I'm taking a world religions course. This isn't in an attempt to see if I can detach my retinas via eye-rolling but in a sincere effort to know the opposition. When someone asks how I can say no religion works for me I want to be able to give an answer.

I still live in Texas though, so every single religion touched upon is compared to Xtianity. The class is 90% Xtian, there are 3 atheists and a Buddhist, but the rest all smugly remark on the folly of n religion to their own. It's irritating.

Day 2 of the class was the worst though. After insisting that atheism was a religion the professor proceeded to attack the tendency for the non-religious to defend our faithlessness. Then that girl (Let's call her Virginia) said she thought it was stupid that we announce we do not believe in gods. Virginia said we should keep it to ourselves, after all, as adults we don't believe in Santa, but we don't go about declaring it constantly.

Except... that isn't really true at all. Do you remember when you stopped believing in Santa? You told your friends, or maybe one of your friends told you, and suddenly the truth swept over the playground. Some kids would argue that their parents insist that Santa was real, while the whistle-blowers would be chastised for revealing the truth before the other kids were ready to know it. Sometimes there was the threat of disbelief equaling a gift-less winter. Parents would try for another holiday of innocence with movies and stories that reinforce the obvious existence of the Jolly Watcher. Yes Virginia...

Fast-forward a year later and the fact was that lack of Santa-faith didn't end the songs gifts or family gatherings eased the reality. No Santa, but the holidays were still good.

The playground is a bigger place for us now, but the reaction is still the same. Anger, denial, accusations, threats of gift denial. No Virginia... 

Why are we compelled to tell others that we don't believe? What are we hoping to gain by wearing our faithlessness where others can see it?

For me, it's a throwback to those playground days. No, someone isn't watching every thing we do, but there is still good, there are still songs and happiness but those should be enjoyed without fear. The rewards and punishments come from real things, either our parents or civil authority or ourselves...but not the imaginary.

I share because I believe that the truth is good, it is freedom, it is a gift without a judge.

Views: 1358

Comment by Warren on September 30, 2013 at 10:05am

The religious person says to himself - 'I know the truth'.
The atheist person says to himself - 'I know the truth'.

The religious knows the truth because the bible (or whatever religious book) tells them so and doesn't change even if outside evidence shows differently.

The atheist sees the truth (or as much of it as he/she can) and if new evidence comes along or new information, the old truth is trashed and the truth as we know it evolves. That's the difference I see, it's called open mindedness.

Comment by archaeopteryx on September 30, 2013 at 10:08am

@Strega, RE:

However, I would also like to mention that there is a sharp dissonance between your earlier declaration that you don't understand complex vocabulary, and your assertion here, with text extracts, that you comprehend Jung's psychological extrapolations.

See last sentence in my comment above --

Comment by archaeopteryx on September 30, 2013 at 10:26am

@Angela, RE:

But then one day something happened and everything I learned about the universe became completely irrelevant because knowing all of that does not soothe your psyche when the shit hits the fan. and when the shit does hit the fan - you dont find solice in atheism or Neil Degrasse Tyson quotes.. The human condition does not seek an atheistic belief system when its in its greatest need. I know that for a fact. Thats the edge that religion has and thats why it wont go away. When it comes to the psyche - religion owns the medicine for it.

I translate and encapsulate that to say, "When bad stuff happens to me, I find comfort by retreating into a world of fantasy."

I say this with all due respect (though it likely won't be taken that way), and with no personal insult intended, but mental hospitals are filled with people who do exactly the same thing - whether their thoughts are rational or not, they couldn't care less, they're safe! Now THAT, I believe, is an inherent human tendency, to rationalize and deny for peace of mind, and possibly explains the outlook of Jung's terminal patients as well.

Comment by Warren on September 30, 2013 at 10:41am

I thought the movie "Constantine (2005)" was a thoroughly entertaining movie, but I knew it was only a religiously inspired fantasy and thought of it as such. The world is a different place where people need to deal with head on with reality.

Comment by archaeopteryx on September 30, 2013 at 10:41am

@Angela, RE:

Well ok - so what is the atheist response to working through the human condition then? Does it have one?

I wouldn't want to call, it "the atheist response," because in doing so, I would be presuming to speak for all atheists, but my response would be to ask you a simple question: "How do you know when you feel good?"

You may well say that that question is so simple, it's stupid to ask it - "Because it feels good!" But compared to what? To something that felt bad. You can never feel good, unless you have feeling bad to compare it to. You can never feel happy, without ever having felt sadness.

I could go on through the gamut of human emotions, but the truth is that education, in fact life itself, is the sum of all of your experiences, good and bad. If you hide from the extremes, whether in religion or some other form of fantasy, in a grey world that Kahlil Gibran describes as being a place, "where you laugh, but never all of your laughter and cry, but never all of your tears."

Comment by archaeopteryx on September 30, 2013 at 10:50am

@Angela, RE: Paynton's comment:

In his book "Flourish", Martin Seligman describes five elements to wellbeing: 

positive emotion; engagement (when you are engaged in an activity and it "takes you away", you are "in the flow"); meaning (connectedness with wider social structures and things greater than yourself); positive relationships; and accomplishment.  To these, I would like to add "optimism".  Another definition of happiness is how rapidly we are meeting our goals.

Didn't I say essentially the same thing in a single sentence, which I believe you actually quoted in a comment on another thread: "The shortest path to finding oneself, lies in losing oneself in the service of others."

Comment by archaeopteryx on September 30, 2013 at 10:57am

@Angela RE:

According to Murray Stein, Jungian training analyst and author, Jung related theological concepts and psychological concepts using three tenets:[4]

  1. That words about theological constructs (such as "God") can be interpreted as referring to structures within the psyche.
  2. That psychologists can evaluate the adequacy of theological constructs against the normative structure and dynamics of the psyche.
  3. That words about the psyche are also words about God, due to the correspondence between the structures of subjectivity and objectivity.

According to Eric Berne, creator of Transactional Analysis, via Harris' book, I'm OK, You're OK, equated the psyche, Freud's Ego, Super Ego and Id, to a more familial constructs, the Parent, the Adult and the Child within us. A simple change of analogies can remove religion from the equation entirely.

It sounds like you've been spending too much time in private conversation with Paynton.

Comment by archaeopteryx on September 30, 2013 at 11:00am

@Strega, RE:

However, I would also like to mention that there is a sharp dissonance between your earlier declaration that you don't understand complex vocabulary, and your assertion here, with text extracts, that you comprehend Jung's psychological extrapolations.

See last sentence in my comment above --

Comment by archaeopteryx on September 30, 2013 at 11:14am

@Warren, here's a BBC Documentary that may give a different perspective, as well as this, and then there's this short piece:

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on September 30, 2013 at 11:18am

1. That words about theological constructs (such as "God") can be interpreted as referring to structures within the psyche.

A simple change of analogies can remove religion from the equation entirely.

The claim this purports to prop up: belief in religion (not belief in God, mind you, but belief in religion) is natural.

Where does Jung make this claim? He doesn't. Not in the quoted passages.

Where does he say the alleged God "structure" in your noggin comes from? Nature? So it's a biological process? It's genetic? There are Jesus and Mary genes? There is a theism gene? A go-to-church gene? How does this information about religion pass from the physical structures of the brain and into the psyche? Where are the physical structures that store this "hard wired" information located in the brain? The thalamus? The cerebellum? Do they form in the womb? Do they form while the child is being religiously indoctrinated? Let's see the science.

Even if Jung actually does make this claim, it doesn't let Angela off the hook. I asked to see evidence that religion is natural, not that someone else makes the same claim without evidence.

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