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Sam Harris - The End of Faith (April 7th)
Posted: 07 April 2006 03:26 PM   [ Ignore ]
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The latest episode of Point of Inquiry features an interview with Sam Harris, author of the [i:bc847ca11d]New York Times[/i:bc847ca11d] bestseller, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. Mr. Harris is a graduate in philosophy from Stanford University and has studied both Eastern and Western religious traditions, along with a variety of contemplative disciplines, for twenty years. His work has been discussed in The New York Times, The [i:bc847ca11d]Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, The Economist, The Guardian, The Independent, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, New Scientist, SEED Magazine, Stanford Magazine[/i:bc847ca11d], and many other journals. Mr. Harris makes regular appearances on television and radio to discuss the danger that religion now poses to modern societies. The End of Faith won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction.

In this discussion with DJ Grothe, Harris explores what he calls the dangers of religion, and argues that because of their destructive consequences, religious beliefs should not be given special place in our society.

You can listen online at http://www.pointofinquiry.org or subscribe through iTunes or another "podcatcher."

Point of Inquiry is the Center for Inquiry’s radio show and podcast, drawing on CFI’s relationship with the leading minds of the day including Nobel Prize-winning scientists, public intellectuals, social critics and thinkers, and renowned entertainers. Each episode combines incisive interviews, features, and commentary focusing on CFI’s three research areas: pseudoscience and the paranormal, alternative medicine, and religion and secularism.

Past episodes include interviews with Richard Dawkins, Chris Mooney, Eugiene Scott, Max Maven, Ibn Warraq, Susan Jacoby, Andrew Skolnick, Wallace Sampson, Joe Nickel, Paul Kurtz, Jamy Ian Swiss, Nobel Laureate Herbert Hauptman, and others—all of which are still available for free online.

Website: http://www.pointofinquiry.org
RSS feed: http://pointofinquiry.libsyn.com/rss

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Posted: 07 April 2006 03:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Sam Harris - The End of Faith (April 7th)

The latest episode of Point of Inquiry features an interview with Sam Harris, author of the New York Times bestseller, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. Mr. Harris is a graduate in philosophy from Stanford University and has studied both Eastern and Western religious traditions, along with a variety of contemplative disciplines, for twenty years. His work has been discussed in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, The Economist, The Guardian, The Independent, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, New Scientist, SEED Magazine, Stanford Magazine, and many other journals. Mr. Harris makes regular appearances on television and radio to discuss the danger that religion now poses to modern societies. The End of Faith won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction.

In this discussion with DJ Grothe, Harris explores what he calls the dangers of religion, and argues that because of their destructive consequences, religious beliefs should not be given special place in our society.

You can listen online at http://www.pointofinquiry.org or subscribe through iTunes or another “podcatcher.”

Point of Inquiry is the Center for Inquiry’s radio show and podcast, drawing on CFI’s relationship with the leading minds of the day including Nobel Prize-winning scientists, public intellectuals, social critics and thinkers, and renowned entertainers. Each episode combines incisive interviews, features, and commentary focusing on CFI’s three research areas: pseudoscience and the paranormal, alternative medicine, and religion and secularism.

Past episodes include interviews with Richard Dawkins, Chris Mooney, Eugiene Scott, Max Maven, Ibn Warraq, Susan Jacoby, Andrew Skolnick, Wallace Sampson, Joe Nickel, Paul Kurtz, Jamy Ian Swiss, Nobel Laureate Herbert Hauptman, and others—all of which are still available for free online.

Website: http://www.pointofinquiry.org
RSS feed: http://pointofinquiry.libsyn.com/rss

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Thomas Donnelly
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tdonnelly (at) centerforinquiry.net
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Posted: 08 April 2006 05:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I enjoyed the talk with Sam Harris ... I thought he came across as very incisive and reasoned. I was unfamiliar with his work, but prompted by Austin Dacey at the NY center of the CfI, I recently picked up a copy of his book and read it through. In general he should be applauded for raising issues which are seldom talked about—certainly his attack on the notion of “faith” is long overdue.

But I had some problems with the book as well. Harris unfortunately also claims belief in psychic abilities (in one paragraph), and in the latter half of the book attempts construction of an atheistic ethics and spirituality. This part is much less successful. The atheistic ethics is basically little more than a scrawl. It would have been better just to give a run-down of such schools as exist in present-day philosophy—of which there are many. The spirituality section depends heavily on Buddhist and Hindu/Jain ideas of meditation and awareness of mental states. All well and good, but Harris seems a bit too credulous of the rationality of Eastern philosophies. Some schools are decent, but taking Buddhism in particular, Mahayana is a form of polytheism, and Madhyamika is basically nihilist, none of which Harris really confronts.

Also, all these eastern schools depend at base on unscientific notions of karma and reincarnation.

I am in total agreement with Harris that eastern religions (Buddhism in particular) are miles better than their western counterparts (the “Religions of the Book”) in being oriented less towards confrontation, more towards internal contemplation and rational, analytical thinking. However, one should not sugarcoat the truth: there is perhaps as much distance between Christianity and Buddhism as there is between Buddhism and any kind of secular science-based Humanism.

Hence I would caution against too much adherence to the mystical and spiritual eastern traditions in constructing any sort of atheist spritualism. Meditation and awareness may all be well and good; much of the ideological baggage that goes along with it—even in Buddhism—is less palatable.

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Posted: 11 April 2006 10:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I agree with Doug about the latter half of Sam’s book, it almost seems as if it was written as a sop to the notion of “humanity’s spiritual side” and I don’t believe we should give an inch to that claim. Could he have found a publisher without it? Yes but I’ll bet not the one that published the book.

It was Sam’s book that dug me out of my calm disbelieving existence. He convinced me that all of us who don’t hold or respect “religious belief” had to come out of the closet and work together with others to try to stop the slide we are on into religious war.

We had to try to organize ourselves into groups and begin to respond to the claims in the media such as - Islam is benign - Christ was a great moralist, Christianity/Judaism/Islam is the one true religion, you pick which one, etc.etc. Of course it was shortly after that that I attended a meeting in my home community to organize a CFI community there.

A final comment, The descriptions in the first half of the book show how all religions in the past have wreaked horrible vengeance upon those the religion thought heretics. Islam is just the one doing it now. Religions that require their adherents to believe they and only they have the way to the one true god do great harm, far more than they do good.

But Sam’s solution is not adequate, if we all try to publicly test every tenet of whatever religion is available at the moment;  expose it to ridicule and the light of reason, try to publish the silliness of a particular belief etc. I think it gets us nowhere except in Georgia where we maybe are arrested on some cooked up charge.

The public’s belief systems are too strong to attack and no one will listen to a reasoned approach to any of them. What do I think we should do? I don’t know and honestly, I feel now that I’m out there trying that we can’t help what is about to happen to us.

Jim Hurley

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Posted: 26 April 2006 12:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Oh man, sorry this is so long. But you opened a can o’ worms

[quote author=“jimmiekeyes”] I agree with Doug about the latter half of Sam’s book, it almost seems as if it was written as a sop to the notion of “humanity’s spiritual side” and I don’t believe we should give an inch to that claim. Could he have found a publisher without it? Yes but I’ll bet not the one that published the book.

Very interesting.  After hearing about Sam on Penn’s podcast, then listening to his interview on the PoI one, I was going to pick up the book soon.  Still may.

But, like you, I don’t feel the need to fill the spiritual hole with another mystical thing.  The world (and cosmos) as they exist are marvelous enough for me.  I posited for awhile that, if anyone needed a mystical fix, perhaps “grooving” on the complexity of the real could fill that void.  Some of us can escape that “fill the void” trap.  Or have we filled it with “rationalism” as a cause?  Hmm.

It was Sam’s book that dug me out of my calm disbelieving existence. He convinced me that all of us who don’t hold or respect “religious belief” had to come out of the closet and work together with others to try to stop the slide we are on into religious war.

We had to try to organize ourselves into groups and begin to respond to the claims in the media such as - Islam is benign - Christ was a great moralist, Christianity/Judaism/Islam is the one true religion, you pick which one, etc.etc. Of course it was shortly after that that I attended a meeting in my home community to organize a CFI community there.

Okay, guess I’d better buy the book…even if I then must “discount” the spiritual argument.  I agree with you that we need to come out of the closet, be heard, organize.  The Religions have an infrastructure.  That means being able to act in concert, be seen acting in concert (thereby gaining notice, acceptance, policy change), amass capital to achieve their ends (same effects).

We don’t really have anything to rival that.  CFI, etc. are a good start.  What we need, essentially, is a Church of the Rational (with its attendant tax benefits, etc.).  I’ve heard atheists who say “hey, I’m just gonna quietly disbelieve over here on my own.  Just don’t let the fundies get in my face. ..etc.”  They’ve got a “whatever” attitude.  Turning the other cheek (and waiting for the fundies to slap that one too).

That won’t work.  They’re organized now.  They’re bent on legislating our “whatever” rights away.  We’ve gotta do something about it.  Together.  But what?

There it gets tricky.  We don’t all disbelieve in all the same stuff.  Difficult to establish a credo.  Freethinkers.org?  An “organization” of those who think freely?  Seems oxymoronic.

In The Life of Brian, when the crowd has gathered outside his apartment, he tells them, “You don’t have to [follow this leader or that one].  You’re all individuals.”  “We’re all individuals” they chant in unison.  Then one guy pipes up “I’m not”.

Hilarious.  Satiric.  Sad.

We rationalists ARE individualistic.  We may tend to reject any centralized credo.  “Who are they to say what’s rational?” we’d say of the organizers.  But if we don’t hang together, I think it’s very likely we’ll all hang separately.

What can we do?  Grass roots meetings of likeminded folk?  Use MeetUp.com and other such sites.  Make our own similar one?  Just a few ideas on starting points.

A problem with all of this is that people are passionate about their faith.  Passionate enough to meet, to act, to pay…even, some times, to break their own rules to accomplish their ends.

We need some of that same passion.  These are just a few thoughts and ideas.  I’d love to see what others here and elsewhere could add to the conversation.  And what, if any, actions we can pursue to advance OUR cause.

A final comment, The descriptions in the first half of the book show how all religions in the past have wreaked horrible vengeance upon those the religion thought heretics. Islam is just the one doing it now. Religions that require their adherents to believe they and only they have the way to the one true god do great harm, far more than they do good.

Yes, Yes, YES.

But Sam’s solution is not adequate, if we all try to publicly test every tenet of whatever religion is available at the moment;  expose it to ridicule and the light of reason, try to publish the silliness of a particular belief etc. I think it gets us nowhere except in Georgia where we maybe are arrested on some cooked up charge.

The public’s belief systems are too strong to attack and no one will listen to a reasoned approach to any of them. What do I think we should do? I don’t know and honestly, I feel now that I’m out there trying that we can’t help what is about to happen to us.

Jim Hurley

I was very impressed with Sam’s citing of the Freakonomics anecdote about public awareness and ridicule of the KKK’s core beliefs leading to their descent into fringedom.  Haven’t checked it out, though.  “Several senators and one president”...?  Which president?

Organized Religions, while often as silly as the KKK, are not going to be as easy to defeat.  (And heck, even THAT required Superman.)

If we are to do anything, Sam’s “war on a hundred fronts”, essentially a guerilla war of sniping from cover (because it’s too dangerous to leave your head exposed) may be the way.  Or part of it.

Likewise, it’s a Journey of 1,000 steps…or miles…or kilometres…or whatever.

Yes, it’s highly discouraging.  And scary.  But I, for one, am starting to see that it’s pretty well gotta be done.

Dissection of their beliefs won’t affect the fundies.  But it may help us gather more of the middle of the roaders.  The fundies claim a majority.  That sways politicians.  If the Middlers start to tend our way and the politicos see that, well…it’s a start.

And dissection/analysis/ridicule of their beliefs:
- helps perpetuate an us vs them competition; it may not be pretty, but it’s part of how evolution works;
- may bring some of them into our fold;
- could help mobilize the Middle
- is just fun anyway; hey, take it where you can get it.

Thanks for initiating this.  I’ve been thinking about it for awhile.  Podcasts from other skeptical thinkers is what woke it up for me.  Brought me here.  And “the opposition” has lotsa podcasts out there, too.  Just another of the 100 fronts.

Thoughts, anyone?

Hello?  Anyone still reading this?  Jeepers I’m a long winded so and so.

WWXD

What Would Xenu Do?

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Posted: 26 April 2006 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Hey CAT,

Thanks for the post. Good points. I’d say definitely read Sam Harris’s book, most of it is quite excellent. Just skip the paragraph where he seems to believe in ESP and read the spiritualist ending with a critical eye.

It’s a good question how atheists and freethinkers can “fight back” against organized religion. I don’t think an atheist or freethinker “church” is an answer. There have been similar sorts of humanist “churches” started in the past, like the Society for Ethical Culture in NY, which seems to pattern itself on a religious entity or church. That’s not a bad place if it’s what you’re looking for.

The problem is that when you get in to founding churches, then the issues become ones of:

(1) Who you allow as members in your church, who you exclude, and how.

(2) What the creed will be.

A church by its very nature is a closed sytem like a club. It can get cultish for the folks inside, and the folks outside ... well, it doesn’t touch them. But what the CfI stands for, free and open inquiry, is just the sort of thing that doesn’t lend itself to a closed, “exclusivist” atmosphere. Really, we should be opposed to that sort of structure here.

I think it’s best to associate in a more open way like the CfI does, as a loose organization. Fortunately the CfI is tax-free as an organized charity.

That means we won’t be as well-organized as these politically activist religions. OTOH, there are a million religions in the US and not all of them agree on everything all the time. So that can work against them too.

I think we ought to try to foster a greater role for secular society, greater acceptance for secularism and atheism, and of course separation of church and state. To do so we will need to convince some churchgoers, agnostics and fence-sitters to listen. But hey, we’ve got to start somewhere.

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Posted: 26 April 2006 02:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”]Hey CAT,

Thanks for the post. Good points…

It’s a good question how atheists and freethinkers can “fight back” against organized religion. I don’t think an atheist or freethinker “church” is an answer. There have been similar sorts of humanist “churches” started in the past, like the Society for Ethical Culture in NY, which seems to pattern itself on a religious entity or church. That’s not a bad place if it’s what you’re looking for. 

Thanks Doug.  When I read “what you’re looking for” it made me think “hey, I’m not ‘looking for’ the stuff from a church” ie the spiritual. 

I primarily want there to be a political counterforce to Organized Religion.  Okay, socializing with likeminded folks would be good too.

Re other secular humanist churches, don’t know about the SEC (hey, acronyms are bound to repeat; TLA = Three Letter Acronym), but the Unitarians have something somewhat more viable.

But they’re not very visible…

The problem is that when you get in to founding churches, then the issues become ones of:

(1) Who you allow as members in your church, who you exclude, and how.

(2) What the creed will be.

A church by its very nature is a closed sytem like a club. It can get cultish for the folks inside, and the folks outside ... well, it doesn’t touch them. But what the CfI stands for, free and open inquiry, is just the sort of thing that doesn’t lend itself to a closed, “exclusivist” atmosphere. Really, we should be opposed to that sort of structure here.

I think it’s best to associate in a more open way like the CfI does, as a loose organization. Fortunately the CfI is tax-free as an organized charity.

That means we won’t be as well-organized as these politically activist religions. OTOH, there are a million religions in the US and not all of them agree on everything all the time. So that can work against them too.

I think we ought to try to foster a greater role for secular society, greater acceptance for secularism and atheism, and of course separation of church and state. To do so we will need to convince some churchgoers, agnostics and fence-sitters to listen. But hey, we’ve got to start somewhere.

Good points.  Don’t know much about CfI yet.  I’ll be looking into getting more involved.  It’s skeptical podcasts that’ve led me in from isolation in my private (dis?)beliefs.  There are probably LOTS of folks like me out here.

It certainly seems to be open (no creed problem), well spread, reputable members, with potential for activism, education, etc.

- -

Earlier in this thread, when I read the joking comment, “I believe anything Doug tells me to” and considered your various well written posts, I had a thought of changing my “Church of the Rational” to “Church of Doug”.  Somehow I get the impression you’d be a rather reluctant Messiah.  smile

A couplecast called Me and the Bean cited a study that said Scientology and Mormonism are the fastest growing religions in the US.  I wrote in to point out that that was likely by percentages.  And that the smaller something is, the easier it is to achieve bignumber % growth. 

I’m enclosing it because it includes something like the Church of Doug.

= = =

You mentioned that Mormonism and Scientology are “the fastest growing religions in America”.  That’s either really impressive…or overly-casual stats.
They’re also among the smallest religions.  So are they “growing fastest” because
- they’re small, so if they increase by a small number of people, it’s still “12.3% growth”?
- the other “big religions” are huge and
a) growing by large numbers, but small percentages of their already large numbers? or
b) stable or shrinking.
A tiny software company with total sales of 30 items last year and 45 items this year experienced 50% growth.  Microsoft, with total sales of 500 million items last year and 525 million items this year experienced only 5% growth.  (fake numbers for example)
Which actually grew faster or more?
Consider the Church of the Divine Revelation in Steve’s Basement.
Last month, Steve noticed a discolored spot on his basement wall.  He decided it looks like the Virgin Mary.  He started a church.  Congregation: 1.
This month he convinced his buddy Doug that the stain is a sign from the Lord.  Hey presto, that’s 100% growth in a month!  Whoooooeeeeeee!

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Posted: 26 April 2006 03:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Hey CAT,

Messiahs? We don’t need no stinkin’ Messiahs ...

8)

Agree about the SEC, Unitarians ... I have more respect for them (and Zen) than most “religious” organizations, but personally I don’t need that kind of organizational weight over my head.

Funny about Scientology and Mormonism; doesn’t surprise me really.

Check out CfI, or just a local science organization (amateur astronomers, museum, etc.) Lots of great people there, and a wonder for the universe but without the baggage ...

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Posted: 26 April 2006 04:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”]Hey CAT,

Messiahs? We don’t need no stinkin’ Messiahs ...

8)

Agree about the SEC, Unitarians ... I have more respect for them (and Zen) than most “religious” organizations, but personally I don’t need that kind of organizational weight over my head.

Funny about Scientology and Mormonism; doesn’t surprise me really.

Check out CfI, or just a local science organization (amateur astronomers, museum, etc.) Lots of great people there, and a wonder for the universe but without the baggage ...


I believe in Doug: ___ Yes ___ No ___ Don’t Know

I know Doug exists: ___ Yes ___ No ___ Don’t Know


Okay, so you’re not the Messiah.

R U a very naughty boy?


Your reservations about “organizational weight over your head” is probably typical of freethinkers.  Hell, I agree and I was the one who brought the whole thing up.

Some paraphrase of Groucho Marx’s “an org that would be willing to have me as a member…”  Something like “I wouldn’t be willing to have as an organization…”  Can’t quite make it work.

Problem is still that “in unity there is strength” (read: political muscle).  And, by our nature, we’re almost unable to adopt such unity.

Good idea about the local science-oriented orgs.  I’ll check out my options there, too.

I’ve gone kinda crazy with my number of posts here today, but in one of them I mentioned using MeetUp.com or something as way to form local grassroots groups.  But again, getting together just cuz of something we don’t believe in?  Whadda we gonna do?  Talk about all the reasons we don’t believe… latest research?  Whatever.

That’d be a real fun bunch.  Long-term stable.  Not.

Re Mormons: Same podcast (same study or article) claimed FBI and Homeland Sec increasingly populated by Mormons.  I commented that having fundies take over the uberpolice didn’t bode well.

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Posted: 27 April 2006 12:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Sorry to butt in but you mentioned one of my favorite subjects, meetup.com. I started a whole category in the Religion sudivision so we CFI folks would fit, “secular humanism” by name. The meetup people agreed after a spate of emails back and forth and now we are the secular humanism meetup #1, Tucson CFI is #2 and CAT can start #3.

I don’t know if it is generally known but the Center - (“mothership” is the term we use out in the hinterlands like Miami), provides considerable support to CFI groups that want to organize and use the name, CFI community of “XXXXX”.

The Center organizes the necessary corporation, gets the needed charitable exemption in the US (503c), starts a bank account, deposits the first 500.00 and provides 500.00 a quarter to help get the group started. They also send notices out to the subscribers to all of the magazines in the area that the first meeting is to be held at such and such. They help with suggestions and, in our case FX they provided Ibn Warraq to speak at a dinner meeting.

The CFI plan is the only real organizational support for local groups available. The AHA does nothing that I can see of that sort. The American Atheists are discredited because of the founders activity and the name. That’s all the organizations that I am aware of for groups of our sort of characters.

This thing were using to speak to one another is one of the better forum/discussion websites on the net and it is improving all of the time. Another nice thing about CFI home base is attitude. No one claims to have all or even most of the answers. So every suggestion is considered and many are implemented almost immediately.

Here’s one for example:

Make the first four categories on the forum announcements, questions, rants, and suggestions. Limit the posts on announcements to CFI group leaders and the mothership, and allow the rest to be posted by members. Do not allow guests to post, anywhere, period/paragraph.

Write a little blurb below each of the above four categories explaining how they are to be used so the subject of topics posted to each is kept within the overall category. Look at this website for the format: Mendoza Baseball

More later.
Jim

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Posted: 27 April 2006 01:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Thanks Jim for that great info! I had no idea that the support was so extensive. (Although in NYC we already have a center established).

Just wondering what you meant about American Atheists. I had not heard of that group, but what discredits them exactly?

Best,

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Posted: 27 April 2006 01:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Founded by Madalyn Murray O’Hair, shot and killed a few years ago they are the group that got prayer in schools stopped, the boy who was the client in the court case, her son , is now one of the principals in the institution which has deteriorated into a battle for its control and thereby its assets.
Jim

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Posted: 27 April 2006 01:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Oh, of course, yes, I do know them. Very sad situation. But from what I remember reading, there was a bit of a cult-like atmosphere.

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Posted: 27 April 2006 02:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Right

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Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. (MLK Jr.)

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Posted: 22 June 2006 07:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Lots of Christians CLAIM that Christianity is based on peace and love.  Some, like ArtyMarty, say “look at the bible for proof”.  But while there are peace and love embracing passages, there are also the “stone these guys” (gays and disobedient children, among others).  And “kill those guys”.

I don’t have an in-depth knowledge of scripture.  I leave that to my dad, a former missionary and minister.  But isn’t there something in there that says “judge a man on his actions, not on his words”?

I judge Christians on both.  There are the words written 2,000 years ago.  And there are the words that we hear from Christians like Falwell, Robertson, etc.  Not the only Christians, certainly.  And not moderate.  But where’s the voice of the moderates?  I don’t hear it very often.

AM says look to the book (what they say), not at what they do.  I say judge both.  Christians claim to follow the bible, but many ignore anything that doesn’t mesh with their own preference.  And heinous action both macro-social (holy wars, laws enshrining religious biases, etc.) and micro-social (judging thy neighbour) are done with the bible and Christian faith as justification.

No one can just say “I follow the bible” because it contains mutually contradictory passages.  It condones practices that are no longer socially acceptable (except, arguably, in China etc.) such as slavery.

IT WAS WRITTEN BY SHEEPHERDERS TWO THOUSAND YEARS AGO.  And edited by a series of people with their own axes to grind and powers to reinforce.

So NATURALLY it has content that doesn’t fit modern society.

When will the world apply the same rational approach to their faith/philosophy as they apply to buying a car?

Sadly, I don’t expect any time soon.  Sigh.

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Posted: 22 June 2006 08:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Re: The End of Faith

[quote author=“artymarty”]Amazing how so many people do not understand faith or religion.
I do like what Jerry Coyne said in the Case Against Intelligent Design podcast.:
“Religion is a word, like sport…”
For this very reason I do not claim to belong to any religious organisation. For those of you who are interested, I am Christian.
And from what I have seen, there are very few of us out there.

I am not quite sure where Sam gets this idea that “religion” is to blame for violence (Christianity included), when he tells us that Jadism has a core principle of non-violence. Don’t they belong to a religion?
It is extraordinary that Sam fails to see that peace is a core principle of the dedicated Christian. Did Jesus ever strike anyone?

Perhaps more of you could afford to read 1 Corinthians 13 from the bible,
or even Romans 12:17&18;, which says:
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right
in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,
live at peace with everyone.

I wish more people would look to Jesus to see what Christianity is about, not the organisations that call themselves Christian.

What you are trying to do—find the “rational” or “ethical” core of Christianity—is laudable, and I certainly know committed Christians who find a message of peace and brotherly love in the teachings of Jesus, and who reject a lot of so-called Christian religious folderol.

But do recall that Jesus also is quite clear that unbelievers face a very different future from believers. (He comes with a sword). That’s not a very ‘welcoming’ message. He also was a sort of Uri Geller of his time, performing sleights of hand and tricks to wow his audiences. These (assuming they weren’t made up out of whole cloth by his followers) were likely the sort of prestidigitation undertaken by our stage magicians. No surprise that his act did not go down so well in his hometown ... likely they knew his tricks.

That said, to repeat, there is much of great benefit of the teachings of Jesus. To reject the religion shouldn’t mean to reject every word ... just not to accept every word either as somehow the “word of god” or the like.

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Doug

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