The privileged atheist with time on her hands

‘Can I go to Sunday School?’ I asked. Well, other school friends went and said it was good so I thought I was missing out.

I was duly despatched, with my elder cousin who lived next door, to the Metho one in town at 3pm.

Boring, boring. Boring as hell. So to speak. We had to draw pictures of bible stories. I couldn’t draw at the best of times. Where was the intellectual stimulation?

I gave it one or two goes and decided watching the Sunday afternoon film with my parents in the smoke-filled sitting room after lunch was a better alternative.

My thirst for extra knowledge had evaporated rapidly.

‘I go to school from Monday to Friday, I’m not going on Sunday,’ said stroppy little Roughseas, who had originally asked to go.

Did I have any other brushes with religion?

Well I enjoyed singing hymns, Verdi’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s Mass. I liked visiting churches and admiring religious art and sculpture. After all, my degree involved a lot of that.

But did I believe in any of it? No.

Who, in their right minds believes in virgin births and resurrection? Let alone the rest of the fantasy tales?

And that, I’m sorry to say, is all I have ever thought about religion.

We are born, we live our lives, and we die. Hopefully we can do some good in our short period on earth. Our choice is to help our neighbours, strangers needing a hand, when we can, and to rescue the odd abandoned dog. Not a lot, but something.

Would I or anyone else be better off if I wasted time praying at church or studying the bible? I think not.

I was baptised. I was never confirmed. My mother had a religious phase. Her brother was killed in WW2 and she was close to his wife. They went to church together and she became confirmed. She wanted the full funeral service at her death instead of the shortened version. Quite right, if you do these rituals, might as well go the whole hog.

My father, on the other hand, really didn’t give a shit. Brought up Methodist, his only interest was in having ‘Eternal Father’ sung at his church funeral. (A naval thing)

I made sure both my parents got their wishes.

So luckily, I wasn’t brought up with religion. My school was not religious, but was nominally Anglican, in later years I skipped assembly. Religious studies dropped off after the third year in senior school.

Life as an agnostic/atheist person was easy. I went to church for matches (marriages) and despatches (funerals) to respect people. I went at Christmas to sing carols.

But I have never spent hours thinking about a god or a religion. Academically, it is interesting, pragmatically it is, well, rubbish.

To people who were and still are religious, I appreciate this may sound flippant. It’s not.

I thought about it briefly, decided it didn’t hold water, and knocked it on the head.

The idea of indoctrination freaks me out. I do feel for people who have suffered it. I can never understand it. Maybe the same way people can’t understand how easily I rejected it as ridiculous. In a two second conversation with my partner, he asked me if I ever believed in it.

‘No, did you?’

‘No.’

And there you have it. Succinct.

We have a personal and moral ethical code that we follow, we don’t break the law, and we respect other people. Even the idiots.

Now, tell me what I would gain by following any god, because truth is, I’m not in it for personal gain. Seeking salvation, forgiveness, eternal truth and glory, sounds selfish to me.

But, let’s have a relevant read with The Devil’s Apology, (free, just click on the link) by Kevin Cooper, who is well versed in Christianity and used to be a lay minister.

This short story turns the Christian religion on its head, painting the God as controlling and manipulative and the Devil as a supernatural being who wants to ensure individuals have the right to exercise their free will.
image
The book recounts the story of a war between the God and the Devil, in which the God is portrayed as the bad character. The Devil isn’t perfect either, he starts by responding to the antagonism and ends up loving the battles, but however, in the end, he loses.

But the real question posed is, will people use their free will to make their own choice?

It’s a good read and a pertinent question.

Right now, when we look at the religious indoctrination across the world, from the bible belts of America to the Islamic States of the Middle East, more people might want to think about whether they want to be controlled by a non-existent god.

Seriously people, do you honestly think you are going to burn eternally in hell fire in the middle of the earth? That is so Middle Ages.

Just concentrate on the here and now, lead a decent life, and don’t worry about everlasting paradise. It isn’t going to happen. It’s dust to dust, not floating up to la-la land and sitting on a cloud.

Credit for this post goes to a comment on violetwisp’s blog, by insanitybytes, who seems to think atheists are privileged because they have a lot of time to contemplate the issues. Sorry IB, you are wrong, some of us don’t waste our time contemplating the issues. Big difference. There is nothing, and I repeat nothing, worth contemplating.

Normal service … etc …

ETA

I added this to one of the comments, but it should really have been included in the main post …

It is the classic story of selling religion. Brilliant book, and brilliant portrayal in the film by Burt Lancaster. Superb. Glory Hallelujah. Get behind me Satan.

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184 comments on “The privileged atheist with time on her hands

  1. I was brought up in religion and the fear of god instilled into me…until I started to really think and question! I think the fear aspect is so important. But how can you love an object that you fear?

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    • I don’t know, out of my understanding. Depends on the level of indoctrination I guess. Can you love your parents yet fear them? Same analogy.

      My very simplistic reasoning went along the lines of ‘this doesn’t make sense’.

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  2. Many years ago I saw my name on an exam results board.
    I had done very well in a religious studies course.
    This was unexpected, given I had never attended the course nor taken the xam.
    but I suppose the college had to show results.

    Either that, or divine intervention.

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    • Well search me what she means about anything!

      Normally, as I’m sure you know, privilege refers to social strata, headed up by white men, with non- white women, along with other social outcasts, at the bottom of the heap.

      Maybe she thinks all atheists are rich (hence privileged) and do nothing but spend their time pondering the non-existence of religion.

      Heck, ask her! Doubt she will answer.

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      • Asking her would be too much work for me and am not sure I’d get a response.

        Well, maybe she is aware of a very small section of the globe. There are atheists in every strata of society.

        Maybe philosophy requires you have food and a shelter over your head to have time to philosophize but to say there is no god, I doubt that requires any privilege except if she means common sense is a privilege

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        • She’s sexist. That’s what you get with a feminist recusant, she never answered my comment. She might answer yours if it wasn’t difficult. Or as Arch said, Kathy?

          Well, Maslow says you have physiological needs, food, shelter and warmth, and the thinking comes later, so maybe that’s what she meant. Who can tell? But yes, is there a god, yes, no, not sure I’m on the fence doesn’t exactly take hours.

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  3. I don’t think you sound flippant. Or maybe you do. But if it is flippancy then I am envious. I am envious that you had a mind to dismiss something so easily dismissed. I envy you that you never had a fear of the consequences of not believing.

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    • I haven’t read an atheist/non-believing comment/blog yet, that encapsulates where I’m coming from. You, and Victoria, have explained your background, so I wanted to do the same. To explain, that it isn’t important in life. That it is mythical. And yes, that’s how I saw it.

      To look at it another way, does action and reaction exist. Yes. Proven. Not difficult. As an accountant you’ll know about NPV. I could spend hours calculating that (never high enough but that’s another story), but it is a valid concept and well grounded. Believing in fairy tales is just, well, silly. Flippant has kicked in again.

      Hey you know envy is a sin, don’t you? I think I vaguely remember that one.

      Apart from Victoria’s technical dopamine rushes, I think one of the main draws of religion is connection, community, belonging. I’m an only child and I’ve lived within myself. I don’t need fake community brought together by well, whatever. But I can see it attracts some people. Just not me.

      I don’t need to analyse the bible (or the Torah or the Quran). Can a virgin give birth a couple of thousand years ago without artificial insemination? Do people rise from the dead? Where do thousands of dead people go to burn in hell, and where do all the good ones go? Will there be enough clouds for the good ones? Will they fall off? I mean it is just, idiotic. Let alone that some all-seeing being is perving on everyone all the time.

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      • Well, still, I am envious of those who weren’t indoctrinated to believe in magic. Who don’t or didn’t need to prove to themselves that magic and make-believe doesn’t work and isn’t real before they could accept it.

        Green, I tell you. Green.

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        • Aww, sorry Ruth. Don’t be green, unless you are environmentally green. :)

          But do you start to understand how bemused I am about all this craziness, because, that’s what it is.

          I like life. I have a good partner and dogs, and I’m not yet in poverty. I’m where I am through my own choices, free will no less.

          The other stuff sounds like voodoo to me. What’s the difference?

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  4. I grew up with fake religion, or let’s say secular-Catholicism. That means atheists who play along as to not rock the boat :D The problem was that early on it became very clear I didn’t play well with others.

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  5. I think perhaps Insanity has a point about atheists in her culture being privileged in some way, perhaps not the way she meant. For whatever reason, they have had the time, opportunity and experiences that have made them question what appears to be quite a strong culture of religious belief in many parts of the USA. Not quite as difficult as wriggling your way out of Islam if you’re brought up in the most parts of the Middle East, but still requiring a degree of luck. Religions endure simply because we are sheep programmed from birth, and getting out of that can prove tricky.

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    • I agree with you to a certain degree. I do think that some of us who have wriggled our way out of indoctrination are privileged. But I also think that the dirt poorest person here in the USA is privileged. I don’t mean to be eating out of dust bin is a privilege, but everything is relative. Would you rather eat out of a dust bin or have no food at all? I digress…that’s a whole different topic. My point about it is simply that it doesn’t take being privileged to think on such things. Sure, those of us who are have a plethora of materials at our disposal, but the ability to think….well, that’s a privilege we all possess no matter our rank, class, or creed.

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      • No, I disagree Ruth. I don’t think escaping indoctrination is privilege. I think indoctrination in the first place is verging on mental abuse. And it is not privilege to question or deny that. Scrub the fancy words, it is common sense,

        I’m not interested in proof of a god (it’s never happened yet). I’m just not interested. I know, I should be, but the whole thing is just farcical.

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        • No…I don’t mean that escaping indoctrination is privilege. I just mean that some of us who have are privileged to have an arsenal of materials at our disposal with which to combat it.

          That’s what I meant when I said that thinking is every man’s privilege whether he takes advantage of it or not.

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          • Every man’s privilege? Gulp.

            Although men do have more privilege.

            I don’t have the arsenal. It’s interesting that apostates/recusants can argue because you are coming from a position of strength. Mine is, huh? rubbish. And off I go.

            Why would I argue teeth and nail about something that is patently false? I know, you’ve told me before. But I am so not boning up on the bible to tell brainwashed people what they will never listen to.

            Sad state of affairs. I can’t help it. Maybe you and others can. Not sure you will convince Kathy or that Pink will get Katy to endorse gay marriage, so I’m left wondering.

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          • Well…I meant man in the human vernacular. It’s every human’s privilege. Some don’t take advantage of it.

            Nooo…I don’t think your position is rubbish at all. Religion is of no interest to you. *shrug* To each his/her own. I, personally, do not expect you to bone up on it if it’s of no interest to you.

            But, tell me Kate, where would feminism be today if those who chose to go against the grain decided it wasn’t worth the effort because men would never listen? That’s not a point of argument for you personally to argue the toss. But it is why there are those of us who do. I wonder in the beginning of the women’s movement how many became discouraged and left wondering if they were making a difference at all.

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          • To each our own indeed. Why waste my time when so many of you already have the weapons at your fingertips? I can never have your insight, which is invaluable. All I have is cold logic. It doesn’t cut it with an emotive issue.

            I don’t think feminism is going anywhere. I never have, nor do I think it ever will. But that doesn’t mean I’m still not going to support it. I sound like Rhett Butler, ma’am. My principles are what they are, so I will write about feminism, animal cruelty, eating dead animals, destroying the environment, hunting and killing for fun, greed, capitalism, invading foreign countries under false pretext … Blah blah. How can I not? Someone needs to say it.

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          • And I feel the same way about religion that you do about all those issues. In fact, many of those issues stem from people’s belief in a god. Sexism, eating dead animals, animal cruelty, destroying the environment, invading foreign countries under false pretexts….all of these are direct outflows of belief in a deity in many cases.

            Will probably never do an ounce of good, but I’ll at least have my two cents in.

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          • Sure, religion is the cause. One of the many reasons I dismissed it was because of my university degree where all it seemed to do was promote war. Huh?

            We’re going down the same road, I just prefer to use logic for my arguments and leave the stories out of it, even though they are the original sin.

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          • No harm in that. Perhaps if religion hadn’t nearly killed me I wouldn’t give a toss either. It’s just that, for me, while belief now seems silly the fact that other people believe the silliness is important. It makes it relevant to the discussion for me personally.

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    • Do you mean that challenging the norm, ie religion, makes you privileged? I’m not sure I buy that. All it takes is, a head shake, and a no. But there again, I know stuff all about America and religion, so maybe it’s more than an academic issue. Surely there are atheists like me in America who think, no, this doesn’t make sense, I’m not joining.

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      • There are atheists like you in America but they are few and far between.

        It does sound simple, a head shake and a no. But it is, indeed, much much more that an academic issue. In fact, it has stuff all to do with academics. It is a belief. It is intrinsic to one’s being. That fundamentalists have attempted to turn it into an academic issue is beyond ridiculous. It is, as Ark alluded to below, very difficult to explain to someone who has easily dismissed the notion and never been indoctrinated.

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        • What? !! Or you just don’t meet them?

          There must be. Surely?

          If it was academic, I could get a handle on it. But a belief in well, what? Hello God, why didn’t you stop the Podenco from running into me and breaking my ankle. Hello Kate, why didn’t you turn round and watch the evil monster. Believing in a deity is about absolving responsibility.

          Ironically, I think we are saying the same thing. I can’t imagine being indoctrinated, and not being able to say, rubbish, and walking away. You can’t imagine having the freedom to do that without even thinking about it.

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          • Yes, I think we are saying the same thing. From your perspective, you asked to go to Sunday School because – obviously – your parents didn’t attend or didn’t take you every.single.sunday.

            Now, imagine that you didn’t have that choice. Not that you asked to go just to see what it was about, but that from the time you were born you were taken every.single.sunday. That would be all you knew, as if there weren’t a choice. And it were taught to you from before you could even speak that this was all truth?

            I imagine that you cannot imagine such a scenario. But for those for whom this scenario is carried out every Sunday it is quite difficult to distinguish that it is a fairy tale. To them it is truth.

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          • It was a bit like I wanted to join brownies. It’s the whole joiny in thing which I think is also key. Except in my case, once I’d joined, I wanted out!

            You’re right. I can’t imagine it. And while I’ve never been the world’s worst rebel, I stopped accepting things at face value a lot of years ago.

            Religious assembly at school was interesting. People would hide to avoid going, behind desks, in toilets etc, the best place was the toilet in the attic up by the art rooms. Me, I just got a later bus, or walked around town to avoid it. I didn’t like the ritual, so I avoided it the best way I could.

            And, there was no talk of religion at home. Only when we decided to dress up and go out for a sort of event. Most sacrireligious :D

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      • Well, privileged in the sense that they have access to contacts or material that makes them question it. I know I think in my life I was a hair’s breath away from accepting it all for life. If I’d been steeped in belief all around me (ie friends, contacts) I’m sure I wouldn’t have moved beyond it. Obviously some people can, because it’s logical, but the majority can’t without alternative input. It’s certainly a privilege to be born in this age of information …

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        • Not really Violet. I didn’t have access to anything that helped me question it. It just didn’t make sense, so therefore I left it alone. I did mix with some Christian youths, but it never came up. I was obviously always a black sheep. The age of information 30 or 40 years ago was irrelevant.

          Sure, I said my prayers at night. Gentle Jesus meek and mild, skip forward to god bless mummy and daddy and good dog Tarquin. Did it later too, no more than superstition, like saying white rabbits or touching wood.

          I didn’t get any alternative input. I decided it was extremely silly. That’s why I don’t understand the indoctrination, however hard I try.

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          • I don’t know, unless I’ve misunderstood your background I can’t really see a comparison. By your own admission you weren’t brought up in a particularly religious environment and you merely chose to go to Sunday School then ditched it. That’s a very different experience to mandatory church attendance from birth, Sunday School, Bible studies, daily family Bible readings, religious holiday camps, and socialising with only Christians. Also growing up in the generally secular UK with its mainly non-invasive versions of Christianity is very different to living in the Bible Belt of the USA or growing up in a heavily ritual and guilt based Catholic society.

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          • It was your comment about having access to contacts or material to question it, that I was referring to. And a privilege being born in an age of information. You don’t need either to make up your own mind.

            I’m not making comparisons. I fully accept that American Bible Belt believers are indoctrinated. I obviously have no idea about your experience.

            But for your best blogging pal to say that it is privileged to have time to consider atheism is garbage. Because that suggests that living in a secular non-Christian society is desirable, (which I suspect she wouldn’t want), it also suggests that some people need time to think about it. The only people who need time to think about it are people who are religious in the first place and then think something isn’t quite right. Not sure if I have answered your point.

            I’m happy to admit to white educated privilege. Privilege as you well know, is wielded by those with more power, to put it bluntly. My privilege is eroded by being a woman, and an older one at that. I’m not sure where privilege and atheism fit together?

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  6. That the likes of you and I are not indoctrinated simply means that we are unable to imagine what it would be like to be that way. Consider something that you know to be true: the fact that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon for instance. Now imagine the same level of unshakable conviction about Yahweh, or any invisible deity that you are convinced is watching your every move, knows your every thought, and if you don’t behave you will (literally) burn for eternity in a hell created by the same god who is claimed to be all loving.
    That is one helluva scary thought!
    Now, how does one not equate that – or the various degrees of such belief – as anything but a form of mental illness? Especially as in most cases it has to be inculcated from a very early age.

    They walk among us ….

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  7. There seems to be a paradox in the fact that athiests and humanists or humanistic atheists all talk about living a decent and moral life, Where’s the logic in that? If you are here one minute, gone the next, have a ball and bother anyone or anything else.
    If, on the other hand, one theorises (or believes due to some inner informed conviction not arising from indoctrination) that there is meaning and purpose in the universe, then it is a different matter.

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    • Col, I am a bit surprised at this . . . and cautiously affronted.

      There is deep and solid logic to live a decent and moral life, not only absent of a stated universal meaning and purpose , but in spite of many conflicting, made-up, and irrational statements of such.

      We can all recognize basic moral precepts without any religion or religious book explaining them to us (often in spite of it).

      As one that sees no purpose or meaning to the universe, it’s up to me to find my own purpose and meaning even as I try and navigate the fact I am a part of a greater society. What I don’t want is have someone else dictate my purpose. What I don’t want is have someone else dictate to me the meaning of my existence.

      Those fall squarely under the umbrella of my responsibility to both myself and those around me.

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      • I certainly intended no particular affront, except to those who display the irritating lack of reasoning evidenced by anyone who claims to believe that you live and then go phut, and who still sees any merit in serving anyone but themselves. Why? Because it makes them feel good? Why would it do that if there is no purpose in anything? They argue against themselves.
        Don’t confuse dogma with what I am talking about. At worst, religion is pure evil. At best, it serves as something which offers meaning and purpose in the lives of many people seeking answers/reassurance/freedom from feelings of utter futility.
        I agree that nobody should impose their views of your purpose or the meaning of your existence. What I object to is those superiorly ‘intellectual’ twits who impose views – with all the ardour of religious fanatics – that there IS no meaning or purpose by loudly proclaiming that religions and deism generally, ID, creationism, and all spiritual theories, are pure hogwash. To me they are quite as dim and obnoxious as the bible-waving evangelists who intrude into my space.

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        • So if I’ve got this right Col, you are saying it’s OK for people to believe in religion if they get something out of it? Whether in terms of moral needs or physical needs. But it’s not OK to evangelise or generally impose personal beliefs on anyone else? And it’s not OK to express a personal opinion against a belief in religion unless one leads a Sybaritic, libertine life, eating lotuses, and raping, murdering, stealing, pillaging because without religion one has no ethics or morals? Is that what you meant?

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          • In the first part you have indeed got it about right. Your final batch of surmises go off at a tangent.
            The ‘purpose’ of my comment – in two senses – has been entirely missed. It is not religion, per se, which gives a sense of morals. (‘Morals’ presents a flexible and variable concept, anyway.) It is a belief that something matters. A truly nihilistic belief means that nothing matters and one might as well indulge in total self-gratifficaion.

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          • What you seem to be asserting here is an objection to those who reject and ridicule any form of higher consciousness and unexplained phenomena that may fall outside of the naturalistic world?
            I can address the rejection and ridicule as one.
            There are many people who reject such claims because they are based on un-observable (and un-testable) phenomenon. However, where claims are made of such things as ghosts, spirits etc there is an ever growing body of scientific evidence to explain such examples and so far no explanation has ever suggested deity-like power behind them.
            Why must one reject the naturalistic/scientific point of view simply because science has not developed the techniques to explore what remains unanswered?
            By embracing science we learn and understand far more than throwing our lot in with the peddlers of religion and superstitious claptrap.

            As for purpose – well I have purpose and I consider my life worth living and enjoying. And when I ‘clock out’ that’s it, as far as I am concerned and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise.

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          • One can very quickly enter the field of circular argument, here, or that of arguing on parallel lines.
            Much depends on one’s conception of a diety. As a sort of grandfather in the clouds, the scientific evidence supports a response of derisive sniggering. As a super-sentient force behind, driving – and capable of modifying – everything, including the ‘laws’ of nature and spacio-temporal constants, both the total evidence plus rational consideration of probability would tend to support serious consideration of the view.
            The biggest question, (which is surely capable of being resolved by science one of these days and if/when it does which would change all thinking overnight), is whether there really is another frequency of matter beyond that of light or thought, which we loosely refer to as spirit. If so, then there is another indestructible component in our makeup. It may well transform or dissipate in the same way as the matter in bodies does – or it may remain discrete. Either way, it would literally give a new dimension to how we regard such matters.
            I also repeat, from deep at the bottom of the rut I have worn with this argument, that so far science does a wonderful job of telling us increasingly more about how things work, which ones work, where they work, when they work – but it gives an absolute blank on: WHY? Religion doesn’t do much better, but at least it takes a few faltering steps along that road.

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          • Ah, so you are looking for some sort of esoteric ”Meaning of Life”, yes?
            Science is not there to answer such philosophical questions, I’m afraid. That is not what science is for.

            And if you feel that religion fills this gap in supposed knowledge than you are sadly mistaken.
            Religion is nothing but a crock – a crutch fueled by fear and ignorance, and those that follow it are generally ignorant and ( to a certain degree) fearful; or at least have fear instilled into them.

            No genuine evidence has ever been put forward to support a (creator) deity, either personal or impersonal and to pander to suchlike and suggest there is validity in such thinking, especially to teach this to children is grossly irresponsible and acceptance of such has a tendency to stunt critical thought.

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          • I think there are a number of different issues to address in your comments.

            One, is that non-believers (not necessarily atheists, could include agnostics) claim to be intellectually superior and impose their views on others. In my case, this is my blog. Read or not. It’s obviously going to be my view. And rather than write 900 words as a comment on violet’s blog I figured it was easier to write here and link back. Not everyone, starts from a religious perspective, searches the soul over years, examines the bible relentlessly and turns to atheism, which was the simple point of my post.

            Two, is that non-believers of whatever religion, are not necessarily superior intellectual twits who are dim and obnoxious for deciding they choose not to believe. Just as people who do believe in a religion are not either. Their choice may be questionable, but objectively someone who believes in a religion is not necessarily lacking intelligence. Although Ark might question that.

            Three, is the theory of where we come from, and the big WHY. If you think that’s an important issue, again, that’s your choice. I’m more concerned with here and now. I would prefer cleverer brains than mine to work out how we could possibly stop killing each other, develop a correct ‘flu vaccine in time (if you want a vaccination that is), work out why cells mutate to cause cancer, feed the starving millions, stop wrecking the environment and ensure employment, health care and housing for people. So WHY is pretty small on my scheme of things. But it sure as hell takes the pressure off doing anything important.

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          • By and large, I agree with your train of thought. Except when we come to the ‘Why?’
            A simple analogy – some future group of beings comes across an interesting instrument which has two revolving dials, a spring, and lots of cogwheels. They study it so that they are down to the minutest detail in its composition, and now feel they understand it fully. Then they start working on modifications which will enable it to go a lot faster and more efficiently using less wheels, and an automatic rest period during which it self-lubricates, and so on. If they still haven’t figured out why it was made and what it was for, their modifications will make it go cockeyed.
            Like feeding the starving millions is wrecking the environment? (I can just hear the howls of outrage.) :)

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    • Ah, so you are looking for some sort of esoteric ”Meaning of Life”, yes?
      Science is not there to answer such philosophical questions, I’m afraid. That is not what science is for.

      And if you feel that religion fills this gap in supposed knowledge than you are sadly mistaken.
      Religion is nothing but a crock – a crutch fueled by fear and ignorance, and those that follow it are generally ignorant and ( to a certain degree) fearful; or at least have fear instilled into them.

      No genuine evidence has ever been put forward to support a (creator) deity, either personal or impersonal and to pander to suchlike and suggest there is validity in such thinking, especially to teach this to children is grossly irresponsible and acceptance of such has a tendency to stunt critical thought.

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      • I sort of answered some of Col’s and some of yours above. I’m not into WHY. I mean, who cares? If insanity bytes originally said atheists had time and privilege to contemplate atheism v region, is WHY any different? It’s of even less use. And a truly philosophical waste of time.

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        • One can speculate on the hereafter or other such esoteric subjects for all one likes. This is the beauty of freedom of choice, after all. But to promulgate doctrine and teach it as plausible especially to kids and ( in some cases) insist it be introduced as part of school curriculum – without any verifiable evidence whatsoever is just plain irresponsible.

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        • Exactly – and this is where such purveyors of pish come unstuck and run for the cover of doctrine and other unsubstantiated crap.
          It has always been about power and who has the bigger stick.

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      • Oh dear oh dear oh dear. This response has descended into another model of the sort of blind ignorance displayed by the most dogmatic religionists.
        Firstly, of course science is for answering such questions where it can. Why not?
        And again, you have never successfully denied that religion takes speculation further than (when unduly limited) science does.
        Again, fear may play a part with some religions but to generalise it as being a mainstay is puerile.
        How do you guage genuine evidence? There is evidence enough to satisfy minds far greater than our own to this day.
        Children have a right to know of this thinking, but I do agree that nobody should be entitled to drum it into them (particularly the utter nonsense bits) as truth. I wish there was a law requiring everyone to put religions forward only as a ‘this is what I think’, and a law against any, ‘this is what you must think’ rubbish.
        It would seem that your version of science has a tendency to stunt speculative (and infinitely more valuable) thought. Surely it is more important knowing what a thing is for than great detail about what goes into its composition.

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        • Science is not there to answer such questions. How can the meaning of life be possibly answered?
          Furthermore, each individual will attach different meaning and value to life ( their own especially) so your ”…oh dear ,oh dear ” remark is simply churlish.

          How do you guage genuine evidence? There is evidence enough to satisfy minds far greater than our own to this day.

          Really? Then please provide a citation and a link to back this assertion.

          Science encourages critical thought and is regulated by new evidence all the time. If this were not the case then we would all believe the earth was flat and the centre of the universe
          Religion, and especially the Abrahamic religions, is the antithesis of this.

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          • I am not going to provide several million citations – look them up for yourself. The point is, the evidence which SATISFIES those minds will probably be dismissed by a closed scientific one.
            Our main difference in thinking lies in the fact that you say science cannot answer those questions. I say it falls short if it is not trying – and most of the time, it is not trying. Surely, for starters, it can weigh the evidence and decide whether it really points to completely random causes and effects arising out of immutable laws and propelled by a series of coincidental accidents, or whether it points towards some form of underlying impetus and drive?
            Can you really assert, much less prove, that it is more valuable to know how things operate rather than why? Not only on the macro level, but the micro ones as well. Take bird migration – one knows where and one knows how, but more important is the why. Much of evolution theory is, in fact, dealing with the ‘why’.

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          • Then provide just one. One that you feel adequately deals with the relevant questions and puts your hypothesis on a firm footing. Just a single citation/link.

            Surely, for starters …etc

            You are, I suspect, referring to the cosmological argument, yes?
            And the answer is no. Read; De Grasse Tyson for one.

            >Can you really assert, much less prove, that it is more valuable to know how things operate rather than why?

            What ”things” are you referring to?
            A car or an elephant?
            A computer or a human brain?
            Please specify.

            Evolution is fact. What about it are you still unsure of?
            Specify and I will try to find relevant links for you.

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          • Isn’t this partly the guilty until proven innocent, innocent until proven guilty one?

            Can deists prove the world was created in six days? Can deists prove [insert whatever you want here, Jesus walked on water, Jacob’s ladder, parting of the Red Sea etc]?

            So if they can’t, why is the onus on non-believers or scientists to prove otherwise?

            ‘You need to prove there was a crime.’

            ‘No, you need to prove there wasn’t one.’

            ‘Well, prove why there wasn’t one …’ etc

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        • @ Roughseas
          Exactly – and this is where such purveyors of pish come unstuck and run for the cover of doctrine and other unsubstantiated crap.
          It has always been about power and who has the bigger stick.

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          • With religion it has often been easier to peddle such diatribe as it has had an ( unwarranted) air of respectability often sanctioned by governments.
            Thus it has been able to infiltrate the school system for example. Consider ACE teaching.
            ( We have it here in South Africa, as it happens)
            Is Creationism what we want to instill in our kids? That dinosaurs walked the earth alongside humans?
            I don’t think so!
            Likewise, while there are many things we don’t as yet understand, maybe it’s best to keep the explanations within the bounds of reality and until science works out what the hell(sic) is going on let’s not rush off and assign any form of agency, as this is the type of garbage that can result in the levels of extremism that straps c4 to to kids. Okay?

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  8. Simply common sense beautifully put. God doesn’t exist but the need for a God was created by men wanting control. So far, they’ve indoctrinated too many to have that control wrested back. The only thing I’d agree with in the bible is that man should be kind to one another and that we should be tolerant.Surely we can manage that on our own?
    Cwtch.

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    • Thank you. I have limited space in my head. I can think about a lot of interesting, intellectual and useful things. Religion does not fit into those categories. It fits into the ones reserved for politicians, warmongers, bankers, greedy corporate people and other such.

      It would appear to be beyond the wit of person to think for his/herself that we could possibly all get along together and help one another. We need a book to frighten us into doing do.

      Thank you for the cwtch. Sending you one back. The Welshman is busy cwtching the dog anyway, so he’s not bothered :D

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  9. What? Belly lint isn’t worth contemplating?…there goes the “searching for the answer of life” and yoga. (Please don’t tell Hollywood)
    My dad said “There are no atheist in battle. People start grabbing and bargaining.” He also said better go outside than into a church where all the pious are. But he went for the singing. And that part I like too. Not the grim songs – there are some perky joyous one you can bellow out. My mom made sure we were dragged to Sunday school before church service. We sat in circles and read verses and talked about them – only I always blurted out something like “Why would a thoughtful father God send all those children who even never heard about the Bible to hell? Doesn’t seem right.” And the poor “teacher” would get flustered and run to tell my mom. My dad would laugh and ask, “well, what did she tell you?” Mom would scold for being a disagreeable trouble maker who embarrassed the family and was probably going to hell. So there you have it. Doomed no matter what at an early age.

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    • Belly lint? An Americanism? Is that like belly fluff? Found dog hair in mine the other day. Oh. TMI.

      I love the singing. Fave film, Elmer Gantry. Just great. Gospel music is just superb.

      I never got to being a trouble maker. Just left it all alone in the hopes ‘it’ would mutually respect my disinterest.

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      • oops, old slang. Fluff is so much more elegant sounding.
        Somewhere along the way organized churches lost the “make a joyful noise” message. It survived in backwoods country churches and hills.
        But clapping was frowned upon then. – too much like response by audience at a play is what I was told. The pride – doing it for personal recognition – thing rather than as praise for/of God.
        Mom was more sing quietly so as not to attract attention type. Dad was be happy and belt it out so God can hear it.
        We attended various churches from time to time – funny to notice how the same songs were sung differently…some could take the happiest uplifting song and slow it down and make it mournful. Considered more reverent, respectful, and sophisticated…not that hillbilly backwoods stuff. If the singing isn’t good, not there.
        Never meant to be a troublemaker. Always told “God gave you a brain, use it.” But realized too late only one parent believed that – and Sunday school “discussions” weren’t really meant to be a time to discuss and examine. (But if God did give you a brain, shouldn’t..?.)

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        • Just never heard it before. Lint is bandages to me. Tummy button fluff is well, not sure what it is!

          I think the singing is the best part of any religious service. What’s difficult is actually the natural way that most people tend to sing too slowly. We had a problem with school assembly in that the hall was big, and the speed dropped towards the back of the hall. Plus there was a gallery, and that was always slightly behind too. Sometimes in churches you’ll notice the organist has to slow down because people aren’t following the speed that’s been set.

          Yeah. I was urged to go to university and then got told off for thinking for myself …

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Ha! I was baptised, but never confirmed. I realised when I was twelve that it was just a load of bollocks that didn’t even hold up to a dose of half-hearted, pre-pubescent reasoning.

    However, life can be very tough, and if it gives “good” people comfort (rather than bad people an excuse to do horrid things), then religion’s not so disagreeable. We all need a fantasy to cling onto once in a while, and, I must admit, part of me envies those who find solace and purpose in their faith….

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  11. A very simple, honest and sincere account for why you don’t bother with religion. I wish more people were that sincere instead of spouting a load of crap that makes no sense. I enjoyed it. It most certainly fits with what I already know about you. :)

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    • It’s probably too simple isn’t it? But then, I don’t do clever by and large. This doesn’t make sense, so whoosh, out OF the window. Actually that’s one of the few times I’d use an Americanism and say, out the window :D

      Ow my foots being attacked. Anyway, while I might dismiss religion on a ‘this is silly, might as well believe in Santa and fairies’ basis, I did get a decent grounding in checking out primary sources (pre Christianity) from that little history and archaeology degree. But, virgin births and resurrection had pretty much sealed it for me anyway. Oh and feeding a lot of people with five fish. My neighbours cook one tiny sardine each and even that looks piffling.

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      • Oops! Is that an Americanism… I say it all the bloody time! Usually at work when I’m complaining about how slow the pc is and what I’d do if mine was that slow. :D

        Hey, don’t knock Santa! He’s my hero… nobody knocks Santa… you hear me?! I ‘ll see to it you get nothin’ but a lump a coal, I will! :D

        And fairies… well, I got a really bad faerie type creature coming up in Elyysa’s story. ;)

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        • Hmm, reply disappeared. Must be because I lost my religion?,

          I had IT in my office all the time complaining it was too slow or I’d lost something. Just give me a better computer FFS.

          I’ll take that lump of coal thank you, for the wood burning stove at the finca.

          Oooh. Good bad faerie. Sounds ace.

          Totally distracted myself in the corner. Gone into repetitive music syndrome :D got to love that mandolin. Plus you can even hear the words. Great song. … goes off for another listen …

          Liked by 1 person

          • lmao!

            Lump o coal it is then! :D I love wood burning stoves… it’s the smell and the feel. I can imagine it now… relaxing, comforting… Mm.

            You’re hooked. Not the only one… playing in my head too. :)

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          • There’s a picture of mine on a new year blog post a few years back. We rarely use it tbh. We’re too tough! Edwina Currie would be proud of us, we just pile on the clothes, although not the hat, ironically.

            It’s a difficult one to get rid of. Sort of like MT McGuire’s Few Are Chosen where The Pan gets ‘I’m a little teapot’ stuck in his head to resist the Truth Serum. I think I’d probably have picked Brown Girl in the Ring, as a really irritating song in those circs. Or Sylvia’s Mother, or The Air that I Breathe, or anything by the Bee Gees :D Stayin’ Alive would probably be appropriate.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Ha, ha, ha ha Staying alive… STAYING ALIIIIIIIIIVVVE! (cought sputter), bit on the high side. Oh well. :D At least Pat enjoyed it. :D

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          • Pat does. I prefer Soprano’s (female soprano’s) :D So, no not my sort of thing, but I do like the voice challenge even when I do know I’m going to fail… quite miserably. :D

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  12. I don’t remember ever believing in a god (although I used to be in to a few ‘woo’ type things). I stubbornly would stare round at everybody in assembly prayers at school :-) And refused to ‘do my duty to god’ as a girl guide so never got my badge…and I never went to Sunday school, at least my parents didn’t insist. they only had me christened to please their parents. I really enjoyed this post – and the book looks interesting!

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    • Assembly was a pain. Made worse by the fact that you had to walk there from all corners of the school, in hail and rain and snow, in a crocodile, with a ‘partner’. Like why? Couldn’t I walk on my own? Hence getting the late bus, or going to the Athena coffee bar.

      But I’m jealous of your girl guide thingy. By the time brownies were stopped in school, I lost interest, but I so wanted to wear that brown uniform on Tuesdays and look different. Elitist.

      Thanks Wendy. Short book and free, nothing to lose. I do recommend his autobio, Miedo though. Very good.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I was made to go to Sunday School from an early age, and always used to win a prize for best attendance, as well as being able to recite all 66 books of the Bible. Ours was a ‘fire and brimstone’ Pentecostal church, and the sermons used to scare the ‘bejesus’ out of my sister and I. I did, as an adult, voluntarily attend a church in Johannesburg for many years, but only because I enjoyed playing the organ and piano, especially for weddings and funerals. :) How’s your foot by the way?

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    • I have a load of antique books from my great aunt. Same thing, prizes for attendance. Good books actually!

      I think is was some brand of non-conformist.

      Funny how we enjoy the artistic side though. The music, the art, the architecture.

      Er, it’s still crap. I’ll update you all next year :D

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  14. I can relate to what you telling here. I abhor going to temple, couldn’t make sense of the whole thing. Being religious doesn’t make one necessarily a good human being. The whole argument of burning in hell is so irrational.

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  15. . . . and yet, religion impacts so much of the world that perhaps there is a need for people to give it more consideration.

    To say there is no need or desire to give it consideration, and to dismiss it without a second thought is to ignore something that shaped, and continues to shape the history of humanity.

    All fine and good to exclude one’s self from it, but be aware it may not exclude you from its consideration.

    Europe, as far as I can see, has begun a lean to the conservative, and where creationism was something EU people would point across the pond and laugh at, it has begun to take a foothold there.

    Questions of religious freedom, tolerance, and the practical problems of integrating a populous under common and equitable laws are going to come to the forefront pretty quick.

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    • What would you suggest irreligious people do then? Spend their free time boning up on the Torah, the Bible, the Quran at the minimum, plus all the archaeological reports that cite evidence or lack of to be able to get involved in a discussion with religious people? That Christians and Muslims are pushing their agenda, I don’t disagree, but my life is short enough as it is, more than half way over, and I’m not going back to studying religion, or political thought or philosophy to make academic points. If other people can’t see that the tentacles of fundamental religion are creeping ever tighter, that’s life. If they can’t see the parallels between Christianity and Islam, no amount of rhetoric on my part will influence people. Kismet?

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  16. Really cannot agree with with you. Not what you say but how you say it! Rather a sad post I think and why so angry? Perhaps you should have persevered with Sunday School? You don’t have to believe in the Virgin Birth to acknowledge that religion and the church can be very important to a lot of people. Some people have to believe in something to make sense of life and it is wrong to be so casually dismissive unless you have an academic argument to support the views. Shouting is not the way. I don’t believe either by-the-way.
    Another thing – if there wasn’t religion then there would have been very little for you and I to study at University!

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    • I wouldn’t expect you to. It’s neither sad nor angry, but if you chose to read it like that, then that’s your choice. Why should I have persevered with something I decided I didn’t want to pursue? My choice to go, my choice to stop. My free will. What’s complicated about that? Given that I finished school with ten O levels and three A levels it’s not as though I was lacking in education. I was also pretty good at religious studies, although not so good at drawing pictures with crayons, even if I went on to get my Art O level.

      Whether or not I believe in any of it is irrelevant in terms of other people’s beliefs. It’s fairly obvious it plays a part in a lot of people’s lives, to a greater or lesser degree. Some people go through the motions, some genuinely believe there is an all-powerful being watching their every move, prepared to cast them into eternal hell if they misbehave. It’s not wrong to be casually dismissive in terms of my personal opinion. What’s wrong is to blindly accept without objective academic, scientific and archaeological proof that any particular chosen god does exist, and all his prophets do too, peace be upon them.

      Nor am I shouting. When I do shouting posts, it’s fairly obvious, for example the one about former King Juan Carlos clearing off for a jolly to shoot elephants while half the young people in his country are unemployed.

      Not true. The pre-Christian part of my degree didn’t look at religion. The archaeological component looked at the practicalities of archaeology, the architecture, the sculpture, art, and certain specific sites. My thesis was based on medieval economics (I think!), and our later subjects included political thought. None of those touched religion.

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      • I read an article recently (I forget just where) which was rather interesting. The author agreed with you and I that is a ludicrous suggestion that when we die we go to heaven to live on but argued instead that the soul of a dead person lives on in the physical world. Every one’s life touches on the lives of many others and those that live carry the memory and the soul of the dead. A person’s soul sticks around for a long time. I liked that idea.

        In your haste to defend yourself you miss my final point. Religion and belief has driven all human development such as politics, law, art and continuous improvement. Without this development you and I would have had nothing to study regardless of the title or the content of the course. Without religion and belief or even non-belief mankind would not have raised itself above the apes. It is what sets us out from the wider animal kingdom.

        You can easily be an agnostic and still agree that religion has had clearly the biggest impact on development? Why am I certain at this point however that you will have an alternative suggestion?

        Speaking of objective academic, scientific and archaeological proof where is yours? You just can’t really just say it isn’t true because you say so. I doubt that even the Archbishop of Canterbury would be quite so dogmatic!

        Well done on the ‘o’ levels, that’s four more than me although I did get several Sunday School certificates for annual scripture examinations. If you had carried on going then I am sure that you would have got some as well!

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    • @Andrew

      Speaking of objective academic, scientific and archaeological proof where is yours? You just can’t really just say it isn’t true because you say so. I doubt that even the Archbishop of Canterbury would be quite so dogmatic!

      Would you be at all interested in links that demonstrate quite clearly the absolute absence of evidence for the Exodus for instance and the overwhelming acknowledgement ( from scientists, theologians and scholars from all but fundamentalist ( literalist) stripes) that it ( the Pentateuch) is fiction?
      How about a link for the findings of the Jesus seminar and the Acts seminar?

      Really, it’s all there. All one has to do is go look.

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      • Thanks Ark, but despite Andrew’s eminent history degree, and his Sunday School awards, I’ve asked him to stop visiting my blog. There’s a limit to the insults up with which I can put. I doubt he would be interested unless there was a facile argument in it.

        Speaking of Arch of Cant, did you see the former one, Rowan Williams had spoken out against the teaching of creationism in schools in favour of evolution?

        Editor’s pedantic point. Your Andrew quote, he got it wrong, I didn’t say anything was true or untrue. Just that I didn’t believe in it. Not the same thing.

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        • So is Andrew of a religious/Christian bent?
          Yes, I heard/read (?) about Williams admission – something he would have been burnt at the stake for not that long ago.
          Wasn’t that long ago that owning a Bible printed in English was also a crime, punishable by death.
          You have to love religion , right?

          How times change?

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        • I shall endeavor to draw one up for you. If Arch whines about me taking him down as well, there was only one site where he got chucked off because of me. If says differently, he is a damn liar!

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          • Arch doesn’t visit, so if you want to incite him you will need to publish it on your blog.

            I got accused of trolling :) by someone who was later accused of sexual manipulation. He asked me to leave if I didn’t want to play his games. I didn’t. Want to play the games. I left his site.

            So what is getting banned? It’s an interesting one.

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          • Banned means the blog host prevents you from commenting.
            Chialphagirl and Unklee immediately come to mind.
            I was also banned from one of Bigot’s friends ( forget his name). Also some bloke called Christopher( who was a pastor who believed there were chariots on the floor of the Red Sea.)
            Some blog that had ”Diner” in the title( Violet knows him)
            There are a few others, four or five I think. All Christian and also two Muslim blogs – so far.

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  17. Food for thought in your post, the premise of the book, and of course the comments. Thought which furthers childhood memories I’ve been writing about elsewhere… We lived next door to the C of E church, my best friend’s Dad was the minister so it was an everyday part of my life. Dad suggested I attend and be confirmed but was absent himself, explaining God was in his heart. Years later I understood this, and feel similarly. But I never minded church, or a few Sunday school lessons. My final years were at a C of E school, where one unit of religious studies was required but covered material on all religions and faiths, so was very interesting. I feel at home both within my family’s religion and in churches or any place of worship of any denomination or with-out, but don’t a require a particular time or place to have the faith or spirituality, which I have evolved.
    But I know others have different, sometimes less benign experiences and feel that religion is restrictive, prescriptive, indoctrination… I don’t agree with every tenet of it or it’s self appointed representatives, nor do I dismiss it as it/they does no harm for some people, and in some cases good. I think religion is so broad, so long standing it’s inadvisable to generalise, project or even speculate. But it’s an interesting exercise when people do.
    Personally, I’ve always thought God gets a bad rap and an unfair amount of blame… it’s the some of the instruments of religion who purport to represent God who can be “controlling and manipulative” and people themselves, religious or not. I believe God, the Universal Power or whatever label is preferred, is a reflection of all beings who all “exercise their free will”.

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    • I suspect my university degree finally did it for me. The amount of wars carried out in medieval times in the name of religion (primarily Christianity as it was western Europe) just switched my right off. If people want to believe in something, that’s their choice, preferably a choice rather than indoctrination. I choose not to. If I went down any religious road it would be Buddhist or maybe one of the Indian ones, apart from anything else they have elephant gods and women gods, so that’s better than a bossy patriarchal male one. Or maybe Wicca.

      Another reason it doesn’t hang together for me, is all the different gods kicking around. Who is to say whether Allah (pbuh) or the Jewish god or the Christian god is the genuine thing? And if a god was so clever, why allow all the competition? But there is a difference also between organised religion, to which you refer, and a more spiritual belief, which sounds like where you’re coming from.

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  18. Just downloaded Kevin’s story! I wasn’t brought up in a religious family and yet was drawn to religious history courses when I was in school. It’s hard to study history without studying religion.

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    • I think religion is interesting academically, I just don’t believe in it. Andrew made the same comment about religion and history, and I gave some examples of my degree that didn’t include religion. I did think about a challenge: put together three years worth of modules for a history degree excluding religion… You’d also have to take into consideration period of history, but I reckon it’s doable.

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  19. Doesn’t the glint in Burt Lancaster’s eye, and the big cheesy grin, say it all about religious manipulation. A chilling performance if I remember the film aright. I went to Sunday School for a while because they gave us stamps for attendance – big ones. Repros of old master religious scenes. They were beguiling for a bit. I think I collected six or so. Then I realised the bribery wasn’t worth it, and I had a few gaps in the book they gave us to stick them in, which looked unattractive. And unlike Typhoo tea cards you couldn’t do swaps to make up for the missed ones. But I still used to take myself to church when I was about ten. Mostly I think because the church was two miles away and I was allowed to go on my bike through town because there was no traffic back then on Sundays. I remember the thrill of whizzing along…

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    • It’s a very good film, IMO. The book was good too. It was a best seller when it was published probably because it was so controversial, calls for it to be banned and for Sinclair Lewis to be jailed. But Lancaster and Simmons were perfect casting in the film. What I liked about it was the fact that he was rubbish at whatever he was meant to be selling as a travelling salesman, but all his nights in seedy hotels or whatever meant he had the Gideon bible at his fingertips, so he started selling religion instead. Really clever.

      I’ve got a load of old books c1920s courtesy of my great aunt whose attendance at Sunday School was rewarded with a decent book. Sounds a better deal than your stamps! I loved collecting the tea cards. Still got one album that my mother collected. One or maybe two cards missing though :( must look it up.

      I wasn’t allowed on the roads on my bike :( Still, I’ve made up for it since.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I’m late to the party again. I have to admit to a certain degree of envy of the quantity and, in most cases, the quality of your respondents. You have to imagine the position this poor polite Canadian is in. You’ve raised such a contentious topic but my genes so powerfully hold me back from saying anything that anyone could possibly take offense at.
    Just kidding, of course. We Canadian’s are not so nearly as nice as polite as we often say we are. Evidence? Ice hockey. The Dieppe Raid. Our JTF2. The list goes on and on.
    But as for religion, frankly I’m always reluctant to wade in much so perhaps my reply will just be a brief explanation of why.
    I’ve seen the definition of religion run across quite a wide range. At one end (some Buddhists and native american practitioners are in this camp) religion consists of a core set of beliefs (not always about a god) and a shared set of rites and rituals. This one roughly translates to “live a *skillful* and graceful life; one that respects our unique place as well as that of others.” The overall emphasis is on living a life in harmony with others and with ones surroundings. Never mind the god beliefs or the strict moral codes.
    At the other end we have the full-on almighty being who dictates all that transpires in the universe. And its zealous practitioners. This one generally translates to, “worship my god my way or I’ll kill you.”
    While I can name some at both ends of the spectrum (a lot at the latter, unfortunately) I imagine that just about anyone can find themselves somewhere on it and therein lies the problem. Whenever I criticize some part (and I do) there’s always a danger that what I’m saying will get misapplied or, eve more likely, just plain taken way beyond what I intended. Hence my general silence.
    Hmmm–self reflection–for someone with nothing to say I certainly spent a lot of time saying it. Oh my–maybe by friends are right and I am becoming something of a windbag. :-)

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    • Hardly late, just a few early partygoers turned up before you. They’ve left now, and even I had a break.

      As with a number of blog posts, it was inspired by a throw away comment elsewhere by someone who has gone through a lot of belief changes, and not just religion, apparently feminism too. She seemed to think that non-believers had time on their hands to be able to analyse, internally debate etc etc to decide to reject religion. Now that may well be the case for someone who is a believer in the first place, but when you’ve never believed it, it doesn’t take long to decide on your point of view.

      I mentioned Buddhism above, which I think is one of the less unappealing religions/way of life/set of beliefs, probably because it accords with a lot of my thoughts. But if I think that way anyway, why bother with a religion? It’s very difficult to misapply or misunderstand what I say on it. I don’t believe, I think it’s silly, you believe what you want, but don’t encroach on my life. Plus, I’m not getting int debates about something I think is non-existent. Like the black hole of creationism for example.

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  21. Father was a Catholic church hating atheist; mother sort of C of E. I was sent to afternoon Sunday school so that they could have sex in peace.
    While on holiday with the family in Scotland it was the Presbyterian Church…three hour sermons, the time marked by the number of Mint Imperials sucked, and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs in the afternoon.
    The Bible was a staple of literature – the language of the King James’ version utterly unbeatable – and I took RK at A level.
    The problem seems to me to be a confusion between individual belief and organised religion….Michel’s iron law of oligarchy is as true to organised religion as to organised labour movements and in the hands of misogynistic men leads to the oppression of women and a great deal of chest beating involving the demonisation of those who don’t care for the chest in question.

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    • I ended up with two bibles from school. We got one given (by the trustees) at Junior School, and another at senior school. The covers are different colours, I suspect the content is the same and probably KJ at a guess, knowing my school. I’ll try and remember to bring one back from the finca. I’ve never read it through, but I’ve never read all of Shakespeare or finished Proust.

      Interestingly when we made O level choices, let alone A, it wasn’t particularly encouraged (nor was music, sadly) or I might have been interested as I quite enjoyed it. But by the time you’ve got all the compulsory ones ticked off, there wasn’t much space when nine was the max number in one year. Unless you kicked up a fuss, which I didn’t realise you could do, the only ‘choice’ was between one or two sciences or an extra language, so I took physics, chemistry, Latin (compulsory if you were in the top stream) and French. The language option was German which I wasn’t bothered about anyway. Oh, there was Greek as well, that would have been good. I would have swapped geography in favour of music or RK. But academic analysis of religious texts is a long way from blind belief.

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      • Having a Presbyterian headmistress it was very much encouraged! And very enjoyable, especially as a fellow pupil’s father held a chair of Assyriology which gave us some interesting background.

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        • I’m not disputing religion isn’t interesting. Just that I can’t imagine believing in it. Might as well believe in Zeus, Isis/Osiris, Woden and Thor etc. One set of tales are called myths/mythology, the others are graced with the term religion.

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          • Yes, but when we begin to talk of the evils of religion we should bear in mind that it is the institutionalised religion we are speaking of, rather than any particular individual belief.
            On myth and religion I must say that I think all religions have their myths well embedded…

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  22. My favourite post yet! What a fun bunch of debate. You sure know how to get it going. We share the same view regarding religion – but unlike you I did come out of a committed Christian family. Church three times a week, my entire life till I left home, thank you very much..Dad was the preacher. Spent a teenage year in The States deep in the Bible Belt where Dad read for his M at a Christian Uni….then thankfully I travelled, independently, and took Bib Studies as a major – big mistake or not depending on which side of the fence one was sitting…..opened up all the questions I had been carrying around in my head. I understand a bit of what Ruth is saying though. Perhaps being a South African, living among so much diversity, helps somewhat – I don’t remember much diversity in Texas. Anyway, my parents did allow me the freedom of choice – once I was a grown up, without disowning me – so I am thankful for that. But the bottom line is that fantasy has just never been a strong point for me. I think another part of the issue or reason why everyone just follows along is that to make other choices would require ‘thought’. I am not sure we getting any better at that as humans….Thanks Roughseas. I’ve been up north again and off the blogging chart. Fun re-entry into your posts.

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    • Hello MBL, hope you had a good trip and will be sharing some gorgeous photos.

      Thank you. I’m happy to have different opinions, and I know it’s a controversial subject. What I wanted to do, was say that it’s never been a big part of my life, so the rational conclusion for me, was to decide I didn’t believe in it. That’s nothing like someone who did fervently believe and has now rejected it, eg Ruth who you mentioned earlier. Ruth speaks a lot of sense, plus she’s been there and knows what she’s talking about, as does Kevin, for similar reasons.

      Church three times a week and living in the Bible Belt?!! Sounds like my worst nightmare, and yet brought up with it as the norm, the sense of belonging, I can see how people accept religion without questioning it. Why rock the boat?

      I think fantasy is fine if you acknowledge it is just that. For example, Andrew mentioned needing a strong academic argument to reject a religion. I don’t think so. I don’t think they had in vitro fertilisation 2000 years ago so how do we explain a virgin birth? And didn’t Michael Jackson want to be cryofrozen – has he come back from the dead? Those are the two biggies for me, oh and the angel Gabriel from heaven came, his wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame. A favourite carol but angels just do not go flying around the place visiting so-called virgins with prophecies.

      Atheists specifically, and even agnostics, or lump them together as non-believers, are in a minority, and probably for the reason you say. Too difficult to think outside of the box. Or the Bible Belt.

      Anyway, nice to see you back.

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  23. In my experience academic argument and religion or at least Christianity just leads to frustration as it always gets back to the nitty- gritty which is faith. A department in which I am lacking…So it becomes a case of ‘agree to disagree’. For me the biggest challenge is to try get my head around those few folk that I know who really seem to be intelligent thinkers but still practice their faith. What is that about?? Interestingly though, these folk also tend to be the ones that quietly get on with things and don’t bible bash. But we are social creatures (well most of us) and I guess religion meets that need, as you have pointed out, along with a great business networking system and after all, like with just about everything..when we get beyond the nitty- gritty it’s all about the money honey.
    I had a really interesting chat with a friend who works for a large corporation which has two streams – Ministries and Hospitality. The hospitality part was developed to support the ministry side. Over the last few years as the world economy has taken a knock the religious side has grown to such an extent that it now leads as the income earner. When I read the title of your post, for some reason I was reminded of this conversation.
    Anyway, I am not saying anything fresh, but have enjoyed the rant! Will get on with the task of seeing if I can push out a post of my own…its been a bit of a dry year. Home schooling (not engaged with for religious reasons, mind) does not seem to leave much space for blogging. (Nor does hanging out along the East African coast :)

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    • Agreeing to disagree is fine, although I do share your puzzlement about why seemingly intelligent people blindly believe. Could be any reason, mostly because they want to I suspect. It’s a shame about the money. I’d like to think it was more altruistic than that, but why would it be? Few people can survive without money. Including the churches.

      Taking a rest, education and hanging out sounds good.

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  24. I don’t like the way this theme strings your comments… they get difficult to follow when you end up reading one word per line. Mm. Not good. And Christmas is coming too… Humbug!

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      • I have also stopped reading during the week, when times is very valuable, because it gets just too tedious to read posts word by word, because they string up in narrow one-word columns. But it’s Saturday; I made a pot of coffee and am reading up. I am ok with that, because I realize that no everything works out perfectly for everyone at the same time…:o).
        Just wanted to point out since I am already here that Buddhism is not a religion. There is not, as in most other religions, an Almighty God to be obeyed and feared. The Buddha does not believe in a cosmic potentate, omniscient and omnipresent. In Buddhism there are no divine revelations or divine messengers. A Buddhist is, therefore, not subservient to any higher supernatural power which controls his destinies and which arbitrarily rewards and punishes. Since Buddhists do not believe in revelations of a divine being Buddhism does not claim the monopoly of truth and does not condemn any other religion. But Buddhism recognizes the infinite latent possibilities of man and teaches that man can gain deliverance from suffering by his own efforts independent of divine help or mediating priests. For most of us it is a way to practice discipline and train our mind and consciousness and act accordingly.

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  25. Well, this one’s kept you busy with comments, Kate :) :)
    I’ve just been watching a National Geographic on Java, where the natives climb to the rim of the volcano to sacrifice to their God and then scramble down the inside of the volcano to catch the goodies being hurled off the top. Self help? A rather dangerous form.

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  26. Well said Kate and great post! I believe the same. Live in the now. What’s more important than that? I also feel that if there is a God, he sure as hell won’t be like these believers make him out to be. He would be a kind, loving and caring God and it’s awful that some people go around using his name to kill and destroy each other. What also always fascinate me is the fact that some would post all these ‘Jesus’ and ‘God’ messages to show how ‘religious’ they are but if you look into their lives, they are the ones that are always critisizing and judging others. Do they think their religious beliefs makes them ‘God’? I think not. I am so glad I don’t believe in ‘their god’.

    Loved the video. I can sit and watch these old movies all day long. :D

    Hope all is well there hon. How are you and the beasties? ♥

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    • That’s a great response Sonel. Hey maybe you should start doing ‘religious’ posts?! No, perhaps nature posts are of more use and more interesting. Incidentally I couldn’t comment on your twig wilt post as comments are now closed, but I enjoyed reading it. You should teach nature lessons :) I knew about ladybirds and hoverflies as I’ve always gardened organically. Even the washing up liquid I use to spray the plants is ecological. That last link was good though. All pesticides/insecticides/herbicides do is make money for big chemical companies and destroy the environment (rant, rant).

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      • Oh good gods, never! :lol: Strangely enough, yesterday a thought jumped into my mind : ‘Why do we have to believe in this ‘God’ that these religious people believe in? Because they say so? Because these beliefs were brought down from family to family? Because society say we must? I love the quote by Rumi : I belong to no religion. My religion is Love. Every heart is my temple.”

        Sorry about that. I forgot to disable it again but glad you enjoyed it hon.

        Oh, I wish! LOL! Now, if I could write and think like you, for sure! :D All I know is what I get from Wikipedia and Google. hahahah.

        Yes, that is true indeed. These power and money hungry fools are destroying everything. Don’t let me start ranting. LOL!

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