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16 April 2006 @ 12:37 pm
It's that ranty time of year again- and presents!  

There was a discussion at work recently about religion- between an agnostic (me), a Jew, a non-practicing Catholic, and a Wiccan- and, believe it or not, it didn't devolve into violence. We were just sharing what it was we all believed, what it was we were taught to believe growing up, and how that had, for the most part, changed.

I'm a religious mutt and revolutionist, I guess you could say. My dad was raised Catholic, my mom Shiite Muslim (although really lax- she, and my whole Iranian family, drinks alcohol, eats whatever, doesn't pray five times a day, etc.). My dad later got tired of the Catholicism, and became a Lutheran. When my mom married him, she converted, since for her, it was always really about worshipping God (mostly by thanking him for all the good she had); the other details weren't important.

So, my sister and I were raised Lutheran- but, again, pretty lax. We went to church on a semi-regular basis, but we rarely went to Sunday school. Still, I believed all that stuff and took it pretty seriously- to the point that I'd do things like refuse to sing along with certain song lyrics if they weren't respectful of God, even. I was just freaked about what might happen if I was in any way blasphemous. And that didn't change until I got to college. My best friend there, lordjosh2004, introduced me to Dark Ages: Vampire, which talks a lot about how your character is among the damned, and anyone who's read stuff I've written or role-played with me knows that all my characters are pretty much attached to my psyche by an umbilical cord, heh. So, that was kind of freaky. And I was crossing myself as I read the rules of the game, all the while thinking, "Um, this is kind of stupid of me, isn't it?" I mean, just how petty can a supposedly all-powerful, all-knowing, all-benevolent god be to get mad at me for reading words on paper?

The summer following that, I rediscovered the library, and got into borrowing a ton of Carl Sagan. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark really struck a chord with me, and started casting even more of a shadow of doubt on my Christian beliefs. A quote in that book from Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason prompted me to read that book- and that's what sent the whole religious thing crashing down. Lutherans believe what comes out of the Bible. But what's in the Bible has been translated, re-translated, and voted on by a bunch of guys, along with numerous other books you won't find in there, as to whether it was Bible-worthy or not. It's not the word of God, it's a bunch of fables and stories recorded by men hundreds of years after the fact: contradictions, numerous erroneous translations, disgusting stories of murder, rape, genocide, cruelty, you name it. That's what I'm supposed to base my morality on?

So, I quit that and became Deist. Deists simply believe that God created all things, then sat back. He's around, he just doesn't care all that much about us; we're just another cog in the machine. That didn't last terribly long, though. 'Cause, think about it: if God created all things, then who or what created God?

I couldn't really come up with any religious answer that made sense to me- so, after looking at a couple of other faiths and not finding any that I could really jive with (Daoism, Wicca), agnostic I became. I don't know if there is a god or not- but, I lean toward saying there isn't. And I'm convinced that if there is a god, he's not the Judeo-Christian god. You can't be all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-beneficent with the existence of evil in the world, as was argued by a philosopher whose name eludes me (if you know about the evil and can stop it but won't, you're not all-beneficent. If you don't know about the evil, you're not all-knowing. And if you can't stop the evil, you're not all-powerful). Plus, there's the awesome question that completely fubars the omnipotence bit: Can God make a rock so big that God can't lift it?

So yes, I lean toward atheism- but a certain kind of atheism. As Penn Jillette argued on his awesome radio show, there are two kinds of atheism- the kind where you have faith that there isn't a god (which, he freely acknowledges, requires just as much faith as theism), and those who simply don't believe in any particular god. The latter one pertains to me- and is temporary, contingent upon conclusive, uncontrovertible evidence of a god's existence. Which we don't have. And frankly, I'm not holding my breath.

So, there we go. I've been thinking about it, so I threw it all down. If you like it, great- if you disagree, that's also great. I'm absolutely happy with other people believing anything they like- but I have that nasty Libertarian limitation that your belief is fine only so long as it doesn't hurt someone, anyone, else. ;)

In other news, I had a very nasty bout of depression on Friday, so I "forgot" to take my medicine Saturday morning, and the day went much better for it. Remy's birthday is coming up, so for his present, I took him clothes shopping for schnazzy shirts (he posted about it, hehe). And while we were at the mall, I saw the newest Tomb Raider game for sale... and the minimum requirements to play it would kick my poor Windows box's ass. Game's only $40, but it'd be like $400 easy to get my computer to the point where I could play it. I wanted to cry.

But you know what makes me happy? The new season of Dr. Who finally started across the pond, and the first episode rocked. =D Do yourself a favor and go download find it from somewhere!
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Penn Jillette
Angel: five tardisdeathslilsister on April 16th, 2006 07:28 pm (UTC)
Eep, don't tell me about the Dr. Who ep, I have to wait 'till tonight to watch it when people come over... if anyone's actually coming. Of course, I, uh... had to, you know test a few scenes from the beginning, middle, and end, just to make sure the download worked, but, umm... haven't technically seen the whole episode... :)
skyibesky on April 16th, 2006 09:45 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it is a good episode.
Chia de Bosk: God Commentarychiasmushf on April 16th, 2006 11:04 pm (UTC)
If you're looking for empirical proof that God exists, you're never going to find it. God is a fundamentally subjective being (like your consciousness, which you also can't empirically prove exists), and so it's to be expected that the empirical proof for the existence of God is going to be...uh...slim.

If you want to talk about this more sometime, I'd love to chat. I've never been disappointed by our discussions, and I can promise that I'm a devout Christian without a you're-burning-in-Hell-you-heritic-die-die-die kinda Christian...but your discussion crew seemed notably lacking of such a creature, so I bet you've got questions. :D
Miusheri: gotevil?miusheri on April 16th, 2006 11:18 pm (UTC)
=D Sounds good! I'd been meaning to respond to you, but in all the junk that's been going on lately, I totally forgot. Very not-cool of me, I know, but! Yes, certainly, I'm on AIM most weeknights as Neferminna, just shoot me a halloo! ^_^ Aside from discussing the religious, we can also talk about role-playing, if you like. Oder unsere Deutsch probieren, ja?

And I must say, the congregation of the last church I went to was, overall, very friendly and tolerant (though a lot of them did have the "You're a good and kind person, but- oh, not Christian? See you in hell then, I guess." thing going for them). That doesn't mean I wouldn't like to hear about things from your perspective, though. =)
pine_island on April 17th, 2006 06:35 am (UTC)
I've gone through some religious questioning as well. My brother and I were raised with basic Christian beliefs, although our parents never really endorsed any one sect of Christianity (I think they came from Methodist backgrounds, based on what limited stuff I've heard my dad talking about once in a blue moon - neither of my parents are the type to discuss such sensitive subjects openly unless outright asked, and even then they might hesitate in replying. Must be that German reticence?). They pretty much just let us kids figure out stuff for ourselves, although we did have a bit of teachings sprinkled here and there - my brother went to a Sunday school type of organization for kids (it was called Sparks) when he was young once.

Outside of the occasional relative getting married or whatnot, I didn't attend an actual church service until I was in my mid-to late-twenties, and I did it because I was curious and in what I call my "*Christian* Christian phase". Oddly enough, I wound up a member of the same church my paternal grandparents were members of (I picked the place because I used to pass by it sometimes on my way to/from community college, and it just looked like a nice homey-type of church). I liked it well enough, even if I couldn't quite wrap my brain around some of the elements. And the people seemed pretty down to earth and very friendly.

Eventually though, because of personal factors and other things, I fell out of that phase, and in recent months, because of the actions of certain groups, have gotten EXTREMELY disgusted with ALL organized religions to the point where I want nothing to do with any of 'em - just hearing that someone claims to be a Christian** automatically raises my hackles, because until they show their character, I don't know if they are one of the genuinely good folks or if they're of the two-faced thug type that has hijacked Christianity. So I'm pretty much an agnostic now, which is basically where I started out as, although I lean towards the side of believing there is a God, He's just really mysterious and beyond our mere mortal comprehension and hopefully He'll explain stuff to us later on down the road...without kicking our asses really badly...

As Sting put it once, "Men go crazy in congregations, they only get better one by one"...

And Remy's shirt is Teh Kewlness.
pine_island on April 17th, 2006 06:43 am (UTC)
D'oh. I should clarify that "**" part...

** = Meant as a "total stranger who states that they are Christian" as what makes me unsure if I ought to trust them, until their words/actions show that they're in sync with Jesus's teachings. No offense to genuine Christians is meant, and apologies in advance if such offense was caused.
Miusherimiusheri on April 17th, 2006 08:19 pm (UTC)
*nodnod* My favorite saying related to this: "Going to church makes you just as Christian as standing inside of a garage makes you a car."

There are plenty of good people who go to church, but there are plenty of assholes, too. I know I'm preaching to the choir here- pun not intended, heh- but "religious" doesn't automatically equal "good person," or "moral." A lot of people think so, though, at least on some level, and turn it around to associate atheism/agnosticism with amorality. My mom, for one. Even though I've told her numerous times that I don't believe what I used to anymore, she still makes sure the church has my mailing address so they can send me Lutheran catalogs and church bulletins and crap. To her, it'd be some sort of failing on her part if I were to announce that I no longer worshipped God- like it means I'm automatically some kitten-killing Satanist or something (Satanists don't worship Satan, by the way- they worship themselves!)- so she pretends to everyone she knows that I never stopped. She also keeps asking me to pray for things or for people. I got tired of trying to remind her that I don't pray anymore, so I just say "okay" and change the subject.

Guh, "morality"... sticky topic for me. I won't slip down that slope. ;)
lordjosh2004lordjosh2004 on April 18th, 2006 10:25 pm (UTC)
I have found that people who announce their faith tend to deviate furthest from the teachings of it. This is a broad generalization, and certainly not true of all...but when I think back on the people I know/knew who claim to be "Jewish", "Christian", or "Muslim"; most tend to not really have any understanding of what their faith is about.

My personal belief is non-theistic, and borrows from Deism, Buddhism, Hindu Taoism, Christianity, and whatever else happened through my sphere. I have become decidedly less theistic as time passes by, but I believe that living a good life and doing good for others (and yourself when it harms no one) is the ultimate aim. It is the ritual found in so many religions that I find unappealing. I also whole-heartedly concur that there is not empirical evidence of the Judeo-Christian God, and even though I don't fault people for believing in It; I don't myself. No biggie.

I guess in summation it can best be said in a quote from Trent Reznor: "If there is a hell, I'll see you there." >:-D

Be well,
mqstout on April 17th, 2006 01:13 pm (UTC)
Remember, God only created humans to make the Earth taste better by redistributing the salt. Twas and endeavor started as early as the Roman salting of vanquished cities, and continues today in northern winters.
Miusheri: geekmiusheri on April 17th, 2006 01:14 pm (UTC)
What an ass! He knows Unicron and Galactus have to stick to low-sodium diets from now on. Geez...
lordjosh2004lordjosh2004 on April 18th, 2006 10:17 pm (UTC)
Eh, it really doesn't matter...after all, the whole thing is going to be destroyed for an intergalactic highway... Unicron and Galactus will just have to sup on Mars...
Miusheri: gotevil?miusheri on April 18th, 2006 10:19 pm (UTC)
True, true... ah, the cheery red iron supplement of the Solar system ^_^