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If you had the power to magically remove religious belief…
Posted: 14 January 2010 07:42 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Please excuse my use of the word “magically”, but it seemed like a nice way to express the point. If you could remove religious belief from anyone at anytime, would there be people you would not remove those beliefs from?

For instance, it wouldn’t seem right to remove one’s religious beliefs when the person is on his death bed and has a couple of days/hours/minutes to live.

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Posted: 14 January 2010 08:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Kaizen - 14 January 2010 07:42 PM

For instance, it wouldn’t seem right to remove one’s religious beliefs when the person is on his death bed and has a couple of days/hours/minutes to live.

Why?

Part of this question involves what one would substitute for the religious belief ...

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Posted: 14 January 2010 08:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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dougsmith - 14 January 2010 08:06 PM
Kaizen - 14 January 2010 07:42 PM

For instance, it wouldn’t seem right to remove one’s religious beliefs when the person is on his death bed and has a couple of days/hours/minutes to live.

Why?

Part of this question involves what one would substitute for the religious belief ...

I would be concerned about causing this person to be regretful for the time spent following these beliefs and the people that she/he helped influence toward those beliefs. The person in this situation doesn’t have any way to reconcile for the potential problems that she/he caused as a result of spreading falsehoods. And not just any falsehoods. Obviously we all make mistakes, but religious belief can in many cases cause people to go out and be highly proactive about proselytizing those beliefs. This would be assuming that the person lived a relatively moral and ethic life. If it was someone that committed atrocities as a result of those beliefs, I wouldn’t have any problems with removing those beliefs.

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Posted: 14 January 2010 08:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Kaizen - 14 January 2010 07:42 PM

Please excuse my use of the word “magically”, but it seemed like a nice way to express the point. If you could remove religious belief from anyone at anytime, would there be people you would not remove those beliefs from?

For instance, it wouldn’t seem right to remove one’s religious beliefs when the person is on his death bed and has a couple of days/hours/minutes to live.

Now this is an interesting question. 
Finally gave me an excuse to shut off that J.M. Hecht drivel, half an hour into it and she still hasn’t said anything beyond bla bla bla.

Your question reminds me of my own ponderings at the funeral of a dear friend about a month ago.

Your question seems to be framed in a way of “Taking something Away” from a person.  And given cultural conditioning that attitude makes sense.

And considering my new/old metaphor for religion as a cuddly little teddy bear to cling to in the dark of a scary night ~
who could ever be so cruel as to rob a scared lonely child of the one thing she has to cling to, her teddy bear?

But, I’d like to turn that question around.  Recently, I was discussing religion with my daughter, (who’s mom is born again), and who is herself going to a small non-denominational church and digging on the vibs.  My repetitive point to her is focused on conveying that God is in your heart - no one on the outside possesses God.  Also, God is greater than anything anyone of us can possibly image. So believe what you must but realize God is greater than your particular beliefs, so don’t take your particular beliefs too seriously.

Then, I got to my own hostility toward religions.  In particular, every religion I ever looked into wanted to take something from me.  Even if only my ability to think for myself.  Worst of all Christian’s wanted to rob me of my growing understanding for this incredible Earth I inhabit.  The flow of creation (that being our evolutionary story) is the most incredible, “godly” story I can imagine.  Complex beyond comprehension, but not…  because there is a flow and rhythm who’s beauty and mystery touches my soul with a sense of rightness and security in the continuity of life that no manmade religion can touch.  Also totally beyond my sense of mystical revelation pondering evolution, there is the clear and beautiful scientific narrative describing how things evolved, not a perfect story, but a touchable-fact based story. 

Religion offers people very human ego trips - Science offers a wonderfully compelling narrative of the down to earth reality surrounding us.

so I guess my point or question is… who’s robbing whom, of what, if we dare to Imagine No Religion?

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Posted: 14 January 2010 08:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Kaizen - 14 January 2010 08:26 PM

but religious belief can in many cases cause people to go out and be highly proactive about proselytizing those beliefs. This would be assuming that the person lived a relatively moral and ethic life.


Maybe I’m misunderstanding you…
But, I have never seen a connection between a relatively moral and ethic life and proselytizing.

In fact, quite the contrary seems to be the norm. 


The most ethical moral people I’ve know, have consistently been the quiet, totally unassuming types.

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Posted: 14 January 2010 08:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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citizenschallenge - 14 January 2010 08:44 PM
Kaizen - 14 January 2010 08:26 PM

but religious belief can in many cases cause people to go out and be highly proactive about proselytizing those beliefs. This would be assuming that the person lived a relatively moral and ethic life.


Maybe I’m misunderstanding you…
But, I have never seen a connection between a relatively moral and ethic life and proselytizing.

In fact, quite the contrary seems to be the norm. 


The most ethical moral people I’ve know, have consistently been the quiet, totally unassuming types.

Right, the type that tend to proselytize a lot probably weren’t a good example. But what about the guy who taught his children those beliefs?

On the point about taking/giving, I would see “taking” religious beliefs at the right times in people’s lives as “giving” them the truth or a better sense of reality. In the case of the death bed person, I would tend to see that more as taking since there’s no time or way for the person to go back and right the wrongs of spreading falsehoods or investing time into them.

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Posted: 15 January 2010 08:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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What would be more natural, or appropriate, than to “magically remove” any belief with which we disagree?  Why concern ourselves with others, when they are so clearly wrong?

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Posted: 15 January 2010 08:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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ciceronianus - 15 January 2010 08:46 AM

What would be more natural, or appropriate, than to “magically remove” any belief with which we disagree?  Why concern ourselves with others, when they are so clearly wrong?

Well, this gets into the question as to whether it is morally appropriate to challenge or change beliefs we believe to be wrong. I suppose there’s an inchoate sense in which it’s appropriate to challenge them rationally, by means of argumentation, but that it’s not appropriate to brainwash people, at least given that the people have beliefs which are in the broad mainstream of everyday belief.

I mean, I’d think it would be appropriate to use brainwashing techniques against people who were literally insane, psychopathic, paranoid, etc., if that would actually help them. But it’s not appropriate to brainwash people into not believing in some sort of religion.

... unless we’re talking about a cult-like religion that itself brainwashes people?

Interesting thing to consider.

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Posted: 15 January 2010 11:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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dougsmith - 15 January 2010 08:54 AM
ciceronianus - 15 January 2010 08:46 AM

What would be more natural, or appropriate, than to “magically remove” any belief with which we disagree?  Why concern ourselves with others, when they are so clearly wrong?

Well, this gets into the question as to whether it is morally appropriate to challenge or change beliefs we believe to be wrong. I suppose there’s an inchoate sense in which it’s appropriate to challenge them rationally, by means of argumentation, but that it’s not appropriate to brainwash people, at least given that the people have beliefs which are in the broad mainstream of everyday belief.

I mean, I’d think it would be appropriate to use brainwashing techniques against people who were literally insane, psychopathic, paranoid, etc., if that would actually help them. But it’s not appropriate to brainwash people into not believing in some sort of religion.

... unless we’re talking about a cult-like religion that itself brainwashes people?

Interesting thing to consider.

For me, argument is fine.  “Magically removing” religious belief, or otherwise compelling belief or disbelief of any kind, seems inappropriate, unless there is a direct threat of harm to another.

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Posted: 15 January 2010 11:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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ciceronianus - 15 January 2010 11:00 AM

“Magically removing” religious belief, or otherwise compelling belief or disbelief of any kind, seems inappropriate, unless there is a direct threat of harm to another.

I’m inclined to agree, but what about harm to oneself, or illness, as in the cases of mental illness I raised before?

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Posted: 15 January 2010 11:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Kaizen - 14 January 2010 07:42 PM

If you could remove religious belief from anyone at anytime, would there be people you would not remove those beliefs from?

Is the question about whether there is a benefit to religious belief?  I think there is something that feels like a benefit, much like a person gets from drugs, or people wouldn’t choose it and stick with it.  The transition back to rational thought, taking away that supposed benefit, isn’t always appropriate for everyone at all times.

Or is the question about whether there is a right to believe?  I think there is.  Although it seems highly unlikely, atheists could be wrong.  People have a right to prove me wrong.  They can’t do that if I make it all go away.

Or is the question about how one comes to atheism?  Given the intense pressure to be religious, I think the path from religious to atheist has to be travelled internally by each individual, based on their experience and evidence.  In North American society, if a person just woke up one day without their belief because I magically removed it, I suspect they would quickly return to it, having failed to examine why they didn’t believe.

What I absolutely would do is magically eliminate all religious indoctrination of children, replacing it with broad coverage of the world’s religions (including the unpopular ones, and unorganized ones), and equal respect and time given to the various ways a person might not believe (skepticism, secular humanism, atheism, etc.).

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Posted: 15 January 2010 12:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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dougsmith - 15 January 2010 11:02 AM
ciceronianus - 15 January 2010 11:00 AM

“Magically removing” religious belief, or otherwise compelling belief or disbelief of any kind, seems inappropriate, unless there is a direct threat of harm to another.

I’m inclined to agree, but what about harm to oneself, or illness, as in the cases of mental illness I raised before?

When the person is capable of making a choice (even a self-destructive choice), I don’t think it appropriate to compel a different choice.  When the person lacks that capacity due to mental illness, then I think it would be appropriate to intervene.

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Posted: 15 January 2010 05:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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OMG

Change all of the atheists into agnostics!

That would be funny as hell.  LOL

psik

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Posted: 16 January 2010 03:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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ciceronianus - 15 January 2010 11:00 AM

For me, argument is fine.  “Magically removing” religious belief, or otherwise compelling belief or disbelief of any kind, seems inappropriate, unless there is a direct threat of harm to another.

I would imagine that if you were approached by a well meaning Christian that was proselytizing to you and was willing to speak to you rationally, you wouldn’t object to pointing out apparent flaws in his thinking. What would be the purpose of this type of dialogue or debate? So it doesn’t seem like there’s anything wrong with showing people how they may have been making mental mistakes per se. Because of this, yes, I did presume that there wouldn’t be an objection to the idea of giving people a better or more justified model of reality. Outside of that, I thought I left the question rather open to be answered in any way that people wanted. You could’ve simply said “I wouldn’t use the ‘power.’ Here’s why…”

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Posted: 16 January 2010 12:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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ciceronianus - 15 January 2010 11:00 AM

For me, argument is fine.  “Magically removing” religious belief, or otherwise compelling belief or disbelief of any kind, seems inappropriate, unless there is a direct threat of harm to another.

As long as a religious person is not going to use his religion as an excuse perform acts of violence, use bigotry to deny employment or other things to others, send our military to wars that do not make us safer, create useless laws of very little benefit, create harmful laws, make policy decisions that adversely affect us that are based on religious dogma and mythology rather than science, replace science education and history education with mythology in public schools, or vote on things that affect me, then I do not see the need to change his or her beliefs.

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Posted: 16 January 2010 01:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Cicero. . . and others have hinted at this, but let’s reverse the question, and see if the same answers apply: ” If a theist could remove atheistic belief from anyone at anytime, would there be people s/he would not remove those beliefs from?”  and why?  In addition, what would be the justification for and consequences of doing so?

Occam

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