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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Atheists: The Distrusted Minority (Page 3)

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Author Topic: Atheists: The Distrusted Minority
Rico
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quote:
Certainly morality is something that can exist outside of religion.
[Smile]

If more people saw things this way that article would have never been written.

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Glenn Arnold
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Albert Einstein Quotes:

"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

"I have never talked to a Jesuit prest in my life. I am astonished by the audacity to tell such lies about me. From the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist."

"I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from religious indoctrination received in youth."

"I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings."

"There is nothing divine about morality, it is a purely human affair."

"My position concerning God is that of an agnostic. I am convinced that a vivid consciousness of the primary importance of moral principles for the betterment and ennoblement of life does not need the idea of a law-giver, especially a law-giver who works on the basis of reward and punishment."

"I see only with deep regret that God punishes so many of His children for their numerous stupidities, for which only He Himself can be held responsible; in my opinion, only His nonexistence could excuse Him."

"...an attempt to find an out where there is no door." -- Einstein's description of conventional religious thought, from "Einstein: The Life and Times", by Ronald W. Clark

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theamazeeaz
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quote:
Certainly morality is something that can exist outside of religion.

[Smile]

If more people saw things this way that article would have never been written.

Many very moral atheists don't like to advertise the fact that they are atheists to other people (I feel online is a totally different story), because it's rude. I don't like to admit I am one, it's a personal thing, and not all my relatives would enjoy knowing that. So I bet that everyone on this board probably knows someone whom they respect and find to be a very moral person, but that person hasn't revealed to the Hatracker that they do not believe in any gods.
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King of Men
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Wait, what? Why is it rude to 'admit' you are an atheist?
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Tresopax
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I think the idea is that it is rude to tell people that you think their religion is wrong.

But if that were true then I'd have to wonder why it wouldn't be rude for anyone to admit to any religious beliefs whatsoever to anyone...

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Chungwa
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I've never thought it rude to tell people I'm an atheist, in the same way that I've never thought it was rude when people tell me they're a Christian.

If a discussion came up and I mentioned I was an atheist and someone told me it was rude to admit that, I'd probably chuckle and stop having a conversaion with that person.

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Tatiana
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Glenn Arnold, oops! I totally thought he was! He claimed God didn't play dice with the universe! [Smile]

Thanks for correcting me on that. The point I was making is unchanged, though. Many brilliant people have been religious, including Isaac Newton and many others. And many have been atheists and agnostics too.

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FlyingCow
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I've recently discovered I fall pretty well into the secular humanism category.

I don't see that as a religion, but more as a way of perceiving and addressing the world. I'm pretty firmly areligious, in that I don't have dogma, scripture or canon that I follow religiously.

Whether or not this makes me atheist or agnostic in the minds of others, I really don't care so much. Whether or not there is some sort of deity doesn't play into my daily life, so I don't concern myself with it, really.

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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
Glenn Arnold, oops! I totally thought he was! He claimed God didn't play dice with the universe!
And that is the lie he was talking about that was (and is still) systematically repeated. Yes he did make the statment, but it has been taken out of context and used as an appeal to authority: "Einstein is a genius and HE believes in God." In much that same way that lists of scientists are used to prop up intelligent design.

And since the lie is systematically repeated, lots of people don't realize that it's not true, so they also repeat it. There's no shame in that.

But as you can see, I keep those quotes handy, so that I can try to nip it in the bud and prevent it from spreading.

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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
I don't see that as a religion, but more as a way of perceiving and addressing the world. I'm pretty firmly areligious, in that I don't have dogma, scripture or canon that I follow religiously.
I'm not sure who came up with the idea of the "god shaped hole," but I think it's accurate, except that theists don't realize that the fact that the hole is "God shaped" is merely a coincidence. There are quite a wide variety of atheistic fillers. Secular humanism is one of them.
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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
Wait, what? Why is it rude to 'admit' you are an atheist?
Well, I wear an invisible pink unicorn pendant around my neck, but it's invisible after all, so most people don't notice.

It would be rude if I wore a visible pink unicorn, so I don't.

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Rohan
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Do you have a source on those Einstein quotes, so we can put them in context? Thanks.
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Icarus
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Those are some fairly detailed quotes--I'm not sure that the context would make any difference!
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Will B
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quote:
Originally posted by Sharpie:
Uh. If a person doesn't understand why Pepsi is better than Coke, then what use is it to even try to talk to that person? Some things are just TRUE.

You said the "P" word!
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Juxtapose
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quote:
Wait, what? Why is it rude to 'admit' you are an atheist?
I can't speak for others, but I sometimes dodge the question, not in fear of being rude, but a desire to avoid an akward situation. Sometimes, I'm just not into a mood to get into a religious argument and I can tell that that's where the conversation will end up going. Of course, sometimes I am in the mood, but enough of these situations have ended poorly that it makes me wary of face-to-face religious conversation.

But rude? That's a new one to me. It's no more rude than it is for a Jewish person to speak about God to a Christian.

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Rohan
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I was trying to politely say "I'd like to verify those quotes for myself, not because I don't believe you, but because I am a natural skeptic." He refuted one myth about Einstein with a bunch of unattributed quotes, so I wondered where he got them, that's all.
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Celaeno
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quote:
Originally posted by Juxtapose:
quote:
Wait, what? Why is it rude to 'admit' you are an atheist?
I can't speak for others, but I sometimes dodge the question, not in fear of being rude, but a desire to avoid an akward situation. Sometimes, I'm just not into a mood to get into a religious argument and I can tell that that's where the conversation will end up going. Of course, sometimes I am in the mood, but enough of these situations have ended poorly that it makes me wary of face-to-face religious conversation.

But rude? That's a new one to me. It's no more rude than it is for a Jewish person to speak about God to a Christian.

Ditto. I tend to avoid the religion discussion until I know someone very well. And even then, I usually wait for the topic to surface, rather than bring it up myself. I know that atheism makes a lot of people uncomfortable. There have been a few times when people (friends, even) thought that my being an atheist meant that I thought they were dumb for having their beliefs. That couldn't be further frm the truth.

But you can see why I don't like having that conversation with people I hardly know.

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Squish
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quote:
But you can see why I don't like having that conversation with people I hardly know.
The strange thing is, I'm really only comfortable having the religious conversation with people whom I feel close to and respect...OR with people whom I feel I have almost no chance of respecting. Like the "reverend" who comes to my school to call us sinners and yell at passing coeds to get back in the kitchen.

It's kind of like how really good movies are...really good. But then really BAD movies can be really good in a "they're fun to watch because they're so bad that you can see the actors reading the cue cards" way. Or in a "Look at that! When I slo-mo the movie you can see that her 'arm' came off BEFORE the mutant snowman bit it," kind of way.

Maybe that wasn't the best analogy...

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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by theamazeeaz:
Many very moral atheists don't like to advertise the fact that they are atheists to other people (I feel online is a totally different story), because it's rude.

Huh? How is it rude?
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Will B
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When I was in college, at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship an Iranian visited. He introduced himself to the group: "I am Farhad, and I am not a Christian." We all respected him for it.
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Icarus
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quote:
Originally posted by Celaeno:
There have been a few times when people (friends, even) thought that my being an atheist meant that I thought they were dumb for having their beliefs. That couldn't be further frm the truth.

But you can see why I don't like having that conversation with people I hardly know.

I can see how that must be uncomfortable. In all fairness, there are some atheists like that--even on this board. No doubt they are a minority, but I can see how that would make Christians or other theists who have encountered them likely to expect ridicule from all atheists--especially if the only vocal ones are the rude ones--and, in turn, polite atheists a bit gun shy. [Frown]
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Tatiana
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Glenn Arnold, I never thought Einstein was appealing to religious authority as a way to trump scientific evidence, of course! I can see why he would be appalled if his words were taken that way.

But what I think he was saying was that he had a deep basic "feel" for how the universe must work (something that all good physicists have), a feeling akin to the mathematician's sense of elegance or mathematical beauty that puts them onto the scent of a new important proof or line of inquiry. I gathered Einstein was saying that the probabilistic explanation being given for the results of experiments in quantum electrodynamics violated his deepest sense of what felt true and right. So he said this very succinctly as "God does not play dice with the universe".

This is very much a scientific thing, because it's what's going on at the border of where science meets the unknown. The things that guide our exploration into the vast realms of our ignorance are just such nebulous, irrational, and unexplained forces of the mind as these. Science tells us how to test our theories against nature. It doesn't tell us where to go to find the right new theories to test, or where those come from. Einstein used the metaphor of God to describe these nebulous things. That's exactly what I, as a religious person, would do, except I would also mean God literally. [Smile]

As a religious person, I happen to think God (the personal God) is involved somehow in all these vague processes. Up to now I had thought Einstein thought the same thing. There's no contradiction between being an excellent scientist and a believer, contrary to what some atheistic scientists seem to think. In fact, all good scientists recognize the very same phenomena as religious people, and feel the same awe we feel. They just don't call it God. They don't focus on these things or study them because they're outside the domain of science.

I'm all for scientists studying science. Everything true is part of my religion. We need to know everything about everything in order to progress, and science is an incredibly powerful tool that has catapulted the human species levels and levels ahead of where we were.

Sometimes, as in the case of Richard Feynman, I think it may even be helpful for scientists to be atheists. They are in love with science, and dedicate their lives to finding things out. To them science becomes the thing of supreme importance. They don't even care why we have to know the truth about things. It's not even about doing good or benefiting society or anything like that. They just have to know. [Smile] I understand that impulse. It's just for the sake of knowing.

If they got all caught up in the fervor of religion, it might detract somehow from their fervor for science. Or maybe it's just that the awe and joy they find in science satisfies them enough that they never feel an urge to look deeper. God has impersonal as well as personal aspects, and they rejoice in the impersonal ones, and find fulfillment there. In any case, atheists may be wonderful, delightful, humble, brilliant, (and highly moral) people who contribute great things to humanity as a whole, and who have a whole lot of fun doing it. I have great admiration for quite a number of atheists.

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Tatiana
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I also think it's cool that these sure feelings we have (as scientists or as believers) of what absolutely positively must be right, aren't at all infallible.

I think most everyone in science now would say that Einstein was mistaken about God's dice games. [Smile]

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King of Men
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Well, there are still some hidden-variable theories around, skulking in back alleys. The problem is that they have to be non-local, what Einstein referred to as 'spooky action at a distance', so they tend to be ignored.
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Advent 115
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YES!!! Finally we Atheists get some recognition!

And I take offence, we are not a minority anymore. We're a Faction. [Wink]

I'm kidding, but the truth is that the longer the wait gets for all these religions saviours to arrive the more our numbers grow.

So I am glad to be amongst those who are the least trusted, because in the end we'll be right. [Razz]

EDIT: edited for typing my idea's when I should just shut up

[ March 27, 2006, 01:07 AM: Message edited by: Advent 115 ]

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Leonide
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that's a really annoying, snotty thing to say, Advent.
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King of Men
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Having read the original post, I don't see what was so annoying about it, apart from the atorcious spelling.
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Icarus
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Having read the original post, I don't see what was so annoying about it, apart from the atorcious spelling.

Deliberate irony?
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Leonide
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I don't care about you sharing your ideas, Advent. Most of your post i didn't have a problem with.

I was responding to this sentence:
quote:
So I am glad to be amongst those who are the least trusted, because in the end we'll be right.

in particular.

Whether meant with a wink and nudge or not, it came across as snotty.

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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Icarus:
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Having read the original post, I don't see what was so annoying about it, apart from the atorcious spelling.

Deliberate irony?
<grin>
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Kama
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isn't that a law?

every post pointing out a spelling mistake contains another spelling mistake.

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Tresopax
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quote:
So I am glad to be amongst those who are the least trusted, because in the end we'll be right.
The trouble with atheism is that being right in the end really isn't a good thing...
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Will B
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Anbyody who misspells words in an online foram should be flamed insessently. Whatever points the poster might be making can be ingored.
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rivka
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That post makes my brain bleed.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
isn't that a law?
Davidson's Law, in fact. [Smile]
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TheGrimace
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Is that like the next-door-neighbor to Murphey's Law?
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TomDavidson
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No. It's closer to Godwin's.
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kmbboots
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There is a passage in "The Silver Chair" in the Narnia Chronicles I am trying to remember. When the witch has Puddleglum? and Jill and Eustace trapped underground and she is drugging them with smoke, she has them almost convinced that they just imagined Narnia and the world above ground. That the sun was just a lamp and Aslan just a cat that their imaginations had made bigger. One them (Puddleglum? I think) says that it was a funny thing that the made-up world was so much better than the reality and that he would rather live as a Narnian even if Narnia didn't exist.
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TomDavidson
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Yep. That's one of those times when Lewis pulls out his big Allegory Stick and gets to thumpin'. Of course, we don't get to see the scene where Puddleglum describes the world he'd REALLY rather live in, in which he's Supreme and Only Somewhat Melancholy Ruler of a planet made entirely out of spongecake, but that's because the publisher could only fit so many pages in.
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Scott R
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That's probably the one portion of the CoN that I did a double take and thought, "No, I don't agree AT ALL. I'd much rather know the truth and act it than pretend."
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kmbboots
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Not me. Guess I'm just a Shavian Idealist at heart. But at least I know it!
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Boothby171
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About the whole "I don't believe in God" vs. "I believe that there is no 'God' " thing.

Let's say that you totally believe in God. I, on the other hand, am an atheist. If I should say that "I don't believe in God," then from your point of view, I am admitting ignorance. "Of course God exists," you think, "it's just that Steve doesn't believe in Him. Steve is (of course), wrong."

Meanwhile, what I mean to say is that I firmly believe that the thing you (and all other religious people) describe as or think of as God does not exist. In other words, I think that you're wrong.

That's also why proclaiming atheism in a country that is strongly and now in many areas almost "fundamentally" religious can be seen as being rude.


And regarding my earlier statement about atheists having to think about morality more: IN GENERAL, we do. Sure, there will be some religious people who think it through, but I would bet that far more of them get their morality from their preacher/pastor/whatever. Atheists have no such benefits available to them. If you're an atheist (well, at least my kind of atheist, you are so because you've thought your way there (including, perhaps, from agnosticism). It's a positive choice. It's not some catechism that's been drilled into you since you were a kid.

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Boothby171
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Treso,

quote:
quote:
So I am glad to be amongst those who are the least trusted, because in the end we'll be right.
The trouble with atheism is that being right in the end really isn't a good thing...
Well, it may not be a good thing, but I believe it is the only thing.

I'd hate to be a celibate monk, holed away in some crumbling monastery somewhere, beating myself with flails and nailed boards and walking on rough stone floors on my knees, only to be proven wrong...

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Chungwa
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So would it also be rude of me to "admit" I'm a liberal?
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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
So I am glad to be amongst those who are the least trusted, because in the end we'll be right.
The trouble with atheism is that being right in the end really isn't a good thing...
It most certainly is, considering the bloodthirsty, vengeance-prone gods that most people believe in. Personally, I much prefer to live in a universe that has no eternal punishment. The kind of hell that most kind, loving Christians talk about, I wouldn't inflict on Hitler.
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Boothby171:

I'd hate to be a celibate monk, holed away in some crumbling monastery somewhere, beating myself with flails and nailed boards and walking on rough stone floors on my knees, only to be proven wrong... [/QB]

And I would hate to have denied myself the joy of knowing that God created the world and God created it good and the God loves me, only to be proven wrong...

I guess it comes down to the effect that religion has in your life. Does it make it better? I take very seriously the scripture where Jesus says that he came so that they (we) could have life and have it abundantly. Does your religion make your life more abundant or less? Is athesism a release from a religion that was making your life less abundant? I know that for some people it is.

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kmbboots
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KoM,

Once again, I apologize for the kind of religion you have had inflicted on you.

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Telperion the Silver
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Sorry... a little late to the topic.
Here's my two cents.

Why would people distrust atheists?? That's like saying you distrust scientists or philosophy professors (the fast majority of whom are atheist/agnostic from my experience). Yes, let us gleefully abandon science and civilization for the glorious dark ages and religious ignorance. Bah.

I'm agnostic and dislike conflict, but stuff like this makes me want to be militant against religion.

I would rather, for the sake of law and order, have the uneducated and poor as believers...that way they remain civilized, even if they don't respect/understand the ideals of being nice to your fellow man. Often without some form of social control the uneducated and needy become barbarians.

But hey, just look at any US inner city... many of them claim to be religious, but that doesn't stop them from robbing, killing, raping. Actually, gangsters/hoodlums don't give a flying frack about religion...if they did they might calm down a little.

But at the same time we have another danger...a perfect example is the Arab world which is stuck in the Dark Ages. No wealth, no educaction, no hope. Only religion as a way out and sometimes as the only form of political expression. But that gives the Muslim priests/clerics HUGE power, and they are not afraid to use it to prop up their institution. Religion is more often then not used for political gain over the followers of that religion. Religion keeps mankind enslaved...devoid of free thought and invention.

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King of Men
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kmbboots, I seem to recall you are some stripe of Christian. Do you believe, then, in a literal, ever-lasting hell?
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kmbboots
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Not the way you are thinking, no. I beleive that "hell" is separation from God. By which I mean separation from all that is good, loving, creative, etc. whether you call that "God" or not. I don't belive that God ever chooses that for us, but that we can choose it for ourselves either in this life or in the life to come. Nor do I believe that we are stuck with whatever we are choosing at the moment of death.

This is not an unusual belief for Catholics.

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