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On discussions between the spiritual, the atheist, and the religious

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posted on Sep, 27 2008 @ 01:30 AM
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Here's my personal position:

I do not believe in God. I do believe that there is more to the world than the physical, and that there are patterns in the universe which are mirrored in the microcosm and that are powers greater than ourselves.

I believe that nearly every organized religion that has ever been has provided its followers a means to sense, like seeing out of the corner of an eye, these patterns. I believe that they are all based in Truth, and that they are all metaphors for how the spiritual and physical universes touch each other.

I believe that nearly every organized religion that has ever been has had terrible deeds perpetrated in its name.

Here's my question:

On these boards and elsewhere, I often see religious people (mostly Christians) who claim that their's is the only true belief attacked for this statement.

I see atheists angrily decrying organized religion for saying that they will not be saved.

I see atheists stating with confidence that only stupid sheeple who cannot question authority and are at the mercy of a clerical hierarchy believe in God and religion.

How is this any more acceptable than saying that atheists are not saved?

I understand the anger some people have at organized religion. But to say that all believers are stupid and incapable of logical thought is such an inflammatory, prejudicial, absurd statement, yet I see it being made over and over, and starred, and backed up, and no one seems to see how hate-filled it is.

Am I the only agnostic/atheist who sees this?




posted on Sep, 27 2008 @ 03:06 AM
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i think its because the discussion goes beyond logic and reasoning. its emotional, and alot of people invest alot of emotion in their beliefs.

whenever you are in a debate and the opposite side fails to see what so blatantly you see, it can be frustrating, whether you are an atheist talking to a christian or a christian talking to a christian, or vice versa.

what makes it worse is that there are people out there who are unreasonable. they believe what they want to believe. ¨there is no evidence of...¨ is ridiculas to say. of course there is evidence of evolution. there is evidence of god too. but once you accept the evidence on both sides, then you have to look for proof. people have a hard time doing that, especially when they want to believe in something.

whenever a debate degrades, the younger the people participating get (myself included).

all the mud then comes out. for atheists, they call christians sheeple, for christians, they say atheists are going to hell (which they shouldnt say because they are not judges). its like kids in a playground.

as for the particular point about whether or not one´s religion is the only true religion, well i think its logical for a person to believe that. if they believe that god commands us to act a certain way for salvation, then it would be logical to believe that point. it doesnt mean that you (person outside that belief) has to subscribe to that. just like a christian doesnt usually believe that he doesnt need to be saved.



posted on Sep, 27 2008 @ 09:17 AM
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My beliefs are pretty much the same as yours and I always respect a person's right to follow whichever religion they choose. After all, they all work for somebody.

I do get some fun out of debating what I see as the contradictions and lack of logic in some christian beliefs, but I'd always defend someone's right to decide for themselves what their religion should be.

My problem is with people who insist on trying to convert everyone else. I can see that part of their concern may be for other people's welfare in the afterlife, but I don't think that's a good enough excuse.

I object, too, to the way these people assume that everyone else 'needs' to be saved without first asking what their beliefs are, or trying to ascertain how far up the spiritual path the other person may be.

My feeling is that part of the reason for religious intolerance is that some people suspect that their god will only exist if enough people believe in him - hence the need for conversions.

I think the 'trick' is to align oneself with the powers that exist independently of humanity's belief in them.

I've had some marvellous results from approaching the right power and asking for help in times of need - and I've always remembered to express gratitude afterwards.

Edit to add: This is just my experience - don't want to appear to be commiting the same error I've just been complaining about.

I think there is a need to teach ethics in schools and let religion be taught at home and in the temples (of whatever persuasion). A strong moral grounding might dissuade people from showing the lack of respect you're (rightly) so concerned about.



[edit on 27-9-2008 by berenike]



posted on Sep, 27 2008 @ 10:58 AM
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Thanks for the responses


Originally posted by Miriam0566

i think its because the discussion goes beyond logic and reasoning. its emotional, and alot of people invest alot of emotion in their beliefs.


I agree with this. I think this is exactly why we should all be extra careful in debates about belief. I think it's wonderful and important to feel strongly about your beliefs, whatever they are. But as you so insightfully noted, it's really frustrating to try and convince someone of something that is so clearly true to you, but that they don't see at all.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could learn from that experience of frustration how it must feel for the other side to try to talk to us? I think AboveTopSecret is all about opening our minds (which doesn't mean changing our minds, necessarily). And I think that most of us do that, even with religion. But I think when the devout Christians refuse to acknowledge other peoples' rights to believe differently, they get called on it (and rightfully so). Whereas when atheists denigrate anyone who believes in God, or belongs to an organized religion, they get away with it.


Originally posted by berenike

My feeling is that part of the reason for religious intolerance is that some people suspect that their god will only exist if enough people believe in him - hence the need for conversions.


Interesting theory, I hadn't thought of that. Do you think that could account for some of the intolerance on the part of atheists too -- fear that if too many people believe in God, He will exist?

I think you're right on with what you say about people who feel the need to convert others. I'm not giving them a free pass on this. I just see them get blasted for their bigotry much more often than I see the fervently anti-religious get blasted for theirs.

Good to know I'm not alone



posted on Sep, 27 2008 @ 11:07 AM
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Originally posted by americandingbat

On these boards and elsewhere, I often see religious people (mostly Christians) who claim that their's is the only true belief attacked for this statement.

(Hope I did that quote thingie right. I keep playing with it trying to figure it out)

There was a show years ago that, I think, was called, "To Tell The Truth". It would have 3 guys lined up and each one would say, "I'm Joe Smith" (or whatever name) and then the next one would say, "No, I'M Joe Smith", and the 3rd one would do the same. It was up to the contestant to ask each guy questions about "Joe Smith" (of which they were given only general information) and try to figure out which one was the actual Joe Smith. The guys were supposed to convince the questioner they were the real Joe Smith and would lie, deceive, invent convincing stories, etc. to throw the questioner off. Even after the questioner was sure of the correct identity, they would be surprised to learn that they had chosen incorrectly. The odd thing was, there actually was a real Joe Smith standing right in front of them but they never knew him.

Religions in the world have long operated in the same manner. There is a real savior (and only one) right in front of us telling us plainly, "I am the way, the truth and the life...". Still, we question the imposters, like their looks better, prefer the donuts they serve or choose poorly based on any number of superfluous reasons. The baffled still cry, "will the real savior please stand up?" and behold, there He is, standing at the door to our hearts and knocking.



posted on Sep, 27 2008 @ 12:08 PM
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reply to post by americandingbat
 


"Interesting theory, I hadn't thought of that. Do you think that could account for some of the intolerance on the part of atheists too -- fear that if too many people believe in God, He will exist? "

That gave me such a laugh - there's something I hadn't thought of. You might well be right, especially given some of the gods or versions of God an atheist might find themselves presented with.



posted on Sep, 27 2008 @ 12:27 PM
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berenike

" if enough believe in God "

I disagree because true followers are supposed to have faith which means if they were the only believer on earth then they should still believe because (popularity) is not what made them believe in the first place.


Now as for OP, I agree. very sincere soul. And Miriam is a wise woman, I like the responses.


If christians want you to be saved, it's truly out of their hearts. I mean If I found a villiage that was so beautiful and only I knew about it, would I not want to tell my fellow human? And I would never stop trying to persuade them. But in the end some people you have to leave to themselves and pray from afar.

Shoot, I could wind up going to hell and an athiest on this board could wind up a super saint. never know what's going to happen.


As for Athiest. I believe some of them are shallow and attack religious people because of their insecurities that attack their shallow lifestyle. Some don't want God to be real and use the accusation theory constantly to keep pushing off his existing by attacking others. And some just don't believe but don't attack people.


Now the Christians who say you are going to hell. It's unclear what tone they are using it in. Like say I said to someone: If you go near the train track and saty there you're gonna die. Thats not a judgement but a true statement. So some say: If you keep sinning you will wind up in hell, yet not from a judgement but of concern.


others, and Iv'e seen this pride in christians myself, are just full of themselves and aren't practicing Gods favorite virtue (humility).


peace.



posted on Sep, 27 2008 @ 06:41 PM
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Originally posted by JesusisTruth

berenike

" if enough believe in God "

I disagree because true followers are supposed to have faith which means if they were the only believer on earth then they should still believe because (popularity) is not what made them believe in the first place.



What I said was:

"My feeling is that part of the reason for religious intolerance is that some people suspect that their god will only exist if enough people believe in him - hence the need for conversions".

I agree with what you say about true followers. I was talking about the possible doubts that might make some people more likely to be intolerant of other views and beliefs.

I'm saying that if a god exists independently of human belief then that god will exist if no-one believes. Plus, if one person believes in that god against everyone else's disbelief, then good for that one person.

If, on the other hand a god has been 'invented' then as many converts as possible are needed to make it 'real'. The bigger the religion, the harder it is to oppose it.



posted on Sep, 27 2008 @ 09:03 PM
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reply to post by americandingbat
 



I believe that many atheists make this statement because, the theist conditioning is so ingrained in the consciousness of society. This conditioning creates a grasping of the ego, that when confronted, it creates strong emotions in the hearts of those that have made a choice to be free of it.

In other words it's a process, and some are unaware of this process and therefore are held back spiritually due to this anger. I believe that we all are going to the same place, others just have differing obstacles to overcome, and different maps to get to get there.

Thank you for offering this wonderful notice.



posted on Sep, 28 2008 @ 03:59 AM
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Originally posted by americandingbat
But I think when the devout Christians refuse to acknowledge other peoples' rights to believe differently, they get called on it (and rightfully so).


ill be honest, i think the problem is political correctness. we live in a world where it is wrong to say to a person ¨i think your wrong¨

nothing wrong with the phrase, but it´s powerful enough that people get bent out of shape when told that.

i mean lets face the fact here, we all know that in life, sometimes a question has a right answer and a ton of wrong answers. but society as a whole doesnt know what to do when someone picks out a wrong answer.

do we call him out on it? or do we out of respect let him continue his line of thinking?

but i honestly dont think its as simple as that. ego, desire, pride are also driving forces that make people come to conclusions. we like to think that we are all reasonable and that we base conclusions on available facts, but we dont. alot of times we believe things because we want to believe them (both christians and atheists)



posted on Sep, 29 2008 @ 03:58 AM
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Originally posted by JesusisTruth
As for Athiest. I believe some of them are shallow and attack religious people because of their insecurities that attack their shallow lifestyle. Some don't want God to be real and use the accusation theory constantly to keep pushing off his existing by attacking others. And some just don't believe but don't attack people.

Now the Christians who say you are going to hell. It's unclear what tone they are using it in. Like say I said to someone: If you go near the train track and saty there you're gonna die. Thats not a judgement but a true statement. So some say: If you keep sinning you will wind up in hell, yet not from a judgement but of concern.

others, and Iv'e seen this pride in christians myself, are just full of themselves and aren't practicing Gods favorite virtue (humility).


Thanks for your response, JesusisTruth. First off, I want to agree with you (more or less, anyway) on the point about humility. I don't know about it being God's favorite virtue, but I do think it is both the least understood and least practiced virtue in our society, and the one virtue which directly improves our ability to be virtuous in any other way. I think we confuse humility with humiliation and think that it is antithetical to individuality, when the opposite is the case. When I first started to learn about humility, I was convinced that I was humble, because I thought I wasn't worth much at all. A teacher told me that that was not humility; it meant I believed myself to be "the piece of s*** at the center of the universe." True humility is to find your actual size and place in the world, to learn that not everything is about yourself. And I think we do a rotten job teaching our kids that, or even learning it ourselves.

I understand and appreciate that when Christians express a wish that I will find salvation, it is usually with genuine love and caring; as you say, it is because they have found something that they wish to share. What I object to is when it either is expressed as self-righteousness, or in a patronizing way. Sometimes it might be best to pray for people to find their way, without necessarily telling them you're going to do so. (that being the general "you"; I'm not saying that I've seen you particularly do this).

I think you're right that often when atheists launch a generalized attack against believers, it's because they're threatened and don't want God to exist. That's what makes me so sad. Because so often it is paired with accusations that Christians are trying to tell them what to believe, yet they are at the same time trying to tell everyone else what to not believe.

It reminds me of the early American Puritan colonies, where people who had immigrated from the Old World to escape religious prosecution promptly put into effect laws barring non-puritans from full participation in civil life.


Originally posted by eye open doors
I believe that many atheists make this statement because, the theist conditioning is so ingrained in the consciousness of society. This conditioning creates a grasping of the ego, that when confronted, it creates strong emotions in the hearts of those that have made a choice to be free of it.

In other words it's a process, and some are unaware of this process and therefore are held back spiritually due to this anger. I believe that we all are going to the same place, others just have differing obstacles to overcome, and different maps to get to get there.

Thank you for offering this wonderful notice.


You make a good point. I was raised virtually without theistic conditioning, which may be why I'm so sensitive to this point. Where I grew up, religion or the lack thereof had really very little affect on my social world; in fact until well into my teens I basically assumed people didn't believe in God until they specifically told me otherwise. To me, the prevalence of skepticism on ATS is nothing new.

So I have a hard time understanding the hatred and fear toward organized religion that I see in some atheists' posts.

Thank you for reading and taking time to contribute.


Originally posted by miriam0566
ill be honest, i think the problem is political correctness. we live in a world where it is wrong to say to a person ¨i think your wrong¨


I agree that a lot of the problem is down to political correctness (and it's not often you'll see me say that, since I'm a bleeding-heart liberal). I also think this ties back in to the humility issue.

We make other peoples' beliefs be about ourselves. What does it matter to me if someone else believes that God became man and gave his life for my sins? I can do one of two things: obsess that in that belief system I may not be saved, and get angry at them; or try and learn about the belief because it is held by my fellow human. The first option is all about me: how does your belief reflect on me? The second is about opening to the world around the self: what do you believe about the world?

Anyway, thanks all for the great responses



posted on Sep, 29 2008 @ 05:39 AM
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Originally posted by americandingbat
I agree that a lot of the problem is down to political correctness (and it's not often you'll see me say that, since I'm a bleeding-heart liberal). I also think this ties back in to the humility issue.

We make other peoples' beliefs be about ourselves. What does it matter to me if someone else believes that God became man and gave his life for my sins? I can do one of two things: obsess that in that belief system I may not be saved, and get angry at them; or try and learn about the belief because it is held by my fellow human. The first option is all about me: how does your belief reflect on me? The second is about opening to the world around the self: what do you believe about the world?


thats a great point. however unfortunately it looks better on paper than in practice.

jesus commanded us to preach the gospel. keyword: preach. JW knocks on your door, then you ask then to leave. they may return, but then you ask them to leave again. this affects you (as an atheist) little more than an annoyance at your door.

so christians go to extremes in an attempt to impose their beliefs on others. sometimes its more extreme than others. can anyone honestly believe that jesus would bless something like a crusade?

but atheist are guilty of similar impositions like verbal attacks, insults etc etc

it really is inconsequential what others believe, your right




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