[POEM] Maria

maria_by_aufzehengehen-d8esxf0

Maria by aufzehengehen on deviantArt.

You are daybreak,

the placid beams of golds and ambers,

piercing the trees, bringing life to the earth.

Shades of rose, of caramel and milk

give way to a subtle hint, the crystal blue reality.

You are daybreak;

eyes show the pining soul of a waking world,

so ready to greet this warm glance,

the heat that is the spark of heartbeats.

You are daybreak.

Ave Maria. Ave Oriens.

Time to Talk Abortion, Kids!

*insert sarcasm above, but just a little*

*insert sarcasm above, but just a little*

Yes everyone, I’m going to get controversial again. And yes, this is inspired by a lovely thread I got involved with on one of the news sites I follow. The beginning of the thread went like this:

Don’t support abortion? Don’t have one. Don’t support gay marriage? Don’t send a wedding gift to your gay friends.

The ensuing outcry was immense against this person. Arguments such as, “Don’t forget rape, extortion, armed robbery and assault, to name a few. If you don’t like them, don’t do them!” and the like were rolling like stones over the original poster. I couldn’t help but include my two cents, and got me into a couple conversations, some very informed, kind, and respectful, and some not so much. I’d like to share my views from this thread and see what everyone else thinks.
Continue reading

My Life’s Playlist: Remember the Name

This is an installment of my series, My Life’s Playlist.

Today’s feature is Remember the Name, by Fort Minor.

If you’re not familiar with Avatar: The Last Airbender, just ignore the actual video and enjoy the music. Although I don’t know many other works by Fort Minor, this song evokes a passion I can’t shake. It’s easy to understand why Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda and the underground band Styles of Beyond came together and worked so well. There’s not much more to say. The soul and raw strength in this song are pure poetry in rap. This is what rap was always meant to be, something that sticks with you, and I can’t get enough.

A Discussion with an Atheist: Another Eye-Opening Experience (Why I Enjoy These Conversations)

Well, I got schooled. I seriously did, and I’m really happy that I was.

I got into a VERY long conversation between quite a few people on yet another Yahoo thread. Although it was a difficult conversation, filled with some angry language, tempers, and breaches in understanding, I do feel, for me, this conversation was greatly worth the challenge. I don’t know about my discussion partner, an adamant atheist who goes by the screen name of Ashman, but I hope it wasn’t a complete waste and loss to him. He did not change my personal way of thinking, at least not much, but he did open my eyes to a lot of atheist perspectives which I had not considered.

I’m afraid I’m going to have to start the conversation where Ashman and I started going at each other. There is a LOT more to this whole thread, but it’s very long. If you’re really that interested, you can go here (Our conversation is the third one down, OP is Mary). So without further ado, an enjoyable conversation.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ashman: Rana,

So you believe in god, but not one affiliated with religion. I can only assume that you are a deist at this point then (because you haven’t explicitly told me about this god of yours) – that must mean you believe that a supreme being created the universe but that’s where “his” magnificence ends. He doesn’t take a hand in human affairs, he doesn’t have a special place for people to go to when they die, etc. So at bare minimum we can say that if this god exists that he is one, or some, or all of the following: Incompetent, bungling, capricious, indifferent, callous and incredibly cruel. Apparently he/she/it can only create 1 planet that is capable of supporting life (on some of it’s surface some of the time) and it’s on a climatic knife edge – or as some poeple are so fond of saying “fine tuned”. Apparently he can only “fine tune” 1 planet amoung the 400+ that we already know about, to support life. And in so doing fills the earth with countless numbers of different species, of which, 99.8% are now EXTINCT – never to be heard from again. He watches them (or doesn’t watch them or doesn’t care) as some evolve and others don’t – and struggle, fail to adapt and lets the whole lot of them die off – and repeats the pattern ad infinitum. In the meantime, the swirling chaos of the rest of the universe continues as its pulling itself apart with planets and galaxies and suns and stars blowing up and disappearing – also never to be seen or heard from again.
So you believe that a god is responsible for all of this – and you have NO EVIDENCE to support your beliefs WHATSOEVER.
Please, can tell me how ridiculous I am that I don’t believe in bulls*&t like that?

Me: @Ashman – “I don’t believe that god is okay with a person throwing away their gift of life for the sake of their belief in god; I would think that it would sadden god as much as a parent would be sad if their child taking a bullet for them. The parent would think that their child had their whole life ahead, and the parent is getting old, already had the chances their child didn’t get to experience yet. The pain and sadness a parent would feel for that child would be excruciating. I believe this is how god sees us, as its children, all-loving of us no matter our faults, and for us to give up our lives for god, the omnipotent being of all, I don’t think is fair. ”

The concept of god as a loving parent, unconditional and nonjudgmental, I apply to all of us in all walks of life. To me, we’re here to learn, like a parent sending their kids to college. The parents gave the kids guidelines to help them live happy lives and not make themselves miserable. Will the kids follow all those guidelines? Of course not. It is the nature of humans to bend the rules. Sometimes people like making themselves miserable. A good parent will try to help as much as they can, but does not judge or try to oppress the child, even when it is for their own good. The good parent lets the child fall down and learn from their mistakes. To me, all of us here are just college kids. We’re falling and learning to pick ourselves up. When we die, we take our lessons with us and god gives us direct guidance on what we did right and wrong. It’s not that god doesn’t care, it’s not that it likes to see us suffer, but it respects us as our own entities to live on our own for a while. That’s just my spin on things, and from my experience in my own mind and heart, I believe my view is right. That doesn’t mean it’s fact, and I don’t expect anyone else to believe it. It reinforces my want to be a good person in my own right. I try to be a good person for my own benefit and the benefit of those around me, and the idea that there is some entity that made me, and it respects me enough to let me fall and learn on my own strength makes me stronger. I don’t depend on god, and I don’t beg god for things because, to me, this life is not god’s place to intervene in my existence.

And I don’t think it’s ridiculous that you don’t believe. More power to you for standing your own two feet purely out of will. I commend you for that. I have no problem with it. Most of the time I get along better with those who don’t believe in god. My issue with you is your disrespect of those who don’t believe as you do, aka who don’t believe at all. You believe god does not exist, and that’s fine. But to insult and degrade those who do believe merely because they do is just as bad as a religious person degrading and insulting you for NOT believing. It goes both ways. You don’t think Reesy respects your lack of belief, and yet you, in turn, disrespect him for believing. This is where I have a problem with both of you. I admit, I insult religion, but I insult the system itself and those who are disrespectful of others in the name of that system. I don’t insult the individual for believing (at least I try my best not to).

Ashman: Rana,

After reading this statement from you “My issue with you is your disrespect of those who don’t believe as you do, aka who don’t believe at all”, I’ve come to the realization that everything I have said to date, I’ve said in vain. It’s gone in one ear and right out the other without any processing. Maybe this will clarifiy it (but I sincerely doubt it): I DON”T BELIEVE IN ANYTHING. I REJECT YOUR AND EVERY OTHER PERSON’S CONCEPT OF A GOD. Your first two paragraphs are well written pieces of WHITE NOISE and RELIGIOUS BABBLE. There is no proof that the god that you describe and believe in, or ANY god that ANY person that’s every lived has descibed or believed in, ACTUALLY exists. It’s all based on wish thinking, fear, non-sense, superstition and complete bulls*#$%$ NOT A BELIEF WORTHY OF RESPECT.
So to sum up, I repsect anyone’s right to believe in anything they want. I DO NOT and WILL NOT respect the belief itself. I DON’T CARE if their feelings get hurt. I really don#$%$ not a card that can be played with me. “Oh you can’t criticise my religion and my irrational, unfounded, non-sensical beliefs because it will make me cry!! Whaaa!” Grow the *&^% up. Try not believing in idiotic bulls*&t and maybe your feelings won’t get hurt so much. You think I’m going to respect a m0r0n that thinks that monkeys evolved into humans? Give me a *&^%ing break. I’ll call a spade a spade every time.

Me: @Ashman – I’m not really concerned about whether you care about my beliefs or not. You are, however, in a grave amount of denial here. You have called me, Reesy, and all other ‘believers’ on this thread idiots, morons, and a number of curse words because of what they believe. Now how is that being respectful of their right to believe it? You have openly and directly attacked the individuals who express belief on this thread as well as attacked their beliefs. If you don’t like the belief and think it’s stupid, attack the belief, not the person. I don’t care if you want to criticize my belief, because I admit, it is a BELIEF, not a fact. I know that. You don’t have to emphasize the obvious. If you can’t respect a religious belief, then why respect any belief at all? Attack the concept of belief itself, don’t suggest that you can’t respect religious belief. Can you respect the belief in life beyond this planet, in human’s further evolution, in the possibility of another inhabitable planet? These beliefs have slight scientific grounding, I’ll give you that, but they are not theories; there is no physical scientific proof to support these ideas yet, and if there are, they are very inconclusive. So is the concept of belief completely off the table for you? No. So you shouldn’t have a problem with the concept of belief itself. Again, you don’t have to respect the belief itself, as you’ve said, but if you’re going to say you respect a person’s right to believe something that you don’t, than you should also respect the person no matter their belief. You don’t have to like the person, but insulting them because they believe is the same as insulting the person’s right to believe. Don’t insult the person for the belief, insult the belief itself and agree to disagree.

Ashman: (an aside to another member of the thread) Michael,

” How can you complain about the bad things religion has caused, and then use your belief structure to belittle others and be completely closed minded and intolerant. You have this idea that only Atheists are intelligent and only they know the truth.”
More proof that everything I’ve said to you (as with Rana) has been completely in vain. I’ve just finished posting on here the exact definition of atheism – that it’s the rejection of a belief system and IS NOT a belief system unto itself – but all that’s completely lost on you. So your answer is no, you haven’t done any scientific exploration, all you’ve really said is that you read the bible, the torah and the koran and somehow came to the conclusion that there really is a god – specifically a christian one. How you came to that conclusion after reading all 3 of those books is beyond me. (and P.s I’m reading the bible now and the koran is up next)
And la piece de resistance – the last sentence in your post “That is the mindset that leads religions to commit those atrocities you site.” You’ve come to the conclusion that atheism is what makes a lunatic in Pakistan strap a bomb on himself and walk into an internet cafe in Pakistan and blow himself up along with 27 other people. In other words, its not the hateful, wicked doctrine of Islam preached to gullible fools by wicked people that does this, it’s MY (the atheists) fault. Conversation over #$%$ GO *&^% YOURSELF.

Me: @Ashman – You bring up very fair points in your response to Michael. I think the issue is that there are two categories of atheist, and no one is willing to separate the two. There are atheists who live by your definition, and correct definition, that they simply live their lives with no concept of god and live by their own will; they do not hold to a religious belief system, and find the concept of those belief systems and the beliefs therein to be false. Completely understandable. Those kind of atheists are the kind people who are kind just because they want to be, because it’s the right thing to do. I love those people. There is, however, a second category, which unknowingly negate their own title. These are the people who make it their passion to believe that there is no god. They go out of their way to disprove god, usually for personal reasons which they put into the context of, “If there is a god, then why *insert reason here.* ” Religious people make these kind of atheists even angrier by saying they merely hate god, that this person is so bitter toward god that they don’t want god to exist. I find this argument not only rude by stupid. My point is, there are atheists who, in their own way, actually do hold to a belief system, the belief that there is no god. It is not an organized group like a religion is, but in a way it is a belief system, no matter how much a person in this category would deny it. I don’t really see why that’s a problem for people like this, but granted I don’t know each individual’s specific reasonings.

The big thing is that there are bad people in all walks of life; there are bad atheists, there are bad religious people, there are bad agnostics. There are also good people in all of those categories. Generalizing our feelings toward a few select extremists in those categories on the whole category itself doesn’t solve anything, you know?

Ashman: RanaSimon,

I’ve tried to be as patient with you as I possibly can but I am afraid that patience has come to an end. Atheism is not and never will be a belief system. I have explained what it is in previous posts. There may well be people who believe that god does not exist, but they are not atheists.
As for good/bad/atheists and good/bad religious people, yes – you are 100% correct. There’s one gigantic difference between the 2. There’s no dogma and doctrine and faith involved in atheism. Religious non-sense is inculcated into children practically from birth and poisons people’s minds right from the get-go. Atheists are not going to strap a bomb on themselves and blow themselves up along with as many infidels as they can because they believe they are going to get eternal paradise as a reward. Only religion can make people do that.
Anyways, I know I’m wasting my breath telling you this because it will go in one ear and out the other. You haven’t understood anything and/or have willfully dismissed (or ignored) everything I’ve said to date in defence of your precious god. I don’t expect this to be any different.

Me: @Ashman – I don’t think you have me right, Ash. I actually DO agree with most of what you have to say, I just don’t implement the it the same way. I’m not going to argue with you about the belief system thing, we just have different views on it and that’s that. I will, however, disagree on your idea that religion is the only thing that inspires extremist hatred and self-destruction. Patriotism does the same thing, and so does atheism, just in a different way. I knew a man a few years ago, great guy, always helping out others, and he was an adamant atheist. He refuted god, and had good personal reason to do so. I never saw him any different than any other person, but some put him down for how he behaved when religion came into conversation. Unrelated to that, he fell on bad times, bad relationships, loss of his parents, his job, etc. Just a bunch of bad luck all at once, and for a while he took it in stride, that it was just the way things fell. But eventually it piled up and became too much. The happiness he saw in religious people around him, swept up in a fantastical lie, while he, a logical good person was miserable and falling apart, drove him over the edge. He disappeared from town, and a year later he went on a shooting spree in a church in another state and killed himself. Keep in mind I am not saying there is anything or anyone to blame in this case, but just like religious people use their beliefs to commit horrible acts, so this man was so obsessed with his atheism that it drove him to kill those who weren’t. This is why I say I don’t generalize. There are always exceptions to the rule. I do not deny in any way that religious nuts are dangerous and that religion is the real root of most evil in the world, but it’s not just religious people, it’s not just for religious means. It is simply the nature of man.

Ashman: RanaSimon,
It has become very apparent to me that your understanding of logic is tragically flawed. Somehow in your mind, this aqaintance of yours became obsessed with not believing in god, therefore he went on a killing spree as a result of that disbelief. I have no idea how you got there. I just finished explaining how the doctine and dogma of religion INSTRUCTS people to kill other people and that atheism is the rejection of that doctrine and dogma. Are you saying that if he were religious, and believed in fairy tale non-sense, he wouldn’t have perpetrated this horrific act?!?!? It has to be – because if atheism led to that, then theism would have prevented it. I have a much better explanation. He was a lunatic. The real problem is the toxic mix of religion and lunacy – it is a tremendous force multipler. People who might not have thought to something terrible are told and/or read in their holy books that people who don’t believe as they do need to be wiped out – and then act on that holy instruction. If you could bring yourself to admit that and understand this basic concept, then I will have considered our conversation worthwhile – but it appears that you partially do understand that: “I do not deny in any way that religious nuts are dangerous and that religion is the real root of most evil in the world, but it’s not just religious people…” This perplexes me on so many levels. If you believe that religion is the root cause of most evil, then I don’t understand how you can be asking me to grant respect to people who are religious. Its absolutely bizare that you’d say such a thing. You appear to have concocted a god of your very own that is almost exactly like every other religious persons concept of a god, yet you claim yours isn’t based on a religious concept of god. Where’d you get your concept of god from? It just suddenly came to you one day out of thin air? I think not!

Rana,

And something I had meant to correct you earlier on – this statement: “Can you respect the belief in life beyond this planet, in human’s further evolution, in the possibility of another inhabitable planet?” You are confusing belief with probability. If you are asking me if I repect someone who believes in aliens, the answer is no. If you are asking me to consider the possibility that there may be aliens out there, then the answer is yes, its possible. Why don’t I believe that there actually are aliens or repect people who do? Because I have never been presented with any credible EVIDENCE that aliens ACTUALLY exist.
I don’t have to “believe” in human’s further evolution – it’s already been conclusively demonstated to me that evolution is how we ended up on this planet. Do I think its possible that we could build space ships and find ourselves another planet to live on? Sure, anything is possible. Notice how there isn’t any supernatural or superstitious belief involved in any of those possibilities.
So to be perfectly clear I believe that its POSSBILE that aliens exist but at this moment in time, I don’t believe that aliens ACTUALLY exist. I can say exactly the same thing for the existence of any deity as well. It’s POSSBILE that one exists (although extremely unlikely) but I don’t believe that one ACTUALLY exists. As I mentioned earlier, if such a deity exists he/she/it is at a bare minimum callous, cold, uncaring, capricious, heartless, bungling, inept and incompetent.

Me: @Ashman – If you had known the man you would understand what I’m saying about him. There’s no way, I suppose, to help you understand his reaction to his life any more than I have already said. And I certainly do not say it as if he wouldn’t have done what he did if he had been religious. I’m saying he reacted just as a religious person would, but he did it against religion instead of for it. I also agree, he became mentally unstable in that time in his life, and that certainly did contribute. However, if he had been religious he still would have reacted the same, just against the religion he was part of instead of against the religion which he denied.

In regard to you perplexion of my statement, I guess I haven’t explained my view on religion properly. Religion is the socially accepted collection of people who have similar beliefs in terms of a higher power. This is why I say atheists are, in their own way, religious, as they have a collective non-belief in god, they just don’t come together in group meetings about it like Christians go to mass.

I do not associate personally with a collection like this. I do not have religion, but that does not mean I do have belief and faith. I don’t think I ever said my concept had no base in religion; on the contrary, I accept that my concept of god is very largely based in religion, as I was (sadly) born and raised in the Catholic Church. I do, however, take into account in my concept other religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, etc., and I also try to incorporate a sense of logic against the illogical in a way that makes sense to me. I know it seems silly, and I don’t blame anyone for finding it silly, I just hope that people respect my right to be silly. I’ll respect anyone’s right to be a fool, so long as their foolishness doesn’t cause harm to others, and I put this respect toward the individual and their personal actions. I try as best as I can to not judge a person based on a generalization of who or what they are affiliated with, religion, country, race, etc. included. The way I live has nothing to do with my personal concept of god. I choose to be this way of my own mind, heart, and will. Just because I have a personal concept of god does not mean that I live my life according to that concept.

Ashman: Rana,

There are occasions where you appear to grasp some of what I’m saying but fail to in others. The second paragraph in your last statement (about the concept of religion) is completely out to lunch I am afraid to say. You completely refute your own point all within one paragraph! You start off by saying that religion is a collection of people who have similar beliefs in a higher power and then call atheists sort of religious! How can that be? Atheists DON’T have a belief in a higher power! I’ve explained this several times already. Atheists have meetings and gatherings all the time! The difference between religious people and atheists is not that one group goes to meetings and the other one doesn’t! The difference is that religious people believe in a supernatural entity and atheists don’t! You’re trying to say that religious people have a similar belief system and atheists have a similar non-belief system so they’re essentially the same! That is completely ridiculous! As I mentioned several times before, religious people hold unfounded beliefs (something that you have readily admitted) that are based on nothing more than wish thinking, servility, fear and ignorance. Atheists choose the default position of NOT believing in that non-sense. Atheists choose evidence over unfounded beliefs and unsubstantiated claims – as they do in every other endeavor of their life. That’s ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD between religious people and atheists. This is the part that I really, really, really need you to understand.
Thank you for understanding that atheism does not make people go on killing sprees.

Me: @Ashman – I understand your points, I honestly do. I make the similarity comparison that I do because of the experiences I have had with religious people versus atheists. Those atheists I have known and associated with fit into the description I have given. I haven’t experienced it all, and I think your points are valid for the experience you have had in your life. I honestly didn’t know that atheists actually had meetings or anything, again those that I know personally just live their lives quietly and don’t make their atheism an issue with others in general.

I know my perspective on religion is odd. What I’m trying to say is that, again, the atheists I know (and trust me, they argue this with me all the time as well XD) BELIEVE that there is no god. They have a belief, it’s just a belief in the negation of god in the universe. They have their personal evidence to prove that god does not exist, just like religious people have their bibles and miracles and all that bunk. Having this view allows me to put all people on the same plain, and so, in my mind, I can treat them all the same until they prove themselves to be better or worse people than I would have originally expected. I understand why it bothers you, and I understand my view is skewed because of my personal experience. I just can’t really think in any other way and be confident that I can treat any person I meet equally to any other unless I stick to how I see things now.

Ashman: Rana,

That’s all well and good that “…the atheists I know (and trust me, they argue this with me all the time as well XD) BELIEVE that there is no god. They have a belief, it’s just a belief in the negation of god in the universe…” As I have said over and over and over, unfortunately to no avail – THOSE PEOPLE ARE NOT ATHEISTS. People who say they have proof that god does not exist are even more ridiculous than the people that claim they have evidence that a god does exist. They have exactly the same amount of evidence to support their claim (that god does not exist) that theists have to support their claim (that god does exist) – ZERO. For starters it’s ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE to prove that something DOES NOT exist. If I met someone like that, I’d probably ridicule them even more than I ridicule theists. What the hell is “personal evidence”??!?!?! I’d love to see some of this “personal evidence” from some of the so-called atheists that you argue with. What an amazingly, profoundly, mind-blowingly absurd concept! I can’t even picture that in my mind. “Here you go sir – here’s my proof that god doesn’t exist!” “Wow! That’s absolutely amazing! You have conclusively demonstrated to me that god does not exist!”
You have got to be s*&^ing me right now.

Me: @Ashman – Then what are they? According to the dictionary, an atheist is, “a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.” (Merriam Webster Dictionary) I completely agree there is no way to disprove that something exists. Again, I’m not agreeing with them, I am telling you my experiences and their views. Also according to the dictionary, I slightly fall under the category of agnostic, aka, “a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god” (again, Merriam Webster) I do believe there is a higher power, but I do not deny the possibility that there is not, and I also do not deny that my view of god could be wrong.

Now which one of these definitions do you consider yourself? Because it seems to me, all the people I talked about ARE atheists by definition, while you are in between atheist and agnostic. You say that you don’t believe in aliens, but you understand the probability of their existence. There is a probability, however slight, that there is a higher power which created the world. You don’t believe there is one, that’s fine, but do you deny the probability just because you think the idea is preposterous? If you do deny it, you are agnostic. If you don’t deny it, you’re atheist. I apologize, because I know you left your definition of atheist somewhere in this thread, but I can’t find it and I can’t remember it verbatim. At this point, though, I can’t figure out what it is, because it seems you keep bouncing between agnostic and atheist, unless I am seriously misinterpreting.

Ashman: Rana,

I am afraid you are misinterpreting. I’ve been quite consistent with the definition of atheism throughout our discussion. You’ve even found your own excellent definition of it – someone who DENIES or DISBELIEVES the existence of a supreme being. Note that it is NOT someone who ASSERTS or BELIEVES in the NON-existence of a supreme being. There’s all the difference in the world between those 2 statements. Read that over a few times and let it sink in. There’s no belief required in atheism whatsoever. Its the rejection of belief – specifically in the existence of a supreme being. Please, please, please don’t make me repeat any of this again.
What would I call people who tell you that they have proof that god doesn’t exist? Crack-pots. That’s what I’d call them. What evidence could someone show me that proves that god doesn’t exist? It’s absolutely absurd!
Gnosticism/Agnosticism and Theism/Atheism are 2 completely different things. The former is a knowledge claim. The latter is a belief claim. To be agnostic is to hold the view that it’s not possible to know whether a god really exists or not. I don’t deny that it’s entirely possible that a god exists. However as I have said several times already, IF this god exists, he is most definitely callous, heartless, indifferent, incompetent, bungling, and so on. For all I know, the Flying Spaghetti Monster really exists too. I just refuse to spend one second of my life pondering such a ridiculous question.
Don’t you think you are wasting a gigantic amount of time and energy believing in something that you readily admit you could be completely wrong about, or even worse, might not even exist at all? Why would you do such a thing? Why not learn about something useful like science or cosmology or art or literature or music? What is the point in believing in crackpot nonsense that you can’t even know is true?

Me: @Ashman – I am sorry you had to repeat yourself. This is much more specific, and I appreciate your patience. I did a little more digging on the difference between the disbelief of something and the belief of the negation of something. My mind tends to meld the two, and I realize that is where a lot of our contentions have come from. I will still assert, however, that in this context, there are different kinds of atheists. Through some more in-depth research, I’ve found this comparison, although I don’t necessarily agree on the terms used from this source. “Weak atheism is defined as simply the absence of belief in gods or the absence of theism. This is also the broad, general definition of atheism. The definition of weak atheism is used as a contrast to the definition of strong atheism, which is the positive assertion that no gods exist.”

I also can completely understand why you find it baffling and odd that someone would believe in something that they admit may not exist at all. I look at it this way. I’m a very creative-minded person. I’m a novelist and poet in my spare time, simply because it is an outlet of my energy which I enjoy. I read a lot of fiction and watch a lot of movies. I also study a lot of history (I’m a WWII junkie and at one point wanted to be a paleontologist). I do a lot of personal psychology studies, just for private interest in the subject. My realm of interest and comprehension is the realm of imagination, of interpretation. Religion and belief are other subjects that falls into this kind of category. To ask me not to evaluate the concept of god is like asking me not to read a book of fiction. If god might not be real, why waste time on something that is obviously not real like Middle-Earth?

To me, it’s not wasting my time and energy, it is relaxation. The possibilities of the unknown and the possibly impossible mesmerize me. I do my part to contribute all I can to the real world, and I attempt as best as I can not to allow the paths to cross. My boyfriend of 7 years has a similar attitude as you, that there may be a god, but who cares? Why waste time worrying about it? I don’t consider the time I think about god as a waste, because it is a fleeting moment for me. When I am at peace, in a state of calm or bliss, my mind slips to the possibility that a god somewhere out there gave me this opportunity, and I appreciate that. If there is a god, I have an image of what that god would be like. Sometimes I see the image others have of god and I find faults in that image compared to my own image, and I address them either outwardly to that person or just to myself. I might spend a maximum of 2 hours a week thinking about god, and I can be doing other things at the same time. So I don’t see it as a waste, but simply as a pastime.

Ashman: Rana,

I’ll never understand why you find it necessary to resort to supernatural and superstitious non-sense to relax. Good for you that you like poetry and psychology and fiction and things of that nature. By all means, lay in bed and wonder how we got here – there’s nothing wrong with that. But when you’re thinking about how fortunate you are, surely you must think how unfortunate other people are? Surely you must think about all the wretched people on this earth who have been dealt a terrible hand – and then think why would a god allow this to happen? Why would he be so kind to you and so heartless and callous to so many other people?
And this is the most troubling of your statements to me…”Sometimes I see the image others have of god and I find faults in that image compared to my own image, and I address them either outwardly to that person…” I don’t know how you can “find fault” with someone else’s “image’ of a god – its subjective. There’s no evidence of the existence of any god so its not like there’s a “correct” interpretation. However, I’m very familiar with the outcomes of disputes between religious people. They usually involve a lot of death and violence and destruction.
And as for the definitions of weak and strong atheism – I don’t agree with them either. People try to blur the lines and confuse others by introducing agnosticism and different concepts and definitions of this and that. We can talk about knowledge claims and probability and anything else but essentially, you either believe that there’s a god or you don#$%$ a simple concept.

Me: @Ashman – I certainly do think of those who are hurting in the world. I’ve already explained my view of god, as a parent letting their kid go to college. We are here to experience, the good and the bad, because they exist as a whole in the universe to balance each other out. Neutrality is peace, calm, comfort. That, to me, is where a god would exist, not to one extreme or the other. I hope that, if there is a god, it is a god who, although it hurts to see us suffer, will love us no matter our choices and gives us this opportunity to experience both the good and the bad in the world so we can appreciate the neutral when we get to it. If the Christians are right, and god is a douche, then I’ll burn in hell and be happy about it. A jealous, pompous god that created us for no other reason than to make us suffer in life and then bow at ‘his’ feet for the rest of our eternal existence is not worth giving a #$%$ about. If there is no god, so I wasted a little time making myself feel hopeful. Meh. Oh well. I don’t consider my view of god to be ‘right’ to anyone but myself. If I actually am right, awesome. If I’m not, I’ll either burn or just not exist anymore. I’m totally okay with all those outcomes. And I agree, trying to define the different kinds of atheist is just as pointless as all the moronic denominations of Christianity. It’s all monotheism. As I’ve said, I like to analyze what people think and why they think the way they do, so the minute details about a specific person’s beliefs interest me. The ‘official’ definitions just help me figure that out. You are right, though, it really shouldn’t matter. There are only two real sides to the subject, and the details just flow down from which broad side you are on.

Ashman: Rana,

Well, It’s been….interesting chatting with you. I’m not trying to be rude or mean, but I just have to say that I tried my best but I am afraid that the first 1/2 of your last paragraph is complete gibberish to me. White Noise. I don’t understand a single word of it.
I’m not going to worry too much about either of us burning in hell for eternity. I think the chances of that happening are zero.

Me: @Ashman – I figured the first part of my response wouldn’t really matter much. Didn’t mean to bore you with it, I just wanted to answer your questions somehow. Yeah, I don’t really worry about the possibility of hell. It’s like worrying every time you get in a car that you’re going to crash. Paranoia just makes for chaos.

Honestly, it’s been a real pleasure talking with you. I am sorry if I caused you any frustration or stress. It’s not easy trying to understand why other people think the way they do, and even harder to try to convince them they’re wrong. It’s a challenge, and as I’ve said, it’s something that I enjoy. I won’t say you’ve changed my mind in any way, and I didn’t come into this with the intention of changing others’ minds, so I know I haven’t changed yours. You are a very sturdy person, and you should hang onto that.

I’d like to ask something; I sometimes write blog posts on discussions like this that I have from time to time. I’d really like to copy this conversation of ours and post it there, if you don’t mind. I can even change your username if you’d like. If not, no worries. Let me know. I hope you have a happy, successful life.

Ashman: Rana,

When I post on here, my intentions are not so much to change people’s minds because I think that will rarely, if ever, happen. What I want to do, is get people to think for themselves and discard delusions and wishful thinking and superstitious non-sense by pointing out flaws contradictions and ignorance in their thinking. I can’t make people not believe – they have to do that on their own. As you well know, I think religion is one of the most horrid concepts that humans have ever devised. We impose this slavery and tyranny onto ourselves. That’s why I make the posts on here that I do. I want to point out how wicked this dangerous idea is and the real harm that it does to the human race. Someone who is religious could be the nicest person in the world and they deserve much respect for that. They don’t deserve respect for their unfounded, primitive childish beliefs. And to take it further, I would say I hope they are being nice for its own sake, and not because of the hope of some divine reward or the fear of some hellish punishment. If you notice I was significantly more respectful towards you than I was towards Michael and Reesy. I’m sorry if I was rude or aggressive towards you but I’m not sorry I was towards them. People like that need to be ridiclued and shown just how ignorant, stupid and hateful they are and how badly their thinking has been affecting by their respective religions. When someone tells me that it’s because of people like me (atheists) that religious people commit the attrocities they do, sparks are going to fly. I have no patience (and zero respect) for people like that.
I have no problem posting what we’ve talked about – and don’t mind if you keep the handle either. I’d even offer to do you one better and say I’ll write on your blog post too if you’ll allow me – let me know how I can reach you and I’d be happy to.

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I’d really to know what everyone thinks of this conversation of ours. I didn’t edit anything, so apologies for any mistypes. Enjoy the convo! ^_^

My Life’s Playlist: Twenty Four

In honor of my muse, music, I will be featuring the songs highest on my inspiration list. Today’s feature song is Twenty Four, by Switchfoot.

When Switchfoot came out with their debut album, Beautiful Letdown, in 2003, I had no idea who they were. I’m like that a lot with bands. I’ll hear a couple songs on the radio I like, look up the band, and find out I love every song of theirs on the radio. Train is the greatest example of that, and it took me over 5 years to know who they actually were. Train is one of my top favorite bands of all time, and every album they come out with I eat up like Rita’s in July.

Switchfoot, however, only kept me for this one album. It was a magical one, don’t get me wrong. This was one of the first CDs I ever bought with my own money. But the beauty of their work faded as they went into a more twangy, bluegrass, gospel style in later albums.

This particular song is by far my favorite. This is where they hit the perfect balance between a basic, beautiful melody, and their spiritual theme without overpowering one or the other. The lyrics are repetitive in the most even-keel way, not in-your-face or beat-in-your-head, just rhythmic. The undertones of spirituality are vague enough that anyone can appreciate them. The simple images here strike me every time, especially the lines, “I want to see miracles,/ to see the world change./ I wrestled the angel/ for more than a name./ For more than a feeling,/ for more than a cause.”

I think we all have not only our devils to wrestle, but our angels as well. We may want to do the best good we can, but best for who? And can we hold ourselves back enough to be good and not boast and brag? This idea is one of the things I talk about in my view of god, the idea of god as the neutral and both good and evil as the balancing act which we are stuck being tugged between. We’ll tilt either one way or the other, but eventually we’ll just fall off, and the neutrality of god can encompass us. Besides, if you do not experience both good and evil, how can you know or appreciate the serenity of neutrality?

wrestle an angel