Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Topic du Jour Deux

For a less controversial topic than whether or not America should celebrate culture by elevating one person a year to prominence for their efforts, I'll point you to the following, which cheered my agnostic heart to no end:
The advertisement on the bus was fairly mild, just a passage from the Bible and the address of a Christian Web site. But when Ariane Sherine, a comedy writer, looked on the Web site in June, she was startled to learn that she and her nonbelieving friends were headed straight to hell, to “spend all eternity in torment.”

That’s a bit extreme, she thought, as well as hard to prove. “If I wanted to run a bus ad saying ‘Beware — there is a giant lion from London Zoo on the loose!’ or ‘The “bits” in orange juice aren’t orange but plastic — don’t drink them or you’ll die!’ I think I might be asked to show my working and back up my claims,” Ms. Sherine wrote in a commentary on the Web site of The Guardian.

And then she thought, how about putting some atheist messages on the bus, as a corrective to the religious ones?

And so were planted the seeds of the Atheist Bus Campaign, an effort to disseminate a godless message to the greater public. When the organizers announced the effort in October, they said they hoped to raise a modest $8,000 or so.

But something seized people’s imagination. Supported by the scientist and author Richard Dawkins, the philosopher A. C. Grayling and the British Humanist Association, among others, the campaign raised nearly $150,000 in four days. Now it has more than $200,000, and on Tuesday it unveiled its advertisements on 800 buses across Britain.

“There’s probably no God,” the advertisements say. “Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

Spotting one of the buses on display at a news conference in Kensington, passers-by were struck by the unusual message.

Not always positively. “I think it’s dreadful,” said Sandra Lafaire, 76, a tourist from Los Angeles, who said she believed in God and still enjoyed her life, thank you very much. “Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I don’t like it in my face.”
Read the rest...after years of feeling oppressed by a culture fueled by an administration that talked the talk, but hardly walked the walk with regards to believing in God, I find it remarkably refreshing that in England and now elsewhere* folks are openly debating whether or not God exists with a hearty freedom.
*Inspired by the London campaign, the American Humanist Association started running bus advertisements in Washington in November, with a more muted message. “Why believe in a god?” the ads read, over a picture of a man in a Santa suit. “Just be good for goodness’ sake.”
I'll be honest...I'm unconvinced that God exists. None of the feeble attempts to use logic ("there must be a God, look at the 'miracle' of life...look at how complex the human circulatory system or the brain or whatever is) or romance ("look at that sunset and tell me there's no god") or coercion ("One nation, under God...") have ever truly made me believe. So STOP using them! Alright already?

As with the gay community, until atheists boldly come out of the closet in this country, little-minded people will continue to project all sorts of heinous behaviors and beliefs upon them. The atheists friends I have count among the most decent and truly good people I know. The only differences between them and some of the decent religious people I know in terms of behavior are arbitrarily adhered to ritualistic practices. Not exactly the stuff of persuasion one way or the other.

As for me, I am agnostic only because I like to hedge my bets...not because I've seen anything that has utterly convinced me God exists. I've seen plenty to suggest others who claim to believe in God are willing to insult Him or ignore Him on a daily basis, though. I've also met people who believe in God who are so lovely and kind and generous (exceptionally so) that I figure if religion is what it takes to produce such a humanity in some people, so be it...let 'em practice the re-enforcing rituals.

None of which means anything within the debate as to whether it's OK for a religious group to shove in others' faces that they believe nonbelievers are headed straight to hell but it's not OK for atheists to point out humorously that that assertion is impossible to prove. In this particular battle, I'm ever so more comfortable siding with the atheists.

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47 Comments:

Blogger christian said...

When I was in Berlin a couple of years ago I was greatly amused and impressed by what I saw on the subway.

There was an ad by [I think] an electric company 'explaining' why they needed to build a plant in a particular place.
A group, obviously opposed to the building of the plant, had gone around and placed neatly designed and printed 'counter ads' next to the original ads.

Another 'guerrilla action' that amused me was graffiti on walls of houses in Kreuzberg which said "Clean Walls = Higher Rent."

1/07/2009 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Cat Rocketship said...

As you said, atheists continue to have heinous behaviors projected onto them, but now I wonder about the believers.

At a raucous New Year's Eve party last week I got into a discussion with some religious friends. They seemed awed that atheists have the fortitude to be "good", without a god watching over them. And that kind of scared me. What does that mean about my friends? Are they only good because of Jesus? What happens if they have a crisis of faith? If they haven't developed an inner scale of morality and decision tree based on a lifetime of experiences and not simply on the rules they were handed, will they choose to be good? The idea seemed to scare them as well. They freely admitted that Jesus was their reason for being good and that acting morally without his presence seemed difficult.

1/07/2009 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Fleming said...

I have to agree with Cat--in many ways one could argue that atheists are *more* moral, because they adhere to being "good" not because of a fear of retribution or hell but simply because their inner compass guides them to behave in such a manner. I hover somewhere between being an atheist and agnostic, and I'd like to think I've lived just as moral a life as my religious friends (who are lovely people, by the way).

I've also always espoused the notion that you can believe (or not believe) in what you will, just don't try to tell others that they have to think the same way you do. Which I have to say is often what gets me about people who try to convert others--why can't they simply practice their religion without trying to get everyone else to do the same? Why are people so threatened by those of us who don't believe in God, or at least question his/her existence?

And it does seem hypocritical to tell someone they're going to burn in hell but then be offended when that person turns around and challenges the idea of God

Thanks for the post.

1/07/2009 01:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Do it Again said...

without having to hedge bets on one big thing because like I mentioned, it's all already out there and there aren't anymore rules to be broken.

1/07/2009 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Just to clarify an often confused point:

Agnostic means "without knowledge."

An atheist does not believe in the existence of God. Some atheists would acknowledge that despite their disbelief in God, they are not equipped with any scientific evidence proving or disproving His existence. Therefore, one can be an agnostic atheist (as I would classify myself).

On the other hand, I've met otherwise rational theists, who believe in God but recognize that they don't have any actual knowledge to assert His existence beyond their belief. A person such as this could be considered an agnostic theist.

Conclusion: Being agnostic about something does not preclude belief or disbelief in that very thing.

1/07/2009 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Agnostic means "without knowledge."

I'm not sure if this is more or less what you're clarifying, but I've always used "agnostic" in this context to mean "without certainty." Is there a difference?

1/07/2009 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

GOD is a Wiki

1/07/2009 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

"Without knowledge" is a literal translation of the word agnostic, from the Greek root of the word. Edward, I use the word the same way as you: to mean without certainty. Which makes sense, since if you don't "know" something, you can't be "certain" of it. Although there probably is some semantic difference between knowing and certainty.

1/07/2009 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

The question shouldn’t be: “is there a God” but, just as with the Devil, what's your definition of God.

1/07/2009 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger Bromo Ivory said...

I think the free exchange of ideas is terribly important to have a healthy and vibrant culture - and religious ideas are no different.

As long as it is not physically violent, I can't see the problem.

1/07/2009 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger Christopher/Mark said...

Question: So you are saying that when you die, that's it?

Gore Vidal: "NO, I'm really saying, " When you're born, that's it"


People imagined god(s), and now we should have developed enough to see that they were all imagined.

But I guess that won't fit on a bus.

1/07/2009 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger Molly Stevens said...

I'm not theistic at all. But I think it's smug to say "there is no god." It's pretty much narrow minded, perhaps even arrogant.

And yet Jesus talk completely confuses me (to say the least).

I just wish the religion debate focused more on the spiritual.

1/07/2009 06:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off, a true Christian does not fear hell. So that is not the reason to be devoted to Christ. I find it amusing that people chuckle at this, but the same people would be in an uproar if it said, "Allah probably wants your head" or "Muhammad was just a man". Americans are funny about that. They will put down their largest religious base, but if someone pokes fun at another religion there is (no pun intended) hell to pay.

1/07/2009 06:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Did you hear about the dyslexic agnostic insomniac? She used to lie awake at night wondering if there was a Dog.

Sorry, continue.

1/07/2009 07:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will the real God please stand up!
I think it was clarified back in 1958.
The real god is God no.3
Which totally threw me off. The God I had been talking with for years always went under the non-de-plume Three and a Bit.
I phoned. God picked up and said he was 3 alright, but kind of liked the bit on the side.
I nodded, I don't doubt that.

c.p.

1/07/2009 08:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God, voodoo, chicken blood, whatever.

Have you heard about this cannibal cult? Their leader is a dead guy and the followers eat a little piece of his body and drink a little sip of his blood every week. Some of them will privately admit that they don't believe they are actually eating his flesh, but they go along with it. There are all kinds of strict do's and don'ts and superstitions and apparently there are offshoots in many areas of the world. Strange what you can get people to fall for.

Oriane Stender

(And Ed, if you couldn't tell, I'm officially out of the aforementioned closet.)

1/07/2009 09:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

The important word in the second bus sentance is the word "Maybe".

I wish religious people would realize that when they
speak about the bible and hell, they actually mean "Maybe this book is the truth. Maybe there is a hell". But everyone acts as if they are convinced God talked
to their own selves.

I mean...I talk to God every day, but I'm not convinced I doesn't suffer from some form of Paranoia and Schizophrenia or any other mental diseases that might
be at the source of every religious beliefs. Lol !



Cedric


"God is your dog, and Satan is a friend of mine" (lyrics from a tune I wrote ages ago)

1/07/2009 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger Henry Bateman said...

I have some friends who believe in God and for all that they seem to be normal well adjusted people except for the invisible friend bit.

1/07/2009 11:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

If people can conceive of a godly justice and there is no god, than this expression of godly justice is God. A best possible world that we have imagined. Would such a God
embrace or condemn the behaviours of each participant here? This is the question. What can you morally reproach to yourself? And what part of your morals are you letting go out of your belief that there is no God from what part that you keep because of your idealism?

To put it another way: what would be your idea of a fair God? What would that God do or not do? Are you doing anything in your life that is going toward that direction?


If you don't do crimes out of a fear of God, than where is your moral limit? Would you kill your own children? Can actions be unfair to communal human life even without a God? Don't you somewhere how your intelligence and capacity of language to the community of every humans that have passed before you? If you are sexy and pretty, don't you owe it to every ugly monkey beings that have passed before you? Are you going to mistreat the life that has giving this opportunity?


Cedric C

1/08/2009 01:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not every Christian rants about how you, you, and you are going to hell. If you go by the teaching of Jesus Christ he says to be among the sinners. He went as far as to stand up against the religious leaders of his time by saying they were wrong for telling people to avoid sinners. His teachings also make it clear that people will sin no matter how hard they try not to. The whole "you are going to hell" thing was crafted by the Catholic church. The actual teaching of Jesus was far more peaceful. A lot of people who deny him today live pretty close to his teaching and don't even realize it. There were many wandering holy men in his time and the majority of them have long been forgotten. So I think the fact that his name remains spoken today is a sign. It is not like the Christians had strength in numbers from the very start. It took a long time for Christianity to be accepted. Was he the son of God. I believe so.

1/08/2009 02:16:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

. If you go by the teaching of Jesus Christ he says to be among the sinners.

Actually, this is where I entirely lose my patience with so-called Christians. This arrogant delineation between themselves and the rest of us, presumably with them being only relapsed Christians when they sin (and boy oh boy do they sin) and the rest of us being (what?) dedicated sinners?

A lot of people who deny him today live pretty close to his teaching and don't even realize it.

Then what's the problem? If recognition of Christ is the only difference between who goes to heaven and who goes to hell (because from what I can see, you're right, not all that many Christians apparently are that concerned with which other actions will lead them to the gates of hell), I call b.s. (yes, that's right I called b.s. on the teachings of the multiple flavors of contemporary Christian sects).

Do the math with me. Until Christ died, there was no means by which to get to heaven if recognizing Christ is the only means. So everyone who died BC is in hell. Then you have those awkward years, during which Christ walked among us, but hadn't yet been crucified. Did recognizing him then get you in, or did you have to live longer than he did?

Finally, once he's ascended to heaven and, phew! finally, you can delineate people between those who deny he's the Son of God and those who accept it, you still have the embarrassing lack of mass communication enabling the spreading of the Word. If I had lived in India, per se, and then died before the Word reached there and I stood before my maker only to hear that I was doomed for eternity because, had anyone asked me, I would have answered "Jesus who?" I don't think I'd be all that impressed with God's fairness.

Yet, today, certain Christians will fundamentally reject that anyone other than those who accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior (and they differ on whether or not that includes walking the walk too strictly) could join them in heaven. Even if they're much less of a sinner.

When you challenge them on the fairness or logic of this, they'll generally resort to "Well, that's what I believe" (as if that were an actual argument).

It's all a bit too convenient and (for the chosen few) lucrative, don't you think?

1/08/2009 08:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

So everyone who died BC is in hell.

Some of them were sprung out of hell by Jesus after he died. There's a hilarious Fra Angelico painting in Florence in which Christ has kicked in the gate of hell to rescue Adam and a host of Old Testament prophets. The door has fallen in on some hapless demon, who gets flattened Wile E. Coyote style.

1/08/2009 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Julie Sadler said...

The bummer about the entire religious thing is that most religions have an exclusivity policy. "We have the answers...and if you don't agree with us, then you are lost and must be fixed." (converted)

It's lack of tolerance at a basic level. Christians, Jews, Muslims, these are all exclusive clubs. If you don't believe it's "the way" and aren't following "the rules", then you are basically screwed.
That lack of tolerance is the reason why I have a problem with a bus ad promoting a particular God. It is divisive. Period. And from what I can observe in life, "God" is far from divisive. Lowly slugs have life. Amoebas...bacteria....

I cannot recall Buddhists, for example, promoting such messages. I do believe it's the product of only particular religions, not all. Unfortunately, these religions are the largest in population. Therefore-- our situation, ads on buses.

1/08/2009 09:56:00 AM  
Anonymous nemastoma said...

Why would it be so hard to envision that when we die we go back to a same state we were before we were born. To see Life as a wonderfully privileged moment, but one in which the body frames one, imprisons one temporarily. Like a frame surrounding a painting? No need for any religion, no need for any god, no need for any purpose. Accept life as a wonderful accident. We should be leaving the explaining of the origin of the universe(s) to the astrophysicists and theoretical physicists. And view the stories of the bible and all religious texts as some beautiful, other less beautiful stories, literature. mythologies, metaphors, anything except to take the stories literally.

1/08/2009 10:03:00 AM  
Anonymous mcknight said...

I don't like being bombarded by any agenda, and I find car ads just as offensive as the bible club ads on the subway. There is a built-in pushy element to fundamentalist Christianity, followers take the bible literally including the instruction to preach and spread the "good news" about Jesus. I was raised in a house with religious, albeit spiritual parents and ended up Agnostic because my parents encouraged critical thought. My observation is that religion, or the idea of God, is largely a comfort issue. How distressing is it that evil exists and life ends with death and is wrought with uncertainty and pain. But with this Jesus character comes eternal life and if you take the bible literally, an answer to every question.
Zealous folk from every religious stripe have a definite answer to any question naysayers put to them, emotionally manipulative "concrete" answers are powerful. It means believers can turn off their brains and be absolved from doubt and fear and be happy saved folk. This is why organizations target the young scared kids at university campuses as well as prisons and underprivileged neighbourhoods, these people are ripe for the picking.
I don't think it is as simple as Christians not enjoying their lives because they believe god exists. The humanists' ads probably won't change a religious person's mind or stop them from giving tithe to their pastor, people are pretty attached to their protective bubbles. It means that they are right and they don't have to wrestle with existential problems. What makes the fundamentalist Christians so annoying to me is self- righteousness, but the same arrogant attitude is equally vexing coming from Atheists and trust fund kids trying to sell me the Socialist Worker paper.

Thanks for the post Ed, and congrats on your upcoming book!

1/08/2009 10:15:00 AM  
Anonymous A Non-PERFECT Believer said...

It all comes down to your Final Authority. Mine just happens to be the King James Bible. You (me, you, all of us) make a choice. You choose to accept that we are all sinners and will continue to be or not. I am a sinner, not any better or worse than you, because Gods word reads that we all fall short, all have sinned. If you have committed one, you have committed all. Sin is sin.

Everything Old Testament (sacrifice) leads up to the Birth, Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. After the Gospels, everything New Testament points back to it. Comparing Old and New Rules and Laws with Grace, is equivalent to comparing apples to telephones. Old T. was Law, New T. is Grace. "For we are saved by Grace, through Faith."

Many people say that a Loving God would not send people to hell. This is true. A Loving God wouldn't, but a Just God would. God can not be Just if he does not stand by his own word. "Choose today whom you will serve." Yourself or God? You can make a hundred excuses why you choose not to believe in God. It boils down to you choose to serve yourself rather than accept Gods word. Oh, you are "good" person. You never killed anyone. You don't spit in the coffee cup of the elderly. You don't trip little children walking to school. Again, sin is sin. Too many of us just don't want to accept Christ, the Light of the world, because we don't want that light shining on our lives to reveal our sin. We don't want to admit that how we live our lives has sin in it. Yes, there are many hypocrites in a variety of churches and religions. There is no perfect church (assembly of people) because people will always have sin in their lives. You, I, we are sinners. I will be a sinner until the day I die. The difference is that I accept it, and have heard what Gods word says about eternal life -vs.- eternal death. Hell is real. Count on it. What sends a man to hell is rejecting Christ. "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man come unto the Father but by me." Yes, I'm quoting scripture, and no doubt you know some scripture too. I've heard plenty of it taken so far out of context that it sickens me as much as you say you are sickened by Christians telling you that you'll go to hell if you don’t accept Christ Jesus as your Saviour.

I live believing that Christ died on the cross for my sins, to save me. I will sin from time to time, but am taught to repent of them. So I live a life restricting myself of things that Gods word reads are sin (killing, stealing, coveting, sex outside of marriage, I'm sure you know the rest), I fail, but call upon his grace, turn from that sin and walk the path that God said would be narrow and hard. If you reject what I say here it is because you reject Gods word. God said that his followers would be rejected because the light they carry as a Christian will reveal the sin of the world. Your argument isn’t with the likes of Christians, it is with God. Choosing to not acknowledge Him or trying to make a Christian prove that he exists is not proof that he doesn’t.

So, I live NOW obeying Gods word believing upon his grace, and love, and trusting his promises. If I am right I lived a good life and go to heaven. If I am wrong I still lived a good life. (I had a belief and shared it with others. After all, Gods word tells me to go out into all the world and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.) OR You live your life. You do not kill anyone, you give to charity, you show love to your family and friends, basic morals of the world. But you choose to reject Gods word and Jesus. You choose to reject, confess, or repent that you are a sinner, and that God created this world. (And isn't it SO much easier to believe in the "Culmination of Years of Random Genetic Mishaps", than it is to believe in God the Creator? That is just sad.) So now, if you are right, you lived a good life. No harm no fowl, right? Okay, but what if you are wrong? Now, you stand before Christ who tells you: You rejected me. You rejected my love, my gift, my word. You had no need for me then. Depart from me for I knew you not. Then, you spend eternity in darkness. No love, no light, no hope, never any relief from the constant pain of your body burning. Forever locked in solitude to be tortured by your sin. You wanted it your way after all, right? Because if I can't live my life the way I want now, what's the point of spending it with God in eternity? Right? If a loving God is going to dictate that the way I live my life is sin, then I would rather go to Hell. Right?

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Is it so hard to sincerely call on God to show you the truth about this life? Or is it just too scary to think that we might be wrong. Our selfish pride, I – Me – My. So much better to live life now and burn later, than to work hard at pleasing a Loving God who gave all he had, to show that He loved us in the first place. Hell…It should be scary; the idea of eternity without God: it should quite literally scare the hell out of you. You are so obviously an articulated and intelligent man. Why is it you work so hard at avoiding God? It’s all your choice. God wrote it clear. Our choice, NOT GOD sends us to heaven or hell. Joh 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

1/08/2009 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Non-Perfect,

While I appreciate that you're attempting to be both inclusive and balanced in your assessment, one statement you've made overshadows all the rest and really is the essence of my problem with your position. On one hand you write:

It all comes down to your Final Authority. Mine just happens to be the King James Bible.

but then you insist:

If you reject what I say here it is because you reject Gods word.

You've nicely blurred whether or not it's fair to point out inconsistencies in the King James Bible, but you yourself list as "sins" those actions declared as such in the Old Testament. Christ never listed "killing, stealing, coveting, sex outside of marriage" in any of the Gospels I've read.

But more than that and far more problematic, you're suggesting it's your way or the hell-highway. Despite admitting that your way (the King James Bible) is a personal choice you've made. Had you made that choice after an exhaustive reading of other texts purporting to be the divine word of the creator, I might respect that (I'll leave it to you to let me know whether you have) but even then, as you note, it comes down to your (implied: personal) final authority.

Taken together, your second statement then reads

"If you reject what I say here it is because you reject what I personally choose to believe."

I'm comfortable with that.

But more importantly, let's get back to this...

"So I live a life restricting myself of things that Gods word reads are sin (killing, stealing, coveting, sex outside of marriage, I'm sure you know the rest), I fail, but ..."

...should someone near you be calling the authorities?

1/08/2009 11:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

It all comes down to your Final Authority.

I got mine.

1/08/2009 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

My apologies to Oriane, who posted a comment that I inadvertently deleted trying to moderate the comments.

;-(

1/08/2009 01:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harrumph! Ed, for that you will burn for eternity in the environs of basement cat. Also, you are sentenced to spend some time in purgatory looking at the following links.

Franklin, that's not bad.

I gotz mien too.

http://icanhascheezburger.com/2008/04/07/funny-pictures-the-final-battle-for-our-souls-begins/

http://icanhascheezburger.com/2008/03/03/funny-pictures-glorious-appearence-in-da-sky/

http://icanhascheezburger.com/2008/02/13/funny-pictures-ceiling-cat-creates-man/

http://icanhascheezburger.com/2008/02/10/funny-pictures-sees-no-evidence-of-celing-cat/

http://icanhascheezburger.com/2008/07/10/funny-pictures-commanments-of-ceiling-cat/

Oriane

1/08/2009 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Arghhhhh!!!!

My eyes!! The cute!! It burns!!!

1/08/2009 03:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As well it should, infidel! But remember - we followers of Ceiling Cat have 9 lives. Join now, and you can burn in hell (this time) and come back for more!

Ocat

1/08/2009 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger The Reader said...

George thanks for your insight. Yes GOD is a Wiki, at least metaphorically, (this in opposition to that lame ecstasy-driven POMO cliche that would have it that god is a DJ). Why is god a Wiki? Because God is created through the power of faith and belief. The believers are the creators of "God" not the other way round. Every act of faith is like writing or rewriting of the Wiki that is god.

This is not to say that we should believe it a particular religious version of god. The power of collective faith and belief can be a creative force for good in all sorts of community settings.

1/08/2009 07:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Let's assume the equivalent of a Mother Teresa but that would be a total atheist.

Why would the abrahamic God be so
angry because someone doesn't
believe in "Him"? What's the fuss about? As long as people are being moral?


I don't believe in the Bible but I do have spiritual beliefs. No one is
dispelled for any reason within my beliefs. And from my beliefs I don't have to tell you anything, because it's each and everyone's goal to find their own path. Sin is its own punishment.


Cedric


PS: in my previous comment I wrote OWE as HOW, and made other laughable misphrasing. I'm realizing I have a dyslexia or something about "DON'T", mixing negative phrasing with positive intentions.

1/09/2009 07:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no Ceiling Cat. We, the followers of Basement Cat, claim Winkleman for our own. His soul will dwell in the blessed Darkness. His Chris Ho nudey sculpture will stand in the corner amid the bones of small mammals and be used as a scratching post.

1/09/2009 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Tatiana said...

I like what Edward stated...that we, atheists/agnostics, should definitely be more vocal -- OUT and not be shy about it. We'll never get an atheist into high office without being more out there...although, there probably ARE atheists in high office, but alas, pull a Larry Craig and keep it to themselves.

1/09/2009 12:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is anyone here really not comfortable "coming out" about not believing in god? What are you afraid will happen if people knew? (I'm talking people not running for elective office.)

O

1/09/2009 07:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Wait til you catch a deadly disease and are stuck in bed in hospital, or loss a relative you really really, really loved.

Than come back to me, and tell me you are still an atheist.


Cedric C

1/09/2009 09:03:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Wait til you catch a deadly disease and are stuck in bed in hospital, or loss a relative you really really, really loved.

Believe it or not, Cedric, such an experience in my life is more or less what has led me closer to atheism. All the prayers in the universe did nothing to stop what happened...it was grotesquely unfair...and it planted a seed of resentment in me against the "creator" that festered until I could no longer believe in such an entity as advertised.

Still, I try to keep an open mind.

1/10/2009 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cedric,

I have been through several such experiences. I don't think the whole god/religion thing was an issue. Every body dies. Belief or non-belief doesn't affect it. You and I will both die regardless of our beliefs.

But your response brings up one reason why atheists (or this one, anyway) find religious people umm... I was going to say a more judgmental word, but I'll just say perplexing.

"Wait til you catch a deadly disease and are stuck in bed in hospital, or loss a relative you really really, really loved.

Than come back to me, and tell me you are still an atheist."

Perhaps you had a religious experience during one of these events, or came closer to god, or whatever, but millions and millions of people have watched a loved one die and everyone has their own response, which is just as valid as yours. I would never say to you, "wait until x, then come back and tell me you still believe in god". There's no arguing about it because it is not logical. Religious belief is not based on empirical evidence, so it cannot be "proven" or disproved. You have it or you don't.

Oriane

1/10/2009 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger bo'r said...

""The question shouldn’t be: “is there a God” but, just as with the Devil, what's your definition of God.""


i think this is a special question...most christians and even atheists see god as an old man on a throne, giving thumbs up or down to each soul to come up to the pearly gates.
remember, god is 'that which is greater than can be concieved'...a unity of all that is and is not. the same oneness that buddhists confront when they meditate.
the value in jesus came in order to relate this difficult idea to people who could only understand themselves, their own humanity. they needed a body to relate to, and thanks to modern christianity, too many of them worship him claiming he is the same as the 'alpha and omega', bordering on blasphemous idolatry..

every religion is just a different path to the same mountain top. i dont think it matters which path you take, so long as you are trying to reach the top. so many of us forget the path by getting lost in the scenery, and end up at the bottom of the mountain with out even knowing it simply because they never cared the mountain existed.

the question comes then if there is a thing to seek outside of this material world. god is the collection of everything, the highest dimension....one that engulfs the four dimensions we can see with our earthly body and the rest of the 11 that string theory predicts to exist. i believe everyone in there life at least once witnesses something that could be perceived as otherworldly in a sense. but it depends on how you choose to interpret.



i personally dont like any of the bus ads...ive never seen any of them, but the idea of either side is just not right to me. jesus himself said that there will be those that do not believe. and that they never will...so be it. him telling the disciples to go and spread the word is just so that everyone has that choice. whatever you choose, good job for you.

if you live a good life and still dont believe, i think then it depends on how you handle your nonbelief. in that i mean 'i dont believe but if you do, ok.' or do you make fun of those who believe simply because you refuse to see or beacuse they refuse? those who seek will find, if you dont want to seek, fine. just dont make fun of my beliefs just because you have a different perspective. i respect that...as should all other christians. to not is not very 'christianly' to me. as it is also said, no human has the right to judge...not even michael the archangel himself could judge, it is left solely up to Him.

if i like chocolate and you like vanilla, there is no need for you to make fun of chocolate, or vice versa. we should both understand we have different mentalities and respect each other based on the fact that we both think.

the christians were wrong to put those ads on the busses in the first place. the situation i see has just gotten out of hand because it started from a weak grasp in the first place..




'Blessed are they who have been persecuted within themselves. It is they who have truly come to know the father. Blessed are the hungry, for the belly of him who desires will be filled'

1/10/2009 04:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

I'm not saying that horrid events make people believe in God but I would assume it forces them to question themselves, ie, become agnostic, seek out answers.

But I have a theory that everything happens for a reason.
That we each have a path to seek down, which is highly different from one another (hence the futility of one-dogma religions).

My God looks more like that internet diagram that Edward gave a couple days ago, except that there is no center where there is more activity, and no dots that are brighter or look better than others. My "God" (hate the term) thinks the gallery on Main Street, Chibougameau, Quebec is as important as Winkleman's or Gagosian's.

Basically, this "God" still ports the problem of dogma because I'm
forcing it down upon you. But
it is not condemning your atheism
and in fact this question is
entirely irrelevant. In my beliefs,
it is not a sin to not believe in
anything. It is not an insult.
Doubt is as homaged as a sign of sanity as within philosophy. In fact there is no rules in my beliefs, only balance.
If you love ice cream than go
and eat Ice cream but the more
you eat Ice Cream, you know
where that leads (and no,
that's not Hell).

Where philosophy hits a nail,
is that in my beliefs I can borrow
from esoterical "knowledge", under
very specific conditions (one
being to never do it for money)
to explain why something
happens to someone. Or, from a disease, I can link it to a personal problem you have (which should be worked upon along the medicine you intake, if you want real success). Do you know chinese medicine?


If I ask, "why did life bring this
harsh event into Edward's life?".
I get an answer... I see passing waters, circulation, transfer of emotions. I see drunkenness. Juggling water, either it's about switching emotions from one person to another, or it's sacrificing up something that was once too much abused. That would what I can relate for now about the spiritual purpose of Edward's harsh event.


In religion, selon my beliefs, it's not important the symbols or God or narrative you use. I can go to any christian church and I don't give a fuck about the bible (and all its absurd sexual guilt). But in big important christian church, there is special energy. Because a lot of people believe in it, you can put your hands toward the main cross and you can sense the aura of it, like with any gigantically loved piece of art. Suddenly things become solemn, and yes you can almost say, "sacred". But you don't know sacred until you really plunge into it. To me, it's really about snapping in and out of a sacredness state, that's really all what it is about. When you stop and decide "for this moment, I'm gonna be sacred", than you can perform whatever ritual fancies you wish as long as you concentrate on an ideal of sacredness. "There", it's a bit like meditation. You reach a state as if you are one with the universe. Is it a mental problem? Is it about magnetism? Energy? Exaggerated philosophy? You decide. But when you learn at how things function at a subquantic level, it becomes really fascinating how everything is really somehow linked together.



Cheers,

Cedric C

(always doubt, never fear)

1/11/2009 09:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, now we come to the truly offensive "belief" of many believers:

"But I have a theory that everything happens for a reason. That we each have a path to seek down...
I can borrow from esoterical "knowledge", under very specific conditions (one being to never do it for money) to explain why something happens to someone. Or, from a disease, I can link it to a personal problem you have...
If I ask, 'why did life bring this harsh event into Edward's life?". I get an answer... I see passing waters, circulation, transfer of emotions. I see drunkenness.' "

I've heard this "theory" many times, in different forms. And, this is also a cliche, but it's an appropriate answer:
What about _______________ (fill in the blank) i.e.
the people killed in the WTC on 9/11
the millions of jews in Nazi Germany
the people killed in massive epidemics of disease
the people who starve or die from unclean water, malaria, poverty or war all over the world
and on and on.

So you can explain all these "harsh events" by looking to some "personal problem" within each dead person that perhaps chinese medicine could help with? All these people's lives were on a particular path and their deaths happened for a reason?

There is a reason Karl Marx said "religion is the opiate of the masses." Not my drug of choice, but go ahead and toke away.

Oriane

1/11/2009 10:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Oriane:
+++personal problem


I was talking about diseases. Not murder and accidents. Neither accidental diseases (like from chemical weapons).

Diseases are not punitions. I believe they can be enticed by weaknesses of the mind, though. And yes, sometimes people are collectively weak. For example a collectiv demoralization. A Collectiv depression.

You have to understand that if you believe in God, death is not and never a tragedy. That's why terrorists kill people, and themselves: they think everybody meet some seconds after in the afterlife.

I don't think like that. I think it's the most vile thing to decide for another person's destiny, and life is the most precious thing. But when you seriously believe, you don't spend time crying the dead eternally. You're only looking at one piece of the medal, which is death. Maybe the Jews are shouting at you to stop complain for them because they're doing very fine? Murder is wrong though. That is the parabole of Cain and Abel. It was wrong for Cain to kill Abel because Abel had a purpose that he could not fulfill. Maybe like... Wake up and help his brother? (I don't believe in the Bible narratively, but apprehend some of the images).


Anyway I believe you can meditate on things you find so wrong in the world, and ask for an answer. When you have done it so long you feel like you start receiving answers, maybe from your own imagination, than you can laugh at those answers, throw them away, come back at them later, discard them. Or never repeat the experience.
There is no suggestions from my part that you should believe in anything or that I convincingly believe in anything myself. Mystery has a purpose.


Edward's card was meditated. I meditate on Tarot because it's a visual language that is universal since Egypt, and if any of this meditation thing is going to be true, I'm going to trust that language above any other. So I came up with Temperance. Which is an angel who has to always fill and empty two pots of water from one another, and that angel looks bored in doing a task which doesn't seem to serve much purpose. This card means different things depending if a situation concerns health, business, etc...In business, someone feels like they got used. People used them and they got erased in the pavement. Often a young subordinate stole your job. Opportunistic use of your talent. But what if your life's purpose or an event's purpose was for you to be just that? A servant? To accept this "godly" task of being a servant? In relationships, water is emotion, and one love often oozes away and make place for the new. It's the test of having to let someone go to pass on to another love. In diseases, you look at circulation and communication problems (think Aquarius). In other aspects, anything where you must put water in your wine, something deadly long and patient, boredom, repetition. In family, a woman, a mother. Or if Edward himself than he is much more smooth a person that the blog lets him out to be.

It's just playing, you know? No one is forced to believe any of this. I have personal reasons to reserve beliefs.



Cheers,

Cedric C

1/11/2009 11:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric c said...

I think generally believers sound crazy or brainwashed, and atheists sound boring and cold. I dropped from atheism because it was too boring for me, but stuff like transcendental meditation, chinese and indian medicine, are age-old and very organized systems.

When I say that one can tell what part of one's mind is unhealthy when they are sick, or what body parts should be connected in curative treatments, I'm only talking of learning and understanding very old systems, still widely in use in Asia, which mix parts of real medicine with stuff that most of you would find esoterical and crazy. But I still think people who drop from scientific medicine and only swear by the alternative methods are playing a very dangerous game. Scientific progress is very important. I'm interested in using the best of both worlds.

In meditation, you have both people who believe you can reach an "out there" when you're doing it (a collective unconscious), and you have those who think that's bollocks. I prefer the first one because it is way more fun, and then I had some revelatory experiences with it. But I would still recommend it to everyone would it be simply to relieve stress and prevent sickness. Which comes back to the idea that
the mind is connected with sickness.

But I guess I'm agnostic because I have no certainty about anything. The ambivalence is that in the transcendental beliefs you can go in and out as you please. You're allowed to doubt, to laugh, to not take yourself seriously, etc..
The only condition is "come back when you're serious, because now it really ain't working". I use the term believer because I get more and more surprising experiences, but it's not like it's a blasphemy to not believe the morning after. In this sense my "religion'" is like a phone that you can decide to use some day and reject the other. Or you can find tomorrow that the phone was a total fake. No big deal. You can throw it in the garbage forever the day you decide the ringing sound pollutes your sanity.

And become atheist again?

Nah, not for me.


Cedric

1/12/2009 07:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG! I founded Him!

http://icanhascheezburger.com/2009/01/13/funny-pictures-finding-jesus/

Oriane

1/13/2009 01:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Eden said...

the Father of Spiritual mankind. For it is he . . . who opened the eyes of the automaton (Adam) created by Jehovah. . . he still remains in Esoteric Truth the ever loving messenger . . .

1/14/2009 01:36:00 PM  

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