Hi Everyone. I am not out here to prove Christianity. Lord knows I really can't do that and I'd be a fool to try.
I just know it does me and my own a world of good.
I come from a little town outside Little Rock, Arkansas.
The Church is indispensible to community life here. Every sunday we go to hear the pastor speak and preach the word of God.
Whether he is thundering about Genesis, Ecclesiastes, the Gospel of John or other books of the bible, it does everyone such good to listen to him and hear those words.
Also, at our parish, Rivercreek Baptist, we have a sense of values, community, and cohesivness. In our community we are taught the importance of courtesy, chastity, temperence and decency.
Im not out to accuse you atheist of being bad people, but I wonder what other venue can provide those family friendly, old time values that I speak of.
I mean there is such community life and culture that comes from belonging to a church. What does atheism have to offer in those terms?
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Here is the problem with religion and its version of community: In Theism, community means "believe as I believe and do as I do." Community means, "teach about my god because it stands for freedom, but do not teach about any other god." Community means, "my way is the right way and all other ways are EVIL." Cohesiveness is the glue of bigotry and prejudice. Now, with that said, we can not color individual Christians with the broad brush. Not all Christians hate homosexuals, or hate the act not the person (a bullshit position). Not all Churches view atheism as a threat when all the atheists are doing is asking them to substantiate their claims. Not all Churches pretend there are no contradictions in the bible when the contradictions are obvious and the Biblical God is a complete asshole.
Fact is, there are some substantiated benefits to religiosity. Religious people tend to live longer. "For example, researchers at the Mayo Clinic concluded, “Most studies have shown that religious involvement and spirituality are associated with better health outcomes, including greater longevity, coping skills, and health-related quality of life (even during terminal illness) and less anxiety, depression, and suicide.
You will not find Atheists disagreeing with substantiated facts. Look at the study I have cited. Obviously Religion is doing some good.
"Several studies have shown that addressing the spiritual needs of the patient may enhance recovery from illness.” This is an outright lie. What is a spirit. How do you address spiritual needs. NOTHING IN THIS COMPONENT OF WHAT HAS BEEN SAID COULD POSSIBLY BE OPE RATIONALIZED. We know for a fact that intercessory prayer makes terminal cancer patients do worse in their recovery. PEW RESEARCH study.
If you stick to the facts, You will have no issue at all with Atheists.
Nothing; as it is not an organization.
I wonder what other 'values' are taught? Is intolerance to the LGBTQ community? To the Jewish Community? To Catholics?
I wonder what "value" you put on 'chastity'? And why?
I wonder what happens to a poor girl who gets impregnated by the scion of a stalwart of the Church? Will she be ostracised, shamed and shunned while the young privilege swaggers into church after having been 'counselled' for being tempted by the 'devil", repented and forgiven?
I have seen the "Old Timey" religious values at first hand in many communities, not all christian. There is always a dark side.
I belong to several organisations. None of them religious, all of them welcoming to all faiths, colors and creeds. We don't have a preacher but do have community and volunteer activities, a sense of community and value each other as humans. We don't exalt chastity, don't know what 'sin is' as an organisation, but do recognise good works and an honest person.
You do not need religion and a paid pastor to do good things and be a good person in your community.
All values are human values. Everything you hear in church is from the imaginations of people. Christians do not own morality, purpose, or value.
Community, friendship and fellowship etc. are fine, OldTimeValues, but is the religion itself based on truth, or is it at root derived from an illusion, or worse, is it delusional? If theism / religion is false, then let's acknowledge that. If that acknowledgement makes life less comfortable, or causes one to have to re-organise one's thoughts, beliefs and social outlets, then get on with the task of handling reality, and doing the thinking necessary to live in the world as it is, without the religion.
I see no reason why the things which one might benefit from, by being in a religion, cannot be had also, without religion. And if accepting the idea that the religion is based on a falsehood, then accepting THAT, is the most accurate, reality-based and honest thing to do.
@OldTimeValues: Lord knows I really can't do that
No. He doesn't know. He's too busy not existing.
There are two types of communities. Those in which people make themselves feel good by welcoming and helping each other, and those in which people make themselves feel good by being exclusive and putting outsiders down.
I'd judge the quality of your community on how welcoming and inclusive you are to people who don't fit into your religious and social norms. The Jesus character in your book went out of his way to help outcasts, such as Samaritans, prostitutes, and lepers. Does your church go far enough down that path to accept LGBT people, blacks, Asians, Hispanics, etc., into your community? Can an atheist join your flock? Do you have "strange fruit" in your church, or are they just hanging outside in the trees? Are there any Christians in your church?
Howdy. Welcome to the AR. Please allow me to start by saying I was born and raised in a Christian household (Baptist and Methodist). Grew up in a small town Christian community in the deep South. Needless to say, God was simply an accepted part of life by pretty much everybody I knew. And, more to the point, God was pretty much ALL everybody knew, if you know what I mean. Granted, I knew (and still know) quite a few Christian folks who are the nicest people you would ever want to meet, regardless of whatever other religion or lifestyle one might have. Sadly, though, they were the exceptions to the rule. For the most part, a vast majority of the Christians that surrounded me during my youth were of the mindset of, "If they don't go by the Holy Bible, then they ain't worth pissin' on." And anybody in my community who dared to voice an alternate opinion or live a lifestyle of their own were automatically treated as outcasts and given a "sideways" look whenever passed in public.
Personally, I was raised to be nice and polite to everybody, but there were "certain types of people" that I should avoid whenever possible. Because those "other types of people" were not following God's way and were doomed to go to hell. Therefore, do not dare be friends with them or be seen socializing with them, else you would be labeled the same. (And just to be clear, we are talking about homosexuals, those of a Pagan nature, and/or any other lifestyle that was deemed as being "non-Christian".) So, yeah, the spirit and sense of community and cohesiveness was fantastic..... as long as you were part of the "in-group". For those who didn't share those same "biblical values", however, it was basically, "Well, it is their own choice to live in sin."
Now, let's fast forward a few years. I'm an adult out on my own. Making my own life. Meeting many new and fascinating people outside of the tiny little town in which I was raised. And guess what... Many of those fascinating people were not Christians. Worked with and became friends with quite a few of them. Yet, no matter how much I liked them or how interesting I thought they were, there was ALWAYS that nagging little voice in the back of my head telling me it was wrong for me to socialize with them. ALWAYS that tiny annoying feeling of doubt and discomfort in being associated with them, because my religious indoctrination had pounded into my head that it was wrong for me to be friends with such folks, no matter how good they were as people. To say the least, that kind of crap can really wear on one's brain after awhile.
Well, thankfully, I was finally able to fully escape the suffocating bonds of my religious indoctrination within the last couple of years. And you know what?... That annoying little pain in the ass voice of doubt has not bothered me since then. Matter of fact, my wife is Pagan, and we have several Pagan friends of many different lifestyles and sexual orientations. And we all get along with anybody and everybody regardless of whatever religious or non-religious beliefs they may hold. Regardless of race, sexual preference, gender, or any other such identification(s) that would generally exclude an individual from most "Christian gatherings." And it has been the best couple of years of my life so far in regards to having a clear conscious and being able to show true friendship and feelings to my friends without the nagging feeling of guilt in the back of my head.
So, with that in mind, I am aware that you are proud of your church and community and how you are all there for each other. And I agree that it is important to have that type of support system in place for most people. But, from my personal experiences, those little "cliques" brought together under the revival tent of the Christian faith are incredibly biased and tend to breed an antagonistic view toward those who do not follow along the same path. And ever since I "escaped" Christianity, I see that more and more clearly now than I ever had before.
@OldTimeValues Re: " In our community we are taught the importance of courtesy, chastity, temperence and decency."
Ummmm... Just out of curiosity, would you be so kind as to elaborate a bit on the whole "importance of chastity"? I prefer not to make any assumptions on that prior to responding.
So far in your writings you only shown that it is possibly indispensable to you, and also other people in your community that go to your particular church.
I do agree however, that yes, one possible benefit of church is community and maybe respecting your neighbor (with conditions!)
I actually think we need to discard old time values. I consider old time values a bad thing. Human technology is moving at such a rapid pace, that doing what worked in the past, will very likely not serve you well for today. Sure learn from past mistakes, but we need to be moving as fast as we can to adapt just to keep up with our pace of innovation.
Mankind tools have grown so powerful they can actually severely damage or even destroy the entire surface of this planet, of which all 7.7+ billion of us humans completely rely upon.
Most religion/god ideas create an idea that thinks there some sort of god that cares about us, and will make sure it all turns out okay as long as you are devout to said god idea/religion. All this to me. is a roadblock for us responding to the issues our technology and handling the responsibility great power creates.
We should be transitioning away from fossil fuels as fast as we possibly can, not driving to church on sunday and praying to a "sky daddy" to fix the problems and include people in its grand, (very human like!) "plan."
I also think it is highly dangerous to act upon ideas that are not evidenced. And I have yet to hear/see of a god/religion idea that was even a tiny bit evidenced, even after 1000's of years of trying.
@OldTimeValues: SEE! I told you. As long as you stick to what is verifiable or true, you will not get disagreement from Atheists. Put one toe over that line and we will chop it off. Just don't be dishonest. While there are some benefits to community (Community is what we are actually discussing and not "Religious Beliefs") there are also negative consequences. This would be likely true for a community of atheists that agreed on some sort of rule set or dogma as well. Currently, we have no such groups I am aware of; however, should they occur, I will be the first to point out they are doing the same thing the Christians are doing. HEY! I'm even responding to a thread like that right now!
edit, answered better by others
Do your values contradict laws in the bible that are supposedly set by your deity? For instance do you think slavery is moral as the bible claims or immoral? Do you think gay people are an abomination as the bible claims?
I don't doubt that many people like yourself draw succour and comfort from their beliefs and church, but those beliefs come with a lot of baggage, some of it deeply pernicious. If you're a decent person despite some of the appalling doctrine and dogma of your religion, then why do you need it to help others?
There are many secular democracies whose people research shows are at least as happy, content, fulfilled and moral, in societies that have very low instances of violent crime as any religious societies. Whilst some hang on to their religious traditions as a comfort, they have come to disbelieve the religious claims behind them.
I'm reminded here of a quote from the late author and polemicist, Christopher Hitchens.
"Many religions now come before us with ingratiating smirks and outspread hands, like an unctuous merchant in a bazaar. They offer consolation and solidarity and uplift, competing as they do in a marketplace. But we have a right to remember how barbarically they behaved when they were strong and were making an offer that people could not refuse."
I'm not keen to bestow power in the hands of organised superstition, not least because it has so often done harm, but also because it is harmful to deny objective reality in favour of superstitious myths, like the creationist propaganda movement for example.
Welcome to AR anyway.
One of god's perfect little communities? One that practiced slavery a little over a hundred and fifty years ago? Slavers used the bible to justify their trade, and no doubt your little god-fearing community also practiced slavery. The one and only reason why your community does not practice slavery today is that external forces abolished this cruel act.
That was an old time value, and that reeked of evil.
Within your closed circle of friends and acquaintances you actually believe your shit doesn't stink, but go ask descendants of slaves to really get an honest opinion on your community.
One does not have to believe the lie of a god to have a harmonious community with ethics and a sense of community. OldTimeValues, you need to get out and see the world, you need to take a trip to some Scandinavian community.
Finland has a population of 5.5 million people yet a crime rate of 85 homicides in 2018. Alabama is slightly smaller with a population of 4.9 million, yet suffered from 357 murders. Finland has a lot less theists than Alabama.
"Finland has a population of 5.5 million people yet a crime rate of 85 homicides in 2018. Alabama is slightly smaller with a population of 4.9 million, yet suffered from 357 murders"
Of course it might be due to other factors as well.. Finland (as are some other fairly low crime cultures, Japan, Korea, for example) are essentially mono cultures. The people are more aligned together culturally, as well as genetically.
New Zealand is demographically mixed, with a white (British) majority and substantial Maori, Pacific Island, and Asian minorities. With a population of 4.8 mil. its murder rate in 2017 was 35. The number per million has fallen from 15 in 2000 to 7 in 2017.
(There will be a big spike in 2019 because of the Christchurch mosque massacre.)
Interestingly, the percentage of "no religion" responses in the 5-yearly census has increased from 20.2% in 1991 to 48.2% in 2018.
So religion is falling and murder is falling. Are these two trends are linked? I don't know.
RE: OP - Well it seems that the atheists are now going to let you know all that is Wrong with your religious community. WARNING Don't challenge any of them on the FACTS. As much good as you think there is, you will be decimated in any sort of debate regarding the "goodness" of religion.
I would argue that is speaks volumes about the nature of the people who attend.
You seriously need a church, a book etc... in order to be moral? To be good? To be kind? Etc...
These are values that should be engrained by any human, to palm it off to being because of your religious community, does a disservice to your very self.
So either you are not very nice people and require constant lectures by your pastor, or you are already good people and your church essentially takes all the plaudits... I do you the service in assuming it's the latter.
How hard is it to compare a world where we share empathy for the suffering of others, and all have the same rights, to a world where we run around raping, stealing and killing at will, and see which world is demonstrably a better one?
For the theists they should note, if their unevidenced superstition is true, then their deity doesn't care and just wants to tally up the winners and losers at the end based on vague contradictory rules set out by bronze age goat herders and desert Bedouins. Rules that endorse rape, and murder, as well as slavery, genocide, ethnic cleansing, infanticide, human sacrifice, slavery and sex trafficking virginal women and girls as spoils of conflict, to name but a few.
It's also worth realising that deity would have created a world with ubiquitous and unimaginable suffering, entirely independent of any human action.
Take comfort from being decent to others, and insist they are decent towards you. All else is folly...
Despite being a cynical bastard I confess while readng the 0P I could hear the familiar friendly drawl of Jimmy Stewart.
Anyway having read about the congregation of the Rivercreek Bapist church outside Little Rock I took to Google earth to find it. I am a keen cartologist. I have collections of maps from both world wars and have spent hours using Google earth to locate specific battle sites. I did the same for the city of Lubbock, Texas when an online correspondent named it his hometown.
Around Little Rock I swear I dont recall ever seeing so many Baptists churches all crowded around one city snd most are huge brick structures with dedicated parking for hundreds of cars.
But I have failed to find any reference to Rivercreek anything. No town, road, or church.
I might be wrong but I sense a sock.
And this is a great example about the problem of asking for evidence/proof of a negative. Imagine if there was a dispute that the place is real. There would be nothing you could do to show that it isn't real; as any failure on your part to find the place, can just be dismissed by suggesting you didn't try hard enough. The rational way to establish its existence would be from someone to tell us where to find it; the irrational way is to demand the skeptics prove it isn't real.
Concur. I thought to look it up but you have the right of it. No reference to River Creek or Rivercreek Baptist anywhere. Not a registered church in the Convention, not a town of that name....
But then again are we not used to theists having severe trouble with the truth in any shape or form?
@Nyar & Old Man
Truth is, the OP sounded too much like Jimmy Stewart. Land sakes and tarnation!
I suppose the continual supply of trolls here at AR has honed my bullshit detector to razor sharpness.
Then again if we were to imagine a town that was greater in old time values than any other, then theists would have us believe there must be a town even greater in old time values that we can imagine that exists in reality and why wouldnt it be called Rivercreek?
I wonder where it would be?
Not in my neighbourhood!
i am convinced that religion is a byproduct of human evolution.
It is virtually universal in most every society so it would certainly seem to have a survival function (You do not need to believe in gods, which are in themselves NOT cross cultural, to realize there is a function here)
I see two possible functions. One is cultural coordination. Societies that had a fairly stable set of beliefs and lifestyle would have a survival advantage over those that were wildly disparate. Being the animals with the most complex societies on the planet we also benefit from the stability of a shared mindset. When there is a big disaster and people do these public prayer type events, I certainly have no interest in joining, but I don't mock them either. It's a group coping mechanism, part of our human social instincts. And seeing it that way, even as an outsider, I understand what they are doing.
The second point, which also has nothing to do with whether any god is real or not, is centuries of human experience that have been embedded in lifestyle rules of successful religions. I don't think ethical rules about incest, theft, adultery, murder, etc were dictated by gods, but they were created over the centuries of human experience. Societies which successfully practiced these had less infighting, less jealousy, fewer uncared for children etc. Atheism is an important philosophical tool, but not necessarily a cure for the problems of religion. (And with communism and socialism, we atheists sure have our own skeletons to be aware of)
It may be popular to look at many of these traditional rules and claim they are old fashioned and out of date, but there is a lot of truth to the old saying "don't tear down a fence until you understand why it was put up". Today I feel there is simply too much tearing down of social (and sexual) norms simply for the goal of being 'modern' (the 'woke' crowd particularly seems obsessed with trashing any cultural values others may have). This will not end well. The world may be changing technologically, but human nature is not.
When I was young, and watched 'Fiddler on the Roof', and favored the 'breaking of tradition'. Now that I'm older, I see this in a very different way.
Not sure if communism and socialism is a product of, or even really has anything to do with atheist.
Perhaps I am biased, but I do not think atheist have any "skeletons in their closet" many atheist are highly skeptical, and practising skepticism in a relentless hunt for truth oftentimes filters out activity that might be considered "skeletons in the closet" But I am sure some atheist somewhere do have skeletons in the closet, but I doubt most of them have anything to do with the atheist standpoint.
I do agree that simply tearing down and trashing old values just for the sake of tearing them down is a bad way of doing things. But that is not the only thing that is happening here. I also think, we MUST break away from some norms, religion being one of them. Human created technology has grown so powerful, we can actually damage our thin surface/atmosphere of the planet. And a lot of the old way of thinking when we had a population less then a billion, and huge tracts of yet unexplored and unsettled lands.
But then I actually think capitalism is more damaging then religion, but the two of them together? Ouch, going as we are going, the future is looking very grim for the human race, (and just about all other complex life that lives on the surface of the planet.) I only hope that science can save us, before our base human nature tendencies doom us all.
First of all, I don't find all those things you mention that your church has to offer: "values, community, and cohesiveness. In our community we are taught the importance of courtesy, chastity, temperance and decency", to be that good. Chastity for example, is pretty useless. And even though I do not drink, there is nothing wrong with it, as long as it doesn't become a problem.
Courtesy, decency, community, cohesiveness, can be fine things, except if the community and cohesiveness excludes "outgroups". Groups that don't share your religion, for example. Church communities feel great for the ingroup.
You seem to think your church is inclusive and supports the members, but would you accept a same sex married couple? You live in a small town in the US in the Bible Belt. I'll bet the vast majority of the population of your town have the same beliefs as you do. It's easy to feel a great sense of community when you are in the privileged position of knowing that everyone around you has the same beliefs. How much community would a Hindu family feel if they moved to your town?
But to answer your other question: "What does atheism have to offer in those terms?"
The answer is nothing. And that's not a bad thing. Atheism is only a position on a single question, are you convinced that a god or gods exist? Atheists are simply people that aren't convinced that a god(s) exist. Full stop.
We get our sense of community in other ways, that may or may not be related to our atheism. For example, I live in Southern California and I surf several times a week. I have a close group of friends that I surf with on a regular basis (most of them Christian by the way). I would do just about anything if one of my friends needed help, and they would do the same for me. Along with other people out in the water that I am also friendly with, forms one of my communities.
Ah yes, those old time values that work well for straight, cis, white men, and then tell people like me I should die.
Your church here in America helps churches in Uganda execute people like me
But I'm so glad you have good old family values every Sunday morning
@Mikael Re: "Ah yes, those old time values that work well for straight, cis, white men, and then tell people like me I should die.
Your church here in America helps churches in Uganda execute people like me
But I'm so glad you have good old family values every Sunday morning"
...*standing on top of table applauding like a madman*..... Hell yeah!... Tell 'im, Mikey!... *applauding continues*...
Yeah, but OldTimeValues gets his morality from a god he admits he has no rational reasons to believe exists.
The same 'god' that slaughters several tribes (including all their animals) then tells his 'chosen people' to keep the virgins as spoils of battle, who condones slavery (with rules on who to buy, to pass them to your children as property, how much to sell your daughter for, how to beat them without getting punished), who will punish us atheists for eternity for a finite thought crime, the same god that has rules to subjugate women and kill homosexuals.
Yeah, those are some real 'Old Time Values' alright.
I've said it before, the worst possible universe I could imagine, is one where the Abrahamic god actually existed.,.