Firstly, I am glad I am back here and I miss all of you. And I want to start a discussion now by asking a simple question. Is there a bright side of religion? Did religion positively influence in a positive way regardless of the negative things?

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"obey Church authority"

This is the authority that dug up a dead pope and put his corpse on trial, that protects sexual predators, has exorcism as a sacrament, and is against condoms even as deadly STDs ruin lives. Does not believe in equal rights for women, all homosexuals are doomed....and the premise is that god created us broken, sent himself as his son to be sacrificed to save us from what he will do to us.

Good luck with that !!!

To Robert,

All of humanity and humanities organizations have their n'er do wells. Over time it's important that they are exposed and either corrected, if that's possible, or taken away from the organization, society, etc. This is true in government, companies, social circles and the Church. 

Those in authority in the Church have (finally) recognized the sins of those priests you allude to, and did so publicly, in court and by their many actions. For instance at my Church, before anyone works with youth members they go through a background check and course on what is and what is not appropriate behavior. A simple search on the Net will illuminate more changes that have occurred. The sin that these priests committed is not condoned by the Church, as it isn't in legal society, and though the Church erred in how it was dealt with in the past, they are swiftly and efficiently dealing with it now. I would guess that it still won't completely correct the problem, but our laws and courts have never eliminated crime either. The point is that it isn't condoned anymore. 

Exorcism is not a sacrament, as far as I know. The Catholic Church defines 7 sacraments and exorcism isn't one of them, period.

The position on condoms, insofar as it is related to STDs, has also changed and they are permitted, at least in Africa where certain diseases reached epidemic proportions. 

Equal rights for women has been an issue everywhere and for a long time. Women didn't even have a right to vote until 1919 in the U.S., where our Constitution should have spelled that out clearly but for those who interpreted it incorrectly. In non-Catholic Churches today you will see women priests and, even in the Catholic Church, you now see women Eucharistic Ministers. It is and has always been a slow process, this kind of change, but it is occurring. Our society has numerous examples of women being discriminated against, in pay, jobs and opportunity, etc. It is changing for the better, if slowly.

Homosexuals aren't "doomed" as there, currently, are ways in which they, too, can achieve salvation. I admit, though, that the prescription may not be the best possible solution.

God didn't create us "broken" as it was free will that allowed original sin and that is what is kept in us since. Baptism frees us from original sin but our sinful nature, combined with our free will, keeps us at it. Confession allows us to examine our sins and, thereby, acts to improve ourselves by avoiding it in the future. It is one of many methods that work to achieve this result. You may have your own method. If it works, great. 

Obeying Church authority isn't for everyone, I totally understand. I find that I prefer doing that now, in my life, my choice. As long as I don't impinge on anyone's legal rights, I don't see anything wrong with doing so, for me. 

Of course it is your choice to support the sovereign state created by the fascist dictator Mussolini !!! I am all about religious freedom and complete separation of church and state.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateran_Treaty

http://www.npr.org/2014/01/27/265794658/pope-and-mussolini-tells-th...

I am sure your Sunday basket money will be well spent. They do have to come around twice you know. Just in case you still have that last nickel. It must be a lot of work creating all of that guilt about "sin". I know a lot about it after 12 years of Catholic school. The church is rotting from the inside as people snap out of it and realize that it IS simply fear based fiction.

I do find it strange that you are chatting about giving up rational thought here at an atheist website. I would think you would be at a Catholic forum frothing at the mouth about the glories that await you in the kingdom of heaven...

It IS too bad the church lacks the morality of pretty much everyone else, thus all of your excuses for their behavior. The pope sits behind  40 ft wall and tells all of the other nations to take in refugees..That's grand !

PS. Exorcism is considered "sacramental"... lots of bad press lately you know; unfortunate victims such as Anneliese Michel were murdered and some were raped..check out this rabid priest...https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_J._Euteneuer what a piece of work.

Rest assured as you confess your sins through a leach in black. God created this entire universe so you could do just that. 

I can see you're very angry and, based on your list of grievances, it's totally understandable. Having high expectations, as one may expect given the Church's proclamations, only to realize that the human faults that mark its history are too abundant and belie these expectations, is a surefire formula for disappointment, even anger. 

Anything touched by humans can be found to be lacking in one degree or another, if not now, sooner or later. But it's equally true that there are many good people to be had in any organization and one shouldn't forget that lest one becomes too bitter to the point of moving away from reality which contains, almost always, the good and the bad. 

I can't really address your sarcasm as, from my point of view, it was an expression of your anger and disappointment which I addressed somewhat. 

Since I'm new to this religious thing, I learned just now that, yes, though exorcism isn't a sacrament, it's considered sacramental. I'm not sure, now, what the means but, if one or more people died and/or got raped during its actualization, then we must be referring to something else too, yes? 

My message here, though, is from another perspective, one which I think you may not be seeing, or I'm not clearly defining it. It really doesn't have much to do with promulgating any particular point of view but, rather, trying to connect the humanity of each of our beliefs and behaviors, so to explain that we are all connected in that way, though I'll admit that there are many terrible people whose humanity is hard to ascertain,  but still obtainable when looked at with sufficient detail. 

I decided to try it all on for size by giving up my atheism for Lent….

I am not sure if you understand what atheism is. It is not possible to suspend ones lack of belief in something. If you know longer lack belief you must have a belief. You either believe God exists or you don’t. You certainly cannot logically suspend your disbelief for 40 days (and 40 nights).

I've found that going to Mass has addictive aspects in that, for me, it started to be able to set me up for my day, so now I go frequently…..

Please explain further. I am intrigued. I sometimes run 5k which sets me up for the day. How could praising the imaginary Creator of the Universe, that you don’t believe exists, be addictive?

From what I have read it sounds like you are trying to please your fiancé by trying to justify Catholic rituals to yourself. If you accept all of that and maintain you are still an atheist, then you are being dishonest to the two people in your relationship.

If you went and got baptized and still maintain you are an atheist then you are being dishonest to your fiancé, her Catholic friends and family and deluding yourself. If the strength of your relationship rests upon the quality of your faith then you need to reconsider getting married. It would be a vulgar deception to get married in a Catholic Church and taking their vows if you are an atheist. If your relationship rests upon belief in an imaginary god then it rests on nothing. Faith is pretending to believe things you cannot possible know but you will be caught out pretend to be a good pretender if you carry on like this,

I know I am being blunt here but reread what you posted man.

:Hi Fronkey Farmer,

Having been an atheist for 58 years I feel I do know what atheism is: simply a surety that any form of God(s) doesn't exist. I disagree with your notion that it isn't possible to suspend one's lack of belief. There are examples, with hypnosis, where that was exactly done to atheists who, after going through a hypnotic process, believed in God. In one case, the subject who was left to their own devices for the following 2 weeks, started praying and going to Church. The hypnotist was compelled to "deprogram" him due to issues of ethics. 

In my case, it all started as a form of "method acting", if you will, where I REALLY got into the character, so to speak. The "joke" was on me, though, as it affected my thought and feeling process in ways that I couldn't have predicted as I am not an atheist now. Perhaps it, too, was a form of self hypnosis or autosuggestion, but I started enjoying the process to the point where I eventually became a believer, with doubts. My doubts, though, are fairly typical, even among Saints, but I now prefer to believe in the precepts of the Catholic Church as, doing so, has been quite beneficial for me, psychologically if you will, or spiritually if you won't. :)

What was addictive was the feelings I get when taking Communion, feeling part of it all, believing that I'm taken Jesus inside me, becoming one with, etc. In order to do this I must go to Mass and be free of mortal sin (done by frequent Confession). I realize it's not for everyone, or even for most who claim to be religious, but it works for me. Riding my bicycle in the morning, as your 5K runs did, sets me up also but spending 1/2 hour at Mass in the morning adds to this in ways that are different. 

I wasn't simply trying to please my fiance but, rather, wanted to feel the feelings she had so that I could be closer to her. I wanted to know those feelings, even if I thought that I would reject them as they may apply to myself. My surprise came when I started to actually feel those same feelings, as opposed to merely understanding and accepting them in her. At first I felt embarrassed as I had been a militant atheist for some time (years ago when I was more arrogant then, until I realized that we all have our ways of dealing with existential angst, meaning, etc.). I still feel uncomfortable when facing my friends who, being atheists themselves, find my present self strange, laughable, and more in this regard.

My relationship to my fiance doesn't rest on "the quality of [my] faith" but, rather faith enhances it in ways I never could have previously presumed. I believe that, even those who go to Mass often, may occasionally pretend to fully believe as faith is hard to have, especially in these days where we are better connected to others than ever before. It was hard previously and no one denies that, especially priests (at least the ones I've met). But if one's faith has positive benefits, it becomes a self rewarding system, otherwise it wains. Conditioning is very powerful. 

 

I understand the benefits of rituals. There can be a meditative quality to them that can bring about a sense of calm and allow for reflection. The repetition of the prayers, the music, candles etc. can even bring about a sense of community when the same faces attend. We all need, to a lesser or greater degree, a sense of belonging within the community and a place where we can always feel welcome (cue the title music from “Cheers”). I don’t really see a problem with that………..but…………..

What was addictive was the feelings I get when taking Communion, feeling part of it all, believing that I'm taken Jesus inside me, becoming one with, etc. In order to do this I must go to Mass and be free of mortal sin (done by frequent Confession)………

What, apart from your emotions and feelings, led you to decide that you are actually consuming Jesus when you eat the wafer? Do you really believe that you can now communicate with the Creator of the Universe? Do you really believe that you were born a sinner and in need of salvation? Do you really believe that you will be saved and go to Heaven with all the other Catholics?

I had this article ready for next weeks’ Sunday school but it is relevant here. What do you think of this Catholic’s understanding of atheism and opinion of atheists?

The article is obviously sarcastic, with some truth in it as sarcasm, and humor in general, depends on its connection to reality, or at least closely held opinion. The comment about Stalin and others of similar ilk being atheists is, from a historical perspective, besides the point. It wasn't atheism that drove them to do their evil deeds but, rather, the usual quest for power, greed, and a need to feel in control of things they felt threatened by, whether based on reality or not. 

The fact is that there are a great number of beautiful atheists, enthusiastic atheists, atheists that have significantly made our world a better place as there are Christians that have done the opposite. We are, in the final analysis, humans and are therefore subject to human needs, greatness, folly and the whole gamut that defines humanity. My point is that, whatever beliefs you have, if they give you hope, make you a better person, help life on our small planet, then good for you and for us! If believing that a Unicorn is real and that makes you do good, who am I to judge? 

The only time one's beliefs are "bad" is when it hurts life on our planet and/or interferes with the legal rights of those that believe otherwise. Yes, there are gray areas, but our court system, and our primitive international system works to sort them out and stand as the final arbiter. For those that still disagree, hopefully they have the right to protest, lobby and work to change things in the meantime. Ultimately, real truths have a way of becoming accepted truths over time, even though there may be many casualities along the way. 

You sure it is sarcasm? I get tripe like that shoved through my mailbox from Catholic organisations almost every week. I had to dump 2 sacks of "junk mail" in their office in order to get them to stop. because they ignored my emails. I hear the "Hitler and Stalin were atheists argument" all the time. It is almost always used as if it is a "gotcha" claim, rather than a display of their ignorance.

 

I disagree with your notion that it isn't possible to suspend one's lack of belief.

Being hypnotised is not the same thing. I am saying it is not possible to say “Ok, I will not believe in God for 2 weeks”. You either do believe or you don’t. However from your “method acting” approach you seem to have hypnotised yourself into faith after 58 of atheism.

You might care to answer my main question above and repeated here:

 What, apart from your emotions and feelings, led you to decide that you are actually consuming Jesus when you eat the wafer? Do you really believe that you can now communicate with the Creator of the Universe? Do you really believe that you were born a sinner and in need of salvation? Do you really believe that you will be saved and go to Heaven with all the other Catholics?

This guy doesn't know the first thing about atheists. Atheism is not a choice that is made. I can't make a decision about whether or not to believe in the tooth fairy, santa clause, the easter bunny, or unicorns. I used to believe in those things as a kid when there was evidence for it, weak as it may have been. Though, so called evidence for god is far weaker. When I was little and lost a tooth I would put it under my pillow and in the morning there would be a small amount of money. I was asleep at the time, so I could not know it was my parents that did it. I probably figured it out earlier than most kids do, but who really knows. Every Christmas there were presents from my parents and a few with a letter signed by santa clause. I know now and have known for a very long time that such things don't actually exist. I see no evidence for any god, so I am not making a choice to not believe. I simply don't believe due to lack of evidence. I am not angry at god any more than I could be angry at Darth Vader or The Muppets. I can however be angry at the followers of the fictional being they worship. The catholics are willing to keep giving lots of money to the church which uses much of it to pay off victims of abuse and move around priests that would otherwise be in prison.  

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