Beware Advice

atheism-17I remember last year when I was trying to decide to stay in England or come home. There were good reasons to stay there, the chief one being the NHS (National Health Service). I had peace of mind about my illnesses and never worried about paying for doctor or hospital bills. I paid my taxes like everyone else and never once begrudged the fact that others were helped too. We were all helping each other.

Another factor in my decision was the fact that I was farther away from my kids. I wanted to be able to see them more often than once a year. My religious nut sister made a show of how I should come home and I’d be happier, blah, blah… But you know what, since I’ve been here she’s hardly called or come over or talked to me. Her advice only fit into her fantasy world. She only wanted me back because of her “patriotic” belief that America was better than any other country and I’d be better off here even if people die from not being able to afford care. She’s the most selfish person I’ve ever met.

No, my stay in England was invaluable. It showed me that there were people who did not mind if others were helped with “their” money, although once they are taxes they aren’t your money any longer. Sure there were “patriotic” idiots in England who wanted all immigrants to stay away and keep England “pure”, but every country has those. No, her blinders were religious in nature and explains Trump supporters: religious fanatics who scream about Shariah courts yet want our court system to be taken over by religious nuts like them. They want our Supreme Court riddled with rapists like Kavanaugh. These American religious idiots spew filth about immigrant caravans, forgetting that we all came from an immigrant caravan that imposed itself upon the people who inhabited this land before we did. They attend flat earth conferences (my sister) and believe no one gets shot or dies from mass shootings (my sister) because they spend inordinate amounts of time setting it all up to fool people. In other words; these people are mentally ill and incompetent. Again, my sister.

So I don’t believe we can extend a hand to try to understand such mania. That is a supreme waste of time and energy. All we can do is combat them by using laws against religious hate speech such as theirs. You see, they WANT violence. It feeds their persecution complex and “proves” they are right about how the world is getting worse and worse. They desire Apocalypse almost erotically. It literally gets them off to believe there will be a final battle to end all battles and they will work to that end. Our electoral system is fucked, which is why Trump got elected, but I see no change coming concerning that in the near future.

So beware advice from family members, especially religious ones. They do NOT have your best interests at heart. They have their own agendas and it doesn’t include your health or happiness.

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What Used to Be

Budapest Opera HouseI used to be a woman of faith. After a spiritual experience in 1983, I began going to church and the rest  I’ve written about extensively on this blog. Since then I’ve given up my religiosity and my beliefs in certain dogma.  I no longer go to church per se, although I’ve been going to the Quaker meeting house with my husband for a few years now.

I still cling to some notions about Christianity, but the one thing I don’t believe in any longer is prayer.  By prayer I mean an action the believer takes to attempt to move the Maker into changing the Laws of Nature or the minds of other people to affect an outcome.  Now, I believe in meditation and silence and prayer in the sense that it helps the person praying, but I don’t believe that some Divine Being is listening to our prayers and deciding to rearrange the universe to answer them.

What made me realize this is that in times past, my first inclination when faced with bad news is to pray for the a positive outcome that happened to suit me at all times. Now, faced with my husband’s cancer diagnosis, I realize that no amount of praying will change the news of how large or small this tumor is. It just is. It’s been there unknowingly and will continue to be there no matter what I believe in my mind about it. No amount of prayer will affect that. No one will hear this prayer but me.  I don’t mean to say that prayer is not good, but I believe it’s only good for the one doing the praying. It acts as a meditative tool to calm one’s nerve, bolster one’s resolve, and to give someone the much-needed cool-down time before doing or saying something rash.

The reasons I came to this conclusion is by observing the world around me.  Despite a prayer force of billions of people in the world, we still have death, famine, abuse, rape, murder, cancer, wars, and all the evils that man can devise. Despite faith in a Divine Being we still have those idiots who believe that God wants the deaths of everyone who doesn’t believe the way they do. Despite billions of the faithful praying daily we see no discernible difference in the outcomes of cancer deaths or salvation from it by miraculous means. No, I have faith in medicine and science to find the cures for most ills before I have faith in prayer.

Now I know all the arguments for and against such things, but this has come from years of experience and it hasn’t come lightly. I’ve struggled mightily to keep an innocent faith in God, Jesus, and prayer, but at some point I had to face the cruel facts of reality. So, as I face the cruel facts of an uncertain future with a cancer diagnosis, I will face it with prayer like I always do, but I have no expectation that the cancer will disappear. I don’t believe it’s some kind of test or sent by God to make me more faithful. How awful to believe such things! I am of the idea that we will do everything available to us to stop it or at least slow it down. I have every expectation that prayer will make me calmer and able to face it. I suppose that makes me the double-minded man in the book of James, doesn’t it? Ah well, better that than be in denial about the cruelties of nature.

Are Religious Scriptures “Hate Speech?”

The Westboro Baptist Church picketing at the m...

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According to Wikipedia hate speech is defined as:

In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. The law may identify a protected individual or a protected group by race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, or other characteristic.[3] In some countries, a victim of hate speech may seek redress under civil law, criminal law, or both.

Over at Anne Rice’s Facebook page there is discussion about hate speech and homosexuality. Many are claiming the christian bible as their authority to call out homosexuality as sinful behavior. They have every right to label something sinful if they want. That’s their choice. However, one person’s comment struck me however when they said that the bible itself was hate speech. Hmm. I tend to agree that bible could be construed as hate speech. So can the Koran and other scriptures that advocate killing due to behavior or ethnicity. The Hebrew god condoned killing when “he” moved the tribes of Israel around and demanded others move out to accommodate them. The Muslim god condones killing those who don’t believe in their religion. This falls under the category of inciting violence against a protected group. So I believe both of their scriptures can be construed as hate speech if they are taken literally as guides for modern life. In fact, I think anyone inciting violence using religion and their scriptures as a prop for supporting such violence should be prosecuted for hate crimes. Let’s just call it for what it is and be done with it. You can claim something as sin all you want as long as you keep it to yourself. If your religion is peaceful you have nothing to fear.

Quote of the Day

Ludwig Feuerbach's The Essence of Christianity...

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God, I have said, is the fulfiller, or the reality, of the human desires for happiness, perfection, and immortality. From this it may be inferred that to deprive man of God is to tear the heart out of his breast. But I contest the premises from which religion and theology deduce the necessity and existence of God, or of immortality, which is the same thing. I maintain that desires which are fulfilled only in the imagination, or from which the existence of an imaginary being is deduced, are imaginary desires, and not the real desires of the human heart; I maintain that the limitations which the religious imagination annuls in the idea of God or immortality, are necessary determinations of the human essence, which cannot be dissociated from it, and therefore no limitations at all, except precisely in man’s imagination….

Man has many wishes that he does not really wish to fulfil, and it would be a misunderstanding to suppose the contrary. He wants them to remain wishes, they have value only in his imagination; their fulfilment would be a bitter disappointment to him. Such a desire is the desire for eternal life. If it were fulfilled, man would become thoroughly sick of living eternally, and yearn for death. In reality man wishes merely to avoid a premature, violent or gruesome death. Everything has its measure, says a pagan philosopher; in the end we weary of everything, even of life; a time comes when man desires death.

Ludwig Feuerbach, Lectures on the Essence of Religion

Quitting Christianity a la Anne Rice: a Manifesto of sorts

Anne Rice

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I’ve gotten angry with religion quite often lately. Like being part of a nation or state which also angers you because of their stupid policies and marginalizing of certain groups, finding your religion consistently betraying its preached principles is very disheartening. And although I’ve claimed atheism at various times in my life, I can never willfully give up that part of me that convinces me personally through experience a belief in a Divine Will that operates in/throughout/above/below the Universe. Many times I throw my hands up in despair and say, “No more of this bullshit for me!” Yet, I always come back.

Anne Rice has gotten a lot of flack lately for quitting Christianity. Some say that quitting Christianity is not possible. I would agree with the semantics of that. If you believe Christianity is an institution, you can quit it. There are differing definitions of “church” although I believe the church is made up of Christians no matter where they are. Others are in agreement with her and have come out of their religious institutions as well. We all agree that the polarization Christians (and all religions) cause when they insist on following this or that dogma, tenet, doctrine, or “prophetic” saying are the prime motive for our coming out. On her Facebook page, Rice has posted the various responses and there are so many that I can’t single out just one. However, I can say that I agree with her 100%.

When I became a Christian, I was not evangelized nor did I “come forward” in an alter call at a church. I had my own experience of Jesus and “God” on my own time and in my own way through personal prayer and from reading parts of the new testament. The Divine manifested itself to me in terms I could understand. It just happened to be in Jesus’ form. My first mistake after this experience was searching out a church where I could meet with fellow believers and connect with others and perhaps compare notes about our experiences. That would have been great, had it stopped right there. Unfortunately, becoming part of a community such as that seems to imply that others can become your moral compass and tell you what you can and cannot do and what you can and cannot believe. This got me wondering what the church is for then. Is it primarily a place where others can compare experiences or is it a club where only those who pay the right amount or who follow all the rules others laid down for us by others, away from the secular world and all its contaminates? Is it supposed to welcome all who wish to come to it or is it primarily set up to exclude? You will find as many explanations as there are religious sects, so nothing can be decided either way. What’s left is the kind of individualism that Rice espouses and that church leaders so despise. It is fundamentally a lack of faith in people to do the right thing at the right time and for the right reasons. I think it’s time we grow up from that.

Church leaders argue that Jesus set up these rules, but of course there is no evidence of this. The bible cannot even be counted on to accurately record the words of Jesus or to set down the history of the church without those, who happened to win the power play of sects back then, redacting those portions that came down to us ahead of time.  The one thing that convinces me that religions as practiced in the world are not absolute truth is due to the confusing witness provided by the varied sects, churches, religions, and practices throughout the world. None are in agreement. If such dogmas were ABSOLUTE TRUTH, there would be consensus about these issues and there is not. Individualism is the only answer here. Actions such as peace, simplicity, and love are its evidence. What I think these so-called leaders fear most is being out of a job! Do they not think that a Divine Will can’t accomplish what it wants with or without us?

My individualism imposes no belief on anyone. My individualism does the most good and spends my money where I see fit. I don’t funnel funds through the church and expect it will go where I want it to go. I send it directly. I don’t evangelize nor do I believe every believer called to do that. This thinking is only an institutional tool to garner the most numbers. In this day and age, it isn’t necessary to evangelize. The information is out there. It’s up to the Divine to speak, not me.  Much like the Religious Society of Friends, I believe in the Light that is in every person. This is the Light of God and it has to be trusted that whoever or whatever Divine Will is accomplishing in the world, what is accomplished is what is meant to be accomplished. The church as a traditional institution has done irreparable harm in the world by not trusting this concept. They believe “truth” is funneled through authority and hierarchy. Judaism and Islam share in the harm done and in believing in imams, priests, prophets, or “special” people. The “big three” have a lot to answer for and I’m not going to blindly follow the herd and say “They told me to” because they claim authority over me. My only authority is my conscience informed by my spirit, however that comes to me (brain, soul, outside me, whatever), through a community I choose, if I choose, and through information garnered from experts in other fields; scientific, religious, or otherwise. Therefore, I will stand or fall on my own decisions, no one else’s.

Atheists and Theists Will Never Agree

One thing I know for sure is that atheists and theists will never agree nor will they ever agree to disagree. I believe that if I bet on this, 50 years from now, I will have one the bet.  Greta Christina has a great argument about why feeling God is real is not a real argument for believing God is real. She’s right, it can’t be the sole evidence for one’s faith. There should be other evidence; like the testimonies of millions of people who believe, those who claim to be healed or have had visions, etc.  However there are also reasons why I would never live my life at the level of sight verification that she does.  Take her story about the zebra:

If I saw a zebra in front of my house, I would want to test that perception before assuming that it was correct. I’d ask other people in my neighborhood if they’d seen a zebra. I’d call the zoo and ask if any of their zebras had escaped. I’d call the newspaper, and ask if they’d heard any other reports of zebra sightings. I’d post on Facebook, ditto. I’d check for zebra droppings.And if none of these inquiries confirmed my sighting of a zebra, I would conclude that I almost certainly hadn’t seen a zebra after all. I’d conclude that I was sleep deprived, or that it had been an optical illusion, or that some neighborhood prankster had painted a horse to look like a zebra.

Really? You’d really go through all those steps before you would admit there is a zebra in your yard? Why would you doubt your own senses?  Maybe the zebra didn’t come from the zoo. Maybe no one was home in your neighborhood when you saw it. Perhaps the zebra didn’t poop in your yard. You wouldn’t believe your own eyes? Well here I must say that I would. In fact sight is what I would believe first. You can’t say you didn’t see it even if it was a mind trick. She wants to rationally use her mind to test things in one breath and then doubt her mind when she sees or experiences something the next. Question: when CAN you trust your own mind, if at all? Her argument is like the fundamentalist who says you should never trust your own mind but only the bible. Same argument, different mistrust.

But even if this was a good example of testing every hypothesis which I don’t believe it is, I stand by my assertion; atheists and theists will never agree, nor will they ever agree to disagree. Why? Because each side is convinced of its “rightness.” Each have valid arguments yet neither will admit the other has valid arguments.  Each will continue to make fun of the other side and their purveyors and to what end? Our premises will forever be at odds. And at some point, each of us makes a choice. Greta’s made a choice and believers have made choices. The problem comes in when we try to convince others of our rightness. Why do we do this? Let’s just say we remain unconvinced and move on. Stop trying to convert each other to score points “for the team.” Living peacefully together is more important.  As long as laws are in place where government does not coerce belief or condone religion we can do this.