Is this all there is?

I used to wonder (and believe I even asked you) if an aging agnostic would eventually ask, “is this all there is?”
The answers to that question could be mind-blowing.

You probably mean atheist and the fact is that most atheists die quite contentedly without ever asking that question. It comes from giving thought to life and belief and faith and knowledge and thinking is a pretty good thing.
I am agnostic however many people, you apparently are among them, who think that agnosticism is a belief or a faith. It is simply the acknowledgement that metaphysical notions are not known. If a genie appeared and offered to give me one wish it would be that everyone in the world become agnostic; there would be agnostic Catholics, agnostic atheists, agnostic Jews, agnostic Muslims, etc. Everyone would retain their belief/faith and they would freely tell others if they wished, spread the word like the Mormons do, but they would understand the difference between belief and knowledge. I like to think that if everyone understood that their belief was not any better or worse than any other belief and that we should be respectful of others’ beliefs the world would be a safer and happier place.

What do I believe? I believe that this life is wonderful. I like to make an analogy that fits well into the Christmas season. I like to think of life as a gift and I know that if I gave someone a gift that was unwrapped and the recipient exclaimed “great gift, Thank you! What else did you get me?” I would think that person was an ingrate. Just in case the analogy escapes you I’ll put it in terms of your belief. God gave you life and you are saying “is this all there is?” I think this life is wonderful and I give thanks for it frequently. I’m not looking forward to something else. If this is it, thank you! If there is more, wow! But my job in this life is to live it fully, to use the gift well and with appreciation.

What Would Your Wish be?

 

A genie materializes before me and says: “Thomas.”

“What?! You scared the crap outa me.”

“Thomas, I am here to grant you one wish.”

“One, I thought I was supposed to get three?”

“No, that’s in mythology. In reality you don’t get any but I’m making an exception in your case.”

“OK. I wish that everyone loved everyone like Jesus said we should.”

“Eh, sorry, I can’t grant that wish.”

“Why?”

“I can’t tell you. Wish again.”

“I wish that everyone understood the difference between belief and knowledge.”

“Can’t they just look it up in the dictionary? Or Google it?”

“I think I’m asking for more than that. I want all of us to be able to say about our faith, our belief in God, heaven, hell, etc. to say ‘this is what I believe but I don’t know.’”

“You want atheists to say I believe there is no god, but I don’t know?”

“Right.”

“And Christians to say I believe in God but I don’t know?”

“Yes, and Jews and Muslims and everybody who holds a belief in something that cannot be proven to be true.”

“Why do you care?”

“Because if all of us recognized that our belief was ours and we respected everyone’s belief as being as valid as ours it might be a big step toward loving each other.”

Some Need a Heaven and a Hell

Abe Lincoln was a great man, a great thinker. He learned to use his god-given mind, his conscience, to guide him. It may well be that many people were not given a mind capable of finding within themselves a good feeling associated with doing good and a bad feeling with “doing bad”.
Those who can’t understand how someone who doesn’t believe as they do could possibly be restrained from doing bad apparently need a religion to keep them from doing bad things. Perhaps we should be thankful there is belief in Hell to keep those folks from committing evil deeds.
PS I use the term “god-given mind” for those who believe in a God. They should be able to relate to the term and it is my wish that those who believe in God use their mind; it would be a leap forward for humankind.
An interesting article on Satan:

http://news.yahoo.com/psychological-power-satan-125000557.html

What I believe

There is a type of question on tests in which we are given several samples and we are to choose which one doesn’t belong. For example, which of the following doesn’t belong: horse, mouse, man, mosquito, whale? The answer is mosquito because the rest are mammals. Here is another. Which of the following doesn’t belong: Muslim, Jew, Sikh, Agnostic, Atheist, Christian? Five of these hold a belief about the existence of God. It could be said that an agnostic has a belief but the belief is not in the existence of God but rather that no one knows whether or not God exists. Atheists believe there is no God while the others believe there is a God.
It bothers me that the term agnostic is frequently used similarly to the other terms in the list, usually lumped together with atheists as being nonbelievers (in a god). There can be agnostic Christians, agnostic Sikhs, agnostic Muslims, agnostic Jews and agnostic atheists. That is to say that, linguistically at least; one can hold any belief about a god while acknowledging that what they believe is just that, their belief.
But when someone says their God is the only true God, that their God is the only way to the Promised Land, and that they know this, they are telling everyone who doesn’t hold the same belief that they are wrong. Most of us do not react too well to being told we are wrong. How much better it would be if that someone said something like: “I believe in this wonderful God and through Him I will find my way to the Promised Land. What do you believe?” Then I could respond, “I believe in 24 Gods, two for each sign of the zodiac and they are all trying to sing in harmony and when they do they will hit a note that will transport all of us to the Promised Land.”
Well, hey, there’s a cool belief.
What I truly believe is that the world would be a much better place if we accepted each other’s beliefs as being no less valid than our own.

Religious People Less Intelligent

“Religious people branded as less intelligent than atheists…That’s the provocative conclusion of a new review of 63 studies of intelligence and religion that span the past century. The meta-analysis showed that in 53 of the studies, conducted between 1928 to 2012, there was an inverse relation between religiosity — having religious beliefs, or performing religious rituals — and intelligence. That is, on average, non-believers scored higher than religious people on intelligence tests.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/14/religious-people-less-intelligent-atheists_n_3750096.html

If you are an atheist, you probably already knew this, being intelligent an all (and you were probably aware of at least one of the previous studies). If you are a religious person, you will reject the findings. For me, I’m not quite either, I would add a reason religious people are less intelligent than atheists (and other non-religious people) to those given in the Huffington Post article by the scientists; many religious leaders tell their flock not to question. Questioning engages the brain whereas acceptance without thought just numbs it.
The following was a post here over three years ago (back before the site was taken down by a spammer)

Liberals and atheists are more intelligent than conservatives and the faithful. The theory put forward by Staoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics and Political Science, is that anyone can go along with the usual but; the ability to think and reason has helped our species recognize and understand unusual situations and deal with them. This is from a study published in the March 2010 issue of the peer-reviewed scientific journal Social Psychology Quarterly.
The following three paragraphs are quoted from Science Daily.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100224132655.htm?sms_ss=email

Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) support Kanazawa’s hypothesis. Young adults who subjectively identify themselves as “very liberal” have an average IQ of 106 during adolescence while those who identify themselves as “very conservative” have an average IQ of 95 during adolescence.
Similarly, religion is a byproduct of humans’ tendency to perceive agency and intention as causes of events, to see “the hands of God” at work behind otherwise natural phenomena. “Humans are evolutionarily designed to be paranoid, and they believe in God because they are paranoid,” says Kanazawa. This innate bias toward paranoia served humans well when self-preservation and protection of their families and clans depended on extreme vigilance to all potential dangers. “So, more intelligent children are more likely to grow up to go against their natural evolutionary tendency to believe in God, and they become atheists.”
Young adults who identify themselves as “not at all religious” have an average IQ of 103 during adolescence, while those who identify themselves as “very religious” have an average IQ of 97 during adolescence.

If you are an atheist or a liberal or a liberal atheist, you are probably feeling pretty good about yourself about now. I’d suggest that you might consider going even farther than atheism. Atheists have been around a long time even dominating several cultures. Those of us who have minds should continue using them especially as regards beliefs that so dominate the destructive actions of our species.
If you doubt the studies cited consider Republican Bradley Byrne. Poor Bradley knows that the Bible is not literally true but to run for governor of Alabama he has to say that it is. Why does he have to lie and say something really stupid? Because nearly eight out of 10 Republicans in Alabama identify themselves as evangelical or born-again Christians.

Religious less intelligent than atheists

“Religious people branded as less intelligent than atheists…That’s the provocative conclusion of a new review of 63 studies of intelligence and religion that span the past century. The meta-analysis showed that in 53 of the studies, conducted between 1928 to 2012, there was an inverse relation between religiosity — having religious beliefs, or performing religious rituals — and intelligence. That is, on average, non-believers scored higher than religious people on intelligence tests.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/14/religious-people-less-intelligent-atheists_n_3750096.html

If you are an atheist, you probably already knew this, being intelligent an all (and you were probably aware of at least one of the previous studies). If you are a religious person, you will reject the findings. For me, I’m not quite either, I would add a reason religious people are less intelligent than atheists (and other non-religious people) to those given in the Huffington Post article by the scientists; many religious leaders tell their flock not to question. Questioning engages the brain whereas acceptance without thought just numbs it.