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Religion Randomness

For discussion of religion and politics

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Holman
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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by Holman » Sat Jan 05, 2019 7:03 pm

Grifman wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:25 am
YellowKing wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:30 am
I'd rather not live under a delusion that death is basically meaningless since I'll be reunited some day. It makes you appreciate people more when there's no magic loophole.
Stawman, religious people don't think death is meaningless. And if you are held to account for your actions in this world, you might actually care MORE about how you treat people. Using your logic, why care about some slub you treated badly if you can get away with it?
Gotta agree with Grif here, at least to a degree.

Belief in ultimate accountability is one of humanity's most beneficial moral developments. Almost every civilization has had some version of it (judgment by the gods, the wheel of reincarnation, inherited curses, shame upon one's family, whatever) because it is very effective and probably the only thing that keeps some people decent. The crooked timber of humanity and all that.

Of course this doesn't mean any of the mythic or religious versions are true, but if you're going to eliminate them you have to wrestle with the question of what replaces them. And since the quality of moral life in a society depends a great deal on shared values, this quickly becomes a social problem rather than an individual one.
GreenGoo wrote:Fear of an old man in the sky is not a rational reason not to murder people if you can get away with it.
I think we can agree that most people don't behave morally just because it's rational to do so--especially when it so often isn't.

To lay my cards on the table: I am an unbeliever, but I know that most people throughout history have seen (and most have embraced) religion as an incentive to be good. As we move towards a post-religious civilization, what do we have to offer in that direction? History is pretty clear that fear of secular punishment or social ostracization isn't quite enough.

This is a real problem for atheists.
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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by GreenGoo » Sat Jan 05, 2019 7:16 pm

I'll just point out that deathbed redemption is a thing, and many Italian mafia were ardent church goers. If your religion doesn't have deathbed redemption, find one that does. Voila, nothing you do has any consequences outside of the material world.

We don't murder people for many different reasons. The idea that religion prevents it (redirects it at the church's enemies, more like) might have been true once, when there was a need to curb mankind's violent nature, but we're no longer barbarians. Can we become barbarians again? Sure. Religion isn't going to prevent that. Historically, religion as incentive to be good is a charade. Religion as incentive to be controlled by the religious leaders, more like. This continues to be the case for many high visibility religions today. And even if it's not a systemic problem with the religion itself, petty tyrants will take advantage of their flock on a daily basis. There are plenty of examples, both ancient and modern, and this is continues to this day.

I've spent time in church as a kid. Which is not to say I'm an expert on any of it, but I don't need to be an expert on alchemy either to know it's bunk. I understand that most north american faith is essentially benign, although not always. I don't begrudge others believing random things, but as YK points out, it is annoying when they try to use that faith to impact my daily life, typically through political activism. Luckily I don't live in an area where your religion matters to the community at large. Thank god. ;)

In any case, I've little interest in theological discussion. It leads no where and no one moves their position one iota, including me.

I'm glad Grif's religion is keeping him from getting away with murder, so that's a positive, I guess.

For the record I don't hold any illwill for Grif or his faith. In fact I appreciate that he is willing to speak up about his beliefs on this forum, which is not receptive to that particular mindset, as clearly evidenced by at least one poster here.

edit: I'd like to point out that both Holman and I are discussing the value of controlling human nature with make believe. Grif clearly believes that there is an afterlife and that actions taken during life will have lasting consequences into eternity. That's a big difference. A HUGE difference. I acknowledge that.

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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by Holman » Sat Jan 05, 2019 9:36 pm

GreenGoo wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 7:16 pm
We don't murder people for many different reasons. The idea that religion prevents it (redirects it at the church's enemies, more like) might have been true once, when there was a need to curb mankind's violent nature, but we're no longer barbarians. Can we become barbarians again? Sure. Religion isn't going to prevent that. Historically, religion as incentive to be good is a charade. Religion as incentive to be controlled by the religious leaders, more like. This continues to be the case for many high visibility religions today. And even if it's not a systemic problem with the religion itself, petty tyrants will take advantage of their flock on a daily basis. There are plenty of examples, both ancient and modern, and this is continues to this day.
I appreciate your long response, especially because short responses on this topic get us almost nowhere.

Worth noting, though, is that there is no such thing as a "barbarian." In fact there never was, at least insofar as "barbarian" means "savages without humanity or moral understanding." (To be particular, "barbarian" derives from the Greek for "those who don't speak Greek," which tells us a lot about the term's assumptions.)

Every culture everywhere has had a system (usually religious) to encourage its members to do good. This is necessary because the choice to do good is often NOT rational--those who exploit their power and ignore the equal humanity of others (which is a pretty good objective definition of evil) usually do so because it is the most logical and effective means to their success. Altruism is pretty often unreasonable.

In the modern era we've seen a large number of pseudo-religious or post-religious movements aimed at doing religion's work of encouraging people to do good. Romanticism, patriotism, communism, even hippie culture and the Boy Scouts are partial efforts. Even fascism counts, although it operates by warping the premises of what is "good" in the first place. You can see how important and even dangerous the question can be, and that there is no getting away from it.

In the U.S. and Canada and Europe today, we tend to reduce morality to purely personal choice and personal motive. This works for educated intellectuals who benefit from a culture that rewards education and intellect, but how far does that circle extend? And what happens when society tilts towards other values (see Europe 1939, China 1966, America 2016).

Ultimately, the important question isn't "what motivates me to do good" so much as "what will motivate me and all of my neighbors, strangers included, to do good?" Without a reliable answer, society is on shaky ground.
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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by GreenGoo » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:04 pm

Barbarian is how we behave, not a historical figure.

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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by Holman » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:20 pm

GreenGoo wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:04 pm
Barbarian is how we behave, not a historical figure.
Then are we really "no longer barbarians," as you suggest? You offered the term as a way of tossing religious sensibility into ancient history.

On the other hand, if barbarism is a term for vicious and evil human behavior, I don't see how anyone can look at the 20th/21st centuries and declare it obsolete.
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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by GreenGoo » Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:37 pm

Holman wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:20 pm


Then are we really "no longer barbarians," as you suggest? You offered the term as a way of tossing religious sensibility into ancient history.

On the other hand, if barbarism is a term for vicious and evil human behavior, I don't see how anyone can look at the 20th/21st centuries and declare it obsolete.
One of the definitions of barbarism is cruel and brutal behaviour.

Clearly the world is filled with barbarians. Are you? Is any first world country? Is religion still a factor in keeping the peace in first world countries? How large would you say that role is?

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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by Holman » Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:57 pm

GreenGoo wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:37 pm
Holman wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:20 pm


Then are we really "no longer barbarians," as you suggest? You offered the term as a way of tossing religious sensibility into ancient history.

On the other hand, if barbarism is a term for vicious and evil human behavior, I don't see how anyone can look at the 20th/21st centuries and declare it obsolete.
Clearly the world is filled with barbarians. Are you? Is any first world country? Is religion still a factor in keeping the peace in first world countries? How large would you say that role is?

One of the definitions of barbarism is cruel and brutal behaviour.
You're missing my point. I'm not declaring religion as uniquely essential to keeping the peace. I'm saying that in its absence we secular types must reckon with the role it played in doing so.

You and I are both irreligious. How do we encourage the next (say) three generations of godless descendants to act altruistically?

It's a serious question, especially if we can't count on the next three generations experiencing first-world peacetime comfort and security. The second world (e.g. what was once Yugoslavia, or more recently what was once Ukraine) suggests that modern economies are no defense, and the third world offers too many examples to list.
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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by Combustible Lemur » Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:32 am


GreenGoo wrote:
Holman wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:20 pm


Then are we really "no longer barbarians," as you suggest? You offered the term as a way of tossing religious sensibility into ancient history.

On the other hand, if barbarism is a term for vicious and evil human behavior, I don't see how anyone can look at the 20th/21st centuries and declare it obsolete.
One of the definitions of barbarism is cruel and brutal behaviour.

Clearly the world is filled with barbarians. Are you? Is any first world country? Is religion still a factor in keeping the peace in first world countries? How large would you say that role is?
The US has child internment camps because we as a populace don't stop it.
Yemen is currently suffering the largest famine ever?ish because Saudi has a boatload of oil and money. 1 out of four women is sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

The world is pretty barbaric. And it's woven into the fabric of our cultures. Barbarism is an epithet thrown at the other to rally our own.

The sociology of religion is clearly a factor in peoples positive behavior. And their negative ones. Could there be a substitute maybe. But humans are inclined to BELEIVE in something.

Keri says 18%.

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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by Kraken » Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:35 am

I like Holman's question. As an agnostic, I try to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. QED. Legislation and punishment both codify Right Things and reinforce one's motivation to do them, with no supernatural agency required. BUT humanism isn't the default human viewpoint. A lot of (most?) people lie, cheat, and steal (and worse) when they can get away with it. A lot of them still fall in line if they believe that they can't get away with it on a meta level -- the same reason we encourage our children to believe in Santa. What happens when a culture decides that God = Santa? What makes children choose nice over naughty when they find out the list is a lie?

Religion has had a huge hand in defining "the right thing" over the centuries and millennia, so we owe it that. I don't have to believe in the Bible to recognize that the 10 Commandments underlie my ideas of right and wrong because they define the culture I was born into.

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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by Jaymann » Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:39 am

And no coveting thy neighbor's oxen!
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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by Kraken » Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:42 am

Paingod wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 8:12 am
As an atheist, I sometimes find myself envying how religious people believe they'll see the people they love after they've died.
Y'know, I used to disdain people who clutched at that crutch, but the older I get, the more I envy their comfort. If Heaven brings them peace as they confront mortality and bereavement, more power to them. I, too, wish it were true. I just can't believe it.

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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by Kraken » Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:44 am

Jaymann wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:39 am
And no coveting thy neighbor's oxen!
I don't. One step closer to heaven! :pray:

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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by GreenGoo » Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:06 am

Combustible Lemur wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:32 am
Barbarism is an epithet thrown at the other to rally our own.
I don't agree.

Edit: to clarify, I don't agree that that is the only usage, or even a primary one.
Last edited by GreenGoo on Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by RuperT » Sun Jan 06, 2019 4:46 am

Paingod wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 8:12 am
As an atheist, I sometimes find myself envying how religious people believe they'll see the people they love after they've died. All I see is a stark cancellation of being and the following absence.

Some days, I wonder if I'm wrong - but absolutely nothing I've ever seen or experienced gives me any genuine doubt.
Cheer up mate, couldn’t there conceivably be some natural mechanism for a shared afterlife that doesn’t require a benevolent deity?
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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by Paingod » Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:48 am

RuperT wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 4:46 am
Paingod wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 8:12 am
As an atheist, I sometimes find myself envying how religious people believe they'll see the people they love after they've died. All I see is a stark cancellation of being and the following absence.

Some days, I wonder if I'm wrong - but absolutely nothing I've ever seen or experienced gives me any genuine doubt.
Cheer up mate, couldn’t there conceivably be some natural mechanism for a shared afterlife that doesn’t require a benevolent deity?
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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by noxiousdog » Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:55 am

Humans are way too morally flexible to allow something like an afterlife to give them a strong moral code.
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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by Skinypupy » Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:51 am

Not sure if this goes in the Political Randomness or Religion Randomness thread, so I'll put it here.

Texas Republicans will vote on whether to remove Muslim-American from GOP position because of his religion
As the House of Representatives welcomes its first two Muslim congresswomen, Texas Republicans will vote on Thursday over whether to remove Tarrant County Republican party vice-chair Shahid Shafi from his seat because he identifies as a Muslim-American.

The vote comes after some members of the county party put forth a motion to remove Shafi, a Republican trauma surgeon and Southlake City councilman, from his position due to his Islamic beliefs.
They said the quiet part out loud again.
“We don’t think he’s suitable as a practicing Muslim to be vice chair because he’d be the representative for ALL Republicans in Tarrant County, and not ALL Republicans in Tarrant County think Islam is safe or acceptable in the U.S., in Tarrant County, and in the TCGOP," O'Brien wrote on Facebook. "There are big questions surrounding exactly where Dr. Shafi’s loyalties lie, vis a vis Democrat and Republican policies.”
Sad part is, I'd bet my house that if you asked them, every one of these folks would swear they are for 100% for freedom of religion. Just not this religion.
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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by LawBeefaroni » Thu Jan 10, 2019 12:11 pm

Grifman wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 6:06 pm
YellowKing wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 8:38 am
. Yet I've never been in trouble with the law, I've never cheated on my wife, I (try) to treat others with respect, I function in society, etc. So it's not like belief in God is a pre-requisite for being a good person.
My point wasn't that unbelievers can't be good. It was a counterpoint to your comment that believers might care less because of a "magic loophole".
I don't think it's an issue of morality except for one thing. When this life is basically just a test, it's far less valuable. That's how wars are sold to people. It's how heroism and bravery in the face of death justified. These aren't necessarily bad things or limited to the faithful, but it's a hell of a lot easier to get someone to go over the top if they think they'll live on in paradise after being ripped apart by a machine gun.

It's easier to make that split second decision to give up your life to save someone else if you don't have to fear never seeing your family again. And it's easier to live after someone else does when you believe you'll see them again.

It's a cure for one of the most difficult aspects of the human condition: knowledge that you and everyone you know and care about will die.
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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by Isgrimnur » Thu Jan 10, 2019 12:14 pm

Which also makes it a point of leverage for coercion and control.
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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by coopasonic » Thu Jan 10, 2019 12:40 pm

Knowing it will end is the price of intelligence. Convincing yourself and others that it won't... well that thought makes me think that for a lot of people religion is basically a necessity. The idea that this life is all we have could be down right devastating if you let it. Now I shall take some time to consider my own mortality. Thanks a lot!
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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by Holman » Thu Jan 10, 2019 1:56 pm

FWIW, in recent years I've watched three older relatives on my wife's side approach their deaths through illnesses that they knew would be incurable.

All of them were lifelong non-religious Jews with no expectation of any sort of afterlife. All three made peace with the idea of death before it came, and they seemed to meet it with resignation and understanding, not horror or dismay. I think old age brings (or can bring) a genuine acceptance that life will end.

A young life cut short is a tragedy. A long life well-lived, even if only near the end, is a kind of triumph.
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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by noxiousdog » Thu Jan 10, 2019 3:41 pm

Skinypupy wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:51 am
Not sure if this goes in the Political Randomness or Religion Randomness thread, so I'll put it here.

Texas Republicans will vote on whether to remove Muslim-American from GOP position because of his religion
As the House of Representatives welcomes its first two Muslim congresswomen, Texas Republicans will vote on Thursday over whether to remove Tarrant County Republican party vice-chair Shahid Shafi from his seat because he identifies as a Muslim-American.

The vote comes after some members of the county party put forth a motion to remove Shafi, a Republican trauma surgeon and Southlake City councilman, from his position due to his Islamic beliefs.
They said the quiet part out loud again.
“We don’t think he’s suitable as a practicing Muslim to be vice chair because he’d be the representative for ALL Republicans in Tarrant County, and not ALL Republicans in Tarrant County think Islam is safe or acceptable in the U.S., in Tarrant County, and in the TCGOP," O'Brien wrote on Facebook. "There are big questions surrounding exactly where Dr. Shafi’s loyalties lie, vis a vis Democrat and Republican policies.”
Sad part is, I'd bet my house that if you asked them, every one of these folks would swear they are for 100% for freedom of religion. Just not this religion.
FWIW, it's just a small group of Tarrent County Republicans and they are very unlikely to get their way. This is now a national story and Greg Abbott (governor) and Ted Cruz amongst others have supported Shafi. From the Fort Worth Star Telegram, "the State Republican Executive Committee on Dec. 1 unanimously passed a resolution reaffirming the party’s devotion to religious liberty, pointedly right in front of Shafi — who was prepared to speak in his own defense but watched in gratitude as GOP leader after GOP leader at the meeting in Austin did it for him."
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Amazon Kindle Book Loaning Thread

"To wield Grond, the mighty hammer of the Federal Government, is to be intoxicated with power beyond what you and I can reckon (though I figure we can ball park it pretty good with computers and maths). Need to tunnel through a mountain? Grond. Kill a mighty ogre? Grond. Hangnail? Grond. Spider? Grond (actually, that's a legit use, moreso than the rest)." - Peacedog

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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by Skinypupy » Thu Jan 10, 2019 3:53 pm

noxiousdog wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 3:41 pm
Skinypupy wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:51 am
Not sure if this goes in the Political Randomness or Religion Randomness thread, so I'll put it here.

Texas Republicans will vote on whether to remove Muslim-American from GOP position because of his religion
As the House of Representatives welcomes its first two Muslim congresswomen, Texas Republicans will vote on Thursday over whether to remove Tarrant County Republican party vice-chair Shahid Shafi from his seat because he identifies as a Muslim-American.

The vote comes after some members of the county party put forth a motion to remove Shafi, a Republican trauma surgeon and Southlake City councilman, from his position due to his Islamic beliefs.
They said the quiet part out loud again.
“We don’t think he’s suitable as a practicing Muslim to be vice chair because he’d be the representative for ALL Republicans in Tarrant County, and not ALL Republicans in Tarrant County think Islam is safe or acceptable in the U.S., in Tarrant County, and in the TCGOP," O'Brien wrote on Facebook. "There are big questions surrounding exactly where Dr. Shafi’s loyalties lie, vis a vis Democrat and Republican policies.”
Sad part is, I'd bet my house that if you asked them, every one of these folks would swear they are for 100% for freedom of religion. Just not this religion.
FWIW, it's just a small group of Tarrent County Republicans and they are very unlikely to get their way. This is now a national story and Greg Abbott (governor) and Ted Cruz amongst others have supported Shafi. From the Fort Worth Star Telegram, "the State Republican Executive Committee on Dec. 1 unanimously passed a resolution reaffirming the party’s devotion to religious liberty, pointedly right in front of Shafi — who was prepared to speak in his own defense but watched in gratitude as GOP leader after GOP leader at the meeting in Austin did it for him."
Thanks, that's good to hear. Restores a little bit of my faith in humanity.
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Re: Religion Randomness

Post by Z-Corn » Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:40 pm

Holman wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 1:56 pm
All of them were lifelong non-religious Jews with no expectation of any sort of afterlife.
Well, yeah, they are God's chosen people. They don't have to bend the knee until they get to The Pearly Gates.

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