Religion: The Deuce

For the serious discussion of weighty matters and worldly issues. No off-topic posts allowed.

Moderators: Azrael, Moderators General, Prelates

Greyarcher
Posts: 708
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 3:03 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Greyarcher » Fri Dec 17, 2010 6:24 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:i really need to start learning how to be eloquent and actually get my point across...

that's the root of most of my issues. the fact that to get a "good" moral education out of religion, you have to take/accept the "bad" history lessons that come with it.
If that came across as eloquent, I got lucky. :wink: It's definitely tough to keep focus and communicate the heart of your message to the other people, because religion is such a broad topic and we often start from such different views. We say one thing and suddenly we're arguing five different points. :D

I think I know what you mean about morality and religion though. Religion has good and bad effects. And it's important to be aware of them but, as I see it, they're not major reasons to believe or disbelieve. If it's reasonable to hold religion's key historical beliefs, then people just have to work at countering the bad effects; if it's unreasonable, then people have to work out a non-theistic morality and world view, and do their best without religion.

Maybe, without religion, we'd have a lot more people trying to refine how to best teach children morality? Maybe we'd even end up with some secular moral schools, almost like a church, teaching history, fostering camaraderie, and trying to cultivate values. I don't know.

But since I'm not yet certain that religion's key beliefs are reasonable, I'm not too concerned about how well religion teaches morality. I'm trying to keep my focus small so it's easier for the discussion to progress.
In serious discussion, I usually strive to post with clarity, thoroughness, and precision so that others will not misunderstand; I strive for dispassion and an open mind, the better to avoid error.

DSenette
Posts: 2418
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:08 pm UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DSenette » Fri Dec 17, 2010 6:31 pm UTC

Greyarcher wrote:Maybe, without religion, we'd have a lot more people trying to refine how to best teach children morality? Maybe we'd even end up with some secular moral schools, almost like a church, teaching history, fostering camaraderie, and trying to cultivate values. I don't know.

http://parentingbeyondbelief.com/blog/ read that blog a bit...

And perhaps a read through the SB rules of your own would be in order? Specifically #12.

- Az
The Righteous Hand Of Retribution
"The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place." ~Andre Codresu (re: "the Rapture")

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Fri Dec 17, 2010 11:45 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:majority christians may not be "more hateful" than anyone else, but their hate is a bit more dangerous than say, a white supremacists hate. Most people can look at a white supremacist and say "well that guy's just a dick"....but people who hate because of their religion (especially when the majority shares that religion) attempt to use their faith as a free pass. so while they may not be hating "more", typically they're hating more effectively within the construct of their local society.

I don't buy this at all. White supremacist hate is weak because they have no political support and little popular support. It has nothing to do with how people conjure up excuses. It's not "Hate+Faith=BAD", it's "Hate+Power=BAD". In other words, religion shows up in the equation because it's powerful, not because it promotes faith. And we can know this because atheist regimes can be pretty awful as well. Religion is powerful, and that power can do some very bad stuff. That's why it's such a good idea to separate religion from government. But when wielded in better ways, that power does tremendous good.

Also, I find it interesting you inserted an example of anti-gay marriage in them middle of discussing hate, as if it's clear to everyone that hate is what is fueling the movement. This is a common perspective as seen in the "Stop H8" campaign, but I think it's misguided and seeks to paint the opponent unfairly as bad people, which in turn ironically helps foster hate against them. (For anyone that wants to dispute that, I will point you to a thread where I spent a great deal of time and energy making this case. And you can see the shit storm it created, so I don't want to open that can of worms here. I'm just making a passing comment to voice my objection.)

Mapar wrote:Guenther, you stated that 'most Christians do not read [the Bible] that way', in reaction to the literal meaning posted above.

In response to the out-of-context literal meaning. But in context, I think it literally reads quite different. There are areas of the Bible where reading literally is problematic (i.e. six days of creation), but I don't believe this is one of them.

And I'm not sure why you don't believe morals come from religion? What do you make of moral stances like anti-homosexuality, anti-abortion, pro-abstinence if people aren't getting this stuff from the Bible?

And Fred Phelps' has made a name for himself not because he's a literalist. It's that he walks around with signs like "God hates fags" at funerals. A literal reading of the Bible doesn't tell us to do that.

Greyarcher wrote:However, I hold that the foundational religious beliefs are historical claims. If, indeed, religious historical beliefs ought to be judged by a different standard and are an exception to my argument, then you ought to be able to argue this on its own grounds (i.e. by primarily discussing the traits that make those key religious beliefs exceptional, rather than by trying to liken the key religious beliefs to morality).

Some of religious beliefs are historical ("Jesus lived, suffered, died, and was raised"), but some are about the nature of the world around us ("God exists"), and others are predictions of the future ("Jesus will return"). I'd say all of those are pretty foundational for Christians.

And my argument isn't merely that religious beliefs are like moral beliefs. It's that they both are part of a bigger super-set of beliefs. These are characterized by two things:
1) The beliefs are hard to objectively verify, and
2) The beliefs play a major role in how we make choices.

In other words, the answers are unknowable, but very important. When these two factors are true, I suspect that we, people, society have the tendency to inflate bubbles to answer these questions, and that these bubbles help us make choices. Finding ways to run objective tests is the way to pop the bubbles (which is why I used the bubble analogy to begin with). In areas where this can't/doesn't happen for whatever reason, the bubbles will persist because they are providing value.

You seem to be troubled by the fact that standing outside the competing bubbles (i.e. all the various religions), you can't see why one is any better supported than the others. And while I agree that that can be troubling, I don't agree that therefore all beliefs inside those bubbles must be unreasonable. For me, a reasoned position is one that has been well thought out, is self-consistent, and is consistent with the wider body of truths that we accept. This is all possible in religion. In a world of imperfect information, I don't see a problem with people staking an unsupported claim. And assuming they're not fooled into believing that the support is there when it's not, I have no problem calling it a reasonable belief.

Greyarcher wrote:Sorry again. Even to me it feels like a bit of a cop-out but, well, we could probably spend our entire lives discussing morality and meta-ethics, so I'd like to keep things focused here.

I know you're trying to pin me down to specifically defend religious beliefs, but I'm not sure what I should say. You've claimed they're unsupported, and I agree. You've claimed that childhood bias plays a big role, and I agree. You've claimed that religious beliefs are therefore unreasonable, and I disagree.

So I'll let you decide where you want to take the discussion. I won't force moral debate on you if you don't want me to. :) The only reason I was insistent on arguing within that framework is because I believe that often when people see the mote in the theist's eye, they miss the log in their own eye. If you hand wave away all the beliefs that are like religious beliefs, then of course religion will stand out. But if we're all-inclusive with our analysis, I think we'll find that religion is just one facet of a bigger picture that permeates our society.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Zcorp
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Sat Dec 18, 2010 12:36 am UTC

Responding to something a few posts back, sorry, took a bit to find the even a small amount of time.

guenther wrote:I'd like you to provide a citation regarding that the Golden Rule is better than tit-for-tat.
Better is relative, tit-for-tat is better for a the player playing tit-for-tat rather then constantly cooperating against an opponent is not cooperating. If you have a player who is cooperating then they are equal. Of course this changes based on your axioms. If your axiom is the irrational and unreasonable belief that martyrdom of your self and those dependent upon you will more likely get you into heaven the always cooperating is the proper move, as the goal of the game has changed. The goal has become putting the task set forth by you from a deity that you only hope exists over the well-being of the others and the world around you.

If you oprate from a rational and reasonable position that this world matters, these people matter and the following generations matter more than some belief about how you want the world to work we can reasonably posit then tit-for-tat is better. This is a game of reason and logic, so I'm not really certain what citations you are looking for..But here is the wiki article on Tit-for-Tat with references. We don't really have to look further than our own (America's) current financial culture to see the practicality of this in reality.

And by the way, this is different than the Christian rule of love your neighbor, so if you have a citation for why that's inferior as well, I'd like to see it. And further, I'd like a citation that religion is harmful. Not merely that religious people cause harm, but that religious faith is the source of the problem (as opposed to culture, politics, etc.). In other words, we should be able to fix the harm by removing a belief in God, and the harm should not be fixable while the belief remains.
And again...the problem is not that belief in God, it is the tools used and ignorance perpetuated to cultivate a belief in God in other people. This point has been made numerous times within this thread and its still one seem to have yet to recognize. This was again brought up in the section of DSenette's post that nite quoted.

If you are informed enough to choose to believe in God, great. If you prevent other people or influence other people away from that information so that they do not have the same choice...thats very very bad. And that is the tactic most commonly employed by Church's in fact it is nearly the only one. Various studies support this by showing that the believers are often the least informed about not only other religions but their own as well.
I'm just trying to understand your moral claim about how promoting Christianity is evil. Specifically I'm trying to understand why what my parents did is evil and how I've been harmed as a result. (Or perhaps how I've harmed others due to my parents' sins.)
You have to define harm, most Christians are less comfortable in many sexual situations than I am. Many of those perceptions and were created by church which parents took/coerced/forced their children into.

Now most Christians I'm familiar with consider a polyamorous relationship to be harmful. Because due to perceptions of the world that they have created they are unable to perceive how a person could be happy in such a relationship. I would consider that harmful. That creates a very closed minded approach to the world and their own experiences. But there are a lot of things to hit on for Christian and specifically Catholic views on sex. There are instances all over history and current day where the church and thus generally parents have their perceptions so indoctrinate to the church that it is harmful. For a non-sexual reference look at recent Mosque phenomenon in NY.

Of course, as you mention, we generally don't have to teach people not to kill. Is that because of the power of reason/logic? Or is it because we have such a strong gut reaction against it? This is an emotional bias, which is actually a corruption of a perfectly logical process. How is using feelings to help justify a belief that killing is wrong different than using feelings as part of a basis to believe in God?
Simply because something has a reasonable and logical motive doesn't mean there is not also a emotional or instinctual one. No one is advocating that emotions and instincts are not a part of the humans species, simply that we are capable of acting in a way that is, as far as any species we have met, uniquely human. We are capable of behaving in a way that no other species on earth does. And it is that type of behavior that has made us the most dominant and successful species. We are capable of more then behaving on just emotion and instinct and it is what makes us better than everything else. And while you may have a strong gut reaction to it not everyone does.

Paulo Freire's Education for Critical Consciousness explains much of this with much more eloquence and depth.

Also, I'm far from impressed by people applying logic and reason to build up moral conclusions. I've seen people promote some truly awful things that were quite solid based on their logical premises. For example, someone on these boards once suggested that it's OK to "abort" a 3 year old child. I've never been so repulsed by a post here (being a father of a 3-year-old certainly didn't help). It's monstrous. The fact is that with reason and logic we can really justify anything we want. We just need the right starting axioms. How do we choose which starting axioms are good? Many people simply appeal to the obvious, but then that's just another bubble truth without any real justification.
Well to start with you should avoid those red herrings. Simply because someone can make a logical and reasonable conclusion that killing 3 year olds is based on their axioms does not mean that those axioms are logical and reasonable. The Crusades were completely logical and reasonable if you grant the axioms that Killing People before they sin is merciful and that if they believe in a God other than ours they are going to wind up in hell.

The argument being made is that we can come to understanding of what is best for humans and their well-being through logic and reason. Not that we can create absurd conclusions with logic working from problematic axioms.

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Sat Dec 18, 2010 4:07 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:If you oprate from a rational and reasonable position that this world matters, these people matter and the following generations matter more than some belief about how you want the world to work we can reasonably posit then tit-for-tat is better.

It's fine to posit that. nitePhyyre did more than posit; he concluded Christianity was evil (for supporting the Golden Rule no less!). I felt such a strong assertion should be backed by evidence.

Zcorp wrote:If you are informed enough to choose to believe in God, great. If you prevent other people or influence other people away from that information so that they do not have the same choice...thats very very bad. And that is the tactic most commonly employed by Church's in fact it is nearly the only one. Various studies support this by showing that the believers are often the least informed about not only other religions but their own as well.

Unless there's more data than what you're providing, that doesn't seem like a very good conclusion at all. It seems better explained by general ignorance rather than efforts by the church to actively thwart people from getting information. I've never heard of a church that didn't promote reading the Bible and generally being informed about Christianity.

It sounds like you want churches to present a menu of choices for religion (or areligion) and let people choose what sounds best. But that's not their job. They advocate for Christianity, and it's other people's job to advocate for their religion or lack thereof. In some areas, maybe the culture is more closed and competing viewpoints are harder to make known. But in our modern world, especially with the internet, it's increasingly harder for churches to actively stop people from getting any information they want. And I agree that it's a bad thing to do.

If you're talking about children, then I believe it's the parent's job to filter the world's information down when they're too young to process it all. And I agree that it's good for parent's to get their children to think about why we have certain morals, because they're going to wonder why eventually. If the kids grow up not knowing how to defend their religion, that's bad for Christianity.

Zcorp wrote:Now most Christians I'm familiar with consider a polyamorous relationship to be harmful. Because due to perceptions of the world that they have created they are unable to perceive how a person could be happy in such a relationship. I would consider that harmful. That creates a very closed minded approach to the world and their own experiences. But there are a lot of things to hit on for Christian and specifically Catholic views on sex. There are instances all over history and current day where the church and thus generally parents have their perceptions so indoctrinate to the church that it is harmful. For a non-sexual reference look at recent Mosque phenomenon in NY.

The sex stuff is pretty subjective. And for the Mosque stuff, you haven't shown that it's based on religious faith. To me it seems like the more reasonable cause is fear.

Zcorp wrote:The argument being made is that we can come to understanding of what is best for humans and their well-being through logic and reason. Not that we can create absurd conclusions with logic working from problematic axioms.

I'm fine with the idea that logic and reason are great tools in the realm of morality (even for Christians). The claim was that ALL we needed was faith and logic. You also have to rely on feelings, which means you are subject to biases from how we're raised and from what people around us believe (among all the other things that affect our feelings).
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Zcorp
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Sat Dec 18, 2010 4:38 pm UTC

guenther wrote:It's fine to posit that. nitePhyyre did more than posit; he concluded Christianity was evil (for supporting the Golden Rule no less!). I felt such a strong assertion should be backed by evidence.
Two points are related to this the Golden Rule and why it's bad. One is letting people run all over you and other things because the Golden Rules says you should love them. The other suggests that other people might want to be treated the same way as you so treating them that way can be very destructive.

Unless there's more data than what you're providing, that doesn't seem like a very good conclusion at all. It seems better explained by general ignorance rather than efforts by the church to actively thwart people from getting information. I've never heard of a church that didn't promote reading the Bible and generally being informed about Christianity.
They very frequently promote reading certain parts of the bible, they certainly don't get their majority of the laity to read the majority of the bible and there is lot of evidence to suggest that.

It sounds like you want churches to present a menu of choices for religion (or areligion) and let people choose what sounds best. But that's not their job.
No it sounds like I called that the responsibility of the parent.

If you're talking about children, then I believe it's the parent's job to filter the world's information down when they're too young to process it all. And I agree that it's good for parent's to get their children to think about why we have certain morals, because they're going to wonder why eventually. If the kids grow up not knowing how to defend their religion, that's bad for Christianity.
No, if kids grow up thinking they have to defend Christianity because they don't know enough about other moral frameworks and belief structures thats bad for the world.

The sex stuff is pretty subjective. And for the Mosque stuff, you haven't shown that it's based on religious faith. To me it seems like the more reasonable cause is fear.
Shrug, you just to continue to ignore the effect that religion has, I'm not suggesting it had everything to do with the Mosque thing, if you honestly thing it has nothing to do with it and isn't a cause for concern...well I'm not sure what else to say. You just want to rationalize away any real world observation of the negative impact of Christianity to perpetuate your delusion that it only has theoretical world problems not real world problems.

I'm fine with the idea that logic and reason are great tools in the realm of morality (even for Christians). The claim was that ALL we needed was faith and logic. You also have to rely on feelings, which means you are subject to biases from how we're raised and from what people around us believe (among all the other things that affect our feelings).
We already have feelings and subjective bais, we don't need it. Most of us are not skilled at acting and understanding things rationally and reasonably, but we are capable of it and it is the most valuable aspect of our species. So yes, all we need to add offer the opportunity to learn to act more inline with the uniquely human behaviors. It is reasonable and rational to know that there are emotional and instinctual aspects of behavior and desires, and through knowing and recognizing there these motives come from we gain power, self-awareness and start having choices in our actions rather than being led around by our cognitive baises.

User avatar
duckshirt
Posts: 567
Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2007 1:41 am UTC
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby duckshirt » Sun Dec 19, 2010 5:11 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:
guenther wrote:It's fine to posit that. nitePhyyre did more than posit; he concluded Christianity was evil (for supporting the Golden Rule no less!). I felt such a strong assertion should be backed by evidence.
Two points are related to this the Golden Rule and why it's bad. One is letting people run all over you and other things because the Golden Rules says you should love them. The other suggests that other people might want to be treated the same way as you so treating them that way can be very destructive.
First, your second point sounds more like a literal interpretation of the non-Biblical version of the Golden Rule, "treat others the way you want to be treated." I'm not sure it still works for "Love your neighbor as yourself."

The first point sounds more like the great Sermon on the Mount commands in which Jesus basically denounces conventional, rational human behavior: "If someone strikes you on the cheek, turn to him the other cheek," or "If anyone sues you for your shirt, hand over your coat as well." Obviously this doesn't harm anyone else, and as for whether it harms the actual doer - ask anyone who is living out this command. The beauty of this irrational love for others is that it does have a way of spreading, or at least exposing to someone else the shame in what they are doing... I would also argue that this is the type of moral it's tough to derive without God.

The alternative suggestion was "tit-for-tat," but the problems with that are obvious; as Gandhi said, it would leave the whole world titless and tatless, or something like that.
lol everything matters
-Ed

Soralin
Posts: 1347
Joined: Wed May 07, 2008 12:06 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Soralin » Sun Dec 19, 2010 12:08 pm UTC

duckshirt wrote:The alternative suggestion was "tit-for-tat," but the problems with that are obvious; as Gandhi said, it would leave the whole world titless and tatless, or something like that.

Well, not quite, the tit-for-tat described regarding the iterated prisoner dilemma thing doesn't have the same implications as the phrase might commonly have, of only being tit-for-tat for the bad things. The tit-for-tat being described would be taking the same approach to cooperation or defection that the other person just made. So while it means if the other person betrays you, then you would betray them in turn, it also means if the other person then starts cooperating with you, you would then cooperate in turn. So Ghandi wouldn't have had much trouble with the British if they were following a tit-for-tat strategy - he's peaceful to them, therefore they would immediately be peaceful in return. tit-for-tat in this sense, doesn't hold grudges. Although in addition to that, there is tit-for-tat with forgiveness, which is basically the same as the above, but occasionally cooperates when it otherwise wouldn't, it tends to work a little better in situations of imperfect information.

Humans can be a bit more nasty then that, and sometimes do something closer to the grim strategy, cooperate with someone until they betray you, and then never cooperate with them again. Or the grim strategy with forgiveness, with the modification being the same as above.

And true, evaluating the golden rule as being "always cooperate" might not fit. Always cooperate is a rather extreme move; In real life, it would mean abolishing all police and justice systems to start with, since those involve doing things other than always cooperating with everyone, no matter what. (Although not that it could do anything but cooperate with anyone who did continue doing those things)

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Sun Dec 19, 2010 4:00 pm UTC

I'm going to let the Goldren Rule/Love Your Neighbor stuff go. I've already made my case there and won't be able to contribute more without simply repeating myself.

Zcorp wrote:They very frequently promote reading certain parts of the bible, they certainly don't get their majority of the laity to read the majority of the bible and there is lot of evidence to suggest that.

If you can't get your laity to read the whole Bible, isn't it better to get them to read some of it? Can you back up your claim that churches actually encourage ignorance on certain parts of the Bible? I don't have data here, but every church I've been to has had Bible Study groups or have been part of bigger programs that encourage reading through the whole Bible. And also every church I know has problems with actually getting its members to do it. So I believe that the majority of the laity haven't read the majority of the Bible, but I don't agree with your conclusion as to why.

Zcorp wrote: No, if kids grow up thinking they have to defend Christianity because they don't know enough about other moral frameworks and belief structures thats bad for the world.

It's certainly bad for members of the world that want to see Christianity go away. While it's not good to have kids ignorant of what others believe, parents aren't responsible for defending all other belief systems or for presenting them all as equally good options. And it's not that kids need to be trained with the responsibility to defend Christianity as a whole, but if they grow up following the Christian faith, it's in their and their parent's interest that they can defend their own beliefs.

Zcorp wrote:Shrug, you just to continue to ignore the effect that religion has, I'm not suggesting it had everything to do with the Mosque thing, if you honestly thing it has nothing to do with it and isn't a cause for concern...well I'm not sure what else to say.

You have jumped into the middle of a conversation that you clearly haven't been following very well and are making bad conclusions as a result. nitePhyyre charged that core aspects of religion, like faith, are harmful. So I challenged him for a citation on that specific claim. You respond with some examples of harm, and I tell you that they don't support his claim. And then you conclude that I am not concerned by the harm you cited. This is bad logic.

If you want to know my concern about the Mosque stuff, you can just ask (and I am concerned about it, by the way). I am aware that Christians are out there doing bad things, and I am concerned and do believe something should be done about it. But that's not the debate I've been having (first paragraph). If you want to have that debate, you should let me know before you accuse me of ignoring stuff.

Zcorp wrote:It is reasonable and rational to know that there are emotional and instinctual aspects of behavior and desires, and through knowing and recognizing there these motives come from we gain power, self-awareness and start having choices in our actions rather than being led around by our cognitive baises.

I completely agree here.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Mapar
Posts: 129
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 11:26 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Mapar » Mon Dec 20, 2010 1:43 pm UTC

Mapar wrote:Guenther, you stated that 'most Christians do not read [the Bible] that way', in reaction to the literal meaning posted above.


In response to the out-of-context literal meaning. But in context, I think it literally reads quite different. There are areas of the Bible where reading literally is problematic (i.e. six days of creation), but I don't believe this is one of them.

And I'm not sure why you don't believe morals come from religion? What do you make of moral stances like anti-homosexuality, anti-abortion, pro-abstinence if people aren't getting this stuff from the Bible?

And Fred Phelps' has made a name for himself not because he's a literalist. It's that he walks around with signs like "God hates fags" at funerals. A literal reading of the Bible doesn't tell us to do that.


I said we don't get morals from scripture. It's perfectly possible that people's moral ideas come from the social structure of religion, but the primary source is not scripture.

(and your last statement: I think it's somewhere in Leviticus; but then again, Deuteronomy and Leviticus are full of crap, such as: Shellfish are unclean)
Hi.

DSenette
Posts: 2418
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:08 pm UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DSenette » Mon Dec 20, 2010 2:33 pm UTC

guenther wrote:
DSenette wrote:majority christians may not be "more hateful" than anyone else, but their hate is a bit more dangerous than say, a white supremacists hate. Most people can look at a white supremacist and say "well that guy's just a dick"....but people who hate because of their religion (especially when the majority shares that religion) attempt to use their faith as a free pass. so while they may not be hating "more", typically they're hating more effectively within the construct of their local society.

I don't buy this at all. White supremacist hate is weak because they have no political support and little popular support. It has nothing to do with how people conjure up excuses. It's not "Hate+Faith=BAD", it's "Hate+Power=BAD". In other words, religion shows up in the equation because it's powerful, not because it promotes faith. And we can know this because atheist regimes can be pretty awful as well. Religion is powerful, and that power can do some very bad stuff. That's why it's such a good idea to separate religion from government. But when wielded in better ways, that power does tremendous good.
if only religion were actually separated from the government, and people's religious beliefs didn't shape the laws in this country....that would be freakin awesome. i know it's supposed to be that way, but it isn't.

guenther wrote:Also, I find it interesting you inserted an example of anti-gay marriage in them middle of discussing hate, as if it's clear to everyone that hate is what is fueling the movement. This is a common perspective as seen in the "Stop H8" campaign, but I think it's misguided and seeks to paint the opponent unfairly as bad people, which in turn ironically helps foster hate against them. (For anyone that wants to dispute that, I will point you to a thread where I spent a great deal of time and energy making this case. And you can see the shit storm it created, so I don't want to open that can of worms here. I'm just making a passing comment to voice my objection.)

perhaps lumping it with "hate" may make some people uncomfortable. but, the way i read it, using the word abomination to describe something suggests a bit of hate. there's no justification for opposing gay marriage other than religious reasons. and those reasons are seated in disgust/hatred (no matter how you want to read it) of something that people have been taught is an "abomination unto the lord" (i.e. the lord hates it, so should you). so whether your (not you specifically...lets call that the royal your) opposition to gay marriage is seated in gay bashing-fist throwing-unmitigated hatred, or a more light handed message of "well, it's an abomination unto the lord"....it's still seated in a version of hatred of an activity

i don't want to go down the road that this particular tangent points to....so....i guess that's that.


guenther wrote:
Mapar wrote:Guenther, you stated that 'most Christians do not read [the Bible] that way', in reaction to the literal meaning posted above.

In response to the out-of-context literal meaning. But in context, I think it literally reads quite different. There are areas of the Bible where reading literally is problematic (i.e. six days of creation), but I don't believe this is one of them.

And I'm not sure why you don't believe morals come from religion? What do you make of moral stances like anti-homosexuality, anti-abortion, pro-abstinence if people aren't getting this stuff from the Bible?
i don't know how all of the rules in Leviticus and Deuteronomy can be read in any other context than the literal way they were written down. they're not ambiguous, or vague, or hard to understand. they dictate direct cause/effect style actions.

i dunno, it doesn't sit well with me when someone chooses a document/policy manual to guide their entire structure of reality, states that this document/policy manual is the word of "God", and then decides to cherry pick which parts of this manual are "really the words of God" or which parts don't apply any more, or which parts just have the wrong context and if you read it "this way" it means this thing that we really hoped it meant (and yes, because i know this is coming, i feel the same about the constitution.)

guenther wrote:
Zcorp wrote:If you are informed enough to choose to believe in God, great. If you prevent other people or influence other people away from that information so that they do not have the same choice...thats very very bad. And that is the tactic most commonly employed by Church's in fact it is nearly the only one. Various studies support this by showing that the believers are often the least informed about not only other religions but their own as well.

Unless there's more data than what you're providing, that doesn't seem like a very good conclusion at all. It seems better explained by general ignorance rather than efforts by the church to actively thwart people from getting information. I've never heard of a church that didn't promote reading the Bible and generally being informed about Christianity.

It sounds like you want churches to present a menu of choices for religion (or areligion) and let people choose what sounds best. But that's not their job. They advocate for Christianity, and it's other people's job to advocate for their religion or lack thereof. In some areas, maybe the culture is more closed and competing viewpoints are harder to make known. But in our modern world, especially with the internet, it's increasingly harder for churches to actively stop people from getting any information they want. And I agree that it's a bad thing to do.

If you're talking about children, then I believe it's the parent's job to filter the world's information down when they're too young to process it all. And I agree that it's good for parent's to get their children to think about why we have certain morals, because they're going to wonder why eventually. If the kids grow up not knowing how to defend their religion, that's bad for Christianity.
in the context of this entire thread, i think what's being asked for/requested/expected is room for free thought. while you may know a lot of churches that suggest their constituents read the bible and other documents about their religion, many of them do not foster free thought. a LOT of churches (and in that context i don't specifically mean religions, i mean actual congregations) foster closed mindedness and shun people who try to ask questions that are "controversial" even if the reason the person is asking them is to strengthen their own faith. (i know you actually included this in your post, but i have to say something about it any time it comes up)

as to the teaching of children.....i've never come across a situation where withholding information from a child, or misdirecting them, or misguiding them (or, depending on your views, feeding them absolute bullshit) is ever truly successful. when children are taught free thought, rational thought, logical thought, you'd be surprised at the things they're able to understand. even EXTREMELY controversial issues (sex, death, right from wrong, etc..) can be handled at a MUCH younger age than most people assume, as long as it's done correctly, and it can be done without religion
The Righteous Hand Of Retribution
"The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place." ~Andre Codresu (re: "the Rapture")

Zcorp
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:06 pm UTC

guenther wrote:If you can't get your laity to read the whole Bible, isn't it better to get them to read some of it? Can you back up your claim that churches actually encourage ignorance on certain parts of the Bible?
If the effect is as negative as it is, certainly not. Also I never made that claim...I did claim that tools used perpetuate ignorance, I did not claim 'The Church' actively did it. Christians are consistently shown to be ignorant about their own and other religions. Thats a systemic problem with their support system, leadership and educational opportunities. A system doesn't have to be actively punishing information seekers to create a culture that breeds ignorance.

It's certainly bad for members of the world that want to see Christianity go away. While it's not good to have kids ignorant of what others believe, parents aren't responsible for defending all other belief systems or for presenting them all as equally good options. And it's not that kids need to be trained with the responsibility to defend Christianity as a whole, but if they grow up following the Christian faith, it's in their and their parent's interest that they can defend their own beliefs.
You are right parents aren't solely responsible for teaching there kids to be critical thinkers or educating them about the world. Its just that responsible parents do both of those thing; Christian parents and community have, in general, been shown to do that quite poorly.

You're going to be hard pressed to win an argument that loyalty to faith is more important than cultivating critical thinking, this is one example of a behavior that I'm guessing nite considers to be a harmful aspect of Christianity.

If you want to know my concern about the Mosque stuff
This isn't about what you think about the Mosque, it is about the type and/or quality of person that Christianity creates. We are talking about the culture that is created by the cognitive biases indoctrinated into the individuals.

My point about polyamory was not about it being better or worse than monogamy, my point was that Christianity creates such strong irrational biases with unreasonable justifications that it harms critical thinking and acceptance of other lifestyles or view points even if they are not how you choose to live. The point was they remove that choice or erect significant barriers to make it a real choice by creating destructive social standard. It was just one example, the effect on the LGBT community would be another, as would the Mosque situation, etc.

I am aware that Christians are out there doing bad things, and I am concerned and do believe something should be done about it. But that's not the debate I've been having
Aye, the discussion is about the things Christianity does to people and thus groups of people or societies, the debate is about if those effects are harmful. I and others here think that cultivating critical thinking and knowledgeable people is valuable. Christianity has shown it is not a system that does either of those things, and in fact often does the opposite of those things. You seem to be making the argument that those are less useful then having faith, because you feel faith is valuable.

When you are asked to describe why faith is valuable you speak to morals. My and ours response has consistently been that you can get the same morals from nearly all other philosophical frameworks and academic study in the humanities. This has been supported with anecdotal experience, culture phenomenons and links to discussion or articles on various academic areas and positions.

There are various morals posited by the Bible that are disagreed upon and we have been questioning the importance and validity of those. Your general response has been related to the axiom that God exists (please correct me if I've missed something, because as I'm writing this I feel like I'm being dismissive but I can't really remember any other arguments), and it is thus moral to follow the Bible and these beliefs.

Your general opinion of secular institutions that are trying to tackle these problems (and they are very new at most really only a couple hundred years and in most cases much less than that), is that they don't focus on 'feeling' or emotion, which you consider and a very large, if not the largest, controller of our behavior. This is something you consider to be bad for some reason that you haven't yet described or that I've yet to understand when you've tried to describe it. Now I disagree that this hasn't been a part of that focus of secular institutions, and I disagree that it is the most important aspect of our being, which is an area of this discussion we are still debating.

There are also tangental aspects of this discussion such as: The definition of a Christian, the definition of God, why the Christian God is better to worship than the other ones, why the Christian morals are better than other religious ones, the Problem of Evil and related ideas.

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:27 pm UTC

Mapar wrote:I said we don't get morals from scripture. It's perfectly possible that people's moral ideas come from the social structure of religion, but the primary source is not scripture.

(and your last statement: I think it's somewhere in Leviticus; but then again, Deuteronomy and Leviticus are full of crap, such as: Shellfish are unclean)

You say that people don't get morals from scripture, then you make an effort to cite scripture. Does that make any sense? Also, why does the social structure of religion have moral rules that just happen to agree with the Bible if they're not being sourced in the Bible? Why do people reference the age old book? I think the easy and obvious answer is that it does impact morals and it is relevant to how people live their lives. The process isn't as straight-forward as someone reading "Thou shalt not kill" and from thenceforth never killing again, but I do believe that the Bible plays a role in people's notion of right and wrong.


@DSenette:
First, separating religion from the government does not mean requiring people to put their religious beliefs aside. Second, one can interpret passages from the Bible in context of the whole text without cherry picking. No one is defending cherry picking.

DSenette wrote: in the context of this entire thread, i think what's being asked for/requested/expected is room for free thought.

Churches are advocating for a certain belief system, so they're not advocating that people to decide for themselves what's right and wrong. So churches don't promote the philosophical notion of freethinking. But the converse of this isn't fostering closed-mindedness. From personal experience, most churches I've been to are very welcoming of any sort of questions at all. And maybe many churches do foster closed-mindedness, but I'm not convinced it happens more there than with non-religious groups that are advocating for a position.

DSenette wrote:as to the teaching of children.....i've never come across a situation where withholding information from a child, or misdirecting them, or misguiding them (or, depending on your views, feeding them absolute bullshit) is ever truly successful.

Are you presenting your expert opinion on how parenting should be done? Or are you merely expressing that you wish to be able to raise the kids the way you want? If it's the latter, then I agree, but I'm not sure anyone here is contesting that. If it's the former, then I'm not sure I'm ready to take your advice. I have a four-year-old who gets terrified at all the various lurking dangers (mold, germs, allergies, dying, breaking bones, storms, etc). She wouldn't eat for two days once because we told her that eating too much can make you sick. Her stomach hurt because she was hungry, but she was in too much of a panic to process anything we were saying. So now we present her a simplified model of the world dangers, which both withholds information and includes some misinformation. Of course as she gets older, we'll expose her to better information, but the timing of when and how that should progress is up for each parent to decide.


Zcorp wrote:This isn't about what you think about the Mosque, it is about the type and/or quality of person that Christianity creates. We are talking about the culture that is created by the cognitive biases indoctrinated into the individuals.

You are claiming causality when you don't actually know (or at least haven't cited). Many of the issues could come from American culture rather than the indoctrination of religious beliefs. If you convince people to abandon their faith in God, you may not fix the underlying problems with poor thinking. And if you're changing the culture to combat the problem, there's no reason to think that this can't improve the situation regardless of convincing people to abandoned their religion.

Pointing out problems is a lot easier than knowing how to fix them. If you know how to make better people, then I say prove it. Show that your method works better by documenting which metrics of goodness get improved. And if you can't prove it, then feel free to advocate your system; I think it should be welcome in our society. I'll continue to advocate for my solution.

Zcorp wrote:Aye, the discussion is about the things Christianity does to people and thus groups of people or societies, the debate is about if those effects are harmful. I and others here think that cultivating critical thinking and knowledgeable people is valuable. Christianity has shown it is not a system that does either of those things, and in fact often does the opposite of those things. You seem to be making the argument that those are less useful then having faith, because you feel faith is valuable.

This isn't what I'm arguing. Faith is a different sort of tool than critical thinking, and we can use both. Showing me Christians that are bad at the latter doesn't weaken my case at all unless you can causally link some fundamental aspect of religion/Christianity to those problems. Otherwise, I'll just agree with you that those are problems that should be improved, but disagree with you on precisely how.

Zcorp wrote:There are various morals posited by the Bible that are disagreed upon and we have been questioning the importance and validity of those. Your general response has been related to the axiom that God exists (please correct me if I've missed something, because as I'm writing this I feel like I'm being dismissive but I can't really remember any other arguments), and it is thus moral to follow the Bible and these beliefs.

I've shared my practical reasons why I believe Love your Neighbor is key. My theory is that when you get competing teams, you'll get a positive feedback system that will sharpen the dividing line to whatever amount of indecency the culture will bear. This happens because negativity is a powerful motivator of human behavior, and the teams can better form cohesive units, and thus better super-entities, by capitalizing on it. But this comes at the cost of rationality and the capacity to work together across dividing lines. I believe the best solution is to directly challenge our impulse to react negatively to the opponents by actively extending compassion and respect. Basically we need to hold the value of loving and caring about people more than winning the game.

The reason why I believe Christianity is a good vehicle to emphasize this value is because of faith. Our brain has a great capacity to use logic, reason, critical thinking, but it's fundamentally flawed because we are very poor at detecting when we are being biased by our emotions or by external stimuli. And both of these corrupters are heavy at play in the positive feedback system I described above (though this argument applies just as well to any source of heavy irrational bias, e.g. fear, addiction, anger). So the power of faith is that we stop trusting what our distorted mind is telling us at the moment, and to start trusting in a piece of wisdom that we already personally vetted back when our mind was more clear. And this shift in trust only has to happen long enough to be clear of the source of bias.

If you start from the assumption that everyone can reach unparalleled heights of rationality with enough training, then you'll never see a need for faith. But if you accept that our rational mind is very corruptible, and our capacity to completely fix that corruption is limited, then faith indeed has a place. As I said, it's merely a tool. And one that I have employed exactly as described above when dealing with my daughter's panic attacks (we taught her to have faith that we'll keep her safe from lurking dangers). Of course, faith also has the power to reinforce people's ugly biases, which just makes problems worse.

So this is the Christian solution (or at least my interpretation of it), but I have precisely zero problem with secular institutions seeking alternatives (even ones that aren't "feelings" based). I don't see it as bad at all; on the contrary I find it extremely important. There's a power to probing the objective realities that the Christian belief system doesn't tap into very well. I have expressed pessimism about the likely results we'll see anytime soon, but that just really affects which system I promote, not my desire to see objective truths explored. And I do have an optimism that any results we find can be bolted into Christianity; i.e. it won't fundamentally conflict with any of the doctrine.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

DSenette
Posts: 2418
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:08 pm UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DSenette » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:58 pm UTC

guenther wrote:
@DSenette:
First, separating religion from the government does not mean requiring people to put their religious beliefs aside. Second, one can interpret passages from the Bible in context of the whole text without cherry picking. No one is defending cherry picking.
ok, (and this is purely antagonistic....so...sorry). so, what is your interpretation of the context of Deuteronomy and Leviticus? specifically the bits with all of the rules? and how does that context negate the mandate for murder (i know i'm harping on one section of a really long book, but it's kind of important)?

guenther wrote:
DSenette wrote: in the context of this entire thread, i think what's being asked for/requested/expected is room for free thought.

Churches are advocating for a certain belief system, so they're not advocating that people to decide for themselves what's right and wrong. So churches don't promote the philosophical notion of freethinking. But the converse of this isn't fostering closed-mindedness. From personal experience, most churches I've been to are very welcoming of any sort of questions at all. And maybe many churches do foster closed-mindedness, but I'm not convinced it happens more there than with non-religious groups that are advocating for a position.
i would postulate that the stifling of free thought actually dose promote closed-mindedness.

again i'm going to harp on the homosexual debates here because it's just easiest and we can both have a common ground of topic for the purposes of illustration.

Christianity dictates, in unambiguous terms, that homosexuality is wrong/an abomination unto the lord. (some progressive christian sects have side stepped the fact that homosexuality isn't a choice by stating that "being gay" isn't the sin, but acting on being gay is...but let's just agree that this means they think it's wrong too)...if you are to be a "good" christian, you also have to hold this belief, unquestionably. which means that you don't have the choice to decide that your best buddy karl is still an OK kind of guy, even though he's gay. this puts SOME EXTREMELY troubling questions in the minds of children. they don't have the ability to reconcile the chances of going to hell, their parents not liking them again, or their entire church never liking them again because they've got a gay friend. so, fuck karl, it's self preservation time. and it's 100 times worse if karl happens to be the one that's being raised to not tolerate homosexuality.

as an adult, you may be able to rationalize these things away, and start to pick and choose where you stand your ground and where you don't, but you end up running through a whole weird list of issues at that point when you start comparing what you're now believing and what the rest of the people who identify as the same religion as you believe, which can cause some issues as well. especially when you're in a place that doesn't want you thinking too far on your own.


guenther wrote:
DSenette wrote:as to the teaching of children.....i've never come across a situation where withholding information from a child, or misdirecting them, or misguiding them (or, depending on your views, feeding them absolute bullshit) is ever truly successful.

Are you presenting your expert opinion on how parenting should be done? Or are you merely expressing that you wish to be able to raise the kids the way you want? If it's the latter, then I agree, but I'm not sure anyone here is contesting that. If it's the former, then I'm not sure I'm ready to take your advice. I have a four-year-old who gets terrified at all the various lurking dangers (mold, germs, allergies, dying, breaking bones, storms, etc). She wouldn't eat for two days once because we told her that eating too much can make you sick. Her stomach hurt because she was hungry, but she was in too much of a panic to process anything we were saying. So now we present her a simplified model of the world dangers, which both withholds information and includes some misinformation. Of course as she gets older, we'll expose her to better information, but the timing of when and how that should progress is up for each parent to decide.

i don't have kids, and i'm never planning on that being different. so i'm going to back off the educating children stack (no matter how important the avoidance of indoctrination of children is to me). but, framing reality in a way that your kids can understand (i.e. telling your child that eating more than she needs to feel full can make her sick/obese/etc.. instead of an abstract level of "too much") is a proven method of education...modifying the presentation without modifying the content is not the same as misinformation/misdirection.
The Righteous Hand Of Retribution
"The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place." ~Andre Codresu (re: "the Rapture")

Zcorp
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Mon Dec 20, 2010 9:17 pm UTC

guenther wrote:You are claiming causality when you don't actually know (or at least haven't cited). Many of the issues could come from American culture rather than the indoctrination of religious beliefs. If you convince people to abandon their faith in God, you may not fix the underlying problems with poor thinking. And if you're changing the culture to combat the problem, there's no reason to think that this can't improve the situation regardless of convincing people to abandoned their religion.
Except that it is cross cultural. And again I'm not trying to convince people to abandon faith in God, I'm advocating creating a culture where people can choose to have a faith in God but are not forced or pressured into it. Although if your faith in God means that your acting or teaching in a way that is putting God's needs or desires above that of things we know exists (people or society) then the belief becomes a problem, but only then.

I've never said that believing in God is the cause of poor thinking, I've said all the means people use to create a belief in God or the Church the cause. You are using very non-specific terms here, which is something I've tried to address in this whole thread and wrote a couple of sentences about in the last post. Until you can define every aspect of your religion, which no one in this thread has been able to do with Christianity, you need to tell me which specific parts I'm suggesting of removing.

I'm asking people to abandon the system that is used to create the negative effects, and I suppose maybe the Bible as a holy book. But not a belief in God as long as it does not harm other people.

Pointing out problems is a lot easier than knowing how to fix them. If you know how to make better people, then I say prove it. Show that your method works better by documenting which metrics of goodness get improved. And if you can't prove it, then feel free to advocate your system; I think it should be welcome in our society. I'll continue to advocate for my solution.
You seem to think this is an easy solution. But yes I'm working on it, and the internet is a great tool. But when people like the Texas Board of Education are going to indoctrinate their children and remove any information that is might challenge their belief structure it makes it a bit more difficult to educate people.

This isn't what I'm arguing.
Then what are you arguing?

Faith is a different sort of tool than critical thinking, and we can use both. Showing me Christians that are bad at the latter doesn't weaken my case at all unless you can causally link some fundamental aspect of religion/Christianity to those problems. Otherwise, I'll just agree with you that those are problems that should be improved, but disagree with you on precisely how.
Tell me how and tell me how you think they are different tools.

Although I agree they are different tools, but they are different tools that are trying to achieve the same goals. That is finding happiness with yourself, contentment in life, morality and thus ethics, and defining what makes up the cosmos.

Much of your nay saying about critical thinking has been without any evidence or citations of the benefits of Christianity, and when you've asked there have been more than a few provided. It really feels like you don't know much about game theory, sociology or critical thinking which is where many of the arguments against you are coming from.

For example, not understanding the application of practicality of game theory in real life suggests you don't know much about it at all. Or economics for that matter. I'm not saying you don't understand just that your questions and arguments easily lead me and others to think you don't.

I've shared my practical reasons why I believe Love your Neighbor is key.
And not just I have agreed with the sentiment and expressed where the same idea is present in secular ideology, its a good idea so use it but that doesn't make a belief in God or the rest of the bible useful because this is. It is also a sentiment not first found in Christianity, just expressed with that rhetoric there.

My theory is that when you get competing teams, you'll get a positive feedback system that will sharpen the dividing line to whatever amount of indecency the culture will bear.
Great... you are aware conflict its creation and the division of teams is a well studied and documented subject in sociology. So its not just your theory its a documented aspect of human behavior on a sociological level. Hey btw, this is exactly what Christianity does. It vilifies other religions and non-believers, because they aren't part of your team. Then on a more detailed level they vilify other sects of Christianity. They have a pretty bad track record of trying to solve this problem in human behavior.

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:19 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:ok, (and this is purely antagonistic....so...sorry). so, what is your interpretation of the context of Deuteronomy and Leviticus? specifically the bits with all of the rules? and how does that context negate the mandate for murder (i know i'm harping on one section of a really long book, but it's kind of important)?

I spoke of this before. The part of Matthew you quoted was talking about how the God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament. All the old rules, covenants, laws still exist. But it's a bad way to get saved. The better way is to have faith in Jesus and follow him.

An example of how OT and NT are different, look at circumcision. In the OT it was required. In the NT era, this was a big deal during Paul's time where there was great debate over whether circumcision was still required. Paul came down on the side that it's not. That's because the OT was written for a particular people at a particular time. So the OT books need to be understood in that context.

DSenette wrote:if you are to be a "good" christian, you also have to hold this belief, unquestionably. which means that you don't have the choice to decide that your best buddy karl is still an OK kind of guy, even though he's gay.

No, it means you must accept that Karl is not following God's will. You and many others conflate two related concepts, (A) What we should do, and (B) How we should respond when others don't do it. The Bible doesn't say "Fuck Karl for being gay". It should theoretically be more problematic if Karl were an atheist since that's violating the first rule in Christianity, which is to love God. The fact that it's often not reflects in my opinion our current political climate. The Conservative team has drawn a line in the sand regarding homosexuality, and then team game mentality ensues. And I find this both sad and damaging.

By the way, not every Christian sees homosexuality the same way.


Zcorp wrote:I'm asking people to abandon the system that is used to create the negative effects, and I suppose maybe the Bible as a holy book. But not a belief in God as long as it does not harm other people.

Well, the Bible part is a point of contention, but otherwise this is something I agree with. In fact, I think we are better served talking to theists in terms of their world view to convince them to abandon policies and cultural practices that are harmful.

You ask what I'm arguing, and lately my thesis has been to defend the charge that fundamental qualities of religion/Christianity are harmful. If this is true, then arguing for any form of Christianity is bad (though I don't agree that it's evil). But I think the evidence for this is weak, even though I agree that many Christians measurably do bad things. So rather than aiming to correct for this by discouraging Christianity, I would rather see the problems corrected independent of religiosity (e.g. the critical thinking stuff), or within the framework of Christianity (fighting ugly intolerance by emphasizing Jesus' message of love).

Zcorp wrote:
guenther wrote:Pointing out problems is a lot easier than knowing how to fix them. If you know how to make better people, then I say prove it. Show that your method works better by documenting which metrics of goodness get improved. And if you can't prove it, then feel free to advocate your system; I think it should be welcome in our society. I'll continue to advocate for my solution.
You seem to think this is an easy solution.

I don't think it's an easy solution. In fact, I think it's damn hard. My point is that we should let our language reflect this uncertainty. If you know we can do better than Christianity or any other modern religion, then I will ask for a citation or an admittance that this is belief without evidence (something that the religious folk call faith). However, if you're merely positing and advocating for your best guess at something better, then OK. In a world of imperfect information, that's all we can do sometimes. EDIT: And let me say that I've always admired your efforts here. You've mentioned your focus on teaching methods before, and I think that's a good thing.

Zcorp wrote:For example, not understanding the application of practicality of game theory in real life suggests you don't know much about it at all. Or economics for that matter. I'm not saying you don't understand just that your questions and arguments easily lead me and others to think you don't.

I don't claim to know much about it at all. :) I'm a layman in all of those matters. I enjoy science topics and podcasts, but that can only grant me so much expertise. So I try to present as consistent a perspective as I can, and I try to adapt my lingo to match technical terms in the appropriate fields as best as I can. But sometimes I'm ignorant that there's even an appropriate field for some of my stuff. So I learn by people challenging what I say, and the I go read wikipedia to bone up a bit.

As for faith and critical thinking, we agree that they're different tools, and I even agree with you that they both can be brought to bear on the same subjects. But one person has the capacity to switch back and forth between tools, even on the same task. For example, suppose I lose my job, I can continue to tithe on what little income I have left based on my faith in God to provide for me. But that doesn't mean I can't weigh the pros and cons of saving the money versus donating it. It doesn't mean I can't critically analyze the situation. The same with a pregnant teen; she could decide to keep the baby based on her faith, even though she can still weigh all the pros and cons.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Greyarcher
Posts: 708
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 3:03 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Greyarcher » Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:27 am UTC

DSenette: an interesting link. Non-theist social groups revolving around parenting, eh? Neat, neat, it's just the sort of thing I would have imagined springing up.

---------------------------

Guenther: the rest is a long reply for you.

Here we go!

guenther wrote:Some of religious beliefs are historical ("Jesus lived, suffered, died, and was raised"), but some are about the nature of the world around us ("God exists"), and others are predictions of the future ("Jesus will return"). I'd say all of those are pretty foundational for Christians.
Hmm, that's not exactly what I had in mind when I talked about foundational beliefs. I'll try and illustrate further what I perceive as the foundations--or roots, for brevity--since your notion seems to differ.

"Jesus will return", for instance, is not what I'd consider a very root belief because we can trace other prior beliefs upon which it is importantly predicated (e.g. beliefs about what Jesus did and who Jesus is, belief in the text in which these things are written and, prior to that, belief in the people who wrote that text, etc.). Something closer, perhaps, would be "Jesus did x, y, and z which are indications of divinity"; these are, in a sense, root historical claims insofar as they establish his legitimacy. Though I'm a bit more interested in the next and more prior beliefs.

"God exists" is root, and is not root, in two different and important senses. It's root in the sense that the religion, basically, is dependent completely on the truth of that belief. It is not root in the sense that the claim "God exists"--and every other claim/story about God--must have been first claimed by someone. And the circumstances of the claimer(s) are important: what were the cultures of that time like, what of the education level, who might have listened and why might they have believed, etc, etc. These are important factors that affect the credibility of the claim. In that sense, then, beliefs about the claimer are even prior to the "root" belief that "God exists"; reasons to believe the claimer, to think the claimer is not merely an offshoot of the human habit of claiming "god q exists", and suchlike, seem quite important for establishing credibility.

For that reason, too, I am interested less in Jesus, but more with the God who we may trace further back via the Judaic religion. I am interested in the people who first spoke of these gods, and our information and beliefs about their world. These are the type of "root" beliefs that seem key and of interest to me.


This quotation was near the end of your post, but I'll address it now as it's a nice segue to the later parts of my post.
guenther wrote:I won't force moral debate on you if you don't want me to. :) The only reason I was insistent on arguing within that framework is because I believe that often when people see the mote in the theist's eye, they miss the log in their own eye. If you hand wave away all the beliefs that are like religious beliefs, then of course religion will stand out. But if we're all-inclusive with our analysis, I think we'll find that religion is just one facet of a bigger picture that permeates our society.
I think your argument via comparison was a legitimate tactic. But it would primarily involve discussion and disputes about the nature of those other beliefs (which I predicted would be very slogging and messy in the case of morality). I didn't mean to give the impression of dismissing that argument or hand-waving away the beliefs. I only wished to shuffle them to the end of the line so we could focus first on the nature of religious beliefs and address any other arguments or reasons that you thought religious beliefs are reasonable or defensible.

And you gave interesting responses in that regard, so I'll now move on to those.

guenther wrote:You seem to be troubled by the fact that standing outside the competing bubbles (i.e. all the various religions), you can't see why one is any better supported than the others. And while I agree that that can be troubling, I don't agree that therefore all beliefs inside those bubbles must be unreasonable. For me, a reasoned position is one that has been well thought out, is self-consistent, and is consistent with the wider body of truths that we accept. This is all possible in religion. In a world of imperfect information, I don't see a problem with people staking an unsupported claim. And assuming they're not fooled into believing that the support is there when it's not, I have no problem calling it a reasonable belief.
You've have a sense of my concerns, but it's a bit errant and there's a bit more than that. I am also concerned that, from within the bubble, theists are not able to judge impartially whether there is enough reason to actually choose that bubble. And that further, when people are pushed into a bubble while they are still children, they are never given a proper chance to impartially evaluate the bubbles. You can see the problem these two points form together, can you not?

And you over-personalize the bit about "concern about support between competing bubbles". It's not so much about me, but about a "burden of proof" problem that I think anyone would have faced when choosing between bubbles. Theists who were pushed into the bubble early never properly faced this problem. Many may still not have adequately fulfilled this burden because the bubble affirms itself as "right" (so why be concerned with other bubbles?); the burden of proof is twisted and there is now a burden required to dislodge them from the bubble even though they never initially established enough reason to choose it!
These issues are why I press for good reasons that distinguish why it's appropriate to hold this religion rather than that religion, and raise various other points of doubt, such as what the reasons are for believing in the root claims; I am giving a sense of the "outside of the bubble", raising doubts and obstacles they should have--or would have--already addressed before "choosing and entering a bubble". This is closely related to the aforementioned problem about theists judging their bubble impartially.

Thus, it's less "all beliefs inside those bubbles must be unreasonable", and more "many/most theists are in these bubbles unreasonably". It's a problem of methodology. Rather than "people staking an unsupported claim", it's a problem of people not being permitted to evaluate support for the bubbles on their own, and instead being pushed into the bubbles when they're immature. You talk about "not being fooled into believing there's support when there's not", but children being told that a set of beliefs is true before they properly learn about contrary beliefs and independently evaluate them has the same problem--because they can't judge whether there's sufficient support or not.

Consistency, which you speak of, is insufficient; methodology seems an important part of ascertaining whether a belief is reasonable. Hence all the remarks I've made until now about about being well-informed and independent, about being capable of critically evaluating the proposed beliefs; surely you do not think these things are simply irrelevant? I think, from other remarks, you might say that contrarily teaching children religion is "giving them acceptable bias"--which I will probably dispute. It's probably also related to the next quotation.

guenther wrote:And my argument isn't merely that religious beliefs are like moral beliefs. It's that they both are part of a bigger super-set of beliefs. These are characterized by two things:
1) The beliefs are hard to objectively verify, and
2) The beliefs play a major role in how we make choices.

In other words, the answers are unknowable, but very important. When these two factors are true, I suspect that we, people, society have the tendency to inflate bubbles to answer these questions, and that these bubbles help us make choices. Finding ways to run objective tests is the way to pop the bubbles (which is why I used the bubble analogy to begin with). In areas where this can't/doesn't happen for whatever reason, the bubbles will persist because they are providing value.
The argument by comparison was shuffled away for later, but I'm interested in the points implicit about religion. I have a general sense of what you mean, in that religion makes statements about morality and conduct, though I'd like it if you flesh out more specifically how religion fits your quotation. For instance, what answers are unknowable, how they are important, and such. The "importance" bit, I'd wager relates to the "acceptable bias" dispute that I imagine we might have.

---------------

Whew, that was rough. I've spent so much time thinking, writing, editing out, and re-writing that I sometimes lost track of what I'd actually posted. :D I'd normally wait a day and review this one for more editing, but geh.

Some of those paragraphs are beastly text-walls. Sorry for that, Guenther.
In serious discussion, I usually strive to post with clarity, thoroughness, and precision so that others will not misunderstand; I strive for dispassion and an open mind, the better to avoid error.

DSenette
Posts: 2418
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:08 pm UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DSenette » Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:46 pm UTC

guenther wrote:
DSenette wrote:ok, (and this is purely antagonistic....so...sorry). so, what is your interpretation of the context of Deuteronomy and Leviticus? specifically the bits with all of the rules? and how does that context negate the mandate for murder (i know i'm harping on one section of a really long book, but it's kind of important)?

I spoke of this before. The part of Matthew you quoted was talking about how the God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament. All the old rules, covenants, laws still exist. But it's a bad way to get saved. The better way is to have faith in Jesus and follow him.

An example of how OT and NT are different, look at circumcision. In the OT it was required. In the NT era, this was a big deal during Paul's time where there was great debate over whether circumcision was still required. Paul came down on the side that it's not. That's because the OT was written for a particular people at a particular time. So the OT books need to be understood in that context.

we may be reading things a little differently, but, that's fine.

so, what is the purpose of the continuation of the OT in biblical study? What purpose do these sections of the OT serve to modern Christian religions? what about the groups of Christians that DON'T read it the way you've read it and DO uphold the OT laws (if only in word and not in action), such as the groups that follow the command to take up serpents? or speak in tongues? etc..?

these are serious questions and not stick poking. I'd like to know your take on those scenarios since it's become apparent that you're of the more "progressive" vein of Christianity.

guenther wrote:
DSenette wrote:if you are to be a "good" christian, you also have to hold this belief, unquestionably. which means that you don't have the choice to decide that your best buddy karl is still an OK kind of guy, even though he's gay.

No, it means you must accept that Karl is not following God's will. You and many others conflate two related concepts, (A) What we should do, and (B) How we should respond when others don't do it. The Bible doesn't say "Fuck Karl for being gay". It should theoretically be more problematic if Karl were an atheist since that's violating the first rule in Christianity, which is to love God. The fact that it's often not reflects in my opinion our current political climate. The Conservative team has drawn a line in the sand regarding homosexuality, and then team game mentality ensues. And I find this both sad and damaging.

Well, the command of God, in MULTIPLE places in the bible, and multiple places in religious oral history and modern teachings specifically states that you must abhor homosexuality as an "abomination" unto the lord. Theres even a nice story about God sending down brimstone on a bunch of homosexuals. There are very few societies that are "untouched" by Christianity that treat homosexuality the way that those societies that are "touched" by christianity do.....

outside of those commands, and taking into account different understandings of their applications. the primary tenet of religion is the concept that to reach heaven/eternal life/whatever you must follow the rules and love the one god that they've chosen. in some religions (Catholicism) you can erase your sins by confessing them to God (via a priest). but if being born the way you were born is a sin (which, i think we can agree, that no matter how you're reading the bible, most christians would agree that at least some aspect of homosexuality is a sin of some kind) how can you actually atone for that? how does one consolidate the concept that we're all "made in his image", but some people were "made" in such a way as to be born "away from him"?

one way or another, i'm not trying to invoke a "true scottsman" argument here (though i may have inadvertently done so with the beginning of that sentence...i'm much better at this stuff in oral debate). I was more trying to illustrate a negative of religion in general. basically the fact that you can accurately trace a LARGE (if not complete) portion of the hatred/prejudice/etc.. against homosexuals that has gone on for years upon years directly to the teachings of christianity (and to other extents, other religions). it's the only cause for such activity. there's no other rational/logical cause (especially in modern society) that actually holds weight when put under scrutiny.

guenther wrote:By the way, not every Christian sees homosexuality the same way.

i concur, and i don't want to lump all of anyone in together, but surely you can see how it's difficult to hold a train of thought or continue a debate while having to enumerate everyone that you're speaking of at every statement.

again, my issues are not with those who choose to have interpret religious teachings in such a way as to be inclusive and non judgemental. The moderates on both side of this argument are QUITE similar. Both moderate Athiests and moderate Christians tend to agree on everything about life except for one, the existence of a "God". so, my beef is not with ALL of christianity, or ALL of religion. it's with the DANGEROUS versions there of.

so, yes, not all christians view homosexuality the same way. but there is a growing voice among christianity that DOES view homosexuality (or athiesm, Muslims, or not being "their type of christian") with dangerous levels of hatred. and that's caused by their religion.

it could be argued that some of these people would just hate these other groups anyway because they just like to hate anything that's not the same as them (or in certain cases, too close to the same to them but they'd prefer no one knows how close they are) but that doesn't remove the danger of their ability to hide behind their religion whilst propagating hatered.
The Righteous Hand Of Retribution
"The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place." ~Andre Codresu (re: "the Rapture")

Zcorp
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:22 pm UTC

guenther wrote:Well, the Bible part is a point of contention, but otherwise this is something I agree with. In fact, I think we are better served talking to theists in terms of their world view to convince them to abandon policies and cultural practices that are harmful.
Aye, which is just another way of saying we should remove Christianity. If you change all/many of the social polities and culture practices I'm confused how you could be left with the same thing.

What is you that you consider to be Christianity? Because if it is just a belief that we should care about other humans in the world and treat them with respect (Love thy Neighbor and the Golden Rule) then your not advocating nor defending Christianity but a moral premise that is present in every framework.

You ask what I'm arguing, and lately my thesis has been to defend the charge that fundamental qualities of religion/Christianity are harmful. If this is true, then arguing for any form of Christianity is bad (though I don't agree that it's evil). But I think the evidence for this is weak, even though I agree that many Christians measurably do bad things. So rather than aiming to correct for this by discouraging Christianity, I would rather see the problems corrected independent of religiosity (e.g. the critical thinking stuff), or within the framework of Christianity (fighting ugly intolerance by emphasizing Jesus' message of love).
What do you consider to be those fundamental qualities? Also why do we have to follow Jesus's message of love more so than other older or newer messages of love.

Please define love, and define Jesus's message of love.

If you know we can do better than Christianity or any other modern religion, then I will ask for a citation or an admittance that this is belief without evidence (something that the religious folk call faith). However, if you're merely positing and advocating for your best guess at something better, then OK. In a world of imperfect information, that's all we can do sometimes.
Hypotheses are not beliefs, they are easily understood to be educated guesses.

In this case the guess is based on my observations, research and various scholarly peer reviewed studies. My argument has always been that the good things Christianity promotes are found in other frameworks, and generally much better defined, so less ambiguous words with a clearer tools to teaching the ideas and a there is a better result.

For instance take the Ultimatum Game or the Dictator Game. People who live in high population density are more likely to take the 'loving', 'fair' or 'socially just' action and spilt the money equally or even give more to the 'responder' in these games. People in high population areas are also more liberal, more open minded and less religious. Now just this one correlation doesn't allow us to draw my conclusions I'm suggesting, but when the studies consistently show that Christianity has a correlation to behavior that (to use a Prisoner's dilemma term) 'defects' on society or that they are taking non-loving actions to their neighbors (neighbors being defined as all other humans who are trying to live civilly with them) we can start to guess the cause. Additionally through empathy and experiencing culture largest created by their religious beliefs we can understand the trains of thought that lead people to behave in certain ways.

As for citations I'm on a boat in the atlantic so I'm not going to dig up a bunch of them right now, but I will point you to a great layman book that covers some of this. Seems the paper back is just about to come out.

I don't claim to know much about it at all. :) I'm a layman in all of those matters. I enjoy science topics and podcasts, but that can only grant me so much expertise. So I try to present as consistent a perspective as I can, and I try to adapt my lingo to match technical terms in the appropriate fields as best as I can. But sometimes I'm ignorant that there's even an appropriate field for some of my stuff. So I learn by people challenging what I say, and the I go read wikipedia to bone up a bit.
Cool, I hope you can understand how it can then be frustrating on this side of the screen when you tell me/us how the humanities are just some trivial theory and not practical in real life.

As for faith and critical thinking, we agree that they're different tools, and I even agree with you that they both can be brought to bear on the same subjects. But one person has the capacity to switch back and forth between tools, even on the same task. For example, suppose I lose my job, I can continue to tithe on what little income I have left based on my faith in God to provide for me. But that doesn't mean I can't weigh the pros and cons of saving the money versus donating it. It doesn't mean I can't critically analyze the situation. The same with a pregnant teen; she could decide to keep the baby based on her faith, even though she can still weigh all the pros and cons.
Weighing the pros and cons is rational thinking, critical thinking is orders of magnitude more complex. The wiki does a pretty good job of describing it, although they are using the word belief much more broadly than it has generally been used in this thread.

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:14 pm UTC

Life is getting in the way of the message boards, so I won't be able to post again for 2-3 days. I have a little time now, but not a lot. Greyarcher, I can't whip out a post to you very quickly, so it will have to wait until later. DSenette, I'll have to be brief. Zcorp, I just saw your message, so it will have to wait as well.

DSenette wrote:so, what is the purpose of the continuation of the OT in biblical study? What purpose do these sections of the OT serve to modern Christian religions? what about the groups of Christians that DON'T read it the way you've read it and DO uphold the OT laws (if only in word and not in action), such as the groups that follow the command to take up serpents? or speak in tongues? etc..?

First, speaking in tongues and taking up serpents are both referenced in the gospel of Mark. But to the broader point, the OT is part of the story of the Christian God and is thus still relevant. It's similar to how a story of you in your younger days and how you related to your parents still matters to you. And just because your parents had rules then that don't apply anymore, they probably still imparted wisdom that is very much still relevant.

DSenette wrote:but if being born the way you were born is a sin (which, i think we can agree, that no matter how you're reading the bible, most christians would agree that at least some aspect of homosexuality is a sin of some kind) how can you actually atone for that? how does one consolidate the concept that we're all "made in his image", but some people were "made" in such a way as to be born "away from him"?

First of all, we're all born into sin and are thus separated from God. The OT had ways to rectify this, but the NT method is to allow Jesus to bridge the gap.

Second, being born with temptation to sin is par for the course. Even Jesus was tempted. It's how we respond to that temptation that matters. So there's nothing in the Bible that places gays lower than anyone else. The notion of sexual identity didn't exist back then, so the Bible is clearly not weighing in on the morality of that.

Third, I think a lot of the animosity from the conservative side is aimed at people that want to change the culture, not simply individuals that want to have sex any way they want. Most (based on my experience) don't actually hate gay people and don't want to see them persecuted at all. They just want gay culture to be a separate thing, separate from mainstream. (From their perspective this separation is more akin to the swinger sub-culture where people choose to join, rather than black subculture where your skin color restricts you from joining white culture.) Of course, this still gives shelter to people that really do harbor hatred, and regardless of hatred, it marginalizes people that embrace this culture. So I'm not arguing that it's not harmful, but I dispute that it's a movement based on hate. And I believe the particularly strong presence of the anti-gay movement in politics is based on our current cultural and political climate, not because there's scriptural support to see homosexuality as a special evil. There's no good Biblical reason to believe that homosexuality is worse than any other unrepentant, sinful lifestyle, but we accept many others into our culture and systems of laws without even raising a political eyebrow (or maybe it's more accurate to say that the time for raising political eyebrows has come and gone).

----

Well, that wasn't very brief. :) But that's all the time I have for the next few days.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

DSenette
Posts: 2418
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:08 pm UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DSenette » Tue Dec 21, 2010 8:41 pm UTC

guenther wrote:Life is getting in the way of the message boards, so I won't be able to post again for 2-3 days. I have a little time now, but not a lot. Greyarcher, I can't whip out a post to you very quickly, so it will have to wait until later. DSenette, I'll have to be brief. Zcorp, I just saw your message, so it will have to wait as well.

DSenette wrote:so, what is the purpose of the continuation of the OT in biblical study? What purpose do these sections of the OT serve to modern Christian religions? what about the groups of Christians that DON'T read it the way you've read it and DO uphold the OT laws (if only in word and not in action), such as the groups that follow the command to take up serpents? or speak in tongues? etc..?

First, speaking in tongues and taking up serpents are both referenced in the gospel of Mark. But to the broader point, the OT is part of the story of the Christian God and is thus still relevant. It's similar to how a story of you in your younger days and how you related to your parents still matters to you. And just because your parents had rules then that don't apply anymore, they probably still imparted wisdom that is very much still relevant.
i'll give that a fair enough, when referencing people who treat the book as such. but obviously there are those that take it word for word.

guenther wrote:
DSenette wrote:but if being born the way you were born is a sin (which, i think we can agree, that no matter how you're reading the bible, most christians would agree that at least some aspect of homosexuality is a sin of some kind) how can you actually atone for that? how does one consolidate the concept that we're all "made in his image", but some people were "made" in such a way as to be born "away from him"?

First of all, we're all born into sin and are thus separated from God. The OT had ways to rectify this, but the NT method is to allow Jesus to bridge the gap.
my understanding of original sin (from 18+ years of catholic upbringing) suggests that we're born with "generalized sin" not specific sin. we're born with the sin of adam/eve from the betrayal in the garden etc... not like, we're all born with murder as the sin that follows us around, or adultery, etc...

based on basically all mainstream christian teachings, homosexuality is in one way or another a sin (on the extreme end, just being homosexual is a sin. on the lighter end, participating in homosexual acts is a sin). it's been scientifically proven that homosexuality isn't a choice.

so, has homosexuality replaced the sins of adam/eve as the sin homosexuals have been born with? or do they now have to atone for both? how would a homosexual overcome the sin they were born with? how does jesus bridge that gap? what is the approved path for the homosexual to get to heaven/the graces of god? (i'm clearly looking for your opinion here and not an edict on behalf of all of christianity)

guenther wrote:Second, being born with temptation to sin is par for the course. Even Jesus was tempted. It's how we respond to that temptation that matters. So there's nothing in the Bible that places gays lower than anyone else. The notion of sexual identity didn't exist back then, so the Bible is clearly not weighing in on the morality of that.
to combine this with the above snippet. i would imagine that the answer is: as long as the homosexual never actually IS homosexual (e.g. participates in homosexual sex) then they aren't committing a sin. does that extend to non sexual but clearly more than platonic relationships between homosexuals? like, a guy professes his love for another guy, that guy agrees, and they just kind of hang out being in love but never having sex? is that still a sin, as it would be considered homosexuality? where would masturbation fit in? if you're having homosexual fantasies and that's what works for your personal time, but you never have sex with someone of your own gender?

guenther wrote:Third, I think a lot of the animosity from the conservative side is aimed at people that want to change the culture, not simply individuals that want to have sex any way they want. Most (based on my experience) don't actually hate gay people and don't want to see them persecuted at all.

so, restricting someone's civil rights doesn't count as persecution?

guenther wrote:They just want gay culture to be a separate thing, separate from mainstream. (From their perspective this separation is more akin to the swinger sub-culture where people choose to join, rather than black subculture where your skin color restricts you from joining white culture.)
i'm not sure how i see the two as different. people "typically" choose to be swingers, and everyone in the swinger sub-culture consents to being a swinger. so why should the swinger sub-culture be separated from mainstream culture in any way? most people aren't advocating for polygamy because most people don't participate in polygamy. and many of the polyamorous don't particularly care for marriage to begin with. not to say that swingers are by definition polyamorous or polygamist, just adding those to the fray. What social reasons are there to have these groups segregated in any way?

neither blacks, nor homosexuals choose to be black or homosexual (or heaven forbid black and homosexual). so adding them to a group of choice/consent doesn't seem quite fitting.

guenther wrote:Of course, this still gives shelter to people that really do harbor hatred, and regardless of hatred, it marginalizes people that embrace this culture. So I'm not arguing that it's not harmful, but I dispute that it's a movement based on hate.
you say tomato......there are different levels of hate, and different uses of the word. hate can be running around in a sheet lighting crosses in lawns, or it can be the subtle eye of disgust.

guenther wrote:And I believe the particularly strong presence of the anti-gay movement in politics is based on our current cultural and political climate, not because there's scriptural support to see homosexuality as a special evil.

i really do have to disagree here. all of the people who are fighting against gay marriage at the moment are doing so directly from the side of religion. they're only arguments ever presented against it are religious and scripturally based. to my knowledge there has not been one single argument against homosexuality or gay marriage ever put forth that wasn't religiously based. if you can find one, please let me see it.
guenther wrote:There's no good Biblical reason to believe that homosexuality is worse than any other unrepentant, sinful lifestyle, but we accept many others into our culture and systems of laws without even raising a political eyebrow (or maybe it's more accurate to say that the time for raising political eyebrows has come and gone).

.....i really have to facepalm the bolded part. I guess go back to the first few sets of questions? i have trouble responding to the whole "sinful lifestyle" thing without being emotional about it because the concept fills me with abject rage. it's like suggesting that someone born with autism (assuming autism was accepted in a religion as a sin...which, at one point, in some religions it would have been) should just quit being autistic and then god would love them again and they'd get to go to heaven.
----

guenther wrote:Well, that wasn't very brief. :) But that's all the time I have for the next few days.

good luck with your other things, hopefully it's nothing too serious.
The Righteous Hand Of Retribution
"The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place." ~Andre Codresu (re: "the Rapture")

Jonolith
Posts: 137
Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2008 12:45 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Jonolith » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:23 am UTC

Hey everyone, I used to post on here years ago before life occurred, and I figured I'd jump back in. Glad to see that Religious conversation still happens, and I hope to join in and have some thoughtful discussion. The last time I was here I had alot of my own views challenged, and hopefully challenged others.

I will admit, I haven't been able to sift through alot of what's going on, so please bear with me if it seems like I've missed something. I probably did! :(

Also, just to be entirely clear, I always argue on the side of Religion, as I believe it to be indispensable to Humanity. However, I refuse to allow anyone to lump those who are Religious in with those who are Fundamentalists.

Christianity dictates, in unambiguous terms, that homosexuality is wrong/an abomination unto the lord.


This, to me, represents a fairly large misunderstanding of how Religious conversation works, and yet it also represents a fairly common belief held by most people in regards to Religion. This belief is simply "Religion is Unchangeable."

It cannot be denied that there is certainly a Religious attitude in today's Religious culture that fights against the Homosexual movement. However, it is incredibly naive to say that a large swath of people dictate unambiguously that homosexuality is wrong simply based upon a title that they may or may not hold. The Anglican Church, for example, fall under the category of "Christian" and yet are extremely friendly to the Homosexual movement. Simply saying that "All Christians Hate Gays" only weakens any other point you would care to make against Christianity.

What is more fair to say is that there is a movement within Christianity that opposes homosexuality. These movements are largely in the minority, and are largely comprised of the Fundamentalists that exist in their respective Sects. (Catholic, Protestant and otherwise.) Unfortunately, we do live in an age where these are also the people who are the most vocal, and receive the most coverage on television.

What ends up being far more helpful to the actual conversation is, rather then becoming confrontational with an entire group of people, IE: The entire Christian Faith, become incredibly specific in regards to why Fundamentalist's own logic fails using their own texts. Remember, there are many people within Christianity who believe that Homosexuality is as normal as Heterosexuality, and who bow to St. Augustine's call that Religion should always give way to Scientific pursuits, and that the Bible is a text that is only as useful as those who are interpreting it.

On this specific issue; (and I admit that there are many issues being thrown around in here, which I hope to speak on in the future) The foundation of the Anti-Gay movement lays within Leviticus. The only actual direct mention of Anti-Homosexuality is in Leviticus 18:22. "Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is an abomination." (As a note: This is reprized in Lev 20:13, but only in order to dispense punishment.)

Now, that appears to be very clear condemnation of Homosexuality from the Christian perspective, if we assume that Religion must be stagnant and incapable of change. However, there are multiple counter-arguments and points that must be considered from within the text itself.

1) Leviticus was written by the Mosaic Jews for the Mosaic Jews. This is to say that it is a set of Laws that apply to a specific group of people who are in a specific situation. The Jews, at this time, are wandering in the desert, lost and living day by day. It is 100% survival at this stage. To put it as bluntly as possible, it is a culture that simply cannot afford the luxury of Homosexuality. They need babies. They need as many babies as they can have.

2) How does one have sexual relations with a woman in Mosaic Culture? It is clear, by the numerous other passages, that women are considered property, according to the law. (Which, before that statement descends into madness, is actually a step up from where they were before.) Doesn't that imply that perhaps this law is speaking more to making men, or to put it another way, making equals subservient to you bad? Does this law say "Homosexuality is bad" or does this law say "Making an equal your slave is bad?"

3) Most Fundamentalists try hard to not talk about Rape as an issue. They would prefer to think that when people say "Sexual impurity" in the Bible, they are talking about Kissing, rather then Rape. In Leviticus the punishment for rape is a fine, paid to the father or husband, or the father may force the rapist to marry his daughter. This is because raping women is common in this society. (Please note that before this law, there was literally no repercussion beyond going to war.) It is not a stretch to think that Lev 18:22 is stating that men should not rape other men.

What I am attempting to illustrate here is that it is not a cut and dry issue, as much as some people want it to be, and by making it seem like it is, you do a disservice to yourself, and to the topic at hand. I haven't even begun to talk about the Scientific evidence we have available, as well as the mountains and mountains of social evidence. My goal is to simply show that, even within the Faith itself, it is a continuous and ongoing discussion that evolves and grows.

You are welcome to decry those Christians who withhold the Rights of Homosexuality from said Homosexuals, but you are mistaken when you lump every Christian into that category simply because it suits you.

The issues are sticky. Don't pretend they aren't.

DSenette
Posts: 2418
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:08 pm UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DSenette » Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:38 pm UTC

with regards to your re-entry into the fray, i have mentioned time and time again that i'm not arguing against moderates but extremes. it would take a lot of extra typing to single groups out each time i walk up to the keyboard.

on to addressing your post in a general fashion. whilst the loudest voices of anti-homosexual rhetoric come from the fundamentalists, it's also unfair for you to state that they're the only ones who harbor religion based anti-homosexual sentiments. i know and interact with many religious people, some of them are fundamentalists (mostly southern baptist), a lot of them are moderates, and some are armchair religious. each group has their own percentage of people who are anti-homosexual, and typically, those that are anti-homosexual are staunchly so.

when asked why, the fundamentalists cite direct lines from the bible (Including the one you cite). the moderates say its "unnatural in god's eyes" without citation, and the armchairs typically just say that it's bad.

for many people, religion is changeable, but for a good portion it's not. some people don't want it to change because it suits them just fine.

so, while you are entitled to your version of religion, and your views on religion and your application there of. it's equally as damaging to your side of the argument to suggest that everyone in religion feels the same as it is for my side to suggest that all religious people are bigots.


just like any other group of people with similarities, it's very difficult for people within the group to see or admit when someone in your group is making you all look like assholes. IF it's just the fundamentalists that are being assholes, then why aren't the rest of you standing up and being just as loud to defend yourselves against their idiocy filtering through your collective? Some regional/local pastors/priests/clergyfolk have been doing this in their own areas, but if you really want people to stop lumping you all together then you guys need to come up with a loud and unified voice against these other people.
The Righteous Hand Of Retribution
"The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place." ~Andre Codresu (re: "the Rapture")

User avatar
Phill
Posts: 226
Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2008 4:36 pm UTC
Location: Colchester, UK
Contact:

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Phill » Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:51 pm UTC

Jonolith wrote: On this specific issue; (and I admit that there are many issues being thrown around in here, which I hope to speak on in the future) The foundation of the Anti-Gay movement lays within Leviticus. The only actual direct mention of Anti-Homosexuality is in Leviticus 18:22. "Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is an abomination." (As a note: This is reprized in Lev 20:13, but only in order to dispense punishment.)


There are passages in the New Testament which also deal with homosexuality. Romans 1 springs to mind, but there are others. The issue I have is that the command against homosexual practice seems to be repeated and confirmed in the New Testament letters.

Now I 100% agree with what you said, "The issues are sticky", and I'm far from decided on this myself. At the moment I just can't get away from the fact that I honestly think the Bible is prohibitive of homosexual sex - but I'm definitely open for discussion on that one :)

Just wanted to pick up on something that guenther wrote:

guenther wrote:First, speaking in tongues and taking up serpents are both referenced in the gospel of Mark. But to the broader point, the OT is part of the story of the Christian God and is thus still relevant. It's similar to how a story of you in your younger days and how you related to your parents still matters to you. And just because your parents had rules then that don't apply anymore, they probably still imparted wisdom that is very much still relevant.


I just wanted to add to that - I think it's impossible to understand the New Testament correctly without reference to the Old. Or at least, impossible to understand fully. When Jesus instigated the Lord's Supper, he said "this is my blood of the covenant". He was identifying himself with the passover lamb of the Israelites. He was "the lamb that was slain". You couldn't understand that properly without reference to the Old Testament.

The more I read and study the OT, the more I realise that it really is all pointing forward to Christ. I don't think God changes, and I think you can see his hand in the OT the same as you can in the new. (I'm studying a unit at the moment from the Moore College, Sydney which is called 'Promise to Fulfilment' - basically it's about Biblical Theology: seeing each part of the Bible in relation to the whole salvation narrative. It's very interesting, but I digress).

I think the point is, the Bible needs to be taken together, as a whole, otherwise you're at risk of misunderstanding something.

DSenette
Posts: 2418
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:08 pm UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DSenette » Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:21 pm UTC

this link is mainly for guenther. i know i said i'd keep off the parenting bit, but, this post on the secular parenting blog that i linked earlier illustrates perfectly my whole concept/point on the parenting tip. that allowing your child the chance to think things through on their own, asking questions, and getting sound, reasonable, unbiased answers is extremely effective and much more rewarding/productive than force feeding them anything.
The Righteous Hand Of Retribution
"The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place." ~Andre Codresu (re: "the Rapture")

Jonolith
Posts: 137
Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2008 12:45 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Jonolith » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:46 pm UTC

with regards to your re-entry into the fray, i have mentioned time and time again that i'm not arguing against moderates but extremes. it would take a lot of extra typing to single groups out each time i walk up to the keyboard.


This is a fair statement. I simply urge extreme caution as it is easy to lump groups together, and have those who read anti-extreme religious comments simply as anti-religious comments.

when asked why, the fundamentalists cite direct lines from the bible (Including the one you cite). the moderates say its "unnatural in god's eyes" without citation, and the armchairs typically just say that it's bad.

for many people, religion is changeable, but for a good portion it's not. some people don't want it to change because it suits them just fine.


This is, more or less, agreeing with my over arcing point. I agree with you that there are groups that exist in religious bodies that believe Homosexuality is wrong. I believe the majority of those groups are Fundamentalist in their mindsets, or simply haven’t bothered thinking about what they have to say, which is usually the case. I would say that anyone who doesn’t bother bringing up direct scriptural evidence is someone who hasn’t put in any effort into the conversation, and is truly a person who we can ultimately ignore.

so, while you are entitled to your version of religion, and your views on religion and your application there of. it's equally as damaging to your side of the argument to suggest that everyone in religion feels the same as it is for my side to suggest that all religious people are bigots.


I actually said the exact opposite of this. It would be foolish to believe that everyone believes everything that everyone else does at all times.

just like any other group of people with similarities, it's very difficult for people within the group to see or admit when someone in your group is making you all look like assholes. IF it's just the fundamentalists that are being assholes, then why aren't the rest of you standing up and being just as loud to defend yourselves against their idiocy filtering through your collective? Some regional/local pastors/priests/clergyfolk have been doing this in their own areas, but if you really want people to stop lumping you all together then you guys need to come up with a loud and unified voice against these other people.


I could not agree with this statement more. In truth, the Athiest community has been the most helpful group when it comes to weeding out those of the Fundamentalist mindset. It’s simply easier for someone who has decided to disconnect themselves from any religious organization to turn around and lambast those organizations. People of the faith still have to live with those people who exist in their faith.

That said, there are those who are doing precisely what you’re saying. Again, on this issue, I speak to the Anglican Church as a faith based organization that is fighting very hard to allow Homosexuals the rights they deserve.
There are passages in the New Testament which also deal with homosexuality. Romans 1 springs to mind, but there are others. The issue I have is that the command against homosexual practice seems to be repeated and confirmed in the New Testament letters.

Romans 1:26-27: "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly...

This is the exact verse you’re thinking of. I agree with you that it does support the argument that Christianity is against Homosexuality. However, I would argue that it could also be used as a support against Rape. I say over and over that the Fundamentalist community works very hard to not use these verses as support for an anti-rape agenda, but rather an anti-gay agenda.

Would you say that Rape is Natural?

And again, we have to remember the type of Culture that this verse is written in. Child Sex Slaves are fairly common. Man Sex Slaves are common. Why is this verse automatically assumed to apply to consensual, loving sex between sex same couples and not rape and slavery, which is the more common occurrence in this culture?
At the moment I just can't get away from the fact that I honestly think the Bible is prohibitive of homosexual sex


I think it is insofar as what it believes homosexuality is. I do not believe, for a single moment, that the authors of the Bible ever believed in a consensual loving union between two same sex people. I believe that, faced with that truth, they would have to support it using the arguments of love and kindness towards one another that they themselves use. What I strongly believe they are seeing is a Man grabbing another Man and dominating him in a sexual fashion for their own pleasures, or “Lusts” and saying “That ain’t right.” Which is something I think we can all agree with.

I think the point is, the Bible needs to be taken together, as a whole, otherwise you're at risk of misunderstanding something.


There is one thing that I think needs to be interjected into this conversation. I believe Religious conversation does itself a disservice when it begins to speak about “God’s Hand” in specific texts. This isn’t to say that there are not texts in the world that supersede our usual understanding, but rather to encourage the idea that these texts are indeed written by man in order to reach an understanding of something that is un-understandable.

I get extremely skeptical of people, on all sides of the conversation, who try to use verses in a literal fashion, as if they were written by God. The idea that God is a man that exists in the manner that we understand existence does the idea of a higher being is, I believe, a disservice. All texts, Christian or otherwise, have been written by mankind in order to better understand something that cannot be understood. That is the heart of Religion. Too often we try to play the Scientific game with Religion without realizing that the rules of science do not apply to Religion, and vice versa.

nitePhyyre
Posts: 1280
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:31 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby nitePhyyre » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:52 pm UTC

A) Apologies, this is exceptionally long.
B) Man, you guys are quick. I turn around and BOOM(headshot), 2 pages of posts to read.
C) I actually had a lot more, but Zcorp basically said everything I was going to say. He was also said it all without being a jerk. I'm still working on that part.

guenther wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:Love your neighbor is the golden rule.

They're not the same thing. Just because the Golden Rule shows up in the Bible doesn't make it the same as "Love your neighbor". Plus, they logically mean different things. Anyway, this is beside the point, so I don't want to spend much more time on it.

Yes it is.
nitePhyyre wrote:
Wiki on the Golden Rule wrote:Christianity adopted the golden rule from two edicts, found in Leviticus 19:18 ("Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.", see also Great Commandment) and Leviticus 19:34 ("But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God"). Leviticus 19:34 universalizes the edict of Leviticus 19:18 from "one of your people" to all of humankind.

In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus is quoting from Lev. 19:18. So you just tried to refute what I said by repeating me. My take on the matter is that Love your neighbor, turn the other cheek, and always forgive under any circumstances, are the extent of Jesus's moral teachings. Do you agree/disagree? Am I missing something?

Hmmm, according to Wikipedia's article on 'turn the other cheek', one interpretation is "be a passive-aggressive asshole". My world is shook.

guenther wrote:It didn't answer my question. You've shown that in a game, being nice can be detrimental to success...
Let me stop you right there. Do you even bother to read what I post? Let's try this again.
nitePhyyre wrote:A cursory glance at the Prisoner's Dilemma wiki page would answer most of the citations you asked for. Maybe you should put in an iota of effort to actually learn a bit about the subject you were going to respond to? No? Too lazy? Fine, I'll point you in the right direction.
Prisoner's Dilemma wrote:Axelrod discovered that when these encounters were repeated over a long period of time with many players, each with different strategies, greedy strategies tended to do very poorly in the long run while more altruistic strategies did better, as judged purely by self-interest. He used this to show a possible mechanism for the evolution of altruistic behaviour from mechanisms that are initially purely selfish, by natural selection.
The best deterministic strategy was found to be tit for tat, which Anatol Rapoport developed and entered into the tournament. [...] The strategy is simply to cooperate on the first iteration of the game; after that, the player does what his or her opponent did on the previous move. Depending on the situation, a slightly better strategy can be "tit for tat with forgiveness." When the opponent defects, on the next move, the player sometimes cooperates anyway, with a small probability (around 1–5%). This allows for occasional recovery from getting trapped in a cycle of defections. The exact probability depends on the line-up of opponents.
By analysing the top-scoring strategies, Axelrod stated several conditions necessary for a strategy to be successful.
Nice
The most important condition is that the strategy must be "nice", that is, it will not defect before its opponent does (this is sometimes referred to as an "optimistic" algorithm). Almost all of the top-scoring strategies were nice; therefore a purely selfish strategy will not "cheat" on its opponent, for purely utilitarian reasons first.

Retaliating
However, Axelrod contended, the successful strategy must not be a blind optimist. It must sometimes retaliate. An example of a non-retaliating strategy is Always Cooperate. This is a very bad choice, as "nasty" strategies will ruthlessly exploit such players.
Forgiving
Successful strategies must also be forgiving. Though players will retaliate, they will once again fall back to cooperating if the opponent does not continue to defect. This stops long runs of revenge and counter-revenge, maximizing points.
Non-envious
The last quality is being non-envious, that is not striving to score more than the opponent (impossible for a ‘nice’ strategy, i.e., a 'nice' strategy can never score more than the opponent).
I actually said that being nice is neceesary for success.
ok, Let's continue.
guenther wrote:...And I've already agreed to that. In politics, loving your enemy will hurt your ability to be politically successful. The problem with applying the Prisoner's Dilemma is that in the game there's a very clear objective, but in real life, simply winning in politics doesn't make the world better. Real life is more complicated, and I still claim that you haven't shown that under real-world circumstances we are better served by promoting the value of tit-for-tat rather than love your neighbor. And while I'll be open-minded about any citations you offer, I suspect you'll have difficulty because this is an enormously difficult thing to study, and I don't think our current science is capable of answering it.
Wiki on Game Theory wrote:Game theory is a branch of applied mathematics that is used in the social sciences, most notably in economics, as well as in biology (particularly evolutionary biology and ecology), engineering, political science, international relations, computer science, social psychology, and philosophy.

It is applicable in more than just politics. There is actually a short list of non-political manifestations of the PD on the same wiki page you claimed to have read. You use the word 'game' to describe game theory in the same way creationists use the word 'theory' to describe evolution. In general, your dismissal of the real world applicability of game theory quite telling. Here we have a science that conflicts with religious teachings, and a religious believer mis-characterizing and denying an entire field of scientific pursuit. Your religious belief may hinge on different aspects of the teachings, but when it comes down to it, you're no different than a creationist.

And where the hell did I say that winning an election will solve all the world's problems?? That's an absurd straw man.

guenther wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:Evil is partaking in or the promotion of non-optimal moral solutions over known better solutions.

Well, since I reject your premise, I suppose I can ignore your conclusion. However, let me ask you how you know how one moral solution is more optimal than another? If you think you know the answer, either you know something amazing or you're simply deluding yourself (or you define "optimal" in some subjective way that is not very helpful to other people).

Thanks for rejecting my definition out of hand without suggesting something better. Very. Helpful.
How do You define evil?

guenther wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:How do we tell which tool to use and when?

Regarding which tool, I use Christianity as my guide to living life and I trust in science to provide me answers to how the world around me works. (This isn't absolutist, by the way. For example, I might aim to take various medical findings on diet and exercise into my lifestyle.)

So you use science when you can, and default to religion when science doesn't seem to give the answer you are looking for? Considering the importance you have been placing on knowing when to use each tool, this answer is completely useless.

guenther wrote:As for wisdom, there's lots. Last week my church had a sermon on Biblical advise for dealing with troublesome family members around the holidays, and this is a particularly important concern for me.

Did the sermon recommend stoning the family member to death by the rest of the village peolpe?
guenther wrote:And in the past I've sat through sermons that went through all of the fruits of the spirit.
Hmm, I'm impressed. I've never heard of that before. Is it part of Catholic doctrine? I don't see how it is a moral lesson to be taken from the bible though. With lines like...
This means 'joy' is not a human-based happiness that comes and goes...Rather, true 'joy' is divine in origin...it is a Spirit-given expression that flourishes best in hard times.
The Holy Spirit removes abrasive qualities from the character of one under His control
It's not always easy to be faithful. It takes trust in God.
... it seems to indicate that the virtues of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are attainable only through the holy spirit. Now consider that love, kindness, joy, and self-control are often attributes that people believe are unique to humans, that these virtues are what separates humans from animals. In this context it seems teaching that all non-believers are subhuman is a very immoral teaching.

guenther wrote:I took a financial class where we went through what the Bible said about money. And I even took a class on sexual purity. Now this one will sound controversial, but it was aimed at straight, married men, so nothing in there should really raise alarms (i.e. it wasn't about abstinence before marriage or sexual orientation). And aside from just the Bible, being involved weekly with other people (at church and Bible study) has really helped keep me going on a healthy path and accountable to people that share my same values. And it gives me a lot of opportunities to provide loving support to people around me since my church is very involved in doing community projects.

I'd love to know what financial lesson were taken from the bible, as Jesus was a communist. I know for a long time christians were forbidden from loaning money at any interest because it was considered usury, I could get behind that. And what exactly did they say about sexual purity? These have been exceedingly vague answers to "What wisdom can one take away from the bible?". In fact, this whole exercise was nothing more than you dodging the question. If you are going to say that
guenther wrote:The book has lots of wisdom on how to live life
you have to defend that statement with specific quotes, not vague statements of "It's in there I promise".

guenther wrote:
DSenette wrote:if you are to be a "good" christian, you also have to hold this belief, unquestionably. which means that you don't have the choice to decide that your best buddy karl is still an OK kind of guy, even though he's gay.

No, it means you must accept that Karl is not following God's will. You and many others conflate two related concepts, (A) What we should do, and (B) How we should respond when others don't do it. The Bible doesn't say "Fuck Karl for being gay". It should theoretically be more problematic if Karl were an atheist since that's violating the first rule in Christianity, which is to love God. The fact that it's often not reflects in my opinion our current political climate. The Conservative team has drawn a line in the sand regarding homosexuality, and then team game mentality ensues. And I find this both sad and damaging.

By the way, not every Christian sees homosexuality the same way.

Stop. Just stop. Do you have any idea what you are even talking about? Of course, it doesn't say to fuck him, that's what got him into this problem in the first place. The bible says to kill him.
Leviticus 20:13 wrote:If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

This isn't people conflating what the bible says with what what we should do. It is not a case where the bible says X is wrong, and people take it upon themselves to do something about 'x', stop pretending it is. This is pure and simple. The bible advocates murdering gays. There is no interpretation needed.

Jonolith wrote: 1) Leviticus was written by the Mosaic Jews for the Mosaic Jews. This is to say that it is a set of Laws that apply to a specific group of people who are in a specific situation. The Jews, at this time, are wandering in the desert, lost and living day by day. It is 100% survival at this stage. To put it as bluntly as possible, it is a culture that simply cannot afford the luxury of Homosexuality. They need babies. They need as many babies as they can have.

Good attempt at apologetics.
Matthew 5:17-20 wrote: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 16:17 wrote:It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.

Mark 7:9-10 wrote:And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe[a] your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’[b] and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’


Jonolith wrote:2) How does one have sexual relations with a woman in Mosaic Culture? It is clear, by the numerous other passages, that women are considered property, according to the law. (Which, before that statement descends into madness, is actually a step up from where they were before.) Doesn't that imply that perhaps this law is speaking more to making men, or to put it another way, making equals subservient to you bad? Does this law say "Homosexuality is bad" or does this law say "Making an equal your slave is bad?"

3) Most Fundamentalists try hard to not talk about Rape as an issue. They would prefer to think that when people say "Sexual impurity" in the Bible, they are talking about Kissing, rather then Rape. In Leviticus the punishment for rape is a fine, paid to the father or husband, or the father may force the rapist to marry his daughter. This is because raping women is common in this society. (Please note that before this law, there was literally no repercussion beyond going to war.) It is not a stretch to think that Lev 18:22 is stating that men should not rape other men.

Regarding 2, no, It definitely is not talking about subservience. Look at the text surrounding this line.
Spoiler:
Leviticus 20 wrote: 1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing in Israel who sacrifices any of his children to Molek is to be put to death. The members of the community are to stone him. 3 I myself will set my face against him and will cut him off from his people; for by sacrificing his children to Molek, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. 4 If the members of the community close their eyes when that man sacrifices one of his children to Molek and if they fail to put him to death, 5 I myself will set my face against him and his family and will cut them off from their people together with all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molek.
6 “‘I will set my face against anyone who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute themselves by following them, and I will cut them off from their people.

7 “‘Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the LORD your God. 8 Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the LORD, who makes you holy.

9 “‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head.

10 “‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.

11 “‘If a man has sexual relations with his father’s wife, he has dishonored his father. Both the man and the woman are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

12 “‘If a man has sexual relations with his daughter-in-law, both of them are to be put to death. What they have done is a perversion; their blood will be on their own heads.

13 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

14 “‘If a man marries both a woman and her mother, it is wicked. Both he and they must be burned in the fire, so that no wickedness will be among you.

15 “‘If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he is to be put to death, and you must kill the animal.

16 “‘If a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

17 “‘If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or his mother, and they have sexual relations, it is a disgrace. They are to be publicly removed from their people. He has dishonored his sister and will be held responsible.

18 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a woman during her monthly period, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them are to be cut off from their people.

19 “‘Do not have sexual relations with the sister of either your mother or your father, for that would dishonor a close relative; both of you would be held responsible.

20 “‘If a man has sexual relations with his aunt, he has dishonored his uncle. They will be held responsible; they will die childless.

21 “‘If a man marries his brother’s wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother. They will be childless.

22 “‘Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. 23 You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them. 24 But I said to you, “You will possess their land; I will give it to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am the LORD your God, who has set you apart from the nations.

25 “‘You must therefore make a distinction between clean and unclean animals and between unclean and clean birds. Do not defile yourselves by any animal or bird or anything that moves along the ground—those that I have set apart as unclean for you. 26 You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.

27 “‘A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.’”
Its all sex, baby.

As for 3, are you implying that god, the almighty and perfect creator of the universe, misspoke? Cause mixing up 'sex' and 'rape' is a pretty huge fucking mistake. And it is also a mighty looooooong stretch.
sourmìlk wrote:Monopolies are not when a single company controls the market for a single product.

You don't become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard you become great in the process.

DSenette
Posts: 2418
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:08 pm UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DSenette » Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:14 pm UTC

Jonolith wrote:
when asked why, the fundamentalists cite direct lines from the bible (Including the one you cite). the moderates say its "unnatural in god's eyes" without citation, and the armchairs typically just say that it's bad.

for many people, religion is changeable, but for a good portion it's not. some people don't want it to change because it suits them just fine.


This is, more or less, agreeing with my over arcing point. I agree with you that there are groups that exist in religious bodies that believe Homosexuality is wrong. I believe the majority of those groups are Fundamentalist in their mindsets, or simply haven’t bothered thinking about what they have to say, which is usually the case. I would say that anyone who doesn’t bother bringing up direct scriptural evidence is someone who hasn’t put in any effort into the conversation, and is truly a person who we can ultimately ignore.
why in the world would you ignore someone who's ability to disregard understanding of the things they believe makes your entire subset of humanity look stupid? the people you're talking about ignoring are making laws in our country right now.

as to stating that MOST religious people who thing homosexuality is wrong are fundamentalists, i think you're a bit off base. the ones that talk about it on TV are fundamentalists, the ones that teach their children in their homes that homosexuality is wrong are quite frequently not.

Jonolith wrote:
There are passages in the New Testament which also deal with homosexuality. Romans 1 springs to mind, but there are others. The issue I have is that the command against homosexual practice seems to be repeated and confirmed in the New Testament letters.

Romans 1:26-27: "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly...

This is the exact verse you’re thinking of. I agree with you that it does support the argument that Christianity is against Homosexuality. However, I would argue that it could also be used as a support against Rape. I say over and over that the Fundamentalist community works very hard to not use these verses as support for an anti-rape agenda, but rather an anti-gay agenda.

Would you say that Rape is Natural?
you "could" say that it's being used as support against rape, but, it's not. it's also far from the only time homosexuality is mentioned/prohibited in the bible (check nightfyyre's post).

Jonolith wrote: And again, we have to remember the type of Culture that this verse is written in. Child Sex Slaves are fairly common. Man Sex Slaves are common. Why is this verse automatically assumed to apply to consensual, loving sex between sex same couples and not rape and slavery, which is the more common occurrence in this culture?
At the moment I just can't get away from the fact that I honestly think the Bible is prohibitive of homosexual sex


I think it is insofar as what it believes homosexuality is. I do not believe, for a single moment, that the authors of the Bible ever believed in a consensual loving union between two same sex people. I believe that, faced with that truth, they would have to support it using the arguments of love and kindness towards one another that they themselves use. What I strongly believe they are seeing is a Man grabbing another Man and dominating him in a sexual fashion for their own pleasures, or “Lusts” and saying “That ain’t right.” Which is something I think we can all agree with.
uh, you mean the culture that was around when homosexuality was rampant in greece? it's a bit short sighted to suggest that these people had never seen a consensual sexual relationship between two people of the same sex (it's not like homosexuality is a new thing).
Jonolith wrote:
I think the point is, the Bible needs to be taken together, as a whole, otherwise you're at risk of misunderstanding something.


There is one thing that I think needs to be interjected into this conversation. I believe Religious conversation does itself a disservice when it begins to speak about “God’s Hand” in specific texts. This isn’t to say that there are not texts in the world that supersede our usual understanding, but rather to encourage the idea that these texts are indeed written by man in order to reach an understanding of something that is un-understandable.
...i don't know too many Christian religions that don't refer to the bible as "the word of God". the general interpretation of that is that the books were written by man, but their hands were guided by "God". so, either God made a typo, someone made the stuff up, or it's the word of God (and he doesn't like certain people)

Jonolith wrote: I get extremely skeptical of people, on all sides of the conversation, who try to use verses in a literal fashion, as if they were written by God. The idea that God is a man that exists in the manner that we understand existence does the idea of a higher being is, I believe, a disservice. All texts, Christian or otherwise, have been written by mankind in order to better understand something that cannot be understood. That is the heart of Religion. Too often we try to play the Scientific game with Religion without realizing that the rules of science do not apply to Religion, and vice versa.

[/quote]ok, so again, the bible is either a story book, or it's the word of God on paper. can't be both
The Righteous Hand Of Retribution
"The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place." ~Andre Codresu (re: "the Rapture")

Jonolith
Posts: 137
Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2008 12:45 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Jonolith » Thu Dec 23, 2010 7:53 am UTC

Good attempt at apologetics.


I’m not what sure what you’re saying here. I’m simply creating a case in which it is possible to see how the verse may apply in a rational way, and not in a malicious way, as it is often interpreted.

Its all sex, baby.


That is technically true, insofar as they are all acts that are of a sexual nature. To be far more specific however; Verse 10 is Adultery, Verse 11 is Adultery, 12 is a form of incest, 13 is Homosexual Rape, 14 is a form of incest, 15 is bestiality,.. ect. Ect. Ect. All of the verses are involving serious acts that can have serious repercussions, especially in a survivalist society.

As for 3, are you implying that god, the almighty and perfect creator of the universe, misspoke? Cause mixing up 'sex' and 'rape' is a pretty huge fucking mistake. And it is also a mighty looooooong stretch.


I am implying that a group of people wrote the laws of Leviticus and don’t have a word for rape. Even if you choose to believe that God wrote the Bible, you must concede that he is communicating to a group of people using their limited vocabulary. “Rape” is a word that simply did not exist. If it did, it would show up more often throughout the Old Testament.

Also, the idea that a book written in ancient Arabic, translated into Hebrew, translated into Greek, translated into Latin, translated into English is capable of being a “perfect” document is foolish. The very idea of that is incredibly new (Within the last 200 years). The first translated Bibles had several different languages in them specifically to account for any translation difficulties that will most certainly arise, and those that were translating were acutely aware that passages wouldn’t make the transitions well.

More importantly though, the implication here is that God sat down with Moses and hammered out Laws with him as if they were both men capable of direct communication with one another. Or, to put it another way, God is a Scientifically Provable Existent Creature that we must believe talked directly to people at some point. I don’t hold to this idea, and agree with the Atheist community when they say that it is harmful to society.

Far more likely is a group of people wandering the desert formed a document in order to prevent the inner struggles of the community from tearing itself apart. It’s not difficult to imagine the rape of someone’s daughter resulting in the culling of half the tribe.

why in the world would you ignore someone who's ability to disregard understanding of the things they believe makes your entire subset of humanity look stupid? the people you're talking about ignoring are making laws in our country right now.


You misunderstand me. I don’t deny that those people are making laws, but that is only because we have chosen to listen to them. We have taken what they say as truth and refused to follow up their worthless talk with anything. The test against these people is to ask them poignant questions, using their own texts, and when they fail to create a salient argument, to ignore them (IE: Don’t vote for them.)

To be clear, my statement is not to put your hands over your ears and hope they go away, but rather to simply disregard what they have to say as any kind of worth or truth.

you "could" say that it's being used as support against rape, but, it's not. it's also far from the only time homosexuality is mentioned/prohibited in the bible (check nightfyyre's post).


Every time the Bible mentions “Sexual Impurity” or any kind of phrasing in that regard, it is always speaking to non-consensual sex. It’s evident in the culture at the time. Gay Sex during the times of the Romans quite often had very little to do with Love, and more to do with Domination and Control over another human being. Today’s definition of Homosexuality is simply different.

uh, you mean the culture that was around when homosexuality was rampant in greece? it's a bit short sighted to suggest that these people had never seen a consensual sexual relationship between two people of the same sex (it's not like homosexuality is a new thing).


Do you have an example of this? Because there are multiple examples of men raping men. Even in modern times, rape is used as a tool by a man to show dominance over another man. The most familiar use of this exists in prisons.

...i don't know too many Christian religions that don't refer to the bible as "the word of God". the general interpretation of that is that the books were written by man, but their hands were guided by "God". so, either God made a typo, someone made the stuff up, or it's the word of God (and he doesn't like certain people)


This is an incredibly new idea (Within the past 200 years). Prior to that there was an understanding that the Bible was a book written by men about God. The understanding was that man cannot hope to even begin to understand even the idea of God. This was so to the point that in the Tenth Century (I believe?) A jewish philosopher said that “God is Nothing”, and was taken quite seriously.

The focus on Science, however, has thrown the religious community into a loop, as it has begun to try and make Religion Science. The two could not be more at odds, and the more people try to create a scientific religion, the more foolish they look. This is not to say that Religion doesn’t have a place, but it simply must abandon this idea that God is a man who is looking out for us so long as we pray to him. The foundational Christian Theologians didn’t believe that, and neither should we.

For example; the Trinity is taken quite literally by today’s current theological thoughts. That Jesus is literally the Son, and God is literally the father in a tangible sense. However, when the doctrine was created it was widely thought to simply be a reflection of the aspects that people interacted with God. We were to dwell on the idea that Man is the created aspect of God, who is unknowable and unknown.

ok, so again, the bible is either a story book, or it's the word of God on paper. can't be both


This statement is too simple and, frankly, is inadequate. Everything is always made up (Except Math! ;) ). Religion isn’t about finding the concrete specific answer, which is the role of Science. Religion is about delving into the aspects of humanity that do not have the concrete answers. Dealing with Grief, Loss, and Death are fairly prominent themes in Religion throughout history. Today’s modern theology likes to think that they have concrete evidence for things, but they do not, nor should they even try to. That’s simply not their place.

And before you simply laugh me off as a quack, as most who believe Science is the only path will do, please respect that there have been multiple cultures throughout history that hold to the idea that Science and Religion are both equally needed. The Greeks believed in the Logos and the Mythos, and held to the idea that Science had limitations, and where it ended Religion picked up. Early church theologians also held this idea. Buddhism and Hinduism are strongly tied to this way of thinking. The idea that Religion should be able to concretely explain things is incredibly new.

And finally, stories have power. They always have. In a sense, the Bible is a storybook. You can mock Religion for that, if you choose, but the only people who will be offended by that are the people who believe in their texts literally. Everyone else will simply see you mocking them and silently pass you by. Religious Texts are tools used to help people reach understanding, and to communicate with one another using the same language. How else do you attempt to find an understanding of something that is unknowable?

DSenette
Posts: 2418
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:08 pm UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DSenette » Thu Dec 23, 2010 2:06 pm UTC

Jonolith wrote:
As for 3, are you implying that god, the almighty and perfect creator of the universe, misspoke? Cause mixing up 'sex' and 'rape' is a pretty huge fucking mistake. And it is also a mighty looooooong stretch.


I am implying that a group of people wrote the laws of Leviticus and don’t have a word for rape. Even if you choose to believe that God wrote the Bible, you must concede that he is communicating to a group of people using their limited vocabulary. “Rape” is a word that simply did not exist. If it did, it would show up more often throughout the Old Testament.

Also, the idea that a book written in ancient Arabic, translated into Hebrew, translated into Greek, translated into Latin, translated into English is capable of being a “perfect” document is foolish. The very idea of that is incredibly new (Within the last 200 years). The first translated Bibles had several different languages in them specifically to account for any translation difficulties that will most certainly arise, and those that were translating were acutely aware that passages wouldn’t make the transitions well.

More importantly though, the implication here is that God sat down with Moses and hammered out Laws with him as if they were both men capable of direct communication with one another. Or, to put it another way, God is a Scientifically Provable Existent Creature that we must believe talked directly to people at some point. I don’t hold to this idea, and agree with the Atheist community when they say that it is harmful to society.

Far more likely is a group of people wandering the desert formed a document in order to prevent the inner struggles of the community from tearing itself apart. It’s not difficult to imagine the rape of someone’s daughter resulting in the culling of half the tribe.
i think you're applying your rather lenient view of the bible to more groups than it applies to. i know full well that you cannot speak for all christians, and you can only speak for your own beliefs. but i'm here to tell you that the VAST majority of biblically based religions DO, in fact, teach the bible as the direct word of God in one way or another. Most "modern" Christians go with the belief that it was written by dudes that were "inspired" by the word of God, and not taken down as dictation, but it still involves direct communication from God to the writer. This especially holds true for the NT.

so, while you seem to have an "agreeable" view of the scripture and writings in the bible. the majority simply do not.

Jonolith wrote:
why in the world would you ignore someone who's ability to disregard understanding of the things they believe makes your entire subset of humanity look stupid? the people you're talking about ignoring are making laws in our country right now.


You misunderstand me. I don’t deny that those people are making laws, but that is only because we have chosen to listen to them. We have taken what they say as truth and refused to follow up their worthless talk with anything. The test against these people is to ask them poignant questions, using their own texts, and when they fail to create a salient argument, to ignore them (IE: Don’t vote for them.)

To be clear, my statement is not to put your hands over your ears and hope they go away, but rather to simply disregard what they have to say as any kind of worth or truth.
well, here's the point i was going with there. when some jackhole (christine o'donnell or sarah palin) says something that is so wholly unsupported by all but the most fundamentalist of the christian rite, the LOUDEST voices, talking to the LARGEST groups are athiests. Christians (in general) don't like listening to us, even if we're calling out some eejit that's spouting pure crap and they agree with us. IN GENERAL, the christian groups only get up and start yelling when someone in their "group" makes them look stupid directly (like the q'uran burning eejit). all of the people (no matter who they align with) that think these people are stupid and dangerous need to stand up and get a bullhorn because the general population (sorry general population) are idiots and don't know enough to challenge them on their own.


Jonolith wrote:
you "could" say that it's being used as support against rape, but, it's not. it's also far from the only time homosexuality is mentioned/prohibited in the bible (check nightfyyre's post).


Every time the Bible mentions “Sexual Impurity” or any kind of phrasing in that regard, it is always speaking to non-consensual sex. It’s evident in the culture at the time. Gay Sex during the times of the Romans quite often had very little to do with Love, and more to do with Domination and Control over another human being. Today’s definition of Homosexuality is simply different.
this is just laughable, there's NO indication anywhere in any of the passages that i've read that mention non-consensual sex as what they're talking about. you're attributing an ignorance to these people that didn't exist. "comparatively primitive" and "ignorant" are not the same thing.

Rape isn't a new thing, they DEFINITELY had a concept of consensual versus non consensual, there's no logical evidence that i've seen to suggest otherwise. if you've got some historical citations for the concept then i'd love to see them.

homosexual sex between romans and greeks was sometimes done for the purposes of subjugation. but it was generally a pleasure thing. While there was often a power differential involved (i.e. screwing your slaves) it wasn't always so, and the power differential wasn't the purpose of the act (i.e. they weren't saying "look how much better i am than this slave"). Also, it's extremely short sighted to suggest that there were never cases of actual loving homosexual relationships. the likelihood of them being public or even understood by the participants was slim but they occurred.

again, homosexuality (as we know it, as a sexual preference) isn't new, it's not a choice, it's not a learned behavior. there's no evidence what-so-ever that suggests that it didn't occur throughout history. it's just not described in the same language as it is now because it wasn't understood the same way then.

Jonolith wrote:
uh, you mean the culture that was around when homosexuality was rampant in greece? it's a bit short sighted to suggest that these people had never seen a consensual sexual relationship between two people of the same sex (it's not like homosexuality is a new thing).


Do you have an example of this? Because there are multiple examples of men raping men. Even in modern times, rape is used as a tool by a man to show dominance over another man. The most familiar use of this exists in prisons.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_in_ancient_greece you can go ahead and read this.....this talks about love and consensual relationships between men (and between men and boys, and women and women etc.. etc..). while it mentions that typically when two adult males participated in homosexual activities, the passive of the pair was usually stigmatized, but this wasn't because of the homosexual sex, it was because he was now viewed as a woman.

Jonolith wrote:
...i don't know too many Christian religions that don't refer to the bible as "the word of God". the general interpretation of that is that the books were written by man, but their hands were guided by "God". so, either God made a typo, someone made the stuff up, or it's the word of God (and he doesn't like certain people)


This is an incredibly new idea (Within the past 200 years). Prior to that there was an understanding that the Bible was a book written by men about God. The understanding was that man cannot hope to even begin to understand even the idea of God. This was so to the point that in the Tenth Century (I believe?) A jewish philosopher said that “God is Nothing”, and was taken quite seriously.
if i could see citations of the newness of this theory, as i've never heard that as a reference.

one way or another, "newness" or "oldness" of the concept doesn't negate the reality of people currently treating the book as the word of God and using it as such.

Jonolith wrote:The focus on Science, however, has thrown the religious community into a loop, as it has begun to try and make Religion Science. The two could not be more at odds, and the more people try to create a scientific religion, the more foolish they look. This is not to say that Religion doesn’t have a place, but it simply must abandon this idea that God is a man who is looking out for us so long as we pray to him. The foundational Christian Theologians didn’t believe that, and neither should we.

For example; the Trinity is taken quite literally by today’s current theological thoughts. That Jesus is literally the Son, and God is literally the father in a tangible sense. However, when the doctrine was created it was widely thought to simply be a reflection of the aspects that people interacted with God. We were to dwell on the idea that Man is the created aspect of God, who is unknowable and unknown.
this whole section negates the concept that Jesus is the flesh and blood embodiment of God. Or God's Son, born of virgin birth (which, by the way, is a PRETTY HUGE part of christianity). When the "doctrine" of christianity was created, there was a guy standing next to a guy named jesus and that jesus guy supposedly did some crazy shit and said he was the son of god. (i know, technically christianity as it is, didn't actually start until someone wrote this stuff down and started following some apostles, and that AT THE TIME they were all still jewish, but lets just roll with hyperbole).

to suggest that the Jesus "story" was a "concept" pretty much flies in the face of EVERY teaching of christianity. i doubt you'll find too many people on that boat when you get to the dock.

Jonolith wrote:
ok, so again, the bible is either a story book, or it's the word of God on paper. can't be both


This statement is too simple and, frankly, is inadequate. Everything is always made up (Except Math! ;) ). Religion isn’t about finding the concrete specific answer, which is the role of Science. Religion is about delving into the aspects of humanity that do not have the concrete answers. Dealing with Grief, Loss, and Death are fairly prominent themes in Religion throughout history. Today’s modern theology likes to think that they have concrete evidence for things, but they do not, nor should they even try to. That’s simply not their place.
again, this goes back to the fact that i'm not arguing against religion that's done responsibly. i'm mostly angry at the irresponsible religion. your statements on this issue are based in your (non standard) view of your religion. the VAST majority of christians simply don't hold this view. if you suggest that the bible, in it's entirety is fictional and made up solely by the hands of man, you will have A LOT of baptists at your door with pitch forks by the morning.

Jonolith wrote:And before you simply laugh me off as a quack, as most who believe Science is the only path will do, please respect that there have been multiple cultures throughout history that hold to the idea that Science and Religion are both equally needed. The Greeks believed in the Logos and the Mythos, and held to the idea that Science had limitations, and where it ended Religion picked up. Early church theologians also held this idea. Buddhism and Hinduism are strongly tied to this way of thinking. The idea that Religion should be able to concretely explain things is incredibly new.

And finally, stories have power. They always have. In a sense, the Bible is a storybook. You can mock Religion for that, if you choose, but the only people who will be offended by that are the people who believe in their texts literally. Everyone else will simply see you mocking them and silently pass you by. Religious Texts are tools used to help people reach understanding, and to communicate with one another using the same language. How else do you attempt to find an understanding of something that is unknowable?


i'll still argue against the "newness" of any of these concepts, but, whatever

the point still stands that a VERY large portion of religious people do not feel the way you do about this stuff. and those are the ones that are dangerous
The Righteous Hand Of Retribution
"The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place." ~Andre Codresu (re: "the Rapture")

nitePhyyre
Posts: 1280
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:31 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby nitePhyyre » Thu Dec 23, 2010 5:19 pm UTC

Jonolith wrote:That is technically true, insofar as they are all acts that are of a sexual nature. To be far more specific however; Verse 10 is Adultery, Verse 11 is Adultery, 12 is a form of incest, 13 is Homosexual Rape, 14 is a form of incest, 15 is bestiality,.. ect. Ect. Ect. All of the verses are involving serious acts that can have serious repercussions, especially in a survivalist society.

Yes, but none of it is about subservience, which was your claim.

Jonolith wrote:I am implying that a group of people wrote the laws of Leviticus and don’t have a word for rape. Even if you choose to believe that God wrote the Bible, you must concede that he is communicating to a group of people using their limited vocabulary. “Rape” is a word that simply did not exist. If it did, it would show up more often throughout the Old Testament.

Really? That's what you are going with?
Genesis 34:2
When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and raped her.
Deuteronomy 22:25
But if out in the country a man happens to meet a young woman pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die.
Deuteronomy 22:28
If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered,
Deuteronomy 28:30
You will be pledged to be married to a woman, but another will take her and rape her. You will build a house, but you will not live in it. You will plant a vineyard, but you will not even begin to enjoy its fruit.
Judges 19:25
But the men would not listen to him. So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go.
Judges 20:5
During the night the men of Gibeah came after me and surrounded the house, intending to kill me. They raped my concubine, and she died.
2 Samuel 13:14
But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.
2 Samuel 13:32
But Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother, said, “My lord should not think that they killed all the princes; only Amnon is dead. This has been Absalom’s express intention ever since the day Amnon raped his sister Tamar.
Zechariah 14:2
I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city.


Jonolith wrote:This is an incredibly new idea (Within the past 200 years). Prior to that there was an understanding that the Bible was a book written by men about God. The understanding was that man cannot hope to even begin to understand even the idea of God. This was so to the point that in the Tenth Century (I believe?) A jewish philosopher said that “God is Nothing”, and was taken quite seriously.

No, it is not a new idea, it is as old as the bible.
2 Timothy 3:16 wrote:All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness

2 Peter 1:21 wrote:For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

2 Samuel 23:2 wrote:The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue.

Matt 15:3-6 wrote:For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.
‘Honor your father and mother’is from Exodus 20:12; Deut. 5:16 and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ is from Exodus 21:17; Lev. 20:9. So Jesus is quoting scripture, and calling it the word of god.

Jonolith wrote:Also, the idea that a book written in ancient Arabic, translated into Hebrew, translated into Greek, translated into Latin, translated into English is capable of being a “perfect” document is foolish. The very idea of that is incredibly new (Within the last 200 years). The first translated Bibles had several different languages in them specifically to account for any translation difficulties that will most certainly arise, and those that were translating were acutely aware that passages wouldn’t make the transitions well.
Considering that scripture is the word of god, do you think he would let it get perverted during translation? Hell no!

Jonolith wrote:Every time the Bible mentions “Sexual Impurity” or any kind of phrasing in that regard, it is always speaking to non-consensual sex.

Citation Needed.
sourmìlk wrote:Monopolies are not when a single company controls the market for a single product.

You don't become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard you become great in the process.

Jonolith
Posts: 137
Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2008 12:45 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Jonolith » Thu Dec 23, 2010 10:57 pm UTC

so, while you seem to have an "agreeable" view of the scripture and writings in the bible. the majority simply do not.


I take this as a compliment.

all of the people (no matter who they align with) that think these people are stupid and dangerous need to stand up and get a bullhorn because the general population (sorry general population) are idiots and don't know enough to challenge them on their own.


Don’t you feel that this confrontational stance is part of the problem though? If you stand up and “call people out” and call them stupid, then you simply earn people’s ire regardless of what the conversation actually is. And again, there is always the problem where people who speak out against extreme religion are often interpreted as speaking out against all religion. The only solution to that is to be far more explicit who certain statements are specifically for, and who they are not.

this is just laughable,


This is the confrontation I’m talking to you about above, incidentally. You’re welcome to disagree with me, in fact I welcome it. You are not welcome to complain that people revile you though while you outright mock them.

there's NO indication anywhere in any of the passages that i've read that mention non-consensual sex as what they're talking about.


Conversely, there’s none that state the other way either.

you're attributing an ignorance to these people that didn't exist. "comparatively primitive" and "ignorant" are not the same thing.


I think to say that I am calling people ignorant would be mistaken. I’m simply seeing what is the more commonly used form of “homosexuality” during that day, and seeing people react against that. In truth, my entire argument boils down to “What is the definition of homosexuality when these texts were written.” I put forth that Homosexuality was largely non-conceptual and that there had not been a distinction placed between non-consensual homosexuality and conceptual homosexuality.

Rape isn't a new thing.


I never said it wasn’t. The laws that regulate it, however, are. Comparatively speaking, Rape is a crime that has remained unlegislated far longer then other violent crimes. Spousal Rape, for instance, wasn’t actually regulated until the Seventies. I’m not saying that people didn’t have an awareness of the difference between consensual and non-consensual, but rather that the Laws regulating them had to be fought for.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexual ... ent_greece you can go ahead and read this...


What I’m seeing here is a defense for male slavery and sex with underage children. A direct pull: “The most common form of same-sex relationships between males in Greece was "paiderastia" meaning "boy love".” I have no difficulty with those who spoke out against this act doing so. It also directly supports my initial claim that the definition of Homosexuality was different.

In Ancient Greece the most common form of Homosexuality was to have sex with a child. In the modern day Homosexuality, this would be reviled. The Definition of the Word has Changed. That is my point.

if i could see citations of the newness of this theory, as i've never heard that as a reference.


Karen Armstrong has written a book called “The Case for God.” It’s a touch dry, but goes into great detail on this specific subject.

one way or another, "newness" or "oldness" of the concept doesn't negate the reality of people currently treating the book as the word of God and using it as such.


While that is true, it does speak to the idea that some hold that Religion has always been that way. It has not, and I imagine many of the early religious leaders would be extremely confused by today’s modern theology.

this whole section negates the concept that Jesus is the flesh and blood embodiment of God. Or God's Son, born of virgin birth (which, by the way, is a PRETTY HUGE part of christianity).


Modern Christianity, absolutely. I have no difficulty with that.

to suggest that the Jesus "story" was a "concept" pretty much flies in the face of EVERY teaching of christianity. i doubt you'll find too many people on that boat when you get to the dock.


I’ll accept this as a compliment.

if you suggest that the bible, in it's entirety is fictional and made up solely by the hands of man, you will have A LOT of baptists at your door with pitch forks by the morning.


And this.

the point still stands that a VERY large portion of religious people do not feel the way you do about this stuff.


And this.

and those are the ones that are dangerous


Then we should probably stop them. However, the way to do that is not be being confrontational with them in an effort to disprove them. Have no fear on the disproving part, they will do that themselves. The best way to move forward on this is through conversation and discussion with the mutual understanding that we are all, in essence, on the same team.

You’ve stated, a few times, that religious people will get violent with me because of my views. I would suggest that this is because they have turned Religious conversation into a battlefield because of the aggressive attacks from the Athiest community. If everyone just backed on down, and actually attempted to engage in conversation that didn’t involve calling people who believe in God criminals, and people who didn’t believe in God hell bound, we’d get more done.

Yes, but none of it is about subservience, which was your claim.


I’m not quite seeing the difficulty here.

Really? That's what you are going with?


Yes indeed. All of those passages you list below are new translations. Previous translations say “Lay With” because the original texts do not create a distinction between consensual and non-consensual sex, especially when it came to women, as they had no rights whatsoever. It’s very similar to the new translation of “Thou shalt not kill” to “You will not murder.” It’s a fine distinction, but it certainly exists.

‘Honor your father and mother’is from Exodus 20:12; Deut. 5:16 and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ is from Exodus 21:17; Lev. 20:9. So Jesus is quoting scripture, and calling it the word of god.


So you have a group of people saying that these Scriptured are “God-Breathed” or “Inspired by God.” This is not the same as saying “God literally put his hand on a pen and put it onto paper.” And it is also different from saying “God put his hand into someone’s head and had them write, verbatim, these words.”

The Greeks believed in Muses; Spiritual forces that guided their hands and helped them in their writings. Modern day writers will attest to being “taken up” in a kind of writing craze where they had little control of their own pen.

While I’ll definitely concede that these writers were definitely being inspired to write these words, and they had no difficulty saying that it was God (The unknowable force) that was doing so; to create the literal translation that exists in modern theology is a mistake.

Considering that scripture is the word of god, do you think he would let it get perverted during translation? Hell no!


Scripture is the Word of God insofar as it is words about God. But God is unknowable, and unknown, so any words that we can use to describe ‘him’ are wholly inadequate for the task. We can say that God is perfect, but that word ‘perfect’ is inadequate because it is limited by our own understanding. If we adhere to those words as if they were meant to run our lives, then we will always run into difficulty.

I also think it’s a mistake to say that something Paul said that is disagreeable as a “Perversion”. Paul is writing in a different time, to a different people. He has a different understanding of how the world works. This isn’t to say that, because I disagree with a single passage that Paul wrote, that I should throw away all of what Paul has written.

This is the position of Modern Theology. You have to take it all, or you have to take none of it. This has lead to its logical conclusion. People are taking none of it, because parts of it are crazy for this modern world. If faith is going to thrive it needs to abandon these ludicrous ideas that every single word of the Bible was directly written by the ‘hand’ of an unknowable force.

The very fact that there are translations of the Bible means that misinterpretations will take place. What is more important then adhering to these texts in a hardnosed kind of way is to use them in order to further the cause of Religion, which is to ease people’s suffering and difficulties in this lonely world.

The idea that God is a Man in a literal way, and not as a tool to illustrate a point, is harmful. It forces people away from Religion instead of welcomes them in. It keeps people away from any kind of altered thinking, rather then allowing them to explore it. Religion is not concrete, and saying that it is simply makes people who know better leave.


Quote sniping: Please stop doing it, and make sure to read the SB section rules.

- Az

User avatar
TheAmazingRando
Posts: 2308
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 9:58 am UTC
Location: San Diego, CA

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby TheAmazingRando » Fri Dec 24, 2010 12:24 am UTC

DSenette, I think you might be exaggerating how uncommon Jonolith's approach to Christianity is, re: the nature of God and scripture. It certainly isn't the most vocal group, but there are quite a few people (myself included, and many of my friends) who call themselves Christians and fall into that camp. That the Bible is the inerrant, literal word of God, is hardly a unifying belief among Christians, as much as fundamentalists would love to tell you otherwise. And fundamentalists decry "soft," "liberal" Christians as much as possible. But, coming from a fundamentalist background, I can tell you that they consider liberal Christians to be the majority, contrasted to themselves as the true, faithful minority. Fundamentalists would love for you to believe that they are the true representation of Christianity, but even they acknowledge that the majority of Christians disagree with them (though they would deny that the label of "Christian" really applies to us).

It's crucial for fundamentalists to limit the definition of Christian, since to them "Christian" and "is going to heaven, not hell" are one and the same thing. If they want to use the threat of eternal damnation as a motivational force to draw people to their cause, they need to make the margin of agreement pretty narrow. For those of us who don't believe in any afterlife, or who believe in an inclusive paradise, strictly defining who is and is not a Christian isn't nearly as important.

Just to be clear, I think most fundamentalists are earnest in their beliefs, see the existence of hell as a reality and not just a scare tactic, and honestly believe non-fundamentalists are wayward and in danger of damnation. They're just a much victims of fundamentalism as they are propagators.

Zcorp
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Fri Dec 24, 2010 1:12 am UTC

TheAmazingRando wrote:DSenette, I think you might be exaggerating how uncommon Jonolith's approach to Christianity is, re: the nature of God and scripture. It certainly isn't the most vocal group, but there are quite a few people (myself included, and many of my friends) who call themselves Christians and fall into that camp. That the Bible is the inerrant, literal word of God, is hardly a unifying belief among Christians, as much as fundamentalists would love to tell you otherwise. And fundamentalists decry "soft," "liberal" Christians as much as possible. But, coming from a fundamentalist background, I can tell you that they consider liberal Christians to be the majority, contrasted to themselves as the true, faithful minority. Fundamentalists would love for you to believe that they are the true representation of Christianity, but even they acknowledge that the majority of Christians disagree with them (though they would deny that the label of "Christian" really applies to us).
The voting trends in America and societal changes and influence suggest otherwise. We seem to be getting more "fundamentally Christian" not less.

But now you have to define what you mean by Christian. If you don't consider the Bible to be the Word of God were are you getting that Jesus is divine? If you don't think Jesus is Divine, why are you calling yourself a Christian? Do you just simply like a few of his ideas? If so, for those few ideas that you are likely to agree with I guarantee you that you can find older and newer versions of those ideas that are articulated in a more defined and eloquent way. So why even bother using Christ, Jesus or Christianity at all as your religion or moral guideline?

It's crucial for fundamentalists to limit the definition of Christian, since to them "Christian" and "is going to heaven, not hell" are one and the same thing. If they want to use the threat of eternal damnation as a motivational force to draw people to their cause, they need to make the margin of agreement pretty narrow. For those of us who don't believe in any afterlife, or who believe in an inclusive paradise, strictly defining who is and is not a Christian isn't nearly as important.
When you broaden the definition to include anyone that calls themselves a Christian with no shared aspect of that group of people...well you don't have a definition at all.

User avatar
TheAmazingRando
Posts: 2308
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 9:58 am UTC
Location: San Diego, CA

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby TheAmazingRando » Fri Dec 24, 2010 1:43 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:But now you have to define what you mean by Christian. If you don't consider the Bible to be the Word of God were are you getting that Jesus is divine? If you don't think Jesus is Divine, why are you calling yourself a Christian? Do you just simply like a few of his ideas? If so, for those few ideas that you are likely to agree with I guarantee you that you can find older and newer versions of those ideas that are articulated in a more defined and eloquent way. So why even bother using Christ, Jesus or Christianity at all as your religion or moral guideline?
I would define a Christian as one who follows the teachings of Christ. For me, as an agnostic, religion isn't so far removed from philosophy. I follow the teachings of Christ because they were my first introduction to the ideas of communal altruism, and of the inherent equal worth of all people, which I consider crucial elements of my own philosophy. I don't just agree with them, I agree with their primacy. There may be alternative sources of similar ideas, but I can't change their importance in my own development. They've become a part of me that I cannot, and have no desire to, excise. If I were a convert to Christianity, you might have a point, but that's not the way it happened.

When you broaden the definition to include anyone that calls themselves a Christian with no shared aspect of that group of people...well you don't have a definition at all.
Christ is a shared aspect, even if interpretations of Christ can vary. I don't see a better way of setting the definition. If you want to talk about a specific belief, talk about those that believe it. It's easier to talk about Christianity if you restrict the definition to something narrow, but that doesn't change the fact that the word is, as used in the real world, vague.

DSenette
Posts: 2418
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:08 pm UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DSenette » Fri Dec 24, 2010 2:36 am UTC

Jonolith wrote:
all of the people (no matter who they align with) that think these people are stupid and dangerous need to stand up and get a bullhorn because the general population (sorry general population) are idiots and don't know enough to challenge them on their own.


Don’t you feel that this confrontational stance is part of the problem though? If you stand up and “call people out” and call them stupid, then you simply earn people’s ire regardless of what the conversation actually is. And again, there is always the problem where people who speak out against extreme religion are often interpreted as speaking out against all religion. The only solution to that is to be far more explicit who certain statements are specifically for, and who they are not.
when the youth are being indoctrinated and laws are being made based on religions, and ESPECIALLY dangerous versions there of, then no, confrontation is not part of the problem. it's required.

Jonolith wrote:
this is just laughable,


This is the confrontation I’m talking to you about above, incidentally. You’re welcome to disagree with me, in fact I welcome it. You are not welcome to complain that people revile you though while you outright mock them.
i'm not mocking anyone (intentionally). i'm stating that an idea that's been posed is rediculous. an idea can be rediculous without the holder being so

Jonolith wrote:
there's NO indication anywhere in any of the passages that i've read that mention non-consensual sex as what they're talking about.


Conversely, there’s none that state the other way either.
yet you're so very sure that that it is stating that it's explicitely (and solely) talking about non-consensual sex.

Jonolith wrote:
you're attributing an ignorance to these people that didn't exist. "comparatively primitive" and "ignorant" are not the same thing.


I think to say that I am calling people ignorant would be mistaken. I’m simply seeing what is the more commonly used form of “homosexuality” during that day, and seeing people react against that. In truth, my entire argument boils down to “What is the definition of homosexuality when these texts were written.” I put forth that Homosexuality was largely non-conceptual and that there had not been a distinction placed between non-consensual homosexuality and conceptual homosexuality.
again, homosexuality, being part of nature. hasn't changed. certain percentages of humans (i'm postulating here because, for obvious reasons there isn't much actual history here) have always been attracted to their own sex. it's a logical conclusion that these people would find others of the same ilk, and, well you know where it goes from there. it's simply not logical to suggest otherwise


Jonolith wrote:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexual ... ent_greece you can go ahead and read this...


What I’m seeing here is a defense for male slavery and sex with underage children. A direct pull: “The most common form of same-sex relationships between males in Greece was "paiderastia" meaning "boy love".” I have no difficulty with those who spoke out against this act doing so. It also directly supports my initial claim that the definition of Homosexuality was different.

In Ancient Greece the most common form of Homosexuality was to have sex with a child. In the modern day Homosexuality, this would be reviled. The Definition of the Word has Changed. That is my point.
the article doesn't actually mention slavery. it mentions the social power differential betwen the "active" and the "passive" but it doesn't say "slave" and "master". also, while "boy love" isnt' condonable, it also doesn't suggest that it was non-consensual (i'm not going too far down this road so don't go too far). it also mentions that homosexual sex DID occur between adult males. just that it was a stigma for the passive in the adult relationship. again, it doesn't say squat about slaves (which, in that article they have no reason to leave that tidbit out). the passive male in the adult relationship there would have to have a pretty strong reason to actively decide to be ostrasized and mocked because of his actions.

Jonolith wrote:
one way or another, "newness" or "oldness" of the concept doesn't negate the reality of people currently treating the book as the word of God and using it as such.


While that is true, it does speak to the idea that some hold that Religion has always been that way. It has not, and I imagine many of the early religious leaders would be extremely confused by today’s modern theology.
depending on how far back you want to go (and deciding how far back is rellevant) MANY christian religions have held the belief that the bible is the word of God for quite some time. again, for the sake of argument and progression. if 1,000 years ago people didn't treat it as such, that has no relevancy to modern interpretation.

Jonolith wrote:
this whole section negates the concept that Jesus is the flesh and blood embodiment of God. Or God's Son, born of virgin birth (which, by the way, is a PRETTY HUGE part of christianity).


Modern Christianity, absolutely. I have no difficulty with that.
....i...ok look, i don't know where your sources are. i just don't. the ENTIRE premise of Christianity is layed out in as much detail as you care to find. Lady talks to god, god tells her she's pregnant, she's like "what, i'm a virgin", god's like "i know (*wink and a double shooter*)", they go to a manger, have a baby, BOOM son of God. That's not a modern interpretation. it's THE interpretation, that always has been christianity. before that, it wasn't christianity.

Jonolith wrote:
to suggest that the Jesus "story" was a "concept" pretty much flies in the face of EVERY teaching of christianity. i doubt you'll find too many people on that boat when you get to the dock.


I’ll accept this as a compliment.

if you suggest that the bible, in it's entirety is fictional and made up solely by the hands of man, you will have A LOT of baptists at your door with pitch forks by the morning.


And this.

the point still stands that a VERY large portion of religious people do not feel the way you do about this stuff.


And this.
see above.

Jonolith wrote:
and those are the ones that are dangerous


Then we should probably stop them. However, the way to do that is not be being confrontational with them in an effort to disprove them. Have no fear on the disproving part, they will do that themselves. The best way to move forward on this is through conversation and discussion with the mutual understanding that we are all, in essence, on the same team.

You’ve stated, a few times, that religious people will get violent with me because of my views. I would suggest that this is because they have turned Religious conversation into a battlefield because of the aggressive attacks from the Athiest community. If everyone just backed on down, and actually attempted to engage in conversation that didn’t involve calling people who believe in God criminals, and people who didn’t believe in God hell bound, we’d get more done.
suggesting that religious folk turn religious conversations into a battlefield because of athiests is rediculous. religious people have been arguing amongst themselves long before athiests became so vocal. they're on the defensive (not all, in general) from their own offshoots and other sects who want to be the "real christians"
Jonolith wrote:
‘Honor your father and mother’is from Exodus 20:12; Deut. 5:16 and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ is from Exodus 21:17; Lev. 20:9. So Jesus is quoting scripture, and calling it the word of god.


So you have a group of people saying that these Scriptured are “God-Breathed” or “Inspired by God.” This is not the same as saying “God literally put his hand on a pen and put it onto paper.” And it is also different from saying “God put his hand into someone’s head and had them write, verbatim, these words.”

The Greeks believed in Muses; Spiritual forces that guided their hands and helped them in their writings. Modern day writers will attest to being “taken up” in a kind of writing craze where they had little control of their own pen.

While I’ll definitely concede that these writers were definitely being inspired to write these words, and they had no difficulty saying that it was God (The unknowable force) that was doing so; to create the literal translation that exists in modern theology is a mistake.
again, a mistake that's often made by the religious, not the athiests (since we don't believe in any of it)

TheAmazingRando wrote:
Zcorp wrote:But now you have to define what you mean by Christian. If you don't consider the Bible to be the Word of God were are you getting that Jesus is divine? If you don't think Jesus is Divine, why are you calling yourself a Christian? Do you just simply like a few of his ideas? If so, for those few ideas that you are likely to agree with I guarantee you that you can find older and newer versions of those ideas that are articulated in a more defined and eloquent way. So why even bother using Christ, Jesus or Christianity at all as your religion or moral guideline?
I would define a Christian as one who follows the teachings of Christ. For me, as an agnostic, religion isn't so far removed from philosophy. I follow the teachings of Christ because they were my first introduction to the ideas of communal altruism, and of the inherent equal worth of all people, which I consider crucial elements of my own philosophy. I don't just agree with them, I agree with their primacy. There may be alternative sources of similar ideas, but I can't change their importance in my own development. They've become a part of me that I cannot, and have no desire to, excise. If I were a convert to Christianity, you might have a point, but that's not the way it happened.
following teachings and claiming a religion are two different things.

TheAmazingRando wrote:
Zcorp wrote:When you broaden the definition to include anyone that calls themselves a Christian with no shared aspect of that group of people...well you don't have a definition at all.
Christ is a shared aspect, even if interpretations of Christ can vary. I don't see a better way of setting the definition. If you want to talk about a specific belief, talk about those that believe it. It's easier to talk about Christianity if you restrict the definition to something narrow, but that doesn't change the fact that the word is, as used in the real world, vague.
it's not vague. christianity is a religion based on the idea that jesus christ is the son of God (past that, some things can get funky, but that's the base rule). to call onesself a christian you have to actually accept that tenet as the bases thereof. otherwise, if you're just "following the teachings" (i.e. Love thy neighbor as yourself, do go a killin, etc..) then, well you're not specifically following the teachings of christ because those concepts/teachings aren't unique to christ. you're following a basic moral code, which is COMPLETELY different and indipendant from religions.

note, i'm not negating your right to call yourself whatever you like, just know that "Christian" actually does come with a definition, and interpretation doesn't change that definition.
The Righteous Hand Of Retribution
"The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place." ~Andre Codresu (re: "the Rapture")

User avatar
TheAmazingRando
Posts: 2308
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 9:58 am UTC
Location: San Diego, CA

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby TheAmazingRando » Fri Dec 24, 2010 2:56 am UTC

So, despite the fact that I specifically derived my beliefs from the teachings of Christ, I'm somehow not actually following him? I didn't realize non-redundancy was a necessary condition of membership in a religion. The fact that I could have, theoretically, derived my beliefs from elsewhere, has no impact on where they came from.

Christianity does, indeed, have a definition. And that definition, per Merriam-Webster, is "one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ." And whether Christ professed to be the son of God in the trinitarian sense is not a settled matter.

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Fri Dec 24, 2010 6:59 pm UTC

This got too long, so I made my response to each person collapsible.

Greyarcher
Spoiler:
Greyarcher wrote:I am interested in the people who first spoke of these gods, and our information and beliefs about their world. These are the type of "root" beliefs that seem key and of interest to me.

Alright, and from an historic perspective these are interesting questions. However, they're lost in time. If we could somehow answer it, then we'd dissolve the need for faith: either the Bible story would be proven right (i.e. we'd discover that Adam and Eve were the first people who talked about God), or you'd see that the notion of God was invented by some primitive tribe of people. But since these are unanswerable questions, we can only speculate.

Greyarcher wrote:You've have a sense of my concerns, but it's a bit errant and there's a bit more than that. I am also concerned that, from within the bubble, theists are not able to judge impartially whether there is enough reason to actually choose that bubble. And that further, when people are pushed into a bubble while they are still children, they are never given a proper chance to impartially evaluate the bubbles. You can see the problem these two points form together, can you not?

I am not troubled by this at all. I don't see rationality as an ideal, and thus I don't see that beliefs need to be fully rationally vetted in the same way we build up scientific theories. Sometimes it's OK to believe something is right because it feels right.

And even if children were somehow raised free from all the biases of the bubbles, I still believe they'd be limited in how rationally they could weigh all the different options and establish belief. These sorts of beliefs aren't simply descriptions of the world around us, but they demand certain behavior. If we believe in a God that descries X as wrong, then that impacts our likelihood of doing X. And conversely, I suspect that if we like doing X, it will have an impact (a bias) on our analysis of which bubble seems most reasonable. Usefulness will shape our belief in truth. I.e. we're more likely to believe in a set of truths that justify the behaviors that we like to do.

Besides, practically I'm not sure how we could expect parents to even raise kids this way. It would be hard to teach skepticism on topics of racism when we have a core belief that racism is wrong. In the same way, parents would struggle raising their kids to stay neutral about God if they had similar core beliefs. It restricts a parent's ability to be fully open and honest with their kid, something I don't think is good. Of course, if the parent really does have doubts about such stories, then I still hold that honest parenting is best. We shouldn't fabricate bubbles in an effort to manipulate our kids.

(I apologize for this glancing reference back to morality, but the analogy seemed very appropriate.)

Greyarcher wrote:For instance, what answers are unknowable, how they are important, and such.

Basically a question is objectively unknowable if we can't establish an objective test for it. Many of the claims about religion fall into this category, e.g. God exists. Not only is this not testable, it's undefined even how to test it.

However, many of these unknowable questions are measurably very important to people. Not only do the questions feel significant, what people believe will measurably impact how they behave. An easy example is the notion of God. Most theists would live life differently if they faced the idea that God wasn't real. It's measurably important to how they live life. (So by "important", I mean subjectively important to the individual, not that it rates high on my own personal value scale.)


Zcorp
Spoiler:
Zcorp wrote:What is you that you consider to be Christianity?

Well, I don't want to tell people how they should label themselves. However, what I've been referencing and defending is the belief in certain doctrines like the Apostle's Creed. Basically a belief in the trinity, a belief that Jesus died for our sins and was raised, that he is the path to our salvation, and that he will ultimately come again to judge us. Also, these beliefs would be rooted in the Bible. If someone reworked the Gospel or threw out Paul's letters, you'd have something very different than what many of us think of as Christianity. (And as I've said before, I don't claim that anything besides this notion of Christianity is bad. It just happens to be the religion that I'm most familiar with, and thus what I speak most often of.)

Despite all of that, there is still quite a lot that can change. Christianity doesn't have to be tied to the American culture, and certainly not to the current conservative politics. For example, even with the notion that homosexuality is a sin, this doesn't need to enshrined into law. As a comparison, many people seem content that the Christian perspective on divorce is incompatible with our current laws on no-fault divorces.

Zcorp wrote:As for citations I'm on a boat in the atlantic so I'm not going to dig up a bunch of them right now, but I will point you to a great layman book that covers some of this. Seems the paper back is just about to come out.

Thanks for the link. I haven't read the book, but I remember hearing a podcast interview with the authors on NPR. I listen to three regular science podcasts, and while I'm not any sort of expert, I get exposed to these sorts of ideas all the time. And I don't hear anything that's incompatible with the fundamentals of Christianity (except when certain individuals are interviewed, like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins). I maintain that most of the secular advancements in how we can shape a better tomorrow can be bolted into Christianity. If you are aware of some fundamental incompatibility, please share.

Zcorp wrote:Cool, I hope you can understand how it can then be frustrating on this side of the screen when you tell me/us how the humanities are just some trivial theory and not practical in real life.

When did I do this? I have made a lot of efforts to express my enthusiasm for secular studies, so I don't know where this is coming from.


DSenette
Spoiler:
Thank you for the well wishes. Nothing serious going on. It's just a busy time of year. :)

DSenette wrote:what is the approved path for the homosexual to get to heaven/the graces of god?

(A) Stop self-identifying as gay, and (B) stop having gay relationships. To get into more specifics (like is holding hands affectionately a relationship), you'd have to talk with the people that are advocating this. But my point is that whatever science has proven isn't a choice is not the same thing that conservative Christians consider a sin. This is a key point that many people refuse to recognize, and I maintain that they argue from a position of willful ignorance. The Bible doesn't support the notion that gays are in any way inferior or born with any more sin than anyone else. The best argument one could make is that they're unrepentant sinners, but that applies to lots of people, including those who don't love God, and certainly those who don't believe in God.

DSenette wrote: you say tomato......there are different levels of hate, and different uses of the word. hate can be running around in a sheet lighting crosses in lawns, or it can be the subtle eye of disgust.

Have you ever given someone the subtle eye of disgust? Was that hatred? This is just setting a really low bar. In fact it can be lowered even more: People can hate behind a smile? Have you ever smiled? We can play the hate card on anyone we want, but that doesn't make it true.

DSenette wrote:i really do have to disagree here. all of the people who are fighting against gay marriage at the moment are doing so directly from the side of religion.

I recognize that the support people give for opposing gay marriage is religious. My point is the particular fervency for fighting the acceptance of homosexuality is based in politics and culture, not in the scripture. Which means that in the future this fervency will go away even though the scripture remains.

DSenette wrote:this link is mainly for guenther. i know i said i'd keep off the parenting bit, but, this post on the secular parenting blog that i linked earlier illustrates perfectly my whole concept/point on the parenting tip. that allowing your child the chance to think things through on their own, asking questions, and getting sound, reasonable, unbiased answers is extremely effective and much more rewarding/productive than force feeding them anything.

Thanks for the link. Our approach to Santa is very straightforward. We tell our kids that Santa is as real as Mickey Mouse. :) (In case that's not completely clear, we distinguish between the real world and the world of make believe.) My point before wasn't to defend fabricating false beliefs in kids, but to point out that despite our idealism, there are times when kids' brains really just can't process it all, and so parent's have to be a filter for them. But when they can process it, I do like encouraging them to think.


nitePhyyre
Spoiler:
nitePhyyre wrote:In general, your dismissal of the real world applicability of game theory quite telling. Here we have a science that conflicts with religious teachings, and a religious believer mis-characterizing and denying an entire field of scientific pursuit.

I don't dismiss the field; I dismiss your claim, which I challenge is unsupported by the field. Show me one serious researcher that is willing to state that game theory is robust enough to prescribe moral rules on how we should live life, and that the Golden Rule has been studied well enough in real-world scenarios to conclude that it's a sub-optimal moral guideline. I just heard Robert Axelrod interviewed in a podcast, and he didn't make any statements anywhere near as bold as your claim. And not long before that I heard Sam Harris who is very keen to flesh out morality via science, but even he didn't make any statement as strong as yours. So when I ask you for a citation, I'm not asking for more detail on game theory in general, I'm looking for you to back up your claim.

nitePhyyre wrote:This isn't people conflating what the bible says with what what we should do. It is not a case where the bible says X is wrong, and people take it upon themselves to do something about 'x', stop pretending it is. This is pure and simple. The bible advocates murdering gays. There is no interpretation needed.

This has been refuted. You can also read about it on Wikipedia. You can go ahead and keep advocating that Christians should be killing gay people, but fortunately most Christians don't agree with you.

And I'm going to let the whole notion of Biblical wisdom go. If you believe the Golden Rule to be evil, then I will have a near zero chance of convincing you that anything in the Bible has value. But that's OK, you can live life how you want.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Jonolith
Posts: 137
Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2008 12:45 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Jonolith » Sat Dec 25, 2010 4:21 am UTC

The voting trends in America and societal changes and influence suggest otherwise. We seem to be getting more "fundamentally Christian" not less.


I’m very curious to see where you’re getting this information as the current sitting president is most definitely not backed by any Fundamentalist movement I’m aware of.

But now you have to define what you mean by Christian. If you don't consider the Bible to be the Word of God were are you getting that Jesus is divine? If you don't think Jesus is Divine, why are you calling yourself a Christian? Do you just simply like a few of his ideas? If so, for those few ideas that you are likely to agree with I guarantee you that you can find older and newer versions of those ideas that are articulated in a more defined and eloquent way. So why even bother using Christ, Jesus or Christianity at all as your religion or moral guideline?


I’m also incredibly curious as to why you feel the need for people to fall into definitions. Is it not enough for people to say that Jesus was a great man, much like they would say Muhammad was, or Gandhi? Is it truly important to the conversation that we label ourselves with these distinctions so we can say who’s right and wrong? Isn’t it better if we simply strive to find the commonality rather then the opposing factors?

When you broaden the definition to include anyone that calls themselves a Christian with no shared aspect of that group of people...well you don't have a definition at all.


Sure you do. “Human” is a good start.

when the youth are being indoctrinated and laws are being made based on religions, and ESPECIALLY dangerous versions there of, then no, confrontation is not part of the problem. it's required.


Then do not complain, when you become militant, that those who you are becoming militant towards do the same. Their positions will simply become more entrenched, and they will only become even more radical. If you wish this to become a battlefield, you will find that they will fight until the end of time in their ignorance.

i'm not mocking anyone (intentionally). i'm stating that an idea that's been posed is rediculous. an idea can be rediculous without the holder being so


But surely you must be aware that people will take this as mockery. It cannot be the case that people say “This is laughable” and mean it in anyway besides derisively. It doesn’t matter if that is not your intent. It only matters that it is how it is received.

yet you're so very sure that that it is stating that it's explicitely (and solely) talking about non-consensual sex.


Only insofar as it makes more sense.

again, homosexuality, being part of nature. hasn't changed. certain percentages of humans (i'm postulating here because, for obvious reasons there isn't much actual history here) have always been attracted to their own sex. it's a logical conclusion that these people would find others of the same ilk, and, well you know where it goes from there. it's simply not logical to suggest otherwise


This statement I cannot disagree with. It is most certainly true that there have been people throughout all of ancient history that have been attracted to members of the same sex. It’s simple, basic biology that leads us to that conclusion. However, that has never been the heart of my argument.

My point is this; Ancient Homosexuality was defined as a non-consensual relationship between same sex couples. In turn, the authors of the Bible speak out against same sex relationships, as they view them as non-consensual, and therefore morally wrong. Modern Homosexuality is defined as a consensual relationship between same sex couples, and would be appalled at Ancient Homosexual practices.

In short; The Homosexuality of the Bible is not the Homosexuality of Today, so it is pointless and foolish to attempt to adhere verses that speak about Homosexuality to today’s Modern Homosexual.

it mentions the social power differential betwen the "active" and the "passive" but it doesn't say "slave" and "master".


This is a distinction that we are welcome to make in Modern culture, but not in Ancient culture. You were either a slave or you were not. The distinctions were literally Citizen, Slave, Foreigner, Woman. There was no room for “Passive” and “Active” partners. There was Citizen or Slave.

....i...ok look, i don't know where your sources are. i just don't. the ENTIRE premise of Christianity is layed out in as much detail as you care to find. Lady talks to god, god tells her she's pregnant, she's like "what, i'm a virgin", god's like "i know (*wink and a double shooter*)", they go to a manger, have a baby, BOOM son of God. That's not a modern interpretation. it's THE interpretation, that always has been christianity. before that, it wasn't christianity..


I’m incredibly interested to see how interested you are in pigeonholing Christianity into a single defined term. Certainly what you’ve stated there is the story of Christianity, I can’t really debate that as it’s fairly explicitly stated in the Bible. I think you’re having difficulty grasping that there are many of us that are just fine with that being what it was intended to be, a Story. And a fairly important one for western culture as well.

As far as religion is concerned, it’s the first story to put divine power into the hands of man. Before this you have stories of Zeus, and Jupiter, stories about the gods, who are above humanity. Theological thought before Christianity was basically “We are worms beneath the feet of the gods.” The story of Jesus is a story of a man and his interactions with the Divine, and his trust and faith in that Divine figure.

Let me stress something here. The story of Jesus is not literal. It is a story intended to illicit a point in the culture that is hearing it. That means that it is specifically fashioned in such a way to bring meaning to those who hear it. I imagine that a Greek man, who has spent his entire life hearing that life is dictated specifically by the gods, would be incredibly interested in the story of Jesus. I imagine he would ask things like “What would happen if Jesus just left? What if he just didn’t do it? Wait, if Jesus is a son of God… aren’t I a son of God too?” These are the questions that story is intended to illicit, and it hasn’t been until extremely recently that those questions were considered “Wrong”.

If you insist on defining Christianity from the Fundamentalist Definition, then the Fundamentalists get exactly what they want.

suggesting that religious folk turn religious conversations into a battlefield because of athiests is rediculous. religious people have been arguing amongst themselves long before athiests became so vocal. they're on the defensive (not all, in general) from their own offshoots and other sects who want to be the "real christians"


I won’t deny that there is certainly a level of confrontation and strife within faiths, but it would be a hefty denial to say that the largest threat isn’t coming from the Atheist Community. I truly have no interest in turning this conversation into a blaming match, but if you wish to have honest communication in this debate, you must cede that there have been Atheists who have been extremely harmful to this conversation as well.

again, a mistake that's often made by the religious, not the athiests (since we don't believe in any of it)


This is opening up a completely different conversation. I suppose all I’ll say is this; what would you say to a highly religious man who said that “God is Nothing.”?

it's not vague.


It actually is. That’s more or less the idea. If it wasn’t vague it’d be Science. It’s not. It’s Religion.

I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of what Religion actually is. It’s not something you really talk about. It’s something you do. It’s an activity. You meditate/pray/practice on an idea in the hope that you will find a better understanding of that idea. I’ll give you a strictly non-Christian example followed by a Christian one.

In the Wiccan faith there is a teaching on “Potion Making.” The activity itself begins by choosing something in your own life that you’d like to improve upon. For sake of this example I’ll choose something vapid like “I’d like to make a lot of money.” So you seek out the ingredients for the “Money Potion”, and then you combine them all together into a tincture that you, in turn, drink. Now, it would be silly to think that this potion is just going to plop a wad of cash onto your lap, and people who think that’s the point are missing the point.

The point of this activity is to make a contract with yourself that you are going to seek money in the future. It is a pact with yourself, and a moment in time that you can constantly go back to to remind yourself “I made that promise to myself”. It’s one thing to stand in a room and say “I will get more money”. It is quite another to set out in an activity and action. One is just words, the other is a physical action. It’s the start of something new that could, potentially, change your life. And while you are simply moving forward in that direction anyway, that potion is the first step.

Prayer in the Christian faith is widely misinterpreted as “Asking Jesus for Cars.” Prayer is more akin to meditation; Dwelling on an idea to find a better understanding of that idea, whatever that idea might be. This is an active activity, and not something that is just passively done. It is ritualistic by nature, and not simply a spiritual cash grab.

The story of Christ is actually kind of secondary to the faith, in a lot of ways. Certainly his is the central story, but only insofar as Buddha’s story is the center of Buddhism, and Muhammad’s is the center of Islam. Their ideas are of far more importance, and if we mire them in the literal tellings, then the conversation basically becomes no more valuable then a conversation about who would win a fight, Batman or Superman.

Jesus as well as other Spiritual Counterparts, are not superheroes. They were men who had some ideas about how things should be done, and I think they would be incredibly upset to see that people are attempting to make the conversation different then that.

You’re saying “To be a Christian you must believe the literal story of Jesus.” I am saying “To be a Christian you only have to see Jesus’ point.” If that means that there’s a Buddhist/Muslim/Christian/Jew walking around, then I’m perfectly ok with that, as should you.

Again, I’m not refuting that there are Christians out there that think otherwise. All I am saying is when you make the conversation about those people, they get exactly what they want.

(A) Stop self-identifying as gay, and (B) stop having gay relationships. To get into more specifics.


I wish to challenge you on the issue of Homosexuality and the Bible. You seem to be a very well read and well spoken man of Faith, and if this is your belief, I wish to take the counter-position.

I do not believe that Homosexuality, as it is defined by Modern Culture, is wrong within Biblical Scripture. I believe that people are using an old definition of Homosexuality that has changed throughout time. I believe that the Ancient Definition of Homosexuality is “Non-Consensual Sexual Activity between same sex people.” And that the Modern Definition of Homosexuality is “Consensual Sexual Activity between same sex people.” I believe that people who attempt to adhere Scriptural passages to Modern Day Homosexuality, they are mistaken in doing so.

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this.

Also, Happy Holidays everyone! Let's all go celebrate our respective holidays together and enjoy the time we have with those we love! (Also, a drink couldn't hurt! :wink: )

Zcorp
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Sat Dec 25, 2010 5:10 am UTC

guenther wrote: Basically a belief in the trinity, a belief that Jesus died for our sins and was raised, that he is the path to our salvation, and that he will ultimately come again to judge us. Also, these beliefs would be rooted in the Bible. If someone reworked the Gospel or threw out Paul's letters, you'd have something very different than what many of us think of as Christianity. (And as I've said before, I don't claim that anything besides this notion of Christianity is bad. It just happens to be the religion that I'm most familiar with, and thus what I speak most often of.)

Ok, not far off from my own.
I'd essentially put it as a belief in God, that Jesus is Christ and that the Bible is a guideline put forth by God on how to behave to do right by him.

But three people who self-identify as Christians have given so greatly different accounts of what it means to be Christian that is almost a joke. TheAmazingRando's definition is so absurd it threatens the very concepts of standard language and communication.

There are core tenants of Christianity and nitePhyyre DSenette have supplied multiple Bible quotes to suggest what those are. When you bastardize Christianity as a concept because people want to self-identify with the word rather then actually caring about the concepts that it suggests and effects it has...it threatens destroy language and reason the two skills that are uniquely human and are largely why are are such a successful and amazing species. When people become loyal to words rather than what those words mean you have a system that is easily corruptible. Politicians, Priests and other public leaders can and do rally people behind the word (often not even with the intention of corrupting it) rather than what those words mean even to the point where they are working against the original concept and intent of those words, and that is happening now with great frequency with Christianity. You, the people who self-identify as Christians, give them that power by letting your leadership destroy and abuse the word.

We have discussed the history, beliefs, benefits or not of those beliefs, the source of those beliefs, suggested alternatives to create the the mutually agreed upon positive benefits of those beliefs, how those alternatives have and can do a better job of creating those effects, concerns about suggested alternatives but one issue that we've avoided so far is the group of people who identify as Christian with no understanding of what that means. I've avoided discussing this as it feels like a "No True Scotsman" situation but as has just be demonstrated, the word Christian has become so ingrained in our culture to mean good (and maybe more specifically that non-Christian and specifically non-believer to mean bad) that people choose to self-identify as Christian to perceive themselves as good rather then understanding what they are defining themselves as. This is a colossal failure of the church, of the clergy and the laity's responsibility to hold their leaders in check.

When it became more important to get people to perceive themselves as Christian, including the children that are being raised, rather than understanding what it means to be Christian; Christianity greatly hurt itself (this isn't unique to Christianity, it's happening to the word American in public discourse right now, although often people are trying to associate American with Christian and that you can't be a good American without being a 'Good' Christian, which really just means that you self-identify as one). What has become Christianity in America is threatening peoples ability to reason and understand what they believe and choice to choose what they believe.


Zcorp wrote:Cool, I hope you can understand how it can then be frustrating on this side of the screen when you tell me/us how the humanities are just some trivial theory and not practical in real life.

When did I do this? I have made a lot of efforts to express my enthusiasm for secular studies, so I don't know where this is coming from.


Here, page 26 about 2/3rds of the way down.
You've shown that in a game, being nice can be detrimental to success. And I've already agreed to that. In politics, loving your enemy will hurt your ability to be politically successful. The problem with applying the Prisoner's Dilemma is that in the game there's a very clear objective, but in real life, simply winning in politics doesn't make the world better. Real life is more complicated, and I still claim that you haven't shown that under real-world circumstances we are better served by promoting the value of tit-for-tat rather than love your neighbor. And while I'll be open-minded about any citations you offer, I suspect you'll have difficulty because this is an enormously difficult thing to study, and I don't think our current science is capable of answering it.


Edit: Editting for typos and commas.
Last edited by Zcorp on Sat Dec 25, 2010 5:48 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.


Return to “Serious Business”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Majestic-12 [Bot] and 12 guests