I am the one and only

“Eek! Has Darryl Sloan got a messiah complex?” you cry. Nope. “I aaaam the one and onlyyyy … Nobody I’d rather be!” Good ol’ Chesney Hawkes, eh? You can’t beat ‘im. I’m serious, actually. I love that song. If you can get around the 80s cheese factor and listen to the lyrics, it’s actually carrying a really positive message championing individuality.

Individuality is claiming the freedom to think for yourself, to form and hold your own opinions. And the enemy of individuality is anything which denies you that freedom.

In the previous post I stated that our freedom to think for ourselves is “taken away by Popes, pastors, and every other religious authority that insists it has a right to your mind.” Let me clarify and expand on what I mean by that.

Our freedom to think for ourselves is only taken away because we give it away willingly, and are encouraged to do so. This is illustrated by the way that most Catholics don’t become Protestants; most Protestants don’t become Catholics; the majority of adult Christians are those brought up in Christian homes, rather than people who converted to it from here, there and everywhere. Churchgoers generally aren’t moving towards greater awareness of “the truth,” despite listening to countless sermons week after week. They are buzzing around merrily in their own cliques. That is not my opinion; it is observable reality in all the countless church factions. In my personal case, it is illustrated by the imbalanced state of mind I went through in my earlier years as a Christian – the days when I took at face value what I was told about what it is to be a good Christian. Only by taking back my freedom to think, by slowly realising that I was being fed error on some levels, was I able to say, “No. The way you people want me to think is not right.” And to step away. It was very hard to do, and took a long time. The scope of the problem is illustrated by how many people choose to blindly tow the line of whatever their individual church scene says is right. Churches are not teeming with people who embrace their individuality, nor are they encouraged to be individuals. Paradoxically, all the factions in the church were no doubt created by certain people expressing their individuality and rebelling, but this does not negate the point that the only way to escape the prison of a particular church faction that is in error is to start thinking for yourself and to stop giving up that responsibility to your minister.

The Bible itself, as an authority, is also a problem because when you become a Christian you have to accept all its precepts en masse. If your own intelligence leads you in a different direction on some points, you have to agree with what the Bible says regardless of what you think, because it’s the word of God. Take homosexuality for instance. I believe it’s not natural, okay? I did as a Christian; I still do. But if I allow myself the luxury of disregarding that the Bible calls it an “abomination,” I suddenly find myself able to empathise with other Christians who have been dealing with homosexual urges all their lives, with no evil intent (two of whom I’ve known as close friends, incidentally, and one of whom was responsible for leading me to Christ). And yet, typically, if I’m sitting with another Christian and a homosexual comes on TV, the Christian will happily pass a remark about “that queer.” There is the general feeling among Christians that homosexuality is a great evil, with Bible verses to back that up. My personal individual view is that there’s something very unbalanced about that attitude. So, do I believe what the Bible says, or do I believe what my experience of knowing homosexual Christians tells me? When your indivuality conflicts with a belief system, you’re in trouble. And that’s the problem with belief systems. For me right now, rejecting the belief system and embracing my right to have my own view, it is so refreshing to be able to look at somebody and say, “It doesn’t matter to me what you are,” instead of regarding them with suspicion as if they must be some kind of deviant. If I’m honest, I haven’t looked upon homosexuality as “evil” in a long time; “not normal” is as far as I can reasonably go. So, I’m guilty perhaps of covertly reclaiming a little of my individuality that was not strictly permitted for me.

I’m not just Bible-blasting here. This giving away of one’s freedom to think is equally true of people who vegetate in front of soap operas, and base their moral outlook on the behaviour of what they see there. On the topic of homosexuality, it’s interesting to note how society’s view of it has become gradually more tolerant over the past couple of decades. Is this because people have suddenly become more enlightened? Could be, but (the rights and wrongs of homosexuality aside) I’m more inclined to think the change came about by the bombardment of the population by positive depictions of homosexuality on TV dramas and movies. It’s covert manipulation, folks, made possible only by our willingness to accept what we’re told without thinking for ourselves. True, attitudes to homosexuality really were in the dark ages a couple of decades ago, and social consciousness has probably been moved to a better place, where we’re less likely to kick the crap out of a couple of “queers” in a dark alley, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the means of delivering this better understanding was a manipulative one. I mean, these days a guy like me can hardly raise a single objection to homosexuality on purely rational grounds without being immediately branded homophobic.

The big problem is that we can so easily sacrifice our ability to think for ourselves without realising we’ve done it. Another manipulation I fell prey to at a point in my life is the idea that the scientific view of reality is the only one that holds any water. You get an impression from society – and that’s all it is, just an impression, with no actual substance – that scientists are the truly smart people. Before you know it, you’re beleiving in an axiom like “Nothing is true until I can smell it, taste it, touch it, measure it, or quantify its substance by some means or other.” A man who opens his mind to the possibilty that there may be a God, and who chooses to pray to this God, is seen as backward by comparison. But the wider possibility that science won’t acknowledge is that a whole lot of stuff might be true that we just haven’t discovered with our microscopes and telecopes, etc. It’s no surprise, really, that a great many scientists have an athiestic perspective. They have decided that if they can’t find it, it mustn’t be real. To only have room in your heart for scientific thinking is a great pity. Once you ackowledge that it’s possible to discover truth beyond the narrow constraints of scientific investigation, you realise that the scientific mindset is a prison for your mind – useful within its own capacity, but inadequte as an exclusive principle to live by. The problem is, the wool is pulled over our eyes without us realising it.

Yet another aspect of this lack of freedom to think is what goes on with friendships during our school days. The more I look back on my youth, the more grateful I am to have been a geek – an outcast from the popular crowd. It was painful at times, sure, but the most beautiful gift of this is that peer pressure has absolutely no power over you. Since the popular crowd have already made you an outcast, there is absolutely no benefit to you in doing anything that would please them. You grow into a true individual, making your own decisions, and thinking your own thoughts, without any great feeling that you ought to conform. It’s no surprise that I finished school having never smoked a cigarette or consumed any alcohol.

The ultimate expression of indivuality is when you just don’t give a damn what anybody else thinks of you. That’s largely what’s motivating the direction of many of my posts in recent months. It’s easily mistaken for arrogance, but it’s really just the detemination to live up to a standard that I’ve set for myself: to speak out about what I care about, to be unafraid of rebuttal or ridicule.

It’s an interesting experiment to observe others, keeping your ears peeled for evidence of the fear of what others think – various expressions of the old “What would the neighbours think?” attitude. Even more challenging to look for it in yourself. As ol’ Chesney says, “You are the one and only you.”

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27 thoughts on “I am the one and only

  1. Paulie says:

    I really don’t know what your experience of Christianity was Darryl, but i can 100% say it was very, very different to mine. I was totally encouraged to be my own person, to work things out myself and to find my own truths.
    There was always helpful words there, or wisdom and understanding from others who knew a little more than me, or who maybe went through the same problems as me themselves and could offer advice, but even then i was always encouraged to go away and think about it, what they’d said, what the bible says, pray about it, and find my own answers.

    On the homosexuality issue, the bible also says ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’, it’s always struck me as very hypocritical, the way certain Christians line the streets in protest at homosexuality, calling them ‘queers’ and ‘fags’, telling them how they’ll go to hell, but don’t do the same at baseball games, football games, for every person there who is not a Christian, and by the word of the bible is actually going to hell and is an unforgiven sinner.

    Religion gets the blame for a lot of bad things in the world, and some of the people who have run it over the years really haven’t helped this. But at the end of the day, the people running and following religions all around the world are nothing more than human beings, they’re flawed, they make mistakes and they are corruptible, they are still lead to do bad things for the promise of money, land, and any other treasure trove.

    If someone looks down on a homosexual, purely because of their sexuality they are doing so because they don’t like homosexuals, if you take them out of the Christian church they’ll still hate gays, they didn’t do it because God came to them in a dream and told them to do it, they’re merely justifying it by telling people the bible says so. And again, i go back to my earlier point, if you call out every person in the world who is committing sins, you’d be doing it 24/7, 365 days a week, just to cover your own local area. Yet they feel driven to alienate homosexuals, and not thieves, adulterers, blasphemers, etc. Because those things are more socially acceptable and committed by people they’ve known all their lives, but homosexuality is ‘weird’ and something they’ve not known.

    I have to be honest Darryl, i think some of what you’re doing is blaming others for things you’ve found in your life that you’re not happy with. At the end of the day, your Christian walk although fuelled by things like church and the bible, were still very much down to your own individual walk, you were free to walk away at any time, or speak up against anything you didn’t like, or even just admit to yourself there were things you weren’t happy with. Even if it would have resulted in ridicule or in your being looked down upon, you still had the choice to stand up against that, the only thing that would have held you back was your own fear, which no-one else controls.

    I also have to take issue with the concept of “individuality”, which may sound great on paper, or computer screen, but when you think it through it leads to chaos.
    Should everyone just go out and be an individual, do what they want, think what they want and say what they want, regardless of others? What about paedophiles? Should they be allowed to be individuals? They like having sex with children, shouldn’t they be allowed the same freedom as you?
    Maybe racists, people who get their kicks by caving in some black kids skull with a paving stone, should they be allowed to be individuals too, and do what they want to do?

    I would argue that individuality is great, on certain levels, but it can never be something to base your life on, you can never tell yourself that you’ll just do what YOU want, regardless of others, there has to be responsibility.
    I also think that the whole freedom and individuality issue as a whole is a myth.
    How many of our thoughts are actually unique and individual? How many of our actions?
    How many of the things we believe, regardless of how wacky and weird they are, are unique?

    I’m always reminded of the South Park episode with the dance-off. Where the goths are so hell bent on being individual, compared to society, that they fail to realise they are so strictly similar to each other.

    Who’s to say your current thought is individual anyway? The things you’ve written and are thinking are nothing new, they’ve been quoted a million times, any search on google will bring up thousands, if not more, hits to other sites with people saying the same things. What have you been reading, who have you been listening to? I’ll bet you 9 out of 10 times, the people saying and thinking the same things have similarities in the books they read, the people they like and find inspiring, etc.

  2. Darryl Sloan says:

    Paul,

    In some of the ground you’re covering, I think you’re missing the point of what I’m getting at here: the freedom to think your own thoughts.

    If you want me to be very crude about it, yes, even a paedophile is free to think his own thoughts, whether those thoughts lead him to justify his behaviour or better himself. The alternative is “A Clockwork Orange.”

    Should we stop paedophiles from abusing children? Absolutely, no one’s debating that. Should we try to educate paedophiles to error of their ways? Yes.

    It’s mind-control I’m talking about here, however overt or subtle it might be. Not to say there is a mind-controller out there in the conspiracy sense. Just to say that we need to wake up to the ways in which our thoughts and decisions are often not entirely our own.

  3. Paulie says:

    But how can you help a paedophile to see the error of their ways, without pushing our ways on them? If they see their actions and thoughts as fine, and we don’t, then the only way to stop them from having sex with children is either to push our rules on them, or to try and push our beliefs on them, and help them see that their way of seeing the world is wrong, and ours right.

    Our thoughts and ways are never strictly our own, we get our thoughts from the things we see in the world, the people we listen to, the things we read, etc.
    The best proof of this is when we dream. How many of our dreams are as a result of something we’ve done/seen that day? If that’s going in and staying around until we sleep that night, how much other effect is it having on our thoughts?

  4. Darryl Sloan says:

    But nothing. Do you, or do you not, believe it’s okay to control the minds of other people? Nobody’s saying you don’t catch ’em and jail ’em.

    If you want to really help them, you can also educate them about a different outlook on life and people. Whether they accept or reject the information is up to them. There’s nothing more you can do to change their minds short of electric shock treatment, or whatever.

    “Our thoughts and ways are never strictly our own”

    If you want to give in to the status-quo (to the puppetry that passes for a lot of thinking and opinion today), that’s entirely up to you. But it’s not what I want to do.

  5. Paulie says:

    Locking them up is forcing our rules on them. So, even if you’re only doing that to protect the children, you’re still forcing our way of thinking on a paedophile, because you’re telling him what he did was wrong, and putting him in jail for it. Is that not, in itself, a form of mind control? You’re putting him in jail for what he believes.
    By doing that, you’re telling him, your thoughts are bad, if you express them with other people, you’ll be looked down upon, made to feel guilty and disgusting.
    You say educate them, but that’s just a nicer way of phrasing “teach them that what they think is right, is wrong”. It’s brain washing.

    You’re looking the best of both worlds, Darryl, you want the promise of freedom and individuality, as long as they meet some set standard, agreed upon by the rest of society.

    Is that really any better than a pastor who thinks your not going to church any longer is because of a lack of effort on your part? In fact, it’s probably worse, because a pastor can only make you feel a bit guilty or knock at your door every now and then to remind you, the paedophile will be locked up in a prison for his different thinking.

    This is why i believe your way of thinking, at the moment, is nothing more than a pipe dream, cleverly scripted by the likes of David Icke, to make it sound appealing, but never taking things like responsibility and consequences into consideration.

    Freedom and individuality of thinking only really work, if you either go back to the laws of the wild, where it’s everyone for themselves and only the fittest survive, or if everyone has a pure heart and you don’t have to worry about the consequences of those with less than admirable motives. Which isn’t going to happen any time soon.

  6. Darryl Sloan says:

    “Locking them up is forcing our rules on them. So, even if you’re only doing that to protect the children, you’re still forcing our way of thinking on a paedophile, because you’re telling him what he did was wrong, and putting him in jail for it. Is that not, in itself, a form of mind control?”

    No. Your statement is a blurring of what I’m actually talking about. I have no problem with the paedophile sitting in jail, free to think his own thoughts. It is freedom of thought that is the topic of discussion here. Not freedom of anything else. And education and indoctrination are two vastly different things.

    “You’re looking the best of both worlds, Darryl, you want the promise of freedom and individuality, as long as they meet some set standard, agreed upon by the rest of society.

    There’s no best of both worlds about it. Everyone, good or bad, is free to think as an individual. It’s something you wake up to and reclaim, by learning to see the subtleties of how it’s done and refusing to acquiese to it. I want to encourage people to stop giving this freedom away.

  7. Paulie says:

    But how is the person free to think whatever way they want, if there’s reprecussion’s for having those beliefs and sticking by them?
    This is what i don’t understand about your point, in your main post, you talk about pastors, popes, etc forcing viewpoints, expecting people to live their lives within the boundaries of their setting, then you say it’s ok to force similar boundaries on a paedophile, because he can still think while in jail, but surely putting the person in jail is just the same as your pastor knocking on your door to tell you he doesn’t approve?
    How can someone possibly have freedom of thought, if those thoughts become illegal once acted upon?
    You even agree that there should be some form of education, to convince the person that their thinking is wrong, and how it affects other people, how can you have that AND freedom of thought?

    If the problem is merely one of freedom of thought in your own mind, with no-one else present and/or knowing about it, then why didn’t you just make do with that in your own life, during your own predicament? What was to stop you from just taking on board what the pastor said, ignoring it and being secure in your own thoughts, as to what is right and wrong for you?

    What is the difference between that and a paedophile having to have his thoughts in silent too, not telling anyone for fear of retribution and/or imprisonment?

    It’s all very “1984”. Everyone is free, as long as they stick to the rules. 😀

    I do see your argument, and like i said above, it sounds nice, but it’s just not practical. Thoughts are almost always followed by actions, and if we’re all allowed to think what we want, with no responsibility, no thought of consequence, no fear of judgement, then things will turn bad, really fast.

    Communism is a great idea, on paper, everyone equal, everyone puts a bit in, to help each other. But it’s not practical either, because all it takes is a few capitalists in the mix and suddenly there’s a few people with everything and a lot of people with nothing.

  8. Stacey says:

    The one and only Daryll Sloan 😉

    I’m somewhat surprised at the generalities that you’ve made, considering the books I know you read last summer. You’re repeating lies that Dawkins declares from rooftops and ignoring record straightening done by McGrath. It seems to me like you’re painting the whole world with a brush you found yourself painted with at one point in time, but from your acquaintances you should know that these aren’t fair stereotypes.

    Protestants don’t become Catholic? Attending the RCIA classes here in the US show me otherwise and then there’s Chris. Catholics don’t become Protestant? How about my homosexual friend here who has made that conversion? (By the way, I don’t view him suspiciously as some sort of deviant, and I would no sooner think of ostracizing him or “setting him to rights” than giving unwanted advice to someone who misuses their credit cards.) You can’t blame an institution for the mistakes of its followers. And statistics show that about half of scientists believe in God while the other half doesn’t, no generalities to be made there. Shame on you for perpetuating fallacies of a poorly researched bigot and ignoring the responses of McGrath.

    Since we are talking about non-conspiratory mind control here and Paulie has the consequences of true freedom of thought covered pretty well, I’ll restrict myself to that. I don’t think it exists. It sounds like you’re angry with others for having an opinion and blaming them that you didn’t have your own. Nobody could ever make you stop thinking for yourself. And the correct response to realizing that you haven’t been thinking for yourself is to start thinking, as you have been (kudos for it, btw). You can’t say authority and institutions are bad just because you surrendered your will to theirs without good reason in the past.

    And why do you think accepting authority keeps you from thinking for yourself? I have a counter-example every day in Isabel. She accepts my authority, although sometimes reluctantly and with great dramatics, but she does what I tell her. If she followed her own thinking, she would run into the street, color the walls with markers, take a fall off the fireplace mantel, get bitten by dogs, choke on that penny, etc. I know where these things lead because I have experience and foresight that she doesn’t. She definitely thinks for herself and doesn’t agree with me often, but she is forced to obey me. She retains an astounding range of freedom of action and imagination within the limits I set for her. She will learn after she grows up and becomes an individual that I have reasons for these rules, even though she can’t understand them now. What stops us from using authority such as the church or Bible in the same way? Maybe we don’t understand or even disagree with a particular rule, but obey it anyway, and understand later why it was set up for our own good. This is, of course, assuming that we have already of our own free will and rational thinking accepted this authority. But accepting and obeying the rule doesn’t keep us from striving to understand it better.

    I think its funny that teenagers, like Darryl and Paulie have both mentioned, are fighting for the individuality and end up clones. Chris and I laugh at the clones at the mall all the time. It’s funny you mention that South Park episode, Paulie, because we saw three goth “triplets” at the mall the other day, desperate to be different and all having the same shirt, pants, chain, haircut, necklaces, black lipstick, etc. Pretty ironic. It’s an interesting struggle you have both noticed, and it makes me wonder, is true individuality found in neglecting the search for individuality and just focusing on finding the truth instead? Without fear of what others think, as you said, Darryl.

    My dad was a NAVY counselor (drug and alcohol). When my brother and sister used to pick on me and I would lash out at them, an after school special discussion always ensued. I would inevitably say something like “But they made me mad!” and my dad would reply in an infuriating way, “Nobody can make you feel or do anything.” That’s a key point not only in counseling but in life, and very few people put it into practice. We are all responsible for our own thoughts, feelings, and actions. Regardless of how we may have allowed others to influence us.

    So, from the sounds of it, although I can’t be sure, it seems like you’re abandoning the idea of an objective truth along with your faith. Is this so?

    I apologize for the disconnect between my paragraphs, but it’s a miracle I’ve gotten this out at all. The kids are very unforgiving these days.

  9. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Stacey.

    Okay, maybe there’s some degree of innacuracy in my generalisations. I haven’t done the research, and I’m relying on personal impressions of the way things are. I feel I’m likely to be fairly close to the mark, but okay, I really should check my facts and figures. I have a general impression of athiesm being the prevalent view with scientists, etc. I could be wrong. If I am wrong, good, because it means things are sitting more in the right direction than I had assumed.

    That said, I’m kind of surprised there isn’t a bit more agreement at a basic level with what I’m saying, because I’m pretty sure you believe that your freedom to hold your own opinions is something you hold higher than almost every other authority. I mean, to give you a radical example: If the government passed a law tomorrow that said the police were going to come and take everyone’s children away, you would not obey that law. That’s individuality. What I’m saying is, we’ve got to wake to the more subtle forms of manipulation, as well.

    I would apply this freedom of thought to every area of life, including the Protestant church. And thank goodness I did, for my own sanity’s sake.

    You might place the Catholic church in a category higher than your own willingness to question its authority. I don’t, purely because I’m not a Catholic and I don’t recognise that authority. So, you’ll be hard pressed to convince me that it’s any different than sacrificing my mind to the local minister’s views. But that’s just me.

    As for your parenthood example, like Paul, you’re talking about controlling her behaviour, which you have to do, of course. That’s not what’s under scrutiny here. And she’s at an age where she has to believe what you say, because she’s too young to question anything. The issue will arise later, with how you respond to her when she’s at an age where she does start to question ideas.

    “So, from the sounds of it, although I can’t be sure, it seems like you’re abandoning the idea of an objective truth along with your faith. Is this so?”

    Not at all. I don’t know how I gave you that idea. 🙂

  10. Chris says:

    Hello Darryl,

    Individuality is claiming the freedom to think for yourself, to form and hold your own opinions. And the enemy of individuality is anything which denies you that freedom.

    … Our freedom to think for ourselves is only taken away because we give it away willingly, and are encouraged to do so.

    So, what you’re saying is that nothing is really denying us the freedom to think for ourselves, but we lose lose that freedom if we give it away? In effect, that means the only enemy of individuality is individuality itself.

    Churches are not teeming with people who embrace their individuality, nor are they encouraged to be individuals.

    I think you’re trying to tar everyone with the brush of your own experiences, and that’s not a fair and accurate way to view things. And I think you’ve over-simplified matters for yourself — people aren’t drifting en masse between denominations or between pagan society and the Faith because there are major philosophical obstacles that have to be overcome in such transitions. It’s a bit rash to say that people have given away their freedom to think when the reality is the magnitude of the intellectual and practical changes that would be required of them. I mean, look at how long it took me to convert to Catholicism, and I even had to emigrate to the other side of the Atlantic before I felt comfortable enough to go through with it.

    Most people either find the problems intractable, or don’t want to think about them. In the majority of cases, the problem is more intellectual sloth (and/or dullness) than a sacrifice of independent thought. And I would say the same thing applies to the poor behavior of those under an authority such as the Bible or the Church.

    When your indivuality conflicts with a belief system, you’re in trouble. And that’s the problem with belief systems.

    Why must the problem be with the belief system when you’ve gone to great pains to point out that its really the bad individuals’ implementations of the belief system which bothers you?

  11. Darryl Sloan says:

    This is just a general reply to Chris, Stacey and Paulie. I feel like I’m being so misunderstood here. It’s like you’re reading what I’m saying and your brains are editing it in a certain way; sometimes you’re thinking I’m saying things I’m not saying; other times you’re latching onto a particular facet of something I’ve said and ignoring the whole point.

    For instance, it’s pretty clear that Paulie sees everything I write in the context of me as a brainwashed David Icke disciple who abandoned his Christian faith out of bitterness over a bad experience. Not true at all, on both counts. Talking about my church experience was just an example of what goes on. Chris sees this as me tarring everyone with the same brush.

    I brought up an issue that involved mentioning that a lot of scientists are athiests. The issue in question happened to defend the idea that God is real. But all Stacey seemed to see what that I’m “repeating lies that Dawkins states.” It’s like there’s some kind of tunnel vision going on with you guys when you read my posts.

    Chris and Stacey, you know we went through a massive discussion in an earlier post before finally realising that we were actually pretty much in agreement all along.

    It feels like you guys just read this stuff looking for bits and pieces to jump on, and you miss the major things I’m saying. One more try at clarification …

    Darryl: “When your indivuality conflicts with a belief system, you’re in trouble. And that’s the problem with belief systems.”

    Chris: “Why must the problem be with the belief system when you’ve gone to great pains to point out that its really the bad individuals’ implementations of the belief system which bothers you?”

    The problem is not with the belief system. The whole thing was an illustration of how any belief system (anything where you have to accept a set of beliefs without question) confronts individuality and puts you in the position where you have to make a choice. The problem is that belief systems put us in the position where our individuality is, of necessity, subjugated – which I’m suggesting is not a fair thing.

    Another example of why I feel I’m still right on this idea that church people mostly give up their individuality: Look at how many people in general (here in NI anyway) feel they have to dress up to go to church – to be a carbon copy of the way things are done. So few actually think about it. If they did, they might realise, “Hang on a minute. What are we saying here? That church is just for the upper-middle class?” I don’t want to tar everyone with the same brush. Clearly, Paul had a much better church experience than I had, and that’s good.

    What I am simply doing is highlighting things that do happen, as examples of the way we give up our freedom to think – as an encouragement for us not to do that.

    I don’t know, guys. This is hard. I don’t want to discourage questions and objections, and obviously I’m going to keep going with this stuff, but in the interests of trying to avoid more misunderstanding, I’m going to suggest that you read any new posts carefully, maybe more than once, and think hard about the themes I’m trying to get across before replying. No condescension intended; if you’re already doing that, I apologise.

  12. Stacey says:

    Darryl,

    I think we do agree about the importance of thinking for yourself and you have to “take back”, in a sense, that ability. I was just emphasizing that we do give it away and nobody can take it from us, which you already said. I don’t think we can blame any manipulating force or group for it though.

    Where we might disagree is that I don’t think individuality is important in thinking for yourself. In fact, I don’t think it should be chased after or thought about at all. Then you may end up in a paradox like the goths who all look alike. And I don’t think accepting an authority takes away individuality. I do think searching for truth is important in thinking for yourself, and hey, what are the odds that somebody in the history of the world hasn’t had whatever idea you might come up with as truth? If half the world ascribes to the truth, then great. But I don’t put stock in numbers either.

    Yeah, I can’t quite accept the authority of the Catholic church either, although the Protestant church’s authority seems just plain ridiculous to me now. I’m an ex-Protestant, maybe to be Catholic? I guess we’ll see.

    And she’s at an age where she has to believe what you say, because she’s too young to question anything.

    Hehehe! *sigh* I really wish she didn’t question everything. Right now she’s questioning me saying I have to make dinner and we can’t go outside.

    So, out of curiosity, how do you reconcile this freedom of thought with an objective truth? How are people to judge what truth is if each man is an island? If that’s what you’re saying…

    I just read your latest comment, and I know we’ve been kinda pushing you hard. That happens when you open up all your newly formed thoughts to an audience. It’s not that we’re strictly trying to be argumentative here, but I have caught myself belaboring points and forgetting the larger picture. I’m sorry for that. I really am trying to understand more what you’re saying, and I hope you’ll find more questions than mini-novels from me. I also think there are inconsistencies in what you’ve said over time and am trying to figure out how you reconcile them. This may be because your ideas are new and not fully formed. Yes, at times I’m trying to change your mind, but that’s because I care. And I’m not the only one.

    Sorry, it can be hard for me to read things carefully sometimes, although I do re-read them, because I have a screaming baby in one ear and a “Mommy, mommy, mommy…” in the other. I’ll try to restrict extensive comments and questions to things I have read carefully.

  13. Chris says:

    Darryl,

    Just so you know, I’m going to reply to what you’ve said in reverse order.

    … any belief system (anything where you have to accept a set of beliefs without question) confronts individuality and puts you in the position where you have to make a choice. The problem is that belief systems put us in the position where our individuality is, of necessity, subjugated – which I’m suggesting is not a fair thing.

    Right. I acknowledge and agree that giving up the freedom to think for yourself is not a good thing. That is an elementary and self-obvious truism.

    But what is “individuality”, and how does it relate to freedom of thought?

    I feel like I’m being so misunderstood here. It’s like you’re reading what I’m saying and your brains are editing it in a certain way; sometimes you’re thinking I’m saying things I’m not saying; other times you’re latching onto a particular facet of something I’ve said and ignoring the whole point.

    Buddy, I’m trying really hard to understand what you’re saying. Believe me, any frustration here is mutual.

    I think the big problem is that you insist on using examples and illustrations to demonstrate your point. They really don’t help. Most of the time, you’re extrapolating from a false assumption or a dodgy personal experience, and it’s difficult to see past that because I’m not sure if the falsity is a consequence of whatever your point is (thereby casting doubt on, or proving your point false), or if it’s just something I ought to ignore (at the risk of missing the point).

    Help us all out and just bottom line it. Be dogmatically clear, precise, and blunt, once and for all. Do not go on lengthy justifications or illustrations by example. State, point by point, in order of importance, what the foundations of your belief system currently are. If you use any words that have three syllables or more, please provide a definition of each of those words.

  14. Paulie says:

    Darryl, i’m goig to be bold, and point out that i think the problem isn’t one of us not understanding your points, but that your points aren’t making any sense. 😛

    As i’ve said before, you want the best of both worlds, and it’s just not possible.

    You talk about individual thought and freedom to think for yourself, while mentioning things like people going to church, dressed the same, and showing that religion doesn’t breed individuality, but as i asked you to do earlier, google some of your newly found spiritual breakthroughs, they aren’t new ideas, they certainly aren’t individual and unique, the internet is full of websites be-crying the exact same things and i’d be willing to lay down money that a good percentage of those people running those websites have read David Icke, or other similar authors.

    The reason i keep mentioning David Icke is because a lot of your new ideas and philosophies are what he preaches. You even admitted yourself that part of your new way of thinking was due to reading one of his books. In my eyes you’ve shaken off the old master (religion) and taken up a new one (Icke). At least in part.

    Again going back to my own personal experiences, when i was a Christian, my first 6 or so months i was going to church wearing Metallica T-shirts, Guns n’ Roses T-shirts, no-one said a word, they were just happy i was thinking about God.
    In fact the church i attended was very casual all around, with only a few of the members wearing suits, or getting “dolled up”, most choosing jeans and T-shirts.

    But even if everyone in the church is exactly the same, why is it such a bad thing? Surely as part of being an individual we must also possess the right to be part of a crowd, if we so choose?

    And this is my main point, you chose to be a part of the church, it had no legal means of controlling you, nor any real power to hold you against your will, proven by the fact you flitted between Christianity and Agnosticism, any guilt, sense of loyalty and pull you felt towards the church again, was to do with your own line of thinking.

    Each time i read through what you’re saying Darryl, the more i’m convinced that you’re looking back on a part of your life which at one point you enjoyed, then found a struggle, and because of that and the gift of retrospect you’ve started to blame the church, religion, etc for how you felt. When in fact you should blame only yourself, for doing things you didn’t want to, or thinking things you didn’t want to.

    Your argument about the paedophile argues that he should be allowed to think any way he wants, in the confines of his own mind, but locked up in a prison to stop him acting out his actions.
    My argument is that you aren’t allowing him freedom of thought, if acting upon those thoughts is illegal, you’ve already told him that what he’s thinking is wrong. It’s not even subtle, it’s straight forward denial of his beliefs.
    Yet, in your opinion it’s wrong for religion to do the same thing, forcing people to keep their thoughts inside, for fear of judgement, disapproval, etc. Religion can’t even have you imprisoned.

  15. Andy says:

    It’s finally happened! Sloan has turned into a Hippie……Keep your eyes peeled for the use of the word, man lots of times………I thought when I was round in your house several days ago it seemed strange that you were listening to Woodstock and wearing purple lensed glasses……the transformation begins……:)

  16. Darryl Sloan says:

    Paul,

    “google some of your newly found spiritual breakthroughs, they aren’t new ideas, they certainly aren’t individual and unique, the internet is full of websites be-crying the exact same things”

    I would be very surprised and alarmed if they were new ideas. You seem to think that I would want to be standing alone saying, “Look, everybody. I’m unique. Nobody believes what I believe.” This shows the massive degree to which you’ve misunderstood me.

    Don’t you understand, what I’m talking about here is being allowed to think your own thoughts without imposition? Without somebody saying, “You MUST believe this,” or without being made to feel you have to think a certain way through pressure of numbers, fear, guilt, whatever. Everybody doesn’t have end up different to be unique; they just have to be allowed to have their own thoughts.

    But I know what’s coming next. You’ll view every single act of every person talking to another person as some act of imposition.

    I’m not going to give a paragraph-by-paragraph rebuttal of the rest of your comment. I disagree with too much of it; I don’t have the energy; and I don’t think I would get anywhere.

  17. Darryl Sloan says:

    Andy,

    Look, man … I mean, look, Andy. Grrr. 😉

    Darryl

  18. Darryl Sloan says:

    Chris,

    “Right. I acknowledge and agree that giving up the freedom to think for yourself is not a good thing. That is an elementary and self-obvious truism.”

    Permit me a massive, and long overdue, sigh of of relief. 🙂

    Now, why did I not just write a two line blog article? Because I think we have tendencies to give up that freedom, sometimes without realising we’re doing it – which is why I went into various examples from my personal life.

    “But what is “individuality”, and how does it relate to freedom of thought?”

    Original article, paragraph two.

  19. Darryl Sloan says:

    Stacey,

    “I don’t think individuality is important in thinking for yourself.”

    I defined individuality purely as thinking for yourself, at the beginning of the article, so that it would be clear what I was asserting. There’s no necessity of everybody winding up different. That’s not what I’m saying.

    “So, out of curiosity, how do you reconcile this freedom of thought with an objective truth? How are people to judge what truth is if each man is an island? If that’s what you’re saying…”

    I judge it exactly the same way you do, because you’ve already claimed your own freedom to think for yourself. It happens every time we disagree about something. You feel you have no pressure to believe what I say. I feel I have no pressure to believe what you say. One of us is objectively right and the other wrong. Neither of us are denied the freedom to find our own way towards what we think is the truth, and part of that journey involves learning from each other as we each present out perspectives. It doesn’t matter to me that one of us is objectively wrong. It doesn’t matter if we never agree. What matters is the freedom to think without imposition.

  20. Paulie says:

    Maybe i’m not explaining myself well enough, Darryl, but my point isn’t that you can’t have individual thought unless it’s unique, more that you can’t have individual thought because the imposition has already happened, via the idea and it’s source, for what you actually think.

    If 300 people read a book by the same author, and at the end of it 250 of them agree with it’s teachings, and try to base their life on what they’ve learnt from it, the fear isn’t that someone will come along and tell them they’re wrong for thinking that way, the fear (from individual and free thinkers, at least) is that they’ve already been manipulated and co-erced into thinking what the author wanted.

    Much like from a Christian point of view, the problem isn’t that a pastor comes along and pushes his understanding of right and wrong upon the person struggling with their faith, the problem is that the person has the faith at all, and as such at least partly thinks and/or agrees with what the pastor is saying, lending weight to the argument.

    We’re all lead by the same thing, regardless of what system we follow, which people we listen to or which people we immediately discount as nonsense-speaking fools.
    We get where we are through seeing, hearing, learning, and all of that develops into our current thoughts, this is why it can never be truly individual or free.

    It might be construed as free from the point it’s formed, onwards, if you’re left alone to your thoughts, and no-one tries to convince you otherwise, but if that was the case how could you move forward? If you hadn’t read the book by Icke, or listened to other peoples points of view, which disagreed with religion and even looked as religion as a problem, how could you have come to your current understanding?

    If it hadn’t been for the imposition of others, you couldn’t have reached your current conclusions.

    I really don’t see how you make a difference between imposition and general disagreeing, i don’t see how religion wanting you to believe in God, is any different than someone saying ‘i disagree with your current thinking, let’s discuss it’.

    The only example you’ve given on this is how the pastor made you feel, but from what you’ve told he merely disagreed with your not going to church, and tried to convince you that it would be best to go back. The choice whether to agree with him or not was totally yours.

    How were you denied freedom in that instance?

  21. Chris says:

    Darryl,

    Permit me a massive, and long overdue, sigh of of relief.

    Ok. I still don’t understand why you couldn’t have just put it that way in the beginning. For a writer, you’ve been doing a piss poor job lately of helping others understand you.

    Now, let me reply to something you said to Stacey:

    It doesn’t matter to me that one of us is objectively wrong. It doesn’t matter if we never agree. What matters is the freedom to think without imposition.

    So, what you’re saying is that everyone must realize their own freedom to think for themselves, nobody should impose their thoughts on others, and objective truth is less important than independent thought (and may not be important at all)?

    In what way is this any different from relativism?

  22. Darryl Sloan says:

    Darryl: “It doesn’t matter to me that one of us is objectively wrong. It doesn’t matter if we never agree. What matters is the freedom to think without imposition.”

    Chris: So, what you’re saying is that everyone must realize their own freedom to think for themselves, nobody should impose their thoughts on others, and objective truth is less important than independent thought (and may not be important at all)?

    No. You’ve divorced what I said from its context. What I’m saying is it doesn’t matter that one of us is wrong in the sense that I can accept it without feeling that I ought to be able to force you to think otherwise against your will or against your own judgement. Hypothetically, if I had a probe that I could shove up your nose into your brain, and reprogram you to believe things I want you to believe, well, I would choose not to use it. That’s what I mean when I say it doesn’t matter to me that you think something different from me. To repeat what I actually said (not what you inferred): “What matters is the freedom to think without imposition.”

    “Ok. I still don’t understand why you couldn’t have just put it that way in the beginning. For a writer, you’ve been doing a piss poor job lately of helping others understand you.”

    Well, in fairness, it really only does seem to be the same couple of people who misunderstand me again and again.

  23. Darryl Sloan says:

    Paul,

    “I really don’t see how you make a difference between imposition and general disagreeing, i don’t see how religion wanting you to believe in God, is any different than someone saying ‘i disagree with your current thinking, let’s discuss it’.”

    Crudely, it’s the difference between these two things:

    (a) “You must believe in Jesus. If you don’t you will be damned to hell forever. Jesus says the Scriptures are the infallible word of God. You therefore must believe all of it.”

    (b) “Here’s some information. Make of it what you will.”

    The former is mind-control by threat. I was smart enough (and respectful enough) as a Christian not to use it, but it is used greatly in the church, every time a preacher addresses a congregation (whose minds and opinions he has no knowledge about) and declares, “If you do not repent, you will perish.”

  24. Paulie says:

    But surely that same argument can be made then of Stacey and her children, if she tells her kids not to run across a road without looking, because they’ll get hit by a car and possibly die, she’s doing the exact same thing as a minister who wholeheartedly believes that without Jesus you are going to hell.

    There are some harsh truths in life, Darryl, if you drink bleach it will likely make you ill, if you try and fight a lion, barehanded, you’ll likely get hurt, by your reasoning no-one should inform you of this, because it doesn’t give you a fair option, “don’t fight the lion or you’ll get hurt or killed”, isn’t a fair option, but it’s the only option there is, based on the facts of the situation.

    The only reason being told anything by the pastor seemed any different, was because you had that belief-set, at the time. The same pastor could have gone to any random person in the street and said the exact same things, with greatly varying responses, from “amen brother” to “f*&k you”. The fact that you felt badgered and bullied (in retrospect), is because of you, not because of him or the church he worked for.
    You could easily have told him you disagreed, after all he was a mere man, he could have been wrong, just as much as you could. In fact, you could have argued your own view and ended up converting him to your way of thinking, if your argument was good enough and based in enough logic/fact/conviction, etc.

    I would understand your point more if the pastor had said “you must believe things my way or i’ll be around with a baseball bat next time”, as that is literally a threat, which he himself plans to back up with action, but if he’s merely stating his opinion of a greater truth, and warning you of the dangers, it’s nothing more than words and opinions, which any of us can refute.

  25. Darryl Sloan says:

    Paul,

    I’m going to bow out now, for real this time. Everything I say to you seems to be fuel for disagreement, ad infinitum. There’s a lot I want to say in response, but I feel it’s time to stop.

  26. Chris says:

    Darryl,

    To repeat what I actually said (not what you inferred): “What matters is the freedom to think without imposition.” “

    If that’s really what all of this is about, then I agree with you. If this is something you feel as though you’ve only recently realized, then welcome to the Real World, Neo, we’ve been waiting for you all this time…

    So, in your mind, does “freedom to think without imposition” mean that we’re not allowed to critically analyze your opinions?

  27. Darryl Sloan says:

    Chris,

    “If this is something you feel as though you’ve only recently realized, then welcome to the Real World, Neo,”

    Well, as far as free thinking goes, I’ve been my own man for a long time. But as far as realising the scope of the amount of freedom that is given up by people, often without them realising it, I would to say I have learned a thing or two lately.

    “So, in your mind, does “freedom to think without imposition” mean that we’re not allowed to critically analyze your opinions?”

    No, of course not. And I would expect nothing less than for you to counter anything you disagree with. You offer information with the hope that I’ll understand and agree with it. I do the same. Sometimes we will see eye-to-eye, and sometimes we won’t. Neither of us is manipulating the other, and neither of us would want to.

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