Religion

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Enigma90825
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Religion

Postby Enigma90825 » Thu Oct 18, 2007 3:07 pm UTC

I was actually kinda surprised when I saw there wasn't already a thread with this topic (at least from the search I did.)

What is your view upon religion? I'm not promoting World War III of religions here, just I'm wondering what your view is upon your own religion from a purely analytical perspective.

Personally, I'm a Christian but since about 5th grade I've had trouble believing everything with the same orthodoxy as many other people to do. If there is a way for somebody to <u>prove</u> to me that religion is right and not just a bunch of fairy tales, then that is all for the better. From my perspective, I assume that religion is false. I'm not a horrible person and still don't go around breaking commandments, but I don't break them not because they are commandments, but because it's just morally wrong to commit most or all of them. I think I can understand why somebody would turn to religion though. If you think about the complete nothingness that an after-life without an eternal being would offer, it can be kind of scary.

Just my view, now what's yours?
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Re: Religion

Postby redwards » Thu Oct 18, 2007 3:31 pm UTC

I'm not certain I know how to respond to this. Just saying 'religion' is almost too broad a topic. I'm pretty sure every forum on the internet has had a 90 page religion slugfest at one point in time. Can you narrow down your area of interest?

I'm also going to go ahead and guess that xkcd is about 70% atheist/agnostic.

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Re: Religion

Postby Maurog » Thu Oct 18, 2007 3:32 pm UTC

Gods are made by men, not the other way around.
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Re: Religion

Postby Gelsamel » Thu Oct 18, 2007 3:35 pm UTC

Agnostic Atheist/Ignostic Here. I'm not sure about what should be done about religion. I'm okay with people believing in it as long as they impinge their BS on science.
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Re: Religion

Postby Enigma90825 » Thu Oct 18, 2007 3:40 pm UTC

redwards wrote:I'm not certain I know how to respond to this. Just saying 'religion' is almost too broad a topic. I'm pretty sure every forum on the internet has had a 90 page religion slugfest at one point in time. Can you narrow down your area of interest?

I'm also going to go ahead and guess that xkcd is about 70% atheist/agnostic.


I know it's a broad subject. Most forums I've seen do have a huge religion "slugfest" and I was wondering where XKCD's was. It can be anything from debunking current religions to speculation about what <u>really</u> "happens" when one dies. Anything. (Hmmm.... I guess that didn't really narrow it down much)
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Re: Religion

Postby Razzle Storm » Thu Oct 18, 2007 3:51 pm UTC

Used to be Christian, then I read the Bible.

Not Christian anymore. I haven't found a church or a pastor that I was comfortable with, since a lot of the bible is um... "difficult" when you actually think about it. There's a lot of questions I've asked that I can't find answers to, and I never felt "the touch of Christ" or anything similar, so right now I am agnostic. Plus, the hypocrisy in a lot of Christianity (note, not all of, there are some more mission-based sects that I respect) today is nothing short of astounding. I actually had a class at a Lutheran church I went to a few times about how to make money to plan for my retirement by investing in stocks. Apparently if I invested when I was 18, by the time I was 60 I'd have close to a million, which they said would be "just enough" for me to live on by that time. No word of donating that money to help others in that lesson though, perhaps it was supposed to come the class after that.

Anyway, I'm not going to say I know how we were created, nor how you should live your life. If a person believes, that's fine, but if someone tells me this is "how I ought to believe/ live my life" I tend to get a little touchy and then start arguing about the Philosophy of Religion with them (which I studied for a few semesters/all my life past 16).

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Re: Religion

Postby Enigma90825 » Thu Oct 18, 2007 4:08 pm UTC

Has anybody here read the book Angels and Demons? I think Dan Brown makes a really good argument here (this text may be edited from the original book source)

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown wrote:"Medicine, electronic communications, space travel, genetic manipulation ... these are the miracles about which we now tell our children. These are the miracles we herald as proof that science will bring us the answers. The ancient stories of immaculate conceptions, burning bushes, and parting seas are no longer relevant. God has become obsolete. Science has won the battle. We concede."

A rustle of confusion and bewilderment swept through the chapel. "But science's victory," the camerlengo added, his voice intensifying, "has cost every one of

us. And it has cost us deeply."

Silence.

"Science may have alleviated the miseries of disease and drudgery and provided an array of gadgetry for our entertainment and convenience, but it has left us in a world without wonder. Our sunsets have been reduced to wavelengths and frequencies. The complexities of the universe have been shredded into mathematical equations. Even our self-worth as human beings has been destroyed. Science proclaims that Planet Earth and its inhabitants are a meaningless speck in the grand scheme. A cosmic accident." He paused. "Even the technology that promises to unite us, divides us. Each of us is now electronically connected to the globe, and yet we feel utterly alone. We are bombarded with violence, division, fracture, and betrayal. Skepticism has become a virtue. Cynicism and demand for proof has become enlightened thought. Is it any wonder that humans now feel more depressed and defeated than they have at any point in human history? Does science hold anything sacred? Science looks for answers by probing our unborn fetuses. Science even presumes to rearrange our own DNA. It shatters God's world into smaller and smaller pieces in quest of meaning ... and all it finds is more questions."

…"The ancient war between science and religion is over," the camerlengo said. "You have won. But you have not won fairly. You have not won by providing answers. You have won by so radically reorienting our society that the truths we once saw as signposts now seem inapplicable. Religion cannot keep up. Scientific growth is exponential. It feeds on itself like a virus. Every new breakthrough opens doors for new breakthroughs. Mankind took thousands of years to progress from the wheel to the car. Yet only decades from the car into space. Now we measure scientific progress in weeks. We are spinning out of control. The rift between us grows deeper and deeper, and as religion is left behind, people find themselves in a spiritual void. We cry out for meaning. And believe me, we do cry out. We see UFOs, engage in channeling, spirit contact, out-of-body experiences, mindquests-all these eccentric ideas have a scientific veneer, but they are unashamedly irrational. They are the desperate cry of the modern soul, lonely and tormented, crippled by its own enlightenment and its inability to accept meaning in anything removed from technology."

Mortati could feel himself leaning forward in his seat. He and the other cardinals and people around the world were hanging on this priest's every utterance. The camerlengo spoke with no rhetoric or vitriol. No references to scripture or Jesus Christ. He spoke in modern terms, unadorned and pure. Somehow, as though the words were flowing from God himself, he spoke the modern language ... delivering the ancient message. In that moment, Mortati saw one of the reasons the late Pope held this young man so dear. In a world of apathy, cynicism, and technological deification, men like the camerlengo, realists who could speak to our souls like this man just had, were the church's only hope.

The camerlengo was talking more forcefully now. "Science, you say, will save us. Science, I say, has destroyed us. Since the days of Galileo, the church has tried to slow the relentless march of science, sometimes with misguided means, but always with benevolent intention. Even so, the temptations are too great for man to resist. I warn you, look around yourselves. The promises of science have not been kept. Promises of efficiency and simplicity have bred nothing but pollution and chaos. We are a fractured and frantic species . . . moving down a path of destruction."

The camerlengo paused a long moment and then sharpened his eyes on the camera.

"Who is this God science? Who is the God who offers his people power but no moral framework to tell you how to use that power? What kind of God gives a child fire but does not warn the child of its dangers? The language of science comes with no signposts about good and bad. Science textbooks tell us how to create a nuclear reaction, and yet they contain no chapter asking us if it is a good or a bad idea.

"To science, I say this. The church is tired. We are exhausted from trying to be your signposts. Our resources are drying up from our campaign to be the voice of balance as you plow blindly on in your quest for smaller chips and larger profits. We ask not why you will not govern yourselves, but how can you? Your world moves so fast that if you stop even for an instant to consider the implications of your actions, someone more efficient will whip past you in a blur. So you move on. You proliferate weapons of mass destruction, but it is the Pope who travels the world beseeching leaders to use restraint. You clone living creatures, but it is the church reminding us to consider the moral implications of our actions. You encourage people to interact on phones, video screens, and computers, but it is the church who opens its doors and reminds us to commune in person as we were meant to do. You even murder unborn babies in the name of research that will save lives. Again, it is the church who points out the fallacy of this reasoning. "And all the while, you proclaim the church is ignorant. But who is more ignorant? The man who cannot define lightning, or the man who does not respect its awesome power? This church is reaching out to you. Reaching out to everyone. And yet the more we reach, the more you push us away. Show me proof there is a God, you say. I say use your telescopes to look to the heavens, and tell me how there could not be a God!"

The camerlengo had tears in his eyes now. "You ask what does God look like. I say, where did that question come from? The answers are one and the same. Do you not see God in your science? How can you miss Him! You proclaim that even the slightest change in the force of gravity or the weight of an atom would have rendered our universe a lifeless mist rather than our magnificent sea of heavenly bodies, and yet you fail to see God's hand in this? Is it really so much easier to believe that we simply chose the right card from a deck of billions? Have we become so spiritually bankrupt that we would rather believe in mathematical impossibility than in a power greater than us?”

"Whether or not you believe in God," the camerlengo said, his voice deepening with deliberation, "you must believe this. When we as a species abandon our trust in the power greater than us, we abandon our sense of accountability. Faith ... all faiths … are admonitions that there is something we cannot understand, something to which we are accountable . . . With faith we are accountable to each other, to ourselves, and to a higher truth. Religion is flawed, but only because man is flawed. If the outside world could see this church as I do ... looking beyond the ritual of these walls . . . they would see a modern miracle... a brotherhood of imperfect, simple souls wanting only to be a voice of compassion in a world spinning out of control. . . .”
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Re: Religion

Postby miraidesuka » Thu Oct 18, 2007 4:24 pm UTC

Enigma90825 wrote:Has anybody here read the book Angels and Demons? I think Dan Brown makes a really good argument here (this text may be edited from the original book source)

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown wrote:"Medicine, electronic communications, space travel, genetic manipulation ... these are the miracles about which we now tell our children. These are the miracles we herald as proof that science will bring us the answers. The ancient stories of immaculate conceptions, burning bushes, and parting seas are no longer relevant. God has become obsolete. Science has won the battle. We concede."

A rustle of confusion and bewilderment swept through the chapel. "But science's victory," the camerlengo added, his voice intensifying, "has cost every one of

us. And it has cost us deeply."

Silence.

"Science may have alleviated the miseries of disease and drudgery and provided an array of gadgetry for our entertainment and convenience, but it has left us in a world without wonder. Our sunsets have been reduced to wavelengths and frequencies. The complexities of the universe have been shredded into mathematical equations. Even our self-worth as human beings has been destroyed. Science proclaims that Planet Earth and its inhabitants are a meaningless speck in the grand scheme. A cosmic accident." He paused. "Even the technology that promises to unite us, divides us. Each of us is now electronically connected to the globe, and yet we feel utterly alone. We are bombarded with violence, division, fracture, and betrayal. Skepticism has become a virtue. Cynicism and demand for proof has become enlightened thought. Is it any wonder that humans now feel more depressed and defeated than they have at any point in human history? Does science hold anything sacred? Science looks for answers by probing our unborn fetuses. Science even presumes to rearrange our own DNA. It shatters God's world into smaller and smaller pieces in quest of meaning ... and all it finds is more questions."

…"The ancient war between science and religion is over," the camerlengo said. "You have won. But you have not won fairly. You have not won by providing answers. You have won by so radically reorienting our society that the truths we once saw as signposts now seem inapplicable. Religion cannot keep up. Scientific growth is exponential. It feeds on itself like a virus. Every new breakthrough opens doors for new breakthroughs. Mankind took thousands of years to progress from the wheel to the car. Yet only decades from the car into space. Now we measure scientific progress in weeks. We are spinning out of control. The rift between us grows deeper and deeper, and as religion is left behind, people find themselves in a spiritual void. We cry out for meaning. And believe me, we do cry out. We see UFOs, engage in channeling, spirit contact, out-of-body experiences, mindquests-all these eccentric ideas have a scientific veneer, but they are unashamedly irrational. They are the desperate cry of the modern soul, lonely and tormented, crippled by its own enlightenment and its inability to accept meaning in anything removed from technology."

Mortati could feel himself leaning forward in his seat. He and the other cardinals and people around the world were hanging on this priest's every utterance. The camerlengo spoke with no rhetoric or vitriol. No references to scripture or Jesus Christ. He spoke in modern terms, unadorned and pure. Somehow, as though the words were flowing from God himself, he spoke the modern language ... delivering the ancient message. In that moment, Mortati saw one of the reasons the late Pope held this young man so dear. In a world of apathy, cynicism, and technological deification, men like the camerlengo, realists who could speak to our souls like this man just had, were the church's only hope.

The camerlengo was talking more forcefully now. "Science, you say, will save us. Science, I say, has destroyed us. Since the days of Galileo, the church has tried to slow the relentless march of science, sometimes with misguided means, but always with benevolent intention. Even so, the temptations are too great for man to resist. I warn you, look around yourselves. The promises of science have not been kept. Promises of efficiency and simplicity have bred nothing but pollution and chaos. We are a fractured and frantic species . . . moving down a path of destruction."

The camerlengo paused a long moment and then sharpened his eyes on the camera.

"Who is this God science? Who is the God who offers his people power but no moral framework to tell you how to use that power? What kind of God gives a child fire but does not warn the child of its dangers? The language of science comes with no signposts about good and bad. Science textbooks tell us how to create a nuclear reaction, and yet they contain no chapter asking us if it is a good or a bad idea.

"To science, I say this. The church is tired. We are exhausted from trying to be your signposts. Our resources are drying up from our campaign to be the voice of balance as you plow blindly on in your quest for smaller chips and larger profits. We ask not why you will not govern yourselves, but how can you? Your world moves so fast that if you stop even for an instant to consider the implications of your actions, someone more efficient will whip past you in a blur. So you move on. You proliferate weapons of mass destruction, but it is the Pope who travels the world beseeching leaders to use restraint. You clone living creatures, but it is the church reminding us to consider the moral implications of our actions. You encourage people to interact on phones, video screens, and computers, but it is the church who opens its doors and reminds us to commune in person as we were meant to do. You even murder unborn babies in the name of research that will save lives. Again, it is the church who points out the fallacy of this reasoning. "And all the while, you proclaim the church is ignorant. But who is more ignorant? The man who cannot define lightning, or the man who does not respect its awesome power? This church is reaching out to you. Reaching out to everyone. And yet the more we reach, the more you push us away. Show me proof there is a God, you say. I say use your telescopes to look to the heavens, and tell me how there could not be a God!"

The camerlengo had tears in his eyes now. "You ask what does God look like. I say, where did that question come from? The answers are one and the same. Do you not see God in your science? How can you miss Him! You proclaim that even the slightest change in the force of gravity or the weight of an atom would have rendered our universe a lifeless mist rather than our magnificent sea of heavenly bodies, and yet you fail to see God's hand in this? Is it really so much easier to believe that we simply chose the right card from a deck of billions? Have we become so spiritually bankrupt that we would rather believe in mathematical impossibility than in a power greater than us?”

"Whether or not you believe in God," the camerlengo said, his voice deepening with deliberation, "you must believe this. When we as a species abandon our trust in the power greater than us, we abandon our sense of accountability. Faith ... all faiths … are admonitions that there is something we cannot understand, something to which we are accountable . . . With faith we are accountable to each other, to ourselves, and to a higher truth. Religion is flawed, but only because man is flawed. If the outside world could see this church as I do ... looking beyond the ritual of these walls . . . they would see a modern miracle... a brotherhood of imperfect, simple souls wanting only to be a voice of compassion in a world spinning out of control. . . .”


What a complete load of tripe. I'd pick the carmerlengo's argument apart piece by piece, but I'd only be the next in a long line of vultures picking at the decaying corpse of the old canards and self-reassuring platitudes that are contained within the character's argument.
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Re: Religion

Postby zar » Thu Oct 18, 2007 4:26 pm UTC

Enigma90825 wrote:Personally, I'm a Christian but since about 5th grade I've had trouble believing everything with the same orthodoxy as many other people to do. If there is a way for somebody to <u>prove</u> to me that religion is right and not just a bunch of fairy tales, then that is all for the better. From my perspective, I assume that religion is false. I'm not a horrible person and still don't go around breaking commandments, but I don't break them not because they are commandments, but because it's just morally wrong to commit most or all of them. I think I can understand why somebody would turn to religion though. If you think about the complete nothingness that an after-life without an eternal being would offer, it can be kind of scary.


Can you name the first three commandments without looking them up? Do you you actually think those things matter, and do you follow them? (Not making idols/not swearing/not working on the Sabbath.)

Moving down the list the last two, which are about coveting, it's quite puzzling how they can even be followed. One can't control what one wants. To have such a thing outlawed is essentially thought-crime. Again, do you think these things should be followed, and can you honestly say that you do not break them?

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Re: Religion

Postby miraidesuka » Thu Oct 18, 2007 4:32 pm UTC

Enigma90825 wrote:I was actually kinda surprised when I saw there wasn't already a thread with this topic (at least from the search I did.)

What is your view upon religion? I'm not promoting World War III of religions here, just I'm wondering what your view is upon your own religion from a purely analytical perspective.

Personally, I'm a Christian but since about 5th grade I've had trouble believing everything with the same orthodoxy as many other people to do. If there is a way for somebody to <u>prove</u> to me that religion is right and not just a bunch of fairy tales, then that is all for the better. From my perspective, I assume that religion is false. I'm not a horrible person and still don't go around breaking commandments, but I don't break them not because they are commandments, but because it's just morally wrong to commit most or all of them. I think I can understand why somebody would turn to religion though. If you think about the complete nothingness that an after-life without an eternal being would offer, it can be kind of scary.

Just my view, now what's yours?


What do you think of Jean Valjean (fictional character though he may be)?
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Re: Religion

Postby Robin S » Thu Oct 18, 2007 4:43 pm UTC

Just because there wasn't already a thread called "religion", it doesn't mean we haven't had this thread before.
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Re: Religion

Postby zenten » Thu Oct 18, 2007 4:48 pm UTC

I define myself as being an atheist, who really likes Taoism. I put "Taoist" on the census.

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Re: Religion

Postby Enigma90825 » Thu Oct 18, 2007 5:25 pm UTC

zar wrote:
Enigma90825 wrote:Personally, I'm a Christian but since about 5th grade I've had trouble believing everything with the same orthodoxy as many other people to do. If there is a way for somebody to <u>prove</u> to me that religion is right and not just a bunch of fairy tales, then that is all for the better. From my perspective, I assume that religion is false. I'm not a horrible person and still don't go around breaking commandments, but I don't break them not because they are commandments, but because it's just morally wrong to commit most or all of them. I think I can understand why somebody would turn to religion though. If you think about the complete nothingness that an after-life without an eternal being would offer, it can be kind of scary.


Can you name the first three commandments without looking them up? Do you you actually think those things matter, and do you follow them? (Not making idols/not swearing/not working on the Sabbath.)

Moving down the list the last two, which are about coveting, it's quite puzzling how they can even be followed. One can't control what one wants. To have such a thing outlawed is essentially thought-crime. Again, do you think these things should be followed, and can you honestly say that you do not break them?


You have a point, I wasn't considering all of the commandments when I said that. I was particularly focusing upon "Thou shalt not kill" "Thou shalt not steal" or some other basic ones like that. Looking upon what they <u>actually</u> are right now, I have to agree with you. The only reason for most of them seems to be enforcing the religion itself and not promoting good moral behavior as I said before.

miraidesuka wrote:What do you think of Jean Valjean (fictional character though he may be)?


I haven't actually read Les Miserables, but from what I gather Jean Valjean was sent to jail because of stealing a loaf of bread which he would have starved without. Of course, the principles of stealing or even killing can be argued either way, such as in the case of Jean Valjean. However, as a general rule of thumb (which of course, doesn't apply to ALL cases), you shouldn't walk up to a stranger and kill or rob them.
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Re: Religion

Postby Matthias » Thu Oct 18, 2007 5:45 pm UTC

Assuming the existence of the soul--which I do, because I simply do not abide by nihilism--it naturally follows to apply conservation of energy and say that a soul can neither be created nor destroyed. Perhaps each individual soul is simply a sampling of spiritual energy, in the same way that bodies are a sampling of the physical world, but I choose not to believe it. Mostly out of pride, but also from a Buddhist argument: each thought you have springs from the thought before it. Therefore it stands to reason that your stream of consciousness stretches back to the beginning of time.

So, yeah, reincarnation. As far as religion goes, if I write down anything as a preference it's Buddhism, but I usually just write "no preference."
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Re: Religion

Postby zenten » Thu Oct 18, 2007 5:49 pm UTC

Matthias wrote:Assuming the existence of the soul--which I do, because I simply do not abide by nihilism--it naturally follows to apply conservation of energy and say that a soul can neither be created nor destroyed. Perhaps each individual soul is simply a sampling of spiritual energy, in the same way that bodies are a sampling of the physical world, but I choose not to believe it. Mostly out of pride, but also from a Buddhist argument: each thought you have springs from the thought before it. Therefore it stands to reason that your stream of consciousness stretches back to the beginning of time.

So, yeah, reincarnation. As far as religion goes, if I write down anything as a preference it's Buddhism, but I usually just write "no preference."


Could you explain why rejecting nihilism means there is a soul, and why conservation of energy applies to stable soul structures?

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Re: Religion

Postby miraidesuka » Thu Oct 18, 2007 5:55 pm UTC

Matthias wrote:Assuming the existence of the soul--which I do, because I simply do not abide by nihilism--it naturally follows to apply conservation of energy and say that a soul can neither be created nor destroyed. Perhaps each individual soul is simply a sampling of spiritual energy, in the same way that bodies are a sampling of the physical world, but I choose not to believe it. Mostly out of pride, but also from a Buddhist argument: each thought you have springs from the thought before it. Therefore it stands to reason that your stream of consciousness stretches back to the beginning of time.

So, yeah, reincarnation. As far as religion goes, if I write down anything as a preference it's Buddhism, but I usually just write "no preference."


What empirical evidence do you have for the existence of a soul? Also, how do you get ~soul->nihilism?
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Re: Religion

Postby Gadren » Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:00 pm UTC

I'm sitting here bored in class, so I'll take the time to refute that Angels and Demons passage, since it truly is a load of tripe. ;)

"Science may have alleviated the miseries of disease and drudgery and provided an array of gadgetry for our entertainment and convenience, but it has left us in a world without wonder. Our sunsets have been reduced to wavelengths and frequencies. The complexities of the universe have been shredded into mathematical equations. Even our self-worth as human beings has been destroyed. Science proclaims that Planet Earth and its inhabitants are a meaningless speck in the grand scheme. A cosmic accident."

In other words, I feel bad because now I'm not God's precious snowflake. Science is so mean! It's so much better to have an blank-faced ignorant awe at the universe instead of the awe of understanding the way the universe really works.

"Even the technology that promises to unite us, divides us. Each of us is now electronically connected to the globe, and yet we feel utterly alone. We are bombarded with violence, division, fracture, and betrayal. Skepticism has become a virtue. Cynicism and demand for proof has become enlightened thought. Is it any wonder that humans now feel more depressed and defeated than they have at any point in human history? Does science hold anything sacred? Science looks for answers by probing our unborn fetuses. Science even presumes to rearrange our own DNA. It shatters God's world into smaller and smaller pieces in quest of meaning ... and all it finds is more questions."

People are now thinking for themselves, and we can no longer have our grip upon the population; we can no longer placate the human drive to learn by offering belief without evidence or halting the pursuit of knowledge with a "God did it."

Religion cannot keep up. Scientific growth is exponential. It feeds on itself like a virus. Every new breakthrough opens doors for new breakthroughs. Mankind took thousands of years to progress from the wheel to the car. Yet only decades from the car into space. Now we measure scientific progress in weeks. We are spinning out of control.

It's simply not fair that science is a better way of explaining things than religion. It scares us that there are new advances, and we long for the good old days when life was brutish and short and the Church was in control.

The rift between us grows deeper and deeper, and as religion is left behind, people find themselves in a spiritual void. We cry out for meaning. And believe me, we do cry out. We see UFOs, engage in channeling, spirit contact, out-of-body experiences, mindquests-all these eccentric ideas have a scientific veneer, but they are unashamedly irrational. They are the desperate cry of the modern soul, lonely and tormented, crippled by its own enlightenment and its inability to accept meaning in anything removed from technology."

Even though science rejects such pseudoscience and actually uses its skepticism against it, we choose to lump them with science because it is convenient. And even though such "pagan" spiritualism has always existed, it's only now when we can't burn them at the stake that we call them a modern side effect of science. And of course, our practices are so much more reasonable than those eccentric ideas.

"Science, you say, will save us. Science, I say, has destroyed us. Since the days of Galileo, the church has tried to slow the relentless march of science, sometimes with misguided means, but always with benevolent intention. Even so, the temptations are too great for man to resist. I warn you, look around yourselves. The promises of science have not been kept. Promises of efficiency and simplicity have bred nothing but pollution and chaos. We are a fractured and frantic species . . . moving down a path of destruction."

My white/black vision of the universe can only treat science like a religion, promising to bring us salvation -- and damn all those scientists who say differently! Science is strange and new and so much worse than living a couple decades before dying of the plague -- of course, that wouldn't apply to me, living in the Solid Gold Room in the Vatican.

"Who is this God science? Who is the God who offers his people power but no moral framework to tell you how to use that power? What kind of God gives a child fire but does not warn the child of its dangers? The language of science comes with no signposts about good and bad. Science textbooks tell us how to create a nuclear reaction, and yet they contain no chapter asking us if it is a good or a bad idea.

My fascination with supernatural beings curses anything that dares be a simple tool without a mind behind it. I choose to personify science, and declare that science must be science and ethics!

"To science, I say this. The church is tired. We are exhausted from trying to be your signposts. Our resources are drying up from our campaign to be the voice of balance as you plow blindly on in your quest for smaller chips and larger profits. We ask not why you will not govern yourselves, but how can you? Your world moves so fast that if you stop even for an instant to consider the implications of your actions, someone more efficient will whip past you in a blur. So you move on. You proliferate weapons of mass destruction, but it is the Pope who travels the world beseeching leaders to use restraint. You clone living creatures, but it is the church reminding us to consider the moral implications of our actions. You encourage people to interact on phones, video screens, and computers, but it is the church who opens its doors and reminds us to commune in person as we were meant to do. You even murder unborn babies in the name of research that will save lives. Again, it is the church who points out the fallacy of this reasoning. "And all the while, you proclaim the church is ignorant. But who is more ignorant? The man who cannot define lightning, or the man who does not respect its awesome power? This church is reaching out to you. Reaching out to everyone.

You develop new power sources to bring stability to the world, but it is the Pope who brings suffering to Africa by opposing condoms. You use stem cell research to cure horrible diseases, but it is we who throw it all away because it kills God's little babies. You bring people together to solve the mysteries of the universe, but it is we who cover up the scandal of our clergy raping children. We feel justified in painting science with the broadest brush possible, but will cry offended when associated with the Crusades or Inquisition.

And yet the more we reach, the more you push us away. Show me proof there is a God, you say. I say use your telescopes to look to the heavens, and tell me how there could not be a God!"

The camerlengo had tears in his eyes now. "You ask what does God look like. I say, where did that question come from? The answers are one and the same. Do you not see God in your science? How can you miss Him! You proclaim that even the slightest change in the force of gravity or the weight of an atom would have rendered our universe a lifeless mist rather than our magnificent sea of heavenly bodies, and yet you fail to see God's hand in this? Is it really so much easier to believe that we simply chose the right card from a deck of billions? Have we become so spiritually bankrupt that we would rather believe in mathematical impossibility than in a power greater than us?”

Burden of proof or anthropic principle? Never heard of them. Our response to inquiry is evasion and belittling of the inquirer. And if you keep being mean to us, I'll cry -- and emotion beats facts, hands down.

"Whether or not you believe in God," the camerlengo said, his voice deepening with deliberation, "you must believe this. When we as a species abandon our trust in the power greater than us, we abandon our sense of accountability. Faith ... all faiths … are admonitions that there is something we cannot understand, something to which we are accountable . . . With faith we are accountable to each other, to ourselves, and to a higher truth. Religion is flawed, but only because man is flawed. If the outside world could see this church as I do ... looking beyond the ritual of these walls . . . they would see a modern miracle... a brotherhood of imperfect, simple souls wanting only to be a voice of compassion in a world spinning out of control. . . .”

You don't have to believe in God, but you can believe in a higher power. No, of course that's not just a repackaged God! Bad things done by scientists condemn all of science, but bad things done by the religious in no way condemn science.

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Re: Religion

Postby miraidesuka » Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:12 pm UTC

Bravo gadren!
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Re: Religion

Postby mosc » Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:14 pm UTC

As a religious person, I have given up trying to discuss religion on XKCD. Most people here are fairly intolerant of any belief that cannot be supported with evidence. When I try to explain that some beliefs have nothing to do with the physical universe we interact with, people glaze over pretty fast.

I think anybody who believes in an old bearded white guy sitting up on a throne in the clouds constantly fiddling with the earth like some kind of billion-sided rubix cube is a little nutsy yes but that doesn't mean the concept of things existing beyond our ability to perceive is fantasy either.
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Re: Religion

Postby Nath » Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:18 pm UTC

mosc wrote:As a religious person, I have given up trying to discuss religion on XKCD. Most people here are fairly intolerant of any belief that cannot be supported with evidence. When I try to explain that some beliefs have nothing to do with the physical universe we interact with, people glaze over pretty fast.

I don't mean to put you on the spot here, but I'm genuinely curious about this. A few of my relatives have views similar to yours, and I haven't had much luck getting them to explain this to me.

When you say you believe in something that has nothing to do with the physical universe, in what sense does the thing you believe in exist? Is it a metaphor? Would the observable universe be any different if it didn't exist?

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Re: Religion

Postby Belial » Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:20 pm UTC

When I try to explain that some beliefs have nothing to do with the physical universe we interact with, people glaze over pretty fast.


By "glaze over" you mean "question relevance" right? Because that's most of what happened when you presented that one. The question became "if it doesn't affect the universe in some way, why does it matter, or in what sense can it be said to exist?" Which I think remains a pretty pertinent question (and not just because I was one of the ones who asked it).

I only bring this up because it's not necessarily cool to malign the forum for asking a reasonable question and failing to like your answer.

Edit: semi-ninja'd by Nath! Whee!
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Re: Religion

Postby Greyarcher » Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:22 pm UTC

I wasn't pushed into any specific religion, the alleged reason being that my parents thought that I was bright enough that I ought to come to my own conclusions. I grew up reading various myths and fiction novels containing deities; thus when I learned that people actually believed in such things, I was quite surprised. Up until now, I haven't found the various proposed arguments and evidences sufficient to move me to the conclusion "I believe in religion x" nor "I believe that the validity of religion x is fundamentally undermined by false historical claims". I suppose this may be classified as "agnostic" (though some call it "atheist").

I still puzzle over the nature of religious belief, and I wonder how much error creeps into one's position due to irrelevant factors that ought not influence one's perception of plausibility. For instance, I strongly suspect that if I had been pushed into a specific religion during my childhood, then this would have caused my subjective perception of plausibility to favor that religion. As long as they could have wedged a bit of belief into me, I suspect that I would naturally have started defending it on my own, approaching opposed positions with greater doubt and skepticism, and would have applied a higher burden of proof to said positions. And yet, all the arguments would have been the same, only one's gut sense of plausibility--hence one's likelihood of being persuaded--would differ. Eh.
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Re: Religion

Postby redwards » Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:28 pm UTC

Enigma90825 wrote:Has anybody here read the book Angels and Demons? I think Dan Brown makes a really good argument here (this text may be edited from the original book source)


I doubt that Dan Brown even agrees with that argument. Just a character spewing a load of utter crap.

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Re: Religion

Postby miraidesuka » Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:29 pm UTC

mosc wrote:As a religious person, I have given up trying to discuss religion on XKCD. Most people here are fairly intolerant of any belief that cannot be supported with evidence. When I try to explain that some beliefs have nothing to do with the physical universe we interact with, people glaze over pretty fast.

I think anybody who believes in an old bearded white guy sitting up on a throne in the clouds constantly fiddling with the earth like some kind of billion-sided rubix cube is a little nutsy yes but that doesn't mean the concept of things existing beyond our ability to perceive is fantasy either.


mosc, if I told you that there was a teapot in orbit around the sun between Earth and Mars, and it could not be observed through any physical means, but that it was imperative to your moral and spiritual well-being to believe in this teapot, would you believe me? would you believe in the teapot? If your answer is yes to either of those, I've got a beautiful bridge to sell you.

as to the second part of your statement. Granted there are things that have existed beyond our ability to perceive them, for a long time it was germs, then viruses, then quarks and photons, but all these things have something in common. Their existence at one time or another was falsifiable, in that we could conceive of an empirical, repeatable test to determine their existence. There is no similar test available or conceivable that would empirically prove the existence of any god -- omnipotent bearded old man or metaphysical universal spiritual entity. Were there empirical evidence to suggest either of the two, it would have to be 1) extraordinary, 2) repeatable, and 3) falsifiable. Until then, we can safely say that there is no evidence that lends credence to the existence of a supreme being.
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Re: Religion

Postby madaloon » Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:38 pm UTC

I know far more about church organization than I ever wanted to because my mom is a minister. My parents exercise religious tolerance, which is why they're ok with me being a secular humanist. They passed that religious tolerance onto me. I participate in a Christian campus ministry on my campus, not to please my parents, but to help people find their bliss. Religion, sexuality, and fingerprints are very personal things and people should be encouraged to do what makes them happy.
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Re: Religion

Postby zenten » Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:40 pm UTC

miraidesuka wrote:as to the second part of your statement. Granted there are things that have existed beyond our ability to perceive them, for a long time it was germs, then viruses, then quarks and photons, but all these things have something in common. Their existence at one time or another was falsifiable, in that we could conceive of an empirical, repeatable test to determine their existence. There is no similar test available or conceivable that would empirically prove the existence of any god -- omnipotent bearded old man or metaphysical universal spiritual entity. Were there empirical evidence to suggest either of the two, it would have to be 1) extraordinary, 2) repeatable, and 3) falsifiable. Until then, we can safely say that there is no evidence that lends credence to the existence of a supreme being.


Sure there is, climb mount Olympus and say high to them. As to Christianity, most branches have beliefs that are quite falsifiable.

The problem is that these beliefs are often falsified, and the people who believe these things take issue with it, and try to say that the experiment wasn't done right.

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Re: Religion

Postby miraidesuka » Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:42 pm UTC

zenten wrote:
Sure there is, climb mount Olympus and say high to them. As to Christianity, most branches have beliefs that are quite falsifiable.

The problem is that these beliefs are often falsified, and the people who believe these things take issue with it, and try to say that the experiment wasn't done right.


LOL, that made my day.

Edit: Also, point taken, there is a practical, conceivable test to determine whether those gods exist.
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Re: Religion

Postby redwards » Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:55 pm UTC

zenten wrote:Sure there is, climb mount Olympus and say high to them. As to Christianity, most branches have beliefs that are quite falsifiable.

The problem is that these beliefs are often falsified, and the people who believe these things take issue with it, and try to say that the experiment wasn't done right.


Transubstantiation? :lol:

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Re: Religion

Postby miraidesuka » Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:58 pm UTC

redwards wrote:
zenten wrote:Sure there is, climb mount Olympus and say high to them. As to Christianity, most branches have beliefs that are quite falsifiable.

The problem is that these beliefs are often falsified, and the people who believe these things take issue with it, and try to say that the experiment wasn't done right.


Transubstantiation? :lol:


If you're saying Transubstantiation does exist, I've got a nice cyanide communion wafer for you. :D

If you're saying it doesn't, then I'm lauging along.
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Re: Religion

Postby redwards » Thu Oct 18, 2007 7:02 pm UTC

miraidesuka wrote:If you're saying Transubstantiation does exist, I've got a nice cyanide communion wafer for you. :D

If you're saying it doesn't, then I'm lauging along.


I'm saying it's an example of something that's easily falsifiable. All you need is a Catholic willing to have his stomach pumped on Sunday.

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Re: Religion

Postby Robin S » Thu Oct 18, 2007 7:13 pm UTC

miraidesuka wrote:there is a practical, conceivable test to determine whether those gods exist.
In some cases. In many cases, the religious believers claim that is what faith is all about (which I respect. They're not claiming to have scientific evidence to back up their beliefs; to the contrary, they're acknowledging that there isn't any).
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Re: Religion

Postby miraidesuka » Thu Oct 18, 2007 7:19 pm UTC

Robin S wrote:
miraidesuka wrote:there is a practical, conceivable test to determine whether those gods exist.
In some cases. In many cases, the religious believers claim that is what faith is all about (which I respect. They're not claiming to have scientific evidence to back up their beliefs; to the contrary, they're acknowledging that there isn't any).


Then why respect it?

Religion is, as you say, acknowledging that there is no evidence to its claim. For any claim other than a religious one we don't tolerate people making baseless claims, so why should religion be exempt?
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Re: Religion

Postby zenten » Thu Oct 18, 2007 7:21 pm UTC

miraidesuka wrote:
Robin S wrote:
miraidesuka wrote:there is a practical, conceivable test to determine whether those gods exist.
In some cases. In many cases, the religious believers claim that is what faith is all about (which I respect. They're not claiming to have scientific evidence to back up their beliefs; to the contrary, they're acknowledging that there isn't any).


Then why respect it?

Religion is, as you say, acknowledging that there is no evidence to its claim. For any claim other than a religious one we don't tolerate people making baseless claims, so why should religion be exempt?


Actually, people make baseless claims all the time that are accepted. And you can take any claim that is grounded in evidence, and examine the evidence, and the evidence for that, etc, and eventually come to matters of faith.

So religion isn't so unusual here.

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Re: Religion

Postby mosc » Thu Oct 18, 2007 7:28 pm UTC

Nath wrote:I don't mean to put you on the spot here, but I'm genuinely curious about this. A few of my relatives have views similar to yours, and I haven't had much luck getting them to explain this to me.

OK, just try to note the crap I have to wade through in response to it all as my beliefs are equated to floating teapots, spagetti monsters, and unicorns.

Belial wrote:By "glaze over" you mean "question relevance" right? Because that's most of what happened when you presented that one. The question became "if it doesn't affect the universe in some way, why does it matter, or in what sense can it be said to exist?" Which I think remains a pretty pertinent question (and not just because I was one of the ones who asked it).

Yup, that's exactly what I mean. You say it is irrelevant to you but it is very relevant to me. It is not relevant in my decision on what to eat for breakfast or when to go to the store but it is relevant to me because it keeps me open minded, tolerant, and curious.

miraidesuka wrote:mosc, if I told you that there was a teapot in orbit around the sun between Earth and Mars, and it could not be observed through any physical means, but that it was imperative to your moral and spiritual well-being to believe in this teapot, would you believe me? would you believe in the teapot? If your answer is yes to either of those, I've got a beautiful bridge to sell you.

Yay teapots. Teapots are man made. They also have a finite mass. They are also bound by the laws of physics. A teapot orbiting a distant planet is improbable not due to the philosophy involved but the science involved. God has no mass and is not bound by the laws of physics so I fail to see much similarity at all other than you trying to say "do you believe in something you can't prove?" and my answer is "yes and no". Yes I believe in things I can't prove. No I do not believe in anything specific I can't prove. In general, I believe my perception is very limited and there are many things outside of it. Specifically, if I can define something concretely, I can then use science to prove or disprove it so if is concretely defined, it is bound by science. Something that is by definition out of my perception is impossible to define and thus impossible to prove or disprove. How could I perceive the proof of something I cannot perceive?

Back to Nath's general question, I am a Jew. I believe in a God that is undefinable and indescribable. Belial calls this an irrelevant god. My favorite comment of his "Well, yes, if you define "God" loosely enough that it loses all meaning, and define atheism so tightly that it becomes absurd, you're absolutely right, god must exist and atheism is dumb." I agree with that statement but I also find the reverse true for myself. If you define "Atheist" loosely enough that it doesn't rule out the unknowable, and define "God" so tightly that it becomes absurd, god can't exist and atheism is the only intelligent choice. Indeed by some definitions of the word (proposed by XKCD ppl), I am very much an atheist. Personally, my definition is more in line with the Belial quote.

Your question of whither the universe would be any different if God didn't exist is kind of the whole point of my belief. I cannot know that answer or I would definitively be able to prove god, would I not? I am incapable of perceiving the ways in which the universe is effected thus I cannot answer that question. Moreover, I believe if someone DOES answer that question, they're a fool.

I'd like to make more comments here but it will re-hash a lot. I suggest browsing these three threads which I posted in quite regularly along with others XKCDers:
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=2926
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=9055
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=9111
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Re: Religion

Postby Belial » Thu Oct 18, 2007 7:34 pm UTC

Yup, that's exactly what I mean. You say it is irrelevant to you but it is very relevant to me. It is not relevant in my decision on what to eat for breakfast or when to go to the store but it is relevant to me because it keeps me open minded, tolerant, and curious.


Actually, I didn't say it was irrelevant to me, I asked how it could be relevant to anything or anyone, and in what sense it could be said to even exist.
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Re: Religion

Postby zenten » Thu Oct 18, 2007 7:40 pm UTC

mosc wrote:
Back to Nath's general question, I am a Jew. I believe in a God that is undefinable and indescribable. Belial calls this an irrelevant god. My favorite comment of his "Well, yes, if you define "God" loosely enough that it loses all meaning, and define atheism so tightly that it becomes absurd, you're absolutely right, god must exist and atheism is dumb." I agree with that statement but I also find the reverse true for myself. If you define "Atheist" loosely enough that it doesn't rule out the unknowable, and define "God" so tightly that it becomes absurd, god can't exist and atheism is the only intelligent choice. Indeed by some definitions of the word (proposed by XKCD ppl), I am very much an atheist. Personally, my definition is more in line with the Belial quote.

Your question of whither the universe would be any different if God didn't exist is kind of the whole point of my belief. I cannot know that answer or I would definitively be able to prove god, would I not? I am incapable of perceiving the ways in which the universe is effected thus I cannot answer that question. Moreover, I believe if someone DOES answer that question, they're a fool.

I'd like to make more comments here but it will re-hash a lot. I suggest browsing these three threads which I posted in quite regularly along with others XKCDers:
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=2926
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=9055
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=9111


Ok, in what ways does believing in God affect your life? You said something about it making you open minded, how so?

Also, do you believe in the accuracy of the Tanakh?

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Re: Religion

Postby Robin S » Thu Oct 18, 2007 7:45 pm UTC

I'd like to chip in here, as someone who was born into a Jewish family, started out an atheist as a child, started believing in God as a teenager and became agnostic about two years ago. As far as the matter of the Tanakh is concerned, I take what is commonly seen as the middle ground in believing that it has its basis in fact, but is distorted by bias. I subscribe to a form of the documentary hypothesis. This does not affect my belief or disbelief in God or gods; rather, as far as I am concerned, such matters are beyond science and therefore, as many people have said, irrelevant to my day-to-day life.

In fact, the primary way in which it affects my life is the frequent philosophical debates I encounter regarding whether or not God exists.
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Re: Religion

Postby mosc » Thu Oct 18, 2007 7:53 pm UTC

A very, well, Jewish answer from Robin S. I would note that Atheist beliefs are fairly mainstream amongst many Jews, at least at some points in their lives.

I'm going to quote mostly from earlier threads to answer zenten's question
mosc wrote:As a Jew, I believe there is a little piece of God in all of us. It inherently provides a direction for right and wrong. You could say I think you are a religious being whither you agknowledge it or not. We are all god's children, regardless of if you want to be or not. Course, I'm not saying it's some kind of supernatural force at all. Nor is it distinctly human. I think it's in our genes as much as anywhere else. There's nothing spiritual about it really, it's just the belief that you are capable of it.
...
God = Good
Good = God
...
Good flows from god and we all have a little of god in us sure but more than that, the concept of god could be expressed ITSELF to be a manifestation of good. I explain god by the good just as much as the good coming from god.

You could think of god as just another word for the good in all of us yes. I don't think that's a matter of just renaming, I think it's a spiritual concept. Also, my religion is MOSTLY about doing good in the world, yes.
mosc wrote:
zenten wrote:How does the non-jew approach God in Judaism?

The same exact way a Jew does. There are 613 commandments in the Torah (old testament) and doing any is considered a mitzvahs (a good deed). Doing Mitzvahs brings one closer to god. Basically, do good things and you'll be acting more like god. The Jew would be educated as to which deeds are considered good or not, that would be the only difference. Honestly though, most are vague anyway so whatever you define as "good deed" could be substituted in for "mitzvah" pretty directly. Another small difference is that jewish ritual (like observing the sabbath or studying the Torah) is considered one of these good deeds as well so I guess the non-Jew wouldn't do that.

To note, your reward for these good deeds is not eternal life in heaven, it's improving the world around you in the here and now. There's a Jewish concept called tshuvah. It literally means "return to god" (or there abouts) but it has a deeper meaning of social action. Basically, Jews believe that we are imperfect beings and, well, we break things in the world around us. Things are not as God intends. Through Mitzvahs (good deeds), we perform tshuvah. We fix the world, make it more what God intends. Jews are driven into social action to fix the world around them by this concept and through those actions, we strive to be closer to God. I hope that made some sense...
mosc wrote:-God is good
-We are created in God's image

These two simple statements imply to me that we are all capable of good deeds AND that we know "deep down" what that good and bad is. When you do good deeds, you are performing mitzvot (good deeds) and you are being a "good" Jew. Thus, if you are an atheist (or anything else for that matter) who does lots of good in the world, you are a "better" Jew to me than one who is more observant but does less. To quote Hillel "and if not now, when?" Actions speak louder than words. When you do good deeds, regardless of your motives, you are being "religious" to me because that's my context of faith. My book of faith, as I have pointed out before, can be summarized (again hillel) "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn." Re-iterance: Doing good in this world is religious.

I'll say my views on the Tanakh in general are very similar to Robin S. I don't interpret it literally. Again, I quote Hillel: "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn."
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Re: Religion

Postby eiaboca » Thu Oct 18, 2007 8:03 pm UTC

I somewhat agree with the first responder to the post; You could talk about religion for your entire lifetime and still not get through all of the angles.

That being said, I certainly have a lot of opinions, theories, and general speculations on the topic.

The only thing that prevents me from full atheism is the fact that there is so much we do not understand about the universe around us, and it is conceivable that there is something that exists which we cannot comprehend, at this time, or ever: a fourth or a million other dimensions, because we only have sensory equipment to pick up three, other ways of defining life, whatever other abilities or perceptions we may or may not evolve, who knows? We have such limited understanding of the world around us.

But on the other hand, as I live my life practically, day by day, interesting thought experiments do not make a belief in some paternalistic benefactor. Which is big-three centric, of course, but I was nominally raised as a Christian.

Religion is a tool of social control, and in society we need some sort of social control, at least to a certain extent. But religion messes it up in a lot of ways, with its rigidity and input from only a few sources, from several thousand years ago. Morality comes from genes, perhaps, and from social indoctrination. The social affects the biological, and the biological affects the social. It seems to be that way for almost every human institution. Power, science, technology, art, politics, philosophy.

And if religion is a tool of control, that is it affecting people, so in turn people must affect it somehow, and I believe they do that by using it as a balm. A trite thought, perhaps, but true in part at least. I know when I lie awake at night thinking about inevitable death I wish I could have some guarantee that my little spark of self awareness won't be completely shut off when I die. And people use it for the power it holds socially as well, making their neighborhoods and personal spheres conform to the way they want things to be. They've used it well in that respect, for countless generations, maybe for all of organized human life.

I've noticed that some on this thread have discussed what 'to do' about religion. Well, what is there to do about it? If religion were to disappear tomorrow in favor of, say, a universal scientific education, some other institution of power and morality would be right there to take its place. Which reminds me of the Richard Dawkins South Park episode.

We've made some pretty good strides as a species from shouting over a kill to at least a modicum of rationality, and I think that even the smallest steps are profound, if we're trying to jump away from how we've evolved as killers and fear mongerers. If we want to get rid of violent power structures and struggles, we probably will, someday. Probably not for millions of years though, if we don't kill ourselves, of course.

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Mecks
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Re: Religion

Postby Mecks » Thu Oct 18, 2007 8:05 pm UTC

Whatever Christopher Hitchens believes, I accept as certifiable fact.

I do this because I enjoy the taste of sweet, delicious irony. It's a really palpable, crunchy kind of irony that goes down with a diet coke, or any other analogy for nihilistic fizzy sodas. A little absurdism sauce on the undertop of the bun makes it juuuuuust right.
You can't sleep at night
You can't dream your dream
Your fingerprints on file
Left clumsily at the scene

Your own worst enemy has come to town...


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