Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mawwage Is What Bwings Us Togethaaa Today

There's a lot of things I am grateful for in leaving the Mormon faith. To a practicing, active, temple-going Mormon (haha) these things may seem completely backwards. And that's okay.

Last year, in my ups-and-downs with faith, religion, god, and everything else, I sometimes thought that I should just throw myself into it. You know, just become immersed in the gospel. I served my mission in the southern states, we had anti every day, I read the Book of Mormon tons of times, D&C, the PoGP (a personal favorite) and half of the OT, and nearly the whole NT (I still have those 90 pages left, I should just do it). I studied a lot, and I had a lot of fun doing it. Especially when I went 'apostate' on my mission I tried to be 'good' by reading Deseret Books, a couple dozen. Point is, I got into it and last year I wondered if I should become an apologetic for the church, in some sense.

Phew, boy am I happy I didn't do that. I still have some Mormon doctrinal books that I probably will read at some point, but really I am not that interested anymore. The last book I read from Deseret was Holding Fast, about faith. I had wanted a book about believing in God that actually had some worth to it. Never could find any, not really anywhere. My other religions library is decently small, about 12 books, and a third of them are related to the Dalai Lama and Buddhism. C.S. Lewis makes up another third, I love C.S. Lewis, but he really has some interesting history and useless points now that I'm not Christian. My example - his proof of God being that because we can imagine God and can hope for a God, yearning he says, because of that yearning there must be a God. Again, I love C.S. Lewis, I love his stories and philosophies, but some things didn't sit right with me even from the beginning (such as A Grief Observed).

But C.S. Lewis made me think there could be a God, so I thought, maybe I should focus my whoooooole life around the scriptures and God and make a career out of it, somehow. I always enjoyed teaching on my mission, I've been told I am very sensitive and inviting in conversation and explain things well. I enjoy preparing lessons and teaching 'doctrines of j-dog,' mainly by allegory or metaphor from the Pearl of Great Price. In particular the Book of Abraham.

In a way I miss all of that. Teachings lessons in Sunday School and on the mission. Giving talks, reading scriptures and coming up with doctrinal points that were never intended by the original writer. But I have my atheism and agnosticism to work through, and that is plenty.

The other issue, though, was marriage. I'm a bit of a romantic and most of my life (except last summer and for about 2 weeks earlier this month) I've always been interested in having serious relationships with girls, looking for marriageable partners. Of course this meant I wanted to get married in the temple. Luckily now I can look forward to, someday, marrying a dirty, godless, apostate, atheist girl! Woot!

One problem with Mormon girls is that so many of them don't really like sex. I use 'really' as a qualifier, a lot 'like' sex, but not entirely, and most don't really like sex. Which is me. I really like sex. In fact, I may venture to say I really really like sex. Not just homebase, but all the bases and even the outfield.

I think I can say this about a lot of Mormon girls cause even outside of BYU I've heard them say, "no, sex will be great, but it's gross" or "I don't think you should talk about before marriage" or "having sex everyday wouldn't be right, it would invite Satan into the marriage," or worse "I plan on praying every time before we have sex ... and I don't think you should do anything else but sex."

Some of these are extremes, yes, but for me hearing those things was terrifying and instantly those girls were scratched off my mental 'potentials' list. By the time I got off my mission I decided I wanted a girl who was a convert, had a dirty history but had repented, and had done some introspection into her sexual appetites. I couldn't handle marrying a girl who only occassionally would be interested, or didn't like talking about it before marriage. The horror stories of those few unlucky men who married the girl who was really grossed out by it or wasn't interested, even after getting married, really scared me.

So then last year, when going back and forth in faith, at a couple points I thought I should just marry the first girl who came along and was interested in me. I thought, "boy, I should just get married in the temple, right now, cause it could save my soul." That I needed to marry some deeply religious girl, regardless if our sexual drives lined up or not.

And again, I am so happy I didn't. Doubly more now due to recent events. But I think I could've seen me doing it if the timing had been 'right' (or horribly wrong) with any old girl who showed interest. Luckily most of the time I went on dates or had a fling was also when I was really doubting. Thank you brain for saving me.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More Podcasts For the Wicked

It's about time I give another update on podcasts. I only have so many books I've read and doing another post will get me near to catching up with my reading ... which has gone way downhill since starting fall classes and getting a girlfriend. My poor brain. Some of these podcasts are new to me, but I will give them a little sponsor.

This little podcast took me a while to get into, and it's ... okay. It's called Atheist Talk. Grant Steves is the host for the newer episodes and his smugness really irks me. Ugh! But the episodes are less than 30 minutes long, and generally there is always a guest speaker or a panel. Kind of like how Apologia has gems in it, this is the same. Even the Mormon episodes were pretty well on. The podcast is also usually pretty considerate, unlike one particular podcast I will comment on later.

This is worth a taste test if you think you'd like short episodes and all-around decent material.

This is a newer one for me, I started weeks ago, but I didn't really get into it till last week. The Humanist News Network is actually better than I thought it would be, professional, guest speakers, just listened to an episode on Ethics Culture churches which was really interesting. Only problem? - Jende sounds like he's whining half the time and it bugs the hell out of me. I don't know what it is with the hosts on these podcasts but they bug me. Though I can look past it for the material.

If you have any interest in humanism in general and more ethical things, then this is a good podcast. Episodes have ranged on topics from women's rights and prostitution, to ethics churches, to the atheist buses, to book reviews.

Skeptically Speaking is a little different, atheism comes second. Topics range from alcoholism, gender and the skeptic community, and an episode where she speaks with a mathematician who gives us estimates on how many wafers would be in the body of Christ to how many orgasms will happen across the world in the next 3 seconds. Desiree is a fun host and good interviewer.

If you are into the skeptic community but not necessarily big on atheism, then this one is good. Lots of topics and ideas thrown around. The episode on the 'problem of choices' was very good, at least to me.

Irreligiosophy. Lol. If you want to hear some rude, disgusting, bigoted, hateful, prickish remarks then listen to these guys. It is fun to do while working, or if I want a good laugh, but these guys are bad. Ex-Mormons, a lot of their stuff focuses on Mormons. However they have ventured out into other realms to talk on other things for their listeners.

This podcast is a double-edge sword. Sometimes they bring up some amazing bits of information I never new, or Chuck gives some really good point on philosophy or something. But then other times I know they are wrong on something, ignorant, or sometimes I'm not in the mood to listen to them. If you think you'd be interested then give them a try. Just about any hour-length episode will show you how they are. I honestly love this one ... but at the same time ... well, it vents my ranting side, I'll say that.

I hope these four gives any of you readers at least one podcast to try out. I recommend trying at least one anyway.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I'm An Atheist ... Kind of

One nice thing about being an atheist is that there are not necessarily any codes or ideas you have to live by. We all agree on at least one thing, sort of, and disagree about many things. Another nice thing about this is if someone comes to debate you on your 'beliefs' they have no footing, especially if they don't know you. I like being able to say, "Uh, no, that's not how I think at all." Or, "I don't believe that."

So I will attempt to classify myself. I partially am doing this to take a break from homework and cause I'm short on time and brain energy, but I hope it's enjoyable all the same.

Atheist - I am an atheist ... most of the time. Well, part of the time. For shock value I'll tell people I'm an atheist, but generally I introduce myself a different way. I need specifics to say I'm atheist to a particular god. If you say your god controls the weather to reprimand the wicked I'm gonna call bullshit and say that I do not believe in a god like that. I'll say that the Mormon god does not exist ... cause it doesn't.

Agnostic Atheist - I call myself this most often. I'm also fortunate to have all the atheists I've asked clarify that they would say they are agnostic atheists when it comes down to it. I'm sure there are plenty of true staunch atheists, but I haven't had any tell me that. I leave room for doubt because I really don't know. Given the way the world is, how religions act, and what people are like in general, I don't think there's any sort of higher power, anyways not one that wouldn't be indistinguishable from super intelligent alien life-forms.

Agnostic - Not so much here, I don't like being wishy washy, but let me go to the next.

Agnostic Deist - There is some appeal here and it is reasonable. If you don't think so do some research into why people are deists. I also like deism cause it is so versatile and open to differing ideas. Also that generally deists recognize that religious gods are full of crap. I for one do not like a lot of things about deism though, but I admit I cannot know if there is some form of a deistic god. I will probably write about deism in the future (among the other dozen or so promised posts I've made).

Anti-Theist - Yes and No. I want a world with no religion, but I'm not sure that will happen, and if it happen soon it would probably not be a good thing. However I think religion helps people to do immoral things, and crazy people to do even crazier things. I recognize good that comes from religions though, I happen think Mormonism is 'okay,' but in the end I'd rather the world was not enveloped in lies.

Secularist - Moving more into cultural and political realms I am all for separation of church and state. I in fact enjoy looking up creationist trials and court rooms extravaganzas just because when it comes down to the pavement creationists just perform so poorly. I also have long held the notion that most values, worth their weight, do not need a god in the equations. Secularism works fine in many countries.

Humanist - Not yet, but someday I expect to count myself as part of the humanist movement. But for now I'm focusing on other things.

Spiritualist - Not really, though I like to look for beauty and awe in life. But do I wander off into the woods to find my inner material soul ... no. Perhaps I'm treating this shallowly. Being an agnostic about deism I am at least partially a spiritualist, and spiritualist ideas and philosophies are very appealing in a kind of sci-fi way. Eastern thought interests me.

Materialist - Yes, but I don't think there's a bottom-most turtle. I also don't think there's a beginning and an end to 'time' or the universe or cosmos.

Skeptic - Yes, but I am still very close to my family cynicism and history. I grew up gullible till about 13 or so, and now I doubt things automatically. It's good and bad, but it helps me to look into things.

Free-Thinker - I think I identify with this the most, as to why it's last. I like the idea of a religious-less society that is not communistic or dogmatic, but allows free inquiry, criticism, and an openness to ideas. Obviously there are limits (Pandas and People) to how open we should be, but I think a society built on progression and criticism would be good.

I could easily write a whole post on any one of these areas, but I hope this was a fun little read. Sorry spiritualists if I seem offensive, but you're just gonna have to deal with that.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Future

Is looking good but difficult right now. I'm in a long distance relationship (now) where we wish to end up in the same place but I'm about 16 months behind her. Makes me think about things more in those regards, especially since we have really hit it off well, at least from my point of view. At least we have plenty of things planned to see each other.

Also I got accepted to UofU ...

But this brings all sorts of other issues up. Transferring means switching schools, which is a big deal, but I will be closer to some people who I consider friends. But then I'm further away from people who I call my friends down here in Utah Valley. Switching also means I lose out on some credits, but I don't know how many that is yet. Plus I'm not sure if I can count as a resident to lower the tuition. Plus I have to switch tuition forms an such over to UofU.

All of this kind of worries me. I'm ready to switch, and my GPA is only going up, so I could try to transfer for summer classes and stay at BYU for winter semester. Plus my contract goes till summer which will be hard to sell. Ugh, so many things.

Right now I like the idea of just staying and transferring for summer classes, but I also hate BYU's winter semester. I get one more week off for xmas with UofU and spring break, and then I still end only a couple weeks after BYU. Oh, decisions decisions.

Friday, September 24, 2010

9-Page Reply #5

Hello readers and followers. I’ve decided to move on to Demosthenes review of my ‘No Use’ Credo, which I was quick to point out that it is a fun but shallow document though I have no intention of changing it. But Demosthenes and many of you may agree completely with any statements I make about it that are in complete opposition to what it says. I will also point out that some of my lurkers and followers have mentioned that they like the points that Demosthenes brings up, so I’m glad you guys enjoy it. Oh, sorry, guys and girls – for Marco. First, however, a moment to comment on a comment.

My moderator side is coming out in me. On one of my posts about my atheism I went into my wonderfully horrible love-life, which has greatly improved in the last few months, and now especially within the last few days. Marco made some comments about it, relating my hatred towards women when dealing with romantic relationships as racist, telling me I’m in immoral horrible person, and saying how happy he or she was that I was at BYU where I won’t get laid any time soon. I decided to give a decent reply, to which Marco made a rather nasty reply. I didn’t even know about it cause it was automatically put into spam and I ignored it till now. Let me just say this:

That post I made is an angry bitter post, and I clarified myself by replying to the comment. Maybe I should say that I don’t really act like that, but when I wrote the post I certainly felt it. I enjoy that Marco can be so vulgar in his or her reply that the site automatically marked it as spam and that Marco says they are more moral and ethical than religious people and almost all atheists, including me. What I am surprised about is that I am trying to take this seriously. Lastly, as a slap in the face in case Marco reads this, I actually have been in a couple relationships recently, and this latest one is truly amazing and wonderful. Sorry to disappoint you, but I am a pretty decent person, even if my blog sounds hateful sometimes.

So moving on, I did not make it out of the house last night to go to Godless Coffee or the presentation on the genetics of homosexuality. I missed out definitely, and therefore cannot write about it, sorry I let you down noble readers. But that’s that, moving on to the credo. Demosthenes took it one point at a time, I will split up this post and do another over the weekend. I have revised the credo a little, so there may be some differences in order and phrasing. Here goes:

I have no use for a religion that does not practice equality.
Haha, I purposely made this vague. It was a catch-all, not directly towards the LDS church, but women’s rights came to mind when I typed it out. Also the one thing I clarified very quickly a few posts later. The LDS church does not treat women equally, but should we all be treated equally? Depends on what that means, I guess. I think we deserve the same level of happiness from life, to be paid the wages we deserve depending on our actual work, to receive similar opportunities, but I say similar on purpose. Should fire stations lower the physical requirements to be a fire fighter so that more women can be on the force? I don’t think so. But a women who just meets the requirements and is as good as the lowest male on the force obviously should be allowed in. Note, due to genetics I probably wouldn’t even meet the requirements and that’s fine by me. In the LDS church plenty of women do feel equal and are fine, possibly because LDS theology says women generally are better than men. I hope this is enough on the topic. Go back to my old reply on this if you feel I haven’t.

I have no use for a religion that purposely hides information regarding its own history from its members.
Uh, who does have a use for a religion like this? But then, what religion does this? The LDS church certainly doesn’t teach about the Kinderhook plates in Sunday school, but are the apostles purposely going on trying to hide the history? Especially when members print books like Rough Stone Rolling or The Mountain Meadows Massacre. I’ve talked on this before as well and I agree with Demosthenes, you have to be careful where you put the blame in the LDS church. Historians may tweak things, the hierarchy may hide some things, while members may just be ignorant of things, it’s all a mix, and generally done for ‘benevolent’ reasons rather than outright lying.

I have no use for a religion that looks down on women in the work-field and men who stay at home.

To which Demosthenes says, what about women who stay in the home? And he’s right. Please refer back to my first posts on the 9-page rebuke links to cover my ‘feminist’ views. This is also a rather shallow statement since even the LDS church doesn’t teach anything against this and plenty of members are okay with people doing this, though they may find it odd. Atheists shouldn’t just take the extreme that now that you left the church you shouldn’t be a stay at home mom, some men and women want to be stay at home parents and who are we to tell them how to enjoy life?

I have no use for a religion that says homosexuality is a perversion.
This one is literal. But Demosthenes brings up, what if it’s seen as deviant, and then that gets into cultures and norms, which definitely are transient. But I think if a religion says homosexuals are perverts, horny bastards, and that they don’t know what love is, which sounds like some things said with Prop 8, then that religion needs to change.

I have no use for a religion that has leaders in the present who are in complete contradiction to leaders of the past, and yet says that they always speak for God.
Actually, I do have a use for this religion. For a religion like this I automatically get doubtful, I mean, look at Brigham Young and the Adam-God theory. But a religion like this has a chance of progressing and contributing to the world. It is a little immature for me to say that Mormonism was revolutionary in its founding but is stuck back in the 1800s. In some ways it is, but mostly the church evolves, almost as well as the Catholic church has. They both need to change more, but they do try to stick with the growing trends in ethics and morals. I’d have to say I don’t even agree with this statement, lol, just because I think a religion that evolves could help the world become a better place.

This, of course, is a long post already, but I will do a couple more.

I have no use for a religion that says you must pay tithing to avoid being burned when Jesus comes back.
I think you should be suspicious of a religion that says paying them money not only means you won’t burn when Jesus comes back, but that this commandment is the only one with a blessing that promises more rewards than you can receive. However, Demosthenes says it all – “There’s a discussion to be had on this one, but no space to do it justice here. Suffice it to say that tithing allows you to be free of guilt for enjoying 90% of your possessions in the face of abject poverty in Africa.” Well said, lol.

I have no use for a religion that requires you to believe specific things that there is no proof for.
Mormonism is a little unique cause I’ve been finding that a lot of churches don’t really care that much on the specifics of your beliefs, just like how many Catholics don’t really believe in a trinity.

I have no use for a religion that says being ‘intelligent’ and ‘learned’ is a bad thing.
Yes, this is very LDSian, and it isn’t so much that being smart is bad, but being too smart for God, in the sense of pride. Pride probably is not a good thing to nourish in your life. But, also, if you have a cultish religion the best way to keep it going is to avoid secular education and learning, so ….

I have no use for a religion that only has men in the power seats.
Demosthenes agrees, nuff said. I think Marco would probably agree too, but he or she is too busy demonizing me.

That’s probably good enough for now, this actually will take longer than I thought. Maybe I’ll plan on spacing them out more. Still, I like the debate. Night.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

9-Page Reply #4

This week has been rather intense and I am unreasonably busy right now. It is nice to know a good dozen or so people who could be on campus at any point during the week who are also atheistic, I sometimes run into them. It was sad to say goodbye to Heretic, but that’s how it goes when you have a life, I guess. I wouldn’t really know, my life is this blog and hating the church, or so the Mormons tell me. And in that, my life is very poor right now cause I’ve only made one post this whole week.

So plenty of things are happening. I almost swore in front of a bunch of BYU students, which is always fun. I was mentioning that they needed some more blue papers, or blue sheets, and I had written it as ‘BS.’ Telling them this I said, “We need sheets where I wrote BS, which means bullsh-“ which I stopped in time. So I have about 12-15 people all around and not a single one smiles or even smirks, they all just stare. I laughed nervously, a little titter (which is a wonderful word that sometimes causes tittering itself when said), but no one else did. Not one. Talk about awkward, sorry I almost swore, I promise to repent later … maybe.

But now it’s time to continue with some random thoughts from the email I got. I’m getting down to the end points of it, though I need to do a post on the No Use credo, and I’ll eventually make a post on why science disproves a lot of religious jumble, and throws doubt on entire religions. Those require some thought though, and today I have very few thoughts going on in my head. First, though, I want to clarify Demosthenes intent with the 9-page-rebuke, which is what I named it, not him. His intent was not to change my mind, or to argue, it was a simple, albeit long and thought-out email, nothing more. I took from it that I shouldn’t be so hateful sounding, be more reasonable, and to use the email to critique my opinions and views. That’s my whole purpose for doing this, and also to explain things I’ve said. Now on to the email:

I’ve said that I choose atheism over agnosticism (though I call myself an agnostic atheist in regards to religion and god) substantially due to the emotional appeal of having a clearer stance. I am unsure if I can say the same of religious folk. Demosthenes pointed out that this is a rational thing to do, and I think he’s right, people who have brain damage and no longer feel emotions are very handicapped in their choices and actions. It would seem that emotions are very important. So should I give religious people some slack? Yes and no.

The religious person who is similar to me would say, “Yes I believe in a God and I know some gods definitely do not exist, but I am open to the idea that my God may not exist either.” I think a person like that has enough doubts to act morally when commanded not to by their religion, pastor, or holy text. If the person is a religious bigot though, then I have not only the right to call them out, but a responsibility to do so. Religious people with too much faith are dangerous. I think faith and belief have their place, but I do not think that faith is a prime virtue. It is too blind in its view of the horizons, and in its capacity to progress. So to say the 100% theist who knows God hates me and is sending me to hell is rational, seems stupid to me. But, and this is for Demosthenes, the same can be said for the 100% atheist. If they truly know there are no gods I want to know how they know that beyond a shadow of a doubt … whatever that shadow of doubt really is.

I have many times said I am open to the idea of a god, and I am. I think I have become dogmatically set against joining a religion though. When kids come around I may lax my opinion though. I don’t have much use for them, but I have many times pointed out that I recognize they accomplish some true good in the world. And if religion, in general, is holding the world together then it certainly is much needed till we fix that problem. I brought up the example of seeing a vision of the universe, the beginning of time, human history, god and that god telling me that ‘he’ is god. Now, this most likely won’t be happening to me and I can’t say I know how I’d react, but I tend to think I’d believe something like that if it happened to me. Maybe vision is incorrect here? If god appeared and showed me the vision and I knew I was awake and coherent, yes, I think I’d believe. But if ‘he’ (or she or it) told me to go back to the Mormon faith I’d have some questions first.

Demosthenes brought up that Harrison’s book, 50 reasons etc…, probably is a cheap punch. I agree, though I still enjoyed it immensely. However, millions of people hold the beliefs that he is punching at, so I don’t think it’s too cheap. I’m under the impression that anyone can give a reasonable argument for just about anything, given time to research it and lay it out, and with enough intelligence in their heads. Having said that I think it is only fair to get rid of or in the least to attack the horrible reasons people give for believing in gods. Harrison brings up some good ones, some pretty legit reasons, but he also brings up horrible ones, such as “I believe in a god because some other smart people do” or “I believe in god because atheists are such jerks.” Lol, now, I actually have heard these, and sadly if I had been asked if I believed given these statements I would have said at different times, “yes, those make up part of my belief system.” Every religion has smart people, with college educations and doctorates. Some more than others though. This, I think, just goes to prove more strongly my earlier point of being able to reasonably defend any belief you have given time and knowledge to do so (with enough cherry-picking too). The second one, atheists are jerks, is actually why I didn’t become an atheist last summer, over a year ago. I started meeting some online, only knew of a couple within my friends, and thought, “boy, atheists are angry, maybe they are full of Satan’s hatred.” Okay, not that bad, but it made me doubt if atheism was a good thing. Now I know plenty of happy and nice atheists, and plenty of atheists who are angry towards religion, but not much else.

Mansel’s book on making meaning was decent, but Demosthenes says atheism is ultimately meaningless if we have no afterlife and we all die when the earth is burned by our dying sun (as it expands, or as our gravitational pull changes, etc ….) In that sense atheism is more bleak than eternity. But I have a hard time believing that my life is meaningless because I’ll become nothing at some point, or because all human life will become nothing eventually. What I’m doing right now seems meaningful, gives purpose, supplies pleasure. It’s only a blog, but it’s a nice little thing to do. Being in a loving relationship is that only tenfold, hundredfold if the relationship really takes off and becomes much more. Being told that, in my view, what I do now means nothing doesn’t make much sense. I feel like I mean something and that what I do means something, that it has an effect on the universe, even if it’s small. The existence of an afterlife does nothing to affect those effects.

And with that, I’m done for now.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Atheist Girls!

This is my first short post in a long time. So my blog has caught the attention of a few people, like Hermit, or Heretic, or Anonymous #3 or 4 or 5 depending on how many of the other Anonymous's were the same person. Luckily these people are all girls, and in the area! Too bad for Marco's wish that I would have a hard time getting laid. However, talking to girls who I am not involved with and are atheist helps to calm down my bitter hatred, and then having one of them being just a little interested in me awakens my tender side.

So SHIFT is fun, and there's a social next week. Me and St. Pickle may check out a free-thinker group that meets in SLC as well. Also we had another postmo party with the underground group down here.

It was fun.

Played rockband for the first time, did good on medium even. Still didn't drink at the party, though I think there were tequila sunrises going around, or at least could've been made.

The nicest thing was that there was a lot of new people. And a lot of new girls. I even got Anonymous #3 or 4 or 5 and Heretic out, and they both enjoyed it. Enjoyed it a lot actually. Plus they came to the SHIFT meeting on Sunday, them and a guy I met at BYU. He actually didn't find me through my blog but because he looked through the people in an online atheists group or something like that.

I recommend checking out St. Pickles blog if you feel like listening to a newer atheist ramble on about his thoughts and philosophies. The amount of back and forth he has with himself is great. Disheveled just started her blog and promises to be a 'cute' undertaking, lol. Heretic's blog is very daily life in it's feel, but being that she's a cool and fun girl, also good to follow, though she needs to be less distracted by boyz and write more.

I miss Godless Coffee though, I haven't been in three weeks with all the gay BYU meetings (called USGY, but I never remember what it stands for). Lol. And I had missed the Sizzler meeting last month. I need to get back to my roots. One nice thing though, bringing a carload of 5 people to SHIFT from BYU (uvu too) and bringing two girls to the party yesterday. Yeah, I'm a missionary for the godless.

(also, short post and yet so many labels).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

9-Page Reply #3

Moving on to ethics and theidiotcy, I mean, theodicy. This is a long post and still incomplete. I will write about ethics at later times, but this touches on it. Feel free to read or not read.

Note: I make it clear in this post that I am working on my ethics, and maybe we all are. I say this because you could easily attack things I say and I'm saying that you may need to lower your standards, this goes for anyone who reads it. I believe that ethical systems are more diverse and more numerous than there are religions!

My ethics are evolving and I expect to make many mistakes during the next few years while I rewrite my standards. Some things obviously have not change, I still don't believe it is right to 'murder', and I don't ever plan on driving after having a drink, and have avoided that very well so far. But my ethics on using the Lord's name in vain seems pointless, except when concerned with company, and my sexual ethics probably need to be looked into very deeply.

One point made by Demosthenes was actually a misunderstanding of the point I was making, but I do not mind clarifying. I said that Islam and Mormonism have some similarities in that they accomplished some good when founded but have not moved on to better, higher morals, or have not done so easily. That was the point in that statement, as simple as that, only to assert that from my limited historical knowledge on the subjects the two seem similar and this is why.

It is my understanding that Islam actually helped women a lot when it was started, that the sexism was much greater beforehand, and that their lives improved under the religion. The same can be said of Mormonism under Joseph Smith and even under Brigham Young. Women allowed in the church with men, (mostly normal though), women received temple ordinances, and even some received the second anointing, women given rights to vote in Utah (which was then taken away by the government so women could not vote for polygamy so the government could free them from suppression … lol). Islam, I believe, was a religion that said you shouldn’t kill infants just for being born and unwanted. In fact, I believe Muhammad said that the parents would go to hell for doing so.

In the context of the times the two religions brought about some good. It often seems, to me, that new religions generally improve on the moral standards, which tells me that we do evolve to understand our own morals and are evolving in a more moral and ethical direction. Blacks and the priesthood took a while, the LGBT community will probably be similar to that.The two religions have plenty of differences, and I was never meaning to imply that their original ethical systems were very similar, they aren’t. Next in the email was my comments on feminism, which I felt I had said poorly and quickly replied to last week. Generally, my views on life decisions and goals focuses around whatever makes people happy, obviously with some qualifiers attached though.

Humanism is not something I’ve gotten into very much. Most of my understanding of it comes from podcasts where there are humanist guest speakers or hosts. Honestly I want to get into it more, but with classes and work and girls I am generally pretty busy, and still have a dozen books I’m currently reading, though I am almost done with three of them. I am hesitant to copy n paste part of Demosthenes email, but he makes a good point and is well said:

While secular humanism may have a coherent ethical system, there is no good reason for the assertion that humanist ethics are superior to any other system unless there is a creator or an afterlife. Environmentalists that fight water rights based upon the assertion that some obscure endangered fish is more valuable that the humans fed by California’s crop fields have an equally valid basis for their assertions as you do, assuming that there is no God. If your dog whom you love and a stranger were in a burning building, there is no reason to save the stranger over your beloved pet unless you have the belief that man is in God’s image and is therefore more valuable in an eternal sense. You can assert that sentience gives man more value, but that’s a little self serving, isn’t it? And isn’t it a little bit convenient that the secular humanist ethicist is building upon the foundation of a Judeo-Christian civilization? Ever wonder why there was no similar ethic developed by Hindus in India, Buddhists in China or Japan, or Muslims in the Middle East? The central tenet of secular humanism, that ethics is based upon the effects of actions on human beings, rests upon the idea that humanity is in God’s image and therefore more valuable than cockroaches. Any other basis is self-serving and therefore untenable.

One thing: the connection of a “creator or an afterlife” probably should read “creator AND an afterlife,” cause I think an afterlife could exist without a creator and that the two are not intrinsically connected, and also that an ethical system with a creator but no afterlife seems to have some issues with its basis.
Now, that secular and humanist ethics are built on Judeo-Christian foundations is no problem by me. Moderate Christianity, in my mind, does have some of the best ethics in the world, you can pull out a lot of good things from the Bible, as long as you leave some of the Bronze-age things behind.

I am not speaking for humanists here but for myself, and I say that cause I understand what I say next may not be the best thing. But I have no problem forming an ethical system that holds humans higher than other living things purely for selfish reasons. Now let me expound. I believe that, as humans, we are all connected. Through evolution we are eventually connected to everything else. Through families we are much sooner connected to other human beings. Through society we are connected to everyone around us. This interconnectedness is one basis of my ethical ‘beliefs,’ that being connected we have a responsibility to look out for each other, as a whole. Through close relationships we gain deeper responsibilities, often through emotional connections. Going down this road of emotions then we bring pleasure and pain into the picture. I like pleasure, I don’t like pain. A serial killer finds pleasure causing pain to others, but I have not heard of anyone who truly enjoyed being butchered, betrayed, hurt, or not allowed to do what they wanted to do. Meaning, even the serial killer doesn’t want done to them what they do to others, if only for the fact that wouldn’t be able to continue living the way they do. This is a form of the golden rule, which isn’t perfect and I won’t go into it all yet. I plan on writing a post some time in the distant future on ethics, and now is not the time to write pages more on it. I will say that a question system possibly would work – meaning questions you would ask yourself related to your ethics to help you make a decision. But more on that later.

Without God you do run into problems, because I do know of some people who probably would save their dog before a stranger. And that is an issue. I don’t feel learned enough to deal with this problem, and I think if I had a solution I would probably win a Nobel Peace Prize. However, I don’t think religion is all that much better. If you have a God in your ethical system is there anything you do that doesn’t have some sort of reward or punishment attached to it? In the Christian view you either go to heaven or hell, generally. Every action means something, accepting Christ means something. Religions with justice-centered gods do not allow true altruism. They do not allow you to do good actions purely for goodness’s sake. An atheistic worldview probably doesn’t either since it admits people like to do good things because they feel good. Just that feeling removes true altruism, even if they receive no reward. Generally religious people believe they will receive a lot of rewards in the hereafter.

But Demosthenes brings up a good point about human worth in the theistic worldview. At least with a god you ‘can’ believe that you are more important than other living creatures. From an atheistic view that belief does not hold very strong. And maybe this is me admitting that I have not studied and pondered on this enough, but really, honestly, I don’t really care. I think our morals are being discovered, and when a Mormon supports Prop 8 because the prophet said so, but doesn’t feel right in their heart … this is a sign that we discover our morals, and are evolving them. The world is far better today than before. Crime still exists, pain and suffering still exists, but it doesn’t take a very hard look into the past of human history to see where we have come from. There will always be crazy people and sociopaths. But when people are raised well, raised to be free-thinkers, and in a society that meets their needs, then the people will 99 times out of 100 come out okay. That’s my belief, I will write more on ethics at some time, but this is it for now.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Atheist Books Part 2

I wish to take one more break from my 9-Page Reply posts. I'm guessing I'll be making three more reply posts, one being focused entirely on my credo, which actually does deserve some criticism. I'm honestly having fun replying, but I wish to continue some of my older posts. I debated on doing my second podcast review, but I'll wait on that for another week so I can decide if I like one of the podcasts I started last week.

At BYU today we had Elder ... hmm, one of the apostles, I've already forgotten, come speak at devotional. I had a smug smile knowing that nearly everyone was there while I was at work. It was nice, and I celebrated by listening to an atheist podcast while the devotional was happening.

I'll continue my atheistic books I've been reading, now into last winters books. On to more books:

Aronson is from Michigan, where I am from for anyone who doesn't know. Boy, that narrows me down for the BYU secret police! Considering my positive Mormonism post though I think I deserve to be let off for all the horribly true things I've said against Mormonism though. But I digress.
This book started off slow. Aronson comes off as some old guy, with some good thoughts, some well-deserved wisdom from life, but no real philosophical training. Anyways, that's how I felt. The first half drudged along, but the second half really inspired me. I need to reread it since I read this one last winter. The black and gold cover is very nice, the second half of the book had some good ethical ideas that made me think. Like I said though, I need to reread some of those later chapters. But I recommend this to anyone who wishes to read a more positive and 'fair' atheism, definitely not a new atheist-type book.

This little book is a gem. If you don't know anything about Ingersoll but think secularism is good ... then at least get this little book. I don't know if he was full of cliche sayings with a twist, or if he coined a lot of these, but he uses so many phrases and sayings that I've heard that I wonder if he legitimately came up with a lot of these. I won't spend the next 30 minutes trying to scrounge up some of them though, you'll just have to check it out.

I can't say I know a lot about him, but I grew to appreciate him after this little book. I really enjoyed how he was so open about his agnosticism, his disdain for religion, and being a moral upright person just to piss off up-tight religious folks.

The first of the four horsemen for me to read. I actually love this book. Sure, Hitchens is an angry bastard, but he brings up so many good things in this book about how religion 'does' poison everything. The title can be misleading, it says God is not great, but the book mainly gives reasons for why religion is not great. This is true. This book did little for me to think that there isn't a god but it did help me to become more of an anti-theist.

Hitchens colorfully goes through the darker side of religion, women circumcision, baby boy circumcision and horrors from that, religious involvement in wars, in particular world war two, how religion affects our worldview and therefore how it poisons everything, and many more things. He brought up things I had heard about or studied in my youth, and then completely new things. He even lent some objective views by offering both sides to some things, such as Catholics involved in the pogrom of the Jews but then Catholics who were heroes and saved Jews.

The book was a very good read, certainly the best book so far this year that I've read, the top out of 34 so far. And in the top 5 for the 3 years of reading, which includes that second half of my mission. Funny story - I was introduced to this book by a class at BYU. It was a Psychology of Religion class where we did not talk about the psychology of religion, but rather the debate between naturalism and supernaturalism and if naturalism should even be trying to study religion. I hated the class after a while. Especially when we took Freud as the example atheist in all his weirdness and depression. We read excerpts from many books, including Hitchen's. Of course the chapter we read was only his introduction, which tells his funny story about his religious schoolboy years, briefly, and that's about it. No meat, none of his arguments, just an introduction. But it was enough for me to be interested in the book.

The title is not reason alone to buy this book, it's a bestseller because, in my opinion, it really is a good book, and dishes out some well-deserved criticism against religion and theology as a whole. This is my big recommendation for this post. Next time I will return to the 'reply.'

Monday, September 13, 2010

One Problem With My Atheism

Nothing better to sit down with a member of the opposite sex and talk about our sad love lives.
(Author's edit a month later - being that this post gets a decent amount of hits, probably due to the pictures, I have to clarify how bitter I was during this post - I was very bitter. Clarification done. Presently though I am feeling much better, very happy, and in a good relationship, go me.)
This is mostly a personal post. Some believers who read this may see it as a victory for the cause of their god. Let me just say that religious gods do not exist except on paper, in people's minds, and other nooks and crannies of the human body. If they do exist, then I haven't seen a religion that wouldn't make me laugh. ... Take Pentecostals for example.

I've been beating around this topic for a while, but I finally feel embittered enough to bring it off - queue your angry screamo music now.


See, this is an area of my life that I've decided I will never recover from. I got really depressed three years ago, got real bitter last year and also very misogynistic, then had a ray of hope over winter, followed by heavy depression, then had a near recovery this last month, and now I am completely embittered. All dealing directly with love and relationships. As long as I feel this way now then I might as well write about it - for entertainment value, and because I find it easy to talk about this when I'm angry ... it feels more natural.

See, without eternity then love doesn't seem too meaningful. I don't know why, my logic tells me it should be MORE meaningful, but I don't feel that way. I feel like I shouldn't bother loving someone, just using them. Not completely though, getting to know someone is nice, being friends is nice. But why bother going for something more?

I fell in love with a girl, before mentioned as 'Auds' in my blog, in high school. We were high school sweethearts. Trying to make this brief - we had met years before, talked little, teased each other a lot, then one school year we began to actually flirt, grew close, realized we both liked each other, and started dating. After a month I told her I thought I loved her and she said the same, and by a year later we both felt we truly did love each other. While gone to college it was a struggle and we broke up once, for a day, over the phone. She also decided to cheat on me, set it up even, but then didn't keep going with it after she was in bed with the person and making out. Biggest mistake of my life - I forgave her.

Got back from college and we crossed all the lines in the half year before I left on my mission. Got to know each other in every way, all of our greatest desires, our horrible interests, our disturbing sides, our dreams and aspirations, and we helped each other a lot in getting over our faults and insecurities.

Went on my mission and within a year she broke up. Stopped talking to me for months, no reply, then she emailed me after my birthday, a friendly but loveless email. I had been in the denial phase up to that point, and after that I took the step over into rage. Pure rage. I was so distraught, filled with anger and sadness that me and my companion didn't go out for a week, and I actually lost a lot of weight. I have to mix sadness in cause I was beyond depressed, but I was also completely enraged and couldn't even bring myself to cry, not even once.

This post is a mix of explaining my atheism, a problem with it, and just putting more of my butt-hurt, bitter anger with my love-life. See, I never recovered from that moment. The rest of my mission was filled with apostasy cause I couldn't bring myself to be obedient again. And after going apostate I realized that no one knew, or much cared that I was apostate on my mission. We still got baptisms even. But my view of God had been traumatized, and I hated him for a long part of that.

Auds eventually wanted me back, and began talking about us when I would come back, she felt bad for what she had done. This inspired me to be more happy. I realized that me and her could be together, but also that it didn't matter as much if we didn't. However, not hating God made no difference. I couldn't 'feel' the spirit like I had. And I wasn't looking at 'miracles' the same anymore, or even faith. In those couple months of anger I had become disillusioned to faith and god. I had realized that my actions didn't have any effect on eternal matters. Everything I did on my own could bring 'natural' results. If I simply taught lessons, half-rate cause I slowly stopped bearing my testimony, the people could still be baptized if we just kept at it. Feeling slightly hypocritical, and unsure, I began reading lots of books, and this is how I read 85 during my last year of my mission, and even finding my first atheistic book.

Auds played 'jerk the chain' with me. She eventually stopped talking to me again and said she had a new boyfriend. Then she went back to college and started talking to me a lot more again. Then it died off, and the last month of my mission I never heard from her. By the time I got home our 'meeting each other' moment had dried up to me going over. She looked wonderful, gave me a hug, a looong hug, and we went into her room. I had burned her a cd, we talked for a while, then I asked why she had stopped talking to me again. She had been a shy girl when we had started dating and I had helped her overcome that to a degree, but she still is a people-pleaser (not a compliment) and was having issues telling me why she had stopped speaking again. I ventured a guess, and she said I was basically right. Then she looked at me, and told she never wanted to speak to me again, hear from me again, or have me involved in her life ever.

I was pretty depressed after that and we catch up to my earlier timeline I gave at the beginning of this post. Having someone as special as her tell me that to my face really affected my self-worth. In the last 6 months though I've gotten over that a lot, and her personally, but the whole matter is still stuck with me. I get a rush of blood to the head when I see a picture of her, I get saddened when I'm reminded of her in my weekly activities, and I feel very bitter towards girls in general.

Recently I got into a short relationship that rejuvenated me in a way, which others in the last 2 years hadn't. It meant something to me, and it brought a little life back to my 'heart.' But in the end it's ended and only left me with open wounds dating back to Auds.

So now I don't feel I have any need to look for love, or to expect anything from it if I think I feel the tingling beginnings of love in my mind. Thanks to Auds I was tipped away from God and once I began recovering I couldn't find my way back, eventually being true to myself and my views and becoming agnostic, then finally stepping over to atheism. Thanks to Auds I probably am broken and am carrying a lot of baggage, and what girl wants that? Perhaps some, and perhaps I'm being melodramatic, but I was fine being 'loose' last year, and I haven't been fine worrying about love during this last month. I think it's about time I stop worrying about love, and just do what I want, when I want. Not expecting anything out of anything I do in regards to relationships. Sure, love could 'find me' but I'm sure I'll be open to it when it does. Ha, maybe not though. For now, I'll be bitter, I'll be hurt, I'll be mean.

In the end, the primary 'tip' I got was a girl. Without that I probably would still be active in the LDS church, full of doubts, but still believing it was very extremely true. Without the mission I probably would be with Auds and still believing, forever stuck in lesser-Mormon limbo. So it's freed me as well as chained me down. From my chains I guess I'll just seek carnal 'love.' It worked last year and I was still slightly religious then.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

9-Page Reply #2

And here I was thinking I’d be making fewer posts. I honestly like arguing and debating on the less shallow levels of atheism, theism, god, etc... and so replying to the 9-page rebuke is quite fun. I think I’ve commented on my last post enough to move on to the next part:
My defense of Mormonism.

Yup, you heard me. As much as I despise Mormonism in some areas, find it funny in others, am annoyed by it in yet other areas, there are some good things about it. But first I want to talk about Hitchens.

Hitchens, when asked, many times, why he only writes about the bad of religion and doesn’t say anything good he replies that there are enough books and works and people saying the good things about religion that he feels he has no need to. I agree and disagree. I agree that he’s correct in saying that, and also correct in writing his very inflammatory and excellent book. I have to disagree on one level though, that we do need to recognize that ‘some’ good comes from religion. This is not the point of my blog, but again, I don’t think that religions only do evil in the world, so to portray myself on my blog as believing that religions are pure evil is dishonest at best.

Moving on, I brought up how Boyd K. Packer mentioned that he never asks his fellow apostles if they have seen Christ. This says that they don’t talk to Christ weekly in the temple on Thursdays. The folklore in the church says they do though. Now, I agree the blame mainly rests with the parents who, at FHE, tell their children that Jesus will be meeting with the prophets on Thursday. But it is not like these men didn’t hear the same things growing up. Or that they ever doubted the old accounts of prophets meeting Jesus or God or ancient beings. But when they actually get into the position of power they realize the folklore is just that … but don’t say anything. Of course, what would they say? “Hello, brothers and sisters, this is Pres. Packer. I want to point out that we have never had Jesus come to our meetings as of yet.” No, they have no good reason, from their point of view, to tell the membership this. So, for me, the blame is on both sides. Take Joseph Smith for example. When the mummies and scrolls came through the people wanted him to translate. They blindly believed and kept the story going, and he had to please ‘his’ people.

Another thing I said only in passing, but this is something I do need to clarify. This is it:
"The church reeks of cover-ups, white lies, half truths, and a vigorous effort to skew things in its history to not sounding so bad. The PR of the church is quite amazing, but after really getting into the stuff, I cannot deny that the church purposely tries to rewrite history and hide things from its members."

Okay, I do not want to sound like a conspiracy theorists. This could easily be seen in that light, or that I give the brethren too much credit. That is not what I think at all. When I say this I mean the church in general, and the PR especially of higher ups, mainly the corporate-type side. People on all levels tweak things, and try to make things look better. The brethren don’t sit up there on ivory towers lording over the membership saying, “boy, this is the life, these people are stupid, how much tithing money did we make this month?” No, I’m sure they believe they are in the right, though I still believe that some of the brethren, maybe only one’s in the past, have had serious doubts. But the ones who hide things, tone things down, rewrote things in the past, those are probably normal members or church employees, all on their own. I do doubt that the apostles really know a lot that goes on. All together they might, but there’s too much to do for 15 old men to be completely involved in everything.

And with the church hiding things, yes, but that’s usually it, they ‘hide’ it from plain view. They tell the teachers not to talk about certain things, Deseret doesn’t release certain books, and they don’t talk about taboo topics at Gen Conf. But they still allow members to write books like The Mountain Meadows Massacre, or they allow members to talk about polygamy, just don’t teach about it in Sunday school. Regardless though, I do not agree with this in any way. They purposely are holding back from the members, and not informing the membership on some of the darker sides of the church or its history. Then when a new member finds these things out on his or her own they are generally more troubled and disturbed if they had been informed in the first place.

I little while back I had my ‘horror, the horror’ moment on campus and was put in awful awe of BYU. I think back on the millions wasted on Prop 8 by members, my time spent on my mission, all the temples that really are pointless, and all the waste the church does with people’s time. But, it isn’t all a complete waste. My mission? I wouldn’t take it back, but if I traveled back in time, I probably would. Temples? Besides all the waste they pose, they are nice buildings, some of them anyway (Provo isn’t), and they do help unity with friends and family, give meaning to people’s lives. BYU? Still is a decent place for the believer, and some secular ideas do get thrown at the budding Mormons, but it's just not for someone like me. And being like me is a compliment. Prop 8? … uh, still a waste.

The point: the church gives a lot of money to charities, does a lot of philanthropy work, and does good in the world in the same sense of any other group of concerned human beings for the lives of others. The church does help people get over addictions, emotional issues, and the such. But I disagree on two issues: one is that just about any church or organization can do these things, and second, I cannot live a lie when I cannot believe that the church is true.

So I’m still where I was. Religion is not perfect, and it doesn’t work very well, but we can’t get rid of it. Some religions are better than others, Mormonism is a colossal waste of time and money, but it a relatively nice and warm religion. Till we find something better than religion I don’t think the world could survive without it. And lastly, I think the world is heading in a good direction, and I think we have good possibilities for the future. We may move out of religion and into some new and better form of ethics in the future, but we may not live to see its fruition.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9-Page Reply #1

(An adorable picture, I have to point that out in case you couldn't tell.)
Unfortunately I have nothing funny and quirky to report on BYU. When you don't have classes every day, due to work, then the exposure to BYU is much less.
And that's how I like it.

So I will begin going through some points on the 9-page rebuke. I want to clarify a couple things before beginning. Rob, who wrote it and mentioned so in a comment on my blog, is a good friend and I don't want people exploding in anger on him. He makes points in the email, making sure to express that he doesn't necessarily think I am meaning everything I say or meaning to imply some of the things. He feels that being more moderate on this is more beneficial for both sides, theists and non-religious persons, and I've agreed with that type of stance for most of my life. Some of the points I'll bring up were not truly directed at me, but more of 'what they could be read as saying,' in particular from a believing Mormon who comes across my blog. If I wish to make a difference and have an effect on theists who have doubts or could become more moderate themselves, then sounding like a ranting, angry, hormonal teenager certainly won't help. Even the guys at Irreligiousophy recognize that they are having little to no effect on actual believing Mormons because they are such pricks on their episodes that no believing Mormon would listen more than 10 minutes.

And that's a reason to enjoy them. If you're in the mood for what they'll say and how they'll say it then listening to them is like dessert. I'm betting my blog has done that too for people, but I wish to be more serious, at least for a couple weeks as I go through some points. Doesn't mean I won't still make funny points, though, I think some things with religion are hilarious, and I will continue to remind people of this.

9-Page Rebuke

Beginning, I've pointed out in my Mormons and Atheism posts that Mormon interpretation of scripture and doctrine has a very limited and incorrect view on atheism. The one I'll focus on is that they see atheists or apostates as angry individuals, full of Satan's rage and bitterness. I have to bring this up cause my blog, at times, definitely fits this, lol. And I have fun doing that. Some things, like combined third hour meetings where we talk about collecting college books for our children after the end of the world, are dang funny. But to the outsider or to a Mormon, then I play right into their hands - I come off as the angry atheist. This is perhaps my biggest reason for replying to the email, cause I hope to show that I am a thoughtful more moderate person. Some of my followers recognize this, I hope, my friends do, Rob does, but some random lurker on here probably doesn't. Second, I was turned off from atheism last year when I saw so many angry atheists. I think I would've made the step over last year if I had met more moderate atheists and not just the angry ones who focus their whole day around their atheism.

I do believe in fighting against any evils in religion, and it makes perfect sense for an atheist to be angry if that person has left a faith - they'll feel lied to, betrayed, that they wasted so much of their life on something false. Of course that person will be angry. If I met a recent postmo who was not angry with their experience in the church then I would be confused, and slightly leery of them. What kind of person would be okay with 'everything' they had done for something they no longer believe in? But perhaps I have made comments that come off too angry and if I feel I need to clarify myself, then I feel I did come off too angry, for the comments do not reflect how I really feel.

The comment of - religion flies you into buildings, pointing out Christians who don't care about the environment cause Jesus is coming back soon, or that they only have to read the Bible to get through life, these comments can easily be seen as attacks on religion, but truly it is more complex than that. These are how people act, not necessarily what a religion teaches. The Bible is a massive book, a collection from many authors, covering centuries of time. You can see the evolution of thought and morals in the Bible. We go from a tribal-esque society who feels you should kill adulterers, to a city-state where a moral leader asks accusers to cast the first stone if they think they are spotless before God. With that much breadth covered a person can pull whatever they want out of the Bible.

(A nice example.)
And they do. Look at all the different Christian religions and sects just coming from one massive book, with so many different views. Jehovah's Witnesses, Catholics, Southern Baptists, and Mormons are just a few. All claim that the bulk of their doctrines come from the writings of Paul alone, or, rather, can be found in the writings of Paul. This does not reflect religion, this reflects the minds of humankind. We believe something and then we go out to find support for that. I may have read a couple atheistic books before I was really thinking I did not believe in gods, but I didn't get a couple dozen of atheist books till I felt I was leaving faith behind. Most people go after things they're interested in, and read books on topics they are interested in. Republicans tune into Glen Beck and read books by republicans.

So is it fair to say that 'religion' teaches us to fly into buildings, not care about the environment, or to only read the Bible? Well, if religion is a creation of man, then I think you can put some blame on religion, but you have to be specific. Mormonism does not teach me to kill myself for eternal glory. The Qur'an does, but only if you take specific verses and sections and line then up in the way you want. That's the key, and that's why moderate Muslims don't do such things. Does the Bible teach to pollute and litter cause Jesus is coming back soon and will clean it all up? Not at all, but people who don't want to care or work extra in life will take a belief like that.

I hope I make my point, men (in this case mostly men) put down their thoughts, and most religious icons were people who felt they needed to improve on the morals of society, a little at a time. The thoughts written into passages get passed down through religions as infallible truths and people are raised in those beliefs. Religion, here, is to blame for perpetuating bad or imperfect teachings and ideas, but only to a point. Nowadays a good percentage of people have a choice of what religion to follow (percentage, I would say not even half the world has much choice) and usually they will align themselves with whatever religion or sect that follows their line of thinking. Most people who are in a particular religion don't even follow all the teachings and disagree on some points.

So can I blame a Catholic for the church's involvement in WWII? Can I blame Buddhism as a religion for the fanatics who flew planes into the World Trade Center towers on this date in history?

No. I don't think I should be blamed for Indians losing America to the white folk, I wasn't there, and I hate being told that I am partly to blame. The blame rests where it lies. The Qur'an helped crazy shitheads pass along doctrines of martyrdom to people who had the mindset to believe it. The problem grew out of people, and still is a human condition, but I want to point out that religion helped those fanatics to do so.

I am an anti-theist towards a lot of religious aspects, religion certainly helps some good people to commit evil acts, but religion also helps to take control of evil people and to get them to do good things for the world. I'd rather there was no religion, but I still think we are a long ways off from that kind of future. I also do not think moderate religion is the best thing either - I do not want to be told to love religious terrorists.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sex and Death - A Serious Post

Longer post, and pretty serious, but I've been wanting to write some of these things for a while on here, and now seems like a good time as it is pertinent to the dialogue I currently have going.

First I wish to lift myself up some. When writing this blog I generally just write and post. All off the cuff. Even my credo was off the cuff. When I said I had been thinking about it that’s all I meant. One time I began thinking of what I would put into it, and by the time I got to the fourth idea of what I had no use for in a religion I had forgot the first one so I stopped. Took all of 20 minutes to write my credo. Even this post is off the cuff. I pride myself in that and am grateful for the people who think I spend more time on my posts. To me that says they must be at least slightly impressive. Moving on and away from my pride.

I went to the LGBT group again at BYU and I stayed for the whole thing this time. It was again very good. Me and St Pickle would eye each other some times, cause the group tries to be positive about the church, and we didn’t think we should make some comments and look at each other as if to say ‘you thinking the same thing? Don’t say it out loud.” Plus one of my blog fans, Hermit, showed up, and Hermit is a girl! Yay! I love girls. Will get to meet Heretic next week too. I’m just a stud of a blogger. (disclaimer – uh, no I am not, though I am mediocreally attractive in the very least).

But the meeting was good. Though Elder Oaks likens homosexuality to being prone to being angry, using words such as susceptibility and inclined. Which, in my mind, demonizes homosexuality while also making it sound like it is similar to being an angry person. One of the professors who was there will be giving a presentation on the genetic link to homosexuality on September 23rd in the MARB. Maybe some people will find that interesting, I’m not sure if I’ll go or not. But it was nice to meet Hermit, and to meet Cary who wrote the legendary BYU article that ‘disappeared’ because it was ‘offensive.’ Ha.

Okay, so after this I will probably do a full post replying to the aptly named 9-page rebuke. But I want to further clarify my 'mom in the household position' because I think some recent events have influenced my thinking. This will make it easier for people who know who I am in real life to connect me to my blog. Shame on you if you do so for evil reasons, cause what I’m about to say is pretty personal, and sad, lol.

So, my relationship with my parents has improved a lot in recent years, and is better now than ever before, at least in my mind. But my dad was diagnosed with dementia this last spring. Had little effect on my atheism, but if there was a God I’d certainly have reason to be angry with Him (Mormon god in this case). However, my dad is only about 60 so most likely it is a mix of genetics and diet that caused this. Being young, he will most likely deteriorate quickly and die within the next few years. Now, I can say this quite coolly, but honestly this tears me apart. If at any point in my life so far that I wanted there to be a god it would be now, for my dad. My mind still follows the fallacy of connecting an afterlife to the existence of a god. Maybe some part of us does continue and there is no god that guides the process. But the idea of a god gives more hope to the idea of an afterlife. In the end this doesn’t matter though, I do not believe in a god, and I don’t believe in an afterlife. But I’ll talk about neuroscience and an afterlife at some other point.

Having my dad being diagnosed means it has set in, and going home this last month I can say that I see a difference with him from a year ago. What was senility a year ago now has become a mind-rotting disease, a vacuum of the mind, and disintegration of his personality. My father is disappearing before me, a hollow shell, a corpse, being left behind, one that won’t even know how to use a doorknob by the end.

This has led me to think about many things, but one is important here for this post – grandchildren. Note that I don’t think children, but grandchildren. My brother won’t be having children any time soon, not that he plans on. And he doesn’t like being asked about it. When I was home I was asked once, but being ‘single’ most people don’t even bother with me. However, as bothered as I am at the thought of being asked, mostly defensive I guess, I am thinking about it. See, I’ve always wanted children, just later in life. On my mission I had a switch and realized that children are okay, though some things will always bother me. Getting back from my mission I desperately wanted to move on from my relationship with my ex, let’s call her ‘Auds’ for future references. Having become non-religious sex and marriage are now truly separated in my mind, so marriage took a back-seat for the last couple years.

But with my dad being diagnosed, I’m not so sure anymore on this. Do I want a parting gift to my father to be a grandchild, one that he will recognize as his grandchild before he begins to lose the ability to recognize me? Do I want to move settling down and children forward from being 30 to hopefully within the next 3 years? Even though, in my mind, I can now have all the sex I personally want and not feel guilty (though shame and remorse are still welcome) am I at a point where I am actually wanting a marriage and family? Some people think they want sex when what they truly yearn for is love, am I one of those people? Too many questions.

And now to the point: if kids are really that important, is being a stay-at-home parent such a big deal? Really, is it? Why is there such a ‘to do’ about stay at home parenting? I know of a lot of parents, in and outside of the LDS church, who think that their kids are the most important things in their lives. Having never been a parent I am unsure where I stand, or rather, where I will stand. Because right now I think I know. I think of myself as a romantic, but all that means is that I find it easy to love someone, though most girls don’t love me so easily back. Luckily I have a good track record, two smooth releases, and one harsh(traumatic actually, no exaggeration) breakup from the girl’s side and not because of anything I particularly did. So that gives me hope. But really, being a romantic means I just value the relationship more than anything else. I first and foremost think of myself as a boyfriend and husband, due to the amount of value I put into my romantic relationships. Career and family come later.

This post is as much a therapeutic release as it is questioning the idea of stay-at-home mothers or fathers. I went out to explain how I got to my view and why there is some conflict, honestly I am undecided about a lot of things. I use to think I would only marry a career woman, but in the last few months I’ve been looking at things differently, more transiently I guess. I think I want a woman who likes to think and study and learn, someone I could talk to about a lot of things. But does she need to be a career woman? That dream is fading from my reality.

(note: I normally accept pity messages, but when concerned with my dad I don't want any. I definitely do not want to hear about heaven if I have any religious lurkers. If you absolutely feel you need to tell me how sorry you feel for me, then only do it if you truly mean it. If you have no idea what to say then don't bother.)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My Own Personal Cognitive Dissonance

Alright, I clarified that I would not take things too seriously in this blog, and for readers to not take it too seriously either. Even posted such in my handy-dandy notes section to the right - which has been changed now. Well, I've been using this blog as a way to make me and others laugh, to throw out funny little sayings, and to rant when I feel pent-up or extremely alone in this very LDSian society.

Due to that I've been expecting some harsh feedback but never got it. Waiting, waiting, and then I get an email from someone I would call my friend. Albeit an older much more intelligent friend. After going through the 9 pages of rebuttal I feel reprimanded to say the least. Not having an assignment due in the next hour I wish to start my apply, which will be publicly posted over several posts here on my blog.

But first an explanation. I am not one for blogging, but I was happy to rant on here and to have people thank me for my posts an such. Kind of exhilarating in a way. I was also happy to hear back from people who thought one post or another was pretty funny. This is one of the reasons I keep going, the 'people,' lol.

But this is also a problem, because people are reading my words, and, gods-forbid, may even mull over my words and quote them! Not a real issue, and honestly I find some things quotable, but should they be quoted? In the 9-page philosophical rebuke the friend did roughly what I like to find in my readings, he attacked my bad stances and easy to misread statements, and not-thought-out sayings. Not giving any leeway to my positive comments, which is good because I don't want to be praised for one thing and then cut down in 10 others. I'd rather be told where I'm messing up and not be sprinkled with happy thoughts interspersed. However, this is not how I normally treat other people or subjects.

Enter personal cognitive dissonance #1. My blog has purposely been set up this way, and I've stated this before, because I don't want to spend much time on it. I don't want to sit down and ponder over some issue, write it out, revise it, and then make a post a week. I enjoy coming home, eating a bowl of cereal and spewing out some half-rate post with some funny lines in it. However, this is completely against how I've always acted in my life. In high school I was very moderate, on my mission I was very moderate, now I am very angry in a lot of ways, and completely ecstatic and joyous in other ways. The mix of my cloud high happiness and bitter betrayal does not help to much for me to reevaluate the world and my view of it. I like criticism and being attacked because it gets me to think about things I haven't been, or helps me to make a decision. I have taken a rude and dogmatic tone for atheism on purpose, but the 9-page rebuke makes me wonder if I should continue my blog in the haphazard way it has been going, or to slow down, make a couple thought-out personal posts a week. It would be more personal, in a lot of ways, take more time for fewer posts, but it would be more true. Ugh, the work involved, lol. And now I'm left to think over some things....

Number two soon follows - reading my statements I am very easy to attack. Bad for 3 reasons - one I already said, I hope people aren't using my statements in their own lives, especially my easily disproved or harsh statements. Second, this blog obviously does nothing for religious people. I've known this, but being told by someone makes me rethink the value of that (this is tied back to cog dis #1). Subscript third, reading my statements being quoted and taken out of context (not out of context in the 9-page rebuke mind you) I would think the writer is a total douche. First I congratulate myself on being able to write that way. Good job j-dog! But then I am taken back to the value of my writing. Am I only taking a shit on the ethereal universe of internet words and blogs? Adding my own refuse to the other 99% refuse that make up the online community? I have to say I am, and when thinking of value I am tempted to take my blog more seriously.

Being so easily misquoted, or quoted in this case, coming off so much like the dogmatic, hateful atheists that I dislike or that Mormons may think we are, and acting in a way that I do not act with other people in person, I am left to reevaluate my writing and blog. I don't expect to change any future ideas. And I certainly will continue making posts on weird experiences I have, but I feel prompted, from within, to change what I am doing.

Due to my climbing out from under faith I am growing much more aware of what is meaningful in my life, and how I want to live it.

So this is getting long, but I must make a couple points right away, one's that really irked me when reading the 9-page rebuke. I do not want to misjudged on these points:

From my credo - "I have no use for a religion that looks down on women in the work-field and men in the home." Perhaps it is because I had a similar discussion with a person I have 'special' feelings for, but I do not want to change my views on this just because I left the LDS church. St. Pickle likes to point out that often people do a 180 on their ethics and opinions, doing the opposite of what they were raised to do. I haven't changed my mind on some very large opinions, have on others, and maybe dogmatic atheism is leaking into me on yet some other issues.

The problem with this statement is that it leaves the other side open to being interpreted, that women in the home could be a bad thing. This is connected to the girl in my class who said she didn't plan on finishing college. Now, I do not know the mind of this girl, she may have decided this on her own, or she could feel she has to be at home due to being raised by an LDS family. Considering the class is a career exploration class I think she probably is torn, so I am leaning towards blaming the church for her view, but again, do I really know? No.

Is it wrong to be a stay at home mom? Even if you're secular or atheist? The following statement has always been my view, and it is tainted with LDS influence: there is nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home mom but it is also not wrong for a women to be in the work-field. That is how I have felt since high school, and the second part is probably becoming redundant now that I'm non-religious. But what about women who are geniuses in their field and could give so much to society? I still am torn here, I feel personal motivation to help society in any way I can. And that leads me to this belief - when concerned with life goals, do what you enjoy and what brings meaning to your own life. If a woman with an IQ of 220 decides, on her own (the qualifier) to be a stay-at-home mother, then who am I to say any different? Who am I to tell her what she enjoys, what she finds meaningful? I shame myself for even leaving the door open to the possibility of being misunderstood here.

People may disagree with me, and maybe I haven't made myself clear in times past, but long ago I decided, which a quick private journal read can show, of what my view of people's life choices were. For each of us, is this life about doing what the world needs, or about our personal goals that we find meaning, enrichment, and joy from? Raising kids in the home is pretty meaningful, has a lot of worth, and can help to give back to the world in which they find themselves. That is giving back to society.

But does it have to have a large purpose or reward? As Danny Devito says in Mathilda, 'some people are only really good at making potato salad.' Is that a useless thing to pursue? I like to give value to things, but what I feel is valuable is different for the next person. With different views of values and what is valuable, then I don't think anyone has a right to tell others what to do to have a meaningful life.

Unfortunately this is running long, and I have classes to get to. I guess my pictures I use can be seen as more dogmatic atheist propaganda, but I find them too damn funny so I plan on posting them. Too bad, friend.

One last clarification, sorry if people enjoy my rants for what they are, I still find them funny, and heartfelt in certain ways. But I expect by the time I'm done replying to the 9-page rebuke my blog will have evolved into something new, much akin to macro-evolution. Hopefully this won't be a dead-end species.