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Thoughts from JGJ

Posted by JGJ on Tuesday, August 21, 2007 | Permalink
 

Hey everyone, this is JGJ, but you can call me Jim if you like. I decided to make a post after a long hiatus. Hey! I actually had time to devote to one as I wait for the new carpet in my house.

So, anyway, here it goes.

I am a relativist. I am a classical liberal who believes that people are entitled to their own beliefs, especially when it comes to belief in a god or not. You may be wondering why someone like me is posting in a blog called "Religion is Bullshit" and claim that people are entitled to their beliefs. Easy, religion has little to do with belief in a god and everything to do with the 'establishment' or the business we know as religion. Maybe more on that later.

When I meet someone and they start talking about religion, I mentally classify them as one of three things, Christian, Agnostic, or Atheist. From there, I break it down even further. For example:

I categorize Christians in two groups. There are Strong Christians and Weak Christians. Strong Christians are those Bible-thumping, door-to-door salesmen of the Holy Word, Missionaries who get thrown into Turkish prisons, go to Church, Bible Study, Bible Camp, etc. and wear a t-shirt with some kind of Christian slogan like "Got God?" These are the progenitors of such lame excuses for death, catastrophe, and atheists like: "I'll pray for you," "Jesus still loves you," and my all time favorite "Hope you enjoy your special place in Hell." There are several other clichés, they are just too numerous to list here. You see these people standing on corners preaching on their soapboxes to the passing masses. Holding prayer vigils in public places and showing the world their faith like a teen girl at a Christian Rock concert. I tell you this, they have their reward. These evangelistic people fail to realize they do not even follow Jesus; they follow the latter day writers who ended up in the Bible. Jesus warned against preaching to the Gentiles and recommended only preaching to the lost sheep of Israel, Jews. Strong Christians have religious fundamentalist leaders like the late Jerry Falwell, John Calvin, Pat Robertson, St. Augustine, and Oral Roberts. These people are usually politically conservative.

Christians who bounce back and forth between the two ends are those who attend Church off and on, perhaps even every Saturday/Sunday. They do pray aloud in church or at the dinner table, but all-in-all they are not very intrusive into others lives. When confronted with death, catastrophe, and atheists, they usually either just stop talking to you or spit out weaker, less insulting clichés like, "you have to believe in something," or "I found Jesus, why can't you?", or my favorite "what happened to make you hate God?" These are probably the most uninteresting type of Christians there are since they aren't freaks and although they will sometimes put up a fight with an atheist they usually end up frustrated and say things like "You have already made up your mind and there is no point in trying to convince you.

The third type of Christian is probably the most common type these days. The Weak Christian rarely goes to church but does not consider themselves as agnostic. Religion is more of a social thing. Something to mark on a survey instead of "None" because they believe denying the existence of God is too risky, or going to church every week interferes with their weekend. They may stop in from time to time, a few times a year, or make promises to themselves that they will go, but generally they don't follow through with it. When confronted with death, catastrophe, and atheists they can be angry at God, confused at how God could let something like Katrina happen, or when confronted by an atheist can be curious and may even share their own doubts. They are the most tolerant of the Christians when exposed to other religions and atheists. Politically, these people are usually liberals.

After Christians come the Agnostics. There are two basic kinds of Agnostics, Weak and Strong. Weak agnostics are sometimes theists, believing in an unknown "higher power" or believe it is possible there is some kind of "creator deity" out there who created the universe and perhaps abandoned it. But in both cases they have no idea if what they say is true or not, only the possibility is there since we could never know for sure unless God came to dinner. These people are fun because they are constantly in a state of flux and doubt and you can throw logic at them which can completely befuddle their brains. Their beliefs can be compared to those who think we are actually in some kind of Matrix computer simulation since their lackluster logic has the same premise.

Next you have the Strong Agnostic. Strong Agnostics are think we can't know, it is impossible to know, and so neither confirm nor deny. Of course, you can't know a lot of things. I can be agnostic about what is going to happen tomorrow, but I'm not sticking an agnostic psychic label on myself because of it. You can know (currently disregarding the philosophical arguments of what it is to 'know') God exists because belief in God is a leap of faith, and faith doesn't require solid knowledge. You can also know God does not exist by not taking a leap of faith. But, it doesn't mean you have to disregard everything you don't know for sure, and can't know for sure, but believe anyway. Like belief in scientific theories, anything involving quantum mechanics, etc. doesn't require you actually see the individual molecules first hand or experience 'spooky action at a distance' with your neighbor's wife; it just requires believing the data and evidence delivered to you is accurate. It too, is a leap of faith. Christians would say, well if you can make the leap for science, why not God? Easy, at least someone has some evidence for scientific theories, all you can say about God is because something exists, God exists. That is not evidence; that is religious faith. A requirement of religious faith is that you cannot test it, tempt it, or doubt it, and must go to it like children running to a strange man holding a puppy.

An atheist is one who disbelieves in one or more supernatural beings. All those people I have listed above are atheists of some sort. There are at least four different kinds of atheist. Strong, weak, implicit, and explicit atheists. Strong atheists will fight Christians tooth and nail to get their belief of "no supernatural deity exists" and will sometimes shun any religious fundamentalist as sub-human. You could even say that Strong Atheists are Non-Religious Fundamentalists. They are fundamentalist in the sense they are strict adherents of being without a belief in any form of god.

Weak atheists are those who deny specific deities. They are members of all religions, except those who follow Hinduism. Hindus accept all names and descriptions of god, because they all represent the many faces of god. But, that is as far as they will go; you usually won't see them at Mass or fasting for Tammuz. Of course, there are those who know nothing of gods, demons, spirits, and the like which brings us to implicit and explicit atheists.

Implicit atheists are those who do not believe in gods, etc. because they don't know there IS a belief in god for natural reasons. They may have never exposed to it, be a newborn, or have been raised by wolves in the Canadian Rockies. I have only met the newborn kind, so there is not much to say about these people except they are lucky bastards.
Explicit atheists are a group which encompasses all forms of conscious denial of gods. Strong and Weak atheists, and all but Hindus are Explicit atheists because they have a choice to believe or not.

I hope this post gives my pal Ben something to ponder, or even just a well deserved break. But this is how I categorize people whenever the subject of religion comes up. It is all pure opinion and whether or not you agree with it or disagree with it is your own opinion and I respect that. After all, I'm a relativist.

Comments [ hide comments ]
Hey JGJ - nice general categorical summation of those who believe in a god or not. I was a 'strong Christian' for the longest time (15 odd years). I thank god I don't believe in that bs anymore (ha!). Really though, I find there are so many more things to do in life than practice religion (i.e. pick up a hobby (sports)). Religion is not all bad as it gives people a common purpose, and provides comfort when things are difficult in their lives or they are looking to 'fit in' to a group. I think though it's an awful waste of time to sit through all those bible studies and prayer meetings. I hope that people who are 'strong Christians' somehow learn how deluded they are, and realize everything in moderation is best - not to throw out religion, but just to accept that it has its place for some (the classical liberal view you speak of). I think I'm just bitter for wasting too much time practicing religion and missing out on the spice of life. Religion is absurd and dangerous! Yes. It is also a reason that some get up in the morning. Can't blame them for not being able to cope with reality. Thank god I can now accept life for what it is.
Nate, 08.09.2007, 4:01am #
Last time i posted on this site was to a post that went along the lines of agnostics being dumb and worse then Christians. Being a weak agnostic myself i got shouted down and completely belittled by people on the site when i tried to defend my beliefs. As i was reading this i was expecting a fair breakdown of the different states of belief but yet again i see a description of agnostics that comes across as negative to me.

Why would a weak agnostic be "befuddled" by logic and have lackluster logic? How can anybody truly believe in anything. Science can prove so much but has also been wrong about so much throughout history. What is wrong with being open and free minded?

What has shocked me most about this site is a dislike of belief systems that stick with what they know and follow blind faith. And yet there are atheists here doing the exact same thing with science. The approach of - (If it hasn't been disproven yet then its true by default) is very disappointing to me.

I see this happen throughout all aspects of life. Somebody believes a story in the media, somebody trusts a work college or a family member or a lover. For example I currently see so many people have either 1 view or another on the Madeleine McCann case. All the family believing that the mother could never have killed her based on just there trust for that person. Others and the media jeering at the parents as if they had solid evidence yet there is nothing but speculation.

Its a story that has so much mystery to it and yet there are much bigger mysteries out there. The many, many mysteries of life and the universe. Such as the origin of life and DNA, the universe being so large it almost surpasses human imagination. The possibilities of multiverses, and the strangeness of quantum physics.

People are so certain and defensive of there beliefs and opinions, many willing to fight and die for them. All I can be certain of is uncertainty. I don't consider that being weak, i consider it being realistic.

Shout me down for my believes if you must.
Reaper, 08.09.2007, 3:13pm #
Nate,
€œHey JGJ - nice general categorical summation of those who believe in a god or not.
Thanks, I'd never seen it done anywhere before and I figured I would take a stab at it. It's probably more of a rough draft of the ideas and could use more refinement.
€œReligion is not all bad as it gives people a common purpose, and provides comfort when things are difficult in their lives or they are looking to 'fit in' to a group.
The exact definition of a weak Christian, ha! The only thing I personally have against some weak Christians is, like some weak agnostics, they lack the courage of conviction. They don't want to withdraw, nor do they want to jump head first into their beliefs. The Bible says, Rev 15 €œI know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 €œSo, because you are lukewarm neither hot nor cold I am about to spit you out of my mouth. I'd like to know what it is they, these weak Christians, hope to accomplish with their religion, personal gain I suppose. Don't get me wrong though; there are others who just don't like the religious ritualistic aspects of religion. If they keep a personal deity for themselves that's all fine and dandy, just don't try, like Strong Christians, to convince me of it. It would be a hopeless endeavor. Religion would be perfect if it didn't have the religious to mess things up.

Reaper,
Everyone is going to have their own different grades of agnosticism. Not everyone believes according to any label. This is the main reason I stated €œI am a relativist from the get-go. I am not what one might coin an absolute relativist; I'm probably just a mellow relativist because I believe absolute knowledge of the truth is impossible outside of mathematics. It would be arrogant to think that the verdict is in on any subject outside of mathematics. (2 + 2 = 4 always) When it comes to religion, there is no evidence outside of personal experience. There is no math. We are all agnostic on something. Agnosticism isn't a bad position to take, in my opinion, outside the metaphysical (particularly religious) realm. I think you are taking my position on agnosticism outside the realm of religion and applying it to all things. It would be incorrect to assume my attacks on agnosticism exist outside of religion since agnosticism is basically ignorance; strong agnosticism is willed ignorance while weak agnosticism is just plain ignorance and makes no claims to true knowledge. (Ignorance has nothing to do with stupidity.) Knowledge is finite, ignorance is infinite.

€œWhy would a weak agnostic be "befuddled" by logic and have lackluster logic? Science can prove so much but has also been wrong about so much throughout history. What is wrong with being open and free minded?
First, there is nothing wrong with being open and free-minded; it has led to more discoveries than any other position. Some religions have historically restricted being open and free-minded until they have been pushed into the corner. They have been pushed there by scientific discoveries, even wrong ones, more often than not. Yes, science has made mistakes. Aristotle and Ptolemy had modeled the geocentric universe and to fit their religious views and limited availability of proper instrumentation. It was wrong. Copernicus and Galileo made it a heliocentric universe and caused a religious uproar forcing one to recant and both to be imprisoned. While correct for the solar system it was wrong for the universe. My point is that science makes no claims to infallibility. That lies in the realm of religion. In order for something to advance from hypothesis to theory it is reviewed by peers. Many scientists make claims, however until they are peer reviewed through repeated testing of the hypothesis they are not accepted as fact. If they can make a prediction and then the prediction is fulfilled, it becomes an accepted theory and can become a law of nature, physics, or a universal truth.
€œHow can anybody truly believe in anything?
There is this mistaken belief that all scientific theories are somehow all statements of fact. I would be willing to bet there are very few scientists who would make this claim. Many theories are not testable, yet, and may never reach the state of becoming a law of nature or the like. There are two types of belief, informed belief and mere belief. These theories are nothing more than informed belief since we cannot offer adequate evidence for them, yet they can still be true. They are informed because they have good evidence which support the claims, yet are not testable or repeatable as of yet. Metaphysical beliefs in supernatural deities fall under mere beliefs. Mere belief refers to a conviction that something is true for which the only evidence is the conviction itself. This is known as a tautological argument. It is circular. Strong agnostics, and sometimes weak agnostics, are victims of mere belief because of their willed ignorance. It is their belief in continual ignorance; they are willing themselves to ignorance and not open and free-minded. It is their conviction that we cannot know, and the only evidence they can show for our perpetual ignorance is their conviction. They are indifferent to the possibility of enlightenment or error. We can believe something if it is informed belief. Religious beliefs have no evidence, at least from what I have heard, outside of personal experience and mere belief. By not accepting these views as evidence an atheist can make their case, weak agnostics are befuddled by logic and are weak minded because they accept the possibility that mere belief is sometimes acceptable evidence. You can throw logical and illogical exercises at them and throw them either way.

€œWhat has shocked me most about this site is a dislike of belief systems that stick with what they know and follow blind faith. And yet there are atheists here doing the exact same thing with science. The approach of - (If it hasn't been disproven yet then it's true by default) is very disappointing to me. €œ

You are going to have to be more specific on what scientific beliefs we are taking on faith. I cannot answer such a general question because I don't know what evidence you are presenting to make us blindly accepting of what you think is claimed to be scientific fact. If what hasn't been disproven? God? I'm going to guess you are saying €œsince God hasn't been proven to exist, he cannot exist and that is what we believe. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is not that he hasn't been proven to exist, it is that claims have been made that he does exist and we should be convinced on the mere belief of others as though that is sufficient evidence to make it a universal truth. Notice the blog is called €œReligion is Bullshit and not €œGod is Bullshit. I don't have to disprove the existence of God since no one has proven that he exists, I'm making no other claim other than there is no good evidence that is testable, repeatable, or sufficient enough to accept the claim. It is the responsibility of those who make the claim to produce the evidence and my responsibility to review it. So far, that has not happened. Just like I won't accept that the dinosaurs were wiped out by a meteor striking the Yucatan until all the evidence is in and we are able to test this theory and examine enough evidence to make it a theory. Until then it is just a claim. We will never be able to fully test or repeat it so it would probably remain a theory and informed belief. So far, God is mere belief. There is no other reason to believe other than the conviction of the belief.
JGJ, 08.09.2007, 11:53pm #
Pretty good post. Frankly though I'm agnostic and also I don't fit into any of the categories. Closest I guess would be the strong agnostic, however I don't believe in God. Basically that there must be some type of higher power, long dead or not. The Christian god is complete bullshit I'd say, and good on you all for blogging about it.
John, 10.09.2007, 1:33pm #
I look forward to being categorised. Fascinating
St, 21.09.2007, 5:46pm #
You did a nice job categorizing several people. However, it seems you missed out on yet another large group of Christians -- those that are strong Christians, have a lot of faith in their beliefs, are wanting to share their beliefs with people in an appropriate manner, but are not the Bible thumper "strong Christians" you described. They're not really the "weak" Christians because they don't look at it as a social thing over others. I agree that there are both those types out there and they do make up possibly the majority. Just curious how you categorize people like myself.

I enjoy your web site. Keep up the good work.

Matt
Matt, 24.09.2007, 4:34am #
Interesting post. Just to share - the best answer I've heard to the "what happens after we die?" question came from retired Anglican Bishop, John Shelby Spong. His answer: "I don't know, and neither does anybody else." Wonderful (c:

http://www.abc.net.au/compass/intervs/spong2001.htm
penno, 29.09.2007, 12:03pm #
Yes, yes, very nice I'“m sure...

Has this place died? Only even slightly active place is the blog, and it's so boring...

Has there been any updates within a year, or did God smite Tim with a lighning?
Markus, 30.11.2007, 5:03pm #
I'm currently being tortured by Satan and all his little wizards. May be escaping some time to do battle with the nutters again. Perhaps.
Tim, 02.12.2007, 6:02pm #
We all exist.
This planet exists.
We are made of solid stuff.
The rest of the universe exists.
We cannot answer the question "How did it happen?"- OK, Big Bang, so what caused the Big Bang?
OK, M-theory has a mathematical model, but still humankind is left with the question of "what caused that?". The further science progresses, the more the truth looks weird.
No wonder somebody invented religion to get around an "inconvenient truth"
PaulG, 15.12.2007, 5:03pm #
Talking snakes are not weird? David Hume says "Of Miracles" they always happened long ago, in a far away land, they never happen again, they happened within some distant culture, and they are only heard about second-hand. I'll trust science and mathmatics because no matter where the results come from, or if they were made long ago, the results are understandable, testable, peer reviewed, and repeatable. When was the last time you saw a talking snake?
JGJ, 17.12.2007, 1:34pm #
EVOLUTON IS BULLSHIT.
RHF, 26.12.2007, 3:59am #
EVOLUTON IS BULLSHIT.
RHF, 26.12.2007, 3:59am #
Thoughts from JGJ? This guy can think?
Please !!!!!!!!!!!!
RHF, 26.12.2007, 4:00am #
It's easy to criticize when you say nothing.
JGJ, 09.01.2008, 1:20am #
Sure JGJ, you don't say much either.
Watch some American football this weekend and learn something.
Make yourself some money UK boy, take the chargers and the packers.
San Diego is a much nicer city than London. Never goes below 70 F here, and the sun always shines.
GO CHARGERS GO,
RHF, 16.01.2008, 5:04am #
I don't live in the UK. I live in the US. I would take the cheeseheads over the giants (if Dallas could have played that game without the penalties they would have won) but I I'll take New England over the Chargers.
JGJ, 16.01.2008, 12:59pm #
Your were right JGJ, pats won. Damn it!! we pick off brady three times and still lose. Pats will beat the giants in the superbowl. Still going to Arizona.
RHF, 21.01.2008, 4:51am #
Unfortunately, now I think it is going to be a slaughter with the Pats over the Giants. Giants have no business being there. I'll take NE by 17.
JGJ, 21.01.2008, 2:06pm #
Hate the Giants. My chargers would have handed them their rear-ends on a platter.
NE picked the worst time to have a bad game.
RHF, 07.02.2008, 12:04am #
€œWhat has shocked me most about this site is a dislike of belief systems that stick with what they know and follow blind faith. And yet there are atheists here doing the exact same thing with science. The approach of - (If it hasn't been disproven yet then it's true by default) is very disappointing to me. Reaper

"You are going to have to be more specific on what scientific beliefs we are taking on faith. I cannot answer such a general question because I don't know what evidence you are presenting to make us blindly accepting of what you think is claimed to be scientific fact." -JGJ

I think the idea is that how can you believe in something like mathematics or religion when the human mind created both. How far are you willing to go to believe that our minds have absolute power to consider 2+2=4 to be fact? What is fact? Fact is something that has been proven until it can no longer be argued. What if I said the end + the beginning = nothingness and I proved it until it couldn't be argued anymore. Look into Stephen Hawking's theory - it's been argued but has not been proven wrong - doesn't mean it's absolute. Everything is a theory and our mind's will always be misleading. You can't say that mathematics is absolute just as you can't say religion is. The reality is that nothing our minds assume is absolute - it's all just a projection of our reality - which without the language we have acquired to discuss such things, would just make our minds a product of their surroundings (imagination). Nature is the only thing we can say is absolute.
Emerson, 12.05.2008, 1:26am #
You just argued against your own statement in the same paragraph. Now, I'm confused by what you are trying to say. If you are trying to pull a Descartes, then there is a response for that, however it seems you retract it at the end.
JGJ, 12.05.2008, 3:08pm #
Well contradicting myself was inevitable. I can't possibly argue a point if I believe our minds are truly incapable of it. All of this arguing has no point if nobody can truly know the right answer. It's either logic or religion (sometimes both but usually either/or) and both of those possibilities can only go as far as our minds can comprehend or manipulate them. Someone on this site was explaining evolution to another person saying that you can't know what humans evolved from because there is only so much time you can trace back because our minds are incapable of going backwards or forwards that far. Just as you can't prove creationism for the same reason. So proving one or the other right/wrong is just as good as not trying. Though we've grown to understand theories and mathematical operations as fact, our minds created these things and there is no way to tell that these "factual" arguments are superior to anything else assumed or inferred by our minds. In other words logic is a religion. You practice it, you preach it, and you discover it. Religion is not always defined for everyone. Before it was in scripture, people looked to the skies and assumed God's out of the stars/planets. The stars/planets gave back to them, in that, they taught logic/math through studying. A good point to make, maybe even discuss, is that looking for divine truth brought upon logical truth. Another good thing to discuss is the validity of both sides, not just religion. It's much more difficult to attack a side which you defend and it also allows you to understand the other side better. This site is very radical and one sided. It's easy to be the bully. For me, you can't classify me because I don't believe you or anything besides the Nature (or possible creator) of the cosmos can have the power to do so.
Emerson, 15.05.2008, 10:14am #
Well said. Perhaps that is why religion, in all its forms, is bullshit. An atheist argues against that which cannot be disproven while a theist argues for that which cannot be proven. An agnostic says there is no way to know. Honestly, I think I disagree with all sides on the issue however, that being said, I strongly believe that religion (in all its forms) is bullshit because it is just a way to exploit the ignorant and oppress the different. So, it matters little if there is some creative force out there or not. If there is it is probably something that which is greater than we can comprehend (rather than Anselm's "conceive"). All of the attributes that we assign to something greater than we can comprehend are meaningless since they can only be guesses with no way to prove one way or the other. Suffice to say, if we could comprehend a god's attributes it would not be worth calling a god.

All of the interpretations of this unknowable's desires for our behavior are also unknowable and without repeatable and measurable evidence. To say that a divine force in the universe actually cares about someone living on a hick planet in the sticks of the Milky Way who is lusting in the mind over someone else's wife is absurd. It is people that care about that kind of stuff. To say that a divine force gets angry, jealous, vengeful, etc. is equally absurd. This is what caused the downfall of the Greek gods; this kind of anthropomorphism is typical of human behavior.

Given an unexplainable event, we, humans, attach some kind of unknowable meaning or cause to it. Given that we (culturally) define what evil is and that evil exists, and we cannot always punish evil, or do not recognize evil within someone's mind or heart, there must be some form of punishment beyond our power or ability to administer. Since the evil is culturally defined, so is the punishment. Since the punishment is culturally defined, so is the punisher. Since the punisher is culturally defined, the punisher must be knowable and different from culture to culture. That difference means the divine power is either indefinable or it has multiple personality disorder (which would mean that god is imperfect and not worthy of worship.) It does not matter what cultures believe because, inevitably, their definitions will clash (which is why the definitions are of differing cultures to begin with.) It is either a polytheistic universe or an atheistic universe. In either way, it clashes with all religions, or all attempts at trying to define a creator. The only attribute that one can be sure of is that a creator creates. In that case, god is nothing more than the laws of physics, natural selection, and generally just a representation of how the Universe works. God is not worthy of worship, but it is worthy of reverence, study, discovery, and revelation. You cannot assign human emotions and mannerisms to a divine creator and expect it to weather the storm of criticism that inevitably follows. When starts making value judgments, already has one foot in the grave.

My post (above) was not really about god or evolution. It was more about my observations of human behavior. It was an observation reinforced a month ago when a young woman attempted to turn me away from the dark side. She was a Strong Christian in a very weak way. She made me a tape of her playing the piano and singing a song she wrote to try to convince me that her God loves me. She was one of these Christians who have to show everyone how they are. Whenever she said goodbye to me she would say, €œHave a blessed day. She would also remind me several times that she was praying for me. It was not for me that she did all of these things - it was for herself. This was proven when a friend of mine (I will call her Alice) asked the Christian about God in a €œplease evangelize to me kind of way. Alice believed this Strong Christian wanted nothing to do with her because Alice is a female. This Strong Christian, apparently, only wanted to talk to  about religion. Outwardly, this Strong Christian reeks of Christianity, however inwardly she is just like every other Strong Christian I have met and is using Christianity to get the things she wants, mainly attention and recognition. I could go into the and  that Christians fail to be Christians but I will leave that for another post at another time.
JGJ, 15.05.2008, 1:32pm #
You have some very good points.
"is using Christianity to get the things she wants, mainly attention and recognition" -JGJ
(+10 For pointing that out - I see that alot) Another good point to make is when you see very religious "African-Americans" you have to wonder why they are even religious after all this hate (slavery/racism) has been directed towards them. Many of them are strong Christians and I think it's absurd because, after all, weren't they forced to be religious by the people who enslaved them? How can you believe so strongly in something that you never had a choice in? I agree that at one point religion was a spiritual/enlightening movement, but throughout the years society inevitably used it to it's advantage. The problem is in human nature just as you say. I think the "problem" with strong Christians these days is that they sense a lack of faith in people and feel it's their "duty" to pass on their "knowledge". The churches have come too far (to the point of brainwashing) but so has everyone/everything else. The majority of people are easily brainwashed. It's too bad that people don't come together (in thinking for themselves) and form a new society or at least make huge changes to the one we are living in now. We're all too comfortable and pampered in our money-hungry, service-based establishment. Religion has everything to do with screwing up society and that makes me sad.
Emerson, 16.05.2008, 6:16pm #
What you find when you examine Christianity is uniquely disturbing. There are those who are extremely hateful in their approach while others are almost too nice. I do not believe you find this in any other religion but you do find it in politics. In the USA, you have two political extremes with a myriad of variations between. On the far right, you have the Christian Conservative Republican while on the far left, you have the Anarchist though a true, and not hypocritical, Anarchist is hard to find. I say that because I have never run into someone who resembles Diogenes in anything other than speech. Their actions prove to be quite different. In the middle fall several other forms of political belief like Reagan Democrats, Liberal or Neo-Conservative Republicans, various forms of Democrats and Libertarians. Christianity so strikingly resembles politics and is such a touchy subject that they are often coupled as taboo subjects in polite conversation. With Christians, there is such a variety that it would be impossible to break them down into narrower categories for there are literally over 10,000 denominations as well as varying degrees of belief per individual Christian.
That is a good point you bring forward about African Americans and Christianity. It is also true of any true native (pre-1492 descendent) in the Western Hemisphere. The Conquistadors and Missionaries who came to the New World believed they were bringing aka Christianity (along with their diseases) to the natives and quite often by force. Most of the time becoming  was not enough and they were still forced to work on plantations as slaves whether it was a Spanish plantation in Mexico or an American one in Georgia. They could not see the evil in the things they did. Slavery was acknowledged and directed in the Bible. Killing in his name the heathens was also permissible. The only thing that keeps a Fundamentalist in check today is man's law, not God's Law. Thomas Aquinas has an interesting breakdown of Law but he did not really take it far enough. (He had the habit of falling short in everything he said, which is funny since he also said that true philosophy cannot conflict with Christian faith but it can fall short of it. He stops at the assumption that what we cannot explain must be the providence of God, though he fails to explain how it must be the Christian concept of God that is the explanation.)
Anyway, that was a good question you brought up and I have no answer for it. All I can say is that we are either Platonists or Aristotelian. African Americans, and anyone else for that matter, who takes up Christianity regardless of its origins, history, etc. and just go by what Mommy and Daddy told them are clearly Platonists. The rest of us are Aristotelian and can only marvel at such inadequate explanations for everything. Perhaps the answer is simple and great-great-great granddaddy though becoming a Christian could someday earn him freedom and when it did not he passed it on to his children or others. The snowball rolled on down the hill from there.
JGJ, 27.05.2008, 6:05am #
One request. Study Islam not from the angle of criticism with sincere approach of general learning. I think you will get the thing! If u don't then write me I'll give u some information which will make u fear. Thanks.
Lumen, 15.06.2008, 4:26am #
There are no meaningfull statements about sky faeries. Therefore the labels atheist and believer are both meaningless. Kind of. Geddit?
George, 29.07.2008, 3:57pm #
JGJ - The big problem with gnostics, agnostics, believers and athiests is glaringly obvious: it's 'belief' vs knowledge!

Akurians don't 'believe' anything - except in scientific experiments and only then until the details produce success or failure - either we KNOW or KNOW we don't KNOW! Simple as that.

GREAT POST!

The Akurians
http://www.theakurians.com
The Akurians, 30.07.2008, 4:19pm #
JGJ
 religion has little to do with belief in a god and everything to do with the 'establishment' or the business we know as religion.

Poetry. For what it's worth, folks in whats being called the emerging church movement, Christians by belief, are saying the same. There are free thinkers out there who have reason enough to re-evaluate what the church has become, leaving the well trod path with an eye for keeping things,  to do with.

There's a lot in the Christian I scratch my head about, and even when I was a part of it myself for many years, I intuitively knew the religious traditions and trappings, the hierarchies, in other words the crap made up by countless men over a two thousand year period largely to maintain control and social standing wasn't about God, wasn't what I was looking for. I suspect I was far from alone. For those interested, Frank Viola and George Barna have co- authored Pagan Christianity which examines the topic historically without pulling punches and is well referenced.

€œIt is all pure opinion and whether or not you agree with it or disagree with it is your own opinion and I respect that. After all, I'm a relativist.

That said, if piously waving the flag gives one a vehicle for shitting on someone else's intellectual/spiritual journey, I'll take Agnosticism as it seems more conducive to respect and a healthy lack of arrogance when it comes to examining another's viewpoint. Your use of the word relative is not without considerable irony.

Reaper:

€œLast time I posted on this site was to a post that went along the lines of agnostics being dumb and worse then Christians. Being a weak agnostic myself I got shouted down and completely belittled by people on the site when I tried to defend my beliefs. As I was reading this I was expecting a fair breakdown of the different states of belief but yet again I see a description of agnostics that comes across as negative to me.

I'm inclined to agree. When one reads things like, These people [Agnostics] are fun because they are constantly in a state of flux and doubt and you can throw logic at them which can completely befuddle their brains. Their beliefs can be compared to those who think we are actually in some kind of Matrix computer simulation since their lackluster logic has the same premise, it's not hard to see why.

One comes hoping to engage in an exchange of thought and ideas only to find, depending on where you go at times, a nest of trolls who are more interested in throwing muck than understanding and exploring another's point of view. The above quote seems to be less one of a free thinker and smacks more of head patting, derision and posturing. Why the need??? Too bad, as I think JGJ otherwise has the chops to get folks thinking and has some genuinely good things to say that need saying.

€œI reserve the right to think in all directions. D.
RottenRobbie, 05.10.2008, 4:03am #
I'm so glad I found this site. I have had strong atheist feelings since I was young enough to understand religion and here in Australia not many people care about religion. Most people are what you consider to be weak Christians or are just athiests. But from what I've seen and heard about America (forgive me if this is inaccurate), they are an extremely religious bunch over there.. to me this defies all logic and I'm so glad there are people who believe the same. Personally I am an athiest because I think religion is based on human flaws. As Reaper said, it's for those who are uncertain about life's greatest mysteries to be certain, such as death, what happens after, and how the universe was created. One thing I think is great about humans is our capacity to want to know what THE answers are, yet religion seems to just be a band-aid for these questions.. I'm not sure if I'm making sense but I have so many 'athiest' thoughts. I'm still only young (18) and in university and I'm quite definately not as wise as most of the people here (except maybe RHW or whatever his name is) but I have such a passionate belief that religion is anti-human that I just need to get it out!! haha ok there.
Samantha, 06.11.2008, 10:11am #
I personally believe in a higher power, what I don't believe in is 3000 years of political and social control because of it. I fear the future because being a christian is given such a high political profile that the reality that most people think the church is a joke doesn't get the correct advertising that it would do if we were to live in a truly democratic society. I am currently watching jewish fanatics slaughtering hundreds of innocent civilians because they believe god gave them the right. People are on the most part are deeply sick creatures and most of the problems stem form religion. I hope for a future were humans wake up to themselves and relise that what they believe is crap and always has been, a world without religion is something I want to see. So don't go giving me any of this liberal crap about respecting their beliefs, after all, at what point in history did thay start respecting yours.
Justin, 09.01.2009, 9:13am #
people tell me all the time that im a bad person because i dont believe in god. my response every time is that christians are dumbasses and egoists. they always say that everyone, even buddhists and hindus and muslims and shit are going to hell because they dont think alike. if there is a god, which is unlikely, he is a whiny little dick that doesnt get enough attention. kinda like britney spears with hair and without insanity. thats the one thing i hate worse than the government is religion. and if i went to a muslim or buddhist country or whatever and they knew i didnt believe in their god they wouldnt give a shit and welcome me anyways. but christians keep annoying the livin shit out of me and say im an idiot or a bad person or whatever so christians can kiss my ass
jared, 01.04.2009, 8:13pm #
It doesn't sound like your problem is with God. It sounds to me like your problem is with Christians who feel threatened by your disbelief. It is customary for Christians to ridicule and belittle those who do not share their beliefs because when you deny their beliefs, you belittle them. You are basically telling them (as soon as you disagree with them) that they are fucking nuts. Their natural response is fight or flight. They can't help it; it is locked into their reptilian brain. I say that your problem is not with God because if you were to pattern your logic it might look something like this.
Christians, those who believe in God, make you angry because they call you names.
Christians can't be good people if they intentionally hurt people by calling them names.
God cannot exist because Christians are bad people.
You may have other reasons for not believing in God, there are plenty to go around, but I have little information to go on. My point is that God doesn't exist or not exist based upon the whims or the limited intellect of mere humans. In order for something to be God (to fit the definition of what constitutes) it has to be, as St. Anselm put it, “something greater than we can comprehend. If it is something greater than we can comprehend, then obviously we cannot know God. We cannot limit God with a definition. There cannot be a God because that would deny what God must be, limitless. There can only exist in the mind some kind of idol or false image of what means to the individual. As such, Christians have no basis for judging you since is an individual interpretation of the infinite. It is hard enough to imagine 700 billion dollars, let alone God.
The statements that begin with, "If there is a God.." usually indicate some kind of belief that is either been diluted or clouded. Diluted would be disillusionment through contradictory statements made by those who say they believe in God or attempt to speak on God's behalf. You have certain expectations of God that have been frustrated and it has turned into a lack of expectation and cynicism. Your expectation is that God is supposed to care about you because that is what the Christians tell you. It should be impossible to make such a judgment of whether God cares or not since it is impossible to prove or disprove someoneÃ's personal interpretation of the infinite. Since you cannot prove or disprove God, and so it would be silly to mock God, the only thing left to do is mock Christians. So, the moral of the story is, when Christians call you names because you don't believe in God, tell them to go fuck themselves.
JGJ, 01.04.2009, 11:49pm #
The main problem with christianity is the people who take it metaphorically. As dumb as that sound,s, it's perfectly logical. Those people are the more logical christians, and if you point out a flaw in the bible, they say "that's metaphorical" and ignore it. But they call themselves christian. And when they call themselves christian, then they say they're in the same group as people who take the bible literally, who also call themselves "christians", despite their differences. And the fundamentalist christians (yes, they do exists, muslim extremists aren't alone in their lunacy) call themselves christians too, and they can say "look how many people support this, it must be right" or something similar, but if they were a smaller group, they wouldn't be able to. Not to mention that they can pick the more nutty out of the metaphorical christians and possibly "recruit" them.
Ultimately, the problem is the sheep. Convince them of rationality, and your problem (eg RHF) is solved. Note: RHF might not be an idiot, he might just be an asshole who's trying to be annoying. Either way he fails at life though (as demonstrated).
Numerous, 05.04.2009, 9:13am #

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