Have at. What a whacky world some people live in.
So many directions we can go with this study.
I can't say as I'm much surprised. We've been making the point for a while that the worst criminal can confess his crimes before Haysus and it's all hunky-dory. Zero accountability, zero responsibility, whereas if this life is all you got, you're stuck with your actions, good and bad, and accountable to PEOPLE for them.
I don't see that Haysus' "get out of jail free" card is any benefit whatsoever, obviously quite the opposite.
For some reason theists can't believe a person can behave decently without god. In the other forums I frequent, this seems to be the biggest complaint xtians have with atheists.
While they're saying "I don't trust you because you don't believe in anything", I'm thinking "I don't trust you because you base your actions on what someone told you to do. What happens when that isn't working for you any more? Do you just discard it or move on to something else?" Like Loren, I'm also sceptical of people who think this is just a test run before the afterlife that follows.
I'd like to trust based on actions but I feel a need to know where a person is coming from as we go forward. I don't like chaotic behavior based on momentary self interest any more than anyone else. That's something we all need to be aware of when discussing these issues with theists. Other than ignorance and prejudice, it might be the core reason we poll so low in media articles that discuss who people would vote into office.
Sorry if it seems I've turned this into a rant about atheists. It just mutated into an opportunity for self-reflection.
The Sopranos were Catholic. I don't recall hearing many arguments about that theme being unrealistic.
Like Loren, not surprised. All religious people (I'm thinking Catholics with their confession ritual, especially) believe that all they have to do after they've done something wrong is say "sorry" to an imaginary friend in order to embark on a whole eternity of Heaven, no matter how bad the thing they actually did was. Whereas being a generally good person and just not believing in a God is an offence punishable by ETERNITY IN HELL.
It also reminds me of the absolute psychos that claim they murdered prostitutes/gays/abortion doctors because "God told me to do it". That scares me.
You have summarised the ridiculous, self-righteous catholic belief procedure very well; and of course, the same applies to the other religions too.
To be fair, confession is supposed to involve contrition and penance. Those two, if truly heartfelt, should be enough to guide against future transgressions. It sounds as though many use confession as the "get out of free card". This is not a knock against those capable of deeper thinking and instrospection. My fear is that without some "natural" empathy towards others, confession is merely a contractual obligation between the confessor and god. Fellow humans (and possibly other creatures) are not necessarily considered. The confessor is a ticking time bomb, destined to commit some additional act for which they will be absolved but others will pay the price.
As for me, I cannot guarantee I will always do the right thing in all circumstances. What I can do is explain and demonstrate my ethics and morals (cringe - I hate that word). I think that's the best any of us can do really.
Ten Bears: These things you say we will have, we already have.
Josey Wales: That's true. I ain't promising you nothing extra. I'm just giving you life and you're giving me life. And I'm saying that men can live together without butchering one another.
Not terribly deep but it is functional.
I completely agree Greg - you said what I was thinking much more eloquently than I did!
The points made in your post regarding confession reminded me of a naughty child being forced to apologize by a parent for something they've done - a "contractual obligation", an apology given with no meaning behind it and thus is worthless. The child doesn't learn anything from this experience, except that they can do whatever they want, as long as they say "sorry", and all is forgiven. On the other hand, you have a child who has done something wrong by accident, sees the harm they have caused, and apologizes because they are truly sorry and won't do it again. That is how our upbringing shapes our morals.
There are good and bad Catholics, just as there are good and bad atheists, and doubtless some go into confession because they are truly repentant, like the second child. However, for all those people, there are also those who use confession as a way to ease their conscience (the "parent", or God), just like the first naughty child. It is a ritual only, with no meaning behind it.
What I'm trying to say is: Confession, as you put it, involves an apology to God, conritition and penance, and the apology is worthless on its own without the other two. The atheist, having done something they know is wrong, being truly sorry for their actions but not apologizing, would surely be more moral to an all-seeing, all-knowing God than a Catholic who gives an apology during confession as a way to appease their conscience only.
(I hope this made sense!)
What you said does make sense and I agree. The funny thing is that I'm struggling to raise two kids, 7 and 8 years old. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to get through to them as to why they should not do the naughty. I believe empathy is somewhat innate but enhanced through proper socialization.
I won't go into detail as to why but my kids are being raised catholic. My wife is more into the "do it my way or else" style of discipline. She gets angry when I try to reason with the kids. She's made it clear she thinks I'm coddling them and that reasoning is just a waste of time. I'm afraid she's raising them in the exact way a catholic would learn confession. We'll see how this goes over the long run. LIke most things, it will probably be a mix of styles that gets us where we want to go. I'll try to reason with them up to the point they disregard my directions and then they'll wind up with the sharp end of the stick (just a saying folks).
What a weird coincidence! I think you're right and that sounds like the perfect compromise. After all, children aren't necessarily capable of reasoning the same way as an adult is. I found it a handy comparison though. In my experience, the deeply religious are childlike in mind, and they see God as a parent (Christians do refer to God as their "father" after all!).
Regardless of parenting style, as long as your children grow up safe, happy, loved and curious about the world, as I'm sure they will, that's the important thing. (I say this as a single child-free person in my twenties knowing nothing about raising children, haha!)
It sounds as if you know far more than nothing about raising kidlets.
It's hard not to assume a childlike position with respect to god...at least the contemporary god. I wonder if the pagan gods were easier to relate to. They might have been extraordinarily powerful but they weren't necessarily omnipotent. Maybe that's where the real tragedy is in all this. For a myriad of reasons we created myths. We had no way of knowing they would turn to chains.
Absolutely. Personally, I believe that religion was born out of ignorance more than anything. The Greeks believed that Helios drew the sun across they sky in his chariot because how else would it move? That Zeus threw thunderbolts when he was angry because how else would these zaps of power magically appear in the sky? I also think entertainment had a great deal to do with it - as a child I read some Norse legends and was struck by the sheer beauty and complexity of the myths. I imagined the families sitting by the fire and telling these stories. I think both of these over time contributed to religion becoming the force it has today.
Greg, you are on to something when you write that you reason with your children. My approach when we lived under an authoritarian father-leader was strict obedience with horrid repercussions. There was no healing of relationship and assurance of love in that environment. It created terrible behavioral problems and I could see that as clearly as the nose on my face. I started learning other processess and ultimately had to leave because I became a target for ridule. I started my formal education in parenting and healthy living. I asked, "What does it take to raise a healthy human being?" I learned the key element involved providing an environment where a child can flourish. Obedience to authority does not necessarily get that result.
A nourishing parent listens, understands, sets healthy and reasonable limits and at the end of each encounter, the bonds of interpersonal relationships become healed. The child decides treating others as he or she wants to be treated, and respecting others' person and property has rewards.
The principles and practices of religion present the possibility of mental and physical and emotional abuse. Not everyone abuses themselves or others, however the potential is there. Obedience to a higher authority takes the responsibility for thinking morally and ethically out of their hands and puts it onto an external power. In contrast, a flourishing individual learns internal control of morals and ethics.
Working at the boys' ranch, a facility where courts placed out-of-control juveniles, I discovered about 1/3 of the boys had extremely harsh parenting and a very high proportion of military and religious parents. Another 1/3 of the boys had negligent parents. The last 1/3 had succumbed to peer pressure for antisocial, counter-dependent behavior. I was hired to provide training for the boys; it very quickly became clear to me parents needed training. Working with boys with their parents resulted in highly developed skills in communication, listening, asserting, problem solving, conflict resolution, problem identification, goal setting, options exploration, time management, decision making, budgetting, action planning, evaluating outcomes and celebrating successes.
Both parent and child learned how to be self-dependent, self-reliant, self-responsible and then how to be interdependent. The basic underlying principle and values change.
There was nothing about religion that prepared me for any of this; in fact, it became the source of our suffering. OK, this is anecdotal; that doesn't make it wrong. The whole concept of having "get out free card" provides unhealthy incentives and guidance.