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Anne Lamott On Coming Back After Tragedy

Best-selling soul-keeper Anne Lamott on finding meaning and healing in a frazzled age.

Anne Lamott. Her new book is "Stiches: A Handbook On Meaning, Hope and Repair." (Penguin Books)

Best-selling author Anne Lamott. Her new book is “Stiches: A Handbook On Meaning, Hope and Repair.” (Penguin Books)

Best-selling and beloved author Anne Lamott calls life “erratic, beautiful and impossible.” There is so much that makes us happy, that is incredible and joyful in life. But sometimes, life punches us in the gut. And it hurts—a lot and for a long time. Death, illness, national tragedies—they can tear our lives apart. And it doesn’t seem fair, or right. How we deal with these moments, how we make it through—that can define us, she says.  In her new book — “Stitches”— Anne Lamott discuss how to cope with grief and hard times. Up next, On Point: Anne Lamott on dealing with the tough and the sad.

Guest

Anne Lamott, best-selling author of many books, including “Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair,” “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life,” and “Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers.”  Follow Anne Lamott’s book tour here. (@AnneLamott)

From The Reading List

Huffington Post: What Author Anne Lamott Says When She Talks To God — “‘It’s very easy for me to see God in my backyard with the dogs and the very bitter cat that I call my own,’ she says. ‘But when someone’s sick, when you get the bad phone call, when someone’s heard from the doctor, when the appearance of life is very, very shaky … it throws me completely off my game. It throws me for a loop. I think, ‘This can’t be right.””

New York Times: Anne Lamott: By The Book — “I like to read away as much of the afternoon as possible, until real life rears its ugly head. During the day, I read on the couch in the living room, and tend to read nonfiction or The New Yorker during this time. Then I am in bed by 11 p.m. and read for an hour or so, often a novel. Sometimes I also sneak into the guest room to read in the early evenings — although since I live alone, sneaking from room to room is just a personal preference.”

Read An Excerpt From “Stitches: A Handbook On Meaning, Hope and Repair” by Anne Lamott

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  • george dillon slater

    Ask her about Bill Ryan. He was a great editor who was devoted to helping her when she was unknown. After he perished, and I ran into her, she didn’t have more than two seconds for his memory. Subsequently, I have viewed her extreme religiosity more as niche marketing. Ryan had just driven his Cadillac off a cliff on Highway One, north of San Francisco. She didn’t have the time of day for a man who extended himself to assist her career.

    • brettearle

      Sir,

      It’s one thing to put out malicious gossip, in any case.

      Which is what you have done.

      But it is EVEN WORSE when NONE of us can necessarily confirm what you have said.

      You, sir, are a JERK.

    • Leonard Bast

      This hardly seems the proper forum in which to post a comment in which you pursue a personal grudge. How incredibly childish.

      • geraldfnord

        There are too many “Bill Ryan”s for a quick search to be fruitful; a link should have been provided.

        That being said, though, if what he says should be true, it were not a personal grudge to point to the clay feet of someone whose work I like, but frankly I find seems to be in fact routinely idolised…he should have allowed as anyone can have a bad day, &c., but the point were still a valid and not a purely personal one.

    • geraldfnord

      As indicated below, I am basically sympathetic to your point…but I would point-out that Ms Lamott would freely admit that she were a very flawed person…of course, some of this is very routinised and pro-forma, and celebrity even at the NPR level is no good prescription for actual humility, but she at least formally allows as how the feet of clay are attached to a body of clay, and no golden idol to be worshipped, which grading on the curve of celebrities gets her at least a C+ (only Jeff Bridges comes close to an A).

      It is entirely possible that she intellectually doesn’t want to be idolised whilst not being able to avoid enjoying it: higher status in an hominid band gets you more food, grooming, desirable sexual partners, concern when you’re injured….

  • Leonard Bast

    Anne Lamott’s writings have brought me many laughs and much comfort through the years. At the end of each of my Comparative Religion classes, I always read a passage of hers that deals with connecting to our spiritual selves through rest, laughter, and not taking ourselves too seriously. It always ends the course on a joyful note.

  • J__o__h__n

    There is no such thing as a “fundamentalist atheist.” Which revealed truths do atheists claim are literally true? I would expect a writer to chose words with better care. Time for a podcast and I hope Tom is back tomorrow.

    • Leonard Bast

      The word “fundamentalist” can have several slightly differently nuanced meanings. Fundamentalist (meaning 2 from Merriam-Webster): “a movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles.” Using this definition, it is certainly possible to be a fundamentalist Atheist. In fact, I would consider myself to be one.

      • geraldfnord

        I believe that she were using ‘fundamentalist’ more as a snarl-word (for the stereotypical NPR audience—it’s a purr-word for Salem Broadcasting’s audience) than as a term meaningful in itself.

  • katznkatz

    Mr. Slater save your “hate speak” for a cocktail party.

  • geraldfnord

    Should an honourable person worship a being who set up a universe in which we are liable to eternal torment due to no actions of our own, as well of course of many further actions natural to any being whose ancestors survived via sexual reproduction?

    Should an honourable person accept a free pass from any actually deserved punishment which were bought at the price of the pain of a guiltless third party?

  • X-Christian

    Reality is hard but workable.

    Religion is abjection and solipsism, neither of which helps with making life more manageable.

    • geraldfnord

      Even Marx allowed as how we should not blame people in pain for reaching for opiates, real or figurative…and one thing about religion, it’s at least so obvious a form of sleep that it’s relatively easy to awaken from it—other, more modern sleeps (Stalinism, Fascism, Libertarianism, Nazism, consumerism, normalism, Scientism [though not science],…) are new enough and know how to appeal to our modern sensibilities so well that some of us are more likely to stay asleep.

  • katznkatz

    Not a Christian……Just a regular person struggling with “life”. You can “Never” have enough friends or enough joy in life. In the end gratitude always trumps sorrow and loss. I won’t buy this book. But it sparked some interesting conversation.
    Peace and Joy

    • Leonard Bast

      I’m not a Christian either, but I hope you will consider reading some of her writings. She is a very rare liberal Christian and never beats you over the head with her religion. At the times I’ve been struggling with life, I’ve found her honesty, insights, and enormously wonderful laugh-out-loud humor to be a balm to my troubled psyche.

      • geraldfnord

        I’m glad that her work was of use to you.

  • geraldfnord

    Which were superior, in her point-of-view: not to believe in God, or to believe but to dislike His manners and morals?

    • X-Christian

      The only respectable thing to do is to believe when you have evidence for it.

      People can no longer get away with routinely talking about God (as they did in the past) when it is very clear that there is no evidence for it.

      Imagine how it would feel if while expressing your grief at the loss of a dear friend you were to be assured how wonderful it is that your departed friend lives in the land of unicorns and is entertained all day by dancing leprechauns.

      It would not be kind, nor caring – but it would be like being handed a cold wet blanket in a rain storm.

      • fun bobby

        what caused you to lose your faith?

        • X-Christian

          It took a few years to ‘lose faith’. I now think of it as gaining reality.

          I had begun to doubt that prayers had any effect at all when I was about 45 years old. Then some very specific things happened which proved beyond any doubt that prayer was useless.

          Once I began to think freely about whether God might not be a cultural delusion the entire matrix of religion fell through my fingers – like sand. It was an exhilarating moment of discovery.

          I no longer see any reason, or need, for a god. Though I am happy to look at any evidence for a God – I would also be very happy if no evidence ever arises either.

          • fun bobby

            I have the opposite experience. I was always a vocal atheist. I had some pretty amazing things happen to me and at some point I started praying. I have found it to be fantastically effective if done properly. Perhaps you were not doing it right.

          • X-Christian

            After 44 years of being a Christian and doing lots of praying I’m sure I did it correctly.

            Remember the promises Jesus gave:

            “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
            (Matthew 21:22)

            Some of us learn the hard way that praying to Jesus for a specific outcome is no better than not praying at all. I will confront anyone who claims otherwise with a vociferous debate.

            “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the
            Father may be glorified….” (John 14:13)

            Look closely in the New Testament and you will find 10 explicit examples where Jesus promises to do EXACTLY whatever you ask of Him.

            If it worked – even a little – there wouldn’t be any atheists.

          • fun bobby

            I have had 100% success with prayer. that’s why I think you must not have been doing it right

          • X-Christian

            If you have had 100% success please do this for me:

            Please pray for all the children at Boston’s Children’s Hospital. And for all the mothers dying of cancer to have their cancers reversed.

            I look forward to your 100% success rate to continue – the world could use it.

            What is your secret?

          • fun bobby

            there is one of the ways you might be doing it wrong. when you pray you have to be specific. what do you want for those children? we have the cure for cancer I pray that someday it will be available to everyone who needs it. it does not really sound like you are grateful for what you have already and take things for granted. that can be a barrier to effective prayer.

          • X-Christian

            Wrong.
            You and I are both aware that medical progress will probably wipe out cancer someday – and I am VERY grateful to the doctors, scientists, medical personnel and educators who will make that day actually happen.

            You are ungrateful to all of those people!

            Instead you tell me a prayer will make those people do those things? To conduct the research and raise those funds?

            Hardly.

            What does any of this have to do with prayer? You are really not making sense anymore.

          • fun bobby

            it sounds like you are unaware that the cure for cancer already exists. The government has a patent on the anticancer attributes of cannabis. Feel free to look it up. There are also a number of articles about string
            theory and God although I have not read them. No funds need to be raised we just need to stop the government from suppressing the cure. That’s what I am praying will happen and what the bible predicts will in fact happen.

  • truegangsteroflove

    Pretty good for the most part. We are all limited by our own experience and conditioning. Meditation, especially a disciplined meditation like Zen, can be very helpful in opening up and awakening a deeper energy.

    Regarding forgiveness, there are some people in the world who mean harm. It can be a difficult, depending on the closeness, but a balance can be found between forgiveness and self-preservation. It’s O.K. to avoid people completely if they consistently try to cause harm. You can still wish them well, and as Ram Dass once put it, “Have a nice lifetime. See you.”

    • brettearle

      Separating out forgiveness, from the one who needs to be forgiven, is the hard one for me….

      I do not believe that someone should be forgiven–unless they realize what they have done and own up to it.

      That’s assuming, of course, that I am justified in feeling the way that I do–i.e., that they have truly done something to affect me, adversely.

      But, in any case, I do not believe in the so-called, `spiritual’ approach to forgiveness–where you are doing it to either free your own soul; offer compassion to the offender; or both…unless the person causing harm has taken justifiable responsibility.

      • fun bobby

        If you hold a hot coal in your hand to throw at another you only burn yourself

    • X-Christian

      “deeper energy”?

      Sounds like hogwash. Whatever could you be talking about?

      • fun bobby

        the efficacy of meditation has been demonstrated over and over in experiments

  • X-Christian

    Pop psychology and pseudo-religious mumbo jumbo is destroying this interview.
    Anne is a terrific and important writer.
    But her metaphysics blather is uncharacteristic white noise and intellectually repulsive.

    • J__o__h__n

      It is probably classified as pseudo-spiritual not pseudo- religious. I hope Dr. Phil is on tomorrow.

    • brettearle

      How so?

      Could you elaborate?

      Or do you feel that your comments are intuitively obvious, only to the ones who are otherwise enlightened?

      • X-Christian

        Love, compassion, empathy, kinship and solidarity with other humans are all cheapened when we surrender to groundless claims about spirituality.

        Anne expressed that she gets comfort from those claims and she has a right to them. However, it is important to sound a warning bell that those claims come with a very high price and on balance lead to more pain.

        Research shows that most of us are born with a natural, beautiful instinctive concern for each other. Sometimes that gets us into agonizing situations when we deeply desire to help someone and we can’t.

        Pretending there is a God or a prayer which can literally fix these problems slips into delusion and subverts clear thinking.

        • brettearle

          How is it that you are claiming that her claims are “groundless”?

          On whose authority?

          Who are you to claim that her claims are groundless. Judge not, yet ye be judged….

          You are not being specific enough, about why your little `ole mind, hear, and soul, finds someone else’s avowed beliefs as, “groundless”

          Or shall I simply infer that your God–and I suspect that your approach is a 100% belief in Jesus Christ for all of mankind, but perhaps I am being presumptuous about your thinking–is THE one for whom we ought, and need, to abide.

          My understanding of God is that God has no religious preference.

          But in any case, who are you to say Ms. LaMott’s claims are groundless?

          Do you have some inside information that billions of people, throughout the history of mankind, don’t have?

          Are you suggesting that billions and billions of people, who never believed in Christ, have never lived, and aren’t living fulfilling lives now, much less in an afterlife, in heaven?

          • X-Christian

            There is no evidence that any gods are real. Not Yahweh, not Jesus – none of them. I see no reason to believe in any gods.

            But as I pointed out Anne has her right to convince herself of whatever she wants to. In this interview she repeatedly refers to ‘spiritual’ matters and ‘god’ and so on.
            These are unsubstantiated claims of supernatural things over public airwaves.

            Millions of people believe Mohammed was on a white horse when he rose up into the heavens from the dome of the rock 1400 years ago. The fact that millions believe it does not make it true, nor is it an argument that it really happened. It is an unsubstantiated assertion – it is an empty claim.

            I would turn the question to you – What do you know that I don’t?

            if you have evidence of a god which is real or a ‘spirits’ which are real and demonstrable I would be fascinated to see it.

            Yes, I think it is dangerous to spread unsubstantiated claims which cheapen human life – especially as a consolation when faced with tragedy and loss.

          • fun bobby

            how good is your understanding of string theory?

          • geraldfnord

            Terrible; I didn’t get beyond the reparameterisation invariance of the usual string action—I don’t even know if they use standard Dyson-style path-integrals or not once they’ve got it, though I’d guess….

          • fun bobby

            mine is not great either but someone I know who does understand it assures me it can provide evidence God exists. there are plenty of articles about it.

          • brettearle

            With due respect….

            You have more flexibility than I expected.

            If I have the time, I will respond, at greater length, to some of your comments.

            However, the `nugget’ that I find most troubling about atheists, and some agnostics, is their easy dismissal of billions and billions of people–over the history of mankind–whose Faith led to know, believe, and worship God.

            You can argue all you want–biological wired-in places in the Brain; man’s need for a crutch; man’s need to explain the unknown; man’s need to explain or give homage to suffering; man’s impulse to conjure myth–but many of the people who have believed in God, over the years are the following:

            World class, and first class citizens, who have lived stellar lives with remarkable achievements and accomplishments.

            And billions of other people who have lived very, very respectable lives–with personal success and stable family life.

            Billions.

            That tells me that something Big is going on–about which Atheists and Agnostics chose not to open up to or understand…….because of:

            their stubbornness
            their pride
            their ego
            their obsessions with empirical data

          • X-Christian

            First, I am open to evidence that God exists. So if you have some specific evidence please share it.

            Second, I was a believing Christian for 44 years – I considered hundreds of interpretations of ‘God’ which I thought might work and yet I could not find one that could survive an argument.

            Third, there is a strong peer pressure to do as you are told in our society.

            Fourth, fear of Hell and fear of anarchy has more to do with perpetuating belief in this culture than belief in God.

            Fifth, it is NOT lost on me that billions of people believe in gods. But at some point you have to be honest with yourself. Millions of people believe in UFOs too, this does not mean UFOs are real. Millions of people wish they could fly and dream about it. This does not mean that people could fly out a 7 story building if the ‘only have strong enough faith.’

            I repeat, I did not lose my faith because prayer didn’t work – it was a long list of things which simply did not make sense.

            Peer pressure and societal pressure alone is not a reason enough to believe in a god, it is a reason to consider why the pressure is there to begin with and why the phenomenon of compliance to dogma persists when there is such scant evidence for the Gods they purport to have.

          • brettearle

            You are speaking of culture expectations and institutional expectations and ideological expectations.

            The longer you stay trapped in that thinking you will move further away from even being an agnostic.

            To me., God is not Christian or Jewish or Islam or Hindu, etc…..

            It makes no sense for you to equate UFO belief and numbers, with belief in God and numbers.

            It is like comparing a grain of sand to a cliff from Yosemite.

            Please……

            And FYI…..

            I believe God exists. Very strong belief.

            But I do NOT worship him.

            I do not worship him, because I don’t understand him. I just know he exists.

            I can give you proof.

            But, (1) You likely wouldn’t believe me

            (2) How I know, is of a private nature–unless it’s imparted to those who would likely understand the feasibility, or possibility, of my proof.

          • X-Christian

            I would be happy to consider your proof that a god exists.

            I see no reason to reject any proof provided that is what it is. Anecdotes would not be proof.

            I only pointed to the UFO example because millions of people do believe in them and the fact that it has millions of adherents doesn’t mean it is real.

            Billions of people believe in horoscopes. But just because people believe in them is not evidence that they are real. Horoscopes are nonsense.

          • brettearle

            I am eager to continue the conversation with you, about God’s existence.

            I have no desire to convert you, whatsoever.

            As a matter of fact, I have no idea if disbelief in God makes you better off or not–either for you, personally, or in the case of others, for anyone else.

            Unfortunately, it looks less and less likely that we can continue the conversation.

            It doesn’t matter to me that you might feel that this is a cop out.

            The reason why we likely can’t continue discussing this matter is because of your approach, your perceptions, and your reactions, expressed in your last comments….

            First, I can see that this is fast becoming an “Ego/Conversion/anti-Conversion” battle, which makes little sense to me.

            Secondly, your analysis of my own perceptions about a Christian God, a Jewish God…..etc, is very far off the mark.

            To me, God appears where he is worshiped (aside from likely being everywhere, anyway….even if he doesn’t always, or often, intercede; much less intervene at all).

            If God appears where he is worshiped, then he is an equal opportunity Provider.

            There is no rejection of a God, within a specific devotion. I merely mean to say–and it really is implicit; it is almost not worth mentioning–that God is in every temple of worship.

            In that obvious respect, he is NOT a Jewish God or a Muslim God. He is an everything God. And the Christian God, for example, is merely part of `that’.

            There is no rejection of anything.

            In the case of false Gods and anti-Gods, this may be harder to discern. But I suspect that God’s role is extant there. Just, very likely, in a different way. I simply don’t know–because I cannot say how and why God operates the way that he does.

            That is why I do not worship him.

            I don’t understand him and, to the degree that I don’t understand him, I am also not always pleased with him.

            God gave me emotions. I have the right, as far as I am concerned, to have negative and positive feelings about him…..

            Additionally, i have taken considerable lengths in explaining that I have NO idea how God operates and why; and I do not understand him.

            And yet you say that I have created a God in my own mind that thinks like I do.

            Obviously, I have taken great steps to explain OTHERWISE.

            But you cannot see that.

            We are on obviously different wave lengths of an argument, with even less common ground than I thought.

            With regard to understanding me and my perception of God, you literally don’t know what you are talking about.

            What’s more, even though I have no idea about how God operates and how he functions and who he is, for all I know he may think like I do.

            Bit I SERIOUSLY doubt it.

            There is no point in sharing my proof.

            As I told you, you wouldn’t believe me anyway.

            Although some do.

            Also, my experiences are of a private nature.

          • X-Christian

            Here’s the thing. I was told since I was a child that God is always there. God watches us in some way and looks out for us in some way because we are part of His plan.
            I was told that God is in every person, but that mysteriously we must also understand that there are people who do not believe in the “right” God. In other words, there are many people who follow the wrong religion – being any religion which is not Christianity.

            After 44 years of prayer and going to church I really can’t say any of this is clearer to me. At times I had very deep faith in God.

            But if God is in everyone. And if it is the same God. And if God is in all religions…How can it be that there are literally thousands of different gods being worshipped? And here is the most difficult part; they are all opposed to one another!

            Muslims are clear: If you don’t know Arabic you can’t read the Koran!
            Christians are clear: If you consider other gods in addition to Yahweh/Jesus you are going to Hell.
            Jews are clear: Yahweh is for the Israelites and gave Zion to them.
            And so on.

            Sorry, but if the same God is in everyone how can these individual understandings of God be so vehemently tribal and petty?

            Further, If we have no idea how God operates how can we know anything about him? It seems the entire enterprise rests on so many assumptions and unfounded assertions that there is nothing solid to rest the arguments.

            Even questioning the idea of God’s existence sends some people into hysterics – as if you are attacking them personally! Which is ridiculous.

            Again, if I know nothing of God, and if you know nothing of God we can’t assume that any of the assumptions we have been taught about God are valid. And we can’t know therefor what experience are truly ‘godlike’ and which aren’t.

            We are left to imagine what God is, and we are further left to construct a god in our own heads because we have no other choice.

            Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Jews have descriptions of God. These descriptions are quite specific. They are written in books and they can be discussed.

            If we start by saying “we know nothing of God or how he operates” we are even worse off. We are at that point truly making up God into whatever we ‘feel’ is the right construction; loving, compassionate, lets us live freely, watches us, punishes bad people…and so on.

            None of those attributes are really ‘knowable’ however.

            If we cannot ‘know’ how god operates that is fine. But if we cannot know ‘anything’ about him we have nothing to even start with.

            If we cannot know anything at all about God we are left to speculate about Him – and this is called philosophy, which I certainly enjoy.

            But you need to grasp the profundity of your statement which suggests that you do not have parameters to explain or define God.

            He might as well not exist!

          • X-Christian

            I think God is a manmade metaphor for our ongoing conversation in our heads about how to confront problems.

            When we say “God, what should I do here?” it appears to be an external conversation but in reality we are just trusting in ourselves that we will somehow sort out the right answer. To invoke God then, is really to just have a kind of faith in ourselves.

            In that sense God is real in the same way that looking forward to a slice of Mom’s pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving is real. It focuses the mind.

            He is an imaginary construction to focus our minds on solving problems and dealing with impossible situations.

            But to go beyond that, to imagine that the slice of pumpkin pie in our minds has earthly physical powers or understands us or can perform miracles for us – is where the problems lie.

            “God”, I think, is just an ancient, completely manmade method of talking ourselves through dilemmas.

            The conversation with that part of ourselves will go on.

            But the superstition that prayers are answered (or that the pumpkin pie in our mind can hear us) is dangerous, unfounded and causes nothing but trouble in the world.

          • X-Christian

            by the way, if your God is not Jewish, Christian, Hindu, etc…that is not a good start.

            The fact that you reject those gods is interesting because you claimed before that the vast billions of people who believed in them was part of your argument in its favor.

            All of this suggests that you have created a god in your mind that already thinks like you do. And the routine human habit of creating Gods who think like us is exactly the problem.

            But go ahead. Share your evidence if you have it.

          • Libris Fidelis

            You do not know what an atheist is, Brett. Before you go shooting arrows into the dark you should open your mind to honesty and research both the mentality of god-believing and the stark reality of not believing. Belief and knowledge are opposites, although in minimal circumstances where one is honest enough to realize that a belief is most likely fictionally wrong and is not reality, a belief as a presumptive theory can be legitimate.

          • brettearle

            Before I can discover, from what you say, that I do not know what I am talking about, I first have to know what you are talking about.

            And your comment, above, is barely intelligible.

            I find it to be a thinly pedantic, undigestible chard of run-on sentence gobbledygook.

            If you would be kind enough to either find a good editor–or make, what would be–a formidable attempt at a drastic revision, then we might be able to best consider my ignorance….

            that is, consider my brand of ignorance from your own rancid version.

          • geraldfnord

            The ‘elephant in the room’ is that it is eminently easy for a room full of reasonable people to agree that there were an elephant there, and at least roughly as to its size and its hue and humour, mostly, even if they each can’t see more than a little of it.;

        • fun bobby

          I feel like you are not praying right if its not working

  • brettearle

    You have no problem with someone making a public comment, like that above–PARTICULARLY without substantiation?

    I have great respect for your values, sir…

  • X-Christian

    Atheism makes no claims.

    The atheist does not believe in any gods
    though would not claim gods to be impossible.

    It is an opinion which can change.
    Unlike religion, which is an immovable faith doctrine.

    • fun bobby

      atheists claim that God does not exist. a claim which is impossible to prove. agnostics are more open minded

      • X-Christian

        I do NOT claim there is no god. A god may exist. I could be wrong.

        As an atheist I only say I do not believe in one as I see no justification for it.

        Atheists do not claim there is no god. We simply do not see a reason to believe in one.

        • fun bobby

          http://now.msn.com/christoph-benzm%C3%BCller-and-bruno-woltzenlogel-paleo-scientists-say-theyve-proved-god-exists

          Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.
          -Wikipedia

          • X-Christian

            Atheism is just an opinion that there is probably no God. But opinions can change if evidence arises.

            As an atheist I do not believe. But I repeat – I do NOT claim there is no god. There may be a god.

            Ask a Christian if his faith is just ‘an opinion’ and that should clarify the entire matter.

            I await evidence that god is real.
            Glad to consider it if you have any.

          • fun bobby

            Agnosticism is the belief that the truth values of certain claims—especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, as well as other religious and metaphysical claims—are unknown.[1][2][3] Agnosticism sometimes indicates doubt or a skeptical approach to questions. In the popular sense, an agnostic is someone who neither believes nor disbelieves in the existence of a deity or deities, whereas a theist and an atheist believe and disbelieve, respectively.[2] Philosopher William L. Rowe states that in the strict sense, however, agnosticism is the view that humanity lacks the requisite knowledge or sufficient rational grounds to justify either belief: that there exists some deity, or that no deities exist.[2].
            I do not understand string theory well enough to explain how it proves god exists but that link I posted seems like a simpler proof

          • X-Christian

            I took a look at your link. The Ontological argument for God is very old. There are several variations. It often goes like this:
            Humans can imagine a perfect God, therefor a perfect God exists in the imagination, therefore God exists.

            Another version says, “God is possible in another universe, There are an infinite number of universes, therefore God exists.”

            But these are really just parlor games and playing with semantics.
            You would have a lot of work ahead of you to prove that such a god is capable of impregnating a virgin or rising from the dead.

            I don’t understand string theory any better than you do. It doesn’t appear to be proof of “God”. It just seems to be an explanation of string theory.

            I can’t find any reason to believe in God.

            Do you believe in God? Why?

          • fun bobby

            correct except they also have some sort of mathematical proof that goes along with it. that article just popped up yesterday and I thought it was interesting. I think string theory offers a much better scientific explanation for God. I don’t really understand it but someone who does (MIT physicist) assures me that it can prove God exists. Personally I try to ignore as much of the Mythraic parts of the bible as I can. The veracity of bible stories and the existence of God are unrelated. Over the centuries there has been a lot of editing and confusion in biblical translations so one needs to read them carefully and in context. for example there is evidence the word “virgin” merely meant “pure hearted” and not that she had never engaged in sex, she was a married woman after all, but at some point someone decided it would be a better story if she conceived without sex. probably to make it align more with the Mithraism belief system. I used to be an avowed atheist but I have had a number of experiences that have lead me to believe in God and at this point I would tell you that the evidence that God exists is all around. I don’t think we would be sitting here arguing about this but for the grace of God.

          • X-Christian

            Yes, I did see that mathematical calculations were behind this ontological argument which you linked to – but it appears to be nothing more than a semantic game.

            First, I cannot take it on authority from MIT or anywhere else that the evidence exists. I need to have it explained before I could believe it.

            Second, we are evolved primates. This is the science and I see no reason to dispute it until further evidence shows otherwise. We have evolved physical AND psychological characteristics for our survival. We have evolved 4 fingers and a thumb on each hand. This – by itself – does not prove God exists. Our evolved fears and emotions and hallucination do not prove God exists either.

            Third, Individuals rarely question their personal experiences deeply enough. For example, if one feels lucky he can place a bet on a horse. If the horse wins it easily appears to confirm that he indeed was lucky that day. If he loses, he gives it little thought though he should realize that ‘lucky’ and ‘not lucky’ are both illusions (rationalizations) which we apply to situations to deal with the fact that we are simply not in control of the outcome.
            These are habits of mind. Not evidence of gods.

          • fun bobby

            what if you are not capable of understanding it? do you have a degree in theoretical physics? without further review its a little premature to dismiss the findings of that other study out of hand.
            who said we are not evolved primates? I see evolution itself as proof God exists. what a marvelous system it is.
            how do you answer the question of why there is evolution?
            I don’t know what your anecdote has to do with the existence of God. I spend a lot of time in reflection and the more I do the more evident God is.

          • X-Christian

            I’m not dismissing the MIT evidence. I just can’t agree that it is evidence until someone explains it. I won’t believe it until I understand why it proves god.

            You obviously believe in a God without understanding that evidence.

            My anecdote was an example of how we have evolved psychologically. It is to explain why your anecdotal evidence of god is not by itself very persuasive to me.
            It was intended to point out that we have habits of mind and those habits have the ability of seeing things which are not necessarily what we think they are. In other words, a horse wins a race and suddenly we ‘feel lucky’ when in fact there is absolutely no connection between a horse winning a race and the sort of day you should expect to have.

            Hallucination and delusion are the more likely explanations for personal experiences of Gods.

          • fun bobby

            I feel like you probably would not accept it even if someone where able to explain it to you. I have a lot of confidence in my source but there is no reason you should.
            hallucination and delusions can be related to personal experiences of God but that does not preclude that God is involved. Humans in general use substances and or meditation to access the divine. Moses for example ate loads of hallucinogenic mushrooms which makes the whole burning bush incident make a lot more sense. That does not mean it was not actually God speaking to him.

          • X-Christian

            But you need to realize that you have not yet attempted to explain it. You admit that you don’t know the MIT argument but that you would accept the authority of the study.

            I don’t accept a god claim just on someone’s authority alone. If authorities had that sort of effect on me I would need to be a Muslim, a Catholic and an Anglican at the same time!

            I need to understand the MIT explanation before I can accept or reject it.

            Ontological arguments are very old and haven’t convinced many people.

            You say that humans use ‘substances’ to access the Divine. Again, I see this mere drugs and hallucinations. Since we know that drugs can induce hallucination it seems particularly unhelpful to use drugs as “proof” such experiences are God and not hallucinations!

            You are asserting the Moses ate hallucinogenic mushrooms – i don’t know how you know this – but that does not demonstrate that God is in charge of anything, only that we can have a scary hallucinations whenever we want to if we eat mushrooms.

            I can’t prove that it isn’t god in the mushrooms. But I can’t prove it isn’t leprechauns either – and neither can you!

            Religious people don’t think straight. They make up stuff to fit their beliefs. That is why these silly beliefs carry on and on and on for generations. None of it appears to be based on anything real.

          • fun bobby

            why do you think the Dali Llama has not only the highest recorded score but the highest possible score on the brain scanner that measures happiness?

          • X-Christian

            I don’t know. Again, this does not prove god since the Dali llama does not have anything to do with god.

            Tibetan Buddhism is more philosophy than religion. I reject the supernatural claims until further evidence is shown.

            Meditation, compassion, empathy and the other tenets of Buddhism related to these activities are not evidence of god, but of the natural, evolved power of kinship and solidarity which we share as humans.

            As the agnostic Robert Green Ingersoll said more than 100 years ago, “The only good is happiness, the time to be happy is now and the way to be happy is to make other people happy.”

            No god is needed for any of this philosophy. The Dalai Llama is actually proof against god.

          • fun bobby

            It is necessary to help others, not only in our prayers, but in our daily lives. If we find we cannot help others, the least we can do is to desist from harming them.

            Dalai Lama

            I guess he does believe in prayer.

            One thing I want to make clear, as far as my own rebirth is concerned, the final authority is myself and no one else, and obviously not China’s Communists.

            Dalai Lama

          • X-Christian

            “It is necessary to help others” because this is a godless world.
            There is no god to help anyone.

          • fun bobby

            I feel bad for you.

          • X-Christian

            Please don’t feel bad.

            Godlessness is only scary when you first discover that is our predicament – it gets much better after a few months and years when you begin to realize how wonderful the world is without superstitions.

            Reality is truly much more beautiful that the picture we get from religion.

          • fun bobby

            I personally don’t mess with religion much myself

      • X-Christian

        I don’t think agnostics are more ‘open minded’ as you say.

        Agnostics and atheists share a central ‘lack of belief’ that god is real.

        Many agnostics still go to church on sundays. Some even pray in the hope that the truth will emerge somehow.

        But Atheists don’t bother with church or prayer – we have come to the awareness the we do not believe in a god.

        That does not mean there ‘is no god’ – it only means that I have not heard the argument or seen the demonstration that shows god is real.

        There are millions and millions of us. We simply cannot believe the Jesus story anymore.

        This does not mean the Jesus story isn’t true – it may be. We cannot grasp a reason to believe it however.

        Some people claim there is no god. They are called Gnostic Atheists. I don’t know how to be a gnostic atheist because I believe that a god is possible. But the question is, ‘if god exists, which god is the true god’?

        Or put another way, “which God cares most whether I believe one way or the other and what evidence is there that it matters?”

        I have seen no evidence (yet) of any gods or of divine intentions.

        • fun bobby

          here is an interesting example of the power of prayer

          http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/featured/slave-ship-mutiny-about-this-episode/674/

          • X-Christian

            I don’t agree. Belief in one’s ability is different than belief in a god.

            I have evidence that I am strong and can do amazing things if I absolutely must do them. I am right to have faith in myself.

            It is only asserted that god solved these people’s problems. It is a claim. It has never been shown to be truly god’s handiwork. Therefor it is wrong to have faith in it.

            The assumption that god exists and everyone sort of agrees with that position is fading from American life.

            The real question you should ask about your link is this:
            If a good god exists why were there any slave ships in the first place?

          • fun bobby

            it seems pretty unlikely that one could throw a message in a bottle out the window of a ship and have it found by the right person and responded to in a timely manner without divine intervention but it is anecdotal.
            i don’t understand your question.

          • X-Christian

            I want to know what you are talking about.

            Which God do you believe in?

            Yahweh? Jesus? Both? Neither?

            Because for every single story which has a happy ending there are millions which do not and I want to know why your God allows so much failure of prayer.

            There is no evidence that prayer ever works. When a prayer appears to work it is always something that could have happened without the prayer – but the delusion continues.

            This is why Gods keep reappearing in history and the beliefs hang around for hundreds of years.

            Zeus, Aphrodite, Isis, Osiris, The Hummingbird Wizard – all of them ‘answered’ prayers.

            People allow their delusions to keep being reinforced instead of questioning the truth. Like a gambler who says this time he will beat the house, they go back to the church expecting that more faith will improve matters. It doesn’t.

          • fun bobby

            there is only one God. I could care less what you call him. I don’t get hung up on religion which is what appears to have happened to you. I am always disappointed with any churches I have attended

          • X-Christian

            One God?
            Tell that to a Billion Indians who worship dozens of gods. Some of them might kill you over your statement.

            Vishnu is not anything like Yahweh.
            The Hummingbird Wizard is not anything like Jesus. They are in conflict.

            You are not paying attention to yourself. You are in the process – even now – of inventing a God who thinks like you do.

            You dismiss the church’s god because the church disagrees with you on what god is – but that is because you have constructed, apparently, a god of your own.

            You didn’t even tell me which God you believe in, certain as you are of the one you have constructed in your mind.

          • fun bobby

            I am not too concerned about what some Indians think. Nor do I fear them. what’s a little skinny Indian going to do to me? Have you been to India? I hear it sucks there.
            as you have ascertained I am somewhat of a gnostic and do not really truck with anyone else’s preconceived notions. God is within all of us and always present. If you think god lives only in a dusty old book or a building full of pedophiles then I can see where you are getting hung up. Its like how the Grinch thinks that Christmas comes from a store.

          • X-Christian

            Your comment, “god is within us” remains only an assertion.

            “is always present” is another assertion for which there is no evidence.

            “Lives in an old book” implies that I think He ‘lives’. I do not; any more than Gandalf ‘lives’.

            The Grinch was correct, by the way. Christmas does only come from stores. But the compassion which grows in the Grinch’s heart is nothing more than the natural happy awakening of kindred emotions and empathy. It is not triggered by a ‘god’ but by the awareness of his own cruelty. This happens every day without any gods lurking in the background.

            The crime is to attribute it to gods. We should celebrate that it is us doing awakening our own senses – and it has been hard won.

          • fun bobby

            why is evolution?

          • X-Christian

            I have no evidence that a god or the supernatural is behind any of it, and lots of evidence that it is all evolution and natural processes.

          • fun bobby

            sure but why is it?

          • X-Christian

            Are you asking what started evolution?

            I do not know the answer to that.
            Lack of an answer does not trouble me.

  • fun bobby

    this is exactly the kind of programming which makes me change the station

    • kokyjo

      change it “fun bobby”. it’s your CHOICE

      • fun bobby

        i did

  • fun bobby

    its funny how discussion of God is such a turn off to listeners of ‘BUR

  • fun bobby

    any examples?

  • cypress

    Passionately pro-gun control but she puts a metaphorical gun to her head for motivation. Don’t worry, no one is going to assume you are for gun rights because you used a gun metaphor. She must think gun rights supporters put real guns to their heads when they need that little extra something to get themselves moving. I am truly glad you don’t own a gun lady, because you don’t have a clue about responsible gun ownership.

  • fun bobby
  • katznkatz

    In the END you can spend thousands of hours trying to win some kind of “intellectual argument” over who’s faith is the purest, better, or more clearly defined. But the truth is everybody will lose.
    Ultimately organized religion is a NATION KILLER. It ruins countries, economies and destroys families…… in the end there is no pure religion. It is values and humanity that MUST be fostered. Not an old book that has fashioned a great big lie……and continues to DIVIDE people (s). I cast no aspersions to those true believers. I fear them because it is just those people that continue to destroy the fabric of humanity. Goodness is within us. It is up to “us”, not a rabbi, imam, priest or minister to tell us what to think and how to think. My minister is an avowed atheist. I learned more about the bible from him than those scary fire and brimstone sermons I was exposed to as a young child in the catholic church. He is the most moral and compassionate soul I have ever known and I am pretty old. I attend a Unitarian Church locally. We believe in economic equality and freedom. The bible doesn’t teach that.

    • Libris Fidelis

      “Religion has absolutely nothing to do with believing in god… the word comes from the ancient Greek root word religioso which means “way of life”. If you brush your teeth every morning THAT is a religion. The WAY someone might believe in a god would be a religion, but not the belief itself.” Ronald Kinum 2001

  • katznkatz

    I know so what is your point??

  • X-Christian

    The Bible didn’t give anything to the shepherds that they didn’t already have.

    The Good Samaritans have always helped the poor without any injunctions from gods. It is human nature to help the less well-off.

    Spirituality cheapens human life as it encourages supernatural wishful thinking.

    Catholic Hospitals are very over-rated and wasteful. They invest an enormous amount on promulgation of the faith while rejecting effective treatment for sexual diseases.
    Secular charities like Doctors without Borders, The American Red Cross and Amnesty International are much better models.

    Religion poisons everything.

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