Fandango’s Provocative Question #163- Semantics

There are so many tangents this question can produce. It’s taken me a long time to work out my thoughts toward the briefest and least complex answer to the exact question.
There’s a whole intellectual course of study on “semantics”. Our human ability for language, as remarkable as it is, has its own ‘minefields’. There are cultural divides when it comes to understanding each other, as well as many nuances in defining our most human complex concepts. I simply cannot keep up with modern efforts at redefining once widely held understandings!
Here’s my thought process on the question (It is thoroughly a scientific method examination of the language not a judgement on the concepts we’re using.)
A previous discussion I had with our friend Fandango, produced an interesting difference in our understanding of this language. As many emotionally charged topics do, I think that we each jumped back and forth from the meaning of words into the endless quagmire of the meaning of a higher Truth. A darn dangerous leap for sure! I don’t think either of us claimed we were ‘correct’ and left the discussion on the understanding that we were simply “talking past each other”.
Do you believe that atheism is a set of religious beliefs or is a religion in any sense? If so, why? If not, why not? Or, do you have no opinion on the matter or just don’t care one way or the other?
My answer is: Yes, it’s a religious belief and I’m not sure whether it could be called a ‘religion’. Atheism’s ‘believers’ (Making a definitive conclusion on an unprovable concept is a belief.) certainly ‘take on’ some of the qualities of religious people (certainty, easily offended by disapproval, somewhat organized) but it doesn’t really have tangible tenants. So, I’ll claim unsure on that.
As for my opinion that atheism is a ‘religious belief’? It comes down to my understanding that it’s a position, belief, or claim within (and regarding) the topic of religion. That, in my world, is a ‘religious belief’.
The example I used to explain a similar dynamic was the concept of politics. One simply cannot have an opinion on politics that isn’t-by default- a ‘political opinion/belief’. An apolitical person, with no opinion on politics, is the opposite of one who is political. In the same way, an agnostic person (who doesn’t want to enter into a religious discussion) is the true opposite of holding a ‘religious belief’.
It seems an unpleasant, unfriendly, conclusion made only according to my understanding of the semantics because an atheist basically wants to be anything but religious. Saying that technically-when applying the rules of language- their position is a ‘religious’ one, obviously would inspire push back and reaction. No offense is intended. It’s only an opinion with reasons. 😉
One of my statements during the discussion that inspired this wonderful question bears repeating… “No one has the power to offend or change you, if you don’t give it to them.”

https://fivedotoh.com/2022/03/30/fandangos-provocative-question-163/


Survival: A Balancing Act

The Olympics made me consider the age old formula of having balance in our lives. Even our food choices are best when there is balance. The Olympians were outstanding! Yet, I always wonder about their “inner” health when I realize how much of their existence is focused upon a few days, sometimes seconds, of time.

So, I created a chart of what, I believe, is true of life for human beings. As I was creating the chart, I couldn’t help but think of examples of extremes. As for Olympians, they are dedicated people who make sacrifices that I do not understand but who make me endlessly proud.

First, and foremost, our need is for survival. Whatever we do, survival comes first because everything else simply counts upon it.

There is wealth. I define wealth as anything tangible in excess of what we need to just survive. We all want comforts and wealth is not a bad thing at all. Wealth makes for prosperity and, often, longevity. You may call wealth, “comforts and currency”. Greed is at the center of those who lopsidedly surround themselves in wealth but no one should be ashamed of pursuing wealth. Wealth inspires innovation and progress which, most often, benefit humankind. We can easily name world leaders and professionals who specialize entirely in the pursuit of wealth and they are, in my mind, detrimental to us all.

There is discovery. It could be subtitled adventure. Ah, what would science be without the hunger to discover. Many of our forefathers came to this country from the need to discover. And we continue to question and learn everyday of our lives from the engrained human impulse for discovery. The Olympians fall primarily into the “overindulging in discovery” crowd. Their mission is to discover the limits of the human body and to test its endurance. Although many of them become wealthy, I believe that their excessive commitment belongs to a zeal for personal discovery. On the down side, scientists who ignore the ethics of scientific study are guilty of placing way too many “eggs” in the discovery “basket” and are my example of a dangerous group. I think arrogance is their primary motivation but greed also plays a role.

Finally, there is enlightenment. Religion and philosophy are the tools in this search for answers. Most often religion and philosophy are at the center of what separates us from our id of savagery. Generosity, forgiveness, and introspect all come from our search for enlightenment. When enlightenment outweighs the two previously mentioned needs, we have the jihad. Holy wars even misplace the human need to survive. Suicide bombers seem the best current example of the danger to humankind from weighing too heavily upon enlightenment.

So balance is still the key to the “good life”, and in my estimation, the spread of imbalance is a direct danger to our survival.

Family Love

When a marriage brings two people together, it brings two family philosophies together as well. The man and wife are drawn to each other but they just may have different ideas about life, love and parenting that can place a strain on their relationship.

At first, love is physical…life is forever…dreams are shared.

Then, they fall into expectations they have from a personal journey that each partner has taken without the other. The growing up in another household. The couple comes to realize that their dreams and expectations are grounded in that separate upbringing.

The sharing of love, hopes for happiness and family unity are defined differently in many nuclear families and can be a real obstacle to a “happily ever after” scenario in the brand new family made in marriage.

Recognizing the differences is the first step.

Hopefully the next step is accepting the differences as different. It is all too easy to feel they are wrong and right.

Overall, each partner needs to accept yet retain their separateness. People have signals that require definition to each other or misinterpretations are inevitable.

Being a family is not easy…combining phylosophies, religion, values, and dreams can be really tricky. It takes much effort and a lot of unconditional love and two people who support each other equally. Good luck to everyone!

THAT is my answer…

My house is separated from my neighbor by six feet.

We have a privacy fence along that entire side because “good fences make good neighbors”.

On my side of the fence, I have a bird feeder. The bird feeder has been there for about 15 years. The neighbors are new.

This Spring there was the usual bird feeder “traffic”. Of course, birds and squirrels also, chipmunks collected the leftovers.

June arrived and new neighbors put up a large above ground pool. (a nice one) I usually slow down on the bird feeder refills at this time of year. I figure the wild animals should not become too dependent. Also, I’m broke from all the winter feedings.

One day, the neighbor asked if I was still feeding the birds. They were concerned that the chipmunk population would take over their yard and eat holes ,from below, in the lining of their pool. I had never considered that…I really had no reason to keep feeding. I said I would do it only from October to May. They were glad.

Today, my friend’s husband was in our yard. He asked why my feeder was empty. I told him the neighbor’s story. He said, “Why did you stop?” He went on to say that if it were he, he would never stop feeding. It was his yard and he had the “right” to feed the birds. I answered,”Being a good neighbor is more important than exercising my right. Besides, I have a big yard and, even though the fence gives me the best view, I have other choices.”

It wasn’t until later that I realized the situation was a bit like the Mosque at Ground Zero. At the very least, American Muslims should want to be good neighbors.

That is the most basic reason why I am against the Mosque at Ground Zero.