Losing faith

If which religion you follow is a matter of choice, then having any religion at all is also a matter of choice. You don’t have to have one.

It's just a choice

Breaking free – it’s just a choice

What you choose to believe will be based on a combination of reason and emotion. There’s nothing wrong with that. It should a) make rational sense to you and it should b) feel good.  If you don’t have high levels of both of those at present, put your world-view on hold and look for something more satisfying. My suggestion: start with a book on comparative religion that deals with the history of religious development, and follow it up with a simple book on the history of science. (For a new non-fiction subject, try starting with a grade school book with lots of illustrations. That way you can see how other people pray, and what the first machines looked like when they were working, etc.)

Those who lose their faith (whether or not they choose a new one) don’t end in despair. When you live within a world-view that you’re comfortable with, it makes you less conflicted, less stressed, more relaxed, more able to give your attention and energy to family and friends.

There can be a troubling loss of investment in the former faith, and a natural disruption within your circle of friends. But it’s no worse than getting married, or divorced, or changing careers or countries. If you think your current situation is wrong for you, you’ll almost certainly end up happier if you actively seek to change it.

An excellent resource for anyone (of any age or stage of life) thinking about these issues is the Reddit atheism sub-group. (Warning: this is one of those places where you can easily lose several hours, though your mind will be richer for it.)

Enjoy your life. The right choice is always the one that feels most satisfying on the deepest level.

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Best resources – Archaeology and History

Every week David Meadows, aka The Rogue Classicist, assembles links to every archaeology-related story that he comes across for his Explorator mailing list, sorting them into:

  • Early Humans
  • Africa
  • Ancient Near East and Egypt [This is where the Jews are… and the Romans, sometimes]
  • Ancient Greece and Rome (and Classics) [This is where the Romans are… and the Jews, sometimes]
  • Europe and the UK (+ Ireland) [Note: don’t ask me why he calls it that…]
  • Asia and the South Pacific
  • North America
  • Central and South America
  • Other Items of Interest
  • Touristy Things
  • Blogs
  • Audio/Video News
  • Crime Beat
  • Numismatica
  • Exhibitions, Auctions and Museum-Related
  • Performances and Theatre-Related [yes, David’s Canadian, if you’re wondering about the spelling]
  • Obituaries
  • Podcasts

In a good week, a single section may look like this:

EARLY HUMANS

Using ‘foodprints’ to determine the diet of early humans:
http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-hominin-diet-20111022,0,7613706.story

Pondering the short legs of Neanderthals:
http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-10-mysteries-short-legged-neandertals.html
http://www.livescience.com/16623-neanderthal-short-legs.html

We can apparently blame backbone fractures on evolution:
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-10/cwru-bbf101911.php

On the evolutionary roots of ‘culture’ in humans and apes:
http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-10-culture-humans-apes-evolutionary-roots.html

A Neanderthal find from the Netherlands … so far the coverage is only in Dutch:
http://www.nu.nl/wetenschap/2643248/werktuigen-neanderthalers-gevonden-in-limburg.html
http://www.blikopnieuws.nl/bericht/135825/Honderdduizend_jaar_oude_werktuigen_Neanderthaler_gevonden.html
http://www.limburger.nl/article/20111017/REGIONIEUWS06/111019666/1021
http://www.wetenschap24.nl/nieuws/artikelen/2011/oktober/Gereedschappen-Neanderthalers-ontdekt-in-Limburg.html
http://www.hartvannederland.nl/nederland/limburg/2011/bijzondere-archeologische-vondst/

Feature on figuring out where the various ‘ape men’ fit on the family tree:
http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/hominids/2011/10/how-africa-became-the-cradle-of-humankind/

… and the mutation which may have led to the genus homo:
http://www.nctimes.com/news/science/article_cf0b51dc-531b-5a9a-9ef1-b2cb9fbeb21a.html

More on the blades (and their implications) found in that Qesem Cave ‘production line’:
http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-10-archaeologists-blade-production-earlier-thought.html
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I strongly recommend it. It ranks right at the top of my favorite reading for the week.