Atheists - is there anything about faith that appeals to you, would you like to believe?

(411 Posts)

Hi, I've been reading a few threads and I've heard atheists say stuff in the past about belief in God. Stuff like they don't believe in God but they would like to or they can see why it would maybe give peace or would be nice etc. I am just curious how atheists feel a bout this and if they want to talk about it?

I am a Christian, I hope I am an open and tolerant person and I would not want to cause offence. I am just curious, as we come into Easter if anyone wants to chat about this.

If not, may I wish you a peaceful and happy Easter, even if all it means to you is some chocolate eggs.

FloatyBeatie Wed 27-Mar-13 11:00:01

I'm an atheist who admires faith. I think of Christianity as being deeply expressive of important truths and important uncertainties (often expressing them better than non-religious language), even if it also (as far as I am concerned) contains falsehoods. I sometimes show up to Quaker meetings, in a spirit of pro-religious atheism.

cestlesautres Wed 27-Mar-13 11:00:20

Well, I'd like to, but I'm damned if I can find a C of E church where people have a Christian attitude towards other people.

FloatyBeatie thank you for responding, how lovely, I like that 'in a spirit of pro-religious atheism.'

cestlesautres, thank you for posting. I was worried no one would reply! I'm just curious, is that all the people in the C of E church you've been to, or most or some? I was C of E for most of 30 years as a Christian and then for kind of geographical reasons we switched to a Free Church. I find the people equally lovely in both, but there were and are always people I don't agree with. Just curious is it is limited to the C of E. My expereince is that Christian groups like all groups of people contain good and bad.

BlissfullyIgnorant Wed 27-Mar-13 11:14:06

Well now, where do I begin...
I like the community feeling you get with a church: I know a bit about this as DS sings with a church choir and we've been to some of the events. You probably get the same with a synagogue but that's outside my general sphere of experience apart from one wedding and one bar mitzvah. I haven't sampled any others, not entirely sure I'd want to as I didn't much like the enforced segregation at the Jewish wedding. Even DH said its a shame we don't do faith/ religion as he quite enjoyed the community feel (he's Jewish/born again atheist). I like the routine of gathering and singing, although I think I might like it more if there was an atheist friends meeting group with attached choir nearby grin

I want to move away from Suburbia and to a semi-rural place with a church and 2 pubs. If the church is CofE I might even join the gang. I couldn't do RC - too much fear and guilt.

What I don't like is people who think they know better/are better because they have faith (such people will often deny this and claim to be free of bigotry). People like me are not 'sinful', we mostly know right from wrong, are ethical and philosophical, but we don't do good deeds to ensure our place in heaven because we don't believe in it. We do good deeds by applying thought and consideration and because its good to be kind in the here and now, rather than follow some artificial tale in an ancient book that religious people use as an instruction manual for life. By way of example, I wouldn't do as the bible says in Deuteronomy 21:18-21 because it is fundamentally wrong. (It tells you that if you have a rebellious son who back-chats, you should take him and have him stoned to death by the elders of the town. Tempting as it might be...)

slug Wed 27-Mar-13 11:17:44

I think it would just be so easy. I love the idea of not having to really apply myself to think through dilemmas or morality but to be able to rely on a set of pre-prepared instructions and guidelines.

I'm not saying that my personal brand of morality does not broadly line up with Christianity, which did, after all, borrow theirs from previous cultures, but I do veer away in some cases. Mostly, admittedly this is in the area of human and especially women's rights.

However, having said that I think I'm going to have to contradict myself and suggest it must be really difficult to try and reconcile modern thinking and religious dogma. I would hate, for example, to be a Christian woman with a deeply unwanted pregnancy. Or even a C of E woman with a vocation and a talent for leadership.

Blu Wed 27-Mar-13 11:23:59

I am an atheist and there are aspects of faith that I think are valuable human experience on a philosphical / psychological sort of way.

I might not be able to explain this very well. I think there is value in human beings being able to surrender themselves to something. Such as in a trust game where you fall and people catch you. An experience giving yourself over to another, with trust. It is very strengthening to understand that you can be safe that way, as well as having strong independence and self-sufficiency. In the secular world, this is where I see the value of love or deep friendship.

The other thing which I see faith offering is a sense of something which transcends the material understanding of things. Such as the seeling I get fom great art or music or poetry. Some people call this 'spirituality', perhaps. A very very prminent theologian once told me that he sees the arts and religion fulfilling something of a common function in that way, and I agree.

None of this leads me to feel I would like to believe, I just don't. But I think that some of the quallities and experiences that faith offers are of value for humans, through whatever medium.

I am talking strictly of faith, not the church or any particular religion.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 11:25:08

Slug I agree with you about an unwanted pregnancy, that must be hard to reconcile.

I went to a c of E church and led bible studies, and enjoyed it very much. I did not fancy leadership. I come from a feminist background and my Mum was horrified I went to a church without women leaders. But my argument is this: there have been many schisms within the Protestant church over the last x number of centuries and thusly there ARE churches out there with women priests/ministers/leaders. God gave us brains to use and gave us choices to make. So if I had had a burning desire to lead and be a female minister, I would have toddled on down the road and worshipped God in another church that did have women leaders.

When an issue doesn't really matter to you but in a list of pros and cons the church you are in has more pros than cons then you might as well stay in the one you are in even if there are no women leaders.

I was highly respected by men and women in that c of E church and given a lot more respect and understanding for my life choices than my mum the feminist ever gave me. When I was home with the kids my mum kept going on about how I ought to be looking for a job. I was able to be home with my kids so I was. My church was full of people who respected my desire to do this. Men and women. Women were in no way looked down upon and I never ever heard a chauvinist or misogynist comment from anyone in the leadership team.

FloatyBeatie Wed 27-Mar-13 11:31:38

I like your post, Blue. I too think of art/literature and religion as being very close. The difficulty is in conceptualising what they both offer. I think of it as something to do with providing an immediate, embodied, aesthetic experience of truths that are learned elsewhere -- truths that aren't specifically religious (they may for example be scientific or philosophical ones), but which cry out for the resources of distinctively religious practices or imagery.

cestlesautres Wed 27-Mar-13 11:40:36

OP, I think the splits and rifts within the C of E have led to some very weird people becoming clergy, and that the viciousness of the church politics filters down to the culture within each church. It is hard to find any kindness or compassion or generosity of spirit.

FloatyBeatie Wed 27-Mar-13 11:46:09

There is a blog post that I like here about the value of religion even to an atheist as a means of experiencing certain truths and doubts. It also looks at the question of whether it is possible to actually be religious without holding any beliefs in god or any other similarly religious entity.

HarrietSchulenberg Wed 27-Mar-13 11:47:11

I would like to be able to believe in something blindly, without question. To have the comfort of "knowing" that I will meet everyone I've lost and will lose again. I would like to think that someone else is controlling my actions and that everything that happens to me is for a reason, a good reason.
But I can't because for me it's not true.

AltogetherAndrews Wed 27-Mar-13 11:51:09

I am an atheist. I don't think that I would want to be religious, as the idea is completely alien to me, however, there are some aspects of it that I wish I could experience.

I think it would be amazing to have the comfort of believing in an afterlife when you lose a loved one. Being able to feel that you would see them again must make such a difference. But it isn't available to me.

I also think that for some people, but by no means all, religion allows them to have a very positive outlook in life, and allows them to see hugely positive messages in the most trivial of things. To me, it all sounds very naive, and often like rubbish, not that I would ever say that to them, but I suppose, it must be nice to live that positively. I think this is probably only true of a small number of religious people though. I do try to live a reasonably positive life, and I don't think religion is needed to do that, but it does seem to be a handy thing for when life grinds you down a bit.

I also find the ritual side of things appealing. It is nice to be able to mark occasions and the passing of time, to be able to devote time specifically to the memory of someone, or the changing of the seasons. I don't think that religion or faith is at all essential to this, but as atheisism is not organised, these things don't, well, get organised. I just join in with DH's stuff- he is pagan. We mark the seasons, and candles are lit for people, but I am not required to believe in anything.
As to the question of whether i would like to believe, I find it kind of odd. It's like asking if I would like to be someone else. I don't think that the person that I am is capable of religious faith. It just isn't there. It's like asking if I would like to believe in fairies or the Loch Ness monster. I don't mean to be offensive, but that is how it feels to me. I struggle to understand how people can have faith to be honest.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 11:51:54

Harriet if it makes it any better, probably not but, I recently lost someone and she was an atheist and I am pretty sure I will not meet her again in the next life. Because she didn't want God, she rejected Him forever. The comfort of being a Christian is there if other Christians die, but apart from that all you have is heartbreak and hope that maybe they did repent on their deathbed, something you can't possibly know, unless you were there at the time. Sorry major buzz kill.

Blu Wed 27-Mar-13 11:54:48

Floaty - it is because of the things that you talk of in your post of 11.00, "important truths and important uncertainties " , and the things that between us we are trying to articulate, that I never slag off faith per se. (though I am v critical of the role of religion in different spheres)

I think people need to think carefully about what faith is, and stop comparing it to science and saying it is worthless because the existence of God cannot be proven. To my mind, that is the whole point - the whole point of faith is to believe something with faith not evidence. The whole point of science is to test a theory and draw measurable and evidence based conclusions. The intended outcomes are wholly different.

We should not 'believe' in the Higgs Bosun particle, we should keep seeking the evidence for it or otherwise. Nor is it helpful to seek proof and evidence for god as the focus of faith. They are different things.

Haven't got time to answer now, but would like to so am marking place!smile

MsGee Wed 27-Mar-13 11:55:49

I am an aetheist and have often thought it must be nice to just believe.

I don't though obviously grin.

I guess the thing about faith is that its either there or not? It would be nice to be able to (convincingly) tell my DD that we are all still together after death. I can see the stories of heaven are much more appealing to her than my 'you're just dead and can't feel anything so don't need to worry' explanation. And I would desperately like to believe that myself.

I also think that it must be comforting in times of suffering to believe that there is a plan or a higher being watching out for you (although suspect this comes with its own issues when in pain). Or a community of people there to support you. I went through a difficult loss a few years ago and was struggling and my GP asked if I went to church! I sometimes wondered if faith would have helped me then, rather than having to just reconcile myself to the fact that we were unlucky.

On a greedier note, I would quite like some of the foody rituals that often go with religion.

mintymellons Wed 27-Mar-13 12:05:46

I'm an aetheist and can see the appeal of having a faith, but I simply cannot believe in anything so ephemeral.

To me, the concept of Gods and religious figures is just too fantastical and doesn't make sense.

I know quite a few people who have faith, and on the whole they are a kind and happy bunch, but I don't think that status is unique to them.

Oh my goodness so many replies!

I am afraid have got to go to a meeting now and do some work but I will pop back later and read all your comments.

Thank you.

aliasjoey Wed 27-Mar-13 12:08:26

I'm agnostic and desperate for religion. Not for the moral issues, as I think we have to work those out on our own. I do have confused morals, but this leads me to listen to others and sometimes even learn something new.

I like the idea of community, especially for lonely and elderly people,but I think there ought to be non-religious alternatives.

My main desire is for an afterlife - not in a wanting to live forever sense, but just the fear of not knowing what happens after you die. Can there really be nothing else? Also when I feel angry about atrocities or evil people who go unpunished, I don't exactly think they should go to hell, but I hope they will one day achieve enlightenment and understanding.

I have thought what I need is a week-long course of religious taster sessions (you know like those trial packs of mini perfumes?)

I am ripe to be sucked into some wacky cult.

slug Wed 27-Mar-13 12:16:13

Alas greencolourpark women may be leaders in your church but they are not allowed to be Bishops, or sit in the House of Lords as such, nor lead the whole church. The church seems to have the same idea as the banking system i.e. it's OK to have a few token ones around to make it look like they are going through the motions but they ain't going to give you the top job.

Waspie Wed 27-Mar-13 12:18:00

I’m an atheist and very happy and content with my belief that there is no God. However, like others who have posted, I would like to experience the feeling of having faith.

For me it is organised religion that I don’t like – the hypocrisy, exclusion and misogyny associated with some organised religions which pretend to preach “Christian” values but then exclude women, or prevent women making choices over their own lives and discriminate against various sectors of society based on some tenuous allegorical chapter from Leviticus (or wherever) whilst ignoring most of the other things that are apparently “forbidden”. This hypocrisy is abhorrent to me. I have no desire to be associated with an organised religion or any person who uses the bible to excuse his or her own prejudices.

But people with a faith – these people I enjoy talking to and spending time with and talking about their beliefs.

For example, when I was a young child I knew a missionary; she was our next door neighbour. She had spent decades in various parts of the world – India, Cambodia, Nigeria aiding refugees and trying to make their lives better. She did this because she believed it was her Christian duty and she embraced her God and celebrated him/her by helping others. I admired her very much and as a child I thought this was what people who believed in God did – they put others first.

I have no desire to believe in a heaven, or an afterlife. If I did I would be Buddhist smile

headinhands Wed 27-Mar-13 12:53:17

I'd love there to be an atheist 'church' in my area. A place where we can gather for learning and organise some charity type stuff for our community. I have looked at the nearest Humanist society but it's too far away to be local. Ideally it'd start with meeting in a pub and work from there.

Waspie Wed 27-Mar-13 13:14:43

When I was 15 I lost a very close friend in a car accident. At his funeral his mother told me that in the most awful, horrific, terrible time in her life she still had her faith and belief and so she knew that P had gone to a “better place”. I’m glad she had her faith. At that time, I would have liked to share it.

LaundryFairy Wed 27-Mar-13 13:19:37

I am an atheist who actually worked for the church for a few years, and saw that there was much good that it could do. I admired some of the communities, as well as much of the wonderful art and architecture associated with it.


My favourite quote about religion is still this one from John Stewart:

"Religion is a great comfort to people in a world torn apart"

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 13:25:54

I sometimes think I would like to be Jewish- but I think it's only because I saw Fiddler on the Roof at an impressionable age. I like the idea of being a Jewish matriarch and summoning my family to dinner every Friday.

But, that apart, no.

DieWilde13 Wed 27-Mar-13 13:26:52

I also see the appeal of having faith. It must be wonderfully comforting.

sydlexic Wed 27-Mar-13 13:32:15

I find it hard to believe that anyone has a true faith with no doubt what so ever.

I have no doubt God does not exist, I would be happy to be wrong and that death is not final.

I do have christian values and believe in honesty and integrity, I don't think you need faith to be a good person. I know of many that have faith and are definitely not good people.

badguider Wed 27-Mar-13 13:32:25

I am atheist and have absolutely no desire for faith or for religion but I do envy the fact that religion holds power over most of the ceremonies which mark life moments such as birth, marriage and death.
You CAN have 'naming ceremonies' and registry weddings and humanist funerals but all are more effort to think about and organise than the church versions which are often the 'default'.

I'd like a more 'tradiational' way to mark these events without the religion bit.

I also quite like some of the community and welcoming part of church but at the same time I hate the way some churches are judgemental and unwelcoming so I guess it's a double-edged sword.

I think church-halls can be very important in communities (for toddler groups, cubs and brownies, old people groups) and wish there were more non-religious venues for such events.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 14:06:22

slug, the thing is the concept of leadership is framed in worldly, ie non Christian terms. Did Jesus demand the top bishop job? Did he assert his rights? Or did he wash Peters feet? That's the lowliest servants job, nobody wanted that job but Jesus did it and he was all about service. So it's not very Christian to go about demanding the top jobs. For men or for women.

LizzyDay Wed 27-Mar-13 14:24:49

"So it's not very Christian to go about demanding the top jobs. For men or for women."

Well that's a concept that's ripe for exploitation. Maybe the churches should lead by example and not exploit it?

cestlesautres Wed 27-Mar-13 14:24:57

Seeker, rofl. grin

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 14:27:57

Lizzyday what do you mean? Exploitation?

Perhaps we should step back a bit and this discussion and first agree what leadership means. I have one understanding of the word but I think others have a different idea entirely so we could be debating apples and oranges here.

LizzyDay Wed 27-Mar-13 14:41:53

greencolourpack - I just meant that the concept of 'it's better to be humble and servile and you'll get your rewards in heaven ' can be and has been exploited by the rich and powerful throughout the ages in order to get other people to do things for them.

But actually if we get into that we'll derail the thread so maybe best kept for another occasion. smile

slug Wed 27-Mar-13 14:46:56

Ahh green, but did he say "women have a place at the top table"? I think not and men and the structures they create around religion have taken that to mean Jesus was male therefore priests/leaders etc can only be male.

Christianity has historically and to this very day been pretty hard on women. But then again, I can't think of an established religion that does treat women as something other than second class citizens.

InNeedOfBrandy Wed 27-Mar-13 14:54:29

I really really really want to believe in God, I would love to feel part of a family/community and believe everything for a reason and God loves me. I have tried so hard to have faith in Christianity and Paganism and each one I find unbelievable as the other.

I have tried a couple of churches but the whole (and I really don't mean any offence) happy clappy we love God brigade just made me cringe.

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 15:00:56

And the trouble is, women are expects to b grateful for this second class citizen status. "Women have a very social role in th life of the church"

Yep. Those flowers won't arrange themselves.......

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 15:05:16

Slug, your ideas about leadership are based on being powerful and lording it over others and there is the implication that to be the boss equals first class citizen and to be the servant is to be the second class citizen but that doesn't necessarily follow. Again I say Jesus washed Peters feet. why did he do that? Why didn't he demand power? Why did he ride in on a donkey looking totally unimpressive? Why? To teach us something about leadership. leadership equals service.

I think a lot of people think church leaders and their brains go instantly to "evil scumbag bastard wolves in sheeps clothing exploiting the poor vulnerable women who are too thick to know any better". But that's just the wolves. Why do you hear about the wolves in the news? Why do we hear about pedophile priests? It is because they are the exception, not the rule. The rule is the sheep in sheeps clothing. The rule is the leaders who know Jesus Christs example and they go into that job trembling at the responsibility, they care for their flock, they listen to everyone, yes even the women, they try to be good leaders. I have known many good leaders. I haven't known any evil bastard exploitative paedo church leaders, so I don't think leadership and instantly think exploitation.

Nettee Wed 27-Mar-13 15:09:03

Greencolorpack - your story about your atheist friend is so sad. This is why I cannot be a Christian. I am not an atheist but I think if I were I would like to believe in a loving God and an afterlife. However I would feel awful if I thought that lots of people I knew and loved and many more that I didn't would be spending eternity in Hell while I enjoyed myself.

Anyone who wants a community and some worship without the creeds - try out the Unitarians.

Also there are lots of universalist and liberal Christians out there if you look for them - some books to read - how to be a bad Christian and love wins (can't remember the authors) and rescuing the bible from the fundamentalists by John Shelby Spong. I am trying to figure out why people feel so drawn to the historical Jesus / living Christ. The liberals out there basically believe in God's unconditional love - why is Jesus a necessary part of this? This is a serious question, possibly for another thread. (the answer that I am not looking for is that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins)

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 15:12:52

I see your point of view Nettee but if you believe in God you have to believe that some people reject salvation. But thinking "I don't like this therefore it is not true" is not an option. It's like saying, I hate slavery in other countries therefore if I cover my eyes and say "Lalalala slavery doesn't exist" it suddenly pops out of existence.

slug Wed 27-Mar-13 15:15:46

I have to ask green. If a position of power is denied one group then is that group not second class?

This is what some of the more err.... 'extreme' end of the Christian spectrum thinks of your "salad bar" Christianity. <<disclaimer: there is no way I think anyone on Mumsnet, or possibly in the UK thinks like this>>

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 15:18:42

Not if the leadership listens to that group and reflects what they want in what they deliver.

What do you mean by my salad bar? I didn't follow the link, saw it was something about feminism and I'm not really interested. You grow up with your mums ideology rammed down your throat and you grow bored. Also I don't want to watch YouTube cos I've got the telly on.

slug Wed 27-Mar-13 15:21:47

So all those women who campaigned for female bishops didn't count then? Or all the female members of the Roman Catholic Church who are given absolutely no say in the church hierarchy also want their subservient status as well?

I guess we need to start attending the papal conclaves to make sure the next pope's female then. Oh, wait....

slug Wed 27-Mar-13 15:22:33

Salad bar Christianity is referenced in the link above. It refers to Christians who pick and choose what they want to believe and conveniently ignore the nastier parts of the bible.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 15:27:39

I what way "didn't count"? If they want to do that fair play to them. There are arguments either way. I don't think much of the arguments for women not being in leadership but like I explained before its not a "deal breaker" for me personally and I can go to another church if I don't like the C of Es take on things, as I believe I already explained above.

The Bible has been interpreted by the church over a long period of history. The Bible does not say you can't have women bishops. So I am not "ignoring nasty bits". You don't know me from a hole in the wall so you don't know how I interpret the Bible. If this gets hostile then I will just stop posting here. Life's too short.

backonlybriefly99 Wed 27-Mar-13 15:31:34

Italiangreyhound, I hope you have a good Easter in your own way, but I'm not a fan of religion at all.

I don't hate religious people as such. Important to get that across. My first experience with a church as a child was an elderly widow who offered to walk neighbour's children to Sunday school. I think they call it a walking bus now.

I knew her for many years and she was a kind and generous person. Her motive was clearly to share something she enjoyed. I can also see that people find comfort in religion and if that works for them then fine.

However, my objections to religion are two-fold.

I think inevitably any church hierarchy fills up with ambitious/controlling people - true in politics and business too - and the nicer people get relegated to putting flowers in the church. Also as an atheist in the UK I find organised religion affects me directly and infringes on my freedom to be myself. So organised religion is something I'd be pleased to see the end of.

For individual believers it's my opinion that practising faith (belief without reason) is unhealthy and potentially dangerous. Not just bombers - though they are one result of people acting because they have faith that this is what their god wants. There will be many more who simply believe that their creator wants them to be nice to people and that seems okay doesn't it. But I think it is better that people make up their own minds about right and wrong. Basing it on their own experience, knowledge and study. That's how we make progress.

MrsHoarder Wed 27-Mar-13 15:31:42

I want (sometimes desperately) to believe in an afterlife, a higher power and a great plan, but haven't been able find that kind of faith since about the age of 12.

But it is one of the reasons why I permitted DH to arrange a Baptism for DS. There is a lot of good and comfort that comes from the church and I want him to have a chance to be involved in that.

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 15:32:54

Are there any bits of the Christian church where women are on a completely equal footing with men?

slug Wed 27-Mar-13 15:40:02

Oh granted green. I'm not attacking you or your particular version of Christianity, apart from your tolerance of institutional sexism. I simply couldn't buy into a belief system that explicitly brands me as less than a man.

The you tube links are one of the funnier and more extreme manifestations of what happens when you take the bible absolutely literally. The woman who makes then, I suspect, has some serious issues. Her blog includes posts titled "Buses-The Road To Communism" "Witches and Capital Punishment" (she's all for it) and "Good Ideas - Bringing Back Slavery" again, she's all for it because slavery is explicitly condoned in the Bible.

FantasticDay Wed 27-Mar-13 15:40:53

Hi. I'm just reading an excellent book called Religion for Atheists by Alain de Botton about the things that can be learned from religious beliefs and practice (acceptance that we are all flawed, shared meals, education etc.) and talks about how these can be adapted for secular society.

Btw (I speak as a Unitarian Christian), I think all Christians are salad bar Christians - don't know anyone who believes in slavery, would stone someone for working on the Sabbath, thinks women shouldn't cut their hair etc. I would say that the definition of a Christian is to follow Jesus' teaching to love God and love your neighbour as yourself. The rest - the Golden Rule, forgiveness of sins, What Would Jesus Do? etc. all stem from this.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 15:43:02

There's no such thing as taking the Bible literally. What you mean is a fundamentalist interpretation of it. The Bible is a big old book full of narrative, song, poetry, prose, lists, genealogies etc etc. some of it you can't take literally. "The trees of the fields clap their hands"?? Can you take that literally? So trees have hands? Do you see what I mean?

I don't think you understand my take on leadership, the idealistic way of looking at leadership rather than the cynical "men are all bastards out to exploit women" take on it so I feel like this conversation is pointless.

pianomama Wed 27-Mar-13 15:49:50

Women are on completely equal footing with men in every bit of Christian church everywhere seeker.Unless you call gender differences "inequality". We can't help that.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 15:52:10

Good post pianomama but I just think that people here don't see leadership the same way so "equal footing" means something different to different people.

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 15:53:04

Green- it just always seems to me that wherever a church says something like "women are equal but different" or talk about different types of leadership, the bits of leadership that actually mean any sort of decision making, or power or ability to change anything always by some mysterious means end up being in the sort of leadership best suited to men. While the sort of leadership that manages jumble sales, chooses flowers and organises the parish magazine turns out to be sort of leadership women are good at......

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 15:54:10

"Women are on completely equal footing with men in every bit of Christian church everywhere seeker.Unless you call gender differences "inequality". We can't help that."

I don't understand.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 15:58:58

seeker, one of the first things I said on this thread was that I was a Bible study leader, meaning that on a Monday morning I led the womens bible study. A massive and onerous commitment, trying to interpret and make sense of Bible passages with the help of books in a way that was relevant and meaningful to the women in my group. Why the women's, well I could have been a house group leader but I didn't have time and with family commitments it was hard to get out in the evenings so I did the women's bible study group. Which was a massive massive responsibility and theres no greater privilege than opening up the Bible to others, it requires thought and prayer and is a great responsibility.

Your responses on this thread have mentioned flower arranging twice. I never did any flower arranging. Maybe to you that is all that women in church are good for.

This thread reminds me of conversations women have defending feminism and they get told "get back in your kitchen dear and make me a nice cup of tea and don't bother your pretty little head love.". Don't act like I don't know you are using the most sarcastic and chauvinistic attitude when mentioning "flower arranging".

The irony of all this is delicious.

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 16:04:23

I was exaggerating for emphasis.

It sounds as if you get great satisfaction from your role.

Are there any women in the hierarchy in your church? If significant changes or decisions have to be made, are there any women in the committees or whatever that make them?

pianomama Wed 27-Mar-13 16:05:13

I think seeker there are no men or women in after life. Here on Earth we are one or another.
Christian Church does not make women any less equal then men in fact it teaches that we are all equal.

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 16:06:29

But you still need to be a man to be a bishop.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 16:06:44

yes there were four leaders in my church, one woman and three men. Only one of the four was married with kids, the rest were single.

I did enjoy my role, sadly I moved away and don't do it any more due to work commitments.

slug Wed 27-Mar-13 16:10:19

It just strikes me as very odd that if God exists then why would he/she/it create women with talents and abilities then explicitly prevent them from using them.

What you end up with is a society that is ruled, governed and led by members who aren't necessarily the best suited to do so but are there simply because their genitals aren't on the approved list.

curryeater Wed 27-Mar-13 16:17:17

It is, sadly, the case that the Christian churches of today are behind the rest of society in matters of equality, and according to each human being the dignity that she or he deserves. (In general - not that I pretend to know about all Christian churches)
But don't forget that the notion of this human value comes straight out of Christianity, in this bit of the world. You can be atheist and pro-human (of course) but the way we take the value of people for granted (or at least those of us who do) - regardless of sex, age, nationality, income, position in society - would never have happened had it not been preached by churches.
I am puzzled about how it happened that secular society overtook Christianity in this. And saddened.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 16:17:46

yes, odd, old fashioned, politically incorrect, etc.

pianomama Wed 27-Mar-13 16:18:57

You could be anyone to be a part of Christian Church there are no distinctions (well not many). In Greek Orthodox Church only little boys are being taking into the altar when they are getting baptized, women are not allowed there at all.
And I don't think there are any female priests either. However it doesn't come across as inequality - more like role separation.

slug Wed 27-Mar-13 16:21:26

But why is it that there is the greater role and the lesser role?

Why should the 'honour' of being taken to the alter be only afforded to one gender?

PhyllisDoris Wed 27-Mar-13 16:29:55

I read recently about someone who had started a church for non-religious people. It sounded right up my street.

I love the community aspect of a church, with everyone looking out for each other, and with the vicar tending his flock etc etc. I also love going to church services, and enjoy the singing and general feeling of "togetherness".

However, the rational side of me can't handle the "faith" bit. I need facts and evidence that there IS a god, and that's the rub. People of faith just have faith that there is a god, they don't need evidence.

I would describe myself as being from a Christian background, and maybe, at times even as being a Christian (as I believe there was a man called Jesus Christ who walked the earth). However, I cannot believe that the world was created by God, that Jesus fed 5000 people with a few fish and a bit of bread, etc.

I don't know a lot about other religions, but suspect I would feel the same way about the community aspect, and also the faith aspect, whatever the religion.

Both my DDs went to a C of E school (because it was the best in the area at the time, not because it's C of E). However, they have both emerged into their teens as confirmed atheists - so accusations of indoctrination by religious schools are demonstrably not true!

DadOnIce Wed 27-Mar-13 16:37:49

Only the sense of community really. My Christian friends seem to have this instant "just add water" group of friends who will all do favours for each other because they are in the church.

Plus they have an on-tap calendar of social events - quizzes, outings, etc. - which we occasionally go to as well as they don't always have a religious flavour.

And if they need professional services there is usually a builder, decorator, accountant etc. from within the church willing to give them a decent rate. Oh, and stuff like children's clothes when they were little - always some going begging.

I'd love to have this instant community, and joining a church would be the easiest way to get it. But I just could not ever do all the God stuff, and there doesn't seem to be any comparable secular alternative.

Nope. No more than I want to be a Justin Bieber fan, a stamp collector or involved in a longterm monogamous relationship. If it floats your boat, fine. It's just not something I have any interest in.

Oh, DadOnIce: there are quite a few hobbies which can give you that community cohesion. I get mine from my BDSM mate and my morris dancing team. YMMV but there is bound to be some sort of hobby/interest with a social aspect you could take up.

thegreatestMadHairDayinhistory Wed 27-Mar-13 17:08:42

Are there any bits of the Christian church where women are on a completely equal footing with men

Most churches I know this is the case, tbh. The whole women bishop thing can be a red herring because the great majority voted for, the whole thing was based on technicalities rather than the bigger issue.

I know plenty of superb women in church leadership, plenty high up in decision making etc etc. I can't imagine it another way. Then again, I've always seen the bible as supporting women as equal and read it with a feminist lens. Paul a misogynist? Sod that for a game of soldiers.

I've never arranged a flower in my life grin

Interesting thread.

pianomama Wed 27-Mar-13 17:18:13

smile Actually my very dear friend and DS's godfather makes really good arrangements with flowers. I am quite useless. But not bitter..

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 17:21:01

"However it doesn't come across as inequality - more like role separation."

Yep. Roles separated into important ones and less important ones. Guess which one the women get?

pianomama Wed 27-Mar-13 17:22:20

seeker - this is your pride talking. Accept you are a woman smile. Men may be bishops but they cant have babies.

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 17:33:01

Please tell me you're joking........^please^.....

Nettee Wed 27-Mar-13 18:08:06

Greencoloropack - If God really does condemn anyone at all to eternity in hell then he is not worthy of worship I am afraid.

I believe in a God who is much better than that, much more loving than that, much less petty than that, much more perfect than that. The good news is even better!

I think (although I am trying to see it in the bible and it is hard to see it through the lens of writing that was done so long after the events) that Jesus was able to show people something of this love which is why he inspired people. But I don't know.

Seeker: Nah, s/he won't be joking. S/he is either a man who thinks that women are 'special' ie destined to be servants, or a woman who can't cope with the cognitive dissonance of knowing she belongs to an organisation that considers her a couple of steps above the status of domestic animal.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 18:24:05

Nettee, you believe in a god of your own making, I believe in the God of the Bible. Anyway, it's not so much God condemning people to Hell as God respecting peoples wishes. If someone spends their whole life saying "I hate God" then would they enjoy Heaven??? A place full of people worshipping God for all eternity? They would not enjoy it. If someone rejects God all their life then God will not impose his presence on them for all eternity. hell is a place where God is not.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 18:26:17

Wow SolidGoldBrass, spot the irony, you say "s/he" acknowledging you don't know the posters gender and then go on to characterise their belief system as if you know them intimately. It's funny, don't you think?

monsterchild Wed 27-Mar-13 18:29:23

I am the opposite of an atheist, I believe in ALL the gods. So I get to celebrate most of the holidays which is great!
I am of course pissing many of those gods right off, but if they want my beliefs they'll have to just suck it up.
My favorite gods are the little ones, like the goods of lost coffee cups and stolen spoons.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 18:31:50

Monster child, that makes you a Synchretist.

Hope you observe the Thursday Spoon ritual. ;). I just made that up.

MrsHoarder Wed 27-Mar-13 18:32:33

So green, remembering the OP do you really think that someone who has lived a reasonably good and honest life, and has at times been driven to their knees to plead to be given faith in God deserves hell?

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 18:36:27

Whoa put away that loaded question, someone will get hurt.

Nettee Wed 27-Mar-13 18:39:34

Maybe you are right that my God is of my own making. But how can you be certain that the bible is the word of God? It was written by people living in their own culture with their own pre-conceived ideas. Words cannot really express spiritual Truth as it is all bound to be both more complicated and simpler than we can imagine.

Have you ever had a religious experience? Did it count for anything? Was it a feeling? I have a feeling that God is all loving to everyone. I have a Christian friend who describes an experience of the Holy Spirit - but how does this feeling translate into the Bible being the Word of God and everything in Christian doctrine being true?

Also lets say someone leads a reasonable good life where they do their best to treat others as they would wish to be treated but after much thought decide that God probably does not exist. This person dies and discovers they were wrong and that they are now in a very lonely/hot/miserable/evil place. At this point they probably would change their mind and would want to go and be in heaven. They might even enjoy being in God's all loving presence if they had any opportunity to experience it. It strikes me as very unfair that the choice you make in (this relatively short) life based on sketchy evidence would then have a black and white effect on the rest of all eternity of your experience. Once there is clear evidence either way it is too late.

MrsHoarder Wed 27-Mar-13 18:44:26

You haven't answered it though, after telling me I am bound for hell for not believing despite trying to do so. Of course I don't feel terribly threatened by this (as I don't believe in an afterlife) but it doesn't inspire me to keep trying to seek comfort in religion either.

ouryve Wed 27-Mar-13 18:46:37

I'm an atheist and I have no need for religion.

I do believe that there is a part of all of us that can be described as "spiritual" but that is not down to any ephemeral or god-like entity. That spiritual side is the aspect of ourselves which needs nurturing for our own wellbeing, encompassing, for example, skills and knowledge, empathy for others and care for our own mental well being.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 18:47:26

Nettee, what you are talking about there is free will, you are saying God is cruel not to be a visible presence in the sky being in no uncertain terms existent. If God was self evident and everyone believed in Him then there is no free will to decide not to believe in Him. You cherish your own free will to ignore God, don't you?

How can I be certain the Bible is the word of God? If I answer that question my answer would be beside the point entirely. I believe in God because when I was younger I perceived my need of God and then I looked into it and then I took a leap of faith and believed in God and then I looked into the evidence and apologetics and all that stuff. If I get into apologetics here it will look like I am saying "listen to my arguments and you will become a Christian too". I have concluded after years and years of posting on forums that actually nobody is argued into the Kingdom of Heaven. It's like in Indiana Jones, only the penitent man will pass. Only that person who realises he needs to get right with God will become a Christian. You need to realise you need God and then there he is, you will find Hm. My arguments aren't worth squat and I hate getting into arguments which is why I am trying to keep the mood light round here.

I have had lots of religious experiences and answered prayer. I won't describe it as a means to win an argument though. All I can do is say how it seems to me, much like you and I respect the fact I don't know you and all I know is words on a screen. I get a bit annoyed when posters think they can overstep the mark and can describe my entire belief system based on their own prejudices. But anyway I will shut up now.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 18:49:36

mrsHoarder when did you stop beating your kids? There's a loaded question for ya.

I don't like the idea of Hell. I hate it and it brings tears to my eyes to think of my beloved relative maybe being there. And then you come along and you act like I'm rubbing my hands together with glee and licking my lips at the thought of it. To call this offensive is an understatement.

headinhands Wed 27-Mar-13 18:49:36

The evidence is even worse than sketchy though, there's none. And another thing. Heaven would be full of people mainly from the culture which has the 'real god' as their god. Other cultures would be distinctly lacking because they were born in the wrong country. But then someone will say, 'oh no god is just and will judge fairly' and if the god they refer to is the biblical god it renders the bible's claims about how to be saved as untrue as there's a back door entrance as it where so why did Jesus even have to die? Why not bump him off in private, let humans get on with their 60 years of struggles and then just let us all go to heaven. Alhough you then have the problem of god not acting when dreadful dreadful things are happening.

headinhands Wed 27-Mar-13 18:50:09

A paragraph or two might have been nice. Sorry

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 18:57:30

The evidence is awesome!, but don't take my word for it, look into It for yourself.

headinhands Wed 27-Mar-13 18:57:44

Ha Monster! Loving your opposite of an atheist.

DadOnIce Wed 27-Mar-13 18:59:54

What evidence? There is none.

What is "answered prayer"? In what way is it answered? How do you know it isn't simply confirmation bias?

monsterchild Wed 27-Mar-13 19:00:18

Green I can certainly look into it!
But I don't think I am melding these beliefs (except they all must exist
In the universe so maybe I am)
My issue is that if one good exists then why don't they all? What makes one desert tribal God have more legitimacy than the gods who went before him? Especially when ceremonies and sortie were coopted from earlier gods? With they're all real our they are all figment of or societal needs

headinhands Wed 27-Mar-13 19:01:51

Used to be a Christian green, still have all my bibles to prove it smile

headinhands Wed 27-Mar-13 19:02:22

And I can still recite all the books of the bible in order. Did I pass?

bigbadbarry Wed 27-Mar-13 19:04:53

I haven't read the whole thread, will come back later and read properly. I just think it must be so nice when somebody dies, to truly believe they go somewhere lovely. I don't, though.

I think it's a nice idea that you could see a loved one again, somewhere pleasant. But even when I was too young to really know why, I reacted against religion. My grandmother, whom I adored, took me to church and I screamed and screamed until I was taken out. I think I was about three, but I can still remember the terror I felt then and churches still make me uneasy today.

Nettee Wed 27-Mar-13 19:07:25

Greencolorpack - I am sorry if I have offended you. I am not trying to have a go at you personally. I am also not ignoring God I don't think. I am trying to engage in the subject and find what it is that I do believe.

I can see why God doesn't appear all the time - that is not the cruel bit. But then I don't actually think that God is cruel, that is my point.

I don't really cherish my free will to ignore God as you put it. I am very interested in God and cherish my freedom to explore my faith. If God put in an undisputed appearance I am sure I would be enthusiastic about that too.

I have also had answered prayer. I think God is not discriminatory in that way. I do agree with you that you can't argue someone into faith - you know/feel it or you don't.

I think that people find God in different ways so again I am sorry that you feel your belief system has been attacked by me and I am glad for those who can be certain of their faith.

headinhands Wed 27-Mar-13 19:16:18

Green, do you cherish the free will that allows you to ignore all the other gods out there?

monsterchild Wed 27-Mar-13 19:22:05

Phone gods are messing with me...

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 19:25:04

I think it's the "answered prayer" thing that would be th sticking point for me if I was even tempted to become a Christian.

There are biblical promises about prayer- and they have not been kept. That tells me all I want to know- either there is nothing there, or what is there is the sort of omnipotent, omniscient all loving being who lets his creation suffer.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 19:34:58

Head in hands do I like ignoring all the false non-existent Gods? Yes I do.

Monster child, what makes one God different from the others... I would say the God of the Bible has a different way of salvation of all the religions. All the other religions/gods say "if you do x or y or z you get to Heaven". Only Christianity says "you are not good enough on your own, you need to rely on what Jesus did to get to Heaven". This sets Christianity apart from all other world religions. All other world religions are the sort of thing egotistical humans might make up because they all appeal to our innate sense of pride and self. Only Christianity is not flattering to pride because Christianity says "no you can't do this on your own".

That for me sets out the stall of Christianity in a way that makes it seem more from God than from humankind and thus it is more believable.

But that's just me.

pianomama Wed 27-Mar-13 19:37:27

seeker and SolidGoldBrass - I was only joking of cause but up to a point.

FYI - I am not a man the last time I looked.

I sincerely hope that I am not "a couple of steps above the status of domestic animal" either.. But I will check with DH just in case I missed something.

My point is that I find extreme feminism just as indoctrinating as some extreme cults/sects etc etc..

I honestly never felt any sex discrimination - not at home not at work not at church.

It is not not an issue to me.

I really don't know what are you talking about.

If the men in your life treat you as a lesser being - you made a bad choice.
Get rid of them.

The "important" personalities in Christianity are not priests or bishops - they are saints.

And there are just as many female saints as there are male ones.

I don't care what sex the bishop is - he is just a receptionist..

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 19:39:12

No Nettee I didn't think you were attacking my beliefs. Peace.

headinhands Wed 27-Mar-13 19:48:38

Funny but the way you describe the other religions is how I now see Christianity. The experiences you speak of, the depth of feeling, the way god sorts your problems out, a Muslim would say the identical things and also talk of equally powerful and intense emotions. How come?

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 19:51:19

"My point is that I find extreme feminism just as indoctrinating as some extreme cults/sects etc etc.."

Extreme feminism? What on earth do you mean?????????

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 19:51:38

A Muslim would not... They would talk about having to do good works to earn salvation. I know this from the sort of memes my Muslim work colleague posts about on Facebook. She is an observant Muslim and talks about all the different good works she could do like giving to charity etc.

As for powerful emotions and intensity and all that, yes they might. I am not Muslim so don't want to talk about that. Let the Muslims speak for themselves.

headinhands Wed 27-Mar-13 19:59:18

Well the would and they do, on here with as much conviction as you green. How could that be if their god is not real? How can they be having these experiences? How can they feel Allah in their lives guiding them?

Nettee Wed 27-Mar-13 20:02:59

I think God thinks we are worthy of love just for being ourselves and part of creation. I think it is unfortunate that people think of themselves as unworthy miserable offenders who need someone else to have been tortured as punishment for how bad we are. However for people who feel this way perhaps Jesus provides a way for them to believe they will be with God and a way for them to have more self respect in the here and now.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Wed 27-Mar-13 20:06:10

I'm an atheist, I have no desire to believe. Personally, I feel that believing in God, an afterlife, reincarnation, paradise, etc, etc. really undermines the life that we have. I don't feel a need to dedicate this life in the hope of another, I'd rather enjoy the one I know I have now.

Some people talk about belief and faith giving comfort in times of tragedy or sadness, but I'd rather be realistic about things. When someone dies, they die, they're gone. I'd find it pretty creepy to think of them looking down on me and actually I've seen people who have beliefs like this take much longer to recover from tragedy than people who don't believe, simply because they genuinely believe that they have some kind of spiritual connection to the lost.

I can honestly say I've never listened to an account of someone having a faith based 'experience' and thought I'd like to have that. I generally find it weird and a bit self obsessive. I'd much rather understand what's actually going on when I experience unusual things and I'm rarely disappointed!

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 20:07:24

I don't know head in hands. Do you think I was born yesterday? I know Muslims believe in Allah with much conviction. Why do think this is news to me??

It's not about how much conviction you have or how strongly held your beliefs are... It's about whether you are putting your faith in something that is true or not.

headinhands Wed 27-Mar-13 20:07:54

It's absurd. Imagine your kids coming in from school one day and you sit them down to explain that because they are sooo thoroughly evil and bad you have had to kill daddy so that you can allow yourself to tolerate being near them or something similar?

Shakey1500 Wed 27-Mar-13 20:09:55

Great question grin (and very nicely put)

I used to believe. I say "believe" but I think I only did because most other people did. I even got married in church. But I never practised "my religion", didn't feel strongly about it at all. Eventually I knew that deep down I really didn't. I like tangible things, evidence etc and to me, there is none.

I do like the "feeling" of being in church, I find it very calming. I think that's more to do with the bricks and mortar though and any suggestion that the peaceful feeling could be in any way equated with "God" or religions way of appearing to me would not hold any water with me.

The only way I would believe there was a God would be if I could see him/her/it right in front of me, could touch and converse.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 20:11:00

Yes it is quite hard to understand in our modern world where everyone feels a huge sense of entitlement. It wasn't ever thus. But the Gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing. It says so in the Bible, in other words, it sounds foolish to people who don't believe.

MrsHiddleston Wed 27-Mar-13 20:14:01

Nope, there is nothing at all about religious faith that appeals to me.

headinhands Wed 27-Mar-13 20:14:13

I'm curious how you explain them having the same strength of conviction that's all. If they are capable of convincing themselves of the reality of something that isn't there by your reasoning, along with all manner of powerful, life changing responses, aren't you just as capable?

headinhands Wed 27-Mar-13 20:15:38

But it would say that wouldn't it green.

monsterchild Wed 27-Mar-13 20:24:54

Also for me the Christian god acknowledged the presence of others by saying thou shall have no other goods before me. This is not the same a false idols, its gods. So even he knows they're out there and legit our why bother mentioning them as gods and not a false gods?
Abraham's God is an extremely jealous one, which is pretty evident when you read the Bible/Torah/Koran. He's vindictive too and cruel, but so us the place he came from so it makes sense. And he's certainly not the only fickle God out there.

Thing is, Greencolourpack, you can't prove or demonstrate in any way that your imaginary friend is more real or more fabulous than anyone else's. There is no reason why your beliefs should be taken any more seriously than those of Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Wiccans, Scientologists - or the people who believe in ghosts, fairies and astrology.

There's no reason why you or anyone else shouldn't be allowed to believe whatever old rubbish you like. But other people are under no obligation to treat your mythologies with 'respect'.

Of course, gods were all made up by people, which is why they are all capricious, selfish, whiny, petulant, unreasonable arseholes.

Nettee Wed 27-Mar-13 20:26:05

I can see where you are coming from Green and humility is good. However I think we could feel entitled not to be tortured for all eternity for believing the wrong thing.

Psychologically people probably base their model of God on their experience of their own parents as children I suspect. Hence the loving but provider of Justice type ideas.

Wow, so many postings! I haven't had time to red them all. Can I ask a coulpe of questions please?

Slug do you really think it is easier to be a Christian and not have to apply yourself to think through dilemahs? I would never have thought of that as one of the things that non-believers would say about being a Christian, that it is easy. I do still think things through a lot. I think all the turmoil at the moment (good turmoil) is about Christians thinking things through.

seeker, can i ask which biblical promises you are thinking about in regard to prayer?

InNeedOfBrandy did you ever try and find God outside of a church, I mean by praying just by yourself, or maybe by just going to a thing that is very open and friendly and not in a church and not happy clappy? Just curious.

backonlybriefly99 what you say is very interesting

"For individual believers it's my opinion that practising faith (belief without reason) is unhealthy and potentially dangerous. Not just bombers - though they are one result of people acting because they have faith that this is what their god wants. There will be many more who simply believe that their creator wants them to be nice to people and that seems okay doesn't it. But I think it is better that people make up their own minds about right and wrong. Basing it on their own experience, knowledge and study. That's how we make progress. ""

but I am guessing you would judge by the results not the methods that got to that result. By that I mean that if "Basing it on their own experience, knowledge and study." led to cruel and horrible acts then you would feel less enthusistic about it, I am guessing of course, I have no idea what you would feel. In your words 'faith (belief without reason)' can lead to cruel acts but it has also led people to serve, to work for justice and to engage in all kinds of socially good things.

I am not really making any argument here, just pointing out that what people believe can lead them to do things from that, both good and bad.And it doesn't just get limited to religion, look at communism.


"Are there any bits of the Christian church where women are on a completely equal footing with men?"

Yes, according to dear old Wickipedia

Full equality

African Methodist Episcopal Church
American Baptist Churches USA
Anglican Church in North America
Assemblies of God
Association of Vineyard Churches
Baptist Union of Great Britain
Christians for Biblical Equality
Church of the Brethren
Church of Denmark
Church of Iceland
Church of Norway
Church of Scotland
Church of Sweden
Episcopal Church
Evangelical Covenant Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland
Free Methodist Church
Mennonite Church USA
Presbyterian Church of Canada
Presbyterian Church USA
Protestant Church in the Netherlands
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) — Quakers have always believed in the legitimacy of women's ministry, with only a few exceptions in the early years. In 1848 at a conference in Seneca Falls, New York, 100 men and women signed a declaration that "all men and women are created equally." Early leaders of the movement were women, including Lucretia Mott.
United Church of Canada
United Church of Christ
United Methodist Church
Uniting Church in Australia

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 20:43:51

Headinhands, yes it is a toughie, how come Muslims believe and I am right and they are wrong. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He is The truth, ie the ultimate truth but that's not to say there aren't some truths within other religions. Religion has a great place in society for stability and social control, cohesiveness, good things. I have lots of respect for Muslims who are observant because in a lot of ways they are up against the same intolerance from the anti-religious as Christians.

I have become convinced that Christianity is true. Therefore in a mathematical, logical way, if Christianity is true then it logically follows all other religions are false. If you want to believe this you can too. But like I said I don't see the point arguing this because I am on my path and you need to follow your path. you and everyone else need to figure this out for yourself.

solidGoldBrass you said imaginary friend . This implies you are hostile and argumentative. I do not want to engage with such posters. Either amend your tone or expect to be ignored.

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 20:51:20

John 14 13-14
Matthew 7 7
Matthew 21 22.

All clear promises that prayers will be answered. I am aware that the get out clause is "Ah, but they are answered- just not in the way you think they will be" Funny that. You would have thought that just once in 2000 years there might have been a straight "yes" to "please save my child"

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 20:51:58

Oh, and green- are you saying that you will only discuss things if you control the language being used?

pianomama Wed 27-Mar-13 20:52:09

Italianreygound - do you mind telling us which church do you belong?
And if it isn't one of any mentioned in your "gender equal list" - does it really matter to you ?

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 20:54:35

seeker I'm saying if this thread becomes argumentative, hostile etc I will wander off bored. I'm not hostile, I don't come here with evil intent, I am posting politely and not trying to tell people how to live their lives etc, I am not anyones punchbag.

MrsHiddleston Wed 27-Mar-13 20:55:45

SGB is expressing my views better than I can.

Seeker I am so very sorry to hear that you have lost a child. I am sure you do not really want me to pontificate on those verses, I will if you want. But for now I guess I would just say that in general I don't belive God answers all our prayers exactly as we ask them. I am really very sorry you lost a child and I can understand why this would make it so hard to believe in God.

monsterchild Wed 27-Mar-13 21:07:15

Green how does the presence of one God mathematically negate the presences of others? Can God not lie? Isn't he omnipotent?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Wed 27-Mar-13 21:08:57

What's hostile about the phrase 'imaginary friend'? It's factually accurate when discussing gods. Imaginary because believers can only think of the god, not see or touch, and friend......well.....unless you don't like your god........

pianomama it's not my gender list, it's wickipedia's and I can't verify it. I became a Christian in the C of E at a time when women could not be ordained. I was a feminist before I was a Christian and it really bothered me that women could not be ordained, even though I did not feel a call to be ordained, well I did briefly but that was mostly becase people think I look like the vicar of Dibley! (Joke). I was very happy when women were ordinaed and I think it has been a magnificent thing for the church. I am very sorry the chruch did not 'allow' women bishops in the C of E but my understanding is most clergy did want it and I feel pretty much 100% sure it will come in in the very near future.

Anyway, we left our far away C of E a few years go to go to one closer to us and we picked a free church. We got to love the people and felt very happy. We saw women leading the worship up the front and speaking in home group and I felt positive. Then we had our meeting where we talked about church membership. All quite new to me as we don't do that in the C of E. Anyway, I asked the question about women leaders and was very suprised to hear that they odn;t have women elders or ministers. I then had a choice, do I stay with these poeple I have grown to love where I feel I am being drawn into a fellowship, or do I go because there are things I don't agree with. I stayed. I felt it was the right thing to do. Who knows what my presence will bring. I also feel very much if I felt called to leadership or I felt that my faith was being squashed or stifled than I would leave but for now I am in a church where women cannot be the minister or elder. Does it bother me, yes, are there other things that upset me more, yes. Can I do something about all of this, yes.

Thank you for asking.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 21:10:09

Monsterchild it's just the claims in the Bible. If God is true then if you read the ten commandments it says you shall have no other gods. Worshipping other gods means idolatry, it's forbidden.

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 21:11:36

Italiangreyhound- I'm sorry- I haven't lost a child and I didn't mean to give the impression I had. I just used that as an example of one of the prayers made most fervently and desperately and which is never answered.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 21:11:59

Pedro whether it's accurate or not the tone is hostile. I just choose not to engage with such posters, don't see why this is hard to understand.

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 21:12:56

And those verses are by clear and specific. No possibility of misunderstanding. And as I said, never once in 2000 years a straight answer.

tuffie Wed 27-Mar-13 21:14:42

It is such a shame that a perfectly good and interesting debate by both atheists and Christians was yet again derailed by the same people.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Wed 27-Mar-13 21:16:37

It's hard to understand because it's just not a hostile expression and slightly irrational to think so, especially because it's an accurate statement. Just seems a bit odd to me.

Rowlers Wed 27-Mar-13 21:16:47

I do not believe in God, have no "faith" and don't really get what "faith" is. I have no desire for "faith", to "believe" at all.
I think life is hard, and was almost certainly a lot harder thousands of years ago. When people in the dark ages tried to understand the world, life and death etc around them, I can see how well the idea of a "god" would help to explain basically everything, and how it helped to control people and their behaviour.
My experience of friends with strong religious beliefs is a total lack of ability / desire to discuss faith / belief in any way, without them feeling under attack. There seems to be a "don't question me" mentality.
And what I really hate with a passion is this "I'm a christian and am going to heaven, you can too if you will only believe what I (blindly) believe". That really does make me cross.
I don't "believe", don't yearn for the feeling that "believers" have, and have absolutely no desire to "belong" to a church community.

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 21:18:04

My children both had imaginary friends who were very real to them, and were a great source of comfort. The term does not have negative connotations to me.
However, what term would you like me to use?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Wed 27-Mar-13 21:20:57

Rowlers I think you've hit the nail on the head there. So often the religious engage the atheists with probing questions or assertions of their religion and then take offence when the atheists put their views forward. It's interesting how it's ALWAYS the religious side of the debate that takes offence or claims of the derailment of the thread.

headinhands Wed 27-Mar-13 21:21:42

Green - how are Christians up against it from the anti-religious? Do you mean in the UK? If so how are you up against it?

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 21:24:05

" I have lots of respect for Muslims who are observant because in a lot of ways they are up against the same intolerance from the anti-religious as Christians"

Green- could you say something more about this?

MrsHiddleston Wed 27-Mar-13 21:24:30

Yep Pedro... Exactly.

headinhands Wed 27-Mar-13 21:24:33

Re: 10 Commandments, first 4 about protecting god's ego. You'd think he'd have nothing to ever feel inferior about no?

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 21:25:49

Pedro I am a human being and I like debating, I do not like hostility. I do not like being talked down to. You can all disbelieve in God all you like but I don't see the point in arguing/being defensive/combative/hostile.

It's not about "the religious" vs "the atheists" I would prefer to draw the lines along "those who can debate politely" vs "those who can't".

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 21:30:26

Headin hands, well one example might be... Posters in newspapers showing the twin towers before they got exploded and the caption something about "Imagine a world without religion" as an advert for a Richard Dawkins series. The implication being, if there were no religion we would live in a beautiful utopia of perfect happiness and terrorism would not happen.

Other examples ...people losing their jobs for wearing crosses or having convictions that go against political correctness. People pushing for euthanasia to become an acceptable part of working within the NHS which if it happened would lead to thousands of religious doctors and nurses having to consider quitting their jobs because their work would go against their religious beliefs... That sort of thing.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Wed 27-Mar-13 21:30:50

Ok, fine.....bizarre, but fine. But as seeker asked, what language would you like to be used?

pianomama Wed 27-Mar-13 21:31:58

seeker - I am relieved to hear that. But nobody ever claimed that prayers will be answered directly and literally. Lord works in mysterious ways. The most important Christian prayer says "Thy will be done". Not mine or yours but His.
It helps you to cope with whatever life throws at you. Humility makes you stronger then ambition, makes you grateful for what you have and helps you to cope with loss. Gives you tools if you like to do the best you can under the circumstances.

MrsHiddleston Wed 27-Mar-13 21:32:35

Green I refer you to the title of this thread that is specifically asking us atheists 2 questions, to which most of us have answered. But it seems those that have religious faith want to debate it but then get all defensive when they feel offended by posters, nothing anyone has said here is hostile... But you just choose to take offence.

rowlers and pedro have really hit the nail on the head in my opinion.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 21:36:21

Pedro I can't tell you what language, I go by tone, if I think someone has a hostile combative tone I don't want to engage with them.

MrsH there are loads of posters posting so I have the luxury of being able to engage with those I find enjoyable to post to and can ignore those I don't. Sometimes when I set down conditions I find that people who were formerly hostile tone down their behaviour and a useful discussion ensues.

Do you personally like reading bun fights? I don't.

monsterchild Wed 27-Mar-13 21:40:06

Green that's my point, no other gods doesn't mean there aren't any, it means"I'm the most important and by Me I'll smite you if you stray"
There's a lot of abuser type language in the Bible, I think. But many of the important stories were told well before Christ showed up. There have been other good that sacrifice their children and whohave from the dead and which offer salvation of some type. But Easter is still a lovely holiday.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Wed 27-Mar-13 21:40:14

*Posters in newspapers showing the twin towers before they got exploded and the caption something about "Imagine a world without religion" as an advert for a Richard Dawkins series. The implication being, if there were no religion we would live in a beautiful utopia of perfect happiness and terrorism would not happen.

Other examples ...people losing their jobs for wearing crosses or having convictions that go against political correctness. People pushing for euthanasia to become an acceptable part of working within the NHS which if it happened would lead to thousands of religious doctors and nurses having to consider quitting their jobs because their work would go against their religious beliefs... That sort of thing.*

The implication of such a poster would actually be suggesting that the Twin Towers would likely still be standing, I don't read 'no terrorism' into that at all. I don't think any atheist would. Losing jobs for wearing crosses is actually about restrictions on any religious attire, if you can't adhere to a dress code then that's really your problem. I wouldn't expect to go to work with a colander on my head and claim that I couldn't remove it for religious reasons. And as for euthanasia, it's a tricky subject in itself, but honestly, I can't imagine doctors being forced to perform it and if you simply don't like it happening around you, then again that's really your problem, not society's.

MrsHiddleston Wed 27-Mar-13 21:40:19

green try reading your own posts regarding tone... Sanctimonious much?

Rowlers Wed 27-Mar-13 21:41:14

green, have you ever thought that you might be the one coming accross as hostile? Just asking. Not being hostile.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 21:41:40

So don't post to me MrsH.... Problem solved!

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Wed 27-Mar-13 21:42:47

But Easter is still a lovely holiday.

It's nice having a couple of extra days off work, anyway!!

These stories of people being disciplined for wearing emblems at work: a little digging always uncovers the fact that these individuals had been making absolute pests of themselves in the workplace for some time, either harassing co-workers or demanding special privileges on behalf of their imaginary friends. The insistence on breaching company dress codes always turns out to be either the final straw or an actual concrete breach of rules that they can be disciplined for.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 21:45:10

Pedro. Someone asked me for examples... Those were some examples.. I don't want to particularly argue about it. Yes you are right maybe the people who wore crosses should have just sucked it up.

I personally do think it would be a great shame if religious doctors and nurses had to quit their jobs over conscience issues and it's a huge part of the euthanasia debate that a lot of people don't seem to understand. The implications of the NHS not having religious people in it... Surely all of society would suffer when you think of all the decent idealistic religious Muslims/Christians etc who would have to choose other careers... We would all suffer if this happened.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 21:47:42

Rowlers yes I probably am hostile, it comes of having been dog piled by hundreds of angry posters in the past in religious debates. I'm actually trying to preemptively put out fires before they begin. I'm very long in the tooth when it comes to religious debates online, it is why I actually find the nature of debate more interesting than the simple religious arguments.... Cos everything has been said and done before, for two thousand years, there is nothing new under the sun.

slug Wed 27-Mar-13 21:48:43

You don't need a church to have a religious experience. A mild electrical current run across your temporal lobe will produce the same effect.

MrsHiddleston Wed 27-Mar-13 21:51:03

rowlers don't post to green then... Problem solved. green clearly owns this thread.

green this is the last time I will post directly to you. You want to hijack the thread with your attitude then so be it. I have 'belief' that a world without religion would be a utopia. I blame religion and people of religious faith for everything that is wrong with this world. That is my belief... So who are you to say that I am wrong? Who are you to say that a world without religion wouldn't/couldn't be a utopia? Why does it offend you that people disagree with you? Why does it offend you that people chose to call your god an imaginary friend. Your god is imaginary to me, no more real than the tooth fairy. All gods are imagined, they do not, they cannot exist in any other medium than the minds of those who choose to believe in them.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Wed 27-Mar-13 21:52:02

What about all the other major steps in human society which have broken the moulds of outdated religious beliefs such as slavery, equal rights for women, etc? Perhaps the religious at the time thought that society would suffer back then, but actually I think we're in a better place than we were. Euthanasia is not something I believe can just be thrown into the mix, but I'm not against it either, it just has to be treated very, very carefully. But overall, I think it can often be kinder than letting someone suffer as long as you can avoid the whole risk of pre-meditated murder. Who's to say that this is not just another issue which the religious will have to overcome. Perhaps it can be seen as another trial of god or something.

Rowlers Wed 27-Mar-13 21:52:23

green, why do you join these debates? Again, really not being hostile at all, just curious? I have never really entered into these sorts of threads before, so all new and sort of interesting for me. But what do you take part in religious debates for? What do you get out of it?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Wed 27-Mar-13 21:54:34

Cos everything has been said and done before, for two thousand years, there is nothing new under the sun.

Perhaps nothing has changed for the religious, but for the rest of us there's new stuff every day. You should try it sometime!

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 21:55:03

Muchas apologies if I have "hijacked" the thread, am I supposed to start my own? I am a bit I don't know, Aspergers when it comes to understanding the millions of unspoken and unwritten rules of websites. I thought this was the kind of place to discuss religion.... Maybe not.

Are you on the spectrum then green? Or is "a bit Aspergers" just a figure of speech?

MrsHiddleston Wed 27-Mar-13 21:58:13

Yes it is... Discuss away... Oh sorry, you don't want to discuss and debate, you want to chose who is worthy of debate in your own oh so humble opinion and ignore those of us who have differing opinion to yourself on the grounds that you find us hostile.

headinhands Wed 27-Mar-13 21:58:39

I find your use of the expression 'up against it' a little sensationalist seeing the examples you've given.

MrsHiddleston Wed 27-Mar-13 22:00:13

Careful prom, green doesn't find the term 'a bit aspergers' offensive and therefore she's allowed to use the term. 'imaginary friend' on the other hand is terribly offensive to her and must not be used in any way on his thread.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Wed 27-Mar-13 22:06:47

You know what, going back to the original question, there is something about faith that I'd like to believe. I'd like to believe that those with faith had the integrity, compassion and respect which they claim to have.....

MrsHoarder Wed 27-Mar-13 22:08:45

Green, this thread was supposedly set up for atheists to discuss if they have ever wanted faith. Yes if you want to discuss something different you should start a new thread with a title about what you intend to discuss, not tell atheists who have come in a spirit of discussion that they are going to hell.

pianomama Wed 27-Mar-13 22:13:51

Bun fight! I'd like to point out that having faith does not imply being "better" in any way.

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 22:19:26

"Other examples ...people losing their jobs for wearing crosses or having convictions that go against political correctness. People pushing for euthanasia to become an acceptable part of working within the NHS which if it happened would lead to thousands of religious doctors and nurses having to consider quitting their jobs because their work would go against their religious beliefs... That sort of thing."

That sort of thing. Christians being asked to comply with the law of the land like everyone else, you mean?

Seeker I am sorry too, I did not mean to assume it was true but I felt it would cause less offence to assume it was true than not. And of course it is true for some people. Terrible things happen all the time and I am afraid I have few answers for those things.

Rowlers Wed 27-Mar-13 22:23:15

Re-reading the OP's original post, I've always been sceptical of this idea that belief in god of some sort somehow gives "peace". What does this mean? I've got questions I don't know the answers to, I can get "god" etc to sort of answer these, therefore I can now stop thinking about it and have "peace"? I can see the attraction of it, and, as a lot of posters have pointed out, it is often coming to terms with death which awakens these feelings. But for me, it does not give sufficient "peace" - the pain of grief is in no way diminished by the possibility of "god". It's just a fact of life we (I) need to accept and come to terms with.
(Also, I have a big issue with the term "truth" bandied around in religious dscussions)

MrsHoarder Wed 27-Mar-13 22:30:23

What about all the other major steps in human society which have broken the moulds of outdated religious beliefs such as slavery, equal rights for women, etc?

The abolition of slavery in the UK was spearheaded by Wilberforce, an enthusiastic non-conformist. Of course this could be an example of how important it is to get away from the establishment religions, but I quite like it as an example of faith moving someone to do good. Or George Muller improving the lives of hundreds (thousands?) of orphans in Bristol in early Victorian times.

But aside from the really inspirational characters who dedicate their entire lives to changing the world with their faith, I'm not sure what religion adds to society. There will be art without it.

MrsHoarder Wed 27-Mar-13 22:33:12

Rowlers I have always wanted to believe in a plan and a God who will not test me with more than I can bear. This isn't an unusual desire, to seek meaning in suffering rather than assume it is just painful random chance.

The flip side to this is that I don't feel anyone is angry at me when something tragic happens, it is just sheer dumb bad luck.

Quodlibet Wed 27-Mar-13 22:41:08

I am an atheist through and through.
I recently suffered a miscarriage and one of the things I have struggled with is making room for the process of mourning my loss in my life, a time and space to acknowledge it. I found myself walking past the church this morning with Easter services advertised and thinking how, for people of faith, specific times of the year to come together and somehow commune over the processes and cycles of life and death must actually be a very healthy thing to do. This is something I think I feel is maybe missing from secular life. It's something I find in art and creative practice, but it isn't woven into the annual fabric of life in the same way as, say, Easter is for Christians.
(I hope that makes sense).

Seeker I don't take the Bible literally, and believe every word is literally true. I can say of those passages you mentioned. Well, let me show you ... I am sorry this is very long and I expect it was not what you wanted really....

According to John 14 13-14 in the NIV (New International Version) says (I'm including verses 11 and 12 because it gives a bit of context, hope that is OK)...

"11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."

And in the Message (a slightly funkier more in the talk of the day - about 1993 to 2002 - version)

11-14 “Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it. That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do.

So to me that is talking about doing things in a spiritual way, I know that you may find that a total cop out, but that is how I would read it.

I am using two versions as it gives a slightly different flavour and hopefully one is easier to understand.

Matthew 7 7. Can I add a few more verses to give it context, please?

NIV "7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.."

and The Message ...

7-11 “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?

12 “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behaviour: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.”

I think this is also talking in spiritual terms about knocking on the door, asking and receiving God's love and forgiveness etc. Anyway that's what the commentary I saw said. I like the way it ends, “Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.” Yes, the church could do a lot more of this.


Matthew 21 22.

In The Message "21-22 But Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Yes—and if you embrace this kingdom life and don’t doubt God, you’ll not only do minor feats like I did to the fig tree, but also triumph over huge obstacles. This mountain, for instance, you’ll tell, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it will jump. Absolutely everything, ranging from small to large, as you make it a part of your believing prayer, gets included as you lay hold of God.”

and NIV says similar "21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Do I honestly think Jesus was saying we could have faith that would move a mountain physically, I don't, I think it was a kind of picture image.

Anyway, I know that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to some but that is how I interpret these verses, not that I can literally ask for anything and God will deliver it. I mean there are a lot of wonderful and great things people could ask for and I understand how difficult it is to think of these things in a spiritual way.

Rowlers Wed 27-Mar-13 22:48:38

You see, that's another thing, that Dot Cotton quoting the bible thing, that's partly really impressive, partly really scary! (sorry Italian, no offence!!!)
For me, it's quite off-putting. I have a terrible memory for qoutes etc. I think if I were religious, I'd have a permanent inferiority complex. grin

I don't want to get in the middle of a bun fight but just wanted to send un-mumsnetty hugs to one and all. We are all discussing, it is nice, let's not be offended, let's be grateful we have the right to discuss in freedom.

Pedro I'd like to see you with that colendar on your head! (Please throw no buns).

Rowlers no offence taken. It was in response to seeker - Miss Rowlers she made me do it!

Yes, it looks over the top and proper nut job, three Bible passages, two vesions of each! Really I am normal though.

Rowlers it's the power of the internet, if I were looking it up I would still be doing it!

Rowlers Wed 27-Mar-13 22:59:55

Absolutely, Italian. And may I wish you Happy Easter? smile

Rowlers Wed 27-Mar-13 23:00:40

And if there is bun throwing,may they be hot and cross.

pianomama Wed 27-Mar-13 23:01:48

Quodlibet - that was the best post on this thread. I am so sorry for your loss.
To me the faith and church is not even about the belonging to community, it is exactly what you said - a place where you can "commune over processes of life and death" .

MrsHiddleston can I ask in a totally unoffensive way, you said about the world being a Utopia without religion. The concept of no religion is a very new one, (I think) so for centuries there have been religions. So it is very hard to quite imagine with no religion how it would all have panned out. Would Spain have gone and plundered Latin America if it did not have the church and the spread of Christianity to hide behind, I think they would. And although soem conflicts are genuinely religious ones (and yes very shameful for that reason and for other reasons too) I think that there would have been the same cruel actions around the globe in many places.

For example communism, especially China, Mao did a lot of harm with no religion involved.

I am just curious does this mean you don't belive in God because you don't beileve or because you don't want to? That is a genuine question and not meant to be offensive.

Green Just wanted to send you a smile, you are debating lots of interesting things too.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 23:07:59

Thank you, that's very kind, same to you, smile

edam Wed 27-Mar-13 23:09:22

I think you'll find religion did a great deal of harm in China - Mao and Sun Yat Sen were reacting against that. The Christian nations of the West don't have a great deal to be proud of there - look up the opium wars and weep at the behaviour of our ancestors! Mao was an evil dictator but it is madness to claim 'atheist bad, religious good' when you look at the political and social complexities of China in his day and in the lead up to his day.

Quodlibet I am so sorry for your loss. I had a misscariage too many years ago and I found there are many wonderful ways of kind of marking that sad passing like planting a flower or a tree etc. Visiting a tree or a wood etc.

Edam I am not claiming athiest bad religion good for China, but I do think the opinum wars were about greed and money and not about God. I think God has been used as a convenient 'excuse' to go into places and do what people want to do. My point was that even without religion people can do bad - religion does not automatically make people behave well (sadly) and athiesm doesn't automatically make people behave badly.

There have been attempts (I think) in many places to create community, like group morning exercise in some part of Asia. I think what is somehow missing is that for me God is present in the quiet of prayer etc.

I am curious for those who do feel they would like to believe but do not, whether it is all the things done in the name of religion or a simple belief that there is no God, which makes them athiests?

MrsHiddleston Wed 27-Mar-13 23:23:46

I haven't taken offence in your questions, don't worry.

I was mainly being argumentative regarding the world being utopia without religion, in a.., well why couldn't it, why wouldn't it etc... Kind of way. Literally there has and there will always be religion because some people want to believe and have faith and that is a very strong thing. There will not and there probably could not have ever been a world without it, but I like to think that humans could have done marvellously without it. But humans are what they are and it's unlikely we wouldn't have found something else to fight over be it land, race, gender whatever.

I don't believe in a god because I don't, no more than I believe in the tooth fairy or Santa Claus. Would I like to believe in god, again no, no more than I'd like to believe in fairies. I cannot believe in these things because IMO they don't exist.

Don't confuse atheism. People do horrible things to each other in the name of religion of course but also nationality, race, gender, social standing etc... Atheism is a lack of belief in a god or gods. Communism has nothing to do with atheism. Mao may or may not have been an atheist, I have absolutely no idea, but he was a communist and he has left a communist legacy behind in his country. That has nothing to do with atheism.

Am I making any sense at all, I'm not sure, I'm tired. smile

pianomama Wed 27-Mar-13 23:28:24

Actually communism is another form of organised religion based on atheism.
In communist societies religion was banned and prosecuted.

MrsHiddleston Wed 27-Mar-13 23:44:06

Well I never, I have just realised with the help of google that I have no idea what a communist is. So okay... I need to look into that. But!!!!

I am an atheist. I do not believe in a god or gods. I am not a communist. Atheists are not all communists, in the same vain that there will be communists who are theists.

And now I need to go to bed, tomorrow I will attempt to learn a bit more about communism. wink

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 23:49:50

You can be an atheist and be practically anything else as well , you know. Except a theist, obviously........

Just reading back to what people said earlier.

aliasjoey you said "I have thought what I need is a week-long course of religious taster sessions (you know like those trial packs of mini perfumes?)", how about an Alpha course,

Blu, AltogetherAndrews very interesting posts. Yes MsGee faith does come with it's own problems when dealing with the subject of pain.

MrsHiddleston Wed 27-Mar-13 23:55:40

I know that (if that was directed at me)...

Aaahhh bloody hell, why am I now googling communism? I don't care about communism right now, right now I want to sleep. smile

Yes, MrsHiddlleston you are making sense.

Yes, atheists are not all communists and maybe communists are not all atheists but communism is essentially atheistic I think or (some one correct me??).

Dear old Wikipedia says under Communism special ally under China ... “The Communist Party has said that religious belief and membership are incompatible.[43] However, the state is not allowed to force ordinary citizens to become atheists”

MrsHiddleston do not want to delay your sleep. I simply meant that in all kinds of societies, including those without organised religion, there is evil and people do things wrong. I think religion is a useful thing to hide behind, and much evil has been done in the name of religion. I can understand that that puts people off God, and that is very sad, but it sounds from what many people say that it is not actually that that puts people off, it is that they simply do not believe in God.

monsterchild Thu 28-Mar-13 00:06:30

I think what you mean, pianomama is that while adhering to no belief in the supernatural, communism is also a form of social control.

Yes, communism, or at least leninism, has all the markers of a religion.
As to religions bringing a 'sense of peace' to individuals... Well, yeah, sometimes, probably. So does having a wank, or listening to a nice piece of music, or watching a sunset. However, nice pieces of music and sunsets don't generally make you miserable and anxious that you're Doing It Wrong, whereas quite a few superstitions are riddled with all sorts of unpleasant taboos, so that people can make themselves horribly miserable by worrying about what their imaginary friend is going to do to them if they find some aspect of the ritual, or the institution's inherent bigotry, a bit of a problem.

MrsHiddleston Thu 28-Mar-13 00:18:21

Still bloody googling communism and atheism here....

People doing bad onto each other in the name of religion doesn't 'put me off god'. I believe that there is no god. people doing bad onto each other in the name of anything just puts me off people.

MrsHiddleston very well said, the people bit. Go to bed, you are tired, we will talk tomorrow (said in a very unbossy, un-bun-throwy-un-nut-job-three-bible-verses sort of way!)


monsterchild Thu 28-Mar-13 03:30:52

SBG, it's not just imaginary friends, but the imaginary enemies of said imaginary friends.

nooka Thu 28-Mar-13 03:34:08

I've not noticed that religious people/people with strong faith are more at peace when bad things happen, in fact I think it can be incredibly challenging. If you truly believe that god has a plan and then something terrible happens - say your child is very ill, then you have to feel that god is somehow responsible, and that you somehow deserved to suffer in some way. I cannot see how holding such a belief is in any way comforting. Of course there is no comfort in feeling that such events are random/just part of life but at least there's no blame either.

Of course I might just have this view because the faith I was brought up in was Catholicism!

CheerfulYank Thu 28-Mar-13 03:46:41

I can confirm that the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America has women and men on equal footing. And openly gay clergy.

sashh Thu 28-Mar-13 04:40:44

Not strictly about faith but some churches do a lot for their community, food banks, visiting the sick, I read a bout a group of women from a church working with prostitutes, handing out condoms and listening to problems.

I'd like to be involved with something like running a food bank, but you cannot do it on your own and there doesn't seem to be an atheist organisaton.

I also like the community. It would be nice if we were new to an area to have a ready made social group.

Oh, it would also be nice to not be in the minority and therefore discriminated against (I live in the US where in some places you can't even run for public office!). It would be nice if the scouts would not discriminate against my sons.

I wish that someone else would make volunteering really easy for me too ;) but that is me being lazy!

PhyllisDoris Thu 28-Mar-13 10:24:42

Spoony - why would you want your sons to join the Scouts if you don't agree with their ethos? Why don't you enrol them in a secular club, if you think that's more appropriate?

aliasjoey Thu 28-Mar-13 10:38:21

thanks italiangreyhound I have considered the Alpha course, but I think it is focused on Christianity, and I wanted something broader. I imagined a week-long course (residential, with nice food grin ) covering all the major religions and some of the minor ones.

Perhaps not Scientology. I don't think that counts as a religion. <just to add another controversial issue into this bunfight>

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Thu 28-Mar-13 12:49:25

Scientology is as much a religion as any other. Some might use the word cult, but actually the terms pretty much interchangeable, just that the more well established religions would object to being referred to as a cult.

monsterchild Thu 28-Mar-13 12:54:18

Sashh, you can volunteer at an actual foodbank. The one in my area that supplies the churches with most of their food is completely secular. And in need of volunteers.

monsterchild Thu 28-Mar-13 12:58:46

There are a lot of organizations, both secular and religious that are beneficial no matter your beliefs. And in the US at least the religious ones are pretty ubiquitous and powerful. And well run, mostly. Scouts is something I would consider because of the skill set offered. Iknow many shirts who participated, a well as gays...

curryeater Thu 28-Mar-13 13:07:48

Scientology was not a religion when it was invented by Hubbard, but became formally reclassified as a religion because it is a way of getting around the legal restrictions on telling lies and making false claims. Hubbard just meant all this stuff very literally and saw it as a factual description of how things are (which tangentially made him eligible to receive lots of money).

MechanicalTheatre Thu 28-Mar-13 13:25:06

I am the staunchest of atheists, very much 100% convinced there is nothing beyond science.

However, I find some elements of faith/religion very beautiful. It's hard to explain for me, but just the idea of such a profound belief that is at the same time so simple.

Phyllis, I don't want my sons to join the scouts, not while they still discriminate against children, but it would be nice for them if they weren't left out.

I mean it would be nice if they were the ones choosing not to join, not being told they weren't welcome. It is early here, not woken up yet!

Scientology is a religion - it's just a newer one. All the rest were made up by people who saw a way of controlling the gullible; the older ones are just percieved as more 'respectable' because they have been around longer. They're all bullshit, Scientology no better or worse than any other.

MechanicalTheatre that is a lovely thing to say.

aliasjoey I don't think you will find something that gives you a kind of smorgasbord of all religions. You'd have to try and hop from one to the other. I have been to a Sikh temple and had food there, very nice, and visited a mosque for a talk about it on a couple of occasions. I visited many Buddhist temples when is Asia and one Hindu one and also at least one synagogue in the UK a long time ago. If you are genuinely interested in visiting places of worship it is quite easy to gain access to them but I think learning what all religions believe is much harder.

I read about all the world’s religions when I was younger, I did Religious Studies A-Level but not sure how much of my study and reading was directly related to it.

My experience of Christianity began with me being invited to a church in my teens and I made commitment a year or so later. I will have been a Christian for 30 years next week, I have never regretted it at all, and it is wonderful. I am very lucky that my faith has grown and developed over the years and brought me into contact with some very lovely people. I know some people are very negative about faith groups and some have had very bad experiences and I am very sorry for that.

PS I love your dog photo; I clicked on your name by accident!

Nettee are you going to start your own thread about why Jesus is needed in the church. AS per your post at Wed 27-Mar-13 15:09:03 ??

I thought your comments were very interesting and I am sure that lots of people would post. I have only just read you post of

Slug I followed your link and listened, here

Chilling stuff but it is not real, it is a spoof.

Sorry Nette cut myself off there! only just read your interesting comment.

MyShoofly Fri 29-Mar-13 04:27:52

I would find it comforting to believe in a greater being and purpose

I would find it comforting to believe that when my loved ones die I will see them again. To not actally belive this can make can make me despair.

I was raised a Catholic and when I was a teen was an active Christian....but I was always plagued by serious doubts. There came a point where I had to admit I just didn't believe. That is not always an easy truth for me.

OneLieIn Fri 29-Mar-13 05:48:57

I would like to think that karma exists. What goes around, comes around.

sashh Fri 29-Mar-13 06:54:15


Not by me.

I dream of winning the lottery and setting up a community kitchen where people can learn to cook (if they can't already) and either take food home to their families or sit at a table and eat.

MyShoofly did you think of looking for a different belief set when you left Catholicism? Just curious.

Sommink Sun 31-Mar-13 22:36:11

I am an athiest. My dd is in reception and very much believes in God and I am happy to support her as much as I am able. She goes to Church with my friend as often as possible and when she talks to me about God and Jesus I listen and don't disregard what she is saying. I feel everyone has the right to believe if they choose to.

I probably use religious morals and beliefs because they make sense, being kind to people and showing respect is something I feel people should do and I try to do no matter what.

I cannot say I believe in an after life because I don't. At most I believe when we are alive we create our own heaven or hell depending on how we act. In the long term I know we are all energy and energy never dissapear's (sp) it just changes although to what once we die I don't pretend to know.

Sommink you sound really lovely and supportive of your daughter.

AfricanExport Sun 31-Mar-13 23:23:53

I too was brought up catholic and went to a convent school. A very religious family, my aunt was a nun.

I just don't believe in a god, I kind of think there may be a 'superior' being that was here at some point but it was an alien... Not a god.

I miss the community and think that we have lost / are losing the christian morals and values which are fundamental to society and underpin a lot of our laws. I think that religions allow us to 'judge' and keep a moral high ground thereby dictating acceptable behaviour in society, if that makes sense. I think we are losing this and that is bad.

So the Christian rules we live by are important but then I also find religion a bit of a joke. I mean look at how rich the rc church is... Surely they should be distributing their wealth to the poor, that is the Christianity that they preach, no? To me the church takes but gives very little back. Individual parishes may give but the church itself, as in Rome, does nothing but hoard their riches. Not very christian.

Wouldn't choose another religion though as I think that if you are going to base your life on a book you should not pick and choose the bits you agree with and oh.. there's a couple of things in the bible that seem ... Dodgy.

Hmm. What will you do if she heads in the direction of one of the arsehole cults when she gets a bit bigger eg comes home talking less about Baby Jesus and more about how God Hates Fags? Sure, not all the myth peddlers are racist, misogynistic, homophobic fucktards, but some of them are, and some people take those aspects of their faith more seriously than the hymn-singing and charitable donations. How much 'respect' does a superstition merit when it involves discrimination and obnoxiousness?

EllieArroway Mon 01-Apr-13 14:39:01


I think there's something profoundly comforting in the general idea that death is not the end, that all and any suffering has a "reason" and will come good in the end. It's because the thought is so comforting that religion persists. It's what people want to believe so they find a way to make it seem possible.

I've racked my brains and tried to think of whether there's any part of "faith" that appeals to me and I'm afraid that there just isn't.

If you're talking about faith specifically then not only do I find that unappealing, I find it immoral as a concept. It's asking people to stop reasoning and just believe. This is bad enough - but then it's held up as some kind of virtue, when it's anything but. There's nothing virtuous about credulousness and gullibility.

But if you actually mean "religion" (yours specifically), well I have fond memories of being at boarding school, sitting through interminable sermons on Sundays (although the curate was good looking, so it wasn't all bad) and us all rushing back en masse for our Sunday lunch. I have such fond memories of this that I almost regret that my son didn't have the same experience.

Some of the hymns are quite nice too. I quite often sing "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind" when there's no one around to hear. And, of course, many churches are lovely buildings, steeped in history.

But no - this is all eclipsed for me by the fact that the religion that produced this loveliness has, at it's very heart, the appalling assertion that we're all born sinners and can only atone for these sins by being grateful for an unnecessary blood sacrifice 2000 years ago.

No amount of misty eyed "respect for faith" can get me over this, I'm afraid.

greencolorpack Mon 01-Apr-13 14:44:39

Ellie, faith does not mean stopping using your mind. You can believe in God and still think very critically about things. In fact because ideologically you are in a minority in your beliefs, you are forced to think about how to respond to certain secular beliefs and concepts a lot more than someone at home in the secular world. It's a bit like how a Guardian reader might notice all the bias and propaganda and spin when reading the Daily Mail but she won't notice it in the Guardian because she agrees with the Guardians politics.

(This is a good example for me because I am left leaning and like the Guardian for politics but the way it covers religion is very sneery and secular and so I disagree with pretty much everything they say when covering religious stories.)

EllieArroway Mon 01-Apr-13 14:53:07

Is that really true, though green.....really?

Faith is belief without reason and/or evidence..... or even in the face of contrary evidence. That is what it means. And most honest Christians agree that there is no evidence for their God, which is why "faith" is so important.

When we think critically we evaluate evidence and we use reason. So, arriving at a conclusion based on "faith" is the very, very opposite of critical thinking, I'm afraid.

I think many people assume that because they've spent a lot of time thinking about the issue this equals "critical thinking". It doesn't - it's just thinking.

Faith is the fall back position when you want to carry on believing something that critical thinking does not support.

EllieArroway Mon 01-Apr-13 14:55:15

What's wrong with secularism, by the way? Do you think your religion has the right to be treated as "special" over every other and none? Because that's the alternative to secularism - which wants all religions and none to be treated equally in the eyes of the state.

I truly think most religious people don't really understand what secularism is - they think it's the political wing of atheism or something. Nope smile

greencolorpack Mon 01-Apr-13 14:55:58

Nothing wrong with secularism. Sigh.

EllieArroway Mon 01-Apr-13 14:59:20

Stop sighing at me please and be clearer if you wish to be understood. You said:

.....religion is very sneery and secular

Strongly implying that there's something wrong with secularism. Perhaps don't couple it with sneery if you think there's nothing wrong with it, eh?

greencolorpack Mon 01-Apr-13 15:03:04

There is something wrong with secularism from my point of view, which is a Christian. Other points of view are available. I am not trying to run the world, I do not want to tell other people how to live, I was making the point that to be a believer involves living in a world where people disagree with your morals, etc on a regular basis and you have to learn to live in that world which involves using your brain. You can't just switch off and let God do the thinking because the Bble is a 2000 and older year old document and you have to figure out how it applies to the modern world.

Can people please stop assuming I am a mighty Christian dictator trying to be power hungry and make everyone agree with me. I am posting from a Christian point of view... Relevant to the thread. I am not saying "Bow down before me secular minions for I am right about everything!". Lol

seeker Mon 01-Apr-13 15:08:49

But loads of Christians also believe in secularism. A secular society is one where nobody gets special treatment because of their faith- but equally are free to practice their faith as they see fit. I honestly don't see how anyone except those who wish to impose their faith on others could possibly object....

EllieArroway Mon 01-Apr-13 15:18:09

Can people please stop assuming I am a mighty Christian dictator trying to be power hungry and make everyone agree with me

Honestly, I'm not. Promise. I'm trying to clear up a very, very common misconception about what secularism is. It is seen, wrongly, as the political wing of atheism. It has nothing to do with atheism - lots and lots and lots of Christians (and Muslims) are secularists. It's about equality.

EllieArroway Mon 01-Apr-13 15:21:22

And yes, I agree with seeker - anyone who has a problem with secularism must, by definition, think their religion deserves a special place in our society, since that's the only alternative to it.

I don't think you actually think that, do you? Which implies that you've misunderstood what secularism is. And I'm not even criticising you for that - it's an amazingly common misunderstanding.

I have spent most of my adult life envying those on either side of the faith/atheism divide if they are happy and at peace with their choice.

I think the hardest thing to live with is agnosticism. Those with faith often say belief and doubt live side by side - that it is part of the human condition and not really an obstacle to commitment. I presume atheists are not immune to doubt either but for me it just feels a bit dishonest to commit to either side when I can believe and doubt ten times in the same day - so here I am stuck on the fence!

I have to say though, it takes a stronger person than me to sit at the bedside of a dangerously ill child, or care for a parent with early-onset dementia and not desperately hope that there is a higher power and some purpose behind it all.

I think most of us just want to gain a sense of peace/equilibrium through our beliefs and I think it seems possible with both faith and non-belief but I would be interested to know how others on the fence make peace with uncertainty - I know I really struggle.

greencolorpack Mon 01-Apr-13 15:56:18

Having reread the thread I never said I hated "secularism" I said the papers are sneery and secular. Which goes against my beliefs as a Christian. I stand by my right not to be saying anything about secularism either way.

EllieArroway Mon 01-Apr-13 16:08:27

Having reread the thread I never said I hated "secularism" I said the papers are sneery and secular. Which goes against my beliefs as a Christian

I can't see where I suggested that you did say that hmm. And I haven't read the whole thread, I am only addressing the remarks you made to me.

Secularity goes against your beliefs as a Christian? OK. Since secularity promotes equality by proposing a state that does not favour any one religion over another, then your Christian belief is that the government of us ALL should be partial to Christianity?

And then you get cross when you think we're saying that you want to impose your beliefs on us? Well, apparently, you do!

I don't actually think you do - and I still think you don't really get what secularity really means. But my attempts at explaining have clearly failed. Shame. Would be nice to try and clear that one up at least.

don't you see that linking sneery and secular in the sentence like that makes it look like you think negatively about secularism? You are saying something strong by linking the two.

For those who disagree about secularism you should try living in a theocracy where the main religion isn't yours for a while. I'm guessing you might not feel the same way.

greencolorpack Mon 01-Apr-13 16:51:50

Self confessed,it's just my opinion, I'm not ruling the world. Why does this turn into a discussion about secularism? I was trying to explain about how I can think critically because the world doesn't see things the way I do, how does this equate with my wanting to run a theocratic state??. I am the most mild mannered Christian I know. I barely even show up to church, I am utterly utterly powerless, I find it funny how threatened people seem to find my opinions. I don't like certain secular things, much like you might not like godly things, you see how it works having opinions? It doesn't make you Pol Pot, it doesn't make me the Pope.

seeker Mon 01-Apr-13 17:13:16

How do you feel about secularism, then?

seeker Mon 01-Apr-13 17:16:18

And I stand by my statement that opposing secularism means wanting faith to have special privileges- I don't see how it can mean anything else.

I agree with Seeker.

Either you treat all/no faiths equally or unequally. I also don't see a grey on this issue, if you aren't treating all with equal importance you are favouring one.

The problem with favouring one of course is that it might not be yours that is favoured.

Oh and I don't mind godly things. I'm not trying to convert anyone. I'm trying to let everyone be left alone in their beliefs.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 01-Apr-13 17:25:56

I don't like certain secular things

Which secular things don't you like? Perhaps that will help others to understand where you're coming from.

greencolorpack Mon 01-Apr-13 17:27:56

Elliearroway, getting back to your original point which I missed cos I only noticed your second post earlier... You said faith is believing Without reason and/or evidence.

I would say that's not quite a true picture... I have faith in God because of the person who is Jesus Christ. Now he lived on earth 2000 years ago and so I haven't seen him doing his thing and his miracles and I didn't see him die on the cross or get resurrected. So I suppose it does take blind faith for me to read about it and believe it happened from the Bible. If that is blind faith then yes, I have used blind faith to come to a position of belief.

However, I am not without reason and or evidence for my beliefs. Think of it like a bridge, where faith is on one side and non belief is on the other. The bridge is made of the evidence as presented in the Bible and in wider readings and in common sense (by this I mean, there is no real plausible explanation for how come Christianity got started if you don't believe that Jesus rose from the dead, there's no easy way to explain how a religion with a murdered leader went on to spread like wildfire across the world unless the tales were true, human nature would dictate that if your leader of your wacky new cult Christianity got murdered before your very eyes you would give it up sharpish in the face of hostile Jews/Romans etc). So it's a bridge made up of evidence and it's a incomplete bridge so I did take a leap of blind faith to get from me side to the other. But reason and evidence do come into it. They don't contradict the story. I'm not believing in Jesus while going "lalala I'm not listening" to all the evidence against him existing. Cos the evidence is actually in Christianitys favour.

Sorry if I seem not to understand secularism, I do understand it, I just don't want to get caught defending opinions I don't even hold.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 01-Apr-13 17:33:01

there is no real plausible explanation for how come Christianity got started if you don't believe that Jesus rose from the dead

So how do you explain the rise of Scientology, or Mormonism, or Hinduism? There's pretty convincing explanations for how religions spread without their basis being factual. Breaking the Spell by Daniel Dennett is a stimulating read on this topic.

seeker Mon 01-Apr-13 17:40:22

What secular things don't you like?

greencolorpack Mon 01-Apr-13 17:40:50

You would need to ask a Mormon or a Hindu or a Scientologist about these things Selfconfessed. I believe what I believe... Other religions are available.

greencolorpack Mon 01-Apr-13 17:49:20

Sorry I meant Pedropony not Selfconfessed. My bad.

seeker Mon 01-Apr-13 17:56:47

Sorry, did you miss when people were asking what secular things you didn't like?

greencolorpack Mon 01-Apr-13 18:00:16

I saw it Seeker.. I think it's an exercise in pointlessness to post about something I couldn't really care less about.

You are determined to see me as a theocratic despot... I don't fit the bill.

There are sneery secular things printed in the Guardian all the time, I invite you to read them and conclude "that's the sort of thing Greencolorpack doesn't like".

If the speed and reach of a religion spreading are a guideline to how true it is then you should probably be a muslim.

so how would you like us to keep referring to Christianity as smug, arrogant or pompous? Please try and be respectful of others beliefs.

seeker Mon 01-Apr-13 18:10:38

But you said specifically "I don't like certain secular things" I just seemed reasonable to ask you what they are.

I read the guardian regularly- and I agree that it is written from a secular perspective.

greencolorpack Mon 01-Apr-13 18:11:23

You can if you like shrug I don't understand what point you are making.

Every religion claims to be true, so it would be pretty pointless to be offended that Muslims believe Islam is true and Christianity is false. Of course they would believe that otherwise they would be Christians! And as for them being smug or pompous... It doesn't really bother me. Why should it?.

seeker Mon 01-Apr-13 18:18:30

So really, you want the conversation to be on your terms?

greencolorpack Mon 01-Apr-13 18:22:51

Seeker I tend to be interested in use of language because I did an English lit and language degree, I am interested in places where people play the victim in order to make themselves look good/the Christians look bad. So my best example of secularists playing the victim and trying to make the church look bad would be ... google "church targets two year olds", it's about the church making evangelical advances to parents of toddlers, which is surely what the church has done for thousands of years and not just in 2009... For me the use of the word "targets" makes the church sound hostile and militaristic and is the kind of headline designed to make secular readers shiver with fear and hug their poor two year olds closer...

I post this as an example. Please do NOT now assume I want to close down the Guardian and issue in a glorious theocratic world of oppression.

I would post a link but I tried that and it didn't work. The Daily Mail also have similar language in another article so it's not just the Guardian.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 01-Apr-13 18:23:55

You would need to ask a Mormon or a Hindu or a Scientologist about these things

I was asking you because you seem to conclude that the only possible way a religion could spread would be if its basic facts were true. I'm trying to understand how you come to that conclusion without believing all religions.

But it sounds like you are unwilling to actually answer any of the questions asked of you, so never mind.

greencolorpack Mon 01-Apr-13 18:32:37

Pedro I am a human poster, I am not some awesomely well read brain of Britain type sitting in a room surrounded by millions of books on comparative religion.... Are you like that? If you were that highly intelligent and high powered why are you posting on an Internet forum instead of being out there running the world? We make our choices in life, personally I am trying to raise my kids and work to keep a roof over my head and in my down time sometimes I post on the Internet.

If you really need superhuman highly intelligent posters to be worthy of your time in debating... Good luck finding them.

EllieArroway Mon 01-Apr-13 18:37:50


Do you think there's any possibility, in all honesty, that you actually haven't truly understood what secular really means? You seem to want to have it both ways. NOBODY is accusing you of being theocratic - actually, I've gone out of my way to say I don't think you're that at all.

Secularity removes religion from the state. This does NOT mean religion or religious practices are banned, but it makes the state neutral in these matters. So everyone is given the same rights as everyone else - the government does not play favourites, and treats the non-religious with the same equanimity as the religious. Hinduism and Islam (for example) have the same rights as Christians. No one religion gets precedence over any other when it comes to representation in Parliament, for example (as is the case currently).

It's about equality.

By saying that it goes against your Christian beliefs, you're saying that equality with others is not Christian. Really? Is that honestly what you think?

I have faith in God because of the person who is Jesus Christ. Now he lived on earth 2000 years ago Did he? Without resorting to hearsay, can you prove that?

So I suppose it does take blind faith for me to read about it and believe it happened from the Bible. If that is blind faith then yes, I have used blind faith to come to a position of belief Fair enough - but you cannot then take issue with me for raising my eyebrows when you claim your faith is based on "critical thinking".

The bridge is made of the evidence as presented in the Bible and in wider readings and in common sense (by this I mean, there is no real plausible explanation for how come Christianity got started if you don't believe that Jesus rose from the dead, there's no easy way to explain how a religion with a murdered leader went on to spread like wildfire across the world unless the tales were true, human nature would dictate that if your leader of your wacky new cult Christianity got murdered before your very eyes you would give it up sharpish in the face of hostile Jews/Romans etc)

The Bible is a book - words on a page. It was written by people who were already part of the cult - so not unbiased, impartial observers. Therefore, on it's own, it's not actually evidence of anything.

Your religion is one of over 10,000 that have existed through human history. They all got started with some myth that got bigger and bigger and bigger. That's what Christianity did, and it collected rather a lot of important people as followers along the way - people with the power to kill and persecute those who didn't adhere to the faith they favoured.

Christianity did not spread like wildfire around the world. And if your only defence is "Why would so many people believe it if it wasn't true" then kindly explain how so many people believe in Hinduism and Islam? They can't be true if yours is.

greencolorpack Mon 01-Apr-13 18:40:33

Also Pedro, I never said that that was the only argument that swayed me, I believe I said further up thread that I became a Christian through perceiving my need for God and then after that fact, I found the evidence to be persuasive, and so I do not present it as the only means to my belief system, but it's just one of the compelling arguments that I find quite effective.... You are free to disagree.

Also I think it's presumptuous of me to pretend I know all about every single world religion. I don't know many people who would fit that bill.

EllieArroway Mon 01-Apr-13 18:41:01

I just posted that while the conversation was ongoing - so have gone over the same ground. Sorry.

seeker Mon 01-Apr-13 18:41:45

recruiting drive targets two year olds

This is the article mentioned. It's about a plan to evangelise at, among other places, Sure Start centres.

The use of the word "targets" about a recruiting drive is surely perfectly usual? And the National Secular Society's objection in the article is surely perfectly measured?

EllieArroway Mon 01-Apr-13 18:42:46

I became a Christian through perceiving my need for God and then after that fact, I found the evidence to be persuasive

So you began with the conclusion and then found evidence that you thought made it fit, disregarding that that didn't?

I like your honesty. It's refreshing.

expatinscotland Mon 01-Apr-13 18:44:44

I like candles and incense, but that could also be because I was a massive pothead in my youth.

greencolorpack Mon 01-Apr-13 18:49:28

Ellie I ink you are twisting my words. I never said that I oppose secularism. I never said I love secularism. I said the papers are sneery and secular. That's what I said.

No I can't prove that Jesus lived two thousand years ago.

If you wanted to find out about Albert Einstein, would you believe books written about him if they were by his wife, children, friends, colleagues? Or would you reject all those books because of perceived "bias"? Would you rather believe a book about Einstein written by a janitor who once worked in a building next door to him? If he wrote "Einstein, the real story" by someone who never spoke to him, would that book hold more sway for you than the one by the people who actually knew him?

Jesus Christ is proven via what he said about himself and what his friends said. If that to you is circular logic then sorry. But if you want to know about Jesus you have to go to the source and that is the Bible.

Also why would a belief system flourish that is based on lies, when telling the truth is the basis for Christianity? Why would a religion based on truth be spread by people who were knowingly lying about the person at its centre? It wouldn't make sense.

I didn't say my faith is based on critical thinking (well it is but anyway) I was saying that living in this secular world requires a lot of critical thinking because this world tends to be at odds with the teaching of the Bible.

greencolorpack Mon 01-Apr-13 18:51:14

I am honest thank you.

I am mightily opposed to the idea that anyone can be argued into the Kingdom.

I realised I needed God, I am not afraid to admit that.

Hardly anyone becomes a Christian through arguments on message boards although I dare say it might help. I hope it does.

EllieArroway Mon 01-Apr-13 18:59:33

Ellie I ink you are twisting my words. I never said that I oppose secularism. I never said I love secularism. I said the papers are sneery and secular. That's what I said

I don't mean to. I'm pretty sure you said that secularism goes against your Christian beliefs, and that's why you have a problem with it. That suggests opposition of some kind, surely? Unless you are opposed to your own beliefs?

If you wanted to find out about Albert Einstein, would you believe books written about him if they were by his wife, children, friends, colleagues?

You're joking, surely?

The evidence for the existence of Einstein is overwhelming. So overwhelming I'm not even going to bother listing it.

The gospels were not written by anyone who ever met Jesus - or spoke to anyone who had. The first one (Mark) was written at least 30 years after he'd supposedly died by someone in a foreign country.

This is hearsay.

That you can compare Jesus with Einstein has left me rather shock. Most people go with Julius Caesar, although they're still wrong wink

seeker Mon 01-Apr-13 19:00:11

One of the things I find very difficult about some Christians is the way they seem to think of themselves as a persecuted minority. The example of sneery secularism given above is a case in point. The newspaper published a factual article about a church report on increasing the numbers of Christians in the country, in which suggestion is made that groups suitable for evangelisation includes two year olds at Sure Start centres. The headline is something like "Church recruiting drive targets two year olds". Which is, apparently an example of sneery secularism. Oh, and it happened in 2009.

EllieArroway Mon 01-Apr-13 19:00:32

Hardly anyone becomes a Christian through arguments on message boards although I dare say it might help But a few become atheists. Trust me, I know.

twentythirteen Mon 01-Apr-13 19:01:00

Your question, does anything about faith appeal to me, would I like to believe, made me pause as I haven't thought about it. I'm afraid to say on reflection that it is like asking whether I would like to have faith in fairies, father christmas, the easter bunny, etc., and would believing that they existed appeal to me. I wouldn't know any different. If they existed they might appeal to me, who knows? I see people writing here about community, but I have that and don't need to believe in a god to get it and feel happier that the people I'm in community with see the world in a way that I think makes sense and I can stand up to.

EllieArroway Mon 01-Apr-13 19:02:38

I didn't say my faith is based on critical thinking (well it is but anyway) I was saying that living in this secular world requires a lot of critical thinking because this world tends to be at odds with the teaching of the Bible

And thank goodness for that. Or we'd all be stoning our cheeky children to death instead of confiscating their XBoxes.

Soupa Mon 01-Apr-13 19:05:42

I was raised as catholic, family very devout. Much mass, prayer and retreat with catholic schooling too. Met many marvellous people, found school very respectful of belivers or non belivers of anything but I had my biggest moment of recognition when I read how man made god in his own image. It took an re lesson to confirm my disbelief.

I don't believe in much, just not wired for it. I can see benefits but many more losses.

monsterchild Mon 01-Apr-13 19:07:20

Ellie, I'd like to thank you for your very insightful comments. they have helped me tremendously in framing some of my own thoughts about religions, especially Christianity.

EllieArroway Mon 01-Apr-13 19:10:10

Thank you, Monster - that means a lot smile

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 01-Apr-13 19:22:14

Einstein died in 1955. There are still people alive today who met him. That is about the worst argument for the existence of Jesus I have ever heard. But to your point, I imagine there are plenty of things which have been written about Einstein which are factually inaccurate, but the difference is that he isn't the basis for a religion. The research he did and the theories he compiled have a very real impact on the world today (for example GPS systems wouldn't work without understanding relativity) so even if he NEVER existed, someone else clearly came up with the work attributed to him which we actually use for proper useful things, so it's really quite irrelevant anyway.

greencolorpack Mon 01-Apr-13 19:24:36

Pedro like I said nobody is argued into the kingdom therefore your goading "that's the worst argument ever" is something I am agreeing with! I know nobody can get argued into the kingdom. You are free to disagree with me, namaste, peace, shalom, please dial down the hostility.

I have a much more inner peace as an aethiest than I ever did as a Catholic.

In fact, having taken my elderly neightbour to Easter mass yesterday (she's barely been out the whole time there's been snow on the ground) I can say with much assurrance that I don't miss one single bit of the Catholic faith, mass or organised religion.

I consider my life to be much happier without any of it.

seeker Mon 01-Apr-13 19:36:51

Green- please could you explain why you won't talking about secularism?

monsterchild Mon 01-Apr-13 19:39:13

green I'm a bit late to this, but you know the US is a secular country, and that certainly has not stopped the creation of new religions, nor has it stifled any activities by existing religions in the country. In fact, I think that is actually a good example of why secularism is a good and healthy way to run a country.

I am still stunned that religion is so integrated with schools in the UK

The U.S is a reluctantly secular country though.

greencolorpack Mon 01-Apr-13 19:52:35

yes Monsterchild, I think I have said about three times now I am not pro or anti secularism, I haven't posted about that and don't want to because politics is not my forte, also when I post certain hostile types instantly assume about three hundred things about me. And all wrong.

seeker Mon 01-Apr-13 20:22:24

Well refusing to talk about secularism apart from saying that you don't like certain things about it is most certainly going to make people make assumptions about you. The only possible reason I can think of for not liking secularism is because you want religion to have a place in public life.

greencolorpack Mon 01-Apr-13 20:34:37

seeker, everything I do is wrong.

On the other hand you are never going to like anything I say so why worry.

seeker Mon 01-Apr-13 20:38:59

What on earth do you mean? I was only asking you to expand on something you've said already.

greencolorpack Mon 01-Apr-13 20:46:59

I said and I will say it again, I don't like the papers being sneery and secular. I'm a Christian. Am I meant to like that? Sneery secular newspapers?

I did not say "let's discuss my hugely strong feelings about secularism" cos I haven't got them.

Or if I did this is not the time or the place.

If you can't post somewhere without everyone leaping to conclusions about you you would do well to shut up. So I shut up. I am in no position to run the world or do anything about secularism, whether I cared about it or not.

Actually, the only good argument against secularism is 'Look at what a mess the Yanks have made of it.' Because they are officially secular yet have all sorts of problems with insane superstitious woman-haters running riot and imposing their demented bullshit on everyone. We on the other hand have a state superstition which is mostly woolly-headed liberal nonsense as opposed to violent nutjobs being given state backing to beat up anyone who doesn't obey their imaginary friend.

I tend to agree with seeker. Once you have opened up about something clamming up makes it more likely that people will make assumptions. If you had never posted then I would agree with you that people are unlikely to leap to conclusions.

As for you keeping repeating sneery and secular, I can only assume two things. Either that you feel secular and sneery are related and go together (more likely IMO because you won't separate the two) or you don't like the papers being either secular or sneery.

The first makes it seem like you count secular as a negative thing. The second makes it seem that you would prefer that the papers weren't secular, in other words you would prefer that our press had a religious bias.

I'm guessing it is the first and really what you are having the problem with is a perceived anti-religion bias which is completely different from them being secular.

As you refuse to elaborate we have to guess.

greencolorpack Mon 01-Apr-13 21:25:03

You don't "have to" do anything Selfconfessed.

Why not start a new thread about secularism so you can find a worthy debate opponent as I'm not it?

seeker Tue 02-Apr-13 00:22:50

Greencolorpack-you said there ere certain things you didn't like about secularism. You were asked what those things are- a simple enough question, but you won't answer. That is very, very odd.

Hi Ellie thank you for your thoughts. You said that all and any suffering has a "reason" and will come good in the end. That's not how I see faith. I hate suffering and think we are called on (if I can put it that way) to make people's lives better and not to perpetrate suffering, if that makes sense. There is a sense that (for me) part of faith is that in the end things will come good, but that in no way excuses suffering or allows us to cause it. I know many Christians who work in places to provide medical care etc or teach in schools etc in places overseas where they are needed because they want to make people's lives better. There are a lot of Bible verses about justice but I won't get onto quotting them because there are also a lot of things in the Bible I don't understand and I guess I would say that for me it is what people do which really explains their faith.

You also said It's asking people to stop reasoning and just believe... And also, personally, I don't think my faith requires me to stop reasoning.

I am just not sure how to explain this to you in a way that makes sense (assuming you would be interested in my doing that, of course you may not, so feel free to ignore of course!). You are assuming because the actual belief in God requires faith and not logic that there is no logic involved. Is that right? For me the faith part came by critically evaluating what I was told, and emotionally connecting to it. The best example I would give is a man saying he loves me and me believing him. I would have no evidence for this, but there might be hints in how he treated me/behaved around me etc. If he ran into a burning building/over a cliff for me etc, to save me and being injured or even losing his life for me, would that prove it for me? Maybe yes, it would, but still not sure that is evidence that would satify a scientist. So once I am convinced he loves me, (assuming here he did not lose his life) the rest of our life together is us working out what that love means, and that does require thinking. I know it won't make much sense and you don't need to believe me, but it does need thinking. I don;t just accept what I am told by the person in the pulpitt, the person in the dog collar etc etc.

Wickipeida doesn't seem to define Critical thinking as something that can be exclused from religious debate.

Yes, there was a good looking curate in my past too Ellie! wink It is lovely to hear of the bits you like. (I mean this genuinely, I always try and say what I mean.)

I think if green does not want to talk about what she thinks about secularism she should be at liberty not to do so.

Why not ask me what I think about secularism?

seeker Tue 02-Apr-13 01:38:47

She is of course free not to talk about anything she doesn't want to. But bearing in mind she raised the subject , in the circumstances conclusions will be drawn.

greencolorpack Tue 02-Apr-13 08:17:34

good post Italiangreyhound.

seeker Tue 02-Apr-13 08:58:40

OK, Italiangreyhound- what possible reason can there be for not liking secularism?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Tue 02-Apr-13 09:39:35

I don't like the analogy of love that always gets used. It's not the same at all. When someone tells you they love you, that in itself doesn't mean a lot, in fact, it's pretty difficult to know for sure if anyone ever loves you, even if you could actually define what love is. There are demonstrable actions one could take to prove that they would anything (or at least almost anything) for you. If that satisfies your definition of love then that would be evidence. One could have their brain monitored to demonstrate specific neural responses to you which are known to relate to attachment, this could satisfy a different or extended definition of love. But the term 'love' itself is a human invention with as much ambiguity as the term 'god' so before you answer questions on it, you must be able to define what you mean by it.

Chances are that what we perceive as love is actually more to do with a mutually beneficial partnership with another human. Our brains are geared towards making emotional attachments with people who can extend our existence and encourage dopamine release.

greencolorpack Tue 02-Apr-13 09:44:28

Pedro you sound like an incurable romantic! Lol

Yes, I agree Pedro: not least because 'love' (that is, romantic love in particular) is not a magic that works outside of people's volition. Person A can love person B very much, but person B might not reciprocate, might even want to take out restraining orders against person A. Person A's feelings of love may be powerful and sincere, but that still doesn't put person B under any obligation.

However, person B exists. (On the whole... let's not go down the side alley of nutters who marry cuddly toys etc). A person's relationship with a god is all in the person's head.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Tue 02-Apr-13 11:27:40

Don't get me wrong green just because I look at things objectively doesn't mean I'm incapable of romantic gestures! grin

I don't always analyse everything like that, only when I need to actually understand what's going on!

AfricanExport Tue 02-Apr-13 11:29:17

Also why would a belief system flourish that is based on lies, when telling the truth is the basis for Christianity? Why would a religion based on truth be spread by people who were knowingly lying about the person at its centre? It wouldn't make sense.

Sorry, got to butt in here.

Of course it makes sense. have you not heard of the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades? Rome forced most of Europe into Christianity. The Slaves and Native americans were forced into Christianity in the States (if I am not mistaken). Believe of Die.... Well lots of people would suddenly believe.

Just as lots of North Koreans support the Supreme Leader... They have to or they die.

Forcing people to believe something and then indoctrinating their children does not prove anything.

It has nothing to do with faith.

LizzyDay Tue 02-Apr-13 11:44:42

Agree AfricanExport.

Actually even 'normal' evangelicals (without guns / torture to back them up) are pretty scary - playing on people's loneliness and insecurity in a persistent and bullying way in order to convert them.

Emphaticmaybe I don't think you got a reply yesterday, yes being agnostic can be very hard, it's really quite nice having certainty one way or the other. Hopefully you'll get your moment of clarity, whether that's being sure there is a god or there isn't, I think it's individual to all of us and not necessarily something you can reason out.

John Humpreys wrote quite a good book on it called In God We Doubt, it felt good reading it a few years back, at least to know it wasn't just me thinking that way.

greencolorpack Tue 02-Apr-13 11:52:12

AfricanExport there is a difference between the flourishing of Christianity while under persecution and the flourishing of supposed religion by force.

Christianity flourished when it was a persecuted minority religion. If the founders were knowingly lying they would have recanted long before getting put to death for their beliefs, wouldn't you? If you were claiming your saviour was alive while knowing he was rotting away somewhere you would admit it for the sake of an easy life. Who would die for a lie? It's a different thing from Spanish Inquisition etc which is an abuse of power.

greencolorpack Tue 02-Apr-13 11:53:02

Fair dos Pedro Pony I am sure you are romantic in the right context. smile

EllieArroway Tue 02-Apr-13 13:51:33

Green Honestly, I do genuinely think this is all to do with your initial misunderstanding of what "secular" means. Of course, you don't have to talk about anything you don't want to, and I'm sorry if you're feeling got at, but what you are saying is truly not making sense.

As Spoons pointed out, a "secular" newspaper article would be a neutral one....and you see this as a bad thing? The alternative would be a biased one and why do you think all newspapers should be biased towards Christianity? (You could try the Daily Mail if that's what you want!)

Hi Italian

Firstly - I also loathe the "love" analogy in these discussions. One of my favourite films is Contact (my user name is Jodie Foster's character in it). In one scene, she's talking to the priest love interest and he says "Did you love your father? Prove it" and she looks all confused and stumped. Grrrrr. Makes me shout at the screen - what kind of atheist & scientist wouldn't immediately challenge that?

Love is an emotion and we demonstrate those to each other through behaviour and behaviour = evidence. That man you meet - would you be willing to believe that he loved you if he provided absolutely no evidence of it? No, you'd dump him. And us parents - do our children have no evidence of our love? Then we are monumentally shit parents, aren't we?

Evidence is a body of facts that points to the truth of something. If I had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law that I love my son, I could. There's a wealth of behavioural & circumstantial evidence I could bring to the table from my own testimony and that of others. If I really wanted to prove my case, I could have brain scans that shows certain activations in my brain that neurologists have identified as the "love" zone.

Know what we call people who believe they are loved by someone without any evidence at all? Stalkers.

So, sorry - the love and faith analogy simply doesn't work.

I know many Christians who work in places to provide medical care etc or teach in schools etc in places overseas where they are needed because they want to make people's lives better I know many atheists that do that too - and Hindus and Muslims. So what's so special when Christians do it? Would they not bother if they weren't Christian? If their Christianity is what compels them then I think the atheist going the same work is infinitely more moral because we don't need to promise of a pat on the head from God. An atheist doing good things does it simply because it's the right thing to do and not to impress a celestial dictator or because we're part of his gang.

And also, personally, I don't think my faith requires me to stop reasoning Few Christians think it does. But as I've said before - thinking long and hard about something does not equate to critical thinking.

To do the latter, you must begin at the beginning and take a neutral stance . You must look at the evidence from all sides and reach a conclusion from that. When people are willing to do that with true honesty then 9 times out of 10 they lose their faith because they suddenly see that it's not reasonable or based on any evidence of any kind.

Faith is the deepest of hopes & desires mistaken for knowledge. But it is a mistake, and not one that any person would make in any other area of their lives. Evidence matters, always.

EllieArroway Tue 02-Apr-13 14:03:00

Italian You do seem a little wary of me and keen not to offend - please don't worry. My diatribe on the other thread is because of some nasty comments I've had before that I haven't forgotten about. Nothing you could say would offend me, I promise. I admire anyone willing to speak up about the things they believe - it's the ones who get stuck and then start name calling that I lose patience with. If you don't do that (and it doesn't seem likely) then I promise I won't.


greencolorpack Tue 02-Apr-13 14:21:42

Ellie I don't really want to talk about secularISM because that is a political stance.

I could have said "anti Christian" newspaper reports but that doesn't reflect the fact that newspapers are anti Muslim and anti other religions too. Secular is a jargon term used within churches to talk about what is not Christian so it may be I am using a word that instantly confuses/enrages people. Life is hard enough talking about religion without getting into politics as well which is why I am studiously not trying to post a party political broadcast on behalf of the Greencolorpack party.

I think you are being hugely idealistic when it comes to people coming to faith. Who really chooses a religion after a lifetime of comparative religion study? I bet nobody in the world gains or loses faith after such study. Atheists become atheists for all kinds of irrational reasons, just like Christians become Christians for all kinds of irrational reasons. Atheists might have met a brutal and unloving parent or authority figure who was religious. My mother in law rejected it all because of some brutal nuns at boarding school. I became a Christian through the example of my excellent and decent sister (among many many many other reasons note I am not saying that was the ONLY reason). And I remember atheist friends of my atheist mum saying in all seriousness that they thought my sisters belief showed she was mentally ill. I lived with my sister, the most sane and rational person i know and instantly moved closer ideologically to my sister and away from the atheists and their beliefs (this was when I was a teenage agnostic).

Faith in anything including atheism comes through irrational life experience and through the relationships we have with those around us.

EllieArroway Tue 02-Apr-13 14:27:39

I have been discussing this issue with Christians for a long time and the reasons and "evidence" that are given for their faith are broadly as follows:

What it says in the Bible (in various degrees of literalism)

That Jesus existed as a man and Christianity could not have grown the way it did if he didn't rise from the dead

Most people in history have believed in some god or another. Are they all wrong?

Nothing can come from nothing - something caused the universe and we call that something God

Science can't explain everything

Science and religion answer different questions

Person X was riddled with tumours that suddenly disappeared after they were prayed over. The doctors were all stumped

Faith is a gift from God. If you had it, you would understand

Human morality makes no sense without God or some greater purpose. If we're just biological creatures and there's nothing after death, what's the point of being good? What's to stop us all from running out raping and murdering each other?

Religion is good for society

Religion makes people happy and gives them hope

The Watchmaker analogy (beloved of creationists, but still often used by more sensible Christians)

Earth is perfect for us & provides all we need. That can't be coincidence.

God always answers prayers - his answer is either yes, no, maybe

Einstein/Newton believed in God

I had an experience that simply cant be explained. I don't expect anyone else to believe me - but I know it was God

You can't prove God doesn't exist

and, for good measure because I see/hear it ALL the time......

Shakespeare said: "There are more things, Horatio.........."

Now I'm not saying that all believers on this thread have used these arguments, so I'm not putting words in peoples mouths. But I would be amazed if the "evidence" people think they have for God doesn't fall somewhere into these categories.

Me, and every other atheist here, can show beyond any sensible doubt that not one of these arguments provides the slightest, tiniest shred of evidence for any God, let alone the Christian one.

When we say there's no evidence, that's what we mean. There truly isn't.

EllieArroway Tue 02-Apr-13 14:38:07

Atheists become atheists for all kinds of irrational reasons

Not the point. You are conflating atheism with theism - there's no equality there at all. Losing a belief (if you had one) is not the same as gaining one.

I am an atheist because I have no reason not to be. My lack of belief in your God is identical to your lack of belief in the 10,000 other gods human beings have worshipped. Why don't you believe in Lord Vishnu? Whatever your reasons, those are mine for not believing in your God.

Not believing in something is NOT the same as believing it. I don't need to give any reason for not believing in something other than that I see no reason to. A person who adopts an active belief in something (anything, not just God) should have good reasons. Because theists actually don't, and never have had, good reasons for their belief, faith was invented - and this is the great get out clause. "No reason to believe it's true? Never mind, just have faith. That's reason enough". It's a con trick, nothing less.

I do like your acknowledgement that your faith may not be entirely rational. You are, of course, completely entitled to feel that way and believe for whatever reasons make sense to you - but this does contradict your earlier assertion to me that you arrived at your faith through critical thinking. I don't think you did, and I think I've shown that, which is all I set out to do.

Lunch break over smile

greencolorpack Tue 02-Apr-13 14:42:27

I used critical thinking at some points of the experience. I think italian explained it better than I do so let's not go there again.

Nothing you say will stop me thinking that atheism is a belief stance and therefore is as irrational as any religion you like. Sorry but there it is. Playing "I'm more rational than thou" is just kind of amusing. We are all irrational, yes even the atheists.

Speak for yourself, I've never felt more rational.

greencolorpack Tue 02-Apr-13 14:53:52

Ellie doesn't your post above prove what I said above that nobody can be argued into the kingdom of God? You should thank the God you don't believe in that he gave you free will to reject him as much as you like. You would not be happy if God suddenly appeared in the sky ridding the world of all doubt. You wouldn't like that. You should be glad you have the choice to reject Him and he respects your free will.

I'm assuming you posted that big long list in the hopes of goading Christians to come up with "new" arguments that you won't reject. Well the goading doesn't really work if the Christians have been debating this for years. Which I have. So if you reject all the evidence, thats fine. I will pray that one day you feel the need for God and then I hope you investigate the subject thoroughly. But in the meantime... Nobody can be argued into believing.

seeker Tue 02-Apr-13 15:02:19

". You would not be happy if God suddenly appeared in the sky ridding the world of all doubt. You wouldn't like that"

Actually, if that happened, I would cheerfully say "oops, I was wrong". That's the difference between rational people and theists. If I was presented with compelling evidence for the existence of a god, I would accept it. Theists are constantly being presented ith compelling evidence that there isn't, but continue to believe in the face of that evidence.

greencolorpack Tue 02-Apr-13 15:07:47

No Seeker you wouldn't! You would be very annoyed. You like not believing. You like being an atheist, a lot of your pride and identity are tied up in your convictions.

MechanicalTheatre Tue 02-Apr-13 15:10:57

Ellie, Einstein didn't believe in God.

seeker, like you, when faced with indisputable evidence, then I would believe. And would have no problem with it. I mean, it would blow my mind if there was a God, but then the universe blows my mind every day. I find the idea that we could have evolved from gloop into these walking, talking, thinking, feeling beings who put such value on things that don't matter at all completely bonkers. Far more bonkers than the idea of a big man in the sky. If anything, the God thing is more believable than the evolution thing, because seriously, wtf?

seeker Tue 02-Apr-13 15:16:36

It really is completely impossible to have any sort of conversation with you, green, isn't it? You won't answer direct questions, you won't believe what people say about themselves......just bizarre!

greencolorpack Tue 02-Apr-13 15:21:17

In the Bible Jesus Christ met many people and he did his miracles. Some of the people who saw his miracles would have been the ones who wanted him crucified. Some of them accused him of "having a demon.". Even when he was patently doing the will of God.

So even if you saw "indisputable evidence", if you didn't want to believe it you wouldn't. Simple as that.

Mechanicaltheatre I agree about the amazing world we live in. For me the miracle of childbirth is mindblowing, even if it can be explained rationally.

greencolorpack Tue 02-Apr-13 15:22:46

Seeker, I have to frame what people believe through the prism of being a Christian much as you have to through your beliefs. I don't understand why that is hard for you to understand.

seeker Tue 02-Apr-13 15:28:19

So "seeing something through the prism of being a Christian" means saying "you have said this thing about yourself, but you are not telling the truth"?

I have no idea what you mean by your references to Jesus' miracles.

greencolorpack Tue 02-Apr-13 15:31:46

You are telling the truth but I interpret your words as per Christian thinking. Is what I did any worse than demanding someone explain their stance on secularism even though they didn't use that word?

Personally I find it really interesting to talk to people who have a different ideological outlook to mine, it's just fascinating. I'm not at all threatened that people don't see things the way I do. Can you say the same?

MrsHoarder Tue 02-Apr-13 15:35:40

green I would never wish that someone feels the need for God, because that usually only happens after a painful life experience which is not something to wish on anyone.

As for God appearing in the sky, yes if He did that I would obviously believe in Him. Now, would you change to Hinduism if Svayam Bhagavan appeared or would you remain a Christian against evidence that another religion is "right"?

seeker Tue 02-Apr-13 15:47:39

I said that if I was presented with incontrovertible proof of god's existence, I would cheerfully admit that I have been wrong.

You told me that I wouldn't. How is that interpreting my words per Chriwtiqn thinking?

And I asked you to explain your stance on secularism because you brought up the idea! You were the first person on this thread to mention it.

greencolorpack Tue 02-Apr-13 15:53:35

Seeker, Saying the papers are sneery and secular is not bringing up secularism.

I believe you are too wedded to the concept of winning an argument to be honest about what might happen when faced with God. I say that based on how you come across as a poster. Maybe I am wrong about that but I doubt it. For you being rational is everything. Being able to put down irrational Christians makes you feel good about yourself. I am glad to provide that service to you.

MrsH maybe I would. I don't know, I will let you know when it happens.

seeker Tue 02-Apr-13 16:03:34

"Being able to put down irrational Christians makes you feel good about yourself. I am glad to provide that service to you."

What an extraordinarily offensive thing to say. One of the most offensive things anyone has ever said to me. I would actually quite like you to reconsider and apologise.

MrsHoarder Tue 02-Apr-13 16:26:52

Green this thread was opened to promote discussion between athesists and Christians. Throughout it you have been critical of atheists and seemed to be looking to start a bunfight and ignoring reasonable questions. It isn't reasonable too tell people weep came in a genuine spirit of discussion that they are closed-minded just because they don't have the same beliefs as you.

(Remembers why I avoid faith discussions)

MrsHoarder Tue 02-Apr-13 16:28:03

And why can't we let you know if God appearing quips change our views when it happens?

greencolorpack Tue 02-Apr-13 16:37:55

mrsH sorry if you've given up the discussion I have been thinking about your words all day... Interesting to think that if I wish for someone to need God then it means I am wishing them ill to befall because that is how people find faith. It's interesting that you say that. It's not really true of my life, I mean I wasnt dramatically unhappy or bereft when I perceived my need of God. And it might not be true of others but it does come into it. If you are at your lowest ebb that might well be the point where you reach out for a higher power greater than yourself. That isn't happening on this thread (as far as I know, but then who knows what personal circumstances draw people to this thread on a message board). I only posted it because that is how I came to faith. Possibly CS Lewis came to faith through reasoned argument but I bet he also had other factors at play in his life.

And I don't wish anyone ill, finding God is the best experience of your life and the most important as it concerns where you spend eternity (ie a very long time) so its more important than anything else you might be doing with your life.

seeker Tue 02-Apr-13 16:42:45

So you are standing by your extraordinarily offensive comment to me? You are not even going to offer me the courtesy of further explanation?

greencolorpack Tue 02-Apr-13 16:51:29

seeker what is the point? You don't like anything I say ever. It's wearing to deal with. How about you just ignore me?

seeker Tue 02-Apr-13 16:57:20

That is not true. And even if it was, why does it give you the right to be offensive?

EllieArroway Tue 02-Apr-13 16:58:28

Ellie, Einstein didn't believe in God

Er yes - I know. That is a list of "evidences" that tend to be produced by Christians to "prove" their God. My refutation to that would be that no, Einstein didn't believe in God.

I can refute all of that list. That's the point!

monsterchild Tue 02-Apr-13 17:06:40

Green, now you're getting all smug and prideful, knowing what other people would do in a given situation.

And actually, studying other religions is what made me not able to believe in your god, or at least, not give your god more weight than any other god out there.

greencolorpack Tue 02-Apr-13 17:06:41

What gives you the right to keep goading away needling at me the same question over and over about something I wasn't even posting about? Or telling me what I believe in an attempt to goad me into answering? And then I did answer, I came up with a reason to not like the media re toddlers and the church targeting them, I don't remember you thanking me for taking the time to research that on Google. No you just posted like I hadn't said anything. Now come come let's not derail the thread with white noise, let's shake hands and agree to disagree. We will never agree on anything and neither of us like being offended.

EllieArroway Tue 02-Apr-13 17:11:34

Ellie doesn't your post above prove what I said above that nobody can be argued into the kingdom of God? What it proves is that people don't use critical thinking to arrive at their beliefs. They may think about them - but there's nothing critical in their thinking. Are you ready to concede the point, then? It was YOU who challenged me on this.

You should thank the God you don't believe in that he gave you free will to reject him as much as you like. You would not be happy if God suddenly appeared in the sky ridding the world of all doubt. You wouldn't like that. You should be glad you have the choice to reject Him and he respects your free will

I'm not going to address any remarks, thanks or otherwise, to something I don't believe exists. How peculiar that you think I should.

Free will? Love me or you can't come into my magic kingdom. Or worse, suffer an eternity in Hell. This is leaving aside the obvious fact that if your omniscient God exists, free will is impossible.

You would not be happy if God suddenly appeared in the sky ridding the world of all doubt. You wouldn't like that. You should be glad you have the choice to reject Him and he respects your free will Actually, I'd be fascinated if such a thing happened. I don't hate your God, and I haven't "rejected" him anymore than you hate & reject the Easter Bunny. I don't believe it exists. Have you fully grasped that?

If evidence of a compelling kind were presented for your God, I'd believe it. Whether I'd worship or love it is another matter (very unlikely if it turns out to be Yahweh) - but I'd believe it. I'm an honest, curious person - I want to know what's TRUE, regardless of my personal feelings.

seeker Tue 02-Apr-13 17:15:17

I responded to your post about targeting two year olds (actually linking to the article) at 18.41 yesterday. You ignored my response. You said there were "certain secular things" you didn't like, but refused to say what they are.

And now you have publicly said an incredibly offensive thing to me. And now you're saying let's agree to disagree! Well, no.

greencolorpack Tue 02-Apr-13 17:17:14

mrsH. I ignore "reasonable" questions precisely because I am seeking to avoid a bunfight. Maybe the questions are reasonable but they require far too much explanation to answer than I have the time for, ie if I say "I believe this" I think there are many people on the thread who read what I say and hear "I want to run the world and this is what I would do if I was running the world" and then argue with me like I was a politician when I am not a politician. I'm just a person with an opinion, just like the next person. I can't stand being treated like I am a dictator dictating terms hence I ignore reasonable questions about secularism.

EllieArroway Tue 02-Apr-13 17:20:02

Nothing you say will stop me thinking that atheism is a belief stance and therefore is as irrational as any religion you like

You're just wrong then. I could try to explain it, but at this stage you've closed your ears haven't you?

EllieArroway Tue 02-Apr-13 17:24:59

No Seeker you wouldn't! You would be very annoyed. You like not believing. You like being an atheist, a lot of your pride and identity are tied up in your convictions

That is quite offensive, you know. You are very particular that we don't all brand you as something you're not, and then in a fit of pique you say that to someone you've never met?