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Old 11-21-2005, 09:52 PM   #16
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i think what he's getting at is less the existence of a god and more what people do in response to their belief in the existence of a god.

i understand why those of faith would have disagreements with this essay, he pretty much picks a fight. but he clearly feels as if he holds a minority viewpoint, and needs to be provocative in order to have his voice heard and his opinion register.

i suppose i don't think that people of faith are totally aware of how oppressive constant talk of 'god bless america' and 'god' this and 'god' that in every day language (and especially political language) can be if you are an atheist. as a passionate agnostic, i notice these things and actually find them a little bit offensive ... well, not offensive, just unnecessary (i mean really, hasn't God blessed the United States enough? we're very lucky people ... why can't our president ask God to bless the Pakistanis affected by the earthquake instead, maybe just once?).

so that's where i think he's coming from. i respect everyone's right to take issue with him, and Yolland (as per usual) did so eloquently, and he's perhaps not the best spokesman for his stripe of atheism. but i respect atheism, and i always find it interesting to watch the nervouseness and teeth gnashing that passionate atheism provokes in some of the devout.
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Old 11-21-2005, 10:28 PM   #17
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He is taking a humanist POV. Generally speaking,( everyone here loves that) people of faith view life as the segway to eternal life. By spending so much time trying to please our deities, people don't see the problems in the world as being something we have to correct. If they get "saved", then they will be ok in the next life. Like Mother Theresa, some criticized her for recruiting for the Catholic church more that actually helping people get out of poverty. Or linking aid to abstinence or other religious principles. Jillette is just suggesting that if all these thoughts were eliminated and people realized that we get one life, nothing else, we should do everything we can to help others regardless. No one is coming to save us from the troubles of the world and we aren't going to a heaven or hell, or be reincarnated.

It is a hard concept to explain and harder to explain without offending theists. People who aren't athiests aren't bad people, they just have a different viewpoint.
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Old 11-21-2005, 10:39 PM   #18
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And some of them are just batshit crazy.
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Old 11-21-2005, 11:58 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
...but i respect atheism, and i always find it interesting to watch the nervouseness and teeth gnashing that passionate atheism provokes in some of the devout.
Quote:
Originally posted by trevster2k
If they get "saved", then they will be ok in the next life...
It is a hard concept to explain and harder to explain without offending theists.
Well, I'm certainly not offended, but thus far at least (and perhaps some subsequent poster will prove me wrong), I think the two of you may be pre-emptively firing at phantoms here. I'm the only poster in this thread who's expressed strenuous criticism of Jillette's piece, but I understand quite well what humanism is, and I don't need to be "provoked" into recognizing that compassionate and intelligent "strong atheists" abound, much less that heartless and stupid theists exist. I actually think Jillette does the worldview he lays claim to a disservice by bypassing an opportunity to explain how rationalism and faith in the possibilities of human nature provide sufficient grounds for an ethos of caring and compassion. Instead, he settles for patting himself on the back for not being a "solipsistic" hypocrite begging the invisible for more. Pretty thin and uninspiring stuff, in my view. The humanist philosophers I've named and many others, on the other hand, I have great regard for, and proudly claim as contributors to my own (religion-based) ethical worldview.

Also, while Jillette himself, to be fair, doesn't get into the topic of obsession with personal salvation at the expense of all else, I think it's very important to note that that is not a textbook feature of religion "generally." Even within denominations that do place great emphasis on personal salvation, this is no intrinsic obstacle to adressing the earthly sufferings of others: just look at Bono and all the evangelical conservatives he's inspired to push for "real-world" steps to end extreme poverty, for instance.
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Originally posted by Irvine511
i suppose i don't think that people of faith are totally aware of how oppressive constant talk of 'god bless america' and 'god' this and 'god' that in every day language (and especially political language) can be if you are an atheist.
Fair enough, though having grown up in an environment with more than a little latent anti-Semitism, I am more aware of the multiple perceived meanings "God talk" can convey than you might think. I think the perceived oppressiveness of such language comes more from its associations with experiences of exclusion, stigmatization and (con)damnation, than from anything inherent in the personal beliefs being expressed. For example, having been told (as I certainly have) that you'll burn in hell forever because you don't believe in or practice "X"; or (more subtly) things like the equation of "Godlessness" with Soviet totalitarianism that most Americans over 25 were exposed to to varying degrees; or even gradeschool history narratives portraying the Pilgrim "founders" as seeking nothing more than freedom of worship, a gross oversimplification. And the converse is also true: rationally or not, many religious Americans perceive a profession of atheism as the defiant slapping back of an outstretched hand.

When casual comments get under your skin on such a visceral level, it's important to take a good hard look at what exactly bothers you about it, what negative associations it holds for you and why, and how reasonable it is to ascribe those to the present speaker. And needless to say--when speaking, we likewise have a responsibility to take the situation of the listeners into account, and be prepared to make reasonable adaptations to the message.


P.S. Thanks for the compliment.
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Old 11-21-2005, 11:59 PM   #20
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And some of them are just batshit crazy.
I really like batsh!t.
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Old 11-22-2005, 11:46 AM   #21
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Yolland- excellent posts
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Old 11-22-2005, 11:52 AM   #22
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^especially the batsh!t one


Seriously though, nice posts.
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Old 11-22-2005, 12:28 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland


Well, I'm certainly not offended, but thus far at least (and perhaps some subsequent poster will prove me wrong), I think the two of you may be pre-emptively firing at phantoms here. I'm the only poster in this thread who's expressed strenuous criticism of Jillette's piece, but I understand quite well what humanism is, and I don't need to be "provoked" into recognizing that compassionate and intelligent "strong atheists" abound, much less that heartless and stupid theists exist.


not you, Yolland, but if we were to listen to, say, William Donahue of the Catholic League making strawmen out of "secular humanists" as a threat to American democaracy, ideals, way of life, etc., then we'd get a good example of someone who is driven nuts by the idea that people can function happily without any sort of belief in a divine presence. i can fully accept the idea that there isn't a God. i'm fine with that, and in fact i find it tremendously empowering -- while i don't think those who think deeply about their religous beliefs (like you, and NBC) feel shackled by their religions, i have heard more than once, "it's not that i hate gay people, it's that my religion tells me that it's sinful to be gay so therefore i'd like to pass you these pamphlets on Exodus Ministries and i'll pray for your soul." my boyfriend's parents sincerely believe he is going to hell, and they worry about it constantly (they being fire-and-brimstone Baptists) and are truly upset about the idea that they won't be reuninted with him in heaven and that he'll be burning in that Lake of Fire i've heard about from the people who can't think of anything better to do on a Saturday morning in June than to protest Gay Pride parades.

so this is an example, i think, of what Jillette is talking about where the destruction of a belief in this kind of God can minimize suffering -- specifically, the psychological suffering of a gay son, (who, truth be told, can deal with it), but also, more importantly, the psychological suffering of the parents who love him dearly and lose sleep over the though of their adorable, loving, kind-hearted son burning for eternity.



Quote:
When casual comments get under your skin on such a visceral level, it's important to take a good hard look at what exactly bothers you about it, what negative associations it holds for you and why, and how reasonable it is to ascribe those to the present speaker. And needless to say--when speaking, we likewise have a responsibility to take the situation of the listeners into account, and be prepared to make reasonable adaptations to the message.
fair enough.





Quote:
P.S. Thanks for the compliment.
well, you've certainly earned it, especially after your posts of support in the simltaneously disasterous and depressing "Is Boy a Gay Album" thread in EYKIW.

ugh. you know, i don't think i've ever been more disappointed by a thread in my whole time here.
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Old 11-22-2005, 01:28 PM   #24
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Originally posted by Irvine511
my boyfriend's parents sincerely believe he is going to hell, and they worry about it constantly (they being fire-and-brimstone Baptists) and are truly upset about the idea that they won't be reuninted with him in heaven and that he'll be burning in that Lake of Fire i've heard about from the people who can't think of anything better to do on a Saturday morning in June than to protest Gay Pride parades.

so this is an example, i think, of what Jillette is talking about where the destruction of a belief in this kind of God can minimize suffering -- specifically, the psychological suffering of a gay son, (who, truth be told, can deal with it), but also, more importantly, the psychological suffering of the parents who love him dearly and lose sleep over the though of their adorable, loving, kind-hearted son burning for eternity.
I hadn't heard about this situation--I'm so sorry this is happening to someone you care deeply for. I hope your own family doesn't have any such issues, not that that's any of my business.

I can hardly claim to understand what this situation feels like, but I've seen it happen firsthand to some gay Orthodox friends, and there are few things more heart-wrenching and enraging I can think of watching happen to a family. In fact, the grappling with my own views on Jewish law that were specifically occasioned by witnessing this played a big role in my decision, many years ago, to leave Orthodoxy for Conservative Judaism. Which is, sadly, hardly a gay-friendly world either, but has at least committed itself to starting down the path towards reconsidering the letter of the law in light of its spirit by welcoming openly gay Jews in its synagogues (as members and cantors, not yet as rabbis). I am confident that this too will inevitably come to pass, and in the meantime there are Othodox rabbis, such as my own younger brother, who are gently but firmly pushing for change within that community as well.

I can only admire that you are generous enough to recognize the anguish your boyfriend's own parents are subjecting themselves to by pitting the will against the heart in such a tragic fashion.
Quote:
ugh. you know, i don't think i've ever been more disappointed by a thread in my whole time here.
Yes, that was thoroughly ugly on many levels. It is so sad how that kind of defensiveness can lead good people to do and say profoundly hurtful things in what they wrongly believe to be a defense of constructive dialogue.
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Old 11-22-2005, 02:04 PM   #25
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I don't know you Yolland.

But I like you.

I need to hang out here more often...
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Old 11-22-2005, 05:56 PM   #26
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god spelled backwards is......
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Old 11-22-2005, 06:39 PM   #27
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ollej?
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Old 11-25-2005, 12:31 AM   #28
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I was listening to NPR when he did that little number the other morning. I agree that he has a right to his opinion. Mainly because the first thing that popped in to my head is...well, I do believe. Yes, I personally believe there is a God. Just like I believe in love, faith, trust, honor, integrity, family, friends and strength gained in times of adversity. Now, I have a science education...and I know that sometimes it is hard to 'prove' that something exists. Lets test something about what he said.
I believe in family and love.
to have a solid relationship you need a couple of things

love and trust

Now the relationship falls apart if you dont have them, right?...but, are they so easy to prove? Can you hold on to them? Can you truly see them? If one could prove 'trust' "love" as a solid substantial object wouldn't it be a lot easier to resolve conflict in a failed relationship? What if you loose one? What if your loved one crosses that boundary and hurts you? On purpose. You know it was on purpose and you know they will probably do it again, right? Maybe you even profess to love them enough to let them do it again? You no longer have trust for them and you don't have a resolution for your conflict...Now lets say it was easier to prove than there being a higher power like God.
"Honey, I know you dont trust me anymore because I lost it, but, I was looking under the sofa and look...look at what I found..."
::hands outstretched holding what object?:dustbunnies? cheezits? pretzels? change? You know it isn't going to be trust...besides, it is clean under my sofa.)
Once it is lost is it so easily found?
Faith and beliefs are values we have... to some they are traditions..some even devote their lives to making sure that others that weren't shown religion have a chance to listen and believe...I applaud them though it is not my life fulfilling prophesy to do the same...just to give it some thought....finding God isn't like finding a lost set of mittens...God doesn't come hand knitted in your favorite color..soft and warm...wrapped lovingly through your coatsleeves by your mother tied together with a string so you don't loose him.
Or does he?
...just my opinion.
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Old 11-26-2005, 02:27 PM   #29
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While I am a Christian, I thought this essay was one of the most TRUTHFUL and INSPIRING essays that I've ever heard.

Why?

Because it strips away all the excuses that christians use to "sin" (mistreat others) and doesn't offer them absolution of their "sins" by calling in that thing called grace and then believing that God has forgiven them just so that they can go back and "sin" all over again!

This essay says that we ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS and CAN'T USE GOD AS AN EXCUSE FOR OUR UNEXCUSABLE BEHAVIORS.

It makes us directly responsible for our thoughts and actions in the world - and that is how it should be.

It is probably one of the most God-affirming essays that I have ever seen.

Here is another interesting article. I think it somehow fits into this discussion:

http://www.statesman.com/search/cont...nterfaith.html



God can do many things, but he won't fix it all himself
Saturday, November 26, 2005

During one of his all-too-common, self-inflicted predicaments, Homer Simpson falls to his knees, looks heavenward, and cries out, "I'm not a religious man, but if you are really there, help me, Superman!"

I sometimes view God as a superhero. The one who will swoop down and save me from my own stupidity or someone else's cruelty or nature's onslaught. Maybe you do, too.


And why not? After all, the Bible is filled with stories of God saving his people from invading armies and nature's furies. Why not a little help in the big game, that grant proposal, the call from the medical clinic we are too scared to return?

For those of us who might be informed by the Jesus story, we try to resist the temptation to see God in this way or to call on God to act this way toward us. When Jesus asked God to take away the pain and suffering of the cross and God did not, perhaps that was God's way of saying that our theology might have to change.

God is not at my beck and call. God didn't bail out Jesus, so it's somewhat unreasonable to expect God to treat me any differently.

Of course, that doesn't stop me from asking. (I said it was a temptation to get God to do what I want. It's usually a very strong temptation.)

And here's the neat trick: If I can convince myself that God will help me out in any situation, I can blunder into any situation with the assurance that SuperGod is on the way. Mess up the environment? God will take care of it. Play fast and loose with facts and truth? God will make it all better.

But God isn't like that. God won't be misused, or abused, by human beings on the make.

Yes, God can make any situation better. There isn't any crucifixion so terrible that doesn't have a resurrection to match it. But the crucifixions do come, life's troubles do overwhelm and there is pain and hurt. (Sometimes even caused by people who think God is on their side.)

After a presentation, a university student once said to me, "I just want you to know: I don't believe in God." I replied, "Tell me more about this God you don't believe in. Maybe I don't believe in that kind of God either."

The Rev. Terrence Sherry is pastor at First Presbyterian Church, participants in Austin Area Interreligious Ministries. Learn more about them at aaimaustin.org.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks for this discussion.
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Old 11-26-2005, 10:51 PM   #30
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EGO- easing God out.
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