I really love this website! - many thanks to everyone here for not suffering in silence and reminding me how un-alone I am as an ex-Xtian. Having eagerly digested lots of the juicy philosophical debate on exchristian.net, I feel compelled to contribute some thoughts that may be relevant for some to a couple of the more popular topics here on site.
Disclaimer: I have to admit that personally I feel quite strongly about some of these things, and my enthusiasm may come through in a slightly assertive writing style at times, but let me assure you I'm not trying to convert anyone (and if I do convert someone they've seriously missed the point!) These are just thoughts, intended to inspire thoughts, and any implications of value judgments are for the most part unintentional, but left in to keep things interesting and to preserve the original flow of said thoughts.
Just see what -you- think...
I II III
I. Having only just left the relative comforts of blind faith in one thing, it is all too easy to jump in feet first with blind faith in the next vaguely believable thing that comes along — think spiritual 'rebounding'.
II. Leaving the spiritual and intellectual confines of the church can feel like a massive 'awakening', but (following that analogy) after such a heavy night it can be so tempting to fall asleep at the bus stop and miss the journey you were previously dreaming of.
III. An escape from oppression/depression/hell/whatever into freedom/happiness/heaven/whatever doesn't end at debunking Xtianity (though it's as good a start as any!).
RELIGION vs. SCIENCE
a familiar story?
1. Religion vs. Science
2. Science wins (obviously!)
3. Science claims Religion's place
4. Science becomes Religion
5. repeat from 1.
Science is deep down just as much of a religion as all the others. In it's purest form it is the religion of CHANGE, and as such is wholly commendable as far as I'm concerned. However, in a less refined sense it exhibits many of the blindness and arrogance of the less credible religions:
When pitted against other's 'stupid beliefs', Science is often fought for just as fervently, and some of it's followers seem to really enjoy convincing themselves (and others) they have the monopoly on truth (or as they call it "fact"). But under the wrong conditions it will inevitably lead to just as much of a rigid, mechanistic, impersonal and pointless an existence as Xtianity.
Once you've got your head out of your ass it's pretty easy to satisfactorily debunk a lot of the Bibles rambling narrative - after all, it's only one book's worth of information; checking it out shouldn't take too long.
But compared with Xtianity, the doctrinal material of Science is so broad and often so esoteric that it would take a ridiculously long time to satisfactorily check absolutely everythingin person. Despite this, for many the assumption is that Science doesn't need checking, that it's assertions can just be accepted by the layman as gospel.
In all its logical glory, Science is simply a vast, mostly useful collection of suppositions upon suppositions upon theories about uncertainties that it's often easiest to treat as 'fact' but are basically a 'best fit' thing. Yes certain suppositions provide useful marker points or hand/foot holds for getting things done, and are often empirically more or less on the money, but that doesn't mean to say that they are the outright and absolute 'truth'.
We can lay Scientific theories over reality in our mind, but they are not reality itself:
"The map is not the territory" [Alfred Korzybski]
By this logic, perhaps the closest human beings can get to the REALITY that Science appears to be attempting to usurp would be through experiencing something you can feel through your own senses and/or interpret with your own mind.
If we as a species are ever going to get to the bottom of things, we need to avoid atomizing ourselves through our own stupidity. I reckon it's gonna to be up to each individual person — not a god, not religious leaders, not politicians, not scientists, not family values, not peer pressures — to make of reality what he or she will and to take responsibility for that highly individual choice regarding 'the truth'.
When leadership-types say, "This is how it is," we should all be rebuking their blinding assertions with, "Maybe. Let us find out for ourselves what we can and get back to you on that", instead of just nodding in compliance then defending that leader's B.S. as if it was our own.
Knowing the volumes of a pseudo-religious entity like Science will never be as satisfactory as the actual experience of reality — without first-hand experience, it is just THEORY, and if it was clearly presented as such there would probably be less of a problem with scientific religiosity. i.e.:
"Current studies so far, using the best equipment available at the time, appear to be showing, in the majority of cases, while under lab conditions, that this might be the way this works."
Of course, such wordplay quickly becomes absurd and unreadable, so a degree of shorthand inevitably becomes involved. Then things often get even more condensed. So, what we end up with is some "Statements of fact" which was derived from the reduced shorthand of a complex theory that took many years to research and check, and that realistically requires a whole bookshelf chock full of paperwork to properly explain and understand. All that's left to most of us is a single paragraph, phrase, or sound byte, not something the creator of the theory would have wanted.
It worries me to see how often scientific approximations so rapidly become "This is how it is!" in the minds of those distant to the source of a particular scientific theory. Eyes become closed to any conflicting information which should be taken into account, investigated, and maybe even used to advance a theory into something even closer to reality.
If the insidious mechanisms and metaphysical stupidities exemplified by Xtianity are ever going to become a thing of the past, we need to be careful not to let our guard down; As a catalyst for change and growth is great, but I get a very uneasy feeling about the way Science is used by leadership types to convince others to do as they want, and I worry I may be already seeing more people falling for it than for Xtianity.
Large groups of humans have always had a way of 'normalizing' themselves, subverting and consuming the 'pure' and diluting it with meaninglessness. It's probably a safety mechanism of sorts that aims to totally neutralize anything that might cause change in the group. The effect often seems to be just as strong for positive change as negative change, probably due to how difficult it can be to tell the two apart before it's too late.
But if we are able, we ourselves have an important choice to make — to either try and stay one step ahead of the consensus, or else be consumed, compartmentalized and sedated by a herd mentality. I'm not saying there's a right choice to be made there, but I know which one I'd choose.
-ATHEISM vs. DEISM-
Just a thought: blindly being convinced, without any doubt, and without incontrovertible evidence, that THERE IS NO GOD is just as fearfully stupid, socially/psychologically dangerous, and ultimately nonsensical as blindly being convinced without any doubt that THERE IS A GOD.
"God... a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man's power to conceive." [Ayn Rand]
By definition one cannot prove or disprove God exists. If we proved he/she/it existed it wouldn't be God. So lengthy debates on the subject are at best tantamount to theological/philosophical masturbation; at worst there can end up being a hell of a lot of self-deception going on.
"Try telling that to the Xtians,"
Yes, I know.
All I'm saying is that if you flat out deny the existence of God, you're asking for trouble from those with the diametrically opposite viewpoint, and you won't have a logical leg to stand on. Barring personal amusement or post-Xtianity catharsis, it's kinda futile.
In a nutshell:
Xtianity and its notions of God seem to be very obviously manipulative B.S. when contrasted with the relative sanity offered by Science. But still, denying the possibility of the existence of 'the infinite' and then whole heartedly championing a mechanistic Victorian religion in it's place is, by it's own rules, just 'bad science' (just as pretty much 99.9999% of Jeebus freaks are, by their own rules bad xtians').
If anything, these thoughts are a call for vigilance. In the 'modern' world where god is either dying or dead already, the doctrine of Science, wielded by the unscrupulous and manipulative, is gradually beginning to offer the same bogus carrot religion did to the many fearful and confused among us:
"Here is a world of clear cut, externally mediated concepts — rules you can live by so you don't have to take responsibility for your actions... Here, let us show you how to make the total chaos surrounding you seem fair and rational... That'll be $50 please..."
Tom, 21, UK
Hail Eris! D