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Separation of church and state is a huge issue to me as a liberal Democratic voter. To me, it is perhaps the most grievous issue facing our country today, because the notion of a theocracy and the fringes-yet-powerfuls' desire for it threatens the very existence of our democracy itself. Not only that, but the issue of separation of church and state is an umbrella over almost every conceivable discrete issue in the U.S.--how and if our children pray in school; what our children learn in school; how our children develop into adults and plan their families; whether or not they're entitled to healthcare, Social Security, and other social services based on their religion; how we as a nation manage our commerce and treasury; and how or if we go to war--and how we as a nation treat casualties of war, domestic or international.

The religious right-wingers' threat to our democratic society and way of life as a whole resonates with me on a much more personal, granular level, for reasons I will parlay at the jump.

My journey from being a child and eventually a woman of deep faith to being a content atheist is much more subdued than that of Julia Sweeney and much less revelation-worthy from the reverse religious experiences of former preacher Dan Barker, but no less passionate, years-long, and at times agonizing. Metaphorically speaking, it was a hard pill for me to swallow that, for many years in my youth and young adulthood, I was misusing religion in the way alcoholics misuse alcohol, and abusing myself within its frames in the same way drug addicts abuse themselves.

Dan Barker described the former me to a T when he wrote in his book Losing Faith in Faith (emphasis mine):

Religion is a powerful thing. Few can resist its charms and few can truly break its embrace. It is the siren who entices the wandering traveler with songs of love and desire and, once successful, turns a mind into stone. It is a Venus fly trap. Its attraction is like that of drugs to an addict who, wishing to be free and happy, becomes trapped and miserable. But the saddest part of the dependency is the fact that most participants are willing victims. They think they are happy.

They believe religion has kept its promises and have no desire to search elsewhere. They are deeply in love with their faith and have been blinded by that love--blinded to the point of unquestioning sacrifice.

I disagree in part with Barker's generalizations about all people of faith, which is why I'm adding this note of caution and a disclaimer: in relating my own story of religion addiction, in no way do I intend to disparage the millions of people, including the good progressive people of faith here at DailyKOS, who do have a healthy relationship with their faiths, and who do treat other human beings well and strive to serve them genuinely in their actions and words. I hope I am not trivializing people's faith by making this comparison, but it is the only one I can think of at the moment that seems most apt: one can still enjoy a fine Italian wine, a hoppy ale, or a smooth Hennessy on the rocks without falling prey to alcoholism; an alcoholic, however, cannot.

I am that alcoholic, and abstaining from religion for the rest of my life, despite the occasional temptations and comfort of familiar rituals and family gatherings in a pretty church, will ensure for me that I don't ruin my life. Immersed in the Venus trap of my own unhealthy relationship to religion, I very nearly did.

I'm not going to turn this into a poor-me diary about how my childhood was so tough and that's what led me down the path to self-medicating via the Bible of the Month. Let's suffice it to say that I rarely if ever had a truly emotionally safe place to come home to or to go to school. As a "square-peg" in both my home life and among my school-aged peers, I couldn't find refuge at either home or outside of home, so I buried myself under mounds of theology and indoctrination. (Going to a Catholic school didn't help matters much.)

Earlier this year, I wrote a lengthy comment that describes some of this indoctrination in often excruciating detail. That comment was basically the Reader's Digest version of how I viewed sexuality through the unhealthy prism of my "faith addiction" in my teens and early-to-mid-twenties.

Here's an excerpt:

I was raised in a very strict Catholic household where sex before marriage AND divorce were condemned. My parents ...(snip for brevity)... instructed us in very harsh terms that they would be disappointed with my sister and I if we were to have premarital sex. This obviously led to my sister and I having a very unhealthy view of not only our own bodies, but of sexuality and marriage in general...

(snip for brevity)

My sister ended up blowing off their and the Church's sage advice; but I was a much more serious gal and took it very seriously--much to my peril. I dated the same asshole guy throughout college; and even though we engaged in some heavy-petting, we refrained from "The Act" until our unfortunate wedding night. As our wedding date approached, I had horrible feelings that I was making the wrong choice; but blew those feelings off as "pre-wedding jitters" and went for it anyway--feeling guilt for having "sexual feelings" for the guy with whom I presumed God wanted me to spend my life.

Needless to say, my marriage to my first husband was horrible, and it had terrible consequences on my life even after we blew apart and finally divorced five years later (thankfully, with no kids). I cruelly projected the negative feelings of my bad marriage onto other people, and as a result, deservedly lost several good friends. As a result of getting divorced (after MUCH soul-searching and "divorcing" myself mentally from the guilt of the Catholic Church--in fact, from the Church itself), I felt shackled with guilt and bad feelings from which I took a LONG time to heal and start dating again...(snip)...My twenties in general were just a sucky time that I don't look upon with much fondness at all.

And mind you, that was just how my self-indoctrination affected my sexuality and romantic relationships--just one element of what was basically my perverting reality. As a result of my neurotic attachments to doctrine and faith, I often didn't have a solid grip on reality. I failed to mention above that, during the years in college, in which I was dating my first husband, I transferred to another university and then back to the college I first attended after a year, because being away from the comfort of my first and only really serious relationship with a guy was too much for me to handle. I kept lying to myself--and others--about the real reason I made this poor decision, and of course I kept praying about it, but with no solid answers other than my wishful thinking. I changed majors a total of four times before FINALLY changing it back to my original major, English, in my senior year. It was a damn good thing I had a scholarship, or else I or my parents would've been broke on loans while I put together my Frankenstein degree.

My first attempt at breaking this bad cycle of cluelessness--and religion--came near my college graduation. I felt like I should've been happy being at my original, familiar alma mater, with my fiance and upcoming marriage, but I was miserable. I went to an evangelical Catholic college retreat (yes, there are such things in Texas!) and ended up feeling so alienated and troubled by the other willing attendees that I broke down sobbing in my Honda with no air conditioning as I left the retreat parking lot. I figured, correctly, that the problem was religion and my refusal to accept some things that didn't ring true with me; yet it was only one of the problems. It would have been better for me to postpone my wedding till I had some things figured out, like what I was going to do for a job when all I had was a generalistic liberal-arts degree, and what I wanted to do with my life in general, but my delusions of grandeur and fantasies of becoming a musician or filmmaker or whatever--and my own immaturity--prevented me from doing anything other than running on the collision course I was already on. I had zero clue as to what I was going to do with my life, and the only solution I could find was to get married right after college and pray about it later.

Which led to a bad marriage, which I escaped with dead-end jobs and fantasizing that my life was somehow more important than it actually was, because I was constantly living in delusions of grandeur. I then got caught up in another religion--Judaism--to which I began studying and practicing during the worst and last years of my ill-fated first marriage. I've written a whole essay on that experience, which I will someday post on the Web whenever I get up the chutzpah. My divorce, more dead-end jobs, and a final meltdown in the Czech Republic on a volunteer trip gone wrong finally, exhaustingly led me to a period of stasis and simply taking time out to breathe and grow, finally, into a woman at age 27.

By the time I had met my future husband now, I had already started to pick up the pieces and rebuild my life. I got a decent ground-level, if unglamorous and temporarily unfulfilling, job as a technical writer, shared a house with several women, and just stopped to listen to my heart and my own clear vision for life as it was for awhile. And yes, I also sought counseling and medication, which I realize now would have benefited me tremendously had I started taking it ten years or so earlier. I learned to build solid friendships with good people I admire and love, learned to give of myself and try to make a difference in other peoples' lives, and learned to live in the world as it existed and not how an ancient text defined it for me.

At last month's YearlyKOS, I attended a forum on how secular and religious progressives could work together to achieve mutual progressive goals. I was heartened to listen to one of the young speakers (name withheld for confidentiality), who was an evangelical Christian who was newly leaving her right-wing background and church community, but not her faith. She insisted that we "long-timers" in the secular/religious coalition of progressives treat newcomers like her gently, because, as she put it, "we need a soft landing."

I thought about her remarks for a long while after that forum, and I have to admit I was initially put off by her seemingly childlike request. When I lost my addiction to faith and the perceived need for it, it was anything BUT a "soft landing," but more like the cold, hard reality of being an adult and accepting things you sometimes don't want to hear. However, I had to feel compassion for her, because at least on a distant level, I really did know what she was going through.

My husband and I are also in the process of adopting out of the foster-care system. We don't know which child or children we will eventually call our son/s and/or daughter/s, but we've learned the painful, heartbreaking stories of what untold numbers of children in the foster system have gone through: sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, starvation, abandonment, homelessness, and woefully more. What kind of parents would we be if we didn't give them a permanent escape from that landscape of misery? What kind of parents would we be if we didn't give them a firm foundation, yet safe and comfortable and loving place to come home to? A soft landing, if you will? At the end of the day, isn't that what being liberal is all about? Realizing that we are in this same boat of mortal Earth, and wouldn't our temporary and precious lives be the better for it if we gave one another a "soft landing" in some form or another?

So that, in a cavernous nutshell, is what worries me about the erosion of separation of church and state, and is why I will fight like hell in my lifetime to prevent a resurgence of the poisoned ideals that brought us right-wing megachurches and George W. Bush. Although the popularity of the Republican Party and its Religious Right-triggered "hot-button" culture-war issues is starting to wane, I don't think I can rest comfortably in the knowledge that the Religious Right's influence is gone and over. In other words, I don't think I can ever rest comfortably, because fundamentalists and their narrow, myopic view of how all of us should live by their strictures will always be with us, like it or not. Yes, they present a narrow minority, and their influence is proving to be wearing thin on future generations; but as David Kuo so aptly puts it, we discount the fringes' all-consuming drive and their patience of Job at our peril, because their continual failures to transform our society will only make them hungrier.

Originally posted to on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 05:23 AM PDT.

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  •  Tips for one who's been there and come out on the (273+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, clyde, Alumbrados, Susan S, JWC, sj, oldpro, CJB, Cowalker, Radiowalla, Rob Mac K, Buckeye BattleCry, vivacia, Liberal Thinking, Dump Terry McAuliffe, catfish, BigOkie, pelican, Emerson, tommurphy, Shockwave, simaramis, billlaurelMD, mlharges, tacet, bellatrys, GayHillbilly, eeff, NCrefugee, azale, x, shpilk, Matilda, object16, HL Mungo, LIsoundview, Eternal Hope, shermanesq, Boston Boomer, Mary Julia, megs, SecondComing, undercovercalico, ellefarr, CoolOnion, peace voter, moiv, mrblifil, otto, roses, House, exconservative, MadEye, thingamabob, splashy, dmsilev, lirtydies, Boris Godunov, aitchdee, hhex65, dejavu, psnyder, nancelot, SadTexan, oldjohnbrown, Miss Jones, johnfire, GW Chimpzilla, johanus, exiledfromTN, hairspray, noveocanes, renaissance grrrl, rockhound, onemadson, Buzzer, alizard, 4jkb4ia, Exurban Mom, ChiGirl88, zerelda, side pocket, bobnbob, Wife of Bath, ScienceMom, Steven D, TexasLefty, cartwrightdale, kd texan, macmcd, vivens fons, greeseyparrot, dvx, rapala, soros, Fabian, chumley, historys mysteries, sandblaster, radarlady, escapee, Lizzie Jane, ghengismom, Owl of Minerva, bellevie, blueyedace2, fiestygrrl, asskicking annie, auditor, SherwoodB, ESkog, Mad Mom, mjd in florida, irate, PBen, Militarytracy, Alice Venturi, tgray, TN yellow dog, Thorby Baslim, ChemBob, amRadioHed, cfk, Pam from Calif, EconAtheist, figlet, dunderhead, lotlizard, Ice Blue, blue jersey mom, western star, rb608, The Raven, Rosemary, word is bond, Ekaterin, ohcanada, tigerdog, Erevann, kkjohnson, justrock, grada3784, liberalsouth, simplicio, Asinus Asinum Fricat, Ian H, howth of murph, Strawberrybitch, ThaliaR, surferal, Coherent Viewpoint, Paul Ferguson, mbzoltan, PeaceBot, Topaz7, Shirl In Idaho, esquimaux, trashablanca, BachFan, PatsBard, Kingsmeg, emeraldmaiden, ameri, stonemason, Ellicatt, Yellow Canary, victoria2dc, Hear Our Voices, Sagittarius, Loonesta, Naniboujou, Junior Bug, Fraggle, tecampbell, StrayCat, Lashe, agnostic, funluvn1, Barry Leonardini, fatdave, paul2port, Caoimhin Laochdha, FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph, BalkanID, plf515, armadillo, CTLiberal, Jjc2006, bl968, myrealname, quantumspin, ChapiNation386, dirkster42, rage, means are the ends, RantNRaven, katasstrophy, Statusquomustgo, AmySmith, FrankieB, Mr Horrible, kidneystones, Temmoku, sea note, illusionmajik, Pandoras Box, cpresley, DBunn, eastmt, One Pissed Off Liberal, J Royce, john07801, marykk, BeninSC, Buckeye Hamburger, Cronesense, Trim Your Bush, indy2dem, jetskreemr, lemming22, yoduuuh do or do not, karmsy, LisaR, Owllwoman, chigh, Matt Z, Jimdotz, DWG, joyful, java4every1, Uncle Cosmo, davehouck, gatordem, mudslide, cdale777, jnhobbs, rovertheoctopus, MaskedKat, madgranny, Bikemom, lonelyutahdem15, bluesweatergirl, LAMaestra, gizmo59, MyBrainWorks, brouski, dotster, scooter in brooklyn, Unique Material, Wes Opinion, Residentcynic, minerva1157, State Department, North Country Dem, beltane, peaceloveandkucinich, TH Seed, NogodsnomastersMary, SaMx, asius, Shaviv, Readrock, LaFajita, SpamNunn, luckylizard, ShainZona, DixieDishrag, Goodbye Kitty, kissydee, angelino, toom, SethO, Kanamit

    other side. Not to sound melodramatic, but I hope my story serves as a warning for what often is and could be...

    Shop for pearls from a Union Democrat - my aunt Maryjane's Sea of Pearls!

    by boofdah on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 05:19:26 AM PDT

  •  Be not afraid (8+ / 0-)
    The very first ammendment protects us from a government mandated theocracy.

    You'll never be required to be Catholic (or anything else) in this country.

  •  A very moving personal story (16+ / 0-)

    and I thank you for sharing it.  Guilt is a powerful force, isn't it?

    You don't know the REAL Homer! It's all burping and neglect! -- Bart Simpson

    by Pandoras Box on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 05:29:03 AM PDT

      •  On religion (23+ / 0-)
        Get a copy of Alan Watts' "psychotherapy east and west". It talks about how religions use the carrot & stick approach to insure their survival.
        On one hand:
        Horrible things will happen to you when you die! You are guilty and have been a bad person! You have transgressed the laws of our religion and are doomed! You are unworthy and cannot "save" your self!
        On the other:
        We have the answer and no one else does- and if they do, they are wrong because they don't believe the way we do. All you need to do is to have faith and follow our leaders without questions. We have the one true God and can tell you how he/ she thinks- you can't. The only way to be "saved" is to believe our way. Our members are like you, come join.

        What almost all religions, especially the western ones, have in common is salvation by "the other". That is- you cannot save / liberate yourself- you must have a "leader" tell you how to do it. God is always "up there' or "over there" or "on the other side". By setting up this "other" they create a conflict between "flesh" & spirit. Then they hang their whole dogma on this and dump it on you, so you will feel weak and needy and fall into their religion.
        As long as a person understand the framework of their religion and sees their religion as a social institution, they will do fine. It's Ok to believe or not in supreme entity,a s long as you don't fall for the dogma.

        I had a cousin that was a Catholic priest. He was a bit too smart, and saw the ways Catholicism had to keep its members. But he really loved the essence of his religion- the emphasis on the teachings of Christ & helping others, and that is what he focused on. I will never forget something he told me one day: "You know, the Catholics may not be right about everything, but they put on a hell of a show."

        Illegitimus non carborundum

        by azureblue on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 06:23:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Guilt AND fear (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rebecca, boofdah, Pandoras Box

      Both insidious tools for any religion.

      It's rough out here on the campaign trail: kissing hands, shaking babies. ... Pat Paulsen

      by Trim Your Bush on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 01:05:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Powerful story, told well (16+ / 0-)

    Thank you, boofdah. Congratulations on your long path of trial and self-realization! Not many could do what you have done.

    Best of luck in all of your future endeavors, including the adoption! Please keep us updated!

    "The opposite of war isn't peace, it's CREATION." _ Jonathan Larson, RENT

    by BeninSC on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 05:32:07 AM PDT

  •  Guilt is a powerful emotion. (17+ / 0-)

    The Church Doctrine uses that guilt to keep people in the Church. I was somewhat like you during my teen years and consumed in guilt. I to floundered for awhile and came out on the better side. I have not left religion per say but you won't find me in Church. Many find comfort in the  Church, but it consumed me too. I am now free to talk with God without the obstacle placed on me by man.

    "Though the Mills of the Gods grind slowly,Yet they grind exceeding small."

    by Owllwoman on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 05:37:04 AM PDT

  •  Peace and blessings to you (19+ / 0-)

    I happen to be a person of faith, but find the obsession with sin, judgment, and the afterlife by many Christians to be offensive.  I see nothing of Jesus in   what is preached and your experiences give me further reason to doubt their efforts.  You and your husband are practicing compassion.  I applaud you.

    A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. - Aristotle

    by DWG on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 05:37:42 AM PDT

  •  Have a Rec from a willing victim, (13+ / 0-)

    Happy? Not as much as I'd like, but much better than without faith.

    Keep yours in whatever form it takes.

    Nice diary.

  •  Wish I could double recommend (32+ / 0-)

    I am a recovering alcoholic, as well as being gay.  Unlike you, I still have a belief in God, but in a way that many of the religion-sniffers would choke on; they'd lump me right in with the athiests, I'm sure.

    I find that religion actually blocks me off from any sense of God in my life.  I know a lot of people who don't feel like it does that for them and more power to them for that, but I am not one who can find any comfort in organized religion.  The weaponized Bible verses don't help at all; in fact, all they do is drive me further away.

    I'm just glad I'm out of that straitjacket church I grew up in and free of the petulant temper-tantrum throwing deity that so many of these churches find so appealing.

    Mr. Bush - Tear down your wall!!

    by grada3784 on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 05:45:09 AM PDT

    •  I love your description in your last para: (25+ / 0-)

      I'm just glad I'm out of that straitjacket church I grew up in and free of the petulant temper-tantrum throwing deity that so many of these churches find so appealing.

      "Petulant temper-tantrum-throwing deity"--ahahaha, so true!

      IMO it is so pathetic that two mere hot-button/culture-war issues, abortion and same-sex marriage--which really should be none of anyone else's business anyway as they revolve around a person's sexual health and happiness--make right-wing/Fundie "Christians" feel as if they're somehow "more Christian" or more worthy of being close to God than others who don't share their Draconian and often bigoted views.

      It's an appalling insinuation that someone like John Kerry is not a "real Catholic" or Barack Obama is not a "real Christian" because they happen to be pro-choice--or that someone like Andrew Sullivan, a deeply religious and committed conservative (!!!), is not a "real Christian" because he happens to be gay and married. The right-wing so-called "Christians" who make such attacks on people within the HUGE and diverse community of Christianity should honestly be ashamed of themselves.

      •  It's real simple: (14+ / 0-)

        My (sense of) God has a very healthy self-respect, not the inferiority complex that so many religions assume.  Nor does a God who was capable of creating a universe of the magnitude we see need any human instruction.

        It is said that alcoholics are egomaniacs with inferiority complexes; couldn't the same be said of religion's view of God?

        Mr. Bush - Tear down your wall!!

        by grada3784 on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 06:03:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I had a near death experience 42 years ago (16+ / 0-)

        that changed me from Southern Baptist (as my family has been for many generations) to simply a spiritual being with Buddhist tendencies.  My 90-year-old Southern Baptist mother who is a puella asked me how I could know right from wrong if I don't go to church for guidance.  I told her the same way everybody else does.  If you do something that harms others, it is wrong.  If it does not harm anybody or anything, it does not make any difference.  She continued by asking if I shouldn't just say that I believe in Jesus Christ as my personal savior in case she is right and I am wrong.  I laughed and said that she seemed to be saying that I would be improved in her eyes if I were a hypocrite in addition to not being a Christian.  It seems to me that her life has been one of anxiety and insecurity in her profession of faith.  And, of course, because one cannot continually maintain blind faith with never a question the fear of death and eternal damnation is a constant.  I have always wished I could convey my internal knowledge that death is not the end but merely a dropping away of the material body to those I love but it is simply not possible so I support their beliefs for the comfort and companionship it brings to them.  But I must admit that I quietly express my personal beliefs to my grandchildren so they will know that there are other ways to serve that are outside organized religion.

        •  How did the event change you into a Buddhist? (4+ / 0-)

          What was the nature of the insight that you received that led you down the path to Buddhism? (It seems unlikely that becoming a Buddhist was similar to Saul on the road to Tarsus.)

          •  It caused me to "know" that material things do (10+ / 0-)

            not matter to my "Self" thus non-attachment is the attitude to strive for.  As I said, I am not a Buddhist but do practice those aspects of Buddhism that seem most meaningful to my own spiritual path.

            Unlike Saul on the road to Tarsus, my NDE caused me to "know" that our spirit remains the same throughout eternity and that we remain essentially unchanged in death except that the heaviness of the material body is dropped away.  I also see "life" as the "hell" that is described in the Bible because our material life on Earth is where we experience the Karma we have created.  I believe in reincarnation and take responsibility for the difficulties in my life to understand what purpose they serve or in what way I am satisfying my own Karma.

            I do not believe in an anthropomorphic god who sits on a throne and judges.  I believe in a god that is simply an energy force that moves toward good.  I believe that all personalities are fragments of god that expresses the purpose of being able to experience a material existence.  I also believe that the universe, the earth, and all things are from that original energy source and are sacred.  I believe that we have daily guidance if we allow ourselves to feel whether we are moving with the current toward good or across the current with great difficulty.  There is nothing "wrong" with moving across the current, it is just more difficult.

            This belief system has served me well for over 40 years but I do not advocate it as the only or even the best faith.  It is simply my faith.

            •  "All that is born must die, (7+ / 0-)

              work hard on freedom from your sorrow" is one of my favorite Buddha quotes and helps a great deal with my feral/wild cat rescue work. However, I still struggle with my mom's death.

              Thanks for an interesting perspective macmcd.  And you sound like a practicing buddhist to me!  It is a very big tent!

              •  The death of a loved one is such loss to us who (6+ / 0-)

                are left behind.  My dad died in 1981 and whenever I hear a man whistling a wonderful tune, my heart catches because it reminds me of him so much.  I believe that he must have lived a very good life because he had had fairly good health and just had a heart attack one Sunday afternoon and was gone in an instant.  He was 67 (my age now) and he did not linger or suffer.  I am not saying that others who do linger and suffer are less good people but, rather, that they experience spiritual growth in a different way.  

                Thank you for the suggestion that I sound like a practicing buddhist.  That is a touching compliment.

              •  To the Chinese, white represents winter, death, (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                moiv, macmcd, boofdah

                and old age.

                White is also the color of a job well done, and of the joy your grandchildren bring you.

                Life to an Eastern mystic is a circle, not a straight line.

                Quinctilius Varus, give me back my legions.

                by Ice Blue on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 06:23:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  The divine is in everything and everybody (3+ / 0-)

              It's counter-intuitive that "men of God" continue to have so little regard for the environment or for the well-being of people.

              It's the hypocrisy of such actions that makes the Buddha so much more appealing.

              It's rough out here on the campaign trail: kissing hands, shaking babies. ... Pat Paulsen

              by Trim Your Bush on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 01:28:19 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  My uncle had an opposite reaction (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          boofdah, yoduuuh do or do not

          He was a police officer, retiring as a lieutenant, who was shot in the line of duty. He drove his cruiser into the line of fire to protect his partner.

          He was shot through the upper arm, and the bullet stopped just millimeters short of his heart, and glass fragments came within a hair of blinding him.

          He went from a southern Baptist to a true convert almost overnight. My aunt also was born-again.

          They left their good jobs and opened a religious bookstore. They never stopped preaching. Our families lived a few miles apart, but the issue drove a wedge between us.

          It's rough out here on the campaign trail: kissing hands, shaking babies. ... Pat Paulsen

          by Trim Your Bush on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 01:22:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It does not sound as if he was out of body but (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            was, instead, scared "straight."  I don't know and don't judge your uncle; however, a true "near death experience" causes movement toward acceptance of all spiritual paths and away from fundamentalism of all sorts in my personal experience and of what I know of others and of those whose experiences I have read.  I do not know of a one who moved toward a charismatic path.  Like I say, I don't know anything about your relatives but it sounds like they are really afraid of death which is the opposite of the NDE that I know about.

  •  Powerful diary. thank you. n/t (5+ / 0-)
  •  I've been an atheist as long (16+ / 0-)

    as I've been able to think about it - since maybe age 5.  There are good people of faith, but faith also destroys many people.

    Good diary, and glad you survived

    •  That implies people who are agnostic or atheist (14+ / 0-)

      have no faith. That is a false assumption to make. I think boofdah wrote a very compelling diary about guilt and religion. However, there is one thing about religion us non-religionists should consider as well as religionists, religion and faith is a very personal thing. What works for some, may not work for others. We get insulted everytime a Christian proselytizes to us or tries to lay that going to hell bs on us. However, we insult them as well everytime we try to knock their beliefs and faith just because we experienced our own hell within religion. Most of the time, it is not the religion that destroys something in us, it's our own demons and psychological make-up. Religion can be an aphrodisiac and demon, but it has also enriched the lives of many. Gandhi, King and Schweitzer are just examples of people who enriched all our lives through their religious convictions. Do blame religionists for how some practice it and try to use guilt to control others. Blame the person.

      •  I should have wrote, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        do not blame the religion, blame the person.

      •  As an atheist I am not a person of faith (12+ / 0-)

        An atheist with faith is no atheist.

        •  Interesting topic for a debate! (5+ / 0-)

          I'd like to see a debate on the difference between "faith" and being uplifted by the lives of people like Ghandi.

          I like atheists.  The debates are lively, thought-provoking and never end up in a war that you ask other people's kids to fight.

        •  My wife is an atheist, I am agnostic (11+ / 0-)

          we are both people of faith. I have faith in my work, the universe, the harmonics of nature, as does my wife. The only difference is I call myself agnostic because I hedge my bets, she calls herself atheist because she doesn't.

          •  tazz that is different. (6+ / 0-)

            your work, the universe, nature, and your wife are all tangible. they exist.

            God is not/does not. to believe in something intangible is faith and typically associated with a believe in the supernatural.

            I am an avid hiker who loves nature. I also love my research and my work and my family and my pets.

            but I am not a person of faith.  

            •  Go ahead and prove that any (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              macmcd, cpresley

              of those things exist.

              But, in addition, some of the things mentioned are not tangible.  "Nature" is not tangible, it's an abstraction; similarly with work.  The universe as a whole is very hard to 'tange'.  

              •  I beg to differ and so would (6+ / 0-)

                most scientists, including biologists, physicists, cosmologists, astroners, and chemists.

                the universe is indeed real and does exist, so does nature - there are universal rules of nature can be tested.

                You can also see and measure the results of your labor.

                I appreciate what your trying to say, but I think the critical difference lies in science and what can be tested and what cannot. I agree with Richard Dawkins that "God" should also be put to the test.

                •  I invite you to visit the astronaut, Edgar (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  Mitchell's Institute of Noetic Science website as well as the associated website, "Shift in Action."  Then watch the movie "What the Bleep" and see that many "hard" scientists may not actually agree 100% with you.

                •  The universe is probably real (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  but what is it?  By my definition (I don't buy into the multiple universe thing) the 'universe' is everything that exists.  Well, clearly, by definition, 'everything that exists' exists.  But is it tangible?  Little bits of it are tangible....I can feel the keys I am typing, hear the TV show my son is watching, smell the air, etc.

                  But the universe as a whole?  Where would you go to look at it?

                  Is religion different from science? Absolutely.  I agree with you there.

                  Is everything that science studies 'tangible' no.  Theories aren't tangible.  

                  Moreover, if I say, "I have faith in my wife's fidelity" then I am using faith in a perfectly acceptable way, and about something that is intangible as well.

                  Now, should God be put to the same test as science?  Even though I am an atheist, I don't think that is appropriate.  I think God should be put to the same test as love.  If it helps you make the world better, it's good.  If it hinders you, it's bad.

                  I'd like to thank you for this exchange, as I just had the insight in the last paragraph.....It crystallized a lot of what I've been feeling about God for a long time.

              •  Fall out of a tree (4+ / 0-)

                and then tell me "nature" is not tangible.

                The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

                by NCrefugee on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 08:11:42 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Carl Sagan was similar in "faith" (9+ / 0-)

            He didn't believe in the Christian notion of eternal life, but wrote in very uplifting terms about eternal life on the molecular level.  Human beings naturally gravitate towards philosophies that point to a life beyond this one, because we think very highly of ourselves and can't believe this is all there is!

            •  Sagan's view was a funny yet tortuous one (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CoolOnion, tgray, LaFajita

              I remember his sense of his own duality, of the detached observer in conflict with his own interpretation of spirituality - it almost defined the man, these internal conversations.

              socialist democratic progressive pragmatic idealist with a small d.

              by shpilk on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 08:11:29 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Professor Sagan was definitely a man of faith (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                and I think you do his life's work a great disservice by trying to analyze or debate his faith. Faith is not just something people have that deals with deity, faith is the passion anyone has in their own beliefs and belief system. When you condemn people for having faith in anything, you start to claim you have ABSOLUTE knowledge of other people. You don't. You only know yourself. If you choose to not have passion in anything, that's your choice and your business. Carl had a deep seated passion and faith in his science as fervently as any Christian ever had in their religion.

                •  Your confusing a having sense of awe, (6+ / 0-)

                  reverence or spirituality with "faith". To have faith, unless you want to define the word so loosely that it looses all meaning, is to accept the existence of something for which there is no evidence. (The very antithesis of science.)

                •  A dissserice? (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Rebecca, tgray

                  Sagan would disagree wholeheartedly on that.

                  Analyzing and debate was his very core of his existence. Even if it was about him and his motivations; his sense of duality evokes the same which is resident in my mind.

                  socialist democratic progressive pragmatic idealist with a small d.

                  by shpilk on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 09:57:26 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  So I guess you knew him personally, (0+ / 0-)
                    •  Hmm (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Rex Freedom

                      Life is but a momentary glimpse of the wonder of this astonishing universe, and it is sad to see so many dreaming it away on spiritual fantasy. [Carl Sagan]

                      If we long to believe that the stars rise and set for us, that we are the reason there is a Universe, does science do us a disservice in deflating our conceits?....For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. [Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark]

                      The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. But if by God one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying... it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity. [Carl Sagan]

                      You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep seated need to believe. [Dr. Arroway in Carl Sagan's Contact (New York: Pocket Books, 1985]

                      The major religions on the Earth contradict each other left and rightYou can't all be correct. And what if all of you are wrong? It's a possibility, you know. You must care about the truth, right? Well, the way to winnow through all the differing contentions is to be skeptical. I'm not any more skeptical about your religious beliefs than I am about every new scientific idea I hear about. But in my line of work, they're called hypotheses, not inspiration and not revelation. [Dr. Arroway in Carl Sagan's Contact (New York: Pocket Books, 1985), p. 162. ]

                      Do you?

                      Quotations on Freethought and Religion

                      ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

                      by Rebecca on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 02:37:37 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Yes, I am a retired college teacher (0+ / 0-)

                        who taught scientific method.

                      •  Secondly, the discourse is about faith (0+ / 0-)

                        not whether Carl believed in any religion. Faith is defined by the individual who has it or doesn't have it, not by the Atheist who only can speak for him/herself.

                        •  Your definition of faith is so broad as to be (0+ / 0-)


                          ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

                          by Rebecca on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 04:43:32 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Thank you (0+ / 0-)

                            I always appreciate having someone state how meaningless my individual definition of my faith is.

                          •  Look you can have your own individual (0+ / 0-)

                            definitions if you want.  When you use them to other people they may just expect them to mean something different then you want them to.

                            'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'

                            'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

                            'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.'

                            ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

                            by Rebecca on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 05:50:30 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

        •  Depends, I think, on faith in what (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tgray, boofdah

          Atheism and agnosticism relate only to faith in God or some form of Deity.  That's a pretty narrow definition.

          I was using 'people of faith' as a term for religious people.  I shouldn't have done that.

          •  Trust is another way to express faith. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            boofdah, plf515

            But I still think you used the term in an appropriate and universally accepted way, especially in a diary about religion.

            Of course we can also express our "faith" in another human being as "trust," but that is much different than to say one has "trust in God/Allah/Zeus"

            Our partner gives us good reason, or not, to trust them. This type of trust is based on everyday actions. (evidence)

            there is no evidence for a supernatural diety that I know of. Yet some people keep their faith while others, like myself find it impossible to do so.

            BTW, I am not passing any judgement one way or the other. For years and years I tried like heck to have faith, but you can't force something like that. Again, I am not a person of faith - in the supernatural, for which there is no evidence. Is that better? :)

        •  That totally depends on the individual (0+ / 0-)

          why stereotype just because you don't believe in anything. All atheists have their own way and their passions. You speak for yourself, try not to speak for others. You can be an absolutist for yourself, you make an absolute statement upon others you don't know. Are you the keeper and authority on all Atheists and Agnostics? I didn't know there is a Bible or canonical laws that all Atheist have to abide by. I can't call myself an Atheist or Agnostic because you say I can't?

        •  It seems to me that it takes "faith" in atheism (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AndyT, boofdah

          to be an atheist.

          •  Someone always raises that canard, see: (4+ / 0-)
          •  Since atheism is nothing but a non-belief (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tgray, NogodsnomastersMary

            There is nothing to have faith in.  I have no faith in Zeus, Juno, Thor, Mithra, Osiris, Isis or any of the other gods that have been discarded through the ages.  I also have no faith in any of the gods that are currently popular.  I won't have any faith in any god that comes up in the future and becomes popular if one does.  

            I don't have faith in any vaguely defined god that has no effect on the real world that we can show scientifically or that we only have anecdotal evidence for that comes only from people who already believe.

            Now if as in many of the fantasy novels I love to read a god shows up and actually does something that we can see, hear or document in some rational way then I'll believe but then that won't be faith either because with proof there is no need for faith.  

            I have no faith in unicorns, goblins, fairies, orcs, giants, phoenixes or any of the other fantastic creatures that populate our mythologies and fiction.  If one happens to turn up I'll change my mind about believing in them.  

            Was it faith when scientists looked at the fossil remains of of a fish and decided that it was extinct?  But then it turned up.  Should they now say that all the extinct species should not be called extinct because we may just find a few out of the very many that are extinct may not be?  The faithful because they work on evidence instead of signs of things unseen, unheard and defined so there can be no proof.   I don't care if you choose to have faith.  Just please don't redefine the word faith to be so vague as to be meaningless.

            ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

            by Rebecca on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 10:53:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Exactly! (3+ / 0-)

              I don't care if you choose to have faith.  Just please don't redefine the word faith to be so vague as to be meaningless.

              I could not have said this any better. thank you.

            •  But that's YOUR opinion (0+ / 0-)

              you don't live my life or my wife's. If you don't have faith in anything, define yourself, you can't define who I am or if I or my wife have any faith.

              •  No I don't live your life and you don't live mine (0+ / 0-)

                What does that have to do with your choosing to define faith so broadly it doesn't mean anything anymore?

                From the comment I responded to:

                It seems to me that it takes "faith" in atheism to be an atheist.

                What is an atheist?  A person who does not believe in god.  

                Faith means believing in something without evidence.  

                Show me the evidence for god.  The problem with saying that it takes faith to be an atheist is that we all have no faith in multitudes of things as I stated in my comment you responded to.  You have things you don't have faith in.  It's only when we start talking about god that people start saying that it takes faith to believe that there is no god when there is no evidence or probability that one exists.  

                Now faith has a different definition for the faith we have in trusting various people in our lives.  Many people have faith their parents will always be there for them. Which is basically a faith that things will go on as they have before.  Some people have faith that nothing can go right.  They are saying the exact same thing.  Things never go right for me and I expect them to go on the same as they have always gone.

                This is not what we are talking about here.  We are talking about believing in things with no proof.  Now if you want to have your own individual definition of faith that's fine.  Just don't expect everyone else to agree with you.

                ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

                by Rebecca on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 06:14:46 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  I don't quite agree (5+ / 0-)

        I like boofdah's comparison of alcohol and faith.  For many people, alcohol is fine.  I like a drink myself.  For others, it is dangerous.  My brother is a recovering alcoholic.

        Similarly, for many people, faith is OK.  But for others it is toxic.

      •  I don't believe in a supreme being (4+ / 0-)

        but I have faith. My faith is in the basic goodness and intelligence of the human community, when given a chance, all human beings are capable of living as meaningful supportive members in a world community.

        If one were to ask me to define it, I guess I have to say I never thought about it before.

        Perhaps, the sacraments of my 'church' are knowledge, and the ability to pass along that knowledge, the teachers of the world are it's priests and priestesses.

        Don't need a god for that faith.

        socialist democratic progressive pragmatic idealist with a small d.

        by shpilk on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 08:08:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You are absolutely correct. I have believed (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        for a long time that there are many theologies because each individual seeks the theology that meets his  personal inner needs.  I also believe that spirituality is a practice of living in unison with all others, the environment, and the universe.  It is as if religion is in living in right relationship with all that is and that all of the theologies may be paths that lead to that spiritual religion.  OTOH they may also entrap the troubled and lead them astray but since life is a time of learning, every twist and turn the spiritual path takes is another aspect of knowledge that allows the seeker to advance spiritually in this lifetime.

      •  Singular blame (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Do blame religionists for how some practice it and try to use guilt to control others. Blame the person.

        This removes the blame for the problems of various religions and places it on each person.  As I read down these comments I see again and again how it is the institutionalization of religion that can cause severe problems, I also see that certain religions focusing on specific beliefs leads to severe problems.  To blame the person singular who is caught up in a cultural, societal and institutional problem is to look away from the real problem.  These specific religions that are working so hard to destroy our secular democracy are not the fault of any one person.  These specific religions and churches that teach destructive beliefs on the personal level are not the fault of any one person.  It is the beliefs themselves that are destructive and the institutions behind them that continue to keep these destructive beliefs alive.  This is one reason we need to be able to criticize religious beliefs.  When there is no criticism of religious beliefs from a misguided belief that criticizing religion is anti-religion we end up with the situation where we are now.  People working together to make their beliefs the only beliefs allowed and many of those beliefs are bizarre and completely irrational.  

        Read how hard it was for these people to walk away from the destructive beliefs that were hurting them.  Is it so hard to understand that the people who stay are just like them only not able to walk away?  The beliefs and many of them historical beliefs are hard to leave.  It's not an individual problem anymore than the Republican/conservative problem we have here is an individual problem.  It's an institutional problem.

        Note: I am not talking here about religious organizations that have healthy people oriented beliefs.  I'm talking about the ones of the Christianist type that don't look at the effects of their beliefs on real human people.  

        ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

        by Rebecca on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 10:26:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  All religions are based on common decency (0+ / 0-)

        to all things. If you have that attitude, you are living a virtuous life.

        That does not have to take place in a church, synagogue, mosque. It can happen at the family dinner table, or anywhere else people interact.

        It's rough out here on the campaign trail: kissing hands, shaking babies. ... Pat Paulsen

        by Trim Your Bush on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 01:31:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Steven Weinberg, (23+ / 0-)

    American Nobel laureate in physics, once pointed out that for good people to do good things is normal, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.

    I could have been a soldier... I had got part of it learned; I knew more about retreating than the man that invented retreating. --Mark Twain

    by NogodsnomastersMary on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 06:00:42 AM PDT

  •  Wonderful blog (23+ / 0-)

    I too was raised in with a Catholic upbringing. My mother was very religous, but unlike yours, had a rebellious streak a mile wide. She had eight children and then starting using birth control. When she confessed this fact to the priest, he started scolding her for practicing the "Sin of Onan".  Well she started scolding him right back stating that it was she and not he who was responsible for raising and paying for her children and what right did he have to accuse her. I think it was around that time that we were no longer required to go to church.

    However, despite that, I was caught up in the "Jesus Movement" in the 70's and it almost destroyed me. I will NEVER forget the feelings of depression that swept over me minute by minute, hour by hour and day by day. To this day I'm surprised I didn't try to commit suicide. I use that time as a guage to measure my suffering by and NOTHING I have experienced since then compares.
    Anyway, if you're in search of genuine spiritual enlightenment that is personal and not burdened by dogma or guilt I would recommend Zen Buddhism.

    Also I'm reading a great book by Sam Harris called "The End of Faith". It's a good book to read that will bolster you're faith in your own observations about religion. Good luck on your journey.

    The greatest threat to personal freedom comes from ones own government.

    by Mark701 on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 06:13:31 AM PDT

  •  You speak for many. Who said Kos was only for (12+ / 0-)

    politics. It is really becoming a community in the real sense of it. Thanks for your sincerity and for sharing this.

    Wow. My wife is a Buddhist from Tibet and her family history resembles yours. I can also relate to your story and I hope it helps others.

    But there are certain aspect of religion that should not be misconstrued such as the commandment to "Love thy neighbor as you love thy self".

  •  Faith is mental illness. (7+ / 0-)

    Reason, analysis of empirical evidence and science can explain (or at least effectively address) virtually everything in the physical universe around us. Two thousand years ago, perhaps religion was necessary to help illiterate humans contending with a frightening and mysterious world. The European enlightenment revealed a better way, and the founding fathers of this country followed the same spirit of empiricism and reason in crafting a government that addressed the realities of human nature.

    Today the looney religious right is trying to rewrite history and claim that the founding fathers were basically fundamentalists. This turns reality on its head. I guess you could call it history for Bushites.

    •  And there you have it (22+ / 0-)

      Faith is mental illness.

      I've now been called insane, ignorant, stupid, and several other phrases just in the last few weeks.  Why?  Because I believe in G-d.

      People, I don't have anything bad to say about atheists, agnostics, universalists, or anyone else, frankly, other than Republicans.  Can we please refrain from the "You must be stupid, you believe in G-d" comments?

      As a side note, none of the Democrats that I've personally worked at getting elected, dating back to Howard Metzenbaum, noticed my mental illness, in spite of the fact that I wear a kippah and tzitzit, so I guess I must hide it well.

      And, please note, to all who choose to reply to this, that the commenter above did not say "The Religious Right are Insane", or "Religious Fundamentalists are Insane".  He said: "Faith is Mental Illness".

      "Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind." - Albert Einstein

      by dfb1968 on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 06:33:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with you--the commenter above... (10+ / 0-) out of line in lumping all people of faith with a group of insane theocrats who really are mad (with power) (albeit he did make some good points about how the Religious Right has perverted history for its own ends).

        Overgeneralizing is never a good thing--whether we do it or the Fundocrats do it.

      •  I meant that in a good way. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        revenant, ChemBob, boofdah, 0wn

        Okay, it's a bit snarky. But all objective evidence supports the notion that faith in a nebulous higher power (one whose purported existence is carefully defined so as to require absolutely no objective proof) is a transitional stage in human development, sort of like walking before you can run. I like to think that in a few hundred years, if we haven't destroyed ourselves with nuclear weapons or global warming, humans will look back at religion the way we look back at human sacrifice. Or bell-bottoms.

        •  I'm reminded of an old TV line (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AndyT, Fabian, boofdah, Junior Bug, dirkster42

          In what context is 'You're an asshole' a good thing?

          (I wish I could remember what show that was from)

          How exactly is "You're mentally ill if you believe in G-d" a good thing?

          The rest of what you just said in your reply I disagree with, but at least it was said with some respect.  Why on Earth would you feel it necessary to begin your first comment with "Faith is Mental Illness"?

          "Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind." - Albert Einstein

          by dfb1968 on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 07:03:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  "all objective evidence?" (5+ / 0-)

          How do you define "objective?"  Your belief that there is no God is a statement of faith--faith that nothing exists that cannot be perceived by your senses in your infinitessimally brief lifetime.  I live and breathe and have my being in a God who sustains my every moment. How exactly is calling that mental illness (which you describe as only "a bit" snarky, so I assume that you really mean it.) any different from, say, calling someone who can never escape their skin tone a n-----, or someone who cannot escape his sexuality a f-----?  You should be ashamed.

          •  Ridiculous (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            How do you define "objective?"  Your belief that there is no God is a statement of faith--faith that nothing exists that cannot be perceived by your senses in your infinitessimally brief lifetime.

            This is ridiculous. I readily admit that there are all kinds of things in the universe that I might not understand.

            However, some kind of "god" construct is something that there is evidence for, or there is not. "Objective" evidence is some unambiguous sign that such a being exists. And every bit of "evidence" that has come up so far is explainable some other way.

            If there is no affirmative evidence for something, it cannot be believed in rationally. Once you start believing in things without evidence, the only difference between you and fundamentalists is just a matter of degree.

            •  Science fails (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              when describing the orgin of everything... matter, energy... science via m theory takes us back before the big bang, when our universe did not exist and was created by a collision between branes.

              But where did those branes come from? Science can't answer. It always comes down to something coming from nothing which science cannot explain.

              So science cannot supply anyone with a rational or objective origin. No evidence exists. Science requires faith that someday, somehow it will be explained - and that faith is a subjective opinion without any objective foundation.

              If there is no affirmative evidence for something, it cannot be believed in rationally. Once you start believing in things without evidence, the only difference between you and fundamentalists is just a matter of degree.

              Quite right. You're further away on the spectrum than I, but you are still on the same continuum.

              Yes, I was the guy in the kilt at Yearly Kos.

              by AndyT on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 11:27:44 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  But,,, (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                But where did those branes come from? Science can't answer. It always comes down to something coming from nothing which science cannot explain.

                Religion can't explain these things either, though. Science isn't a body of knowledge: is simply a method for determining the truth. Some things are too difficult to test or discover, and to these questions science honestly responds "I don't know".

                Religion, however, responds with some convoluted explanation with no support at all for unanswerable questions. Explanations that, having no support, are almost certainly wrong.

                "I don't know" trumps made-up explanations any day in my book.

              •  Not really (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Science requires faith that someday, somehow it will be explained - and that faith is a subjective opinion without any objective foundation.

                Where do you get this idea from?  Science is not going to explain every single thing we don't know.  In fact, the more we find out from science the more we find there is to know.  There was a day when the Renaissance man could indeed exist.  Now no one can claim to know that much.  

                There is just too much to learn to be a modern day Renaissance man or woman for that matter.  Just as there is too much to learn for any one person there is even more that we now know we don't know.  I have no such faith that science will explain everything. However, it is the only means we have to further our knowledge.  

                Please don't define faith so vaguely as to make the word useless.

                ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

                by Rebecca on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 02:57:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  This is a frustrating concept... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  Where do you get this idea from?  Science is not going to explain every single thing we don't know.

                  Many religious people think that atheists/scientists think that science can do all the things they claim that religion can.

                  It can't do this in many instances. The progress of science is impeded in many cases by the laws of physics, the difficulty of setting up certain experiments, and many other real-world considerations.

                  No one thinks that science will ever be able to explain everything. But it can now and will continue to be able to explain some things, which is more than religion can do.

                  •  A big part of the problem I think (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    is that most theists only know what atheists think from theistic ideas of atheists.  So they don't really know what atheists think.  

                    It's just recently that atheist writings have reached a large enough audience.  I really wonder how many of the people who attack Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens have actually read them.  I rather think most of them have read critical articles about what they wrote and haven't read the books themselves.

                    ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

                    by Rebecca on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 03:18:41 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Yes... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      ...although I have a bit of an odd idea about that. I think that most theists have incorrect ideas about what atheists think because in order to get inside the mind of an atheist, they would need to become one!

                      I think of myself, and maybe you agree maybe not, but once I understood all the concepts about atheism, i was forced to be one. This isn't by choice for me: it's just how I am once I understood the issues involved.

                      So, misunderstanding atheists and atheism might actually be almost an a priori requirement for being a theist: for the most part, if you understand atheism: you are an atheist!

                      (I'm not speaking about all theists here, but I don't think I'm off the mark here for most)

                      •  I think you do have a point (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        I searched and studied for years.  I found the more I studied a certain religion the more I couldn't believe it.
                        Finally I read something the Buddha said which was basically does it matter if there is a god or not.  That thought allowed me to stop searching.  

                        When I finally stopped looking for god and religion I could accept the world as it was.  It is strange to look back at myself then from my perspective now.  All those years looking for something that wasn't there.

                        That's probably why one of the things that irritates me most is when a theist will just assume that I don't know about religion and merely need to be educated to see the light.

                        ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

                        by Rebecca on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 04:03:18 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

              •  Maybe it was the flying spaghetti monster. (0+ / 0-)
            •  Why is it that on this site it is (0+ / 0-)

              acceptable to use ad hominem arguments against exactly one group--people of faith:

              the only difference between you and fundamentalists is just a matter of degree.

              Actually, one could say that intolerance is a greater hallmark of the right-wing fundamentalists than faith.

              •  Intolerance? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                No, there's no intolerance whatsoever here. I'm not talking down to anyone or disrespecting anyone.

                I'm just pointing out that moderate religious people's efforts to separate themselves from fundamentalists succeed on a behavioral level (e.g., what actions is this person likely to take).

                However, these efforts fail utterly on an epistemological level (from a knowledge-based perspective, moderates and fundamentalists are no different in kind, just in degree). Both are willing to not use reason to decide what to believe.

                It's just that fundamentalists are a dangerous menace whereas moderates are not generally dangerous if left to their own devices.

                But the epistemological thought processes are similar between the two.

                •  Sam Harris addresses precisely this point. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  As he explains in both The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation, fundamentalists demonstrate the lethal faults of religion "straight up", with no chaser. It's the suicide bomber, the Crusade, the Inquisition and the gallows. But the "softer" mainstream Christian religions deliver their own subtle poison to the rational thought we need to get humanity out of the corner we have painted our selves into. The ability to absolve ourselves of responsibility for our destiny by placing this in the hands of "God" may prove humanity's doom.

                  I have a friend and colleague who is a self-professed person of faith. He's a very smart professional. Despite this, his utterly irrational response to global warming not worry about it, because, and I quote, God will provide. And to fire up the SUV for a quick trip to Wal-mart.

              •  I beg to differ. (0+ / 0-)

                There is no ad hominem attack here; it's the ideas that matter. I can take issue with your insistence that there is a supernatural explanation for events in human experience, without saying anything negative about you as a person.

      •  Just to stir the pot a bit (8+ / 0-)
        But what if he's right? Faith in things that can't be touched, seen, or manipulated is a bit worrisome to me.

        I believe religions are a holdover from humanity's more primitive, insecure past. Why people still hold on to it now, I'll never know.

        I find more wonder in Google Earth's new sky feature than all the supposed wisdom in the bible.

        So, instead of taking umbrage at what the poster said, consider it carefully. You may be surprised where it takes you.

        "The chief weapon of the sea pirates was their capacity to astonish." Kurt Vonnegut

        by Thorby Baslim on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 07:10:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm more concerned with the umbrage (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          at saying those very senses are sufficient to understand the incredibly vast and enduring universe.

          •  I never claimed senses are enough (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Rebecca, Sparhawk
            but in the attempt mankind has invented rulers, telescopes, knotted rulers, microscopes, sextants, x-ray machines, atom smashers, and all the branches of mathematics (for starters), which have greatly amplified our senses and our understanding of the universe.

            They weren't deity given. Why is that?

            "The chief weapon of the sea pirates was their capacity to astonish." Kurt Vonnegut

            by Thorby Baslim on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 10:43:59 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Strangely, all of these instruments (0+ / 0-)

              are read by your senses.  But I believe that there is another way to sense reality that is read through my soul.

              And the genius that created those instruments was God-given. While I don't expect you to accept that, please accept that it is my belief.  And I ask that you acknowledge the acceptance without proof component of your system (that is, acceptance that what you perceive cannot exist) just as I accept it in mine.

          •  God of the gaps (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JuliaAnn, lonelyutahdem15, golconda2

            Basically since we can't explain it all we need to put a god in to fill the gaps.  Not good science and not good theology.

            ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

            by Rebecca on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 11:04:26 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  If that's all we use God for, then you are (0+ / 0-)

              correct on both points.

              •  Presumption of faith (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                And I ask that you acknowledge the acceptance without proof component of your system (that is, acceptance that what you perceive cannot exist)

                You're trying to make equivalences where there are none.  You say you have a soul that perceives god.  Yet huge numbers of people on this planet do not have functioning souls apparently.  They do not perceive god.  

                You are leaving probabilities out of your assumptions here.  What is the probability there is a god in the universe?  One that has no proof of it's existence except from the anecdotal stories of believers like you.  

                There are quite a few people who have anecdotal stories of being kidnapped by aliens or people who have seen aliens.  What are the probabilities that there are aliens visiting our planet and taking people for the odd things claimed by the people who tell us this.  

                As I said in my fish story above we don't have to presume something is there when there is no proof for it.  Presuming something does not exist where there is no evidence is not a use of faith.  Presuming something exists with no evidence is a use of faith.  You want to equate the two.  There is no equation because in your own life you presume the nonexistence of many things that seem improbable to you.  It's just when people presume the nonexistence of god that you get upset and want to make the presumption of nonexistence a faith based decision when it's not.  

                I have no faith in many more things than god.  But there is no reason to go around calling myself an aucornist or an afairyist because the vast majority of people on this planet presume the nonexistence of unicorns and fairies.  But try and prove that somewhere in the universe or some alternative universe there isn't a unicorn or fairy that just happens to pop into our world on certain occasions.  

                I don't care if you choose to have faith.  Just don't make the definition of faith so vague as to be useless.  

                ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

                by Rebecca on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 12:29:34 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Faith in things that can't be touched, seen, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Shirl In Idaho, dirkster42

          Can you touch the air or the wind? Can you hold sunlight in your hand? Yet you "know" it exists.

          I won't denigrate your lack of faith if you won't denigrate my acceptance of faith. People who believe have reasons for doing so.

          I'm always being accused of being 'too logical' and yet, you'd say logic and faith don't go together. How would you explain that?

          I'm the person your mother warned you about.

          by Unique Material on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 07:15:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Really? (4+ / 0-)
            But I can feel the wind in my hair and the sun can blind me. Your examples have a physical reality that can be touched. A fan can make wind and a solar panel can manipulate sunlight.

            Show me whatever it is you have faith in.

            Bet you can't!

            Have a glorious Sunday! I'm having a birthday party today!

            "The chief weapon of the sea pirates was their capacity to astonish." Kurt Vonnegut

            by Thorby Baslim on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 07:54:17 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  But There You're Wrong - (0+ / 0-)

              When I feel the Spirit moving through my heart and body; when the hairs rise up on my arms - I feel that most distinctly.

              And truly, I don't believe I'm fooling myself. What would be the point?

              And actually - you can't show me the substance. In your examples you're showing me the results of the substance that still cannot be touched.

              We could argue this all day. I'll even be nice and not ask that someday you know what I'm talking about.

              I'm the person your mother warned you about.

              by Unique Material on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 09:57:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  All those things are observable by everyone... (4+ / 0-)

                The sun and the wind you and I both agree exist because we both feel them and can observe their effects, even measure their effects, and we both would agree on the measurements.

                Only you can observe your god construct.  That's not science or rational: we could not do the same experiment with "god" and get anywhere.

              •  But that is purely personal (4+ / 0-)
                and has no reality outside of you.

                Can you honestly tell me that it isn't some form of self-deception?

                "The chief weapon of the sea pirates was their capacity to astonish." Kurt Vonnegut

                by Thorby Baslim on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 10:52:18 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  See What I mean? (0+ / 0-)

                  We could go round and round all day.

                  Some people would agree with me, others with you. In the end, it doesn't really matter.

                  Earth is big enough for all of us and I don't insist you agree with me, so why do you insist I agree with you?

                  I find that more baffling than anything.

                  I'm the person your mother warned you about.

                  by Unique Material on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 12:12:03 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Definition of faith (0+ / 0-)

                    Earth is big enough for all of us and I don't insist you agree with me, so why do you insist I agree with you?

                    I find that more baffling than anything.

                    I don't care what you believe or don't believe.  However when people, as people have been doing on this diary, say that atheists use faith just as they do they are redefining what faith is.  

                    Atheists have no faith.  All atheism is is a disbelief in god.  It's you guys who keep on insisting that we have to agree with you.  You atheists have just as much faith as we do, so there.  You find it surprising there is some disagreement with that?  

                    I don't care that you choose to have faith just don't redefine faith so vaguely that it loses it's meaning.

                    ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

                    by Rebecca on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 03:13:48 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I Never Said That (0+ / 0-)

                      You atheists have just as much faith as we do, so there.  You find it surprising there is some disagreement with that?  

                      How in the heck would I know how an atheist feels about something like that? I would never presume to imagine that I do. I won't even presume on another Christian's faith.

                      I think you're barking at the wrong tree.

                      I'm the person your mother warned you about.

                      by Unique Material on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 07:59:23 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

        •  He didn't say (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SadTexan, Junior Bug, dirkster42

          that I'm insecure, or that I'm primitive, or that I'm not being objective or scientific.  He said that I have a mental illness.

          "Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind." - Albert Einstein

          by dfb1968 on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 07:15:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  So when you say (0+ / 0-)

          Faith in things that can't be touched, seen, or manipulated is a bit worrisome to me.

          Do I take that to mean that you find things like "love" to be worrisome. . .if you suggest or say that you love someone, please prove it by some physical, touchable, and manipulatable means.

          Not meaning any disrespect, just curious how you account for things "unseen" that we claim and profess all the time.

          *the blogger formerly known as shirlstars

          by Shirl In Idaho on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 09:34:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Love... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Do I take that to mean that you find things like "love" to be worrisome. . .if you suggest or say that you love someone, please prove it by some physical, touchable, and manipulatable means.

            Love is simply an observable behavior. I could come up with some kind of objective criteria as to whether two people "love" one another, and be right almost 100% of the time just through observation.

            There is nothing (in principle) unexplainable or unobservable about "love".

            •  Not to mention the physical effects love (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              and other emotions have on the very physical body each of us have.  

              ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

              by Rebecca on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 11:10:04 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Belief in God has nothing to do with Religion. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AndyT, GW Chimpzilla, Shirl In Idaho

        I came in peace, seeking only gold and slaves

        by revenant on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 07:10:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yes (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        This is the type of attitude that turns me off to athiests. And this is the type of attitude that costs Democrats elections.

        •  I'll accept the part about turning you off. (4+ / 0-)

          But the next part is bogus.

          And this is the type of attitude that costs Democrats elections.

          Why is it that it's only the atheists who have to walk around on eggshells to make sure we don't offend any religious person ever or they won't vote democratic.  Quite frankly this is bullshit.  Every group has it's assholes and that includes the religious groups even the nice liberal ones.  

          To say that because some atheists are saying things religious people don't like they are going to give up all the other things the Democratic party stands for just so they don't have to be in the same party as that atheist who said something rude to me is absurd.  If that's all it takes we might as well pack up our party and go home.  

          ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

          by Rebecca on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 11:16:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  That comment: (9+ / 0-)

      Faith is mental illness

      is the most biased, prejudiced statement anyone can make. It is the exact same thing to this agnostic as saying, black people are genetically inferior.

    •  Not a good idea to lump all into the same RR boat (6+ / 0-)

      ...whether we do it or those on the far right of the religion-reason spectrum do it.

      You made some good points re: the history of the Enlightenment and the Religious Right's efforts to give it their Orwellian spin; but OTOH it's bad form to tar all good people who are religious--especially in the progressive religious community, where our mutual goals of justice for ALL people are the same.

    •  very broad statement (7+ / 0-)

      It's oh so much more complicated than that.
      "Faith is a mental illness" is akin to "the West is Evil" or "All Muslims are radicals".

      Religion and faith, particularly as they have worked as a foundation of social systems, are too complex for such a sweeping comment if one is trying to figure out how to deal with the very real issues of fundamentalism and radicalism.

    •  Be careful when speaking truth. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The pastel "faithy-stuff" is even more insidious than raw Christianism or Islamism.

      I came in peace, seeking only gold and slaves

      by revenant on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 07:15:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  While I agree with the concept in the body of (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rebecca, Louise, azale, SadTexan, Fabian

      what you wrote, saying 'faith is a mental illness' is not fair. Your insistence that only you know the "Way to Truth" implicated in your title points to a problem you might have integrating into society; the very definition of 'mental illness'.

      Religion is a coping mechanism, which has been abused and distorted by some people who desire to hold power over others. Religion has been in some cases turned into an instrument of human cruelty and perversion - much as happens when any individual is given absolute power over another, YMMV. Absolute power usually corrupts.

      The best parts of religion are commonwealth based ideals of a secularist community - the concept of 'love thy neighbor as thyself', with 'thy neighbor' encompassing all, regardless of race, sex, sexual preference or belief system. I have no problem with people who choose to believe in a 'supreme being', I have a problem with people who use those beliefs to hate others and be used as tools of oppression.    

      So please, stop your summary judgment of others; those who choose to believe are not crazy.

      socialist democratic progressive pragmatic idealist with a small d.

      by shpilk on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 07:59:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I find this comment offensive (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AndyT, SadTexan

      I am sorry, but I don't think that having "faith is a mental illness". And that's really insulting to the 85% of Americans who are religious. I would troll rate this comment if I had TU status. For having faith isn't an indication of "mental illness".

      •  Sorry, no offense intended... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rebecca, golconda2

        ...I'm not the original poster.

        But, you either evaluate claims based on evidence, or you do not. There is no middle ground here.

        Any deviation from the method of using empirical evidence to determine reality is simply irrational behavior, period. Once you fail to use empirical evidence and start "choosing" to believe things, the only difference between you and fundamentalists is merely a matter of degree.

    •  in the 30s, 50, late 60s and early 70s, (0+ / 0-)

      there were some studies done (you CANNOT get the funding to repeat them now) which were studying mental illness. The studies were not done by one group, nor were they searching for the same thing, but they came up with one surprising concluding (to them). When you ask the test population to self-report on the strength of religious beliefs, those with the highest levels also suffered with the greatest incidence of mental illness.

      In the United States, doing good has come to be, like patriotism, a favorite device of persons with something to sell. - Mencken

      by agnostic on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 10:11:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If that's the basis for all of this (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I'd say it's pretty weak.

        Are there any peer-reviewed, well accepted studies that say religious belief is a mental illness? Is it in the DSM-IV?

        I'm not talking schizophrenics or the like.

        I think way too much is being thrown around here without any cites, supporting information, or objective evidence.

        As for no studies being done lately, here's one:
        BBC God on the Brain - programme summary

        A quick excerpt:

        Religious evolution

        If brain function offers insight into how we experience religion, does it say anything about why we do? There is evidence that people with religious faith have longer, healthier lives. This hints at a survival benefit for religious people. Could we have evolved religious belief?

        Prof Dawkins (who subscribes to evolution to explain human development) thinks there could be an evolutionary advantage, not to believing in god, but to having a brain with the capacity to believe in god. That such faith exists is a by-product of enhanced intelligence. Prof Ramachandran denies that finding out how the brain reacts to religion negates the value of belief. He feels that brain circuitry like that Persinger and Newberg have identified, could amount to an antenna to make us receptive to god. Bishop Sykes meanwhile, thinks religion has nothing to fear from this neuroscience. Science is about seeking to explain the world around us. For him at least, it can co-exist with faith.

        •  An analysis that's missing from that assertion: (0+ / 0-)

          Mentally ill people great needs for structure, both mentally and physically. It's not surprising that they cling to whatever system helps get them through the day, and religion is it. Also, churches are often the  only institutions that seem to show a personal interest in them at all.

          Can we talk about the fact that so many churches these days seem to be the only accessible sources of help and support for so many people? We've cut back on social service funding, the old fraternal groups are practically on life support, and the benevolent associations just aren't cutting it. The megachurch folks provide ready-made community for people who don't have one, counseling for those who need it. We need to create their liberal equivalents that aren't bureaucratic in tone or structure.

          Also, considering that back in the 30's to 50's, a lot of stuff that was considered mental illness wasn't, I'll take a pass. They clearly weren't talking to King or to the Berrigans.

          A Crushie for Democracy There are two kinds of Republicans: millionaires and fools.

          by CarolDuhart on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 11:34:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  True (0+ / 0-)

            Also, considering that back in the 30's to 50's, a lot of stuff that was considered mental illness wasn't, I'll take a pass. They clearly weren't talking to King or to the Berrigans.

            It looks like even homosexuality was regarded as a psychiatric disorder until it was finally removed from the DSM in 1983 (cite)

            Like you say, much of the support for the mentally ill does come from religious organizations. This is especially true in the case in the care of the chronically homeless, where in 2005 a study found that 22% of homeless persons in the US have mental illnesses (cite).

            I'm sure that the desire to "save souls" is as much a motivator for these organizations, as is altruist charity. It's much easier to get someone to listen to your message when they are feeding you and putting a roof over your head :)

            Regardless, they are stepping up and filling a need - and have been for generations. You can argue about their motivation, but not with the results.

            Creating a liberal non-religious equivalent from scratch would be a huge undertaking!

    •  uh, no (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The main reason Levi-Strauss founded cultural anthropology was to determine the basis of human group identity and long term community/culture.  It wasn't hard to figure, just a long slog to gather and assemble all the evidence to eliminate all other factors persuasively.  It turns out that tribes, nations, major societies have only one necessary particular trait- a shared belief system that contains and explains enough of the past, the present,  the facts of human life (material, psychological, and spiritual experiences), and what the prospects of the future are.  In short, culture and religion are inseparables.  When cultures are unmaintainable, the religion changes.  When the religion can't be maintained, the culture changes.

      We live in a time in which the organized religions are generally reactionary, inadequate and mismatched and in substantial elements refuted relative to the way we live and must live (i.e. culture).  They logically become the refuges of people who are reactionary, inadequate and mismatched and refuted in substantial ways by our life as it is now.  Mental illness is defined by maladaption, and surely it will cluster in places where accidental or deliberate misadaption is accepted and even proclaimed to be virtuous.

      But the refutation and maladaption of particular religious groups doesn't generalize to all religion.  Some/many religious groups will calcify and die out.  Others will reform, readjust their theology and assertions, renew, and thrive again until the next crisis.  Some were not negatively affected by the present transition to Modernity (i.e. post-theism) and were not invested in Agrarian Age values.

      Religion and culture, like the nuclear family group, will continuously reconstitute itself and evolve to match the circumstances in which human beings find themselves living.

      And like political independents, there will always be people who reject or be ambivalent toward the beliefs of the community or subgroups of the community, and some of them will be reactionary to the group (e.g. atheist) and some will simply not be convinced by either the group or its critics (agnostics).

      I wouldn't raise Enlightenment, rationalism, or empiricism to be the highest values attainable, btw.  They're only superior to certain counterparts in a relative way in our times.  In the future people will find their limitations unacceptable and embrace views that surpass them.

      Renewal, not mere Reform.

      by killjoy on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 03:07:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's not for everyone. I will pray for you. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rolet, Fabian, boofdah, dirkster42

    Because everyone has one. Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

    by SpamNunn on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 06:25:25 AM PDT

  •  It sounds like you finally learned to (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rolet, boofdah, grada3784, dirkster42

    do to others as you would like them do to you.

    Your's seems another tragic story of misspent youth.

    Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them - T Paine

    by breezeview on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 06:25:30 AM PDT

  •  Control of human sexuality (23+ / 0-)

    and particularly women is a big part of what the church is about.  We can't have women running around having sex with anybody.  How would we know who sired what child?

    Actually a trip to Rome was really enlightening for me.  I had a guide who was Irish, spoke fluent Italian and was an ancient history scholar.  We went to the Vatican the first day and as an abortion provider it was an eerie feeling to walk through the "city" of the Pope and look at the grandeur and power I believe has hurt so many women and families as a result of the church's continued position on contraception and abortion care.  The next day we went to the ancient city of Rome as my guide acted out things like Caesar's last stand.  When we got to the Eternal Flame place, the source for fire for the ancient city, my guide explained that this fire was maintained 24/7 by virgins who were "maintained" by older women who checked them to assure virginity.  I blinked a few times and said "nuns"?  This is part of the creation of nuns?  And my guide looked at me and said "Well, it is the Roman Catholic church!"  Suddenly I realized a big part of what we take as God given was Roman given.  Such an eye opener for me!  Amazing how knowledge and a broader perspective can change everything.  Which is back to my original premise of keeping women barefoot and pregnant in and the home where they belong.

  •  boof - (8+ / 0-)

    absolutely moving.  I'm sorry I didn't know you back then - to shake a bit of that "awakening" a bit earlier - but I'm proud to know you know for the woman that you are.  

    You are a magnificent writer - and a great friend - THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE BOOK! :)

    My prayer is for your and mr. boof to discover your child - wherever, whomever, and whenever soon.  You will b eloving parents and "pootie" will be a very good guard dog :)

  •  Religious addiction (16+ / 0-)
    In the course of recovering from an addiction to alcohol, the idea was introduced to me that I also had been subject to an addiction to religion. At the time (this was almost 15 years ago), I initially thought the idea of religious addiction was silly. I was thinking that certain people were pinning the "addiction" tag on just about any behavior a person could engage in. It didn't take me long to conclude that, at least with the religion addiction thing, they were right.

    I was raised in a very rigid fundamentally Christian household. We also had the advantage of knowing that we belonged to the One True Church. This led to a deep belief in an all-powerful, list-making (like Santa Claus) god who was also inexplicably jealous, paranoid and by all appearances suffering from serious self-esteem deficit. (Disclaimer: This is not any judgment call on any one else's god; this is the perception of god I was handed by the people around me in my young life.)

    Long story short, this view of god left me with some pretty fucked up perspectives on sexuality, self-esteem, and my general place in the grand scheme of things. Due to genetic heritage (apparently), I also had a nasty proclivity to abuse various substances. boofdah, I wasn't nearly as good a boy as you were a girl. ;)

    Through my early teens into my mid-20's, I lustily pursued happiness through sex, drugs, and rock and roll. (Disclaimer: Regardless of how I behave these days, I'm still very much in favor of the responsible use of sex, drugs, and rock and roll - and I'm not always all that responsible in my use of some of those things. :)) That pursuit left me pretty miserable and in my mid-20's I returned to the "faith" of my childhood.

    Talk about a miserable 3 years or so. I know my heart was in the right place, but I was one miserable SOB. I still feel horrible about the way I treated the people around me. I was so god-damned righteous nobody could stand to be around me. I was using religion exactly the way I used to use various substances to desperately make myself feel better about how miserable I was. Clearly I was addicted to religion.

    Happily, not too many years after the religion years fizzled, I found some new ways of thinking about myself, people around me, and the universe in general. I surely don't know all the answers, but I found some peace with myself and found better ways to address basic questions about how to live day-to-life. People around me unanimously agree that whatever I'm doing now is working a lot better for them. :)

    Thank you, boofdah, for giving voice to so many thoughts that I often have banging around in my head. Like you, I have a healthy (I think) suspicion for those forms of organized religion that threaten my inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your story. I hope you publish that essay soon.

  •  Try the Unitarian Church, no dogma there (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SadTexan, barbwires, boofdah, MaskedKat

    I grew up in the midwest as a Missouri Synod Lutheran. As a teenager the questioning began and the church provided no good answers.

    The Unitarian church, at least here in Austin, TX has an excellent education program for children. They introduce children to all religions and I wish we had discovered them before our children were grown.

    Dogma is truly a bad thing. It's been said that most churches want you to check your brain at the door. This  is not the case with the Unitarian church.

    I wonder if some people have a need to believe in God, a father figure, that is watching over them. I'm aware of the book, "The God Gene" and perhaps there is some psychological need for much of the population.

    •  I've been to a UU church before and liked it. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lirtydies, dirkster42

      However, I fear that I might get sucked into that "religion" vortex again, and so I stay away from it. Now that hubby and I are adopting, I've talked with him about maybe bringing the kids to a UU church to find community with others and to provide a social structure outside of school for them.

      The UU is also welcoming to atheists and agnostics, and he too is an atheist. However, he's not really into it, so I don't push the issue. If I occasionally bring it up, though, he'll me of that Penn (of Penn & Teller) Jillette quote: "Being an atheist is a lot like not collecting stamps is a not a hobby." lol :)

    •  I went to UU for a while... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yoduuuh do or do not

      Searching really.  

      I have also attended Unity Church

      They some times call it "practical Christianity", but they also teach that "The kingdom is within"

      -6.5, -7.59. I want to know who the men in the shadows are... ~Jackson Browne

      by DrWolfy on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 08:02:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One of the key teachings in the New Testement (11+ / 0-)

    and in the old too if you look for it is

    The Kingdom is at hand or the Kingdom is within

    In your story above you point out that at one point you

    just stopped to listen to my heart and my own clear vision for life as it was for awhile.

    The truth for each person is within them and their heart.  

    That is the Kingdom talked about by Jesus.  

    We are meant to discover out own paths in life through listening to our hearts and the inner still small voice.  That is my connection to God, Spirit, Life, or whatever you choose to call it.

    Good for you to find yourself and your inner truth.

    It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Charles Darwin

    by pioneer111 on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 06:46:22 AM PDT

  •  Very thoughtful diary. Thank you. (8+ / 0-)

    Your journey is one to inspire others.

    Sadly, I had to watch as one of my good friends from days gone by became a radical, frothing at the mouth, christian fundamentalist. It destroyed his ability to reason and altered his personality to the point of my abandoning our friendship permanently. The final kicker was when, during a heated exchange, he not only supported Eric Rudolph back in the late 90's but said the killing of anyone supporting a pro-choice position was justified. I told him he was fucked up in the head and that he needed psychological help. We parted company never to speak again. I miss my old friend but I do not miss the mutant that took his place. I refer to this event now as the title of the old classic - Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

    Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. -Thomas Paine

    by exconservative on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 06:49:39 AM PDT

    •  Aren't many in the RR like that, though? (3+ / 0-)

      Consistently, those in the Religious Right, even the right-wing Republicans in Congress, exude this persecution complex to the point of violence and wishing death and hurt on other human beings. They call us "un-American," yet they advocate for the killing, exiling, or harming of other Americans based on their beliefs and faith practices. They call us "angry and unhinged," yet they're the ones who are QUITE LITERALLY frothing at the mouth and screaming about the gays, the feminists, whoever, when they appear on Hannity & Colmes or one of those other Freeper machinations. They are literally walking contradictions of what they pretend to be.

    •  That's how my family members saw me (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      when I was going through my fundamentalist phase, as well.

      That a man can stand up. - Johnny Tremain

      by lirtydies on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 01:07:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I find a glaring difference ... (7+ / 0-)

    ...between organized religion and a personal sense of spirituality and connectedness with creator and all that is.

    Having been raised catholic but intuitively knowing that it didn't fit what I believed, I can understand somewhat of where Boofdah comes from.  It took me years of just sort of wandering around, seeing what worked and what fit for me, regardless of what my family thought, to come to a place of spirituality that honors all paths - and places judgments on none.  Who am I to say what path is right for another?  I can only know what works (or doesn't) for me. (And even then, I am in a constant state of growing and learning!)

    So, Boof, thank you for a most sincere sharing of your experiences.  As you were affected by someone's words at yearlyKos, so may another be by yours today.  

    Peace to you.

    PS: I didn't find any harshness or judgments in Boof's words.  I feel none was intended - just an open, honest assessment of where she's been in her life.

    "The force is really rather strong with you, Luke" - Eddie Izzard (I miss you, La 3/5/06)

    by Bexley Lane on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 06:52:49 AM PDT

  •  Food for thought (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pithy Cherub, boofdah, karmsy

    I know that I have a whole string of obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and I like rules. But every year at this time I have to think about how badly I flunked devekut and ahavas Hashem. I have to hope that the prayers I offer will make up for the defective prayers of the whole rest of the year.
    I think that "seeing the world as it is" is necessary for ordinary survival, although such seeing can mean paranoia. However there is a reason for the metaphor of "eagles'wings" used in Haazinu and also at Sinai. The attachment of Hashem for the people lifts them up so that they have the opportunity to see things from a higher perspective and to become attached to the God who has done this. The pride and detachment of being an am segula means that one can live in the world without becoming cynical.

    -4.00, -5.33 "I am convinced that if Barry Goldwater was alive today, he'd be a Democrat, too."--Chris Koster, MO State Senator and recent R

    by 4jkb4ia on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 06:56:12 AM PDT

  •  A non-believer at church (8+ / 0-)
    I attend regularly, I even sing in the choir.  I am an atheist so why do I go?  My kids.

    We adopted two African-American boys and we live in a small town.  They are already Different enough, I was not willing to make them bear that additional burden of questions, stares and suspicion.

    I am quite open with them about my beliefs and told them they are under no obligation to follow either me or the rest of the world.  "The care of each man's sould belongs to himself"  (allegedly said by Tom Jefferson, I have been unable to find documentation)

    My only requirement is that they don't tease Grandma (VERY hard core Lutheran) or mock the beliefs of others.  They can talk to me frankly at any time (except during the services) but I will be cross with them if I catch them taunting or demeaning others.

    For us I see it as an unavoidable part of small town life.  I hope someday to live in a place where I don't feel that pressure and intolerance. is America's Blog of Record

    by WI Deadhead on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 07:02:03 AM PDT

    •  That's something that hubby and I will confront-- (5+ / 0-)

      --as we are preparing to adopt out of the foster-care system and are open to adopting both a sibling group and multiracial children. The children's birth heritage and background is something we don't want to take away from them, even as much as it would differ from our own. Church/religious custom is often a big part of this background, particularly for older children.

      We've indicated that we want to adopt very young children, so perhaps this won't be an issue; but if the birth parents have expressed a specific desire for their birth children to go to a form of worship, we will comply, but with the addition that we remain true to our own beliefs and will also teach our children about different religions, Eastern and Western. Someone up (down?) thread already mentioned the UU, so if that is acceptable to the birth parents, then we will most likely take them to a UU or UCC church.

      •  The most "politically incorrect" thing (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WI Deadhead, lonelyutahdem15
        I will say all year, and yet I need to say this to you.  You wrote:

        "My husband and I are also in the process of adopting out of the foster-care system.  . . . we've learned the painful, heartbreaking stories of what untold numbers of children in the foster system have gone through: sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, starvation, abandonment, homelessness, and woefully more. What kind of parents would we be if we didn't give them a permanent escape from that landscape of misery?"

        Your life, more than likely, is going to go in directions you never imagined. I beg you to do a thorough reading on this issue.  Things have changed in these children's lives, in their brains, in their biology that may never heal.

        As you've well documented in this wonderful diary, "magical thinking" works against us.  I believe that I hear some more magical thinking at work.  People are going to rail against what I have said and give all kinds of reasons that my comment is unwarranted and uncaring.  No matter, please boofdah, go to all lengths to explore the recent information on this matter.

        I'm not saying "Don't adopt."  I'm saying something else -- which you will find when you do your own research -- and maybe you already have and you are willing to go ahead with this.  Just make sure that "magical thinking" doesn't get in the way of your future.

        "Ordinarily he was insane, but he had lucid moments when he was merely stupid." Heinrich Heine (1797 - 1856)

        by maven98 on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 10:14:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Forever Family (0+ / 0-)
          We adopted through the WI Special Needs program, so our experience will not be exactly like anybody else's experience.  But go in with eyes wide open.

          Our boys were older (4 & 5) and we thought we knew all of the issues and potential issues.  Nobody can, the brain is just too complex and so much of the early experiences (physical and mental) of the children being adopted are unknown and unknowable.

          Perhaps the most invisible is Reactive Attachment Disorder.  There are things that can be done to treat this, but the earlier the better.  We had so many mental health issues to deal with that Mrs Deadhead is now getting a Master's degree in School Psychology.  She found out she knew more about these issues (through constant exposure and diligent research) than most of the "professionals".  So she wanted to eventually get paid for it.

          Side note on the church thing:  The A-A community tends to have religion as a BIG part of their culture.  We did not want our children to grow up and be even more distant from their peers.  "Why do all those buildings have a " T " on the side and on the roof?"  If they want to date somebody and get invited to church, I'd like them to be prepared.  We try to go to a black church at least a few times a year, luckily I like the music a lot.  (That's why I am in the choir, I just like to sing.  The relentless Jesus This and Jesus That gets old, but I don't usually listen to words in songs, even when I am singing them.)

          Good luck, get ready for some adventure.

 is America's Blog of Record

          by WI Deadhead on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 03:05:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I am facing that with my 7 yo. (3+ / 0-)

      He asks a lot of questions.  Unfortunately, my normal cop out answer is "some people believe..."

      When he asks me what I believe, I say I am discovering it all the time.

      -6.5, -7.59. I want to know who the men in the shadows are... ~Jackson Browne

      by DrWolfy on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 07:59:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Blame Socrates! (6+ / 0-)

    I, too, survived a very religious upbringing. First Catholic, then Pentecostal Holiness. The non-negotiable in my ditching religion, is the inherenet self-absorption in living now based on what happens to me in the next life. Of course in all fairness, this isn't entirely religious, this is Western philosophy. Socratic notions of creating the ideal city and subsequent adaptations and adoptions of dying to achieve it certainly did us no favors, particularly as the Greeks were so influential across the board in religion.

    I'm no fan of organized religion, but I am completely a willing prisoner of the study of it. Human beings seem to need it and it's not going away. The trick is to learn to work with it so that it's less harmful to the greater population. Don't know how to do that of course - but Sam Harris is off base in suggesting religion be erradicated. won't happen, thus he gives no potential or options for solution (my criticism of his book though I enjoyed his rant and applauded much of it).

  •  I had what was basically a (10+ / 0-)

    nutty religious upbringing. In my natal creed, God and Satan were more than abstract forces of good and evil, they were literal personages. Every question had an answer. There was no ambiguity.

    I left the church in my late teens, when I quit attending, and haven't looked back. I consider myself agnostic today. But at times I'm still reminded of my early roots.

    Sometimes, when something unexpected happens, before the rational parts of our minds take over to try to explain things, the very old, superstitious parts of our natures reveal themselves.

    Two nights ago, I was in the kitchen doing dishes at 9:30 PM. Suddenly, the light in the kitchen went out and the refridgerator shut off. Literally, the first thing through my mind was, "This is Satan's work." Growing up, I had heard so many stories about Satan and his minions showing up in peoples' homes, to dissuade the righteous.

    Not wanting to be alone with Satan in the darkened apartment, I ran outside, still clutching some sudsy utensils. I could see lights a few blocks away, but my entire street was dark, including a traffic signal. Only then did I start to calm down and realize we were experiencing a localized problem with the municipal power grid. Satan had nothing to do with it.

    Maybe you can take the girl out of church, but you can't take church out of the girl.

    Thanks for the diary.

  •  "Loving Kindess Is My Religion" (7+ / 0-)

    quote from the Dali Lama.

    Who can argue with that?

  •  Thank you for this (4+ / 0-)

    I grieve for your experience of addiction, and applaud your action of removing yourself from it. I equally applaud your acting within the ways of Jesus by respecting those of us for whom faith is not an addiction, and by seeking to love another child (or more) who has also been deeply hurt.  I hope that you will forgive me for saying that I believe God is most pleased.

  •  Thank you for the moving story. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    azale, boofdah

    I have a feeling I may have tussled with you on some of these issues in the past, but I loved your candor and openness, and willingness to share an enormous level of pain. There seems to be something screwy with the Street Prophets site at the moment, but I am sure this diary would be very well received over there as well, because it is so personal and real.

    We use reason and logic to explain and clarify experience, but experience is where we meet life in its crazy ambiguity.  When we honor that fact, a lot of walls that come about through nomenclature (where words can mean radically different things to different people) melt away.  When we try to start with "this is the truth, and experience has to fit into it," we start getting into needless fights.

    I hope, in any case, that your healing continues and that your happiness increases.

    •  Thanks boof.....I had no idea (4+ / 0-)

      I know you as a smart, compassionate, savvy lady, but I didn't realize that you had endured this struggle.  I too endured some of the same Catholic ridgidity and I too gave that all up.  For a while after the marriage to my now hubby, we belonged to a UCC (United Church of Christ) church in Miami Lake, FL, but after about 5 years there, we split because the long-time pastor, and dishonest friend, was escorted off the property because he and his mousy wife took over $100,000.00 from the pre-school at church--oh, and they didn't ask. The church split apart--we wanted hims thrown in jail, many wanted to protect him.  That was over 15-years-ago and we have never had an urge to get involved again.  I too cringe at the hypocrisy of the RR--I wonder why they're so consumed with SEX!!  Great diary and thanks so much for sharing such a personal part of your life.  See you around town!

  •  Beautifullly written - wonderfully said (3+ / 0-)

    I can't praise this diary enough. Thank you for your testimony, boofdah. Heh, and in saying that, I see I've typed something that has a tinge of ecumenical verbiage.

    Yet, your account rings in accord with what I've seen other recovered religious addicts say - that the warmth and comfort of a make-believe world is difficult to relinquish. Congratulations on grasping reality. Not many of us manage the task.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 07:40:12 AM PDT

  •  Thank you.... (6+ / 0-)

    It makes me think of one of my lifelong friends.

    In his youth (up to age 28 or so) was a cavorting alcoholic.  Ended up in jail a number of times, mostly for public drunkenness, disturbing the peace, etc.

    Then, he met a girl and "found God".  Now, he's not drinking any more (a good thing) but basically substituted one addiction (alcohol) for another (religion).

    We barely speak anymore.  He is (naturally) a die hard "family values" Republican.  

    Makes me very sad.  I would say at least this addiction is healthier, but I am not sure.

    -6.5, -7.59. I want to know who the men in the shadows are... ~Jackson Browne

    by DrWolfy on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 07:57:22 AM PDT

  •  For a Good Time (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, NCrefugee, boofdah, cpresley

    . . . on the real history of Christianity, watch online or download Zeitgeist the movie. The first 40 or so minutes illustrate how the myths about Christ was developed over thousands of years from ancient Egyptian, Persian and Hindu lore, and that modern religion is astrologically based.

    Chris Dodd is our man to stop the Huckabee stampede!!

    by GW Chimpzilla on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 07:57:42 AM PDT

  •  Thankfully (4+ / 0-)

    I have parents who were not at all religious and made no attempt whatsoever to push any religious or non-religious creed on me and my brother.  They just told us we'd have to think and decide for ourselves.  My brother and I have both grown to be content atheists.

    Thank you for the diary, well done.

    I finally put in a signature!

    by Boris Godunov on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 07:58:54 AM PDT

  •  A community "thanks" for all of the comments :) (6+ / 0-)

    What an interesting and thoughtful conversation this has turned into! :) I appreciate all of the feedback and sharing of your experiences; I wish I could reply to more of you but I'm off to the ENOUGH rally in my town (see my autosig link).

    Thanks again, and life bless. :)

  •  Religion and Spirituality (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    azale, lilypew, cpresley
    Is there a world of the "spirit"? Well, it beats me.  I do know there is a mental world between my ears and I assume such a world exists for others as well. It is natural to search for connection between our own inner worlds and those of others--and who knows if there isn't some other, greater mental reality?

    Having been cured of religion by the Lutheran Church and dabbled at an academic level in the teachings of other religions (Buddhism, Wicca, Hinduism, etc.), I can see that the world is truly full of snake oil salesmen, which leads me to my current definition of the difference between spirituality and religion:

    Spirituality is the heartfelt quest to find connection between our own inner mental/emotional reality and that of others and seeking to know and if possible experience a greater connection--but it remains a quest and the only answers are tentative ones.

    Religion, on the other hand, is when guys put on robes and funny hats, start making rules and collecting money.

  •  Wow! Powerful stuff, friend. (9+ / 0-)

      It's great to hear stories like yours.  Religion is such a destructive force, and it hurt individuals and society at large in so many, many ways.  I am really impressed by your story.
      I have often heard (sometimes right here on dKos) that I (or any) atheist is incapable of having real values because we do not draw our morality from the bible, which is the most preposterous assumption that the religious sector makes.  It saddens me that people feel that morals and values can only be real if they come from the book written by primitives who believed in human sacrifice, gang rape as punishment, and an irrational fear of shellfish as the gate to hell.
      I sound extremely harsh towords religion, I admit.  I come from a marginalized population that has be unduly harrassed and unceasingly attacked bvy religion and religious people.  While I have met a few people of faith who were perfectly lovely, my experience has been negative for the most part.
      Like you, my partner and I have been working on adopting through the foster care system.  Considering the difficulties that our future children will have already experienced, I feel that the kindest way I can raise them will be in absence of contradictory and judgmental dogma.  I know that we can impart values and morals of respect and kindness for our fellow man and the earth, because we hold them ourselves.  Congratulations on this decision to build your family.

    •  I'm with you (6+ / 0-)

      on the "values" bs.  My dog knows he shouldn't bite me, and he's an atheist.  My horse knows he shouldn't kick me, and he's an atheist.  Their values come from an inate understanding that to survive, these species must cooperate within a social structure.

      I don't need a wrathful god spying on me before I do the right thing. It seems to be the relgious amongst us that need the threat of punishment to keep them moral.

  •  I'm very lucky -- I was raised... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boofdah, snoopydawg a pretty secular household.  Born Jewish, did some of the traditions, but "God" was never mentioned.   My folks never discussed it, but I believe the Holocaust turned them off forever from the God idea.

  •  Heartfelt and very thoughtfully written (6+ / 0-)

    I'm trying to think if I've ever heard such a clear statement of the illegitimate powers religion can hold over a "believer."  To compare it to substance abuse is very powerful.

    I had it easy.  I am 100% Irish and the son of a devoutly Catholic mother and a Protestant, anti-Catholic father.  My childhood memories of religion were of them fighting over dogma and ethereal fantasies.  Even as a child, it was nothing but politics to me.

    Welcome to secular reality.  And thank you.

    (-7.75, -7.69) No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up - Lily Tomlin

    by john07801 on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 08:28:33 AM PDT

  •  Good for you! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, boofdah, NogodsnomastersMary

    Life is so much better when your psyche is not imprisoned, and religion surely does seem to be one hellish hole of a prison for many Americans.

    Welcome to the free world!  It's a sunny day out here without some "god" bloke bitching and moaning and menacing you about every little thing you do like some controlling husband who flies into a smiting rage because you put the leftovers in the wrong-sized Ziploc.  

    Much better to make your own decisions, use the wrong Ziploc from time to time, and be free!

  •  Leo Strauss, political philosopher... (10+ / 0-)

    ...whose students and followers included Paul Wolfowitz, Allan Bloom, Irvinkg Kristol and the whole neo-con cult, taught that the leaders of a nation need to push religion -- even though it's false, because they will then find it much easier to control the masses/troops by emphasizing various elements from it, depending on what they want to do -- including invading a nation.  

    Fits with the apocalypse scenario that they're apparently now teaching at the DoD to support the war, for example.

  •  Well (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AndyT, boofdah, wyvern

    I have no problem with atheists per se. What bothers me, though, is when some athiests act like they are more intellectually superior and more intelligent than those of us who do believe in God. (Note: I am a Catholic who goes to church frequently. While I have some disagreements with the Catholic church on its beliefs on gay rights, birth control, ordination of women priests, masturbation, and celibacy, and the death penalty, I agree with other parts of the church's beliefs on social justice and helping the poor.) Often on this forum I've seen posts directed toward Catholics that were offensive. Now I don't expect everyone here to like the Catholic Church or agree with its beliefs, but I also think that people could express their disagreement in a more polite fashion.

    I don't agree with the Christian right, and I do support the separation of church and state. But I also don't agree with some atheists who argue that there should be no reference to religion at all in the public sphere and who look askance at any and all mention of religion. I have no problem with student-led prayer in school as long as it is done voluntarily, not led by school administrators, doesn't interrupt the educational process, and doesn't ridicule students who choose not to participate. In essence I support a "moment of silence", where students can pray themselves. I also don't have a problems with students forming their own Bible Clubs or religious clubs as long as participation is voluntary and those who choose not to participate do not suffer ridicule or harassment for not doing so. The key word for me here is "voluntary". I also don't have a problem with religious groups renting public space as long as all groups have equal access.

    I guess that I draw the line at athiests who demand that the Pledge of Allegiance be scrapped, that the Soledad Cross be taken down, or that "In God We Trust" should be dropped from the money. To me I think that those issues aren't a big deal.

    •  if they're not a big deal (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rebecca, Sparhawk, AndyT, boofdah, cpresley

      then why not drop the god references from those things?

      Particularly, the pledge, which originally did not include a reference to God anyway.

      •  That's just it. It is a big deal. (0+ / 0-)

        Having the state affirm belief in god is a big deal even for some of the moderate and liberal religious here.  

        ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

        by Rebecca on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 12:36:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Religion Not Needed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      boofdah, NogodsnomastersMary

      While I have some disagreements with the Catholic church on its beliefs on gay rights, birth control, ordination of women priests, masturbation, and celibacy, and the death penalty, I agree with other parts of the church's beliefs on social justice and helping the poor

      Why do you need religion to be a human being?  Just be a Democrat.

      I see no reason to give religion any credit for simple common sense.  It just props up all of the pernicious doctrines that people try to explain away.

    •  The problem with "voluntary" prayer groups.. (5+ / 0-)

      ...etc in schools is that there is little that is voluntary at school age. From the clothes kids wear to the everyday sayings, most of it is formed by peer pressure. It is very difficult to enforce voluntary actions at an age when social inclusion is a primary goal.

      What's a guy gotta do to get impeached around here?

      by Blueslide on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 09:32:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why is it necessary at all? (5+ / 0-)

        As an atheist I also object to any organized prayer in school (student-lead or otherwise), not only because of the reality of peer pressure and conformity, but also because I find the motives behind such prayer suspect.  

        There are plenty of occasions for prayer that don't require a school as a backdrop.  What are churches for then, if not to provide the occasion for prayer and worship?  The same holds true for the teaching of creationism - isn't that what catechism and sunday school are for?

        There's also nothing to prevent an individual from praying silently in school if they feel so compelled.  To insist on organized prayer at school is nothing more than proselytizing,  and didn't Jesus have something to say about not making a spectacle of prayer?

        •  I am an atheist... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AndyT, boofdah, NogodsnomastersMary

          ...but I do not have a problem with a minor moment of silence at the start of each day to be used for whatever purpose a student sees fit. I do not think this is a problem necessarily, as long as the word "prayer" is not uttered anywhere at all.

          •  In theory perhaps, (3+ / 0-)

            as a moment of silence would not be unconstitutional, and it would definitely be preferable to any kind of organized prayer, but again I have to ask why it is necessary.  Is it the best use of the limited time teachers have to educate these students, considering how much is crammed into the average school day (not to mention NCLB)?

            If a moment of prayer, meditation or personal reflection is important to any of the students, it can be done on their own time before school.

            I guess I'm a stickler on this issue as I've been involved with fighting prayer in school at our local school board level. Many thanks to American United for their help with our particular case.

            I was also raised as a Jehovah's Witness, and had to stand in silence (absolutely mortified) as everyone else recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Not a pleasant experience for a kid, particularly a shy one. (Now I just omit the 'under God' part).

            •  Oh, I generally agree... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Rebecca, Tam in CA

              I am as anti-prayer in school as anyone.

              However, if throwing this small bone to religious people will shut them up, I'm all for it. It's a small 30 second thing with no implication of "prayer" at all, except for people who want to do it. One could argue that taking a few seconds to clear one's mind can serve an educational and nonsectarian purpose.

              By the way (as you write), I also oppose the pledge in its entirety, with or without "under god". I consider that to be at best a complete waste of time and at worst to be an assault on the students with propaganda.

              •  Now we've come full circle (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Rebecca, Sparhawk, boofdah

                back to my point about the motivation behind those who push prayer in school (whatever the form).  I don't believe a moment of silence would satisfy them at all, or if so, I would agree the the 30 second sacrifice would be well worth it. I wish they were that easy to pacify. ;-)

    •  Re (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rebecca, boofdah, golconda2, Tam in CA

      I guess that I draw the line at athiests who demand that the Pledge of Allegiance be scrapped, that the Soledad Cross be taken down, or that "In God We Trust" should be dropped from the money. To me I think that those issues aren't a big deal.

      If they're not a big deal, then concede them already. The US government does not take a position on matters of religion. Any even minor endorsement like this is impermissible.

      If you support these things, you do not support the separation of church and state.

    •  Cultural blindness (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rebecca, NogodsnomastersMary

      To me I think that those issues aren't a big deal.

      So it wouldn't bother you at all if the money said "Allah Akhbar", the pledge said "under goddess" and the cross was replaced by a Wiccan pentacle?  Really?

      See SICKO. Then demand single-payer healthcare NOW.

      by lonelyutahdem15 on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 12:12:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Criticism (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk, boofdah

      Often on this forum I've seen posts directed toward Catholics that were offensive. Now I don't expect everyone here to like the Catholic Church or agree with its beliefs, but I also think that people could express their disagreement in a more polite fashion.

      Directed toward Catholics or directed toward certain Catholic beliefs and certain Catholics in the news who were pushing said beliefs?

      I haven't seen offensive posts towards any religious group that weren't troll rated out of existence or criticized in return.  I have seen posts that were harshly critical of beliefs, dogmas and actions by many religions here on this site.  The difference is an important one.  

      Saying that to criticize a religious belief or organization is unacceptable leads to the situation where we are now where the Religious Right is so powerful.

      ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

      by Rebecca on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 12:45:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Adherence to religious doctrine... (3+ / 0-)

    ...and conducting a personal, spiritual odyssey are 2 entirely different things.

    Whether one believes in an omnipotent entity or not, spiritual quests are a natural evolution of any human. (At least this is what I have concluded).

    Some spiritual quests ultimately lead to attaching ones self with organized religion; some do not.

    It's when organized religion quells spiritual growth via a demand for conformity & group-think that things go wrong.

    I was raised in a regimented religious family but I haven't been to a church for years (except to appease my family on Easter, etc.).

    I have found it liberating:  I am now free to read the Bible (which I still do) without filtering it through American church stuff.

    I now find the Bible (especially parts of the Old Testament) at least compelling literature  now that I'm free to dismiss the restrictive legalese out of hand.

    The slogan "support the troops" is both the cause of, and solution to, all of Washington D.C.'s problems.

    by wyvern on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 08:47:54 AM PDT

  •  a little like me (6+ / 0-)

    You sound a little like me.  Being raised in a loving but somewhat, well, very dysfunctional family, I turned to the one thing that seemed comforting and stable in my childhood that was not being taken away from me during my parents divorce- the Catholic church.  Always a religious child, I clung to it even more closely as my beloved family was breaking up when I was 13 years old.  Also, realizing I was attracted to other boys in 1968 (a year before Stonewall I had not heard the word gay for the first time), I sought a "miracle" that would change me.  

    So, alone and isolated from peers, with my family breaking up around me, I turned to the comforting Catholic world of my childhood, even though even that was changing dramatically in these years right after Vatican II.  I read up on the visions granted to the children of Fatima of the Virgin Mary.  I read up on the vision of the Sacred Heart of Jesus granted to St. Margaret Mary.  I also began listening to Protestant ministers on the radio.  I found a very rightwing preacher, the Rev. Carl McIntire, who was campaigning for "Victory in Vietnam" against the atheistic Communists.  Religion was my refuge during those teenage years.  My only refuge.

    My teenage years went by, the tense situation at home calmed as my parents went on with their lives, but I was still stuck in Catholic/evangelical bizarro world.  I envy the diarist in a way because she has made a definite transition and seems to have left her religious addiction and found peace.

    Myself I am still struggling to reconcile things.  I really love the teachings of Jesus, but with Jesus in Christianity comes the Old Testament, for after all Jesus was a Jew.  And the Old Testament is toxic to gay people, nonJews, animals, (animal sacrifice).  As an animal lover that is a major obstacle for me.

    I have read a little about Wicca, but am scared it is idolatrous.  A little about Buddhism, but it seems depressing and foreign to me.  So I struggle with my childhood Catholicism, which I have stopped practicing but still am drawn to.  Thank you diarist for telling us about your journey.  I will read it again and again, looking for insights that you gained that might be of some benefit in my own journey.

  •  Sex and Religion (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    azale, historys mysteries, boofdah

    Both are part of our evolutionary history. Sex is perhaps more important as it explains why we are what we are precisely because it is part of the mechanism of evolution. Religion was necessary as a drug, that is it explains the unknowable when the unknowable can effect mental state and therefore function. It is not surprising that religion finds the need to control sex, as it is the strongest part of our nature sometimes opposing their sense of morality and control. A great deal of what we feel is there because of our evolutionary history and when religion opposes that it creates stress. Religion is one of the drugs to deal with stress. Consider that religion thrives in stressed-out cultures. The far more rational way to deal with stress is to reject religion and work directly to solving the problems that underly the stress.

    •  admit it (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AndyT, boofdah, The Wizard

      You just want to justify having more sex. ;)

      •  Here's an interesting perspective (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        azale, boofdah

        Any given species that is successful at any time has evolved to be successful in it's ecological niche. The corollary to this is that its form and function are well designed for survival in it's environment, they are, you might say, correct. We humans have evolved into an conundrum. We are too complex and intelligent and it is well within our capabilities to reject that which has made us a successful as a species. We are also stupid enough to change our ecological niche without understanding all of its consequences.

        So the answer to your question is that we stand upright because the visual presentation of males and females in an upright posture is far more stimulating to us than on all fours. Try and imagine a fashion show where the models were required to crawl on all fours. I think that it's about time to drop the guilt crap and enjoy who we are.

  •  Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, AndyT, boofdah

    I feel compelled to articulate some of the differences between religon and spirituality. Religions are always plagued by powerful governing bodies which claim exclusive rights/ability in connecting the religious person to the (externalized) deity. Spirituality, on the other hand, is rooted in the person seeking God connecting to the divinity within which resides in each of us.

    It seems to be a common event in the lives of people within the progressive movement to have a bad experience with religion and then, based upon that, come to believe that all paths and God Him or Herself are just as corrupt as the faulty religion which gave rise to the bad experience. This is like someone who is abused by a teacher coming to the conclusion that all education is bad.

    One's relationship with the Divine needs to evolve just like anything and everything else in one's life. As we evolve so does our ability to feel and experience the divinity within us. "God" is abstract and cannot be patented, controlled or owned but can only be felt. The organ or instrument uniquely suited for feeling the Divine within is the heart. In this mental world we all live in full of suspicion and misunderstanding, it is no wonder that we are going it alone through life without the aid of our greatest asset, the natural essence within us that guides us on our path.

    I hope for the best for you as you resolve this trauma and continue your evolution on your personal path.

    Striving to live now as all will live in the future.

    by shruticounseling on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 08:55:06 AM PDT

  •  Wow, I so admire you and this diary (4+ / 0-)

    Thanks for your bravery, and best of luck on your adoption. I hope you'll find, as I have, that the presence of children in one's life is a curative.

  •  I'm all teary eyed (11+ / 0-)

    It was my grandfather who always warned many in our family about the dangers of addiction to religion.  He still lost his son-in-law to it, he ended up abusing my cousins horribly.  He made a bat to beat my eldest cousin with on a lathe in the garage because 'spare not the rod'.  When the rest of the family learned of it he was removed from the home and my grandparents paid for him to have counseling with a professional who focused on that specific area.  He still totters on the brink all the time though, he and my Aunt share a home again.  When my daughter was very small I did a short stint as a juvenile probation officer.  I was a single mom though and I had to quit because my job was starting to take over my life and my four year old complained, and I heard her.  My God we are horrible to our children in America.  Most of my BAD KIDS were just kids who had been abandoned, or emotionally or sexually or physically abused, or all of the above.  Thank you for caring for our children ;)  Life is so short and the children that walk among us are so precious. 75% of all fetuses are rejected and aborted because the mother's body has found them unviable but we can't focus enough attention on that shit while our viable children suffer and suffer and suffer in the Great land of America!

    In the Pajamahadeen I'm Scooby-Doo!

    by Militarytracy on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 09:04:42 AM PDT

    •  "we are horrible to our children in America" (11+ / 0-)

      post born children, that is Militarytracy.  We sanctify the "pre-born children".  And supposed "religion" is what drives the war against access to professional abortion care, birth control and sexuality education.  And demonizes homosexuality.

      As an abortion provider in the deep south, we have had a group of protestors called "God Said" Ministries.  This group is headed by a retired Marine who is now a prophet.  They are opposed to homosexuality and abortion and they believe the cause of both is the "spirit of Jezebel".  If women were just more "womanly" men would be more manly and there would be no homosexuality or the need for abortion.

      Why does it seem that OFTEN organized religion attacks women?  And what hurts women hurts children because women are still the predominent care takers of children.

      •  A Retired Marine that is now a Prophet? (10+ / 0-)

        TOTALLY NUTS!  I married a soldier person and even in the Army love is in short supply as well as a definable God.....lots of lust but not so much love.  I don't even know how an exMarine becomes a prophet but I have known a couple of Marines who had a hard time dealing with their own homosexual tendencies.  I haven't met these guys yet but when I do if the prophet doesn't look me in the eye and shout Jezebel get thee behind me he's a big phoney.  I think these people attack women because we do tend to be more compliant and a bit weaker socially and above group must be bigger and better than someone to feel okay about themselves.  Women who have not realized their own personal power (like lots of the South) can be easily cowed and easily conquered.  I swear to whatever God if one more of the yahoo's down here says one more thing about my pregnant daughter being "something that didn't have to happen" someone is going to get a piece of my mind!  This isn't the path I would have chosen for my daughter but guess what, it is her life and as for this child to be born........this is a child of choice fer fucks sake so what the hell are they talking about that this some sort of trophy of shame!  I have set the whole town on its ear as my daughter and the baby's father are moving into an apartment together and my husband and I have told them to not focus so much on a wedding and focus on building their coupleship.  The wedding will come later.  The South is full of people and guess what?  For every person you see on the street someone fucked somebody...I know it's shocking but it's true.  Thank you for your words today, it is nice to know that we don't take the South on alone.

        In the Pajamahadeen I'm Scooby-Doo!

        by Militarytracy on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 09:46:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Congrats on being a grandmother (8+ / 0-)

          and supporting your daughter.  I hope all goes well for you on this journey.

          Ironies do abound for women around both the military and religion.  I have a friend who had a baby and put it up for adoption.  She did not put this on her military application when she joined in the early 70's.  When it was discovered she was "discharged" for having an "illegitimate child".  So, there you have it...

          And don't you HATE the term "illegitimate"?  Where in the heck did that come from?  Maybe we should do a diary on that.

          In southern solidarity Militarytracy!

  •  My mother's siblings voted her... (7+ / 0-)

    ..."Most Likely to Die a Buddhist"(Sounds great to me, actually).
    She's been a Lutheran, a Jehovah's Witness, a pentacostal and now a fundamentalist evangelical.  She's studied Judaism and Ba'hai.  I was really pulling for the Ba'hai but she rejected it when she found out that it had ties to Islam, a very enlightened Islam, but it was just too exotic ultimately.
    She's been a frickin' mystic since childhood.  A reular Amy Semple McPherson, Her father was inspired to nickname her after the Book of Leviticus when she was a child because she was just that kind of kid.
    We're talking full blown Dostoyevsky's syndrome complete with migraines and visions.  Living with her was like living only a notch below Carrie White's mother in a Stephen King novel.  
    She took the silver crucifix my Grandparent's gave me for my 1st Communion and destroyed it because she thought it was bringing demons into the house (Jehovah's Winesses think that Jesus died on a stake, not a cross.  To them, the crucifix was something from Christendom and was vulnerable to demonic possession.  I kid you not.  Now, she thinks crosses are cool and groovy and if you remind her of this time in her life, she acts like it never happened)
    I heard all the anti-sex messages.  I rejected them.  If the JW's thought that after Armageddon we would all just live in a sexless paradise, I was going to hedge my bets and get my virginity out of the way before the unlikely event that an Armageddon actually occured.
    I heard all of the creationist mythology.  But half an hour after natural selection was described to me, I saw the Adam and Eve story for what it was: a convenient fiction.  
    I heard admonitions against goign to college because the world was going to end and it would be a waste of my time.  I'm sure glad I didn't listen to that or I'd be a cashier at K-mart right now instead of a scientist.
    There's religious addiction and there's brain damage.  (Not that this is my mother's fault.  She can't help it if she's got some weird form of temporal lobe epilepsy.)
    Consider yourself lucky that you are capable of overcoming it.  Some people waste their whole lives in pursuit of a perfect world and end up with nothing but years of false hope.  

    -3.63, -4.46 "Choose something like a star to stay your mind on- and be staid"

    by goldberry on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 09:07:03 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for Your Diary (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AndyT, boofdah, tjb22, fhcec, DanceHallKing

    I knew it would be recommended because, well, anything that says "Religion is a disease/mental illness/delusional" here at DailyKOS is likely to be recommended.  Same old same old.

    But that's not why I personally am commenting.

    I'm going to just put out something I've noticed as a non-white, non-Catholic, person of faith who has spent three years enduring the almost ritualistic "there is no God" diaries here at DailyKOS.

    I have noticed that often when someone writes one of these "Religion" (not the person who abused you) "nearly destroyed my life" diaries celebrating having "gotten over" or "escaped" their religion, the person self-identifies as either having been raised in a Catholic or fundamentalist/Southern Baptist tradition.  Way too often, when folks are forthcoming at all about their spiritual journey into non-faith -- regularly prompted by some horrific thing in their lives -- they usually preface it with some sort of horrific thing they endured while they were believers.  Abuse is the one most mentioned, although loved ones dying is right up there, too.  

    I have also noticed there is regularly an argument that "God didn't save me" or "I couldn't save myself because I was deluded by God."  As if that was what they were taught was the natural order of things:  we as men/women are in need, and God handles it for us.

    I was not ever taught those things, at least not quite so literally as it seems a lot of white folks were taught.  But then again, I'm not white, I'm not Catholic, and I was not raised fundamentalist.  I was raised in that tradition, as a Black Baptist, and while I too have issues with our organized churches (the biggest being that they encourage people to put up with suffering and bullshit in this life because of the promise of the next one) our entire approach to God, and a relationship with Him/Her, is quite different.  The phraseology is the same -- sayings such as "Let Go and Let God" are quite common, for example, yet the meaning ascribed to them and -- most importantly -- the approach to life's downside that flows from appears fundamentally different.  

    I was taught God is there to be thanked, if I woke up and saw another day, since we are never promised tomorrow.  I was taught that God has a Plan, and that I'd know what it was if I listened to my heart and soul inside of myself, not the voice of the preacherman/woman sitting in the pulpit that often is just making shit up.  I was taught that God is a joyful presence and a source of comfort and power, not that He was giant enforcer to whom I must bow in fear and obey else I'd be in trouble.  

    I went to church every Sunday until I was 14, at which point I was given dispensation not to on the grounds that I either now knew God or I didn't, but that either way I had to go to Him myself at that point.  During that time, there was abuse.  Loved ones died.  Alcoholism destroyed our family.  And yes, I was raped.  But in that all, I never lost sight of God, and never lost faith in God, like so many folks telling stories here.  And ultimately, I did go to God on my own, from my own sense that there is something bigger and greater than myself in this life and that's alright with me.  It's not about control, since I was taught that God only takes care of babies and fools.  It's not about being angry at God because he didn't save someone -- since I was never taught that this was God's role to begin with; I was taught that He gave us the power to think and reason.  

    There was no frightening wrathful God introduced to me as a child, and people certainly did not excuse away everything from alcoholism to spousal/child abuse using His name.  God was and is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient, yet He is neither a shadowy figure on high controlling our each and every move nor someone that really has time for the fine details He gave us power to work out for ourselves, including through His reason and His science that folks just insist randomly popped up all by itself, as if man is the end all and be all in the universe.  

    Yet when I read these fairly regular diaries written at places like DailyKOS, it seems that a majority of the folks who are celebrating claiming the label atheist (especially those who can't just claim it, but have to arrogantly lord their alleged superiority over others with hurtful words such as "delusional"), are really celebrating being free of something or something in their lives that hurt them.  Which is indeed something to celebrate.  But it has nothing to do with God - and everything to do with the wickedness/stupidity/greed/brutality of Man/Woman towards Man/Woman.

    Which of course God, if you believe religious writings, has repeatedly tried to tell us to stop.  But whose fault is it if we as men/women do not listen?

    So perhaps the real issue is not God.  Perhaps the real issue is that folks haven't yet gotten over the hateful and hurtful things that they wished God would have saved them from.  Perhaps it is the resentment that comes from a misunderstanding of what God's role is to begin with, which leads to the resentment when that loving entity (as He/She is taught to us) doesn't step in and make things All Better.  Such that it becomes easier to blame religion than it is the individual hypocrites -- family, friends, spouses, parents -- that hid behind the name of God when they were in fact doing the work of the Devil.

    Perhaps if white folks stopped going to white churches and started going to some Black ones, this problem would be solved.  Because even the Black Catholics and Episcopals and atheists I know don't seem to come out the other side of their church upbringings with this idea that one should celebrate "free" or "saved" merely because they have personally come to believe that God is absent/non-existence.  Step into one of our churches and perhaps you might feel differently about God.  

    I wrote all that to say that I sort of feel sorry for y'all, having been brought up in the type of religious environments that some of you now can't let go of the misplaced anger at God -- as if it was ever God's duty or obligation to save you from misery and pain and hurt, when it wasn't.  I was never taught that it was, so wonder how and why it is that so many of you who make plain you despise both religion and God were. Perhaps the real issue is that you need to come to accept that you were misled by your religions, and your family, but that this is not dispositive on the larger issue of God vs. No God, one way or the other.  Perhaps belief and non-belief are simply co-equal matters of faith, and anyone that can't be sanguine about that, believer or non-believer, should examine their "Lady doth protest too much" quotient.

    Just my opinion.  Take it for what you find it is worth, even if that is nothing.

  •  isnt Atheism a drug too? I dont mean to (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BenGoshi, SecondComing, AndyT, boofdah

    antagonize anyone, but isn't it? Atheism gives comfort to those that have a firm belief that God does not exist, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this.

    Im not an Atheist, nor am I a Christian. I consider myself a 'eclectic neo-pagan' I use God and Goddess imagery knowing full well that these are constructs of the human imagination, and there really is nothing wrong with that either.

    I value scientific advancement and knowledge  as well as appreciate various creation theories for what they are. To me, they are simply stories told over the centuries that have a vaild place in our collective mind, but they are not absolutes. Science in general is based in reality but to my understanding is not an absolute either, as we learn more about the universe, ideas and truths change and scientific knowledge expands. Religion should do the same.

    I see the big-box religions as being stuck, with tragic consequenses.

    There have always been people of religious faith, atheists and agnostics and that is good becuase in my mind they are all connected because one cannot exist without the other

    I straddle the thin line between Holistic and Assholistic

    by Goodbye Kitty on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 09:23:29 AM PDT

    •  I can see what you're saying here. (4+ / 0-)

      But by that token, neopaganism could be considered a "drug" as well. Or anything else for that matter. Or even posting here at Daily Kos.

    •  What the "Sage of Baltimore" said (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "The most satisifying and ecstatic faith is almost purely agnostic.  It trusts absolutely without professing to know at all."


      H.L. Mencken


      The distinction that goes with mere office runs far ahead of the distinction that goes with actual achievement. H.L. Mencken

      by BenGoshi on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 01:56:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't see your point (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      God comforts because there is an all powerful being out there and a meaning behind existence.  It's a comforting thought for many people.  Unless you're talking about a deist form of god.  But then that's the problem you're being much too general here.

      Atheism is a disbelief in god.  There is nothing there to comfort anyone.  So where does the comfort come from in that thought that would cause someone to be addicted to?

      Now there are certain philosophies that atheists can choose to believe that could be addictive.  But the idea of no god?  That's just silly.  You need more than just the belief that there is no god to be addicted to.  People who are addicted have needs that aren't being met.  Not having a god doesn't meet any needs.  

      ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

      by Rebecca on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 04:41:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  us ex-fundie/religious types (6+ / 0-)

    should band together. I've noticed a lot of terrific insight in the comments about the intellectual underpinnings of the religious right, and we should share this knowledge base with the broader progressive movement in a more systematic way.

    I, like many here, came from a fundie background. Now that I have broken free of that, I have noticed that many "long-timer" liberals simply don't understand the world of the religious right. This is a huge problem. For example, remember the big revelation that Bush talked in a "code" the the religous right understood? The code has been obvious to me since day one.

    I went to Wheaton College (IL), which has produced many of the leaders in the modern day religious right. I'm very well acquainted with the thoughts and theories of the religous right, and I know there are many more like me. Perhaps we could band together to help "de-code."

    •  Can you give an example of that code? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
    •  Query.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...Why is it that when a fundie "see's the light" and breaks away from his/her church, they seem to lose their previously unquestioned fundie credentials? Specifically, if a ex-fundie starts talking about the "the code" or any other unspoken practice of the fundie-right, all of a sudden they are marginalized and described as a "troubled" individual or other such appelation. There seems to be an unspoken concensus that any bad behavior or idiotic statement by one of their own shall be disavowed and, depending on who the offender is, kicked out or "rehabilitated".

      It's always those "other christians" (who aren't really christians) or liberals trying to make "True Christians™" look bad.

      And why do christians have such a profound "victims complex"?

      "Wealthy the Spirit which knows its own flight. Stealthy the Hunter who slays his own fright. Blessed is the Traveler who journeys the length of the Light."

      by CanisMaximus on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 01:03:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this wonderful diary. What a (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eternal Hope, boofdah

    good way to spend Sunday morning.  I love DKOS but frequently get tired of politics especially when hatefulness takes over a diary that I had had a special interest in.  This one has been wholly enjoyable.  Thank you for sharing your spiritual path with us and for allowing us to discuss those aspects of spirituality that we are able to share with one another.  This is the true expression of "faith."  The ability to accept the beliefs of others and the ability to express our own without shame or condemnation.  What a great congregation we shared this Sunday morning because of your generosity.

  •  Faith vs Proof (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Faith is knowing something that cannot be proven. It's more powerful than proof, because it can answer and explain more (the unproveable), but it is less reliable. And where faith conflicts with proof, faith must yield.

    Except when a miracle proves something not just "impossible" but unprovable to anyone who didn't directly experience the miracle. Given technology (a creature of proof) and hallucinations (the ultimate unreliable unprovability), even miracles are compelling only to the intellectually - and spiritually - lazy, incompetent or fearful. Though we're all each of those to some degree.

    The problem for a convenient life is that faith, while unreliable, is also the only way to know some of the most important things: life after death, the origin of existence, the limits of experience short of the limits of existence, rewards for morality. But some of the other most important things, like accepting other people different from us, accepting ourselves, and other rational (and even irrational but beneficial) behavior is often in conflict with faith. Where anything can be proven, faith must leave it alone.

    Faith is powerful, but only to be used when nothing else can be relied upon. Fortunately for the faith business, there's plenty left to qualify. But since it's still so unreliable, even legitimate faith must stop where it conflicts with another person's knowledge of themself, whether by proof or by faith.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 09:58:08 AM PDT

  •  When I was very young, half a century ago (7+ / 0-)

    My Sunday school teacher suggested one would die or get struck by lightening if you were to bring a snake into the church. (Funny, in Appalachia they have different beliefs.)

    Of course, what hyper active child could resist.  The very next Sunday I put a snake in my blue blazer pocket where during the service it had babies. Nobody died.  No fireworks.

    Since, of course, I've been skeptical of religion and religious claims.

  •  I like the word "godaholism" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that I've seen in some places to describe the syndrome.

    We have freedom of religion here in response to the excesses of British rule that led to the war of independence.  The British had a state religion and back in those days it actually meant something.  

    We also have the freedom to drink, enshrined in the Constitution by the amendment that repealed Prohibition.

    Nonetheless, if someone drinks too much, we generally acknowledge that they have a problem.  And while responsible, moderate social drinking is perfectly ok, we don't have politicians going around giving speeches about how they were saved by beer.  There is no Office of Drinking-based Initiatives steering federal funds for social programs to liquor stores and saloons.

    All in all, trying to ban religion would be an outrageous breach of freedom, and would fail just like Prohibition failed.  People certainly have an inalienable right to believe whatever they want, and in some situations it can be a healthy thing, like going out for drinks with your buddies once in a while is relaxing and doesn't make one an alcoholic.  However, the government should get completely out of the religion business, and politicians should stop pandering to the vulnerable.  Religion and drinking should be viewed in about the same way.

    Hawkish on impeachment.

    by clyde on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 10:31:03 AM PDT

  •  You mean you ACTUALLY BELIEVED... (4+ / 0-)

    The bullshit? The stuff that is designed to keep old men (dressed as women) well-fed and housed, not to mention well-supplied with young boys?

    Thank the Creator that I was brought up in Rome, Italy, where people are actually realistic about religion! You Americans (By the way, I'm a U.S. citizen and a U.S. army veteran, but I have retained the Roman mind) should pass some time in Rome as a vaccination against taking catholicism in particular and religion in general too seriously!

  •  Raised Baptist here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Then moved on to non-denominational Christian, then went to Quaker meetings, then practiced Buddhism, then flirted with Catholicism. Now I'm not sure what I am anymore. A person who still believes in God is all, I suppose.

    I read the diary with great interest, but didn't understand it all. I couldn't understand why these problems the diarist had in life could be blamed on religion, or an addiction to religion.

    Could the diarist, or anyone else, help me with this?

    "You'd think somewhere along in that desert he'd have given that horse a name." --- A coworker, on the song "A Horse With No Name"

    by droogie6655321 on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 11:08:45 AM PDT

  •  the way you linked it to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lirtydies, boofdah

    an alcoholic was how I had interest in reading the entire diary. the diary is excellent IMO.

    thanks for posting

  •  Myself, I would say it more probable (0+ / 0-)

    that it was your over-strict parents and poor first marrage that has made your emotional life difficult.

    I would not blame your parents' strictness on the Church - there are plenty of less strict parents than yours who are Roman Catholic.  And there are many many happy marrages within the Church.

    I would also like to comment that this sort of diary does some harm to the attractiveness of the Democratic party to religious people, especially Catholics.

    ...there was no telling what people might find out once they felt free to ask... - Joseph Heller

    by Thomas Twinnings on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 11:57:44 AM PDT

    •  as a sort of catholic one of my hero's in the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      church was Bishop Gumbleton. He was forced out of the church last year for advocating for the victims of sexual abuse and for the rights of gays within the church. As a Bishop he advocated for peace and justice throughout the world. As long as the "church" takes these kinds of positions it loses it's attractiveness to progressives.

      To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men~~ Abraham Lincoln

      by Tanya on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 12:55:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  you don't find (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      strict and socially regressive parents who attend churches that are not.

      It's a matter of enablement and cooperation to crush the thought and emotional independence of the children.

      De-religionization is a story throughout American society.  It's as much a fact on the Republican side as the Democratic one.  Our side is more open about the facts of misuse of religion and more accepting of the victims.  If you deny that religion misuse is a social reality for a lot of Americans, you're a Republican anyway.

      Renewal, not mere Reform.

      by killjoy on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 04:14:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Like the old Cheech and Chong skit. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boofdah, Tanya, golconda2

    "I used to be all hung up on drugs, now I'm all hung up on the Lord."

    Seems like most religious obsessives just replaced one addiction for another.

  •  Secularism and the Pointlessness of Life (0+ / 0-)

    Is it any wonder that some leftists choose religion over a strictly scientific view of the world?
    If you really look at Darwinian evolution you will realize that it is the ultimate form of capitalism.
    Everything we do (from an evolutionary biological perspective)is to enhance replication of our genes.  When people describe the love they have for a grandchild or a significant other they are describing biological impulses towards organisms or "vehicles" of survival machines.
    As a liberal I have always thought that people shouldn't be judged by the color of their skin or their physical appearance, but evolution forces us to desire the most attractive and/or symmetrically featured members of our species. Evolution wants to weed out all the weak, deformed handicapped or otherwise unattractive people that society pretends to care for. In fact it could be argued that evolution is the ultimate form of fascism.
    And even if we do succeed in finding an attractive mate it is an entirely pointless excercise. It is based on an ancient and outdated imperative to pass on our genes. Our genes act as the replicators that create these organisms as a means of acquiring resources and copying themselves. At the level of the organism we may attempt to attribute some form of meaning to these activities, but the sole implicit purpose is to benefit the gene.
    Ironically, this absurd desire to pass on our genes is completely futile, since our genetic line will eventually end (one way or another). It is really only another case of humans ignoring reality so they may feel better and carry on their pointless lives.

    So my question is... how do all you secularists out there deal with things like the pointlessness of our daily lives and the finality of death? Do you want to have kids, and if so, why? Why even care about things like Global Warming and the Iraq War, if death will someday eradicate us all?
    Perhaps it is only by escaping nature (through things like religion and scientic progress) that we are able to carry on with our lives.

    •  Your understanding of evolution is simplistic. (5+ / 0-)

      I might recommend a little anthropology.

      Apes are communal creatures.  Humans and their ancestors evolved in concert with others, not in competition/isolation.

      It is true communities often compete for resources, leading to wars, etc.  

      But we have never been alone.  We've always had people around us who cae about us and who we care about.

      Life has whatever meaning we invest in it.  Accepting the finality of death hardly makes life meningless.

      "Imagination, the traitor of the mind, has taken my solitude and slain it." Robinson Jeffers

      by tecampbell on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 01:22:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Altruism (0+ / 0-)

        "But we have never been alone.  We've always had people around us who care about us and who we care about"

        Yeah but does any that matter if it can all be attributed to inclusive fitness and kin recognition? Aren't people that "care" about each other just protecting their own genetic interests? Science says "yes".

        "Life has whatever meaning we invest in it.  Accepting the finality of death hardly makes life meningless."

        We can invest all we want. If we forget everything when we die then it's meaningless.

    •  Troll alert (0+ / 0-)

      "Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back." Carl Sagan

      by dogheaven on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 02:12:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Humanity becomes even more poignant (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rebecca, moiv, boofdah, Tam in CA

      when we realize how finite and yes "special" each of us is.  We have captured for a "moment" in human history a unique combination of physical characteristics that will never be replicated again.  It is our job to give MEANING to our life and decide what we do with it.

      All that we have is a gift for only a short time and what we make of it is up to us.

      There is plenty enough meaning for me! It is one wild ride, to be sure.

      My own philosophy is "Chop wood and carry water joyfully."  Well, OK not always joyfully but I try.  Be of service reduce suffering where you can.

      Sometimes I think we make it all too complicated.

    •  You have made several errors... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rebecca, boofdah

      ...including the use of the term 'leftist' and the confusion of 'secularist' with 'athiest'.  There are maybe seven 'leftists' alive at this point and they have very little if anything to do with the Progressive movement or the Democratic Party.  And there is a tremendous difference between an athiest, who does not believe in the existence of supernatural powers, and a secularist, who believes that the best way to secure a citizen's right to practice religion is to make sure that all governmental institutions are free from religious influence.  For example, a secularist will never have to worry about our government being taken over by dreaded muslims because access to governmental institutions will be unimpeded no matter what the dominant religion of the nation is.

      These errors that you have made in addition to your recent registration with DailyKos leads me to believe that you are likely a troll.  But just in case you are not, then welcome.  Enjoy the discussion and try to learn a bit about us.

      •  I'm a little older than most of you... (0+ / 0-)

        What exactly is a troll?

        •  Definition of a troll... (0+ / 0-)

          ...A troll is somebody who writes misleading or insulting comments in an attempt to derail the conversation.  They will often be newly registered with few diaries or comments.

          Having said that, I am not sure that you are a troll.  My reasons for thinking that you might be one had to do with you being newly registered and the incorrect way that you used the terms 'leftist', 'athiest', and 'secular'.  I explained why in my previous comment.

          But here you are, responding in the comments; carrying on the discussion.  So I do not think that you are a troll.

          But while I have you here, I wanted to chime in on the discussion you were having regarding Natural Selection and Survival of the Fittest.  These are two very important components of Evolution but they are often misunderstood.  When one defines Fitness in a non-scientific way they tend to think of Brad Pitt or Scarlett Johanson.  So it is easy to think that these forces are only selecting 'beautiful people'.  That is not necessarily the case.

          But the term Fitness simply means those sets of traits that yield the highest probability of survival in a given environment.  In malaria-soaked regions of Africa, that environment has selected for people who carry the sickle-cell anemia trait because that trait confers a certain immunity to malaria.  So that is an example of a 'disease' being selected for through evolutionary forces.

          I regret that you find the theory of Evolution to be cold and distressing.  If it is any consolation, the theory was never intended to give people comfort; it was only intended to accurately describe the natural world in which we live.  And so far, within that world, the only things that we have found that give comfort or meaning to things is people.  And some of us have found great meaning in that realization.

          •  cold and distressing (0+ / 0-)

            Ah I see. Thanks for the response.

            "When one defines Fitness in a non-scientific way they tend to think of Brad Pitt or Scarlett Johanson.  So it is easy to think that these forces are only selecting 'beautiful people'.  That is not necessarily the case."

            No I understand that, but there's no denying that nearly every second of our lives is dedicted to finding attractive mates and there's no denying that that is for the purpose of gene survival. We want to find an attractive mate so that we will hopefully have attractive offspring and there be an increased chance that they will pass on our genes after we die. I think that this is explained pretty thoroughly in Dawkins "Selfish Gene" (I think that's the book?)

            "I regret that you find the theory of Evolution to be cold and distressing.  If it is any consolation, the theory was never intended to give people comfort; it was only intended to accurately describe the natural world in which we live.  And so far, within that world, the only things that we have found that give comfort or meaning to things is people.  And some of us have found great meaning in that realization."

            If you find comfort or meaning in people it might be because you are fooling yourself (like most people do). Our love for our friends and families is based on a selfish genetic imperative. We love our children because they carry our genes and we want them to survive. So we feel a desire to protect them. It is just the selfish gene in action.

            "If it is any consolation, the theory was never intended to give people comfort; it was only intended to accurately describe the natural world in which we live."

            Right, but that is why I am saying (in my original comment) that it is no wonder that some "progressives" feel the need to retain their religious beliefs. I mean the modern secular Left seems to forget that there is such a thing as nihilism that tends to go along with atheism. Do you really expect people to see all the death and horror in this world and not hope for something better?
            If we are willing to fool ourselves by attributing false meaning to cold biological processes, how can  we then turn around and attack religion as illogical. Everything that we do is illogical.

            •  BTW (0+ / 0-)

              BTW just to clarify that last post...

              I am not trying to say that atheists cannot find meaning (the advancement of life-extension technology, transhumanism and the extropic movement are all interesting developments)

              And I should point out that many of my favorite writers/ artists of the last century tended to be atheists (though they also also tended to be a bit more intellectually honest than the current crop of lightweights: Hitchens, Dawkins etc...)  

            •  Further thoughts... (0+ / 0-)

              ...after a modest delay.  :)

              You make several interesting points - which I am going to skip completely in favor of this one:

              "Right, but that is why I am saying (in my original comment) that it is no wonder that some "progressives" feel the need to retain their religious beliefs. I mean the modern secular Left seems to forget that there is such a thing as nihilism that tends to go along with atheism. Do you really expect people to see all the death and horror in this world and not hope for something better? "

              I need to know that you understand the difference between 'secular' and 'athiest'.  I do not mean to be insulting by asking you to spell it out so clearly but it is an actual piece of Right-Wing Propaganda that I cannot abide.  The vast majority of Progressives are NOT athiests; but they wish that thier governmental services be available to citizens regardless of their faith (ie: secular government).  There are Progressive athiests that want secular government and there are Progressive Christians that want secular government.  The bottom line is that Progressives believe that secular government provides the security necessary for people to worship in the manner of their own coosing or not at all.

              The RightWing propagandists would like everybody to believe that Progressives want to destroy Religion of any kind; that we will come into their homes and burn their Bibles.  They are lying to you in order to make you afraid.  They are keeping you afraid so that you will not question them.

              But I realize that that was not the point of your initial post.  This was:

              "Ironically, this absurd desire to pass on our genes is completely futile, since our genetic line will eventually end (one way or another). It is really only another case of humans ignoring reality so they may feel better and carry on their pointless lives.

              "So my question is... how do all you secularists [you actually mean: athiests] out there deal with things like the pointlessness of our daily lives and the finality of death? Do you want to have kids, and if so, why? Why even care about things like Global Warming and the Iraq War, if death will someday eradicate us all?"

              Despite the fact that you called Dawkins a lightweight you managed to argue his points quite well.  Notice the edit I made in the second paragraph.  It is important because otherwise the question itself would be pointless.  And I cannot answer for athiests because they have worked out answers to these questions and I have not.  For me, I see no reason to define myself in terms of the existence or absence of a deity.  Likewise, I see no reason to base the 'meaning' or 'point' of my life on its longevity or its biological or non-biological aspects.

              You see, your argument, and Dawkins', starts out by reducing our actions to the probablistic outcomes of our genes.  Fair enough, but why stop there?  True scientific reductionists understand that those genes are nothing more than complex arrangements of millions of separable molecules acting out their biological destinies.  And each of those molecules is made up of individual atoms which have, inherent in their make-up, propensities for bonding with certain other atoms in certain circumstances.  And these atoms are made up of smaller particles (electron, proton, neutron), each with there own probabilistic attractions.  And we can reduce these particles further down through quarks and leptons to the very essential forms of universal energy.  And these forms of energy - the indivisible stuff of the Universe - is still just acting out their probablistic destinies.  By this logic, our existence is not random but rather it is inevitable as determined by the essential energies of the Universe.  Our lives are not pointless but rather essential to the very existence of the Universe.

              In other words, do not sell yourself short, just because you haven't figured out why we are here doesn't mean we shouldn't be.

    •  uhm, no (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That's a false dilemma.  Pure/secular materialism or not the only alternative to the sacred/magical materialism of present mainstream religions.  Though many people do initially take the route of pure materialism on the their way out of religions involving magical/sacred materialism.

      Immanence and transcendence doctrines, on the one hand, and nihilism doctrines, on the other, are not all there is, despite corrupt pretensions in Christian theology to that effect.

      Serious religion, and serious nonreligiousness, at bottom rely on what some have called a doctrine of transparence.  It is certainty that experience itself yields enough to give meaning to life, that true revelation is possible and unmediated- and no book, organization, or set of doctrines is an adequate substitute.

      Renewal, not mere Reform.

      by killjoy on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 04:37:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wow you don't know anything about evolution (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Evolution wants to weed out all the weak, deformed handicapped or otherwise unattractive people that society pretends to care for. In fact it could be argued that evolution is the ultimate form of fascism.

      Evolution is a theory that describes how life evolves on our planet.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Evolution is not a god or any other type of being with wants and desires.  

      Evolution has nothing to do with fascism.  Fascism is a right wing political movement.  Evolution is a scientific theory.  

      Since you're so ignorant of evolution I'm going to tell you that theory does not mean guess.  

      but evolution forces us to desire the most attractive and/or symmetrically featured members of our species.

      Evolution doesn't force anything.  Because we are intelligent beings beauty is what we choose to be beautiful.  Look at the muscular beauties we see in movies today.  Back in the 50's they would never have reached the screen.  At least as a beauty.   Even the male actors today have to be much more fit to be seen as handsome.  Amazing how much misinformation can be contained in one rant.  

      ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

      by Rebecca on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 05:09:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Natural Selection (0+ / 0-)

        I'm not sure I understand your argument...
        Do you you deny the evolutionary mechanism known as survival of the fittest? Do you deny that the weak, the deformed and the "unfit" are  weeded out by natural selection?

        As far as beauty is concerned, I wish that your above statements were true. Unfortunately, physical beauty may have more to do with bilateral symmetry. Symmetry may act as a marker of genetic and phenotypic quality and is used by many species (not just humans) in selecting potential mates. There may be slight changes in beauty "trends" but the fundamentals remain the same.

  •  Still a Christian... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BenGoshi, boofdah

    But I know where you're coming from.  I went to a very right-wing church when I was a teenager and bought into the whole "anyone who isn't like us is going to hell" b.s.

    I still believe, but I've rejected the church of Republicanism long ago.  I think God's will is that we help people who are doing worse than us, which is why I'm a liberal to begin with:).

    Blogging For Michigan-A blog so good, Republicans had us censored!

    by djtyg on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 12:55:27 PM PDT

  •  Religion is an affront to logic and reason (0+ / 0-)

    I think that is why religious people can think so many fucked up things.  The Bible is also filled with contradictions so it's easy to cherry pick what you think is "true Christianity."  As far as I think, if you can't explain your position to me without good logic, reason, evidence, or appeals to authority,  you might as well not even talk to me.  Interesting note: there is actually no good evidence of a historical Jesus, although it seems unlikely that there wouldnt be evidence if he existed in reality.

  •  I was walking by Puget sound one day, wondering (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, BenGoshi, boofdah, FishBiscuit

    where the bald eagles had gone and whether we would still have any polar bears around in 20 years.  Suddenly I realized that none of this would bother  my born-again father-in-law -- to him it's simply God's will.  It's simply part of God's long term plan for us.  So no need for any responsibility for anything.

    To me, that kind of thinking, and the hate, and that single-minded evangicalism have been the curse of civilization since its beginning, and they are the things that scare me about current organized religion.  I commend you heartily for breaking free! It was probably even more difficult than you describe...

  •  If you think you are ready to question your faith (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Buckeye BattleCry, boofdah

    check out this site.  it is a simplistic site, but if you are a believer, watch the videos, and don't over rationalize, you might have your consciousness raised.

  •  I have often wondered... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boofdah, FishBiscuit

    If the religious indoctrination of children is not child abuse.

    I was strong enough psychically to totally reject organized religion in 4th grade.

    A major family dust up for sure but I never went back to the church or paid it a second thought except when I saw the damage wrought in the name of our god.

    They are doing it as we speak and the death toll is simply staggering.

    Just because they are not doing it in our town does not mean it is not happenning and being supported by "religious" puveyors of many faiths.

    Too bad.

    So sad that this is a feature, much akin to a mental virus, of our society.

    They need to be called out more.

    •  Richard Dawkins makes that very point in his book (0+ / 0-)

      The God Delusion (more info here), that religious indoctrination at a very young age can indeed be child abuse, and there is no such thing as a "Christian child" or a "religious child" but a "child of religious parents" etc.

      You were an unusually strong child to make that courageous choice in the 4th grade! Not many kids that age (myself included) can take that kind of willful, strong action.

      I believe the best we can do as parents is to teach our kids about many world religions, Eastern and Western, and then leave the choice up to them when they become adults and have the mental/critical-thinking and emotional skills to do what is right for them.

  •  My story . . . (0+ / 0-)

    This is the very short version (uh, readable in 15 seconds +/-).


    The distinction that goes with mere office runs far ahead of the distinction that goes with actual achievement. H.L. Mencken

    by BenGoshi on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 01:36:06 PM PDT

  •  What are you doing on dkos if you think life is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yoduuuh do or do not

    pointless?  Aren't you trying for meaningful change?
    This sounds trite, but don't you want to leave the world a better place?  When you die (and, yes, it's final) that doesn't eradicate everything.  The individual is not the center of the universe.  The myth of life after death was developed from fear of giving up this life and with wishful thinking that, after all, you will never die.
    Many people fool themselves from fear that there's a god and that he's got a big stick.  I believe we all have the basis of sound, ethical standards if we would only use them.

    •  Of course I work for meaningful change. (0+ / 0-)

      That doesn't mean I need religion or a faith to do that. The finality of death is WHY I want to help leave the world a better place for our descendants, because I won't be around in any way to help them, or to watch from the Great Country Club in the Sky (h/t to Bill Maher for that one) to make sure things are OK.

      I'm not sure if this comment is directed at me or another commenter in this diary, because you seem to be on the same page as me WRT what happens (or not) after death.

  •  MK, sorry to be coming to your diary so late (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am sorry that you've had a difficult path with religion.  I have had the opposite experience.  Religion was never forced on me.  We were Episcopalians, but my parents were not particularly diligent about taking us to church.  I actually resented that as a child growing up in the deep south because I felt different from others.

    Perhaps because it was never forced, I came to faith on my own.  It's been a tremendous blessing in my life and has given me hope and peace during some very dark times.

    Since I know you personally, I'm going out on a limb here to say that I think you might be going through another phase along your own spiritual path.  I see you still seeking something from religion or God or faith because you, more than anyone I know, explore the topic so often.  Please keep an open mind and heart and see what happens (as a parent, you'll need it!)

    Carrie French, age 19, died in Iraq on June 5, 2005. Why?

    by Susan S on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 04:06:33 PM PDT

    •  I have to admit that, at least from an objective (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Susan S

      standpoint, religion still does interest me. :) Funny you mentioned that observation about me, because yesterday, on the way home from Sarasota, my husband and I stopped at a Barnes & Noble, where we bought some parenting books. One I picked out was, interestingly enough, about teaching world religions (Eastern and Western) to your children.

      Religion can be a beautiful, fulfilling, and meaningful element in a person's life; and as I mention in my diary, I don't want to disparage or demean that in any way. If I did, I'd be just as bad as those on the Religious Wrong, who think somehow they're "better than" others--even fellow Christians--because of their narrow set of beliefs. I see some in the atheist community behaving that way and it frustrates me.

      Thanks very much for your kind thoughts. You're always someone I look up to and admire for your passion, activism, and commitment to doing what's truly right and just! :)

  •  Amazing story (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thank you for sharing your journey. Your experiences have made you stronger!

    You will make such a wonderful mother! Having gone through the same process, don't be afraid to ask for help.

  •  Finding the Answers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I was misusing religion in the way alcoholics misuse alcohol.

    The root of all evil is insecurity, so it should be no surprise that religion, like many things, is misused. Religion provides many people the means to control others by manipulating their insecurities. That's how it's turned to evil purposes.

    But, the cure for insecurity is the experience of love. You can get that experience through religion, but you don't have to. If we thought of religion as a spiritual journey, rather than a set of rules that have to be followed, we might get it faster. We need to think of religion as a means of finding the answers, not just a list of answers.

    You sound like you have been on that spiritual journey. We all seem to start in the same place, with the blinders on and unaware even that it's a quest to be had. Some never appear to wake up. They find comfort in the repeated incantations and stay entranced.

    Love means getting off automatic and choosing good. That process is a process of awareness. Becoming aware of the entrancement of your religion allowed you to question it and ultimately make a choice. Continued questioning can allow you to refine your awareness of what is good. If you continue on that path, I predict you will find that choosing good leads to happiness.

    Good luck on your journey.

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