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Valiant Dancer
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USA
4826 Posts

Posted - 11/16/2011 :  07:41:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Valiant Dancer's Homepage Send Valiant Dancer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

Originally posted by Kil

I dunno. Why don't you ask Val that question?
I've been hoping he'd jump in here, anytime.


Sorry, had to see the doc about a cough going on for 10 weeks. Thought it was asthmatic bronchitis brought about by environmental issues. When it took a sideways push into periodic chills, I thought it best to talk to a professional. Turns out I have a sinus infection.

I don't see why I should be treated any differently than any other skeptic. My beliefs on religion are not rational and not evidentiary based. And your NOMA criticism is valid. There is some overlap, but I have done my level best to minimize it's impact.

I use the archetypes to set a goal for myself. I have found it easier to improve myself by setting up these concepts and then giving them some power over my actions subconsciously by referring to them as aspects of the devine. (Your mileage may vary.)


And I don't say that their beliefs can't or shouldn't be questioned. That's not me. My position is that if they hold such a belief, and get that their belief is not consistant with skepticism, as Val seems to understand, I'll still welcome them to the table if what they bring is mostly reasonable. I haven't changed my position on that one iota in all of these years.
And we're in complete agreement, there. My rant is rather out of place. I apologize.


No problem with questioning those beliefs at all.


I don't know how we got here in this thread.
Well, I'll tell you: it was the "science can't answer some questions" thing. It seems to me that some big-name skeptics (Barbara included) are content to let questions like "does god exist?" alone and simply declare them off-limits to science. My problem is that "does god exist?" is a meaningless question because "god" isn't defined with any rigor. Religious people who ponder that question have a particular definition of "god" in mind when they ask it, and many of those particular definitions are amenable to scientific investigation. The problem isn't that "does god exist?" isn't scientific, it's that it's not meaningful within any epistemology (not even a religious one) without first declaring what is meant by "god."

In other words, the question is only unanswerable because it's vague, not because it's inherently unscientific. But some skeptics will harp on about scientific precision and then turn around and declare "god questions" off-limits without even attempting to pin down any characteristics in a wholly unskeptical fashion.

Try a different example: if you didn't know what money is, could you use science to answer the question, "does money exist?" Of course not.


Quite correct. God(dess), in this case, is not the diety. It is instead behavioral archetypes that are strived towards. The diety is purposefully vague and ill-defined.

Cthulhu/Asmodeus when you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils

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bngbuck
SFN Addict

USA
2437 Posts

Posted - 11/16/2011 :  11:57:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send bngbuck a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Val.....

You state:
I don't see why I should be treated any differently than any other skeptic. My beliefs on religion are not rational and not evidentiary based. And your NOMA criticism is valid. There is some overlap, but I have done my level best to minimize it's impact.
Followed by:
God(dess), in this case, is not the diety. It is instead behavioral archetypes that are strived towards. The diety is purposefully vague and ill-defined.
Taking both of the above statements at absolute point-blank face value, can you please explain why there is any need in your personal philosophy for the mumbo-jumbo terminology and superstitious ideation of gods and goddesses? And any or all of the fantastical frippery that seems to be part and parcel of the practice of Wicca?

Even permitting the concept of supernatural entities to be a part of your introspective desire for self-improvement seems to me to be somewhat hypocritical in view of...
My beliefs on religion are not rational and not evidentiary based. And your NOMA criticism is valid.
.... and:
No problem with questioning those beliefs at all.
You not only welcome criticism of your admitted superstitions regarding imaginary deities, you call them out for what they are while simultaneously expressing a need for and a belief in them. I am having a very difficult time reconciling these aspects of your religious, or if you prefer, spiritual, beliefs.

The compartmentalization (self-view internal reality versus world-view external reality, each insulated from the other) appears to me to be contrived; as in a Catholic believer's attempt to have his Eucharistic cake and eat it, sanguine or not, too.

I don't see why I should be treated any differently than any other skeptic.


Val, perhaps the apparent self-contradictions mentioned above are why some here are looking at you as a different kind of skeptic.

I, for one, cannot see the logical rationale for turning the Critical Thinking switch on and off, depending upon what aspect pf cognition one is examining. I personally harbor certain reservations about the internal consistency of CT and its efficacy as the best logical tool for evaluating "all claims of fact" , as stated in SFN;s Mission Statement. However, that is grist for another mill that has been ground here before and probably will again. I don't wish to confuse or dilute the subject matter at hand; i.e. Is spirituality consistent with the rigorous acceptance of and application of Critical Thinking.

However, if one is going to embrace such a regimen as Critical Thinking as the best methodology available; it does not make any sense to me that it can be utilized arbitrarily and selectively, depending upon the justification that is needed to support a belief system.
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Valiant Dancer
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USA
4826 Posts

Posted - 11/16/2011 :  12:35:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Valiant Dancer's Homepage Send Valiant Dancer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by bngbuck

Val.....

You state:
I don't see why I should be treated any differently than any other skeptic. My beliefs on religion are not rational and not evidentiary based. And your NOMA criticism is valid. There is some overlap, but I have done my level best to minimize it's impact.
Followed by:
God(dess), in this case, is not the diety. It is instead behavioral archetypes that are strived towards. The diety is purposefully vague and ill-defined.
Taking both of the above statements at absolute point-blank face value, can you please explain why there is any need in your personal philosophy for the mumbo-jumbo terminology and superstitious ideation of gods and goddesses? And any or all of the fantastical frippery that seems to be part and parcel of the practice of Wicca?


It doesn't impact others, so this is a bit of irrationality that makes me feel a bit better. The frippery serve to fill some need for ritual and spirituality. This is the best fit for me. I am quite a bit emotionally invested in the religion.


Even permitting the concept of supernatural entities to be a part of your introspective desire for self-improvement seems to me to be somewhat hypocritical in view of...
My beliefs on religion are not rational and not evidentiary based. And your NOMA criticism is valid.
.... and:
No problem with questioning those beliefs at all.
You not only welcome criticism of your admitted superstitions regarding imaginary deities, you call them out for what they are while simultaneously expressing a need for and a belief in them. I am having a very difficult time reconciling these aspects of your religious, or if you prefer, spiritual, beliefs.


It is a bit hypocritical, but no more so than any other religion. (I will recognize atheism as a religion when I recognize bald as a hair color.) I just recognize that religion cannot be singled out as a sacred cow for conversation. Right now, it's mostly harmless. If it ever gets to a point where it no longer is, I may re-examine whether the religion fits my needs.


The compartmentalization (self-view internal reality versus world-view external reality, each insulated from the other) appears to me to be contrived; as in a Catholic believer's attempt to have his Eucharistic cake and eat it, sanguine or not, too.


Except that transubstantiation requires a leap of faith directly into science's path. Our festivals percieve at the cakes and wine as representations of the harvest.


I don't see why I should be treated any differently than any other skeptic.


Val, perhaps the apparent self-contradictions mentioned above are why some here are looking at you as a different kind of skeptic.

I, for one, cannot see the logical rationale for turning the Critical Thinking switch on and off, depending upon what aspect pf cognition one is examining. I personally harbor certain reservations about the internal consistency of CT and its efficacy as the best logical tool for evaluating "all claims of fact" , as stated in SFN;s Mission Statement. However, that is grist for another mill that has been ground here before and probably will again. I don't wish to confuse or dilute the subject matter at hand; i.e. Is spirituality consistent with the rigorous acceptance of and application of Critical Thinking.


Hence why I do not often bring up my religion unless it is germaine to the conversation at hand. I think we are all a little different. Sometimes we have flights of fancy or irrationality for entertainment. Mine fulfills a need that I have but others may not necessarily have. I think spirituality is more of a vague appreciation for art/nature/symbology/ritual that some people have.


However, if one is going to embrace such a regimen as Critical Thinking as the best methodology available; it does not make any sense to me that it can be utilized arbitrarily and selectively, depending upon the justification that is needed to support a belief system.


CT is usefull in most regards. However, there are some in which it is not. Emotional responses and how one reacts to them is one example. The CT answer may make the situation worse. By focusing on the stated issue, the unstated, nonverbal issue gets missed.

Cthulhu/Asmodeus when you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils

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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 11/16/2011 :  12:40:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I always got the impression that Val knows Wiccan mythology isn't true in the literal sense, but still finds it a cathartic, social experience that leads to greater self-awareness and self-improvement. A kind of self-conscious role-playing that is nevertheless engaged in seriously, maybe similar to a "cultural Christian" who rejects the supernatural but still participates in the religious rites. Valiant Dancer, would you say that's an accurate description of your views or do I misunderstand?


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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Valiant Dancer
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USA
4826 Posts

Posted - 11/16/2011 :  12:58:51   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Valiant Dancer's Homepage Send Valiant Dancer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by H. Humbert

I always got the impression that Val knows Wiccan mythology isn't true in the literal sense, but still finds it a cathartic, social experience that leads to greater self-awareness and self-improvement. A kind of self-conscious role-playing that is nevertheless engaged in seriously, maybe similar to a "cultural Christian" who rejects the supernatural but still participates in the religious rites. Valiant Dancer, would you say that's an accurate description of your views or do I misunderstand?




Logically I know that. Emotionally, it fills a need.

Cthulhu/Asmodeus when you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils

Brother Cutlass of Reasoned Discussion
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 11/16/2011 :  21:51:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Bngbuck wrote:
Taking both of the above statements at absolute point-blank face value, can you please explain why there is any need in your personal philosophy for the mumbo-jumbo terminology and superstitious ideation of gods and goddesses?
Words have power. They can take on very subjective connotations. Why do I feel a strong desire to claim the word "spiritual" for atheist use? Also, the context in which we frame our sense of meaning in life can be very important to us as individuals. I am content with explicitly atheistic framing of my worldview (the whole bit I wrote about earlier in this thread about being in awe of the mystery itself, and so on.) But I don't expect such framing to work for everyone. It seems that the terminology, imagery, stories, and characters contained in Wicca resonate best for Val. But the skeptic in him won't allow him to take it all too literally. That seems a fair compromise to me, especially since I know so many depressed atheists who have never found a satisfying way to frame their own worldviews and just wish they could believe in something that they could connect with on an emotional level.

And any or all of the fantastical frippery that seems to be part and parcel of the practice of Wicca?
I'm not sure what this specifically refers to. The word "practice" suggests to me that you are talking about rituals or actual actions taken as an adherent to the religion. But ritual can be completely divorced from literal belief, and thus is never necessarily in conflict with critical thinking. For instance, let's say I have a special emotionally attachment to my Catholic upbringing, so I occasionally go to church where I sing the songs and chant the prayers with everyone else as a way of achieving some personal, emotionally gratification. I can do that all and still maintain a secular worldview when it comes to literal beliefs.

I feel that HH and Val's latest response are also good replies to these comments and concerns.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

Edited by - marfknox on 11/16/2011 21:53:21
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podcat
Skeptic Friend

435 Posts

Posted - 11/16/2011 :  23:21:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send podcat a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't think there should be any objection to having a personal belief. When it goes beyond a personal belief to either influence rational thinking or becomes something that is forced on others, then it becomes a problem.

“In a modern...society, everybody has the absolute right to believe whatever they damn well please, but they don't have the same right to be taken seriously”.

-Barry Williams, co-founder, Australian Skeptics
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 11/17/2011 :  08:17:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
podcat, I agree with what you said with one qualifier added (in bold):

I don't think there should be any objection to having a personal belief. When it goes beyond a personal belief to either influence rational thinking on topics that matter or becomes something that is forced on others, then it becomes a problem.

When it comes to the really big, philosophical questions about, as Douglass Adams put it in Hitchhiker's Guide, "life, the universe, and everything", I really think that what people personally believe doesn't matter, and therefore shouldn't be judged or criticized unless the person invites criticism. (I mean criticized on a personal level. I'm not saying people shouldn't express general criticism of belief systems.)

Part of how I've come to this conclusion is because of scientific discoveries. Specifically, those which have shown us how incredibly small we are in the (at least physical) grand scheme of things. And the history of science that has shown us that even when we are on the right track and learning new things, what we learn about the natural world most often just seems to pose many more questions, and much more complex questions at that. In this vast ocean of uncertainty and complexity, I can sympathize with the need to frame things in a way that is perhaps literally rather silly, but which may resonate on a deeply emotional level. If acceptance of weird beliefs about things that really don't matter (we can't control them or know the truth) doesn't bleed over into false beliefs about things that do matter (like whether to vaccinate our kids or let gay people adopt children, etc.) AND those beliefs fulfill some emotional need or desire, who the hell am I to tell them they shouldn't believe it?


"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

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alienist
Skeptic Friend

USA
210 Posts

Posted - 11/17/2011 :  09:53:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send alienist a Private Message  Reply with Quote

CT is usefull in most regards. However, there are some in which it is not. Emotional responses and how one reacts to them is one example. The CT answer may make the situation worse. By focusing on the stated issue, the unstated, nonverbal issue gets missed.
[/quote]

I agree with Val on this. I don't worry about dying because I won't be around to worry about an afterlife. It will either be there or not. But I do think about losing the people (and pets) I love to death. Therefore, I hope I will be able to see them again when I die. That hope keeps me going in life and prevents me from falling into depression. I don't expect anyone else to agree with me on this. CT is useful in a lot of ways and can even help with emotional issues. When my dog after being hit by a car, I wanted to believe that there was a higher purpose or reason for her death. It's not rational but I like to think that heaven just needed more dogs.

The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well! - Joe Ancis
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 11/17/2011 :  10:58:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This reminds me of a scene from one of the books in SF writer Robert Sawyer's Neanderthal Parallax series. In these novels, humans discover a parallel universe where Neanderthals evolved into the dominant and technologically advanced hominid in modern times. But because of biological differences, the human and neanderthal societies and cultures are structured very differently. The neanderthals are often depicted like a sort of a secular humanist utopia. There is a scene where a neanderthal scientist is visiting our universe and being shown the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. He's trying to understand why the humans engage in war and is rather horrified by the level of carnage that results. He asked about the flowers and notes left for the dead by loved-ones, and the human scientist explains the concept of a afterlife. The neanderthal the speculates that perhaps humans' tendency to believe in an afterlife makes it easier to justify war.

At first this reasoning resonated with me. I hear atheists say this sort of thing about those who believe in an afterlife a lot. But is there actually evidence that societies and government dominated by a secular worldview are less violent and less likely to justify institutionalized forms of killing such as war and the death penalty? Are individuals who reject belief in an afterlife more likely to live this life to its fullest and less likely to commit suicide? I don't think this is true. It seems to me that people who believe in or even just hope for an afterlife behave just the same on average as we who think death is the final end of the road.

There have been arguments made against religious belief based on evidence that more religious societies tend to have more of certain kinds of social ills. But such arguments are in their infancy, and it is unclear whether the religious belief causes the social ills, or vice versa.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

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bngbuck
SFN Addict

USA
2437 Posts

Posted - 11/18/2011 :  19:34:56   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send bngbuck a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Marfknox.....

Why do I feel a strong desire to claim the word "spiritual" for atheist use?
Probably because your Catholic upbringing has deep roots of childhood fantasy that have not yet been eliminated by sufficient absorption of enough adult rationality. Living another fifty years or so will probably help.

Several of the more vocal Thinkers here have expressed opinion that CT most certainly can be applied to dissection of a superstition such as "spirituality" --- the rationale being; if indulgence in fantasy thinking was exempted from the scrutiny of critical thinking, the discipline would have very little validity or credibility with intellectuals; instead of the stature of being the gold standard of rationality that it currently enjoys.
I am content with explicitly atheistic framing of my worldview (the whole bit I wrote about earlier in this thread about being in awe of the mystery itself, and so on.) But I don't expect such framing to work for everyone
Yes you do, or you would not defend the essential immunity of something as non-evidential as "spirituality" from the skeptical perusal of critical thinking. The fact that anyone can indulge in your kind of rationalization, suggests that any CT definition of Spirituality as bunk is invalid, because Spirituality is magically shielded in some way from skeptical inquiry.
It seems that the terminology, imagery, stories, and characters contained in Wicca resonate best for Val
It also seems that he enjoys fooling himself and believing nonsense from time to time. As do you. And I.

But it is not rational or logical to do so.

Perhaps it merely consists as relaxation from the vigorous exercise of the Critical Thinking regimen - just kicking back and believing in fairies now and then, taking a break from a difficult Reality.
But the skeptic in him won't allow him to take it all too literally. That seems a fair compromise to me,
Why is it necessary for those that present themselves as Skeptics to dissemble into a tepid posture of "compromise"? Why not go bonkers bipolar and just flat out declare that there are mutiple Universes of reality?
I'm not sure what this specifically refers to. The word "practice" suggests to me that you are talking about rituals or actual actions taken as an adherent to the religion.
Yes.
But ritual can be completely divorced from literal belief, and thus is never necessarily in conflict with critical thinking.
All you are saying is that a person can think rationally part of the time, but also can choose to think irrationally or childishly part of the time. That's fine with me, but it does not make one a "Skeptic" in the full image that Dave, or Mabuse, or even Kil envisages as a portrayal of the ideal, prototypical Skeptic Friend.

Don't misunderstand, Marf; I am not preaching to either the choir or the congregation. I have some severe reservations about the efficacy of CT as a panacea for exploring the mysteries of the Universe, and of demanding nearly incontrovertible evidence for opinion that is autodefined as "statement of fact".

It may well be that true skepticism is one of those many-splendored things that are not subject to easy definition.

I suspect, as one far wiser than I decided long ago, that There Is No True Skeptic.
Edited by - bngbuck on 11/18/2011 20:09:01
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chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2011 :  06:35:51   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Look not to rain on anyones parade but CT is defined as many things, most notably in this circle Conspiracy Theory. But it is not commonly used as shorthand for critical thinking!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CT

To the opening question "Is spiritualism an aspect of reality". Please concisely define what you mean by spiritualism.

As a side note the following statement ignores (at peril of being ridiculous) a vast wealth of a priori knowledge that is a significant part of skepticism/critical thinking.

Originally posted by bngbuck
Critical thinking is seen as applying only to the external reality - the universe as perceived by the conventional five senses.
Edited by - chefcrsh on 11/19/2011 06:52:13
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26004 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2011 :  09:13:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by bngbuck

Marfknox.....
But ritual can be completely divorced from literal belief, and thus is never necessarily in conflict with critical thinking.
All you are saying is that a person can think rationally part of the time, but also can choose to think irrationally or childishly part of the time.
Only if "ritual" implies irrationality or childishness, right?

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
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bngbuck
SFN Addict

USA
2437 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2011 :  13:21:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send bngbuck a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Dave.....

Only if "ritual" implies irrationality or childishness, right?
I am using the word "ritual" in all of it's several dictionary definitions referring to religious practice:
1 : the forms of conducting a devotional service especially as established by tradition or by sacerdotal prescription : the prescribed order and words of a religious ceremony

2 a: a code or system of rites

3 a: a book containing the rites or ceremonial forms to be observed by an organization (as a church or fraternal society) b : the verbal formulas of ritual

4 :an act of ritual
My opinion is that all of the ceremonial activity of religious practice is irrational and much of it is indeed childish. I will be delighted for you to suggest to me a religious ritual, in the sense of the dictionary definitions quoted, that you consider rational.

Wiki offers further elaboration of my opinion of ritual:
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers.

The field of ritual studies has seen a number of conflicting definitions of the term. One given by Kyriakidis (2007) is that Ritual is an outsider's or "etic" category for a set activity (or set of actions) which to the outsider seems irrational, non-contiguous, or illogical. The term can be used also by the insider or "emic" performer as an acknowledgement that this activity can be seen as such by the uninitiated onlooker.

A ritual may be performed on specific occasions, or at the discretion of individuals or communities. It may be performed by a single individual, by a group, or by the entire community; in arbitrary places, or in places especially reserved for it; either in public, in private, or before specific people. A ritual may be restricted to a certain subset of the community, and may enable or underscore the passage between religious or social states.


What religious rituals do you consider to be rational behavior?

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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2011 :  14:22:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Bill:
My opinion is that all of the ceremonial activity of religious practice is irrational and much of it is indeed childish. I will be delighted for you to suggest to me a religious ritual, in the sense of the dictionary definitions quoted, that you consider rational.

While I am an atheist, I enjoy taking part in such things as Passover, and Hanukkah. There is ritual envolved in both of those activities. The rituals are fun and the food is good. And while strictly speaking, the rituals themselves are there to celebrate things that probably never happened, and so believing the story behind the ritual is irrational, taking part in the ritual because it's fun is not irrational with fun, family and good food as the motive. Unless you think having fun and eating good food with my family is irrational. And if that's the case, than taking part in those traditions that involve some fun religious ritual is an area that I'm happily and irrationally willing to indulge in.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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