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Author Topic: "This board leans to the left"....?
Mistletoey Chloe
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Why? Why is it our societal interest to cultivate that idea?

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~~Ai am in mai prrrrrraime!~~

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trollface
The Bills of St. Mary's


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quote:
Originally posted by TurquoiseGirl:
First of all, trollface, thanks for responding.

No problem. I'd have responded sooner, but I didn't see your post until it was quoted.

quote:
I think perhaps we are less far apart then rather heated rhetoric tends to imply.
I like to think I'm a reasonable guy, even if I'm not one who is always the best at expressing their ideas in words.

quote:
There have been threads on "religion as a UL". We don't see "Love as a UL", do we?
Not in quite those words, but I'm pretty sure that it's a subject that has been discussed in detail during my time here.

Of course, there is also the issue that the two aren't entirely equivalent. Love is rarely seen as a force for evil wheras religion can be. Wahhbism is probably the most contemporary example, but there's also people like Fred Phelps, etc., etc. As far as negative influence on everybody's life, religion probably scores much higher than love.

Of course, then you get into the question of what is love, and whether things like patriotism and territoriality which can be a force for great prejudice and hurt can be "love". But, certainly, the love that's between husband and wife, or parent and child, can't be said to have a negative impact in the same way, or with the same frequency as some people's religion does, in my opinion.

Not that any of that excuses any rudeness, or the like, but I think that questioning religion is something that seems more relevant and immediate to people, especially as there's no accepted consensus as to what is right. A Muslim and a Christian are unlikely to agree on who or what God is, but they probably both love their kids unconditionally.

quote:
Perhaps you do not notice because you are not on the receiving end.
This is also true.

quote:
The vast majority of ya'll are respectful. But there is at least one poster whom I strongly suspects gets into religious debates, gets himself worked up into a fervor mocking those with spritual beliefs, and then goes in the other room to whack off.
Ah, but this is what I mean. All I was saying was that, in my estimation, the majority of atheists on these boards are respectful. Certainly the majority of posters, as by my entirely non-scientific, non-survey, I estimate that the theists outweigh the atheists by a considerable margin. And, while the afore-mentioned lack of Muslims that stick around is quite puzzling (as, indeed, is a fact that was pointed out a few years ago, that a disproportionately large percentage of posters seem to be Caucasian), I think that there is quite a wide range of religions and spiritual beliefs represented, from Christians of different stripes, through Jews, into Wiccans and those who follow Astaru, and ending up on those who believe in an undefined "something" that they, themselves couldn't articulate, with many others along the way.

I certainly don't think that it's fair to say that the boards are somewhere that are generally "hostile" to religion, or the religious.

quote:
Thanks for being willing to engage on this topic in a respectful manner. I think the religious threads get a little heated.
I'm always up for it. And, despite what recent form might lead you to believe, I'm usually not one to actually argue over the subject. After all, in a very real sense, it doesn't actually matter to me. It's a subject I find endlessly fascinating, and I find that other people's faith can move me greatly (that's a hard one to explain - in a very loose sense think of the way that you can see maybe a mother acting selflessly for her child and can almost palpably see the bond between them, and it makes you mushy inside. Kind of like that, but not really. As a sort-of related aside, I count some of the best times I've had as being at a couple of Christian rock festivals, and going along to all the seminars and discussion groups, and just hanging out with monks and nuns and talking to them about their faith. And, of course, you've never had a surreal but interesting experience until you've sat down with a monk and had a conversation about how good Dub War's set was). But, it doesn't actually matter to me in a meaningful way, because I don't believe. Whatever anyone says on the subject of religion, theirs or anyone else's, isn't going to affect my core beliefs - or rather my lack of them. And it's impossible to slight something that's not there, as well.

quote:
Chloe said:
Which is not to say that I haven't been completely, happily, and head over heels in love. But it's a feeling generated by a) cultural expectations and b) chemicals. Objectively speaking, the chances are that it probably doesn't exist at all.

Well, it depends on what you mean by it "existing". Even if it is just a cultural construct and chemicals, I think that it does still exist. It is real, and people do experience it. It's just not some kind of force of nature, or destiny, or whatever. It's just the word that we use to describe that particular combination of external and internal forces.

quote:
Steve said:
One start is to support the cultural expectation that love can, with difficulty, be distinguished from, and preferred over, mere infatuation.

I think that maybe one definition of love could be that it's infatuation with added commitment and effort.

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seriously , everyone on here , just trys to give someone crap about something they do !! , its shitting me to tears.

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I'mNotDedalus
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Flowy Chloe:
Why? Why is it our societal interest to cultivate that idea?

So the gossip rags can distinguish between married couples and pokey playmates. The little people, Chloe. Think of the little people.

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The salty fragrance of L’Eau D’I’mNotDedalus - made entirely of and entirely for sea turtles.

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Troodon
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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To TurquoiseGirl:

I suspect that I'm not the masturbating poster you allude to, but because I've expressed essentially all the views you spoke out against earlier in this thread, I think that it is warranted for me to defend them.

From my point of view, you claim that you have had certain experiences and then you interpret these experiences as proof of (or at least strong evidence for) some sort of supernatural entity or entities. I have no reason to think that you are lying, and even if you were, sufficiently many people express similar things that at least some of them have to be telling the truth as they see it.

Once I've granted that you have subjectively experienced what you claim to have subjectively experienced, I have to decide whether or not your proposed explanation for your experiences is valid. For various reasons that have already been talked about on the relevant threads, I've come to the conclusion that your proposed explanation is wrong, and not just wrong but wildly off the mark.

You bring up examples of ways that religious people could be dismissive of atheists, presumably as examples of things that you do not do. However, I claim that you can't help but engage in these behaviors. After all, you think that atheism is not true, in the sense that supernatural entities do exist. Thus, I don't see how you can explain the existence of atheists without claiming at least one of the following:

-Atheists lack the senses needed to detect the supernatural.
-Atheists are shunned by the supernatural.
-Atheists receive evidence of the supernatural but interpret it wrongly.

My overall point is that in order for people to disagree regarding explanations of the objective world, they have to be dismissive of each other's views to a certain extent. Thus, I don't think that statements like "There is no such thing as religion and religious people are all wrong." are excessively hostile to religion because they are implicit in the claim of atheism. Atheists cannot be any less "hostile" to religion without converting to it.

Edit: You also object to claims that because a person is religious their judgment in other fields should be called into question. My personal view on the topic is this: because I've concluded that you are very wrong about religion, I then have to conclude that there is something wrong with you that makes you come to that false conclusion. Regarding the severity and extent of that flaw: my experiences with religious people have demonstrated to me that religiousness does not necessarily prevent one from functioning excellently in other areas of life, although that isn't the result I would have expected. I still suspect that being religious predisposes one to achieving less than one could have otherwise, but I do not claim that a religious person cannot be as capable as an atheist at making decisions that do not involve religion. I do think that in general atheists tend to be better decision makers than religious people, but that's just an instance of my views about people who agree with me as opposed to people who disagree with me.

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Fools! You've over-estimated me!

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Bonnie
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Signora Del Drago:

Somehow, this seems appropriate here:

Not everything that can be counted counts; and not everything that counts can be counted.
. . .Albert Einstein

I wonder, do we have a source that firmly links this observation to Einstein? (I don't bring this up to diminish the point of your post; I'm just curious about that attribution.)

-- Bonnie

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Se non č vero, č ben trovato.

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Signora Del Drago
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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quote:
Originally posted by Bonnie:
quote:
Originally posted by Signora Del Drago:

Somehow, this seems appropriate here:

Not everything that can be counted counts; and not everything that counts can be counted.
. . .Albert Einstein

I wonder, do we have a source that firmly links this observation to Einstein? (I don't bring this up to diminish the point of your post; I'm just curious about that attribution.)

-- Bonnie

Edited because I clicked the wrong button the first time. [Embarrassed]

I can't vouch for the accuracy of any of these cites, of course, but here are several sites that attribute the quote to Einstein, and here's another.

I read this somewhere and looked it up on-line before I posted it. I should have given a cite or two then. Sorry. [Smile]

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"This air we're breathing. Oxygen, isn't it?"~I’mNotDedalus, impersonating Vincent D’Onofrio.|"Sometimes trying to communicate can be like walking through a minefield."~wanderwoman
"Give people a break. It's not easy doing a life."~Joshua Halberstam

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Mistletoey Chloe
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by trollface:
Chloe said:
Which is not to say that I haven't been completely, happily, and head over heels in love. But it's a feeling generated by a) cultural expectations and b) chemicals. Objectively speaking, the chances are that it probably doesn't exist at all.

quote:
Well, it depends on what you mean by it "existing". Even if it is just a cultural construct and chemicals, I think that it does still exist. It is real, and people do experience it. It's just not some kind of force of nature, or destiny, or whatever. It's just the word that we use to describe that particular combination of external and internal forces.
But one can surely make the same argument about God. If he/she/it/them is just a cultural construct plus the effect of those chemicals that course through our bloodstream when we feel at peace, or pray/meditate, or feel togetherness, or make sacrifices for the good of others, can he/she/it/them be said to be real?

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~~Ai am in mai prrrrrraime!~~

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trollface
The Bills of St. Mary's


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Good point. I suppose, in a way, yes.

But that's not the way that the majority of religious people would have it. God is supposed to be a separate entity with thoughts and a will of his own. I don't know anyone who thinks that about love - unless they think that "God is love" is a completely literal statement, in the same way that "Allah is God" or "God is Yahweh" would be.

I think that, in this instance, we're working with two different definitions of "real" for the two different concepts.

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seriously , everyone on here , just trys to give someone crap about something they do !! , its shitting me to tears.

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LeaflessMapleTree
The twelve shopping days 'til Christmas


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quote:
Originally posted by Troodon:
To TurquoiseGirl:

(snip...)

Thus, I don't see how you can explain the existence of atheists without claiming at least one of the following:

-Atheists lack the senses needed to detect the supernatural.
-Atheists are shunned by the supernatural.
-Atheists receive evidence of the supernatural but interpret it wrongly.

My overall point is that in order for people to disagree regarding explanations of the objective world, they have to be dismissive of each other's views to a certain extent. Thus, I don't think that statements like "There is no such thing as religion and religious people are all wrong." are excessively hostile to religion because they are implicit in the claim of atheism. Atheists cannot be any less "hostile" to religion without converting to it.

He makes a good point, really. Believing in God is just as much dismissing the atheist point of view as "wrong" as being an atheist is dismissing the theistic point of view as "wrong".

Is it possible to find a middle ground that is more than just "you're wrong, but that's okay. I'll let you do your thing anyway?" Isn't that the middle ground anyway in most debates?

---------
A: I like to bash my head against the wall while masturbating. It's the only way I can get myself off.

B: (to self) That's weird, probably unhealthy, but hey, A can do whatever A wants...
---------

A: I am gay and want to get married.

B: (to self) That's immoral. It says so in the bible. A is going to hell. Tough stuff, but if that's what A wants to do...
---------

Where do we draw the line between disagreeing and being rude and/or dismissive? Is the line that B kept his/her opinions to him/herself and didn't tell A what he/she thought?

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"For me, religion is like a rhinoceros: I don't have one, and I'd really prefer not to be trampled by yours. But it is impressive, and even beautiful, and, to be honest, the world would be slightly worse off if there weren't any."
-Silas Sparkhammer

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TurquoiseGirl
The "Was on Sale" Song


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quote:
quote:
Originally posted by Troodon:
To TurquoiseGirl:

I suspect that I'm not the masturbating poster you allude to



You bring up examples of ways that religious people could be dismissive of atheists, presumably as examples of things that you do not do. However, I claim that you can't help but engage in these behaviors. After all, you think that atheism is not true, in the sense that supernatural entities do exist. Thus, I don't see how you can explain the existence of atheists without claiming at least one of the following:

-Atheists lack the senses needed to detect the supernatural.
-Atheists are shunned by the supernatural.
-Atheists receive evidence of the supernatural but interpret it wrongly.



Or they could have simply not, for whatever reason, have had a spritual experience. Could be talent (I do not believe, for instance, I have ever sung a single song in tune); could be personality; could be total lack of desire. Some people have never seen a whale, either. I do think, to a certain extent, that one needs to go looking for a spiritual experience to have one. If one is simply not interested, it doesn't really matter.

I said in the other thread, I don't care whether or not people have spiritual experiences (which I view as part of nature-- nothing "supernatural" about it). I care how we treat one another.


quote:
My overall point is that in order for people to disagree regarding explanations of the objective world, they have to be dismissive of each other's views to a certain extent. Thus, I don't think that statements like "There is no such thing as religion and religious people are all wrong." are excessively hostile to religion because they are implicit in the claim of atheism. Atheists cannot be any less "hostile" to religion without converting to it.


That sounds like an excuse for being hostile. I think the basic statement of atheism is "there is no god" not "there is no religion". The hostility is in how one choses, from that point, to go forward dealing with those who disagree.

My brother, for example, likes NASCAR. I see no inherent worth in NASCAR. That does not mean I have to spend every waking second telling him how wrong he is to watch it. It just means I am not buying him anything with a NASCAR logo on it for Christmas.


quote:
Edit: You also object to claims that because a person is religious their judgment in other fields should be called into question. My personal view on the topic is this: because I've concluded that you are very wrong about religion, I then have to conclude that there is something wrong with you that makes you come to that false conclusion.


Actually, it demonstrates a lack of humility on your part. You are assuming a lot about that person's experiences and also assuming that you know everything about the whole universe. Wherein comes the hostility and arrogance.

One of my very favorite books on subject spiritual ends with the statement: Everything in this book may be wrong. I may very well be wrong in the end. But that doesn't mean that I should not explore or speculate, especially if my curiousity drives me in that direction. And certainly to assume that I must abide by the dictates of your views and/or curiousity (or lack there of) is arrogant in the extreme.

I think it is really silly for people to go exploring the woods and sleep in small tents and not shower for weeks at a time as well. I think it is silly and self-indulgent. I get annoyed when they tell me that I am missing out on something-- with almost evangelical zeal. Still I like hearing about their experiences.

I think the universe is vast, and to a certain extent, subjective. No one person is going to have all the answers. About anything. Including the existance or non-existance of the spiritual. It could very well be a Schroedinger's cat sort of deal-- sometimes its there and sometimes its not and it depends partly on the observer.

If you chose to see me as somehow deficient and express that, there is nothing I can do about this. But I am also free to decide that someone who expresses that view is lacking in humility and arrogant to the extreme. And if they continue to force their views on me, I am also perfectly free, as I would with anyone who did the same, to come to the conclusion that they are an asshole.

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There are people who drive really nice cars who feel that [those] cars won't be as special if other people drive them too. Where I come from, we call those people "selfish self-satisfied gits." -Chloe

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TurquoiseGirl
The "Was on Sale" Song


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quote:
Originally posted by MapleLeaf:
quote:
Originally posted by Troodon:
To TurquoiseGirl:

(snip...)

Thus, I don't see how you can explain the existence of atheists without claiming at least one of the following:

-Atheists lack the senses needed to detect the supernatural.
-Atheists are shunned by the supernatural.
-Atheists receive evidence of the supernatural but interpret it wrongly.

My overall point is that in order for people to disagree regarding explanations of the objective world, they have to be dismissive of each other's views to a certain extent. Thus, I don't think that statements like "There is no such thing as religion and religious people are all wrong." are excessively hostile to religion because they are implicit in the claim of atheism. Atheists cannot be any less "hostile" to religion without converting to it.

He makes a good point, really. Believing in God is just as much dismissing the atheist point of view as "wrong" as being an atheist is dismissing the theistic point of view as "wrong".

I just assume that they have had different experiences that point them in that direction.

Just like people with spititual beliefs differing from mine probably also have different experiences.

The thing I think is most important, in the end, is as UUs say "the responsible search for truth and meaning" and that it be open to more than a few select avenues of search.

And I would like you to show me anywhere where I have been dismissive or rude about someone's non-belief.

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There are people who drive really nice cars who feel that [those] cars won't be as special if other people drive them too. Where I come from, we call those people "selfish self-satisfied gits." -Chloe

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Mistletoey Chloe
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Didn't you call me a Godless dried up old Okie once? Or was that someone else...

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~~Ai am in mai prrrrrraime!~~

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TurquoiseGirl
The "Was on Sale" Song


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I am pretty sure that was someone else. If I recall correctly, it involved tobacco juice...

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There are people who drive really nice cars who feel that [those] cars won't be as special if other people drive them too. Where I come from, we call those people "selfish self-satisfied gits." -Chloe

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Mistletoey Chloe
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Good thing, too. I was planning to withhold the brain for the rest of the week as punishment.

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~~Ai am in mai prrrrrraime!~~

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TurquoiseGirl
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Noooo! Do not withhold the brain. TGirl needs the brain. She has a conference to attend and her poster is not done....

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There are people who drive really nice cars who feel that [those] cars won't be as special if other people drive them too. Where I come from, we call those people "selfish self-satisfied gits." -Chloe

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Howard
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by Flowy Chloe:
Didn't you call me a Godless dried up old Okie once? Or was that someone else...

No, that was the guy with the dry British/English sense of humor (according to him anyways). Can't remember his name, but I'm almost positive he was banned shortly after that.

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"I believe you believe that, but I just think you're confused."

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Signora Del Drago
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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Somebody on another board once called Signora Del Drago a "stinkin', dried up, ignorant, old hillbilly woman" - simply because she's from Oklahoma, she assumes. She posted a silly reply and never went back. That wouldn't run her away from here, though, because, unlike that other site, she likes this one.

How does that brain-sharing thing work? Signora is starting to think she needs to find someone who is willing to lend her a little brain. Or a lot.

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"This air we're breathing. Oxygen, isn't it?"~I’mNotDedalus, impersonating Vincent D’Onofrio.|"Sometimes trying to communicate can be like walking through a minefield."~wanderwoman
"Give people a break. It's not easy doing a life."~Joshua Halberstam

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Bonnie
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Signora Del Drago:

I read this somewhere and looked it up on-line before I posted it. I should have given a cite or two then. Sorry. [Smile]

No, sorry, never mind. (Besides, I don't think we're going to find a credible citation for this online.) It's just that I've never encountered this attribution before and to me it sounds, I dunno, a little off for Einstein. (Particularly since the earliest linking to him I've managed to find dates to 1991, 36 years after his death.)

-- Bonnie

Obligatory Einstein Anecdote:

quote:
During his stay in Princeton, New Jersey, Einstein used to play his violin in a string quartet. He enjoyed those sessions, but the other musicians were less enthusiastic about his skills. Complained one of the other players after a private performance, "He can't count." [From Oscar Levant's The Unimportance of Being Oscar (New York: Putnam, 1968); Reproduced in Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes (eds. Fadiman and Bernard; Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2000); N.B. Not all the anecdotes published in Bartlett's are based in fact.]


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Se non č vero, č ben trovato.

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Steve Eisenberg
The "Was on Sale" Song


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I wrote:

quote:
. . . we then need to . . . support the cultural expectation that love can, with difficulty, be distinguished from, and preferred over, mere infatuation.
quote:
Flowy Chloe replied:
Why? Why is it our societal interest to cultivate that idea?

This is a tough question for me. I have nothing against arranged marriage, so long as the young people can meet each other a few times and veto the arrangement without repercussions. And I wouldn't approve of a married couple with children divorcing because they no longer love each other.

On balance, I think the realistic alternatives to society valuing romantic love are a good deal worse. Men and women coupling for financial advantage, or due to lust alone, is hardly likely to provide the basis for the family stability I value so greatly (and you, perhaps, less so).

It was striking how you saw some similarity between the concept of romantic love and that of belief in God.* Religious teachings can, I think help families stay together even as men and women ineviatably change in their feelings and needs over time. And it is hard to imagine many American religious leaders recommending that we toss out romantic love just because it is going to change over time.

See:

What is true love and how do you know when you have found it?

and

How to stay in love the rest of your life

_______________
* Summing up what another poster wrote when you can't quite find a summing up quote is always risky. Feel free to correct if this isn't how you perceive your earlier posts here.

--------------------
"Hillel says yes, naturally, and Shammai says no, and Maimonides is perplexed, and what do I know?"
Julius Lester

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Salamander
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Eisenberg:
Men and women coupling for financial advantage, or due to lust alone, is hardly likely to provide the basis for the family stability I value so greatly (and you, perhaps, less so).

What I'd point out is that one doesn't always lead to the other. While historically one of the main purposes of marriage was to begin a family, there is no reason to expect that any couple getting married now will start a family.

I'd almost go as far as to say that any couple getting married for financial advantage are hardly going to consider bringing a kid into the equation. Children are expensive!

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"victory thru self-deception"

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PeterK
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by TurquoiseGirl:
quote:
Originally posted by trollface:
quote:
Originally posted by TurquoiseGirl:
As far as the "hostility to religion" business, I do see some of that. Perhaps people don't mean to be hostile, but it certainly comes off that way sometimes. Words like "superstition", "hallucination" and "wishful thinking" when applied to people's personal beliefs can be very patronizing, especially when they relate to significant experiences, which, whatever the source, hold great meaning.

Is that really being hostile, though? It's talking about the means of the event with great meaning, not diminishing the event itself.

Those of us without religious beliefs have to look to other sources for explanations to certain things. We know that humans do hallucinate. We know that humans do participate in wishful thinking and confirmation bias. Surely, expressing these opinions isn't an attack on someone else's beliefs? If it is considered as such, then surely it can only lead to a situation where such things cannot be debated? Either that or to a point where the board is hostile to the atheistic point of view.

But even in the statement "those of us who are aethesitic have to look to other sources for explanations" implies that those of us with religious belief don't bother, which is what I think I, personally, find the most dismissive.

The reasoning goes something like this, it seems to me: You have had experience X, which involves an experience of something in which I do not believe. People hallucinate. Therefore, since what you claim to have happened I know can't have happened, you are clearly hallucinating. And because you believe in such a silly thing, I am not going to take your word that, in your opinion, this was different from a hallucinatory experience. It was just another kind. Your very belief is such things reduces your credibility to interpret your own experiences."

Now actually, neither of us knows what really happened. There was no machinary attached to measure either brainwaves or neurotransmitters. All we have to rely on on the testimony of the person with the experience. And because the experience was something spiritual, you automatically dismiss that testimony as suspect.

An equivalent argument from the spiritual side would be: Well, clearly, you lack the ability to experience spiritual things. It's rather like a color blind person telling me that because they can't tell the difference between red and green, that there is, in fact, no difference. Or even more to the point a blind person disputing that there are different colors at all.

Or even worse: Clearly the Diety doesn't think enough of you to present itself to you. There must be something suspect about you. End of story.

There are some atheists who go even farther and claim that since someone has had spiritual experiences, that all of their powers of observation and rationality are immediately suspect. Can you not see how that is highly insulting?


quote:
The problem with discussing religion is the personal examples are all that are possible to provide, as there is no other proof of the divine or paranormal. As such, all the atheist can do is talk about the specific examples provided and give their take. Should they remain quiet, instead, even in a conversation about the validity of proof of the divine and/or supernatural? Where does that leave the atheistic point of view?
The problem, the impasse actually, is that to the atheist it seems that the person believing that they have had a spiritual experience is enough to doubt their veracity and powers of observation.

For me, personally, my most powerful spritual experience literally changed my life, and, I am certain, led me on a path to becoming a better person. You telling me that a foundational experience of my life was nothing more than a fluke of biochemistry seems, whether intended or not, a judgement on the entire direction of my life subsequent.

Would you ever deign to tell someone deeply in love that their feelings, and the actions coming out of those feelings, are nothing more than some sort of combination of hormones, self-projection and a natural human desire for connection? I mean no one really knows what love really is. It could be all those things. Some people have probably never experienced this.

Why is it okay then to say similar things to someone sharing other deep, meaningful experiences, either because you haven't had something similar happen to you, either through basic wiring or chance, or because you think the whole thing is bullshit.

There is often very little acknowledgement by the atheists that even though the experience is something beyond what they believe is possible, it is nonetheless deeply meaningful to the people having them.

And, of course, that people can have those experiences and be in every other way perfectly intelligent, thoughtful reasonable people.

There is often an attitude either implied or explicit, that somehow atheists are just plain smarter than the rest of us. I find that just as offensive as the implication from fundamentalist religious folks that they speak for whatever Diety they happen to be in touch with.

Many good points, but you are implicitly conceding the atheist proposition that religion, and even whether or not God is real, is purely a matter of personal experiences (or "FIFs" - Funny Internal Feelings, as a friend of mine used to call them). It's great that you had a "powerful spiritual experience that changed your life". However I am sure (and no, before anyone asks, I have not done a statistically valid formal survey) from speaking to many people about their faith, that the great majority of religious believers have never had such a striking personal/emotional/spiritual "experience"; or if they have, that it did not form the basis of their religious belief but was merely an added bonus. Perhaps the situation is different in the USA, where so many claim to have had a "born-again" experience. But most would say their religious belief, although ultimately a gift from God, came to them through the intellectual process of thinking about the matter and deciding that it seems eminently reasonable.

IMO the bias on this board consists of the general unquestioning acceptance of the atheist thesis that "personal examples are all that are possible to provide, as there is no other proof of the divine"; and refusal to admit, or even consider, that atheists too have taken a "leap of faith". Religious believers would argue that the reality of God, and many of His attributes, can be deduced by reason alone; and indeed that to deny this is at basis irrational. Many would add as I do that all the beliefs of their religion flow from reason.

ISTM "religious" people are tolerated on this board as long as they prove willing to go along with the idea that religion is merely a private fantasy or an ethnic-cultural relic which can be quaint or cute, but is highly dangerous if taken at all seriously.

Many people for some reason which has always escaped me, tend to mistakenly correlate "religious" with "right-wing". IMO this board overall favours neither the Left or Right of politics.

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Logoboros
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by PeterK:
Religious believers would argue that the reality of God, and many of His attributes, can be deduced by reason alone; and indeed that to deny this is at basis irrational. Many would add as I do that all the beliefs of their religion flow from reason.

In my experience (especially on this board) the far more common description is that "faith" is defined as something maintained beyond the capacity to reason or examine evidence -- that rational "proof" is counter to "true faith."

And I'd like to know exactly how you're defining reason. Presumably it's not empirically informed logic? If it was, then one would think it would be awfully easy to convert virtually all scientists with an Aquinas-like or Cartesian "proof of God's existence." Maybe you could share a chain of logic that leads to acceptence of the existence of a particular deity with particular attributes?

Though I am, myself, a believer (though a troubled believer), it seems perfectly reasonable to me to conclude that the reason for widespread belief in 1.) some form of afterlife, and 2.) some divine plan, purpose, or order is that it is a far more preferable alternative to facing the terror that one can be killed by arbitrary natural forces and that this is the end of experience and consciousness. Just like it was easier for early societies to believe that natural disaster and drought were caused by angry deities that you had some option of appeasing in some way than to consider that your survival was beyond your control.

--Logoboros

ETA: And I'd say far from your assertion that most come to their faith through an intellectual decision, most come to their faith through cultural and (especially) familial pressure. And then fear maintains much belief -- why choose to think that you're facing oblivion when you don't know for certain that an afterlife doesn't exist. Better then to play it safe. If you disbelive in God and he exists, then you're screwed. But if you believe and he doesn't, then it doesn't really matter. Thus belief remains the default choice for most.

--------------------
"If Men were Wise, the Most arbitrary Princes could not hurt them. If they are not wise, the Freest Government is compelld to be a Tyranny."

--William Blake

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LeaflessMapleTree
The twelve shopping days 'til Christmas


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quote:
Originally posted by TurquoiseGirl:
quote:
Originally posted by MapleLeaf:
quote:
Originally posted by Troodon:
To TurquoiseGirl:

(snip...)

Thus, I don't see how you can explain the existence of atheists without claiming at least one of the following:

-Atheists lack the senses needed to detect the supernatural.
-Atheists are shunned by the supernatural.
-Atheists receive evidence of the supernatural but interpret it wrongly.

My overall point is that in order for people to disagree regarding explanations of the objective world, they have to be dismissive of each other's views to a certain extent. Thus, I don't think that statements like "There is no such thing as religion and religious people are all wrong." are excessively hostile to religion because they are implicit in the claim of atheism. Atheists cannot be any less "hostile" to religion without converting to it.

He makes a good point, really. Believing in God is just as much dismissing the atheist point of view as "wrong" as being an atheist is dismissing the theistic point of view as "wrong".

I just assume that they have had different experiences that point them in that direction.

Just like people with spititual beliefs differing from mine probably also have different experiences.

The thing I think is most important, in the end, is as UUs say "the responsible search for truth and meaning" and that it be open to more than a few select avenues of search.

And I would like you to show me anywhere where I have been dismissive or rude about someone's non-belief.

Can't do that, because I know it's not the type of thing you'd do. Not because you believe in a higher power. But because you're a decent human being. There are nice atheists and rotten theists as well.

I mused before that perhaps the line of dismissiveness is drawn the moment you start telling people their beliefs are wrong.

--------------------
"For me, religion is like a rhinoceros: I don't have one, and I'd really prefer not to be trampled by yours. But it is impressive, and even beautiful, and, to be honest, the world would be slightly worse off if there weren't any."
-Silas Sparkhammer

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Canuckistan
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by PeterK:
ISTM "religious" people are tolerated on this board as long as they prove willing to go along with the idea that religion is merely a private fantasy or an ethnic-cultural relic which can be quaint or cute, but is highly dangerous if taken at all seriously.

There is a marked difference between a private experience and a private fantasy. I would say most people on the board see religion as the former.

And it's not that religion is dangerous; I just think it can be when people in government use it to try to govern. Hence, the strong belief around here of separation of church and state.

--------------------
People need to stop appropriating Jesus as their reason for behaving badly. It's so irritating. (Avril)

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PeterK
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by trollface:
quote:
There have been threads on "religion as a UL". We don't see "Love as a UL", do we?
Not in quite those words, but I'm pretty sure that it's a subject that has been discussed in detail during my time here.

I think the problem here is confusion between "falling in love" (which I have done and am not at all offended to be told was basically a matter of chemicals, circumstances etc.) and "deciding to love somebody" i.e. deciding to do whatever is in their best interests. The former can lead to the latter, but often leads to its opposite.
quote:

Of course, there is also the issue that the two aren't entirely equivalent. Love is rarely seen as a force for evil wheras religion can be.

Tell that to the mother whose husband tells her he has fallen in "love" with his secretary.
quote:
Wahhbism is probably the most contemporary example, but there's also people like Fred Phelps, etc., etc. As far as negative influence on everybody's life, religion probably scores much higher than love. Of course, then you get into the question of what is love, and whether things like patriotism and territoriality which can be a force for great prejudice and hurt can be "love". But, certainly, the love that's between husband and wife, or parent and child, can't be said to have a negative impact in the same way, or with the same frequency as some people's religion does, in my opinion.
Depends what you consider "negative" I guess. Even Wahhabism and Phelps have a mixture of positive as well as negative effects. And you have picked two extreme negative examples which are vastly outnumbered by more "positive" religious movements/people. ISTM by far the majority of the most far-reaching and monstrous evils the world has seen in the past 100 years have been caused by people/forces who are actively anti-religion.
quote:
Not that any of that excuses any rudeness, or the like, but I think that questioning religion is something that seems more relevant and immediate to people, especially as there's no accepted consensus as to what is right. A Muslim and a Christian are unlikely to agree on who or what God is
Mainstream Islam and Christianity agree exactly upon what God is per se.
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Logoboros
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by Canuckistan:

And it's not that religion is dangerous; I just think it can be when people in government use it to try to govern. Hence, the strong belief around here of separation of church and state.

I'd add that this may well be why liberal people (which does not necessarily mean "Leftists") tend to prefer constructing religion as something personally defined rather than institutionally defined. The more "organized" your religion is, the more it smacks of thought-control by some form of ruling elite.

--Logoboros

--------------------
"If Men were Wise, the Most arbitrary Princes could not hurt them. If they are not wise, the Freest Government is compelld to be a Tyranny."

--William Blake

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Logoboros
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by PeterK:
Mainstream Islam and Christianity agree exactly upon what God is per se.

Last I heard, not very many Muslims believe that God is a triune being, made up of three persons...

--------------------
"If Men were Wise, the Most arbitrary Princes could not hurt them. If they are not wise, the Freest Government is compelld to be a Tyranny."

--William Blake

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PeterK
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Logoboros:
quote:
Originally posted by PeterK:
[qb] Religious believers would argue that the reality of God, and many of His attributes, can be deduced by reason alone; and indeed that to deny this is at basis irrational. Many would add as I do that all the beliefs of their religion flow from reason.

In my experience (especially on this board) the far more common description is that "faith" is defined as something maintained beyond the capacity to reason or examine evidence -- that rational "proof" is counter to "true faith."
If they say that, it seems the atheists are justified in calling them irrational.
quote:


And I'd like to know exactly how you're defining reason. Presumably it's not empirically informed logic? If it was, then one would think it would be awfully easy to convert virtually all scientists with an Aquinas-like or Cartesian "proof of God's existence." Maybe you could share a chain of logic that leads to acceptence of the existence of a particular deity with particular attributes?

I'm using the dictionary definition. Many people, many scientists among them, remain surprisingly unmoved by a pure logical argument if assenting to it would have consequences they would find uncomfortable. Being a scientist is no guarantee you will always act perfectly rationally.
quote:

Though I am, myself, a believer (though a troubled believer), it seems perfectly reasonable to me to conclude that the reason for widespread belief in 1.) some form of afterlife, and 2.) some divine plan, purpose, or order is that it is a far more preferable alternative to facing the terror that one can be killed by arbitrary natural forces and that this is the end of experience and consciousness. Just like it was easier for early societies to believe that natural disaster and drought were caused by angry deities that you had some option of appeasing in some way than to consider that your survival was beyond your control.

--Logoboros

You seem to be basically saying that you and millions of rational people have decided to kid themselves by pretending to believe something which they know is not true, thinking that that will make them come to REALLY believe it, so that they will be less afraid of death. As I said above, this seems to be a case of even professed believers on this forum adopting the standard atheist position and in effect saying "Look, I know deep down my religion isn't true, but let me pretednd to believe it because it's a security blanket and I'm a little kid scared of the realities of the world."
quote:

ETA: And I'd say far from your assertion that most come to their faith through an intellectual decision, most come to their faith through cultural and (especially) familial pressure.

That's how most "cradle" belivers come to have their faith presented to them as children. When they grow up, they decide whether to believe it or not. Perhaps a few grown adults PRETEND to believe because of family or societal pressure. (Though these days it's far more common for believers to pretend NOT to believe because of such pressure.) But family or society cannot MAKE anyone believe.
quote:
And then fear maintains much belief -- why choose to think that you're facing oblivion when you don't know for certain that an afterlife doesn't exist. Better then to play it safe. If you disbelive in God and he exists, then you're screwed. But if you believe and he doesn't, then it doesn't really matter. Thus belief remains the default choice for most.
No major religious sect that I know of teaches that people who disbelieve in God are screwed (damned). It's those who know what God wants of them and consciously reject it who damn themselves.
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PeterK
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Logoboros:
quote:
Originally posted by PeterK:
Mainstream Islam and Christianity agree exactly upon what God is per se.

Last I heard, not very many Muslims believe that God is a triune being, made up of three persons...
That's why I said "per se". Both religions agree God is uncreated, has always been and will always be, whom nothing can exist without and is identified with existence itself, is the essence of goodness and love etc. etc.
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PeterK
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by trollface:
I don't know anyone who thinks that about love - unless they think that "God is love" is a completely literal statement, in the same way that "Allah is God" or "God is Yahweh" would be.

Well you can count me as at least one. Whenever somebody loves somebody, he is involving God whether he believes in Him or not.
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PeterK
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Logoboros:
quote:
Originally posted by Canuckistan:
quote:

Originally posted by PeterK:
ISTM "religious" people are tolerated on this board as long as they prove willing to go along with the idea that religion is merely a private fantasy or an ethnic-cultural relic which can be quaint or cute, but is highly dangerous if taken at all seriously.

There is a marked difference between a private experience and a private fantasy. I would say most people on the board see religion as the former.

And it's not that religion is dangerous; I just think it can be when people in government use it to try to govern. Hence, the strong belief around here of separation of church and state.
And it's not that religion is dangerous; I just think it can be when people in government use it to try to govern. Hence, the strong belief around here of separation of church and state.

I'd add that this may well be why liberal people (which does not necessarily mean "Leftists") tend to prefer constructing religion as something personally defined rather than institutionally defined. The more "organized" your religion is, the more it smacks of thought-control by some form of ruling elite.

--Logoboros

There is a middle path between total privatization and a State theocracy. Surely all can agree that we are responsible for each other at least to some extent. Most believers believe that God founded an organisation of believers for mutual assistance. Yes, if we see someone bashing their head against a wall we are obliged to make some effort to stop him from harming himself, not just shrug that he can do whatever he wants. Believers would add that we have a duty to warn another about behaviour which could cause spiritual harm to himself and others.

It amuses me that in this age when most people insist that everything from their diets to their holidays must be organised to the nth degree, it has become the done thing for the same people to declare their absolute horror at the idea that religion should be in any way organised.

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Logoboros
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quote:
Originally posted by PeterK:
No major religious sect that I know of teaches that people who disbelieve in God are screwed (damned). It's those who know what God wants of them and consciously reject it who damn themselves.

From the SaintAquinas.com article on "Mortal Sin"

quote:
Atheism—Because atheistic humanism falsely seeks man and human glory and rejects God, atheism is a grave sin (CCC 2125). It is a sin against the virtue of religion. St. Paul tells us, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unholiness and injustice of those men that detain the truth of God in injustice" (Romans 1:18).
Now, true, it doesn't say that atheists are damned, because only God can decide who is damned and who isn't, and we can't necessarily know his will. But if you believe (as most Catholics -- not being old-school Calvinists -- do) that sin does correlate in some degree with damnation, then....

At the very least, an atheist who has been exposed to the 1st commandment (and especially an atheist who was once a believer) is a sinner. Or are you suggesting that "knowing what God wants you to do" is something revealed in a "personal" spiritual experience that each would-be atheist has the chance to affirm or deny?

And as for the "accepting the atheist position" claim you've made, I'd say no. The response is not that we're admitting that our faith isn't "true" -- we're admitting that it is not provable, that it is in some ways irrational -- or, not irrational, but not subject to Occam's razor. There are compelling "natural," "atheistic" explanations for the existence of religious belief. That does not mean that one {i] must [/i] be convinced by them, though one ought to respect them.

And, for myself, I'd float this conception of faith: just as I can belive in a Creator God and a Big Bang explanation for the origin of the universe and evolution for the origin of humanity, I can also believe that religion can have developed through primitive paranoia and infantile psychology and other entirely non-divine mechanisms AND STILL BE the path by which we know and experience the otherwise inaccessible, unprovable Divine.

My belief in a Creator can coinincide with reality of evolution. My belief in the Divine can coexist with the explanation of religious experience as based in delusion.

--Logoboros

--------------------
"If Men were Wise, the Most arbitrary Princes could not hurt them. If they are not wise, the Freest Government is compelld to be a Tyranny."

--William Blake

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Silas Sparkhammer
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quote:
Originally posted by PeterK:
IMO the bias on this board consists of the general unquestioning acceptance of the atheist thesis that "personal examples are all that are possible to provide, as there is no other proof of the divine"; and refusal to admit, or even consider, that atheists too have taken a "leap of faith".


Tricky. Is inductive reasoning a "leap of faith" or a "process of reason?"

What about deductive reasoning?

quote:
Religious believers would argue that the reality of God, and many of His attributes, can be deduced by reason alone . . .


Alas, for several thousands of years, they have failed to produce a deductive argument that holds water. Most of the arguments come to the paradox of the "uncaused cause" (primum mobile.) Descartes argued for the existence of an "unchanging nature" of things, which, alas, falls apart pretty quickly under modern philosophy.

(The "lump of wax" argument, for instance, fails with the knowledge of modern chemistry.)

quote:
. . . ISTM "religious" people are tolerated on this board as long as they prove willing to go along with the idea that religion is merely a private fantasy or an ethnic-cultural relic which can be quaint or cute, but is highly dangerous if taken at all seriously.



I think this is quite unfair. We tolerate all sorts of views here; your only obligation is to back up what you say with facts.

quote:

Many people for some reason which has always escaped me, tend to mistakenly correlate "religious" with "right-wing". IMO this board overall favours neither the Left or Right of politics.

In America, the right-wing has produced a particularly noisy (and ugly) variety of Christianity. It is sad, but true. Just as we demand of moderate Islam that it repudiates the terrorism practiced by Islamic extremists, so we demand of moderate Christianity that it repudiate the terrorism practiced by Fred Phelps or Terry Randall.

This can usually be accomplished in a footnote, just as I, an atheist, must occasionally footnote that I repudiate the anti-religious violence practiced by the state-atheist regimes of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and others. It does me no harm to do so, and, I think, actually enhances my credibility as a moderate.

Silas

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Logoboros
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by PeterK:
It amuses me that in this age when most people insist that everything from their diets to their holidays must be organised to the nth degree, it has become the done thing for the same people to declare their absolute horror at the idea that religion should be in any way organised.

I would suggest that "most people" here is a bit of a strawman, no?

But, there is a difference between the progressive (often falsely used as a synonym for "liberal") impulse to improve the organization of society from diet to government and the impulse to be increasingly doctrinal in religion. The former changes are (typically) based on empirically-based improvement in knowledge (such as in the fields of nutrition or economics). The latter primarily derive from what amount to a set of judgment-calls by church authorities. We can prove that certain foods or substances increase the likelihood of getting diabetes or cancer. But how do we prove that the Methodists get you closer to God than the Adventists?

--Logoboros

--------------------
"If Men were Wise, the Most arbitrary Princes could not hurt them. If they are not wise, the Freest Government is compelld to be a Tyranny."

--William Blake

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Salamander
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quote:
Originally posted by PeterK:
It amuses me that in this age when most people insist that everything from their diets to their holidays must be organised to the nth degree, it has become the done thing for the same people to declare their absolute horror at the idea that religion should be in any way organised.

I don't organise my diet or my holidays much beyond "try to eat 3 meals a day" and "where are we staying?". I'm still not a fan of organised religion.

I'm anti-authoritarian though so I even if I did strictly control every aspect of my life I'd still recoil at the idea of someone else telling me how to live my life (as an aside, I've always struggled to consider "Authoritarianism" as anything other than a system of government where book authors are in control -- considering our own authors Silas, Nonny & Brad (among others) it sounds like a pretty nifty government to me).

--------------------
"victory thru self-deception"

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