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Are you willing to swap stories with me?
Posted: 24 October 2007 09:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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George,
LOL!

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Posted: 24 October 2007 09:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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I like the idea of having the conversation on the forum rather than off it.  I see no reason why anyone should be restricted to email or private correspondence.  If it’s for research that can be done right here on the board.  Even if it is just plain curiousity, that too can be done here on the board, IMHO.

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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: 24 October 2007 09:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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People are starting to wonder why I want to know your stories. A few declined the request outright. Naturally, I expected this. Sure what I’m asking is an uncommon request. Sure it comes off to some as I’m trying to “bait someone” or that I have some “nefarious” or “external agenda.” That’s our human nature rearing its head. Please allow me to answer your concerns and questions with the story below.

The Shortest Way
(based on an old Hasidic story)

A long time ago, two villagers came to a wise teacher with a dispute. They quickly described their disagreement, then awaited the teacher’s advice.

Instead of giving quick advice, the teacher asked one of the villagers a question about what had happened. The teacher listened to the answer for a long time, then asked the other villager a question about his experience. Again the teacher listened. The teacher continued asking questions until both people admitted that they had nothing more to say.

At that point, the teacher went to go think things over. Almost immediately, he returned and gave his advice. The villagers, seeming to accept what he said without question, shook hands and left.

After they had gone, a villager who had witnessed the whole matter asked the teacher: “It took you only a moment to decide. Why did you spend all that time with them, when you were able to decide so quickly?”
The teacher replied: “I needed to listen to everything they had to say. Only then would they accept my advice. Only then would the real problem be solved.”
The End.

Okay, first let me say I am not, nor do I see myself in any way like, the wise teacher from the story. Also the teacher is not you. Who’s the teacher then? WE ALL ARE. Understand?

In my experience it’s a rare person who does not presume to know all about my beliefs and my reasons for them. I imagine you can relate to this too? I’m looking for people who choose to FIRST listen. I’m asking for stories from people who withhold judgment until the “real problem” is revealed. Such people are like that teacher. Are YOU like the wise teacher? Then let’s get to know each other! Tell me your story. I want to learn about you, from you. For only you can teach me that.

Now that Scott told me about PMs, I’d be happy to swap stories with everyone there.

So, are you in?

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Posted: 24 October 2007 11:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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<>

[ Edited: 22 January 2008 08:18 PM by zarcus ]
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Posted: 24 October 2007 11:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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<>

[ Edited: 22 January 2008 08:13 PM by zarcus ]
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Posted: 25 October 2007 09:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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dweather - 24 October 2007 09:44 PM

So, are you in?

Uh, sure.  But by the rules of this forum.  Not your rules.  I don’t assume the worst about your intentions, but am skeptical of the manner that you are scaffolding the topic.  What do you want to talk about or know about me?  Just say what you think and I’ll be happy to respond to it.  Share your story or ask what you want to know.

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Posted: 25 October 2007 01:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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dweather - 24 October 2007 09:44 PM

I’m looking for people who choose to FIRST listen.

This is why most of us asked you to share your story first.  That way we could get a better idea of what you are looking for and include those points of interest in our stories.  Are you looking for childhood upbringing?  Geographical locations?  Bloodlines?  Education?  Hobbies?  Professions?  Or do you find all these points moot in light of a deterministic Deity that made us who we are for a grander purpose?

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“It is the tension between creativity and skepticism that has produced the stunning and unexpected findings of science.” ~ Carl Sagan

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Posted: 26 October 2007 09:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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The short version is that I was raised a Baptist, and I was really devout up until I made the mistake (at about age 15) of actually reading the Bible.  I suddenly discovered that all those stories they told us in Sunday School were pretty broad paraphrases, and the real stories were a lot darker.  They also made a lot less sense.  I had also heard about the theory of evolution about this time (although NOT from my high school teachers, I have to add), and it made sense to me.  I began to get the idea that the Bible was not the whole story.  I still believed in God, but I figured you had to find him in nature, if at all.  I was really worried about going to Hell for a while there in my early 20s, and I visited a couple of churches, asking if there were any real way of knowing that God really, really existed.  I usually got some condescending answer like, “the fool sayeth in his heart there is no God”.

Meanwhile, just like Zarcus, I discovered to my surprise that I had become an atheist without really realizing it!  I started concentrating on finding a solid basis for morality, given that I wasn’t sure whether God existed or not.  One day I heard about Secular Humanism, and I said, “Hey, that’s ME!”  I remember one day when I just cut loose the old remains of my belief in God.  I just decided that if God wanted to talk to me, he knew where to find me.  In the meantime, I was going to get on with my life without worrying about him.

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Posted: 26 October 2007 10:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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I must admit the story of my life is quite boring, I didn’t founded an empire, I didn’t build a global sucessfully company, I didn’t write any good or best selling book, I don’t know to play any instrument and neither I didn’t murder people. My story is very common: I was born in 1975 in a southamerican midle-low class family, I went to the school, then I went to college where I got a degree on software engeneering, I did a post degree study in economics, I married six years ago, I have a baby son.

My family is catholic (mixed italian and spanish), and I was raised as catholic. My mom is also left winged and catholic (not weird mix here in southamerican), she was (and still is) very concerned about the poverty and the living of the poors. She taught me that the poverty is a big unjustice. I remember at the age of 10 wondering why god let the poors to starve if he was so good, onmipotent and careful. I think it was the begining of my atheism. My skepticism came after my atheism. At the age of 14 or 15 I realized that I could use the same method I used with the belief on god to find its fawls in paranormal beliefs. In my early teens I was willing to accept that the set of paranormal phenomena could have any real thing between tons of crap, but as my education progressed I found no value on the paranormal, and a big contradiction with a lot of well stablished knowledge.

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Posted: 26 October 2007 07:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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I’m still a bit uncertain about what you mean by story, but I’ll try to concoct some sort of narrative that relates to your inquiry.  Although you sent me a private message, I am posting my response in the regular forum.  I use this forum because I like writing frankly for others to see and respond, and I like response because I learn from it.  Although I do keep my name private out of fear of being discriminated against and persecuted by religious persons offline, there is nothing about my lack of religion that is so personal to me that I have a need to disguise it from other forum members.  I am as open to sharing my thoughts about the topic with them as I am with you and I don’t mind criticism.

First of all, when I say that I am not theistic, I am not saying anything about any particular beliefs that I have.  In so doing, I only refer to the fact that I do not have “theistic” beliefs.  That being said.  Like all humans and all other animals, I was born “not theistic.”  And, like most people who grow up in the United States, constant effort has been made to enculturate me with Christian ideas.  This has persisted unremittingly since the youngest moments that I was capable of comprehending Christian ideas, and the assault continues to this day on a daily basis.

I have always found religious ideas to be both ludicrous and socially harmful.  The main reasons stem from my parents having raised me with a care and concern for all people, which is intensely compromised by persons involved in religious practice, and my having attended school, where I learned real things about the real world.  These real things stood in direct opposition to the false things I was being told about the world by religious persons.

On the other hand, I always shared a fascination with the questions that religion asked about cosmology, ethics and self-purpose.  As an early teenager I read the bible cover to cover twice and debated it vigorously with my Sunday school teacher.  The questions were so poorly dealt with by both so-called “scriptures” and clergy that I was forced to look elsewhere for answers.

As a teenager, I rejected the hundreds of dollars and extensive verbal praise that were to come with “confirmation” when I made the decision not to be confirmed.  Despite the immense emotional abuse that I was forced to endure over the issue, I was able at bear through it in recognition of the fact that the cruelty and injustice were not mine.

When I was old enough to drive I took on the task of visiting nearly every religious institution in town in search of answers.  This process revealed a stunning ethnographic and sociological portrait, but solved none of my cosmological, ethical or self-purpose questions.  So, I obsessively studied the texts of various religions and began to independently read both eastern and western philosophy.

As an adult, my convictions about the falseness and destructiveness of religion have been heavily reinforced through continued study of philosophy, physical & social sciences and the fine arts.  Further, I have traveled extensively in countries where Christianity is not the most common religion.  This has allowed me to better recognize the cross-cultural nature of ethics and the imperative of a planetary view of ethics that transcends tribal-religious divisions.

I suppose the closest thing that I can give you to a “key event” was on September 11, 2001.  At the time I lived less then a quarter of a mile from the world trade center.  The moment the plane hit and before any commentary had appeared in the media, I knew that the cause was inseparable from religion.  And, I knew that it was not just Islam that was to blame.

[quote author=“dweather”]3) Share how your being an atheist makes your life worthwhile, more enjoyable, or not.

My atheism does not make my life more or less worthwhile.  Atheism doesn’t do anything because it isn’t something.  It is only a lack of something.  Life makes life worthwhile.  Nobody needs religion or atheism to understand that.

I love life.  I love humanity.  I care deeply about helping others in any genuinely helpful way that I can.  Religion can be a considerable obstacle to these values.

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Posted: 26 October 2007 09:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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dweather - 24 October 2007 09:44 PM

So, are you in?

 

As I mentioned in another thread, it was explained to me when I was in elementary school by neighbors going to the Catholic school that non-Catholics go to hell.  Perhaps I took it as a challenge to prove I was even more religious than they were, and through junior high & high school was a very diligent & literal Anglican. I would walk with my younger sister to church and sit up front in the first pew—very strange as I think about it after all these years, since we went without our parents.  I now very much regret enhancing the credibility of religion in my sister’s mind.  Dawkins mentions how wrong it is for parents to indoctrinate children, but I don’t think he mentions how children mistakenly follow each other as well.

I gradually became convinced that the Old Testament was garbled and that whatever truth was in it had been lost over the years.  Noah and the flood is impossible.  It is obvious that evolution makes more sense than the literal story in the Bible.  However, I still thought the New Testament was true because it said so (like Lennox in the Lennox-Dawkins debate).  In college I attended church.

At our graduation Richard Feynman spoke about [Cargo Cult Science]. At the time I listened to this as a homily about science, and did not think of its implications for skeptcism to religion.

I enjoyed reading Stephen J. Gould’s columns in Natural History, just as I had enjoyed the columns of Isaac Asimov when I was a teenager interested in science.  I also read and reread the Dawkins book the Blind Watchmaker.

In the last twenty years I became aware of the works of John Shelby Spong.  How a great deal of the New Testament is written as sermons to fit the Jewish Calendar.  Midrash.  How stuff like the virgin birth are not true.  How in fact many theologians do not believe the Resurrection is “literally true”, but that there is “more than one kind of truth”.  I eventually decided that the popularity of Mormonism, an obvious fraud,  proved the gullibility of humanity and undermined the credibility of all religions including Christianity.

You are probably aware of the [Fermi Paradox - Link] - if extraterrestial life is common, “Where are they?”

Similarly, we have to ask—“if God exists—where is He?”
I currently think that if God existed and he wanted us to worship Him, he would make it somewhat clearer (especially to people belonging to ‘other’ religions) .  It very much appears to me that we are supposed to act as if we were on our own. I don’t discount the exist of a Deist-type God who is hands-off. 

I would mention that if there isn’t a Heaven or a Hell, we cannot ignore our moral responsibility to treat people better in this life.

[ Edited: 26 October 2007 11:05 PM by Jackson ]
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Posted: 27 October 2007 10:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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[quote author=“dweather”]You express several times in your narrative of having strong, negative emotions and experiences toward things religious. For example, you wrote: “the assault continues to this day on a daily basis.” If you don’t mind, will you tell me specifically what you mean? Give some examples?

Well, I live in New York so examples are easy.  On my way to work yesterday morning I was approached by two Jehovah’s Witnesses.  When I politely stated that I was not interested in their group eyes were rolled and rude comments were made.  Later in the afternoon I rode the subway, where I was preached at by screaming hate-mongers about how I, and other random folk on the train, were going to burn in hell for not “accepting” Jesus.  I hadn’t said a word to them.  Also on the street, yesterday, I encountered a group called the Twelve Tribers who were ranting on soap box, literally, about how they were the true Jews, the “other” Jews were impostors, and how we all need to divide into our racial-cultural tribes and prepare for a final confrontation.  These guys had quite a physically intimidating stare.  Next I enountered two mormons who approached me wanting to have a “talk.”  Yes, this all really happened yesterday.

Why do I have negative feelings toward religious ideas?  That’s an immense can of worms.  Where should I begin?  Monotheistic authoritarianism, scripture, clerical authoritarianism, in group/out-group division, class structure in society, superstition, etc.?

[quote author=“dweather”]I won’t defend or make excuses for religion/religious people. That’s not why I’m here. But I will say this, and it may sound weird, but I’d like to apologize to you for that. No one should have to go through what you experienced. You had valid concerns and questions.

You have nothing to do with it so please don’t apologize.  I actually have no animosity toward any religious persons, not even them at this stage in my life.  Only toward the bad ideas that mislead them.  I care deeply about their emotionally disturbed state and would like to see them receive proper psychiatric assistance.

[quote author=“dweather”]You deserved straight answers! I am also sorry for the way “christians” have misrepresented Christ.  What happened really didn’t look like Jesus, did it?

I got straight answers.  Just that none of them were good because there aren’t good ones.  I don’t think that anyone misrepresents any sort of christ because I’m rather convinced that there isn’t and wasn’t one.  Nothing really looks like Jesus because he is a made up story, “he” doesn’t look like anything.

[quote author=“dweather”]Now I was not raised catholic (did I get that right?) like you, but I know a bit how you feel because I got a similar kind of treatment you described. I was ridiculed and called “stupid” for my questions as a teen. As an adult, I was badgered for ten years by family wanting me to return to church. I never did go back because of any of that. But that’s a long story, better told another time…

Let me also say I am glad you still seem open to talking with “believers.” I hope you and I can reach a point where you might consider that we’re all not a bunch of destructive jerks.

I think that religious ideas are destructive, but you are not these religious ideas.  You are a human just like me.  I care deeply about all humans and all other animals.  Religious belief itself is the destructive jerk.

[quote author=“dweather”]Are you willing to share more with us on the forum about yourself? I for one would like to listen and learn from you.

I am very confused by these statements.  Type erasmusinfinity into the search field up above and see for yourself.

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Posted: 27 October 2007 12:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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erasmusinfinity - 27 October 2007 10:03 AM

I think that religious ideas are destructive, but you are not these religious ideas.  You are a human just like me.  I care deeply about all humans and all other animals.  Religious belief itself is the destructive jerk.

I like that, erasmus. Well said.

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Posted: 27 October 2007 12:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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[quote author=“dweather”]
What I would like to do is read more about your own story. Are you willing to share more with us on the forum about yourself? I for one would like to listen and learn from you.

I think it makes sense for you to go to the introduction, write something about yourself, review introductions others have already made, and go from there. If you are a Scientologist, a Unitarian, or an artificial intelligence computer program, just give us the context.

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Posted: 27 October 2007 01:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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You’re right, Jackson. I should’ve gone to the Intros and done that from the start. I’ll do that now.

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