thinktoomuch.net

Pondering the South African Memesphere – Looking for the Good in Everything

thinktoomuch.net header image 2

Imagine No Religion

May 22nd, 2007 · Posted by Who Knows? · 45 Comments

This is a rant. Enjoy / be warned.

I am tired. Religion is killing me. Despite having successfully lobotomised myself, eradicated the evil brain-washings that found their way into my head when I was young and impressionable, these same brain-washings were apparently still ruling my life. It still kept me awake at night, still got in the way of what I really should be doing, all because I was so intent on fighting the evil.

It would probably be best if I unsubscribe from all the news feeds I currently have in my reader (rather than just ignore them), turn my head the other way, look to the green pastures of “no religion”, that dream so many have thought about. Just imagine. The problem is those green pastures are a myth, in the culture and place I find myself. Stellenbosch is considered by some to be the “Bible Belt” of South Africa. I have many friends that are very serious about their religion. And I have an extended family, with aunts, uncles and cousins, taking their religion very seriously. There is no escaping it. And all too often these examples have too many aspects of the stereotypes of evil religion I have come across.

My journey has been useful therefore, I now know more about religion than I ever thought I would (having recently read the books I read). I will be able to respond to any questions or discussions that are raised, I will be able to discuss what is really true, what is truly worthwhile. I will be able to teach what I have learned about Jesus, and the wonderful example he did set. So often these days, what many of “these religious people” need, is to hear Jesus’ message, which would set them free, if only they could hear it.

I wonder how Jesus would feel about atheistic followers. He never addressed atheism, theism was a given in his day, every person and his dog believed in God as a personal being, that is in charge of everything from lightning, to health, to victories in war, to floods… that is not to say God isn’t still involved, just that his involvement becomes a lot more metaphorical nowadays, more concerned with purpose than with method, which we understand much better from a naturalistic perspective. Either way, being a theist in the traditional sense is no longer a given. Is that relevant? I’m not so sure it is…

No, I’m not an atheist. I still call myself a Christian, but labels are irrelevant. Except to those that ignore anything that isn’t labelled the way they like it. (A cousin stopped reading “Screw It, Let’s Do It” the moment she read that Richard Branson does not believe in God. Never mind that the next clause said he felt something or someone out there was looking out for him…

Oh, and the brainwashings were not at the hands of my parents, they were at the hands of books that unfortunately found their way into my hands at the wrong time. How jealous I am of the people that live life without knowledge of the evil side of religion, where being a Christian is still about living a good life, an “eternal life”, a life with meaning. Blessed are they, that have not seen the cursed side…?

I am moving on, I am abandoning my little crusade, even before I really started it. I am directing my gaze back into what is good and useful, what truly has meaning in my life. May I only be minimally distracted by this thing that is religion, at times when I can actually make a difference without destroying myself in the process.

Amen.

Categories: Religion and Science
Tags: · ·

45 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Paul // May 22, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    Hugo, ek verstaan wat jy sê. Ek is nogal verbaas deur hoeveel mense van ons ouderdom en agtergrond gaan die afgelope tyd deur ‘n soortgelyke proses. Ek reken jy’s op die regte pad. Sterkte.

  • 2 Hugo // May 22, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    Thanks. So jy is hier deur? Care to share a small piece of your journey?

    Wat maak jy met familie lede? Ek dink ek gaan boeke uitdeel. ;) Ek gee net te veel om daaroor om hulle net te los, en glad nie te probeer nie. Dit is vir my so hartseer…

  • 3 Riaan // May 22, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    Dis goed om jou hart te hoor Hugo! Ek stem saam jy is op die regte pad. En ek haal my hoed af vir jou dat jy dit so publiek doen. Amper soos die effek van almal in die klas wil dieselfde vraag vra, maar nie een het die guts nie. As iemand dan daardie damn vraag vra wat vir homself so stupid klink dan sug almal ‘n sug van verligting.

  • 4 Riaan // May 22, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    Hier is ‘n boek wat jy dalk sal geniet (as jy nie al moeg gelees is nie ;)

    Church: Why bother? My personal pilgrimage, Philip Yancey

  • 5 Riaan // May 22, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    I heard the owl call my name, Margaret Craven is ‘n goeie boek om te lees oor die “familie wat agterbly” tipe van gevoel. Albei is dun boekies, maar is nogal in die kol voel ek.

  • 6 Hugo // May 22, 2007 at 11:55 pm

    Ek moet wegbreek van “religion”, dit sink my tesis. Dalk lees ek dit later. Philip Yancey se storie behoort interessant te wees. Sy pa is blykbaar dood toe hy een is? Omdat mense hom oortuig het hy moet die “life support machines” afskakel en op God vertrou, God sal hom gesond maak…

    Steeds is Philip Yancey meer aan die “Christianity Today” kant as die “Christian Century” kant. Interessant. Nie dat ek regtig weet waarvan ek praat in die verband nie.

  • 7 Riaan // May 23, 2007 at 12:19 am

    Ja, by all means, lees dit later. Mens moet maar alle inputs wat na jou kant toe gegooi word erens file en dan daaraan aandag gee wanneer jy tyd het of gemotiveerd is daarvoor. Nie dat ek dit altyd regkry nie. :(

  • 8 Paul // May 23, 2007 at 12:59 am

    Wel, ek is nie regtig deur iets in die sin dat ek vaste grond bereik het waarvan ek ‘n posisie kan verdedig nie. Ek het ook beslis nie dieselfde paadjie as jy gevolg nie. Ek kan wel identifiseer met sekere van die goed wat jy sê. Die eerste is dat ek vir lank baie tyd gespandeer het deur oor geloof, godsdiens, ens. te dink en te redeneer. En daar het ‘n stadium gekom waar ek dit eenvoudig so te sê op ys moes sit, ‘n tipe cease-fire vir my gesondsheidsonthalwe.

    Ek bly die afgelope jaar in Nederland, seker een van die plekke in die wêreld wat die naaste aan daardie ‘Imagine no religion’ idee kom. Een ding wat ek geleer het, is dat mens baie close verhoudings kan hê met mense sonder dat julle eers saamstem of daar ‘n god is of nie. Dit hoef nie so belangrik te wees nie.

    Ek label myself vir ‘n rukkie lank al as ‘n agnostikus, maar soos ek sê, ek het geen belangstelling om nou daaroor te redeneer nie. Ek trek egter terug SA toe oor 2 maande, reg in die middel van die ‘Bible belt’ in (ek’s seker daar’s dele van Gauteng wat net so erg is), en sal noodgedwonge weer oor hierdie goed moet begin dink, aangesien dit vir almal so moer belangrik is daar. Moenie verkeerd verstaan nie, die fundamentele vrae is vir my ook belangrik, dit was net nodig om vir ‘n ruk ‘n breuk te vat.

    Anyway, ek is nie so close met meeste van die familie-lede buite my gesin nie, alhoewel ‘n paar van hulle al vir my boekies gekoop het :) Met gesinslede is dit moeiliker. Ek reken wat werk is om ‘n houding te hê van ‘ek respekteer jou geloofsbeskouing, en vra dat jy myne terug respekteer.’ Ek probeer vrede maak met die feit dat geeneen in my familie ooit hierdie deel van my sal verstaan nie. En teenoor hulle probeer ek ‘n houding hê van ‘as dit vir jou werk, great, ek gaan dit nie van jou probeer wegvat nie’. Ek kan egter nie hierdie standpunt tot my bevrediging verdedig op ‘n globale vlak nie.

    Right. As jy meer hieroor wil praat, sou dit dalk gemakliker wees om mekaar te epos. Dis immers ‘n baie openbare omgewing hierdie. Maar maak tog nou eers jou tesis klaar! :)

  • 9 Pieter // May 23, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Ek’t gehou van daai laaste Real Life Preacher post oor kinders en hulle journeys.
    http://www.reallivepreacher.com/node/869
    Dit het vir my nuwe respek en verstaan gegee vir die konsep van die Christian Moderate. Ek het ook nou die dag op Free Spirit iemand se enlightened siening gehoor van hoe sy geloof hom help…I had a moment :).

    Want die ding is vir nou verkies ek om meer negatief te staan teenoor religion as te vore. Ek het genoeg Dennett, Dawkins, Harris en Hitchens afgelope tyd gelees om my te laat wonder…staan die Moderate tog op ‘n manier verantwoordelik vir fundamentalisme?

    Om jouself te assosieer as Christen kry mens voordele soos ‘n great sosiale kerk netwerk en min konflik met jou familie en vriende, maar dalk is dit onvermydelik om maar ook indirek die slegte elemente van die geloof te ondersteun.

    Dis dalk bietjie onredelik ek weet :) Maar ek dink dis great anyway dat jy en RLP die topic aangeraak het. Ek dink ‘n moderate kan rerig ‘n BAIE belangrike rol in dialoog speel.

  • 10 Hugo // May 23, 2007 at 10:21 am

    Paul, ons gesels as jy weer terug is. Of dalk eers as my tesis klaar is. Aargh!

    Riaan, as jy Marcus Borg boeke wil leen, laat my weet. (O ja, en dit geld vir almal.) The battle of the books, bleh.

    ‘n Goeie vriendin van my het my aangemoedig om nie hierdie “post” te maak nie. Sy was natuurlik heeltemal reg, soos gewoonlik.

  • 11 Hugo // May 23, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Luckily my immediate family have their heads right. (Maybe I’ve been brainwashing them for too long?)

    I’ve got them reading some Marcus Borg. That is the kind of Christianity I am prepared to defend! That and Real Live Preacher. Rob Bell and Brian McLaren are also fine. However, with Pieter wondering about the role and responsibility of the “Moderate” in the existence of fundamentalism, I prefer to recommend people that take more of a “hard line” approach to fundamentalism. Brian McLaren does talk nicely about “bad faith” vs “good faith” in “Finding Faith”, but his claim to fame is that he is quite non-confrontational. For lack of time to find a better word right now. What I love about Marcus Borg, is he says things as they are. He’s not afraid to say “well, this isn’t true, that is myth, and that’s just how it is”.

    OK, he doesn’t say it that way, “that’s just how it is”… but he does refer to scholarly study of the Bible, and you’re not going to motivate every statement with years of scholarly research, when you’ve got something more important to say. The problem? Fundamentalists reject scholarship. Same old, same old. (Just like they reject science.)

  • 12 Z // May 23, 2007 at 11:39 am

    I’m doing pretty much the same, trying to ignore it till after exams. And the novelty’s worn off, I’m tired of hearing the endless pontificating, the arguments and rebuttals. I can pretty much predict how many of these dialogues progress, it’s almost like a ritual. Must find new and less time-consuming hobby!

  • 13 Hugo // May 23, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    Hehe, the new meta-religion, having meta-rituals… let’s start a meta revolution, and start fighting the meta-religion!

    Yea, a new hobby. Good plan! This “saving the world” thing just wastes time. ;)

  • 14 Tim // May 25, 2007 at 1:46 am

    RE: title of your post…

    … it’s easy if you try…

    ;)

  • 15 Reminiscence // May 25, 2007 at 11:40 am

    Hey Hugo,

    Uno sent me this way, said I’d find it right up my alley. Anyways glad that you’re questioning your faith and that hopefully you’ll be breaking free from it soon.

    Check out my blog for a pretty convincing argument, also http://www.godisimaginary.com, http://www.evilbible.com and http://www.whywontgodhealamputees.com

    Books that I recommend, Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris, The Bible Unmasked by Joseph Lewis and ofcourse The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

    Could you please tell me though which books you’ve read?

    All the best…

    Regards
    Reminiscence

  • 16 Hugo // May 25, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    …no hell below us, above us only sky…

    Reminiscence: my faith/religion is what it has been for the past, uh, few months, some perspectives were not too concrete yet, but they have pretty much solidified about a month ago. You’d find my perspectives quite acceptable.

    I have seen whywontgodhealamputees and I have looked at a thousand other sites (hyperbole, sure, but I’m sure I’ve looked at more than 100…) of various perspectives. I know what Dawkins’ and Harris’ perspectives are, I know how I feel about them as well. If I do read them, I’m reading them more for info to give to other people, and as something to prompt what perspectives I have to share. The time for that isn’t right now though. (I will be reading The God Delusion once I have time. End of the year, maybe. And I will of course be blogging about it. I am tired of it all, but that is a “prior commitment” I intend to meet.)

    In terms of books, I’ve had more than enough atheistic inputs from websites and other interesting resources (my mind…), my reading was focused on finding the good in religion. While I felt “there is no good in religion”, I didn’t feel free to let it go, as I felt I was missing something. Having become aware of the good that there is, I was able to put the matter to rest. The most recent books that I love the most, are Marcus Borg’s books (Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, and The Last Week). I can highly recommend them to anyone (except maybe fundamentalists? I can predict their reaction), including atheists that are curious about the Bible, the history, the context, “what good is there in religion”. Before that, I read Brian McLaren and glanced at Rob Bell. (Before that, CS Lewis, but I have my disagreements there.)

    Examples of good religion, to me, include that of Brian McLaren, and that of Real Live Preacher. Real Live Preacher opened an atheistic friend’s eyes to what a good moderate perspective is. Not to worry, it doesn’t threaten anyone’s atheism, it just aids understanding, appreciation, and thus, tolerance. Me? I might be more atheistic than you imagine, but I reject that label. I’ve labelled myself a “Christian agnostic”, when that page still existed on wikipedia it was useful. Either way, I come from the Christian tradition, that is a frame of reference, it is my history. I have great respect for Jesus, who was an incredible revolutionary, his example was a great one – and his example is very relevant to the religious (the religious have maintained the worldview of those Jesus talked to, so they should find it relevant to listen). Pity they typically struggle to see his example.

    There is great beauty in religion, in good traditions, it might just seem hard to find.

  • 17 Wendy // May 26, 2007 at 12:47 am

    Wow, haven’t read Afrikaans in a LONG time! I’m surprised that I can actually understand most of it!

    “I wonder how Jesus would feel about atheistic followers.”

    I think (and this is seriously just my opinion), that Jesus would feel the same way about atheistic followers as he would of individuals who believe in other gods. From what I’ve read/learned (and again, I really don’t know THAT much), the only way to be “in” with Him is to believe in and accept Jesus Christ as you savior. Since both atheism and other religions do not accept Jesus as their savior, I think they all get put into the same “non-believer” category.

  • 18 Hugo // May 26, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Hehe, glad you could enjoy it!

    I’m not going into any depth in answering you though, I just aren’t as sure. An atheist can “follow Jesus”. Actually, someone who has never even heard of Jesus, could even “follow Jesus”. But anyway… This does go quite deep, as I mentioned, I’ve been reading a lot, I could answer really long, but I intend to keep it short.

    In some cases, Christianity is sold as “a way to stay out of hell, to go to heaven”. That wasn’t really what Jesus’ message was about, though it is quite possible to present his actual message in terms of such metaphors…

    OK, I’m just going to stop here, for now, I think. ;)

  • 19 Hugo // May 26, 2007 at 10:58 am

    Um, enjoy the Afrikaans that is, I do realize you didn’t actually say you enjoy it, just that you’re surprised about it!

  • 20 johannes_11 // May 28, 2007 at 8:01 am

    Hugo

    Dan behoort jy baie van die boek “The End of the Church Age and After” te hou… wat gratis by http://www.familyradio.com bestel of direk online by die volgende link gelees kan word http://worldwide.familyradio.org/zusa/graphical/literature/frame/

    Jy kan van religion ontslae raak… maar nooit van die Bybel nie. Genadiglik is die God van die Bybel klaar met “kerke en kerkstrukture” en is almal van hulle tans wereldwyd onder God se oordeel..

    (1Pe 4:17) Want die tyd is daar dat die oordeel moet begin by die huis van God. En as dit eers by ons begin, wat sal die einde wees van die wat aan die evangelie van God ongehoorsaam is?

    en wat so fantasities is … hierdie boodskap word tans wereldwyd via die radio senders van Family Radio verkondig.

    Luister in die aande om 19h30 of 23h30 na die program OPEN FORUM op Family Radio
    oor AM 1197khz oppi draadloos
    en vir diegene wat nog Short Wave kan opvang SW 3230khz en SW 6020khz (21h00 tot 23h00)

  • 21 Hugo // May 28, 2007 at 9:59 am

    *sigh*…

    johannes_11, this comment does look less spammy than some of your favourites on other blogs.

    Anyway, lets just leave it at *no comment*.

  • 22 Hugo // May 28, 2007 at 11:34 am

    And so I break my mind trying to figure out how to respond to johannes_11… distracting me while I am working on my thesis. (An experiment is busy running… btw.) Maybe I should just nicely ask that he not comment on my blog? (I could also delete comments, but that isn’t nice? Where does one draw the line when one starts deleting comments?)

    This is why I really wish religion didn’t exist. And just so you know: by “religion” I am currently including that which you practise, johannes_11.

    So lets make one thing clear: the Bible is indeed an amazing piece of cultural heritage. It was written by humans, and documents their experiences. The biggest problem in religion these days? People “idolize” their “holy books”, and prefer to interpret such books literally, instead of using the “God-given” ability to think critically. The Bible is not inerrant. Even if you do interpret things metaphorically, as you should, you have to realize there are still mistakes in the Bible. M’kay?

    The Bible is a collection of stories that are useful in discussing and understanding our place on earth. Just like a really good movie is also useful for discussion, for thinking about, our place on earth. Someone in the Christian tradition then, is someone that shares this context with other Christians, making it easier for them to relate and discuss things, as they have something to refer to.

    A Muslim then? Is someone with a different set of stories. That does make it easier for a Muslim to relate to other Muslims, and discuss their place on earth.

    Pop culture, the printing press, new media, new communication methods, they all provide new stories, new frames of reference. They have indeed, for many people, taken over the role of the Bible in being the things that are talked about and referred to.

    OK, I’m just going to stop here, as awkward a place as it might be to stop. (The experiment is still running, but there’s other things I can do while I wait…)

  • 23 Reminiscence // May 28, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    Just wanna comment on what Wendy said. Surely Wendy you need to spend more time reading your bible. Has anyone seen Jesus? Has Jesus left any evidence of his supposed miracles? The gospels written about him in the bible are of people that has never even met him. Do you know what actually happened when Jesus supposedly died? There was a 40 year period where nothing was written about him. People forgot that he even existed. But there’s one guy that was the link to his story, and that guy is the apostle Paul aka Saul of Tarsus. He’s the founder of Christianity. But the only way he knew of Jesus is seeing him in a vision. Sounds similar to Joseph from the mormons, or Mohammad from the muslims. They all saw visions and that’s where they got their info from. But there’s one thing that makes Paul unique with his story of Jesus. He’s interpritation of Jesus was all based in a mythical realm. “If Jesus had been on earth, he would not even have been a priest.” – Hebrews 8:4

    So for you to be arrogant enough to say what would Jesus think about non-believers, you should ask yourself the question first. Did Jesus actually exist, and aren’t you putting yourself in the same boat as Muslims or Jews that say exactly the same thing about what would happen to non-believers?

    If you have ever done any reading on the subject you would not believe. And if even all this is true what you’re saying, then there’s one thing that will force us all into hell. And that’s being human. Read Luke 12:10 and Mark 3:29. “Everyone who speak a word against the Son of Man, will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” and “Whosoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of eternal sin.”

    So just by being a Christian cause of the probability that there might be a God and you’d rather be safe than sorry, is being false to the teachings of Christianity, cause God knows what you’re thinking at this moment and if you deny the Holy Spirit for one second you’re screwed cause denying the Holy Spirit ends up with eternal damnation.

    So at the end of the day if you rationally and intellectually think about religion, you’ll see how absurd it is.

    And you also get more morality out of books from known atheists than you would ever get from believers including the bible where the world holy should be taken off, cause that book is the most evil ever. Some atheist authors include are, Sartre, Camus, Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Dawkins, Twain, Einstein, Hume, Adams, the list can go on forever more etc.

    Embrace reality and live your life to the full, instead of sucking up to some unknown God, which doesn’t exist, for brownie points just to spend time in some paradise, which doesn’t exist, ignoring the plight of billions in the supposed hell, which doesn’t exist. You know what, this planet that we’re on is heaven and hell at the same time, make the most of it and show that you care about others. This is the last chance to live that you have and by piggy backing through it is probably the biggest waste of time I have ever seen. You are so lucky to be here so why not make the best of it.

    Sorry I got carried away again Hugo…

    Regards
    Reminiscence

  • 24 Reminiscence // May 28, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    Meant “word” not “world”, lol…

    Regards
    Reminiscence

  • 25 johannes_11 // May 28, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    Hugo

    Wie ookal God se uitverkore volk is, het in anyWay geen kans om te resist nie…..

    (Act 10:34) Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

    (Heb 8:10) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

    God is busy to wipe out ‘religion’ and is now putting His laws into the minds and hearts of His elect…

    Fortunately this final harvest is now busy taking place outside chuches and church structures.

  • 26 Michelle // May 28, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    “Oh, and the brainwashings were not at the hands of my parents, they were at the hands of books that unfortunately found their way into my hands at the wrong time. ”

    Similar for me, but in my case it was schools. I had a perfectly sane (in my opinion) view of God etc until my parents sent me to a convent school. I was only there 3 years, but it took ages to whack the nuns doom and gloom “All life is sin and we are born to suffer” out of my subconscious.

    I wrote about that on a friend’s blog – http://premalathakombai.blogspot.com/

    In case you want to know how an unorthodox Pantheist astrologer thinks. :-D

  • 27 Hugo // May 28, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    Reminiscence: you did get carried away, yes. Wendy gave what she knew from her opinion and experience, the impression she is under, and I am glad about her contribution. She did not attack anyone, she did not send anyone to hell. I do not see any “bad fruits” in her comment. I do see bad fruits in yours though, and that has me riled up.

    Take this sentence, for example: “Surely Wendy you need to spend more time reading your bible.” That really does seem like a personal attack, I feel it is uncalled-for. I do understand where you’re coming from though. You are responding to a certain stereotype you have come across, her comment triggered it in your mind. Please try to remember that: you are responding to your impressions and interpretation of her comment, you are not responding to her personally. (Yes, I also make the same mistake, I must also keep that in mind.)

    I do have the good fortune of being able to call Wendy friend. (Unfortunately we haven’t seen each other in quite some time.) In fact, she also played her little part in helping me escape from the latent effects of the brainwashings I suffered in my youth (though she doesn’t know it, I’m sure). For that, I am thankful. I suppose I should tell her some time? Anyway, as such, I am grieved by your rant.

    Yes, some atheists are lashing out at moderates, blaming them for the existence of fundamentalists. I strongly disagree with that. What is wrong with believing there is a creator? Nothing. So let people believe it, if they so prefer, especially if it doesn’t affect their lives adversely in any other way?

    Furthermore, I really don’t think Wendy was condemning atheists to hell, in the way that an “angry atheist” might interpret her comment, and the thing I expect you are responding to. Consider the context: I asked a question and she was nice enough to answer, what she thinks, from her opinion. That is hugely different from someone going around telling people “oh, you have to believe that the fossil record is a lie, else you will burn in hell for a very, very long time”… I asked a question, she gave her honest answer, stating that it is but her opinion of what she thinks Jesus would say. Nothing wrong with that, no need to attack. (You know, you could even argue she didn’t even state that she believes in Jesus. But that’s me just being pedantic.)

    I do understand you wanted to make an example of her comment though…? I completely agree people should live their life to the full. One way they could do that, is by not devoting their life to the study of the Bible (a rather remarkable piece of cultural heritage). They are getting on with their life, by not studying it.

    I suppose you feel you are just trying to educate people? If you want do that, please ensure you are well educated yourself… I do completely disagree with you on a number of counts. Let me guess, have you by any chance watched “The God Who Wasn’t There”? That documentary presents the perspectives you seem to have. People who pride themselves in “thinking critically” should realize such documentaries are by no means reliable, balanced accounts…

    Yes, there are some people that deny Jesus ever existed. You are presenting that as fact… it is by no means a fact. General scholarly consensus agrees that he did indeed exist. As such, you are also very similar to johannes_11, and to the fundamentalists. We all make that “mistake”, in some way or another. (You accused me of it in the discussion about veganism. ;) )

    (Also, you talked about the “40 year gap”. Go read about Oral tradition.)

  • 28 Reminiscence // May 28, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    Sorry everything is all mixed up in this post, in a rush to get somewhere…

    First off forget about it, I obviously, in your opinion didn’t understand what the message of Michelle’s statement entails. It may have sounded like a personal attack on her, but rather it was an attack on Christians and religious people alike. An attack to spark critical thinking, rather than approving everyone’s own opinion of the world today.

    I think teaching children to believe in something like religion causes a warped sense of morality and critical thinking. Since she is your friend it is justified that you stand up for her. At least you can be relied on in times of need.

    Ys I did watch The God Who Wasn’t There and Root of All Evil? and Jesus Camp, and read various amounts of books on the subject. Ofcourse your readers and the majority of your friends are religious that’s why you respect their ideas. But should we respect everyone that has a vision of the world as it is today? And no I’m not angry, I’m passionate about my subject matter.

    A fundamentalist is someone not willing to change their minds no matter how much evidence is stacked against them, I am willing to change my mind as long as there is evidence stacked against me. And I don’t see anything. You yourself haven’t touched upon anything that I’ve said as wrong, where’s your proof that you are right? You’re too liberal, understandably so, you have a social order to maintain.

    I consider myself educated on my subject matter, I can think critically about it, and not just shrug off whatever is being said. Some of these posts are so obscure I dunno what is being said by them. Are you educated on your subject matter yourself? The only thing you’re discussing is personal issues and things as such.

    I dunno these people in real life and can’t sum up their personality through a couple of sentences so you must understand that I could make a mistake on pointing fingers sometimes, and you could do the same about me. So don’t sum me up for what I’m doing here. All I wanna do is have rational discussions with people.

    Can I find it here?

    Regards
    Reminiscence

  • 29 Hugo // May 28, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    And thanks to johannes_11 who comes to illustrate so well what kind of thing Reminiscence gets all riled up about. ;)

    I am contemplating the idea of asking johannes_11 to not comment on my blog. I think I might opt instead for simply coming to the understanding that I reserve the right to call his comments bullshit whenever he posts them here. Is that alright? Do you think it would make me a hypocrite?

    Michelle – I read that post, nice! Childhood brainwashing, evil. See:
    http://www.reallivepreacher.com/node/869

    Pantheism is interesting. Marcus Borg (one of my current favourite authors) is sometimes called a Panentheist, for another interesting concept. I wonder what label my current notion of “God” would take…

    Of course, I also typically label astrology as bullshit. Just so you know. ;) Maybe something you come across often? Do you feel astrology is misrepresented in popular culture? I am under the impression it is either unfalsifiable or that it has been falsified. Furthermore, I am currently unaware of any positive influence it has had, whereas I am aware of negative influences. Do you think it classifies as a “religion”? Should I tolerate it as long as it doesn’t “bear bad fruit”? Or may I fight it in favour of an “education”?

    *sigh*… Welcome to the world of religion. All of this gives you new respect for the scientific method, which is about “how to really know something…”

  • 30 Hugo // May 28, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    That’s a better post, Reminiscence. Thanks.

    Rational discussion is welcome and encouraged. Personal attacks aren’t. As a friend of mine points out: you can’t have an open discussion if people feel threatened. Of course, I must probably also give up on the idea of blog comments being a “friendly discussion with my friends”, this is the internet…

    Yes, I am indeed educated on the subject matter. (I have two drafts of posts that might fill in some of those details, I don’t have time to finish them both soon though. Especially not after spending this time commenting…)

    I also had an initial reaction to Wendy’s post, that I then re-examined. Maybe I would not have, if she had posted anonymously… that is the problem, we all get worked up much too easily and quickly. (Me definitely included, I am also passionate about the subject matter.)

    Bear in mind: she does not necessarily know what her statement entails. She also didn’t know what she was letting herself into by posting here. (Your reaction, for example.)

  • 31 Michelle // May 29, 2007 at 1:08 am

    Hi Hugo

    Glad you enjoyed my blog entry.

    “Of course, I also typically label astrology as bullshit. Just so you know. Maybe something you come across often?”

    No, not really. You’re the third person I’ve met to say that astrology is BS. One was a friend’s husband. He was very put out when I laughed. He seemed to expect me to be annoyed by his having his own opinion. I wasn’t then, I’m not now. You have every right to your beliefs, or disbeliefs, as anyone else.

    “Do you feel astrology is misrepresented in popular culture?”

    mmm.. tricky. There are so many variations on astrology nowadays. It’s not as rigid as it once was. Some versions definitely are still crap, some aren’t.

    ” I am currently unaware of any positive influence it has had, whereas I am aware of negative influences.”

    I would agree with horoscopes (I don’t do forecasting astrology. I don’t believe things are pre-ordained), but disagree with consultations. I’ve never had a negative consultation ever.

    “Do you think it classifies as a “religion”?”

    Good heavens no! I never even considered it spiritual, to be honest. I see it as a tool towards understanding human character. A type of profiling I suppose.

    “Should I tolerate it as long as it doesn’t “bear bad fruit”? Or may I fight it in favour of an “education”?”

    I think that might be an oxymoron, but that is just my opinion. I have worked with a psychologist who did not think astrology was the result of a lack of education. I also had a chance to discuss the concept of astrology, DNA and electromagnetics with an armchair scientist (engineer by trade) once. Admittedly neither believed in the stars being the source for astrology, but then I am out on that vote myself. “Out” as in that I feel there is no solid proof either way at this stage, but once again – that’s just my opinion.

  • 32 Michelle // May 29, 2007 at 1:29 am

    PS

    I went and read the link you left me. Thanks. I enjoyed it.

  • 33 Reminiscence // May 29, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    I also think astrology is bullshit.

    To think that stars that is so far away from us, and the possibility of them still existing is in doubt, have any effect on our lives whatsoever is just plain crazy talk. It falls under the same category as religion.

    Our lives has no meaning get over it. Once we’re gone the whole system would go on as it has for billions of years before us. Read some Nietzsche.

    Now if you did some research on astronomy you would understand why stars are there and why we can see them and how they have no effect on our lives. A good start on that subject is any book by Stephen Hawkins, and any well known sci-fi writers like Asimov, and Clark etc.

    So yeah astrology like religion is a lack of education.

    Regards
    Reminiscence

  • 34 Hugo // May 29, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    I see significant differences between religion and astrology though. Religion is our cultural heritage and it had a valuable and specific function. (Depending on how you define it these days, it still can have, but never mind that.)

    One day I’ll have time to read some Nietzsche as well. One day…

    (Keeping comments short, on the hope that I can provide more info on a later day, apologies that I cannot right now.)

  • 35 Reminiscence // May 29, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    So astrology is not in our cultural heritage and tradition, and it doesn’t play a specific function? You really need to emphasize on what you are saying. Cause just saying something without backing it up really makes it look like you’re just expressing your own personal opinion and that is not being rational.

    I am still looking for someone to give me a good reason on why they believe, excluding tonnes of evidence against their argument. Scientific communities such as geologists, archeologists, astronomers, anthropologists, all have brought up enough evidence to make you think that religion and astrology it’s all a load of crock.

    Tell me Hugo, do you deny science above faith?

    Check this article out, it’s quite short so don’t worry: http://home.vicnet.net.au/~atheist/ShouldReligionsBeTolerated.htm

    Regards
    Reminiscence

  • 36 Michelle // May 29, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    Hi Reminiscence

    If you read my reply here you’d already know I already voiced doubts about the stars theory. IMO astrology doesn’t believe stars effect people, it is more the idea that when a planet is in a certain area of the sky it has a certain effect. The zodiac was only used as a measuring device, IMO. And as for a planet’s position affecting the earth and living growing things.. we already know through science that this is true. Admittedly the closer a body the more influence it has, but I’m trying to be breif here.

    One personal comment – If life had no meaning, why does it bother you what people believe? Isn’t that contradictory? Why does it offend you that I am happy being and believing whatever I choose? Surely what you seem to be striving for is a humanity that makes eductated choices? Educated choices are made by being open and learning more, not by jumping to assumptions.

    And for the record.. I have read all the Sci-Fi writers you suggest. I’ve watched Hawkins’ excellent diocumentary on space and black holes, but I must admit I’ve never read him.

    Now why don’t you try reading Jung. I prefer Jung to Nietzsche. I believe in hope.. must be my chronic lack of education. ;-)

  • 37 Reminiscence // May 29, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Just cause life has no meaning doesn’t mean we just give up on everything. It means that we should give meaning to our lives here on earth and make the most of it. And unfortunately religion and astrology hasn’t done any good on our side of things. It has held us back as a specie.

    And when I meant meaning anyways, I meant that when all this comes to an end due to our fault, the system would just go on. MEANING that whatever we did HAD absolutely NO EFFECT on things in the universe. But a suicide bomber has an effect on the people he causes damage too. The same with a person driving through a poor area ignoring their plight.

    Here I’m referring to religious people, whether you are one of those or not so be it. It doesn’t bother me that you’re happy, but it does bother me that people believe in a sky god and think your life now is a preparation for the after life. That is false hope and it in turn makes you not living your life to the full here now. It makes you run on 10 rules for the rest of your life and as long as you follow those you are happy and safe from judgment day when you die. But in turn you’re not encouraged to care about the plight of millions if not billions of other beings suffering on a daily basis. You are encouraged to ignore. And ignorance is bliss.

    Of course how far the sun is away from us affects our planet. But it doesn’t affect you as decide how your day will be and what your future holds. That is what I was referring to on Astrology.

    I haven’t read any Jung, would one day when I get a chance look into it. Got some bad reviews from like minded people such as myself, and good reviews from people such as you.

    Read my latest blog entry btw…

    Regards
    Reminiscence

  • 38 Hugo // May 29, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Hehe. Hope is good. I also still want to read some Jung.

    Marcus Borg went via “closet atheism” back to faith (very different from the faith of his youth though). That move was made following a “numinous experience”, it seems. Something I come across quite often in references, is “The Varieties of Religious Experience” by some guy whose name I can’t remember right now. Should be an interesting read, no matter your perspective.

    R: of course I don’t deny science above faith. I’m a big fan of science. I have great dislike for bigotry though, and my approach for dealing with it in myself, is to look for the good in something before I criticize it. (Then after that, I criticize away, if I feel it is necessary.) And yes, I do think it is a bunch of bull that a planet’s position can have an effect on my life, I’m trying to make peace with letting Michelle believe that if she wants. (I do not know where to draw the line though, if she tries to sell that to my children, if I ever get any, of course, I would be concerned. Hopefully I would have done a good enough job of educating them that they will also reject nonsense.)

    Sorry, I do not have time to define religion right now, or explain my perspectives, sorry. That is kinda what this post was supposed to say. So for now you’d have to be satisfied (or not, *grin*) with my “personal opinion”. Thus, in my personal opinion, there is no reason not to tolerate “good religion”, and fighting “bad religion” can waste your life away. That link you provide is unfortunately too long for me to read right now. (As is commenting as verbosely as I am… aargh! Why am I unable to just ignore comments and let them be? Maybe I should disable commenting? Don’t want to do that either. Grrr.)

  • 39 Hugo // May 29, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    Tonight I’m disabling comments on this post. Self preservation and all that. And I will be getting in the last word, sorry. ;)

  • 40 johannes_11 // May 29, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Hugo…. if you when me to stop posting just say … johannes stop posting, and i will do so. No sweat, honestly.

    This message is going out worldwide via radio anyWay… and is being listen in all of the financially poor but “spiritually rich” third world countries.

    The financially rich but spiritually poor first world countries is serving their own “gods”.

    Just tell an i will stop posting any comments on “your blog”.

    May the Lord richly bless you.

    johannes coetzee

  • 41 Michelle // May 29, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Hi Hugo

    Sorry for taking up your reply space with a debate with Rem. I’ll move on to his/her blog and leave you in peace.

    I will say though that I get the feeling people are seeing astrology as horoscopes. I don’t do horoscopes. They are crap. I dislike them because they can be harmful and they are usually based on generic nothings. I never read horoscopes ever. Please do instruct your kids to do the same.

    have a nice day! :-)
    Michelle

  • 42 Reminiscence // May 29, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    Hey guys lemme finish off here as well. Thanks for tolerating me for so long Hugo and Michelle and co.

    First off, it’s okay to hold onto old traditions, for the sake of preserving it. But don’t tell me your old tradition should be respected cause of the fact that it’s tradition. If you deny science,cause of faith in a sky god, and you force your children to believe in the sky god, then that’s wrong. That’s indoctrination. And we all know that’s wrong.

    I am very passionate about the subject and I don’t claim to know everything. Yet when I do get the chance to raise my voice, I do. If you don’t agree with it, or think what I’m saying is bollocks then tell me and explain to me why, then I’ll understand. And I’ll learn from my mistakes as I have done since I was a little boy.

    But wouldn’t it be best if we could learn from other people’s mistakes before we make it ourselves?

    Lemme end off with a small article:

    THE CREED OF SCIENCE
    By Robert G. Ingersoll
    To love justice, to long for the right, to love mercy, to pity the suffering, to assist the weak, to forget wrongs and remember benefits—to love the truth, to be sincere, to utter honest words, to love liberty, to wage relentless war against slavery in all its forms, to love wife and child and friend, to make a happy home, to love the beautiful in art, in nature, to cultivate the mind, to be familiar with the mighty thoughts that genius has expressed, the noble deeds of all the world, to cultivate courage and cheerfulness, to make others happy, to fill life with the splendor of generous acts, the warmth of loving words, to discard error, to destroy prejudice, to
    receive new truths with gladness, to cultivate hope, to see the calm beyond the storm, the dawn beyond the night, to do the best that can be done and then to be resigned—this is the religion of reason, the creed of science. This satisfies the heart and brain.

    All the best…

    Regards
    Reminiscence

  • 43 Hugo // May 29, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    Thanks guys, that was a nice wrap-up. Your last post is my favourite (of all your posts), R. I can agree wholeheartedly with it.

    All the best for you too, Michelle. No hard feelings about me calling your field bullshit, I hope. ;-)

    What to tolerate, and what not to, that will have to be discussed some other day. Just keep looking for the good in people, and be compassionate. How’s that for a corny way to end this. I mean it though. ;)

    [Comments locked for this post.]
    [Update: comments unlocked again. The storm has passed.]

  • 44 Bring Me Richard Dawkins, preferably alive! // Jan 3, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    [...] to look at how far I’ve come in eight months. Back in May 2007, I made this blog post: Imagine No Religion. The last paragraph contains this sentence: “I am moving on, I am abandoning my little [...]

  • 45 Hans Matthysen // Jan 21, 2009 at 9:05 am

    Daar is blykbaar min wat God werklik ken en Jesus Christus wie Hy gestuur het (Joh. 17 v 3). Daar het baie verleiers uitgegaan en daarom die baie verwarring en ongeloof, in wat God deur Jesus tot stand gebring het.

Leave a Comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>