Can Atheists And Agnostic Worship?

Re: Can Atheists And Agnostic Worship?

Postby romansh » Sat Jan 24, 2015 8:03 am

Thoughtage wrote:Hi Bill, always interesting to hear from you.

Bill wrote:It may be the right of the ancients to make a realization out of Nature and call it Yahweh - but to then make him a genocidal monster was probably not what Yahweh had in mind when He allowed such a personalization to take place.


Bill. Nature is a genocidal monster. It ruthlessly kills every single life it has ever created, usually in a painful and completely unjust manner.

I must admit I don't subscribe to this view of nature ... mine is less dualistic and a bit more neutral.

I think existence is amazing through the glimpses of understanding I think I have.

Joseph Campbell (you might like him) said something like ... Unless there is death, there cannot be birth. ie a Lion King philosophy of the Great Circle of Life. We shape our environment and our environment shapes us. Somehow we see our selves as separate. I don't think we are.

There is nothing here to worship ... just perhaps something to marvel.
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Re: Can Atheists And Agnostic Worship?

Postby Bill » Sat Jan 24, 2015 9:00 am

I still think there is a difference between a force that creates and destroys with no underlying purpose other than happen chance, and a force that creates so that it can revel and delight in the destruction that it then wreaks. But no matter: we are probably heading into a semantic cul de sac of whether nature itself can be aware of itself. And we have had too many semantic cul de sacs of late for my taste.

And C.S Lewis (I think you might hate him) said that without tragedy, there cannot be elation: without pain and suffering, there cannot be joy. So when a painful tragedy is inflicted upon you, it is, in fact, a gift from God in order that you can attain a higher level of joyful elation. I suppose one could make some sort of argument that a secularist who wishes to enjoy life to the full should spend some of it enduring painful tragedies as a mechanism towards achieving that end.

A major problem I sometimes run into, particularly with newer members, is that I use the period at the end of each of my sentences as a quick form for the :) emoticon.

Putting an emoticon at the end of every single one of my sentences quickly becomes over affected :) Even though it does clearly indicate a writer with tongue firmly in his cheek everytime he puts fingers to keyboard :) So please accept that not everything you read written by me is not expected to be taken at face value :) Perhaps I should start using some sort of emoticon to stick at the end of sentences that are supposed to be taken seriously ... :)

But in the meantime I shall go back to using the period to be my short hand for a smiley emoticon.
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Re: Can Atheists And Agnostic Worship?

Postby Thoughtage » Sat Jan 24, 2015 3:33 pm

Hi again Bill,

Bill wrote:I still think there is a difference between a force that creates and destroys with no underlying purpose other than happen chance, and a force that creates so that it can revel and delight in the destruction that it then wreaks.


I suggest a solution to such concerns. Forget about Jehovah. Those who feel as you do can be practical by putting the Jehovah story down and picking up another story they like better.

To me, it doesn't really matter whether the nature story or the Jehovah story of some other story is the most true. Nobody really knows The Answer anyway, our fundamental situation remains the same in any case, we can do little about it, and the challenge is still to....

Create the most positive relationship we can with where we find ourselves.

Theism has a plan for doing that....

Bow to the superior power, follow it's rules, and worship it.

If we replace the word "God" with the word "Nature" the formula above is still a pretty good place to start.

What I'm trying to get at here is that atheism will always be a shallow enterprise if it confines itself to whining about theism.

It seems a better plan to take on the fundamental human challenge of making peace with Whatever It Is in some manner which doesn't include religious beliefs. In that case atheism would be a constructive force, a true competitor, a real alternative to theism.

What theism teaches us is that if such an effort to reframe atheism were to confine itself to logic slide rule calculations it's quite unlikely to serve billions of people for thousands of years.

Theism is realistic in understanding the human condition. If atheism wants to compete it has to be realistic too.

Human beings are like an M&M candy. There's a thin hard shell of reason on the outside obscuring a much larger soft and squishy middle of emotion. Once the basic needs of the body are met, it's that soft and squishy middle which runs the show.

Theism understands this human reality, and thus theism is full of emotion. And thus I'm asking, can atheists and agnostics embrace the human emotional experience in the way theists do?

If we answer no, then we're not being realistic, and not really in the real game.

And C.S Lewis (I think you might hate him) said that without tragedy, there cannot be elation: without pain and suffering, there cannot be joy. So when a painful tragedy is inflicted upon you, it is, in fact, a gift from God in order that you can attain a higher level of joyful elation.


I don't know about the gift from God part, but the rest of it makes sense. It's a good quote you offer here, because it shows the rational process of taking a negative and converting it in to a positive. Nice work.

I suppose one could make some sort of argument that a secularist who wishes to enjoy life to the full should spend some of it enduring painful tragedies as a mechanism towards achieving that end.


Well, observing painful tragedies at least should make us more thankful for what we have. LIfe/God/Nature/Reality is usually pretty generous in providing painful tragedies, so we probably don't need to beg for them ourselves.
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Re: Can Atheists And Agnostic Worship?

Postby gilnv » Sun Jan 25, 2015 11:02 am

In regards to the title of this thread 'Can Atheists And Agnostic Worship?' ----
I call myself a spiritual agnostic. Therefore, I wouldn't be considered a strong agnostic if a strong agnostic's definition is that it's impossible to know if there is a God, Gods, spirits, reincarnations, life forces, etc.

Just as a person can be described as 'athletic', a person can also be described as 'spiritual'. For example --
1. An athletic person does athletic stuff like jogging or racquet sports.
2. Athletic people tend to eat diets conducive to their favorite sport.
3. Athletes likely dress differently, with more jogging type shoes as opposed to the 'suit and tie' of salesmen or business folks.
4. They will have magazines, books, and DVD's about sports.
5. They will occasionally partake in a class or camp to learn how to improve their performance. Etc.

A spiritual person will similarly have his own spiritual style of life.
1. Doing things that he considers spiritual, like meditation, prayer, connecting with Earth or spirits etc.
2. A spiritual person tends to eat 'mindfully'. Possibly bland monk-like or a sentient friendly diet , or maybe live food as opposed to cooked dead food.
3. Attire of a spiritual person is often the bland attire of monks, it is not likely to be lots of high heels and make up. He may walk mindfully.
4. He will have some magazines, books, and DVD's about spiritual stuff or old scriptures.
5. He or she may partake in a class or zen type camp. I've enjoyed visiting a few monasteries, etc.

P.S. A main thing to remember is that any person that takes up a hobby (athletics, spirituality, martial arts etc), is going to progress in that area the longer the person does it. For example, in martial arts, a judo student reaches higher levels after a few months, and then after half a year, and then after years.
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Re: Can Atheists And Agnostic Worship?

Postby romansh » Sun Jan 25, 2015 11:48 am

gilnv wrote:1. An athletic person does athletic stuff like jogging or racquet sports.

1. Doing things that he considers spiritual, like meditation, prayer, connecting with Earth or spirits etc.

It's funny playing squash is the closest thing I do to something that is meditation.
In the thirty seconds or so a rally takes these days there is nothing in this universe other than a black bouncing ball in a white court.

I have long recognized this altered state when I am lost in a rally. A tin or double bounce brings me back to the conscious world.
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Re: Can Atheists And Agnostic Worship?

Postby whateverist » Sun Jan 25, 2015 12:58 pm

I've used to play racketball and before that handball and I agree that such activities are some of my favorite forms of meditation too. But it isn't the only one. I also find walks, playing with my dog and gardening can become meditation.
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Re: Can Atheists And Agnostic Worship?

Postby AB517 » Mon Jan 26, 2015 5:31 pm

religious worship is the one thing I can see doing without. It is not needed and is funny. but emotional expressions that different people have probably can be shared as a group. like in nature walks, astronomy, bird watching. things like that. and meetings where people share real feelings with each other would be nice. Where we can sit and say to a group "that was a dick move I did! and I will try not to do things like it again. I may not be better tomorrow, but I will try not to be worse than I was today!"
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Re: Can Atheists And Agnostic Worship?

Postby Ayn Marx » Sat Jan 31, 2015 7:30 pm

gilnv wrote:A spiritual person will similarly have his own spiritual style of life.
1. Doing things that he considers spiritual, like meditation, prayer, connecting with Earth or spirits etc.

Some branches of tatric yoga consider gurus seducing their desciples a spiritual practice. I'm not saying it necessarily isn't (having been blissfully seduced by my acharia!) just that it's frequently used in an abusive and anything but spiritual manner, especially by church 'dignitaries'.
2. A spiritual person tends to eat 'mindfully'. Possibly bland monk-like or a sentient friendly diet , or maybe live food as opposed to cooked dead food.

Well, that counts out any number who over the ages we've been told were either spiritual persons or saints.
3. Attire of a spiritual person is often the bland attire of monks, it is not likely to be lots of high heels and make up. He may walk mindfully.

I can't for the life of me imagine how you'd describe members of Ananda Marga as appearing bland. As for the many popes who get around in guilded frocks I'm willing to believe they weren't spiritual.
4. He will have some magazines, books, and DVD's about spiritual stuff or old scriptures

Members of a number of Eastern religions don't own any such objects.
5. He or she may partake in a class or zen type camp. I've enjoyed visiting a few monasteries, etc.

'May' is indeed the operative word,

P.S. A main thing to remember is that any person that takes up a hobby (athletics, spirituality, martial arts etc), is going to progress in that area the longer the person does it. For example, in martial arts, a judo student reaches higher levels after a few months, and then after half a year, and then after years.

Well then, no use going on the road to Damascus.
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Re: Can Atheists And Agnostic Worship?

Postby Ayn Marx » Mon Feb 02, 2015 3:23 pm

Thoughtage wrote:Apparently, a great many theists find the experience of worship to be quite meaningful, given that religious communities around the world have spent billions upon billions of dollars creating structures dedicated to this activity.

Worship is an experience we usually think of as being a function of theism. But can atheists and agnostics experience worship too? Can a deeply emotional state of worship be achieved without the god concept? Is it rational to embrace such an experience?

Can we explore this together?

Stretching the definition of worship maybe but Ayn Rand's novel "The Fountainhead" contains an interesting passage describing a 'Temple of the Human Spirit"

https://templeofthehumanspirit.wordpress.com
https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/290824 ... -spirit-he
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Re: Can Atheists And Agnostic Worship?

Postby Thoughtage » Mon Feb 02, 2015 5:18 pm

Ayn Marx wrote:Stretching the definition of worship maybe but Ayn Rand's novel "The Fountainhead" contains an interesting passage describing a 'Temple of the Human Spirit"


To the degree the "Temple" is about emotion, and not just more intellectualism, then it's relevant. Ayn Rand said...

Howard Roark built a temple to the human spirit. He saw man as strong, proud, clean, wise and fearless. He saw man as a heroic being. And he built a temple to that. A temple is a place where man is to experience exaltation. He thought that exaltation comes from the consciousness of being guiltless, of seeing the truth and achieving it, of living up to one’s highest possibility, of knowing no shame and having no cause for shame, of being able to stand naked in full sunlight. He thought that exaltation means joy and that joy is man’s birthright. He tho...ught that a place built as a setting for man is a sacred place. That is what Howard Roark thought of man and of exaltation.


The word "worship" seems to imply an emotional relationship with something larger than oneself. So I'm confused as to the degree Rands temple applies, given her focus on man.

My point is that "an emotional relationship with something larger than oneself" may have great value, and need not be aimed at religious entities.

To me, this is an example of being objective about religion, and able to harvest that which is useful, while declining that which we find to be an obstacle.
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