Brain Hacks

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Brain Hacks

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby dealing with it on Mon Dec 30, 2019 8:52 pm

The most primitive brain hack, that has been running for millenia, has been religion. It manipulates what our brain has evolved to survive, to give special feelings, and explanations for the special feelings, that allows us to continue having these special feelings. It allows people to be more easily led.

Modern brain hacks are less pernicious. They don't have all the baggage that leads to the massive commission of harm. Writing something down, using your less-dominant hand, or constructing a mind palace, are not harmful. They hack the brain to help with emotional regulation and memory.

We know it can be done. Why do we still allow religions to hack the brains of ourselves and our children?

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Re: Brain Hacks

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby LawOfTheLand on Wed Jan 01, 2020 3:32 am

Here I was hoping you would be talking about various tips for increased productivity and other "life hacks", but instead you go right for the jugular with the big one of religion.

I'm really not sure. Perhaps it's a useful tool of those in power for keeping the less educated from questioning the party line. After all, if you can believe in an invisible person in the sky that you have to give your money to and who you won't even get your reward from until you die, you can believe in just about anything. Like trickle down economics.
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Re: Brain Hacks

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Remæus on Wed Jan 01, 2020 12:54 pm

LawOfTheLand wrote:Here I was hoping you would be talking about various tips for increased productivity

Me too! I'm a hacker, so I'm in favor of hacking all the things :)

As to the topic, I don't think religion itself is the culprit, and think it can even be a healthy discipline in people's otherwise chaotic lives. To eschew the idea of a power stronger than one's own intellect is to give license to an insidious nature, that of an intrinsically violent self-preservation.

Chris Hedges wrote:A society that looses the capacity for the sacred cannibalizes itself until it dies because it exploits the natural world as well as human beings to the point of collapse.


Alvin Toffler wrote:The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

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Re: Brain Hacks

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby dealing with it on Wed Jan 01, 2020 5:45 pm

If you all want to talk about life hacks, that’s fine. I’m just trying to drum up conversation in here. I don’t know much about tips and tricks, however. It would have been a much shorter OP.

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Re: Brain Hacks

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Remæus on Sat Jan 11, 2020 5:29 pm

On the subject of brain hacks, I enjoy the idea that we are all Gods — not only in the "quantum influence" sense (that is, we swim through a sea of infinite universes, our choices carrying us from one into the next, thus creating a moral imperative to spend every waking moment maximizing your positive influence on the world!) but also in the transcendent, time-independent sense. Maybe we're all time-traveling deities that made it to the end of time, when the very last of the black holes evaporated, and are being lifted up and carried towards that end by our higher selves, which we recognize as our conscience.

There's only one way to know for sure — I guess I better get back to work!

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Re: Brain Hacks

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby dealing with it on Sun Jan 12, 2020 9:20 pm

Remaeus: whatever inspires you. :)

My current thinking is that Biblical writers had thousands, if not tens of thousands, of stories to select from. They chose to write down the ones with the greatest staying power and ability to convince and control large populations. Cults are essentially testing grounds for primitive brain hacks. Religions are compilations of what cult leaders learned.

The failed cults of the past are the meat and potatoes of the religions of today. The best stories were selected, amplified, and modified. Characters were conflated to smooth out the narrative. The weaker stories were retconned out of existence, much like much of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. For every story selected for the Biblical narrative, there are ten, twenty, a hundred stories that are forgotten or did not serve the goals of the Biblical authors. It's as if the entire oeuvre of the Bard were reduced to the famous soliloquy in "Hamlet" ("To be or not to be: that is the question"), and people simply forgot the rest.

It's like trying to source a gleeman's tale.

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Re: Brain Hacks

Tips: 0.25 INK Postby Lord Saethos on Thu Jan 16, 2020 3:46 am

Personally I disagree about religion being the culprit. Perhaps I have bias in that I believe in God, but what is more interesting is the biases I have living in a Liberal society, which I would wager may be the larger (and in some cases more dangerous) "brain hack".

It's not to say that Liberal ideas are bad, far from it. I'm wholeheartedly in favor of respecting people's freedoms and rights, so much so that I'm of the mind that we must fight wars to ensure them and protect them. But are the wars we fight really about people's freedoms? Really about their rights? Or are we being told that by a government, prominent businesses, and a media that all have a certain agenda we're not privy to?

Not a Marxist myself by any means, but taking Poli Sci and seeing what "Critical Analysts" (the ones largely influenced by Marx I mean) have to say about certain issues has really broadened my perspective on things. Even if you took religion out of the world, something else would replace it. I mean we've even had atheist ultra-nationalists and racists who respect Christianity simply out of its "cultural relevance", remove Christianity completely and they'll just find something else that is "unique" to them (most likely their race) as their new banner to rally behind.

Let's not forget, even progressive's like Obama used drones to preserve the American Empire, and there are many more still who would.

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Re: Brain Hacks

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby dealing with it on Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:32 pm

Lord Saethos, you are correct so far as it doesn't really matter the content of the brain hack. Cult leaders and poets, not exactly the most honest of sources of reliable information, have manipulated people for millennia. Collectively, we know how to convince minds of things without evidence; with modern insights into advertising, our brain hacks have become less primitive and more effective. Not to suggest that primitive brain hacks aren't effective. Poetry moves people. (For more information on modern brain hacks, see Nazi's Methods of Marketing)

People gain a sense of belonging from many things. Racism, homophobia, nationalism, Nazism, and theism all manipulate people in various ways. It doesn't really matter what "X" is, so long as it is firmly believed.

I focus on theism not only because most people have some experience with it, but also because of the massive amount of demonstrable harm that has been caused by belief in that narrative.

And, importantly, it is 100% impossible for anyone to evidence the existence of God as anything other than their imagination. The whole domain of theology may as well be astrology for all the truth it contains. Although I sympathize with theists, I don't respect theism. In the sense that I sympathize with drug users, but I don't like drugs. With so many centuries of fine-tuning behind the narratives, theism may be one of the hardest habits to break.

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Re: Brain Hacks

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Lord Saethos on Thu Jan 16, 2020 6:11 pm

I personally respect atheism, even though I myself am a theist. At the end of the day I see it as coming down to a decision on what makes more logical sense to you, that something can come from nothing, or that God could have always existed. I'd argue both rely a little on faith. After all, where did the particles come from that would become the "big bang"? Did they exist before the big bang? Did something create them? I've heard some propose the theory that the expanse of "nothing" became an energy of its own and created something out of it. There's also the multiverse theory, perhaps particles just floated into our universe from another, but then where did those ones come from.

By no means am I an expert on any of this, but if everything has cause and effect, what was the first cause of all existence? To which you would respond by asking what created God, or how he could exist without creation. Hence why I say that both require at least a little faith.

But I'm not going to sit here and say "atheists are secretly still believing in a religion", because that doesn't really matter to me. At the end of the day they believe what they believe because it makes sense to them, and I'll respect that. You're not obligated to respect me, but I'm going to respect you regardless because I think that's a value I should try to abide by, and let's be honest, the world needs a little more respect.

As for the damage religion has done, it's debatable how far reaching its impacts are. Will we blame modern day "Western Imperialism" on religion? Or is it an independent phenomena that would have happened regardless? Because if that's the case, we've got 7 million people dying every single year just because of poverty. How many died in the Crusades and Witch hunts combined? A couple hundred thousand? Maybe a couple million? But in a mere 10 years we've killed 7 times the number of people the Nazis did, just because we've basically robbed them of the necessities of life, and the ability to obtain those necessities independently.

And at a time where the world is arguably the most secular it has ever been, it seems the number of deaths are greater than they've ever been, and that's without even fighting a war. And that's not to do with religion. The world wasn't "better in the good old days", and it's not necessarily even worse today. I'm not going to blame religion, and I'm not going to blame the lack of it either. After all, should I blame democracy and Liberalism for the abominable treatment of people in the developing world? Or should I blame the powerful that wield "democracy" and "liberalism" as their intellectual weapons of achieving power?

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Re: Brain Hacks

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Remæus on Thu Jan 16, 2020 6:17 pm

dealing with it, is it religion or theism that you feel is a more negative force in the world? I'm curious to distinguish between, say, the Nontheistic Quakers or even Buddhism and the other more vehemently-opposed religions. Is it more one than the other?

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Re: Brain Hacks

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby dealing with it on Thu Jan 16, 2020 6:24 pm

Atheism doesn't really require faith. At its best, it's the recognition that when it comes to certain questions, not only do we not know the answers, we can't know the answers. The simple admission: "I don't know" is very important.

Theist: "God exists."
Atheist: "Prove it."

As an atheist, I know that there is no proof. If there was, I wouldn't be an atheist, now would I? I'm convinced that it is 100% impossible for anyone to evidence God as anything other than their imagination. You can talk about first causes 'til you're blue in the face, but that doesn't bring you one whit closer to evidence.

Religion is not an altruistic enterprise. It's comfort food. It's about as logical to believe in the wonders of Santa Claus as it is Jesus, yet people happily trick their toddlers into believing in Santa as though they are doing them a favour.

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Re: Brain Hacks

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Lord Saethos on Thu Jan 16, 2020 6:39 pm

It was to my understanding that agnosticism was the recognition that you don't know. But then, having a close friend who is an agnostic, he will readily tell me that he'd be as likely to believe in God as not believe in him if the evidence was sufficient, which I understand and respect.

And while what you're saying about evidence is true, likewise no one has provided evidence to prove how everything in the universe did come together, how existence was even made possible to begin with. I'm not attributing, for example, the rain cycle to rain because I simply don't understand science, I'm saying that I find it as rational that a God exists and created all existence as someone might say it's rational that existence popped out of nothing.

It's not evidence by any means, but it has allowed me to better inform my decision. And certainly I have had struggles and doubts, but ultimately I find that my conclusions bring me to the perspective that I think a God is the cause of all existence. I'm not going to push that on you, that's simply my conclusion, and it differs from yours.

Nothing on Earth is altruistic. If you're looking for altruism, you'll be hard pressed to find it. But there are people who are religious who are pretty close to altruistic, and their beliefs are altruistic. Likewise, there are atheists who are altruistic, or at least close to it. And I've already gone over the teapot argument before, and I think atheists need to just admit that it's not a very good argument. You're arguing the physical versus the spiritual, the tangible versus the intangible. Telling theists that they're illogical isn't winning any arguments. The truth is, you're having two very different arguments, atheists and theists, and as a result the two will never convince each other.

That's why I'm happy simply respecting atheists and their beliefs. I'm not interested in dividing people up into groups that need to hate each other, I'm much more interested in collaboration and developing commonalities between us.

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Re: Brain Hacks

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby dealing with it on Thu Jan 16, 2020 6:46 pm

I'm what's known as an agnostic atheist. Agnosticism is an epistemological view; atheism is a metaphysical one. A person's epistemology informs their metaphysics, and vice versa.

There are many possibility as to where the universe comes from. We might be in a cyclical universe, for instance, that never has a beginning or end. But I don't know. I'm perfectly fine not knowing. I don't fill in the gap in my knowledge with God: that is the god of the gaps fallacy.

Personally, I see struggles and doubts not as a test of faith, but of reality trying to seep in through the cracks. You don't know that God exists any more than me, but I have accepted not knowing. And that makes all the difference.

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Re: Brain Hacks

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Lord Saethos on Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:07 pm

Fair enough, thank you for further informing me on that. I'm not exactly educated in philosophy and religion, so my understanding on the terms and definitions is that of a layman.

I don't see a problem with "filling in the gaps" with God. It's a difference in perspective, one which is informed by a particular way of thinking. Yes, I could adopt the "logicians way of thinking", but for what reason? Why should I consider my decision making process inferior to the logicians? I don't believe in anything that totally flies in the face of all reality and logic. In fact, there is a lot of places I will say "I don't know" because I don't want to presume too much. I believe it's God's role to know and understand everything, not mine.

Oh I don't think it's reality "seeping through the cracks". That's presuming your interpretation of reality is the correct one, which at the very least I think my Poli Sci professor (an ardent atheist himself) would challenge. Certainly, the doubts come from a place of feeling like maybe I am wrong, maybe something does disprove God. It's a constant journey of learning, and making decisions of what makes the most sense to me, or what feels right.

You're entitled to think I'm a complete idiot of course. Nonetheless, I'm going to respect your right to think so, and respectfully disagree.

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Re: Brain Hacks

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby dealing with it on Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:25 pm

I don't think you are an idiot. I have respect for the intelligence and wisdom of the people who wrote the Bible. They weren't idiots, either. I think, however, that is the problem. They intended to tell the most convincing story that they could, and wanted to rope people into believing it as well. At worst, I could say that I pity the theist for having all that stacked up against them. It's not an easy wall to break down. I think, maybe, that recognizing the narratives for what they are -- primitive brain hacks, written by poets and cult leaders, and amplified by centuries'-long game of "telephone" -- might help disentangle the narrative from a theist's life. When I was younger, I rewrote the story of Adam and Eve just to see if I could do it, and two decades later, my best friends' mom still has it on her fridge. That's how these things go.

Nothing disproves God. That is not my tack. The problem is that nothing proves God. It is 100% impossible for someone to evidence God as anything other than their imagination. When I say reality is seeping in, that is what I mean. Your imagination struggles with your reasoning. You suffer from cognitive dissonance, as you try to simultaneously believe a thing and its opposite. Only one can be real. And I'm not betting on the thing that exists only in your imagination as the true one, although it may be the one that ultimately wins the tug-of-war.

God used to be the excuse for everything. At one point, we didn't know how rain works, to take your example, so God must be behind it. You don't know how everything came into being, so you say God must have been responsible. The fact is, you don't know. I don't know, either. But you commit a fallacy when you try to fill in the blanks with "God did it". Atheism is a matter of integrity, of the courage to always admit ignorance when you don't know, even and especially with regards to the big questions; never to play make-believe with the easiest answer of all: God. Summoning God to fill in the gaps is intellectually dishonest.

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Re: Brain Hacks

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Lord Saethos on Thu Jan 16, 2020 8:06 pm

I disagree with your assessment of the Bible, for obvious reasons, but I won't say that Christianity (or any other religion for that matter) has been used as a tactic for establishing power. I also think that we have worse ones still to come other than religion, but it sounds like we may be on the same page there. Having said that, I think it's fairly evident that I'm not exactly someone "roped into" some kind of crazy, zealous rhetoric where I want to destroy anyone I consider "morally inferior" because someone calling themselves Christian told me I should. Many theists are capable of critical thought, of making decisions that are, let's say more reasonable. We have undoubtedly evolved socially, intellectually, and culturally in the past 2000 (or even just 200) years. Still have a ways to go, but I do see a world where theism exists and isn't a source of violence.

Well I understand what you mean, but I wouldn't say it's my "imagination" struggling. You're right, only one thing can be true (unless there is infinite realities, then perhaps both things are indeed true lol), and that's more of the struggle. How do you know definitively? How do you find that thing that proves it undeniably? At the end of the day, I can't find that evidence, so I'm left with either believing, or not believing. I do believe myself, based on the limited resources I have to make a decision with. And I think it's fair to say that it's difficult to come to conclusions, especially when you're weighing in on what will happen after death. Personally, I hope there is an afterlife, because I personally rather enjoying existing. lol

I don't find it intellectually dishonest at all. As I said, it's a matter of differing points of view, differing perspectives. I could say it's a matter of integrity to stand by my faith, to believe even when there isn't evidence. You wouldn't agree with that in the slightest, but it's still a perspective, and if we are to hold to some of the principles I am told define post-modernism, then there is no objective truth, no one that is more correct than the other. I of course disagree with that in many ways, probably as much as you do, but that's the thing with different perspectives.

At the end of the day, I don't agree that one perspective is more logical than the other. Again, you're entitled to disagree, but I don't think you or I should change our perspectives simply because one of us or both of us consider our perspectives to be more "intellectually informed".

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Re: Brain Hacks

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby dealing with it on Thu Jan 16, 2020 8:28 pm

You pointed out one large facet of the hack. Promises of the afterlife. Humans may not be the only species capable of delaying gratification for the promise of future rewards, but they are the only one that I know of that can be convinced to delay gratification until after they die.

It is hard to take limited information and admit that there is not enough information to make any decisions. But being able to say "I don't know" is important as far as it keeps the mind open to knowing at some point in the future. I mean in this life, of course. The Christian promise that we will no longer see through a glass, darkly, after death is some mind-trip. It's a brain hack so popular that even I know of it.

We have access to the same information, and I admit that this amount of information is only sufficient for me to admit ignorance. I won't even go into post-modernism.

Logically speaking -- legally speaking, if you will -- the burden of proof is on the person who makes the existential claim. If you say God exists, it is up to you to prove it. My position is the logical one, because it prevents one from believing everything that pops into their head. Atheists demand evidence, and theists are 100% incapable of providing such evidence.

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Re: Brain Hacks

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Lord Saethos on Thu Jan 16, 2020 9:08 pm

You make a compelling argument, but it hinges entirely on the idea that religion is in fact wrong, that there is no God. Having said that, if there is no God, that certainly cements what you're saying, but we need to establish first whether or not a God exists. So I'm certainly willing to give you credit, but I still respectfully disagree.

I think post-modernism has some good points, but I am largely more swayed to the ideas of modernism. I do believe their are some objective truths (albeit they would obviously be called biased), but in terms of morality I believe some things absolutely are objective. I say that not because of my faith, but because some moral principles are truthfully just in the best interests of everyone, they make the most sense. Some people may argue that, "why is it important that humanity lives?" but I'm just simply never going to be able to have an argument on the same playing field with people of that mind set.

But the law is not natural, it is not inherent. It is a construct of human creation, just as logic is. To accept that the "legal argument" is reasonable, we must accept that the thought behind it is reasonable to. But how do you measure that? What metric can we use to determine what is or is not reasonable? I understand atheists demand evidence, just as theists demand the same. I'm saying it's moot. There is no point in demanding evidence that cannot be provided, and there is no point in trying to tell someone they must come to a certain, preordained conclusion based on one system of thought created by the limited knowledge of human beings.

The reason that argument, that the "burden of proof is on theists", doesn't change my mind is that it doesn't really derive its authority from anywhere outside of human perspective. After all, it is atheists that decided to interpret this "rule" this specific way, rather than assuming the burden of proof for themselves. It's a very tailored argument, and I'm sure the same would be said if it was theists saying that the burden of proof is on atheists.

I've heard a lot of the logician arguments made before, but the simple fact is that it doesn't negate the possibility of a God existing, and so long as there is the possibility of a God existing, I see no reason why one perspective would be more valid than another. I recognize the logic behind atheism, I understand the thought process, and I respect all of that. But I do not find it to be a compelling reason to not believe in a God.

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Re: Brain Hacks

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby dealing with it on Thu Jan 16, 2020 9:36 pm

We cannot know whether or not God exists. That's the point. What do you do when you are ignorant? Do you just select whichever answer gives you the feels, or do you admit ignorance? I have chosen to admit ignorance. I apply this to all facets of my life.

I am perfectly willing to believe in God, but only if there was proof. I would rather lead my life knowing my limits than being sure of an answer that could easily be wrong.

I've been an atheist since 1998, when I decided that a just God would rather have a follower who has knowledge, than one who has faith. In the intervening years, I have seen a lot of arguments for God. And as you can see, none of them have been convincing. I've wanted to believe in God, but I recognize that for the wishful thinking it is.

I think you share my agnosticism. An agnostic theist is a "thing": agnosticism does not imply atheism, and nobody is an agnostic without being a theist or atheist as well.

All we have is the human perspective. There will never be an argument that goes beyond that. Our limits are the laws of logic. Mathematically, we can know that 2+7=9. When you start asking why it is so, you are only guessing; we don't need to know why summation works -- what fundamental force or intelligence creates math -- but it does work.

I don't think religion is wrong. It isn't even wrong. To be wrong would imply that it was falsifiable. It's like saying that a poem is wrong. Religion simply provides a narrative. Narratives do not have truth-conditions.

God is a story-book character, with origins dating back to 10,000 BCE. Jesus is likely a conglomeration of several popular folk heroes. In the wild, having such stories may have given us some evolutionary advantage. They might have helped us work together. Since the modern age, I do not see any need for these stories to continue having a hold on our collective imaginations.

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Re: Brain Hacks

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Lord Saethos on Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:16 pm

And how do I know the Earth is a globe? How do I know it rotates around the sun? How do I know there isn't a glass dome around the Earth? The fact is that I honestly and truly do not. I have never been to space, I haven't seen the evidence with my own two eyes, I probably can't even comprehend the math that would "prove" these things. Yet I still believe in them. I am completely taking these facts at face value, with no consideration for the fact that yes, this could all be one gigantic government lie! Doesn't make much sense to me that every government on Earth would lie about it, but I have not empirically proven any of these facts for myself, yet still I accept them.

I have admitted to plenty of ignorance in my time, and I have been having the same debates about God, religion, atheism, logic, etc. for 11 years of my life (possibly more). I'm not new to this whole thing, I'm not unlearned. I simply have come to different conclusions based on what was presented. And I can say that I'm making decisions on what I believe not always based on absolute, definitive evidence, but I'm probably never going to space! So I either am going to believe the Earth is a globe, flat, or I'm going to say I can't possibly know, so I can't presume to believe one way or the other.

As for whether or not I'm an agnostic, I really can't answer that. I won't apply an overarching label to the fact that I believe there is a God, but it's not a simple and straightforward relationship. I still have a long journey ahead of me to gain more understanding, and I intend to seek it out, time permitting.

Arguably the limits to our knowledge is what is right in front of us. Logic says the Earth is a globe, but can I actually perceive it from here on the ground level? No, I accept that as a fact because my perspective tells me it would be ludicrous for all governments, scientists, etc. in the world to lie about it. That's not based in facts, that's not mathematical, it is a decision I make because it is what makes the most sense to me. At the end of the day, it's an analysis I made, and it will only be supported or defeated if I ever go to space. And of course, I would use science to try to prove to flat-Earthers that the world is indeed a globe, but their response will absolutely be to question the authority from which I derive that evidence.

Likewise, I'm only going to know God is the "storybook character" you say when I die. Which comes to the point of why should I believe he's just a storybook character when the evidence is inconclusive, and there really is no discernible benefit to changing my methodology of thinking to match that of an atheists? It's not ignorance, ignorance implies I haven't heard the arguments, the debates, the critiques and evidences. I am the furthest thing away from being ignorant, I have come to my conclusions very consciously, just as you have.

We will continue to disagree, continue to see it differently, and I really don't see the problem there. I'm not looking to enforce my beliefs, values, or agendas on you, and so long as you are of the same mind towards me, I'd say we can live quite amicably in this society we have. I know I keep repeating that point, but I'm really trying to hammer in that religions/atheism don't need to be antagonistic forces in society, no more than our systems of government need to be antagonistic. We're not going to change each other's minds, but at least we're not trying to kill each other, and I presume not trying to force our beliefs on each other.

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Lord Saethos
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