Below is a conversation that went down on Facebook earlier this week. The participants are basically two people of faith and a couple secularists, including myself. It’s sort of Catholicism-centric, but we get into broad spectrum and much deeper points in latter parts of the conversation. The guy who starts it off more or less leads the conversation. Check it out when you time to read it. It starts with an article about the Pope and blossoms from there. all participants names have been changed to a number. It was an awesome discussion and quite a good re-read as even I missed some of the finer points on the first go round.

Enjoy.

1

Can someone please proffer a valid case why this institution is still around? (seriously, this is not a rhetorical question. i have smart friends, some of whom must have a compelling argument)

Pope Benedict XVI: Gay Marriage A Threat To ‘Future Of Humanity’

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/09/pope-benedict-xvi-gay-marriage_n_1194515.html#s424515&title=William_R_Johnson

7 Habit. (pun intended!)

3

Well if you ignore disagreements with the church in terms or social issues (gay rights) its easier to see them as a neutral organization. Thats pretty difficult to ask of someone but just follow me here.

Ignoring whether or not you believe in the Church or agree with their views the Catholic Church is still (in black and white terms) the largest charity in the world. Besides that the Vatican is arguable the greatest artistic accomplishment in the history of man and it is open to the public.

Reasons alone that validate its existence above most other organizations in the world.

Now I get that the homophobic stance is a deal breaker but there are several social issues that are actively supported by the Church. AIDs ministries, medical clinics and education in poor countries etc. Those are areas that the Vatican actively participates in. As far as Gay Rights go.. the church doesn’t hold political offices that determine the actual discriminatory laws.

Its kind of like saying your neighbor is an asshole for being close minded to gays despite the fact that he runs multiple soup kitchens, reeducation programs for the homeless AND helped fund the local museum.

Thats not an excuse. I’m just pointing out that there are obvious reasons the Catholic Church exists.

2

It’s easier 1) to have no responsibility for your actions (go to confession, say a few “hail mary’s” and you’re good. see you next time!); 2) to be told how to be good (instead of discovering yourself how); 3) not to think too much about the validity (or vanity) of your experience and put all that on a group of ornately-dressed men who live in the middle of Italy; and 4) look forward to a “heaven” because life on earth is so shitty. There. No, wait. It’s actually just laziness.

1

3,

I appreciate your response. It def. has many valid points.

However, my primary disagreement comes with your request to bracket the Church’s ideology and its attendent blowback. I’m not sure one can seriously ignore the social implications of the church. and in spite of the material good works they enact, how does one account for the indoctrination that goes along with those acts. Isn’t there a danger of fostering and disseminating inflammatory and bigoted views through through the charitable acts? Doesn’t the Catholic Church view such acts as outlets for proselytizing? Do they only teach abstinence in the AIDs ministries when its obvious birth control does much to counteract such epidemics?

And while the Church doesn’t hold political office, it surely influences public policy, no? There are plenty of PAC filled to the brim with high-ranking Church officials.

The Church also ruined a bunch of really substantial classical art because that art featured a penis.

I mean what if your neighbor did all of the things you just mentioned—runs multiple soup kitchens, reeducation programs for the homeless AND helped fund the local museum.—but turns out to be a racist, homophobe or something absurd like a neo-nazi? do we still give him the benefit of the doubt?

I guess i respond to 2’s point a bit…good works in my eyes count for little if the ideology backing them is unethical, marginalizing, and outmoded. there are lots of charitable institutions that do their works without all the baggage. unfortunately the Catholic Church has roughly 1700 years of wealth and prestige to cement its monopoly on such acts.

Don’t get me wrong. I know the Church is a complex organization that has internal dissension, and there are plenty of forward thinking and inclusive adherents within the Church hierarchy. It just seems a strange and paradoxical position to take. Why not dispense with the patriarchal hierarchy all together, and just move forward with the supportive communal elements?

o

1

2,

Also valid points. Perhaps I’m just (naturally?) disinclined to arguments from authority, or at least authorities who rely on revealed truths. The whole “it’s a mystery (i.e. it makes no logical sense) and therefore it must be true” thing feels so awkward.

Perhaps people are too lazy to work out their own ethical stance, or too conditioned by habit to critically reflect on such things. I actually think it would be an easier and less anxiety-producing exploration if people weren’t already saddled with an ethical system that tends to discourage such adventures.

I also think fostering an attitude of “the next world over this world” does a disservice to humanity over-all. but i’m not sure how many Catholics actually take this to heart. As 3 pointed out, there are lots of people who do good works in the name of the Church, and I’d guess don’t subscribe to some of it’s more discriminator tenets.

Again, I’d argue for keeping the charitable thrust of the Christian ethical stance, but drop the male-oriented tribal imperatives and bureaucratic Roman organization.

o

1 just realized i’m starting to sound like a Protestant. yikes!

o

2 well, as a recovering catholic, i totally appreciate your question and thoughts about this. believe me, it was at once an exhillerating and frightening discovery that i can shape my own moraility and truth. as a result of a catholic upbringing, i then tend to be greedy now and would say i’m a polytheist. 😉

o

5

this wins:

“good works in my eyes count for little if the ideology backing them is unethical, marginalizing, and outmoded. there are lots of charitable institutions that do their works without all the baggage. unfortunately the Catholic Church has roughly 1700 years of wealth and prestige to cement its monopoly on such acts.”

wealth… yes… maybe not so much prestige.

i almost spit out my coffee at this:

“Vatican is arguable the greatest artistic accomplishment in the history of man and it is open to the public.”

More like the greatest hoarder of artistic accomplishment. volumes and volumes of religious relics and documents on lock-down

Nonetheless all of this coming from a pope who has a long standing and unabated history of sheltering known and repetitive pedophiles.

Disgusting.

o

3

Well first to 2’s comment: Thats in no way in line with what any Christian faith actually teaches. That an unfortunate and over simplified popular take on religion thats completely hallow and divorced from any of its original intentions. I know that christians as a hole have created that image for themselves. Theologically though it makes no sense to the teachings of any major religion.

To 1: I think its a dated and flawed idea that the Church is out to gather a mass of people to indoctrinate and abuse. That definitely stems from historical things that the Church has committed as well a stereotype caused by hate between Catholics and Protestants. Proselytizing is kind of a ridiculous concept if you realize they are targeting the poorest of people. The vast majority of churches run on paper thin margins and no one gets a bonus if the congregations increase. Catholic priests often don’t even control where they get to work and live. At the end of the day if you actually saw the good work done in places like Haiti the positivity would be obvious.

On top of that you’d be amazed at how liberal minded the teachings are. An example: I have only once in my life heard judgmental words against gays in a church. I have never heard a priest imply how anyone should vote. Almost every sunday I hear a request for prayers or action for disaster relief, political action/awareness against genocide and pleas for humane laws regarding immigrants.

You mentioned PACs. I think you are lumping all Christians into one group here.
You might know more than i do here.

There are certainly very good examples of most major religions being flawed and at times loathsome. I’m just asking you to be open minded to their value.

You mention supporting charity but not the faith. Thats great even though the entirety of the catholic faith is founded on charity. The popular culture take on Christianity is as distorted as its take on Islam. (By the way I’ve been part of Catholic churches that shared buildings with Jewish Temples and Islamic organizations so that each of them could save money).

Now i feel like am pleading. I wont go into it too much but I’m curious why you would think a Judaeo Christian faith would be the easy way out (or any faith). Is it some how harder for you to be ethical? Are there difficulties or commitments that make it harder to be good?

Any religion is overwhelmingly complex even for the people that practice it for years and years. Theology even with out faith is also complicated. I don’t think huffington post or Facebook can even hint at ways they can be practiced or improved.

o

1

perhaps “clout” would have been a better word, over the value-laden “prestige”, although in some quarters i’m sure the institution is still considered blessed.

i hear both of you on the art thing. yes, the Vatican’s Vault is filled with stuff they don’t want people to see in case it foments dissension in the ranks. nonetheless, St. Peter’s is pretty impressive. at once for its testament to the absurd egos of the various Popes as the chosen interlocutors of god, but also to the brilliance of some of Italy’s finest craftsmen/progagadists. i am appreciative the Vatican is open to the public. better than nothing?

there’s plenty of sophisticated religious thinking going on, i just never see it at the highest ranks of the institution. those who do so are often ostracized like Paul Tillich, someone who immediately softens my approach to Christianity. why aren’t voices like this ever catapulted to the top instead of reactionary 80 year old men?

o

2

i hear you, 3! not only did i have a pre-vatican II upbringing, but i also have a degree in judeo-christian theology. the origins of both religions are beautiful and impressive — each a rebellion to the staus quo and each a declaration of independence. “catholic” means universal. its original tenets were those of faith, hope, and love. i’m a huge fan of jesus. but i’m not a huge fan of those who now purport to be his representatives here on earth. because those are the very people that jesus would have thrown out of the temple and branded mere sepulcheres.

o

2

1’s question was why this bastard of an institution still has a place in the world today. it is a thousand miles away from the very humble and loving teachings of jesus christ. the catholic church, in its current iteration needs to go. it hoards its riches while it watches the poor starve and die. jesus would never have let that happen. and then it makes proclamations of hatred from the pulpit, when jesus hung out with tax collectors, thieves and prostitutes. i’m sure that if he were alive today, he’d be a marshall at pride one of these times. but, alas, today’s catholic church is not even a mere shadow of its beginnings.

o

2 ‎1, that’s because tillich was reasoned and actually explores the place of existentialism vis-a-vis christianity. he was not an unreasonable dictator like that dude with a funny hat in the vatican.

o

1

3, You make great points. A lot of my knowledge of Christianity stems from a) secular studies of original texts, in which, if one is open to metaphorical readings, i find much of value; and b) European history, especially the power-plays of princes and popes. as you mentioned, the straw-man thesis that Christianity gives you free reign to be a tyrant and then offers absolution on your death-bed stems from such interplays, the political maneuvering of power-hungry psychopaths.

i appreciate you sharing your personal experience. as someone who does not attend church, i have very little to draw on. i did go to Catholic high school, and was often moved by *some* of the sermons and the priests. some were deep and profound. others seemed like empty recitation of ritual. but you’ll find sophisticated thinkers and not so sophisticated thinkers in any realm.

i think part of the problem, for me, stems from the whole “squeaky wheel gets the oil” thing. where squeaky wheel is right-wing zealots who would probably suck *regardless* of which ideology they buttressed their arguments with, and where the oil is, for lack of a better word, “press time”.

my question is, where are the moderate voices in secular debates? or even public debates? are they not newsworthy? is it a media bias? am i looking in the wrong places? i feel like those voices need to be broadcast better.

3, i’m not sure i think Judeo-Christian morality, or tying to follow it, is necessarily easy. but i do think it gives you a prescribed system from *very early on* and discourages you to question that system (is this true? prolly not). if someone does intensive work and ends up a Christian, that’s awesome if it works. i just think organized religious sets up a system in which critical reflection and potential heated disagreement is discouraged in the laity (if not in the theological seminary). my other big gripe is that such systems tend to found ethics on supernatural forces rather than within humanity itself, as if, without God’s grace, humanity has no inherent value. is this true? in your experience 3, is this the message that has been conveyed, or is it more nuanced?

o

3

I’ve been to St Peters and its the greatest experience of my life in terms of viewing/experiencing art. So I am sticking to my original statement of it being the highest artistic accomplishment of man. Sorry you went there and felt upset that you didn’t get to see more relics.

To 1 latest posts: I’ve talked to a lot of sophisticated and thoughtful people about faith. The thing is those people are soft spoken sophisticated people that go to church to talk about faith. They don’t go on TV to have those conversations so why would hear them? Its a catch 22.

I think this also speaks to 2’s point. The face of religion is horribly obscured. Unfortunately, I don’t really think you can make any headway into figuring out its true value with out making a big commitment to a religion. The teachings are right there and they are as positive and loving as 2 says. I don’t know why those aren’t the ideas that get people elected to office or powerful positions in the media. Those are small intimate things people talk about in church and temple every week though.

At this point I’m writing about why Christianity exists. My original points i believe are still valid.

o

1

‎”The thing is those people are soft spoken sophisticated people that go to church to talk about faith. They don’t go on TV to have those conversations so why would hear them? ”

I think this is an unfortunate state of affairs. of course, much of it has to do with the fact that there are very few platforms that allow for sustained discussion in today’s public sphere. oh well.

for me, you’ve reinforced my inklings that lived religions differ from institutions. which is why i think when everyone started talking about ethical systems there was little disagreement. unfortunately the two seemed so deeply intertwined they can’t be teased apart.

o

2

if i may, 1 : as you well know, in catholicism you are born in original sin. so there…you’r already marred from the start and you’re making your way out from under that. what a beginning! meantime, all over the gospels, jesus was saying you don’t have to worry about that ’cause i paid up your debt! somehow, that all got lost in translation as the catholic faith progressed through time. so, yeah, in a way, “humanity has no value” (without the catholic church to throw out indulgences and penances)

o

1

yah..it seems such a strange and pessimistic view of humanity to found a religion on. then again, in spite of my venting against such axioms, i often find myself casting misanthropic aspersion against the entire human race in the face of all the harm we seem to be doing to the planet and other species, and i boast about how Hobbe’s view of human nature was correct. so, in the end, i’m just a hypocritical closet original-sinner i guess.

o

3

I dont believe its that we are taught humanity has no value. Actually its almost hammered over your head how God loves man limitlessly. The idea is that humanity and all life and all existence gains their value through God. I hope the difference makes sense.

As far as penance and excuses to be a tyrant go no one gets free absolution. That idea is inaccurate. I think its a romantic idea played up by indulgent people and also a concept that was abused by people taking advantage of illiterate europeans. Thats not how Jesus forgave sins so how could it be a way for man to forgive sins.

o

1

‎”Thats not how Jesus forgave sins so how could it be a way for man to forgive sins.” – good point.

“The idea is that humanity and all life and all existence gains their value through God. I hope the difference makes sense. ” – this starts to make sense to me when God is not anthropomorphized, but is more a name we use to designate (bear with me) emergent, higher-order consciousness that arises from human communities. (in my own thinking, i don’t consider the human being the upper-bound of organisms). When god is reduced to a human figure i feel it does a disservice to the spiritual intuition of humankind.

o

2 but then, that’s where jesus came in. he was god incarnate in human form.

o

1

‎@2 yah that’s where you lose me. i go the other way. “god” is the name humans give to their intuition of the active, evolving, and creative universe, a universe which has no personal interest in the human race, because the ‘universe’ is radically other, radically anti-human, infinitely greater than our teeny-weeny brains. to claim that “all that out there” a) has knowledge of us, and b) decided to come visit once and only once a long time ago, thereby kicking off centuries of obscure debate and persecution…well…you know where i’m going with this.

o

1 also, thanks to all for the stimulating dialog

o

2 oh..i wasn’t doing a jerry falwell on you, 1. i was merely pointing out the tenets of the true christian faith (sans catholic indulgences, that is)

o

5 nice hats?

o

4

I was reading this dialogue and one thing stood out that I simply could not get past, and that was the statement (and I paraphrase) that “all religions are extremely complex even for those who practice them”. I could not disagree more. All religions boil down to a very simple nexus: you either believe it, or you don’t. Faith. And that is a very simple concept. Now, as scientific advancements have come into popular culture, the churches of the world must somehow keep up lest they appear outmoded, thereby creating artificially “complex” institutions. Religion for all intents and purposes was a way to explain the “unknown”, i.e. why aren’t my crops growing, where does the sun go at the end of the day, etc. Well, good ole science is figuring those things out, so the churches are scrambling to keep up in a world with increasingly less and less need for faith in god, hence the “complexity”.

o

1

couple responses:

a) i agree that faith is the linchpin of religious practice. regardless of cross-pollinating dialogs and ameliorative measures, when it comes right down to it, there are those who do and those who don’t. it’s a line etched in stone, and i seriously doubt one can straddle it for any prolonged length of time

b) i also agree that religion, in part, functions/functioned as an explanatory device for the unknown. in my view, religion originated from our nature as social beings, our desire to know how things work, a deeply rooted anxiety in the face of our finitude, and our cognitive priming to (over)-recognize agency in the world (false positives are evolutionarily acceptable, false negatives are not); when this latter faculty overruns its proper course we end up with ghosts, spirits, dead ancestors, angels, demons, gods, goddesses, and finally God. however, i think, do to complex feedback networks among the individual, social, cultural and political spheres, religion has grown into something more complex than it was during the hunter-gatherer period. this was how i understood 3’s statement. further, i’d imagine that for many individuals reconciling the contradictions of their faith with their own subjectivity must be a complex process. i will never understand how a homosexual, or a woman for that matter, could subscribe to the tenets of a Judeo-Christian religion. yet i know many intelligent people of both categories who do so. try as i might, this just seems a logical puzzle i can solve. but then again, faith is the rejection of reason and logic. so i guess it makes a strange sort of sense. maybe these aren’t the types of complexities 3 was referring to.

c) in spite of science’s capacity to serve as a viable oracle for “how”, people still have a need for why? personally, my answer to that question is “there is no why, so the question doesn’t make sense. there is no inherent value to being, only the value that human’s project onto that being. however, this fact in no way diminishes the <gasp> miraculousness of that state of affairs. this is the only way I can make sense of the continued relevance of religion for so much of the world’s population. in spite of some interesting experiments in Scandanavia, there are huge swaths of religion throughout the world. and there appears to be no slowing it down, in spite of secularist’s predictions. and while i’m somewhat sympathetic to science’s attempt to capture the mystical/numinous and miraculous nature of what it has discovered (e.g. Stuart Kaufmann’s ‘Reinventing the Sacred’), these attempts feel a bit futile. Why?

I’m not sure, I think peering into a nebula, literally viewing the ancient past is incredibly more moving, sublime, and awe-inspiring than any reading, literal or metaphorical, of a scripture concerned with an anthropomorphic god.

so, 4, I agree wholeheartedly that there is less and less a need for God. but how do we account for the growing want for God?

o

4

People haven’t changed that much since the first farmers started banding together to form societies. They (we) are still relatively simple, and ultimately the ego wants to believe that there is a “purpose” to life, and death is scary, we want to believe there is something more.

Not to mention the traditions ingrained from generation to generation make that cycle of faith difficult to break. It’s hard to think “are my parents really that gullible, are they stupid?”.

Maybe the way to answer “why”, is to think about your one personal reasons “why not”(assuming).

o

2 am not in the conversation now, but i thought it was brilliant that i read this line just now (from “never any end to paris” by enrique vila-matas) — “the downfall of the believer is finding his church.” sadly, in my experience, it’s true more often than not.

o

1

‎@4, i agree people haven’t changed much. but i’d argue strongly that culture has changed a lot. i don’t really believe in genetic determinism, and i accord environmental factors as much if not more causal efficacy with respect to neurological development given the plastic nature of the brain. so i think it is important to take the material considerations of contemporary society into account when framing discussions of religion as a complex system.

i tend to think the clash between us as relatively simple beings (def. true), and the growing complexity and interconnectedness of larger-scale networks (material, social, political, yadda yadda) is one of the primary reasons why there has been a resurgence in religion, a sort of retreat into and desire for religion’s ostensibly palliative effects.

it is jarring to realize what some of the older generations take on faith, especially when it comes to social values. it’s scary to thing some of their offspring readily accept the same values. it’ll be interesting to see if a similar gap exists between us at 80 and the 20/30 somethings of that age.

@2 i love that quote!!!! don’t know the author. the book sounds interesting…very “meta”

o

5

1 et al., i highly suggest The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris. hits a lot of points here.

I like the Jesus being humble part:

15:6 “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

yeah, not exactly the poster child for humble. —Believe me or burn.

While i don’t completely agree with the following text and the author rails on faith, i came across it a few months ago and parts resonated pretty strongly.

excerpt:

“Human life takes place in a social context: we are all part of the body politic. Equally inescapable is nature’s prime directive: “survive”. But these are not constraints or limits on our experience. They’re the impetus for our quest. We have only one life: one quest for experience. A quest driven by curiosity. Along the way, we love, learn and (hopefully) understand.

But people of faith — people who seriously pin their hopes on a highly conditional and dubious promise of an afterlife — are led by an ancient authority, not by their own personal quest. Nothing about our experience of reality needs or requires faith. The only reason anybody needs faith is to accept unreality. Things not known to exist. “Faith” as claimed by most, isn’t about the truth: it’s about denying the truth. Staking one’s life on faith is surrendering one’s quest for understanding. Faith and truth are incompatible. If you have faith, you don’t want the truth.

Faith is the opposite of curiosity. Curiosity is about experience and learning: faith is about the afterlife and death. By denying the finality of death, faith prevents us from accepting it. It must be terribly frightening to face death knowing that your faith in a baseless promise of immortality will be put to the final test. And even then, your immortal soul could be destined for hell if you don’t measure up to God’s standards. Was your faith pure enough? Did you make God proud?

Curiosity is far better than faith; especially if it leads you to accept life for what it is. Coming to terms with death, means coming to terms with life. And vice versa. Besides . . . would a Creator of the universe really be so petty and vindictive that he would punish you forever? “

o

2 1, isn’t that a brilliant quote? and vila-matas is a recent discovery. he writes in spanish but this book i’m reading is so super-meta. he specializes in meta fiction and i’m super-digging it. i love that quote just happened to surface while we’re talking about this.

o

2

5:being a person of faith, but not necessarily religious, i beg to differ about that definition of faith. it’s a bit myopic. my faith is tied to “there’s got to be a reason for all this…some meaning.” i really have given up about afterlife. i’ll either accept reincarnation or nothing. but while alive, i want to attach life to meaning. and that is where i apply faith. because really, what’s it all about? though i don’t subscribe to any one canon of faith. i’d rather poke my eye out than do that.

o

1

‎@2 awesome, i will pick it up. i wrote my thesis for my previous Masters on Metafiction, def. a fan.

@5 i’m a pretty big fan of sam harris. i loved End of Faith when it came out, although in retrospect i find it a tad incendiary. kinda feel the same toward all the Brights/New Athiests, although I do love Dawkin’s smarmy and arrogant wit. With respect to The Moral Landscape, I actually wasn’t too impressed. My pithy review from GoodReads states: “Should be subtitled “How *Reason* Can Determine Human Values”, and, in that light, nothing new here, just regurgitated utilitarianism with some “one day science will back up these ideas” peppered throughout.” I felt he fell short of substantive claims on science and was instead just arguing ethics. which is fine, but i think i had different expectations which colored my reception of the book.

if you are into that type of stuff, and don’t know it, the Science Network’s “Beyond Belief” video series has some great lectures, Harris included.

http://thesciencenetwork.org/programgroup/beyond-belief

TSN: Beyond Belief

thesciencenetwork.org

o

1

‎@2 not to drag you back in, but does the meaning necessarily need to be transcendent, to come from without? would it suffice for that meaning to be a construct of the human mind and social experience and therefore immanent to the human experience, but not necessarily imbued within existence itself? typically when i talk to religious people that type of internally (to the human species) sort of meaning seems to fall short, and they instead profess faith in a meaning that is greater than and transcendent to human-kind.

o

2

fair point, 1. so, with that in mind, i’m in flux. certainly, there have been signifcant experiences in my life that necessitated some sort of “faith” — whether by my ability or some external something i hold on to. but experientially (and perhaps because of my strict religious upbringing) i hold on to some sort of faith. this is why hitchens’ essays during his cancer battle meant so much to me because i’m reading another point of view — right from a bonafide humanist. i’m just quasi-humanist. but yeah, i don’t pray to any entity but perhaps it is our collective energy as humans that i hold on to. and admittedly, it is a belief in the unproven. and it has nothing to do with the afterlife, but everything to do with life, right now.

o

1

yes i think the last point is key. and meshes nicely with those spiritual traditions with which i sympathize. there’s def. a difference between blind faith (which i think christian’s quote was speaking of) and an enlightened faith, of which many of the great religious minds have spoken of.

are the Hitchen’s essays anthologized? online? i haven’t read any of his stuff post-diagnoses. we’ll have to have a book swap once i’m back in august.

o

5

I agree. Thought it was pretty slow on the major front half and a little weightier in the latter 30%. Harris definitely still carried a bit of the incendiary in spots and he def has the argumentative tone w/o Dawkins zing. Yet. the neural aspects were kinda dope for me.

Faith can be a lot of things, but I don’t think it’s that myopic of a view. Modern humans have proliferated for the past 40,000-75,000+/- years. Neanderthals proliferated for the previous 350,000+/- years. The point that we know the window of time when early “man” first controlled the use of fire
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Control_of_fire_by_early_humans
compiled with our understanding of the life and death cycles of stars and the implications that has on our own existence being the 3rd rock from the sun, literally makes my brain melt.

With that kind of focus,
i think faith stems from emotions closely related to our innate need for companionship. We’ve always had that hoping seeking nature about us and hence why most religious teachings bank on the most natural of yearnings.

As it’s traditionally been taught to us, I don’t equate not having faith with life not having meaning. But i feel ya. =)

o

2 1, i don’t think hitchens’ “cancer” essays were anthologized. although i wouldn’t be surprised if they were included in his last book. looking forward to a book swap in august. and yes, sam harris rawks (this coming from a girl of “faith”) 🙂

o

2 5:as a very emotional person, i totally agree with you that faith stems from emotion and a need for connection — to something/someone. hence my not being such a huge fan of buddhism (because i think it’s bereft of emotion), although i do dabble in some buddhist precepts. 🙂

o

2 ‎….but 1, here’s his last essay before he passed away: http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/01/hitchens-201201

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