The Insecurity of Religious Faith

Have you ever noticed exactly how insecure people of “faith” are? I’m really talking about most theistic belief systems, but my experience is primarily with Christians, so I’ll  concentrate on them. Actually, Christians seem like the most insecure people when it comes to their religious beliefs though I guess the same could be said about Muslims, those people who are so secure in their faith that they need to kill those who don’t share it. But I digress.

I’m talking about Faith with a capital “F”, not faith with a small “f”. The former is what most commentators of religion refer to when they talk about People of Faith, the latter is simply a confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing. The former describes people who believe in a higher deity that controls their lives, the latter describes an aspect of human reasoning that is primarily based on evidence. For Christians, this Faith is embodied in their Bible, but it is a faith that is subject to constant interpretation, cherry-picking and even downright ignorance, while it ignores the realities of history and science. For the latter, faith is based on the everyday experiences of human existence.

Using a very common, albeit overused but still appropriate, example, I have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow morning. Why? Primarily because in all recorded history, along with the direct experience I have gleaned from waking up for more than 19000 consecutive mornings, not once has the sun failed to rise in the morning. I therefore  have direct and indirect evidence that the sun will rise tomorrow morning. I also have significant and overwhelming scientific evidence of the workings of celestial bodies obtained from people much smarter, and far more qualified than me, to rely on. So I have a well placed faith in this belief, one supported by somewhat overwhelming evidence.

People of Faith believe in the existence of their god(s). They believe that their god(s) are responsible for their very existence, and control their future. They believe that these god(s) have emotions like their own, such as happiness, anger, and jealousy, and that those emotions must be appeased by their own human actions and thoughts. They have Faith that if they follow certain rules (often revised) from their scriptures, they will be rewarded by these happy, angry, jealous god(s) at a time that they have no ability to experience now, and have no evidence even exists – their own afterlife. They have Faith that all of this is true. Their Faith is predicated on their scripture, but must be constantly reinforced by weekly, sometimes daily, meetings with others of their Faith, meetings that are supervised by a paid religious leader whose specific job is to keep them from losing that Faith.

One would think that if their particular Faith was supportable by commonsense evidence, they would not need daily or weekly meetings to reinforce that Faith. They wouldn’t need a pastor, minister or priest, nor a religious hierarchy setting up rules and commandments designed to keep them in line. The existence of their god(s), and the Faith they placed in them, would be obvious. If their god(s) existed, there would be hard evidence of that fact. They wouldn’t need to be herded as if flocks of sheep, to use a Christian metaphor. Certainly, I have no need to attend weekly meetings of the Sun church to maintain my belief that it will rise tomorrow. The evidence all around me is there for the picking.

Now we have the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission issuing their 2008 top Ten Instances of Christian Insecurity Bashing. What could possibly explain such ludicrous whining from the most powerful, most populous, most popular religion in the world, in the history of mankind? In a word – INSECURITY.  Why would a faith, secure in its convictions, care if Bill Maher, or Jack Black are involved in films that criticize religion?  Why would they even characterize it as “bashing” unless they were afraid of the inherent truth of the “bash”? (If someone told me the sun would NOT rise tomorrow, I wouldn’t consider him a sun basher. I’d consider him a fruitcake.) Why would they say that Barack Obama is not a True Christian unless they were afraid of anyone that called themselves a Christian while at the same time deviating in small ways from the True Christian dogma? Again, INSECURITY. It’s the only explanation. The so-called War Against Christmas is another overwrought example of this mindset.

Religion is involved in the most prevalant of mass self delusions in the history of mankind. Deep down, religion knows that its Faith is not supportable by anything other than the self delusion of its adherents. It knows that when Faith is questioned in any way, the potential for a mass awakening is very real indeed.  This embodies the definition of insecurity, when a popular ideology is based on shaky, if not non-existent premises, it must strike back at any and all attempts to undermine it, for fear of self destruction.

It’s actually pathetic to see Christianity trying to convince the world that it is a minority being discriminated against like blacks, Jews, gays and atheists. Look at their Press Release:

Every day in America serious Christians face increasing hostility at work, school, and in the culture because they stand for their faith and values.

You don’t see adherents of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, (members of which  – with tongues firmly planted in cheek -  are actually a minority religion), whining about pastafarian bashing, do you? How can one even begin to sympathize with the above complaint? Obviously, it’s a Madison Avenue ploy to distract the Faithful from legitimate questioning of their Faith, in the hopes of staving off a mass exodus from religion. Religion is a Big Business, and without mindless people of Faith whipped into security in their beliefs, the cash cow will die.

So keep that in mind when you see complaints from so-called true Christians that they are being persecuted, even though the days of the lion’s den are a historical artifact. What you are seeing is a manifestation of basic human insecurity in beliefs that have no foundation.

add to del.icio.usDigg itStumble It!

free stats

Hitler

44 thoughts on “The Insecurity of Religious Faith

  1. It is frustrating and amusing isn’t, it?

    That list that they issued is laughable.

    The problem with most religion, I find, is that it fractures. How can someone not be a “True Christian.” Whenever one of their people seem to commit some crime that they cannot justify, that is the blanket excuse that they use to dismiss their actions from the plate. “They’re not a real Christian.” The problem is, all of the different sides use this same remark.

    I have a quote that amuses me about this particular topic:

    “Brother, you say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do your people differ so much about it? Why are you not all agreed, since you can all read the Book?”

    ~ Sogoyewapha “Red Jacket”

  2. American Christian cries of persecution disgust me. There are plenty of places in the world where people really are tortured, maimed and killed because of religious and political differences. Those people are the ones who are experiencing persecution. The American Christians who equate their “troubles” with tragedies like these suffer from a nasty case of penis persecution envy. Since their book tells them that they are supposed to be persecuted, they have to fabricate persecution in order to feel like they are measuring up to their deity’s expectations. Pathetic.

    You also nailed the insecurity thing. That’s why indoctrination begins at birth and often continues through home or private schooling and even into religious post-secondary institutions. It’s all about locking the next generation securely into the fold.

  3. Wow! I hope this blog isn’t only for Christian bashers! If you have not lived by faith and had a true connection of guidence by the spirit, you won’t understand faith. Also, there is such a thing as a Christian Faith that does not receive cash for service, it is all done by faith and commitment to serve a higher power and each other. If you educate yourself regarding these most important matters, you will find that the Almighty Power has total control, but allows us to choose our path. Those who are appreciative and hopeful try to tame themselves to be as gentle, meek and humble as possible. Sometimes this is mistaken for weakness, but make no mistake about it, it’s far from weak, in-fact it is much harder to be this way than to let yourself go with the flow. Just a thought about this comment made in the orignal blog.

    “One would think that if their particular Faith was supportable by commonsense evidence, they would not need daily or weekly meetings to reinforce that Faith. They wouldn’t need a pastor, minister or priest, nor a religious hierarchy setting up rules and commandments designed to keep them in line. The existence of their god(s), and the Faith they placed in them, would be obvious. If their god(s) existed, there would be hard evidence of that fact. They wouldn’t need to be herded as if flocks of sheep, to use a Christian metaphor. Certainly, I have no need to attend weekly meetings of the Sun church to maintain my belief that it will rise tomorrow. The evidence all around me is there for the picking.”

    If you took the time to find out what is true, you would realize that attending weekly meetings motivates you to try and be a better person, thus being kind and respectful. You would also realize that there is hard evidence that our God exists, your here, I am here and everything you see is here. If you think it is by chance, then you have been far too distracted to really pay attention to these miracles. If you need “common sense evidence” to make you faithful then you need to understand what the word faithful means. If you ever decide to put in the effort that is required to feel these “weak feelings”, you will never want to feel tough again. Let’s pray that this will happen so you can help the weak educate the strong! Good luck!

  4. I am not against Christianity, in general. I am against any religion that claims that they are the ONLY truth.

    I’ve read your book. I’ve read most holy texts I’ve been able to find. However, most of them preach the same general truths and the same myths. There is a general overtone that most monotheistic religions seem to possess: believe in us, or you shall surely be punished.

    If there is a deity out there, and it does happen to be the one we call YAWEH and Jesus, then I doubt that they’d nitpick about something so stupid as what we call the forces. There is no hard evidence of any religion, of any particular deity.

  5. jmaxx441:

    What makes you so sure that SI and the rest of us have not lived by faith, etc., etc., etc.? What makes you so sure that we haven’t educated ourselves about what you deem to be “these important matters?” You may be surprised, if you ever bothered to find out more about us rather than jumping to conclusions on the basis of one post and a handful of comments.

    And this bit, “If you took the time to find out what is true, you would realize that attending weekly meetings motivates you to try and be a better person, thus being kind and respectful. You would also realize that there is hard evidence that our God exists, is utterly hilarious. We have taken the time to find out what is true, and it certainly is not contained in the superstitious elements of religious dogma. We have examined the so-called evidence of God’s existence and found it lacking, to say the least.

    I’ll tell you what – you can pray for whatever you want, if it makes you feel good to do so. As for me, I’ll skip the praying and spend my time doing something useful in the world.

  6. If you have not lived by faith and had a true connection of guidence by the Great Spirit, you won’t understand faith. Also, there is such a thing as a Lakota Faith that does not receive cash for service, it is all done by faith and commitment to serve a higher power, the Great Buffalo, and each other. If you educate yourself regarding these most important matters, you will find that the Almighty Wakantanka has total control, but allows us to choose our path. Hokahey!

  7. Karen Armstrong makes the same point: “Every single radical religious movement that I have studied has been inspired by a profound fear of annihilation. Rightly or wrongly, fundamentalists in all three of the Abrahamic faiths are convinced that the secularist establishment wants to wipe them out, and they have decided to fight back.”

  8. You would also realize that there is hard evidence that our God exists, your here, I am here and everything you see is here. If you think it is by chance, then you have been far too distracted to really pay attention to these miracles.

    Assuming that Jinx isn’t a drive-by Christian, I will respond.

    The fact that we are here merely means that we are here by a process that we cannot fully comprehend. The fact that I am breathing right now is not evidence for The God of the Bible (hereinafter TGOTB).

    We do know that ours is but one of a number of planets orbiting a star that is one of billions in a galaxy that is itself one of billions. To think that our tiny planet is the central front in some cosmic war between good and evil is absolutely ludicrous. Apparently, TGOTB just made the rest of the universe for window dressing.

    And you know what, is is chance that we are here. If a large asteroid had slammed into the Earth 10,000 years ago, none of us would be here right now. We do know from studying the geologic record that the Earth, as well as many other bodies in the solar system, have had massive impacts. Just look at the moon or Mercury. Now, what kind of intelligently designed universe was cooked up by this TGOTB that supposedly cares about us would have planet killing asteroids bouncing around like that?

    Lastly, ever notice that the things generally accepted to be good behavior, such as not stealing, not murdering or assaulting people, not lying, cheating et cetera, can be engaged in by religious and nonreligious people alike? But it’s the crazy shit that somehow needs religious belief in order to be accepted, like using separate color coded sponges so that you don’t use the same sponge to clean a pan that had a dairy product in it and a pan that had a meat product in it, like believing that a communion wafer literally becomes the body of Jesus Christ when it enters a Catholic’s mouth, or that women should wear clothing that literally covers them from head to foot.

  9. “Every day in America serious Christians face increasing hostility at work, school, and in the culture because they stand for their faith and values.”

    I absolutely hate it when Christians try to act as if they’re being persecuted. And it’s not just because they’re the majority and they have no right to complain. I’ve had several instances where at school, I’ve told who I THOUGHT where friendly people I’m atheist, and what do I get? “How can you NOT believe in God?!” “You know that you’re going to hell because of that, right?” “You’re wrong. You’re totally wrong. Jesus is the only way.”

    After I get all this, after being told I’m going to hell (which is rather disrespectful no matter what you believe), what do I say about their beliefs? What do I say about turning into dust when you die and nothing being up there but stars and planets? What do I say about religion being a whole, huge fairy tale?

    Nothing. Because if I do, all of the sudden I’m persecuting them. It’s a load of bull.

  10. Many if not all of the Christians I know have never read the bible in full. I have, several times. I am Autistic, so I actually believed I may go to Hell for Masturbating. So I read that accursed book over and over and made it my business to understand it. I did not find God. All I found were the paranoid ramblings of bronze age goat herds and barely coherent blathers of tribal priests desperate to keep their tribe’s assets intact as the Jewish Diaspora wandered the desert. If it was the perfect word of God, there would be no inconsistencies. There are many inconsistencies in both the New and Old testament. If it was the perfect word of a loving God, there would be evidence of God’s Love all the way through. Instead it is a misogynistic filth bucket filled with double standards and callousness. Read Job and what happened to his wives and you’ll see what I mean.
    Christianity is built on the pillars of human stupidity, xenophobia and sloth. It is an evil book and it has spawned an evil religion.

  11. I didn’t even read past the first paragraph of this essay, because you condemned Muslims as “those people who are so secure in their faith that they need to kill those who don’t share it”. A very good friend of mine is Muslim—her grandfather, in fact, was a Tunisian revolutionary—and her family is one of the kindest, most peaceful and hospitable groups that I’ve ever talked with. Just because the corporate media pushes images of suicide-bombing Iraqis and AK-47-wielding Saudis DOES NOT MEAN THAT EVERYONE WHO FOLLOWS THE MUSLIM FAITH IS READY TO KILL. These people are FUNDAMENTALISTS, in the same way that the Christians you speak of are, and should not be taken as representative of the whole religion. There are plenty of Modernist Christians who accept evolutionary theory, with God in mind, and there are numerous Muslims who would never dream of strapping dynamite to themselves. You are disrespecting these people by lumping them in with the more ignorant and insecure members of their blanket religion. I do not mean this comment as an attack, but a constructive piece of criticism—please take it as such, and do not bring ignorance upon yourself. The governments and news organizations of today will never give you truth; please don’t allow yourself to be brainwashed.

  12. Alex, when your female Muslim Tunisian friend can walk any street in Saudi Arabia in western clothing without being harrassed, drop us a line.

  13. Well, Alex, thank you. You actually make a very good point.

    It’s not correct to confuse the adherents of a religion with the religion itself. As you point out there are many very fine Muslims who are horrified by the some of the excesses of people following the same religion, just as there are many fine Christians of the same ilk. Perhaps the words I used were confusing, but I am critical of the religious thinking, not the religious person. I said:

    …though I guess the same could be said about Muslims, those people who are so secure in their faith that they need to kill those who don’t share it. But I digress.

    My particular criticism in that statement clearly is directed at “those people who are so secure in their faith that they need to kill those who don’t share it.” It doesn’t sound to me like your Muslim friend fits that description, now does it?

    Your other point about corporate media, though, I must take issue with. I’m no fan of the corporate media, especially when the news they report is slanted in favor of their corporate masters (see Fox News). Now you’re not suggesting that the suicide bombers of the Middle East, or the wingnut Islamo-fascists of Denmark and Holland who call for that those who draw cartoons to be killed, or the people that issued the Fatwa against Salman Rushdie, do not exist, do you? You’re not saying that the “corporate media” made up those stories, are you?

    Do come back and join the discussions. If you followed this blog over it’s short lifespan, I doubt you’d come to the conclusion that I hate all Muslims, or all Christians, or anybody for that matter. I’m with you in my disdain for Fundamentalist religion of all stripes. But I also think that moderate religion, and the adherents of moderate religion, gives cover to the fundamentalist nuts, and allows them to be what they are.

    Now read the rest of the post and tell us what you think, because I think you missed the point of the post.

  14. Maybe Alex, if all the good Muslims were more vocal about denouncing the shenanigans of the self-appointed spokesmen for Islam, you know, the “suicide-bombing Iraqis and AK-47-wielding Saudi” types, then perhaps non-Muslims wouldn’t lump you all together.

    The same is true for Christians. They’re equally guilty, turning a blind eye to the Robertsons and other yahoos.

    So outsiders are not deserving of shit for failing to see what’s going on inside, but rather the insiders are deserving for failing to police themselves.

    Btw, I 2nd Tommykey’s remark.

  15. jmax441:
    “If you educate yourself regarding these most important matters, you will find that the Almighty Power has total control, but allows us to choose our path.”

    I’d like to point out that what you’re suggesting is actually determinism. If the Almighty Power is sentient, omnipotent and omnipresent -that is, aware of every moment in time, past, present and future, if the Almighty Power is aware of every choice you make and knew before hand which choice you would make you’re not actually making a choice, the outcome was predetermined. If there is an omnipresent, omnipotent sentient being that knows everything and everytime than you have no free will.

    Spanish Inquisitor:

    I feel I must point out the ridiculous hypocrisy you present with this article. You too are a follower of blind Faith. You have faith in science. You are just as much a follower as any Christian. You believe what the scientific community tells you, and though you most likely have developed a stronger sense of skepticism than the Christian community you will still most likely believe what is presented to you by the scientific community. Certainly scientific progress is supported by vast amounts of evidence but have you ever seen a neutrino with your own eyes? Have you witnessed special relativity first hand? So you are presented with science supported by evidence. Do you question the evidence and try to reproduce the conditions to prove it yourself? No you do not. You take it on faith because it was presented by scientists.

    So the Christian community is insecure. That makes sense. Wouldn’t you be insecure if an entire community of people told you your DEFINITION OF REALITY IS FALSE? Religion has been a way for human beings to define their collective realities for the majority of human history. Now science is replacing that. Science is just another way to define reality. It only makes sense that those that practice the old definition of reality should feel threatened. Science is essentially a religion, a religion with loads of evidence backing it up, but a religion all the same. Now I will admit that Science is a much healthier religion because it’s constantly evolving. This is a much better influence on human development than the western religions that stagnate the mind with unquestioning belief and discouraging critical thinking and logic.

    I look forward to seeing what the future brings. I can only hope in the next century science will become more widespread than Christianity.

  16. Thanks Paul. I assume you agree with me on my capital “F”/small “f” distinction. My faith in science is of the small “f” variety, because I feel I have good reason to have faith in it. For instance, to date, science has tended to be more right than wrong when it attempts to describe and explain reality. And when it’s wrong, and shown to be wrong, it admits it, goes back to the drawing board, and attempts to figure out why. Just because I have never seen a neutrino, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have some, albeit conditional, faith that it exists, given the track record of scientists so far. And at this point, I don’t hear anyone from the religious sector claiming that neutrinos don’t exist.

    I don’t see that as a “ridiculous hypocrisy”, as you term it. I’ve made the distinction, defined it, and acknowledge it. Where’s the hypocrisy?

  17. Science is essentially a religion, a religion with loads of evidence backing it up, but a religion all the same.

    This quote is ridiculous. Please define the word religion, Paul.

  18. Philly Chief: As you may know, it’s difficult to determine the definition of ‘religion’ from its Latin roots; probably most people give up the search and consider ‘religion’ to mean something similar to “something to cling to”. As for science being a religion, I think that M.M. Mangasarian said it well: “Religion is the science of children; science is the religion of adults.”

  19. I totally agree with you, more people need to learn to come up with their own ideas on what they wish the world could be like instead of blindly pulling themselves along the Jesus rope to what they believe will be their kingdom of heaven but is really just the same cliff of inexistance as everyone else, including those who chose to tear the blindfold off. I talking a lot about this in my post entitled ‘Choice’ on my blog at radioactivenecktie.wordpress.com

  20. There’s no difficulty here. You’re using a word, religion, in a way that makes no sense to me, so I’m asking you to tell me what YOU mean by “religion”. Surely someone who can assert “Science is essentially a religion” can define at least one word of the assertion, right?

    Your Mangasarian quote was not an answer. “Something to cling to” is all you really gave, and is far too vague to be useful. True, with such a definition you could assert science is a religion, but then so is virtually everything then, which makes the assertion pretty meaningless.

  21. “I have no need to attend weekly meetings of the Sun church to maintain my belief that it will rise tomorrow. The evidence all around me is there for the picking.”

    I like that.

    There’s a good bit in a book by Alan Watts where he talks about religious insecurity. The point is that any religion that follows a god tends to create the SAVED and the DAMNED… Or basically those who agree with us, and those who don’t.
    An endless quest ensues thereafter, where the ‘believers’ spend their entire lives trying to convince other people that they have the right idea, so that the niggling feeling of maybe being completely wrong goes away.

    I mean imagine any person who has a natural belief that there is something more to this life. If they’re wrong about the religion they’re following.. its a pretty fucking huge mistake. So whenever anyone suggests that they’re wrong, it must be pretty unnerving!

  22. Excellent!!

    So…where are the picket lines and demonstrations outside of churches? Haven’t seen any around here.

    In our library books of a free thinking nature are often defaced and even ripped up. Why not the ones dealing with aspects of worship and religion? Seems to be a difference in what makes “good” people.

    Some years ago one of the more rabid examples of chritianity I had to deal with exploded at me and shouted words to the effect that I thought about “faith” too much, that was my trouble. She added a lamentation, “Why can’t you be like me? Why do you have to be different”??!! I’ve heard that echoed by others.

  23. Sarge, for some reason I find that the scariest and most unnerving of comments. I’ve heard those many times, “Why can’t you be like me? Why do you have to be different?” It’s a desperate cry and it chills me to the bone, quite frankly.

    As for science being a religion, I’ve thought about that for quite some time and I don’t see any religion in it. There are no requirements except for a general consensus among the scientific community that one theory does indeed take facts and laws from all the fields and puts it together in a manner that is coherent and MOSTLY right. Science never claims to have the definitive answer. They only claim to be mostly right on a lot of things. Essentially, the only “requirement” for one of the scientific mind is to use sound reason and logic. A faculty that humans naturally possess.

    The Evolutionary Theory itself is in a constant state of shifting and of being added to. And this is a theory that is largely thought to be correct (albeit MOSTLY correct). There is a certain amount of faith in accepting the studies for those who are not scientists and are not part of the scientific community who reviews these experiments and theories. That much I’ll grant you. But it isn’t a leap to trust the scientific field in most regards. For instance, I tend to reject much of “popular” science (e.g., is coffee good for you, etc.).

    Much of science you have to have a small amount of faith in. But that is more of a human condition rather than something inherent in science. I have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow but I do not KNOW that it will. I’m not certain, but I certainly hope it does rise. I can’t be certain of anything. I can only be fairly sure certain things will happen.

    I hope that bit of rambling was coherent.

    Good day to all. :)

  24. This whole “Science is a religion” schtick is really just another sign of the insecurity I’m talking about. If they can convince themselves that non believers have their own religion, then their need and justification for their religion looks more rational. But if they are the only ones going to church, and others are doing quite fine, thank you, without any religion, it makes their groveling to this god they’ve made up look a bit suspicious.

    So as long as everybody has their little belief system and they can call it a religion, then they feel more secure in the one they’ve chosen.

    That’s why you’ll also hear a lot of “Evolution is a religion, with Darwin as a god” bullshit.

  25. Spanish Inquisitor “If they can convince themselves that non believers have their own religion, then their need and justification for their religion looks more rational.”
    Or, if not rational, then at least the other guy is irrational, too. In other words, it’s a tu quoque.

  26. this picture totally goes with this post:

    [img]http://s239.photobucket.com/albums/ff57/dudeman55556/?action=view&current=oppressedchristians.jpg[/img]

  27. Wow

    I can hardly believe what I’ve read here.

    SI, you have hit my belief system spot-on!

    I and my brother were indoctrinated into countless churches as youths.

    Seriously.

    Baptised Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Church of God, Church of Christ, Unitarian, Unity, I can’t keep up with all the belief systems I was exposed to.

    The final indoctrination came at age 16.

    Mom and Dad were both raised Jewish. Dad was born in a small town in NW Czechoslovakia in 1913 (yeah, I know it was Bohemia or Prussia or something back then…)

    Mom’s parents were from Hungary.

    Anyway, what I saw as a inquisitive child was that ALL the Christian religions claimed to be “The One True Religion” – disregarding, of course, their foundations in Judaism.

    Not to mention all but one (Catholicism) made use of the same single book: The King James Version of the Holy Bible. Let us recall the meaning of the first four words in that title:

    The King James Version.

    One man (ONE!) decided he did not like the original, or several other translations of the native texts (aka The Torah) so he mandated what has become the de facto standard “Good Book.”

    Guess what I have faith in?

    My career and avocation have been electronics and science since my teens. I have performed experiments, assisted scientists and engineers who know WAY more than I, but who have always taken the time to explain any and all questions I have posed; some have even created new experiments to test my questions for me – and on one occasion, for his own satisfaction.

    I like the Mangasarian quote. I believe I shall take that as my mantra.

    All hail the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

  28. PhillyChief:

    Sorry to be slow in responding; I should have clicked the “notify me of follow-up comments”. I’ll do that this time!

    Also, I should have explained (as I do elsewhere, at http://zenofzero.net/docs/IiIndoctrinationinIgnorance.pdf ), that I took the liberty of transforming Mangasarian’s statement (from his 1909 book “The Truth About Jesus: Is He a Myth”, which is available on the internet), namely, “Religion is the science of the child. Science is the religion of the matured man”, into more-modern English, i.e., into: “Religion is the science of children; science is the religion of adults.”

    As for my comment about the Latin roots of the word ‘religion, what I was thinking about is what Joseph McCabe described in his 1929 book “The Story of Religious Controversy”, which is also available on the internet. He wrote:

    “To begin with the word [‘religion’] itself, it belongs to the very earliest period of the Latin language, and even the Roman writers of the civilized periods had lost the meaning of it. Very often it is said to come from the word ‘bind’ (‘ligare’ or ‘religare’), and so it is represented as meaning ‘what binds man to the gods.’ But in that case the word would be ‘religation’, not ‘religion’, and we must try again. It seems to be connected with the Latin word for ‘cull’ or ‘select’, but what it really meant to the men who first used it we cannot tell.”

    I agree with you that using the word ‘religion’ as “something to cling to” is “vague”. As used in the Mangasarian quote, surely by ‘religion’ is meant one of the following two definitions (from the Oxford American Dictionary): “details of belief as taught or discussed” or “a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance”.

    As for later comments (e.g., by “writingshadows”) questioning if science is a religion, a definition for ‘science’ seems appropriate. In that regard, I’m reminded about one of the best definitions I’ve seen for ‘shamanism’: “shaminism is what shamans do”! Similarly, perhaps the best definition of ‘science’ is that it’s what scientists do, to wit: apply the scientific method.

    Thus, the main point that I was trying to make (and which I try to make in my online book at http://www.zenofzero.net , hopefully with more success!) is that science does provide us something that experience has shown is worthy of our “faith”, namely, the scientific method (“guess, test, and reassess”). As Feynman said, “Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself.”

  29. Pingback: Christian T-Shirts « (((Billy))) The Atheist

  30. I have been reading some of the posts here for the first time. I do consider myself a Christian and I can only say that I myself would be very sad to have to live a life without Faith in a loving God. For whatever reason it gives me comfort. I find comfort and love in Christ. I don’t ever try to push my beliefs on others unless I see that they might benefit from the same comforting love that I have found. Then I am not afraid to express my beliefs and refer them the Book that inspires these beliefs. I am not drawn to any particular church or “religion.” I like to fellowship at several different churches, I think I benefit the most this way. I believe fellowship was meant as a means to bring others into our lives so we can benefit from the positive exchange of communication and relationships.
    I think when people try to push their “religion” or beliefs on anyone that this would definitely come as self-righteous. As a Christian, I try not to be this way. I try to be a living example instead.
    I try to follow the written Word because I believe it helps to live a just life. Here is what my Bible says about religion:
    James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. and:
    James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
    I take this to mean “keep your mouth shut and bridled when it not appropriate to wag it around, and do what you can to help the people that need it, like orphaned children and widowed adults, especially those that are ill (for example in nursing homes). There are countless ways to do these things.
    As for the rest of the adults in between, they must choose for themselves about right and wrong and what to believe. Some ask for direction and guidance, some do not. I respect that.
    There is one more verse I would like to share between us adults:
    Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
    Again, my take on this is simply to live your life just like it says, with justice and mercy (also known as kindness), walking humbly with your God.
    Before you go and knock me for quoting verses up in here, remember that this is the Book that is the reason for my Faith, and without it there would, for me, be the nothingness that others might speak of.
    Blessings and happiness to all. I hope that all of you find comfort and love.

  31. Hi, Kim. Thanks for stopping by and reading what I write. It takes an open mind to do that, especially when your religious convictions are different.

    I can only say that I myself would be very sad to have to live a life without Faith in a loving God.

    Why is that? You find it “sad” that there are people such as myself that have no faith in something they find no evidence for? Lot’s of people do, and are not subject to pity, nor would they want any. In fact, many feel sad that there are people that need to rely on a belief in something that doesn’t exist, in order to get through the day. As children, we do that with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and invisible friends. But if a child doesn’t grow out of that, once they become adults, we call them mentally ill. What’s the difference in a belief in god?

    For whatever reason it gives me comfort.

    See, I always want a reason. “for whatever reason” isn’t enough. I have no problem with you personally using a belief in your God as a comfortable thing to hang onto, but don’t you feel you should be able to justify your reason for doing so? The fact that religion gives comfort to people, while good, in and of itself, doesn’t make it true, and the truth of the belief, to me, is more important than the comfort it gives. Indeed, if I find a belief to be untruthful, I actually find it uncomfortable. I suspect that was why I always felt uncomfortable when I WAS a Christian, because the words and thoughts I was supposed to embrace made me uncomfortable. I figured out later that it was because there was nothing to sustain them as truth – they were mere platitudes.

    I don’t ever try to push my beliefs on others unless I see that they might benefit from the same comforting love that I have found.

    Oh, that more Christians were like that. It would be a better world.

    I believe fellowship was meant as a means to bring others into our lives so we can benefit from the positive exchange of communication and relationships.

    So where does God fit into this equation? Why can you not have “fellowship” with other humans, exchanging communication and relationships, without God? I do it all the time. And if you say it’s because you share a common belief, well, find a group that shares a different common belief. Join a book club. See, in my opinion, adding a god to the equation is superfluous, unnecessary. You can get the same comfort from human relationships without god, with the added advantage that you aren’t talking to someone who isn’t there.

    I hope that all of you find comfort and love.

    I have.

  32. “I hope that all of you find comfort and love.”

    What makes you think we haven’t?

    I think I speak for all of us atheists when I say we hope you and other believers find comfort and love from more substainitive sources than imaginary friends. Your talk of fellowship with others is a great start. Go with that.

  33. Hey SI, wow thanks for your quick reply. I appreciate your thoughts on my post.

    I would add a quick response if I may:

    On, “”Why is that? You find it “sad” that there are people such as myself that have no faith in something they find no evidence for? Lot’s of people do, and are not subject to pity, nor would they want any””

    I was speaking only of myself here. I was offering no pity to anyone because they have a ‘different’ belief.

    Also on “”See, I always want a reason. “for whatever reason” isn’t enough. I have no problem with you personally using a belief in your God as a comfortable thing to hang onto, but don’t you feel you should be able to justify your reason for doing so?””

    I felt no need to go into my entire reasoning on this post. This was meant to be a brief transition statement to extend my next point, that I find comfort in my own belief and Faith in Christ as opposed to insecurity.

    Also “”As children, we do that with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and invisible friends. But if a child doesn’t grow out of that, once they become adults, we call them mentally ill. What’s the difference in a belief in god?””

    The difference to me is that I never taught my kids that hoohah that those famous fairytale icons were real. They have known that santa is merely a story all their lives. What they do know is that I taught them God is real.

    And also “”I suspect that was why I always felt uncomfortable when I WAS a Christian, because the words and thoughts I was supposed to embrace made me uncomfortable.””

    I personally am very sorry that you ever felt that way as a Christian. I hope you find a way someday to give it another try. I also have experienced discomfort in some churches, but I have learned that if there WAS a “PERFECT” church.. Jesus and me probably wouldn’t be allowed in. *giggles* (Again, my point is to walk the walk not just talk the talk)

    And also “”So where does God fit into this equation? Why can you not have “fellowship” with other humans, exchanging communication and relationships, without God? I do it all the time.””

    Certainly I can have fellowship with other humans, with or without God. I do so all the time the same as you do. This comment taken out of context, can appear to have other meanings than its original intent. My statement was meant to refer to attendance and fellowship at a church. I should have clarified “common” interests my first time. Of course the benefit is for the obvious reason that you will meet like minded people and be able to have more initimate discussions on topics that interest you. In a church, this is usually God. What I was stating is that I am not partial to any particular building or denomination, but I do enjoy attending at several churches. Whatever town I am in. I believe “church” to mean any group of believers gathered together at any location. Of course, at a book club, or whereever, we can have just as great an intelligent exchange, but chances are you wont find a majority that is already ready to discuss a particular topic such as God, unless it has been planned.

    Also on “”Oh, that more Christians were like that. It would be a better world.””

    Thanks

    I have sincerely enjoyed my visit and our exchange. I will try and come back some time. I am sure we can learn a lot from one another. Thank you.

    (And to chief.. I would not dare presume to think you or anyone else has not found the comfort and love they seek, and if they were even seeking it in the first place. I merely hope that those that do seek it will find it. Thanks for your input as well.)

    Grace and peace
    ~Kim

  34. kim:

    You seem like a nice person and I expect that you were truthful when you wrote:

    “I can only say that I myself would be very sad to have to live a life without Faith in a loving God. For whatever reason it gives me comfort. I find comfort and love in Christ.”

    I expect that most Muslims would truthfully say similar:

    “I can only say that I myself would be very sad to have to live a life without Faith in a loving God. For whatever reason it gives me comfort. I find comfort and love in Allah.”

    Similar has undoubtedly been said by all religious people, both present (e.g., Jews, Hindus, etc.) and past (in Ancient Sumer, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Europe, etc.).

    I wonder if you see that the common feature of all such statements is willingness to believe in the absence of evidence.

    Children are especially vulnerable to that mistake. For example, I expect that most Western children under the age of about six would say (if they could express themselves well enough):

    “I can only say that I myself would be very sad to have to live a life without Faith in Santa Claus. For whatever reason it gives me comfort. I find comfort and love in Santa Claus.”

    For children, their willingness to believe (e.g., their parents) in the absence of evidence is understandable (it reflects a survival advantage); their “faith” (in their parents) is even “lovable” (at least by their parents!). For adults to believe in the absence of evidence, however, has caused and continues to cause enormous evil. As for the past, think of all the religious wars, think of the Inquisition, think of the burning of witches, think of the tortured way that humanity had to struggle to break free from clerical chains… For the present, think of the tragedies caused by the Pope’s stupid policies on birth control and AIDS, think of the savage way women and children are treated in patriarchal religions, think of the Twin Towers and the sacrifices by Western men and women now fighting in Afghanistan. And for the future, think of the horrors if Shiite clerical leaders (e.g., Iran’s leaders) or Sunni extremists (e.g., al Qaeda’s leaders) get control of weapons of mass destruction.

    I wonder if you see that, by believing in the absence of evidence, you provide moral and “intellectual” support for others who behave similarly. That is, by your willingness to suspend judgement in the absence of evidence, by your failure to be skeptical of claims that are unsupported by data, by committing what’s called the “Proof-by-Pleasure Logical Fallacy” (i.e., if it feels good, it must by true), you set an example and thereby, provide support for everyone who behaves similarly. Therefore, you provide support for all the people who have committed and continue to commit religious atrocities throughout the world.

    I hope that you see, then, why some of us are so opposed to what you are doing and why we seek to help you get over your childish delusions. There’s no god whom you love and who loves you: it’s all make believe. If you would have the courage to let go of your childish delusions and would be willing to face reality, then not only might you find a real person whom you could love and who would love you, but more importantly for humanity, you would help us defeat the Islamists and help us solve our real problems more intelligently.

  35. I will make a final comment here, because I myself do not wish to be drawn into some kind of inquisition here.

    Again, as I said above “for whatever reason” was meant for me to mean, “for whatever MY reason” I would have been more specific or elaborated had I suspected this line would be something we would hang on.

    I will explain, as I mentioned briefly in my first post, and since the topic was in regards to the insecurities of Christians and their Faith, that my reasons are based solely on the Bible. They are not based on my feelings. Although I can say that I find comfort and love in my Faith in Christ, I can also say I find conviction and truth in the Word.

    Its truths are real and it has proven to withstand the test of time. Anyone who reads it will also read its truths and therein find their reasons for Faith.

    Many, many people have come in the name of Christ, but unfortunately all are not. But one can always separate the truthful from the untruthful by their base in Bible teachings, or in some instances, if they even open it up at all.
    In this way, church was meant for fellowship, the Bible was meant for Leadership.

    I do want want to condemn any belief or church here. That is not what I popped in for. I will say that I am not catholic. I believe their history is littered with more troubles than just the inquisitions. Unfortunately, this has confused many. However, their teachings are not solely based on the Bible as the Final Authority, but rather in the leadership positions they have created and supplement books they read and teach from instead.

    The best way for a Christian to work out the suspect insecuritites about Faith, is to read the Bible for themselves.

    Discussing it with anyone is just an added bonus.

    And again, thanks for the exchange.

    Grace and peace
    ~Kim

  36. Well, kim, it’s a pity that you say that you “will make a final comment here.” It might have been possible to help you — and thereby, the rest of humanity.

    It’s also a pity that you claim that the Bible’s “truths are real and it has proven to withstand the test of time.” If you’d study more, you’d probably be able to learn that you currently don’t understand the meaning of “truth” (e.g., see http://zenofzero.net/docs/T1_Truth_&_Knowledge.pdf and http://zenofzero.net/docs/T2_Truth_&_Understanding.pdf ).

    It’s also a pity that you don’t see that not only is the Bible (and similarly the Koran and the Book of Mormon) not “true” but that it contains, as Mark Twain said, “upwards of a thousand lies” (e.g., see my recent series of posts dealing with “The Mountainous God Lie” at http://zenofzero.blogspot.com ).

    You state “Discussing it [the Bible] with anyone is just an added bonus.” If you wish to gain such an “added bonus”, then you may want to respond. Otherwise, I’ll assume that, similar to most “fundies”, your silence will mean: “my mind’s made up; don’t confuse me with facts (i.e., evidence).”

Comments are closed.