Is faith allergic to sunlight?

In a comment, Obidavekenobi said:

The percentage of your posts that deal with bashing the Christian religious world view is rather high. It sometimes disturbs me.

Is faith allergic to sunlight? If you cannot even question it with out breaking it, how strong is it?

My belief structure morphs over time – because I work it out. I pull it, twist it, and stretch it. It has not broken in a since I lost my faith in God. It was brittle and hard, and now it’s elastic and strong. It just changes when presented with a new idea, or a new way of looking at something.

I do not believe something because I read it or I am told it – I believe it because it makes logical and reasonable sense to me. I accept outside sources when I have several trusted authorities that corroborate each other. Or I try it. It’s that simple. Meditation is good for mental stability say the Buddhists. I do not believe them, so I try it. Guess what, they are right. Good old empirical evidence.

My belief is based on reasoning. True, it’s the limited reasoning that I am capable of, but we have to work with the tools that we are given. If some one wants to be a Christian, I applaud them for their faith. Christianity has some really good teachings. However, I believe that they should know what they believe and why. Circular logical and superstition is not knowing what and why – it’s taking the easy road out of the valley.

When it comes down to it, one side said says ‘it’s true because I believe it and I believe it because it says it’s True‘ and the other side is asking ‘why do you believe it, why is it true?‘. There is a huge disconnect in fundamental thinking between the two. One argument is grounded in reason, logic and evidence. The other is using superstition, tradition and blind faith. The problem is when the faith based folks also feel that they have the only truth available. They are not willing to allow others to believe differently then they do, or act differently then what they think is ‘correct’.

If you have faith, and you cannot even defend it with out dropping back on ‘its true because I believe it‘, should you be making moral choices for others? My concern is that a lot of people are trying to force their faith based moral choices on the rest of us. They feel that they have a manifest destiny to do this. Their faith gives them this manifest destiny. They might be a minority, but they are very vocal, and they are pushing legislation based on their black and white world-view.

For example, does it really hurt someone to allow the Marriage of two people who love each other? According to some, it causes grievous harm in certain circumstances. So much harm that there are constitutional amendments being proposed that stop this from happening in these cases. This is an example of civil penalties for not following the faith based belief system of a certain religion. They do this because feel that they have a monopoly on Truth, and anyone who disagrees with their version of Truth is a sinner or heretic.

In every part of life we accept that the world is not black and white, except religion. I have been told by preachers and priests that ‘if you’re not with us, you are against us‘. That is the kind of sick thinking that I try and debunk. And, yes, it’s sick. It’s a mimetic virus that is trying to make sure that it survives in a global survival of the fittest ideas war.

What the people carrying this disease fail to understand is this war will only be lost.

24 thoughts on “Is faith allergic to sunlight?”

  1. […] Dave posed this intresting question a few days ago, and I really wanted to highlight it and my response to it. Let me ask you something else. In a simple paragraph, can you answer why I should follow Buddhism? What benefits it will give me and what I will miss out on if I don’t? […]

  2. I don’t want to sound to flippant, but I think the entire point to this is that he doesn’t really care what path you follow, much less the need to try and boil down his choice into one concise paragraph. Of course, I could be wrong, and often are. ;)

  3. Let me ask you something else. In a simple paragraph, can you answer why I should follow Buddhism? What benefits it will give me and what I will miss out on if I don’t?

  4. That is not at all similar to what I said. Your truth is not close to the same concept as a universal truth.

    Of course you deny that the latter exists, I choose to believe that it does, and to act accordingly.

  5. <blockquote>Would you have us live in a country where one person could be forced to believe as others?</blockquote>

    Of course not. Unlike you though, I believe it is a universal truth that sentient beings should be free to act according to their own consciousness.

  6. Also –

    I do not feel that I am best served by relying upon another for my enlightment. My frame of refrence tells me that I am responsible for my own enlightment/salvation. My truth is that all people should be free to make up their own mind. Forceing some one to ape a belief does not make them into a believer. It makes them into an Ape leading a donkey in a lion skin around.

  7. The only Christians that I really have issue with are the ones that are trying to force their morals and beliefs on us. The ones that are lobbying congress to change laws into their image.

    However, I do feel that it’s their right to attempt to do so. Just as it’s my right to speak out and challenge their assumptions. It’s what is called democracy. :)

    <blockquote>what is wrong with you being forced to accept Christianity</blockquote>

    Would you have us live in a country where one person could be forced to believe as others?

  8. Okay, well since their is no truth, and all that matters is realizing that nothing matters, what is wrong with you being forced to accept Christianity and follow Christian practices? Your truth seems flexible enough for that, and their truth seems to (according to you anyway) demand that, so wouldn’t that make everyone happy?

  9. Look at it this way:

    In Relativistic Physics, everything is determined by the observer’s frame of reference. If you have observer X, traveling .75c in direction Y and he tosses a baseball at .99c in direction Y – he sees the baseball travelling away at .99c. It is his ‘truth’ that the ball is traveling at .99c in relation to him. Since his frame of reference is traveling at .75c, it would logically be traveling at 1.64c from an ‘at rest’ observer – but in fact, the at rest observer sees the ball traveling at .99c and the tosser traveling at .75c.
    <blockquote>Hilary Putnam, building on a suggestion of W.V.O. Quine, argued that in general that the facts of propositional logic have a similar epistemological status as facts about the physical universe, for example as the laws of mechanics or of general relativity, and in particular that what physicists have learned about quantum mechanics provides a compelling case for abandoning certain familiar principles of classical logic: if we want to be realists about the physical phenomena described by quantum theory, then we should abandon the principle of distributivity, substituting for classical logic the quantum logic proposed by Garrett Birkhoff and John von Neumann.</blockquote>
    –<a rel="nofollow" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logic#Is_logic_empirical.3F">Wikipedia</a&gt;

    Logically, what a person accepts as true will be dependent on many things – their culture, parents, mood, education, lack of sleep, frame of reference etc. For example, a Gallic Celt probably had some very different ideas about what is true and not true then a modern person. For him, his truth was probably more true then our truth. However, we would look at his beliefs and call them superstitious nonsense. Who is right? It really depends on the frame of reference.
    <blockquote>In Buddhism, the realization of emptiness equates to the experience of nibbana (nirvana) and therefore the cessation of suffering or dukkha. Crucial to the sunyata doctrine is the notion that the world is made up of a stream of ever changing elements, dharmas. Rather than seeing these dharmas, we create concepts which approximate what is really there. The world as we see it, therefore, is ultimately illusory – a fabrication of mind. Mahayana philosophy sees truth as of being two kinds, conventional and ultimate. Conventional truth is the world as we normally see it; ultimate truth is the world as it really is. The two don’t exactly adhere – the world of conventional truth is a world of appearances; the world of ultimate truth is sunyata.</blockquote>
    –<a rel="nofollow" href="http://buddhism.about.com/library/weekly/aa120602a.htm">About.com</a&gt;
    <blockquote>Sunyata: Emptiness. The idea in Mahayana Buddhism that nothing has a self, soul or essence, that the world is made up of a stream of ever changing mental and physical phenomena.</blockquote>
    I would point out the following ‘<em>the realization of emptiness <strong>equates</strong> to the experience of nibbana (nirvana).</em>’ There are other Buddhists that feel as I do. The trappings of religion are useful for some, but are not mandatory for understanding Buddhism. I hate to put it this way, but superstitious and/or religious beliefs are useful as a crutch to some. It’s like Wicca – all of the trappings that they use to do Magick are just crutches. You can still accomplish the end goal with out the circle, various toys and smelly stuff. Sometimes your conscious mind just needs something to keep it distracted while you can really get the stuff done.

    I’m not saying that I am better then those that need that crutch – I still need crutches. I simply use different ones.

  10. With statements like "The goal of a Buddhist is as varied as Buddhists are. Many are attempting to reach enlightenment. There is a lot of discussion about what enlightenment is." One has to wonder if the term Buddhist actually has any meaning? If everyone who is trying imperfectly to be happy is a Buddhist, then I suppose everyone could be considered a Buddhist.

    And, to paraphrase the Incredibles, if everyone is a Buddhist then no one is. The term becomes synonymous with ‘person.’

    I don’t know how one can square that Batcherlor quote with the concepts of Nirvana and reincarnation that seem to be to be integral to the Buddha’s message.

    <blockquote>There is no right and no wrong. Truth is not absolute, and is dependent on many things. In effect, you are not right. And you are right. It just depends on your point of view.</blockquote>That is of course an absolute statement. It is also, undermines the claim that Buddhism is ‘logical.’

    <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logic&quot; rel="nofollow">the task of the logician is the same: to advance an account of valid and fallacious</a>. If truth must always be subjective, than valid and fallacious have no meaning and logic is futile. Any logical process that arrives at such a conclusion must either be incorrect, or inapplicable.

  11. <blockquote>My understanding of most Buddhist traditions though is that the central goal is nirvana, ending the cycle of life and rebirth and attaining blissful non-existence.

    You claim that you can take this out of Buddhism and still be ‘authentically Buddhist’ and that Buddhism is a good way to live in the here and now regardless of whether reincarnation is true or not. I don’t doubt the second half of that, but I am skeptical of the first half.</blockquote>

    The goal of a Buddhist is as varied as Buddhists are. Many are attempting to reach enlightenment. There is a lot of discussion about what enlightenment <b>is</b>.

    <blockquote>It is generally assumed that being a religious person entails believing certain things about the nature of oneself and reality in general that are beyond the reach of reason and empirical verification. What happened before birth, what will happen after death, the nature of the soul and its relation to the body: these are first and foremost religious questions. And the Buddha was not interested in them. </blockquote>
    –<a href="http://westernchanfellowship.org/agnostic-buddhist.html&quot; rel="nofollow">Stephen Batchelor</a>

    If I had to buttonhole myself, I would say that I am a borderline Zen/Agnostic Buddhist. However, being that we are instructed to think for ourselves, make up our own minds and not just believe, I have the good fortune to be able to take the parts that I personally agree with right now and leave the rest behind.

    <blockquote>It is also clear to me that Buddha does as for faith. His requirements for faith seem quite similar to me than Christs requirements as I understand them. Not blind faith, but trust that is built upon as you trust some, find it confirmed and trust some more. It is failure to have that initial trust, of unwillingness because of fear or pride to continue to believe what you know to be true that is condemned, not ignorance. I don’t think Buhhdism is so different in that.</blockquote>

    The Buddha does not require anything from us. He stands at the start of a path, and waves you over. He tells you that this path is hard work, and hands you a map. You are free to take the first step. If you find that the first step worked for you, then you are free to travel on, or turn back. There is no book that claims to have universal Truth. There is no instruction to do anything to those that do not agree, other then to have the best life you can, and love them unconditionally.

    <blockquote>In all fairness, my own religious/spiritual beliefs are a construct of myself, and similar as well. The difference is that I seem less sure than either of you that I am ‘right.'</blockquote>

    There is no right and no wrong. Truth is not absolute, and is dependent on many things. In effect, you are not right. And you are right. It just depends on your point of view.

    <blockquote>The Dalai Lama uses a quaint expression in colloquial Tibetan: dzugu dzug-sa mindoo, which means literally: "there is no finger-pointing-place." Or as we would say: "there’s nothing you can put your finger on." Again this does not imply that the thing in question does not exist at all. It simply exposes the fallacy of the deeply-felt, almost instinctive assumption that our self, the mind or anything else must be secured in a permanent, transcendental basis. Yet the uniqueness of a person’s mind or identity, the uniqueness of a flower that’s growing in the garden outside, does not require any kind of transcendent basis that’s peculiar to that thing. Emptiness indicates how everything that comes about does so through an unrepeatable matrix of contingencies, conditions, causes, as well as conceptual, linguistic and cultural frameworks. Everything arises out of an extraordinarily complex combination of transient events that culminate, in this particular instance, in my saying these words to you.</blockquote>

  12. Tsycho, I don’t like to tell people their ‘faith’ is un authentic, and I hope you don’t take this the wrong way. I will equally acknowledge that I could be wrong. My understanding of most Buddhist traditions though is that the central goal is nirvana, ending the cycle of life and rebirth and attaining blissful non-existence.

    You claim that you can take this out of Buddhism and still be ‘authentically Buddhist’ and that Buddhism is a good way to live in the here and now regardless of whether reincarnation is true or not. I don’t doubt the second half of that, but I am skeptical of the first half. There are people who believe in a similar fashion that you can take the resurection out of Christianity and still be Christian and it is a guide to a good way to live and can be demonstrated as such in the here and now. Once again, the second half of such statements seems true, but the first half is undoubtably false in my opinion. I have more knowledge of Christianity, is I can better evaluate that, but with what I know of Buddhism, it seems to me that withour reincarnation and nirvana, the rest is but a shell of the religion.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean it is worse than the original, it may in fact be better, but it clearly seems to me to be different, substantialy so. As to whether it is ‘authentic’ that may not matter much.

    However, it is undeniable that the story of Siddartha contains a ton of magic or miracles or what have you.

    It is also clear to me that Buddha does as for faith. His requirements for faith seem quite similar to me than Christs requirements as I understand them. Not blind faith, but trust that is built upon as you trust some, find it confirmed and trust some more. It is failure to have that initial trust, of unwillingness because of fear or pride to continue to believe what you know to be true that is condemned, not ignorance. I don’t think Buhhdism is so different in that.

    When you take out what you don’t like and keep what you do, for whatever reason, I find that to be inventing one’s own ‘religion’ which is why to me, the Buhhdism of Tsykoduk and the Atheism of Mystic look similar to me. In all fairness, my own religious/spiritual beliefs are a construct of myself, and similar as well. The difference is that I seem less sure than either of you that I am ‘right.’

    It is obvious to me that some people who profess to be Christians do indeed distort the message of Christ dramatically. Some, perhaps even many, are guilty in the ways that you describe. My observations are that for the most part they suffer from too little faith rather than too much. It is lack of faith that causes them to enforce their professed beliefs upon others.

    I certainly don’t claim that the concept of heaven or hell are less odd than reincarnation. Indeed, it is the opposite claim, that they are similar is what I made.

    As a final thought on that, I always liked C.S. Lewis’s criteria for those that go to ‘hell’ in The Last Battle. He said, and I paraphrase those who Aslan (Christ) did not please went into the shadow. Note that that is very different those who did not please Aslan. As for Heaven being boring, I see no reason to think that would be the case.

  13. <blockquote>You claim that you can take all of that out, and the notion of reincarnation as still be following Buhdism, perhaps so. I am skeptical that supernatural Buhdism and non Supernatural Buhdism are any more similar conceptually than Supernatural and non-Supernatural Christianity. The forms may be similar, but the fundamental principles are decidedly different.</blockquote>

    I don’t say that – Buddha says that.

    <blockquote>On one occasion the citizens of Kesaputta, known as the Kalamas. approached the Buddha and said that many ascetics and brahmins who came to preach to them used to exalt their own doctrines and denounce those of others, and that they were at a loss to understand which of those worthies were right.

    ‘Yes, O Kalamas, it is right for you to doubt, it is right for you to waver. In a doubtful matter, wavering has arisen,” remarked the Buddha…

    – Anguttara Nikaya I gradual sayings, Kalama Sutta</blockquote>

    It’s pretty simple. Buddha wants us to know – not just believe. We are supposed to try, probe, and question. We are not to take anything on simple faith. He has set out a pathway of incremental steps before us, and he knows that faith alone will not take us to the finish line. He and we know that if we take action number 1, we will get result number 1 because many people before us have tried it, and, most importantly, because we have tried it. Not because we believe that it will. We have the evidence before us.

    <blockquote>history has shown us that those who believe they can throw everything old out and build a brave new world based upon logic create greater horrors than anything they intended to replace. That is the sort of hubris I see demonstrated by Tsycho and Mystic.</blockquote>

    First off, Buddhism is <b>older</b> then Christianity. Secondly, I have never said that we need to get rid of Christianity, or any other belief system. Rather, I have said:

    <blockquote>If people want to believe in Christianity, I have no problem with that – however I do have a problem when they tell me that the Bible is The Truth.</blockquote>

    To bring this back around, recall that the original post was about the lack of absolute truth. This lack of absolute truth leads us to realizing that we should not – cannot – take actions such as killing, imprisoning, or any other harsh treatment of others <b>simply based on their accepting a different truth</b> then us.

    However…

    We have a belief that says things like "John 10:8 All others who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them." and "Luke 19:27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me." and folks wonder why I am a little hesitant about thinking that the Bible is the one true truth out there. Love everyone, but kill those that do not agree with me? Not the loving happiness that we are lead to believe.

    <blockquote>Buhdism without belief in reincartion seems to me to merely be pop-psychology with eastern terminology.</blockquote>

    However, it’s pop-psychology with 2500 years of practice and tweaking to get it right.

    <blockquote>This is not to say it isn’t a good way to live, it probably is, but the central substance of Buhdism seems to be missing.</blockquote>

    Not true. The central substance of Buddhism is learning to live correctly. Reincarnation is a very small part of Buddhism. Karma is a very large part of Buddhism, however it simply does not need Reincarnation to exist. If you do bad things, bad things tend to happen to you. Kinda simple and universal. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    I could also point out that Reincarnation is no more odd then the idea of our souls traveling to some far off place and being tortured for all time because we did not agree with someone, or going to some paradise and enjoying boredom for all time. Not even to mention that little place called Purgatory, which the Catholic Church just did away with. Seems they were mistaken about it existing.

  14. To ensure folks realize that Tsykoduk and I do not necessarily see things the same way either, I am not a Buddhist, nor plan on becoming one anytime soon.

    I view all religious teachings as a great place to study and find profound knowledge about both myself, and the world around me. That is where my interest ends. Even though I do not buy into the whole hocus pocus of most religions, I do agree that there is much that can be learned from the intellectual study of the various tomes of religious writings.

    <blockquote>In the realm of human relationships, it doesn’t strike me as illogical to put trust in ideas made up a long time ago that have stood the test of time. Churches and religions are they way they are because they have worked in the past. People are not so different now then were then, and throwing that all away because you cannot understand necessarily why it works (it is illogical) doesn’t strike me as wisdom but as foolishness.</blockquote>

    I fully understand why churches and religions work.

    Sometimes I feel that I understand the lure more then most.
    Churches and religions have worked in the past because people needed hope and protection. Let’s not even get into the fact that often you would be imprisoned or killed if you did not follow the local religion of the area. The comfort they provide now is the same as it was years ago. People enjoy feeling safe and singing about hope and joy and the warm tingly feeling that there is more to life then…well…life.

    Foolishness, in this case, is in the eye of the beholder. Is it more foolish to see the truth of a situation, or to remain blissfully ignorant singing songs with blinders on? I’m certain on this viewpoint we will forever agree to disagree. ;)

    <blockquote>I don’t say we shouldn’t change and continue to evolve or societies and traditions, but history has shown us that those who believe they can throw everything old out and build a brave new world based upon logic create greater horrors than anything they intended to replace. That is the sort of hubris I see demonstrated by Tsycho and Mystic. </blockquote>

    Who’s advocating throwing everything old out? I would rather have the blissful masses continue to go to church. Many folks have shown up there because they cannot deal with the harshness of reality. I certainly don’t want to pull the comforting rug out from under them and let them wander aimlessly in the streets. That is when we would truly see chaos reign!

    Enlightenment is not forced on others, they must find their own way to reality. Sort of reminds me of the Matrix movie. Some people would rather not know that there is no such thing as God. They would be too scared to face such a world based in reality.

  15. <blockquote>Have you ever spoke to someone who has quit smoking and now seems to be a zealot over their new found freedom from the nasty habit? They are elated and wish to share their success and happiness with others. Normally at the expense of making everyone else around them nutty in the process, especially people who still smoke.

    I have undergone a similar transition when it comes to religion, and I think this is what is going on with Tsykoduk as well. It’s not that we enjoy ‘bashing” other religions, we just want people to learn exactly what being the follower of a religion means.</blockquote>This is exactly what I was talking about when I talked about this attacking behavior telling us more about the attacker, than the subject being attacked.

    I tend to strongly dislike zealots of all sorts, whether they are anti-smoking zealots or anti-christian zealots. Zealotism of the converted is often particularly virulent.

    My observations lead me to the belief that people with religious convictions tend to be happier than other people. Generally, the people with the strongest faith don’t wear it on their sleeves, don’t confront others about it, and don’t constantly preach, they simply live according to their beliefs. Do they question their faith? Yes, most probably, but they also trust without complete proof. They seem to me to be happier, and better, for it.

    The notion that Christianity is mystical and Buhdism a construct of pure logic strikes me as an extreme distortion. Certainly Siddartha’s story if as full of magic and supernatural activities as Christ. You claim that you can take all of that out, and the notion of reincarnation as still be following Buhdism, perhaps so. I am skeptical that supernatural Buhdism and non Supernatural Buhdism are any more similar conceptually than Supernatural and non-Supernatural Christianity. The forms may be similar, but the fundamental principles are decidedly different.

    Buhdism without belief in reincartion seems to me to merely be pop-psychology with eastern terminology. This is not to say it isn’t a good way to live, it probably is, but the central substance of Buhdism seems to be missing.

    As to whether it is logical or not, that could probably be debated. I will note though that although science and logic have done many great things in many diverse fields, their accomplishments in psychology and sociol engineering leave a lot to be desired. I would compare these fields to witch doctors, except that witch doctors seem to have been able to contruct stable societies with reletively descent amounts of personal satisfaction.

    In the realm of human relationships, it doesn’t strike me as illogical to put trust in ideas made up a long time ago that have stood the test of time. Churches and religions are they way they are because they have worked in the past. People are not so different now then were then, and throwing that all away because you cannot understand necessarily why it works (it is illogical) doesn’t strike me as wisdom but as foolishness.

    I don’t say we shouldn’t change and continue to evolve or societies and traditions, but history has shown us that those who believe they can throw everything old out and build a brave new world based upon logic create greater horrors than anything they intended to replace. That is the sort of hubris I see demonstrated by Tsycho and Mystic.

  16. <blockquote>You seem to demand ‘proof’ for everything, and anything less than that is ‘blind faith.’ – DaveJustus replying to Tsykoduk</blockquote>

    According to Dictionary.com, faith is,
    <blockquote>Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.</blockquote>

    An example of this type of faith is something like having faith that air will be around for a long time. You are confident that it will be around because you know truthfully that it is around now, and has been around in the past.

    You can have faith in a person to do something for you because in the past they have always come through for you when needed.

    Blind faith, on the other hand, is believing in something without any proof or track record. Following the writings of people from long ago does not warrant faith, it warrants blind faith. The exact religion is irrelevant. Most man-made religions require blind faith because they offer you intangible hope for the exchange of your obedience to their laws, rules, or teachings. It really is that simple.

    By researching many religions throughout the world we see similar stories that have been created by humans used to explain things like their natural surroundings, their existence on this planet, and why they should be in power and control over what you do.

    Have you ever spoke to someone who has quit smoking and now seems to be a zealot over their new found freedom from the nasty habit? They are elated and wish to share their success and happiness with others. Normally at the expense of making everyone else around them nutty in the process, especially people who still smoke.

    I have undergone a similar transition when it comes to religion, and I think this is what is going on with Tsykoduk as well. It’s not that we enjoy ‘bashing” other religions, we just want people to learn exactly what being the follower of a religion means.

    I feel that in a way following a religion you have not studied deep is slavery to an idea others made up a long time ago. I continuously find it amazing that people refuse to learn about their own religious system, and are literally blind to its teachings without even knowing what they are agreeing to. To me, these people are blissfully ignorant.

    Be Christian, Buddhist, Islamic, Wiccan, or whatever floats your boat, but actually study a learn what it is you’re giving your life over to. Many people attempt to discuss this topic based on how they have always lived or believed, not because they have any substantial proof to back up their religious choice.

    Good intellectual discussions on religion intrigue me. Poorly thought out religious mud-slinging does not. I’m not a religious person (oh really, never would have guessed). So unless you roll up your sleeves and bring out the big guns on why you believe how you do, there’s no need to discuss religion with me.

    My views are simple because after digging deep into a multitude of religions for the past 20 years or so, my belief is direct, and my resolution firm. I will not follow anyone, or any religious doctrine, without good cause. I have yet to find that cause, so my belief is in the natural world. I place my dedication to those things that I can influence, and try to act as a positive force in this world.

    At times this is sometimes interpreted as an attack on religion, because the religious folk get very offended if you point out the short comings of their belief instead of sitting down in their ‘thinking chair” and providing a well researched point of discussion on why I am incorrect in my observation.

    Our freedoms are not to be taken lightly, I will defend to the death a persons right to believe and practice that belief any way they wish short of harming others. You will never see me champion the cause of removing those rights.

    When a religious zealot even whispers the possibility of preventing someone else from exercising their own rights, or attempts to force their belief system on others, then I take offense, and so should all of you who want to retain these rights. I’m not just fighting for the freedom of Christians, but for Buddhists, Wiccans, and those who worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    Hmmm, perhaps I over-extended my two cents.

  17. <blockquote>Buhdism is logical and self-evident, Christianity is myth and superstition.</blockquote>
    Christianity supposes that a guy is born of a virgin, walked on water, and rose from the dead. He is coming back at the end of time to throw everyone that does not agree with him into a fiery pit, and rule for in a heaven for all time.

    Buddhism talks about a psychology to be more happy. It involves trying to do good deeds, not get to emotionally attached to things, and take all things in moderation.

    Some Buddhists believe in reincarnation, and other mystical stuff, however it is not necessary to follow their path to be a Buddhist. After all, the Buddha himself told us to question everything.

    Which is more grounded in reason?

    Note: THIS IS NOT AN ATTACK ON CHRISTAINITY. It’s just a simple retelling of the facts. Grounded in reason is not always the best thing. If people belive that Jesus walked on water and rose from the dead, that’s ok by me. I believe stranger things. However, you have to admit that Christianity is kind of ‘out there’.

  18. Your impression cannot be farther from the truth. I feel that anyone who has faith probably has questioned it at times. I feel that healthy faith is questioned faith, so when the preacher pulls out the kool-aid, you might just have second thoughts.

    <blockquote>I do not consider myself a Christian either, although Christianity fascinates me.

    <i>We are not here to be lead about like sheep. We are here to learn, and improve ourselves. Only through self-doubt, questioning and introspection will we achieve that goal.</i>

    Take that on faith do you? I doubt it can be ‘proven’.</blockquote>

    Honestly, no it’s not on faith. Look at the people around you who have a deep and abiding happiness. Not the ones that put on the front, I am sure that if you know any people like this they stand out. The ones that are as an island in the storm of life. Are they the people who try and better themselves, or are they the people who live status quo? More then likely, they are the questioners. They are the people who try and make themselves the best people possible. They don’t accept themselves for what they are, they try and better themselves. They do not do this by sitting on their laurels.

    I, of course, have no idea what the ultimate goal of life is, if there is even one. I do know, however, that we all strive to be happy. We all work at not suffering as much as possible. By inference, then, that seems to be the defacto goal of most humans. To find comfort.

    All religions teach a method of obtaining comfort. Of calming fears. I simply think that doubt and questioning should be encouraged, not repressed. If you accept something simply because a book tells you to, how strong is that faith? Would not faith that has been tested in the crucible of debate be stronger? Faith that has survived things such as Job’s trials?

    <blockquote><i>The Buddha advises seekers of truth not to accept anything merely on the authority of another but to exercise their own reasoning and judge for themselves whether a thing is right or wrong.</i>

    On one occasion the citizens of Kesaputta, known as the Kalamas. approached the Buddha and said that many ascetics and brahmins who came to preach to them used to exalt their own doctrines and denounce those of others, and that they were at a loss to understand which of those worthies were right.

    "Yes, O Kalamas, it is right for you to doubt, it is right for you to waver. In a doubtful matter, wavering has arisen," remarked the Buddha and gave them the following advice.

    "Come, O Kalamas, do not accept anything on mere hearsay (i.e. thinking that thus have I heard it from a long time). Do not accept anything by mere tradition (i.e., thinking that it has thus been handed down through many generations). Do not accept anything on account of rumours (i.e., by believing what others say without any investigation). Do not accept anything just because it accords with your scriptures. Do not accept anything by mere supposition. Do not accept anything by mere inference. Do not accept anything by merely considering the appearances. Do not accept anything merely because it agrees with your preconceived notions. Do not accept anything merely because it seems acceptable (i.e., should be accepted). Do not accept anything thinking that the ascetic is respected by us (and therefore thinking it is right to accept his word).

    – Anguttara Nikaya I gradual sayings, Kalama Sutta</blockquote>

  19. <blockquote>If you question your faith, and come out the other side stronger, and more faithful, it’s not blind faith.</blockquote>I get the impression that you feel that anyone that doesn’t follow your path has not properly questioned their faith. That seems extremely self centered to me. Buhdism is logical and self-evident, Christianity is myth and superstition. This is questioning or seeking to know, this is judging.

    I have looked into Buhdism, frankly I find it neither logical nor very compelling, some if the core beliefs of Buhdism are pretty repellant to me. I am glad that they work for you, but frankly I find it offensive for you to say it is simply logic to believe as you do.

    I do not consider myself a Christian either, although Christianity fascinates me. <blockquote>We are not here to be lead about like sheep. We are here to learn, and improve ourselves. Only through self-doubt, questioning and introspection will we achieve that goal.</blockquote>Take that on faith do you? I doubt it can be ‘proven’.

    As for different races being the same as different genders, I guess that would depend on if you think that gender is as arbitrary and signifigant as race. I tend to think that girls are different than boys in signifigant ways, while races are primarily artificial constructs. However, I would suppose that if race is the same sort of thing as gender, anyone who wasn’t bisexual is the same as a racist.

  20. I guess that I simply cannot understand faith with out any evidence at all. When I was a practicing Christian, I was blindly faithful. I had some internal constancy to what I believed (the Bible is literal telling of history, God has reasons for everything that happens). When I realised that the Bible was not a literal telling of history, that rocked my faith to the core.

    I went through a long period of searching for answers – I tried Wicca, Agnosticism, Atheism, Drugs, Celtic Reconstructionism, etc. Everywhere I found parts of what I was seeking, but it was still all predicated on at least one leap of faith. To quote a Friend, ‘anything that starts with <em>first we get a million dollars</em> is suspect’.

    When I read and understood the Koan ‘What do you do when you meet the Buddha on a road? You kill him’ – it was like a light bulb. A mini satori. Why leap, when you can keep your feet on the ground?

    I do not think that I mock. People might take questioning their faith as mocking, but it’s simple questioning. I am honestly interesting in the answers.

    As far as a distinction between blind faith and faith… it’s easy. The folks following Jim Jones had blind faith. If you question your faith, and come out the other side stronger, and more faithful, it’s not blind faith.

    We are not here to be lead about like sheep. We are here to learn, and improve ourselves. Only through self-doubt, questioning and introspection will we achieve that goal.

    As far as gay marriage, perhaps we should not allow difference races to marry? It’s basically the same thing.

  21. You rail against blind faith, but what is faith without a component of blindness? Faith is trust without proof. You seem to demand ‘proof’ for everything, and anything less than that is ‘blind faith.’ Given that, I cannot see the distinction you claim to make between faith and blind faith, unless perhaps in your world ‘faith’ does not inspire any action while ‘blind faith’ does.

    I certainly think debate about faith, religion and whatever is great. There is a difference between debate and mockery though. Debate is not saying ‘you are an idiot if you believe this.’

    Gay Marriage is not of course about just two adults doing what they want. That would be gay sex. Marriage is, by definition, an acknowledgement of society of a special status for a particular relationship. It clearly isn’t just about ‘two people.’ Isn’t demanding that gay marriage be recognized just as much ‘putting a gun to people’s head’ as demanding that it not be?

  22. Yes, you are misrepresenting the thrust of the post. I rail against blind faith. If you cannot even back up your belief, then how solid is that belief? Cannot your belief stand being brought out into the sunlight and examined, or is it ephemeral, and will evaporate under scrutiny?

    <blockquote>Why do you so frequently feel that you need to attack (and that is what it is) other people’s faith?</blockquote>

    To paraphrase an evangelical Christian preacher that was on a WaWa Walters special "It’s like seeing some one drink draino. You know it’s not good for them, and you are going to try and get them to stop".

    Unquestioning blind faith in anything or anyone is unhealthy. This is not a question of my belief that this is true, we have lots of evidence across the world that shows us beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this is true.

    Also – if God did make us in his image, who are we to deny our questioning nature? Is debate about political ideology OK, but debate about faith verboten?

    Making laws that forbid acts that are consenting, do not harm anyone, and between two adults is paramount to putting a gun to people’s head to enforce a moral code that you believe in. I do not believe that Gay Marriage is a good idea for me, I would not participate in it. However, I do not want to deny others the freedom to make their own choices in that regard.

    Is it right? Wrong? I have no idea. I <b>know</b> that it’s not right for me, however what gives me the right to force others to live by what I think? If there is a God, then is it not for him to judge them? If he gave us free will, is it really our place to force people to act in a fashion that we deem good?

    Where I draw the line is when some one gets hurt, or their rights are reduced. Basically, I can sum up my political beliefs in one simple statement. <i>Everyone should have the right to do what ever they want, as long as they do not effect anyone else’s right to do the same in any manner.</i>

    I fully understand that this is a Utopian vision, but we have to have goals, no? :)

  23. <blockquote>"if some one wants to be a Christian, I applaud them for their faith."</blockquote><blockquote>The other is using superstition, tradition and blind faith.</blockquote><blockquote>And, yes, it’s sick.</blockquote>Certainly these are bits taken out of context, but I don’t think I am miss representing the overall thrust of this post. It is hard to read such a thing, and place any trust on your assertion that your beliefs are based upon reason and logic, rather than an emotional ‘faith.’

    ObiDaveKenobi’s point is, I think a valid one. Why do you so frequently feel that you need to attack (and that is what it is) other people’s faith? I think that that says more about you, than it does about the belief system you are attacking.

    As for gay marriage, either it is should be allowed or it should not. Ends up being ‘black and white’ we can’t really half allow it. You have belief systems, which I highly doubt you could logically prove, that cause you to believe it is a good idea. I tend to agree with you, but I am not so hubristic as to believe that I am right for sure. Society is a complex system, and changing the rules of marriage will undoubtably have unpredictable results, some good, some bad. Trusting in a belief system that has evolved over thousands of years, rather than having faith that human logic will be able to create a different and better order does not necessarily mean someone is foolish.

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