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aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. October 24, 2011 - 3:19am

Have anyone seen these ads on youtube?  The moron, I mean Mormon Church is running a huge campaign advertising their religion like "See, we are just like you!"  Is this what the future of religion will be?  Will they sell it like a product?  Will there be "Church is AWESOME!" ads in the subway?  Will Jesus be telling me not to smoke in a new campaign?  No offense to people who are religious, I consider myself spiritual but not religious but I find this kind of thing ridiculous.  It's almost as bad as the bad that the Westboro Baptist Church has money to travel around the country and protest funerals.  We really should start taxing churches.

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Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading October 24, 2011 - 3:24am

I've always wondered what people mean when they say "I'm spiritual but not religious." Mind elaborating?

Also — don't forget that the Christian missionaries were basically selling their religion like a product a few hundred years ago. You gotta get people involved on an emotional level, and nothing works quite like making them think they'd be better off after making an investment into the religious life.

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jacks_username from Louisville, Kentucky is reading Games Of Thrones October 24, 2011 - 3:57am

I wonder how long this trend will last. For the another decade? Century? Okay probably not a century but I get angry every time I see those commercials. I'm tolerant of religions but not when they're trying to sell me their believes. I don't want to have to earn my boxers.

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aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. October 24, 2011 - 4:40am

Well saying I'm spiritual not religious to me means, I believe in the concept or the idea of a God or a spiritual universe, that there is something greater than us but not this prepackaged idea of God that comes from the bibles of the world.  The controllling God, the interventionist God, the God of punishment and pain, the "I'm really the voice of the preachers who want to control everything and play God" God.  Plus I wrote a paper on Mormonism and Joseph Smith for a class and in my research learned a lot about the Mormon religion that sickened me.  Joseph Smith was a big scumball and was basically responsible for the murder and death of a lot of people, he instigated riots when he didn't get his way and got his followers to kill for him.  He was a total scumbag.  I try to walk this fine line because my wife is Christian but I like to say I'm somewhere inbetween because I'm not an atheist.  I do believe in a supernatural underlayer to the world because of experiences I have had.  I do believe the spirit/energy whatever goes on in some way after death because of personal experiences I have had.  Plus spirituality can even be about altered states of consciousness where you can mentally leave your body.  Receiving messages from the divine is subjective. 

I had have a lot of family members die and if I believed that all that was left of them was their dead rotted flesh on a slab, I would have blown my brains out long ago.  I hate overly religious types just as much as I hate hardcore atheists who are total assholes about anyone who believes in anything.  I worked at a place where like 85% of my peers were atheists because let's face it, I grew up in the doom generation of faithless teens who lived through AIDS, the LA riots, the OJ trial, so they grew up cynical and believing that the world was full of shit so of course they have no religion.  But unlike John Lennon, I don't think the world would be completely better off without any 'religion' or spiritual beliefs.  I think for some people religion is the only thing that keeps them from being serial killers because they are legally insane.  So live and let live but don't sell me your religion like Dr. Pepper because that's just tacky.  lol

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aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. October 24, 2011 - 4:43am

What's funny is Brandon Flowers from the Killers is on one of their ads saying "I"m a Mormon and I devoted my career to not being about sex and drugs, etc."   It's kind of strange because most of his music has this strange ambi-sexual vibe and I would have not pegged him for a religious guy.  What next, is Tori Amos going to say "I"m Catholic and that's why I lit pianos on fire"?  Maybe Marilyn Manson will turn born again Christian, I think that's the only thing he has left that would shock anyone.

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Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading October 24, 2011 - 4:44am

Gotcha. Thanks for explaining. I've never felt any real hostility to religion. I don't believe in God, but I really don't mind if others do. Adamant, vocal atheists strike me as deluded in their own enlightenment.

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aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. October 24, 2011 - 4:52am

Well, what pissed me off is that most of these kids were like younger than me and thought they knew everything.  I've studied almost all the world religions so I know what's out there, I've read the different philosophies so I know some shit and they were treating me like I was retarded because I went to church with my wife sometimes.  I've also been to a buddhist temple, I went to Christian rock concerts with my buddy who I had a crush on hoping he was bi lol.    I hung out with satanists and Wiccans in my youth, I accidentally joined a cult once (Don't trust people who are willing to buy you free meals and give you hugs all the time eventually they want to baptize you and tell you that you are making the baby jesus cry in heaven when you don't show up to church one Sunday) and I've been to a Jewish temple, it doesn't mean I have to buy what they are selling.

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jacks_username from Louisville, Kentucky is reading Games Of Thrones October 24, 2011 - 5:24am

I was in a Buddhist group for a while but it started to feel cult-ish. Not manson cult-ish per say but I guess like a vegan cult. 

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aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. October 24, 2011 - 6:43am

Veganism can be a cult.  I had a friend who used to stare me down when I ate meat and make disgusted noises.  I was like, "Then stop going to eat with me".

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Alex Kane from west-central Illinois is reading Batman: Night of the Owls October 24, 2011 - 11:24am

I'm exactly where Phil stands: I'm an atheist, but not not a militant atheist like the other handful of guys at my college, who like to host events along the lines of "Ask an Atheist Day," etc. I see no use in ridiculing believers or trying to plant doubt in people. I never had faith to begin with, so I would never tell a religious individual that her beliefs aren't valid -- I've got no agenda, no theological message to spread.

In regard to Mormonism, there are some extremely intelligent people that belong to that religion, as with any faith, and I don't believe it's any less worthy of its followers than any other world religion. Joseph Smith certainly isn't the only religious leader in history to have incited mass bloodshed.

If I ever wanted to lead a religious life, I'd go with Buddhism; I've found there's a lot of truth to its teachings, even if some of the cosmology and rituals are pretty hokey.

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Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun October 24, 2011 - 3:40pm

On The Media just had a segment about the new Mormon campaign, it's pretty interesting and I think worth listening to. It is about how they are trying to essentially re-brand the church and features an interview with the church's ad-man. Great podcast and you can find the segment here.

As for 'militant atheist', I kind of fall into that category based on how Alex has described it. However, I don't consider things like "Ask an atheist day" to be militant at all. I feel that activities like that are genuinely helpful, not only to atheists but also people of faith.

You wouldn't believe the amount of conversations I've had with believers who don't understand some really simple ideas. I've personally answered the question "If you don't believe in God, why don't you just kill people?" a bunch of times. Some people simply haven't considered the concept of morality without a God being involved.

Americans place less trust in Atheists than in Muslims, homosexuals, immigrants, and of course, Christians, among others.  Atheists are also the minority group that Americans feel least comfortable allowing their child to marry

source

Now perhaps you don't see why that is a big issue, but to me it is. I really don't care about convincing someone to be an atheist. But I do care that people have grossly misinformed opinions about us. I do care that being an atheist destroys your chance of being in politics. It's an important issue and unless your local groups are being outwardly disrespectful, I think they are doing a good thing.

If these are issues you don't care about, that's fine. But understand, this is what most of the atheist groups I know are working at.

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Charles from Portland is reading Lists of the Past October 24, 2011 - 4:24pm

the mormon religion is seen by most of the world as a cult, who has at one point or another advocated racism, polygamy, and still has a tyhe system in place for its members. members by the way, include the owners of valu-pak (i think thats the company) foods, politicians and fast food titans, which are tied to the porn industry. that means a lot of money, and, political power.

mormons also seem to be incredibly patriarchal. i once dated a woman (she was 24, i think) and her dad ended our relationship.

the thing is that the average mormon doesnt seem to realize these things, and in fact the woman i dated got in an argument with me about why the mormons now allow black folks into heaven, and her reasons had nothing to do with racism falling out of political favor in the sixties.

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Alex Kane from west-central Illinois is reading Batman: Night of the Owls October 24, 2011 - 5:14pm

I really don't care about convincing someone to be an atheist. But I do care that people have grossly misinformed opinions about us. I do care that being an atheist destroys your chance of being in politics. It's an important issue and unless your local groups are being outwardly disrespectful, I think they are doing a good thing.

Kirk, I agree with you 100%. Perhaps I wasn't very clear, but militant atheism is certainly not the same thing as various atheist campaigns like "Ask an Atheist," et cetera. I apologize for not elaborating on that well.

Militant atheism, at minimum, is the sort of thing I see on Twitter and other places constantly: Folks go out of their way to find religious folk, ridicule them in a Conversation-Stopper sort of manner, and then fly out the door without further discussion. It's hostile, it's not constructive, and moreover, it paints atheists in the unnecessarily negative light that many assume all atheists belong in.

Believers need not see atheism as the enemy, and vice versa. One liberal Presbyterian reverend I know claims that even atheists are "People of Faith" in his worldview.

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Charles from Portland is reading Lists of the Past October 24, 2011 - 9:18pm

atheism is a faith, or the very least a system of belief, in which one believes in the non-existance of god or an afterlife. as mentioned above, some atheists even feel the need to convert people in the same bible thumping fashion that "christians" do it on street corners.

for the record, i have never seen atheists protest jewish holiday displays, but in portland we cant call the christmas tree in downtown a christmas tree.

i had a similar conversation with an atheist friend, who now calls himself agnostic, because he didnt like my insinuation that he was a person of faith, and he couldnt come up with a rebuttle.

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Aaron from Texas is reading Robert Filmer's Patriarcha October 25, 2011 - 12:12am

It depends on the kind of atheism. Strong atheism asserts that "at least one deity exists" is a false statement, but weak atheism doesn't (it merely rejects belief in any specific deity), and thus can overlap with agnosticism.

As a weak atheist, I find it annoying that I have to explain that distinction, let alone explain what atheism itself is. Throughout high school people asked me whether I worshipped the devil because they'd heard that I was an atheist.

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Alex Kane from west-central Illinois is reading Batman: Night of the Owls October 25, 2011 - 12:49am

It's hard to pin down, I think, because people always assume that there's some sort of hidden sociopolitical agenda behind everything. For me, it's always been a matter of intellectual and theological integrity. I don't see atheism as a dogma, which my political philosophy professor argues that it is, but rather my individual admission that I don't believe in any form of supernatural deity. I'm not dogmatically asserting that there cannot possibly be a god of any kind in this universe or any other; I'm merely saying that I see no evidence, and feel no inherent knowledge, to support that conclusion. An atheist doesn't know that there's no God, he's just pretty damn sure of it, given the scope of our limited world. After all, there are a lot of stars out there, winking across the night, and we've been to visit...none of them.

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Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun October 25, 2011 - 12:52am

Charles, your statements are exactly why things like "ask an atheist day" have to exist. Your opinions are based entirely on inaccurate ideas.

We can go on and on as to why atheism is not a "faith" by your implied meaning of the word. Though that is a disagreement that is likely to never end. At most, it is a lack of "faith" for a variety of reasons. The largest being that there is no evidence for the existence of god. Sadly, we have to have a word to describe this. As opposed to any number of other things people don't believe in that we don't have a word for - we don't have a word for people who don't believe in bigfoot. What you're suggesting is that all atheists are rejecting a belief in God, which is simply inaccurate. It may be true in some instance, but not all.

I have never personally met an atheist (and I've met many) that feels the need to convert people, as you claim but I'm sure there are some out there. However, you are talking about a minority of a minority. There are a lot of us who are happy to talk with people who have questions and the conversations I have with some of my religious friends about the topic are some of the best conversations I have.

The reason you have never personally seen atheist protest a Jewish display in Portland is probably quite simple to figure out based on the religious makeup of Oregon.

Christian — 67%
Unaffiliated — 27%
Buddhist — 2%
Jewish — 1%
Muslim — 0.5%
Other Religions — 2%

Extrapolating from that, there are fewer than 6000 jews in Portland as opposed to 391,129 Christians.

What you seem to be hinting at is that atheists only go after Christians. The fact is, Christians have a place of privilege in America, being the majority religion. As such, in 2011, some of the privileges they have historically had are being challenged. I know in my local towns I have never seen a Jewish display outside of my local government buildings. But I've seen plenty of Christian ones. I hate to invoke other civil rights issues, but it's really not much different than giving women the right to vote. It seems ridiculous now, but you can be certain that during the women's suffrage movement there were plenty of men who felt they were being attacked and their "rights" were being lessened. It's not that they lost a right, it's that they lost a privilege.

Personally, Christmas trees are not an issue I care much about. But, when it is on government land, sponsored by taxpayer dollars, people who are not Christian have the right to raise their concerns and request a change. Unfortunately, when dealing with social issues, you kind of have to be all in. You can't pick and choose.

And you seem to have out-witted your friend. That's great. That doesn't make you any more right or him any more wrong.

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Charles from Portland is reading Lists of the Past October 25, 2011 - 1:06am

kirk,

you missed my point. no one has made sure the jews call their display "the big fucking holiday candle holder" yet, there are "holiday trees" and atheistic displays touting their belief in a lack of a god (which, mind you IS A FAITH being that no one can definatively show they are right...) so its not an all-in thing, its a war on christianity.

and if you dont think public statements like that are asking for followers, then the mormons are wasting their money on all their TV spots. they're doing the same thing in a gentle way, by the by. we're right, we have a better way, and hey we'll send you a free book.

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Alex Kane from west-central Illinois is reading Batman: Night of the Owls October 25, 2011 - 1:16am

There is no "war on Christianity." I've never seen anyone in this country set afire, or killed execution-style, or put in a concentration camp to be dehumanized and systematically slaughtered for being a Christian. Christianity holds dominion over United States politics, despite the Establishment Clause. There has never been a single U.S. president who wasn't a Christian. People threw a shit-fit over Kennedy being a Catholic, for chrissakes.

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Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun October 25, 2011 - 1:19am

Alright, a civil discussion turned into a perceived "war on Christianity" there is no reason to try to continue this conversation.

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Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading October 26, 2011 - 4:51am

@ Charles

When you say something like "atheism is a faith, or the very least a system of belief, in which one believes in the non-existance of god or an afterlife", you're basically emptying the word "faith" of any content that can make make it a useful word. It may sound clever, but it's meaningless, unless you really back that up. The political philosopher, John N Gray, often says that modern political humanism has all the hallmarks of a religious faith, but he also, you know, backs it up with more than conviction.

I realize it's an easy argumentative tack to adopt, this whole "You missed my point" sthick, but Kirk didn't miss your point. Let's look at what you're saying here. The "belief in a lack of a god (which, mind you IS A FAITH being that no one can definatively show they are right...)" thing isn't even good rhetoric. Of course nobody can show they are right in a deeply philosophical way. People have been dealing with epistemological problems for a very long time. You're not callling on the tradition of skepticism, though; you're saying, in essence, that because we haven't solved certain problems relating to knowledge, everything we claim about the universe is based on faith. Well done, we haven't heard that one before; or have we?

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aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. October 25, 2011 - 1:20pm

Oh Lord Buddha Christ Allah Judah--look what I started.  Let's just talk about how handsome those Mormons look in their pretty suits.  I think I'm going to write a creepy molesty story about them.

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Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading The Bone Clocks October 25, 2011 - 9:13pm

Scientology was doing the same thing for a while. I was watching Mythbusters or something when one of their commercials came on and I was like, wait- did I just see what I thought I saw? They were all low key about it, too, only flashing a small Church of Scientology logo at the end.

In fact, I gave Dennis shit one time, because for a while there were some "innocuous" Scientology adds popping up at The Cult (and don't think I don't see the irony there). He claimed it was random and he had nothing to do with it, but I think they've gotten to him.

Yeah, you better run, egg!

PS My belief in the possibility of a theistic creator went out the window as soon as I read just a little bit about history and evolution.

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ReneeAPickup from Joshua Tree, CA is reading A truckload of books. October 25, 2011 - 9:22pm

I was a member of the Mormon church for several years, I can assure you, with a relative amount of certainty that it isn't a cult. They believe differently than most Christian religions, and they evangalize, that doesn't make them a cult. Obviously I am not in love with the LDS church or everything it stands for, or I'd still go...

When I decided it wasn't the path I needed to be on, I just stopped going. My life wasn't ruined by going or discontinuing going. Unlike cults.

I am all for discussion of different religions, but being sensationalist and xenophobic helps no one. 

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Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading The Bone Clocks October 25, 2011 - 9:25pm

What about the hard core Mormons? The ones who live on compounds and have lots of underage wives and shit? Like the ones I seen on the tee-vee?

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ReneeAPickup from Joshua Tree, CA is reading A truckload of books. October 25, 2011 - 9:41pm

You mean the ones that have defected and been ex-communicated from the LDS church?

I mean, come on, I could give a list of reasons why being Mormon didn't work for me, and reasons I don't love the church, I can do it relatively objectively. There's no reason to smear and sensationalize. They are just people who believe in something. Not much different from any other religion, although maybe a little more strict, but then, if most people adhered to the majority of church doctrines that their churches preach, their churches would be strict, too.

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ReneeAPickup from Joshua Tree, CA is reading A truckload of books. October 25, 2011 - 9:42pm

And, I'll add, that these silly videos probably wouldn't exist if people didn't have such huge misconceptions about the church or choose to sensationalize the legitmate issues.

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Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading The Bone Clocks October 25, 2011 - 9:48pm

One more obnoxious question- did you wear the magic underwear? And if so, do you have pictures? :)

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ReneeAPickup from Joshua Tree, CA is reading A truckload of books. October 25, 2011 - 10:36pm

No. I had been to the Temple, but didn't stay a member long enough to get "garments". If you're really curious to see them, my morbidly obese uncle is still active and wears his daily ;)

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Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading The Bone Clocks October 25, 2011 - 11:12pm

I might be interested.

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ReneeAPickup from Joshua Tree, CA is reading A truckload of books. October 26, 2011 - 12:38am

Hm. I don't know how dedicated I am to LitReactor to put MYSELF through the trauma of seeing that 500lbs of pure Mormon in his underwear.

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aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. October 26, 2011 - 12:55am

I know what you mean about sensationalizing.  I mean most of what people know about Mormons is from "Big Love" and that show "Sister Wives".  I mean I respect what people believe.  I just hate the door to door crap.

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Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun October 26, 2011 - 1:34am

And, I'll add, that these silly videos probably wouldn't exist if people didn't have such huge misconceptions about the church or choose to sensationalize the legitmate issues.

If you listen to that segment of On The Media that I linked up there ^ This is exactly the case. The entire point behind the campaign is to help people who don't know a Mormon personally, know a little something about them. The segment is interesting because they talk about the market research that went into producing the commercials.

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ReneeAPickup from Joshua Tree, CA is reading A truckload of books. October 26, 2011 - 3:24am

Aliensoul--I get that, and as a former member (still on the books) the door to door is especially irritating. But, Jehovah's Witnesses are annoying, too (and more plentiful around here) and I would still stand up to anyone spouting rumor and misinformation about them (and have). I have (and likely will again) stood up for Atheists and other groups, too.

Personally, I think my husband I are firmly "spiritual but not religious" and even attend a Unitarian Universalist congregation (pretty much anything goes), but I think everyone's beliefs and practices deserve a modicum of respect. If you (the general you) take issue with specific things a religion (or other group) do or believe, that's one thing, but to paint them with a broad brush of half truths and rumors is a wholly different thing, and that's why I tend to feel prickly when I see it done.

We're all on different paths with our religion/spirituality/agnosticism/Atheism, but that's okay, so long as you are respectful about it and don't push that shit on the masses. Example, I politely decline interaction with Mormon missionaries and Jehovah's Witnesses, but I vocally take a stand against the LDS's funding of prop 8 and their stance on homosexuality.

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ReneeAPickup from Joshua Tree, CA is reading A truckload of books. October 26, 2011 - 3:26am

Kirk--oh yeah, and that stuff works wonders. If you look at it from a different perspective, many service levers who were wholly opposed to the repeal of DADT are actually okay with the gay gays they've now discovered they work with. Knowing "regular" people are a part of a group you don't like/stigmatize makes a difference.

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JesterOfHearts from Texas is reading Under the Dome - Stephen King October 26, 2011 - 7:59am

I live outside New York City and have seen these ads on the tops of taxis.  The particular ones I saw had a father playing outside with his kids and it said "I'm a Mormon" along the bottom.  I personally think it's pretty idiotic, but I'm sure it'll have some effect.  People will see it and be like "Oh, he has a family and probably has a respectable job.  I guess Mormons really aren't crazy after all."  The thing is just because someone has a family and a job doesn't make their belief system any less psychotic.

We live in a society where religion is in this weirdly untouchable place.  People can believe in the craziest of things, but as long as it's part of their religion it's perfectly okay.  But if you ridicule those beliefs then you're suddenly in the wrong, as though disapproving of a particular religion is on the same level as being a racist.  It's ridiculous.  If someone believes in crazy shit that has no basis in reality then other people should have the right to point out their craziness without being labeled as prejudice.

I lived next to a Mormon family growing up and, while I think their belief system is crap and I strongly disapprove of their political involvement, I never had a problem with them being Mormon.  They have the right to believe what they want, but as soon as they start preaching those beliefs at me or using those beliefs to fuel any kind of political movement then I reserve the right to point out all the psycho crap they believe in and proceed to ridicule them, as I would do with any other religion or belief system.

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Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading October 26, 2011 - 8:22am

@ JesterOfHearts

Quote: "But if you ridicule those beliefs then you're suddenly in the wrong, as though disapproving of a particular religion is on the same level as being a racist.  It's ridiculous.  If someone believes in crazy shit that has no basis in reality then other people should have the right to point out their craziness without being labeled as prejudice."

I am amused and enlightened by this idea that being an atheist who feels the need to "point out the craziness" of religion could actually get upset by a negative reaction.

You brought up racism. Let's use that as a starting point. "If someone believes in crazy shit that has no basis in reality" — for example, that black people are inherently violent, that "Chinks" are only good at mathematics and following orders, that Indians smell of curry, whatever — then yes, you have a right to point out the stupidity of their opinions. But to a lot of equally stupid or intelligent people, you can take your pick: democracy isn't all it's cracked up to be, capitalism is a danger to human decency, human decency is a myth, sexual norms are harmful to individuality, individuality is a necessary invention for capitalism to function, the only good politician is a dead politician, war is a precursor to human progress, progress is an illusion...

All of these are, in particular contexts, subsersive ideas. They may be right or wrong, but they're subsersive. If someone dares to say something contrarian about the status quo, they're always going to provoke people into calling them names. Religion is one of these phenomena. The unquestioned assumption in what you say in the passage I quoted is that "racism is wrong". Well, that may be, but to someone in a deeply religious household, the unquestioned assumption might be that "Christ can save us but we need to work with him" — if that's the case, then of course you'll be seen as "prejudiced" or something like deluded if you assault religion.

What Kirk was saying about politicians running a risk if they admit to being atheists is, I think, absolutely valid. It's a shame and almost a scandal that this kind of shit happens. But it's one thing to act like a victim or a martyr when you criticize religion, and it's another to just get the fuck over it and be able to stand up for yourself if someone thinks your opinion is silly or dangerous. Some people's lives are entirely governed by a religious doctrine. Get over it. If they want to sell you their religion like a product, you certainly can tell them to piss off, but why make that into a condition for the universal dismissal of religion as a "thing" — as if religion could be summed up the way you sum up a cup of coffee?

The sheer ignorance of saying that religion is a psychosis is astounding. The world we live in is a post-religious world — not an irreligious world. So much of what we take for granted, as atheists (of which I am one), comes from the "religious framework" the West has developed over millennia, that just because we're suddenly free of the shackles of forced belief doesn't mean we're somehow smarter or better than we were a hundred years ago.

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JesterOfHearts from Texas is reading Under the Dome - Stephen King October 26, 2011 - 10:34am

@Phil

I enjoyed your input.  I'm not really upset by receiving a negative reaction for ridiculing someone's religion.  It's pretty much the expected reaction.  What I find upsetting, though, is when religious people feel it's perfectly fine to spout their beliefs, but when I express mine in turn they become offended.  It strikes me as being very hypocritical on their part.

I have to say, though, that religion could be summed up as a thing.  Religion is simply a set of beliefs and beliefs are just things.  They may not be tangible things like a cup of coffee, but they are still things.

Also, maybe psychosis isn't the best word for it, I think addiction would be a better fit.  There have been studies done comparing the brain activity of overly religious people and drug addicts.  The results showed very similar activity for both (I read these studies over a year ago, so there may be newer studies with different results.  Should be able to find them using google if you're interested.), so I believe religion can be an addiction of sorts for many.  Regardless of whether it's an addiction or a psychosis, I do believe religion is used as a crutch, a way of simply accepting things and not bothering to think for one's self, just following the herd so to say.  Religion is a way of answering the unknowable so instead of just accepting that there are things we don't know and don't understand, we turn to myths and fairy tales.  Religion helps the universe make sense to many people, which in a way is a good thing, but I'm of the mindset that anything taken to the extreme is unhealthy and damaging.

And btw, I'm not an atheist.  I consider myself agnostic.  Atheism seems too final for my liking.  I mean, there's an entire universe out there that we know so very little about, so while I do think it's extremely unlikely for there to be a god/gods, I don't want to rule out the possibility.  Basically, I don't know what is and isn't out there and I'm okay with that.

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Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading October 26, 2011 - 10:45am

@JesterOH

Well, I certainly agree about the hypocrisy. And you're right to call it that: it is hypocrisy, in the very strongest sense. And on that level, the fight's on, man. The blessing, if I can call it that in a discussion on religion, is that we're now able to critique the discourse of religious conviction without getting sent to jail or the stake for it.

I find the mention of those studies interesting. While I take issue with called religion a kind of psychosis (I'm a psychotic, according to doctors, which essentially means I have moments of intense disconnection from the "real world"... a problematic thing in itself), I understand what you mean. If you can hook me up with a name or something so that I can find out more about the particular studies you're talking about, I'd be grateful, sincerely.

But religion can't be called a "thing" in the sense that we commonly employ the word. A "thing" stands on its own. Religion is a series of practices, injunctions, beliefs and types of knowledge — too broad to be a "thing" the way a cup of coffee is a thing. Hell, even a cup of coffee, when you get down to it, is a whole world of different parts.

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading The Bone Clocks October 26, 2011 - 12:19pm

I don't know how dedicated I am to LitReactor to put MYSELF through the trauma of seeing that 500 lbs of pure Mormon in his underwear.

Brilliant.

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ReneeAPickup from Joshua Tree, CA is reading A truckload of books. October 26, 2011 - 2:49pm

But if you ridicule those beliefs then you're suddenly in the wrong, as though disapproving of a particular religion is on the same level as being a racist.  It's ridiculous.  If someone believes in crazy shit that has no basis in reality then other people should have the right to point out their craziness without being labeled as prejudice.

Why ridicule? Why not discuss it like an adult? That's the issue. No one should feel entitled to ridicule anyone for how they live their life or what they believe in. Be mature about it.

As for religion being an addiction for some people. Yes, of course. Some. Some people are addicted to sex, I'm not going to stop fucking my husband and tell everyone they need to stop enjoying orgasms because some people become addicted to sex.

Honestly, I think if we exercised more tolerance, we'd need religion (we meaning society) a lot less. People get religious because they need to belong and feel a part of something bigger than themselves, if we're all pointing fingers and alienating each other, that's a bigger need.

I think it's ridiculous that the more liberal people in our society feel like they are above bigotry and will call out racism, homophobia, xenophobia, etc. but feel completely at home bashing religion/religions. I can't put it more eloquently than this: "that's fucking stupid".

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ReneeAPickup from Joshua Tree, CA is reading A truckload of books. October 26, 2011 - 2:50pm

My post went twice. Must be a sign from God.

Ba-dum ching!

ReneeAPickup's picture
ReneeAPickup from Joshua Tree, CA is reading A truckload of books. October 26, 2011 - 2:53pm

I enjoyed your input.  I'm not really upset by receiving a negative reaction for ridiculing someone's religion.  It's pretty much the expected reaction.  What I find upsetting, though, is when religious people feel it's perfectly fine to spout their beliefs, but when I express mine in turn they become offended.  It strikes me as being very hypocritical on their part.

Well, I agree with you there. And I defend anyone's right to be respected in where they are at. If someone wants to talk to you about Jesus, you have every right to say "I don't believe in Jesus/God" and be respected. If they aren't respectful to you in that case, then they are the asshole. 

However, if you say "Let's talk about Jesus!" and go onto ridicule (your word) their beliefs and set out to make them look stupid--well, they aren't really the asshole in that situation.

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Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun October 26, 2011 - 4:14pm

I would never offer to discuss someone's faith and then ridicule them personally for their beliefs. I will have a legitimate discussion about why they believe the things they do, and I'll most likely get critical of their faith at some point, but I never make it about them, personally.

Ridicule is, to me, one of the strongest tools to get people to ask serious questions about any number of things, including their faith. For instance, Stephen Colbert's Super-PAC has gotten a lot of people to seriously begin discussing the laws. The same goes for religion. George Carlin spent years ridiculing the Catholic church, but he was never ridiculing Catholics. You can be certain that through comedy he did get a lot of people to ask some critical questions of their faith.

The same can be said of Matt & Trey of South Park. I don't think any of those guys would tell you that they make fun of religion to get people to stop being religious. But they do it to get people to think a little more critically about their faith.

The truth is, most people haven't considered their faith. They were raised into it and probably haven't actually studied it. If a few jokes get someone to say "Wow, I didn't know that, I should check into that" something positive came out of it.

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Laramore Black from Joplin, Missouri is reading East of Eden, by John Steinbeck January 4, 2012 - 12:07pm

Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and our future emperor.
http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/2012/02/mitt-romney-201202

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Mick Cory from Kentucky is reading everything you have ever posted online and is frankly shocked you have survived this long January 4, 2012 - 3:00pm

   I am always late to the best parties.

"atheism is a faith, or the very least a system of belief, in which one believes in the non-existance of god or an afterlife..."

   What is misrepresented by the word atheism is simply the absence of belief. As Hitchens (I paraphrase of course) was found of saying, the burden of proof is on those who believe. The following quote was pulled from the introduction written by Hitchens to The Portable Atheist:

"There is an argument within the community of those who reject all this fantasy about the utility of the word "atheist." For one thing it is a pure negative: a statement of mere unbelief or disbelief. Dr. Jonathan Miller, for example, a distinguished physician and theater and opera director, is uneasy with the term for this reason: 'I do not have,' he once told me, 'a special word for saying that I do not believe in the tooth fairy or in Santa Claus. I presume that my intelligent friends do not suppose that I believe in such things.'"

   Kirk touched on what is presented above earlier, yet I felt the quote would help flesh the point out a bit. I am of the opinion that more often than not those claiming to be atheists are still merely rebelling from some early oppression or from society (which is dominated by religion) in general. They, like most who follow a particular religion, are not equipped to actually discuss the matter. I am again typing on a point Kirk has already made. It is also nearly impossible to remain emotionally detached in these discussions, which ultimately leads us into these conversational stalemates.

   Latching onto the idea espoused that discussions should be handled on a "mature" level, this is in my opinion a bit of a dodge. If a man approached me on the street and claimed he had just given birth to a litter of pups, then produced the pups as proof, even if this man had behind him a dozen people who themselves claimed to have witnessed this, I would not be inclined to engage this man in a serious dialogue. We live in a society where one individual is considered ill for announcing/discussing his beliefs and the next is not. The scale is skewed, and religion (and the money behind it) is the thumb on that scale, applying pressure for the same reason it has always been applied, control. The human animal's fear of the unknown consistently leads it astray, where it often finds itself seeking refuge in willful ignorance and the subsequent comfort said ignorance supplies. Science continues to shed light into the darkness, even if it is fractions of an inch at a time. We now know that the mind is capable of manufacturing episodes previously thought to be religious experiences. While it will no doubt be disputed, I feel neuroscience will provide evidence against the existence of the divine long before quantum mechanics will.

    And for those who attempt to use science to support religion, I say shame on you. The men responsible for the bibles inserted a story within its opening pages meant to keep humanity from seeking information. The story of Eden and the tree of knowledge and man's subsequent fall. This is a direct command not to attempt to learn, as educating oneself to the mysteries of life is considered a capital crime. How easily they forget what they believe.  

  

PopeyeDoyle's picture
PopeyeDoyle from Rio Grande Valley, TX is reading Chronology of Water January 4, 2012 - 3:13pm

What is misrepresented by the word atheism is simply the absence of belief. As Hitchens (I paraphrase of course) was found of saying, the burden of proof is on those who believe.

This seems to be a better definition of agnosticism than of atheism.  The assertion "there is no god(s)" is as much a claim to knowledge as "there is a god(s)."  Both would require at least some sort of justification - although on a personal level I'd argue that the believer has more of a burden.  It's really only the agnostic that makes no particular claim to knowledge and thus has no burden of proof.  To equate atheism with non-theism renders the terms meaningless and I'm not sure why some atheists are so desperate to trivialize their own position.

We now know that the mind is capable of manufacturing episodes previously thought to be religious experiences. While it will no doubt be disputed, I feel neuroscience will provide evidence against the existence of the divine long before quantum mechanics will.

You consider this to be "evidence against the existence of the divine," or am I misinterpreting something?

 

And for those who attempt to use science to support religion, I say shame on you. The men responsible for the bibles inserted a story within its opening pages meant to keep humanity from seeking information. The story of Eden and the tree of knowledge and man's subsequent fall. This is a direct command not to attempt to learn, as educating oneself to the mysteries of life is considered a capital crime. How easily they forget what they believe.

I'm not sure what any of this actually means (what does it mean to "use science," for example?) or that your interpretation of the meaning of Genesis is accurate.  I don't even understand who the "they" in your paragraph is.  Needless to say, there are not only other religions beside Christianity (which render your Genesis argument moot for their purposes), but there are several interpretations of Genesis which would additionally render your point here moot.

However, even if we concede 100% your argument here, it doesn't actually address whether there is a God or not, or whether science or philosophy can help us come to a meaningful conclusion.  It just means that a particular interpretation of a particular story would prohibit some type of knowledge-gathering.

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razorsharp from Ohio is reading Atlas Shrugged January 4, 2012 - 3:23pm

@mick I would argue the opposite: Sure, most people who are religious don't think critically about their faith, but most people who are areligious don't think critically about their lack of faith. At least the religious person can explain to me why they believe murder is wrong. I've only met a few atheists who can provide a logical foundation for their for their moral principles.

So I ask you, Mick, what's your rationale for morality? Hopefully it's stronger than your strawman attacks on religion.

PopeyeDoyle's picture
PopeyeDoyle from Rio Grande Valley, TX is reading Chronology of Water January 4, 2012 - 3:30pm

@mick I would argue the opposite: Sure, most people who are religious don't think critically about their faith, but most people who are areligious don't think critically about their lack of faith. At least the religious person can explain to me why they believe murder is wrong. I've only met a few atheists who can provide a logical foundation for their for their moral principles.

Razorsharp - by "logical," do you mean, "objective"?  It seems like it wouldn't be too hard to come up with a logical basis for moral principles without any appeal to a lawgiver.  But "objective" might be more difficult.

razorsharp's picture
razorsharp from Ohio is reading Atlas Shrugged January 4, 2012 - 4:42pm

Popeye:

I'd argue that there's no such thing as subjective morals. Egotism has never seemed valid to me, but even if you consider it to be, it's still rooted in a principle that can exist objectively: Concern yourself primarily with yourself.

By logical I mean in a more Aristotlean sense, so objectivity would apply.

Also, I'm not saying that no atheists have a logical moral framework. Most theists don't have a logical moral framework, either, but a lot of theists ignore logic in favor of rules that are prewritten for them. Most members of a church, for example, can't logically defend their moral choices. But their pastor can. Similarly, most atheists can't logically defend their moral framework, but there are plenty of philosophy professors that can. The difference is, that the Christian has a relationship they maintain with their pastor and they frequent him for moral guidance. They put their faith in this person and the institution he represents.

I understand and respect the morals that institution stands for, and even when I have minor theological disagreements with them, I trust people who put their faith in it. What I don't trust is people who derive their beliefs in right and wrong from intuition. I don't care if people decide to be areligious, but I think they have a responsibility to question what is right and wrong and discover answers that they understand well enough to articulate logically. If you can't do that, then you're better off relying on religious faith.

Laramore Black's picture
Laramore Black from Joplin, Missouri is reading East of Eden, by John Steinbeck January 4, 2012 - 4:53pm