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  • Showing only topics in ~humanities with the tag "religion". Back to normal view / Search all groups
    1. Tell me about your weird religious beliefs

      Let's hear about religious and spiritual (maybe philosophical?) beliefs not considered "mainstream" in the modern West. The percentage of people who identify as "spiritual", "other", or "none" is...

      Let's hear about religious and spiritual (maybe philosophical?) beliefs not considered "mainstream" in the modern West.

      The percentage of people who identify as "spiritual", "other", or "none" is rising at the expense of larger "organized" religions.

      Disclaimer: it's hard if not impossible to draw hard lines around what is considered a "religion" verses a philosophy, culture, or mere ritual or traditional practice. If you aren't sure if what you believe fits the prompt, err on the side of sharing.

      Things that probably fit the prompt:

      • Minority religions
      • Native beliefs/cultures
      • Highly syncretic beliefs
      • Non-western religions or beliefs
      • "Pagan" beliefs
      • Esoteric or occult beliefs or practices

      Things that might not fit the prompt

      • Mainstream Christian beliefs or traditions
      • Naturalism or a lack of belief in any particular religious or spiritual tradition

      I don't exclude these two categories because they aren't important, but because they are incredibly important, and most of what we think about religious or spiritual beliefs exist in frameworks created by the above two groups. I want to use this opportunity to learn about others, and I feel that I already know a good bit more about atheism and mainstream Christian theism than most other perspectives.

      This is a sensitive subject that is tied deeply to people's sense of meaning; please treat your fellow commentor's beliefs, cultures, and values with respect. Thank you in advance for your input and perspective.

      56 votes
    2. Right-wing skeptics and the new, new atheism

      I find stream-of-consciousness-style writing helps me wrestle with ideas and concepts, organizing thoughts into ideas from the chaos. To be clear, I'm a leftist agnostic (some might say atheist)...

      I find stream-of-consciousness-style writing helps me wrestle with ideas and concepts, organizing thoughts into ideas from the chaos. To be clear, I'm a leftist agnostic (some might say atheist) who's been thinking about new atheism and skepticism a lot recently. I spoke to a friend who is a liberal atheist, and they consider themselves a skeptic first, and an atheist second. This seemed strange to me, not because I'm unfamiliar with the skeptical movement, but because it doesn't fit into my current mental model of skepticism. I don't really like the term skeptic. Below, I will attempt to work out my ideas into words, and hopefully have a conclusion.

      A quick note: my view of atheism, especially from this era, was largely mediated by YouTube and limited to trends in the US.

      Late '00s and early '10s: The Rise of Reactionary Skepticism

      For me, no one embodies this era of atheism better than Christopher Hitchens. His videos were one of the many factors that led to me "converting" to atheism. He was a brilliant debater, and mastered the art of crafting rhetoric. Being successful in debate doesn't equate to having more accurate beliefs, but it does mean you can convince people of your ideas more effectively. Upon re-watch of these old videos, they are somewhat intellectually unsatisfying. A case that was impactful to me recently was that upon being presented with a fairly standard formulation of the moral argument, Hitchens feigns shock, and implies that Craig (his opponent) had implied that atheists couldn't act morally (which he clearly didn't.) This is why Hitchens destroys his opponents; he is far more effective at debate than Craig, who looks weak when trying to maintain philosophical precision by choosing statements carefully and hedging/qualifying his statements.

      Being skeptical is a valid, often important epistemic tool for increasing the accuracy of our beliefs. For the sake of this post, I will oversimplify skepticism to something like "deconstructing big ideas" and "poking holes in overarching narratives". It starts from a position of neutrality, and seeks to determine if there is rational warrant in believing ideology "X". There are various reasons why one could use skepticism to shape their worldview.

      There's a certain kind of skepticism that gained popularity during this time. It was the "'x' DESTROYS 'y' in debate" where "x" was often a new atheist and "y" was often an apologist. There's something both persuasive and cathartic about seeing someone representing your worldview deconstruct someone else's. For many, the reason for watching the content was nothing more than the entertainment value of seeing people get "DESTROYED" in debate. For some, the satisfaction of humiliating the opponent intellectually was the entire point.

      Early to mid '10s: Seeking Out Other Ideologies to Destroy

      There are only so many religious debates one can have before getting bored. There's basically a set list of apologetic arguments one can have these sorts of debate about before they either get too philosophically dense, or are just so incredibly silly that it isn't satisfying to DESTROY them (in the case of young Earth creationist apologetics.) How many videos can one possibly make debating the Kalam before viewers get bored?

      It shouldn't necessarily be surprising that many skeptics turned out to be reactionary. Skepticism is, at least dialectically and sometimes politically, a reactionary position. It turns out there are a lot of ideologies and overarching narratives the left believes in: feminism, progressivism, and various beliefs relating to sexual and gender identity. Gender identity at this time wasn't really on the map, but feminism was. Many prominent atheist YouTube channels pivoted to "'x' DESTROYS 'y' with FACT and LOGIC" but instead of deconstructing religion, it sought to deconstruct feminism. If Christopher Hitchens embodied the previous era, though not an atheist, Ben Shapiro embodies this era.

      It seems correct to me that these folks were "skeptical" of feminism. They, from a position of neutrality, sought to "poke holes" in feminist ideology. Of course, the new atheists weren't neutral on religion; they were strongly atheistic. So too were these feminist skeptics. They were strongly misogynistic. Of course, like the new atheists before them, only so much content can be made

      2016 to Present: Reactionary Skeptics Abandon Atheism

      Peter Boghossian, author of A Manual for Creating Atheists is the person I pick to personify this era (he was also partly inspiration for these weird person-on-the-street interviews of Christians where they just begin so-called Socratic questioning ("but WHY do believe that, and WHY do you believe that?"), similar to right-wing person-on-the-street interviews of feminists). He's had multiple interviews where he states that criticizing religion is unhelpful; that Christians can be powerful allies against a much worse religion in needing of deconstruction: Wokeism. (yes, he really does use that word)

      Skepticism is now a mainstream component of conservative thought. While Climate Change skepticism has been around for awhile, in the COVID-era, skepticism of vaccines and masks is probably one of the more powerful pieces of evidence that skepticism is a core component of modern American conservative ideology. It's also applied to right-wing ideologies: once united on subjects like foreign interventionism and free trade, now there's greater skepticism among conservatives about once unquestioned conservative beliefs. Despite whether you think they are "doing skepticism the right way" they are certainly "doing a skepticism".

      Jordan Peterson, famous reactionary, identifies as a Christian. His actual metaphysical beliefs, though he tries to squirm out of elaborating on them, are closely aligned with what the majority of people would describe as atheism. But, like Boghossian has already recognized, Christianity is a tool to be wielded for reactionary political aims, even if you are a de-facto atheist. In 2023, "Christian" implies "conservative" more strongly than any period in my living memory.

      New, New Atheism

      The movement that has been abandoned by who I call the Reactionary Skeptics has been left primarily with progressives, LGBTQ folks, and many suffering from religious trauma. Christianity more strongly maps onto conservatism in the modern era, therefore its negation isn't a merely reactionary process; it is a progressive, revolutionary one. In keeping with my cringe habit of anointing a YouTube creator for each era, I'd point to Genetically Modified Skeptic (there's that word) as the embodiment of this era.

      Obviously these folks were part of "the movement" (if it can even be called such) the entire time. But they are largely who is left. Why did reactionaries decide to leave? Because they realize that religion structures power in a way that they find beneficial, and that atheism can be used to restructure power in a progressive or revolutionary way.

      This movement, due to the aforementioned abandonment is far more profoundly progressive than any previous era. Folks like The Satanic Temple come to mind. It's hard to find an atheist creator nowadays that isn't an outspoken proponent of LGBTQ rights and feminism. Atheism has been ceded to the left.

      What's the point of this damn post?!

      If you are talking in earnest about atheism now, you're probably a progressive. And I don't think it's helpful to use term skeptic. Yes, what a dumb quibble. And yes, you are a skeptic of one particular largely right-wing overarching narrative. But the term is unhelpful. Its confusing. What is meant by skepticism, whenever I press my progressive "skeptical" friends is something along the lines of "having rational beliefs" or "'good' epistemology", which... like come on, that's not what skepticism means. Besides, most people believe they "have true beliefs", which leads me to wonder, what's the point of telling people you're a skeptic?

      I get the point. It's about saying something more than "God's not real." But there are simply better, more impressive political projects with less baggage than skepticism.

      Thanks for reading :)

      39 votes
    3. Apostate Muslims - this is why we protest the Quran

      Here's the article in Danish First of all, I hope it's ok to post links to sites that aren't in English because this is a really good opinion piece. For context, there has been a lot of news about...

      Here's the article in Danish

      First of all, I hope it's ok to post links to sites that aren't in English because this is a really good opinion piece.

      For context, there has been a lot of news about activists burning the Quran in Sweden and Denmark - Turkey has withheld Sweden's Nato bid because of it, and Russia has been accused of influencing events in order to attempt to destabilize western countries. So it's a whole thing.

      I translated the article through DeepL and did some small edits and added occasional context in [brackets]:

      Apostate Muslims - this is why we protest the Quran

      It is an insult to apostate Muslims if the government gives in and criminalises the burning or desecrating of the Quran - we have fought to free ourselves from the Quran, now you want to protect the perpetrator.

      I'm an apostate - ex-Muslim. It's hard to get there. Doing away with Islam can have completely incalculable consequences. And if the government gives in to the Islamic countries that want to restrict freedom of speech in Denmark with threats of violence and economic pressure, it will be much harder to break free from Islam and live a free life in the future.

      Because it's not just about Quran burnings or Rasmus Paludan [very controversial far-right activist who has done Quran burnings in Denmark and Sweden many times]. It's about criticising Islam, which will not be tolerated. To signal this to the Islamic countries - that they should focus on legislation in their own countries - The Association of Apostates is therefore protesting on 22 August in front of the Turkish embassy in Copenhagen.

      But it is just as much a signal to the Danish government.

      The Association of Apostates is Denmark's first organisation for ex-Muslims, and we know how difficult it is to come to terms with Islam - because we have done it ourselves. But if criticism or mockery of Islam is criminalised as it is in Islamic countries, the apostasy process becomes even more difficult, because you also have the law against you.

      A conformist who defends their abuser

      Many Muslim apostates lead double lives: Outwardly, they live by Islamic rules. Some go to the mosque, pray and fast because it is expected and because they have to keep up appearances even though they have lost their faith. This is due to a fear of the incalculable consequences that an apostasy from Islam can have for the individual person.

      It is not Allah's punishment that is feared, but rather the traumatic consequences of societal pressure or ostracisation. As a result, many often end up complying with Islamic traditions and expectations from family and friends.

      This can range from marriage, which must be to a Muslim, to the circumcision of male children. To survive in this situation, many choose self-deception, trying to fit in with the group by denying reality and defending Islam, despite feeling no connection to the religion.

      People who have been victims of domestic violence often describe that after the breakup, they find it difficult to let go of their partner. Apostate Muslims also experience this dependency. You end up as a conformist who defends your abuser. You keep the label of 'Muslim' because it is far more unsafe and full of conflict to call yourself an apostate.

      The law is a slippery slope

      In many of the Muslim countries that will now dictate legislation in Denmark, there is death penalty and imprisonment for apostasy and blasphemy. Gay rights are violated and women are treated as second-class citizens. As ex-Muslims, we see how Islamic dogmas and traditions are gaining more and more influence in Denmark.

      Hijab, which represents discrimination and inequality between men and women, is promoted as the norm. But the reality is that for ex-Muslim women in Denmark, removing the hijab often has serious consequences.

      The month of Ramadan is promoted in the same way as Christmas, even though for many ex-Muslims, Ramadan is a month where social control is heightened because Ramadan is about getting closer to Allah - a god you don't believe in.

      If the government yields in regards to blasphemy or desecration of the Quran, it's just another step down that slippery slope. A slippery slope where ex-Muslims live under social control or in exclusion.

      But fortunately, we live in a free country like Denmark, where there is room for critical thinking and where you have the right to believe what you do and do not believe. Where you have the right to draw what you want [reference to drawings of the Prophet that caused an international incident in the 2000s] and, in protest, burn, shred or make paper aeroplanes out of a book whose content you find repulsive or disagree with. Like when Poul Nyrup demonstratively tore the pages out of Fogh's book back in 2001. [Nyrup is a Social Democrat and debated Fogh of Venstre, a right-wing party, on TV during the election campaign]

      Protect the victim, not the Quran

      At The Association of Apostates, some of our members say that one of the things that bothers them about Islam is that Islam calls itself the religion of peace, but at the same time believes that you should receive 100 lashes if you have sex before marriage. Here, the members refer to the Quran's Sura 24:2 which reads: "As for female and male fornicators, give each of them one hundred lashes, and do not let pity for them make you lenient in enforcing the law of Allah, if you truly believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a number of believers witness their punishment."

      Should a woman who is critical of this content of the Quran also be punished by the government if she tore out the pages of the Quran in protest? Or burned it? If the woman had been subjected to the act prescribed by the Quran, should she just keep quiet and respect the holy scriptures?

      I certainly don't think so. But that's what's being suggested in the government's proposal. [They want to ban burnings of the Quran in places like in front of embassies]

      60 votes
    4. No one wants sensuality

      A summarized transcription of the video No One Wants Sensuality. Source PDF Q: Bhante, you once said that the only reason one gives into sensuality is because one doesn't want it. What do you mean...

      A summarized transcription of the video No One Wants Sensuality.
      Source PDF

      Q: Bhante, you once said that the only reason one gives into sensuality is because one doesn't want it. What do you mean by that?

      Ajahn Nyanamoli (Nm): Well, what I meant was that universally, literally every human mind, regardless of the culture, education or religion, when a desire in regard to anything obtainable through the senses arises, that desire is oppressing. Desire is a need, a thirst, a hunger, it pressures you to act. You don't have to act and that's the whole point. As a human being you have a choice. But when desire arises, the automatic response is to give into that pressure of desire, and why would you be giving into the pressure of any desire? It's because it's unpleasant. If the pressure of the desire is neutral or pleasant, you wouldn't then make any effort and spend time trying to gain what your desire wants, because you'll already be at ease. But that desire is already unpleasant and in order for you to try and deal with that displeasure, you just give in to whatever the desire promises. That's what I mean, by engaging in sensuality, you do so to be free from the sensual pressure of the desire. When people say, "No, I enjoy my senses." That's a mistake, because if they were to stop and think, "When there is an unsatisfied desire, is that pleasant? Is that what I want?" They would realise that it isn't, or, "Can I fulfil desire by giving in to it?" No, you can never fulfil desire, because the point of desire is to stay a desire.

      Q: It's based on non-satisfaction.

      Nm: Exactly, it requires non-satisfaction for it to be. That's why if you stop and think about it you realise the only reason you are engaged with sensuality is because the pressure of sensual desire is unpleasant and you don't know any other escape from that pressure other than the temporary release of sensual indulgence.

      That's the whole point, whenever you encounter any form of displeasure, your only way of trying to deal with it is through acts of sensuality, which is why and how people turn to food, music, sexual intercourse or even meditation hoping for some pleasurable experience to lift them up when they're feeling down or depressed, they just commit harder to sensual activity, because that's the only thing that seemingly relieves oneself of that pressure. However, you're just making it worse because the more you're dependent on running away from that pressure of sensual desire, the more pressure that desire will exercise over you.

      Q: So what should you do?

      Nm: Well,in a way, you don't have to do anything. If you start seeing your own sensual desires as something that's controlling you, something that you are enslaved by, then you have to start seeing that 'nature' before you give into the desire. And then it becomes obvious, clear as day, that it's very unpleasant. Even sometimes when you can satisfy your desires, but maybe not quick enough, that's unpleasant. Either way, that desire is rooted in a disagreeable feeling, i.e. that pressure that's very unpleasant. So if you want to free yourself from it, you have to first start restraining your senses and from making it worse through giving in to that pressure of desire.

      You're training yourself to be stronger than something else. But in order to start doing that, you need to start resisting that thing. If you just habitually give into desire, and at the same time expect to somehow magically be free from the pressure of the desire, well that's just a contradiction in terms. Restraint needs to come first if you want to be free from desire. Then the obvious painful nature of the desire in itself becomes apparent. Initially when people start restraining, they notice more pain and they assume that it's because of their restraint. But it isn't. The restraint cannot cause you pain, it can only reveal the underlying pain of the desire that is already there.

      Imagine that you're tied to five powerful animals and they are running towards the objects of their desire, you naturally run with them to avoid that extra painful pull that you will experience if you try standing your ground. The animals are stronger than you, they pull you. It's unpleasant. But that doesn't mean that that initial pain is not there if you run with them. Running with them enables them to pull you even harder. So initially, you have to accept that sharp pain of restraint, which eventually you can see that actually it's not the restraint that's the problem, the restraint just shows you what happens when these animals are pulling in their respective domains. If the animals wouldn't be pulling, there wouldn't be any pain revealed by the restraint. Imagine the animals are tamed and calm, and they just move around slowly and you can just remain seated and not have to run with them. You are restrained, the senses are tamed and there is no pull, no pain.

      It's something anybody could benefit from, just learning how to say no to themselves, gradually, in regards to this and that, in regard to unnecessary things like luxuries and indulgences. Because each time you give in carelessly like that, the animals get more to feed on which means they get more powerful, which means each time they pull you, you'll be less and less able to resist those desires.

      Quite often, and I'm pretty sure many people can relate, your own desires take you to places you don't want to be, that you know you will regret even before you go there, yet you can't help it and you're just dragged there. How will it then be when old age or sickness sets in? When your senses start to fail, yet your mind is fully dependent on that pleasure that you get from that temporary satisfaction of your desires. When the only resemblance of relief from any disagreeable feelings, is now taken away. When the senses can't enjoy sense objects anymore, when eyes can barely see, when it's hard to hear, when it's difficult to chew, when the body doesn't move correctly, when it's not young and doesn't have that much energy. Yet your mind is dependent on that constant chasing after sense pleasures and now that's just taken away. How will it be when the unpleasant feelings arise, and they will, and you have even less ground to deal with it.

      Q: It will feel like an unwanted solitary confinement.

      Nm: Exactly. That's why people are terrified of solitude. They can no longer escape what they have been running away from.

      10 votes
    5. A new Ex-Mormon community

      In the worst case scenario that Reddit dies; I'm going to miss the /r/exmormon community the most. It's a religion that is not easy to leave (many societal repercussions); and many ex-members...

      In the worst case scenario that Reddit dies; I'm going to miss the /r/exmormon community the most. It's a religion that is not easy to leave (many societal repercussions); and many ex-members experiencing a "faith transition" rely on the discussions in that sub (275K+ subscribers).

      22 votes
    6. Is today a special day in your culture? Can you tell us about it?

      The internet is a very diverse place but sometimes with the "default" north american skew, it may not seem like it. If your culture or people or faith group or spiritual practice is celebrating...

      The internet is a very diverse place but sometimes with the "default" north american skew, it may not seem like it.

      If your culture or people or faith group or spiritual practice is celebrating something today or soon, would you care to share?

      Many of us used to have smaller groups on another site to celebrate things together or hold rememberances, and perhaps tildes being a together kind of community can celebrate and learn together instead of segregating into silos.

      Some suggestions:

      • today's date please
      • what cultures and groups celebrate or commemorate this day or period?
      • what is the celebration's origins and purpose?
      • how does one celebrate?
      • how has it changed over the years or stayed the same?
      • is it reoccurring and on what calendar system?

      Looking forward to learning more from other traditions and groups!

      13 votes
    7. What is your favorite apologetic for theism?

      Share your favorite argument for the existence of God below. Background: I'm an atheist (and have been for a decade) who's been interested in Christian Apologetics since I was a young Christian....

      Share your favorite argument for the existence of God below.

      Background: I'm an atheist (and have been for a decade) who's been interested in Christian Apologetics since I was a young Christian. As I entered adulthood, I found myself losing my faith, largely because I grew up in a fundamentalist, Young Earth Creationist household which taught that evolution and God are incompatible. While I no longer believe in this lack of compatibility, my belief in God never came back. I've tried to give it an honest effort, and there are many compelling reasons why I want Christianity to be true:

      • Reunification with loved ones who've passed
      • Absolute moral justice exists
      • A plan for my life, and meaning in my suffering
      • Access to unconditional love; to have a personal relationship with my creator
      • Surviving my own death

      For a variety of reasons seemingly outside my direct control, I still don't believe. It doesn't help that I've been introduced to strong arguments against the existence of God (e.g. the problem of evil and its subsets) which have rebuttals of varying quality from Christian philosophers. I don't think this lack of belief is my fault, or for lack of trying; I can't make myself believe anything. I try to be open to arguments, and this has led to an obsession with revisiting apologetics.

      Now I think of apologetics as at least a fun mental exercise; combing through the arguments, atheist rebuttals, and responses to those rebuttals. That's probably strange, but it tickles the right parts of the brain to keep me engaged.

      27 votes
    8. What does your spirituality mean to you?

      In lieu of a ~spirituality group I figured a dedicated thread could be nice. Posting in this group was suggested by a fellow tildo. So friends, what does your spirituality mean to you? How would...

      In lieu of a ~spirituality group I figured a dedicated thread could be nice. Posting in this group was suggested by a fellow tildo.

      So friends, what does your spirituality mean to you? How would you define yourself? What impact has it had on your life?

      For me, I'm a Christopagan and my faith means a lot to me. The Christian Trinity, Santa Muerte, and Krishna are my rock. The Buddha is a good source of inspiration too, but I don't particularly follow him. I also find a lot of meaning in the Tao de Ching, but I wouldn't necessarily consider myself a Taoist, although I agree with a lot of what it says .

      25 votes
    9. What are some of the symbols or rituals that make you feel more connected spiritually?

      I was inspired by this comment by @rogue_cricket in another discussion on spirituality. I was going to simply reply, but I think it could be a fun, new topic for recommendations and it didn't seem...

      I was inspired by this comment by @rogue_cricket in another discussion on spirituality. I was going to simply reply, but I think it could be a fun, new topic for recommendations and it didn't seem to fit the overall conversation over there. Since I'm brand new, let me know if I'm doing this wrong and if I should just reply instead.

      So what are everyone's symbols or rituals? Whether you are Christian, Buddhist, Athiest, Agnostic, Muslim, etc., what are some things that make you feel more connected?

      Here's my contribution:

      A little context: I call myself agnostic. I believe there might be something bigger out there, but that it doesn't make much sense to put a face to it or try to figure out what it wants from us. Since I don't prescribe to any particular religion, I have come up with my own ways to feel the serenity of connecting with whatever it is (The Universe, God, Nature, etc.):

      Tibetan Singing Bowls:

      My friend bought a big, expensive, crystal bowl that I used several times while meditating. The vibrations are supposed to resonate with and activate the chakras in your body. I found a smaller, more affordable set on Amazon. While they don't have the same gut-vibrating power as the large, crystal bowl, they still help my meditation sessions immensely by giving me something to focus on.

      Character Asset Stones:

      As a member of a 12-Step program, we are supposed to constantly work on weakening our character defects by strengthening our character assets, but I always seem to have trouble remembering them in the moment. My sponsor suggested painting words such as "kindness," "generosity," "honesty," and "forgiveness" on small river stones. I will randomly pick one out of a fish bowl before I leave the house every day, and carry it in my pocket, reminding me all day to work on that one particular character asset. I feel that little spark of connection and a sense of satisfaction every time I get to practice my asset for the day.

      Sitting Quiety and Observing:

      This one is very hard for me, as my brain always defaults to wanting to scroll something or do something. I've found that it works best if I have something interesting to focus on. I'm fortunate enough to live near the beach, so sometimes I will just go watch the waves for a while. Sometimes I people watch on the patio of Starbucks. It's important for me to leave my phone elsewhere, or I'll want to pull it out and check texts-emails-reddit-grindr-blah-blah-blah. But sitting quietly and just being for a little while, enjoying the sights and sounds, "stopping to smell the roses," makes me feel connected to the Universe.

      I'm looking forward to some more ideas...

      13 votes