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You can't reason someone out of something they weren't reasoned into.
If Christ were here there is one thing he would not be - a Christian.
Religion is regarded by the foolish as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.
It only takes 20 years for a liberal to become a conservative without changing a single idea.
-Robert Anton Wilson
He who would do good to another must do it in minute particulars. General good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite, and flatterer.
Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
...Faith: that is to say, to shut one's eyes once and for all, in order not to suffer at the sight of incurable falsity.
- Nietzsche, the Antichrist
They say, 'We do not know how this is, but we know that God can do it.' You poor fools! God can make a cow out of a tree, but has he ever done so? Therefore show some reason why a thing is so, or cease to hold that it is so.
-William of Conches
I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forego their use.
[Christianity has made the world] a prey to the wicked, who have found men readier, for the sake of going to paradise, to submit to blows rather than to resent them.
And don't tell me God works in mysterious ways. There's nothing so mysterious about it. He's not working at all. He's playing. Or else He's forgotten all about us. That's the kind of God you people talk about - a country bumpkin, a clumsy, bungling, brainless, conceited, uncouth hayseed. Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of creation? What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements?
-Yossarian, in Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Life is both entirely and only what you make of it.
-attributed to many, modified by dimmer
South Park 712 - All About Mormons (79.3MB avi) (true story)
- Bad Religion - Let Them Eat War
- Bad Religion - Epiphany
- Bad Religion - Kyoto Now
- Bad Religion - Faith Alone
- Bad Religion - Come Join Us
- Bad Religion - 21st Century Digital Boy
- Bad Religion - All Good Soldiers
- Filter - Dose
- Modest Mouse - Bukowski
- XTC - Dear God
- Sarah McLachlan - Dear God (XTC Cover)
Buddhism is a very old and expansive religion - there are many teachings and behavior prescriptions. It's also one of the few religions that doesn't give me the heeby geebies because the main tenents tend to be along the lines of being nice to everyone and leaving a small environmental footprint (in my limited exposure). The ultimate goal of every Buddhist is to become a Buddha.
In high school and college I was what a Sociologist would call a "seeker". I was looking for spiritual fulfillment and answers to questions like "What is the meaning of life", "What is my purpose in life", "How should I behave". I studied lots of different religions and religious teachings from the East and West, modern and tribal (although biased towards the modern Western religions due to my location in time and space): Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Mormonism, Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, Bahái, Scientology, The People's Temple (Jonestown), The Manson Family, Heaven's Gate, Cargo Cults, early Mesopotamian religions, and more that I don't remember as well (wikipedia has a great list of religions).
My conclusions, looking back, are really simple. Perhaps if I had had some "spiritual" guidance when I was younger I would not have had to work so hard to come to such basic responses to religion. In short, here are a few summary conclusions on religions:
- When it comes to extraordinary claims, extraordinary evidence is required for proof.
- All "holy books" were created by fallible men. I can't say for certain on other planets, but there was no godly inspiration on Earth. All of them contain glaring holes, inaccuracies and contradictions, if not downright ungodly behavior.
- All religions (like all human institutions) bear remarkable similarities to the milieu they were founded in. No religion changes the adherents substantially in a way you might expect the input from an omniscient being to. Related: see my recipe for religion.
- Testimony, a favorite tool of modern Christians, is bullshit. You can get people to say or believe anything.
- All logical proofs for the existence of God are wrong. All "new" theological positions are just Thomas Aquinas or some other very old argument rewrapped.
My spiritual quest was similar to that of a Buddhist. I read the scriptures and followed the paths to truth. I denounced untruth when I discovered it. Slowly I defined truths for myself, and came to understood how people came to believe untruths. I cast aside forever the ancient superstitions of my milieu. A learning Buddhist on the same journey might learn that all of who we are is defined by our physical brains. Modern science and neuroscience reinforce the idea that there is no soul. For example, after a brain injury somebody might change any number of mental/emotional attributes (for better or worse). I have been under anesthesia, and while under, I experienced absolutely nothing - as if I were dead.
Experience and the search for truth leads one to believe that there is no life after death - and if there is - it's probably not like the stories we've been told. Thus casting aside reincarnation, the Buddhist realizes that when he dies he will reach Nirvana because we all reach Nirvana. The human mind is still a relatively fragile organ, despite all its power. Not every human can cope with the thought of nothing after death. Only the mentally prepared and enlightened Buddhists realize they will reach Nirvana. The enlightened Buddhist does not want to take away the support from those who need it, perhaps he does not teach this part. The enlightened Buddhist teaches in order such that they the student can reach this conclusion on his own. Formerly a student, the Buddha sees that the answer was always there; he just had to look at it from a different perspective. These Buddhists become Buddhas, just like Atheists.
postscriptum: I don't mean all Atheists here. I just means the Atheists who are Atheists after a rational struggle for Truth. Also, I'm not suggesting that Atheists are enlighted Buddhists per se, just that the parallel between Buddhas and Atheists seems like more than a coincidence to me.