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Orlando Massacre - Pray Against Terrorism?


PaulS
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This is probably a bit of a rant, but it is so frustrating to see and hear people saying things like "we pray for the victims of the Orlando massacre". I mean seriously, if whoever they pray to wasn't prepared to stop this tragedy from occurring, do they really think that their God is going to sit up and pay attention now?

 

Now I'm sure some people pray in the sense that they wish the deceased and their surviving families well, but again, who do they think is listening? And IF that entity is listening, why do they expect that entity to take any action now, after the event? In fact, when in the history of mankind have they ever seen such an entity intervene, or when do they think they will?

 

And isn't it despicably ironic that this hate-filled crime is actually the answer to other people's prayers! I mean there are Muslim extremists celebrating right now that their God has answered their prayers and overseen the deaths of these innocent people!

 

Rant over, but interested in what others think about this.

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It has occurred to me that people hate most in others that which they hate most in themselves. Islam's teaching about homosexuality in this case, has everything to do with this crime. I don't believe in a personal god entity that pulls strings to make things happen.

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Paul,

It seems to me it is the way of many dealing with a situation that they feel totally helpless in. I think while many may not really believe God will intervene they feel like asking (praying) is the least they can do and that it is the acceptable norm. If nothing else it helps one feel better about oneself for acting or sacrificing some of their time in hopes it will have some effect.

 

Concerning prayer specifically for those who are suffering, It seems to me, typically, when told that people have been praying for them, it makes them feel better knowing that someone else cares enough to take the time to petition on their behalf.

 

Joseph

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Concerning prayer specifically for those who are suffering, It seems to me, typically, when told that people have been praying for them, it makes them feel better knowing that someone else cares enough to take the time to petition on their behalf.

 

The Step project

 

I must admit I wonder here.

 

Perhaps people should be praying for the ability for each of us to shed our personal delusions.

Edited by romansh
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Perhaps it is a phase we all must pass through ? For now i personally don't presume what people should or shouldn't be praying for.

 

Nice You Tube video concerning how we create our sense of self through the brain. The Matrix was one of my all time favorite movies. Thanks.

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Paul,

It seems to me it is the way of many dealing with a situation that they feel totally helpless in. I think while many may not really believe God will intervene they feel like asking (praying) is the least they can do and that it is the acceptable norm. If nothing else it helps one feel better about oneself for acting or sacrificing some of their time in hopes it will have some effect.

 

Concerning prayer specifically for those who are suffering, It seems to me, typically, when told that people have been praying for them, it makes them feel better knowing that someone else cares enough to take the time to petition on their behalf.

 

Joseph

 

Yes, I can imagine a certain degree of people praying even though they expect nothing in return. It is comforting to think that there is a father figure 'out there' somewhere that ultimately does have our best interests at heart (somehow). So I can appreciate why they may do it, although I can't really understand why the can't see it doesn't help any (other than in their own context of feeling better).

 

And indeed, knowing other people care enough about you to have you in their thoughts (even though to be in their thoughts doesn't mean they need to be praying) can be very comforting.

 

However, the group of people that I am referring to are the ones that believe in an interventionist God - the sort of God that will help them get a car space close to the front door but for whatever reason decided in this instance that the murder of 50 people should proceed. That's the bit that truly frustrates and astounds me.

 

And then there is of course the Christians that are presently sending prayers of thanks to their God for eliminating these 'abominations' from the face of the earth. What I think of those people I cannot express in this forum.

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Yes, I can imagine a certain degree of people praying even though they expect nothing in return. It is comforting to think that there is a father figure 'out there' somewhere that ultimately does have our best interests at heart (somehow). So I can appreciate why they may do it, although I can't really understand why the can't see it doesn't help any (other than in their own context of feeling better).

 

And indeed, knowing other people care enough about you to have you in their thoughts (even though to be in their thoughts doesn't mean they need to be praying) can be very comforting.

 

However, the group of people that I am referring to are the ones that believe in an interventionist God - the sort of God that will help them get a car space close to the front door but for whatever reason decided in this instance that the murder of 50 people should proceed. That's the bit that truly frustrates and astounds me.

 

And then there is of course the Christians that are presently sending prayers of thanks to their God for eliminating these 'abominations' from the face of the earth. What I think of those people I cannot express in this forum.

 

It's possible, in my view, that praying does change things. Prayer can strengthen ones resolve so that one can step up from a depressed state to a more positive outlook that finds opportunities that may be missed in a depressed state. Heck, perhaps it may even attract opportunities as does positive thinking. The mind may be more powerful than we think?

 

Prayer ( a talk with our source) in my view can change the prayer. A changed prayer brings about different choices. Different choices bring about different consequences. The universe is always responding to choices with consequences , howbeit not always instantly ... and in that sense ... one could say God intervenes. Sometimes it appears as miraculous. That is my experience.. If you get bored, i'll share one of my more dramatic ones with you. :)

 

As far as the extreme examples you mention.... i hardly give it a second thought. There is little i can do at the moment for any delusions they may have. I have enough of my own. :D

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Perhaps it is a phase we all must pass through ? For now i personally don't presume what people should or shouldn't be praying for.

 

Nice You Tube video concerning how we create our sense of self through the brain. The Matrix was one of my all time favorite movies. Thanks.

 

My apologies ... I meant to post this

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studies_on_intercessory_prayer#The_STEP_project

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It's possible, in my view, that praying does change things. Prayer can strengthen ones resolve so that one can step up from a depressed state to a more positive outlook that finds opportunities that may be missed in a depressed state.

 

It may well ... placebos often work too, at least to some degree. Unfortunately so do nocebos .. as highlighted by the STEP project I meant to post before.

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It's possible, in my view, that praying does change things. Prayer can strengthen ones resolve so that one can step up from a depressed state to a more positive outlook that finds opportunities that may be missed in a depressed state. Heck, perhaps it may even attract opportunities as does positive thinking. The mind may be more powerful than we think?

 

Prayer ( a talk with our source) in my view can change the prayer. A changed prayer brings about different choices. Different choices bring about different consequences. The universe is always responding to choices with consequences , howbeit not always instantly ... and in that sense ... one could say God intervenes. Sometimes it appears as miraculous. That is my experience.. If you get bored, i'll share one of my more dramatic ones with you. :)

 

As far as the extreme examples you mention.... i hardly give it a second thought. There is little i can do at the moment for any delusions they may have. I have enough of my own. :D

 

The problem with the extreme examples is that they impact our society - what is taught to children at school (and at home), how laws are made, even how people are harmed. I'm not sure ignoring them is useful or beneficial.

 

But of course I have a list of things that I think we should be doing to make the earth a better place to live.

 

Would love to hear an experience of yours concerning the universe intervening. Feel free to PM me or post for sure.

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Yes, they do impact our society as you have noted. I encourage all to do what is in their power to make it a better place. As you imply, ignoring problems don't make them go away. I agree

 

At the same time with my first thought i ask myself if there is anything i can do about these extreme examples right now and if i can i do. If it is beyond that which is currently in my power then i don't give it a second thought. Who knows perhaps tomorrow i will be in a position to make some contribution to change and it will not come out of anger or hate or a feeling of guilt. It takes wisdom to know the things you can change and how and wisdom to accept the things you can't. I have found it sufficient sometimes to allow myself to change. It is the one thing i have the most control over. :)

 

I'll PM you a story the best i can recall.

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I'm not clear, Paul, whether you're criticizing those who say they're praying for the massacre victims or whether you're criticizing those who are stupid enough (in your view) to believe in God -- or at least in a God who can intervene. Perhaps both?

 

With regard to prayer, I agree with Joseph's thoughts on the matter: "Prayer ( a talk with our source) in my view can change the prayer. A changed prayer brings about different choices. Different choices bring about different consequences. The universe is always responding to choices with consequences , howbeit not always instantly ... and in that sense ... one could say God intervenes. Sometimes it appears as miraculous."

 

There are several different kinds of prayer, and the kind of prayer Joseph refers to here -- "a talk with our source" -- is not necessarily what others mean by prayer in a situation such as the Orlando massacre. So it would be helpful first to understand what kind of thought process is going on behind the use of the word "prayer."

 

I personally stopped using intercessory prayer -- a prayer with built-in conditions and demands -- many years ago. Intercessory prayer, by its very nature, assumes from the outset that God doesn't see or hear what's going on on Planet Earth unless we rush to inform God. It also assumes that God can't or won't intervene in a situation unless we first offer worship, praise, and a specific set of instructions for God to follow (e.g. God, Mary Lou is sick and you need to heal her right now!). Such prayers also include the implicit assumption that human beings are smarter than God (with we human beings always knowing what's best in a situation) and the implicit assumption that intercessory prayer has some sort of "magical power" over God's free will.

 

None of these assumptions is very helpful, of course, But for those who feel strongly drawn to try to strong-arm God through intercessory prayer, it's an indication that inside their biological brains, they're giving preference to System 2 thought processes at the expense of System 1 thought processes. So preference is given to cause-and-effect logic; obedience to religious laws in a strict and linear and predictable way; religious humility (which is the opposite of true humbleness); lack of empathy; lack of trust; and lack of emotional courage.

 

On the other hand, prayer of the kind Joseph refers to -- a talk with our source -- is really about conversation; relationship; context; contemplation; slow, careful, patient reflection; willingness to change; insight; and what positive psychologists refer to as MEANING. These are attributes that spring from System 1 thought processes (which, as I've mentioned before, predate System 2 logic in evolutionary terms).

 

Paul, if you're concerned about the extreme example that affect our society, then I'd recommend you turn your attention to what happens inside the biological brain when System 2 thought processes are given constant preference over System 1 thought processes -- and what happens to mood, cognition, empathy, and impulse control when the brain is forced to shut out the wisdom, patience, and relationship skills that spring from System 1 quantum biological circuits.

 

If you're concerned about the extent to which religious traditions can reinforce and even amplify the problem of System 2 dominance in the brain, then yes, I agree completely. But religious tradition is often at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum from FAITH, which is an emotional experience of relationship with God.

 

Intercessory prayer is used to enhance "the power and glory" of System 2 religious traditions. Contemplative prayer (conversation with God) is part of the ongoing process of building a humble and joyful relationship with God -- which is no different, really, than the choice to have long and respectful conversations with the other people and creatures you love so you can better understand them . . . and yourself.

 

God bless,

Jen

Edited by Realspiritik
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The problem with prayer is it means different things to different people.

 

Intercessory prayer does not work as far we can tell .. at least based on any serious studies we have done.

 

Now some claim God works in mysterious ways ... so from that point of view anything (but anything) is God's will, especially if the thing is positive or glimmer of positiveness can be seen in some tragedy..

 

Now does prayer affect our brain structure? of course it does. Everything we do affects our brain structure.

Thinking rationally and not accepting 'truths" on faith also affects our brain structure.

 

Our source? The universe or whatever? I can say that my beliefs and actions are more than likely a product of my environment ... I am a product of my environment. I am not sure my environment has a direct or significant access to my prayers. But my environment does respond to my actions.

 

Actions speak louder than prayers.

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In a general way (and I hope you're listening, Joseph) I again lament the extent to which the TCPC message board has become a place where the views of militant atheists must be respected and deferred to all costs while those of us who still claim a semblance of faith, and who wish to expand the discussion of humanity's issues beyond the scope of Materialist cause-and-effect classical physics, are continually demeaned by those who in their (apparent) infinite wisdom already have all the answers and feel it's their mission to "save" the rest of us from our poor, demented, faith-filled brains.

 

If this attitude were coming from an evangelical Christian telling us we're all going to go to hell, it wouldn't be tolerated -- and, in fact, a small number of such evangelical Christians have been banned from TCPC in the past.

 

Yet on a site that claims to draw its basic principles from the teachings of Jesus (who was a passionate theist, a fact which most certainly did affect his brain in ways that allowed him to see what Divine Love really means) anyone who actually trusts God and loves God can expect an immediate dose of contempt wrapped up in an exquisite package of carefully measured words.

 

I personally am not surprised by the low levels of posting activity on TCPC in recent years. For those of us who've opened our hearts (System 1 thought processes) to relationship with God, who needs this? Who needs to be told repeatedly that we're foolish and gullible and that our faith is on par with belief in fairies and unicorns? (And who knows . . . maybe on one of those many exoplanets in the universe, there really are fairies and unicorns.)

 

Don't worry. I hold no illusions whatsoever that logic, scientific discourse, words, or deep compassion for the suffering of those who hate will ever have any effect on the core beliefs of those who are more concerned with their "right to be right" than in helping make the world a kinder, gentler place. The only one who can prompt transformative change within the self is one's own self.

 

You can vote me down as many times as you like, but it won't stop me from forgiving these individuals and saying what needs to be said. I'm not the one who comes on this site to demean the faith experience of others.

 

There's an old saying in Common Law that says "a person is assumed to intend the reasonable and probable consequences of his/her actions." So what is the assumption that lies behind the posts of militant atheists who have such a strong presence on an ostensibly-Christian board?

 

For the record, I have no quarrel with those who are genuinely agnostic and who come here seeking insight into their many questions. In my view, it's very healthy to be asking questions and keeping both an open mind (System 2 thought processes) and an open heart (System 1 thought processes).

 

Even Jesus went through this process of questioning and overturning old traditions until he finally found a place a peace and balance within himself (the Kingdom) where he could hear both his own inner wisdom and God's quiet, loving, ever-inspiring voice.

 

And he remained a physician-scholar-polymath in doing so.

 

God bless.

Edited by Realspiritik
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The problem with the extreme examples is that they impact our society - what is taught to children at school (and at home), how laws are made, even how people are harmed. I'm not sure ignoring them is useful or beneficial.

 

But of course I have a list of things that I think we should be doing to make the earth a better place to live.

 

 

For me, making the earth a better place to live, and making a list of things that might help, always starts at the bottom (with neuroscientific research) rather than at the top (with practices such as intercessory prayer that are only a symptom of the underlying neuroscientific realities).

 

For me, I had quite a few questions following the Orlando massacre. I wondered (not for the first time, and not alone, since so many others are also wondering) about the "right to bear arms" in the U.S. (which seems to me a manifestation of the Deist "right to be right," which influenced so many aspects of the early American Constitution). I wondered again about the devastating impact of status addiction on the human brain. I wondered again about DSM issues, such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder, addiction disorders, and the big white elephant in the DSM room (i.e. psychopathy, which has never even made it into the DSM). I wondered again about the way in which certain patterns of biological dysfunction in the brain seem desperately in need of Big Ideas (i.e. ideologies such as radical, well, radical anything) to hold their brain circuits together. I wondered again (in sadness) when we're going to start taking responsibility for teaching our children to use their brains in balanced, holistic ways (with both mind and heart) so children don't have to grow up to become psychopaths.

 

I also reflected in awe and wonder at the examples of heroism and courage that have emerged throughout the continuing ordeal (since, for some people, it isn't over yet) and I again noticed (not for the first time) that even in the midst of terrible suffering, some individuals choose to go deep into their core soul strength and find the deep love and compassion they didn't even know they had.

 

This deep love and compassion isn't a "gift" from God that's given to us externally. It's part of who we really are, yet so often we struggle against this reality and pretend we're not capable of such awe-inspiring love and courage.

 

Many Christians talk about surrendering to God. But the hard part is surrendering to the true extent of our inner courage, trust, gratitude, and devotion.

 

In our ability to enter the Kingdom (to surrender not to God, but to our own inner ability to love) we're all equal.

Edited by Realspiritik
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I'm not clear, Paul, whether you're criticizing those who say they're praying for the massacre victims or whether you're criticizing those who are stupid enough (in your view) to believe in God -- or at least in a God who can intervene. Perhaps both?

Jen

Firstly, I don't think stupidity has anything to do with it. If fact, very intelligent people hold all sorts of beliefs that make absolutely no sense to the general population. Often, even in the face of logical science. Having those beliefs doesn't make them stupid in my opinion, even if I can't accept their beliefs.

 

But I don't think you were really asking that question.

 

Who I am referring to includes the types of people that pray but then do nothing themselves to prevent such a reoccurrence. I also include the type of people who pray expecting a God to intervene - the ones who use System 2 type thinking is how I think you describe it.

 

I can see the benefits of prayer as like meditation if it helps the individual 'look within' and draw upon their own pre-existing strength that is somehow realised and utilised and I am pleased Joseph pointed that out because I wasn't nuanced enough to delve into all aspects of prayer when I first posted.

 

Initially my frustration was being voiced whilst I was asking myself "just what do these people think their God is going to do in response to a massacre under His watch", particularly in the context that according to another religion (or sect of that religion) believed that their God had answered their prayers!

 

As an aside, do you think extremist Muslims are stupid for believing that God answered their prayers in slaughtering 50 or so gay people, and/or do you think it stupid that they continue to pray to their God for the continued murder of every individual who doesn't believe as they believe? In that context would 'stupid' be an appropriate word to use for them?

Edited by PaulS
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For me, making the earth a better place to live, and making a list of things that might help, always starts at the bottom (with neuroscientific research) rather than at the top (with practices such as intercessory prayer that are only a symptom of the underlying neuroscientific realities).

 

I don't understand what you're saying here. A list is starting at the bottom rather than starting at the top, with intercessory prayer, which you say is also bunk?

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I don't understand what you're saying here. A list is starting at the bottom rather than starting at the top, with intercessory prayer, which you say is also bunk?

 

Hi Paul,

 

I'm saying that, for me, the list of things that might help the world begins by starting at the bottom with the root causes of the behaviours that create suffering. I see intercessory prayer as something that grows at the top of the tree, as it were, with intercessory prayer being a "symptom" or a "fruit" of the underlying (or root) choices being made in the brain's biological circuits. Intercessory prayer is typically used by people who are suffering from status addiction without realizing -- or without accepting -- their brains are wired to seek out and cling to sources of status. (Telling yourself that God has to listen to and obey "the right sort of prayer" is a form of status addiction.)

 

I think the general idea was somewhat clear in my original post. But perhaps you and I are using the same idiom to mean two different things. That, or I should have had another cup of coffee before I hit "post." Sorry for any confusion.

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I've reread your original post several times, Paul, and it still seems to me that you're criticizing those who believe in a God who intervenes. In your own words, you say, "Now I'm sure some people pray in the sense that they wish the deceased and their surviving families well, but again, who do they think is listening? And IF that entity is listening, why do they expect that entity to take any action now, after the event? In fact, when in the history of mankind have they ever seen such an entity intervene, or when do they think they will?"

 

I based my reaction on your words and also on the tone of your words. Then you went on to say, "Firstly, I don't think stupidity has anything to do with it. If fact, very intelligent people hold all sorts of beliefs that make absolutely no sense to the general population. Often, even in the face of logical science. Having those beliefs doesn't make them stupid in my opinion, even if I can't accept their beliefs."

 

So really . . . come on, now, Paul . . . although you didn't use the word "stupid" in your opening post (I'm using the Canadian Oxford Dictionary definition of "stupid" in this context, meaning "showing lack of good judgment; foolish; obtuse; lacking in sensibility; general term of disparagement), aren't you criticizing those who believe in a God who can intervene?

 

You certainly seem to be criticizing a lot of people of faith. But you also say you're talking about "the types of people that pray but then do nothing themselves to prevent such a reoccurrence." I agree with you about the hypocrisy of that kind of behaviour, but, sadly, it isn't just the people who pray who are guilty of this kind of hypocrisy.

 

On that note, I like something I saw in Saturday's Toronto Star about Australia's highly effective response to a mass shooting that took place in 1996 . According to the sidebar, the Australian government responded by implementing a massive mandatory gun buyback program. Apparently, 650,000 legally owned guns were peacefully seized, an estimated 20% of all privately owned guns in Australia were removed, and the rates of gun-related suicides and homicides dropped substantially.

 

That's an awesome response that the rest of the world should sit up and take notice of!

Edited by Realspiritik
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I've reread your original post several times, Paul, and it still seems to me that you're criticizing those who believe in a God who intervenes..........

 

I based my reaction on your words and also on the tone of your words..........

 

So really . . . come on, now, Paul . . . although you didn't use the word "stupid" in your opening post (I'm using the Canadian Oxford Dictionary definition of "stupid" in this context, meaning "showing lack of good judgment; foolish; obtuse; lacking in sensibility; general term of disparagement), aren't you criticizing those who believe in a God who can intervene?.........

 

You certainly seem to be criticizing a lot of people of faith. But you also say you're talking about "the types of people that pray but then do nothing themselves to prevent such a reoccurrence." I agree with you about the hypocrisy of that kind of behaviour, but, sadly, it isn't just the people who pray who are guilty of this kind of hypocrisy..........

 

I am criticising the actions, or lack of action I should say, of those who believe in a God who intervenes, but I'm not calling them stupid. I think there is a difference.

 

I'm sure my 'tone' sounds different to everybody reading my posts, such is the shortcomings of the written word. Just like the bible, people are left to interpret what they think the words mean! Luckily a forum gives us the opportunity to discuss with the author what they actually mean.

 

You yourself note the shortcomings of belief in intercessory prayer - so do you think these people are stupid?

 

Maybe I am criticising a lot of people of faith, but I think that's because a lot of people of faith are sitting on their hands expecting God to do something about this man-made situation, but not prepared to do anything themselves. Maybe a nicer person would keep their opinion to themselves, but I was posting to voice my frustration at this hypocrisy. You seem to agree with me, but are just saying it couched in less confrontational language perhaps.

 

But now that you've got me talking about this, what do you think of people of faith who pray to their God to kill people who don't share their beliefs? Do you think it is stupid to believe in a violent God who is pleased whenever one of his children blows up 50 infidels? Do you think it is stupid to apply level 2 thinking and believe that God needs to be fought for in this earthly realm no matter how much harm may be caused to others?

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There's a difference between being a person of religion and being a person of faith. From what I can tell, you're unhappy with the people of religion who are being hypocritical, judgmental, and filled with hatred towards others. I, too, am unhappy with the people of religion who claim to be speaking for God and with God and through God, but whose actions and emotions don't match their stated belief in God.

 

A person of faith, on the other hand, may or may not belong to an organized religious group. A person of faith -- that is, a person who has experienced God's presence in their lives in positive, loving, affirming ways -- does not pray to God to blow up non-believers.

 

The man who committed such terrible deeds in Orlando was a human being with serious issues that can only be understand from a neurological and psychiatric perspective. He didn't even claim allegiance to his "newfound cause" till he was already inside the nightclub. What he did has nothing to do with faith or God. He may have used the words, but he wasn't speaking from his heart and soul; he was speaking from some seriously messed up brain circuits that had fallen into the terrible brain habits of narcissism, hatred, anger, vengeance, and psychopathy (none of which have anything to do with God or faith).

 

I have deep compassion for any human being who has messed up his/her own brain so badly that killing a lot of innocent people seems like a good idea. I forgive those who blame others for their own mistakes and I forgive those who think vengeance is ever an acceptable way out of pain and suffering. It must be awful -- even terrifying -- to be inside your own head and hear such hateful things going round and round without peace, healing, or respite.

 

So no. I don't think of it in terms of logic or intelligence or stupidity or ignorance. I think of it in terms of free will gone astray, addiction problems run rampant, and the suffering of individual human beings who can no longer hear the infinite kindness and wisdom of their own souls.

 

But it's not just in matters of faith and/or religion where I see these same issues of free will gone astray, addiction problems, and suffering. I see this same suffering in all aspects of human life where people allow themselves to absorb and accept unloving cultural habits -- whether it's in physical and mental health, education, job-seeking, connection with Nature, or anything else that matters to us.

 

Religion is just one sphere of life where we seem to be really screwing up. I don't think we'll find peace within ourselves or our communities until we start being more honest with ourselves about how our brain-soul nexus really works. (I know you don't believe in a brain-soul nexus, Paul, but this is how I see it and this is what the neuroscience is slowly starting to point towards.)

 

God bless,

Jen

Edited by Realspiritik
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In fairness, when i read the post, i think Paul qualified it at the beginning as "a bit of a rant" out of frustration probably at something he read. And then he posed the rest of his statements as questions with a question mark showing he was open and looking for views or opinions from others on the issue wanting to see how others felt . He seems to be open and the rant seems more questioning of his own thoughts than the purpose of criticizing others. To me, his last statement closes the rant and expresses interest on how others see it. Seems to have made for an interesting discussion and some good points to ponder which we need more of here.

Joseph

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Paul

I don't think we can explain these things solely in terms of neurology and psychiatry. While no doubt very important there are other considerations like gun culture of the US, societal acceptance of homosexuals and what his particular brand of religion suggested to him as a reasonable course of action.

 

Did he have faith he was doing the reasonable thing? I don't know. But I certainly hope so; in that doing such terrible thing when you are not sure would not make any sense at all to me.

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I think they pray as a substitute to act because they are not at the point to consciously act and I also feel it is a first step because they notice and are verbally making a statement for others to act instead of them, but their next step usually is to act if they can overcome their fear.

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