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  Topic: Fanatical Evangelism, of both theistic and atheistic flavors< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(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



Posts: 478
Joined: Jan. 2006

(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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Joined: Oct. 2005

(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



Posts: 10393
Joined: Oct. 2005

(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



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(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



Posts: 478
Joined: Jan. 2006

(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



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(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



Posts: 48
Joined: Jan. 2006

(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



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(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



Posts: 1082
Joined: April 2005

(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.

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



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(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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Joined: Oct. 2005

(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



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(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



Posts: 1082
Joined: April 2005

(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.

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

  
stevestory



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Joined: Oct. 2005

(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



Posts: 287
Joined: July 2005

(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



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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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Joined: July 2005

(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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