Religion

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Religion is a mirror on out soul, it tells others who we are, and what we believe.

I've studied a lot of world religions, and have interest in many of them. I went to private schools up until the 3rd grade, and later went to Sunday school and a religious University. I had a friend that became a priest, and a few other people I've known who were pastors, religious or philosophical scholars. I've read the Bible a few times, (old and new testament), and have read other religious texts; scanned the book of Mormon, read many Asian philosophical teachings, and so on. (I really want to read the Koran). I find religion (people's beliefs) fascinating. That being said, I've been asked at various times about my religion. I'm an Atheist.

There's an old saying, that you need to be open minded, but not so open minded that your brains fall out. So the trick is to listen, read, learn and make the best decisions you can, based on the information at hand, and keep studying and learning to see if you can make a better decision, or if more facts can change your mind. But I'm still a fact-based and hyper logical person. And with that in mind, there just is not enough evidence (or any evidence) to support the concept of a God. And what there is to support the concept of a God, supports the concept of multiple Gods, or a God that is quite different than the Christian God.

I'm not a fanatic, that believes in being rude to others about their beliefs. I don't think people that believe in God(s) are fools, or bad people. My brother is religious, and I love him, and have no problems with him praying for me, nor do I want to ìeducateî him, or make him follow my world-view, any more than I fit into his. I still will go to Church for various occasions, and take no offense at listening to sermons or others trying to teach me the happiness that they have in their lives (as long as they are not offended at me doing the same). Many pious people (Priests, Rabbi's, Pastors and holy men) are fascinating and well educated, and I love discussing their religions with them and learning more about their views of history and their religious relics, rituals and texts.

I don't understand why people would want to prevent prayer in school (meaning a moment of silence where any denomination can pray to their God(s), and others can meditate), nor why people want to take ìin God we trustî, or ìunder Godî out of America. Don't sweat the little things; and show some tolerance for others beliefs. If they aren't saying which God, it is not a violation of church and state to me. And tolerance needs to be learned by all religions, even the religion of no religion. I do want to prevent the slippery slope of a state controlled religion; but I don't think a non-denominational moment of silence violates that in any way.

But I do have many strong beliefs; and many are based on more information and a better understanding of religions than many that practice their own religions. But either way, I just write to express my views; and coincidentally, that often aligns with some others, or at least helps others to understand an alternate view.

Here are my views on religion.

History of the world...

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You can go to any culture around the world, and they will create a religion. They even have similarities in stories. But you need to look at it from a sociologically or anthropological view. What motivates the people and the religion? There are reasons for all the stories creations, and it isn't that hard to figure out.

Why is there the history of the flood? Easy, if you look around, almost anywhere in the world, it has been under water at one time, and if you dig, you can find shells, fossils and bones. The priests need to explain why; so they make up a story about a flood, which seems to make sense. Now why did the flood happen? That's easy, the priests just explain it off as people not following the priest's teachings; so you better listen to them (and tithe properly and so on). Gods coincidentally, support the religions of the priests.

Why is there a heaven and hell (or reincarnation/afterlife)? Easy, if you look around, people want justice. Since there often isn't justice on this earth, and too much efforts at getting it (personally) would lead to anarchy, so there needs to be payback and reward in the ìnext lifeî to mollify and motivate people to do the right thing (or not do the wrong thing) in this one.

Why is there an afterlife (or something after death)? Because it is easier to face death if you don't have to face the truth that things just end. I don't want to stop being, and I don't think anyone does. So stories about mansions, palaces, or many virgins at my disposal for leading a Godly life, seem to be pretty nice platitudes playing to my weaknesses. And all it takes is me giving up free will and part of my income to the church.

All the stories and religions are built around a few things; rituals to reinforce the religion, rituals to empower the church or its leaders, platitudes to make people feel better (and want to stay in the religion), clique type peer pressure and social rewards for belonging, threats for those who don't follow the rules, and so on. Churches and religions are about power, and mind control. In fact, most of the things that people claim are ìcultsî and ìbrainwashingî techniques are used by every religion. Brain washing is a pretty simple process, and if you want to learn about it, just study any religion. Some of these techniques include;

  • Repetitive reinforcement, positive and negative reinforcement, marketing and spin (only telling one side of an issue), and so on, are all forms of mind control. Stimulus response or reward/punishment are all ways to ìteachî or ìtrainî people (and their minds). Good things get rewarded, bad things get punished, and you have traditional aversion therapy; a mild form of brainwashing.
  • Subjective interpretation is common; I've heard the same passage represent many contradictory things, depending on the mood of the pastor. Eroding a persons confidence in their own views (and interpretations) by changing what things means or how to interpret them, and reinforcing the ìone trueî pastoral interpretation, is a way to teach people to give up their free will, and accept the will of others. (Like those interpreting the will of God for you).
  • Keeping people awake and fatigue after long stressful activities and the brain becomes more pliable and willing to agree and believe in anything (to end the fatigue).
  • Deny the brain protein, and offer it sugars, and it tend to be both more pliable, and willing to etch paths (learn messages, and harder to unlearn them). Think of bake sales, or church social functions, which tend to be high on sugars, and low on substance.
  • Put a human under emotional stress, especially around love, acceptance or confession; and again, you can more easily etch things in that person. This is again the same pattern, with the good being godly and rewarded (like confession and getting forgiveness), and bad being punished (guilt, judgment, and so on.) And we try to center lots of emotional event to the church, as a way to tie those emotions together. </li>
  • Repetition like chanting, hymns, or just prayer is also a form of etching and brain washing. Anything that you do over and over is a way to wear down the brains resistance. This is best understood by telling someone a lie, or asking them to repeat it. In an amazingly short time, those people will believe the lie, and defend it to the death.

Brainwashing isn't difficult, and these techniques have been used for millennia. We have far less resistance to this stuff that most realize, and many people know how to use it. When your church does it is enthusiastic religion. When your organizations or schools do it, it is called ìteachingî or ìsupportî. When your therapists or support groups do it, it is called therapy. When people that you don't like do it, it is cultist brainwashing.

That doesn't mean that the power and mind control are all used for bad, or that churches are bad. Churches, like any government, are highly mixed in deeds. But that is all religions are, organized little governments that are built around a common belief system. Not highly different from our other forms of government. And their actions are some of the best examples of ìhow to brainwashî someone that we have. Even surpassing our school system.

Religions

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Confessions of a recovering atheist. I used to call myself an Atheist, because I don't believe in an anthropomorphic (humanized) "God". But most of the atheists I heard talking or writing, were kind of douche's, so I was almost embarrassed to be associated with them. Plus there's always doubt: we don't know what's out there beyond our comprehension, so being too definitive is being close minded. I think it's highly unlikely there's a temperamental deity out there who cares where I put my penis or how I often I gratify myself, but the idea that our reality or existence was tampered with seems reasonably likely. So I had to put so much prefacing or qualifications in my atheism, that it became easier to say, "I'm agnostic". more...
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I joke that Atheism is the idea that first their was nothing, then it blew up. Of course that's a little simplistic. But in the end while I'm an atheist, in that I don't believe there's an anthropomorphized and temperamental God of the Old Testament, or really any Gods that we would recognize. I also believe there's lots of things that we don't understand, and never will. And I part from the atheists in that I believe in giving others enough room to have whatever beliefs they want without thinking any less of them. Quite the opposite, I respect the hell out of people that have a belief system and try to live up to those standards. I also have no problem at all with prayer in school, going to church, hanging out with Religious folks, and trying to live my life as a good Christian. (It's still a damn good book/philosophy and code of conduct). more...
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I'm a fairly well read atheist, who was baptized Catholic, raised mostly Christian (with different sectual overtones), my father is Muslim, and I went to private religious schools in elementary school and College, and who has had many religious friends and influences. I have read the Bible a few times, but also read information about the Bible and its origins, and I enjoy discussing these subjects with people far more educated than myself. These are my opinions on the history and origins of the Bible, not to malign others views -- just because I get a certain peace and closure out of writing my thoughts down. more...
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Buddhism: always working towards Enlightenment. Buddhism is based on one mans enlightenment, Buddha. The philosophy originated in India, but traveled to China, Japan and influenced much of the Orient. Many cultures have a mythology that goes along with the tales of their ancients, and Buddha is no exception, there is a lot of mythology associated with his life. But in the end, the ideas that stick are that of a human learn peace, self-discovery and enlightenment through meditation. more...
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There is a true story about some South Asian Islanders (Melanesians) that sort of sums up a lot of human behavior for me. During WWII, Americans used small islands as airbases to launch various attacks against the Japanese (and vise versa). When they war ended, they left. Later, someone went back, and found that on one of the islands the landing strips hadn't grown over. And when they got there, they found that decades later the natives had built a whole religion around the airbase. They had made mock-up planes out of straw and bamboo, had kept the strips clean, and had various relics and artifacts that they used in their rituals.

When the westerners talked to the natives they learned that the natives were trying to lure back the planes; because the planes held mana from the Gods, called "Cargo". Cargo was all sorts of magical things that the islanders didn't have or understand, but they wanted. They didn't know who the men were that tended to the planes or who were the priests of this Cargo, but they knew that if they mimicked them, that maybe they could lure the planes and Cargo back. The Cargo-cult, as they were named, built a religion around things that they didn't understand and on the fables of the people that had been there but couldn't accurately describe what they had seen. (I don't know enough about other attributes about the Melanesians to know how to score them on all the other aspects -- but as they were the opposite of hateful of outsiders, I don't think they would actually score very high at all).

I've always felt the Cargo Cult, and other religions were the exact same thing; Mans need to describe things that are beyond his comprehension. more...
This section is to discuss one of the most persecuted minorities in the world: Christians. Of course, that's a bit overstated, as they have wide swaths of the country and world where they are not looked down on nor condescended to. But in Urban and especially Liberal areas (California, NY, etc), or leftist countries, they're often treated like superstitious ignoramuses. And in much of the world, they are openly persecuted (especially smaller sects of Christianity like Jehovah's witnesses, LDS, and so on). So while I don't mind an introspective media willing to navel gaze on our own REAL problems, I do have a problem with selective blindness, that tries to defend the intersectionally oppressed (in a county where say Muslims have the most freedom in the world), while ignoring real persecutions going on wherever Muslims or Socialists (Collectivists) gain control. These is just some examples of the problem. more...
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Confucianism was best summed up by Rodney King, "can't we all just get along?" With way too many people in close quarters, a religion about how to get along was bound to spring up. Confucius was a man, alive from 551-479 BC. One of the major concepts of Confucianism is li, which translates roughly as propriety, order, and courtesy, and is often expressed through ritual and ceremony. Li is basically the laws by which we are governed. more...
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Because I have a reasoned view of immigration, some have called me a xenophobic racist, showing they don't know what either word means, and aren't listening to what I actually think (or are missing the nuances of life).

I love immigrants. I am one. Well, 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation immigrant. (Iranian Dad on one side, Italian Grandma and German Great Grandparents on the other), raised mostly by a British Step-Dad. Many of my friends (now and growing up) and coworkers today (and historically) have been immigrants as well. I've dated immigrants, I taught immigrants, and I hang with immigrants. I love variants in culture, language, food, and people. So if you think I'm against immigrants, you're a moron.That being said, if you think all immigrants are equal, and we should have open borders, your reading comprehension needs work. (I say that because lots of people will read the following, and then claim I'm anti-immigrant. more...
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First you need to understand the History of Israel and Palestine. Once you do that, you can loop back around and understand why Iraq had nothing to do with either. Yes, Arabs think it's a great injustice that they can't murder all the Jews and drive them into the sea. But they're a feudal tribalistic culture, so the problem isn't with Israel wanting to exist, it's with those that want to kill them and refuse to see anything they do as wrong. more...
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Islam is a monotheistic Judeo-Christian sect (broken into one of two denominations; Sunni (85–90%) or Shia (10–15%)), which teaches the following: This 2nd largest religion was created in the 7th century in Mecca, by Mohamed sharing his visions in the form of the Quran. There is no god but God. Muhammad is the messenger of God (as was Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus). That quote is called the creed (Shahada) and takes on spiritual meaning as one of the 5 pillars of Islam (the creed, daily prayers, alms, fasting, pilgrimage). Following Islamic law (sharia) touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, from banking and welfare to women and the environment: there is no separation between church, state, and law. Islam believes in social justice, and a hierarchy where: other Muslims are better than the other Abrahamic religions, which are much better than pagans or atheists. Islam replaced tribalism with Religionism: God, Family, Other Muslims, Country, Infidels. God is merciful, all-powerful, and has guided humankind through prophets, revealed scriptures and natural signs, as well as intervention in all outcomes (God is far more "involved" in day-to-day than Judeo/Christian flavors of God). Which is a source of frustration (God's anger) since Islam has gone down hill since the 10th century which to some, shows that they are not being pious/Godly enough: resentful fallen empire chip-on-their-shoulder. more...
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I'm not a cunning linguist, nor a middle eastern expert -- but my Dad is Iranian and Muslim, as is 1/2 my family, and being "not from here" means I've been more observant of different cultures than most. Just like when you say "Fuck you", it rarely means want to copulate with them, when middle easterners say some phrases like "Death to America", or "God is good" (Allahu Ahbar), it probably shouldn't be literally translated either. more...
Like getting beaten to death with a dildo, any tool can be used for hate... but MY purpose is just laughing at ourselves.
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"Muslims aren't capable of a successful democracy". People said the same thing about democracy in America or Europe before is succeeded there too. I think the elections proved the myopia of those saying that you can't do Democracy in the Middle East. The truth is Turkey, many Asian muslim nations, and now Afghanistan and Iraq are now democracies, with some thanks belonging to the U.S. and our policies. People that said it would never succeed said the same things about Russians, Asians, Africans and others. more...
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Never let an opportunity go to waste: the politicians and media prey on this tragedy, knowing it will be fodder to copycats. But lives of those sacrificed aren't as important as the agenda. Hey, if you want to let democrats make an omelet, they're going to break some eggs. Just remember, you, your friends, your family, and the truth, are the eggs. more...
The First Amendment reads in part, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;".

At the time, this was pretty clearly meant that there would be no single Federal Church (like the Church of England), and that the Federal Government would be forbidden from interfering with the States and communities enforcing whatever religion they wanted. What it did not mean is that there would be a clear separation of Church and State or Local Government -- just strictly the Federal Government could not put one religion above the others. The Founding Fathers would have been appalled that anyone would use the 1A to restrict religious practices, in school or anywhere else for that matter. A decade later, Jefferson had wrote the line called "the Separation Clause" in a private letter, but even that didn't mean what progressives later pretended: at the time of the writing, and long after, States had official religions, Prayers were done in Congress and Courts, and no one had problems with prayers in School. In fact, the government's first Holiday was Thanksgiving whose purpose was specifically required "...shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God."

So you can argue that you WANT the Separation of Church and state, or that a few rulings over the years by the Supreme's help reinforce that. As long as you're not dishonest enough to imply that was the Original Intent, which is most certainly was not. more...
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Shintoism is the Japanese religion that believes in millions of spirits (Kami) in all things. These spirits are good and bad, more powerful or weak, flawed or not. Because no "founder" of Shinto and there is no supreme book or reference, this makes shinto very adaptable. more...
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The 'Tao' is an indescribable abstract. Since I enjoy a challenge, I'll try to describe it. Taoism is a philosophy of harmony and balance with nature and self. The word 'Tao' means path, road or way. It can be interpreted as method, principle or doctrine. The 'path' is the harmony and orderliness of the universe, it is this manifestation of 'Tao' that is the "natural order" or "heaven on earth". A person need not strive to achieve the Tao, one just yields to the natural forces and follows the path of nature and Taoism. more...
As an overgeneralization: the middle east (and Islam) as a culture are more tribalistic than Western (or Eastern) religions, this is magnified in expats where they're a minority in a country. They have less interest in integrating than many other groups, as they see their separation as respectful of God -- and they see that those in their religion should be treated different than those outside it. Their religion blurs secular interests with political agendas: muslims are SJW's that would love to for Sharia law on everyone else. more...
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Religion is faith.
People love to focus on how smart we are, and what we know. And that's fine and all. I love what we do know. But to keep one humble, it helps if you remember that there's stuff out there that we don't really know, some we understand what happens but not why it happens, and some stuff we may never really understand. A lot of this is just stuff we can't test, so can't understand. Some is stuff we can test, but still don't understand. The scientific method is great and all, but some things might be bigger than us. I'm OK with that. I'm just not OK with pretending we know things that we really don't. more...
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What is God? Why ask an atheist/agnostic? My short answer is going to be, "No Virginia, there isn't a God"... but my longer answer is more tolerant and agnostic. I believe in the absurd notion that "first there was nothing: then it blew up". With a view like that, I believe I have no room to criticize others beliefs. Science and Religion merge in astrophysics (since you can't run experiments or prove anything). Heck, like 90% of the Universe is supposedly (dark) matter and energy we can't see, hear, touch -- it's just variables that make our equations balance out. So I'm not trying to claim I have the only answer, just an answer that works well enough for me. more...

Conclusion

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There is no doubt that mankind has a need for answers and belonging. There is no doubt that religion fulfills both of those for some. There is no doubt that men can be brainwashed and programmed. I call us "wetware", like software or hardware. We can program ourselves, and frankly it isn't that hard, and the techniques are well known. Many or most of these techniques have been used first and foremost by the religions of the world. So the only question left is that despite the fact that religions are about brainwashing, and playing to man's needs, all for their own personal and organizational gain, are they right or wrong? It is still possible that despite skewed methods, or the moral extortion, and so on, that the priests and the religion is still right. And that the church itself is a test of faith, against all reason and evidence to the contrary. But I'm not one that has that kind of faith.

I do believe that there is something to be learned from all religions. All of their stories, rites and rituals, have a purpose. And I can learn from those. And ultimately I don't think needing and belonging are bad things. And I do see the good that religions have done historically, as well as the bad. But religions have reflected mankind, not a higher being, in the most important area of all; their deeds. Religions have been used to start wars, torture people, mislead people, extort and exploit people, and to take power and money from some people and give it to others. It has also been used to build community, do great acts of charity and compassion, great acts of kindness and forgiveness, or helped people grow and live better lives. So it is a tool that has been abused, as well as being used for good. It is a dangerous tool, that must be respected, and learned from.

Religions to me are best as a tool to learn about people. They are a Rorschach inkblot of people's souls. If you want to understand someone, ask about his or her God or his or her belief. I've heard many that say their God is merciful, but then talk about how all the non-chosen will roast in hell for all eternity; which reflects true intentions. Others have said, "my God would not punish group X for not knowing him, but I will do my best to help them and others know my God"; that to me is a true merciful God to worship, and a truly merciful person.

So you can learn a lot about people based on the God they choose to worship, and based on what people believe.


Written: 2002.10.08

Religions : AgnosticAtheismBibleBuddhismCargo CultChristiansConfucianismImmigrationIraq is because of Israel-PalestineIslamIslamic PhrasesMemes-ReligionMuslim tribalism means they'll never do democracySan Bernardino: Mass Shooting RecapSeparation of Church and StateShintoismTaoismTerrorism: Islam vs ChristianityUnexplained PhenomenaWhat is God?