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Thread: Religion in today's society

  1. #651
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sephora View Post
    I am not Christian, therefore I do not follow that. I am just very confused as to why they pick and choose what to follow from the Bible. Umm contradictory much? You either follow it or you don't.
    I'm kinda confused as to how you think christianity works. I mean I'm no theologist, but I'm pretty sure that's an overly simplified stance on how religion in general and christianity in specific works.

    Regarding Christianity first of all we have to consider that the bible is divided into the old and new testaments. When the new testament came around the old testament became obsolete. So I have no idea why people love quoting the old testament. Second, the bible is subject to MUCH interpretation. It was written in a different language, translated times upon times upon times, and was written within a historical context.

    For example, the whole Sodom thing. The generally accepted interpretation is that it condemns homosexuality. However it can also be interpreted be a parable about the importance of hospitality to strangers. After a little research I also found this interpretation:

    In ancient times, sacred sex was very common. People would engage in sexual intercourse with temple prostitutes who represented a god or goddess. By doing so, the people believed that they would receive a blessing from the deity. If the people of Sodom realized that angels sent by God were present in their city, the men of Sodom may have concluded that raping the angels might give them supernatural powers.
    So at any time when someone "picks and chooses" from the bible, it can be understood to mean "I don't know enough about the bible and it's historical context to make my own interpretation, but the common interpretation put forth doesn't sound right according to what I know."

    Regarding religion in general, people don't practice religions to have a rulebook to life, per se. Religion is first and foremost about spiritual fulfillment and/or tradition(my family is x religion and I was raised that religion so I will continue to be that religion). Rule-lawyering the religious with out considering that part first is kinda missing a REALLY big point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blazekickblaziken View Post
    Regarding Christianity first of all we have to consider that the bible is divided into the old and new testaments. When the new testament came around the old testament became obsolete. So I have no idea why people love quoting the old testament.
    *gasp* The old testament is obsolete? Does that mean we can throw Genesis out the window? Oh, I would like that very much!
    Of course, now you have to convince all the other Christians to stop using the Old Testament too...

    Second, the bible is subject to MUCH interpretation. It was written in a different language, translated times upon times upon times, and was written within a historical context.
    You'd think what the Christians call "the perfect word of God" wouldn't cause so much confusion. Huh.


    For example, the whole Sodom thing. The generally accepted interpretation is that it condemns homosexuality. However it can also be interpreted be a parable about the importance of hospitality to strangers. After a little research I also found this interpretation:
    Well, that's an interesting interpretation.
    Of course, now you have to convince all the other Christians to stop using the Sodom story to condemn homosexuals...

    So at any time when someone "picks and chooses" from the bible, it can be understood to mean "I don't know enough about the bible and it's historical context to make my own interpretation, but the common interpretation put forth doesn't sound right according to what I know."
    Oh, so the majority of people? It doesn't look like very many people look into the Bible or its historic context, Christian or otherwise.

    Regarding religion in general, people don't practice religions to have a rulebook to life, per se. Religion is first and foremost about spiritual fulfillment and/or tradition(my family is x religion and I was raised that religion so I will continue to be that religion). Rule-lawyering the religious with out considering that part first is kinda missing a REALLY big point.
    Really? Most religious people I know use it as a way of explaining how everything got here, even though that explanation has no legitimate foundation. They also use it to dictate who and what has rights and for what reasons. Using it simply for spiritual fulfillment sounds nice, but it's used for a lot more nefarious purposes than that. Because when talking about religion, rather than just Christianity, you also have to look at the religions who haven't had a reformation - religions like Islam, for example.

    People use religion as an explanation for everything. How they got there, how they should live their life, etc. That's what the majority uses it for. That's why things that get in the way of, say, the Book of Genesis, like evolution does, is so blindly denied by them - it doesn't fit with what they think is right. Only the most liberal of religious people use religion foremost for spiritual fulfillment. If that was the case for all religious people, I wouldn't have too much of an issue with it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blazekickblaziken View Post
    I'm kinda confused as to how you think christianity works. I mean I'm no theologist, but I'm pretty sure that's an overly simplified stance on how religion in general and christianity in specific works.
    It's not like you can trust theologists either, so it doesn't matter. They have no way of verifying their interpretations.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blazekickblaziken View Post
    Regarding Christianity first of all we have to consider that the bible is divided into the old and new testaments. When the new testament came around the old testament became obsolete. So I have no idea why people love quoting the old testament.
    The New Testament acknowledges that the Old Testament is legit. Jesus himself said he did not come to abolish the old law.

    And the New Testament does not look kindly on homosexuality either. Here are some of the most obvious examples:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosex..._New_Testament

    Of course, I'm all for throwing parts of the Bible out of the window, but for the sake of consistency you should throw the whole thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blazekickblaziken View Post
    Second, the bible is subject to MUCH interpretation. It was written in a different language, translated times upon times upon times, and was written within a historical context.
    Which makes it even more useless as a moral guide, doesn't it? If you write some guidelines in a book, write them clearly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blazekickblaziken View Post
    For example, the whole Sodom thing. The generally accepted interpretation is that it condemns homosexuality. However it can also be interpreted be a parable about the importance of hospitality to strangers. After a little research I also found this interpretation:
    You can interpret anything as a metaphor if you try desperately enough. How are we supposed to find out which interpretation is correct? Ask the original authors? Can't do that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blazekickblaziken View Post
    Regarding religion in general, people don't practice religions to have a rulebook to life, per se. Religion is first and foremost about spiritual fulfillment and/or tradition(my family is x religion and I was raised that religion so I will continue to be that religion). Rule-lawyering the religious with out considering that part first is kinda missing a REALLY big point.
    Some people do want to get a rulebook to life. In this very thread, one person could not even understand from where atheists get their moral values.

    Spiritual fulfillment and tradition lead to rule-lawyering indirectly because tradition and spiritual fulfillment compel people to follow the rules of their religion. At least to some extent.

    Besides, spiritual fulfillment and tradition are also horrible reasons for doing anything in general.

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    The point I'm making, which you're missing because you're way to busy with your anti-theism bandwagon, is that saying "you either follow the bible or you don't" is a very flawed stance. Within Christianity alone there are so many denominations, each with varying interpretations of the bible, that for all anyone knows the ones who are picking and choosing, aren't really picking and choosing so much as interpreting the text in a different way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blazekickblaziken View Post
    The point I'm making, which you're missing because you're way to busy with your anti-theism bandwagon, is that saying "you either follow the bible or you don't" is a very flawed stance. Within Christianity alone there are so many denominations, each with varying interpretations of the bible, that for all anyone knows the ones who are picking and choosing, aren't really picking and choosing so much as interpreting the text in a different way.
    Where do you draw the distinction between picking and choosing and interpretation?


    I'm still loving the fact that there's a discussion here that's using multiple interpretations in favor of Christianity. Didn't Paul say something like you should all believe the same thing? He directly spoke against having multiple interpretations. And he also said God isn't the author of confusion... but it's hard to think of a book that's caused more confusion, thank you Dan Barker.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blazekickblaziken View Post
    The point I'm making, which you're missing because you're way to busy with your anti-theism bandwagon, is that saying "you either follow the bible or you don't" is a very flawed stance. Within Christianity alone there are so many denominations, each with varying interpretations of the bible, that for all anyone knows the ones who are picking and choosing, aren't really picking and choosing so much as interpreting the text in a different way.
    Clearly at most one of those denominations can be correct.
    Jackpot!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brutaka View Post
    Where do you draw the distinction between picking and choosing and interpretation?
    Why should we? If anything picking and choosing and re-interpretations are are generally speaking what causes religion to move forward. Sure every now and then you get the WBC, but generally speaking it is done in a more progressive way. If anything it should be encouraged that they re-interpret their religion constantly so that they may be more attuned to modern values.

    Re: Paul, maybe there is only one way to interpret the bible. But this one specific way of interpreting the bible is STEEPED in historical context that is completely alien to us today. So even if there is only one way to interpret it today, we still have to figure out what it is. Which is exactly why there are different denominations of Christianity.

    @Sadib

    OR more likely different churches have different interpretions, some of which are right/close enough, some of which are wrong, some of which aren't that different from each other.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blazekickblaziken View Post
    Why should we? If anything picking and choosing and re-interpretations are are generally speaking what causes religion to move forward. Sure every now and then you get the WBC, but generally speaking it is done in a more progressive way. If anything it should be encouraged that they re-interpret their religion constantly so that they may be more attuned to modern values.
    But isn't this the book that's supposed to be the guiding force in Christianity? This is the thing that's supposed to tell you what your values should be, and ultimately, how to ensure the safety of your soul in the afterlife. For the rest of eternity! We can't even comprehend that! Compared to eternity, our time here is literally - not practically, literally - zero. It is nothing. This seems like kinda an important book that you'd want to have right! In that sense, modern values don't mean anything because the Bible isn't supposed to solely function as a book of morals - which it does horribly anyway. No, it's supposed to save your soul from condemnation.

    Re: Paul, maybe there is only one way to interpret the bible. But this one specific way of interpreting the bible is STEEPED in historical context that is completely alien to us today. So even if there is only one way to interpret it today, we still have to figure out what it is. Which is exactly why there are different denominations of Christianity.
    If the goal is to approximate truth as close as possible, denominations should be converging - growing more similar. Instead, they appear to be fracturing ever further apart.
    And if it's supposedly steeped in this historical context, then that means that we knew the true interpretation once before, but arguably never will again today. And the further these denominations fragment, the farther it gets, not closer.

    And then that's all assuming this Bible actually has anything going for it in terms of validity. Which there isn't much of that anyway.

    @Sadib

    OR more likely different churches have different interpretions, some of which are right/close enough, some of which are wrong, some of which aren't that different from each other.
    We're talking about denominations, not just simple interpretations. I'm pretty sure of Mormonism was correct, that invalidate all the other denominations.


    You know, you accused of us not knowing how Christianity works. I don't think YOU know how it works - out there, with the common folk. Religion to common person is a collection of facts and morals. They believe the things that it teaches are historical truth or parables to live your life by (and which is which depends on what sounds the nicest - that's what we call cherry-picking). It's supposed to be the light - the way. The Bible is flawless to them. Which it has to be, since it's what's supposed to save them from eternal suffering. Their existence depends on that book being right. Which is why the different denominations throw a wrench into that.

    I don't care if you believe that there should be different, similarly correct denominations, or that you should adjust religion to suit modern values - because that's not what the common folk believes. The Christianity you're proposing is so, so incredibly watered down from what it actually is that I'm surprised you're even bothering with it at all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blazekickblaziken View Post
    The point I'm making, which you're missing because you're way to busy with your anti-theism bandwagon, is that saying "you either follow the bible or you don't" is a very flawed stance. Within Christianity alone there are so many denominations, each with varying interpretations of the bible, that for all anyone knows the ones who are picking and choosing, aren't really picking and choosing so much as interpreting the text in a different way.
    You can interpret any text in many different ways, but I never contested that fact. What I'm interested in is wanting to know is how to determine which of the interpretations is correct. Otherwise the text is too unreliable to act as a moral guideline. (There are obviously also other reasons why it's unfit to act as a moral guideline, but that isn't the point here.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Blazekickblaziken View Post
    Why should we? If anything picking and choosing and re-interpretations are are generally speaking what causes religion to move forward. Sure every now and then you get the WBC, but generally speaking it is done in a more progressive way. If anything it should be encouraged that they re-interpret their religion constantly so that they may be more attuned to modern values.
    Isn't the most reliable and efficient way of interpreting facts doing it rationally and with an open mind? Therefore, the most reliable and efficient intepreter of a religion would be an atheist because he would be free of religious dogmatism. Like I said a few times before, the logical conclusion of this "progressive reinterpretation" of yours is abandoning religion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blazekickblaziken View Post
    Re: Paul, maybe there is only one way to interpret the bible. But this one specific way of interpreting the bible is STEEPED in historical context that is completely alien to us today. So even if there is only one way to interpret it today, we still have to figure out what it is. Which is exactly why there are different denominations of Christianity.

    @Sadib

    OR more likely different churches have different interpretions, some of which are right/close enough, some of which are wrong, some of which aren't that different from each other.
    What is your method for determining which interpretation is correct? Physicists carry out experiments to validate their claims. What can theologians do?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brutaka View Post
    But isn't this the book that's supposed to be the guiding force in Christianity? This is the thing that's supposed to tell you what your values should be, and ultimately, how to ensure the safety of your soul in the afterlife. For the rest of eternity! We can't even comprehend that! Compared to eternity, our time here is literally - not practically, literally - zero. It is nothing. This seems like kinda an important book that you'd want to have right! In that sense, modern values don't mean anything because the Bible isn't supposed to solely function as a book of morals - which it does horribly anyway. No, it's supposed to save your soul from condemnation.
    Mostly I'm just confounded as to why if you're so against Christianity (and presumably other religions) why you're so bent on it working how you want it to work. Culture evolves and religion is re-contextualized (regardless of whether it does so kicking and screaming or willingly). Also the bible is supposed to save your soul from hell by teaching you how to live your life based on certain moral values.
    If the goal is to approximate truth as close as possible, denominations should be converging - growing more similar. Instead, they appear to be fracturing ever further apart.
    And if it's supposedly steeped in this historical context, then that means that we knew the true interpretation once before, but arguably never will again today. And the further these denominations fragment, the farther it gets, not closer.
    ...Unless different people thought different interpretations were correct. Why would you assume that different people searching for truth in an ancient text with no connection to the historical context in which it was written would eventually arrive at the same conclusion? I mean, sure, we can probably learn enough about history to reach a conclusion about what certain things were supposed to mean, but eventually judgement calls *WILL* have to be made.

    I mean, let's imagine that there was a passage that read "Treat your wife well for she is your caretaker and the mother of your children."

    Now obviously it's purpose is to tell you to not be a horrible husband. BUT is it also meant to teach you what a woman's place in the home is OR is it just trying to illustrate a point with an example that resonates and is relevant with the audience at the time?

    We're talking about denominations, not just simple interpretations. I'm pretty sure of Mormonism was correct, that invalidate all the other denominations.
    That's kinda the whole thing about different denominations. They are based on different interpretations of the bible.

    You know, you accused of us not knowing how Christianity works. I don't think YOU know how it works - out there, with the common folk. Religion to common person is a collection of facts and morals. They believe the things that it teaches are historical truth or parables to live your life by (and which is which depends on what sounds the nicest - that's what we call cherry-picking). It's supposed to be the light - the way. The Bible is flawless to them. Which it has to be, since it's what's supposed to save them from eternal suffering. Their existence depends on that book being right. Which is why the different denominations throw a wrench into that.
    Religion to the common person is about a LOT of things: spiritual fulfillment, community, tradition/culture, rules and morals. As an individual traverses through life they gather information which either reinforces or attacks their religious beliefs. When the cognitive dissonance arises the individual then either changes their behavior or their beliefs. Also, the bible doesn't necessarily have to be flawless(by which I mean flawless as written), only if you subscribe to the theory of biblical inerrancy or infallibility. And even then, only if you believe in literal interpretation. Which while many churches as institutions might, one should probably not assume the same of the individual.

    Also, BTW, I haven't identified as christian in YEARS. I might jokingly refer to myself as culturally catholic, but usually I just identify as secular.
    Last edited by Blazekickblaziken; 7th July 2014 at 6:31 PM.

  11. #661
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blazekickblaziken View Post
    Mostly I'm just confounded as to why if you're so against Christianity (and presumably other religions) why you're so bent on it working how you want it to work. Culture evolves and religion is re-contextualized (regardless of whether it does so kicking and screaming or willingly). Also the bible is supposed to save your soul from hell by teaching you how to live your life based on certain moral values.
    I'm not saying how it should work, I'm saying how it does work, right now, for the majority of people.

    And no. It doesn't save you from hell by teaching you to live morally, or else there'd be no reason to be Christian - you can just be a good person and still go to heaven or whatever. The one sin among all other that God himself can never, ever, forgive is disbelief - skepticism. Any other moral injustice can be repented - but not disbelief. This isn't my opinion. This is what the Bible says, this is what I'm told be every Christian ever (bar the pope), and this is what Christian celebrities (Ham, Hovind, Cameron, Comfort, D'Souza, etc) say.

    ...Unless different people thought different interpretations were correct. Why would you assume that different people searching for truth in an ancient text with no connection to the historical context in which it was written would eventually arrive at the same conclusion? I mean, sure, we can probably learn enough about history to reach a conclusion about what certain things were supposed to mean, but eventually judgement calls *WILL* have to be made.
    Because if the Bible had truth in it and they were legitimately try to find it, they would. If they never found the same truth, then at the very best, all but one would be hopelessly misguided. And most probably, they'd ALL be wrong, which is what we were saying before.

    That's kinda the whole thing about different denominations. They are based on different interpretations of the bible.
    Not just interpretations. Some even add pieces, like The Book of Mormon.
    Every Christian has their own interpretation, but the ones most similar are grouped as denominations. Categorization error you've got there.

    Religion to the common person is about a LOT of things: spiritual fulfillment, community, tradition/culture, rules and morals. As an individual traverses through life they gather information which either reinforces or attacks their religious beliefs. When the cognitive dissonance arises the individual then either changes their behavior or their beliefs. Also, the bible doesn't necessarily have to be flawless(by which I mean flawless as written), only if you subscribe to the theory of biblical inerrancy or infallibility. And even then, only if you believe in literal interpretation. Which while many churches as institutions might, one should probably not assume the same of the individual.
    The problem is that if you remove factual validity from the Bible and you simplify to those things you listed (also removing supernatural intervention and the afterlife), you have just removed religion from itself! All that's left is philosophy!
    If you remove the biggest places religion works in - the supernatural - and reduce to only a moral guideline, it's simply not religious anymore and there's nothing here to debate.
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    Faith leaders want to be exempted from hiring LGBT workers.

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/faith...-lobby-ruling/

    You see this right there? This is proof that in the end regarding the Hobby Lobby ruling that those such as Scott Lively who created anti-gay laws in Uganda, the Texas GOP who endorsed gay conversion therapy despite it being discredited, and the history of bigots using religion in discriminating against other races as a whole...

    Religion was always used as a Con game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blazekickblaziken View Post
    Mostly I'm just confounded as to why if you're so against Christianity (and presumably other religions) why you're so bent on it working how you want it to work. Culture evolves and religion is re-contextualized (regardless of whether it does so kicking and screaming or willingly). Also the bible is supposed to save your soul from hell by teaching you how to live your life based on certain moral values.
    The bible saves you from hell only through your belief in god. If it were to just teach you morals, then Dante's "virtuous pagans" wouldn't be in hell, because they were good, moral people. For some reason, salvation comes only through your blind faith in a being that you have to accept without any proof, and pray for a better life after you are dead. Christianity is not a religion where you can choose not to abide by the supernatural doctrine and live happily after ever. To save your soul, literally the only thing you have to do is believe in god. And go to church on Sunday and repent for all your sins, because if you confess, it makes everything all better.

    Quote Originally Posted by Silver Soul View Post
    Faith leaders want to be exempted from hiring LGBT workers.

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/faith...-lobby-ruling/

    You see this right there? This is proof that in the end regarding the Hobby Lobby ruling that those such as Scott Lively who created anti-gay laws in Uganda, the Texas GOP who endorsed gay conversion therapy despite it being discredited, and the history of bigots using religion in discriminating against other races as a whole...

    Religion was always used as a Con game.
    Religion is just a tool to get the masses to conform with the temptation of spiritual redemption. It, by its use, can be manipulative and used for great evils. (eg: The Crusades)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blazekickblaziken View Post
    Mostly I'm just confounded as to why if you're so against Christianity (and presumably other religions) why you're so bent on it working how you want it to work.
    As a whole it doesn't work for good, so the expected conclusion should be that it is eliminated. Most that look to see how it "works" are repulsed.

    Culture evolves and religion is re-contextualized (regardless of whether it does so kicking and screaming or willingly).
    Religion either evolves or goes extinct, which is quite ironic given how most of them are repulsed by the slightest mention of evolutionary biology or it's repercussions on social theory.

    Also the bible is supposed to save your soul from hell by teaching you how to live your life based on certain moral values.
    Isn't it nice that biblical writings created hell, so we could be saved from it? And who wouldn't want to live their lives based entirely off of a scripture that originally "cured" leprosy by carving up birds?

    I mean, sure, we can probably learn enough about history to reach a conclusion about what certain things were supposed to mean, but eventually judgement calls *WILL* have to be made.
    This is true, and the sole reason that people who want to claim another person is not a "true member of x religion" are so very wrong.

    And even then, only if you believe in literal interpretation. Which while many churches as institutions might, one should probably not assume the same of the individual.
    The fact that an infallible god had to stoop to allegory and hazy descriptors at all is a bit shady. I'm far from infallible, but even with my limited knowledge I could assemble a book that 1,000 years ago would be nothing short of groundbreaking genius.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Federation View Post
    This is true, and the sole reason that people who want to claim another person is not a "true member of x religion" are so very wrong.
    I agree with not doing this based off someone's interpretation of their holy book, but I see no reason to not claim someone who has not even bothered to read their holy book is not a true member of their religion


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    Religion has absolutely NO need to be in our society. be it muslim christianity or judaism, religion shouldnt dictate anything in our daily lives, government or legal system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sadib View Post
    Wait. You're not Christian? Why are you against homosexuality then? If you're asking why don't all Christians interpret every single word of the Bible literally, that's something I also want to know. I think it has something to do with the Bible not aging very well, with some passages seeming outright barbaric with today's standards Anyone who tried to follow it literally would be dismissed as a caveperson. People have to adapt and ignore their religious texts. Hence why Mormons no longer black people.
    Anyone of any of the 3 Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) who follows the "word of God" to the tee would be considered an extremist by today's standards. All 3 say that working on the Sabbath (different days for each I believe) are to be stoned to death. Or the passages in the Quran about killing infidels, which only extremists believe in obviously. I believe that's why people pick and choose (although it seems pretty barbaric to me to condemn homosexuality like we see in today's society).

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    Quote Originally Posted by XxPhoenixFlamexX View Post
    Anyone of any of the 3 Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) who follows the "word of God" to the tee would be considered an extremist by today's standards. All 3 say that working on the Sabbath (different days for each I believe) are to be stoned to death. Or the passages in the Quran about killing infidels, which only extremists believe in obviously. I believe that's why people pick and choose (although it seems pretty barbaric to me to condemn homosexuality like we see in today's society).
    Well that's the point, right?
    People are barely even following their own religion anymore - they're just following whatever they want to. Which destroys any factual validity the thing has.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brutaka View Post
    Well that's the point, right?
    People are barely even following their own religion anymore - they're just following whatever they want to. Which destroys any factual validity the thing has.
    Which is exactly why religion of any kind has no basis in political decisions that affect anybody.

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    I probably won't be posting again anytime soon, but gonna give my two cents regarding the OP's post anyway. That said, my post is long. Very long. I imagine that most people will find that I’m not really answering the question either most of the time and instead giving some meta-commentary about the debate as a whole, which is probably true. Part of this is that I feel the need to discuss my opinion delicately and in painstaking detail. I generally consider religion unimportant to my life—a practical atheist (or apatheist) if you will—but also have respect to those who are religious. However, I’m not intimately familiar with any religion. If you feel that I am misrepresenting Christianity or religion, feel free to correct me. I don’t claim to be a Christian—I’m not. I don't claim to understand the Bible very well either—I don't. However, I feel I can’t interject or share my two thoughts without at least attempting to use examples involving religion—which puts in the peculiar predicament of trying to occasionally discuss something I know very little about. I feel that being up front about that is important, since I am trying very hard to explore the issue as respectfully as can within my own purview of the subject.

    On the subject of length, I have included a bulleted 'tl;dr' list at the bottom, if you might prefer to read that instead.
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _____________

    To address the OP's question, I feel the phrase 'has a place' in society' is, in short, a poorly defined question. The fact that we're all even vaguely aware of what Christianity is proves that religion has some influence on society. Religion, in this sense, is relevant to all of us even if we may not necessarily follow those religions. This can be seen in religion based on classical mythology, which many of us to be consider nearly extinct, and yet countless fiction still makes reference to that classical mythology.

    But that has to do with religion *as* a mythology. Now, to avoid the connotations of the word mythology, I will be using the operational definition that mythology is a collection of stories associated with a particular religion, especially stories that are culturally relevant. In particular, I am not asserting mythology implies fiction or nonfiction. Christian mythology (i.e. the stories of the Bible), in this sense, have a place in society. They serve as a common source of knowledge whose symbolism and allusions are well understood by nearly everyone, their religion notwithstanding. If I see a cross, I know what symbol it refers too—or at least I know it refers to the story of Jesus dying on the cross. I'm not going to bother to describe what abstract concept the cross represents (I'd argue a symbol of death and rebirth, but the symbolism of the cross is neither here nor there), but the point is we understand that the cross references the story of Jesus' death and we can attach meaning to that.

    Of course, I'm pretty sure that isn't really the question you're looking to be answered. By 'place in society,' I think what questions we're really interest in asking are:
    • What's the verity of religion?
    • Should religion hold political influence?
    • Is religion a 'problem' that needs to be scrutinized?


    I will address the thought of all three of these in turn.

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _____________

    The verity of religion

    Or simply, is religion true? It's difficult to establish where exactly religion was doubted, or high exactly people responded to doubt, so I'm afraid that my own response to this question will be rather modern.

    And by modern, I mean the debate of the truthfulness of religion often comes up with the verity of scientific theory, where the two intersect, and if scientific evidence (if taken as fact) contradicts religion. Or simply but more simply, the discussion concerns if religion and science are consistent.

    From a purely logical standpoint, I have to assert that there must exist a religion someone can purport that is consistent (i.e. does not contradict) science. I can assert that there existed a divine magical pastafarian blob in the middle of nowhere that created the singularity from which the big bang happened, and defer more or less to the scientific evidence to fill in the blanks (i.e. big bang theory/evolution and so on). Moreover, when I say "exists," I mean in the driest way possible, i.e. existence as defined by pure logic.

    There a few argument I hear against this. The first is a 'turtles all the way down' argument: i.e. if something created the big bang, then what created that something. If another something created that something, what created that? And so on. Okay, I can agree that this is a valid point: neither religion nor science provide a thoroughly exhaustive answer. However, that's all this point amounts too. The only time this point actually contradicts an argument is if someone asserts (either explicitly or implicitly) that religion or science is exhaustive.

    However, this is often turned on people advocating against religion that time started with the big bang, and therefore the question of what occurs before the big bang is meaningless question. This is only works if we can show that time did in fact come before the big bang, or that time has a beginning. However, any argument that assumes knowledge at the supposed beginning of time (i.e. beginning of planck epoch) is inherently flawed as we would need a consistent theory of general relativity and quantum mechanics to fully explore the physics in the time of planck epoch. Or, if you’d prefer a more scientific authority, you can read the 4 minute podcast here: http://radio.seti.org/blog/2012/12/b...arroll-on-cmb/ . Sean Carroll has a Ph. D in physics which probably means something, but more importantly, just pay attention to the fact Sean Carroll makes it clear asking ‘what happened before the big bang’ is a legitimate question without a clear answer. Which is all I’m trying to assert. Point is, the argument that science is exhaustive because the big bang can adequately answer what happened before the big bang (i.e. by saying the question is meaningless a la asking what’s north of the north pole) is a flawed argument. Science isn’t exhaustive. Period. If science were exhaustive, we probably wouldn’t be continuing to find out more about it.

    So, as it stands, I’d argue that you can conceive a religion that’s compatible with science. But even then, that’s still beating around the elephant in the room: is science consistent with religions that people believe en masse? In this case, Christianity, the religion in question is often Christianity.

    To be honest, I really don’t know, because I’m rather ignorant of Christianity myself. Young Earth Creationism itself contradicts scientific body of evidence in flying colors, and most ‘evidence’ I see from YEC Intelligent Design (e.g., such that discussed in Of Pandas and People) tend to be a gross attempt at trying disprove scientific evidence supporting evolution and, uhh, I guess what might be called the old earth theory (I seldom see the big bang theory touched, but it’s bullied as well). However, I feel this is a conflict of misunderstanding, for reasons Feynman explained in a speech concerning religion and science.
    Feynman, in his own speech about religion and science, identified three major reasons why people believe in religion. The first is metaphysical, that is simply to answer the question of how the universe came to be; the next is ethical, that is it tells us how to behave; thirdly is that it’s inspirational, that is its mythology can inspire great deeds, thoughts, and even works of art.

    Feynman source: http://calteches.library.caltech.edu/49/2/Religion.htm

    When we really are concerned about the conflict of religion and science, we are immediately fixed on the first aspect: that is, the metaphysical. In fact, I will quote Feynman directly, since I feel that he says it better than I could:

    These three aspects of religion are interconnected, and it is generally felt, in view of this close integration of ideas, that to attack one feature of the system is to attack the whole structure. The three aspects are connected more or less as follows: The moral aspect, the moral code, is the word of God – which involves us in a metaphysical question. Then the inspiration comes because one is working the will of God; one is for God; partly one feels that one is with God. And this is a great inspiration because it brings one's actions in contact with the universe at large.

    So these three things are very well interconnected. The difficulty is this: that science occasionally conflicts with the first of the three categories – the metaphysical aspect of religion. For instance, in the past there was an argument about whether the earth was the center of the universe – whether the earth moved around the sun or stayed still. The result of all this was a terrible strife and difficulty, but it was finally resolved – with religion retreating in this particular case. More recently there was a conflict over the question of whether man has animal ancestry.

    The result in many of these situations is a retreat of the religious metaphysical view, but nevertheless, there is no collapse of the religion. And further, there seems to be no appreciable or fundamental change in the moral view.

    After all, the earth moves around the sun – isn't it best to turn the other cheek? Does it make any difference whether the earth is standing still or moving around the sun? We can expect conflict again. Science is developing and new things will be found out which will be in disagreement with the present day metaphysical theory of certain religions. In fact, even with all the past retreats of religion, there is still real conflict for particular individuals when they learn about the science and they have heard about the religion. The thing has not been integrated very well; there are real conflicts here – and yet morals are not affected.

    As a matter of fact, the conflict is doubly difficult in this metaphysical region. Firstly, the facts may be in conflict, but even if the facts were not in conflict, the attitude is different. The spirit of uncertainty in science is an attitude toward the metaphysical questions that is quite different from the certainty and faith that is demanded in religion. There is definitely a conflict, I believe – both in fact and in spirit – over the metaphysical aspects of religion.

    In my opinion, it is not possible for religion to find a set of metaphysical ideas which will be guaranteed not to get into conflicts with an ever advancing and always changing science which is going into an unknown. We don't know how to answer the questions; it is impossible to find an answer which someday will not be found to be wrong. The difficulty arises because science and religion are both trying to answer questions in the same realm here.
    However, the reason why I feel that the metaphysics of religion, or even the idea of science vs religion, isn’t the main purpose of our thread, although we can identify concrete objections to religion’s metaphysics, is because we are chiefly concerned with moral objections to religion’s (particularly Christianity’s) ethics. In particular, to what extent should religious ethics be tolerated, particularly where policy is concerned. For this reason, I will now turn to the next question: should religion influence policy.


    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _____________
    Religion and Politics
    So, I have now asserted that objections to the verity of religion usually concern whether or not religion’s metaphysics contradict (or do not contradict) science; but our own objections—which deal with morality—deal instead with the ethics of religion. This is particularly true where policy is concerned and to what extent religion can and should influence policy, as these influences rules that can very easily affect our lives in the name of a system of belief we not even subscribe to.

    The first question is whether or not religion should affect politics. The short answer, for me, can best be summed as “yes asterisk” or if you will, “it’s usually fine, but sometimes not.” As a whole, I don’t have people basing their ethics off religion. Religion has influence society for a long time that there is a surprisingly strong agreement between common secular morality and religious morality for most major religions. For example, most of us can agree homicide is bad (except in cases of defense or an otherwise ‘bone fide’ killing), stealing from others is bad, and so on. Religion, particularly organized religion, will themselves develop some opinion on nearly every ethical issue based on their holy text, and then support any policy that helps them with that ethics.
    Of course, again, in the context of modern America, by religion, we mostly mean Christianity. But even here, I don’t find most of what Christians support (whether they be a vocal minority or true majority) objectionable. It’s the few fringe cases that I, and many others, have a problem with, and it’s those fringe cases where people are concerned.

    To be specific as to what fringe cases I have in mind, consider issues such as politics about LGBTQ rights, birth control, and what should be taught in the classroom (whether it be sexual education, evolution, or what-have-you). Now, I am identifying these cases on the basis that these are heated issues and people will complain about them, often with one side or another citing religion en masse. Much like the verity of religion was fundamentally an issue of how metaphysics compares against scientific evidence; a lot of concern about religion ethics concerns when morality based on religion contradicts a strong secular consensus. In the example of sexual education, for example, the major concern is that one group of people will argue that people need to learn to protect themselves, whereas another group will argue that people shouldn’t be exposed to sex in general, or at least at the age when sexual education occurs. Typically, the former view is called the ‘secular’ opinion whereas the latter view is called the ‘religious’ opinion, albeit, that implies that the latter view is the dominant religious view and not a vocal minority. Either way, the latter view is often justified to its advocates on the basis of religion, wherein Christianity vividly supports that sex for any reason that isn’t procreation is bad and thus, by extension, exposing children to sexual education (which usually includes a unit on how to protect yourselves) is unnecessary but could be seen as supporting sex for a reason outside of procreation by educating people about the means they can have sex and not a baby. I want to emphasize though, I’m not saying that this is the dominant Christian view, but rather religion plays a role in shaping one side's views of the issue—enough so that religion inevitably becomes part of the discussion concern sexual education policies.

    However, when discussing whether or not religious ethics are themselves moral, particular Christian ethics, there is a temptation to cite historical example, such as crusades or what-have-you. However, one example I want to focus on—because I feel it illuminates this subject more—is the Bible’s stance on slavery. To put it bluntly, most Christians today are avidly against slavery, even though the Bible may condone slavery—at least, if taken very literally. The modern response to this, however, is that ‘slavery’ in Biblical times was vastly different to the racially charged slavery we are familiar with in American history. Regardless of the ‘modern’ view of the Bible and slavery, I still want to bring up that during that racially charged period in American history, religion was used as a basis to support slavery. Of course, nowadays, no one worth mentioning uses the Bible to support slavery in America.

    And the reason behind this is that the Bible isn’t nearly as static as we might think. Sure, it’s not exactly going to have a second edition that will include a new chapter or two that most Christians will readily adopt, but the only thing that’s truly static about it are the words we have that communicates the passage. Actually translating those words to a cohesive ethic code is something else entirely. The issue around sex, for example, can’t be stated without first bringing up how important procreation was in biblical times when infant mortality rates were horrific you honestly needed every able-body woman to produce babies—as terrible as it sounds. This, of course, loses relevance in modern times. In this case, the Bible is a leaving, breathing document that is forever ‘open to interpretation,’ so long as you have the analysis to back it up.

    And it’s for that reason I don’t feel that the role religion plays in some politics, such as the aforementioned LGBTQ politics, it itself so suspect that religion must be condemned. Whereas people do in fact use the Bible to justify their stance against homosexuality, I feel that in time this view will fade away and will be replaced by the more modern so-called secular view, and people will go on believing in Christ and what-have-you. I’m pretty sure it isn’t hard to find people who are fine with homosexuality up to and including same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination laws (at least, for jobs that are specifically non-religious); not to mention gay pastors exists. For me, that’s proof enough that the Bible and these ‘sticky’ societal issues can coexist. It’s simply a matter of people changing their interpretation of the Bible to accommodate what is becoming an increasingly more modern view.

    And for that reason, my full answer to whether or not religion should play a role in politics is this: sure, people can base their politics—at least in regards to ethics—on their religion, but the view must be such that it ‘optimizes’ the benefits to everyone if the view is written into law. When I saw optimizes benefits to everyone, I grossly mean the policy that minimizes the injury (as in legal injury) to people. I suppose this isn’t any different from saying, ‘any law is okay, so long as it has a secular basis.’ But even then, I’m fine with religion being a driving force so long as that secular basis is there. For example, churches are treated as non-profits in terms of taxing just like any other non-profit (at least, that’s the de jure case), and I’d imagine the declaration of churches as non-profits was driven by religious motivation. Religion is a protected class (i.e. one cannot deny you goods or services based on religion), and is perhaps unique as the only protected class that’s particularly mutable—again, that protected class was probably motivated by religion and probably even propagated through religion as the bill establishing protected classes was very racially charged.

    Moreover, I’m not only fine with religion being the basis for people’s political opinions, but also for people voicing their opinions expressing their religious platform. The only time when I cross the line is when the issue has no reasonable secular basis—even if individual supporters could give a damn about the secular basis. However, given that most of the issues where religion becomes suspect happen to be the cases where there is no reasonable secular basis, I feel that the anti-religious stance of separation of church and state becomes over-pronounced. For example, if someone said that we need a government program to provide shelter to people because “God willed people to work together,” I wouldn't object to that policy because of the religious motivation. More power to them. If someone says we need to ban evolution from being taught in science classrooms because “God created man in past 6000 years,” that invokes a very different reaction. My objections lie on how well religion lines up with secular interests, not with the religious basis itself.

    But, because statements such as evolution should be banned in classrooms because 'God created man in the past 6000 years,' are a dime a dozen--and many other statements that illogically and fallaciously appeal to religion, a question of whether or not religion should be objected given that influential figures may abuse religion does become a concern. In fact, this may be a very particular reason why we examine whether or not religion should be objected from society.


    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _____________
    Legitimacy of Religion
    Both the Verity of Religion and Politics and Religion discussion dealt with objections to metaphysics and ethics of religion. Of course, rather than going to every arena, I feel that addressing the question head-on is more appropriate: should religion be suspect and perhaps even rejected.

    This is really two questions, the first being is if whether or not religion should be suspect. Perhaps because I tend to study science a lot and that whole ‘question everything’ mentality is beaten into me, I feel that questioning what you take as fact is important no matter what you believe in: whether it concern the physical, ethical, or philosophy. Even if you accept something like the Bible as truth, what exactly the Bible means is a whole other story. The fact there are scholars analyzing the Bible who themselves identify as Christian is proof enough that people do not have a perfect consensus on what the Bible means, what God wills, or what Jesus preached. This can apply, presumably, to any other religion. Questioning what the Bible means is important. Even a statement like ‘thou shalt not kill’ may seem simple enough, but of course we can take it to the extreme when people kill in self-defense. You could try to argue that ‘kill’ in that context means ‘murder,’ but that’s a weak, tautological, and circular argument as murder means ‘wrongful killing’—of course murder is wrong because murder is defined to be wrong and does not clarify whether or not circumstances A or B are considered murder. And that’s just one puny seemingly direct statement out of a book that contains hundreds of pages. While I’m not religious myself—and perhaps my ignorance of religion skews my perspective—but learning what exactly a religious doctrine means isn’t as simple as listening to someone else’s analysis, reading a book, and accepting it as ‘truth’ without trying to understand the scriptures in entirety.

    Now, to be fair, that doesn’t mean you should disregard what people say on the Bible, including people whose occupation is to study the Bible (in case of Christianity, an example of such a profession would be a pastor). People who study the Bible have a lot of knowledge about it, certainly more than someone who hasn’t even read a single page out of the thing and relies on cultural osmosis (e.g. I fall in the latter group). However, without that perfect consensus, not all questions will be answered and people’s faith can be abused, and probably will. In that sense, I do believe religion should be suspect—something that should be in part doubted. Or to put it more friendly terms, if there is no clear consensus on what the Bible means, then what you read in the Bible should be understood as being open to interpretation. Challenge whether or not what you read seems to fit into a cohesive Christian-based ideology or if a particular statement may be more than meets the eye. But, because the Bible is open for interpretation, there is concern that people will take advantage of the uncertainty is used this to push an agenda that may not be wholesomely religious in nature. I.e., people will claim something is God’s will without explaining why it’s God’s will simply because there is not a perfectly concrete consensus on what God's will is.

    On the other hand, whether or not we should suspect religion of falsehood is a different story. As explained earlier, most of the suspect of religion concern both its ethical and metaphysical objections, as well as religion’s influence on historical events—particularly when said historical event is held in very low esteem. And to this point, an entirely different question emerges: should we disregard religion altogether and, effectively abolish religion.

    My answer to this is no. Even if we were to dislike religion, religious functions serve major contributes to society. Churches, for example, serve as both a social and supportive junction—and in particular, this social gathering is highly organized. This isn’t exactly a function that other groups tend to accomplish: sure, school clubs may organize social gatherings, but club members aren’t exactly going to help you with rent if end up in a very ugly financial situation. Other junctions might be supportive—such as Alcoholics Anonymous—but chances are you approach those junctions because you are seeking support. This isn’t even touching some important contributions, such as (for example) Habitat for Humanity whose mission (per their mission statement) is highly motivated by religion but whose deed (i.e. building houses and prividing affordable furniture for the lower class) is very practical and non-religious. Often times focusing on the bad of religion makes it easy to neglect the good, and even if you dislike the simply idea that all of this motivation might have been the result of a falsehood, I still feel that religion can contribute to society in a meaningful, positive way.

    So, to finally answer what I interpreted the OP’s question to mean, I do believe that religion (and non-religion, for that matter) does serve a legitimate role in society. While I wouldn’t go far to say this role should be revered—nor to do I feel should that role be reveled—the role should be respected. Respected in the sense we accept—or rather don’t reject—that person simply because their worldview varies from ours.
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _____________

    And I suppose that’s where I’ll leave it. So, I suppose I should give my tl;dr version since my two cents were rather long-winded:
    • The metaphysics of religion (e.g. did God create the earth) serve as a major point of discussion because it’s the area that most clearly contradicts concrete evidence—in particular its relationship to science.
    • However, the real concern with science vs religion is simply because metaphysics often seems to fly in the face of science—particularly extreme versions such as Young Earth Creationism. The idea being that if the metaphysics of religion contradicts reality, perhaps then the religion as a whole contradicts reality and is false. Whether or not that line of logic is true is something I’ll let people here wrangle with instead.
    • However, metaphysics aside, the major concern with religion mostly concerns its societal effects and whether the idea that religion may motivate a moral code that does not serve a secular purpose, and more importantly, may conflict secular interests (e.g. impact religion has with LGBT rights).
    • Nevertheless, I feel that religion does serve a legitimate purpose in society and I don’t have a problem with people voicing their political opinions, even citing religion or God while doing so, is fine provided that their opinions do not egregiously conflict with secular interests. For example, someone wanting the government to provide welfare because ‘God wants people to work together’ isn’t something I have a concern with because I myself can identify a secular motivation; someone wanting to ban evolution from biology classroom on the basis ‘God created man’ does concern me, and it all comes down whether or not these religious beliefs contradict secular beliefs.
    • The role religion plays in one’s life—if religion does in fact play one—isn’t something that should be taken lightly. Even something as concrete sounding as the Bible is still open to interpretation, and that degree of uncertainty will be abused. Therefore, religion should still be suspect in the sense that we should be aware when religion is playing an active role in whether or not religion should be playing an active role in society.
    • But ultimately, since religion can do good (and can just as well do bad), we should at least accept people who are of a different religion. And for that reason, I believe that religion does justify its role in society, even if religiously-charged societal wars (like that of evolution the classroom) may grind my gears.

    ...so yes, I realize this is a freaking long post and thank you if you read it. And if you disagree, by all means, response and share your disagreement. As I said, I probably won’t respond, if for no other reason than I’m very busy and by the time I do respond, I will be reviving a week old discussion that has already moved on. I’ll probably read the response though, and will gladly appreciate any commentary.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    Even a statement like ‘thou shalt not kill’ may seem simple enough, but of course we can take it to the extreme when people kill in self-defense. You could try to argue that ‘kill’ in that context means ‘murder,’ but that’s a weak, tautological, and circular argument as murder means ‘wrongful killing’—of course murder is wrong because murder is defined to be wrong and does not clarify whether or not circumstances A or B are considered murder.
    There's a whole backlog of stuff to which I really need to respond in this thread, but one thing needs clarification here. Most translations do not use the word "kill" in the Ten Commandments. The only one I can think of at the moment that does is the King James Version, which is now more than 400 years old. (I'm not saying that is the only one; just that I can't think of any others.)

    Let me be very clear. Actually translating that Hebrew word "murder" is not restricted to people with any kind of vested interest in making the Bible look good. I don't advise simply taking my word for it, but I am relatively certain I have heard that entirely secular Jews with an interest in the language of their ancestors have contributed to scholarly linguistic resources that tell why "murder" is the most appropriate rendering there. This most likely has to do with the very fact that the Mosaic Law prescribed death as a judicial penalty for certain crimes.


    Oh, and I definitely liked plenty of other things in your post!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    I generally consider religion unimportant to my life—a practical atheist (or apatheist) if you will—but also have respect to those who are religious.
    When people say things like, "I have respect for those who are religious" it makes me wonder if it would be equally valid to say that they respect anyone and everyone they have yet to be truly acquainted with. Otherwise you would be asserting your respect for the religious as a group, a stance I personally would be curious as to why you would hold as, more or less, a bystander to religious debate.

    To address the OP's question, I feel the phrase 'has a place' in society' is, in short, a poorly defined question. The fact that we're all even vaguely aware of what Christianity is proves that religion has some influence on society.
    I think you might be confusing society for culture in this aspect, because the typical definition of society is the loose interpretation, "group geographically connected and generally sharing a governing body".

    In this respect I believe the question's phrasing to be fine.

    From a purely logical standpoint, I have to assert that there must exist a religion someone can purport that is consistent (i.e. does not contradict) science.
    Anyone can come up with a thousand different religions that don't contradict science. Non-falsifiability is not a standard to set for an idea to be valid, nor is "compliant with science". An idea should be judged on it's own merits, against the facts, against reality; scrutinizing conclusions is what allowed us to move into the world we live in today.

    Science isn’t exhaustive. Period. If science were exhaustive, we probably wouldn’t be continuing to find out more about it.
    Science is inherently non-comprehensive... If that weren't the case, we would likely know everything. That said, filling the holes of human ignorance with theological inanity is absolutely and totally unacceptable.

    However, the reason why I feel that the metaphysics of religion, or even the idea of science vs religion, isn’t the main purpose of our thread, although we can identify concrete objections to religion’s metaphysics, is because we are chiefly concerned with moral objections to religion’s (particularly Christianity’s) ethics.
    A belief rooted in falsehood held in a candid manner is perhaps potentially more harmful than any currently-existing moral quandary, because it is the spawn of newer, perhaps more harmful, moral transgressions.

    The truth of religion is every bit as important as it's moral implications and perhaps more so, because a genuinely held belief system rooted in falsity creates more issues down the road.

    But, because statements such as evolution should be banned in classrooms because 'God created man in the past 6000 years,' are a dime a dozen--and many other statements that illogically and fallaciously appeal to religion, a question of whether or not religion should be objected given that influential figures may abuse religion does become a concern. In fact, this may be a very particular reason why we examine whether or not religion should be objected from society.
    Given that religion is inherently regressive and conservative, it becomes an issue when radicals backed by big money are able to coerce and malign politicians goals to match their own are truly able to fight against the spread of knowledge.

    And to this point, an entirely different question emerges: should we disregard religion altogether and, effectively abolish religion.
    Should it be abolished through force and political movement, or should it be abolished through a resurgence of skepticism and scientific enlightenment? The difference is huge, and while I would call anyone supporting the former a fool, I would call supporters of the latter allies.

    Often times focusing on the bad of religion makes it easy to neglect the good, and even if you dislike the simply idea that all of this motivation might have been the result of a falsehood, I still feel that religion can contribute to society in a meaningful, positive way.
    Does the good religion has achieved even compare to the cruelty and destruction, or the potential for further cruelty and destruction? Shouldn't we find a better way to socialize than following a largely demonstrably false set of beliefs with high potential and capacity to harm?

    Respected in the sense we accept—or rather don’t reject—that person simply because their worldview varies from ours.
    Given the fluidity of religion, I will admit to rejecting people simply for following a certain interpretation, and when pressed, most will admit the same. How about neo-Nazi's asserting the bible's support of Mein Kampf? How about the Westboro people? Belief make a person who they are, and they can be rejected if the belief they embody is disgusting and immoral.

    This doesn't mean anyone and everyone following an ambiguation of that belief set, of course. Ideas make people who they are, and because of that, only those with disgusting ideas shouldn't be respected. We just have to be aware that the potential exists for any belief rooted in mythology and dogma has the ability to become warped and terrible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    From a purely logical standpoint, I have to assert that there must exist a religion someone can purport that is consistent (i.e. does not contradict) science. I can assert that there existed a divine magical pastafarian blob in the middle of nowhere that created the singularity from which the big bang happened, and defer more or less to the scientific evidence to fill in the blanks (i.e. big bang theory/evolution and so on).
    We can postulate an infinite number of things that are possible, but religious people don't think their postulates are only possibilities. They believe them to be the truth, which requires more evidence.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    Science isn’t exhaustive. Period. If science were exhaustive, we probably wouldn’t be continuing to find out more about it.
    Yes, but if something is unknown, we should call it unknown instead of making arbitrary guesses and calling them the truth like religion does.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    However, the reason why I feel that the metaphysics of religion, or even the idea of science vs religion, isn’t the main purpose of our thread, although we can identify concrete objections to religion’s metaphysics, is because we are chiefly concerned with moral objections to religion’s (particularly Christianity’s) ethics.
    False descriptive beliefs can lead to false normative beliefs, so the descriptive statements of religion are also relevant.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    For example, if someone said that we need a government program to provide shelter to people because “God willed people to work together,” I wouldn't object to that policy because of the religious motivation. More power to them.
    The outcome happens to be beneficial in this case, but I wouldn't praise people who do "good" deeds for the wrong reasons. If the circumstances were different, they would make the morally wrong choices instead. Would you praise a millionaire who only does charity to polish his PR image? Would you praise a politician who only helps people to stay in power?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    And to this point, an entirely different question emerges: should we disregard religion altogether and, effectively abolish religion.
    We shouldn't eliminate religion through law and force. We should eliminate it through rational argumentation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    My answer to this is no. Even if we were to dislike religion, religious functions serve major contributes to society.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    Often times focusing on the bad of religion makes it easy to neglect the good, and even if you dislike the simply idea that all of this motivation might have been the result of a falsehood, I still feel that religion can contribute to society in a meaningful, positive way.
    Everything useful religious organizations can do, secular organizations can do better.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    Churches, for example, serve as both a social and supportive junction—and in particular, this social gathering is highly organized. This isn’t exactly a function that other groups tend to accomplish: sure, school clubs may organize social gatherings, but club members aren’t exactly going to help you with rent if end up in a very ugly financial situation.
    School clubs? You sure picked an example that's convenient for your argument. I'm pretty sure atheists can do better than school clubs.

    And besides, social gatherings should be based on something better than indoctrination.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    So, to finally answer what I interpreted the OP’s question to mean, I do believe that religion (and non-religion, for that matter) does serve a legitimate role in society. While I wouldn’t go far to say this role should be revered—nor to do I feel should that role be reveled—the role should be respected. Respected in the sense we accept—or rather don’t reject—that person simply because their worldview varies from ours.
    What does "rejecting a person" mean, exactly? I don't refuse to talk with religious people, but I will point out to them where they're wrong if the topic comes up. That includes condemning any immoral beliefs they have.

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    I'll go ahead and make a response.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aegiscalibur View Post
    We can postulate an infinite number of things that are possible, but religious people don't think their postulates are only possibilities. They believe them to be the truth, which requires more evidence.
    I agree to that in order to show that their religion is true, it would require evidence. But, I suppose I'm of the opinion it's there business, and so long as it doesn't affect me, I don't particularly care how lacking their worldview is with concrete evidence. So, I suppose you can say that while I agree with the statement, I don't see what the issue is with someone believing in a possible falsehood.

    Yes, but if something is unknown, we should call it unknown instead of making arbitrary guesses and calling them the truth like religion does.
    Again, I don't particularly care what other people call the unknown. I suppose, on a philosophical and/or personal level, yes I can agree that anything without a satisfactory answer and is a mystery to us should be deemed a mystery to us.

    But even then, that depends on what you consider to be an 'arbitrary' guess. Is something like M-Theory an arbitrary guess, because it has no evidence? Or is it an educated guess, as it provides a theoretical framework that can in principle explain every law of physics? But I suppose the question you really want me to guess is whether or not I consider religion to be an arbitrary guess.

    This is a harder question for me to answer. In the realm of metaphysics, I consider religion to be an arbitrary guess. In the realm of ethics and inspiration, I feel the question requires more nuisance.

    But even then, I feel that this line of thought is ultimately contingent on our worldview. That is, a discussion on how we feel people should form their first principle.

    False descriptive beliefs can lead to false normative beliefs, so the descriptive statements of religion are also relevant.
    I can agree that they're relevant. After all, disproving a significant portion of religion can in principle disprove the entire religion as any specific religion is seen as an 'entity.' However, my point was that more that we discuss religion's metaphysics because it is the Achilles' heel of religion--that is, the part that's easiest to argue to contradict reality--even though much of concern with religion actually deals with its societal influence on policy.

    That said, the task of showing the metaphysics of a certain religion is found to contradict reality isn't nearly as simple as it sounds--mostly because religion isn't entirely static, just mostly static. There are slight dynamic changes, such as how the story of Genesis is increasingly perceived as metaphorical rather than literal. Even if is seen as a desperate attempt to remain consistent with science, by the end of the day, if we say Genesis is metaphorical then that consistency is there.

    If you want me to go on record saying it, yes I do believe that disproving one part of religion can in principle disprove the entire religion, and that metaphysics might be worth discussing for that reason.


    The outcome happens to be beneficial in this case, but I wouldn't praise people who do "good" deeds for the wrong reasons. If the circumstances were different, they would make the morally wrong choices instead. Would you praise a millionaire who only does charity to polish his PR image? Would you praise a politician who only helps people to stay in power?
    Not too long ago, the CEO of Tesla Motors pledged to donate a million dollars to a Tesla Museum and also wanted to make a Tesla Motor recharge system. Even though I'm pretty sure he only donated money to his museum because the webcomic 'The Oatmeal' brought to attention Tesla Motors used Tesla's names without giving anything back to Tesla, the alternative might have been no Tesla Museum. So, the fact that said CEO did donate money is something I would loosely call 'good news,' regardless of the circumstances.

    So to answer your question, I don't necessarily disagree with people doing good deeds for wrong reasons. Sure a millionaire donating money to charity for PR *might* rub me the wrong way, but given that the alternative is no charity money, so be it. I wouldn't praise him, mind you, but I would see the money being donated as good news by the end of the day.

    The real concern though, is that if someone does good deeds for the wrong reason, they can just as easily do bad deeds. I suppose this is a valid concern, however, I often draw a blank at thinking of what bad deeds religion does concurrently. I can identify a few social wars where religion plays a pivotal role in shaping people's opinions (LGBTQ politics, sexual education, evolution in the classroom, and abortion are literally all that comes to mind). And with one exception (that being abortion), I generally see that the more religious influence is slowly receding enough that the resolution is heading somewhere I find agreeable. However, if I'm underestimating the influence religion has in policy-making, by all means correct me.

    We shouldn't eliminate religion through law and force. We should eliminate it through rational argumentation.
    And what exactly constitutes rationality? No, seriously, I find this to be a very important question. Sure, we can dig out the dictionary definition that rational means logically sound, and therefore a rational worldview would mean a logical sound worldview. The difficultly comes in defining the word 'sound' precisely.

    A sound argument is one with true premises and a valid (consistent) framework. Typically, whether or not our premises are true is the major concern. After all, there's no basis for supposing the Bible is true--it's something you take on faith or maybe personal experience or so forth. But, my question immediately jumps to what constitutes a true statement--that is what quality endows a first premise with it being true.

    This is very tricky to answer. The scientific method doesn't focus on finding what's true--it instead focuses on what's false continuously does so. We don't know if it's right. Again, Feynman is amazing at explaining this, or here if you want the unabridged version.

    But even so, that knowledge of what is false, and therefore what's a more likely explanation, still is better at approximating reality and for that reason we might consider it 'rational,' even though I'd prefer to call it pragmatic. Whether or not it's rational or pragmatic is just debating semantics at that point, so I digress.

    When it comes to ethics, what is 'true' is even more difficult. Sure, most secular people begin with a few premises--e.g., don't hurt others--that they take as fact. They then work through the logic of what actions would be consistent with their few premises. I have trouble understanding how exactly this approach differs from someone who bases their ethics of religion beyond the fact the religious person takes nearly all the ethics they ever need as a premise. Here, I don't feel any approach is 'truer' or 'more rational' than the other--i.e. using some self-developed secular moral code or one outlined by religion--rather, the former approach might be more 'agreeable' simply because there's less premises, and thus less to disagree with.

    Either way, I suppose what I am ultimately asking is what constitutes rationality here, and in particular, what makes a secular moral code more rational than a religious moral code?

    For me, particular where moral codes are concerned, I don't see any approach being more or less rational, rather, just the secular approach might be more agreeable because there's less premises to disagree (or agree) with.

    Everything useful religious organizations can do, secular organizations can do better.
    Can you be specific as to what secular organizations you have in mind?

    Moreover, I don't know if 'better' is the right word. My argument was that churches serve a unique and beneficial junctions in a community, and in particular, identified two axes: social and supportive. Here, better breaks down unless we can think of a junction that is more social and supportive. Just based

    School clubs? You sure picked an example that's convenient for your argument. I'm pretty sure atheists can do better than school clubs.
    Perhaps there are better examples than school clubs of social gatherings that are organized. I'd very much like to here what you have in mind.

    I'm not sure if atheists can do better than school clubs at providing organized social gatherings. Atheism, to my understanding, means a lack of religion and as such, there aren't exactly atheistic gathering spots. Sure, you might find some atheist or nonreligiou coalitions here and there both offline and in the real-world, but my understanding that a key difference between atheism and religion is that the latter lacks any central authority.

    And besides, social gatherings should be based on something better than indoctrination.
    That still won't change the fact that churches do play a vital support to a community.

    To give a specific example, many immigrants who from Asia come here and can't speak English very well. In this case, finding jobs and otherwise navigating the country they immigrated to can be challenging--and in particular if they were Christian before (whether it be nominal or in deed)--the church can become the place they know they can go and be accepted. Statistically, Asian immigrants become more religious (i.e. identify as Christian, attend church, etc.), and I suspect it's because they recognize what a church is but also know from the Bible that the people there generally look out for each other. Even if you find the idea of preaching a moral code disturbing, this is still a function that can benefit people here.

    And, I realize there exist secular junctions that serve the same purpose, but they aren't as dispersed as churches nor do they have the global reach churches have.

    What does "rejecting a person" mean, exactly? I don't refuse to talk with religious people, but I will point out to them where they're wrong if the topic comes up. That includes condemning any immoral beliefs they have.
    Rejecting as in thinking they're inferior on the basis they are religious. That isn't to say you shouldn't accept them unconditionally (e.g., Fred Phelps is someone who, is, uhh, very suspect to say the least), but the condition on which you accept them shouldn't be if they're religious/nonreligious.

    Correcting them depends on what you're correcting them on.

    *phew* ONE POST DONE.

    __________________________________________________ ______________________
    Quote Originally Posted by The Federation View Post
    When people say things like, "I have respect for those who are religious" it makes me wonder if it would be equally valid to say that they respect anyone and everyone they have yet to be truly acquainted with. Otherwise you would be asserting your respect for the religious as a group, a stance I personally would be curious as to why you would hold as, more or less, a bystander to religious debate.
    To clarify, by respect, I don't admiration. I mean I don't see myself as superior or inferior to people who are religious.

    As for why I would hold this sort of respect for people who are religious despite being a bystander to the religious debate is rather personal, and as such, don't feel comfortable discussing it on a public forum.

    I think you might be confusing society for culture in this aspect, because the typical definition of society is the loose interpretation, "group geographically connected and generally sharing a governing body".
    Very likely I do mean culture and not society. I apologize for any confusion my misuse of terminology creates.

    In this respect I believe the question's phrasing to be fine.

    Anyone can come up with a thousand different religions that don't contradict science. Non-falsifiability is not a standard to set for an idea to be valid, nor is "compliant with science". An idea should be judged on it's own merits, against the facts, against reality; scrutinizing conclusions is what allowed us to move into the world we live in today.
    True enough. My point, I suppose, is that in formal logic if I say "there exists X such that Y is not necessarily false," it's tautological to saying "Y cannot disprove all X." Or, to be clearer, science cannot disprove all possible religions is tautological to saying one can imagine a religion that does not contradict science.

    And I agree especially that non-falsifiability does not imply validity. For me though, non-falsifiability does imply not necessarily invalid. And that's really all I want to say. Whether or not non-falsifiability itself has any merit, at least as far as I can tell, is more of an aside.


    Science is inherently non-comprehensive... If that weren't the case, we would likely know everything. That said, filling the holes of human ignorance with theological inanity is absolutely and totally unacceptable.
    Why is it absolutely and totally unacceptable? What makes something absolutely and totally unacceptable? Why is this a problem? So on.

    I can agree that if you want an understanding of the universe, I feel that just seeking an exhaustive answer is necessarily contradicts understanding the universe. But, as a practice, I don't really care what other people do satisfy their curiosity or why I should be concerned. Maybe I should be, and if so, I'd be interested in hearing why.

    A belief rooted in falsehood held in a candid manner is perhaps potentially more harmful than any currently-existing moral quandary, because it is the spawn of newer, perhaps more harmful, moral transgressions.
    Maybe, maybe not. The only reason why I feel such falsehoods exist, and in a candid matter, is because when they were created there weren't any other better explanations. However, the only problem I see with religious views on metaphysics mostly concerns controlling how evolution is taught in the classroom. I suppose a more abstract argument can be made that religion merely casting doubt on evolution or big bang or earth's age can in turn lead people to doubt more science (e.g. that of climate change which nominally has no religious), but I'd need something more concrete than just speculating. And while there probably exist statistics correlating people's tendency to disagree with climate change and people's religious affiliation, I'm not sure if the causation lies with religious affiliation, political party affiliation, or what-have-you.

    Even so, I find science is mostly accepted by everyone, it's just those few bizarre case when scientific implications might be inconvenient do people suddenly doubt that particular branch.

    The truth of religion is every bit as important as it's moral implications and perhaps more so, because a genuinely held belief system rooted in falsity creates more issues down the road.
    This is true, and like I said to Aegis, my point was simply observing that while metaphysics might be the Achilles heel of religion (i.e. the part that seems most likely to be false), our main concern with religion--at least as far as I can tell--deals with its influence on culture. Moreover, chances are religious views will be adjust, albeit very slowly, to accommodate new scientific discoveries. E.g., Genesis might be interpretated as metaphorical to accommodate the fact plants went their first 'day' without sunlight (and even then, whether or that's a day or some vague time period is also debated among Christians).


    Given that religion is inherently regressive and conservative, it becomes an issue when radicals backed by big money are able to coerce and malign politicians goals to match their own are truly able to fight against the spread of knowledge.
    I'd appreciate citing a relatively recent example where this happened. I don't exactly keep much up to date with politics, so I'd appreciate seeing a concrete example.


    Should it be abolished through force and political movement, or should it be abolished through a resurgence of skepticism and scientific enlightenment? The difference is huge, and while I would call anyone supporting the former a fool, I would call supporters of the latter allies.
    If it were abolished, I meant something along the lines of skepticism and scientific enlightenment.

    And skepticism is something I advocate support and admittedly skepticism is not consistent with religion. That being said,


    Does the good religion has achieved even compare to the cruelty and destruction, or the potential for further cruelty and destruction? Shouldn't we find a better way to socialize than following a largely demonstrably false set of beliefs with high potential and capacity to harm?
    I'm honestly not sure. For me, I'm not sure where to begin measuring the cruelty and destruction or the good religion has done. I can see religion has done. I can see the religion has done. But making a judgment as to whether not the good outweighs the bad is an entirely different question. But like many things, I suppose I just acknowledge that religion has its pros and cons, which can be said about nearly any doctrine whether it be secular or religious in nature. And even, that's also begs the question whether or not a secular doctrine wouldn't suffer a similar problem.


    Given the fluidity of religion, I will admit to rejecting people simply for following a certain interpretation, and when pressed, most will admit the same. How about neo-Nazi's asserting the bible's support of Mein Kampf? How about the Westboro people? Belief make a person who they are, and they can be rejected if the belief they embody is disgusting and immoral.
    To be clear, when I said accept, I don't mean unconditionally. I dislike Fred Phelps because he's a fanatic, not because he's Christian, for example. I suppose I meant don't reject people the *basis* they are religious, i.e. don't think you are superior to someone just because they are religious.

    This doesn't mean anyone and everyone following an ambiguation of that belief set, of course. Ideas make people who they are, and because of that, only those with disgusting ideas shouldn't be respected. We just have to be aware that the potential exists for any belief rooted in mythology and dogma has the ability to become warped and terrible.
    And, I suppose I believe any doctrine, origins notwithstanding, have the ability to be warped and terrible. Secular beliefs have a distinction in that they are not a common set of beliefs and it makes appealing to those beliefs harder--but not impossible. And with that, other doctrines can take its place.

    To give a concrete example, data and statistics can easily be abused in rhetoric. The scientific method is necessarily empirical, and its influence is felt in that being quantitative is often seen better than being qualitative. As such, much rhetoric--both informative and propaganda--will include data. The issue, however, is that data can't be taken at face value. You still need to analyze why that data is what it is, and try to find out a causation. Moreover, the best you can do--provided the data does not suffer a so-called 'Type II error'--is to establish a correlation. By trying to make sense of why data works, we get a clear picture of what is really happening. This blog gives a short example of how the ill-definition of 'welfare' allows a politician to rightfully say a third of the country's spending is welfare. This organization--while fundamentally trying to inform people of where numbers are abused. It might be worth checking out in case you want more concrete of example of statistical abuse; but moreover, my point is that I highly doubt religion is the only doctrine to be abused, nor do I feel that secular doctrines aren't suspect. And moreover, that secular doctrines aren't worthy of similar suspicions.

    So I suppose this would feed into a more general theme of simply being skeptical. Question everything, doubt, and so on.


    Quote Originally Posted by TheFightingPikachu View Post
    There's a whole backlog of stuff to which I really need to respond in this thread, but one thing needs clarification here. Most translations do not use the word "kill" in the Ten Commandments. The only one I can think of at the moment that does is the King James Version, which is now more than 400 years old. (I'm not saying that is the only one; just that I can't think of any others.)

    Let me be very clear. Actually translating that Hebrew word "murder" is not restricted to people with any kind of vested interest in making the Bible look good. I don't advise simply taking my word for it, but I am relatively certain I have heard that entirely secular Jews with an interest in the language of their ancestors have contributed to scholarly linguistic resources that tell why "murder" is the most appropriate rendering there. This most likely has to do with the very fact that the Mosaic Law prescribed death as a judicial penalty for certain crimes.
    I appreciate this input. That said, even if murder is the most appropriate term, murder is defined as wrongful killing. It still would not clarify under what circumstances killing is permitted, and as such, is still vague. Less vague, in that it makes clear killing is allowed given some circumstances, it does not clarify what those circumstances are.


    AND I REALLY NEED TO STOP MAKING LONG-WINDED POSTS.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    I agree to that in order to show that their religion is true, it would require evidence. But, I suppose I'm of the opinion it's there business, and so long as it doesn't affect me, I don't particularly care how lacking their worldview is with concrete evidence. So, I suppose you can say that while I agree with the statement, I don't see what the issue is with someone believing in a possible falsehood.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    Again, I don't particularly care what other people call the unknown.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    However, my point was that more that we discuss religion's metaphysics because it is the Achilles' heel of religion--that is, the part that's easiest to argue to contradict reality--even though much of concern with religion actually deals with its societal influence on policy.
    People don't exist in a vacuum. False beliefs lead to false actions. It would be nice if people's silly beliefs didn't affect me, but they do.


    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    I suppose, on a philosophical and/or personal level, yes I can agree that anything without a satisfactory answer and is a mystery to us should be deemed a mystery to us.

    But even then, that depends on what you consider to be an 'arbitrary' guess. Is something like M-Theory an arbitrary guess, because it has no evidence? Or is it an educated guess, as it provides a theoretical framework that can in principle explain every law of physics? But I suppose the question you really want me to guess is whether or not I consider religion to be an arbitrary guess.

    This is a harder question for me to answer. In the realm of metaphysics, I consider religion to be an arbitrary guess.
    An enlightened guess is based on valid deductions and existing evidence. There is never any absolute certainty which deductions are correct, but religion pretty openly admits that it's relying on faith. Well, some people have defined religion differently and tried to assert it's based on legit evidence.


    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    I can agree that they're relevant. After all, disproving a significant portion of religion can in principle disprove the entire religion as any specific religion is seen as an 'entity.'
    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    If you want me to go on record saying it, yes I do believe that disproving one part of religion can in principle disprove the entire religion, and that metaphysics might be worth discussing for that reason.
    No. I don't intend to disprove religion as an entity but to disprove individual descriptive statements, which in turn disproves normative statements that hinge on those descriptive statements.

    For example, let's say someone believes that spirit healing works better than medicine. This leads him to believe that he should recommend spirit healing over medicine for his friend, who has cancer. Disprove spirit healing, and you also disprove his moral belief. And this is kind of an important point to people who have cancer, wouldn't you say?

    The existence of the afterlife affects our moral judgments. The existence of God affects our moral judgments. The list goes on.

    You even gave a good example yourself: whether creationism should be taught at school. It hinges on whether creationism has legit evidence, doesn't it?


    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    That said, the task of showing the metaphysics of a certain religion is found to contradict reality isn't nearly as simple as it sounds--mostly because religion isn't entirely static, just mostly static. There are slight dynamic changes, such as how the story of Genesis is increasingly perceived as metaphorical rather than literal. Even if is seen as a desperate attempt to remain consistent with science, by the end of the day, if we say Genesis is metaphorical then that consistency is there.
    If you can interpret the original text in any way you like, it simply means that it's unfalsifiable. Therefore, the text is useless as a source of information because you can make up whatever you like.

    I could say that Santa Claus exists and come up with any number of convenient excuses for why we can't detect him. Nobody would take me seriously and rightfully so.


    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    Not too long ago, the CEO of Tesla Motors pledged to donate a million dollars to a Tesla Museum and also wanted to make a Tesla Motor recharge system. Even though I'm pretty sure he only donated money to his museum because the webcomic 'The Oatmeal' brought to attention Tesla Motors used Tesla's names without giving anything back to Tesla, the alternative might have been no Tesla Museum. So, the fact that said CEO did donate money is something I would loosely call 'good news,' regardless of the circumstances.

    So to answer your question, I don't necessarily disagree with people doing good deeds for wrong reasons. Sure a millionaire donating money to charity for PR *might* rub me the wrong way, but given that the alternative is no charity money, so be it. I wouldn't praise him, mind you, but I would see the money being donated as good news by the end of the day.
    Of course the outcome is beneficial, but isn't whether we should praise the person kind of the point here? You know, determining whether the person doing the deed is actually... good. If you don't care about people's motivation, you're leaving the outcome up to luck.


    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    The real concern though, is that if someone does good deeds for the wrong reason, they can just as easily do bad deeds.
    This was the point of the last part too.


    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    I suppose this is a valid concern, however, I often draw a blank at thinking of what bad deeds religion does concurrently. I can identify a few social wars where religion plays a pivotal role in shaping people's opinions (LGBTQ politics, sexual education, evolution in the classroom, and abortion are literally all that comes to mind). And with one exception (that being abortion), I generally see that the more religious influence is slowly receding enough that the resolution is heading somewhere I find agreeable. However, if I'm underestimating the influence religion has in policy-making, by all means correct me.
    I'm going to be lenient and assume you only want to talk about the United States.

    Ensuring that religion is shoved down people's throats on a daily basis? Making sure that atheists don't get elected? Hindering the progress of mankind in general? How long a list do you need? Do I need to bring up that study about atheists being trusted only as much as rapists again?


    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    And what exactly constitutes rationality? No, seriously, I find this to be a very important question. Sure, we can dig out the dictionary definition that rational means logically sound, and therefore a rational worldview would mean a logical sound worldview. The difficultly comes in defining the word 'sound' precisely.

    A sound argument is one with true premises and a valid (consistent) framework. Typically, whether or not our premises are true is the major concern. After all, there's no basis for supposing the Bible is true--it's something you take on faith or maybe personal experience or so forth. But, my question immediately jumps to what constitutes a true statement--that is what quality endows a first premise with it being true.

    This is very tricky to answer. The scientific method doesn't focus on finding what's true--it instead focuses on what's false continuously does so. We don't know if it's right. Again, Feynman is amazing at explaining this, or here if you want the unabridged version.

    But even so, that knowledge of what is false, and therefore what's a more likely explanation, still is better at approximating reality and for that reason we might consider it 'rational,' even though I'd prefer to call it pragmatic. Whether or not it's rational or pragmatic is just debating semantics at that point, so I digress.
    This has been the 'go to' argument for religious people. You can't be absolutely sure of just about anything, so any guess is as good as another.

    ...Thus the "maybe Japan doesn't exist" arguments and so on. Who knows, right?

    Can religious people really live by that? If someone comes up to them and says that Japan doesn't exist, can they take him with an equal level of seriousness? And given that most of them eagerly dismiss all other religions, not to mention things like UFO sightings, I really have to wonder what their tie-breaker between all these possible beliefs is.


    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    When it comes to ethics, what is 'true' is even more difficult. Sure, most secular people begin with a few premises--e.g., don't hurt others--that they take as fact. They then work through the logic of what actions would be consistent with their few premises. I have trouble understanding how exactly this approach differs from someone who bases their ethics of religion beyond the fact the religious person takes nearly all the ethics they ever need as a premise. Here, I don't feel any approach is 'truer' or 'more rational' than the other--i.e. using some self-developed secular moral code or one outlined by religion--rather, the former approach might be more 'agreeable' simply because there's less premises, and thus less to disagree with.

    Either way, I suppose what I am ultimately asking is what constitutes rationality here, and in particular, what makes a secular moral code more rational than a religious moral code?

    For me, particular where moral codes are concerned, I don't see any approach being more or less rational, rather, just the secular approach might be more agreeable because there's less premises to disagree (or agree) with.
    Let me ask you this. When you encounter moral problems in your life, don't you pick one alternative each time? If you think that no moral code is more rational than another, how do you make the choice?


    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    Can you be specific as to what secular organizations you have in mind?

    Moreover, I don't know if 'better' is the right word. My argument was that churches serve a unique and beneficial junctions in a community, and in particular, identified two axes: social and supportive. Here, better breaks down unless we can think of a junction that is more social and supportive. Just based
    Simple: take all the social and supportive functions and remove the indoctrination. All the benefits, without any of the negative effects. If people refuse to support each other without the indoctrination, it just shows that they never truly cared about other people to begin with. But if people truly are altruistic, it can be done.


    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    Perhaps there are better examples than school clubs of social gatherings that are organized. I'd very much like to here what you have in mind.

    I'm not sure if atheists can do better than school clubs at providing organized social gatherings. Atheism, to my understanding, means a lack of religion and as such, there aren't exactly atheistic gathering spots. Sure, you might find some atheist or nonreligiou coalitions here and there both offline and in the real-world, but my understanding that a key difference between atheism and religion is that the latter lacks any central authority.
    I never meant to limit myself to social gatherings about atheism itself or organized by some central authority on atheism. All secular social gatherings are valid.


    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    And, I realize there exist secular junctions that serve the same purpose, but they aren't as dispersed as churches nor do they have the global reach churches have.
    So what? That's simply because so many people are religious. Nobody ever said that the current situation is optimal.


    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    Rejecting as in thinking they're inferior on the basis they are religious. That isn't to say you shouldn't accept them unconditionally (e.g., Fred Phelps is someone who, is, uhh, very suspect to say the least), but the condition on which you accept them shouldn't be if they're religious/nonreligious.
    If person A gets something right and person B wrong, isn't person A superior with regard to that instance?

    A religious person can be superior to an atheist in knowledge and morality, but a person of perfect knowledge and morality would be an atheist because that requires freedom of dogmatism. Therefore, religious people are limited in potential compared to atheists as long as they remain religious.


    Quote Originally Posted by Zora View Post
    Correcting them depends on what you're correcting them on.
    It is starting to sound like the other side is free to rant about their beliefs, while I can't provide counterarguments. That doesn't sound fair.

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