Praying Atheist

Atheism, secularism & freethought etc.

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Re: Praying Atheist

#21  Postby Fallible » Jul 17, 2017 9:28 pm

That's basically it, although I doubt it's ever so thought-out. We don't all do it, but that wasn't my point. My point was that when we do, it's never of no benefit whatsoever to the 'self'. We only ever do things because they benefit the 'self', unless there is something seriously wrong with us, and even then I reckon it could be argued that we do what we think will benefit the 'self' in whatever fucked-up universe we are inhabiting.
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Re: Praying Atheist

#22  Postby tuco » Jul 17, 2017 9:29 pm

I just like to note that it does not make sense to me how "praying for" does not necessarily lead to "praying to". Like .. asking for .. so who are you asking?
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Re: Praying Atheist

#23  Postby Steve » Jul 18, 2017 1:24 am

tuco wrote:I just like to note that it does not make sense to me how "praying for" does not necessarily lead to "praying to". Like .. asking for .. so who are you asking?

It works by changing your thinking. It helps to see possibility as opposed to improbability. The point is not to mess with what is "out there" but to wipe your preconceptions so you will see it when it happens. It is a tool of personal transformation, not pleading.
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Re: Praying Atheist

#24  Postby Pebble » Jul 18, 2017 8:34 pm

Steve wrote:
tuco wrote:I just like to note that it does not make sense to me how "praying for" does not necessarily lead to "praying to". Like .. asking for .. so who are you asking?

It works by changing your thinking. It helps to see possibility as opposed to improbability. The point is not to mess with what is "out there" but to wipe your preconceptions so you will see it when it happens. It is a tool of personal transformation, not pleading.


It is more of a crutch a way of distracting yourself from the apparent lack of a coherent response to a problem/mood/issue, while you subconsciously explore/propose possible ways forward. There is always a danger in prayer, as the Catholics of Inquisition time and Sharia enforcers know - force adherence to the ritual and a high proportion will become believers over time.
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Re: Praying Atheist

#25  Postby SpeedOfSound » Jul 19, 2017 11:06 am

Fallible wrote:
SpeedOfSound wrote:I consider myself a flaming atheist, a level 7. I'm a recovering addict/alcoholic and am active in AA. Just hit my 90,000 hours sober mark. I seem to pray more than most xtians and frequently refer to 'god's will' in conversations. I have had to do much interpreting on those twelve steps and the overly religious readings of AA supplemental literature.

I am often asked by bleevers what I pray to. I tell them that if you are 'praying to' then it's not prayer, not faith. It is rather belief or dogma. The AA eleventh step is 'praying ONLY for knowledge of god's will and the power to carry it out'. Clearly meaning that praying for remission of a child's cancer is not in the program.

I maybe should've put this in philosophy because it is.

Now I do not know how all of this works. I have suspicions but no certainty. It does seem to me that something about religion is worth keeping around. Minus the belief. It's kind of like motor oil for the human brain. If I have some issue or depression or am anxious about something I have to do, I do a prayer thingy and invariably it helps. I appeal to something I cannot name or define and mentally verbalize my issue. I then clear my mind of the issue. I do a physical movement that amounts to 'letting go' and then I go check netflix recent additions. After a few days I review what happened and always find some poetry, synchronicity, in the events around the issue and note it's resolution. Always good, always learn something.

A couple of things I think are necessary. I have to create in my mind some focal point outside of my mind that is undefinable. For me that is the complexity of the physical. Second, it has to be such that I get some perspective of my self as being very tiny and even non-existent. Third, doing things for others that in no way could benefit my 'self'.

These three pills seem to form a cocktail for sanity and emotional well-being. what the fuck kind of a mammal are we that would make that work?



Everything you do for others benefits your 'self'. It can't be any other way.


Yes. That's how it always seems to work. But why does that work?
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Re: Praying Atheist

#26  Postby SpeedOfSound » Jul 19, 2017 11:23 am

Fallible wrote:Yep. People often think that a selfless fatal act has no benefit to the individual, because duh, they die...but the reason people perform them is because they think it's the 'right' thing to do. When we do the right thing even if there appears to be no gain, the simple fact that it's right and we're going to do it makes us feel good and therefore benefits the 'self'.

If 'feeling good' was the high bar I would probably end up a masturbating monkey. It seems to go a bit deeper. I think it sets up an attitudinal frame for my day. Not much disturbs me if I reduce or cleave the linkage of what happens in the world from the fantasy of my self. Everything is leveled down to just shit happening. I have called that 'god's will' in mixed company where there is no other way to say it.

I have some attraction to the idea that his is just the way my mind is due to biology and evolution of the cooperative primate. If I buck that ingrained urge to behave as a trusted member of my clan it sets up a cascade of anxiety and deception. Bad feelings! Deep ones. What I used to do is get drunk so all of the details blurred and the anxiety was thus medicated. My twisted thinking was along the line of the ostrich with head in the sand believing he was invisible. If I couldn't feel distrust or disdain for my self than noone else could wither.

Buddhism has all kinds of lore around this sort of thing. Karma and the easy path, etc. If I see someone drop something that is important to them it is the easy path to pick it up and say 'hey'. Even though I have expended prescious energy in excess of just walking away.

Now it seems that our brains are very confused about who we actually are. Empathy has us thinking we are mixed up with the person walking near us and dropping the thing. So a strict rationalist would resist the urge to help. But!! The rationalist cannot change the cascade of effects in his mind and body that will result in anxiety for having done so. Best to just put up with the confused notion of self or abandon it altogether and just BE the social animal.
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Re: Praying Atheist

#27  Postby SpeedOfSound » Jul 19, 2017 11:40 am

VazScep wrote:I quite like Alan Moore, the former comic book writer. He said that on turning 40 he decided to get into magic, rather than have a midlife crisis. By "magic", I mean the 19th century occult stuff. He's very much anti-religion, and has said that, as an occultist, you have to understand that everything that happens in a ritual is just in your own head, but that doesn't mean you can't roll with it.

There's another occult type I like called Colin Low, a guy who I got into because of his intense love of Lovecraft. But he's mostly about Kaballah and his version of it which he practices in an occult form. Check this for his account of performing a magical ritual, with some introductory remarks about his take on mysticism as the manipulation of consciousness. Based on his other writings, I assume he's an atheist, though with some contempt for the New Atheist types. He's also a computer scientist, I believe, and has an idea I quite like about human's getting into stress by constantly trying to subdivide reality, or something, which he calls "the gnostic fractal."

Anyway, Moore's got a book coming out called The Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic that I plan to get when it comes out.

I don't really have any excuse to try any of this myself. Colin Low has been into Kaballah since he was a kid, and I believe he had a teacher, as is supposed to be the case in mystic tradition.



I remember the Carlos Castaneda days when we would follow magical paths through the world. The most fascinating shit would happen. Synchronicity poured out of the universe and got us all sticky with the stuff. A little LSD would really get us going. Carlos turned out to be a bit of a fraud but he somehow got it right anyway.

Here's the thing. Our brains are synchronicity bloodhounds. The organ is built to sniff it out. The operational business of the body is to ritualize everything. Walking is ritual in a way. We can be as dumb as a dog and somehow find more happiness than the strict rationalist. There is an Elephant undercover in these rooms that really believes synchronicity couldn't happen without the supernatural :lol: . He dishonors the wonder of complexity in the physical and how we interact with it.

If we use our intellect to form this stuff up into a way of life, an operation manual for being human, we get something like Buddhism. We add to strict symbolic reasoning the reality fo being this bit of bio-goo with a given structure. So the magic is cool in that it allows a deeper more complete creativity.

Let me try and make a Point. If one is intelligent and has a very good imagination combined with some knowledge of science, you can believe that a lot of magical gooey feeling things just happen with a perfectly secular world view. The person who wants to relegate it to some meta-natural worldview simply isn't smart or educated or simply lacks imagination.

The atheist who denies the magic of synchronicity is somewhat in the same boat. He thinks that our minds are all about computational reason and hence he too has a meta-natural view of what is going on.
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Re: Praying Atheist

#28  Postby SpeedOfSound » Jul 19, 2017 11:47 am

tuco wrote:I just like to note that it does not make sense to me how "praying for" does not necessarily lead to "praying to". Like .. asking for .. so who are you asking?


If you 'pray to' then you have conceived something. You are a believer in some dogma. If you simply 'pray' with an empty mind then you have a remarkable thing called 'faith'. Which is the exact opposite of belief.

If I have some strawberry cheesecake I can do it in a few ways. I could read the label and consider all of the nutritional facts and how ingesting energy works and all that. I could read the label and then go on the internet and fret over all the hearsay about cake and cheese and sugar. Or, I could just enjoy the damn cake. Praying without 'praying to' is kind of like the last one.
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Re: Praying Atheist

#29  Postby tuco » Jul 19, 2017 5:19 pm

Yes, that is what you said in OP but it does not make sense to me as it does not make sense why you call it praying.
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Re: Praying Atheist

#30  Postby DavidMcC » Jul 21, 2017 2:18 pm

SpeedOfSound wrote:
tuco wrote:I just like to note that it does not make sense to me how "praying for" does not necessarily lead to "praying to". Like .. asking for .. so who are you asking?


If you 'pray to' then you have conceived something. You are a believer in some dogma. If you simply 'pray' with an empty mind then you have a remarkable thing called 'faith'. Which is the exact opposite of belief.

If I have some strawberry cheesecake I can do it in a few ways. I could read the label and consider all of the nutritional facts and how ingesting energy works and all that. I could read the label and then go on the internet and fret over all the hearsay about cake and cheese and sugar. Or, I could just enjoy the damn cake. Praying without 'praying to' is kind of like the last one.

In other words, by "praying", you mean "hoping", don't you? I think ""hoping" is a much more appropriate word here, because it doesn't have any religious connotations, unlike "praying".
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Re: Praying Atheist

#31  Postby SpeedOfSound » Jul 22, 2017 12:03 pm

tuco wrote:Yes, that is what you said in OP but it does not make sense to me as it does not make sense why you call it praying.

Answering both you and David

It is my purpose to give it a religious connotation. Let me explain. There are a few too many billions of people on this planet who are not yet on board with reason and rationality. Many have had the experience of praying or true faith or giving up the self resulting in some profound psychological changes toward their well-being. I met yesterday with someone who was not quite ready to call herself an atheist. She had 'angel' experiences. One described to me was simply a case of a couple of helpful people appearing out of nowhere, as helpful people often do, and then disappearing again. Well, not quite right before her eyes but in a heavy traffic situation with many distractions. She got exactly what she needed from the universe in a high stress situation. If one believes that atheism is synonymous with 'life and the universe really suck' then it becomes hard to convince these people that an exclusively physical system could easily account for their experiences.

We have to live with these fucking people! They vote. They control aspects of our lives. So. I like to change my language a bit along the lines of 'when in Rome...' .

Further, there are no good strictly neurological terms that precisely describe some things we humans do with our minds and bodies. We need to invent a shorthand for the method or take one that has some history. Praying to various gods is obviously the same thing as what I am doing except that I am leaving out the woo. rather I replace the woo with a stark look at the structure of our species and the complexity of the universe as it unfolds on this little dust ball.

1. This dust ball Earth is in a strange thermal zone that allows for a certain kind of thermodynamics not typical out there in the stars.

2. We are a kind of thing, an organism, that resonates with synchronicity.

3. We are really fucking dumb animals and if we do not work hard to remedy that we can believe in all kinds of garbage. I don't judge. :naughty2:

So, 'pray' is convenient. It opens a communication bridge to the bleevers. It begs for there to be a new dialog about religion and it's obvious persistence in our culture.

That's it. Except for one other thing. I am provoking here a bit on the forum and sort of looking to start a fight with some of you guys as well. :naughty2: 'pray' is a fight'n word around here and I think I can defend it.
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Re: Praying Atheist

#32  Postby John Platko » Jul 22, 2017 1:47 pm

SpeedOfSound wrote:
tuco wrote:Yes, that is what you said in OP but it does not make sense to me as it does not make sense why you call it praying.

Answering both you and David

It is my purpose to give it a religious connotation. Let me explain. There are a few too many billions of people on this planet who are not yet on board with reason and rationality. Many have had the experience of praying or true faith or giving up the self resulting in some profound psychological changes toward their well-being. I met yesterday with someone who was not quite ready to call herself an atheist. She had 'angel' experiences. One described to me was simply a case of a couple of helpful people appearing out of nowhere, as helpful people often do, and then disappearing again. Well, not quite right before her eyes but in a heavy traffic situation with many distractions. She got exactly what she needed from the universe in a high stress situation. If one believes that atheism is synonymous with 'life and the universe really suck' then it becomes hard to convince these people that an exclusively physical system could easily account for their experiences.

We have to live with these fucking people! They vote. They control aspects of our lives. So. I like to change my language a bit along the lines of 'when in Rome...' .

Further, there are no good strictly neurological terms that precisely describe some things we humans do with our minds and bodies. We need to invent a shorthand for the method or take one that has some history. Praying to various gods is obviously the same thing as what I am doing except that I am leaving out the woo. rather I replace the woo with a stark look at the structure of our species and the complexity of the universe as it unfolds on this little dust ball.

1. This dust ball Earth is in a strange thermal zone that allows for a certain kind of thermodynamics not typical out there in the stars.

2. We are a kind of thing, an organism, that resonates with synchronicity.

3. We are really fucking dumb animals and if we do not work hard to remedy that we can believe in all kinds of garbage. I don't judge. :naughty2:

So, 'pray' is convenient. It opens a communication bridge to the bleevers. It begs for there to be a new dialog about religion and it's obvious persistence in our culture.

That's it. Except for one other thing. I am provoking here a bit on the forum and sort of looking to start a fight with some of you guys as well. :naughty2: 'pray' is a fight'n word around here and I think I can defend it.


Tanya Luhrmann is the best researcher I know of who is trying so sus out the psychology of prayer. If you are unfamiliar with her work, here's a video where she's giving a lecture at a Harvard Medical School symposium. Her lecture (she's woo free) starts about 6:30.

I like to imagine ...
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Re: Praying Atheist

#33  Postby Shagz » Jul 23, 2017 4:04 am

My dad is an alcoholic and became religious when he started going to AA, and it apparently helped him stop drinking, so I can't deny that it does sometimes seem to help the addict stop, for some reason. I don't have a hard time believing that it might be possible to "pray" and trick your mind in order to get the addiction-kicking benefit of being religious while actually remaining an atheist. Sure, why not. So I was going to let this pass without comment, until this sentence:

SpeedOfSound wrote:
The atheist who denies the magic of synchronicity is somewhat in the same boat. He thinks that our minds are all about computational reason and hence he too has a meta-natural view of what is going on.


Which, frankly, kind of makes me wonder if you are full of shit.

edit:
1. This dust ball Earth is in a strange thermal zone that allows for a certain kind of thermodynamics not typical out there in the stars.

2. We are a kind of thing, an organism, that resonates with synchronicity.

3. We are really fucking dumb animals and if we do not work hard to remedy that we can believe in all kinds of garbage. I don't judge. :naughty2:

How is the Earth's thermal zone strange, and how are the thermodynamics atypical here?

How are we an organism that "resonates with synchronicity?" What does that mean?

We're clearly the most intelligent animals on this planet. How smart do we have to be before we're no longer dumb animals, in your eyes?
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Re: Praying Atheist

#34  Postby VazScep » Jul 23, 2017 8:10 am

I didn't find the quoted sentences objectionable. I'm now an old critic of the idea that humans are anything like computers or that thinking is anything like logic, so much so that I'm long bored of what I have to say. "Synchronicity" is a word that occurred to me a lot when I was in poor mental health, but even then, I was sufficiently sceptical to wonder if we only see synchronicity because humans obsessively synchronise. Meet me at noon! Get your calendars out. We're on the clock. Our perspective on the whole fucking universe is about measuring time, and measuring time is just spotting when different shit is in sync.
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Re: Praying Atheist

#35  Postby tuco » Jul 23, 2017 8:28 am

Fair enough SpeedOfSound. Personally, I do not mind how you call it, I just did not understand it, do not agree its proper usage of the word for the activity you described respectively.

You say you have to live with "them". I do not as much since believer/atheist ratio is reverted over here. Still, unless you give "them" proper explanation, like you've attempted to do here, my guess is that "they" will just think you are praying. Praying for - praying to .. do "they" realize the difference? Besides, I think there are better ways to comfort "them", and I do agree basic comfort is part of decent human behavior, than seemingly incorporating "their" terminology and concepts into your life. Its like the US president saying "God bless America" despite being an atheist, explaining its not asking God to bless America but its patriotic upbeat wish or something. /shrugs

Then again and as usual, to each her own.
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Re: Praying Atheist

#36  Postby SpeedOfSound » Jul 29, 2017 12:11 pm

John Platko wrote:...


Hey, thanks for that.
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Re: Praying Atheist

#37  Postby SpeedOfSound » Jul 29, 2017 12:23 pm

VazScep wrote:I didn't find the quoted sentences objectionable. I'm now an old critic of the idea that humans are anything like computers or that thinking is anything like logic, so much so that I'm long bored of what I have to say. "Synchronicity" is a word that occurred to me a lot when I was in poor mental health, but even then, I was sufficiently sceptical to wonder if we only see synchronicity because humans obsessively synchronise. Meet me at noon! Get your calendars out. We're on the clock. Our perspective on the whole fucking universe is about measuring time, and measuring time is just spotting when different shit is in sync.


There is this somewhat Kantian disease that puts too much emphasis on what happens in the human mind. What I mean here are idealisms that claim it's all the mind shaping the world and reality 'in itself' is some collection of incomprehensible random mystericles. I hate that! Mind is not apart from the world and the mind seeks patterns precisely because patterns are real and the mind is fully embedded in that reality. Group isomorphisms, if I may, are as far as you need go to establish synchronicity as the low hanging fruit of the universe.

Now we could think that humans are some kind of special mind-magical-spirit-beasts and think that humans pulled group symmetry out of their spirit mind asses. But that's not how mind works. It's pretty much about your body in the world and that is just reality. Physical-phucking-reality! We do math AS we walk the earth. Numbers are at their base, walking in steps across the prairie. No prairie, no humans doing math. We can pat ourselves on the head all day over our abstract abilities but we still can't do square circles or five-dimensional triangles for shit.

(To be fair, I no longer believe their is such a thing as mind. It's another place where our brains have failed to endow us with the proper semantics to understand the physical.)
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Re: Praying Atheist

#38  Postby DavidMcC » Jul 29, 2017 12:32 pm

The strange case of SoS aside, most people who pray presumably think they are actually communicating with some magic man in the sky. Obviously, that is, on the face of it, delusional behaviour. However, it does seem to provide many people with some kind of much-needed hope, even though it is false hope.
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Re: Praying Atheist

#39  Postby SpeedOfSound » Jul 29, 2017 12:39 pm

Shagz wrote:My dad is an alcoholic and became religious when he started going to AA, and it apparently helped him stop drinking, so I can't deny that it does sometimes seem to help the addict stop, for some reason. I don't have a hard time believing that it might be possible to "pray" and trick your mind in order to get the addiction-kicking benefit of being religious while actually remaining an atheist. Sure, why not. So I was going to let this pass without comment, until this sentence:

SpeedOfSound wrote:
The atheist who denies the magic of synchronicity is somewhat in the same boat. He thinks that our minds are all about computational reason and hence he too has a meta-natural view of what is going on.


Which, frankly, kind of makes me wonder if you are full of shit.

edit:
1. This dust ball Earth is in a strange thermal zone that allows for a certain kind of thermodynamics not typical out there in the stars.

2. We are a kind of thing, an organism, that resonates with synchronicity.

3. We are really fucking dumb animals and if we do not work hard to remedy that we can believe in all kinds of garbage. I don't judge. :naughty2:

How is the Earth's thermal zone strange, and how are the thermodynamics atypical here?

How are we an organism that "resonates with synchronicity?" What does that mean?

We're clearly the most intelligent animals on this planet. How smart do we have to be before we're no longer dumb animals, in your eyes?


I addressed some of this in the reply to Vaz. The strange thermal zone is our little temperature zone in our goldilocks. Chemistry does some very interesting things if you limit it to this small band of thermodynamics. It's why we are here. It's a little zone where complexity abounds and with that complexity comes synchronicity. Patterns. Trees grow here. Not on the sun. Though I would guess there are patterns there too in different temporal schemes. Just perhaps not as many types of lego-blocks when it gets that hot.

Religious converts in AA kind of piss me off. You do the rituals they prescribe and the psychological work they prescribe and then your life changes completely! Then somehow fucking spook in the sky gets the credit? :doh: It's because we don't yet know how to do the math I suspect. We are so fucked up, even as atheist/physicalists, by the semantics of the mind-based thinking that we keep coming up with one spook after another. Even if we atheists abstract the spook out of anthropomorphisms, we still end up with spooks.

Now one more note on my praying. I ALWAYS make sure that I do it in such a way, that nothing irrational is appealed to. That's why step 11 is so damned important. You can't pray for your neighbor kid's cancer to go into remission. There is no mechanism for your prayer to have an effect there. If you insist on prayer working that way then you run against another AA principle, which is 'never set yourself up with expectation'.

Doing something with my so-called-mind makes me feel good period. There is no excuse for tossing out rationality when something I can do does not have a full fine-grained explanation.

So my rule number one is: no getting silly about this shit. Prayer works because it's useful psychology and it will be clearly explained by neuroscience as soon as we stop being silly and get to work.
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Re: Praying Atheist

#40  Postby SpeedOfSound » Jul 29, 2017 12:46 pm

DavidMcC wrote:The strange case of SoS aside, most people who pray presumably think they are actually communicating with some magic man in the sky. Obviously, that is, on the face of it, delusional behaviour. However, it does seem to provide many people with some kind of much-needed hope, even though it is false hope.


I keep saying, you do not need to have any belief about what it is you are praying to. If you go there you will have stopped actually praying.

I remember something in the bibble about that. Haven't found it again but it's something about false idols and presuming to 'know god'. Someone smart must of written part of that literature.

It's a meditative technique that resembles self-hypnosis.

Consider. If I have a math problem, I work on it for twenty minutes and something im my brain records many things about the problem and that work. My brain has changed physical state. Now if I go off and do something without any occurrent thoughts about the problem, when I run into a matching pattern, that same area of the brain lights up again and a solution presents itself.

This too is prayer.
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