Confessions of a recovering atheist. I used to call myself an Atheist, because I don't believe in an anthropomorphic (humanized) "God". But most of the atheists I heard talking or writing, were kind of douche's, so I was almost embarrassed to be associated with them. Plus there's always doubt: we don't know what's out there beyond our comprehension, so being too definitive is being close minded. I think it's highly unlikely there's a temperamental deity out there who cares where I put my penis or how I often I gratify myself, but the idea that our reality or existence was tampered with seems reasonably likely. So I had to put so much prefacing or qualifications in my atheism, that it became easier to say, "I'm agnostic".
I joke that Atheism is the idea that first their was nothing, then it blew up. Of course that's a little simplistic. But in the end while I'm an atheist, in that I don't believe there's an anthropomorphized and temperamental God of the Old Testament, or really any Gods that we would recognize. I also believe there's lots of things that we don't understand, and never will. And I part from the atheists in that I believe in giving others enough room to have whatever beliefs they want without thinking any less of them. Quite the opposite, I respect the hell out of people that have a belief system and try to live up to those standards. I also have no problem at all with prayer in school, going to church, hanging out with Religious folks, and trying to live my life as a good Christian. (It's still a damn good book/philosophy and code of conduct).
I'm a fairly well read atheist, who was baptized Catholic, raised mostly Christian (with different sectual overtones), my father is Muslim, and I went to private religious schools in elementary school and College, and who has had many religious friends and influences. I have read the Bible a few times, but also read information about the Bible and its origins, and I enjoy discussing these subjects with people far more educated than myself. These are my opinions on the history and origins of the Bible, not to malign others views -- just because I get a certain peace and closure out of writing my thoughts down.
Buddhism: always working towards Enlightenment. Buddhism is based on one mans enlightenment, Buddha. The philosophy originated in India, but traveled to China, Japan and influenced much of the Orient. Many cultures have a mythology that goes along with the tales of their ancients, and Buddha is no exception, there is a lot of mythology associated with his life. But in the end, the ideas that stick are that of a human learn peace, self-discovery and enlightenment through meditation.
There is a true story about some South Asian Islanders (Melanesians) that sort of sums up a lot of human behavior for me. During WWII, Americans used small islands as airbases to launch various attacks against the Japanese (and vise versa). When they war ended, they left. Later, someone went back, and found that on one of the islands the landing strips hadn't grown over. And when they got there, they found that decades later the natives had built a whole religion around the airbase. They had made mock-up planes out of straw and bamboo, had kept the strips clean, and had various relics and artifacts that they used in their rituals.
When the westerners talked to the natives they learned that the natives were trying to lure back the planes; because the planes held mana from the Gods, called "Cargo". Cargo was all sorts of magical things that the islanders didn't have or understand, but they wanted. They didn't know who the men were that tended to the planes or who were the priests of this Cargo, but they knew that if they mimicked them, that maybe they could lure the planes and Cargo back. The Cargo-cult, as they were named, built a religion around things that they didn't understand and on the fables of the people that had been there but couldn't accurately describe what they had seen. (I don't know enough about other attributes about the Melanesians to know how to score them on all the other aspects -- but as they were the opposite of hateful of outsiders, I don't think they would actually score very high at all).
I've always felt the Cargo Cult, and other religions were the exact same thing; Mans need to describe things that are beyond his comprehension.
Quick, name a few "Christian Terrorists". If you try, you'll probably be wrong. Over the years, I've asked and researched, and never found one. Not that some weren't Christians, but I haven't found one that screamed, "God is love", as they blew themselves up, or scant few that committed crimes because the Bible told them drive a truck over people, or to kill as many Mulsims as they could. Can you imagine Christian extremists (like the Amish), riding their buggy bomb into building? It just doesn't happen. That's not to claim that everyone who is a christian is a saint, it's just called perspective.
This section is to discuss one of the most persecuted minorities in the world: Christians. Of course, that's a bit overstated, as they have wide swaths of the country and world where they are not looked down on nor condescended to. But in Urban and especially Liberal areas (California, NY, etc), or leftist countries, they're often treated like superstitious ignoramuses. And in much of the world, they are openly persecuted (especially smaller sects of Christianity like Jehovah's witnesses, LDS, and so on). So while I don't mind an introspective media willing to navel gaze on our own REAL problems, I do have a problem with selective blindness, that tries to defend the intersectionally oppressed (in a county where say Muslims have the most freedom in the world), while ignoring real persecutions going on wherever Muslims or Socialists (Collectivists) gain control. These is just some examples of the problem.
Confucianism was best summed up by Rodney King, "can't we all just get along?" With way too many people in close quarters, a religion about how to get along was bound to spring up. Confucius was a man, alive from 551-479 BC. One of the major concepts of Confucianism is li, which translates roughly as propriety, order, and courtesy, and is often expressed through ritual and ceremony. Li is basically the laws by which we are governed.
Because I have a reasoned view of immigration, some have called me a xenophobic racist, showing they don't know what either word means, and aren't listening to what I actually think (or are missing the nuances of life).
I love immigrants. I am one. Well, 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation immigrant. (Iranian Dad on one side, Italian Grandma and German Great Grandparents on the other), raised mostly by a British Step-Dad. Many of my friends (now and growing up) and coworkers today (and historically) have been immigrants as well. I've dated immigrants, I taught immigrants, and I hang with immigrants. I love variants in culture, language, food, and people. So if you think I'm against immigrants, you're a moron.That being said, if you think all immigrants are equal, and we should have open borders, your reading comprehension needs work. (I say that because lots of people will read the following, and then claim I'm anti-immigrant.
First you need to understand the History of Israel and Palestine. Once you do that, you can loop back around and understand why Iraq had nothing to do with either. Yes, Arabs think it's a great injustice that they can't murder all the Jews and drive them into the sea. But they're a feudal tribalistic culture, so the problem isn't with Israel wanting to exist, it's with those that want to kill them and refuse to see anything they do as wrong.
Islam is a monotheistic Judeo-Christian sect (broken into one of two denominations; Sunni (85–90%) or Shia (10–15%)), which teaches the following: This 2nd largest religion was created in the 7th century in Mecca, by Mohamed sharing his visions in the form of the Quran. There is no god but God. Muhammad is the messenger of God (as was Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus). That quote is called the creed (Shahada) and takes on spiritual meaning as one of the 5 pillars of Islam (the creed, daily prayers, alms, fasting, pilgrimage). Following Islamic law (sharia) touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, from banking and welfare to women and the environment: there is no separation between church, state, and law. Islam believes in social justice, and a hierarchy where: other Muslims are better than the other Abrahamic religions, which are much better than pagans or atheists. Islam replaced tribalism with Religionism: God, Family, Other Muslims, Country, Infidels. God is merciful, all-powerful, and has guided humankind through prophets, revealed scriptures and natural signs, as well as intervention in all outcomes (God is far more "involved" in day-to-day than Judeo/Christian flavors of God). Which is a source of frustration (God's anger) since Islam has gone down hill since the 10th century which to some, shows that they are not being pious/Godly enough: resentful fallen empire chip-on-their-shoulder.
I'm not a cunning linguist, nor a middle eastern expert -- but my Dad is Iranian and Muslim, as is 1/2 my family, and being "not from here" means I've been more observant of different cultures than most. Just like when you say "Fuck you", it rarely means want to copulate with them, when middle easterners say some phrases like "Death to America", or "God is good" (Allahu Ahbar), it probably shouldn't be literally translated either.
"Muslims aren't capable of a successful democracy". People said the same thing about democracy in America or Europe before is succeeded there too.
I think the elections proved the myopia of those saying that you can't do Democracy in the Middle East. The truth is Turkey, many Asian muslim nations, and now Afghanistan and Iraq are now democracies, with some thanks belonging to the U.S. and our policies. People that said it would never succeed said the same things about Russians, Asians, Africans and others.
The Media and the FBI completely misled the public on what happened with Pulse Nightclub shooting (50 deaths) and Omar Mateen. Virtually everything the media lead the public to believe was wrong.
Media narrative: Didn't mention islamic terrorism, Mateen did a hate crime when he chose a gay nightclub because of either homosexual or homophobic tendencies. He went with an AR-15 and was just another right wing intolerant radical.
Facts: the FBI lied to the court and pressured his low-IQ wife (Salman) to sign a false confession. Mateen was a registered democrat, his dad was an FBI informant for 15 years, the FBI had investigated him twice for making terrorist threats, but they didn't want to jeopardize their relationship with his dad. He Pulse based on low security (it being a gun-free zone), not anti-Gay agenda. While on the phone with the FBI he said multiple times this was about Islamic Extremism and the U.S. policy against Islam (wars in Iraq and Syria). He didn't use an AR-15 but a MCX (totally different gun). And one of the reasons why so many people died, was because it took the police 2 hours and 30 minutes to take him out, while people bled to death.
Radical Islamic Terrorism is a phrase that many on the left can't seem to speak. Obama couldn't even use it, when someone would shoot up a gay bar or shooting up a community center while yelling Allahu Akbar, or telling the cops they were doing this of Islam. The dimwitted myopia of over-sensitivity doesn't help, it polarizes.
Never let an opportunity go to waste: the politicians and media prey on this tragedy, knowing it will be fodder to copycats. But lives of those sacrificed aren't as important as the agenda. Hey, if you want to let democrats make an omelet, they're going to break some eggs. Just remember, you, your friends, your family, and the truth, are the eggs.
The First Amendment reads in part, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;".
At the time, this was pretty clearly meant that there would be no single Federal Church (like the Church of England), and that the Federal Government would be forbidden from interfering with the States and communities enforcing whatever religion they wanted. What it did not mean is that there would be a clear separation of Church and State or Local Government -- just strictly the Federal Government could not put one religion above the others. The Founding Fathers would have been appalled that anyone would use the 1A to restrict religious practices, in school or anywhere else for that matter. A decade later, Jefferson had wrote the line called "the Separation Clause" in a private letter, but even that didn't mean what progressives later pretended: at the time of the writing, and long after, States had official religions, Prayers were done in Congress and Courts, and no one had problems with prayers in School. In fact, the government's first Holiday was Thanksgiving whose purpose was specifically required "...shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God."
So you can argue that you WANT the Separation of Church and state, or that a few rulings over the years by the Supreme's help reinforce that. As long as you're not dishonest enough to imply that was the Original Intent, which is most certainly was not.
Shintoism is the Japanese religion that believes in millions of spirits (Kami) in all things. These spirits are good and bad, more powerful or weak, flawed or not. Because no "founder" of Shinto and there is no supreme book or reference, this makes shinto very adaptable.
The 'Tao' is an indescribable abstract. Since I enjoy a challenge, I'll try to describe it. Taoism is a philosophy of harmony and balance with nature and self. The word 'Tao' means path, road or way. It can be interpreted as method, principle or doctrine. The 'path' is the harmony and orderliness of the universe, it is this manifestation of 'Tao' that is the "natural order" or "heaven on earth". A person need not strive to achieve the Tao, one just yields to the natural forces and follows the path of nature and Taoism.
As an overgeneralization: the middle east (and Islam) as a culture are more tribalistic than Western (or Eastern) religions, this is magnified in expats where they're a minority in a country. They have less interest in integrating than many other groups, as they see their separation as respectful of God -- and they see that those in their religion should be treated different than those outside it. Their religion blurs secular interests with political agendas: muslims are SJW's that would love to for Sharia law on everyone else.
People love to focus on how smart we are, and what we know. And that's fine and all. I love what we do know. But to keep one humble, it helps if you remember that there's stuff out there that we don't really know, some we understand what happens but not why it happens, and some stuff we may never really understand. A lot of this is just stuff we can't test, so can't understand. Some is stuff we can test, but still don't understand. The scientific method is great and all, but some things might be bigger than us. I'm OK with that. I'm just not OK with pretending we know things that we really don't.
What is God? Why ask an atheist/agnostic? My short answer is going to be, "No Virginia, there isn't a God"... but my longer answer is more tolerant and agnostic. I believe in the absurd notion that "first there was nothing: then it blew up". With a view like that, I believe I have no room to criticize others beliefs. Science and Religion merge in astrophysics (since you can't run experiments or prove anything). Heck, like 90% of the Universe is supposedly (dark) matter and energy we can't see, hear, touch -- it's just variables that make our equations balance out. So I'm not trying to claim I have the only answer, just an answer that works well enough for me.