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What is religion?
Posted: 01 May 2007 05:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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This accusation has nothing to do with this thread and I personally feel it should be taken up in PMs to the moderators and admin. if you have an issue.  I also feel this email in question needs to be sent to the adminstration and no futher discussion of it should be on the board.  I have serious doubts that Occam ever said anything like you are accusing him of, so evidence of such accusations should be submitted to the admin with headers and alike intact, not discussed in this thread or anywhere else on the board.

Likewise, I’m sure if there is a problem or question, Occam could produce his sent copy too.

So, AD, please refrain from further accusations on the board.

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Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 01 May 2007 04:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Re: Repeat, please

[quote author=“AlbanyDave”]Well, let’s start by looking at a stripped-down version of your argument, one that eliminates the incivility and boils it down to the neutral language used during critical reasoning. I believe you said that religion is any belief in the supernatural, is that correct?

If so, does that make superstitions, such as the whole Friday the 13th thing a religion, too?

Sure. Why not?

Defining the ‘term’ religion can be an interesting discussion, but you might want to be careful about trying to break up continuums into discrete boxes. Concepts tend to overlap and bleed into other concepts. For example, the Dewey Decimal System is very discrete, with particular numeric ranges for particular topics—but where do you put a book by Pat Riley about leading to victory in sports and in other areas? In the sports area, the management area, or the self-help section? At what size does a loveseat become a couch? At what second in his life did your male puppy become an adult dog?

In the end, the important question is do we understand what topics are relevant to the category ‘Religion and Secularism’? I would expect everyone here would say ‘more or less’.

I think you need to understand, dave, that people didn’t want to continue in your discussion due to comments like ‘dear doctor’. It comes off as very insincere and insulting. Personally, if you are interested in this topic, I would expect that you have some form of personal working definition—yet you have posted none. You should also understand that there have been many posters who have started similar discussions in the past that ended up being pointless, so some might react with suspicion. Mock humility does nothing to lessen anyone’s suspicion, nor does affected indignation about responses of forum posters who happen to also be moderators as if they are spokespeople for CFI.

If you want to have a discussion, discuss. If you want to quiz people, become an elementary teacher.

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Posted: 02 May 2007 03:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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Re: Repeat, please

[quote author=“dmoreau”]If you want to have a discussion, discuss. If you want to quiz people, become an elementary teacher.

I second that.  We’ve discussed definitions of religion plenty of times.  Dave just seems like he has a chip on his shoulder or something.

By the way, I would probably consider superstitions to be religions, if they were part of a SYSTEM of such beliefs, as Occam said in his original definition.  Or, we could go with DJ’s definition.

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Posted: 02 May 2007 11:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Interesting Point

Well, maybe superstitions are part of a kind of folk religion, in the way that Hoodoo and Voodoo are extensions of christianity and West African animistic beliefs.

By the way, keep your insults to yourselves. I’m not quizzing you. And if you don’t like being treated like elemetary school students, have the maturity to recognize that a question is not an insult. It’s just a question.

And I do intend to ask many questions, even the ones you don’t like. I don’t have answers to them, but I’m not intimidated by you, any of you. Or anybody else. Keep your trash talk to your own ignorant selves.

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Posted: 02 May 2007 12:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Dave: Just FYI, in case its not obvious since the forum is going through some changes:

1. Everyone here loves to talk and engage on topic of mutual interest, even to argue (as opposed to quarrel). You’re new here. So be friendly, and give everybody the benefit of the doubt. We’re all on the same side here, in that we care about asking the same sorts of questions, so dont be so quick to anger or invective. Disagree with others agreeably. The forum has rules to encourage good debating, so remember you’re part of a community here with standards for getting along.  Lets have some fun with these conversations!

2. I recently addressed exactly this question about the definition of religion in the pages of Free Inquiry, for a sidebar in an article Tom Flynn wrote reviewing a book entitled “One Nation Under Man.” An early version of it is below to further the discussion:

Wordplay for the Kingdom of Heaven
by D.J. Grothe
David Noebel, Tim LaHaye, Brandon Howse and other popular conservative writers such as Ann Coulter, David Limbaugh and Phyllis Shlafley all use a very broad definition of religion when they argue that secular humanism is the official religion of America’s public schools. They use a definition of religion which is outmoded and which no scholars in the field today use. They use a functionalist definition, which says that something is a religion if it looks like a religion, if it functions in the lives of its proponents as a religion. (According this the functionalist definition, baseball could be argued to be literally America’s religion, because of ritualized elements among the cheering fans, masses of people beginning the assemblies with a hymn, prayer or song, high states of emotion and fellow-feeling, etc.) But contrary to Noebel and his fellows, scholars today argue that whatever else a religion is, it at least needs a supernatural component, and as such, secular humanism, which is a naturalistic ethical outlook on life, can not be a religion, even if it functions in some of the ways religion does.
I have enjoyed the opportunity to debate David Nobel on a number of occasions at universities and in the media. At one of these debates on Bob Grant’s radio show out of Colorado Springs, Noebel and I discussed the definition of religion, as a first argument in the debate on whether or not secular humanism is a religion. After dismissing what I said was the consensus definition of the word religion, Noebel quoted Wittgenstein, and said that maybe it is all just a matter of one definition versus another. He proposed we look at an authority on world religions instead of merely debating terms among ourselves, and asked me to read aloud on air the table of contents from The World Religions Reader, by Ian S. Markham, a noted scholar. He asked me to start reading from the bottom of the first page of the table of contents, and to work my way upward to the first chapter. I read aloud chapter headings for Sikhism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Shintoism, Chinese Religion, Buddhism, and Hinduism. As I got closer to the top of the list, Noebel asked me to pause, and dramatically requested I read the title of the first chapter heading in the book, which he reminded me was The World Religions Reader.
That chapter was titled “Secular Humanism.” There was a pause on-air, and it seemed like a real “gotcha” moment—here a noted religions scholar included secular humanism before all the other chapters on religion in his acclaimed book on world religions. Did this not prove, indeed, that secular humanism is a religion?
Like almost never happens, I remembered an exact page number from that book which I was just weeks before reading casually. I asked Nobel to turn to page six of the book, where Markham says that of course, secular humanism “is not a religion,” even if it shares some features with religion. After an even longer dramatic pause on air, Noebel changed subjects, and we continued with the general discussion about the role of religion in education and whether “teaching the doctrines of secular humanism in the schools” was constitutional.
Why recount this story? Because certain religious activists are playing fast and loose with definitions in order to persuade school boards all over the country that by teaching evolution, they are unconstitutionally establishing secular humanism as the official religion of the United States. In fact, there is reason to suspect that Nobel and Howse seek to replace the whole liberal arts and scientific curricula, which they see as being steeped in the religion of secular humanism, with their alternative, called “Biblical Christianity.” In almost every area of inquiry, especially issues commonly surrounding the “Culture Wars” such as stem-cell research, cloning, euthanasia, gay rights, feminism, the role of religion in politics and education—and not just in science education—they argue that secular humanism and the scientific outlook has one take, and the Christian Biblical point of view, another. With this I would agree.
By knowing how they use word play to advance their agenda, citizens can be on guard and keep religious activists’ rhetoric from further influencing public policy and education in America.

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"Few have the courage of their convictions. Fewer still have the courage for an attack on their convictions." - Nietzsche

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Posted: 02 May 2007 12:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Along the lines of your extension theory, AD, I believe that religion has “evolved” from past myths.  Try this one on for size:

http://www.truthbeknown.com/mithra.htm

It’s 5 pages long by Acharya S. who wrote “The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold”.

If you want a quick visual of her ideas, someone made a video of her work:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQ-kvw1fYXs&eurl=http://www.truthbeknown.com/mithra_2.htm

It’s called Sun of God, after her latest book “Suns of God”.  Keep your eyes on the video or you miss the reading that goes with it.  I’m use to reading various myths that relate to today’s religions, but this one blew my mind.  Robert Price seems to have a lot of respect for her work and given what I know of the Souix (Lakota) religion I can see how she gets her ideas and all.  More on the Lakotas later, esp if you want more on this stuff concerning what I call “the evolution of religion”.

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Posted: 02 May 2007 05:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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If we are going to use the term ‘evolve’, then that implies that the development made some more suitable for existence (whether our existence or the existence of the idea itself, I dunno!).

Dave mentioned:

Well, maybe superstitions are part of a kind of folk religion, in the way that Hoodoo and Voodoo are extensions of christianity and West African animistic beliefs.

For me, I don’t view individual religions as coherent, consistent systems across all subscribers. If we see similar activites among certain self-identified christians and certain animists, should these behaviors be consider part of the system under which we label the individual, or as part of their personal religion, of which their interpretation of the larger label might be part?

It seems to me that everyone’s religious/spiritual/superstitious component is unique. Sometimes, instead of trying to define boundaries for what is part of a particular major religious system, it seems more useful to me to evaluate behaviors that are religious/superstitious or involve an assumption of the supernatural.

I feel that this topic, Religion and Secularism, is significant due to the traditional appeal to religious authority or superstition when making decisions and the many cases where similar methods of deciding today lead to decisions in opposition to what non-religious analysis of the situation tells us. Analyzing same-sex marriage through the lens of typical JCI* religion-derived tradition leads to answers quite different from the lens of scientific secularism. More liberal, modern theologians might disagree, but many of us here would agree that the legalism of their religion has been transformed by secularism and contradictory evidence, leading them to interpret away certain traditional beliefs of their religion.

*JCI - Judeo-Christian-Islamic

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