Just when I was about to end my "war on religion"...

...I got the following email from my friend, Christine, regarding my last post, and knew I would have to fire a final salvo. I will first share her letter, and then I will share my comments, which, like my last post, primarily concern Christianity.

"You know, Snow, you take a rather cynical AND egotistical stance against those of us who practice spirituality. Yes, of course there are the loudmouth religious rights who preach fire and brimstone. But you don’t seem to consider that the problem isn't the religion(s), it's the people who have opinions on religion - for AND against. That’s all. Philosophers write about their philosophical views and how those views can guide your life, your actions. Perhaps you wouldn’t be as offended by religion if you could take the ‘god aspect’ out of it. Many feel that god-is-love / love-is-universal / we-are-the-universe. When I say to you, ‘I will pray for you,’ I mean that I’m extending my own positive energy toward you. You KNOW without a doubt that you get something from that, from moral support. That’s all prayer is.

"To paint god and believers with such a broad-brush stroke is arrogant and narrow, in my opinion. It’s not god I’m defending here. What I’m defending is the right of individuals to practice philosophy. You’re all for religious freedom, but when you criticize and condemn those beliefs, you’re no better than the embittered evangelicals who give organized religion such a bad name.

"Might you consider using your talent and energy on reading up about philosophies that are more suited to your situation/personality/etc? Might you consider letting go your debate and contention with god/religion, so that you can find a philosophical relationship that works FOR you?"

To begin, I don’t think Christine meant to insult me even though I found some of what she said insulting. Likewise, I have no desire to insult her. As far as I am aware, she and I are, and will remain, on the best of terms despite our differences.

I was struck by the fact that Christine didn’t address any of the points I raised; she simply labeled me as “arrogant and narrow” for making them. In fact, NONE of the supporters of religion who read my post addressed any of the points I made, so let me make myself clear: if you think I made a rational or factual error, show me my error. However, I cannot accept your personal experience of answered prayer as proof of anything.

If you think this is unfair, please consider how you would feel if I told you I had seen the Loch Ness monster. Would you believe that the Loch Ness monster existed based upon my testimony, or even the testimonies of a thousand other people? Why not? Because for a thousand people to see something that extraordinary is a different matter from a thousand people seeing something relatively commonplace. As Carl Sagan said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” The corollary to this is that ordinary claims—like a report of a squirrel eating a nut—can be held to a lower standard of proof than claims about preternatural entities acting in defiance of scientific laws.

“... the problem isn’t the religion(s), it’s the people who have opinions on religion—for AND against.”

Show me the charred bodies of Christians who were murdered in the name of atheism; tell me of the Christians you know who were fired from their jobs, chased from their communities, expelled from their schools, threatened with violence, or otherwise persecuted in the name of non-belief. Then I will tell you of the times I have been cursed, threatened, ridiculed, stared at hatefully, subjected to obscene gestures, dismissed from jury duty, and even struck on the back of the head by Christians. Why? Because I wrote letters to newspapers, attended atheist conventions, rode with friends who had atheist bumper stickers on their cars, and refused to stand while a government employee led a Christian prayer inside a government building.

Thirty years ago, I was non-resident editor of American Atheist, and I had the honor of its president, Madalyn Murray O’Hair (see photo), asking that I call her Grandma. I mention this to demonstrate that I have been on the inside of the most militant atheist organization in America without ever once hearing any member of that organization—or any similar organization—propose that any law should be made that would limit the private exercise of religion, yet I have heard Christians say that atheists are “too dangerous to the American way of life to be permitted to spout their vile heresies,” and I have heard President George H. Bush say: “I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.” So, I ask you again—when you equate those who criticize religion with those who support religion, show me the evidence.

“You’re all for religious freedom, but when you criticize and condemn those beliefs, you’re no better than the embittered evangelicals.”

You might as well compare a gnat to a cobra. Can you point to a single place or period in the history of Christianity (modern day evangelicals included) in which religious people hesitated to pass laws to oppress nonbelievers? By contrast, what oppressive laws do you see me promoting—or fear I will promote? My sole desire in writing my last post was to offer a rational critique of prayer. However, I must confess that I would also like to see churches taxed, and for any and all observances of religion to be removed from taxpayer funded schools, ceremonies, and institutions. This is ALL I would like to see happen. I would NEVER tear down a church, deny a believer a job, throw a person in jail for professing his faith, forbid a preacher access to the media, or give anyone a religious test for public office. I don’t even care if the Boy Scouts expel atheists just so long as the Boy Scouts are not endorsed or supported by the government.

I object to religion because it is an oppressive and irrational influence in society. Yet, I acknowledge the right of religious people to be religious just as I acknowledge the right of those who believe in UFOs to believe in UFOs. BUT, if people who believe in UFOs should attempt to legally force the recognition of UFOs—or the beliefs that stem from their belief in UFOs—on other people, I would oppose them. Religious people in general believe that God should be on our coins, in our Pledge of Allegiance, in our public ceremonies, on our public buildings, in our public schools (and even our public textbooks), at our public sporting events, and in our moral laws. Theirs is not a live and let live policy. Theirs is a policy of forcing their religion-based values on everyone else and then accusing anyone who objects of being intolerant and unpatriotic. As you will no doubt point out, I generalize, but I believe that mine is a fair characterization of the majority of American Christians.

“Might you consider letting go your debate and contention with god/religion…”

Aside from an occasional blogpost, I do not spend a moment of my time opposing religion, yet I see it as a force worthy of opposition. You believe Christianity, for the most part, is a harmless, if not a benevolent, “philosophy.” I would argue that the fact that Christians haven’t killed or imprisoned anybody lately (aside from an occasional abortion provider) in no way convinces me that millions of them wouldn’t gladly do so again. It is not Christianity’s innate goodness that is responsible for its relative innocuousness but its political weakness. And that could change. There was a time, after all, when Islam was known for its peaceful coexistence and Christianity for its intolerant cruelty. Having swung once, who can say that the pendulum won’t swing again?

Pat Robertson said of Haiti after last week’s earthquake that the country, “had been cursed by one thing after another” since they “swore a pact to the devil.” If America’s foremost religious leader can scarcely contain his glee following natural disasters, which he invariably sees as God’s punishment of sinners and nonbelievers (along with millions of innocent bystanders), is it inconceivable that he might entertain a desire to act as God’s right hand in meting out the torment? Now, multiply that one hate-monger by millions, and tell me that they are the moral equals of those who goal it is to minimize the impact of just such thinking in the political life of this country.


rhymeswithplague said...

You make a lot of good points, actually, but I remain a Christian. I hope, in your words, that you and I "will remain on the best of terms despite our differences"!

But there is a link I hope you will have a look at. It's by Dr. John Linna, a 70-year-old retired Lutheran minister in Wisconsin, and his post for today, Jan. 24, 2010, "Third Sunday After Epiphany" states the case for the other side as well as you have stated yours. Twice. He only gets religious-sounding on Sundays.

Dr. John's blog

Mim said...

You're brilliant.

rhymeswithplague said...

I don't agree that Pat Robertson is "America's foremost religious leader." Far from it.

With Billy Graham in his dotage and Oral Roberts recently deceased, perhaps America's foremost religious leader these days is T.D. Jakes. Or not.

I always thought Jan Crouch looked like Little Bo-Peep until someone referred to her as Antique Barbie.

There's always Mother Angelica.

All of these people mean well, as do you.

I think we agree more than you think, but I remain a Christian, not because of other Christians, but because of Christ.

All Consuming said...

This is absolutely brilliant; I’m going to keep a copy as a word document as you put across how I feel on this subject so much better than I can.
(I've answered your last message to me on mine, so as not to take up an inordinate amount of space in a comment box that's meant to relate to your actual post.)
Love Michelle xxxx

Sonia ;) said...

I can see and understand your point. You do make very good points. I appreciate your thoughts and opinions also. Religion has played a big part in the demise of others beliefs and societies. Witches burned at the stake for practising natural health(most witches were midwives, healers, and believers in nature)...Ireland and Scotland had their old ways in beliefs and the religious sects turned it into devils play. Incas, and mayans were strongly converted out of their "savagery" as catholic monks were sent to convert. Sadly I believe nowadays that is slowly changing with alot of beliefs being able to be expressed. Genocides of ppl, animals and places are every where. Tibetan monks, breeds of dogs, and our natural resources being raped. I for one am glad that someone's opinions are able to be expressed without stakes and tortures. Freedom is an expression of someone or something being able to move freely with self, opinion, and way of life. That is what everyone should be fighting for. Haiti didnt deserve this. Pat Robertson talks out his ass. Because his god is suppose to love all, forgive all, and be non judgemental. So far he has turned himself into his own god and is misusing the ppl who believe that god who loves would be so cruel. My belief is in nature, love, humanity, and freedom of those.

I love ya Snow, and that you do express your views. That you can and have that right. And I read to understand and maybe look at things in a different angle or from someone elses point of view.

I guess then Im a witch in society..lol...burn baby burn...Its all good. EVERYONE has that freedom to think, talk, and express.


Pantheist Mom said...

Snow, this post completely resonates with me. Yes, yes, and yes.

When I was getting married, my husband and I (both atheists) wanted a civil wedding service, outdoors in a garden of Colonial Williamsburg. The garden part was easy to reserve. A non-religious ceremony performed by a civil justice of the peace was impossible. I was told that I was beginning my marriage in a sinful way and damning it to failure. We did find someone supposedly willing to do a civil ceremony, but he showed up with a bible and injected lots of god-talk into the ceremony. My husband nearly walked out but I convinced him I'd prefer to be married to him that day.

How is that possible? Why was I was unable to secure a non-religious wedding ceremony? (Pity I didn't know about Unitarian Universalists at the time.)

It is this perception on the part of many/most christians - that they have the RIGHT to have their religion so entwined in culture and government that it is nearly impossible to escape it- that frustrates me. And the christians I know absolutely don't see this. One had the nerve to suggest to me that christians are discriminated against in today's society (another party in the discussion was a gay friend who had been fired from his job because of his homosexuality. The irony made my head explode).

To claim "discrimination" when the rest of us are simply trying to NOT participate in christianity is absurd.

There are some good things in christianity, and some very good people that I know and love that are christians. I don't hate the religion. I hate being forced to participate in it.

Well done, Snow.

ellen abbott said...

I think you know that, although I do not consider myself an atheist, I agree with everything you have said in this and the last post. I agree that there are individual Christians and even individual congregations that go against the general current of the Christian desire to have everyone believe as they do and their desire to impose their beliefs in our country, government and schools. The founders of this country, contrary to popular belief, were for the most part deists, not christians per se and they understood the need for separation of church and state. Unfortunately, the following generations of christians have done all they can to undermine that. The pledge of allegience, as an example, did not originally contain the words ‘under god’. It was added much later. They point to the 10 commandments as the basis for all law but those ‘commandments’ were not original to the judeo/christian/muslim god. Read up on ancient egypt and the code of Hammurabi (Mesopotamia). I’m personally against prayer in school and public functions, etc. God does not care who wins the football game or who wins the election or even who wins the war. (re prayer in school...what they want is not prayer in school but christian prayer in school. I’m sure there would be a hue and cry if muslim, jewish or buddhist prayer were offered.)

I also do not believe that you can separate current ‘political correctness’ in today’s christianity from it’s bloody past. Christianity has been deadly for non-believers for all but a couple of hundred years of it’s history. Just because they are not currently killing those they can’t convert or control doesn’t mean that they have stopped trying to convert and control, to repress others. Like you, I believe that the pendulum can and will swing back again.

Marion said...

"I don't like to commit myself about heaven and hell - you see, I have friends in both places." ~Mark Twain

Snow, the way I see it, every single person on earth is entitled to their own opinion, whether we like it or not. I prefer not to insult people for sharing their personal opinions on their own blogs. I know that Pat Robertson does much good with his 'charity' called "Operation Blessing", so I've refrained from dissing him about his statement on Haiti.

As my atheist daddy used to say, "Nobody ever came back and told me there was a heaven or a hell." Having said that, I consider myself a christian, but I don't believe in beating people over the head with my beliefs. To misquote a quote I have on my blog, "What people need is Jesus, sure, but even moreso, they need people to BE Jesus to them."


The Blog Fodder said...

Once any religion or organized belief system gains the upper hand it becomes as you describe, Snowbrush. It is ONLY political weakness that keeps them from acting as "God's Right Hand". Imagine a fascist America with Pat Robertson as President, determined to create a "Christian" country. I do not fear Muslims, Communists, Buddhists or Hindus. I fear Right Wing "Christians" (who are in fact not Christians at all).

Pouty said...

Any rational person cannot ignore all of the problems in the world's history that were caused by twisted religious beliefs; i.e., terrorists, abortion doctor murders, the Israel/Palestinian conflict, so-called honor killings, and genocide. I totally believe in separation of church and state. I still cannot believe that George Bush got away with saying atheists maybe should not be considered patriots or citizens.

Your friend said: "Might you consider using your talent and energy on reading up about philosophies that are more suited to your situation/personality..."

Snowbrush, Insult. It sounds like the assumption is that you choose to be an atheist out of ignorance.

Anonymous said...

Snow, I imagine my remark (in part to defend myself) is too long for the comment section, but here it is for your consideration.

I didn't address any of the points you made in your original post because I can't argue with your points. In part because I feel that YOU can't argue with an omnipotent presence that may or may not exist. It's a circular thinking pattern that you're trying to make concrete and final, but it's simply not possible.

I don't think it's logical to blame an omnipotent "god" or the majority of innocent "believers" for the foibles of the corrupt who distort religious philosophy for their own gain. Do you understand, Snow? It's not really your points I disagree with, but your mocking language toward an entity that can't be defined. You can't logically argue with an entity you don't believe in and then blame that entity for crimes clearly carried out by men. THAT was my point.

Having said that, I agree that a lot of Catholic / Christian dogma is theological horseshit. (Can you imagine my telling my two teenaged sons that they'll go to hell if they masturbate? Dang, living with them would be hell if they didn't!)

I agree that religious martyrdom AND religious persecution are both just excuses for murder, pure and simple. But often, love gone corrupt induces some to commit heinous crimes. I don't hear you arguing against love and marriage.

The remark that really struck me in your original post that compelled me to refer to you as "arrogant" was this: "I realized that I didn’t believe because there was no evidence to substantiate belief. This alleviated my terror, but it left me with another problem, namely, if there is no evidence for belief, why then do so many people believe—is it simply a matter of honest disagreement?"

You could have left it at that. Because in my opinion, (a) it IS a matter of honest disagreement, (b) why is it YOUR "problem", and (c) who are you to say there is no evidence?

The other day, my oldest son Jake told me in no uncertain terms that I love Cory more than him. Heartbreaking. But I have no "evidence" to repudiate that claim? He's decided that's the way it is, and so he sees only my offenses. (and there ARE offenses because I'm not a perfect parent. And Jake's a difficult kid.)

My point yesterday and today is that ANY philosophical ideal - whether the ideal is related to love, marriage, parenting, societal structure, financial planning - ANY ideal that begins as a sound philosophy has the potential to be corrupted by the imperfections of the people living them.

Prayer and every other spiritual practice is a belief choice. Ideally when we're given philosophical choices, we find something that works with our own personal life situation or culture. Doing away with religion because of its failings makes about as much sense to me as doing away with families.

Nothing is perfect or certain in this life, but we have free will in choosing how closely we follow the philosophical ideals that enrich our lives along the way.

I'm sorry that any or all of my note offended you. And I'm reassured to read that we're still on good terms, despite our difference in opinion.


Winifred said...

Streuth Snowbrush, that was a rant and a half. Feel better?

People have a right to believe or not, that's their right and their choice. As long as none of them stuff it down my throat, that's fine with me.

The danger comes from extremists, whatever their belief or non belief. Live and let live!

Anonymous said...

Dear Snow, I just wonder why people are still willing to/ wanting to, put life and beliefs into categories.
For me, the most profound trust into a higher power, is, that I am able to/ willing and forced to breathe, to do good among people, regardless of their origin or believe.
Yet, this reminds me of the day, when I set a candle alight, inside of a local church. Being asked, what "kind of Christian" I am, replied, that in my believe there are no differences in that - upon hearing that, she took me candle and put it out.
But it might have been burning long enough, as I still am, breathing.
A profound entry of yours, demanding, in my opinion, to delete these categories, before it might be too late.
A wonderful start into the new week for you all.

Diana said...

Well I am a believer. But if your not I don't really feel that it's any of my business anyway. My spirituality is very personal to me. I frankly don't care what or who other people believe in.
Can't we all just get along!!
Love Di

Teresa said...

Hi Snow,
I missed something, so I went back and read...partially read...your older post.

I think that you want us to convince you...but that is something only God can do. I am now praying that God will reveal himself to you and the reason for prayer... (((((HUGS))))) T

CreekHiker said...

I believe in God, Christ and the afterlife...I've had way too many strange experiences not too... and if I'm wrong??? Oh well, I treated people with kindness and lived life believing in something that gave me peace. Not too shabby.

That being said, I completely agree with you on this: "I object to religion because it is an oppressive and irrational influence in society. " So true... I've always had an issue with religions... so many wars fought over religion...so much greed in the name of religion. I have no use for that!

C Woods said...

Another great post.

I agree with so much you have posted here.

What most religious people don't seem to get is that most non-believers want to be free from religious intrusion --which is difficult to do when we are bombarded by it everywhere. And we want to be thought of as being just as good, ethical and moral as those who are religious. (The two most unethical people I ever met were born-again Christians ---but they were an exception, I'm sure.) I'd also be very happy if religious people would refrain from telling me I am doomed to everlasting torture in hell.

I contend, as long as religion doesn't come up, no one would ever guess I am an atheist. I am a productive member of society who has worked to improve the lives of others in nearly every job I've ever had. I donate time and money to charity. I care deeply about others.

My ethics come from many philosophies. I believe there are some good ideas in the Bible (along with all the violence.) But I also have adopted life "mottos" from personalities as diverse as Confucius, George Carlin, Voltaire, Thomas Paine, John Muir, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Robert Heinlein, Robert Ingersoll, Mark Twain ---and many others.

To those that ask why we care ---I read a lot about religion. I also read many crime stories. I'm curious about both. Why makes someone commit crimes? Why do people believe what seems so incredible to me?

kj said...

whoa! i need more time than i have right now to absorb all this. so i'll go to bed wondering what i believe and i;ll come back in due time knowing no more and no less.

oh, i do know i'm glad to know you.


kylie said...

i reckon you should meet mark, the walking man

here he is

vjack said...

Snowbrush, consider joining the atheist blogroll to help like-minded people find your blog. See http://mojoey.blogspot.com/2006/09/join-mojoeys-atheist-blogroll.html

Gaston Studio said...

You always present a good debate Snow, whether one agrees with you or not, you put out thought to ponder.

A British friend of mine sent me an email after Robertson's comment and I merely responded with:
"The man is a stupid, ignoramus; don't judge us all by him."

the walking man said...

Honestly we share some things in ideology. *Shrug* disdain for religion is one them. religion is not really a word used in most "sacred" texts. In Hebrew (I ain't looking it up so bear with me) the word is inclusive of all life from taking a dump to going to temple. It has nothing to do with how or what a person believes. It is a way of life.

It could be safe to say that your religion is Atheism and that would adequately describe what the word means to the Jews. A thought and conduct of all the ways a life is lived.

In Greek (ain't looking that up either so continue to bear please) the word actually is better and more accurately translated as service. Not "religious service" as in going to church but rather service to ones fellow humans.

What you write here could be also construed as an act of religion because of the service the information and opinion the writing provides.

It is always good to look to the views of others to hold them against your own and see where the light shines through. Commonality rather than dichotomy.

Though not well versed in Atheistic belief I understand that there is or was a headquarters and a dogma with attendant creeds of belief that are attached to it. If that be so then in my view it qualifies as a religion as much as Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Hindu (and all sub sects thereof)thought and philosophy.

I am no fan of titles no matter what they be and even less a fan of formal rules, rites and rituals that we now in this day and age quantify religion to be.

I have no religion, I have faith. Same as you have faith.

Faith is NOT believing without understanding or believing without knowing. Faith is a noun, a thing belief is a verb, an action.

Faith is defined in different ways but the one that makes sense to me is that faith is evidence and ownership of something before it is seen.

Your faith, the thing you have claimed ownership of before you have seen it is that there is no God. That life is what it is and that we should handle it without the expected help of an unseen or unknown being.

My faith is opposite in one regard, that there is a being, not human but of a different physical presence not seen by the eye nor heard by the ear but rather within the heart of man there is the ability to have communion with that being. And that man originated in the mind of that being and that man has part and parcel with that being who is a spirit (called such because we need a word for everything.)A form of life not human but also not as we think it.

the walking man said...

The great problem I have with people who say they believe and have faith is that what they think of God as is more of a butler than a mentor or teacher. God is not, has not , and never intended prayer as a way for us to "ask" for shit.

Prayer is conversation between the human heart that contains a spiritual portion with that spirit.

Yes some will say "God I need this or God I want that" yet why should God provide these things if that human is well able to provide them for themselves? In this we agree.

Yet that is what all religions teach with the exception of your own. That God is among us to serve us. So we agree in this as well, that that ideology is a bunch of shit foisted on mankind by greedy and self serving churches built up over time to fleece the flock and turn the herd to their leaders whims.

I have for decades said to any who asked that any religion, including Atheism is as good a place to start the journey as any but a piss poor place to end it if you have actually walked looking for truth a life times worth of paces.

One thing you did that had me bemused because it was the same thing that others who try to teach about the God of the Judeo/Christian/Muslim persuasion always do is that you quote scripture to fit what it is you want it to say.

There was a reason that God treated so harshly in the before Christian era, yet that is for hem who wish to know and not something that I am willing to teach at this moment. There is also a reason that our understanding of God has changed from that harsh master before Christ to the kind father after. But again the texts say "For God himself shall teach you line upon line brick upon brick lone upon line brick upon brick"

I(thank God) am not God, so the constraint of instruction is not upon me nor any other human. One of man kinds largest failings is that we rely on other men to teach us what they think, rather than God to teach us what he knows.

My faith lays ownership for me to those words above and my belief puts my actions into learning from that spirit whom we, again using the generic term, call God.

So why does God allow evil, hunger and poverty when it can be prevented? If it can be prevented without God's intervention then who is evil, the men who could and know they could do something to prevent it or God who did nothing to cause it?

Why does God allow earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunami's that kill in aggregate hundreds of thousands of humans? God is not a physical being yet this is a physical world ruled by the principles of physics. Tectonic plates shift, air currents collide, and these natural events which have been happening since the earth formed are the natural course of things.

Why should God lay a bit of his being to prevent a shift of air or plates within the earth? To prevent those hundreds of thousands of deaths? Death is a step we all will take regardless of the manner of it.

You know it to be true and I know it to be true. Where we split in our belief is that you think it a final step and I think it a middle step. For my belief is in an eternal life and my faith is that all of those hundreds of thousands and all who died before and all who will die after will live in eternity when the last moment of time has finally passed.

kylie said...

and this is what i expected!
interesting dialogue :) :)

the walking man said...

I am of a mind that what you believe is as legitimate for your life as what I believe is for mine. There is truth in what you say, not honesty mind you but truth.

The rejection of what we have come to know as religion is one of them. You have looked a lifetime and come to this place of being in your mind and soul and that is well done for you because you are comforted in it.

You've walked your path saw your options, made your choices, researched them as you could, understood them as you did and arrived at a rational conclusion. Well done sir, I congratulate you because it is more than most will ever find nerve enough to do.

It is comfortable to limit our service to one day a week for a few hours and say that is the entirety of our obligation. You did not take a comfortable path and again I congratulate you for it.

Yet at the same time I have walked my path, I have come to points where I had to make decisions then research the validity of those decisions and move to the next and we have come to seeming disparate ends.

But in fact have we?

I do not know you but let us compare some ideology and see how far apart we really are?

I believe it is the right and moral thing to do to help another whom I can as I am able.

I believe that wherever there is growth there is life.

I believe that the world can use some love but not to the point where it is simply another pop song, that love honestly given and honestly received heals the hearts with which it is shared.

I believe that I am not upon this earth to be a door mat or walked upon by them who would have me for such and that in some cases it is necessary to fight. Yet at the same time I have become wiser as I aged in how and with what weapon I will fight with.

Those are but a few of the points that I think our beliefs touch and with more thought I am certain I could lengthen the list.

So to the major point where or faiths do not touch is on the existence of a spirit from who's mind all mass and matter, all eternal and mortal is a product of.

To me, it makes little difference where we disagree because your end will be the same as mine as we exit this mortal finite place. We will leave behind a few pounds of flesh that will be buried, burned or dissected at a medical school (my personal choice).

Your belief structure ends with that thought.

Mine simply goes a few paces further and it is of no consequence to your structure.

I say that the portion of me that is human, the mind and consciousness, will sleep and rest and when the last moment of this physical reality is finished that will be the beginning of eternal reality for man.

My belief is that you too, regardless of what you believe will also follow this path after you pass from this place.

If we must speak in absolutes then it is easy enough to agree that one of us is correct and one of us is not, yet while we yet live here on this planet, during these times, that we can do something to heal and help others as well as our own selves. In my mind the disagreements are far outweighed by the agreements.

So from this member of the "old coots who are a fan of Kylie" I bid you good evening, stay safe, healthy and be well.


nollyposh said...

i'm sorry you lost me after you quoted George H. Bush... sighhh

swan said...

I meant what I said, I will always follow your blog (as long as you decide to write). Your writing means allot to me. My blog and my email have been hacked three to four times and I am sick of it so said sianara (spelling) to this realm of writing for a while... feeling a bit more than peeved and violated. Things are turbulent in my world and I am rowing towards some vision I hope will unfold into more goodness than strife... You are a dear soul. The friends I have made in blogsphere are dear to me and one day I will write in this realm again.


Snowbrush said...

Swan, I missed you. Your blog still isn't operative. I didn't know of your troubles for days, so I posted the following to my blog. I took it down only because no one was reading my first religion post that I had worked so hard on; they were ONLY reading my post to you because it was, at the time my most recent post:

"It is late, and I took my narcotics two hours ago in preparation for sleep, yet I thought to spend a few minutes catching up on your blogs, and I had trouble stopping.

"Toyswan is gone. She has often commented on my blog, and I have often commented on hers, and now, out of the blue, her blog has been taken down. She is why I am writing this. I hope she will read it, and let me know she is okay.

"Look, none of you who have a history with me and me with you; none of you just go away as if you were never there. It's not nice to do that. You might think that no one cares, or you might be mad and want to hurt people's feelings, but I'm telling you that it's a rotten thing to do.

"Swan, I am seriously upset with you, and I am sitting her crying because I don't know where you've gone or why you went there."

Strayer said...

I'd probably believe you, Snow, if you told me about seeing Nessy. I'd want to go off with you, to check it out. On a glorious quest! That's probably a fault of mine.

Bernie said...

Snow if you don't believe in prayer or in God why are you spending so much time and energy debating it....those who believe will never agree with those who don't..and vice versa.

I agree with Diana, why can't we all just get along.....:-) Hugs

Snowbrush said...

Guys, I'm behind again. I've read every comment, most of them more than once, but I'm just going to hit the last few for the moment. If you especially wanted me to address something you said, do let me know.

Bernie: "if you don't believe in prayer or in God why are you spending so much time and energy debating it..."

Because religion has been a big part of my life, and because sharing opinions about all manner of things can be an enjoyable learning experience. This question has come up a few times now, and it always surprises me. If I were interested in, for example, butterflies in Indonesia or the Battle of Vicksburg during the Civil War, would you question those interests because I'm neither a butterfly nor a Southerner who lived in 1863? Why then this assumption that the only people who have any reason to be interested in religion are people who go to church?

NollyPosh: "'m sorry you lost me after you quoted George H. Bush... sighhh:

Well, at least that part came toward the end. But why would I have lost you by quoting someone we both disagree with?

Walking Man: "There is truth in what you say, not honesty mind you but truth."

Since I think it unlikely that you meant to accuse me of lying, I wonder if maybe you meant this differently. I appreciate--very much--your careful reading and your thoughtful comments. Indeed, we agree on a great deal.

Walking Man: "There was a reason that God treated so harshly in the before Christian era, yet that is for them who wish to know and not something that I am willing to teach at this moment."

Well, I guess I'll just have to wait until you are so inclined.

Walking Man: "Though not well versed in Atheistic belief I understand that there is or was a headquarters and a dogma with attendant creeds of belief that are attached to it."

There is no "atheistic belief," and no one speaks for all atheists or even for atheists in general--much less formulates creeds for them.

C Woods: "I'd also be very happy if religious people would refrain from telling me I am doomed to everlasting torture in hell."

Or at least from looking so pleased about the prospect!

Creekhiker: "I believe in God, Christ and the afterlife...and if I'm wrong??? Oh well, I treated people with kindness and lived life believing in something that gave me peace."

In that case, may it always be so for you.

Chrisy said...

Amen Snow. Sadly the pendulum will swing again..this is inevitable...with leaders of 'democratic' countries ending addresses with 'God Bless A....' + well of course religion is impacting on the lives of all of us - including those of us who do not share these beliefs.

Tabor said...

I do not consider myself an atheist but then, I don't know what I am. I do believe in the power of prayer...perhaps not as most people understand prayer because mine has nothing to do with religion but more with biological beliefs---no facts. I do agree that prejudice in any form and certainly with physical violence is a very very bad thing and religion has lots of evidence of that. Thanks for stopping by my blog, btw.

Snowbrush said...

Bernie, Chrisy mentioned another reason for my interest in religion. Namely, it effects us all. Unlike butterflies in Indonesia, it's in my face many times a day.

Tabor, I don't understand what biological prayer means, so can hardly comment. Thank you, too, for coming by.

Diana: "Can't we all just get along!!"

Well, on the national arena, for example, decisions are often made that effect people's lives. If religious people, for example, vote to outlaw stem cell research, it's a bit much to expect those who are suffering from diseases that stem cell research might well find cures for to say, "Oh, well, let's just all get along, despite the fact that I face a short miserable life thanks to religious values you hold that make no sense to me."

Snowbrush said...

Teresa: "I think that you want us to convince you...but that is something only God can do. I am now praying that God will reveal himself to you..."

Well, Teresa, for sake of argument, let's say that your psychoanalysis is entirely correct; are you, by any chance familiar with that verse from I Peter 3 that goes: "...always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you..."? So, then, maybe you could start with my question about why believers NEVER seem to get around to praying for miracles that couldn't have happened anyway. It's an exceedingly funny thing to me that you will pray for people undergoing chemotherapy (who will probably get well anyway) but never for some poor amputee to grow new legs. I can't imagine how you guys justify that.

Christine: "It's not really your points I disagree with, but your mocking language toward an entity that can't be defined. You can't logically argue with an entity you don't believe in..."

God is as real as Uncle Sam. Every soldier who is out at this very moment shooting and getting shot at in one of our absurd wars is doing so in the name of Uncle Sam. Likewise, every Christian who is out doing his best to inflict his beliefs on other people is doing so in the name of God. An entity can be only all too real without having a literal existence.

Pantheist Mom, you pointed out an example of discrimination that Christians wouldn't even be aware of. It is only when you're on the outside that you see these things. From the inside, people can enjoy the illusion of living in freedom.

Winifred: "The danger comes from extremists, whatever their belief or non belief."

Did you read both posts? I can recount endless examples of believers persecuting nonbelievers to the point of killing them, yet NO examples of the opposite. So, when you compare the two, what evidence are you going on? I will admit that some nonbelievers are personally unpleasant, but to do as you--and Christine did--and seemingly equate unpleasantness with murder is a stretch. Christians have killed millions upon millions in the name of their Christ, often in the most gruesome ways their imagination could conceive, yet never--to my knowledge--has a single nonbeliever killed ANYONE in the name of nonbelief. He might have done so in the name of some other ideology, but never BECAUSE he was an atheist.

Robert: " Being asked, what "kind of Christian" I am, replied, that in my believe there are no differences in that - upon hearing that, she took me candle and put it out."

This is the first I've heard of a theological test for someone wishing to light a candle in a church. God forbid that an illegal candlelighter should squeak by and God inadvertently answer his prayer, eh?

Rhymes, I think well of you, and I am happy to call you friend. I visited the site you mentioned. I've never heard of T.D. Jakes.

Sonia: "EVERYONE has that freedom to think, talk, and express."

I didn't find that to be true in the Deep South. I recounted some of what happened to me, and I knew others who were libeled, assaulted, had paint thrown on their cars, etc. And I have no doubt that the very people who do such things are the first in line on Veterans Day to thank "our brave men and women in uniform for fighting to safeguard our freedom."

JOE TODD said...

Snow you sure know how to get a discussion going and a thought provoking one at that.Atheist Where is the proof? or Agnostic????? Spirituality and Religion are two entirely different things in my opinion and may or may not have anything in common. As you correctly point out in the course of human history there has for the most part been very little connection between the to. I don't think you or I have absolute proof one way or the other.. Great post keep it up

swan said...

Snow, In regards to this post, good solid writing.

I find most spiritual philosphies self agrandizing (spelling) and often give people an air of superiority and reason to live in the blind uncompassionate ways that they do... but that said I think religion and spiritual practice often differ. There seems to be a unique difference between an inward practice and that outward show which most "religious" people prefrom which is a "look at my religion and become one of us mentality". But their is another type of practice one that my idea is a microcosm refelcting the macrocosm which is about an inward experience of connection and transformation and being who you really are.

I am a person who has ideas in the fantastical the marvelous, a person who believes were all made up of mostly the same stuff... us meaning rocks, trees, stars, people, stones etc... just different speeds of vibration. That inward connection and practice probably existed in the start of most the religious institutions and a way I think was had/taught to connect or root back which some call "the source" and other "god" but after the origional founders passed on the art of connecting often died with them. These are just some ideas...

I have seen/experienced some things and I never liked to put a name to any of it... I did not like to assign to the experiences a meaning.

Alec Clayton said...

Very generous of you to say Christians haven't killed anyone lately, but you overlooked the anti-abortion fanatic who murdered Dr. Tiller and the countless gay, lesbians and transsexuals who have been murdered. All of those stemmed from Christian religious teachings.

rhymeswithplague said...

Anti-abortion fanatics 1, planned parenthood clinics 50,000,000....

Not that that justifies it. But it is kind of lopsided.

Snowbrush said...

Joe Todd: "Atheist Where is the proof? or Agnostic????? "

Joe, the burden of proof rests on the person who affirms a proposition. Take my recent example of the Loch Ness Monster. No one can PROVE that it doesn't exist, but this in no way justifies believing that it DOES exist. Suppose I told you that invisible Martians were inhabiting my garage, you might think I was psychotic, but you couldn't disprove my assertion.

Swan: "I have seen/experienced some things and I never liked to put a name to any of it... I did not like to assign to the experiences a meaning."

How, then, do you learn from your experiences? As I see it, to assign meaning to an experience is to integrate that experience into your being (to digest it, if you will). In the absence of meaning, I would not be likely to even remember an experience. It is true that the meaning I find might expand or even be revised over time, but I can't even imagine how anyone can escape the search for meaning.

Alec: "Very generous of you to say Christians haven't killed anyone lately, but you overlooked the anti-abortion fanatic who murdered Dr. Tiller and the countless gay, lesbians and transsexuals who have been murdered."

Thank you so much for your correction. It indicates to me how difficult it is to evaluate one's own society objectively. After all, if a Moslem kills people in the name of Allah, he's "an Islamic terrorist," but if a Christian does so in the name of Jesus, he's "a lone gunman" or "a deranged fanatic." To understand otherwise is to somehow find the courage and the intelligence to step back from the very language of society's dominant paradigms. That said, I'm unaware of recent murders of homosexuals that were done "in the name of Jesus." True, the hatred many churches teach might have played a part, but I am unaware that serving Jesus was the murderers' expressed intent. I could be grateful if you could correct me here. For now, I will just add abortion doctor to the text of the post.

Rhymes: "Anti-abortion fanatics 1, planned parenthood clinics 50,000,000...."

Assuming that the number of abortions you gave is accurate, and assuming that a given person equates abortion with murder; you are obviously correct. I have no doubt but what the Kansas shooter acted to save innocent lives by sacrificing the life of a person he considered a murderer. My question to you would be, why then, since you too consider abortion to be murder, you would consider him a fanatic? After all, if I killed a gunman who was shooting people in a restaurant, would you consider me a fanatic? I don't mean to bait you; I just really don't understand your condemnation of him--I could more easily understand it if you considered him a hero. As to my post, however, I was talking about crimes done in the name of Jesus versus crimes done in the name of non-belief, my point being that the former is legion and the latter non-existent.

Rose Whisperer said...

Hi Snowbrush,
Just want to say Happy Almost February - Thank you for the kind words and for following my blog. I really do appreciate it.

Been very busy, so I haven't been on there. My first book has just been published, and I'm still up on Cloud 9. All the best,

Diana said...

Dear Snow,
When I said can't we all just get along,in my previous comment, I think that you misinterpreted my meaning. Previous to that I said that it didn't matter to me what you believe in. That doesn't mean that I dislike you in anyway. You can believe in whatever you want as far as I'm concerned and yes other peoples beliefs can affect the quality of living for others but so what! It's never going to change so just deal with it and get along. Sometimes I get the feeling that you just like to stir the pot for lack of anything else to do. But what do I know, I don't sit and analyze every little thing,everyday as many of your other followers seem to do. Nope, I just live my life and take care of my family. And if that seems menial to others, guess what, I don't care. Love Di

Matawheeze said...

My logical mind rejects religion, my heart craves consolation for the hurts of living so I manage to enjoy the paradox of non-belief and belief. Does that leave me teetering on the fence watching the debate with interest? You betcha!

Nancy said...

Great writing. You made your point very clearly. And for the most part, I agree. Our government needs to stay out of religion. Period. That being said, I consider myself very spiritual, although organized religion has always made me squirm.

Snowbrush said...

Rose, congratulations on being a published author.

Diana: "other peoples beliefs can affect the quality of living for others but so what! It's never going to change so just deal with it and get along."

But beliefs do change, sometimes radically and in a short amount of time. For example, civil rights for women and minorities. Simply trying to get along doesn't work for people who are oppressed because it implies an acceptance of oppression.

Diana: "Sometimes I get the feeling that you just like to stir the pot for lack of anything else to do"

NEVER, EVER do I write ANYTHING simply to be provocative. Although I sometimes express what some might consider provocative values, I go to pains to express myself with tact and diplomacy. Perhaps, I don't always do this as well as I would like, but I make a consistent and dedicated effort in that direction. I have ZERO desire to offend or alienate anyone.

Matawheeze: "My logical mind rejects religion, my heart craves consolation for the hurts of living..."

Me too, but when I'm at my strongest, I realize that the effort to accept in my heart that which I can't accept with my mind makes life harder rather than easier.

Nancy: "I consider myself very spiritual, although organized religion has always made me squirm."

Many of those who have commented have said the same thing, Nancy. Maybe we should get together and organize!

swan said...

Snowbrush... I think that I understand your question... but this is how I often am it may be a personal flaw... even in dreams and also in life I feel like a witness that I am not always here to engage what I see... Maybe the experiences affect me in ways I cannot see... I do not know. It seems to me that I feel just as "found" and just as "lost" as everyone else. I have no answers. The experiences or moments would probably be a better way to describe the moments mostly come up in my writing where I feel that I have a voice and can speak of it and am forced to assign some meaning due to language, art, etc.

rhymeswithplague said...

Snow, "anti-abortion fanatic" isn't my phrase, I was quoting (without quotation marks, unfortunately) Alex Clayton from the immediately previous comment. But the murderer was a fanatic, in the same sense that -- to cite a mundane example -- ardent followers of, say, the Colts or the Saints or the Vikings or the Jets are fanatics (fans for short). That is, extremists for the cause. The man is not a hero, though. More like a voice in the wilderness.

swan said...

Snowbrush, I would like to quote you on my blog and also put a link to your blog in my post... If you object please let me know and I will remove the quote.

Anonymous said...

I'm revising my previous comment because it seems to have evaporated into space:

After a life spent believing what I was told to believe, and being given biblical quotes in the midst of disasters (like a bandaid on a gunshot wound) I took control.

I read deeply on every subject connected with the bible and its origin only to learn what I had feared all along:

From the beginning, the few written words memorializing such SERIOUS "facts" were related by word of mouth from village to village. How many literate people were standing around, quill and parchment at the ready to accurately scribe the events? None. Sometimes when copies were obtained, they were laboriously and LITERALLY copied. Curves, straight lines, dots, repetitiously reconstructed without knowledge of the actual words.

As time passed, there were no more gaps between the words and it all needed to be separated in the retelling.

Erasmus was given a few texts that were considered appropriate by the pope, Henry XIII, John Colet, etc. and anything referring to females was trashed as being heresy.

"Straight from god's mouth to our ears" is a laughable thought.

If an event of such magnitude was actually being enacted, it would surely have been presented to the world as a whole, and not just to a small gathering with one language between them.

Now, centuries later, people are still hating and prioritizing how others should live all due to "who chose what" to be printed in the 1500s.


Of course, that's just my take on the subject.

nollyposh said...

We are in general a naive bunch here on Earth, of that i have no doubt (and you have given us many examples of this in your last two posts) but i think you should give us and yourself a little lea-way... Because ~We~ are, i believe, evolving as a people, albeit slowly and mistakes will, are and have been made in the name of religion... But ultimately i have faith that we all have an inner core of sameness that could rise us above our differences and past mistakes given half a chance... Religion is simply a way of us trying to find a pathway to this aim, a way of reaching out and of trying to understand ourselves and there are as many pathways as there are peoples... i do agree that forcing and enforcing one's opinions and beliefs on another is wrong but we all have a choice and the pathways many... i believe in the end the choices we make are the measure of us x

Snowbrush said...

Swan, please feel free to quote and link. I never mind being quoted just so long as I am credited on what I worked so hard to write.

Rhymes, thank you for your explanation, but I still don't get why the abortion doctor killer wouldn't be considered a hero to those who equate abortion with murder--or if not a hero, then at least a person whose action was to some degree commendable. In his mind, after all, he was taking one life in order to save countless other lives.

Dana, your previous comment wasn't lost, but since you thought it was, you reconstructed it, so I only allowed the reconstructed version. Yes, the process by which we got the Bible is certainly different from what I too was taught, which was that the writers were the same as the people credited with the writing, that they literally wrote it down around the time the events actually transpired, and that the history represented was entirely accurate.

Snowbrush said...

I want, now, to say a word about how much your comments mean to me. I'll tell you frankly; my life at the moment is filled with physical pain and disability. I had thought that my surgery in December would be a breeze compared to the eight months of suffering that followed the one in March. I was wrong. After a comparatively easy start, I hurt even more now than I did then. I used to try to get through the nights with either narcotics or heavy-duty sleeping pills; now I use maximum doses of both plus ice, and the pain is still overwhelming. I stay so exhausted that I sleep whenever I can, day or night, just to keep going. I have no social life. I go nowhere. I can do very little in the way of even light work.

In the midst of all this pain and unhappiness, I hear from you, and your thoughts stimulate my own thoughts in directions other than how much I hurt, and I need that diversion. I also read, conduct business on the Internet, and work on future posts. It's not much of a life, but it's not without its rewards either during this season of endless gray and rain. I just wanted to say thank you. Without you, my life would be much harder.

rhymeswithplague said...

Snow, not commendable (Thou shalt not kill, after all. But perhaps understandable. My mind can grasp the feeling, but cannot make the jump from feeling to action. It was a tragedy to all concerned.

Chandelle said...

Just popping in since you visited my blog. Very impressed with your writing! I appreciate the work of atheists commenting succinctly on the problems of religion. As for me, I'm ex-Mormon, don't see much use for religion, think it does more harm than good, pretty sure there are no gods, and comfortable with the idea of no afterlife.

I do participate with an unprogrammed Quaker group and they accept me as an atheist. I like the Quakers. They give me plenty of service opportunities in the community, and we just laugh with each other about religion. They never try to convince me of anything. I live in a small town so I appreciate the community.

I am a bit of a quiet atheist. I don't like to argue about religion; my partner's fanatically-religious family has made religion a very painful issue for all of us. So I appreciate when others say what I can't for the time being.

Snowbrush said...

Rhymes: "Snow, not commendable (Thou shalt not kill, after all)...

Given the numerous God-ordained genocides (of men, women, children, and even livestock) when the Jews overran the "Promised Land," I don't see how this commandment is necessarily applicable to the death of one abortion doctor or much of anyone else for that matter. My mind keeps going back to the thought that, if abortion is indeed murder, isn't it praiseworthy to stop a murderer by any means necessary? Think Fort Hood--what if someone had shot the killer as soon as he opened fire? I should think that person would be feted as a hero.

Chandelle: "...religion, think it does more harm than good..."

I too suspect as much.

Chandelle: "I do participate with an unprogrammed Quaker group and they accept me as an atheist."

Well, the programmed kind sure as hell wouldn't take you in. Here too, there are atheistic Quakers.

Chandelle: "we just laugh with each other about religion."

Then you are a bit of a rare duck in the group, I take it. I've been struck by the National Council of Churches' ads that boast about how accepting they are of hated minoriites. Well, their acceptance of you stops unless you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. The Quakers take acceptance all the way, and I admire them for that. All that they really require is that you do your best to live ethically and tolerantly.

Chandelle: "I am a bit of a quiet atheist."

It's mostly a waste of time to discuss religion, but I like to write about it from time to time as much to explore my own thoughts as anything. I also enjoy such dialogue as I stimulate, but did you know that 100% of fundamentalists say that no proof or argument whatsoever could dissuade them from their beliefs? This truly makes debating them meaningless.

rhymeswithplague said...

My experience with National Council of Churches types in the past is that they would throw up their hands in horror if you spoke of "accept[ing] Jesus as your Lord and Savior. That phrase sounds more like Baptist/Church of Christ/Pentecostal language, not Methodist/Lutheran/Episcopalian/etc.

What NCoC types were you referring to?

Snowbrush said...

Rhymes: "My experience with National Council of Churches types in the past is that they would throw up their hands in horror if you spoke of "accept[ing] Jesus as your Lord and Savior."

You're correct in that they don't require that exact language. However, they do require that, at the very least, you accept Jesus as your example and teacher if not your actual Savior. In other words, if you hold Buddha or Mohammed (for example) as superior to Jesus, you don't belong.

They're somewhat like the Freemasons. The Freemasons require a belief in God, but you can define God for yourself. Liberal Protestant churches expect you to have some kind of special relationship with Jesus, but it's up to you what that means. You wouldn't, I suppose, even have to believe that Jesus literally lived, but could simply see him as the supreme metaphor for Godliness. However he's defined, I wouldn't belong.

nollyposh said...

(Ps) Snow, Perhaps Chris is your nemesis? X;-)

nollyposh said...

Hey Snow, Did i eva tell ya i luv's ya and i too would miSS you if you suddenly disappeared, You keep me awake (and THAT's a good thing!) X:-)