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Prayer
Posted: 18 October 2009 07:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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F451,

Violence is certainly declining. Steven Pinker explains it very clearly in his presentation titled On the Myth of Violence on TED.

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Posted: 18 October 2009 10:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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George - 29 August 2009 12:43 PM

I prefer to sit around a campfire with a guitar or with a piano at a dinner party, and “synchronize” with family and friends through music.

I think playing music with others is the closest we can get to collective ‘oneness’ ~ it’s the nearest thing to a ‘perfect’ group activity there is, imo :)  I find it especially moving/powerful when there are no words involved…..

Because then, it’s not about discussing ‘issues’, it’s not about belief or lack of belief, it can be completely lacking in ‘hierarchy’ and the only things required are cooperation and participation.  The result is something more beautiful and emotionally satisfying than anything else I can think of…...and something that can only exist/be created by the group.

There’s a purity in that that can’t be achieved through anything else imo :)

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‘we are so fundamentally constituted of desire that we go on hearing music…...even though we know the band is gone and the stage is silent’

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Posted: 18 October 2009 10:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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F451 - 18 October 2009 06:48 PM

I prefer DOING to PRAYING. Tends to work better the first way.


I appreciate (and agree) with your sentiment…...except for the fact that it’s not necessarily a ‘one or the other’ proposition.

One can do both ~ action, imo, is always of primary importance, but engaging in some kind of ‘collective meditation’ on something specific (in this case, the firefighters) can provide an emotionally satisfying feeling of consolation and bonding as well.

And as others have already said, this prayer/meditation doesn’t need any reference to deities to have this effect.

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‘we are so fundamentally constituted of desire that we go on hearing music…...even though we know the band is gone and the stage is silent’

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Posted: 18 October 2009 10:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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George - 18 October 2009 07:35 PM

F451,

Violence is certainly declining. Steven Pinker explains it very clearly in his presentation titled On the Myth of Violence on TED.

Is it really? I’ve read bits and pieces of the book, but I’m not convinced. Already 3 kids have been killed in my city this week. There were 4 murder stories on the news last night alone! And don’t forget the aforementioned Africa and the Middle East. Violence is also verbal, and the amount of verbal abuse launched every day is uncountable. No, I’m quite convinced that man is a violent animal.

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“I just want someone to hear what I have to say. And maybe if I talk long enough, it’ll make sense.”

- Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

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Posted: 18 October 2009 10:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Why would you want to do both. Moving forward should be the top priority of people. To often our species looks to and lives in the past, when the future is unwritten. The past is done. The future is dangerous, unknown and variable.

Why do people have to bond? Is prayer really the best means to form bound relationships with our fellow man? Or could something else that is more valuable and more worth my time exist?

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“I just want someone to hear what I have to say. And maybe if I talk long enough, it’ll make sense.”

- Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

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Posted: 18 October 2009 11:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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F451 - 18 October 2009 10:59 PM

Why do people have to bond? Is prayer really the best means to form bound relationships with our fellow man? Or could something else that is more valuable and more worth my time exist?


‘Why do people have to bond?’  do you really have no idea?  seriously?

Who said prayer is the ‘best’ means to form bond relationships?  It’s one way.  Just because it may not be the ‘best’ or ‘only’ way doesn’t mean it’s worthless.

Certainly there are other things to ‘do’ (doing being the essential aspect here) that may be ‘more valuable’ ~ but again, that doesn’t mean that the activity in question has NO value.  I don’t think anyone here is suggesting engaging in prayer/collective ‘meditation’ instead of ‘doing’ something else.

I’m not quite sure what you’re objecting to here.

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‘we are so fundamentally constituted of desire that we go on hearing music…...even though we know the band is gone and the stage is silent’

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Posted: 19 October 2009 06:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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F451 - 18 October 2009 10:55 PM
George - 18 October 2009 07:35 PM

F451,

Violence is certainly declining. Steven Pinker explains it very clearly in his presentation titled On the Myth of Violence on TED.

Is it really? I’ve read bits and pieces of the book, [...]

What book?

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Posted: 19 October 2009 04:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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George - 19 October 2009 06:55 AM
F451 - 18 October 2009 10:55 PM
George - 18 October 2009 07:35 PM

F451,

Violence is certainly declining. Steven Pinker explains it very clearly in his presentation titled On the Myth of Violence on TED.

Is it really? I’ve read bits and pieces of the book, [...]

What book?

How the Mind Works.


However what I had meant to say, was I had seen the TED Video. That book has nothing to do with this topic I think…

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“I just want someone to hear what I have to say. And maybe if I talk long enough, it’ll make sense.”

- Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

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Posted: 20 October 2009 09:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Gary, referring to your opening post, you’re right. We cannot replace something with nothing, especially not an emotionally powerful something.

Human beings need solace, ritual and things of that kind. Some very long and scholarly books are available just on the subject of ritual, which isn’t just about gods and the supernatural by any stretch of the imagination. I have been arguing for years that if we hope to grow Humanism, we need to incorporate the best aspects of these practices into our own.

Gary, you have the inspiration of the moment, at least I hope you still have it. Construct something that you think would fit the bill. The more things like this we have, the stronger our position will be to grow.

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I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

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Posted: 26 December 2009 03:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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George - 29 August 2009 10:02 PM

A community of a million people expressing a grief over a death of two firefighters are not really expressing a grief, but a mass hysteria. So perhaps a prayer is necessary in these situations. I dunno, not my cup of tea…

I don’t buy this one. It denies the importance and value of community and of shared values and shared emotions. It also, by implication, denies validity to all mourning of a loved one or friend or community member. These have nothing to do with religion, but shared humanity.
A community that comes together to symbolically mourn the loss of two of it’s firefighters does a very healthy and positive thing for everyone in that community and it helps us move on with our lives after such a traumatic loss.

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Posted: 26 December 2009 03:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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PLaClair - 20 October 2009 09:04 AM

Gary, referring to your opening post, you’re right. We cannot replace something with nothing, especially not an emotionally powerful something.

Human beings need solace, ritual and things of that kind. Some very long and scholarly books are available just on the subject of ritual, which isn’t just about gods and the supernatural by any stretch of the imagination. I have been arguing for years that if we hope to grow Humanism, we need to incorporate the best aspects of these practices into our own.

I agree with this 100%. Denying of the existence of a God, which we do, says nothing of about culture, family, humanity, emotion, loss, ritual. These things are not dependent on religion and as atheists we share a need for all of these things just as much as any religious people.
Atheists who wish to see a growth in our number and an enlightenment among the masses need to understand this and show them that we understand this.


On prayer. I see no problem whatsoever with prayer. Religion does not have the monopoly on prayer. As human beings we face so many daily challenges and obstacles and emotional barriers. We face loss of friends, family. We face death. We need to express those feelings and we need to cling to hope of a better day. Praying for comfort, for hope and change is one of the most human things we can do. We don’t pray to a God. We pray as an expression of humanity and hope.

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Posted: 26 December 2009 03:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Hmmm ... the apparent verbal structure of a prayer is as a petition, that is, as a request asking someone for something. So there is a problem on its face, if we are to use prayer in a way that isn’t asking anyone for anything.

Firstly, it raises the obvious question: what is the point of prayer if it isn’t actually a petition? Why utter something with that form? Why use a form that originates within a religious tradition that was making petitions to a personal God? Why not use another form?

Secondly, and more importantly, it will be misunderstood, if not by the careful atheist making the prayer, by later humanists who follow. If the method of utterance is misleading or confusing (as a prayer utterance would be) people will tend to bend it towards a theistic interpretation sooner or later. As I and others have discussed elsewhere, there is a natural biological tendency to view the world in terms of agency: that persons are behind the manifold events we see around us. By phrasing our psychological needs in terms of petitions to unseen and unknown powerful persons, we fall into the trap of incipient personalization of the impersonal forces that surround us. We have to be careful not to do that.

So while I do think that there is an element to prayer which, perhaps, can be retained in some more religious forms of atheistic humanist practice, I think anyone wanting to do so should strive to be particularly careful as to how to phrase the thing. E.g., “I hope for ...”, or “I will strive to achieve ...” rather than “I ask (you) for ...”

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Posted: 26 December 2009 04:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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scepticeye - 26 December 2009 03:26 PM
George - 29 August 2009 10:02 PM

A community of a million people expressing a grief over a death of two firefighters are not really expressing a grief, but a mass hysteria. So perhaps a prayer is necessary in these situations. I dunno, not my cup of tea…

I don’t buy this one. It denies the importance and value of community and of shared values and shared emotions. It also, by implication, denies validity to all mourning of a loved one or friend or community member. These have nothing to do with religion, but shared humanity.
A community that comes together to symbolically mourn the loss of two of it’s firefighters does a very healthy and positive thing for everyone in that community and it helps us move on with our lives after such a traumatic loss.

Maybe I am wrong. I know that I couldn’t do it because I even find it strange when applauding with hundreds of others in a theatre. I have always found mourning and other such feelings as very personal, ones that I prefer to respond to when I am alone or with those who are very close to me.

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Posted: 27 December 2009 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Axegrrl - 18 October 2009 10:46 PM

I think playing music with others is the closest we can get to collective ‘oneness’ ~ it’s the nearest thing to a ‘perfect’ group activity there is, imo smile  I find it especially moving/powerful when there are no words involved…..

In high school the   music program (including high school band competitions but also just band and orchestra) give the students a chance to work together on a large group organized activity, which is important.

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Posted: 29 December 2009 09:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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I don’t play an instrument, but I love music and have been attending music festivals for almost three decades. I have many memories of transcendent moments around campfires while musicians were jamming. Maybe we could replace religious indoctrination with music lessons.

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