The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
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05-08-2010, 08:00 PM
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
(05-08-2010 07:38 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey Unbeliever.

FTFY Tongue

Quote:
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.

*shrugs*

Fair do's, then.

Quote:
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.

<snip>

This may or may not be valid, but as I'm not interested in debating the moral validity of abortion, I only skimmed this, as it has absolutely nothing to do with what I said. You may object to me saying that abortion is not wrong. That's fine. However, it is beside the point.
The point was that religion causes people to believe stupid things and to do stupid things in support of those stupid beliefs. I, personally, consider anti-abortion laws to be an example of this. That you do not does not alter the validity of the statement that I was making.
I don't think that you were trying to avoid the issue here, but I would like an answer to the question that I was actually asking, please. Do you agree that religion has the capability to make people believe and do stupid things?

Quote:This would be an example of what I mean when I ask, what is the mechanism?

This is like asking why the Spaniards would go to war with the French. The idea is essentially the same: the two groups are competing for resources and settling past grievances. In the case of the Spaniards and French, they are fighting for land and valuable materials, as well as wreaking retribution for any skirmishes which have been happening recently. In the case of, say, Judaism versus Islam, they are competing for people to further spread their ideas, and fighting over the "correct" interpretation of God's will.

Quote: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”.

I understand perfectly. I also hate bigotry. However, in this case it is not bigotry. It is fact.
It isn't just that Islam's holy book is filled with dozens of commands to kill everyone who isn't a member of their religion, their religion is more of a culture than a casual Sunday affair. Their religion commands their life, and their preachers are much more prone to encourage those parts of the script than those of other religions.
I don't deny that there are "liberal", peaceful Muslims in the world, but Islam as a whole is one of the most violent institutions out there.

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05-08-2010, 08:10 PM
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
I have to confess that I could not read all that, beyond what was specifically directed at me. I'll try again tomorrow when I'm a little better rested. Maybe pack a sandwich for the journey (and a snack to get through the response. Wow you guys are prolific typers!)

What I will say for now is this: I re-read each of my posts and, aside from questioning your motives, I'm not sure where I launched a personal attack at you. If part of the reason you've come here is to "stir the pot" then you're going to have to develop a slightly thicker skin.

Oh, feel free to tell me to "go fuck myself" as you feel the need. I promise I won't be the least bit bothered. I've got skin like a rhino (and a pretty cool horn to match).

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When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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05-08-2010, 08:44 PM
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
Hey, Unbeliever.

Quote:The point was that religion causes people to believe stupid things and to do stupid things in support of those stupid beliefs. I, personally, consider anti-abortion laws to be an example of this. That you do not does not alter the validity of the statement that I was making.

Yeah, we can leave the abortion debate to the courts. All I meant was, it seemed to me that you implied that believing that abortion was wrong was one of the stupid things that religious types do and that non-religious people don't believe that, proving that they aren't made to do stupid things. All I was saying is that I don't think that's a slam dunk example of how non-religious people are immune from stupid activity and flawed logic because perhaps the pro-choice movement suffers from stupid activity and flawed logic as well.

Quote:Do you agree that religion has the capability to make people believe and do stupid things?

No. Mostly because of how the question was framed.

I don't believe in stupidity and find it too vague a term in this question as well. I also feel that implied in the question is the notion that stupid beliefs are 'faith-based' beliefs, which I don't agree with.

Quote:The idea is essentially the same: the two groups are competing for resources and settling past grievances. In the case of the Spaniards and French, they are fighting for land and valuable materials, as well as wreaking retribution for any skirmishes which have been happening recently. In the case of, say, Judaism versus Islam, they are competing for people to further spread their ideas, and fighting over the "correct" interpretation of God's will.

I'd say that both groups are competing for resources and that cultural assimilation is not a tactic exclusive to religious groups and that assimilating individuals from other cultures serves a military purpose. It diminishes the force you are facing and it bolsters your own force. Also, these people will now share any resources they control with the new group.

Quote:It is fact.

I disagree.

Hey, BnW.

Quote:I re-read each of my posts and, aside from questioning your motives, I'm not sure where I launched a personal attack at you.

What do my motives have to do with my argument? By making the debate about who I am and what I want, you eliminate the debate about the idea. You also bring into question my value as a person. You didn't just question my motives, which was bad enough, you accused me of things. Things that you pulled out of thin air. I don't tolerate any of that.

It's about framing. You frame it as this, "don't listen to anything this guy has to say, dismiss him utterly, because I think he's shifty."

I believe that the worst thing you can do to another human being is dismiss them. If you dismissed my argument, "pigs can fly," by citing the laws of gravity and aerodynamics, that'd be you dismissing my idea. If you dismissed me by saying, "don't listen to this guy, he's black/gay/Jewish/he smells funny/a communist/late paying the rent/a shiftless layabout," I'd have the same issue. It says nothing of my argument or my intellect, it dismisses me as a human being and it is intolerably insulting and unfair.

I don't know how to make my position any clearer.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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06-08-2010, 07:17 AM
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
Well, this certainly explains why Sgt. Shultz was so passive aggressive. He was constantly dismissed.

Anyhoo.....

Your motive for asking the question does impact the question itself. Note the response you gave to Unbeliever above on his question on religion causing people to do stupid things. You said "No. Mostly because of how the question was framed.".

The asking of a question can be, in and of itself, the making of an argument or to steer the discussion itself. As an example, on youtube you can find some videos from the later 1990s off of CSPan where former PA Senator Rick Santorum tries to basically hem in some of the Democrats on the issue of Partial Birth Abortion. At one point he asks Barbara Boxer if the baby completely slips form the birth canal during the procedure, but before it is killed, does it then have legal protections. Boxer goes on this incredibly bewildering rant about how it's not a life until it goes home from the hospital. Santorum is a jackass but he is a brilliant tactician (whereas Boxer is just an idiot).

Another great example of this is the old LBJ story where he wants to accuse someone of having relations with a farm animal. One of his aids says "we can't accuse the guy of being a pig fucker" and LBJ responds "I don't want to say he did it, I just want to make him deny it!". The story is probably apocryphal but you get the point.

The questions we ask and the context in which we ask them both matter equally. You came here asking us to prove a certain position that you attributed to us without the position having been taken. You can get feign indignation on my questioning why you are asking all you want but, given what you've asked, I think it is fair game. It is reasonable for us to counter you and ask why you want to know? I'm not interested in doing an intellectual dance with you with you trying to steer the discussion.

Now, message boards do not allow for people to see body language, inflections, etc. We are left to imagine how the writer looks and sounds. So, it is possible you are trying to get to a legitimate understanding and simply asked an initial poor question. But, your question, in and of itself, was the issue for me.

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When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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06-08-2010, 07:43 AM
 
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
Ghost,
I have read everything you said and as hard I try, I have to admit I struggle to follow most of your reasoning. You ask for mechanisms. A mechanism is as you know absolute, i.e. if you build a vehicle, you follow very specific procedures and a strict mechanism to get to the end product. You want to apply this methodology to human behaviour, which is not absolute and everyting but precise. When you receive your answers (in my view, BNW's initial answers to your questions were more than adequate), you declare them not satisfactory because they do not adhere to your request and definition of "mechanism".

Let me try to explain by example. I will put forward an example in history where religion played a profound and very intergral part in the creation of evil. Before I carry on, note that I am a South African, born and bred in this wonderful country, who, through forced conscription, fought in a war designed to protect and defend the status quo. The only reason I am stating this, is to assure you that I know my topic and that I do not use the word "fact" in vain. Back to the example. Like most Afrikaners (This is a grouping in RSA of Dutch heritage, speaking a language that is a mixture of Dutch, French, Malay, and Khoi.) I was born in a strict religous environment with all the dogma that goes with it. When I say strict, I mean Old Testament strict. On a regular basis as a youth and later in the army, religous dogma was utilised as the starting point for justification of the Apartheid laws of the time. The preachers, teachers and polititians just loved the parts in the Bible where separate races were advovcated (Believe me, I know the story of Babel from top to bottom, excusing the pun.). In the army I had to endure daily propaganda sermons from army ministers (yes, they were omnipresent, even in the border war). Their main task was justification of the war and apartheid on Biblical grounds. Statements like "god is on the side of the Afrikaner" and "we are God's chosen volk" and "people of colour wll not go to heaven" or "do it for your god", were the order of the day. To cut a long sopstory short - I personally can attest to the evil religion brought into my own life. I consider myself one of the lucky few that escaped from this evil and started thinking for myself again. Many of my friends did not. Many Afrikaners, generally good people, ascribed to the evils of apartheid and defended it vigorously (on Biblical grounds of course). The majority of a sophisticated, generally learned grouping of people supported a system because they were blinded by religion and the system of apartheid could never be upheld without the aid of religous dogma. This, my friend, is a fact. How else do you explain that the whole nation's (white) parents allowed their 18year old boys to follow the countries law of forced 2 year conscription to fight in a war leaving countless killed or maimed for life? Intelligent people. Good people. Doing evil things.

But in order to satisfy your requirement for mechanism, I will make the following attempt: Baby born - baby baptised at 3 months into Dutch Reformed Church - baby indoctrinated from young age regarding existence of God - baby becomes teenager while dogmatic propaganda continues - teenagers friends in the same boat, resulting to pier pressure - teenager taught not to question and "believe like a child" - teenager starts asking questions, but reprimanded by preacher as well as Headmaster as well as parents - teenager becomes 18 year old that does not question - 18 year old becomes grown up that does not question and then goes on to become politician - political policies and religous dogma becomes one, intermingled to the point that it is difficult to distinguish one from the other - laws are passed based on religion - church becomes state - end result is an unquestioning nation that follows the herd like sheep -....and ultimately...breeding ground for evil is created.

Now Ghost, your reply will probably be: Yes, but the motive existed before religion. Religion was only the tool/excuse to achieve an evil goal. Mankind would have used another excuse if religion was not "available". To this I have three possible answers:
1) In the case of South Africa, a strong case could be made for the fact that religion was the starting point. You only have to look at the numder of Dutch Reformed ministers that ended up in the Nationalist parliament of 1945(The prime minister DF Malan, was a Dutch Reformed minister).
2) If you do not agree with 1), the fact is still that religion was used as tool. Religion made it "easy" for the goal to be justified. Religion provided the vehicle.
3) So what if the motive existed? Lessen the number of possible vehicles, and you lesson the risk of some nutcase pursueing the goal.

What I would like to know from you Ghost, is what the real reason is for your questions. What is your objective? Because if you have already made up you mind on what you will prove even before asking the questions, you leave me little choice but to put you in the same category as a 1945 National Party [/u]member in RSA. The type who decided beforehand that "god/bible is always correct" and then start looking for reasons as to why.
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06-08-2010, 09:25 AM (This post was last modified: 06-08-2010 09:29 AM by Ghost.)
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
Hey, Bnw.

I'm done with you. Have a nice life. I wish you well.

Hey, Malherbe.

Thanks for sharing that. I've studied apartheid in South Africa and it's nice to get the perspective of a soldier.

First of all, let's not let hyperbole get in the way. Don't compare me to those people. I've made my position clear. I'm hiding nothing. I don't believe that religion causes war. I have a well-reasoned argument to back it up. But I've heard the idea. So I'm seeing if I can find out why. If I can, well, I guess you learn something every day. If I can't, well, I guess I was right.

The idea that there are no mechanisms that govern human interaction is pretty unsupportable. Human interaction doesn't happen 'just cause'. Granted, the understanding of human interaction is often qualitative rather than quantitative but the idea that there's just no way to understand us wacky humans basically dismisses every social science.

Your example is a great example of indoctrination. But we are all indoctrinated into a cultural group. I think the idea that no religious person can question what's going on is pretty dismissive. Does non-testable doctrine make it easier for the church to maintain its authority. Sure it does. Does that mean the only way to maintain authority is to have non-testable doctrine? Not a chance. Furthermore, how did being indoctrinated cause a war?

Quote:1) In the case of South Africa, a strong case could be made for the fact that religion was the starting point. You only have to look at the numder of Dutch Reformed ministers that ended up in the Nationalist parliament of 1945(The prime minister DF Malan, was a Dutch Reformed minister).

The colonial past of South Africa is pretty clear. The people that would become Afrikaners landed at the Cape and then colonised an already populated territory. Did they do it because of religion? No. They did it because they wanted the land and its resources.

I used to be in the Canadian Forces so I'm familiar with the Boer War but I must admit, not so much with South Africa's border war(s?). But the fact that it's called a border war pretty much implies it was about territory.

All of this is to say that I'm familiar with the theocratic roots of the Afrikaner people, but again, I don't see the causal link between the belief and the war.

Quote:2) If you do not agree with 1), the fact is still that religion was used as tool. Religion made it "easy" for the goal to be justified. Religion provided the vehicle.

Absolutely (up until religion provided the vehicle. Not 100% sure what you mean by that). Religion was used as a tool. Beyond doubt it was an important part of what Marx calls the superstructure. Beyond doubt it was one of the chief tools used to dehumanise the enemy. But that doesn't mean it was the cause of a war.

Quote:3) So what if the motive existed? Lessen the number of possible vehicles, and you lesson the risk of some nutcase pursueing the goal.

Well to that I'd say, is religion really a vehicle for causing war? Also, if it isn't the vehicle that causes the war but a larger imperative, then eliminating one vehicle will do nothing to stop the spread of war.

--

Two things.

It struck me that some people here are saying, "no one here believes that religion causes war," and in the same breath saying, "but religion causes war."

Secondly, if someone asked me the question, does competition over resources cause war, I might answer:

It can, but not necessarily. Humans, like all organisms have metabolic pathways that must be maintained or they die. Because of this, humans, like all organisms, are constantly trying to make a living. They consume resources in order to maintain their metabolic pathways. The resources on this planet are finite. Humans form societal groups and compete for these resources on an inter-societal level. This creates conflict. There is a relationship between the degree of scarcity and the level to which that conflict escalates. When there is plenty, compromises can be reached or claims abandoned. When there is scarcity, when successfully acquiring resources means the difference between feast an famine, life and death, the conflict can escalate to the point that the competing societies go to war. Some societies hold the view that the best way to resolve a conflict is through war and will escalate conflicts to that point regardless of the degree of scarcity. When societies are equally matched militarily, they will avoid war if possible to prevent a war of attrition (ie, the Cold War between the US and the USSR) and when societies are militarily mismatched, the more dominant society might be quick to go to war to resolve the dispute (ie, the European colonialists versus the indigenous tribes of the Americas or the US vs Iraq). That is why the competition over resources can most certainly be the cause for war; however, more specifically, it is the cause for conflict between human societies and that conflict can escalate or be escalated to war.

That's what I mean when I mean mechanism. Does it do it? Yes and here's how. Every point in that paragraph can be backed up. The fact that humans form societies. That resources are finite. The European colonialists used war as the means to settle territorial disputes with native populations not just in the Americas, but the world over, because they had the extreme military advantage of militarisation.

When I'm asked, does the competition over resources cause war, I can see and explain a mechanism. When I'm asked, does the unlimited growth imperative cause war, I can see and explain the mechanism. When I'm asked, does religion cause war, I see no such mechanism. If I'm asked, can religion be used to maintain the power of theocrats? Absolutely. And there's a mechanism that governs that. There is a reason. So I'm trying to see if someone has a reason why religion would cause war. I'm asking other people because I don't see it. I can't hypothesise a reason. If someone has one, I'm dying to hear it. If not, I'll continue believing that it doesn't cause war. But what I won't accept are arguments that say religion can be used to control populations that means it causes war, because there's no causal link between the two. My interest is war and what causes it. Is religion a culprit that I'm not seeing? You tell me.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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06-08-2010, 02:00 PM
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
Quote:Hey, Bnw.

I'm done with you. Have a nice life. I wish you well.

So, I'm being dismissed without my point being addressed? I'm honestly still not sure what you're upset with but I think I've explained myself fairly clearly a few times. If you did not like the explanation, that's fine.

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06-08-2010, 03:16 PM
 
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
Are all religions fear based?

i couldn't begin to tell you about all religions. but the ones that make you believe you're going to burn for eternity if you don't follow the rules, yes.

personally, i believe telling a child they will go to hell for stealing a cookie is a form of child abuse. teaching children that dinosaurs aren't real because they aren't in the bible is irresponsible. perpetuating the belief in an imaginary sky daddy is just plain ignorant. but people would rather be fooled into being happy then understanding their mortality. plus, it's like the lazy way to answer all your children's questions too.
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06-08-2010, 04:31 PM
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
Hey, thegirl.

On a vaguely related subject, I saw Anderson Cooper interview Christopher Hitchens, who has what is likely going to be terminal esophageal cancer. Not to get into the whole, "Atheists have faith too," debate, but I had to admire the strength of his character and the conviction he had in his beliefs about the position he was in, his mortality and his devotion to Atheism. The only thing that struck me was that he was incredibly intellectual about the whole thing. He said he hadn't cried yet and was quite unemotional. I had a cancer scare a couple of years ago. It's terrifying. I just feel a bit sad that the man is so in his head that he seems utterly cut off from his emotions. Anyhoo, total digression over.

I can see the role of fear in certain religions. I mean the term "God fearing" kinda sums that one up. I just wonder if it's fair to say they're based in fear. By that I just mean, is someone's devotion simply the result of being afraid, or is it framed positively rather than negatively? Like, they strive to be better not out of fear of the bad but out of celebration of the good. That being said, fear is for sure a major player in the coercive arm of religious power. Do X or else. That's pretty clear to me.

I'm with you in the sense that I believe the "the world is 6 000 years old" idea is pretty, well, retarded. But I think there is some value in the metaphorical view of the world rather than the literal view.

I remember watching a documentary about some natives in South America. Long story short, they said their people came from this tiny waterfall in the river. It was a preposterous idea to me of course, but it formed the basis of this people's relationship with the river and the jungle around it and the life within it, a relationship that, on the level of sustainable partnership, is light years beyond, say, Canada's. I can't really imagine calling that native group child abusers and I can't imagine that modernising them would help their situation.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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06-08-2010, 08:41 PM
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
(05-08-2010 08:44 PM)Ghost Wrote:  
Quote:Do you agree that religion has the capability to make people believe and do stupid things?

No. Mostly because of how the question was framed.

Please answer it anyway. If you dislike my method of framing the question, then explain why. Don't just dodge.

Quote:I don't believe in stupidity

The evidence is against you.

Quote:and find it too vague a term in this question as well.

How so?

Quote:I also feel that implied in the question is the notion that stupid beliefs are 'faith-based' beliefs, which I don't agree with.

I didn't mean to imply that, so please disregard that feeling. It is entirely possible to have stupid beliefs which are not faith-based.

Quote:I'd say that both groups are competing for resources and that cultural assimilation is not a tactic exclusive to religious groups and that assimilating individuals from other cultures serves a military purpose.

Did I ever disagree with either of these? I never said that religion is the exclusive cause of war. I said that it has a hand in war, which it demonstrably does. Not only can it provide the motivation for going to war (as in the tribal skirmishes of ages past), but it can be manipulated to give those who would otherwise never go to war a reason to (Gott Mit Uns).

Quote:
Quote:It is fact.

I disagree.

Why? Do you have evidence which shows what I stated to be wrong? If so, please present it. This site is called "The Thinking Atheist" for a reason; please back up what you say with solid logic and sound evidence.

Quote:It struck me that some people here are saying, "no one here believes that religion causes war," and in the same breath saying, "but religion causes war."

Not exactly. I, at least, do not think that religion causes war in the present, but has in the past, and even today has some influence on matters of war (wars over the "holy land").

Quote:Secondly, if someone asked me the question, does competition over resources cause war, I might answer:

It can, but not necessarily.

Which is exactly what we are saying about religion.

Quote:So I'm trying to see if someone has a reason why religion would cause war. I'm asking other people because I don't see it. I can't hypothesise a reason. If someone has one, I'm dying to hear it. If not, I'll continue believing that it doesn't cause war.

As I said above, in today's world, it usually doesn't, except for border skirmishes in the Middle East (Judaism and Islam clashing over who has the right to Jerusalem). In the past, though, the mechanism was simple: xenophobia. If you want a further explanation, please go read something on the Crusades, particularly those following the first (which was ignited by a territorial dispute as much as religious fervor).

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