R. S. Martin

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R. S. Martin last won the day on December 26 2014

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About R. S. Martin

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    I do my own thinking

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  • Location
    Ontario, Canada
  • Interests
    learning why people believe what they do and normal stuff like birds, dogs and music
  • More About Me
    Born in a horse and buggy Mennonite community. Unable to find the intellectual stimulation I needed, at age 40 I broke with tradition and got myself a university education. This resulted in alienation from family, friends, and the only lifestyle I knew. I am now trying to find my way in "the world."

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
    I have yet to see the evidence
  1. It's one way of avoiding the accusation of "making an assertion" and meeting the atheist demand for making an argument with supporting documentation. I take it you don't like to read, especially not Christian apologetics. That's not their fault. You can choose your correspondents; ignore those people who write more than you can read. That means you won't like reading my posts, either, because I tend to make in-depth arguments and cite authors/websites to support my argument. I'm an atheist and ex-Christian.
  2. Originally posted here on Quora in response to the opening questions. Question: Is it religion that determines the morality of a nation? How does it affect the lives of secular individuals of such nation? Answer: Before we go anywhere with these questions we need to define some words: religion, morality, secular. Religion In my opinion, religion is life lived with belief in some kind of supernatural entity or reality, be it deities or reincarnations or Karma or Higher Powers, etc. Important life decisions and values of right and wrong centre on how they impact—or are impacted by—this supernatural reality the believer holds to. A word on “Higher Power,” since it is effectively used in Twelve Step Programs. If a person simply draws on a Higher Power for strength to resist something detrimental to self or others, such as the abuse of drugs or alcohol, I think it’s secular. However, if the person thinks the Higher Power will leave or get angry, or in some way be impacted when he/she fails to “obey,” then it becomes religion. The reason: At that point it becomes the centre of life decisions and values re right and wrong. Substance abuse is wrong for its own sake, not because some Higher Power will punish you. NOTE: I am not saying that religion is bad; if it helps a person be a better person then it is good. I am simply clarifying my position for those who want to know. Morality In my opinion, morality is doing that which will improve this world and the life of its inhabitants. I think the following two slogans neatly sum it up: My rights end where yours begin. You can do whatever you like so long as you don’t hurt self or others. Just to clarify, every day in every jurisdiction in the world, lengthy courts are held to untangle exactly what is meant by “hurt” and “rights.” I won’t mess with that. Churches, temples, mosques, and other places of worship are also places of discussion or preaching regarding the definition of these two words. Obviously, there are major differences of opinion around the globe. Secular To those who have read all of the above, it should be fairly clear what I mean by secular. I mean a primary focus on this material life on this planet before death. Most thinking people, I believe, have some kind of life philosophy regarding their understanding of the nature of reality beyond what can be seen and experienced immediately with the senses. Here’s a very rudimentary example of something about which most of us hold a “life philosophy”; that is we have beliefs but cannot experience it immediately with the senses: What happens to the sun after sunset? For eons of human history people couldn’t answer that question. Some of them worshipped the sun. Living in such a way that the sun would not be offended and fail to reappear in the morning was a central value and platform for life decisions. Though sun worship may have been out of fashion for many centuries, I remember in my childhood hearing exaggerated exclamations from the adults with regards to something despicable, “The sun would be ashamed to shine on that!” I doubt they believed the sun would die or fail to rise in the morning, but that statement smacks of sun worship or religion. Superstition is the more common term. However, I agree with the person who said “One person’s religion is another’s superstition.” In reality, on a secular level, we know that the earth is a sphere that revolves around the sun in such a way that the spot on which we currently are (if we are not moving on a jet) will be away from the light for a predictable period of time. That period of time has been measured in every way possible for all parts of the planet and times of the year. That is secular. Believing that the sun might “hide its face” because of someone’s behaviour is what I in this post call religious. Having established the difference between religious and secular, let’s look at the questions. Is it religion that determines the morality of a nation? As shown above, morality regards: personal rights what hurts a person Religion is concerned with the supernatural and its impact on human life now and after death. Each religion has its own view on how humans and the supernatural interact and impact each other. In those nations where religion is allowed to rule, obviously the religion of that nation will determine the morality of that nation. If I correctly understand it, this is where ethical differs from moral. To be ethical means not to violate another’s rights or hurt them on the physical, emotional, intellectual, and material levels. In other words, ethics and ethical are used in a secular way, while morals and morality is used any old way by anyone. How does it affect the lives of secular individuals of such nation? As you can see, if you read everything so far, “secular” do not equal non-religious or atheist. If secular ethics form the basis for your values and important life decisions, I think you can be considered a secular person while believing in and performing religious duties and rituals. Religion probably does not seriously affect such a person. I suspect you meant “atheist” when you said “secular individual.” Atheists who speak about their life philosophies routinely find themselves tortured and killed in some countries, and railroaded in job interviews in others. If they already have jobs, they get fired on some pretext. Families shun them, businesses turn them out, society ridicules them and refuses them public office. There are very few countries in the world in which atheists have complete immunity to live as full freely-speaking human beings the way Christians take for granted throughout much of the world. Canada is not one of them, the USA even less. We can save ourselves the persecution by choosing to lie. But that means living with lack of inner peace and personal integrity. Now you know how religion impacts atheists and why some atheists say religion is immoral. Religion hurts people who hurt no one and it violates the rights of people who violate no one else’s rights. **************************** Comments welcome. How do you agree or disagree? And why?
  3. "Wisdom issues." That's a new way of putting it but yeah, I've been told that, too. And I'm the one that left...they would say due to this lack of wisdom and insight.
  4. Geezer, I love what you're saying about Bart Ehrman and the historical/mythical Jesus. Somewhere online I met a person who argued that Jesus has to be historical because even Bart Ehrman does not argue for a mythical Jesus. I didn't trust it for the very reasons you state, i.e. he might lose his teaching position. You basically confirmed it. Christies are the persecuted batch (if you accept their claims) but it's atheists who have to lie in order to live decent lives and hold onto their jobs. Or suffer the consequences. It used to be the other way around. Not so many centuries ago, when people were persecuted in the true sense of the word they lost their right to freedom or even their right to live. In some countries this continues to be the case for Christians as well as for atheists or anyone else who challenges the politico-religious status quo.
  5. Whew! Thanks for sharing. Now I'll feel better whenever these pretend bible-fuckers accuse me of not asking the right questions or not fully researching my stuff before "rejecting" God/Bible. (No one asked more questions than I did though a few people probably read the OT more thoroughly but not a lot of Christies.)
  6. At last I found measurable evidence that Christians do not measure up to their own standards. For the last several months I've been spending time on a question-and-answer board Quora. It's for all topics but I read and write a lot for the religion and atheist section. Christians keep asking crazy stuff like: Atheists, have you read the entire Bible before dismissing it? Over a hundred people answered. LINK Finally an atheist asked: Christians, have you read the entire Bible before accepting it? Only eleven people answered and half of those said they don't understand the Bible. The reasons they gave for embracing it were emotional. A philosophy prof, who should have the intellectual skills to understand the Bible if anyone does, admitted to fanciful interpretations of the Nicene Creed rather than accepting the Bible. Wow! I conclude that if anyone is genuinely seeking the truth of life, the universe, and reality, it's atheists and exChristians--NOT the followers of Christianity regardless of breed or brand.
  7. Case for Christ answers no hard questions. It was recommended to me when I was asking hard questions of a friend who was also a baptist minister's wife. I couldn't understand it; these people supposedly had lots of education about the Bible and all (this was before I had my seminary degree) but they could not answer simple questions about why the Christian principles work as they do or how we know God exists--questions that had been burning in my brain since childhood. Jesus had said we should become as children; I was sticking to the unanswered questions of my childhood and no one would answer them. Then I got this recommendation. And found it disgustingly irrelevant. It said nothing that the Bible and the sermons didn't say. Skysoar, your description of the movie sounds like the movie capitalized and sensationalized Strobel's conflict over his wife's conversion. I've watched him speak on video and I remember no mention of a conflict regarding the marriage. If I remember correctly, he did have some questions regarding the validity of Christianity's claims but he seems to have found answers (that satisfied him) rather quickly and easily. He is (or was) a lawyer, hence the title "Case for Christ." He approached the Christian religion as a legal case to see if it made sense. I forget what question he was seeking to answer but he obviously answered it positively, Christianity made sense to him.
  8. This is more than two years old, published in Jan. 2015. It's still obnoxious and I doubt the old guy would give a different reply today. Just thought I'd point it out.
  9. How I love that someone else looked at the promises exactly the way I did--and expected them to deliver, then held God and Christians accountable for lies and broken promises. I love that I'm not the only one. A man my age, now in the ministry, told me we are not promised happiness. He said it in a letter. I had already left the church, in a depression so deep it nearly cost my life and he said that. I did not respond. How, I wondered, had he missed all those promises regarding joy in the Lord, peace of God, "blessed are..." in the Beatitudes, etc. Then there are all the admonitions to feeling thankful, which thankful feelings automatically translate into feeling happy. I knew beyond a doubt that in this life I had a right to expect happiness or inner peace and I was going to pursue it at all costs. Now I suppose some people think happiness equals getting drunk or getting laid or getting high. He could have asked me to define happiness instead of saying I had no right to it. Cripes!
  10. YES! to both of you. As some of you know, I made some pretty big changes in my life around the turn of the millennium in order to improve my situation. But I continued finding myself in difficult situations. One day, when waiting for a meeting with a professor or someone that I expected to be "more than I could bear," I was sitting on the grass outside the university praying. The thought came to me very clearly, like a thought from outside my brain, "It's wrong to pray." That's when I quit praying. I still considered myself a Christian because it was the only thing I knew and I hadn't totally given up to the point that I was willing to risk hell in deconverting. But I no longer prayed. When others prayed I bowed my head and pretended. The irony was deep and at times I pondered how one could identify as a Christian without praying but it was just one of those things. I could no longer pray. When I told the people in my new church about having made the change on my own, that God had not helped me (I said this even though still going to church and considering myself a seeking Christian), others told me gently that maybe God had helped and I just didn't notice. I let it go. I knew they were wrong. God somehow failed to limit the bad things to our level of strength--I had done it on my own. I knew myself well enough to be absolutely sure of that. Why I still considered myself a Christian was not something I could have answered with the same assurance. In looking back I know my hunch at the time was right. At the time it occurred to me that I needed a modern Mennonite Church community to carry me till I was well enough established in mainstream society to stand on my own. Their confession of faith was similar enough to that of my original church that it worked. I had lived for forty years using horse and buggy transportation and these people lived and dressed like mainstream society but believed the same when it came to the faith and things like Jesus, new birth, baptism, and salvation. They sang many of the songs in church that we used to sing in our socials. So for about three or four years I attended various modern churches till I felt comfortable just not going to church. When neither the modern Church nor the seminary (where I did my Masters of Theology) could answer my burning lifelong questions about how salvation really worked--stuff that is the logical conclusion of what the bible and sermons say but the sermons and bible don't touch it--I finally deconverted. I was walking through the bush on my way home from the last class of another course at the seminary and suddenly, like a thought from outside my brain, I knew that there is no god. I think that was in late July 2006. Soon thereafter I found these forums and by Christmas I was convinced that God really did not exist and considered myself an atheist. Does it ever feel good to tell the story. Again. I'm not sure what got me started...Oh now I know. This thing about Jesus being a friend and prayer solving problems and God not giving more than he will help carry. BULLSHIT!!!
  11. "Blessed are the poor" But I'll build a million dollar house. They do sing about street paved with gold and mansions for the blessed. Maybe they're getting their two lives--earthly and heavenly--confused. Or maybe they think "blessed" actually means "wealthy."
  12. Hello Daisy. I'm not sure if you're still feeling so badly or if things are looking up by now. What you describe here about feeling outside of your self sounds to me like proof of abnormal feelings. Though I am not a mental health professional; just speaking from my own and other people's experiences. I don't know what the evidence is that your insurance company requires. I don't know you, haven't read your earlier posts, but someone mentioned being new in town. My most severe and long-lasting hollow feelings were when I left the horse and buggy culture I was raised in and everyone was mad at me for doing so. But ten, fifteen years before that (in my mid-twenties) I suffered serious depression and felt "outside of my self." I also had lifelong burning questions about the faith, which raises the question: Why wait so long? However, I don't think the human body is able to tolerate the combined feelings of severe depression and a drastic change of culture at the same time. I realize that a move to another town in the same culture is not as drastic as the culture change I made but moving house is very stressful at the best of times, and I understand you suffer from depression. What I am suggesting is that your hollow feelings, etc., may occur for multiple reasons, from more than deconversion. Is it possible to get a professional diagnosis and treatment?
  13. I love this story about people who follow the guy who said "Blessed are the poor" and "there's something more than gold." Witty, so sorry about your hurt. I just can't believe it. These people believe in standing up for their beliefs, they praise martyrdom, they exalt truth. Yet they flee from anyone who asks honest questions about the real-life basis for their beliefs, they refuse to discuss the physical and scientific evidence for any arguments but their own, they won't even hang around to be "martyred" as in losing face in an argument. If their faith is so strong, how can they get "infected" by associating with an atheist? My own family uses a strange combination of passive aggressive shunning behaviour. All of it is hurtful because it says "You're not good enough."
  14. I'm glad that man's not my father, the way he blew up and threw stuff at the boy. The kid is just being a kid. He was trying, from what I could see, but when Dad took offence and started throwing stuff at him he cracked. The family did not sound or appear happy before grace was said, so we know the kid didn't blow up for no reason (we just don't know the reason) when Dad prayed for a job for him. Note he didn't bow his head for grace, so maybe he was just so fed up with a religion that does not deliver that he blew a casket when Dad basically "through prayer" hammered home the fact that he MUST place his trust in God for a job by Monday morning. I don't know. So much more is going on in that family than meets the eye. It's easy to blame an out-of-control kid but I think there's so much more to it.
  15. Thanks for all the additional points all of you have brought to bear on this topic. Great reading.