Friday, October 17, 2008

Christianity and Perception

"You never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion. Dogs do not ritually urinate in the hope of persuading heaven to do the same and send down rain. Asses do not bray a liturgy to cloudless skies. Nor do cats attempt, by abstinence from cat's meat, to wheedle the feline spirits into benevolence. Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly. It is the price he has to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, quite intelligent enough."
-Aldous Huxley

“Faith means not wanting to know what is true.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

"Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything."
- George Bernard Shaw

"If you would be a real seeker after truth,
it is necessary that at least once in your life
you doubt, as far as possible, all things."
- Rene Descartes

"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wiseman knows himself to be a fool."
-Shakespeare, “As You Like It”

“Learn to think before you believe, or you’ll soon believe that you don’t have to think.”
-St. Brian the Godless

Christianity and Perception

I’ve told this story before, but not in this venue. I call it my “Soap Cherubs” story.

Oh, stop groaning…

“When I was ten my family used to talk about these two prized Italian carvings of cherubs that they had, hand carved in great detail out of soap. Being Italian themselves, they were rather proud of them.

One day I carefully dabbed some water on my finger and tested a wing. It didn't feel soapy at all. I then noticed mold marks. And a label "Made in Japan" on the bottom. I carefully bent a wing tip, and it flexed nicely. It wasn't soap. It was plastic. And it wasn’t carved. It was injection-molded.

I told my mom, tried to explain the facts as to why they couldn’t be soap, and it was like she couldn't hear me. I was just a kid, and she knew that they were soap, and I was just hitting her with way too much detail. Same with my aunt and my dad. But the cherubs weren't soap, and I know this today for a fact.

She didn't lie when she told me that they were soap all those times, but it wasn't true, and nothing that I could say could convince her that she was wrong. And yet she and the rest of my family were wrong. They just didn't see details in things like I did, so they were unable to see that the cherubs were not carved soap, even when presented with the evidence.

I learned that they were blind to many, many other things in addition to the "soap" cherubs that were not. One of them was the illogic of their religion.

Open your minds someday, people of faith. You're not seeing the plastic.”

Ahh, an oldie but a goodie…

Incidentally, I am adopted, a fact that has caused me much relief in my day.

I think this little (true) story of mine outlines the differences between the belief-based mindset and the fact-based mindset. The Christian mind versus the Atheist mind, if you will. Many Christians, having been taught to distrust or merely to ignore much of science, do not see the need to train themselves to perceive fine details well. They’ve been taught that the details of this reality are superfluous anyhow, since it’s all about the afterlife. Also that contradicting concepts can exist side-by-side. And that the Bible tells us all we need to know. And the most horrific, that to doubt any of this is not only wrong, but metaphysically evil, something you can go to hell for, thus making one of the bastions of intellect itself, critical thinking, a punishable offense.

But science teaches us to doubt in all things, including and especially yourself, at all times. That doubt in all things is the most intelligent attitude, and that the true skeptics are almost always the ones to find out the real truth eventually.

The two mindsets are diametrical opposites. And they are at war.

Having not studied science, many Christians cannot truly comprehend, cannot “internalize” things like vast spans of time, vast distances, the complexity of nature’s web of life, and our place in it. They are unused to the sheer mind-numbingly complex amount of fine detail that comprises even basic science, and thus for example see “irreduceable complexity” where the scientist sees the normal mechanism of evolution at work over vast eons of time, more than sufficient time to produce the contested results. The eye. The flagellum. Both easily explicable and even “common-sensical.” I can easily visualize the process of the evolution of a vertebrate eye, and I’m no scientist. I can intuit it from what I know about evolution and other examples of such appearances of complex traits. And incidentally, to think that a few light-sensitive cells would be of no discernable advantage to a creature living in a world of otherwise completely blind organisms is very “short-sighted” indeed. Same with the rotory mechanism involved in the euglena’s locomotive apparatus. Given enough time, the most complicated and seemingly improbable results are possible, and life on this planet has had an awful lot of time. A vast span of time. Eons.

An unimaginable length of time to some, unfortunately. If you think the world's only six thousand years old and therefore have trouble even imagining a million years, how can you ever hope to grasp the changes that can occur in four and a half thousand million?

Why can’t these Biblical Christians see how easily understood these “irreducibly complex” things are as the end result of this incredibly long process of nature weeding out that which does not serve the organism and its accentuation of that which does? Because they don’t have the tools to, nor do they ever want to posess them. Such tools themselves are considered sinful. Hence they are blithely unaware of so many of the fine details of this world, because you can only really learn to perceive these fine details by loving science enough for you to learn how to think in an ordered, scientific manner. You certainly can’t learn to see them by reading the Bible. When the Bible was written, nobody could see them.

(Which brings up the question of why, if the Bible was written by God, did He never mention in it anything more advanced than what the people of that day themselves knew...)

It’s actually an even more basic problem than human ignorance. It’s the age-old seemingly instinctual conflict between the belief-based and the reality-based. The people that turn away from the future and embrace the supposed security of the past, and the people that learn from the past and the present so as to create a better future.

As ever, when the "distant past belief-based mindset" meets the "future of our species fact-based mindset," it tries to kill it immediately out of fear of it eventually factually proving its precious beliefs wrong. Failing that, it hates it and calls it names, thus proving itself not only the most primitive modality of human thought, but also as you would expect from that, the most immature.

Names like terrorist, for instance. You betcha.


  1. Well yea Brian, I think that people are really good at creating that 'elephant-in-the-room' syndrome.

    Religion demands respect, that's IT'S big invisible elephant.

    But I think that given a stretch of time three people can create an 'elephant-in-the-room' about anything at all.

    What jumps to mind is the addicted abusive parent, the 'boss' whose flaws are 'not to be noticed', lines that are 'not to be crossed', authority that is 'not to be challenged'.

  2. But I think that given a stretch of time three people can create an 'elephant-in-the-room' about anything at all.
    Yes, but that's a function of belief as well, isn't it? If you're really fact-based, as hopefully the therapist is in a clinical situation when confronted with the EITRS, he or she sees through the belief that the elephant isn't really an elephant or is imperceptible. Thus, when interviewing the religiously psychotic, they hopefully see the invalidity of the belief, even if they cannot impose such knowledge on the believer.

  3. ajrzfloYour point about nothing appearing in the Bible demonstrating understanding of the universe beyond what "everybody" knew at the time it was written is the key to all of this.
    Those of us with the willingness to at least question what it says (or we are told it says by current theologians in their various interpretations) can, perhaps, look at it in light of the massive increase in scientific knowledge that has been gained (perhaps even "given" by God, if you will) since it was written. This immediately raises questions and demonstrates the many ways in which "the Word of God" conflicts with what we have learned about the Universe (albeit still largely incomplete). When you are wedded to ideas and teachings, most often presented at least in part by your parents and other authority figures from childhood on, it can be very upsetting to notice these incongruities. Moreover, when these same authority figures and much of your adult "tribe" not only tells you you are wrong, but threatens to shun you or that you will fail to be saved when they are, it is infinitely easier to shut up about it, to convince your self that you must actually be wrong to have these questions in your mind, or to go off searching for some other version of the same religious ideas that you may find less unsettling.
    As we recognize that the function of belief in a deity that must be propitiated or sacrificed to in an anthropological sense is fear of and lack of understanding of the vagaries of worldly existance, one would think that as we gained better understanding of these frightening events, our "need" for this worship would diminish. However, even modern man is largely a barely evolved savage who still hears things "going bump in the night" We have simply replaced some of our more primitive fears with even worse ones. And, of course, since we still cannot know what actually happens to our consciousness or "soul" after we die and we certainly do not like the thought that everything just stops, our greatest fear remains.
    Belief continues to be a "need" of modern cultures, just as it has been for every human culture we know of, so we poor savages continue to create a "God" for ourselves, whether he/she/it really exists or not.

  4. I couldn't agree with you more, Harvey. Thanks.

  5. I can relate to so many different levels of this blog and the comments, I don't even know where to start. My dad, who was sane, died when I was very young. I was left with a truly, clinically diagnosed mentally ill mother, and a sister who followed in her footsteps. The insane religion injected into my life seemed to be not a function of deep belief or understanding of the Bible, but more of a tool for these 2 desperate people to grab onto, so they wouldn't go completely off the rails. I faced the anger and rejection most of you have mentioned when I didn't fall into lock step, or asked a question. Sit down, shut up, don't dare question. Or sometimes they would preach at me, making stuff up. If I'd say...can I read that part? Where is it? That would produce anger, and a damning me to hell. And they were not good people. Not the kind gentle Christians most would like their image to be. My mom tried to kill herself twice and abandonded me at 16, and my sister went on to be promiscuous for a while, getting disease, having 2 abortions, etc. They were cruel, constantly. When they tried to come back into my life, newly "born again" and wanting me to join them...I disowned them for good. They preached to me about my Godless existance. While they were falling apart, I had put myself through college, married, had children, and escaped from anything remotely religious, and was all the happier for it. It was poison to have them anywhere near me, my mom has since died. And I haven't seen my sister in decades. My only family is the one I made for myself. It has made it difficult for me to have an open mind about the mental state of religious people, but I still try. Most of my exposure to religion has been of the truly psychotic it is nice to see someone like Botts, who seems to have a different foundation. Most seem to have to twist their minds, or close them off so heavily to maintain the unmaintainable. Sorry so long winded, I've never before had an outlet to express what effect "religion" had on my life.

  6. I got so sidetracked in my wah-wah my family was insane post :-) that I didn't relate the "complexity moment" I intended to convey that changed me at the age of 10. It was Noah's Arc! LMAO! It created confusion as to whether "we" believed in the Bible as written, or when "we" switched to parables.
    It went like this. Did God flood the entire earth and only save Noah
    and his family. Yes. So only they repopulated the world. Yes. So how long did it take the people of Asia to develop the eye shape that protected them from the Sun, and the blue eyed blonds of Scandanavian countries to become so pale for their snowy enviornment? Uhhm..we don't believe in Evolution. God made them that way to begin with. So he created MORE people after Noah and his family? Then I heard theories about some people NOT being "of God." They were somehow different. But didn't God create ALL men? Yes...Noah is now a parable, not all people were wiped out. So the Bible isn't really true? Of course it's true, you just have to believe and questioning God and how he works will send you straight to Hell. Satan plants these doubts in your head, and it's evil. This is a watered down version. It created turmoil and chaos in my house (directed at me), and my dad taking me aside and saying "Jude, we can discuss these things, just you and I. Please don't ask your mother any of this." He didn't live much longer after that. And I never even brought it up to him again....I guess the need to protect HIM from defending me from my mother. They fought about me that night, and he tried to stop her. I just "knew" that he thought it was all BS, too. We talk about the mindset, of questioning or not questioning. I wonder if I had been with a "good" Christian family, who were kind, loving, people I admired and respected, if I would have chosen to not even let my mind go to the quesitons if I wasn't seeing hypocrisy. That the love of that family would have folded me in the comfort of religion because it was GOOD. The unquestioning Christians I do know just seem to be that way because that's how they grew up, and their families are nice and kind.

  7. Harvey said -
    Belief continues to be a "need" of modern cultures, just as it has been for every human culture we know of, so we poor savages continue to create a "God" for ourselves, whether he/she/it really exists or not.
    Belief in something greater than ones self gives people hope, it gives them something to embrace and strive for.
    But a belief in something that does not exist is a false hope and frankly, a waste of time.

    Why would a person want to worship and serve a God who will not respond to them ,or reveal himself unto them?

    That would be like worshiping a thought in ones mind.
    Like little children whos parents lie to them about santa clause and the ester bunny.

    You say we poor savages create Gods, I would agree to a point.
    Many worship the God of self/money/fame/intelict/and an untold number of False Gods that cannot and do not speak hear or live.

    Jerry brown accused me of teaching little children and adultes as well, about the Christian God of the bible. It was the same God of the bible who said you must be born again and I found that out to be true.
    He also said no man can come unto to me except his Father draw you.
    I found this out to be true as well.

    The fact is I preach loud and clear that a person cannot be saved except God call you to repentance.
    Tha salvation of God is NOT a change in mind but is a change in HEART through the working of the Holy Spirit.

    You cannot simply say one day well I think I will belive in God for now on and every thing be hunky doorie.

    The salvation of God is being delivered from sin and peace with God.
    If God through his Holy Spirit has never convicted you of sin you couldn't get foregivness untill he does.

    The salvation of God is for one and all but you can not receive it untill he calls you.
    The bible said when the spirit of truth will come it will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgement.
    This spirit was sent to his church in this world, when you come in contact with his church you will then be at the place qwere God will Convict you and call you into his grace.

    I didn't have to invent a God, The God we reasd about in the bible is real, you just havent come in contact with him yet.

  8. Observant:

    "The salvation of God is for one and all but you can not receive it untill he calls you."

    "I didn't have to invent a God, The God we reasd about in the bible is real, you just havent come in contact with him yet."

    October 18, 2008 11:55 AM

    I find your posts regarding your personal relationship with God both enlightening and refreshingly free of the agressive proselytizing most "true believers" seem to feel they are "called" upon to do. Clearly, you understand that anyone who has not (yet?) found that experience in their own lives cannot be brought to faith by argument, reference to Scripture, or threat of everlasting damnation. Rather, I think, you understand (like Botts) that the true Christian bears witness to Christ's message by exsample, rahter than by coercian.
    My statement that I believe (!) that God is a product of Man's need for a Deity is certainly not original with me. Anthropologists tell us that there is evidence of a "God" in every culture we are able to study, albeit these "Gods" are multiple and have gone by many names. Still, this observation is the strongest argument for the existance of God I have been able to find in many years of agnostic
    (for which please read open minded) searching among all the present and historical religious writings. This viewpoint does not "prove" anyhting, but it seems noteworthy that, at the very least, mankind "needs" a Deity, if not for the afterlife, then surely to help him get through his trying day to day existance. When the beliefs surrounding such a God also provide wise guidance about how to deal with one's fellow man in kind and mutually productive ways, this alone should justify adherence to the rest of the teachings about how one should relate to the God in question, PROVIDING...that they do not denigrate or harm anyone who does not share those religious commandments.
    Therefore, it seems to me that your belief that one cannot come to God without His "calling" you to him, ought to help other "true believers" to see the futility and the "unChristian" nature of trying to impose ANY religious beliefs, either by coercian or by (God forbid!) force of law on people who have not (yet?) found that kernel of faith necessary for God to call them. To be specific, although I can clearly understand those who feel that Christianity sees abortion under any circumstances as a sin; but I cannot understand how these same believers feel the need to try to overturn the secular law of the land that says that a woman should be able to make such a difficult choice in light of what she believes.

  9. Observant, you say, "Belief in something greater than ones self gives people hope, it gives them something to embrace and strive for."

    Well, this is exactly the kind of thing to say so that you can 'leap-frog' over any argument 'against'.

    "God" gives you hope.
    (argument against)
    "God" gives you rules.
    (argument against)
    "God" gives you (whatever you want to imagine)
    (argument against)

    ... and so on.

    Neverminding that just now, the argument against your position can't be something like, "Religion doesn't give you hope!", because it would be ridiculous of me to tell you what gives you hope and what doesn't.

    No, we have to come from the opposite direction.

    Having a belief(or set of beliefs) that gives one 'hope' doesn't add anything, doesn't 'say' anything about those beliefs.

    For example, I might start believing that my dead father is in the spirit world and he WILL come to me in a dream and tell me the winning lottery numbers!

    Believing such a thing would give me oodles of 'hope', but 'so what'?

    Not only that, I could skip the super-natural part and just hope to win the lottery.

    Believing in the supernatural because it gives you hope that the supernatural is real is circular.

    Surely every believer of every God or set of Gods, or 'the supernatural' or 'the spiritual' is, at the very least, hoping that their belief is beneficial in some way.

    Now, not only that, your statement has an unspoken negative connotation aimed at unbelievers since you are tying this 'act of hoping or hope'(which every person does or has) to YOUR set of beliefs which is, at the very least, unfair.

    The unspoken insinuation is that those without 'belief' are 'without hope'.

    This is just a word game, a 'drawing in' to your faith, an elephant-in-the-room that you can bring with you to any 'room'.

    How can a believer possibly imagine that he/she is not 'better' than an unbeliever simply by believing that he/she has 'hope' and unbelievers are 'hopeless'.?

    Can you at least see that unbelievers DO have plenty of hope, hope that you will be able to 'see' reality!?

    I hope that you can see that this 'diamond of clarity', "HOPE" is really a cheap trick, a snare.

  10. SBC said-
    Faith means not wanting to know what is true.”
    -Friedrich Nietzsche
    No, Faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen.

  11. LOL...

    I just checked in on Botts' blog.

    I don't know if you are for Obama or for McCain Observant, but surely you can see that no-one has 'dibs' on hope!

    That is exactly what you are trying to say when you say that your belief gives you hope, that your belief gives you 'dibs' on hope.

    That's fine, in the sense that as long as everyone realizes that everyone else thinks that they too have 'dibs' on hope too.

    Can you see how childish it is really to claim 'dibs' on 'hope' itself!?

    I can't imagine how you could possibly disagree with me and YET I can't imagine you giving up this 'argument' for your faith either.

    I might say that I think you are a 'hopeless' case! LOL

  12. observant said...
    SBC said-

    Is that Saint Brian the Codless?

    Mmmmm... cod... fish and chips... I could 'use' some of that.

  13. Observant says, "No, Faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen."

    This is meaningless drivel.

    Faith is not a 'substance', nor is faith 'evidence' of anything.

  14. Here are the meanings of the word 'substance'.

    "- material: a kind of matter or material
    - tangible physical matter: physical reality that can be touched and felt
    - practical value: real or practical value or importance
    - material wealth: wealth in the form of money and possessions
    - gist of meaning: the actual or essential meaning of something said or written"

    Okay, here they are again showing how 'faith' being 'the substance of things hoped for' doesn't make sense.

    - material: a kind of matter or material

    (I would say 'not applicable')

    - tangible physical matter: physical reality that can be touched and felt

    (Nope, faith can't be 'touched and felt')

    - practical value: real or practical value or importance

    (Okay, this would mean that faith is the real value of things hoped for.. but 'things hoped for are not 'realized'. There is only 'hoped for value' in 'things hoped for)

    - material wealth: wealth in the form of money and possessions


    - gist of meaning: the actual or essential meaning of something said or written.

    (Hmm... faith is the essential meaning of things hoped for. But that makes faith self-referential.

    I have faith because there are things I hope for and I have things I hope for because I have faith.

    This is just claiming 'dibs' on hope again. Childish nonsense.)

  15. "I'm not putting you in this latter category when it comes to nature, of course, just as I wouldn't put myself in that category when it comes to philosophy or ideas."

    Well, um... naturally. :O)

    .. and, of course it's impossible to imagine how children view art and such, never having been children ourselves.

    And, 'women', pfft! How can we possibly imagine what the penily(?)-challenged are thinking!?

  16. Jude:
    Your personal story detailing your disillusionment with your Mother and Sister when it became apparent that they would not entertain your questioning of Scripture is probably a common one among Christians who eventually "fall away". My own departure from the traditional Judaism into which I was born is somewhat different, largely because even my Grandfather, a Talmudic scholar, tacitly agreed that the Torah (The five books of Moses) was not to be taken literally, but, rather, was a series of allegories intended to instruct us in how God wanted "the Children of Israel" to relate to each other and the rest of the world. Since the concept of needing to be "saved" or otherwise to find some personal experience directly with God post-dates the Old Testament, the only overriding requirement for an observant Jew is to live a "righteous" life, according to the ten commandments and to "... not do unto others what you would not want them to do unto you."(The neagatively stated form of the Golden Rule that Jesus later stated positively) As Botts so often points out, there are only two real requirements for Christians who are able to follow the "narrow path" that Jesus requires of them. In other words, understanding God's requirements for Jews is just as simple, once one is able to get past all the extraneous later comments, all man-made, that can distract us from the core values.
    In any event, I spent much of the first 18 to 20 years of my life studying the Torah, the Talmud, (commentaries on the Torah), and other profound dissertations on what my birth religion really means. Needless to say, I also spent a lot of time in Synagogue, engaged in the worship services and other traditions of Judaism. During virtually this entire time, I was so bound up in learning this rather endless body of knowledge, that I never really stopped to think about whether or not I believed in God in the first place. Out of love and respect for my grandparents and my parents, who clearly thought that my religious involvement was a "good" thing, I continued to be observant for some time after I began to realize that I lacked the "kernel" of faith needed to make any of it truly meaningful in my life. For me, there was no real pain or approbation incurred from my family when, while in college, I informed them of my unbelief; I was fortunate to have a largely sane, loving family who clearly still loved me in spite of this.
    For the roughly fifty years that have followed, I have been able to continue to search, with a doubting, but reasonably open mind, for that kernel of faith. I have been able to do this without feeling "angry" at my forebears or God (if He exists) for the time I may seem to have wasted learning all the extraneous trappings of Judaism. At the very least, the knowledge I gained has allowed me to see that there is a wealth of wisdom regarding how people can and should deal with each other, even if the parts that concern Man's relationship with God seem superfluous to me until now.

  17. I meant to post that last one on ants to the other "Liberal dictator" post, pboy. I mistakenly dropped it in here somehow. I've deleted it here and posted it there where it belongs.

  18. Here's an interesting article. Who knew?

    "The Mild-Altering Role of Incense in Religion

    MEREDITH SMALL , Human Nature Columnist - LiveScience

    Growing up as a Catholic, I spent much of my youth kneeling at the front of a church, inhaling incense. At every mass, the priest would grab the brass incense burner from the alter boy and wave it at the congregation as a benediction, spewing smoke in my direction. Little did I, or my parents, know that the priest was also sending a mind-altering drug wafting in my direction.

    Incense might be symbolic in religious ceremonies, but it has also, perhaps not so coincidentally, played a role in gathering the faithful into the fold. A team of international neuroscientists has just announced that a component of the resin made from Boswellia trees, more commonly called Frankincense (yes, the same stuff brought to baby Jesus by the Three Kings), biochemically relieves anxiety in mice, and presumably people.

    Although religion is usually considered a purely cultural construction, it might also have deep psychotropic roots.

    Sociologists, philosophers and anthropologists have always looked beyond the spiritual to explain why organized religion was invented and why it stills plays a major role in all human societies.

    Religion is, first and foremost, about community. Unlike groups that are formed by blood connections, religion has always been a way for unrelated individuals to cooperate, to depend on each other. As such, religion has always functioned as way of taking disparate people and encouraging them to be nice to each other.

    Belonging to the same religion also gives people a common identity, sometimes across countries and continents. Of course, that spirit of community has also been forced upon people as a way to change their identity, if they want to or not.

    And as anyone who has attended a bris, a First Holy Community, or a wedding knows, religion has always been instrumental in marking the passage of individuals through the life course from baptism through funerals, something that people love to do.

    For some, religion also binds their anxiety because it answers unanswerable questions about death, the afterlife, and why in the world we are here in the first place. Religion can also be a place of solace during the hard times, a place to find hope when times are hopeless. In other words, religion is often essential for our psychological well-being.

    Evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson of Binghamton University and others have also pointed out that religion can also be adaptive. If cooperation and group identity helps individuals stay alive and pass on genes, then religion is evolutionarily important, even if we made it up.

    The recent research, published in the online FASEB Journal (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology) on May 2, suggests that religion, or at least many religious rituals, might also have another evolutionary, or biological function. Along with the group support, the embracing identity and the place to pray when times are bad, some religions are also doling out a bit of a psychotropic drug that helps the mind find peace.

    Under the influence of a good snoot full of incense, mice in scary situations, such as being put in a swimming pool, remain calm, anxiety-free. At the alter, too, people feel the same sense of peace that comes from either the comforting words of the clergy, or from the intoxicating, brain altering, smell of incense.

    In an age of endless anxiety, no wonder religion works; it is both cultural and biological.

    Karl Marx claimed that organized religion was the "opiate of the people," meaning it dulls us into complacency, but that might not be such a bad thing."

  19. Pboy said,I don't know if you are for Obama or for McCain Observant, but surely you can see that no-one has 'dibs' on hope!
    I hope to live to be an old man.
    I hope we overcome the problems facing our country.
    I hope my grandchildren will be able to enjoy the same freedoms that we have enjoyed during our lifetime.

    These hopes are not faith pboy.

    I had no faith in God untill he gave it to me. The faith I now possess lives beyond this life.
    Pboy said -Believing in the supernatural because it gives you hope that the supernatural is real is circular.

    I don't believe in the supernatural because it gives me hope.

    I believe in God because he offered me hope when there was no hope.
    He gave me the faith to believe in him.

    It is not in mans nature to seek after God.
    Mans nature is to be rebellious against God. We have this nature about us because of Adam and Eve.

    The bible said - the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

    Pboy what you don't get is this.
    There is blind faith which is what you seem to understand quite well.
    And then there is genuine faith that is revealed unto a man by God himself.
    It is kinda like this. If you tell someone a lie ,chances are you can make them believe it, but in your heart/ soul / mind you know you lied.

    Well when God saves a persons soul, in their heart /soul/mind, they know it is true, even when the world proclaims it's a lie.

    The salvation of God is a know so salvation, made known through the faith of the operation of God.
    I can't persuade you or anyone else for that matter.
    People have to experince God for theirselves.
    I would like to point out one thing though, Only on this side of eternity can we prepare for eternity.

    I don't trust Obama or McCain, SO WHAT DO YOU DO...

  20. pboy said , faith can't be touched or felt.
    Faith can be observed through the obedience of a man of God. And the results of faith can be felt in the hearts of the belivers when God blesses our souls.

  21. Observant, you say, "And the results of faith can be felt in the hearts of the belivers when God blesses our souls."

    You say this in answer to...

    definition of 'substance'..

    - tangible physical matter: physical reality that can be touched and felt

    (Nope, faith can't be 'touched and felt')

    Um, I think that you ought to look up the meaning of the word 'context'.

    How could you NOT know that I meant 'touched and felt' physically, as per that definition. HOW?

    Do not pass 'Go!', do not collect $200.

    The other 'small detail' that is 'wrong' with that is that I'm calling the supernatural into question, SOOOOOOOOOOO, injecting the supernatural back in as 'some kind of explanation' is either just tacky or you are trying to be rude.

    That other shite about faith not being connected to hope goes against your trite saying about faith being the 'substance' etc. AND your notion that your belief gives you hope.

    Talk about confused and confusing, compartmentalized thinking, doublespeak.

    You said, "I don't believe in the supernatural because it gives me hope."

    But you just said, "Belief in something greater than ones self gives people hope.."

    You believe two exact opposite things at the same time.

  22. The definition of 'delusion' is...

    "A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everybody else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. The belief is not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person's culture or subculture (e.g., it is not an article of religious faith)."

    Now, did anyone notice the exemption specifically for religious faith?

    Y'see.. if you HAVE to make an exception...

  23. Harvey, thanks for sharing your story...I was very interested reading it. I'm not a religious scholar by any means, but have taken the time to find out the basic beliefs and teachings of the world's religions. (and the little things, too, like what makes a Baptist different from a Methodist.) Mostly all that did for me was bolster my feelings that nobody knows, interpretations are random, none of it makes sense. BUT...I have to say, of everything I've looked at, Judaism was the one religion that I felt had so much right. What you said about life lessons, the wealth of knowledge of how people can and should deal with each other, was apparent in everything I read. I will show my prejudice. As an atheist who finds "religion" destructive in general, I do find Judaism to be different. I'm not well versed enough about it to explain well what I feel, but just that it seems to deal so wisely with gray areas of life in such a thoughtful way. Whereas other religions, Christianity in particular, are so harsh and unyielding. Judaism seems rooted in life here on Earth, how to be HERE.... others are so focused on after. Does that make sense?
    When asked what my favorite religious holiday is, I always think "Day of Atonement." I think it's beautiful. :-)

  24. Talk about confused and confusing, compartmentalized thinking, doublespeak.

    You said, "I don't believe in the supernatural because it gives me hope."

    But you just said, "Belief in something greater than ones self gives people hope.."

    You believe two exact opposite things at the same time.

    You should of read the line that followed.
    I said - But a belief in something that does not exist is a false hope and frankly, a waste of time.

    I should have been clearer on my point.
    I was refering to people who belive in false Gods, they imagine them greater than themselves which produces hope.

    I don't believe in the supernatural for the purpose of having hope. That is not what I was saying at all.

  25. You said, "I don't believe in the supernatural because it gives me hope."

    But you just said, "Belief in something greater than ones self gives people hope.."

    You believe two exact opposite things at the same time.

    Okay, I get it that you don't think that they are the same thing.

    I'm not sure why though.

    Isn't 'something greater than oneself' a reference to "God"?

    Aren't you saying that the belief gives one hope?

    @ Brian, I'm trying to think of a word for the kind of synchronicity that is not 'good'.

    For example, you have everything set out like the proverbial 'row of ducks' and a 'just-in-time' spoiler makes you forget a crucial 'duck' ruining the entire point of the thing.

    e.g. get dressed, get I.D., keys and on the way out, get money.

    Emma calls, hey, I'm missing something(at the perfect time) then she realizes, 'no, it's okay, found it!'.

    Driving down the road you realize, this perfectly times(albeit accidental) interference left you driving down the road with no funds(crucial part of the plan!)

    Can't be anti-synchronicity or dissynchronicity... I'm lookin' for a good name... synchron(ending), if you see what I mean.

  26. ==========================
    I'm trying to think of a word for the kind of synchronicity that is not 'good'.

    How 'bout' sink row nasty ?

    Yeah, well, my insync jokes didn't go over too well when I met Joey Fatone either.

  27. and Observant, you said, "I said - But a belief in something that does not exist is a false hope and frankly, a waste of time."

    Whether you imagine that your belief is true therefore your hope is true and you are then allowed to point out that false beliefs lead to false hope is completely beside the point.

    A muslim will use that exact same thinking against you.

    I, as an atheist, don't believe any of you,(obviously)that your beliefs are 'true'

    You seem to be thinking that because your(true to you) belief brings you (true to you hope) that you DIDN'T contradict yourself.

  28. Jude:
    In fact, Judaism generally has very litle to say about any "afterlife". The reward for having lived a "righteous" life is having lived such a life. For the most part, what happens to those who do not follow the "law" as promulgated in the Torah is that they are "separated" from God after death, which separation is regarded as the worst penalty one can receive. Most of the rest of concepts of "heaven" and "hell", as expressed in the later religions "of the Book" (i.e. Christianity and Islam) are the thoughts of later writers or are inferred from a few rather obscure statements in the Torah. So, I certainly agree that most of Judaism is about Human interrelationships, not those between Man and God, although the latter certainly take up a lot of space.
    Your mention of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), which is just past, exemplifies the differences in attitudes regarding forgiveness. Observant Jews are enjoined to spend the ten days between Rosh Hashanh (the New Year) and Yom Kippur making amends for and seeking forgiveness for any "sins" against one's fellow man. If one succeeds in this, tradition tells us that God will accept your true repentence, although you must recite a prayer listing a great number of possible sins, publicly and out loud. Tradition tells us that when you get to the ones that you know you are guilty of, both you and God are aware of them; when you get to those you are guilty of, but don't remember or realize it, God knows; and when you read the many that neither of you knows you to be guilty of, "no harm done". Of course, the implication is that both of you must agree that you are truly repentant, at which point God will write your name in "The Book of Life" for another year.
    In spite of all this, which I certainly find valuable in attempting to live a productive and ethical life, without that germ of "faith", which Observant points out really cannot be sought, but must be given to us individually by whatever God we happen to believe in, the rest of it simply has no meaning.

  29. Observant, I have to tell you that I think you're contradicting yourself as pboy does. My only addition to what he said is that I really like you as a person and while I don't think you're ever going to see that you're somewhat deluded by your faith, I'll still like you. I hope that you will think the same of me. Since I'm sure that you think me similarly deluded, and thus I can take no insult from it.

    Peace, brother. I would only wish that we cold see things more in an eye-to-eye fashion rather than both of us being convinced that the other is terribly mistaken.

  30. Observant, I am convinced that the required adjustment that must needs be made in order for us to truly see things "eye to eye" needs to be made on your part. Sorry. I don't think I'm wrong, and I've tried to examine myself in this as much as possible. I mean, take Botts. He's also a Christian, and yet I can see things as he does and vice-versa. The adjustment is a minor one, but I think you need to be the one that needs to make it. You need to open up your mind just a tiny bit and stop thinking that your personal experience, as awesome as I am sure that it was for you, is somehow proof that you're right about God in any way. If you stop to think how people from all cultures and belief systems also have such trancendental personal experiences relating to their beliefs iin their respective deities, it might give you a clue. I'm not in any way asking you to give up your God; I just want you to interpret Him in the light of reason rather than blind faith. Blind faith serves noone but the priests. That's why the priests thought up the concept.

    Hey, I can't stop trying, can I? :-)

  31. I guess another way to put that last post of mine is to say that I'm willing to make compromises and I have made them in order to see things eye-to-eye with Botts and people like him, and he has likewise done so in order to do so with me and people like me. I don't take the hard-line atheist position and he doesn't take the hard-line Christian one either. He saw in his life the necessity of relaxing the Biblical agenda and concentrating on the words of Jesus themselves, and I heartily approved of that so I got to like him a lot.

    So the question is, can you make such compromises, or is it literally impossible for us to truly be friends, since I've flexed as much as I can, and you haven't flexed at all nor do you seem likely to.

    And that saddens me, I must admit.

  32. And while we can be friends of course, I meant friends as in mutual respect. I have a hard time respecting the born-again position. And it mostly hates my ass, so the feeling's mutual apparently.

    Can you truly not see the need for change within yourself in order for you to actually even BE on the path that you are so very sure that you're on? Because from where I sit, you might have been born again, but you're not born again as a real Christian. More like born-again into ego. For what is more egotistical than to be convinced that you're one of the few that God speaks to? What pattern of thought is more divisive and exclusive than that? How can you NOT feel GREAT about yourself when you think you're one of the chosen few like that?

    Sorry. But I need to be blunt or I don't feel right about it. Youre better than this, dammit. I can sense it. You're decent at heart.

  33. Who would Jesus say is closer to God?

    The person who is "born again" and is thus convinced that God is real, has no doubt, and maybe gives some money to a charity, maybe doesn't even check on the charity to see how much of that money actually gets to the poor people and how much goes to payroll...


    Mother Theresa, who died in conflict and doubt of her faith?

    Think about it.

    Deeds matter more than words, and faith is worthless even to God without good works.

    If "loving all others" ever comes into conflict with "believe that you're right at all costs about your faith" I bet you can guess which one I think needs to go. And I just bet that even Jesus would agree.

  34. Sometimes I thing religion is so popular because it gives people reasons to love themselves when they can't see any on their own. While that sounds positive, it is actually very negative. I would say that the reasons that religion gives people to love themselves all are false reasons. They appeal to the person's ego and are thus very attractive to the person. They "feel right" because they inflate the ego. The reasons that religion gives to the person to feel better about themselves all relate to belonging to that religion! So their own new positive self-image becomes hinged to the religion, this making the religion indespensible to the believer. Like a drug, and not anything spiritual at all. It benefits only the religion, and not the individual.

  35. It is said that ignorance is bliss. However it is also true that real bliss is sometimes only purchased at the price of ignorance.

    I'd rather be miserable than ignorant, meself. But that's just me. If it could be said that I "worship" anything, that thing would be the TRUTH.

  36. There was a time in my youth that I pondered the universe and all things within - it is that time where you are questioning everything and anything. For some of us its a phase, something that we did when we were getting high, drinking to much, or even worse - taking some college course that delved into theories and philosophies that we had never considered.

    My parents said they did the same thing, most kids probably do. But where I diverged from them was - I never stopped. I didn't feel the need to stop wondering, stop thinking, stop wanting logical answers to those questions.

    My Mother put it simply when she told me that she just didn't want to think about it anymore.

    The simplest possibility to the complacency of Christianity is that people, just don't want to think about the vast possibilities of life anymore.

    Isn't it simpler to just give in to the notion that Religion gives us the answers we want? That way we don't have to think about it anymore, we can go on living our lives pretending that there is a purpose without actually creating our own purpose. Isn't it easier for us just to follow along? There are tried and true patterns that our parents and their parents followed, why isn't that good enough for us?

    It is so much easier, more peaceful just to be told how to feel, what to do, how to act. Why do I have to use my brain for anything other than the simplest of tasks - what to cook, when to wash, when to get up and go to work, how to do my simple job?

    When it comes right down to it, isn't better to conform to current society's mindset than to go "against the grain" so to speak? After all you don't make friends or influence people that way do you?

    You will be assimilated.

  37. Brian said:

    "...Names like terrorist, for instance."

    Or conservative.

    I may have to rethink my political philosophy...

  38. I want my profile to say "Blogs I follow"..

    True Christianity
    Saint Brian's Chronicles


    But I've put your URL 'in there' a few times now Brian ... I'm probably doing something wrong...

    .. maybe it's just a 'synchronasty' or somethin'.

  39. No Ed, conservative isn't a slur, nor is liberal, although sometimes they're used like slurs. But I was talking about actual slurs, like terrorist, defeatocrat, repuke, repugnican, demwits, etc. And in worse case scenarios, the N-word, and I have to include Muslim even though it shouldn't be a slur, because people understand it wrong. Calling a christian man a muslim in this country is definitely a slur now, unfortunately.

  40. I like "synchronasty"

    I dunno pboy. Keep trying.

  41. TJ said,

    "Isn't it simpler to just give in to the notion that Religion gives us the answers we want? That way we don't have to think about it anymore, we can go on living our lives pretending that there is a purpose without actually creating our own purpose. Isn't it easier for us just to follow along?"

    Isn't that why they call them 'sheep'?

  42. Bri,

    I was thinking more of the mindset 'conservative' describes, as opposed to using it as a handy epithet.

  43. Okay, Ed... Got it now.

    Why may you have to rethink your political philosophy? I still don't get that part.

  44. Maybe we all have a soap angel story.

    Mine is the Chester Drawers.

    I used to work for a large southern manufacturer. I was in a department with 71 other women. One day the subject of furniture came up and several women mentioned that they wanted to buy a new Chester Drawer. I snickered, and politely attempted to correct them, telling them the correct term was "Chest of Drawers". The result was 71 women laughing at me, insisting that there was no such thing as a chest of drawers (how ridiculous!) and that EVERYONE knew what Chester Drawers were. Chester Drawers had existed for their entire lives. I was an idiot to think otherwise.
    But, of course, I was and am correct. The proper term is chest of drawers, and no one named Chester has furniture named after him. But nothing between heaven and hell (not even an encyclopedia or a dictionary) would convince these women that I was correct.
    I encountered this phenomenon often...named it the "don't confuse me with the truth, because my mind is made up" syndrome.
    "Ag-ner" shoes and purses were also very popular.

  45. Crud, I forgot to post my point. I agree very much with TJ. It is human nature not to stray too far from the pack. Our ancestors learned that there is safety in numbers. What originally evolved as something to protect us from getting picked off by a roving smileodon is now what keeps us from entertaining ideas that are 'foreign' to our pack. The safer we are, the more we can direct our energy to other things.
    At one point in our evolution, these other things were important things. Now our other things are more likely to be tracking the latest winners on "Dancing with the Stars."

  46. I should have been clearer on my point.
    I was refering to people who belive in false Gods...


    ok observant, let's remember that there are people who believe the christian god is a false god.

    some people could argue that believing in your god is a waste of time because he is not real. and you may say "well i know the god i believe in is real because xyz" but that argument could be used on the other side too. so that gets everybody nowhere.

    i'm not trying to tell you that you are wrong about your beliefs, i'm just trying to illustrate why your argument is ineffective in proving your point.

  47. I may have to rethink my political philosophy because when the description 'conservative' comes to mind in such company (e.g. "distant past belief-based mindset" ), I wonder if my voting habits are in tune with my personal philosophy. I dunno if you saw on some of DD's blogs near the end, but Clif K. was treating me like a whack-a-mole every time i poked my head into the room because I said I'd voted either independent or Republican since 1980. I guess he thinks that's incredibly ill-informed or just plain stupid.

  48. On theother hand, I've been telling my friends that I think I'm gonna sit this one out. I don't see much good on either side. The only thing I can say about Obama and the democrats is that they'll be frsh faces again, but in four years, we may be wishing we still had the GOP in da house.

    Just sayin'...

  49. Funny stuff Kodiak.

    Brian... synchronastiness, synchronastity?, ..synchronauseus?... synchronausea.


    I got nothin'.

  50. I was telling Emma about the 'Chester drawers' and how I 'argued' in vain that Wednesday was a corruption of 'Odin's day' or Woden's day' to a friend of ours.

    The funniest 'play on words' that I ever heard was when my sister started crying the first time she was 'let up' on New Year's night.

    Anyway they had just finished 'toasting' the New Year and sang a song that went, "It's a good New Year for een and aww, and many may you see."

    (een and aww, Scottish slang for one and all)

    What my little sister Val heard was, "It's a good New Year for Ian and Ann..(my other sister and me)

    ... and she was heartbroken that she was being excluded.

  51. When I hear people using order as evidence of intelligent design I see it the other way. Intelligence is complex, and goes beyond simple algorithms. Order and patterns on the other hand are based on simple sets of rules. I'm willing in certain cases to concede that it's possible there's an unexplainable or "intelligent" arrangement behind the rules themselves, but everything else is reduceable to those rules.

  52. Here's a little story.

    My son is kinda wimpy. I hate to say that, but it's true. He used to get bullied almost daily when he was in Kindergarten an elementary school. I used to tell him that he needed to fight back, that one time making the other kid have a bloody nose would make all but the most hardcore bully pick on easier targets. Now that he's older and bigger, he's tried that approach, and voila! exactly as I said, the bullies have poggled off to seek easier game.

    My issue with Barack is that his stated intention to open dialogue with some terrorist supporting groups/nations will cast the U.S. in a weaker light. We may be enlightened and liberal in this country; we may strongly disagree with the 'conservative christian' camp, claiming that they are a bunch of ignorant fear-mongers, but we're in a serious game: those who would attempt to destroy our nation and our way of life DO NOT RESPECT negotiations and weakness. Furthermore, those aforementioned segments of humanity almost universally derive their 'righteous authority' from conservative religious dogma.

    Call me a reactionary, but it looks like budding appeasement to me...

  53. those who would attempt to destroy our nation and our way of life DO NOT RESPECT negotiations and weakness. Furthermore, those aforementioned segments of humanity almost universally derive their 'righteous authority' from conservative religious dogma.
    I seriously thought that you were referring to the conservative base. LOL.

    And you were, only you didn't know it at the time...

  54. Our conservative base is one hair's breadth away from the mindset of the Islamic terrorist anyhow... So it fits both of them nicely.

  55. Brian, this topic is near and dear to my heart. If you get a chance to click on my profile and follow the link to a place where I am posting some thoughts in this area, I would enjoy your thoughts.

  56. I just put up a followers list. I hope it helps you pboy and anyone else that wants to follow this blog.

  57. Bri,
    I guess that was the core of my need to re-examine my politics. I guess when looked at in that way, the fundie conservatives look a lot like the fundie jihadists, only with cowboy hats...

  58. Call me a reactionary, but it looks like budding appeasement to me...
    I totally don't see it as appeassement, I see it as communication with your enemies, which is SMART. We aren't about to APPEASE them in any way, but if we don't even TALK to them, then WE'RE the assholes. We lower ourselves to their level by not talking. We seem haughty and egotistical when we do things like that. We're not God of this world. We have to stop thinking and acting like we are.

  59. Ed...

    I think that you ought to look at the history of the U.S.A. at war.

    I imagine that you'd be amazed at how beligerent the U.S.A. is!

    I noticed how you portrayed the U.S.A. as 'the naive boy who stood up to bullies'.

    Come on Ed, who is being naive here, really?

  60. Floyd,
    OK, I can see where you get that I was comparing the U.S. to an innocent party. No, I'm not naieve; I spent 10 years on active duty in the Army, about half of that at Fort Bragg. I know we (the U.S.) aren't wearing white hats here. I'm a casual student of military history, and I know about the USS Maine, the Gulf of Tonkin, the Bay of Pigs, etc., etc.
    All I was saying was that they hit us, and we'd have looked pretty weak if we hadn't hit back, encouraging more hostile acts from their side. I don't know how many times I've heard or read that the jihadists believe that America doesn't have the will or the stomach for war, and that perception emboldens them.
    Or how about North Korea, spitting in the face of the U.N. nuclear inspectors and re-starting their uranium enrichment program? They use that as a strategy to force the west to promise aid. If I'm a little brief on occasion, please don't mistake it for naievete- I'm just being brief. I mean, gimme a break, I only use two fingers and I have to look at the keys.

  61. I see you point Ed. I was with the administration when they attacked in afghanistan. They lost me at Iraq. I was like WTF? Did Bin Ladin move to Iraq? No? Then why are we going there???

    I know it's honorable to "have the stomach for war" but I'm not ashamed to say that I do not. I agree with a counterattack, but I do not see liking war as an attractive national trait. I guess it all depends on what one means by "having the stomach for..." Lately it seems that not only do we have the stomach for it, but a bad 'sweet tooth' as well. War needs to always be the last alternative, for self-defense only. The fact that we've let afghanistan slide is to me, reprehensible.

    Plus, just having our enemy taunt us bu saying that we 'do not have the stomach for war' is certainly no reason to take them seriously. They say whatever they think will get to us. Pretty standard stuff when you look at it. They're calling us cowards in the hopes that we'll react in ANGER rather than THINKING about things. Hell, that's what I'd do, if I were Bin Ladin and Company.

  62. I'm with you on that one, Bri. At least the U.S. could (almost) truthfully say that we never started a war before Bush II in Iraq. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan (who was once a Demacrat, but switched), If I'm not a Republican anymore, it's not because I left the GOP; the GOP left me.

    PS, I signed on as one of your blog followers.

  63. Thanks, Ed!

    Oh, I already knew that you were an okay sort, dude. I was just throwing stuff out there. Absolutely no offense and all the respect in the world intended...

  64. Yeah, I'm just thankful that I got out of the Army in January '97 with back problems from jumping out of C-130s. I managed to avoid both adventures in the Middle East (I was in Korea during Desert Storm, and only a handful of Military Intelligence (!) guys got sent) from there.

  65. Interesting discussion on our national defense. IMO, of all the destructive things that GWB has done over 8 years, and there have been TONS.....I especially hate that he has alienated us from the rest of the world, and has left us weaker. In this day and age, it is in our best interest to have the respect and cooperation of our allies, for the countries of the world to stand together to isolate the terrorist states. After 9/11, the sentiment around the world was "we are all Americans today." We had support going into Afghanistan. And GWB blew it. The good will, the cooperation, the support, the respect. All gone when he perpetrated the Iraq fiasco. He made us stand alone, spread us too thin, emboldened the terrorists, and have allowed them to see us as vulnerable. They see the rest of our friends abandoning us, and how hard it has been for us to be there. We should have gone to Afghanistan for Bin Laden, and we should have stayed and finished it. The Afghan people WERE glad to have the Taliban broken, they would have worked hard and long with us to get their beautiful country back. We let them down. I don't see "talking" to our enemies as appeasement at all. But we do need to have something to back it up with. If the civilized countries of the world are all standing together, if terrorist states know that they must "behave themselves" or the wrath of MANY will come down upon them with sanctions, isolation, hardships on their countries, etc., and military force if they do a first strike anywhere......then I think they can be persuaded. I do not believe in the US doing pre-emptive strikes at all!!! We need to reclaim our honor here. But, defend ourselves with everything we've got if attacked, of course.
    My hope is that Obama restores the US in reality and perception, as a
    a respected member of the international community. THAT'S when we'll have a stronger defense.
    *We* (GWB) got way too arrogant with his lone cowboy, shoot first ask later, we don't need anybody stance in the world.

  66. Yea, of course bin Laden et al call everyone ball-less cowards.

    And, of course no-one can call the U.S.Army cowards.

    But then a jihadist would probably call someone that he has tied and gagged a coward just before he cuts his head off.

    Guerrilla warfare works like that though with propaganda, hiding among the population, hit and run, and as much published civilian damage done by those 'not afraid to die'. etc.

    But ya gotta laugh at Bush, hiding behind 'how many' secret service dudes, shaking his fist(the entire U.S. Army) at them like it is HIM being brave.

    "We fight them there so we don't have to fight them here!"('cos WE are afraid to die!)

    Dennis Miller's chickenshit 'bravery' comes to mind.

  67. If the jihadists think that we are cowards, they have their heads up their asses. We have the largest military spending in the world, and it is pretty damn obvious that we are eager to use it. We take out hundreds for every one of our own killed, and that is when we use restraint (i.e. not enlisting the draft, not redirecting all resources to military functions, and not just ending it all with a nuke). And we are infamous for being militant, brutish, arrogant, and just plain self-centered in other countries. If Muslims think differently, even as we continue to search for bin Laden's head, and slay anyone who retailiates against us in the fledgling "Iraq: USA! USA! edition", then they are more deluded than we originally expected.

    It could just be that they think that we are not continue fighting them in Iraq. That may be true. But doing so just makes it harder for them to retailate against us, and will give us another excuse to use excessive force against them if they try again. As for whether this is how we should behave, it is honestly hard to say. But, that we will is almost a certainty.

  68. This was an easy pic to get.. pboy loves a kiss on the head.

    Oh.. yea.. on topic.. you're absolutely right Asylum Seeker!

  69. Synchronicity alert!

    I watched the 'Flight of the Con-Chords' and was singing along, "It's business, it's business tiem!"

    Best Western commercial said, "It's business!"

    I am unimpressed myself!

  70. Here's an interesting and funny Onion article.

    I think when you read this you can REALLY see the difference between the christian mindset and the atheist one. It's noticeable by how ridiculous this sounds, and yet when reversed it's pretty common....

  71. Link to the onion article was cut off. I'm gonna give it shot (fingers crossed):

    [Note: if mine breaks up too, Brian's link just needs a "flock_to_darwin" after the last "_" to work].

  72. Pardon my tone, I'm depressed and it's that time of the month, that has to be the only reasons I'm traveling on this thread...

    I really need to self medicate, don't we all?

    I sit in my office with my sales numbers low - to the ground. No money in sight and bills unpaid, emails to those who owe, with empty promises replied, more calls to those I owe with nothing good to say, except please wait.

    This is as low as it goes and there is no one to blame, this feeling of impending doom hangs over my head and I can't see any silver lining...

    Oh what was I thinking, yea

    That whole prayer thing, times like these are when people want to call on a higher power and then there is me, who knows that no higher power exists, that knows that my prayers will go unanswered, but it is within me to wish, to pray, to offer up anything to see a smidgen of optimism when there is only less of what you have now, and what you have now isn't going to get you through the week.

    So when times are tough and your pride has left the building - I wish I had something that I could beleive in, that there was a giant hand in the sky that would pat me on my head and say
    "There, there, little believer child, I will see you though."

    But I beleive in none of that, I have only my belief that Obama will be elected, that he and his administration will somehow give rise to an optimistic populous that will in turn go out and reinvest in the economy and somehow, someway, somewhere - hopefully here, a house will be sold and built and paid for and the market will turn and the American people will once again chose to call Joe the Plumber, or in my case Rays & Sons and maybe we will be here for another year.

    Yeah I can see why people beleive in a god, a way to unburden themselves, to take the frustration and sorrow and pain and lay it on someone else for a while until we force ourselves to get up and go through another day.

    That's what I have to look forward to, another day. After 15 years of this, you would think I was better able to cope, guess not.

  73. tj...we don't even know each other, but here's a hug. {{{{TJ}}}
    and if you need something to believe in, this is a good place to come. You can see that there are others out here who believe as you do, and are fighting on your same side. It looks like we're going to take our country back. For the first time in many years I am hopeful that we can undo this mess, and things will get better for everyone. Even those that think they want McCain. We're all in it together.

  74. Well TJ...

    I feel bad for you, because you are one of 'us'.

    There must be LOTS of christo-republicans out there in the same boat as you, and all I can think of saying to them is, "It serves you right!"

    Once again, us 'liberal' atheists, who knew fine that it wasn't right to depend on God when that whole notion of God had so obviously been hijacked by con-men.

    Actually neo-con men.

    We are stuck being 'Cassandras' for now but I sure hope that Obama gets in and he has some fast fixes for folk in your position.

    We can only imagine that if things DO improve drastically under Obama that the neo-cons will spin it to make Bush the hero, "Oh, Obama inherited the inate 'goodness' that flowed from eight years of Bush!"

    I really think that a lot of christo-republicans would jump right on that idea.

  75. TJ:
    It seems to me that you are up against the thing that has largely been responsible for Man "needing" a God. We live in a scary and often hostile world; what nicer answer than to be able to try to convince a Deity to notice your circumstances and intervene on your behalf? Certainly, no one could blame you if you chose to say a little, private silent "prayer". Believers like to remind us that "there are no atheists in a foxhole."
    In fact, you seem to have found the intellectually honest path for someone who "knows" that there is no value in prayer; you are expressing your concerns and dismay to all of us who read this blog. I think this is probably as good therapy as prayer, snce here, you might even get a response recognizing your distress and helping you to see that you are not in it alone.
    Unlike God, none of us can promise you resemption or a reward when you leave this world, but we can express our emotional support, our simillar involvement in the same problems, and, at least in my case, the belief that "this too will pass away". There are not many good things about getting old, but possible benefit may be that one has seen this before and knows that we will come out of it again (although since I must depend on the Stock Market for most of my income, I "pray" that the upturn will be sooner rather than later).

  76. Thanks guys, you've made me smile and that means a lot.

    I'm heading south for a week, where the weather is warmer and hopefully I can forget about all this stress, not that it won't be here when I get back. And like a lot of business owners I still work while I'm away - remotely, via this wonderful device: my IBM thinkpad which I love because it is so tiny. Buts that okay I've got tiny fingers that fit just fine over the tiny keys that are all mine.

    I will be drinking - that is a fact, just enough to get happy, not enough to get jacked.

    Hugs and kisses


  77. I will be drinking - that is a fact, just enough to get happy, not enough to get jacked.
    Great reggae song lyric that...

    Have a good time!

  78. Back on topic...

    Christian perception, I think, is based on the idea that every person's life can be represented by the totality of their thoughts.

    I don't think it matters so much what is real to Christians as what they think is real.

    That 'sounds' confusing and confused.

    In Brian's story, the 'thought' that those soap figurines were genuine or important was more 'real' than the actual reality that they were plastic.

    There's nothing new about human thought.

    Teaching a person a religion is teaching a person to BE religious.

    They deal with the 'magic' part of the religion when you are a child and embed those stories.

    "Jesus was 'goodness' personified!"
    (was he?)
    "Jesus turned water into wine, fed the multitude, cured the sick etc."
    (Would GOD show up on Earth to do magic tricks?)

    If you believe that thoughts are 'magical' in any sense at all, then there doesn't seem to be any sense in trying to convince you that they aren't.

    As I see it, there is little difference between the word 'GOD' and the words, "The big mind.", Brian, but that is only what I think(you know, in my mind) so if we are juggling, 'mind', 'thoughts', 'gods' and 'reality' then, do I only think that I know what reality is?

    "Wnen the rain washes you clean.."(Fleetwood Mac), will you really 'know'?

    "Imagine seven million people all wanting to live together!"(Crocodile Dundee)

  79. http://absenceofgood.

    My question was originally to Botts, then I thought that perhaps Botts would answer it and that would be that.

  80. Hey Brian! I just got an email from D'Souza's website with an offer for a discount on his book - want me to get you a copy? ;)

  81. Which book? "What's so great about being a schizophrenic?"

    No thanks, I don't have a parrot anymore, so I have no need for cage lining. :-)