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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@ Belle

You saved your life.

Take the credit where credit is due.

:D

As long as the whole community is the same religion, there is peace...for the most part...depending on the specific religion.

And, depending upon the specific interpretations of that religion, etc.

:D

Yes, very true. Each individual must decide how to interpret the ideas presented to them.

Gets very tough when they are told,
"You can't understand [HOLY BOOK] unless you understand [ANCIENT LANGUAGE]. Just have faith!"

Each individual must decide how to interpret the ideas presented to them.

Yes. When they live during a time where they can openly talk about their non-standard interpretation of said religion without risking a couple nights of torture and your head sticking on a pike at the city gates.

A bit of a catch-22 situation though...in the few open societies that allow open critique against religious positions (or even critique of religion itself)...atheism pops out of nowhere and grows very fast. So it's like...finally you get to criticise the standard or official view without having your back sliced open with a whip....but dog gone it....you no longer believe in that stupid pile of bullsh*t anymore...so you can't argue your faithful take on the religion because you now realise that any faithful take on supernatural babble is rediculous.

Zheesh...there just seems to be no winning.

Haha. Yes, we non-believers remove ourselves from the religion and lose the privilege to critique since the members now recognize us a "traitor."

Uphill battle. ThinkAtheist should put together the best blogs/discussions edited down to a reading or book format. Could be a good goal for the community.

My wife and I live in New Jersey. We are working on finding jobs in Georgia so we can leave this state far behind. Cost of living is way too high and jobs pay too little to survive here. We lost our house to a fire almost 6 months ago. My wife is a believer and I am an atheist. I am pretty outspoken about my lack of belief. We currently attend the Warwick Reformed Church in Warwick New York. They know I am an atheist, yet still welcome my wife and I whenever my wife is successful at dragging me to church. After the fire, they were pretty helpful with giving us money to hopefully get restarted. So, religion can be positive. It does far more damage in my opinion than any help it manages to give. I mean religion over all. The catholics are helping to spread AIDS in Africa. Islam is making itself a real pain in the ass just about everywhere.

PS: Is there a drive-in movie theater anywhere in GA? My wife and I are going to really miss the one in Warwick.

You are in for a culture shock, Jason. Especially if you are not headed for Atlanta. The Bible belt is real. You may learn to enjoy the Southern way.... in any event take it slow. Memory is long and still waters run deep. I spent some time near Savannah..it's beautifull and at the same so resistant to change.

In my little Florida town, every Easter they stop traffic and Jesus drags a cross down mainstreet. They pray at every city council meeting. But I love it, nevertheless.

I am hoping to meet people of similar lack of belief when I go visit and look at apartments in a few weeks.

Thank you for the info.

Pew research has demonstrated, statistically, that there is a positive side to religious belief. I've been an ardent atheist for 58 years but, after being invited to Catholic Mass by my practicing girlfriend (now fiance) I decided to try it all on for size by giving up my atheism for Lent. That meant being positive and accepting the beliefs as my own as best as I can. Now, even though I totally understand atheism and its benefits, I find that believing also has benefits, whether psychologically based, a function of self delusion or otherwise. 

I found that prayer has great similarities to autosuggestion and, in that regard, is very effective in helping one's subconscious mind help to overcome feelings of existential angst, in its many forms. 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, even throughout the week. I ended up converting by being baptized into the faith and now find that my new identity helps me feel a part of a worldwide "club", but even more, I can express my needs through the filter of faith, and within its language, which leaves me with a feeling of profound peace and connective-ness. 

I'm not saying there aren't alternatives ways to accomplish similar results. But, given that I've fallen in love with my, now, fiance, I find our relationship is more compatible and I value this. I now "get it" in that I understand where she's coming from and, to me, that makes it all worth it. 

I realize that self delusion may be operating but I accept it because it works and there and many, many people who work under similar principles so it's become a welcome reinforcement. 

It's not for everyone, at least my particular situation, but in different ways, similar principles guide us all as we are human, with needs that become satisfied within the context of an almost endless variety of practices and beliefs. I was willing to let go of my critical thought process as far as religion goes and found it addicting...and very satisfying, even if it still remains when considering scientific discovery and such. 

And though I've now changed certain views that were diametrically different prior, as I now understand their origin and have committed myself to accept and obey Church authority, I still retain the understanding that others think differently and I respect them for that, as well as understand where they are coming from as I felt similarly prior to my conversion. It's just that I keep my promises and my baptism was a promise and a commitment, for me. 

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