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: 1361

Comment by Simon Paynton on September 30, 2013 at 6:49pm

@Warren - I took the movie Constantine to be a metaphor for severe depression.  As I remember it, he falls through the floor and suddenly everything's "demon-land".  Then there's an epic fight between good and evil, but admittedly, many movies have this in them. 

Comment by Ward Cressin on September 30, 2013 at 6:51pm

I only have a couple minutes right now but I have to ask something based on this:

@Angela - Humans have dragged this religious system around for over 3000 years. That's telling us something. It won't budge because humans want it.

By "this religious system" the date you give of "over 3000 years" signifies Judaism (in the western world) - So we should all become Jews and encourage everyone to convert to Judaism? (Or were you advocating an eastern religion?)

Comment by Strega on September 30, 2013 at 10:26pm

Why do we wake after sleep or how does the psyche know that there will even be a tomorrow

This applies to all animals, birds who fly south, ants that diversify activities, etc. etc.  Certainly dolphins.  And I bet they all cope without religion but unless you know Dr.Dolittle, I doubt we could actually prove it.

Comment by Strega on September 30, 2013 at 10:51pm

Courtesy of Arch....

Comment by Ward Cressin on October 1, 2013 at 2:02am

@ archaeopteryx - are you sure?

Comment by Ward Cressin on October 1, 2013 at 2:07am

This thread explodes when I'm not around.


@Angela - "... Jewish ... You didn't make the right comparison"

But I did make the correct comparison since you specified "over 3000 years". If you had said just under 2000 years then you could have meant Xianity. Just because the Xians stole the Jew's holy book, that doesn't extend their religion back to before their founder's birth.


@Angela - "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 don't find solace in atheism or Neil Degrasse Tyson quotes. The human condition does not seek an atheistic belief system when it's in its greatest need. I know that for a fact. That's the edge that religion has and that's why it won't go away. When it comes to the psyche - religion owns the medicine for it. How do I explain it without a battle? - I can't." (spelling & punctuation errors corrected.)

This was an excellent post. You don't always need to explain everything if you are direct and honest about it IMO.

Your observation here is something that does indeed need to be addressed. Psychology is the only institutionalized alternative to religion that I know of for dealing with people's suffering but it does not have a good reputation so people who are in need of help don't make use of it. While education will help people dismiss most of the crap religion spreads, we still need to develop a better system for people's emotional/psychological needs. Maybe improvements in psychology will be enough but the heavy dependence upon drugs/pharmacological solutions does not bode well for the immediate future.


@Angela - "When the bible says things like - knowledge is bad and faith is good. That's the truth when you are in that state. Because everything you know is of no value what so ever when it comes to that condition."

That feels like the truth. The uplifting spiritual stuff is a lie – a comforting lie. It has been honed over centuries to plug into our brains and make us feel good even though it is a pile of garbage. Like food can comfort or alcohol can dull the pain. But that still doesn't make it good for you. In the short term, it isn't a problem but over the long term it can be deadly.

What is really best for someone in a desperate situation is a support network of friends. Unfortunately some of us don't have that and we have to struggle through alone. Therapy can help but your therapist doesn't feel the same as a friend does. Although that can sometimes help you admit to some things.

As much as we want a simple solution, it does not exist to many problems. And those who try to tell you they have a simple solution are either trying to sell you something or otherwise trying to take advantage of you – avoid them. Religion is about "simple solutions".

I want simple solutions too. But I have yet to find any. Sorry.


@Angela – "The part of the mind that I'm trying to find out about it the part that forces a person to keep moving forward - for example: Why do we wake after sleep or how does the psyche know that there will even be a tomorrow.

So it's that continuity that I'm interested in. I don't know that it changes.  That's the part that Jung calls the religious part because it also works on a continuum. If our psyche didn't have a need to move forward - why would we wake up each day?"

You are putting the cart before the horse here. We move forward. Our mind recognizes this and works to keep up. We know there will be a tomorrow because there was a today (and if we die in our sleep there is no tomorrow). Waking up is a biological process not a cognitive one.

I understand you are searching for answers but you seem to be putting far too much stock in Jung. Like Freud he was instrumental in helping create psychology as a science but there are a number of his ideas that are just wrong, like the "collective unconscious". You need to read far more widely than just Jung and Jungian psychologists – focusing on them is screwing up your understanding of the mind.

Comment by Pope Beanie on October 1, 2013 at 9:48am

I like the phrase "collective unconscious", but not Jung's definition. To me, it describes unconscious social motivations and peer pressure, which drive us and inform us. This is an extreme example, but even a repeated TV commercial can become a culture's underlying motivator, without people consciously knowing it.

What drives us is mostly unconscious, with the conscious being an aid or moderator of it. Take away the higher levels of consciousness (including cultural constructs, like philosophy or science), and we're still left with a pack animal mentality, somewhat social. In my mind, the question "of what motivates us" is more like "how does consciousness affect" our prime motivations.

(Carol? Any good news out there?!)

Comment by Simon Paynton on October 1, 2013 at 2:04pm

@Angela -

"Why do we wake after sleep or how does the psyche know that there will even be a tomorrow.

You have to remember that evolution has built us to survive and to heal. 

Also, the brain is full of models and maps of the world.  Perhaps one day there won't be a tomorrow - the sun won't rise.  Everybody would be surprised though because we have a mental map of the world that includes the sun coming up every day. 

Comment by Simon Paynton on October 1, 2013 at 2:04pm

@Belle - thank you for that article on Jung's model of the psyche. 

Comment by James Cox on October 1, 2013 at 6:54pm

Since I did not sgn a 'consent form' authorizing my circumcism, can I file a malpractice claim against our family doctor? I feel so violated...;p) 


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