Lions and tigers and religion, oh my!
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30-08-2011, 08:20 PM
RE: Lions and tigers and religion, oh my!
Lions are bad when they eat people....
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30-08-2011, 08:55 PM
RE: Lions and tigers and religion, oh my!
(30-08-2011 08:20 PM)BGrambo Wrote:  Lions are bad when they eat people....

Thread over. BGrambo wins.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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31-08-2011, 06:41 AM
RE: Lions and tigers and religion, oh my!
Tribalism is in many ways a useful thing. It's not wrong for sub cultures to feel a special connection. Nationalism is where things get awkward, when the only unifying point is where people are born or a singular idea. If most Asian people in New York want to live near each other that does not cause huge issues, in fact it expands new york by allowing more cultural diversity. There is nothing wrong with people having their own beliefs. If we were to remove tribalism we would be promoting homogeneity. Homogeneity always leads to problems though as it's been proven that diversity is the key to tackling unexpected problems.

I can agree that there's an issue with patriotism, but there are plenty of groups of people who live their own style of life and rarely (sometimes never) cause harm to other people. Yes unification is a good goal but that does not mean we have to force everyone to agree on everything. We want our differences because they make us stronger.

Otherwise I agree =p

What's wrong with eating people? What an odd answer you have there, good for the man killing lion it's found a plentiful food source =p

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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31-08-2011, 08:31 AM
RE: Lions and tigers and religion, oh my!
Hey, BnW.

You miss my point entirely.

Hey, Sines.

You're demonstrating what I'm talking about.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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31-08-2011, 11:16 AM
RE: Lions and tigers and religion, oh my!
(31-08-2011 08:31 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, BnW.

You miss my point entirely.

Could be. So, then explain to me your point. How does religion just "do" without being responsible for anything?

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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31-08-2011, 12:37 PM
RE: Lions and tigers and religion, oh my!
Hey, BnW.

Ok. Let's see if I can clarify this. I'm happy to, just so you know.

First of all, that's not what I'm saying. I never used the word responsible. So if you think that any of this has the purpose of letting religion off the hook for anything, that's not at all what I'm saying.

In the lion example, I'm not saying that lions don't, didn't or won't eat things. They aren’t off the hook for anything. What I am asking is, does anything else do that and if so, why do they ALL do it? Is it because of the lion, or is it because of something they all share?

FERRARIS

A Ferrari is a fast car. It goes fast. It serves other functions (cup holder, comfy seat, stereo, air conditioning, whathaveyou) but going fast is simply one of its functions. It doesn't have to go fast, but the capability is there and if someone whips past you on the highway like a blip, you wouldn't bat an eye because you know Ferrari's can do that. The driver is responsible for making it go fast. But Ferrari's don't cause fast cars.

They do. They commit acts of high speed. But they don’t cause.

Lamborghinis, Porsches, Mustangs, Mazzeratis, are all fast cars too. They can also go fast. But none of them caused fast cars either.

We aren't shocked when we see ANY of them go fast because we know they're ALL fast cars.

If we want to eliminate fast cars, then focusing on Ferraris is a waste of time because other fast cars will not only continue to be built, they'll just take over Ferrari's market share once it's gone.

RELIGIONS

Religious organisations are hierarchical organisations. They commit acts of atrocity. They fulfil other roles (spreading wisdom, revenue earning, moral compass, defining truth, teaching, comforting, lifting up, absolving) but committing atrocity is simply one of its functions. It doesn't have to commit atrocity, but the capability is there and if you read a historical account of a religious organisation committing an act of atrocity you wouldn't bat an eye because you know religious organisations can do that. The organisation’s decision makers are responsible for the acts of atrocity (responsibility is shared, but that’s a debate that can easily spiral and isn’t utterly necessary for this, so I’m keeping it simple). But religions don't cause atrocity.

They do. They commit acts of atrocity. But they don’t cause.
Corporations, Soviets, Armies, Republics, City States, Monarchies, Feudal States, are all hierarchical organisations too. They can also commit acts of atrocity. But none of them caused atrocity either.

We aren't shocked when we see ANY of them commit acts of atrocity because we know they're ALL capable of acts of atrocity.

If we want to eliminate atrocity, then focusing on religion is a waste of time because other hierarchical organisations will not only continue to thrive, they'll just take over religion's market share once it's gone.

Religion simply DOES what it's designed to do. That is not an exoneration. It's a recognition. But the question is, where does that capacity to commit acts of atrocity originate? Some people say within religion itself, but religion isn't the cause of atrocity anymore than lions are the cause of carnivorism. Lions eat, not because they're lions, but because they are chemoorganoheterotrophs that feed exclusively on other heterotrophs. They're carnivores, just like all the rest of the carnivores. Religions commit atrocity, not because they're religions, but because they are power maximising organisations that structure themselves hierarchically. They’re hierarchical organisations, just like all the rest of the hierarchical organisations.

None of this, none of it, is intended to say that religions don't do anything or aren't responsible for anything. This is ONLY about determining cause. Because if we want to eliminate an effect, we need to find its cause. If we fail to find and address the cause, we fail to eliminate the effect. If we want to eliminate cancer and we ban asbestos, we've failed to eliminate cancer because we have not addressed the real cause. Asbestos doesn't cause cancer because it's asbestos, it causes cancer because it's carcinogenic and only one of many carcinogens. Only once we've determined that all carcinogens cause cancer can we ask WHY they do and then get to the root of the problem.

So what I’m saying is that all hierarchical organisations are, by design, capable of acts of atrocity. They are capable of this because of the built in and inextricable dynamic between hierarchy and power maximisation. Religions commit atrocity, not because they’re religions, but because acts of atrocity, when they occur, are the result of this dynamic.

I just wanna try one more thing to try and be clear. A Ferrari can go fast. If you see one go fast, you can absolutely say, that jackass, made that Ferrari go fast. But going fast is not a property unique to Ferraris. When it goes fast, it's just doing what it's designed to do but yes, someone made a decision to make it do it. That being said, the fact that it can go fast influences the driver's decision to go fast (multiple determinants). A religious organisation can commit acts of atrocity. If you see one do so, you can absolutely say, those jackasses made that organisation commit acts of atrocity. But the commission of acts of atrocity is not a property unique to religious organisations. When it commits an act of atrocity, it's just doing what it's designed to do but yes, someone made a decision to make it do it. That being said, the fact that it can commit atrocity influences the decision maker's choice to commit the act of atrocity (multiple determinants).

Does that make things any clearer?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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31-08-2011, 02:55 PM
RE: Lions and tigers and religion, oh my!
It makes things clearer in terms of what you are saying. I'm still at a loss to understand why you are saying it.

So, using the cancer example for a minute, you are correct that eliminating asbestos, or even cigarettes, does not stop the spread of cancer. However, it certainly reduces the incidence of cancer. We may never be able to eliminate the total cause of something but we certainly can reduce its overall impact. You don't hear people arguing "hey, we will never eliminate cancer anyway so why not just keep using asbestos". When the idea of putting warning labels on cigarettes came out I suppose regulators could have said "you know, people will still get cancer whether they smoke or not so we may as well just ignore this whole smoking thing because we're not eliminating the cause of all cancers with this". But, they didn't, most probably because they realized reducing the rate of cancer was worth it.

Is religion an actual "cause" of these various problems as opposed to just an outlet for them? I'm not sure why that distinction even matters. Again, no one reasonably claims that the elimination of religion will end all the world's problems. And, for those people who do, I guess they would be in for quite a surprise if they live to see religion eliminated. But, whether religion is the sole cause, or even a cause at all vs a symptom, is, to me, completely and totally beside the point of the objection to the actions undertaken in the name of this all loving deity.

So, ok, I do see your argument. Forgive me for saying this but: so what?

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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31-08-2011, 03:42 PM
RE: Lions and tigers and religion, oh my!
Hey, BnW.

How much more effective would this law be? No one is allowed to produce, sell or store carcinogens or products containing carcinogens. See appendix A for a list of all known carcinogens.

I can't stress this enough. I'm not saying to let anyone off the hook for anything, yet you keep going back to holding religion accountable as if I am.

I don't know why you think I'm saying abandon anything. I’m not saying anything remotely close to, “Dealing with religion won’t solve the whole issue so don’t bother.” If someone is punching you in the head, deal with it immediately.

All I'm saying is, let's not spend all, or even so much, of our energy fighting religion, because we're not tackling the larger issue at all. Name me one movement or organisation you can think of that is taking on the issue of hierarchical organisation. How many people think religion is a problem? Likely a lot. How many people think hierarchy is a problem? Likely not too many. The issue is, it’s the same problem.

As for cigarettes, you can't even propose the ban in the first place until you know and can tell others why you want the ban. We want to ban cigarettes because they're carcinogenic. So understanding the wider issue HELPS deal with the more narrow issue. If you work with cats, you better understand mammals or you’re in for a lot of trouble.

The following two statements are comprised of a reasonable observation followed by a meaningless explanation. Cigarettes kill people (ok, fine observation) because they're cigarettes (what?). Religion kills people (ok, fine observation) because they're religious (what?).

When people discuss the reasons that religion kills people, they spit out a list of things that are not unique to religion. How dealing with religion is more important than dealing with that list of things is beyond me.

I also disagree with the contention that eliminating religion will necessarily reduce the incidence of atrocity. There is a notion called the peer polity system. It says, basically, that when there is a system of power maximisers, when one collapses, the others will rush in to fill the vacuum. So when religious organisations go, their "turf" just gets taken over by another hierarchical organisation.

No one would ever say, cats are mammals, so what? Your house is a structure, so what? Canada is a country, so what? Horror is a film genre, so what? The Holocaust was genocide, so what? So I don’t understand why we would say, religious organisations are hierarchical, so what?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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31-08-2011, 06:52 PM
RE: Lions and tigers and religion, oh my!
I think we are talking (er.... typing) past each other here and I'm not sure how to close the gap. I'll give it one more try, though. Let's start with this:

Quote:How much more effective would this law be? No one is allowed to produce, sell or store carcinogens or products containing carcinogens. See appendix A for a list of all known carcinogens.

This is really my point. In business, I will hear a lot of people use silly phrases like "let's not try to boil the ocean" or "we're not trying to solve world hunger here". What they generally mean is we can't solve every problem so let us just focus on the problem that is in front of us. Your example makes this exact point: you can't simply ban carcinogens but what you can do is tackle them a few at a time and try to make the world a little bit safer.

Where I think we just fundamentally disagree is that your position seems to be (and correct me if I'm not understanding this correctly) that you can't solve this in small pieces but must solve the holistic problem. You may or may be right about that, I guess, and I understand the peer polity system. However, my problem with religion is more than just the atrocities and obviously "bad" things it does. Things like repressions of scientific study and the desire to keep people ignorant, and even uneducated, is, for me, the largest atrocity. I do realize that a new power may have its own goals that get in the way of these things, but I think that is far less likely. Perhaps I'm a blind, naive optimist (hey, stranger things have happened), but I do not believe that eliminating religion would result simply in some other power coming in with the sole desire of denying science, education, fighting against common sense things like birth control, arguing against medical treatment for children (this is not all religions, obviously, but it's in the realm of things that would go away), etc. I just don't see anyone stepping in to fill that void.

Does it eliminate war, poverty, ignorance, hatred, etc? Probably not. But, it certainly makes it a lot more difficult to convince people to commit some of the atrocities we've seen throughout human history. I see it as banning a pack of cigarettes. It doesn't stop cancer but it certainly slows it down and puts a lot fewer people at risk.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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31-08-2011, 06:53 PM
RE: Lions and tigers and religion, oh my!
I don't know if I would lay the charge of evil at all religions feet, however I can pick out doctrines prevalent in specific religions that I would call evil. These include several Christian ideas such as substitution for sin, original sin, repression of women and so on. I am not interested in what a holy book says, I am only concerned here with how the religion is practiced. By far, the greatest evil in any religion I can identify is the Islamic practice of killing apostates. Whether you want to admit it or not, these doctrines make the religion evil.

While I as an atheist can identify things withing specific religions that I would call evil, I can also recognize that if all religion disappeared tomorrow there would still be problems and evil in the world.

I am reminded of the Stephen Weinberg quote, "With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion." I am sure that many people who do evil things within religion would do just as much bad if religion were to disappear. (I am thinking of televangelists living off poor gullible saps sending them money.) But I personally know examples of (otherwise kind loving people) who ostracize, shun and outcast family members for unbelief. To me, religion is to blame for that evil.

“There is no sin except stupidity.” Oscar Wilde
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