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Posted: 18 October 2006 04:28 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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I have been profoundly affected by both of Sam Harris' works, though I admit I am impressionable.  My work at the local children's hospital with burn and cancer patients demonstrated to me pure evil.  What hand could bestow such horrible fates upon these tabula rasas?  Thus, when I read Sam Harris's works there was a lightbulb, a wow, a fascination.  Someone else questioned what I did.

I argued with people, winning debates, and I felt proud, content that I had the answers.  But soon thereafter I was involved in a horrible wreck.  I saw my life pass before my eyes.  I pulled myself out of the wreckage before passing out, and I remember praying, "God, keep me safe." 

Harris, I am sorry.  In the moment I most feared for my life, my moment in the fox hole, I clung to God.  You can point out every flaw in my religion, but my need for it will endure.  Maybe I am weak, maybe I am stupid, but I must believe in something. 

I want help.  I know the flaws in my religion, but I know I need something.  Does anyone have suggestions?  Does anyone feel the way I do?  I need to believe in something.

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Posted: 18 October 2006 05:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Dear confused,

Your post is very touching. I think most anyone could relate to the desperate need for comfort in dire moments, and I personally feel there is nothing wrong with that. Panic produces a need for help and comfort, so what could be more natural, when no practical help is immediately at hand, than to beg up into the stars? You are human, one raised in a religious society, so your reaction when in a panic is totally understandable.

No one is trying to rob private comforts from anyone here. Some might challenge their validity—almost certainly, in fact—but the issue this forum revolves around is the brand of faith that results in war, oppression, denial of ownership of one’s own body, terrorism, imposition on one’s right to worship or NOT worship as one pleases, and the rightness of speaking out honestly on the lack of evidence supporting the holy books of various stripes.

To be clear, private comforts should be of no concern to anyone but yourself. . . but when religion imposes itself on individual freedoms, on the physical and mental safety of others, when it bleeds anywhere beyond the confines of your own mind in search of domination over another person. . . then it’s into the realm Sam talks about.

Welcome to the forum wink.

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Posted: 18 October 2006 06:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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[quote author=“confused”]Maybe I am weak, maybe I am stupid, but I must believe in something. 

I want help.  I know the flaws in my religion, but I know I need something.  Does anyone have suggestions?  Does anyone feel the way I do?  I need to believe in something.

This life we have is precious.  Every waking moment of each day you are on the fifty yard line of the most fabulous event ever—the universe.  You can observe it, touch, feel and taste it.  You can comprehend others like yourself, similarly gifted with life and awareness.  Nothing could be better.  You cannot disbelieve this.  This awareness doesn’t demand that you believe anything that isn’t or can’t be true.  There’s no magic text hidden somewhere that gives it more meaning—how could there be?  No long-dead desert-abiding psycopath need be consulted.  You don’t need to kill or die to live up to this universe’s expectations.  Figure it out for yourself, but everything I just wrote is true and you know it.  Isn’t truth enough to believe in?

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Posted: 18 October 2006 07:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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[quote author=“Dr. Seuss, Oh the places You’ll Go!”]
Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.  And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets.  Look ‘em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don’t worry.  Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.

OH!
THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’ t
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted.  But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both you elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out?  Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
       
The Waiting Place…

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

NO!
That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored.  there are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame!  You’ll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t.
Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So…
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

It goes better with pictures, so you should buy the book.

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Posted: 19 October 2006 01:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Confused, there’s no need to worry about you asking God to protect you. What happened there is between you and God. The only thing I like to point is this: Don’t go in the world telling “God saved me!”. Stupid religious folks will assume that it was their god who saved you. They talk for hours about who saved you: the Father, the Son or the Holly Spirit. Some of them may start fighting if they disagree. Other’s will think that this god’s proof he doesn’t like homosexuals and will try to kill a few. Maybe a few will see it as a sign to announce the Judgement Day and will urge the president of US to push the red button. This is the kind of religion that Sam’s arguing about. The kind of religion that doesn’t stay inside and like a creature from the movie “Alien” tries to get out and spread its eggs.

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Posted: 19 October 2006 01:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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[quote author=“confused”]I have been profoundly affected by both of Sam Harris’ works, though I admit I am impressionable.  My work at the local children’s hospital with burn and cancer patients demonstrated to me pure evil.  What hand could bestow such horrible fates upon these tabula rasas?  Thus, when I read Sam Harris’s works there was a lightbulb, a wow, a fascination.  Someone else questioned what I did.

I argued with people, winning debates, and I felt proud, content that I had the answers.  But soon thereafter I was involved in a horrible wreck.  I saw my life pass before my eyes.  I pulled myself out of the wreckage before passing out, and I remember praying, “God, keep me safe.” 

Harris, I am sorry.  In the moment I most feared for my life, my moment in the fox hole, I clung to God.  You can point out every flaw in my religion, but my need for it will endure.  Maybe I am weak, maybe I am stupid, but I must believe in something. 

I want help.  I know the flaws in my religion, but I know I need something.  Does anyone have suggestions?  Does anyone feel the way I do?  I need to believe in something.

You must forge ahead on your own within the purposeless void that is human existence and make a purpose for yourself…to acknowledge the fact that there is no one looking out for you is frightening but as Sartre said that is where true courage comes into play…

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Posted: 19 October 2006 02:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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i think mudfoot has it.

it seems to me that your problem is not with wanting God in your life, but rather just wanting something to believe in.  i can’t see any fault in that.

it seems that this God figure is someone that people use when they need help, are sick, need someone that will listen to them, etc. 

i’m not implying at all that this is your situation, but: a professor i once had pointed out that most religious people would do well to make better friends (to fill that “void”).  why pray to a being you know isn’t going to help when you can “pray” to a friend, who at least has the capacity to do something??

this is kind of my perspective…  i dont suspect this view is attractive to everyone, but i just thought i should mention it.

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Posted: 19 October 2006 03:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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applause to mudfoot on his apropos Dr. Suess quoting.

Confused,
We are thoughtful beings. darn us! We think quite a lot and therefore we find the wonders and the frights more wonderful and more frightful. When it comes to the fear, we all find coping mechanisms. From the first time that a strange bush was thrown onto the campfire and then sought out again and again; from the first time that someone said, “gee, this here moldy grape juice made me feel… FUNNY” and then set out to make that juice again; from the first moment that someone fell and cried and turned to another for help and sympathy—we find our crutches. We choose our poison—is it coffee so you don’t dream at night? Is it solitude to remove the danger of human interaction? Is it opium or alcohol to dull the pain? Is it your wife or husband who you never separate from, even for a full 24 hours? I am with Mia when she says that your coping mechanism is fine—as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else or infringe on their rights.

It may be presumptuous of me, but it seems that you have not found your coping mechanism yet, my friend. I say this because a true coping mechanism helps you cope—it does not cause more problems, bigger and more complex, to cope with [most devices are, in fact, this way in true life-paradoxical fashion]. Do you see my rambling point? If you decide to believe in a god, then let it be so, but let it be so because it does afford you the comfort you desire. If it brings on more concern, more confusion, more pain or self-doubt, or that niggling feeling that perhaps you have chosen the wrong device—then this not the copying device you need. Find another. smile

For me, learning is my coping device: books and news articles and traveling to foreign places and living there for years and years, people and their conversations [i.e. sites like this one] and music [love is my religion smile] and history. Learning from as many different sources as I can is my coping device. And it helps me.

May you find the device that helps, confused. good luck.

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Posted: 24 October 2006 03:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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I like the way mudfoot put it - this is a short life, and every moment is another opportunity to be aware of and thoroughly enjoy your experience in that moment.

Confused, I’d be willing to bet (albeit a small amount of money) that you were taught as a child to pray like many of us were - it’s tough to overcome that kind of training that seems to become instinctive, and in times of danger or fear,  that’s what we revert to.

When you feel like you’ve had a close call, as I’m sure others on the board have, it’s also natural to start paying more attention to those moments every day, lose a bit of the ego drop the preconceptions you’ve either created or had forced upon you, and pursue what matters to you.

but anyway, if you’ll live every day as though it might be your last, you’ll probably enjoy it a lot more, and sooner or later you’ll be right, too.

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Posted: 24 October 2006 03:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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i’m sorry,  that post was me, i forgot to log in. i don’t want my bad grammar and spelling attributed the more eloquent Guests trolling the boards.

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Posted: 28 October 2006 06:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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i just can’t understand how anyone can go through life without God. and not just God, with the thought that all of this, creation, life, our very existance was the result of a fluke. Something or Someone had to have put the ball into motion. has one ever thought the void that needs to be filled is a natural result of our divine creation. we weren’t meant to be separated from God. the gift of free will and our misuse of it is what caused our separation. i know you probably will read this with a sense of sarcasm, pity, superiority, maybe even hatred. i do not mean to offend. i live a simple life. i love hard. i pray hard. i pray for every one of you and for this world. there has got to be more to this than living and dying. with all of our wisdom and all of our advances, the majority of the world still believes in a divine diety. we are not the end all be all. surely we are not as arrogant as that.

confused: try reading Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller, or anything by Donald Miller for that matter

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Posted: 28 October 2006 07:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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I wish to comment on the notion that life arrived on this planet by FLUKE and that it has evolved to where it is at present by pure RANDOM CHANCE.  It may have been a fluke that life appeared on this particular planet (earth), but that is not to say that some sort of living system is not an inherent event in the physical laws that govern the universe.  Life (or living materials) is a very natural and inherent property of the physical systems that govern this material realm.  Now if god had just gathered up some dust and poof! a human being was created, now that would be magical and in essence closer to a fluke (going against the laws of nature), but in the process of evolving life systems when certain conditions are present in a chemical/physical/environmental system some sort of biological systems (replicating protein molecules) can naturally occur.

We use words like FLUKE and RANDOM CHANCE to mitigate against ideas like divine creation or intelligent design.  Once a person understands how evolutionary processes work, both in non-living as well as in living systems, then the arguments from design and notions of cosmic purpose just fall away and one no longer looks at reality from that “watchmaker” perspective.  If you are looking for design and purpose, then substituting words like ‘fluke’ and ‘random’ chance make evolutionary systems appear ridiculous, but the assumption that there have to be cosmic intelligence and cosmic significance for human life are in fact standing in the way of your understanding the nature of evolution.  In order to even briefly understand the process of evolution you must, necessarily, for the sake of being able to understand it, DROP those assumptions.  If you drop those parameters, then you will understand how evolution works.  Only then can you try and work those assumptions back into the equation.

Bob

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Posted: 28 October 2006 07:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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why not? says,

  “there has got to be more to this than living and dying”

Well, living (coming to life) and dying are the two extreme ends of THIS, everything else is all about that period inbetween . . . your life!  And that’s what amounts to the “more to this” that you refer to above.  You want the “more” to account for the non-living and after-death, but that’s just asking for too much, I think.

You imply that I (or any atheist) will read your piece with “a sense of sarcasm, pity, superiority, maybe even hatred” but you are making us out to be very narrow-minded and elitist in our reading.  Perhaps we are just EXASPERATED by your insistence on your own superiority (in your relation to the imagined “creator” and your need to be important in the cosmic scheme of things).  Then you go on to call us arrogant, that we feel that we ourselves are the be all and end all.  Yet that is specifically the mindset that we refuse, that we (each and any one of us) is cosmically significant or the product of a purposeful design.  Those are the parameters of your ways of rationalizing, but don’t hang those same assumptions on our ways of reasoning.  Once you understand that we are not imprisoned by those needs to be cosmically significant, either as a species or as individuals, then you might actually comprehend from where it is that we are coming.  If you can’t drop those assumptions about how we conceive our place in the universe, you will not be able to understand how we view this cosmic mystery in which we (and you also) participate.

Bob

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Posted: 28 October 2006 02:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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[quote author=“confused”]
I argued with people, winning debates, and I felt proud, content that I had the answers.  But soon thereafter I was involved in a horrible wreck.  I saw my life pass before my eyes.  I pulled myself out of the wreckage before passing out, and I remember praying, “God, keep me safe.” 

I can understand that. It’s scary when things beyond your control, or anyone else’s, impedes on your life and you want anwers and help. The universe can feel like a lonely place. It’s human. Unfortunetly, the god up there wont’ be able to help because it doesn’t exist, at least the biblical one. I do think there is an intelligence to the universe that may have created it, but he didn’t dictate a book to some guys a couple of thousands of years ago.

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Posted: 28 October 2006 03:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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i appreciate everyone’s patience with me. i do not think Christians are superior to anyone. granted most think they are. but like it or not, we are all in this boat together. yes, i think there is something beyond death. Lord, i hope there is. i understand this life is precious and we should cherish every day. however, what helps me get through those valleys is the promise that there is an existance where there are no valleys. those days where everything that could go wrong does go wrong. and it also brings me great comfort to know, without a doubt, no matter how my life turns out, i am promised something better if i live my life serving the Lord through love, forgiveness, and faith. i called no one arrogant. i only pray that humankind is NOT arrogant to think we are the creators when we are merely the created.

i do not mean to convert or preach (though it may sound like it). i only mean to say everyone, Atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, and Christians all have a right to believe as they choose though some from all beliefs take things to the extreme.
we all have our reasons for doing so. i’m willing to talk to anyone about my faith. i will not be shaken from my beliefs as i’m sure none of the readers will be shaken from theirs. i do continue to pray for all.

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Posted: 28 October 2006 05:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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[quote author=“CanZen”]You want the “more” to account for the non-living and after-death, but that’s just asking for too much, I think.

Well said!  Believing in the afterlife is wanting more than life itself.  As if life is not good enough.  How utterly selfish, ungrateful, and greedy. 

Thanks for that bit of wisdom!

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