Religion, Tolerance
Posted: 14 January 2009 07:30 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Religion is a manifestation of irrationality.
Irrationality is harmful.
We must fight irrationality.
___________________
We must fight religion.

The argument above is a sound (valid and true) argument, though many wouldn’t agree with the conclusion, pleading to “tolerance”.


My question is, given that the premise is true,  _how_ do we want the government to fight irrationalism (religion), so it doesn’t degenerate into violation of freedoms?

I had 2 ideas :

(1) Making strong laws that protect freedom of speech _inside_ minority groups. That would lead to people being able to stand and argue with their preacher in public without fear of repression.

(2) Sponsoring organisations like Center for Inquiry, or _at least_ csicop.

What do you think?

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Posted: 14 January 2009 07:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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It’s not a valid argument. You need an additional premise:

For all Xs that are manifested by Ys, if we must fight Ys we must fight Xs.

I don’t know that that is a true premise. If it isn’t, then the (modified) argument isn’t sound.

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Posted: 14 January 2009 10:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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A less sophisticated criticism is that “Irrationality is harmful” translates to “All irrationality is harmful”, and I don’t think that premis can be justified.

Occam

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Posted: 14 January 2009 10:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Good point, Occam. Another issue is that “We must fight irrationality” should itself be the conclusion of a mini-deduction, from:

(1) Irrationality is harmful

And a new premise:

(2) We must fight all things that are harmful.

But it’s not clear that this premise (2) is true, either. I mean, there are some things that are harmful, but do very little harm. There are some harmful things that are positively beneficial under certain conditions (think of chemotherapy drugs that are really very powerful poisons).

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Posted: 14 January 2009 10:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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dougsmith - 14 January 2009 07:37 AM

It’s not a valid argument. You need an additional premise:

For all Xs that are manifested by Ys, if we must fight Ys we must fight Xs.

I don’t know that that is a true premise. If it isn’t, then the (modified) argument isn’t sound.

I didn’t understand. What do you mean by manifestation?

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Posted: 14 January 2009 10:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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wandering - 14 January 2009 10:51 AM

I didn’t understand. What do you mean by manifestation?


question

It’s your word ... I was using it to construct a valid argument.

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Posted: 14 January 2009 11:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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dougsmith - 14 January 2009 10:58 AM
wandering - 14 January 2009 10:51 AM

I didn’t understand. What do you mean by manifestation?


question

It’s your word ... I was using it to construct a valid argument.

LOL.

Sorry.


For every X, that is a manifestation of Y, if we must fight Y, we must fight X.

Then it is a valid argument. But why shouldn’t the above be true?

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Posted: 14 January 2009 11:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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wandering - 14 January 2009 11:44 AM

But why shouldn’t the above be true?

Maybe there are things that we should fight, but the manifestations of which we should not.

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Posted: 14 January 2009 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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dougsmith - 14 January 2009 11:55 AM
wandering - 14 January 2009 11:44 AM

But why shouldn’t the above be true?

Maybe there are things that we should fight, but the manifestations of which we should not.

Ugh… A manifestation in this context is a something like “an instance of”.

I could also say “We should fight irrationality”
“Religion is an instance of irrationality”.
“We should fight religion”.

What sense there is to fight something, but not fight its instances?


Maybe you can give me a counter-example (if you have one)?

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Posted: 06 February 2009 10:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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the problem is not with irrationality itself but with how people behave under its influence. 

certain expressions (manifestations) of irrationality are perfectly benign or even desireable (the creative arts for instance).

eliminating all manifestations of irrationality would make for a very boring world.

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Posted: 06 February 2009 08:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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wandering - 14 January 2009 07:30 AM

Religion is a manifestation of irrationality.
Irrationality is harmful.
We must fight irrationality.
___________________
We must fight religion.

The argument above is a sound (valid and true) argument, though many wouldn’t agree with the conclusion, pleading to “tolerance”.


My question is, given that the premise is true,  _how_ do we want the government to fight irrationalism (religion), so it doesn’t degenerate into violation of freedoms?

I had 2 ideas :

(1) Making strong laws that protect freedom of speech _inside_ minority groups. That would lead to people being able to stand and argue with their preacher in public without fear of repression.

(2) Sponsoring organisations like Center for Inquiry, or _at least_ csicop.

What do you think?

Tempting as it is to do it this way, we’re not going to win many battles with the kind of strategy suggested by your formal argument. Our best approach, I believe, is to present our own vision to the broader community, not merely as an argument but as a visible way of life - in other words, we must show the community what we believe by our actions.

If we ever get our collective act together and live what we say we believe, joyfully and with a degree of dignity that people admire, then we will begin to attract more people. When the community comes to us of its own free will, we will have won the battle and the war. Until it does, we probably can’t win no matter how many laws are on the books. This means that we must present something that appeals to the community on all levels, not just the intellectual. In fact, the intellectual level is the least persuasive to most people. That’s a sad fact but it is a fact. The good news is that we can succeed in all the domains (thought, emotion and action) but first we must discard our baggage. I’m arguing for a religious response to religion, with one difference: we omit the supernatural.

My formal objection to your argument is the same one that generated a heated but fascinating discussion (to my eye) with Doug a week ago. We’re going to keep losing arguments if we don’t stop treating religion only as a collection of rules, creeds, dogmas and doctrines. There is an experiential and emotional side to religion, which may be non-rational but it’s not irrational. The hill ahead of us is more than steep enough without our making it steeper.

Regarding your two suggestions, the devil of any law is in the details. Specifically what laws do you have in mind? I’d be interested in suggestions for strengthing CFI and expanding its appeal.

[ Edited: 06 February 2009 08:55 PM by PLaClair ]
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I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

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Posted: 06 February 2009 10:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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wandering - 14 January 2009 07:30 AM

Religion is a manifestation of irrationality.

My question is, given that the premise is true,  _how_ do we want the government to fight irrationalism (religion), so it doesn’t degenerate into violation of freedoms?

I had 2 ideas :

(1) Making strong laws that protect freedom of speech _inside_ minority groups. That would lead to people being able to stand and argue with their preacher in public without fear of repression.

(2) Sponsoring organisations like Center for Inquiry, or _at least_ csicop.

What do you think?

I think tax exemption for non-profits is as far as it should go government should not be able to endorse creeds even secular ones. Allowing endorsement of cfi or csicop would open up the door later for a national church.

Free speech and activism may help. I also like Daniel Dennet’s idea of having a world religions class in public schools.

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Posted: 07 February 2009 09:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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danlhinz - 06 February 2009 10:31 PM

I think tax exemption for non-profits is as far as it should go government should not be able to endorse creeds even secular ones. Allowing endorsement of cfi or csicop would open up the door later for a national church.

Free speech and activism may help. I also like Daniel Dennet’s idea of having a world religions class in public schools.

absolutely. i have heard many atheists report that exposure to different religions was their reason for de-converting.  smile

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Posted: 07 February 2009 09:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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danlhinz - 06 February 2009 10:31 PM

I think tax exemption for non-profits is as far as it should go government should not be able to endorse creeds even secular ones. Allowing endorsement of cfi or csicop would open up the door later for a national church.

Free speech and activism may help. I also like Daniel Dennet’s idea of having a world religions class in public schools.

How do you define a “creed” for legal purposes?

Take an example: “No person shall be discriminated against on account of race, gender or ethnic background.” Why isn’t that a creed? If it is a creed, what are the implications of government not being able to endorse it?

On the other hand, maybe you’re referring more to organizations. I’m not sure. But even if you are, how can a set of legal rules be constructed around your idea? The ugly little secret of the relationship between government and religion (even secular religions) is that there is no such thing as government without a values system. The religious right keeps making that point, and of course distorting it to make another point; but the basic point is right on the money, and undeniable.

As I’ve said before, the devil is in the details. I doubt that a prohibition against government endorsing any creeds can be accomplished.

I like Dennett’s idea too.

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I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

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Posted: 07 February 2009 11:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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PLaClair - 07 February 2009 09:58 AM

How do you define a “creed” for legal purposes?

Take an example: “No person shall be discriminated against on account of race, gender or ethnic background.” Why isn’t that a creed? If it is a creed, what are the implications of government not being able to endorse it?

On the other hand, maybe you’re referring more to organizations. I’m not sure. But even if you are, how can a set of legal rules be constructed around your idea? The ugly little secret of the relationship between government and religion (even secular religions) is that there is no such thing as government without a values system. The religious right keeps making that point, and of course distorting it to make another point; but the basic point is right on the money, and undeniable.

As I’ve said before, the devil is in the details. I doubt that a prohibition against government endorsing any creeds can be accomplished.

I like Dennett’s idea too.

A creed is a statement of belief — usually religious belief — or faith often recited as part of a religious service. The word derives from the Latin: credo for I believe and credimus for we believe. It is sometimes called symbol (Greek: σύμβολο[ν]), signifying a “token” by which persons of like beliefs might recognize each other.

(WIKI)

In this case the creed is simple our creed would be we deny religious belief. Obviously in a more broad sense you could call the constitution a set of creeds. In this case I mean any institution making religious claims or political ones should not get subsidies from the government. At best they should be allowed tax exemption for being a non-profit. You really wouldn’t want the government giving money to your institution anyway because they will shortly have you under their control.

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