★ Gold Patron ★
  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Community Reputation

28 Good

About M4rio

  • Rank
    Strong Minded

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    Atlanta, Georgia
  • Interests
    Science, Mythology, Programming, Nature (The only force I know of that can be called "God"), Alan Watts lectures
  • More About Me
    I think the word "God" means 8 billion things to 7 billion people. For me, the word is roughly a synonym for "The Universe". It's the one unified force I am certain exists, and you and I are all part of that unity.

Previous Fields

  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?

Recent Profile Visitors

882 profile views
  1. For many years I've had a group of people waiting patiently on me to schedule some volunteering events. We did a few events here and there, but I always got bogged down in feeling like I had to perfectly make people feel happy about the group or help facilitate their stated goals of contributing or their project ideas. The idea is very simple: Religious and nonreligious people, out of a shared love of their community and each other, deciding to volunteer for existing, professionally managed non-profits that need simple labor (sorting supplies, donations, books, cleaning natural spaces, serving homeless, visiting the elderly, etc). And, additional but optional opportunity to discuss with others what inspires them to serve -- regardless of whether that motivation is religious, philosophical, or neither. People are inspired to help others for many reasons. All I care about is that people show up and that they do so out of commonality and in reconigition that people of different faith and of no faith tradition can collaborate to help others. The Interfaith Youth Core, http://www.ifyc.orgr, which now includes Humanist participation, has a very similar model, but it's focused squarely upon college campuses. I'm posting here because I want to hold myself to this and want to provide updates as it develops. Thank you for listening. My idea is for people outside of college to collaborate, however it certainly was born out of my college experience. I had friends in college who were Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Sikh, agnostic, atheist, etc. Somehow, we all got along well enough to work together on assignments, fo hang out together, to workout together, to have meals together, etc. I fully realize that some forms of religious belief are adamantly opposed to seeking common ground with the outsider. I also think they, at least the Christian forms, misinterpret their very own scriptures -- too much to go into here, but the parable of the Samaritan demonstrates well that the "other" is often the saving grace. I do not expect to see lots of conservative Christians wanting to participate in such a group -- but I do want to help cultivate events and space for people who otherwise wouldn't be likely to work together to feel part of something bigger than their own tribe or non-tribe -- while also retaining those tribal identities. I was reminded of the importance of something like this in my own life recently when having breakfast with two Muslim friends from college along with a Hindu mutual friend -- and more recently having dinner with a Hindu friend and her toddler daughter. Her daughter see no religious identity, no walls, no hells or heavens in abstract philosophies or rulebooks. What she sees are human beings, some of whom will smile at her and take her arms to play child's games like ring around the rosie or to swing her through the air. This, to me, is "god enough" for to be called the experience of "the divine". It reminds me of one of my favorite clips from Alan Watts called The Wisdom of Youth in which he analyzes another famous Jesus saying in a way that very powerful: A side goal of this project would be to produce some kind of guide for others to build similar cross-belief action groups, and hopefully some podcastable discussions in a similar style as IFYC's Common Ground podcast: https://m.soundcloud.com/ifyc Note: Where I got tripped up with this group in the fits and starts I had before was that I let some people try to divert the focus away from simple, quick easy labor opportunities for all participants (which allowed for people to have fun and get to know each other casually) and toward very specific, very intellectual and long-term projects that could only appeal to very specific people. I need to be better at enforcing some basic principles and when people want to recruit for specialized needs, I need to encourage them to remember this group's simple goals and to post their ideas in the forum and make a brief announcement, but that our group volunteering opportunities will remain simple and require no special knowledge other than the training that the non-profits we sign up with provide on the day. If they can find people who want to do those projects that is fine, but the group must have regularly occuring simple events for people to participate in and feel part of.
  2. Is there a forum search?  I don't see it on mobile

    1. Orbit


      There's one if you're using a computer. Not sure about mobile.

  3. Thanks ftnz and dichotomy for listening. I think experiences like these are part of why I have a really hard time stomaching most religious doctrines. They encourage the lies and secrecy, in my experience. And, if someone else is allowed to have an Experience of Jesus, then I am also allowed to have an Experience of hypocrisy. I try to realize, however, that on their own religious doctrines are simply ink on a page or scroll. It takes individual human beings and our institutions to utilize them for good or evil. It would seem that this was part of the message in Genesis in the first place, yet too many of us worship the idol of the written word and, amazingly, even believe it literally instead of reaching beyond the literal and blah blah blah all that stuff. I spoke over chat with my coworker this morning. He in several ways has an even more frustrating situation.
  4. In your best TV advertisement voice: Do you often, or even just infrequently, use Facebook and get notified with "People you may know" lists that include not-so-distant relatives that you, nonetheless, didn't know you had or who themselves have been shielded from knowing that you exist? What about when you call a family member and are informed that it's not a good idea to talk over the phone because your mere existence might become known? How about when you are seen in photos or videos and questions are asked by your unwillingly uninformed relatives, only to be told that you are simply "A family friend, moving along now.." -- Congratulations, your family may suffer from Secret Family Members Syndrome! Secret Family Members Syndrome is often coincident with a familial history of supernatural religious beliefs that emphasize sexual purity, shame, obsessive obedience before the will of an unseen, unprovable, and perhaps unreal deity. LOL, thanks for playing along... I bring this up after reading this article: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/11/27/366789136/your-adult-siblings-may-be-the-secret-to-a-long-happy-life And, after the pretty incredible coincidence that one of my own teammates at my job shares this same experience with me. And, we are the first people either of us have known personally at a close in-person level who has this experience. He told me today that his father, a Muslim man from Iran, got his American mother pregnant and kept it all a secret from his own family. In his cultural background such a shame would be devastating, according to my coworker. He got to know his father a bit in recent years, after he himself became a father. But, he also found out that he had two younger half-siblings and his father told him that he was not going to tell them about him! He even backed out of coming to see his new granddaughter several gears ago and has not been in touch since. When I was talking to him, I asked for reiteration: "So you are saying the only people you know who have had a similar situation were the web forum people you got responses from, and you've never met anyone in person who has?" After he said yes I said, "Well, you're talking to someone right now who has." Beeeeecausssse: I also have two half-siblings who my father and his Christian wife have kept me a secret from. I contacted one of them after he turned 18 and we have a bit of a relationship now, but the younger one turned 18 in September. I'm thinking about contacting me dad again soon and bringing it up again. He is not at all averse to it in the way my coworker's father is. But, he has been complicit in bowing down to his wife's fears and wishes to keep me a secret. She has been terrified that the kids will look down on her or my dad for having had sex out of wedlock when he was 24. She's also afraid they will not believe in her religion any more. Fortunately for my elder brother, he abandoned religion without Any Influence from me whatsoever before he even knew I existed. I did introduce him to Joseph Campbell though and he started watching and reading some of his stuff. Anyway, the whole Secret Family Member situation has been a frustrating part of the last 20 years of my life to say the least. But, wow, it was crazy to learn that someone I've worked with almost 2 years now has had such a similar experience. It makes me wonder how damn common this is out there and how often religion plays a role in justifying secrecy. Anyway, thanks for reading. I've been up all night thinking about this again, especially after I found my younger half-brother on Facebook for the first time. I also know he struggles with diabetes and with having been bullied in both school. Yet, I was never allowed to be his brother. I couldn't even help.
  5. I just got into a long discussion about this in face to face after I brought up the story of the couple in Oregon that is going to jail because they didn't seek medical care for their newborn for a very treatable disease. Instead they used prayer and oil. I said I was glad that the law had been changed to allow them to be prosecuted and not protected. She said I was focusing on a very narrow category of harm done to children done by a very small minority of religious people. Certainly it is the case that religions have some good effects. I would argue, however, that their benefits are far outweighed by their costs. There may, of course, be some religions for which this is not true, but if this is the case then I am not familiar with these faiths.
  6. There was a study (I will update when I find it again) that showed a positive correlation for lower crime rates when the society typically believed in a hell where bad people would be punished when they die; and a positive correlation for Higher Crime Rates when a society believes in Heaven. Yes, less crime when societies believe in Hell, but more crime when they believe in Heaven. I can't remember what it was for societies that believe in neither The belief of course does not make it true. This is true. It may very well be the case that the scientific method is not the optimal way of obtaining knowledge. In my opinion, it is certainly the case that there are types of knowledge which are inaccessible to science. But this does not preclude atheism, it merely precludes scientism. I suppose there could be a kind of pragmatic objection to atheism on these grounds. This sort of objection would do nothing to show that atheism is objectively false, as it would not establish the objective truth of any particular religion, but it might suffice to show that atheism is not useful. I actually agree with this assertion. Atheism isn't really a thing, so I don't really think that it can be useful. But I do not agree that theism makes pragmatic sense.
  7. I could only find this in a quick search https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_argument_against_naturalism It's from Alvin Plantinga, a Christian philosopher. I haven't read the whole summary yet. His argument is...not without its skeptics.
  8. Yeah, that's true, I think it's wishful thinking to imagine that it will just vanish. I like what they are doing over at the Interfaith Youth Core to build collaboration across religious and nonreligious identities though, because it doesn't start with conversation or discussion to try to influence anyone to change. Instead it starts with gathering people who have different reasons and motivations for behaving in the same positive ways for community service projects that benefit others. People can discuss their motivations or their similarities and differences outside of the service events, but the primary goal is focusing on looking past the religious identity and focusing on shared human identity. I didn't realize how big they had grown until looking them up again. Years ago I asked them about humanism and atheism, but they hadn't done anything about it yet. However they do now incorporate nonreligious and humanist groups. Chris Stedman, a humanist chaplain from Harvard, did an interview about it here: https://www.ifyc.org/resources/common-knowledge-podcast-atheism-humanism-interfaith-chris-stedman Another example is an interview with a Christian Environmentalist who believes that God calls people to take care of the Earth, not waste it and plunder it. It's linked from here: https://www.ifyc.org/podcast. They have a ton of information and resources on YouTube as well: https://m.youtube.com/user/InterfaithYouthCore. So, while it may be true that even these people are not necessarily changing their deepest beliefs about gods or god, they are going past mere discussion and collaborating for common good. I feel like behaving in solidarity is itself a change of belief already, and I hope their experiences together help them and more people understand that we are all just human and none of our private or professional doctrines is 100% correct and all other ideas are just shit.
  9. 1. Christians like todd friel are attacking humanism as a form of satanism and self worship. Your right, fear is powerful, it's why christians use it as their main recruiting method. 2. I am not sure what abscence you are talking about. All gods can be proven false by the same -0- evidence to back them up. If their is a god, he/she/it either is pure evil based on what we see in reality, or he/she/it doesn't care that all people and creatures are suffering which would again make god evil, or, god simply is a human construct and a security blanket for adult-children who need to have certainty in this life. I am always fascinated that people think you cannot disprove god. It is actually very easy. One simple way/example is as follows. All religions that claim to speak for god give rules to follow with promises of blessings/good luck if you do follow them. Obey what their version of god says. When nothing happens, as is the case with all reward/punishment man made religions like christianity, you now know that what you were told by their version of god was a complete lie. You move on to the next religion and do what they say their god says to do and watch as nothing happens when you obey their rules as well. Oh, by the way, there is -0- evidence that god exists, and what I do find seems to prove that a god doesn't. The biggest issue with telling the so-called True Believer that there is no evidence for their god is that they believe there is a ton of evidence. They think prophecy and eye-witness accounts are real and amazing. They think that the willingness of disciples to die rather than give up their faith is evidence. It may work on some individual believers to reason and argue them out of these conclusions, but because not all are willing to participate in such study and because of the Fear Factor and the appeal to infinite security and eternal life in an otherworldly afterlife, millions are willing to just go along with what they are told, and the rest of us get stuck with all the other baggage that comes along with their unwillingness to go deeper. And, what I mean by you cannot conclusively disprove the existence of some form of god or godlike being is a lot like saying we cannot prove conclusively that there isn't a teapot orbiting the earth, or whatever that old phrase is. People who want power or who want security will always be willing to invoke something like this in favor of their desires. What I'm hoping is that when people engage with them to try to direct them toward better ways of thinking and better results in real world behavior is that those interactions do not rest upon a personal desire to be completely right and to completely disprove everything about the believer's foundational ideas -- because it's very rare that such an approach is actively sought out by otherwise comfortable people. It's only when people reach a level of doubt or skepticism that they actively seek more knowledge that they are not turned off by harsh criticism. I guess what I'm boiling it down to is something like, for me at least, being willing to forget about trying to debate whether some force that can be called "god" does or does not exist (because such a force could be equivalent to the universe itself or the multiverse, etc), and moving into critiques or discussions lower down on the scale of beliefs, such as how to unite with enough people who believe in a "god" of whatever sort, so long as that god is NOT speaking to them about conquering other people, killing people, forcing other people to believe Exactly the same things about a specific holy book, or even about a specific Edition of a given holy book... I would much rather work in solidarity against the spectre of fundamentalism with people who believe in a "god of love" who don'to literally believe that the old Testament god command murder and who believe, even if they are Wrong when one closely reads the Gospels, that Jesus was all about love and peace. I don't think fundamentalism will ever vanish entirely , but I think we need to find more commonality with people of moderate "god belief" who already stand against fundamentalism.
  10. M4rio

    Pleasant Breakfast Conversations

    For example, take a verse like this in which The LORD kills people with hailstones: http://biblehub.com/joshua/10-11.htm I wonder whether a Christian would find it absurd if it said ALLAH used hailstones, or maybe a sandstorm to kill Muhammad's enemies? Would they say "How do you know that happened? What proof do you have?" Or "It's absurd to think that God or Allah would use hail or storms, that's just weather patterns and we know what causes weather." Maybe I'm hoping for too much.
  11. M4rio

    Pleasant Breakfast Conversations

    It seems like tricky ground to be in this space these days. The best bet, one that is Still frought with peril, is to separate individual Muslim people or Christian people from the doctrines in their espoused faiths. I'm not qualified to go down the path of arguing whether one or both religions have something textual or doctrinal that makes one more prone to inciting violence or not. That argument has been playing more months or years now elsewhere. But, as far as the stereotype thing goes, I found the "Koran Experiment" video from a few weeks ago pretty interesting, where some guys took a Bible and wrapped a Koran book jacket around it and had people read verses out of it on the street. They found some pretty awful things that contradicted what they considered Christian values, but then were surprised to find out the verses were not in the Koran but the Bible. It made me wonder about going a few steps further. I wonder what it would be like to take some of the commands of God to decimate and plunder people in Canaan found in the book of Joshua for example and replace Moses and Joshua with Mohammed's name, etc. Then have people read them, especially the kind who say God can authorize of command any action because he is the author of life and his ways are not our ways. Or, to find peaceful verses from the Koran and have Christians read them after being told they are part of the Bible. Surely some will not recognize them, but if they are peaceful and loving, they will likely identify them as good. Anyway, I don't know anything short of your dad becoming personal friends with Muslims who are just living a regular life and not winding up on TV for awful behavior that might crack his shell a bit.
  12. To me it depends on what the religion is about. Some religions come close to not pushing any specific dogmas on people, but rather are just about people caring about each other, the community, and the world at large. They seem to be few and far between however. Maybe humanism could grow in this direction, but with humanism...there are no ages old institutions and there is no fear, and fear is a powerful binding agent. It seems like...in the absence of the ability to disprove that any supernatural god or godlike beings exist, there will always be people who think one does or some do and use that to rally followers and unfortunately control them in many cases. Because of this...I sometimes think it's a wise idea, strategically, to support the general idea of "god is love", but then vigorously engage in pointing out how particular notions of god do not measure up to the idea of love. For example, I've yet to see a valid explanation for why it's OK for the Old Testament god to order the murder of innocents, nor the acquisition of women (who have not lain with men) for their own purposes. Certainly there is a subset of religious believers who will argue the whole mysterious ways and author of life angle, but if you look at the Pew forum statistics, an overall majority of people believe that atheists can go to heaven. Yes, that sounds absurd, but what it shows is that a huge number of religious believers look past the wooden doctrine and prcolamanations of contractually bound religious spokespersons and instead use their own judgement. A statement like "god is love", while obviously amorphous and open to any and all interpretation does still provide a starting point for argument or discussion that doesn't force the more traditional believer into the corner of feeling like their entire foundation and sacred beliefs are entirely under attack, invoking strong defense mechanisms and behavior protective of their group / individual identity. In my own mind, I am free to interpret the statement as "god" being an emergent property of the real world actions of love, and not as an otherworldly being micromanaging the universe and performing miracles (at least in the past, as some believers think miracles are from a bygone era). OK...I'm done speculating...I haven't tried any of these statements or ideas elsewhere, but I am hopeful. I am very skeptical of the idea that religion is just going to vanish. It's actually km the rise in developing countries, and rather than praying, I mean hoping, that the most harmful and wooden forms of it are going to just vanish or modernize without the engagement of people outside their fold seems like pure fantasy. This is why I admire what people like Peter Rollins and Michael Dowd are doing. I snipped some things to shorten your post, midniterider. I suppose that there are people who decide, "religion is bunk," and then later return to religion. Whether their rejection of religion was based on a serious analysis of it, I don't know. I think the usual arguments against philosophical skepticism amount to ways of trying to show that the skeptic is inconsistent - that the skeptic lives as though truth can be known. I have no idea how to argue against a skeptical attitude toward religious dogma, though. I can think of only two ways: 1. point to alleged miracles and try to show that they could not have occurred by natural processes so must be results of direct, divine action in contravention of natural processes; 2. point to alleged negative consequences of unbelief and argue that, since those consequences are unacceptable, the premises of unbelief are false - or at least, doubtful. I don't see either 1 or 2 as successful strategies of logical argument. I do see powerful rhetorical appeals basing themselves on 1 or 2. I suppose skeptics can reach points where they feel a need for religion in their lives. They then can say to themselves, "I could be wrong, I don't know everything," and go on from there to turn or return to belief. I don't know anyone personally who's done that.
  13. I think that some of my point must have been misread...For, if it's a far greater miracle that the many Roman occupiers failed to document the Many Saints, then it seems to me a less spectacular miracle that just one man, Thomas, failed to notice Many Saints. That's some twisted logic, but it's true! Good observation! I think Matthew's account of the resurrected saints also undermines the story of doubting Thomas in the Gospel of John. John 20:24-29 indicates that Thomas doubted the resurrection of Jesus until about a week later (verse 26), when Jesus physically appears to Thomas and the rest of the disciples. If all of these saints were resurrected from the dead and were seen by many people in Jerusalem, then why would Thomas think that Jesus could not have also risen from the dead? Shouldn't Thomas have either personally seen these resurrected saints, or at least heard accounts of them from the other witnesses? Did none of the other disciples see the resurrected saints and tell Thomas? Or better yet, if other disciples witnessed the resurrected saints and knew Thomas was doubting that Jesus rose from the dead, why not bring some of the saints to Thomas so that he could see them? I think an apologist might explain or rationalize that Thomas was in hiding for the whole week (still in fear from being arrested by the Romans) and did not hear or witness the resurrected saints; or that the disciples had already left for Galilee for a few days; or that Matthew 27:53 does not specifically indicate how long after Jesus' resurrection it took for the saints to come out of their tombs and enter Jerusalem. But seems a bit of a stretch to see how Thomas would be unaware of all of these resurrected saints.
  14. There were some fascinating points about ritual and emotion and rationality in the later 30 minutes of the Spinoza video link I posted above. It's hard to summarize, but to paraphrase it has to do with how Spinoza's observation that emotions are rational physical responses to physical events in the real world, not simply irrational outworkings of a disembodied soul or mind that is disconnected from the body. I don't think he was saying that thoughts and experiences do not influence emotional reactions or that they cannot be changed over time with new experiences, but was trying to explain how the body makes rational reactions to stimuli that express in what we call emotion. Looks like this site goes into great detail, though I have not read it: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/emotions-17th18th/LD5Spinoza.html I have read this book long ago and got some interesting ideas out of it: http://www.amazon.com/Looking-Spinoza-Sorrow-Feeling-Brain/dp/0156028719/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452087191&sr=1-5 If I were to hastily summarize that one it would be again about how the modern understanding of rationality is intimately tied to emotions and that if our brain is damaged to the point that our emotional reactions are not functioning properly, then we cannot make Rational choices -- we make nonsensical choices or cannot make choices at all. I have lately felt that the atheist / skeptic tendency toward demonizing emotion and religion is a very misguided enterprise. Worse, fundamentalist doctrines use Logic and Rationality appeals to justify the choices and commands of the Old Testament God in his war efforts against innocent people. We are told that the author of life can do as he pleases and that he has greater Reasons than we can understand. By insisting upon a divorce of Reason from Emotion, some of the most vocal atheists and skeptics actually feed their narrative. When, in the reality I observe, there is no Rational Justification for ordering the murder of innocents. And yes, I'm aware that some apologists question the translations of the murder commands in the book of Joshua and elsewhere. They say that maybe it doesn't really include women and children, but let's be honest: it does still talk about keeping women for their own use no matter what else it might or might not say.
  15. This is a great point about the many saints being More incredible! It certainly would be. This particular passage was what made me abandon literalism because no matter where I looked, there was no independent attestation to this Incredible Miracle. If indeed this were something that happened in actual history, one cannot reasonably expect the Roman occupiers to have Utterly Failed to Notice and Document this. We might actually classify the failure of independent attestation of such an incredible miracle to be itself a Greater Miracle.