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CrazyFooIAintGettinOnNoPlane
Ok I normally try to avoid these discussions, but this was prompted by something Izzy said in another thread, and I didn't want to post a massive reply there. (I realize there have been several other similar topics, but I don't think any of them are focused specifically on what I want to talk about)

*Disclaimer* Due to the subject matter, the views expressed in this topic probably won't be all that respectful to religion. If you are likely to be offended, don't read it; otherwise all viewpoints are welcome. Also: this is not a thread for arguing about the existence of God(s) -- in fact I would like to keep God out of this as much as possible please smile.gif

Anyway...
QUOTE (Yannick @ May 6 2009, 08:27 AM) *
Whatever. All the same garbage..

Referring to different gods/prophets (and presumably religious belief in general)
and
QUOTE (Yannick @ May 7 2009, 03:30 AM) *
I'm sick of theists and religions to be honest. Not the fault of this forum, so I shouldn't take it out here, but bleh.

Let's discuss this further!

First of all, here are my opinions on this (I am an atheist):
  • I have absolutely no problem with theists.
  • I think religion is a load of nonsense but I think in general it is usually pretty harmless. I am cynical enough to believe that if everyone suddenly decided to be an atheist, nothing much would change, and people would have no trouble finding other reasons to justify being horrible to each other. For this reason I try to respect others beliefs and keep my thoughts on the matter to myself most of the time. Of course, not having any religious friends makes this a lot easer!
  • On the other hand I do think that the kind of thought patterns involved in religious belief can be dangerous, (e.g. confidence tricks require faith in the con-artist) though irrational thinking is not at all limited to the religious.
  • I think people should be more skeptical in general, and kids should be taught critical thinking skills in school.
  • Religious people using their beliefs as justifications for things which affect a lot of people pisses me off and these people deserve no respect. (Example: young earth creationists meddling with science education in the US)

So what I would like to discuss is:
  1. How do you think religion is treated in society? Do you think that we should be respectful to people of all religions? To what degree?
  2. Is religion itself a bad thing? What about faith in general (e.g. belief in the supernatural)? Are some religions better than others? Should a religion be held to blame for actions which are committed by their followers in the name of the religion? What if those followers are in the minority?
  3. Do you think it's ok that people base their lives around something that may not be true (religion) providing it brings them happiness? Is faith a good thing?
leopold
Ooh, I can never resist a good religious debate! As an agnostic, it might be a bit odd that I should have opinions whilst sitting on the fence, but I prefer to think of it as keeping my options open wink.gif

Anwyay, on with the debate...

QUOTE (crazymat @ May 7 2009, 02:07 PM) *
How do you think religion is treated in society? Do you think that we should be respectful to people of all religions? To what degree?

I guess it all depends on the society in question. Some societies, such as ours here in the UK where the main faith is in decline and has become more secularised, I guess is leaning towards the "whatever" end of the scale. I suppose in other places, you'd be cast out as a heretic if you didn't follow the specific faith. I guess it depends on just how dogmatised each country is towards a particular belief.

I think the faith of any person should be treated with the same respect as their sexuality, gender or skin colour. I'm very much into the idea that people should exist as themselves and not be judged by who they are, where they came from or what they do. And I don't think that there are degrees of this; I can't see any way you could partially respect someone's religious belief, it's pretty much an all or nothing thing.

QUOTE (crazymat @ May 7 2009, 02:07 PM) *
Is religion itself a bad thing? What about faith in general (e.g. belief in the supernatural)? Are some religions better than others? Should a religion be held to blame for actions which are committed by their followers in the name of the religion? What if those followers are in the minority?

Whilst I don't think religion is a bad thing, I do think there are elements within religions who condone the use of their religion to be crap towards others of a different religion. It'd be easy to point to the Muslims for examples at this point, but it's just as easy to point to any of the Christian faiths for lousy behaviour in the name of the Lord. I'd be very hard pushed to blame a religion for the behaviour of it's followers, as I don't believe any religion deliberately sets out with that intention, but I don't condone the fundamentalists hiding behind their religion for protection, nor the behaviour of those religious leaders for allowing them to do what they do.

QUOTE (crazymat @ May 7 2009, 02:07 PM) *
Do you think it's ok that people base their lives around something that may not be true (religion) providing it brings them happiness? Is faith a good thing?

Faith is a good thing. Faith is what keeps people optimistic about the future. If people didn't have optimism, they'd be depressed and life wouldn't be worth living. Whether people derive faith from a monotheistic deity, a revered religious leader, a space alien or a spaghetti monster is of little consequence.
Yannick
..Going to do this as respectfully as possible. If you're religious, of any denomination, you're still likely to be offended, so as Mat said, don't read it.

Over the last few months, I've spent (probably way too much) a lot of my time debating religion on another forum (to make this clear, not RDF). Now, if anyone actually wants to debate their view, I'm all for it. All I ask is that everyone participated in the debate comes to it with an open mind, takes evidence seriously, and theists don't do that 'gmoz, you're doing to Hell' bull. Anyway, that take place in a different topic. Continuing.

I am someone who doesn't believe in any god ((6 + 1) - (1 * 10-999999999999999999999) on Dawkins's scale, so you might as well call it a 7. 7 for all popular gods today. The only reason I don't actually regard it as a 7 (though I still classify myself as one) is because there could be something out there, but if there is, it doesn't really interfere or care about us at all. By definition, it isn't even really a god. It could have created us, probably didn't, probably doesn't even exist. If someone claims it exists, they will need an overwhelming amount of evidence, which, meh, probably won't be provided.), is against/hates religion, thinks childhood indoctrination should be illegal, believes life is overall meaningless, and pursues over-all self-pleasure.

I have little problem with people before they mention religion. If it's casually brought up, and it turns out they're <insert popular denomination here>, I'll wonder why. If they say some bull answer like (I just know it's right. Everything in <insert book here> is true. Gawd is all around us. Because science is wrong!!!!!! etc.), they're likely to have lost my respect. If they come up with a reasonable justification (of which I've seen none wink.gif ), I'll likely think about it, find a way to disprove it, and engage in a healthy, mildish, debate.

Okay, so, "But Izzy, why can't people just believe what they want if it makes them happy?"
Well... Truancy, drugs, unhealthy amounts of Family Guy, junk food, and snogging teachers would make me happy. Needless to say, I don't do any of that stuff. Doing something because it makes you happy when it ultimately poses a problem isn't right. Being ignorant of the problem(s) doesn't help either. Religion is dangerous. It teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. God has really become a God of the Gaps, and, even the theists are realizing this, as science goes on, the gaps become smaller and smaller. Which is why there are so many refusals of evolution, of a 4.5 billion year old Earth. Things about origin (fairly interesting, if not important to most people) science will discover, the theist will blatantly refuse. Choosing ignorance over fact = idiotic. Should we respect idiots, honestly? Um, no. Respect is to be earned, not given. While you can still be religious and totally cool, the second you start blabbering about magical-sky-fairies, go away or welcome a debate.

The main thing that pisses me off is childhood indoctrination. Theists, think honestly. Would you be of the same denomination if you were born in Africa? The middle-east? Where you live now? Answer: No, probably not. Possibly for some, overall no. Okay, so why do you believe in what you believe? 'Well, my parents..' I see. And your kids? 'Don't have any. / Don't want any. / Believe what I or my partner believe. / Have been taught to think for themselves.' Okay, so most theists won't go for option four, but I've included it. Mainly because I hope that's what people start doing. CHILDHOOD INDOCTRINATION IS BRAINWASH, whether intentional or not. Let's use Christianity as an example.

brainwash - make (someone) adopt radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible pressure

The radical belief, Christianity. The systematic pressure, the Bible. The forcible pressure, fear of Hell and going to church.

Now, moderates vs. fundies. While moderates are far more tolerable, they just pick and choose what they believe, their rationalization being that times are a'changing. Well... While I appreciate your open-mindedness, I think, by your definition, you're a filthy heretic. Gawd's law is Gawd's law, being his law until he says otherwise. I think I've typed enough, though definitely not everything I want to say, so will leave this with some fun Bible quotes. When's the last time you Christians stoned someone?

If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the LORD gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God in violation of his covenant, and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars of the sky… Take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death. – Deut 17:2-7

If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods …do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. - Deut 13:7-12

Anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. – Lev 24:16


If a man commits adultery with another man's wife - with the wife of his neighbor - both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. - Leviticus 20:10


If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death. - Leviticus 20:13


If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father and mother, who does not heed them when they discipline him, then his father and his mother shall ... say to the elders of his town, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the town shall stone him to death. - Deut 21

Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life. - Leviticus 25:44


If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property. - Exodus Chapter 21:20

Bid slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to be refractory, nor to pilfer, but to show entire and true fidelity. - Titus 2:9


Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. - Numbers 31




I'm guessing you're also all good women that know her place and keeps her mouth shut in church, right?:

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. - 1 Corinthians 14

And:

Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. - 1 Tim 2

Basically, follow your own teachings (oi, keep the law the same though, we don't need these crazies running around, even in Jesusland), or shut up.
Yannick
QUOTE (leopold @ May 7 2009, 11:00 AM) *
I think the faith of any person should be treated with the same respect as their sexuality, gender or skin colour.

But why? You choose your faith, or have it forced down your throat, while sexuality/gender/skin color are entirely arbitrary details. Do you respect adults who think there are monsters under their bed or gnomes in their gardens too?

QUOTE (leopold @ May 7 2009, 11:00 AM) *
Faith is a good thing. Faith is what keeps people optimistic about the future. If people didn't have optimism, they'd be depressed and life wouldn't be worth living. Whether people derive faith from a monotheistic deity, a revered religious leader, a space alien or a spaghetti monster is of little consequence.

Haha, theists look forward to death, they only live life as the 'in between' phase. It's all good that it's there, but you know they totally wanna be up there partying it up with Gawd. ('Gawd' spelled like that means any god, to me, btw.) Life (though still pointless) is worth living because of how beautiful it is. Atheist and not depressed, btw. If you ARE depressed, you definitely shouldn't be making up gods to satisfy your unhappiness, anymore than you should make up an imaginary friend. Find the problem, face it. Sitting around and hoping Gawd will make it better accomplishes nothing.
Phyllis
QUOTE (crazymat @ May 7 2009, 02:07 PM) *
How do you think religion is treated in society?

It really depends on the society. I'm from one of the states with the highest percentages of non-religious people, and even there Christianity permeated so many aspects of day-to-day life. I remember being a kid and panicking when friends' parents asked me which church my family went to (not if we went -- where we went). My family never attended religious services of any kind, and that was apparently pretty strange for our neighbourhood. Being any religion other that Christian was even more unusual there. Here in the UK it's much more secular.
QUOTE (crazymat @ May 7 2009, 02:07 PM) *
Do you think that we should be respectful to people of all religions? To what degree?

Yes. I absolutely think it's necessary to be respectful of other belief systems, but only to the point where they don't infringe upon the rights of others or try to ram their beliefs down everyone's throats. Trying to place limits on the actions of others because they conflict with your religion is generally Not Okay in my book.
QUOTE (crazymat @ May 7 2009, 02:07 PM) *
Is religion itself a bad thing? What about faith in general (e.g. belief in the supernatural)?

No, religion itself is not a bad thing. I agree with you -- if there was no religion, people would find other ways to be nasty to one another. Faith in general can provide great comfort at times of stress. On the other hand, I do tend to get frustrated with some people I know who are inclined to just give up during trying times and say that they are putting it in the hands of God. If it's what genuinely works for them, though, then I can't really say many bad things about it.
QUOTE (crazymat @ May 7 2009, 02:07 PM) *
Are some religions better than others?

Hmm. I don't really know. It's hard to say, since I've never been a member of a big, organised religion. Reading about them in books and on the Internet can't really teach me how their services and scriptures make their followers feel. I'm inclined to say no, since what each person gets from his/her religion is very individual. Pantheism is a great fit for me, but someone who is drawn to, say, Catholicism would likely feel unsatisfied with the lack of structure/scriptures/community/church services/et cetera.
QUOTE (crazymat @ May 7 2009, 02:07 PM) *
Should a religion be held to blame for actions which are committed by their followers in the name of the religion? What if those followers are in the minority?

If the religion's scriptures and spiritual leaders say to do horrible things, then yes, I do think the religion is at least partly to blame. If the followers are in the minority, then I suppose it becomes a bit trickier. If they're following some tiny snippet of ancient scripture that modern religious leaders have spoken out against, then I don't think as much blame can be placed with the religion.
QUOTE (crazymat @ May 7 2009, 02:07 PM) *
Do you think it's ok that people base their lives around something that may not be true (religion) providing it brings them happiness?

Yes. It's certainly not harmful, in any case. Being a theist doesn't automatically mean rejecting science. My old philosophy professor has a really good speech on that subject that he gives to each class before they discuss Darwin. He is an atheist, but I recently saw a documentary made by a British Christian that made a lot of the same points that he always made. The documentary guy went around talking to various Christian scholars in the US and the UK, and a lot of them said that Genesis (maybe even the whole of the Bible -- I can't remember) was never meant to be taken literally. It was, to them, the inspired word of God, but also just a parable. The moral was what was important -- not the actual events. Most of them believed that evolution was how we came to be here, but God was what set it in motion. I don't agree with them, as I'm not a Christian, but I found it to be pretty interesting. I have a hard time seeing the harm in religion like that. I do think it's harmful when some more conservative theists try to shut science and logic out of their lives, but as long as they aren't trying to shut it out of the lives of others I can't get too upset about it.

Hopefully that wasn't too convoluted and rambling!
Yannick
QUOTE (candice @ May 7 2009, 01:00 PM) *
QUOTE (crazymat @ May 7 2009, 02:07 PM) *
Do you think that we should be respectful to people of all religions? To what degree?

Yes. I absolutely think it's necessary to be respectful of other belief systems, but only to the point where they don't infringe upon the rights of others or try to ram their beliefs down everyone's throats.

[My emphasis.] But why? Because of common courtesy and what is generally classified as 'appropriate human behavior'? Turn it around for a second. If a scientist theorizes something completely ludicrous, like stars being made of cheese and cheese being the origin of human life, and some random idiot hears it and turns it into some sort of cult (religions = cults), will you 'respect' that? Whether you're nice to them about it or not, you know you're going to think it's completely silly. Most people will feel the need to disprove it, because such obvious stupidity shouldn't (yet is...) be tolerated. As someone who cares about humanity (meh, to an extent), I'd prefer if people accept reality, and don't distort it to fit what they think/want to be right. Would I want a god and live eternally in heaven? Of course. Does that mean I'm going to get what I want? Haha, no. Religions are fairy tales, and I'll respect an adult who believes in sky-monsters no more than an adult who still believes in Santa or won't accept evolution.
*edit* You shouldn't respect something just because not respecting it will offend someone. The right to not be offended doesn't exist and belongs to no one.
voices_in_my_head
It's important to respect all belief systems (even if they do seem ludicrious to me)because what is "wrong" and "weird" to one person may make the upmost of sense to another.
Regardless of if you think something is stupid you have to look at things from another's point of view - not doing so is what has caused so many wars and crimes in the name of religion.

How religion is treated in society, of course, depends on the society. Coming from the bible belt, I can say that around here it's almost required to believe in God. People who don't are generally regarded with a sense of amazement. It's just a fact, here, that God exist and is up there looking after us all.
Is that a bad thing?
Sometimes, like I said, the key to all religions is the ability to also understand how someone else may see it, therefore not forcing your religion down the throats of other people.

Should a religion accept blame for those who act in the name of said religion?
here, I think it depends. If there were a religion where the entire basis was going around killing anyone who doesn't agree (is there?) that I think that yes, that religion is to blame. However, if the people who commit such actions are in the minority of the religion, I believe it's the people's fault for interpreting their religion in such a way. (Then again, i guess I'm contridicting myself. The same could be said for the people in the Majority....)

Faith, to me, is a good thing, so long as it isn't misconstrued to bother others into following it. If you are content with your religion and it gives you a sense of peace, then power to you. Just don't go around forcing your sense of peace on everybody else - what brings a person happiness will depend vastly on the given person - hence the large number of different religions.
Phyllis
QUOTE (Yannick @ May 7 2009, 09:41 PM) *
But why? Because of common courtesy and what is generally classified as 'appropriate human behavior'?


Yes. Because religions are more than just a set of beliefs. A lot of culture is wrapped up in religion -- holidays we celebrate, traditions we pass down. Because I try my best to treat others the way I would like to be treated. Respecting their beliefs doesn't mean I can't question them and/or tell them that I completely disagree. It doesn't even mean that I can't try to disprove what they believe. Respecting the person and the fact that they have a right to have a different belief system doesn't mean that I necessarily respect what they believe. All it means is that I treat them nicely and don't do things like, say, serve bacon to an Orthodox Jew.

QUOTE (Yannick @ May 7 2009, 09:41 PM) *
Turn it around for a second. If a scientist theorizes something completely ludicrous, like stars being made of cheese and cheese being the origin of human life, and some random idiot hears it and turns it into some sort of cult (religions = cults), will you 'respect' that?

No, because it's not the same thing. Genuine faiths are not the same as cults. Cults generally cause actual harm to come to their members. Religions usually try to help their members out. They do things like have bake sales when someone's house burns down. Church attendance is completely voluntary. If you stop going, the preacher might come around to ask why, but in all likelihood he isn't going to stalk you. You could even speak out against the church and be reasonably sure that they wouldn't try to ruin your life as revenge. The same cannot be said of cults. Cults are extreme, and comparing mainstream religions to them is, quite frankly, absurd. Fun fact: one of my aunts was a member of a cult for a few years during the 80's. Trust me when I say that no organized religion would have treated her and her sons the way that group did.
Yannick
QUOTE (candice @ May 7 2009, 05:10 PM) *
Because I try my best to treat others the way I would like to be treated.

Fair enough. Pass that on to the theists maybe? It's idiots like this guy (and many others like him) that have influenced my hate of religion and the religious. I know not everyone is like that, I can think of maybe three (out of *many*) nice, non-caring/preaching church going people. I still think they seriously lack critical thinking skills, are fairly gullible, have foolish beliefs, and aren't really that smart, though. Anyway. I personally couldn't care less if theists feel the same way about me as I feel about them. Why should I care if someone I think is a total idiot anyway doesn't respect me? If the feelings are mutual, I'm not complaining.

QUOTE
All it means is that I treat them nicely and don't do things like, say, serve bacon to an Orthodox Jew.

Hmm, maybe we should define respect. While I think it's important, when debating, to do so civilly, I don't need to respect the person. I've been talking about the "feeling of admiration of someone" respect, not really the "be nice" respect. Obviously when talking to theists, I'm not just going to start insulting them, as they rarely, if ever, accomplishes anything. Yeah, I still think they're total idiots, but I can talk to them without coming off as an arrogant jerk. It's usually "while I understand your point of view, here's exactly what's wrong with it". When they refuse to accept such simple and obvious things that I've pointed out, because it doesn't agree with their religion, that's generally when the "you're a brain-washed idiot" part comes in.

QUOTE
No, because it's not the same thing. Genuine faiths are not the same as cults. Cults generally cause actual harm to come to their members.

Religions may not be extremist cults, but they are cults nonetheless. It's nothing but people with a particular system of veneration and devotion directed towards <deity>, ergo a cult. Dude, the brainwashing Christianity (sorry if it sounds like I'm focusing on it, but it's what I'm most familiar with) does is harmful. The donations the church guilts you into giving is harmful. The fear of hell forced into children f**ks them up. All the time wasted at church is harmful.
Phyllis
QUOTE (Yannick @ May 7 2009, 11:14 PM) *
I can think of maybe three (out of *many*) nice, non-caring/preaching church going people.

And I can think of maybe three (out of *many*) who are as horrible as you make theists out to be. I'm talking about people I am personally acquainted with, here -- not Internet trolls.

QUOTE (Yannick @ May 7 2009, 11:14 PM) *
I still think they seriously lack critical thinking skills, are fairly gullible, have foolish beliefs, and aren't really that smart, though.

Generalisations are almost never a good idea. You've based this opinion largely on what? Your interactions with people online? Internet forums tend to bring out the crazies (ooh, a generalisation). There are plenty of nice, normal people online, of course, but their voices usually get lost in the shuffle when some raving nutjob comes along and says something inflammatory and/or obtuse.

QUOTE (Yannick @ May 7 2009, 11:14 PM) *
I've been talking about the "feeling of admiration of someone" respect, not really the "be nice" respect.

I was talking about showing respect, not insulting people, acknowledging their right to have different beliefs, that kind of thing. Not feeling admiration.

QUOTE (Yannick @ May 7 2009, 11:14 PM) *
When they refuse to accept such simple and obvious things that I've pointed out, because it doesn't agree with their religion, that's generally when the "you're a brain-washed idiot" part comes in.

Just because someone doesn't agree with something you see as obvious, it doesn't mean that they're an idiot. I think it's pretty obvious that not all theists are brainwashed sheep, but I don't think you're an idiot.

QUOTE (Yannick @ May 7 2009, 11:14 PM) *
Dude, the brainwashing Christianity (sorry if it sounds like I'm focusing on it, but it's what I'm most familiar with) does is harmful. The donations the church guilts you into giving is harmful. The fear of hell forced into children f**ks them up. All the time wasted at church is harmful.

I disagree. Christianity does not brainwash. moop was raised by some of the most devout Christians I know, and he still managed to be an atheist at a rather young age. As I said before, you are allowed to leave the church any time you please, and even speak out against its practices. That ain't brainwashing. If you were raised as a Christian your parents will probably be upset, but that's a familial issue -- not a religious one. My parents would be upset if I went against the values that they tried to instill in me as a child. It's universal, and not at all limited to theists. No one knows if you put in $1 or $100 into the collection basket each week. Whenever I've gone to chapel with the in-laws I have just passed it along to the next person without contributing a thing, and no one gave me the stink-eye for it. I'm not sure that the fear of Hell is really much different than the fear of parental disapproval. I was terrified of getting into trouble as a kid, and my parents never even so much as mentioned Hell. The time spent at church would be a waste for you, but for a devout person it is an enriching experience.

I belong to another messageboard that has quite a few atheists who are parents, and the discussion I see them having time and time again is that they wish they had a (non-religious) church-like community for their kids. Churches do a lot of community service-type things. The stuff I didn't bring with me when I moved to the UK was donated to a local church (possibly including, by mistake, a pink dildo named Tony). They sell donations to raise money to help the needy. A lot of homeless and domestic violence shelters are church-operated. Just because you want them to be some Big Bad Entity that brainwashes the masses, it doesn't make it true (any more than a theist wanting God to be real makes Him exist). Calling them cults (even "less extreme" cults) is just plain ridiculous and hyperbolic. Yes, there are extremist churches that are probably close to cult-like status, but the vast majority are not like that. Do you have any idea what a cult is actually like?

Good grief. I never thought I'd be arguing on the side of churches. I was really, really sad when my 24 year streak of never attending one ended (Christmas with the in-laws is spent at chapel). I dislike going to church, and I plan to avoid it in the future if at all possible. I can just understand why other people would want church in their lives, and I don't think they are stupid because of it. I might think they're stupid for other reasons, but those reasons are very rarely linked to spirituality.
elphaba2
QUOTE (Yannick @ May 7 2009, 06:14 PM) *
Hmm, maybe we should define respect[...]I've been talking about the "feeling of admiration of someone" respect, not really the "be nice" respect.

Respect is neither of those things, darlinface. Cand jumped on this one for me, but I feel like a way better definition would be the recognition and acceptance of an element of another's life. I respect people and things that I don't admire, and defining respect as "be nice" is just silly. I'm nice to loooaaads of people I don't respect (like rude atheists!)

QUOTE (Yannick @ May 7 2009, 06:14 PM) *
Obviously when talking to theists, I'm not just going to start insulting them, as they rarely, if ever, accomplishes anything.

Isn't that what you're doing? Idiots, sheep, supporters of a global EVILNESS REGIME are all things you've used to refer to theists in this thread. Assuming Matazone is purely atheist is interesting...

QUOTE
No, because it's not the same thing. Genuine faiths are not the same as cults. Cults generally cause actual harm to come to their members.

QUOTE
Religions may not be extremist cults, but they are cults nonetheless. It's nothing but people with a particular system of veneration and devotion directed towards <deity>, ergo a cult. Dude, the brainwashing Christianity (sorry if it sounds like I'm focusing on it, but it's what I'm most familiar with) does is harmful. The donations the church guilts you into giving is harmful. The fear of hell forced into children f**ks them up. All the time wasted at church is harmful.

Case study time! Let's talk about a particular fork of Christianity that I'm well-acquainted with, the local Episcopalian church I stopped attending when I was about your age. Rather than putting the fear of hell into anyone, the only thing I ever learned there was to be as open and accepting as I possibly could--this was explained as a message of Jesus. My father, a devout Christian, uses his faith to remind him to be kind even which logic says not to, to give as much of himself as he can towards good works and justice. How is this a problem? How does this hurt anyone? And, on an extended note, do you suppose my father would act the same way if he subscribed to a there-is-no-God, might-as-well-take-care-of-me-and-mine point of view? I mean, if one was devoutedly atheist, one would avoid supporting the church in any manner, correct? Which crosses out about three-quarters of current charities, doesn't it? Would a devout atheist give a Kiva loan to a theist businessperson if they were informed that some of this person's profits would go towards a faith?

Re: giving money. I suppose one argument about the damaging nature of my father's faith could be that he gives money to the church. Yep. And as treasurer for six years, he was able to show me precisely where that money went. Most was for the actual bricks-and-mortar costs of running a church (electricity bills, urgent repairs, upkeep). Some went towards a no-questions-asked family shelter in the back wing of the church which local community members (including my family and I) helped build free of charge, using donated materials. Some goes towards rebuilding a mosque in Afghanistan that was destroyed by American bombs five years ago. Some goes to an orphanage in Hondurus, some goes to local soup-kitchens and clothing-distribution in my hometown.

I'm just claiming exception rights, and trying to make sure you know that, like the three people (gracious, there must be more you don't know about. Have you got any respect for MLK2 or Malcolm X?) you mentioned, it's possible to grow up in a church and be a happy, well-developed human being who questions and explores and does good things. In fact, I think many more people than you think do so. The age of the dangerous church passed a long time ago--it may ring fresh in Dawkin's rather well-aged brain, but I think allowing its memory to linger does a lot more harm than good.
CrazyFooIAintGettinOnNoPlane
Izzy, I think you are using a very broad definition of "cult" which not many people would agree with. Ok the line between the two can be a bit fuzzy sometimes but the average cult is very different to the average religion.

QUOTE
The main thing that pisses me off is childhood indoctrination. Theists, think honestly. Would you be of the same denomination if you were born in Africa? The middle-east? Where you live now? Answer: No, probably not. Possibly for some, overall no. Okay, so why do you believe in what you believe? 'Well, my parents..' I see. And your kids? 'Don't have any. / Don't want any. / Believe what I or my partner believe. / Have been taught to think for themselves.' Okay, so most theists won't go for option four, but I've included it. Mainly because I hope that's what people start doing. CHILDHOOD INDOCTRINATION IS BRAINWASH, whether intentional or not. Let's use Christianity as an example.
Again I think you're overreacting a bit here... although I definitely understand where you're coming from. Ultra-religious kids are creepy...

QUOTE
Fair enough. Pass that on to the theists maybe? It's idiots like this guy (and many others like him) that have influenced my hate of religion and the religious. I know not everyone is like that, I can think of maybe three (out of *many*) nice, non-caring/preaching church going people. I still think they seriously lack critical thinking skills, are fairly gullible, have foolish beliefs, and aren't really that smart, though.

If they are nice people why do you hate them? Seriously, I think if I talked to most people for long enough I could find something they believe in that I think is completely stupid, but I'd try not to let that change my opinion of them as a person. I also don't think its fair how you are lumping all theists into one group there. Even within a single religion, what people actually believe varies a lot from person to person, yet you seem to be judging them all by the worst examples. I could just as easily point to a a few people to show that atheists have no morals or whatever. In my opinion most people lack critical thinking skills, I don't think religious people as a group are much worse than non-religious people.

QUOTE (leopold @ May 7 2009, 04:00 PM) *
I guess it all depends on the society in question. Some societies, such as ours here in the UK where the main faith is in decline and has become more secularised, I guess is leaning towards the "whatever" end of the scale. I suppose in other places, you'd be cast out as a heretic if you didn't follow the specific faith. I guess it depends on just how dogmatised each country is towards a particular belief.
Indeed it does, I guess there should have a been a "your" in there somewhere.

QUOTE
I think the faith of any person should be treated with the same respect as their sexuality, gender or skin colour. I'm very much into the idea that people should exist as themselves and not be judged by who they are, where they came from or what they do. And I don't think that there are degrees of this; I can't see any way you could partially respect someone's religious belief, it's pretty much an all or nothing thing.
Thats a good point. What I meant by that was whether or not you should respect all religious beliefs, or if there are exceptions. I don't know if I agree with you on not judging people based on who they are. It sounds like nice but I can definitely think of cases where I would judge people on their beliefs, like if I met someone who was racist I probably wouldn't want to hang out with them.

QUOTE (candice @ May 7 2009, 06:00 PM) *
Hopefully that wasn't too convoluted and rambling!
Not at all, it's interesting for me to hear your perspective, as I had a very different experience growing up and religion has never played any part in my life really.

QUOTE
Yes. I absolutely think it's necessary to be respectful of other belief systems, but only to the point where they don't infringe upon the rights of others or try to ram their beliefs down everyone's throats. Trying to place limits on the actions of others because they conflict with your religion is generally Not Okay in my book.
Agreed.
Yannick
QUOTE (candice @ May 7 2009, 07:32 PM) *
And I can think of maybe three (out of *many*) who are as horrible as you make theists out to be. I'm talking about people I am personally acquainted with, here -- not Internet trolls.

I used Tony as an example because I can't really link to some of the people I have the displeasure of going to school with. When we lived in Orlando, I went to a school with a fair amount of religious people, but it was still alright. Now that we've moved to this middle of no where lame town, with ten churches biking distance from my house, it's completely lame. The school is much larger (basically everyone goes to the same middle school), and so far I have befriended two atheists. The amount of Christianity at the school is ridiculous. I've seen fifty or so kids wearing a "I love girls/boys but..." t-shirt, with a promise to never undress them with their eyes on the back. Underneath that, it has a date, and the school name. Just because people can be more jerky online doesn't stop them from existing in real life. Theists here will lecture you endlessly at the mildest hint of atheism/agnosticism.

QUOTE
Generalisations are almost never a good idea. You've based this opinion largely on what? Your interactions with people online? Internet forums tend to bring out the crazies (ooh, a generalisation). There are plenty of nice, normal people online, of course, but their voices usually get lost in the shuffle when some raving nutjob comes along and says something inflammatory and/or obtuse.

Again, though trolls contribute, it's not based purely on them. I may be being overly stereotypical, but I don't like moderate theists for different reasons that I don't like fundamentalists. Mainly because they don't follow their own rules.

QUOTE
I was talking about showing respect, not insulting people, acknowledging their right to have different beliefs, that kind of thing. Not feeling admiration.

Yeah, everyone totally has the right to believe whatever stupid things they want. I have the right to let them know how stupid their beliefs are.


QUOTE
Just because someone doesn't agree with something you see as obvious, it doesn't mean that they're an idiot. I think it's pretty obvious that not all theists are brainwashed sheep, but I don't think you're an idiot.

Meh. If a person can pick up the bible, for instance, read it through, having a bit of scientific knowledge beforehand, and agree with it, I'd be surprised. Children have fairly open minds, and if their parents tell them this crap from day one, isn't it brainwash? It's like Santa. They're tricked to believe in something that isn't true, whether known by the parents or not.

QUOTE
I disagree. Christianity does not brainwash. moop was raised by some of the most devout Christians I know, and he still managed to be an atheist at a rather young age.

Well yeah, intelligent people get over the baloney. I assume moop's parents tried to make him Christian as well? That's an attempt at brainwash, though we should probably call it indoctrination.


QUOTE
As I said before, you are allowed to leave the church any time you please, and even speak out against its practices.

Well yeah. You can do that with other cults too, the minor difference in some being you won't necessarily be welcomed back.

QUOTE
If you were raised as a Christian your parents will probably be upset, but that's a familial issue -- not a religious one.

It can be religious. The thought of being in Heaven with one of your kids burning in Hell can be devastating for people. That's kind of the point of Heaven. To rid us of the fear of dying. People love their families, and some would choose some pretty scary things over separation. (Like when Anne Frank's dad decided he wanted the family to stay together instead of sending his daughters to London.) The thought of being with your loved ones forever in heaven is nice, the idea of your kid being tortured for eternity isn't. If not for religion, though, it wouldn't be an issue at all.

QUOTE
My parents would be upset if I went radically against the values that they tried to instill in me as a child. It's universal, and not at all limited to theists.

Yeah, but only theists would get upset about you denying a sky-monster. Most values parents teach their children, like don't steal or don't kill, are universal anyway. Most people will end up having morals regardless of religion, and religion doesn't necessarily mean you're going to behave yourself any better than anyone else. I can look up the population of Christians in the US vs. the population of Christians in US jails, and compare it to atheists in the same categories if anyone wants me to. I can't remember, but I think atheists made up like 10% of the US and .02% of jails, while the Christian population is consistent percentage wise with the amounts of Christians in jail.
elphaba2
Mang, if I got locked up I would convert SO FAST. Jail is a miserable place, and if you're a professed Christian you get hella perks (visiting priest to talk to, chapel to go to on Sunday, all type of guards/parole boards/judges thinking you're super-docile, respect of other inmates, etc). Always question the nature of yo stats.

My support of faith is the flip side of your biggest argument against it--that it teaches people to suspend logic. Because of this, female workers in jamiyaas (faith-based charities) in Lebanon put working to help the poor ahead of their own lives. Because of this, kids attending Sunday school at Baptist churches in the Bronx learn about turning the other cheek and nonviolent methods of resolving fights. Because of this, ladies at this church in my hometown wake up early and bake muffins to hand out to the Ecuadorian dudes standing at the labor-pickup stop all day, hoping someone will need them for a construction gig. Faith helps people do good things despite the fact that they are logically dangerous (eg, 'turning the other cheek' in a Bronx schoolyard) or of no benefit to the do-gooder. What a powerful thing!
Yannick
Thread giving me a headache. Will reply to Mat and Elphaba's stuff later/tomorrow.
Phyllis
QUOTE (Yannick @ May 8 2009, 01:21 AM) *
Yeah, but only theists would get upset about you denying a sky-monster. Most values parents teach their children, like don't steal or don't kill, are universal anyway. Most people will end up having morals regardless of religion, and religion doesn't necessarily mean you're going to behave yourself any better than anyone else.

I'm pretty sure if I decided I was conservative during the last election and put a huge McCain/Palin sticker in my window that my mother would have had a stroke. wink.gif (Of course, the only way I would have done that was if I had a stroke, but never mind) It wouldn't have been about behaving myself or any sort of universal morals -- she would have been upset because I went against what she believed to be right, the way she raised me, etc.

Izzy, you seem to want to change theists into atheists. That just isn't going to happen in most cases. Faith doesn't work that way. You can't create it where it doesn't exist, and it's pretty difficult to take it away. Faith isn't rational. It's something that is felt. Trying to will it away with logic is like trying to explain to someone who is in love that it's all just chemicals and pheromones. You can shout at them until you're blue in the face that what they're feeling isn't meaningful, but that isn't going to change the fact that it feels meaningful to them. It's a lot easier to encourage people to open their mind to rational thought and science in a way that doesn't conflict with their faith. Telling them that they have been brainwashed and should accept evolution NOW because the sky-bully doesn't exist won't get you very far.

Religion is kind of like people who get all excited to look at trains (no, seriously. Some people do that here. And I promise that after this paragraph I'll stop with the similies). I cannot understand why they all get together with their cameras and binoculars to look at some freaking trains. What are they looking for? I don't get it. But every time I see them, they all have huge smiles on their faces. I would be bored senseless with that hobby, but they obviously love it. Different people find enjoyment in different things. My in-laws find a lot of personal fulfillment in going to church, while I find a lot of personal fulfillment in sleeping in on Sundays.

It's late (ack, very late!) on my side of the world, so I'll respond to the rest later.
mynabyrd
Izzy,

We talked about this over AIM for a bit today. While I dislike faith as much as the next new atheist, I have serious issues with your view of the faithful.

Let me back up a bit for the rest of you. My name is Mariana Lynch-- I'm a fifteen year old secular humanist from the Pacific Northwest (southern Washington state-- specifically, Vancouver). I have two devout Jehovah's Witness parents, which may give me a bit more perspective on the issue than Izzy has.

I think religion is damaging. I watch the effects it's had on my family, both on the individual and on our interpersonal relations, and I just wish that my parents could see all the unnecessary hurt and malice it's caused for all of us. You seem to have a very one-dimensional view of believers-- belief is a complex phenomenon that can't solely be attributed to stupidity and ignorance. Here's some evidence for that claim.

Do you think Kurt Wise is intellectually incompetent? Ignorant? I highly doubt it. He has more education and scientific knowledge than many atheists, but still hangs on to his stupid Young Earth delusions. Clearly there's something more here.

My parents are talented artists/craftspeople. My father's got his Bachelor's and works as a graphic designer, while he and my mother make plush on the side. They've been published in all kinds of crafts magazines, done a ton of shows and are facing the possibility of mass production-- their little project is gaining them a reputation in the flourishing arts community of Portland, Oregon. My dad is also a Production Manager for the popular A List Apart.

They're far from stupid-- in their case, I'd say ignorance is a big part of it. They don't have the necessary critical thinking skills or knowledge of even basic science. For a long time I operated under the assumption that every creationist was like me-- truly ignorant but open-minded. Kurt Wise makes me seriously question the validity of that assumption, and while I have no doubt in my mind that my parents are easily intelligent enough to understand science, their (1) lack of interest and (2) faith plant doubts in my mind that they will ever "come around" and face the facts.

But my parents are good people who are sincerely misled in many ways. They deserve to be treated like anyone else-- and as atheists, we are typically very concerned about our First Amendment rights and seek to combat discrimination against the godless. So how can you turn around, treat a fundie/evangelical Christian the same way and expect equality? That's awfully hypocritical.

I don't have a shred of respect for many religious practices, but I do respect the individual's right to abide by those practices, as long as they're not pushing it on others or hurting anyone else. I also support being outspoken about atheism, as anyone who reads my blog will know. But the internet is different-- you can be as harsh as you feel the need to because only people who want to read your stuff will be there. You're not talking to a Christian directly and they can't legitimately feel insulted. On the interwebs, you're not dealing with Creationists-- you're dealing with Creation itself. Those are beliefs, not believers.

We should be about promoting a positive image for atheism. At this point in my relationship with my parents, sometimes I've learned it's better to let them talk and I just stay out of the conversation; picking a fight over certain topics will not make any headway with them and everyone just ends up getting pissed at each other. No progress is being made. On the other hand, if it's unavoidable or if it seems appropriate, I'll make my points-- but with tact. I'm firm in correcting logical fallacies and factual inaccuracies, but calmly and in the most neutral tone I can manage.

You have to be careful. If you go around saying religious people are stupid and ignorant not one of them is going to listen to you. Personal attacks are almost always (I say almost always because I can't think of a time when they'd be okay, but there may be a case I can't think of) inappropriate... there are much better ways to get at what you're saying. The point of debate should not be to make the other person feel stupid or inferior, but rather to enlighten them and maybe learn something yourself.

Don't overgeneralize about the religious, especially when you clearly have no experience with them.
oxym0ronical
Izzy, please don't see this as a personal attack because it's truly not meant to be. But, after reading through everything you've posted here, I have one big question for you. How can you honestly expect other people to respect your right to your beliefs (or lack thereof), respect your right to be outspoken about your beliefs, and respect your right to be treated decently when you do not afford them the same respect?

I am a Christian. I am not overly religious, I do not attend church, but I do have beliefs that I hold very dear to me. My reason for holding those beliefs may not be a reason you find 'acceptable', but it doesn't have to be. Just like your reason for being atheist doesn't have to be a reason I find acceptable. I don't have to debate my reasons because like it or not, I'm not going to change how you feel and you're not going to change how I feel. Some people do revert back to <insert religion of choice here> later in life, but it's very rarely because someone said something that made them decide they were wrong all along. Generally it's because they have had some sort of epiphany, or they have found something within themselves that has made them acknowledge their faith. The opposite holds true as well.. many people later realize they are atheists or agnostics not because of what people say to them, but because they realize their beliefs just don't match their religion or any religion at all.

Here's the thing though.. I'll never question your reasoning because I respect that, as a person, that is the life you choose to live. I'll never put you down, consider you stupid or uninformed, or try to debate with you whenever you bring up the fact that you are an atheist. That's part of not pushing my beliefs on others.
oxym0ronical
Now to answer the original questions.

1. How do you think religion is treated in society? Do you think that we should be respectful to people of all religions? To what degree? I think religion has come under fire quite a bit in recent times, and for good reason. There are always going to be people who badly represent whatever religion they hold, and those are typically the ones who you will see on TV, in news stories, etc. Bringing light to the fact that bad things are happening can't be anything but good, because how do you change it otherwise? As far as respecting people of all religions, I guess my belief is that why should religion even come into play? What happened to respecting all people, or treating others the way you want to be treated? That said, I don't think anyone's beliefs should be forced on others.

2. Is religion itself a bad thing? What about faith in general (e.g. belief in the supernatural)? Are some religions better than others? Should a religion be held to blame for actions which are committed by their followers in the name of the religion? What if those followers are in the minority? I think the best thing I can say is that everyone needs something to believe in. Some people believe in a higher power, some people believe in the earth and nature, and some people simply believe in themselves. So is religion a bad thing? Is faith a bad thing? No. My religion is no better than anyone else's. There is no one "good" religion. And, as said above, there are always going to be people who badly represent their faith. They are not the faith, and as such, no I do not think the religion should be held to blame for people who go to the extremes (and often ironically go against everything they have been taught). Most of the time, the extremists are the minority.

3. Do you think it's ok that people base their lives around something that may not be true (religion) providing it brings them happiness? Is faith a good thing? If someone believes in the Easter Bunny and thinks rainbows always have a pot of gold at the end, who am I to judge them? People need happiness. I may not agree with it, I may not even like it, I may find it utterly absurd, but it's not my place to say whether or not it's okay. As long as it does not harm others. So yes, I think faith (no matter what the faith may be instilled in) is a good thing.
Yannick
Bah, this is all a bit much to reply to. Regarding respect, I still think theists are total idiots (this is a generalization, and is aimed at no one in particular), but I guess I shouldn't show it the way I have been. I've just received some good advice, and that's to attack the argument, not the person. This guy I know told me that "You are talking utter rot. Everything I have heard from you so far is just stupid." works, as opposed to "You are stupid." Meh, insults really contribute nothing to debates, so I guess biting my tongue won't kill me. (Disclaimer: Totally doesn't change what I think. At all. I just won't be such a complete ass about it.)

Oxym0ronical, I don't really expect respect from theists. Nor do I particularly care for it. I've yet to be involved in a debate where the theist comes in with an open mind and doesn't resort to reminding me that I'm going to burn in Hell when they get frustrated.

Okay, I see how you're trying to avoid a debate, and I'm going to attempt to use my new found 'respect' to 'respect' that, but three things. 1. You're a Christian that holds his/her faith close to him/her, but doesn't attend church and isn't generally very religious? (!!!) 2. Why the unwillingness to debate? Clearly, if you're so sure of your beliefs, you should have some sort of evidence/decent reasoning to hold them, right? 3. Oh man, question everything. My beliefs, your beliefs, everyone's beliefs included. Inquiry isn't disrespect. Even if it was, do it anyway. Learn what you can, dismiss what's wrong. Yeah.
oxym0ronical
QUOTE
Oxym0ronical, I don't really expect respect from theists. Nor do I particularly care for it. I've yet to be involved in a debate where the theist comes in with an open mind and doesn't resort to reminding me that I'm going to burn in Hell when they get frustrated.


Everyone deserves to be respected - you included - and it shouldn't matter if it's someone who believes in a higher power or someone who believes in unicorns and rainbows. And, for what it's worth, people who resort to the "you're going to hell" line generally aren't worth debating with anyhow.

QUOTE
Okay, I see how you're trying to avoid a debate, and I'm going to attempt to use my new found 'respect' to 'respect' that, but three things. 1. You're a Christian that holds his/her faith close to him/her, but doesn't attend church and isn't generally very religious? (!!!) 2. Why the unwillingness to debate? Clearly, if you're so sure of your beliefs, you should have some sort of evidence/decent reasoning to hold them, right? 3. Oh man, question everything. My beliefs, your beliefs, everyone's beliefs included. Inquiry isn't disrespect. Even if it was, do it anyway. Learn what you can, dismiss what's wrong. Yeah.


1. Church doesn't have to be a part of faith. Nor does being overly religious (read: religious zealot). Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who believe in a higher power but will never step foot in a church. I am one of those people for my own reasons. I'd rather not really get into it in detail, but basically as a child, I was forced to go to church. Said church was very corrupt and left me with a huge amount of anger and disbelief in religion. I believed I was an atheist for a long time. I won't bore you with the details but I had a couple life-changing events that made me rethink how I felt. I realized that it wasn't my belief in God that I had an issue with. It was the church and religion in general. I also realized that I didn't have to go to church, I didn't have to blindly agree with everything I was taught about religion, and I could think for myself - there's nothing wrong with any of those things.

2. I don't debate because there's no point for me. I'm not the type to try to convert a person to my beliefs because I can't stand it when someone does the same to me. Give me information, give me facts, give me education, and I am generally fine with that. But don't disregard my beliefs just because they're not the same as your own, and don't continue to try to convince me I am wrong. I'm not trying to change how you feel, and you won't be able to change how I feel. Faith is something you either have or you don't. Faith isn't about evidence or "decent reasoning", which is highly subjective anyhow. Something I find to be "decent reasoning" is something you'll probably feel is rubbish, and that's okay because that's what makes the world interesting. How incredibly boring would it be if we all believed the same thing? Many of my friends are atheist or agnostic, and I can honestly say it has never created a problem.

3. I don't think I said it very clearly so let me try again. By not questioning your reasoning, I mean I will accept that whatever reasons you have work for you. That doesn't mean I will agree, but that means that I am not going to continue hounding you until I get a reason that I can accept. What's wrong for me isn't necessarily wrong for you, or whomever happens to be on the other end of it. So yes, definitely learn what you can, and it doesn't even hurt to question people and ask why they feel the way they do, but it's a matter of how you do it, and how you handle it when you get an answer that you don't agree with.

For an overly simplified example.. say you like mushrooms. I can't stand mushrooms. I don't like the taste, the texture, etc. When you ask me why I don't like mushrooms, I can say all of the above and my answers will not be answers that are acceptable to you, because you like the taste and texture. That's fine and dandy. Then we both chalk it up to a difference of opinion and move along, because neither of us is right and neither of us is wrong.
Phyllis
QUOTE (Yannick @ May 8 2009, 01:21 AM) *
I may be being overly stereotypical, but I don't like moderate theists for different reasons that I don't like fundamentalists. Mainly because they don't follow their own rules.

Their own rules according to who (should that be whom? I can never remember which one to use)? You? Their religious leaders? Following the Bible (since we keep coming back to Christianity) does not mean following every rule in the thing. Being a Christian does not mean that you will live a life free from sin. No one is perfect. My moral code isn't written down in any book, but I have done things that I'm not proud of. Who hasn't? The best any human can do is try to correct their mistakes and seek forgiveness when necessary. I'd imagine that for most theists that includes seeking forgiveness from God.

Like you, I went to school with a lot of super-religious kids in a very rural town. More than one of them tried to convert me. If you had asked me and a girl I used to know to articulate our opinions on this topic 10 years ago, she would have sounded like a hardcore fundamentalist, and I would have sounded like a semi-agnostic version of you. I'm not trying to be condescending and say "Oh, you'll all grow out of it." I obviously can't know that, and being a fundamentalist (theist or atheist) isn't limited by age. I just know that up until we went to college, most of those kids I knew had really never experienced anything beyond our tiny little town. Going away from home made quite a few of them realise that the world isn't as simple as they made it out to be. It did the same for me. They're still theists, as far as I know, but some of them aren't as intolerant of other beliefs. It might be worth giving them a chance to experience life outside of that place before you judge them.

QUOTE (Yannick @ May 8 2009, 01:21 AM) *
Children have fairly open minds, and if their parents tell them this crap from day one, isn't it brainwash?

No. I think that more often than not religious parents are just trying to raise their children to respect a God that they genuinely believe exists. Some parents do indoctrinate, sure, but many others encourage their kids to ask questions about what they are learning. I've had very religious people agree with me when I've asked how you can say you truly believe something unless you've questioned it. The faith of a person who asks questions and considers other viewpoints is different from the blind faith of childhood. I don't personally know many adult theists who have never questioned their own beliefs, so I'm generally inclined to say that they aren't brainwashed.

QUOTE (Yannick @ May 8 2009, 01:21 AM) *
Well yeah, intelligent people get over the baloney. I assume moop's parents tried to make him Christian as well? That's an attempt at brainwash, though we should probably call it indoctrination.

Dude, did you just imply that my in-laws are idiotic brainwashers? tongue.gif I can't really talk about moop's personal experience with losing his faith -- I didn't know him at the time, and he isn't here to verify what I'd write. What I can talk about is what I know of his parents. They're devout Christians, but they're also intelligent, good people. I have my issues with what they believe, but I happen to think that both of their kids turned out pretty great. They must have gotten at least a few things right with the whole parenting thing.

QUOTE (Yannick @ May 8 2009, 01:21 AM) *
Well yeah. You can do that with other cults too, the minor difference in some being you won't necessarily be welcomed back.

No. You can't do that with cults. You can't just leave whenever you please. It's not a minor difference. If you speak out against Scientology, for instance, they will harass and/or sue you and basically attempt to ruin your life. Cults genuinely abuse their members and take all of their money. It's on a whole different level from making kids afraid of Hell and asking for a few dollars in the collection plate each week. Mainstream (read: not extremist) religions are not cults.
QUOTE (Yannick @ May 8 2009, 01:21 AM) *
I've just received some good advice, and that's to attack the argument, not the person.

That is indeed some good advice. A step in the right direction, at least. Edited to add that I do agree with what crazymat has said below. It's better to pick apart the argument, rather than attack it.
CrazyFooIAintGettinOnNoPlane
Hi Mariana, welcome to the forums smile.gif

Wow, lots of replies - I'm just going to reply to Izzy for now since I mostly agree with what everyone else has said on the topic.

QUOTE (Yannick @ May 8 2009, 06:48 AM) *
Bah, this is all a bit much to reply to. Regarding respect, I still think theists are total idiots (this is a generalization, and is aimed at no one in particular), but I guess I shouldn't show it the way I have been. I've just received some good advice, and that's to attack the argument, not the person. This guy I know told me that "You are talking utter rot. Everything I have heard from you so far is just stupid." works, as opposed to "You are stupid." Meh, insults really contribute nothing to debates, so I guess biting my tongue won't kill me. (Disclaimer: Totally doesn't change what I think. At all. I just won't be such a complete ass about it.)
No, it doesn't work. I see little difference in those two statements. Telling people they are talking rubbish adds nothing to the discussion, and it is insulting. If their arguments are flawed you should either point out whats wrong with it, or give up and agree to disagree. Just telling them their arguments are stupid isn't going to persuade them you're right, it's just gonna make them pissed off at you.

QUOTE (Yannick @ May 8 2009, 06:48 AM) *
Okay, I see how you're trying to avoid a debate, and I'm going to attempt to use my new found 'respect' to 'respect' that, but three things. 1. You're a Christian that holds his/her faith close to him/her, but doesn't attend church and isn't generally very religious? (!!!) 2. Why the unwillingness to debate? Clearly, if you're so sure of your beliefs, you should have some sort of evidence/decent reasoning to hold them, right? 3. Oh man, question everything. My beliefs, your beliefs, everyone's beliefs included. Inquiry isn't disrespect. Even if it was, do it anyway. Learn what you can, dismiss what's wrong. Yeah.
IMO religious belief can't really be debated. "Clearly, if you're so sure of your beliefs, you should have some sort of evidence/decent reasoning to hold them, right?" Some people would disagree with this statement. It seems to me that religious belief isn't reasoned based on anything else, it is just accepted on faith. Why is it you think that there should be evidence/reasoning involved? Are all your moral beliefs based on evidence/logic? This is what I was trying to get at it with my question about faith. Also, I think you are (probably unintentionally) presenting this is a false dichotomy. I don't see the big deal with having strong beliefs in god yet not going to church. Religion is a personal matter so why should churchgoing be necessary?

Inquiry can be disrespectful if somebody keeps their beliefs to themselves and doesn't want to discuss it. And if they do want to discuss it, you should still keep it civil and try not offend unless it is unavoidable. If you can make your point without upsetting people then why not do that? Politeness costs nothing.

Your opinion regarding moderate Christians (that they are hypocrites) is interesting. I think that this is not necessarily true providing that they don't point to the bible as a source of undeniable truth, but instead use it more as a source of inspiration for how to live their lives. In that case, just because some of it is stupid, doesn't mean it's all bad (poisoning the well).

Also I would like to point out that the religious can be very smart people, even the nutjobs! Intelligence and critical thinking are completely separate things. For example, it is very common to do things like only accept evidence supports your assumptions and ignore stuff that contradicts your assumptions (confirmation bias), even amongst scientists which should know better. This is why there is all sorts of pseudoscience like homeopathy which is rejected by the scientific community. This kind of dodgy thinking is not at all limited to religious fundamentalists - I've witnessed it first hand with someone who completely rejected organised religion, but believed some new age nonsense about "energy" that made my head explode. I personally think that if people were better educated about logical fallacies and how to make sound arguments, then stuff like young earth creationism would be less widespread than it is now. I don't think religion itself is the problem in this case.
Yannick
QUOTE (oxym0ronical @ May 8 2009, 02:23 AM) *
2. I don't debate because there's no point for me.

It doesn't necessarily have to be about you. I know debates between atheists and theists rarely accomplish anything for those two people, but that doesn't mean it won't have any effect for agnostics/uninformed people reading the thread. Honestly, and I don't mean this in a bad way, but I think your reluctance to debates stems from the fact that you know faith just isn't really a valid point.

QUOTE
I'm not the type to try to convert a person to my beliefs because I can't stand it when someone does the same to me.

Debates don't have to involve converting. It's arguing views, where people are allowed to leave and continue believing in whatever nonsense at any time.

QUOTE
Give me information, give me facts, give me education, and I am generally fine with that.

Well, what else did you expect? Main problem with your god is probably that there's no way to distinguish him from an(other) imaginary one. The only reason we can't actually disprove him completely is the same reason no one can prove I don't have a monster living under my bed with the same traits. You can't sense him, but I promise if you devout your life to him, he won't eat you when you die! Do you deny evolution and a 4.5 billion year old earth? I really can't see that from you. The most common response to those would probably be something about the length of a day to God. The only response I can think of would probably be that the Bible says that God created man, and doesn't mention us evolving from apes at all, and fairly important point that was 'left out'. And then there's the bit about women being made from Adam's rib. That completely disregards evolution, and we have just as much evidence that women evolved from apes the same way men did. Also, what's up with constantly changing the bits of the Bible that the church decides are humane enough to follow? I don't remember some supreme deity ever making it clear that he wanted his rules changed. Why are you online replying to this instead of, I dunno, stoning heretics/homosexuals/etc. Oh, what about omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, etc.? Victor Stenger lists some interesting philosophical disproof for God, or at least something meaning his traits would be completely different from how we think of them.

An All-Virtuous Being Cannot Exist
1. God is (by definition) a being than which no greater being can be thought.
2. Greatness includes the greatness of virtue.
3. Therefore, God is a being than which no being could be more virtuous.
4. But virtue involves overcoming pains and danger.
5. Indeed, a being can only be properly said to be virtuous if it can suffer pain or be destroyed.
6. A God that can suffer pain or is destructible is not one than which no grater being can be thought.
7. For you can thinking of a greater being, one that is nonsuffering and indestructible.
8. Therefore, God does not exist.

A Transcendent Being Cannot Be Omnipresent
1. If God exists, then he is transcendent (i.e., outside space and time).
2. If God exists, he is omnipresent.
3. To be transcendent, a being cannot exist anywhere in space.
4. To be omnipresent, a being must exist everywhere in space.
5. Hence it is impossible for a transcendent being to be omnipresent.
6. Therefore, it is impossible for God to exist.

The Paradox of Omnipotence
1. Either God can create a stone that he cannot life, or he cannot create a stone that he cannot lift.
2. If God can create a stone that he cannot lift, then he is not omnipotent.
3. If God cannot create a stone that he cannot life, then he is not omnipotent.
4. Therefore, God is not omnipotent.

That, plus more, with no evidence (by all means, if you have any, bring it forth) for a creator whatsoever is generally a good way to make people doubt, or at least question, what they believe. I'm sorry, but scientific ignorance is no justification for "God did it." Have you heard of Occam's razor? Basically, it says that the simplest thing isn't always, but usually true. Clearly, all of everything arising naturally makes a lot more sense than some uber complex God always being here. We might not know how the Big Bang started yet, but that doesn't mean we won't. Again, not knowing is no reason to assume God did it.



QUOTE
But don't disregard my beliefs just because they're not the same as your own, and don't continue to try to convince me I am wrong.

Bah, should have probably read the second half of that sentence before typing all of that. ^ Meh, you said you're generally okay with information and stuff, there you go. I don't ignore your beliefs because I don't hold them. I refuse to accept them because they aren't logical.

QUOTE
I'm not trying to change how you feel, and you won't be able to change how I feel.

True, but that doesn't mean neither of us can have some sort of (hopefully positive) affect (..effect?) on other people reading this thread.

QUOTE
Faith is something you either have or you don't. Faith isn't about evidence or "decent reasoning", which is highly subjective anyhow.

Why would you have complete trust or confidence in your God, but not, say, the monster under my bed, or other gods from other religions? It all has to do with random chance of birth. Also, decent reasoning isn't really that subjective. I'll regard any facts as decent reasoning. The Bible won't suffice, as it's proof of God no more than Harry Potter is of wizardry.


(continued below)
Yannick
QUOTE
Something I find to be "decent reasoning" is something you'll probably feel is rubbish, and that's okay because that's what makes the world interesting. How incredibly boring would it be if we all believed the same thing? Many of my friends are atheist or agnostic, and I can honestly say it has never created a problem.

... So you're against everyone believing the same thing because it would bore you? Oh man, how incredibly boring is it that everyone believes 2 + 2 = 4? I think I'm going to say it equals 'fish' from now on. Different belief. Completely silly.

QUOTE
3. I don't think I said it very clearly so let me try again.

Go for it.
QUOTE
By not questioning your reasoning, I mean I will accept that whatever reasons you have work for you.

But why?! I was on another forum where this one person had serious hallucinating problems that she failed to realize were hallucinations. There were two fairly lengthy topics discussing it (the second more relevant). Basically, she sees and confides in fairies and gnomes and dragons and shit. ...Which we can agree on aren't real. I, and a few others, suggested she was mental and needed help. Though I accept that she believes in that bull, umm, that's not really a good thing. Feel free to read through those threads btw. There's some good posts about why fairy-tale creatures are illogical, which can certainly apply to God too.


QUOTE
That doesn't mean I will agree, but that means that I am not going to continue hounding you until I get a reason that I can accept. What's wrong for me isn't necessarily wrong for you, or whomever happens to be on the other end of it. So yes, definitely learn what you can, and it doesn't even hurt to question people and ask why they feel the way they do, but it's a matter of how you do it, and how you handle it when you get an answer that you don't agree with.

Uh-huh.

QUOTE
For an overly simplified example.. say you like mushrooms. I can't stand mushrooms. I don't like the taste, the texture, etc. When you ask me why I don't like mushrooms, I can say all of the above and my answers will not be answers that are acceptable to you, because you like the taste and texture. That's fine and dandy. Then we both chalk it up to a difference of opinion and move along, because neither of us is right and neither of us is wrong.

Umm, but with this God stuff one of us is right and one of us is wrong. It's not like we're arguing about the existence of mushrooms. God either exists or doesn't. If we were talking about whether or not God was a nice dude, then that would apply.

Mat and Candice get replies later.
oxym0ronical
I'm at work so this will be fairly brief.

QUOTE
Honestly, and I don't mean this in a bad way, but I think your reluctance to debates stems from the fact that you know faith just isn't really a valid point.


No, my reluctance stems from the fact that no matter what I say, my point won't be valid to you. You will argue every point I make, just as I would if I chose to actively debate it with you. And, there's absolutely nothing wrong with debate as long as it stays just that - but once it turns into name calling, finger pointing, etc, it's no longer fun and it's no longer beneficial.

I will once again say that I don't have to prove God exists. Those who believe in God will believe in God because part of that faith means trusting that he does exist. One of the definitions of faith is, and I quote, "belief that is not based on proof". I believe in God not because it's something I'm told I "should" believe in, not because of the bible says I have to, etc. I believe in God because of events that have happened in my life. I don't believe everything the bible says, and I think it's important to take it with a grain of salt because, after all, it was written by a human and as we all know, humans make mistakes. Humans embellish facts, and they forget important details. So just because I believe in God doesn't mean I believe the bible is 100% correct, or that people all have to live their lives the same way.

QUOTE
... So you're against everyone believing the same thing because it would bore you? Oh man, how incredibly boring is it that everyone believes 2 + 2 = 4? I think I'm going to say it equals 'fish' from now on. Different belief. Completely silly.


You're right, that is completely silly! I'm not arguing facts here. I'm arguing beliefs. With beliefs, there are no right or wrong answers. With equations, there are.

QUOTE
Umm, but with this God stuff one of us is right and one of us is wrong. It's not like we're arguing about the existence of mushrooms. God either exists or doesn't. If we were talking about whether or not God was a nice dude, then that would apply.


It's not that cut and dry. For you, no, he doesn't exist. For others, he most certainly does. That's something we will have to agree to disagree on.

That's the basis of this thread. Should people respect others who hold different religious beliefs? And, my answer to that remains the same. Yes! Not even because of or despite religion, but because at the core of it all, I will respect others because I want respect in return. I will treat others the way I want to be treated, and I think no matter what religious beliefs people hold, that basic rule of life is fitting.
voices_in_my_head
Okay, I've got a few spare minutes and thought I'd just jump in with a quick point:

Religion is based off of one thing and one thing only: faith. You either have it, or you don't. That's just about the only black-and-white thing in religion.
You can spend hours trying you make those with faith loose it, or vice versa: but the fact is, it's not something you can magically stomp out/produce in a person.

To me, you might as well tell someone to change the color of their eyes/skin/gender/body. While it might be technically possible, it's not something just anyone would be paticuarly eager to do. Only a person who was already having their doubts about their current state would willingingly undergo the "procedure"
Yannick
QUOTE (oxym0ronical @ May 8 2009, 05:29 PM) *
For you, no, he doesn't exist. For others, he most certainly does. That's something we will have to agree to disagree on.

He "exists" because people want him to/need him. That doesn't make him actually exist. I just don't see why if something terrible happens to someone, instead of dealing with it, they cry to imaginary friends. Honestly a bit childish.

*shrugs* It's none of my business what happened to you for you to revert back to theism. But if it's something like... bad.. then I'm sorry, and that sucks majorly, but believing in a god isn't going to change anything.

I could be totally off here. I dunno, I should probably shut up because I've been a loser enough in this thread. But.. I'm not convinced you believe. I just think you want to.. unsure.gif

/shutting up now
Pikasyuu
1. How do you think religion is treated in society? Do you think that we should be respectful to people of all religions? To what degree?
In an ideal world, I'd say people were intelligent enough to realize that pointing at somebody else and trying to make them feel stupid for thinking what they're thinking is more or less counter productive, but I'd be super totally awesomely wrong. The majority of society, from what I've noticed lately, has their own opinions and automatically assumes anybody with a different opinion is foaming at the mouth idiotic and therefore trying to suppress them for thinking what they think. People try and cram their beliefs down another person's throat, wind up making themselves out to look attacked and persecuted, and then the other party does the exact same thing. ..And then there are people who actually manage to respectfully disagree and realize that the world will not change, and people will continue to be different. These people can carry on an actual debate without getting frustrated at the fact that the other person does not automatically 'see the light' and conform to their beliefs. It goes both ways. Basically, I think we should give the respect we get. If somebody tells me I'm going to insert place here for doing or believing insert thing here, I will tell them that I disagree. If somebody thinks that the flying spaghetti monster exists and doesn't try to convince me of the same, I have no problem with it.

2. Is religion itself a bad thing? What about faith in general (e.g. belief in the supernatural)? Are some religions better than others? Should a religion be held to blame for actions which are committed by their followers in the name of the religion? What if those followers are in the minority?
Religion is a bad thing when it is used as propaganda to attack another human being, whether it be physically, verbally, or in any suppression of their rights. No, no religion is superior to another. Minorities and majorities are constantly fluctuating.

3. Do you think it's ok that people base their lives around something that may not be true (religion) providing it brings them happiness? Is faith a good thing?
What somebody else does in their home, provided it doesn't actually harm another person, is none of my business.

Also, question, Izzy -
Do you ask people about their religion because if somebody provides you with something plausible, you would listen? I doubt that and fail to see the point, because you obviously think that that will never and could never happen ever, so it looks a lot like you start religious debates with people purely for the opportunity to call somebody an idiot and tell them how idiotic they are. You and I both know that it wont change their minds.

(I'm about to read through the rest of this thread and will edit if this has already been answered.)
Yannick
Dude if someone provides me with the vaguest evidence for a god, I would listen. If I have even the faintest suspicion that I might be wrong about this, I'll look into it. Hell doesn't sound fun. Though, the reason I'm so sure about my (lack of) belief is because I've been doing this for a while, and no one has been able to come up with anything that couldn't be proven wrong or wasn't the faith factor. Just because I'm convinced it will never happen, doesn't mean I can't be wrong. I mean, still category 7 atheist because I know I'm not wrong, but that doesn't mean I don't look forward someone's attempt at good justifications for their beliefs.

Also, hedonist. I enjoy these types of debates. *shrugs*
Pikasyuu
Huh. I do get the impression, though, that you enter into these debates believing nobody will be able to prove you wrong, purely so that you can rub it in their face in an attempt to either make them look or feel stupid. You know that a large part of faith itself is that it cannot be physically proven, and yet you repeatedly tell these people to 'prove it', know that they cannot, and then refer to them as idiots whether it happens to be in your own head or to their faces. I don't think any part of you believes that they will change, especially since it seems like this 'debate' goes, 'You believe in God?' 'Yes.' 'Prove it.' 'I can't.' 'Moron.' So, again, what does either party accomplish?

Also, do you realize that you're doing what a lot of atheists have a huge problem with theists doing? The number one complaint I hear from atheists about theists is, 'They're cramming their beliefs down my throat and condemning me for not agreeing with them.' This does go both ways.
mooooooooooopo
1. How do you think religion is treated in society? Do you think that we should be respectful to people of all religions? To what degree?
In some ways there seems to be a double standard. Religions often claim they are discriminated against for broadcasting their views one minute and then get riled up when atheists claim the same right to their own opinion.

To an extent, yes. Specifically, to the extent which they themselves are willing to tolerate other people's beliefs.

The one issue with this is government. Government officials should keep their beliefs out of their decision making. This is difficult to acheive and electing the more extreme atheists would be just as bad. Not sure how you solve that problem.

2. Is religion itself a bad thing? What about faith in general (e.g. belief in the supernatural)? Are some religions better than others? Should a religion be held to blame for actions which are committed by their followers in the name of the religion? What if those followers are in the minority?

In itself no. It can give people beliefs that help them to cope with life or just give them an incentive to follow a moral code. Admittedly the specifics of most modern religions are outdated now but in general the rules still match up with society. On the other hand, having the fear of god/hell/whatever can mess people up. If they are brought up religious and stick with that religion's beliefs then they will probably be happy with it and it will do them little harm. Depending on how deeply held those beliefs are they could have difficult times when encountering situations or evidence that changes those beliefs.

Regarding religions being blamed for the actions of their followers: there will always be a minority of people who will be looking for something to use as an excuse for their actions. In that case I don't think the religion is to blame unless they specifically encourage their followers to take those particular actions.

3. Do you think it's ok that people base their lives around something that may not be true (religion) providing it brings them happiness? Is faith a good thing?

As I mentioned above, if it makes them happy and does them no harm then they can believe what they please in my opinion so long as they don't try and force those beliefs onto others.

Izzy:
I think you're giving atheists a bad name. I don't believe in god(s) and have seen little proof that a god exists, but if people want to believe that and it makes them happy it's fine by me. There's a line, however: pushing their religion on others is just over it, persecuting people for having different beliefs is way over on the horizon. As syuu said in the last post you're somewhere over that line yourself.

QUOTE (Yannick @ May 8 2009, 03:50 PM) *
An All-Virtuous Being Cannot Exist
1. God is (by definition) a being than which no greater being can be thought.
2. Greatness includes the greatness of virtue.
3. Therefore, God is a being than which no being could be more virtuous.
4. But virtue involves overcoming pains and danger.
5. Indeed, a being can only be properly said to be virtuous if it can suffer pain or be destroyed.
6. A God that can suffer pain or is destructible is not one than which no grater being can be thought.
7. For you can thinking of a greater being, one that is nonsuffering and indestructible.
8. Therefore, God does not exist.

A Transcendent Being Cannot Be Omnipresent
1. If God exists, then he is transcendent (i.e., outside space and time).
2. If God exists, he is omnipresent.
3. To be transcendent, a being cannot exist anywhere in space.
4. To be omnipresent, a being must exist everywhere in space.
5. Hence it is impossible for a transcendent being to be omnipresent.
6. Therefore, it is impossible for God to exist.

The Paradox of Omnipotence
1. Either God can create a stone that he cannot life, or he cannot create a stone that he cannot lift.
2. If God can create a stone that he cannot lift, then he is not omnipotent.
3. If God cannot create a stone that he cannot life, then he is not omnipotent.
4. Therefore, God is not omnipotent.

Okay, you've used logical proofs to disprove god, that's all well and good. It's not, however, what I understood as the point of the thread. The point seems to be how society treats religion and whether something positive can come out of religious beliefs even if they are completely false. You might also want to stop and think before using those arguments since you've made a few logical fallacies yourself. You've specifically used straw man arguments, ignored the posts you don't want to argue against or have an argument against, confused cause and effect (re: percentage of Christians in US prisons) and fell into the spotlight fallacy (since you seem to focus so hard on the loud idiots who are the very tip of the theist iceberg).
Yannick
Syuu, I don't really think most people enter a debate expecting to lose. If I do debate, I definitely have my opinions formed beforehand, and question them myself before someone comes up with something I'm not prepared to answer. The theist-atheist debate being one done thousands of times before online, I'm prepared for most things. That said, I'm not going to know before debating with someone if they're capable of coming up with some new, possibly swaying argument. My 'debate' isn't just "prove it" (though the proof is ultimately the responsibility of the believer). I've posted a few reasons why religion, specifically Christianity, just isn't right. God is a paradox. Evolution, generally, goes against the Bible. The Earth is more than 6000 years old. There has been absolutely no evidence for God. Life could have arisen just as it is now with or without a God. Et cetera. The faith 'argument' annoys me because it isn't an argument at all. Replace "God" with any mythical creature of your choice, and suddenly it's less offensive, and people will start agreeing. Also, it's more like: 'You believe in the bogey man?' 'Yes.' 'Prove it.' 'I can't.' 'So then why do you believe?' 'Because I have faith.' 'Yeah, but why?' 'Because I just do.' 'Moron.'

Yeah, but at least atheists can justify their beliefs. I'd rather have someone shoving science down my throat than nonsense.
mooooooooooopo
QUOTE (Yannick @ May 9 2009, 01:32 AM) *
The faith 'argument' annoys me because it isn't an argument at all. Replace "God" with any mythical creature of your choice, and suddenly it's less offensive, and people will start agreeing. Also, it's more like: 'You believe in the bogey man?' 'Yes.' 'Prove it.' 'I can't.' 'So then why do you believe?' 'Because I have faith.' 'Yeah, but why?' 'Because I just do.' 'Moron.'

Belief in the bogey man is unlikely to improve anyone's life.

In some circumstances belief in a deity can have a positive effect on a person's life, even if it just encourages them to be more charitable. That's the crux of the argument really, not whether they can prove their belief is true. It's also the thing that prevents 'bogey man' being a valid substitution for 'god' in your argument.
Pikasyuu
QUOTE
Syuu, I don't really think most people enter a debate expecting to lose. If I do debate, I definitely have my opinions formed beforehand, and question them myself before someone comes up with something I'm not prepared to answer. The theist-atheist debate being one done thousands of times before online, I'm prepared for most things.


No, most people enter debates in order to learn something and contribute something in turn - I don't see that happening at all in what you've shared. Again, if you assume all theists are morons, you cannot possibly convince me that you honestly think you'll learn something from them. I also have a hard time believing you question yourself religiously, as in other posts, you've been so adamant that you are right and others are wrong.

QUOTE
That said, I'm not going to know before debating with someone if they're capable of coming up with some new, possibly swaying argument. My 'debate' isn't just "prove it" (though the proof is ultimately the responsibility of the believer). I've posted a few reasons why religion, specifically Christianity, just isn't right. God is a paradox. Evolution, generally, goes against the Bible. The Earth is more than 6000 years old. There has been absolutely no evidence for God. Life could have arisen just as it is now with or without a God. Et cetera. The faith 'argument' annoys me because it isn't an argument at all. Replace "God" with any mythical creature of your choice, and suddenly it's less offensive, and people will start agreeing. Also, it's more like: 'You believe in the bogey man?' 'Yes.' 'Prove it.' 'I can't.' 'So then why do you believe?' 'Because I have faith.' 'Yeah, but why?' 'Because I just do.' 'Moron.'


Again, you try and prove that your argument is airtight, and then get upset at the faith argument people use..to..defend..faith. I'm still not unconvinced that you start this with theists purely to tell them that they are wrong, because you have made it completely clear that, in your mind, there is absolutely no way for you to be incorrect.
Phyllis
Faith isn't something you have just "because." No one is going to believe a word of any religious text unless it touches them personally -- unless it makes them feel something. I think that faith is more like an emotion than a logical thought process. As I said before, it's a bit like love. You can't control it or seek it out, and you can't learn what it feels like by reading about it. It's also pretty dang hard to control with logic. I mean, who doesn't know at least one person who has loved someone they really shouldn't? Someone who treats them like crap and gives them no reason to stick around. It's also pretty difficult to explain the feeling of either love or faith to someone who has never experienced it, which is probably why many people respond to your question of why they have faith with "Because I do."

A lot of people talk about feeling a divine presence when they pray. They also talk about feeling like a friend or relative who has passed away is watching over them. Some even claim to have mystical experiences -- ie: God speaks to them. There's probably some very reasonable psychological explanation for all of that stuff, of course. But explaining the chemical processes behind an intense feeling doesn't make that feeling any less meaningful for the person who has experienced it.

I don't want to dogpile on you, Izzy, but you seem quite a bit more pre-occupied with religion than many religious people I know! Maybe that's just because I have you friended on Facebook, though, so I see your opinions repeated there as well. I mean, you did a quiz on the Seven Deadly Sins just to say "More religious nonsense." What exactly did you expect from a quiz with that title? tongue.gif A result saying "You have sinned a lot, but it's okay because God doesn't exist! Hooray! Atheists rule!"? I have to say that it kind of does come across like you're trying to start debates just to put people down.
believe
Faith is not something scientific. I've generally found it's a waste to try to pretend it is. I believe in my faith for a variety of personal reasons. You don't have telepathy and can't get into my head and I don't expect you to take those reasons as a) science or cool.gif a reason for you to convert right now you darned heathen. If we ever talk, I do hope you will treat those personal reasons/beliefs/experiences with respect. If not, well, I'm not sure why a person of faith would debate with you in the first place. Respect and thinking someone is an utter moron kinda contradict each other.

Anyway, I don't plan to enter a debate of faith with you. I don't desire to be converted and if I did, I could find people that thought I was semi-intelligent to do it for me. I'm glad you're happy with your atheism and I will stay over here in the happy-with-my-christianity corner.

And blame syuu for summoning me back to as the token religious person. ph34r.gif
believe
Faith isn't something you have just "because." No one is going to believe a word of any religious text unless it touches them personally -- unless it makes them feel something. I think that faith is more like an emotion than a logical thought process. As I said before, it's a bit like love. You can't control it or seek it out, and you can't learn what it feels like by reading about it. It's also pretty dang hard to control with logic. I mean, who doesn't know at least one person who has loved someone they really shouldn't? Someone who treats them like crap and gives them no reason to stick around. It's also pretty difficult to explain the feeling of either love or faith to someone who has never experienced it, which is probably why many people respond to your question of why they have faith with "Because I do."

Brilliantly said, Cand. I don't think most of us try to scientifically define love. Perhaps the hormonal/body processes around it, but love doesn't have a convenient scientific measurement and so on. Not much I can add to the awesome though. wink.gif
Yannick
moop, replace 'bogey man' with 'fairy god mother' then. It makes little difference, I'm sure my point came across.

Since I am slightly off-topic, so let's give this another try.

1. How do you think religion is treated in society? Do you think that we should be respectful to people of all religions? To what degree?
Religion is held in a way higher regard than it should be. It's almost like, mostly offline, theists are given this special privilege to not have their feelings hurt. You can't really speak your mind about religion (unless you're a theist of course!) at school, because it's an 'inappropriate' subject. 'Too personal'. Umm, dude, fuck that. The only topics that really should be avoided in school are ones that are meant to be talked about between adults exclusively. (By school, I mean actual class discussions, not just stuff you talk about during lunch.)
About respect, I will acknowledge that you have the right to believe whatever you believe, as long as you keep in mind I have the right to think/tell you whatever I want about your belief. Look, I'm not just randomly going to respect someone because they happen to be of the same species as me. Being polite is typically a good thing, but not at all necessary. Sarah Palin and Bush come to mind as good examples. If I ever meet either, it's not going to be handshaking and kind gestures, it's going to be "Oh my god, what the hell is wrong with you?". So basically, people can believe whatever they want, but that doesn't mean they should, and that doesn't mean we have to be nice to them for it. Honestly, a theist that actually tries debating will have a lot more of my respect than someone who's just like "I have faith. Now go to hell."

2. Is religion itself a bad thing? What about faith in general (e.g. belief in the supernatural)? Are some religions better than others? Should a religion be held to blame for actions which are committed by their followers in the name of the religion? What if those followers are in the minority?
[color=purple]Well. Um, yeah, it is. It can start harmless, kind of like belief in Santa, but it can get totally carried away. While Santa is all good fun, God(s) is a very serious thing. People DEVOUT THEIR LIVES TO SOMETHING THAT ISN'T REAL. (!!!!!). Am I seriously the only one that feels like screaming because of this? GOD IS MAKE BELIEVE, and PEOPLE ARE WORSHIPPING something unreal. Does that not scream complete and total stupidity? Let's play the imagine no religion game. How many people do you guys think have died in the name of Gawd? 9 million in the crusades. 12 million during the holocaust*. Between 9.5 and 19 million (estimates suck, 95% of the population) Native Americans because of Manifest Destiny, which Gawd made their duty. 12 million in the Muslim rebellion. 4 million in the French Wars of Religion. At least half a million in religious sacrifices. And I have no idea about Jesus-time days, but I'm sure the numbers are up there. So, that alone is a total of over 50 million people. That died, because of make-believe. I'm all for smoking and stuff being considered population control, but this is ridiculous. Think of the shit going on in the middle-east every day. I have no idea what the numbers for that is, nor have I included terrorist attacks done because of religious intentions. So yeah, religion is definitely responsible for all of that. I don't care about minorities. If it had religious implications, the religion is to blame.

*I'm aware Hitler had other reasons for doing what he did than just the mindless slaughtering of Jews. But, since Judaism is a religion, though regarded a race, if not for Judaism, or any religion, the death count would have been different.

3. Do you think it's ok that people base their lives around something that may not be true (religion) providing it brings them happiness? Is faith a good thing?
Absolutely not. There is no reason to live a life based on a lie. Make yourself happy in other ways.
mooooooooooopo
http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?GodwinsLaw
believe
Where do you live that theists get this special privilege? o_O I'm ready to move! Is there an address? A secret city? Or maybe you just live around all these polite people that feel the need to be polite. Either way, I'd like the name of this mystical city as that hasn't been my experience and I'm not particularly a loud Christian. wink.gif

Honestly, a theist that actually tries debating will have a lot more of my respect than someone who's just like "I have faith. Now go to hell."

I feel the same way about atheists. While I have met many learned and intelligent ones (some on this forum), I have met far more than resort to 'Christianity suxxorz!!!! You r stoopid.' Or attempts to convert me, which are not and will not become debate through sheer will.

So yeah, religion is definitely responsible for all of that. I don't care about minorities. If it had religious implications, the religion is to blame.

Er. So the fact that people find every possible reason to kill another person and actively use them suggests that religion is to blame? Rwanda was not about religion. Slavery was not about religion. World poverty is not about religion, typically. Nations that had religion removed on fairly large scales do not have a human rights record that suggests that this was an improvement as far as human right abuses go, at least from what I understand of the Khmer Rouge, Communist China, the former Soviet Union et all. Another example: We are moving away from religion on a large scale in many places, as hinted at in the recent Newsweek article. If religion in fact causes a lot of our bad and murderous behavior, why is that behavior not improving with the decrease in religion? People kill each other over patriotism, being female/male, being born, money, poverty, race, drugs, looking at someone sideways, etc, etc. In those cases, is patriotism or money therefore responsible? If race is involved in a murder, is it responsible? Personally, I thought insane, homocidal maniacs killed because of insanity, homocidal impulses or some combination of the two plus a desire for power and control. But! Now I know I can be traced to religion. Thank you for clarifying.

Absolutely not. There is no reason to live a life based on a lie. Make yourself happy in other ways.

I like my lie and it's working very well for me, but thank you for the concern. happy.gif
believe
QUOTE (moop @ May 8 2009, 05:54 PM) *


Moop, you are my hero. <3
Yannick
Syuu, why should my intentions even matter? My opinion is going to remain how it is, unless someone comes up with something to prove me wrong. I await that moment. It's not spontaneously going to pop-up, it'll come through discussions if it comes at all.

Candice, that sort of reminds me of hearing that one thing on the news ages ago when a church in Texas (right? Bible belt somewhere, near Mexico) wanted to have permission to use DMT (fairly sure it was DMT. Definitely a hallucinogenic) when in church so they could 'feel' God. I'm all for people using drugs for recreation anyway, but that made me laugh. Yeah, you can totally see gods while trippin', but that sooo does not make them real. Anyway, that was unrelated.

Regarding the quiz, I was surprised that 'pride' is a sin. I mean, lust or greed etc. I can understand, but pride? (Haha, just looked it up on Wikipedia, and apparently it's the most serious. laugh.gif )

Yeah, I do spend a fair amount of my time in these sorts of discussions. They're enjoyable, however weird that might sound.

Believe, hi. Enjoy your Christianity. Meh.
mooooooooooopo
QUOTE (Yannick @ May 9 2009, 02:49 AM) *
moop, replace 'bogey man' with 'fairy god mother' then. It makes little difference, I'm sure my point came across.

Presumably someone believing in the boogey man would just cower in fear a bit more often or something. Someone believing in a fairy god mother might have a little bit more confidence to tackle situations they normally wouldn't and help them succeed. Again I'll reiterate, not really comparable - one's positive, one negative.

QUOTE (Yannick @ May 9 2009, 02:49 AM) *
Since I am slightly off-topic, so let's give this another try.

1. How do you think religion is treated in society? Do you think that we should be respectful to people of all religions? To what degree?
Religion is held in a way higher regard than it should be. It's almost like, mostly offline, theists are given this special privilege to not have their feelings hurt. You can't really speak your mind about religion (unless you're a theist of course!) at school, because it's an 'inappropriate' subject. 'Too personal'. Umm, dude, fuck that. The only topics that really should be avoided in school are ones that are meant to be talked about between adults exclusively. (By school, I mean actual class discussions, not just stuff you talk about during lunch.)
About respect, I will acknowledge that you have the right to believe whatever you believe, as long as you keep in mind I have the right to think/tell you whatever I want about your belief. Look, I'm not just randomly going to respect someone because they happen to be of the same species as me. Being polite is typically a good thing, but not at all necessary. Sarah Palin and Bush come to mind as good examples. If I ever meet either, it's not going to be handshaking and kind gestures, it's going to be "Oh my god, what the hell is wrong with you?". So basically, people can believe whatever they want, but that doesn't mean they should, and that doesn't mean we have to be nice to them for it. Honestly, a theist that actually tries debating will have a lot more of my respect than someone who's just like "I have faith. Now go to hell."

2. Is religion itself a bad thing? What about faith in general (e.g. belief in the supernatural)? Are some religions better than others? Should a religion be held to blame for actions which are committed by their followers in the name of the religion? What if those followers are in the minority?
[color=purple]Well. Um, yeah, it is. It can start harmless, kind of like belief in Santa, but it can get totally carried away. While Santa is all good fun, God(s) is a very serious thing. People DEVOUT THEIR LIVES TO SOMETHING THAT ISN'T REAL. (!!!!!). Am I seriously the only one that feels like screaming because of this? GOD IS MAKE BELIEVE, and PEOPLE ARE WORSHIPPING something unreal. Does that not scream complete and total stupidity? Let's play the imagine no religion game. How many people do you guys think have died in the name of Gawd? 9 million in the crusades. 12 million during the holocaust*. Between 9.5 and 19 million (estimates suck, 95% of the population) Native Americans because of Manifest Destiny, which Gawd made their duty. 12 million in the Muslim rebellion. 4 million in the French Wars of Religion. At least half a million in religious sacrifices. And I have no idea about Jesus-time days, but I'm sure the numbers are up there. So, that alone is a total of over 50 million people. That died, because of make-believe. I'm all for smoking and stuff being considered population control, but this is ridiculous. Think of the shit going on in the middle-east every day. I have no idea what the numbers for that is, nor have I included terrorist attacks done because of religious intentions. So yeah, religion is definitely responsible for all of that. I don't care about minorities. If it had religious implications, the religion is to blame.

*I'm aware Hitler had other reasons for doing what he did than just the mindless slaughtering of Jews. But, since Judaism is a religion, though regarded a race, if not for Judaism, or any religion, the death count would have been different.

3. Do you think it's ok that people base their lives around something that may not be true (religion) providing it brings them happiness? Is faith a good thing?
Absolutely not. There is no reason to live a life based on a lie. Make yourself happy in other ways.

Suppose for a second (ignoring the entire rest of this thread) that you're right. What do you intend to do about it without resorting to the sort of extremism you accuse these people of?
believe
Regarding the quiz, I was surprised that 'pride' is a sin. I mean, lust or greed etc. I can understand, but pride? (Haha, just looked it up on Wikipedia, and apparently it's the most serious. laugh.gif )

You dislike Bush, but can't see how pride could be a sin? I'm not even trying to be sarcastic here, but.. I'm not following.

And thank you, I am enjoying it and expect to keep on doing so.
Pikasyuu
QUOTE
People DEVOUT THEIR LIVES TO SOMETHING THAT ISN'T REAL. (!!!!!). Am I seriously the only one that feels like screaming because of this? GOD IS MAKE BELIEVE, and PEOPLE ARE WORSHIPPING something unreal. Does that not scream complete and total stupidity?


This directly reminds me of people that freak out over the idea of two men or two women sleeping together and proceed to go absolutely nuts that it so much as exists. For the third time, just because you do not agree with something does not make it stupid, illegitimate, or wrong. I could turn it around and point out the fact that you spend so much of your time doing what seems like obsessing over something that does not directly affect you screams complete and total stupidity, but I'm a big live and let live person.

As for the argument that so many are dead over religion, agreed, very tragic. Just like every other murder in the history of existence is tragic. Then again, if an atheist murders somebody in the name of atheism, is all of atheism totally to blame for all of the bad things in history?
Pikasyuu
QUOTE
Syuu, why should my intentions even matter? My opinion is going to remain how it is, unless someone comes up with something to prove me wrong. I await that moment. It's not spontaneously going to pop-up, it'll come through discussions if it comes at all.


They matter to me, personally, because I wanted you to understand that you aren't really trying to have an intelligent debate with anybody as much as you are taking your frustrations out on them.
believe
QUOTE
Then again, if an atheist murders somebody in the name of atheism, is all of atheism totally to blame for all of the bad things in history?


No, it's religion. Homocidal impulses don't cause murder, syuu. Nor does insanity. wink.gif
Yannick
Godwin's law is a lie... ph34r.gif

Believe, yeah, mention religion in a classroom here, theists will over-react, and the teacher has to step in.

It doesn't start with 'You are stupid'. My behavior in this thread is a poor example of that. The majority of us aren't fortunate enough to be born into atheistic families, so it starts with questioning religion. (Psst, have you done that?) Then the escape. Then the debates. Then the getting sick of debates and resorting to petty insults. I'm at that step, not sure what comes next. I assume I'll get over it and go back to proper debating again? Meh.

I'm not saying religion is the only reason we kill each other. Just saying like 50 million deaths could have been avoided if not for religion. The Bible totally approved of slavery btw. Stoning homosexuals. Oppressing women. Think about Islam. Big mighty Allah made men better, gmoz, women have no rights! ...

Drugs are something you do to yourself. It's more suicide, not murder. Even if someone kills you in some gang crap because of drugs. That's a choice you made for yourself. Just saying.
Yannick
moop, I'm sure if a fairy god mother existed, that would be a pretty positive thing?

Well, we could start by educating people? Encouraging people to think for themselves? Making childhood indoctrination illegal? Have a peaceful migration to separate atheists and theists, so we don't interfere with each other? They can have all the religious wars they want while we're out of the way watching from the sidelines? I don't know. But if religion were gone, stuff would be better. It's not like churches are the only people doing good deeds. Think of all the Earth-people and humanists.

Believer, yeah, Bush is an idiot. The desire to make yourself the best you can be and loving yourself isn't. Those thoughts were unrelated anyway?

Syuu, what if I wanted to waste my life entirely and just worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster? That's stupid, because there's no point to it.

If one person murders someone as a direct result of the teachings of atheism, then yes, blame atheism. If the person just happens to be an atheist not particularly fond of Christians, and goes on a shooting rampage, you can't blame the atheism, the guy was clearly mental.
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