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Random scattered thoughts from a randomly scattered brain... - Unbeliever's Land
...The continuing chronicles...
unbeliever64
unbeliever64
Random scattered thoughts from a randomly scattered brain...
1) My wife is evidently under alien mind control.  Even as I type, she is watching something called "Cheerleaders vs couch potatoes" on TV, and ENJOYING it.  If this is my last post, please notify Area 51.

2) Well, it crept as late as Feb 1, but at long last... the Christmas tree and decorations are down.  Yay us.

3) Tomorrow (Monday) and Wednesday mornings, my coworker and I present Appworx to the rest of the team.  And then we become the go-to people for the next three months, as everyone tries to migrate our computer jobs to this new system, one at a time, and discovers all of Appworx's... well, persnicketyness.  Appworx seems to be a clever, powerful job-control system -- wrapped in a serious pain-in-the-ass interface.  We Dare You To Make It Work Right The First Time...

4) While taking Christmas down to storage (a mile or two down the road), I ran across a sign that's been bugging me lately.  It's in front of a "Christian Worship Center" (what is this, a generic church?), and says "Second chances are only in this world, so serve Christ today".

So OK, setting aside any wisecracks about Catholics serving Christ with peanut butter when they're hungry... what is this, a threat?  "You gonna burn in hell"?  REALLY?

I just don't get Christians' whole fetish with subserviance.  Bill & Ted said it perfectly: "Be excellent to each other".  But with Christians, it's "serve Christ". 

How the hell do you do that?  (Apart from "with peanut butter"?)

Along similar lines, you often hear "Put your life in God's hands", or "If God is your copilot, move over".  (Otherwise known as "Don't take charge of your own life, be a victim!)

Several times, I've even heard the phrase "humiliate yourself before the Lord".  WTF?

Does any of this stuff make sense to ANYONE?

If you REALLY can't live without believing in a magic father figure, who takes over as the all-knowing provider of justice and comfort, right around the time you realize your REAL dad is only human after all, then fine.  Believe in "God".  No skin off my nose.

[Seriously, though, I think most "believers" must realize deep down that God is a metaphor.  They just don't like to ADMIT it...]

But seriously, folks, don't go putting The Invisible Man in charge of driving the bus.

And please... don't go "serving" or "humiliating yourself" in front of him.  You're just embarrassing yourself.

That's it.  I'm falling asleep as I type this, and I still have cleaning to do before I can get to sleep -- and I have to get to sleep early, so I can get up early, get to work early, and get ready to present Appworx.  Wheeeee...

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Current Emotional State: tired tired

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amaebi From: amaebi Date: February 3rd, 2009 01:13 am (UTC) (Link)

Two quite independent responses, either of which would get you a comment

Hmmmm. I beat you on Christmas tree disposal, by one day, and only because we had dinner guests coming.

As a matter of curiosity, do you think you're characterising my beliefs and doctrine accurately? Me, that is, who is both person and Christian?
unbeliever64 From: unbeliever64 Date: February 3rd, 2009 07:00 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Two quite independent responses, either of which would get you a comment

[Glad to hear at least ONE other family in the world still had a Christmas tree to take down last weekend!]

Characterising you? No. But I'm trying to characterise that which I do see, around me, constantly.

I understand that there are variants of Christianity that are at least comparatively reasonable. (On the other hand, ANY literal belief in a "Creator" is, by definition, not rational. Faith and reason are opposites.)

But mostly, I'm interested in your opinion of all this. What do YOU make of phrases like "humiliate yourself before the Lord"? (Is it really what it sounds like? And what kind of mind sees that as a positive thing?)

In your journal, you recently wrote about not understanding how anyone could take the Bible literally -- and spoke of Jesus' parables. But if the Bible ISN'T completely literal, then how do you pick and choose what parts to take literally? You evidently believe in God, and I assume, Jesus. Why? How come THEY aren't "parables" as well, since we're conveniently picking and choosing?

It seems to me that your ACTUAL value system is very humanistic -- be kind, treat others well, make a positive difference in THIS world, don't sweat "the next world" so much. But then you take THAT mindset, and call it "Christian". Seriously, why?

Yes, there are positive lessons allegedly taught by Jesus in the collection of stories known popularly as "The Bible". There are also positive lessons taught by various characters in a collection of stories known as "Aesop's Fables" -- but nobody ever calls themselves an "Aesopian".

The distinction between religion and philosophy is supernaturalism. Remove the magic stuff, and religion is just a set of values to live by. So why weigh down the values with magic? Why must the good lessons come with such a heavy price?

The only reason I can see, is "the magic brings in the suckers". Promise 'em life after death, and they'll stick around for the values lesson. But I don't care how good the values are, that's not good enough...

Hope you can respond! I'm very interested in your thoughts...
amaebi From: amaebi Date: February 3rd, 2009 12:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

Why are all human males Asian? she said, looking at her husband and son

Characterising you? No. But I'm trying to characterise that which I do see, around me, constantly.

I don't have any doubt that you are characterizing your understanding of what you perceive around you. Where I have problems is with flat, universal statements about Christians as a class, which just aren't accurate. I wish you wouldn't do it, because I like you so much, and I find it embarrassing to read you being so assertive and so inaccurate at the same time.

I understand that there are variants of Christianity that are at least comparatively reasonable. (On the other hand, ANY literal belief in a "Creator" is, by definition, not rational. Faith and reason are opposites.)

You're right that positing a divine entity isn't reasonable. Mind you, neither is firm certainty that those things you understand yourself to sit on are things that genuinely exist, and are chairs. There's nothing to refute radical skepticism. But just as most of us find that our experience fails to refute the chairness of chairs, so some of us find that our reliance on a divine entity or entities seems to keep working out.

(You're probably sure that you know what "reliance" means in the paragraph above. In my experience, the meanings differ a lot from person to person. Some of them seem silly to me, though they're vital to those who hold them. Some make more sense to me. It's a varied world I perceive around me.)

But mostly, I'm interested in your opinion of all this. What do YOU make of phrases like "humiliate yourself before the Lord"? (Is it really what it sounds like? And what kind of mind sees that as a positive thing?)

Oddly, I thought about writing about that phrase earlier, though I didn't. It's old-fashioned-speak for "be humble with God." And as for what humble means-- well, some people mean Be Grovelling, which I take it is what springs to your mind. But I mean when I think about humility is that way of proceeding in which one's not particularly concerned with Who One Is, but is with doing the [fundamentally creatibe] work at hand.

In your journal, you recently wrote about not understanding how anyone could take the Bible literally -- and spoke of Jesus' parables. But if the Bible ISN'T completely literal, then how do you pick and choose what parts to take literally? You evidently believe in God, and I assume, Jesus. Why? How come THEY aren't "parables" as well, since we're conveniently picking and choosing?

You know, whenever you're communicating with someone you're picking and choosing what expresses their literal expression of their understanding of the universe, and what's a metaphorical expression of that understanding-- as it comes from them. Then, you get to decide what of the expresions they intend as literal you credit with a reasonable amount of accuracy, what you think is mistaken, and what you think is daft. And from all their expressions, you find that some resonate for you ("make sense") and some don't.

And that's how I read the Bible, which I take as a library of people's writings on trying to understand the God they perceive as operative in history and in their lives. I'm a cautious reader, and when it comes to answering questions about Whether This Thing Really Happened, I talk in terms of historical/archaeological/geological cooroboration-- which there's usually not a lot of. But when it comes to finding whether someone's understanding goes "ping" for me, or how it functions in their lives, I'm working a different way.

Not everyone reads Scripture the way I do. Some people want a tidy leedle instruction list. They usually find me frustrating. I don't read the Bible as an instruction list at all. But the way I read and understand and grow wiht Scripture isn't all that unusual.
amaebi From: amaebi Date: February 3rd, 2009 12:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Two quite independent responses, either of which would get you a comment

The distinction between religion and philosophy is supernaturalism. Remove the magic stuff, and religion is just a set of values to live by. So why weigh down the values with magic? Why must the good lessons come with such a heavy price?

See, as I said above, I don't agree that religion/faith/theology is just a set of values to lvie by, plus magic. Unless worldview is magic, to you. In which case, you're still in trouble with that chair.

The only reason I can see, is "the magic brings in the suckers". Promise 'em life after death, and they'll stick around for the values lesson. But I don't care how good the values are, that's not good enough...

Gee, I should start that sort of evangelism.

Reed, I know that the how-to-lives you equate with Christianity don't make Chrisianity worthwhile for you, and I have no trouble understanding that you live a well-integrated, rich life as an atheist. That you have no use for religion, and that no religion is good enough for your purposes. That's fine. And also none of my business, except in that I esteem you as a friend.

Hope you can respond! I'm very interested in your thoughts...

No problem responding. Executive summary: you keep assuming frameworks I don't hold, and asking me to justify them. And I suspect that my rejection of those assumptions strikes you as slippery or rascally
unbeliever64 From: unbeliever64 Date: February 4th, 2009 02:22 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Two quite independent responses, either of which would get you a comment

I don't intend to accuse you of any particular beliefs or "frameworks". Often, I truly don't know whether you hold a particular belief or not -- it seems nonsensical to ME, but so does all religion.

I often *DO* try to sound you out about "Christian" statements or beliefs that seem particularly odd, to see what you DO believe -- to see if we agree or disagree on any given piece of seeming nonsense.

"Humiliate" = "Be humble"? OK, I can accept that -- but I consider myself reasonably intelligent, and that's not how I would have ever interpreted that statement before your explanation... Do other Christian groups, to your knowledge, interpret that differently?



There's nothing to refute radical skepticism. But just as most of us find that our experience fails to refute the chairness of chairs, so some of us find that our reliance on a divine entity or entities seems to keep working out.

You're right; if you go deep enough, you can eventually work your way back to "I think therefore I am" -- but surely skepticism about invisible things whose existance explains nothing, but makes us feel good, is at least a little different from skepticism about things that you can touch, taste, experiment upon and prove, scientifically?

And... your reliance on a divine entity "keeps working out"? But surely, reliance on magic dragons would work out equally well?

Christians [again with the generalizations!] are very good at setting up their beliefs so that NOTHING could disprove God. But if nothing can disprove God, then God is a null statement. Meaningless. Might as well say "magic dragons".

I think you START OFF by "relying on divine entities" -- and then interpret the results in a way that justifies your initial reliance. It "works", because it can't NOT "work"...



...when it comes to answering questions about Whether This Thing Really Happened, I talk in terms of historical/archaeological/geological cooroboration-- which there's usually not a lot of. But when it comes to finding whether someone's understanding goes "ping" for me, or how it functions in their lives, I'm working a different way.

Ah! Enlightenment!

You're compartmentalizing! "Working a different way".

Reality is "what is", religion is "what works", and any overlap is happy circumstance.

In other words, you judge fact by different standards than you judge religion. Christianity "feels true" to you -- and that's good enough.

Angela's mom had a phrase she liked to use. When talking about religion (or anything else, really, where she had no evidence), she'd say she "knew in her heart it was true". [Actually, come to think of it, MY mom would sometimes say that as well.]

Everyone is, of course, welcome to their own beliefs. But rationality rejects magic. Knowing in your heart isn't KNOWING. Besides, I know in my heart that there IS no God. ;)

No one calls Roman or Greek beliefs "religion". They are MYTHS. Stories, made up, passed down by oral tradition, changed, and finally written.

Jews had myths too. And Christians picked up where they left off.

If the stories "work", great. But I think the value you're seeing comes from you, not the stories. They "work" because you CHOOSE for them to work!

I feel very profound today! :)
amaebi From: amaebi Date: February 9th, 2009 09:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Two quite independent responses, either of which would get you a comment

There's not really much to say about this except that, as I'm sure you know when you read or hear fundamentalist Christians going on about what atheists must be like to be what the fundies perceive them to be, you seem at best to be employing an irrelevant and condescending perspective. Your privilege, of course.
unbeliever64 From: unbeliever64 Date: February 12th, 2009 07:27 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Two quite independent responses, either of which would get you a comment

Oof. I'm sorry if that's how it sounded. I actually am trying to understand.

It seems to me that you do your level best to help everyone, no matter what. (Even atheists.)

I think you don't let religion STOP you (if I understand right, for instance, you have a fairly different stance towards homosexuality, say, than does your church).

I have no doubt that you see a great deal of positive in religion -- but what suddenly clicked with me (and maybe I'm wrong), was that I think it's YOUR positivity that you project onto into what you do.

I think you could be a Muslim, Buddhist or Humanist, and it wouldn't make a single difference, because you would simply use THAT context to do the same things you do now.

As far as "compartmentalizing" goes, again, I could be wrong. But I was fascinated by your distinction between what's historically true, and understandings that go "ping" for you. I was especially fascinated by your phrase "I'm working a different way".

To me, that sounds like you're operating on two different levels, which I simplified as "what is" and "what works".

I understand your life is hard right now, and if you don't want to get into philosophical discussions, that's fine. I just hope you understand I haven't meant to offend...
amaebi From: amaebi Date: February 19th, 2009 11:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Two quite independent responses, either of which would get you a comment

Here's a question that occurs to me about your approach to understanding Christians (or adherents of other religions): Do you think that we operate as if programmed by a set of doctrines, or try to? It sounds that way to me, and I wonder if I'm correct.
amaebi From: amaebi Date: February 19th, 2009 11:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Two quite independent responses, either of which would get you a comment

Oh, and no, I didn't think you intended to offend. Not only are we friends, but who ever does intend to offend, now that the days of provoking a duel by jostling an elbow have passed?
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