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What do we replace Religious Ethical teachings with?
Posted: 22 July 2007 08:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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dubito-ergo-credo - 15 January 2007 11:31 PM

What do we replace Religious Ethical teachings with?

U can find simply the correct answer at this in http://www.myspace.com/scienceoverreligions and relative blog.
Maybe LOL.

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Posted: 24 July 2007 01:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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I would disagree with the spirit of Dougsmith’s initial comment in a big way here.

Humanism has not devoted enough attention to what it can bring to society in those areas in which people have traditionally looked favourably upon religion - social approach to law & order, personal well being, social empathy, community, personal wellbeing etc etc.  Its easy for other Humanists to turn round and point out this that & the other to put down my statement - I can already do that myself, but we do lack in formulating a better system than religion.

I believe one of the principal reasons for this poor performance is that most of us dislike the fact that religion is a social ‘system’, and are pessimistic that alternative systems might not avoid the same pitfalls that religious societies have plummeted into.  Dougsmith says something similar when he hopes we avoid new moral texts - and I agree with him.

If religion were to diminish to the point of irrelevance tomorrow, then there would be a void.  Nature abhors a void, so in steps something like fascism, nationalism, or general downright nasty-ism.

The fact that we might not consider we need something to fill the void, does not mean that’s true of everybody else.

In the medium term, we have some thinking to do.  In the meantime, lets all carry on reducing religion to irrelevance.

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Posted: 24 July 2007 01:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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I’m not sure in which way we disagree, popeth. The ethical sense that guides both the religious and nonreligious would be better without the shackles put on it by trying to be “true” to outmoded and often incorrect and unethical ancient religious teachings. When a Christian decides not to read certain passages of the Old Testament as telling him how to live his life, while reading other passages as the “word of god”, he’s using just the same ethical sense that I have to decide between the two.

So our “better system than religion” is to ditch the Bible and other similar “revealed” texts.

Now, will this make a non-religious person any more moral than a liberal, conscientious Christian who reads his Bible allegorically? No. I don’t think that non-religious people necessarily have any moral edge in that sense. There are many very moral liberal religious people. They may have false (or at least unsubstantiated) beliefs about one thing and another ... existence of god, afterlife, etc., but that doesn’t necessarily make them any less moral. It may or it may not, depending on the case.

There are also other secular institutions that can provide one with a sense of community and well-being, from knitting circles to sports to civic organizations to libraries to reading groups, etc. CFI is attempting to put another bit here with their local centers.

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Posted: 24 July 2007 01:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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thanks Dougsmith, I have a great deal of respect for you personally and your posts, but as you quite rightly said, we would indeed agree, and I was obviously unsuccessful in trying to head off replies which cover common ground for likeminded people.

The bit I disagree with you on, you tackle in your last paragraph.  Your original questioning of whether there would be a void if the world quit the religious habit.  I steadfastly maintain that there would be a huge void, and am happy to argue with anyone who tells me otherwise - on the trict proviso that if I think you’re right then I’ll admit it.

Not only is this a real problem that Humanism needs to pay more attention to dealing with, but we also need to pay more attention to non Humanists’ appreciation of the problem as another reason why they don’t ditch religion.  History throws up simple examples of anomie in both underdeveloped and developed societies.

I hope this clarification steers your answer directly toward our area of disagreement.

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Posted: 24 July 2007 04:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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scienceoverreligions - 22 July 2007 08:18 PM
dubito-ergo-credo - 15 January 2007 11:31 PM

What do we replace Religious Ethical teachings with?

Easy: non-religious teaching of how to do ethics.  Do I win a prize?

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Posted: 24 July 2007 05:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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popeth - 24 July 2007 01:59 PM

The bit I disagree with you on, you tackle in your last paragraph.  Your original questioning of whether there would be a void if the world quit the religious habit.  I steadfastly maintain that there would be a huge void, and am happy to argue with anyone who tells me otherwise - on the trict proviso that if I think you’re right then I’ll admit it.

Not only is this a real problem that Humanism needs to pay more attention to dealing with, but we also need to pay more attention to non Humanists’ appreciation of the problem as another reason why they don’t ditch religion.  History throws up simple examples of anomie in both underdeveloped and developed societies.

I hope this clarification steers your answer directly toward our area of disagreement.

Well, I think we need to do some work to find out what this void amounts to.

Perhaps what you mean is that there is a natural human tendency to believe in the supernatural, and thus, perhaps, to tend towards religious-type thinking.

I would agree with that. Supernatural and religoius thought does seem to come naturally to us. Many people have speculated as to the roots of this, from Dan Dennett to Scott Atran to Pascal Boyer and more ...

If that’s not what you mean by this “void” then it would be helpful for you to try to pinpoint what sort of void this is, precisely. The sort of void that they discuss is essentially one of a sort of cognitive misfiring; it can be overcome in limited circumstances by learning.

As to the larger question of whether we will ever able to “fill this void” in such a way as to completely eliminate the need for religion and hence the existence of religion as a cultural force ... I am a devout realist, so I don’t think that will ever be possible. Not sure if I’d quite describe the problem in terms of a sort of “void”, but certainly there are inborn tendencies to irrational forms of thought which I don’t think will ever be entirely overcome. These forms of thought tend naturally to produce notions of the supernatural, and in-group/out-group generalities that function very easily in the construction of cult-like environments.

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Posted: 24 July 2007 10:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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narwhol - 24 July 2007 04:28 PM
scienceoverreligions - 22 July 2007 08:18 PM
dubito-ergo-credo - 15 January 2007 11:31 PM

What do we replace Religious Ethical teachings with?

Easy: non-religious teaching of how to do ethics.  Do I win a prize?

/me steals the narwhol’s prize

dougsmith - 24 July 2007 05:45 PM

As to the larger question of whether we will ever able to “fill this void” in such a way as to completely eliminate the need for religion and hence the existence of religion as a cultural force ... I am a devout realist, so I don’t think that will ever be possible. Not sure if I’d quite describe the problem in terms of a sort of “void”, but certainly there are inborn tendencies to irrational forms of thought which I don’t think will ever be entirely overcome. These forms of thought tend naturally to produce notions of the supernatural, and in-group/out-group generalities that function very easily in the construction of cult-like environments.

I hope u re wrong but I think u re right

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Posted: 25 July 2007 01:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Thanks Dougsmith.  The susceptibility for the supernatural would be part of the void, but I am talking about a great deal more in social terms.  Naturally enough, affects upon the individual are intrinsic to this, but I am talking less in cognitive or even neurological terms, and more in simpler terms of the relationship between the individiual and religion, society and religion, and the individual and society.

Humanism has been stating for so long that society will be fine without religion, that footsoldiers like us have neglected to spend enough time planning for short, medium and long term variables if and when it happens.

If it happens quickly - and when you consider the pace of change in areas other than spiritual through the 20th and 21st centuries then this is a reasonable possibility -  I believe that we are nowhere near as prepared for it as we ought to be.  I find this rather upsetting.

One could argue that this subject could do with being set up as a forum category for discussion in its own right, as I see frustratingly little about it on rationalist boards.

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Posted: 25 July 2007 02:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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i agree with dougsmith.

the fact that religious people dont really take the bible literally (all cherry pick which parts they want to utilize, whether they are fundamentalists, extremists or more liberal) shows that their ethical reasoning doesnt come from religion.

I like to ask Christians, “do you really believe, as Corinthians 1 states, that women are made for men and ought to wear a sign of authority over their heads”? usually, if they know little about their beliefs*, they will try and say that is Old Testament, but then go silent when its pointed out to be from the New Testament.

*how many of yall (yes, I just wrote that. Its okay, im from Texas. I can do that) ask religious people if they question and doubt their religion? How many of them say no? How many of yall point out to them that unless you question and doubt their faith, beliefs or personal relationship with God then its not really theirs? Its just some regurgitated hand-me-down.

I generally pose this question because from my own experiences as a backslider and encounters with other religious folk is that they take their “personal relationship” seriously. Getting them to begin questioning and doubting usually helps before a barage of heretical questions about contradictions and scientific facts (ie the world isnt flat, light could not have been created before its source, the moon doesnt emit light and the world is much older than 6,000 years, etc).

————-

popeth and dougsmith,

its impossible to plan for something like this. life is too large of a math equation and, its constantly and rapidly evolving into a different equation. I guess thats what is meant by the cliche, “the only thing that stays the same is that nothing stays the same.”

the best we can do as organized people is to 1) get better educated and help others acquire the tools to get better educated, 2) get organized and 3) get active.

All this reminds me of something Eugene Debs once said:

“I am not a Labor Leader; I do not want you to follow me or anyone else; if you are looking for a Moses to lead you out of this capitalist wilderness, you will stay right where you are. I would not lead you into the promised land if I could, because if I led you in, some one else would lead you out. You must use your heads as well as your hands, and get yourself out of your present condition.”

We cant counter religion by using the same tactics because all we do is leave the “herd” open to being led back into the wilderness in which they were pulled out of. People have got to learn to use their “heads as well as your hands” to get out of this “present condition.” We dont need leaders or a well defined movement, but rather a structure that nurtures inquiry and skepticism.

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Posted: 25 July 2007 04:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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I’m still a little confused about the “void” you see. You say you are concerned about “the relationship between the individiual and religion, society and religion, and the individual and society.” Could you clarify a bit about the problems you see?

At any rate, as I say, I don’t see religion disappearing, so to that extent I am not so worried about it leaving behind some sort of void ... and in the so-called “post-religious” Europe of today (which is still pretty religious!) I also don’t see any real “voids”.

Basically, when people feel some sort of void from not having religion, they tend to go new-agey or the like. But maybe I’m still not getting your point.

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Posted: 25 July 2007 06:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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I’m with doug on this one.  Millions of little atheists have grown up great knowing that there is no heaven, hell or God.  Despite them all being catholics, my siblings never seem to use any kind of religious stuff in getting their kids to reason about what the right thing to do would be.  They just use sensible questioning.  And my nephew’s and nieces are really lovely, well behaved children.  There is no void.  I do enjoys watching humanists making plans and schemes of this kind on the basis of anxious predictions though.  Will you guys never actually see humanity for what it is?  Half the time you overestimate humans and the other half (as now) you totally underestimate them.

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Posted: 26 July 2007 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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I came across this and thought it was relevant.

From http://dresdencodak.com

stall10.jpg

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Posted: 26 July 2007 10:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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narwhol,

they dont use the fear of Hell and reward of Heaven to teach them to be good? For religious people thats awesome.

that was one of my big problems with religion. the reward/punishment system teaches moral behavior from the wrong perspective: egocentrism.

its the proverbial preacher who says he would have cheated on his wife if he didnt fear hell. you know, as opposed to being faithful because he loves and respects her!

or the person who only volunteers at a local shelter because the volunteer thinks God will be pleased, as opposed to volunteering because one genuinely has compassion for the people in the shelter.

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Posted: 26 July 2007 12:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Truth Addict - thank you for addressing this, but I’m afraid I disagree with you that we cannot better plan ahread.
Dougsmith - the possibility that the demise of organised religion in certain European countries could hit a tipping point after which their irrelevance could accelerate rapidly, is indeed a viable one, and must be planned for.  But as you say, this is an aside, we are debating something more specific, please see below dotted line.
Narwhol - I don’t see how my approach here is underestimating humanity.
Rsonin - I love the cartoon.

……………………………………………………………………………….

I like everything that’s been written on this thread, I just don’t see any of it as a good argument there will be no void of very significant consequence.  The fault is no doubt with my ability to communicate.  Lets try a different way:

Think less about logical arguments as to whether or not religions make sense.

Perhaps a good example to illustrate this would be to consider the branch of Judaism (liberal or humanistic, I forget which) who aren’t terribly bothered whether God exists or not, they just like being Jewish!  I went to a speech delivered by one who is a Prof in Cambridge last year.  If that religion was enmeshed in society in the same way as Christianity is in Britain, then its removal would leave a void with consequences which would need to be sufficiently planned for. 

Another illustrative tool might be to write a list about all the possible ways in which religion interacts with something (or something interacts with religion) to affect society.  Now remove religion.  Tell me there is no void.

Finally, remove any preconceptions as to rightfulness, permanence or desirability of the void.

Now, tell me there will be no void, and I will disagree with you.

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Posted: 26 July 2007 01:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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popeth,

im not saying we cant or shouldnt plan in a broad and general sense, but that there is no absolute blueprint to change. all im saying is is that the best we can do is be prepared by getting educated, organized and active. no one can predict the future. we dont know how events will play themselves out.

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