Howardism Musings from my Awakening Dementia
My collected thoughts flamed by hubris
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I was a little concerned when I was dropping religion that somehow I would find my life empty and have a longing that could never be assuage. I didn't find it. And I was surprised. I didn't feel the lack of God in my life.

—Colin McGin

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

—John Lennon

A World Without God

I'm in a rambling mood, so hang on, as I'm afraid this ride may get a bit bumpy…

In an interview in Wired magazine, Sam Harris discussed what a world without God might be. He said:

There would be a religion of reason. We would have realized the rational means to maximize human happiness. We may all agree that we want to have a Sabbath that we take really seriously -- a lot more seriously than most religious people take it. But it would be a rational decision, and it would not be just because it's in the Bible. We would be able to invoke the power of poetry and ritual and silent contemplation and all the variables of happiness so that we could exploit them. Call it prayer, but we would have prayer without bullshit.

The interviewer, Gary Wolf, then commented:

I do call it prayer. Here is the atheist prayer: that our reason will subjugate our superstition, that our intelligence will check our illusions, that we will be able to hold at bay the evil temptation of faith.

I'm not entirely convinced that the world will be better when we all "give up on God" (although there are days I do). I do think the world will be better when we accept more rationality in our personal philosophy, but the current tensions of war and terrorism isn't fueled just by God. It is also includes quite a bit of greed, revenge and bad foreign policies. You know, the staples of human nature.

I mean, do you really think that America wouldn't be spreading a war into Iraq if there wasn't oil to loot?

Still, I find atheists fascinating. I finished listening to a series of interviews by Bill Moyers in his PBS program, Faith and Reason. In it, he interviewed people on all sides of the spectrum. However, I found the atheists and the agnostics to be far more enlightening. This is due, I think, to each person having to develop their own meaning for life, instead of accepting a pat answer handed to them by another.

I remember John Lennon had a song along these lines. ;-)
Growing up, I remember a particular preaching in church that mentioned that song directly, and noted that the lines, "Imagine all the people / Living for today" was an emblem for people living in sin, and not looking towards or planning the future "Heaven" as they should. And that living for current pleasures will just bring displeasure from God at the future judgment day.

Now that I've studied a fair amount of Buddhism, I think I know where Lennon got such a concept, and there is something going for it.

For living in the moment is not necessarily an abandonment into hedonism and debauchery. It is about the contentment that comes from getting rid of greed and desire. I don't feel like preaching the gospel of Buddhism right now, but I think there is some good thoughts to integrate into your own personal philosophy.

But what are we to do about the tension in our country that is currently bleeding us of our identity and solidarity? Seriously, there are Christians who feel they are actually being persecuted by non-believers, and non-believers feel that Christians want to take over the country and retaliate against them. I don't think this is helping us.

I stumbled across this review of Reasons to Believe: One ManŐs Journey Among the Evangelicals and the Faith He Left Behind by John Marks, and in there is the following quote:

Both sides in the discussion of religion in this country have done a great deal to vilify and demonize the other side. Just as non-believers are meant to be reprobate and lost, no matter how happy and satisified many of them may seem on the surface, believers are characterized as ignorant, mentally fragile, emotionally needy fools who are stupid no matter how smart and successful they may seem.

These versions of existence are complete and total frauds, often but not always propagated by people whose livelihoods depend on division and alienation, and they must be dismantled. If you want to know how the other half lives, go and find someone over there and ask.

Yes, conversation is a great start. But I also think we need to figure out how to respect each other. I know, I know … how can we respect such clueless idiots on the other side? I guess that is one thing both sides have in common … they think the other side is clueless. Perhaps that's a start?

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