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Is our society (or any society) designed for religion?
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Posted 3/26/14

Syndicaidramon wrote:


anchore wrote:

Religion is a pathway to eternity.

I think the type of religion that people who dislike religion tend to hate on is... hmmm, I need a good analogy. Well, this is an anime site, so how about this. That type of religion is like Naruto. The people who practice it are like anime fans who have only seen Naruto, and think it is the beginning and end of all anime, and really all entertainment. Of course, that is pretty ridiculous, but they are happy. I do fully understand the weakness of this analogy, but it was the best I could do.


As a person who is not exactly super fond of religion, allow me to provide an alternative analogy in order to explain how our (or at least my) minds work.
Picture yourself as a citizen of a politicly corrupt nation. A nation run by, say, a tyrannical dictator. A dictator who treats the people like subhuman garbage, taking away their human rights, enforcing brutal public punishment and excecutions for completely arbitrary reasons.
If you were a citizen in that country, you'd most likely be pissed off and hate that guy.

This is how people like me view religion. Because historicly, that's how it's been pretty much everywhere. In many countries, these tendencies still linger, and in some countries, it's still the exact same.
That's why we hate it.



Living in that type of hellish environment, I'd probably turn to religion...

Actually, it does not matter. In my view, atheists are one of the most annoying religious groups, which is one of the reasons why I would never consider atheism, so I can sympathize with most of your points. But I also know that hate only ever hurts the one doing the hating, so I am not inclined in that regard.

The main problem I have with anti-religion arguments is that they tend to be simplistic and antagonistic without ever truly understanding the thing against which they argue. Actually, most anti-religion arguments are actually anti-authoritarian arguments, and while religious institutions have always engaged in authoritarian behavior, they are not equivalent. The function of religion in society is much more complex and interesting than a simple oppression model. Of course, it is difficult to argue this to someone who feels personally oppressed, and I understand. I left the catholic church in part because as a woman I felt like I was second class. But I still respect the people of the church who run hospitals and schools, serve the poor, and live humble lives of faith and humility. I don't like the suggestion that all Christians are cruel, bigoted, and oppressive.

The other big problem I have with anti-religion arguments is that they tend to equate religion with Christianity. This is a narrow view that fails to encompass the sheer variety of religions in the world. There are many ways people experience religion. When Japanese people are surveyed about their religious preferences, the result always comes back as more than 100% because it is usual to practice different religions at different times. Of course, there are basic things that religion has always done. Religion deals with mysteries, so it is involved in things related to death and birth. Religious rights also often exist for important times like one's coming of age, weddings, and periods of transformation. When we are in need of answers, we can pray, or we can take a mystic journey of the spirit to ask our ancestors.

Most importantly, if religion is the means of oppression, that implies that the motive force is something else. Which it is.

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Posted 3/26/14
I agree with Napoleon " Religion was invented to keep the poor from killing the rich "
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Posted 3/26/14 , edited 3/27/14

anchore
Living in that type of hellish environment, I'd probably turn to religion...

Actually, it does not matter. In my view, atheists are one of the most annoying religious groups, which is one of the reasons why I would never consider atheism, so I can sympathize with most of your points. But I also know that hate only ever hurts the one doing the hating, so I am not inclined in that regard.


First of all, atheism is not a religion. Thus, atheists are not a religious group. We're not even an anti-religious group. It's perfectly possible to be an atheist without hating religion.
You're confusing "atheists" with "anti-theists". Those are the ones who hate religion.

Atheists are simply the ones that have concluded that there does not exist sufficient proof of God, and are therefore unconvinced of his existence. Nothing more.
No inherent hatered towards religion there. Many atheists are ALSO anti-theists, but many are also not.

And not even all anti-theists are atheists. I personally became an anti-theist while I was still a christian believer. Before I became an atheist. That's when I decided that even if I were to keep believing in God, I would still leave my congregation and just believe on my own. Because I couldn't be a part of the masses being controlled by dogmas that they were being spoon-fed rather than believing things that they'd concluded on their own through personal reflection.



Second, no one who is atheist really chooses atheism. Atheism is a result of a combination of scepticism, critical thinking and being scientificly educated.

Aside from those things, whether you'd turn to religion or not is irrelevant. The point is that religion is very much indeed comparable to that scenario. Which is why many anti-theists become anti-theists in the first place.





anchore
The main problem I have with anti-religion arguments is that they tend to be simplistic and antagonistic without ever truly understanding the thing against which they argue. Actually, most anti-religion arguments are actually anti-authoritarian arguments, and while religious institutions have always engaged in authoritarian behavior, they are not equivalent.


Actually, they often are. Islam is an inherently political religion.
Aside from that, religious dogma (at least in the abrahamic religions) is inherently authoritarian. God is an authoritarian figure that says "do my bidding or die/suffer for all eternity".

Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean that religious people HAS to impose their beliefs on others. After all, there are many religious people who do not think that way. But the fact of the matter is that when you have a dogma that is inherently authoritarian -- authoritarian practice by its followers is inevitable. That's how human nature works.

You CANNOT have religion without its fanatics and its politicians. It will never, ever happen. And because religion is such a powerful tool for brainwashing/crowd-control, they will always have power. They will always have influence. It's inevitable.

Beyond that, it's not at all only anti-authoritarian arguments. There are also many, many arguments against the religious teachings themselves. Both in how bigoted they are and how scientificly illiterate they are, which leads to their followers often being both bigoted and scientificly illiterate as well.
Hence, for example: anti-LGBT people and creationsts.




anchore
The function of religion in society is much more complex and interesting than a simple oppression model. Of course, it is difficult to argue this to someone who feels personally oppressed, and I understand. I left the catholic church in part because as a woman I felt like I was second class. But I still respect the people of the church who run hospitals and schools, serve the poor, and live humble lives of faith and humility. I don't like the suggestion that all Christians are cruel, bigoted, and oppressive.


Neither do I. And most anti-theists do not even think like that. Anyone who thinks that every person belonging to a certain group of people are the same is a fool. People are individuals and must be judged as individuals.

I too respect people who volunteer their time in order to help other people. But see, the problem is that even those things -- things that are supposed to be pure and as close to sacred as we can come in this world -- even those things are corrupted by the hands of religion.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zinnia-jones/the-salvation-armys-histo_b_4422938.html






anchore
The other big problem I have with anti-religion arguments is that they tend to equate religion with Christianity.


This is merely because:
1) Christianity is the world's largest and thus the most relevant religion, as well as being the religion with the most power in the west.
2) It's the one that people in the west knows the most.

Make no mistake, though. We are very well aware of the diversity within religion. But smaller religions such as, say, shintoism aren't really relevant in the grand scheme of things when it comes to the negative effects of religion. Certainly not to the degree of the big religions like Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.






anchore
This is a narrow view that fails to encompass the sheer variety of religions in the world. There are many ways people experience religion. When Japanese people are surveyed about their religious preferences, the result always comes back as more than 100% because it is usual to practice different religions at different times. Of course, there are basic things that religion has always done. Religion deals with mysteries, so it is involved in things related to death and birth. Religious rights also often exist for important times like one's coming of age, weddings, and periods of transformation. When we are in need of answers, we can pray, or we can take a mystic journey of the spirit to ask our ancestors.


You say this as if it's a good thing. It's really not.
What you're doing is you're deluding yourself into believing a false reality. Not only that, but you're also distancing yourself from, and in many cases, removing yourself entirely from the desire to obtain genuine scientific knowledge/enlightenment.
This is why creationism and astrology still exists.

Moreover, when you believe that there's an omnipotent deity out there who will eventually make all things a-okay, it takes away the initiative and desire to actively do something to make things better.
I've seen this in my old congregation and everyone who believed in the same things my parents did. They all had the mentality that God would eventually intervene and make everything alright. Thus, there was no need for any of them to do anything in order to change things for the better. Because they had deluded themselves into believing that a magical fairytale creature was gonna do it for them.

These are things that are harmful to society and VERY harmful to humanity as a whole.




anchore
Most importantly, if religion is the means of oppression, that implies that the motive force is something else. Which it is.


No it doesn't. Religion is perfectly capable of being both the means AND the motivation of oppression.
Besides, religion ISN'T the means of oppression most of the time. Political power/influence and violence are. With religion fueling many of the bigoted beliefs that are being enforced/acted upon.
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Posted 3/27/14

Syndicaidramon wrote:

First of all, atheism is not a religion. Thus, atheists are not a religious group. We're not even an anti-religious group. It's perfectly possible to be an atheist without hating religion.
You're confusing "atheists" with "anti-theists". Those are the ones who hate religion.

Atheists are simply the ones that have concluded that there does not exist sufficient proof of God, and are therefore unconvinced of his existence. Nothing more.
No inherent hatered towards religion there. Many atheists are ALSO anti-theists, but many are also not.



I'm pretty sure a good portion of atheists are also confused about that distinction. I should also make clear that my father is an atheist who is not an anti-theist, so I grew up with this idea in my house. I respect that viewpoint, and if that is a person's honest personal conviction, then it is their right to hold it without being molested or oppressed.


Syndicaidramon
And not even all anti-theists are atheists. I personally became an anti-theist while I was still a christian believer. Before I became an atheist. That's when I decided that even if I were to keep believing in God, I would still leave my congregation and just believe on my own. Because I couldn't be a part of the masses being controlled by dogmas that they were being spoon-fed rather than believing things that they'd concluded on their own through personal reflection.

Second, no one who is atheist really chooses atheism. Atheism is a result of a combination of scepticism, critical thinking and being scientificly educated.


I don't think atheism is the only logical end to those types of thoughts. I am the most skeptical, critical, and thorough thinker I know, aside from my brother, and we are both... religious, in a way. We are definitely not atheists. If I was to argue no further, I would say that there is definitely a place in society for the type of religion that my brother and I practice.


Syndicaidramon
Actually, they often are. Islam is an inherently political religion.
Aside from that, religious dogma (at least in the abrahamic religions) is inherently authoritarian. God is an authoritarian figure that says "do my bidding or die/suffer for all eternity".


Islam is a really democratic religion. There is no central leader of Islam. There are respected figures, of course, but if you want to know whether something is okay, you ask an imam for a ruling. And if you aren't satisfied, you can go find a second opinion. Historically, the Caliph was a leader, although primarily a political one, and he definitely had moral and religious sway. Of course, that was also when the Islamic world was doing really insignificant things like inventing algebra . Minor stuff. Pity the mongols decided to sack Baghdad and destroy the palace of wisdom. An act not actually motivated by religion. All of that is another story.

You're also falling into the same trap about the divine that the majority of religious people you criticize do. Most people see God as authority and lawgiver, and that is how the divine functions in their lives, whether they chose to believe and follow, or disbelieve and not follow. And so long as that belief somehow serves a person (it supports their basic world view, no judgement on good or bad) then that particular belief will not change. But the divine (and the tangible tools of it: religion) are, as I said from the outset, pathways to eternity. God is not the end, but the means to a spiritual end. And I suppose if you get there, that is enlightenment. I do not have the fortitude to seek that. I hear that it involves many trials and sacrifices.


Syndicaidramon
You say this as if it's a good thing. It's really not.
What you're doing is you're deluding yourself into believing a false reality. Not only that, but you're also distancing yourself from, and in many cases, removing yourself entirely from the desire to obtain genuine scientific knowledge/enlightenment.
This is why creationism and astrology still exists.

Moreover, when you believe that there's an omnipotent deity out there who will eventually make all things a-okay, it takes away the initiative and desire to actively do something to make things better.
I've seen this in my old congregation and everyone who believed in the same things my parents did. They all had the mentality that God would eventually intervene and make everything alright. Thus, there was no need for any of them to do anything in order to change things for the better. Because they had deluded themselves into believing that a magical fairytale creature was gonna do it for them.


I think I ended up addressing a bunch of this earlier. Anyway, is there really only one kind of truth? I was just looking at my copy of William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell . It's dead interesting, and I recommend it highly, though it is a bit difficult to understand well. I had made a margin note some time ago that reads, Truth lies in the perceiver. It really does. I've had my tarot read, and I don't think astrology is a tool of delusion or what have you. I used to, because, I mean, really? But I was raised in environment that was basically opposite to what it sounds like you were raised in. We were encouraged to ask questions and think things through for ourselves. And we felt a healthy sense of superiority toward the credulous and starry eyed masses who believe almost anything.

But like I said, truth lies in the perceiver. And this is where religion comes in. Research, inquiry, the scientific method. These things are beyond value, and they have made the world a better place. Until I was about 18 I wanted to be a scientist. I'm kind of glad I did not, and I am incredibly grateful to all those who spend the time to research and learn. But science exists in order to measure and understand observable phenomena. That is to say, it beautifully explains one type of truth. Still, truth lies in the perceiver. So we also need art and religion to teach us other perspectives. The heart of all religions is compassion. You say, the institution of religion this, the institution of religion that. Do you think I don't know all of that? I've heard it a thousand times before. The view you are arguing (and you are doing it well :)) is one that is very well represented on the internet. And I was born with skepticism in my heart.

The view I am representing is one that makes me feel very alone. I am out on my own, on a journey of the spirit, without the backing of an institution to reassure me. But this kind of journey is valuable, and I don't want every person who looks at the state of religion today with despair to think that there are only two choices. Being a human being is incredibly difficult, especially now, when the world is so full of ideas, and we are so alienated. How much kinder it would be to have this kind of discussion over a pot of tea, where we could look each other in the eyes. We need every guide we can get, on this journey called life. Religion provides tools to the individual on that journey. We must weigh the price of things according to our own judgment, but I believe that wholeness as a person involves work not just of the mind, but also the spirit. And as for all the cruelty and suffering or what have you. That is a human thing. If religion were to disappear, it would continue unabated. Frankly, it might become worse.



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Posted 3/28/14 , edited 3/28/14

anchore
...and if that is a person's honest personal conviction, then it is their right to hold it without being molested...


What? Where did that come from?




anchore
I don't think atheism is the only logical end to those types of thoughts. I am the most skeptical, critical, and thorough thinker I know, aside from my brother, and we are both... religious, in a way. We are definitely not atheists. If I was to argue no further, I would say that there is definitely a place in society for the type of religion that my brother and I practice.


So what type of religion exactly is it that you guys practice? And on what grounds?
And if you are as sceptical and critical and throughout as you claim, then how can you overlook the amount of contradictions and scientific inaccuracies contained within the scriptures (assuming that you belong to either of the abrahamic religions)?




anchore
Islam is a really democratic religion. There is no central leader of Islam. There are respected figures, of course, but if you want to know whether something is okay, you ask an imam for a ruling. And if you aren't satisfied, you can go find a second opinion. Historically, the Caliph was a leader, although primarily a political one, and he definitely had moral and religious sway. Of course, that was also when the Islamic world was doing really insignificant things like inventing algebra . Minor stuff. Pity the mongols decided to sack Baghdad and destroy the palace of wisdom. An act not actually motivated by religion. All of that is another story.


I don't understand why you're putting emphasis on the fact that the islamic world invented algebra. I am very well aware of that. The islamic world was once the center of education and scientific progress in the world.
But that time is long gone. And it doesn't make the teachings of islam any better, nor does it do anything to make the effects that islam has on the world today any better.

Islam isn't really very democratic. In the end, it all comes down to which interpretation of islam is the prevailing one in your area. And the scriptures remain the same. Of course, some areas have more leniency -- more liberal politics, but liberality within religion is a result of secularism. The more secular, the more leniency. The religion itself, at its core, is still as authoritarian as ever.
And being that politics is a central part of that authoritarian religion, it is much more likely to result in an authoritarian rule in the cases where the religious leaders have political power.
And when that happens, the people will become more fundamentalist, and more extreme.
This is why the degree of religiously motivated violence, oppression, and lack of human rights/liberty grows with the amount of power that the religious leaders have in politics in islamic countries. Because the teachings of the religion are so barbaric and inhuman.




anchore
You're also falling into the same trap about the divine that the majority of religious people you criticize do. Most people see God as authority and lawgiver, and that is how the divine functions in their lives, whether they chose to believe and follow, or disbelieve and not follow. And so long as that belief somehow serves a person (it supports their basic world view, no judgement on good or bad) then that particular belief will not change. But the divine (and the tangible tools of it: religion) are, as I said from the outset, pathways to eternity. God is not the end, but the means to a spiritual end. And I suppose if you get there, that is enlightenment. I do not have the fortitude to seek that. I hear that it involves many trials and sacrifices.


I must remind you that *I* do not believe that God is an authoritary lawgiver. I don't believe God even exist.
I merely point out the prevailing idea regarding God among religious people. And that view is a lot of what makes religion so horrible.
You may see God as merely a means to a spiritual end (which I don't understand. Do you believe in God's existence, and in a divine reward?), but most religious people do not. And as long as they keep seeing God as an authoritarian lawgiver, and take the teachings of the bible literally, then religion will still remain a bad thing.




anchore
I think I ended up addressing a bunch of this earlier. Anyway, is there really only one kind of truth? I was just looking at my copy of William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell . It's dead interesting, and I recommend it highly, though it is a bit difficult to understand well. I had made a margin note some time ago that reads, Truth lies in the perceiver. It really does. I've had my tarot read, and I don't think astrology is a tool of delusion or what have you. I used to, because, I mean, really? But I was raised in environment that was basically opposite to what it sounds like you were raised in. We were encouraged to ask questions and think things through for ourselves. And we felt a healthy sense of superiority toward the credulous and starry eyed masses who believe almost anything.


Not REALLY I don't think. While I was indeed raised in a religious home, my parents always told me to think things through for myself and not take things at face value. They keep being christians of course, because they both had been since birth, and religious people will often say that they are critical of things, even though they're in reality self-decieving and will refuse to acknowledge scientific evidence if it doesn't suit them, something I've learned after having religious discussions with them after becoming an atheist myself.
But I was still taught to be critical and think for myself. They hold that as an important value, even if they don't really do it themselves.

How you came to believe in astrology when you were raised in an environment that taught you to be critical and also knew beforehand how silly it is, I cannot possibly fathom. Would you mind explaining that for me?





anchore
But like I said, truth lies in the perceiver. And this is where religion comes in. Research, inquiry, the scientific method. These things are beyond value, and they have made the world a better place. Until I was about 18 I wanted to be a scientist. I'm kind of glad I did not, and I am incredibly grateful to all those who spend the time to research and learn. But science exists in order to measure and understand observable phenomena. That is to say, it beautifully explains one type of truth. Still, truth lies in the perceiver. So we also need art and religion to teach us other perspectives. The heart of all religions is compassion. You say, the institution of religion this, the institution of religion that. Do you think I don't know all of that? I've heard it a thousand times before. The view you are arguing (and you are doing it well :)) is one that is very well represented on the internet. And I was born with skepticism in my heart.


While I understand what you mean, I do not agree with this interpretation. While I do of course hold my own beliefs, I do not see them as "truth". Compassion, empathy, sympathy, equality, human rights, logical thinking, secularity, etc. are all things I value greatly, and wish for the entire world to value as well. But I do not see them as "truth". I merely see them as teachings/ideologies/concepts/tools that works best in order to achieve my own desired end goal for humanity. That doesn't mean they are inherently true. It just means that they are what I percieve as the best to obtain what I percieve to be the best outcome.

Learning different points of view is important. It is necessary for having a greater understanding towards our fellow humans, which in turn is necessary for us to get along and accept people for who they are. Art, I agree, is a great way to achieve this.
Religion, however -- ESPECIALLY religions that sets itself up to be absolute truth, with strict guidelines from an authoritarian figure -- is not. Because it works to achieve the exact OPPOSITE of understanding our fellow humans and accepting others for who they are.

Religion might teach compassion, among other things. But it also teaches things that contradicts compassion. That teaches people to look down upon others, or to put restrictions upon others. Things that teaches intolerance. This is why religion is inherently divisive. Even the people who are a part of a denomination that prides itself on unity, love and acceptance (like that which my family is a part of) is STILL divisive. It still divides them into the groups of "them" and "everyone else". Them, the believers and the non-believers. The "worldly".
This is why I have lost contact with people who were once close friends. One of my best friends even. Because they chose to further their religious convictions, where as I lost mine. I became a "worldly". One who will be of "negative religious influence".

And because they also have teachings of what is right and wrong, it will inevitably create prejudice and fear towards certain other groups of people. It is human nature. It is inevitable.

This is why humanism will ALWAYS be better than religion, in every aspect (assuming that you place value and importance on treating your fellow humans well). It teaches love and acceptance, without the arbitrary teachings of right and wrong. Without the inherently divisive teachings. And that is why religion is both harmful, and -- more importantly -- not needed.




anchore
The view I am representing is one that makes me feel very alone. I am out on my own, on a journey of the spirit, without the backing of an institution to reassure me. But this kind of journey is valuable, and I don't want every person who looks at the state of religion today with despair to think that there are only two choices. Being a human being is incredibly difficult, especially now, when the world is so full of ideas, and we are so alienated. How much kinder it would be to have this kind of discussion over a pot of tea, where we could look each other in the eyes. We need every guide we can get, on this journey called life. Religion provides tools to the individual on that journey.


If only the majority of religious people had your view of things, then maybe things wouldn't have been so bad. But alas, that is not how things are. And while I will not speak against your specific beliefs, as they appear to be devoid of the things that tend to make religion such a bad thing, I cannot ignore the fact that you are the vast minority.
An ideology or belief cannot be judged on a person to person basis. It must be judged on the effect it has on people and the world at large. And in that regard, religion is a horrible thing.




anchore
We must weigh the price of things according to our own judgment, but I believe that wholeness as a person involves work not just of the mind, but also the spirit. And as for all the cruelty and suffering or what have you. That is a human thing. If religion were to disappear, it would continue unabated. Frankly, it might become worse.


I don't really see how it would. Not if humanism were to become the replacement. Which is the way things are trending in the western world in general.
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"What is the chief end of man? -to get rich. In what way? -dishonestly if we can; honestly if we must. Who is God, the one only and true? Money is God."

-Mark Twain, 1871
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Mmm... I feel like a lot of people these days use religion to hide behind their own hate. Take same-sex marriage for example. People call gays "fags, monsters, scum" and everything else under the sun. Saying how they'll go to hell and no one loves them. They'll say all these hateful and negative things, but then in church they'll be praying and praising the lord. It kinda seems a little messed up to me. But that's just me.

Using a religion to justify hate for any one person is horrible. In our society I feel like religion now has dictated a lot of things. Look at some forms of our politics. Or the pledge that we have to say everyday in school. Here and there traces of some type of religion has become integrated into our daily lives. So much that when we get older, we either stay committed to it since it's the only thing we know, or become confused at what to believe.

I feel like society brought about religion to hold something to believe in. Which, it's every person's given right to believe in what they want. However, only when it crosses over into laws or legal situations does it become a problem.
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The bible says " thou shalt not kill " how many crusades or inquisitions has there been killing people in the name of God . The Koran says " Raise no sword to the innocent " how many killings has there been in the name of Allah . Organized religion is a good excuse to kill who they call non believers , heathins those that don't think or believe the same as they do . It has been going on since religion began and will till the end of time . So believe what you want but someone out there will hate you for your beliefs so it's a loosing battle . Religion is a way to keep the rich richer and the poor poorer . Ever seen the Vatican or the mosque in Mecca then tell me it's not about money and power
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Posted 3/29/14 , edited 4/3/14

Syndicaidramon wrote:


anchore
...and if that is a person's honest personal conviction, then it is their right to hold it without being molested...


What? Where did that come from?


Sorry. Archaic use of a word... From the OED: To cause trouble, grief, or vexation to; to disturb, annoy, inconvenience. Occas. intr. Now rare. Fun Fact! The word rape used to me the kidnapping of women. Not... well, you know. My anime dorkiness pales in comparison to my word dorkiness.


Syndicaidramon
So what type of religion exactly is it that you guys practice? And on what grounds?
And if you are as sceptical and critical and throughout as you claim, then how can you overlook the amount of contradictions and scientific inaccuracies contained within the scriptures (assuming that you belong to either of the abrahamic religions)?


Interesting question. I think I'll try to answer. I am sort of falling into Buddhism, but I am still sort of flailing around looking for answers in all sorts of places. But Buddhism is definitely the most attractive to me right now. The teachings are the most intellectually stimulating, and I find the goals of Buddhist practice to be the most appealing. My brother is a Buddhist. Sometimes I think maybe he should become a monk. I am quite certain that the work of this life, for me, is not enlightenment. I think that is for the next time around.... (I have a pretty good idea of how that sounds to an atheist )

As for the contradictions that exist in scripture... Well, I have never put religion and science in the same boxes, so I have a bit of difficulty comparing them. Basically, if you are to look at something ridiculous (from a scientific perspective) in the Bible and consider them literally, then you are kind of missing the point. Now there are a great many people in the US who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. I can only say that their spiritual teachers have failed them. Stories in scripture are not scientific fact, nor should they be taken so. They are meant to illustrate moral and spiritual ideas. For example, people in the Bible whose ages are absurdly long. The long age is symbolic, not literal. Could Jesus actually walk on water? Does it matter? The story is symbolic. That is the way scriptures are.


Syndicaidramon
And being that politics is a central part of that authoritarian religion, it is much more likely to result in an authoritarian rule in the cases where the religious leaders have political power.
And when that happens, the people will become more fundamentalist, and more extreme.
This is why the degree of religiously motivated violence, oppression, and lack of human rights/liberty grows with the amount of power that the religious leaders have in politics in islamic countries. Because the teachings of the religion are so barbaric and inhuman.


I'm pretty sure this is not actually what is going on... I think the fundamentalism has more to do with disenfranchised and impoverished people turning to the only thing that makes them feel respected in a world that feels like it has turned against them. It is actually not in the interest of authoritarian governments to encourage fundamentalism, because crazy fanatics are actually pretty hard to control. This is probably why the most rabid and dangerous types of fundamentalists come out of regions where there is very little government or infrastructure. And Islam is barbaric and inhuman? Pretty sure that is not the kind of blanket statement you should make until after you do a lot of studying.


Syndicaidramon
I must remind you that *I* do not believe that God is an authoritary lawgiver. I don't believe God even exist.
I merely point out the prevailing idea regarding God among religious people. And that view is a lot of what makes religion so horrible.
You may see God as merely a means to a spiritual end (which I don't understand. Do you believe in God's existence, and in a divine reward?), but most religious people do not. And as long as they keep seeing God as an authoritarian lawgiver, and take the teachings of the bible literally, then religion will still remain a bad thing.


Your belief and the image you hold in your mind are different things. I may not believe in Santa, but I still think of him as a fat man in a red suit. Your discussion of God reveals that the image you hold in your mind (though you believe it to be a fiction) is of an authoritarian lawgiver.

Alright, let's pull this apart a bit. I am certain that the image of 'god' or the divine that I have in my mind is different than the one you hold in yours. Alas, I do not posses the words to describe this image, which may be a reason why most people don't get there. Language is such a powerful thing in the human mind. And I would say that I find the idea of a divine reward wholly unsatisfying. But you say you don't understand, and if you live your entire life as a skeptic, while you may live a meritorious and wonderful life, and die completely contented, you will never understand, and that is actually entirely okay. Like I said previously, everyone has the right to choose their own path. (The biggest reason I do not participate in an organized religion). Anyway, I don't understand very well either so it would probably be irresponsible of me to say too much more, because I might harm others with my lack of understanding.

And you know, seeing God as an authoritarian lawgiver, taking the teachings of the Bible literally, and being a hater are really three separate things that happen to coincide very often. We should always be careful not to see false correlations. Not every person can climb up a mountain and meditate for their entire life. Most people are simply not prepared. And there is value in living at one's own level with all one's might. You have stepped out of one frame of understanding the world and are looking back inside the frame and wondering how all the people inside can stand to be so ignorant and deluded. But for them, they cannot see outside the frame. They are living inside with all their hearts. But I think here is the piece you have yet to see. You are not in the outermost frame. Neither am I. We are both trapped, and I suppose the great challenge of existence is to step outside everything and see with absolute understanding and wisdom. I suppose that would be enlightenment. It is a fearsome thought.


SyndicaidramonHow you came to believe in astrology when you were raised in an environment that taught you to be critical and also knew beforehand how silly it is, I cannot possibly fathom. Would you mind explaining that for me?


Mmm, good question. A year ago I would have been a bit astonished by the idea myself. I suppose I did a bit of reading. The Tarot are particularly interesting. They can function as a map of human consciousness. So they won't tell you if you are going to wreck your car next week, but they might tell you that you are at a point in your life where it would be beneficial to focus on relationships. They can serve to draw out pieces of yourself that are normally buried in your subconscious. And they are interesting. And I am a poet. The astrology works in the same way. And also, I wonder. The universe is essentially one thing, with all parts interconnected in ways that science is as yet unable to fathom (though someday it will, probably). I guess I am willing to suspend disbelief on the assumption that possibly the positions of the stars are connected to us, in some way. And it also helps to reveal subconscious patterns.

You wrote a lot more interesting stuff, and I read it thoughtfully, but I just looked at the clock and had a bit of an 'Oh my God!" moment. I'm so damned, if all that heaven and hell crap is true. Hahahaha. But it doesn't matter. I am willing to live by my own honest conviction, and I will bear any consequences that result from that with my head held high. I understand your fervor against religion. Frankly, I'm the same way about capitalism, but that is really not a can of worms that needs opening... The world is full of suffering, and for any person capable of seeing this, it inspires a special kind of urgent desperation. Identify the cause and destroy it. But there is no cause to human suffering. It simply is, like the sea and the sky (which I am confident we will be able to destroy, so not like those). Life is characterized by suffering... That is a central point of Buddhist thought. And to escape suffering, one must escape from samsara.

That is why religions exist, and why they are fundamental to human societies. Because life is full of suffering, and we cannot bear it. I suspect that in order to eliminate religion we would have to eliminate suffering first. If the world was full only of bliss, we would have no need for anything more.

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*Cackle*

"Absolutism".
Posted 4/3/14
Tldr. Religion designs society.
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anchore wrote:


Syndicaidramon wrote:


anchore
...and if that is a person's honest personal conviction, then it is their right to hold it without being molested...


What? Where did that come from?


Sorry. Archaic use of a word... From the OED: To cause trouble, grief, or vexation to; to disturb, annoy, inconvenience. Occas. intr. Now rare. Fun Fact! The word rape used to me the kidnapping of women. Not... well, you know. My anime dorkiness pales in comparison to my word dorkiness.


I see. Never knew. Thanks for enlightening me.





anchore

Syndicaidramon
So what type of religion exactly is it that you guys practice? And on what grounds?
And if you are as sceptical and critical and throughout as you claim, then how can you overlook the amount of contradictions and scientific inaccuracies contained within the scriptures (assuming that you belong to either of the abrahamic religions)?


Interesting question. I think I'll try to answer. I am sort of falling into Buddhism, but I am still sort of flailing around looking for answers in all sorts of places. But Buddhism is definitely the most attractive to me right now. The teachings are the most intellectually stimulating, and I find the goals of Buddhist practice to be the most appealing. My brother is a Buddhist. Sometimes I think maybe he should become a monk. I am quite certain that the work of this life, for me, is not enlightenment. I think that is for the next time around.... (I have a pretty good idea of how that sounds to an atheist )

As for the contradictions that exist in scripture... Well, I have never put religion and science in the same boxes, so I have a bit of difficulty comparing them. Basically, if you are to look at something ridiculous (from a scientific perspective) in the Bible and consider them literally, then you are kind of missing the point. Now there are a great many people in the US who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. I can only say that their spiritual teachers have failed them. Stories in scripture are not scientific fact, nor should they be taken so. They are meant to illustrate moral and spiritual ideas. For example, people in the Bible whose ages are absurdly long. The long age is symbolic, not literal. Could Jesus actually walk on water? Does it matter? The story is symbolic. That is the way scriptures are.



Well the thing here is the same as with anything. The original intent of something doesn't matter. When judging the merits of something, one has to look at its actual effects when put into practice.
And in that regard, religion fails across the board.

Buddhism, huh?... Interesting.
Does buddhism contain any deities or doctrines?





anchore

Syndicaidramon
And being that politics is a central part of that authoritarian religion, it is much more likely to result in an authoritarian rule in the cases where the religious leaders have political power.
And when that happens, the people will become more fundamentalist, and more extreme.
This is why the degree of religiously motivated violence, oppression, and lack of human rights/liberty grows with the amount of power that the religious leaders have in politics in islamic countries. Because the teachings of the religion are so barbaric and inhuman.


I'm pretty sure this is not actually what is going on... I think the fundamentalism has more to do with disenfranchised and impoverished people turning to the only thing that makes them feel respected in a world that feels like it has turned against them. It is actually not in the interest of authoritarian governments to encourage fundamentalism, because crazy fanatics are actually pretty hard to control. This is probably why the most rabid and dangerous types of fundamentalists come out of regions where there is very little government or infrastructure. And Islam is barbaric and inhuman? Pretty sure that is not the kind of blanket statement you should make until after you do a lot of studying.



Pretty sure that's not the case. The conditions in those countries aren't that much worse than in many other countries on earth. And you're treated well by your peers in those societies as long as you conform to religion. So the only citizens that are truly disenfranchised are the ones who don't conform to the religious doctrines and dogmas.
And even IF that was the case, then that is still no excuse for religious extremism outside of those countries. Like in the west for instance. There's a growing concern regarding islamic extremism in europe. Particularly in the UK and Scandinavia. Yet the scandinavian countries are some of the best countries in the world to live in.

It is not in the interest for an authoritarian government to encourage extremism that leads to organized violence towards the state, no. But extremely discriminatory views and religious brainwashing decided by the state is a different case entirely. And that's what we see all over the middle east. Especially in Saudi Arabia.

I've done plenty of studying regarding islam. If you go back and read through the thread here on the forum dedicated to islam and the "are you religious, if so, why?" thread, you'll see that this is not something that I'm saying based on no prior research.

http://www.crunchyroll.com/forumtopic-771939/are-you-religious-if-so-why?pg=118#44389117
http://www.crunchyroll.com/forumtopic-779142/your-opinions-on-islam-and-muslims-in-general?pg=31#45321461
http://www.crunchyroll.com/forumtopic-779142/your-opinions-on-islam-and-muslims-in-general?pg=30#45321171




anchore

Syndicaidramon
I must remind you that *I* do not believe that God is an authoritary lawgiver. I don't believe God even exist.
I merely point out the prevailing idea regarding God among religious people. And that view is a lot of what makes religion so horrible.
You may see God as merely a means to a spiritual end (which I don't understand. Do you believe in God's existence, and in a divine reward?), but most religious people do not. And as long as they keep seeing God as an authoritarian lawgiver, and take the teachings of the bible literally, then religion will still remain a bad thing.


Your belief and the image you hold in your mind are different things. I may not believe in Santa, but I still think of him as a fat man in a red suit. Your discussion of God reveals that the image you hold in your mind (though you believe it to be a fiction) is of an authoritarian lawgiver.


And with good reason. Because that's how he's portrayed. The god of Abraham was LITERALLY, the war-god of the ancient jews.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZY2eeozdo8




anchore
Alright, let's pull this apart a bit. I am certain that the image of 'god' or the divine that I have in my mind is different than the one you hold in yours. Alas, I do not posses the words to describe this image, which may be a reason why most people don't get there. Language is such a powerful thing in the human mind. And I would say that I find the idea of a divine reward wholly unsatisfying. But you say you don't understand, and if you live your entire life as a skeptic, while you may live a meritorious and wonderful life, and die completely contented, you will never understand, and that is actually entirely okay. Like I said previously, everyone has the right to choose their own path. (The biggest reason I do not participate in an organized religion). Anyway, I don't understand very well either so it would probably be irresponsible of me to say too much more, because I might harm others with my lack of understanding.


Your interpretation is still better than most religious people's understanding, though...




anchore
And you know, seeing God as an authoritarian lawgiver, taking the teachings of the Bible literally, and being a hater are really three separate things that happen to coincide very often. We should always be careful not to see false correlations. Not every person can climb up a mountain and meditate for their entire life. Most people are simply not prepared. And there is value in living at one's own level with all one's might. You have stepped out of one frame of understanding the world and are looking back inside the frame and wondering how all the people inside can stand to be so ignorant and deluded. But for them, they cannot see outside the frame. They are living inside with all their hearts. But I think here is the piece you have yet to see. You are not in the outermost frame. Neither am I. We are both trapped, and I suppose the great challenge of existence is to step outside everything and see with absolute understanding and wisdom. I suppose that would be enlightenment. It is a fearsome thought.


Honestly, this is getting redundant. Once again don't judge something based on how it was intended or how it could've been under perfect conditions.
If that was the case, I would've also supported communism.
But I don't.
I judge the merits of something based on its actual effects when put into practice.





anchore

SyndicaidramonHow you came to believe in astrology when you were raised in an environment that taught you to be critical and also knew beforehand how silly it is, I cannot possibly fathom. Would you mind explaining that for me?


Mmm, good question. A year ago I would have been a bit astonished by the idea myself. I suppose I did a bit of reading. The Tarot are particularly interesting. They can function as a map of human consciousness. So they won't tell you if you are going to wreck your car next week, but they might tell you that you are at a point in your life where it would be beneficial to focus on relationships. They can serve to draw out pieces of yourself that are normally buried in your subconscious. And they are interesting. And I am a poet. The astrology works in the same way. And also, I wonder. The universe is essentially one thing, with all parts interconnected in ways that science is as yet unable to fathom (though someday it will, probably). I guess I am willing to suspend disbelief on the assumption that possibly the positions of the stars are connected to us, in some way. And it also helps to reveal subconscious patterns.


I think maybe you should watch this.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tsqlyj3OR9A
I guess that's the difference between us. I am not willing to suspend my disbelief unless I have reason to do so. And I have seen absolutely zero evidence for astrology.
I have honestly have more reason to believe in quantum-immortality than I do in astrology.

But hey. You do what you feel is best. So long as you don't impact others in a negative way.




anchore
You wrote a lot more interesting stuff, and I read it thoughtfully, but I just looked at the clock and had a bit of an 'Oh my God!" moment. I'm so damned, if all that heaven and hell crap is true. Hahahaha. But it doesn't matter. I am willing to live by my own honest conviction, and I will bear any consequences that result from that with my head held high. I understand your fervor against religion. Frankly, I'm the same way about capitalism, but that is really not a can of worms that needs opening... The world is full of suffering, and for any person capable of seeing this, it inspires a special kind of urgent desperation. Identify the cause and destroy it.


Well then at least we understand each other... Or you me, at least. :P




anchore
But there is no cause to human suffering. It simply is, like the sea and the sky (which I am confident we will be able to destroy, so not like those). Life is characterized by suffering... That is a central point of Buddhist thought. And to escape suffering, one must escape from samsara.
That is why religions exist, and why they are fundamental to human societies. Because life is full of suffering, and we cannot bear it. I suspect that in order to eliminate religion we would have to eliminate suffering first. If the world was full only of bliss, we would have no need for anything more.


I don't really think this is necessarily completely true, but it's probably pretty true.
Still, I don't think religion is necessary any more. It might have been in the past, but for those living in societies where science and knowledge is readily available, I believe it has outplayed its purpose.
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Posted 4/10/14 , edited 4/10/14

Syndicaidramon wrote:

Does buddhism contain any deities or doctrines?


Doctrines, for sure. As for deities, from what I know, it is a special case: it considers gods (and the question of their existence) irrelevant: basically, it is an atheist religion, but the worship of local gods is tolerated.



I think the fundamentalism has more to do with disenfranchised and impoverished people turning to the only thing that makes them feel respected in a world that feels like it has turned against them.

...


Pretty sure that's not the case.


Like you, I also did plenty of studying of the issue, but I came to a conclusion contrary to yours and similar to anchore's. Impoverishment and/or disenfranchisement is the main driver of extremism everywhere, and Islamic fundamentalism has been the extremist framing of choice in Muslim countries and communities after other alternatives (socialism, nationalism, Baathism) faltered or have been killed off.


So the only citizens that are truly disenfranchised are the ones who don't conform to the religious doctrines and dogmas.


You can hardly say that. "Treatment by fellow citizens" doesn't cover treatment by the state (in most cases, a repressive and corrupt dictatorship), and you also gloss over class.


And even IF that was the case, then that is still no excuse for religious extremism outside of those countries.


I have a lot of problems with this single sentence. Firstly, an explanation is not an excuse: the explanation doesn't excuse any act, and, conversely, an inexcusable act doesn't disprove an explanation. Secondly, the inexcusableness of acts of religious extremism is not geographical: say attempts to drive out religious minorities or cow a moderate majority in Iraq or now Syria aren't any better than say blowing up suburban trains in Madrid. Third, the poverty and disenfranchisement lived by those joining Islamic extremists is not limited to Muslim countries: there are the immigrant communities denied a proper chance of integration, and there is Western support for the dictatorships and Western military interventions.


There's a growing concern regarding islamic extremism in europe.


More like, there is growing hysteria regarding Islamic extremism in Europe. Which doesn't mean that it doesn't exist, but that it is blown out of proportion compared to serious problems, and the reaction to it actually brings more problems.


I judge the merits of something based on its actual effects when put into practice.


I actually agree in general, but I must quibble: the actual effects change over time. Think of liberalism and democracy back in the early 19th century Europe: all it had to show for was the bloodbath of the French Revolution spawning a dictator who engulfed all of Europe in war (Napoleon), and conservatives back then indeed raised the argument that these Enlightement ideals sound good but are a portent of doom in practice..


Still, I don't think religion is necessary any more. It might have been in the past, but for those living in societies where science and knowledge is readily available, I believe it has outplayed its purpose.


Did it ever had a (single) purpose? I mean, it could serve the purpose of making the subjects pliant for cynical rulers, but I don't buy the picture that religion was consciously set up for some purposes like organising society or give answers to unanswerable questions. It's more the opposite, very human and very fallible attempts at organising society or explain the unexplained were dogmatised, ascribed to higher powers, became religion. I subscribe to Dawkins's view that religions are memes, that is self-perpetuating ideas, and any trait they have they do because its inclusion ensured better perpetuation at some time (rather than any benefit to humans).
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Not just religion.
Everything need to be fool proof so that idiots can live a successful life without needing to learn from their mistakes.
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anchore wrote:
As for the contradictions that exist in scripture... Well, I have never put religion and science in the same boxes, so I have a bit of difficulty comparing them. Basically, if you are to look at something ridiculous (from a scientific perspective) in the Bible and consider them literally, then you are kind of missing the point. Now there are a great many people in the US who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. I can only say that their spiritual teachers have failed them. Stories in scripture are not scientific fact, nor should they be taken so. They are meant to illustrate moral and spiritual ideas.


What you apply above is more or less the No True Scotsman fallacy (look it up): you dismiss forms of religion that are incompatible with your views or negative as not proper religion. The notion that scripture is metaphorical is your belief, not a scientific fact

Moving beyond that, even if we restrict to metaphorical interpretations of scripture, there is the issue of what moral and spiritual ideas exactly are illustrated. For example, what do you think the story of the last plague against Egypt in the Bible means?


You are not in the outermost frame. Neither am I. We are both trapped, and I suppose the great challenge of existence is to step outside everything and see with absolute understanding and wisdom.


First, the image you use has a big problem: the things people understand or don't aren't organised hierarchically like the layers of an onion. People can be deluded about entirely separate things. Second, absolute understanding neither necessarily exists nor is certain to be even achievable for mortals: it can be that we can only forever improve our understanding of the world and ourselves.


So they won't tell you if you are going to wreck your car next week, but they might tell you that you are at a point in your life where it would be beneficial to focus on relationships.


How did you establish that Tarot can do that? Specifically, what would be a negative test? (Is there any time in your life when it isn't beneficial to focus on relationships?)


The astrology works in the same way.


How did you establish that? And which astrology, BTW? I always find it funny that astrology believers can overlook the issues of precession, Neptune & Uranus & dwarf planets, and the non-falsifiable popularity of all the different astrologies resulting from whether any of the above are taken into account or not. (What's even funnier is 'horoscope believers' dismissing 'astrology believers' for lack of seriousness.)
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