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The real dangers of religion.
Posted: 06 March 2012 12:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 06 March 2012 10:05 AM

The bottom line is that if you take religion out of the picture you have no more witches nor warlocks.

I don’t think that’s necessarily true. From what I know, the witch trials in medieval Europe were motivated predominately by money and politics. I doubt the Inquisition really believed that witches were real, although the public (although not everybody) might have believed it. It was the superstitious nature of the common man that allowed the Inquisition to carry one this monstrosity.

But that’s medieval Europe. There is obviously a more recent problem in Africa. Again, it is easy to take advantage of the people’s innate tendency to be superstitious, although here I suspect it happens for different reasons. Witchcraft in Africa probably serves the purpose of keeping women subservient in their society. I believe the recent rise of murders due to witchcraft in Africa is related not to the introduction of Christianity, but to the rise of the (potential) women equality. As always, it is very easy to confuse correlation for causation.

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Posted: 06 March 2012 01:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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I don’t think that’s necessarily true. From what I know, the witch trials in medieval Europe were motivated predominately by money and politics. I doubt the Inquisition really believed that witches were real, although the public (although not everybody) might have believed it.

I think we are arguing apples and oranges here George. Yes the Medieval witch trials may have had a more secular purpose (i.e. ridding Spain of the Jewish community by Torquemada) but the cause was definitely religious with biblical roots, Exodus 20:18 and Leviticus 20:27. It was used as an excuse to persecute heretics, and expunge demons (Thomas Aquinas). Also, with the publication of Innocent VIII’s “Malleus Maleficarum” witchcraft became the official reason to persecute those who deviated from the Church’s teachings. So, even though I do agree that witchcraft trials had an alterior motive, it was rooted in belief.
As to Africa, and modern forms of witch hunts. I agree that it is politically or sexually motivated and has no relation to religious belief.

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Posted: 06 March 2012 02:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Okay, Jack. I see we almost agree and that’s good enough for me. The reason why I say we almost agree, is because I am still not convinced that one can blame the Bible, the Malleus Maleficarum, Mein Kampf, the Koran, Das Kapital or the Catcher in the Rye for witch-hunt, terrorist attacks, persecution of the Jews, the killing of John Lennon, etc. But I think I have said it enough times on this forum to make it clear where I stand, so maybe it’s now time for me to let go. May Zeus give me the strength not to get tempted ever again…

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Posted: 06 March 2012 04:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Okay, Jack. I see we almost agree and that’s good enough for me. The reason why I say we almost agree, is because I am still not convinced that one can blame the Bible, the Malleus Maleficarum, Mein Kampf, the Koran, Das Kapital or the Catcher in the Rye for witch-hunt, terrorist attacks, persecution of the Jews, the killing of John Lennon, etc. But I think I have said it enough times on this forum to make it clear where I stand, so maybe it’s now time for me to let go. May Zeus give me the strength not to get tempted ever again

And Athena thunders back that Main kampf, the Koran (well maybe not the Koran), Das Kapital, or Catcher in the Rye??? are non-sequiturs. And I’m not blaming the bible per se, just it’s interpretation, but as you say we’ll have to agree to half disagree. smile

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Posted: 06 March 2012 08:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Sure, many of those trials were probably politically motivated, but that doesn’t change the fact that the masses were easily duped into believing the accusations and going along with it.. Superstition did play a huge part in it. If it didn’t, then the accusers wouldn’t have had the backing of people when they put these “witches” and “warlocks” to death.

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Posted: 06 March 2012 10:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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The OP wondered about religion and its effect on society. Can religion be benign in modern society? Is it wrong or harmful to start children out with religious or supernatural beliefs? Within three or four posts it devolved into a discussion of witchcraft. So, after reading everything above, I think the portion of this thread on the subject of witchcraft/witchhunts should be eliminated from the religion forum and moved to the political forum where it clearly belongs. I know when someone mentions something about witches, the first thing I think about is politics. Oh, and economics, too. Then maybe OP’s question can generate some discussion relevant to religion, not politics.

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Posted: 07 March 2012 01:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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It is not necessary politics. Humans can also be cruel without good reasons. Today’s witches can be unpopular persons in the neighbourhood. Then they can be called pederasts or something. I remember such a case in my school. The police had to intervene.

If it is an organised campaign, then of course it becomes politics, and religion is a thankful means for creating hate against people and getting rid of them.

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Posted: 07 March 2012 05:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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If it is an organised campaign, then of course it becomes politics, and religion is a thankful means for creating hate against people and getting rid of them.

This will in all probability be born out at the Reason Rally. The fundies are ready to pass out their tracts and haul out the John 3:16 signs. And I’ll bet that the “god hates fags” guys will also be in attendance.

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Posted: 07 March 2012 10:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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I think you’ll find that most atheists and agnostics were brought up as religious.  So, the extent to which that precludes one from being non-religious, at least, is questionable.  Some would say that the very fact they were brought up Catholic, etc., caused them to become an atheist or agnostic.  And I think one can manage to be open, honest, inquiring and critical even while being “religious” in some sense, at least.

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Posted: 07 March 2012 10:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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ciceronianus - 07 March 2012 10:12 AM

I think you’ll find that most atheists and agnostics were brought up as religious.

You have never been to Europe, have you?

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Posted: 07 March 2012 10:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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George - 07 March 2012 10:44 AM
ciceronianus - 07 March 2012 10:12 AM

I think you’ll find that most atheists and agnostics were brought up as religious.

You have never been to Europe, have you?

Sigh.

Well, I have been, but it’s okay, I’ll play along.  It’s hard to be the straight man, though. 

Why do you ask?

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Posted: 07 March 2012 11:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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lreadl - 06 March 2012 10:22 PM

The OP wondered about religion and its effect on society. Can religion be benign in modern society? Is it wrong or harmful to start children out with religious or supernatural beliefs? Within three or four posts it devolved into a discussion of witchcraft. So, after reading everything above, I think the portion of this thread on the subject of witchcraft/witchhunts should be eliminated from the religion forum and moved to the political forum where it clearly belongs. I know when someone mentions something about witches, the first thing I think about is politics. Oh, and economics, too. Then maybe OP’s question can generate some discussion relevant to religion, not politics.

Yes, religion can be “benign” in modern society.  Many of not most food banks are church sponsored or other ways strongly supported by various religious groups.  The Salvation Army is a major supplier of useable clothing to the less well off, etc.  Religion can also be harmful as in the current attacks on women and children by Catholic priests.  Without the black churches the civil rights movement (Rev. MLK; Rev. Jackson; Rev. Franklin etc.) here in the US would have had no base. 

As far as the children go, churches can be a good place to introduce them to society beyond the immediate family, I still have many friends from the church I went in the 50’s and took my son to in the 70’s.  Many of these friendships are now in their fourth and fifth generation and most of us in my generation and younger are now non-believers.

Religion is a social organizing tool that often gives us a common reference point whether we believe in its theology/mythology/philosophy or not. It can be used for positive or negative purposes depending on the motivation of the person using it. 
Also it is very difficult to separate religion from politics or economics when the religious are discussing the problems of society.

[ Edited: 07 March 2012 11:19 AM by garythehuman ]
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Posted: 07 March 2012 11:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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ciceronianus - 07 March 2012 10:54 AM
George - 07 March 2012 10:44 AM
ciceronianus - 07 March 2012 10:12 AM

I think you’ll find that most atheists and agnostics were brought up as religious.

You have never been to Europe, have you?

Sigh.

Well, I have been, but it’s okay, I’ll play along.  It’s hard to be the straight man, though. 

Why do you ask?

Because the largest percentage of the atheist population is to be found in Europe and they were not brought up as religious. Not that I really believe that how we are brought up has an impact on how religious we turn out—but I don’t want to go there. My point is that your observation is factually incorrect. That’s all.

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Posted: 07 March 2012 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 06 March 2012 04:13 PM

Okay, Jack. I see we almost agree and that’s good enough for me. The reason why I say we almost agree, is because I am still not convinced that one can blame the Bible, the Malleus Maleficarum, Mein Kampf, the Koran, Das Kapital or the Catcher in the Rye for witch-hunt, terrorist attacks, persecution of the Jews, the killing of John Lennon, etc. But I think I have said it enough times on this forum to make it clear where I stand, so maybe it’s now time for me to let go. May Zeus give me the strength not to get tempted ever again

And Athena thunders back that Main kampf, the Koran (well maybe not the Koran), Das Kapital, or Catcher in the Rye??? are non-sequiturs. And I’m not blaming the bible per se, just it’s interpretation, but as you say we’ll have to agree to half disagree. smile

Cap’t Jack

There is a whole class of behaviors, known as “rule-governed behaviors”, in which human behavior is primarily a function of following the rule.  One of the main things that religions do is establish rules.  If a Christian devoutly believes the “rule”: “Thou shall not suffer a witch to live.”, then anyone who might be thought of as a witch, would probably want to avoid that Christian.

My point is that religions can and often do, have tremendous influence on the behavior of their members through the establishment of rules.  You can legitimately argue that there are other factors that control the behavior of persons of any religion, but you cannot legitimately completely rule out the influence of some of their religious doctrines.

[ Edited: 07 March 2012 12:18 PM by TimB ]
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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 07 March 2012 01:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Well, yeah. If a large portion of a given population is wacko, then a wacko ideology will have an impact. That’s why it’s okay for people in Switzerland to own guns, but it’s probably not a good idea in the U.S. Not that a prohibition of guns would get rid of violence in the U.S. Similarly, if we magically made all religions go away, I am sure all people wouldn’t start thinking tomorrow that abortion was now okay. I saw it in Czechoslovakia: there was no ideology to justify the idea that homosexuality was wrong, so people simply said it was disgusting and that was it.

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