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With the possible exception of my shoe, there is absolutely nothing less reliable as a moral guide than opinion and personal experience
surely that would deny the conscience, for on what possible other bases could one form one?
in fact consciences molded from (educated, informed) 'opinion and personal experience' in my judgment are are a lot more likely to be wholesome and beneficial, than the potted fossils of supposedly great, iconic semi-historical (mythic?) figures and the legends of spiritual derring-do created in their wake.
all too easy to iconise people millennia after they're dead, when their foibles are long forgotten, their mummified counsels become largely irrelevant, and their miracles witnessed by unknowns, and testified to by unreliable scribes.
the bible contains the words of jesus, and very fine words they are too, and difficult to embody, especially if your life plans don't include modern versions of crucifixion.
the more i hang out at ET, i wonder if i am going to wake up one morning and 'lose my faith', because i have never encountered a group of such intelligent, knowledgeable, and amusing people in one space in my life.
the fact that they are overwhelmingly atheist i do find extraordinary, but that's not what bothers me about these discussions here at ET...
it's the confusion i experience when i see that people whose conviction that their lives have been touched by faith has clouded their perception with regard to how best to explain it to others yet unblessed (and thus unbiased) by that particular set of feelings.
i keep expecting my memory to devalue its own emotional connection to its experiences, because i prefer the company of atheists to those of faith, when it comes to intellectual discussion. atheists are freer within their mental boxes (of healthy skepticism/unbelief than most religious people are in the infinite spaces of their own belief systems, amazingly enough.
a fine paradox to ponder, with the corollary precautional point that while some folks might be way more fun to discuss this wondrous existence with, they may not have what one needs in deep crises of the soul, indeed why should they, since they, (often as adamantly as any fervent believer), discount or ignore any need for its existence?
there are some experiences whose effects on one's inner life are so pleasurably profound as to be unforgettably positive. what's interesting is every culture has a different shaped god-ology, as it has differences in average height, melanin quotient, hair/eye colours, choice of sounds to make as language and so on.
from some here one may get the impression -writely or wrongly- that because religiously demented people are responsible for pretty much of man's inhumanity to man, with the possible exceptions of stalin, hitler and pol pot, who were evil enough without needing recourse to such antiquated folderol as religion masking powerfreakery, it appears.
no point to be taken there, correlation is not causation after all... monstrosity of character can occur equally monstrously with any ideology, real or faked. religion is a mostly failed attempt to proactively arm a child morally to stand up for the goodtrueandbeautiful in this vale of joyful tears.
my personal feeling is that if god wants to disappear from hir artefacts, like some great authors write the first person from the plot, then no amount of speechifying from the faithful is going to lead to mass epiphanies of the sort favoured by religions.
intellect is a great razor to separate the farcical from the simply absurd, and it's a pleasure to see it wielded so gracefully, it is always kinder to make a clean deep cut, as any good surgeon knows.
i admire lynch and lily both for mustering their best to try and cast light into this depraved tavern of heathens, but i have to hand the game to the atheists/neurogeeks so far, by a mile.
i don't think we will catch any really beautiful butterflies with only reason for a net, but why collect them at all, surely seeing them is enough?
i have met and dialogued with great reasoners, some of good faith (and no religious belief) and some who were religious but communicated no spiritual current, or even any particular maturity of character. sometimes religion is used as a numb-er/pacifier of doubt, when doubt should be welcomed! doubt is your friend, without it how can you understand being when doubt is finally silent?
removal of doubt is a two-edged thing, one a mercy, as the torture of separation from the source is ended, the second a threat, because as soon as you ascend the hill of certainty, you can forget the most important thing of all, that we are all on the same level, and sure enough, we get lynch here acting out with juvenile testicular challenges, and lily, of such sweet and reasonable demeanour, resorting to a 'i said it, so it must be so' didactic, which leaves the conversation the end of its intellectual road, dangling in the void.
a bridge to nowhere!
i guess it boils down to proselytizing, do you feel it's necessary? just because faith was such a boon to one's own life, might it not be a bane to others? who are we to know and gamble on that? one person's medicine is another's poison.
if we could exchange 25% of our intellect for moral maturity, wouldn't we be better off making that choice, if we had it?
of course i don't believe we do, these bulbous, swollen thought-glands bobbling above our shoulders are our responsibility to develop and enjoy sharing the full fruits of with each other, and good discussion about the gnarliest of abstracts is like great food or wine. we need the intellectual friction created by dialogue between faithed and not, about philosophy, history, art, compassion, it brings many interesting issues to the surface, issues vital to our self-understanding as a species. it's another of those perennially fascinating dualities, like male and female. could there be a 'faith gene'? i'm starting to think there might be...
if one is blessed with a personal connection to the great author of all, one should be able to stand strong in that, no matter what others may believe. if one is called to testify about one's beliefs, i think one should use the language and terms one knows will be understood by those listening, and neither stoop to abuse, or retreat to some lofty tower to talk down to those unfortunately not sapient enough to share one's own privileged position.
i think it's hopeless to proselytize actually, and possibly self-damaging. the contours of one's faith should be as private as the secrets between man and wife, and people should be ready to be judged by their own lights, not because they took shelter under the umbrella of some secondhand belief system not directly validated by their own being, or believed in some force that dealt them special favours simply because they knew it existed and mumbled the right mantras.
belief is just another personality flavour at the end of the day, it's always been and always will be by peoples' actions that their lives will be counted as worthy or less. god breathes through us all, not just those who see, or whose neurotransmitters are working a certain way.
awe, wonder, joy, bliss, gratitude, contentment... they are free to all of any persuasion, they just seem to accumulate more when people are kind, patient, generous and thoughtful, (some pious, some irreverent, some both!). next to these qualities, all the holy books are merely confused exhortations, attempting to ensure these virtues' promulgation.
weird how that works. religions make simple, intuitive things complicated, historically for the worst and wrongest of reasons, namely the selfsame temporal power they soapily pretend to eschew.
they detract from true spirituality, which is why the progenitors of these religions tore down the old gods of the religions extant before their turn at tyranny.
it's not the religious impulse that's at fault, or the lack of it, really. it's the simple fact that many of us were raised with varying degrees of empathy. and some have not fully realised how to deepen and expand it to the levels needed in these times we are navigating. moral badges or credo brands are neither significant nor useful any more, or they would have done what they set out to do by now. in fact they are as much divisive distractions, outdated polarities, as they are genuine inducements to inclusive, collaborative, progressive activism, with several notable, heroic exceptions. we have to go beyond, to a place where we stand without crutches of any kind, leaving all certainties (most of all the ones that ask others to stop thinking for themselves) behind, and unite in acceptance and common, mutual fellowship, irrespective of private beliefs about what we cannot prove scientifically, no matter how strongly we feel graced and guided by them. if we keep it private, we will convince people better. if we live exceptionally because of our power to bring the best into and out of our lives, then others will want to emulate that. just as i trust we wish to emulate good characteristics in people, whatever they believe! trying to communicate things that are unlanguageable leads to egg on face, and not much else.
tho entertaining colman is reward enough! %}
...and gives (way too easy) target practice to all the archers here, who've been whittling some extremely fine points for years, and deploy them pretty devastatingly, as/when seen to be needed.
maybe god wants to be like training wheels...
'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
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