Time to introduce myself. I've been prowling around this site for a few months and have finally added a pic. He is Colonel Thomas Blood, a supposedly distant relative of mine and 1st class scoundrel. I use his name, as mine is sufficiently unusual to show up on a Google search. I am a nurse, and health care is rampant with xians. I am also an ordained clergy person and - well things are just a bit complicated right now. Folks who I don't want in the know, will not come snooping here on their own.

Enough intro: Here is the morsel for you to chew on. I have heard it expressed explicitly at least once, and implied by several of you that if one is an atheist, the is NO WAY that you could ever become sufficiently delusional to believe in a god. Well I was. Or did.

I grew up with a believing mother and an atheist father. We never went to church and my religious training was minimal (one year of a generic protestant Sunday school). I was atheist by age 15. I was always fascinated by xians however, especially the really confident kind. Long story short; over several years I developed and pursued the hypothesis that the only way I could be sure that there was no god was to diligently seek him. This led me on multiple pathways until I wound up in a fundamentalist country church one night where I was invited to "come to Jesus" Multiple threads in my life had brought me to the place where I was able to suspend my skepticism enough to accept the possibility of this being real. When I stood up, the world changed. The event and my theories about would take another blog.

The result of this "encounter " was that I became a fundamentalist xian .  My lack of religious upbringing actually worked against me as I had no framework for my new life, only that "reason" had failed as method for finding the TRUTH.  Over the course of decades my inquiring mind kept pushing me into ever more "liberal" understandings of God until I finally realized that my theology had become "Jesus as metaphor" and that I no longer needed the metaphor.

So here I am, full circle again. The experience has not been a complete waste of my life (Thank GOD!!!). I have a very full, hands on type of understanding of religious faith and have first hand knowledge of many of the different flavors of belief. I find many of you off-putting. You can be so bloody sanctimonious sometimes, as if all people of faith were idiots. I am sure I actually had more IQ points when I was religious than I do how. But I DO understand how you feel. I sometimes have to stop myself from thinking "How can anyone BELIEVE that crap?" when it was not so long ago that I did in fact believe it myself.

I've rattled on long enough. Have at it!

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Jesus empathetic? ha ha ha ha

Ok, he was from a culture of murderous, warmongering tribesman and actually suggested that one could turn the other cheek rather than slaughtering thine enemy.  That was pretty empathetic for the age - but hardly the sort of lesson anyone has needed in centuries.  Furthermore, the religions based off of that mythology have had a strong tendency towards oppression and misogyny, don't you think?

Stole, you're right in that people who only talk empathy are not the best ones to teach it.

People who do empathy -- be they parents, chaplains, teachers, or school staff -- will teach it better.

With empathy, all of the above will be moral. With religion, they might be cruel.

 

@Tom - I like the way you said that.

and especially:

"With empathy, all of the above will be moral. With religion, they might be cruel."

Diane, count me an ally on the priorities you named. I've been an ACLUer, an FFRFer, and an AUer for decades.

There was a time (the 1950s) that I occasionally voted for Republican candidates. I now tell Republican acquaintances that I don't want a political party imposing religion on me.

Sadly 'humans' have burned witches, using 'our god' as the licence to murder!

Without a licence from 'god', humans might atleast need to grow an actual conscience, or would just carry on looking for one more licence as a rationalization. Surely 'the state', 'in the interests of science', 'power', 'wealth', and 'social status', would continue as alternate sources of 'licence'. If we can not build a conscience, from the human intelligence, or religion as the platform, does anything remain to keep us from ugliness? I guess if the 'brute' remains after all our explorations, we could embrace it as the last honest thing that unites us?

I guess, at some small place in my mind, I think that some path of 'human perfectability' is still a worth while goal. Sadly I have been around/with some groups of fellow  travelers, where other forms of 'licence' are matured to a finely honed edge, such as 'survival', 'resentment', 'excape', and 'nihilism'. After only a light touch in these areas, I have determined that I need to consider Kants recommendations of 'willing the good', else it is possible that the 'good' would would have no existence.

 

  

Stole, you ask what's possible without religion.

It depends on the kind of religion people have had. Some people find their religion helpful; others find their religion hurtful.

What's possible?

A feeling that their efforts will succeed, a feeling that they are able to produce the change(s) they need.

An imaginary ally might help when people are dealing with others who imagine the same ally.

Otherwise, real allies are necessary.

@Gallup - "I hope he comes back."

Where did he go? - I have some things to show him.

@Diane - I take your point. 

@AS<-J:   medicine.  Perhaps we're talking about "hope" and "faith".  Hope that things might get better, and faith that maybe they actually will.  The human body wants to heal, it wants to be healthy and it wants to survive.  We live in a world of people whom we depend upon for happiness.  How do those two facts translate into hope and faith?  What about someone who appears to have no hope?  There are such people.  Some people are just damned forever.  But are they really? 

 

Hi Simon

  "Perhaps we're talking about "hope" and "faith".  Hope that things might get better, and faith that maybe they actually will."

Hope and faith are really the same thing arent they. A lot of atheists ask what is faith - but its just the hope that maybe tomorrow it will be better than today.

'Some people are just damed forever'

 and they die prematurely because of it. I wonder why ...

I think there's some potential for hope for everybody.  It's true that some people's lives are tragic, however. 

Hi Rocky

I don't see why other religious models cant be used. its a cultural fit. I choose Jesus because he's the most famous. But it could be any of the good religious models. Why not?

 

@Heather - "Furthermore, the religions based off of that mythology have had a strong tendency towards oppression and misogyny, don't you think?"

Yep - I think that too and I think its like that because humans corrupt everything.

"Jesus empathetic? ha ha ha ha"

lol -

addition - and like Tom explained - 'you can't talk empathy - you have to do empathy' - If someone is very low on empathy - how do they know how to do It?. Like what/who?

 

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