or the development of your brain. And now your brain is making choices on the basis of preferences and beliefs that have been hammered into it over a lifetime – by your genes, your physical development since the moment you were conceived, and the interactions you have had with other people, events, and ideas. Where is the freedom in this? Yes, you are free to do what you want even now. But where did your desires come from”?

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            10. I get the irony of Mary’s statement. We have freewill as long as our circumstances say we don’t, or as long as there’s no madman present. Universal freewill would be quite the contradiction in that light. The freedom to choose cattle car A, or cattle car B, is also just a choice presented to us by circumstance out of our making. Our entire life we are given two choices between conflicting dogmas that are both wrong, and all of us are products of things beyond our control or making. You have a choice, but where that came from was not our choice.

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            11. When people live under dire circumstances it doesn’t matter if free will is a reality or not. Either way they don’t have a choice to change their circumstances. Only a god, if one were to exist (which I don’t believe) and one were to be a personal god, could affect a change for them. They are stuck.

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            12. I guess I could have said children in Aleppo, the Rohingyas and various people abused in Syria. God is the one with the free will to change all this at anytime he chooses, but he chooses not, so the people suffer unbelievable horrors through no fault and no choice, free or otherwise, of their own.

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            13. No – its down to us to decide whether to change it or not. Why should God tell us what to do or worse, change things for us? What you are saying is that if he sees something despicable, then he should wade in and change things. We would be nothing more than robots without any free will then. Even worse…
              Strangely enough, when I visit Townships in South Africa, I find them all with a strong faith. Now explain why that should be, when they live in diabolical surroundings. Perhaps its because they dont blame God for their mis fortune, but man!

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            14. Or perhaps they believe in the fairy-tale that so many others do and “trust God” that things will improve. Wonder how that’s going …

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            15. I love your cynicism Nan. You are obviously satisfied with your life otherwise you wouldn’t be so venomous. HAHA BTW , there was an interesting feed on SA – Good News, I will try to find the link and send it. South African people – well lets be specific, Black South Africans are not stupid enough to believe in fairy tales. They have a tough life, but the most important thing for them is they smile – have hope and are just grateful. You should try it… may change your attitude. Or, of course you can go on sucking that lemon!

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            16. really?.. it seemed to follow on the thread. However, if I have made a mistake and you were commenting about some other remark, then I am more than happy to ” offer the other cheek” and mind my own business. . We are polar opposites anyway, regardless of faith, so I bid you a pleasant day and will say Au revoir

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            17. What I also feel, dear Nan, is that I dont mind whether people believe or dont. I just feel we all should have an opinion and be entitled to think what we want. Debate is great but I have the feeling you are trying to browbeat others to think your way. . You, however, feel that if people done subscribe to your way of thinking they are stupid. Along with free will, you also seem to be advocating losing the ability to allow us to think for ourselves and to allow other people the decision to do what they wish.

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            18. Your attack on Nan proves your inability to think rationally and your small mindedness and your propensity towards meanness.

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            19. BTW Nan, I have just read your Blog rules. It seems to me to be a case of one for your readers and one for yourselves. Hey ho…

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            20. In terms of what you just wrote, I think everyone is getting caught up in where they disagree and missing where everyone likely agrees. So I’ll quote the most important statement I think everyone should be focusing on:

              “Its [sic] down to us to decide whether to change it or not.”

              If a God doesn’t exist then it’s still up to us to make the world better, if a God does exist, but has given us freewill to do good and evil, and mostly fix our own problems, then well it’s still up to us.

              However, in terms of the freewill question, which I generally like to avoid, even if we don’t have freewill I think it’s necessary for our existences to act as if we do or believe we do in the sense that I am capable of making choices and am responsible for those choices.

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            21. One thing I’ve realized since losing my faith, for me personally, without belief nothing changed. I’ve been going it alone my whole life and will continue as such. It is obviously completely up to us and always has been. Certain people think god is going to fix things so why worry. Why conserve, get what you can. Soon we’ll live in a cesspool and no god will fix that either. The time is now. Thanks CR

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            22. Why wouldn’t a god step in if he sees something despicable happening to those he professes to love?
              And people without hope and in dire circumstances will default to a god out of desperation not reality. It is a hope born of desperation.

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            23. I think the option you gave here for god to wade in and fix it goes against the Christian Gods M.O. of tinkering subtly in the human condition. He could fix this by anonymous miracle of sorts and no one would be the wiser. He is god after all. Not too complicated.

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