Thursday, March 5, 2009

Discussion with Humble Atheist: on the Nature of Religoius life

From comments left on Meatrock's blog announcing the introduction of atheist watch.

Humble Atheist

I think you have mistaken a plea to reason and freedom of thought with harassment and hatred. I am an atheist and in no way do I condone any acts of hatred.

Is that why the atheists on carm literally called me "scum" because they are just using free thought?

I was an atheist. You can snow a former atheist who found God. you need to open your eyes and look how atheists really are. Go on message boards and pretend to be Christian and see how their "free thought" appears to you then.

Humble Atheist:

On the other hand I think that for any religious person to be offended or angry when someone questions their beliefs is excellent proof of the unstable understanding that person has of their own belief system!

are you not capable of understanding that the issue was personal insults? you can't see the distinction between saying "I don't believe your views" and "you are less intelligent than I am because you hold those views?"

this is typical blindness and arrogance atheists display all the time.

Humble Atheist:

If you were so sure there was a god then you wouldn't be angry when people asked you to prove it,


I"m not. I'm angry because they are so stupid and unfair when proof is presented they can't even admit there's tiny little tininy bit of evidence that just might maybe in some sense be rational under some circumstances.

those words just burn an atheist's through trying to choke them out.

Humble Atheist:
you would be quite willing to explain your reasoning and to show that person why you are the way you are.


"the way" I am? why do you phrase it that way. You are the freak, do you get that? less 3% of the human population.why don't you justify the way you are?

Humble Atheist:

The thing is, the argument of whether or not there is a god has gone on for a long time. The question should not be centered on the fact of whether or not there is a god, it should be on what are the results of a populace that believes or doesn't believe. The answer is that people that believe in god are not free. Most people who believe in god are told what to believe and worse yet rationalize all their actions, more dangerously their immoral actions through the word of god.

Meat: You are more of a misnomer. Arrogant atheist, that is total hog was. Your looking at no facts, just bigotry and lies, and steriotypes. I am free, I am far more free than you are. I am happy, I bet I'm happier than you. I am not nearly as hung as you. I bet you are in horror of personal feeings you are afaird to accept your experinces. you wont bother learn about existentialism becuase you are terribly afraid of "the subjective." I am a lot more free than you are.

You are also totally ignorant of the vast body of studies that show that people with true religious experinces are far more self actualized than those who don't have them.

Humble atheist
Atheists are given the ability to take control of their lives in as far as one is able and they live life unhindered by fear of the rightness of their actions and the end we all are aware will come to each of us. This gives atheists a lot to think about and also the realization that it is unfair and immoral to step in anyone else's way of pursuing happiness in this short lifetime. Atheists follow their conscience, theists follow a written code that they can always find loopholes in. And this provides an incentive for atheists to try and convince religious types to take control of their lives and to think for themselves!!
Meta: that is garbage. a vast body of empirical scietnific studies disprovs this bigotted steroitype that is based upon having no real understanding of rleigous experince. Obviously you are a victim of the hate group ideology. You are blind to your own motivatations.

Humble atheist:
I would hope that you will find the inner strength to do the same.

Meta: you don't know jack shit about inner strength. following Jesus is about inner strength you don't even have any.

Religion and Happiness

by Michael E. Nielsen, PhD

Many people expect religion to bring them happiness. Does this actually seem to be the case? Are religious people happier than nonreligious people? And if so, why might this be?

Researchers have been intrigued by such questions. Most studies have simply asked people how happy they are, although studies also may use scales that try to measure happiness more subtly than that. In general, researchers who have a large sample of people in their study tend to limit their measurement of happiness to just one or two questions, and researchers who have fewer numbers of people use several items or scales to measure happiness.

What do they find? In a nutshell, they find that people who are involved in religion also report greater levels of happiness than do those who are not religious. For example, one study involved over 160,000 people in Europe. Among weekly churchgoers, 85% reported being "very satisfied" with life, but this number reduced to 77% among those who never went to church (Inglehart, 1990). This kind of pattern is typical -- religious involvement is associated with modest increases in happiness
Long-Term Positive Effects of Mystical Experience

Research Summary

From Council on Spiritual Practices Website

"States of Univtive Consciousness"

Also called Transcendent Experiences, Ego-Transcendence, Intense Religious Experience, Peak Experiences, Mystical Experiences, Cosmic Consciousness. Sources:

Wuthnow, Robert (1978). "Peak Experiences: Some Empirical Tests." Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 18 (3), 59-75.

Noble, Kathleen D. (1987). ``Psychological Health and the Experience of Transcendence.'' The Counseling Psychologist, 15 (4), 601-614.
Lukoff, David & Francis G. Lu (1988). ``Transpersonal psychology research review: Topic: Mystical experiences.'' Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 20 (2), 161-184.

Roger Walsh (1980). The consciousness disciplines and the behavioral sciences: Questions of comparison and assessment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 137(6), 663-673.

Lester Grinspoon and James Bakalar (1983). ``Psychedelic Drugs in Psychiatry'' in Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered, New York: Basic Books.

Furthermore, Greeley found no evidence to support the orthodox belief that frequent mystic experiences or psychic experiences stem from deprivation or psychopathology. His ''mystics'' were generally better educated, more successful economically, and less racist, and they were rated substantially happier on measures of psychological well-being. (Charles T. Tart, Psi: Scientific Studies of the Psychic Realm, p. 19.)

Long-Term Effects


*Say their lives are more meaningful,
*think about meaning and purpose
*Know what purpose of life is
Meditate more
*Score higher on self-rated personal talents and capabilities
*Less likely to value material possessions, high pay, job security, fame, and having lots of friends
*Greater value on work for social change, solving social problems, helping needy
*Reflective, inner-directed, self-aware, self-confident life style


*Experience more productive of psychological health than illness
*Less authoritarian and dogmatic
*More assertive, imaginative, self-sufficient
*intelligent, relaxed
*High ego strength,
*relationships, symbolization, values,
*integration, allocentrism,
*psychological maturity,
*self-acceptance, self-worth,
*autonomy, authenticity, need for solitude,
*increased love and compassion

Short-Term Effects (usually people who did not previously know of these experiences)

*Experience temporarily disorienting, alarming, disruptive
*Likely changes in self and the world,
*space and time, emotional attitudes, cognitive styles, personalities, doubt sanity and reluctance to communicate, feel ordinary language is inadequate

*Some individuals report psychic capacities and visionary experience destabilizing relationships with family and friends Withdrawal, isolation, confusion, insecurity, self-doubt, depression, anxiety, panic, restlessness, grandiose religious delusions

Links to Maslow's Needs, Mental Health, and Peak Experiences When introducing entheogens to people, I find it's helpful to link them to other ideas people are familiar with. Here are three useful quotations. 1) Maslow - Beyond Self Actualization is Self Transcendence ``I should say that I consider Humanistic, Third Force Psychology to be transitional, a preparation for a still `higher' Fourth Psychology, transhuman, centered in the cosmos rather than in human needs and interest, going beyond humanness, identity, selfactualization and the like.''

Abraham Maslow (1968). Toward a Psychology of Being, Second edition, -- pages iii-iv.

Argyle, M., and Hills, P. (2000). Religious experiences and their relations with happiness and personality. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 10, 157-172.

Inglehart, R. (1990). Culture shift in advanced industrial society. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Pahnke, W. H. (1966). Drugs and mysticism. International Journal of Parapsychology, 8, 295-314.

300 empirical studies prove value of religion!

Religion is the most powerful Factor in well being.

Poloma and Pendelton The Faith Factor: An Annotated Bibliography of Systematic Reviews And Clinical Research on Spiritual Subjects Vol. II, David B. Larson M.D., Natiional Institute for Health Research Dec. 1993, p. 3290.


"The authors found that religious satisfaction was the most powerful predicter of existential well being. The degree to which an individual felt close to God was the most important factor in terms of existential well-being. While frequency of prayer contributed to general life satisfaction and personal happiness. As a result of their study the authors concluded that it would be important to look at a combindation of religious items, including prayer, religionship with God, and other measures of religious experince to begin to adequately clearlify the associations of religious committment with general well-being."

psychotheraputic discipline re-evalutes Frued's criticism of religion



"Nowadays there are many who do not agree with the notion that religious behavior a priori implies a neurotic state to be decoded and eliminated by analysis (exorcism). That reductionism based on the first works by Freud is currently under review. The psychotherapist should be limited to observing the uses their clients make of the representations of the image of God in their subjective world, that is, the uses of the function of omnipotence. Among the several authors that subscribe to this position are Odilon de Mello Franco (12), .... W. R. Bion (2), one of the most notable contemporary psychoanalysts, ..."

[sources sited by Amaro BION, W. R. Atenção e interpretação (Attention and interpretation). Rio de Janeiro: Imago, 1973.

MELLO FRANCO, O. de. Religious experience and psychoanalysis: from man-as-god to man-with-god. Int. J. of Psychoanalysis (1998) 79,]

c) This relationship is so strong it led to the creation of a whole discipline in psychology; transactionalism

Neilson on Maslow


"One outgrowth of Maslow's work is what has become known as Transpersonal Psychology, in which the focus is on the spiritual well-being of individuals, and values are advocated steadfastly. Transpersonal psychologists seek to blend Eastern religion (Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.) or Western (Christian, Jewish or Moslem) mysticism with a form of modern psychology. Frequently, the transpersonal psychologist rejects psychology's adoption of various scientific methods used in the natural sciences."
"The influence of the transpersonal movement remains small, but there is evidence that it is growing. I suspect that most psychologists would agree with Maslow that much of psychology -- including the psychology of religion -- needs an improved theoretical foundation."

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