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What is better than wasting your time at church? ??

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CMan 5 Sep 30

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You can do better than that.


I don't know if you go up and take communion and scream "It Burns, It Burns." when you do it can be very entertaining.


Literally anything. Eye surgery would be a better use of my time and the recovery process for that involves lying face-down for ages.

I agree. Thanks for the laugh! ?


well, for me, going to a church would be a unique and interesting experience because i have never been a christian. i was in a church for a friend's wedding, and two other churches for two of another friend's weddings, and apart from that i've been in churches as a tourist appreciating architecture or concerts, but i have only been in a church for a service twice: once as a kind of exchange thingie with a baptist friend who came to a synagogue with me (i didn't have one, since i was and am not only nonpracticing but an atheist) and once for a midnight christmas mass (catholic church of course). oh i think i was in a mormon church once, dragged by a college acquaintance. i have to admit that one was a bore: no good music, very boring in every aspect. the other two were at least interesting. so today's being sunday is meaningless to me in terms of religion, churchgoing isn't a religious experience for me because i don't DO religion. i'd be a tourist.



...don’t know if it’s my after-mowing-beer ..but that’s likely the best laugh I’ll have all day (fuckingrass)!

Varn Level 8 Sep 30, 2018



Churches would be good places to meditate if the seats weren't so hard.


Cant I vote for all three?

lerlo Level 8 Sep 30, 2018

Absolutely! ?

@CMan well actually it won't let you but I would of if I could


OK, I have a serious objection to this survey. 😟

You really should have allowed multiple choices as ALL of the choices are better then wasting time at church.

Sorry my mistake! I thought about it after the fact! ?

@CMan You're good.


Concrete was a close second because it changes visibly as it cures, and might need to be troweled or broomed, depending on the application.

After spending half the day mowing grass was hard to vote for it.. But I did 😀


wasting time believing is the caretaker god. That is the worst, I opted out of church since exiting the womb. Never believed in myth and never will.

EMC2 Level 8 Sep 30, 2018

Reforming the church.

skado Level 8 Sep 30, 2018

Ah, a reformer! But is such a thing possible? To truly reform religion is make it something it is not—an organization that claims to have received wisdom from a source that is not of this world, as well as a set of beliefs based on the attitude of faith, that hideous offspring of ignorance and insanity.

“To really reform the church is to destroy it.”
Robert Green Ingersoll

@p-nullifidian Shit, if I may … that was solid stuff. And you had me at “an organization that claims to have received wisdom from a source that is not of this world” More, please ~

The history of religion is a story of constant change, but never in our entire two hundred thousand years of existence has H.sapiens been without some kind of religious behavior. Today, here in the 21st century, still 80% of our numbers claim some kind of religious belief or practice.

Change looks a lot more possible to me than eradication.

For those who are willing to see, the roots of world religion run a lot deeper than its many errors. It's in our DNA. It's not going away. To let the error fester unattended is irresponsible. Reform is long overdue. There is no argument for letting it get worse.

@skado So, where to begin? I'd vote for shaming them back into keeping their faith to themselves ... make it socially unacceptable to call attention to the prayers of your 10-year old daughter when you're bucking for a seat on the Supreme Court, for example. You don't see billboards for Jesus in Scandinavia, and you don't see a lot of European politicians wearing their religions on their sleeve.

And I'm not sure that organized religion's in our DNA ... a sense of awe and wonder, yes, and even the need for a common narrative, but organized religion exploits these apparent wants and needs, making slaves of the hearts and brains it succeeds in recruiting.

I agree with your criticisms of religion, but the thing you’re calling organized religion I’d call corrupt religion. I don’t see that it’s organization per se that’s the main problem. Organizations are admittedly an invitation to corruption, but it’s the corruption part that’s so destructive I think; not the fact of being organized.

So I don’t care if it’s conventionally organized or atomized like most things today: marketing (eBay) news (internet) manufacturing (3D printing) etc.

It’s really the sense of awe, common narrative, etc. that are the rightful (and I think original) focus of a healthy religion.

To me that’s what reform is; throwing out the bad and keeping the good.

Maybe a healthy religion wouldn’t need a central organization in today’s technologized society. Maybe it will be based on the free exchange of ideas on the internet.

In any case, I think the decentralization of religion has already begun but it’s chaotic at this point. Hopefully this time it will organize around values instead of power.

@skado The irony here is that the original Christian church, which began to spread in the late 1st century CE in what is now Turkey, was comprised of small communities expressing a broad range of beliefs, some of which encompassed Eastern philosophies. Paul sought to reign in the ‘misguided’ churches with his visits and letter writing campaigns, but it was Irenaeus who worked tirelessly during much of the 2nd century to identify and wipe out heresy—a new ‘crime’ for the heretofore loosely organized religion.

Once Christianity was endorsed by Emperor Constantine, and the First Council of Nicaea held in 325, the creed, doctrines and hierarchical nature of the religion was formalized, spelling an end to congregational churches, many of which held views such as gender equality, Gnosticism and other heresies. A rebuke of formal doctrines, canonical declarations, patriarchies and deeds above beliefs would be a good start for the dinosaurs that are organized religions.

Yes, they really are dinosaurs (that are apparently unable to die) and the scenario you describe seems to be an unavoidable pattern that periodically calls for radical reform. I like what David Steindl-Rast has to say about that cycle...


@skado Thank you for this article, however I disagree with the author on the role mysticism plays and its inevitability to evolve into a religion. The wisdom of a mystic must be accompanied by a demonstration of power. Once again, I find myself in alignment with a personal hero of mine, Robert Green Ingersoll, who cites the necessity of another ‘m’ word:

“The founder of a religion must be able to turn water into wine -- cure with a word the blind and lame, and raise with a simple touch the dead to life. It was necessary for him to demonstrate to the satisfaction of his barbarian disciple, that he was superior to nature. In times of ignorance this was easy to do. The credulity of the savage was almost boundless. To him the marvelous was the beautiful, the mysterious was the sublime. Consequently, every religion has for its foundation a miracle -- that is to say, a violation of nature -- that is to say, a falsehood."
The Gods, 1872

I don't think Steindl-Rast was saying that mysticism inevitably evolves into religion. I think he was saying that when mysticism evolves into a religion it inevitably decays into corruption, and will be in need of revitalization. But to your point that it isn't mysticism alone that's required to initiate a religious movement... hmmm... not sure I have a simple response, but I could say several things.

Ingersoll was clearly a sharp dude; way ahead of many of his contemporaries. I can have nothing but admiration for the guy, but the century that separates us from him revealed a lot that was not readily available to him. Three years after Ingersoll's death, for example, the Antikythera mechanism, a mechanical computer used for astronomical calculations, was recovered from a ship that sank a hundred years before Jesus was born.

The notion that Jesus, if that's who he was referring to, had no audience but barbarians and savages was probably more a reflection of nineteenth century assumptions than of historical fact. And inasmuch as scholars have not yet been able to agree upon a simple definition of the concept we now call religion, I'll go even further than Brother David and claim that not even a mystical experience is (or should be) required to establish a religion.

What did or didn't happen in the past is not as interesting to me as what can happen in the future. I don't think it's as useful to define a religion by its failures as it might be to look for the human need that keeps religions in demand, and find a way to serve that need without relying on first century, or even nineteenth century, scholarship.

That need, it appears to me, is and always was primarily a psychological need. Our big brains get easily tangled, and we have always needed "untanglement". If we are to look for an innocent impulse behind the creation of religions, I think this would be a consistent thread found throughout all world religions: the desire to escape psychological suffering.

Science gets its facts right, but it is not in the business of ministering to the emotional needs of the multitudes every week, in every community. Religious establishments are set up to do exactly that. They are just long overdue for being updated to meet the needs of people who have 21st century educations. No branch of the scientific establishment that I am aware of is even remotely interested in taking up this responsibility. Meanwhile church attendance is dwindling, and the death toll from opioid overdose is growing.

@skado Thank you for your detailed and well-considered reply.

"I don't think Steindl-Rast was saying that mysticism inevitably evolves into religion."

Perhaps you missed this point in his article?

"How does one get from mystic experience to an established religion? My one-word answer is: inevitably."

Your example of the Antikythera mechanism provides an excellent case in point that Greek ingenuity and engineering was more advanced than we realize, and without peer in terms of scientific knowledge during its time. It is a pity how much was lost. And while I don't necessarily agree with all of Ingersoll's characterizations, word meaning and usage have changed over time. Today, when referring to those who accepted the stories of miracles (clearly not as first person witnesses!), we might prefer words like 'ignorant,' 'uneducated,' 'credulous,' 'superstitious' and even 'uncouth.'

"I don't think it's as useful to define a religion by its failures as it might be to look for the human need that keeps religions in demand..."

The utility argument has never swayed me. Just because something serves a purpose, does not mean it should remain, particularly if, in doing so, it causes other harms. I can tell you this, having escaped religion, I can no longer view it as a resource to alleviate psychological suffering. It was my very departure and acceptance of reality that eliminated my suffering, and opened my mind to an entire universe of awe, wonder and beauty.

“Perhaps you missed this point in his article?
"How does one get from mystic experience to an established religion? My one-word answer is: inevitably." “

I didn't miss this point; it was the single sentence that originally inspired me to save the link eight years ago. It is the kernel of wisdom around which the article is built. I take its point not to be that every time anybody has a mystical experience it will inevitably result in the creation of a new religion, but rather that there is an inevitable process of calcification that occurs along the path from a religion's mystical beginnings to its established form, and that therefore, constant renewal is also a necessity.

Point taken on Ingersoll's barbarians.

If by "utility argument" you mean the notion that "if believing in falsehoods makes people happy then why shouldn't they?" then you may have missed my point. For the record, I don't support the teaching of anything supernatural. I think where we're missing each other here is that your definition of religion has it inextricably linked to supernatural explanations, and I tend to see "religion" as any practice a person uses to train their mind not to suffer. I believe that's really what's at the core of all religious pursuits, no matter how many barnacles you have to knock off to get to it. If I'm correct in this assumption (or if a person were to just decide to adopt that position for themselves) a practice could be built upon the metaphorical wisdom of the ancient traditions without taking any of it literally. That is to say, without supernatural explanations.

As Joseph Campbell has gone to great lengths to explain, a metaphorical, instead of literal, translation of the great world myths reveals immutable truth about human nature that is of great value, or utility if you will, without the need to believe anything.

I will humbly submit that what you and I have escaped is not religion, but a very old distortion of religion. It is instead, I would say, the awareness of that "entire universe of awe, wonder and beauty" that is the rightful core of any authentic religion. No falsehoods required.

Please understand, I'm not trying to change your mind; just sharing my perspective, and enjoying hearing yours. Thanks.

@skado I wouldn't fault you for working to change my opinion ... I am open to a re-examination of my views in this area, and you express your points eloquently. As I've learned during conversations with others about this subject, the term 'religion' is a grab bag word that encompasses a broad range of groups, ideas, practices and beliefs. To the extent that any system alleviates suffering, seeks objective truth through naturalism and promotes peace in a non-judgmental spirit, even if it's called religion, I could be persuaded of its benefits.

I have no idea how to bring about such a reform or if it might even be possible, but it seems worth looking into, and I do appreciate your willingness to explore the possibilities in a fair and respectful exchange of ideas.


Cleaning the litter box.


[4] Anything else

Seriously though, church does sometimes provide one useful thing, which is community and belonging and refuge. I just do not wish to wade through all the bullshit to get to it.


None of them....but wasting time here on Agnostics is infinitely more fun I should have thought.

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