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Total posts: [67]
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"Religion in theory" and "religion in practice." :

Bill Maher: You were talking about Mitt Romney, who was the Mormon candidate for president, and [Al Sharpton] said, "as for the one Mormon running, those that really believe in God will defeat him anyway." Now for a guy who's tried to bring so many other people down for inappropriate statements, what do you make of that?
Christopher Hitchens: Well, don't you always love it, to see how the Christians always love one another?
- This discussion between Bill Maher and Christopher Hitchens.

So recently I was watching different Bill Maher commentaries, and apart from the above, I was also recently watching this from Real Time with Bill Maher, and it got me thinking about the differences between "Christianity in theory" and "Christianity in practice."

When it comes to something like communism, popular opinion seems content to say that communism in practice is not like it is in theory, yet when the tables are turned on popular opinion's favourite religion, Christianity, you hear more talk about "oh, that is because [x] are not true Christians" or whatever. How is that any better than people who complain that Stalin and Mao weren't "true communists?"

 2 pagad, Sun, 22nd May '11 12:30:58 PM from perfidious Albion Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Sneering Imperialist
No True Scotsman?
Typhoid and swans - it all comes from the same place.
 3 Jinren, Sun, 22nd May '11 12:35:21 PM from beyond the Wall
When it comes to something like communism, popular opinion seems content to say that communism in practice is not like it is in theory, yet when the tables are turned on popular opinion's favourite religion, Christianity, you hear more talk about "oh, that is because [x] are not true Christians" or whatever. How is that any better than people who complain that Stalin and Mao weren't "true communists?"

Is there a difference? If so I don't see it. Has somebody suggested one should be "better" than the other?

edited 22nd May '11 12:36:13 PM by Jinren

 4 honorius, Sun, 22nd May '11 12:37:28 PM from The Netherlands
There isn't.

If any question why we died/ Tell them, because our fathers lied -Rudyard Kipling
 5 Carciofus, Sun, 22nd May '11 12:38:09 PM from Alpha Tucanae I
Is that cake frosting?
(Most) religions set a very high level of ideal behavior.

I think that it is fair to say that no religious person, or an extremely limited number of them, ever managed to get very close to the ideals they claim to profess.

But this does not mean that these ideals, in itself, are worthless.

In religion, there is "do, or do not". There is try.

edited 22nd May '11 12:42:52 PM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

Well, in my case, I've seen a lot more successful instances of Christianity than I have successful instances of Communism.

In the case of Christianity, you can test things different sects do against what the Bible actually says. In the case of Communism, there's little to separate one from the next, at least for a layman like myself.
<><
[up]You can measure them against the words of Marx and Engels, I suppose.
Currently taking a break from the site. See my user page for more information.
 8 Pykrete, Sun, 22nd May '11 12:45:53 PM from Viridian Forest
NOT THE BEES
People sometimes have hubris obscuring their ideals, and you hear about the bad cases that actually piss people off instead of the more numerous good ones that don't disrupt things. Surprise.

Once more though, Christianity is nice in that you can throw their own book at the self-righteous assholes, seeing how half of what the lead role did was call out self-righteous assholes.

edited 22nd May '11 12:49:30 PM by Pykrete

 9 honorius, Sun, 22nd May '11 12:50:18 PM from The Netherlands
In the case of Christianity, you can test things different sects do against what the Bible actually says. In the case of Communism, there's little to separate one from the next, at least for a layman like myself.
Of course every Christian who has something in his beliefs system that contradicts what the bible says says he is interpreting it allegorical or metaphorical or whatever.
If any question why we died/ Tell them, because our fathers lied -Rudyard Kipling
 10 captainbrass 2, Sun, 22nd May '11 12:52:28 PM from the United Kingdom
There isn't really a difference between "no true Christian" and "no true Communist" arguments. They're both the same, and both equally logically flawed - the No True Scotsman fallacy. The real point is either case is (a) are the relevant Christians/communists living up to their ideals and (b) what do we think of those ideals anyway?
"Well, it's a lifestyle"
Recognizing that what people claim to be may not be what they really are is...rather obvious to me.

The particulars are almost unimportant.

edited 22nd May '11 12:56:39 PM by blueharp

 
 12 Carciofus, Sun, 22nd May '11 1:01:04 PM from Alpha Tucanae I
Is that cake frosting?
Recognizing that what people claim to be may not be what they really are is...rather obvious to me.
A Christian who does something wrong is not "claiming to be something that he is not".

He is a Christian, and he is imperfect. That's all.

EDIT:

Pinochet was a Christian — a deeply flawed one, definitely, but I know of no reason to think that he was insincere in his beliefs. This does not justify his actions, of course: if anything, it makes them even graver, because he really should have known better. But the point stands.

edited 22nd May '11 1:11:41 PM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

 13 Tzetze, Sun, 22nd May '11 1:26:48 PM from a converted church in Venice, Italy
DUMB
Was Al Sharpton saying that because Romney is Mormon, which is not a mainstream sect per se?
Moar and Moar and Moar
It's not so much "theory" and "practice" and so much its literalism and metaphor.

The problem is that generally most religious groups make it very unclear..even impossible to know which is which.

There's also the problem that modern Christianity does a HORRIBLE job of getting "sophisticated theology" to the masses, and as such things that are pretty much rejected by religious philosophers..such as the rapture..are embraced by many people.
Democracy is the process in which we determine the government that we deserve
The thing is - most of religious or theistic people are... well... average. None of them follow the religion to the fullest extent (and, in many cases, it would be actually pretty bad). Average religious people are average as average atheists. Both 'groups' (I use the term 'group' very losely here) also have their fair share of assholes and fair share of great people.

Also, don't get me started on communism. If the theory actually became true the way Marx described it, it would suck incredibly. In a different way than commie dictatorship but not much better
"Take your (...) hippy dream world, I'll take reality and earning my happiness with my own efforts" - Barkey
[up]x4

There is a severe difference between not being an ideal of anything, and not being what you claim to be at all. And sincerity or not isn't much of a discriminator, self-deception is all too common. You can genuinely and truly believe something even if it is utterly wrong. Wrong including both Evil Wrong and Factual Wrong.

edited 22nd May '11 1:40:33 PM by blueharp

 
Unchanging Avatar.
On a side note, although Sharpton's clearly a bigot, mainstream Mormonism is drastically different from mainstream Christianity. Much more than the Protestant/Catholic split, for example. Don't get me started on Mormon Fundamentalism.
Except for 4/1/2011. That day lingers in my memory like...metaphor here...I should go.
[up] The basis for comparison should not be how similar they are in comparison to the difference between that and nonbelief, not how similar they are to other denominational differences. And then there is the question of whether you consider the relevant differences good or bad, but then again that is subjective.

As for the comparisons to communism, it is because generally speaking "X is not a true Christian" perspective is taken more seriously than "Y is not a true communist."

 19 feotakahari, Sun, 22nd May '11 3:53:13 PM from Looking out at the city
Fuzzy Orange Doomsayer
I think the ease of linking No True Scotsman makes it overly easy to argue that something's an example of it. We do have certain definitions for words (if only those definitions found in the dictionary), and we do have the right to say that some things don't fit those definitions. At the very least, I would say that a Christian sect that rejects redemption and doesn't have a doctrinal argument for why redemption should be rejected (e.g. predestination) is heretical.

edited 22nd May '11 3:53:47 PM by feotakahari

That's Feo . . . He's a disgusting, mysoginistic, paedophilic asshat who moonlights as a shitty writer—Something Awful
There's also the problem that modern Christianity does a HORRIBLE job of getting "sophisticated theology" to the masses, and as such things that are pretty much rejected by religious philosophers..such as the rapture..are embraced by many people.

That's true. C. S. Lewis (writing 65 years ago, which makes me a bit of a hypocrite when I use this quote) remarked that "to believe in the popular religion of England today is a regression, like believing the earth is flat."
Currently taking a break from the site. See my user page for more information.
 21 De Marquis, Sun, 22nd May '11 8:02:54 PM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
OP: "When it comes to something like communism, popular opinion seems content to say that communism in practice is not like it is in theory, yet when the tables are turned on popular opinion's favourite religion, Christianity, you hear more talk about "oh, that is because [x] are not true Christians" or whatever."

I'm sorry, but you seem to be overgeneralizing. What evidence to you have that arguments along the lines of "They aren't true Christians" are more common than "They are just different"?

Saying that one is Christian is a statement of intent, not an evaluation of one's actual behavior. It's like saying you are a good person- one bad behavior, or even a series of them, doesn't invalidate the statement of good intent.

As for differences between different sects- a goodly number of ordinary Christians are willing to concede that members of other religions entirely will be allowed into heaven, and aren't doing anything wrong, may even be following their own calling- what are we going to say about members of other Christian denominations?

I don't think anyone has the right to evaluate who is or isn't a Christian. After death, there will be a much better-informed judge of that than anyone living on earth, presuming it even matters, so my advice to my fellow Christians would be to let it be.

(Cue Beatles music track)
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
 22 Lawyerdude, Sun, 22nd May '11 8:34:15 PM from my secret moon base
Citizen
The Philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote a very good essay titled, "On the common saying: this may be true in theory but it does not apply in practice" back in 1793. I think anybody who has ever uttered or heard that statement needs to read that essay.

In short, Kant believed that the phrase, "Good in theory but not in practice" was patently absurd. If a theory is good and sound, that must mean, ipso facto, that is would work in practice. If it doesn't work in practice then there are two options: either the theory is wrong, or the theory was not properly implemented or tested in the first place.

So to claim that one theory or another is "Good in theory but bad in practice" is to disregard the theory entirely. If you find yourself either advocating or rebutting an argument based on that statement, you should really examine what you mean.

I would argue that classical Marxism/Leninism are bad theories precisely because they either cannot be properly implemented, or that their implementation would not yield the results promised.

As far as "Christianity", one can't argue that it's good or bad "in theory" until you can come up with a workable definition. If it's just a system of beliefs and not behaviors, then it isn't a theory at all. If it includes a proposition for how people should behave, then tell me what it actually proposes and how it could be implemented.
What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.
There's a couple dozen. Take your pick.

 
 24 They Call Me Tomu, Sun, 22nd May '11 9:46:12 PM Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Totes Moe
Economics is good in theory but bad in practice-another great example.

 25 feotakahari, Sun, 22nd May '11 10:19:12 PM from Looking out at the city
Fuzzy Orange Doomsayer
^^^ Perhaps a more accurate phrase than "good in theory" would be "logically valid"—that is to say, it (whatever the it would be) would be true if all the stated and unstated assumptions involved in it were true. Lots of systems fail because of unstated assumptions that turn out not to apply in real life.
That's Feo . . . He's a disgusting, mysoginistic, paedophilic asshat who moonlights as a shitty writer—Something Awful
Total posts: 67
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