I have been very interested in the religion bashing thread. I was born Catholic and raised Mormon starting at age nine. I even served a two year mission for my church in the late eighties. That was one of the best and worst experiences of my life.
To help those of you who want more understanding on the religious/human experience I include these thoughts. Some of what I include is from a past post where Greg Burch commented on his memories of growing up Catholic. I think considering the present discussion it would be good to have it here again.
Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
"Religion" is a package of many things, most of them good. It is good to have organizations that promote moral values, community, tradition; offer personal and family conseling; educate children; promote voluntray charity; and do the other things religions do. It is unfortunate that such organizations as are now popular in the West also promote irrational faith. But that's just part of the package: let us villify that as it deserves, and strive to excise that sickness from the otherwise valuable whole that is religion. Even "faith" itself is a package deal: it combines things that we might call belief and commitment and trust. Some of those things are valuable as well in the right context and applied rationally.
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I totally agree that religion is a "package" of many things which are very attractive to people looking for good and loyal friends, acceptance, a mate, wholesome recreation, family bonding activities and the things that Lee mentioned.
And I agree that his take on "faith" it very insightful in that faith includes belief, commitment and trust. Sometimes religious belief can give a person the confidence to move forward and achieve goals in their life that ordinarily they would not have done.
Lee Daniel Crocker continues:
I personally think it is quite rational and productive to make commitments to beliefs or courses of action without complete evidence--otherwise nothing would ever get done. Of course when new evidence arrives, a rational person embraces it and discards old misconceptions that he might previously have relied upon, but that doesn't mean it was necessarily irrational to have relied upon them earlier. Let us be sure that when we bash religion, we are in fact bashing specifically the irrational stubbornness to accept evidence contrary to dogma and not other associated things that may or may not be valuable.- --
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I have seen on this list much bald-faced prejudice against religion and faith in all forms. I realize many of you are venting being that you are frustrated by the views of others. I see the possibility of either side being right in this debate and so I keep my eyes open. And I enjoy the fellowship of my church.
John K Clark wrote:
By contrast I think faith is a grave character flaw. The only apostle I like was Thomas because he doubted.
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I have had similar thoughts! Even though if Christ really did the miracles desccribed in the New Testament I could see how Thomas doubting would be seen as weakness. I felt a bond with Thomas also because of his display of humanity.
Zeb Haradon wrote:
I've had a close friend who was Muslim, many friends who were Wiccan, and a few friends who were Mormon. I'd say Islam is much, much worse then Christianity, primarily because most of its adherents actually believe it and apply it to their lives and their society. Of Mormons, there seems to be two types: those who have left the church and are broken by guilt for wanting to enjoy life, and those broken by the church who no longer want to enjoy life.
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I have to say I think an active Mormon can still be in the church and enjoy life! :) There are those who have experience doubt despite having at least some faith and having a desire to take part in the church. I would be one of these people. I love the church and find joy in it and yet have questions as I think many actually do. I believe in God and divinely influenced scripture but do not have a perfect knowledge to be sure. I am drawn to cryonics I suppose because I do not have perfect faith or knowledge.
I find myself attracted to extropianism due to the positive views regarding technology and the future. I was raised on "Star Trek", science-fiction novels and "Cosmos" which laid a foundation I suppose to be drawn to this movement. I disagree with the rejection of the supernatural but I have at least come to better understand another view of existance.
In terms of wanting to enjoy life, people run into problems when they desire sexual "freedom" meaning premarital sex or sex outside of marriage. A number of youth leave over this. And also doctrinal and historical controversy causes some to leave. So there are certainly people who fit into those two categories you list for a variety of reasons.
I realize there are many nonbelievers on this list but I am just sharing my beliefs with you. Do I know without any doubt that this is true; no I do not. Mormons believe that the spirit of God lets people know the truth of these things for themselves through the mind and the heart but this takes someone being willing to do their own experiment by faith, study and application. By this I have gained what I consider my belief in God and the afterlife.
And yet because I do not have a perfect knowledge of God I cling to this life that I know. I am angry at the unfairness of mortality in terms of the inequality regarding intelligence, beauty, health and wealth among the population. I want to see things straightened out here in this life and not just wait for the next. I feel the human lifespan is just too short and that cryonics may give me the extra time I want. Even as a nanobot filled immortal I will not go on forever; death will eventually claim me and uploaded copies of me as replacements holds no appeal to me.
So perhaps I hedge my bets. It makes me feel guilty to do so but I want my chance in life! I suffer from clinical depression (I take meds but no breakthrough yet), a.d.d. and worst of all learning disabilities that have stopped me so far from doing well in math and worst of all driving a car which is a huge frustration for me and cost me dearly professionally and with women. My father left my mother and I when I was a baby and I grew up without him. I still bear emotional scars from that despite being reunited over the phone with him. The damage is done and no apology has come. He was extremely handsome but I did not inherit that key trait that can make life so much more pleasant.
I attend a local LDS singles adult ward and find it interesting that despite all the talk of living by Christ-like principles of love and kindness the same ruthless mating game rituals goes on there as anywhere else. Good-looks and money count just as much though being a faithful mormon guy is part of the bargain too. I find the women friendlier in clubs and school dances then I do at the church dances.
A bishop(pastor) once explained it to me that the women are looking for mates so they are extremely particular. I recently went through an online lds personals site and was surprised by all the women who were very attractive, in their thirties and never married even though certainly society is changing in that people wait longer to marry which is generally good. I just wondered how many of these women were 'untouched' sexually since chastity is so emphasized in my church (my male sexual strategies are showing themselves!).
It saddens me somewhat to think alot of people abstain from sex in their prime years(I am one who did) when they could have enjoyed their bodies and a partner so many times by making love over those years. But they do this to live with their conscience and belief system. I am not recommending promiscuity though since that can have it's own problems and heartaches. I suppose the answer for me would have been marrying in my mid-twenties to have a partner had I been ready for one at that stage.
So many more have had it worse then me I realize but then so many more have had it much better. I find myself sometimes criticized by people who are so blessed in comparison to me and have no right to talk. I want a brain free of the flaws mine has and a handsome body on par with my fathers. I want to be able to without agony learn math and to especially be able to drive a car. I realize I must simply do the best with the hand of cards life dealt me but I tend to dwell on the negative and give up in frustration and embarrassment.
This post by Greg Burch commenting on what Robert Bradbury wrote really hit me hard as I explain below in detail.
>Subject: Re: understanding neuroscience
>In a message dated 99-09-01 14:51:58 EDT, firstname.lastname@example.org >.>(Robert J.Bradbury) wrote:
>Its fascinating to me to observe what happens in my mind when > I enter a church. All kinds of old feelings, beliefs, memories > come bubbling up from the basement of my mind. I normally > rarely think about these things, but I have no doubt that > many of my early beliefs (Catholic) are still part of my > programming. As the years go by, probably because I don't > think about them much, the memories do seem to fade.
The same sort of thing will happen to me from my own Catholic upbringing, especially if I encounter the full blown "Magic Show" (as I used to call the Mass when I was an altar boy); it's almost like some kind of weird drug rush.
(I attend the mormon church and though despite some doubt I do believe. I
found myself hit with a wave of powerful emotions as a young and attractive woman teaching a lesson on the eternal nature of the family gave her personal testimony that those things were true and very important to her. I actually thought to myself how she was the woman I should go after and marry despite the fact she is only nineteen. Later I thought how despite my feelings and possible courtship she would probably wind up not with me even after much gentle effort. But stirring courtships are the stuff of legend and I have been told these by various places affecting my life. I rushed out afterwards telling her how touched I was by her remarks. Partly to impress her yes but also because I was.)
Interestingly, the memories don't fade for many people, but just go into a dormant state. I think a big part of the resurgence in religious fervor in America now can be attributed to the reactivation of religious memes implanted in childhood among the Boomers by life situations they're just now encountering: Parenting and middle age career and physiological stress. A whole panoply of programming was implanted in them, just waiting to be activated by these predictable events in the stages of a typical human life
(As I get older I feel a stronger and stronger tug to fully go back to my
mormon roots. I have some problems with various matters of history and doctrine and yet overall I love the people(my tribe) and the binding social concept of eternal families. I can understand about the reactivation of religious memes! We had a lesson in one class on to be honest not just living a balanced life but "not shaking the boat" and the indirect message bothered me. I looked around wondering how many others felt the same way. And yet as the speaker had tears in his eyes expressing his love for us all and God which was throughout his lesson I felt choked up and very affected. And yet a part of me was detached and wondered how much of what I felt was truly the spirit of God and how much was simply human emotion. I know the speaker was sincere in his motives at least.)
(I need so badly the love and support of my group and yet I want to still
think critically. I feel torn inside sometimes so badly you could not imagine. Being around extropian memes have affected me somewhat but these thoughts arose before I even knew of this movement. I have few doubts about the existance of God or an afterlife but human institutions can be troublesome even when I believe they are inspired of God. I have heard some of my top church leaders; especially some of the younger ones try to address this issue and in some ways have done well in my view. My church in the sociological perspective has evolved over the years in adapting to the society around it.)
(I have studied in college the sociology of religion and can see things in
that context. And even then I see how at least for some like myself belonging to their religious group is so important. It is an extended family that can nurture and provide in so many ways. I do not feel a hypocrite for wanting to stay in my church for I do believe in it overall despite some misgivings.)
(I have not yet signed for cryonic suspension but probably will down the
road. Even with belief in an afterlife this is what I know right here and I did not get the life I wanted though many people could say the same. Clinical depression, a.d.d., and learning disabilities along with poverty and an absent father did not make for the life I wanted. My learning disabilities have so far even stopped me from getting a driver's license to my great shame. My local voc rehab is not even willing to help me to the extent I need to get a license.)
(I know there is much here and now I can do to improve things and yet I want
to see "over the horizon" and partake of the wonderful future we may have. But the human lifespan is just too short so cryonics will get me where I want to go. Some have said I am hedging my bets and I suppose I am. If the fundamentalist view of Bibical prophecy is correct though we are all in for it!! My suspended body would not last through all of that! The singularity will come in the form of an armageddon with the very technologies we discuss; but time will tell.)
(I suppose if I felt my "needs were met" I would not post here. I feel
somewhat ashamed admitting my doubt and torment. Much of it stems from not having a mate and so not being "happily locked into" my faith. Perhaps I should not have posted this but I felt the need. I want to look back a hundred years from now and have a feeling of contentment that I made it through my youthful trials in one form or another. I thank you all for bearing with me.)