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Essential topic: the difference between theism and religion
Posted: 11 June 2011 05:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]
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PLaClair - 11 June 2011 02:41 AM
Write4U - 10 June 2011 11:56 PM

After all is said and done, there is a common quest for a “unifying principle” in the creation and evolution of the universe(s) by theists, deists, and scientists alike.
Take away the intelligent aspect in “religions” and the use of the word religion will regain its proper meaning.

I agree. But if no one makes that case with energy, passion and commitment, it will never happen.

And is that the best place to exert such energy, passion and commitment? I don’t know. I’m still digesting the excellent back-and-forth between you and Croft.

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Posted: 11 June 2011 10:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]
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traveler - 11 June 2011 05:27 AM
PLaClair - 11 June 2011 02:41 AM
Write4U - 10 June 2011 11:56 PM

After all is said and done, there is a common quest for a “unifying principle” in the creation and evolution of the universe(s) by theists, deists, and scientists alike.
Take away the intelligent aspect in “religions” and the use of the word religion will regain its proper meaning.

I agree. But if no one makes that case with energy, passion and commitment, it will never happen.

And is that the best place to exert such energy, passion and commitment? I don’t know. I’m still digesting the excellent back-and-forth between you and Croft.

I can’t tell whether this framing of the question betrays a bias or not but consider this:

Why does it have to be the best place? Why can’t we do it everywhere that it would be useful?

Because I see it as a useful endeavor, it would never occur to me to ask whether any one place was the best place to do it. Interesting how our biases - yours and mine - shape our assumptions.

Another case in point: write4u’s characterization of Einstein’s comments about religion as a “quandary.” Einstein doesn’t seem to have seen it that way; I know I don’t. I see it as a challenge and an opportunity.

[ Edited: 11 June 2011 10:05 AM by PLaClair ]
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Posted: 11 June 2011 10:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]
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traveler-Posted: 11 June 2011 05:27 AM

And is that the best place to exert such energy, passion and commitment?

I wonder about this also, yet, this is clearly an excellent place to examine this idea.  Perhaps, for the greatest effect this debate should be carried on in our local communities where there is better opportunity to create real change, (if one agrees with PLaClair), then in the more insubstantial world of the internet. I’m new here, but this forum’s primary purpose seems to be in providing a place for committed Humanists/Skeptics to debate ideas, and respond to challenges, more than in providing a portal to interact with the people who would be drawn to Humanism if, in general, we were to adopt PLaClair’s philosophy.

That said, the questions and ideas embodied in this particular debate bear deeply on an unresolved area my own philosophy of Humanism:  If we are correct in our general philosophy, (assuming that we could even agree on a definition), what are the ethical and moral issues of promoting this philosophy?  If we are confident that a non-theistic, skeptical philosophy offers the human race a better chance at attaining the “good life”, what are our obligations?

I’m going out on a limb here, (largely because so few people fill out their profiles), and say that it’s my impression that this site’s population of regular members has a predominance of people drawn to the “hard” sciences, i.e engineers, scientists, physicians, etc..(I’m sure I’ll find out if I’m wrong).  In the world of “hard” sciences I’ll argue that a practiced skepticism is an essential tool.  In general, these types of disciplines analyze problems, often in regard to a specific objective, and are tasked with developing an efficient, effective, testable solution.  The idea of the supernatural makes no sense.  It can’t be proven, quantified, or applied.  It one’s task is to manipulate the real world, the role of the supernatural, (which very, very, likely doesn’t exist anyway), is truly nonsensical.*

If I’m correct, then this might explain why are there fewer members of the less rigorously trained population.  Representatives of the “softer” disciplines, like the arts, literature, psychology, history,  subjects where the idea of rigorous testing is harder to apply. What about the the great mass of people who’s lives rarely encounter the idea that assertions must be based on widely accepted evidence and don’t even grasp the scientific definition of a “theory”.  Hell, what about me?  How can people without these concepts embrace a philosophy centered on a pragmatic, skeptical worldview.  How can this population embrace the ideas so widely debated and accepted in this forum?  My own commitment to skepticism is very strong and central to my life philosophy, (PLaClair’s religion), but without training in the skills of evaluation and analysis, it is likely less valid than many here.

How is this group included?  What role can we play in this society, and what sort of social and intellectual nourishment can we draw from it?

(I suppose, in something of a parallel to conventional theism, scientists could fill the role of clergy, interpreting and presenting the discoveries of science to the people, as the clergy of the theistic religions claim to interpret the doctrine of the supernatural world to the trusting but gullible masses.)

If the skeptical/humanist philosophy is a better philosophy than those that claim access to the supernatural, is there an obligation to promote the expansion of this philosophy?  And if the spread of the ideas we promote cause the dissolution of traditional religion, are we obligated to replicate the many positive aspects of traditional theistic religion; community, service, appreciation of art and beauty, the expression of awe?  Can there be meaningful roles for all people in such a society, even those whose comprehension may be limited?

.For me, this is where PLaClair’s position comes into play.  If Humanism spreads, either through active dissemination or even just as an effective meme, mustn’t we adopt his idea of a non theistic religion? 

 


*I must stress that I’m completely unqualified to make this statement.  My formal education is non-existent beyond high school, unless you count some trade school courses.

[ Edited: 11 June 2011 11:08 AM by Jeciron ]
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Posted: 11 June 2011 10:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]
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It won’t happen by debate. It will happen by someone having a vision, putting it into action and drawing others to join in it. If I didn’t have a full-time law practice I would try to pull it off.

If it ever happens, then we will have a better database of information to discuss how well it works. As long as we just discuss it, the objections will always prevent the first step. That’s another notorious failure in the Humanist mindset: we let the objections shut down action. It’s one of the manifestations of non-faith in our groups. We’re tragically mistaken if we think it doesn’t cost us dearly. I wish the facts didn’t require me to be so critical of people I agree with.

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Posted: 11 June 2011 01:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]
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Someone mentioned that the internet is perhaps not the ideal forum for discussion, but I disagree with that. I believe the net is the only forum which reaches people of all walks of life all over the world and it is not like a spoken word which needs to be recorded and distributed.

In particular I believe that CFI is the perfect forum (among a few others), for several reasons.

First, CFI encourages free debate as long as it is done with common courtesy and respect. It reaches many universities worldwide and while anyone of good will can participate in the open forums, the CFI leadership and public representatives are knowledgeable on the subjects they debate in public.

Second, anyone who feels compelled enough to visit CFI,  must have their doubts to begin with and will find a welcoming atmosphere and frank discussion without having to fear repercussions for asking questions or positing their views.

Third, those who come here to convert the heathens from “authority” will find that people here are not easily intimidated and will respond with knowledge or at least reasoned arguments.

This why it is important for freethinkers to treat religious people with respect and IMO, with at least some knowledge of Scripture. There is nothing more powerful than to be able to point out weaknesses in scripture, while speaking the language of the believer. Know thy enemy.
This is why the hardcore fundamentalists theists usually do not last long in debate, but theist doubters and agnostics can find answers to their reasoned questions.

Unfortunately, unless science can come up with a unifying theory, I don’t believe that an Atheist or Agnostic Revelation can be fashioned. We can only persuade individuals and hope that they in turn will speak or blog to others. Gradualism seems the proper avenue and with greater knowledge of science and its gradual impact on theism, time should be treated as an ally.

[ Edited: 11 June 2011 01:28 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 16 June 2011 03:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]
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Why does it have to be the best place? Why can’t we do it everywhere that it would be useful?

Because I see it as a useful endeavor, it would never occur to me to ask whether any one place was the best place to do it. Interesting how our biases - yours and mine - shape our assumptions.

Because we have limited resources! This is a significant part of my point - we have a responsibility (I think it is even a moral responsibility) to focus our limited resources where they will have the greatest effect. I don’t see the reclamation and resuscitation of the term “religious” as being a worthwhile use of limited time, energy and organizational capacity.

Let me be clear how I’m thinking about this - I literally want Humanist Communities to spring up in cities and towns across America. I want one in ever major population hub. And when I think about promoting attendance to these centers there is no way I’m going to call it a “religion”. I think that would be a major turnoff to our key audience (the religious “nones” who have moved away from what they understand religion to be). So as a strategic move I think it’s unwise, still.

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Posted: 16 June 2011 03:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]
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James Croft - 16 June 2011 03:01 PM

Why does it have to be the best place? Why can’t we do it everywhere that it would be useful?

Because I see it as a useful endeavor, it would never occur to me to ask whether any one place was the best place to do it. Interesting how our biases - yours and mine - shape our assumptions.

Because we have limited resources! This is a significant part of my point - we have a responsibility (I think it is even a moral responsibility) to focus our limited resources where they will have the greatest effect. I don’t see the reclamation and resuscitation of the term “religious” as being a worthwhile use of limited time, energy and organizational capacity.

Let me be clear how I’m thinking about this - I literally want Humanist Communities to spring up in cities and towns across America. I want one in ever major population hub. And when I think about promoting attendance to these centers there is no way I’m going to call it a “religion”. I think that would be a major turnoff to our key audience (the religious “nones” who have moved away from what they understand religion to be). So as a strategic move I think it’s unwise, still.

That is valid argument. Why argue the definition of religion, when there are other words which are non-controversial (neutral) in common usage? Personally I always associated the word religion with theism, but I have used the word “religiously” (in lieu of the phrase “fervent dedication”} without a necessary association to religion.

However, IMO, the internet is a perfect forum for “non activist” skeptics to debate and spread valid arguments against the unquestioned acceptance of theistic scripture and notions which are proven false by science.
The creation of humanist and skeptic centers (homebases) with access to pertinent information is definitely a desirable thing. But preaching to the choir may not have as much impact as spreading the word on facebook, my space, and other easily accessible forums ( such as CFI) to the general public. Best of all, it can be done from your home without requirement of massive financial resources for travel, venue rentals, and expense reimbursement for public (professional) debaters.

How else could I (living in Idaho boonies) be able to present some 2440 of my skeptic and humanist opinions to tens of thousands people all over the world? If I can influence just a hundred people to re-examine their beliefs, I will feel satisfied.

[ Edited: 16 June 2011 04:28 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 16 June 2011 09:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]
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Well, absolutely! I think it’s exceptionally important to get the message out in every medium we’ve got! The internet atheist movement has been extremely important in my mind.

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Posted: 17 June 2011 05:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]
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PLaClair - 11 June 2011 10:03 AM
traveler - 11 June 2011 05:27 AM
PLaClair - 11 June 2011 02:41 AM
Write4U - 10 June 2011 11:56 PM

After all is said and done, there is a common quest for a “unifying principle” in the creation and evolution of the universe(s) by theists, deists, and scientists alike.
Take away the intelligent aspect in “religions” and the use of the word religion will regain its proper meaning.

I agree. But if no one makes that case with energy, passion and commitment, it will never happen.

And is that the best place to exert such energy, passion and commitment? I don’t know. I’m still digesting the excellent back-and-forth between you and Croft.

I can’t tell whether this framing of the question betrays a bias or not but consider this:

Why does it have to be the best place? Why can’t we do it everywhere that it would be useful?

Because I see it as a useful endeavor, it would never occur to me to ask whether any one place was the best place to do it. Interesting how our biases - yours and mine - shape our assumptions.

Another case in point: write4u’s characterization of Einstein’s comments about religion as a “quandary.” Einstein doesn’t seem to have seen it that way; I know I don’t. I see it as a challenge and an opportunity.

I am sooooo sorry! My words were misconstrued. Rather than saying “is that the best place to exert such energy” I should have said “is the use of the word religion as worthy of our efforts as other things?” Hell, use the Internet, newspapers, napkins… drop notes from the sky! My question is aren’t there better things to which we could apply our energies than semantics? Like non-theist charity, organization, education, image (we love, laugh, believe in human spirit - the real kind that wins football games! and so on…)

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Posted: 22 June 2011 07:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]
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Write4U - 16 June 2011 03:53 PM
James Croft - 16 June 2011 03:01 PM

Why does it have to be the best place? Why can’t we do it everywhere that it would be useful?

Because I see it as a useful endeavor, it would never occur to me to ask whether any one place was the best place to do it. Interesting how our biases - yours and mine - shape our assumptions.

Because we have limited resources! This is a significant part of my point - we have a responsibility (I think it is even a moral responsibility) to focus our limited resources where they will have the greatest effect. I don’t see the reclamation and resuscitation of the term “religious” as being a worthwhile use of limited time, energy and organizational capacity.

Let me be clear how I’m thinking about this - I literally want Humanist Communities to spring up in cities and towns across America. I want one in ever major population hub. And when I think about promoting attendance to these centers there is no way I’m going to call it a “religion”. I think that would be a major turnoff to our key audience (the religious “nones” who have moved away from what they understand religion to be). So as a strategic move I think it’s unwise, still.

That is valid argument. Why argue the definition of religion, when there are other words which are non-controversial (neutral) in common usage? Personally I always associated the word religion with theism, but I have used the word “religiously” (in lieu of the phrase “fervent dedication”} without a necessary association to religion.

However, IMO, the internet is a perfect forum for “non activist” skeptics to debate and spread valid arguments against the unquestioned acceptance of theistic scripture and notions which are proven false by science.
The creation of humanist and skeptic centers (homebases) with access to pertinent information is definitely a desirable thing. But preaching to the choir may not have as much impact as spreading the word on facebook, my space, and other easily accessible forums ( such as CFI) to the general public. Best of all, it can be done from your home without requirement of massive financial resources for travel, venue rentals, and expense reimbursement for public (professional) debaters.

How else could I (living in Idaho boonies) be able to present some 2440 of my skeptic and humanist opinions to tens of thousands people all over the world? If I can influence just a hundred people to re-examine their beliefs, I will feel satisfied.

I suggest that these arguments miss the point. As I’ve written several times, it’s not a matter of arguing but a matter of expressing ourselves authentically. I express myself authentically with the words “religion” and “religious.” It’s an invitation, not an armed crusade. You guys are the ones who are arguing about it.

Of course you will see it as you’re expressing it here: you fellows don’t like the term “religion.” But you’re tilting at windmills because you live in a culture where that word and the things that go along with it are generally favored. You’d like to knock down the windmill but to what end? All I’m saying is that the windmill doesn’t have to be destroyed, and you guys are the ones wasting your energy thinking that you can.

I suspect we agree on a lot. For example, like Write4U, I believe that offering people a different way of looking at religion does encourage people to re-examine their beliefs. That’s my goal too. But while I may feel a sense of accomplishment if I can open a few minds, I will still live in a culture where non-theists are treated like second-class citizens: we can’t even run for high public office. That puts us where African-Americans and women were a century and more ago. So I am interested in strategies that will show people that we aren’t the amoral horned creatures with pitchforks they think we are. Every time we fight an unnecessary battle, like taking on the whole of religion when only a part of it is our adversary, we make our job unnecessarily harder. You can do it if you want to but please have the objectivity to recognize that you’re the ones wasting limited resources.

Please don’t misunderstand that last comment. You’re free to do as you please. But while you can choose your behavior, you cannot choose its consequences.

[ Edited: 22 June 2011 07:15 PM by PLaClair ]
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Posted: 22 June 2011 09:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]
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I agree with PlaClair, that a strategy must be devised to begin to enter Atheist Humanists viewpoints into public view and public office, where they can be judged on validity and performance rather than by association to a religion.

As almost all candidates for office are affilliated with one religion or another, atheists are forced to choose between them rather than having a champion for the atheist movement. Thus atheists remain forever a scattered minority, without a public voice, except in fora as CFI and the internet in general.

A local/regional/national strategy must be formed to present qualified persons to the public in a concerted effort. The formation of local and regional atheist centers would be invaluable in such a strategy as it would help in presenting issues en masse and not as lonely voices in the wilderness.

Can we not begin by electing representatives at the local level, where a small but dedicated group can put forth a collective effort, where 30 votes may well be victorious in a field where say 5 other competing (religious) representative may each receive 20 votes in a district where there are but 130 votes in toto. Once elected locally we have a foot in the door on a regional and state level. Being a repressed minority demands the conservation of resources only toward a concentrated common “achievable” goal.

Obviously no one would nor should advocate an armed revolution, as has been the case in history with other minorities as a final expression of frustration with a message of “no more”. Obviously, such a strategy would only confirm the “perceived” evil of atheism.

IMO, to organize all atheists around a qualified representative who can be effective in office and thereby show that atheists are in fact not dangerous people. A perfect example is congressman Barney Frank, an open homosexual who has earned the love and respect of all his peers, irrespective of their religious association. I am willing to bet that his first election to office relied heavily on the concentrated efforts of other homosexuals. This is no longer required in his re-election campaigns, because he has proven that he tries to represent all the constituents of his district, not just homosexuals.

As I said before, this strategy may take a long time before we can offer “known” representatives for city, state, and federal office where can make a real difference, not only in law but also in public relations on a wider scale.

This is why I advocated “gradualism”, a careful, measured, step by step approach to gain access to public representation in government. But unless we are willing to invite and support an atheist in running for office we shall never have a collective voice large enough to make inroads into representation at higher levels.

Atheists do have one demographic advantage and that is in the field of science, where a large percentage of scientists are now atheist or at least agnostic and have the ability to present their views logically and coherently as well as having established a reputation for ethical thought.

[ Edited: 22 June 2011 09:31 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 23 June 2011 03:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]
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We need to change our public image. The cats have to learn social skills and must learn to set aside a bit of our individualism for the common good of all secularists, else we will remain an ostracized minority indefinitely. This can only be done by choice but if we can’t see that short distance in front of our own noses and muster the discipline to work together for the common good, then the people at large will have reasons not to trust us with power - not that the hypocrites shouting “holy, holy!” are doing any better.

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Posted: 03 December 2012 10:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]
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Oh I had hoped this thread to continue forever. smile

One approach that favor is to be where people really are.
We have to ask them what they can accept to support?
To work against their motivation seems not rational or reasonable.

Sadly to find out what works cost a lot of money or personal time.

Like some of you already have pointed out is that the only way
to find out is to test and see how it goes. Very few would have the
inner motivation and resources to do such things. AFAIK the London
School of Life http://www.theschooloflife.com/ Alain de Botton charge
those that come to the courses?
Despite him having maybe enough money to be a charity? Not sure.

The ideal would be that anybody could come even if they had no money to pay.

I come to think of something rather unrelated. Public Chess Players in Parks.
Instead of playing Chess one could have free meetings for Humanism.
Those that play Boules in parks also do that for free? Frisbee was free too?
Doing tricks on Skateboard in public parks. Humanism has to find something
that is fun to do that gets people attracted out of their inner motivation.

Sorry I lack the imagination to come up with it but if it is something
that makes people motivated then they show up for free.

Another crazy examples. Take the fans of Anime in Japan or
whatever it is they dress like their fave Anime character and
show it to each other at the park for free. One only have to find
what motivates people in relation to Humanism.

One troublesome example is the Political Correctness that even have created
hooligans that visit the home of their enemy and they break in and vandalize
those homes and beat up the bigots they hate. And trust me they do this totally
free of charge so I see that as evidence for that one only have to find something
that is really motivating and people freely spend all their free time working for it.

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Posted: 04 December 2012 11:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 74 ]
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Fred:

Weddings and funerals, potluck dinners, discussion groups, youth groups, Humanist charities, food banks, “missonary” work (perhaps something working with something like Doctors w/o Borders for example) are places and activities that IMO we should be working to compete with religion.  These are the activities the religious use to build their culture.  If we don’t build our Humanist culture we will remain no more than the village athiests we have always been.

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Posted: 04 December 2012 04:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 75 ]
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I am not against that at all.
I only point out that
the difference is that Religion also had
what saved my life. Person to Person empathy
and altruistic compassion for somebody in personal need.

The NGO like Human Rights of Sec Humanists when I needed
them did not have this. Maybe they have it now but I live
too far away and are not a member anymore.

So I do support what you did mention too but for 30 years
I have longed for that they also had what religion did provide.

A listening ear. They had activism but no listening ear.

I don’t accuse them. They had not promise to have a listening ear.
so one would need something with another name or a qualifier
in from of Humanism. or after? Humanism with a Heart?

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