Faith and Trust

After opening our Christmas presents yesterday, the family and I somehow got to talking about faith.  Sweetie said that one had to have some small amount of faith in order to be a good skeptic.

“That depends on what you are asking me to put my faith in,” I replied. 

“Well,” he said, “for instance, you have faith in me. You have faith that I love you.

“Exactly” said I, “And it’s based on observable data. For instance, I have faith that you will come home every night and that I can pretty much expect you home by a certain time. Why? Because that’s what you’ve done for the last eleven years. Now, I don’t know with absolute certainty that tomorrow you won’t decide to leave me high and dry, but the evidence of our life together leads me to conclude otherwise. Your actions demonstrate your love and commitment, and that’s why I can I put my faith in you.”

“I also have faith in other things,” I continued. “I am pretty sure that when I turn the faucet on in the kitchen, water will come out of the spigot, because I’ve observed that every time I turn the handle, water comes out. And the few times that it hasn’t occurred, it’s not because some law of the universe flipped on it’s side, but because either the water has been turned off at the source or the well pump isn’t working. I have faith in plumbing.”

But the more I got to thinking about it, I don’t have “faith,” either in my husband or my plumbing. What I have is trust. When the average person uses the word “faith” they mean it pretty much as it is defined in the Bible. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith thusly: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  When my husband tells me he loves me, I’m not hoping for his love, nor do I see no evidence of it. We aren’t talking faith. We are talking about trust.

I can put my trust in him because his deeds provide evidence of his love and commitment. Of course, the alternate explanation might be that he doesn’t really love me and that he’s engaging in a huge con by coming home night after night, in addition to doing all the other loving things he does.  Considering what a challenge I can be, and that I have no inheritance to speak of, we’ll just stick with the most obvious conclusion. He loves me.

When someone insists that I have to have “faith” what they are really demanding is that I trust that some Thing or some One exists and can have an impact on my life, when in fact the insistent soul has presented no observeable evidence to back up their claims. And I won’t blindly trust.  In the absence of evidence, there can be no trust.  

Which brings me to LeoPardus’ fourth installment of Reasons why I can no longer believe. In it, LP discusses how others in our daily lives lose our trust and turns that same reasoning to belief in God*:

Imagine that you left your house in the care of a neighbor while you went on vacation. When you return, the animals have not been cared for, the lawn is all dried out, and the newspapers are just scattered on the driveway where they were thrown. What do you conclude about that neighbor?
 
Now let’s imagine that you give the neighbor another chance. This time you call him by cell phone and send him emails to remind him of what needs to be done. When you come home, things are still a mess. Now what do you conclude?
 
Obviously you conclude that he’s not trustworthy. And you conclude that you’re not going to entrust him with anything more.

[...]

NOW… Imagine that you choose to believe in a religion. You choose to because there’s a book that tells you that this religion’s deity is awesome. People, who are in this religion, sing and talk and carry on about how awesome this deity is. The book, and the people, both claim that the deity and the religion will make you a better person, and that the deity can do miracles of all sorts, and many other claims are made.

So you get into the religion. You strive to understand and relate to the deity and to do what the deity wants you to do. In time you find that neither you, nor the overwhelming majority of believers, are becoming better people. And you find that neither you, nor the overwhelming majority of believers, see any miracles. And you find that in fact the deity fails to do anything that was promised.

Now what do you conclude?

 

* By which I mean a supernatural being who intervenes in human affairs.

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26 thoughts on “Faith and Trust

  1. Interesting. I’ve evolved over my lifetime from atheism to agnosticism to agnostic deism–to a point where I now believe there’s some sort of “supernatural being who intervenes in human affairs.”

    A partial reason for my gradual change is I really missed having someone I could ask for help like all the religious people had. “Faith” is believing something only because you choose to believe it, or, you believe what you want to believe. (As you said, without any proof.) Wanting to be able to believe in prayer made it easy for me to believe prayer made what I wanted to happen, happen. If you believe miracles happen, you’re likely to see (or “see”) miracles.

    That’s the difference between you and me. But at least I realize and admit what I’m doing–believing in something just because I really want it to be so.

    You’ve probably also observed what happens when things happen that don’t fit with people’s beliefs: They start talking about God’s mysterious plan and mysterious ways and how we’ll understand why horrible things happen sometime the future, etc. I do that myself–I admit it! It’s a way of coping with life.

  2. In general the Religious conclude they need to believe all the harder-that the fault isn’t in God but in their lack of sufficient Faith.

  3. Ann – and my experience has been the mirror image of yours. I started out a true-believer (my story in an abbreviated version is here) and eventually de-converted. I didn’t want to de-convert, but it is where I wound up…kicking and screaming, I might add. I did not want to give God up, but I wanted truth more.

  4. Thanks for the honest post, BL. I tend to agree. I’m glad you wrote about it because I think people of this mindset need to do more of that, from pretty much this kind of non-judgmental POV. It helps when people discuss it in very practical terms.

  5. But that just isn’t my experience.

    NOW… Imagine that you choose to believe in a religion. You choose to because there’s a book that tells you that this religion’s deity is awesome.

    No, I choose to believe since if I don’t, I become extremely superstitious and afraid of fate. After 51 years, I know myself very well, and I need to channel my goofy mystical impulses somewhere, and that is one of the places (not the only one) I channel it.

    I like most deities fine; I chose the one I am most familiar with culturally, although frankly, I have always preferred His Mother, another cultural trait…

    People, who are in this religion, sing and talk and carry on about how awesome this deity is. The book, and the people, both claim that the deity and the religion will make you a better person, and that the deity can do miracles of all sorts, and many other claims are made.

    But if you hang around long enough, you know that lots of these people are assholes and that religion is no guarantee people won’t be assholes or bad. After awhile, enough people of faith die of cancer who prayed for a cure, that you do not kid yourself… this happens when you are about… what? 15?

    So you get into the religion. You strive to understand and relate to the deity and to do what the deity wants you to do. In time you find that neither you, nor the overwhelming majority of believers, are becoming better people.

    Okay, 1) how is this “better” measured? Because I think charity and love and hope and all that good stuff, does make people better. Without them, as conscious efforts, I tend to become cynical and nasty.

    2) And I don’t necessarily do religion to BE better (although it’s nice if it does that to me), I do it to FEEL BETTER, as well as channel the aforementioned impulses.

    And you find that neither you, nor the overwhelming majority of believers, see any miracles.

    I think most believers DO see miracles, so we’d have to disagree here. Hope IS miraculous. I’m here, and not dead; I consider that one of those AA miracles, and an answer to a direct prayer.

    And you find that in fact the deity fails to do anything that was promised.

    My deities/saints, etc always comfort me, always reply to me…. and that is all I require. They do fine by me–so I am confused when you say they don’t?

    If they didn’t, I wouldn’t bother. I keep doing it because it PSYCHOLOGICALLY WORKS FOR ME, and I assume that is the reason other people continue religious belief, too.

    See? Wrong set of questions. ;)

    PS: Existentialism rules!

  6. Wrong set of questions? For me these questions are valid and reflect my experience and those of many, many other de-converts.

    You say: I choose to believe since if I don’t, I become extremely superstitious and afraid of fate.

    That seems circular to me. You believe in a supernatural being, which to me IS superstition. If it gives you comfort, I have no problem with it, nor wish to talk you out of it, but to say that your “choice” saves you from superstition doesn’t work for me.

    But if you hang around long enough, you know that lots of these people are assholes and that religion is no guarantee people won’t be assholes or bad.

    Exactly LP’s point. Religionists says that following their chosen religion will make people better, but it doesn’t. Why not? Could it be that there really isn’t anything “supernatural” going on?

    I think charity and love and hope and all that good stuff, does make people better. Without them, as conscious efforts, I tend to become cynical and nasty.

    Again, you seem to be using circular reasoning here. You say that charity, love and hope are “conscious” efforts on your part. So where does God come in? Further, in your answer I sense a bit of “only religious people are capable of charity, love and hope.” I’ve read your blog, so I don’t think you really mean to imply that, but that’s what I read into your answer.

    I think most believers DO see miracles, so we’d have to disagree here.

    A definition of miracle would probably be in order here, but let’s just define it simply as something that defies the laws of nature. That you are alive and kicking is indeed a wonderful thing, but considering it a direct answer to prayer doesn’t make it so. However, if that is the way you choose to see it and experience it, I’m okay with that. Your choice, as you so clearly state. To me hope is not miraculous. It’s a feeling. A good one, no doubt, but it is an emotion, not a miracle. That people feel hope is what has provided for the survival of the species. I would venture to bet that the vast majority, if not the entire population feels hope, at least most of the time. It’s the loss of hope that leads to self-destructive behavior and worse. (BTW, your post on anti-depressants made me a fan…and I’m not just sucking up here).

    Yes, we agree to disagree. Note that the blog that I pulled that quote from is called de-Conversion and is a site for people who have either left the faith, usually after much anguish, or are in process of doing so. We didn’t decide to leave lightly.

    I’d love to have you post these same questions at LeoPardus’ post, and see what others have to say.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  7. but to say that your “choice” saves you from superstition doesn’t work for me.

    I always ask people–do you involuntarily wish on a fallen star, then feel embarrassed afterward? (that’s my test of involuntary superstition). I have no idea why this trait is so strong in some people and not in others, even within the same family (don’t think it is all a matter of simple upbringing).

    If you can’t control it, I feel it is better to channel it than allow it to channel you. If you don’t have this ingrained tendency, it might be hard to understand what that’s like. But I think lots of people are like me.

    You say that charity, love and hope are “conscious” efforts on your part. So where does God come in?

    God doesn’t, necessarily, but religion does. Religion I see as a series of conscious acts or rituals. One may or may not believe in God to act in a religious way. (Ever see the movie “She’s the One”? At one point, the dad says “Hey, I don’t have to believe in God to be a good Catholic!”)

    I think lots of fundies and suicide bombers are acting in an extreme way to shore up their faith; they might not actually believe as much as they say they do…

    “only religious people are capable of charity, love and hope.” I’ve read your blog, so I don’t think you really mean to imply that, but that’s what I read into your answer.

    Not at all… in fact, it may be true that some of us are “worse” than others… and need more discipline than others. I speak only for myself and my experience, which is why I call myself existentialist. (Your existence is YOUR problem, I have enough to worry about with my own!)

    Unfortunately, the fundies have ruined religion for a lot of people. I consider it like choosing a school, political ideology or lifestyle. I think emphasizing “choice” is the way to go, and forces people to take responsibility. Fundies usually won’t, and say [whatever they believe] just “is” so. I don’t say my belief is “true”–and in fact, I do believe faith itself is the virtue, a form of fidelity. (If we “proved” it, well, where does faith come in, then?)

    I don’t care if people agree with me or not, but I don’t like the assumption that I must be stupid or misguided for believing, when I have taken the time to craft a careful personal theology that I think is pretty good, if I do say so myself. Flaky, yes (and likely even heretical with my added tarot cards and astrology!)–but not oppressive, sexist, homophobic, creationist, etc.

    And I owe it all to Søren Kierkegaard, may his soul rest in peace! (I really need to do a post on him sometime.)

    Love your blog, too! :)

  8. And the operative word here is “personal” theology. If all the believers kept their theology to themselves, so to speak, we’d all be better off.

    As far as a practice of religion without necessarily believing in God, Bishop John Shelby Spong’s A New Christianity for a New World is one of the books I read on my journey. He doesn’t believe any of the Christian myths, refuses to sing the hymns that call all human beings worthless sinners, and has no belief in a personal God whatsoever. Yet he still practices his Christian religion and I can see why, just as I can see what you have done, consciously. I tried that road for a while, but in the end realized that I didn’t need the ritual once I had let go of the belief.

    You’ve done what so many do but don’t realize they’ve done: you’ve created a religion for yourself. within the framework of a traditional and culturally acceptable one. Further, you don’t go around and say Your Way is the Only Way, but it gets you through the night. What I find crazy making is those who pick and choose who they think God is (“Well I think God would never ____________”), then insist that they, above all other human beings, have a corner on the truth. Like Ann above, you are conscious in your choices and that is fine by me.

    Off to work!

  9. bluelyon said I might/could/should take a peek in here and maybe comment. So just a little.

    how is this “better” measured? Because I think charity and love and hope and all that good stuff, does make people better.

    Yeah. People becoming more charitable, or loving, or raising decent kids, or becoming less nasty, condescending, etc. would all be good measures of “better”. You can come up with other measures as you like. I just don’t see Christians becoming “better” in any of the measures that I think should apply (like love, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control and other traits mentioned in their Bible).

    And I don’t necessarily do religion to BE better (although it’s nice if it does that to me), I do it to FEEL BETTER, as well as channel the aforementioned impulses.

    That’s fine. I “did religion” (i.e., Christianity) because I thought it was the truth. Now I know it isn’t.

    I think most believers DO see miracles, so we’d have to disagree here. Hope IS miraculous. I’m here, and not dead; I consider that one of those AA miracles, and an answer to a direct prayer.

    Ah yes. The “ordinary miracles” argument. Look up “miracle” in a dictionary. The word means something. If you want to redefine it and use it to mean whatever you want, then all I have to say to you is, “Want, dog go onto haven haberdashery, clothed!”

    My deities/saints, etc always comfort me, always reply to me…. and that is all I require. They do fine by me–so I am confused when you say they don’t?

    They are not real. The comfort comes only from your wishing them to be real and convincing yourself that they are. That’s called a “delusion”. Not a terribly unhealthy one in your case, but a delusion all the same.

    See? Wrong set of questions.

    Glad it’s all so clear and simple for you. Pardon while I muddle through.

    PS: Existentialism rules!

    Agreed

  10. They are not real.

    Actually, saints are real biographical personages. They lived and died. I have been to several of their birthplaces. There are accounts of their lives.

    But as for deities, you can’t prove they are not real, any more than I can prove they are real.

    That’s the problem, see. I smell atheist fundamentalism, which can be just as uncompromising as any other kind. (And I speak as an ex-Marxist, so I DO know what I am talking about with that one.)

    That’s called a “delusion”. Not a terribly unhealthy one in your case, but a delusion all the same.

    And it’s a delusion to claim you know something is true, when you can’t prove it any more than I can. The difference is: I admit it I can’t prove what I think, but you don’t.

    Unfortunately, this is what happens with fundies… they go from one extreme to the other.

    As Buddha said, the middle path is the correct one. :)

  11. Daisy:

    That’s called a “delusion”. Not a terribly unhealthy one in your case, but a delusion all the same.

    And it’s a delusion to claim you know something is true, when you can’t prove it any more than I can. The difference is: I admit it I can’t prove what I think, but you don’t.

    Interesting you admit you cannot prove what you believe. Our question would be upon what is your delusion based?

    Since we cannot prove any particular god does or does not exist, and since we see no evidence of any supernatural events in our lifetime, we take the approach that no particular god exists.

    Now, a chorus of angels appearing to everyone, followed by the descent of god and the wrapping up of the world as it currently exists would undoubtedly convince all of us that there is a god.

    Until such an event, simplicity enjoins our trust (not belief) in reality as we can discern it.

  12. DaisyDeadhead:

    From your earlier post:
    My deities/saints, etc always comfort me, always reply to me…. and that is all I require. …. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t bother.
    From your later post:
    Actually, saints are real biographical personages. They lived and died. I have been to several of their birthplaces. There are accounts of their lives.

    In the first you claim that saints or deities comfort and reply to you (note use of CURRENT TENSE). In the next you say saints “lived and dies” (not use of PAST TENSE). This sort of thing is called being disingenuous.
    I don’t debate the historicity of saints. I’ve read their bios too. Hells bells, i go to an Orthodox Church. I hear about saints all the time. BUT, they are DEAD now.
    So you’re claiming to have interactions with either imaginary beings (deities) or dead people (saints). That’s delusory. Of course if this delusion helps you get through life, and if you’re basically a good person and good citizen, then go right ahead; enjoy your fantasy. It’s no skin off my nose.

    Now about “proving” something like a deity, or having interactions with dead people. I cannot “prove” it if you define “prove” as “establish absolutely”. That is the standard you seem to be using and it’s OK as far as it goes. But, since deities, seances, and the supernatural in general defy this level of proof, it’s really disingenuous to use it is such discussions. So let’s try something more realistic.
    How about “prove” defined as “establish according to preponderance of evidence”? That’s more realistic for the situation at hand.
    With a reasonable standard of “proof” in hand we can look at the world around us and see that for most deities, as defined by their respective religions, there’s no solid, objective evidence for their existence. Of course if you postulate a “hidden deity”, then there’s nothing we can do.
    Now you, and most theistic believers, don’t need such evidence. You want to believe and that’s all you need. But for those of us who want more than our wants to believe in, more is needed.

    Hope this is a bit clearer for all.

    BTW, I’m not an atheist fundy. And I stopped being a religious fundy well over a decade ago. I’m really a scientist to the core. So when folks say things that fly in the face of the evidence, I tend to come down hard.

  13. Interesting you admit you cannot prove what you believe. Our question would be upon what is your delusion based?

    I have no idea. Why do I have to “base it on” anything?

    Since we cannot prove any particular god does or does not exist, and since we see no evidence of any supernatural events in our lifetime, we take the approach that no particular god exists.

    That’s nice, I have no problem with that. If that works for you, excellent. I also advocate for protecting the rights of atheists.

    My only problem is when you start telling ME what to believe.

    Would you sentence me to a mental hospital (or gulag) for my delusions? If not, what exactly is the harm? And more to the point: Why this self-righteous need to inform me that you think I am wrong?

    See, I think this NEED to CORRECT people all the time, comes from fundamentalism. Until you remove this part out of the fundamentalist gestalt from your head, you are still a fundamentalist, just an atheist fundamentalist, rather than a religious one. (As one of my favorite modern philosophers said: meet the new boss, same as the old boss.)

    I believe it is this uncompromising, judgmental approach that is wrong and that is problematic for our modern world… not the belief (or non-belief) itself.

    Now, a chorus of angels appearing to everyone, followed by the descent of god and the wrapping up of the world as it currently exists would undoubtedly convince all of us that there is a god.

    No sarcasm necessary, but that is also part of the fundamentalist gestalt I speak of: whoever doesn’t see it your way is a deluded idiot or asshole.

    I don’t require choirs of angels, et. al., to believe in God, and you do. Okay, so what? Respecting everyone is the main thing, IMHO.

    Until such an event, simplicity enjoins our trust (not belief) in reality as we can discern it.

    Fine, but does this necessitate having no respect for people who come to another conclusion? How is that behaving differently from the fundies, in that case?

    Meet the new boss….

  14. In the first you claim that saints or deities comfort and reply to you (note use of CURRENT TENSE). In the next you say saints “lived and dies” (not use of PAST TENSE). This sort of thing is called being disingenuous.

    (((sigh))) I meant, in response to the usual atheist argument that we can’t prove Jesus or Krishna, et. al. actually existed… saints are another category, a group of humans who actually did exist… we can prove most of them were real, unlike deities. I was separating the statement.

    Deities are supernatural. Saints are regular people (i.e. Mother Teresa) now believed to be in heaven. Somewhat a different thing, and I don’t think the two should be conflated in this argument.

    I don’t debate the historicity of saints. I’ve read their bios too. Hells bells, i go to an Orthodox Church.

    Why, if you are atheist? Isn’t that hypocritical? Do you say the creed, pray with everyone present, as well as cross yourself?

    Why?

    I hear about saints all the time. BUT, they are DEAD now.
    So you’re claiming to have interactions with either imaginary beings (deities) or dead people (saints). That’s delusory.

    And stating you are an atheist while attending church is inconsistent in the extreme (to me). I don’t get that at all, but hey, do whatever you need to do.

    Nobody’s perfect, eh?

    Of course if this delusion helps you get through life, and if you’re basically a good person and good citizen, then go right ahead; enjoy your fantasy. It’s no skin off my nose.

    Thanks so much for your generous approval!

    Now about “proving” something like a deity, or having interactions with dead people. I cannot “prove” it if you define “prove” as “establish absolutely”.

    Yes, that is my standard.

    That is the standard you seem to be using and it’s OK as far as it goes. But, since deities, seances, and the supernatural in general defy this level of proof, it’s really disingenuous to use it is such discussions. So let’s try something more realistic.
    How about “prove” defined as “establish according to preponderance of evidence”?

    Why this need to prove anything supernatural? The whole point of something being supernatural is its METAPHYSICAL BASIS and the fact that it IS unproven.

    I DON’T WANT TO PROVE IT! I like mystery and magic. If it was proven, well, I probably wouldn’t want any part of it.

    But see, that’s me. I understand that others approach the subject of the supernatural differently, and that’s okay. I have no need to force everyone to come to my conclusions.

    Why do you?

    That’s more realistic for the situation at hand.
    With a reasonable standard of “proof” in hand we can look at the world around us and see that for most deities, as defined by their respective religions, there’s no solid, objective evidence for their existence. Of course if you postulate a “hidden deity”, then there’s nothing we can do.
    Now you, and most theistic believers, don’t need such evidence. You want to believe and that’s all you need. But for those of us who want more than our wants to believe in, more is needed.

    So? Okay, for you, more is needed. Why attack believers over what YOU need? Why are WE responsible for insuring you get what you need? I am not responsible for your belief or unbelief.

    This concept initially came from Christianity’s “great commission”–preach the gospel to all nations, etc. You expect us to preach to YOU, so you can knock it all down. Again, let me state: I have no desire to preach to you, or prove anything.

    I find this a very peculiar approach, like the guy arguing on my blog today that I prove polygamy is okay. I didn’t say it was OKAY OR GOOD, I said if you choose that lifestyle, IT ISN’T MY BUSINESS.

    A spiritually-libertarian, existential view seems foreign to most people these days, and I find this terribly disturbing on a purely intellectual level.

    Hope this is a bit clearer for all.

    Not at all, as I just stated.

    BTW, I’m not an atheist fundy. And I stopped being a religious fundy well over a decade ago. I’m really a scientist to the core. So when folks say things that fly in the face of the evidence, I tend to come down hard.

    ‘Scientists to the core’ are some of the most extreme fundamentalists in the world. I was married to one, and I know.

    Sorry, but to me, you still sound like one. My way or the highway.

    Except, you go to church. Now, that is interesting. Tell me more about why you do that?

  15. Why, if you are atheist? Isn’t that hypocritical?

    I go because my family goes and I do not care to make waves. It also happens that i actually like the divine liturgy. The music is beautiful and I like singing, and the liturgy is quite peace-inducing.

    Do you say the creed, pray with everyone present, as well as cross yourself?

    I tend to mumble during the creeds. I take on a respectful stance in prayers. I cross usually [up to down, then right to left; the proper way; not like those RCC fools.... :) ] simply because most people don’t know I’m not a believer anymore and I don’t really want to call attention to myself as that could spawn conversations I don’t want. (e.g. having to basically try to talk them out of their beliefs). [Note: On a site like this I will try to talk people out of their beliefs since by coming here any theist is essentially giving approval for such.]

    Why this need to prove anything supernatural?

    Because, as an apologist I once knew would say, “My heart cannot accept what my mind rejects.” Both must be together, else I am a divided and conflicted being.

    The whole point of something being supernatural is its METAPHYSICAL BASIS and the fact that it IS unproven.

    Not to me. The point of something being supernatural is that it is amazing, abnormal, etc. If it’s unproven, then it’s kind of …. nothing I guess.

    . If it was proven, well, I probably wouldn’t want any part of it.

    Suffice to say that you’re VERY different from me on this. I simply cannot operate that way.

    I have no need to force everyone to come to my conclusions.
    Why do you?

    This rather begs the question of why you’re here then. It’s and atheist/agnostic blog site. If you don’t need to prove/force/etc. why even post here?
    As for me, I don’t really care. You posted some stuff I don’t agree with; I challenged it.

    Okay, for you, more is needed. Why attack believers over what YOU need?

    You aren’t being attacked. I’m calling you on some stuff you said that I do not agree with, or think is unfounded. If you regard being asked to back up your beliefs (stated by you on an atheist/agnostic blog site) as an attack, what are you even here for?

    Why are WE responsible for insuring you get what you need?

    You’re not. Whatever made you think you were?

    You expect us to preach to YOU, so you can knock it all down. Again, let me state: I have no desire to preach to you, or prove anything.

    I don’t expect you to preach to me. I didn’t invite you here. You came on your own. Again, let me ask, why did you bother? ……. Did you think folks on an atheist/agnostic blog were just going to say, “Oh. That’s nice. Let’s just all toke up and believe in this guy’s nice delusory world.”
    For crying out loud guy; it’s an atheist/agnostic site! Did you really think you’d just waltz in and experience acceptance of your beliefs? If I went to a religious blog and posted my positions, would i expect to experience a lovey-dovey acceptance and a hippy love-fest? THINK it through dude! Don’t give us this whiney-arse, “Waaaah! I’m being attacked!” drivel. Man up or walk. If the mere challenging of your beliefs is too much for you, don’t come in here.

    FWIW, when I was a believer, I waded into atheist/agnostic/Muslim/etc. settings (both on line and face to face) and debated. Things got heated at times. I heard people from other religions and people with no religion give this wimpy “Waaaah! Don’t attack me!” crap. I have zero (make that subzero) respect for it. NEVER, ever did I use it. it’s sickening.

    ‘Scientists to the core’ are some of the most extreme fundamentalists in the world. I was married to one, and I know.

    Yep. I know them too. Gus Nossal is a good example of one.
    I also know what honest scientists are like. They follow the data. If it trounces their pet theory, tough luck for the theory.

    Except, you go to church. Now, that is interesting. Tell me more about why you do that?

    Said some already. Friends, family, nice service, not making waves….

  16. Just popping in to say that I am enjoying this back and forth immensely!

    Daisy, LP and I are of the same mind here: whatever gets you through the day is no skin off our noses, but your original post ended with “See? Wrong questions!” which was a direct challenge to LP’s post. To me, those are just the questions one should ask if being asked to believe in a supernatural being.

    Leo challenged your answers, but nowhere did I see him tell you that you can’t believe as you do. For him, believing without evidence is not something he is capable of doing any longer. Same goes for me. When I was a believer, I didn’t do it for the religion or the good feelings I got, I followed the religion because I really truly believed that God existed and that the Only Way I could be with God was through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

    In your first answer you said: I like most deities fine; I chose the one I am most familiar with culturally …

    How many deities (and I assume you mean this in a supernatural, watching over us, intervening in human affairs way) do you think exist? Or do you have a different definition of deity? Does it matter to choose one over the other or are they all pretty much equal? Why or why not? How does this work with the Nicene Creed? Because when I was a believer, one god…that was it. All those other ones were false gods / idols.

  17. You aren’t being attacked. I’m calling you on some stuff you said that I do not agree with, or think is unfounded. If you regard being asked to back up your beliefs (stated by you on an atheist/agnostic blog site) as an attack, what are you even here for?

    I came here because Blue Lyon came to my blog, and I because I tend to agree with her politically. I did not consider this an “atheist blog”–but if it is, I apologize for interfering.

    When I said “why attack believers”–I was being rhetorical, not referring to myself. I meant the manner in which Richard Dawson, Christopher Hitchens, et al, attack believers. It’s a mindset, and I think you subscribe to it.

    Did you think folks on an atheist/agnostic blog were just going to say, “Oh. That’s nice. Let’s just all toke up and believe in this guy’s nice delusory world.”
    For crying out loud guy; it’s an atheist/agnostic site!

    Again, I guess I saw it as a liberal/feminist site. I didn’t know it was limited to atheists, and I apologize again. I won’t approach the subject here again.

    (I enjoy theological discussion, so that is why.)

    For crying out loud guy; it’s an atheist/agnostic site! Did you really think you’d just waltz in and experience acceptance of your beliefs?

    See above.

    I thought we were simply having a discussion, did not expect “acceptance”–sorry again.

    If I went to a religious blog and posted my positions, would i expect to experience a lovey-dovey acceptance and a hippy love-fest?

    On mine you would. Hippies fucking rule.

    Hippie love-fests are superior to most anything I can think of.

    THINK it through dude! Don’t give us this whiney-arse, “Waaaah! I’m being attacked!” drivel.

    See above.

    Man up or walk. If the mere challenging of your beliefs is too much for you, don’t come in here.

    See above.

    As a feminist, never much cared for the expression “man up”–which usually translates “be obnoxious as hell”… ;)

    How about you “woman up” and consider people’s FEELINGS when you throw words like “delusional” around?

    “See? Wrong questions!” which was a direct challenge to LP’s post. To me, those are just the questions one should ask if being asked to believe in a supernatural being.

    I saw it more as being impish, didn’t know it would make him so mad!

    To me, those are the wrong questions, for the reasons I stated. If I were a fundamentalist, I suppose they would be. But I think most people (who are not fundamentalists, but fundamentalists are simply the LOUDEST) believe for the sake of their own well-being, not to serve dogma. I believe religion evolved with human beings and is part of us, and appeals to that part of us we have named a “soul.” In keeping with that concept, I think the questions he asked are the dogmatic questions, not the soul-searching questions, the psychological reasons for belief.

    but nowhere did I see him tell you that you can’t believe as you do

    No, but he did say I was delusional, which I think is disrespectful and insulting. (Would you like to be called delusional?) I don’t think that’s the way to harmony, world peace, and blah blah. I think it’s more of the same; the problem, not the solution– “I’m right, you’re wrong, and fuck you”–is the root cause of ALL the world’s ills, in my humble hippie opinion. (And money, too, of course!)

    I just wondered, why the need to insult people like that?

    I followed the religion because I really truly believed that God existed and that the Only Way I could be with God was through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

    There are several parts to that sentence. 1) God exists and 2) Only way to God is 3) personal relationship with 4) Jesus Christ. I am with #1, but 2, 3, 4 are dogma. And you say it all as one sentence, like they all have to go together. They don’t. That is all I am saying.

    If they didn’t, would you change your mind on #1? (rhetorical question only! not trying to convert people!) I think lots of people do come back to #1, after deciding 2, 3, 4 are optional or even wrong.

    How many deities (and I assume you mean this in a supernatural, watching over us, intervening in human affairs way) do you think exist? Or do you have a different definition of deity? Does it matter to choose one over the other or are they all pretty much equal? Why or why not? How does this work with the Nicene Creed? Because when I was a believer, one god…that was it. All those other ones were false gods / idols.

    I am pretty sure they all have a common root–if you go back far enough, the stories and motifs repeat and overlap, loops within loops. Moses, Mohammed and Krishna all went up a mountain to encounter God and the law personally. Jesus and Buddha both “ascended”–and in fact, Buddha ascended from under a tree, Christ ON a tree. And Jesus and Buddha’s mothers were both virgins and had similar names, Mary and Maya. (Krishna and Christ, likewise, sound alike)

    I tend to see them as branches of a mighty and beautiful tree.

    As I said, I choose the one I am most culturally familiar with, as a Catholic. And as I said, I love the saints and holy days.

    The Nicene Creed doesn’t say I can’t believe my “branches” theory. :)

  18. If they didn’t, would you change your mind on #1? (rhetorical question only! not trying to convert people!) I think lots of people do come back to #1, after deciding 2, 3, 4 are optional or even wrong.

    No. I tried to just do #1 after leaving 2, 3 and 4 and realized that I was just faking it.

  19. Interesting post, though I don’t agree that there is a heaven, hell, afterlife or anything after death.

    I liked this comment:

    Sailorman Writes:

    December 30th, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Christians don’t have to believe that you can only come to heaven through christianity? See, this is one reason why religion squicks me out: it’s just a bunch of people who are making up their own “suits me!” moral codes–which is not so bad–but then claiming some added nonsense about some godling that gives your morality some extra oomph.

    I mean, if you want to make up your own moral codes, why throw god into it at all? Why include heaven? Doesn’t it seem a bit bizarre?

    This would be my take as well.

  20. I mean, if you want to make up your own moral codes, why throw god into it at all? Why include heaven? Doesn’t it seem a bit bizarre?

    Why not?

    It’s just so much more FUN. Why not have fun?

    I love it, as Leo described the process of worship:

    It also happens that i actually like the divine liturgy. The music is beautiful and I like singing, and the liturgy is quite peace-inducing.

    I love it too–and IMHO it’s even more peace-inducing when you believe it and you are swept away by it/enclosed within it.

    (I also love the Maronite, Antioch, Coptic, Greek and Byzantine liturgies, not just the Roman Catholic.)

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