The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
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02-08-2010, 09:38 AM
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
Hey, BnW.

You misread me completely.

There's no trickery here. Honestly, I do believe that scientists and Atheists do operate on faith on various levels, but if I wanted to confront you about that, I'd ask you straight up. That's not what I'm after here.

A hundred years ago a number of people said that blacks were inferior to whites and that Jews were a mongrel race that needed to be wiped out. They backed it up with some pretty shoddy science. I'm of course referring to the eugenics movement. Now I'm not comparing Atheists to eugenicists. What I am saying is that one can make all kinds of statements about the inferiority of another people when they can't back up their claims. A number of Atheists have made some serious charges against religion and these ideas float around relatively freely. What I am asking is, what is the mechanism that governs these things?

If I say hierarchical society is designed in such a way that collapse is an inevitability, I can explain the mechanism that causes it. If I say organisms compete for resources, I can explain the mechanism that causes it. If I say that laws will always be broken, I can explain the mechanism that causes it. If I say religion is the reason we go to war, I can't explain the mechanism that causes it. If I say religion is a poison that destroys humanity, I can't explain the mechanism that causes it.

So what I am after is simple. Question one is, are people saying these things? Religion is a poison. Religion causes war. If I'm way off, correct me. Question two is, if people are saying this, then why? Is it because there is a well supported mechanism that they are aware of (and that I am not) or is it because it's just an unsupportable meme that happens to be replicating and should be disregarded particularly by those making policy?

Hey, Stark Raving.

I can understand that you want to see an end to religion (and not culture). But why is religion bad and will whatever replaces it in the meme pool not cause the same effects? For example, if American nationalism replaces it, will it not cause the same effects; whatever those effects might be?

I agree with the notion that eliminating religion as a way of eliminating war is absurd. My question is this, if religion is simply one factor in war, if there are other factors that do the exact same thing and if war will not be eliminated by eliminating religion, then why eliminate it? Also, if mechanistically, religion does the same thing as other memeplexes, then on what basis is it singled out as such a destructive force?

As far as killing goes, we have known for some time that an intermediary is required in order to let humans freely kill other humans. Dehumanisation is one of the most effective. Calling someone a terrorist is just as effective as calling someone an infidel. So why not call out the practice of dehumanisation and try to eliminate that in all its forms rather than just religion?

My fear is that by putting the blame on a scapegoat rather than on a larger mechanism then we will never eliminate the thing we find undesirable.

Hey, Kikko.

So what is the mechanism through which faith is used to justify atrocity and is faith the only way that one might justify atrocities?

Hey, Truth Addict.

Thanks for the quotes. I can see how those ideas would be used domestically as a part of what Marx calls the superstructure (the various ideas and institutions that the elites use in order to keep the masses in line) but I don't see how they cause a nation to go to war. Also, I don't see how the superstructure would collapse with the removal of religion. There are other just as efficient ways of keeping the masses in line.

--

The bottom line is this, if a group of people, or even an individual, is attacking a group of people and or a way of life for whatever reason, when asked why, they should be able to explain. For example, when I say I think corporations are destroying the planet I can say things like, they operate on an unlimited growth model which is inherently unsustainable, they externalise important costs and obfuscate the real cost of their operations in terms of money and environmental impact, they are no longer under the control of states because they can simply relocate, there is little to no way to hold the people who run the corporation responsible for atrocities committed by the corporation (Chomsky talks about the idea of perfectly rational, kind and good people running a monstrous organisation), because of the way we legislate, corporations are permitted to, as Ray Anderson calls it, operate as badly as the law allows, the pursuit of the profit imperative means that fail-safes and redundancies will be eliminated wherever possible in the name of remaining competitive, and on and on. That's just off the top of my head. And I can back up each of those claims. The things I listed are all systemic. Also, if someone asks if these problems are exclusive to corporations, I can say, some of them are, but corporatism is just one form of a hierarchical mode of production and all such modes of production, like feudal systems, slave economies, capitalist economies and centralised economies, share certain destructive features. So my problem is with corporations contemporarily, because they are fast becoming the dominant social institution, but with all hierarchical modes of production generally. What I didn't say is, "BP spilled oil into the gulf." Who cares? That doesn't tell me why corporations are bad (and it implies that corporations are the only organisation capable of doing so). It just pulls my heartstrings. The 911 example is a perfect example of this. The idea that they launched this attack because they wanted to reach paradise is asinine. They specifically targeted the financial and military hubs of the greatest hegemony in history. How trying to disrupt an empire that is actively waging military and economic warfare on your region is not an example of using guerrilla tactics against an intractable foe against who you have no other viable military options (and that they are somehow the only people in the history of mankind to commit suicide in order to accomplish an objective) but that it is religion's fault is beyond me. But I sure do feel bad when people tell me how tragic it was and that it's bad m'kay. And it's easy for me to dehumanise the attackers when I frame them as religious zealots. So I reiterate, why is religion bad and why does it cause war? "It just is m'kay" is not satisfactory.

So, BnW, find me suspect all you want but as someone who doesn't believe that religion is necessarily bad, that it is the cause of war and that we'd all be better off without it, I see no other way to find out what the arguments for such claims is other than to ask, what are the arguments and more than that, what are the mechanisms? If we discover, here, together, those mechanisms, then maybe I will believe it. If we cannot, then perhaps that brings the validity of such claims into question. And you'll excuse me if I take your ad homonym attack personally.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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02-08-2010, 10:01 AM
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
(01-08-2010 08:07 AM)Ghost Wrote:  In what way is religion toxic and why would the human race be better without it?

Religion can inspire people to do both good and bad things. I don't exactly follow that line of thinking. Some might call me a militant atheist, but I'm not really. Religion is a golden excuse to do harm and a viable tool to get the masses to join your cause, regardless of if it is moral or not. I would say that religion is toxic only in the way that is causes blind faith and unquestioning obedience. This is, of course, only in places that have strong religious ties. Many religions cause discrimination, and when you have old and vague scriptures that cannot ever be questioned, you can make them seem to say pretty much anything. I think that if you throw common sense into the religious mix, we can prevent most of the harm that comes from religion.

(01-08-2010 08:07 AM)Ghost Wrote:  In what way is religion responsible for war and would war be eliminated if religion was eliminated?

Holy wars are always popular. It depends on the religion, and the nut job reading the religious scriptures. Many people just like to kill people that are different. Several of the most bloody and horrific wars were religion based. Getting rid of religion, however, wouldn't solve the problem. Really, religion is just a manifestation of some darker human idea. I believe that a lot of times, not all the time though, when one person feels the need to kill or discriminate against another, they look for justification to do so. For instance, you hear that people don't want gay people to get married because it says so in the bible. I think it works like this. A person encounters someone different. The first person is close-minded, this can be due to religion, superstition, or just up-bringing. Whatever the reason, the close-minded person feels the need to discriminate/kill the new and different person. They might want to justify this action, and religion is a popular way to justify it, though not the only way.

The thing that makes religion so dangerous, is the way it spreads. A common belief that encourages close-mindedness and hatred for the same people can all-to easily be used to rally the masses for genocide.

I don't believe Jesus is the son of God until I see the long form birth certificate!
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02-08-2010, 10:04 AM
 
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
Ok, let me try this again....

First of all, we do not, at least I do not, aim to remove religious people from the world. Therefore, comparing us to those who wish to wipe out entire groups of people is incorrect. What atheists strive for is proper education. We hope that children are not indoctrinated into a certain set of nonsensical religious beliefs, instead of being taught to question and think freely. We hope that facts and evidence supplant superstition and dogma. We hope that there is a clear separation between Chruch and state.

However, since most of the people who run the state are religious, the separation between church and state often is not complete.

How does religion cause war?

I will have to state that the modern world, at least the modern industrial world, is much more secularized than it previously was, so religion may no longer be the cause of war. However, let's say I am an Islamic terrorist.

I am indoctrinated in the belief that there is a God out there, that he reigns supreme, and all who do not bow down to him are to be killed. I also believe that the Koran is factual, and that it is the word of God. I also believe that if I do not follow the word of God, I will suffer in eternal torment and torture and flames and anguish.

Those who indoctrinated me are similarly indoctrinated. We all come together to carry out God's word, for Allah instructed us to be his soldiers. One of his decrees was that those who do not believe in him must be killed. Well, let's see, the United States is currently the most powerful nation in the world, but it is not an Islamic nation. It is also occupying the holy land. This is an outrage. We must launch a jihad against the United States because that is God's command. All US citizens must be killed. God is on our side. Let's strike at the infidel and cripple him where it hurts. Thus, the targets are chosen.. 9/11 happens.

All of this to satisfy the desires of a God who has no evidence to support his existence.

Is that a mechanism? Or am I still just blabbering?

Again, the fact that religion, or more specifically, religious differences, cause conflict is not the only reason we seek to educate people to see its fallacy. We hope to remove its ideas simply because they are not true. They are supported by no evidence.

For example, if the large majority of the population believed that the moon was made of swiss cheese (based on faith, not observation), what harm would that do? Well, let's say, a small minority of the population broke off and thought the moon was made of blue cheese. This minority started to gain followers until both sides were roughly equally matched. Now, let's say the people who believed the moon was made of swiss cheese believed that after you died, you were allowed to spend eternity in bliss on the far side of the moon if you believed in the swiss cheese doctrine. Let's say the members who believed that the moon was made of blue cheese thought the same. However, if you did not believe the moon was made of a specific type of cheese, you were a heretic and had to be killed.

Thus, both sides thought the other side to be heretical. They had a divine mission. They had a purpose in life. War starts because according to each side's beliefs, it is their duty to protect their doctrine and spread it. They must convert others, or force them to believe in the fact that the moon is made of their type of cheese.


Among all this chaos, a group of scientists observes the moon and finds it be made of basalt and other minerals. It is of a similar composition to the earth, and other evidence compels them to formulate a theory that the moon was born of the earth. Thus, the whole conflict and beliefs of an entire society are pure bullshit. Would it not be natural that these group of enlightened people would then try to spread the fact-based truth to end the presence of these silly ideas, and prevent future conflict?

Of course, it wouldn't remove all conflict, but it would get rid of one of the causes for it. It is natural for people to set the story straight. When a news organization makes a mistake in a story, they correct the mistake. Humanity has made a mistake in its formulations about the origin of the universe and nature. Thus, the mistake must be corrected. If current scientific ideas are proven to be incorrect, then the corrections will me made.

That is kind of what we hope to do. I know it is probably the silliest analogy you have ever seen.
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02-08-2010, 11:55 AM
 
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
religion is bad because fear is its basis. it's either be good to others or be eternally damned to burn. not much of a choice.

religion doesn't cause war. people cause war. religion is used as a way for the government to get it's population to participate in the war. no war ever began because of religion, religion was just the selling point.

religion wouldn't be a bad thing if it was used more as a way to unite people in a social way as supposed to teaching irrelevant superstition and fear.
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02-08-2010, 12:54 PM (This post was last modified: 02-08-2010 07:01 PM by Kikko.)
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
Ghost Wrote:Hey, Kikko.

So what is the mechanism through which faith is used to justify atrocity and is faith the only way that one might justify atrocities?
Mechanism through which faith is used to justify atrocity... I dont know if i understood right what you mean with mechanism, but i'll try.
Step 1: Group A believes that group B must be destroyed.(Group A is a plurality and group B is a majority).
Step 2: Group A starts killing group B.

Im not sure if we both mean the same thing with faith. What i mean with faith, is believing in something without backing it up with evidence.
Faith is not the only way to justify atrocity, but its the biggest one. The other one is strong political view.
For example, after the finnish civil war between the reds and the whites (reds were poor uneducated people who wanted communism and whites were rich educated people, who practically owned everything) there was a movement called ''the lapuas movement'', which used illigal methods to eliminate communism. With foreign help, the whites won the war and mass-executed alot of red leaders and soldiers, but there was still communism among the people.
The lapuas movement supporters started (illigally) threatning, assaulting and transporting people, who they thought to be communists, over the border of the soviet union. That was purely political hatred, and it was strongly supported, even the police were on their side.

Ill be writing more, im a little busy right now.
edit: Fudge, i gotta leave the writing for tomorrow, i didnt realize how long it would take to put take for stain and varnish to dry and to set 10 strings... its 04.00, really gotta rest:G

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02-08-2010, 05:29 PM (This post was last modified: 02-08-2010 05:48 PM by BnW.)
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
Ghost

I don't think I'm misreading you at all. You've set up a straw man and asked us to defend it. To what purpose? That is not how conclusions are reached, at least not honest conclusions.

An atheist is someone who does not believe in a supernatural God. No where in the definition is there a requirement to renounce all religion or blame religion for all the worlds evils. There is no doubt that there are atheists who do that, as there are theists who cast their own assumptions and aspersions on other groups (often anyone who differs on their teachings). To come here and claim that, in the interest of science, you want us to provide empirical evidence to support an argument that you made, not us, is, at best, shoddy work on your part as a proclaimed social scientist and, at worst, a disingenuous attempt to lull us into some endless argument where you conclude with "well, none of you have been able to provide true evidence to support this position I've attributed to you so, therefore, it's wrong".

True research, especially the type you are claiming to embark on, requires formulating accurate questions. Before you ask us to defend these arguments, have you even substantiated that these are indeed common arguments amongst atheists? Where is your supporting data for your starting point? Sorry, but despite your claims to the contrary, I can only conclude that either: a) you are very new at this or b) have an ulterior motive.

You can't understand the answers if you're not asking the right questions. For example, the answer to life, the universe, and everything is, as everyone knows, "42". However, that answer only makes sense if you know what the exact question is.

To the rest of you: I realize I'm still new here and don't have the clout to say this but - you're being played for suckers here. Don't fall for it.
Sorry to respond to my own post but I just re-read Ghost's response to me.

Ghost, you said the following: "What I am asking is, what is the mechanism that governs these things?"

Talk about a pitch I can knock out of the park. What governs these things is the free market of intellectual discourse and exchange of ideas. Rational people do not hide behind dogma or fear other perspectives. And no, I'm not suggesting only atheists can be rational or that all atheists are rational. What I'm saying is that intellectually honest people can debate based on the presentation of evidence and logical conjecture.

I will happily put my ideas and beliefs against anyone willing to have rational debate on them that is based on facts and evidence. And, let the best ideas prevail.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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03-08-2010, 08:18 AM
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
BnW.

You attack me. You don't engage with my ideas, you attack me, the man. That's weak. Plain and simple.

If you really think that no one has ever said religion is responsible for war and that religion is a poison that needs to be done away with, I suggest you read the posts that I have read on this site and tell Chris Hitchens and Richard Dawkins and this guy to shut up. Disingenuous indeed.

Ok. I'll concede. Perhaps I have set up a straw man. My apologies. So tell me. Your argument:
Quote:An atheist is someone who does not believe in a supernatural God. No where in the definition is there a requirement to renounce all religion or blame religion for all the worlds evils. There is no doubt that there are atheists who do that, as there are theists who cast their own assumptions and aspersions on other groups (often anyone who differs on their teachings).

Granted. No requirement. You don’t have a book that tells you expressly to do it. So that means no one is doing it? Please. There's an entire section on this website dedicated to debunking the bible. Plead innocence all you like, no one's buying your little innocent victim shtick.

I agree. There ARE Atheists doing it. Guess what? Some of them are on this site.

Theists cast assumptions and aspersions? You must have found Indiana's Arc and pulled out all its secrets. Of course they do. Any jackinini knows that. So they do it so that means you can? Really? We’re governing life by the rules of the sandbox? And saying they do it so so can we is admitting you're doing it.

Basically what you're telling me is as an "outsider" I couldn't possibly speak to Atheists, understand what they're saying and scrutinize it because I'm just making a straw man argument. Tough. You're open to scrutiny. I can't believe that you're trying to tell me that no Atheist has ever blamed religion for causing wars or called it a poison. That’s a bad joke. Tell me I didn’t quite hit the mark. Rephrase the question. Reframe the debate. But don’t for a second think that I’m gonna let you get away with dismissing what I have to say by attacking me as a human being. Not a chance.

And you better believe that my tone with you is aggressive. How dare you attack me? You have insulted me. Tear my ideas apart all you like but don't you dare tell me what my motives are because you don't know me from a hole in the wall. God damnit I'm mad. From your mouth: "I suspect that your ultimate goal here is to try to prove that atheists adhere to articles of faith as much as theists do..." Really? You got me cold.

So I'll rephrase the questions.

1 - Is war caused by religion? If so, how does religion cause war and is it the only thing that does so?
2 - Does religion have any deleterious effects on humans? If it does, what are they, what do they do? If they exist, would we be better off without religion and why?

There. No straw man there. Just straight up questions. Have at them.

I have to go to work now. I’m sorry to everyone else who spent their time trying to engage with me. I spent all my energy confronting this guy. I’ll try to respond to the rest of you tomorrow.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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03-08-2010, 12:51 PM
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
(01-08-2010 08:07 AM)Ghost Wrote:  A lot of Atheists speak of two things (I recognise that this is a generalisation).

Good, because you'll quickly find that most atheists don't say this, myself included.

Also, just out of curiosity, why do you capitalize "atheists"?

Quote:First, they say that religion is a poison, a viral agent, a destructive force in the human mind that we are better off without. Secondly, they say that religion is responsible for pretty much every war that's ever happened.

So my question is this. Can anyone back these ideas up. ie, is it good science or just unsupported rhetoric?

Not entirely unsupported, but it is an exaggeration. Religion has certainly had huge detrimental effects on society both during wartime and during peacetime, but today's religions tend to be more liberal (Islam excepted). However, it cannot be denied that religion does encourage "selective" logic.

Quote:In what way is religion toxic and why would the human race be better without it?

In that it has the capacity to cause good people to do horrible things. Though this capacity has diminished over the years, it is still present.

It also causes good people to believe stupid things, and to do stupid things in support of those beliefs. Creationism, for example, and anti-abortion laws. It also encourages flawed logic in order to rationalize this.

Quote:In what way is religion responsible for war and would war be eliminated if religion was eliminated?

Religion is rarely solely responsible for war (the Crusades being the most notable exception), but it cannot be denied that it has had a hand in most wars over the centuries. Again, recently religion's power to cause people to do stupid and violent things has diminished, but it is still present (Islam).

And no, it wouldn't.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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03-08-2010, 05:24 PM
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
I never said that atheists did not make commentary along the lines of what you stated. What I said is that its not a requirement of being an atheist and asking us to defend a generic argument is ridiculous and not in any way a furtherance of any kind of scientific research, social or otherwise. Perhaps its a question to study the reactions one will get when you come in with the most generic question to see who nibbles at the worm.

I've said this twice now: you're asking the wrong questions. I'm not sure what the right question is, exactly, but I think it is more along the lines of "what role has religion played in the furtherance of wars". That is a question without a predetermined conclusion. The two questions you added are a better attempt, I'll admit. I have an opinion on both of them but I don't have cold, hard facts to back up either one of them. I've got plenty of anecdotal evidence, and am happy to share that if it interests you.

A few other things to respond to:
- first, if you want to bring up Dawkins, then I suggest you follow up and read what he actually says. He backs up every point he makes with evidence.
- second, yes, this site provides information on debunking the Bible. So what? What does that have to do with your questions? This comment is what makes me think you're here for anything but the reasons you say. Btw, I don' particularly mind if you did come to pick a fight as I live for a good argument. I just don't like someone who claims to have purpose "A" when their actions demonstrate purpose "B".
- Finally, I am an educated man and I pride myself on my comprehension of the English language. So, it is with some embarrassment I have to confess that I had to Google "jackinini". I was even more embarrassed when I found out it was a Simpson's reference. Damn. I hate when I miss those.

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When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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05-08-2010, 07:38 PM
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
Sorry for the delay. I've been busy.

Before I go on, I'd like to say something to BnW and to the community at large.

BnW.

I'm not sure what to do here. I consider myself a guest in this forum. I am not an Atheist, I’m an Agnostic, and I really have nothing to contribute to the building of the virtual community that exists here. Perhaps I might lend some ideas, food for thought, that might contribute to the community, but I don't foresee spending a lot of my energy contributing to an Atheist community simply because I'm not one. As a guest I have to remain respectful of this community’s conventions and respectful of the people that populate this forum. If I remain respectful, I can hang around, ask questions, stir some pots and all of the other things that brought me here. But you are putting me in a difficult position. You attacked me once, having nothing to base that attack off of but some kind of hunch and without having ever said hello to me before. I then tried to smooth it over by attempting to put your fears to rest at which point you responded with another personal attack. I then lashed out in anger and sarcasm and tried to deal with your accusations that way and you attacked me a third time. So I'm not sure what to do. Ad homonym attacks have no place in a discussion forum. If they're allowed to go on unchecked here then perhaps this is not the forum I thought it was. If that’s so then I'll be on my way. I doubt that's the case however. From what I've seen the conventions in this community mirror my own. There is no place for personal attacks. So what am I to do about you? I must admit, my first reaction after I read your last post was to reply, "go fuck yourself," and be done with it. I gave the matter some thought and came to the conclusion I am writing about right now. For as long as it is of use to me, I wish to remain in this forum. But I cannot tolerate your continued unwarranted, unfounded and slanderous attacks upon my person. So what do I do? How do I get you to stop?

To the community at large,

For clarity. I don't understand why people are telling me they don't know how to respond. If someone asks me, does electromagnetic radiation cause cancer, I would respond, well it does A, B and C, which causes 1, 2, and 3 which can lead to cancer unless one protects themselves by doing I, II and III. I wouldn't say, "my friend's mom died of skin cancer," because what does that tell me? Absolutely nothing. It's anecdotal. I am no wiser about the mechanistic relationship of EM radiation and cancer. If I believe that it doesn't cause cancer, I would respond similarly but I would say, it does D, E and F, which doesn't cause.... or I might say, cancer is caused by X, Y and Z which can be the result of exposure to electromagnetic radiation, but also by exposure to this, that and the other; therefore, singling electromagnetic radiation out as the prime culprit is not a reasonable thing to do.

I'm simply asking: does religion cause war? If it does, how?
Also: is religion dangerous to humans? If so, why? Would we be better off without it and why?

If you think it does cause war, tell me how you think it does it. If you think it doesn't, tell me why you think so. If you think it's one of many causes, tell me. If you have any alternate view, tell me that. What you say is what you say. Personally I don't believe that religion causes war. If you'd like I can explain why in more detail (I’ll go into it a little below) but I'm curious about what the people in this forum think. There's no trickery involved here. If someone says something that doesn't make sense, like, "religion causes war because of magic pixie dust," I'm gonna jump in, but that's about all. If someone says that it does cause war and provides a convincing argument, I'll take that away with me. In terms of my secret agenda, it's not so secret. I've met some Atheists that think religion causes war. This is an Atheist message board. So I'm here to find out if there is some sort of rational basis for that kind of statement and if not, to call shenanigans so that what I consider a vitriolic idea with nothing to stand on is stopped.

Lastly, in the end, I’m not defending religion. There’s plenty wrong with it. But I think it’s being used as a scapegoat and as a red herring. I’m after bigger fish. I invite all others, Atheists and Theists alike, to come fishing with me.

Now. I'll try to move on.

Hey, AH60.

Quote:Religion is a golden excuse to do harm and a viable tool to get the masses to join your cause, regardless of if it is moral or not. I would say that religion is toxic only in the way that is causes blind faith and unquestioning obedience.

How does religion cause people to do harm to others?

I absolutely agree that it is an excellent way to create allegiances within large groups and that morality isn't really a factor. My question is this. Are all religions truly devoid of morality?

I would add that I don't think that the lack of reason is what causes unquestioning obedience. Power is a simple mechanism. Those who defer to it believe that those who have it can either coerce them (do this or else), that they have influence (I'll do what they say because of what I think of the person) or because they legitimise their authority (they can tell me what to do and or think because they have the right to, usually because of their position). The important thing to note about power is that it is a mutual agreement. You don’t have power over me unless I let you have power over me. If someone in power removes the ability to scrutinize the line they’re feeding those they have power over, it does make it easier to maintain one's power; however, and this is a part of my central argument, it does not mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that a world full of rational scientific people cannot be told what to do or think. That suggests that reason somehow makes us immune to power and its effects, which seems pretty unsupportable to me seeing as how power dynamics is one of the cornerstones of societal living.

Quote:I think it works like this. A person encounters someone different. The first person is close-minded, this can be due to religion, superstition, or just up-bringing. Whatever the reason, the close-minded person feels the need to discriminate/kill the new and different person. They might want to justify this action, and religion is a popular way to justify it, though not the only way.

I agree that religion is a popular way to justify atrocities. I believe I mentioned earlier the idea of humans requiring mediators to allow them to kill freely. The dehumanisation of the other is a very effective mediator. They are "them" (insert category), not individual humans like us (also, we are "we" serves as a uniting idea). I also agree that it certainly isn't the only way.

It's my assertion that religion, like other methods of defining affiliation, like race or nationality, delineates the borders of competing groups by comparing the differences between them and acts as a mediator that allows us to dehumanise competing groups. That being said, they do not cause the conflicts. The fact that there are different groups competing is what causes the conflict and in the case of groups that believe that the way to resolve a conflict is to go to war (an idea held by many religious as well as secular groups) it is that idea that causes the war.

Quote:The thing that makes religion so dangerous, is the way it spreads.

A religion is a memeplex. According to Dawkins and Blackmore it spreads by imitation (an idea that I disagree with, but that’s just a question of mechanics). That being said, so does every other memeplex. So religion spreads no differently than any other idea.

Hey, Truth Addict.

Quote:We hope to remove its ideas simply because they are not true. They are supported by no evidence.

This is an idea that seems recurring to me amongst some Atheists (please feel free to flog me for generalising). What seems implied in this sort of statement is the idea that truth, as defined by science, that which is supported by evidence and repeatable experimentation, is necessarily better than truth that cannot be tested. Furthermore, believing in things that must be taken on faith is worse or even damaging when compared to believing in things backed up by evidence. My question is, if that is the case, then where are the studies that prove that idea?

Personally, I like something that Ran Prieur once wrote:
Quote: What we call "science" is only one particular science, a style of filtering experience that has been designed by and for a culture of uniformity and central control. It accepts only experiences that can be translated into numbers, that are available to everyone, and that can be reproduced on command. This is what scientists mean when they demand "proof." But this is only a tiny thread of all possible experiences, most of which are unique, not quantifiable, not reproducible, and not the same for all observers.
-Ran Prieur

I believe I’ve posted that quote elsewhere. I just wonder, who proved that these other ways of experiencing the world, the ones that Prieur refers to, are bad? Or worse than?

And BTW, I thought your analogy was actually pretty innovative. I just disagree with the idea that it is difference of belief that causes the war and that understanding that the moon was born of the earth rather than it being made of Swiss cheese is necessarily a better understanding.

For me, again, it’s the idea that the term “better” exists in Darwinism. It doesn’t. The only thing that matters is “what works”. Witness the sloth and the platypus… and David Hasselhoff. Experiencing the world through methods other than reason work and have worked for thousands of years. Reason has its uses, I believe that, but I don’t think the case has been made that it is necessarily better.

I mean, I get the argument that kings used to call themselves the avatar of god and so their authority was inviolable because to disobey the king was to disobey god. But that’s not the case anymore (in most Western countries anyway; there still are theocracies in the world). Is authority gone? Not the last time I checked. So does it matter how someone gets their authority? Does the fact that rational authority can be checked (hey wait a minute, I will not do that! That’s a logical fallacy and demonstrably false) eliminate the possibility that authority will be abused in a system that rewards abusing ones authority?

Hey, thegirl.

Quote: religion is bad because fear is its basis.

How so? Are all religions fear based?

Hey, Kikko.

Quote:Faith is not the only way to justify atrocity, but its the biggest one.

I don’t know about that. The biggest genocides of recent memory, WWII, the Soviet Union, the Sudan, Cambodia, Rwanda, were led by secular leaders.

Thanks for the information about the Finnish civil war. Embarrassingly, the only thing I know about Finland is Saku Koivu. That was really enlightening.

Personally, I would say that that was an example of special interest groups jockeying for control over national power. That, to me, is what caused that war. What either special interest group believed in was immaterial. They could have believed that Häagen-Dazs was better than Breyers.

Hey Truth Addict.

Quote: Good, because you'll quickly find that most atheists don't say this, myself included.

Also, just out of curiosity, why do you capitalize "atheists"?

Good? Way to kick a guy when he’s copping to something ;D

I capitalise Atheist when I’m referring to a group of people that share a memeplex, like Catholics and Jews and Americans and Sri Lankans.

Quote: It also causes good people to believe stupid things, and to do stupid things in support of those beliefs. Creationism, for example, and anti-abortion laws. It also encourages flawed logic in order to rationalize this.

That presupposes that the position that abortion is a good thing is necessarily right. I think that the abortion debate has been relegated to “a foetus is a living human” versus “choice is a right”. What’s ignored is that what occurs is a foetus is sliced apart until it dies and is then vacuumed out. Is there no room for the idea that that might not be a good thing? Is there not, perhaps, a better way? Other solutions? It’s left completely out of the pro-choice narrative and intentionally so. Is it impossible to look at the position “abortion is right” and come to the conclusion that the logic is flawed? That there are other factors to consider? I know someone who had the doctor set down the severed and mutilated head of her aborted foetus on a tray beside her bed in full view. She was traumatised for years. ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE IN ACTION! (Anyone need a Kleenex?) I think choice is important but I don’t think this issue is an example of a slam dunk of perfect logic.

Quote: Religion is rarely solely responsible for war (the Crusades being the most notable exception), but it cannot be denied that it has had a hand in most wars over the centuries. Again, recently religion's power to cause people to do stupid and violent things has diminished, but it is still present (Islam).

This would be an example of what I mean when I ask, what is the mechanism? Of course it can be denied. I don’t accept it as self-evident. Why should I? I want to know what that hand has been.

I also cringe when people throw around the idea that Islam is violent. For me, this is the core. If someone says “religion causes war” or “religion is bad” and can’t really back it up with anything, then, well, that’s just bigotry. Plain old rehashed I thought we dealt with this already bigotry. No different than “blacks are inferior” or “criminals have beady eyes”.

Hey, Bnw.

I’ve said my piece already. I hope we can work it out.

For the record, I’ve watched Dawkin’s documentary “The Root of All Evil?” and watched an hour-long panel discussion about it with Dr. Dawkins present. I disagree with most of what he says.

Also, I can’t believe you didn’t know what jackinini meant. It’s a perfectly cromulent word.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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