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Old 5th January 2019, 11:08 AM   #201
xterra
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Those are all good points xterra, but I think for some (many actually), religion can supply peace and hope, particularly in difficult times, as well as a sense of belonging that is not the same as that found in non-religious groups.

Peace, perhaps.

Hope of what?

Belonging, also perhaps. However, if, as I and others here believe, there is no evidence for the existence of a(ny) god, isn't this a false sense of belonging? Or the equivalent of belonging to the Church of the Leprechaun, whose messengers are purple unicorns?


I know you're seeking and wondering and questioning. Please understand that I am not denigrating you or your search. You've chosen a hard road, and one that potentially could isolate you from the community you've inhabited for a long while.


While you're doing that, consider the difference between believe in and believe that.
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Old 5th January 2019, 11:31 AM   #202
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Originally Posted by mattobrien85 View Post
Religion can provide benifits such a community and ritual. It is not just about literalism.
So can a biker gang. So what?
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Old 5th January 2019, 11:57 AM   #203
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Many are also looking for leadership, direction and counsel, that are provided in a unique way in a religious setting.
No, they're not. There is nothing unique about how religion presents any of that. Religions are a product of their time and their leaders. They tell you nothing you can't get somewhere else. The issue with following them is that you get old, age related materials being twisted and tortured to fit into the issues of today.

I will grant you that religion is easier. If you are looking for a moral code, or life purpose, it is easy to join a religion and have them tell you what those are and to blindly follow. It is much harder to study, and think, for yourself. There are so many people who were better thinkers than Jesus Christ, Muhammed, etc . Read what they had to say and start developing your own sense of what your life means and what your purpose is.
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Old 5th January 2019, 12:28 PM   #204
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Those are all good points xterra, but I think for some (many actually), religion can supply peace and hope, particularly in difficult times, as well as a sense of belonging that is not the same as that found in non-religious groups. Many are also looking for leadership, direction and counsel, that are provided in a unique way in a religious setting. There is, of course, tremendous opportunity for taking advantage of / manipulating people in that sort of situation, but many choose to engage nonetheless.
I imagine it’s as hard to give up the comforts of a god community as it is to give up the comforts of a god belief, regardless that neither are founded on truths. Even harder if giving up the god belief results in the god community (including family) giving up on you. A unique way in a religious setting that a cruel personal rejection is imposed, that is not the same as that found in non-religious groups .
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Old 5th January 2019, 09:42 PM   #205
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Originally Posted by xterra View Post
Peace, perhaps.

Hope of what?

Belonging, also perhaps. However, if, as I and others here believe, there is no evidence for the existence of a(ny) god, isn't this a false sense of belonging? Or the equivalent of belonging to the Church of the Leprechaun, whose messengers are purple unicorns?


I know you're seeking and wondering and questioning. Please understand that I am not denigrating you or your search. You've chosen a hard road, and one that potentially could isolate you from the community you've inhabited for a long while.


While you're doing that, consider the difference between believe in and believe that.
Firstly, thanks for the grace and compassion you conveyed in your post. Much appreciated.

In response to your questions, I suppose hope for life after death is a big one. Hope for some form of reunification with deceased loved ones is another. Hope that there is some purpose to existence at all perhaps as well. If you ask "what do you actually mean when you say that" though, I admit I can't give you a precise (or likely satisfactory) answer. For me, it's primarily a hope that humankind is capable of achieving more than what we have demonstrated so far. That the best parts of human nature (e.g. hope and love and peace and joy etc.) will increasingly be the primary defining characteristics of human civilization.

I don't think belonging to a group that believes in something erroneous is a false sense of belonging, though certainly it would constitute false hope. I also don't really think that the beliefs of those outside of a community have much bearing on those who are a part of it, (unless the outsiders are successful in convincing the insiders that their beliefs are unfounded).

I do think that there is a recent trend of society influencing religion to a greater extent than vice versa (though I can really only speak to my limited experience in western Christianity) and some conservative groups have "dug in their heels" in resistance to this. I will be interested to see if, in the next few decades, this trend increases, flattens, or reverts.
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Old 5th January 2019, 10:00 PM   #206
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
I imagine itís as hard to give up the comforts of a god community as it is to give up the comforts of a god belief, regardless that neither are founded on truths. Even harder if giving up the god belief results in the god community (including family) giving up on you. A unique way in a religious setting that a cruel personal rejection is imposed, that is not the same as that found in non-religious groups .
Hi ynot. You're right that it's been hard for me to choose not to participate in my church community. Just for the record though, my friends and family from my church group have continued to be kind and and encouraging, even though I haven't attended a Sunday morning in about 2 years and therefore see them quite a bit less frequently. So I haven't experienced any rejection.

Also, I have to debate the idea that religious groups have any sort of monopoly of any kind of unique negative behaviour. Many here have contended that there is nothing special about religious groups that can't be found anywhere else. If that is true, surely it's equally true of both the negative and positive aspects. (I guess, since I'm suggesting there is something unique about religion, I am allowed to assert that there are both especially good and especially bad attributes, but you're not allowed to)
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Old 5th January 2019, 10:51 PM   #207
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Hi ynot. You're right that it's been hard for me to choose not to participate in my church community. Just for the record though, my friends and family from my church group have continued to be kind and and encouraging, even though I haven't attended a Sunday morning in about 2 years and therefore see them quite a bit less frequently. So I haven't experienced any rejection.
Hi Buddy - Big difference of course between merely not attending and openly declaring you’re an atheist that doesn’t believe in a god anymore. Wonder what the reaction of your church group and family would be if this was ever your declaration to them? Regardless, I'm not talking specifically about you church group and family.

Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Also, I have to debate the idea that religious groups have any sort of monopoly of any kind of unique negative behaviour. Many here have contended that there is nothing special about religious groups that can't be found anywhere else. If that is true, surely it's equally true of both the negative and positive aspects. (I guess, since I'm suggesting there is something unique about religion, I am allowed to assert that there are both especially good and especially bad attributes, but you're not allowed to)
I wasn’t claiming that religious groups have any sort of monopoly of any kind of unique negative behavior. I was reacting to (challenging) your claims that religious groups and settings provide a sort of monopoly of a kind of unique positive behavior.

Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
(I guess, since I'm suggesting there is something unique about religion, I am allowed to assert that there are both especially good and especially bad attributes, but you're not allowed to)
Nit-pick - I would say perhaps more “asserting” rather than “suggesting”. But I’m allowed to challenge your suggestions/assertions . . . right?
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Old 6th January 2019, 02:18 PM   #208
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Hi ynot. You're right that it's been hard for me to choose not to participate in my church community. Just for the record though, my friends and family from my church group have continued to be kind and and encouraging, even though I haven't attended a Sunday morning in about 2 years and therefore see them quite a bit less frequently. So I haven't experienced any rejection.

Also, I have to debate the idea that religious groups have any sort of monopoly of any kind of unique negative behaviour. Many here have contended that there is nothing special about religious groups that can't be found anywhere else. If that is true, surely it's equally true of both the negative and positive aspects. (I guess, since I'm suggesting there is something unique about religion, I am allowed to assert that there are both especially good and especially bad attributes, but you're not allowed to)

I must say it is refreshing to have a representative of the faithful (although wavering) that we can converse with in a positive way.

I have a question that strikes at the heart of the notion that religion gives comfort.

The confident belief that you have been saved is often touted as a benefit from embracing Jesus as your saviour. I have often seen it on stickers right next to the fishy ones on the backs of cars - "Not perfect just saved" is asserted. Now the confident feeling of having made the cut may be in question for some.

The "being saved" experience is a big thing in some Christian churches. The talking in tongues and rolling around on the floor, is seen as being taken over by the spirit, and possibly a must in Pentecostal Churches, if one is to be considered as saved. Others, from less theatrical Christian versions, may just claim to have had an experience, or many, of being in communication with God/Jesus*. My brother and nephew fit into this category.

Now I wonder how a church member, who is doubtful of the validity of his or her own experience, or indeed has had no such experience, feels. There must be many of these, surrounded by their fellows all claiming to have talked to Jesus ect. I think such a person may be inclined to fake it and make claims of their own just to be accepted by the group. Wouldn't a feeling of unease be inevitable however and how much comfort would that person gain from their faith?

* The Catholic Church seems to be exempt from this kind of thing. Apart from the Pope that is who has a direct line seldom used.
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Old 6th January 2019, 02:52 PM   #209
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Firstly, thanks for the grace and compassion you conveyed in your post. Much appreciated.
You are welcome. Keep asking.

Quote:
In response to your questions, I suppose hope for life after death is a big one. Hope for some form of reunification with deceased loved ones is another. Hope that there is some purpose to existence at all perhaps as well. If you ask "what do you actually mean when you say that" though, I admit I can't give you a precise (or likely satisfactory) answer. For me, it's primarily a hope that humankind is capable of achieving more than what we have demonstrated so far. That the best parts of human nature (e.g. hope and love and peace and joy etc.) will increasingly be the primary defining characteristics of human civilization.
Hoping for an afterlife in which we see loved ones, etc., brings up numerous questions. For instance, suppose one is married and one's spouse dies and then the survivor remarries and the second spouse dies. When the survivor dies, does he/she reunite with both of them? How does that work? Is polygamy forbidden to the living but permitted to the dead (or whatever word you want there)?

My partner's Episcopal church holds a blessing of animals (pets, not cattle or sheep or horses -- but what about gerbils or snakes or crickets?). Does this imply that the pets have souls, and will join their people in an afterlife? If they don't have souls, who will clean up after them, or will they no longer have the need to eliminate waste?

"Purpose to existence" again implies belief in something for which we have no objective evidence, and apparently no way of getting any -- other than "faith," whatever that means, but isn't objective. Purpose implies a Director, a god. But evolution does not imply "progress" in the sense of improvement toward a goal. 0rganisms adapt, but not always in a linear fashion. (I recently encountered the word "landrace," which is pertinent here.)

Even beyond all this, hope for an afterlife is different from hope of winning the lottery. We can calculate the odds for the latter, but not for the former. Buying a lottery ticket is a known gamble; buying a ticket to a (possibly non-existent) afterlife is ... not.


Quote:
I don't think belonging to a group that believes in something erroneous is a false sense of belonging, though certainly it would constitute false hope. I also don't really think that the beliefs of those outside of a community have much bearing on those who are a part of it, (unless the outsiders are successful in convincing the insiders that their beliefs are unfounded).
This is where I should have edited my comment more carefully before posting it. You are correct that the sense of belonging is real. I meant to suggest that the group isn't directed toward reality -- from the non-believer's perspective.

Your second point was answered by ynot when he noted that many religious groups ostracize, shun, excommunicate, or in other ways reject members of the group who voice doubt about the group's dogmas and/or beliefs. Take a look at https://www.reddit.com/r/exmormon/ -- whether or not you think this is a religion or cult has no bearing on their behavior toward doubters within their group; however, look at the Hell's Angels, and consider how that group would react to someone wanting to leave it.


Quote:
I do think that there is a recent trend of society influencing religion to a greater extent than vice versa (though I can really only speak to my limited experience in western Christianity) and some conservative groups have "dug in their heels" in resistance to this. I will be interested to see if, in the next few decades, this trend increases, flattens, or reverts.
Yes, not only the Abrahamic religions have this tension. India, with Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and many others -- including Buddhism, which is an atheist religion -- has struggled with the problem since long before the English brought Christianity to overlay the mix. There is also the ethnic component to complicate matters.

But that's not pertinent to your particular struggle, I think.



[Sorry for any formatting errors. I am using a very old computer because my laptop failed catastrophically this morning.]
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Old 6th January 2019, 03:31 PM   #210
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
I have a question that strikes at the heart of the notion that religion gives comfort.

The confident belief that you have been saved is often touted as a benefit from embracing Jesus as your saviour. I have often seen it on stickers right next to the fishy ones on the backs of cars - "Not perfect just saved" is asserted. Now the confident feeling of having made the cut may be in question for some.
Originally Posted by xterra View Post
Hoping for an afterlife in which we see loved ones, etc., brings up numerous questions. For instance, suppose one is married and one's spouse dies and then the survivor remarries and the second spouse dies. When the survivor dies, does he/she reunite with both of them? How does that work? Is polygamy forbidden to the living but permitted to the dead (or whatever word you want there)?
Exactly . . .

How can you possibly know if you are going to heaven or hell?

How can you possibly know if all you’re loved ones are going to heaven or hell?

Even if you do go to heaven but all your loved ones go to hell, won’t your eternity in heaven effectively be an eternity of hell knowing all your loved ones are suffering an eternity of torture in hell, and you will never be with them again?

To hand-wave these questions away with "I have faith" seems overly misguided and arrogant to me.
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Old 6th January 2019, 03:31 PM   #211
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Originally Posted by xterra View Post
Hoping for an afterlife in which we see loved ones, etc., brings up numerous questions. For instance, suppose one is married and one's spouse dies and then the survivor remarries and the second spouse dies. When the survivor dies, does he/she reunite with both of them? How does that work? Is polygamy forbidden to the living but permitted to the dead (or whatever word you want there)?
Another conundrum: You marry someone at 21, they die at 22. You remarry at 45 and they die at 55. You die at 95.

Which body are you taking to heaven? The body you died with, the 55 year old body, or the 21 year old body? Will your 21 year old spouse still be interested in a 55 or 95 year old? Will the 55 year old spouse be interested in a 21 or 95 year old? Or will love prevail and you get a multi-generational three way for being a good person?
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Old 6th January 2019, 03:42 PM   #212
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
I must say it is refreshing to have a representative of the faithful (although wavering) that we can converse with in a positive way.
I very much agree!!

...

Quote:
The "being saved" experience is a big thing in some Christian churches. The talking in tongues and rolling around on the floor, is seen as being taken over by the spirit, and possibly a must in Pentecostal Churches, if one is to be considered as saved. Others, from less theatrical Christian versions, may just claim to have had an experience, or many, of being in communication with God/Jesus*. My brother and nephew fit into this category.

Now I wonder how a church member, who is doubtful of the validity of his or her own experience, or indeed has had no such experience, feels. There must be many of these, surrounded by their fellows all claiming to have talked to Jesus ect. I think such a person may be inclined to fake it and make claims of their own just to be accepted by the group. Wouldn't a feeling of unease be inevitable however and how much comfort would that person gain from their faith?

* The Catholic Church seems to be exempt from this kind of thing. Apart from the Pope that is who has a direct line seldom used.
I remember reading academic papers 35 years ago on the speaking in tongues phenomenon. It turned out that all the people who did this used only the speech sounds (phonemes) of their native or near-native language. That is, English speakers used only English phonemes, never German ones. Thai speakers used only Thai phonemes, never Navajo ones. Etc.

You'd think that if a god was inspiring the speaking, he/she/it would have the speaker use the "original language of the Garden of Eden," whatever that might be. Nope.
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Old 6th January 2019, 03:46 PM   #213
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Originally Posted by qayak View Post
Another conundrum: You marry someone at 21, they die at 22. You remarry at 45 and they die at 55. You die at 95.

Which body are you taking to heaven? The body you died with, the 55 year old body, or the 21 year old body? Will your 21 year old spouse still be interested in a 55 or 95 year old? Will the 55 year old spouse be interested in a 21 or 95 year old? Or will love prevail and you get a multi-generational three way for being a good person?
Are you and your wives even going to heaven?

Do relative ages even matter in hell?

Inquiring minds would like to know, believing minds are happy to have faith.
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Old 6th January 2019, 04:27 PM   #214
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Are you and your wives even going to heaven?

Do relative ages even matter in hell?

Inquiring minds would like to know, believing minds are happy to have faith.
Believing minds have likely never thought about this. Probably figure their god will sort it all out.
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Old 6th January 2019, 05:28 PM   #215
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Do relative ages even matter in hell?
Good point! Also my sister believes heaven is where you go after you die to be surrounded by all the people you love. My sister loves me so this offensive, anti- theistic asshat is getting in whether I want to or not apparently.
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Old 6th January 2019, 06:25 PM   #216
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Originally Posted by qayak View Post
Good point! Also my sister believes heaven is where you go after you die to be surrounded by all the people you love. My sister loves me so this offensive, anti- theistic asshat is getting in whether I want to or not apparently.
You have my sympathy.
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Old 6th January 2019, 06:54 PM   #217
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People are throwing about words like "insane", "nuts" and "crazy". These terms do not have a formal definition in mental health care. In the example of the people staring at the sun - are they crazy? Sure. It's crazy to stare at the sun. Do they have a diagnosable mental illness?

If a person continually tries to stare at the sun, this may be a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder, or it could be a desire to self-harm, or it could be something else from the DSM. Or it might not be.

Call them crazy if you like. Crazy is a term that is undefined in a mental health context. But a mental health diagnosis is between them and their mental health care provider. I'm certainly not qualified to make that diagnosis. But that doesn't mean that I don't think that they're crazy for looking at the run. Are you kidding? That's insane.

We have a tendency to blur the difference between "crazy" and having a formal mental health diagnosis, especially when we armchair-diagnose someone as delusional or schizophrenic. It's the same tendency that makes us assume that someone experiencing psychosis is bound to be violent, and forceful restraint is therefore justified. We associate the word "psychotic" with "violent", whereas all it means is that the subject is currently unable to determine what is real and what is not. But that's not what we associate with psychotic behaviour. If someone is being excessively violent, we call them a psycho regardless of whether they are experiencing psychosis or not.

You can call someone "crazy" or say that a particular behaviour is "insane" without actually implying that the person is mentally ill. I don't think you should, but you can. Certain posters in this thread appear to be saying that because they're "crazy", then they have to have some diagnosible mental illness, because nothing else could explain that behaviour. I feel that this displays both a lack of imagination, and possibly a misunderstanding of basic mental health concepts on the part of the people who are saying that.
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Old 6th January 2019, 07:03 PM   #218
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Now I wonder how a church member, who is doubtful of the validity of his or her own experience, or indeed has had no such experience, feels. There must be many of these, surrounded by their fellows all claiming to have talked to Jesus ect. I think such a person may be inclined to fake it and make claims of their own just to be accepted by the group. Wouldn't a feeling of unease be inevitable however and how much comfort would that person gain from their faith?
Allow me if you would to interject a personal anecdote. My experience was that even if a person did not experience such things, there is tremendous social pressure on them to conform regardless, and this can lead to a "genuine" (for sufficiently broad definitions of that word) experience. Fake it till you make it, if you like, though I don't think there's a question of deliberate falsehood. People go along with it hoping that doing so will lead to a "genuine" (ie, personally profound) experience, rather than lying in order to fit in.

It's a culture. If you're partaking in a culture, some of it inevitably rubs off on you. I don't think there are a lot of people in churches who resist it for very long. There is a tremendous amount of validation that you get from other members of the community when you do buy in.
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Old 6th January 2019, 08:27 PM   #219
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
A mental illness is defined as a condition that causes significant distress or impairment of personal function.
Originally Posted by Darat View Post
I've always thought that definition is nothing but a tarting up of "in Britain if you are upper-class you are eccentric, if lower class you are mad".
Indeed. For all the talk of "Just treat mental disorders the same way we treat physical disorders" we don't go "Your leg isn't really broken until it gets in the way of or impairs your ability to walk." The leg is broken when the leg is broken, it's affects and symptoms are a different thing.

Symptoms of diseases are a thing, but the diseases are a different thing. You either have cancer or don't have cancer, distinct and separate from what level its affecting you.
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Old 6th January 2019, 08:41 PM   #220
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Indeed. For all the talk of "Just treat mental disorders the same way we treat physical disorders" we don't go "Your leg isn't really broken until it gets in the way of or impairs your ability to walk." The leg is broken when the leg is broken, it's affects and symptoms are a different thing.

Symptoms of diseases are a thing, but the diseases are a different thing. You either have cancer or don't have cancer, distinct and separate from what level its affecting you.
Unfortunately, mental illness rarely if ever is amenable to a simple yes/no binary decision. With a broken leg, you can take an x-ray. If it's broken, you can see it, and either it's broken or it isn't. There is no equivalent x-ray for the mind. You can examine someone's mind only through actually interacting with them. Furthermore, though we group mental disorders into specific categories in the DSM, the truth is that everybody's mind is different. Mental health care professionals tick of specific symptoms, but one symptom can in some cases be associated with several different disorders.

This is the problem with the medical model for mental illness - it tends to pigeonhole people with others who have illness that is only broadly similar, and give them all the same treatment. You know how to treat a broken leg. All broken legs can pretty much be treated in a similar way. Mental illness is not like that. What works well for one person may not work well for others.
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Old 6th January 2019, 09:07 PM   #221
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
People are throwing about words like "insane", "nuts" and "crazy". These terms do not have a formal definition in mental health care. In the example of the people staring at the sun - are they crazy? Sure. It's crazy to stare at the sun. Do they have a diagnosable mental illness?
Why do you think we are throwing about these words as if they do have a formal definition in mental health care? Why does the colloquial use of "insane", "nuts" and "crazy" in this public, non-academic forum have to have anything to do with diagnosable mental illness? Do you think we are all qualified mental health professionals?

Diagnosable mental illness seems to be some hobbyhorse of yours, I wonder why? Are you a qualified mental health professional perhaps?
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Old 6th January 2019, 09:31 PM   #222
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These things all depend on the circumstances at the time...

They laughed at the fellow who patented transparent plastic trousers, but when he came back to patent the equivalent underwear the patent was rejected:

"We used to think you're crazy, but now we see your nuts."
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Old 6th January 2019, 09:37 PM   #223
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Why do you think we are throwing about these words as if they do have a formal definition in mental health care? Why does the colloquial use of "insane", "nuts" and "crazy" in this public, non-academic forum have to have anything to do with diagnosable mental illness? Do you think we are all qualified mental health professionals?

Diagnosable mental illness seems to be some hobbyhorse of yours, I wonder why? Are you a qualified mental health professional perhaps?

Some while back ^ arth was giving us a definition of mental illness as being something that may lead to self harm. Well we dealt with that, somewhat comprehensively I think, by listing certain faith inspired actions that do/have lead to self harm. Now he is off on another track.
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Old 6th January 2019, 09:41 PM   #224
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Why do you think we are throwing about these words as if they do have a formal definition in mental health care? Why does the colloquial use of "insane", "nuts" and "crazy" in this public, non-academic forum have to have anything to do with diagnosable mental illness? Do you think we are all qualified mental health professionals?

Diagnosable mental illness seems to be some hobbyhorse of yours, I wonder why? Are you a qualified mental health professional perhaps?
The OP specifically questioned whether religion is a mental health issue. It is the major theme of the entire thread. If you just want to call people crazy, go for it, over in the Humor subforum. No-one's stopping you. Here, we're talking about mental health, and its relationship to religion.

And I've already explained my connection with mental health in another thread. Can't remember which one. In a nutshell, I have been in a long-term relationship for fifteen years with someone who is a mental health professional, on the board of the national mental health care consumer's network, and who is studying for her Master's degree in mental health policy. She regularly gives presentations at national conventions, has appeared on TV, radio and in the news media, and is fast becoming recognised as an authority on the subject of mental health policy and consumer advocacy. She also has formal diagnoses of PTSD and bipolar-II disorder and takes regular medication to manage these conditions. She and I have spoken about this subject a few times over the years. I know what I'm talking about.
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Old 6th January 2019, 09:54 PM   #225
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
The OP specifically questioned whether religion is a mental health issue. It is the major theme of the entire thread. If you just want to call people crazy, go for it, over in the Humor subforum. No-one's stopping you. Here, we're talking about mental health, and its relationship to religion.

And I've already explained my connection with mental health in another thread. Can't remember which one. In a nutshell, I have been in a long-term relationship for fifteen years with someone who is a mental health professional, on the board of the national mental health care consumer's network, and who is studying for her Master's degree in mental health policy. She regularly gives presentations at national conventions, has appeared on TV, radio and in the news media, and is fast becoming recognised as an authority on the subject of mental health policy and consumer advocacy. She also has formal diagnoses of PTSD and bipolar-II disorder and takes regular medication to manage these conditions. She and I have spoken about this subject a few times over the years. I know what I'm talking about.
It was pretty obvious from your ongoing fervour that mental health is a "thing" with you.

Well at least you might know something of what she's talking about .
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Old 6th January 2019, 10:38 PM   #226
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Some while back ^ arth was giving us a definition of mental illness as being something that may lead to self harm. Well we dealt with that, somewhat comprehensively I think, by listing certain faith inspired actions that do/have lead to self harm. Now he is off on another track.
That's a pretty inaccurate summary of what I was talking about.

What I was saying is that there is an actual definition of mental illness, which I posted verbatim from the DSM. For convenience, I will post it again.

Quote:
A mental disorder is a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual's cognition, emotion regulation, or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. Mental disorders are usually associated with significant distress in social, occupational, or other important activities. An expectable or culturally approved response to a common stressor or loss, such as the death of a loved one, is not a mental disorder. Socially deviant behavior (e.g., political, religious, or sexual) and conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are not mental disorders unless the deviance or conflict results from a dysfunction in the individual, as described above.
What you so pithily and inaccurately report as "a definition of mental illness as being something that may lead to self harm" is, as you can see, quite a lot more complex than that and doesn't say what you say it says. I suggest you read it again.

The first definition I posted (Post #25) was a paraphrase of the section on Wikipedia, which I will quote:

Quote:
A mental disorder, also called a mental illness[2] or psychiatric disorder, is a behavioral or mental pattern that causes significant distress or impairment of personal functioning.
Significant impairment of personal functioning (note - not necessarily self-harm which itself has its own specific definition) is a part of the diagnostic criteria for mental illness. After all, if someone isn't experiencing significant distress in social, occupational, or other important activities, then they probably won't even seek a diagnosis. Involuntary admission to a mental health unit is possible, but it is not an option that is chosen lightly.

I find it interesting that you feel that this was somewhat comprehensively "dealt with" given that you gave no indication of actually understanding what I was talking about.
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Old 6th January 2019, 10:43 PM   #227
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
It was pretty obvious from your ongoing fervour that mental health is a "thing" with you.

Well at least you might know something of what she's talking about .
Fervour? It's a subject that I know a few things about and that I enjoy talking about. It's also a subject that a lot of people have a very poor understanding of. This particular thread happened to intersect with religion, which is also something that I enjoy talking about. If you want to interpret that as fervour, then I guess I can't stop you.
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Old 7th January 2019, 03:27 AM   #228
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I think religion took hold because there was some kind of advantage to be had in a culture that shared common beliefs. The predisposition to worship may actually be genetic. Unfortunately this could take the form of a virulently intolerant religion. My mother and I share a very loose common belief - that we don't know there's a god but that we hope that if there is, our best bet is to follow a path of kindness, charity etc. And some religions and/or philosophies of life do promote these values. On the other hand there are very toxic religious practices. One group may believe in feeding the hungry, because that's what God would want, or it's the right thing to do, while another believes in murdering thousands of people for the same reason.

I can say the prayer of St. Francis with complete sincerity, asking God to make me an instrument of peace, love, forgiveness, consolation etc., and that form of worship, or even just mostly secular meditation practices, will guide me to act with compassion and kindness. But it's certainly not a given that all religions emphasize these values. If all religions did, maybe the world would be a better place, but I can't just hand-wave away supernatural beliefs that promote human sacrifice, pedophilia, cannibalism or whatever.

I think there may be rational reasons to believe irrational things, or to commit one's self to a faith. The argument was stronger when humans were driven to make up explanations for phenomena they did not understand. Tides go in, tides go out: Must be God's will, eh? Now that we know, it could be argued that God-ideas are obsolete, but from my limited base of knowledge the formation of the entire universe out of nothing but fluctuating energy states of infinitesimal particles of matter - if even that, perhaps just charged packets of energy - might as well be miraculous. It fills me with a kind of awe that's not all that different from religion. I won't necessarily argue that god did it, but with my limited understanding I admit cosmology almost might as well be magic.

It's not comfort I seek but a desire to understand, and to be open to the idea of a benign force, or principle, that wants us to love and care for each other, and for ourselves. It's indefensible logically, but even that is not a huge obstacle to me - it's that in another culture, possibly people would be wanting to align themselves with a god that encourages cruelty, torture, slaughtering innocent children etc. So in that respect wiping religion off the map as a source of values may on balance be the more benign alternative. This is all kind of intellectual for me; I did not grow up in a virulently religious environment, or some kind of literalist creation sect, and I never believed saying a few magic words would buy me forgiveness or save anybody's life. I'm not as anti-religion as many posters here are. But it's not easy for me to defend religion either - often enough, it promotes practices that may be indefensible.

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Old 7th January 2019, 08:27 AM   #229
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For those that would argue that more than a tiny fraction of those that believe in a religion should be considered to have a psychological disorder, or be insane, or crazy or whatever, what is your definition of psychological disorder, or be insane, or crazy or whatever?
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Old 7th January 2019, 09:25 AM   #230
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Just piping in to say I'm keeping up and appreciating the thread and will try to respond to some of the questions/thoughts/challenges to my posts asap. Cheers.
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Old 7th January 2019, 11:19 AM   #231
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Hi Buddy - Big difference of course between merely not attending and openly declaring youíre an atheist that doesnít believe in a god anymore. Wonder what the reaction of your church group and family would be if this was ever your declaration to them? Regardless, I'm not talking specifically about you church group and family.
Yeah, that's true. We've had some instances like that in our church group in the past and the response has generally been a sort of sad acceptance and hope that the person might return in the future. I think it might go differently if, for example, a former leader began advocating for others to abandon their theistic views, but I haven't seen that happen.


Quote:
I wasnít claiming that religious groups have any sort of monopoly of any kind of unique negative behavior. I was reacting to (challenging) your claims that religious groups and settings provide a sort of monopoly of a kind of unique positive behavior. [\QUOTE]

Ahh, okay. I misunderstood when you wrote "A unique way in a religious setting that a cruel personal rejection is imposed, that is not the same as that found in non-religious groups "


Nit-pick - I would say perhaps more ďassertingĒ rather than ďsuggestingĒ. But Iím allowed to challenge your suggestions/assertions . . . right?
Absolutely my friend.
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Old 7th January 2019, 11:56 AM   #232
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On the other hand, as I pointed out earlier, in some sects, shunning or disfellowship is common. Not all of these are fringe groups.
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Old 7th January 2019, 12:06 PM   #233
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I almost feel like the atheist/agnostics are being baited into saying "Religion is crazy" so we can be dismissed as "mean" or "rude."

Yes some parts of religion, and yes some parts of mainstream religion not just crazy fringe beliefs held by No True Scotsmen, are hard for me to understand in the context of a healthy psyche.

If you're a grown, mentally developed individual living in 2019 in a Western style secular democracy and you think the world was created thousands of years after we as a species learned how to brew beer... I'm sorry I don't have a neutral or non-negative way of describing that.

But, as I said way back on page one, the compartmentalization of religious beliefs; the ability of people to live normal lives, hold normal jobs, think normal things and then on Sunday go to a big special building and specifically celebrate the fact that they hold demonstrably false opinions... does make it even weirder.
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Old 7th January 2019, 12:17 PM   #234
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Rubbish in, rubbish out

A physically healthy computer/brain running on healthy programming will produce healthy results.

A physically healthy computer/brain running on unhealthy programming will produce unhealthy results.

Religious beliefs and doctrines are unhealthy programming for a brain, and they spread from brain to brain like a virus. The good news is, there is a cure
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Old 7th January 2019, 12:26 PM   #235
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
I think religion took hold because there was some kind of advantage to be had in a culture that shared common beliefs.
I think religion took hold because there was some kind of power and financial advantage to be had in controlling a culture that shared common paranormal/supernatural beliefs based on emotional fears and desires.
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Old 7th January 2019, 12:41 PM   #236
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
I must say it is refreshing to have a representative of the faithful (although wavering) that we can converse with in a positive way.

I have a question that strikes at the heart of the notion that religion gives comfort.

The confident belief that you have been saved is often touted as a benefit from embracing Jesus as your saviour. I have often seen it on stickers right next to the fishy ones on the backs of cars - "Not perfect just saved" is asserted. Now the confident feeling of having made the cut may be in question for some.

The "being saved" experience is a big thing in some Christian churches. The talking in tongues and rolling around on the floor, is seen as being taken over by the spirit, and possibly a must in Pentecostal Churches, if one is to be considered as saved. Others, from less theatrical Christian versions, may just claim to have had an experience, or many, of being in communication with God/Jesus*. My brother and nephew fit into this category.

Now I wonder how a church member, who is doubtful of the validity of his or her own experience, or indeed has had no such experience, feels. There must be many of these, surrounded by their fellows all claiming to have talked to Jesus ect. I think such a person may be inclined to fake it and make claims of their own just to be accepted by the group. Wouldn't a feeling of unease be inevitable however and how much comfort would that person gain from their faith?

* The Catholic Church seems to be exempt from this kind of thing. Apart from the Pope that is who has a direct line seldom used.
Hey T2. Lots in there to respond to. Of course I can only speak about the teaching and experience that is common to the church group I've been a part of and has resonated most for me.

Regarding confidence in salvation, three scriptures come to mind that are often used to consider the question, (they are in a number of the gospels, so I'll just note the one that comes up first in a google search - nope, I don't have them memorized ).

One is Matthew 19:16 (follow the commandments and sell your possessions to give to the poor), but that seems more to be a discussion about the tension between selflessness and selfishness (as well as grace vs. legalistic thinking) to me.

Another is when someone asks Jesus what is the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:34 (Love God, and similarly, love your neighbour as yourself - this summarizes all the law and the prophets). By the way, right before that is the bit where the educated people of the time/culture try to trap Jesus by asking him about what happens in heaven to a man who married multiple times. I don't expect the answer will satisfy many here, but if you're expecting any better answer from me I'm sorry to disappoint you

But back to salvation, the simplest response (that I think most Christian groups go to) is in Romans 10:9, where is says "if you confess with your mouth, ďJesus is Lord,Ē and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." I think that's why a lot of christian groups do a sort of "if you believe in Jesus, say this 'repeat-after-me' prayer", so they can check the "believe" and "confess" requirements and feel that the salvation is "secure".

Based on that last definition, salvation is not presented as being difficult to attain. You're quite right though, that there can be a sense of pressure to demonstrate your faith in a variety of ways from kindness to charitable giving to speaking in tongues (I have participated in all of these things, inevitably with some desire to fit in, but not under pressure). No doubt it can be tempting to "go along" with these sorts of things to avoid wondering if you really "believe in your heart" and are therefore really "saved", so I understand your question and point. In most of my church experience though, believers have been encouraged to have confidence/peace in their salvation and I think that has born-out in general.
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Old 7th January 2019, 12:58 PM   #237
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Originally Posted by xterra View Post
I very much agree!!

...


I remember reading academic papers 35 years ago on the speaking in tongues phenomenon. It turned out that all the people who did this used only the speech sounds (phonemes) of their native or near-native language. That is, English speakers used only English phonemes, never German ones. Thai speakers used only Thai phonemes, never Navajo ones. Etc.

You'd think that if a god was inspiring the speaking, he/she/it would have the speaker use the "original language of the Garden of Eden," whatever that might be. Nope.
I'm not familiar with that research, but that hasn't been my experience at all. I've heard quite a variety of phonemes from people who only speak English. That said, I have also noticed that people from the same congregation or local church have very strong similarities. Also certain tongues and interpretations thereof do not align very well in duration, complexity of sounds, repetition etc.

On a (very) personal note, the first time I ever spoke in tongues, it was two words that sounded Spanish to me. Afterwards though, my "expressions" tended to sound similar to others in my group, which made me self-conscious and wonder if I was just getting caught up in common behaviour. However, (since I'm sharing intimate stories I've rarely told anyone in my life), one time someone in church spoke in tongues and I felt like I understood what he was trying to express, so I decided to share my "interpretation" with the group. Just as I opened my mouth though, someone else in the room said the exact thing I was thinking. To be fair, the "interpretation" was a verse from a well-known psalm that may have just come to mind to both of us, but it sure sent shivers down my spine at the time.
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Old 7th January 2019, 01:09 PM   #238
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Originally Posted by Steve View Post
Believing minds have likely never thought about this. Probably figure their god will sort it all out.
Originally Posted by qayak View Post
Good point! Also my sister believes heaven is where you go after you die to be surrounded by all the people you love. My sister loves me so this offensive, anti- theistic asshat is getting in whether I want to or not apparently.
Just as a quick response to those discussing multiple spouses in heaven and "getting dragged along whether you like it or not" (qayak, your self-description made me laugh. Your sister loves you, so I bet you're not all bad). Both questions are specifically mentioned in the gospels (though not to a resolution you will find satisfying I expect/understand).

-Matthew 22:23 (note that "Sadducees" are - sort of - the skeptics of the time)
-1 Corinthians 7:14
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Old 7th January 2019, 01:23 PM   #239
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Allow me if you would to interject a personal anecdote. My experience was that even if a person did not experience such things, there is tremendous social pressure on them to conform regardless, and this can lead to a "genuine" (for sufficiently broad definitions of that word) experience. Fake it till you make it, if you like, though I don't think there's a question of deliberate falsehood. People go along with it hoping that doing so will lead to a "genuine" (ie, personally profound) experience, rather than lying in order to fit in.

It's a culture. If you're partaking in a culture, some of it inevitably rubs off on you. I don't think there are a lot of people in churches who resist it for very long. There is a tremendous amount of validation that you get from other members of the community when you do buy in.
Hi Arth. This description rings true in a lot of ways to me as well and I think you articulated it nicely. As I've tried to be more self critical, I've recognized that I've been on the side of applying the pressure sometimes. Well-meaning and wanting to share something I'd found personally valuable, I've invited many people to participate in religious meetings/activities/expressions and a lot did so. In one notable case, a small church I was part of in University (mostly comprising students) disbanded after the core group (including myself) graduated and moved cities. Thereafter, I found that most of the people I had invited, did not continue to participate in any religious groups or activities. I expect they would still profess a faith in some manner, but the religious activities appear to have been just an (acceptable) part of being part of the group for them. It's one of many things that has mad me think.
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Old 7th January 2019, 01:27 PM   #240
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
I think religion took hold because there was some kind of advantage to be had in a culture that shared common beliefs. The predisposition to worship may actually be genetic. Unfortunately this could take the form of a virulently intolerant religion. My mother and I share a very loose common belief - that we don't know there's a god but that we hope that if there is, our best bet is to follow a path of kindness, charity etc. And some religions and/or philosophies of life do promote these values. On the other hand there are very toxic religious practices. One group may believe in feeding the hungry, because that's what God would want, or it's the right thing to do, while another believes in murdering thousands of people for the same reason.

I can say the prayer of St. Francis with complete sincerity, asking God to make me an instrument of peace, love, forgiveness, consolation etc., and that form of worship, or even just mostly secular meditation practices, will guide me to act with compassion and kindness. But it's certainly not a given that all religions emphasize these values. If all religions did, maybe the world would be a better place, but I can't just hand-wave away supernatural beliefs that promote human sacrifice, pedophilia, cannibalism or whatever.

I think there may be rational reasons to believe irrational things, or to commit one's self to a faith. The argument was stronger when humans were driven to make up explanations for phenomena they did not understand. Tides go in, tides go out: Must be God's will, eh? Now that we know, it could be argued that God-ideas are obsolete, but from my limited base of knowledge the formation of the entire universe out of nothing but fluctuating energy states of infinitesimal particles of matter - if even that, perhaps just charged packets of energy - might as well be miraculous. It fills me with a kind of awe that's not all that different from religion. I won't necessarily argue that god did it, but with my limited understanding I admit cosmology almost might as well be magic.

It's not comfort I seek but a desire to understand, and to be open to the idea of a benign force, or principle, that wants us to love and care for each other, and for ourselves. It's indefensible logically, but even that is not a huge obstacle to me - it's that in another culture, possibly people would be wanting to align themselves with a god that encourages cruelty, torture, slaughtering innocent children etc. So in that respect wiping religion off the map as a source of values may on balance be the more benign alternative. This is all kind of intellectual for me; I did not grow up in a virulently religious environment, or some kind of literalist creation sect, and I never believed saying a few magic words would buy me forgiveness or save anybody's life. I'm not as anti-religion as many posters here are. But it's not easy for me to defend religion either - often enough, it promotes practices that may be indefensible.
Hi Minoosh. Just wanted to let you know that I had the (song of) the prayer of St. Francis in my head this morning before reading this thread and was encouraged that you mentioned it and by your post in general. Cheers
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