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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.155.202.203
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 01:08 pm:   

Ghosts.
Fairies.
Single moment/place ('subspace').
Bigfoot.
Nessie and other river monsters (though not as an actual physical creature)
Evil spirits.
God (he's basically a big fairy, so to speak).
Conscious universe.

This isn't complete and probably looks a bit daft now I think about it, but I am interested in seeing what others think and feel about such things.
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.166.117.210
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 01:15 pm:   

Stop it. You're scaring me.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 129.11.77.197
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 01:23 pm:   

I believe in life after birth. I know it's a controversial viewpoint, but I just think it's possible.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.155.202.203
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 01:24 pm:   

I hope so!
I've done a lot of research into that subspace thing and think it solves/explains all the others. We're in a big massive dream, folks!
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 129.11.77.197
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 01:28 pm:   

Oh yeah? You really do need to keep off the Internet, Tony. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subspace_(BDSM)


:-)
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 129.11.77.197
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 01:30 pm:   

Btw, I did say life after birth.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.155.202.203
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 01:35 pm:   

I know! I was actually referring to Zed's post, but my answer applied to both.
I have no problem with people thinking my ideas daft or wrong, btw, and I'm not thumping a table about it. :-)
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 129.11.77.197
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 01:41 pm:   

You seem remarkably chipper at the mo, Tony. Good to see.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 03:36 pm:   

I believe in the continuation of infinite consciousness after the apparent destruction of the individual mind... and you can quote me on that!
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 129.11.77.197
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 03:41 pm:   

Ozzy Osbourne is a fine example of said phenomenon.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 04:18 pm:   

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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 147.252.230.148
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 05:59 pm:   

"I believe in life after birth."

I believe in live afterbirth.
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.166.117.210
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 06:00 pm:   

Me, too. On toast.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 06:28 pm:   

I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows.
(you probably have to be my age or older to understand that little "joke" )

But, seriously, it would be nice to really believe in something esoteric or spiritual - like God, for example (I'm a devout atheist).

I guess I do believe in something - I believe that there are lots of things going on in the world and beyond which we have no knowledge/understanding of and which are way beyond our comprehension. So that might include other forms of life (on earth or elsewhere) that we don't know about, life after death, the existence of ghosts, and so on. I don't totally *believe in* these things, but I have a very open mind on them and believe them to be a distinct possibility.

So, I guess I'm kind of sitting on the fence when it comes to my beliefs ...
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 06:38 pm:   

Caroline, I believe God is sort of like the Lone Ranger, or Racer X in the old "Speed Racer" cartoons.

You see Him acting, or you think you do... but if you try to seek Him out or get more info or in any way define Him further, He's gone! Nowhere to be found.

All definitions defy Him. Including, claiming all definition defy Him.

Including, too, "Him." He's a Them. And Them's a Him. And Him's not there either, so you're right to be a devout atheist. But you're also wrong to be one....
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James Armstrong (James_armstrong)
Username: James_armstrong

Registered: 10-2010
Posted From: 86.173.124.62
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 08:27 pm:   

I believe in Cthulu!

I'm obviously joking but if I wasn't this would be my evidence:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloop

http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4177

"The roughly-triangulated origin of the Bloop is approximately 950 nautical miles (1,760 km) from the more precisely-described location of R'Lyeh, a sunken extra-dimensional city written of by H.P. Lovecraft..." .
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 91.110.174.170
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 12:50 am:   

What do I believe in? At times, not much. But the following are in the running:
ghosts
precognitive dreams
omens
solidarity
people
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Mick Curtis (Mick)
Username: Mick

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.176.103.153
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 08:07 am:   

It makes me a comparative miserable sod, but I definitely don't believe in:-
ghosts
fairies
precognitive anything (I feel that if we can 'see' the future in any way, that that suggests the future is fixed, and therefore that we don't have a choice)
mediums (I think they're either fooling everyone else or fooling themselves)
god
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 91.110.241.164
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 09:35 am:   

Disbelief lists are easier and involve less doubt. My top 5 might be:
all gods
all representatives of gods (priests etc)
the continued value of capitalism
the value of Human Resources staff
life after death

Note: doesn't that contradict listing 'ghosts' as a belief? Not quite. I don't know what ghosts are but I don't think they are a life after death, more a kind of echo or scar or different kind of memory. They don't live, they just haunt. I won't pretend to be sure of any of that, of course.

Mick, I think serious mediums (not TV ones or money chasers) are delusional in a complex way that does not preclude them having paranormal abilities, whatever those really are. And delusions can be so deep-seated they are experienced as realities.

In the past I've expressed the view that all supernatural experiences, without exception, are symptoms of mental or neurological illness. These days I would say that the 'norm' of mental and neurological function is not a true norm but an ideal that nobody lives up to. Delusions and hallucinations are so common they have to be reckoned with as experiences. So I would say ghosts are real in the sense that they are not necessarily lies, they are valid subjective experiences. I do think 'paranormal' phenomena may well be entirely real, and that a lot of strange experiences can be explained as paranormal experiences without the need to refer to a fully-fledged supernatural realm. But maybe I've seen too many episodes of The X-Files...
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 91.110.241.164
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 09:41 am:   

It's worth remebering (and I'm partly contradicting my own speculation here) that for centuries epileptic fits were interpreted as demonic possession and treated only through exorcism. That's why I can't stand films or books about demonic possession. They insult all the people who have been tortured and killed because their illness was stigmatised as evil.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 91.110.241.164
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 09:42 am:   

It's also worth typing more carefully than me. Apologies!
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.155.202.203
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 10:10 am:   

I believe this 'subspace mind' I found about recently is the answer. It's a kind of psychic internet, something that lies underneath everything else. It can create anything, and it's 'us' creating it. I believe when we die we aren't dying but just going back into it. I believe something in our skulls acts as a radio to it and picks it up, that we are physically temporary, ghosts in bottles. And while we're in them, we pick up the problems of those vessels/bottles. There's a bit in the latest Harry Potter that really resonated with me - The three kids copy the bodies of three people to get into this ministry of magic. Inside, the man Ron is is approached by this bad guy who tells him he's just about to interrogate 'Ron's' wife. When the man goes ron is almost in tears over his wife, even calling her his wife. What shook me is that I was worried for Ron's wife, too - not the man's, but *Ron's*. I think we are spiritually like the real Ron but inside the body of this human being. Some people - the mad, the sick - have their doors ajar, so to speak, and are in touch with this big picture but also a little removed from the rest of us 'here'.

Joel - could you watch a film that addressed that epilepsy? I actually believe in possession, but not in the way portrayed in the films. I think it can be/is quite slight, almost subliminal, like a shade on the mind.
'My' God isn't the church God btw - the church God is religion's fumbling at the shape under the blanket. They get part of it, but not the whole.
The best, most convincing ghost story I heard recently was two brothers when they were young playing in the bathroom in broad daylight. Suddenly in thin air an old couple appeared and talked to them, chatted about their day. Then they vanished back into thin air. Every problem people have with the ghost story - that people see them alone, when they are scared, it's dark, that ghosts don't talk to us - is addressed here. I've been in touch with the author of the book this story was in and he seems completely genuine. When he started his book he was a complete skeptic, but in researching it he completely changed his mind. It changed his life, in fact. Will Storr, he's called, and his book, '(Will Storr) Investigates the supernatural' is one of the best books I've ever read on the subject.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.155.202.203
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 10:12 am:   

And Joel, my wife went off crappy tv series/dramas about murder when I got her to read this book on Dennis Nilsen. It made her sad for him and his victims (it did me, too) and see theses progs as suddenly quite sickly motivated.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 12:31 pm:   

Joel, it's good to see you've left the James Randi camp when it comes to paranormal phenomena, or what we, in our limited sensory capacity, perceive as paranormal.

Phenomena I believe in due to first-hand experience, constituting proof for me as an "individual":

Precognitive dreams: this happened me regularly as a young child, once freaking my parents out when I proclaimed I was off to find the hedgehog I had just dreamed was under our hedge and then was discovered playing on the kitchen floor with said beast shortly after. True bill. I still have them but nowhere near as regularly. For example I will sometimes dream of a rare book or even an issue of a comic I have been seeking and wake up knowing exactly where I will find it that day. I can't make this happen and sometimes go for years without such an experience, but when it happens I know immediately and have ceased being shocked by the phenomenon.

A non-linear concept of time: which follows from the above.

Meaningful "coincidence": in the form of asking for a randomly selected specific occurence, as a sign (if you will), that then occurs bang on cue. My experiments are always of a necessarily trivial nature, in their mechanics, and can only be performed when the time is felt to be right, often while deep in thought on the bus, but I believe this phenomenon may explain the apparent efficacy of prayer.

An infinite conscious universe that is aware of us and everything else that constitutes itself: that follows partly from the above (unless I'm a psychokinetic of Valentine Michael Smith proportions) and partly from my own logical deductions.

The power and efficacy of Tarot Cards and divination in general: when performed ritualistically in the right frame of mind and in the right circumstances and for the right reasons - seriously, the effects can be spookily accurate. This ties in neatly with the conscious universe and non-linear nature of time beliefs as well.

Remote viewing or clairvoyance: as a young man in the 80s I open-mindedly took part in an experiment, run by Jenny Randles, and got both target locations, randomly visited in the UK by her, bang-on exactly right. Pre-selected times were agreed, I sat down and concentrated in the proper frame of mind, along with several hundred others throughout the UK, wrote down what came into my mind and even scared myself at how accurate my "mental pictures" turned out to be. It satisfied me the phenomenon occurs but I couldn't begin to understand how or pretend to be able to make it happen at will. The harder you try, expecting results, the less successful you are - that's all I know.

Telepathy: we've all experienced the feeling of being stared at from behind or in the dark (as memorably portrayed in Poe's 'The Tell-Tale Heart') and experiments with twins have shown evidence of direct mind-to-mind communication but, again, this phenomenon can no more be controlled or predicted than we can begin to understand how it works. I believe the infinite conscious universe acts as a conduit, as it clearly links us all, but communicating with that ultra-intelligence is like an amoeba trying to have a conversation with an ostrich.

The existence of an infinite variety of alien life throughout the universe and also intelligent and even technologically advanced alien life: I mean that one's a no-brainer!

Hypnotism: having witnessed my mate Sean (yes, that Sean), my sister and a cousin hypnotised and make complete ejits out of themselves in public.


Paranormal phenomena I believe are within the bounds of possibility but have no direct experiential evidence of:

Ghosts: I agree entirely with Joel's analysis.

UFOs: if Earth has been visited then it is more likely to have happened in prehistoric times, rather than recently, and for us to have been the result. I have a theory that the Moon may not be a natural satellite and is the single greatest clue staring us in the face. Think of the coincidence of it just happening to be of exactly the right dimensions and at exactly the right distance to appear exactly the same size as the Sun in our sky, and the dramatic effect that coincidence has had on the development of life and intelligence on planet Earth...

Man-beasts: of which Orang-pendek is the most likely to be found.

Sea monsters: the larger they are the more affected they would be by busy shipping lanes, and the more they would avoid them. The oceans are so vast, and still largely unexplored, that all manner of bizarre aquatic beasties could still be hiding from us.

Psychokinesis.

Spontaneous Human Combustion.

Miracle healing: mind over body.

The survival, not so much of life, but of the identity and illusion of individual consciousness after death: in the form of spirit, if you will.

Reincarnation: linked to the above.

Possession: ditto.

Non-corporeal spirit entities or intelligences of a higher form of existence than us but still experiencing the illusion of individualism: demons, angels, ultraterrestrials, etc...
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.131.108.22
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 01:14 pm:   

I do a trick for myself - I take away names like 'alien' 'ghosts' and 'fairies' and see what's left. When you do this you see conections and patterns. I used to feel gullible and foolish about these feelings but have since come to realise that's who I am and must accept it if I'm to be properly happy.
Stevie; I think river monsters are ghosts, tulpa-type things. But I also think tulpas become able to think for themselves. I think we came about that way in some way.
My son reckons we 'fed' the existence of God, then went back in time (because he could do that ;) ) and formally made himself. This DOES sound daft, till you look into the depths of space, or lie in the dark without a sound feeling how amazing your mind is, how far it stretches.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.131.108.22
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 01:16 pm:   

I know this sounds utterly daft, Stevie, but when I saw Star Wars as a kid and Obi Wan mentioned the force it rang a huge, huge bell with me.
Funny, but those movies were a weird kind of tool to spiritual growth for me at the time, especially when Yoda popped up. Seems daft now.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 01:47 pm:   

I hope I've never expressed too much admiration for Randi, as his default strategy for 'debunking' the paranormal is to accuse all concerned of conspiracy to fabricate evidence. Believing Randi all the way requires a major act of faith. That doesn't mean there is no bogus evidence or invalid testimony, of course.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.22.226.129
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 02:14 pm:   

those movies were a weird kind of tool to spiritual growth for me at the time, especially when Yoda popped up

No coincidence there: Erwin Kershner, the director of The Empire Strikes Back, was a Zen Buddhist and suggested Yoda's basical philosophical tenets. There are bits of Carlos Castaneda as well, e.g. when Yoda says the Force is his ally.
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.55
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 02:44 pm:   

When I was young, me and my twin had surgery to correct squints. While I was in the operating theatre my brother started screaming and clawing at his eyes. Once I was out and he went in for his surgery, I started screaming and clawing at my face.

On more occasions than I could begin to list I've known what he was going to say before he said it - whether that's just because of how well we know each other or because of a linking of minds is open to question but it genuinely does feel like our minds touching when it happens. It's also happened a couple of times with close friends.

The last three deaths in the family have all been preceded by my mother dreaming that she meets her father outside the cemetary where he's buried and discussing the person who dies later that day or week. In none of those cases was the death at the end of a long illness but was always sudden and unexpected.

I did see John Edward last year and did think it was the biggest pile of rubbish I'd ever seen - if you point into a crowd of 3000 people (who've all paid £50 plus to be there) and ask does anyone know someone called mary... you're going to get someone who'll answer.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 04:03 pm:   

People who profess to be in control of these capabilities and able to turn them off and on at will, as a performance, are all charlatans in my experience. These phenomena are so transient and unpredictable as to make any such claim demand the most stringent of tests.

The use of ritual can put us in the right frame of mind and create the right ambience for the manifestation of psychic phenomena (or what we once called magic) but even then all involved must believe and be completely focussed for positive results. Naturally this causes a few problems in the gathering of scientific evidence.

We need to get to a state of calm acceptance about the paranormal before it begins to reveal its mysteries to us, and becomes part of everyday reality... thus negating the need for the cold collection of data. But who would want to live in a world devoid of the miraculous? The great dilemma of consciousness.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 05:00 pm:   

Tony/Weber/Zed, I'll be in Leeds from Christmas Eve until the 2nd January if you want to arrange a meet-up? Raise a bit of festive cheer!
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.55
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 05:38 pm:   

I'll be in North Wales for a lot of that... and working on the working days between xmas and new year. Not sure if I can manage it.
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.166.117.210
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 05:45 pm:   

Stevie - we could meet up for a pint between Xmas and New Year if you fancy. What part of Leeds are you in?
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 05:54 pm:   

Er, would you want a girl (a very old one!) tagging along too?
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, December 17, 2010 - 11:59 am:   

It's an area called Middleton, not that far from Elland Road, but the city centre or anywhere suits. I'm gonna enjoy exploring some more of the city anyway.

Caroline, your presence would make Christmas complete! And that way I can say I met someone who once breathed the same air as Frank Zappa... anyway, Christine will be there too, so no worries.
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.166.117.210
Posted on Friday, December 17, 2010 - 12:00 pm:   

Stevie - if you fancy a meet-up email me. Be good to have a pint with you, matey.
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Allybird (Allybird)
Username: Allybird

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 88.111.137.29
Posted on Friday, December 17, 2010 - 12:36 pm:   

If I could get over from Yorkshire I would have but can't. Have a Guinness for me, Steve!
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, December 17, 2010 - 12:46 pm:   

You a Yorkshire lass as well, Ally?

Salt of the earth those people.
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Allybird (Allybird)
Username: Allybird

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 88.111.137.29
Posted on Friday, December 17, 2010 - 01:03 pm:   

Born in Manchester....ancestors worked in the cotton industry in Salford 1800's...Cheshire before that. Yorkshire people have adopted me.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, December 17, 2010 - 01:08 pm:   

Me too!
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Friday, December 17, 2010 - 02:38 pm:   

"... anyway, Christine will be there too, so no worries."

Ah, you'd be safe then. I couldn't jump on you or it might start a "catfight"!

Only kidding. My real life persona is completely different to my online one. Not deliberately, it's just that for some reason I come across as flirty and outgoing on the internet. In real life, I'm a shy little mouse!

I can't drink anymore, but I'd be happy to pop into a pub in Leeds for a quick chat. Then I'd be out again and leave you all to it. Email me on callag at blueyonder dot co dot uk (obviously turn that into a real email address) if you'd like to arrange something.

(btw, apologies to Tony for turning his thread into a meet-up thread)
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Friday, December 17, 2010 - 02:39 pm:   

BTW I'm not a Yorkshire lass by birth either, only an adopted one. I'm a West Country yokel by birth.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.225.41
Posted on Friday, December 17, 2010 - 02:46 pm:   

I dyed in the wool Yorkshire. I'm not bragging. :-(
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Patrick Walker (Patrick_walker)
Username: Patrick_walker

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 79.79.136.126
Posted on Saturday, December 18, 2010 - 12:41 am:   

I like to believe that the earth is hollow.
I believe in OBEs - but that's because I've had them.
I'm not a "conspiracy theorist" but I also strongly suspect that US government and military leaders were complicit in the 9/11 "terrorist attacks".
I believe the Patterson Bigfoot film is authentic.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Saturday, December 18, 2010 - 04:24 am:   

Well, I'm going to trump Patrick, restating my usual dysbeliefs:

I'm starting to disbelieve in the various moon landings.

I'm starting to seriously disbelieve in the very existence of nuclear weapons, or that Nagasaki/Hiroshima ever happened as explained (i.e., I'm not a denier, I'm just wondering if some other means was used to level those cities and kill all those people)

I believe governments play games with this thing called "money." There is no deficit, there need be no taxes, there need be no budgets... it's all an elaborate game with one design in mind: to keep the rich and powerful, rich and powerful; and that means all of us must stay the slaves dragging the stones to the pyramid. And to do that, we must all believe in the game, and never see what's really happening every day - those in power grabbing money for themselves from the Monopoly bank (to mix metaphors)... big handfuls of money, right in front of our faces, laughing at us the whole time....

Now go back and read my 12/18/10, 4:14 am, post in the "How did you learn to write (and write well)?" thread - yes, it's all beginning to make sense....
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Huw (Huw)
Username: Huw

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 61.216.201.94
Posted on Saturday, December 18, 2010 - 11:04 am:   

Craig, I've known people whose relatives were killed by the radiation at Nagasaki. It happened.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.225.41
Posted on Saturday, December 18, 2010 - 02:41 pm:   

He was joking, Huw. Tastelessly, I grant you. But joking all the same.
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Huw (Huw)
Username: Huw

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 61.216.202.166
Posted on Saturday, December 18, 2010 - 03:28 pm:   

Sorry, I didn't realise.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Saturday, December 18, 2010 - 04:17 pm:   

Thanks for covering for me Gary....

But I can't be craven, I must be honest, I do begin to doubt the official explanation.

I believe all the facts - all those poor souls died, all those people died of radiation and the blast.... This is not a Holocaust denial of any kind on my part - every photo is real, all the destruction is real, everything is real. Everything happened.

I'm just beginning to doubt the official STORY of HOW it went down. Whatever it was, was one of the world's worst (the worst?) horrors ever, the true nadir of humanity....

I hope that's not considered tasteless or offensive? Though it might be considered, said with all seriousness, a bit insane. Maybe it's my inability to quantify such massive terror, perpetrated by my own country.

I guess I've just grown so utterly suspicious and cynical of governments and "official explanations" anymore....
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.17.252.126
Posted on Saturday, December 18, 2010 - 08:03 pm:   

Zed/Caroline, will do!
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Saturday, December 18, 2010 - 08:47 pm:   

Stevie - look forward to it!

Craig - but why would the US government make up a story about deliberately dropping an atom bomb on lots of innocent civillians? Surely it couldn't be to cover up something even worse, could it? I just don't get why you question the official explanation. Maybe I'm being dumb here? Or am I not tuned in to your sense of humour?
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Chris_morris (Chris_morris)
Username: Chris_morris

Registered: 04-2008
Posted From: 98.220.97.79
Posted on Sunday, December 19, 2010 - 07:51 am:   

I believe ...

Craig is nuts. :-)
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.225.41
Posted on Sunday, December 19, 2010 - 10:10 am:   

I believe . . . we don't need to seek recourse to conspiracy theories to realise that our governments are corrupt. Most of the damning information in available in set texts for high school history classes.

The real problem is that nobody gives a shit.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 212.219.233.223
Posted on Sunday, December 19, 2010 - 11:46 am:   

> The real problem is that nobody gives a shit.

That's because most people are (a) full of shit, (b) greedy. They want to hold on to all the shit inside them. So they don't give a shit. They wouldn't even sell a shit. They might, however, exchange a small or medium shit for a big shit. Only when they are bursting with shit do they feel flushed with success.

I speak in strained extended metaphors. But it's true nonetheless.
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Tom_alaerts (Tom_alaerts)
Username: Tom_alaerts

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 91.176.92.216
Posted on Sunday, December 19, 2010 - 11:59 am:   

Big conspiracies always yield great stories.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.17.252.126
Posted on Sunday, December 19, 2010 - 02:28 pm:   

True, Gary... if one follows the herd.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Sunday, December 19, 2010 - 04:53 pm:   

Caroline, it's just that I'm beginning to doubt that such a bugaboo as a giant nuclear bomb, missile, device, whatever that thing is you want to call it - I'm beginning to doubt that group of things really exist at all.

To even think this immediately - don't pass Go don't collect $200 - puts you in Crazy Town. I fully understand that. But I was just airing my very-movie-like doubts at the little "inconvenient truths" that swirl all around these things, when you think long enough, which lead me to posit...

If there weren't such a thing as a Terrible Weapon, would it have to be invented? Because, yes, Caroline, there is a worse explanation than the one given, and it would be if the facts were just slightly altered. If it was a massive, the most massive explosion set off in history, but made to look like a bomb dropped from the Enola Gay during the heat and desperation of war.

Take that basic set of facts: bomb dropped from plane during war. Compare it with just an, in essence, nuance: explosion set off in a city, made to look like a bomb being dropped. The second is worse, uncovered. And useless for the purposes beyond the ending of WWII, that it has in the former story-cycle.

Because the benefits you get from the former are greater - a fabulous magical weapon that to this day, serves as a deterrent from the escalating world wars that were indeed getting worse and worse through history. Finally, a solution: the presence of massive nuclear weapons has prevented, for now 60 years, many major nations frothing into madness and engaging in old-world warlike ways.

If massive nuclear annihilation didn't exist, you'd really have to invent it, to secure peace.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 91.110.225.203
Posted on Sunday, December 19, 2010 - 08:56 pm:   

Craig, poetic metaphors are not evidence. Sorry.
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.96.253.77
Posted on Sunday, December 19, 2010 - 09:38 pm:   

Craig...are you high?
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Sunday, December 19, 2010 - 10:07 pm:   

Not currently. Not at the moment. Not at this specific, exact moment, no, Zed.

Joel, it's not a smoking gun - all my evidence falls under the classification of, the dog that did not bark.

It's just that when I opened my mind to this possibility, every now and then... little things come to me, little factoids come to light... things make you go, "Huh".... That's all.

Did you know Japan has never had a policy in place to develop nuclear weapons? And they never plan to. Interesting.

The Hiroshima blast was the equivalent to 13 kilotons of TNT exploding. Nagasaki's blast was roughly equivalent to 21 kilotons of TNT.

Has anyone every exploded that amount of TNT by itself? What does it look like? Does it look just like an atomic bomb?

That's the full extent of real-time use of atomic/nuclear weapons in history. Everything else - correct me if I'm wrong, anybody? - is evidence presented that is sourced from one place and one place only: Various government entities.

The very governments that are rancid with termite-like lies and corruption, as evidenced most lately by Wikileaks. The very governments that no one trusts - you least of all, Joel - is the sole authority for all "facts" regarding nuclear weapons technology.

... You know, stuff like that. Those are my "facts." Which are not facts, they are... just musings, wonderings, of someone who's lost a lot of faith in institutions and whatever's spoon-fed to me by governments....
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Chris_morris (Chris_morris)
Username: Chris_morris

Registered: 04-2008
Posted From: 98.220.97.79
Posted on Monday, December 20, 2010 - 02:26 am:   

Well, film evidence of the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki exist, if that counts (but I suppose a true conspiracy-theorist would say that such films could be fabricated). And I'm sure you've seen film footage of atomic bomb testing from the same era. It's possible, of course, that all such footage is faked ... but Occam's Razor, among other things, would suggest otherwise.

Also, your point about TNT-ton-equivalence? I think that's just shorthand, an unit of measure, not unlike "light-years" or "horsepower"? No one, of course, has ever actually measured the distance an actual beam of light travels in a year, and I'm not sure it could be proven that a car engine can do the work of 400-500 horses. I don't think these facts necessarily suggest conspiracy.

That being said, I suppose the degree of media manipulation and corruption undertaken by your average world superpower these days does leave one a bit paranoid. Probably it's best, however, to try to contain these impulses, to pick and choose your black helicopters, so to speak. You don't want to be one of those loonies hiding in a corrugated metal cabin in the Idaho wilderness, stockpiling weapons and writing screeds against capitalism. Or do you?
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.225.41
Posted on Monday, December 20, 2010 - 08:50 am:   

Is it a conpiracy theory to suspect that conspiracy theories are deliberately circulated so that anyone on the left can be called a looney, however sensible and grounded in very obvious facts their claims are? I for one get infuriated when the likes of, say, John Pilger - a guy who's closer to the 'events' then any lazy fucker at home who casually denies Pliger's work as a way of dealing with the moral implications of their own apathy - appears on lists including David Icke, et al. "Professional protester" he's often called. Well, let's be grateful there's folk like him around.
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.166.117.210
Posted on Monday, December 20, 2010 - 09:48 am:   

I think the RCMB is a comspiracy.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, December 20, 2010 - 12:22 pm:   

I believe a lot of the more popular conspiracy theories are fabricated by the authorities as disinformation to distract the public from what is really going on.

Living in Northern Ireland, however, I know that government and security force conspiracies are all too real unfortunately...
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Chris_morris (Chris_morris)
Username: Chris_morris

Registered: 04-2008
Posted From: 12.165.240.116
Posted on Monday, December 20, 2010 - 04:18 pm:   

>> Is it a conpiracy theory to suspect that conspiracy theories are deliberately circulated so that anyone on the left can be called a looney, however sensible and grounded in very obvious facts their claims are?

If you're suggesting that those on the right are never undeservedly called looney, I heartily disagree. My own perspective? Anyone who sees themselves as "on the left" or "on the right" necessarily tends to ignore any "obvious facts" that contradict that view. We all see the world through the prism we choose. Personally, I believe it's best not to have a prism.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Monday, December 20, 2010 - 04:42 pm:   

Why does aftermath footage have to be faked, Chris? I said, all of the facts are real - but the story of what happened to cause it, is all I said I'm beginning to question.

The more you keep your mind open to such a possibility? The more nagging doubts, about the entire nuclear weapons arsenal and program everywhere, will arise. That's what I've found at least. I find it interesting, I find it could be comforting - but it's not, really, to know there's no threat of nuclear annihilation. Because it just confirms that - if this is what the world NEEDS for peace? And whether they exist or not, you must believe this, right?... Either way, the world is hopelessly cancerous with evil and depravity, is the only thing one can conclude.

... yeah, I guess all I'm missing, is the corrugated shack in the Idaho wilderness....
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Chris_morris (Chris_morris)
Username: Chris_morris

Registered: 04-2008
Posted From: 12.165.240.116
Posted on Monday, December 20, 2010 - 04:53 pm:   

>> Why does aftermath footage have to be faked, Chris?

I was responding to this statement in your earlier post:

>> Everything else - correct me if I'm wrong, anybody? - is evidence presented that is sourced from one place and one place only: Various government entities.

I don't blame you for doubting the official government story, Craig -- about any subject -- but you have an equal responsibility, it seems to me, to suspect them of telling the truth. Sure, it's possible that we never landed on the moon, that JFK lives with Elvis in eastern Siberia, that Barack Obama is Santa Claus, etc., etc. But it's at least equally possible that these stories are nonsense and the government is telling the truth, no?

My own view? If you have to worry, worry about the things you actually have evidence for. Reality is already troubling enough. Making stuff up won't help anything.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Monday, December 20, 2010 - 05:26 pm:   

Chris, I was talking about non-Hiroshima/Nagasaki "evidence" for nuclear weapons programs, development, etc. All of that, is government-controlled releases, to the very best of my knowledge.

The same people that laugh hysterically and slap their knees at those funny 50's film-reels of "Stop, drop, and roll" and other nuclear bomb safety/info releases... are, oddly, the same people who take as gospel, the only "facts" ever supplied by the same source.

But yes, Chris, I do agree with you. What if I'm right? It will only only drive me mad, to paraphrase Robert Plant. Trust me, my own reality needs is all the trouble I need....
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.225.41
Posted on Monday, December 20, 2010 - 05:34 pm:   

>>>you have an equal responsibility, it seems to me, to suspect them of telling the truth. Sure, it's possible that we never landed on the moon, that JFK lives with Elvis in eastern Siberia, that Barack Obama is Santa Claus,

But this is straw-manning - taking extreme and ludicrous notions to define 'conspiracy theory'. That's what I'm referring to above: in this way, everything gets swept in with the same nonsense.

Eg, is it a conspiracy theory to suggest that the CIA were instrumental in the rise of General Pinochet in Chile, the better to create a buffer against the 'domino effect' spread of communism in South America? Well, they were, and it's well-documented (to such a degree that it's now included as an uncontroversial fact in high school set texts), but in this world of ceaseless and speculative information, we often pause first and wonder whether it's all looney left bullshit.

It's almost impossible telling truth from bullshit.

As for the prism issue - we necessarily perceive our worlds through prisms (AKA cultural and moral understandings), but only extremists, almost certainly with mental health issues, are unable to weigh the relative merits of certain claims. One can be left- or right-leaning without being a flag-waving fanatic.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.225.41
Posted on Monday, December 20, 2010 - 05:38 pm:   

My own view? I'm right-leaning when the facts support that approach, and left-leaning for the same reason. It's always contextual. Rigid adherence to 'rules' is a characteristic of ontological anxiety.
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Chris_morris (Chris_morris)
Username: Chris_morris

Registered: 04-2008
Posted From: 12.165.240.116
Posted on Monday, December 20, 2010 - 05:50 pm:   

Perhaps it is straw-manning, but I guess I was only suggesting that these straw men were no more ridiculous than Craig's own claim. There is no evidence for any of these, therefore they're all equally implausible.

>>As for the prism issue - we necessarily perceive our worlds through prisms (AKA cultural and moral understandings), but only extremists, almost certainly with mental health issues, are unable to weigh the relative merits of certain claims. One can be left- or right-leaning without being a flag-waving fanatic.

I disagree. If you see yourself as "on the left" or "on the right," you have defined yourself that way. You have allied your thinking with a political idelogy, and to that end, your own beliefs -- your identity -- is under attack when facts don't fit into that worldview. Under those circumstances it's easy to rationalize the contradictions, to argue against the evidence to preserve your position. You don't have to be an extremist to do this. People are loathe to admit they're wrong, under the mildest of circumstances. If they've staked their identity on the thing they're wrong about, they'll go to great lengths to defend themselves.
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Chris_morris (Chris_morris)
Username: Chris_morris

Registered: 04-2008
Posted From: 12.165.240.116
Posted on Monday, December 20, 2010 - 05:57 pm:   

I should point out that if you have evidence, as you claim fo rthe Pinochet thing (I have never researched the subject), then you are citing a case rather different from "Barack Obama is Santa Claus" or Craig's odd views about nuclear weapons. I'm only trying to say that there are a limitless number of evidence-free things to worry about. If you're going to worry about one, you may as well worry about them all, which is, of course, ridiculous. Hence: restrict your concerns to only those you have evidence for.

Sorry if I'm being repetitious.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.225.41
Posted on Monday, December 20, 2010 - 05:59 pm:   

You make this process - which I'm in broad agreement with - sound far more rational than I think it is. I believe such extreme affiliations have an irreducibly complex emotional component. But perhaps we're singing from the same sheet here.

My point was essentially about the inescapable nature of seeing the world through certain cultural mediations, as if there was a God's eye view of things which was free of such tacit assumptions and understandings. That latter is impossible, I believe.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.225.41
Posted on Monday, December 20, 2010 - 06:02 pm:   

>>>If you're going to worry about one, you may as well worry about them all, which is, of course, ridiculous. Hence: restrict your concerns to only those you have evidence for.

Maybe, but . . . if Hitler was right and it's only the big lies that really succeed, then perhaps we need to remain cautious on all important issues. That is to say, the nuclear denial may be unlikely, but it's about a big, significant issue. Let's keep watching for big, significant issues, however absurd. You never know - one in a million might be true, and it might be that one that kills us.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 05:02 am:   

Caroline - I read this today: http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2010/12/19/a-holiday-message-from-ricky-gervais-w hy-im-an-atheist/

I am as agnostic on atheism as I am on, er, theism. But I find, somehow, this entire piece - though, by definition, well-thought-out - just too simplistic. And, whatever Ricky says to the contrary, somewhat arrogant. Something's missing here, from the entire formula, something I can't put my finger on... from the formula of every atheist I've read, from Gervais to Hitchens to the most brilliant one I've yet read, Kai Nielsen.

----------------------

Chris, to "worry" about the non-existence of nuclear weapons... not quite the accurate term. Though, in essence, I agree - to dwell on it (even if I was right!) feels wrong and morbid.

But there indeed ARE conspiracies in this world, and there are, indeed, those out there who conspire to dupe others for personal gain... to keep the powerful and rich in their powerful and rich positions: powerful and rich simply by the lucky stupidity OF their positions, as opposed to merit (doctors or athletes [or writers?], for example, who excel to degrees that deserve great reward; many of the rich and powerful are merely accidental beneficiaries of where they stand... and they know it... and they'll kill to maintain their little square spaces, where the money lands from heaven, and the whips are ready to hand....)

Look at our whole Madoff scandal. A cover-up that is byzantine, from those involved, to those who benefited, to the very ones "trying" to uncover the facts. It's a sickening affair, where there are very few innocents involved. Those in power, MUST BE WATCHED, because they will always conspire to keep you in chains, and their slaves. That's the entire foundation of our U.S. Constitution - it takes as its basic premise, that humans are fucking greedy power-crazed untrustworthy individuals, given a taste of power; therefore, we (the Fathers) have devised an okay system of rules designed, ultimately, to do but one thing: to prevent the tyrannies from arising in the land. So far....
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 06:23 am:   

From the news.com.au: "Mr Assange also confirmed that WikiLeaks was holding a vast amount of material about a bank which it intends to release early next year. Shares in Bank of America recently fell after speculation spread that it was the target. 'We donít want the bank to suffer unless itís called for,' Mr Assange said. 'But if its management is operating in a responsive way there will be resignations.'

"US officials are reportedly searching for ways to extradite him on espionage charges. Vice President Joe Biden recently called the WikiLeaks founder a 'high-tech terrorist'."

Is there any wonder why so many powerful individuals want Assange's head? Is revealing the evil underbelly of those in power who conspire to fool us, to keep us in the dark, to lie to us through the news, and so on... is antiseptic sunlight ever anything but good?...
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 91.110.252.200
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 09:18 am:   

When one person says 2 and 2 equals 4 and another person says 2 and 2 equals 9, obviously the balanced and objective view (and the one the BBC would take) is that 2 and 2 equals 7.5.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.171.167.169
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 10:22 am:   

Brian Hanrahan always added up correctly. RIP. Aged 61. Died yesterday. The BBC's much the poorer without him.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.225.41
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 10:37 am:   

If you look at the history of social movements, you'll largely see an evolving process of quid pro quo between governing bodies and the tax-paying public. That is to say, the governing bodies have needed to raise funds and the people have been in a collective position to lend the requisite sums in exchange for something. That 'something' has largely been protection from governing bodies in the form of regulatory bodies which oversee the activities of governing bodies and prevent any exploitative activity of their part.

Unfortunately, we now live in an age in which the power of these regulatory bodies is being systematically and quite deliberately eroded, to such a degree that such regulatory power, won and paid for over years of social evolution, is becoming largely ineffectual. (Witness the credit crunch and the abject failure of the FSA, for example.)

In short, please let's not pretend our all-too-casual dismissal of whistle-blowing types - often the only regulation we have, however chaotic and haphazard it can appear - is anything other than apathy and perhaps a fear of getting stigmatised with a diagnosis of delusional paranoia. They're on our side.
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Stephen Theaker (Stephen_theaker)
Username: Stephen_theaker

Registered: 12-2009
Posted From: 62.30.117.235
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 10:42 am:   

Everything Gervais says there makes perfect sense; but people don't necessarily want things that make sense; people have deep-rooted reasons for wanting to believe nonsense. But good for him for saying it, and standing up for himself.

I've taught my kids, as a rule of thumb, that if someone says "I believe in X", you know they aren't sure about it.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 11:07 am:   

>>Caroline - I read this today: http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2010/12/19/a-holiday-message-from-ricky-gervais-w hy-im-an-atheist/

I am as agnostic on atheism as I am on, er, theism. But I find, somehow, this entire piece - though, by definition, well-thought-out - just too simplistic. And, whatever Ricky says to the contrary, somewhat arrogant. Something's missing here, from the entire formula, something I can't put my finger on... from the formula of every atheist I've read, from Gervais to Hitchens to the most brilliant one I've yet read, Kai Nielsen. <<

Ah, but I don't believe in Ricky Gervais either, Craig!

Seriously, the article you've pointed to represents HIS beliefs, in the same was as I have my beliefs and you have yours. His article doesn't PROVE or DISPROVE anything - it's just one man's personal opinions.

Perhaps you shouldn't be looking so hard for proof of all these things - the existence of god, conspiracy theories, neuclear bombs, etc? The only thing in this world that can be well and truly PROVEN is scientific fact - and even then do we believe those that report the results of their experiments?

I think maybe you need to chill a little, Craig, and not worry about these things so much - I'm beginning to get concerned about you, young fella ...
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.225.41
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 11:14 am:   

>>>The only thing in this world that can be well and truly PROVEN is scientific fact -

That's not true. Science most commonly finds support for its hypotheses, and not proof. Very few scientific findings would claim to prove anything. They would generally operate at a probability level of 0.05 (1 in 20 chance of being incorrect) - anything equal to, or below that, would be defined as being highly probable, yet never proved.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 11:26 am:   

My own view? I'm right-leaning when the facts support that approach, and left-leaning for the same reason. It's always contextual. Rigid adherence to 'rules' is a characteristic of ontological anxiety.

I agree entirely with that, Gary.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 11:27 am:   

Craig, what is missing from atheism is doubt.
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Stephen Theaker (Stephen_theaker)
Username: Stephen_theaker

Registered: 12-2009
Posted From: 62.30.117.235
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 12:16 pm:   

Craig, what is missing from atheism is doubt.

Eh? Atheism is doubt.

Atheists don't simply say "there is no god", except perhaps as a shorthand. They say "this god of yours is so fantastically unlikely and improbable and illogical that I don't believe it exists, and I'm certainly not going to live my life according to its supposed dictates".

Atheists would admit that there's the tiniest possibility that when the USS Enterprise goes out on its five year voyage it might find Apollo relaxing on some random planet.

But even if he is, atheists won't need to start believing in him. He'll just be another unlikely thing that does actually exist, like narwhals, komodo dragons or duckbilled platypuses.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 12:24 pm:   

I would contend that what flaws atheism, and makes it as much a matter of faith as the daftest of religions, is its complete absence of doubt. They think they know, and will brook no argument, nor allow any doubt to creep into their rigid mindsets. Humankind can never be all knowing and I find their contrived intellectual omnipotence quite ridiculous, to be honest.
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Stephen Theaker (Stephen_theaker)
Username: Stephen_theaker

Registered: 12-2009
Posted From: 62.30.117.235
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 12:27 pm:   

That makes no sense: atheism is doubt - that's all it is. Doubt that this or that god exists.

Someone says they believe in God A.

The atheist says I doubt God A exists.

Nothing contrived, ridiculous, rigid, all-knowing or faith-based about that.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.225.41
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 12:30 pm:   

Why does everyone have to feel so certain about things anyway? Adopting an invitational mood is the flipside of ontological anxiety. Both involve uncertainty, the first in a healthy way, the other in a corrosive way.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.225.41
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 12:36 pm:   

I reckon Wittgenstein's notion of 'how to go on' answers my question above. We're all children, uncertain of our own autonomy and perpetually seeking guidance. The bewildering, buzzing-bloom complexity of the modern world only renders this uncertainty more pervasive - hence our attraction to ready-made schools of thought which ostensibly cover every challenge we might face, and therefore problematise contextual judgements.

Basically, we - collectively - need to grow up.
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Stephen Theaker (Stephen_theaker)
Username: Stephen_theaker

Registered: 12-2009
Posted From: 62.30.117.235
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 12:43 pm:   

I find my answers in probability; I may well be a brain in a vat, but I'm probably not, so I won't get in a stew about it...

But I spoke to someone once who became furious at the very suggestion, and incredibly frustrated at not being able to find a way to prove that our world was real. (This was before The Matrix came out; now everyone is used to the idea.)
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 12:46 pm:   

Agnosticism is doubt.

Atheism is negative certainty.

Agnosticism is the only honest stance we, as limited sensory beings of finite intelligence, can possibly take in our view of the universe and reality.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.171.167.169
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 12:49 pm:   

I find myself agreeing with Mr Theaker in his last few posts. Philosophy is transcended by common sense (of which I have oodles!)
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.225.41
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 12:52 pm:   

>>>I find my answers in probability

Well said. Probability is always open to falsification. It's invitational. A healthy mindset.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.225.41
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 12:53 pm:   

The finest pragmatic scientific approach to all this, if anyone's interested, is George Kelly's Personal Construct Psychology. A lovely and frequently profound way of looking at the way we go about our everyday lives.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 12:54 pm:   

The dictionary definition of "atheism":

a∑the∑ism& [ey-thee-iz-uhm]

Ėnoun
1. the doctrine or belief that there is no god.
2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.


The dictionary definition of "agnosticism":

ag∑nos∑ti∑cism [ag-nos-tuh-siz-uhm]

Ėnoun
1. the doctrine or belief of an agnostic.
2. an intellectual doctrine or attitude affirming the uncertainty of all claims to ultimate knowledge.

I rest my case.
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Stephen Theaker (Stephen_theaker)
Username: Stephen_theaker

Registered: 12-2009
Posted From: 62.30.117.235
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 12:59 pm:   

Agnosticism is doubt.

Atheism is negative certainty.

Agnosticism is the only honest stance we, as limited sensory beings of finite intelligence, can possibly take in our view of the universe and reality.


No, atheism just means not believing in any gods.

Like I said, atheists can admit the possibility of godlike beings in the universe, while remaining unconvinced by any of the current suggestions.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.225.41
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 01:00 pm:   

Do you feel better now your certainty has been proven, Stevie? :-)
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.225.41
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 01:02 pm:   

Do you recall the great ideological wars in which the atheists went to war with the agnostics? Boy, that was a bloody fight.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 01:17 pm:   

Now I'm beginning to doubt whether I'm an atheist!

OK, by Stevie's definition I'm not an atheist, I'm an agnositic - ie. I very much doubt the existence of any god, but I'm certainly not certain that there isn't such a thing. But by Stephen's definition I'm an atheist, and that was the definition I was using too.

Gary - I agree with you about no such thing as scientific PROOF - I was just kind of putting it into simplistic terms. Basically, we can't actually PROOVE anything, it's all a matter of individual values, beliefs, assumptions and perception of the world around us.

In fact, does the world actually exist at all? Do we exist? Do YOU exist? Am I talking to myself?
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 01:24 pm:   

Agnostics are inclined to see the existence of gods as an abstract, theoretical question, whereas atheists place religion in the context of human affairs (as a cultural practice). The former are therefore much more open to theological arguments against disbelief, whereas the latter consider theological discourse to be fundamentally meaningless.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.171.167.169
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 01:32 pm:   

Dictionary definitions, per se, don't give certainty.
As Wittgenstein said, as an example and subject to uncertainty in itself - "the meaning of a word is its use".
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 01:35 pm:   

"whereas atheists place religion in the context of human affairs (as a cultural practice)"
"whereas the latter consider theological discourse to be fundamentally meaningless."

Yes! That's me! I actually consider religious behaviour to be nothing more than superstitious behaviour - ie. if we don't pray to our particular god, go to confession, etc, then something bad will happen to us (eg. we go to hell or whatever). Sorry if I offend anyone with this, but that's my own particular belief.
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Stephen Theaker (Stephen_theaker)
Username: Stephen_theaker

Registered: 12-2009
Posted From: 62.30.117.235
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 01:36 pm:   

OK, by Stevie's definition I'm not an atheist, I'm an agnostic - ie. I very much doubt the existence of any god, but I'm certainly not certain that there isn't such a thing. But by Stephen's definition I'm an atheist, and that was the definition I was using too.

By Stevie's definition, Richard Dawkins isn't an atheist either...
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 01:39 pm:   

On another point: does the argument that 'the left' and 'the right' are out of touch with reality imply that the political 'centre' is uniquely in touch with reality? If so, that's utter nonsense. Partly because the 'middle ground' shifts: New Labour under Blair was some way to the right of the Tories under Heath, while the only thing Nick Clegg appears to stand for is David Cameron when he enters the room.

The USA had a very strong and widespread left-wing movement in the 1920s and 1930s, but systematically excluded it until it ceased to be mainstream and could be dismissed as 'extremist'. At present the USA has two major right-wing parties and no major left-wing party, while the UK has three major right-wing parties and no major left-wing party. When we are bombarded with endless lies from one side, the truth ends up being dismissed as 'extreme' simply because we are not used to it. Or as Dr Goebbels said, if you repeat a lie often enough people assume it must be true.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 02:02 pm:   

It's also dangerous to confuse what is 'normal' in a statistical sense with what is 'normal' in a prescriptive sense. For example, because the left is anti-racist does not mean that it is correct, balanced and fair to be slightly racist... or to be moderately homophobic... or to be gently opposed to human rights.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 02:09 pm:   

To take a recent example: in the student protest the weekend before last, a young woman was hit three times on the head with a police truncheon, lost consciousness, and was denied medical help for two hours. She was guilty of no crime other than participating in a legal demonstration on an agreed route at an agreed time. Is the 'moderate' view that she should only have been hit twice and denied medical help for one hour?
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Chris_morris (Chris_morris)
Username: Chris_morris

Registered: 04-2008
Posted From: 12.165.240.116
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 03:52 pm:   

>> On another point: does the argument that 'the left' and 'the right' are out of touch with reality imply that the political 'centre' is uniquely in touch with reality?

Are you referring to my earlier statement that those who define themselves as "on the left" or "on the right" tend to ignore facts that contradict that view and will struggle mightly to rationalize their way out of it? If so, then you are restating it rather incorrectly. I am not arguing that identifying with "the center" is better. I am saying that you should not identify at all. Political ideologies are models of the world, and as such, are subject from time to time to failure. The real world is not a model. Constructing an identity around a political point of view -- ie, one of these models -- only means that you will take it personally when that failure occurs. The world is what it is. I'm saying: take it as it comes, not how you'd prefer it to be.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 04:09 pm:   

Des, when scientists, like the great prophet of atheism, Richard Dawkins, start using agreed dictionary definitions "incorrectly", and profess that their definition is the proper one, then you & Wittgenstein may have a point. No offence intended [I think you're a great guy].

The stance adopted by people who profess themselves to be "atheists" is, in most respects, actually "agnosticism". They just haven't taken the time or effort to define their terms and understand the meaning of the banner they unfurl.

Agnosticism rocks, atheism sucks, religious belief sucks more so... and that's a Stevie definition.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.171.167.169
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 04:31 pm:   

Regarding the admittedly broadly crude Wittgenstein point, I think it true to say that words (a) change meaning or evolve and (b) there are nuances with words' usage that dictionaries can't cover and (c) I tend to be a descriptivist not a prescriptivist with language.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 04:47 pm:   

Caroline - don't worry, I'm fine. I read a lot of horror fiction, watch horror movies, and spend my time imagining horrendous things that I can then write down on paper to render others frightened or repulsed - I'm just peachy-keen!

I empathize greatly with atheists, or I should say with atheism itself, because so many atheists I've encountered or read (present company excluded), they all seem to come off as arrogant, first and foremost, and then bizarrely intolerant. But those two would be okay, if it wasn't for the third thing - empathetic? - or, that's the wrong word maybe... humane? filled with a sense of "ruth"?... I don't know what term I'm looking for, but...

Well, take atheists like Woody Allen and Kurt Vonnegut, two of my favorites: they aren't arrogant, and they aren't caustic against the believers. They both look at the world, and see things that - not passing judgment here - the believers don't see. They weep for those things the believers don't weep for, or wholly ignore. And they find a sort of lightly-sardonic joy in life's ups, downs, and very transitoriness, despite the necessary bleakness of their own lack-of-beliefs.

The best thinker atheists, like these, are weirdly closer to prophets like Jeremiah, and moral wits like Shakespeare, than many supposed thinker believers. One could almost find a mystical kind of faith, in certain atheists. I do, at least.
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Stephen Theaker (Stephen_theaker)
Username: Stephen_theaker

Registered: 12-2009
Posted From: 62.30.117.235
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 04:51 pm:   

How do you mean incorrectly, Stevie?

Your own dictionary gives two definitions, the second of which is "disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings".

I can disbelieve in the existence of supreme beings without claiming to know for certain that they don't exist.
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Jonathan (Jonathan)
Username: Jonathan

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 91.143.178.131
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 05:10 pm:   

I think with the atheists you list above, Craig, humanist philosophy was their main driver and that's why there wasn't the arrogance there so much. You don't get the same sense of humanism from someone like Dawkins. I do feel that those atheists commentators that come across as arrogant tend to be in the minority. They do seem to shout the loudest though.
One of the finest stand-up comedians I've ever seen - Daniel Kitson - did a very very fine stand-up show on death from an atheistic/humanist point of view. It was incredibly funny and very moving.
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 05:10 pm:   

But if you claim to not know for certain that they don't exist it makes you Agnostic rather than Atheist.

Personally I still do go to church. Midnight on Friday will see me at Midnight Mass which has been the start of my Christmas for the last 30 years.

I will say that I find the majority of atheists (not necessarily as stated here but some are) these days are so dismissive and intolerant as to be quite offensive. There are a lot of atheists out there who are so hypocritical on the tolerance issue - their first claim about Christians will be that they're all intolerant etc etc but they will be the first to call all believers idiots etc.

It really pisses me off.
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Stephen Theaker (Stephen_theaker)
Username: Stephen_theaker

Registered: 12-2009
Posted From: 62.30.117.235
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 05:21 pm:   

But if you claim to not know for certain that they don't exist it makes you Agnostic rather than Atheist.

Agnosticism isn't a distinct category from atheism - there's a large amount of overlap.

Agnosticism (going on the Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought) is "the philosophical position which claims that it is impossible in principle (or at least in practice) to know whether God exists or not".

And "modern atheists [claim] that there is no good reason to believe in God or ... that there is good reason not to" (same book).

These two positions are complementary rather than contradictory.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.171.167.169
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 05:38 pm:   

Mr Theaker, is on the philosophical money here, from my point of view.
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Stephen Theaker (Stephen_theaker)
Username: Stephen_theaker

Registered: 12-2009
Posted From: 62.30.117.235
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 06:12 pm:   

Thanks, Mr Lewis!

Here's an interesting article from last year on the subject:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/may/18/atheism-agnosticism-r eligion

It suggests that much disagreement stems from the different ways that theists and atheists define the word atheist. As it says in the article, "there are very few self-described atheists who conform to the theists' definition of atheism", i.e. "An atheist is certain there is no God".

Atheists don't accept this definition, because they "are aware that in principle some new piece of evidence might turn up tomorrow, and they leave themselves open to that possibility, no matter how unlikely they believe it to be".
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 80.4.12.3
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 06:42 pm:   

There was a time when even pantheists (like Spinoza) were called "atheists". Bizarrely, "atheist" is often used as a synonym for "heretic", "infidel" and "spoilsport" by believers.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 09:12 pm:   

Oh dear, maybe I'd better start calling myself an agnostic then, since many of you seem to dislike atheists!

To me, the name "atheist" or "agnostic" is as much of a label as "Christian" or "Muslim". It simply signifies a grouping of people who follow much the same set of beliefs. Me? I've never really followed the same set of beliefs as any other group of people so I guess I'm not really an atheist (or even an agnostic) either. I simply don't believe in the existence of God - but I might be wrong.

My husband (a staunch Catholic BTW) always jokes that my "religion" is probably closer to Paganism than anything else. It might be. I do believe that Nature (with a capital N) is the driving force, that we're no different from any other animal, and that our reign as the dominant species on Earth is as temporary as the dinosaurs' reign was. Nature will prevail ultimately, and when the mammals are gone the way of the big lizards I reckon the whole thing will start up again with insects as the dominant species.

Right, they're coming to take me away .. ha-ha .. hee-hee ....
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Mick Curtis (Mick)
Username: Mick

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.59.115.60
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 09:21 pm:   

...ho-ho!
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 09:26 pm:   



BTW no-one's asked the *really* important question on this thread for this time of year: hands up those who believe in Father Christmas!
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 12:20 pm:   

Agnosticism isn't a distinct category from atheism - there's a large amount of overlap.

These two positions are complementary rather than contradictory.


Stephen, then why does Dawkins claim that agnostics are as much a part of the "problem" as religious believers?!

This quote shows the arch-atheist's stance regarding agnosticism quite clearly:

"It is often said, mainly by the 'no-contests', that although there is no positive evidence for the existence of God, nor is there evidence against his existence. So it is best to keep an open mind and be agnostic. At first sight that seems an unassailable position, at least in the weak sense of Pascal's wager. But on second thoughts it seems a cop-out, because the same could be said of Father Christmas and tooth fairies. There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but you can't prove that there aren't any, so shouldn't we be agnostic with respect to fairies?"
ó Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion)
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 01:35 pm:   

I've always been impressed by Dawkins' comment that religious believers are vigorous disbelievers in every religion and sect except their own Ė so whereas the believer disbelieves very strongly in 300 gods and 27 sects of their own faith, the atheist just adds one more to that list. I remember a Catholic friend of mine years ago telling me that Protestants were 'worse than atheists' because they pretended to be Christians when they weren't. Do Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Orthodox Jews really have common ground in opposing atheism? If so, that's remarkable, because they claim not to have common ground on any other issue.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.9.238
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 01:43 pm:   

That's what the Python boys said about Life of Brian: it was the first time rival religions agreed on a matter in centuries.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.9.238
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 01:44 pm:   

>>>so whereas the believer disbelieves very strongly in 300 gods and 27 sects of their own faith, the atheist just adds one more to that list.

Yeah, but the issue is not really a quantitative one; it's hugely qualitative. So that argument is quite weak, in my view.
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.93.21.68
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 02:45 pm:   

"I've always been impressed by Dawkins' comment that religious believers are vigorous disbelievers in every religion and sect except their own Ė so whereas the believer disbelieves very strongly in 300 gods and 27 sects of their own faith, the atheist just adds one more to that list..."

Except that you can believe in or at least be agnostic about the notion of God and subscribe to no religion at all. And do all religious folk really disbelieve in every other religion but their own?
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 02:50 pm:   

It's weaker still when you consider that the vast majority of Christians are fairly ecumenical and regard all of the mainstream faiths as pretty much equal - the only branches of the Christian church you'll find regular believers will eschew are the extremists who preach intolerance against other faiths etc.

Dawkins always uses the extremes to try to prove his points, he seems to forget that the rest of the church, filled with normal, sensible non-bigots actually exists.

This IMHO makes him as much of a bigot as he accuses the whole of christianity to be.
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 02:51 pm:   

crossed posts there
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 02:59 pm:   

Let me state that i don't believe you have to be religious to be a good person. There are plenty of examples of good people (my Grandad included who used to always invite homeless people in at Christmas for a meal) who hold no religious beliefs. I also don't believe that being religious makes you a good person - plenty of examples to prove that one wrong.

Religion gives me personally a moral framework which I try to stick to (not always successfully).

It also provides me with a reason for trying to stick with that framework. If life is just some strange chemical accident and there is no reason for our existance other than a fluke of particles crossing then everything - including morality - is meaningless.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.171.167.169
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 03:01 pm:   

I think there can be a religious spirit that does not believe in any particular religion or in religion itself. I am an atheist, I am also an agnostic, but trying to be objective, I think I also have a religious spirit regarding Art and Literature. Sorry for being self-centrist here, but fundamentally one only has the filter of one's own mind to judge reality, a reality that includes that same mind.

[[And do all religious folk really disbelieve in every other religion but their own?]]

I think they do. And, as a result, they are generally more empassioned about their disbelief in other religions. The stronger some people's belief in any formal religion the greater their intolerance against other formal religions.
And this also relates to politics?
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 03:04 pm:   

"I think they do. And, as a result, they are generally more empassioned about their disbelief in other religions. The stronger some people's belief in any formal religion the greater their intolerance against other formal religions. "

Not in my experience. There are some who will be vehemently opposed to any other form of doctrine, but the vast majority are easy going and just see it as it is, slightly different ways of looking at the same issue.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.171.167.169
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 03:24 pm:   

Catholics and Protestants in Ireland have been examples of my supposition. But you may be right, Weber. I'm open to evidence on this. And that evidence probably means getting inside other people's minds. Both to substantiate my supposition as well as yours.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.9.238
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 03:38 pm:   

>>>If life is just some strange chemical accident and there is no reason for our existance other than a fluke of particles crossing then everything - including morality - is meaningless.

Does that necessarily follow? Do we need a teleological reason to make life meaningful? Don't we generally create that meaning daily in our togetherness, regardless of ultimate purpose?
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Huw (Huw)
Username: Huw

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 220.138.167.109
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 03:49 pm:   

I don't see why a moral code becomes meaningless if we were not created by a god. How we got here is not ultimately relevant to how we live our lives, surely?
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 04:00 pm:   

But then Weber - speaking as if I weren't a lapsed Catholic now, and also playing some Devil's Advocate - I find all Protestant religions fundamentally disingenuous, even if they're ignorant of being so....

One could boil them all down to sola scriptura, in essence: the break with authority (the Pope, the Church), and a return to the source materials (the Gospels, etc.), is the main distinguishing point of all Protestant religions.

But it's a false genesis, because all the work of understanding has been done before them, by the very institution they claim to so despise. All the assumptions about Jesus, God, etc., they take to be clear, self-defining, and obvious. But do they know it took centuries of debate and bloodshed to wrangle out basic definitions of the nature of Jesus, his divinity and suffering, his nature and meaning, etc.? And that these definitions were then codified by the Church they so abhor?

The Protestants come late to the party, after all the work preparing has been done, after the food's been laid out - and they steal it away to their own homes, saying they're returning to the essence of "partydom," which could never have existed under THAT roof... stealing the same dishes made there (the Bible they revere as sole authority, was imprimatur-ed by that same hateful Church, again), and claiming they made it all themselves - nay, that parties didn't even really exist, until they came along....

Woeful analogy, but you get the idea. Protestants are in some ways beneath contempt, from a Catholic point of view: how easy is it to take out all those things you find unreasonable, and keep in all the things you do, and then call it a religion? Once authority is broken, mob rule, individual rule, no rules at all... it's all the same thing....
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 04:05 pm:   

If there is no ultimate purpose, no meaning to existence, then why does anything matter? why is the way we behave in any way important? We'll be here for our four score years and then we'll be gone and that's it, we'll feed the worms. What we do in our time on the planet is by definition worthless if there is no ultimate purpose to life and therefore what we do with it really doesn't matter. If it makes no difference to anything, why not give in to our baser urges? Why bother with morality except to make things more comfortable for the other meaningless denizens of our immediate environs?
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.9.238
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 04:20 pm:   

>>>We'll be here for our four score years and then we'll be gone and that's it, we'll feed the worms.

No disrespect, but isn't that really the view of a childless man? (I ask being childless myself, you should be aware.)
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.9.238
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 04:22 pm:   

A life can be meaningful in the context of no ultimate purpose, surely. We create our own meanings in life. Play happy families. Build empires. Watch every movie ever made. Etc. The possibilities are endless.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 04:29 pm:   

But then one must start defining the "afterlife," Weber. Those sentiments all sound fine... until one starts to have to figure out what they ultimately (pun) entail. Okay, so how we acted DOES matter - how does it matter? I mean, specifically? Is some being writing it all down somewhere, to be referred to later? Does it boil down to this or that act, our lives? Is it blurred into, "Well, Weber was mostly a good guy, so okay, he's cool, let him pass"? Who's doing the judging? Based on what set of rules? Do we have the right set of rules now? What if those other guys in that other church over there have the right set of rules? And so on.

The Christians - Catholics & all the others, now - they get side-tracked often by the "ultimate meaning" question, assuming they're part and parcel of that ultimate-ness. Which, from say a Jewish standpoint, is rather arrogant and self-indulgent. Boiling down the Jewish version of "ultimate meaning," it's more of a command. I am God, and you, my little minions, will do this: all the things I have commanded you to do. Why? Because I, God, command it. End of discussion. Whatever happens in the beyond isn't worth discussing, and whether we're even there or not, unimportant. Because God commands, and so we the minions must do. God is God, and your life here is to worship Him. Full stop. And if you do return to dust and worm food...? Too bad, deal with it.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.171.167.169
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 04:39 pm:   

I'm not sure whether to take any of this thread seriously, Pascal's Wager or not.

We all individually answer to ourselves - what we believe - how we act - and what we say may not even reflect the true 'us'.
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Chris_morris (Chris_morris)
Username: Chris_morris

Registered: 04-2008
Posted From: 12.165.240.116
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 04:42 pm:   

>> If there is no ultimate purpose, no meaning to existence, then why does anything matter? why is the way we behave in any way important?

I've never understood this argument. I completely support you, Weber, and your right to believe whatever you want, but arguments like this make it sound like Christians are continually pulling at the tether of morality, frothing at the mouth -- as though if it weren't for the big Santa Claus in the sky you all would instantly turn into John Wayne Gacys. This simply can't be true. Weber, I'm certain you would be a moral person without the influence of your faith, whether you believe it or not ...
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Simon Bestwick (Simon_b)
Username: Simon_b

Registered: 10-2008
Posted From: 86.24.209.217
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 04:45 pm:   

Your life is yours. As Gary says, it's up to you to instil meaning in it and do something worthwhile.

Not to mention the fact that you cannot establish a society, a social order, by 'giving in to baser urges'. The 'social contract' exists out of enlightened self-interest.

I am, for the record, really fucking sick of being told that I have no morality, no sense of right or wrong, no capacity for unselfish action, because I do not believe in an imaginary sky-fairy friend.

' how easy is it to take out all those things you find unreasonable, and keep in all the things you do, and then call it a religion? Once authority is broken, mob rule, individual rule, no rules at all... it's all the same thing....'

Sorry, Craig, but that is utter cobblers. Replace the word 'religion' with 'system of values' (which you can have without being religious, as I've indicated) and you're ultimately saying that to change one's position on anything annihilates morality. So not only are atheists devoid of morality- so are Christians who believe in evolution, that slavery is immoral, that women are equal or that homosexuality is not an abomination, because they have discarded the elements of a faith that they regard as unreasonable, or outdated, or proven incorrect (you know, by horrible nasty things like facts and scientific study.) And that is a ridiculous position to take.

There are Christians- and for that matter, Muslims and other religions- who have my respect and my friendship, even if we don't agree on everything. They manage to accept the fact that my non-belief in their god does not mean I am incapable of a moral judgement. Just as I accept that their religion does not mean they are screaming bigots. Because they aren't. If they were, they wouldn't be my friends. Because I have moral values that repudiate that sort of thing.

Yes, there are unintended consequences of accepting monolithic religious institutions are not infallible, or of recognising that there is no single, inflexible moral law handed down from above- but to say that has to mean there must be a god is a logical fallacy (you may at this point wish to Google 'argument from adverse consequences.')

That's life. No-one said it was fair (if they did, one look around you should be enough to prove them wrong) or that it wasn't complicated. You just have to accept those things and deal with them. It might be more attractive to accept an absolute, 'god-given' morality- or to believe in an afterlife, or that every life has a purpose- but I'm sorry, that does not mean it is so. You die and that's it. Morality isn't inscribed unchangeably on tablets from Mount Sinai; you have to make your own choices on how you will live your life and what you'll call right and what you'll call wrong. Other people can offer you guidance, suggestions, whatever- but ultimately the choice is yours and yours alone.

So there.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.171.167.169
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 04:51 pm:   

I go along with everything Simon Bestwick has just said.

Many people meanwhile will remain religious for genuine reasons (in their hearts) or for Pascal's Wager reasons. I am not one of those people.

These religious discussions on the internet have historically tailed off without general agreement by its participants. This one, too. I bet you!
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 05:22 pm:   

Check back earlier in the thread, I state quite specifically that I don't believe you need to be religious to be a good person. I'm not trying to say anything to the contrary. I'm just stating my own personal beliefs.

I was brought up in a fairly devout Catholic family and have had no negative experiences within the church (except for some priests who could bore the paint off the walls). My thoughts on the existence or lack thereof of an ultimate purpose are just that, they're my thoughts. Yes I'm sure I would still be a mostly decent person still if I had no faith, but my faith is a part of me so that's a moot point. i'm not saying that if you rached into my head and removed my faith I would turn into a John wayne gacy, just that morally there would be less reason not to.

Something on those lines anyway. i'm tired and still hung over from last night and probably not phrasing things as well as i could do.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 05:43 pm:   

Well, my attempts to kill this thread dead with a bit of lightheartedness before anyone got offended has failed *sigh*. This could run and run.

As Des says, it'll never be resolved. We're all individuals. We each have our own unique beliefs. Some people find a group of like-minded individuals and pigeon-hole themselves into a specific religion. That's fine by me if it helps them. Others form a "religion" of one (that's me, I think!).

Basically, I subscribe to the idea that when I'm gone I'll feed the worms - go back to Nature where I came from (I wasn't kidding when I specified that belief earlier in the thread). I think the world as we know it *did* arise by accident, but - despite its faults - it's a wonderful place to be.

My moral code? Try to do what ever good I can do in my little corner of the world. I'm not doing that because I subscribe to there being any form of "higher being", it's just my own way of living. Peace and love to everyone.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 08:12 pm:   

Simon, I think you may have missed my "Devil's stance" point, because I actually agree with pretty much all you've said.

I was poking a major hole, or trying to, in the Protestants. They defy authority, taking all the "settled lands" and goodies of it, and then thumbing their nose at what they don't like. They want to dethrone authority, they say, and return to a primal authority, that had authority over the authority they're dethroning... but then, they're too craven to go over the same battles and ground that the authority-they-don't-like did to get where they were at all, so the Protestants could even move on from it at all.

Religion, like great movies actually, is always about the Life-Changing Moments and Struggles. A movie about a man who just couldn't get the toothpaste cap back on the tube, isn't very feature-worthy. Ditching a bunch of rules you don't approve so you can take up a bunch of rules you do approve, however hard they are (a feint)... it's disingenuous. It's easy. It's nothing.

It's the rules that make no sense, that defy all reason, that would seem to be the ultimate religious act, to follow.

I had come up with a theory that, to be part of any Christian established religion, it actually depended upon one choosing that which is non-Christian: to swerve into church, is to swerve away, actually, from everything one would claim Christ taught. Maybe the ultimate test is whether you succumb to the evil, and go to worship God under the eaves... if you're standing there doing that, you know you've failed....

<---- Mr. Devil speaking: don't blame me!
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.171.167.169
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 08:20 pm:   

[[I was poking a major hole, or trying to, in the Protestants.]]

What's the point of doing that?
It's their religion to be followed, respected or ignored...but not attacked.
Every religion has a major hole it seems to me: proof.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 04:18 am:   

Des, I was merely amusing myself from a Catholic POV, at how the Protestant religion is internally inconsistent - which is in keeping with some of the themes of this thread.

The Catholics' religion, on the other hand, is provably false. But that's another issue.

But I actually disagree with you, Des - though me I'd never do it personally (unless prompted, pushed...), I do believe that religions SHOULD be attacked, absolutely. It often comes off as the height of arrogance, but - oh fuck yes, religions should be ATTACKED (and this is where I agree with Christopher Hitchens).

First of all, taking the Christian religions (including Catholicism), they are all built upon a foundation of attacking other religious systems, and supplanting them with their own. They ARE, attacking entities. To not be an attacking entity, the religion is not doing its job. And what's good for the goose, as they say....

Secondly - of what use is a religion that everyone tip-toes around? Handles with kid-gloves? My Gods, ATTACK my religion, if I had one - or attack my belief systems - go on, assail it fully, bring everything to bear. If it can't withstand it, if I can't withstand it, then it's of no use whatsoever.

... All that being said, except for message board rants like these, no, I rarely ever attack another's religion, except when enjoined to the challenge by a willing participant.

Every religion has a major hole it seems to me: proof.

Des, as I've said before - all religious peoples use rigorous reason to disprove all other religions, and faith alone to prove their own.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.9.238
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 08:56 am:   

>>>you have to make your own choices on how you will live your life and what you'll call right and what you'll call wrong. Other people can offer you guidance, suggestions, whatever- but ultimately the choice is yours and yours alone.

For me, the issue is that you have to make judgements according to context. A code or a religious persuasive or a way of being or whatever are just a bag of rules which help guide your life, but they need to be flexible enough to accommodate subtleties which require modification of said rules - commonsensical adjustments. Those who adhere rigidly to such rules are, as Arthur Koestler has argued, comical characters. But they can also be the most horrific of people.

So, choose your rulebook by all means, but exercise a little discretion in how you apply its central messages. This way, we get moral guidance and moral judgement. We both subscribe to our preferred way of being and are responsible enough to make choices in this context.

A symptom of low mental health is the inability to take your guidebook anything but literally.

An element of high mental health is the ability to do just as I've outlined here.

I thus endeth my sermon. Now fuck off back to the village and grow up! :-)
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.9.238
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 09:21 am:   

There's been some absolutely crucial research conducted in how people read religious texts, and those with a low level of emotional functioning (eg, lack of inclusiveness, tendency towards paranoia and scapegoating, etc) were seen to read the 'rules' promulgated by their chosen 'text' in a literal, non-negotiable way. Whereas those with a high level of mental health (the opposite of above) simply regarded their chosen 'text' as a useful 'guidebook' to be consulted on many matters, yet never to dictate their response to any situation. Rather, it structured their response - a crucial difference.

Interestingly, people in the former category - low mental health - were also more likely to take allegories literally and consider them stories which actually once occurred in the lived world. Whereas those in the latter category - high mental health - could acknowledge these stories simply as instructive metaphor and comprehend the moral nugget they offered.

Go figure.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.9.238
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 09:27 am:   

To take simpler, tangential example in order to illustrate the point: the Highway Code is a useful guidebook, but let's face it, who the fuck drives at 30mph everywhere they should. It never happens and nor should it. The great majority of us judge according to context and realise that there are some roads which, while marked 30mph, are perfectly safe to drive faster along.

So, we remain mindful of the rules but modify them in a morally responsible way according to other aspects of the situation. That is, we wouldn't drive 50mph past a school at 3:30pm, but we might do so at 2am.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.171.167.169
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 09:40 am:   

Craig said: To not be an attacking entity, the religion is not doing its job.
===============
But does that mean that non-religionists should do their job for them. I'm all for religious philosophy, theories on the Existence of God etc etc. and religious history as a subject/ Fascinating. I've long been interested in all these aspects.

But to 'attack' formal religions from the outside for the sake of it? That way may lie something worse than a public forum discussion when it gets out of hand in the real world, I'd say. The same with some aspects of politics, and all sides of political / economic beliefs.
The internet can provide a safety valve for these 'attacks' only to be carried out in cyberspace, but it can also provide 'flashmobs' to go on the streets at a moment's notice and in one single place. Or sit in houses making bombs.
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Stephen Theaker (Stephen_theaker)
Username: Stephen_theaker

Registered: 12-2009
Posted From: 62.30.117.235
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 10:12 am:   

Stephen, then why does Dawkins claim that agnostics are as much a part of the "problem" as religious believers?!

This quote shows the arch-atheist's stance regarding agnosticism quite clearly:

"It is often said, mainly by the 'no-contests', that although there is no positive evidence for the existence of God, nor is there evidence against his existence. So it is best to keep an open mind and be agnostic. At first sight that seems an unassailable position, at least in the weak sense of Pascal's wager. But on second thoughts it seems a cop-out, because the same could be said of Father Christmas and tooth fairies. There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but you can't prove that there aren't any, so shouldn't we be agnostic with respect to fairies?"
ó Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion)


Dawkins there is making the same point I am, that the fact that you think you canít prove whether a god exists or not doesnít mean you need to sit on the fence about whether you believe in it or not.

If you hold the agnostic position with regard to a particular god Ė i.e. thereís no way to prove it exists Ė thatís actually a very, very good reason for not believing in it. And if you donít believe in any gods at all, that makes you an atheist.

Agnosticism means you donít know (or canít know) whether something exists; atheism means you donít believe it exists. One leads very naturally into the other.

One other point is that being agnostic only makes sense in relation to particular gods Ė gods that you think are untestable. Some gods can be tested more easily than others. For example, anyone with a daughter could check whether Aphrodite still exists by saying that their daughter is more beautiful than her.

It's equally possible to be agnostic and believe in God. You can think it's impossible to prove your god exists, but still believe in him. That's what faith is; believing in something without proof.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.9.238
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 10:23 am:   

Goodness, we do get hung up over identity definitions, dont' we? I suppose that's the ego at play in a Godless world. [satire]

(Stephen, did you get my email yesterday about the Britannia? Could you reply?)
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.9.238
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 10:28 am:   

I don't particulaarly believe in God, but I'd never describe myself as an atheist or agnostic or whatever. I don't really care, to be honest. The belief remains whatever the description and, unless asked (because it's not an article of privacy, necessarily), I keep it to myself. Why this need all the time to define ourselves as this or that?
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Stephen Theaker (Stephen_theaker)
Username: Stephen_theaker

Registered: 12-2009
Posted From: 62.30.117.235
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 10:31 am:   

Sorry, I was out yesterday - but will reply shortly.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.9.238
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 10:32 am:   

(OK, guv. Dunno what's happened. But they're beginning to annoy me now.)
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Stephen Theaker (Stephen_theaker)
Username: Stephen_theaker

Registered: 12-2009
Posted From: 62.30.117.235
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 11:33 am:   

Goodness, we do get hung up over identity definitions, donít we?

No, I get hung up about people being rude about atheists, especially when the rude things they are saying seem to be based upon a misconception.

If I said the problem with psychologists is their arrogance; the way they think they know exactly what everyone is thinking; their rigid mindsets, etc; you might well disagree... If I insisted that I was right, and that you needed to spend a bit more time learning about psychology, you might well continue to disagree.

Either that, or you might wander off and leave the thread alone, which of course might be wiser.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.9.238
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 11:37 am:   

???
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.9.238
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 11:41 am:   

I wasn't even referring to you. Just making a general point about the whole thrread.

Oh, whatever. I'm not getting involved.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.9.238
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 12:13 pm:   

>>>If I said the problem with psychologists is their arrogance; the way they think they know exactly what everyone is thinking; their rigid mindsets, etc; you might well disagree... If I insisted that I was right, and that you needed to spend a bit more time learning about psychology, you might well continue to disagree.

Actually, for the record, if someone said this, I wouldn't give a shit. As I said above, I don't define myself as anything, so it's of no consequence. Believe me, I've been called far worse here and have not risen to the bait.

Sorry you took my comment the wrong way, but if there's mud now being flung, it certainly isn't by me.
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Jonathan (Jonathan)
Username: Jonathan

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.155.28.95
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 12:32 pm:   

"all religious peoples use rigorous reason to disprove all other religions, and faith alone to prove their own."

Likewise, I get annoyed by people being rude about religious people in this way. (In the same way that atheists get annoyed by the ignorance of fundamentalists). For the record, I don't think you can tar all religious people in this way. But that's my ten cents worth. I personally believe that there are many paths to the divine and that inter-faith dialogue and understanding is crucial to spiritual growth.

But, I shall go now.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 12:54 pm:   

Chill, folks - please! Once again I reckon we're in danger of upsetting each other here. Beliefs are strongly held, by their very nature. Respecting each other's beliefs is crucial. Otherwise we'll end up in another "flame war" or what ever it's called on the internet.

Now, be good to each other - it's Christmas after all (whether we believe in it or not)! Or else I must just start being silly here again - and you wouldn't want that now, would you ....?

[and sorry, Gary, I'm not trying to take over your moderator's role - it's just I can't stand fighting on the internet]
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.9.238
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 12:56 pm:   

>>>it's just I can't stand fighting on the internet

That's like saying you can't stand cruelty to animals and then going to a dog fight!

A joke.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.51.147
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 12:57 pm:   

It's up to the theist to prove there is any such thing as a 'God', not up to the atheist to prove there isn't. Mere logic.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.9.238
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 01:05 pm:   

Sorry, I don't see that at all. Just sounds like another socially constructed rule.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 01:05 pm:   

You're right, Gary. I guess I shouldn't watch when you all start punching each other up virtually!
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 01:10 pm:   

Does it actually matter whether God exists or not? I mean, if someone wants to believe in some kind of god, then that's fine by me. They live their lives by the rules (or guidance) which their religion provides - fine, no problem.

If someone doesn't believe in god, fine again - no problems.

The only problems occur when someone (irrespective of their belief in any kind of god) lives by *poor* morals and causes harm to others. I really don't see why anyone should get hung up about whether god exists or not. The important thing is how we live our lives, is it not?
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.9.238
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 01:24 pm:   

>>>I guess I shouldn't watch when you all start punching each other up virtually!

But this rarely, if ever, happens. Occasionally the odd spat bursts out, but that's it. That's life.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.51.147
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 01:25 pm:   

Certainly. It's just that people who believe generally try to impose their beliefs on others, not the other way around. If you were to state that the air we breathe is toxic or that our hair works as an antenna, surely the ball is in your court?
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.9.238
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 01:37 pm:   

But . . . isn't "God doesn't exist" just as much a belief?

Isn't the default position you're alluding to simply a product of (so-called) Western Enlightenment?
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Jonathan (Jonathan)
Username: Jonathan

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.155.28.95
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 01:39 pm:   

I don't at all impose my beliefs on others. Never tried to convert anyone. But I do understand absolutely why non believers find it annoying when people do try to get them to believe.
What I do find odd, though is Craig's comment that because, as he sees it, religion spends its time telling other faiths they are wrong and getting into conflicts over theistic arguments, then the resolution to that should be conflict.

"It's just that people who believe generally try to impose their beliefs on others"

Again, I think that's a generalisation. I've spent a great deal of time with people of many faiths and have never really experienced this. Sure, this is certainly the drive of the evangelical movement, but not all theists are evangelists. Just as not all atheists go around attacking those of faith.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.9.238
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 01:42 pm:   

Well, most groups are defined by their extreme, newsworthy members. All football fans are yobs. All estate agents are crooks. All writers are alcoholics . . .

Hang on a minute . . .
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.51.147
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 01:55 pm:   

Isn't the default position you're alluding to simply a product of (so-called) Western Enlightenment?

To an extent, yes. But I would prefer that Enlightenment anytime over medieval obscurantism and bloody tyranny. I was raised as a Roman Catholic (even learned how to pray in Latin!), but by the age of twelve I simply couldn't believe in anything like a 'God' anymore. So I was presented with a choice at some point and I thank my parents for letting me go my own way. Reading copious amounts of science fiction at a tender age certainly helped, and I suppose that type literature could be viewed as an emanation of the Enlightenment.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 04:14 pm:   

What I do find odd, though is Craig's comment that because, as he sees it, religion spends its time telling other faiths they are wrong and getting into conflicts over theistic arguments, then the resolution to that should be conflict.

Nope, Jonathan - respectfully, you missed what I was saying.

I'm not talking at all about how religions "spend their time": I'm talking about how they're fundamentally constructed; and specifically, I was talking about how Christianity (again, including Catholicism, and recent off-shoots like the LDS church, etc.) is fundamentally constructed.

Christianity, at its most basic level, IS a confrontational religion. It IS supposed to get in your face and confront you, challenge you, and try every means possible to get you to be one of them. "I came not to bring peace, but a sword," as Jesus says.

If Christianity is not combative, it's not Christianity - it's a de-balled anodyne version of it. By me rigorously attacking Christians, well... all I'm really doing, is rousing them from their self-indulgent sleepiness....

But now I'm sounding like an arrogant prick, the more I bring myself into this. And I hate that.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011 - 12:30 pm:   

You're right, Craig, Christianity, and any religion that sends out missionaries, is, by definition, confrontational and (imo) arrogantly blinkered - and confrontational arrogance is one of the most detestable of all human traits, particularly when coupled with missionary zeal.

Placidity, inclusiveness, tolerance, empathy, co-operation and, most of all, kindness represent the best that our poor flawed species has to offer - as Philip K. Dick never failed to point out, and with whom I agree wholeheartedly!
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Seanmcd (Seanmcd)
Username: Seanmcd

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.170.27.218
Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011 - 10:33 pm:   

There is always the stance of knowing that you don't know and being perfectly content, even dare I say it, 'enlightened' by that simple fact.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2011 - 05:03 pm:   

Placidity, inclusiveness, tolerance, empathy, co-operation and, most of all, kindness represent the best that our poor flawed species has to offer....

Amen. Religions, at their most ideal, represent these traits too, I firmly believe - whatever the logic-defying structures beneath them. After all, when no one's been there at the scene, some thousands or billions of years ago, depending on your faith... is an evolutionary myth-story really any more (or less) "real" than a religious one?...

And, Stevie: Jesus famously defied logic and reason and our natural impulses by telling men to "turn the other cheek," and offering more clothes when asked for some, walking farther when you're asked to walk so far, that's already burdensome. Okay, we all know it goes against our instincts of fairness and justice and all that... but going to your list of virtues, Stevie - is it at all possible that Jesus was being extremely sly here, according to given political/economic/social models?

People instinctively want power, people are instinctually selfish, people are instinctively protective of what's theirs, etc. Lash out, you get an inflaming of anger. The stimulus/response is how the vast majority act, and the vast majority only get so far in life. But was Jesus including in the gospel a little business model, a little "How to Make Friends and Influence People" instruction?

Turn a cheek, go another mile, offer something up front... people are also instinctively grateful, thankful, and will feel affection and obligation towards others, especially when offered something free of charge (like forgiveness, or one's time and effort), up front, without (visible) strings... you can go far in this world, by giving up front, and "casting your bread upon the waters"... maybe you can eventually replace a mighty Roman empire with your own power structure, if you follow this simple business-model recipe....
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.170.177.92
Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 12:44 pm:   

I heard this thing on the radio today about this black guy in America who stabbed and killed a white woman in 1961 and spent 45 years in prison. He's out now, and has been a writer and journalist for a long time (he was in jail on death row). What turned him around was reading books, not to change himself but because he was merely bored. But the books changed him nonetheless.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 03:27 pm:   

That's the great thing about books, Tony, they give you some sort of an insight into the experiences, the thought processes and the emotions of another mind/person/soul.

I have so much to say on this issue at the minute, as everything Craig has said was said previously, in much more literary and entertaining terms, by Robert A. Heinlein in 'Stranger In A Strange Land' and (what I'm increasingly coming to recognise as its unofficial sequel) 'Job : A Comedy Of Justice'.

As VMS said, the word "faith" should be considered as much of a swear word as "fuck", "cunt", "bastard" or "bollocks", etc... and yet, it is that very faith, when incarnated in kind individuals, that redeems the religious impulse.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.170.177.92
Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 03:35 pm:   

Stevie - I think I've stopped reading because all those things you say come from it i now only seem to get from writing. I'm just in a trance now (not a killing frenzy kind) from writing this afternoon. It's so like that lucid dreaming it's unbelievable, like a drug. I can't understand why I don't do it more often (maybe that's why - the intensity can make you quite queasy. It DOES drain you.).
For me swearing is the 'undoing' of language. When I hear it bandied casually about a part of me shrivels up and dies (not that part.). This doesn't mean I'm completely against it's use, I hasten to add.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 04:05 pm:   

Words are merely words, sex is merely sex, race is merely race and not something to get worked up about. Yet we continue to invest them with our (in)human preconceptions.

Preconception is the enemy of tolerance and inclusiveness... which is where we all need to get to. I'm with Bob - down with judgementalism!

To heck with it, expect a slew of quotes after this lol.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 04:59 pm:   

Here's a passage of Heinlein from SIASL that I like. This is Valentine, struggling with the concept of religion and how it seems to make his fellow (baffling) humans happy, and discussing the point with his latest and most cherished paramour, Jill:

""Jill, I've tried and tried. How many churches have we attended?"

"All the sorts there are in San Francisco, I think - except, possibly, for little, secret ones that don't list their addresses. I don't recall how many times we have been to seekers' services."

"That's just to comfort Pat [a religious friend and lover of both on a gentle mission to convert them] - I'd never go again if you weren't sure that she needs to know that we haven't given up."

"She does need to. And we can't lie about it - you don't know how and I can't, not to Patty."

"Actually," he admitted, "the Fosterites [Pat's faith] do have quite a bit on the ball. All twisted, of course. They are clumsy, groping - the way I was as a carney [they spent a memorable period in hiding with a travelling carnival] . And they'll never correct their mistakes, because this thing - " He caused Patty's book [the Fosterite bible] to lift. " - is mostly crap!"

"Yes. But Patty doesn't see those parts of it. She is wrapped in her own innocence. She is God and behaves accordingly... only She doesn't know who She is [the Martian certainty that All is One]."

"Uh huh," he agreed. "That's our Pat. She believes it only when I tell her - with proper emphasis. But, Jill, there are only three places to look. Science - and I was taught more about how the physical universe is put together while I was still in the nest [on Mars] than human scientists can yet handle. So much that I can't even talk to them... even about as elementary a gimmick as levitation [the mechanics of which are explained brilliantly elsewhere]. I'm not disparaging human scientists... what they do and how they go about it is just as it should be; I grok that fully. But what they are after is not what I am looking for - you don't grok a desert by counting its grains of sand. Then there's philosophy - supposed to tackle everything. Does it? All any philosopher ever comes out with is exactly what he walked in with - except for those self-deluders who prove their assumptions by their conclusions, in a circle. Like Kant. Like many other tail chasers. So the answer, if it's anywhere, ought to be here." He waved at the pile of religious books. "Only it's not. Bits and pieces that grok true, but never a pattern - or if there is a pattern, every time, without fail, they ask you to take the hard part on faith. Faith! What a dirty Anglo-Saxon monosyllable - Jill, how does it happen that you didn't mention that one when you were teaching me the words that mustn't be used in polite company?"

She smiled. "Mike, you just made a joke."

His first - as up to this point the concept of humour had been a confusing mystery to him... and on that bombshell the rest of the book hinges.
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 05:52 pm:   

down with judgementalism!


That's very judgemental..
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 06:18 am:   

Illuminating, Stevie.

Maybe in the end we're all like those people who were born in-between the finishing of those amazing cathedrals in Europe, which I hear took some centuries sometimes to actually complete.

You're born, and the cathedral is there - incomplete, but giant and stirring - promising to be something grand once it's done. But all you've ever known is the building, the working at it. At first it's a symbol of all things stirring, godly, magnificent, grand, meaningful, and true.

Then, as you grow older, its constant presence is oppressive, shadowing (literally), capriciously malicious (remember that poor guy who fell from the spire last week?), endlessly demanding, merciless and unforgiving (those rotten priests that ran out, chasing you away when you were kissing that peasant chick around back), a symbol of PRIDE and VANITY now that you think about it (yeah! that's it!), and then why bother with it all anyway, what's the !@#@! point?! etc.

Thesis, antithesis. And then - synthesis. You come to realize that it's not good or bad, or really sure what it is in the end, or if it will mean anything to the great beyond. But what you can do... is find a little spot, somewhere on it... and damn it, make the most beautiful stone portrait of St. Chrysistomesticon healing the lepers of Buecophalianalopoulus ever rendered... and it will be your tiny part of the giant cathedral, that will be a chosen testament of something beautiful and true for future generations....
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2011 - 03:19 pm:   

Craig, ultimately, the way I see it, science gives us material comfort (no matter how hard won), philosophy gives us intellectual reassurance and religion gives us a moral code. All three can be abused and all three can lead to happiness. The key is in telling the difference.

I fully expect Valentine Michael Smith to come to the same conclusions - having explored all three to the Nth degree...

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