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  Topic: Fanatical Evangelism, of both theistic and atheistic flavors< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Wesley R. Elsberry



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Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,08:52   

This thread is here to offload the theist/atheist flame wars from PT. Have at it.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
normdoering



Posts: 287
Joined: July 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,09:10   

Well, I'm here if anyone wants to continue...

Stephen Elliott, I found your answers interesting toward the end. What you said about your dying father lets me see that you have a deep desire to believe in God. It seemed very honest.

  
Flint



Posts: 478
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,09:31   

norm:

Fill me in on what the debate was about. Or alternatively, say something stupid. I'll be glad to reciprocate.

  
normdoering



Posts: 287
Joined: July 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,09:36   

Quote
I do not know how to answer you. Anything I say you will turn into an argument.


Is it an argument? I'm just trying to understand why you claim to believe in God. Of course I fit your answers into my own context and explain them from an atheistic point of view and it appears to be an "argument" to you because you resist that context.

Quote
... maybe there is more happening than we can comprehend.


I'm sure there is. But I think I'm begining to comprehend why you believe in God -- because you want there to  be one. You want there to be more to this life than we can see.

Quote
If you think everything in the universe falls into the scientific method….


There's only one way to find out how far science can take us and that's to follow it. I do think science has more potential for truthful answers than religion.

  
normdoering



Posts: 287
Joined: July 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,09:42   

Quote (Flint @ Jan. 13 2006,15:31)
norm:

Fill me in on what the debate was about. Or alternatively, say something stupid. I'll be glad to reciprocate.

Read here:
http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/01/kenneth_miller.html

  
normdoering



Posts: 287
Joined: July 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,10:23   

JONBOY (in the Colbert original thread) wrote:

Quote
I believe according to some polls, about half of all scientist find a way to accommodate their religious beliefs to their scientific ideas,....


According to this survey:

http://www.atheists.org/flash.line/atheism1.htm

It's a bit less than half and strikingly different from the general public where god belief is much higher. Science either creates atheists, or atheists are attracted to science.

  
Bulman



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Joined: Nov. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,10:34   

There could always be a third variable....

rational thinking skills/aptitude.

  
Flint



Posts: 478
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,11:05   

I'd be more inclined to credit the recruitment function more than any other. At least in Western religious traditions, science comes across as largely superfluous - God has already told us all the meaningful answers. So those who find science attractive are those who do not accept, or are not satisfied by, the Received Wisdoms the Western tradition provides.

  
Mr_Christopher



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,11:22   

Since science itself is apolitical and skeptical, meaning it thrives on evidence and shuns assertions and could care less about your religious or political beliefs.  Unless of course your political/religiosu beliefs include hostility towards science.

That coupled with the fact that religious belief does not lend itself well to the scientific method (by definition faith has nothing to do with evidence)  I think science is an atheist friendly environment thus we see a higher percentage of them there than in other socio groups.  

I don't see the notion that science causes atheism.  Since science is not hostile to atheists, is based on skepticism (the root of atheism in my opinion) so it makes sense that they tend to collect in that arena.

I think if you poll atheists (who were former theists such as myself) they will tell you their disbelief had nothing to do with evolution theory or science.  

I was a believer the first 30 years of my life and when I drop kicked my belief in God (about 15 years ago) I knew absolutley nothing about evolution and paid no real attention to science or science writers.  

I could be wrong but I suspect that is the same for most atheist/agnostics.   But I must admit, even though I was a beliver I knew at the time no way in heck the universe was slapped together in 6 days.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist or a molecular biologist to figure that one out.

One need not "believe" in or even know about Darwin or science to reject theism as a way or life or world view.

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Uncommon Descent is a moral cesspool, a festering intellectual ghetto that intoxicates and degrades its inhabitants - Stephen Matheson

  
haceaton



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,12:37   

Quote
by definition faith has nothing to do with evidence


I found this parenthetical statement interesting. I'm not sure I agree with it, but I guess it depends on your definition of faith. If you can lose faith, then maybe that loss has a basis in evidence and so faith does depend on evidence.

I am an atheist, but I have faith that the scientific method is the best method we will ever have for learning about and understanding things in the world/universe. My faith is based on experience. I have faith that most scientists won't publish fraudulent papers and I further have faith that most of those who do (at least if they have interesting implications) will eventually be discovered.

I can't possibly replicate all experiments myself in order to prove various scientific facts and laws, but I accept the well-accepted ones that have a large body of published experiments/observations on faith. But this faith was earned and based on experience/evidence.

Many religious people have a faith based on authority, history, popularity etc. (e.g. their parents told them so from infancy, so it must be true.). They often claim that these are not evidences, yet sometimes religious people lose their faith based on life experiences, research etc.

I find it interesting that bible says that God requires man to have faith in him without proof, yet the bible has many stories where Jesus performed miracles which seem to me for the sole purpose of providing proof of his powers.

  
Flint



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,13:32   

haceaton:

Your post reminds me of the joke where the wife demands that her husband tell her what he believes, and he replies "I believe I'll have another beer."

Your use of the phrase "have faith" could be replaced by "assign a high probability based on observation" without changing your meaning. The usage followed by religious people would make such a substitution meaningless.

I think we're dealing with more than straight semantics here, personally.

  
Mr_Christopher



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,14:06   

Quote (haceaton @ Jan. 13 2006,18:37)
Quote
by definition faith has nothing to do with evidence


I found this parenthetical statement interesting. I'm not sure I agree with it, but I guess it depends on your definition of faith. If you can lose faith, then maybe that loss has a basis in evidence and so faith does depend on evidence.

I was not clear, I meant religious faith.  Religious faith is not based on evidence, by definition that is.  I recognize some people base their faith on what they call evidence or justify it with evidence, but I think if they had good evidence for a God they don't need faith.

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Uncommon Descent is a moral cesspool, a festering intellectual ghetto that intoxicates and degrades its inhabitants - Stephen Matheson

  
haceaton



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,15:37   

Quote
The usage followed by religious people would make such a substitution meaningless.


Have you ever known or heard of a religious person who has had their [religious] faith "shaken", or "lost"?

If so, and religious faith has no basis in evidence, do you know what might have caused the change in faith? Presumably it can't be any earthly events. Have these people reported that God spoke to them and that shook their fiath?

I do know a few people that have lost faith and a few others that have had their faith "challanged", but survived. In all cases they reported to me that events in their lives [or those of their loved ones] was responsible for the change in faith. If religious faith did not depend in the first place on any evidence or experience, how did earthly events cause changes in this faith?

Also consider the flip side: people who have faith. Did they aquire this faith without any experience, teaching, or study? Since it was not based on "evidence" how did it come about? Consider the person who had never heard of God, never had any religious thoughts, feelings or experiences, yet one day claimed they they had faith in god based on nothing happening at all. That would be strange wouldn't it? Suppose instead they said God sent an angel that spoke to them which was the source of their faith. Wasn't this experience evidence of God that led to their faith?

A fundamentalist Christian friend of mine once said something to me that I found absurd. He told me "don't you think you should belive in God just in case there really is one! No joke, I think he thought saying that might help me believe. To me it is absurd to think that somebody could decide to believe something (have faith) with no experience, or indoctrination to base it on.

I'll agree that most likely we'll get nowhere asking believers to search for the basis of their faith, but I have faith that everyone does have a basis, and this basis can be considered evidence. e.g. "My parents, priest, and friends told me and they have taught me all the other things about  life and the world that have guided me" would be evidence (of the weakest kind) to hang their faith on.

  
Flint



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,16:48   

haceaton:

Quote
If so, and religious faith has no basis in evidence, do you know what might have caused the change in faith?

Evidence. This is not a contradiction. The "unborn again" stories I've heard, of those who have managed to escape the fetters of faith, tend to describe an "AHA!" experience where the essential nature of evidence suddenly struck home. They tended to recognize that if reality is to be the judge, the claims being shoved on them were, uh, lies. But lies can't be identified without some profound "compared to what"? Evidence.

Quote
If religious faith did not depend in the first place on any evidence or experience, how did earthly events cause changes in this faith?

I can only expand on my speculation here. I work with a couple of Believers, and after some (reasonably polite and thoughtful) discussion with them, I've come to realize that they have roped off the "faith territory" pretty specifically. Of course, one would expect something similar, since the rejection of reality some faiths require, if broadly applied, would render them incapable of functioning at all. And I've noticed that within that territory, evidence is simply not admitted, the rules of logic and inference are inoperative, eyes glaze over and the professions of faith (in the sense of, I believe it, that settles it) are all that's left.

So what I think sometimes happens is, Reality ™ on some rare occasions breaks the barriers and invades this territory.

Quote
Also consider the flip side: people who have faith. Did they aquire this faith without any experience, teaching, or study? Since it was not based on "evidence" how did it come about?

Here is where St. Thomas Aquinas agrees with Piaget: Give me a child until the age of 7, and I will shape his faith. After that, anyone can have him, and the faith is secure. Dawkins has speculated (admitting it's wooly speculation, to be sure) that humans have such a very long period before reaching maturity that a survival trait has evolved: in early childhood, a kind of imprinting occurs, where the child takes *at face value* what it is told. Things like "don't touch hot stove, don't eat THAT, God is good, use the potty." Dawkins thinks this *biological* propensity willy-nilly gives parents immense power over a stonkingly large range of their child's future development. In all good faith, they can produce a John Stuart Mill or a Kent Hovind before the child is old enough for kindergarten.

Quote
Consider the person who had never heard of God, never had any religious thoughts, feelings or experiences, yet one day claimed they they had faith in god based on nothing happening at all. That would be strange wouldn't it?

My position is that beyond a certain age, this *does not happen.* It can't. Could YOU suddenly embrace the mythical Christ?

Quote
Suppose instead they said God sent an angel that spoke to them which was the source of their faith. Wasn't this experience evidence of God that led to their faith?

Now you're losing me. I recently read that self-professed UFO abductees almost always suffer from sleep paralysis, an otherwise uncommon malady. The effect feels like being tied down, and happens during a period of intense dreaming. I have personally worked with people who *sincerely heard* voices in the walls. At first, the voices frightened them - they knew perfectly well there were no voices in the walls. But this didn't prevent the voices from being audible and understandable, any more than someone who's had a leg amputated is prevented from an exasperating itch on the missing foot.

So the human brain plays nontrivial tricks with our perceptions. Which permits otherwise perfectly rational, evidence-demanding people to see ghosts, hear the Voice of God, experience aliens and out-of-body voyages, see themselves surrounded by pervasive conspiracies, and then build superstructures around these experiences they talk themselves into beyond extrication. I've seem aliens marching across the road myself, when I've been driving half-asleep and lighting conditions are just right.

Quote
A fundamentalist Christian friend of mine once said something to me that I found absurd. He told me "don't you think you should belive in God just in case there really is one! No joke, I think he thought saying that might help me believe. To me it is absurd to think that somebody could decide to believe something (have faith) with no experience, or indoctrination to base it on.

I find this kind of thing disturbing. I simply cannot comprehend how *anyone* could actually believe some of the stunningly preposterous things they claim. So you say that there are these gods that don't DO anything, but are still all-powerful? Right. And one of them screwed a virgin, who gave birth to a demigod? Right. And that demigod did lots of miracles, but nobody noticed until a couple generations after he died, at which time they were "recalled" by people a thousand miles away who weren't at the scene? Right. Hello? Are we looking at physical, organic brain damage here? Either that, or the human capacity for self-delusion is so profound one marvels that we can tie our shoes and come in out of the rain. If Dawkins is right, surely we have grounds for capital punishment of their parents, for (usually) permanently crippling their children beyond hope of rehabilitation.

I'm quite sure that I could alter my sexual orientation so as to become aroused by corn (at least the young and succulent variety), before I could believe in any gods, at least in the absence of any evidence for them. And as far as I'm concerned, if there WERE any gods, the evidence would be, uh, unambiguous. And correspondingly, I suppose the True Believers could more easily lust after cornstalks than abandon their delusions.

Quote
I'll agree that most likely we'll get nowhere asking believers to search for the basis of their faith, but I have faith that everyone does have a basis, and this basis can be considered evidence.

I've always been most persuaded by the "indoctrination during the first few years" approach, though I admit it doesn't always "set up" fully, and for the lucky few, the nature and meaning of evidence eventually penetrates that roped-off area. As far as I know, my own preference for best-fit explanations of the preponderance of the evidence were ALSO forged in infancy. No easier to abandon than those indoctrinated into Faith before they were old enough to defend themselves.

  
Henry J



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,17:10   

Even if the original faith was without empircal evidence, I'd guess it could be affected by encountering contradictory evidence. (Take for example the ex-Creationists whose stories have shown up as posts of the month over on TalkOrigins.)

Henry

  
Flint



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,17:34   

Quote
Even if the original faith was without empircal evidence, I'd guess it could be affected by encountering contradictory evidence.

My take is that if contradictory evidence is considered even remotely possible, the faith-based position has been abandoned. For the True Believer, contradictory evidence is intrinsically impossible, to the point where it need not even be considered. God does not violate His own Word. If evidence *seems* to contradict God, it can only because our comprehension is so wildly inadequate. Fortunately, we *already* have God's answers, by comparison with which we can tell when we've gone off the rails. We may not have the horsepower to understand how or why we've gone off the rails, but we can at least know we've done so and work from there.

  
normdoering



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,18:04   

Quote (haceaton @ Jan. 13 2006,21:37)
... consider the flip side: people who have faith. Did they aquire this faith without any experience, teaching, or study? Since it was not based on "evidence" how did it come about?

Alas, this conversation now lacks Stephen Elliott who was answering that question.

Back on the thread where this started:
http://www.pandasthumb.org/archive....t-71213

Stephen Elliott wrote:
Quote
I can’t give you a rational answer.

However when my father was dying I cried out to God. I will not deny that. It might be nothing or it might be something. I do not know. But never again shall I pretend that I do not believe .

It has happened numerous times before. I always just “blew it away” previously.

  
Flint



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,18:16   

normdoering:

I'm reminded of Bill Veeck's statement, "I'm not handicapped, I'm crippled." (Veeck was confined to a wheelchair). Veeck didn't regard his physical shortcomings as a handicap in any way.

Stephen Elliot seems to be saying the inverse: "I'm not crippled, I'm handicapped." His brain works, but he doesn't know how to LET it work. It's one thing to recognize that one HAS a handicap. It seems something quite different to be determined to work around it, rather than wallow in it.

  
normdoering



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,18:26   

Quote (Flint @ Jan. 14 2006,00:16)
Stephen Elliot seems to be saying the inverse: "I'm not crippled, I'm handicapped." His brain works, but he doesn't know how to LET it work. It's one thing to recognize that one HAS a handicap. It seems something quite different to be determined to work around it, rather than wallow in it.

That's not the way I saw it. I said: "I don’t blame you. I’d want someone, something, the most improbable hope at all, to change the fate we all have to face. But I don’t confuse desire with belief."

I understood what he was talking about. I've wanted a god to intervene in tragedy too -- I've lost a few people close to me too. Haven't you? I don't call out to god first when I'm emotionally pushed to the edge by grief -- I do something even less rational -- I try to be god and will the tragedy away first, then I pray, then I cry, then I get rational.

I get rational only after the grief has passed.

  
Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,21:00   

Some very interesting comments.

The handicapped/crippled one is a bit confusing. I do not consider myself to be either. Perhaps you could explain more simply.

  
normdoering



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,22:13   

Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Jan. 14 2006,03:00)
Some very interesting comments.

The handicapped/crippled one is a bit confusing. I do not consider myself to be either. Perhaps you could explain more simply.

I was confused a bit by that too. Think of it as an implied question. What is implied is that you have some sort of crutch in your belief and that you would feel handicapped trying to get through life without out it -- I think.

I think you answered well enough by just saying you don't feel handicapped.

  
Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 13 2006,22:42   

The idea of there being no God does not abhor me. If this is it and all there is, then life can still be enjoyed.

In fact I would prefer that to the God some people believe in.

However I can't just pick and choose what I believe. Something in me thinks God does exist. Although I doubt God will turn out like the fundamentalists believe.

  
normdoering



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 14 2006,12:09   

Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Jan. 14 2006,04:42)
In fact I would prefer that to the God some people believe in.

On that we agree.

  
stevestory



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 14 2006,12:23   

Quote


Although I doubt God will turn out like the fundamentalists believe.



Indeed. Good Hitchens bit on this notion.

Quote


You seem to have guessed, from some remarks I have already made in passing, that I am not a religious believer. In order to be absolutely honest, I should not leave you with the impression that I am part of the generalized agnosticism of our culture. I'm not even an atheist so much as I am an antitheist; I not only maintain that all religions are versions of the same untruth, but I hold that the influence of churches, and the effect of religious belief, is positively harmful. Reviewing the false claims of religion I do not wish, as some sentimental agnostics affect to wish, that they were true. I do not envy believers their faith. I am relieved to think that the whole story is a sinister fairy tale; life would be miserable if what the faithful affirmed was actually the case.

Why do I say that? Well, there may be people who wish to live their lives under a cradle-to-grave divine supervision; a permanent surveillance and around the clock monitoring, a celestial North Korea. But I cannot personally imagine anything more horrible or grotesque.

When he repeated this on tv, he added "...endless opportunities for self-abnegation... in that last paragraph.

   
Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 14 2006,14:10   

I would agree that a lot of harm has been done in the name of religion. That does not neccessarily mean religion was the cause. More likely religion was the excuse. The real causes were more likely to be fear, hate or greed.

  
stevestory



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 14 2006,14:20   

religion can never promote fear, hate or greed?

   
Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 14 2006,14:47   

Quote (stevestory @ Jan. 14 2006,20:20)
religion can never promote fear, hate or greed?

Well I would agree that religion has been used to promote those.

But just about everything that people can use, can be used to do harm.

  
Russell



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 14 2006,16:47   

I look forward to the day (alas, not to be in my lifetime) when heaping scorn on God and religion will seem as absurd as venomous denunciations of phlogiston.

--------------
Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.

  
normdoering



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2006,01:48   

Quote (stevestory @ Jan. 14 2006,18:23)
Indeed. Good Hitchens bit on this notion.

And Hitchens suddenly reminded me of Jefferson:

http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/quotes/jefferson.htm
http://www.nobeliefs.com/jefferson.htm

And Jefferson called himself a Christian at times -- but he took a knife to his bible and cut out all the miracles and supernatural stuff.

  
Caledonian



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2006,03:43   

Religion has been used to excuse many things.  The problem is that religion (in the broadest sense) can excuse anything.  Once you place a belief beyond the reach of rational inquiry, you can 'justify' whatever you wish in the name of that belief.

Dostoyevsky had it backwards:  with God, everything is permitted.

  
Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2006,04:10   

I am not denying that religion has been used to promote bad things. What I believe though, is that in most religions to be used this way, you first have to corrupt it.

From the main monotheist religions, they tend to claim:

1) God is the creator of the universe.
2) God loves us.

Now to get people to commit atrocities for these religions you need to twist logic.

a) Clerics (whatever) need to convince people that God only loves the followers of one religious sect (obviously theirs).

b) God wants this sect to take vengance out on other people (also created by God but that has to be overlooked).

So my point is, yes religion has been used for immoral purposes. But normally requires people to believe stuff counter to it's original statements.

This is the reason that I am not fond of organised religion. Too many people end up letting other people tell them what to think. As for fundamentalism, well that is even worse.

  
Flint



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2006,05:26   

I think it might be more useful to regard religion as, at least in part, a fabrication constructed to justify in moral terms whatever people wanted to do anyway. It's not like any investigative reporter can independently interview your god(s) to see if you were *really* authorized, or if you just made it up.

Religion seems to perform two basic functions: It provides "explanations" for what isn't understood, so we don't have to admit ignorance. And it provides rationalizations for our own petty preferences that only a swearing contest can counter: God wants this. No he doesn't. Yes he does. Those whose self-interests are served, for some reason, are always on God's side. I've never heard of anyone whose prayers were answered by God telling them their opinion was incorrect.

  
Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2006,05:46   

Quote (Flint @ Jan. 15 2006,11:26)
I've never heard of anyone whose prayers were answered by God telling them their opinion was incorrect.

LOL. Neither have I.

You are not saying you know people who have had their prayers answered are you?

Thought not.

  
stevestory



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2006,05:54   

Stephen, you can't take a 1000 page book like the bible and reduce it to 'god exists and loves us'. There's plenty in the bible one can use to justify terrible acts, not the least of which is that in the end jesus becomes a mass murderer.

   
Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2006,05:59   

Quote (stevestory @ Jan. 15 2006,11:54)
Stephen, you can't take a 1000 page book like the bible and reduce it to 'god exists and loves us'. There's plenty in the bible one can use to justify terrible acts, not the least of which is that in the end jesus becomes a mass murderer.

That was not really what I was trying to do. I was just simplifying.

But to adress your comment.

You are of course correct that people can use the bible to justify all sorts of horrors. But I think you would need to take things out of context and/or warp them. That is why I dislike fundamentalism.

  
Flint



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2006,07:37   

Quote
You are not saying you know people who have had their prayers answered are you?

Everyone I know who prays, claims that ALL their prayers are answered. They pray for X, something happens A-Z, and this is God's Answer. Not what they prayed for because God is so much smarter and more knowledgeable than they are.

But, I ask, since things just keep on happening, how can you tell which thing was the answer? It's kind of like interpreting scripture. FIRST, decide what you want. THEN interpret it to suit.

But, I say, I don't pray at anything, yet things keep happening to me too. They explain that God watches over all of us, even atheists. But in that case, I ask, why bother believing or praying at all? The payoff is the same either way.

I guess they pray to get God's attention focused in the right direction. It very rarely works, but it does so for Good Reasons. Honest.

  
Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2006,08:37   

Quote (Flint @ Jan. 15 2006,13:37)
Everyone I know who prays, claims that ALL their prayers are answered. They pray for X, something happens A-Z, and this is God's Answer.

Fair point. But I know plenty of atheists/agnostics (theists are few in the UK) that are superstitious.

People who claim God is a silly idea, touching wood, greeting Mr. magpie and afraid of breaking mirrors etc,

Also there is a lot of people who wont miss reading their horroscope, but healing crystals....the list goes on. These are people that (often) claim religion to be irational.

Now that, I find ironic. :D

  
Caledonian



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2006,11:28   

Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Jan. 15 2006,10:10)
What I believe though, is that in most religions to be used this way, you first have to corrupt it.
 They're already corrupt.  No further corruption is necessary.

  
Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2006,11:41   

Quote (Caledonian @ Jan. 15 2006,17:28)
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Jan. 15 2006,10:10)
What I believe though, is that in most religions to be used this way, you first have to corrupt it.
 They're already corrupt.  No further corruption is necessary.

I don't agree with that. Are you sure you mean the religions? Rather than the church.

  
Russell



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2006,12:01   

Stephen Elliott seems to be saying that religions, originally ideal and/idealistic, get corrupted and misused.
Quote
From the main monotheist religions, they tend to claim:
1) God is the creator of the universe.
2) God loves us.  
(First of all, I see no reason to limit ourselves to "monotheistic" religions; why exclude Hinduism and Roman Catholicism?)

But I think originally religion and nationalism were pretty much the same thing. The "god" that ordered the Israelites to destroy the Amalekites, Moabites, etc. apparently was rather selective in his "love". As I understand it, the etymology of "religion" is uncertain, but may derive from the Latin "tie back" - as in roping in those independent individuals straying too far from the national core identity. (I.e., it was a lot like "patriotism" to right-wing Americans).

The idea of religion in a "multicultural" society is pretty new and untried; I don't know if it can be made to work. Clearly the fundamentalist flavors cannot. I'm not sure what others can.

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Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.

  
stevestory



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2006,12:46   

Simply looking at the bible, god seems to enjoy massacres under certain circumstances. There's no good argument against that. So the idea that religion has to be warped and perverted to justify atrocities is just not true. Religion is a fertile source of such justification.

The god of the bible just does not have the ethics we require nowadays.

   
Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2006,12:56   

:01-->
Quote (Russell @ Jan. 15 2006,18:01)
Stephen Elliott seems to be saying that religions, originally ideal and/idealistic, get corrupted and misused.
Quote
From the main monotheist religions, they tend to claim:
1) God is the creator of the universe.
2) God loves us.  
(First of all, I see no reason to limit ourselves to "monotheistic" religions; why exclude Hinduism and Roman Catholicism?)

But I think originally religion and nationalism were pretty much the same thing. The "god" that ordered the Israelites to destroy the Amalekites, Moabites, etc. apparently was rather selective in his "love". As I understand it, the etymology of "religion" is uncertain, but may derive from the Latin "tie back" - as in roping in those independent individuals straying too far from the national core identity. (I.e., it was a lot like "patriotism" to right-wing Americans).

The idea of religion in a "multicultural" society is pretty new and untried; I don't know if it can be made to work. Clearly the fundamentalist flavors cannot. I'm not sure what others can.

Remember that I am not a biblical literalist. Nor do I consider the bible inerant. Especially the OT.

For a start I consider Exodus to be way out of line. I do not believe that God would have carried out the plagues on Egypt or have ordered those mass slaughters.

Probably some ancients justification story.

Anyway I agree with this guy.

Quote
But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

  
stevestory



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2006,13:21   

If you're ignoring whole books of the bible, I think perhaps you are distorting the religion.

And that's a good thing, btw.

   
Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2006,13:38   

Quote (stevestory @ Jan. 15 2006,19:21)
If you're ignoring whole books of the bible, I think perhaps you are distorting the religion.

And that's a good thing, btw.

I supose I cherry pick. But so what?
I selectively read it because some parts sound ridiculous.

It is written by people and you only have to look at humanity to see how fallible we are.

But I am pretty sure I stated, I was not a fundamentalist ages ago.

  
Russell



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2006,14:31   

Quote
Remember that I am not a biblical literalist. Nor do I consider the bible inerant. Especially the OT.
Let me hasten to point out that [a] I never thought you were and [b] I - like Thomas Jefferson - am a "whateverist" and [c] I rather like and admire you, Stephen Elliott, as far as I know you through your comments. I'm just making some general observations about "religion".

And that is: God has always been made in man's image. When the Israelites were carving out a little lebensraum for themselves in the Middle East, a liberal, multicultural, every-Canaanite-is-beautiful-in-his-own-way  god would hardly fit the bill.  Nowadays, societies that realize they have to somehow accommodate more diversity find god to be more diversity-friendly than he used to be.

For me it boils down to this: is there really anything in this reality that [a] has a Will (i.e. preferences, desires, likes and dislikes) and [b] the wherewithal to implement said will, but [c] does not have a material, biological, body? I see no reason to believe that there is, and every reason to believer there isn't. But for those who see things differently (because, remember, I am a "whateverist") I really can't imagine how they can come to any kind of consensus on what the properties of this entity might have.

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Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.

  
stevestory



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2006,14:52   

No, of course I know you're not a fundy, Stephen, I was just making the point that many religions are full of stuff that reasonable people have to ignore. It is not necessary to distort it to get support for terrible things, that support is right there on the printed pages.

   
normdoering



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2006,18:08   

Quote (stevestory @ Jan. 15 2006,20:52)
No, of course I know you're not a fundy, Stephen, I was just making the point that many religions are full of stuff that reasonable people have to ignore. It is not necessary to distort it to get support for terrible things, that support is right there on the printed pages.

I think he means religion begins with his feelings, (calling out to a god when his father was dying), not those books.

The books (Bible, Koran, Talmud, etc.) distort and shape the original impulse which  makes us think there is a dream world beyond death.

No doubt his Christian upbringing shaped those feelings to a degree, but that Christian upbringing may not have included a lot of Old Testament reading.

  
Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2006,23:08   

H'mmm, you may have hit on something there Norman. I think there is at least some truth in that insight. I can't honestly say I know for certain.

If I could just pick and choose, then it would be the Norse Gods for me. I quite fancy an eternity of drinking and wenching, with a great big fight at Ragnarock. :D

Anyhow, there is something in me that does believe God exists. I don't claim to know much about it and I definately don't want to join a church for instruction/indoctrination.

BTW. The Norse thing was just a joke. After dealing with people from AIG, some folks here might take it serious.

  
normdoering



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Joined: July 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,20:50   

Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Jan. 16 2006,05:08)
The Norse thing was just a joke.

Careful, you don't want to piss off Thor.

Have you ever considered calling yourself a "Jeffersonian Christian" or "a Christian in the style of Thomas Jefferson"?

This verbal tactic would prevent people from rushing to assumptions about what your "Christianity" is about and if they reasearched it to figure out that our founding fathers were certainly not fundies.

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2006,21:04   

Quote (normdoering @ Jan. 17 2006,02:50)
Have you ever considered calling yourself a "Jeffersonian Christian" or "a Christian in the style of Thomas Jefferson"?

This verbal tactic would prevent people from rushing to assumptions about what your "Christianity" is about and if they reasearched it to figure out that our founding fathers were certainly not fundies.

Not a bad Idea. I do agree with a lot of his quotes in the previous links.

Quote
Careful, you don't want to piss off Thor.


Thor is fairly easy to placate though. All I will have to do is make a fist over my next beer.

H,mmm This evening I might apologise to him several times. :D

  
normdoering



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 24 2006,06:46   

Back to what started the religious war in two different PT threads.

Jeffersonian Christians (Deists in  my book) aside, Darwin's theory of evolution does (and did in its own time) have negative implications for "fundamentalist/evangelical" style Christianity beyond contradicting a silly, literal interpretation of Genesis.

Notions like sin, man being the crown of creation, and other biblical ideas are challenged too.

Pretending evolution has no religious implications is dishonest.

  
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