It really gets my knickers in a twist when people assert that all religions are basically the same. Do they mean that they all teach the same values, or that they all are pointing you in the same direction? It's simply untrue.

With no offense intended to either tradition, I'd like to make a fairly unsubtle comparison between the Muslims who believe that dying in war defending one's faith will ensure a share in paradise (paradise being a place of sensual delights) with Buddhists who believe in non-injury to fellow sentient beings and whose goal is nirvana (which is the end of desire and the obliteration of self). Sorry, but these are not two creeds that teach the same values and lead you to the same ultimate destination. You can't boil all religions down to a single lowest spiritual common denominator.

Another nodeshell rescued!

I was raised without religion. Never minded one bit. I thought it was silly, and told my friends so who clung to faith. However, there were two (far removed) times that my arguments exascerbated the doubts of two different friends enough for them to decide that they no longer believed in their God(s). They developed a brand of despair and rootlessness: one adopted atheism militantly, reading manifestos and joining mailing lists - the other decided buddhism was the way to go, and submerged his personality in that conversion.

I was disturbed at playing a part in removing some sense-making part of their lives, and disassembling beliefs that had been useful in their lives, which allowed them to do what they did - design, bike riding, music - secure in their sense of their world.

In college, my mind was blown at least once a semester by the deconstructing powers of anthropology: everything that was accepted was called into question. Nothing was true. This was the point i realized that i would have to choose those things i needed to believe in, and try to knit something together, some faith of my own, and employ the doublethink, knowing that it was invented and believing it to be true. All truths are invented in some sense, but that is not my point.

My point is that the lowest spiritual denominator is that spirituality makes sense of the world, whether in an atmospheric, impressionistic way, or through a rigid unquestionable translation of phenomena. We need sense: without it, we are powerless to act in the world.

Congratulations, iDeath! You've just independently derived existentialism.

I've come to the same conclusion you have about not proselytizing atheism. Just because I'm lucky enough to walk around freely without a crutch, doesn't mean that I'll be doing other people a favour by kicking their crutches out from under them.

In fact, I've come a full circle, and now (waaaay on the backburner, unfortunately) I'm trying to distill what it is that people today really need and expect from a religion. What if a religion that gives them precisely these things could be synthesized-- from the traditional holy books as well as from more recent ideas about ethics, cosmology, psychology, sociology? What if, instead of relying on a blind, fanatical obedience (needed to preserve the integrity of information in an age before digital media, printing, and in some cases even written language) it was completely open to debate, interpretation, ammendment (and filtering of what ammendments you do and do not choose to see)? Religions may not all be the same, but I'm hoping that human nature has enough similar features accross cultures (and is converging even more with every advance in transport and communication) for this to work.

See also:
If you could start a new religion, what would it be?
Here's what I hope to do with the Everything code or with something like it.

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