The Politics of Religion (from the Science forum)

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The Politics of Religion (from the Science forum)

Postby OneFish » Tue Feb 26, 2008 10:31 pm UTC

Split from here.

SpitValve wrote:
Charlie! wrote:
jtniehof wrote:
Dobblesworth wrote:[Christian Scientist]

I do not think that means what you think it means.

Inconceivable!

And I'd assume him capitalizing both words implies that he's talking about the Christian Scientists who think that faith determines health, not the christian scientists who think that the scientific method is a good way of finding things out and also happen to believe that God exists and loves us.


Actually, I think he was talking about Creation Scientists. We have:

Christian scientists = Scientists who are Christian
Christian Scientists = A peripheral denomination of Christianity, who have an additional book to the Bible
Creation Scientists = People who try to prove creationism.

OneFish wrote:I think it's worse than pseudoscience, it's subversion of the language of science for political purposes. After all, isn't religion just an ancient political motif?


This is an assertion that doesn't ring true to me. It's basically just an excuse for saying religion is worthless. This is why you shouldn't try to learn history from the Da Vinci Code. Early Christianity had no particularly strong political message, nor did any of the other underground religions and cults that were starting up around that time (worship of Isis, Mithras etc). The entirety of the New Testament had been written well before the first Christian emperor, and some early canons (including the four gospels of the modern canons but not all of the letters) had also been proposed.


I'm not sure why you drag the Roman emperors into the discussion. It seems to me that apart from a few things that the human Jesus said about taking care of the weak and less fortunate and avoiding politics, the Christian religion has been all about politics ever since. I would maintain that it is fruitful semantically to separate what one man said from "religion". I call the whole enormous house of pain that has been built on the words of what was probably a pretty decent fellow "religion". It is my assertion that "religion" has always been political.

As a social phenomenon you may assign any value that you deem appropriate. I am of the opinion that the negatives far outweigh the positives though occasionally there probably are small, isolated pools of positive effects that go unpunished and unreversed.

As science, religion IS worthless. All the arguments that I see about evolution versus creationism fall squarely into the category of religious activism in the realm of politics. To repeat: the words of science spoken with the meaning of religion. The intent is not understanding, it is control. Politics not Science. Pure crap.
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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby 22/7 » Tue Feb 26, 2008 11:12 pm UTC

Just for shits and giggles,
OneFish wrote:I would maintain that it is fruitful semantically to separate what one man said from "religion".

Wikipedia wrote:Christianity is a monotheistic[1] religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recounted in the New Testament.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby SpitValve » Wed Feb 27, 2008 5:22 am UTC

OneFish wrote:I'm not sure why you drag the Roman emperors into the discussion. It seems to me that apart from a few things that the human Jesus said about taking care of the weak and less fortunate and avoiding politics, the Christian religion has been all about politics ever since. I would maintain that it is fruitful semantically to separate what one man said from "religion". I call the whole enormous house of pain that has been built on the words of what was probably a pretty decent fellow "religion". It is my assertion that "religion" has always been political.


Always? Everywhere? When Mother Theresa opened up an orphanage, was that politics? When a church holds a rally asking for people to accept Jesus into their lives and so on, where's the politics there? And like I said, Christianity didn't have a major political influence until a good little while after its conception.

OneFish wrote:As science, religion IS worthless.


And as a religion, science is worthless... in the same way that an apple isn't particularly good at being a pear...

OneFish wrote:All the arguments that I see about evolution versus creationism fall squarely into the category of religious activism in the realm of politics. To repeat: the words of science spoken with the meaning of religion. The intent is not understanding, it is control. Politics not Science. Pure crap.


Now I don't believe you're right here. What does attempting to prove one's beliefs using pseudoscience have to do with politics? There are some politicians, particularly in the US, who use religion in their political speech. There are also politicians who use science to e.g. argue about how we should fight global warming. Should we then make the assertion that all science is political? I mean, surely the race to the moon and the invention of atomic power was highly political?

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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Feb 27, 2008 6:26 pm UTC

Mother Theresa wasn't quite so saintly as you've probably been led to believe, what with having greater concern for raising money than for actually helping people.

That's getting to be a pretty off-topic tangent to this discussion, though.
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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby iop » Wed Feb 27, 2008 10:36 pm UTC

OneFish wrote:As a social phenomenon you may assign any value that you deem appropriate. I am of the opinion that the negatives far outweigh the positives though occasionally there probably are small, isolated pools of positive effects that go unpunished and unreversed.

The same attack can be made against almost any powerful organization. The US? If you normalize by number of years they've been around, and the number of people who are part of the organization, I'm fairly sure they would come out as worse than Christianity.

SpitValve wrote:And as a religion, science is worthless... in the same way that an apple isn't particularly good at being a pear...

I agree.

SpitValve wrote:Should we then make the assertion that all science is political?

I would say most of science is to some extent. Science can only be done where there is money, and wherever money is distributed there is politics. What and who is fashionable will be much more likely to get funded.

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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby The Reaper » Thu Feb 28, 2008 1:13 am UTC

iop wrote:
OneFish wrote:As a social phenomenon you may assign any value that you deem appropriate. I am of the opinion that the negatives far outweigh the positives though occasionally there probably are small, isolated pools of positive effects that go unpunished and unreversed.

The same attack can be made against almost any powerful organization. The US? If you normalize by number of years they've been around, and the number of people who are part of the organization, I'm fairly sure they would come out as worse than Christianity.


Oh, I beg to differ. I'm certain the Catholic Church has been the root cause of more death in its lifetime than the US.

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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby 22/7 » Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:41 am UTC

So you don't know the term "normalize"?
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby OneFish » Fri Feb 29, 2008 5:45 am UTC

SpitValve wrote:
OneFish wrote:As science, religion IS worthless.


And as a religion, science is worthless... in the same way that an apple isn't particularly good at being a pear...


I think you casually invert a statement and create something that is not supportable. Lacking rigorous definitions I'll have a quick shot at a qualitative description: if the goal of religion is to find some semblance of understanding of the bizarre trip that is life, then the ongoing process of increasing understanding that is science can serve that purpose perfectly. In spite of the uncertainty, the possibility that your dearest hypothesis might go down in flames any day, there is some comfort in the idea that you might understand more tomorrow than you do today and that your children may understand things you never even dreamed. Religion, characterized by its lack observation, inference and experimentation beyond a one-time fairy tale, simply cannot serve as science. The statement is not invertible unless you take the meaning to be as weak as the meaning that religion gives to the word truth.

SpitValve wrote:
OneFish wrote:All the arguments that I see about evolution versus creationism fall squarely into the category of religious activism in the realm of politics. To repeat: the words of science spoken with the meaning of religion. The intent is not understanding, it is control. Politics not Science. Pure crap.


Now I don't believe you're right here. What does attempting to prove one's beliefs using pseudoscience have to do with politics? There are some politicians, particularly in the US, who use religion in their political speech. There are also politicians who use science to e.g. argue about how we should fight global warming. Should we then make the assertion that all science is political? I mean, surely the race to the moon and the invention of atomic power was highly political?[/quote]

Politicians use religion in their speech to illicit that emotional feeling of trust in a gullible audience. I have seen many examples of persons of a religious bent trying to control and modify the curriculae in public schools to suit their religious view of the world. That is political activism. Their chosen technique is to attempt to cloak their dogma and their political aspirations in the language of rational thought. I have not once heard of any person or persons trying to forcibly change the teaching of creationism in a religious school to a course in evolutionary biology.

Now you tell me who is the aggressor, who is the political activist and who actually believes that the "do unto others" principle works for communities of humans? I am, by and large, a live and let live sort of guy but these fundamentalist fucknutz are intolerable. I do not wish them well.
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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby 22/7 » Fri Feb 29, 2008 7:49 am UTC

All of the 'this is how a religious zealot acted politically' stories in the world will not disprove the idea that 'not all religious acts are political.' In case you were curious.

OneFish wrote:I have not once heard of any person or persons trying to forcibly change the teaching of creationism in a religious school to a course in evolutionary biology.
And of course lack of proof is not proof of lack. Regardless, however, that's not the point. Again, it's not a matter of religious nuts meddling in secular life or secular nuts meddling in religious life.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby SpitValve » Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:21 pm UTC

OneFish wrote:
SpitValve wrote:
OneFish wrote:As science, religion IS worthless.


And as a religion, science is worthless... in the same way that an apple isn't particularly good at being a pear...


I think you casually invert a statement and create something that is not supportable. Lacking rigorous definitions I'll have a quick shot at a qualitative description: if the goal of religion is to find some semblance of understanding of the bizarre trip that is life, then the ongoing process of increasing understanding that is science can serve that purpose perfectly. In spite of the uncertainty, the possibility that your dearest hypothesis might go down in flames any day, there is some comfort in the idea that you might understand more tomorrow than you do today and that your children may understand things you never even dreamed. Religion, characterized by its lack observation, inference and experimentation beyond a one-time fairy tale, simply cannot serve as science. The statement is not invertible unless you take the meaning to be as weak as the meaning that religion gives to the word truth.


Science and religion give you different kinds of information. Nowhere does science say that you should give money to the poor. Nowhere does religion say how to use cosmological redshift to calculate the the distance to objects. Science may predict the consequences of giving money to the poor, and religion may have an opinion on your integrity when reporting results about redshift, but that is different.

The problem is when people get them confused: the Bible does not really have a strong emphasis on creationism. It was never intended to be a scientific book. It seems far more likely to me that the creation story is written against the idea that the world was created by several gods, that the sun and moon were gods, and that it was created in a time a dispute in the gods, as was the case in some other religions in the area. It emphasises that one God made the world, and that e.g. the sun and moon are created things, not gods, and that it was all made according to plan. It makes far more sense as a theological statement than a scientific one because "science" as we know it did not really exist at the time.

OneFish wrote:
SpitValve wrote:
OneFish wrote:All the arguments that I see about evolution versus creationism fall squarely into the category of religious activism in the realm of politics. To repeat: the words of science spoken with the meaning of religion. The intent is not understanding, it is control. Politics not Science. Pure crap.


Now I don't believe you're right here. What does attempting to prove one's beliefs using pseudoscience have to do with politics? There are some politicians, particularly in the US, who use religion in their political speech. There are also politicians who use science to e.g. argue about how we should fight global warming. Should we then make the assertion that all science is political? I mean, surely the race to the moon and the invention of atomic power was highly political?


Politicians use religion in their speech to illicit that emotional feeling of trust in a gullible audience. I have seen many examples of persons of a religious bent trying to control and modify the curriculae in public schools to suit their religious view of the world. That is political activism. Their chosen technique is to attempt to cloak their dogma and their political aspirations in the language of rational thought. I have not once heard of any person or persons trying to forcibly change the teaching of creationism in a religious school to a course in evolutionary biology.[/quote]

I have heard far far more bashing of creationism than the other way around, being both a Christian and an astronomer. Also, remember that literal 7-day creationism is not at all a universal dogma amongst Christians. But it's interesting what you say about cloaking in "rational thought" - that only really applies to creation science as far as I can see. The rest of the time, I imagine it would be a more emotive argument.

But like 22/7 said, giving a few examples when religion has been used politically does not prove that religion is always a political thing. Most of the churches I've seen in both New Zealand and Canada choose intentionally to not advocate any particular political party. There are exceptions, but there is certainly a large group that is not directly political.

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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby 22/7 » Fri Feb 29, 2008 5:21 pm UTC

SpitValve wrote:I have heard far far more bashing of creationism than the other way around, being both a Christian and an astronomer. Also, remember that literal 7-day creationism is not at all a universal dogma amongst Christians. But it's interesting what you say about cloaking in "rational thought" - that only really applies to creation science as far as I can see. The rest of the time, I imagine it would be a more emotive argument.
Hell, Creationism isn't even a universal dogma amongst all Christians.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby Mathmagic » Fri Feb 29, 2008 5:35 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:
SpitValve wrote:I have heard far far more bashing of creationism than the other way around, being both a Christian and an astronomer. Also, remember that literal 7-day creationism is not at all a universal dogma amongst Christians. But it's interesting what you say about cloaking in "rational thought" - that only really applies to creation science as far as I can see. The rest of the time, I imagine it would be a more emotive argument.
Hell, Creationism isn't even a universal dogma amongst all Christians.

I've been battling with this idea myself recently; rationalizing evolutionism with Christianity. I decided that evolution does not have to compromise faith.
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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby 22/7 » Fri Feb 29, 2008 8:36 pm UTC

Some people use ID as a sort of "compromise" between the two. To be honest, I just don't worry about it. I accept the fact that the Bible was written by humans and, at the beginning of whatever, people had creation myths/stories that were wildly inaccurate, and that's ok. I don't honestly know why it's such a hang up for people, but I was raised with a very symbolic/metaphorical interpretation of the Bible (that is, itself, open to interpretation), so your mileage may vary.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Sat Mar 01, 2008 2:11 am UTC

mathmagic wrote:
22/7 wrote:
SpitValve wrote:I have heard far far more bashing of creationism than the other way around, being both a Christian and an astronomer. Also, remember that literal 7-day creationism is not at all a universal dogma amongst Christians. But it's interesting what you say about cloaking in "rational thought" - that only really applies to creation science as far as I can see. The rest of the time, I imagine it would be a more emotive argument.
Hell, Creationism isn't even a universal dogma amongst all Christians.

I've been battling with this idea myself recently; rationalizing evolutionism with Christianity. I decided that evolution does not have to compromise faith.


Were I a theist, I'd hold the position that my god had created the universe in such a way that it would do what he wanted it to on its own. I.E, if he wants intelligent life to develop, he makes a universe where it's possible and lets it sort itself out.
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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby Mathmagic » Sat Mar 01, 2008 6:09 am UTC

Sir_Elderberry wrote:
mathmagic wrote:I've been battling with this idea myself recently; rationalizing evolutionism with Christianity. I decided that evolution does not have to compromise faith.


Were I a theist, I'd hold the position that my god had created the universe in such a way that it would do what he wanted it to on its own. I.E, if he wants intelligent life to develop, he makes a universe where it's possible and lets it sort itself out.

That's kind of what I was thinking, but then there's the issue of the "soul", and where that came into play. The "soul" is a very central theme of the Bible, and one has to wonder when it "started" in the evolutionary chain of the homo sapiens.
22/7 wrote:I was raised with a very symbolic/metaphorical interpretation of the Bible (that is, itself, open to interpretation), so your mileage may vary.

This is (as you know) a huge source of controversy within the Church. I myself take this stance as well, viewing the Bible as a book of stories, poetry, song, and occasionally, personal recounts of actual events. These personal recounts were open to interpretation to begin with, so there's no reason why they shouldn't be taken with a grain of salt.
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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby 22/7 » Mon Mar 03, 2008 3:27 am UTC

mathmagic wrote:
22/7 wrote:I was raised with a very symbolic/metaphorical interpretation of the Bible (that is, itself, open to interpretation), so your mileage may vary.

This is (as you know) a huge source of controversy within the Church. I myself take this stance as well, viewing the Bible as a book of stories, poetry, song, and occasionally, personal recounts of actual events. These personal recounts were open to interpretation to begin with, so there's no reason why they shouldn't be taken with a grain of salt.

One of the things that always killed me about literal interpretations of the Bible was that, you (being the literal interpreter) have no problem with the Son of God using stories, parables, etc. to illustrate both the nature of God and Heaven and how we should be living our lives, but you cannot see the book that he would supposedly inspire a great deal of humans to write would be full of such stories and parables? I mean, you don't need the story of the prodigal son to be true to learn from it, right?
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby Mathmagic » Mon Mar 03, 2008 4:18 am UTC

22/7 wrote:
mathmagic wrote:
22/7 wrote:I was raised with a very symbolic/metaphorical interpretation of the Bible (that is, itself, open to interpretation), so your mileage may vary.

This is (as you know) a huge source of controversy within the Church. I myself take this stance as well, viewing the Bible as a book of stories, poetry, song, and occasionally, personal recounts of actual events. These personal recounts were open to interpretation to begin with, so there's no reason why they shouldn't be taken with a grain of salt.

One of the things that always killed me about literal interpretations of the Bible was that, you (being the literal interpreter) have no problem with the Son of God using stories, parables, etc. to illustrate both the nature of God and Heaven and how we should be living our lives, but you cannot see the book that he would supposedly inspire a great deal of humans to write would be full of such stories and parables? I mean, you don't need the story of the prodigal son to be true to learn from it, right?

In the same vein, you can make the argument that you don't even need the "Jesus" figure to be true to learn from it either. Jesus was supposed to be the definition of love and selflessness and all that we should strive to be. This man supposedly did miracles and gave countless sermons to the masses, and these events are recorded in the Bible. In reality, none of us know for sure whether these things actually happened, and I suppose that's where the Christian faith comes in.
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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby SpitValve » Mon Mar 03, 2008 4:59 pm UTC

mathmagic wrote:In the same vein, you can make the argument that you don't even need the "Jesus" figure to be true to learn from it either. Jesus was supposed to be the definition of love and selflessness and all that we should strive to be. This man supposedly did miracles and gave countless sermons to the masses, and these events are recorded in the Bible. In reality, none of us know for sure whether these things actually happened, and I suppose that's where the Christian faith comes in.


There's a difference there though: if Jesus' death is what brings about salvation, how does that work if he only metaphorically died?

Also, I don't think the existence of Jesus is generally debated, but the accuracy of the portrayal of him in the gospels (both in and not in the Bible) is.

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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby 22/7 » Mon Mar 03, 2008 6:02 pm UTC

Agreed. Though I didn't realize that his existence wasn't questioned.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby iop » Mon Mar 03, 2008 6:35 pm UTC

SpitValve wrote:There's a difference there though: if Jesus' death is what brings about salvation, how does that work if he only metaphorically died?

It's death and resurrection that brings about salvation. Existence, death and resurrection of Jesus are the very core Christian dogmas, though I am not aware that Jesus' existence is really questioned.

I think it was in the 1960's in Germany that Catholic scholars tried to get at the "true Jesus" through careful analysis of the synoptic (all but John) gospels. Until we have time travel, we will never know whether they succeeded or not, but their premise, i.e. that there are passages in the Bible that were added later, is not questioned except by Bible literalists (that is true for both the new and the old testament - the books of Moses are most likely the work of multiple authors, for example). Also, the gospels weren't just neutral eyewitness accounts, but they were compilations with at least one goal: make a convincing story to convert people. They also very much reflect the time at which they were written. John, for example, is an argument against gnosticism, and it attacks the Jews much more harshly than the other gospels due to the persecution.

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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby Mathmagic » Mon Mar 03, 2008 7:15 pm UTC

SpitValve wrote:Also, I don't think the existence of Jesus is generally debated, but the accuracy of the portrayal of him in the gospels (both in and not in the Bible) is.

Sure it is. If someone doesn't believe that the Bible really *is* the "word of God" and that the fallibility of humans has an adverse effect on the convincingness of the Bible, who's to say that Jesus couldn't have been a fictitious figure that was created to portray what is "ideal" and how all humans should try to mimic the actions of this figure and live by his teachings. There's no debate over whether the teachings and actions of this character called Jesus were valuable and/or effective life lessons; it's the issue of whether these actions actually occurred, and if the recounts of Jesus were merely elaborately fabricated stories.
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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby SpitValve » Mon Mar 03, 2008 7:35 pm UTC

mathmagic wrote:
SpitValve wrote:Also, I don't think the existence of Jesus is generally debated, but the accuracy of the portrayal of him in the gospels (both in and not in the Bible) is.

Sure it is. If someone doesn't believe that the Bible really *is* the "word of God" and that the fallibility of humans has an adverse effect on the convincingness of the Bible, who's to say that Jesus couldn't have been a fictitious figure that was created to portray what is "ideal" and how all humans should try to mimic the actions of this figure and live by his teachings. There's no debate over whether the teachings and actions of this character called Jesus were valuable and/or effective life lessons; it's the issue of whether these actions actually occurred, and if the recounts of Jesus were merely elaborately fabricated stories.


A completely fictional Jesus doesn't make much sense really. You could argue a historical Jesus that has had inaccurate mythology grow up around him, but saying that the writers of the gospels just made him up isn't very convincing. It seems odd to have historical detail (e.g. the governor during Jesus' birth) and large narrative chunks (particularly the crucifixion) if it wasn't at least based on a real person. Anyway, wouldn't it be easier to deify John the Baptist, or some zealot instead of making up an entirely new character?

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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby Mathmagic » Mon Mar 03, 2008 7:59 pm UTC

SpitValve wrote:A completely fictional Jesus doesn't make much sense really. You could argue a historical Jesus that has had inaccurate mythology grow up around him, but saying that the writers of the gospels just made him up isn't very convincing. It seems odd to have historical detail (e.g. the governor during Jesus' birth) and large narrative chunks (particularly the crucifixion) if it wasn't at least based on a real person. Anyway, wouldn't it be easier to deify John the Baptist, or some zealot instead of making up an entirely new character?

Which is exactly why I think it's absurd to collaboratively make up a character. There are, however, those who think that Jesus didn't exist; their reasoning behind this is specific to each person.
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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby SpitValve » Mon Mar 03, 2008 9:13 pm UTC

genewitch wrote:Carbon dating. Although christian apologetics state that we can't possibly know the halflife of a carbon atom since we haven't been able to measure it long enough to determine if that value is correct.

also http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/ is a decent guide to the bible. I've seen others try and do something like this (to varying degrees of success), but this one seems to be the most complete. Mind you, i notice things when reading through it that should be in there, that aren't. But still, it's a good read if you want to get your bible reading in.


I've read some of that... there's plenty of nitpicking (e.g. different books say people arrived at the tomb in a different order... oh noes!). There's also some bits which are just plain stupid, e.g. This bit:

Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.


Firstly, I'm not sure why they're using the King James translation instead of a modern translation... perhaps they think it makes it sound sillier? Anyway, they have a comment about how it appears that Jesus is advocating self-mutilation... which is just plain stupid. I think it's pretty obvious he's using a bit of a hyperbola here.

Overall, the whole site has a kind of offensive, mocking tone... there's a difference between being a skeptical cynic and having a balanced, informed point of view on something... some of it reads like the crank websites that try to explain how stupid and contradictory "0.999...=1" or "-1*-1=1" is...

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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby Mathmagic » Mon Mar 03, 2008 9:46 pm UTC

SpitValve: Based on your impression of the arguments/conclusions made in the linked site, it sounds a lot like the arguments that Richard Dawkins and others use to show that the Bible (and Christianity in general) is contradictory and illogical/unreasonable.
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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby iop » Mon Mar 03, 2008 11:37 pm UTC

SpitValve wrote:Overall, the whole site has a kind of offensive, mocking tone... there's a difference between being a skeptical cynic and having a balanced, informed point of view on something... some of it reads like the crank websites that try to explain how stupid and contradictory "0.999...=1" or "-1*-1=1" is...

I agree. When I first noticed the site, I hoped to be able to learn something interesting about the Bible. However, whenever they come upon something they feel is strange, they go "Ha! Yet another point were the Bible is totally absurd!", and they leave it at that. This may be entertaining, but I prefer educated criticism.

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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby Spuddly » Tue Mar 04, 2008 12:53 am UTC

OneFish wrote:After all, isn't religion just an ancient political motif?


Definitely. The entirety of the old testament, for instance. Or what the Catholics did with Christianity. Or the Lutherans or Anglicans. Luther had support from German princes who felt left out of Catholic affairs; King Henry VIII wanted to get a divorce, the Pope said no, and he started a splinter faith.
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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby 22/7 » Tue Mar 04, 2008 2:21 am UTC

Just so we're being fair here, you've got a king who was *gasp* self-centered and wanted his own way. Luther having support is not the same thing as "Luther started his reformation for political reasons." And you've offered no support for "the entire old testament" or "what the Catholics did with Christianity". Care to offer something more than
1. "this one king once was self-centered"
2. ????
3. all religion is political
? Just curious.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby Spuddly » Tue Mar 04, 2008 3:21 am UTC

22/7 wrote:Just so we're being fair here, you've got a king who was *gasp* self-centered and wanted his own way.

Luther having support is not the same thing as "Luther started his reformation for political reasons." And you've offered no support for "the entire old testament" or "what the Catholics did with Christianity". Care to offer something more than
1. "this one king once was self-centered"
2. ????
3. all religion is political
? Just curious.[/quote]

Maybe we should define religion and politics before we go on with this? It may save some time.

Anyway, some points I'd like to address:

22/7 wrote:Just so we're being fair here, you've got a king who was *gasp* self-centered and wanted his own way.

He wanted an heir. So he made a new religion. That people are still in, and still pray to god through. That's a pretty clear contemporary case of religion being used to serve a political agenda.

Luther having support is not the same thing as "Luther started his reformation for political reasons."

That's good, because I didn't write that.

And you've offered no support for "the entire old testament"

What I wrote was "the entirety of the old testament". There's a difference. You imply that every story in their serves a political one, independent of the whole. Clearly, they don't. But the structure of the old testament, the pieces put it in, the pieces left out, the way they're put together, suggests a political motive. It's been awhile since I've done anything biblical, but the story, as modern scholars (some? most? I dunno, it's not my field) see it, goes like this:

Multiple authors, in antiquity, wrote down stories. You see the multiple authors in the apparent contradictions in Genesis especially (number of animals on the ark, order of creation, etc). Through out the old testament you also see ancient middle eastern references (especially with similaritis to the Enûma Elish) to deities that were later expunged from Israelite religion: Leviathan... uh, chaos dragons, orcs.... Well, Leviathan's one of them. Primordial deities of disorder that YHWH slew and forged order from. They were later removed from creation mythology while in exile- Tiamat was a Babylonian deity, and in order to show how much better YWHW was than everyone, the Jews just made him Lord Creator Forever. A political shift towards Monotheism (as opposed to the sort of "well there may be other Gods out there, but were sticking with the one who created the universe," we see in the Pentateuch; esp. Joshua [alright, Hexateuch]) to keep the Israelites as one people.

Judges and Kings also lay down the rules of the land, and that if any Israelites want to have prosperity, they must live by them. And they must make everyone else live by them, or they'll bring ruin on the whole kingdom. This is also the major point of Isaiah. In Deuteronomy (I think that's the book) the structure of prayer is very similar to the structure Israelites entered vassalage with their powerful neighbors.

As for the Catholic Church, well, if you can't see the hugely successful political racket they ran for a thousand years, you're probably a Catholic.
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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Tue Mar 04, 2008 3:32 am UTC

SpitValve wrote:Firstly, I'm not sure why they're using the King James translation instead of a modern translation... perhaps they think it makes it sound sillier?


I don't debate religion (because both sides have Argument-Proof Shields. Nobody gets converted over the internet. The fact that my logic and reason have led me to atheism implies nothing about what yours might, as you have different experiences and a different mind. It's quite possible I'm wrong, but it's quite impossible for me to conceive of it at the moment.) but I will pop in here for a moment to be fair: they use the KJV because it's public domain. NIV requires permission to use.

That said, yeah, I've always though SAB was a bit nitpicky. Too much of the atheist community is overly militant, when it really shouldn't be. Atheists should be concerned with preserving separation of church and state...and that's pretty much it. Trying to force others to see things our way is just as bad, in my view, as a Christian trying to convince me I'll burn in hell if I don't change my opinion.
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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby 22/7 » Tue Mar 04, 2008 6:04 am UTC

Spuddly wrote:Maybe we should define religion and politics before we go on with this? It may save some time.
And your definitions would be...
Spuddly wrote:Anyway, some points I'd like to address:
22/7 wrote:Just so we're being fair here, you've got a king who was *gasp* self-centered and wanted his own way.
He wanted an heir. So he made a new religion. That people are still in, and still pray to god through. That's a pretty clear contemporary case of religion being used to serve a political agenda.
The fact that people currently worship under it is irrelevant. The reason it exists is because he was self-centered and wanted his own way (or an heir, which is the same damn thing, don't try to confuse the topic by correcting "his own way" with "an heir") and the reason it stuck was because he was king, which, incidentally, is the same reason that it got off the ground in the first place. You see, when you're a king, anything you say, goes. That's not a political decision, that's a spoiled 8 year old with a temper saying "you're not my real daddy" to the Pope. Yes, it had political ramifications, as do most decisions made by people with practically unlimited power over large populations. No, I don't consider that a "purely political decision."
Spuddly wrote:
Luther having support is not the same thing as "Luther started his reformation for political reasons."
That's good, because I didn't write that.
What you did write:
OneFish wrote:After all, isn't religion just an ancient political motif?
Spuddly wrote:Definitely. The entirety of the old testament, for instance. Or what the Catholics did with Christianity. Or the Lutherans or Anglicans. Luther had support from German princes who felt left out of Catholic affairs; King Henry VIII wanted to get a divorce, the Pope said no, and he started a splinter faith.

So you used it in a list of "religion = political motif", but it's not a "religion = political motif"? I would love to know how, exactly.
Spuddly wrote:
And you've offered no support for "the entire old testament"

What I wrote was "the entirety of the old testament". There's a difference.
No, there isn't. One is an adjective, the other a noun.
Dictionary.com wrote:entirety:
1. the state of being entire; completeness
2. something that is entire; the whole
Spuddly wrote:You imply that every story in their serves a political one, independent of the whole. Clearly, they don't.
I didn't imply anything. You said that the (I'll use the correct form of the exact same word this time) entirety of the Old Testament was political, and I asked for some kind of clarification.
Spuddly wrote:But the structure of the old testament, the pieces put it in, the pieces left out, the way they're put together, suggests a political motive. It's been awhile since I've done anything biblical, but the story, as modern scholars (some? most? I dunno, it's not my field) see it, goes like this:
Multiple authors, in antiquity, wrote down stories. You see the multiple authors in the apparent contradictions in Genesis especially (number of animals on the ark, order of creation, etc). Through out the old testament you also see ancient middle eastern references (especially with similaritis to the Enûma Elish) to deities that were later expunged from Israelite religion: Leviathan... uh, chaos dragons, orcs.... Well, Leviathan's one of them. Primordial deities of disorder that YHWH slew and forged order from. They were later removed from creation mythology while in exile- Tiamat was a Babylonian deity, and in order to show how much better YWHW was than everyone, the Jews just made him Lord Creator Forever. A political shift towards Monotheism (as opposed to the sort of "well there may be other Gods out there, but were sticking with the one who created the universe," we see in the Pentateuch; esp. Joshua [alright, Hexateuch]) to keep the Israelites as one people.
Judges and Kings also lay down the rules of the land, and that if any Israelites want to have prosperity, they must live by them. And they must make everyone else live by them, or they'll bring ruin on the whole kingdom. This is also the major point of Isaiah. In Deuteronomy (I think that's the book) the structure of prayer is very similar to the structure Israelites entered vassalage with their powerful neighbors.
You'll have to give me something specific here, since I'm not all that well-versed on my OT at the moment (it's been awhile since I've done any study at all, actually).
Spuddly wrote:As for the Catholic Church, well, if you can't see the hugely successful political racket they ran for a thousand years, you're probably a Catholic.
Before we go off the deep end here, I'm not Catholic, and I didn't say that I couldn't see the Catholic church making money. What I did say, and then watched you dance around by applying a "you're clearly too close to the problem to see it" sort of logic, was that you never provided any evidence to support your theory that the Catholic church is and always has been a political entity.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby Spuddly » Tue Mar 04, 2008 8:14 am UTC

22/7 wrote:The fact that people currently worship under it is irrelevant. The reason it exists is because he was self-centered and wanted his own way (or an heir, which is the same damn thing, don't try to confuse the topic by correcting "his own way" with "an heir") and the reason it stuck was because he was king, which, incidentally, is the same reason that it got off the ground in the first place. You see, when you're a king, anything you say, goes. That's not a political decision, that's a spoiled 8 year old with a temper saying "you're not my real daddy" to the Pope. Yes, it had political ramifications, as do most decisions made by people with practically unlimited power over large populations. No, I don't consider that a "purely political decision."


That doesn't change the fact that he manipulated religion to get what he wanted. Religion as politics, politics as religion. He could just do it a more bluntly than most. Then what of all the kings of antiquity who declared their right to rule was from God? The Egyptians did, the Sumerians, everyone. The head of state was often merged with the head of the religious order.

So you used it in a list of "religion = political motif", but it's not a "religion = political motif"? I would love to know how, exactly.
And you've offered no support for "the entire old testament"


Perhaps not the best of examples, but certainly a fair one. Without the support of German royalty, Luther would have had a more difficult time with his reforms. He may have even had it as rough as Müntzer, who led the ill fated Peasants' War, a political and religious movement. Müntzer was defeated, captured, tortured, converted back to Catholicism, and beheaded.

Though, to return to the divine right of kings- an ancient practice of uniting the political with the religious. Christian mythology is full of this, though originally, it was for Jesus to break away from the state dominated religion (church as central bank? King Solomon penning a few books of the bible? pretty political, yes?) and remind everyone who the real king was- God. Not earthly kings, no, they were no more divine than bad metaphors and mustard seeds. Christ took a very modern step forward in divorcing the divine and the earthly, separating the hear and now from heavenly reward. Who will inherent the earth? The meek. Who are blessed? The poor. This was extremely antithetical to the predominate view in Judaism that adherence to God's will would result in reward in this life time. Just about any of the Prophets you want to read will be expounding on the theme of YWHW worship rewards now (and, if you stray from Him, you die, miserably), or how Israel is a treacherous whore who forsakes God and will be crushed by foreign enemies. There's some really colorful language in there. Definitely some of my favorite biblical literature comes from that period. I think it's only second to Revelations.

Rome also had a dedicated state religion, where they took to deifying their emperors. The emperor would then lead the state in religious ceremonies. Religious functions were largely an extension of the state. Religion, for them, had little mysticism. It was formulaic, codified and put down in books, just like their laws. If I'm remembering my Roman Civ right, the state would license priests. It's probably why the cult of Osiris was so popular, as well as other mystic, eastern cults, like Christianity or Mithra. Religion had become mundane and political. In Rome, the state had a religion, and that religion was to serve the state.

No, there isn't. One is an adjective, the other a noun.
Dictionary.com wrote:entirety:
1. the state of being entire; completeness
2. something that is entire; the whole
Spuddly wrote:You imply that every story in their serves a political one, independent of the whole. Clearly, they don't.
I didn't imply anything. You said that the (I'll use the correct form of the exact same word this time) entirety of the Old Testament was political, and I asked for some kind of clarification.


I thought you were. You weren't. Apologies.

You'll have to give me something specific here, since I'm not all that well-versed on my OT at the moment (it's been awhile since I've done any study at all, actually).


Like verse and chapter? That is way more than I'm willing to put into this. Do you think I could link you to relevant wiki pages?

Before we go off the deep end here, I'm not Catholic, and I didn't say that I couldn't see the Catholic church making money. What I did say, and then watched you dance around by applying a "you're clearly too close to the problem to see it" sort of logic, was that you never provided any evidence to support your theory that the Catholic church is and always has been a political entity.
[/quote][/quote]

It has its own city-state. Not every religion gets one of those, with a spot in the UN and everything (can't vote, though, since it was ruled that the Holy See wasn't enough of a country to count).
For something like 1300 years, it had some control over everything that happened in Europe, from a little bit, to almost total. And I'm getting logged off.

Sorry. Here's a wiki page (hah) about it
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Cath ... uthorities
It's not a very convicing link.

Why do you think the Catholic Church isn't political?
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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby 22/7 » Tue Mar 04, 2008 8:54 am UTC

First of all, please fix those broken quotes so I can respond. Secondly, again, I made no statement as to the nature of the Catholic church and its politics/lack thereof. You made a statement, which I was asking you to support. Those, unlike "entire" and "entirety", are not the same thing.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: The Politics of Religion (from the Science forum)

Postby The Reaper » Tue Mar 04, 2008 8:23 pm UTC

Zoroastrianism for the win? Can't go wrong with the first monotheistic religion, specially if it's still around. Oh, and I'm talking about the older form, not the newer form, which is partially based off current religions. Wikipedia it, you'll see what I mean.

As for the whole Catholic issue, the splinter cells may (or may not) have been political, but as soon as they were reinforced by the crown, thats all they became. Hence why england is mostly protestant, why until just recently the catholics and protestants in Ireland were duking it out, etc, why muslim countries have laws about what women can wear and do in public, and why Egypt is commonly not thought of as a Muslim country anymore (its laws aren't based entirely off religion, as much as economy and sociology) [that last bit was something that was brought up in my politics class, when i reffered to various countries as muslim countries. I was also cut off before I could respond about egypt. very irksome.]

Regardless, while religions may start out as good intentions, the road to hell is paved with it.


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Re: The Politics of Religion (from the Science forum)

Postby daydalus » Tue Mar 04, 2008 8:45 pm UTC

Do you realize we already have multiple threads with the very same exact discussion going on?

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Re: The Politics of Religion (from the Science forum)

Postby 22/7 » Tue Mar 04, 2008 10:02 pm UTC

The Reaper wrote:As for the whole Catholic issue, the splinter cells may (or may not) have been political, but as soon as they were reinforced by the crown, thats all they became. Hence why england is mostly protestant, why until just recently the catholics and protestants in Ireland were duking it out, etc, why muslim countries have laws about what women can wear and do in public, and why Egypt is commonly not thought of as a Muslim country anymore (its laws aren't based entirely off religion, as much as economy and sociology) [that last bit was something that was brought up in my politics class, when i reffered to various countries as muslim countries. I was also cut off before I could respond about egypt. very irksome.]
This I really can't disagree with. The Catholic church has been, time and time again, used politically. However, to say that all religion is basically an attempt at gaining political power (or even simply political in nature) is, I'm sorry, flat out wrong. I thought that SpitValve and I had been over this already, but whatever.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: The Politics of Religion (from the Science forum)

Postby The Reaper » Wed Mar 05, 2008 7:04 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:
The Reaper wrote:As for the whole Catholic issue, the splinter cells may (or may not) have been political, but as soon as they were reinforced by the crown, thats all they became. Hence why england is mostly protestant, why until just recently the catholics and protestants in Ireland were duking it out, etc, why muslim countries have laws about what women can wear and do in public, and why Egypt is commonly not thought of as a Muslim country anymore (its laws aren't based entirely off religion, as much as economy and sociology) [that last bit was something that was brought up in my politics class, when i reffered to various countries as muslim countries. I was also cut off before I could respond about egypt. very irksome.]
This I really can't disagree with. The Catholic church has been, time and time again, used politically. However, to say that all religion is basically an attempt at gaining political power (or even simply political in nature) is, I'm sorry, flat out wrong. I thought that SpitValve and I had been over this already, but whatever.

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Re: The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

Postby Ari » Fri Mar 07, 2008 5:02 am UTC

mathmagic wrote:I've been battling with this idea myself recently; rationalizing evolutionism with Christianity. I decided that evolution does not have to compromise faith.


Isn't God designing a concept as self-policing and cool as evolution just as fascinating as God coming up with all those creatures a priori?

The only difference is that if God simply created evolution and the rules of cosmology and then sat back and rested, He could actually have conceivably created the universe in six days ;)

Sir_Elderberry wrote:Were I a theist, I'd hold the position that my god had created the universe in such a way that it would do what he wanted it to on its own. I.E, if he wants intelligent life to develop, he makes a universe where it's possible and lets it sort itself out.


That would probably incline you to be more of a Deist than a Theist, but yeah.

mathmagic wrote:That's kind of what I was thinking, but then there's the issue of the "soul", and where that came into play. The "soul" is a very central theme of the Bible, and one has to wonder when it "started" in the evolutionary chain of the homo sapiens.


Well, it's easy enough to imagine that there's some supernatural unexplained element that emerges from either life or sentient life. It could even by that our patterns of thought and feelings can persist in some sense after death.

There are plenty of explanations for souls that don't depend on, say, our ancestor being literally constructed from a rib. :) It could even be that "soul" is a term for that state of the mind.

mathmagic wrote:
22/7 wrote:I was raised with a very symbolic/metaphorical interpretation of the Bible (that is, itself, open to interpretation), so your mileage may vary.

This is (as you know) a huge source of controversy within the Church. I myself take this stance as well, viewing the Bible as a book of stories, poetry, song, and occasionally, personal recounts of actual events. These personal recounts were open to interpretation to begin with, so there's no reason why they shouldn't be taken with a grain of salt.


*nod* Even if they were true word-for-word, there'd be the issue of loss of meaning in translation and/or ambiguity of some words anyway. You can't remove interpretation from the Bible altogether, no matter what you do, so it seems to me the most logical approach is to embrace it.
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