some questions...
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27-12-2010, 06:30 PM
RE: some questions...
(27-12-2010 05:13 PM)catch22 Wrote:  The key is (my own personal belief) in how religion is deployed by political and social systems. The people who control religion, control religious people. If the world's politicians were not so corrupt, they would not command religious people to do their bidding, they would not manipulate religious doctrine, and they would not use religion as an excuse to wage war.

Entirely true, but this is the problem that we're talking about. Religion is divisive, because it can be used in exactly the way you said here. It provides a tool for people to divide their followers into an "us versus them" mentality.

Even when that isn't happening, many religious people choose to adopt that mentality of their own accord. There are very few instances when religion has a direct hand in creating a life-long, lasting friendship. As I said above, such friendships are founded on other things, not just on the fact that two people share the same beliefs.

Friendship is built in spite of religious difference, not because of it.

Quote:I sincerely believe that those people who practise their religion correctly will have no qualms with any other religion.

Because that is part of your religious upbringing. Others' religions contain direct commandments not to tolerate other religions. Literal Christianity, for example, along with fundamental Islam.

Quote:I understand your point about friends not being friends on sole account of their religion, but more than that, I would say it is intolerance – not simply religion – which can be the destructor of friendships.

Exactly. And religion is one of the chief creators of intolerance.

Quote:I merely meant to express that people will have arguments and dislike one another for all sorts of differences, religion being one of them. Tolerance is vital.

You won't get any argument from me on that. That's my point, actually. People argue over many things. People also come together over many things. But here's the thing about religion: it only divides people. It doesn't bring them together.

Of course, "only" is an exaggeration. It's just very unlikely that anyone founds a friendship based only on sharing a religious belief.

Quote:“Religion very, very rarely brings people together for anything more than a casual relationship. Friendships are built on more than a common belief of how the universe came to be.”
True... but the same can be said for strangers... who very, very rarely come together for more than a casual relationship.

Yep. And why do these strangers decide to become close friends? It probably isn't because they share the same religion. However, in many cases, it is in spite of the fact that they do not share the same religion.

"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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27-12-2010, 08:10 PM
RE: some questions...
Catch22,

I think the thread entitled "the ongoing saga" in the "casual coffee house" may interest you. I don't like it when people come to my home to push their beliefs on me, but I don't pull out the shotgun either. I talk to them. That thread explains more....

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27-12-2010, 08:18 PM
 
RE: some questions...
(27-12-2010 06:30 PM)Unbeliever Wrote:  Friendship is built in spite of religious difference, not because of it.
Hmmm, I only highlighted that people who share the same religion can come together to form a friendship... for example, at temples. I've made lots of good friends at the mandir over the years, from childhood and even now. The mosque in my town has open days every 6 months where they invite the community in to show them around, help to make Islam more understood (to promote tolerance and to shed false ideas about the religion), and to give us awesome food. Now I see people from the mosque every time I go out in the street and often say hello, (and I have been to a lot of their open days and go for the food during ramadam) and have even asked a couple to come in for tea at mine! It can happen, if you let it. If people can change their 'norms' of interaction. I go with my other friends to Sunday Mass sometimes too! Just to kill time... more to admire the architecture though, there is a beautiful chapel on my campus and I study visual culture, so I am interested in the theological affects on space. I don't think I made any friends there, but I bet I could if I put some effort into it Smile

I mean, fair enough you don't want people preaching at your doorstop and to keep their practise private... but I think in my surroundings there is so much religion that I would rather not just live in my own bubble. It is a completely different world, an escape. We seek the same escape when we watch a movie or read a book.

Quote:here's the thing about religion: it only divides people. It doesn't bring them together. Of course, "only" is an exaggeration. It's just very unlikely that anyone founds a friendship based only on sharing a religious belief.
What about people who go to the same place of worship because of their religious belief, that meet one another and become friends? What about the multitudes of refugees that have moved around the world... my parents went to a Hindu temple in London when they came here, for the sole purpose of making friends as they had no one else and wanted to stick with their 'immigrant grouping' so as not to lose their culture. I'm positive the same is done amongst Arabic, Chinese (Buddhist) etc populations...

Religious spaces (in my experience) are great places to immerse oneself in another world and to meet new people, make new friends... you don't have to go there just for religion. I think my above examples highlight that amply, and I can provide many more, stories from friends too. The religious space in India for example can be a space for a variety of religions. Whenever Buddhist temples are built in Sri Lanka, deities of the Hindu religions are also built in the same temple. This has been done over the ages to unite people. There is a great mishmash of religion in the Asian subcontinent – there should be more of it!

Quote:Religion is divisive, because... It provides a tool for people to divide their followers into an "us versus them" mentality.

Sorry, I think you misunderstood me on this point. I don't think religion provides a tool for division, I think religion is used as a tool (much like the media is ab/used in politics, for example) to promote hatred and division. I think leaders can abuse religion for their own goals. All beliefs (whether religious or not) can be appropriated for a desired ends. That doesn't mean belief itself is wrong! And some (artists, predominantly) would argue that appropriation isn't wrong; human beings are great imitators/ appropriators/ manipulators. These are skills which have allowed us to create art since the dawn of time (or, since early man)! Language is the greatest example of this. We don't say language creates intolerance... only how our appropriation of it, how we USE it.

Which brings me to another point (I'm tired and it's late, and it's something I haven't actually thought about before, but here goes). If religion is man-made, and if things made by man can be considered art (politics, sociology, theology, science amongst other things are all studied as arts in the field of Visual Culture), and art unites the senses and reflects our image back onto us, then surely religion merely offers another dialogue in this rhizomatic sphere of ideas and creations? It is just another part of who and what we are. Wait... what was my point? I don't know but I'm going to come back to this tomorrow. Comment if you want to..

Quote:And religion is one of the chief creators of intolerance.
Religion is a creator of intolerance? I'm not an expert on every religion!... Christianity you say for example does not promote tolerance for other religions (and fundamentalist Islam (is that even a religion? I thought they were just loony extremists)), but many of the Eastern religions; Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Zorastrianism, Buddhism etc... promote tolerance of other religions, so no, I would argue that you're wrong there. There are more religions that promote tolerance for other religions than there are not.

Quote:why do these strangers decide to become close friends? It probably isn't because they share the same religion. However, in many cases, it is in spite of the fact that they do not share the same religion.
I don't know if I understand this? You're saying that people become friends even if they have different religions? … yes.

----------------------------------------

One last note (and something you may be interested in): A form of atheism which branched from Hinduism (funnily enough) and blossomed from around 500AD
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%C4%81rv%C4%81ka

Goodnight, good sir.
(27-12-2010 08:10 PM)Stark Raving Wrote:  Catch22,

I think the thread entitled "the ongoing saga" in the "casual coffee house" may interest you. I don't like it when people come to my home to push their beliefs on me, but I don't pull out the shotgun either. I talk to them. That thread explains more....

I had look for the thread and searched for it... to no avail. Link?
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27-12-2010, 09:03 PM
RE: some questions...
http://thethinkingatheist.com/forum/show...p?tid=1085

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28-12-2010, 10:09 AM
RE: some questions...
One thought Catch22 , your faith is far more peaceful in doctrine and teachings than other religious faiths.If you read the Bible/Koran or books from other faiths you will see many examples of violence and encouragement to violence.
Monotheistic religions have a "ONLY US" idea at their core - tolerance gets a leg cut of from the get go.
Even if certain faiths are interpreted literally they don't harm society : i.e Jainism.
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29-12-2010, 08:42 AM
 
RE: some questions...
As someone who was raised Hindu (or at least grew up in a Hindu family, not that I ever really bough any of it), how do you explain the caste system? Sure, you may not have been brought up to believe in it, but I don't find this to be an adequate defense.

Muslims will often state that terrorists are not following the "true" version of Islam. I call bull. Read the Koran, and you have no problem justifying what the terrorists do. Read the Bible, and you will find similar things. Peaceful Muslims may choose to ignore these parts, but that does not mean it isn't part of Islam. Your personal interpretation is your personal interpretation, no more valid than the interpretation of the terrorists. And so as long as religious thought can so easily provoke violence, I never consider that religion to be peaceful.

It is important to note that religion divides, not necessarily religious people.

Akbar favored religious toleration. True. But he was one leader out of hundreds that have spanned history, and only the vast minority have granted such toleration. And when religious toleration is granted, it is a hallmark of secular society. When religion plays a dominating role in government and society, you get a theocracy, and you will not find a single theocracy throughout history that has been a uniting one, except that it unites the members of the oppressive majority.

And so, the caste system. I don't know much about Vedic history and so I don't know when, where, or how the caste system started, but it is an intrinsic part of Hinduism (regardless of the fact that you choose to buy into it). Isn't this an example of religion dividing?

Also, and this is trivial, but as a Star Trek fan...

I'm glad to hear you are a Star Trek fan. Gene Rodenberry was an atheist, and he envisioned a future utopia not where people had reconciled their religious beliefs, but where these beliefs did not exist at all.
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29-12-2010, 02:06 PM
RE: some questions...
I think the biggest reason why we have a tendancy to disagree here is that most of us are located in the west, where Christianity is very strong and Muslims are portrayed as evil, and you (as well as a few others) live in the East where some of the religions (Taoism, Confusionism, Buddhism, and I think Shintoism) are actually atheistic, the rest being polytheistic or pantheistic (with the exception of Muslims who tend to be more progressive than Christians from my speculation). Because there is much more diversity in the religious in the East than the West, the religions either are accepting, or the invidividuals practicing are forced to accept them. However, as I mentioned before, the majority of beliefs revolve around multiple Gods or none at all.

In the West we have Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, three monotheistic religions which all preach that their God is the one true God, and that all the others are false. However, Christianity is undoubtedly the most prominent in the West, and this has caused some interesting division among us over here.

As you may know, Christianity has many branches, I can't even name them all, and you know what they do? They descriminate against eachother! Baptists don't like Mormons, Lutherans don't like Catholics, Catholics don't like protestants, protestants don't like orthodox, etc. Even from one Baptist Church to another down the street there is still the whole "you're wrong, we're right" fiasco going on, and they want to steal the church members from the other one. It's all a bussiness here in the West, the more church members, the more money, so you play politics. Another odd thing that happens is that Christians run a major political party in the US (not sure about the rest of the West) and they try to force everybody to accept their ideals, and belittle those who do not. The Christian party is the source of almost ALL stupidity in America, they are the extremists, I would call them terrorists even. This is not a small minority though, they have enough followers to take the presidential elections every few years, along with the house, and the senate.

This is why you will hear many western free thinkers say that Religion divides more than it unites.
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08-01-2011, 11:14 AM
 
RE: some questions...
catch22 ~ A faith based belief (as opposed to the logic of scientific reasoning for example), will always divide people; into those who do believe and those that don't. As a Hindu, I noticed you didn't mention Muslims in your list ... is this because Hindus and Muslims hate each other ? The muslims regarding anyone who isn't muslim as infidels, to be converted into muslims or killed ? You may think that the statement 'religion divides people' is wrong, but by definition it does divide everyone into belivers and non belivers. The only belief anyone should hold is within themselves, not in any unproveable god or spirit.
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