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[P]
The case for a Darwinian religion

By tlloh in Culture
Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:13:37 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Can religion and science coexist? Ah, but you've heard it all before. Creationists, evolutionists, the Scopes trial, the ten commandments in schools, Darwinism being thrown out in favour of Genesis.

Is there still a role for religion in this world? Should there be one? Is it doomed to die an irrelevant death? Or can an institution of collective human conscience evolve, just like the rest?


A man who blindly follows religion without question ...

... is a man who cannot think for himself. By accepting dogma without question, without fully coming to terms with what it means to hold a particular doctrine as a central tenet of one's personal life is to freely and willingly shackle yourself to a way of life, a mode of thinking, that is designed to imprison your mind. (forgive the Matrix reference here - it was not entirely deliberate, but that movie was accurate in more ways than you think).

Many people who follow a religion today do so not out of clear choice, but because they were born into those chains. Chains that have so warped their thinking that they can no longer see value in man's intrinsic ability to reason, to question the world around him, values that have brought man to where it is today.

Others follow religion because they believe that to follow it is to be good, or to be righteous. But I ask you, can there be morality without religion? Can there be justice without religion?

I argue that man carries in him a sense of what is right and wrong. It may be shaped by religion, but he doesn't need religion to tell him whether something is right or wrong. After all, what is religion except clearly expounded musings of our collective human conscience? Collective rules that are designed to better help man live together in society, so as not to tear the social fabric apart?

So what is religion but a tool to organise the masses? A tool to serve one's own political purposes - power, glory, greed - as various leaders of all the major religions have demonstrated many times in history? Where does the fiction of divine truth, wisdom and power end? The fiction of divine lineage has already been shattered. Kings, emperors have all been torn down. Where will reason strike next? When will we accept that the earth is not flat, that the universe does not revolve around our planet? How many more times must religious teaching be shown to be wrong before man questions the value of everything that is set before him?

Ah, but it would seem that I am an evolutionist. But in truth, creationists, evolutionists - none of them matter. Some evolutionists treat science as religion, and fall into the same trap. Their minds are equally closed to possibilities of other kinds. One can be so blind to one's faith in a particular rule or law of science that one cannot accept the coexistence or truth of another. Einstein, the greatest man of our time, believed that god did not play dice. Feynman has since shown that relativity is not immutable.

Had Einstein not been in opposition to quantum theory could we perhaps now be 20 years ahead in our understanding of superposition and quantum replication? Had he applied his great mind to the task, might it be possible that we would now have pierced the veils shrouding the holy grail of physics, a unified field theory? Or perhaps not. He was, like us, a man after all.

The point here is that we are all human. We have our limitations and our failings. But even so, now and then, a couple of us transcend those limits to a higher plane of understanding, leading us all to greater and glorier heights, using what must be god's (if he exists, in whatever form) greatest gift to us - pure reason.

And it is a shame, that in today's day and age (and if you'll pardon the cliche - this new millenium), where the impossible happens every day, where new inventions are so numerous that we cease to take notice of them, that we continue to cling to age-old beliefs and thoughts that are outmoded, an anachronism in this world. Why do we inhibit ourselves, and limit man's potential? Why do we not strip away the veils clouding our eyes and soar to a more forward-looking society, where each of us is free to fulfil his own potential?

This is not to say that there is no longer a role for religion. Can religion not evolve at all, must it be doomed to die an irrelevant death? Or perhaps its longevity can be ascribed to the fact that there is perhaps some truth in religion?

Can we not distill what is good from it, the expounded rules of our collective human conscience, just as modern science was distilled from the mystical, modern chemistry from alchemical transmutation, and modern astronomy from ancient astrology?

Stripped of all its superstition, what would such a religion be? A worship and celebration of what it is that makes us human - to embrace it is to be human. Could such expounded conscience not only coexist with secular science, but be the guiding principle that together with science leads man to fulfil his greatest potential?

Ah, but that is a question you will all have to consider.

tlloh, "Thoughts for a better age"

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Poll
Is there truth in religion?
o Yes, everything they teach is true 2%
o Yes, there is truth in religion, if not all of it 29%
o Only our expounded collective conscience 21%
o No, religion is all bullshit 26%
o No, YOU are full of shit 20%

Votes: 140
Results | Other Polls

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o Also by tlloh


Display: Sort:
The case for a Darwinian religion | 142 comments (98 topical, 44 editorial, 0 hidden)
Hmmm... (1.90 / 20) (#1)
by Signal 11 on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 09:47:22 PM EST

we got enough bad religions as it is. Don't need to add more....


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
Have you even *read* it? (3.33 / 9) (#2)
by tlloh on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 09:51:52 PM EST

Within 1 minute of my submission, you've voted it down, AND made a comment.

I think you'd find it a lot more interesting if you followed it through ...

[ Parent ]
Religion is nethier good nor bad - (3.71 / 14) (#6)
by Dr Caleb on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 10:02:13 PM EST

It is the believers who make it so.

Most Islamics I know are good people. It's the nutcases (their words!) that declare "Jihad" that give others the impression of radicals.

All religions have good and bad in them. I know many followers of the OTC, who are by far upstanding citizens. Until you explain that "OTC" stands for "One True Church". The Church of Satan. Then people get all indignant.

To quote Stephen Hawking: "The big bang does not preclude God from creating the Universe; it simply sets a time when He did it." Religious words for a man of pure science.

I believe there is most definately a place in this modern world for religion. I at least, require an inner balance from my "pure" world of electronics, a balance I get from the inner peace of faith.

For those of you voting this "-1 Dump it", if you don't want a discussion, why come to K5 at all? Go back to /.


Vive Le Canada - For Canadians who give a shit about their country.

There is no K5 cabal.

Then the question becomes ... (5.00 / 3) (#11)
by tlloh on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 10:30:50 PM EST

... how does one believe? What does one believe? I doubt that religious extremism can be blamed entirely on the tendency for some people to be extremist, but also in what they are taught, and how they are taught it.

There is, after all, a fine line between teaching the basic concepts of good and propagating what may not be sound practical doctrine. If (traditional) religion is based on faith, as opposed to reason, where does one stop relying on reason and accept what is taught by virtue of blind faith?

In order to maximise the good of religion, there must be a way to sieve the chaff from the wheat. The tool I suggest is pure reason, and the intrinsic collective knowledge we call human conscience.

Do you think such a religion (if it can be called a religion at all) then become a uniter of humanity, and an enabler (to fulfil our potential) rather than the division created by extremism in traditional religion today?

[ Parent ]
..then I would have to answer... (4.33 / 3) (#29)
by Dr Caleb on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 12:29:02 AM EST

How does one believe? Good one. I don't know. I think this is very closely tied to the 'what' part. 'How' depends on 'what'. If the 'what' is that the sun will rise in the east, then the 'how' would be from observation, knowledge of the direction the earth rotates, and past experience.

What does one believe? That could be a matter of upbringing. "I was born a snake handler, and I'll die a snake handler" Moe - The Simpsons. I too believe that extremism can be taught. I don't remember where I heard it, but I remember a quote that went "It is the unbelievers that are the religious fanatics. A man does not protest and preach that the sun rises in the east. He already believes it. It is the unbeliever who must do this in order that others validate the unbelievers faith". Really rough paraphrase, but that was the gist.

I believe I see a thread of human reason in most modern religions. Toss away the trappings of the particular religion; the trinkets, the building or place of worship, the statues, the altars; and you get a fairly common message. Kindness toward others, helping the misfortunate neighbour, tolerance of others, respect towards others. Those kind of things.

I think any positive message can help us to fulfill our true potential, be it religious, social, family or friends.


Vive Le Canada - For Canadians who give a shit about their country.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

That thread of human reason in religions ... (4.00 / 1) (#33)
by tlloh on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 12:58:23 AM EST

... is exactly what I am looking for. As you say, "toss away the trappings" - and maybe this can become the basis of a renewed and more relevant religion.

I'm not going to delude myself into thinking that this is going to happen anytime soon. Traditional organised religion still endures today, and continues to whole in thrall a certain portion of the masses. And of the unbelievers? They are equally bad - not believing in anything but the politics of greed (or was that The Word according to Oprah?)

I'm looking for a renewal of religion, more relevant to today's society, free of the trappings of the past, that will continue to fulfil the role religion (in its present form) performs today - to fill the void which no amount of science, amenities, gadgetry and technology can fill - the need for humans to be social beings, to belong to something, and to believe in something.

Perhaps it's already happening, and I merely do not recognise its form. More likely I'm just a blathering idiot. Sigh.

[ Parent ]
You aren't going to find it. (none / 0) (#105)
by Dr Caleb on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 12:37:56 AM EST

So sorry. You're going to have to make it.

I have, for myself. I have faith. I choose to express that faith how I see fit. I don't participate in organized religions, and don't consider myself religious. I don't ignore organized religions. I do attend services for things like weddings etc. My local pastor is a good friend of mine, and he understands.

If I choose to revel in the beauty that is nature, and life, and celebrate it's creator, whoever that may be (God, muons, take the red pill), that's my business.

I try to live my life well, helping instead of hurting. That's about the best I could hope for in anyone.


Vive Le Canada - For Canadians who give a shit about their country.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

Why (many) Christians have it wrong (3.89 / 19) (#9)
by enterfornone on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 10:08:10 PM EST

Many Christians beleive that by blindly following their religion and forcing schools to teach their beliefs and their beliefs only they are doing what God wants. But are they?

Here's a little story I'm sure many have heard before.

"There was a man who had two sons.
The younger one said to his father, `Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.
"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.
After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.
So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.
He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
"When he came to his senses, he said, `How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!
I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.'
So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
"The son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
"But the father said to his servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate.
For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' (Luke 15:11-24 NIV)
God doesn't want people forced to believe in him. He wants people to go out into the world and learn the truth for themselves. By stopping children learning about the origins of live from a number of angles Christians are doing themselves a disservice.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
Reminds me of an old joke. (3.50 / 6) (#16)
by Zer0 on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 10:52:09 PM EST

The floods are coming. A man floats over in a boat, the water is knee deep. He says to his friend, "Get in the boat, the floods are coming".

The man standing in the water replys, "Don't worry about me, i have faith in God, he will save me".

A few hours later the water is waist deep, the man in the boat floats over again, "Get in Get in! the flood is coming quicker now!".

The man standing in the water replys "I told you before friend, don't worry about me, God shall save me".

Hours later the water is now neck-high. The man floats over again, "Quick get in now!, the water is getting high, you will be swept away and drown!!".

The man standing in the water replys "I have faith in God, he will save me".

He drowns.

He wakes up, bright white light and all that heavenly cloudy stuff you see in the movies. He sees people lining up before a desk so he does the same. When he gets to the front of the queue he says, "God, i was drowned in the flood, why didnt you save me?". God flipps though his book.. ahh Mr.. oh here you are. "I sent your friend three times with a boat and you didn't get in?!?!"


Perhaps God sent all those silly scientist people. Naaahhhh.


[ Parent ]
Similar joke I heard once (4.00 / 1) (#135)
by dennis on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 06:35:50 PM EST

A guy's working on a roof. He slips and starts sliding down to the edge. He yells "God help me!" Right after that his belt catches on a nail and stops him just before the edge. He breathes a big sigh of relief and says "Never mind, God, I got caught on a nail."

[ Parent ]
Another parable (4.28 / 7) (#17)
by jabber on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 10:56:30 PM EST

Whenever the topic of science, or following religion blindly comes up, I'm always reminded of the parable of the Three Servants.

There once was a rich man who had three servants. He was going away for some time, and entrusted some of his wealth to each of the three servants. The first servant took his share and squandered it. The second took it into a field and burried it for safe keeping. The third invested it in the hope of making a profit. When the master returned and asked for his wealth back, he was most happy with the third servant, who made the wise choice to invest, and increase the wealth.

The parable had been taught to me in parochial school, within the context of building on one's God-given talents and abilities, but there is more to it.

One of God's greates gifts is Free Will. Anyone who obeys the Bible blindly and without question, is wasting this gift. God would rather we argued with Him, wrestled with the need for belief and obedience, and even turned away to eventually return, like the Prodigal Son in the parable you relayed, rather than followed blindly like a sheep.

If you love something, set it free... Well, we have been. And it is up to us to choose to return, or not. The Prodigal Son parable is assurance that it is never too late to do so.

Science, and the search for understanding is also an exercise of intellect, another great gift which is wasted by blind acceptance. If we look back at the greatest minds of all time, even of today, we will find them all to be believers. Not so much devout worhipers as gnostics and spiritualists.

I'm not sure where I stand on faith, but I'm certainly not a practicing Catholic anymore. I still believe in, well, something, and I can't be any more specific than that at this point in life. But I do think that the greatest homage to God/Creation/the Universe which has made us, is to seek understanding of Creation/God/the Universe and anything it entails.

Science is a form of worship, and the hope of the next great discovery is a kind of prayer. Science and religion are inseparable like two sides of the same coin. There is one Universe. On one side is that which we know, what we've observed and understood - Science. On the other side of the coin is the mysteries, the 'super' natural, the divine. God and Creation are one and the same.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Why should we believe in anything? (3.50 / 10) (#12)
by Old Man Sam on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 10:31:44 PM EST

It appears to me that we seem to be just following religion because it has been followed for as long as modern history can remember. Do you really think that thousands of years ago someone expected the whole (well all those without free thought) to be mindlessly following something that most likely started out as little more than a cult. This has to stop somewhere, religion is just another way to control the mindless masses.

Old Man Sam

Everyone on the Internet thinks they are a philosopher.

Precisely:) (3.75 / 4) (#15)
by tlloh on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 10:42:53 PM EST

But even so, there will be certain things that science cannot fill, such as our (general) need to be gregarious, to belong to something, to believe in something.

Religion presently fills that void. Most world religions are irrelevant, outmoded, an anachronism. Yet they endure.

But why is it do they endure? Why do people continue to cling to the old ways, the old beliefs even when they are out of step with this age and time?

I argue that it is because it still has value - it fills a need that our increasingly secular society cannot. So I ask - can we not distill that useful essence from religion, discard all that no longer serves our purpose and then move forward into another day and age?

[ Parent ]
You first (3.00 / 2) (#25)
by xriso on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 11:42:26 PM EST

Tell me when you get this "trancendent" thinking, and I might consider your proposal. I don't think people can keep this kind of stuff up for long.

Remember that even if you get a society of people who are like this, they may only prefer it because they hated their previous life. Just wait for generation 2 and 3 to start questioning the new lifestyle. They can cripple it, or even kill it.
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)

I would like to know your knowledge of religion... (4.33 / 6) (#26)
by theboz on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 11:47:44 PM EST

I think that you have made assumptions about religion that are true in many but not all of various religions. For example, there is a particular type of buddhism that you might fit in. It is more focused on "be good to people" than the supernatural stuff. I wish I could remember more information on it at this time as a friend of mine is that type of buddhist.

You are correct in your assumptions about how organized religion is used as a tool for politics, power and wealth. You were also correct in that it is bad to accept things as true without any proof. However, that doesn't make all religion without a purpose or fitting into these definitions of being wrong. I know of christian groups that base everything they believe on the bible and refuse to believe in things invented by the catholic church such as the trinity. Now, you do have to make the assumption that the bible would be The Truth or something, but it is a start. I think there are good, useful religions out there where thought is a result. A good religion would be one that helps it's people to think, and to give them ideas of what is good. Where the morals come from is a different subject though, and we have to make exceptions like don't steal and don't murder.

Anyways, I guess my point is that to me the ideal religion would be to focus on improving life and my logic more than any sort of mythology. I think what is most important for people to learn is closer to that of science. A good religion would not be one that tells you what to believe in, but how to find what to believe in. My mother and stepfather raised me in a christian environment, however they did encourage asking questions and the ability to think logically. I think to them what I believed was not as important as the fact that I thought through, and continue to think through what to believe in. Just as life is a journey and not a destination, we don't want to arrive at a set of stale, static beliefs. That is one thing that the scientific community teaches that religions could learn to take note on. We try to test what we know, and if we find that we were wrong, we change to be correct. Otherwise, we would be lying to ourselves and those around us, and lying is frowned upon in various levels in all religions that I know of.

Stuff.

Ok, this is my knowledge of religion (4.75 / 4) (#30)
by tlloh on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 12:31:58 AM EST

I didn't want to put this in the write-up because I didn't want to start a flame war when people focus only on the things they don't like and ignore the rest of the article.

But I suppose it's inevitable, since I've now been subsciously classified as secular and anti-religion and this characterisation of me is probably colouring their interpretation of what I have written.

I am a practising (well kind of, see later) Roman Catholic. I was born into this faith. In my entire life I have always questioned my faith - I have asked why the Church teaches particular doctrine (divine creation, pro-life, transmutation of body and blood, the holy trinity, belief in the resurrection, sexual orientation, prohibitions on sexual desire).

My parents were converts. They wholeheartedly believe in the faith. They are two extremely intelligent people, but when it comes to faith, they are willing to give their reasoning faculties a more secondary role.

From what I understand (from asking and questioning them), they subscribe to the religion because it is a good religion. It teaches people to do good. They say that you can judge whether something is the work of God or the Devil by its fruits. If the fruits are good, then it is the work of God, and the way the RC Church has transformed their lives has certainly been for the better.

And I cannot argue with that, since my parents live good lives. I won't say holy, but they are good people. They tell me that well, if I were to argue from a perspective of pure reason, then my views on creation and other church's teachings certainly have merit. For the record, they don't believe in the creation myth.

Their attitude however, is that it all comes as part of a package. Even if there are things in there which might not sit perfectly well with reasoned thinking, they would accept it. The fruits are, after all, good.

So that made me begin to wonder, might there not be a better way? Could the Church not transform itself into something else, shed its old trappings, and continue to promote and foster its good teachings?

Ok enough about my parents, and how their views have shaped mine. Let's talk about my experiences.

I live in Malaysia. Four religions. Buddhism/Taoism, Islam, Hinduism, various Christian groups, of which the RC Church is largest. I'll talk about these four and how they interact later.

I schooled in Singapore on scholarship, so I was living apart from my parents from 13 onwards. In that time, I was in a Catholic hostel, attending a Christian Brothers' School. I was admonished for questioning my faith. Even for asking why - after all, you're not supposed to even ask.

Then I ran into a bunch of friends who took me to two different Christian "churches". All young people like myself (mid-to-late teens), some 20s, with the pastor in his 30s. And here I was listening to the pastors preach, and I was surprised by how much the youngsters were lapping it all in, without question. I thought to myself, ugh, this is even worse than the RC.

That ended my little experiments (twice) with other Christian groups. Of course, being brought up in the RC church, I didn't switch religions.

But I have a pretty good understanding of other faiths. First of all, like I told you, my parents are converts. I'm Chinese. My entire extended family (well, they are slowly converting to Christianity) are Buddhists / Taoists. I've read, since and experienced my fair share of Buddhism, although I do not pretend to truly understand it. I do know however that Buddhism teaches you to lead a good life, as does every other major world religion (well technically Buddhism isn't a religion, just a way of life). Ditto with Hinduism, although their pantheon of Gods is even more diverse than Taoism.

Then there is Islam. Malaysia is officially an Islamic country, although only about 50% is Muslim (as to why and how I get this numbers, I'll explain in another post, if necessary - plus it's a digression).

There are more-secular Muslims and the not-so-secular Muslims:P The not-so-secular Muslims (PAS) control two states in the Federation and the circumstances for the other religions and races there have been quite difficult. They have restrictions on what they can do, how they can celebrate (tiny), they cannot rear "unclean" animals (pigs), you can't drink at all, no nightclubs etc etc.

And they preach religious intolerance, the usual "jihad" stuff you read about all the time. And I assure you, there really are such crazies, though thank god they are a minority.

And I'm generally well-read as far as history is concerned, so I do know the various atrocities that have been committed in the past in the name of religion. I also know that religion was not always merely a religious role, but a strongly political one. And where politics and power get mixed with religion, religion becomes tainted. It begets corruption, scandal etc. Some of you probably know the sordid stories better than I do. Happy to discuss them with you later if you want to.

Uhhhh, I've gotten sidetracked I think. The point here is that I'm not secular, nor am I anti-religion.

I just don't believe in everything the major religions teach. Extremism, dogma etc. I honestly believe that using the tools of reason we can distill what is good from each religion and use them for better purposes.

I simply think that if we removed all sorts of superstition, dogma, extremism, exclusionary clauses from religion and simply distilled the true essence of religion, which is to lead good lives (being very general here), the world might end up a better place.

Maybe if we stopped accepting everything on blind faith, and simply thinking about things before accepting them, filtering what is superstitious, divisive or illogical from those teachings, we could come up with something purer, and then no longer be held back by religious baggage that prevents man from achieving true enlightenment and happiness today.

Maybe. You tell me.

[ Parent ]
I agree with you (4.00 / 1) (#50)
by theboz on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 09:06:22 AM EST

But I was still curious of how you came to your conclusion. From the article I got the impression of an "all or nothing" attitude in some sections so that is why I was questioning your religious experiences.

And, I definitely agree that if we took the superstition and mythology out we could have something much better. However, I don't think the general populace is willing to think for themselves. The majority of people desire to be lead. They would rather believe in something they are told by those they percieve to be more intelligent than them. This wouldn't change if we had a darwinian religion. In fact, I wonder how long it would be before someone started to think Charles Darwin was inspired by God, and then he turned out to be a saint or something, and people start to make up things to suit their political gains and attribute it to Darwin. The problem with religion is not completely to blame on the greedy and power hungry that abuse it, but the common practitioners who do not question their leaders or try to understand their religion. They need to search for the truth, and if their religion is wrong, that is only one thing that is wrong and they can change their beliefs. Besides, it was probably something tacked on to the religion by someone trying to further their own political or financial gain.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Heh heh. (3.33 / 3) (#64)
by pb on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 10:34:17 AM EST

I like that quote: "They say that you can judge whether something is the work of God or the Devil by its fruits."

I've never been religious, and I've argued with the local Christians about it all from time to time, but the one thing that always bugs me the most is their insistence on their religion being the only good thing, ever.

Basically, it doesn't matter what you do in this life, unless you're Christian; non-Christians are condemned to eternal torment. Ha ha ha ha ha. If I believed in a good (and for that matter a bad) afterlife, I'd be getting there on my own merits, thankyouverymuch. And I certainly wouldn't worship a God that condemned good people to eternal suffering every day, and I wouldn't want that on my conscience, either.

But that quote from your parents is not only tolerant, but would also make the Baptists around here scratch their heads for a while. For I would be an Atheist, doing good in the world, and therefore somehow of God; I could prove myself through my works alone. I guess that's why God created Atheists, right? :)
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

The author of that quote is John Paul II himself (none / 0) (#68)
by tlloh on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 10:58:21 AM EST

He said that about the supposed appearances of the Virgin Mary at Medjugorye in Yugoslavia. After many many years, the RC Church gave its blessing for pilgrims to go there, since it (the RC Church) was now convinced that they were not apparitions from the Devil instead.

As for your point of others being condemned to hell for not being a Christian, I agree with you. This silly "I am the way, and the only way" stuff is something I've always railed about - I cannot bring myself to believe that someone who does good in this world will be condemned to burn in eternity just because he belongs to a different faith, or not at all ... (and who says it has to be all fire and brimstone anyway, maybe it's simply being exposed to excessive flatulence ... ewwwww).

And heh, isn't it unatheistic to believe that God created you for the purpose of not believing in him?:)

[ Parent ]
Yeah, well.... ;) (3.00 / 2) (#86)
by pb on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 01:55:11 PM EST

Saying things like "I guess that's why God created Atheists" always makes people think twice about things. I'm not technically an Atheist, because I try to stay open-minded about things, no matter how silly they seem.

Basically, if God ever manifests himself to me, then he can exist. If he exists, but doesn't care about me enough to ever show up, then he can not exist. But it's his choice. :)

Also, thanks for the proper quote attribution; that's very cool. I wish the Christians around here knew their heritage a little better--maybe then, they wouldn't be so insufferable.
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
Thank you (3.50 / 2) (#34)
by GreenCrackBaby on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 01:26:34 AM EST

Thank you so much for posting this! I would have myself long ago, but I just couldn't put my thoughts to words as well as yourself.

Considering the fact that my father was a minister with a masters of theology, I still find it surprising that both my sister and I turned into hard-core athiests. I think, as was pointed out, that many people would gravitate away from religion if they were freed from all religious hooks (family, church, friends, etc). I began to question religion and god, and came to the realization that god is just a convenient answer for many questions that don't have answers. I realize that many people cannot go through their lives with the realization that there may be nothing for them once they die, and their existence here is purely random. For myself, I do not need some notion of god or heaven to deal with that. For those that do, obviously the notion of god helps them, and there's little harm in it.

But as an "outsider" to religion, I've had the chance to observe some of its more sinister aspects. From the ten commandments (worshiping of false idols), the notion of hell, and the (not-so) subtle brainwashing, religion really tries to manipulate its followers. For someone who isn't a full believer telling them that they won't get into heaven, or that they are going to eternal hell, is often all it takes to convert them.

Many religions, such as mormon, use active brainwashing to keep their members. I have recently watched my friend go through a divorce from his mormon wife because of her religion -- because she was going to leave the church but the mormon priest took her aside and told her she would be damning herself to eternal hell, her parents told her the same, and church members phoned to tell her the same. It was horrible to watch; you could see her wear down week after week until it was finally too much.

Anyway, as I've said I don't have the best way with words. If you are at all sceptical, I would suggest a perfect book on the subject. However, I forgot the name and author!!!. The book was written in the 1600's or the 1700's and essentially challenges the church and describes various tactics used by the church to keep and enlist members (it's been on banned book lists since). I stumbled across it online once, and forgot to bookmark the site. If anyone reading knows what I'm talking about please post the info!!!

Religion and manipulation (4.00 / 1) (#35)
by tlloh on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 02:11:32 AM EST

Yes, many religions manipulate - it is after all, a human institution with instincts for self-preservation. The tragedy lies in people not knowing that they are being manipulated. You would think a faith would prefer members who believed in what they are taught, as opposed to those who were afraid because of what they were taught.

The greatest example of religious manipulation I think must be the caste system in India.

There, labourers belong to the lowest class, "the untouchables", and they cannot marry above their class. They are labourers, menial workers etc who will never rise above their station. And the greatest beauty of this system is that they will never want to rise above their station, because to do so would be to renounce their beliefs.

You will find that by and large (as in 90%) of the successful Indians in the world today are either from the higher castes or have converted to Islam. All the successful Indian merchants I know are Muslim.

It was a beautiful system created by the highest caste - the brahmins, to control and keep subservient the masses. Whoever it was who thought it up, I must take off my hat to him - it was a feat worthy (actually, worthier) of Niccolo Machiavelli (actually he was not really an evil man, but popular history likes to paint him so ...).

Anyway, I don't think there exists a more overt example of religious manipulation.

[ Parent ]
delusins and religion (3.50 / 4) (#36)
by Nyarlathotep on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 02:19:57 AM EST

I must admit that I really do not like the idea of religion, but it may be that too many people need to feal like there is a purpose from outside themselves. This is the real question which must be answered.

*If* we can find significant evidence that people "need" some sort of "belief" then I would whole heartedly support "religion engenering" which would attempt to convert the majority to newer religions which are more scientifically, ethecally, and morally sound then the current stuff people believe.

Example: you might try to convince everyone that there is no life after death, but that a significant portion of your personality can be communicated to other people. This would mean that you can achieve immortality by doing a good (lasting) job at importent work like raising your kids, writing novels, writing free software, fighting court caces for the ACLU/EFF, etc. This would sorta be a meme based darwinism as religion. Note: this would have it's draw backs too since we would be innundated by John Katz's tring to make their mark on the world, so I would really prefer to see everyone be rational, but that may not be possible

BTW> An interesting fact from psychology is that mildly depressed people actually have an acurate self image. The rest of us think that we are much cooler then we really are. If people need some delusions to function then large numbers of people may "need" the specific delusion that is religion, so religion engenering is likely to be right choice.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
Religion engineering (3.50 / 2) (#93)
by Tatarigami on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 05:05:23 PM EST

A few months back I read with interest an article on www.wired.com which suggests that human brains are hardwired for religious belief, and there may actually be a piece of the your wetware a neurologist can point to and say "That's the seat of belief".

The prevalence of religion makes it hard to dispute that people are searching for spirituality -- heck, a hardcore atheist has a passionate faith in the absence of God as much as a Christian does in his existance.

As for engineered religion -- scientology, anyone?

:o)

I may be out on a limb here, but I also have my suspicions about Gardnerian Wicca, and any other religions based on texts that just mysteriously turn up when the time is right.

[ Parent ]
engenered religion (5.00 / 1) (#95)
by Nyarlathotep on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 06:34:44 PM EST

<i>As for engineered religion -- scientology, anyone?</i>

This is exactly the problem: the people we have who would want that kind of power over people are people like Hubbard, David Koresh, and the founder of the mormon religion, i.e. not the kind of people who you would want to have that kind of power.

The one really hopeful sign I have seen is that there is a sect of priests in the Anglican church who do not believe in god. They just want to help people in various psychological ways. You need people like these running an engenered religion.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
Definitions and Ramblings from a Seeker (4.14 / 7) (#37)
by discoflamingo13 on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 03:21:52 AM EST

Some definitions (because I think they're useful in a discussion like this): religion , philosophy, and faith .

IMHO, religion is the structure(s) of faith - part of religion is philosophy, but not all. Many religions can also be philosophies- I practice Zen and Taoism as philosophies, but Christianity is my religion. Faith concerns all matters that cannot be attacked by reason(logic)- and there are quite a few. Regardless of what people would like to believe reason is capable of, there are many things that it will never answer as a tool of thought. Depending on which school (i.e. axiom) of epistemology you follow, there are a lot of questions (but not all of them) that we can answer, or hardly enough. Those who see no limits on reason's ability to answer questions turn it into a religion- and this is not necessarily a bad thing. It is only right for one to answer these questions in their own way.

Now, the purpose behind every human endeavor is, 99% of the time, because the people involved are trying to do something right (or good). To explain something, to help someone, to help themselves, it doesn't matter. Most of society is structured as such. Religion exists because it has been (and to me, still is) a good idea (whatever that is). It gives structure, answers question, unites knowledge, creates cultural cohesion, and enlightens tradition and history with meaning and structure. The reason these ideas exist is because they have good memes. Memetics is the answer for a great deal of your questions, but most people have never heard of it, or brush it off as another kind of religion. Personally, I think it is an invaluable theory for discovering why an idea won't go away, or has persisted for so long in spite of the truth (whatever that is) behind an idea.

Power corrupts- it always has, and it always will. Religion was not usually created to harness the power of the masses. (i.e.- Islam was founded as the truth of the final prophet of Allah, Ba'hai as the truth of the most recent prophet in a long succession of prophets, etc.) In some cases, religions were (re)created in response to the political (and moral) corruption by the body politic and the "church," often for a lack of faith or reason (Protestantism, and the Society of Friends [i.e. the Quakers]; also, Satanism (or Laveyan ethics) is an interesting case)

People often don't understand the reality that their beliefs have chained them to- these are, AFAIK, the fundamental problems of memetics, postmodernism, and cultural relativism.

OTOH, I could be wrong. But even if I am, how would you know?



The more I watch, the more I learn ---
If you set yourself on fire, the world will pay to watch you burn.
--- Course of Empire

two points (4.00 / 4) (#38)
by streetlawyer on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 03:33:14 AM EST

First, that very few religious people actually follow with anything approaching "blind unquestioning faith". Talk to any randomly selected Catholic on the subject of contraception, for example, and you'll most likely find an extremely well-thought out, subtle view, even from otherwise unsophisticated people. The more literary class of religious believers have written all manner of books about the nature of belief -- try Matthew Arnold, for example. So I think that your accusation is without parallel in real life.

Second, whatever else is true, I think we can agree that Einstein was not "in opposition to quantum theory", and that he made a couple of major contributions to the theory just to prove it. What he believed was a) that the quantum theory of Bohr and Heisenberg could not be brought into a unified theory with general relativity (it still can't), and that b) the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory was wrong in so far as it included irreducible randomness. Einstein was actually quite open-minded on this last point, however; particularly when his closed-box gedankenexperiment was shown to be invalid. The phrase "God does not play dice" should not be taken as indicative of any dogmatic position.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever

Science as religion? Then it's not science. (3.33 / 3) (#39)
by pwhysall on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 03:49:26 AM EST

Some evolutionists treat science as religion, and fall into the same trap. Their minds are equally closed to possibilities of other kinds. One can be so blind to one's faith in a particular rule or law of science that one cannot accept the coexistence or truth of another.
Then they are not real scientists.

A real scientist will always accept a theory, as long is it is presented with appropriate evidence, which can be properly verified and proven to demonstrate the theory.

Evidence and proof are the two things that separate science and religion. (Oh, and hats. Scientists don't get to wear so many hats.)
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown

Show me a real scientist (5.00 / 2) (#43)
by leviathan on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 06:30:45 AM EST

In a perfect world you could just throw enough evidence at a scientist, any real scientist, and they'd accept what you say. But it's patently obvious that in the real world, this isn't what happens.

In the real world you get arguments between scientists convinced by different causes. Aha, you say, all but one of these factions must not be real scientists, either that or they are not in full posession of the facts (which would surely make them bad scientists). Find out the truth and make sure they never claim to be 'scientists' again!

I hardly need mention that this isn't what happens, and it is in fact a good thing that these arguments between opposing views happen (rather like they do here). Scientists pick a camp (something like a temporary theology) and stick to it even past the point where the objective rationalist would say that they are on balance of probabilities wrong.

You would hope that we've put things like the Monkey Trial behind us, that real scientists would dismiss this creationist 'mumbo jumbo', but a real scientist today is perfectly entitled to make up his own mumbo jumbo on similar historical or statistical evidence.

You're right about the hats, though. More's the pity, but that's probably a personal thing...

--
I wish everyone was peaceful. Then I could take over the planet with a butter knife.
- Dogbert
[ Parent ]

Think you misread my comment (none / 0) (#59)
by tlloh on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 10:20:47 AM EST

I meant to say that certain evolutionists (or [insert suitable name here]) are hardcore atheists.

The point I want to make here is that as "open" as they might claim their minds to be, they have already effectively shut their minds to ideas of a different sort ...

[ Parent ]
I'm a hardcore atheist. (none / 0) (#79)
by pwhysall on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 12:13:45 PM EST

In order to convince me that there's a god, you'll have to produce evidence. Good evidence. Really, really good evidence.

I will not start believing that there is a god just because you tell me so. That's not being closed-minded, that's being scientific.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Oh no, not *this* topic:( (none / 0) (#80)
by tlloh on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 12:30:46 PM EST

Logically, I'd have to agree with you. There is no proof that there does exist a higher power, whether you call it God, spirit or otherwise.

But does the lack of existence in a God (or higher power etc) automatically presume that everything about religion is wrong? Whether there does exist a God or not, I cannot deny that many a good work has been done in the name of religion, and might not have been done if not for it. (Yes, there's the flip example of the bad things done in the name of religion ... but I'm using the baby in the bathwater example)

If you are hardcore to the point that you automatically close your mind to the idea of religion (I personally know a friend who does) then that person is no better than a hardcore creationist, in this particular aspect.

Not saying you're like that, just clarifying what I meant.

[ Parent ]
this is beyond the realm of logic (4.00 / 1) (#90)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 03:11:33 PM EST

Logically, I'd have to agree with you. There is no proof that there does exist a higher power, whether you call it God, spirit or otherwise.

You misuse logic. As stated in another thread, logic is simply a tool to draw out what already exists within one's premises. If one subscribes to premises that include an implicit belief in God, then logic will draw out the conclusion that God exists. OTOH, if one subscribes to premises that include an implicit belief that God does not exist, then logic will draw out the conclusion that God does not exist.

I think what you mean to say is that there is no objective, empiricical, undisputed evidence of the existence of God. Perhaps, perhaps not. Empiricism in itself makes truth-claims presupposed many things about the nature of the universe, so it is difficult to not end up question-begging the non-existence of God when looking at empiriacal evidence.

Also given the apparent veracity of psychological theories such as cognitive dissonance, I think that there is something to the notion that we see reality as we choose to. Therefore, someone who believe that God does not exist will see much evidence to back up his or her belief and someone who believes that God exists will see much evidence to back up his or her belief.



[ Parent ]
not just prove a theory correct... (none / 0) (#109)
by StackyMcRacky on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 12:44:36 PM EST

but "true scientisits" have to prove other theories to be incorrect.

otherwise known as "the scientific method"

[ Parent ]
How science works -- a simplified description. (4.00 / 5) (#48)
by i on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 08:18:56 AM EST

Sorry about beating a dead horse, but it seems that not everybody knows this.

Put your lab coat on. Take a theory. Ponder it for a while. Is it internally consistent, or does it contradict itself here and there? Is it as simple as possible, or is there a simpler but equivalent theory out there?

Suppose you can find neither an inconsistency nor a simpler theory. Good.

Take a description of some previously conducted experiment. What the theory predicts about its outcome? Does the prediction match the actual outcome? If not, label the theory "wrong". Repeat as necessary.

Now think up some new experiment, one that's different from what was conducted before. What the theory predicts about its outcome? Conduct the experiment carefully. Does the outcome match the prediction? If not, label the theory "wrong". Repeat as necessary.

If, after many experiments, you didn't label the theory "wrong", you may tentatively label it "good enough for today". But note that others may think up a new experiment which will label it "wrong". Also, others may find that a theory previously labelled "wrong" actually does not deserve this label. For instance, they can discover a flaw in an experiment. That is, experiment that was actually conducted was different from what you thought was conducted.

Now you can pass a theory labelled "good enough for today" to the outside world, to be used for practical inventions and the like.

Congratulations! Your working day is over. Put your lab coat off. Go to a movie, or to the <politically-correct> your preferred place of worship, remembering that others may freely go to other kinds of places of worship, or refrain from going to such places altogether </politically-correct>.

Please note that personal beliefs, or distinction between good and evil, or morality, or justice, or even "truth" (whatever that means -- you never ever label a theory "true") do not play any role whatsoever throughout the process.

Trying to base a religion upon science is like trying to base a religion upon quality control department, because science is the quality control department -- or maybe just a quality control department -- for theories.

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

very shaky foundation (3.50 / 6) (#49)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 08:51:47 AM EST

A man who blindly follows religion without question is a man who cannot think for himself.

This presupposition begs many important questions.

  1. The presupposition assumes that an individual can not rationally choose to blindly follow a relgion.
  2. The presuppostion assumes that in order for an individual to be capable of cognition, he or she must rationally evaluate of of his or her beliefs.
  3. The presupposition also implicitly assumes that rationality is superior to all other possible basises for belief.

All of three of the above points are disputable. For the conclusion to be sound, all three of the above questions should be addressed. It seems to me that the hardest of these to prove is the last. Rationality is quite overrated. It has its time and place, but in a situation such as the human condition where we don't know much more than we know, rationality leads to many, many dead ends.



No, my only presupposition is ... (none / 0) (#57)
by tlloh on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 10:10:24 AM EST

... that rationality is superior to irrationality. I am not anti-religion, just anti-particular irrational practices of religion.

[ Parent ]
Your statements declare otherwise (none / 0) (#61)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 10:25:28 AM EST

No, my only presupposition is that rationality is superior to irrationality.

All three of the presuppositions I have listed are present in your statement which I quoted. Your correction of my assertion is a simply a restatement of the third disputable presupposition ("The presupposition also implicitly assumes that rationality is superior to all other possible basises for belief") which I maintain is present in your statement

I am not anti-religion, just anti-particular irrational practices of religion.

I never alleged that you were anti-religion. I simply pointed out the rather obvious fact that your entire thesis is built on presuppositions that are disputable. In order for your thesis to have any merit, you must first develop a cogent argument that rationality is in fact superior to that which is not rational. Then you need to demonstrate that an individual can not rationally choose to have blind faith. And as a side issue, you must also demonstrate that thinking for one's self is entirely contingent on rationality.

You've set the cart in front of the horse. First show me that rationality is superior to other manners of thinking, then you can show me where rationality will lead me if I choose to follow.



[ Parent ]
A rebuttal (none / 0) (#66)
by tlloh on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 10:48:13 AM EST

I don't agree with your conceptualisations of my arguments:

1. The presupposition assumes that an individual can not rationally choose to blindly follow a relgion.

Where have I said this? I have only said that one should not accept something without first thinking. Someone who has made a rational decision to blindly follow a religion has already thought about it. I'm talking about those people who don't even think at all! So I really think this presupposition you're ascribing to me has no merit ...

2. The presuppostion assumes that in order for an individual to be capable of cognition, he or she must rationally evaluate of of his or her beliefs.

I don't know where I ever implied this ... I simply say that one must rationally evaluate one's beliefs. Where does that "if you don't rationally evaluate your beliefs, you are incapable of cognition" part come in?

I'm saying you should learn to think critically for yourself, not let others do the thinking for you. Some people like to be led because they are too lazy to think, or were not taught to think (critically). You're saying that I'm arguing that people who don't evaluate their religions are not capable of thinking (cognition) at all, and that's simply not true! I believe everyone is capable of cognition, I merely question those who choose not to exercise it.

So ummmm, I'm beginning to wonder, are you just making these points in order just to look smart or am I so totally stupid as to not understand simple logic at all?

Anyway, 3. The presupposition also implicitly assumes that rationality is superior to all other possible basises for belief.

Now I don't even understand the logic of your statement ... why does everyone think that rationality is a form of belief? Why does everyone automatically assume (and that's your presupposition and fallacy in your statement for you) that rationality and religion cannot coexist?

Rationality is a thought process. A set of beliefs, a personal creed, a code of ethics is not. A thought process can perhaps codify or expound or expand on that set of beliefs, but at its core the belief in right or wrong is intrinsic to all of us - one might be able to rationalise and create legislation or codify what is criminal or evil, but whatever the case, all those rationalisations proceed from something given - a belief, or some assumed, intrinsic knowledge that certainly cannot be rationalised. So ummm, I think your last point seems to be at a tangent ...

And fine, let's assume that at the end of all this I'm really stupid and my arguments do not hold water because of fallacies in my presuppositions, supposing they exist. But can't this accusation be levelled against any argument against religion?

In which case, how then should I construct my case? I turn to you for guidance.

[ Parent ]
how the presuppositions are inherent (4.00 / 1) (#73)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 11:41:12 AM EST

I don't agree with your conceptualisations of my arguments:

1. The presupposition assumes that an individual can not rationally choose to blindly follow a religion.

Where have I said this?

As stated in my original post, the statement "A man who blindly follows religion without question is a man who cannot think for himself" contains within it the presupposition that an individual can not rationally choose to blindly follow a religion. If I am correct in interpretting "cannot think think for himself" as "is not rational," then this statement does indeed contain this presupposition.

Someone who has made a rational decision to blindly follow a religion has already thought about it.

The context of your article seems to me to indicate that what you intended by the "cannot think for himself" statement was that a person who does not ponder the basis for his or her faith is following blindly. The mistake is that this overlooks the nature of faith. It is not always necessary for someone to investigate the philosophical/epistemological/ethical underpinnings of a religion in order to rationally decide to follow that religion. As an example, take a child raised by someone who has never taught their child something that is factually wrong in any area. If the child's experience has taught the child that the parent is correct in science, psychology, etc., is it not rational for the child to blindly accept what the parent teaches about religion? It seems to me that in such a case, the child would need some sort of reason before it would be rational to investigate his or her faith.

2. The presuppostion assumes that in order for an individual to be capable of cognition, he or she must rationally evaluate of of his or her beliefs.

I don't know where I ever implied this ... I simply say that one must rationally evaluate one's beliefs. Where does that "if you don't rationally evaluate your beliefs, you are incapable of cognition" part come in?

As stated in my original post, the statement "A man who blindly follows religion without question is a man who cannot think for himself" implies the presupposition "for an individual to be capable of cognition, he or she must rationally evaluate of his or her beliefs." When blind acceptance is set up as the opposite of rationality, cognition is being defined as rationality. This view denigrates cognition that is not the result of rationality. Instinct, emotions, hormones, raw experience and other impetuses to cognition are left out of the equation.

Anyway, 3. The presupposition also implicitly assumes that rationality is superior to all other possible basises for belief.

Now I don't even understand the logic of your statement ... why does everyone think that rationality is a form of belief? Why does everyone automatically assume (and that's your presupposition and fallacy in your statement for you) that rationality and religion cannot coexist?

I think that you have misconstrued my assertion. I state that you presume rationality as a basis for belief. I never state that you presume rationality as a form of belief. I also never state contend that rationality and religion can not co-exist. My argument is that (1) one of the implied presuppositions of your statement is that religion is only beneficial as far as it is built on rationality and (2) such a presupposition is disputable.

Rationality is a thought process. A set of beliefs, a personal creed, a code of ethics is not. A thought process can perhaps codify or expound or expand on that set of beliefs, but at its core the belief in right or wrong is intrinsic to all of us - one might be able to rationalise and create legislation or codify what is criminal or evil, but whatever the case, all those rationalisations proceed from something given - a belief, or some assumed, intrinsic knowledge that certainly cannot be rationalised. So ummm, I think your last point seems to be at a tangent ...

My point is that there are basises other than rationality from which one can build systems of beliefs. This is not a tangent. If my point is correct, it disproves your thesis, that religion needs to have a rational basis.

And fine, let's assume that at the end of all this I'm really stupid and my arguments do not hold water because of fallacies in my presuppositions, supposing they exist. But can't this accusation be levelled against any argument against religion?

I never alleged that you were stupid, only that you seem to be unaware that you are building an argument on premises that are not shared by everyone in your audience. If one desires to build a cogent and rational argument, one must begin with premises that are not in dispute. If one begins with premises that are in dispute, then one's conclusion will also be in dispute. Such is the magic of logic, conclusions rest on the validity of their premises.

In which case, how then should I construct my case?

Most philosophers, logicians, mathematicians, lawyers, and theologians construct their cases by demonstrating the veracity of their premises. Once such is demonstrated, then all that needs to be done is to show how one's conclusion follows from one's premises. You have demonstrated this second part, but you have negelected the first part.



[ Parent ]
Hmmm, I think we're not understanding each other . (none / 0) (#77)
by tlloh on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 12:11:01 PM EST

I admit I'm out of my depth here since I am not a student of logic, nor of philosophy. And I didn't mean to imply that you thought I was stupid, I was seriously feeling quite lost as I wasn't understanding you ...

I see what you're saying about point 1, especially with the child example, where the child has no reason at that stage to belief that his parent's teachings are wrong, and thus up to that point, a child's unquestioning belief in what her parents teach her is rational.

If I then amended my statement to say, "A person who has the mental faculty or the requisite experience to be able to distinguish irrational practice of religion and yet chooses to do so is someone who chooses not to think for himself".

It sounds all lawyerese though, and seems pretty difficult to understand, especially in the context of promoting discussion.

2. I still disagree with you on point no 2.

I never used the word cognition at all in my spiel. In fact, I agree with your definition of cognition. It includes the some total of human feeling, emotion, experience, everything that makes us human. However, I was limiting my comments to critical thinking ... so I'm not making any presuppositions of cognition at all ...

3. "My argument is that (1) one of the implied presuppositions of your statement is that religion is only beneficial as far as it is built on rationality and (2) such a presupposition is disputable.

Hmmm, a more accurate description would be (1) one of the implied presuppositions of my statement is that religion is more beneficial insofar as it is not built on irrationality and (2) if you think this is disputable, could you please demonstrate why you think so.

I think my responses elsewhere pretty much back up that (1) is a more accurate representation and thus you have misconstrued my position.

Of course, if your point is that this wasn't clear in my original spiel and is open to misinterpretation, then I agree. Darn submission could have done with a couple of more edits. Still, I did think it promoted interesting discussion, which was the my goal in any case.

But I take your points on board, and I'll see what I can do to be clearer in my future submissions. Thank you.

P.S. You got a good book on logical reasoning you can recommend? (I don't mind dry stuff, but not a textbook preferably)

[ Parent ]
concluding remarks (none / 0) (#89)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 02:58:48 PM EST

I think we're not understanding each other

This is quite a common phenomena. The name most typically used to describe it is "talking past each other."

I admit I'm out of my depth here since I am not a student of logic, nor of philosophy.

Nor am I. I am, however, a compulsive reader and just as likely to tear through a volume on epistemology as a biography of Rasputin.

And I didn't mean to imply that you thought I was stupid, I was seriously feeling quite lost as I wasn't understanding you . . .

I realize that. Mostly, I wanted you to understand that I was not summarily dismissing your ideas and that I was not baiting you.

I see what you're saying about point 1, especially with the child example, where the child has no reason at that stage to belief that his parent's teachings are wrong, and thus up to that point, a child's unquestioning belief in what her parents teach her is rational.

Why the qualification, up to a point? If as an adult, the child of a parent only undergoes experiences that confirm the belief that the parent was infallible why would there be any rational basis for the child to not blindly follow the parent's teachings on religion?

If I then amended my statement to say, "A person who has the mental faculty or the requisite experience to be able to distinguish irrational practice of religion and yet chooses to do so is someone who chooses not to think for himself".

The amended statement suffers the same problem. It presupposes that one's view must be investigated to be rational. I would dispute this.

It sounds all lawyerese though, and seems pretty difficult to understand, especially in the context of promoting discussion.

Welcome to the world of rational inquiry. Such is the nature of reality and the vaguity of the English language.

2. I still disagree with you on point no 2.

Conceded. It is quite likely I was reading too much into your words.

3. "My argument is that (1) one of the implied presuppositions of your statement is that religion is only beneficial as far as it is built on rationality and (2) such a presupposition is disputable.
Hmmm, a more accurate description would be (1) one of the implied presuppositions of my statement is that religion is more beneficial insofar as it is not built on irrationality and (2) if you think this is disputable, could you please demonstrate why you think so.

Your restatement of (1) is simply a milder version of my reading of statement (1). Is still suffers the same problem of presupposing that rationality is superior to that which is irrational. As to demonstrating why I would dispute the superiority of rationality, such is easily done. (1) Imagine a marriage decided on solely on rational reasons without taking into consideration emotions and psychology. (2) Philosophy built entirely on rationality leads to nihilism along the lines of Sartre's Naseau. (3) I would contend that the mind/body dualism introduced by the idea of "rationality" is a an ill-fated view. The human condition is not one of pure mind, nor one of pure body. The human condition is that of mind and body working together. As such, the human condition needs both rationality and irrationality. To say that one is superior to the other is ignore the very nature of humanity.

P.S. You got a good book on logical reasoning you can recommend? (I don't mind dry stuff, but not a textbook preferably)

I've never really studied logic. I just get into many debates with people that have. IMHO, you only really need to understand two things about logic.

  1. Conclusions simply contain ideas inherent to the premises.

    If you and your debating foe can not come to agreement on the premises to the debate, you might as well call the dialogue off. As mentioned before disputed premises lead to disputed conclusions.

  2. A is equal to A. A is not equal to what is not-A.

    All of logic is contained within the Aristotlean law of non-contradiction. Debates with a Zen Buddhists, post-modernists and others who deny the law of non-contradiction are pointless excercises.

Consider reading Mortimer Adler's How to Speak, How to Listen. It contains some excellent suggestions on serious dialogue.



[ Parent ]
The superiority of rationality (none / 0) (#97)
by tlloh on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 07:12:18 PM EST

Ok, you say it's a presupposition, but I thought it was more of an axiom.

"As to demonstrating why I would dispute the superiority of rationality, such is easily done. (1) Imagine a marriage decided on solely on rational reasons without taking into consideration emotions and psychology."

It's funny you say that when I completely agree with this:

"(3) I would contend that the mind/body dualism introduced by the idea of "rationality" is a an ill-fated view. The human condition is not one of pure mind, nor one of pure body. The human condition is that of mind and body working together. As such, the human condition needs both rationality and irrationality. To say that one is superior to the other is ignore the very nature of humanity."

I completely agree. As such, a rational decision will take into account the sum total of emotion, psychology, happiness etc - before committing oneself to marriage. A rational commitment to marriage is one that has considered all the above factors.

I see the superiority of rationality (to irrationality) as a given truth which cannot be proved, and your example actually serves to reinforce it actually ...

As for the rest of your comments, with regards to point 1 - thank you. You make a good point about how an adult, without having been exposed to something that contradicts his beliefs, could continue to be equally blind. Yes, you're very right about my having that presupposition - I have been drawing from my life experience where the initial premise has always been to question. Thank you for pointing this out.

Well then, as far as the religious extremists go ... perhaps then what they need is to be exposed to other forms of thinking so that they can reassess their faith in the light of their increased understanding, and perhaps the synthesis will make them the stronger (and better for it). Having said that, I realise then that I'm not being original, men and women who possess far greater understanding than I have been saying this for at least a century.

Ah well, at least I learnt something, even if no one else did:)

Thanks again.

[ Parent ]
+1 Sectional, but... (3.16 / 6) (#51)
by ignatiusst on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 09:17:21 AM EST

I voted this +1 Sectional, but only because it looked like it might spark some interesting comments. Had I been voting my personal bias, I would have dumped this story with, as Epopt puts it (below), "extreme prejudice."

This kind of commentary on religion really pisses me off. The writer mixes a little Marx

So what is religion but a tool to organise the masses? A tool to serve one's own political purposes - power, glory, greed - as various leaders of all the major religions have demonstrated many times in history? Where does the fiction of divine truth, wisdom and power end?
and a little new-age spiritualism
Stripped of all its superstition, what would such a religion be? A worship and celebration of what it is that makes us human - to embrace it is to be human. Could such expounded conscience not only coexist with secular science, but be the guiding principle that together with science leads man to fulfil his greatest potential?
without really understanding either, and then has the nerve to insult those readers with religious conviction while immersed to his/her neck in irony
... is a man who cannot think for himself. By accepting dogma without question,


When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift

I disagree (5.00 / 2) (#53)
by seb on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 09:41:05 AM EST

While I think the implication that most people of faith can't think for themselves may be slightly offensive, I also think most religious people would disagree with you that the 'dogma' statement is in itself wrong. Find me a priest who has never questioned their religion and I will find you a really nice ergonomic keyboard. Jesus went through several stages of questioning his faith himself (up to his very last words). I'm an atheist so may be talking out of my backside but I think that the Christians I know would say that questioning the foundations of their faith is important and usually only makes their faith stronger. So the
... is a man who cannot think for himself. By accepting dogma without question
bit of this story is perfectly valid, I think.

[ Parent ]
I'm not sure what exactly you're unhappy about? (4.00 / 1) (#55)
by tlloh on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 09:58:49 AM EST

The lack of truth in what I write, or my supposed lack of understanding?

If you disagree with my statements, would you care to state why. The rest of those who've disagreed with me have at least explained their POVs. I've only got a demonstration of displeasure from you ...

If it is my supposed lack of understanding you are unhappy with, please enlighten me. I am unsure what exactly it is I am supposed to understand. Either my statements have merit, or they don't?

And I'm not sure what irony you are referring to - I'm not telling anyone to discard their faith - I'm not anti-religion - I'm simply saying that if it's faith you're interested in, at least think about it before swallowing it whole ...

(I don't expect you nor anyone else to have followed the entire discussion before responding but please read my replies elsewhere as I'm beginning to worry that I might start sounding redundant:( )

Thank you for your comments.

[ Parent ]
What I am unhappy about (none / 0) (#92)
by ignatiusst on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 03:55:30 PM EST

I had assumed that I had stated why I disagree with your statements, but to recount (and expand upon) my earlier post, here it is again:

Throughout your article, you attack religious conviction by referring to someone's beliefs as "Chains that...warped their thinking..." or as "A tool to serve one's own political purposes - power, glory, greed...". Such criticism is, when not supported by evidence, suspect. And when supported by main-stream hollywood morality (your Matrix reference), by half-understood philosophy (The Marxist idea that religion is, as you put it, "a tool to organise the masses"), or by spritualism-cum-humanism -

Stripped of all its superstition, what would such a religion be? A worship and celebration of what it is that makes us human - to embrace it is to be human. Could such expounded conscience not only coexist with secular science, but be the guiding principle that together with science leads man to fulfil his greatest potential?
- well, then it is down-right offensive

The irony, such that it is, is that you are attacking people on the basis of their "accepting dogma without question, without fully coming to terms with what it means to hold a particular doctrine as a central tenet of one's personal life is to freely and willingly shackle yourself to a way of life", but you are doing so by calling on ideas whose entire meaning you cannot possibly fully understand (ie: Marx and humanism)-- And as an aside, let me suggest that if you do understand either Marxism or humanism fully enough to be wielding it as a sword against theology, then not only do I owe you an apology, but I would also suggest you are wasting your time on us plebes.

Attacks on people of faith for their faith are always unjustified. You ask, "Can we not distill what is good from [religion]?" So I will ask, "What is bad about it that needs to be distilled out?" I'll warrant that it is nothing that was not put in there by the human being that holds such high regard in your article and that you seem to put so much hope in.

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

Attacks on faith (none / 0) (#96)
by tlloh on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 06:46:48 PM EST

I'm not attacking people for faith, I'm attacking people for blind faith. I simply feel that in this day and age one should at least attempt to wield the tool of reason before willingly, and blindly accepting an entire package of beliefs.

If you find that offensive, well, ok - there really isn't much I can do about that. If for example, you could give me some debatable reason on why that's wrong, then we could talk about it. But here I'm simply offended you and there really isn't much I can do (no sarcasm, just realisation on my part). You have a full right to voice your displeasure and you have spoken.

As for Marx and Humanism, I believe I have more than a passing knowledge of Marx, having studied Soviet history from the revolution until that fateful Christmas Day when Gorbachev resigned. I have also similarly studied Maoism straight through to the end of the Deng era. What I find interesting about this all is that I wasn't trying to bring Marxism into the picture when I was writing the article - I was thinking more along the lines of the Hindu caste system and the Church's temporal power before the Renaissance. But subconsciously yes, it did seem that Marx crept in didn't it? Regardless, it doesn't detract from what I've said. Based on my experiences, and my understanding of the lessons of history, I believe that comment stands.

As for Humanism, I fully admit to knowing very little about it, and I suppose my naivete shows. I wasn't aware that there might be similarities in stance until it was brought to my attention in this forum. Still, I feel that my stand on this subject is sufficiently distinguished from Humanism to be subjected to scrutiny on its own merits.

You have spoken, and regardless of any differences in viewpoints, I thank you for your feedback.

[ Parent ]
The Tragic Sense of Life (4.45 / 11) (#54)
by acestus on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 09:54:48 AM EST

Since someone actually nudged me to comment, I suppose I must lay down my recent silence on k5 and say something.

I got my college degrees at Boston University, and one of them was in Philosophy. Of all the philosophers I read, the one who has most affected the way I think about religion (I think) is Miguel de Unamuno. Unamuno was a Spaniard who wrote in the early 20th Century, often in poems and novels. Though he is quite well-known in Spain and many Spanish-speaking countries, he remains fairly obscure in the U.S., and only two or three of his works are currently available in print in english.

His masterpiece is Tragic Sense of Life. Speaking of philosophers ranging from Plato to Descartes, he says that they speak well of men 'of the mind.' Fabricated men which we know only through imagination, like the perfect circle. Soy un hombre de carne y heuso! he protests! "I am a man of flesh and bone!"

Unamuno protests that religion is being killed by reason. Though he was excommunicated, he advocated for the Catholic Church, not because of their dogma, but because they preached the necessity of faith. "Faith," he wrote, "is life. Faith is contra-rational, and reason is anti-vital."

Religions can be expounded, deconstructed, analyzed and synthesized. In the end, though, religions are not developed by the application of rational principles to conceived models of reality or irreality. Religions are revealed. They are born of our world of flesh and bone. They are brought to us by people who have found things in moments of satori. There will never be an Orange Catholic Bible, developed by the Orange Catholic Bible Consortium, written from scratch. Religions move us because they are contra-rational. They introduce us to modes of truth that we can know without our assimilating them.

I will not be a secular humanist. Reason is anti-vital.

Acestus
This is not an exit.

I agree (4.00 / 1) (#56)
by tlloh on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 10:06:45 AM EST

Faith and religion has its place in this world. It does bring us a sense of mystery, and I think, more importantly, fulfillment in ways secular society cannot. My experience with religion is that good things come from religion, not just bad, and I would not like those good things to go away, whether it be in the name of science or progress. It's just all the other chaff, the baggage of centuries that perhaps we could do away with.

I'm looking more towards a renewal of faith of sorts, a vigorous shaking to remove all outmoded practices, and for us (at least for those of us who wish to) to continue the practice of religion in its purer(?), distilled form.

I cannot comment on Humanism, since I confess to be unfamiliar with that concept.

[ Parent ]
Shaking the Tree (4.50 / 2) (#62)
by acestus on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 10:28:05 AM EST

I'm looking more towards a renewal of faith of sorts, a vigorous shaking to remove all outmoded practices, and for us (at least for those of us who wish to) to continue the practice of religion in its purer(?), distilled form.
Good luck!

All sarcasm aside, I think this is a pipe dream. Jesus was (according to some interpretations) sick of the methods of Jewish practise and worship. Buddha though Hinduism was a little outmoded. Dogen thought that Theravada was tainted.

I'm really glad you used the words "purer form." In religious studies, there's a concept called "declension." The basic idea is that religions start out good and spoil. "Boy, those early Christians really had something until Pope Linus ruined everything." // "Gosh, if we had just stuck to Greater Vehicle Buddhism, the world would be a different place." // "Gee, I loved Scientology before all those celebrities got involved."

As my tone may suggest, I don't necessarily buy into that theory. Ideas don't get corrupted because they're old. they get corrupted because people are fallible. Jesus says to Peter, "Upon this rock I found my church," and Peter goes off to tell Thecla, "Upon this rock he founded his chuch. Purplemonkeydishwasher." Someone less selfless than Peter might do this intentionally. And so on, right from the start. Outside of the prophets and religious founders themselves, declension is everpresent, but so is ascension.

We can't go back to earlier versions of the religion. There is no CVS on truth, sadly. We have to continue to move forward, understanding the world that we encounter, while still forging our souls in the traditions of our ancestors. Jesus' (or at least Paul's) attempts to obsolete the Levitical laws was marginally successful, at best, and it's taken two thousand years for even that level of success. Without intending any offense, I will suggest that none of us here is a Paul or Jesus.

Acestus
This is not an exit.
[ Parent ]

It's precisely because we need to move forward ... (4.00 / 1) (#69)
by tlloh on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 11:08:35 AM EST

... that we need to vigourously shake that tree!

Personally, I think this is a great paragraph:

We can't go back to earlier versions of the religion. There is no CVS on truth, sadly. We have to continue to move forward, understanding the world that we encounter, while still forging our souls in the traditions of our ancestors. Jesus' (or at least Paul's) attempts to obsolete the Levitical laws was marginally successful, at best, and it's taken two thousand years for even that level of success. Without intending any offense, I will suggest that none of us here is a Paul or Jesus.

We can't go back. But we can leave the past behind and move forward as our understanding of the world continues to improve. It is exactly this that I advocate (although perhaps I'm not doing a great job of it sigh).

I doubt anyone here pretends to be Jesus or Gautama either (Paul was one of those fallible people you talk about so I'd prefer not to use him as an example ...). But the idea is at least worth some discussion, don't you think?:)

[ Parent ]
Contiguity (5.00 / 1) (#74)
by acestus on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 11:55:04 AM EST

It's precisely because we need to move forward ...
... that we need to vigourously shake that tree!
We can't go back. But we can leave the past behind...
I don't think we can leave the past behind. I think that, in the end, we are not moving forward, but outward. Starting with basic assumptions, we iteratively apply them to more phenomena, moving through conceptual and hermeneutic circles. In the end, the only forward movement we're making is through time. Ideas are rarely abandoned, but are rather refined and reshaped to conform with the experiences we have had both personally and culturally with the world.

I don't think we've learned anything ontologically new since the days of Jesus, Mohammed, Guatama, and even David. Rather, we've had new experiences which help us assess old experiences. We haven't learned that democracy is superior to monarchy, or that the starts are masses of incandescent gasses. We have made observations that suggest these things to us, and in light of these experiences, we have reassessed previous beliefs. I don't think we're casting off the past at all. Everything we understand now we understand through the past and because of the past, not in spite of the past.

It is always worth our while to continue to experience our world and consider our entire lives' knowledge in light of our experiences. To discount the experiences and considerations of the past, however, is foolish.

I will admit, of course, that there are those who believe that some things are meant to be accepted blindly, and this type of belief can be just as foolish. The distinction which must be made, you see, is one of whether one can accept their truths blindly. If, acknowledging the experiences of those around one's self, one can still belief without question that God is Good, then so be it. If one is capable of belief beyond reason, this may be a strength. If, however, one forces one's self to believe when one no longer has the capacity for credence, things are bad.

Faith is vital and contra-rational, but it is faith. Forcing one's self to constantly attempt to believe the incredible is self-punishment, and is the last refuge of the slave (Nietzsche, Geneology). When one cannot believe and cannot disbelieve, cannot punish and cannot be punished, one must punish one's self. Obviously, this is no better than giving up on the inexplicable.

Acestus
This is not an exit.
[ Parent ]

Can't go back to earlier versions of a religion? (1.00 / 1) (#84)
by marlowe on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 12:48:32 PM EST

But there is a CVS. There are scriptural texts. There are historical accounts. And if all else fails, there's archaeology. The past can be reconstructed, at least to a point.

I'm not saying this will or won't accomplish anything. but it most certainly is an option, at least with the major religions of literate peoples.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
A visit to Salamanca (3.50 / 2) (#65)
by slaytanic killer on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 10:35:32 AM EST

Speaking of Spanish philosophers, I've had the pleasure of recently visiting Salamanca, Spain. There are many stories to the university; one was about a professor who was tortured during the Inquisition for five years, for holding heretical ideas. When he finally returned to his lectern, he looked at the class and said, "Now, as for where we left off..." There seem to be some things more enduring than faith. He was perhaps more brave than any Catholic alive, since he did not have such easy faith to strengthen him during his torment.

Is faith the rationale for why christian monks skin women alive with clamshells, and why the Pope aided Hitler in exchange for German federal tax money (which is still on the books and I've once had to consciously avoid paying)?

God gave you a brain. Jokes abound of the man of faith who turns down all help during a flood because of a belief that god will save him... and when he appears in front of god and asks why he wasn't saved for his faith, he is told, "Well, I sent all that help to you..."

I'm sure reason must be tempered with faith, but the converse is also true: Reason kills no faith that didn't need killing.

[ Parent ]
Critique of Diluting Reason (5.00 / 1) (#76)
by acestus on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 12:05:34 PM EST

There seem to be some things more enduring than faith. He was perhaps more brave than any Catholic alive, since he did not have such easy faith to strengthen him during his torment.
I certainly didn't mean to imply that Catholic faith was the only faith of any merit (in the sense of the so-called vital nature of faith.)

Is faith the rationale for why christian monks skin women alive with clamshells, and why the Pope aided Hitler in exchange for German federal tax money (which is still on the books and I've once had to consciously avoid paying)?
Well, yes, I suppose so. Obviously (?), it is not their motive. The monks likely did what they did out of hatred or mass psychosis. As for the pontiff, I imagine that he was willing to make concessions with the Church's temporal integrity, that it might continue to exist and continue to provide integrity of a more etherial sort. As to his decision in the matter, I will make no comment.

As for tempering reason with faith, I must dissent. Reason and faith must not be used to temper one another. They are separate faculties which can, perhaps, work each one to understand the other and to jointly guide the individual's will. As for their direct and conscious tempering of each other, I am uneasy. It is too simple to say, "I will not take refuge in the Buddha, because there is no rational refuge which the Buddha can offer me."

If we must discuss their cooperation, I would say that reason is the preprocessor for the faithful mind. It decyphers much of the input with which we are deluged and hands off its results to our volitional mind which, in the best of cases, works on faith.

Acestus
This is not an exit.
[ Parent ]

Dilutions only exist with rigid definitions (none / 0) (#85)
by slaytanic killer on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 01:40:30 PM EST

I feel like I'm back in college, studying mysticism. My words on this subject are utterly pointless, since I am not in a position to do anything about them; I perhaps just wanted to see a Christian (from reading your earlier comments) dismiss horrible acts of faith as "hatred or mass psychosis." Any little explanation will suffice for one who loves faith. It is not the explanation that matters (since explanation is not the point of faith); it is merely reassuring noise.

After all, I mentioned how a person of reason was tormented by men of faith; and you only say that I am mentioning a Catholic-specific example.

Can I talk in words to you? No; you say that reason is the preprocessor for the faithful mind. So I can only assume it's a filter so that you may focus on the reality you wish for.

So, I wish you well, and hopefully my life will not suffer for my ambiguous and undefined relationship with faith.

[ Parent ]
Futility, Faith, and Filtering (none / 0) (#88)
by acestus on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 02:57:00 PM EST

I perhaps just wanted to see a Christian (from reading your earlier comments) dismiss horrible acts of faith as "hatred or mass psychosis."
I was about to reply that I wasn't dismissing acts of faith as hatred or mass psychosis, as the atrocities in question weren't acts of faith to begin with. But, I suppose, you are correct. There's an interesting account from the 4th Century (IIRC) of a similar event. The Bishop of Majorca, Severus, led his people from one side of the island (the Christian side) to the other (the Jewish side) and essentially smiled as his flock commited acts of terrorism designed to force the conversion of the Jews. The interesting point here is that our historical evidence is the encyclical letter which Severus wrote after the fact, casting the entire event as a glorious triumph and a miracle.

I won't get into the details, but it's an interesting read. The point here is that Severus did something that we can probably all agree was Bad. Further, while I am still tempted to say that he did it out of spite, or at least seriously skewed values, those are assessments made external to the question of faith. Certainly, it's true: he went along with this tide of destruction because he felt justified by his belief in a transcendantly greater 'good' that would come of it.

Faith can lead people to do things that we consider horrible. Despite this, I still feel that I have to call faith -- of whatever sort -- good. Without faith, there is no meaning. (I feel obliged to make a witty reference to Don Quixote, or Contact, but nothing witty comes to mind.) I suppose you're right, though. "Mass psychosis" is at best unrelated to the issue of faith, and at worst (and more likely) a cop-out.

After all, I mentioned how a person of reason was tormented by men of faith; and you only say that I am mentioning a Catholic-specific example.
I think that here you may have misread me. I mean by my remark that I didn't want you to have the impression that my laudation of 'faith' in general was actually directed solely towards Catholicism. Yes, the torturers involved were clearly doing something Awful in the name of the Roman Catholic Church, and the victim suffer through it because of the courage of his convictions. I would probably go so far as to call that faith in his convictions. Of course, without specifics it's hard to state much. Suffice it to say that I did not mean to sound as if I was shifting the blame from the Church to all religions, but rather that I didn't want to seem to be espousing the R.C. Church over any other religion.
Can I talk in words to you? No; you say that reason is the preprocessor for the faithful mind. So I can only assume it's a filter so that you may focus on the reality you wish for.
I would, actually, agree with some of that statement, though I would replace "with for" with "believe in." We are humans, though, and share enough common experience and language (though the two are strongly related) for our exchange to still have meaning. As to whether you will ever Grok In Fullness what I am saying, or whether I will ever reciprocate the Grokking, who can say? I leave that question to the Germans.

Acestus
This is not an exit.
[ Parent ]
On meaning (none / 0) (#113)
by Xenophon Fenderson, the Carbon(d)ated on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 02:41:44 PM EST

Why must everything "mean something"? I think that some times stuff just happens for no reason at all. Is that bad? Faith is great and all, but superstition comes from imbuing an essentially meaningless event (e.g. a black cat crossing one's path) with a meaning that doesn't necessarily correlate with anything. How can one balance faith so as to not become superstitious?



--
Rev. Dr. Xenophon Fenderson, the Carbon(d)ated, KSC, mhm21x16, and the Patron Saint of All Things Plastic fnord
I'm proud of my Northern Tibetian heritage!
[ Parent ]
Superstition (none / 0) (#136)
by acestus on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 07:14:28 AM EST

I don't know if I'd say that it's bad to think that stuff happens for no reason, but I'd probably disagree. I'd say, instead, that things happen for incomprehensible or imperceptible reasons, or reasons that at incomprehensible at present. In the end, though, this isn't about seeing meaning in the way your milk mixes into your tea. It's about seeing meaning in Life, The Universe, and Everything, in general.

Acestus
This is not an exit.
[ Parent ]
re: faith is life (none / 0) (#133)
by Rainy on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 09:31:32 AM EST

That depends on how you define faith. If you say faith is assuming that you will be alive tomorrow, while reason says you may not be, faith is life. If you say faith is belief in pink unicorn who gives you 20 commandments, or Yahweh who gives you 12, then you will have to prove that (and I doubt you will be able to). I think, *doubt* is life. Questioning is life. IOW from your short description, I don't like this guy. He sounds too vague to be useful. Anybody can stand in a pose and fire away vague aphorisms like 'faith is life'. Of course he may actually give some proof in his works.. but this statement by itself is bull.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
Limiting ourselves to our beliefs (3.66 / 3) (#63)
by botono9 on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 10:29:43 AM EST

It is diffictult to say if religion will continue or not. From my perspecitve it would be better if it died. I don't have a problem with spirituality or a belief in a god, but organized religions perpetuate group-think and mental slavery. But is it even possible to get rid of such large groups? More groups would surely form in their absence as we are social creatures and seek out people who think like us almost automatically.

I know one thing though: The differences between a fundamentalist Christian and an athiest are negligible. It requires the same amount of thought to reject a concept outright as it does to accept one outright.

"Guns are real. Blue uniforms are real. Cops are social fiction."
--Robert Anton Wilson

Minor correction (none / 0) (#127)
by interiot on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 08:17:56 PM EST

Surely you meant to also add an adjective in front of "atheist"? (I'm having a brainfart, or I'd suggest one almost as good as yours)
Just as there are some Christians who don't knee-jerk, there exist a handful of atheists who typically think before they speak.

[ Parent ]
dogma is the death of intelligence (none / 0) (#139)
by botono9 on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 06:55:00 PM EST

Just as there are some Christians who don't knee-jerk, there exist a handful of atheists who typically think before they speak.
Possibly, but I'm coming from the perspective that an atheist, by definition, believes there is no god. So when they think before they speak, do they think that there might be a god? Or do they automatically think "there is no god"? I realize it is impossible to know someone's thoughts, but by accepting the label of atheist you are basically stating that you have decided there is no god. Otherwhise, you might call yourself an agnostic, and say "god.. hmm.. I'm still thinking about that one." Atheists seem to have stopped thinking about the whole god thing, except when they decide to trounce on some fundamentalist Christian dogma (ideas that go against their atheist dogma). If someone says they are waiting for proof of a god, then agnostic is definitly the label for them. :)


"Guns are real. Blue uniforms are real. Cops are social fiction."
--Robert Anton Wilson
[ Parent ]

My beliefs (3.00 / 3) (#67)
by tayknight on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 10:55:04 AM EST

First off, I'm a Christian. Without getting too preachy (I don't think this is the forum, although I'm always willing to talk), I believe God works in all of our lives. I also believe what he tells us in the Bible. I aslo believe that He tells us what we can understand. 4000 years ago, people wouldn't have understood evolution, or the Big Bang, but I still believe they happened, and I believe God made them happen.
I believe that God set up a framework for nature, and has since guided nature into what we see today. I think each of the evolutions that the earth has undergone have been the direct result of God's intervention. Guided evolution. Mostly random, just like Darwin says, fittest survive, etc. But every once in a while God pokes the gene pool to help.
Don't yell at me, just discussing here.
Pair up in threes - Yogi Berra
Buddhism (3.33 / 3) (#72)
by SIGFPE on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 11:41:05 AM EST

Reading modern writings on Buddhism I can find little incompatibility between that religion and a modern scientific outlook on the world. I remember reading an interview with a buddhist monk a while back where he was asked whether an AI could have a soul. He had no objection whatsoever. Buddhism seems very prepared to adapt to the modern world and seems not to be burdened by dogma. During the Salman Rushdie fatwa the main Buddhist group in the UK said they they welcomed people satirising their religion. There was nothing wrong with questioning your beliefs and they had nothing to be afraid of. Of course what I am describing here is modern 'intellectual' Buddhism. It's quite different from the everyday Buddhism practised by millions of people around the world.

Having said all this in favour of Buddhism one might ask why I'm not a Buddhist. It has nothing to do with a belief that it is 'false' but simply a lifestyle choice. I don't want to spend my day in meditation!
SIGFPE

[OT] satirizing Buddhism (none / 0) (#75)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 11:55:13 AM EST

One of my favorite Zen Buddhist koans:

Q: If you are walking down the road and you see the Buddha walking on the same road in the other direction, what do you do?
A: Kill him.



[ Parent ]
Actually... (none / 0) (#123)
by sec on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 06:20:11 PM EST

it's not as off-topic as you might think. :)

[ Parent ]
Taoism (none / 0) (#78)
by ucblockhead on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 12:12:37 PM EST

Taoism is also completely compatible with the modern scientific outlook. The reason is taht neither Taoism nor Buddhism have a concious creator god, and neither really concern themselves much with the creation of the universe.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
And of course... (none / 0) (#81)
by SIGFPE on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 12:34:33 PM EST

...the synthesis of Taoism and Buddhism is also compatible - and that is Zen. In fact Zen has many things that are more than just compatible with a modern outlook but seem to preempt it. For example the Zen view of consciousness seems to be very different from the highly dualistic view (wih a body/soul split) that is encouraged by many branches of Christianity.
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]
If you spend your day meditating... (none / 0) (#124)
by sec on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 06:24:32 PM EST

Having said all this in favour of Buddhism one might ask why I'm not a Buddhist. It has nothing to do with a belief that it is 'false' but simply a lifestyle choice. I don't want to spend my day in meditation!

If you spend your day meditating, you haven't just become a Buddhist, you've become a Buddhist monk. You don't have to be a monk to be Buddhist, no more than you have to be a monk to be a Christian.

[ Parent ]

Secular Humanists of the world, unite! (3.66 / 3) (#82)
by marlowe on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 12:35:30 PM EST

You have nothing to lose but your chains! You have a world to win!

Seriously, though. This is a slightly interesting blend of Marx, Ayn Rand, Hugo Gernsback and Shirley MacLaine. But it can get old fast. All propaganda looks the same after a while.

Anyway, it's very slightly better than some of the trolls that have come this way. But just for a change, I'd prefer something that doesn't exemplify emotionalistic irrationality at the same time as it decries it.


-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
Ok, then... (4.33 / 9) (#91)
by pw201 on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 03:40:07 PM EST

Ho hum, looks as if this will get posted as it stands. So:

Many people who follow a religion today do so not out of clear choice, but because they were born into those chains. Chains that have so warped their thinking that they can no longer see value in man's intrinsic ability to reason, to question the world around him, values that have brought man to where it is today.

Couldn't the same be said for most people who don't follow a religion? Basically, what you're saying is that uneducated people don't tend to think very much. If their surroundings are religious, they'll be unthinkingly religious. If their surroundings are atheistic, they'll be unthinkingly atheistic.

In any case, for those who do think, even if they come from religious surroundings, there are stages in their development. Simply put, at some stage they have to decide whether they believe what they have been told. Your portrayal of this is a poor charicature.

I argue that man carries in him a sense of what is right and wrong. It may be shaped by religion, but he doesn't need religion to tell him whether something is right or wrong. After all, what is religion except clearly expounded musings of our collective human conscience?

You'll be interested to know that this collective sense of right and wrong is part of CS Lewis's argument for the existence of God (I'll reserve judgement on whether it's a good one: read Mere Christianity and decide for yourself). Yes, you can have a morality without religion, but if one sees goodness as grounded in God, a morality without him runs the risk of going wrong.

So what is religion but a tool to organise the masses? A tool to serve one's own political purposes - power, glory, greed - as various leaders of all the major religions have demonstrated many times in history? Where does the fiction of divine truth, wisdom and power end?

That depends whether you think religion contains any element of revelation from outside, or whether it's a purely human creation. If you think the former, then divine truth, wisdom and power aren't a fiction and they are the other things which religion is (and should be) about.

How many more times must religious teaching be shown to be wrong before man questions the value of everything that is set before him?

A man (or a woman) should always question the value of everything that is set before him.

Why do we inhibit ourselves, and limit man's potential? Why do we not strip away the veils clouding our eyes and soar to a more forward-looking society, where each of us is free to fulfil his own potential?

Why do you think that religion always involves inhibiting ourselves and not soaring? Little quiz: who said "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full"?

Can we not distill what is good from it, the expounded rules of our collective human conscience, just as modern science was distilled from the mystical, modern chemistry from alchemical transmutation, and modern astronomy from ancient astrology?

That depends what you think are the good bits. Since you say:

Stripped of all its superstition, what would such a religion be? A worship and celebration of what it is that makes us human - to embrace it is to be human. Could such expounded conscience not only coexist with secular science, but be the guiding principle that together with science leads man to fulfil his greatest potential?

I assume that you do think that religion is a purely human creation. In that case, to strip the supernatural away would leave us with nothing worth having. If there's nothing from outside in religion, preaching and faith are useless.

But of course religion does already coexist with science, in that the idea that the universe was created by a rational Creator led some religious people to look for the rules, and in that today there are scientists who are religious.

Is religion doomed to die an irrelevant death? Nope. It'll probably change though. Just like here, really.

What religion has become (4.00 / 2) (#104)
by slakhead on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 11:44:17 PM EST

Although it would be silly of me to try and make a better reply than acestus' response, I will just lay out a few ideas that occur to me.

Is there still a role for religion in this world? Should there be one? Is it doomed to die an irrelevant death? Or can an institution of collective human conscience evolve, just like the rest?
Religion is a creation of man to give us strength. We get strength from faith in things we cannot understand and yet we know they exist. Sometimes it feels better to believe without knowing. It seems bloodyminded but I think you will agree there is a certain security in just believing. The modern scientific world has brought along with its amazing discoveries, just as an amazing amount of cynicism that quickly sours the average man to faith. After all, why have faith when you have Bernoulli's equation? Why have faith when you can prove that you won't be killed by the flu with medical science? But at the same time, this era of computers, the internet, and the general electronic saturation of our (thinking of America here) everyday lives gives us more of a reason to find some piece of mind.

My point is, I want to defend religion but I do not want to defend organized religions. As humans we need to have something fulfilled in our spiritual side just as much as we need to know the truth (i.e. how things really work). We have found ways to deal with this such as listening to/playing music, participation in sports, making love (as opposed to casual sex which, while at the time might seem like a religious experience, probably won't offer any longterm satisfaction), and any other number of activites that moves us on a level we can't comprehend.

Churches/organized religions are not evil by definition but they are forced to become a sort of government of belief because of the sheer number of people who participate. As such, they are forced to determine what it is everyone in their religion must believe and that sort of power obviously can corrupt and it leads to less religious freedom for the common man.

When I think of organized religion, I think of Jiddah Krishnamurti's stance on thought which was to not come to any conclusions. Do not say "This is this way and there is now no need to question it." Those sorts of conclusions lead to close-minded people which is what religious followers are often thought of today.

I seem to have lost some of my steam but in conclusion: Religion has a place in humanity now and probably will continue to do so. Not in the traditional forms however, but in a personal form to which we can each relate.

Going full circle (4.00 / 1) (#107)
by Mashx on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 10:39:17 AM EST

From what I have read about many ancient civilisations, whether it is the Megalithic peoples of Western Europe, such as the Beaker people, the various civilisations of Latin America, such as the Mayans, or those of Mesopotamia, such as the Babylonians, the religion was born out of science, however basic or advanced it was at the time. The observation of the heavens and the seasons created festivals and those with the knowledge were those who became revered. All throughout history use of eclipses have made leaders 'gods' by using it to defeat or scare enemies.

So, I don't see any reason why a scientific 'religion' could not re-emerge, although it would hopefully not contain any need for human sacrifice. But as the human race has evolved a higher average intelligence, those with the knowledge are no longer those that are held in the highest esteem, unless of course they can convert it into good looks, multi-million album/cinema ticket sales, and a fat bank account. Whichever way, it's still a large group of people following a much smaller group of people, quite often 'blindly'.

Personally I think that the only way that man will fulfill his greatest potential is if everyone starts to think a bit more and follow a bit less, but hey, I'm not expecting anyone to follow me in that.
Woodside!

Religion based on ideas and experimentation (3.00 / 2) (#108)
by dj@ on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 12:35:21 PM EST

In science, people have beliefs, but that isn't necessarily bad. That does make it sorta like a religion, but that isn't necessarily bad either. What is bad is when people try to disparage beliefs that are unlike their own. Do you believe the earth revolves around the sun? I do. But I also believe the sun revolves around the earth when I watch it across the sky, and that the earth is flat when I'm standing on it. It really depends on your context and sphere of reference, as Einstein's relativity has allowed us to consider.

Speaking of Einstein, he said "Imagination is more important than knowledge", as well as "The most amazing thing is the universe as a feeling". I always considered him to be a very spiritual type, who had a very active imagination and had a profound sense of faith. He concocted the theory of relativity on a chalk board. You can't do that without having the patience and faith to carry out a theory within yourself to its fullest.

I have never minded religion or science by themselves, but when you attach either to politics and the pursuit of power and money, they both take a turn for the worse.

Real Truth in Relgion (4.50 / 2) (#110)
by LordHunter317 on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 01:33:59 PM EST

This is not to say that there is no longer a role for religion. Can religion not evolve at all, must it be doomed to die an irrelevant death? Or perhaps its longevity can be ascribed to the fact that there is perhaps some truth in religion?

Yes there is plenty of truth in religion. The problem is that all modern-day religions have obfuscated and covered the truth-up to achieve their goals. Christianity is a perfect example. Christianty until circa 330 A.D. was much different than what we know it as today. The changes happened when Roman Emperor Constaintine made christianity the offical religion of the Roman Empire. This is when all the chnages began to occur.

Regardless of who/what you believe in.. there is a single, universal truth out there. The problem is finding it, since everyone seems to be determined to use it for their own motives. I found it, and I must say I wouldn't trade it for anything.


Man cannot be wonderful. Man can only lift big rocks and grunt - Me to Ex-girlfriend

um, care to share?? (5.00 / 1) (#141)
by el_guapo on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 08:15:30 PM EST

"I found it, and I must say I wouldn't trade it for anything." - for those of us still bumbling around, care to lend a clue as to yours?
mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
[ Parent ]
Comments on Creationism (& Darwinism) (4.40 / 5) (#111)
by Mantrid on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 02:18:59 PM EST

First of all the disclaimer: I am a Christian and I do believe that the Universe was created. I speaking in regards to the Christian views of creationism and arguments against evolution.

Creationism, as a movement, is ridculous. It is attempting to read things from the Bible that just aren't there. The Bible is not a science book, it was not written to explain to us all of the inner workings of the Universe. If God had wanted to explain to us precisely how He created the universe, He would've included all of that information. Instead the Bible sticks to the basics; God created the Universe, the World, and finally Mankind.

It does not go into explicit detail. Did He mold it using evolutionary processes? Perhaps. Did He create it all at once then sort of begin time and allow it to flow? Perhaps. That information is not in the Bible, so it cannot be used one way or the other to make such arguments against science in general.

Actually the very fact that so little is can tell us something about Creationists: they are not looking in the right place! If God wanted us so focussed on the minutae of how the Universe came to be, do you not think that He would've given us more information? If you accept the basic premise that God created the Universe and us, are the details really relevant? Are they even worth discussing for someone that is basing their arguments on what is said in the Bible. Such things are interesting of course, there are tantilizing things in there, stories of the flood, of Nephilim, Ezekiel's sightings, but these things are not what we are supposed to be focussed on!

On the other hand, science doesn't have all the answers either. It's especially interesting to me, to read about what those that study things on the quantum level find. Things almost start to break down; how can the Universe function based on such seemingly bizzare rules? To me it suggests that there's more to it than what can be formulated and explained...

But in any case, my purpose was to argue against Creationism, from a Christian perspective. Stop making us look like idiots reading things into the Bible that aren't there and trying to force everything together with what science tells us. It's not going to work! You either belive that God created the universe, thus implying that you are accepting what the Bible says, or you reject it and believe only what is immediately observable (or adopt some other faith entirely). Science cannot disprove or prove God's existence; you are going to have to rely on faith at some point!

Science cannot proof or disprove God's existance. (none / 0) (#114)
by romanpoet on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 02:47:04 PM EST

Well.... sorta. Science most definitly cannot prove the validity of a particular religion, however I do believe you can use logic (a type of science -- it does follow rules) to make a pretty good argument for the intelligent design of the universe.

Take for example how well this universe works, it's all based on rules that just magically work together. Our own existance at this very moment, and even more so at creation is and was a very complex and intricate procedure, and if just a few things were out of sync with the rest of the enviroment you would end up with nothing. (Note that I'm mainly refering to the creation of life in this comment.)

Beyond even that, the author states himself that each person has a general idea of accepted base morals, where did these base morals from if not instilled by some greater entity?

So you argue a THING, a thing with intelligence did create us using purely earthly and logical methods. But not really much farther than that.
-Romanpoet Romanpoet.org
[ Parent ]
I agree we can argue... (none / 0) (#117)
by Mantrid on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 03:27:13 PM EST

I agree with you we can use our minds and observations and theorize and argue...i guess in the end we can't prove it one way or the other; though I suppose in many other cases we accept things that we can't really prove 100%.

Anyways, this is one of the more interesting topics that have been posted to K5 for awhile; though I can't prove that :P

[ Parent ]
Disproving God's existance (none / 0) (#118)
by spart on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 03:28:30 PM EST

This kind of "negative-onus" has become the most-used scape goat of religion / faith advocates. This is the same type of trite that is espoused by the relativists and subjectivists... What this ends up saying is this: "disprove the arbitrary - or it falls into the realm of the possible, and since rationality cannot process it, then faith must step in". Hah! Until their is some reason at to believe something then it does _not_ fall into the realm of the possible. If it did statements like the following would be valid: "I believe we are all monkeys from venus and are orbiting a cantalope in my soup bowl. Disprove me! But you can't _really_ disprove me. My faith tells me it's true, so it is a valid idea/thought and can now be integrated into my way of thinking / life." You could just arbitrarily bring all kinds of realities into existance because you have faith / will them to be. The onus is not on Science to Prove religion or faith wrong. It is on faith to prove it right. But since faith is the negation of rationality - how can it then prove anything (since any proof presupposes rationality).

[ Parent ]
Hmmm going to this extreme can work against you... (none / 0) (#120)
by Mantrid on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 04:47:19 PM EST

Prove your argument to be true then! Prove that the onus is on religion to prove itself true.

Yeah this stretches things a bit, but so does a lot of your argument. Final proof of a lot of things is basically impossible. You just have to view the evidence and make a decision on what you will believe when the conclusions seem reasonable.

I have observed nothing to say that "we are all monkeys from venus and are orbiting a cantalope in my soup bowl", actual everything that I understand' would prove that to be ridculous. I have on the other hand observed a universe of such order, and have seen such incredible things that my conclusion, based on these observations, that there is a greater power that brought all of this into being. I didn't pull this belief out of nowhere, neither can I prove it to be true. I don't have every piece of the puzzle, no one ever will. I am not insinuating that I create God by believing in Him, that's ridculous, He exists or doesn't exist completely apart from my belief.

Do you believe that we evolved from apes and apes from bacteria or something like that? Can you prove it? This has never been proven completely either. Can you prove that black holes exist? It is very likely that they do, but no one has proved this 100% yet.

I suppose this point of decision on what you will believe is faith. It just depends where you're going to draw that line. There are many things you will hold to be true that you won't be able to prove.

[ Parent ]
Difference between rational congnition and faith (none / 0) (#121)
by spart on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 05:07:03 PM EST

I have observed nothing to say that "we are all monkeys from venus and are orbiting a cantalope in my soup bowl", actual everything that I understand' would prove that to be ridculous. I have on the other hand observed a universe of such order, and have seen such incredible things that my conclusion, based on these observations, that there is a greater power that brought all of this into being
Exactly, my example (the monkeys) would contradict all other things that you hold to be true. So either a) everything you hold to be true is false or b) the "monkeys" example is false.

If you have properly integrated your thoughts, through a rigorous process of rational thought, as apposed to just "believing" (on faith) the arbitrary then you can dispmiss a) and are left only with b) as a conclusion.

On the other hand, when dealing with religion are you really convinced by things you have evidenced throughout your life that their is a God? The resounding answer is NO. You WANT their to be a God. So do I. The difference is that you bend reality so that it fits with your pre-conceived wishes! Does the fact that the universe is governed by laws necessitate that their is a God (ignoring all the other qualities you attribute to God - goodness, etc)? The problem is you assume the existance of God, and then strive to prove it. Instead of looking for truth, and excepting whatever consequences it holds!

[ Parent ]
Hmmm, not bad arguments at all, (none / 0) (#130)
by Mantrid on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 08:13:02 AM EST

One thing I do disagree with:

"On the other hand, when dealing with religion are you really convinced by things you have evidenced throughout your life that their is a God? The resounding answer is NO."

How can you say what I am convinced of? You don't know specifically what I have or haven't experienced or how I've interpreted it. I would not say that I'm bending reality - the existence of God makes sense to me...if I am wrong I have not bent reality; I am merely wrong.

Of course we have an obvious problem here; our basic world views are fundamentally different and we are arguing on points that cannot ultimately be proven one way or the other. It's good mental excercise to debate this matters though; it's also good to think about such things once and awhile and not just 'blindly accept them' as the original article discusses.

jya mata!

[ Parent ]
Here's a dawinian relgion :-) (5.00 / 4) (#112)
by DGolden on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 02:20:55 PM EST

The Church of Virus

They describe themselves as:
* a memetically engineered atheistic religion.
* a synthesis of religion and evolution.

Goal:

Virus was originally created to compete with the traditional (irrational) religions in the human ideosphere with the idea that it would introduce and propagate memes which would ensure the survival and evolution of our species. The main advantage conferred upon adherents is Virus provides a conceptual framework for leading a truly meaningful life and attaining immortality without resorting to mystical delusions.

Overview:

Virus is a collection of mutually-supporting ideas (a meme-complex) encompassing philosophy, science, technology, politics, and religion. The core ideas are based on evolution and memetics because one of the primary design goals was survivability through adaptation (religions die, not because they grow old, but because they become obsolete). If a new religion is designed around the premise of continuously integrating better (more accurate, more useful) concepts while ensuring the survival of its believers, it could conceivably achieve true immortality.

Much better than most religions, to my mind... :-))
Don't eat yellow snow
Faith as a means of Cognition (3.50 / 2) (#115)
by spart on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 03:18:34 PM EST

Everyone here who has evangelized Faith as a good and proper seems to believe that faith _is_ a means of cognition. If rationality fails, then faith is called upon to fill fill the void. It seems to me, though, that faith is non-thought. It is the negation of thought - of cognition. Faith means subjugating reality to your wims. Rationality is the attempt to bring reality into your realm of cognition. Many will tell you that if their is something in reality that lies outside your ability to integrate, then you should just _create_ a reality (ie. faith) based not on evidence, but on your _desire_ for it to be real. You can desire for a certain reality all you want, but unless it is the true - objective - existant - reality then it does not exist.

The Tyranny of Reason (3.33 / 3) (#116)
by kostya on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 03:19:38 PM EST

This has been said many times in many ways, with acestus' post being one of the more thorough treatments, but reason is just one facet of our existence.

I have described this to friends as "the tyranny of Reason" (although this may have been coined by someone much brighter than I). It is really only encountered by those with rather bright minds. When your mind can grasp and work through so much in the world, the unspoken assumption is that nothing lies beyond the ability of human reason. So much of what we could not understand before, we now know so much more about. Surely reason will uncover all that we set it to--given time.

I am not a Philosopher (IANAP), but this kind of reasoning is left over from a "Modern" mindset. That all can be known and explained. "Postmodernism" is a reaction to the modern worldview, and can best be described, I think, as a thorough whipping of a precocious child. Postmodernism, while viewed by many as very nihilistic, is simply a reaction/movement which tried to show how wrong Modernism is. That very little in fact can be "known"--especially when we talk about "knowing with certainty".

When people want to define the entire life by their emotions, we look at that as something out of balance. We call it one-sided. We even call it "irrational". However, when people want to define their entire life by "reason" or "rationality", we don't have as many perjoritive descriptions for it. We, in the "geek arena", often hold it up as the best way. But this too is one sided and ignores the reality of the human condition--we often act on wholly unrational motivations and react and choose based on non-rational things. We daily live by non-rationals such as emotions, hunches, leaps of blind intuition, etc. Despite this reality, we hold up total rationality as perfectly self-sufficient and preferrable. I think that kind of thinking forgets (or ignores) our own limits. Our reason is subject to a whole host of factors beyond just "facts", and to think that we can be "objective" seems misguided.

Is unquestioning faith a viable way to live? Depends what you mean by viable. I don't think anyone in this discussion would choose to live that way. But many do.

Is pure rationality a viable way to live? Depends what you mean by viable. There is also the question of whether that is even possible. There are many things we daily live and experience that go beyond reason and logic. To live in a way that denies these seems a bit misguided, if not impossible (i.e. it would be self-deception).

With that said, I'd like to point out that trying to construct a world view based solely on reason will encounter many, many problems--especially those voiced by Postmodernism. That such naive thinking (in that it ignores the limits of reason and epistomology) is constantly being posted to K5 and other similar forums seems to show that the Modern mindset is mostly intact in "geekdom". Meanwhile, the arts (such as literature and music) are quickly moving on beyond Postmodernism into the next phase. What will geekdom be like when it finally embraces the realities raised by postmodernism? It will be interesting.



----
Veritas otium parit. --Terence
What's the next phase, exactly? (none / 0) (#125)
by marlowe on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 06:33:53 PM EST

Postmodernism is one of those things whose only real value is as a (valid enough) critique of what came immediately before. Is this next phase we're entering going to be anything more than that? Does it have any discernible positive content yet?


-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
A very good question (none / 0) (#132)
by kostya on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 09:18:50 AM EST

To which I have no answer :-)

If I were to guess, I would say that the next phase will be a re-balancing. Postmodernism, as you mentioned, is mostly a reaction to modernism. While most periods are built on top of the other, postmodernism is definitely more about "not modernism" than anything else.

I'd expect it to be a blend of modernism and postmodernism. Modernism with some humility. Maybe something that is even kind of extentialist in nature, something that embraces the "non-rational" and tries to raise it up. Postmodernism definitely took rationalism and epistomology down some pegs. Hopefully the next phase will be seeking more balance.

But who knows? In twenty years, we'll know for sure ;-)



----
Veritas otium parit. --Terence
[ Parent ]
The worship of ignorance (3.75 / 4) (#122)
by pmk on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 05:45:00 PM EST

When epilepsy was poorly understood, it was attributed to evil spirits. When conception was poorly understood, it was attributed to divine intervention. When weather was poorly understood, it was attributed to the gods.

Religious memes flourish on ignorance. The less one understands, the more one can attribute to good or evil spirits. The more we know, the further back we push the boundaries of ignorance where the gods make their dwelling-places.

In the comments to this story, I've read assertions like "Science can't explain everything," and hence God must exist. The fallacy is obvious. Science is more than a corpus of knowledge; it is a methodology. It is a means of increasing understanding with confidence. It does not and will not answer all questions. This does not mean that one can then substitute God or Cthulhu as the explanation for the remainder. "Well, we don't know that" will continue to be a more honest answer than "God did it."

Religion will persist as long as there are weak and lazy-minded people who need a crutch to face life and death. I suspect that this will be a long time to come. In the meantime, religious memes will continue to protect themselves by promoting anti-intellectualism.



Morality without religion (2.50 / 2) (#128)
by Daemin on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 08:56:45 PM EST

The idea that religion has a strangle hold on morality is an old one, and a flawed one.

The idea that man has some sort of inate morale instinct is just as old, and just as flawed.

OK for the first one.

Lets go back about 2000 years to a conversation Socratese sappousedly had with a man named EUphratyes (dont quote me on that).

What the conversation boiled down to is this: Does god love things that are good; or are the things that god loves good beacuse he loves them?

If you take the first option, we can say that yes there is an immutable measure of "good" in the world, but at the price of god's omnipotence.

If you choose the second answer, then what is "good" is total arbitrary, and is soley up to the whim of god. i,e, he could decided that his followers go out and murder babies and that is good because he told them to do it.

So either there is "The Good" and even god is subject to it, or there is no "the good", its only what god tells us to do right now. Neither are very strong cases for religion being the fount of morality.

Man is NOT born with some idea of what is good, any more then he's born knowing how to speak japanese, or ride a bike, or lift a peice of food to its mouth. He IS born with an inante insticnt to avoid pain and seek pleasure, and from THAT morality is derived. Your parents say "do this, dont do that." You do "this" and get praise/pleasure. You do "that" and you get punished/hurt.

Good and evil are concepts that exist soley in the human mind, and are not part of objective reality. Add onto that pile "justice" and "rights." They are convient fictions nessacary for our socities to function

To move on to other topics

What do you mean by "religion"?

Here in the western world, its usualy associated with a belief in one or more god/beings/spirits/etc. But Budhisim (tao?) doesnt profess to believe in any gods, and yet is classified as a religion in many peoples mind.

Is Naxism(?) a religion? White Power? Corporate culture?

Calling science a religion is a misnomer as well as wrong. Its a crude attack on science by trying to taint it with its own criticisims of religion. The difference is science is not a set of beliefs. It is a process of examining reality in an objective way.


From http://www.m-w.com
Religion:
1 a : the state of a religious <a nun in her 20th year of religion> b (1) :
the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment
or devotion to religious faith or observance
2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes,
beliefs, and practices

As defined by #2 above...

No. I dont think religion is nessacary at all. In fact (and flame away) I think getting rid of organized religions would be the best thing we could do for ourselves. Frankly, theyve done more harm then good. Thats not to say ALL of them are bad, but though there are thousands of them, only 3 or 4 have enough adherents to be truly dangerous (Chistianity in all its flavors, Islam, Judaisim) and they also happen to be the most dangerous ones.

Religious inspired hated has caused more fighting and bloodshed in our (western) history then anything else, and continues to do so to this day. (Look at the old testament, the crusades, and all the way to the present day in the middle east).

Most religions encourage belief without thought, christianity in particular. It acknowledges that there is no evidence that god exists. This is the "leap of faith" requiered of true believers. To acknolowedged its irrationl but BELIEVE ANYWAY. As the lady who was kind enough to stop me for 10 minutes in order to "save my soul" and tell me the last days are coming, "you just gotta belive, and pray to god to save you."

Maybe if i "just belive" long enough that im a billionare it will magicaly come true!

This is bad. For all the bad rap "reason" and "logic" get, as far as i know no angel ever came down and revealed to us one scrap of the knowledge we have of the world.

Fantatisicim to ANYTHING scares me. People who claim exclusive access to THE TRUTH scare me even more. What scares me most of all is peoples ablity and willingness to belieive something irrational and illogical, in the face of over whelming evidence to the contrary.

The concept signified by "god" isnt very clearly defined, but again and again people have shown a willingness to fight to prove their version of it is right.

As the poster on my wall says, Beware Of God.

I thought that was Bertrand Russel? (none / 0) (#131)
by pw201 on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 08:48:46 AM EST

But anyway: So either there is "The Good" and even god is subject to it, or there is no "the good", its only what god tells us to do right now. Neither are very strong cases for religion being the fount of morality.

Howsabout there is The Good and God knows and possesses it perfectly? Here's Theologica Germanica on the subject:

And if you were to ask Love, "What lovest thou?" she would answer, "I love Goodness." "Wherefore?" "Because it is good, and for the sake of Goodness." So it is good and just and right to deem that if there were ought better than God, that must be loved better than God. And thus God loveth not Himself as Himself, but as Goodness. And if there were, and He knew, aught better than God, He would love that and not Himself. Thus the Self and the Me are wholly sundered from God, and belong to Him only in so far as they are necessary for Him to be a Person.


[ Parent ]
Religion as a framework for faith (4.66 / 3) (#129)
by flieghund on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:47:21 PM EST

This comment is an adaptation of a reply to a comment on a diary entry of mine; it has been reformatted to make it more relevant to the discussion at hand, and to better fit your computer monitor.

Back in the sixth grade (or so), I had an epiphany (which we should all know, thanks to the the IBM ad, is "a sudden awakening to the essential nature or meaning of things") regarding the world around me. As it turned out, I wasn't the first person to think of this -- Descartes' famous "Cogito, ergo sum" was an much earlier predecessor, and there have been others since who have expanded and refined the idea.

My personal version went like this: if you cannot directly and sensually observe something, you cannot prove it exists. For example, as I type this comment, I cannot prove my car exists, because I cannot see it; I cannot prove the apartment next to me is not filled with cream cheese, because I cannot see into it; and so forth, ad infinitum. The point of this theory, then, is that your continued belief (or not) in such things is an act of faith. But it goes much further than that: who hasn't had the sensation of something crawling up their leg, only to look down and see absolutely nothing? So even your senses can be fooled. That leaves your thoughts as the only thing you can be absolutely certain of; I think, therefore I am. Everything else is an assumption based in your faith in your understanding of reality.

As another example, anyone posting a comment here could be an advanced computer program (and there have been rumors that this is, in fact, the case ;-) -- yet even if I met you, you might not be the same person that posted the comment, because I didn't personally witness you posting said comment! But because I have faith in my own personal version of events, I can interact with the world around me.

This is where religion comes in. In my little reality, everyone has faith (except, perhaps, for the truly insane people who cannot cope even with their own existence). The external, social manifestations of that personal faith (your set of personal beliefs) defines your religion. Most people -- and this is not intended as a barb -- are either not comfortable with or not capable of fashioning their own religious "practices" and therefore use an already established religious framework.

It's kind of like choosing your political party: I don't think I have ever completely agreed with a Democratic Party candidate, but since I usually agree with a majority of the Democratic Party platform (as opposed to the GOP, Reform, Libertarian, etc. platforms), I am a registered Democrat. In reality, I belong to the same "party" as (almost) everyone else: my own!

The same goes with religions: when you find a particular religion that overlaps nicely with your personal beliefs, you make the decision to belong to that religion. You may not agree 100% with every doctrine the religion holds dear, but you agree with enough of them that no other religion would be a better choice.

Several times throughout history, a strong-faithed individual set out to define a new religion. To that person, the new religion was perfectly in-line with his or her own personal beliefs. Over time, those core doctrines resonated with enough other people (again, not necessarily 100% agreement, but closer than any other religion) that the new religion flourished.

My own beliefs: I am very faithful in the existence of a "western" God. I simply don't find any of the established western religions to be close enough to my core beliefs to be worthy of my religious affiliation, especially since they almost unilaterally declare the content of the Bible (or whatever their religious text is called) as nothing but the chip truth. (I think many Western religions miss the point that the Old Testament was a metaphor for events that the people of the time simply could not comprehend.) I am confident enough in my beliefs that I can create my own framework for my beliefs; most people are not. That is not a bad thing -- only a different attitude about their own reality.

Dear god that was long. I apologize to anyone who bothered to read it.


Using a Macintosh is like picking your nose: everyone likes to do it, but no one will admit to it.
too general a question for online forum (3.00 / 1) (#134)
by Rainy on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 09:42:59 AM EST

In my opinion, anyway. Ideally, religion got nothing to do with science. Religion is about truth. Science is about usefulness. If you disagree with this, consider that right now we don't have a theory of everything, but when we do, we simply have a theory that works, that can predict anything, but we have no way to test whether it's really true or it simply works. They had a theory in Medieval times that a spermatozoid contains a small human (homunculus) and theory predicted that to concieve a baby, woman must get a spermatozoid. As you can see, theory that predicts right results is not necessarily true, it's merely useful. You can theorize that theory that predicts everything must be true, but this viewpoint can never be proved.

Religion on the other hand deals with ultimate truth - it may say that there's an omnipotent being and that's the end of it. So, inherently, there's nothing in religion that conflicts with science. But historically, religions built a huge system of views with predictions that sometimes contradicted with science, which caused all the turmoil. I personally think that while Christianity and islam are untrue, buddhism might very well be true, and I realize that although I don't need a religion now, I may need it later. There may be a supreme being that is felt by some people and they distorted this feeling into all the multiple religions. Religion can be way useful in dealing with the fear of death.. although if we get rid of death, our need for religion will not be as strong.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day

Things that bother me about Religion (none / 0) (#137)
by PenguinWrangler on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 10:21:18 AM EST

Well, Christianity, anyway.
1. It occurs to me that many people out there calling themselves Christians are singularly failing to follow the teachings of Christ.
The first and foremost teaching of Christ being "Love thy neighbour as thyself". Now all those allegedly Christian hatemongers seem to have forgotten that one. "Love thy neighbour as thyself" - no exceptions - EVERYBODY. No matter who they are, no matter what they do, whatever. EVERYBODY. And that pisses me off. Some friends of mine are Christians, and they're OK, we can listen to loud music, play games, swear, drink beer and smoke dope. I think they're much better Christians than any of your evangelist scum.

2. Three out of four gospels (Or have I got this backwards and it's only one?) start off with a whole stream of begatting. The reason behind this is to link Jesus Christ up to the prophecy of Isaiah that the Messiah would be of the house of David.
But... Er... Hang on a moment!
I thought Jesus was the son of God? And not of the House Of David at all? Come on Gospel writers, get your story right. Either Jesus is the son of Joseph the carpenter of the house of David as per Isaiah's prophecy. Or the son of God and all this begatting stuff has nothing to do with it!
3. My main beef with all organised religion is that it all comes down to the same thing.

CONTROL

Religion is just a way in which some people (priests, rabbis, mullahs, etc) get to have power over other people.
"Do what we say or you'll burn in hell!" and the like.

I mean, come on, it's the twenty-first century, and yes, I know that's the Christian calendar, but it's the one most people use and after all the Y2K palaver would you really dare suggest we change it, and we're still that primitive?
"Information wants to be paid"
I'll bite.. (none / 0) (#138)
by Pablonius on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 06:06:41 PM EST

One (Luke perhaps?) of those Gospel accounts lists both Joseph's lineage and Mary's lineage (both of whom are direct descendants of David - one from one woman - the other from another) so the prophesy of the Messiah coming from the House of David still holds.

[ Parent ]
Think about this (none / 0) (#140)
by burton on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 01:03:15 PM EST

I could go on forever responding to the points in this article, debate the issues addressed item by item, tie in and justify my own atheistic stance, double space arial 12 it, hand it in for an english class and get an A, but thats going too far...

I am content with the man who is content with his religion, however, I am not content with the man who is not content with mine.

People are allowed to think for themselves, even if that leads them to trust in others or a doctrine of a higher power. I do not see what people believe in as a hindrance to their potential. I see overanalyzing the situation and involving oneself in the crusade as a waste of potential :)

"The point is Jesus was a good person, would it hurt to try and be like him?" is pretty much what my mother said to me when I gave her the run-around about doubting my Christian upbringing. That's pretty much my point; why does it matter?


- throughout human history, as our species has faced the frightening, terrorizing fact that we do not know who we are, or where we are going in this ocean of chaos, it has been the authorities... -
The case for a Darwinian religion | 142 comments (98 topical, 44 editorial, 0 hidden)
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