• Earold Gunter

    Thanks for this very informative article. It is surprising, and relieving as well that the U.N. takes matters such as this into consideration. Oftentimes when dealing with issues which are very personal to you, it is difficult to realize that others are also dealing with the same issue.

    I believe Dr. Bielefeldt’s views on human freedoms, and the limitations imposed on those freedoms by those whose beliefs are driven by the need to feel that this life is not the only life, was concisely articulated when he said, ”But the perception of freedom of religion is that there is a stop sign.”

    The believers in a God, that are made up of many religions have always sought to “force” their beliefs upon everyone else. This has always been viewed by societies as “acceptable” behavior, although at times an annoyance, like when Jehovah Witnesses come to your home trying to talk to you about their religion. However, the same criterion does not apply to those with non-religious views. Non-believers have at worst been made criminals through laws, and at least ostracized by society if their views are espoused publically, or even privately.

    Non-believers have been walking on eggshells for far too long not speaking up against irrational, illogical religious beliefs. The religious dominated societies they live in have systematically taken away their basic human freedoms by enacting laws, based on their religious beliefs, or creating a social taboo about speaking out against them.

    It is far past the time when humans should stop reacting to the fear of the unknown by creating stories designed just to make them feel better.

    Live life, love people, without the promise of the carrot or the threat of the stick.

    Good day!

  • Charles Randall Paul

    I applaud the clear distinctions made in the interview.

    I also agree that most cultures find it difficult to appreciate equally those who tell hopeful (Plato called them ‘likely’) stories and those who tell a story that grown-ups shouldn’t tell stories. The problem is teleological humans desire to live for a purpose that is ratified socially as noble AND hope inspiring. When agnostic skeptics go door to door or blog to blog with their admonition, ‘Live life, love people’ and do it because I say so and for no grand purpose, they are at a disadvantage compared to hopeful teleological story tellers. There is always an implied carrot or stick to all human interaction too. Live life and love people to be happy (carrot) and if you don’t you will be unhappy (stick).

    Thanks for the article and the response.
    C. Randall Paul
    Foundation for Religious Diplomacy

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  • Earold Gunter

    Mr. Paul,
    My closing phrase “Live life, love people” is THE purpose for existence in my humble opinion, and is indeed a very grand one. The phrase is not intended to be an admonishment or a command for anyone, but if you feel it is to you, you may want to ask yourself why you feel that way.

    It is merely a phrase intended to provoke thought, especially from believers who may very well act in this manner, but do so only for eternal reward, and escape of eternal punishment. I know humans do not need these “incentives’ to act in a loving manner towards fellow humans as there are many of us who don’t believe in a life after this one, but still choose to act in this manner.

    Religion or perhaps more specifically the belief in a life available in bliss or torment eternally after this one only serves to falsely incentivize what human should naturally want to do anyway. This is very similar to the fable of Santa Clause, which is used by many parents to give incentive to children to behave. I think the creatures of nature live in harmony without having to believe in an afterlife, and we should be able to as well.

    I had an opportunity to visit your foundation web site where your goal is for religious people to live in “peaceful tension”. This reminds me of the childhood of a friend who grew up with an alcoholic parent, where peace was only had by keeping his mouth shut, and tension was the normal atmosphere. This wasn’t a good way to live his childhood, and it should not be the ultimate goal of human kind.

    You seek to end the violence brought about by people with disagreements of belief, and I seek to do the same by ending those beliefs. I choose to speak out against religious beliefs, or as you stated it “go door to door or blog to blog” (kind of creeps me out you know I do this), as I don’t have a foundation or web site to post my opinions, so I speak out where I can reach believers.

    You see, it is only belief in religion, or utter madness that drives someone to strap a bomb to their body, detonate it killing themselves and others, or hijack a plane and fly it into a building killing themselves and others, or be part of a group of people who scream foul, hurtful, vicious things at grieving parents who are trying to bury a loved one who has died in war, or be a representative of a group who tells people in a third world country where sexually transmitted disease is devastating their population that THE God says wearing a condom will result in an eternity in hell.

    My goal is much simpler, just peace, no tension. Mankind living with mankind in a manner that allows all to live life to the fullest extent possible.

    Although I don’t believe that what you are trying to achieve is possible, and I think it falls woefully short of what mankind deserves, I applaud your recognition that difference of religious beliefs have resulted in violence in our world. I also applaud your attempt to mitigate it, albeit from inside the irrational bubble it resides.

    Live life, love people, without the promise of the carrot or the threat of the stick.

    Good day!

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