Should Atheists have a religion

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Should Atheists have a religion

Postby edy420 on October 6th, 2015, 4:13 am 

Religious people may have their own views and takes on how they conduct their faith, but for the most part they have common views and goals.

Atheists however, agree and disagree on anything and everything.
Abortion, suicide, killing, education, discipline... everything.
Ultimately there is always an authority who decides right from wrong.
Perhaps there is a positive side to diverse opinion, but on such a large scale and magnitude, what is right is only determined by who is in power.
Looking throughout history at all the different authorities, from pretend Gods and ceasers to kings dictators and governments, there is no real right or wrong.
The only thing that determines your quality of life, is what timeline your born in.

I think the quality of life overall would be improved if atheists could agree on one set of rules, one that focuses on the quality of life.

Thoughts?
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby vivian maxine on October 6th, 2015, 7:30 am 

edy420 » October 6th, 2015, 3:13 am wrote:Religious people may have their own views and takes on how they conduct their faith, but for the most part they have common views and goals.

Atheists however, agree and disagree on anything and everything.
Abortion, suicide, killing, education, discipline... everything.
Ultimately there is always an authority who decides right from wrong.
Perhaps there is a positive side to diverse opinion, but on such a large scale and magnitude, what is right is only determined by who is in power.
Looking throughout history at all the different authorities, from pretend Gods and ceasers to kings dictators and governments, there is no real right or wrong.
The only thing that determines your quality of life, is what timeline your born in.

I think the quality of life overall would be improved if atheists could agree on one set of rules, one that focuses on the quality of life.

Thoughts?


You make a good point but part of the (pleasure?) of being an atheist is not having any rules and not having anyone tell you what to believe.

Then there is not having to get up on Sunday morning and go to church - another rule.

In other words, atheisim is a religion in itself - freedom to believe nothing.

My humble, unasked-for opinion. VM
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby Natural ChemE on October 6th, 2015, 9:34 am 

edy420 » October 6th, 2015, 3:13 am wrote:I think the quality of life overall would be improved if atheists could agree on one set of rules, one that focuses on the quality of life.

Thoughts?

So, basically, "Why can't we all just get along?"

Usually it's because different folks want different things and see the world in different ways. Why would everyone see various issues, e.g.:
  • alcohol consumption (including rules about it related to driving, in the work place, etc.);
  • drugs (of all different sorts, including rules about driving, etc.);
  • abortion;
  • rape;
  • intellectual property;
  • ownership of scarce resources (e.g. oil fields, rivers, beach fronts);
  • allowability of gang-like organizations;
, etc., the same way? And, yes, make no mistake - lots of people want stuff like rape to be legal. And for many such individuals (e.g. sociopaths), there's no reason that they should want anything different, even if our current social constructs can coerce them into not acting on their desires in many cases.

If you'd like to come up with a common ideology, you can try. Just dunno if it's actually reasonable to expect everyone to want the same thing. Even when threatened with eternal damnation vs. eternal bliss, there's a lot of variation within specific subsets of specific religions. Heck, even individuals can vary over their lifetime, or even within the same day as their mood changes.
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby Braininvat on October 6th, 2015, 9:54 am 

As societies evolve and grow, certain common rules do emerge. Most atheists are not anarchist, and believe in the rule of law. In western nations, secular humanism has emerged as a common set of beliefs among agnostics and atheists. Wiki it.
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby Serpent on October 6th, 2015, 10:10 am 

I'd be content with a democratic secular state, where every citizen could do whatever liked on the weekend, as long as they didn't force their belief on anybody else.
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby Paralith on October 6th, 2015, 1:21 pm 

edy420 wrote:I think the quality of life overall would be improved if atheists could agree on one set of rules, one that focuses on the quality of life.

Thoughts?


Having a single set of rules to use to guide your behavior in life does make some things easier. You can make decisions faster. If you fully trust in the ethical rightness of the rules then you always feel confident you are doing the right thing as long as you are following the rules. You don't spend as much time and energy thinking and worrying about what's the right thing to do, you just follow the book.

If there existed a single set of simple rules that allowed me to easily live a fully ethical life no matter what situations I encounter, then I would love to set up those rules and follow them. It those rules existed living by them would probably improve quality of life. But I don't think such a set of rules really exists. Our lives are full of situations and encounters where the ethical choice is not always easy or simple to determine and execute. These choices will also be effected by our values, and it's a simple fact that not everybody has the same values.

I feel that our current system of laws and governance represents the best (or approaching the best, at least) method of reconciling the reality of the ethical complexity of human life. In aggregate we try to discuss and vote upon what rules we as a political unit want to try and enforce in our lives and communities. The resulting laws and regulations are not written in stone but open to a degree of interpretation and to being changed or even removed in the future if situations change. I can't imagine an atheist "religion" that would do much different than this.
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby DragonFly on October 6th, 2015, 1:52 pm 

One measure could be not going for events not known and shown to be true, much less those preached as if they were fact, noting this as misleading at best and dishonest at worst.
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby vivian maxine on October 6th, 2015, 2:13 pm 

The trouble with rules is that they were established by humans who each have their own agenda.
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby Ursa Minimus on October 6th, 2015, 2:28 pm 

Atheists I know who want a religion tend to go Unitarian Universalist. Especially if they like committee meetings.

http://www.imladris.com/Sandbox/?UuJokes.html
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby BadgerJelly on October 13th, 2015, 6:31 am 

Atheism is a religion pretending not to be by my definition.

My view is that everyone is aware of their ignorance and that everyone handles this ignorance differently. We act with combinations of humility and egotism. Whether you label yourself X or Y you fall into degrees of awareness of your ignorance and may be swayed more towards humility than a kind of egotism ... not that I would regard one as better than the other!

There are also people who spend little or no time contemplating their existence. To me these people are Atheists in the sense that they don't even bother to call themselves X or Y they just live and possibly only have their minds skirt the question of existence briefly.
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby ronjanec on October 13th, 2015, 8:36 am 

UM,

Well, I guess that explains it: When I was a much younger traveling salesman and Pentecostal Christian, I once gave a ride to UU minister whose car had broken down out in the country;

I started rambling on about how much I loved the Lord, and how God was so good to me, and what do you think about this and that, and for some strange reason, all I got in response was blank stares and unintelligible mumbles?

When we got to town, he literally jumped out of the car, and acted like he had just been given a ride from John Wayne Gacy! :)
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby vivian maxine on October 17th, 2015, 8:02 am 

edy420 » October 6th, 2015, 3:13 am wrote:Religious people may have their own views and takes on how they conduct their faith, but for the most part they have common views and goals.

Atheists however, agree and disagree on anything and everything.
Abortion, suicide, killing, education, discipline... everything.
Ultimately there is always an authority who decides right from wrong.
Perhaps there is a positive side to diverse opinion, but on such a large scale and magnitude, what is right is only determined by who is in power.
Looking throughout history at all the different authorities, from pretend Gods and ceasers to kings dictators and governments, there is no real right or wrong.
The only thing that determines your quality of life, is what timeline your born in.

I think the quality of life overall would be improved if atheists could agree on one set of rules, one that focuses on the quality of life.

Thoughts?


http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/17/us/mo ... 71439&_r=0

It seems to touch on your thought - lightly at least. Institutions offering atheists and spiritual seekers a language of moral discourse.
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby Serpent on October 17th, 2015, 2:57 pm 

vivian maxine » October 6th, 2015, 1:13 pm wrote:The trouble with rules is that they were established by humans who each have their own agenda.

And who makes up the religious laws?
The whole point of rules of behaviour in a society is that each individual agrees to give some of his own agenda to accommodate the agendas of others, so that they, in turn, will co-operate with him. In a functioning democracy, such rules are arrived-at by negotiation and constantly adjust to changing needs, convictions and attitudes of its members.
In a theistic society, the laity has no input into the making of rules; the agendas of individuals - all except the top ranking prelates - are overridden and ignored, if not actively vilified.
Atheists like to form their own convictions and attitudes, rather than inherit them from the fabled prophets of defunct civilizations. They would rather contribute to the making of the rules by which they live than kneel to a set of nonsensical decrees by a man who knows and cares nothing about their needs or concerns.

PS - a religion must have object(s) of worship and a ritual affirmation - as a minimum requirement for the definition. Not believing things doesn't qualify.
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby vivian maxine on October 17th, 2015, 3:15 pm 

"PS - a religion must have object(s) of worship and a ritual affirmation - as a minimum requirement for the definition. Not believing things doesn't qualify." (serpent))

But I think atheists do believe in something - freedom to worship as you please or not to worship at all. It works if they don't get belligerent about it but that can also be said of religionists. If a person wants to believe in a God and prefers to "follow the leader", fine but don't be belligerent toward those who don't.

And, of course, your point that it doesn't work in certain societies is absolutely correct. Although, if you examine history over the centuries, there have been improvements even in those societies. Mankind keeps improving.
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby Serpent on October 17th, 2015, 9:10 pm 

[url=http://www.sciencechatforum.com/viewtopic.php?p=289674#p289674]vivian maxine » October 17th, 2015, 2:15 pm[/url wrote:But I think atheists do believe in something - freedom to worship as you please or not to worship at all.

Lots of people believe that whites are superior to blacks, but racism is not a religion. Lots of people believe that Vitamin C prevents colds, but vitamin consumption is not a religion. Lots of people believe that dogs and children should not be beaten, but kindness is not a religion.
In my case - since I don't speak for atheists in general - it simply means: I do not believe that story. There is neither awe not ceremony involved. I - along with quite a few others, - don't believe that Henry Kissinger tried to broker peace in the Middle east or that aliens landed in Utah - but nobody tries to turn those unbeliefs into a religion.
Each atheists believes a great many things that have nothing to do with their lack of religion; each theist believes a lot of things that have nothing to do with their religion.

It's just as well, too. Imagine if all those beliefs were tax-exempt! Maybe we should make that the criterion. If it doesn't pay tax, it's a religion.

It works if they don't get belligerent about it but that can also be said of religionists. If a person wants to believe in a God and prefers to "follow the leader", fine but don't be belligerent toward those who don't.

How do you mean "it works"? That I don't believe is simply a fact; I don't expect it to accomplish anything.
Just pointing out that the law in theocracies is just as man-made as the law in secular societies; it's simply made by a different franchise.
And, of course, your point that it doesn't work in certain societies is absolutely correct. Although, if you examine history over the centuries, there have been improvements even in those societies. Mankind keeps improving.

I don't recall making a point like that. What doesn't work?
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby Forest_Dump on October 18th, 2015, 9:05 am 

So often it seems so much ends up depending on the definition some prefer.

Serpent wrote:PS - a religion must have object(s) of worship and a ritual affirmation - as a minimum requirement for the definition. Not believing things doesn't qualify.


I certainly have a problem with this definition because it excludes many belief systems (i.e., religions) that do not necessarily recognize or believe in a deity. Religions that fall into the category of animism or animatism, for example, mat believe in a supernatural or metaphysical force that MAY, AT TIMES, be concentrated in places or things (objects, plants, animals or even people) and may be manipulated, etc. But I am not sure it would be correct to say that the objects or people, etc., then become objects of worship or that the manipulation of such a force would count as ritual any more than the smelting or copper, etc., counts as ritual manipulation or ritual affirmation of electricity.

BTW - I certainly cannot think of atheism as anything but a definite statement or set of statements of a religious, supernatural or metaphysical nature (i.e., specifically that such things do not exist) and therefore by that definition a religion.
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby Serpent on October 18th, 2015, 11:18 am 

People in raven masks, dancing around a fire, or people sacrificing goats under an oak tree are performing rituals. All animist and other non-god-oriented religions are based on a belief in the supernatural.

To say that rejection of the supernatural is a religious belief, or that any statement regarding a metaphysical proposition, is a religious statement, is to take the meaning out of religion altogether.
It's like saying all human activity is religious activity, since it is caused by, contains or implies a conviction of some kind, pro or con, about something, real or imagined.

If non-belief = belief, then belief = non-belief , and if it's all the same,
I want at least two major annual holidays .
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby Paralith on October 19th, 2015, 1:30 pm 

I think it can be argued that all humans, or at least the vast majority, hold some sort of belief about things they do not and/or cannot know about. At the very least, they behave as though some things they think likely to be true are in fact true, when it comes to making decisions in their everyday life. Being unable to have perfect knowledge about all things, I think few humans can avoid this mode of operation. So I agree with Serpent that it's unhelpful to define religion as equivalent to any sort of belief whatsoever.

At the very least I would classify religion as a specific set of beliefs that are held by a set of people who attempt to codify and maintain those beliefs with some degree of consistency across their membership. (They are not guaranteed to always be successful in maintaining the beliefs exactly as they are, but that is the goal.) So this would include actively teaching these beliefs to others and encouraging others to follow them in a similar way. Some atheists do work actively to extend their beliefs or at least their behaviors to others, but many do not. I think it can be said that some atheists follow their beliefs in a religious manner while others may not.
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby Braininvat on October 19th, 2015, 1:48 pm 

At the very least I would classify religion as a specific set of beliefs that are held by a set of people who attempt to codify and maintain those beliefs with some degree of consistency across their membership. (They are not guaranteed to always be successful in maintaining the beliefs exactly as they are, but that is the goal.) So this would include actively teaching these beliefs to others and encouraging others to follow them in a similar way. 


This could describe the NRA or the Green party. So you have listed necessary, but not sufficient, attributes to define religion. What needs to be added is: specific metaphysical assertions that add a supernatural and/or mystical aspect to existence. So, IMO, atheists can be fervent and zealous, but are not in any way religious.
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby Paralith on October 19th, 2015, 2:13 pm 

That's a very good point BiV, though this may raise some trouble with the religions Forest is referring to, if the adherents of those religions think their beliefs are merely descriptive properties of the natural world. The supernatural, mystical nature of their beliefs, then, only exists in the context of our modern and/or Western understanding of where the boundaries between natural and supernatural lie.
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby vivian maxine on October 19th, 2015, 3:58 pm 

What about the Eastern religions which some call philosophies? So far as I know - may be wrong here - only some branches of Buddhism believe in a God. A quote from "The Best Guide to Eastern philosophy and Religion" by Diane Morgan - talking about Jainism:

" Jain Atheism: Jainism is an explicitly atheistic religion. To Westerners (and to many Easterners also), this seems like a contradiction in terms. What is religion if not about our relationship with God? (Some kinds of Buddhism and Taoism and Confucianism have little to say about God also, but only Jainism flatly rejects his existence.)"

She goes on to what they say about what God must be or not exist - just, loving, other attributes.

And, since this is also a science forum, more quote from the same book: Maybe the universe is all that ever was. Maybe the universe is eternal.....for Jains, the universe has no beginning and no end." The OP's original question brought my mind to this as it seemed he might be heading in this direction.
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby Forest_Dump on October 19th, 2015, 7:17 pm 

As to this idea about recruiting, I can assure you that there are indeed many religions and groups that definitely do not go out to encourage others to join them. I know there is at least one group of Mennonites, for example, who definitely exclude anyone not born to the group. In fact, religion is often used to define ethnic groups and membership may often be confined to members of that group, however it is defined. As it happens, however, I am also a frequent participant in a variety of Midiwiwin ceremonies and rituals (although I still consider myself a reverent but skeptical agnostic) and would note that while often these do exclude non-natives, some will accept some outsiders but none that I know of go out to actively recruit, even among their children.

I would also note that it is quite the over-simplification to imply that dancing around fires in raven's masks necessarily involves any more religion than being involved in the Lion's club or Shriners (wait.. aren't they Masons?). In short, some of this strikes me as being on par with and as intolerant as, condemning Halloween as an evil pagan/satanist conspiracy.
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby Forest_Dump on October 19th, 2015, 7:20 pm 

Paralith wrote:The supernatural, mystical nature of their beliefs, then, only exists in the context of our modern and/or Western understanding of where the boundaries between natural and supernatural lie.


I think there is a lot more to this point that could be considered.
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby BioWizard on October 19th, 2015, 9:28 pm 

edy420 » 06 Oct 2015 03:13 am wrote:Religious people may have their own views and takes on how they conduct their faith, but for the most part they have common views and goals.

Atheists however, agree and disagree on anything and everything.
Abortion, suicide, killing, education, discipline... everything.
Ultimately there is always an authority who decides right from wrong.
Perhaps there is a positive side to diverse opinion, but on such a large scale and magnitude, what is right is only determined by who is in power.
Looking throughout history at all the different authorities, from pretend Gods and ceasers to kings dictators and governments, there is no real right or wrong.
The only thing that determines your quality of life, is what timeline your born in.

I think the quality of life overall would be improved if atheists could agree on one set of rules, one that focuses on the quality of life.

Thoughts?


I would like to take a different direction from the other comments and question the premise of the OP. If religion could ensure agreement within its members, and followers of a given religion didn't typically disagree on most matters, then why are there so many sects within the biggest religions, and why do some of them go as far as waging war against each other? I don't think we can take the statement that atheists generally disagree more than religious people as a given. Especially not when you consider the time component and the evolution of religions over time.

Religious people disagree, and disagree alot. And then you end up with new religions/sects/etc.
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby BioWizard on October 19th, 2015, 9:34 pm 

Forest Dump what is your favored definition of religion?
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby BioWizard on October 19th, 2015, 9:43 pm 

I do agree, by the way, that atheists get the short end of the stick from religions groups because those get to throw a lot of weight around. That said, my opinion is that if aethiests should ever organize, it should be under political and civil banners. Not any sort of imposed belief-system - that'd just be too ironically cheesey (I imagine I'd be giggling the whole time).
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby Paul Anthony on October 19th, 2015, 10:00 pm 

Several of you have offered interesting definitions of Religion. I'm a bit surprised no one offered a dictionary definition. (Remember dictionaries? Sometimes I feel really old).

Websters defines religion as (1): the service and worship of God or the supernatural; (2): devotion to a religious faith; (3): an organized system of faith and worship.

To meet the requirements of those conditions, a person would have to worship a god or a devil or pretty much any supernatural being. And, that person would have to do so in a proscribed manner.

IMO, that include the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) but also the sort of beliefs described by Forest. It would not include Jainism, Buddhism or Deism. (Deists believe in a Superior entity credited with creating the universe, but see no reason to worship It).

It definitely would not include atheists.
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby Serpent on October 20th, 2015, 1:14 am 

Forest_Dump » October 19th, 2015, 6:17 pm wrote:As to this idea about recruiting, I can assure you that there are indeed many religions and groups that definitely do not go out to encourage others to join them.

What idea of recruiting? Teaching others to do likewise is not necessarily proselytizing the unconverted, but rather, passing on the traditions within a community. Jews, Mennonites - and Anglicans, for that matter - train their young in the beliefs and observances of their religion. Presumably because they believe that God wants them to behave in a certain 'correct' way. I don't quite see how their children could avoid learning the right beliefs and the right way while living in a religious community.

I would also note that it is quite the over-simplification to imply that dancing around fires in raven's masks necessarily involves any more religion

You mean they've only ever done it for fun? I sincerely doubt that. It was just one example of ritual connected with a belief system based on a relationship with the supernatural. I was trying to allow the broadest possible definition of 'religion' without killing the word outright. You can dilute it to death if you want to - Coyote knows I wouldn't miss it! - but then this whole question of atheists having one will be moot.

than being involved in the Lion's club or Shriners (wait.. aren't they Masons?).

Some of the men's social and charitable organizations began as auxiliary to Christian churches; some, like the Shriners, are more like a parody of religious organizations. They do not center on a particular sacred object or person, though their cultural roots are Christian.

In short, some of this strikes me as being on par with and as intolerant as, condemning Halloween as an evil pagan/satanist conspiracy.

Where is the intolerance in defining the word religion? Where is the condemnation?
I'm perfectly happy to co-exist amicably with Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Druids, Hara Krishnas and Wiccans - I just don't subscribe to any of their supernatural beliefs or take part in any of their rituals. Nor have I any interest in establishing or joining any community that shares such a belief or practices such rituals.
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby mtbturtle on October 20th, 2015, 5:48 am 

ForestDump, Do you consider your agnosticism to also be a religion?
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Re: Should Atheists have a religion

Postby Forest_Dump on October 20th, 2015, 7:25 am 

You will have to forgive me but I was pretty wrapped up in the election yesterday.

I know from my anthropological research in religion, including archaeological evolution of its origins, development and spread (i.e., evolution) that definitions are very tricky and I am not sure there is a best definition that will serve for all occassions but I prefer the most simple in that religion is any set of statements or beliefs in the metaphysical or supernatural but allowing that, as noted by Paralith above, the boundary between what is believed to be natural and supernatural is not universal. So...

mtbturtle wrote:ForestDump, Do you consider your agnosticism to also be a religion?


Of course. But I can't help also seeing it as an extremely important tool because it forces me to constantly keep my mind open. Aside from participating in Midiwiwin rituals and ceremonies, pretty much every day I come across statements about what we might call supernatural things ranging from ghosts to spirit creatures, UFO's and sasquatches (there is a surprising amount of the latter around these parts and some very well educated and intelligent people I know take them for granted). While I personally have never seen any convincing evidence of any of the above, according to my criteria, and would offer a "natural" scientific explanation for some of these things (e.g., UFOs) if I did, I also am open to the possibility that either I am "blind" to some of this or just haven't learned how to see and interpret it. But I do try to varying degrees and sometimes I do wonder - I have to admit that things are different after a couple hours in a sweat lodge. But sure, maybe thats just heat exhaustion, the drumming, tobacco and sage smoke and the medicine. Or maybe thats just how you learn to see. But I do think my own religion, agnosticism, does force me to keep my mind open to any and all possibilities rather than simply giving in to the skeptical side. I have to admit that through time I do see a lot of negativity coming from my western Judeo-Christian/"scientific" roots.
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