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Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
KnightEnder made a comment a while back about how for an atheist, living in Texas is hell. Now, aside from the fact that anyone could call my state, home of tex-mex food, hell for any reason but the outside temperature from about May-September, I wonder how many of you atheists here feel that you are persecuted. I've never been an atheist, but would like to understand what aspects of either day to day life or society in general you feel don't accept you. So much of the religion-nonreligion battles I find kind of silly, like whether to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. (I say Merry Christmas because that's the holiday I celebrate, and have no problem with anyone wishing me a happy-whatever they celebrate.)
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
Oh, absolutely. It's rarer than, say, racism, not least because you can't tell at a glance if someone's an atheist, but I know many people who consider loathing and distrust of atheists to be a logical reaction. In poll after poll, Americans say they'd be less likely to trust an atheist with anything of any importance than almost any other demographic.
 
Posted by caladbolg1125 (Member # 3666) on :
 
As an out and proud atheist I have not really been persecuted, just prosyletized at. I'm from Houston, too and I've never seen anything of the sort in my modest twenty years.

My parents never took me to church or anything but Christianity (Quaker (well, Friends really) on my dad's side, Lutheran on my mom's) is in our background. I still say Merry Christmas, but if you were to ask me about it, I'd say that I celebrate the pagan version of it. [Razz]

BTW, the weather has been wonderful lately. We get about a month of "winter", two weeks of spring and then its back in the sauna.
 
Posted by Omega M. (Member # 1392) on :
 
The blog of the Christian magazine First Things recently had a column about this. I think I'll post it all here, as it's all pretty interesting. Perhaps the most important sentence is, "It would be odd for an atheist to claim that his understanding of all of reality should have no bearing on how other people treat him."
quote:
Are Atheists Victims of Discrimination?

“Are atheists discriminated against in America?” That’s the question a CNN journalist recently asked me during an interview for the Paula Zahn NOW show. I must confess that, at first, I wasn’t sure how to answer, never having considered the question.

In my twelve years at a Quaker school in Baltimore (staffed and attended by non-Quakers), my six years at an Ivy League university, and this year in Manhattan, all I have ever witnessed has been atheists’ discrimination against Christians. At Princeton, there’s certainly no anti-atheism going around. If anything, there’s a steady supply of anti-Christianity. My friends working on Wall Street and attending the best medical, business, and law schools all report the same phenomenon: Among the professional and intellectual elite, it’s assumed that educated people are nonreligious. Intelligent religion is considered oxymoronic.

The eminent English professor John Fleming, writing in the Daily Princetonian just two years ago, noted this same basic fact: “I cannot remember ever hearing an actual anti-Semitic comment uttered by a student or colleague on this campus. ... On the other hand I have heard hundreds of anti-Christian slurs.” Fleming went on to recount the reaction one year when Princeton’s top academic prize went to two active Christians: “‘How,’ asked one interlocutor with a knowing grin, ‘how can such smart people be so Christian?’ Now this person never would have dreamed of wondering aloud how smart people could be so black, so gay or even so Pink Floyd. ... Though rarely so explicit, ignorant and/or hostile remarks about historical or contemporary Christianity are common coin on this campus.”

While the question seemed backward to me at first, there is something to it. The interviewer told me about the experiences of the atheist families she had interviewed. They were evicted from apartments, rejected by friends and neighbors, forced to stand by as the football team prayed before games. She recounted the statistic that “atheists are the least trusted minority group in the United States and are less accepted than other marginalized groups, including Muslims and homosexuals,” and felt they could never be elected to a prominent public office. In sum, they seemed to face discrimination on a number of fronts.

Then again, it all depends on what one means by discrimination. If we mean unwarranted hostility, persecution, and prejudice, then, as far as I can tell, most Americans do not actively discriminate against atheists. Or at least they shouldn’t. Religious believers, especially Christian believers, should will atheists’ good in every way. If the evictions really occurred solely because of religious belief (or the lack thereof), then they are morally repulsive.

On the other hand, if by discrimination we mean drawing distinctions at all, then I think most Americans do “discriminate,” and rightly so. Religious belief and practice aren’t like being born black or white or brown or yellow, or male or female. They’re not biological realities beyond the reach of choice. How one views the nature of the universe, humanity, and man’s place in the cosmos–the biggest of life’s big questions–should, like any major choice, have enormous implications for all aspects of life.

None of this is to say that atheists can’t be morally upright, caring roommates, devoted teammates, or conscientious colleagues—I know firsthand that they can be, and often are, all of these things. Nor would I suggest that there isn’t the occasional loon (landlord or neighbor) who really does harbor prejudices against atheists. I mean simply that it would be odd for an atheist to claim that his understanding of all of reality should have no bearing on how other people treat him. Whether we believe man to be the judge of all things and answerable to truths and laws that transcend his own existence has significant impact on how we think about the world. And ideas have practical consequences. See, for instance, Richard John Neuhaus’ article “Can Atheists Be Good Citizens” (First Things, August/September 1991).

Yet all of this is fairly cerebral. Most Americans probably don’t articulate things along these lines, but judge atheism on its public expressions. If atheists feel discriminated against in America, it may be because the public image of atheism these days seems to be an outright attack on faith, particularly Christian faith. Just look at the recent slew of books attacking religious believers—there’s Sam Harris’ The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation; Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion; Christopher Hitchens’ God Is Not Great; and Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. Dawkins, an Oxford professor, has even argued that raising children to believe in God is a form of “mental child abuse.” I don’t know of anyone of his stature who’s made a similar claim about raising children to be atheists.

So long as the unofficial spokespeople for atheism file lawsuits to remove God from the Pledge, advocate infanticide and bestiality, and write books arguing that religious believers are deluded, atheists are going to have a hard time fitting in. This is especially true in small-town America, in areas where your two options for worship are the First Baptist Church and the First Southern Baptist Church. If you’ve never known an atheist personally (and, lest we forget, the urban Northeast is not the norm, as only 1 to 3 percent of Americans are atheists), then when a new neighbor announces his atheism, your imagination naturally runs wild: Does he, too, want to remove God from the Pledge or kill “deficient” babies? A softer public image would go a long way.

The continued push for a naked public square is another contributing factor. That disagreement exists over many aspects of religious life is no reason to demand the God-free public society (or locker room) many atheists unfairly advocate. In this respect, atheists (and others) aren’t seeking a fair, neutral environment where all views can be expressed and all voices heard; they’re asking for an explicitly atheistic public square. But on many counts, there is broad agreement among citizens of diverse faith traditions about the central issues of civic life. There is no reason why this broad agreement should be trumped by a relatively small, if vocal and elite, minority. And so long as atheists and other secularists seek to impose a religion-free public square, most Americans will react negatively.

Still, all of this likely misses the main point. I have no doubt that many atheists feel discrimination. They’re excluded from some of our most cherished social practices, unable to fully share in many people’s deepest joys and sorrows. The reason is simple: Even today, more than 90 percent of Americans believe in God. Many of us shape our lives around a belief that atheists don’t share. And this has practical consequences—for how else is community forged except on common thought and experience?

If community life is centered on the Sunday worship service, the weeknight Bible study, the monthly church picnic, and the vacation Bible camp, then of course atheists will feel excluded. They can’t participate in many of the traditional and natural aspects of human life: communal prayer, worship and fellowship—and not because they’re discriminated against but because they choose not to. This isn’t the fault of religious believers (though we would do well to think of ways to welcome nonbelievers more fully into some aspects of our religious lives). It all depends on what forms the foundation of community life, and historically, it’s been religion. In many places in America today it still is. While it’s not particularly true of Princeton, New Jersey, or the Chelsea district of Manhattan, it still applies to most places throughout America.

Atheist discontent still bears a seed of redemption, though, as it points to the fundamental human longing for community, shared values, and shared lives. That they feel this need goes unfulfilled isn’t surprising, since it’s a large element of what religion is all about. Far from unjustly discriminating, then, believers ought to water that seed by charity and prayers so that its seedling might one day be grafted onto the one true Vine.

(The article itself contains some links to points mentioned.)
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
Merry Christmas isn't a problem for me. I've been to a political meeting in California and calmly omitted the "under God" from the pledge (which doesn't belong there). Even in Utah, I haven't really had a problem with being an atheist.

The most awkward situation I had recently was in Arizona with family (mostly Catholic). Everyone was holding hands to say grace, and I broke the circle, as I felt that ritual crossed a line for me. The people nearest me looked confused, then I think they chalked it up to germ-aversion or something.

I could see where being around people who do that sort of thing all the time could be uncomfortable at best.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
quote:
If we mean unwarranted hostility, persecution, and prejudice, then, as far as I can tell, most Americans do not actively discriminate against atheists.
Note that he then immediately goes on to explain why he believes that atheists warrant hostility, persecution and prejudice, and only later insists that he doesn't think they encounter any of those things, either.

quote:
Atheist discontent still bears a seed of redemption, though, as it points to the fundamental human longing for community, shared values, and shared lives. That they feel this need goes unfulfilled isn’t surprising, since it’s a large element of what religion is all about.
This paragraph is absolutely infuriating in its smug self-satisfaction.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
I was crushingly dissapointed in Mitt Romney the other day.

A heckler burst out at a political rally and called him an impostor and fake Christian.... Romney handled the crowd very well and talked about the need for respecting different beliefs -- the crowd applauded. But then Romney said that "we need someone of faith" in the White House.

We do?

OK, faith has a secular meaning as well, there's faith in democracy, etc. I see nothing in scripture nor in the history of this country to indicate that we should exclude atheists from the highest office in the land, and it insults the constitution and to even suggest that there should be a religious test for office. And Mitt Romney of all people should know that! I'm tremendously dissapointed to hear a fellow mormon say such a thing.

Please Romney say you misspoke, that you meant to say or should have said that whats important is that our president has faith in the ideals that make our country great.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Just look at the recent slew of books attacking religious believers—there’s Sam Harris’ The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation; Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion; Christopher Hitchens’ God Is Not Great; and Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. Dawkins, an Oxford professor, has even argued that raising children to believe in God is a form of “mental child abuse.” I don’t know of anyone of his stature who’s made a similar claim about raising children to be atheists.
Well, I'd expect any atheist running for office to dissassociate himself from Dawkins' hatemongering just as I'd expect a Muslim to dissassociate from radical Islam or a Christian to dissassociate from abortion clinic bombers, etc.
 
Posted by TaoJeannes (Member # 1490) on :
 
So many times I have seen an atheist smugly assert his atheism in the middle of a crowded room full of Christians, then when he is snubbed or treated with awkwardness he screams anti-atheist bigotry.

You know what? You're not discriminated against. You're just obnoxious.

I'm not talking about every atheist; I'm talking about the atheists who need to let you know they're atheists within five minutes of conversation.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
"But then Romney said that "we need someone of faith" in the White House."

Well, he IS running for the Repub candidacy. He Has to say that. Besides, that was in South Carolina. Texas-on-the-Atlantic.

BUt his speech was boring and uninspiring anyway. Rah-rah America's same old platitudes.

"I see nothing in scripture nor in the history of this country to indicate that we should exclude atheists from the highest office in the land."

There'[s nothing in the Constitution that prevents a majority of persons from believing this and electing on that basis either.

Besides, how could Mitt Romney say anything else and remain credible? He's a man of faith, inspired by God, and believes that such men are the ones to follow.

POver in the Dem party, Obama is having to cnvince potential voters that his Xtian faith is *sincere*.
 
Posted by simplybiological (Member # 1344) on :
 
I do think that some atheists bring it on themselves by being confrontational about belief. BUT...

I don't categorize MYSELF as an atheist, but other people would (I don't believe in God, but it's complicated). I absolutely DO NOT feel free to express that in Texas, even though I live in Austin. Atheism carries with it a ridiculous stigma of low morality and almost untrustworthiness- as though you were cast out of Faith because you misbehaved, or without God as your compass you are completely incapable of making positive decisions.

I KNOW (not think, KNOW) that if parents of my students found out, they would try to have their schedules changed. I think our school system operates on a don't ask, don't tell system.

In short, I feel as though I can't freely express my religous beliefs (or lack thereof) without fear of reprisal.
 
Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
I realize I have to correct myself on the Merry Christmas thing. I HATE being told Happy Holidays. Not because I have anything against atheists, but because it seems to me to be... (brace yourselves)... cultural nihilism. At least as I understand the term. Here you have a holiday. It originated in Europe back when Europe was mainly Christian. It has Christian roots and many Christians still celebrate it as a religious holiday. But there is so much more to the celebration than just that - the Yule Log, gathering friends and family, eggnog and cider, etc. Or if someone wants to celebrate something else, Diwali or Kwanzaa or Hannukah or the Winter Solstice, great! I love learning about other people's celebrations and what they value and would see a "Happy Hannukah" or something of that nature to be an invitation to share in the wisher's joy of the season. But Happy Holidays seems to me to be an antiseptic greeting designed not to offend anyone but with the unfortunate side effect of lumping all the unique winter holidays together and kind of cancelling them out. I would have no problem with an atheist who wished me Merry Christmas and only meant "the day where family gets together and celebrates the joy of togetherness and appreciating each other with gifts" or something. I don't have a "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" bumper sticker. But when people wish me happy holidays instead of whatever they celebrate, it seems like they don't care what I celebrate, they just don't like it, and don't even have something better to put in its place.
I've taken to asking, when wished "Happy Holidays", "which holiday do you celebrate?" and then I wish the person a happy one of those.

Omega, interesting article,thanks! I'll have to get to it later, it's kids' naptime.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
Have a nice day. Oops. Enjoy Friday, February 23rd, 2007.
 
Posted by 0Megabyte (Member # 1217) on :
 
TomDavidson, I actually saw the same thing in that guy's article as you did, and really, it pissed me off. I'm no atheist, but...

"Does he, too, want to remove God from the Pledge or kill “deficient” babies?"

Please. He shows his own prejudice there. Ugh.

"I mean simply that it would be odd for an atheist to claim that his understanding of all of reality should have no bearing on how other people treat him. "

Ugh! That's the same damn prejudice as is shown all over the world. He's no better than anyone else, regardless of his view that he doesn't have any prejudice towards atheists. He sure as hell does. To say that they deserve to be attacked because they believe differently? This is America. How dare he say such an anti-American thing? A thing so against the very principles our nation is founded on?

Of course, he thinks people shouldn't treat HIS beliefs badly, so perhaps its time to turn it around on him. IF people said THAT about Christians, I'd be very afraid, being one myself. To say it to another group...
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
As a Christian, I'm far more upset to see my fellow Christians (particularly fellow mormons) saying things that shut atheists off from participation in their own government, than I am with the smug atheist losers that try to shut religious people out of any civic or academic discourse.

The discrimination runs both ways here, and to deny it, just bolsters the extremism on both side.

KE and I talked about forming an association against it, but we can't think of what the hell we'd call it. IIRC the name "Reason" has already been coopted by an atheist organization that wants to shut religious people out of the discussion. [Frown]
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
Merry Christmas isn't a problem for me. I've been to a political meeting in California and calmly omitted the "under God" from the pledge (which doesn't belong there). Even in Utah, I haven't really had a problem with being an atheist.

The most awkward situation I had recently was in Arizona with family (mostly Catholic). Everyone was holding hands to say grace, and I broke the circle, as I felt that ritual crossed a line for me. The people nearest me looked confused, then I think they chalked it up to germ-aversion or something.

I could see where being around people who do that sort of thing all the time could be uncomfortable at best.

This actually stresses me out more than it seems to bother you. [Big Grin] Do you have any idea how a sensitive group could handle a grace circle in a way that respects your separate convictions *and* doesn't shut you from the fellowship of the group?
 
Posted by jasonr (Member # 969) on :
 
I'm an atheist, and for the record, I agree more or less with what the article said, (setting aside its patronizing self-satisfaction)

What he is saying is essentially correct: while most Americans may have a negative perception of atheism and atheists, the practical consequences of being an atheist in America (as far as being discriminated against) are essentially nil.

In the ways that atheists actually are treated differently (or have different experiences) these are largely connected with the choice of the individual atheist not to participate in many of the social and communal activities that have traditionally arisen in a religious context.

For example, why did The Drake choose not to participate in that grace ceremony? Why not simply fit in and go with the flow? It's not as if doing so is going to offend some God or religious custom, because you have none as an atheist. Joining hands for grace ought to be no different than putting on a kippah when you go into a synagogue out of respect for the people around you, or going through the motions in a tribal dance in an African village.

Why did you choose not to participate? Was it because you were afraid they'd think you were Christian? Or maybe you wanted them to know you were an atheist, wanted to separate yourself from them. Tao is correct in one thing: when people find out that you're an atheist, it's usually because you made a point of telling them.

It is true that religious people tend to have low opinions of atheists, but we are partly to blame for that. Atheists, in my experience, are often at least as arrogant and condescending towards religious people as the other way around. Many atheists actually do proselytize in a way that is at least as obnoxious as the evangelical Christians.
 
Posted by Everard (Member # 104) on :
 
"The discrimination runs both ways here, and to deny it, just bolsters the extremism on both side."

Yeah, but one group IS shut out of public discourse, and the other group controls every significant public institution in the country, and to gain entrance to many of those institutions one is required to, at the very least, PRETEND that christianity is the only source of morality in the United States.

Thats discrimination.

Saying "I think your beliefs are hopelessly misguided, and the only avenue of belief for people with half a brain is avenue X," is something just about every group in the world does, and is not discrimination.

When someone loses an election because he's christian, THEN christians can complain about atheist discrimination. Until that time, it rings somewhat hollow.
 
Posted by kelcimer (Member # 1221) on :
 
What I find interesting is that I occasionally have reason to point out "I'm not Christian", and the traditional responce is "What, you don't belive in God?" My first responce is to say, "Well, not the Judeo-Christian God". There is this assumption of what I believe because I simply state that I'm not Christian. The default assumption is that I MUST be an athiest, since I didn't identify myself as being Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Buddist, etc. Along with assuming I'm an athiest there is an accompaning hostility, as if they say to themselves, "Oh! You're one of THOSE people." There's almost a disappointment and some confusion when I tell them I am not athiest, I don't self identify as agnostic, but I that I do self identify myself as a philosopher. There's always an unwillingness to actually find out what I believe and why before they attempt to persuade me to their religion. Though not an athiest I might as well be for how I am treated in various circumstances.

After a while this gets really very annoying.

I would not say that I am persecuted as such, but it does put me at a disadvantage in various situations.

On a related note, the manager of my work place is fresh up from Texas and is as hard core of a hypocritical-evangelical-christian as I have ever met. It's made keeping my job very interesting.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
As a religious person, I strongly respect Drake's personal decision to disinclude himself from the grace circle, but as a social person, I think that your choice is also perfectly respectable Jason.

I think that Everard's implicit denial that atheism exercises a chokehold over certain courts and academic environments illustrates part of the problem. It's also discrimination to screen people through a test that forces them to at least pretend that Christianity is not [b]A[/] valid source of public morality in the United States.

quote:
When someone loses an election because he's christian, THEN christians can complain about atheist discrimination. Until that time, it rings somewhat hollow.
Since some people lose appointments and opportunities because they are Christian, your argument rings somewhat SHALLOW. I have no respect for affirmative discrimination. The fact that atheists get discriminated against in the election process does not give anyone licence to ignore other types of discrimination when practiced against Christians.

Using discrimination cries in a strictly partisan basis is part of the problem. The extremists reinforce each other. The sort of things everard said helps reinforce the behavior of the people that Kelcimer was talking about.

[ February 23, 2007, 02:09 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]
 
Posted by hobsen (Member # 2923) on :
 
People offend one another for all sorts of reasons. Just a couple of days ago I got an email from a friend that she now has one less job. It seems she complained to her supervisor about a subordinate; and he told her she would just have to "bend over and take it in the ass." This is probably a poor metaphor to use to a nice Mormon girl who is the daughter of a well-respected college professor, and her husband had some pointed things to say about it to him also. So she does not work there anymore.

And some people offend everyone. W.E.B. Griffin - actually a chap called Butterworth - once had a character remark, "Trying to help General Pickering is right up there with trying to pet an alligator. A constipated alligator. He will take the proffered hand and bite it off at the wrist." We have all known people like that.

So there is discrimination against atheists, but it is probably by individuals. I have never heard of what seemed a concerted effort to drive atheists from a community, as with blacks or homosexuals or some of the early AIDS sufferers. For one thing church members know perfectly well that many in the church are actually atheists, only pretending to believe. And persecution would be unlikely in the big cities, or the more liberal parts of the country, because such views are common there.

About small towns I have no recent information. When most people still lived on farms, the "town atheist" was common enough to become proverbial; people desperate for entertainment liked someone who could stir up a good argument with the local preachers. And he usually championed evolution and a scholarly interpretation of the Bible against creationists and literalists; people wanted those views expressed, for themselves and for their children. They may not have agreed, but they wanted to keep current with the controversies dividing the rest of the country. The Scopes trial represented the acme of that: Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan facing off in a small town which would never know anything so exciting again. I do not know if that tradition continues today.
 
Posted by TaoJeannes (Member # 1490) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Everard:
When someone loses an election because he's christian, THEN christians can complain about atheist discrimination. Until that time, it rings somewhat hollow.

Two words: John Ashcroft
 
Posted by KidB (Member # 3016) on :
 
I'm 33, and have been an atheist since age 11. In that time, I can't say I've experienced much in the way of discrimination. I hasn't been an issue at all in my adult life, and before then it only became an issue when I chose to make an issue of it. Then again, I live in a more secular part of the country.

The anger that some atheists direct against beleivers makes sense to me only if I consider what it must be like to be an atheist in a very religious community, where one particular form of religion is dominant. I might find religion "oppressive" in a small town full of Bapstist, while I do not in a big city where dozens of faiths cross my path every day. I find comfort in multiplicity.

It occurs to me as I write this that the term "secular", when applied to big cities and city culture, may be a bit misleading. City culture is characterized by the multiplicity of faith, race, and ethnicity. Everyone is a minority, and that teaches a certain humility.

I think angry atheists would be better off discussing relgion, rather than fighting it outright - engage with some theology, ask Chirstians why they interpret the Bible in that particular way. Respectfully suggest alternate readings (though this of course means you need to do your homework - which many atheists seems to feel is beneath them). I've found I get much better results that way.

I don't usually object to participating in religious rituals for ideological reasons, though I must admit I find most church services rather boring (the exception being the Baptsist churches in Oakland, CA - they get the rockin' gospel music, which I love).

Whenever I visit my wife's family in Japan, I always join them in visiting the family gravesite. This means I have to bow and "pray", using Buddhist prayer beads. I've never found this unpleasant - rather comforting actually. I've also made offerings at shrines, and observed the rituals of hand-washing. I don't beleive that anything supernatural occurs when I observe these rituals - all the same, they often make me feel calm and peaceful. From what I understand, this is why people in Japan observe them as well. The difference of course is that the Shinto and Buddhist rituals are such a part of the cultural character, that by following them you are allowing yourself a real and immediate connection to those around you. I can deal with Christian rituals in the same way - it's all about how I relate to the living people around me and what they experience. So these things are never oppressive to me unless the people around me choose to oppress me (for their own reasons, having little to do, I think, with religion or spirituality).

[ February 23, 2007, 03:02 PM: Message edited by: KidB ]
 
Posted by KnightEnder (Member # 992) on :
 
I was suprised to see Carlotta's name starting this thread. Thank you.

I've had "friends" threaten to beat Christianity into me. I've been asked on many occassions my religion in job interviews, and at the plants by customers. I never discuss my religious views with coworkers, although they often discuss theirs.

Saying you are atheist here is akin to saying you are a devil worshipper. I advise my boys not to talk about their views at school but being my boys they do and they have been chastised prosletyzed and threatened because of it.

However, through OA I've seen that not all religious people are like the ones I've encountered here in Texas. Than goodness.

By the way Carlotta, I admire Jesus Christ and think he was a great man and philosopher and one can't go wrong by following his words. However, "organized religion" IMO perverts the message for many reason that I won't get into here. But that always happens with humans. It's like a game of madlibs or telephone.

KE
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kenmeer livermaile:
"But then Romney said that "we need someone of faith" in the White House."

Well, he IS running for the Repub candidacy. He Has to say that. Besides, that was in South Carolina. Texas-on-the-Atlantic.

BUt his speech was boring and uninspiring anyway. Rah-rah America's same old platitudes.

"I see nothing in scripture nor in the history of this country to indicate that we should exclude atheists from the highest office in the land."

There'[s nothing in the Constitution that prevents a majority of persons from believing this and electing on that basis either.

I didn't accuse him of a crime. I'm just dissapointed. I don't know him, really, but I knew his family, and I don't think George Romney would have said that.

quote:
Besides, how could Mitt Romney say anything else and remain credible? He's a man of faith, inspired by God, and believes that such men are the ones to follow.
I don't think that we elect a president to be our spiritual leader, or even so that we might "follow" the president in any other sense of the word. POTUS represents us to the world, leads the military, and otherwise serves us through the office.
 
Posted by KnightEnder (Member # 992) on :
 
I assume you are referring to Malcom Pickering the father? Not "Pick". God I love those books.

KE
 
Posted by KnightEnder (Member # 992) on :
 
Just last night we were talking about my son's ambition to become a lawyer and a politician so he could make the world a better place. He said: But I'd have to become a Christian. My influence, maybe. But I think that is selling my son and his experiences especially in school short.

Oh yeah, I can't be a Mason and we all know they rule the world behind the scenes. [Wink]

KE

[ February 23, 2007, 03:12 PM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
For example, why did The Drake choose not to participate in that grace ceremony? Why not simply fit in and go with the flow? It's not as if doing so is going to offend some God or religious custom, because you have none as an atheist. Joining hands for grace ought to be no different than putting on a kippah when you go into a synagogue out of respect for the people around you, or going through the motions in a tribal dance in an African village.

Why did you choose not to participate?


I found it unethical. I don't believe in a God, so offering up my thanks to Him for the meal is offensive to me. I silently thanked my family for providing a home and preparing the food, and I thanked the people who were involved in the production and transport of that food.

The family members that were close to me know about my being an atheist, and we've discussed it. I would never demand or request that they not hold grace, or disparage them for it.

If my company had a Christmas party, and grace was performed, or if my school asked us to say the Pledge of Allegience (new version), I'd simply choose not to participate. If there are repercussions because of that, I would consider it discrimination.

How far should we take it to fit in, jason? Attend church services? Take communion? At some point, don't you start to disrespect someones beliefs by aping their rituals without faith behind it?

I do see that line, where I draw it is my personal choice based on what has value for me. I didn't leave the room when grace was said. When I go to the weddings of friends held in a church, I stand respectfully during the appropriate moments. I greet other people during the Rite of Peace - always "Peace be with you" and not "Peace of the Lord". I do not, however, kneel, because that is symbolic of an obeisance that I reject.

It is the meaning behind the ritual that I pay close attention to, not simply the fact that there is a ritual.

Hope that helps clarify. I'm sure other atheists draw other lines. Which is all good, in my opinion, until you cross that other line where you move from rejecting participation, to trying to prevent the event from happening at all.
 
Posted by KnightEnder (Member # 992) on :
 
How about "The Atheist Religious Coalition for Morality"? "ARCM" Problem is you can't find a 'group' of atheist that doesn't identify themselves by hatred of religion. (All the rest of us atheists that think hate is a bad thing to form an organization around are left out in the cold.)

KE

[ February 23, 2007, 03:17 PM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
That's admirable, Drake. You should publish it. I think that Jason's position is perfectly ethically consistent as well. You have different values and philosophies and you each seem to be true to your own. It fascinates me how your complete opposite courses of action both honor your personal beliefs while respecting others.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
The trouble is that the word atheist seems to modify religious, and if you put it the other way, religious would modify atheist.

HAHAHA! OK, something not to call it: "The Moral Hegemony" [Big Grin]

"Mutual Respect"?

This is one tough idea to coin. Atheism and religion seem semantically predestined to collide.

Ah -- how about: "COMMON GROUND"
 
Posted by caladbolg1125 (Member # 3666) on :
 
I, and I think, many of the other atheists that post here do have a respect for the philisophical tenets of many religions. In my religious encounters (I went to Church camp for five years thanks to my grandmother) I always got the feeling of the blind leading the blind. Or rather the blind leading no mind. I didn't like the feeling of being a sheep that needed shepherding. Despite that fact that I think the existance of god is improbable at best. (Those that do believe, you can choose to ignore that.) I have always resisted large groups because I refuse to succumb to groupthink. That's not to say everyone who follows organized religion suffers from groupthink. Pete, to give an example, is very intelligent and still religious and what's even more admirable, respectful to boot (so long as you can cite your arguments and stay clear you can probably avoid his mighty intellectual wrath [Big Grin] ).

Anyway, back to my first point. I, like KE, have great respect for the courageous philosophers who have had organized religions spring up around them.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
For true faith to thrive, I think that people should be able to disbelieve without having their moral integrity challenged. And I think people need to realize that this new brand of fundamentalist atheism that Dawkins is touting is intellectual poison.

I'm not saying that Dawkins is creating a religion. I'm starting to think that fundamentalism isn't religion at all. We're talking about a mythically re-imagined past, and a messianic future that requires your followers to overcome others.
 
Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
Drake, you are absolutely right that there comes a point where participating in a religious ritual that you don't believe in can be offensive to religious people. I appreciate your explanation of why you draw the lines you do.

Regarding the article writer, leaving aside his tone, there is a distinction that I don't see Ornery people making. The writer flat out says that treating someone badly because they are an atheist is wrong.
quote:
If we mean unwarranted hostility, persecution, and prejudice, then, as far as I can tell, most Americans do not actively discriminate against atheists. Or at least they shouldn’t. Religious believers, especially Christian believers, should will atheists’ good in every way. If the evictions really occurred solely because of religious belief (or the lack thereof), then they are morally repulsive.

Then he goes onto say that
quote:
"I mean simply that it would be odd for an atheist to claim that his understanding of all of reality should have no bearing on how other people treat him. "
He's not saying treated badly, just differently. There is a distinction between treating someone in a way that violates their dignity as a human being and the consideration, goodwill, and respect they ought to be shown, and simply not showing the same preferential treatment that one shows to others. I'm not talking about legally, but in the personal sphere. Like how you treat family members differently than aquaintances or strangers, but without being hostile to the latter.

Here are some examples of what I think he is talking about:

1. The practice of my religion is very important to me and I wanted to marry someone who shared my faith. Therefore I decided, once I was ready to date seriously, that I would not date someone who didn't share my faith. I had good friend that everyone was sure I would date, but we stayed friends, partly because we didn't share religious beliefs. I wouldn't say this is discrimination, though, would you?

2. I wouldn't ask an atheist to be godparents to my children. Nothing personal, but they don't fit the job description of helping me raise my kids Catholic. The people we have picked to raise our kids if we both die share our beliefs, because we beleive those beliefs to be important to pass on to our kids. I'm sure you atheists out there would likewise have qualms about devout Catholics raising your kids if you died. This is not prejudice.

3. I generally prefer to pick my friends and companions based on similar interests. Religion is an interest of mine. I do have several non-Catholic, non-Christian, and non-religious friends (unfortunately I cannot say I have any atheist real life friends as the one I had converted).

If you think I'm wrong on this, tell me! (nicely) [Smile]

I've missed posting but my husband has given up posting on Ornery for Lent so I get more computer time now.
 
Posted by The Pixiest (Member # 869) on :
 
I lost my faith in my early 20s. I never felt persecuted and had no problems coming out to my parents as an atheist.

Most of my adult life has been in california where it's a complete non issue.

When asked to pray by christians, usually over a meal, I'll do it. I don't think anyone is listening but I'll do it. It's not like I didn't do it all my life before I lost my faith.

I think faith does more good than harm. I think it gives people hope, comfort and strength. Yes, some people use it to hurt other people and that's a shame (and completely contrary to "love thy neighbor") but I think faith is a net positive.

I wish the atheists who are busy trying to remove the "under god" from the pledge and other such nonsense would get a life and stop making us look like jerks.
 
Posted by Jesse (Member # 1860) on :
 
Carlotta,

Not to pick on you...

quote:
It originated in Europe back when Europe was mainly Christian. It has Christian roots and many Christians still celebrate it as a religious holiday.
This is completely false. "Christmas" as we celebrate it in the US is a continuation of Pagan customs that long predate Christianity.

-------------------------------------------------

General

Now, what I find interesting about this article is that it conflates Religion and Faith, and conflates the rejection of Religion with Atheism.

Many Religious people are, at their core, atheists or agnostics who believe that whether or not there is a God, their lives are made better by submitting to Religion. It gives them a framework on which to base their lives, a sense of community, and goals.

Many who reject Religion (as I do) have a deep and abiding faith in the beneficence of their Creator, and in Divine Providence (as I do).

The truth is, the vast majority of Americans believe in a Higher Power. A strong majority are not, in any meaningful sense, Religious.

The sort of false dichotomies promoted by this article are not conducive to meaningful discourse. Instead, it merely repeats the tired and patently false assumption made by so many religious people, that those of us who do not see value in ritual or accept any text as the "word of god" are without faith.

Pixiest

If we're gonna go for wishing...why not wish a few Christian jerks hadn't thrown "Under God" into the pledge in the first place?

[ February 23, 2007, 07:05 PM: Message edited by: Jesse ]
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
1. The practice of my religion is very important to me and I wanted to marry someone who shared my faith. Therefore I decided, once I was ready to date seriously, that I would not date someone who didn't share my faith. I had good friend that everyone was sure I would date, but we stayed friends, partly because we didn't share religious beliefs. I wouldn't say this is discrimination, though, would you?
What about when the discrimination is enforced by the parents? When I lived in San Diego I dated a Mormon girl in high school. We loved each other dearly though we hardly understood what that even meant at the time. Her parents recognized that we were closer than they wished for her to be with a non-Member. They eventually sent her away to Alabama for several months to separate us. This time was volatile enough for us with everything else that is going on at that age that the separation succeeded in ending the relationship.

The irony here is that I later ended up with another Mormon girl (go figure) and we've been married for 13 years. I go to church with her every week and have allowed her to raise our six kids in her church. My ex-girlfriend became very sexually active and stopped going to church because of the guilt. She did pot at college and has taken up smoking and drinking and has not produced any grandkids. She's been married to another non-Mormon guy for several years now.

Everything has worked out fine for me in the end, but this particular act of discrimination was very painful to all involved.

At that time I didn't consider myself an atheist. I honestly didn't think of myself as any kind of "ist." As far as my life now, I wouldn't dare to announce to anyone aside from my wife and one or two close friends that I'm an atheist. That term has connotations to it that go well beyond the rather limited dictionary definition.

There's a an atheist comedian named Julia Sweeney ('Pat' from SNL) that converted from Catholicism. She's created a humorous show about this transition and it includes her mother's reaction to her conversion. Her mother exclaims (paraphrased) "Not believing in God, that's one thing. But an atheist!?"

I had a particularly uncomfortable moment at a recent Testimony Meeting. Testimony Meetings are held at the first Sunday of every month in LDS Chapels. Every other week a handful of speakers give topic-oriented talks from the pulpit, but during Testimony Meeting individual members of the congregation are invited to voluntary come to the podium to share their personal testimony of the truth of their church. These individual testimonies almost always includes the phrases "I know this church is true" and "I know Joseph Smith was a prophet" or something very similar to these phrases.

A common phenomenon at Testimony Meetings is for the person who has come up to bear their testimony will end up telling a story about their recent summer vacation or how thankful they are for their family and they don't ever actually ended up testifying of anything about the church, itself. During one of these non-testimony testimonies a woman started going on about how great this country was and that atheists represented a greater threat to this nation from within than any terrorists could from without.

I know if she had said "jews" or "blacks" instead of "atheists" that she would have quickly been asked to sit down or a member of the bishopric (presiding priesthood) would have spoken after her to indicate that her ideas were not consistent with the position of the Church. Atheists, however, are fair game. It's OK to complain out loud about them.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jesse:
Carlotta,

Not to pick on you...

quote:
It originated in Europe back when Europe was mainly Christian. It has Christian roots and many Christians still celebrate it as a religious holiday.
This is completely false. "Christmas" as we celebrate it in the US is a continuation of Pagan customs that long predate Christianity.
Jesse, the word "mass" is quite Catholic. The word Christ itself has arguably pagan roots. And obviously some traditions of Christmas such as the birth of Jesus, the visits of the kings, are Christian ideas. Carlotta did not say that Christmas has exclusively Christian roots. She simplys said that it has Christian roots, Therefore what she said is not "completely" false. We all need to give credit where credit is due. Fact is that religious traditions and cultures have interfertilized for generations, and it's time we recognized the richness of our heritage.

Monogamy, for example, is an excellent idea that we got from the Pagans.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
I wish the atheists who are busy trying to remove the "under god" from the pledge and other such nonsense would get a life and stop making us look like jerks.
My impression that discussions about "under god" in the pledge are rarely started by atheists trying to get it out. It always seems to be the Christians trying to prove that we have always been a "Christian nation", whatever that means, that bring up the pledge or "in god we trust" on currency. The atheists (as well as many informed theists) just point out how and why these people are wrong.

The "under god" court cases that I'm familiar with are a result of Christians compelling non-Christians to recite the pledge. Compulsion of sectarian religious activity should never be allowed.
 
Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
Jesse, no offense taken. What I meant was that the celebration of Christmas on December 25 originated in Christian Europe. As opposed to the pagan celebration of Solstice on that date. Christmas comes from the words "Christ Mass", meaning, the Mass that is said on this day commemorating the birth of Christ. I guess either way it doesn't matter to me - I have friends who celebrate Solstice and I think there are some neat traditions there. Traditional celebrations on December 25 generally include aspects from both pagan and Christian roots. Which in my opinion proves my point that you don't have to be religious to celebrate Christmas and I don't think people ought to be offended by wishing or being wished Merry Christmas.

I didn't mean to conflate atheism with a rejection of religion, but just wanted to explore the ramifications of what KnightEnder said about feeling persecuted as an atheist. Do you as a person of faith though without religion feel persecuted?
 
Posted by jasonr (Member # 969) on :
 
quote:
For true faith to thrive, I think that people should be able to disbelieve without having their moral integrity challenged. And I think people need to realize that this new brand of fundamentalist atheism that Dawkins is touting is intellectual poison.

I'm not saying that Dawkins is creating a religion. I'm starting to think that fundamentalism isn't religion at all. We're talking about a mythically re-imagined past, and a messianic future that requires your followers to overcome others.

I don't think what you're saying is justified. In my view, Dawkins raises alot of very good points. One idea I like, in particular, is his point about "Jewish Children" and "Muslim Children" and how branding infants without even the ability to speak as a certain religion, merely because their parents happen to be a certain religion, is at the very least, brainwashing, and depending on how you look at it, an act of child abuse.

This is extreme, but it's fair. Our society holds up religious freedom as one of its core values, yet turns a blind eye to the antithesis of religious freedom. Is it a cooincidence that 99.999% of the Christians out there were born to Christian parents? Or that 99.9999% of Muslims out there were born to Muslim parents? I'd say "choice" and "freedom" are meaningless in a society that clearly permits neither.

I also respect Dawkins for not cowtowing to intellectual blackmail by religion. He refuses to coddle religious people or to speak in euphemism. He thinks religion is nonsense, and isn't afraid to say it.

Personally, I agree with him. I have no respect whatsoever for religion or religious beliefs of any religious group. Make no mistake, I may have plenty of respect for a given religious person, depending on their qualities as a person, but I consider religion and the core beliefs of all religions to be superstitious trash. My respect for religion is less than 0. I essentially agree with Dawkins's characterization of religion as an intellectual virus.

Do I want the government to come in and arrest people for taking their kids to church or mosque? Do I want formal mandatory atheist education in school? No. That would be a cure worse than the disease. And I am not convinced that Dawkins wants that either.

But saying that what Dawkins believes is some kind of "poison" as if he were advocating beheading of infidels or putting Christians in concentration camps... well that's a bit of evidence, in my view, of some of the anti-atheist bias even some reasonable and open-minded people have. You can be an atheist, so long as you keep quiet about it and speak about the religious views of others in euphemisms with phony reverence for their beliefs.

Of course, the hypocrisy of it is that religions seldom, treat the other guy's religion with much more respect than that. I wouldn't say that your average southern baptist holds muslims in much better regard than Dawkins holds religious people. In the history of Christianity, disdain of other religions, both implicit and explicit, was nearly universal. But only Dawkins is preaching "poison".
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
The "under god" court cases that I'm familiar with are a result of Christians compelling non-Christians to recite the pledge. Compulsion of sectarian religious activity should never be allowed.

Newdow sued just because his daughter had to hear the pledge, not participate. The Supreme Court found that he lacked standing, and as far as I know left the pledge question unresolved as a result.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
1. The practice of my religion is very important to me and I wanted to marry someone who shared my faith. Therefore I decided, once I was ready to date seriously, that I would not date someone who didn't share my faith. I had good friend that everyone was sure I would date, but we stayed friends, partly because we didn't share religious beliefs. I wouldn't say this is discrimination, though, would you?
Discrimination literally means "making a distinction," and in that sense, yes, it is. In our society, through sloppy legal abbreviation, "discrimination" has basically come to mean making a legally or socially unacceptable distinction. Legally you're obviously OK. Socially, well, that depends on who is passing judgment. I don't think you should turn to the judgment of society when it comes to the personal decision of who you should date or form a lifelong union with.


quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
What about when the discrimination is enforced by the parents? When I lived in San Diego I dated a Mormon girl in high school....

Sounds like they made a decision they thought was best for their daughter, and sounds like they made the wrong choice.
quote:
My ex-girlfriend became very sexually active and stopped going to church because of the guilt. She did pot at college and has taken up smoking and drinking and has not produced any grandkids. She's been married to another non-Mormon guy for several years now.
Some members of my ward in Mexico City did the same thing to their son my age who was dating a non-LDS girl, and he ended up similarly messed up. When I spoke to him he was finally getting his life together and he strongly defended his parents' actions, and I probably should not gainsay him since it was his life ... but my instinct tells me that he's wrong; that sending him away messed him up. (His parents were really controlling; would not let or other kids in the ward write him.

quote:
The irony here is that I later ended up with another Mormon girl (go figure) and we've been married for 13 years. I go to church with her every week and have allowed her to raise our six kids in her church.
I didn't know that you went to church with her every week. You're wife's lucky to have such a supportive husband.

quote:
Everything has worked out fine for me in the end, but this particular act of discrimination was very painful to all involved.
From where I stand, the problem isn't the discrimination, but the coercion. If one of my kids started getting sexually involved (not making inferences from your story but rather looking at my friend's story), I'd probably try very hard to persuade them to end the relationship. But I'd not resort to something that coercive unless they were getting onto hard drugs, or being brutalized, or if I thought that a lover was going to try to kidnap them (as occurred with my wife's sister ... coercion runs the other way too [Frown] ).

quote:
A common phenomenon at Testimony Meetings is for the person who has come up to bear their testimony will end up telling a story about their recent summer vacation or how thankful they are for their family and they don't ever actually ended up testifying of anything about the church, itself.
I HATE that! [Mad] Bloody narcissistic hijackers!

quote:
During one of these non-testimony testimonies a woman started going on about how great this country was and that atheists represented a greater threat to this nation from within than any terrorists could from without.
Oh, political jackers are the worst. Matt, that breaks my heart. I guess the bishop didn't know you're atheist, so he just let her rant ... but you'd probably not be comfortable telling him.

quote:
I know if she had said "jews" or "blacks" instead of "atheists" that she would have quickly been asked to sit down or a member of the bishopric (presiding priesthood) would have spoken after her to indicate that her ideas were not consistent with the position of the Church. Atheists, however, are fair game. It's OK to complain out loud about them.
You've been attending church for a while. Has this happened before? I haven't heard anything like that in my wards and if I do I assure you I'll speak up. I suspect that it isn't "fair game" so much as we've been trained to respond knee-jerk to attacks on blacks & Jews & other religions. I respect if you wish to keep your privacy, but I really believe that if you expressed your concern to the Bishop, that he'd apologize to you and add atheist to the watch-list.

Matt, I want you to know how much I admire you for the way you speak about your family. I hope saying this does not impose on your convictions, but I can't keep silent on this anymore. I believe that God sees and recognizes what you've done for your family. I don't know why he hasn't made himself known to you yet, but I'm not worried for you or your family. My great-great grandfather was a man like you; I'm named after him. He never joined the church, but when his wife joined the LDS church, he gave up his pension and sacrificed everything to follow her across the plains.

quote:
At that time I didn't consider myself an atheist. I honestly didn't think of myself as any kind of "ist." As far as my life now, I wouldn't dare to announce to anyone aside from my wife and one or two close friends that I'm an atheist. That term has connotations to it that go well beyond the rather limited dictionary definition.
In the old days, before the term started to mean something else, we'd have called you a "jack-mormon." Unfortunately that now means an innactive mormon, but it used to mean a friend to LDS people, someone who tolerated us and our quirky ways, a nonmormon who had earned our trust. It's always sad when a powerful word like that loses its meaning. I wish we still had a word for people like you. It takes a special kind of hero to marry into a peculiar people like the mormons and make it work for thirteen years.
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
Personally, I agree with him. I have no respect whatsoever for religion or religious beliefs of any religious group. Make no mistake, I may have plenty of respect for a given religious person, depending on their qualities as a person, but I consider religion and the core beliefs of all religions to be superstitious trash. My respect for religion is less than 0.

That's throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Religion is inextricably tied up with culture, art, philosophy. This is what the "flying spaghetti monster" crowd fail to comprehend. Religion can inspire people to think in the big picture, about ethics and morals. This has value to society. Too many atheists toss morality aside in their embrace of existentialism.

I have no doubt that most atheists declaring such views probably would feel persecuted by the people they offend. And, perhaps rightly so. That sort of atheism leads to the destruction of temples, making us all poorer for it.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
But saying that what Dawkins believes is some kind of "poison" as if he were advocating beheading of infidels or putting Christians in concentration camps...

... or taking away our children.

quote:
well that's a bit of evidence, in my view, of some of the anti-atheist bias even some reasonable and open-minded people have. You can be an atheist, so long as you keep quiet about it and speak about the religious views of others in euphemisms with phony reverence for their beliefs.

I'm specifically responding to Dawkins' "child abuse" statement. Maybe you're right that in context that I'll see that this was overblown. But instead of trying to persuade me with context, you've chosen to just assume that I'm showing bias against atheists. With all due respect, Jason, you obviously don't like me, but you know me well enough to have no excuse for making that unreasonable inference. If someone that he'd read a book where a mormon said that atheist's children should be taken away, I'd have the same reaction: "that's POISON." If you don't know that about me, and my personal crusade to get Christians to stop alienating atheists, then you're willfully blind.

Now I could respond now by returning your unkind shot and saying that your assumption about me shows "typical atheist bias against religion," but I don't believe it, and even if I did believe it, I would not paint with such a grossly broad brush.
 
Posted by hobsen (Member # 2923) on :
 
Carlotta, another reason you might not have an atheist as a godparent to one of your children is that you cannot. A godparent in the Roman Catholic Church must be a "practicing" Catholic at least - I have been told - sixteen years of age. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
quote:
1255 For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents' help is important. So too is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized - child or adult on the road of Christian life.55 Their task is a truly ecclesial function (officium).56 The whole ecclesial community bears some responsibility for the development and safeguarding of the grace given at Baptism.
Of course an atheist could baptise a child of yours, in case of emergency; but he could not appoint an atheist godparent.
 
Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
I heard this idea of Dawkins' too - I've watched several video google films of him. I thought about it, and I concluded that saying someone is a "muslim child" or a "jewish child" isn't much different from saying "an American child" or "A chinese child", referring to the country where they were born and currently live. 99% of American children will remain American children, but this doesn't mean that the name American is what makes them stay American. It's the fact that it would take a signifcant reason for them to move once they grew up and had the freedom to do so. To advocate raising children without a religion in order to give them an equal playing field to choose their own when they get older sounds reasonable at first, but religion is just one of many worldviews, or one aspect of many worldviews. It is not possible to raise a child without influencing their worldview in any way.

I find a lot of value in other religions and philosophies. I think we would be greatly impoverished if we forgot about all but one or two of them.

Oh, yeah, and the question about splitting up a teenage couple because the parents didn't like the non-Mormon boyfriend: that's a question of whether parents have the right to determine their minor children's dating lives and to what extent. Luckily I still have at least 10 more years to figure that one out.

edit: hobsen, you are right. I forgot about that. [Smile]

[ February 23, 2007, 08:31 PM: Message edited by: Carlotta ]
 
Posted by hobsen (Member # 2923) on :
 
I was just a little amused by the lapse. You seem very well informed, Carlotta.
 
Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
Thanks. Actually I think it came into my mind, but I was trying to do a quick post while the kids were quiet, so I dismissed it as irrelevant to my argument. Every time I think of that though, I remember the Q&A packet the parish where we had our daughter baptized sent out. Right after the part about how the godparents have to be Catholic (or you can have one Catholic godparent and a non-Catholic baptized Christian as a "christian witness"), there was a section on whether it is required to name your child after a saint. It explained, while not necessary, is recommended, but it is not allowed to baptize your child with a frivolous name "such as E.T." or after an infamous person, like Adolph Hitler. I thought E.T. was a great example. [Smile]
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
Oh, yeah, and the question about splitting up a teenage couple because the parents didn't like the non-Mormon boyfriend: that's a question of whether parents have the right to determine their minor children's dating lives and to what extent.
On such matters, I just suggest that you tread very lightly. I'm still bitter about what her parents did - not in a personal way, but in the same way that I'm bitter about any unnecessary pain inflicted on any children by any adults. I'm not that boy anymore and she's not that girl, but I'm still angry about what happened to that boy and that girl. Poor kids. [Frown]
 
Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
I appreciate the input. It's nice to have other people's experiences to help guide me rather than just my own.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
Matt, I do know what it's like to have someone I love torn away from me because some self-righteous mormon parents didn't think I was good enough for their family. But my case involved incredible dishonesty and trickery on the part of the parents, luring her back from college for a family reunion and then canceling her trip back until they could talk her out of marrying me. Nothing like the violence of sheer parental coercion. At least in my case she did have some choice in the matter, so it's a lot less than what you probably went through, but it really devastated me. I really identify with what you said here: "I'm not that boy anymore and she's not that girl, but I'm still angry about what happened to that boy and that girl."
 
Posted by hobsen (Member # 2923) on :
 
The subject of whether and to what extent parents can and should interfere with their children's dating lives deserves another thread. My impression is that by the time they are dating it is far too late; you have to hope they follow values acceptable to you. Meddling is like juggling bottles of nitroglycerine; they may still hate you fifty years later, or they may marry someone worse on the rebound. But it is fair to point out that people from similar backgrounds have a greater chance of a successful marriage, that someone may have a hard time earning a good living, or whatever. If a child chooses to go ahead anyway, that is his decision; and you will just have to help him handle the consequences.

Anyway this topic covers a lot more than discrimination against atheists.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
I don't believe Dawkins has ever advocated for children being removed from their parents custody based on their religious instruction. Such a position would be inconsistent with his recent refusal to endorse a petition that could be interpreted as forbidding religious education at home in England.

Dawkins' objection to applying religious labels to children is that they are not generally accurate labels in that their meaning changes when applied to children without that fact being acknowledged.

When adult says that they are Mormon, Catholic, or Muslim, that indicates their acceptance of a certain body of doctrine. When that same adult says that their 6-year-old is a Mormon, Catholic, or Muslim, they are essentially saying "I am a <religion>, and I am teaching the principles of that religion to my child so by adulthood they will also accept that body doctrine represented by that religion." It's a statement of intent of an entirely different person, rather than an accurate description of the person being described.

"American" doesn't suffer the same problem - an American citizen is an American citizen, regardless of age with many legal rights that are not dependent on that persons acceptance or rejection of particular beliefs.

That said, I don't see a big problem with referring to a child of Mormons as a Mormon, since we all understand that this change of meaning occurs, even if it's not explicit. It's also highly likely that children of Mormons will become Mormons.

Dawkins' real problem is not the labeling, but that children are indoctrinated in the belief set of their parents long before they gain the critical thinking skills or awareness of other views which might cause them to exercise skepticism. My kids learned that God answers prayers and that Jesus atoned for their sins at the same age that they learned that the tooth fairy leaves them money, the Easter Bunny leaves them candy, and that Santa leaves them presents.

I don't present that as evidence that the stories of God and Jesus are incorrect; but I believe there is a legitimate concern that children are engineered to uncritically accept information provided by their parents and other trusted adults. Of the three children of mine that have so far been baptized in the LDS church, two of them still believed in Santa Clause at the time of their baptism (they were eight years old). I was not terribly impressed with their testimonies of the truth of the Church given at that time.

I do want my children to make their own choices about matters of faith. When I talk to them about religious matters, I speak in terms of "I believe", "your mother believes" and "the Church says." My wife and other members of the relgious community speak in terms of what is - "God did this", "Jesus does that", "this happened to Joseph Smith". This has, of course, resulted in the children accepting these statements as being incontestable facts about the world.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
quote:
Religion is inextricably tied up with culture, art, philosophy.
I reject this claim (and am certain Dawkins does as well). I believe religion is and has been tied up with these things, but believe it can be -- and in many cases should be -- extricated from them.
 
Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
hobsen, see "8 Simple Rules" thread, I copied your post there.
 
Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
MattP,
let me know if this changes your argument:
Catholic teaching on infant baptism is very similar to how you describe American citizenship. Catholics believe that when a baby is baptized Catholic, that person remains Catholic until they formally renounce the Catholic faith or begin to identify themselves as a non-Catholic. Also the CC teaches that baptism leaves an indelible mark on the soul.
It may not change your argument since I assume you don't accept these teachings as true. But I"m curious.

I would think that at some point a child will learn (for me it was in 6th grade) that when someone says "this IS" they are really saying "I believe this to be true", and their beliefs may or may not be correct. What do you say when you say "the church teaches..." and your kids ask you, "but is it really true?"
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
Heck, Jews have you beat. If your mother is Jewish, you are considered by them to be a Jew even if you worship someone else. Even if you were raised your entire life in another faith. Even if you're a Catholic bishop. It's not a matter of race; Orthodox Jews will simply believe you to be a bad, disobedient Jew for the rest of your life. They'll consider you a walking tragedy.

quote:

I would think that at some point a child will learn (for me it was in 6th grade) that when someone says "this IS" they are really saying "I believe this to be true", and their beliefs may or may not be correct.

By the time most kids hit sixth grade, their religious premises have already been established. And I don't entirely agree with that statement in general, either; I think many people say "2 + 2 = 4" and mean "whether or not I believe it, this thing is absolutely true," and I wonder whether you really want to relegate statements of religious belief to the realm of other subjective truths.
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
I wonder how many atheists prevent their kids from dating religious ones.

DO NOT read anything into that statement, it is an open, honest question.
 
Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
But I know many people who have changed religion after 6th grade. Maybe I'm not the norm. Really, if you ask me, there's always an "unless" when we're talking my perception of the truth. 2+2=4 unless I'm delusional and none of you really exist, or unless there is a meaning of 2, 4, +, or = I haven't thought of. Now I'm getting into that philosophy I said I didn't get, sorry if I"m not making sense, but I'd like to hear your response.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
don't believe Dawkins has ever advocated for children being removed from their parents custody based on their religious instruction. Such a position would be inconsistent with his recent refusal to endorse a petition that could be interpreted as forbidding religious education at home in England.

Thank you for that bit of information. I'm glad to hear that the previous information didn't paint a complete picture.

quote:
Dawkins' objection to applying religious labels to children is that they are not generally accurate labels in that their meaning changes when applied to children without that fact being acknowledged...
That's a reasonable argument. Refering to premature identity as "brainwashing" is less reasonable, but I'll defer judgment until I see more context, or even if that earlier quote is correct.

quote:
"American" doesn't suffer the same problem - an American citizen is an American citizen, regardless of age with many legal rights that are not dependent on that persons acceptance or rejection of particular beliefs.
What about "Jewish," though?

quote:
That said, I don't see a big problem with referring to a child of Mormons as a Mormon, since we all understand that this change of meaning occurs, even if it's not explicit. It's also highly likely that children of Mormons will become Mormons.
Statistically, it's also highly likely that a husband who ramains with his mormon wife will become mormon, but that doesn't infringe on your ability to choose for yourself, nor for my grandfather. Culture itself, and tradition, has considerable staying power. I know plenty of mormons who I suspect don't really believe in the religious teachings, even though they were born in the church and go through all the motions.

quote:
Dawkins' real problem is not the labeling, but that children are indoctrinated in the belief set of their parents long before they gain the critical thinking skills or awareness of other views which might cause them to exercise skepticism. My kids learned that God answers prayers and that Jesus atoned for their sins at the same age that they learned that the tooth fairy leaves them money, the Easter Bunny leaves them candy, and that Santa leaves them presents.

I don't present that as evidence that the stories of God and Jesus are incorrect; but I believe there is a legitimate concern that children are engineered to uncritically accept information provided by their parents and other trusted adults

Seems to me that the eventual denoument our stories about Santa, the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, etc, would cause children to go back and question their belief in God. It did at least for me.

quote:
Of the three children of mine that have so far been baptized in the LDS church, two of them still believed in Santa Clause at the time of their baptism (they were eight years old). I was not terribly impressed with their testimonies of the truth of the Church given at that time.

Testimonies? The church had them go through the whole "I know the church is true" stuff? I really don't like making kids parrot that. I personally refused to until I was 18 and actually gained a testimony. I told the Bishop I *believed,* and I did, but I certainly had my doubts.

quote:
I do want my children to make their own choices about matters of faith. When I talk to them about religious matters, I speak in terms of "I believe", "your mother believes" and "the Church says."
Good for you and good for your children.

quote:
My wife and other members of the relgious community speak in terms of what is - "God did this", "Jesus does that", "this happened to Joseph Smith". This has, of course, resulted in the children accepting these statements as being incontestable facts about the world.
How is that different from assertions of political opinion? Should we be concerned about parents that say "George Bush lied and people died"?
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
Catholic teaching on infant baptism is very similar to how you describe American citizenship. Catholics believe that when a baby is baptized Catholic, that person remains Catholic until they formally renounce the Catholic faith or begin to identify themselves as a non-Catholic. Also the CC teaches that baptism leaves an indelible mark on the soul.
It may not change your argument since I assume you don't accept these teachings as true. But I"m curious.

That definition only has meaning for practicing Catholics. Indeed, by that definition I'm a Catholic as well. I doubt there are many people who have converted from Catholicism that still refer to themselves as Catholic, much less their children.

Even given the particular technical meaning you describe, it's still not an objectively meaningful description for most people.

quote:
I would think that at some point a child will learn (for me it was in 6th grade) that when someone says "this IS" they are really saying "I believe this to be true",
Absolutely. Just like we don't have to prefix every post here with "In my opinion," you eventually come to understand what is said in the context of who is saying and where it's being said. But 6th grade is awfully late, in my opinion [Wink] , to develop that skill.
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
Let's not turn this into a math thread, the previous one about multiplication made me angry. [Big Grin]
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Also the CC teaches that baptism leaves an indelible mark on the soul.
It may not change your argument ..

Hehe. I first read this as "it may not change your alignment ... big double take
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
I think raising a child into your traditions can hardly be construed as child abuse, if and until a parent presses back on a child who can articulate their objections to the family religion. I'm not talking about just "I don't want to go to church.", I'm talking about, "I just don't think God exists."

I think there's a serious problem if, at that point, a parent threatens a punishment for the child.
 
Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
quote:
6th grade is awfully late, in my opinion , to develop that skill
[Smile] Well, in 4th grade I was sent to the teachers lounge about 4 times a day to get a Diet Coke for my teacher and spent the rest of the time reading fiction under my desk. The teacher didn't care b/c I was quiet. In 5th grade my teacher actually took me aside and explained that she wasn't going to call on me in class anymore because she knew I knew the answers and needed to see if everyone else knew them. So I read library books all day long, made a note of what pages we covered during class, and did all the schoolwork in about 2-3 hours every night.

Then my parents switched me to a different school. I had a young, new teacher in a class of 10, all girls. She talked to us like we were adults, encouraging us to think critically and pushing me to my limits, not just to complete the assignments. She was the best teacher I ever had and 6th grade really changed the direction of my education. From that point on I realized that I could learn things that I wanted to learn and it wasn't just about doing what was required for a good grade. She was amazing.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
I think raising a child into your traditions can hardly be construed as child abuse
Dawkins' justification for this claim is that children are emotionally harmed as a consequence of dealing with feelings of guilt for their own behavior or fear for what will happen to their "unsaved" friends. In the God Delusion, he cites a few stories from people that suffered substantial emotional turmoil over fear for their eternal souls or their discovery that an unbaptized friend had died in a car accident and would now go to hell.
 
Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
But this isn't religion in general, only some religions. Does he address that?
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
So? We all experience emotional turmoil when we challenge the beliefs that are held by our parents. Turmoil isn't bad in that context. Caring about what happens to one's non-religious friends is perfectly acceptable, as is the turmoil that a child of an atheist family might feel that their friends are being duped into a superstition.

Turmoil leads to examination, thought, and introspection.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
I think raising a child into your traditions can hardly be construed as child abuse, if and until a parent presses back on a child who can articulate their objections to the family religion. I'm not talking about just "I don't want to go to church.", I'm talking about, "I just don't think God exists."

I think there's a serious problem if, at that point, a parent threatens a punishment for the child.

I agree, Drake. Punishing a child for the child's religious beliefs would be child abuse.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
Jim Morrison:

"There are no glass houses. The shades are drawn and "real" life begins. Some activities are impossible in the open. And these secret events are the voyeur's game. He seeks them out with his myriad eyes -- like the child's notion of a Deity who sees everything. 'Everything?' asks the child. 'Yes, everything,' they answer, and the child is left to cope with this divine intrusion."

He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake.

Children stop believing in Santa by the time they're 10 or so. This is why masturbation is readily practiced and Santa receives so few requests for lifetime subscriptions to Playboy.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
So? We all experience emotional turmoil when we challenge the beliefs that are held by our parents. Turmoil isn't bad in that context. Caring about what happens to one's non-religious friends is perfectly acceptable, as is the turmoil that a child of an atheist family might feel that their friends are being duped into a superstition.

Turmoil leads to examination, thought, and introspection.

Well, if you believe that these beliefs are false, then it's unnecessary infliction of turmoil. Telling your kid that their best friend is going to burn in hell for eternity is just fine if that's really what's going to happen - sometimes there are truly horrible things that don't go away just because we don't mention them. But if you think that belief is wrong then it's in the same class as the sect of Muslims that slices open their children's heads to remember the decapitation of the 7th century Muslim leader Saint Imam Hussein. It's not going to kill them, but it could leave a scar.
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
MattP, should we declare that circumcision is child abuse also?

We were talking about pressure about beliefs, and now you're talking about physical damage. Both worth talking about, but not in the same breath.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
I can't get enough of the clowns that say that LDS folks "abuse" our children by teaching them that sex outside of marriage is a sin. In order to construct that idiotic argument, they have to splice beliefs and practices from other religions into the LDS religion.

Pyro: but it's natural for kids to want to have sex.

Mormon: so?

Pyro: and if they do have sex, you say it's a sin.

Mormon: So?

Pyro: It's child abuse.

Mormon: Why?

Pyro: sinners are sent to a fiery hell to burn forever.

Mormon. We don't teach our kids that. It's not true.

Pyro: Yes, but if they won't stop fornicating, they can get disfellowshipped or even excommunicated.

Mormon: Eventually, I suppose, although very few teens end up getting excommunicated.

Pyro: well that's child abuse.

Mormon: why?

Pyro: How could you reject your own children, throw them out of their homes and communities, just for doing what comes natural to them?

Mormon: We don't reject people who are excommunicated, or throw them out of their homes or communities?

Pyro: Nonsense. What does excommunicated mean?

Mormon: It means you can't take the sacrament that some other religions call communion. You also aren't aren't given service assignments in church, and you are not allowed to pay tithing.

Pyro: Oh yeah? Well Joseph Smith was a con man. [deftly switches subject]
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
MattP, should we declare that circumcision is child abuse also?
I don't see why. There is relatively little discomfort involved and the child is too young to have much cognition about what's going on. He just knows that something hurts and that only lasts few for a few days.

quote:
We were talking about pressure about beliefs, and now you're talking about physical damage. Both worth talking about, but not in the same breath.
I see overlap between physical and mental abuse. There least of physical abuse is preferable to the worst of emotional abuse. Someone brought up the "indoctrination = child abuse" subject and I used the reference to the Muslims as a reductio ad absurdium to show that it could, in some cases, be abusive.

I think it is valid, in some cases, to call religious indoctrination of children abusive. Where I differ from Dawkins is that he seems considers all religious indoctrination of children to be a form of abuse. I don't really think the emotional abuse angle is all that important to him. I think he considers the real abuse to be what he perceives as the destruction of a child's capability for rational thought through religious education.

[ February 23, 2007, 11:57 PM: Message edited by: MattP ]
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
A valuable illustration is that of the Amish. They indoctrinate, then allow children to experience Rumspriga. They get to choose for themselves, essentially. Consequences can include banishment from the family.

Is that abuse or persecution for secular belief? I don't see it as such, while still empathizing with the young adults who have to make that choice.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
The Amish are a completely different world to me. Everyone Amish children really knows is Amish until they are old enough to have responsibilities that require interaction with the outside world.

I think there's a greater potential for harm within families who's religious beliefs are not pervasive in their community.
 
Posted by jasonr (Member # 969) on :
 
quote:
I'm specifically responding to Dawkins' "child abuse" statement. Maybe you're right that in context that I'll see that this was overblown. But instead of trying to persuade me with context, you've chosen to just assume that I'm showing bias against atheists. With all due respect, Jason, you obviously don't like me, but you know me well enough to have no excuse for making that unreasonable inference.
Sorry, I have a tendancy to be very intense when I debate, and the internet exacerbates that by removing the human element. In point of fact, I actually do like you (as much as I can like someone I have never met) and agree with alot of what you say on this board.

quote:
If someone that he'd read a book where a mormon said that atheist's children should be taken away, I'd have the same reaction: "that's POISON." If you don't know that about me, and my personal crusade to get Christians to stop alienating atheists, then you're willfully blind.

Now I could respond now by returning your unkind shot and saying that your assumption about me shows "typical atheist bias against religion," but I don't believe it, and even if I did believe it, I would not paint with such a grossly broad brush.

Pete, these are the facts as I see them. We have a situation where with almost no exception, every single person in the world who is a certain religion, just so happens to have been born to parents who also happen to be that religion. There are thousands of religions out there, probably hundreds of thousands, past, present and future. And all of them have embraced every conceivable fantastical belief, a dizzying array of monsters and demons and ghosts with almost nothing in common with one another. The only constant, the only point of commonality that you can find between them, the only recognizable pattern is that when a person believes in a certain religion, any religion, he always just happens to have parents who believed in it too. Not intelligence, not temperment, not philosophical disposition, not skin colour, not even country of origin seem to matter: it's all about the parents. And no one chooses their parents.

I don't look at this and see coincidence. I see the simple truth that religion is not a choice. If you are like 99.999% of Mormons, you didn't choose to be a Mormon, and aren't choosing to be one now. Your mother and father didn't choose it, and so on. Your religion is little more than an accident of birth. Had your parents worshipped the Dark Lord Satan, there is virtually a 100% chance that you would be Satan worshipper today, and the same could be said of Zeus, Odin, and one of hundreds of thousands of other religions that have existed through human history, cooincidentally, 99% of which you would probably find to be without any basis in reality.

The above may not, strictly speaking, speak to the truth or untruth of any given religious belief, but it does lend credence to Dawkins's hypothesis that children are being brainwashed, wholesale. That is the very definition of brainwashing, isn't it? You literally force your beliefs on another person, mold them to suit you. In this case, since the parents didn't choose their religion either, the children are being molded, not by a person or persons, but by an idea , a self-perpetuating idea that has gotten out of control and assumed a life of its own.

Dawkins's virus analogy is entirely apt. The genius of religion is that a person's intellect, no matter how great, is helpless against religion's influence. That's why I don't look down on religious peeople, or think I'm better than them; a religious person is just as likely to be a smart person, an artistic person, a kind person, etc... And a religious person has no choice, and was never given one at all. From the moment of his birth, before he even knew how to talk, odds are his parents and community drilled his religion into his head. The religion enters the host's mind, and then teaches the host that to question the religion is wrong, to think critically about the religion is evil, if you question it you are evil, you can never question it.

This doesn't mean that the host can't think critically; he just can't think critically with respect to one particular strain of the virus. It's why you see people of religion X easily seeing through and disbelieving the ridiculous fantasies concocted by religion B, labelling them as superstition, but meanwhile being completely blind to his own religion's ridiculous fantasies.

[ February 24, 2007, 12:31 AM: Message edited by: jasonr ]
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
The percentages here are all made up. How about some real data? I think you would find that there are far more Mormon converts than you allow for, and far more ex-Mormons. Same goes for any other religion.
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
Would you approach this question the same way if we were talking about a belief in democracy?

Are we all brainwashed into thinking that voting for a leader is a good way to run our state?

I was brainwashed. My mother brainwashed me into thinking that effort is rewarded with hard work, that honesty was important, and also that God existed.

Am I abused?
 
Posted by jasonr (Member # 969) on :
 
quote:
The percentages here are all made up. How about some real data? I think you would find that there are far more Mormon converts than you allow for, and far more ex-Mormons. Same goes for any other religion.
No, I think my assessment was pretty much bang on. I think you can probably count on one hand the number of practitioners of a given religion in any given community who were not born to parents who also happened to practice that religion.

You'll find exceptions, but so few that they are scarcely noticeable.

And no, I don't have any statistics. But I'd be happy to see some if you have them.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
The 99.999% and similar numbers are made up, but it is a fact that religion of your parents is the strongest predictor for the religion of the children. No, I'm not going to go look for a reference right now, but if anyone contests that assertion, I'll make an effort later tonight or tomorrow.
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
Oops, look what you guys just stepped in!

Princeton faculty member treatment

quote:
One can start answering these questions by observing that the church's role as a community of memory is being emphasized by thinkers like Maclntyre and Bellah and by many church leaders precisely at a time when an increasing percentage of Americans are not being born and raised in churches, or if they are, they are. not being reared in the churches of their ancestors, and are probably not attending churches that their children will attend. In other words, memory is being emphasized because memory is increasingly problematic.
EDIT: Take your time responding, this seems like an important question, and this was an off-the-cuff search - not to be considered definitive.

[ February 24, 2007, 12:44 AM: Message edited by: The Drake ]
 
Posted by jasonr (Member # 969) on :
 
quote:
Would you approach this question the same way if we were talking about a belief in democracy?

Are we all brainwashed into thinking that voting for a leader is a good way to run our state?

I was brainwashed. My mother brainwashed me into thinking that effort is rewarded with hard work, that honesty was important, and also that God existed.

Am I abused?

I simply don't think that "democracy" has been ingrained in our culture to even a fraction of the degree that religion has been. One other meaningful distinction between democracy and religion is that democracy actually can be tested in the real world. If democracy doesn't work, you can see it and understand it, because it's something real and falsifiable. The total voter apathy we have witnessed is evidence of democracy's fallibility. Like most ideas, it can be defeated by practical experience.

Religion, by contrast, is infallible. By its very nature, no one can ever prove it to be wrong. That's what makes it so insidious. Once you're infected, odds are you will never ever be able to get away from it.

The only reason we see any significant number of changes in our society with respect to religion is because our society has embraced secularism, which has decayed religion's hold on people. Secularism is to religion what AZT is to AIDS. Not a cure, but a means of loosening the hold, just a little bit. Science has also helped corrode religion's hold, because science has managed to disprove some of the religious tenets that used to be non-falsifiable, and therefore beyond question.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
Are we all brainwashed into thinking that voting for a leader is a good way to run our state?
I don't like "brainwashed" - it implies malicious intent. I'd say we are indoctrinated.

quote:
I was brainwashed. My mother brainwashed me into thinking that effort is rewarded with hard work, that honesty was important, and also that God existed.

Am I abused?

Only to the extent that these beliefs were damaging to you. My mother also said that God existed, but she was pretty wishy washy about her faith so I never got much fire & brimstone from her. I believed her just like I believed her about Santa Clause. Finding out that Santa Clause was a fiction played an important role in my eventually discarding the idea of God.
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
Also, I think describing religion as infection is offensive. And I'm a freaking atheist.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
an increasing percentage
A number can increase quite a bit before it becomes a majority.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
Fair enough. Glad I misunderstood. I'll reply in the same vein.

A virus doesn't fit the facts that you describe, Jason. A more apt analogy would be an operating system. You can scrub it, but chances are that you won't.

"these are the facts as I see them."

Pray tell, Jason, where do you "see" facts like this one:

"If you are like 99.999% of Mormons, you didn't choose to be a Mormon"

Those numbers are demonstrably false, Jason, given the number of people that convert to the LDS church as adults, and also the number born into the church that leave it. Personally I remember making the choice to be LDS, and I'd pondered that choice for years before making it.

This is the trouble I have with the Dawkins disciples. Every time I talk to a devotee, they start spouting these asinine numbers, and refusing to look at the facts directly in front of their face. Fact is that a considerable number of people going in and out the doors of the LDS belief system -- many of whom remain in LDS society, some without taking their name off church rolls, but make clear that they don't believe. Others bolt right out the door and never come back for a chat. Others take their names off the church and go become Quakers, or Hare Krishna, or Catholic, or Jewish, or Evangelical, or Atheist -- is it clear that I'm talking about specific friends of mine? Actual born in the LDS church folks, going and joining another religion. And we take in a greater number than those that leave us. Dawkins spews out these pseudofacts about "religion" and provides no nuance, no variation, and certainly doesn't bother to look at different doctrines and practice. He attacks a composite straw man. And then all his little disciplies assume that his numbers hold true for every single religion.
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
an increasing percentage
A number can increase quite a bit before it becomes a majority.
Doesn't take much increase to step past 99.999% though, does it?
 
Posted by jasonr (Member # 969) on :
 
quote:
Also, I think describing religion as infection is offensive. And I'm a freaking atheist.
It's also apt Drake. I find Dawkins's description of religion as an intellectual virus to be as close to the truth as I can imagine.

quote:
One can start answering these questions by observing that the church's role as a community of memory is being emphasized by thinkers like Maclntyre and Bellah and by many church leaders precisely at a time when an increasing percentage of Americans are not being born and raised in churches, or if they are, they are. not being reared in the churches of their ancestors, and are probably not attending churches that their children will attend.
Which church? The interesting thing is that even as old churches decay, new ones pop up to take their place. In the third world, religion is as strong as ever. Obviously no particular strain of the virus, no matter how persistent, lasts forever. But I see no signs that the basis fact of religion, that people "choose" the religion of their parents, is in any danger of changing outside of a few pockets in the first world.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
Doesn't take much increase to step past 99.999% though, does it?
You said "Oops, look what you guys just stepped in!" I only claimed a majority. If you were just addressing Jason, then "you guys" is confusing to me.
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
Answer this question objectively, jasonr.

Which mores and values are not to be considered a virus, but instead a legitimate teaching? What else do you consider a viral teaching by parents?
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
I'm a hell of a lot more offended at being told that I didn't have a "choice" as to which religion to belong to, than I am being called some sort of disease carrier.

Dawkins pretends to be a scientist, and he uses that credibility to pass off a conclusion he could only have pulled out of his ass. How do you prove who can choose and who can't?

If it turns out that children whose parents read them Richard Dawkins are more likely to remain atheists than kids of atheist parents that did not read them Dawkins, shall we take that as proof that reading Dawkins at a young age takes away free will?

Why is it that some people just hear the word religion and suddenly everything they ever knew about a falsifiable hypothesis goes right down the toilet?
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
The 99.999% and similar numbers are made up, but it is a fact that religion of your parents is the strongest predictor for the religion of the children. No, I'm not going to go look for a reference right now, but if anyone contests that assertion, I'll make an effort later tonight or tomorrow.

You're passing a value judgement that religion of the parents should not be a dominant variable in the selection of religion of their children, or that the most desirable situation would be for children to choose random religious values. Why?
 
Posted by jasonr (Member # 969) on :
 
quote:
Those numbers are demonstrably false, Jason, given the number of people that convert to the LDS church as adults, and also the number born into the church that leave it. Personally I remember making the choice to be LDS, and I'd pondered that choice for years before making it.
If I'm wrong about LDS, then I'm happy to be corrected. What percentage of current LDS members are converts? That should be a fairly easy statistic to find.

quote:
This is the trouble I have with the Dawkins disciples. Every time I talk to a devotee, they start spouting these asinine numbers, and refusing to look at the facts directly in front of their face. Fact is that a considerable number of people going in and out the doors of the LDS belief system -- many of whom remain in LDS society, some without taking their name off church rolls, but make clear that they don't believe. Others bolt right out the door and never come back for a chat. Others take their names off the church and go become Quakers, or Hare Krishna, or Catholic, or Jewish, or Evangelical, or Atheist -- is it clear that I'm talking about specific friends of mine? Actual born in the LDS church folks, going and joining another religion. And we take in a greater number than those that leave us. Dawkins spews out these pseudofacts about "religion" and provides no nuance, no variation, and certainly doesn't bother to look at different doctrines and practice. He attacks a composite straw man. And then all his little disciplies assume that his numbers hold true for every single religion.
I'll confess I was sloppy with my numbers, and may have overreached. And I don't think I should ever make blanket statements like "every religion ever" because that's just asking to be proven wrong. I'll settle for "almost" every religion ever, LOL.

But I am curious. What are the actual numbers for LDS? I mean what percentage of current members had parents who were also members?
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
Jason you cannot possibly know what percentage of people stay in a religion for religious reasons, which for cultural reasons, which for relationship reasons, and others out of sheer inertia. There is no calculus of free will. Your arguments make creationism look like a real science.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
This is the trouble I have with the Dawkins disciples.
Oh dear God, I hope you're not talking about me.

quote:
If it turns out that children whose parents read them Richard Dawkins are more likely to remain atheists than kids of atheist parents that did not read them Dawkins, shall we take that as proof that reading Dawkins at a young age takes away free will?
Can I shorten this to "Are children of atheists that grow up to be atheists denied free will?" Dawkins only seems relevant when we're discussing a concept that he is closely associated with, such as the "indoctrination=abuse" thing.

I have a hard time providing a good answer to the ramifications of free will when childhood education comes into play. Children accept a lot uncritically, and much of what they accept is perfectly reasonable by virtually any standard. Few people are going to complain about their children being taught heliocentrism, for instance. Have they been denied the opportunity to select the model of cosmological dynamics that they wish to follow? Um, maybe?

Perhaps it's more precise to say that children that have been instructed on any matter are going to be highly biased towards their initial instruction despite having the opportunity to choose to believe something contrary in the future.

So, it's not so much that you don't have a choice about your religion, but that it's going to be very hard to choose another one (or none) if you've been raised to strongly believe in the one your parents believe in.

[ February 24, 2007, 01:02 AM: Message edited by: MattP ]
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
If it's easy to find, then find it. I can just tell you that I know a lot of people who have left the church. And some that have stayed that don't believe in it.

Although a minority some who left still believe in it.

One factoid I do know: that the highest correlator to whether someone stays active in the church is *not* whether you are born in the church, but rather, whether you were married in the LDS temple. When the church found that out, a couple years ago, they dropped massive emphasis on the missionary work (went from 61,000 to 48,000 missionaries practically overnight) and started a storm of building temples all over the world.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
You're passing a value judgement that religion of the parents should not be a dominant variable in the selection of religion of their children, or that the most desirable situation would be for children to choose random religious values. Why?
I am? I'm stating what I believe to be a statistically valid assertion. What is the value judgement that you think I'm making?

[ February 24, 2007, 01:05 AM: Message edited by: MattP ]
 
Posted by jason m (Member # 2297) on :
 
3. According to the Church’s Member and Statistical Records Division, first-generation members made up 64 percent of total Church membership as of July 2006

source

I just happened to know where to find that... back to lurking...
 
Posted by jasonr (Member # 969) on :
 
quote:
Which mores and values are not to be considered a virus, but instead a legitimate teaching? What else do you consider a viral teaching by parents?
I don't know. I'm not going to create some kind of master rule that applies to all situations, because I'm not nearly smart enough to do that properly. The virus analogy is only meant to illustrate a point about a particular phenomenon: religion. To the extent that it applies to other things, that's gravy, but I don't think it's wrong just because I can't turn it into some kind of meta rule to be applied to every idea ever.

quote:
I'm a hell of a lot more offended at being told that I didn't have a "choice" as to which religion to belong to, than I am being called some sort of disease carrier.
Pete, you may personally have had a choice. You're an individual, so anything is possible. But all I am saying is that if you are like most individuals, odds are you didn't choose your religion in a meaningful way. I guess it depends on how you define choice. Like most people, you could "choose" not to be the religion of your parents, which is surely some kind of choice. But if, statistically, only, say 0.1% of individuals ever exercise this choice, (a made up number, but probably not far from the truth) and if it is found that the only commonality between people who practice a certain religion is the fact that their parents practiced it, then isn't that something of a dubious choice, to say the least?

quote:
Dawkins pretends to be a scientist, and he uses that credibility to pass off a conclusion he could only have pulled out of his ass. How do you prove who can choose and who can't?
You can't. And Dawkins does not pretend to be able to prove that people have no choice. Dawkins won't say that he can prove that God doesn't exist either. Like Dawkins, I look at the facts and draw my own conclusion. I can't prove that you don't have a choice, any more than you can prove that you do have a choice. We can only look at the facts and express our opinions.

quote:
If it turns out that children whose parents read them Richard Dawkins are more likely to remain atheists than kids of atheist parents that did not read them Dawkins, shall we take that as proof that reading Dawkins at a young age takes away free will?
I don't know. I'd have to look at the situation in its context and make a determination then. I can't comment on some abstract scenario without needed context.

quote:
Why is it that some people just hear the word religion and suddenly everything they ever knew about a falsifiable hypothesis goes right down the toilet?
I'm not sure what you mean. Are you saying that my hypothesis that people don't "choose" their religion is non-falsifiable? I'd say that's probably true, since it's never possible to falsify an opinion like that. Language is too slippery for that.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
One factoid I do know
Tee-hee. Given your issue with the changing meanings of words...

quote:
Factoid originally meant a wholly spurious "fact" invented to create or prolong public exposure or to manipulate public opinion and was coined by Norman Mailer in his 1973 biography of Marilyn Monroe. Mailer himself described a factoid as "facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper". Mailer created the word by combining the word "fact" and the ending "-oid" to mean "like a fact".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factoid

[ February 24, 2007, 01:10 AM: Message edited by: MattP ]
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
MattP, I may have been mixing your views with jasonr's. What statement do you actually make about the significance of a correlation between religious views of a parent and their children?
 
Posted by Clark (Member # 2727) on :
 
jason m just answered jasonr's question. What were the odds of that?
 
Posted by hobsen (Member # 2923) on :
 
Pete at Home and I seem to have been introduced to religious doubt by finding that Santa Claus did not exist.

That I think is the purpose of Santa Claus. He did not become important in the ages of faith; he became most important in the hundred years after 1850. That is the time when a lot of American Protestantism had to be overturned to make way for an understanding of geologic time and the evolution of species. The message of Santa Claus to children is that your parents will lie to you and your teachers will lie to you. Children get disillusioned, and they never accept an idea uncritically again. But most of them grow up to accept the ideas of their group anyway, just not so blindly.

But this is a hypothesis; I admit I have no scientific data to support it.
 
Posted by jasonr (Member # 969) on :
 
quote:
3. According to the Church’s Member and Statistical Records Division, first-generation members made up 64 percent of total Church membership as of July 2006
Well, there you are. I guess I was wrong about LDS. Maybe I'm wrong in other respects to. Maybe the old rules don't apply anymore in a modern, secular society.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by jason m:
3. According to the Church’s Member and Statistical Records Division, first-generation members made up 64 percent of total Church membership as of July 2006

source

I just happened to know where to find that... back to lurking...

I hope I can say this without giving offense, but like many other organizations that are motivated to promote their numbers the LDS church is not very rigorous in their definition of membership. One has to make a deliberate effort to be removed from the membership rolls so anyone that's ever been baptized by a missionary is recorded as a member, even if they've never attended another day of church and reverted to the religion of their parents. Even without these problems, the missionary focus of the church and it's relative youth is going to cause it to have more first-generation members, as a percentage of total membership, than other churches.

[ February 24, 2007, 01:19 AM: Message edited by: MattP ]
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
MattP, I may have been mixing your views with jasonr's. What statement do you actually make about the significance of a correlation between religious views of a parent and their children?

I only stated that there was a strong correlation. I didn't say anything about whether this was good or bad.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
Why is it that some people just hear the word religion and suddenly everything they ever knew about a falsifiable hypothesis goes right down the toilet?
--------------------------------
I'm not sure what you mean.


What I mean is that you answer reasonably when I ask you this:

If it turns out that children whose parents read them Richard Dawkins are more likely to remain atheists than kids of atheist parents that did not read them Dawkins, shall we take that as proof that reading Dawkins at a young age takes away free will?

You reply: I don't know. I'd have to look at the situation in its context and make a determination then. I can't comment on some abstract scenario without needed context.

That's the Jason that I know. But when you're talking about religion, that sort of deference to fact seems to fly right out the window. Why? My scenario contained far more facts than the abstract religious scenario that you were judging.

I think you could reasonably conclude that some members don't really have a meaningful choice whether to remain in a church, since their family and all their friends were church members. But that's very different than brainwashed at birth.

Thanks for the info on the word Factoid, Matt. That's useful to know. That certainly would subert my meaning, since it would be strange for the LDS church to produce a "factoid" whose primary effect was to radically change the institution's own focus from missionary work to temple building. Heck, you were there in Utah while it happened; do you share my observation on that?
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
But also, correlation does not imply cause, also it may indicate exposure more than coercion. Would you agree, MattP?
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
Yay! I'm glad someone picked up on my note on Santa Claus.

quote:
Originally posted by hobsen:
Pete at Home and I seem to have been introduced to religious doubt by finding that Santa Claus did not exist.

That I think is the purpose of Santa Claus. He did not become important in the ages of faith; he became most important in the hundred years after 1850. That is the time when a lot of American Protestantism had to be overturned to make way for an understanding of geologic time and the evolution of species. The message of Santa Claus to children is that your parents will lie to you and your teachers will lie to you. Children get disillusioned, and they never accept an idea uncritically again. But most of them grow up to accept the ideas of their group anyway, just not so blindly.

But this is a hypothesis; I admit I have no scientific data to support it.

Historically, that would be interesting to explore.

Of course religiously, since I believe that salvation means KNOWING God, not just believing IN God, I think that doubt is an incredibly useful tool. Without doubt, without questioning my beliefs, I would have never come to know God.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
Heck, you were there in Utah while it happened; do you share my observation on that?
I noted the change in focus, but I don't recall the bit about temple marriage and retention. That may just be because of my aversion to the topic of temple marriage which was until fairly recently the only real source of religious tension between my wife and I.

[ February 24, 2007, 01:24 AM: Message edited by: MattP ]
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
But also, correlation does not imply cause, also it may indicate exposure more than coercion. Would you agree, MattP?

Absolutely. I never implied that it was coercion. I think my recent response to Pete about children of atheists growing up to be atheists made that point. It's not so much a matter of choice as it is of bias. Given enough bias, certain choices become substantially more likely than others, but that still doesn't imply coercion.

[ February 24, 2007, 01:27 AM: Message edited by: MattP ]
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
Thanks, MattP, I'm glad we were able to clarify that.
 
Posted by Clark (Member # 2727) on :
 
quote:
the highest correlator to whether someone stays active in the church is *not* whether you are born in the church, but rather, whether you were married in the LDS temple. When the church found that out, a couple years ago, they dropped massive emphasis on the missionary work (went from 61,000 to 48,000 missionaries practically overnight) and started a storm of building temples all over the world.
Some numbers for Pete:
The great increase in temples took place in the very end of the 90s, and broke 100 just before the year 2000 hit. Specifically, there were 107 by April 2001, and 122 by 2005.

Missionary numbers and a bit of a change of focus ("raising the bar") first became a big issue in April 2002 61,638 missionaries. You are right that the number of missionaries dropped quickly to 51,067 by April 2004.

So, by your theory, the church had to find out that temple marriage was the more important factor, spend 5 years planning and building temples and /then/ decide to cut back on the missionary program.

Possible, but I always figured that it was simply that increasing temple production was the right thing to do, and refocusing missionary efforts was the right thing to do, and the timing was coincidental. (And not quite as coincident as maybe your comments suggest.)
quote:


 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
I'd expand by saying that the vast majority of people live what Socrates called the "unexamined life".

quote:
and if again I say that to talk every day about virtue and the other things about which you hear me talking and examining myself and others is the greatest good to man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living, you will believe me still less. This is as I say, gentlemen, but it is not easy to convince you.
Who will experience discomfort or ostracization for what they believe, let alone death?
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
I'd expand by saying that the vast majority of people live what Socrates called the "unexamined life".
No argument there. Ornery is a refreshing breath of fresh air in the intellectually stifling world out there. Few people seem to participate in any sort of metacognitive exercise. They seem to just believe what they believe and don't give much thought to anything more.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
Hang on, though. Advertising causes an increase in consumption, but does it necessarily deprive someone of free will?
quote:
I hope I can say this without giving offense, but like many other organizations that are motivated to promote their numbers the LDS church is not very rigorous in their definition of membership. One has to make a deliberate effort to be removed from the membership rolls so anyone that's ever been baptized by a missionary is recorded as a member, even if they've never attended another day of church and reverted to the religion of their parents. Even without these problems, the missionary focus of the church and it's relative youth is going to cause it to have more first-generation members, as a percentage of total membership, than other churches.
That's very true. But it's also true of members born in the church who go innactive or join another church.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
I think my recent response to Pete about children of atheists growing up to be atheists made that point. It's not so much a matter of choice as it is of bias. Given enough bias, certain choices become substantially more likely than others, but that still doesn't imply coercion.

Exactly. I thought I was arguing that point with Jason.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Clark:
quote:
the highest correlator to whether someone stays active in the church is *not* whether you are born in the church, but rather, whether you were married in the LDS temple. When the church found that out, a couple years ago, they dropped massive emphasis on the missionary work (went from 61,000 to 48,000 missionaries practically overnight) and started a storm of building temples all over the world.
Some numbers for Pete:
The great increase in temples took place in the very end of the 90s, and broke 100 just before the year 2000 hit. Specifically, there were 107 by April 2001, and 122 by 2005.

Missionary numbers and a bit of a change of focus ("raising the bar") first became a big issue in April 2002 61,638 missionaries. You are right that the number of missionaries dropped quickly to 51,067 by April 2004.

So, by your theory, the church had to find out that temple marriage was the more important factor, spend 5 years planning and building temples and /then/ decide to cut back on the missionary program.

Possible, but I always figured that it was simply that increasing temple production was the right thing to do, and refocusing missionary efforts was the right thing to do, and the timing was coincidental. (And not quite as coincident as maybe your comments suggest.)
quote:


You're right; looks like the causation on that the missionary side of my theory is broken.

But my main point was that correlation between temple marriages and staying in the church was bigger than being born in the church and staying in the church.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
This is the trouble I have with the Dawkins disciples.
Oh dear God, I hope you're not talking about me.
No no no! Of course not. I told Jason I was responding to his post in the same vein he'd written that stuff about religion. I was responding to the mormon virus post where 99.999% of mormons have no free will [Mad] . Please please stop taking everything I say in the worst possible light towards you and then ignoring the nice things I say. It's really discouraging. [Frown]


quote:
If it turns out that children whose parents read them Richard Dawkins are more likely to remain atheists than kids of atheist parents that did not read them Dawkins, shall we take that as proof that reading Dawkins at a young age takes away free will?
-----
Can I shorten this to "Are children of atheists that grow up to be atheists denied free will?"

No; that's not what I'm asking at all. I was just creating an analogy to show the flaws in the Dawkins' reasoning that correlation of parents to kids' religion meant no free will. It's not even a serious question; just an analogy to show how the no free will argument was flawed, and IIRC you agreed with that.


Perhaps it's more precise to say that children that have been instructed on any matter are going to be highly biased towards their initial instruction despite having the opportunity to choose to believe something contrary in the future.

quote:
So, it's not so much that you don't have a choice about your religion, but that it's going to be very hard to choose another one (or none) if you've been raised to strongly believe in the one your parents believe in.
Sure, I can buy that. I'm just saying that even without calculating in any possible spiritual reasons, which I understand you won't agree on, there are other factors, such as culture, social networking, inertia, etc, that keep someone in a religion, and each of those factors will vary wildly from religion to religion and culture to culture.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
Please please stop taking everything I say in the worst possible light towards you and then ignoring the nice things I say. It's really discouraging.
In this case I was one of two people arguing for a position which Dawkins agreed with, so I wasn't sure if this was directed at me or not, though I leaned towards not. Also, I saw this as a good place to distance myself from Dawkins with a little panache.

As for ignoring the nice stuff - I'm just not sure how to respond. In normal conversation, "thanks" or "I appreciate that" are appropriate, but on the forum saying "thanks" to a complement seems as shallow as "f**k you" to an insult. If I don't have a substance response to a statement, positive or negative, I don't respond. The only exception I tend to make is for humor. I think I'm much more clever than I likely am, so if I think I've got something funny to say it's all but impossible for me to refrain from saying it.
 
Posted by hobsen (Member # 2923) on :
 
Jasonr said,
quote:
Well, there you are. I guess I was wrong about LDS. Maybe I'm wrong in other respects to. Maybe the old rules don't apply anymore in a modern, secular society.
No, you were probably correct. Out of the hundred largest denominations in the United States, I doubt that more than three or four have over 20% of first-generation members. The LDS Church has simply worked very hard on recruiting new members, so it is far from typical. That 64% figure is astoundingly high.

And thanks for the figures, Clark. Could someone explain why building a lot more temples leads to a lot more temple marriages? Is it just because otherwise Mormons would have to travel too far to get to a temple, so they find it impracticable? I mean Roman Catholics by the millions make pilgrimages to Rome, and Muslims by the million make pilgrimages to Mecca, both often travelling thousands of miles, so it would seem Mormons might want to go to Salt Lake City once in their lifetime for a temple wedding?

[ February 24, 2007, 09:52 AM: Message edited by: hobsen ]
 
Posted by KnightEnder (Member # 992) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
I wonder how many atheists prevent their kids from dating religious ones.

DO NOT read anything into that statement, it is an open, honest question.

Not me. That would be a form of bigotry. When my boy brings her home for dinner I'll even bow my head as she says grace. [Smile]

KE
 
Posted by KnightEnder (Member # 992) on :
 
An example; The Whataburger (some of the best burgers anywhere) has a huge sign on the door and the window by the drive through with a US flag and the words "In God We Trust" written underneath it. I respect the owners right to believe as he sees fit but I feel left out of my own country every time I see that sign. That kind of blatant in your face religion is rife here in Texas.

It equates with "Love it or Leave It" which totally misses the idea of what the US is supposed to be.

If say, a Muslim nation attacked the US with the intentions of converting everyone to Islam I would fight and die for your right to believe in Christ, but at least here in Texas I don't think the idea is mutual. It's more like; the only good atheist ia a dead atheist.

Do y'all think it is right for someone to assume you are a Chistian as soon as they meet you?

My wife's uncle told my son to bow his head and pray one Thanksgiving and I politely said no son we don't do that. You can if you want but you don't have to. (To be fair my uncle was red as a beet and terribly embarrassed. He is a good man. He just naturally assumed my blond haired blue-eyed overly polite American son was a Christian.)

KE

[ February 24, 2007, 10:32 AM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]
 
Posted by Jesse (Member # 1860) on :
 
KE, you'll get over Whataburger when In-N-Out opens in Texas [Smile]

Of course, In-N-Out puts little bible quotes on the burger wrapper....

Carlotta-

Persecution? I wouldn't use that word. I've been physically attacked because I don't say The Pledge. However, that probably would have happened if I was a Jehovas Witness or highly observant Muslim.

Mostly, I just get insulted a lot, which isn't that big a deal to me except when people who know better call me an Athiest.

[ February 24, 2007, 12:32 PM: Message edited by: Jesse ]
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
Jesse, did you change your belief system, or are you acknowledging that deism is a type of atheism? [Wink]
 
Posted by Clark (Member # 2727) on :
 
hobsen,

Building more temples leads to more temple marriages partly because of geography. At the start of 1980, there were 17 temples in the world. All but 4 were in North America. By the end of the year 2000, there were 102. Prior to that big push, LDS living outside North America were likely to need to make a trip of days just to reach a temple. And LDS in Africa, or South America were the people least likely to be able to afford such a trip.

While it's nice to get someone to the temple once in their life to perform a temple marriage, I'd say the more important feature is providing LDS with the opportunity to attend reasonably often. Cutting a trip to the temple from 3 days (each way!) to 6 hours allows devoted members, even quite poor ones, to at least attend a few times per year, rather than once every few years.

On the topic of first generation members of any religion, it's not just them who we need to be thinking about here. How about people that are raised in a religion, leave for decades and then return? They ought to count among those who have made conscious decisions about their religion rather than just keeping on with what their parents taught them. You could certainly say that they would have a propensity to return to their original religion, but they're still clearly making the choice to return to their former religion. In my experience this is a small yet significant part of LDS members, I'd say something on the order of 10%
 
Posted by hobsen (Member # 2923) on :
 
That is a good explanation, Clark. It sounds as if building more temples, particularly in Africa and South America, should make things better for the people there.

And I had not thought about those who leave for decades and then return. That happens in all denominations. People learn the basics in childhood and adolescence, get caught up in their adult lives and become inactive, and then return toward the end of their lives. With that life experience, they actually understand more about the religion than the young people do; many aspects are intended for them. Of course they could have continued their active membership throughout, but those caught up with careers and families have to set priorities. They do not necessarily disbelieve, but they lack time.

But this topic is marginal to the question of whether atheists are persecuted, although the concensus on that seems to be that persecution is durected at individuals and local, rather than pervasive and severe throughout the United States. I'd rather be an atheist than a Muslim in this country, but even the Muslims are surviving fairly well. Their situation is not like that of Jews in Nazi Germany, although bad things happen from time to time. Like the Muslim place of worship near me that got shot up recently; I believe police recovered about a hundred bullets probably from an automatic weapon. Nobody was hurt or killed - it was night and the building was empty - but that would tend to make them feel unwelcome.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
How about people that are raised in a religion, leave for decades and then return? They ought to count among those who have made conscious decisions about their religion rather than just keeping on with what their parents taught them.
I dunno. In a recent email exchange with the ex-girlfriend I mentioned earlier, she said:
quote:
I still believe in the doctrines the church teaches, don't get me wrong, and still have the utmost respect for it and most of its members, Just don't get me talking about the word of wisdom! LOL when missionaries end up on my doorstep (of course I tell them I'm a member: once you're LDS you're always LDS! well, I haven't been booted, I mean) I will talk about anything but the word of wisdom with them. So that, and me deciding I was done feeling guilty for premarital sex are the 2 things that made me stop going to church. Figure God and I will sort it out one day.
I think she still belongs in the "never left" category though external appearances may indicate otherwise. Here in Utah, stories like hers seem pretty common amongst inactive members. They still identify as LDS even if they are no longer walking the walk.
 
Posted by Jesse (Member # 1860) on :
 
Nah, Pete.

Although I do acknowledge your ability to be a touch of a butt head from time to time [Razz]
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
Back on the topic of persecution, I think that atheists are left alone in large part because they keep their beliefs to themselves. In a very religious environment like the area of Utah that I live in, the occasional Jew or Hindi is treated as an interesting novelty, but atheists are viewed as some type of mentally-damaged or subversive force. I don't hear atheists mentioned much in conversation, but the few times they have, it's been a negative light.

My wife, who fully accepts my lack of belief still says things to me like "don't tell people you're an atheist, just say you're an agnostic or something."

Part of the problem, I think, is that atheists do not form a cohesive group and have no official publications so atheists, as a group, can be said to not really stand for anything. Christians can go on and on about how they follow the teachings of Jesus, the Golden Rule, yada yada yada. The only common attribute of atheists is that they do not believe in God. There is no atheist 10-commandments or atheist bible. For those that believe that morality comes from religion, it's logical to conclude that people who do not follow a religion suffer some moral deficiency.

This is a problem of ignorance, but correcting the ignorance will be difficult. Even a simple statement of believe such as "Morality does not come from religion." can be seen as an attack on religion. In order to define our beliefs and articulate them to other people, we have to say things that other people will find offensive, proving what arrogant pricks us atheists can be.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jesse:
Nah, Pete.

Although I do acknowledge your ability to be a touch of a butt head from time to time [Razz]

OK. I take it you're not going to help me resolve my conundrum. I can't figure out whether to characterize Deism as "functional atheism," as "dysfunctional theism," or a "misunderstood uncharted area where atheism overlaps with Protestantism." [Big Grin]

[ February 24, 2007, 03:12 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by KnightEnder:
My wife's uncle told my son to bow his head and pray one Thanksgiving and I politely said no son we don't do that. You can if you want but you don't have to.

KE, that's brilliant. Well done.

quote:
Do y'all think it is right for someone to assume you are a Chistian as soon as they meet you?
I don't think that it's right or wrong. Do you know that everyone who meets me in law school assumes that I'm a atheist?

quote:
An example; The Whataburger (some of the best burgers anywhere) has a huge sign on the door and the window by the drive through with a US flag and the words "In God We Trust" written underneath it. I respect the owners right to believe as he sees fit but I feel left out of my own country every time I see that sign. That kind of blatant in your face religion is rife here in Texas.
I have no problem with religion being in your face, but I do have a problem with someone suggesting questioning the citizenship of this country. I think that it should be OK to put up a Creche or the ten commandments on public property, but I strongly agree with you that we should take "in god we trust" off the money, and take "under God" out of the pledge of allegiance, because they serve no secular purpose, and they cause some atheists to feel excluded from full citizenship.

quote:
It equates with "Love it or Leave It" which totally misses the idea of what the US is supposed to be.
Amen, brother. And I refuse to let my country use God's holy name as a shibboleth to exclude you.
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
Finally caught up on thread.

My two cents:

Persecution entails the idea of pursuit, so I would suggest that atheists are very rarely "persecuted" in the most correct sense of the word. It isn't like there is some Theist Enforcement Agency seeking out disbelievers and bustin' down doors.

Discrimination is a more accurate word. And, as Pete aptly indicated on page two, discrimination simply refers to making a distinction.

On the article Omega posted: The author is clearly biased.

The author is right in suggesting that the articulation of a worldview will naturally cause others to perceive and treat the articulator differently
quote:
it would be odd for an atheist to claim that his understanding of all of reality should have no bearing on how other people treat him.
...but I'm curious that the reverse is not discussed. Wouldn't it also be odd for a theist to claim the same?
quote:
So long as the unofficial spokespeople for atheism file lawsuits to remove God from the Pledge, advocate infanticide and bestiality, and write books arguing that religious believers are deluded, atheists are going to have a hard time fitting in.
They advocate bestiality and infanticide, do they? Well then, they deserve what they get. [Roll Eyes] No bias to be found here. [Exploding]

In response to the whole Dawkins tangent: I think that what Dawkins is doing is being misrepresented. I think he's merely trying to provide a counterbalance by demonstrating that it is reasonable to reject theism. I don't think he's trying to prove something which is clearly not "provable," but is rather simply adding weight to the reasonableness of dismissing something unreasonable.

I would guess that a lot (if not most) of religiously inculcated individuals are latently agnostic/atheistic. But it's hard for a child (or an adult) to explore their theistic doubts objectively when everybody that child respects and trusts insists that theism is Truth (and then the child is further told that something infinitely bad will happen if they reject theism).

It's very much like the asch conformity experiment. I think that Dawkins is simply trying to provide a counterbalance to the confederates.

[ February 24, 2007, 08:01 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]
 
Posted by Adam Lassek (Member # 1514) on :
 
quote:
Pete said:
Do you know that everyone who meets me in law school assumes that I'm a atheist?

That's interesting. Any idea why they do that?

Is there a preponderance of godless heathens in law school? [Smile]
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
I think it's Pete's "Nietzsche Rules!" T-shirt.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Adam Lassek:
quote:
Pete said:
Do you know that everyone who meets me in law school assumes that I'm a atheist?

That's interesting. Any idea why they do that?

Is there a preponderance of godless heathens in law school? [Smile]

Actually nearly a quarter of the students LDS, and they generally recognize me as LDS, but the non-LDS ones are often shocked to find out that I'm religious, and then shocked again to find out I'm LDS. In most classes, I guess my politics seem leftish and socially conscious, and my take "intellectual"; conservatives in corporate law would actually groan when the prof would call on me. [Big Grin] For some reason that seems to profile me as atheist. Most importantly, I think that religious people are just expected to keep a low profile in discussions, and I don't, and since I don't talk about religion, they assume I'm atheist.
 
Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
hobsen said
quote:
I mean Roman Catholics by the millions make pilgrimages to Rome, and Muslims by the million make pilgrimages to Mecca, both often travelling thousands of miles, so it would seem Mormons might want to go to Salt Lake City once in their lifetime for a temple wedding?

I would guess because young couples just starting out generally don't have the funds for a long pilgrimage. We thought about going to Rome for our honeymoon but couldn't afford it. At least by the time we retire though we hope to go again. (studied there a semester.)

I didn't know you had to actually go to a temple to have a temple marriage. Seems odd to my Catholic way of thinking, I guess.
 
Posted by hobsen (Member # 2923) on :
 
Perhaps some kind Mormon will explain a bit about the types of marriage recognized by the LDS Church.

Studying in Rome for a semester sounds nice; and I hope you can go back sometime, when you have more money and fewer responsibilities.

My dear wife, who is a fount of information on Roman Catholic trivia, came up with the ultimate question of the sort recently: on Ash Wednesday, what happens to the leftover ashes? She promptly asked her sister, who has been a Discalced Carmelite nun in New York State for about fifty years; and of course Theresa had no idea either. Since I can think of few questions less important for anyone's eternal salvation, I refuse to look it up, although of course any priest would know. But maybe you can stump someone with that one.
 
Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
It was great to study in Rome, I even got to go to north Italy for a weekend and meet my grandfather's second cousin and see the house where my namesake and great-grandmother was born. The only bad thing was that Pan was a year behind me in school, so I went without him, and he went without me a year later. (Though I found a roundtrip ticket to Rome for $329 - post 9-11 by few months - and surprised him by a 5 day visit. He proposed.)

Now for the fun trivia! Ashes from Ash Wednesday are made from burning the palms from Palm Sunday the year before. They (the palms and the ashes actually) are considered "sacramentals", New Advent, sacramentals
and so must be treated with respect. Traditionally the two ways of discarding sacramentals that can no longer be used (for example a broken rosary or crucifix that can't or you don't want to fix) is to bury them or burn them. Since the ashes are already burned, I would assume they are buries.
 
Posted by Jesse (Member # 1860) on :
 
quote:
I can't figure out whether to characterize Deism as "functional atheism," as "dysfunctional theism," or a "misunderstood uncharted area where atheism overlaps with Protestantism."
It's not like we have meetings, Pete [Wink] I can only speak for myself.

There is nothing essentially dysfunctional about the notion that our Creators messages to us is contained in the gift we have been given, a world capable of supporting nearly ten billion of us in a state of virtual paradise if we work together to make it so.

There's no element of Athiesm in the belief that we have been endowed with reason, with compassion, with the ability to love, the ability to communicate, and the ability to put the other before ourselves, for a purpose, and that the purpose of these gifts is clear.

There is nothing Protestant about rejecting the notion that rather than making use of our gifts, we should follow charasmatic leaders who claim to have spoken to some being or beings they term god or gods.
 
Posted by hobsen (Member # 2923) on :
 
Thanks for the link to the entry on sacramentals in the 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia, Carlotta. Your surmise about the disposal of those ashes is what I should have expected, although there is no certainty either of us is correct.

Jesse, your observatins on Deism seem clear. But the word has historical usages which may prove confusing, and Deists were often called atheists by their detractors.

The first problem is the word's connection to the clockmaker analogy, saying the universe is like a clockwork mechanism which God has set in motion and left to run by itself, which was in turn invented to solve a possible conflict between science and religion. For example, Galileo has been alleged to have dropped a light and a heavy weight from the Leaning Tower of Pisa to disprove by experiment Aristotle's assertion that a heavy weight would fall faster than a light one. Now if a passing demon had supported the lighter weight to slow its descent, that experiment would have given a wrong result. Saying nothing supernatural ever happens goes farther than necessary to answer that difficulty, as a rare exception now and then would do no harm; but if most or all scientific experiments were corrupted by malicious spirits, science would in fact be impossible.

The second historical fact is that the word Christian a couple of hundred years ago referred to a member of a Christian church. But most churches at that time had elaborate creeds which required members to assert their belief in all sorts of improbable doctrines, leading to the child's remark that, "Faith is when you believe something that you know ain't true." So men of conscience often refused to join a church and got called Deists. Today they would simply be called Christians, as the word is now used loosely to refer to anyone taking his chief source of religious inspiration from the life or teachings of Jesus, even though some conservatives still try to enforce the old definition. Mitt Romney getting called a "fake Christian" is a recent example of that; members of other denominations can properly claim that his Mormon beliefs are untrue, but they are nevertheless still part of the Christian tradition. Even children's beliefs about Santa Claus, which I think all adult Christians believe to be untrue, are still Christian beliefs.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
So men of conscience often refused to join a church and got called Deists. Today they would simply be called Christians, as the word is now used loosely to refer to anyone taking his chief source of religious inspiration from the life or teachings of Jesus,
Most deists I've known would not say that they their "chief source of religious inspiration" is taken from "the life or teachings of Jesus." Some have openly scoffed at Bible as a religious text or the practice of praying to Jesus.
 
Posted by Clark (Member # 2727) on :
 
hobsen said:
quote:
Roman Catholics by the millions make pilgrimages to Rome, and Muslims by the million make pilgrimages to Mecca, . . . Mormons might want to go to Salt Lake City once in their lifetime for a temple wedding?
I didn't think of this until now, but Utah Mormons actually make pilgrimages by the thousands to places like Nauvoo, Kirtland and Palmyra every year where the LDS church really originated. Going to SLC doesn't have any real religious meaning to the LDS like going to Mecca does for Muslims. I imagine that the significance is more like a visit to Rome for a Catholic, but without quite so much history or art. (but better skiing)

quote:
Perhaps some kind Mormon will explain a bit about the types of marriage recognized by the LDS Church.
The LDS church recognizes two types of marriage. Civil marriage is one recognized by the government that everyone is familiar with. It can be performed by a Mormon Bishop (leader of the local congregation of a few hundred members) or anyone legally empowered to perform a marriage (including a previous marriage by a Catholic priest or other religion). (I guess Bishops can't perform marriages in all countries, but they can in the US.) This marriage is the standard "till death do you part" sort of thing.

Temple marriage in the US is really two things at the same time. First, it is a legal marriage recognized by the US government just like any other. In some countries (Brazil for one) the LDS church does not have the power to perform legal marriages in Temples. In the case that the temple ceremony is not recognized by the government, the couple must be married legally before being sealed in the temple. In order to enter the temple, LDS must be members in good standing with the church, i.e. essentially following all the rules.

The other half of the temple marriage is the sealing. LDS believe that through the priesthood a family can be sealed for time and all eternity. The family unit will continue after death. Children born to a couple after their temple sealing are also sealed to the parents and are said to be "Born in the Covenant". Children already born can be sealed to their parents in the temple. Temple Marriage is a "covenant," or a promise between God and us. The individuals promise to be loyal to each other, follow God's commandments, etc., and God promises that the family can be together forever. Obviously, if we fall down on our end, God is not obligated to pay up.

My apologies to Matt, who is trying to hard to actually discuss the persecution of Atheists.
 
Posted by hobsen (Member # 2923) on :
 
Thanks, Clark. That information serves admirably.

MattP, I agree that Deists who scoff at the Bible or Christian prayers could not possibly be termed Christians. And LoverOfJoy made an additional comment on the Chief Illiniwek thread, "For me, it's enough that a significant number of people are offended by it." Regardless of whether someone believes Jesus to be the Son of God or the illegitimate offspring of an otherwise unknown Roman soldier, scoffing at someone else's religious beliefs is at least bad manners. He will likely be hurt, and he may well get carried away and try to hurt the offender in turn.

But a couple of hundred years ago, in the English-speaking world, relatively few people were church members. At the time of the American Revolution, I think it was something like 10% of the population of the colonies, as compared to 80% or more today. That left a whole lot of people who believed in God and probably Jesus, but who were not members of an organized church. And I doubt they typically scoffed at Christianity; they just thought those in churches were sometimes overly pious or perhaps hypocrites, or the required doctrines were irrational. Such people got called Deists. If Christian churches today required members to sign a statement that they believed the world was created in 4004 B.C. the number of members would be fewer, and their honesty suspect.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
Well-argued, sir!

quote:
Originally posted by Jesse:
quote:
I can't figure out whether to characterize Deism as "functional atheism," as "dysfunctional theism," or a "misunderstood uncharted area where atheism overlaps with Protestantism."
It's not like we have meetings, Pete [Wink] I can only speak for myself.

There is nothing essentially dysfunctional about the notion that our Creators messages to us is contained in the gift we have been given, a world capable of supporting nearly ten billion of us in a state of virtual paradise if we work together to make it so.

Ah, now this is the first time that I've heard a Deist use the term "creator's message." Otherwise I'd never have used the term "dysfunctional theism." You have thorougly rebutted my inference, and I applaud you. Although you say you speak only for yourself, so it may be that what I said might apply to some deists. I'll certainly do inquiries before I toss that hand grenade again. [Big Grin]

quote:
There's no element of Athiesm in the belief that we have been endowed with reason, with compassion, with the ability to love, the ability to communicate, and the ability to put the other before ourselves, for a purpose, and that the purpose of these gifts is clear.
The italicized portion certainly does rebutt what I said about atheism, and I'd not have said it if I'd heard that before. Although it does beg the question of, if the message is clear, then explain the French Revolution, or the fact that the rationalists that gave us the US revolution kept slavery in place ...


quote:
There is nothing Protestant about rejecting the notion that rather than making use of our gifts, we should follow charasmatic leaders who claim to have spoken to some being or beings they term god or gods.
That one's not so well-answered, since the trait you speak of isn't unique to or universal to Protestantism. But it was the least relevant of my questions anyway, not worth arguing, so I'll let it go.

Anyway, I'm glad I asked. That was very enlightening.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
MattP, I agree that Deists who scoff at the Bible or Christian prayers could not possibly be termed Christians. And LoverOfJoy made an additional comment on the Chief Illiniwek thread, "For me, it's enough that a significant number of people are offended by it." Regardless of whether someone believes Jesus to be the Son of God or the illegitimate offspring of an otherwise unknown Roman soldier, scoffing at someone else's religious beliefs is at least bad manners.
No argument that it would bad manners. I put that out as a counter to your assertion of an association between Christianity and Deism. Virtually everything I've ever read about Deism, from the 17th century formulation of the concept into it's modern form, indicates that Deists consider Christianity just one more revealed religion with no unique claim to truth.
 
Posted by hobsen (Member # 2923) on :
 
MattP, we may be saying the same thing, in which case I was unclear. Historically Deists believed in a Creator God, as the name suggests; and Wikipedia summarizes key Deist beliefs as follows:
quote:
Critical elements of deist thought included:

Rejection of all religions based on books that claim to contain the revealed word of God.
Rejection of reports of miracles, prophecies and religious "mysteries".
Rejection of the Genesis story of creation and the doctrine of original sin, along with all similar stories.
Rejection of Christianity, Islam and other religious beliefs.

Constructive elements of deist thought included:

God exists and created the universe.
God wants human beings to behave morally.
Human beings have souls that survive death; that is, there is an afterlife.
In the afterlife, God will reward moral behavior and punish immoral behavior.

But today a lot of Christian clergymen would disagree with the Deist claim that the existence of God can be proven; they still believe in God but accept the arguments of philosophers that all such "proofs" are fallacious. And concerning the afterlife, an online journal devoted to religion remarked in 1998,
quote:
According to a recent (1996) Gallup poll, although about 94% of U.S. citizens say that they believe in God, only 71% believe in some form of life after death, figures that are, given a +/- 3% sampling error, virtually identical with a similar poll taken in 1948, this despite the recent rash of supposed empirical evidence ("near-death experiences", etc.) held up as warrant for such belief.
My impression is that polls of church members have showed about the same, that a lot of them do not believe in an afterlife; but I do not care enough to search for a link. However my opinion is that a significant fraction of Americans today, including church members, are less traditionally orthodox than were the Deists. And about those who call themselves Deists today I know nothing at all, except for the personal views set forth by Jesse. These seem to fit well enough into the Deist tradition.

[ February 25, 2007, 08:11 PM: Message edited by: hobsen ]
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
My confusion was over this part:
quote:
So men of conscience often refused to join a church and got called Deists. Today they would simply be called Christians, as the word is now used loosely to refer to anyone taking his chief source of religious inspiration from the life or teachings of Jesus
You seemed to be saying that early deists were not self-identifying (that the label was applied by Christians) and that they simply rejected rigid doctrine structures while still agreeing with the basic Christian doctrine.

I'd always understood Deism to be a self-identification that explicitly rejected Christianity and all other revealed religions as entirely man-made institutions.

If the Christians were falsely calling less orthodox Christians deists, I don't think that's very informative as to what deism actually means. Some Christians have used the terms atheist and pagan interchangeably, though that doesn't tell us much about atheists or pagans.

quote:
And about those who call themselves Deists today I know nothing at all
I think this explains some of the confusion. Most of my knowledge of deism comes from modern deists, though they do like to talk about the deism of some of the founding fathers, which sounds very much like the modern version. I suppose there could be a little projection going on too. [Smile]
 
Posted by DonaldD (Member # 1052) on :
 
Some wikistory on Deism
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
Going back to the persecution/discrimination against atheists...

Part of the problem here has to do with the a subtle question of what is meant by the term atheism/atheist.

Do we mean something which is actively opposed to "theism," or do we mean something which simply refuses to acknowledge the validity of "theism." Is the atheist working against theism or simply refusing to work for theism?

It's a subtle distinction, and I think that in reality this line is almost always blurred, but I think that it's an important distinction.

Another problem has to do with our definition of "theism." Does theism refer to anything relating to the abstract concept of "God," or does it refer to articulated systems of thought regarding "God?"

For me, "theism/atheism" in modern western usage usually seems concerned with the existence of an anthropocentric deity. Thus, it seems that within the typical scope of these terms, schools of thought such as upanishadic hinduism or certain strands of buddhism can be thought of as simultaneously atheistic and pantheistic.

I'm an atheist in the sense that I do not acknowledge the existence or reality of an anthropocentric deity (this specialized distinction is necessary for me to countenance the label, since my personal philosophy is also characterized by something similar to pantheism). I would not assert the impossibility of an anthropocentric deity, but I would assert that such a postulation has no more significant warrant than does the postulation of any other imagined entity (no more valid warrant than flying spaghetti monsters, for example).

I wonder how many people would be amenable to this definition of atheist: "One who does not acknowledge the existence or reality of an anthropocentric deity."
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
Do we mean something which is actively opposed to "theism," or do we mean something which simply refuses to acknowledge the validity of "theism." Is the atheist working against theism or simply refusing to work for theism?

It's a subtle distinction, and I think that in reality this line is almost always blurred, but I think that it's an important distinction.

I don't think the line is any more blurred than if you were to swap the terms "theist" and "atheist" above. There evangelical as well as passive people in both groups.

quote:
I wonder how many people would be amenable to this definition of atheist: "One who does not acknowledge the existence or reality of an anthropocentric deity."
I think the "anthropocentric deity" portion is too limiting. Atheists do not acknowledge the existence of any supernatural entity. The only "flavors" of atheism that I recognize are those that state that there is no god and those that state that they don't believe in any god. Perhaps the evangelicals are more likely to be in the first group. I couldn't really say.

If your personal philosophy includes elements of pantheism, then you are more accurately described as a pantheist than an atheist. If pantheist doesn't quite match your personal philosophy, then you're probably just a "none of the above" the same way so many of us are independent instead of republican, democrat, or libertarian.

[ February 25, 2007, 11:59 PM: Message edited by: MattP ]
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
quote:
I think the "anthropocentric deity" portion is too limiting.
It certainly is limiting.
quote:
Atheists do not acknowledge the existence of any supernatural entity.
Hmmm. I think that the concept of supernaturalism is highly relevant, but I don't think that supernaturalism is necessarily more relevant than anthropocentrism. I think that both represent practical connotations to the words "theism" and "atheism."

In other words: surely there are theists who believe in a God who is naturalistic, and atheists who believe in supernatural phenomena. The terms don't seem to necessarily qualify supernaturalism any more than they necessarily qualify anthropocentrism.

But I think that both belief regarding the supernatural and the anthropocentric characteristics of a hypothetical god-entity are highly relevant to the way we use the terms.

As for my personal philosophy, I would surely personally claim that I belong in the "none of the above" category. But I know from personal experience that there are many individuals who think that the label "atheist" applies.
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
By the way Matt, I also personally reject supernaturalism--but that's another long discussion over what "supernaturalism" means.
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
Oh, and I ought to say that I kind of agree with this statement:
quote:
I don't think the line is any more blurred than if you were to swap the terms "theist" and "atheist" above.
I'll get more into the reason I only kind of agree with this statement after we hear some theists opine on my qualified definition of atheism, but as a preview, it has to do with who is positing a locus of moral authority.
 
Posted by KnightEnder (Member # 992) on :
 
I'd like to join the conversation if you could speak English and come down out of the stratoshphere.

KE

[ February 26, 2007, 02:34 AM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
Sorry KE. [Smile]

Here's a loose translation of what I'm saying:
quote:
Do we mean something which is actively opposed to "theism," or do we mean something which simply refuses to acknowledge the validity of "theism." Is the atheist working against theism or simply refusing to work for theism?
There's a difference between being saying "I believe that God does not exist" and saying "I don't believe that God does exist." Which one is atheism?
quote:
Another problem has to do with our definition of "theism." Does theism refer to anything relating to the abstract concept of "God," or does it refer to articulated systems of thought regarding "God?"
What do we mean when we say theism? Do we mean anything that uses the idea of "God"--such as someone who says that "God is love, and love is God," or are we talking about comprehensive systems that define the relationship between a specific idea of God and human beings.
quote:
For me, "theism/atheism" in modern western usage usually seems concerned with the existence of an anthropocentric deity.
It seems to me that these terms are usually used in the context of a specific type of ideas about what is meant by the word "God." The "God" referred to seems to be an entity that has a special relationship with human beings, a being that is especially concerned with human activity and morality.

In other words--it seems to me that in the way atheism/theism is generally used, an impersonal force (or system of forces), impartial to human activitiy, experience and morality would not be considered "God."

I think that theism/atheism are usually used to refer to belief/disbelief in an anthropocentric being--an entity who regards human beings as having a central or special meaning. (Remember that this is a loose translation--but this is the basic idea of anthropocentrism--that human beings are somehow central or special).

Thus someone who claimed that God was gravitational or electromagnetic force would not be a theist as the term is traditionally used.

[ February 26, 2007, 03:30 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
Most of the rest of the bombast is just me quibbling with Matt over whether anthropocentrism or supernaturalism is more relevant. The way we usually use the terms, is it more important for "theism" that "God" be an entity especially concerned with human beings/values/experience, or an entity with the ability to defy natural laws?

Let me know if this wasn't helpful, or if something else needs further translation.

(By the way, I don't use heady terminology just to be an ass****. I feel that the proper terms convey meaning more accurately. The ideas lose important nuances in translation.)
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
I always thought that theism was about having creator(s).

I would say, Simply, that atheism is believing that humanity is at the top of the intellectual food chain.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
"There's a difference between being saying "I believe that God does not exist" and saying "I don't believe that God does exist."

All of which only matters if we believe we can believe god into or out of existence, which makes deity a decidedly anthropocentric critter.
 
Posted by KnightEnder (Member # 992) on :
 
Sorry, I was tired, it was late. Thanks.

KE
 
Posted by hobsen (Member # 2923) on :
 
Believing humanity is at the top of the intellectual food chain seems to me unsupported. This is a big universe, and there may be creatures in it intellectually superior to humans. That does not mean these would have to be gods or God. But saying there is no proof at present of the existence of beings intellectually superior to humans is possible, even if it annoys the UFO crowd. Probably I should say that myself.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
Has anyone given a dolfin an IQ test?
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
The way we usually use the terms, is it more important for "theism" that "God" be an entity especially concerned with human beings/values/experience, or an entity with the ability to defy natural laws?
I agree that the way we usually use the terms, that theism and atheism refers to God with a big 'G' rather than just supernaturality, but I think that's just because of the actors involved. Most supernaturalists in the western world are theists with an anthropomorphic (anthropogenic?) concept of God (big 'G' again). Most atheists' exposure to supernaturalism and theism is with this type of person, therefore it is often the case that Jehovah is the God that atheists don't believe in, though I don't think there are many self-identified atheists that consider their rejection if that god to be a complete explanation of their position.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
Has anyone given a dolfin an IQ test?

No, but...
quote:
Dolphins may have big brains, but a South African-based scientist says laboratory rats and even goldfish can outwit them.
Dolphins are not as clever as previously thought

Paul Manger of Johannesburg's University of the Witwatersrand says the super-sized brains of dolphins are a function of being warm-blooded in a cold water environment and not a sign of intelligence.

"We equate our big brain with intelligence. Over the years we have looked at these kinds of things and said the dolphins must be intelligent," he said.

"The real flaw in this logic is that it suggests all brains are built the same... When you look at the structure of the dolphin brain, you see it is not built for complex information processing," he said.

quote:
Brains, he says, are made of neurons and glia. The latter create the environment for the neurons to work properly and producing heat is one of glia's functions.

"Dolphins have a superabundance of glia and very few neurons... The dolphin's brain is not made for information processing it is designed to counter the thermal challenges of being a mammal in water," Manger said.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/archive/archive?ArchiveId=35229

Yeah, Al Jazeera. Weird, but I didn't feel like looking for another source.

[ February 26, 2007, 05:03 PM: Message edited by: MattP ]
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
quote:
I always thought that theism was about having creator(s).

I would say, Simply, that atheism is believing that humanity is at the top of the intellectual food chain.

I'd agree that the theme of creator/creationism is highly relevant to uses of atheism/theism, but I don't think that atheism is specifically about the human position in the intellectual hierarchy.

This seems to be a decidedly side-issue in my understanding of "atheism" as it is commonly used. Hobsen brings up an excellent point in extraterrestrials. I think that it would be a very uncommon usage (to say the least) to call someone who does not believe in a deity but does believe in intelligent alien life forms a "theist."
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
I wasn't referring to brain size, but to their manifest behavior, their complex language, etc. And I thought that intelligence had more to do with the number of connections between neurons than the #neurons itself.

quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
Has anyone given a dolfin an IQ test?

No, but...
quote:
Dolphins may have big brains, but a South African-based scientist says laboratory rats and even goldfish can outwit them.
Dolphins are not as clever as previously thought

Paul Manger of Johannesburg's University of the Witwatersrand says the super-sized brains of dolphins are a function of being warm-blooded in a cold water environment and not a sign of intelligence.

"We equate our big brain with intelligence. Over the years we have looked at these kinds of things and said the dolphins must be intelligent," he said.

"The real flaw in this logic is that it suggests all brains are built the same... When you look at the structure of the dolphin brain, you see it is not built for complex information processing," he said.

quote:
Brains, he says, are made of neurons and glia. The latter create the environment for the neurons to work properly and producing heat is one of glia's functions.

"Dolphins have a superabundance of glia and very few neurons... The dolphin's brain is not made for information processing it is designed to counter the thermal challenges of being a mammal in water," Manger said.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/archive/archive?ArchiveId=35229

Yeah, Al Jazeera. Weird, but I didn't feel like looking for another source.


 
Posted by hobsen (Member # 2923) on :
 
Pete is probably right. Even Loren Eiseley once fell into the trap of saying an alien being with a one hundred cubic centimeter brain would be less intelligent than an ape. That is true if the alien being had a brain similar otherwise to a human brain; but if it was organized differently, who knows? The same holds true here; dolphins may devote less of their brains to thinking, but that is no proof they are inferior.

Just the same, this is a wonderful article. To my knowledge, nobody has pointed out that dolphin brains are large primarily to keep warm before. Regardless of dolphin intelligence, that observation sounds very, very plausible.

[ February 26, 2007, 06:29 PM: Message edited by: hobsen ]
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by seekingprometheus:

This seems to be a decidedly side-issue in my understanding of "atheism" as it is commonly used. Hobsen brings up an excellent point in extraterrestrials. I think that it would be a very uncommon usage (to say the least) to call someone who does not believe in a deity but does believe in intelligent alien life forms a "theist."

And yet, the people who considered aliens to be our creators have a decidedly religious, or theist, flavor. The Heaven's Gate Cult, and several much less extreme groups, are examples of this.

The Raelians are another prime example.

I would call both those groups theists based on their rituals, experiences, and other factors.

Could you rightly call these guys atheists?

Cuz we don't want them in our club.
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
And I boycotted Tuna for nothing.

Please pass the dolphin.
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
quote:
And I boycotted Tuna for nothing.

Please pass the dolphin.

[LOL]

[ February 27, 2007, 12:13 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
quote:
And yet, the people who considered aliens to be our creators have a decidedly religious, or theist, flavor. The Heaven's Gate Cult, and several much less extreme groups, are examples of this.
I'd agree that people who posit aliens as the "creators" of humans are certainly seeing aliens through a theistic lens.

But I think that there are many individuals who believe in intelligent aliens who are not theistic. Essentially, I'm just trying to get at the question of what we mean by the term in common usage. I don't think that the term is usually used in a sense that necessarily posits humans as the most intelligent beings in the universe.

(Not to say that my definition covers all uses--but I do think that the common usage of atheism/theism generally refers to belief in an anthropocentric deity.)
 
Posted by hobsen (Member # 2923) on :
 
Your argument makes sense to me, seekingprometheus. We are talking about the usage of an English word from the perspective of the Ornery forum, which is dominated by North Americans. Were the Greeks and Romans atheists or theists? Well, they were certainly not atheists, for they believed in many gods. But they may not have believed in a God, as that word is used on Ornery today. Similarly experts have disagreed on whether Buddhists and Hindus believe in God, and in doing so I think they are implying a meaning of the word theism reflecting a strongly Western bias. The fact all traditions have had inviduals who conceived of a single ultimate power in the universe is something which few English speakers either know or care about; they think of theism in terms of the deity most familiar to them.
 
Posted by KnightEnder (Member # 992) on :
 
Pete, scientists think that Whales will be the first beings contacted if aliens ever show up because they have the most complexed communication. Dolphins second. But we all know that white mice run the Earth. [Smile]

To me all being an atheist means is I don't "believe" a supreme being exists. I don't "believe" one doesn't exist either. I don't know. However I see no evidence that one does so I operate on that basis. To some people that makes me an agnostic, to some an atheist , and here in Texas it makes me a Devil-worshipper.

KE
 
Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
Great reference, KE, I love that book!
At least know that here is one Texan who doesn't believe you're a devil-worshipper!(And a Catholic too!)
 
Posted by Omega M. (Member # 1392) on :
 
Regarding Richard Dawkins's "religion is child abuse" idea, I agree that it's too much to call raising a child in a certain religion child abuse. (All bad parenting is not child abuse.) Still, it would make sense for parents to tell their kids at a certain age that there are other religions out there, and that they believe in a certain religion for these reasons but that the kids are free to believe what they want to. Probably it could happen a little after the kids are told that there is no Santa Claus.

It may be that a kid who isn't brought up with any religion or religion-like commitments will never be able to commit him- or herself to something, because he or she hasn't acquired the necessary habits.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
<i>And yet, the people who considered aliens to be our creators have a decidedly religious, or theist, flavor. The Heaven's Gate Cult</i>

I'm sorry, but beam me up scotty is not my idea of a decidedly religious flavor.
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
To end 'my side thread' it isn't intelligence that I really meant, but more of a hierarchy of importance. That someone or some thing is above us morally or spiritually. theist clearly is used more narrowly than that, but I think it is a working definition of "not atheist"
 
Posted by Jesse (Member # 1860) on :
 
quote:
The italicized portion certainly does rebutt what I said about atheism, and I'd not have said it if I'd heard that before. Although it does beg the question of, if the message is clear, then explain the French Revolution, or the fact that the rationalists that gave us the US revolution kept slavery in place ...
We're all still growing up Pete, religious or not. We make mistakes. In all fairness, however, it wasn't rationalists that turned the French Revolution into the horror that it was.

----

I'm in a hurry, but in regard to the clockwork universe, this is simplified shorthand for the idea that the Divine doesn't make and unmake the Laws of Nature. It's not "predermination". It's important, to me, to make that clear.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
I'm sorry, but beam me up scotty is not my idea of a decidedly religious flavor.
No, but people that commit mass suicide because they believe some non-corporeal form of themselves is going to be taken away on space ships is closer to a religious flavor than an atheistic one. They've just substituted little green men for gods. Heck, even the Scientologists base their beliefs on aliens.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
Perhaps if they'd named it Kolob's Gate?
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
I'm sorry, but beam me up scotty is not my idea of a decidedly religious flavor.
No, but people that commit mass suicide because they believe some non-corporeal form of themselves is going to be taken away on space ships is closer to a religious flavor than an atheistic one. They've just substituted little green men for gods. Heck, even the Scientologists base their beliefs on aliens.
Well, you're entitled your own wrong opinion, [Razz] but that's clearly an atheistic flavor. And the Scientologists are atheists too. Don't assume that atheism has no overlap with religion. There are Buddhist atheists, even a handful of Muslim atheists.

[ February 27, 2007, 01:14 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kenmeer livermaile:
Perhaps if they'd named it Kolob's Gate?

Oh please. As if Atheists are never derivative.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
Atheism excludes theism. It does not exclude religion. Most atheists are not religious, and most religious persons are not atheists, but there is some overlap.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
From the Heaven's Gate training materials:
quote:
Two thousand years ago, a crew of members of the Kingdom of Heaven who are responsible for nurturing "gardens," determined that a percentage of the human "plants" of the present civilization of this Garden (Earth) had developed enough that some of those bodies might be ready to be used as "containers" for soul deposits. Upon instruction, a member of the Kingdom of Heaven then left behind His body in that Next Level (similar to putting it in a closet, like a suit of clothes that doesn't need to be worn for awhile), came to Earth, and moved into (or incarnated into), an adult human body (or "vehicle") that had been "prepped" for this particular task. The body that was chosen was called Jesus. The member of the Kingdom of Heaven who was instructed to incarnate into that body did so at His "Father's" (or Older Member's) instruction. He "moved into" (or took over) that body when it was 29 or 30 years old, at the time referred to as its baptism by John the Baptist (the incarnating event was depicted as "...the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove" - Luke 3:22). [That body (named Jesus) was tagged in its formative period to be the receptacle of a Next Level Representative, and even just that "tagging" gave that "vehicle" some unique awareness of its coming purpose.]

The sole task that was given to this member from the Kingdom of Heaven was to offer the way leading to membership into the Kingdom of Heaven to those who recognized Him for who He was and chose to follow Him. "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" meant - 'since I am here, and I am from that Kingdom, if you leave everything of this world and follow me, I can take you into my Father's Kingdom.' Only those individuals who had received a "deposit" containing a soul's beginning had the capacity to believe or recognize the Kingdom of Heaven's Representative. They could get to His Father only through total reliance upon Him. He later sent His students out with the "Good news of the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand," and His followers could then help gather the "flock" so that the "Shepherd" might teach others what was required of them to enter His Father's House - His Father's Kingdom - the Kingdom of Heaven - in the literal and physical Heavens - certainly not among humans on Earth. Leaving behind this world included: family, sensuality, selfish desires, your human mind, and even your human body if it be required of you - all mammalian ways, thinking, and behavior. Since He had been through this metamorphic transition Himself from human to Level Above Human - under the guidance of His Father - He was qualified to take others through that same discipline and transition. Remember, the One who incarnated in Jesus was sent for one purpose only, to say, 'If you want to go to Heaven, I can take you through that gate - it requires everything of you.'

http://www.press1.com/current/hgate/mirror/book/03.htm

I had no idea that they had inserted themselves into Christian theology like this. Really interesting/weird stuff. When I said they had substituted little green men for God, I was speaking metaphorically, but lo-and-behold that was the actual basis of their entire theology. Jesus really was an alien according to these people.

[ February 27, 2007, 01:58 PM: Message edited by: MattP ]
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
quote:

Well, you're entitled your own wrong opinion, but that's clearly an atheistic flavor. And the Scientologists are atheists too.

This is actually why Dawkins prefers the term "rationalist," to differentiate people who believe in the supernatural but no god from people who have no belief in the supernatural.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:

Well, you're entitled your own wrong opinion, but that's clearly an atheistic flavor. And the Scientologists are atheists too.

This is actually why Dawkins prefers the term "rationalist," to differentiate people who believe in the supernatural but no god from people who have no belief in the supernatural.
Of course he would. But does he define what "supernatural" means? And does he explain when "rationalist" came to mean someone that denies the "supernatural"? [LOL]
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
Really interesting/weird stuff. When I said they had substituted little green men for God, I was speaking metaphorically, but lo-and-behold that was the actual basis of their entire theology. Jesus really was an alien according to these people.

So? If they could prove it, scientifically, to your satisfaction, would you still deny that they were atheists? Or would you want a ride on their space ship? [Wink]
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
My point is that these labels that we're all tossing around, i.e. religious v. non-religious, atheistic, and so on, are fairly arbitrary and politically driven. This is all about star-belly sneeches, and Dawkins' use of pseudorational terms to let folks that want to feel better than others say "we are rational, you are not;" etc.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
I'm pretty sure he does define "rational" in one of his books somewhere.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
So?
So, I thought it was interesting.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
My point is that these labels that we're all tossing around, i.e. religious v. non-religious, atheistic, and so on, are fairly arbitrary and politically driven.
It does suck when the only words available to describe something succinctly are not entirely descriptive, but we work with what we got.
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
This is actually why Dawkins prefers the term "rationalist," to differentiate people who believe in the supernatural but no god from people who have no belief in the supernatural.

Rene Descartes would challenge that definition, no doubt. [Smile]
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
"Oh please. As if Atheists are never derivative."

I have no idea how that segues, but go for it.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
"And does he explain when "rationalist" came to mean someone that denies the "supernatural"?"

Can't say for sure, but I;d venture that the exp[lanation involved the ability to measure the natural and the consistently proven inability to measure the supernatural.

"Captain, their prayers measure warp 5 on the wish-fulfllment scale."

'Damn! At that rate, they'll doubt us out of existence in less than an hour! Scotty! More power!'
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kenmeer livermaile:
"Oh please. As if Atheists are never derivative."

I have no idea how that segues, but go for it.

Atheist groups borrow terms and concepts from religion without giving credit, as much as different religions borrow from each other without giving credit.

(Borrowing is good, mind you; I just think we should give credit where credit is due).

If supernatural means something that exceeds the bounds of known science, then the Big Bang posits a supernatural event.
 
Posted by hobsen (Member # 2923) on :
 
Thanks for the quoted beliefs of the Heaven's Gate cult, MattP. They clearly arose as an offshoot of Christianity. And they believed in a life after death.

The extract says nothing about whether members were theists. It says neither Jesus nor the Father to whom he referred were God, and paints them as more like pagan gods perhaps, but it says nothing about the origin of the universe or any possible supreme power above them.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
quote:
If supernatural means something that exceeds the bounds of known science, then the Big Bang posits a supernatural event.
It doesn't. I believe things which are considered "non-rational" are defined in general as non-reproducible, non-derivable, non-predictive, and/or non-observable.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
"Atheist groups borrow terms and concepts from religion without giving credit, as much as different religions borrow from each other without giving credit."

I know. How does that fit into:

"a) I'm sorry, but beam me up scotty is not my idea of a decidedly religious flavor.

b) Perhaps if they'd named it Kolob's Gate?"

As if Heaven's Gate weren't already derivative, and is if derivativity were the issue here rather than interpretation: atheists and theists interpret the riddle of reality with very different models.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
If supernatural means something that exceeds the bounds of known science, then the Big Bang posits a supernatural event.
"Big Bang" is a term of convenience used to describe what we do know about the creation of the universe. The term "Big Bang", incidentally was coined by Frank Hoyle, advocate of the Steady State theory, when he derisively referred to this competing theory as "this big bang idea." (There's some of that borrowing, for ya)

In the areas where the bounds of known science are exceeded, we have the null hypothesis, not supernaturalism.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
'derivativity'

fun to say. groovy.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
If supernatural means something that exceeds the bounds of known science, then the Big Bang posits a supernatural event.
"Big Bang" is a term of convenience used to describe what we do know about the creation of the universe. The term "Big Bang", incidentally was coined by Frank Hoyle, advocate of the Steady State theory, when he derisively referred to this competing theory as "this big bang idea." (There's some of that borrowing, for ya)

In the areas where the bounds of known science are exceeded, we have the null hypothesis, not supernaturalism.

[Big Grin]

Tomato, To-mah-to. Look, every little group has some sort of protective semantic device to say that it's OK when we do X but not when others do it. It's still starbelly sneeching to use those little devices to label one's own group "rational" and other groups "irrational."

It's also not a very rational use of time.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by hobsen:
Thanks for the quoted beliefs of the Heaven's Gate cult, MattP. They clearly arose as an offshoot of Christianity.

No. There's nothing there to suggest a belief that Jesus Christ paid for their sins. That's been the core Christian belief for 2000 years.

Claiming Jesus on some other basis -- hell, there are plenty of nonChristian groups that do that -- some Buddhists, Hindus, even some Jews, claim Jesus as some kind of important teacher. Even a number of Atheists claim Jesus as one of their own.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by KnightEnder:
Pete, scientists think that Whales will be the first beings contacted if aliens ever show up because they have the most complexed communication. Dolphins second. But we all know that white mice run the Earth. [Smile]

Douglass is great. Did you see the recent Disney movie of HGG? My kids loved it.

quote:
To me all being an atheist means is I don't "believe" a supreme being exists. I don't "believe" one doesn't exist either. I don't know. However I see no evidence that one does so I operate on that basis.
Given what you know, I think that's a reasonable belief.

But what Dawkins would have us believe is that it's the *only* reasonable belief, and that individuals who consider personal rather than emperical evidence are irrational.

quote:
To some people that makes me an agnostic, to some an atheist, and here in Texas it makes me a Devil-worshipper.
You don't need the average Texan's approval to be a good person, and I don't need Mr. Dawkins' approval to be rational.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
Tomato, To-mah-to. Look, every little group has some sort of protective semantic device to say that it's OK when we do X but not when others do it. It's still starbelly sneeching to use those little devices to label one's own group "rational" and other groups "irrational."
I don't understand what you are referring to here. The point I was making was that science is OK with "I don't know" when it doesn't know. There a number of observed phenomena that support the theory of a dramatic, explosive event at the beginning of the universe. We call that postulated event the "Big Bang" because it's a succinct label for this extrapolation of observable data.

What is the "protective semantic device" that you are referring to?
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
If one defines "supernatural" as "something that exceeds the bounds of known science," but then, to protect his own beliefs, adds a caveat "except if it's a null hypothesis," then that's a protective semantic device.

Another example of protective semantics would be statists that define terrorism as "attacks on a civillian population in violation of humanitarian norms, for PR purposes, EXCEPT when committed by a legitimate state government."

Or nihilists that define terrorism as "attacks on a civillian population in violation of humanitarian norms, for PR purposes, EXCEPT when committed by 'freedom fighters.'"

I'm fine with the Big Bang. My point here is that Dawkins is gerrymandering terms in order to play starbelly sneetches.
 
Posted by KnightEnder (Member # 992) on :
 
Thanks Carlotta. [Smile]


I don't think that an atheist can be religious.

atheist one who believes that there is no deity

religious 1 : relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity <a religious person> <religious attitudes>
2 : of, relating to, or devoted to religious beliefs or observances <joined a religious order>
3 a : scrupulously and conscientiously faithful b : FERVENT, ZEALOUS

I guess by that definition that I'm not an atheist. I don't believe anything! Ain't that a kick in the head? [Wink]

KE
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
If one defines "supernatural" as "something that exceeds the bounds of known science,"
If one defined it that way then anything you cannot presently answer becomes supernatural. I don't think that's a very useful definition.

I've always understood supernatural to refer to events unexplainable by science, rather than events that have just not yet been explained. It's a substantially different conclusion than "I don't know."

[ February 27, 2007, 03:58 PM: Message edited by: MattP ]
 
Posted by Everard (Member # 104) on :
 
"If supernatural means something that exceeds the bounds of known science, then the Big Bang posits a supernatural event."

No it doesn't. It posits an event for which there is evidence, and it posits an event which makes predictions that have been verified by observation, and that is falsifiable. I'm not sure how one could say that the big bang is something that exceeds the bounds of known science unless one irrationally restricts what science is in order to score points with the ignorant.

[ February 27, 2007, 04:00 PM: Message edited by: Everard ]
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
I'm not sure how one could say that the big bang is something that exceeds the bounds of known science unless one irrationally restricts what science is in order to score points with the ignorant.
I'm guessing that Pete was thinking about that first itsy-bitsy chunk of time where physics as we understand it breaks down and where concepts like "before" start to lose meaning. That in that area of "I don't know" lies the supernaturality that science is unwilling to acknowledge.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
What precedes the Big Bang is a matter of conjecture that is as open to raw religious wondering as well as extrapolation from the last known scientific principles (when last we saw our heroes, they had traveled back int time through the Big Bang).

Technically, I suppose before the big bang would be best called ante-natural, since the laws of nature effectively vanish into unkowability at that point just before they are believed (with considerable evidentiary justification) to have commenced.

Wha the BIg Bang does (that is, DID) is subject to the laws of science. Why it did what it did is wide open. Todays prevailing religions already have some established opinions on the matter. Todays prevailing cosmological physicists are mostly forming theirs even as we speak, using coy concepts like "negative vacuum".
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
quote:
If one defines "supernatural" as "something that exceeds the bounds of known science," but then, to protect his own beliefs, adds a caveat "except if it's a null hypothesis..."
No one has defined "supernatural" as "something that exceeds the bounds of known science" here except YOU. In fact, I quite specifically said that this was not how it was generally defined.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
"In fact, I quite specifically said that this was not how it was generally defined."

Except when trying to say that one is better than religious people.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
I'm not sure how one could say that the big bang is something that exceeds the bounds of known science unless one irrationally restricts what science is in order to score points with the ignorant.
I'm guessing that Pete was thinking about that first itsy-bitsy chunk of time where physics as we understand it breaks down and where concepts like "before" start to lose meaning. That in that area of "I don't know" lies the supernaturality that science is unwilling to acknowledge.
Bravo, Matt.

Ev, I don't see what's so "irrational" about constricting science to deal with the universe that we can actually perceive and measure in some reproducible way.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
I was googling for pix of my most recent Hot Babe of Science, Maty Neu (well, I was) and found this quote by Marie Curie, as babaliciously hot a form of rhetoric to read as her heavenly person is to view:

"It is human nature to believe that the phenomena we know are the only ones that exist, and whenever some chance discovery extends the limits of our knowledge, we are filled with amazement," Marie Curie wrote when she pondered the lack of knowledge about radioactivity in Century Magazine, January 1904. "We cannot become accustomed to the idea that we live in a world that is revealed to us only in a restricted portion of its manifestations; how numerous and varied may be the phenomena which we pass without a suspicion of their existence until the day when a fortunate hazard reveals them."

Here's Mary.
 
Posted by hobsen (Member # 2923) on :
 
Pete at Home wrote,
quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by hobsen:
Thanks for the quoted beliefs of the Heaven's Gate cult, MattP. They clearly arose as an offshoot of Christianity.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

No. There's nothing there to suggest a belief that Jesus Christ paid for their sins. That's been the core Christian belief for 2000 years.

While anyone is free to make his own assessment of what is a core Christian belief, the doctrine of the atonement has certainly not been universal among sects arising from Christianity. The Quaker historian Howard Brinton remarked that teaching was only introduced into the Society of Friends as a borrowed Puritan doctrine in the 19th century. As he put it, early Quakers "found cleansing from the working of the Light, and saw no need for the Blood." And saying the Society of Friends did not arise from Christianity is as ludicrous as claiming the same about Mormons. Perhaps Mormons reject what most Christians regard as core Christian beliefs, like affirming the Nicene Creed; but the LDS Church clearly originated as an offshoot of Christianity.

Without going beyond my knowledge either in history or theology, the Heaven's Gate cult said it was Jesus who had first taught their doctrines, not the Buddha or Mohammed. The members of the cult had been raised in a largely Christian society. Perhaps they reinterpreted many traditional Christian teachings, but they certainly found their inspiration in Christianity and not elsewhere. This differs from Hindus or Buddhists who may accept Jesus as a holy man as recognized by their traditions.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
In addition to whgat Hobsen says, I note that REAL Xtians are really Jews. REAL Jews, that is.
 
Posted by KnightEnder (Member # 992) on :
 
I'm positive the "negative vacuum" theory is correct. [Smile]

KE
 
Posted by KnightEnder (Member # 992) on :
 
Seriously, the areas of existence beyond our comphrehension or ability to detect 'might be' the spiritual plain that religion claims exists. But it's their claim that they "know" that it exists even though none of us can percieve it in any way is what is so infuriating. Talk about claiming that your are superior to others!

KE
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
"The Quaker historian Howard Brinton remarked that teaching was only introduced into the Society of Friends as a borrowed Puritan doctrine in the 19th century. As he put it, early Quakers "found cleansing from the working of the Light, and saw no need for the Blood."

In any event, modern Quakers accept the atonement. You've presented one historian's opinion, and the "light" wording is ambiguous. Did the light doctrine actually deny that salvation from sin occurred through Jesus?

Nicene Creed's not even in the Bible. While anyone is free to make his own assessment of what is a core Christian belief, I think that a confessed non-Christian's definition can be safely disgregarded, especially when the proposed redefinition would turn Christianity into a convenient garbage dump for suicidal cults.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
quote:

Except when trying to say that one is better than religious people.

I believe Dawkins has asserted that he is more rational than religious people. I'm surprised that religious people would be offended by this, as their epistemology is not reliant on rationalism.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
While anyone is free to make his own assessment of what is a core Christian belief, I think that a confessed non-Christian's definition can be safely disgregarded
You do realize that rejecting the definition of a term based on the fact that the definer of the term believes it does not describe him may result in the use of a definition that does describe him, thus removing said justification for rejecting his definition. [Cool]
 
Posted by hobsen (Member # 2923) on :
 
MattP, I refuse to try to follow that logic. But it is amusing.

Howard Brinton published the classic Quaker history Friends for 300 Years in 1952. That discussed among other things the largest division among Friends, which occurred after the revivals of the 1800s caused Quakers in the Middle West to adopt both a paid clergy and evangelical Christian beliefs. Quakers in England and New England did not change, and Pennsylvania Quakers divided about equally. Both groups remain part of the Society of Friends; and the former typically reject the doctrine of the atonement, which they consider to be as untrue to Quaker tradition as a reliance on paid clergy. But this hardly matters, as Quakers make up a very small proportion of Christians.

More to the point, the belief among Christians that Jesus Christ paid for their sins is true for Mormons and most Protestants; but it has never been characteristic of the Roman Catholics and Orthodox who make up the largest number of Christians. These have different theories of the atonement, of which there are at least half a dozen. Wikipedia discusses these in detail:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atonement

Asserting that a doctrine held by only a minority of Christians even today has been at the core of Christianity for 2000 years appears a misreading of history. And the majority of Christians would probably assert that acceptance of the Nicene Creed is essential for Christian orthodoxy. But whether a group has orthodox beliefs has nothing to do with whether it has descended from Christianity, as did Heaven's Gate.

[ February 28, 2007, 01:11 AM: Message edited by: hobsen ]
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
While anyone is free to make his own assessment of what is a core Christian belief, I think that a confessed non-Christian's definition can be safely disgregarded
You do realize that rejecting the definition of a term based on the fact that the definer of the term believes it does not describe him may result in the use of a definition that does describe him, thus removing said justification for rejecting his definition. [Cool]
Not an issue under this set of facts,
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
The linked Catholic view that you cite is a version of the atonement, i.e. that Jesus paid the price of sin (albeit to the Catholics Original Sin) enabling people to be saved. You'd have to show me the precise Quaker views to persuade me that they don't fit within a broad understanding of the atonement.

Ah, I did find this:

quote:
The leading to lay down all sense of authoritative theology (notions thereof) results in broad tolerance within the Society for earnest expressions of "the light within", even if that light rejects theism itself. Many Quakers are particularly disinclined to argue about such things. Among people who consider themselves to be Friends will be found people who also consider themselves to be fundamentalist Christian, universalist, Jewish, Buddhist. There are also nontheists among Quakers, and others who may pointedly reject all such labeling.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaker

Sounds like a Quaker may or may not be a Christian, depending on where they believe that the light has led them. The article makes it sound like some modern Quakers themselves reject the "Christian" classification.
 
Posted by KnightEnder (Member # 992) on :
 
I think since the Bible was printed into English I'm pretty capable of defining what the book says is a Christian. Now how other people might not interprete the book literally but I can still define what it means to be a Christian. The fact that our two understandings of what it means to be a Christian might still be different just goes to show you how subjective and open to interpretation the Book is. Like looking at a cloud and seeing ships or dolphins.

KE

[ February 28, 2007, 02:40 AM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
"I think since the Bible was printed into English I'm pretty capable of defining what the book says is a Christian."

Sure, that's a valid methodology. By bible standards, would you say that Heaven's Gate is a "Christian" religion?
 
Posted by Everard (Member # 104) on :
 
"I'm guessing that Pete was thinking about that first itsy-bitsy chunk of time where physics as we understand it breaks down and where concepts like "before" start to lose meaning. That in that area of "I don't know" lies the supernaturality that science is unwilling to acknowledge."

He seems to have confirmed that this is the peice of big bang theory that he is talking about, but what happened at that very instant is not big bang theory. What caused the big bang, and what happened, for the first 10^-40 or so seconds of the universe, are not yet understood (although we have some good hypotheses about what caused the big bang). But saying that the big bang is "supernatural" because its not known science, doesn't follow. If you want to say "The mechanism that caused the big bang is not known science," then fine... but the big bang itself is verifiable, falsifiable, and predictive.

By Pete's logic, gravity is also not known science.
 
Posted by Omega M. (Member # 1392) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kenmeer livermaile:

I was googling for pix of my most recent Hot Babe of Science, Mary Neu

Not the most flattering picture. One who I find much more attractive is Tammy Kolda (for the second photo, scroll down about halfway).
 
Posted by caladbolg1125 (Member # 3666) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
The linked Catholic view that you cite is a version of the atonement, i.e. that Jesus paid the price of sin (albeit to the Catholics Original Sin) enabling people to be saved. You'd have to show me the precise Quaker views to persuade me that they don't fit within a broad understanding of the atonement.

Ah, I did find this:

quote:
The leading to lay down all sense of authoritative theology (notions thereof) results in broad tolerance within the Society for earnest expressions of "the light within", even if that light rejects theism itself. Many Quakers are particularly disinclined to argue about such things. Among people who consider themselves to be Friends will be found people who also consider themselves to be fundamentalist Christian, universalist, Jewish, Buddhist. There are also nontheists among Quakers, and others who may pointedly reject all such labeling.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaker

Sounds like a Quaker may or may not be a Christian, depending on where they believe that the light has led them. The article makes it sound like some modern Quakers themselves reject the "Christian" classification.

I suppose. My grandmother is Quaker and I've been to her church a few times in my life. I never saw anything to suggest this though. According to what I saw, Quakers are Christians. They accept Jesus as their savior and whatnot. The key difference and the reason for the derogatory name 'Quaker' (It's actually Society of Friends) is that they felt a direct connection with god and were said to 'quake' in his presence. In a Quaker service, when one feels compelled to speak one stands up and speaks. Its a very respectful proceeding, one person at a time and no interupting. There is a pastor who leads the service nowadays and few church officials. It's a very fascinating aspect of Christianity and they tend to be more open-minded than a lot of other Christians.

If there are any specific questions about the Society of Friends I'll try to answer them.

Wikipedia is not always reliable and a lot of this may just be what one or a few people think and don't necessarilly represent the whole of a group.

[ February 28, 2007, 10:44 AM: Message edited by: caladbolg1125 ]
 
Posted by hobsen (Member # 2923) on :
 
The Society of Friends today is divided into I think 83 Yearly Meetings, sometimes simply geographically and sometimes based on differences in beliefs and practices. The most obvious difference in practice is whether the meetings have pastors, as described by caladbolg1125, or whether they do not. And each Yearly Meeting, and in some cases perhaps each congregation, manages its own affairs, although beliefs and practices are often copied from others. So what caladbolg1125 says is undeniably true, but only for certain groups. And some Christian denominations go even farther in being strictly congregational, with no authority higher than an individual congregation, although these may cooperate in affairs important to the denomination as a whole. In that case every congregation could in theory impose different requirements for belief and membership, so one should not expect consistency.

[ February 28, 2007, 11:27 AM: Message edited by: hobsen ]
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
"They accept Jesus as their savior and whatnot."

That would make them Christian, by any standard that I take seriously. I used the term "atonement," but if that's not the term that they used, I don't see that bit of semantics as a big deal, when the underlying substance is the same.
---------------------
everard: "By Pete's logic, gravity is also not known science."
[LOL]

I'm sorry you're having a hard time understanding my logic, everard. The phenomenon of gravity is observable and measurable. The Big Bang is not. Good hell, man, you've had physics. You should be able to grasp this stuff.

But I'm not surprised that you biffed the reading comprehension part of what I said. I did not say that the Big Bang was not science. I was using the Big Bang to show the idiocy of Dawkins definition of rational.

[ February 28, 2007, 03:53 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
"The phenomenon of gravity is observable and measurable. The Big Bang is not."

Wrong twice. A phenomenon we call gravity is adduced by a precise pairing of mysterious, invisible effect (that still has no known cause) with equations predicting this effect.

Same with the Big Bang. From COBE to red shift to computerized models, the prteponderance of evidence points to a constant expansion from a singular point many billions of years ago.

There are holes in the theory, of course. It is plugged with things like 'dark matter', but then, our understanding of gravity is likewise challenged by this.

"If supernatural means something that exceeds the bounds of known science, then the Big Bang posits a supernatural event."

The universe exceeds the boundaries of known science. My inner murmurings exceed the bounds of known science. Your favorite secret exceeds the bounds of known science.

Placing a sock puppet over these phenomena, giving it a white beard and robe, calling it Yahweh, and beseeching it to save one and reveal the divine mysteries an it please God, that is the form of spuernaturalism that gets Dawkins lather foamy.

As for Dawkins' use of the word delusion: there is ample evidence for persons being deluded regarding God but no evidence of anyone being right about whether or not god even exists. There are no reproducible experiements to date that isolate a divine being as the agent of anything.

But then, there are ample folks deluded regarding the Wonders of Science. Scientism is become as bad in its way as religiosity.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
INcidentally, here's some of the sweetest, most easily understood, extrapolative ruminations of a home-brewed Theory of Everything I've encountered. It's not brief, but its cleanly written for the most part:

ORDER (mind & matter) arose from interactions within disorder giving rise to self-dependent, separated, cybernetic systems, which, in turn, learned to take full advantage of matter's properties after billions of years interacting with each other, to the point they evolved into human brains, for the only purpose of experiencing/perceiving/measuring existence a bit better (from a 4D perspective), so they can continue to improve in their methods to use information to their advantage, as a tool against entropy or disorder. Why? because all thermodynamic systems tend to MOVE towards thermal equilibrium, and in doing so they have to interact forming physical, geometrical, relationships which are preserved in matter and are accessible by this cybernetic systems (including brains), when needed, as they evolve towards thermal efficiency.

Take music for example... it isn't periodic and yet is a great example of order and harmony, whose meaning and beauty can only be perceived as a whole. Like thoughts or ideas, if I try to explain an idea in writing that takes 10 lines and you only read three words you won't get the concept I am try to convey. The idea is an ordered whole which must be perceived as such.

Take a look at waves as an example of order, thanks to wave superposition you may have one simple wave which may be contained as a whole in another more complex wave which may also be contained as a whole in an even more complex wave... to infinite complexity.

Process or activity within hyperspace does not depend on linear time.

Information is created and preserved in matter even thou the medium itself does not move.

The components, the ones generating this information, are all floating_in and interacting_with space, as particles, molecules, galaxies... brains... all of which continuously exchange information as they continuously emit and absorb electromagnetic radiation as spatially separated systems. EMR is the tool which Nature has successfully been using since the beginning of time to overcome space-like intervals between objects in order to evolve as a whole.

And what are inertia and momentum but a resistance to change in the rate of space/information flow?

Mass comes from the tension or 'informational drag' created by a system as it moves within the chaotic medium.

While a particle is moving at a constant speed and all the geometrical parameters are set, it won't experience any inertial forces, but as it accelerates and the relationships CHANGE it needs to keep adjusting to its new energy/space consumption settings. That's why relativistic effects are so real. When accelerated in relation to other particles, length shortens, time slows down and mass grows (space flow tension) within the particle to balance energy usage in momentum space and maintain its dependence and relation to spacetime in accordance to energy/information conservation laws.

People talk about gravitational non-linearities and what are they but radial information flow? As space from hyperspace is converted to spacetime and matter by a self-creative process which is driven by LOGIC and the laws of thermodynamics.

Gravity, momentum and inertia are caused by the tension in information flow created by 'process time'. That's why we only have mass in spacetime... after particles are fully formed.

Mass is a result of 'aether drag', a resistance to change in space flow rate, into and from the particle, as the particle moves thru space/medium, and this is what relates it to angular momentum.

All those who wanted to detect aether drag had to do was take a direct measurement of either gravity, momentum or inertia and that would be the amount of aether drag.

If you immerse in water a bullet shaped object (one foot in diameter) and then accelerate it to supersonic speeds, this projectile will inexplicably pull with a body of water attached to its rear, never allowing the formation of a void as the theory predicts, so they invented 'bow drag' to explain this phenomenon and derive the drag coefficient they were looking for.

It's like Timothy Boyer's piston, if you were to pull it with high acceleration, the force resisting you would be higher than what Newton's second law predicts. Russians have obtained fields of 25 million oersteds generated from the void with a similar method. They used explosives to pull the piston.

This anti-void tension force may easily be what fuels eternal particle spin, tornado spin, and this is its connection to angular momentum.

It's a 100% elastic medium, so motion (or information propagation) *at these level* is instantaneous, this property is what makes possible phenomena like momentum, inertia and even gravity, facilitated by the holographic properties of a 100% elastic medium and the instantaneous information propagation properties of momentum space. This is why there can't be displacement without replacement. This is where this 'anti-void force' comes from, as it is the aether's nature not to allow separation (or tearing of the space fabric) as it needs to maintain its wholeness for stuff like momentum, inertia and non-local (or spacetime independent) communications to be possible.


Mass is equivalent to process...

Mass simply refers to the amount of information processing of all the energetic relationships that exist between matter and space, when a particle is at rest this spatial relationships stay constant and there is no informational lag created space/information flow within the particle, as the particle is accelerated the energetic relations between the particle and space keep changing causing this space/information flow tension we call inertia.

Gravity is caused by the space/information drag caused by its radial flow towards the center of all matter as space/information crystallizes from hyperspace into spacetime, moment to moment, as the Universe's wave function continues to develop forward in time.

Each object that moves (and they all move) in space must follow the laws of energy conservation. But how else could the Universe know how much energy is being used by some galaxy 5 billion light years away if it isn't thru hyperspace... momentum space... a 100% elastic non-material medium from which all matter and space emerges as a product of active information.

According to present day theory the total energy in this Universe must be a constant, and each of its parts must know how much energy it is using in relation to the whole Universe.

Matter is aware of its surroundings, but this doesn't mean it can think (unless it had previously being formed into a brain).

These internal oversight can only happen in hyperspace.

Holistic awareness is a secondary function of matter which enabled Nature to evolve.

Interactions within the system (brain) depend on more than the information it gets thru its five senses, there is an interaction occurring at a deeper level between the system and its environment. Thoughts are formed very much in the same manner particles are, and just like particle systems depend on EMR so does our mind. Processes forming ideas are very much like the processes that form matter. Mind and matter both depend on the magic of superposition, non-locality and non-linear information processing, all phenomena which gives them the ability to self-organize into ever more efficient systems.

Consciousness, thanks to this function, is what enables us to think and exist in 4D, in a continuum unbounded from causality (or linear time). And that makes Bohm correct when he says state vector reduction occurs thanks to this 'wholeness in space' function of matter and consciousness is possible thanks a 'wholeness in time' function of matter, and it is this 'holistic awareness' function of Nature which Bohm mathematically represented as the quantum potential (Q).

Stapp's projection operator (P) stands for perception, but not for just human perception, but for all matter. According to Mach and others, any movement by any object within the Universe will instantaneously be sensed thru momentum space, and even though this hasn't been directly measured, it can be derived thru other phenomena... like inertia.

And that's what (P) ends up being, as a particle perceives other particles it completes the information exchange, realizing the spatial relationships between particles and space that is needed to collapse the wave packet in hyperspace and be crystallized into spacetime. Not an exclusively human ability since perception is a very old natural function of matter.

Information about a material system must be contained within the system, it doesn't come from anywhere else in space. The only external information being brought to the system by EM waves is the momentum and hence location of the particle in relation to the world. But the system must be comprised by a particle AND its particular inwardly flowing concentric space/information waves. So gravitational non-linearities may still be viewed as radial space/information flow. Information which is picked and organized by concentric waves as space is condensed into the particle/system. But the parts (not the information) to construct and maintain the system intact as it moves through the medium do come from the chaotic hyperspace.

So there is no ordered information in hyperspace, just randomly fluctuating quanta, which is ordered as a particle/wave system moves through it.

Hyperspace is filled with information bits, matter precursors, a pre-geometry made of non-material units of information which exist in chaos and are ordered by logic and activity into spacetime. But for natural reasons, i.e. energy conservation laws, everything that comes into spacetime must be perceived and energetically measured before it can materialize. There has to be a measuring device sensing the particle's location and momentum in relation with the rest of that inertial frame of reference before it can crystallize, as the information that constitutes it flows radially from hyperspace towards its centre in spacetime. But this measuring device isn't some external being, it is the Universe itself, each particle senses each other and their relation to space, building an information network filled with geometrical relationships (spacetime), which are in turn used as the future is built on the already existing information.

The big MISTERY was - why do I have to watch the cat in order to know whether it's alive or not? And the answer is that we are measuring devices, just like the rest of all matter. We are the best measuring device that ever emerged from all the information processing done in our neighborhood to this date.

Von Neumann was partly right when he said that the evolution of the Schrodinger wave could only depend on quantum mechanical 'observables' (implying that this information can only come from spacetime) yet including the observer (mind) as an efficacious operator (since the theory considers brains to be measuring instruments). The only reason human brains entered the equation was that as they observed and perceived light (EMR) coming from the particle, information about momentum and location, which is vital to maintain energy conservation laws, became known to the particle/system allowing it to complete the loop and continue to condense.

Bohm, Hiley and Penrose are also partly right when they claim particle complementarity is due to an indivisible process which originates in a common background, but the only necessary information being transferred from the aether to the particles is that concerning momentum and location in relation with that inertial frame and the rest of Universe. There is no need for some mega information storage system which must contain the history of the Universe, all the information needed for the evolution of the system in spacetime is contained by the system itself IN SPACETIME.

Quantum mechanical process is indeterminate going forwards or backwards. Reality (like thought), is about becoming, it IS process and this process is *totally dependent* on the uncertainty of the movement in quanta. Uncertainty is what causes activity, it is due to the natural indeterminism of quanta that the Universe exists, you take the uncertainty away and it will freeze.

All matter is accompanied by a real indeterminate wave movement governed by the laws of quantum mechanics, just as de Broglie described it.

Objective reality is a continuous self-maintained thermodynamically open process developing in a sea of discontinuities (background radiation). Even atoms are open thermodynamical systems, there is always energy/information/space being exchanged between matter and the environment. The same can be said about living biological systems they are open energy dissipating systems restricted by the laws of thermodynamics.

Schrodinger's equation develops in real uncertainty, quantum mechanical theory will never reach 100% accuracy because indeterminism is the NATURE of reality.

As Schrodinger's (wave-function) equation evolves the system will have some tendencies or propensities that will depend on the systems properties in spacetime. There will always be some preferred outcomes (where the wave peaks in the function) whose probabilities are going to be much higher than others which will not be so well related to the system.

Photons are carried by a matter-waves and move in a wavy indeterminate manner ruled by the Heisenberg principle of indeterminacy, that's where hbar came from, you take hbar away from the equations and reality freezes up!

Uncertainty is inherent to evolutive process, if you don't believe in the indeterminism of Nature then you will have to reject Darwin and substitute evolution by creationism. If everything was already known why do we keep having process? I mean the Sun is still shinning isn't it...

Information contained in photons, even though it may contained in each photon coming from a single source, has to be seen as ensembles ruled by the laws of probability, that is the current approach of Quantum Field Theory.

Some of the information about the environment (about the Universe) comes from this aether, as it rules the whole Universe, all at once, with just a few fundamental laws (constants). Thanks to the WHOLENESS of the aether this information can be transmitted instantaneously as wave-phase angle or slope, allowing at the same time all kinds of emergent informational systems to observe themselves in wholeness helping them to evolve.

How? If we allow for three different scales of reality it can be done, with the aether as the ETERNAL substrate for hyperspace and then spacetime.

When we rotate the plane of polarization in a beam of light the whole beam changes at once, so what kind of medium is this? Is it a particulated fluid, a super-elastic gel, or a hyper-solid?

See, the aether is non-dimensional, events occurring within the aether occur without motion, the manifestations we have in hyperspace (Television, cell phones, radio, virtual particles and all EMR), and the objective reduction of matter-waves into spacetime are ruled by laws coming from the aether, that's why I said Tachyons may be considered to be imaginary, as a tool to comprehend non-locality and instantaneous communication.

Everything is connected to the aether because everything is made from it. The aether is made from the same stuff Hawking's singularities are made, it is also the stuff from which wavefronts/shockwaves in EMR are made. It is fluid and yet INDIVISIBLE... you could stretch it and create huge volumes of 'space' WITHIN it but you can't divide it into two separate entities, the aether is ONE.

All the evidence points to a precipitation or condensation of space, but particles are still volumes of solid space filled by a 'false vacuum', in fact it can be argued that space density and pressure are greater on the outside than they are on the inside. Solid space is an effect caused by shockwaves created by the high speed spinning of fields, and fields are made from the same 'false vacuum' the whole Universe is filled with.

If we could conceive this medium to be a gel, to be made of this non-material (because neither time nor length apply to it) indivisible stuff that makes the points that make the lines that make the strings that make the quanta that makes the quarks... then we get hyperspace sharing the properties of both - the aether's non-locality, and spacetime's linear time, motion and information processing - finally we get spacetime, which contains the properties of all three scales or realms. What else could you ask for?

This three level reality coupled with a 'gel' aether model can explain non-locality, holistic awareness and evolution. It's a fluid, elastic, indivisible and eternal singularity which has inflated and stretched to what the Universe is today. It has no parts and no process within it - it IS the process. Motion, time, extension, order, size, beginning or ending are notions that do not apply, and yet everything is made from it, even space.

To us (spacetime scale) it seems as if it became a bunch of unrelated separated entities, but in reality it's all connected thru the all pervading aether, even desolated space regions are part of the one single process that started it all, it's all made of the same aether that gave birth to it. Everything that changes will experience inertial forces, simply because in reality there is only one process (the Uni-verse) from where a myriad of informational nodes (objects) evolved to become apparently separated systems. For any process to continue evolving there must be internal oversight as a whole, which is only possible if all the parts are interconnected, and that can be a huge problem when we are talking about a system the size of the Universe. We knew it had to be a non-local function, and this is only possible because of the ONENESS quality at the aether scale.

WITHIN the aether motion/information/momentum is reported instantaneously, distance doesn't apply, the aether has no parts, it is one. Within hyperspace, we have only EMR, where information propagation is limited by moving mass (process) to the speed of light. Within spacetime most things obey Newton's motion laws but everything is non-locally interconnected to everything else in its neighborghood and the rest of the Universe.
<end>

Pulled this from a comment thread on Kurzweil's AI website.
 
Posted by KnightEnder (Member # 992) on :
 
quote:
I'm sorry you're having a hard time understanding my logic, everard.
Shocker! (that he is) Since y'all speak different languages! [Smile]

Do my felonies and bad temper give me enough macho street cred to be a bit or wuss for a second? I can't believe you two guys who are two of my closest friends hate each other so much. I know you both and y'all--you are both great guys, deep down where it counts--you could be friends if you really tried, but at least 'friendly' if not friends. (I admit sometimes it's entertaining but I think in the long run it is bad for both of you.) Okay, back to being a "man". [Frown] Knock off all the bull****! [Wink]
KE

[ March 01, 2007, 10:42 AM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]
 
Posted by Everard (Member # 104) on :
 
"I'm sorry you're having a hard time understanding my logic, everard. The phenomenon of gravity is observable and measurable. The Big Bang is not. Good hell, man, you've had physics. You should be able to grasp this stuff."

As kenmeer pointed out, you're wrong. Having had physics, I have a fuller grasph of both gravity and the big bang then you do, and recognize that we can't observe EITHER, or even measure EITHER. We measure and observe the effects of both, and there are observerable and measurable predictions made by each theory.
 
Posted by KnightEnder (Member # 992) on :
 
Ev, "I will not be ignored!" [Smile] (form Fatal Attraction, in case y'all missed the reference.)

But you can email or call me if you want.

KE

[ March 01, 2007, 11:27 AM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
Hey, kenmeer, I've read a few articles recently about the idea that the core building block of the universe is information -- that quantum mechanics is best explained by the fact that each photon can be said to have the capacity to carry one binary bit -- and agree that it's a very compelling worldview. I'm a bit concerned about the statement "information about the particle became 'known' to the particle," but otherwise it's as good a theory as any other. It'll be interesting to see where physicists go with that in the next few decades.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
I liked it too. Don't care so much whether it's 'true' or not: I don't design circuits or rocket engines or time machines. But I DO enjoy natural philosophy that entertains and illuminates.

For something a guy (apparently) knocked if an evening's contribution to a speculative science forum as riddled by jeering hostilities as any Ornery debate on whom we should/shouldn't invade/nuke/generally despise, I think he did an amazing job.
"Scientism is become as bad in its way as religiosity."

For example, someone recently questioned my unquestioning belief in the life-prohibiting long-term effects of radioactive waste. (I think it was The Drake?) Scientism had taught me to believe without question that toxic radioactivew waste can easily render a place uninhbitable for aeons.

Further research, studying the actual science, teaches me this isn't so. It would take an enormous amount of spillage of just the right kind of nuke waste to create a biologically desolate landscape for more than, at most, a few decades.

But it CAN be done. Carbon-14 is tricky stuff. Same thing that makes it so good for dating fossils makes it bad for long-term genetics.
 
Posted by LinuxFreakus (Member # 2395) on :
 
Darn, I cant believe I missed this whole thread! [DOH]

It will take too long to read all this and get caught up now. But I definitely agree that Atheists have to deal with a lot of crap if people actually are aware of it.
 
Posted by LinuxFreakus (Member # 2395) on :
 
In fact in some states they are literally prohibited by law from holding any public office. I dunno how they can get away with laws like that, but they do. Even my own "liberal" state of Massachusetts [Frown]
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by KnightEnder:
quote:
I'm sorry you're having a hard time understanding my logic, everard.
Shocker! (that he is) Since y'all speak different languages! [Smile]

Do my felonies and bad temper give me enough macho street cred to be a bit or wuss for a second? I can't believe you two guys who are two of my closest friends hate each other so much. I know you both and y'all--you are both great guys, deep down where it counts--you could be friends if you really tried, but at least 'friendly' if not friends. (I admit sometimes it's entertaining but I think in the long run it is bad for both of you.) Okay, back to being a "man". [Frown] Knock off all the bull****! [Wink]
KE

Sad as it may be, KE, You've got to admit that our fights have become a lot less frequent and a lot less intense since I gave up on the guy last year and resigned myself to permanent cold war.
 
Posted by The Drake (Member # 2128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Everard:
Having had physics, I have a fuller grasp of both gravity and the big bang...

I had physics once, but the doctors cured me.

There is one huge difference - most effects of gravity lend themselves to repeatable experiments, while study of the origin of the universe obviously does not.

Luckily, because I think another Big Bang could prove slightly disruptive.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Everard:
"I'm sorry you're having a hard time understanding my logic, everard. The phenomenon of gravity is observable and measurable. The Big Bang is not. Good hell, man, you've had physics. You should be able to grasp this stuff."

As kenmeer pointed out, you're wrong. Having had physics, I have a fuller grasph of both gravity and the big bang then you do

Which makes me wonder why you started your rebuttal with an authoritative cite to the renown kenmeer. [Big Grin] .

FYI, "fuller" is a noun refering to a person who pleats or gathers cloth.


quote:
recognize that we can't observe EITHER, or even measure EITHER. We measure and observe the effects of both, and there are observerable and measurable predictions made by each theory.
Ah. That makes sense, and I can understand why you might imagine that it was relevant, if you were not paying attention to the followup discussion about the issues that were in flux during the first fractions of a second of the big bang. Thank you, those last two sentences were exceptionally coherent, and I will probably make use of that in a future discussion.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
quote:
That makes sense, and I can understand why you might imagine that it was relevant
Can you tell me why you DON'T imagine that it's relevant, Pete? I'm hard-pressed to come up with a reason it might not be.
 
Posted by hobsen (Member # 2923) on :
 
deleted as out of place...

[ March 02, 2007, 05:07 PM: Message edited by: hobsen ]
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
"Which makes me wonder why you started your rebuttal with an authoritative cite to the renown kenmeer."

Don't shoot me. I'm only the messenger.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
Don't shoot me. I'm only the messenger.
Says you.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
That makes sense, and I can understand why you might imagine that it was relevant
Can you tell me why you DON'T imagine that it's relevant, Pete? I'm hard-pressed to come up with a reason it might not be.
When you get tired of hard-pressing yourself, you could always read what I said.

[ March 02, 2007, 05:52 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
Done it. I don't understand a word of it, at least insofar as it's meant to relate to this topic. I don't want to leap to conclusions, so I'd rather ask you to restate your point.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
I tried readingh his mind too, just to give it a try, y'know. Either I'm telepathically illiterate or it's not in the brain text.

But it was fun wearing the satin turban.
 
Posted by sharpshin (Member # 3175) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Pixiest:
I think faith does more good than harm. I think it gives people hope, comfort and strength. Yes, some people use it to hurt other people and that's a shame (and completely contrary to "love thy neighbor") but I think faith is a net positive.

I wish the atheists who are busy trying to remove the "under god" from the pledge and other such nonsense would get a life and stop making us look like jerks.

Though I'm not quite an atheist-- I'm an apathetic agnostic-- you and me both, on both counts.

That being said, though I've experienced more persecution because I'm Jewish (high school bullying, no big deal in hindsight, most every Jewish kid who attended a public high school at the time had to deal with at least some of that) than as an agnostic... even if agnostics and atheists aren't really persecuted in every state, in certain aspects of American life they've certainly been marginalized.

Like politics. Here in NH we almost make a fetish out of minding our own business, but I'd never get elected governor even if I were qualified. VT of course is another story.

In athletics it's also a liability, though it doesn't matter much if your stats are good enough.

In other areas, atheists and agnostics have been accepted no problem. The sciences, academia, the arts. I would say that "people of faith" really do have more of a hard time in academia. The sciences don't care, as long as the science is really science. As I understand it a pretty good percentage of scientists profess belief in God, but if they come up with reproducible results, no one is going to say the experiment is invalid just because they believe in God, whether it's the OT God they believe in or otherwise.

The arts don't much care either, as long as the work is good. Then again, what constitutes good work in art is such a contentious subject among artists and critics that it hardly matters one way or the other.

In the performing arts, if the performer has the ability to put enough tuchises in the seats, no one gives a flying damn about their religion or lack of it.

Another area in which people of faith, and Christians in particular, have been marginalized or at any rate unfairly pigeon holed is in certain popular music genres. Just because Phil Keaggy's music has been inspired by his faith, there's no reason to call him a "Christian musician." He's a musician, period... not to mention one of the greatest guitarists in the world.

Petra, to my mind, wasn't a "Christian rock band" just because they were into singing about Jesus, anymore than the Rolling Stones are a "secular geriatric rock band" because they still sing about being horny for brown sugar. [LOL]

Truly, this is serious. Phil Keaggy should be much better known than he is, to a much wider audience. But as an officially pigeon holed "Christian musician," he never will be.

Oddly enough, one of the few subgenres of rock where it doesn't seem to make any difference is metal. Stryper was an immensely popular band and reached platinum status back in the mid 80s. Been a long time since I sold Stryper tab books at the gittar shop where I worked through the mid 90s, but the trend continues today-- according to Wiki, "In its 2006 In Review issue (February 2007), Revolver Magazine dubbed Christian metal the phenomenon of the year."

And that being said, the marginalization of atheists and agnostics in American politics does seem to me to a bit more important than the acceptance of Christian metal by secular headbangers.

[ March 03, 2007, 07:46 AM: Message edited by: sharpshin ]
 
Posted by Everard (Member # 104) on :
 
My statement was relevent to this thread, pete, because you made an ill-informed statement about physics within this thread. If anyone makes an ill-informed statement within a thread, any correction of that statement belongs within the same thread.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Everard:
My statement was relevent to this thread, pete, because you made an ill-informed statement about physics within this thread.

Did I? Which specific statement was that? You seemed to respond to this statement:

"The phenomenon of gravity is observable and measurable."

You responded by acting as if I'd said that the underlying cause of gravity is observable and measurable. Actually, the word "phenomenon" refers to the circumstances and facts perceptible by the senses. The "phenomenon of gravity" refers to the perceptible circumstances and facts associated with gravity. Like an apple falling from a tree.

Now you've made the valid point that the physical effects of the big bang can also be studied, so your post was not an absolute waste of time. But that still doesn't place the Big Bang in the same category as gravity as far as facts of nature that we can reproduce and study.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
The point that was originally being made, Pete, is that the Big Bang doesn't have to be in that category. In fact, quite a lot of science has to do with things we can't directly observe, but which can be described by theory and which then generate useful predictions of effects we can observe.

Sadly, religion still doesn't do that. If it did, we'd call it science.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
I'm not trying to have religion declared a science, Tom.

I'm simply saying that Dawkins is a warped son of a bitch for pretending that "rational" is coterminous with "scientific."
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
I believe Dawkins implies the word "physical" when he says rational.

Many religious believers are rational regarding their metaphysics, but it's an intrinsically subjective rationality that can't be measured amongst ourselves. We can consensually measure the good works produced by religious organizations, yes, but we can't consensually measure 'the Spirit'.
 
Posted by Everard (Member # 104) on :
 
"Did I? Which specific statement was that?"

The one where you said that big bang theory goes beyond known science.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Everard:
"Did I? Which specific statement was that?"

The one where you said that big bang theory goes beyond known science.

Sorry if I wasn't specific for you Everard. I should have remembered that as well as being me, I'm also a fictional character in your ongoing sagas, and that I do all sorts of terrible things in *your* statements. So I'll rephrase:

Which specific statement of MINE are you referring to? Please link and quote.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
It was, I believe, this statement of yours:

"If supernatural means something that exceeds the bounds of known science, then the Big Bang posits a supernatural event."

from the 5th page of this thread.
 
Posted by Adam Lassek (Member # 1514) on :
 
quote:
I'm simply saying that Dawkins is a warped son of a bitch for pretending that "rational" is coterminous with "scientific."
I think your contempt for him is entirely undeserved. Can you show me where he said this? Or what he said that leads you to this conclusion?
 
Posted by PanHeraclitean (Member # 3120) on :
 
I think this interview may show that both Pete and Adam's positions on Dawkins show a lack of any sense of nuance. For instance, Pete, Dawkins believes that religions are alternately scientific claims. And Adam, the man clearly has it out for any sense of a diety. Not only that but that anyone who believes in a God is ultimately lying to themselves and that rational people just don't do that.

I think that those of a religious persuasion would say that he misapprehends religion though. It is not a scientific hypothesis to be tested in the exact same manner as much of physics. This point in itself is a great point of contention between atheists and religious though.

Those that allow for religion to be outside to bounds of the testing used for physics, say that it has relegated itself to the personal sphere alone, subjectivity. Yet the religious would obviously disagree for a variety of reasons. I tend to bring up modes of epistemology.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
And I continue to point out the obvious and complete inferiority of religion as an epistemology. [Smile]
 
Posted by PanHeraclitean (Member # 3120) on :
 
Something I found on youtube about not so great atheist quotes. The best part is at the very end.

I've got to say in defense of my jab at atheism, what atheists say is not too peaceful toward religious people. I care about people and not ideologies, when it comes to atheism as a belief system or a tenet of a belief system, I always suspect some other motivation besides the ones given. I still haven't seen a presentation of atheism that does seem to show the merits of athiesm as greater than those of other believe systems.

I don't feel I persecute atheists as much as put up a defense that people of faith are not just stupid.

TomD: criterion for judgment again please. I will state that you said that if a correlation with multiple variables could be attained, it would be very valuable. I believe that this is where religion has it's niche.

[ March 03, 2007, 11:00 PM: Message edited by: PanHeraclitean ]
 
Posted by PanHeraclitean (Member # 3120) on :
 
If atheists believe this is what Christianity is about I can understand their frustration with religion, but I think it's a pretty narrow view.

BTW, I'm posting on a Saturday not Sunday because I am celebrating Sunday anticipatorily like mass on Saturday night and because I won't be able to post tomorrow night. Carlotta thought I should mention it.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
I always suspect some other motivation besides the ones given.
That's too bad, but I think that it reflects a cognitive problem on your end rather than lack of candor on behalf of atheists. I've tried to address this suspicion of yours a couple times - once here on the board, and again in a private email. Both times my questions to you went unanswered.

quote:
I still haven't seen a presentation of atheism that does seem to show the merits of athiesm as greater than those of other believe systems.
You can replace "atheism" with any view you don't subscribe to. Alternatively, you can replace the "I" with any non-Catholic and replace "atheism" with "Catholicism."

[ March 04, 2007, 12:09 AM: Message edited by: MattP ]
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
Everard misrepresented:
quote:
The one where you said that big bang theory goes beyond known science.
quote:
Originally posted by kenmeer livermaile:
It was, I believe, this statement of yours:

"If supernatural means something that exceeds the bounds of known science, then the Big Bang posits a supernatural event."

from the 5th page of this thread.

Do you not grasp the difference between what I said, and what Ev pretends I said? If you look carefully, you'll see that at least one person soon afterwards did get it.

The Big Bang theory simply draws lines in on a single point and draws a fairly logical conclusion.

I'm talking about the big bang itself, associated with theories about the appearance of the four major known forces of the universe (strong, weak, electromagnetic, and gravitational). The theory that these forces developed during the first instants of the big bang.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
Explain the distinction, please, Pete. I don't see one at all.

----------

quote:
I believe that this is where religion has it's niche.
Except that religious epistemology specifically doesn't understand the vocabulary of, say, "correlation." Once you start using those words, you're using a scientific -- materialistic, even -- epistemology.
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
I'll make the observation from the link Pan provided that Dawkins specifies a "personal deity" as the idea he considers irrational.

Several times he seems to brush off allusions to a vaguer "Einsteinian" kind of idea of God. It doesn't seem like he has a problem with such a nebulous concept--he seems to be arguing quite specifically against an anthropocentric deity.

He makes several statements about scientists who claim to be religious, but upon examination, can be found to subscribe to a version of God that is quite different from the religiously orthodox version--and he seems to give such an idea a pass.

He's clearly not opposed to a conceptual abstraction--he's opposed to belief in a personal God.
 
Posted by PanHeraclitean (Member # 3120) on :
 
This question is addressed to MattP who things I disbelieve his candor, TomD who frequently seems to do the same thing Pete accuses Dawkins of, subsuming all rational thought into materialism, and sp who brought it to a good head for me.

This is start from the Dawkins interviewed but also from other discussions that we have had. Dawkins says that if there was a personal God the universe would be a very different place. How would the existence of a personal God prevent the existence of our universe the way that it currently is? Why are these two thoughts incompatible? Why is it not simply a matter of shifting your paradigm?

BTW, Dawkins goes well beyond the anthropocentric view of god in his book. We're talking about the Omni-personal-God.
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
quote:
How would the existence of a personal God prevent the existence of our universe the way that it currently is?
I'm not sure I follow exactly where Dawkins would take this argument. The way he said it made it sound like he had articulated this line of argumentation before. Perhaps he explains in his book.

My spit-ball conjecture on what he might mean runs to the common, intuitive arguments against the existence of a personal God. You know the sort--the whole "if God existed we wouldn't have disease or war or misery etc etc." If there were a being who cared about these things and had the power to stop them, one can only assume that he would. Since no being appears to be stopping these phenomena, one assumes that no such being exists. But again--this is just a guess. I don't really know where Dawkins would take this argument.

Personally, I think that such arguments are superfluous. It's just simpler than that. Absent evidence for the existence of such a being, there is no reason for postulating such a being.

And the only evidence for the existence of such a being is social or subjective--and such evidence is much better explained without the postulation of the reality of a personal God.

If you simply accept such theism as an effective mode of social control that capitalizes upon the subjective desires and fears of individuals, then all the sudden you don't have to invent complex reasons to bridge the cognitive dissonance presented by such an idea. It really is that easy.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
quote:
How would the existence of a personal God prevent the existence of our universe the way that it currently is? Why are these two thoughts incompatible?
Without giving you a laundry list of things and situations in this universe that seem incompatible with a God who, just as an example, listens to Pat Buchanan or Pope Benedict, I'll sum up by saying that the observed universe isn't well-modeled by that worldview.
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
quote:
BTW, Dawkins goes well beyond the anthropocentric view of god in his book. We're talking about the Omni-personal-God.
Hmmm. I haven't read the book. You'll have to explain what you mean.

I just found it interesting that, according to what I heard in that interview, Dawkins doesn't see to have a problem with non-personal versions of God.
 
Posted by PanHeraclitean (Member # 3120) on :
 
sp, "non-personal versions of God" become nothing more than TomD's red button that started the universe. So in other words a non-personal God becomes a non-issue to Dawkins.
Such a thing would not be the contemporary God which he spends 9/10 of the booking refuting.

I'll admit now that I haven't finished reading the book.

TomD, the interesting thing about listening is that it in no way means that the listener has to obey what the speaker is saying. If you make an argument in anyway like that which sp calls superfluous, I would say the same. It seems to be more of a problem with reconciling your own expectations of God with the real world. This is the same for MattP.

If on the other hand you use the second line of argument, than as sp says you are accepting an alternative view which must be shown as superior. This is what I have not seen. For example I don't see TomD's reasoning for not allowing pediphilia to be about as weak as you can get. If I recall it is just about social contract. So as pediphilia becomes more common and they gain a good lobbyist backing we will be more accepting of there deviation from the norm.

This doesn't persuade me one bit.

On the other hand, there are few ways of restricting a person from becoming a part of your religion if they say they believe. I'm sure that thereare many that say they believe but really see it "as an effective mode of social control that capitalizes upon the subjective desires and fears of individuals." I don't see how this in any way necessitates that their manipulation of people falsifies a faith as a whole.

More Later. My munchin wants to play.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
quote:
For example I don't see TomD's reasoning for not allowing pediphilia to be about as weak as you can get.
Sure. It's based on arbitrary standards, which are pretty weak. (Note, however, that my argument against pedophilia is not based on a "social contract.") You grant of course that I've been able to objectively prove the badness of harm and the harm of force in another thread, right?

Pedophilia is largely non-consensual, and thus force, and thus harmful; in fact, given our definition of "informed" consent, pedophilia is inherently non-consensual. There may also be multiple physical reasons to delay intercourse beyond a certain arbitrary age cutoff, even if informed consent were somehow to be granted; the question remaining there is whether the harm of sexual contact exceeds the harm of legislation (which I suspect, but cannot confirm, that it does). The difficulty of distinguishing between consensual, non-harmful pedophilia and non-consensual, harmful pedophilia is incredibly difficult, and the harm done is perceived as serious enough that it is considered to be better to draw an arbitrary line that bans all sexual interactions between adults and children than to risk harming a child.

quote:
It seems to be more of a problem with reconciling your own expectations of God with the real world.
I would argue that anyone who says that this is not what they do is lying through his or her teeth. Some people just have much, much lower standards for their gods, and consequently accept the possibility that "God" is just piss-poor.

[ March 04, 2007, 11:10 AM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
"Tammy Kolda "

Yar.
 
Posted by PanHeraclitean (Member # 3120) on :
 
quote:
-------------------------------------------------
It seems to be more of a problem with reconciling your own expectations of God with the real world.
-------------------------------------------------

I would argue that anyone who says that this is not what they do is lying through his or her teeth. Some people just have much, much lower standards for their gods, and consequently accept the possibility that "God" is just piss-poor.

Have I said I don't do that too? I don't think I have. The difference that I percieve between us here is that I don't try to impose my limited understanding of the way I think that things should be to what I consider to be an infinite being. When I do try to place those limits on God, I typically experience pain. It might even be harm. But please direct me to the particular case you make for harm so I can determine if it is.

If we talk about force as harm and we allow free will, how could we say that God would not be harming us if He fixed our problems for us?
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PanHeraclitean:
I think this interview may show that both Pete and Adam's positions on Dawkins show a lack of any sense of nuance. For instance, Pete, Dawkins believes that religions are alternately scientific claims. And Adam, the man clearly has it out for any sense of a diety. Not only that but that anyone who believes in a God is ultimately lying to themselves and that rational people just don't do that.

I'm not sure how the fact that Dawson's claims are based on idiotic underlying assumptions about religion modifies or contradicts what I said.

SP, Dawkins' assumption that any assumption of "God" must be absolutely omnipotent, has nothing to do with God being "Anthropocentric."

Most Christian creeds claim that God is "omnipotent," but when it comes down to it, the story of the atonement as most individuals Christians understand it completely undercuts the idea of absolute omnipotence, and subjects God to certain laws of the universe. SO while most Christians will say they believe God is "omnipotent" since that's in their creed, when you ask them specifically if God had the power to save mankind from sin without the suffering of Jesus Christ, most Christians will say no, that there was no other way, as stated in one of the gospels.

Dawkins' only argues against an absolutely omnipotent God, and only defeats the God of the Creeds, which is a product of theology, not of religion. The effect is akin to a straw man, since most Christians beleive in the God described in the New Testament, not the God described in the creeds.

It's not Dawkins' fault that most Christians subscribe to an official creed that they don't completely believe in. But he really should have put a little more thought into his work. Better to understand a world-view before setting out to debunk it.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
"1) If one defines "supernatural" as "something that exceeds the bounds of known science," but then, to protect his own beliefs, adds a caveat "except if it's a null hypothesis," then that's a protective semantic device.
+++
"2) But what Dawkins would have us believe is that it's the *only* reasonable belief, and that individuals who consider personal rather than emperical evidence are irrational."

(I've listed a truckload of definitions for supernatural at the bottom of this post.)

Regarding 1): for me and, I believe, many of us posting here, supernatural means not just 'exceeding the bounds of known science'. In fact, supernaturalism is often invoked within the bounds of known science. We find this often in the evolution/ID conflict.

Where a phenomenon like the Big Bang exceeds the bounds of known science, the difference between religious and science is this:

Science throws different ideas at the mystery but these hypotheses bear no experimentally verified weight of any lasting import. It generally crafts these 'arrows' from proven concepts and aims them along lines tangential to them, but not always, for science can also proceed from raw imagination. It can't, however, canonize raw imaginations unless they yield comprehensive data confirming their conjectures. Until they do so, they are null hypotheses.

Religion, at least the kind that posits a God in Whom we might trust, places God at this point. he difference between theism/deism and a null hypothesis is that, rather than attempt to answer what happened or how it happened, deism/theism says, He did it!

This deliberately dulls Occam's Razor but not, paradoxically, by multiplying entities unnecessarily, but by limiting entities to one. Once the target of one's conjecture is The One Who Made/Knows All, instead of what can be known about a specific event (i.e., the nanosecond/macroinfinity) before the Big Bang, one is reduced to suppplication.

Now, it may be that all there is to know about that nano/macro-second/infinity is that God Did It. But, since God has consistently remained hidden from even our subtlest measurements, while continuous prodding with those instruments has historically always revealed a deeper/finer set of data by which we explain more than we knew before, it is literally true to say that the God-conjecture is irrational. There's nothing to measure but one's own subjective impressions, a measurement which yields the fact that one's hand fits one's hand.

Conflating the two, we see the pinhole of the Big Bang as a carnival game where scientists try to throw theories through said miniscule aperture and hit the button that dumps God off his throne and into the water.

Regarding 2): ["But what Dawkins would have us believe is that it's the *only* reasonable belief, and that individuals who consider personal rather than emperical evidence are irrational."]

It was irrational, for example, of you to assert that Everard was *pretending*. That it was irrational doesn't make it untrue. He may well have been. But you lacked measurement to make such a claim. Is this an example of a null hypothesis? I suppose so. However, it is a null hypothesis of such poor quality it will not stand as such. It ignores the possibility that Everard may be thick-headed. Or that he yet had a fine point to make (which he in fact did) before he felt the issue could be definitively answered. Or he needs glasses. Aliens have taken over his brain. God told him to write what he wrote. (I think the *pretend* hypothesis lies between aliens/God influence and fine point/thick-headed (by thick-headed, I mean the kind of stubborness that can occulde its view of a topic.)

Worst of all, as hypotheses go, it states itself as fact rather than conjecture. It attempts its own fait accompli. An effective if risky technique in court-room cross-examinations but not in forming hypotheses.

You could have claimed you *believed* he was pretending. That would have been directly rational to you, assuming you feel you can accurately measure the strength of your belief. It would have been indirectly measurable by us, in a very rough manner, by observing over time how your actions accorded with the expressed belief.

But to say the Everard was pretending asserted something only Everard could measure. If Everard confirms or denies this, then your statement becomes rational.

Likewise, if God someday confirms or denies His existence to us, then assertions about God's existence will become rational. ("Hello, Earth? This is God. I deny my existence. Please leave me alone." Gotta love paradox.)

THe history of consensually verifiable evidence for the evidence of God is ZIlch. Over the course of many millennia, this earns consistent belief in God the mantle of irrational.

Which is as it should be. That which yields not to measurement yields not to measurement. That which cannot be consensually verified cannot be consensually verified. This doesn't make such belief inherently wrong or bad of itself.

When it comes to explaining the workings and explolatible directions of life on Terra, Dawkins is decidedly prejudiced toward the rational and against the irrational. One can do things reliably, expansively, counter-entropically, with rational empirical methods.

With religion, one can perhaps do things expansively and (at least socially) counter-entropically, but not reliably.

To date, neither science nor religion have either proved or disproved the existence of God. But science is so greatly superior to religion in obtaining clean drinking water and controlling disease and attending to our physical and mental needs, it has good cause to claim itself superior to religion.

It creates things that once were supernatural: things that didn't exist before, whose conjectured existence invoked the idea of magic and miracle.

"a) No one has defined "supernatural" as "something that exceeds the bounds of known science" here except YOU. In fact, I quite specifically said that this was not how it was generally defined.

b)Except when trying to say that one is better than religious people."

Well, then. Let's add this protective semantic device to Pete's Canon.

"Do you not grasp the difference between what I said, and what Ev pretends I said? If you look carefully, you'll see that at least one person soon afterwards did get it."

Yes, it was finessed after-words. But the statement you requested be identified *is*, truly, the one from page 5.

Now, as for the idea that Everard *pretends* you said or intended meaning other than what you did: You claim by this assertion to kow what Everard thinks or feels or intends.

He may be placing words in your mouth. He adds the word "theory" to the phrase "Big Bang". But he doesn't quote you as saying that. He also clarifies effectively here:

"But saying that the big bang is "supernatural" because its not known science, doesn't follow. If you want to say "The mechanism that caused the big bang is not known science," then fine... but the big bang itself is verifiable, falsifiable, and predictive."

So when you attempt to correct him and myself by stating:

"I'm talking about the big bang itself, associated with theories about the appearance of the four major known forces of the universe (strong, weak, electromagnetic, and gravitational). The theory that these forces developed during the first instants of the big bang."

... you *really* confuse the issue. First you say the "the big bang itself", then you say "the theory that these forces developed during the first instants of the big bang."

DEFINITIONS:
collectively; "She doesn't believe in the supernatural"
# not existing in nature or subject to explanation according to natural laws; not physical or material; "supernatural forces and occurrences and beings"
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

# The supernatural (Latin:super- "exceeding"+nature) comprises forces and phenomena that cannot be perceived by natural or empirical senses, and whose understanding may be said to lie with religious, magical, or otherwise mysterious explanation —yet remains firmly outside of the realm of science. ...
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernatural

# Supernatural is a 1999 concept album by Santana. The songs on the album represent one man's personal emotions through its various Cuban and Latin rhythms.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernatural_(album)

# Supernatural (aka MC Supernatural) is a rapper known for his skills in free-styling.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernatural_(rap)

# Supernatural is the sixth album released by dc Talk.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernatural_(dc_Talk_album)

# an occurrence in violation of the laws of nature. Spiritualism contends that the phenomena of the seance room are ruled by as yet unknown laws and rejects the term.
www.wholeagain.com/channelingglossary.html

# Something that cannot be explained by the laws of nature; for example, gods and ghosts.
www.brooklynexpedition.org/structures/glossary_latin.html

# Something that cannot be given an ordinary explanation
www.kented.org.uk/ngfl/subjects/history/medhist/page45_glossary.html

# characteristics of the reality beyond the senses.
oregonstate.edu/instruct/anth370/gloss.html

# The term supernatural comes from the terms “super” meaning above the average, and the term “natural” meaning the norm. Basically it is anything that seems to go beyond any natural force or defies a logical explanation.
knorton13.tripod.com/id33.html

# Something that exists of occurs through some means other than any know force in nature or science.
www.wrexhamparaskeptics.4t.com/definitions.htm

# and the different tracks on it then won nine Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, Record of the Year for "Smooth", and Song of the Year for Thomas and Itaal Shur. Santana's acceptance speeches described his feelings about music's place in one's spiritual existence. ...
www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Carlos-Santana

# Activity caused by God or His angels, commonly referred to as to anything outside the bounds of natural laws.
www.cprs.info/definitions.htm

# 1. of, pertaining to, or being above or beyond what is natural or explainable by natural law. 2. of, pertaining to, or attributed to God or a deity. 3. of a superlative degree; preternatural. 4. pertaining to or attributed to ghosts, goblins, or other unearthly beings; eerie; occult. --n. 5. a being, place, object, occurrence, etc., considered as supernatural or of supernatural origin. 6. "the supernatural,". a. supernatural beings, behavior, and occurrences collectively. b. ...
towerwebproductions.com/alt-lib/occult/definitions.shtml

# Used sometimes in the sense of make-believe, it originally referred to that which had been done by a being other than natural (human or animal) - though no less real.
www.theology.edu/theology/glossary.htm
 
Posted by Everard (Member # 104) on :
 
"SP, Dawkins' assumption that any assumption of "God" must be absolutely omnipotent, has nothing to do with God being "Anthropocentric.""

Dawkins doesn't make the assumption that any assumption god must be absolutely omnipotent.

As discussed here Dawkins is only showing how the common christian understanding of god, not every understanding of god, rests on bad assumptions.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
quote:

If we talk about force as harm and we allow free will, how could we say that God would not be harming us if He fixed our problems for us?

You have a "munchkin" and you need to ask this question?

Seriously, Mormons get a pass on this one because they don't believe God created the Universe and don't believe He's omnipotent in the classical sense. Catholics, who're all about the omniomnism, don't.

--------

quote:

Conflating the two, we see the pinhole of the Big Bang as a carnival game where scientists try to throw theories through said miniscule aperture and hit the button that dumps God off his throne and into the water.

kenmeer, I loved this line. [Wink] It's one of the best allegories for the "God of the Gaps" that I've seen.
 
Posted by PanHeraclitean (Member # 3120) on :
 
Thank you for reiterating that Everard. I don't really want to revisit that argument either.

But Pete's comment does clarify my comment about Dawkins using 9/10 of his "God Delusion" book on the "omni-personal-God."

TomD, I know it's a bad analogy, but I'm sure you know of "tough love".

A good example just happened. My son walks in and holds my hand and starts walking away with me. He walks me to the silverware drawer and asks for a "poooom". I don't give him one, but instead ask him where the other one he took is. We go looking for it and find a couple things before the spoon. He doesn't get mad at me, but overjoyed at finding his original spoon.

I didn't just give in to what he thought he wanted, TomD. I directed him to his root desire. This is what I think our relationship with God is like. But if we get to stuck on what we want, we'll never find our root desire. Make sense?

[ March 04, 2007, 01:01 PM: Message edited by: PanHeraclitean ]
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
"It's one of the best allegories for the "God of the Gaps" that I've seen."

AND... WHAT'S MORE... is that

EVERYONE'S A WINNER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
"When it comes to explaining the workings and explolatible directions of life on TerrA..."

wOW. noW that's A TYPO.

shOULD 'EXTRAPOLATIBLE. (CAPS oops)
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
quote:
This is what I think our relationship with God is like.
I have never had God direct me to the metaphorical spoon drawer. Have you?

Also: if your son persisted in looking for the "pooom," even if you were sure he wanted his original "spoon," how long would you wait to smite him and curse all his descendants?

[ March 04, 2007, 01:40 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]
 
Posted by PanHeraclitean (Member # 3120) on :
 
in the metaphor we are trying to direct God to the spoon drawer TomD, not the other way around. And one of the themes of not only Catholicism but many other religions (I can't help but think Matrix, "there is no spoon". This is not what I'm talking about) is that we must say "not mine but your will be done" like Jesus in the Garden.

I have a feeling you will look at this and say that this is psychologically explainable. I agree. But a guy was teaching about this sort of thing and to a certain extent and even more by his followers claimed he was God. Insert Lewis's liar, lunatic, Lord argument here.

Edited: which cursing are we talking about here? For instance if you were given a destiny to be God's chosen people and you decided you liked Baal because he seemed cooler and didn't expect what you didn't want to give, but expected orgies with virgins (which would you pick?) do you think that God actively had to curse you or your very actions were doing the job themselves. It goes back to the whole sins of your fathers idea.

[ March 04, 2007, 02:01 PM: Message edited by: PanHeraclitean ]
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
Insert Lewis's liar, lunatic, Lord argument here.
false dilemma
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
quote:
do you think that God actively had to curse you or your very actions were doing the job themselves
The Bible quite specifically notes when God curses a people. Feel free to individually examine each of those citations if you'd like. I don't recall the Bible ever indicating that a people have cursed themselves.
 
Posted by PanHeraclitean (Member # 3120) on :
 
MattP, what other options do we have for the person of Jesus.

Are we headed toward a discussion about the historicity of Jesus and how the followers of Jesus got it all wrong insidiously or because they were stupid fishermen?

So an entire religion based on lies has survived with a leader tracing back 2000 years when no other power structure has been able to come anywhere near that longevity? Sounds nearly as improbable as God. [Wink]

TomD, having gone through all of Christianity within an afternoon, I'm sure your familiar with "Dei Verbum" which says that the message of the bible is transmitted through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit upon a human author. The author was relating the cursing that occurs in terms that a people that were developing their conception of God could understand. For instance Sirach is on a much higher intellectual plane than Kings. If we are to read purely literally the bible is full of contradictions. But not even the strictest adherent of Sola Scriptura does that.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
quote:
The author was relating the cursing that occurs in terms that a people that were developing their conception of God could understand.
Sure. And if you pick and choose the parts of the Bible you want to take seriously this week, it almost makes sense. [Wink]

I submit that it would have been no harder for someone to write "and so they sank into ignominy, ruining the lives of their children for generations," and no harder for their readers to understand. In fact, if that was what happened, it seems that writing "and they were cursed by God" actually obfuscates what happened.

Ancients were primitive, but they weren't stupid. If God didn't actually do any cursing, He shouldn't've had people write a book in which He does a lot of cursing.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Everard:
"SP, Dawkins' assumption that any assumption of "God" must be absolutely omnipotent, has nothing to do with God being "Anthropocentric.""

Dawkins doesn't make the assumption that any assumption god must be absolutely omnipotent.

As discussed here Dawkins is only showing how the common christian understanding of god, not every understanding of god, rests on bad assumptions.

And as I explained above, Dawkins' quasi-straw-man is not in fact the "common Christian understanding," but the representation of the creeds, which most Christians do not actually fully accept if you quiz them on the atonement.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
Is Free Will "supernatural"?

Is Free Will within the bounds of science, e.g., is it measurable?

Is someone who believes in Free Will "irrational"?
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
MattP, what other options do we have for the person of Jesus.
I'm surprised you can't think of any. Usually, pointing out that it's a false dilemma is sufficient to get the necessary creative juices flowing.

The most obvious is that he was simply mistaken either entirely, or in part, about his nature. Perhaps he was the son of god, but suffered from the same ambiguity of communication that many religious people seem to suffer from. Perhaps he understood his nature but was not effective in communicating it. Perhaps his story was more allegorical than even those who view the bible an essentially symbolic work could imagine. There is an endless number of possibilities without even going into the debate about whether he existed or how intelligent his followers were.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
Matt, if you consider Lewis' argument a false dillemma, then how can you countenance Dawkins' dillemma that we either prove our religious belief empirically, give them up, or get labeled irrational?
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
Matt, if you consider Lewis' argument a false dillemma, then how can you countenance Dawkins' dillemma that we either prove our religious belief empirically, give them up, or get labeled irrational?

If you can provide a Dawkins quote that presents this dilemma I'll happily acknowledge it or, if I feel there are interpretive errors, I'll try to explain why it is not a false dilemma.

I'm not really interested in defending Dawkins. He's just some guy, not some sort of atheist guru. More importantly, I'm not putting forth any arguments from Dawkins. I pointed out the fallacy from Lewis because it was presented in the discussion by Pan.

[ March 04, 2007, 04:31 PM: Message edited by: MattP ]
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
quote:
Is someone who believes in Free Will "irrational"?
I think that's the wrong direction to approach the question. You can almost never establish whether or not a belief is "irrational" by stating the belief. You can almost always establish whether or not a belief is irrational by stating the reasons a belief is held.
 
Posted by PanHeraclitean (Member # 3120) on :
 
TomD, now I know why you ask me for reasons why I believe and why when I ask you I feel like I come up short.

So, if I say it is because of personal experience, you'll go after that personal experience and show how it is more likely to be a mental construction. How can I not use the same argument for you. That through habituation you have predisposed yourself to unbelief?
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
"Dawkins' quasi-straw-man is not in fact the "common Christian understanding," but the representation of the creeds, which most Christians do not actually fully accept if you quiz them on the atonement."

Perhaps, then, Xtians should relinquish those creeds. There are the foundation of the idea that there is a common Xtian understanding.

Having watched the interview video Pan provided, I think the issue with Dawkins is that he makes sense. He takes the claim that God exists as a valid scientific claim and then notes the grand history of zero evidence for that claim.

I think it just bugs some religious folks to hear someone come flat out and say they'r believing in something without substantiation.

Paul had no problem with this, but since Paul, Xtianity has (William Gibson twisted paraphrase alert) become so popular it's almost verified.

10 million Elvis fans can't be wrong and alla that.

Also, I hink Dawkins simply refers to omnipotence and omniscience as the normal parameters of divine attributes. Many folks modify these aspects in their opwn beliefs, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously.

After all, since God deigns not to clarify the record for us except through covert 'leaks' like the one Joseph Smith describes, we have considerable reign to adjust our notions of God according to our preferences. On a daily basis, even.

I like when he declares his own creed: that empirical truth is an even greater value than happiness. It shows him, too, to be a man of faith in absurd things. Truth better than happiness? If this were remotey so, people wouldn't believe in God despite the consistent lack of supporting evidence. I think he says this because he believes a) truth enhances happiness (indeed, he says as much) and b) he places the pursuit of empirical truth in the same part of our brain that others place the pursuit of God. It makes him happy. It itckles that wnderful wishbone of mystery that compels us to attempt an understanding of the Great Big Unavoidable Everything.

"God knows we're doomed from that first peek
Into the secret sacred place
Who wears such stars around his neck
But will not let us see His face."
(some 20th century poet, quoted from memory; second stanza probably slightly apocryphal)

"Is Free Will "supernatural"?

Is Free Will within the bounds of science, e.g., is it measurable?

Is someone who believes in Free Will "irrational"?"

I doubt my existence therefore I exist. Free Will, seemingly self-directed consciousness, what have you, is the mystery that ponders the mystery. Consciousness is supernaturally transcendental, or transcendentally supernatural, or something.

I Am that I Am, and that's all I know.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
Ah. Here 'tis:

Notes On A Girl

The half-moons of her calves eclipse
each other prettily as she walks,
and something photometric trips
the triggers of her heels whose clacks

acclaim each sweet occlusion. She
is vain, is vain. So much the worse
for us: Her swansthroat under-knee,
her thigh, torso -- an 'ipse-verse' --

are hidden, but are all her thought,
as Carmelites, they say, in prayers
hold the far earth's meridians taut.
Her thought is vain, but so is theirs.

God knows we're doomed from that first peek
that makes us hunt the secret place,
Who wears such stars around His neck
and will not let us see His face.

Peter Kane Dufault

A perfect poem per my sensibilities.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
Matt, if you consider Lewis' argument a false dillemma, then how can you countenance Dawkins' dillemma that we either prove our religious belief empirically, give them up, or get labeled irrational?

If you can provide a Dawkins quote that presents this dilemma I'll happily acknowledge it or, if I feel there are interpretive errors, I'll try to explain why it is not a false dilemma.

I'm not really interested in defending Dawkins. He's just some guy, not some sort of atheist guru.

I'm glad that's how you see him. Others seem to treat him, well, as the Origen of Atheism, as the first atheist theologian.

quote:
More importantly, I'm not putting forth any arguments from Dawkins.
You've surprised me a few times by responding to some of my complaints against Dawkins as if they were attacks on you, otherwise I'd not have addressed you. Glad I misunderstood, because you don't seem a very likely Dawkins proxy.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
I find the best evidence for the irrationality of some religious believers is found in the insistent arguments by some religious believers that 'they are so rational.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
"I'm glad that's how you see him. Others seem to treat him, well, as the Origen of Atheism, as the first atheist theologian."

Poor Dawkins. Deified by his critics.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Is someone who believes in Free Will "irrational"?
I think that's the wrong direction to approach the question. You can almost never establish whether or not a belief is "irrational" by stating the belief. You can almost always establish whether or not a belief is irrational by stating the reasons a belief is held.
What if you're completely clueless as to why the belief is held, as Dawkins seems to be with religion? Does it suffice to just speculate and pull the other person's motives out of your ass, like Dawkins does with religion? Make up the statistic that 99.99% of people raised by people with free will believe in free will, ergo their belief in free will is instilled by social programming? [Big Grin]
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kenmeer livermaile:
"I'm glad that's how you see him. Others seem to treat him, well, as the Origen of Atheism, as the first atheist theologian."

Poor Dawkins. Deified by his critics.

Origen =/=Origin. Origen is an historical person, Kenmeer. The first theologian of proto-orthodox Christianity, although his specific conclusions about the preexistence and other startlingly LDS-like opinions were rejected as heretical by the Niceans.

[ March 04, 2007, 05:02 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
I know who Origen is. I should, however, have said sanctified not deified.

[ March 04, 2007, 05:09 PM: Message edited by: kenmeer livermaile ]
 
Posted by PanHeraclitean (Member # 3120) on :
 
Origen is a good example of how orthodox christianity by no means swallowed what the Greek philosophers believed. This is why whenever I hear someone say "orthodox Christianity" was defiled by the Greeks I just have to laugh. Pre-existence is on of the most Greek philosophy/theology I can think of yet the Christians who fall for Greek philosophy/theology reject this one out right. [Wink]
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
"What if you're completely clueless as to why the belief is held, as Dawkins seems to be with religion?"

The Dawkins I know is not at all clueless as to why folks hold religious beliefs.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PanHeraclitean:
Origen is a good example of how orthodox christianity by no means swallowed what the Greek philosophers believed. This is why whenever I hear someone say "orthodox Christianity" was defiled by the Greeks I just have to laugh. Pre-existence is on of the most Greek philosophy/theology I can think of yet the Christians who fall for Greek philosophy/theology reject this one out right. [Wink]

Origen's explanation of the relationship between God and Jesus is right out of John Chapter One. Influence by Greek Philosophy can run both ways, Pan. In the eternal scheme, rejecting scripture and revelation in order to reject Greek Philosophy, is no different than rejecting scripture and revelation in order to follow Greek Philosophy.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kenmeer livermaile:
"What if you're completely clueless as to why the belief is held, as Dawkins seems to be with religion?"

The Dawkins I know is not at all clueless as to why folks hold religious beliefs.

[LOL] OK, now that we've established that Kenmeer's personal Dawkins is omniscient, where do we go from there?
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
I'm looking forward to your explanation of why omniscience applies here.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
You've surprised me a few times by responding to some of my complaints against Dawkins as if they were attacks on you, otherwise I'd not have addressed you. Glad I misunderstood, because you don't seem a very likely Dawkins proxy.
I only recall correcting misrepresentations of arguments which I was familiar with. I'd be surprised if I actually got angry at someone for dissin' Dawkins.

I'm writing this in church right now. If I don't reply again, suspect a smiting.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kenmeer livermaile:
I know who Origen is. I should, however, have said sanctified not deified.

Not knowing your mind, I can only go by what you say, Kenmeer.

As for "sanctified," I'm unaware of anyone who calls Origen a saint. Although he was the first real theologian of the proto-Catholic church, he was declared an heretic in 553 AD, Origen's name was struck from the church rolls and his books were burnt and their contents misrepresented. (For example, later theologians falsely claimed that Origen had taught reincarnation, but more recent historians have since shown that he rejected that doctrine.)
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kenmeer livermaile:
I find the best evidence for the irrationality of some religious believers is found in the insistent arguments by some religious believers that 'they are so rational.

You should have been a cop, KM. "You must be guilty since you say you didn't do it" is logic that only a cop could love.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
Martin Luther had his bad days too, but he has his fans.

Why the Catholics preferred eternal damnation over eventual purification is one of them things that makes Catholics so interesting.

Personally, anyone who promotes chiliasm is saintly by me. I've had chili *that* good once or twice and long to do so again.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
" a) I find the best evidence for the irrationality of some religious believers is found in the insistent arguments by some religious believers that 'they are so rational.

b) You should have been a cop, KM. "You must be guilty since you say you didn't do it" is logic that only a cop could love."

More like "If you're gonna make up a buncha bull**** at least make it sound convincing."

[ March 04, 2007, 06:07 PM: Message edited by: kenmeer livermaile ]
 
Posted by Adam Lassek (Member # 1514) on :
 
quote:
Pete wrote:
Dawkins' only argues against an absolutely omnipotent God, and only defeats the God of the Creeds, which is a product of theology, not of religion. The effect is akin to a straw man, since most Christians beleive in the God described in the New Testament, not the God described in the creeds.

It's not Dawkins' fault that most Christians subscribe to an official creed that they don't completely believe in. But he really should have put a little more thought into his work. Better to understand a world-view before setting out to debunk it.

Pete, from your depiction of Dawkin's beliefs I must conclude that you have no more than a passing familiarity with them. Dawkin's arguments are not based on any particular belief system.

quote:

The God of the Old Testement is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving, control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. Those of us schooled from infancy in his ways can become desensitized to their horror.
...
It is unfair to attack such an easy target. The God Hypothesis should not stand or fall with its most unlovely instantiation, Yahweh, nor his insipidly opposite Christian face, 'Gentle Jesus meek and mild'.
...
I am not attacking the particular qualities of Yahweh, or Jesus, or Allah, or any other specific god such as Baal, Zeus, or Wotan. Instead I shall define the God Hypothesis more defensibly: there exists a super-human, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us. This book will advocate an alternative view: any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual evolution. Creative intelligences, being evolved, necessarily arrive late in the universe, and therefore cannot be responsible for designing it. God, in the sense defined, is a delusion; and, as later chapters will show, a pernicious delusion.

(The God Delusion, pp. 31) [emphasis mine]

He certainly has strong words to say about the Judeo-Christian God, but his statements are directly referential to Christian scripture.

quote:
PanHeraclitean wrote:
the man clearly has it out for any sense of a diety. Not only that but that anyone who believes in a God is ultimately lying to themselves and that rational people just don't do that.

So what if he does? Your statement takes as given that this is a bad thing. He believes that belief in a personal God is a delusion, and he wrote an entire book that makes a compelling argument for this position.

quote:
Such a thing would not be the contemporary God which he spends 9/10 of the booking refuting.
If you are referring to The God Delusion, wrong. By my count he spends only 45 pages discussing specific belief systems in a total of 374 pages, or about 13%.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Instead I shall define the God Hypothesis more defensibly: there exists a super-human, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us. This book will advocate an alternative view: any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual evolution.
And I'm saying that's a false dichotomy.

For one thing, the Bible, if Dawkins had bothered to read it, says specifically that God made "everything that was made." That qualification strongly suggests that parts and/or aspects of the universe were not "made" i.e. produced by intelligent design
 
Posted by Everard (Member # 104) on :
 
Its not a false dichotomy. A false dichotomy says "It is X or Y only." Dawkins lays out the position taken by X number of christians (I would argue most. Certainly most sects. If you think its only many christians, and most sects, fine), and indeed most monotheists, which is that God made the universe and everything in it. He then, as he says presents "an alternative view." Certainly there are other views. "an" used the way Adam quotes Dawkins as having used it means "one of several." Dawkins doesn't concern himself with those in his book... which does not mean they are not other alternatives. It simply means he is not addressing them.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
quote:
How can I not use the same argument for you. That through habituation you have predisposed yourself to unbelief?
Through habituation I have also predisposed myself to, say, reading English. I could keep an open mind and look at every letter as a new surprise, fraught with hidden and revolutionary meanings, but one of the things about "learning" is that you tend to eventually discard the chaff.

-------

quote:
Others seem to treat him, well, as the Origen of Atheism, as the first atheist theologian.
The only people I know who do that are Christians, actually. I don't know any atheists who do. I do know a few people whose lives were changed forever by encountering the meme meme, though.

[ March 04, 2007, 07:00 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
"For one thing, the Bible, if Dawkins had bothered to read it, says specifically that God made "everything that was made."

I suppose God didn't make Himself. See how *that* fits into this:

Instead I shall define the God Hypothesis more defensibly: there exists a super-human, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us. This book will advocate an alternative view: any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual evolution.

Dawkins heads off the pass and goes straight for primogenesis of God Himself. He tackles the Who made God riddle head on.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
A further note:

"For one thing, the Bible, if Dawkins had bothered to read it, says specifically that God made "everything that was made."

+++

"Instead I shall define the God Hypothesis more defensibly: there exists a super-human, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us."

The Bible says not one way or the other if the universe and everything within it was made or not. But it does say:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Whether or not he made them from subatomic quantum foam, it doesn't *quite* make clear, no. But it does address Ground Zero (Terra the Fair) and the heavens.

Ye may define the heavens as ye wish, but for me, the sky extends outward in all directions throughout the cosmos.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:

quote:
Others seem to treat him, well, as the Origen of Atheism, as the first atheist theologian.
The only people I know who do that are Christians, actually. I don't know any atheists who do. I do know a few people whose lives were changed forever by encountering the meme meme, though.
Results 1,370,000 for 2007 + atheism + dawkins

2,880,000 for 2007 + atheism -dawkins

I dunno, Tom. >32% of persons discussing atheism also mention Dawkins on the same page. That's pretty good mindshare In contrast, less than 18.5% of persons speaking of Christianity on the WWW happen to mention the Pope on the same page.

2,260,000 for christianity +2007 +Pope.
10,200,000 for christianity +2007 -Pope

Let's shoot for someone with a bigger share:

5,510,000 for christianity +2007 -Jesus
17,900,000 for christianity +2007 +Jesus

Ouch. Jesus doesn't even rank as high within the scope of "Christianity" as Dawkins ranks in "Atheism." [LOL]
 
Posted by Everard (Member # 104) on :
 
That search tree you've developed there doesn't tell us how many of the people discussing atheism+dawkins are actually atheists, and how many aren't.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
2007 religion dawkins

(Results 1 - 10 of about 1,410,000 for 2007 religion dawkins.)
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
Go away from a couple of hours and look how the atheism thread jumps on you.
quote:
SP, Dawkins' assumption that any assumption of "God" must be absolutely omnipotent, has nothing to do with God being "Anthropocentric."
This seems to be an odd statement--seeing how I don't recollect having said anything that remotely requires this apparent refutation. Here's my bit about Dawkins/anthropocentrism:
quote:
Several times he seems to brush off allusions to a vaguer "Einsteinian" kind of idea of God. It doesn't seem like he has a problem with such a nebulous concept--he seems to be arguing quite specifically against an anthropocentric deity.
This says nothing about omnipotence. Feel free to explain the reasons for your comment.

My personal view is that anything that ain't omnipotent just ain't God. And I happen to believe in omnipotence. It just obviously ain't personal.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
This I like:

"Instead, his criticism is focused on belief in "a supernatural creator that is ‘appropriate for us to worship’",[8] While Dawkins has respect for "Einsteinian religion," he shows no respect for conventional religion. Dawkins maintains that religion is given a privileged and undeserved immunity against criticism, quoting Douglas Adams to illustrate the point:

“Religion ... has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. What it means is, 'Here is an idea or a notion that you're not allowed to say anything bad about; you're just not. Why not? – because you're not. If someone votes for a party that you don't agree with, you're free to argue about it as much as you like; everybody will have an argument but nobody feels aggrieved by it. ... But on the other hand, if somebody says 'I mustn't move a light switch on a Saturday', you say 'I respect that.'[9] ”

Dawkins goes on to list a number of examples of religion being given privileged status, such as the ease of gaining conscientious objector status; the use of euphemisms for religious conflicts; various exemptions from the law; and the Muhammad cartoons controversy." (from wiki)
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kenmeer livermaile:
2007 religion dawkins

(Results 1 - 10 of about 1,410,000 for 2007 religion dawkins.)

Nice try, but: 258,000,000 for religion +2007 -dawkins

That leaves Dawkins with ~0.5% of "Religion", KM.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
I's just pointing out that quick google word associative statistics mean a bit of this and that.
Personally, you can call him the Origen of atheism all ye want. I agree, he's the current poster child.

Although I think a fellow named Thomas Huxley was in the business over 100 years ago. Even coined the word agnosticism to give both sides some breathing room.

Let's spin this gambling machine:

religion rational

(1,760,000 for religion rational.)

religion irrational

(1,270,000 for religion irrational.)

Now using 'exact phrase' preferences:

religion is irrational

(594 for religion irrational "religion is irrational)

(screwed-up url, who needs it anyway?)

(religion rational "religion is rational)

Next: Rorsarch blots

[ March 04, 2007, 07:48 PM: Message edited by: kenmeer livermaile ]
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
And wasn't there some guy named Bertrand a while ago? What a sissy name.
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
Any conversation about God is ultimately about authority.

Insisting that God is personal is all about insisting that certain personal values are the ultimate universal authority.
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
Oooh! And on the Liar Lunatic Lord bit false dichotomy:

Maybe Jesus wasn't a liar a lunatic or a lord.

Maybe it's just a game of telephone played by millions of people who speak different languages for two thousand years.

Maybe he originally said: "I'm bored" [Big Grin]
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by seekingprometheus:
And wasn't there some guy named Bertrand a while ago? What a sissy name.

Bertrand Russell generally defended his own point of view. He didn't set out to get those who disagreed with him marginalized or locked up.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by seekingprometheus:
Any conversation about God is ultimately about authority.

Insisting that God is personal is all about insisting that certain personal values are the ultimate universal authority.

And what makes you the ultimate universal authority on what the beliefs of other people mean to them?
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
quote:
And what makes you the ultimate universal authority on what the beliefs of other people mean to them?
[Big Grin]

I didn't say "any conversation about what someone's beliefs mean to them." I said "any conversation about God."

The reason these conversations get so hot and heavy is because they are really about authority. The underlying theme behind atheist arguments is that accepting personalized values as having some metaphysical authority in the universe is a mistake. The underlying theme behind theists arguments is that refusing to acknowledge an absolute authority behind personal values is a mistake.

The real issue is authority.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
quote:
He didn't set out to get those who disagreed with him marginalized or locked up.
*sigh* Will you read the freakin' book yet, Pete, so you can stop slandering Dawkins?
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
You can, however, ask me what makes me the ultimate universal authority on determining what conversations about God really mean. [Big Grin]
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
Yeah TomD--I noticed that too.

I've been particularly amused with the way Pete constructs a straw man argument and then accuses the straw man of straw man fallacies. [LOL]
 
Posted by PanHeraclitean (Member # 3120) on :
 
I've actually been watching a lot of material on google video. The guys been putting himself up front and on film since the 70s. You can even watch his series that he mentions in the preface of the book.

Here's one.

Here's another. There are comments by listeners that float by through the show.

[ March 04, 2007, 10:27 PM: Message edited by: PanHeraclitean ]
 
Posted by Adam Lassek (Member # 1514) on :
 
quote:
Bertrand Russell generally defended his own point of view. He didn't set out to get those who disagreed with him marginalized or locked up.
I agree with Tom, this is a serious misrepresentation bordering on defamation. Show me where Dawkins has ever suggested such a thing.
 
Posted by PanHeraclitean (Member # 3120) on :
 
Some more interesting stuff from Dawkins. It makes me wonder if such "queerness" should be taken seriously, why can't a conception of God.
 
Posted by Adam Lassek (Member # 1514) on :
 
quote:
Some more interesting stuff from Dawkins. It makes me wonder if such "queerness" should be taken seriously, why can't a conception of God.
In a word: evidence.

Thanks for the link, that was interesting.
 
Posted by PanHeraclitean (Member # 3120) on :
 
I don't even want to think of touching that after having watched that last Dawkins clip. Evidence is as good for what he said as tooth fairies, At least there is a substantial body of believers for God and they have what could count as very probable evidence when weighed against the "queerness" of science.

The last part was very interesting to me about how we are programmed as social animals and scientific explanation doesn't get you very far in the social sphere. Yet fixing the faulty part in the child-murderer makes me think a lot of "love your neighbor as yourself" or "love your enemy". That is a very real application for fixing the faulty part, don't you think?
 
Posted by Adam Lassek (Member # 1514) on :
 
quote:
I don't even want to think of touching that after having watched that last Dawkins clip. Evidence is as good for what he said as tooth fairies, At least there is a substantial body of believers for God and they have what could count as very probable evidence when weighed against the "queerness" of science.
Nonsense. Quantum mechanics is very weird, but as he states the theory is very accurate. A theory that consistently predicts the outcome of experiments within a very small margin of error is considered to be true. We know rocks and crystals are mostly empty space because we have evidence for it (that empty space is the reason why 'critical mass' exists with nuclear material). These things are weird simply because our brains never evolved to perceive things at an atomic or quantum level.

Science is true because it collects and predicts evidence, not because a lot of people choose to believe in it. All scientific conclusions are tentative and subject to change if new evidence becomes available.

In fact, your second sentence is totally incomprehensible to me. It doesn't matter how many people believe in something; that doesn't make it any more or less likely to be true. Something is true or not, regardless of what anybody believes. And there is simply no empirical evidence for God. In fact, religious faith specifically eschews evidence. Faith that eschews evidence is a form of solipsism; whether they will admit it or not, most religious people seem to behave as if believing in something makes it true. I can give you case after case where this has proven to be wrong.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Adam Lassek:
quote:
Bertrand Russell generally defended his own point of view. He didn't set out to get those who disagreed with him marginalized or locked up.
I agree with Tom, this is a serious misrepresentation bordering on defamation.
Actually, Tom accused me of "slander" [Roll Eyes] And while just about any statement, true or false, may border on defamation in England when the victim is rich and famous, the standards in America are a lot higher.

quote:
Show me where Dawkins has ever suggested such a thing.
How about calling religious people irrational and child abusers?

Calling someone "Irrational" is marginalizing them.
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
Pete-

Are you claiming that religious beliefs are "rational?"
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by seekingprometheus:
quote:
And what makes you the ultimate universal authority on what the beliefs of other people mean to them?
[Big Grin]

I didn't say "any conversation about what someone's beliefs mean to them." I said "any conversation about God."

The reason these conversations get so hot and heavy is because they are really about authority. ...

The real issue is authority.

Only because you keep citing yourself as authority for what the "real issue" is.

quote:
The underlying theme behind theists arguments is that refusing to acknowledge an absolute authority behind personal values is a mistake.
I'm a theist, and you keep on implying that I've done what you said, but you have yet to show me where I've asked anyone to acknowledge an absolute authority behind personal values.

I acknowledge that you don't acknowledge God's existence, and I've not asked you to accept God's values as absolute. So why do you continue to insist that all theists are absolutists?

quote:
My personal view is that anything that ain't omnipotent just ain't God.
Ah, so if I say I know God exists but that I doubt that he's omnipotent, would that make me an atheist by your account? [LOL]
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
quote:
Ah, so if I say I know God exists but that I doubt that he's omnipotent, would that make me an atheist by your account?
I've said before that that the being you claim to know exists seems to quite clearly be a demigod.

If asked what kind of "ist" you would be by my account, I'd say a polytheist. [Smile]

As for these comments of mine:
"Any conversation about God is ultimately about authority.

Insisting that God is personal is all about insisting that certain personal values are the ultimate universal authority. "

and

"The reason these conversations get so hot and heavy is because they are really about authority. The underlying theme behind atheist arguments is that accepting personalized values as having some metaphysical authority in the universe is a mistake. The underlying theme behind theists arguments is that refusing to acknowledge an absolute authority behind personal values is a mistake.

The real issue is authority. "

These statements of course represent my opinion. Sorry if that isn't clear enough.

Since you seem to disagree, I'm curious why you think the conflict of this particular subject is so intense.

I recognize that you dislike the sound of absolutism, but note that I haven't insisted that theists are absolutists. I've simply said theists arguments boil down to positing an absolute authority. Whether this authority is moral, as in a reason for calling something good or evil outside of one's subjective values, or creative, as in positing fundamental source of ontology, this issue is at the heart of theistic arguments.

And I repeat my question: Are you claiming that religious beliefs are rational?

You keep attacking anyone who calls such beliefs irrational, but I have yet to hear you claim that such beliefs are rational.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
quote:
Actually, Tom accused me of "slander"
Pete, it's the worst sort of pedant who immediately jumps to the legal definition. If I'd been that sort, I would have used the word "libel" or something, anyway. What, you think I'm suggesting that he press charges?

I stand by my use of the word. Check a dictionary if you disagree.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Actually, Tom accused me of "slander"
Pete, it's the worst sort of pedant who immediately jumps to the legal definition. If I'd been that sort, I would have used the word "libel" or something, anyway. What, you think I'm suggesting that he press charges?
No, I think you're trying very hard to give the impression that I've maligned him, despite the blitheringly obvious fact that Dawkins did exactly what I said he did.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
That's even goofier, sp, since polytheist by definition refers to multiple Gods, and I only believe in one God.

I'm not sure why your opinion of what the "real issue" is should matter. If I said that any conversation about Richard Dawkins is ultimately about authority is ultimately about authority, where does that leave us?

"I've simply said theists arguments boil down to positing an absolute authority."

Whether I like that or not is irrelevant. I simply asked you to quote my theistic argument that demonstrates your interesting claim, rather than asking me to accept it on force of your own authority.

"Whether this authority is moral, as in a reason for calling something good or evil outside of one's subjective values" --

Why can't a subjective authority be moral, as in based on that authority's subjective values? Why do you reject the idea of relative values, i.e. values based on a culture or on God, or on some other free-willed philosopher? [Smile]
 
Posted by PanHeraclitean (Member # 3120) on :
 
Adam, my point is not that belief makes something true. My point is that the evidence that these poeple have would be as "accurate" as quantum when you take a look at the complexity of their situations. Sure you can say it is brain states, but what causes the brains states. Once you get that you have lots of options as to why it is interpreted as a religious experience. Sure some may be gullible enough to say "it's a miracle". But there is more complexity to belief than just blind faith.

I love how you say faith eschews evidence and then follow up with any faith the eschews evidence is solipsistic. How does faith eschew evidence? Again I will say that we can does the ad infinitum for material causality. But most people aren't satisfied with the training that atheists go through to be able to just say the why to things is not important. How is that trait beneficial for man?

Radio silence commencing until next saturday night. Feel free to email if you want.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 2763) on :
 
quote:
But most people aren't satisfied with the training that atheists go through to be able to just say the why to things is not important. How is that trait beneficial for man?
My experience is that atheists are quite interested in "why", which is why they get so torqued about religious people just saying "God" every time we get to a place of ignorance. Answering a question of "why" with "God" blocks investigation for what may be (and often has turned out to be) a non-God answer to the question. God is a universal false positive.
 
Posted by Everard (Member # 104) on :
 
"My point is that the evidence that these poeple have would be as "accurate" as quantum when you take a look at the complexity of their situations. "

I would both agree and disagree with that. The evidence of one person's experience is accurate evidence of that person's experience. And this evidence is as strong for measuring that person's existence, as an example of quantum tunneling would be within quantum theory. And both are accurate peices of data.

The thing is, though, that the former peice of evidence only measures the person's internal experience, not anything about the exterior world. On the other hand, the evidence of quantum tunneling tells us something about the exterior world... not internal experiences.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 99) on :
 
quote:
I think you're trying very hard to give the impression that I've maligned him, despite the blitheringly obvious fact that Dawkins did exactly what I said he did.
No. You're misrepresenting him, but I believe you're doing it out of ignorance rather than bad faith. I again strongly recommend that you read the book, since you're spending a lot of time arguing against positions he doesn't hold.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
Well, my little passage through several days of anemic patheticness has passed, and not only can I now once again stand for more than a few minutes without growing dizzy (o come on, ye willows, and weep for me awreddy! [Wink] , I can also focus positively enough to continue the exhausting but exalting work of creating imaginary people in imaginary settings and moving them about according to my almighty will.

So I will leave y'all for several days, leave Pete to his splendid collection of straw men and rag dolls, and resume the grueling chore of playing god.

Decisions, decisons... I've decided to keep the cannibals and designed a happenstance continuum that plausibly justifies their existence. Now, then: do I keep the giant sand worms? If I do, do they metabolize more or less conventionally a la carbohydrate organics? Or should they subsist on isotopic radiation?

I, their god, am a somewhat silly god, but who can pass up a chance to include giant sand worms, huh?

This caught my eye:

"You keep attacking anyone who calls such beliefs irrational, but I have yet to hear you claim that such beliefs are rational."

To do so would be irrational, you see. The best one can do from that platform is to distract attention away from the fact by denouncing one's critics as bigots for daring to point out the inherent irrationality of the metaphysical.

Or, like Steve Martin said regarding his passion for the hobby of cat-juggling and the problem of fitting it into his busy schedule as a Holly wood star:

"I juggle in my *mind*..."

Amen, bro.

And yes, I felt that my religious upbringing consituted a form of child abuse. Unwitting but nonetheless damaging to my psyche.

But I also note that we humans seem to have an enormous appetite for bunkum, and a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. I don't think it's possible for us to exist without the belief that the cosmos somehow cares about us.

I suppose there's a rational aspect to this. If one were to ask the cosmos how much does it love us, we could accept as answer the entire lambda wave breadth of space-time.

Saith the cosmos, arms spread wide, "THIS much."

Yea mon.

ciao
 
Posted by DaveS (Member # 2734) on :
 
This is as good a thread as any to post this article from yesterday's NY Times magazine on how/why humans have developed religious beliefs. The article is called "Darwin's God". It's long, but this is a representative excerpt:
quote:
The magic-box demonstration [described earlier] helped set Atran on a career studying why humans might have evolved to be religious, something few people were doing back in the ’80s. Today, the effort has gained momentum, as scientists search for an evolutionary explanation for why belief in God exists — not whether God exists, which is a matter for philosophers and theologians, but why the belief does.

This is different from the scientific assault on religion that has been garnering attention recently, in the form of best-selling books from scientific atheists who see religion as a scourge.
...
Lost in the hullabaloo over the neo-atheists is a quieter and potentially more illuminating debate. It is taking place not between science and religion but within science itself, specifically among the scientists studying the evolution of religion. These scholars tend to agree on one point: that religious belief is an outgrowth of brain architecture that evolved during early human history. What they disagree about is why a tendency to believe evolved, whether it was because belief itself was adaptive or because it was just an evolutionary byproduct, a mere consequence of some other adaptation in the evolution of the human brain.


 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
Pete-

I note that you have still refused to answer my question. I'll repeat it yet again:

Are you claiming that religious beliefs are rational?
quote:
That's even goofier, sp, since polytheist by definition refers to multiple Gods, and I only believe in one God.
I'm reminded of all the times you've suggested that if we plied believers in omnipotence with a little cross-examination, we'd find that they didn't *really* believe in an omnipotent God.
quote:
Whether I like that or not is irrelevant. I simply asked you to quote my theistic argument that demonstrates your interesting claim, rather than asking me to accept it on force of your own authority.
I actually don't recall having heard theistic arguments from you. At least not in this thread. I would characterize most of what I've heard from you as ad hominem attacks.

I can't even get you to commit to saying whether or not theistic beliefs are rational. You seem to simply declare that anyone who argues that theistic beliefs are irrational is bigoted.
quote:
Why can't a subjective authority be moral, as in based on that authority's subjective values?
Because you're not positing a subjective authority here. You're positing an objective authority. The subjective reality of God is inaccessible to you and me.
quote:
Why do you reject the idea of relative values, i.e. values based on a culture or on God, or on some other free-willed philosopher?
I don't reject the idea of relative values. You use the word relative here, but you don't seem to understand what such a term means. It seems that perhaps you're missing this because you don't realize that you're positing an absolute point from which all values are determined. In other words, even if all values are "based upon" the doctrine of some "free-willed philosopher," you're still claiming that all value must determined by the relation of the subject/event to that absolute point (in this case, the point would be the "teachings" of our free-willed philosopher).

I'm not even claiming that this is wrong or mistaken--I'm simply claiming that you're positing an absolute.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by seekingprometheus:
Pete-

I note that you have still refused to answer my question. I'll repeat it yet again:

Are you claiming that religious beliefs are rational?

Are you claiming that secular beliefs are rational?

There's nothing inherently rational or irrational about religious beliefs. Some religious beliefs are rational, some are not, depending on the belief and on the facts available to the believer.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
quote:
In other words, even if all values are "based upon" the doctrine of some "free-willed philosopher," you're still claiming that all value must determined by the relation of the subject/event to that absolute point (in this case, the point would be the "teachings" of our free-willed philosopher).
No; you're the one inserting the word "must" into the discussion; I never musterbated here. [Big Grin] Please quote where I claimed that "all value must determined by the relation of the subject/event to that absolute point (in this case, the point would be the "teachings" of our free-willed philosopher)."

I choose to assess some values in relation to my understanding of Jesus' teachings. My understanding of those teachings changes. I find those teachings a useful point of reference for settling certain moral issues. Probably if Jesus' teachings were more comprehensive, I'd use them more comprehensively, but this is where we are.

quote:
That's even goofier, sp, since polytheist by definition refers to multiple Gods, and I only believe in one God.
------------------------------------
I'm reminded of all the times you've suggested that if we plied believers in omnipotence with a little cross-examination, we'd find that they didn't *really* believe in an omnipotent God.

Your point being?

quote:
Why can't a subjective authority be moral, as in based on that authority's subjective values?
------------------------------
Because you're not positing a subjective authority here. You're positing an objective authority.

Where did *I* posit an objective authority? Seems like you're making assumptions.

quote:
The subjective reality of God is inaccessible to you and me.
Funny, I don't recall saying that God is inaccessible to me. What's your authority for telling me my relationship to God?

Seems to me like you're projecting your beliefs system onto me. I'm not doing that to you. I tried to get you to identify your belief system last week and you shied away from "labels."

quote:
I'm simply claiming that you're positing an absolute.
I know that's your claim; I'm asking you to back it up based on what *I* said, without inserting your assumptions about my beliefs.
 
Posted by Pete at Home (Member # 429) on :
 
"It seems that perhaps you're missing this because you don't realize that you're positing an absolute point from which all values are determined."

I am unaware of any point from which all values are determined, and to my knowledge, you're the only one on this thread to posit such a point.
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
"That's even goofier, sp, since polytheist by definition refers to multiple Gods, and I only believe in one God. "

One demigod, per the omnipotence/absolutism test. The concept of a demigod implies one of four things: either there are other gods to which the demigod is inferior (polytheism); there are no other gods ('monodemitheism'); there are other demigods and they are none of them greater than your demigod; or there is only the one demigod, who is neither omnipotent nor omniscient, but mighty dang smart and powerful.

One of these may well be Mormon doctrine (I believe it would be the first choice but I don't know if the matter is doctrinally settled or not), but that is not the common Xtian belief.

However, I note that the prevailing convention that God is omni this-or-that is rife with paradoxes that the common Xtian senses without necessarily articulating. Indeed, many or perhaps most of them don't *really* believe in an omnipotent god.

But most of them aren't particularly interested in pondering the paradoxes of omnipotence and omniscience. They are most of them quite copmfortable with a God who is all-powerful and all-knowing, who believes God made everything.

These are the common Xtians to which, I believe, Dawkins refers, not the theological hair splitters who counting dancing angels on the head of a pin (that you can hear drop in the middle of a hushed Mormon Tabernacle, one of the coolest buildings ever).

The common Xtians who say 'thy will be done o Lord' and, however sincere they are or aren't at the moment of utterance, or however much they may recant or refute or obstruct the divine will that may be done, do believe that the lord can pretty much do whatever He wants.

"Funny, I don't recall saying that God is inaccessible to me."

The subjective reality of God: can you read His mind too?
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
quote:
Please quote where I claimed that "all value must determined by the relation of the subject/event to that absolute point
This is what positing God amounts to--at least the traditional western God.

This is not necessarily the case for any version of God, but it is the case for any postulation which defines morality (or physical creation in a more abstract sense) in terms of "what is right in the eyes of God" i.e. the position of traditional western theism.

Now you may not hold to traditional western theism, but your insistence that I quote you to substantiate these comments seems to be a product of conflation of the issues you and I personally disagree upon and the larger issue at which my comments are aimed, which is the conflict between theism and atheism.

For the next issue, let me isolate the context:

Me: My personal view is that anything that ain't omnipotent just ain't God.

Pete: ...so if I say I know God exists but that I doubt that he's omnipotent, would that make me an atheist by your account?

Me: I've said before that that the being you claim to know exists seems to quite clearly be a demigod. If asked what kind of "ist" you would be by my account, I'd say a polytheist.

Pete: That's even goofier, sp, since polytheist by definition refers to multiple Gods, and I only believe in one God.

Me: I'm reminded of all the times you've suggested that if we plied believers in omnipotence with a little cross-examination, we'd find that they didn't *really* believe in an omnipotent God.

Pete: Your point being?

My answer: My point being that if we examine your beliefs, I think that we'll find that it is quite accurate to state that you believe in multiple gods (I could be wrong--since I don't know what you believe in, but I assume that you believe in mormon theology, and I do know mormon theology--and mormon theology is clearly polytheistic).

Not only does mormon theology posit three distinct deities as completely separate intelligences/spirits/entities (two of whom are physical in nature) but all three are subject to a higher authority (clearly demigods), which is vaguely defined as eternal laws. This alone is sufficient warrant for the claim that such a theology is polytheistic, but it doesn't end there. The mormon theology also claims that God the father historically went through a trial period of mortality himself--which implies that he was once subject to a separate and distinct god himself. The further claim exists that there are "worlds without end" with the definite implication that there are deities without end.

Polytheism.

Perhaps I'm mistaken and you don't believe in mormon theology, in which case perhaps you aren't a polytheist, but you did ask for my "account," and by my accounting you're a polytheist. [Smile]

quote:
Funny, I don't recall saying that God is inaccessible to me.
Kenmeer already pointed out your fallacy here, but in case you missed it, the point is that you don't have access to the subjective reality of God. You may have access to God as an object, but not the subjective reality of God--unless of course, you're claiming to actually be God.
 
Posted by Adam Lassek (Member # 1514) on :
 
quote:
Pete said:
How about calling religious people irrational and child abusers?

I see you're backpedaling from the "locked up" statement. Okay, let's talk child abuse.

quote:
...I received a letter from an American woman in her forties who had been brought up Roman Catholic. At the age of seven, she told me, two unpleasant things had happened to her. She was sexually abused by her parish priest in his car. And, around the same time, a little schoolfriend of hers, who tragically died, went to hell because she was a Protestant. Or so my correspondent had been lead to believe by the official doctrine of her parents' church. Her view as a mature adult was that, of these two examples of Roman Catholic child abuse, the one physical and the other mental, the second was by far the worst. She wrote:
quote:
Being fondled by the priest simply left the impression (from the mind of a 7 year old) as 'yucky' while the memory of my friend going to hell was one of cold, immeasurable fear. I never lost sleep because of the priest -- but I spent many a night being terrified that the people I loved would go to Hell. It gave me nightmares.
Admittedly, the sexual fondling she suffered in the priest's car was relatively mild compared with, say, the pain and disgust of a sodomized alter boy. And nowadays the Catholic Church is said not to make so much of hell as it once did. But the example shows that it is at least possible for psychological abuse of children to outclass physical.
(pages 317-318)
quote:
Another of my television interviewees was Pastor Keenan Roberts, from the same state of Colorado as Pastor Ted. Pastor Robert's particular brand of nuttiness takes the form of what he calls Hell Houses. A Hell House is a place where children are brought, by their parents or their Christian schools, to be scared witless over what might happen to them after they die. Actors play out fearsome tableaux of particular 'sins' like abortion and homosexuality, with a scarlet-clad devil in gloating attendance. These are a prelude to the piece de resistance, Hell Itself, complete with realistic sulphurous smell of burning brimstone and the agonized screams of the forever damned.

After watching a rehearsal, in which the devil was suitably diabolical in the hammed-up style of a villian of Victorian melodrama, I interviewed Pastor Roberts in the presence of his cast. He told me that the optimum age for a child to visit a Hell House is twelve. This shocked me somewhat, and I asked him whether it would worry him if a twelve-year-old child had nightmares after one of his performances. He replied, presumably honestly:
quote:
I would rather for them to understand that Hell is a place that they absolutely do not want to go. I would rather reach them with that message at twelve than to not reach them with that message and have them live a life of sin and never find the Lord Jesus Christ. And if they end up having nightmares, as a result of experiencing this, I think there's a higher good that would ultimately be achieved and accomplished in their life than simply having nightmares.
I suppose that, if you really and truly believed what Pastor Roberts says he believes, you would feel it right to intimidate children too.
...
Whatever they believe hell is actually like, all these hell-fire enthusiasts seem to share the gloating Schaudenfreude and complacency of these who know they are among the saved, well conveyed by that foremost among theologians, St Thomas Aquinas, in Summa Theologica: 'That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more abundantly they are permitted to see the punishment of the damned in hell.' Nice man.

(pages 319-321)
quote:
After my television documentary on religion, among the many letters I received was this, from an obviously bright and honest woman:
quote:
I went to Catholic school from the age of five, and was indoctrinated by nuns who wielded straps, sticks and canes. During my teens I read Darwin, and what he said about evolution made such a lot of sense to the logical part of my mind. However, I've gone through life suffering much conflict and a deep down fear of hell fire which gets triggered quite frequently. I've had some psychotherapy which has enabled me to work through some of my earlier problems but can't seem to overcome this deep fear.


(page 321)

What Dawkins is describing goes far beyond merely teaching your children what you believe to be true. This is coercion and mental abuse.

As for calling religious people irrational? I didn't realize that was even controversial. Belief without evidence is fundamentally irrational. People base their opinions, politics, publicly deny scientific evidence and structure their entire lives upon a book which is littered with demonstrable falsehoods. This is not rational. It doesn't mean they're incapable of reason, but their core beliefs are frequently made for bad reasons: emotion, tradition, indoctrination, fear, coercion. I can't pretend to know the reasons why all people believe, but I do know that the empirical evidence for their belief is insufficient.
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
Me: "It seems that perhaps you're missing this because you don't realize that you're positing an absolute point from which all values are determined."

Pete: "I am unaware of any point from which all values are determined, and to my knowledge, you're the only one on this thread to posit such a point."

Traditional western theism determines the value of all events in terms of "God's" values. Good and Evil. By this logic something good for God is Good regardless of whether or not it's good for me. (In fact, I don't doubt that many if not most theists might contend that nothing that is good for God can be defined as bad for me).

This really isn't a difficult point to understand, and I don't believe that such an assertion is really that controversial. In my opinion, the quibbling which has gone on around such an assertion is simply chaff tossed up to obfuscate the issue.

If you really want to disagree with this position Pete, you're going to have to argue that what is good for God is not necessarily good. (And I'll happily agree).

[ March 06, 2007, 12:45 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
quote:
There's nothing inherently rational or irrational about religious beliefs. Some religious beliefs are rational, some are not, depending on the belief and on the facts available to the believer.
Irrational is a negative term which encompasses everything and anything that is not contained by the term rational.

If it's not rational, it's irrational.

Let's get to a specific belief--is it rational to believe that "God" will protect you from harm?
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
Don't know why I listed 4 kinds of demigods when 2 of the 4 are identical. Tired brain.
 
Posted by seekingprometheus (Member # 3043) on :
 
Hmmm.

I just noticed...

At least part of the rationalism/irrationalism theme seems to have been transplanted from the "In God We Trust" thread. I don't know how much of that was my conflation of the threads and how much of that was natural and relevant to our discussion here.

Sorry if I've created confusion--but I do think that this theme is relevant to this discussion--if we can get back from the tangents to the original issue.
 
Posted by DaveS (Member # 2734) on :
 
If you'll let me use a little more rope to conflate even more, we have a daisy chain tying various themes/memes together.

1. God exists
..1a. People believe that God exists
2. God's reveals himself in the bible
..2a. People believe that the bible is God's word
3. The bible doesn't provide empirical evidence for God's existence
..3a. People believe in the authority and authenticity of the bible
4. Belief in God is therefore subjective
..4a. People who believe in God are going beyond reason (applying a "leap of faith")
5. People are biologically predisposed to believe in God
..5a. People believe that God exists.

The circularity is the connection between God exists and our genetic makeup that makes us biologically predisposed to believe that God exists. It's not that we are irrational if we believe that God exists, but that belief in God is the ultimate expression of predeterminism. It's not insulting to suggest that people who believe that God exists can't help themselves. It's those of us who don't believe that are, if you will, lacking something, and that something is a biological OEM component. I.e., perhaps we're not more reasonable for not believing, and they're not less reasonable for believing. Further, God is truly in believers, just as they claim.

The conflation here (on Ornery) is that all threads about the existence of God are about the nature of belief, not actually about the fact of God's existence. Thus, questions from one thread naturally bleed over into others, because there is only One True Thread [Smile] .

[Edited to add: All of this is conjecture and just my opinion. Not meaning to offend.]

[ March 06, 2007, 11:10 AM: Message edited by: DaveS ]
 
Posted by kenmeer livermaile (Member # 2243) on :
 
There is no thread but thread and Dave S is its messenger.

Imagine the sound of an old dial-up modem as a muzzein's prayer.

[ March 06, 2007, 07:22 PM: Message edited by: kenmeer livermaile ]
 


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