The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
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07-08-2010, 01:49 AM
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
Hey, Unbeliever.

I don't believe that religion has the capability of making people do stupid things because that's a meaningless question to me. It's framed in such a way that I could not possibly produce an answer that I would find satisfactory. I don't believe in stupidity so how could I comment on whether religion causes people to believe and do stupid things?

The fact that you think some dude is stupid is not evidence of the existence of stupidity. If you're gonna say the evidence is against me, show me the evidence that proves the existence of stupidity.

What does "believe and do stupid things" mean? It's vague.

When I was talking about competition and conflict, I wasn't talking to you directly. It was a broadcast.

Religion has a hand in war? What is that hand? Cause it gets people fired up? There is a difference between what is demonstrable and what is received wisdom. We're all told that religion caused the Crusades and the Inquisition and oh, how horrible it is for it. But I've never been given an explanation of how religion caused it. There's far more important underlying reasons. Religion, to me, is a red herring.

How did religion cause tribal skirmishes? You can only recruit people to go to war if there is a war to go to. So how can a recruiting tool cause a war? Canada didn't go to war against Hitler cause someone said fight for King and Country. Canada went to war because it was a part of the commonwealth and an economic and military ally of Great Britain. The King and Country bit just smoothed over the whole conscription thing.

Why do I disagree? Because you have pulled things out of thin air. Islam is not alone in commanding the death and or conversion of others and I don't just mean other religions (example: the globalisation movement). Regardless, the vast majority of Muslims don't do that sort of thing and the vast majority of Imams don't preach that. That's why they call extremists extremists. It's a spectrum and they are at the extreme limit. They aren't the majority. More of a culture than a casual Sunday affair? What does that even mean? What are you basing that on? I disagree because you're calling 1.4 billion people dangerous when nothing could be further from the truth. If the armies of the West are engaged with a million Muslims I'd be surprised. Hell, even if it was ten million, which is a ridiculous notion, it'd still be negligible. Even if it was ten million it'd still be less than one percent of global Muslims. There's 3 500 - 10 000+ Muslims in the US military. They're just all aching to blow up the US? The information seems squirly, but depending on who you ask, there are currently between 1.5 and 8 million Muslims in the US. A third of them are black. So there's black Muslims tearing up the country? Muhammad Ali's gonna box everyone to death? So how the hell can you call the lion's share of 1.4 billion people, living their lives, minding their own business, a part of one of 'the most violent institutions out there'? It is just utterly unsupportable and sorry to say, discriminatory (and that's being polite).

Ok. Religion can cause war but not necessarily. Great. How?

Quote: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 same breath that you say it causes some wars you say the war is about territory.

Quote:In the past, though, the mechanism was simple: xenophobia.

How does that work? Clearly, demonstrably, the relationship between xenophobia and religion is not exclusive (example: the US immigration debate).

In the Crusades, the Christians didn't say, there's Muslims over there, let's go kill them because they're Muslims. They said, those Muslims are in control of some territory we wish to control. In order to control that territory, we need to defeat those Muslims militarily. But it's all right if we kill them because they're just Muslims. So sure, religion as propoganda and as superstructure and as method of dehumanising a foe, but cause of war? Don't see it.

I've said it before. I buy the idea that religion can be a mediator that allows one group to dehumanise another. But dehumanising an enemy doesn't cause wars and religion is certainly not the only way to dehumanise an enemy (example: it's all right if we kill 100 000 some odd Iraqi civilians because... whatever the hell BS excuse someone might buy).

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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07-08-2010, 01:05 PM
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
First, lets clear something up: belief in God and religion are not completely one and the same thing. Belief in some kind of supreme creator or creators is a fairly universal belief held by most people on Earth for most of the time humans have inhabited the planet. I"ll ignore for now why I think this happens because it's not relevant. Religion, on the other hand, takes a belief in a creator or creators and adds to it rules, requirements, laws, etc. It is a completely man made construct done with the purpose of furthering some type of goal. Some of those goals will be good and some not so good and many of the rules will be set up after the original creation of the religion to account for new situations. For example, the Catholic prohibitions on eating meat on Friday are a hold over from a time period where meat was scarce. The Church put these rules in place as a means of conservation of a scare resource. Another historical example are Holy Days. Holy Days were created to give the peasants a day off from toil. There is no biblical justification for either of these things, just the word of the Church. Another great example of this is the decision, after ~2,000 years, that perhaps the Jews were not actually responsible for the crucifixion of Christ, and maybe we should lay off of them since 6,000,000 (and this ignore the millions prior to WWII) were subject to wholesale wanton slaughter as a direct result of our criminal position.

So, with that distinction in mind we move to the following quote from you:

Quote:We're all told that religion caused the Crusades and the Inquisition and oh, how horrible it is for it. But I've never been given an explanation of how religion caused it. There's far more important underlying reasons. Religion, to me, is a red herring.

You cannot be serious. That religion - not belief in God but religion - played a major role in both the Crusades and the Inquisition is not in doubt. What possible explanation was there for the wholesale slaughter of the Cathars in the 12th century? That was ordered by the Dominicans, who were a newly (at the time) recognized order of the Catholic Church. They were given the authority of wiping out heretics, which they did with religious (no irony intended) zeal. They tortured and murdered thousands of people. This is not conjecture nor is it speculation. The church kept records that include the names of every victim, what their heretical "crime" was and what was done to them. These acts were not done by local magistrates or other government officials. This was done with the full force and blessing of the Catholic Church, the people who did these things were told they were doing God's work.

It is true that the wealth and property of the victims of the Cathar Inquisition went to the Church and the Church clearly had motivations to find people guilty. However, the Church is an institution not a person. Yes, people in the power structure would benefit from the seizing of wealth but the rank and file would not.

Moving on to the Crusades - Medieval Europe and kings and the forming of nation states. It was not these nation states that decided on their own who launched a war into what is really a barren wasteland (I've been to Israel and, trust me, it's mostly a barren wasteland). It was the Pope and the Church. Kings sent armies to the dessert to fight for land that had limited value to them because their so-called envoy to God told them too. How is that not a direct result of religion?

Ask your question the opposite way. What evidence do you have that anything but religion and belief in religious authority contributed to the Inquisition or Crusades? Sure, the people who set these things in motion may have had other motivations, but to move individuals to do these things you need to convince them. What were the motivations to the rank-and-file Dominicans to torture and murder people if it was not religious authority? What was the motivation for medieval kings to go squander their armies and their wealth in the Crusades if it was not fear of the Pope?

Take the Holocaust as an other example: what is the non-religious reason for antisemitism? Take religion out of that equation and why does anyone care if someone is Jewish (or Muslim, or Christian, or gay)?

Finally, I think a majority here have already made, and agreed, on your last point. This is what set me off in the first instance with your post. No one here is claiming that religion is the sole reason for war, misery, the dehumanizing of people, etc. However, to deny that religion has been a major factor in all of that over the course of human history is like denying that dinosaurs lived ~65 million years before man ever appeared on the planet.

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07-08-2010, 02:11 PM
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
(07-08-2010 01:49 AM)Ghost Wrote:  I don't believe that religion has the capability of making people do stupid things because that's a meaningless question to me. It's framed in such a way that I could not possibly produce an answer that I would find satisfactory. I don't believe in stupidity so how could I comment on whether religion causes people to believe and do stupid things?

Do you believe that creationism is stupid? If you dislike the term "stupid", feel free to substitute "irrational".

Quote:The fact that you think some dude is stupid is not evidence of the existence of stupidity. If you're gonna say the evidence is against me, show me the evidence that proves the existence of stupidity.

Stupidity is the condition of being so mind-bogglingly irrational that you can scarcely believe it. What exactly qualifies as stupid is subjective, but I don't see any reason for you to continually dodge my questions by saying "Oh, 'stupidity'/'better' doesn't really exist".
As for the evidence, check out the link I posted (when I post in bold, that part is a link). It's to the YouTube page of a man named NephilimFree. If you are able to watch his videos and then tell me with a straight face that there is no such thing as a stupid (or irrational, if you prefer) belief, then there really isn't anything else that can be said.

Quote:What does "believe and do stupid things" mean? It's vague.

No, not really. Any act or belief which is stupid or irrational and is caused/supported by religion. That's all I'm asking.

Quote:Religion has a hand in war? What is that hand?

I explained this already.

Quote:Cause it gets people fired up?

Yes.

Quote:There is a difference between what is demonstrable and what is received wisdom. We're all told that religion caused the Crusades and the Inquisition and oh, how horrible it is for it. But I've never been given an explanation of how religion caused it. There's far more important underlying reasons. Religion, to me, is a red herring.

Then you haven't done much research on the Inquisition or the Crusades. Both the Inquisition and the Crusades (aside from the first, as I said above) were directly caused by religious fervor. Go do some reading on the subject.

Quote:How did religion cause tribal skirmishes?

One tribe believing that its god had commanded them to destroy another tribe.

Quote:You can only recruit people to go to war if there is a war to go to. So how can a recruiting tool cause a war?

Did I say that it was a recruiting tool exclusively? No. Please don't put words in my mouth.
Religion can be used to recruit people, but it is also capable of causing the war directly.

Quote:Why do I disagree? Because you have pulled things out of thin air.

No. Everything that I have said is backed up by fact. That you are ignorant of the motivations behind the Crusades (which is mind-boggling in and of itself), deny that Islam is violent in the face of all the evidence, and claim that nothing is stupid is not my fault.

Quote:Islam is not alone in commanding the death and or conversion of others and I don't just mean other religions (example: the globalisation movement).

Did I ever say that it was?

Aside from the fact that you have again put words in my mouth, this is completely irrelevant. Whether or not there are other organizations which are violent doesn't matter. This is the ad hominem tu quoque fallacy.

Quote:Regardless, the vast majority of Muslims don't do that sort of thing and the vast majority of Imams don't preach that.

Did I say that they did? No. If you read my post, you will even see that I specifically said that there are peaceful Muslims. Again, you are strawmanning.
And, again, this is beside the point. The majority of Muslims may not be violent extremists, but Islam, due to its nature, has a higher number of violent extremists than almost any other religion. If you deny this, I suggest that, like the Crusades, you go do some research on the subject.

Quote:More of a culture than a casual Sunday affair? What does that even mean?

I mean that their religion controls their lives. The government is religious. The entire culture is based around that religion.

Quote:What are you basing that on?

Facts. Do some research on Muslim culture.

Quote:I disagree because you're calling 1.4 billion people dangerous

This is a blatant lie. I have never said that all Muslims were dangerous. Please stop strawmanning.

Quote:Ok. Religion can cause war but not necessarily. Great. How?

Again, do some research on the Crusades. If you really can't understand it afterwards, then I cannot help you.
It's as simple as this: religion is not rational. It does not have to have a rational reason for going to war. All it needs is "Hey, they dress funny and worship a different god! Kill 'em all!"

Quote:In the same breath that you say it causes some wars you say the war is about territory.

And you have missed the point again.

The war is over territory, yes, but the reason that the territory is a source of conflict is because both religions say that their worshipers have exclusive right to that region.

Quote:How does that work? Clearly, demonstrably, the relationship between xenophobia and religion is not exclusive (example: the US immigration debate).

Did I say that it was?

In any case, as above, religion is not rational. All that is required to start a war is hate. All that is required to start hate is xenophobia. And all that is required to start xenophobia is a reason to hate those who are different - which religion provides quite handily.

Quote:In the Crusades, the Christians didn't say, there's Muslims over there, let's go kill them because they're Muslims. They said, those Muslims are in control of some territory we wish to control. In order to control that territory, we need to defeat those Muslims militarily. But it's all right if we kill them because they're just Muslims. So sure, religion as propoganda and as superstructure and as method of dehumanising a foe, but cause of war? Don't see it.

You misunderstand the motivation for the Crusades. I have bolded the part where you went wrong.

Like the current conflicts in the Middle East, the reason that they wished to control that territory in the first place is because their religion declared it the Holy Land. Please do some research. Don't just skim.

Quote:I've said it before. I buy the idea that religion can be a mediator that allows one group to dehumanise another. But dehumanising an enemy doesn't cause wars and religion is certainly not the only way to dehumanise an enemy (example: it's all right if we kill 100 000 some odd Iraqi civilians because... whatever the hell BS excuse someone might buy).

No one has said that it is the only way to dehumanize someone. But you are flat-out contradicting all evidence when you claim that it cannot cause wars.

"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."
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07-08-2010, 06:29 PM
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
Hey, Unbeliever.

If I am flat out contradicting evidence, then show me to what evidence you are referring. Don't tell me to go look it up and I'll be bound to stumble upon it. If you're telling me that I'm wrong because of evidence that you are in possession of, then what is the evidence that you are in possession of?

You'll excuse me if I ignore responses like (paraphrasing): It's self-evident and if you disagree don't ask me to support my statement, go do some research that I'm assuming you've never done.

You are really abusing the idea of the strawman. Directly disagreeing with something you said is not a strawman, it's me disagreeing.

The reason I point out so many times that religion isn't the soul cause of things is because I believe that there is a larger mechanism at work. If you can substitute religion for red tshirts and hockey fans, then it is not a quality of those things that causes the war, it is the larger category that they are a part of. So, for me, to single out one of these things, it could be any one thing and state that it is the cause is a red herring because it masks the true cause.

I do prefer the term irrational, not because it's a synonym for stupidity (which I do not believe it is) but because I can speak to this idea. Does religion cause people to believe and do irrational things? It certainly can. Reasoning is not beyond the capacity of religious groups. But reason, in the sense of (I might be botching this concept) understanding things in terms of scientifically provable notions, is not omnipresent in religions. It can be present to some degree, but many beliefs can be irrational, ie, without scientific reason. God for instance. So yes, irrational behaviour is absolutely possible. I would add to my answer that I do not believe that irrational behaviour is either bad or less worthwhile than behaviour based on reason. Basically, I don't think it's necessarily stupid.

I did watch your Youtube video. It was a video of a man saying things that you subjectively label stupid. That's your right. I'm not saying you're wrong. But how is that an objective proof of the existence of stupidity? If you want to say that some of the things he said are irrational, I'd buy that.

Also, I'm not dodging your questions just because I disagree with the framing of them. If I ask you, what do you like better, raping children or murdering old people, you might feel that any answer you give is not indicative of what you actually feel solely because of the way I framed the question. An extreme example, but I was just trying to clearly illustrate my point. By changing your question to irrational, I felt that I could answer it.

And just because many people think that something exists, doesn't mean I can't question the validity of the idea. Many people thought that certain races were inferior. That idea was questioned. Many people think there is such a thing as smart people and stupid people. I disagree. Also, can we leave the "better" argument in the other thread? I'd rather not drag the entire spectrum of my worldview into this one conversation.

You have explained that religion gets people fired up. I agree with you. You have said that this leads to war. That is a jump that I can't as of yet take with you because you have, at least not to my satisfaction, explained how. So I'm not dismissing your statement that religion causes war, I'm just asking that you bring me along for the ride. If you feel you've already tried, then you can either try again or give up on me.

The idea that you assume I haven't done any research into the Crusades or the Inquisition because I disagree with you is pretty insulting. It's not really based on anything other than the fact that I have a different view than you do. Again, if I'm wrong based on evidence that you possess, share that evidence. So share with me, how did religious fervour cause the Crusades?

Quote:One tribe believing that its god had commanded them to destroy another tribe.

Are you asserting that monotheism predates civilisation (because it's my understanding that most tribal cultures prior to civilisation were Animist) or do you mean some modern extant tribes that have monotheistic beliefs?

Again, I'm right with you when you say that religion can be used as a recruiting tool. I'm just not following how religion (which I gather you believe is more than just a recruiting tool) causes the war.

If I've missed a really obvious thing you said earlier in this thread where you explained how religion causes war, please repost it. If I missed it I will apologise.

Quote:That you are ignorant of the motivations behind the Crusades (which is mind-boggling in and of itself), deny that Islam is violent in the face of all the evidence, and claim that nothing is stupid is not my fault.

Again, if you have so much evidence about the motivations behind the crusades, please share it.

I also hear that black people are criminals. And Jews are cheap. And Indians smell bad. Sorry for the cheap theatrics but the idea that Islam is violent seems far more stereotypical than factual.

Is it Islam itself, the abstract idea, that is violent or is it individual Muslims? If it is the religion, are all Muslims violent? If it is individual Muslims, wouldn't Muslims are violent be a better thing to say? If I've missed a possibility here, please clarify what you mean further.

Quote: Quote:Islam is not alone in commanding the death and or conversion of others and I don't just mean other religions (example: the globalisation movement).


Did I ever say that it was?

Aside from the fact that you have again put words in my mouth, this is completely irrelevant. Whether or not there are other organizations which are violent doesn't matter.

Here's my issue with this. If I say that lions eat other animals, that's factually correct. If I imply that they are the only animals that do, that is incorrect. If I single lions out above other animals for eating other animals, that is misleading. Lions don't eat other animals because they're lions. They do it because they're heterotrophs. So, to me, indicating whether or not other organisations, beliefs and institutions are capable of acting violently, clarifies whether Islam is violent, just like many other things and therefore not special, whether Islam is the only one that is violent, or if singling Islam out for being violent is misleading.

I did see that you said that there are peaceful Muslims. I did. But it seems to me that there are so staggeringly more peaceful Muslims than violent ones (like by a billion), that it seems like Muslims are generally peaceful (or as peaceful as any other group) and a small percentage are violent, is a much fairer statement than Islam is violent but there are some peaceful Muslims.

Quote:The majority of Muslims may not be violent extremists, but Islam, due to its nature, has a higher number of violent extremists than almost any other religion.

Ok. This I can work with. What information do you base that on? Was there a study? Is there a pie chart I can look at? The people that are being identified as both violent and Muslim, is there any other factor that might be contributing to their extremism? For example, are they poor, do they lack infrastructure (physical, agricultural, political), do they lack international influence, are they under attack, are they being occupied?

I don't think that I could safely say that Catholicism was the primary cause of say, the activities of the IRA. I think the British occupation of their country and the arbitrary massacre of their citizenry in 1916 might have more to do with it.

Quote:I mean that their religion controls their lives. The government is religious. The entire culture is based around that religion.

Religion controls their lives? In the magical sense or the memetic sense or some other sense? Because memes control all of our lives and magic is irrational.

The government is religious? So Turkey, Iraq, Nigeria, Indonesia, Egypt, Syria, Bangladesh and the United States are all Islamic theocracies?

Quote: Quote:I disagree because you're calling 1.4 billion people dangerous


This is a blatant lie. I have never said that all Muslims were dangerous. Please stop strawmanning.

My apologies. So if Islam is dangerous then what are the tendencies of Muslims or is it just the religion itself that is violent?

Quote:Again, do some research on the Crusades. If you really can't understand it afterwards, then I cannot help you.
It's as simple as this: religion is not rational. It does not have to have a rational reason for going to war. All it needs is "Hey, they dress funny and worship a different god! Kill 'em all!"

Ok, religion is irrational. So does that mean the religions go to war arbitrarily? Is it only theocratic states that go to war for irrational reasons or do religious groups lobby secular governments to go to war on their behalf?

Quote:The war is over territory, yes, but the reason that the territory is a source of conflict is because both religions say that their worshipers have exclusive right to that region.

Ok. I have a question. Is the claiming of territory an act that is exclusive to religious groups or do all societies claim territory? If it is all societies, then would not it be fair to say that laying claim to territory is a function of a society trying to provide for it's people rather than a function of religion?

Quote:But you are flat-out contradicting all evidence when you claim that it cannot cause wars.

Again. To what evidence do you refer? Or am I to just assume that I missed the memo and take your word for it?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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08-08-2010, 08:24 AM
 
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
(07-08-2010 01:49 AM)Ghost Wrote:  In the Crusades, the Christians didn't say, there's Muslims over there, let's go kill them because they're Muslims. They said, those Muslims are in control of some territory we wish to control. In order to control that territory, we need to defeat those Muslims militarily. But it's all right if we kill them because they're just Muslims. So sure, religion as propoganda and as superstructure and as method of dehumanising a foe, but cause of war? Don't see it.

exactly. religion was used as the excuse while gaining land was the actual motive. for instance, do you think young men flew planes into the towers purely because america doesn't accept their god? or was religion used on them to brainwash them into believing what they were doing was for their god? do you think these same men would have still done this if they were told it was over oil or politics or money?
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08-08-2010, 09:20 AM
RE: The Great Satan - Religion is Bad M'Kay
Hey, thegirl.

Nice.

The idea that they did it because America is a land of infidels or because they despise Americans for their freedom has always seemed pretty flimsy, even laughable, to me.

I'm not entirely convinced that brainwash is an accurate way to describe it simply because it seems to preclude the idea that they may have entered into the act of their own volition as a way of resolving a conflict. For example, kamikaze pilots flew planes into naval vessels in the name of fealty to the divine emperor, but they did it because they were trying to stop the US, who had already smashed the Japanese fleet, from invading their country. The emperor just told them, "this is how I want you to do it," and they answered, "sounds like a good idea to me, boss." It's entirely possible that they (the hijackers) might have done it in the name of oil, politics or money, but I have to imagine that in this case, jihad was their point of unity.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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