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What I've learned so far 
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Post What I've learned so far
Like many of us, I've always assumed that fundamentalism was some kind of literal "returning"; Armstrong begins with an excellent case that it is not at all, but rather a modern response to conemporary conditions. This insight alone would be worth the time and effort of reading the book.


If you make yourself really small, you can externalize virtually everything. Daniel Dennett, 1984




Wed Jan 12, 2005 9:55 pm
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Post Re: What I've learned so far
Yes...I was impressed with this take too Jeremy. It is kind of what I thought already, but she clarified and amplified it in my head.

It seems this is going to be a hard battle, between secular freedom and religious ignorance (of all flavors). I read a passage from a book yesterday that had me thinking. In short, it said that the changes being implemented now by the Bush administration will effect many generations to come. Referring to judges and policy and the belittling of scientific research in favor of religious beliefs (restraining stem cell research and creationism in schools).

I am worried.

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

I came to get down, I came to get down. So get out ya seat and jump around - House of Pain

HEY! Is that a ball in your court? - Mr. P

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Thu Jan 13, 2005 9:51 am
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Post Re: Human Nature?
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Just as it is difficult



Sat Jan 15, 2005 6:08 am
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Post Re: Human Nature?
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Aren't all human babies explorers?


Absolutely! It is the parents and societal pressures that form the adult, which inevitably inhibits exploration and fosters conformity. Religion is the biggest inhibitor of true exploration, for the tenets of the religion come first and foremost...at least to the Fundamentalist.

I work with a young Jehovah Witness, he is a good kid and has been talking to me about his doubts about what he is being taught and told. He says that his family and the closed circle of friends are trying to instill in him the urge to NOT seek knowledge and to accept the teachings of the cult (yes I said cult).

This kid is truly searching for answers and direction and I give him so much credit, for as a 17 year old...my thoughts were on Heavy Metal, girls and weed! I feel he wants to leave the strict aspect of the religion, not totally heave it, but get out in the real world and see what is there. He also tells me that if he mentioned this to his parents, they would kick him out, as they already did to his sister. Nice huh?

My point is that our human nature is most definitely there, but it is the environment we grow in that creates the society as a whole and the divisions it inevitably has. Population evolution at work, a norm of reaction on a large scale. Now, given this dichotomy, which will eventually become the species? I think reason will win out.

I agree with Armstrong in that myth has most definitely shaped who we are and what we have become. But I think that this is a time to acknowledge the fact and move on to a more rational world view. This secular tendency has been going on for some time, and this is why we have the Fundamentalist movements that we are experiencing now. Fundamentalists feel they are under attack and are fighting back. One side just does not understand the other.

I guess I ended where this started!

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

I came to get down, I came to get down. So get out ya seat and jump around - House of Pain

HEY! Is that a ball in your court? - Mr. P

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Sat Jan 15, 2005 10:30 am
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Post Re: Human Nature?
It's a little simplistic to say that human nature is naturally inquisitive or rational (or kind, for that matter), and that we have those qualities stamped out of us by religion or society or whatever. It's humans that make religions and societal norms; the fact that they exist tells us a lot about our 'nature,' whether we want to hear it or not.

Steve Dutch goes into this argument better than I have time to right now at www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/PSEUD...ntiInt.htm

You also might be interested in his piece on arguing with biblical literalists www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/PSEUD...Miscon.HTM




Sat Jan 22, 2005 9:20 pm
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Post Re: Human Nature?
The only thing I agree with is that we are not kind by nature.

Of course we are inquisitive...I dont think we can question that (but it would be natural to do just that!) I emphatically believe that religion, or any other human construct, inhibits individual growth. The individual is an amazing force, it is the propensity of our species to be communal that creates the shackles of societal 'rules of order' and behavior. It is the curse of those who cannot 'do' wanting & needing to control the fruits of those who can.

Religion, politics and other control mechanisms have, and this is an un-provable assumption on my part, deprived us of inventions, innovations, progressive thought and beneficial change because of the necessity of each mechanism to retain relevancy and power of position.

This does not change the fact that we are inquisitive, rational or unkind...it is just another facet of our being. Much of the human condition seems to be contradiction, ie - We are the most intelligent species on the planet, yet we do such un-intelligent things. We grow our population exponentially and destroy the resources need to sustain us.

Mr. P.



The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

I came to get down, I came to get down. So get out ya seat and jump around - House of Pain

HEY! Is that a ball in your court? - Mr. P

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Sun Jan 23, 2005 5:51 pm
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Post Re: Human Nature?
misterpessimistic: I emphatically believe that religion, or any other human construct, inhibits individual growth.

Perhaps, but it would be absurd to ignore the fact that they also extend the potential for human growth. Without the education procided by educational institutions, for instance, how likely would it be for any individual to arrive at the sort of scientific, mathematic, or literary proficiency that is rather commonplace in modern industrialized nations? The same applies to religious institutions. The (unfounded) view that religious doctrines are arbitrary constructions devised for ulterior motives obscures the fact that most religious institutions give the layman access to spiritual conceptions and refinements that would be beyond the capacity of most people in the scope of a lifetime.

We are the most intelligent species on the planet

Only because we're the ones who get to say what is meant by the word "intelligence".




Sun Jan 23, 2005 10:42 pm
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Post Re: Human Nature?
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Without the education procided by educational institutions, for instance, how likely would it be for any individual to arrive at the sort of scientific, mathematic, or literary proficiency that is rather commonplace in modern industrialized nations? The same applies to religious institutions.


I suppose...but organized religion has ruined the spiritual pursuit. I do not consider education and institutions meant to teach truth and intellectual (the bane of modern Conservatives...I wonder why?) growth based on empirical truth and the search for such truth a hindrance to human growth.

This brings me back to the main point...humans are by nature seekers of the elusive "why". All forms of stimulus are good to satiate of thirst for knowledge. It is when doctrine is enforced by rote and acceptance of such doctrine is mandatory that things go horribly wrong. I do not see this in the search for true knowledge and understanding, but I do see this in politics and religion...two of the most prevalent forms of crowd control over the past few thousand years.

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

I came to get down, I came to get down. So get out ya seat and jump around - House of Pain

HEY! Is that a ball in your court? - Mr. P

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Sun Jan 23, 2005 11:37 pm
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Post Re: Human Nature?
Armstrong seems to have a recurring theme, of a "right" way and a "wrong" way to "do" religion. She keeps talking about "mystical" "truths", as though religion is fine as long as it keeps its mythos in and in its right place, but @#%$ up as soon as it relies on logos. Every so often she throws a nod to the modern world of reason in, but I sense a subtext, not explicitly stated, that "knowing through sacred insight" is a loss to us.

I'm trying to keep an open mind about this but I guess, as a modern rational, the whole "good priests dig out mystical truth" thing rings off key for me.


If you make yourself really small, you can externalize virtually everything. Daniel Dennett, 1984




Mon Jan 24, 2005 8:25 am
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Post Re: Human Nature?
Thanks, captainobfuscation, for that terrific article. I agree that what he refers to as the standard model borders on goofy and appreciate the introduction of actual evidence into the discussion, something all of sociology seems remarkably weak on. My point is a little different, though. It's not that human nature necesarrily makes us one of Armstrong's ways or another, but rather, given our fundamental sameness, can one way really be right for one group of people while a dramatically opposed way is right for another? It seems to me that one or the other must, of necessity, be culture opposing human nature.


If you make yourself really small, you can externalize virtually everything. Daniel Dennett, 1984




Mon Jan 24, 2005 8:35 am
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Post Re: Human Nature?
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can one way really be right for one group of people while a dramatically opposed way is right for another? It seems to me that one or the other must, of necessity, be culture opposing human nature.



hmmm...but evolution is not telelogical is it? There are many ways we can go...is this not the same for different culture as well?

I think there are more ways than one for humans to progress.

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

I came to get down, I came to get down. So get out ya seat and jump around - House of Pain

HEY! Is that a ball in your court? - Mr. P

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Thu Jan 27, 2005 10:21 pm
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