Thursday, March 10, 2011

To believers

@Edward at Project: The King and I is a good sport - one of few believers in a den of non-believers. He guest-posted earlier in the week, a lengthy and generally worthwhile summation of the Pentateuch, with some preemptive apologia thrown in, I presume on points that he felt the need to defend in anticipation of a rebuttal. Have a read here.

I posted a comment very late in the thread, which I thought I'd cross-post here without further comment.

@Edward & other believers:

I know that the appropriate thing to do here is address your original post, and to the thread of comments that it spawned, but I just gotta get this off my chest.

I appreciate the effort you put into defending your faith. I'm willing to be polite about it, as well - for I was once nominally Christian, and was once born-again. But, to be truthful, I don't admire it. Constructing a stupendous mental Gordian knot for whatever purpose - especially for holding onto beliefs that have no evidentiary support or rational justification - doesn't make the world a better place. If it keeps you happy and healthy, fine. There are any number of other strategies that are equally or better suited to the task, and I encourage you to sincerely explore them.

The one general set of strategies that have worked for me - for nearly 35 years now - are these:

1) Make a determined and sincere effort to be mentally and physically healthy. This is my first priority, since I cannot carry out any other strategy without mental and physical health.
2) Make a determined and sincere effort to treat my loved ones, family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and community with patience, respect and compassion.
3) Do no harm, except when in defense of my loved ones, family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and community.
4) Give more to the world than I take.
5) Know what I can understand and can't understand, but never give up trying to understand.
6) Know what I can do and can't do, but never give up trying new things, or old things in new ways.
7) Accept the uncertainty in life, but know how and when to be more certain or less certain - and live accordingly.

Believing in supernatural beings, and believing in the Bible were not helpful in getting my life in order, nor in treating my loved ones, family, neighbors, co-workers and community with the patience, compassion, and respect that they deserve, and of which I would like to be accorded in return.

The idea that people really think that a supernatural being is talking to them - physically or otherwise - is (honestly, I'm not trying to be disrespectful here) bizarre. The idea that billions of people do, in varying degrees, hold similar beliefs is almost unimaginable. I know that it's possible however, because I've done it, and I see evidence that it is done throughout the world. That doesn't mean that it's plausible, defensible, or worthy of respect.

I didn't "lose" my faith - I unshackled myself from it. Faith is an uncritical acceptance of things in the absence of evidence. It may be benign, it may be sinister. In my book, faith is to be avoided at all cost. In its stead, reasonable expectations based on evidence and sound logic is preferable, and allows a rational ordering of one's life.

But don't forget to party!

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