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Post ex-christian.net
Have you guys heard of it?

https://www.ex-christian.net/

The MO is helping struggling christians and new exchristians along in their stages of deconversion. So most of the people there either sincerely need or are looking for help from others, or trying to give advice and help those who are looking for it. It's understandably an atheist majority. Christians are welcome to join but are not allowed to make proselytizing posts outside of the informal debate forum called, "The Lions Den." Because proselytizing could be damaging mentally for those who are going through various struggles and conflict. I remember a lot of knowledgeable posters here who would be good candidates for helping out.

I went through a divorce two years ago and during that time cut off all forum activity. And then kept it going another year or so. I started wading back in at ex-C and I decided to wade back in here too. It's been a while but I see familiar faces on the forum boards, some not so familiar. I'll be trying to make my rounds at both places. Unfortunately after DM Murdock passed away her forums dwindled down in activity. So I'll be limiting my attention to just these two forums and leaving it there. I got pretty burnt out on arguing with apologists 24/7 for the better part of the last 15 years, usually to no avail. Since going back into forums I've kept the debate factor on the light side. It is what it is.


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Post Re: ex-christian.net
tat tvam asi wrote:
Have you guys heard of it? https://www.ex-christian.net/
Hi Tat, nice to hear from you again. As you know at your suggestion I had a bit of a look at ex-christian.net, but have found that my energy for conversation online is pretty well consumed here.
tat tvam asi wrote:
The MO is helping struggling christians and new exchristians along in their stages of deconversion.
All of these concepts are difficult for me. My view is that a transformation of Christianity to recognise that its original intent was entirely Gnostic, allegorical and symbolic is not the same as deconversion or leaving the Christian faith. My view is about a reform of Christianity to make it compatible with science, celebrating the beauty and wisdom within Christianity while condemning the incoherent pathology of literal supernatural authoritarian traditions.

The atheist line of thinking that faith is a vice that should be opposed is superficial to my way of thinking. I am a regular church goer but I have found no people in the church who I have been able to engage with on my ideas. It seems interest in philosophical theology is a very rare thing, which is tragic. And I am not convinced of the merits of progressive Christianity either, since it mainly seems a way to subordinate faith beneath politics, without serious interest in the cosmology that in my view provides the basis of authentic faith.
tat tvam asi wrote:
So most of the people there either sincerely need or are looking for help from others, or trying to give advice and help those who are looking for it. It's understandably an atheist majority. Christians are welcome to join but are not allowed to make proselytizing posts outside of the informal debate forum called, "The Lions Den." Because proselytizing could be damaging mentally for those who are going through various struggles and conflict. I remember a lot of knowledgeable posters here who would be good candidates for helping out.
Any form of proselytizing that involves belief in supernatural claims in conflict with scientific knowledge is inherently damaging and delusional. It seeks to entice people into a comforting fantasy that rejects modern thought on principle, a very dangerous strategy for mental health and social cohesion.
tat tvam asi wrote:
I went through a divorce two years ago and during that time cut off all forum activity.
Sorry to hear that Tat, hope it has not been too hard for you.
tat tvam asi wrote:
And then kept it going another year or so. I started wading back in at ex-C and I decided to wade back in here too. It's been a while but I see familiar faces on the forum boards, some not so familiar. I'll be trying to make my rounds at both places.
It’s a funny thing this internet forum discussion business. I suspect there are more people who read posts than write them. I find it a valuable way to test and clarify my views.
tat tvam asi wrote:
Unfortunately after DM Murdock passed away her forums dwindled down in activity.
And now the Free Thought Nation forum is not even available to view, which is a great shame, although Freethinkaluva told me he could put it back up. Acharya was a genius, but flawed in many ways. Too secretive, unable to engage enough with academic scholars, although that was understandable to some extent given how different her perspective was from established modern assumptions. I disagreed with her argument that Christianity began as a rehash of older religions, since it seems to me the integrating synthesis of God into history that was the decisive innovation of Christian mythology brought something entirely new and important. The whole business of reading the texts as parable rather than history is so foreign to believers and non-believers alike.
tat tvam asi wrote:
So I'll be limiting my attention to just these two forums and leaving it there. I got pretty burnt out on arguing with apologists 24/7 for the better part of the last 15 years, usually to no avail. Since going back into forums I've kept the debate factor on the light side. It is what it is.
I generally have no interest in arguing with apologists unless they challenge my views, which only happens rarely. My research this year has focussed on Jung, with his argument in Answer to Job that religion presents psychic rather than physical truths, which Harry and I discussed at some length here at booktalk.

Thanks for sharing, and look forward to seeing more of your comments here.


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Post Re: ex-christian.net
There are two problematic aspects of traditional Christianity which a person should get help recovering from, but unfortunately there are few alternatives that create a community. And that is a problematic aspect of atheistic materialism.

Traditional Christianity promoted a view of the supernatural as an alternative to meaning in this life. That view is riddled with problems, starting with its role as the opiate of the people: rather than struggle and organize and try to take power (or, more likely, get killed trying) the ordinary people of past centuries could look to meaning that avoided the issues of power structures and found transcendental meaning in the everyday, by magnifying through a "judgement" lens. Not an entirely bad idea, but it hooks the fear motivation and thus sets up some unhealthy and addictive patterns of thought and relationship.

We now understand, primarily in Progressive Christianity but it is making its way to more evangelical and non-denominational venues, that the meaning found for the average person in the everyday does not need to be overlaid by judgementalism to provide spiritual nourishment. This suggests to me that the judgementalism may have been adopted because it appeased a wrathful inner reaction to the rule by the violent, as Jung would have it.

(Lest the blame for this reaction be put only on monotheism or Christianity, please note that Buddhist karma ideas embody many of the same psychic forces.)

It is difficult for a person to separate from this who has tied their view of their life's meaning to notions of the afterlife. For them, life without Heaven and Hell is in some sense meaningless: they don't know how to connect their feelings to their understandings in such a way that they can validate what they consider important. That is something a website like ex-christians ought to be able to help with.

The second problematic aspect of traditional Christianity, in my opinion, is the way policing of heresy turned "right belief" into a pre-condition for community and a source of scapegoats. A religion which began by embracing the marginal, the proverbial lepers and publicans and prostitutes, which gave dignity to the vast slave class of Hellenistic society, turned into the one that distinguished the acceptable from the unacceptable, most notably to give respectability to "legitimate" children of a church-sanctioned marriage.

Of course that is a tough nest to leave, also. One understands oneself to be an outcast if the world doesn't look to you like the recommended worldview says it is supposed to look. When the irresistible force of scientific learning ran into this immovable object, the result was either Progressive Christianity, in which heterodox views were accepted in a way that followed from scholarly re-examination of the "authoritative" traditions, or fundamentalism, in which the traditions were affirmed out of attachment to all the meanings they carried with them, above all the sense of belonging in the group. In fact in much of America the churches are a hybrid, in which the pews are populated by unexamined fundamentalists and the clergy is Progressive but keeps that part of their understanding quiet. The internal counterpart of this hybrid is a constant state of cognitive dissonance, in which one believes in supernatural claims in the abstract, but feels free to interpret particular miracle stories (e.g. seven-day creation, walking on water, the Virgin Birth) as metaphor or poetry.

Obviously otherworldly meaning structures and Belonging by Belief are a potentially very toxic combination. Insecure leaders who feel their leadership threatened may wield the authority system as a weapon, attacking the scapegoats of the system with authority that is unassailable from within its worldview. Membership who know that the mainstream society regards their system as quaint at best may repress their hostile feelings about this condescension, only to have them erupt in righteous indignation at the abuses and conspiracies of the mainstream society.

And perhaps most seriously, the system is shot through with a lack of autonomy. That is, people's understanding of how the cosmos works does not match up with their experience, and so their values choices are made not out of understanding but out of rejection of much of what they see. It isn't an exaggeration to say that the evangelical view (thinking of "fundamentalism" as the cognitive side and "evangelical" as the sociological phenomenon) asks people to do the right thing for reasons they choose precisely by rejecting "ordinary" understanding. These are reasons they therefore cannot even properly understand, much less verify with evidence. So one's inner feelings about doing right are tied up intimately with "things we cannot understand", making a grand opportunity for manipulators and hucksters, and a nasty reaction to evidence-based worldviews.

So what could be problematic about advocating for leaving such quicksand? Well, the community of faith (read that as "trust") is an affirming and supportive social structure. It isn't mostly about judging outsiders and reprobates. The sociology of the community re-enacts the theology of salvation by grace, as the ancient ritual of communion (originally a partaking together of the Passover meal) symbolizes. It encourages self-examination far more than it encourages judgment of others. Pot luck dinners, Sunday School songs, and touch football at the church picnics are healthy, valuable patterns. Some people may thrive better on independence and making up their own minds about life, but most people need the belonging.

So what are the alternatives? Progressive Christianity and Reconstruction Judaism are very intellectually-oriented, having trouble connecting with the heart. In part this is because the rituals are outdated, referring back to a worldview in which the supernatural was the language of serious meaning. To the extent that there are any new rituals, they tend to look like political demonstrations and petition-signing. But there is a gradual process in liturgy, music and Christian education, of leaving behind the awkward symbols and moving toward an autonomous worldview with affirmation of others at the center.

There are also non-theistic communities, including the Humanists and the Unitarian Universalists, who do pretty well despite being even more intellectually oriented than the general run of Progressive religion. I find them more than a little lop-sided, for example in reluctance to teach principles to children. As if, by rejecting an authority-based explanation of such principles, they become shy about really getting into the issues. Not getting into them intellectually, of course. Humanists and UU's are usually good for a stimulating discussion of an ethical question. But to actually teach children that stealing is wrong, for example, seems a little too authoritarian for them. Not always, but sometimes. How can parents, seeking affirmation for their own internal commitments, relate to that?



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Post Re: ex-christian.net
History of Stonyhurst College
The History of Stonyhurst College as a school dates back to 1593 when its antecedent, the Jesuit College at St Omer, was founded in Flanders to educate English Catholics. The history of the present school buildings dates as far back as 1200 AD.

Today we visited Stonyhurst to look at their museum which they have just begun to open to the public on Wednesdays. Some breathtaking libraries with first folios of Shakespeare and etc . They trained Jesuit Priests there. Some very prominent and famous names were educated there.

Rich embroidery and relics. The Jesuits were phenomenally wealthy.

Around about the same time the Lancashire Pendle witches were tried and hung at the county town of Lancaster. The witches were the local wise women, poor and of the people.

Martin Luther is depicted as a stuffed monkey there. It is a very Catholic establishment.

In a way, they were having the same argument that we are having today. Is religion a subliminal and evil influence or is a world without ‘God’ unthinkable?

It made me feel sad.


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Post Re: ex-christian.net
Yeah guys and gals, basically christianity has put a mental wrench on many people. If you stroll through the introductions and testimonies sections you'll read through a lot of ways in which the churches, their authoritarian influence from the top down, into individual families, has created much grief and resentment for a lot of people. We often discuss the "none's" here in the US (no religious affiliation) as fast growing. It's not hard to see why.

Robert, I've gone through some Jordon Peterson videos on youtube and his main claim to association with christianity and religion is through what he vaguely discusses as, "the metaphorical substrate," of western civilization. He's a Jungian. And I understand his comments as reference to the transcendent principle more so than a literalist idea of God. But Peterson seems of the opinion that the metaphor of God is necessary for a moral western society. Now I tend to disagree on that point but you may well agree with him, considering some of our past discussions. I don't know, though, it's been many years since we've discussed morality free and clear of God belief, perhaps you see it differently now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQXSqxPCGWQ

Peterson and Prager are of similar opinions, although Dennis Prager is more of a literalist than Jordon Peterson. That has been a topic of discussion that we can air out here as well. My take is that what ever moral sense we currently have in western society, became as such via EVOLUTION, both biologically and socially over time. God as metaphor, for instance, is something that evolved over long periods of time. Looking at it objectively, primitive mythology was a far cry from what we find today in the religious venues of the world. Animism, polytheism, monolatry, finally gave way to monotheism after long periods of time. And monotheistic judaism appears to have arisen as a political means of socialization, where the "gods" of old were cast aside in favor of one particular faction bolstering their national God eventually to supreme deity status. This is the basic academic history of western monotheism, therefore western ideas like the Ten Commandments and all that guys like Dennis Prager (of Prager U) focus on as the "God" given basis for human morality.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TK57RiMqTdk

Obviously, the existence of a transcendent being who has to dictate to us what an "objective morality" consists of, is a rather tough, if not impossible academic and intellectually honest argument to try and make. So the Prager's of the world seem a dying breed as far as that goes.

Next in line, are the Jordon Peterson's, and possible this applies to you too Robert. This is where it's admitted that God is not literal in the conventional sense, but still insisted as holding relevance to maintaining western morality, regardless of the distinctions between literal and metaphorical God beliefs.

The thing is, so many people are becoming either irreligious or non-theistic but these same people are not looking it at dumping belief and religion as some type of "golden ticket" or free pass to all out immorality and debauchery. It's actually quite the contrary when you involve yourself with the non-believers camps of the world. In a lot of ways we're more focused on morality but much more so from a philosophical libertarian, completely voluntary perspective as opposed to dictated, forced and authoritarian. Indeed, the mod team of ex-C is run by classical liberal, liberal and conservative libertarian type mixes. That's just where the main thrust of ex Christian life has landed for various reasons. But those reasons come down to parting ways with an often immoral authoritarian system of churches which we've outgrown and risen to opposition against. The result is a focus on personal liberal and freedoms. Along with a morality based on what it always has been anyways, minus the smoke and mirrors of religion, which is completely a social construct which can maintain itself accordingly through political, not religious methodology.

So we're encouraging morality in the absence of christianity and conventional theistic belief despite claims by guys like Prager and Peterson to the contrary.


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Last edited by tat tvam asi on Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:12 pm, edited 3 times in total.



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Post Re: ex-christian.net
Hi Harry!

It's nice to see you again! I am the American guy who lives in Japan, who, on that other forum, couldn't shut up about William Blake for about 10 years. We had many good discussions over there, and I am pleased to find you. It's not stalking! After the other place shut down, I made a go of it on a proud atheist site, but found that the anti-religion views were anti-philosophy as well, and didn't fit in. I found this place through a very general Google search. It is great to see the high level of discussion here, and to see you in good form.

Harry Marks wrote:
But to actually teach children that stealing is wrong, for example, seems a little too authoritarian for them. Not always, but sometimes. How can parents, seeking affirmation for their own internal commitments, relate to that?


To all:

What Harry's written here, in the quote above, prompts some reaction. Recently I read a couple of books by Philip Rieff, a conservative sociologist who used to be more popular. I don't know how much he's read these days.

His Big Idea is that in the last century we all made a big shift from an Authoritarian Culture to a Culture of Therapy. He blames the change on Freud, but of course it was caused by many things, including the conflict between supernatural styles of religious belief and science. In his early books he tries to be a bit balanced, and point out the good and bad of both cultures, but as he goes along he becomes more outspoken about the dangers of a therapeutic society.

To oversimplify: Freud, following Darwin, a bit like Nietzsche, concluded that because people are animals and there is no supernatural authority, that there is no Truth, no final answer to our problems, and nothing we can do that's better than muddling along. As a result, he says, we no longer recognize an overall moral good -- a cause or system which is greater than the individual. Instead, we look to ameliorate our own troubles in our own ways.

I was surprised to read anybody making a case for authority in the 20th century. It seems like a dirty word, in most contexts. We are Americans, we love freedom, all our pop culture is about rebellion against authority, and "think for yourself" is the motto of every faction there is. Rieff of course doesn't advocate a mindless knuckling-under. When he writes of authority, he mentions the greats of the past, like Augustine (though Rieff himself was Jewish) or wise fiction writers. These are authoritative in the sense that they have something to teach, they are almost certainly wiser than I am, and if I dismiss them without careful engagement I am only hurting myself.

This struck a chord with me because of my dealings with confident atheists on the Internet. As I say, many such people are entirely anti-authority in that they see themselves as fully qualified to reject the great thinkers of the past. I've been told that Dante is "silly." That Aristotle took ideas that are clear to everyone and tried to make them complicated just to make himself feel important.

It really shocks me to think that I might be, in some ways, conservative!

____________

tat tvam asi,

These things come to mind a bit due to your description of the ex-Christian site. When you mention "philosophical libertarian, completely voluntary perspective as opposed to dictated, forced and authoritarian" it prompts my mental snow-globe spinning again. First, I wonder if "dictated, forced and authoritarian" is the only, or the real, opposite of "philosophical libertarian, completely voluntary".

Second, it reminds me that when people leave the authoritarian views of some types of Christianity, it doesn't mean that they are thereby leaving illusion for truth, necessarily. It may well be that they are in fact signing on to a different view of things that is nonetheless contingent and socially constructed. I suspect that such a thing is inevitable and not at all to be sneered at, just that it means that the newly-found view is also subject to analysis.

I am certainly NOT, I hasten to add, opposing the project of the ex-Christian site. I do not doubt that many people have been harmed by unintelligent churches. Nor am I planning to go over there and complicate matters. (You know how people talk about a "resting bitch face," where when a person's face is at rest they tend to look bitchy? I seem to come across as fighty sometimes when I only want to ponder things.)

Philip Rieff died before the Jordan Peterson phenomenon, but from his analysis of Jung it's clear what he would say about it. To Rieff, Freud is the brave pioneer who held that there is no deeper truth to things. Jung, he says, is less brave in that he adopts some of Freud's views but attempts to reorganize them into a timeless, all-structuring system.

___________

Everyone, this has been my first post ever on this forum, and if I've messed up on formatting or on local traditions I apologize. I am impressed by the serious and courteous discussion here, which gave me the courage to try my hand at it.



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Post Re: ex-christian.net
Belaqua wrote:
Hi Harry! It's nice to see you again! I am the American guy who lives in Japan, who, on that other forum, couldn't shut up about William Blake for about 10 years. We had many good discussions over there, and I am pleased to find you. It's not stalking! After the other place shut down, I made a go of it on a proud atheist site, but found that the anti-religion views were anti-philosophy as well, and didn't fit in. I found this place through a very general Google search. It is great to see the high level of discussion here, and to see you in good form.

Hi there! I fear that if I use your other moniker people will start calling you by that name, but I well remember our discussions, especially about Blake.

I'm sorry to hear that the other forum shut down. What will happen to Popelissima Karen, and Island Girl, and the moderator who used to go around bumping old threads (I can't believe I have forgotten his name ,.-)
and Skoorby (?) and all the others? Those were good times.

I like BookTalk very much, but I think it could use more commentators. Or maybe I just need to be more brief so people will respond more.

I hope things are going well in Japan. As I recall your mother-in-law was very old, and I wonder how things have gone for her.
Belaqua wrote:
Recently I read a couple of books by Philip Rieff, a conservative sociologist who used to be more popular. I don't know how much he's read these days.

His Big Idea is that in the last century we all made a big shift from an Authoritarian Culture to a Culture of Therapy.
In his early books he tries to be a bit balanced, and point out the good and bad of both cultures, but as he goes along he becomes more outspoken about the dangers of a therapeutic society.

To oversimplify: Freud, following Darwin, a bit like Nietzsche, concluded that because people are animals and there is no supernatural authority, that there is no Truth, no final answer to our problems, and nothing we can do that's better than muddling along. As a result, he says, we no longer recognize an overall moral good -- a cause or system which is greater than the individual. Instead, we look to ameliorate our own troubles in our own ways.

There is an odd paradox embedded in this diagnosis. Maybe two. First, it is important to recognize overall moral good, but we almost always conceptualize that as *an* overall moral good, i.e. a single, accurate system. If it's true, (as I recently saw on a reputable forum,) then it has always been true. Unfortunately moral truth doesn't work like that.

This helps me to understand Kierkegaard, whom I have recently been re-reading. (Up to my old ways, of course.) He talks about the particular, by contrast with the universal, and acknowledges the difficulties of having faith in part because it requires putting the particular above the universal. I am seeing that as a requirement to have moral commitment to the morality we perceive, even though in modernity we recognize that we probably have some aspects wrong. So even though we know, in some sense of knowing, that we are just muddling along, we can love our particular moral truth as if it is universal.

Blake, of course, saw all this in a grain of sand.

If there is a second paradoxical aspect of this, it is that authority is therapeutic. We want to believe that when we encounter great insight we will instantly recognize it and incorporate it into our (no doubt immaculate) understanding of life. But my experience has been that the really deep stuff keeps coming back, over and over, and I keep coming back to it. I think what is going on is that there is so much antinomy in real wisdom that when some sage has found some advancement in our tools for dealing with it, we don't have sufficient subtlety of thought to get the whole lesson. We have to process it with the insights we have when we hear it, and then come back to it when we are more able to see how it makes things fit (and then again later, etc. Rinse and repeat.)

So pursuing therapeutic untangling of knots for its own sake is probably not very wise (depending on how knotty they have gotten themselves, of course). Instead we have to set out on the journey, and for the most part follow the sages, and trust that it is the right journey and will take us where we need to go.
Belaqua wrote:
I was surprised to read anybody making a case for authority in the 20th century. It seems like a dirty word, in most contexts. We are Americans, we love freedom, all our pop culture is about rebellion against authority, and "think for yourself" is the motto of every faction there is. Rieff of course doesn't advocate a mindless knuckling-under. When he writes of authority, he mentions the greats of the past, like Augustine (though Rieff himself was Jewish) or wise fiction writers. These are authoritative in the sense that they have something to teach, they are almost certainly wiser than I am, and if I dismiss them without careful engagement I am only hurting myself.

It really shocks me to think that I might be, in some ways, conservative!
Well, that's what you get for reading Aristotle and Dante. Bernie Sanders and Jacques Derrida cannot save you.

I want to give more thought to listening to authority while thinking for myself. Obviously one aspect of making that work is humility, which our current Dear Leader is making clear is also not a characteristic of American culture. I mean, one has to recognize that one is unable to fully appreciate the wisdom of an authority even while responding to the light it gives one. (Even while recognizing that in some ways they got it wrong, like Aristotle on slavery and women).

My question is where the arrogance of the counterculture of authoritarianism comes from. Why is wisdom threatening to some people, requiring them to circle the wagons around their own little lamppost? (Still love to pyle on the mixed metaphors.) Is it just normal anxiety about life, and they are more sensitive to it, or more likely to react in terms of some need to get everyone to agree on a party line? Or is it something that comes of ignorance itself, making anything that challenges one's ideas seem too threatening?
____________
Belaqua wrote:
(You know how people talk about a "resting bitch face," where when a person's face is at rest they tend to look bitchy? I seem to come across as fighty sometimes when I only want to ponder things.)
I think Tat Tvam Asi is pretty solid in his own understanding of life, and won't be threatened by your pondersome questions. Just my hunch.
___________

Belaqua wrote:
Everyone, this has been my first post ever on this forum, and if I've messed up on formatting or on local traditions I apologize. I am impressed by the serious and courteous discussion here, which gave me the courage to try my hand at it.
No toes stepped on that I noticed. We are an odd crew, but I hope you find it welcoming here.



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Post Re: ex-christian.net
tat tvam asi wrote:
christianity has put a mental wrench on many people.
Hi Tat, I have started reading the new Booktalk non-fiction selection, Finding Purpose in a Godless World - by Ralph Lewis (Foreword by Michael Shermer). The themes you raise here are relevant to Lewis’s arguments, so you might like to check out the threads there, which I think raise general issues even for people who don’t have time to read the book. This ‘mental wrench’ concept you describe is a perplexing problem, extending beyond fundamentalism into mainstream Christianity.
tat tvam asi wrote:
If you stroll through the introductions and testimonies sections you'll read through a lot of ways in which the churches, their authoritarian influence from the top down, into individual families, has created much grief and resentment for a lot of people.
The church in Australia is in retreat from its authoritarian background, especially since that pattern of conduct was proved to provide haven for paedophiles who have been exposed big time through a judicial commission which has resulted in a Catholic Archbishop being sentenced to prison and virtually sacked by the pope. The church has lost much authority by using its authority to suppress information about the widespread wicked actions of its staff.
tat tvam asi wrote:
We often discuss the "none's" here in the US (no religious affiliation) as fast growing. It's not hard to see why.
Losing one's religion is a natural response to a modern evidence-based morality and the new scale of information availability. I see the loss of affiliation as far more complex than the surface impressions may suggest, involving deep-seated questions of transmission of cultural values which were formerly embedded in myth. The problem of Christianity is that its core myth is that its myth is not a myth. I think we are seeing a retreat by religion to a recognition that its myths are myths.
tat tvam asi wrote:
Robert, I've gone through some Jordon Peterson videos on youtube and his main claim to association with christianity and religion is through what he vaguely discusses as, "the metaphorical substrate," of western civilization. He's a Jungian. And I understand his comments as reference to the transcendent principle more so than a literalist idea of God.
I started reading Jordan Peterson’s bestselling book 12 Rules for Life, which I liked a lot, but I am not sure when I might get back to finish it. As I read him he is trying to reconcile spirituality and reason through a functional approach to religious practice. A problem with this whole approach of seeing religion in psychological and sociological terms is that as soon as people responsible for ritual admit that their statements are allegory, the magic disappears and they lose credibility and authority and charisma among conventional worshipers. Allegory functions in popular faith as an unstated esoteric understanding, a status which leads the original allegorical intent of Bible writers to be neglected.
tat tvam asi wrote:
But Peterson seems of the opinion that the metaphor of God is necessary for a moral western society. Now I tend to disagree on that point but you may well agree with him, considering some of our past discussions. I don't know, though, it's been many years since we've discussed morality free and clear of God belief, perhaps you see it differently now.
How I see the metaphor of God is that life and the cosmos involves a regular orderly structure, which is primarily what myths about God are describing in symbolic terms. The concept of God becomes most important for a mass audience, where the theological philosophy of how it functions in psychology retreats to the background and the language turns to poetry and song aimed at swaying emotions.

My interest includes how the connection can be retained between the academic allegorical scholarship and the mass marketing. I think the preacher at the British royal wedding this year did a good job in that regard, whereas most religion fails. The opposing sides, right and left respectively, present a thick-headed literalism or try to demythologise faith. Neither method is sustainable for a modern mass audience.

It should be possible to celebrate the ideas of Jesus Christ while remaining agnostic on the question of whether he was real or fictional. At the same time, the argument that Jesus was invented has immense moral power as an insight into the degraded psychology and sociology of our species.
tat tvam asi wrote:
what ever moral sense we currently have in western society, became as such via EVOLUTION, both biologically and socially over time. God as metaphor, for instance, is something that evolved over long periods of time. Looking at it objectively, primitive mythology was a far cry from what we find today in the religious venues of the world.
My sense is that literalism evolved as a political security doctrine under Christendom, and that the view of Gods as actually existing entities had far less traction in ancient times than is usually assumed.

The myths of actual existence of Jesus and God are primary sources of power and influence for Christianity, growing like weeds among the good seed of symbolic imagination. Come the end of the age, the wheat and tares will be separated at harvest, according to the parable.
tat tvam asi wrote:
Animism, polytheism, monolatry, finally gave way to monotheism after long periods of time.
This illustrates the imperial politics of monotheism, its capacity to support a unified state where sedition is prevented through control of language and elimination of diversity. And that is the big theme of our current Booktalk fiction selection, George Orwell’s 1984. I think Orwell modelled Big Brother on the Pope, Stalin and the whole imperial worship of the Caesar/Kaiser/Tsar/King.
tat tvam asi wrote:
And monotheistic judaism appears to have arisen as a political means of socialization, where the "gods" of old were cast aside in favor of one particular faction bolstering their national God eventually to supreme deity status.
My take is that the key theme of the Old Testament prophets was military security. With Israel a tiny place amidst big empires, its existence could only be secured through reputation, earned through good relations with neighbours, grounded in shared ethics about God. Hence the prophetic idea in writers like Jeremiah that by cultivating a bad reputation the Jews left themselves open to invasion and deportation.

The rise of metal technology made this authoritarian patriarchal hierarchical monotheism inevitable as a basis for national unity in the circumstances of ancient Israel, but the Gospels reject that model in favour of universal inclusion.

The church took the alliance of throne and altar from the Old Testament, and the myth of redemption without its loving content from the New Testament. Pretending to follow Jesus delivered enormous social cachet for Christendom.
tat tvam asi wrote:
the existence of a transcendent being who has to dictate to us what an "objective morality" consists of, is a rather tough, if not impossible academic and intellectually honest argument to try and make.
God-literalism serves well as a military security doctrine for an expanding empire, but not as a sustainable vision of salvation or redemption or inclusion or modern morality.
tat tvam asi wrote:
So the Pragers of the world seem a dying breed as far as that goes.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Prager tells us PragerU videos have had a billion or so views. My sense is that conservative religion involves a dogmatic literalism that increasingly leaves young people cold. I have now had a quick look at Prager's website, as I had not heard of him before. My interest is the lack of coherence. Some of his arguments look highly plausible, but others are insane. To me a litmus test of rationality is the attitude to global warming. Anyone who says man is not dangerously changing the climate is a moron or dupe, since the science is settled. But the problem is there is a whole constellation of related issues in how the mythology around global warming plays out in politics and culture, which naturally gives deniers like Prager traction and audience.
tat tvam asi wrote:

Next in line, are the Jordon Peterson's, and possible this applies to you too Robert. This is where it's admitted that God is not literal in the conventional sense, but still insisted as holding relevance to maintaining western morality, regardless of the distinctions between literal and metaphorical God beliefs.
God is a marker for concepts that are too hard to understand, about how and why nature relates to human flourishing, and the risks to those processes. Speaking about God can simplify those insights for a popular audience. The fact that traditional concepts of God, especially YEC, are actually hostile to human flourishing through their disparagement of evidence and logic, puts the whole idea of God into disrepute.


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Post Re: ex-christian.net
belaqua wrote:
tat tvam asi,

These things come to mind a bit due to your description of the ex-Christian site. When you mention "philosophical libertarian, completely voluntary perspective as opposed to dictated, forced and authoritarian" it prompts my mental snow-globe spinning again. First, I wonder if "dictated, forced and authoritarian" is the only, or the real, opposite of "philosophical libertarian, completely voluntary".

Second, it reminds me that when people leave the authoritarian views of some types of Christianity, it doesn't mean that they are thereby leaving illusion for truth, necessarily. It may well be that they are in fact signing on to a different view of things that is nonetheless contingent and socially constructed. I suspect that such a thing is inevitable and not at all to be sneered at, just that it means that the newly-found view is also subject to analysis.

I am certainly NOT, I hasten to add, opposing the project of the ex-Christian site. I do not doubt that many people have been harmed by unintelligent churches. Nor am I planning to go over there and complicate matters. (You know how people talk about a "resting bitch face," where when a person's face is at rest they tend to look bitchy? I seem to come across as fighty sometimes when I only want to ponder things.)

Philip Rieff died before the Jordan Peterson phenomenon, but from his analysis of Jung it's clear what he would say about it. To Rieff, Freud is the brave pioneer who held that there is no deeper truth to things. Jung, he says, is less brave in that he adopts some of Freud's views but attempts to reorganize them into a timeless, all-structuring system.


I just mean loosely speaking, on the new political scales that go left to right (liberal to conservative) as well as top to bottom (between authority and liberty). The vast majority of ex christians there come out as liberal libertarians, left of center and about mid way down in the libertarian lower left quadrant. It's just where most of us wound up after leaving christianity. By and large, most ex christians were GOP Republican's prior to deconverting. Right wing and more authoritarian. So there's some resentment towards conservatism for it's relation to the religious right, but that's been changing due to the rise of radical extremism on the left. There's more ex christians going atheist and agnostic but staying right of center leaning than there probably was ten years ago. The point being, that after submitting to the authority of the churches we're just not a very authoritative lot after transitioning to disbelief. We tend not to like authoritarianism from the left or right.

Now of course this obviously doesn't broad brush or blanket the whole lot, but it speaks to general trends within the global community of ex christians. We have a lot of members from Europe, Canada, some from Asia and many from Australia and New Zealand. The non US members tend to trend towards philosophical, liberal, libertarianism and classical liberalism as well. And the overwhelming religious views are agnostic and atheist from around the world. We have a spirituality section that I try and keep up the moderating with, but it's slow, real slow. And that's because after having taken the blinders off with christianity there a lot of, "fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me," type of attitude going around. And that's understandable considering the fact that these are people who have had their entire world view vanish and the rug pulled out from under them in many cases.

I'm more of a pantheistic, or spiritual minded atheist when it comes to eastern philosophy, meditation, and even the hard problem of consciousness the more controversial issues about reality. Still atheist, but sympathetic to exploring mind and non supernaturalist issues of human spirituality. So you're more than likely in good company with me, more so than many hard edge atheist's who are unsympathetic into those speculative areas.

Anywho, thanks for posting. Welcome to the site!


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Post Re: ex-christian.net
Robert Tulip wrote:
The church in Australia is in retreat from its authoritarian background, especially since that pattern of conduct was proved to provide haven for paedophiles who have been exposed big time through a judicial commission which has resulted in a Catholic Archbishop being sentenced to prison and virtually sacked by the pope. The church has lost much authority by using its authority to suppress information about the widespread wicked actions of its staff.


This is quite interesting. I suppose that could be a hint of global trends to come.

Quote:
God is a marker for concepts that are too hard to understand, about how and why nature relates to human flourishing, and the risks to those processes. Speaking about God can simplify those insights for a popular audience. The fact that traditional concepts of God, especially YEC, are actually hostile to human flourishing through their disparagement of evidence and logic, puts the whole idea of God into disrepute.


This is always a unique view coming from a christian atheist. I would think that you could get certain things through to Peterson that many atheists don't seem to get through to him. His problem with atheism seems to stem from it's involvement with communist Russia as an ideology and that sort of thing. Since he's counter to the far leftist views of Marxist, Communist and Socialist ideologies, most of which come along with atheistic views towards religion, he tends to throw the baby out with the bathwater as he slices and dices left wing ideologies. But I think you and I understand what's he done in the process. Atheism does not necessarily lead to self interest and a complete lack of moral sense. Nor should loosing belief in a literal God who hands down objective morality from the clouds send people into stealing and murdering rampages. Peterson tends to raise straw men in those directions when in dialogue with prominent atheist voices. But much of his discourse on Marxist college professors and SJW culture is more or less spot on. So I have a bit of an agree / disagree relationship with Peterson's work.


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Post Re: ex-christian.net
Welcome back TaT....Went by Starburst on here years ago when I rejoined I could not remember my e-mail or password so I joined as Under-taker...Been out of this religious debate for years now as I found it was a total waste of energy and time...Debating religion is pointless in my book its had to long to dig its blood sucking fangs into society as a whole. But I am glad to see that you and Robert are still going strong at it. :clap:

Was real sorry to hear about Murdock I am sure she is sorely missed by those that enjoyed her work....



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Post Re: ex-christian.net
Harry Marks wrote:

I'm sorry to hear that the other forum shut down. What will happen to Popelissima Karen, and Island Girl, and the moderator who used to go around bumping old threads (I can't believe I have forgotten his name ,.-)
and Skoorby (?) and all the others? Those were good times.



Looking back, that whole thing was more important to me than I was willing to admit at the time. I'm glad we did it.

Karen, of course, is indefatigably friendly, and keeps in touch with several of the Amazon regulars on Facebook. Skoorby is married now with two little boys, but is still his passionate Aristotelian self. He must be finishing up his doctorate about now. Sad to say, I expect that contact with 'probabilist is lost. He is a great guy.

And it's kind of you to ask: mom-in-law is 95 now and totters around the house doing things she thinks will be helpful, like putting the bananas away in a dresser drawer so we can find them two months later. She is a full time job and I would have been driven crazy long ago if not for elder day care services.

Quote:

I want to give more thought to listening to authority while thinking for myself. Obviously one aspect of making that work is humility, which our current Dear Leader is making clear is also not a characteristic of American culture. I mean, one has to recognize that one is unable to fully appreciate the wisdom of an authority even while responding to the light it gives one.



Yes, humility is the key, surely. The pessimists I read claim that America has never been good at humility, even long before the current arrogance-in-chief. It continues to shock me the way people are willing to dismiss wonderful things, based on absolute trust in their own opinions.

Quote:

My question is where the arrogance of the counterculture of authoritarianism comes from. Why is wisdom threatening to some people, requiring them to circle the wagons around their own little lamppost? (Still love to pyle on the mixed metaphors.) Is it just normal anxiety about life, and they are more sensitive to it, or more likely to react in terms of some need to get everyone to agree on a party line? Or is it something that comes of ignorance itself, making anything that challenges one's ideas seem too threatening?



Nice to see the correct spelling of pyle for a change.

Freud wrote somewhere that rebellion against authority can happen for two reasons: as an attempt to redress injustice, or as an expression of our animal desire to be free of restrictions -- even though such restrictions are required for civilization. I suppose that any individual is too close to the problem, and too full of subconscious and ulterior motives, to know quite which one is going on.



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Post Re: ex-christian.net
tat tvam asi wrote:

I just mean loosely speaking, on the new political scales that go left to right (liberal to conservative) as well as top to bottom (between authority and liberty). The vast majority of ex christians there come out as liberal libertarians, left of center and about mid way down in the libertarian lower left quadrant. It's just where most of us wound up after leaving christianity. By and large, most ex christians were GOP Republican's prior to deconverting. Right wing and more authoritarian. So there's some resentment towards conservatism for it's relation to the religious right, but that's been changing due to the rise of radical extremism on the left. There's more ex christians going atheist and agnostic but staying right of center leaning than there probably was ten years ago. The point being, that after submitting to the authority of the churches we're just not a very authoritative lot after transitioning to disbelief. We tend not to like authoritarianism from the left or right.



This is really interesting to me.

A lot of people who leave Christianity treat it as a conclusion simply from empirical evidence concerning the existence of God. They say they are switching from religion to no-religion in the same way that a person might go from believing in Bigfoot to not believing in Bigfoot. But I suspect there is way more to it than that.

Since Christianity has never been solely, or even mainly, about belief as intellectual assent to a proposition, leaving it will entail a big change in one's view of the whole world, I would think. And what ex-Christians move away from (in their perception) and what they choose instead (in their view) will be pretty much all-encompassing.

It makes sense that when leaving an authority-based worldview, they would opt for something more free. Since I can't read minds, I can't say exactly whether they are fleeing foolish religion, or running toward self-indulgence. Or something else, which we could certainly phrase in less accusatory terms than I just used.

Anyway, if I were a sociologist, I think I would study this.



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Post Re: ex-christian.net
Belaqua wrote:
Looking back, that whole thing was more important to me than I was willing to admit at the time. I'm glad we did it.

Well, the time during which you were accused of being a secret theist, an agent provocateur perhaps, for not being categorical enough in your condemnations, was very eye-opening for me. I should have known that simply claiming the mantle of reason and evidence would not mean a person really believed in them, but it kind of hit home at that point.

Belaqua wrote:
Sad to say, I expect that contact with 'probabilist is lost. He is a great guy.
Well, maybe some day I will go searching for stories of swashbuckling programmers and turn him up under another name. Stranger things have happened.

Belaqua wrote:
And it's kind of you to ask: mom-in-law is 95 now and totters around the house doing things she thinks will be helpful, like putting the bananas away in a dresser drawer so we can find them two months later.
Best of luck coping. It is a trying time of life, though not necessarily for the one who is slipping into senility.

Belaqua wrote:
Freud wrote somewhere that rebellion against authority can happen for two reasons: as an attempt to redress injustice, or as an expression of our animal desire to be free of restrictions -- even though such restrictions are required for civilization.
Many analysts these days are putting the authoritarian wave down to libertarian urges. Is it just me or does that sound like a total contradiction? We have this looking glass world in which "liberals" are out to control people (take away guns in order to mount a coup d'etat, take away pickup trucks to protect the envrionment, persecute the religious, etc.) but is the answer to have government be more committed to securing liberty? No, of course not, because government is where the threat lies, so the answer is to build a bigger military. Or something. I can't follow it, frankly.

Belaqua wrote:
A lot of people who leave Christianity treat it as a conclusion simply from empirical evidence concerning the existence of God. They say they are switching from religion to no-religion in the same way that a person might go from believing in Bigfoot to not believing in Bigfoot. But I suspect there is way more to it than that.

Since Christianity has never been solely, or even mainly, about belief as intellectual assent to a proposition, leaving it will entail a big change in one's view of the whole world, I would think. And what ex-Christians move away from (in their perception) and what they choose instead (in their view) will be pretty much all-encompassing.

Surely this is correct, and I know few exceptions within the list of stories of such changes of worldview. Yet it is also true, in the "emic" view (i.e. from within the transition) that it feels like being about the intellectual issue. One can often take an "etic" view of one's own process after gaining some distance with time, but the contrast is striking. Haidt should study this.

Of course the "all encompassing" nature of the new worldview is easy to exaggerate. When people leave cults they do not usually go looking for some similarly unifying picture of things. Rather they remember what it is like to trust ordinary people, including family.

A lot of the transition out of evangelical religion is a transition from trusting familiar people about things they cannot possibly know for sure to trusting that unfamiliar (e.g. not personally known) people have studied something enough to know it pretty well for sure. Who you trust is the big issue. But of course central to that is trusting yourself enough to evaluate claims about truth for yourself. This comes up in the next chapter of the "Finding Meaning" book.



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Post Re: ex-christian.net
Belaqua wrote:
tat tvam asi wrote:

I just mean loosely speaking, on the new political scales that go left to right (liberal to conservative) as well as top to bottom (between authority and liberty). The vast majority of ex christians there come out as liberal libertarians, left of center and about mid way down in the libertarian lower left quadrant. It's just where most of us wound up after leaving christianity. By and large, most ex christians were GOP Republican's prior to deconverting. Right wing and more authoritarian. So there's some resentment towards conservatism for it's relation to the religious right, but that's been changing due to the rise of radical extremism on the left. There's more ex christians going atheist and agnostic but staying right of center leaning than there probably was ten years ago. The point being, that after submitting to the authority of the churches we're just not a very authoritative lot after transitioning to disbelief. We tend not to like authoritarianism from the left or right.



This is really interesting to me.

A lot of people who leave Christianity treat it as a conclusion simply from empirical evidence concerning the existence of God. They say they are switching from religion to no-religion in the same way that a person might go from believing in Bigfoot to not believing in Bigfoot. But I suspect there is way more to it than that.

Since Christianity has never been solely, or even mainly, about belief as intellectual assent to a proposition, leaving it will entail a big change in one's view of the whole world, I would think. And what ex-Christians move away from (in their perception) and what they choose instead (in their view) will be pretty much all-encompassing.

It makes sense that when leaving an authority-based worldview, they would opt for something more free. Since I can't read minds, I can't say exactly whether they are fleeing foolish religion, or running toward self-indulgence. Or something else, which we could certainly phrase in less accusatory terms than I just used.

Anyway, if I were a sociologist, I think I would study this.


There's a lot to psycho analyze just reading around through the forums. Many different thinking trends that various people fall into following the leaving behind of an orthodox belief system. You could pick out a bunch.


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