Long May It Wave?

christian-flag

Some of you may have read recent news reports related to a “flag issue” taking place in Boston, MA. If you haven’t, here is an article about the dispute.

According to the article, the challenge has gone all the way to the Supreme Court and they are scheduled to hear the case today (1/18/22), with a possible decision by the end of June.

In my opinion, this is just one more example of Christians trying to overstep their bounds.

Yes, the Constitution talks about freedom of religion, but this doesn’t translate to “religion” entering into every facet of public life. It means those who are “religious” have freedom to worship without governmental intrusion or obstruction.

Interestingly, the Biden administration is in support of the action, as is the ACLU — which has presented a brief that states: “The city (cannot) designate its flagpole a public forum for private speech and then deny access to an otherwise eligible speaker based on viewpoint.” 

On the other hand, Boston officials contend that the flags on the city’s flag poles are a form of government speech and the city has a right to avoid raising a faith group’s flag as it would then be conveying a religious message. (I AGREE!)

This argument has won in the lower courts but in September, the Supreme Court agreed to take up the case and clarify what counts as government speech.

From my non-religious point of view, I see this as simply one more effort to make in-roads towards meeting the goal of the Christian Nationalists. Minor, yes, in that it’s a “city” issue. But Major in that the decision made by the Supreme Court may very well demonstrate the bias many of us believe exists among its members, as well as portend future actions by this group that involve religious issues.

Why Religion?

noreligion

Earlier today I read a post by the Spartan Atheist related to the development of religion over the centuries, including the role the Winter Solstice played (which we just experienced) … and it got me to thinking.

Why religion?

Let’s look at some definitions for the word “religion” … but first, let’s consider this entry from Wikipedia:

The definition of religion is a controversial and complicated subject in religious studies with scholars failing to agree on any one definition.

Now, let’s review a couple of the more “standard” definitions:

A strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny. (WordWeb.info)

A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. (Dictionary.com)

A body of beliefs and practices regarding the supernatural and the worship of one or more deities. (Merriam-Webster.com)

And this, from Britannica.com:

Human beings’ relation to that which they regard as holy, sacred, absolute, spiritual, divine, or worthy of especial reverence. It is also commonly regarded as consisting of the way people deal with ultimate concerns about their lives and their fate after death.

So now we have an idea of what “religion” is from the more academic side. From the more “practical” side, it seems to involve belief in and actions related to “something” outside of ourselves. 

For me, the question then becomes … WHY?

Why do so many humans feel they must look beyond themselves to ensure they will live a happy and productive life? Aren’t their personal abilities, personal experiences, and personal decisions enough? Why must they turn to some sort of external assistance to direct their lives? Why must happiness and contentment come from an external source?

It’s understandable why the very early humans needed to latch onto something beyond themselves. They had no concept of the workings of nature. Much of what took place — thunder, lightning, earthquakes — was upsetting and frightening to them. So, according to scientists, over time the people developed “causal narratives;” that is, they would “tell stories” to explain the unexplainable. 

The question then becomes … why do so many modern humans feel the need to rely on (one of) those  “stories” to explain today’s world?  Have we not advanced beyond the need to appease forces we do not understand? Hasn’t our level of intelligence reached the point where we are able to direct our own lives? Do we really need to depend on some “superhuman agency” to live a full and happy life?

IMO, the answer is yes. We have reached the point in human development where we no longer need supernatural assistance. I fully believe we are totally capable of doing and becoming all that we want to be. All. By. Ourselves.

So I ask again … WHY RELIGION?

The Answer is “None”

noreligion

According to a recent article, when Americans were asked by pollsters about their religious identity, the fastest-growing major group (!!!)* consisted of those who don’t affiliate with any organized religion.

Yes, the common reply now is … “None.”

However, even though many individuals who were interviewed answered with “none,” several expressed that they still felt a connection to God or a higher power, while others said religion continued to hold some importance to them. 

But what I found most interesting (and disgusting … and shameful) were the reactions that many face when their friends or relatives discover they hold this position. 

From the article …

Within the Black community, we face ostracism … there is this idea that somehow you are rejecting your blackness when you reject religion, that atheism is something that white people do.

A former Protestant who grew up as a Baptist and attended church regularly says not everyone in her family knows she has forsaken religion … and some who do know struggle to accept it.  Similarly, at the beauty store she owns, she feels she must keep her atheism “under wraps” from clients for fear they’d go elsewhere.

In any event, as one individual put it … “We’re looking for our own answers, beyond the programming we received growing up.” 

And to those who feel this same way, I say … BRAVO!

*29% of American adults — up from 23% in 2016 and 19% in 2011.

Religion and The Rest of Us

The following statement was recently made by Scott Morrison. Australia’s Prime Minister and a devout Pentecostal Christian:

“People should not be cancelled or persecuted or vilified because their beliefs are different from someone else’s.”  

When taken at face value, it’s a good declaration. But this is NOT the way Mr. Morrison intended. Rather, his actual intent is that people of faith (Christianity) should be “protected against cancel culture.”

Apparently his statement comes amid concerns that individuals from churches, schools, and workplaces are unable to express their religious beliefs. According to the article, proposed legislation will protect Australians who make “statements of belief” from action under existing discrimination laws. (It also will allow faith-based organizations to prioritize the hiring and enrollment of people from their faith.)

On a broad scale, one would assume such legislation would protect individuals from ALL religions. In other words, Muslims, Wiccans, Druids, Hindus, Satanists, etc. would each have the same protection. Yet rarely is this the case in legislative decisions related to religion.

Many of us who live in the States are not surprised by Mr. Morrison’s actions. Since the horrendous four years of the Trump reign, the Christian Nationalism movement (“Taking America Back for God”) has slowly but surely permeated American civic life. Thus, it would not be surprising if similar laws were proposed by certain members of Congress in the not-too-distant future.

It’s important to those reading this post to consider that U.S. laws relating to religious freedoms in the U.S. are … complicated. Yes, we have the First Amendment that addresses guarantees and precautions related to religion and its practice, but this doesn’t stop individuals and groups from searching for “loopholes” in order to challenge the provisions. In fact, it is not uncommon to read of people and churches using the words of the Amendment in such a way as to support their own theology. (If interested, further reading can be found here.)

As a general rule, the broad-minded and more rational individuals among the U.S. populace are often willing to allow a certain amount of leeway to practicing Christians. However, far too many theists try to push the envelope. Naturally, non-believers and atheists would prefer that they just “go away” or, at the very least, keep their prayers and admonishments to themselves. 

In any event, there is little doubt that believers like Mr. Morrison will continue to assert their doctrines and practices into society as a whole. Hopefully, the “rest of us” will not allow them to succeed.

Eternity

Following are various definitions for the word “Eternity“:

  1. Time without end
  2. What exists outside time
  3. An endless or seemingly endless period of time
  4. The timeless state following death
  5. A state of eternal existence believed in some religions to characterize the afterlife

That last definition is the focus of this post.

On several occasions I’ve come across Christian believers who mention “Eternity” in discussions related to their departure from this earthly plane — and I’ve frequently asked them to describe exactly what they think they will be doing during this rather extended period of time.

So far, no one has provided an answer. (In fact, the question is usually ignored.)

According to this website, there are 42 bible verses that talk about “eternal life.” However, after a cursory look at the list, I was unable to find a single verse that offers a description of activities during this period of “time.”

I then came across another website that discusses the topic of Eternity using biblical data and theological analysis. It covers the philosophy of time, Augustine’s view, modern views … and even covers “practical applications.”  But again, no discussion of activities by believers during this prolonged period.

And then there’s this website that offers a quite lengthy discussion of the difference between the words “eternal” and “Eternity” but once again, the writer fails to offer any suggestions of what believers will be doing during the latter.

Finally, Google rendered a website with a more academic bent related to the topic of Eternity from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. While the site provided extensive coverage of the topic, including a discussion of “Divine Timelessness,” along with the mention of  “temporal entities,” I was unable to discern any information related to activities that might take place by believers.

Finally, referencing the bible itself, in the book of Revelation, John talks about seeing a new heaven and a new earth, and describes a holy city “coming down from God out of heaven.” He writes that the city is made of precious stones and jewels and has “streets of gold.” He declares that the “nations of them which are saved” will walk in the light of it — and adds that there will be no night or day in this city. 

However there is no mention of what people will be doing in this glorious city for … Eternity

So, considering that “ETERNITY” is a very, very, very long “time” … and considering the lack of information in the bible related to any planned activities … one can’t help but wonder why Christians are so anxious to get there. And even more to the point … what do they think they will be doing … forever?

grouchyfarmer

A blog about just about anything and everything

The Heretical Philosopher

Questioning the conventional wisdom

Scottie's Playtime

Come see what I share

I Write Her

my humanity in written form

Ideas From Outside the Boxes

If I can think it, I can write it.

Windblownwords

A blog about living and writing.

Wordifull

...poetry, stories & rants.

The Truth Seeking Atheist

We should all care about what we can reliably determine to be true.

notestoponder

Ponder(verb) to weigh in the mind; to view with deliberation; to examine carefully; to consider attentively

Dispassionate Doubt

Broodings and Ponderings of a Pensive Skeptic

The Bookish Recovering Know-it-All

Read, Review and Repeat

On The Fence Voters

Analysis & Discussion For Political Uncertainty

Club Schadenfreude

I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, 'wouldn't it be much worse if life *were* fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?' So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe. - M. Cole

word art by rawgod

creative writings old and new

TheCowHandSaga

Finite wisdom of a Cowhand and Mountain Guide

One Life Not Two

Belief and Delusion: believing in a life after death is delusional.

A New Spirituality

I believe in you. I believe in me.

The Professor's Convatorium

Welcome — Come Immerse, Convalesce, Spark Dialogue or Simply Discern

Life After Religion

Searching for truth while leaving tradition behind.

Filosofa's Word

Cogito Ergo Sum

The Spartan Atheist

Let's face it, your religion is probably wrong.

Richmond Road

An old man wrestling with the alphabet. And other stuff.