Reasons 41 - 50

#52: Aug. - Sept. 2008 (Non-Fiction)
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Chris OConnor
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Reasons 41 - 50

Please use this thread for discussing Reasons 41 - 50:

41. Science can't explain everything.

42. Society would fall apart without religion.

43. My religion is so old, it must be true.

44. Someone I trust told me that my god is real.

45. Atheism is a negative and empty philosophy.

46. Believing in a god doesn't hurt anyone.

47. The earth is perfectly tunes to support life.

48. Believing is natural so my god must be real.

49. The end is near.

50. I am afraid of not believing.
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Penelope
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41. Science can't explain everything.

Well, we don't know what 'black holes' are do we? We don't know what anti-matter is do we? But we know they are there. We haven't explained them yet. There is plenty of time though. An eternity, in fact.

42. Society would fall apart without religion.

Society would fall apart without laws. In the past religion has been used to make people abide by the laws. Then religion has been blamed when people stopped wanting to abide by the laws.

43. My religion is so old, it must be true.

On the grand scale.....no religion is very old. Humans haven't really been here on the earth for very long.....we are still evolving....if we don't exterminate ourselves first.

44. Someone I trust told me that my god is real.

Only my own experience implies that the god part of me is real.....what people have told me has made it all seem 'unreal' at times, not to say downright stupid.

45. Atheism is a negative and empty philosophy.

Atheism is just a state of being. Perhaps you need to reject 'taught' religion as stupid before your inner god enlightens you. If and when you want to be enlightened.

46. Believing in a god doesn't hurt anyone.

Believing and trying to impose your belief on others can hurt millions. Never-the-less, I defend my 'right' to believe. Perhaps I shouldn't. I'll pray about that.

47. The earth is perfectly tunes to support life.

Earth is perfectly tuned to support 'some' forms of life unless we bugger it all up completely.

48. Believing is natural so my god must be real.

The search for a satisfying spiritual life is natural to me.....and actually is very real to me. I only feel half alive if I stop searching...

49. The end is near.

There is no end. There is end of the physical....the soul is infinite and transcends the spiritual.....I THINK!!!!!

50. I am afraid of not believing.

Yes.....I think, therefore I am....if I stop thinking I might stop being.....and in spite of everything....I quite like being.

I'm pink therefore I'm Spam!!!!!

Phew....have I finished? Thank you Chris for posting all these topics/reasons. I am sure I have not answered them to your satisfaction.....but I have answered them to mine.....so:- :kiss:
Only those become weary of angling who bring nothing to it but the idea of catching fish.

He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world is mad....

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p290 - Harrison asks why hasn't a scientist become rich and famous by proving that evolution is wrong.

I think the creationists would say that they have, but science is too close minded and can't look at itself. Of course, this flies in the face of every other change that's happened in science: relativity, big bang, etc, etc, etc.
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p 305(bottom) I really liked Harrison's analysis here. I hearby bow my head to Apollo :laugh:

I remember my High School Sr religion teacher telling me about this reason why being catholic must be true. Of course, he didn't bring up Judaism!
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p319 -
There are different varieties of agnosticism but the popular version of it takes the odd position that gods are unknowable.


Wow, is it just me? I have never heard this definition before. my understanding has always been believer (obvious definition) agnostic (person who is unsure if there is or is not a god) and atheist (person who believes there is no god). Am I alone in having a different definition than the author?
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p346 - In this chapter, Harrison again uses an argument he's used a number of times in the book: why aren't the Christians afraid of the Muslim hell and vice versa. If they are not afraid of the stories of the other religion, why are they afraid of the stories of their own, given that the proof for each set of stories is the same, i.e. nothing!

Do others find this argument effective? It seems to me that you are not really answering the question. I don't believe in those stories because I don't believe in that religion. So, from a believers point of view, I think they are being consistent. Of course, studying the other religions would hopefully make them thing more.....
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Ginof,

I do not think that the argument would be effective against believers, but it is a valid point. What makes one religion so much more valid than others?

The answer is that a person is generally well too indoctrinated before such questions arise in their minds.

Later
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ginof wrote:p346 - In this chapter, Harrison again uses an argument he's used a number of times in the book: why aren't the Christians afraid of the Muslim hell and vice versa. If they are not afraid of the stories of the other religion, why are they afraid of the stories of their own, given that the proof for each set of stories is the same, i.e. nothing! Do others find this argument effective? It seems to me that you are not really answering the question. I don't believe in those stories because I don't believe in that religion. So, from a believers point of view, I think they are being consistent. Of course, studying the other religions would hopefully make them think more.....
For anyone, being afraid of a supernatural hell is really stupid when our species is busy turning our planet into a natural hell. Hell and heaven are nothing more than a throwback from a false pre-modern cosmology, except as they are useful analogies for use in material life. I was just reading Stephen Jay Gould's comment that evolution proceeds by long periods of expanding diversity followed by sudden massive decimation, by which he means loss of 90% rather than 10%. That is scary. Harrison concedes too much to the feasibility of obsolete religious ideas. It would be better if he developed a coherent cosmology which respects the mythic content of religion while setting it within a scientific framework.
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RT,

Changing an existing religion is a very volatile task; it is likely to cause strife between the existing faithful and the faithful of the new religion. History shows us that the advent of a new religion does not necessarily cause the downfall of older ones except in the case where the other religions were condemned by the state or forcefully annihilated.

History gives us some very good examples of this... Judaism to Christianity... Christianity's victory over paganism, Judaism to Islam... the many factions of Christianity... In fact I cannot think of one example that does not involve massive blood letting, and with the exception of the genocide of such religions (the Pagans , Cathars) none of these factions have disappeared from view, they simply remain to continue the fight for their respective view of god.

Enlightenment comes from the absence of religious doctrine, not its manipulability.

Later
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Robert Tulip
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Frank 013 wrote:RT, Changing an existing religion is a very volatile task; it is likely to cause strife between the existing faithful and the faithful of the new religion. History shows us that the advent of a new religion does not necessarily cause the downfall of older ones except in the case where the other religions were condemned by the state or forcefully annihilated. History gives us some very good examples of this... Judaism to Christianity... Christianity's victory over paganism, Judaism to Islam... the many factions of Christianity... In fact I cannot think of one example that does not involve massive blood letting, and with the exception of the genocide of such religions (the Pagans , Cathars) none of these factions have disappeared from view, they simply remain to continue the fight for their respective view of god. Enlightenment comes from the absence of religious doctrine, not its manipulability. Later
Thanks Frank, nice comment, but I think that enlightenment can be reconciled with religion. The agenda should be to retain what is useful from religion within a scientific framework. Hence it is a matter of re-interpreting Christian concepts rather than opposing them - looking at how they are useful within a materialist framework rather than simply critiquing them on an objective basis. If heaven is redefined as our goal for the earth, (as per the Lord's Prayer) we can find a lot more meaning in the Gospels than if we define heaven and hell as imaginary abodes of human immortality (as per the church). On this basis, hell can be redefined as anything that weakens our connection to our real cosmic identity, while heaven is about restoring that connection to enable human fulfillment.
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Chris OConnor
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Robert

Stephen Gould's "Punctuated Equilibrium" that you have described is not widely accepted by the science community. It was his theory (actually, Niles Eldridge....if I spelled that right) and his answer for the gaps in the fossil record. The point is don't put too much weight on PE, as it's called, since PE is not an established theory.
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RT

I suspect that our core issue here is that I do not see anything at all "useful" about religion. (I have managed to live a happy and productive life without it) Religion seems to be holding us back on every front; from scientific to ethical to spiritual it even drains our resources on a social level.

I do not believe for one second that the human race reached the epitome of spiritual enlightenment 2,000 years ago while we lagged behind on all other fronts of achievement.

I believe that there may yet be some higher spiritual research to be done but "modern" religion has anchored us firmly in the ancient past and thus destroyed our ability to advance in this area of study.

What makes one person happier than another?

Why is love more conducive to happiness then hate?

Why do we generally prefer beauty to ugliness?

Why do we generally prefer order to chaos?

Why does it feel so good to smile and laugh and why do these shared experiences bring us closer together?

These are questions for a mature science of the mind, and to my knowledge are not answered acceptably in any religious text.

Religious modernization as an attempt to hold on to what is still serviceable in orthodox religion, closes the door to more sophisticated approaches to spirituality, ethics and community building on a global scale.

Put simply, holding on to the old ways is holding us back.

Later
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Robert Tulip
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Chris OConnor wrote:Robert

Stephen Gould's "Punctuated Equilibrium" that you have described is not widely accepted by the science community. It was his theory (actually, Niles Eldridge....if I spelled that right) and his answer for the gaps in the fossil record. The point is don't put too much weight on PE, as it's called, since PE is not an established theory.


Hi Chris, I have heard of the controversy between Gould and Dawkins over punctuated equilibrium, but that is not quite what I am talking about. Whatever the details, the fact is that the Permian-Triassic Extinction Event was one big punctuation mark, as were the other spikes between the epochs.

What worries me is that religionists blithely conduct imaginary conversations about heaven and hell, when this real data from the history of our planet demonstrates the material risks to our species.

btw, Dawkins said punctuated equilibrium "lies firmly within the neo-Darwinian synthesis."
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Frank 013 wrote:RT I suspect that our core issue here is that I do not see anything at all "useful" about religion. (I have managed to live a happy and productive life without it) Religion seems to be holding us back on every front; from scientific to ethical to spiritual it even drains our resources on a social level. I do not believe for one second that the human race reached the epitome of spiritual enlightenment 2,000 years ago while we lagged behind on all other fronts of achievement. I believe that there may yet be some higher spiritual research to be done but "modern" religion has anchored us firmly in the ancient past and thus destroyed our ability to advance in this area of study. What makes one person happier than another? Why is love more conducive to happiness than hate? Why do we generally prefer beauty to ugliness? Why do we generally prefer order to chaos? Why does it feel so good to smile and laugh and why do these shared experiences bring us closer together? These are questions for a mature science of the mind, and to my knowledge are not answered acceptably in any religious text. Religious modernization, as an attempt to hold on to what is still serviceable in orthodox religion, closes the door to more sophisticated approaches to spirituality, ethics and community building on a global scale. Put simply, holding on to the old ways is holding us back. Later

Frank, your comments are thoughtful, deep, succinct, coherent and insightful. And yet, I argue that you are missing the essential story. Today at my church the sermon was a critique of what I call "the evangelical heresy" the idea that the purpose of faith is to get to heaven. Both believers and unbelievers assume this 'heresy' is at the centre of orthodox Christianity, but our preacher pointed out that this idea is entirely absent from the teachings of Jesus, who taught the point of salvation is to have abundant life and transform the world, and nowhere prayed 'may I go to heaven'. There is an amazing disconnect here between the actual message of the Gospels and what tradition has claimed in it. I see this disconnect as grounded in the mutation of the Christian meme from an original message of genius into something that could be understood by selfish ignorant people. So it is hardly surprising that your 'mature questions' find no answer in the church.

I am now reading (another!) a wonderful book, Plan Be by Dave Andrews. The linked site says
"Plan Be rescues the 'beatitudes' from their obscurity as a poetic introduction to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount and reframes them as a set of radical 'Be-Attitudes' that can enable us to 'be the change we want to see in the world'. According to Dave Andrews, the 'Be-Attitudes' are an original, imaginative and brilliantly do-able set of realistic ideals that introduce us to Jesus' ingenious way of engaging our world of poverty and violence."
The problem you have identified is that orthodox Christianity has been corrupted by false ideas at its core, which are so entrenched that no one can say the emperor has no clothes. This call to account is what Plan Be, and other books like it, provide, with a good answer to your challenge regarding religious modernisation.

In considering your comments, I have been thinking about how Christianity can provide a central message for an evolutionary worldview. This requires a first recognition that creationism is an evil and heretical doctrine which needs to be exposed as a fraudulent danger. Moving forward, with a materialist interpretation of the Gospels, we can see that spirituality needs to be built upon a material base, and that failure to anchor spirit in scientific reality makes the church a hypocritical laughing stock. How might this anchoring of spirit in matter be achieved? To my mind a central answer is provided by Jesus' quote from David:
"The stone the builder refused will be head of the corner."
This refers to the fact that in building an arch, square stones are used first and crooked ones are set aside, but when the keystone is put in place, holding the whole together by gravity, the builder returns to the discard pile as the source. This is, I suggest, a model for the evolutionary ethical tasks facing our world. We need to look for and find the ideas and people and things that are marginalised by the dominant culture, and celebrate them as the centre of a new world. The refused have the strength and dignity that is needed for reform, and putting them at the centre creates the dynamic for a transformative vision. But it is not about revolution, as one thing that evolutionary science has taught is that successful change builds on precedent.

The problem is that Jesus predicted that the world would get it wrong, so we should expect that major institutions share in this failure. The churches cannot see a path forward because the humility required for honest dialogue is too great for their entrenched power. You say there are more sophisticated approaches than religion to community building on a global scale, but I say the story of Jesus speaks truth to power, and rekindling that story is the best strategy for global transformation.
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Robert Tulip wrote: To my mind a central answer is provided by Jesus' quote from David:
"The stone the builder refused will be head of the corner."
This refers to the fact that in building an arch, square stones are used first and crooked ones are set aside, but when the keystone is put in place, holding the whole together by gravity, the builder returns to the discard pile as the source.


Didn't the Romans invent the arch?

Tom
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