Sunday With My Thoughts – On Religion

Continuing my new thing I’m sure will be welcomed by few-to-none; dispersing my opinions.

Here we go . . .

 

Religion: rationalization
I’ve had a few discussions of late with people who proudly point out they are not like “regular” religious folks; they take what they deem useful and moral from the teachings of religions, and adapt it to their own lives while discarding the rest.

I spoke to this before, so I won’t go into it too deeply here but . . . 

If you can come up with your own moral code, can make a determination of what makes sense  and is steeped in human decency and good will, whiskey tango foxtrot do you need a god for?

Honest, folks, if you can rationalize away most of the wacked-out-bat-shit-crazy baggage religions carry around, go that little extra step and recognize your responsibility as a human being living in a human society as sufficient a basis to arrive at ideals and morals anchored in compassion and empathy; no god is needed.

Unless, of course, you still want to hang on to that whole “I’ll live forever” stuff . . . but then you would have to explain a new scenario as to how that might happen, your reasons why you think so (aside the vapid ‘I wanna’), and most of all, your vision for the afterlife.

I mean, I’d like to live forever . . . as me. I’m not interested in living in someone’s wet dream idea of an afterlife, possibly as no more than ‘pure energy’ – whatever that is. You see, I like salami and cheese sandwiches, and I’m pretty sure pure energy has no taste buds.

 

Religion: hypocrisy
People might already know me and religions don’t see eye-to-eye. All religions.

At the core of religions there is a desire to control, to subjugate, to impose one’s will onto others, and do so beyond the reasonable impositions relating to living as social beings among other humans.

Rather, religions drift more to arbitrary rulings based on myopic and twisted views of How The World Should Be by self-styled ‘leaders’ who are little more than deeply flawed human beings.

But the hypocrisy I want to speak to is not that of religion in general, but that relating to a narrative that has crossed my path in recent weeks.

Specifically, the Christian narrative of condemning the whole of Islamic religion because of the actions of radical Muslims.

Let me be clear about this; as far as religions go, Islam is one of the worst. It’s not because of radical Muslims; Islam sucks across the board. But so does Christianity, only marginally less than Islam. The reason is that Christians mostly gave up physical barbarism years back (kicking and screaming, the majority did, even as a few still call for it).

There are religious folks – Christians and Muslims – who are decent folks, live decent lives, and at most can be charged with not thinking things through, opting instead to rationalize barbaric and ass-backward superstitions into codified manuals they hope will lead them to be, and live as, decent human beings.

Within the ranks of all religions, one can find a wide range of religiosity, from the casual to the fanatic. In other words, religious ranks are made up of the same cross-section that makes up the human race, from decent folks to psychopaths.

That said, I happened to catch some of the Fox News pundits arguing that Islam as a whole should be held to blame for the actions of those who take to the literal interpretation of the Koran. Part of their reasoning is the lack of outcry from moderate Muslims.

Well, if that ain’t the epitome of the pot calling the kettle black!

Where are the outcries by moderate Chirstians for all the shit perpetrated by Christians in the name of Christianity? From denial of basic rights, to oppression of women, to child molestation, to demonstrations holding signs that homosexuals should die, to lobbying for draconian laws to kill homosexuals, to the actual killing of homosexuals, to the willful spreading of falsehoods regarding disease and safe sex resulting in the death of millions, to the literal burning of witches? 

I’m talking to you Sean Hannity, Megyn Kelly, and Bill O’Reilly. I actually heard Hannity berate a Muslim cleric for Islam’s treatment of homosexuals. Are you foxtrotting kidding me!? 

Another instance has Megyn, straight-faced, ask why the majority should listen to the minority, and why the minority (a.k.a. atheists) should have any rights. This is from a lawyer (honest; that’s what her bio says). 

I don’t have the room or time to list Bill’s inane and often insane stuff about religion. The guy makes up his own stuff, much like I mention above, but, you know, more stupid-like.

Some people think those three are idiots who are incapable of recognizing logical fallacies, inconsistencies in their message, and are just plain dumb when it comes to facts.  

But I don’t; I think they are smart and know exactly what they are doing, making them the worst kind of ideologues; lying bastages who hope the people listening have their brains on park. 

Sadly, more than half of the time their hopes are well-founded.

Addendum: let me plug the book “Killing History: Jesus In The No-Spin Zone“, by Robert Price. It’s a rebuttal, by an actual Bible scholar, of O’Reilly ghost-written “Killing Jesus”.

Not that his listeners are actually interested in facts and no-spin (despite the tag line of Bill’s show), but maybe, just maybe, one of two of them might take it upon themselves to do some fact-checking. Nah! . . . but the book is an entertaining read even for people whose eyes are open.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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19 Responses to Sunday With My Thoughts – On Religion

  1. And you are looking for an argument? Not that I know who your protagonists are, I may or may not look them up, depending on my desire for depression tonight. But I despair at the lack of rational thinking.

    I would like to live forever too, well sort of, I mean I don’t want to die just yet. But, as I am a bad heathen, I’m off to eternal hell with a load of fun people, so where’s the problem?

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  2. oneowner says:

    I hate to break this to you but I have actually met God. He told me he was God and I believed him. His name was Sgt. Ryan and he was my boot camp trainer in the Air Force. That was over 40 years ago and I think he’s still in San Antonio training Airmen.

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  3. A man after my own heart, I have taken the liberty of repressing this without your approval but what the Sierra, perhaps you’re a re-incarnation of Mr J. Christ, the voice crying in the wilderness that is the US of A. the land of holy rollers :)

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    • disperser says:

      I had a good laugh . . . repress: to subdue, often by force.

      Seriously, I prefer for people to just link to my stuff, although, truthfully, I’m not sure what ‘repressing’ does.

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    • disperser says:

      OK, I looked it up. “Press this” essentially copies the content of the post to one’s own blog, which I would not approve.

      HOWEVER, I checked your blog, and all you have is a link back to my blog, which I both approve and appreciate. Thanks.

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  4. I appreciate you sharing this. What you said has helped my refine my thoughts.
    My thinking about religion(s) has changed drastically over the past ten years. I feel like that “journey”, for me, is coming to an end. Now, I have to figure out how to deal with all the religious people in my life…and in the world. I know my thoughts would not be taken well by them.
    HUGS!!!

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    • disperser says:

      You could do what I do . . . I remove from my life any person who will not respect my views, or holds me in contempt because of them.

      Honest, you’ll be better off because of it, and their loss will be much greater.

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  5. colonialist says:

    Interesting reflections. Of course, I regard (true) atheists as being a lot dimmer even than the savages who believe in the great god Runga Wunga who lives inside the moon and snacks on sinners. As for the misuses of religion – that is human nay-sure which regards it as the ideal pretext for exerting power and committing dirty deeds generally. However, denial of the life-force called ‘spirit’ by some, and of all the evidence of a directing and purposeful intelligence, does not strike me as good thinking. Nor does being content to accept oodles of gen on how things work, without really trying to figure out why.

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    • disperser says:

      Not sure about “true” atheists . . . it implies there are atheists who believe in god. I’m skeptical of that statement.

      I’m what someone would call a “hard atheist”. I don’t hold a belief in god (atheism), but I go a bit past that. I do believe the very concept of god is a human invention (we can, after all, trace the origins of all modern religions), and as such does not merit any consideration, especially given the number of gods that are roaming around out there.

      I suppose some may take a dim view of that, and by extension may see me as dim. And here, I thought I was an above-average Disperser.

      The second part of the comment gives me some pause. I see no evidence of anything . . . maybe I am dim? . . . but one also may want to consider how much of one’s belief is driven by ‘wanting’ for it to be a directing and purposeful intelligence.

      Mind you I don’t care if such beliefs help others deal with the crap that befalls them in their short travels in this thing called “life”.

      But, as I stated often and loudly . . . unfounded belief is to me the equivalent of a marriage based on a lie. Believers to me seem very much like a battered spouse who is willing, sometimes desperately so, to believe that the previous beating was the last, that things will work out, that the cheating will stop, that their partner does in fact care for, and loves them . . . despite all the evidence to the contrary.

      But, beyond that, there is the arrogance of the idea . . . were there really a directing and purposeful intelligence, it’s obvious it’s directing me to strongly disbelieve its existence.

      I guess it’s having sport with me, and just providing believers with a convenient target they can characterize as “dim” even as they bask in the glow of their own understanding and knowledge.

      Clear thinking is an interesting characterization on its own . . . we can see literally thousand of years of “clear thinking”, as defined by people who were sure of their position, their reasoning, their imaginings.

      In all that time, the only position that has ever borne out is that of the unbeliever. Over, and over, and over . . . who knows, maybe believers are due for knocking one out of the park (baseball analogy) with some new insight, but I’m rooting for the other team.

      . . . mostly because if there is a directing and purposeful intelligence, it’s the epitome of jerkness, bordering on being psychotic. Why would I want to hope for it to be there, jerking us around?

      Usually, when I say that, someone will point to a mysterious plan that will eventually reveal all . . . and that’s the crux of the argument . . . how is that any different than chaos? What comfort can humans derive from some plan that does not involve them in any discernable way. Sure, if you are fortunate, you can always say DAPI is looking out for you. If your life is crap, you can say DAPI has plans for you.

      That, to me, is indistinguishable from the concept of god, and in fact, it looks like people took the idea of god (an idea that if one begins to explore in depth soon becomes ludicrous), and substituted something else (hence the whole New Age movement).

      But really, looking from the outside in, it all looks the same to me. If someone can dismiss the Roman and Greek gods (a few believers persist), they should be able to dismiss all gods for the very same reasons.

      They say those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it . . . except that humans in the present have a tendency to dismiss humans in the past as being backwards, not understanding, self-deluded . . . I have no doubt future generations will think us the same; I just have a bit of a head start.

      But then, I’ve always been precautious.

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      • colonialist says:

        I don’t think you quite entered my wavelength on this.
        I certainly don’t think humans are much more than fleas in a cosmic sense, and the belief of many that they are the only intelligent species other than a god who has modelled the universe for their beneifit is manifestly absurd. In fact, our data processing systems and awareness are pathetically limited and we probably have little concept of what true intelligence is – other than the fact that it is evidenced in the running of things under the ‘natural’ laws.
        A true atheist believes in no higher power, no purpose, and no point in anything. Everything is an ongoing accident. There is therefore no point at all in being moral or ethical or doing anything except to have as good a time as you can in the limited time you have. The minute anyone departs from that, they are locked in a paradox.
        Why does evolution strive towards progression? Why do cycles of being indicate upward spirals? Why isn’t everything simply sitting in a solid stasis? Where there is purpose, there must be reason.
        Oh, and the supernatural. Anyone can burble until they are blue in the face about ‘no evidence’ – that is simply because most of these manifestations are random and not subject to empirical testing. That in no way indicates that they do not exist. They may simply be yet more ‘natural laws’ not yet fully grasped, but the experences of too many (self included) are too numerous for the ideas to be dismissed.
        God concepts are tailored to the understanding of the individuals. That is why you get these fundamental (so mental nobody should fund them) twits, but – and I repeat – at least they have stemmed from those who have sought reasons for existence and for the purpose manifest in all that does exist.. The type of atheist who makes no attempt in that direction is the one I tend to regard as mentally retarded.

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        • disperser says:

          Well, I’m not sure you’ll listen to what a retard has to say, but let me throw a few things out.

          “A true atheist believes in no higher power, no purpose, and no point in anything. Everything is an ongoing accident. There is therefore no point at all in being moral or ethical or doing anything except to have as good a time as you can in the limited time you have. The minute anyone departs from that, they are locked in a paradox.”

          Interesting . . . however, just a quick search of the internet would get you a whole lot arguments refuting that faulty logic. In my own words, certainly not as eloquent as Harris or Hitchens (for instance) because, you know, being retarded and all, I probably have no cogent thoughts, but here’s how I figure it . . . there is no paradox to wanting to help others, love my wife, be as nice a guy as I can be because it’s logical, it makes living on this shit rock a tad easier, and most of all because if I needed an outside reason or agency to not be an asshole, why then, chances are I would be an asshole, but working to disguise it because of this supposed higher power or purpose.

          You see, it wouldn’t be me helping others, not lying, not stealing, not trying to hurt others . . . well, it would be me, but I would be doing it for the wrong reasons; reasons that, according to you, originate outside myself.

          I got to tell you, in my book that ain’t worth spit.

          The way I figure it, if a human does not have it in them to, you know, act human, why they are then no better than a dog that has to be trained, has to learn to obey the rules, has to learn when to shit and pee, and is dependent on its master for telling it what it can and can’t do.

          Is that what you think humans are? Incapable of figuring out basic decency, ethics, and morality? Sad that.

          But, I still don’t know, and have not read in your writing, of this higher power, this directing intelligence, and most of all, what purpose I’m supposedly missing.

          Oh, being retarded has its limitations alright; but, as most humans I know, I want to improve myself , , , I would love to learn about this purpose you hint at, but don’t explain. Or is this yet another case of “someday we’ll know”?

          As for the supernatural, it is always convenient to claim only certain people are witness to it, or only certain people can perceive it, or ‘of course it can’t be studied; it’s supernatural’.

          I could point out that unexplained occurrences are exactly that . . . invoking the supernatural to explain something does not make any sense to me, precisely because it does not explain anything. Not a damn thing.

          It could, after all, be anything, from someone being mistaken, to someone’s perceptions being fooled, to something as simple as an hallucination.

          People are very good at both fooling themselves, and at being fooled. There’s whole industries specifically geared to take advantage of those very traits, and even as the practitioners admit to it, believers will still swear up and down about ‘real’ powers.

          History is full of such beliefs, and the evidence – evidence, not conjecture – is against them.

          You speak of personal experience – without knowing anything about it, I will guess your conviction stems from the fact you cannot think of (or accept) another explanation for what you think is an extraordinary event or instance in your life.The fact you cannot think of it does not mean there isn’t one.

          However, when it’s all said and done, if your beliefs give you comfort, and if those beliefs do not originate any actions that harm others, more power to you.

          As for me, I’ll go my retarded ways, relying on logic and reason, seeking explanations for the unknown, and expecting those explanations to be anchored in science and knowledge derived from the rigid application of same.

          That has always been the underlying engine for humanity’s advancement; the building on previous knowledge, the standing on the shoulders of our ancestor’s discoveries even as superstition and fears based on ignorance sought to tear down and destroy the hard-fought gains we made in understanding both ourselves and the universe around us.

          Because I’m retarded, I rather know myself and those around me, as opposed to guess undisclosed purposes based on fantasies; I rather learn the truth as opposed to favor fantasy, and I rather be the agent of my own destiny than the puppet to some imagined intelligence.

          Understand, my main objection with all sorts of weird imaginings and professed destinies is very simple . . . while I am perfectly happy to let others believe what they will, but those beliefs give agency to believers, and that agency invariably claims not only the right, but a mandate to tell others what to do. My experience is that is never good.

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        • colonialist says:

          Wish time permitted me to respond in the depth this deserves. Humans do in fact behave like little animals in childhood, and like animals require socialisation. Whether this takes the form of fear of God or fear of Dad and Mom ‘right’ actions are inculcated rather than instinctive. Subsequent behaviour is based on teaching/example/experience.
          As for the supernatural – what I have personally experienced or had recounted to me by those I trust implicitly can be explained only by taking the possible and replacing it with the wildly improbable. Things like telepathy, precognition, awareness of ‘atmosphere’, poltergeists, UFOs and apparitions. I still don’t ‘believe’ in them, but I do look for the natural basis which is no doubt there somewhere. In other words, such things, when one knows they do happen, are in need of an explanation – and not the goofy ‘every UFO is a weather balloon’ kind of one.
          You also have a belief system. You believe there is no god. Atheists also have no proof of that, so they are also following a religion of sorts if they are dogmatic in such belief and in fact parade it. ‘Can’t prove there is one, can’t prove there isn’t one’: these are arguments doomed to failure.
          You also prove the universal purpose by displaying purpose and drive yourself as does everything there is – perhaps we are all part of a universal intelligence or ‘god’ – I certainly can’t buy the guy sitting up there bit. So, again, if there is purpose, there must be reason. Speculation on what that may be in full acceptance of all that science teaches us is, to my mind, the most enlightened form of tackling philosophy and religion.

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        • disperser says:

          Really, with all due respect, I tire of people telling me what I do and don’t believe. It not only shows a singular lack of respect, but also a certain hubris underlying one’s own perception of the universe, one’s own understanding of life, as not only superior, but beyond doubt.

          I welcome one and all to question my beliefs (actually, opinions – beliefs are unswayed), and do so based on a mixture of logic, evidence, and reason.

          No one would point at another person and state, in a self-assured and smug tone “that person holds a belief that there is no Santa Claus” or “that person has a belief system based on The Force being made up fiction”. They just don’t believe, as I am sure you hold no belief in certain things (including, if I am reading it right, Zeus, Apollo, and any of the other thousands of gods invented through oral and recorded history), adhering to a different understanding of your world.

          The term belief is itself a weighted word, carrying a lot of baggage, but we are stuck with it. But just because we are, there is no need to assign more to its meaning than what a person says.

          For me, I equate belief to faith, so if you prefer, I have no faith in gods, the supernatural, universal directing or non-directing intelligence. I am perfectly fine with the idea the world is as we see it, the result of chance. That does not mean I am absolved from having consideration to my loved ones, fellow humans, and the world I live in.

          Conversely, having faith does not hold oh-so-many people from doing harm and going against everything taught by their expressed belief/faith.

          There is really such a thing as no belief system, or lack of belief, in any number of concepts without having to go the extra step and proclaiming lack of belief is a belief system in itself.

          Perhaps the distinction is subtle, perhaps too nuanced for people who ascribe to certain understanding of the universe, especially when that understanding includes assumptions about what is, undeniably, unknown.

          The thinking, as near as I can tell, fallows the all-too-well-traveled path of “I don’t know what/why that is. Since I can’t explained in my currently limited understanding of things, it must be some grand agency/purpose”.

          Why assume agency instead of “I don’t know”? After all, your own explanations sit squarely in the nebulous range; you can’t name it, can’t state its purpose, can’t explain how it works . . . the best you can do is perhaps hint at some unknown “natural” law, but even that word has baggage, and difficult to define depending on its use.

          Again, “I don’t know” seems a perfectly useful and complete answer. If one wants to take it any further, one could add “let’s go find out what it is”.

          From where I sit, that sounds reasonable enough . . . going the extra step and assigning and invented agency to events, situations, phenomena seems to me a uniquely human drive, one that is very well understood, but is, in my view, the antithesis of useful.

          Apparently, I and those like me are in the minority; something happens, and people want to know not only the why, but if there is any significance to it, and if so, what that significance is to them personally and perhaps to humanity in general.

          We tend to look for symbolism in everything, but as the Freud attributed quote goes, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”.

          . . . perhaps things, in the grand scale of things, are just unfolding, period.

          Humans, however, go the extra step. We are both pattern-seeking animals, and the agents of some of our destiny. Thus, when things go our way, it’s luck. When things don’t go our way, it’s bad luck. Some go the additional step in attempting to affect “luck” by various rituals or talismans.

          Even at its most general, planets orbiting the sun, there is the desire for some to find meaning. Some actually work out the laws of orbital mechanics, while others attribute those same laws to a grander scheme. Some even attribute the motion of the stars to events unfolding in their own lives, and no amount of reasoned arguments will sway them from it.

          Ultimately, the universe is what it is. Fire burns, water flows, air moves, and we live and die. I just don’t see a reason to make it any more complicated than it is.

          As far as continuing this discussion, I agree; it is pointless. Language itself limits the amount of communication relating to what’s in our mind, our understanding of the universe, the understanding of our place in it, and whatever role we assign to ourselves.

          My one and only reason for even commenting on it is, as I keep repeating, because all manners of belief systems spring up, and the vast majority of them are the basis for most of humanities atrocities and sorrows, if not directly, often by proxy, both in action and inaction.

          This little corner of the universe is me telling others to “stop it!”

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