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Posted: 31 May 2007 08:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Right now on another forum, my husband is hip deep in a discussion on this very topic….with religious people and apologists.  He doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere fast.  I find he has an even temper toward ignorance that I cannot display; therefore he is much more suited to that type of discussion than I am. 

The common argument that is being posed to him at this point is that religion does so much good in the world….how can it be wrong?? or why mess with a good thing?? why tear down traditions and the basis for our moral society when it works so well?? People need guidance and a moral compass, religion gives it to them…if you take this away from people…you are causing more harm than good.

We have tried to explain that our moral compass does not come from religion but is only mirrored within religion and that people can be good without the baggage of religious dogma…..but this requires the ability to think critically…and from what I have found….you can’t teach people to think when their minds are dried up figs left over from the Cold War.

Questioning religion requires people to put into question the very things that make their world safe and good.  I cannot expect to change their minds any more than I can expect for them to change mine; however, I do believe that it is our responsibility as non-believers to show these people that there is another way to live and to be happy and to do good in the world….and provide them with firm examples of living this type of life.

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Posted: 31 May 2007 08:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Good?  It does good?  I always thought it caused misery, violence (be it verbal or physical), and war.  Islam wants to kill all the infidels, which includes Christians, Christianity has also had it’s fair share of violence and if you want my honest opinion about the this lame war with Iraq, it’s nothing more by a Crusade/Ji’had.

Christianity was based on violence, barbarism, and cannibalism- Cruxifiction, Cruxifiction, and Communion.  Add to that oppressing the majority of people by layering on guilt, shame, and anti-intellectualism.  I could go on and on and on about that.  Judaism isn’t too much better in that respect.  Islam is just as bad if not worse.  It’s not for the human being, although Jewish people would try to tell you theirs is.  Christianity and Islam’s biggest thing is emotional abuse and human indignity, which in turn keeps people in the religions because it does not allow any room for thinking for one’s self.

Throw on top if it that it is just an evolution of mythology- it evolved from myth.  I’m sure everyone here can list all the myths it evolved from, so I won’t go into that one.

It’s a shame those trapped in it can not see all of this and when you talk to them, they deny it all and insist their way is the right way and only way.  Jesus said, “I’ve come not to bring peace, but a sword” and many a holy war has been based off that line.  rolleyes

Sorry, that’s my early morning rant about religion.

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Posted: 31 May 2007 09:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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This is a list of organizations that are religious, based on, or started by religions as provided by one of the persons currently arguing with my husband:

The Red Cross
The Salvation Army
Boy Scouts
Girl Scouts
YMCA
Big Sisters Big Brother (originally Catholic Sisters of NY)
I can’t name all the Hospitals
Catholic Charities
Feed the Children
The United Way
Schools

How do you argue with this? Most of these organizations do good…but do they do good for the sake of doing good or do they do good because God expects them to do good and will reward them for it?  I think Harris pointed that out in his"letter”.  Is goodness limited to only religious organizations?? I say no, but there is a lot more of them so statistically it is more likely that more religious organization will be doing “good deeds” rather than non-religious….so it makes the argument a mute point to me….but anytime someone seems to bring up the necessity of doing away with religious dogmatism….this is one of the first arguments that you get.

I think for some it boils down to the fact that the good offerings of religion far outweigh the bad…...but this is coming from American 20th-century white protestant folk who wouldn’t know persecution if it was smacking them in the face.

Can anyone offer counter examples of purely secular or science-based organizations that do just as much good if not more than these relgious organizations?? I know of a few: Doctors without Borders, Grameen, and Oxfam. I would really love to research any more organizations that you guys can suggest.

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Posted: 31 May 2007 11:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Hmmm ... it’s well to remember that many of these social services organizations discriminate based on religious prejudices. E.g., the Salvation Army HERE and HERE, the Boy and Girl Scouts HERE, etc. Many of the religious charities were begun partly for reasons of proselytization: give the guy a cookie and he’s more likely to think highly of your religion and become a member.

Schools were sectarian for reasons of indoctrination. That is often still the case today.

That said, given that something like 80-90% of present-day Americans are religious, and similar numbers of Europeans in past centuries, we should expect by simple force of numbers that religious people would be starting charities and running them according to their religious beliefs. To take one example, the Red Cross was definitely begun for religious reasons, but now is almost entirely secular.

It is also a straw-man argument to claim that religion or religious organizations are entirely-100%-bad. Clearly they do do some good, and some religious teachings about helping the poor and needy are very welcome. But if a religious person is doing charity work without proselytizing, they are inherently acting in a secular context. And a secular, non-religious person is perfectly capable of doing the same thing—indeed, many do.

So I would argue that insofar as charity work is explicitly religious it amounts to proselytization and is in fact of no use to anyone. Insofar as it is not explicitly religious it is secular.

One should also point out that much good has been done in the world by science itself in curing disease, raising standards of living worldwide, raising longevity, and so forth. Virtually none of this was done by the church, and much of it was done in opposition to church teachings.

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Posted: 31 May 2007 12:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Thanks for the links, Doug.  I appreciate it.  This is exactly what I thought the first time that I read the “list”.  I will add here that there is no way that I could use those links against these people that we are currently arguing with….the first one if from the ACLU and the other is from the Washington Post.  To these guys, those two things are like hammer and nail that cruxified Jesus to the cross.  I am truly not kidding here.  I have been shot down more than once using any material from a liberal source.  Biased you know.  rolleyes

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Posted: 31 May 2007 12:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Well, the ACLU is suing them, so I can understand that they might not like the source ... OTOH do they really doubt that this sort of discrimination goes on in religious institutions? Or, more likely, are they liable to agree with it?

The issues here aren’t so much about the facts as the interpretation—as the Post quotes the Salvation Army saying, “(White House officials) first want to move the charitable choice provisions in the legislation and use the political momentum of this effort to push forward religious exemptions to domestic partnership benefit ordinances and municipal contract clauses that protect against any form of sexual orientation discrimination.”

It’s quite clear that they want to discriminate. Quoting the article, “White House press secretary Ari Fleischer added that faith-based groups already have the power under federal law to discriminate against gays in hiring. It is state and local laws that try to impose on groups to include gays in their employment protections.”

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Posted: 31 May 2007 12:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Oh, no. No doubt at all.  It happens all the time I am sure.

Plus, any gay issue is a non issue with these guys too….so I can’t argue using discrimination against homosexuals….Now, religious organizations are using the first ammendment to justify their use of hate speech stating that since homosexuality is against their religion the “statements and hateful acts” used against them is religious in nature therefore it falls under freedom of religion.  It boggles the mind.

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Posted: 31 May 2007 01:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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ensorcelled - 31 May 2007 12:59 PM

... so I can’t argue using discrimination against homosexuals ...

Why do you say you can’t?

I assume you mean that you can’t argue that way because they won’t find it convincing. ... Because they themselves are bigoted. OK, but that doesn’t mean you can’t argue that way. You won’t convince them, that’s true, but you might very well convince a more moderate believer. They are likely unconvinceable anyway.

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Posted: 31 May 2007 02:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Doug,

I certainly agree with your statements about the organizations listed, with the minor exception that I don’t think it’s entirely accurate to lump Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, since the former is aggressively discriminatory against non-theists and homosexuals and the latter is studiously neutral on both topics (see HERE.) GSUSA doesn’t go as far nationally as I’d like to repudiate religious and sexuality discrimination, but the national organization leaves the local groups plenty of room to organize as they see fit, which is a reasonable compromise I think. Anyway, doesn’t undermine your general point at all; just trying to be accurate and fair.

And in being fair, I agree that many religious-based organizations do great good. I think secular organizations can and do as much good without the harms of being discriminatory and forcing a particular POV on the recipients of their good works. I don’t think religion has to be involved in the drive to be chritable and compassionate, and so while it often is, this is not an argument for the necessity of it nor an exculpation of the harms it does.

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Posted: 31 May 2007 02:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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dougsmith - 31 May 2007 01:24 PM
ensorcelled - 31 May 2007 12:59 PM

... so I can’t argue using discrimination against homosexuals ...

Why do you say you can’t?

I assume you mean that you can’t argue that way because they won’t find it convincing. ... Because they themselves are bigoted. OK, but that doesn’t mean you can’t argue that way. You won’t convince them, that’s true, but you might very well convince a more moderate believer. They are likely unconvinceable anyway.


Been there, done that…....over and over and over again.  I think you hit the proverbial nail on the head when you said “unconvinceable”.....and uncompromising.  I know the issue of homosexuality is a very contenious one to say the least, but from my experience…...they are able to write anything off if it even smells of a liberal agenda.

[ Edited: 31 May 2007 02:15 PM by ensorcelled ]
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Posted: 31 May 2007 02:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Brennen,

Thanks for the clarification. It sounds to me like the Girl Scouts are mildly bigoted, but not as bad as the Boy Scouts. Still problematic, IMO, but good to point out the difference.

Ensorcelled,

Just remember that decades ago you would have been having those same conversations about women and African-Americans, or even about Jews and Catholics. It’s the good fight. And there’s nothing wrong with the “liberal agenda”.

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Posted: 31 May 2007 02:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Of course not!!!  I hope that is not the impression that you got!!  I am just regurgitating the verbage that is being used by the other side in order to illustrate how frustrating it truly is fighting the good fight from here in my sleepy little burg. 

A little history:

The county I live in is still dry.  surprised
We have a “moist” ultra small city just to our south that just went this way last year…....and now the forces are trying to get a vote on the ballot to repeal the “moistness”.
You cannot swing a dead cat without hitting a Baptist church.
We have only one Catholic church in our whole county and it is made up of primarily Mexican worker-immigrants.
We are a farming community with a very large population that is below poverty level.

Gee, just typing that is making me depressed.  shut eye

We have a great lot of wonderful things around here too….but our community….and probably many many many more across this great land of ours are entrenched in religious dogma and that makes it very very hard to get your foot in the door regarding open discussion about religion…. without leaving the conversation with someone’s foot somewhere where you don’t really want it.

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Posted: 31 May 2007 02:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Doug’s right, they also do harm too by discriminating.  The only secular organization I know of that helps people, and I could be wrong about it being secular, is Planned Parenthood,  BUT the religious will argue that they are doing bad.  rolleyes

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Posted: 31 May 2007 02:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Oh, sorry ensorcelled, I didn’t think you were attacking the “liberal agenda” ... I was just pointing out the obvious ...

wink

Planned Parenthood is a fantastic organization. In NY we also have places like the Henry Street Settlement and The Children’s Aid Society which are entirely secular. (The latter was begun by a minister but so far as I know has no religious content anymore).

HERE is a recent list of recommended NY charities by New York magazine. Really very few of them are explicitly sectarian.

And let’s not forget the huge charity work done by foundations like the Carnegie, Ford, Rockefeller and now Gates ... once again, none of which are religious. (Carnegie was pretty explicitly an atheist/agnostic, as is Gates and Buffett).

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Posted: 31 May 2007 06:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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I understand your frustration, En.  An atheist friend asked me to join a very large public forum called Above Top Secret.  I did so and went to the Below Top Secret sub-forum.  Then I went to the Faith board.  It was quite active, so I read some of the posts and began to respond using biblical data and reason.  All the responses I got were of the nature, “I’ll pray for you” and “You’re wrong.  I believe and nothing you can say is truth.  Just have faith and you’ll be saved.” 

After a few days of this I tried another tack.  I posted the two sets of Decalogues from Exodus 20 and from Exodus 33:10-26.  The first set are just dumb; the second are crazy.  I asked why Christians follow the first set when God replaced them with the second set?  What I got was complete confusion, more praying for me, and telling me that if I had faith, I could understand.  But, no explanations. 

Unlike most of the other religious threads that remained quite active, this one died quickly.

I realized that I was wasting my time so I left.

I suggest you and your husband do the same.  It’s just plain frustrating, and about as challenging as discussing with your house cat how relativity and quantum theory can be reconciled.

Occam

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