Here is an email I received in response to one of my essays.
This post has been edited to remove identifying personal details at the author’s request. My response comes 11 months late.
You have the following quote in your religion section, which I found interesting from a point of view rather very different than what you might immediately expect.
The attempt to silence a man is the greatest honour you can bestow on him. It means that you recognise his superiority to yourself.
~ Joseph Sobran (born:1946-02-23 age:70)
You exhibit a rather obvious certain kind of intelligence similar to what is often found in Mensa members, though not limited to, by any means. While the world touts that as a kind of higher intelligence than the rest of us have, I am not in agreement with that at all, as it is, after all, only one type of intelligence, mental mostly and omits other areas which are often of far greater value in our lives, like the intelligence of farmers to know the condition of the soil by placing the tip of their tongue on a handful of it. But I am not going to dwell on it, suffice to say that all types are to be respected and also seen for what they are and avoid issues of superiority (which I consider a kind of spiritual or personal closet).
What you may be missing, hence be a blind spot, is how this quote applies to you as seen from your website. Have you considered that quote in light of how much time, effort, emotion and thought has gone into your stuff on things related to religion? Fundamentally, it is an attempt to silence it, by way of argument and polemics and what you probably think is common sense.
Your problem comes from confusing the two meanings of the word silence. I think your logic error will come clear if I phrase the problem without involving any emotional bias toward or against Christianity. Pick a group from the following list of people you think deliberately spread untruth: Nazis, racists, homophobes, holocaust deniers, Conservatives, Liberals, drug dealers… You probably feel a duty to expose their lies. You want them and all who listen to them to, to understand and admit they are lying/spreading untruths and for them to stop spreading such lies. However, you are likely not in any way prepared to literally silence them, e.g. ban their books, harass them out of their jobs and homes, put them in jail, beat them up or shoot them. This is the sort of silencing Sobran rails against. Debating is not silencing. I am not interfering with their right of Christians to say things that are untrue. I do the reverse, I offer them an uncensored platform on my website to explain their points of view, offering them a platform and an audience they would not otherwise have.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
~ Edmund Burke (born:1729-01-12 died:1797-07-09 at age:68)
There is nothing shameful in exposing liars and con men, so long as you respect their civil liberties, including free speech. And Christians are liars and con men, often unwittingly so. When I give them a platform, it is not to honour them, but to let them humiliate themselves and expose how irrational their beliefs are. This motivation applies even more strongly to the pro-war emails I post.
While you point out what you consider to be contradictions (hypocrisies) throughout your Bible study section and in your other sections and this with a certain intellectual vehemence, says you really do not approve of such contradictions, yet, what is this here? Are you saying, by way of this quote, that you are complimenting the Bible and belief systems and honouring them because you see them vastly superior to your self? While your words say not, your actions say otherwise, at least as I read it.
I am not trying to ban the bible. That would be honouring it. I am providing facts demonstrating it does not deserve its preposterously exalted reputation. It will always be read, if only to help understand Christian era English literature and as an example of one of the thousands of attempts by early man to make sense of his universe. I use the bible like a cattle prod, since Christian sometimes fear it and give lip service to believing it. I try to use their blind trust in the bible to push them to do the right thing.
Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
~ Ezekiel 16:49
It is not that everything in the bible is bad advice, it is just that it is ordinary fallible human advice, nothing special. Readers are thus free to disregard the silly bits. Most of the bible is made of silly bits.
That you have beefs against what is put forth by organized religion is nothing particularly uncommon and I have no problem with your doing so nor would I want to try and stop you as I think there is something to be gained from the exercise.
Unfortunately, you do not know the meaning of the worlds you use, (speaking mostly in relation to the stuff in the Bible) and you are like just about everyone else living in the Biblical truth, an eternal truth, of the story of the Tower of Babel where there is a confusion of tongues.
I have no problem with treating the bible the way we do the labours of Hercules, as myth or metaphor. My complaint is with those who treat it as science and want to teach its absurd stories as replacements for geology, history and biology. They want to try to run our complex world using only the best of iron age science. I don’t know how they can envisage jet travel if all the pilots are taught the earth is flat. I take umbrage with Christians who claim that Christianity or their nationality makes them superior to others and gives them a right to plunder and exploit. Ditto the Jews with their master race Zionism nonsense. I get furious at twits who use the bible to justify every crime imaginable from persecution of gays, to child rape, to child murder in Iraq.
Not to go into it, but to give you an idea of what I mean, religion means to reconnect to your Source.
That is a new age view. It is not the fundamentalist Christian view. In their view, God is out there, not in your heart. God is cruel and he wants you to be petty and mean-spirited too. Recall that John Ashcroft refuses to dance to avoid offending God. In a similar way, fundamentalist Muslims waste their lives agonising over thousand of petty rules of behaviour that are inconsequential, making them miss the big picture.
But everyone who uses the word mostly refers to orthodox thinking and ideologies and belief systems, which are only superficially related. From that simple, etymological point of view, any act of kindness is a religious experience because to do it you have to be connected to your Source, but such a humble idea escapes most people. From the point of view of that, science is a form of Religion and in fact, it is the search for truth and why is that? So they can be free. Which is a religious idea that the Truth shall set you free (though they are thinking more of free from superstition, it is, in its essence a religious process). It’s a bit over simplified to put it so briefly, but that is the idea and I am sure you will get my drift. Thus, what most people call religion is not religion at all, it is only a belief system and science is a belief system where theories have taken the place of other beliefs (religious or otherwise) and which are equally dogmatic. Many have forgotten that theory means unproven, yet it is treated with the same vigour as a religious tenet, thus, it is from an inner point of view just as superstitious, just a different venue.
I have no problem with metaphysical speculation, or what you call religion. In fact, you would be amused to learn I created two new religions, ccism and quantum miracles. I have indulged in more than my fair share of speculation. See my Deep Thoughts section. My complaint is when people try to force their obviously erroneous dogmatic beliefs on others as the one and only truth. Christians cheat. They imagine they have special licence to bypass the usual testing of ideas. They are even proud of their ability to defy common sense. They are proud of their ability to believe the obviously untrue.
Devout Christians are destined to be regarded as fools in modern society. We are fools for Christ’s sake. We must pray for courage to endure the scorn of the sophisticated world.
~ Justice Antonin Scalia (born:1936-03-11 died:2016-02-13 at age:79) adding that the word cretin is derived from the French word for Christian, in a speech at the Mississippi College School of Law 1996-04-09, quoted from James Dobson, Was America a Christian Nation? 1996
Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense and understanding.
~ Martin Luther (born:1483-11-10 died:1546-02-18 at age:62)
Faith is the permission religious people give one another to believe ridiculous things.
~ Sam Harris (born:1967-01-01 age:49)
Faith is believing what you know isn’t so.
~ Mark Twain (born:1835-11-30 died:1910-04-21 at age:74)
Not to go into it, but to give you an idea of what I mean, religion means to reconnect to your Source. (me) That is a new age view. (you)
Religion as a word that I used there is the etymological definition. It is not subject to your or my interpretation or opinion. Religion comes from two Latin parts re to do again as in re-turn, re-peat, re-do and so on. Ligio means link, as a link in a chain. The two together means to link back, with the inference and contextual use meaning to link back to your Source, which some call God, others Spirit, others Life. It is the same essential meaning as Yoga, with comes from yog which means roughly to be yoked, as oxen to a cart or plough and the reference is to being yoked to the Self of all Selves, what in Hinduism is sometimes call Lord Shiva and thus become one with or in a state of united with. What Christ called what He taught is The Way. The primary philosophy of Ancient China to today is rooted in what we call the Tao, from which we have ideas like yin/yang, acupunture, feng shui and so on and Tao is a word that means The Way. It is the way you do something. Per my original email, I said that if you perform an act of kindness you are practicing religion because you are doing something that way and also because through practising that way you are reconnecting to your Source. It is noteworthy, in that light, that all the recognized religions endorse and encourage being Kind as part of their way and this is true whether it embraces the notion of God or not (Buddhism does not say there is or is not a God, for example). Thus, correct understanding gives a whole other dimension of experience (not just thought) than your expressed reality. Try it. Commit a random act of kindness and see how you feel afterwards. See whether you feel more alive, your heart enlivened, your being, after such a single, humble act. That is religion — to have life and life more abundantly. Intellectual processes of the kinds you apparently engage in while admirable from one point of view, do not render that kind of increased life. That is not a criticism or your way, but a verifiable and easily repeatable experiment or experience. Another thing — it does not matter whether you believe it or not, whether you doubt it or not. It is beyond the need of belief and doubts do not affect it. It is our nature.
But your response to my writing on your blog remains polemic, dogmatic (albeit of a reverse kind it is still equally dogmatic), which I have no problem with. I simply wanted to offer you an alternative perspective which you are free to do whatever you like with.
As for your version of silence meaning to attempt to silence as in the examples you gave, yes, this cruder version is not what you seem to be about on the surface. But have you examined your motive in freely posting opposite points of view (like christian ones) so that they can be seen to be ridiculous? I gather you do not see that that is not much more than attempt to silence them as surely as burning of books, though from a different level and an overtly more subtle way (I say overtly because I find no subtlety in your or their version); perhaps you may see my point more easily if we apply Shakespeare… rather a line from him: the lady doth protest too much, methinks. The amount of energy you devote says more than your words, but perhaps that is outside your range… it remains to be seen. The work of examining one’s motive is a deep spiritual exercise and you may have not gone there to that level as yet, so I do not want to fault you for that.
I close this email with a quote:
The ego looks for what to criticize. This always involves comparing with the past. But love looks upon the world peacefully and accepts.
The ego searches for shortcomings and weaknesses. Love watches for any sign of strength. It sees how far each has come and not how far each has to go.
How simple it is to love and how exhausting it is to always find faults, for every time we see a fault we think something needs to be done about it. Love knows that nothing is ever needed but more love.
It is what we all do with out hearts that affects others most deeply. It is not the movements of our body or the words within our mind that transmit love. We love from heart to heart.
~ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (born:1907 died:2008 at age:101)
Peace be with you, Roedy,~ Justin
I have no objection to religion in the wooly sense you describe. My objection is people deliberately asserting things that are patently not so, usually in the name of religion, even when there is no evidence for them and plenty of empirical evidence against them and forcing those beliefs on others — e.g. insisting they be taught in schools or embedded in law and attempting to censor other better ideas, e.g. evolution vs. creationism.
I particularly object to racist religious assertions like Zionism which fool their adherents into believing they are superior to others and have a right to confiscate other people’s land and resources.
I consider it a virtue to combat that evil sort of religion, that seeks to force lies on the populace. I consider it wrong to let them go unchallenged. The are profoundly evil people, even if they don’t realise it. I see nothing wrong at all in attempting to expose them. This has absolutely nothing to with censorship. I encourage them to speak. On seeing their words published, hopefully the utter stupidity of their stand should become apparent to them and certainly to others. Falsehoods deserve ridicule, but certainly not censorship.
Christians have threatened my life thousands of times. I see no reason to pretend to agree with them, to pretend to like them or even to be polite to them. They are as barmy as people who assert there are fairies in the garden, but refuse to show any evidence for them. It is not simply a matter of difference of opinion. There are tens of thousands of people butchered every year in the name of these fool religions. Religion is no minor evil.
I combat religion for the same reasons I might expose other frauds such as phony hair restoration procedures, the myth of the Nazi master race, the bullshit of the KKK (Klu Klux Klan) or a drug that costs the earth and does nothing. There is nothing wicked about exposing lies, even if I hope those lies will cease being repeated. However, it is wicked to try to silence those lies though censorship or intimidation as the Christians themselves do. That’s what Sobran was talking about, not a passive acceptance of evil or even differing opinions.
Maharishi’s advice makes sense in ordinary day to day situation, using it to excuse yourself from taking action against evils such as child murder, religion or war is a cop out. As the Buddhists point out, you don’t need to hate to take effective action to oppose. I am not about to do that with Christians or soldiers. I utterly despise them. They are bloody bullies.
You accuse me of being dogmatic. That is the wrong word. I quote no dogma. On my site I give hundreds of reasons for my conclusions. But you are right in the sense that I feel extremely strongly about this.
You are wrong in thinking that I am mixed up with christians of any ilk because I am not. And I do not know what Stockholm Syndrome is, but I am sure it is unflattering. Perhaps you jumped to conclusions (endings) about me and what I have to say.
Stockholm syndrome is what happened to Patty Hearst. She came to identify with her kidnappers and tormentors.
Nor was what I was saying an attempt at a rebuttal. As I said, it was only to offer another perspective, an alternate point of view so you might see something you had not before. You can have your opinions; you certainly do not need my permission for that! My primary point is that the lady doth protest too much, me thinks in your caustic remarks on what is ultimately only your way of seeing what you got about religion, views which may not be correct. As you said, it is to ridicule them or allow them to be seen for how ridiculous they and their views are, which you do not see as your form of silencing them and which I pointed out as your own way of honouring them, per the quote on your site. Outwardly you may allow them to speak, but only because inwardly you hope to silence them on some level, so spiritually you are the same; that is, the spirit you act from, the intention. But it was and still is a light hearted pointing out, no judgement attends it.
You say you explored various religions and spiritual paths, but did you or did you merely read about them?
I had a number of unbelievably strange experiences starting on 1974-11-30. My first goal was to find somebody who knew anything about them. Nobody had the first clue. I ran into BSer after BSer. I then became curious about the process of enlightenment generally. I read several books a week and went to every workshop and lecture I could find. The problem was nobody could put anything much useful into words. I did TM for two years. I took an EST (Erhard Seminar Training) training. I did rebirthing. I hung out with the Hari Krishnas. I meditated with a Buddhist monk. I investigated astrology. I went to all manner of churches. I checked out the Alexander technique, Sai Baba… And again there was so much BS, such as the Course In Miracles. I became gradually disillusioned that everyone involved was either into ripping people off or some sort of personal power trip trying to impress others. I eventually stumbled on Ken Keyes who seemed genuine and down to earth.
That is not a presumption or accusation, it’s a real question. See, it is one thing to read about apples, know all the scientific data on apples, know about growing them, drying them, turning them to apple cider or vinegar and all the many thousands of things there are to know… but until you bite into a few of them you really have not got a clue. Or like driving, you can read all there is to know on aerodynamics of cars, ratios of wheel width to roll-over rates and so on, all the rules of driving from each and every country, left and right hand driving and so on, but until you get in one and drive in traffic, you really don’t know squat, but you may be very opinionated about it.
Real religion, as I said, is about connecting, or linking back, to your Source. I capitalize Source because it is the same Source for all of us, including creatures — believe it or not animals are or at least can be kind, too. Thus, a random act of kindness reconnects you to your/our fundamental Nature, which is universal (did you know Catholic means universal, a meaning lost of current exponents). Whether Shinto, Taoist, Hindu, christian, Jew, Ba'Hai (sp?), Buddhist, or any others, it is part of their instruction to be on the Way, or path.
I lead workshops where people experienced things they described as experiencing god. However, I think people just flatter themselves. The more of a loser a person is, the more likely he is to make such a claim. It may be that God favours losers, or it could be that losers find this as a way to gain status in a way that is difficult to challenge. Granted they experienced something very unusual, but I am told you can also experience some extremely intense states by taking drugs. Just because the feeling is pleasant, intense and unusual does not mean the creator of the universe had anything to do with it. There was nothing miraculous, just a feeling. Psychiatrists refer to this an emotional reasoning — assumbing something is so just because it feels good to think it is so. But again, I have no problem with people who imagine those pleasant sensations are God-induced. They are not interfering with anyone else’s life.
Kindness is one of the shades of love, (as in shade of colour, not as in shadows) and love is ultimately a unity, a oneness with and thus this Oneness, the Universal in which all of us are contained is not an abstraction at all, merely invisible and something most of us are blind to; but science does not like such things because it cannot be measured with their crude instruments; or perhaps for you love is not real and only an abstraction — I should not assume about you.
Richard Dawkins said on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) last night that science has no quarrel with love. It freely admits it cannot explain it, where others pretend they can. But just because something is a mystery does not mean it can’t be enjoyed. That scientists are opposed to love and kindness is a desperate lie told by Christians.
Religion has come to mean belief system which is not a religion at all, so your hit on them as not being what they purport to be is correct. No mater how much you believe in water, it will not quench your thirst. Drinking it (putting it into practice) will quench your thirst whether you believe or not. Simple, see?
Without water the electrical signals do not move in our body, as it is part of the electrolyte system of the body which allows information and intelligence (directions) to be sent back and forth. It is thus a kind of chemical necessary for the functioning of life in a body. Water then, even on this coarse level, is a return to the source in that it allows the transmissions to occur. That may seem abstract on first glance, Roedy, but think of a soldier in the field, all by himself and out of contact with his army. The return of function of his radio whereby transmissions can take place puts him back in touch with his Source (which in this case the soldiers Source is his army). It is not on a sensual level (meaning here apprehendible by the senses and not meaning here a reference to indulging in sense pleasures) that he is seen to be in contact with his army, he is still in the desert of forest all alone, but there is now a contact and through that guidance can come on how to avoid the enemy or to better carry out his orders. We understand that experientially because we have experience of that in our lives (like having tasted the apple and so able to know it and not merely theorize and abstractualize and philosophise about it) so we get it. I put it to you that you do not get it because you have probably never tried it, for, as Christ rightly put it, we know a tree by its fruit (no pun intended!, but certainly noticed); or, if you have tried it you did not recognize it for what it was, like a man drinking water and quenching his thirst and not connecting that to being reconnected.
If there were truly a connection the source, then you would surely have some extra information not available to unplugged people. Those who claim such a connection don’t appear to. So I think it is mostly in the imagination. You just feel at one with the universe. You are flowing with it. On the other hand, I have experienced what I call cosmic consciousness a number of times. It felt as if there were no boundary between me and the world. I was the world. I have not had sufficient experience with it to discover if there is more to it than a feeling. I tend to just sort of sit and watch in amazed wonder. There was something very unusual going on. Those claiming to guide you through such experiences might be like diamonds, 10,000 fakes to every real one.
You have a brilliant mind, Roedy, from what I have seen, but do you have a warm heart? How often do you melt at the sight of Beauty?
All the time. That I don’t fall for corny con games does not interfere in any way.
How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant? Instead they say No, no, no! My god is a little god and I want him to stay that way, A religion, old or new that stressed the magnificance of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.
~ Carl Sagan (born:1934-11-09 died:1996-12-20 at age:62) Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
As Pascal put it, The Heart knows Reason that reason does not know. I see you as someone struggling towards a kind of beauty. To rail against religion because it is ugly because contradictions such as those found in belief systems and organizations (like Churches, Synagogues and so on) are a twisting of something and perversion means to twist and all ugliness is just beauty twisted.
I have no doubt that in reality the future will be vastly more surprising than anything I can imagine. Now my own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.
~ J.B.S. Haldane (born:1892-11-05 died:1964-12-01 at age:72)
If you study quantum mechanics, it is utterly mindbending in its contradictions. Why should the universe be simple enough for a tiny little human mind to comprehend? It is like demanding it be simple enough for a chimp or an ant. My complaint is with the Christian’s simplistic stone age speculation fobbed off as absolute truth. Leviticus calls for killing darn near everyone, but modern Christians filter them all out but gay people like me. The religion that best captures the mystery of existence is Taoism, which is almost like a mirror image of Christianity with its kitsch symbols.
It is not that something is ugly, per se, it is that its beauty has been twisted. Call that an abstraction if you like, but show me an example of something otherwise first. Also, you consistently try to provide the best you are able. That is a movement that I call, not what orthodox thinking calls, religious. So, in a way you are like the man drinking some water and not knowing or believing in it one way or the other and not even knowing that that is what you are doing (reconnecting, re-linking). It is a right path, Roedy. Your sense that it is right is your faith in God, though you would not call it that. Inwardly you get a sense, not in anyway abstract, but perhaps very still and small that says to you to go that way. And you have. That is your faith and it is real, isn’t it. These may not be the words you would use, but in the context I am using them, perhaps you can see it applies correctly. But it’s not big deal, Roedy.
A belief in God is unnecessary to feel connected to the entire universe. I think it just gets in the way with all the dogmatic clutter.
As Christ also said, Not everyone that saith unto me Lord, Lord, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven shall be saved Roedy, can you not even see that you are saving (salvaging) something inside you by your path of thinking and acting, that would otherwise be destroyed by orthodox thinking?
Modern Christians give lip service to Jesus, but do the exact opposite of everything he called for. They chase wealth, they despise the poor, they fund wars, they discriminate on basis of race, they refuse to give even token amount to help the desperately poor in Africa. My life is far more in accord with Christ’s teaching that any Christian I have met. You don’t need to believe in God, after death punishment or reward to do that. I do the right thing because it is the right thing, not because I am a jellyfish afraid of some bogeyman roasting me alive.
So, Roedy, perhaps you can see that I am not in anyway condemning you, your way, your thinking. Only offering a somewhat different perspective and a more accurate use of words than is in common usage (and which binds people horribly as a result) and just as I said that it does not require beliefs, so it does not mater if you believe or do not believe what I say or think because it is what it is and you are what you are, right?
It has been a pleasure to interact with you and share some ideas, but I better quit before you right me off as a bible thumping fanatic! (And please feel free to point out anything I said that is unclear to you, I won’t bite!)
enjoy, roedy,~ Justin
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