is religion a poison and atheism the antidote?
the poison in religion is the method used. It is toxic to knowledge.It’s a guaranteed way to fool ourselves, to impose our beliefs on reality and then be told it is a virtue to presume reality must comport to them. The methodology is called basing beliefs on faith.
The harm is caused when evidence from reality that arbitrates the belief to be incorrect is rejected because it is not respected. That’s what faith is: a substitution for reality. It is identical to delusional thinking. It is a way to divorce beliefs held about reality from reality’s role to arbitrate them. (Tildeb)
I’m starting to see why some religious people are mistaking atheism for another kind of faith-based belief system. At its core, atheism is simply rejecting that any gods exist, and coming to the conclusion that the religions developed by humans in times of relative ignorance have natural and traceable human roots, rather than supernatural inspiration.
But moving beyond these basics, perhaps many atheists do what people have always done – we form into groups of common thinking, based on shared understandings and more frequently drawn from textbooks that start to resemble holy tracts of wisdom. An ideology is created. And, as is all too often the case, it’s an ideology that needs an enemy.
Let’s look at a couple of examples of issues that can either be ‘poisoned’ by religion subsitituting faith for reality, or evaluated logically based on evidence by atheists.
Christians, using their holy textbook the Bible, are presented with the example set by their man god Jesus. He made it abundantly clear that those who have faith should sell all their belongings and give them to the poor. He told the story of the ‘Good Samaritan’ who helped the mugged, foreign stranger at risk and cost to himself. In the Christian faith, everyone is our neighbour and we are obliged to help them.
Atheists, using evidence based on reality, have to evaluate what resources are available, what risks there are in intervening or not intervening, and what impact the suffering of others has on them. They might want to include the Golden Rule (although no obligation) and consider how they would feel in the situation of the refugees. Or they might just shrug their shoulders and get on with their own lives.
Christians, using their holy textbook the Bible, are presented with the knowledge that their god created man and woman. However, as the Bible doesn’t talk explicitly about trans people, they will look for other indications, either through their observation of the world (which clearly includes people who are born intersex – with formations of both biological sexes) or personal experiences. They could also resort to basing their conclusions on some foundation messages in the Bible, such as not judging others and loving everyone.
Atheists, using evidence based on reality, have to examine studies and observe the impact of trans people on society in order to come to any conclusion. Or they can just go with a gut ‘live and let live’ feeling or a gut ‘that’s not natural!’ feeling. Some fringe radical feminist atheists might also choose their textbook ideology interpretation that tells them all gender roles are oppressive patriarchy, therefore trans people are evil for choosing one of those roles (not like non-trans people who live a stereotypical gender role).
The obvious conclusion here is that people think whatever they think! We all know that there is a large body of Christian thinking that ignores all the ‘faith-based rules’ and wants to avoid helping refugees, and we all know that there are few obvious right and wrong directions in the vast rambling text that is the Bible (everything is open to interpretation!). Christians take differing views on every aspect of life and their opinion in coloured by their own life experiences and knowledge – just like atheists.
Atheism is not some kind of antidote to the poison of wonky religious thinking. Wonky thinking will always happen, not least because we are never in possession of all the facts, not least because there never is a ‘correct’ course of action and not least because we are all always swayed by our own underlying biases and our own personal experiences of life and people within it.
Religion is at worst an added complication, much like every other form of ignorance in every matter that affects all of us in our decision making. When we start making ‘religion’, this perfectly natural part of our evolution, some kind of enemy, we move into the territory of every other ignorant and intolerant human ideology that has tainted our past. And it’s not a good place to be.
Once some developed religious faith-based belief is properly understood to be the seductive vice it is, non belief is simply the return to the default setting.
That’s not an ‘alternative’; it’s a starting point.
The default setting is empty. It now has to be developed into something… something that must be predicated on respecting what’s true about reality based on reality to fill out whatever beliefs we have about it. Now – and only now – can we begin to inform our set of beliefs with good reasons and be able to use reality to indicate by evidence just how good or poor those reasons may be. This empty starting point is not some carte blanche ideology that you present. That’s why what you’ve done here is put together an false equivalency.
Remember, atheism is not a belief. As an ideology, atheism is a null set; it contains no fundamental precepts.
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The default setting for humans is religion. We’re in a minority and didn’t hardly exist until the last few hundred years.
Apart from that, did you read the post? I covered the point about atheism not being a belief. What’s happening is that ideologies are being creating around it and some (like you) are opting in. That huge quote you left in the last post is proof if anyone needed it. There are too many people quoting too many rousing memes these days.
No, the default setting is not religious belief. It is an absence of belief as demonstrated by all kinds of child development studies.
Children have to be taught about religious belief because they already come to understand that (in a universe with entropy) an effect has a cause. They go and look for it. Only if they don’t find it do children maintain trust that the effect still had a cause… no matter how ludicrous or magical that assigned cause may turn out to be.
What religions do is piggyback on this natural inclination to look for agency for causes (and we have to do this to activate our neurology upon which we can then ‘put ourselves the other shoe’ to better determine hostile or benign motivation) and substitute superstitious nonsense. It is actually difficult for children to make that break between looking for real causes for real effects by some natural mechanism they can understand (and thus, control) with a magical intervention by a transcendental agency from realms unknown using mystical forces to cause an effect. Because young brains tend to be more credulous than older brains, this is why religious belief can be clearly plotted by geography and not its truth value. Children have to be taught to believe in woo.
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They have to be taught to believe in organised forms of woo, just as we have to be indoctrinated by any ideology to believe its specifics. What we do in the absence of the established frameworks is make up our own – and this includes superstitious beliefs which morph into religions. It’s our default setting, just like communication and language – if we didn’t have established methods to imitate, we’d make up our own.
Whereas you use the phrase ‘make up our own’ for science in the sense I used it to describe the made-up explanations by religion, you really should use the term ‘model’ when used with anything else.
We model explanations and see if the data from reality comports. (This is what young children do all the time; they don;t assume they know. They test, and test, and test…) Very few explanatory models are successful, so we continue the process. We discard these models that fail reality;’s arbitration of it. We pare down the ones that seem to advance our understanding to the point where, if it successfully incorporates all the data we have accumulated to challenge the explanatory framework, we elevate it to become a ‘theory’.
This is not an ideology. This is a methodology
There is NOTHING equivalent in the process of gaining insight like this through faith-based beliefs. Again, you offer a false equivalency and slip both into the drawer YOU have labeled as ideology. Testing explanatory models against reality is not an ideology! It’s a means to test ideas and concepts and model them for testing to see what reality has to say in the matter. That’s not equivalent to the acquisition for religious beliefs, VW; that’s how you defeat smallpox and land interplanetary probes on tumbling asteroids millions of kilometers out in space. That’s not a case of similar but a different kind of ideology! That’s the difference between a methodology that produces no knowledge and one that does.
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Let’s look at the the person who scientifically tested models that led to defeating smallpox.
You are assuming (over and over and over again) religious belief or faith switches off every other part of a person’s brain. Here are few things to seriously ponder:
1. scientific method and religious beliefs aren’t mutually exclusive.
Read Joan Roughgarden’s CV http://web.stanford.edu/~rough/
Or read about Brian Koblika https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/2012/kobilka-facts.html
Or what about William Newsome: https://profiles.stanford.edu/william-newsome
Even Fabiola Gianotti doesn’t have your arrogance, stating only that physics can neither prove not disprove the existence of gods https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2014/nov/09/fabiola-gianotti-new-director-general-cern
2. I never said scientific method was an ideology – you are (deliberately?) racing off on long rants from your high horse that don’t even being to discuss what’s in the post. Ideology (on wikipedia) “is a collection of beliefs held by an individual, group or society. It can be described as a set of conscious and unconscious ideas which make up one’s beliefs, goals, expectations, and motivations.” What you lay out in your rants, backed up by quotes from your ‘leaders’ and with thunderous applause from your ‘followers’ amounts to an ideology. You are not, at any stage, using scientific method to prove that religion makes people more harmful individuals. You are not, at any stage, using scientific method to prove that gods don’t exist (if Fabiola says it can’t be done, I’ll take her word for it over your’s any day). You are simply blowing populist hot air.
3. I agree that some people who follow religions can support harmful actions, and challenging these ideas is what I’ve dedicated most of my blogging space to. But I don’t want these specific challenges to be confused with hatred of religion, or a feeling of superiority about religion. Challenge the individual actions, not the overarching belief system, which every person is entitled to hold.
1. “You are assuming (over and over and over again) religious belief or faith switches off every other part of a person’s brain.”
No, I’m not. Never said this, never thought this, and I certainly don;t believe it.
2. “You are not, at any stage, using scientific method to prove that religion makes people more harmful individuals.”
This is not what I said. Ever. What I said was faith-based belief was a failed methodology, one that when used is always toxic to knowledge and equivalent to ignorance. That’s why good scientists who are also religious must compartmentalize their religion not to pollute their science.
3. “Challenge the individual actions, not the overarching belief system, which every person is entitled to hold.”
You can’t do the first using reason and evidence when the belief system respects neither.
And yes, people can believe whatever they want. But as soon as they try to import and then impose their faith-based belief on others, then they have crossed the line and should be subject to criticism for doing so. You seem quite comfortable defending the idea that criticism of a cause – in this case the reliance of using faith-based rationalizations (for that is what they must be when divorced from reality’s arbitration of them) – is somehow the greater harm than criticism of each of the million pernicious effects. This makes you just another run of the mill religious apologist. I wonder why?
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So basically you’re admitting that scientists can do their job well and compartmentalise their religion. That’s the whole point. Everyone can. Everyone does. Feel free to ignore your silly smallpox comment and ignore the fact that top scientists can be religious and continue to puff. 🙂
As I’ve stated up and down all over this post, I don’t agree that religion is the ’cause’ of the harmful behaviours. They would happen anyway. It actually gives them a useful framework of operation that can be challenged.
For example, how do you argue against slavery? In a Christian framework, there’s lots to choose from, but the basic message is that everyone is equal and everyone should be loved. Devoid of a religious framework, we can only appeal to empathy and common sense in terms of reciprocal treatment. I personally think the Christian framework provides more compelling reasons for an individual. That doesn’t make it better in any way, but it gives it function that life without religions doesn’t have. And its worth thinking seriously about what impacts that will have on wider society – wider than us self-righteous, moral-banging atheists trying to make a point to internet Christians.
Regarding slavery, you say “Devoid of a religious framework, we can only appeal to empathy and common sense in terms of reciprocal treatment.”
And supported by excellent scientific evidence you forgot to mention.
You say stuff like this as if what reality offers us as evidence is not enough, that we have to add a framework of woo to really support good reasons and overwhelming evidence against slavery.
Seriously, this is what you’re doing. You simply ignore the historical religious support for slavery! And you do this by doing what religious people do: pretend this additional framework is of some keen benefit, as if it uniquely offers us a really important and insightful moral benefit, as if without religion’s ‘contribution’ we cannot possibly rely only on good reasons supported by compelling evidence from reality because it somehow it must be ‘immoral’ without some stamp of religious justification!
The list of groundless assumptions you have to make and presume to be true in order to protect the claim that religion doesn’t poison everything but is of some virtuous benefit – like Pinocchio’s nose – just keeps growing.
The list of straw man arguments you have to make and presume to be true in order to protect your claim there’s something to argue about here just keeps growing. Let’s be clear – I’m not saying we need religion to do any of these things. I’m clearly stating (with examples and everything!) that there are different ways of arriving at the same conclusions. So stop pretending I’m claiming religion is the only way to offer insightful moral benefit. 🙂
VW, you are confused. You think I’m using a straw man to say that your position is that religion is the only way to offer insightful moral benefit.
Yes, this is a straw man… because that’s not my position and it’s not my understanding of yours!
Your position is that religion does produce benefit attributable to religion that demonstrates why ‘religion poisons everything’ is incorrect.
So, I want evidence that religion really does produce benefit. You have not provided it.
I claim that means you are utilizing a belief that is not adduced from reality but imposed on it. That fits the definition of a faith-based belief… one that is incorrect by reality’s arbitration of it (the claim you make has no supportive evidence) but maintained anyway (because you’re not mean and filled with hate like I am, riding my horse wrapped in arrogance and all that diversionary crap you try to hide behind). That’s my accusation against your position: that assuming religion has benefit is nothing more than another discredited faith-based belief that is immune from being corrected by reality.
What you don;t seem to realize is that you continue to prove the point I have raised: the <b?method used to justify your claim is the same method used to justify the benefit of religions: made-up shit.
Your incessant griping about religion having no value has been dismissed here and in a thousand other ways.
‘Thou shalt not steal,’ surely benefits you from your neighbor not taking your car, your cow, or your wife.
I already showed you the VALUE of widows and the fatherless being tended to……..but right, no value in religion.
‘Thou shalt not bear false witness,’ a principle of mettle in every court of law, but again, no value in this religious command….
I could do this all night to prove your short sightedness, but you will cry that it is irrelevant, but others may see without bias.
Yes, but each time someone points out a benefit religion can produce (even if not solely unique to religion necessarily), many of your responses have been to point out a secular analogue and claim therefore not a benefit of religion (such as in your comment below to Peter about Doctors with Borders), which means ultimately you’re atttacking the claim that “religion is the only way to offer this benefit” rather than “religion can produce a benefit.”
In the first you can rebut it by pointing out something else that is not religious which can offer this benefit. In the second all one has to do is show how having a belief (as a motivating factor, as a value, etc.) produces a benefit.
By making the claim that religion produces benefits, one has to LINK this supposed cause – religion – to the selected effect – the benefit. That’s what the claim means. If I can point to any other causal source, then that demonstrates that the link is not with religion and defeats the merit of the example.
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It might prove the link isn’t with religion,, but it could also demonstate that different causes can lead to the same results. In which case you didn’t technically disprove that religion ALSO caused the benefit and that second secular path can lead to the same benefit.
Religion is not the default position. Religion is learned. It is new information superimposed over the defaul: a-theism.
What is hardwired is our inclination to superstition (which can then be understood as finding agency in nature), and its hardwired because it served a purpose in the evolutionary context.
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That’s our best guess based on our current understanding of how we developed.
Yes. Are you suggesting something else?
Don’t think so. Just clarifying that we know we don’t have all the answers, unlike some religions.
Opting into *evidence based thinking*? I don’t think that makes sense. Evidentiary and non-evidentiary thinking cannot be equated. Just compare the success rate of cancer treatment by prayer versus a combination of chemo and radiotherapy. So we’re not talking about options, w’re talking about separating fact from fiction.
In what regards the timeline, the scientific method and the Enlightenment begin in the 17th century and face brutal opposition by the religious hierarchy and those in power in general.
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So thinking about cancer cures, have most religious people opted for prayer only or have many been involved in finding cures? Religious people can easily separate fact from faith, and obviously those involved in developing scientific method during the Enlightenment were religious. Religion does not kill off part of someone’s brain because we don’t agree their gods exist. And the harm that comes from established religious ideologies can just as easily come from any other form of group-think. Take Arb & co’s fringe radical feminist opinion – atheist feminist ideology that looks exactly like harmful religious ideology.
Yes & no. This discussion rests on the level of religiosity. For example, various religious groups opposed vaccination in its early days. Jehovah’s Witnesses oppose blood transfusions. Christian Scientists oppose medical treatment all together. Most Christian factions promote prayer as a plausible solution to problems. All of those positions are anti-evidence. Embracing them means not separating fact from fiction (in regards to those particular issues.) The larger problem is the thinking method. If one’s thinking method allows for an equation where an answer that should be dismissed is treated as not just possible, but probable- then the thinking method itself is flawed. That doesn’t mean a person can’t be a deist, but it does mean that they should certainly not subscribe to the practices of any and all man-made religions.
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Antitheism opposes religion as a quasi-scientific hypothesis, the assertion that the world was created less than ten thousand years ago. That only fits the more literalist Christianity, Christianity as a belief system rather than a set of practices.
If John Woolman thought God told him slavery was wrong, that does not detract from his campaigning against it. Plenty of people thought God approved slavery.
I think Tildeb and his ilk have got carried away. They submerge themselves in stories of religious harm and lose sight of what it really is.
What it really is is a response to existential death anxiety. That’s at the personal level. At the organisational level it is, at best, nothing but snake oil salesmanship. At worse, it is a sanctioned means to meddle in secular societies.
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I’ve just commented to Ark that you’ll never get rid of the snake oil salesmanship. We simply don’t know how to eradicate poverty and relative ignorance yet. What these organised religions give you is a foundation of considered thought that has to partake in the bigger conversations and therefore becomes subject to change (see slavery, homosexuality etc). When the ‘educated’ part of superstition collapses, in the form of these organised religions, we’re going to have make sure that everyone has a serious humanist/atheist education, which in itself will be another form of brainwashing, or they will all revert to individual superstitious nonsense that won’t even have a foundation of moral thinking. Before I post on this, I have to think of a way of not sounding so incredibly patronising …
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I think the term “brainwashing” only pertains to demonstrably false information. It’s not brainwashing if what is being “taught” is the best and most honest information available at the time. This is where the scientific method is genius: it never claims to be 100% truth, just points along a path of being less wrong, and it is open to adjustment as new information comes to the fore.
In theory it never claims to be 100% truth, but in practice people do get carried away. Take Tildeb for example, he thinks he knows the Truth. He knows in theory that he doesn’t, but he can’t stop that same part of his head that makes religious people think they are Right. He’s just turned atheism into the new Best Religion that isn’t a religion. It’s curious. Speaking of best religions, Insanity has a great post up about that book/film The Shack that is disturbing some parts of the Christian USA – it’s attracted a great conversation and fight over who knows the god God best.
That’s not what Tildeb is saying at all. He’s talking about the method of knowing, not the content of any specific theory. And he’s right to hit this nail as hard as he can, and does. Science begins with a question, then works forward in a recognised and methodological manner. Religion begins with the conclusion, then works backwards to make reality fit that.
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“Science begins with a question, then works forward in a recognised and methodological manner. Religion begins with the conclusion, then works backwards to make reality fit that.”
This is the problem. We don’t know what we’re arguing about. Sure, religion in terms of ‘does god exist’ already has the answer. But people who follow religions don’t work on this basis in other parts of life. How could they?
Exactly. If they did, they’d all be in mental institutions because their method is delusional. That’s why they compartmentalize. Out of necessity. So why not get rid of the batshit crazy method altogether?
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I’m starting to think you haven’t read anything Tildeb has written.
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Of course atheism isn’t the anecdote. Humanism is, though. Atheism has no content. Humanism is fat with content, and goals, and ethics.
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I’d like to think that’s the case. I went to a humanist society meeting once and was definitely reminded of religious meetings – it attracts the same type of people in a way I can’t quite express.
I’d imagine all “clubs” have a similar undercurrent.
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Well done zande.
The ANECDOTE has always been below the surface of your opinions, based on godlessness. I’m so glad others like this. It proves atheists and humanists do not pay attention to detail..
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Well spotted, and nice attempt at making it mean something. 🙂
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Why is so darned difficult for certain people to actually wrap their heads around the meaning of such a very simple and straightforward word as atheist?
Why does there seem to be this desperate need especially from theists, to fill this word with, it seems, any other meaning other the correct one: a lack of beliefs in gods.
Not a god, nor God … just plain old make-beleive, man-made very much plural and inclusive gods.
There is no doctrine no dogma.
And that’s it.
Stop indoctrinating children for two generations at the most, but teach them about religion/s like any other subject, and this will demonstrate how quickly religion and god belief in general will be consigned to the scrap heap of Stupid Culture in a similar fashion as the worship of Thor or Quetzalcoatl.
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Did you read the post at all? I think there is a tendency for atheists like us, who come together on a common theme, with a common ‘enemy’ to start to agree on a kind of ideology. And that’s what I’m discussing above. Tildeb goes off on furious rants about religion that seem to have lost touch with reality. I mean you do too, but I like to think it’s in a pantomime manner.
No wonder Christians get confused. They don’t know that most atheists are proper atheists, and are fairly silent on the issue. We’re the ones that are in their face.
Enemy? Not really. Not on a personal level.
Enema … yeah, well they can be a serious pain in the arse at times.
But over here in SA .. nah … they are mostly white noise.
Did I read it? Twice , as a matter of fact, especially after I read you asked Tildeb the same question.
The mistake you are making – or appear to be – is that you seem to beleive that when I say religion I mean solely Christians.
Now THIS is where the average blogging Christian gets all shirty and believes I care two shits about this religion and his god in particular – I don’t. It isn’t special … at all . I just happen to know more about Christianity than say, Eric and Rachel MustafaCohen-Sidebottom’s Church of the Reserected Prophet.
Christianity just has more credulous half-wits on its books than say, Mormons, JWs or Muslims or than Eric and Rachel’s church.
Of course I’m not talking about only Christianity. I’ve seen your rants against Islam as well. I obviously know that as relatively educated atheists, we are never just talking about Christianity, but when we criticise specific harmful behaviour, Christianity is the one we see most of first hand.
You know, I’ve often wondered at the lack of discussion around promoting atheism in Muslim countries. Apart from the fact it would put people’s heads on the chopping block, I’m sure most of the underlying power struggles and wars are based on other forms of tribalism and power blocks. Religion just provides a handy flag to unite under. Bad things will still happen just as often when we finally shed religion, which I think is inevitable. But what we may well lose is other perspectives, and the sense that we should promote ‘good’ for something outside of ourselves. It’s all very well saying we don’t need that to function as rational creatures, but the majority of the world’s population live hand to mouth existence lacking the opportunities to shake off small-mindedness – strip the world of organised religions that are (whether you like it or not) built on centuries of considered thought, and are part of the bigger conversation, and we’ll be left with the little superstitious nonsense stuff with no depth of thinking behind it will spring up in its wake. I think this is what I’ve been trying to get at when I say I have doubts that losing religion is some kind of antidote (doh! no-one pointed out the spelling error in the title!). However, patronising and condescending it sounds, we have to face the fact that most of the world’s population is attracted to it, and probably always will be. Most people don’t spend their time rationally analysing everything they come across – most people are concerned that they have a phone to Snapchat with their friends, the right clothes, or enough food on table. Do you know educated people here in Argentina still take their kids to the Woo lady round the corner to do woo on their child when its ill? It’s frightening. And these people aren’t religious.
Sorry for the long, rambling comment, I can’t see properly on this little tablet. But I’m going to do another post on this aspect of it.
No probs. with the ramble other than I am still trying to figure out if you were trying to make a specific point.
I cannot see how religion has anything positive to do with poverty/hand to mouth , other than maintain some sort of Status Quo – Think Mother Theresa
And Jesus said …..etc
Cue Colorstorm …
And many ”clever people” use Sangomas (traditional healers or witch doctor if you prefer) out here as well.
And Talking of ”Wu …”
The song features the line … ”I was half way crucified.”
Appropriate. And I love Steely Dan! Enjoy.
Hope you’re having a bril.holiday.
I’m sure you’ll like this violet. You use the word ‘religion,’ but I dare say so few appreciate the very definition as used by scripture. People ask me if I am religious, and I say ‘I wish I was moreso.’ Why?
Because the good book says ‘Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.’
Now then, I challenge you or any of your neighbors here to honestly say that THIS religion is poison. Key word: HONESTLY.
The fatherless. Speaks for itself.
The widows in their affliction. Speaks for itself.
Unspotted from the world. Now there is a handful. But it appears God puts a premium on the true caretakers of the above mentioned. While we bitch about looking for Abraham’s shoelaces, there are hurting people who feel all alone, neglected, and of little worth.
‘Pure’ religion is indeed a valuable antidote for the lost in heart..
Well CS you might be surprised to find that I largely agree with you in this instance. I disagree with Ark when he sees all religion as being poison, it is not so clear cut in my mind and experience. Religion has good and bad aspects to it, like much else in life.
My argument with you is whether or not it is true.
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Good aspects like what? Remember, you are claiming that religion is what produces these supposed benefits (to counter the claim that religion poisons everything) so, if you would be so kind, could you please show these links you think connect religion to the good aspects? Doing so would allow others to see why you make this claim. Just saying it, just going along with it, just assuming the claim is true is – as far as I can tell – simply an assumption that has no basis to deduce from reality but is imposed on it as a matter of faith. You can clear this up I presume.
tildeb, for a start I know medical missionaries who went to the poorest parts of Africa motivated by their religious faith. When they returned they mentioned that they had used money I donated to purchase some important medical equipment that the hospital could not otherwise afford, This led to the saving of the lives of a number of people who would otherwise had died. It was my religious conviction at the time that led me to donate the money to support them.
You might argue that I could have donated the money out of non religious motives, but the fact is it was religion that was my motivation. So people are alive today who would have died in this case because of religion.
A better argument to mount is whether the good of religion outweighs the harm.
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Doctors without Borders.
Motivated to help, funded by those who wish to donate, saving lives. Where is the religious component necessary in this?
They need to operate free of specific religious and political affiliations to be effective. Interestingly enough, the only person I’ve known of who works for them is religious. Would be interested to see an analysis of motivations even for non-religious charitable organisations.
I think you’ll find you are making biased assumptions. There’s obviously nothing my about religion the that makes it necessary, but there is something about it that makes people more generous.
Well, when one subtracts the (at a minimum in the US alone) $90 billion dollars a year in tax exemptions for these organized religions, suddenly the rate of charitable giving doesn’t seem to favour the already privileged so much, now does it?
Organized religion is a net cost even after charitable donations done in its name is factored in. But it sure is good public relations to claim donations are because of the religious impulse. Of course, this claim is absolutely false… not that religious apologists care so much to admit and respect what is true if it casts their faith-based beliefs in a negative light. We can’t have that, now can we? The religion-is-a-benefit meme must always prevail no matter what reality has to say in the matter.
That’s religion organisations, not religious individuals giving time and money to good causes (which is what the discussion was about).
No, VW, my criticism was about religion as the institutions they are poisoning everything and you switching it in your mind to some religious people.
tildeb the religious element may not be necessary but in my experience, at least, it often is a motivation.
I adamantly maintain that to say the effects of religion are entirely harmful is just plain wrong. I recognise religion causes harm, but there can be good also.
Giving for religious reasons cannot be as virtuous as giving because it’s the right thing to do. You’ve inserted a third party where none needs to be and then given to that third party the credit for motivating you to act. This is pernicious because it separates the cause – you – from the effect – giving – and awards it to an imaginary Large White Rabbit named Harvey.
Now, why would anyone do this? Well, if all of us were taught that Harvey would reward in the After-burrow, we’d be giving as a pre-payment for a later prize… which isn’t charity at all.
But Harvey DID NOT motivate you, did he? You attributed the urge to help to some equally delusional entity. And, by inserting the third party, you’ve undermined the ethical considerations for giving. If the urge was motivated by you because you thought it was the right thing to do, then you have exercised charity. Include religion as the responsible third party, and you’ve denied the act to be charity. It now becomes a payment.That’s the perniciousness of religion: it steals everything.
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That comment is like comedy. Do you honestly believe it? You’re looking for a purity in motivation that only religions seek. 😀
How about dealing with it rather than a drive-by smear?
I did deal with it. You’re looking for a purity in motivation that only religions seek. Can’t you see it?
No. That’s not true.
How can you say that? You’re judging the ‘purity’ of giving – it sounds exactly like Christians bickering amongst themselves. You suggest it undermines the ethical considerations in giving if a Christian does it because, for instance, Jesus said they should. Absolute nonsense. It’s an additional motivation that is focussed on love and selflessness that pushes people to do something they probably wouldn’t find time to do.
I can say it in the same way that intention mitigates the actions in legal status. The central point is all about intention and not the brute act alone; just think of killing in self defense vs a pre-planned killing. The first is justifiable homicide the second is first degree murder. It’s not the result that determines the virtue of an act but the motivation for it.
Harvey was in fact a Púca, the Gaelic word for Goblin, who just so happened to resemble a very tall rabbit.
See Violet, this is the process of being “less wrong.” 😉
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See? I did not know that. Thanks JZ.
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What? I’m so lost. I’m on holiday and have loads more time to spend blogging but I find it impossible to keep up – I’m wondering how I ever did. How do you do it? Do you not work? When do you feed the dogs??
‘Giving for religious reasons cannot be as virtuous as giving because it’s the right thing to do.’
I agree. But some charitable work for poor motives is better, in my opinion, than none.
Peter, how would you rate Islam, for example, in terms of its overall benefit to its members and society in general?
Ark I am not involved with the Islamic community so only so its influence from afar. In that regard negative influences are all too obvious. There may be benefits but I am not close enough to be aware of them.
In regard to benefits to members I have heard that the Mosque acts as the sort of social hub in many communities. The problem is that in the WEst it acts as a form of ongoing segregation that makes integration so much harder.
Ark I should add that Muslims are very focussed on charity but only seem to help other Muslims, unlike Christians they don’t seem to extend their charity to people of other faiths.
So therefore, overall we can suggest that Islam has a net negative effect on society in general, especially where is has been. .. ”exported” and Islamic communities have become established/entrenched on ”foreign soil”.
As you mentioned, ”….in the WEst it acts as a form of ongoing segregation that makes integration so much harder.”
Sharia Law courts spring to mind.
This seems akin to what Christianity has done down the centuries and where it was unable to integrate it generally eradicated, be it competing or what it regarded as inferior religions.
Maybe if we took off the blinkers we might be able to recognise a certain amount of familiarity?
What say you?
Ark, Islam now has a lot of similarity to Christianity in the 16th century.
One side effect was the wars of religion in Europe, especially in Germany where the slaughter made WW2 look like an enlightened conflict by comparison.
At present I see the Shia/Sunni tension as being similar to the Protestant/Catholic tension of that time.
The Sunit Terrorists are continually slaughtering Shia pilgrims in Iraq and Pakistan. The war in Yemen is really a Shia/Sunni dispute. Assad in Syria (is an alawite muslim) but is supported by Shiites from Lebanon (Hezbollah) and Shiites from Iran. The Sunni powers are seeing their great fear come to pass, a continuous Shia territory from Iran, through Iraq, then Syria into Lebanon. The Sunni powers of Saudi Arabia and Turkey played the game very foolishly, they supported the Sunni extremists rather than the moderates. Turkey has been blinded by its hatred of the Kurds, whilst the Saudis have been playing a double game for years, and it has eventually come back to bite them, as has been the case in Pakistan.
Exactly. And there is a lot of ”culture” involved. Although to be honest, I have seen better culture in Yogurt.
And religion only adds fuel to the fire.
Religion where it is ”married” to culture simply insulates one culture from another. And also the sects within the same religion.
So anyone touting the line there is ”good” in religion is likely viewing it from a position of Happy Clappers or tea, cucumber sandwiches and cake on the lawn of the Vicarage.
Maybe we will be fortunate and humans will work through their religious phase … let’s just hope someone does not want to speed it along a bit by setting off a nuclear device, eh?
I agree that there are some parts of most religions that are useful philosophically, useful practically in life. Religions emerged from the minds of people who pondered the ‘deeper’ questions in life, and they often came to conclusions of universal value. I don’t know enough about other major religions to comment in detail, but in terms of Christianity, if people stuck to the core message of love and selflessness, it wouldn’t cause as many problems as it does. That being said, I’m not convinced that the harm caused by religion outweighs harm conceived outside of its bounds.
“Religions emerged from the minds of people who pondered the ‘deeper’ questions in life, and they often came to conclusions of universal value.”
What handy assumption! I wonder if it’s true? Now, how might we know…? Hmmm… I know: I’ll just believe it and then I can claim it’s true. Oh, how marvelous!
Now, anyone who legitimately questions me for imposing this belief on reality and asks for linking evidence (because I claim to have concluded this belief) must be on a high horse, must be full of arrogance and hatred and ideology, must be vilifying anyone who is religious, must be someone who claims complete knowledge! About everything!
There. That will defend my assumption. Evidence? I don’t need no stinkin’ evidence.
Are you serious Tildeb? Do you think someone who didn’t ponder life, discuss moral questions in detail, could come up with the stories that form the basis of religions? They are all stories, like Aesop’s fables, only not as good (if only someone had made a religion on that back of those!) that reveal a depth of thought and contemplation, that has been built on over the centuries. Not all their conclusions are sound, obviously, but they are rich in history and general lessons on life. What evidence would you need? In terms of ignorance, the most educated people of their days have worked on refining each and every religion. Now the most educated people are abandoning religions. Who’s going to fill the hole? Secular humanism?
What you’re describing is called philosophy, VW… but it doesn’t need any superstitious nonsense. That part is imported into the religious framework and it doesn’t add to but detracts from an honest inquiry into them. You think otherwise, but you do so because you just believe it is of benefit to do so. The history religions promote is false, and the lessons on life you attribute to religion suddenly include a belief in some specific divine agency of Oogity Boogity! And that belief – Presto!< – suddenly is a virtue. Of course, you admit that refinement is necessary for these Iron Age Just So stories of supernatural interventions in light of obtained knowledge but it goes by another name outside of religious apologetics: it’s called ‘cherry picking’ your data and it does not lead to i>post facto reason but a priori rationalizations (which are pernicious when acted upon).
As for the ‘hole’ created by teaching children how to think critically and to respect reality’s arbitration for beliefs held about it. well, that’s a ‘hole’ more people should ‘fall’ into. Why you assume there should be a substitution for superstitious nonsense is what’s quite fascinating to me; that’s exactly what religious apologists think, too, and try to paint a world of immorality when all evidence points to the opposite (not that evidence seems to matter very much when it comes to claiming faith-based belief is of benefit)!
I think you’re talking about privileged and educated atheism in rich countries. I’m talking about the effects of religion and superstition on the vast majority of the world’s population. I’m curious about what would happen if the higher ranks of global religions collapse because educated people realise it’s rubbish. I suspect you’d find that either worse people would be in charge, or as the major religions crumble, more base superstitious beliefs (that aren’t part of bigger conversations) would take root. It’s just a worst case scenario ponder. What do you see happening? How religion fade away in a manner that the education for rational thinking comes with it?
Well, that’s a good question. Fortunately we have some compelling evidence from reality to guide us and it seems likely that majority populations who are religious eventually lose that majority when liberal secularism is constitutionally protected and a tipping point is quickly reached by the younger generation first that seems to have (in any fair comparison) a very great deal of positive social outcomes later, not least of which is a lessening of income inequality and a rise in education levels along with a deeper and wider social safety net.
Peter, you wrote, “It was my religious conviction at the time that led me to donate the money to support them.” Does that mean that you wouldn’t do so now?
I have heard all kinds of people say this sort of thing – that they do things because of their ‘beliefs’. But I have an idea that you would do the same thing because you are a caring, compassionate man.
But isn’t being a compassionate caring person based on belief and prior experiences from one’s environment (at least in part)? So how can you be sure someone would be compassionate if they weren’t taught those values whether through a religion or otherwise?
No, it’s not based on a belief; it’s based on your biology.
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Yes, there are genetic factors that make humans inclined to pro-social behaviors or empathetic to one another (hence my “at least in part” statement in the previous post). However, I believe there is evidence that environmental factors can increase pro-social behaviors. Likewise, traumatic events in one’s environment can also decrease pro-social behaviors (i. e. compassion).
Are you suggesting all compassion can be explained by biological factors and no environmental input?
The capacity for compassion is fully a biological feature of neurology in the brain. We come with this circuitry. What happens to the capacity after we’re born of course is affected by environment but the point here is that it is not derived from religion but from biology.
All of which I just said in my last post. Religion is an environmental factor among many other environmental factors.
Most studies have found a link between religion, religious factors, and increased prosocial behavior (link) Granted it’s a complex variable with a lot of other factors such as religious orientation, context, etc.
However, I am NOT suggesting that a person NEEDS religion to be compassionate. I am suggesting, though, that a person is partially a product of their environment and it is hard to know exactly how a person would develop without the same environment in place. So would Peter be not only compassionate, but enacted his compassion in the same way had he not had the same experience or been introduced to the same beliefs in his environment? The correct answer is maybe.
Carmen, I was sort of reckless with my money when a person of faith, one might say over generous as I was sure that ‘God’ would look after me. Once I realised I was on my own I became more cautious.
So the answer is no.
Good post. Ridding the world of religion definitely isn’t going to rid us of wacky ideologues.
One just has to look at the Social Justice Authoritarians that are becoming much more prevalent on University campuses and in politics these days.
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What are Social Justice Authoritarians?
I sometimes think you Americans have way too much time on your hands 😉
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Basically those who supposedly advocate for gender and racial equality … but do so in a way that it is their way or the highway. They are known for shutting down anyone who dares question anything about their approach, even from those who also believe in fairness and equality for all.
The common name used for them is “Social Justice Warriors” if you’re curious about them, but I don’t find that really captures the problem with these people.
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I am sorry, though I do not see how this really relates to the topic post, I am curious about the term “Social Justice Warriors”, or if you prefer “Social Justice Authoritarians”. How does this work in practice? I mean, if someone is of the opinion, that they believe fairness and equality for all, what sort of disagreeing viewpoints should they accomodate and how far?
I see little option in a socially egalitarian and as such better functioning society for gender and racial equality as goals. Yet, I have among my friends even people who percieve themselves as racists and Fascists, not to mention the people who think they have chosen some golden path in the middle of two extremes (wich they rarely are able to put to words) between racism and anti-racism and inequality and equality. We have interresting discussions, but if the Fascists or racists attack the “other” they have preassumptions about based on their skin tone, or weakness, I do stand in defence as far as I think I can rationally support my position. Does that make me a “Social Justice Warrior”? At least I do not remember having been called that yet.
This idea of a “Social Justice Authoritarian” is not a commonly known phenomenon in my culture. Infact I have never before heard of such. Most often when I have run to the concept of “Social Justice Warrior”, it has seemed to me to be an accusation thrown at people who did not simply shut up and accept a disagreeing viewpoint to that of theirs, when the disagreement was about someone else spouting out more, or less hidden agendas of racism, fascistic ideals, or pure hatred. It has seemed to me, that the reason why such a term is ever even used, is because the racist, Fascist or their ilk, rarely has anything rational to put forward in defence of their position, based on false preconceptions and their instinctive intuition. Hence, they subvert to name calling, as if the label somehow nullified the position of the other. Is this because the racist and Fascist, wether they identify as such or not, have based their own position on no facts at all, or at most, very thin level of facts, why they feel the terms racism and Fascism are only evoked as namecalling? Is it because of this sort of misconception about name calling, that they feel justified responding by calling their adversaries as “Social Justice Warriors”, or worse? While in reality the therms racism and Fascism are most often infact brought to the discussion as the correct descriptions of the positions the people who hold similar values as those, even though they do not, or would not, identify as such.
My experience in this matter is limted, so can you please broaden it?
“Social Justice Warrior” is a tricky term. It’s not a bad thing to be fighting for fairness and equality.
The trouble kicks in when groups of people decide that their version of a path to equality is the only right path and they try to silence anyone who questions their viewpoint.
It becomes even more troublesome when their path to equality actually encourages the opposite, which can happen due to focusing too much on racial and gender divisions so as to drive a wedge between such divisions rather than bridge the gaps.
It’s even more problematic when they utilize the exact same sort of discrimination they are supposedly fighting against.
In simple terms, basically a hypocrite.
You’re right. I would much prefer better thinking all around so it has to start somewhere.
That’s why religion – the Mother Ship of faith-based belief – is the prime target. Religion is the major institution that demands faith be accepted as a virtue and vilifies anyone who questions this assumption. Take that idiocy down and show it to be magical thinking that is really a vice that causes constant perniciousness with overwhelming evidence to draw upon to back this claim up and the rest will slowly follow.
Now, don’t go after religion but go along with lie that it is another way of knowing that produces insight and benefit and every woo-laden lunacy has a ready-made get-out-of-reality card for free; after all, if so many people can believe in whatever they want divorced from reality and get respect for doing so, then let’s ditch chemistry and astronomy and go back to the good ol’ days. After all, what’s so bad about alchemy and astrology? I’m sure it’s true for some people because they believe it is true… That’s all it takes. Ignoring reality we are taught by apologists is such a moral choice these days!
Just a thought: why is there such a strong correlation between evangelical Christianity and denialism of evolution and climate change? My answer is simple: that’s what you get when you don’t allow reality to arbitrate claims made about it. You can’t respect something that doesn’t first grant to religion the right to own morality.
In the same vein, if you want to go after SJW and political correctness and the infantilizing that is occurring today in academia, then isn’t respecting what reality has to say in the matter a good place to start?
I think what may be needed is a focus on teaching critical thinking to people at a young age. If people grow up with better critical thinking skills, then any ideology regardless of its nature will have a more difficult time gaining or maintaining traction.
That would help, but the precursor is to respect reality as the independent arbiter. That’s exactly what faith-based methodology doesn’t allow.
That’s why religious people can’t do science, right Tildeb? 😉
I’ve already corrected you on this once. Why do you keep trying to assign to me regardless? Stop doing that.
You didn’t ‘correct’ me. You just shrugged it off as irrelevant to your argument. I’m bringing it up again. Religious people can cope with reality as you see it and religion at the same time. That’s why top scientists can be religious, even when it’s embarrassing and seeming career suicide. Yet here you are, still suggested they are incompatible. I corrected you, why are you saying the same lie again?
They are incompatible, VW. That’s why the two methods have to be strictly separated. Religion introduced into science is fatal to the gaining of knowledge. Science introduced into religious belief is fatal to the maintenance of faith. That’s why the two are incompatible METHODS.
Can you hear me or should I increase the font?
Increase the font tildeb?
Uh no, just open your ears. It was ‘religion,’ um, no, make that Truth, where was first recorded that science recognizes that the body bears the seed which is in itself.
A masterstroke of truth and reason long before your heroes Dawkins, Nye, and Degrasse graced the earth in their diapers.
Increase the font all you want. It still doesn’t make sense. Science can’t tell you about invisible gods, and religion can’t tell you about science. So what? It’s doesn’t stop people who follow religions being serious scientists, and it doesn’t stop atheists being stupid.
That would be great, but how can it be made clear what is reality? Even people who supposedly support science these days end up getting stuck in ideology land.
Critical thinking coupled with understanding the scientific method I think are crucial to be taught early on if we are going to have any hope of connecting more people with reality.
“…how can it be made clear what is reality?”
It’s not a thing; it’s a term we use to describe the conditions by how the universe seems to work. And we describe it the best way we can using models that account for the preponderance of evidence to weigh the merit of our beliefs about it. Think Bayesian reasoning: a sliding scale. My point is that the input of data MUST come from the universe itself and not be imposed on it by our beliefs and then maintained to divorce these beliefs from the universe.
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I am personally an advocate for evidence-based decision-making. Compiling the evidence in an unbiased manner that people can reasonably reference is the tricky part.
I look forward to seeing progress in merit-based systems moving forward. It would be nice to see some of the trash on the internet put where it belongs.
We still have a long way to go to get there though.
Thanks, I’m glad at least one person agrees with some of it. 🙂 Tildeb’s problem is that he’s exactly like a religious thumper – he knows he’s right. At some point we have to have a long hard look at how many people think they’re right (and for all their ‘it’s different in this case’ reasons) and realise Right doesn’t exist. That’s exactly why we have to live and let live.
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Oh for crying out loud, VW, I keep claiming it is essential to good thinking to allow reality to be the arbitrator. Not me. Reality.
You keep trying to personalize this point as if I am the one standing in for reality and that I will decide what is right and what isn’t. That’s unmitigated bullshit. You can comprehend better than this.
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My point is that for all our scientific method, we rarely know what reality is – and even when we do, we can’t agree on what the best course of action would be. Look at politics. There’s not some magic answer that can be derived to create good societies – most of the time we’re guessing based on the evidence and our political bias. AND religious people use all this, just within the context of their religious framework. For all the deluded woo, it’s really not that different.
“My point is that for all our scientific method, we rarely know what reality is – and even when we do, we can’t agree on what the best course of action would be.”
Rarely? This is just unconditional bullshit.
You operate each and every day granting absolute trust and confidence to our understanding of how reality works and you behave accordingly. You don’t actually think that the laws of physics and chemistry can and do change. Pretending there is some appreciable vagueness in our understanding of how reality operates described by these ‘laws’ is simply not true. And you know it. What you’re saying is not true.
But rather than be honest you pretend there is some reasonable doubt. There isn’t. Not for one nanosecond do you think germs are an ideology or that gravity should be understood to be occasionally questionable. I mean, seriously, do you even read what you write? This gibberish is full frontal religious apologetics (“For all the deluded woo, it’s really not that different.”) and it’s embarrassing to me that you would stoop to such dishonest rationalizations to maintain a belief you don;t even hold.
There is no legitimate comparison between the scientific method that allows you to trust our understanding of aerodynamics every time you board a plane WITH YOUR LIFE and seeking immediate medical treatment from an exorcist to rid you of some life-threatening demonic possession.
Religion can’t tell the difference between the two; reality can and does.And it comes down squarely on the side of the scientific method to have truth merit. You know this. I know this. Why try to make a false equivalency where none exists? Oh right… to protect the rationalization that religion MUST have benefit because… it’s a religious belief, you see!
All you’re doing is sacrificing your own intellectual integrity to pretend the two are equivalent ways of knowing when you know perfectly well and demonstrate by personal behaviour that you don’t believe this at all! You just refuse to own it and so try to blame me and question my motivations for metaphorically shoving it in your face. What’s so difficult to be honest?
I seriously don’t know what you think you’re arguing about – this discussion has nothing to do with questioning gravity or how reality works. Religion doesn’t and shouldn’t have anything to do with ‘scientific method’, just as science has nothing to do with religion. Take Christianity for example. The Christian god could have created this existence to be scientifically sound, and be happy for its adherents to recognise it as so, but still have concerns about how people (its creation through evolution) behave. Ridiculous? Yes. But not impossible. I don’t have the extra feelings that other people have about gods. Is that because they are not rational creatures or because they have another sense that science hasn’t measured? There’s no way of knowing. And again, ridiculous, but not impossible. And in amongst all this, people who have this feeling of woo are perfectly capable of operating in society in a rational way. Even more importantly, people who don’t are more than capable of operating in a completely irrational way. Religion tells us nothing. You would be as well being furious about redheads and the trouble they’ve caused through time. I’m sure you could find some good examples why we’re both harmful and evolutionarily unnecessary.
Oh, I suppose in a different universe, what you say might have some truth merit. But when you say, ” Religion doesn’t and shouldn’t have anything to do with ‘scientific method’, just as science has nothing to do with religion” you are stating something patently untrue.
Because RELIGION makes all kinds of incompatible and contrary causal claims about the universe and what it contains to our scientific understanding, it does very much affect claims and the public understanding of why those scientific claims are probably true – supported using the scientific method. One needs to look no further than the deplorable lack of public understanding of evolution to see just how pernicious is the religious intrusion.
So BECAUSE the two methods really do conflict in knowledge based claims, there really is a problem that you keep waving away as if equivalent methods produce equivalent justifications for the merit of the claims between science and religion… or are relatively unimportant because you believe this conflict is really created by me on my high horse and in my arrogance, and so on. You attribute a real world endemic and ubiquitous problem of religious incursion into the public domain to present ignorance as ‘another kind of knowledge, another way of knowing’, one that is consistent and widespread and regularly produces harmful effects, to be a problem sustained by my ideology and my religious belief and not in any way, shape, or fashion related to this ongoing and pernicious incursion… by RELIGION.
You need to wake up from this self-imposed apologetic coma you’re in..
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That reminds me of another group of people I’ve seen flying the belief flag that shouldn’t be. I have seen many people claiming to have science-based positions that suggest all vaccines and all GMOs are safe. These are people who say they support the scientific method who have become ideologues! They don’t take half a second to think that GMOs and vaccines can be dangerous depending on why and how they are developed. It’s just as bad as those who claim anything natural is safer than synthetic things. I could go on and on …
Oooh, you’re hitting another Tildeb nerve. Don’t mention vaccines!
I seem to be good at hitting nerves these days on many topics. It definitely gives me some appreciation as to why people enter into echo-chamber bubbles of society.
Well, I’m impressed with Insanitybytes today. She laid herself bare for a beating from her echo chamber. Oooh, maybe I’ll do an echo chamber post! 🙂
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Hitting nerves, as you say, is the main tactic for anti-scientific denialism… cloaked and defended by pseudo-skepticism. Being a denialist is not a good thing but a way to advertise a willingness to promote a position of intellectual bankruptcy and a callous disregard for both what is knowable and how one gains knowledge. The effect from denialism is to harm real people in real life and in large numbers. That’s something I don’t think one should be proud of but, hey, that’s just my pro-social ideology talking. I understand that some people actively support anti-social ideology, too, and I think it’s good to reveal this bias up front.
I agree, anti-scientific denialism is definitely a problem that needs to be addressed.
Again, teaching of critical thinking and the scientific method is key to addressing this.
Well, if by denying respect for reality is a ‘nerve’, then yeah, I guess you’ve done that. I am offended by intentional stupidity because I think all of us can and should and will have to do better.
Why people refuse to grant respect to reality is a marvel of rationalization to behold. And far too many people don’t disappoint.
Tildeb, you’re such a fan of reality. Tell me the reality of the existence of trans people.
Demonstrate that vaccines are not safe. Demonstrate that GMO foods are not safe.
Until you can do this in order to legitimately compare the overwhelming evidence they produce real net benefit, you’re just mewling inanities in order to paint those who appreciate compelling evidence as ideologues. This is a standard denialist tactic to try create doubt in order to discredit and undermine scientific knowledge by refusing to deal with the preponderance of evidence by shifting to a game of language.
Simply put, you seem to be okay with 1.5 million children a year dying from preventable diseases that can be almost eliminated by simple vaccinations. I’m not. I look at compelling data and understand that it isn’t my ideology that shows these effects from vaccinations but a reality you think is worth doubting.
False binary alert!
Just because I am aware that there can be troubling vaccines and troubling GMOs does not mean I am against them. As long as they are thoroughly tested, I am sure that they are most often a positive thing.
I am realistic though about there being a potential for misuse or improper testing.
‘Tildeb’s problem is that he’s exactly like a religious thumper – he knows he’s right.’
Yes Violet, the same thought had occurred to me.
In these blog discussions it is often seen as a weakness when we admit to being unsure on an issue. I would so like for that instead to be seen as a strength.
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Seriously, Miss Vi, you must be Extracting the Michael. Nothing… and I mean not a thing Tildeb has written has strayed off the mark, yet it seems you are merely trying to bait him.
I cannot honestly believe you lend any credence to the nonsense you are espousing.
Call time out and admit this was just a wind up.
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It’s not a wind up. I’m not sure exactly what I mean, but I’m sure Tildeb is wrong in his attitude. It’s not helpful to anyone to treat religion like that. We can say that honestly adding up the evidence it seems highly unlikely that gods exist. We can say that vast amounts of harm have been done and continue to be done under religious structures. But what we can’t say is that religion is categorically nonsense, or that people who are religious can’t think clearly about anything, or that humans would behave better without it. I really do think this is where atheists can stray into creating harmful ideology. By all means fight against the harm that specific religious people and religious institutions cause (in the same way as we would against secular ones) but enough of the bombastic exaggeration about religion as a whole. Tell me one harmful thing about the Quakers.
One you allow any credence for religious belief, however benign you might think it is, then you are allowing Creationists and Dickheads like Colourstorm etc to get a foot in the door.
If you need a fuller explanation then maybe you haven’t quite shrugged off your own religious upbringing/indoctrination?
Well, they think exactly the same about atheism and start going on about Mao and Stalin – “that’s what happens when you have an atheist regime”. The venom you and Tildeb have against religion, the idea that it MUST be wrong and is a POISON that should be stamped out, obviously makes them think that many atheists would like to have similar societies to those that attempted to stamp it out. Because it’s dangerous! And poisonous! That’s what all the most effective dictators believe about [insert ENEMY]. Ah, but this is different, scientific method blah blah blah. It’s the same old, same old, and you should all stop yourselves in your tracks, and look in the mirror of human history. 😀
Oh good grief, VW.
I have to agree with JZ: are you even reading my comments or should I just sit back and let you say whatever bullshit you want and claim me as the author?
Explain to me where I misrepresented you there Tildeb. Is religious poisonous? Do we need to get rid of it for human society to make sensible decisions? You dress your comments up tremendously so I’m open to the possiblity that I’m misrepresenting you when I try to cut to the basics.
I went to school for four months in apartheid South Africa and I’ve been to Auschwitz and I traveled around the Soviet Union during Brezhnev’s rule and was in Prague when the Russian tanks rolled in so don’t presume for one second that you can clump me in with people who think totalitarian government – secular or theocratic – holds any merit at all with me. Your beliefs about me are not deduced from reality but imposed on it and then rationalized by you to be true when they are not.
But these experiences demonstrated to me how in real life that they are all exactly the same thing: faith-based belief in action by nation states. And I saw and experienced first hand just how pernicious this method is, how contrary to human welfare this method is, how devastating to human dignity this method is, how complete is the vastness of ignorance used to deny all the evidence in order to maintain the faith-based belief.
So when I encounter such profoundly mewling religious apologetics like the kind you regularly vomit, I know that the only legitimate defense against it is with reason and respect for what reality has to say in the matter because we can all fool ourselves so easily when we decide to empower our fears and ignorance and biases and prejudices with faith.
Faith is the enemy of knowledge, the foe of human progress, the usurper of moral autonomy, the enabler of our deepest fears, the vice that justifies capitulating both our intellectual integrity and our responsibility. Faith is the means by which we can shroud our ignorance and pretend we know what we do not know, to make shit up and pretend it’s true, to turn reality into a facsimile of our deranged and delusional psyche. Faith is what is in Pandora’s box and each of us – if we care about what’s true and care about knowing something about it – makes the decision when to let it out (bad) and when to rein it in (good). I can’t make you close this lid but I sure can criticize you for pretending its a good thing.
It’s not. It never is. You’ve been fooled.
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” when I encounter such profoundly mewling religious apologetics like the kind you regularly vomit”
Let’s stop and think about this. When I say religious people can use evidence and test things appropriately to come to decisions, I’m mewling religious apologetics? When I say belief in an invisible god or two doesn’t mean that people can’t still think rationally about the rest of life, I’m mewling religious apologetics? When I say that overall religious people don’t cause more harm than non-religious people and we shouldn’t pretend they do, I’m mewling religious apologetics? Do you really think this? Because I’ve not argued for much more than this. And I’ve added that I’m shocked so many people can still believe in gods in this day and age. Come to think of it, none of what I’ve said even vaguely constitutes religious apologetics. You’re just horrified that I won’t join the hate the derision parade.
If you disagree with me, please quote clearly when I’ve said anything that constitutes religious apologetics, instead of launching off on another one of your rants.
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So would you prefer the word ”taints”?
Yeah, we can do that; Religion taints everything …
I’m easy on the specifics as long as we understand that the moment you have a god sitting at the table you know he is going to take credit for the meal, make you feel bad about eating it and still pinch the last roast potato, and demand the biggest spoon when desert is served. As if that weren’t enough the bastard will invariably take his teeth out and making disgusting slurping noises while drinking his gravy from the plate and belch loudly.
No manners or culture has your average god.
Sod ’em all.
Remember to put your big floppy hat on when you go out in the sun, okay?
It’s already addled your thinking and you redheads burn to a damn cinder.
Don’t cry for me and all that …
Humans taint everything. We fall into a lot of bad patterns. Looking for meaning in existence isn’t the worst of them. It’s groupthink, rabble rousing and superiority complexes (which can come just as easily in religious and non-religious forms) that cause the most trouble.
So we have Violet hallucinating Christian thought and juxtaposing it against actual atheist hallucination.
Why would any person with a brain of their own pay any attention to atheists?
Violet says, “Atheism is not some kind of antidote to the poison of wonky religious thinking.”
Violet also says, “Atheists, using evidence based on reality, have to examine studies and observe the impact of trans people on society in order to come to any conclusion.”
The wacky wonky atheist needs to look at herself in the mirror.
Not entirely sure what you mean here. What’s in my mirror?
Atheist wonkiness is in the mirror.
Thanks SOM, now it’s clear. 😉
Transgender people make up a minuscule part of the human population.
They have a big fat ZERO-zilla effect on the rest of the population.
It is only atheist propaganda which ruthlessly exploits transgender people that affects the population.
No studies needed, only common sense and a brain that can think rationally.
It’s simply an easy example for me, given I personally know an atheist ‘grouping’ that objects to trans people, much like some religious groupings. And you’re right, most people don’t think they need to look at studies to form an opinion on something as personal as someone else’s life experience, but when certain subjects become controversial, it is useful to look to what the evidence actually tells us.
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Because we look good in hats?
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Atheism is not some sort of antidote to religion. The comparrison fails. When religion poisons something in human culture, atheism rarely serves as some sort of antedote. For example, as Russian culture was thoroughly poisoned by religious authoritarianism, it was not cured by the Politbyro by declarations of atheism. Stalin still led the nation like he was the tsar annointed to his job by a god. He did not abolish the death camps, that the tsars before him (and where he himself had barely survived) had set up in Siberia. On the contrary, he sent all of his rivals, most of them convictional communists, socialists and indeed atheists. Stalin, much like his victims were the victims of religious authoritarian thinking, even if they were not religious themselves.
The problem in religion is not when it tells us to be tolerant and kind. It is not even when it tells us to defend ourselves. It is when it tells us to become subservient and respective of authoritarian systems. All of these traits are in us wether we believe in a particular god or not. Religions are social constructs that tap into our uncertainty, fears and ignorance and justify easy answers to complex issues and claims of absolute truths. Even an atheist is voulnerable to authoritarianism and simplistic world view. The antidote obviously does not work in that sense. This is where humanism steps in, or possibly not. There are forms of religious humanism too, but they are ultimately going to fall short of the goal, as they are ultimately based on a guess, rather than any even remotely objective truth.
Atheism is the question about wether any gods exist (not how can we repair the society from the problems religion has caused). Religions are built on the metaphysical guess, that gods do exist, even when there is precious little evidence to back up this claim.
Most people have never been especially religious. In terms of how much religious rules a society follows, has not been a democratic question as long as there has not been democratic social systems in play. Typically the position of an autocrate has been seen as ordained by a god, yet the rivalry for this divinely ordained position has been bloody. The rulers tell the people, that the position of the king is secured by a god, in order to stop the people demanding rights and liberties, but for some reason the princes of the real only rarely have been affraid of any divine wrath for competing for the position. There have always been atheists, but how much they have and even today in some countries are able to express this has been greatly limited, because of the power religion has given to the autocrates over the ignorant masses. Stalin has not been the only ruler to exterminate all dissidents.
The inherent authoritarianism in religion works even in democratic societies, as people often vote based on assumptions of values, rather than actual issues and since so many people have been “poisoned” to assume the society needs a strong leadership. The situation can only get more dangerous, when people do not see a candidate (or a representative) as dangerous, when the candidate declares they are communing with the divine. When the people are “poisoned” by religion to the extreme position, that they are unable to recognize a sick mind, who thinks they have divine justification to act based on their instinct. The actual difference between animals and humans is in that animals act instinctively, while humans have the option of being analytical. Now, the analytical person may make horrible conclusions especially if they base their rationale on false information (such as, there exists some particular god), and the instinctive individual may come to choose something positive. The problem is, how likely is that?
Ultimately the question is about truth. How much value we base on it? How do we justify, what is the correct action or inaction in any given situation? The nature of information is such, that we all are limited from knowing all, or having absolute knowledge. Even if a creator god existed, it could only posses “maximal” information about reality. It could not know what it did not know, just like the rest of us. This, by far, does not mean, that we are unable to achieve somewhat objective information about the reality around us. The societies, that tend to develope further into a direction, that they are better for all humans to live in them, also base less and less of their descisions and changes on any religious information or even principle, while all sort of conservative attempts to stop societies from changes towards better, seem to be fuelled with religious principles and assumptions. This gives the distinct impression, that religion poisons everything. Now, the progressive people who do not base their descision making on religion, are not even nearly all atheists, but they are often people who do not let their religious feelings interfere with their descisions, or they try to accomodate their religious feelings with what the better information they have trhough secular methodology, like science for example, has given them. This is not even hard it seems, as many find the many positive things religions also demand from humanity. As it is, religions are cultural constructs that appeal both to our better social side as much as they do to our fears and hatred. They are based on observed facts, but equally they are based on imaginary nonsense made up to explain what we do not understand about what we can observe. As such they are a “poison” that slows us from telling what really is the truth about anything. Atheism, is an antidote in the sense, that it tells us not to cling on to the superstitious nonsense part of religion. If religion holds something good like appeals to our better nature and community it offers, then we can keep it, but we should discard all the bad and false stuff, like gods. However, when you discard gods, that evidently are not true, what is left of a religion?
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I am sorry that got a bit long. What I meant to say, is that atheism is like not being under the influece of poison, while religion “poisons” a person, or a society. Religion is a poisoning effect, to wich humanism works as an antedote. Even when the poison siezes to be lethal on it’s own, that does not automatically mean, that all the negative effects of having been poisoned just suddenly disappear. More, or less people (throuhgout our history) having had the poison, does not make being poisoned a desirable situation, however natural being poisoned might be.
Rautakyy, you say, “If religion holds something good like appeals to our better nature and community it offers, then we can keep it, but we should discard all the bad and false stuff, like gods.”
This sounds reasonable but it also contains the insuperable problem of having absolutely no means within religious belief to differentiate which might be the good bits from the bad. For that, we have to step outside of religious belief entirely and grant greater trust and confidence to some other metric… and this is exactly what religious people will not do. That’s why they’re religious!
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I agree. Though, there is also this phenomenon, that even the most fundamentalist religious people are trying to rationalize their beliefs and appeal to some more or less imaginary secular reasons, rather than in what they think their god thinks. This is progress, because they have found out, that it is not enough for the rest of us, what their subjective god wants. The change on this front has been so slow, as it began already in the reneissance, and really got wind during the age of enlightenment, that it is difficult to even notice. The religious themselves, do not see this, but I have always put that on the fact that most conservatives and even people in general are unable to recognize long term changes. Rather they percieve some things, especially issues about values, as something that have just always been as they are today or as they were left to us by the previous generation.
What I mean, is that we too easily contribute to religion some things that are not the direct results of any particular religion. With reason and the scientific method we can discern which ones of those are beneficial (actually beneficial and not just in contrast to problems caused by religions themselves) and which ones are harmfull. Keep the actually beneficial and discard the rest.
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