Questionable Motives

February 25, 2011

What would life be like without god?

Filed under: Jesus and Mo — tildeb @ 10:01 am

 

(From Jesus and Mo)

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44 Comments »

  1. That is rather funny Tildeb.
    Though its not representative of what I believe. Rather I believe that God is the creator of the heavens and the earth… and its a wonderful and awesome thing to know that though we are but a speck in the universe…God still wonderfully cares for us.

    Comment by Craig Benno — February 25, 2011 @ 3:52 pm | Reply

    • I thought so, Craig. I’m glad you liked it.

      I know you believe this caring to be real and true, Craig, but I don’t think you have anything other than your belief that this is actually true. Furthermore, I don’t think you can know anything at all about this critter, his cares and concerns and purposes and nature and intentions and messages and so on. For any of that to be true, you would need to show how you can know it… and it is here in the details of this epistemology we soon find a nice little circle of reasoning that must insert an assumption that the belief is first true in order for it to be shown to be true, which is what we’re trying to determine not as a premise where it rightfully belongs but as a conclusion. That failure of reasoning is revealing.

      Comment by tildeb — February 25, 2011 @ 5:29 pm | Reply

      • There is a lot of things that make me believe Tildeb. One of them being experience.
        Many in the Western World culture consider that “True” knowledge can only stem from something that can be and is scientifically proven within a lab.

        Yet; historically and culturally this mindset of knowledge is way too narrow. For one thing science cannot explain when, how and why we have an experience of 6th sense… why and how can someone know that a loved one has died or is in trouble..when there is no logical answer for it.

        Take for example when I worked on a farm. One day on my way to the farm I had an experience where it seemed that someone was telling me to be careful when I walked into the milking shed; for there was a snake there… When I walked into the shed, I was careful to look in the spot and yes there was a snake there and if I didn’t know it was there prior; I would have been bitten in the normal course of my work.

        My faith is based on belief. My belief is based on the historical proof of the Gospels account and my ongoing experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit which is the same as is recorded in the Scriptures.

        Comment by Craig Benno — February 25, 2011 @ 6:58 pm

      • Of course I’m going to disagree with your characterization of science because it’s a method and not a lab result, so your criticism of your definition being narrow is exactly right. But I also understand what you mean by experience. It can be (and of course is) a powerful teacher.

        In my case, I knew that the face down top card of a shuffled deck was the Ace of Diamonds. I just knew. When revealed, it was true. I also knew that the upcoming daily lottery number was 9-3-6, and when announced later it was indeed 9-3-6. But I also knew that my poker hand after a three card draw of a full house with kings on top (and no wild cards) was the winning hand for a great big pot of money. But what I knew was true not in fact true as my weekly wages disappeared not to the person who held four aces and also knew he had the winning hand but to the person who held the 2-3-4-5-6 of spades. What each of us knew to be true is not always what’s actually true… and that is revealed only by verifiable evidence.

        How can I explain those times when I felt privy to some extra sense, some peek beyond the now? I don’t honestly know. And that’s okay. I don’t have to attribute these events, these experiences, to something equally unknowable and I think we make a mistake to do so. I can just leave them be and give them an honest shrug. And I can do this because my experience also tells me that I can’t trust just myself to know what I believe I know to be true is actually true. I can’t afford the loss of wages! And that, too, is the kind of experience that can be a powerful teacher!

        If there were good reasons – reliable and consistent and practical and verifiable reasons – for informing some belief, one would not need faith. It’s a significant point to consider, but you are also allowed to believe whatever you want. I just prefer to have the best reasons to inform mine rather than trust my attributions through faith.

        Comment by tildeb — February 25, 2011 @ 7:36 pm

  2. Hi Craig,

    Is it unusual for a snake to be in a barn in your neck of the woods, perhaps looking for a small mammal for its dinner?

    I think people underestimate the human animal. It is the result of millions of years of evolution, humans are the result many lives and deaths of thousands if not millions of human-like and nonhuman like ancestors.

    During this path through evolution your biology has evolved senses, and rules and methods for survival – one being your amazing ‘evolved’ brain. We like all animals know how to sense danger instinctively – it is essential for our survival (just as pain is), but your evolved brain gives you massive advantage over the snake. This advantage is strategy – you have the ability to predict danger before it is upon you, giving you time to develop a mental strategy for dealing with danger before you fall victim to it. Your brain has the ability to invoke this prediction when it recognises situations that could have precarious outcome – you should not be surprised by this, because we all do it all the time without thinking about it.

    Because of these abilities humans are more dangerous than lions, tigers and deadly snakes. Unlike them we have the ability to learn from each other and apply knowledge and experience to all sorts of situations that could threaten our survival.

    These abilities came at a price – that price was speed and strength. A lion is far faster and stronger than even the best of human athletes – but its brain is no match to a human brain. Humans can develop strategies and tools (traps, cages, guns, whips, chains) to tame the lion. We are the only animal that can kill at a distance and if we choose to in packs, we also have the ability to plan a kill or another objective this makes us a formidable hunter gatherer.

    Your body is a part of nature as well as a product of it. It has learnt through experience and the experience of your ancestors to react to the environment that it lives in – this is amazing, but I assure you it is explainable by natural sciences, and there really isn’t any need to invoke magic to explain your experience – non-believers have exactly the same experiences as well, but rather than devaluing our biology and ignoring that facts of evolution we try to understand this phenomena using testable means that make sense to everybody.
    God didn’t tell you the snake was in the barn – your sub consciousness calculated the possibility of a vulnerability and heightened your senses to deal with a perceived risk, that was on that occasion actually there; but it could have easily not have been there, and if you were a mouse you would probably have been dinner.
    There was only one outcome and that was the one you experienced, but there could have been many. You have chosen to ignore these possible outcomes, and have for some odd reason attributed ‘special’ meaning to it – when there isn’t any. The snake was not hunting you, it was hunting for its dinner. To believe that the snake was there for you and god highlighted this risk to you is nothing short of vanity.
    As for the cartoon: I think the point is that the universe is massive, we now know this – but when scripture was written people really did know how truly massive it was – which is why the earth was believed to be at the centre of the universe.

    Earth is the centre theme of scripture, because relative to humans the earth is everything, but relative to the universe or even a manmade space probe like Voyager (from where that picture was taken), the earth is nothing more than a spec. Therefore, for scripture to be in the slightest bit true I would expect to see some explanation of this within the scripture – but there is none, and there is none – not because god was ignorant of it (because remember he knows everything) but because man at the time the scripture was written was ignorant of it. Please also bear in mind that Voyager isn’t even that far away from the earth in galactic distances – to describe the earth as a spec is an overstatement.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 27, 2011 @ 7:21 am | Reply

  3. Missunderstood trainer… In my neck of the woods; the milking shed was a place I had never seen a snake in the many years I had worked on the farm. In fact I had never seen a snack in that area of the farm before…the nature of the shed being wet and cold…or cooler.

    Certainly your right about being conscious of snakes in the feed mixing shed; the hay shed and the calf raising pens as well as looking where you walk in the paddocks; and over a period of 12 years I can count one one hand the times we encountered a snake in those areas.

    However the owner of the farm whom had worked it all his life and built that milking shed, told me that was the first time he had ever seen or heard of a snake being in that actual shed. It’s always easier to cast doubt on ones experience… then again..that’s what you do with the Bible… cast doubt on all the recorded experience of life… perhaps you treat all history with the same disdain?

    Comment by Craig Benno — February 27, 2011 @ 9:36 pm | Reply

  4. I don’t find it strange for a snake to be in any type of shed grain or otherwise, and I don’t think the lack of acknowledgement of a snake being found locally evidence for it being unusual or strong evidence for their being an all-powerful god controlling the order of events. I would bet you a large amount of money, that if we did a proper rigorous study of snakes in the area that you had this experience that we would find that it is more common than either you or farm owners think. The snake was most likely looking for a rodent, perhaps a mouse or a rat that was looking for food in the shed – and you just happened to interrupt the snake’s hunting business – it is a probable coincidence, far more likely to be true than a message from an all knowing, all powerful creator.

    What I find startling is that you have assigned a special meaning to this event, if this event had happened to me I would not have done. I have not had many interactions with snakes, but I have similar instances while on the road, turns and manoeuvres that I made that saved my life and lives of my passengers – but I have not attributed these to god’s actions, I was just lucky because car accidents do happen all the time; but I bet mitigating actions by drivers that prevent car accidents from happening happen more often. It is simple probability – there is no need to invoke god until you have discredited everything else and have definite proof that god interacted in a meaningful and demonstrable way.

    On your other point about doubting the historical fact of the bible:

    The bible isn’t an accurate record of history – it has historical references within it, but on closer examination and comparison with other texts it is not accurate. Why would an all knowing all powerful god get dates mixed up, measurements mixed up, and the order of the creation mixed up?

    The bible has been edited and re-written, changed edited again by many different people – each with their bias and interpretation of the meaning of the scripture – it really isn’t god’s word, its man’s.

    Why believe a text that is at least 2000 years old if not older, when you cannot believe what was written in the newspapers yesterday?

    Why believe that it is any more accurate than the Egyptian hieroglyphics – which were written in stone and unchanged?

    Why believe the bible, and not the other scriptures of other religions?

    If you apply a little reasoning, and some critical thinking to the dogma that is pushed by the church and the post Christian society in which you live in it is very easy to see through the fog of faith.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 28, 2011 @ 3:50 am | Reply

  5. so science knows what religion has known all along. God is infinite and incomprehensible, an unending mystery, and we are a small speck in space. now it is the view that the universe is infinite and incomprehensible and an unending mystery and we are a small speck in space. the difference being that the Abrahamic religions state that it is no accident we are here. while science doesn’t care nor need this question. those who claim otherwise in science are not operating under the rubric of science but of philosophy.

    either way, we’re a speck in a vast lifeless void. questions of purpose, as i have found, are largely a subjective thing.

    Comment by zero1ghost — February 28, 2011 @ 12:50 pm | Reply

    • Religion doesn’t ‘know’ anything because it has no trustworthy method to bring to the inquiry. Religion has assumption and assertion. That’s it. That’s the whole thing in methodological terms. And that’s why you so easily substitute the notion of ‘god’ for ‘the universe’ and think yourself justified… after all whose to say your is wrong? (note you effortlessly assert that the rest of the universe is a “lifeless void” in order to support your claim that human life on earth is no ‘accident’, and you do this to try to get relentless science off religion’s back by arguing this line as if these claims could better informed through philosophy!) We know your assertion that god and the universe are the same thing is just that – an assertion – because your substitution is not based on anything knowable (god is infinite and INCOMPREHENSIBLE – but not apparently to you or anyone else who wishes to makes claims and pretend god is right behind him or her nodding as if in full agreement. As far as the effortless word substitution goes, it’s just another in a long line of little word game you play to make your notion about god change to fit whatever you form best suits your need while seeming to make your claims somehow profound as you serpentine between making a truth claim about god’s nature and intention and desire for us, but then quickly and easily altering it to be a metaphorical claim about how god works nature to work through us, only to morph it back again in the next breath to mean something entirely different yet again – all the while pretending when it suits you that god is an unknowable mystery without appreciating how this undermines everything you’ve previously asserted – and then have the effrontery to occasionally dip into the pool of scientific knowledge to borrow some actual knowledge with the childish, “See? I already knew that from my beliefs” when obviously you ‘knew’ no such thing through your foggy doppelganger beliefs. And then you think yourself justified to demand other commentators be more specific! A bit cheeky, don’t you think?

      Comment by tildeb — March 1, 2011 @ 7:31 am | Reply

  6. Religion knows nothing about even our solar system let alone the universe as demonstrated by this passage from the bible:

    Joshua 10:12-13
    Then spoke Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the men of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand thou still at Gibeon, and thou Moon in the valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 28, 2011 @ 1:28 pm | Reply

    • that would bother someone with a literalistic interpretation. and by religion you mean “the Judeo-Christian” one correct? please be specific in your charge as your universal statements are tiresome.

      Comment by zero1ghost — February 28, 2011 @ 1:40 pm | Reply

    • oh, and you could have done an easier passage, as this can be equated with a miracle and would be interpreted as such by more conservative believers. i would pick Genesis 1:5-8 which is a Persian cosmology of the world being set on pillars and a glass bubble as the sky with water surrounding both in the center of the unvierse if i were to state that “the bible isn’t science.”

      Comment by zero1ghost — February 28, 2011 @ 1:43 pm | Reply

  7. … who has made the earth AS FLAT and comfortable as a bed and placed upon it mountains standing firm… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Part 1), Surah Al-Fatihah Surah Al-Baqarah, ayat 1 to 141, abridged by Sheikh Muhammad Nasib Ar-Rafa’i [Al-Firdous Ltd., London, 1998 second edition]

    But I guess that is too literal as well. So if we can not take this stuff literally, then why use it as evidence for god – and why state that it knows anything – because obviously it knows nothing without taking artistic licence to the extreme.

    How about this one:

    1. Waters gathered near the Sun + Sun is joined with waters
    Rig-Veda Book 1 : 1.1.23 Mantra 23
    17 May Waters gathered near the Sun, and those wherewith the Sun is joined,
    Speed forth this sacrifice of ours.

    So please Z1G – enlighten me to this wisdom that you think the religions of the world have over science… name one scientific break through – one real demonstrable applicable thing that it is responsible for that is practical and useful to us right here right now.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 28, 2011 @ 2:03 pm | Reply

    • first rule of enlightenment, i can’t enlighten you, you have to do it yourself. 😉

      pretty much what you’re asking is ““Why does humanity find it necessary for a god narrative-construct?” one that makes all sorts of truth claims and doesn’t back it up and why do people follow this? is that a fair interpretation of what you’re asking in between your random copy and pasting?

      Comment by zero1ghost — February 28, 2011 @ 2:08 pm | Reply

      • Oh look, you’ve done it again! MUR asks for evidence of how religion has produced knowledge because you suggest it already has in regards to the universe and you ‘rephrase’ it to mean ‘why does humanity find it necessary for a god narrative construct?’ Oh yes, those two are obviously the same question…?

        Good grief but this is a disingenuous and tedious technique you use repeatedly Z1G, and then have the effrontery once again to accuse MUR of not answering YOUR question, which was a simply a rephrase of HIS question and by no means an answer to it! Your cheekiness knows no bounds when you then order him to answer and start again when you yourself will not deal honestly with him while preparing the ground for any answer he might provide to be just another ‘diatribe’. All you are really doing is showing how poorly you think, how poorly you engage in honest dialogue, and to what lengths you are willing to go and what dishonest tactics you will use to answer nothing except to misrepresent as best you can the position of others who legitimately question the truthfulness of your asserted and assumed claims.

        Comment by tildeb — March 1, 2011 @ 7:43 am

      • i know you are backing up your buddy out of loyalty and not out of rational discourse. you read his post as “MUR asks for evidence of how religion has produced knowledge…” i didn’t. i stated religion isn’t science nor are the stories. he offered “religion knows nothing about even our solar system let alone the universe as demonstrated by this passage from the bible” and i confirmed that. he asked “enlighten me to this wisdom that you think the religions of the world have over science… name one scientific break through – one real demonstrable applicable thing that it is responsible for that is practical and useful to us right here right now” so i asked a clarifying question which he ignored and offered up a purposeless “what if” scenario.

        “what dishonest tactics you will use to answer nothing except to misrepresent as best you can the position of others who legitimately question the truthfulness of your asserted and assumed claims.”
        -and what asserted and assumed claims am i dealing with. you constantly label me as such yet never name them nor do i feel like i’m offering any of these. it feels like these are your assumptions about me and your distrust of me that i’m trying to trap you to admit that religion may have done some good in the world. while i’m certainly not trying to tray you, i am after the later. you state that logic and reason will win the day yet you don’t engage in these when talking with me. largely because your totality stance on religion is irrational.

        to answer your question of: “evidence of how religion has produced knowledge” which religion do you want to deal with? let’s narrow the search here… and on what topic? cosmology? that seems to be the issue at hand correct? every religion has a creation story. that’s a fact. every story is told trying to covey some meaning about a question that is on people’s minds… so creation stories are directed at the questions “why are we here? where did we come from?” religion’s answer is “we are not here by accident. we were created by xyz, and all the various tribes came from one source.” these are universal in the creation stories that i have come across, after studying Taoist, Hindu, Native American and the Judeo-Christian traditions. and what has science found? that our species did originate through one place by one species that are of the primate genus. seems religion and science agree on this, that all human life and all the various races came from one source, although they disagree on out. the meta-narrative still fits.

        Comment by zero1ghost — March 1, 2011 @ 10:33 am

  8. Ask yourself this if we could unlearn everything we now know, and we had to start again – what do you think we would learn to do first? Where do you think on the scale of priorities learning about god would be?

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 28, 2011 @ 3:09 pm | Reply

    • who is that directed to? if me, then what does this have to do with my questions to you? you are further confirming that you’re not really reading my comments, just waiting to post your next diatribe. answer and start again please.

      Comment by zero1ghost — February 28, 2011 @ 7:46 pm | Reply

  9. Yawn.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — March 1, 2011 @ 1:58 am | Reply

  10. Z1G – I know why religion exists, and why people have created religion. I am an atheist remember, I don’t believe religion is god’s doing, I think religion is explainable via more down to earth reasons – i.e. man desire to control man, mans fear of the unknown etc.

    And I also know why religion makes truth claims that it cannot support – it is because it doesn’t have any evidence, and was invented by stone age people who knew little about knowledge or very few abilities to acquire it – so they just made shit up, and when they couldn’t answer the questions – they just said ‘god did it’ and stopped searching.

    Which is why I have asked you which is most important in the absence of all knowledge – the knowledge of god or the knowledge of the world around us in order to survive and progress as a race of people. This is intrinsically linked to the acquisition of scientific knowledge, which is just an extension of our ability to acquire knowledge.

    Where does our knowledge about god come from – does it come from what we observe about the world, or does it come from other human beings? In the abcence of all knowledge what would we learnt to do first – make fire, build a shelter, learn to read and write or learn about Jesues? And since you need knowledge to aquire knowledge, then can you tell me what we have learnt that is new about god since we have ‘discovered’ his existence?

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — March 1, 2011 @ 2:42 am | Reply

    • i think your question is making shit up. i don’t believe in a tabula rasa. plus judging by anthropology, we made fire, acquired knowledge, learned to survive and yet had religion as well at the same time as all of this, and we will for the foreseeable future. it’s a fact you both won’t deal with. which leads back to the fundamental question which i think you’re asking but refuse to confirm or deny which is “Why does humanity find it necessary for a god narrative-construct?” confirm or deny please.

      Comment by zero1ghost — March 1, 2011 @ 10:16 am | Reply

      • Some people need to create a god construct – not all. I don’t need to create a god construct – I understand what is meant by god but I refute its existence in the same way you understand the concept of the Santa but would refuse to accept the real existence of Santa without evidence.

        I grew out of god when I was about 12… until that point I said prayers every night, and I believed – then I grew up, I think some people just don’t.

        “we made fire, acquired knowledge, learned to survive and yet had religion…”

        The religion we are talking about here isn’t pagan style stuff – it is organized religion, which is a child of pagan style stuff – religion evolved, from worshiping spirits of rivers and trees, to the sun and moon, light and dark to eventually a prophets and sons of god or god(s) [like the holy trinity and Jesus].

        Simple people who were afraid of the dark, had over active imaginations and attributed strange happenings like plague to the wrath of gods… but they didn’t know any different, they had no knowledge – do you really believe for one moment that if they understood what we know now they would sacrifice animals to the gods in exchange for rain or some other sustenance? Would you sacrifice animals and children to please the god now? If not why not? Is it because you have new knowledge about god – how do you know this is not what he wants?

        There are still tribes in the world that if we turned up in a helicopter would think that we were gods – why is this? Is it because they know about the true nature of god – or is it because they know nothing about the science of modern flight?

        If you don’t believe me then why is Prince Philip of the UK royal family considered a god?
        http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/6734469.stm

        Comment by misunderstoodranter — March 1, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

  11. to directly deal with your questions: Where does our knowledge about god come from – does it come from what we observe about the world, or does it come from other human beings?
    -yes.

    In the abcence of all knowledge what would we learnt to do first – make fire, build a shelter, learn to read and write or learn about Jesues?
    -your first line is meaningless and betrays history. plus we had religion around making fire, building a shelter, we learned to read and write and yet back in the day when less than 10% could read or write (not the OR it’s not AND, some could do one but not the other, the percentage that could do both was more around 5% around the 1st century) and we wrote about Jesus. go figure. so your question is absurd and ignores history and shows your need to want to color history with your own anti-religion bias. i would have written atheist bias, but many atheists i know don’t do this, you two are the only ones i have encountered so far with this bias which you promptly label those atheists without your bias as “accommodationists.”

    And since you need knowledge to aquire knowledge, then can you tell me what we have learnt that is new about god since we have ‘discovered’ his existence?
    -which god are we talking about? which religion? specify please. each religion has a specific slant and there are theology books by the dozen out there being written every day. specify your question and you’ll get a specific answer.

    Comment by zero1ghost — March 1, 2011 @ 10:43 am | Reply

    • ” and yet back in the day when less than 10% could read or write (not the OR it’s not AND, some could do one but not the other, the percentage that could do both was more around 5% around the 1st century) and we wrote about Jesus.”

      You really need to provide sources for your ramblings…

      What would be the point of writing if people could not read it! How would they know what they had written made sense?

      We wrote about Jesus first did we – you sure about that (I don’t remember seeing the gospel texts written in Chinese or Egyptian)? The Jews didn’t write the OLD Testament first then? So why is the NEW Testament called the NEW Testament then?

      And before the Jews, the Egyptians wrote nothing? (me thinks they did, in stone, which has been carbon dated http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10345875).

      And we are the ones skewing history – aha!

      As well as re-education yourself about Christianity and its origins – I think you should have a look here as well, you might learn something: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writing

      And: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writing_system

      And: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_writing

      And: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/themes/writing/historic_writing.aspx

      By the way – Humans in their modern form have been around for about 200,000 years or so… and full modernity about 50,000 years ago: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human

      “-which god are we talking about? which religion? specify please. each religion has a specific slant and there are theology books by the dozen out there being written every day. specify your question and you’ll get a specific answer.”

      And this bit is the kicker for me… now I am literally gob smacked by the amount of mental gymnastics and putty logic that you are presenting to me. The answer to this ridiculously stupid question – is any god, any religion!

      You know if you are so sure that there is a god you would think that you would have these answers to hand, that you would be able to provide a logical answer, that has sources and references that would make it challenging to answer you.

      As I have said many times before – you state what you believe, but you do not and seem incapable of stating WHY you believe in what you do (without excruciatingly large amounts of added spin, nonsense, lack of sources etc.).

      Before you respond again:
      1) Think about your argument critically!
      2) Research some stuff – provide sources and references before you make a statement that you regard as a fact!
      3) Try to put an argument together – without lowering the tone to name calling and unfounded accusations as I am getting a little tired of your immature tone.

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — March 1, 2011 @ 1:50 pm | Reply

  12. “Some people need to create a god construct – not all.”

    this is not a sentence. what do you mean?

    “I grew out of god when I was about 12”

    there are very few things i think i still believe from when i was 12. i call this the “Ricky Gervais” de-conversion story. it’s built on binary logic and equates God-as-a-being with Santa Claus. i don’t believe in that God either, so in that sense, i’m an atheist much as you are.

    “religion evolved, from worshiping spirits of rivers and trees, to the sun and moon, light and dark to eventually a prophets and sons of god or god(s) [like the holy trinity and Jesus].”

    this misses the narrative aspect of religion. we are a story people, we are already engaged in a narrative construct. religions lay down a hopeful spin on the beginning (God/gods created and stated it was good), a direction with common themes (liberation theology states: life is wrot with systematic injustice and oppression and religion’s work is toward liberation and resurrection of each individual lives and our corporate life), and a great ending (heaven, nirvana, end to the cycle of death and rebirth, etc). it packages this shared story and themes into a community network because humans are social creatures and function at their best collectively (evolutionary fact) and work best when they have a goal (survival for starters, then reform, uphold tradition, resist outsiders, form utopia, etc. also an evolutionary and social psychology fact). thus you see that your utilitarian view of religion is incomplete and covers only one aspect of the wider scope of what religions do, what verified truths they operate on, and why they are so wide spread. also it sheds light on why there are those out there who oppose the fact of evolution because it messes with their narrative theme. so it’s the challenge of scientists and atheists such as yourself, to create a more compelling narrative argument than what is currently out there.. so how would you? what is the beginning, middle, and end complete with thematic morals and recurring themes?

    Comment by zero1ghost — March 1, 2011 @ 1:44 pm | Reply

  13. More or less everything you have mentioned here is improvable, untestable.

    Evolution *is* testable, carbon dating *is* testable, translation of ancient texts *is* possible. The idea of resurrection to heaven is *not* testable, there is no proof that this happens – not one shred of evidence. Rebirth is *not* testable – again this is wishful thinking for those people who are trying to find comfort for either their own mortality or the mortality of those that they love. And this is the difference – something you seem to be having great difficulty comprehending. Belief does not make facts, evidence makes facts.
    Upholding tradition and resisting outsiders based on unfounded beliefs, causes conflict and misery for thousands of people worldwide.

    Sam Harris writes in his book The End of Faith:

    “Our world is fast succumbing to the activities of men and women who would stake the future of our species on beliefs that should not survive an elementary school education. That so many of us are still dying on account of ancient myths is as bewildering as it is horrible, and our own attachment to these myths, whether moderate or extreme, has kept us silent in the face of developments that could ultimately destroy us. Indeed, religion is as much a living spring of violence today as it was at any time in the past. The recent conflicts in Palestine (Jews v. Muslims), the Balkans (Orthodox Serbians v. Catholic Croatians; Orthodox Serbians v. Bosnian and Albanian Muslims), Northern Ireland (Protestants v. Catholics), Kashmir (Muslims v. Hindus), Sudan (Muslims v. Christians and animists), Nigeria (Muslims v. Christians), Ethiopia and Eritrea (Muslims v.Christians), Sri Lanka (Sinhalese Buddhists v. Tamil Hindus), Indonesia (Muslims v. Timorese Christians), and the Caucasus (Orthodox Russians v. Chechen Muslims; Muslim Azerbaijanis v. Catholic and Orthodox Armenians) are merely a few cases in point. In these places religion has been the explicit cause of literally millions of deaths in the last ten years. These events should strike us like psychological experiments run amok, for that is what they are. Give people divergent, irreconcilable, and untestable notions about what happens after death, and then oblige them to live together with limited resources. The result is just what we see: an unending cycle of murder and cease-fire. If history reveals any categorical truth, it is that an insufficient taste for evidence regularly brings out the worst in us. Add weapons of mass destruction to this diabolical clockwork, and you have found a recipe for the fall of civilization.

    What can be said of the nuclear brinkmanship between India and Pakistan if their divergent religious beliefs are to be “respected”? There is nothing for religious pluralists to criticize but each country’s poor diplomacy—while, in truth, the entire conflict is born of an irrational embrace of myth. Over one million people died in the orgy of religious killing that attended the partitioning of India and Pakistan. The two countries have since fought three official wars, suffered a continuous bloodletting at their shared border, and are now poised to exterminate one another with nuclear weapons simply because they disagree about “facts” that are every bit as fanciful as the names of Santa’s reindeer. And their discourse is such that they are capable of mustering a suicidal level of enthusiasm for these subjects without evidence.”

    Z1G: “thus you see that your utilitarian view of religion is incomplete and covers only one aZIGspect of the wider scope of what religions do, what verified truths they operate on, and why they are so wide spread. also it sheds light on why there are those out there who oppose the fact of evolution because it messes with their narrative theme. so it’s the challenge of scientists and atheists such as yourself, to create a more compelling narrative argument than what is currently out there.. so how would you?”

    MUR: Religion is so wide spread because ignorance is so wide spread – no one who has been educated believes in the ‘rain dance’ for the generation of rain or the sacrifice of animals for the prayer of harvest. Sensible people in the west do not go to a homeopath for cancer treatment – they fall back onto testable reliable proven scientific treatments – treatments developed through the application of logic, experiment, analysis and reason.

    Z1G: “so it’s the challenge of scientists and atheists such as yourself, to create a more compelling narrative argument than what is currently out there.. so how would you?

    MUR: Atheism and science are not a beliefs, they do not seek to provide an alternative to religion. Atheism is a statement of non-belief. Science is a method of inquiry that involves the study of observable, demonstrable and repeatable phenomena for the purposes of seeking knowledge.

    I don’t care about giving people an alternative to religion – if they require comfort of religion, they are best staying with it privately. What I care about is the rule of law and society that is based on secular values, that is free of dogma and irrational assumptions and conclusions based on fairy tales and lies.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — March 1, 2011 @ 3:07 pm | Reply

  14. BTW: Sam Harris’ book is here: http://www.socialist-federation.org/Books/Harris,%20Sam%20-%20The%20End%20of%20Faith.pdf

    You should read it – it is enlightening.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — March 1, 2011 @ 3:08 pm | Reply

  15. “And this is the difference – something you seem to be having great difficulty comprehending. Belief does not make facts, evidence makes facts.”

    -where do i assert this? all i did was layout the narrative construct for religion. i didn’t advocate for it, just provided the logical and anthropologically accepted basis for religion. nor did i give you any element of my own. thus your belief does not make facts, this evidence is fact.

    I read Sam Harris’ letter to a Christian Nation and it wasn’t directed at me and i stopped. I was not compelled nor did I find him all that helpful or enlightening. What you’ve put here could also be put in different light: tribalism, nationalism, etc. Religion didn’t start these conflicts but it does conflate them. Notice you don’t see any mystics running around attacking people? No Sufis blowing themselves up. Nor do we have an atheist nation to compare it with… well.. maybe we do. we have China oppressing Tibet and leading a quiet genocide there. what say you?

    “Religion is so wide spread because ignorance is so wide spread”
    -it is not the ignorant that caused our economic crisis, the world wars, that start and benefit from war period, that created and dropped the atomic bomb, but highly educated smart people.

    “Atheism and science are not a beliefs, they do not seek to provide an alternative to religion.”
    -atheism is an apophatic belief. it is not a belief system, although that’s what i see Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens are trying to do and you’ve bought into with your verbage, intolerant attitude and anti-religion rhetoric. i’m not advocating for a replacement or alternative, what i’m advocating and you have missed is “don’t discard the narrative and social power of stories.” until you and your group realize this, you’ll be facing an uphill battle.. which is why some 60% of science teachers (according to the last Time of January) don’t fully teach evolution. the story told is not compelling and they don’t know what to do with it.

    “irrational assumptions and conclusions based on fairy tales and lies.”
    -even if those conclusions like justice for the poor, caring for the sick, elderly, and oppressed, love of neighbor, humility, and other such good things? do the ends justify the means? are you deontological in your outlook or teleological?

    Comment by zero1ghost — March 1, 2011 @ 3:24 pm | Reply

    • .”-where do i assert this?”

      Silly putty time: in the text that you wrote above – my misunderstanding is your lack of ability to write meaningful things and stick to what you mean – you are like a dozen snakes in a bucket of grease – this does not make you clever, it makes you come across with unstructured thinking, and flippant minded. Here is a great example: “I read Sam Harris’ letter to a Christian Nation and it wasn’t directed at me and i stopped.” [Ignorance is not a flattering trait].

      “What you’ve put here could also be put in different light: tribalism, nationalism, etc.
      Only if you are intellectually dishonest to the point of being delusional; you are diluting a fact, spinning something that is well known and recorded in war tribunals to support your delusion – that is not a smart argument to take.

      “Notice you don’t see any mystics running around attacking people?”
      And this proves what? That religious people do not blow themselves up in the name of their religion? Who cares what mystics do – I don’t as long as they do it in private. Same with religion – couldn’t care less if religious people want to believe in god. The problem is when they assert this self-created authority on the rest of society, when there is no evidence of god. You are having a real problem with this very simple thing:

      [RELIGION HAS NO EVIDENCE]
      Therefore if religion says you will go to hell for saying “fuck you Jesus!” and a law is passed that restricts freedom of speech to ban people from saying this or they will be stoned to death – then it is unjust. Because there is no evidence for Hell, and there is very little unbelievable evidence for a man called Jesus who can raise the dead, and walk on water.

      On the other hand, if a scientific study says “It is important to teach children about sex education in school before the age of X, because studies and analyses of data from X,Y,Z countries indicate a reduced number of unwanted pregnancies.” then this is a statement based on demonstrable evidence.

      “Nor do we have an atheist nation to compare it with… well.. maybe we do. we have China oppressing Tibet and leading a quiet genocide there. what say you?”

      China is a dictatorship that is based on a communist ideology – atheism is not an ideology, it is a statement of non-belief (we keep correcting you on this point – remember we are the atheists – we know what it means to be one). Besides the fact that China has a religious community… Stalin’s communism banned all religion because it competed with his ideology – in other words he wanted people to worship him and not god.

      “which is why some 60% of science teachers (according to the last Time of January) don’t fully teach evolution.”

      If this statistic is correct – then it is because 60% of teachers are biasing their teaching based on their personal beliefs, and not on the academic material that they should be teaching. This is unethical when performing the role of an educator, because it means these teachers are hiding information that they personally disagree with, and says a lot about the mentality of teachers who are religious. They will go to any extent even to the point of conspiracy to muddy the waters and brainwash young minds see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District
      Would you want a school teacher to only teacher to pollute children’s minds with their own political opinion?

      Science does not do this, science provides its conclusions based on all the evidence it used, together with the full methodology, it does not bias the evidence, or hid it even if the answer is not what the author wanted to see – because there are controls within the scientific community that prevent this from happening (it is called peer review): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Fleischmann

      “the story told is not compelling and they don’t know what to do with it.”

      Evolution is not a *story* it is a peer reviewed scientific fact that has been tested for decades and backed up with tones of evidence from every branch of science!

      “-even if those conclusions like justice for the poor, caring for the sick, elderly, and oppressed, love of neighbor, humility, and other such good things? do the ends justify the means? are you deontological in your outlook or teleological?”

      You forgot to add raping children, proving filthy hospitals for the poor, hording money, murdering abortion doctors, spreading lies about the effectiveness of condoms, preventing genetic research, stoning women and blasphemers, circumcising children, blowing up planes, indoctrination of children to the list.

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — March 1, 2011 @ 5:23 pm | Reply

  16. do you happen to read any fiction? if so what kind? i’m a big fan of sci-fi, mainly because sci-fi is often an exploration of the question of what qualifies as human. sometimes it can better name our situation than the facts can.. take for example the updated BSG series that was on the SyFy Channel a few years back… it better defined the post-9/11 world than any political pundit or social scientist could. perfect example of the narrative power of what you would label “lies.”

    Comment by zero1ghost — March 1, 2011 @ 3:29 pm | Reply

    • Yes – the bible.

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — March 1, 2011 @ 5:23 pm | Reply

    • I don’t label fiction as ‘lies’ unless someone tries to assert that the fiction is literally true. I think this is the case here but you seem to have difficulty grasping this point, but it’s hardly a subtle one. I happen to love a lot of made-up shit but I don’t pretend it is otherwise except in symbolic and figurative representation (which may be accurate or not and open to debate due to preferences of interpretation), whereas you cross that boundary effortlessly when it comes to theology. You don’t make any distinction between the literal and the figurative. You just pick and choose at your own convenience and assume these literal claims when questioned for legitimacy are a trivial consideration when they are not.

      Comment by tildeb — March 2, 2011 @ 2:35 pm | Reply

      • oh so you’re only against literalists?! me too! why didn’t you say so in the first place. you constantly put universalizing things like ALL in front of believers and/or religion.

        “You just pick and choose at your own convenience and assume these literal claims when questioned for legitimacy are a trivial consideration when they are not.”
        -i do? oh… that stinks. on what do you base this on? what evidence? oh, you have none. figured. check out modern biblical criticism. Bart Ehrman and Walter Bruggamen would be helpful as well. Also the late, great Peter Gnome’s The Good Book would shed some light on it. it’s by no means a game of pick and choose as you would like to color it. if you want to be against something, best understand it fully which you obviously don’t. i wonder what is keep you from admiting you’re wrong or misguided on this quest? your ego? you binary approach to life? i dunno… i learned humility from my Roman Catholic upbringing and start my hermeneutic from a place of suspicion.. meaning when i study something i start from being suspicious of what i’m studying as well as my own assumptions about it. where do you start from?

        Comment by zero1ghost — March 2, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

      • Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you believed god was real. My mistake.

        As for the reading list, this is the typical Courtier’s Reply.

        And as to your picking and choosing, follow along with your original comment, first sentence: so science knows what religion has known all along. Note the verb to know. Religion in the sense of scientific understanding of what we call knowledge knows nothing. Yet you claim it does. When asked about this specific literal truth claim, you bait and switch to creation narratives, meaning figurative stories of symbolic meaning somehow count, and pretend that this ‘knowledge’ is equivalent to and predates scientific understanding.

        This is evidence of your picking and choosing between the literal (religion knows stuff that science is just figuring out) and the figurative and jumping between them at your convenience.

        If you stuck to the point that we can gain wisdom from ancient narratives, we wouldn’t be having this dialogue because we’d be in full agreement. For some reason, belief in the interventionist powers of a knowable Oogity Boogity figure seems to play a rather central role specifically in religios faith, and it is this aspect that makes my intellect cringe with embarrassment on behalf of my primate family. We don’t need any literal belief in the veracity of Oogity Boogity to appreciate the wisdom offered to us in narratives that may include (and in myth always does) supernatural elements.

        Comment by tildeb — March 2, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

      • “As for the reading list, this is the typical Courtier’s Reply.”

        the Courtier’s Reply has no history in logical arguments, just made up from Dawkins ilk any time someone shows him his own ignorance. it has no basis because anytime a reading list or reference is presented, then the Courtier’s Reply comes in. you know nothing of modern biblical criticism. it’s apparent. no need to try to cover this up with a made up reply. so when i was referred to Sam Harris’ book, that would be a CR too. thus, a meaningless phrase invented only to save your ego.

        “And as to your picking and choosing, follow along with your original comment, first sentence:”

        that is not what your original comment was in reference to. you stated “whereas you cross that boundary effortlessly when it comes to theology.” we were talking about the process of how theology is made based on the texts. your argument was about theology, yet you bait and switch and state “religion knows nothing.. blah blah blah.” which is not what the topic was. nice try though.

        “If you stuck to the point that we can gain wisdom from ancient narratives, we wouldn’t be having this dialogue because we’d be in full agreement.” really? cause each conversation this is the topic at hand and one you and MUSR constantly deny and treat with contempt. that’s why i go at you so hard.. if you think we have nothing to learn from ancient narratives or ancient peoples you’re dead wrong. if you think we have nothing to learn from religions based around these ancient narratives you’re also dead wrong. we are in full agreement about how the dark side of religion is bad and should be fought at all costs: wars, fanatics, literalists, and anti-science. you happen to be doing it “from the outside” so to speak and i happen to be doing it, along with SVS, “from the inside.”

        while SVS and I do believe in an oogity boogity, we’re not the strawman you have made nor do we carry the same assumptions as those you’re fighting against. it just took you this long to figure it out. you and i have the same enemy.

        as for a “specific literal truth claim” i have repeated stated “specify your answer and you’ll get a specific answer.” i don’t read the bible literally, and here’s the catch… neither does anyone else! interpretation is always at hand and if you’re not reading the original language with a socio-historic understanding then you have at least 5 levels of interpretation between the original language in the original context (ancient turns of phrase, puns, allusions, euphemisms etc) and English and our equivalent modern meaning of said turn of phrase, pun, allusion. hence why the method of modern criticism is so important.

        Comment by zero1ghost — March 2, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

      • With enough scattershot, something might hit the target, eh? But this response is a clear miss.

        The Courtier’s Reply reveals the absurdity of trying to gain in-depth knowledge about something that doesn’t exist… written PZ Myers about the criticism that Dawkins’ target – religious belief – is too simple a caricature of the religious belief ‘most’ people have. The absurdity, of course, is that sophisticated biblical criticism isn’t what’s at stake here and never was. (3/4 of the American public believe in the literal reality of angels but less than 20% accept evolution as a natural and unguided biological process!)

        What is at stake is how you assert that religion ‘knows’ something that only now science is revealing to be true. My issue remains that religion – meaning the faith-based claims – knows nothing because it cannot know anything. And it cannot know anything because faith-based beliefs have no reliable, testable, verifiable means to ‘know’ anything. Your point is that the ‘narratives’ found within religions do know something, something important and valuable, but you mistake the figurative message in these metaphorical narratives as evidence for something more than just another fictional narrative that possesses wisdom. Enter faith about some literal Oogity Boogity and that is where my disagreement with your position lies.

        You could tell me how valuable, let’s say, the Green Knight is as a tale of wisdom and I would agree. You could point out the religious references that help inform understanding the symbols, and I would agree. But we would disagree if you suggested that the Green Knight was valuable due to the religious component, and our disagreement would deepen if you suggested that this narrative adds anything at all to assuming the narrative of the Green Knight was in some way a living embodiment of some god… and that associated beliefs about god this were worthy of my respect and tolerance because the story of the Green Knight itself has figurative and symbolic value. The value lies in the narrative itself and is not due in any way, shape, or fashion to the the religious component that merely serves a greater master.

        As far as my accusation that one does not ‘come’ to faith but starts there, one need to look no further than the central role geography plays in religious belief. People in the downtown east side of St Louis don’t suddenly realize the ‘truth’ of islam any more than someone from Tripoli investigates his religious sensitivities and comes to the conclusion that Scientology fits his model. Religions come pre-packaged as complete sets of ‘true’ beliefs and geography – not truth value – determines which set will be believed. There is no inquiry.

        Comment by tildeb — March 2, 2011 @ 10:59 pm

  17. as an overview: you mentioned the Rig-Veda. i asked my Hindu friend what he thought.. he said “Oh, you must be talking to a Westerner. We don’t have problems with literalism in the Hindu faith. We have fanatics, sure, but not literalists. We know it’s not science. Yet the ironic thing is that most scientists are now Hindu as India is the leader in the sciences.”

    you state “More or less everything you have mentioned here is improvable, untestable.” yet claim you’re not an empiricist. either this is a rhetorical tactic to prove you’re unwinnable stance and you don’t believe it… or you’re confused and are, in fact, an empiricist. your snarky reply of “Yes-the bible” i’ll take as further proof of the former rather than the latter. plus you’re right, much of the bible is indeed fiction and it takes a far about of historical and textual criticism as well as form and redactive skills to figure this out. literalists don’t both with these sort of thing, seems neither do you. you’re not a literalist as well are you? you quit when you were 12, so my hunch is yes.

    Comment by zero1ghost — March 1, 2011 @ 9:12 pm | Reply

    • This is the point Z1G – you can take science literally, therefore it can be used for practical things, like education and law. Religion cannot be taken literally, therefore it has no place in the governance of a modern society – this is why atheists are outspoken about religion, because it IS fiction, a fiction that people use to bias life decisions regarding abortion, decisions regard euthanasia, decisions regarding education, decisions regarding medical research etc.

      I think you are referring to Hindutva, which is actually the secularisation of the Indian nation – this is the equivalent role of Christianity within the United Kingdom – where the head of state is the defender of faith for the Church of England – for traditional and ceremonial reasons. Yet the ruling elected parliament is essentially secular. This is the place that all organised religions will eventually go to die – as people finally wake up from this terrible religious nightmare that has plagued the world for centuries.

      Basing a society on Stone Age beliefs is stupid – anyone with an ounce of intelligence can see that it is unworkable. Basing a society of facts that everyone more or less agrees with that has supporting evidence is a more sensible approach and this is why the separation of church from state is essential.

      I want children to be taught to evaluate all the evidence, and to understand how to make an informed decision based on the facts that they review – because what is real here and now is important. The indoctrination of children into religious sects is the cause of many of the world’s problems and it is easy to fix – don’t have religious schools, don’t teach religion as fact and treat religion with the same contempt that we do fairy stories.

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — March 2, 2011 @ 1:25 am | Reply

  18. “you can take science literally, therefore it can be used for practical things, like education and law.”

    yet another contradiction for you. i declared you a science-literalist and an atheist fundamentalist. this proves it. and i see you point… but humans deal in sign and symbol, so pay attention to those things.

    “decisions regarding abortion, decisions regard euthanasia, decisions regarding education, decisions regarding medical research etc.”

    we all are. science does not speak to these things, only gives us options. it is the tool, but what we do with it is largely a slant of the mind. take abortion and euthanasia, the question is how sacred is life and people are uncomfortable allowing it to end and don’t want that decision in another’s hands. take the singularity movement, they seek to end death… this is just the latest quest for the fountain of youth or the holy grail. religion at it’s best speaks to not only how to live your life, but to be okay with the fact that it ends.

    “I think you are referring to Hindutva,”

    no, i’m referring to the Hindu religion… it’s not an organized religion as we would understand it here. very amorphous and constantly moving. not top down, not rigidly followed.

    “that has plagued the world for centuries.”

    i think what you’re confused with is the doctrinal, literal, and rigid version of organize religion. i’m against that too. getting rid of religion or calling it a plague won’t get rid of wars or disease or usher in a utopia, it will just make people have other reasons for killing one another. religion is not the plague, we are.

    “Basing a society on Stone Age beliefs is stupid – anyone with an ounce of intelligence can see that it is unworkable”
    -agreed. that’s why most have upgraded to a medieval set of beliefs (Catholic) or an idealized modernist set of beliefs (evangelicals). yet what about us are based on stone aged beliefs? i mean these people built Stonehenge and the pyramids, the temple of karnack, and achieved geometric perfection with the temple of Hatshepsut without our modern math or tools. they weren’t entirely stupid. we can learn from them. they are part of our history. but to take a rigid view of them would indeed be folly.

    “…treat religion with the same contempt that we do fairy stories”

    sounds like you’re spinning your own fairy tale. and i don’t treat fairy tales with contempt, i take away the moral, i learn from it. maybe that’s the problem… you can’t learn from things due to your ego or you think you already have the answers. either way, doesn’t sound like an enjoyable way to go through life with all that contempt. best of luck with that.

    Comment by zero1ghost — March 2, 2011 @ 10:12 am | Reply

  19. “yet another contradiction for you. i declared you a science-literalist and an atheist fundamentalist. this proves it. and i see you point… ”

    As I have said before, what matters is what people are fundamental about – we are pretty fundamental about gravity. So if I am fundamentalist about science then that’s great because it means that I look at the evidence carefully before I conclude, and it also means I will change my mind if new evidence comes to light… this is the very definition of an open mind.

    “but humans deal in sign and symbol, so pay attention to those things.”

    Sorry you have lost me here… is this some mystical thing? What sign and symbol are you refering to here? What – does – this – mean!?!

    “the question is how sacred is life and people are uncomfortable allowing it to end and don’t want that decision in another’s hands.”

    ‘Some’ people (not all!) are uncomfortable allowing it [their life] to end. Oddly the most religious tend to hold this view, the very ones who ‘believe’ that they have heaven waiting for them! You would think they couldn’t wait to die wouldn’t you?.

    I am not scared of death in the slightest, what I am scared about is living for years in pain or trapped inside my own body without the dignity to wipe my own arse – I want the option to be able to make the decision to end my own life, when the time is right for me, for justifiable medical reasons, such as pain, or very poor quality of life. Religious people some of who would say they are ‘moderate’ or apologetic, defining what is morally right for me – because they believe that their morals come from god, and therefore they must be right.

    Religion offers nothing with regard to these issues – other than ‘though shall not’ which can be the most inhuman cruellest thing in the world – if you have ever witnessed someone taking a long time to die I can assure you it is not pleasant in the slightest, especially when the person involved just wants to die quickly without pain. Then there are the loons who will not allow their own children to have blood transfusions that will save their own child’s life, because they think their morals (given to them by god – which they cannot prove to exist) are more important than the right for their own child to have a perfectly normal life.
    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,100175,00.html

    “no, i’m referring to the Hindu religion… it’s not an organized religion as we would understand it here. very amorphous and constantly moving. not top down, not rigidly followed.”

    I think you need to look up Hindutva before you comment any further on this subject…

    And while you are at it, have a look at this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/nov/07/india.mainsection

    moving forward was it?

    opps and another:
    http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20020302&slug=uglyindia02

    Hindus are becoming more secular, this is the reason why they are less fundamentalist. Secularism is easy compared to living in a religious state, for one reason only tolerance, and where does that tolerance come from?

    “sounds like you’re spinning your own fairy tale. and i don’t treat fairy tales with contempt, i take away the moral, i learn from it. maybe that’s the problem… you can’t learn from things due to your ego or you think you already have the answers. either way, doesn’t sound like an enjoyable way to go through life with all that contempt. best of luck with that.”

    Thanks for your concern – but I really don’t need it, in the same way I don’t need fairy tales or religion to give me morals. I don’t need a religion to guide me or comfort me. Morals don’t come from religion, they were hi-jacked by religion. An Islamic suicide bomber believes that they are doing the moral thing, just right before they blow up people going about their daily business.

    You claim that your ‘religion’ is different, that somehow this watered down hog wash is better than pure fundamentalist religion – but it isn’t, because it shows up your intellectual dishonesty the most. The reason for this is that it is only possible by cherry picking the good things about religion, and not looking at the subject holistically. You filter it, and tweak with it to the point where you will distort reality to defend the indefensible. And you believe that this is more benign, but you could not be more wrong; and here is the reason why:

    ‘That would be fine if policy-makers accepted that the results from the Census are merely an indicator of broad cultural affiliation. But what people do not realise is that by ticking the “Christian” box rather than the “No religion” box – which would more accurately reflect their identity – they have contributed to data used to justify an increase in the number of “faith” schools, the public funding of religious groups, keeping Bishops in the House of Lords as of right, and the continuation of ****compulsory**** worship in schools. The flawed Census data on religion is used to justify these and a whole host of other such policies that are damaging, divisive and, importantly, do not reflect the real demographics of our society.”

    Source: http://www.humanism.org.uk/news/view/682

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — March 2, 2011 @ 4:07 pm | Reply

  20. “The Courtier’s Reply reveals the absurdity of trying to gain in-depth knowledge about something that doesn’t exist”
    -so you misused it as i was talking about biblical criticism and you were talking about things “in general” as you are want to do. well, we both are to be honest.

    “What is at stake is how you assert that religion ‘knows’ something that only now science is revealing to be true”

    “But we would disagree if you suggested that the Green Knight was valuable due to the religious component,”
    -never my argument. you are an atheist and i respect that. i’m not into such low conversion tactics or conversion at all.
    -absolutely. there are many claims made, there is an organized structure and way of interpreting the world and humans need that. whether it be a bunch of stories or a scientific method that say “this is like that” or “this story reflects a truth about humanity” we are both interpreting reality.

    “As far as my accusation that one does not ‘come’ to faith but starts there, one need to look no further than the central role geography plays in religious belief.”
    -you lost me. my tradition has always described faith through the metaphor of the journey. the process of figuring things out and nothing is out of bounds (we have many university profs, from 4 area schools). science is preached right alongside the bible and theology and we view that one informs the other and when science and our tradition disagree, science wins or is at least allowed to alter our interpretation. i have no idea or experience of the type of faith you are talking about, only in the fact that i view the more conservative types in religion doing what you’re talking about, but i’m not sure i can verify those results because i have experience too many people who have “come to the faith” and ended up fundamentalist because they see value in the narrative.

    and it’s good to point out, that when i’m speaking of these things, i’m speaking sole of the narrative and figurative aspects here. i’m not speaking of intrinsic values or the “naturalness” of believing in God or even the need to believe in God as a being period. i’m simply stating religion is of value and has uncovered truths of human organization, human nature, and social realities: unions, 5 day work week, and AA springs to mind most readily. no god needed there for these social facts.

    Comment by zero1ghost — March 3, 2011 @ 11:53 am | Reply

  21. “i’m simply stating religion is of value and has uncovered truths of human organization, human nature, and social realities: unions, 5 day work week, and AA springs to mind most readily. no god needed there for these social facts.”

    So have authors such as Dickens, Orwell and Shakespeare.

    The 5 day week is really a product of secularisation – because Christians regard Sunday as a Day of rest, and the Jewish community regard the Sabbath as the day of rest, so in order to keep workers happy from both religions, both days were given by industrialists. This is the very nature of secularism, which tends to occur when multiple faiths are accommodated in a democratic society. The purpose of secularism is to keep the peace.

    Modern trade unions could be likened to guilds, which do have a religious association as well as associations with national empires; on that point, I would agree that religion has done something to promote a benefit to society at large. But in itself this is not evidence that the core belief of religion (i.e the belief in god) is true. Many other organisations have achieved the same sorts of social changes equally as well if not better, without the need to invoke the imagined will of an imaginary all powerful being.

    I do also agree that belief in the imagined must have provided some advantage, I think (although I think Tildeb disagrees – as I remember a similar debate between us) that religion is explainable as a by-product of our evolved brain’s ability to construct and believe in the imagined. The formation of religious groups must have provided some strength, some support structure, which provided an evolutionary advantage over those who did not maintain a social structure. But this on its own is not evidence that religion is literally true… it is just an infectious bad idea that also happened to benefit humans as a species within its natural environment.

    Most (but not all) religions are based is on uniting people against an enemy – to invoke this type of psychology there is nothing more effective than the promotion of fear of an enemy, and the promotion of love and peace with those who you are neighbours with for the purposes of building allies against common enemies – be they other religions, non-believers in your religion etc.

    The problem with religion is that it used to be restricted by geography, which is why some parts of the world are Christian and some parts of the World are Islamic, Hindu etc. However, in the new world of jet planes, roads, trains, boats and next to realtime telecommunications, it can be more than a little awkward (i.e. conflict arises). Combine that with the ability to make WMD and you start to wonder if religion is actually a self-fulfilling prophecy!

    Does religion REALLY justify the of killing people, holding back technology and scientific progress, assaulting human rights over subjects as human as abortion, euthanasia, gender and sexuality… and if you think it does do you not think we should have some hard fact to base this on before we actually pass laws that allow death and prejudice on these matters?

    Your statements about religion being true in the “moral” are also true in the statements regarding the “immoral”, and not just at the extremist end of the belief system, but also at the moderate end.

    I have no more intention of stopping people from worshiping religion any more than I have the motive to stop them from reading Dickens. The problem is when religious faiths try to assert their imagined authority (via the moderate end) over and above what is regarded as general human rights that apply to all.

    I welcome the teaching of religion in schools, in fact I think it should be compulsory, but not in its current format within faith schools, and certainly not in science class. Religion should be taught as a separate topic, and should compare and contrast all religions against each of the main religions. The religions themselves should be placed under critical analysis by the children themselves as part of a well-balanced education.

    I want all children to be given the chance to make their ‘own’ minds up about whether religion is true or false, based on the delivery and analysis of religious scripture without bias and cherry picking the good bits. If religion is truly about the interpretation of the scripture then children need to read it for themselves at an age where they can form an opinion without being indoctrinated by the brainwashing techniques deployed by preachers, pastors, vicars, rabbis’, nuns, priests etc.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — March 3, 2011 @ 4:18 pm | Reply

  22. “So have authors such as Dickens, Orwell and Shakespeare.”
    -i would go with Huxley instead of Orwell. and shakespeare is said to have been a better psychologist than Freud, and i’m inclined to agree with that assessment.

    ranter i want to thank you for this risk and this glimpse of the person behind the rhetoric and universal statements. while we’re coming from different places and worldviews, i see that we are in agreement largely here save for your last line (since i’m a preacher that doesn’t use indoctrination techniques or brainwashing tactics.. there are a few of us out there).

    “Most (but not all) religions are based is on uniting people against an enemy”
    -you may want to check out Rene Girard. fascinating dude writing on this very fact and states that this is the “truth hidden since the foundation of the world.” and states that the original Christian church knew this truth until it was appropriated by the empire. i would agree with him.

    thanks for your time and well thought out and honest reply.

    Comment by zero1ghost — March 3, 2011 @ 7:54 pm | Reply

    • oh, and esp. thank you for putting “Most (but not all) religions” i about fell out of my chair. great!

      Comment by zero1ghost — March 3, 2011 @ 7:55 pm | Reply


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