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An atheist defends religion?
Posted: 17 July 2009 03:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Wait—so this guy lives in NYC? It says above he belongs to All Souls. CFI-NYC has events there. We should try to host him for a talk.

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Hi, I’m executive director of the Center for Inquiry in New York City.

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Posted: 17 July 2009 03:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Michael De Dora Jr. - 17 July 2009 03:08 PM

Wait—so this guy lives in NYC? It says above he belongs to All Souls. CFI-NYC has events there. We should try to host him for a talk.

Why?

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Doug

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El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

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Posted: 17 July 2009 05:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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dougsmith - 17 July 2009 03:26 PM
Michael De Dora Jr. - 17 July 2009 03:08 PM

Wait—so this guy lives in NYC? It says above he belongs to All Souls. CFI-NYC has events there. We should try to host him for a talk.

Why?

Why not?  The best way to deal with differing opinions is to debate them in an open forum.

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Posted: 17 July 2009 05:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Chicken - 17 July 2009 05:12 PM
dougsmith - 17 July 2009 03:26 PM
Michael De Dora Jr. - 17 July 2009 03:08 PM

Wait—so this guy lives in NYC? It says above he belongs to All Souls. CFI-NYC has events there. We should try to host him for a talk.

Why?

Why not?  The best way to deal with differing opinions is to debate them in an open forum.

Hmm ... I’m sure there must be dozens of people around that might be better to hear from. But whatever floats their boat.

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Doug

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El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

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Posted: 18 July 2009 04:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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VYAZMA - 17 July 2009 01:14 PM

Yep, the very place. Apropos of the whole “church” sub-thread, the legendary Stanley Theater (from the balcony of which a young kid named Frank Sinatra saw a crooner on stage and decided “that is what I want to do!”) is now a ... wait for it ... church. Jehovah’s Witness, if memory serves. My blood ran cold when I found that out. I graduated from grammar school in that place—got to stand up on the stage as valedictorian—and now some Jeebus Jumper is up there going on ad nauseam about The Lorrrrrudddddd? Oh, I am depressed about that.

Ughh…NO…NO!! How does that happen in NJ?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Theater_(Jersey_City):

“During the 1970s, however, movie attendance suffered and the theater fell into disrepair, and became an RKO (Radio-Keith-Orpheum Pictures) grindhouse. The once beautiful metalwork throughout the building was painted dark blue, and the Wurlitzer organ was removed in the 1970s. It finally closed as a movie theater April 20, 1978.

“The future of the building was in question until it was purchased as an Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses for $800,000 (not $18 million as stated before), in 1983. As of now the building is worth much more, but the price is unknown and is private. At that time some basement sections of the stage area were flooded under two feet (60 cm) of water. The original brass and copper on doors and windows was covered by layers of paint and dirt, the picturesque Italian façade was obscured by 50 years of nicotine and dust, and the seats were stained, torn, and ripped. The theater’s huge chandeliers had lost their brilliance under layers of grime. Thousands of volunteers, Jehovah’s Witnesses, worked over a nine-month period to renovate and clean the theater back to its original beauty and splendor, for its first assembly in August 1985. Tours of the former theater are now conducted Monday through Friday 8-12 and 1-5.”

A Pentecostal church has taken over an old movie theater (http://cinematreasures.org/theater/3870/ ) in my Park Slope, Brooklyn neighborhood, too:

Old photo: http://americanclassicimages.com/Default.aspx?tabid=141&txtSearch=terminal&catpagesize=25&ProductID=30663
New photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kencta/219230660/

They did a beautiful job restoring the interior.  Unfortunately, they’re also faith-healing, snake-handling wackjobs whose speaking-in-tongues sound-system services are too noisy for the echoey building, annoying nearby residents (including many families and work-at-home freelancers and creatives).  A report about their Brazilian parent church complains: “They are highly criticized for their methods, even among other Christian groups, since they grant special powers to physical objects, and they sell them. For example they launch campaigns like: ‘Buy the blessed candle’ (and you will have God’s blessing) or ‘Touch the mantle of discharge,’ of course only after you ‘donate’ a reasonable fee.” (http://www.from-uruguay.com/2007/08/uruguay-religion-and-taxes.html)

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Posted: 23 July 2009 07:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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dougsmith - 17 July 2009 05:14 PM
Chicken - 17 July 2009 05:12 PM
dougsmith - 17 July 2009 03:26 PM
Michael De Dora Jr. - 17 July 2009 03:08 PM

Wait—so this guy lives in NYC? It says above he belongs to All Souls. CFI-NYC has events there. We should try to host him for a talk.

Why?

Why not?  The best way to deal with differing opinions is to debate them in an open forum.

Hmm ... I’m sure there must be dozens of people around that might be better to hear from. But whatever floats their boat.

Bruce Sheiman reminds me of the aspiring skeptics Solomon Schimmel and James Kugel, Orthodox Jewish scholars who debunk the historicity and claimed rationality of their religion, yet still promote not just passive but active religiosity. They still find praying to Yahweh fulfilling. The observant Jews of whom they claim to be kin criticize them intensely, of course, for helping to destroy the foundations of their belief; while real skeptics wonder why Schimmel and Kugel haven’t noticed that after emptying out out all the bathwater, there’s no baby to be found.

I heard about Schimmel first via the Point of Inquiry podcast, and heard Kugel speak at in NYC at the 92d Street Y (aka the 92nd Street Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association, where his reception was lukewarm).  Controversy is good, right?  Look at all the new people who joined this forum to discuss Michael Shermer’s libertarian views after PofI aired them.  Plus, there are enough humanists critical of atheism per se who might enjoy some of Sheiman’s criticisms, his self-hating love of woo-woo notwithstanding.

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Posted: 04 August 2009 03:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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From the same publisher as the above “atheist” pro-religion book, here’s another new book, a “religious” attack on “belief”:

http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9781594201691,00.html?The_Religious_Case_Against_Belief_James_P._Carse

The Religious Case Against Belief
by James P. Carse

In this age when religious global conflict appears to be at its apex, renowned scholar James Carse offers us a viable and balanced path away from the excesses of ideology and toward a more open-ended dialogue that will enrich your understanding of this issue forever.

In The Religious Case Against Belief, Carse identifies the 21st century’s most forbidding villain: Belief. Belief, according to the author, is something to be distinguished from religion. Belief—with its restriction on thought and encouragement of hostility—has corrupted religion and spawned violence around the world. From the Crusades to the contemporary Christian right, from the Inquisition to Islamic jihadists, “true believers” construct identities by erecting boundaries and by fostering aggression between the true believer and the other. This is why belief systems choose—at great cost—to remain locked in bloody conflict rather than to engage in dialogue.

Central to Carse’s argument is what he describes as the three kinds of ignorance: ordinary ignorance (a mundane lack of knowledge; such as ignorance of tomorrow’s weather); willful ignorance (an intentional avoidance of accessible knowledge, as in the rejection of scientific facts); and finally, higher ignorance (a learned understanding that no matter how many truths we may accumulate, our knowledge falls infinitely short of the truth). While ordinary ignorance is common to all people, Carse associates the strongest manifestation of willful ignorance with the most fervent (and dangerous) of believers. In fierce contrast to willful ignorance, higher ignorance is an acquired state enhanced by religion. Those traveling the path to higher ignorance recognize the instruments of their faith (such as the Bible) as intended to promote contemplation, interpretation, and a sense of wonder. In this way, religion, uncontaminated by belief systems, rejects the false boundaries that divide people and ideas.

The Religious Case Against Belief exposes a world where religion and belief have become erroneously (and terrifyingly) conflated. In strengthening their association with powerful belief systems, religions have departed from their essential purpose as agencies of higher ignorance. With a wide range of understanding, James Carse offers a hopeful and needed alternative to the arguments of anti-religion critics, while building a pathway away from what can be called our second “Age of Faith” and toward global harmony.

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