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Christopher Hitchens, Religious in Spite of Himself?
Posted: 06 February 2010 07:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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PLaClair - 06 February 2010 04:00 PM

Jackson, it does not water it down for me but on the contrary enlivens it and makes it meaningful. I am far from alone in this.

In essence, we are discussing two different ways of approaching religion. One is to reject the entire enterprise, which I believe can only have the effect of marginalizing us to no good end or purpose. The other is to recognize that religion arises out of human desire, address the ways in which it has gone wrong and support those aspects of it that are right. Einstein spoke to this, among many others.

Please enlighten us as to where he spoke of such things.

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Posted: 06 February 2010 09:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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scepticeye - 06 February 2010 07:35 PM
PLaClair - 06 February 2010 04:00 PM

Jackson, it does not water it down for me but on the contrary enlivens it and makes it meaningful. I am far from alone in this.

In essence, we are discussing two different ways of approaching religion. One is to reject the entire enterprise, which I believe can only have the effect of marginalizing us to no good end or purpose. The other is to recognize that religion arises out of human desire, address the ways in which it has gone wrong and support those aspects of it that are right. Einstein spoke to this, among many others.

Please enlighten us as to where he spoke of such things.

I suggest you Google “Einstein natural piety.”

You didn’t understand a word I wrote.

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Posted: 06 February 2010 09:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Jackson - 06 February 2010 05:07 PM
PLaClair - 06 February 2010 04:00 PM

Jackson, it does not water it down for me but on the contrary enlivens it and makes it meaningful. I am far from alone in this.

In essence, we are discussing two different ways of approaching religion. One is to reject the entire enterprise, which I believe can only have the effect of marginalizing us to no good end or purpose. The other is to recognize that religion arises out of human desire, address the ways in which it has gone wrong and support those aspects of it that are right. Einstein spoke to this, among many others.

I agree with you that religion currently serves an important social purpose which is why folks can go to church and basically substitute a metaphorical understanding of the Bible and by cherry-picking the ethics keep it relevant to their own life.  I agree with your concern that this social purpose can be met with a non-theistic non-dogmatic ‘religion’—although using the term ‘religion’ still seems a little squirrelly to me.

I’ve always thought of myself as religious. My reaction had been to words like “faith” but I’ve come to see that in a different light, too. So while I wouldn’t presume to tell you what you should or shouldn’t think of as squirrely, I can tell you that it makes perfect sense to me, so much so that I could not see it any other way. And again I am not alone in this, so I urge great caution in characterizing it as “squirrely.” You may react to it that way but I assure you that many, many people do not - and more than that, it makes perfect sense. All that is required is to let go of the false idea that religion is necessary about “God” or the supernatural. Religion is about our central concerns - all of them. Seen that way, there is no reason for any of us to react against it.

And religion serves more than a social purpose. It serves a personal purpose. Everyone needs an orientation - a sense of place, direction, meaning and purpose. That is the essence of religion. The corruption of this natural inclination by theism and other forms of supernaturalism in no way diminishes the importance of religion. I for one am not willing to give this up just because others have corrupted it. I am not willing to concede religion to the theists.

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Posted: 06 February 2010 11:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Agree with PLaClair here. There are kinds of Buddhism without god(s). Don’t they count as religions?

GdB

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Posted: 07 February 2010 12:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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`
Hitchens seems to be talking about the human capacity for deeply affecting emotional responses to life, certain principles, art, etc.  Nothing overtly ‘supernatural’ there.

And I think it’s almost about time that we just trash the word ‘religion’ because of all the baggage that comes with it.  It seems to cause too much dissent and confusion, when, I think a lot of what people talk about when they talk about the ‘numinous’, etc is simply what Hitchens is talking about.

If one’s response or ‘relationship’ to life involves some kind of belief in the ‘supernatural’, why can’t we just include the word ‘supernatural’ in the description of that?

`

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‘we are so fundamentally constituted of desire that we go on hearing music…...even though we know the band is gone and the stage is silent’

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Posted: 07 February 2010 04:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Axegrrl - 07 February 2010 12:38 AM

`
And I think it’s almost about time that we just trash the word ‘religion’ because of all the baggage that comes with it.  It seems to cause too much dissent and confusion, when, I think a lot of what people talk about when they talk about the ‘numinous’, etc is simply what Hitchens is talking about.

It doesn’t work that way. The word will not go away just because we CFIers stop using it. It’s too deeply embedded in culture and history. The inevitable outcome of not using the word “religion” is that we will isolate ourselves even further from our own culture than we already are, for no good purpose at all. There are perfectly good ways to use this word.

Our best course of action is to give our own meaning to it, a meaning rooted in the word’s associations. That way, people will begin to use it that way. If enough people do that, we will have “corrupted” it sufficiently that the fundamentalists won’t want to use it. Then we will have won the battle.

Axegrrl - 07 February 2010 12:38 AM

If one’s response or ‘relationship’ to life involves some kind of belief in the ‘supernatural’, why can’t we just include the word ‘supernatural’ in the description of that?

You can - but how much will that accomplish? I’m not saying it won’t achieve anything but depending on what you had in mind, your question may illustrate my previous point.

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Posted: 07 February 2010 05:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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GdB - 06 February 2010 11:15 PM

Agree with PLaClair here. There are kinds of Buddhism without god(s). Don’t they count as religions?

GdB

Right—and Dawkins had no specific quarrel with Buddhism in the God Delusion.

On the other hand [ Buddhism has this supernatural reincarnation baggage]


Modern [Unitarianism]{the religion of Marilyn Sewell who is doing the interview with Hitchens} includes [Unitarian Universalism] which is a nontheistic “Christian” religion.  [Wikipedia lists Rev. Dr. Marilyn Sewell as a Unitarian Universalist theologian and writer/editor]

I agree there are nontheistic religions—
[ wikipedia reference to secular humanism notes]

The issue of whether and in what sense secular humanism might be considered a religion, and what the implications of this would be has become the subject of legal maneuvering and political debate in the United States. The first reference to “secular humanism” in a US legal context was in 1961, although church-state separation lawyer Leo Pfeffer had referred to it in his 1958 book, Creeds in Competition

The phrase “secular humanism” became prominent after it was used in the United States Supreme Court case Torcaso v. Watkins. In the 1961 decision, Justice Hugo Black commented in a footnote, “Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism, and others.”

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Posted: 07 February 2010 07:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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PLaClair - 06 February 2010 09:05 PM
scepticeye - 06 February 2010 07:35 PM
PLaClair - 06 February 2010 04:00 PM

Jackson, it does not water it down for me but on the contrary enlivens it and makes it meaningful. I am far from alone in this.

In essence, we are discussing two different ways of approaching religion. One is to reject the entire enterprise, which I believe can only have the effect of marginalizing us to no good end or purpose. The other is to recognize that religion arises out of human desire, address the ways in which it has gone wrong and support those aspects of it that are right. Einstein spoke to this, among many others.

Please enlighten us as to where he spoke of such things.

I suggest you Google “Einstein natural piety.”

You didn’t understand a word I wrote.

Maybe that’s because it was a fiction. Clearly you can’t reference where he ever made such statements which is not a surprise because he didn’t.

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Posted: 07 February 2010 08:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Jackson - 07 February 2010 05:40 AM

Right—and Dawkins had no specific quarrel with Buddhism in the God Delusion.

This is because he correctly categorises Buddhism as an ethical or philosophical system and not strictly a religion at all. However anyone who knows anything about Buddhism knows that they do have Gods. These Gods are not however all powerful.

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Posted: 07 February 2010 08:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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scepticeye - 07 February 2010 07:58 AM
PLaClair - 06 February 2010 09:05 PM
scepticeye - 06 February 2010 07:35 PM
PLaClair - 06 February 2010 04:00 PM

Jackson, it does not water it down for me but on the contrary enlivens it and makes it meaningful. I am far from alone in this.

In essence, we are discussing two different ways of approaching religion. One is to reject the entire enterprise, which I believe can only have the effect of marginalizing us to no good end or purpose. The other is to recognize that religion arises out of human desire, address the ways in which it has gone wrong and support those aspects of it that are right. Einstein spoke to this, among many others.

Please enlighten us as to where he spoke of such things.

I suggest you Google “Einstein natural piety.”

You didn’t understand a word I wrote.

Maybe that’s because it was a fiction. Clearly you can’t reference where he ever made such statements which is not a surprise because he didn’t.

Once again, Paul is confusing fanaticism with religion. One can be fanatical about many things, but that doesn’t make you automatically religious. Regarding Einstein, it doesn’t really matter what he had to say about any of this since the appeal to authority fallacy proves nothing.

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Posted: 07 February 2010 11:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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George - 07 February 2010 08:25 AM

Once again, Paul is confusing fanaticism with religion. One can be fanatical about many things, but that doesn’t make you automatically religious. Regarding Einstein, it doesn’t really matter what he had to say about any of this since the appeal to authority fallacy proves nothing.

Well said.

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Posted: 07 February 2010 06:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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George - 07 February 2010 08:25 AM
scepticeye - 07 February 2010 07:58 AM
PLaClair - 06 February 2010 09:05 PM
scepticeye - 06 February 2010 07:35 PM
PLaClair - 06 February 2010 04:00 PM

Jackson, it does not water it down for me but on the contrary enlivens it and makes it meaningful. I am far from alone in this.

In essence, we are discussing two different ways of approaching religion. One is to reject the entire enterprise, which I believe can only have the effect of marginalizing us to no good end or purpose. The other is to recognize that religion arises out of human desire, address the ways in which it has gone wrong and support those aspects of it that are right. Einstein spoke to this, among many others.

Please enlighten us as to where he spoke of such things.

I suggest you Google “Einstein natural piety.”

You didn’t understand a word I wrote.

Maybe that’s because it was a fiction. Clearly you can’t reference where he ever made such statements which is not a surprise because he didn’t.

Once again, Paul is confusing fanaticism with religion. One can be fanatical about many things, but that doesn’t make you automatically religious. Regarding Einstein, it doesn’t really matter what he had to say about any of this since the appeal to authority fallacy proves nothing.

That’s just plain goofy. You guys are the ones who think all religion is fanatical. I’m the one drawing the distinction.

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Posted: 07 February 2010 06:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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PLaClair - 06 February 2010 04:00 PM

Jackson, it does not water it down for me but on the contrary enlivens it and makes it meaningful. I am far from alone in this.

In essence, we are discussing two different ways of approaching religion. One is to reject the entire enterprise, which I believe can only have the effect of marginalizing us to no good end or purpose. The other is to recognize that religion arises out of human desire, address the ways in which it has gone wrong and support those aspects of it that are right. Einstein spoke to this, among many others.

PLaClair there is a strawman fallacy in your oversimplification of the choices—you probably realize that.

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Posted: 07 February 2010 07:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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PLaClair - 07 February 2010 06:12 PM

That’s just plain goofy. You guys are the ones who think all religion is fanatical. I’m the one drawing the distinction.

I don’t think all people who are religious are necessarily fanatical. People are religious for different reasons, the need to express their fanaticism being one of them; others may include the fear of death, belonging to a community, ignorance, etc.

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Posted: 08 February 2010 12:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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scepticeye - 07 February 2010 08:05 AM

This is because he correctly categorises Buddhism as an ethical or philosophical system and not strictly a religion at all. However anyone who knows anything about Buddhism knows that they do have Gods. These Gods are not however all powerful.

You are over generalising. I said ‘There are kinds of Buddhism without god(s).’ You talk about Buddhism, as if all kinds are the same. ‘Anyone who knows Buddhism. knows there are very different kinds of Buddhism.’  cool grin

But it is obvious you like to make sweeping statements.

GdB

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