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Penelope, DWill and Robert Tulip about religious belief. 
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I think we are agreed, Frank, about the iniquities of Organised Religion.

I have been thinking about what you said some time ago - about what difference religion makes to me.....it has taken me until now to formulate a succinct reply:-

Given that we know that natural disasters, happen with monotonous regularity and that man-made disasters happen with more or less the same frequency.....(these man-made ones I find even more distressing btw), I feel that I cannot just live from day to day without regard to how I might cope with one of these disasters if it affected me personally.

For instance....I am at an age where old and loved friends and relations seem to be getting seriously ill or dying....with more and more frequency. Now, I am not foolish enough to petition 'God' and say, 'Please don't let my husband die before me'....or 'please don't let my children get ill'.....but without a spritual strengthening.....achieved by meditation. contemplation or prayer.....I would not be in any state to handle these disasters and keep my sanity. So I don't pray for the impossible...but I pray for the inner resources to cope with them. For wisdom....and enlightenment......which gives freedom from constant fear.

Some people must not feel the need to build up their inner resources - maybe they have gained that strength already.....I am just attempting to explain how it is for me.



Wed Mar 12, 2008 12:43 pm
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Penelope
I think we are agreed, Frank, about the iniquities of Organized Religion.


Yes we do seem to have reached a consensus in that category.

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Penelope
Now, I am not foolish enough to petition 'God' and say, 'Please don't let my husband die before me'....or 'please don't let my children get ill'.....but without a spiritual strengthening.....achieved by meditation. contemplation or prayer.....I would not be in any state to handle these disasters and keep my sanity. So I don't pray for the impossible...but I pray for the inner resources to cope with them. For wisdom....and enlightenment......which gives freedom from constant fear.

Some people must not feel the need to build up their inner resources - maybe they have gained that strength already.....I am just attempting to explain how it is for me.


Like I said before, I have no interest in denying you (or anybody for that matter) that right. If it truly helps you then that's great, more power to you.

My real problem lies with the obviously false dogma of religions and their attempt to push their agenda on everyone.

Of course I think I have made that relatively clear and we both seem to agree.

Later



Wed Mar 12, 2008 2:52 pm
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Thanks to Robert Tulip for pointing out the relevance of the thread, after all. The sticking point I come to when blame is ascribed to beliefs for producing one sort of another of atrocity, is whether the beliefs are merely the convenient explanation, the one we can most readily identify. If those particlular beliefs were not there, another set might do as well to stand as the cause. What I'm suggesting is that, within the human heart of darkness is something as basic as a greed that will stop at nothing to satisfy itself, and needs no covering of religious belief to play itself out along a violent course (although a covering of religion provides a good disguise). In other words, if the particular religious beliefs are involved, they are secondary. I think this could be consistent with Conrad's theme. I don't think he means to indict Christian beliefs; his target must be wider than that.

Through all of history, humans have been, in the main, religious. Irreligion has a much shorter track record. As Penelope pointed out, it is not a stellar one, either, in terms of benevolence. If we make a correction by saying that ideological fanaticism is in fact the true cause, we are moving away from making religion the scapegoat. We all seem to need to be able to point to a particular villain. My skeptical view is that we probably can't.



Wed Mar 12, 2008 6:44 pm
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In other words, if the particular religious beliefs are involved, they are secondary. I think this could be consistent with Conrad's theme. I don't think he means to indict Christian beliefs; his target must be wider than that.


I might agree but I see little exterior motive besides the adherence to dogma for things like denying birth control to Catholic Africans, which causes thousands of deaths each year due to STDs, or denying gays the right to marry.

And even if the leaders of these religions are using the religion to mask other less than pious motives, it is the power that religion has over the general populace that allows them to abuse it in such a manner.

Let's use Hitler as an example... Hitler may, or may not have been a firm believer in a personal god. By all accounts he was, but I will allow some doubt because as a public figure he might have just been going through the motions for credibility.

Either way, Hitler used the religious belief of his people to manipulate their behavior allowing for some of the worst atrocities ever recorded to take place.

Religions encourage blind devotion in its followers; many religions have established a (false) reputation for a force of good, as long as the action taken is in the name of said god. Religions and their leaders claim to speak for their gods and claim to be enforcing the gods will; this lays the ground work for rampant abuse. Finally many religions claim that action taken in the gods name is rewarded in the afterlife.

To a believer this motivation can be far stronger than any earthly calling.

I will agree that secular forms of blind idealism can be abused in such a manner but few have the motivating power that religion has and none have had the staying power.

As far as the track record of secular government... currently on this planet the most civilized, crimeless, fair and free governments are the most secular ones.

Later



Wed Mar 12, 2008 11:36 pm
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I was going back through this thread and I saw something that I missed...

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Vlad the Impaler - Atilla the Hun.....Genkis Khan......were not particularly religious!!!!!


I do not know much about the religious natures of Atilla or Genkis Khan, but I can assure you that Vlad was a strict Christian.

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The fictional story of Bram Stoker's vampire, Dracula, derived from an actual historical man, Vlad the Impaler (also known as Vlad Tepes and Vlad Dracula).

Although Stoker's fictional Dracula has produced fear in the hearts of readers for a hundred years, the real Dracula proved far more dangerous, scarier and real.

Vlad Tepes got born sometime between 1430 and 1431 in a Transylvanian town called Schassburg (aka Sighisoara). Vlad did not live as a vampire; but far worse: as a Christian. Like his father, he joined the Order of the Dragon (Dracul), an ancient Christian society dedicated to fighting Turks and heretics. Vlad earned the name Tepes (TSEH-pesh) which means "Impaler" a reference to Vlad's favorite form of punishment.

In 1408 the Holy Roman Emperor, Sigismund, created the Order of the Dragon. Its statutes required its members to defend the Cross and do battle against its enemies and infidels. Vlad II took the name Dracul and his son, Vlad III took the name Dracula (Son of Dracul).

On Easter Sunday of 1459, Vlad committed his first major act of revenge by arresting the Boyer families whom he held responsible for the death of his father and brother. He impaled the older ones outside the city walls and forced the rest to build what people now identify as Castle Dracula.

In addition to disloyal people and Turks, Vlad regularly impaled infidels, gypsies, lazy peasants and "impure" women. He would pound wooden stakes (like a stauros ) up through their torsos, lollipop style.

Vlad also skinned people alive, roasted them over red-hot coals and by one account from the mid 1400s, "stuck stakes in both breasts of mothers and thrust their babies onto them."

The fictional vampire, Count Dracula killed around 16 characters; the Christian Vlad Dracula killed over 20,000 actual living breathing people.

Consider also that Christianity claims that men lived over 900 years (Adam, Methuselah. etc.), the practice of the Eucharist (consuming bread and wine, the literal drinking of blood and eating the flesh of Christ), praying in front of a statue of a bleeding and dying man staked to lumber, the belief of the rise and resurrection from death, and the promise that, you too, will live eternal as long as you eat the flesh and drink the blood (see John 6:54), and you have all the elements of diabolic vampirism. I don't wish to unduly frighten anyone, but consider that anyone who passes you by as you walk the streets, might serve as a member among millions who visit dark churches every Sunday to receive their weekly fix of drinking Christ's blood in their ritual called communion. Now I don't for one moment believe in this sacrament, but if there occurred any truth to it, wouldn't we, by definition, have to consider them vampires?

For those of us who do not believe, Christianity and Vlad the Impaler represents horror filled examples of how religion can create fear, torture and death. As in that classic movie line, "Be afraid. Be very afraid."

nobeliefs.com/facts.htm#anchor237925



Thu Mar 13, 2008 3:44 am
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Atilla's religion...

While it is true that Atilla was no Christian and paid little attention to traditional religious fan fair he did seem to be motivated by superstition.

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Atilla was said to have found a sword of the war god Mars buried in the ground of a field, with which he was an invincible warrior. Atilla probably did find a sword of some dead warrior and believed it to be a sign that he was destined to rule the world.

hyperhistory.net


Once again we see a power hungry manic fueled by the thought that their destiny was ordained by some god or another.

Later



Thu Mar 13, 2008 4:02 am
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Frank - I stand corrected on the subject of Vlad.

Sigh......

I guess there are no depths to which the human race cannot sink....and yet there seems to be glass ceiling through which we cannot rise......



Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:29 am
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It has been said that religion or not good people will always do good and evil people will always do evil, but for good people to do evil it takes religion.

As far as the glass ceiling goes... I wouldn't give up on humanity just yet, we are still learning and it is a long process hampered by many things, one of which is religion but that is certainly not our only hurtle, despite these setbacks progress has been made and I hope will continue.

Later



Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:48 am
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Frank 013 wrote:
It has been said that religion or not good people will always do good and evil people will always do evil, but for good people to do evil it takes religion.

Frank, again, I disagree. You would also know Keynes comment that "Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist." My point here is that all good action is theory-laden, dependent on an idea. You can't assume that 'good people will always do good' without a coherent shared narrative which provides a reason to do good. That is what Paul meant by salvation by faith



Fri Mar 14, 2008 6:40 am
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[quote]RT
You can't assume that 'good people will always do good' without a coherent shared narrative which provides a reason to do good. That is what Paul meant by salvation by faith



Fri Mar 14, 2008 12:08 pm
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Is there such a thing as true altruism then Frank?

If there is.....we must have evolved far further than I realised......I hadn't noticed. :sad:


Hope your knee is better today.....you know what I think about the benefits of kneeling!!! :twisted:



Fri Mar 14, 2008 3:18 pm
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Is there such a thing as true altruism then Frank?

If there is.....we must have evolved far further than I realized......I hadn't noticed.


I think that there is... I have seen it in the military and in law enforcement. The reward in the cases I have witnessed is not personal but in favor of the person being helped.

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Hope your knee is better today.....you know what I think about the benefits of kneeling!!!


My knee does not hurt, but it does ache and feels weak. Kneeling is out of the question for the moment. :lol:

Later



Fri Mar 14, 2008 3:31 pm
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[quote="Frank 013"]

As far as the track record of secular government... currently on this planet the most civilized, crimeless, fair and free governments are the most secular ones.

I just wanted to quickly clarify that in no way was I suggesting that secular governments have a bad track record. Governments should always be secular, a view that puts me in conflict with most Muslims, probably. What I was trying to say was that ideology that declares itself as atheist has also seemingly been responsible for for millions of murders in the 20th Century. (I say "seemingly" because I don't necessarily agree that particular beliefs we ascribe to people are responsible for what they do.)

I admire the way you've patiently and logically pursued your argument. I might appear stubbornly resistant to your evidence for the inherent danger of monotheistic belief (are you less down on polytheism?). If I am stubborn, the reason is that, as a diagnosis of why things go so wrong in societies, the religion thesis seems so wanting. If you could remove a religious belief that apparently is perpetuating suffering in Africa, unfortunately the way would not then be paved to enlightened action. There could be many other "reasons", not based in religion, invented to not do what seems to be right. One leader in South Africa promotes belief that AIDS is a myth. This comes from no religion, but clearly could be harmful if others are taken in by his reasoning.

Bottom line for me, I guess: humans are just as dangerous without apparent religious motivation as with it.



Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:22 pm
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DWill
I admire the way you've patiently and logically pursued your argument. I might appear stubbornly resistant to your evidence for the inherent danger of monotheistic belief (are you less down on polytheism?).


I am against any belief that demands that faith be observed above reason, and dogma above personal rights, but right now there is one belief in particular that invades my life regularly and that is the one I focus on the most... Christianity.

Quote:
DWill
If I am stubborn, the reason is that, as a diagnosis of why things go so wrong in societies, the religion thesis seems so wanting.


I am not sure why you insist on this, there is in fact overwhelming evidence that in today's age less religious societies are the most civil, respectful and prosperous.

In short, modern societies where religion has the least amount of power have the most personal freedom and the best civil track records.

Quote:
DWill
If you could remove a religious belief that apparently is perpetuating suffering in Africa, unfortunately the way would not then be paved to enlightened action. There could be many other "reasons", not based in religion, invented to not do what seems to be right. One leader in South Africa promotes belief that AIDS is a myth. This comes from no religion, but clearly could be harmful if others are taken in by his reasoning.


That is true to some extent but I will again point out that religion has elements that make it more dangerous and more sustaining in its dogma.

Religions encourage bigotry by setting one irrational belief against others; religions encourage blind devotion to their gods and in many cases to their religious leaders. Religions also encourage following dogma above reason or education. Finally what other belief can encourage action (any action) by offering everlasting paradise?

Quote:
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Bottom line for me, I guess: humans are just as dangerous without apparent religious motivation as with it.


This is true, but if you could remove one reason for acting violently towards your fellow man wouldn't that be beneficial, even if it did not completely eliminate the problem?

It seems to be working in the countries that have managed to make it happen...

Later



Sat Mar 15, 2008 11:18 am
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I am not sure why you insist on this, there is in fact overwhelming evidence that in today's age less religious societies are the most civil, respectful and prosperous
.

About this, I'd reply with the words Voltaire was supposed to have used about Christianity: "Important if true." You'll understand, I'm sure, why I'll need to see this evidence for myself, be satisfied that such ideas as civility and respect have been somehow measured, and see that there could really be a link of causation, not just correlation, between low religious affiliation and these positive qualities. In passing, I note that the U.S. is a religious society. It is prosperous, and I think if we are speaking comparatively, it is also a society in which civility and respect are the norm.

Quote:
This is true, but if you could remove one reason for acting violently towards your fellow man wouldn't that be beneficial, even if it did not completely eliminate the problem?


But religion is not monolithic. It includes so many shades and degrees of belief, some of which may be harmful in the wrong hands, some of which are benign. A religious belief has little determined character in itself; everything depends on believer's use of it (compare it to a firearm, not dangerous unless misused). Religious beliefs can be conveniently singled out for elimination just by virtue of being under the umbrella of religion, while other beliefs that we have agreed can be just as dangerous in the wrong hands, escape being targeted.

I think what we need is a typology of belief that would encompass both secular and religious beliefs. Someone may have done something like this. We need more psychological precision to classify the things people are said to believe. I'm still strongly inclined to think that a rather militant stance against religion, per se, is never going to produce genuine understanding and consensus, only more culture wars.

Sorry to abuse anyone's patience with all of this. I don't speak as a believer of any kind, only as someone who values liberalism (my own idea of it, not the political version).



Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:00 pm
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