Growing up without religion


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I have fantasized about how it would be to grow up with Objectivist parents without religious indoctination. Or not even Objectivist parents, just without the religion.

Yes, religion for a youngster can provide some good as a moral compass, but I think the harm far outweighs the potential good, which of course can be provided in other ways not religious.

I wish I had not grown up with religion. It profoundly affects a child's development and leaves a permanent impression that can never be completely undone. For better or for worse, who I am today was affected by what happened 50-58 years ago, even though my reasoning self has rejected religion for the last 40 years.

Congrats to all you parents out there who have kept religion away from your children.

Dennis

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Hi, Dennis.

My parents were definitely not O'ists but put a toe or two into religion. I had very very little exposure to it growing up. I had a big 2 or 3 week whopping stint into it and even then didn't take it seriously and thought it was a joke and was something other people chose to do. My parents were mormons. Well, I should say baptized as mormons and grew up in their own families practicing it but later rejected it and didn't push it onto me or my sister. I was never baptized so I guess I can say I am pure that way....LOL Since God was very rarely brought up in my home, my parents gave us a choice that if we wanted to pursue it when we got older, it would be our choice.

My sister pursued it when she was 16 I think and finally baptized and was hardcore into it for a period of time and then stopped. For me, at such a young age when asked if I was going to pursue it as my sister did and finally be baptized, etc., I said of all things, no, it's evil. LOL. The short period of 2 to 3 weeks where I actually did open up a bible, I never even read it. I was there to play so I actually found myself defacing it and drawing my artwork in the bible.

So I would say that I am fortunate and can truly say, I'm as pure as they come and I am one human who truly hasn't been touched by it. Even though religion is everywhere, there are people such as myself out there that have never been exposed to it, who never even knew who Mary was, etc. I know of someone named Jesus and a guy named -- see, shows how much I know of religion and the people involved. I can't even remember his name. The ten commandments guy, Moses. See, I knew I'd remember it. So religion has never been a part of my life and obviously is not something that is necessary for me to know about in order to sustain my life. I'm one of the very few and fortunate humans walking this earth who truly have never been touched by it. Believe it or not, I've learned more about religion on the O'ist sites than I have in my entire life. And quite frankly, since I was never exposed to it other than my 2 to 3 week stint as a child and what I've been exposed to on O'ist sites, I truly have no desire/want to pursue any knowledge into it. I've managed to stay clear of it this long and plan on keeping it that way.

Obviously for me, religion was never a part of my life and is not a necessary aspect for ME as a human to survive. Proud to be Pure in that way !! But if someone feels the need to get into it or practice it, that's their choice. I don't have a problem with it just as long as they don't push it onto me and I won't push my way of life onto them.

Very Pure

Angie

Clarification: The very very few times I did walk into a church when I was very young, I didn't like being in there one bit. At that time and being so young, I couldn't identify why I got such bad feelings being in there. All I knew and the only words I could put to it at that time was that there was something bad about it and eventually put the word "evil" to it. Although I knew people who went to church, friends, etc., and my knowing this, I did find myself, when my life was getting brutal by others around me and unbearable, I did find myself, the very few times, praying for him or just someone to help make my situation better. But I quickly realized that no one could help my situation other than myself and it was up to me to make the best of my situation until I could get out and eventually I did and made the choice to finally leave and it was one of the best choices I have ever made !!

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Once again-

Making blanket assumptions about "religion" is, er... unfortunate and suboptimal [-X

Religion is a big thing- best to be specific when criticizing.

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Hi Angie,

Very interesting, thank you for sharing your story.

Unfortunately, there must be a great many parents who are not so much into religion that they go to church every week, pray outloud at meals, etc., but who, nevertheless, believe that their young children should and need to be indoctrinated into the teachings of the Church. I'm glad that your parents were not that way.

Dennis

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I like the religious education programs at my church, because they are more like history of religion classes. The idea is to provide a wide exposure to various types of spirituality (including atheism), and giving them what they need in order to make an informed decision as to what is right for them (if anything at all).

Also, when dealing with Western literature, art, music, etc. it is a pretty important thing to have at least a working knowledge of the Bible, as there are so many references.

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Rich, maybe you can answer a question for me. We have been talking for quite a few months now privately. I am well aware of the different religions and interpretations of it. You have told me quite a bit, especially about yours which has been quite interesting to learn about. I don't have a problem with this. We all have our own way of life and what we think is best for ourselves. We have shared quite a bit with each other over these past few months. Yes, I do admit that I came to harsh conclusions about religion very early on. Even though I had a very brief stint with it, I knew enough about it from watching others, etc., to know it was not for me and that it gave me the heebie jeebies and that it was bad. Remember I was extremely young at this age. I just didn't like the idea of praying to something you couldn't see, etc. Just as you have said that people who have had bad experiences with it, typically get a knee jerk reaction when presented with it. When we first started talking about this, I had no reaction of that sort. I have not been exposed to it so I have never developed a belief in it at all. But I do know that it is not for me. I know enough of it already to make that determination. You do not have to read the bible or what have you to make that determination.

I find it very interesting when I talk with people that are into religion, not you, but others, etc., that when I tell them I have almost nill exposure to it, didn't even know who Mary was and that I have no desire to engage it they become very defensive. To me, it almost seems as a threat to them that there are people out there that truly do not know about religion but these people are still surviving and flourishing and are happy.

Since you are into religion and I know about your religion already and don't have a problem with it, why is it people get such a knee jerk reaction and seem threatened or defensive by it when I say I don't know anyhing about it?

I have my opinions but just wanting a perspective from someone that is religious and practices it.

Angie

And also, I'm not into art and never have been. I love museums, etc., but not much of an art buff. You know I love music but do not listen to Christian Rock, etc. You know, I am definitely a rock and roll fan amongst many other genres. But I'm also not a musician. I also enjoy reading when I can get the time but have never had a problem understanding it if there are some religious aspects to it or a few words brought up here and there, etc. So even if the religious influence is there as it is in society as a whole anyway, it's not a detriment to understanding your surroundings, your readings, etc.

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Rich,

You really want to do finger wagging about religion on yet another objectivist website?

How about this: ALL superstitious belief is...."unfortunate and suboptimal".

Specifically, whatever crap you're into, I don't want to hear it.

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Rich, I'm an atheist through and through. I'm interested in your personal spiritual quest. I'm interested in seeing what touches on the parts of human nature that Objectivism might miss. I think it might point the way to where Objectivism needs to grow. If I'm not mistaken, you are atheist looking to fill the spiritual gaps in Objectivism. Is this accurate?

Mikee, Rich is speaking quietly. Try not listening if you don't want to hear it. Some people might find it of value.

Thanks,

Paul

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Paul,

I've had all the finger wagging I can stand in one lifetime. My understanding of objectivism is not only atheism, but individualism. Rich is decidely not an individualist if he needs to find "spirituality" in a "church". My opinion. I believe I share a contempt for religion and the idea of "god" with Ayn Rand and I don't apologize for it. Perhaps Rich can have his say without the finger wagging?

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Mikee wrote:

My understanding of objectivism is not only atheism, but individualism. Rich is decidely not an individualist if he needs to find "spirituality" in a "church".

I do not make this equation. Individualism is more about actualizing one's potential and discovering the route to fullfilment while maintaining one's authentic perspective, not about pulling away from the group. Being an individual in social contexts takes many forms. I think learning to be an individualist in social contexts is a challenge to our personal evolution.

Paul

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Paul,

"I do not make this equation. Individualism is more about actualizing one's potential and discovering the route to fullfilment while maintaining one's authentic perspective, not about pulling away from the group."

I recommend the trader principle to fulfill your desires in this regard. Several books come to mind: "Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal", "Human Action", and others. Religion has been historically a major enemy of this principle.

"Being an individual in social contexts takes many forms. I think learning to be an individualist in social contexts is a challenge to our personal evolution."

I recommend a quote from "Anthem" which I have incidentally been carrying on my person for the last forty years which begins with "I am neither foe nor friend to my brothers, but such as each of them shall deserve of me. And to earn my love, my brothers must do more than to have been born."

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Angie said:

"Since you are into religion and I know about your religion already and don't have a problem with it, why is it people get such a knee jerk reaction and seem threatened or defensive by it when I say I don't know anyhing about it?"

Never experienced that, but I could see it happening with some folks. I suppose a more typical reaction would be them wanting to tell you all about what they're into. And in the case of the more missionary/witnessing types, they'd move into a sales pitch.

My experiences with knee-jerk reactions are more along the lines of what Mikee here has been up to. Speaking of, a few things directly to Mikee:

I don't do finger-wagging; that is your characterization and I will not wear it. I simply happen to be someone that has 26 years of Objectivism (accompanied by atheism, according to requirements stated in the operating manual) who experienced a spiritual change, and, rather than throwing out the baby with the bathwater, saw the possibility of doing a healthy integration. Whether or not you think that is possible is a non-issue, the situations and circumstances are unique for everyone. Whether or not you prefer a sanitized, O-only forum world is your issue, not mine. I have reasons to be here, not the least of which being that I have put in my time. Your reaction, I must say, is nothing new to me. I am OK with it.

Your reaction, in fact, is not unlike what would happen if you or I attempted to dialogue in a fundamentalist religion's environment. Think about that, maybe.

But in the end, it all comes from the same places, which are the ignorance and resulting fear from which none of us are entirely immune. My interest lies in dialogue, and building bridges of tolerance, and understanding- two qualities I consider to be generally unfortunately suboptimal within the O-world- two qualities that act as major limiters.

Few of us have been very good at that lately. In honesty, I would have been content to go about different things- but for some reason, the recent BBQing attempt on Chris Sciabarra seemed to be the backbreaking straw that prompted quite a few of us to pick up the sword. That is a topic not for here; my point is that it speaks to just how difficult tolerance and understanding can actually get.

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Paul asks me if I don't believe in doG:

"If I'm not mistaken, you are atheist looking to fill the spiritual gaps in Objectivism. Is this accurate?"

Not accurate, no. It gets dicey. For instance, you might be able to say I am atheist in that I don't believe in the stereotypical guy-in-the-sky sort of thing. I am closer to, say, spiritual monism. I'm not looking to fill spiritual gaps in O'ism. I believe spiritual gaps go to each individual; whether they feel they are experiencing any or not.

It has appeared to me for a very long time that many Objectivists have a limited (and often traumatized) knowledge of religion in general. Often, it is at the level of not being able to (or not bothering to), when in debate, distinguish basic differences between things ecclesiastic and individual spiritual experience, or credal religions from covenant based ones. There is much more, such as the general weak grasp of hermeneutics. Even the blanket conception of mysticism I have tried to peel.

I have basically moved to being an integrator. I also know, as I have stated earlier, that hostility to other belief systems is (heh) suboptimal, counterproductive, and can often be relieved by dialoguing with the perceived "enemy." My foundations are reason, reverence, tolerance, and freedom.

Yes, that's right, I said reason.

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Rich, you wrote:

*I am closer to, say, spiritual monism....I believe spiritual gaps go to each individual; whether they feel they are experiencing any or not.*

I think I expressed myself poorly with, “you are atheist looking to fill the spiritual gaps in Objectivism.” My thought better expressed would be: there is more to your being than Objectivism, as it stands, can encompass. If correct, what is this “more?” Also, would you mind expanding on the idea of spiritual monism?

Just an added note: when I first began to read your posts about 2 years ago on Branden’s Yahoo forum, you struck me as being more angry and aggressive than today. It’s just a general impression but, right or wrong, this is my impression. Does this impression have any basis in reality? If yes, what is the root of the change?

Paul

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Y'know Michael, I'm not the funniest guy around but I make a great set-up man. I'll be Mr. Smoketomuch. You and the rest of the "Flying Circus" can sit there and be bright.

"Is your wife a sport, eh, eh? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink! Say no more. Does she go, eh? Does she go? I bet she does! I bet she does! He's wicked eh, wicked eh? Say no more! Nudge, nudge, wink, wink! Say no more! A nods as good as a wink to a blind bat, eh, eh?"

btw-- My wife is not so fond of cricket but she doesn't mind hockey. You could say she likes sport, eh?

Paul

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Mikee, you wrote:

* Paul,  

"I do not make this equation. Individualism is more about actualizing one's potential and discovering the route to fullfilment while maintaining one's authentic perspective, not about pulling away from the group."  

I recommend the trader principle to fulfill your desires in this regard. Several books come to mind: "Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal", "Human Action", and others. Religion has been historically a major enemy of this principle.

"Being an individual in social contexts takes many forms. I think learning to be an individualist in social contexts is a challenge to our personal evolution."  

I recommend a quote from "Anthem" which I have incidentally been carrying on my person for the last forty years which begins with "I am neither foe nor friend to my brothers, but such as each of them shall deserve of me. And to earn my love, my brothers must do more than to have been born."*

I don’t want to give you the wrong idea. My interest in religion is purely a matter of objective study. I am curious about it in the same way I am curious about physics and psychology and philosophy. I want to understand the underlying causation of it. I want to understand the psychological, social, and philosophical dynamics from which it arose. I want to understand the dynamics of what maintains its presence when I think there are certainly better philosophical options. I want to understand the parts of human nature it touches, especially the parts that Objectivism does not touch.

The “trader principle,” as I interpret it, is based on a perspective of social reality that sees individuals as islands of consciousness, as atoms that act and interact in a linear and local fashion. This is no different to the class of causation found in Newton’s laws of motion. We maintain our subjective separateness and collide like billiard balls.

Each of us is also able to experience ourselves, to a greater or lesser extent depending on the person’s openness to this orientation, as a consciousness existing in an interconnected web of relationships to the world of objects and the world of subjects. In this orientation we exist in a state of flow with our objective and/or subjective environment. This flow state is in a causal class with quantum field theory in physics. Elementary particles and people behave as, and can be conceived as, nodes in a web, whereby the actions of the web as a whole act upon the individual nodes and the individual nodes act on the web as a whole. This is a model of nonlocal, nonlinear causation.

Philosophically, I think Objectivism attacks this state as being that of the collectivist spirit, of the mystics, of the brutes, of the tribal mentality. Psychologically, I think many Objectivists disown this part of themselves, repressing unwanted parts of WHO THEY ARE. My thinking is: if healthy existence is measured by the standard of integration, then this approach inherent in Objectivism, which causes and maintains the disintegration of the self, is patently unhealthy and against the basic Objectivist principle of self-interest.

What is needed is not the attack and suppression of this orientation of consciousness in ourselves, but the owning and integrating of it. I don’t think that enjoying a mental state in which we can be in flow with our physical and social environment is evil. But I think Rand thought so. Most who follow her lead think so too. And most who reject Objectivism, do so because Objectivism rejects this (and possibly other) important part(s) of who they are.

I think there are healthy ways to experience this flow with our physical and social environment and there are unhealthy ways. Being in a flow state with one’s environment does not mean losing the self. It means trusting the self. If what a thing is determines what it does, then the identity of the node is incredibly important in determining its actions in response to the web. When talking about people this means having a strong sense of self-- a strong, authentic personal identity, and a strong set of values-- produces different behaviour than not having such when in flow. I think one of the consequences of a highly evolved self-esteem is to be able to trust one’s own actions in situations of social flow. Disowning the part of ourselves that has this capacity is a sign we don’t trust ourselves. It is both the sign that our self-esteem is inadequate and the cause for our self-esteem in such contexts to be inadequate. Low self-esteem people lose themselves in social flow situations and are not good at evaluating the quality of their field. High self-esteem people do not lose themselves and are intimately aware of the nature of their social field.

I think that many people, possibly including Rich, who are drawn to some form of church, are looking to experience a healthy social flow environment. I get that.

Of course, the development of self-esteem, in all aspects of their selves, needs to be encouraged when raising our children. ( I had to find some way to tie this to the original thread.)

(Note to Michael: the objective/subjective flow orientation reminds me of your "Hunter.")

Paul

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Now, now, Boys, if that nudge, nudge, wink, wink not fond of cricket but likes hockey was in reference to me and Rich being nudge, nudge, wink, wink, let's get it on type deal, I will assure you it is not. We are turning into good friends and have been talking through email for many months now and have shared much between friends. You know, guys and gals can have a wonderful relationship without gettin' the groove on.

Although my cock eyed friend Gary is lookin' mighty fine these days....as Kat says, gals that slip on banana peels have a tendency to go for the guys with the big weenies !! Woohoo...bring it on, Baby !! Hey, my cock eyed friend, nudge, nudge wink, wink !! Just kidding.....LOL I'm so rude, pardon if I offended anyone with my vulgarities. :D

Although, women do have a tendency to calm men down. But I will assure you it's not me that has done this to my little friend. :D

Angie

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So Angie-

Does that mean we're not going to the drive-in this weekend? I'll have to cancel my flight. :-#

rde

Will fly anywhere for a decent booty call.

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Damn, Rich, you just had to go and spill our little secret. Hush, Hush :-$

Screw the drive-in, mile high club is looking pretty damn tasty about now, oh, so much fun.....Woohooo !! Shit, Rich, if you're willing to fly anywhere, does that mean my booty is pretty damn decent ?? :D Although, you and a few others actually have seen what I look like. Yes, all, I sent pictures but not of my booty of course !! ;-) LMAO.

Come on now, Rich, no need to cancel that flight. We've been plannin' this for a while now. It's all set up, no need to spoil the fun now because our little hush hush private talks are now out in the open !!

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I've changed our date anyway, Angie. We're doing that "have dinner with Perigo" gig in L.A. I want to hear what kinds of eating and drinking noises he makes. I understand the main entree' is Chaucerian Roast Bore.

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So yuck to that one...just the thought of the whining and squealing and snorting sounds and food flyin' everywhere. Just the visual on that is making me want to blow chunks. Disgusting. And on top of it, I've seen pix of him so it makes the visual even more disturbing.

Can't stop laughing right now. I just looked back up and started reading the first sentence and my mindset is towards the dirty deed right now and I just can't stop laughing, you know, whining, snorting, food flyin' everywhere....oh, that's too much. I would hate to see that one...that would be pretty scary, whining and snorting and food flyin' But can't stop laughing. Wow

Yeah, I know, I have a weird sense of humor.

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Thanks, Angie, those were sexy pix. Where'd you get the cat suit? :D/

I really think you should reconsider on this dinner invite. I'm sure they're using dropcloths and pressure sprayers; it'll be alright.

rde

That Chaucerian Bore entree got me all horned up and

wanting to make with the revelry, merriment, and wench-ravishing.

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So you like my cat suit. If you like that one, I have a French maid and a very sexy and sultry pirate wench outfit that's very eye pleasing !!

Okay, we so have to stop this because this is so going to get out of hand and tummy hurts so bad from laughing so much. So shame on us but it's so much fun. :D/

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