Monthly Archives: December 2008
Over the last few days, a fellow I didn’t know sent me a series of messages on Facebook, asking me if I’d explain further a statement I made on another person’s page in response to that person’s posting. I said Sure… It became apparent in just a couple exchanges that this wasn’t a sincere inquiry into what *I meant, but a backdoor effort to bring me to Jesus. There are two most telling items here; his comment in red, and the fact that he NEVER went to read what I suggested. Here is the exchange – with his and his friend’s names removed- initials only. Atheists will find this exchange classic. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this same conversation, almost word for word, yet each Christian thinks they’ve come up with a new approach. I’ve given him the last word in each case, because he wouldn’t stop until I did.
Here y’are. BEGIN MSGS. (Note as there were three different threads, noted below. G’s comments are in bold, my replies in plain text.)
G- Hi Carol, I am a friend of S’s. I was just curious. Are you a Christian or an athiest or neither?
Carol: Hi G… I am an atheist with strong Buddhist philosophical leanings, and a naturalist – which is very much like a buddhist, in that I think everything is interrelated, and nothing is ‘better’ than anything else. What are you? Why do you ask?
G- I am a Christian. I just asked because I saw your post on his wall. Have you always been an athiest or were you once something else? If so, what caused the change?
Carol – I became atheist – actually agnostic in the usual definition – had a lot of doubts but hadn’t made a decision about the existence of gods- in my teens. Some years later, after a lot of thought, I realized I am atheist. What caused the change? Well, (and I mean no offense to you– you’re asking me!) the tenets of beliefs were irrational to me. The reasons for gods existenses were unjustifiable, in my mind. Just as to you what I believe is inconceivable, belief in gods is, to me, bizarre and irrational.
G- I see. So, why is belief in God irrational to you? Is that your main criteria for determining whether a thing be credible or no?
Carol- It might be easier for you to read my blogs, and other commentary to get an idea of where I’m coming from. The blog is on www.caraleisa.com, and there are other articles I’ve written on www.philosoraptor.com.
To answer the ‘irrational’ bit… it’s ONE criteria which applies to SOME things, and not others. There’s nothing which applies to everything!
G- So basically you belief all Truth to be had is relative, and that there are no universal truths?
Carol – That’s a pretty all-encompassing statement, but if you mean do I think there are absolute truths, then no, I do not. I’m curious why you are asking… are you truly interested in understanding where atheists are coming from, or are you out to save me?
G- Well, actually BOTH! I genuinely care about people and their beliefs and there futures. That is part of being a Christian. I’ll understand if you want to discontinue dialoguing…
Carol – I don’t mind discussing my beliefs with you, as long as you put your agenda aside and truly want ONLY to learn. If you can do that, we can talk. If you want to save me, then no, I am truly not interested. I wonder if you understand how offensive that is – try thinking of it in reverse – if I wanted to talk to you because I said I genuinely care about people but really want I wanted was to get you to recognize and accept the absurdity and falsehood of your beliefs. See what I mean?
So… it’s up to you. I’ll be happy to explain my beliefs to you if you are still interested. I don’t want to hear about Christianity, though! If that’s not what you want, that’s ok, too…
G – Like I said, actually BOTH I DO want to hear you beliefs, but would like it to be fair (i.e. I am able to express mine also). The Gospel by nature is offensive to us all, because it exposes us for what we really are…and we don’t like that.
Carol – Well, I’m afraid I don’t want to hear your beliefs… so I suppose we’re at a standstill. See, YOU asked me about mine, but I haven’t asked you about yours… and don’t intend to. It was not the gospel I found offensive; it is the attitude that only a Christian is right about the issue of gods, and I need to hear from you to fix myself. You don’t know anything about my experiences, or what I DO know about Christianity. . . which is a great deal. I just don’t buy it, and am pretty tired of Christians trying to ‘educate’ me. Also, I really DO like who I am, and am sorry that your gospels make you feel that you don’t like yourself. I am a good person, I care for and help people, and give them respect for who they are, without trying to change them. I think that I deserve the same respect. So, we’re going nowhere, Greg. I wish you well, though! And like I said, there’s a great deal about my beliefs on the websites I pointed out to you if you really DO want to know how I think. Have a great holiday, and Happy New Year!
G- Carol, based on what you wrote, I am afraid you don’t understand the gospel. It doesn’t make you feel bad about yourself. The Gospel is Good News! That is why Christians don’t want to shut up and want to talk about it all the time!
Carol – G***, I didn’t say that, YOU did. And seriously, if you want to save someone, find someone else, it won’t be me. I’m already quite well saved. You need to understand that pushing your faith on others is not always welcome. I really don’t want to be rude, but I really am not going to play…
G- Carol, Whart are saved from?
Carol Everhart Roper – Your evangelism…
G- You enjoyed saying that one didn’t you?
Carol- Well, you DID ask for it! And actually, no, I didn’t enjoy it. I don’t like to be forced to be heavy handed to get a point across, but you sorta left me no choice.
G- Its fine…you didn’t offend me.
It’s funny because between the two of us, you seem to be the less “tolerant” and yet the general charge is that Christians are the ones who are not tolerant of listening and accepting others…
G – I hope… You aren’t afraid of hearing my perspective
Carol Everhart Roper — Haha, no I am not afraid of it. I am simply totally uninterested in it. Sorry!!
NOTE: HERE is where the true colors show:
G- Fair enough. Your choice. I will not be held accountable for not trying to warn you on the Day of Reckoning.
Carol Quote: << I will not be held accountable for not trying to warn you on the Day of Reckoning.>> Wow… do you not think that’s pretty sanctimonious? G***, I am not and have not attacked your beliefs,but am simply stating that they are NOT mine, and I do not wish to rethink what I believe. Now that you realize you’re not going to get anywhere, please don’t throw that stuff at me. It’s meaningless to me, and just feels rude. Again, Best wishes to you and yours.
G– Carol, I didn’t say it to make you angry. I said it out of heartfelt concern. Please don’t mistake that for rudeness. I have not intentions of being rude to you. honest.
Carol Everhart Roper – Good, I am glad you were unintentionally rude, and didn’t mean to be … well, I think we’ve wrapped this conversation up! Happy Holidays!
G- But the Gospel is offensive, and that is what I have been sharing. Merry Christmas! Jesus is Lord!
the >> preceding a line is a quote from my original article, Bold is her comment, and then in Bold Italics is my response.
> First, I tackled his idea that being atheist is a
> choice – (specifically, a choice NOT to take a leap
> of faith). That’s two sided right there. It’s NOT a
> choice about belief – either you do, or like us, you
> do not. We didn’t just up and arbitrarily choose to
> abandon god one day. Atheists, almost all of them in
> my experience, (and I do know a lot of them!) always
> come to their atheism by rational thought. <<
Umm, I’ve known people to turn atheist for other
reasons because they have a simplistic approach to
religious philosophy. And not all atheists are
rational, moral or non arrogant…. I find the good
versus evil Christianity a bit silly, I find the born
agains as ridiculous as I do the Muslims who believe
that everyone is born Muslim and one does not convert,
but reverts to Islam. I find the Hindu idea of
simplistic rebirth daft and I find the complex rituals
in modern day Buddhism strange considering it was born
out of Prince Siddharta’s revolt against Hinduism that
had become very ritualistic and Brahmanical.
I should have been more clear, Uju. Some people get angry with their gods, and then say they’re atheist. I should use Rick Wingrove’s term “Fully REalized Atheist” to distinguish between an angry theist and a sincere atheist.
Below this I do state that atheism doesn’t make one more rational, moral or non-arrogant than theism – that there are all types of people on both sides of belief.
I also find many of the tenets of most religions incomprehensible.
> step back from any one religion and begin to compare
> it to all religions with belief in deities, you can
> see pretty easily where these ideas came from. And
> they came from humans trying to explain away
> phenomena they were otherwise incapable of
> explaining. As we progressed with science<<
That’s a bit arrogant….my dear?
Why? I think what I said is a bit simplistic, as there are numerous other reasons religions originated besides the need to explain what we don’t understand (such as power, etc), but I’m not convinced it’s an arrogant statement.
> philosophy and have the ability to do serious
> comparisons among the myths of all religions, we see
> repeated patterns of the ‘tales’ of the individual
> gods. The Moses in a Basket story, for example, is
> repeated in several religions with the names and
> locations changed. The virgin birth story is
> repeated in multiple faiths. The list goes on and
> on. (A wonderful resource for these comparisons, and
> a truly fascinating read is “The Women’s
> Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets”, by Barbara G
> Walker, is a book I received as a gift years ago,
> and return to frequently.)<<
I’ll look it up but forgive me if I am a bit sceptical
about its premises.
I’m all for skepticism, all the time. Including of anything I might say!! As an aside, Gary D gave me the book – and he’s a thinker I respect as well. I predict that you’ll love the book. It’s a lovely collection of theological beliefs, their origins and parallels around the world, done in a dictionary style. Nothing here is (in my opinion) controversial theory, just the facts, ma’am. <g>
> When you DO investigate, and you DO find real
> evidence for the genesis of supreme beings in the
> minds of our ancestors, it’s pretty hard to continue
> to accept these ideas as valid for many of us. Just
> as we know the earth is not flat, and we know the
> universe is huge and we are barely a speck in it, we
> can know that primitive ideas our species developed
> can be abandoned as knowledge prevails. <<
There seems to be some preconceived notion of what is
primitive in your thinking…. and of what constitutes
“knowledge and knowing”?
Primitive: beliefs held which have been proven wrong by scientific evaluation. Knowledge – the bodies of information we have available to us – Knowing: the ability to USE that knowledge to form our own conclusions (perhaps correct, perhaps not). That’s my take on the three terms.
> I must also briefly address the harm done by
> religions. almost every war in human history has
> been over different gods. The losses, the
> destruction, the pain and death perpetrated in the
> names of gods is staggering. The knowledge
> civilization possessed before being destroyed in the
> dark ages is nothing short of heartbreaking. All in
> the names of gods. From the FEAR of rational thought
> and discourse. But I digress.<<
To blame this on religion is also simplistic and
“primitive” and uninformed. As we all know, politics
and power cause these losses and destruction, not
But the genesis of politics and power have very often been either overtly or covertly led by religion. Can you tell me of any war in which religion played NO part?
No religion preaches harm to anyone, even
Islam and Christianity that I call the “soul-hunting
religions” do not anywhere state that not being a
believer is a sin or wrong.
UM, I must very seriously disagree with you here. I was raised Roman Catholic, and we certainly were told that those who are not RC, (not just generic believers) were wrong and could NOT ‘go to heaven’. If they were really good but simply uninformed as to the TRUE RELIGION, they would not have to go to hell, but could go to Limbo… a place of peace where you have all the benefits of heaven except being in the presence of and seeing the face of God. I have spoken with numerous folks from other religions who also have shown me the teachings stating non-compliant belief is indeed a sin and wrong. It’s stated in the Bible. I believe (though am not personally familiar with it) that it is also so stated in the Koran. I do not know if Judaism or Hindu beliefs say so – I *think they do not. Same with Buddhists - acceptance and compassion seem to be their base concepts. christianity and islam do indeed condemn the non-believer.
Rational thought is not
and cannot explain some things that separate our
species from the others: emotions, ideals,…. I could
go on. To blame these losses on religion is no
different than saying that atheists are nutters.
I don’t believe I said anywhere that rational thought or scientific methodology holds all answers to everything. We can, however, explain a lot of emotions in rather mundane neurological terms- most interestingly in atypical processes. I guess I’m not exactly sure what your point is here. What losses? (Some atheists ARE nutters — just like theists.)
> My point here is that there is no real choice. It’s
> pretty easy to KNOW there are no gods, either.<<
really? Or is it because you Choose to believe that
there are no gods?
This is *REALLY* an important point. I do not CHOOSE what I believe, just as you don’t, either. We may arrive at our conclusions via very different paths, but it is in NO WAY a “choice” of which to believe, just as sexual orientation is not a choice. Just as left or righthandedness is not a choice. I can CHOOSE to ponder the question or avoid considering it, but I can’t choose my conclusions when I do the thinking. Not if I’m honest with myself… and what is the point of not being honest with oneself?
> arguments “Well maybe there are no gods as any
> humans have described could be true but you can’t
> know there are no gods we don’t know about!” or
> “Well Everything is God, so there!” are beyond
> absurd. HUH? WE invented the idea and concept – the
> WORD – god(s). So we cannot make the word then have
> alternative meanings and associations we don’t yet
> know about. The invention does NOT take on a life
> above and beyond that of the inventor. I am simply,
> totally incapable of saying “I know there is no god
> but I am going to choose to believe there is a god.”
> I asked our friend if he could be an atheist for a
> day. He said, “I could but I choose not to do that.”
> Uh huh. So that’s the ‘choice’ part.<<
That’s an interesting take on atheism and theism.
> The arrogance. Wow. Ok. Every atheist I know has
> approached their own beliefs with as open a mind as
> is possible. Like a serious scientist with
> integrity, you do NOT state your conclusion until
> you do the work. And the answer is a RESULT of the
I am sorry but that is pure and wonderfully funny
arrogance… like someone who says “I don’t judge
people” and yet holds very strong opinions…A serious
scientist? And not a serious theist? Why? Because an
atheist cannot wrap his/her mind around what s/he
refuses to see or experience? Besides, as Pascal will
tell you, science is not infallible either….
You find it arrogant to say that I and others are dedicated to being openminded, simply because our conclusions do not match yours? … Being respectful of others RIGHTS to their own opinions, beliefs, etc, does NOT in any way require one to have no opinions of one’s own! And of course science is not infallible. NOTHING is infallible! Either we’re not communicating here, or I think YOUR statement is arrogant!! <giggle>
>>Sure you begin with a hypothesis, either I
> think that “There is a god”, or “There is not a
> god”. But serious research will NOT permit any
> ‘givens’ other than what is, in fact, there.You
> can NOT state that you KNOW there is a god when the
> WAY you know is that you took a LEAP OF FAITH. <<
All life experiences require a LEAP OF FAITH. Whether
“discovering” fire, “hidden continents”, trusting
another human, everything requires a leap of faith.
And some of us (me for example) have come to view
spirituality through our experiences that science has
not been able to explain. And I have spooked Pascal
many times with these. And who defines what is
“serious research”? That is a qualitative, individual
decision, or a community of scared scientists wanting
desperately to prove a hypothesis.
Hmmm. I think we need to define ‘leap of faith’ here and speak within these parameters. I cannot even imagine how you call discovering fire a leap of faith, for example. But I repeat, — I never stated that science has the answers to EVERYTHING. “Serious scientific research” is very easily defined by the entire scientific community, following specific rules, and is anything BUT an individual decision. In fact, it’s the individual decision about the rules of research which DISqualify it as ‘serious’. Where on earth are you coming up with this ‘scared scientists’ routine?
The essence of true scientific exploration is to discover the fact, WHATEVER it is. To in every way AVOID guiding any experiments toward any specific answer. And when we talk about scientific discoveries or theories or hypotheses, we are obligated by integrity to state what is an idea, an educated but unproven guess, versus what has been proven. Science, however, will by it’s very nature, turn over anything when new evidence is presented. To seek truth is the ultimate and sole goal of science.
> Well, you can state it, but you shouldn’t seriously
> expect anyone else to buy it, should you? <<
Errrm why not? Scientists expect the world to believe
them! I do believe the earth is round (Hindus actually
did), I did believe that egg yolks were terrible for
me, and now they aren’t as bad; wine was bad for me,
now it isn’t bad; theories about colds etc… we could
go on. Western doctors insisted that Indians stop
massaging babies, well now it’s all the rage. Don’t
stimulate babies, now let’s give them the rubiks cube!
There was life on Mars, well is there? We all
ultimately believe what we want to. Science goes on to
prove and disprove itself, which is what I like about
it. We don’t know enough, but have decided to place
science (hard science, soft science, social science,
there’s a caste system in science as well) on a
pedestal. And what we as a species place on a pedestal
always seems to come to a fall.
I have no argument with this, nor did I say otherwise. In fact, I THOUGHT I essentially said the exact same thing above. You said “Science goes on to prove and disprove itself, which is what I like about it.” and I agree entirely. I also agree that anything we idealize has only one way to go, and that’s down.
>>What if I
> told you that I have the obligation to kill anyone
> who disagrees with me because Jojo the Great told
> me, and I HEARD him say it in my head and heart,
> that I was entrusted with carrying out this mission.
> Exchange ‘Jojo’ with ‘GOD’ and you have exactly the
> situation in the conflict between the Shia and Sunni
> in Iraq. – that one is too primitive for you? Ok,
> the English and the Irish. How’s THAT for
> unbelieveable in today’s world, in the most advanced
> societies on earth we STILL have religious wars.<<,
Nowadays they would call you schizo and call in the
blokes in white coats…. but wait, all the theories
of creativity and intelligence have documented that in
a number of cases (Einstein included) all had inklings
or “dream states” where they “saw” (I hate using the
words because they have been mocked and misused often)
prior to things happening….
A leap of intuition which causes one to then explore and either prove or disprove it is NOT accepting the concept as a leap of faith. Yes indeed, it’s well documented that scientists just like everyone else, have what we call intuited ideas. The absolute difference, however, is that while you or I might intuit something and in our personal lives choose to then ‘believe’ it, no scientist worth his salt can do this. I think we have all had experiences which we can’t explain. I am not sure how that invalidates atheism.
The Shia and Sunni feud,
by calling it primitive, that is offensive to say the
Here I need to clarify what *I meant because indeed it sure does sound offensive. I’ve used this example before and been told it doesn’t hold up because ‘they are primitive’. I very much do NOT consider Arab culture primitive – indeed, as you well know, Indian and Arab peoples have contributed tremendously, throughout history, to science, art, culture, etc. So I outright APOLOGIZE for how that sounded – it truly is not how I meant it.
Let’s look in our own backyard: Native
Americans and the whites in America. How in anyone’s
name can you justify calling today’s world “the most
advanced societies on earth”? To me, we live in a
hypocritical, smug, arrogant, twatty, superficial,
money-minded, selfish (did I say arrogant) society and
time period ever. It’s as if we’ve returned to our
egocentric childhood state. If world leadership is an
indication of being advanced then, we’re in sorry
shape! Obama or not… he seems to have turned into a
media circus with his family turning into a hollywood
I don’t particluarly disagree with your portrayal of our world today; but in FACT, we DO live in the most advanced societies on earth. ADVANCED does not equate to PERFECT in any way. We do have access to the most advanced medicine, science, food, housing, etc. Can it improve, DAMN STRAIGHT it can and must.
> Oh, yes. well you’re right – Stalin WAS atheist. But
> Hitler was a Catholic. ANY belief structure, theist
> or atheist, will have both good and bad people.
> FAITH does not make you GOOD, and no religious faith
> does not, by default, make you BAD.<<
There we agree. Religion (atheism or Hinduism) all
have their good and bad apples…. and their own
interpretation of religion, faith and principles. BTW
I think of atheism as a religion, it has its own dogma
and as many interpretations as there are atheists.
We agree until you come to atheism is a religion. One can metaphorically call science a religion, but in fact, it’s NOT. The same with atheism. All atheism means is WITHOUT GODS. There is NO dogma about it, and no karma running over it. <grin>. Any philosophy which goes beyond that simple fact is not pure atheism, but atheism as a base for expanding one’s personal (or group) ideas. Humanism, for example, is BASED upon atheism, but goes beyond it in what it claims is ‘best to do’… etc. The Humanist Manifesto, for example, www.americanhumanist.org/about/manifesto1.html, states it is NOT a creed but rather a point of view. I, for example, while espousing many of the ideas, do not consider myself a Humanist because I disagree with some of their beliefs. Yes, HUMANISM can be a belief structure, better called a PHILOSOPHY – BUT NOT A RELIGION as religion by definition encompasses “A system of practices which act according to beliefs, including belief in the existence of at least one of the following: a human soul or spirit, a deity or higher being, or self after the death of one’s body. ” (definition from www.Wiktionary.com). And on with other belief structures versus Religions.
> morals EVOLVED with the growth of civilization. What
> worked is ethical and “Good”, what does not work is
> “Wrong”. I know many people of assorted faiths who
> are GOOD, loving, caring and for the most part, not
> particularly judgemental.Until it comes to issues
> which conflict with their beliefs. Such as rights
> for homosexuals.<<
Are you implying here that atheists do not fall in
this category? Just as there are pro life lesbians and
pro life atheists, there are judgmental atheists…
they do hold rather fierce opinions and opinions are
Not at all. I’ve stated elsewhere that atheists are no different than theists … there are good ones, bad ones, judgemental ones and non-judgemental (to the best of their capacity) ones.
>>They can live together, but they
> can’t use the word MARRIAGE because WE own it. Good
> grief. It’s a WORD. You do not own it, nor can you
> legislate love. You know, approximately one in ten
> people throughout the world (and in many animal
> species, too!) is born with the genetic makeup to be
> homosexual. One in TEN, folks. The ancients knew
> this, and it was accepted as normal. <<
But it seems to me that it was accepted as normal for
men largely NOT for women. I agree you cannot
legislate love, and marriage, frankly I don’t care,
never been a proponent of marriage as it exists now,
and the Noah’s Ark idea of couplehood.
Honestly I do not know =how much= more it was accepted for men than women, but historically women have always gotten the short end of the stick. (yes, pun intended.) I’m pretty traditional in that I like marriage. It works for me… and I think everyone else should have the RIGHT to have it IF they want it.
> modern religions entered the picture did we begin to
> remove rights from folks who are in the minority due
> to the accident of birth. And here again the list
> goes on, of peoples who are treated badly in one way
> or another simply because they hold a different
> belief or live a different way than we do.
> So you wonder, does Ms. Caraleisa see any good at
> all in religions? Yes, actually, I do. Just as
> religion has its overwhelming dark side, it also has
> a beautiful, good side. It’s inspired some GREAT
> music! There is much GOOD done in the names of the
> assorted dieties, albeit along with the good is a
> strong ‘suggestion’ that the recipient should, in
> abject gratefulness, adopt the beliefs of the givers
> (which is a gift with strings. Ugh.).<<
Religion has inspired some of the most sensual poetry
(Mirabai’s poetry about Krishna the god as her lover
is pure orgasm), sculpture, theatre, philosophy, good
governance, sponsored mathematical and scientific
these… the concept zero came from the calculations
and ponderings of Hindu sages. Religion in Hinduism is
not all ritual; it is also how you live your life.
Saying sorry before you die is not a place in heaven,
besides heaven is really different than this milk and
honey and vestal virgins in other religions. Religion
is also tradition, which is why the family is such a
strong unit in India, in Islam and amongst the Jews.
Community is a notion spawned by religion, and so is
standing up for human rights, as Gandhi advocated.
Religion also gave us the Kama Sutra, free schools
roads, benevolent kings like Ashoka who on seeing the
carnage at the battle of Kalinga, gave up his king
status and converted to Buddhism; like King
Harishchandra who have all his personal wealth away;
and like Gautama Buddha who on seeing human misery
left his wife and newborn son to a life of
meditation. Religion has given us a lot and to discard
it because of a few arsehole politicians, priests,
bigots and pedants; now that is arrogant, careless and
Agreed that there is both good and bad in religion. I am not sure I agree with some of your claims, such as religion giving us roads, but I’m not going to argue it as it’s not particularly relevant to our current discussion.
> There is the mental COMFORT embraced by the
> ‘faithful’ in prayer and acceptance. The social
> benefits of being together with others.<<
There is mental confort whether you read Thomas More,
Mirabai, the Rig veda, and as my atheist uncle would
say, religious texts have the best wisdom, just idiot
translators. Let’s not throw the baby with the bath
water. Let’s not reinvent the wheel; when we have
barely begun to use the one we have. How many of us
have really read all the religious texts we have? How
many of us have explored the real meaning behind
religious practices? Yes there is comfort, and
community. How is that any different from a group of
atheists sharing their ideas?
It isn’t any different. Did it appear to you that I said so?
>>I know that
> on her deathbed, it gave my grandmother tremendous
> comfort to pray the rosary. I even ‘donated’ a
> priest friend of mine to the assortment of priests
> who celebrated her funeral mass. I did it for her,
> because I loved her so much, and knew that would
> have given her comfort to know in advance, as well
> as comforting her children and grandchildren who
> were still Catholic. (I admit the idea of eternal
> life scares the crap out of me. . . visit
> www.philosoraptor.com and read the essay by Lee on
> eternal life.)<<
That was really lovely of you. I celebrate Christmas
with an atheist husband because it means family time
to him. He also tells me the Celtic reasons and the
pagan reasons for X’mas’s existence. But for him,
Christmas is family time and warmth, love and laughter
and lots of eating and drinking. The Hindu eternal
life and rebirth actually comfort me. Knowing that my
arsy-ness in this life will need to be paid off my
being a better human being (or cockroach, depending on
what I come back as! )rather than living with the
guilt or sadness of having hurt someone.
Thanks. I did it because I loved her more, probably, than any other relative in my life (save my immediate family.) And I knew that it was symbolic for her, as well as a comfort to her kids. The concept of life being this and this alone for ME is most comforting to me. I don’t care to make up for or benefit from who I have been in another time or place. THIS is it for me. Christmas is a time for family and love and warmth and togetherness for me as well. That’s why we celebrate it. Plus I love giving presents… Any excuse will do!
> Which means I do NOT have any intention of telling
> YOU that you cannot believe whatever it is that
> boils your water or freezes your fears.<<
You could’ve fooled me!
Really??? You think that because I am stating what *I believe, I think *you must also believe it? I do not… precisely because it’s pretty clear to me that THAT street runs two-ways. I will always respect your (generic) right to any belief you hold (while not necessarily respecting the BELIEF itself), as I said, until you try and make me believe or live by it. THEN we have issues.
> UNLESS and UNTIL you presume to tell ME that I must
> also follow in your footsteps. I will not – I
> CANNOT!, and I will never tell you you must follow
> in mine. This country was founded BECAUSE religion
> had so mucked up the world that many fled to the
> ‘new’ world for the freedom to believe as they will.
> Now, some obsessive Christians want to change that,
> to make Christianity the religion of the state, and
> worse, the tenets of Christianity the LAW OF THE
Now see religious oppression was not the main reason
for moving here, in my understanding of history. Or
else why would we not see many signs of Native
Americans following their own faith? As an old friend
of mine, a Flathead Indian told me, “Who gives a shit
about the Native Americans?” I do not see any respect
shown to the original owners of this country. The
newcomers from Europe act as if this was always their
land, their language, their religion. Why were the
slaves converted? For all my country’s problems, we
truly are the only secular country in the world; and
no I am not trying to sound American and using “XYZ in
the world”. But after having lived in Europe and
America, one thing is clear: I can practice my faith,
I can dress in my cultural traditions, and speak my
mother tongue with no repercussions. I cannot do that
anywhere else. America is afraid of multicultural
anything: it all boils down to the need to see Main
Street USA, homogenisation and unireligion. And the
Starbuckisation of the world. Secularism is also
expressed by showing respect for other religions and
allowing them to practice, celebrate their faiths. We
all know that this is not the case in America.
Initially, religious freedom was one of the most driving reasons for the early settlers. Since then, in the last 150 yrs or so, it’s been opportunity.
That said, one of the incredibly disastrous facts about our ancestors search for religious freedom, and yes, founding this country on that search, was their abject refusal to extend that freedom to the peoples already here… to the slaves they brought here, and eventually, to one another in many cases.
Further, I agree with you about the state of such freedoms in America. That is precisely WHY I am writing these types of essays… because we certainly ARE NOT practicing what we preach — unless it is conVEEEEENient for us. Which means, we’re hypocrits.
> No, NO. No. It is not now, and it must never be
> mixed with the state. Neither your gods nor my
You do mean, “Neither your faith or mine”? And I agree
state and religion cannot be mixed.
No, darlin. Again, a LACK of faith is not a faith. Can it be pursued with religious-type fervor? Sure. But that doesn’t make it fact.
There is NO NEED for any type of belief in
> this category to have any place in a government
> which should be by and for ALL the people of the
> land, be they the majority or any minority. I’ll
> fight for equality for all with everything I have in
> me. For YOU and your right to believe, and for those
> of us who differ from you in so many ways, so that
> we ALL can enjoy a life of freedom and conscience.
> (Thankfully, there are many theists who realize this
> is not appropriate -for excellent explanations visit
> and join www.au.org)<<
Most people in Europe, don’t really care. I think this
is a polarising issue here more than anywhere else in
the world that I’ve seen. there are always religious
pockets, but if you take France as an example,
churches are empty…. no priests!
Ha. Yes I knew that about Europeans being essentially agnostic in general. But I didn’t know France had a priest shortage. Just like the U.S.! And you’re right, the issue is much more important here in the U.S. than in many other countries, most especially in Europe. I hope we get to the point of disinterest in the issue, and thus, disinterest in pursuing others who are different, as our European friends have, and SOON.
> And so on this Christmas (or, insert your religious
> event of choice), 2008, I wish you joy, peace,
> health, understanding and compassion for all – no
> matter what you believe. <<
I wish you the same…. even though I am a
Hindu/Buddhist and other things … I’ve been
wished Happy Channukah and Merry Christmas and a
couple of weeks ago, Eid Mubarak! And as I did in
India, I wish them right back.
Well, I’m an atheist/buddhist, so we’re not so far apart, are we! I also wish everyone the same whatever back at them! Why not? It’s a WISH for happiness, a gesture of friendship and love…
>>And I wish you . perhaps
> .. a little comforting common sense, too.<<
Now that sounds a bit arrogant….
Hmmm , well… ok, it is. You get the last word, I see. <GRIN>