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Are the benefits of religion greater than the costs to society?:

Having just watched a special on religion and science, I can say with some degree of certainty that at least with the Catholics, this "they hate science" shit is nonsense. They have a Papal Observatory, and the scientists were talking about how now they could have dialogue with the Church about things like genetic engineering and actually compromise, where only a few decades ago they would have just gotten a flat "no."
The point is, Christianity's holy book asserts several things that are at odds with what science knows now. You say they make their own scientific observations; that's great; but being that these are the scientific observations of those who adhere to a holy book with many since-discredited assertions, one cannot help but think such scientific observation is being wasted on the dogmatic.
"I even like the idea of a nice man who sees me when I'm sleeping and knows when I'm awake. And that man is Barack Obama." - Bill Maher
Sooooo...all christians are dogmatic?
"You fail to grasp the basic principles of mad science. Common sense would be cheating." - Narbonic
[up] I'm saying Christianity itself is dogmatic. Individuals can be dogmatic to varying extents, and plenty of Atheists are more dogmatically-minded than plenty of Christians, but I would say overall Christianity's nature will generally tend to repel the less dogmatic.
"I even like the idea of a nice man who sees me when I'm sleeping and knows when I'm awake. And that man is Barack Obama." - Bill Maher
 154 De Marquis, Sat, 10th Dec '11 3:32:25 PM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
That's circular reasoning, although I dont think you see it. First you define Christianity as a particular dogma, then you criticize it for being dogmatic. The problem is that the first assertion is not correct. Christianity isnt a dogma, it's a relationship.
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
Moar and Moar and Moar
What does that even mean? I mean I think I know what it means, from what I hear about it, but quite frankly, my experience is that it's a very bad thing.
Democracy is the process in which we determine the government that we deserve
 156 De Marquis, Sat, 10th Dec '11 4:07:49 PM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
I'm going to quote myself from another thread: "First and foremost, Christianity IMO is a relationship, not a set of beliefs. First you have to feel the presence of Jesus in your heart ("mind" for you literalists)- everything after that is a detail."

Overall it's not complicated, although figuring out the implications in terms of an individual's life and values can be very complicated. But if you don't feel this presence yourself, then no one can really explain it to you.

edited 10th Dec '11 4:08:37 PM by DeMarquis

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
Moar and Moar and Moar
Well, I'm an ex-Christian, and I know what you're talking about. It's catharsis. Shared emotion. It's a very powerful thing, and it's a very REAL thing.

But it's a an all-too thin line between a feeling in your heart and an actual communicative, interventionist relationship with an external force. What I mean by that is that the difference between the two beliefs should be striking, but both often use the same language.

I have zero problem with the first, and a whole lot of problem with the second.
Democracy is the process in which we determine the government that we deserve
 158 The Earth Sheep, Sat, 10th Dec '11 4:29:02 PM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
Karmakin: "Hey, I don't believe the same thing that you do! By the way, that thing you believe, it's wrong, and I know it because I believe something else."
Still Sheepin'
Moar and Moar and Moar
Well, I think it's wrong not because it's incorrect, but because the moral/ethical results of said belief tend to be negative on the whole. (Substantially so if you ask me)

And yes. It's so bad that I think that non-materialistic religious beliefs are fine because it's just another way of satisfying a base need that most of us have. /sarcasm.

edited 10th Dec '11 4:41:22 PM by Karmakin

Democracy is the process in which we determine the government that we deserve
 160 The Earth Sheep, Sat, 10th Dec '11 4:40:30 PM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
[up] Such as?
Still Sheepin'
Moar and Moar and Moar
Such as double-predeterminism (neo-calvinism). The belief that if there's an interventionist deity, if bad things happen, then the people that bad things happened to deserve it. And if good things happen, then those people deserved that. And it's all based on religious faith.

It really started to spread in the mid-90's or so, but it's really peaking right now.

As I've said earlier in this thread. I think that overt religious materialism is a relatively modern trend.
Democracy is the process in which we determine the government that we deserve
Except only assholes believe that, and the story of Job is a deconstruction of that.

Things that being Christian doesn't mean:
  • Believing that non-christians are worse than christians
  • Believing that atheists and agnostics have no morals
  • Believing that bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people
  • Believing that christians are more important than non-christians
  • Believing that everyone else is going to Hell, and in fact SHOULD go to Hell.

SOME Christians believe these things. Some Christians believe that these are good things to be believe. I call such people arrogant assholes. Similar beliefs are also shared by assholes who are not christians, and I believe such is equally harmful. Now, one can argue that it's a bad thing for a culture to be as honestly steeped in christian conservatism as America is, and I'd agree. It's WRONG that people should have claimed Obama was muslim as if that'd make him a worse person or president. It's WRONG that one of the most famous Fox News reporters publically said another newsman was going to hell for mocking the ridiculous 'War on Christmas' bullshit. It's WRONG that both of those things are seen as socially acceptable, when in fact they're horrifying and sickening. What is NOT inherently wrong is being a christian.

edited 10th Dec '11 5:06:38 PM by Katrika

"You fail to grasp the basic principles of mad science. Common sense would be cheating." - Narbonic
 163 De Marquis, Sat, 10th Dec '11 5:19:20 PM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
While I want to be sensitive to your experiences, Karm, some of the things you've just said are factually incorrect, and others do not make sense. For instance, I never said anything about an interventionist deity. For another, a responsible Christian understands that other people also have their own relationship with God, even if it differs from ours, and no one's relationship is priviliged. That is, being close to God doesnt give you any type of moral superiority to anyone. If you think it does, thats a false relationship.
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
Moar and Moar and Moar
I agree entirely with both of you. However, there are millions and millions out there that would disagree with you very strongly.

Which goes back to the question...what the hell can we do about that? What can be done to change that, or to nullify the power and influence that they have?

And for what it's worth, I know yous said absolutely nothing about you believing in an interventionist deity. For what it's worth, when most people tell me they're religion I assume that it's a metaphorical belief before given evidence differently. (But that's because I'm a nice person:p) What I'm saying is that some of the language used by metaphorical-based religious groups could be often seen as a promotion of literalistic views, which I think is very problematic.

I know you're frustrated that Liberal/Progressive Christians seem to get crapped on, and I really do think that's bad. I just think that your organizations need to get more active in counter-acting literalistic viewpoints.

edited 10th Dec '11 5:54:47 PM by Karmakin

Democracy is the process in which we determine the government that we deserve
I agree. As for what I personal do to stop the kind of stuff you're talking about? I try to call people out on it, from a christian standpoint. You know, Jesus had some choice words to say to this group of people who were using faith to promote political agendas. I believe they were called Pharisees...?

=P
"You fail to grasp the basic principles of mad science. Common sense would be cheating." - Narbonic
Moar and Moar and Moar
Yeah that was the "Royal You", of course. I mostly mean what can large institutions do to change things. Launch advertising campaigns, informational sessions, write-in campaigns (for example, against materialistic/literalistic depictions of deities), honest outreach campaigns, more outright support for secular groups, changes to language/themes/focuses of sermons and other services, etc.

While I do think that a non-literalistic Po V is a large portion of religious believers, I do not think the above changes will get very much traction among religious institutions for a variety of reasons.
Democracy is the process in which we determine the government that we deserve
 167 De Marquis, Sat, 10th Dec '11 6:30:59 PM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
You cant change how people feel, or what they believe. You have to let them be what they are. You dont even have a right to try (that's why I'm not evangelical). You can, and should, influence how people behave in ways that affect other people. Fortunately there is strong evidence that persuading people to behave differently eventually changes their beliefs and values. That's why forcing people to stop smoking in public places changed how mainstream society views smoking, and other unhealthy lifestyle choices. The experience of working together toward a common goal has been shown to overcome inter-group differences. As a general rule, although there are exceptions, only the government has this power. I can find links if you want them.

But in general, SOB's will be SOB's.

edited 10th Dec '11 6:32:01 PM by DeMarquis

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
Moar and Moar and Moar
I think the difference is between a passive approach and an aggressive approach. I don't think an aggressive approach works. Ever. But I also don't think that letting people know either that there's non-believer communities they can join or for a religious group to make their metaphorical/non-materialistic more out there, just as a hey, you don't have to believe in a literal deity to join us type thing.

Positive forms of social reinforcement rather than negative ones. That's a core difference I think.
Democracy is the process in which we determine the government that we deserve
 169 De Marquis, Sat, 10th Dec '11 8:02:58 PM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Just to be clear, the Deity is literal, it's the Bible (or any other source of religious authority on Earth) that isnt. But, ok, I can get behind that. You have any ideas what such a community would look like?
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
 170 The Earth Sheep, Sat, 10th Dec '11 8:16:47 PM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
You don't get to decide whose beliefs are worse than yours. You just don't.

That being said, however, that kind of thinking is outright nonsense from a biblical perspective. For example, the parable of the good Samaritan. Story about helping those in need? NO. (Edit: Fine, ish. But not to as great an extent as it's portrayed, and that's not the point.)

It's supposed to be about helping people, even if they are ostensibly "worse" than you. A Jew helping a Samaritan at the time would be the equivalent of a militant Pakistani Muslim helping a Indian Hindu today (note the militant, I am fully aware that not all Muslims hate Hindus). It really ties in with the whole "love your enemy" business. It means to help everyone, regardless of race or religion. A lot of people tend to overlook that part, especially those who are in the process of decrying other people based on race, religion or sexuality.

Another relevant bit is Paul's vision of the unclean animals, representing the Gentiles he was supposed to teach.

edited 10th Dec '11 8:17:34 PM by TheEarthSheep

Still Sheepin'
 171 USAF713, Sat, 10th Dec '11 8:21:49 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
I don't know about that. The Good Samaritan story was taught to me as a story about how you can be as orderly and "lawful" according to the Bible all you like, but if you don't do actual kindness it won't matter to God. Such is why they show all those "good" people, as society at that point would have thought, going past the poor bastard, but then the "bad" person stopping to help.

It may very well be a combination of all those ideas, though...
I am now known as Flyboy.
Moar and Moar and Moar
[up][up][up]Unitarian Universalists? UU's are the best existing example of what I'm talking about.

[up][up]It's definitely a point of contention. Some people believe beliefs don't matter, that they're excuses (either positive or negative..think of someone trying to justify their charity) to do things we would otherwise do, and other people (myself included) would disagree. Now it's not a blanket disagreement. I do think that there are various beliefs that probably don't matter. For example, the belief in UFO's I don't think actually doesn't matter that much in the real world.

Now, you're putting "beliefs" in a really small box, where you're JUST talking about things that we can not observe, and I think that's what you mean, to be honest, (The alternative is to say that you can't criticize somebodies racist or sexist beliefs, etc.) I don't think those should be criticized without good reason. It's just that those beliefs have a nasty habit of sneaking of that little box.

edited 10th Dec '11 8:35:53 PM by Karmakin

Democracy is the process in which we determine the government that we deserve
 173 The Earth Sheep, Sat, 10th Dec '11 9:02:14 PM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
[up][up] Well, that is a theme, as I said, but the actual point of the story was that help should be given to all, even if you disagree with them politically (and by extension, religiously/socially/economically/etc). If that wasn't at least meant to be a point, than Jesus wouldn't have used a Samaritan as the example, He would just have said "some guy".

[up] I didn't say you can't criticize a belief, the entire point of my last post was a criticism of a belief. I said you couldn't decide that someone's beliefs are worse than yours. You can't just say, "You're a moron for believing this, so you're not a logical human being just like me." That's an ad hominem fallacy at its finest. Everyone believes in their beliefs just as strongly and (from their perspective) logically as you. You have to argue on their terms in order to show them what you think is a better way of thinking. Note how I used biblical evidence in my previous post to refute that claim, instead of talking about its social ramifications in general. That was intentional. Edit: Also note that I try not to cite the Bible in a theological discussion with an atheist, unless we're explicitly arguing on Christian terms. This is also intentional, as I believe it's the best way to discuss the topic. Even though I disagree with atheists, I still attempt to debate on their terms, so we have a logical jumping-off point.

Edit2: Looking back, this sounds really egotistical and pretentious. I didn't mean it to, honest.

edited 10th Dec '11 9:04:13 PM by TheEarthSheep

Still Sheepin'
 174 Fighteer, Sat, 10th Dec '11 9:02:56 PM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Belief, huh? There's a great subject, and a very broad one. In the most general sense, every aspect of human cognition is based around beliefs, from the mundane to the extravagant. I believe that the thing in front of me is an apple, and I believe that it will taste a certain way. I believe that going to work earns me a paycheck. You may believe that if you pray and live your life according to certain tenets, you will go to Heaven after you die.

The human experience is encompassed by the formulation of beliefs and testing them against reality to determine which work. My five year old son believes in Santa and quite probably Dora and Ezio Auditore (yes, I'm a bad parent, shoot me). Those are real beliefs, although the things that are believed in may not be.

The only things, to me, that distinguish the validity of one belief over another, are (a) their applicability to real life; (b) their ability to be falsified.

If I believe that the sun rises in the morning, that's pretty easy to test. If I believe that I can make a bus not hit me with the psychic power of my mind, that's also easy to test, although there are slightly worse consequences for being wrong.

When it comes to belief in things like Gods, Divine Law, and the like, the problem becomes evident: there's no way to test them against reality. I can't know if my belief is sane or not. I seek affirmation of my belief via the approval of my peers, which inherently leads to a kind of groupthink that is nearly impossible to debate.

To take a relevant modern example, if someone opposes gay marriage on biological or sociological grounds, I expect that I could take that belief and apply scientific procedures to (in)validate it. If someone opposes gay marriage on the grounds that it's a sin against God, how do I argue it? There's no way to prove or disprove such an belief, while at the same time it is reinforced not by investigation of fact but by one's social identity. Change your belief and suddenly you no longer belong.

This is why I think that religious beliefs are dangerous — not because they are inherently more right or wrong than any others, but because they are not subject to the normal vetting processes that helps us tell reality from fantasy.

edited 10th Dec '11 9:05:47 PM by Fighteer

Ironically, the pursuit of the definition of happiness does not appear to be a happiness-maximizing behavior.
 175 The Earth Sheep, Sat, 10th Dec '11 9:07:43 PM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
[up] This is exactly the point I was trying to make. I know that Fighteer isn't a Christian, and thus doesn't believe in the Bible. From this, I know that, in order to get him to change in any way, I would have to accept his beliefs, and use them to refute him. Quoting the Bible at him would not help at all, because he doesn't believe in it. As he said, using sociological or biological evidence would help to refute his beliefs. If I were to argue against a Bible-thumping fundamentalist, I would use Biblical evidence to support the thesis that maybe homosexuality isn't actually against the "word of God". Using sociological or biological evidence would only piss him off.

That is what I mean when I say we have to accept each other's beliefs.

edited 10th Dec '11 9:08:44 PM by TheEarthSheep

Still Sheepin'
Total posts: 194
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