who wants to go to fire lake?

I wrote this in response to this piece, entitled “If God is dead then what?” It should be noted that the writer is a dear friend of mine, and has been since junior high, so to say we go way back is putting it mildly. I have a great deal of respect for him, though it’s not terribly unusual for that to be a respectful sort of disagreement .

His answer to the question tends toward the position that god being dead would be a bad thing. And yes, I disagreed.

• • •

In the beginning there was the word. Now, I’m going to ask you to imagine a world in which there were no words in any language for the actions we know of as murder, manslaughter, rape, child abuse, robbery, slavery, torture, terrorism, human sacrifice, or hate crime. Imagine interacting with a society such as this, and trying to explain these concepts to them. If this society had a benevolent god, what would they think of ours? And if, in addition to all those terrible things they had no words for, they also lacked a term for god, what would they think of *us*? What if they didn’t even have a word for terrible? Now, look around you, listen, read. Is this the world a benevolent god would create? It is not. Should we be stressed out if he were to suddenly fail to exist?

So let’s assume that everyone in the whole world had a simultaneous, abrupt epiphany, and all the world’s religions were rendered a moot point. For atheists, the concept of “no god” is a familiar one, and the lack of belief in an afterlife causes us no particular sadness or hopelessness — so the effects of sudden worldwide atheism would very much depend on the manner in which the religious came to find themselves de-converted.

(more…)

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Quaker group stops certifying marriages until gay marriage legal

A Minnesota group of Quakers, or as they call themselves, the Society of Friends, has joined a handful of other groups nationwide in refusing to sign marriage certificates for opposite sex couples.

“We’re simply trying to be consistent with the will of God as we perceive it,” said Paul Landskroener, clerk of the Twin Cities Friends Meeting, in an interview with MPR’s All Things Considered on Monday.

The congregation will continue to hold both opposite-sex and same-sex weddings at its meeting house, but will no longer sign the legal marriage certificate for opposite-sex couples. Instead, couples will need to have the certificate signed by a justice of the peace.

“Everything else proceeds as it normally has, except that we will not sign the marriage certificate,” Landskroener said.

Unlike many churches, Quakers do not have ordained ministers. Couples are married by appearing before the congregation and speaking their vows to each other. Several witnesses then sign the marriage certificate to pronounce the couple legally married. [source]

The god of their understanding sounds like a lovely fellow, I wish more gods would adopt that sort of fair and loving view of things.

h/t Pam’s House Blend

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trust the wisdom of children

I raised my children with the choice of any faith available, and provided them with the means to explore the options. My daughter and youngest son are atheists, my middle son is a Christian (he is a gentle, kind young man who would never hate or exclude anyone from anything, and he likes science).

In fact, on any issue, I always found my absolute best response to my children was “I trust your judgment”, rather than to lay down strict rules — it made them think about the consequences of their actions from a position of ownership of those actions — and it was remarkably effective.

Australian student Dylan O’Beirne is the sort of young man whose judgment is imminently trustworthy:

CHILD’S PERSPECTIVE

Dylan O’Beirne is open to finding out whether there is a god.

But the 16-year-old hasn’t yet seen strong evidence.

“If there was evidence to support a god, then I would believe in it,” he says.

“I choose not to believe, but I’m not going to dogmatically reject it.”

Dylan is in year 10 at Kingswood College in Box Hill.

He was never baptised and says his parents were happy to allow him to decide whether or not he believed.

“Mum and Dad raised me to know it was my choice,” he says.

Religious education classes in year 5 first prompted Dylan to question the matter.

He asked to be excluded because he found the classes boring.

But a Muslim student, also excluded, had him thinking.

“I thought, if she believes something else, why aren’t we taught about that?”

In year 8, Dylan’s mother presented him with the best-selling book, The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins.

“Everything came out with such clarity. But I didn’t just take his word for it; I started investigating what sceptics and atheists believe.”

Dylan says a visit to his school by the Jewish Christian Muslim Association revealed many of his peers are quite religious, but most rarely discuss it. He enjoyed the visit and has no intention of pressing his views on anyone.

He see Christmas as time for a family celebration.

“It’s not around messages about Jesus Christ, but more a time to get together and for Australian society to get together. Most of my family are somewhat religious.”

Teach your children to think and make informed choices, and trust their judgment, unless of course they demonstrate an inability to make good decisions — but if you start with love and trust, chances are, the decisions will be good ones.

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is atheism fulfilling?

“Is atheism fulfilling,” asked the original poster, continuing, “Curious to hear explanations of it being fulfilling.” What follows is an interesting (and relatively uncontentious) discussion, still going on over in the Amazon.com forums. In the first few pages of this (so far) 247-response thread, it should be noted that all of the original author’s posts were marked “Customers don’t think this post adds to the discussion.” while the posts from happy, content, fulfilled atheists were almost unanimously voted helpful. It was like wandering into a world where rational thought prevailed and snarky questions from theists were tolerated and responded to, even though they had no particular intellectual merits. It was kinda wonderful, actually. My favorite comment was this one:

Consider religion/philosophy as a food source, food for the mind, if you will.

A religious person exists on a specialized diet, utilizing a primary food source almost exclusively. While an atheist need not follow a specific diet, and can forrage for a wider range of foods to eat. But there is a trade off, an atheist has to work at this, they have to search for answers, where as a religious person can accept the answers handed to them by their doctrine.

A religious person most often practices the religion that is practiced by their families or in their community, however each person is different, and a particular religion may not sufficiently meet your needs. But as long as you stick to it, you have limited options. Again, an atheist is not limited in this way, and can pick and choose from a variety of sources, adopting some while abandoning others.

I argue that it is the atheists access to a wider range of resources that promotes fulfillment. It is not that atheism offers fulfillment, but that it creates increased opportunities to find it. If you are a Christian, the struggle is for the world to make sense from a christian point of view. If you are an atheist, the struggle is to make sense of the world.

A wider range of possible answers increases the probability of finding the ones that offer a person fulfillment. It is often noted that the only thing all atheists have in common is that we don’t believe in god. This is becuase we have each found personally fulfillment in different ways. It is this freedom that I think answers your question, “why.” –source

Feed your head.

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