It is not essential to believe in God or in the historical Jesus or in Christianity. What resonates for me is a deeper meaning than prayers or ritual or litanies can provide. It is an awareness and understanding of who I am, personally, and professionally. It is in being able to think and reason and pay attention to what is real and distinguish that which is superstition or tradition. It is being willing and able to think of others, including other people, creatures, life and the environment. 

All I have to do to find meaning is walk through my garden and wonder at the processes that made the plants, animals, birds insects and bacteria that exist in this garden of eat’n, smell’n, hear’n and see’n. What exists for me there are not only the beauty of the flowers and plants or the tomatoes and herbs that grow there. There is the plant, itself, and there is so much more. Studying natural sciences, i.e. the kingdoms of Monera, Protista, Fungi, Plantae and Animalia that deal with matter, energy, and their interrelationships that transform each other, or with their objectively measurable phenomena, that reveals the wonder of it all. 

To me, religion is a kind of fakery one uses in order to arouse emotions without a sense of the wonder behind the science of existence. A cheap kind of religion at the most and a charlatan religiosity at its worst. As Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s referral to suspension of disbelief, as in an essential element for a magician in a circus sideshow. For example an audience is not expected to actually believe that a woman is cut in half in order to enjoy the performance. They suspend judgement for the duration of the show. 

Did miracles happen? Did Jesus exist? Was there a crucifixion and a resurrection? Prove it with something other than hearsay evidence. There are those, such as Bart Ehrman and virtually all Christian scholars who believe there was a real historical person behind the Jesus of the Gospels. There are others who take the mythicist position that Jesus exists as a completely fictional character. These include Robert Price, Earl Doherty, and Frank Zindler. Is there life after death? Well, you have to have religion to think that. 

Is it necessary to believe in the supernatural in order to have a sense of wonder and a sense of conscience? I think not. Everything we need for such attributes exists within each one of us. Those attributes can be trained out of us by the environment, however, the basic elements exist within us. 

Is it necessary in a scientific, objective perspective to suspend a sense of wonder? Not at all. Just look at a newborn baby and try to escape the sense of wonderment that emerges. Or look upon the death of a beloved and not grieve. Both bring forth tears, one of joy and one of anguish. Both incorporate into the mind that thinks and reasons. 

I admire skeptics and humanists who bunk superstition and fraudulent claims. In fact, religious cannot prove their claims objectively. They have to rely on religious books and on believers to support their assertions. That is evidence that would not stand up in a court of law. 

Skeptics and humanists tend to be a little short on the aesthetic value of life. There exists a deep psychological importance of myth and ritual as Jung pointed out. He focused on establishing and fostering the relationship between conscious and unconscious processes. These processes can easily be learned and understood and put into practice within the scientific brain. 

Dialogue between the conscious and the unconscious aspects of the psyche enriches the person, and Jung believed that without this dialogue, unconscious processes can weaken and even jeopardize the personality. It is because of the unconscious process that we have no free will. 

There is nothing supernatural about thinking, reasoning and feeling. In my opinion they repay involvement in taking the time and energy to learn about the processes of life and living and including a kind of poetic, dramatic aspect of life. If there is a god it is a verb, a process and not a noun. 

For me this is a profound and fulfilling process. 

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Comment by tom sarbeck on October 18, 2014 at 12:00am

Thanks, Joan.

The RC god had been so awful that survival required me to dump it. After I dumped it only masochism would have brought it back.

I had to work at dumping the authoritarian must do this and cannot do that language I had learned. It's a language of powerlessness.

Comment by Loren Miller on October 17, 2014 at 9:45am

Of course we talk about the business of deities a lot ... and we will so long as those who subscribe to those deities wish to superimpose them on ourselves and our government indiscriminately and without recognition of the lack of reality behind them.

So long as the emperor has no clothes, we will continue to point out that fact.

Comment by Joan Denoo on October 17, 2014 at 9:31am

No trouble from me, Tom. It is trying to get the imperatives out from between my ears that keeps me on the subject. I don't know about others. 

The really great news is, the autumn trees, as photographed by Loren, reveal the magnificence of natural processes. 

Comment by tom sarbeck on October 17, 2014 at 3:21am

Will I get in trouble for saying, "For an irrelevancy, he/she/it gets a lot of mentions here."

Comment by Loren Miller on October 14, 2014 at 6:13am

We've heard the story a bunch of times - about how Laplace presented his work on the motion of the planets to Napoleon, and when the emperor asked why there was no mention of god in the mathematician's work, he replied:

I had no need of that hypothesis.

That may have been the first time that someone removed the idea of a deity as a necessary part of the equation of reality.  Since then, many more have joined him, from Einstein to Krauss and Tyson, more and more scientists are willing to publicly acknowledge that the creation of reality needs a god like a fish needs a bicycle.  This should not be surprising.  As we learn more about the mechanics of the universe, it becomes increasingly clear that none of those mechanisms rely on any form of supernatural input to accomplish their purpose, that the laws of physics, chemistry and nature are more than sufficient to the task, up to and very likely including the causation of the Big Bang.

And so the conclusion is obvious: god is indeed, irrelevant, superfluous, and utterly unnecessary to us and the world we live in.

Comment by Joan Denoo on October 14, 2014 at 12:34am

Grinning Cat, "The Day We Learned" expresses so very well the feeling I am trying to get at. "The day we learned that the Sun doesn't go around the Earth, the sunset was still beautiful". 

James Huber is such an insightful writer, I don't read him often enough. He gets to the feeling part of what is real far better than any scientist I know. Except, perhaps, Carl Sagan and Neil de Grasse Tyson.

Comment by Joan Denoo on October 14, 2014 at 12:27am

Felaine, I agree, a god is not needed to appreciate beauty and humor. That is what I was trying to say and you state it so much better. What I am saying, is that reason alone is not enough. We need the beauty and humor simply because we are human. 

Comment by sk8eycat on October 13, 2014 at 4:02pm

Joan, a large number of composers, writers, and artists are, or were, skeptics or complete atheists.  Irving Berlin.  Yip Harburg (wrote "Over the Rainbow" among other things).  Mark Twain.  More people than I can think of offhand.

You don't need a god to appreciate beauty, or humor....

Comment by Grinning Cat on October 13, 2014 at 3:37pm

The Day We Learned

The day we learned that
The Sun doesn't go around the Earth,
The sunset was still beautiful.

The day we learned that
Evil spirits don't make us ill,
The sick still suffered.

The day we learned that
Our hearts are not where we feel,
We were still in love.

Our world is not a conjurer's trick.
Knowing how it's done
Doesn't make the magic go away.

("The Day We Learned", James Huber)

Comment by Joan Denoo on October 13, 2014 at 3:21pm

Why I Think Jesus Didn't Exist: A Historian Explains the Evidence That Changed His Mind, 

Dr. Richard Carrier 



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