On Acolyte Poachers
Posted: 23 October 2006 06:23 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I find it interesting—predictable, really, but ironic—to see how often people show up on this forum to peddle what basically amount to forms of New Age religion as "alternatives to contemporary religions". We’ve had the "atheist" Urantia guy awhile back, the guy peddling his Final Freedoms document, another giving minds the power to create the universe, et cetera, et cetera.

What’s the point of all this? To coin a phrase, We don’t need no stinkin’ religions!

My guess is that people come to this site expecting to harvest acolytes, thinking that it will be full of people looking for guidance from some anointed guru who will end their questioning by giving them a book with all the true stuff in it. I hope that’s not the case, but certainly it’s a possibility.

Our problem with the Bible isn’t the sort of thing that could be overcome by changing a word here and there. It’s that we ought not to believe blindly in [i:e4a3c1591c]any[/i:e4a3c1591c] such dogma, certainly not dogma that makes no rational sense, and/or dogma that contradicts scientific results.

If there is any way to know reality, it is through careful scientific investigation, free from religious and political meddling [i:e4a3c1591c]of any sort[/i:e4a3c1591c]. I think we can be relatively confident that this investigation will never provide humanity with the kind of ‘warm fuzzy feeling’ that religious certainty can, if for no other reason then because it is always preliminary, never final, and because it is not of the form of a children’s bedtime story, where all the good guys win and all the bad guys get sent to jail.

So, let the poachers be welcome here with all the rest, but let us always inquire skeptically of them. If it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

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Posted: 23 October 2006 08:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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people show up on this forum to peddle what basically amount to forms of New Age religion as “alternatives to contemporary religions”

I must agree with you, Doug. I speak from personal experience because I had fallen for one kind or another form of New Age religion/pseudoscience many times (Daniken, “Dr” Moody, etc.). I am not sure why this happens. A big part, I must confess however, plays ignorance. At one point of my life I had believed that “aliens” changed our DNA to speed up the process of human evolution because I didn’t simply know any better. One thing I know for sure though: the majority of people will rather discuss Daniken as opposed to Darwin. Why? Because anybody can join the conversation! And you don’t really need to know much about anything.

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Posted: 23 October 2006 08:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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George, I am sure 99.9% of the people here have fallen for one thing or another during their lives, and I include myself in that number. Often skeptics arrive with CFI because they were snookered early on, only to learn that they have to be careful investigators to keep it from happening again.

And you are absolutely right that what keeps drawing people in is that it’s so easy to join the bla-bla-bla. Particularly with the New Agey stuff, there’s a bit of “anything goes” postmodernism thrown in for good measure, so if your interpretation of the Book of the Holy Spaceman doesn’t coincide with mine, we just live in different realities ...

:wink:

But I suggest, you spend a few afternoons reading back issues of Skeptical Inquirer at your local library, it will open your eyes like religion can’t, and innoculate you for life against the snake-oil folks, of whatever persuasion. Not because the Holy Truth is contained within its pages, but rather because the amount of sheer nonsense debunked there over the years is just breathtaking. The inventiveness of the human mind to create bunkum is infinite and everlasting ...

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Posted: 23 October 2006 08:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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it will open your eyes

My eyes are already quite open! :shock: (It was Dawkins’s Selfish Gene that opened them for me.) Now I just need to forget about the past ten years, or so, of my life that I spent on reading garbage and try to catch up on everything I’ve missed. I wish I could be twenty once again!  :(

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Posted: 23 October 2006 11:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Yeah, this sort of thing is increasingly annoying to me. People just invent new fantasies to replace the old ones.

Yesterday I attended a discussion group (yes, at a UU church, see the thread on Unitarian Universalism in the Religion section if you want to discuss that), and our topic of discussion was the “dangerous idea” that myths and fairy tales are not true as Dr. Todd Feinberg discusses on edge.org.
    (You have to scroll down to Feinberg’s entry).

The group is small and most are what I would call non-believers, but one woman present who was all too willing to dispense with Christian nonsense started espousing her alternate mythology. The forum moderator pointed out that we UU’s like questions but some questions aren’t worthy of pursuing. I added that questions about God are equivilent to asking “why are unicorns hollow”? (Thank you Richard Dawkins). She replied, “well that’s a very good question, what IS a unicorn”. I could only say “I’m not even going to discuss this, it’s nonsense”.

Later she approached me and tried to offer me her alternative mythology. “Of course the theologians have it all wrong, what the Bible really means is…” Blah, blah, blah. I had to cut her with “if you want to extract your morals and lifes meaning from some book then The Iliad is as valid a source as the Bible”, and moved away quickly. I’m sure she thought I was rude or just unwilling to “get it”. I DO “get it”. The real, natural world contains wonders beyond my imagination to which no theological construction can compare.

Along the same lines I was watching a progam with a friend on the Science Channel (later the same day) about a dinosaur skeleton that scientists couldn’t quite fit into one known species (the details aren’t relevent here). The narrator says “a team of scientists was formed to investigate this find” and my friend says “I bet it’s such and such”. Irritated once again I said, “that’s why there is a team of scientists, so you don’t have to sit here and figure it all out”.
That, I think is a big part of the problem. People prefer quick, pat answers and don’t have the patience for the rigors of science. Just fill in the blanks with whatever suits you. Purpose, ancient myth, secret knowledge, personal saviors, etc. are really getting on my nerves.

I’m thinking of using this as my signature line, tell me what you think.

;-DBH

“If you showed Jesus your cell phone, he would follow you.”

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