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When Religion is not poison 
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Post When Religion is not poison
Below are a few religious scholars and thinkers left out of Hitchens' equation regarding the poison of religion:

Susannah Heschel (Jewish feminist scholar of modern biblical criticism)



James Carroll (writer, activist, former Catholic priest)



Cornel West (writer, professor of philosophy, religion and African American culture)



John Dominic Crossan (writer, professor of historical Jesus studies, former Priest)



Louis Vitale (Franciscan activist, priest and teacher)



Wendell Berry (Protestant Christian farmer/poet)



Richard Cizik (National Association of Evangelicals, Creation Care)




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Fri Mar 06, 2009 11:10 pm
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It's my impression from several things Hitchens says in Chapter One that he would not condemn what these people have to say as poison. The particulars he lists as "poison" in Chapter Two are of quite a different order. Perhaps he does bring this confusion on himself by his rhetoric.


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Fri Mar 06, 2009 11:22 pm
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Cool videos. :smile:



Sun Mar 08, 2009 12:31 am
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What is it about these positive religious association which make the topics seem so dry? The message is mixed, on one hand religion is supposed to provide sometime of moral authority and serve as a allegory on the other it is as ineffectual as anything else its associations are thin compared to comparable secular works, and may as I am sure Hitchens points out cause more harm than good. Nothing wrong with some quite prayer but do we really need crosses in the streets or in the presidential office?

Religion its self is contradictory, any benefit it provided has been extracted and converted into secular format. The importance of religion is a private matter and should stay that way, not as some type of publicity spun sentimental cure all for modern problems. Being unable to concede to fact and reality or having willing aptitude to mislead peers with bias should be considered a grave failing and as such prevent a persons rise to eminence based on these mistakenly legitimized pseudo-intellectual opinions. At least on any issue that matters. Society should no longer accept the bible as an answer... to anything...ever.

:book:



Sun Mar 08, 2009 1:12 am
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What is it about these positive religious association which make the topics seem so dry? The message is mixed, on one hand religion is supposed to provide sometime of moral authority and serve as a allegory on the other it is as ineffectual as anything else.


Religion, as is everything, is a mixture of beauty and repugnance. Some of these speakers are talking more of politics than they are of religion. Perhaps this is a problem, but it is extremely complicated. How much of our decisions and political beliefs come from from our beliefs about where we came from, what our purpose in the world is, if there is a God or not? Religion is not always based in the idea that a God exists. There are Hindus who do not believe in God and yet practice daily rituals. Buddhists do not always believe in God either.

I agree that mixing religion and government is problematic. I have been to sessions of the State Legislature and it is scary how much the beginning of the day feels like a church service. But how far do we go? Where do we draw the boundries? I think that is a constant discussion that we are having in American society. While Dan Barker may have a problem with the fact that he has to get involved to have his voice heard in the government, I would say that that is what our society is about. We all have to be involved to have our voices heard. We are all the government. And living in a democratic republic is a lot of work. Which is why so many people are not involved.

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Religion its self is contradictory, any benefit it provided has been extracted and converted into secular format.


Human beings are contradictory. :) Hence, so is religion.

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Being unable to concede to fact and reality...


But that is the question. Whose "fact and reality" is the right one?

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having willing aptitude to mislead peers with bias should be considered a grave failing and as such prevent a persons rise to eminence based on these mistakenly legitimized pseudo-intellectual opinions. At least on any issue that matters.


I totally disagree. Everyone has a bias. Society does weed out the biases that are not liked. Unfortunately the hurtful biases pass through along with the biases that build us up.

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Society should no longer accept the bible as an answer... to anything...ever.


Perhaps not. But I think that people in the society should be able to choose to accept the Bible, another religious book, or no religious book at all, as an answer.



Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:00 am
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seespotrun2008 wrote:
Quote:
Religion its self is contradictory, any benefit it provided has been extracted and converted into secular format.


Human beings are contradictory. :) Hence, so is religion.


Right, so religions claim to higher moral legitimacy is fundamentally flawed/false.

seespotrun2008 wrote:
Quote:
Being unable to concede to fact and reality...


But that is the question. Whose "fact and reality" is the right one?


I don't know if "fact and reality" is all that subjective other than to varying degrees of comprehension. Of course it is but does it need to be? It's like a law, the law is written down all interpretation must stem from the basic writ, you can't legally start making up your own rules. If fact and reality is established what good is an institution that attempts to legitimize what amounts to grave disinformation? (i.e. there is a god)

seespotrun2008 wrote:
Quote:
having willing aptitude to mislead peers with bias should be considered a grave failing and as such prevent a persons rise to eminence based on these mistakenly legitimized pseudo-intellectual opinions. At least on any issue that matters.


I totally disagree. Everyone has a bias. Society does weed out the biases that are not liked. Unfortunately the hurtful biases pass through along with the biases that build us up.


And so having a willing aptitude to mislead is acceptable because strong opinions are natural? If someone were spreading disinformation would you shrug and say "Oh well, they are just naturally spreading their bias," as if it doesn't matter? I don't think that normalizing some supposedly negative aspect of bias, outside of certain applications of it, is appropriate. Obviously everyone has opinions, does that mean that it is acceptable for strangely irrational ones to go unchallenged?

seespotrun2008 wrote:
Quote:
Society should no longer accept the bible as an answer... to anything...ever.


Perhaps not. But I think that people in the society should be able to choose to accept the Bible, another religious book, or no religious book at all, as an answer.


In the privacy of their own homes and churches.

:book:



Sun Mar 08, 2009 11:45 am
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I would argue (as I think that Hitchens might) that the above videos are a result of cultural humanitarian in spite of the original biblical messages, not because of them.

Later


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Mon Mar 09, 2009 2:54 pm
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Frank 013 wrote:
I would argue (as I think that Hitchens might) that the above videos are a result of cultural humanitarian in spite of the original biblical messages, not because of them.

Hitchens might argue this way, I'm not sure. But is there a possible logical fallacy in the thinking? The question seems to go begging: if the message from the religion spokesman is not harmful, then it must not have anything to do with religion. The answer is assumed but not substantiated.

Hitchens appears to see religion as a kind of force multiplier in a negative sense. He mentions tribalism, racism, and aggression as negative forces in themselves, but I think he sees religions as adding a strong impetus to these. If it is reasonable to extrapolate this, I think it rings true. Religion is often an intensifier of built-in human drives that usually have unfortunate consequences (but not always).

Somewhat in line with seespotrun's statement that religion is both beautiful and deplorable, could it also be that religion can be a force multiplier in the other direction? Thinking of the example of American slavery, we have religious justifications of the institution of slavery, but also I believe a considerable contribution to the abolition of slavery from evangelicals. Would it be claimed that their conviction had no relation to how they saw their religious duty? If, so, on what basis? There is a similar relationship observed with the much later civil rights movement. It doesn't seem reasonable to assume that the bigots were in the grip of religion, while the enlightened ones in a different religious camp were humanistic despite religion. Or so I speculate.


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Mon Mar 09, 2009 6:18 pm
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DWill
Hitchens might argue this way, I'm not sure. But is there a possible logical fallacy in the thinking? The question seems to go begging: if the message from the religion spokesman is not harmful, then it must not have anything to do with religion. The answer is assumed but not substantiated.


What I am saying is that the most literal readings of the material from the Koran, Torah and Christian bible are not moral in a modern sense. We as a society are moving away from the old behavior and the above religions (for the most part) are responding in kind by reinterpreting the older text to coincide with our evolving and improving humanity.

This cannot be a result of the biblical texts because their messages do not contain our modern morality.

In spite of this we advanced in our way of thinking, (who knows how much those religions slowed us down though) thankfully most religions are following along (albeit at a slower pace) and some people seem to be sensing the hypocritical nature of certain religious beliefs.

For example: Religious people when confronted with the irrational nature of their beliefs, take the stance that “We should have the right to believe whatever we want and no one should interfere with that right” and “people should be tolerant of others lifestyles and belief choices” in nearly the same breath they claim that Gays should not have the right to marry.

This is not a fringe group either; some 60+ percent of American Christians believe this.

What is hopeful is that the religions seem to be loosing ground in this country, at approximately .1 percent per year.

At any rate, it is our separation from the literal tenets in the biblical text that allows us to become more humanitarian, not the other way around. Weather it is through reinterpretation or simply a choice to live apart from those obsolete beliefs does not seem to matter much; simply that we have chosen better options for our societies is hopeful in most respects.

But there is still much work to be done.

Later


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Mon Mar 09, 2009 9:19 pm
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Thanks, I found your first paragraph helped me understand your point of view. On the subject of religion's popularity, a recent large study (which I haven't yet found out more about) reported that "only" 76% of Americans polled identified themselves as Christians, down by 10% from the first such survey in 1991. The report said that these Christians were more likely to "non-denominational", which probably means of the more fundamentalist type. Somewhat fewer of us are Christian, but more Christians have adopted conservative religion, which mirrors the greatly increased influence that the Christian right has had in public life.


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Post when religion is not poison
i've never understood how anyone could refer to and discuss "religion" as though it were one thing. i understand that we can discuss "the practice of religion" as something. is that what hitchens says poisons? the practice of religion? surely he can't mean "religion" itself - everything that ranges from the daily meditations of a buddhist monk, the prsotrations of a hindi, the rigidity of an islamic fundamentalist, the arcane ceremonies of a wiccan, the flowing philosophies of the tao. surely someone wouldn't be as bold and nearsighted as to lump all these myriad forms, aspects, feelings, beliefs (inextricably tied to and differentiated by each individual and his or her own relationship to the specific practice)? that would be, well, absurd. that would be like saying "how talking poisons the world."



Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:24 pm
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Post when religion is not poison
then again, maybe it's just a catchy title engineered to sell some books. :)



Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:25 pm
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You have to think about religion this way, such as Socrates may have all those years ago; religion only blinds those who follow it. Religion is a way for people to see the world they want to see it, giving them a blind purpose in the world, as well as a hollow understanding of how the world works. Do they know it is true? No. Do they think it is true? Yes. Often the human brain confuses this. In essence, every religion you follow is simply a proposed understanding of how the world works, who rules it and what your purpose in it is. It is a weak attempt to create an order to humans, so they understand the world and understand their place. When you really think about it, do we KNOW that Jesus, the Buddha or Zeus and the other greek gods really exist? Do we KNOW who created them? Myth or fact, we do not know, so how is religion doing anything good for us besides giving us blind reassurance that the world is safe in the hands of a god?

My message is: Religion is not good. It has caused many wars, and all it is, is a blind reassurance of the world around is!
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Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:33 pm
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Post Re: when religion is not poison
axisage wrote:
then again, maybe it's just a catchy title engineered to sell some books. :)


What can I say, ya hit the nail right on the head! ;)

Actually, to be honest, I think the context of 'poison' in this title is the painful suffering it has caused us. Poison is a murdering substance, often slow and sufferable. In the context of this story, 'poison' is a reference to how much pain and suffering religion has caused the world. For example; the ancient greeks and spartans...they disliked each other. Wonder why? Because they belived differently! The Spartans belived in murder, theft, and war. Greece, they were more concerned with trading wares, studying and the gods. The Spartans chose to fight them because they thought the Greeks were...hmm...let's say 'Pansies', becuase they belived in praying and studying, while the spartans were concerned with hardcore battle training and war.

Another great example would be the Iraqi battle. Iraq belives in one leader; a dictator, of sorts. He convinced them that they should have war; he was like a god, of sorts. Nearly everyone else around them, however, belive in shared leadership, and peace. First class example of pure war. They hated each other because of their different beliefs and decided to have war, to see the superior of the group.

War is slow, never fast; especially the big ones I placed above. There has almost been no peace in this world, and it has slowly started to tear away at most human's sanity, as well as causing massive waves of paranoia and fear. It has brought us nothing good, and the bloody path leads to many things; including religion.

These are just a few of the great examples of why he may have placed 'poison' in the title of the book.
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Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:44 pm
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Quote:
axisage
I’ve never understood how anyone could refer to and discuss "religion" as though it were one thing.


In the book Hitchens says that he is mostly talking about the major religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism. However he also says something along the lines that any belief derived from a fairy tale is a dangerous thing at worst… and guilty of perpetuating ignorance at best.

Later


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