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Religion doesn’t hurt anything . . .
Posted: 23 January 2014 04:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 22 January 2014 05:09 AM

The Musculoskeletal, Endocrine, Cardiovascular, Neurological systems all combined to produce the destroyed clinics.

Granted, but religion was the catalyst. I posess those same systems but pass abortion clinics by without a second thought. Same with churches. My non-theistic neurological systems don’t compell me to throw a bomb in the door or shoot a fundie for Dawkins.


Cap’t Jack

You’re not made that way, then! But, others are.

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Posted: 23 January 2014 05:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Mike, just because a person might have biologically what it takes to behave a certain way, it doesn’t mean that environment doesn’t play a role. I don’t know if religious fanaticism causes people to bomb abortion clinics but I think it is possible. We do know, however, that religion was not the trigger behind 9/11 nor the bombing of Atocha train station in Madrid. All one needs to do is read Scott Atran’s book; not to be “convinced” as Darron said, but to be informed. The evidence on this topic seems pretty clear to me.

[ Edited: 23 January 2014 10:55 AM by George ]
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Posted: 23 January 2014 09:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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“When I hear from people that religion doesn’t hurt anything, I say, really? Well besides wars, the Crusades, the Inquisitions, 9-11, ethnic cleansing, the suppression of women, the suppression of homosexuals, fatwas, honor killings, suicide bombings, arranged marriages to minors, human sacrifice, burning witches, and systematic sex with children, I have a few little quibbles. And I forgot blowing up girl schools in Afghanistan.”
—Bill Maher, in an interview with Don Imus on Fox, Nov. 1, 2009

Okay slight problem of dealing with a long list. So I’m hearing many things that only apply to some items.
Category 1
Things that are explicitly stated by religious leaders:
the suppression of women, the suppression of homosexuals, fatwas, honor killings, suicide bombings, arranged marriages to minors, human sacrifice, burning witches
You could say they don’t happen all the time but I don’t see how you can say they aren’t a direct result of organized religion or gain most of their support via religion. Without religion, these would be difficult to make a case for and recruit people to do them.

Category 2
Political actions that had the support of religious leaders:
wars, the Crusades, the Inquisitions, 9-11, ethnic cleansing
These would be harder to pull off with religious support alone but they are easier to get done politically if you have the support of the people who are being told to support it by their clergy

Category 3
Things that are indirect result of religious policies
systematic sex with children, blowing up girls schools (arguably a Category 1)

That these things can happen without religion seems irrelevant to me. We agree their bad, so any motivating factor for them needs to be analyzed. There are times when I could agree that a war is a rational decision, but human sacrifice has never accomplished anything. It’s only explanation was supernatural and thankfully we’ve figured out it was wrong. And why look to religion to inform me about the justification for war?

I have no argument that religion has positive aspects, but until an actual religion steps forward and truly cleanses itself of these bad elements, I don’t see much point in discussing them. The problem is they don’t have a way to sanction others who use their same book to justify evil. In this country, they could do it fairly easily. Change the designation of religion to include rules about what they can do. A 501c3 can’t talk about politics and educational institutions have standards. If there is such a thing as “true” Christianity, let’s hear what it is.

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Posted: 23 January 2014 09:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Mike, just because a person might have biologically what it takes to behave a certain way, it doesn’t mean that environment doesn’t play a role. I don’t know if religious fanaticism causes people to bomb abortion clinics but I think it is possible. We do know, however, that religion was not the trigger behind 9/11 nor the bombing of Atocha train station in Madrid. All one needs to do is read Scott Atran’s book; not to be “convinced” as Darron said, but to be to informed. The evidence on this topic seems pretty clear to me.

You might also read Adam Lankford’s book TheMyth of Martyrdom: what really drives Suicide Bombers . His contention is, after studying the backgrounds of the most lethal terrorists, that radical groups actively seek out and use those who are mentally ill to do their dirty work but as I stated, in many cases (clearly not the Unibomber) the catalyst was religion. He included, for instance the bios of each one of the 911 terrorists and in every case they were societal pariahs with suicidal tendencies and drawn to extreme religious beliefs that promised them relief and reward from their extreme mental anguish. IOW, religion gave them the focus needed to perform this extreme act. Would they have hijacked a plane and flown it into a building knowingly killing thousands of innocent victims without a religious motive? If they wanted to committ suicide then why not just pick up a gun or jump out of a window?


Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 23 January 2014 03:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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This is rather a long quote, and it’s from a novel, but I think it might be appropriate here.

“..... generally speaking,  beliefs arise from an event or character that may or may not be authentic, and rapidly evolve into social movements that are conditioned and shaped by the political, economic and societal circumstances of the group that accepts them…..

“A large part of the mythology that develops around each of these doctrines, from its liturgy to its rules and taboos, comes from the bureaucracy generated as they develop and not from the supposed supernatural act that originated them. Most of the simple, well-intentioned anecdotes are a mixture of common sense and folklore, and all the belligerent force they eventually develop comes from a subsequent interpretation of those principles, or even their distortion at the hands of bureaucrats. The administrative and hierarchical aspects seem to be crucial in the evolution of belief systems. The truth is first revealed to all men, but very quickly individuals appear claiming sole authority and a duty to interpret, administer and, if need be, alter this truth in the name of the common good. To this end they establish a powerful and potentially repressive organization. This phenomenon, which biology shows us is common to any social group, soon transforms the doctrine into a means of achieving control and political power. Divisions, wars and breakups become inevitable. Sooner or later the Word becomes flesh and the flesh bleeds.”
                                Carlos Ruiz Zafon, “The Angels’ Game”, Phoenix, London 2010. Pages 213-214.
TFS

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Posted: 23 January 2014 09:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Lois - 22 January 2014 10:40 PM

As an atheist I feel something satisying about blaming religion for bad human actions. But I also have to be reasonable and fair. Religion is so much a part of the vast majority of the human population that it’s far too easy to blame it for a lot of things it shouldn’t be blamed for.  And because it’s so ubiquitous, it’s hard to know whether it has any real influence or how much.

Only a few religious people are driven by any religion to engage in bad acts in its name.  The majority of religious people—even very religious people—do not engage in such acts. i suspect that, more often than not, it is merely a handy attributiion for things people want to do for other reasons. Humans are human no matter what their belief system.  They tend to act in certain ways for many reasons, most of which they don’t know and can’t identify.  It’s too easy to attribute bad acts to religion because it’s here, there and everywhere and so easy to blame. As we’ve pointed out here before, morality doesn’t come from religion. It comes from human interaction and survival.  Peope attribute to religion many things, good and bad, that have no real connection to religion. We should all think twice before we fall into the trap of blaming religion for nearly every bad act. Yes,it should be blamed for some, but I think it is very rarely a driving force. There are so many other factors to be considered. It’s a lazy way of assigning blame, and a self satisfying one. Blaming religion also tends to stop us from thinking things through and finding the actual sources of bad acts. Religion is a too handy scapegoat.

Lois

It may not be the proximal cause of many destructive actions and policies that individuals and groups engage in, but religions help to create the context that make them possible in many cases. Far too often they foster a victim culture that allows followers to claim that their actions are justified due to perceived wrongs to their founders or prophets.

Speaking as someone who was part of the Christian fundamental movement in my youth, it’s hard to overstate how closely many people in that following identify with and feel empowered by the imagined martydom of Christ. The underlying context is, “look at what terrible things they did to our saviour, we must always be prepared to react by whatever means are necessary to that kind of threat in the future.” There are also close parallels with Islam and the always available resort to Jihad to “protect” the faith.

I think it’s a mistake to think of both those religions as being mostly about spirituality, Christianity in it’s present form arose out of the Roman civil war at the time of Constantine and was used as a rally point for the forces that eventually rejoined then expanded the Empire once again. It’s followed some basic patterns that have allowed it to survive and expand in an often violent and chaotic world and probably more closely represents Roman values, not true Christian ones. Lip service is given to modesty, tolerance, love for others and forgiveness, but those things are easily abandoned when the Christ the Martyr image is invoked.

So while religions may not be the root cause of some of the more destructive forces in society, they very often serve as a focal point for those forces. It’s harder to rally people around a cause that is based in critical thinking processes for instance, science offers us an alternative that while it’s less familiar to many people, is much less susceptible to being hijacked for destructive political and private interests.

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Posted: 24 January 2014 07:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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Fuzzy Logic - 23 January 2014 09:08 PM

So while religions may not be the root cause of some of the more destructive forces in society, they very often serve as a focal point for those forces. It’s harder to rally people around a cause that is based in critical thinking processes for instance, science offers us an alternative that while it’s less familiar to many people, is much less susceptible to being hijacked for destructive political and private interests.

Great points fuzzy. Maybe we shouldn’t see the process of science as bad, things like taking the necessary time to make a decision and waiting to gather evidence before charging ahead. In some cases, you have to choose based on intuition, or you are choosing to do nothing and that can be bad, but religion doesn’t make doing that any easier or any better.

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Posted: 24 January 2014 12:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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Theflyingsorcerer - 23 January 2014 03:15 PM

This is rather a long quote, and it’s from a novel, but I think it might be appropriate here.

“..... generally speaking,  beliefs arise from an event or character that may or may not be authentic, and rapidly evolve into social movements that are conditioned and shaped by the political, economic and societal circumstances of the group that accepts them…..

“A large part of the mythology that develops around each of these doctrines, from its liturgy to its rules and taboos, comes from the bureaucracy generated as they develop and not from the supposed supernatural act that originated them. Most of the simple, well-intentioned anecdotes are a mixture of common sense and folklore, and all the belligerent force they eventually develop comes from a subsequent interpretation of those principles, or even their distortion at the hands of bureaucrats. The administrative and hierarchical aspects seem to be crucial in the evolution of belief systems. The truth is first revealed to all men, but very quickly individuals appear claiming sole authority and a duty to interpret, administer and, if need be, alter this truth in the name of the common good. To this end they establish a powerful and potentially repressive organization. This phenomenon, which biology shows us is common to any social group, soon transforms the doctrine into a means of achieving control and political power. Divisions, wars and breakups become inevitable. Sooner or later the Word becomes flesh and the flesh bleeds.”
                                Carlos Ruiz Zafon, “The Angels’ Game”, Phoenix, London 2010. Pages 213-214.
TFS


Good quote.  Makes sense.

Lois

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Posted: 24 January 2014 03:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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I just heard something in a panel discussion from Jonathan Haidt. The panelists were discussing morality and some theory from Samuel Bowles came up. Haidt said we probably first cooperated in war (you could call it defending the tribe if you want to be nice), then other structures, including religion developed to support that.

I’ve heard similar theories about rituals around hunting. We hunted for survival, but we could relate to animals that had fear in their eyes and had families just like us, so we developed rituals to seek forgiveness and to condition the young warriors to participate.

I have very little to back any of this up, so if anyone can add to it, that’d be great.

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Posted: 24 January 2014 07:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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Religion v Spirituality

John Trudell explains the problems with Western society.

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Posted: 24 January 2014 11:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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I have not yet reached my finial thoughts on the subject of religion. But I have arrived at a few key points.

Key point. Most people do not understand what God is. For most of mankind “God” has been “knowledge”. The knowledge of the (what’s, why’s and where’s) of mankind’s unanswerable questions. But more than that, God has been a system that brought harmony, peace and order to mankind.

Key point. As mankind gains knowledge, god is needed less.

Key point. Religion has most likely done more good than harm for mankind overall. My guess would be that from {50,000 B.C. to 12,000 B.C.} and {7,000 B.C. to 1,200 B.C. in some areas} religion was the best system for mankind and the human race. The standard of life and harmony religion provided mankind has never been matched and most people cannot even imagine the level of goodness it brought. I think history will show that mankind’s greatest advances on earth so far happen during these periods of harmony. Without the domestication of plants and animals the earth would still be a hostile place for mankind and mankind would not been able to populate the earth. This is why the story handed down to us is that “God” made earth for mankind. In a way this is a very true statement. 

There is almost nothing we eat or any animals we use today that was not created during this Domestication Period except that that was created in the America’s during a latter Domestication Period (corn and potato). We have made improvements on what was created during this Domestication Period. But we have not done anything that has helped mankind as much as the Domestication Period did. The closest thing is the advances in medicine. But without domestication the plagues could not have happened because the earth could not have supported large populations.
   
As god is need less and the knowledge is under man’s control, it is how mankind handles this knowledge that will show if mankind is better off without god. The wars and weapons sure don’t look like man is doing too good of a job. Man has not yet reached the knowledge level to handle marriage, birth and death as good as god yet. But key parts of the management of the God system of the past does not exist today. The old god system controlled power and greed and that part of the god system has been lost.

Mankind needs to quickly understand that man is a part of earth and we better get mankind’s knowledge under control and into a system that benefits both man and earth because we are just now ready to step into a period of mankind’s history with science and technology that will match or surpass the benefits and accomplishments of the Domestication Period. 

Mike

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Posted: 25 January 2014 01:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Lausten - 23 January 2014 09:26 AM

“When I hear from people that religion doesn’t hurt anything, I say, really? Well besides wars, the Crusades, the Inquisitions, 9-11, ethnic cleansing, the suppression of women, the suppression of homosexuals, fatwas, honor killings, suicide bombings, arranged marriages to minors, human sacrifice, burning witches, and systematic sex with children, I have a few little quibbles. And I forgot blowing up girl schools in Afghanistan.”
—Bill Maher, in an interview with Don Imus on Fox, Nov. 1, 2009

Okay slight problem of dealing with a long list. So I’m hearing many things that only apply to some items.
Category 1
Things that are explicitly stated by religious leaders:
the suppression of women, the suppression of homosexuals, fatwas, honor killings, suicide bombings, arranged marriages to minors, human sacrifice, burning witches
You could say they don’t happen all the time but I don’t see how you can say they aren’t a direct result of organized religion or gain most of their support via religion. Without religion, these would be difficult to make a case for and recruit people to do them.

Category 2
Political actions that had the support of religious leaders:
wars, the Crusades, the Inquisitions, 9-11, ethnic cleansing
These would be harder to pull off with religious support alone but they are easier to get done politically if you have the support of the people who are being told to support it by their clergy

Category 3
Things that are indirect result of religious policies
systematic sex with children, blowing up girls schools (arguably a Category 1)

That these things can happen without religion seems irrelevant to me. We agree their bad, so any motivating factor for them needs to be analyzed. There are times when I could agree that a war is a rational decision, but human sacrifice has never accomplished anything. It’s only explanation was supernatural and thankfully we’ve figured out it was wrong. And why look to religion to inform me about the justification for war?

I have no argument that religion has positive aspects, but until an actual religion steps forward and truly cleanses itself of these bad elements, I don’t see much point in discussing them. The problem is they don’t have a way to sanction others who use their same book to justify evil. In this country, they could do it fairly easily. Change the designation of religion to include rules about what they can do. A 501c3 can’t talk about politics and educational institutions have standards. If there is such a thing as “true” Christianity, let’s hear what it is.

If it’s irrelevant to you that those acts can occur without religion, then I would say you’re simply anti-religion.

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Posted: 25 January 2014 01:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 23 January 2014 09:46 AM

Mike, just because a person might have biologically what it takes to behave a certain way, it doesn’t mean that environment doesn’t play a role. I don’t know if religious fanaticism causes people to bomb abortion clinics but I think it is possible. We do know, however, that religion was not the trigger behind 9/11 nor the bombing of Atocha train station in Madrid. All one needs to do is read Scott Atran’s book; not to be “convinced” as Darron said, but to be to informed. The evidence on this topic seems pretty clear to me.

You might also read Adam Lankford’s book TheMyth of Martyrdom: what really drives Suicide Bombers . His contention is, after studying the backgrounds of the most lethal terrorists, that radical groups actively seek out and use those who are mentally ill to do their dirty work but as I stated, in many cases (clearly not the Unibomber) the catalyst was religion. He included, for instance the bios of each one of the 911 terrorists and in every case they were societal pariahs with suicidal tendencies and drawn to extreme religious beliefs that promised them relief and reward from their extreme mental anguish. IOW, religion gave them the focus needed to perform this extreme act. Would they have hijacked a plane and flown it into a building knowingly killing thousands of innocent victims without a religious motive? If they wanted to committ suicide then why not just pick up a gun or jump out of a window?


Cap’t Jack

Interesting, I finished that book recently, and my impression was that Lankford was claiming the 9-11 people were not religiously motivated. Maybe I misread.

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Posted: 25 January 2014 06:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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I haven’t read that book, but I don’t think Jack is saying they were motivated by religion; he said it “gave them the focus.” I can see how that’s possible. You need some form of ideology (be it religion, patriotism, belief in “democracy,” etc.) to help a group of people behave like one body. It probably also helps to fight the fear of death. But none of this means that religion was the reason behind 9/11. And the same probably goes for the people who bomb abortion clinics. It’s their inborn sense of extreme conservatism that makes them fear change and act upon it, and they merely use religion to justify their actions. And since we all know how easy it is to cherry-pick from any religious writing, we can see how people with totally different ideas, say, MLK, can use the same tool to support their goal. It’s a tool just like any other. Use a knife to cut a slice of bread or use it to kill the baker to steal the slice of bread from him.

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Posted: 25 January 2014 06:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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And what I said above must be true for even an ideology like humanism. Most humanists and liberals probably score very high on openness and are what we generally refer to as “nice people.” IOW, they were born that way. In order to justify their beliefs, though, say, “all men are born equal,” you need a system to be able to bring everyone together and to tone down their individuality. We are social animals and we have evolved to survive in groups. Ideologies simply help to make it happen, but they are not the primary trigger behind our actions.

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