Psychological Self-Help

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8
I attack your beliefs. I want you to know that I have doubts about the
existence of a God, but there are certain values I believe in, especially
the Golden Rule or caring for others (a central theme of most
religions). I offer no threats if you don't believe as I do, instead I offer
my understanding because philosophies are hard decisions... and may
strip us of comfortable self-delusions and lead us to a hard life. I can
not even assure you that I am certain about my own ideas regarding
values, but as Mahatma Gandhi said about his beliefs, "they appear to
be absolutely correct, and seem for the time being to be final. For if
they were not, I should base no action on them." I have done my
homework; I only ask that you consider my opinions. Your beliefs are
always your choice (so long as they don't hurt others). 
Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing
why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose.
-Albert Einstein
Lastly, our philosophy of life and the meaning we find in life
may change as we go though life. We mature, we learn, our needs
change, we have new relationships, our jobs make new demands on
us, we have children, we are successful, we fail, we approach death.
These things change our values. Changes in values usually result from
conflicts: we act in ways we don't value, we see another viewpoint, we
recognize inconsistencies among our values, we are pressured to
change our values by others, and so on. In many of these conflicts,
such as individual freedom vs. responsibility for others or happiness
vs. achievement, there are persuasive arguments on both sides. The
lady symbolizing justice carries a balance scale. Such a scale
constantly moves because reasoning and the weight of moral
arguments constantly changes. But logic and moral judgment are not
the only factors changing our values. More important may be
rationalizations, biased self-protective thinking, emotional personal
needs, and even unconscious factors. So, to have true wisdom about
our values requires knowledge and reasoning skills, awareness of our
irrationality, insight into our emotions, and some probing of our
unconscious. That is hard. 
The Golden Rule 
Religions claim to be the source of our values and morals. These
may often be false claims, because the values are older than the
religions, because many religions claim the same ideas, and because
several studies provide no evidence that religious people are more
caring, loving, generous, or helpful than non-religious people (Kohn,
1989). (Kohn cites evidence that religious folks are, on average, more
intolerant of minorities.) Perhaps the rewards of religions--salvation,
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