Towards community, balance, and free expression
Posted: 17 February 2012 05:42 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I am joining the forum to join a community. I want to perfect balance in my thinking and in my expression of myself towards being able to talk candidly even with people who disagree with me.

Background
I am 54 years old and work in pharmaceuticals.
I took a recent CFI course from Robert Price about the resurrection of Jesus.
I liked it and thought the discussions were great.

I have family and friends that are very religious and/or politically conservative and are hard for me to talk with. The result is that I tend to shut down and do not share who I am with them for fear I will offend or upset family or friend relationships. I am now seeing this state of not sharing my thoughts with others to be bad for me and bad for my family and friends. It’s not that my ideas or voice are that special but if a secular voice and worldview is not stated or discussed then the less reasonable ones abound.
This is the issue of coming out as a secular and I think it is complicated if you want to have balance and not turn people off. I am sure many on this forum have faced variations of this issue that I think of as “the issue of being myself without alienating others”.
For example: I was listening to the Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast. The MC had a pithy quote that I have never heard: “We are the meat inside our skulls” - Steve Novella SGU
I like this quote but it seems like it would terribly offend some people I know because it is too earthy, too materialistic and by definition without an immortal soul. Maybe a softer version would work better, such as: “For all we know we are the thoughts in our brains and nothing more.” It is a similar expression and will still offend but it is not as pithy.

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Posted: 17 February 2012 06:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Welcome RD! Your experience is similar to many here, including me. I think you will enjoy interacting with us and will find a sense of community. Feel free to join in to any of the conversations, or start your own.

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“I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.”—Edith Sitwell

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Posted: 17 February 2012 07:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Welcome to the CFI Forum, RD, glad to have you here. Sounds like you’ll have a good time chatting, please feel free to jump right in.

Cheers,

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Posted: 17 February 2012 08:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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RD Cook - 17 February 2012 05:42 AM

Maybe a softer version would work better, such as: “For all we know we are the thoughts in our brains and nothing more.” It is a similar expression and will still offend but it is not as pithy.

Welcome to the forum, RD!  You don’t necessarily have to throw out the baby with the bathwater in this case.  I’m an atheist, but I have no problem with the word “soul” or even “spirit”.  But when I use it, I mean the part of our brains that makes us unique individuals, our personality in essence.  It’s just not immortal in the sense theists use it.

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Posted: 17 February 2012 11:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Welcome to the Forum community RD.

I met Price a few years ago at a Jesus Project seminar a few years ago.  Didn’t take the course because I have been over that ground.

Stick around, the more people here the better, IMO is that one of us non-believers greatest weakness is not building strong communities to support each other as well as the rest of our fellow humans. And this is where the religious beat the hell out of us.

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Gary the Human

All the Gods and all religions are created by humans, to meet human needs and accomplish human ends.

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Posted: 17 February 2012 04:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Yup! I think you are right about not making community and I am guilty of this. I looked at your profile and it appears you live close to the CFI. An Internet community is a start for now. I can get involved with humanists in my area and that would be acting locally. Thanks for your comments.

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Posted: 17 February 2012 05:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Welcome to CFI forums, RD.  Glad to have you here.

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Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 17 February 2012 08:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Welcome RD,

Looking forward to your posts.

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Art is the creation of that which evokes an emotional response, leading to thoughts of the noblest kind.
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Posted: 17 February 2012 09:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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advocatus wrote:  I’m an atheist, but I have no problem with the word “soul” or even “spirit”.  But when I use it, I mean the part of our brains that makes us unique individuals, our personality in essence.  It’s just not immortal in the sense theists use it.

I see your point about not giving up words that are valuable in their own way. It is also good to not give up such words because it would be like giving up on the word morality just because it might be linked to to the supernatural. It is like when Robert Price calls himself a Christian Athiest. He takes the supernatural out of the word and keeps on using it. Bravo! lesson learned.

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Posted: 17 February 2012 09:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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RD Cook - 17 February 2012 09:29 PM

advocatus wrote:  I’m an atheist, but I have no problem with the word “soul” or even “spirit”.  But when I use it, I mean the part of our brains that makes us unique individuals, our personality in essence.  It’s just not immortal in the sense theists use it.

I see your point about not giving up words that are valuable in their own way. It is also good to not give up such words because it would be like giving up on the word morality just because it might be linked to to the supernatural. It is like when Robert Price calls himself a Christian Athiest. He takes the supernatural out of the word and keeps on using it. Bravo! lesson learned.

“…if we offer too much silent assent about mysticism and superstition – even when it seems to be doing a little good – we abet a general climate in which skepticism is considered impolite, science tiresome, and rigorous thinking somehow stuffy and inappropriate. Figuring out a prudent balance takes wisdom.” - Carl Sagan The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

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Posted: 21 February 2012 10:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Robert, I like you post - in that now I know something about who you are.  I see that you and I are in a similar situation with religious relatives.  I don’t talk about religion with the relatives because the wife forbids it.

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If your belief is true, the data will confirm it.  If your belief is false, then you need faith to believe it.
Religions that demand respect the most - are the religions that merit respect the least.
If you are offended by attacks on your religion, then your religion has programmed you well.

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Posted: 21 February 2012 09:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Hi Ted - Thanks for comments!

I imagine that some in the forum are like us in that they out of respect for the advice of our spouces stay far more quiet than is good for their own self dignity. For me the result is somewhat additive and I am wanting to stop it. It’s like weight loss in the sense that if you gain weight slowly you gotta lose it slowly. So it is with me where I think I must make small changes here or there in myself and my responses and come out slowly. I made a baby step recently when I told our christian friends in an email that I did not have any belief in any of the gods and that made me a weak atheist or strong agnostic. The result was not bad because we had a phone call with them and the whole thing was not mentioned. So far so good. The more I think about it the more I see it as me not being comfortable with being myself or being able to experss myself. This can cause frustration but the source is inside me and not so much from the outside until such time as I receive some feedback or reaction.

I am learning aphorisms to help give me some language to express myself. For example: I learned in a recent Reasonable Doubts Podcast episode 97 about Presuppositional Apologetics A must listen episode. And this is a screwy little thing but I think it is gold to use this little expression,

“I don’t grant that premise”.

Simple right??? But just imagine that I don’t normally say even that much so it will be a ready aphorism if I need it. I also like the Voltaire quote: “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atroscities.”  This is an aphorism I want to keep clear in my mind and handy if i need it.

When a religious person lays a quote on me from the Bible they are making a point. I ought to do the same and make my point. Here again is the advice from our atheist christian, brother Price to find balance and so in Proverbs 15:1: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Hallelujah! I take this to mean that whatever I want to say that I should be as gentle as possible but all my other experience tells me that I must still find the gentle way to say it or I am not being myself.

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Posted: 21 February 2012 10:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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RD Cook,
When a religious person lays a quote on me from the Bible they are making a point. I ought to do the same and make my point. Here again is the advice from our atheist christian, brother Price to find balance and so in Proverbs 15:1: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Hallelujah! I take this to mean that whatever I want to say that I should be as gentle as possible but all my other experience tells me that I must still find the gentle way to say it or I am not being myself

Wise words.
I believe that in order to communicate effectively, one must learn to speak the language of the listener. This is why in discussions about biblical metaphors, I often cite them and say that science has an equivalent interpretation, and then explain the scientific theory which identifies the metaphor in “accepted” neutral scientific terms, without threatening or rejecting the concept of god.
This IMO, will not threaten the theist, but rather legitimatize science.  Often I in such discussions I am able to elicit an “Oh I see” and that is a small step toward reconcilliation.

example, a coworker once asked me how it was that science claims creation happened 14 billion years ago and took billions of years to evolve when the bible says 6 days. I offered that perhaps the 6 day creation story was correct in essence, but that one of god’s days may well be some 2+ billion years. We just assume that the day the bible was referring to was the same 24 hrs day we have on earth, but the bible itself does not say so and that biblical day was a metaphor for “a period of time”.  Her response was “Ohh, now I see”. I had resolved her dilemma, legitimatized science, yet had not threatened her belief in god. It was a good conversation.

[ Edited: 21 February 2012 10:45 PM by Write4U ]
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