The JW's come a-calling
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15-09-2010, 04:15 PM
 
Tongue The JW's come a-calling
The Jehovahs Witnesses just left--we had a nice chat. They offered me a hope of evil being ended and asked me how I felt about that--so, I pointed out the impossibility of good existing without evil and we all played semantics for a while. Then they let me read from Psalms--more semantics, and they were surprised when I said I was an atheist--they probably were used to less cordiality from my fellow unfaithful.

And that makes me think--once this atheism thing really gets going, watch out! There are already folks who vociferously protest any sign of creches or xmas trees on public property (especially schools). If they ever get to a higher population percentage, I predict they will be so 'orthodox' in their 'unfaith' as to make the Hassidim look like gangsta-rappers. They'll start bleeping out TV shows that use the words angel, heaven or transubstantiation. They'll pixelate-out the denomination symbol in any video of the graves in Arlington.

Satanism will be especially persecuted, since Satanists believe in both God and his Evil Counter-Part ( a double threat )!

There's no great secret to predicting the future--it follows Murphy's Law quite rigidly--and it's been said that nobody makes money by treating people as intelligent creatures (think 'TV Ads') and, likewise, no one should be surprised if people find many new and exciting ways to be stupid in the face of any News Bulletin.

So it is possible that a non-religious culture would still experience disagreements, misunderstandings, and general venality of every kind. We who have made the decision to embrace the obvious and refute every major faith of every nation can get awfully smug while condescending to our faithful brethren and sistren. Having given up the comfort of certainty in our faith (and, in most cases, spurned the faith of our immediate- and extended- families) we naturally want to needle the poor, misguided folks who disagree with our findings.

Now sabbaths, or holy day-of-the-weeks, have a wonderful socializing effect on the members of the congregation--it is, in many cases, the way a boy and a girl will meet. So, if we atheists want to do this up right, we must give thought to a similar regularly-scheduled gathering tradition. First, we'll need a theme: book club? bingo? bowling? civic projects? and we'll need a special building (think up a name) where once a week people come together without exclusion, age limit, or political leanings.

Just as days of rest and society are important to a local culture so, too, we may want to consider an annual lent or fast, which has been seen to be healthful in that it frees the mind for other concerns and allows one's innards a healthy respite.

Beyond those few items, I suppose the weekly meeting might attempt to include philosophical discourse (just so long as we give it ANY OTHER NAME than that) as a embankment against the resurgence of charismatic faith groups. And beyond that, the less said the better--any additions or niceities of expression will only guarantee off-shoot groups who want their own, different guidelines. But, trust in Murphy, if we did that we would still have offshoots of people who want just this one extra thing--thus offshoots are guaranteed.

Human Nature seems the apropriate term for this zero-sum game of stabilizing societies--if it were a question of invention or ingenuity you may be sure we would have abolished all our faults long ago. But one big fault of Human Nature is that each individual has his or her idea of what 'living in peace and quiet' entails. Some of us need excitement, even recklessness--some need loud music, some prefer silence--the young want to rush ahead--the old want to go slowly and carefully. Some enjoy nightlife, some enjoy a good eight hours of sleep. So we see that in most cases, what one person wants to start is the thing someone else is desperate to stop--it's Human Nature.

So that, on the day atheism takes it's place as our primary religious view it will be endowed with more than a majority--it will also have the seeds of all the evils perpetrated by religious systems of history--and just as small a hope of making everyone happy all at once, perhaps smaller once we've torn apart the web of fantasy most people enjoy today.
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15-09-2010, 05:19 PM
 
RE: The JW's come a-calling
Sorry I couldn't exactly follow what your post says so forgive me if I misunderstand you.

You seem to be suggesting turning atheism into just another "religion" (religion basically being a collection of doctrines enforced and spread by an institution) except this one just has no deity. That is not what atheism is. It is simply the lack of belief in God. Nothing more. We don't need a day of meeting, day of rest, or anything. Unless you are being sarcastic...
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15-09-2010, 05:51 PM
 
RE: The JW's come a-calling
(15-09-2010 05:19 PM)TruthAddict Wrote:  Sorry I couldn't exactly follow what your post says so forgive me if I misunderstand you. {---} ...We don't need a day of meeting, day of rest, or anything. Unless you are being sarcastic...

Yes, you have misunderstood me. People have certain behaviors. A society encompasses those behaviors in the hope of maintaining civilized behavior among as many people as possible.
Communities need to gather, to mingle, to form bonds and mutually-beneficial relationships, to court each other, to network. While the internet makes much of this socializing possible without actual gatherings of bodies, there are still needs and desires that can only be satisfied with the actual presence of two or more people.

Studies have shown that annual fast periods can have a very beneficial effect on those who practice such rituals.

So, I am saying that people are better off if they get together once a week as a community and periodically defer their tendency to shovel food in their mouths.

But I am also saying that even atheism is a religion in a practical sense--this would be more obvious if it was the predominating belief in society--Parents would be very strict about not believing in fairy tales and myths--teens would get a thrill holding secret masses that would shock their parents--people would start shooting the protestor outside the abortion clinic instead of the abortionist heading on in to work.

Is religion a bad thing?--more or less, I would say 'yes, it's a bad thing'. However, the concepts of authority, dogma, right vs. wrong, etc. will easily adapt to an unreligious world.

Unfortunately, what I'm really saying is that even if we get sensible about religion and put it behind us, we will still have to endure our own paradoxical natures.
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15-09-2010, 06:05 PM
 
RE: The JW's come a-calling
Thanks for the clarification.

I personally don't have a need for any of the structural elements you are talking about, but that obviously may not be the case for everyone.
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16-09-2010, 12:36 AM
RE: The JW's come a-calling
(15-09-2010 06:05 PM)TruthAddict Wrote:  I personally don't have a need for any of the structural elements you are talking about, but that obviously may not be the case for everyone.

Not everyone is prepared to run their life without outside help, guidance and affermations. Many people rely on the structure of the customs they grew up with, or adopted. I, however don't see atheism's role as the one to take on those tasks. Those tasks are for communities to take on. Recreation and meeting centers that are NOT profit based business operations would serve the community's needs and be run by the community.
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16-09-2010, 10:01 AM
 
RE: The JW's come a-calling
(15-09-2010 06:05 PM)TruthAddict Wrote:  Thanks for the clarification.

I personally don't have a need for any of the structural elements you are talking about, but that obviously may not be the case for everyone.

You're being asocial. My conviction is that we must divide our priorities in two: people need to fulfill their individual dreams AND society needs the participation of the people. I believe that people underestimate the importance of community--especially American community. Hence the get-out-the-vote drives: they are desperately begging their fellow humans to participate in this one simple way--and for their own good. I think we need to go further and I think the internet will continue to make this easier in some ways but more difficult in some other, very important ways.
I, however don't see atheism's role as the one to take on those tasks. Those tasks are for communities to take on. Recreation and meeting centers that are NOT profit based business operations would serve the community's needs and be run by the community.
[/quote]

Communities do not run themselves automatically--they take their cues not just from government, not just from consensus, but also from the ethical underpinnings of their citizens.
Taking religion out of people's lives completely would have practical consequences--and loss of a central social location, weekends off, and a barrier against eating disorders are only the most obvious examples.

You do not see it as atheism's role? of course you don't--atheism is an idea, not an institution. But you're overlooking the fact that religions start the same way, with ideals and faith and hope, and end up doing evil through the institutions that their ideas produce.

Community leadership is a job for a person--not a theory in my mind, or yours--and that person's take on 'atheism' will effect the course of the community. But his or her atheism may be a very different thing from mine, or yours.
Atheism has no role in the community, right here and now. Most people reject it and stay faithful to their religion. But, if religion goes away, "atheism's roll" will be whatever happens from that point on.

What I'm saying is that Atheism as an idea, as you say, has no role in our present, but our possibly agnostic future, by making us all faithless will, by definition, make every decision the role of Atheists.
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16-09-2010, 10:59 AM
RE: The JW's come a-calling
Is this another one of those "Religion = morality" things?

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16-09-2010, 12:55 PM
 
RE: The JW's come a-calling
(16-09-2010 10:59 AM)Cetaceaphile Wrote:  Is this another one of those "Religion = morality" things?

I'm not being sarcastic, I'm not trying to imply anything. I'm speaking as plainly as I can.

It is a simple fact that our society would be greatly changed by the passing away of all the major faiths. It is a fact that people don't exist in a vacuum, that they must be part of their community--because people cannot get along very well without the regular social exchange of feeling and ideas.
It is a fact that people behave at cross-purposes to each other--sometimes even at cross-purposes to themselves. We like to pretend that common sense and practicality exist but the truth is we all act selfishly, reflexively, and habitually.

Our world is a time continuum moving towards the future at the rate of one second per second. We are animals come to self-consciousness. Our beliefs are archaic and childish, but they also represent the environment of our civilization's mind-set.

Many of our activities are pointless without a belief in religion--our very existence becomes meaningless in the face of atheism. I face the future with the certain knowledge that religion is bunk. I live a life that I freely admit is meaningless, just like all humanity, or the entire planet Earth, or the solar system or the milky way galaxy.... I live among people who insist on praying for me even after I tell them I'm an atheist.

Remaining sane and 'fitting in' under these conditions is no simple exercise. But you, my thread responders du jour, are eager for a point to debate, a belief to debunk, a side to take in the exciting world of sociology, anthropology and debate. I'm in my fifties, I've long given up the fiery rebelliousness of the fit and the agressive.

I've decided that people, by and large, are happier with their Faiths than they would be if I succeeded in destroying that belief. I've decided that my being an atheist doesn't mean 'fighting the good fight' or 'standing my ground'. It is simply the result of having clearly seen the connection between human nature and the format of religious institutions.

The most prominent part of atheism is its insistence on our ignorance--while others pray and confess and baptize, warm in the security of knowing the universe makes sense, we say "I Don't Know" period, end of sentence.

I've come to avoid the obvious corrolary "They Think they do, but they're Wrong--they don't know either". It has become plain to me that my acceptance of the mystery does not require me to spread the word that I'm absolutely positive, that I Don't Know. I tell people I'm an atheist and if they don't ask about it, I leave it at that.
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16-09-2010, 04:37 PM
 
RE: The JW's come a-calling
(16-09-2010 12:36 AM)No J. Wrote:  Not everyone is prepared to run their life without outside help, guidance and affermations. Many people rely on the structure of the customs they grew up with, or adopted. ....

This, better than anything states why I stayed in the military as long as I have. It, on the surface explains why anyone falls into patterns, whether they are beneficial or detrimental to them.

It's hard to leave anything that has a structure, whether it is religion, the armed forces or the Boy Scouts. Without that structure, you can feel adrift. I do not need atheism to provide structure for me, since it is that specific type of structure (and scripture) that I am using atheism to avoid.
(16-09-2010 10:01 AM)xperdunn Wrote:  ... My conviction is that we must divide our priorities in two: people need to fulfill their individual dreams AND society needs the participation of the people. I believe that people underestimate the importance of community--especially American community. Hence the get-out-the-vote drives: they are desperately begging their fellow humans to participate in this one simple way--and for their own good. I think we need to go further and I think the internet will continue to make this easier in some ways but more difficult in some other, very important ways.

Communities do not run themselves automatically--they take their cues not just from government, not just from consensus, but also from the ethical underpinnings of their citizens.
Taking religion out of people's lives completely would have practical consequences--and loss of a central social location, weekends off, and a barrier against eating disorders are only the most obvious examples.

You do not see it as atheism's role? of course you don't--atheism is an idea, not an institution. But you're overlooking the fact that religions start the same way, with ideals and faith and hope, and end up doing evil through the institutions that their ideas produce.

Community leadership is a job for a person--not a theory in my mind, or yours--and that person's take on 'atheism' will effect the course of the community. But his or her atheism may be a very different thing from mine, or yours.
Atheism has no role in the community, right here and now. Most people reject it and stay faithful to their religion. But, if religion goes away, "atheism's roll" will be whatever happens from that point on.

What I'm saying is that Atheism as an idea, as you say, has no role in our present, but our possibly agnostic future, by making us all faithless will, by definition, make every decision the role of Atheists.

You essentially want to use Atheism as a social force.I think that you would be better off using a confederation of scientists, artists and poets who all happen to be atheists than trying to use a confederation of atheists that happen to be other things.

Atheism is NOT an institution, and it is not a driving force. It is the search for a better answer to every explanation that religion touted around for centuries.

i think you are venerating the lack of a belief into a belief structure, and that scares me. As an anti-theist, I am opposed to doing anything that mirrors the trappings of religion. I will be content with conventions of free thinkers held all across the world, and knowing that science will find us the provable, testable answers.

I am afraid that if your idea takes off, in two thousand years we will see a resurgence of sky-daddy religions as a backlash to the horrors of atheism. Kind of a role reversal, if you will and I think that we as a society can be better than that.

Without atheist houses of (non)worship.
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16-09-2010, 06:19 PM
 
RE: The JW's come a-calling
I just got my Sunday mornings back, and there's no way I'm giving them up again. LOL ;P
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