Project 313 – Post No. 141

I’m writing this a few days before publication and I’m a tad annoyed. It will show in the following, I’m sure, as I usually work out of my annoyance with the use of many words. Feel free to skim or even skip. 

Let me back up . . . I have friends and family that consider themselves religious and/or spiritual. I dare say they are a reflection of the population; meaning, I know more religious and spiritual folk than people closer to my own beliefs because that’s the general makeup of the US population.

Thus, starting with my college years, I’ve met far more religious people than otherwise. Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Mormons, Jews, and variants thereof. I’ve always engaged them in conversations about religion but only if and/or when they brought up the subject.  

I truly and honestly don’t care what people believe but I’ll not shy away from discussing beliefs nor show unearned respect for any belief. Most friends eventually settle into avoiding the subject. Most strangers, too.

It’s because I know a fair amount about most religions and religious beliefs. Usually, more than the believers themselves . . . and (sadly) it often seems I’ve thought about it more deeply than most believers have. I’m not bragging; it’s because believers only focus on arguments supporting their belief and ignore inconvenient portions of even their own literature. 

It used to be impolite to bring up religion or even politics in normal conversation.

Unfortunately, that went out the window . . . not because people like me wanted to talk about it, but because religious people got more and more intrusive. 

So I started writing opinion pieces. Long before this blog, many discussions were had on various forums. Once I started this blog, I continued my occasional opinion pieces.

I’d like to avoid the topic — it’s not now nor was it ever a central preoccupation of mine and it usually damages my calm — then some fool religious person will say something in public or we hear of priests raping kids or of ministers robbing their congregations blind or of religious influences in politics and that sets me off again. 

In the past, I’ve had a few religious commenters engage me on this blog . . . and the result is always the same; they want to tell me their beliefs and prove those beliefs have value but they can’t defend them (they don’t have the tools). They can’t answer the simplest questions about what they believe so strongly that it affects how they live. (For the record, my lack of religious belief affects nothing I do . . . just like a lack of belief in Jedi Knights and the Force affects nothing I do.)

Personally, I don’t think they can. Defend their belief, that is; not in any meaningful way beyond whatever comfort it gives them. Want to know why? Because religious beliefs are anchored on a lack of scrutiny. Believers don’t critically examine their own beliefs; it’s part of the belief system not to question.

Those who do question, per my limited experience and the testimony of numerous ex-believers, have a high probability of becoming disenchanted with religion and regret the time they spent under its insipid spell.

Having beliefs directly challenged makes believers uncomfortable; FSM forbid, doubts might even spark in the periphery of what little thinking they do. 

It’s fine. Many people live lives of lies and they’re perfectly happy (or at least accepting) and it’s not my job to turn them toward the light of truth.

The thing is, don’t bring the lies here. You don’t like what I write? Well, you have a couple of choices . . . honestly discuss by meeting the challenge or leave.

But, if you want to discuss, you have to bring more than what I can hear from Deepak Chopra and his theories about mystic quantum forces. 

One argument I’ll accept is the following:
“Despite all reason, despite and contrary to all common sense, evidence, and what we know about the world, I have faith in the irrational; I chose to believe in something we can’t describe or know about.”

That’s a perfectly fine and acceptable reason for believers to believe; just don’t go beyond it. Don’t claim it as truth or valid for anything other than your own personal wellbeing. 

It’s not that I don’t understand that choice . . . it’s that I see no value in it. It’s not in my nature to accept things on faith. Especially, it’s not in my nature to will a personal belief in something I know lacks substance and is fundamentally flawed.

What’s the value of your belief if you haven’t explored the depth and breadth of everything implied by whatever you believe, both the good and the bad? What’s the value of your belief if you don’t know the history of it, how it changed through hundreds of years and where it contradicts the sum total of our ever-expanding knowledge? What’s the value of your belief if it’s used to pervert human progress, human ideals, and brings misery to millions?

What is the value of it if you can’t justify it even to yourself? It’s then no more than wanting to believe in fairy tales. I might respect it, I’m not impressed; the opposite, even. But, I’ll only respect it as long as it’s not affecting my life.

(Side note: sadly, all that also applies to politics.)

I’ll stress once more (and will repeat as necessary) you’re free to believe whatever you want. I’ll even defend your right to believe it. I’ll willingly listen to your beliefs but make specific claims and you’ll be challenged to explain exactly what you mean . . . 

. . . bread my FAQ; especially, this part:

1c) if, however, you hold and express beliefs not anchored in reason and rationality and you express them on my blog, prepare to defend them because they will be challenged.  Other than in extraordinary circumstances, I won’t be nasty, but I will be blunt. I say all that, and it sounds antagonistic . . . no; it’s just a fair warning; I’m old, I have little patience for wasting time, and I am frank with my opinions. Some people don’t like that. If you are one of them, stay away.

So, why am I annoyed? . . . because people don’t read the FAQ. Because people comment on my blog when they have nary a clue of what they’re talking about. They’ll make a statement and then refuse to expand, defend, or even justify it, retreating behind the cover of “live and let live” as if they’re the ones being somehow wronged by me challenging their naive, superficial, and misguided comments on this, my blog.

If you don’t have the tools or desire to answer a challenge to your convictions, don’t bring them here.

. . . my calm has returned . . . 

And now, the photo:

Project 313 141

A different interpretation of the basket with a mirror at the bottom. 

By the way, there are legitimate differences in points of views . . . 

. . . but they’re usually anchored in the real world and are quantifiable. Lard is a valid metric, after all. 

Of course, it’s the nature of humans to want, crave, and eventually fulfill their desire for “more” . . . 

. . . like, for instance, coming up with . . . The Stationary Vortex of Lights. What does that even mean? Readers would be justified in saying it’s just a bunch of dots in the shape of an inverted cone. 

The Stationary Vortex of Lights

And . . . that’s it

Some of these posts will likely be longer as the mood hits me, but most will be thus; short, uninteresting, bland, and relentless.

You can read about Project 313 HERE.

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

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