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I cannot 'not believe'
Posted: 21 December 2004 11:20 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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Good evening, readers.
My name is Uncle Tom. I'm a Canadian, a septuagenarian, Irish of ancestry. In the rumble tumble of my thinking, reading, listening, and observing, I have come to understand that believing makes sense. I can not 'not believe'. It is as natural as breathing. I feel a bit ridiculous now, that after all these years, I can understand that I don't 'have' to believe anything. Strange, but I'd always thought that I must shut out believing if I wanted to escape something I didn't believe in. I was confusing believing with faith. Cut to the chase. I can now believe that gods are. I don't have to have faith in one. Gods come from my ability to believe. And forgive me, from yours, too.
This is some relief. I'm only making sense of this myself. But I feel free.
Sam Harris' book has iced my cake.

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Posted: 21 December 2004 11:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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[quote author=“Uncle Tom”]Good evening, readers.
My name is Uncle Tom. I’m a Canadian, a septuagenarian, Irish of ancestry. In the rumble tumble of my thinking, reading, listening, and observing, I have come to understand that believing makes sense. I can not ‘not believe’. It is as natural as breathing. I feel a bit ridiculous now, that after all these years, I can understand that I don’t ‘have’ to believe anything. Strange, but I’d always thought that I must shut out believing if I wanted to escape something I didn’t believe in. I was confusing believing with faith. Cut to the chase. I can now believe that gods are. I don’t have to have faith in one. Gods come from my ability to believe. And forgive me, from yours, too.
This is some relief. I’m only making sense of this myself. But I feel free.
Sam Harris’ book has iced my cake.


I think you are right about one thing. You are only making sense to yourself. lol….but seriously, I dont understand your point. All I got from that was that you are in your seventies and you are Irish.

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Posted: 21 December 2004 11:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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[quote author=“Uncle Tom”]Good evening, readers.
My name is Uncle Tom. I’m a Canadian, a septuagenarian, Irish ... I can now believe that gods are. I don’t have to have faith in one.

Tom, it is a free country and you can believe in anything that you want to. However, just because you believe something, that does not mean that it is true, or that it represents knowledge. To get to the next level, justified belief, you have a bit more work to do. As for faith, used in the religious sense, is in my opinion, quite useless for dealing with reality as commonly experienced by “normal” people.

Good luck to you.

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Posted: 21 December 2004 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Never forget that man has created God in his own image. Most of us believe in ourselves. Some of us want to feel that what we have created is the ultimate truth, rather than an image of ourselves. And why not? Who wouldn’t want to be so Important?

Add it up—what does that make us?

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Posted: 21 December 2004 01:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Uncle Tom makes sense to me. He’s just saying that Gods are extensions of the psyche.

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Posted: 23 December 2004 06:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Tom uses the plural term “gods” - this would seem to imply that a debate is needed among “believers” whether there is really only one “god” or more - maybe the concept of a single “god” is incorrect

a scientist who cries “eureka!” during a scientific investigation may think they just saw “god” or some aspect of “god” revealed in their investigation or some aspect of “a god of many” in their investigation - this may need to be investigated

thanks

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Posted: 23 December 2004 07:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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I think Uncle Tom references the fundamental raison d’etre for religion. It’s belief that creates God(s), not the other way around.

You only have to stop believing to verify this fact.

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Posted: 26 December 2004 07:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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I am, like Uncle Tom, also from Canada a country where passionate expression of passionate opinion (or belief) seems out of place; I am currently living in the Czech Republic where you can find one of the highest proportion of non-believers. I personally have no problem with non-believing, it seems to be a family tradition. Where I have a problem, especially as many of us seem eager to “do something” about the threat of religious faith, is to address it in a meaningful, i.e. respectful way, with my friends who are believers -who seem like Uncle Tom to have no choice but to believe. Doing so successfully is part of my own personal action plan -don’t we have to begin at home ? Olivier

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Posted: 27 December 2004 01:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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For myself, I can find no approach to discuss these matters with my believing friends. Their brains shut down at the very mention. So I keep a respectful distance from these matters—which doesn’t make me like them any less as friends, but certainly does close off some lines of communication, and makes the friendship not as close as one might like.

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Posted: 27 December 2004 01:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Been there, Beth.  Right now, in fact.

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Posted: 27 December 2004 02:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Friends. Yes, right. And family. What to do or say? Odd, that they have no trouble parading their faith for me to admire in the sweet assumption that I share it. I have not that faith in my own belief. Faith is the problem. Without faith, one finds oneself without the courage that appears to come with it. I am not an atheist enough to have faith in it. I believe that gods exist, but I have no faith in them. Try saying that to a Faithful deist (theist). Well, I do, of course, say just that. Selectively, of course. I could do with a holy book of scriptures of some sort, something to quote. A priest or an imam or shaman would help, too. Let me say, however, that I am only a beginner. My atheism at the moment is more “secularism”.
But I’m rambling. More another time.  U.T.

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Posted: 27 December 2004 02:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Joe said: “Uncle Tom makes sense to me. He’s just saying that Gods are extensions of the psyche”

If Joe and Uncle Tom are correct and gods are extensions of the human psyche, what are the implicatiions of this fact? Joseph Campbell said about the same thing and I wish he was still around so I could ask him to expand on this.  Is it possible that a creator ingrains an inherent knowledge of a creatior in an individual at birth? How is it possible that the pre-Chistian Europeans, Native Americans (Indians) and Africans,  developed highly-parallel polytheistic, nature-based faiths?

Wotansson

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Posted: 27 December 2004 02:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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A belief in the existence in a supreme entity (let’s call it “god”) or in many entities is fine until the belief becomes an expectation of future action or future manipulation of events by the supreme entity - that is when the belief is tested

my problem with a “belief system”, such as the many so-called “christians” who think that a war in iraq is scripturally decreed and that bush is simply following “god’s orders”, is that this belief system fails in so many ways, such as showing lack of compassion towards “non-believers” and outright attacking the people of a country (iraq) simply to get at “terrorists”, “insurgents”, “bad people”, etc. - the “terrorists”, “insurgents”, etc. WOULD BE OURSELVES, IF WE WERE BEING INVADED, regardless of who our leader was - yet the 700 club, hagee, ken/gloria copeland, janet parshall, etc. have convinced the “christians” that this war is “just” - IT IS SIMPLY NOT JUST - rather than waste our valuable resources in military equipment and people in a stupid endeavor like iraq, we could have provided all of those resources to helping people truly devastated by natural disasters, such as the hundreds of thousands who need shelter and nourishment in southeast asia by the tsunamis on xmas - the USA certainly can’t send any help to them, since we are WASTING our time and resources in iraq!

thanks to the “believers” - hip-hip-houray

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Posted: 27 December 2004 03:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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Just let me ramble further here for a bit. “Justice” has at its core the meaning of balance, agreement, equalizing imbalance; is that ok with people? Seeking justice is to seek a balance between what seems imbalanced. To thoughtful Christians at least, justice is coming to an agreement with god (upper case optional? Ok?), reaching a balance between its (god’s) position (you name it) and mankind’s deviation from it. Thus justice, a just man or woman, that kind of thing.
Eliminate god, or discount it, and a “just person” doesn’t need to seek a balance with its position. There is none. A just person should find a balance, an agreement, and equalizing with some other position… like, a neighbour? Conversely, the neighbour and the person, once in balance, are both just persons. (Oh boy. You are rambling, UT.)  Smile.

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Posted: 27 December 2004 03:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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UT, your “rambling” is refreshing in your apparent openness to both sides of the “belief issue”

however, I do not think that belief in a “god” or “gods” is a prerequisite to having a just and equitable social order - that is supposedly the purview of a fair and equitable judicial system - and we know how flawed it already is in the USA, since so many deathrow inmates have been exonerated - how can a “justice system” by fair if it mistakenly convicts so many innocent people (not to mention all the innocent people most likely already executed while the true criminals are free!)

anyway, if we base our judicial system on reasoned logic, we can come up with a legal system that is substantially a just system - but a death penalty in any system can never be just, since such a system can never be perfect

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Posted: 27 December 2004 04:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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Right. Seems judicial systems as they are practised currently resort to seeking resolutions and compromises. A problem before a “justice system” today finds itself being “bargained”, not balanced. True justice, so hard to come by, takes time, takes reason, takes smoking guns, takes hard evidence, expensive lawyers (advocates..honest ones).  And for you and me, takes patience, obviously. Especially patience, in the long emerging confrontation between faith in gods and belief in science, in scientific search for time, reasons, smoking guns, and hard evidence. Theists would rather plea bargain than go to the time and trouble otherwise demanded. Atheists, seems to me, must be patient. Quietly, patiently patient. The smoking gun (I rather like that as a metaphor) is there and we can smell it. As a parallel, think 1989 (right?) and the internal collapse of Communism (ironically, an atheistic movement). The rot that is infecting say, Roman Catholicism today, must soon bring the papacy to its senses. Maybe the next one will see fit to begin the gradual dismantling of that ism. Rambling over for now. I have chores to do.  Smile.  UT

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