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Posted on May 20 at 1:29 a.m.
Couple more things on the topic of religion:
The debate over which religion is the true religion is like a McDonalds rep debating a Burger King rep over which chain makes the true hamburger. They'll define their own parameters and say "the Big Mac is the true hamburger because we use special sauce" and "the Whopper is the true hamburger because it's flame broiled". Sound familiar? "Christianity is the true way because the Bible says so, and the Bible is true because god (of the Bible) says it is his word." Brilliant example of circular reasoning. Besides, many of the stories and themes of modern religious texts are lifted from cults and religions that predate them, just as with the ingredients and methods that go into making Big Macs and Whoppers were lifted.
The religious sometimes like to bring up whatever transcendental experiences they may have had as anecdotal evidence. "But Jesus talked to me or showed me something or other". The problem with this is not that that people have such experiences are necessarily crazy, but that transcendental or mystical experiences are not unique to any one religion. People from all religions have them, and simply project whatever religious template they've subscribed to onto them. People without religion have them too, they can be achieved through deep meditation, intense yoga, hallucinogens, near death experiences, etc. It is a human phenomenon.
On Reading, Writing, and Original Sin
Posted on May 20 at 1:01 a.m.
And by the way, "atheism" is a BROAD word. All it means is the absence of a belief in god/gods. That doesn't mean an absence of morals or guiding principles (or the uniformity of those principles). Besides, some people regard themselves as agnostics (but are lumped in with atheists anyway), and still others, such as myself, don't really want to be pigeonholed by labels (but are lumped in with atheists anyway).
Is the North Korean personality cult atheistic or theistic? Technically I think you could make the argument for both. Soviet Russia under Stalin wasn't entirely different. Trying to lump all "atheists" together is just a semantic game/rhetorical ploy that is dumb at best and disingenuous at worst. It is about as useful as trying to lump people who are neither Democrat nor Republican together under one ideology. It's hardly so black and white. Remember that labels are often very blunt tools.
Posted on May 20 at 12:33 a.m.
A couple of things:
In response to this question by SBMOMMY>>What do you do without faith and hope?
Faith and hope (and morality for that matter) don't require Christianity. There are many happy, honest, and deeply spiritual people who don't subscribe to any religious doctrine. When you look over the span of human history at the countless cults and religions that have existed, you can begin to see a common thread in what they offer: the illusion of certainty. Since the beginning human beings have been plagued by fundamental questions of existence: why are we here, what happens when we die, what is the meaning of life? The fact is, if one is being honest with oneself one cannot really answer these questions, and that is frankly scary for many people, thus they cling to what are ultimately fairy tales. Unfortunately, the inherent uncertainty of life also ends up being empowering for a lot of ugly, cynical narcissists and hedonists, who feel as though it grants them a free pass to live amorally. Which brings me to my point:
THERE IS A MIDDLE GROUND. People can be moral, faithful, and hopeful without elaborate magical stories and dire consequences held over their heads. It's called being in touch with your humanity, recognizing that love is more productive than hate, dialogue is more productive than violence, and that to be treated well one must treat others well. THE GOLDEN RULE. Live to love and love to live, in other words. You don't need to be a pot smoking hippie to understand and practice that. And the ironic thing is, that is basically what most religions boil down to anyway, when you cut through all the dogma and magic sky men.
The finger that points to the moon is not the moon!
PST:As far as atheism being intrinsically tied to communism, you are more or less correct. But that's because, as someone else said, authoritarian communist regimes necessitate a "blank canvas" on which to impose personality cults and/or strong and very embellished national myths, in place of religion, as a method of control.
On a somewhat related note, what is interesting to me is that, despite the US being a fairly Christian nation (and the most powerful country in the world), "godless socialist" countries in Europe, particularly the Dutch and the Scandinavian nations, rate far higher than the US on life expectancy and overall quality of life. Kinda begs the question "what would Jesus do?" I almost want to say I wish Christians would actually ask that question of themselves more, but it's clear that people will always project whatever they want into the sky and call it truth. Oh well.