I fully support the purpose of this group and think it a worthwhile effort, but I'm beginning to think it is futile to have a rational discussion about these things..because we are talking about a fundamentally non-rational phenomena.  What really brought this to my attention was when I browsed the walls of several Jesus/Christianity groups on Facebook.  Have a look for yourself:






No matter when you look at this page, I can virtually guarantee what you see from people every few minutes is a fountain of emotion.  "I love you Jesus!"  "I can't live without you!"  "You give me strength"  "When everyone else is gone, you still love me!!  "I can't do anything without you, my savior!"   These comments pour in constantly..day in..day out.  These people have a deep psychological need for an imaginary friend in Jesus and/or a surrogate parent in God "the father".   It's not rational.  It's emotional, based on a primal desire for comfort and protection. There are some of us who don't have that constant need, but obviously many more who do.  I hate to sound like a downer and feel bad for having no suggestions..but I just wanted to share this.  By all means, we should attack superstition and apologetics on all fronts..but as long as we are engaging in education and rational discussion, we aren't dealing with the real issue for most people (pure emotion).



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I have been trying to make this point as well. This is why my focus has been on concepts like faith, spirit, soul, value in general, and motivation. I'm all about trying to deconstruct the emotions involved in belief and trying to show how atheists can have the same emotions in the natural world without having to appeal to the supernatural to justify their own feelings of self-worth/value, self-empowerment, and life-force. This ultimate power they think they are in touch with is a natural phenomena, their spirit is the power of life coarsing through them, and their hope that they have some real worth is at least possibly justified through lookiing at the world as it is and the people in it and looking at ones actual relationships with others according to a set of natural principles. I thin once we atheists can show how our sense of goodness, value, and ethics makes sense from a naturalistic POV, we will be in a better position to convince if not the believers, then at least those on the fence.
I've heard this is a good book on the subject but haven't had a chance to read it - http://www.amazon.com/Sense-Goodness-Without-God-Metaphysical/dp/14...

I think you can get this same sense of ore and love from thinking about the nature of all things – for me it’s thinking about the size of the universe and the wonder that life is on earth – and the wonder of creating new life – having given birth to 4 children.  Ultimately the wonder at my own life and existence – in relation to the enormity of the universe and the gift of life that I have.


That’s the similar general feeling that they have for Jesus – but they worship him in a way – whereas I feel a sense of ore at the universe and our existence.


The worship is a sort of crush – and crushes always end in tears.  As they are an unreal view of something.


If it’s not a crush feeling, but an ore feeling – they the universe surfaces for that.

Do you mean, "sense of awe"? I've no idea what a sense of ore is (other than a power Magneto might possess). If this is what you mean, then yeah, I agree with you that this is at least a very large part of finding value in the natural world and in one's experiences of natural life.

Sure I meant awe as in cute baby not ore as in iron ore…. : )

Fundamentally it's all emotion, and comes down to the need to feel superior, good, right, safe, and 'saved' lots of people like to answer everything with 'god this' or 'god that.' It's just easier, in a twisted kind of way. If people are predisposed to need the invisible all powerful loving father, It might be a good Idea to create a religion, or version of pop Christianity that keeps all the crowd pleasers, and feel good slogans, while getting rid of the worst parts of the theology and then allowing for rational decision making in all other areas of life.

Au contraire. Appreciating Paul MacLean's Triune Brain Theory, we can address our neuroanatomical limitations using our neocortex. Begin with what's real about our functioning, however crippled it has been logically, and figure out "patches". If we decide what's real and true with the limbic system instead of the neocortex, then find ways to communicate scientific understanding to the limbic system despite it's being nonverbal.

Creative use of ritual, based on reason, can be a tool. Rituals don't have to be inherently anti-rational. I created one where we express our commitment to a sustainable future by using a ribbon column. The ribbon column represented humanity from the past to the future. Each person pinned a ribbon to his/her chest garment, then wove it into the column while personally "testifying" why the future of Humanity was important to him/herself.

I'm curious about what you mean by all this. Which activities of the limbic system would you point to to find malfunctions which are in need of "patches"? And what sort of "patches" would you prescribe for those malfunctions? Considering that the subject of the discussion was that faith is largely motivated by desire, particularly the desires to feel good about oneself, one's beliefs, and about one's groups and the beliefs of those groups, are you suggesting that we ritualize this desire, much the same way religious people do, but redirect it towards healthier beliefs about oneself and one's connections to others in reality? Or are you merely saying that such rituals could serve for people who need it, but (hopefully) not that we all necessarily need such rituals?

Ruth, I can see Wanderers point and also I’m curious about what you are saying here.  I think it’s worth understanding more, from a scientific perspective.  I can see how different parts of our brain function at different levels.  Some of our primal instincts are just too primal to be effected I think – but I suppose we can manipulate how they are triggered through our chosen behaviour.  Your way of speaking and words are not familiar to me, I don’t have that knowledge – but I am keen to hear more of what you think and understand better what you mean and understand more about your direction of thinking.


I’ve got a few books recently to improve my understanding of such things – but with 3 young children, I find it challenging to get time to read.  Although I will read them at some point as time goes by, and hopefully his coincides nicely with our conversation or a greater understanding for me.


I wonder if wanderer feels unsure about the idea of ritual – reminding us of religious things.  But it’s interesting.  A story – which is what my story is about – I have a friend who isn’t like me in world view – she has interesting and supernatural perspectives – not conventional – but not science based.  She attacked my talking about science – and I said that it was merely a story  that I was talking about – she could accept a story about Indigenous peoples – but not my description of a scientific evidence based theory.  Our brains have evolved in stories.  I was at the weekend camping and at a festivals – the Eel festival – which seems connected to the local Indigenous peoples’ of that area – their dance, song and story was a significant part of the festival just after sunset.  we all stood around the fire and watch the ceremony (of sorts) – children and adults women, girls, men and a boy – all in Indigenous dress and with Indigenous sticks for making clapping sound – we heard his story in language.  It really drew me into that ancient way of communicating.  we are more than left brained logical rational thinkers.  We have a creative side – that is unable to communicate through words – but can feel, touch, express, draw and imagine – I don’t know much about the brain – but I think I’m on the right track with that sort of thing.  It’s not that we want to be supernatural – just allow expression through all ways.  Let’s not let our reason and rational minds and our incredible fear of the supernatural draw us away from expressing ourselves fully in all aspects.  movement, dance, song can all express aspects of our selves – even stories – I think stories are so important – I think a large part of our brain is made for stories.  It’s stories that we remember – Indigenous stories are about how to survive.  That’s the original purpose of the bible – I think.  Indigenous stories I’ve heard are about, where the water is, where the food is, how to treat others, to avoid conflict or how to fight in war, or resolve conflict or how to marry and what to call your children.  much of this has been taken away now – but we haven’t evolved above it by no means.  I very much look to the past for answers.  Where as I’ve seen others they look to the future and come up with ideas such as – well in X many years when the sun is due to burn up – then we may have the technology to keep it going some how – or transport earth to another sun???  Perhaps that reflects our different needs in the moment.   I am a mother who needs to nourish her children – they are single young men who are looking to secure the future.

Hey, I've got three young boys as well! Ages 2, 3, and 4. Anyways, while I am not particularly attracted to the idea of ritual, I am not particularly repulsed by it either. I appreciate the desire for a narrative and I think for most people it would be a very healthy thing indeed to be able to participate in social bonding rituals of many different types. How cool would it be (well I'm a guy, so maybe I'm preaching to the wrong two chicas) to have a seriously old-fashioned antelope hunt? Don't know who knows about this stuff, but I read about how humans are designed for long-distance running and how a small group of hunters could easily chase down prey like antelope by running it until it couldn't run anymore. Not only would such "rituals" keep us in great shape, but the experience of teaming up to make a kill is a powerful bonding experience. I'm just not all for the "hoo-ah-ah-ah" chanting type of ritual (although I have Cherokee blood in me).

Wanderer – I really do agree with you that some of these primal practises do excite our natural tendencies and allow us to access great levels of expression and depth of feeling.  We are hard wired to relate to this stuff – it’s tapping into our methods of survival that have allowed us to be prolific as a species.


Hunting an animal for you would excite similar things to me for having children perhaps.  No matter what modern feminism says – and I must confess I haven’t read anything of it – women and men are different and so have different urges and things that drive them.  But saying that we to are the same in many ways also, sharing our drive for survival and protection of our lives and those we love.


My boys are 9 years, 4 years and nearly 2 years old.  I think if your 3 are with one woman, she might need much sustenance right now, after 3 in a row like that - lots of eggs and raw yolks and bone marrow and broth as well as fresh raw greens - I find eggs from chickens who eat free range with acess to variety of foods including insects to be the best - also cod liver oil and lots of sun light - but fish eggs if you can get them are good - but basically high nutrition dense foods - see weston a price foundation website for more information about lactating mothers and mothers recovering from birth - one and the same.... : )

Yes, they are all from the same woman (my wife). And yes, having them does tap into a deep biological urge. It's really amazing how much I enjoy rasing these boys, teaching them how to make it in the world, taking care of them, being close with them, etc. I can't wait for them to grow older so I can teach them some really cool stuff. There's a whole world of things they can find out about and experience, and I want them to explore and enjoy and experience etc. It is superamazing, which brings me to Park's next comment...




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