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Do You Believe in God?

By Mrs. Julien | Comment Diversions | April 13, 2013 | Comments ()


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No. You?

That was easy.

Little Julien: Mum, do you believe in creation in 7 days or in Charles Darwin?
Me: I believe in evolution like Darwin said. Adam and Eve is a myth.
Little Julien: Why do some people believe in Adam and Eve?
Me: Before we had science people made stories to explain things they didn't understand.
Little Julien: So God is a myth people made to explain things?

What followed was a huge amount of tongue biting owing to a promise I made to Mr. Julien that I would not share my lack of belief in the Divine with our child. Clearly, logic and time will take care of it for me.

Growing up, we always droned grace before dinner:

LordblessthisfoodtoouruseandustotheserviceinJesusnameamen.

Except that there are four children in our family, so, often, my mother would bellow LORD! to get our attention. On special occasions, we used a different grace and we sang it. The Dowager Julien went church shopping when I was about 8 and I got dragged along for the ride. She ended up with the Anglicans, that's Episcopalian to you Americans, and I ended up in the junior choir and became quite religious. Then I got plunked in an Anglican girls' school for eight years. There were daily Prayers, Christmas carol service, green knee socks, Anglophilia, the works! This documentary footage is old, but it affords valuable insight into the experience:

My strident "I don't believe in fairy tale creatures" atheism is actually a fairly recent development. It was more of a process of separation than a sudden revelation. For a long time, I held on to "God" because I thought that without "Him" there could be no virtue. I had to disentangle ethics and morality from religion because they are so intertwined in our culture.

I believe in the miracle of science. We invented religion to explain things we didn't understand and it turns out that the universe is even more beautiful and complicated than we ever could have imagined. "God" is too small for the universe as we understand it now, woefully inadequate. I find the notion of a participatory deity cruel because it rationalizes and justifies pain and suffering. I find the notion of a non-participatory deity pointless. What I find most interesting is that although I do not share a belief in a magical entity created in the Bronze Age, I am the one who has to be careful not to offend people by sharing that entirely rational and logical notion. Religion is so engrained that I participate in protecting the collective delusion; moreover, I'm part of it.. I was married in a church and I still celebrate the holidays as a "cultural Christian". Easter is a weird enough concept to begin with, but it's even stranger when the whole thing is reduced to chocolate from a magical rabbit.







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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • sweetfrancaise

    I don't believe in the idea of any god. My faith lies purely in the goodness of the human heart, that everyone has good in them (terribly optimistic, I know). It is worth our while to make things better for all, for tomorrow, for this is the reality that matters.

  • Slash

    Yeah, I'm late to this, sorry, but RE "What I find most interesting is that although I do not share a belief in a magical entity created in the Bronze Age, I am the one who has to be careful not to offend people by sharing that entirely rational and logical notion."

    This. I mean, if people ask, I (unapologetically) say I'm an atheist. Most people leave it at that. But I live and work in Texas (and my mother is a straight-up fundy), so I keep my opinions to myself, for the most part. You never know which coworker you might irreparably alienate with your darned logic and reason.

    Adults don't wanna know the truth (children, at least, haven't had their natural curiosity beaten out of them yet). Adults sure as hell don't want the truth rubbed in their faces. They want to believe lies. I don't know why, other than cowardice on the part of the majority of them and corruption on the part of the powers that be, who know that people happy to believe nonsense and fairy tales are easier to manipulate.

  • dannyexplosion

    Personal beliefs are great. I like to keep them to myself. But congratulations for whatever this is.

  • BBB40

    It's not that I don't believe in God, I just don't care.

    I'd prefer that there was no God because the alternative is sad and/or frightening. If God exists, he's either powerless or incompetent or an asshole.

    I imagine most people have a "Powerball List" - a list of things they would do and people they would help if they suddenly ended up with a ridiculous amount of money. God wins the Powerball every damn day and does fuckall with it.

    Fuck Cancer. Fuck Hunger. Fuck War.

    Fuck God.

  • Ed

    No, I don't believe in God. I also think people should be free to believe whatever the hell they want to believe. That doesn't mean I won't shake my head and judge the dickheads pushing with all their might on the door clearly marked 'pull'.

  • Nope.

  • Maguita NYC

    Woa Zeke, I was so sure you believed in the God of Vodka 'N Boobs. What happened?

  • It's a Tuesday, that's what happened. I have a crisis of faith every week around this time.
    Don't you worry, as soon as 6pm tonight happens I'll be able to see Wednesday, and then as per usual my faith in the One True God of Vodka 'N Boobs will return, stronger and more fierce than ever.
    Our church always has room for more true believers by the way...

  • Maguita NYC

    ... I finally understand why Wednesday is hump day!
    And sorry Zeke, no matter how much Xenu-like you go on my ass, I'm not interested in your god. For I am the owner of much adored Boobs, and rather prefer Gin. Any day of the week.

  • Ah, you are the Owner of Boobs! In that case forgive my transgressions; as is the fate of my gender I am at your service.
    Also yes, Gin is goddamn awesome. G(oddamn)I(ncredible)N(nectar)

  • Adrien

    Yes. I believe in God.

  • Arran

    No. Not at all.

    That was easy.

  • Everything in the last paragraph sums my beliefs up nicely.

  • Foundandnotlost

    The creationist/evolution conflict is beyond me. Sure, God can create everything in a six days, but he can't create a system that can improve upon itself?

    Essentially evolution deniers are saying that God is too stupid to have created evolution. I wouldn't want to worship anyone like that.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    I'm not an atheist, I'm agnostic. One of those who doesn't care about gods beyond them being more or less interesting myths. Gods are not involved in my personal life, and frankly, I'd be terrified if they were. Human beings are able to do very ugly stuff if they set their mind on it. More powerful beings would be worse.

    Just look at what the Christian/Jewish/Muslim god did to Job. He fucked up the life of one of his (or her) adherents because of a damn bet. if that's who you believe to be a benign entity, you're in deeper shit than you think.

  • I was raised in a kind of lazily-pagan household in which there were occasional rituals and holiday gatherings and mostly a lot of 'don't bug me with your stupid-ass questions, go figure that shit out for yourself.' That attitude ranged from 'what does this word mean?' to questions how to fix a broken toy or how to cook something or details about faith and belief to 'the kids at school keep asking what church we go to, and I don't know what to tell them.'

    I've never attended a Christian church, and I live in a heavily Christian area. At Christmas, several downtown buildings leave lights on a night to form giant crosses. When I was young, there were a few times when my mom got kind of panicked and told my brother and myself to not tell people we were pagan because she was afraid we'd be taken away (how much of that was rampant paranoia and how much of it was rooted in actual truth I can't venture to guess, though I tend to assume more of the former than latter). When I started classes at new schools, one of the first questions other students asked was always what church I attend. In college, a complete stranger walked up to me to ask if I knew where she could find the nearest church of some denomination or other because I apparently looked like I'd know. I've yet to start a new job where the first day interrogation didn't include 'will you join our Bible study group?' along with the 'married/kids/why not?' line. People show up on my door to ask if I'll go to some church function or other they have going on and get really alarmed when I decline (in that case, I'm always curious: what if I go to another church, just not theirs?).

    I presume that in my daily life, I've met my fair share of practicing Jews and Muslims and Buddists and Hindus and people of other, non-Christian faiths. In our area, I guess they're as bombarded by the constant expectation that they be Christian as I am, and they've learned to be quiet and aim to go under the radar, too.

    For a number of years, I've been back and forth on matters of faith and belief. As a lifelong outsider, I find Christianity kind of baffling and depressing and alienating, and while I don't dislike or disapprove or have much of any opinion about other people being Christian, it's definitely not for me. Although it wasn't the first or the last nail in that coffin, an extremely Christian boss of mine (who knew not a damned thing about me, for reasons of self-defense) once told me she could never vote for Obama because he's Muslim. I pointed out that he's obviously Christian--at the time there was some big scandal about something the priest at his church had said or done. Her answer? "He was raised Muslim, so he'll never really be Christian." That broke my heart, baffled me, and solidified the notion that I'm never going to waste my time trying to be a part of something that won't truly accept me for reasons of having not been raised that way (although it's worth keeping in mind that the same lady once told me that she doesn't think Catholics are real Christians, and probably can't be used as a gauge for the thoughts and attitudes of the average Christian. I hope).

    I've never thought of myself as an atheist or agnostic, and in recent years I started referring to myself as a secular humanist, at least until I was exposed to a large group of the folks who call themselves as much. Then I backed away slowly and decided I don't know what the hell to call myself or how to think of myself.

    All of which is an extremely long ramble leading towards: if you mean 'G' God, as in the God of the big three, then no. Pretty much the same if you're going to put any other name to it. I deeply value science and reason, and I think anyone who thinks that science takes the wonder and beauty out of the world just doesn't know enough about science, and I don't think science and faith and religion are mutually exclusive. Sometimes I look out at the world and I think there must be something more, some divine spark that animates life and creation, and that's beautiful. And sometimes I look out at the world and I think there's nothing truly out of the grasp of science and understanding, and that's beautiful, too.

  • I had a similar upbringing, though I grew up in the Upper Midwest where the prevalence of religiosity was limited to Friday Fish Fry. Both of my parents were "refugees" from highly conservative Christian areas though the strains of rebellion ran deep in both families. My parents were shaped by the Sixties and while I never recall them disabusing any particular faith I definitely remember being told to distrust the organizations themselves. Around eight years old I'd gone to a Lutheran Sunday School with my best friend for a few weeks and was given a box of numbered collection envelopes by the teacher. When I showed my father he said something that has stuck with me ever since: "They want Money and Obedience, that's the lesson to be learned here."

  • So I replied to this hours ago, and it appears Disqus might have eaten it. To be fair, when I posted it, Disqus was having a bad case of the hiccups.

    In any case, as a complete outsider who has only ever set foot in a Christian church to vote, Christianity is no less strange than Scientology. It just has the benefit of a longer history and more followers. This isn't to imply that Judaism, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Shinto, or anything else (including what I was more or less brought up in) isn't just as strange and baffling.

    Reading and studying doesn't really help. One God? Many gods? One God who appears to different peoples and different cultures in faces and aspects that suit each? Ancestors, who at least have some motivation to stick around and meddle? Spirits or some kind of spark or animus in anything and everything? There are stories and ideas and myths that come up all over the world, independently. Every culture seems to have its version of Cinderella. Surprisingly often, humans received fire from a tricker god--or at least one who got in a whole lot of trouble for doing it. I think that may reveal a sort of guilty conscience common to a lot of cultures. Gods and prophets and others who died and resurrected. Great floods.

    I sometimes feel like some sort of alien sleeper agent who was put here to observe and study and understand. Matters of faith and divinity and religion never seem to help.

  • The Heretic

    God?

    Whatever we believe in, whatever ultimate reality we subscribe to - be it the laws of physics for the physicist, the highest form of art for the aesthete, the greatest film/auteur for the film buff, the self for the narcissist, the Being of all beings, etc. - we all believe in a form of god, a metaphysical guarantee for everything else we believe in.

    Me? I believe in Pajiba. :)

  • googergieger

    I believe in the kindness of strangers. You know, as long as they pay for it.

  • BobbFrapples

    “...the scripture worshippers put the writings ahead of God. Instead of interpreting God's actions in nature, for example, they interpret nature in the light of the Scripture. Nature says the rock is billions of years old, but the book says different, so even though men wrote the book, and God made the rock and God gave us minds that have found ways to tell how old it is, we still choose to believe the Scripture.”
    ― Sherri S. Tepper, The Fresco

    I think there is a, "higher power," that gave us brains to think with, but it has more to do than to peep in our windows making sure we follow rules written by old men.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    that is a great quote. Thank you for sharing. The Gate to Women's Country has been on my to-read list for a while.

  • BobbFrapples

    The Family Tree is one of my favorite books by her. I hope you enjoy The Gate to Women's Country. :)

  • anikitty

    Nice job, Pajibans--a thoughtful and respectful conversation about a potentially volatile subject. You are my people.

    My answer is no, but I take no umbrage with people who do believe. I understand the comfort and appeal.I was raised Catholic and oddly enough when my partners mother was dying, no one was praying.I felt the need to observe the ritual because is comforting.

  • Mrcreosote

    If there were a God, would Christian rock suck so hard?

  • chanohack

    In (Christian) school I learned that Lucifer was in charge of music in
    heaven before it tried to take over God's job and was subsequently cast into the lake of fire. WHICH IS WHY the devil OFTEN works through the evil rock
    music we listen to. Most rock stars are possessed. (Yes, we learned this
    in school. We spent like a week on it. No lie.)

    That could be why Christian rock largely sucks. Because they're not demon-y enough.

  • HMDK

    Well, a lot of good rock has been made by christians. But if you're talking about the genre "Christian Rock"... That's the only proof that god exists and hates taste. Or that lucifer is god's agent at large.

  • meaux

    No. But I don't know there's not one(s), so there's no way I'm going to knock people who believe and find comfort in something (although if your "something" tells you to judge your fellow man, or to commit violence in its name, I'm not so cool with that).

    I can certainly see the appeal in knowing that there's some sort of after-life reward awaiting you; I just can't convince myself that's the case despite my mother's best efforts at instilling Catholicism in me.

    (And hey, I did not realize that Anglicans and Episcopalians were the same thing--thanks, Mrs. J, for that random fact of the day!)

  • Stony Tony

    I prefer common sense.

  • NotOnTheRug

    No. Never have, probably never will. This doesn't mean I'm not spiritual. And I do believe in the collective power of human energy and intention. So, for instance, I believe prayer is a powerful force, just not one that can grant wishes.

    As far as God goes, it blows my mind that people would rather believe a supernatural, all-powerful being created and continues to control the world/them, than that they are a piece of the amazing, incredible, awe-inspiring soup of chaotic beauty that is nature and the physical world and the universe. All the things that had to happen, all the tiny chemical reactions millions of years ago and five hundred years before your parents lived and five minutes before you were born, all the choices people had to make and random physical occurrences since the beginning of time, for you to end up as this person, in this body, at this time--I love that. I love knowing that I'm a unique spark of stardust that could never have happened before and could never happen again, the product of everything that has ever existed. I find that far more exciting and special than the idea that a sky creature thought me up and set me on some path according to some unknowable "plan" he has. That's just me.

    I think institutionalized religion is rarely not a force for evil.

  • Feralhousecat

    No. But I'm also not an atheist. I grew up in a house without religion so it doesn't really mean anything to me one way or the other. I live happily knowing I will never know. If I found out tomorrow that there is a god of some sort out there, I doubt it would change how I live my life in any real way. It would likely just depress me that the management is doing such a lousy job.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    I go agnostic, because I can't commit. Or more specifically, because I don't see a lot of point and/or reason to commit. Is there a God or Gods? I don't know, could be, I just doubt we'll be able to prove it one way or another any time all that soon. In the meantime, I don't really require any particular books of teachings or stories about not pissing off the big man in the sky to show me how to behave like a moral human being, so I don't read them.

    But hey, I'll be honest. Most days I lean towards hoping there's a God or Gods. I can't quite call it belief, but I definitely hope it's true. But then I consider the whole problem of evil and that gets to be an issue, which is most obviously explained by some kind of high priority placed on free will by the deity in question, etc., etc. and around we go, but even still, end of the day I think it'd be pretty cool to have Gods, and I usually hope it's a thing. But, you know, science-y gods, because science, and especially evolution? Not up for debate-- if I have a God, he's one hell of a scientist first and foremost.

  • Bodhi

    Nope, not really. I went to Catholic school from kindergarten to 12th grade & ended up getting a BA in Religious Studies (thats the academic approach to religion, not a theological approach).

    I just lost my twin boys to twin to twin transfusion syndrome. They were at 19 weeks gestation. I saw the best docs in the country & underwent emergency surgery, but the boys were just too sick. I get that some people find solace in God or religion or whatever, but I don't. And I will freak the fuck out on anyone who tells me it was God's plan. Ya know what? Fuck that & fuck any plan that involves me holding my teeny tiny son as he takes his last breath.

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    You have my condolences. I know that doesn't amount to a much, but I'm sorry nonetheless.

  • Maguita NYC

    I am so sorry for your loss.

  • Bodhi

    Thank you. My husband & I also have a 2yo little boy & he is helping us keep our shit together. Its hard to stay in bed all day when you have a toddler to entertain/ keep from killing himself

  • SpongebobSquarepeg

    Atheism is sometimes the only time in some people's lives where they get to feel smart. I think that's why they grab onto it so passionately, and try to make people feel terrible for having a different viewpoint. They will never get the chance again to feel intellectually superior to anyone.

    'YOU'RE BRAINWASHED! YOU'RE BEING FOOLED! YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC! I MYSELF CAME OUT THE WOMB KNOWING EVERYTHING!'

    Jesus would have hated militant atheists. And he wasn't a picky guy. He got drunk with hookers.

  • Brooke the Replicant

    Jesus also would have hated judgey assholes, so there's that.

  • SpongebobSquarepeg

    Yes. Because atheists never judge anyone.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't believe in God or any gods. To me though, that's all it is. A lack of belief. Not a stick with which to beat everyone who happens to have a different outlook in life. If their version of events is making them happier than I am, them I'd be silly to tell them that what they're doing is incorrect.

    Maybe I'm just an asshole like that.

  • MurderBot

    I love the term "Militant atheist".

    As though asking "Can you prove that?" equates someone to a Middle Age Crusader or a fundamentalist bomber! :P

  • SpongebobSquarepeg

    I mean it in the sense that of all the Christians, Muslims and other religious people on my Facebook, the only ones I see putting up image macros about religion are atheists.

    Sorry if I used a simplified, pigeon-hole term. What I mean is, 'active non-believers'.

  • MrMinion

    I'll go out on a limb here and say that you probably wouldn't call Christians who post images of their bible or Jesus or whatever "militant Christians". Probably not even "active believers". Because that's normal and not worth to point out.

  • SpongebobSquarepeg

    And no, I'd just call them 'twats'. And then I'd delete them.

    Who posts pictures of their bibles anyway?

  • SpongebobSquarepeg

    Well, I've never seen anyone on my friends list do that, so I guess I'm just capable of choosing friends who I don't hate :-)

  • abell

    Yes. Respectfully, the arguments I've been reading here about why believing in God is as reasonable as believing in unicorns is indicative of sloppy thought. The logic at work here is that since God can't be proved by Science (or, more specifically, cannot be proven by empirical observation), He does not exist. Of course, that's ignoring that there's several other methods of knowing. For example, Geometric Proofs are true, though they're not determined by Observation, but, by Logic. Indeed, Mathematics works from abstract Logic, which is not Scientific, but, still true. Indeed, Science relies on Mathematics, in the same way that Mathematics relies on Philosophy. In short, Observation (Science) is not the only way of knowing.

    To take another perspective on this subject, Science is awesome. Super great. It is a wonderful way of understanding the material world, or, if you prefer, the physical world. (Hence why it's called physics. Or Vice Versa. Chicken and Egg). Anyway, conversations about what exists outside the physical world belongs to the realm of Metaphysics, which includes Theology, etc. You can argue that there's nothing other than the Physical world, (Materialism or Physicalism), but, that's a Metaphysical argument, not a Scientific argument. So, using Science, which is related to the observation of the physical world, as a Metaphysical argument against God, is the equivalent of using Biology to disprove Particle Physics.

    There are plenty of arguments to not believe in God, but, the "Science obviously disproves God" argument is doesn't logically hold up..

  • foolsage

    I think it's hard to have a good conversation about these topics without introducing terms like "noumenon". In short, a phenomenon is a thing that we can perceive, while a noumenon is a thing that we cannot perceive. God, as we generally define the idea, is noumenal; there's no direct evidence of God's existence, nor is there direct evidence that God does not exist. All evidence for and against God's existence is logical, not phenomenal.

    Science cannot prove or disprove hypotheses about noumena because noumena by their nature cannot be perceived; that which cannot be perceived cannot be tested.

    Science doesn't disprove God, nor does Science prove God. Science can't have an opinion on the topic.

  • abell

    Yes. I tried to avoid going that far into depth, but, you're quite right. Thank you for further clarifications.

    Additionally, do you have a background in Phenomenology? You don't run into a lot of that, its not very popular these days. Because if Pajiba isn't the right forum to talk about philosophical nuances, I don't know what is.

  • foolsage

    I'm an amateur ontologist and an armchair epistemologist. I am fascinated by the primal levels of philosophy; what is, what we can know, and so forth.

  • NotOnTheRug

    You're making a pretty big assumption in your argument, and that's that everyone agrees that Metaphysics is a field to be taken seriously as a "way of knowing". Metaphysics may as well be World Literature or Psychology, as far as I'm concerned: a way of examining human behaviors and the constructs they create to explain the world around them. That doesn't mean Metaphysics isn't interesting, or deserving of debate; but a "way of knowing", it is not.

    To paint a picture for you of the way some atheists like myself see it: 1. Humans are awed and confused by physical world they can't explain. 2. Humans invent a supernatural being that created and controls the world. 3. This explanation works for most people and REALLY works for a select group of people who figure out how to make money and control the populace through dissemination and support of the belief in the human-imagined supernatural being. 4. Institutions based on supernatural being are formed and become entrenched. 5. Metaphysics, a way of discussing the issues surrounding the supernatural being and its (entirely human-imagined, but that's forgotten by this point) existence, is "studied" by people who want to "know stuff". 6. Slowly, people figure out that there's a better way of "knowing stuff", based on observation of what's actually around them, rather than study of something the human mind imagined millennia ago. 7. Those heavily invested in the belief of the supernatural being are Very Upset, and insist that since their way is older and can't be disproven, and Metaphysics is something people once thought was the only "way of knowing", belief in the supernatural being should still be taken as seriously as observation of reality, and anyone who says otherwise is being rull offensive.

    I'm not saying the above is definitive; I'm simply trying to show you how a lot of atheists see things, and illustrate why comparing Metaphysics to Particle Physics in your argument is bound to earn you a few eyerolls.

  • abell

    Yea, this is what I was getting at with the concept of sloppy thought. First, my post has two separate arguments that are providing different examples as to why you can't science away God, that you conflated. The first is talking about ways of knowing (science being one way, logic another, etc). The second is talking about the primacy of intellectual fields (metaphysics vs physics). So, obviously, no, metaphysics is not a way of knowing, those were two different conversations. You didn't actually respond to the first bit, so, I'm going to move on to the metaphysics conversation.

    Metaphysics is not invented anymore than Physics is. They are fields of study to answer questions about existence. Metaphysics answers questions as to why things exist, whereas Physics is confined to how bodies interact. You can argue that God is invented as an answer to solve Metaphysics, but, that does not invalidate Metaphysics. Indeed, you can hold the position that the Physical world is all that exists, but, that is a Metaphysical argument in itself, and fundamentally can't be proven or disproven by the Scientific. Science is limited in that it describes mechanical actions between physical bodies, but, it can't offer any more than that. If item a is traveling at vector x, and item b is traveling at vector y, what happens when they intersect at point i? Physics is there for you and can answer forward and backwards from that point. However, it can't say why these things are in the first place, or where the motive force comes from. The farther back we work, even to the Bang does not answer what came before, or why it would exist in the first place. Why is there Something instead of Nothing. Hence Metaphysics. While I argued that Metaphysics is to Physics as Physics is to Biology, as I consider the one to have primacy over the other, perhaps you would be satisfied if I modified that to the Metaphysics is to Physics as English Literature is to Physics. They're not answering the same questions, and it would make about the same amount of sense to try to explain Particle Physics in term of Critical Theory.

  • Ben

    As a kid we had religion lessons in school and in year 7 a teacher told me that people used to live with dinosaurs and i laughed at her cause i thought she was joking and then got in trouble. That was about when i realised this religion thing want for me. As i hgrew up i really can't get past the free will dilemma

  • WateryTart

    I side with Joseph Campbell in that "All religions are true, just not literal." I think you're wrong -- religions AREN'T actually explanations for the unexplained. They aren't about whether or not there was a Creator. They're a metaphorical, abstractly-written instruction manual to personal enlightenment and fulfillment. Heaven IS real, but it's internal. It is a place of personal fulfillment, here on Earth. Eternity really means now. There is an infinite set of numbers between 1 and 2. "Eternal life" exists between 1 and 2, between tick and tock. Most of the Old Testament was appropriated from the myths of other peoples because of their metaphorical resonance! Buddha, Jesus, Moses, and Muhammad were all philosophers who used abstract language to explain something, an internal transcendence of sorts that was very concrete and real, but ineffable.

    Unfortunately people take these metaphors as literal facts. They were never meant to be taken literally. People love shortcuts. They eat up the buzzword get-out-of-jail-free-card of "Love Jesus and live forever!" and wave this banner, trying to advertise poetry as history. And then you have the smug atheists who think they're so intelligent that they realize the Bible has factual inconsistencies. Of course it does! It's fiction. But it's also true on an abstract level, and they dismiss is as something far less complex than it actually is.

    Whether or not there was/is an actual Creator is completely separate form religion. Religion is about earthly, personal fulfillment. Science has yet to bury a deity or creator, but I think most scientists would agree that if there is a deity, it is not intervening. Science will eventually prove one way or another whether or not there is/was a Creator at the start of the universe, but I doubt we will find out in our lifetime. For now, I think we just have to respect the mystery and seek out our enlightenment internally. People just need to understand and respect religion for what IT ACTUALLY IS: factually false, but also incredibly true.

    I'm a long-time lurker, first time commenter BTW. I think Pajiba has some of the best writing the internet has to offer.

  • NotOnTheRug

    I think this is a pretty good illustration of the problems with mainstream religion, and also a pretty good illustration of "spiritual atheism". Just because you're a Christian/Muslim/whathaveyou doesn't mean you're spiritual, and just because you're an atheist doesn't mean you're NOT spiritual.

    You lose me at "people need to respect religion", but I suspect you actually mean "spirituality". Religion, to me, is the institution, not the belief.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Religion = belief system. It doesn't necessarily have to have an organization behind it.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Welcome longtime lurker! I hope you continue to comment.

    Please don't lob any swords at me.

  • e jerry powell

    I know, I'm so damned pedantic.

    "Oh, but you can't expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you."

    THEN

    "Oh, but if I went 'round sayin' I was Emperor, just because some moistened bint lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away."

  • chanohack

    I like you.

  • e jerry powell

    It's good that somebody does.

  • e jerry powell

    Well, I didn't vote for you.

  • ,

    "I think Pajiba has some of the best writing the Internet has to offer."

    Amen.

    Errrr ... um ...

  • ,

    Not anymore, I don't.

    The deciders: 2-year-olds with leukemia and 72-year-olds with Alzheimer's. If You are all-powerful, You can do something about that. If You don't, what kind of cruel motherfucker are You? My grandmother was as faithful and god-fearing a woman as ever existed, and she spent years babbling and wearing a diaper. This is how the faithful get treated? This is a path I should follow? Fuck that.

    Oddly enough, it was my mother who pushed me over the edge. We would be taking some mundane trip and mom would say, "I'll be praying for you." I'd say, "Why don't you pray for the people who really need it? There are lots of people who are worse off than we are." And mom said, "I don't care about anybody else."

    Whether she was joking (and I bet she wasn't) or not, that was pretty much the end of the line.

  • Bo Darville

    I guess I'm a "believer" but I never thought of God as this nice old man sitting on a cloud running the world and making it so nobody ever suffers.

  • kiniki

    For me the argument as to why God allows terrible things to happen is answered by the fact that the Earth wasn't created to be perfection.

    Heaven is. Earth is a test, there is pain, struggle... if you can keep your faith despite all this then the reward is an afterlife where pain and suffering don't exist.

  • BBB40

    This practically my exact situation. Although it was several strokes rather than Alzheimer's. A mind is a terrible thing to have stolen by disease.

  • Mrs. Julien

    THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

  • Robb Ludwig

    Here's what I believe, as curtly as possible. And yes, it came to me in a dream.

    I was laying in bed, dying. I could feel it painlessly happening as I began to end. And that's when the wheeling, dealing, and panicing set in. I started making every promise I could think of to any and every deity that ever was or might be.

    I was desperate. And none of it was working.

    Finally all I had left was repeating "I believe in love". And that made everything alright. Still does.

  • sean

    "Me: Before we had science people made stories to explain things they didn’t understand.

    Little Julien: So God is a myth people made to explain things?"

    That is an outstanding way of explaining religion to anyone, let alone a child. Good job.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Thank you!

    I always add that now we do have science, everything is way more beautiful and complicated than we ever could have imagined.

  • denesteak

    I've always wished I believed in (some kind of) God. I was just talking to a friend last night after he met some missionaries. I wish I had a belief in some higher power that will make me think that a) life is worth living when I'm in my moments of despair and that b) I'm working toward some higher fulfillment in His name. Because, if not, I'm just left with my empirical self now. And what's one person in a sea of masses? Just another body made of matter.

    I grew up in a religious and superstitious culture. We believed in spirits and ghosts at home, and in school, I sang hymns and prayed. But I never believed that any of it was for anything except to keep us kids in line somehow (and honestly, what is religion for besides keeping people in line with their morals?) When I was a teenager, I wondered if it was strange to not believe. I just don't feel like there's a Big Brother watching over me -- it is just me watching over myself. It's just me that carries me through my life, with the help of others, such as my friends and my family, all of whom are relationships that i foster MYSELF.

    And I'm trying to say this without sounds egotistical or selfish but it's going to come off that way. I believe in myself, and i believe in my abilities to get things done and get the life I want. I'm incredibly self-reliant and ambitious (though I am also lazy, weirdly, if that makes sense.) And I think it is my belief in wanting to get the life that I want, the satisfaction that I crave in life, that helps to get me through life. I have my own moral code, which I try to keep to as much as possible, and when I break it, I punish myself in certain ways.

    My only problem with all this is that, well... in times of despair and depression and desperation (the 3Ds, so to speak) I wish I had something bigger than just me, something more than just myself to lay my life upon.

    I would also not classify myself as an atheist, bc I sort of feel like atheists pride themselves on fighting the fact that there's religion. I'm more mehhhhh I wish I believed in a higher power.

  • HMDK

    "I wish I had something bigger than just me, something more than just myself to lay my life upon. " Are you sure you don't? Like sympathetic family or friends? Or even better, a combination? Good pals, in other words? It's not like absence of capital G god means you're alone and adrift.

  • No. I can't make sense of a god/gods on any level. The bible's god is fucking nuts. Also, I can't wrap my head around how gendered the bible's god is. I find it crazy that so many theists believe god is male and apparently have no problem with what that would imply.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Yes. I believe in something - something that stretches across all life. And some days I believe in Jesus, at the very least as a messenger, less as a savior. I still want to believe in the resurrection, because it's a beautiful story in some ways, even as it troubles me in others. I don't believe in the ridiculous particulars of most religions. I do think it's possible to 'believe' in the Bible - and recognize it as allegory, rather than literally the word of God, or the facts of how the world was created.

    For example, I was in Israel a couple of months ago. In Bethlehem, the have the Church of the Nativity. And they have a star on the ground where Jesus was born. And then they turn you around and say "and that's where the manger he was placed in was." Now. I do not think most rational people, regardless of how religious or faithful they are (reserve your comments on the oxymoron of rational people of faith), would believe that a random inn and stable managed to be preserved and marked long before anyone considered it important, and that those are the exact spots of the birth. But they are focal points, a place to channel the thoughts, meditations, etc. And just outside Jerusalem, we were taken to the tomb of King David. Our Israeli Jewish guide points out: it is not known where King David is actually buried. Most likely he was buried at least a mile away. But this is the "traditional" tomb of King David, where Jews go to honor him. There is a sleight of mind - making something "true" while knowing it is not. Truthiness.

    Probably this only makes those who don't believe think religion is even crazier, and I don't blame them. I studied religions in college, and I have respect for most of them, and for the people who follow them. Probably what is closest to my actual beliefs is along the lines of the Great Spirit. But what I know is that I can sing, and I sing best in church when I am trying to give people hope, and make them feel loved, and connect them to something more than themselves as individuals. And that sense of connection among people - that seems to me to be the God force.

    (apparently I will do ANYTHING to avoid finishing my taxes, even bare my mishmash of spirituality. If only the stupid Northern Lights had shown up...)

  • Yes. Very much.

    I don't care if anyone else does or doesn't, though. So long as they don't bug other people about it. Which both extremes tend to do.

  • Eve

    No. Never did, never will.

  • koko temur

    no.

    I have seen first hand too much horrible things done in his name to believe in anything beside chaos and cruelty. Miidle east, ya'll. At least sience evolves.

    i just try to be kind and respectful to everyone, and hope for the best.

  • wampuga

    Here is what I want to believe. I want to believe in a
    heaven and hell. That anyone can get into heaven (not just Christians or whatever) if they pretty much follow the axiom “Don’t be a dick.” I want heaven to be personalized, which for me heaven would be a place where I am never bored…unless I want to be.

    I want hell to be a place where most evil people go to be
    punished to learn a lesson and once they learn that lesson they are welcomed
    into heaven. I say most people because I
    honestly want someone like a baby rapist to burn forever.

    The thing is I want to believe this not so much for my sake
    but for others. I have had a mostly great life so if I knew that when I die
    that’s that, it wouldn’t really bother me. However, I want to believe that the
    kids living in India on trash dumps, or kids starving to death in Africa or
    anyone else that has had miserable life on Earth gets to go to heaven when they die.

    All of this I want to believe to be true…but the reality is
    I don’t.

    I believe that every living thing in the entire universe
    (and I do mean everything; from the flesh eating bacteria and e. coli, to human
    beings, to the “aliens” of other planets) has, for want of a better word, a
    soul. I think of the soul as more of type of energy.

    When something dies that soul (energy) gets dispersed and
    flows back into an energy well. That energy well, again for lack of better
    word, is God. Energy is constantly flowing in and out of this well. Reincarnation
    is simply that sometimes, for whatever reason, sometimes the entities energy keeps itself congealed, doesn’t disperse and gets recycled in a “lump”.

    The End.

  • MyySharona

    Yes. What I don't get on with is church (though that comes more from being raised Southern Baptist).
    There are crucial times in my life where I absolutely believe that something was guiding me, and I choose to believe that it was God.
    There are conflicts with me and the bible, to be sure. My father and I don't think of God the same way (he's an ordained Baptist minister) and depending on who you ask my long-term relationship is very much against God.
    But the pick and mix approach (to quote another commenter) to the bible is what everyone does. I don't dare think that my approach works for anyone but me, but it does work for me.

  • Mrs. Julien

    It's time -

    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/5..." frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe>

  • Mrs. Julien

    Oh Sky Cake, why are you so temperamental?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

  • Maguita NYC

    *I miss baklava...

  • Bobbs3k

    I'll start by answering yes. I saw this video the other day, and well it made me think some, no it's not Kirk Kameron talking about bananas:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

  • manting

    the subject of religion reminds me of one of my favoite Simpsons qoutes "To alcohol, the cause of and solution to all of lifes little problems." Just insert religion instead of alcohol.
    as for the existence of some sort of supreme being - any time someone asserts something with zero evidence I can refute it with zero evidence.
    as for the catholic church (in which I was raised and schooled for many years) - If you found out tomorrow that Apple had thousands of child molesters working for them and knew about it, and not only did they know about it but they paid or threatened the child victims and then moved the offending "genius" to a different store (where he continued to molest children) would you still buy Apple products? Would anyone?

  • Cazadora

    No. But it doesn't mean that I don't long for it to be true.

  • Eyvi

    Nope. I tried. Faith isn't something I have. I don't condemn those that do or brand them "sheeple". Everyone is entitled to his or her own belief on the matter. I am rarely offended by what another person accepts as truth. It grates on my nerves however, when someone takes it on as their own personal mission to convert me. I don't try to convince believers otherwise and I appreciate when they afford me the same respect.

  • John W

    Nope. Religion is just another name for mythology.

  • Americans have the strangest preoccupations. Naked boobs, abortion, God. At least this whole same-sex marriage thing is a vaguely 21st century conversation, although in the US you still manage to make that about God somehow.

  • Melissa

    I find atheists and fundamentalists exactly the same. So sure about something they could not, and will not ever know. I find both points of view arrogant. They only rational point of view in my opinion is to say, "How the heck am I supposed to know ?"

  • Darek

    This idea, that it's arrogant to expect evidence for extraordinary claims, is laughable.

  • Melissa

    It's laughable to say no one will ever be able to know whether God exists. It's not knowable. That's arrogant? I never said I expect evidence. Evidence will never be possible. That's my point. We'll never know the answer to the God question.

  • Benderman

    Yeah, why put God on a godly level?

  • What do I believe in? Well, I believe in the soul. The cock, the pussy, the small of a woman's back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, and that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing AstroTurf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than
    Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that
    last three days.

  • DeltaJuliet

    How can you downvote Bull Durham?

  • Maguita NYC

    Hey-hey-hey!!! My line! Stolen straight from Bull Durham, naturally.

  • One of the best movies made about baseball. It's not quite on par with 'The Natural' or 'Pride of the Yankees' but it's close.

  • Maguita NYC

    I remember watching that movie back then for the hotness that used to be Kevin Costner's ass. Whenever someone talks baseball and Bull Durham, I wonder if I watched the same movie. Just his chemistry with Sarandon was heat-stroke inducing.

    Now Moneyball was about baseball. And nothing but.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Eh, better. I like both those movies, but Bull Durham has a sense of humor. Baseball may be a national metaphor, but it's just a sport when it all comes down to it.

  • BLZ Bubb

    Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the
    world; it is simply an admission of the obvious. In fact, ‘atheism’ is a term
    that should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify himself as a
    ‘non-astrologer’ or a ‘non-alchemist.’ We do not have words for people who
    doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the galaxy only
    to molest ranchers and their cattle. Atheism is nothing more than the noises
    reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.

     —Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation

  • manting

    calling atheism a religion or a philosophy is like calling bald a hair color. Also im pretty sure atheism was a term coined by Christians to denegrate non-believers.

  • poopnado

    I don't know if I believe in God or not--I'm still figuring that out. But I hate it when people say they "believe" in science. And I'm a scientist. Many people treat science as a substitute for religion, complete with holy prophets (Darwin etc. (I'm much more of a Wallace fan, myself)). Scientists are fallible. They are human. They are not gods. Scientific theories are not the same as religious faith. You don't need evidence for faith. Faith is not a fact (had to throw in an AD reference). Scientific theories shouldn't be worshiped--they should be criticized and torn down and built back up and picked apart. I never take scientific theories on faith.

    When we start talking about science as a substitute for religion it develops all of the markings of what I dislike about organized religion (maybe Catholicism in particular, since that is the religion I was raised in). It becomes a holy order where common parishioners are incapable of understanding the divine will of science. I think at its most extreme, it even leads to discrimination against women hoping to become clergy members/scientists. And, of course, it leads to further confusion among religious zealots who have the (not so crazy) notion that science is trying to replace religion.

    If you're religious, that's fine. Enjoy it! If you're not, don't try to worship science. Be a scientist, enjoy your work, share scientific knowledge with others, but don't make science your religion.

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