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My reassesment of End of Faith
Posted: 24 May 2007 05:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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Extremely fair questions, Noggin. I suggest my edge is different from that of the suicide bombers, but it sounds lame to say that I would have to be personally provoked first.

I assume wanting to, even in it’s most minute interpretation, pound the believer into a bloody pulp does not include the desire to kill them.

Absolutely. I emphasize that when I have that violent urge, it’s followed almost immediately by a feeling of intense guilt. It feels like I don’t have the right to get angry. In fact, adrenaline rushes seem to make me physically ill.

During middle school, there were three incidents when I punched people who were laughing at me or giving me wedgies in the locker room. While I was almost certainly overreacting, each time I had a moment where it felt good to stand up for myself. However, that feeling was quickly replaced by guilt.

Here’s another one: during my first semester of college, my roommate and a couple of his friends came back to the room after I had gone to bed. When I woke up, I found that one of the friends was wearing my glasses and the others were laughing. So I walked up to him, grabbed my glasses back, grabbed him by the shirt and snarled, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Then the others started shouting, “Hey, hey, chill out, it was just a joke.” I said, “No, it wasn’t. You were trying to be mean.” One of the others rolled his eyes and said, “What are you doing in college? You should go back home until you learn about life.” After the friends left, my roommate said, “I can’t believe you did that. That one guy was ready to kill you.” The most shameful part of that is, it’s been 23 years and I still don’t know what the guy meant by “learn about life.” I do know that I have Aspeger’s syndrome and have difficulty reading social cues and understanding people’s behavior.

Twice when I was a teenager, my father dragged me to a room by my neck and choked me after I had been mouthy or defiant. Not long ago, I was doing some work in the house and, against my will, I was picturing myself sitting over my father with my hands around his neck, with me screaming “Stop it! Stop it!” (I wasn’t actually screaming, I was just imagining it.) The scene was so intense that when I heard my wife’s voice in the next room, for a second she sounded exactly like my mother.

Recounting these incidents fills me with sadness, because I cannot seem to earn the approval of others. It often feels like nothing I do can prevent people from disapproving of me or getting angry at me. I associate anger or upset in others with some nameless danger to myself.

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Posted: 24 May 2007 09:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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[quote author=“Carstonio”]Extremely fair questions, Noggin. I suggest my edge is different from that of the suicide bombers, but it sounds lame to say that I would have to be personally provoked first.

I assume wanting to, even in it’s most minute interpretation, pound the believer into a bloody pulp does not include the desire to kill them.

Absolutely. I emphasize that when I have that violent urge, it’s followed almost immediately by a feeling of intense guilt. It feels like I don’t have the right to get angry. In fact, adrenaline rushes seem to make me physically ill.

okay so, whew.  No killing fantasies.  Because if you wanted to kill, you would be inching closer to the horror found in the video clip provided today by Bryon (skepticX):

http://tinyurl.com/22e4qz

Settling injustice with one’s fists has a gratifying aspect to it.  I have done it.  Twice I regretted it.  The other two times I still look back and feel completely justified… and believe me I have analyzed those times from many many angles over and over.

No one has ever pummelled me like that and I don’t know if that is because I tend to be more than reasonable in my approach to others, or if it’s the fact that since I was 16 I was built pretty much like a linebacker.

During middle school, there were three incidents when I punched people who were laughing at me or giving me wedgies in the locker room. While I was almost certainly overreacting, each time I had a moment where it felt good to stand up for myself. However, that feeling was quickly replaced by guilt.

I am positive there is a mechanism trigger doing the guilt somewhere there.  Carstonio, you know that words and discussion work to settle locker room disputes only part of the time.  Some times you have to break a nose or knock out a tooth there.  Not post age 18 of course since the assault charges these days can land you in jail… but even now I can think of several instances where fists would do nicely to settle.  Self defense, right?

3 months ago I had a vaccuum salesman accost me at my front door.  He would not leave.  He was beligerant.  I finally had to push him off my doorstep.  He went ballistic and his screams that he planned to sue me rang out through the neighborhood.  Rather than engage this lunatic, I closed the door while my wife called the cops.  I departed quickly to sequester my Ruger P94 .40 caliber semiauto weapon and when I reappeared brandishing it, he decided to depart quickly. 

You would not have lost money had you bet that I would have pulled the trigger to defend myself or my family. I would have gladly removed that psycho from the gene pool.  As he huffed and puffed away from my property, I called out this fact to him much to his annoyance.

Here’s another one: during my first semester of college, my roommate and a couple of his friends came back to the room after I had gone to bed. When I woke up, I found that one of the friends was wearing my glasses and the others were laughing. So I walked up to him, grabbed my glasses back, grabbed him by the shirt and snarled, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Then the others started shouting, “Hey, hey, chill out, it was just a joke.” I said, “No, it wasn’t. You were trying to be mean.” One of the others rolled his eyes and said, “What are you doing in college? You should go back home until you learn about life.”

They might have been trying to play a joke on you, have a little fun, but they certainly did not appear to know you and were taking liberty with your possessions which was disrespectful, IMO.  They could have been laughing at how the person wearing the glasses looked.  There is license to read that as a slam towards people who wear glasses in general but the way I see it, that group clearly crossed boundaries without asking permission to do so and I would have been irked somewhat as well.  Especially if it was clear that they were laughing at an impersonation of myself.  If I did not know them and they were mocking me and I was sleeping and awoke to said mocking, I would have responded similarily.

Carstonio, I see nothing wrong with standing up for oneself that way.  Words may have worked, but then again grabbing someone’s shirt has such an expressive way of communicating

how do you like it, punk
:D

After the friends left, my roommate said, “I can’t believe you did that. That one guy was ready to kill you.” The most shameful part of that is, it’s been 23 years and I still don’t know what the guy meant by “learn about life.”

eh, whatever, it was just his way of saying something catchy and explanatory to disprove of your shirt grabbing.  He’s the one defending his friend so of course he had to come up with something to say to you, right?

You could have explained how he would have felt had he woke up to a group of males laughing at another male wearing one of his shirts… and how would he react to that.

I do know that I have Aspeger’s syndrome and have difficulty reading social cues and understanding people’s behavior.

Could play a big factor, but knowing that should lessen the guilt you feel for standing up for yourself.  If you were a bully that is one thing inexcusable, if you were out trying to pick fights that is another.  But man, defending yourself should never have any guilt associated with it.

Twice when I was a teenager, my father dragged me to a room by my neck and choked me after I had been mouthy or defiant. Not long ago, I was doing some work in the house and, against my will, I was picturing myself sitting over my father with my hands around his neck, with me screaming “Stop it! Stop it!” (I wasn’t actually screaming, I was just imagining it.) The scene was so intense that when I heard my wife’s voice in the next room, for a second she sounded exactly like my mother.

Do you feel this could be part of a trigger that plays into your scenes described above or am I overanalyzing this.

Recounting these incidents fills me with sadness, because I cannot seem to earn the approval of others. It often feels like nothing I do can prevent people from disapproving of me or getting angry at me.

I used to seek the approval from others all the frigging time.  I still do it but not as often.  I grew up in an emotionally vapid environment where I never knew what my parents thought about me.  I was a very decent kid growing up.  Not to snivel the old cliche of “my daddy never hugged me” but it is true.  I now know that the lack of an emotional connection fueled my intense need for a connection with my “Heavenly Father” and played an extremely huge part of why I became such a fanatical religious fundy for all those years.  That connection never satisfied either, I was left holding the bag countless times with god.  I needed X and god was suspiciously vacant basically every time.  Oh well, I got over it and my atheism bloomed/ is blooming.


Carstonio, you are in your early 40’s?  I suggest it would be money well spent to talk to someone about this professionally.  Life is too short and a few (like 300- 400) hundred bucks just might help free you up from this dead weight for the next few decades???  How can you put a price on that.

I had to about a year ago finally and it was the best thing I ever did with this problem.  Don’t laugh, but he is an online therapist with reasonable fees.  If you want I can give you his email address.  I had three sessions with him and to hear what is considered textbook status quo out in the real world blew the doors in my mind off of their hinges.  I could not find a qualified agnostic mental health counselor anywhere local and so one day, in desperation to talk to someone who understood my world view somewhat, I did an extensive online search and found this guy.

Take care!

Noggin

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Posted: 24 May 2007 10:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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Not to turn this thread into the Toxic Family Avengers, but I’ll answer some of your points:

[quote author=“Noggin”]  If I did not know them and they were mocking me and I was sleeping and awoke to said mocking, I would have responded similarily.

That’s good to hear, because for a long time I felt like an ass about the incident.

[quote author=“Noggin”] He’s the one defending his friend so of course he had to come up with something to say to you, right?

At the end of the semester, he upbraided me for not leaving the room to socialize on nights and weekends. Why should he have cared if I was too scared of people to socialize? I was scared enough simply living in an all-male dorm - for years I had experienced homophobia from male acquaintances and strangers, and I have never been gay.

Do you feel this could be part of a trigger that plays into your scenes described above?

Absolutely. That’s why I mentioned it.

I grew up in an emotionally vapid environment where I never knew what my parents thought about me.  I was a very decent kid growing up.  Not to snivel the old cliche of “my daddy never hugged me” but it is true.  I now know that the lack of an emotional connection fueled my intense need for a connection with my “Heavenly Father” and played an extremely huge part of why I became such a fanatical religious fundy for all those years.

My upbringing was the opposite when it came to religion. My parents took us to Lutheran Sunday school for a couple of years, but never tried to push religion on us. But they were hypercritical - extremely high expectations of me, like nothing I did was good enough for them. They had a habit of defining me, saying things like “You are” or “You should” or “You’ve always” like they thought they knew what was in my head. They struggled to teach me social skills, even sending me to a childhood counselor for three years. (This was 20 years before mental health experts knew about Asperger’s.) They controlled my adult life well into my 20s. Later they gave my wife and I a hell of a time in passive-aggressive ways.

Over time I’ve realized that they went though similar issues growing up. My father’s mother was controlling and his father was alcoholic. My mother’s father was a misogynist straight out of a Pat Conroy novel.

I suggest it would be money well spent to talk to someone about this professionally.  Life is too short and a few (like 300- 400) hundred bucks just might help free you up from this dead weight for the next few decades???  How can you put a price on that.

I’ve been to two therapists in the past 10 years, and neither one seemed to help.

[ Edited: 24 May 2007 02:58 PM by ]
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Posted: 24 May 2007 11:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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what a moron I am for assuming you hadn’t already talked to someone about this professionally.

Noggin

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Posted: 24 May 2007 02:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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[quote author=“Noggin”]what a moron I am for assuming you hadn’t already talked to someone about this professionally.

Noggin

Don’t be so tough on yourself, Noggin. Carstonio’s descriptions, for me at least, don’t wave a red flag of disability. If anything, Asperger’s is a “disorder” of rationality. That is, the rest of us are the crazy ones, in my opinion. Maybe I fall somewhere on the spectrum myself. (I can hope.)

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
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Posted: 25 May 2007 03:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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If anything, Carsantonio and Noggin both are more real and normal than 90% of the yahoos on this site. 

Be careful that labels and your past aren’t being used to define you fine gentleman.

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Posted: 25 May 2007 07:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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[quote author=“AJY”] a rational person can believe in God

[quote author=“AJY”] make deductions from the available facts and come to believe in God

[quote author=“AJY”] believe in God while still being a rational person

From American Heritage Dictionary;

rational: Consistent with or based on reason; logical

belief: Something believed; an opinion or conviction

Beliefs are inherently by definition opinions and convictions which cannot be proved empirically.

To be rational means to be consistent with reason.

Science provides reasonable proofs sustainable by empirical evidence pertaining to evolution as being the means by which humanity has developed from unicellular organisms to our present form. This is accepted because there has been no overwhelming evidence to disprove this theory.

Religions - be it one of the thousands that humanity has created for itself over the past 10,000 years, have offered nothing more than fairy-tales and fables as explanation for the origins of life. Furthermore, even considering science and religion as competing cosmological thoeries, there is nothing that religion can offer outside of a set of wives tales that can so much as even offer a trace of evidence as justification of it’s veracity.

A rational person, in light of the evidence supplanted by science compared to that provided by all religions, cannot possibly arrive at a logical and reasonable conclusion to the superstitious outdated fable of a supreme creator. There is no scientific evidence to support it. So, if this is that case, meaning that there is no reasonable argument, as in science, to support the theory of a supreme creator, then how can you possibly arrive at the conclusion that it is rational to believe it to be so?

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Posted: 29 May 2007 06:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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[quote author=“Noggin”]
Don’t laugh, but he is an online therapist with reasonable fees.  If you want I can give you his email address.

I’m curious.  Now that I’m unable to drive or sit, I have been wondering if I could find a therapist who would come to my house… But maybe online therapy would work. 

Does he work by email or phone or what?

I can’t imagine typing for an hour, even a therapeutic one (which is what, 45 minutes now?) though…

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Posted: 29 May 2007 07:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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[quote author=“Chad Scoville”]
A rational person, in light of the evidence supplanted by science compared to that provided by all religions, cannot possibly arrive at a logical and reasonable conclusion to the superstitious outdated fable of a supreme creator. There is no scientific evidence to support it. So, if this is that case, meaning that there is no reasonable argument, as in science, to support the theory of a supreme creator, then how can you possibly arrive at the conclusion that it is rational to believe it to be so?

This is only the case if a person accepts science, as it is today, as the ultimate arbiter of what is true about the world.  But there are vast areas of human experience that are not accessible to present day science and a rational person might well decide to suspend judgment about claims made in these areas.

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Posted: 29 May 2007 07:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”]This is only the case if a person accepts science, as it is today, as the ultimate arbiter of what is true about the world.  But there are vast areas of human experience that are not accessible to present day science and a rational person might well decide to suspend judgment about claims made in these areas.

Just because something cannot be explained by current science doesn’t mean that it has a supernatural cause. “Suspending judgment” allows the religious doctrines to get away with making all sorts of unsupportable claims about supernatural causes. The burden of proof is on the doctrines to prove themselves true, not on naturalism to prove those doctrines false.

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Posted: 29 May 2007 09:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”]a rational person might well decide to suspend judgment about claims made in these areas.

A rational person can decide for himself what amounts of energy he wishes to expend passing or suspending judgements on, or investigating certain speculations about the immaterial.

The energy that I do not expend on exploring such crap is then available to challenge people who do believe it, in order to ask them to examine their beliefs by comparing them with the evidence.

What you find is that people insist on believing and believing and believing without evidence. People love magic tricks because, even though they know the world never behaves magically, they simply wish to feel as if magic is possible, if only just for a minute.

Just because something cannot be explained by current science doesn’t mean that it has a supernatural cause.

There is no “something” that is “failing to be explained”. There are only non-scientific speculations about “consciousness” that are failing to be debunked.

Mythology is simply making itself more convoluted in order to evade being debunked by science. That one may debunk mythology has not surprised anyone for centuries. Debunking mythology is no longer the main interest of science.

[quote author=“burt”]As far as supernatural entities go, no evidence will satisfy your standards (empirical, repeatable) but that doesn’t mean that the claims are false, only that the person making them is using different standards of evidence. That takes it outside the realm of science, but not possibility. As an example outside the realm of supernatural claims, what sort of empirical evidence would you provide to support the claim that, say, Mozart was a great composer? Or, that Hamlet was the greatest work of English literature. In each case you would find lots of people in agreement (and some in disagreement), but no empirical evidence.

If you rely on believing something possible simply because there is no evidence against it, you are indeed in the realm of religion. People burn each other at the stake over such nonsense.

Now you descend to the level of conflating aesthetic and ontologic judgements. You really are losing it, burt. You’re in the same nutbowl as frankr, now. Let there be no misunderstanding:  I am happy to allow spirituality to be a matter of aesthetics.

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Posted: 29 May 2007 10:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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[quote author=“Carstonio”][quote author=“burt”]This is only the case if a person accepts science, as it is today, as the ultimate arbiter of what is true about the world.  But there are vast areas of human experience that are not accessible to present day science and a rational person might well decide to suspend judgment about claims made in these areas.

Just because something cannot be explained by current science doesn’t mean that it has a supernatural cause. “Suspending judgment” allows the religious doctrines to get away with making all sorts of unsupportable claims about supernatural causes. The burden of proof is on the doctrines to prove themselves true, not on naturalism to prove those doctrines false.

Agreed about the burden of proof, but we are talking about what a rational person might do.  Suspension of judgment means neither acceptance nor rejection.  Lack of a scientific explaination, or the inability of current science to even address an issue certainly doesn’t mean that there has to be anything supernatural, but it leaves the door open for a rational person to decide whether or not to believe, or suspend judgment, on the basis of things like intuition, what feels right, etc.  If a person chooses to believe, and trys to convince me, on the other hand, they had better have something more in support.

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Posted: 29 May 2007 02:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
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I’m detecting some progress lately on the topic of the supernatural, if slight. Sorry if I sound overbearing in my own confidence, but I’m doing my best to understand things myself, and my writing style at times just works that way. Burt, you’re still arguing in favor of open-mindedness toward concepts such as the supernatural, but your opinions seem toned down somewhat.

I suggest that such word-concepts as “supernatural” tend to be catch-all terms for mysterious feelings and ideas that scientific methods seem far removed from being able to approach. I would also suggest that such terms resemble the concept of Intelligent Design, in the sense that whatever is unknown—and appears to be unknowable in current systems of terminology—gets shunted into historically respected though mistaken slots of misinformation.

Why is there even such a term as “supernatural,” Burt? Care to take a stab at this question?

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Posted: 29 May 2007 05:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]  
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[quote author=“homunculus”]I’m detecting some progress lately on the topic of the supernatural, if slight. Sorry if I sound overbearing in my own confidence, but I’m doing my best to understand things myself, and my writing style at times just works that way. Burt, you’re still arguing in favor of open-mindedness toward concepts such as the supernatural, but your opinions seem toned down somewhat.

I suggest that such word-concepts as “supernatural” tend to be catch-all terms for mysterious feelings and ideas that scientific methods seem far removed from being able to approach. I would also suggest that such terms resemble the concept of Intelligent Design, in the sense that whatever is unknown—and appears to be unknowable in current systems of terminology—gets shunted into historically respected though mistaken slots of misinformation.

Why is there even such a term as “supernatural,” Burt? Care to take a stab at this question?

Well, for me the term “supernatural” is pretty vacuous in one sense since I think that even if there are disembodied entities, spirits, and so on they are still a part of nature.  On the other hand, I wouldn’t dispute with somebody who claimed that mind was “supernatural” since it was not material (so, implicitly identifying nature with the material world).  I was once (1983) part of a team presenting a meditation training on Vancouver Island and the slogan in our broucher was something like “wake up in supernatural British Columbia.”  I don’t like the idea of using supernatural as a catch all, although you are certainly right that that is how it is often used.  Back in my salad days I carried on a dispute with a student of a Persian mystic via the column of the Tehran Journal, the local English language newspaper.  He was of the opinion that science had ruined the world and what was required was a return to traditional values.  I defended science.  The distinction I made, which I still think has some validity, was that mysticism was the search for the “knowledge that passes understanding,” while science was the search for a language of sufficient power to express this knowledge.  A later image I like is in the question: Are we Achilles, forever chasing the tortoise of the unknown, or are we the tortoise with formal reason close at our heels?  The criteria I have for any mystical claims are a) can it be expressed in language sufficiently clear that I can get what is being asserted (i.e., no “Oh, it was just so wonderful, beyond words”); and b) can I be taught to experience the claim as true without brainwashing, hypnosis or conditioning?

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Posted: 29 May 2007 05:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]  
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Thanks, Burt. I’m still planning to deeply quote Jaynes here before too many years pass, and hope you’ll still be around to correct his words. He’s obviously off-base in many ways that cognitive science now understands, but I remain a devotee of some of his insights, and I’m hoping you’ll help me sort out the nonsense from the rest.

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