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Author Topic: Religion- Oh no not that again  (Read 24635 times)

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Offline YaoiRolePlayTopic starter

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #25 on: April 01, 2012, 12:23:21 PM »
Agreed.

I suspect that notions of right and wrong emerged in our species as a matter of biology long before the advent of religion. Capacities for empathy and cooperation, which I believe are at the root of all morality, enabled humans to live in groups which provided advantages to their members in the struggle for survival. It is difficult to conceive of any society, even one as relatively simple as a clan or a tribe, long enduring without behavioral codes which proscribed such antisocial acts as wanton killing, theft, and tresspass on the conjugal rights of others. Through natural selection, empathic and cooperative traits were passed down in ever greater numbers to offspring. We are, in other words, wired to behave socially and thus "morally".

I do not mean to suggest that the biological inclination for "decent" behavior always prevails. Human behavior, which occurs at the intersection of competing drives and situational provocations, is obviously not always moral. And, the most moral course in any situation is not always clear.

Agreed. With everything you said.

Quote from: vtboy
How then do we explain the 20th century? Despite its recency, the 20th was perhaps the least humane epoch in the history of the species. Witness the blood lettings of the First and Second World Wars, the mass murders under Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Milosevic, the Armenian genocide, the carnage in Rwanda, the terror states in South Africa and the Jim Crow South, to name but a few of its highlights. The 21st century does not appear to have gotten off to a much more promising start. 

Excellent question. While morality does move in a general humanistic/liberalism line of thinking, it still regresses and moves backwards as well. It doesn't always move forward, but it does move forward generally.

Quote from: vtboy
Clerics have occasionally been dragged kicking and screaming to a more modern understanding of scripture. However, have you had a chance to discuss these views with, say, Saint Santorum? Or, perhaps, with one of the Ayatollahs? I think they might disagree with their thrust.

Morality is a continuum on the scale. People may be less humanistic, but those people are going to be looked at as silly or bad in the way that most of us look at Santorum. As the years progress, Santorum's beliefs become way to conservative even for the most conservative of people because the continuum has moved forward. Most people are going to be at the very center of the continuum, whatever that is. There may be some with more humanistic beliefs that we'd call extreme or ahead of their time. And than there are those with more conservative beliefs that we'd call stuck in the past.

Quote from: vtboy
The problem with organized religion, and the reason I think it has most often been a retardant to human progress, is that so many of the faithful continue to view the content of scripture as divinely revealed literal truth. To be sure, interpretation of scripture is an evolving process for many religions (the Talmud, for example, is a compendium of centuries of rabbinical commentaries on the Torah). However, I think precious few of the faithful would agree that the polestar for the process should ever be the "morality of the time." Once one subscribes to the idea that scripture is the revealed word of God, there may still be some room for interpretation, but it becomes very difficult for expedience or human desire to enter the debate on anything approaching an equal footing.

Better, I think, to just jettison religion's baggage, and apply God's gift of reason to the problem of what is right and what is not.

Well yes, people who consider their scripture to the be the reveled word of God will have one set interpretation and stick with it. They still won't read the text literally, however, because when they do, they get all kinds of morality that doesn't fit with the time period they are in. Their conscience doesn't allow them to interpret literally. Most people who say they interpret literally have no idea what is actually in their scriptures. Another reason why morality doesn't come from them anyway.

Offline Missy

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #26 on: April 01, 2012, 02:36:52 PM »
How then do we explain the 20th century? Despite its recency, the 20th was perhaps the least humane epoch in the history of the species. Witness the blood lettings of the First and Second World Wars, the mass murders under Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Milosevic, the Armenian genocide, the carnage in Rwanda, the terror states in South Africa and the Jim Crow South, to name but a few of its highlights. The 21st century does not appear to have gotten off to a much more promising start. 

Never had bombs big enough to blow up entire cities before the early 1900's, never had planes to deliver them before then either.

If we're ultimately regressing into greater and greater barbarism how do you explain the Chinese Unification Wars, or the Napoleonic Wars? How do you explain the division and constant conflict of feudal societies both Eastern and Western???

The world was a big place once, now I can get to Japan from the United States in under a day.

Offline vtboy

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #27 on: April 01, 2012, 02:43:39 PM »

Morality is a continuum on the scale. People may be less humanistic, but those people are going to be looked at as silly or bad in the way that most of us look at Santorum. As the years progress, Santorum's beliefs become way to conservative even for the most conservative of people because the continuum has moved forward.

Well, I hope so. But, forty or so years ago it seemed to me that many of the moral issues St. Santorum now wants to debate afresh had been settled. That any but the occasional cultural troglodyte might suggest that the use of contraception is immoral was nigh unimaginable to me back then. A prediction then that, in 2012, a substantial portion of the population would favor teaching Genesis alongside Darwin in science classrooms (I read recently that at least one state is considering legislation to exclude the latter from public school curricula) would have struck me as entirely delusional. Yet, here we are, years after the mapping of the human genome, and decades after physics and cosmology evicted man and his world from downtown creation, with a serious contender for the presidency subscribing to these views.

It is even more sobering to recall that only two years ago Christine O'Donnell, who viewed masturbation as a public scourge, managed to get 40% of the votes in the general election for Senate in Delaware. Jeepers creepers.

But, God bless you for your optimism. I pray you are correct.

Offline vtboy

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #28 on: April 01, 2012, 03:15:58 PM »
Never had bombs big enough to blow up entire cities before the early 1900's, never had planes to deliver them before then either.

If we're ultimately regressing into greater and greater barbarism how do you explain the Chinese Unification Wars, or the Napoleonic Wars? How do you explain the division and constant conflict of feudal societies both Eastern and Western???

The world was a big place once, now I can get to Japan from the United States in under a day.

No question but that techonology added to the carnage in 20th century conflicts. And, to be clear, I never suggested that war and genocide were advents of the 20th century (the latter term, by the way, was coined in the 20th century as a description for the extermination of over one million Armenians). Yet, the scope of violent conflict, and the extent to which it broke out along ethnic fault lines, often in areas which relations between the same groups had previously been fairly pacific, make the 20th century unique. In The War of the World, Niall Ferguson advances a very compelling theory that, after protracted periods of relatively peaceful coexistence of different peoples in polyglot empires, these feuds were unleashed by the instability, followed shortly by the fall, of those empires (Romanov, Hapsburg, Hohenzollern, Ottoman and Qing).

That said, I don't know that mankind has regressed or is regressing toward a state of greater barbarism. I just don't think we've moved very far, if at all, along the suggested moral continuum toward better behavior.

Offline Sabby

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #29 on: April 01, 2012, 03:43:02 PM »
Okay, I'm answering the opening posters question, and I do so honestly and without having read what others have posted. I say this so there'll be no misinterpreting. I pretty much have to clarify this kind of information... you know how these discussions get >.<

So what is my personal opinion of religion? Honestly, I think it needs to die out a bit faster. Having a philosophy for how the world works, spiritually, is just fine and dandy by me, and I'll lead a prayer if I end up at a religious families dinner, because I don't believe anyone has the right to refuse a person the right to believe in their own home and their own life.

What I absolutely cannot tolerate, ever, is when that basic human right is turned around, and made into a friggen sword. I cannot and will not tell you that God is forbidden from your thoughts, but you can try and jam him into mine? That's not an equal violation of rights? You can claim freedom of religion, and then tell me what to believe?

Once again, I must stress what should be very clear, that yes, I am aware that not all Christians think like this, and that Christianity is not the only religion out there, so no one needs to tell me this. I use the term God because it's easy, and I only speak of the intolerant, hypercritical individuals who paint their Churches as gay bashing loony bins. It really is sad to see entire theologies either misrepresented, or kept from social adaptation because of these nut jobs. Imagine if the Christian Church hadn't had such a stigma against change, and considered adapting it's morals ans teachings to fit the times. I really believe it's what they need, but they'll never get it the way they are.

But really, all this only makes me feel sorry for the good men and women who subscribe to a religion, and pity for the ones mucking it up. What gets the CONTEMPT from me is when they try and force their ways of thinking on society and make sure it's as stilted and backward as them. Sneaking Creationism into Science classes, fighting gay marriage laws, harassing abortion workers, generally contesting scientific progress every step of the way while at the same time perverting scientific process for themselves.

It's sickening. Truly sickening, and it makes me shake my head and almost wanna pray for them, the sad, detestable, misguided societal tumour of a people. 

And before the hate mail comes my way, I clarify, AGAIN, I only refer to the extremists, and the religious leaders who encourage this behaviour, whoever they may be. It is damaging to the Churches they represent and to society as a whole, and as long as they are around, then I think we're better off without organized Religion.

Offline MasterMischief

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #30 on: April 01, 2012, 09:18:15 PM »
Kid, I've flown from one side of this galaxy to the other, and I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen *anything* to make me believe that there's one all-powerful Force controlling everything. 'Cause no mystical energy field controls *my* destiny. It's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.

Offline Rhapsody

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #31 on: April 01, 2012, 09:28:38 PM »
Kid, I've flown from one side of this galaxy to the other, and I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen *anything* to make me believe that there's one all-powerful Force controlling everything. 'Cause no mystical energy field controls *my* destiny. It's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.

Maybe this is my recent obsession with catching up on Doctor Who, but I worship at the altar of David Tennant. Things make sense with him at the wheel (of the TARDIS).

Offline SRT4NightRider

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #32 on: April 02, 2012, 08:53:30 AM »
I went to private Catholic school and had it rammed down my throat (no pun intended). After high school and college, and being a fire fighter, do I believe in God? To a degree. While I feel there is a higher power, I also feel that part of what you have is how hard you work. With that being said, I do pray and I do try to find the answers for things that happen (my grandmother's death, why my dad got so sick, how I can keep going when I feel like I can't).... Just my opinion

Offline Shjade

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #33 on: April 02, 2012, 02:03:38 PM »
Maybe this is my recent obsession with catching up on Doctor Who, but I worship at the altar of David Tennant. Things make sense with him at the wheel (of the TARDIS).

...but isn't that a Han Solo quote?

Offline Rhapsody

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #34 on: April 02, 2012, 02:17:28 PM »
It is. I just felt one sci-fi geek reference deserved another.

Offline MasterMischief

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #35 on: April 02, 2012, 02:39:31 PM »
I also think it worth noting that StarWars' Force was largely inspired by Taoism which, while I would not classify myself as a 'believer', I am 'exploring'.

Offline Serephino

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #36 on: April 02, 2012, 03:02:46 PM »
Okay, I'm answering the opening posters question, and I do so honestly and without having read what others have posted. I say this so there'll be no misinterpreting. I pretty much have to clarify this kind of information... you know how these discussions get >.<

So what is my personal opinion of religion? Honestly, I think it needs to die out a bit faster. Having a philosophy for how the world works, spiritually, is just fine and dandy by me, and I'll lead a prayer if I end up at a religious families dinner, because I don't believe anyone has the right to refuse a person the right to believe in their own home and their own life.

What I absolutely cannot tolerate, ever, is when that basic human right is turned around, and made into a friggen sword. I cannot and will not tell you that God is forbidden from your thoughts, but you can try and jam him into mine? That's not an equal violation of rights? You can claim freedom of religion, and then tell me what to believe?

Once again, I must stress what should be very clear, that yes, I am aware that not all Christians think like this, and that Christianity is not the only religion out there, so no one needs to tell me this. I use the term God because it's easy, and I only speak of the intolerant, hypercritical individuals who paint their Churches as gay bashing loony bins. It really is sad to see entire theologies either misrepresented, or kept from social adaptation because of these nut jobs. Imagine if the Christian Church hadn't had such a stigma against change, and considered adapting it's morals ans teachings to fit the times. I really believe it's what they need, but they'll never get it the way they are.

But really, all this only makes me feel sorry for the good men and women who subscribe to a religion, and pity for the ones mucking it up. What gets the CONTEMPT from me is when they try and force their ways of thinking on society and make sure it's as stilted and backward as them. Sneaking Creationism into Science classes, fighting gay marriage laws, harassing abortion workers, generally contesting scientific progress every step of the way while at the same time perverting scientific process for themselves.

It's sickening. Truly sickening, and it makes me shake my head and almost wanna pray for them, the sad, detestable, misguided societal tumour of a people. 

And before the hate mail comes my way, I clarify, AGAIN, I only refer to the extremists, and the religious leaders who encourage this behaviour, whoever they may be. It is damaging to the Churches they represent and to society as a whole, and as long as they are around, then I think we're better off without organized Religion.

I definitely agree no one has a right to shove their beliefs down another's throat.  Like Oniya said, we all have our own paths we need to walk down.  After all, life is about learning and experiencing.  Faith is a very personal thing that can't be forced.  People can be taught scripture and told what rules to follow, but...  You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

Honestly, I think the people who abuse religion the most are the ones who don't truly believe.  If they truly knew God, they'd know better than to use him/her/it as a club.  I think these people were indoctrinated and they say they believe because they were told they must to be accepted.  Then they use it for their own gain because it's so easy to do.

Offline Rhapsody

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #37 on: April 02, 2012, 03:20:14 PM »
Honestly, I think the people who abuse religion the most are the ones who don't truly believe.  If they truly knew God, they'd know better than to use him/her/it as a club.  I think these people were indoctrinated and they say they believe because they were told they must to be accepted.  Then they use it for their own gain because it's so easy to do.

It's more than this. Even the people who are actively trying to be comforting and supportive can fuck it up spectacularly. I heard so much about God this last few weeks that it got extremely hard to bite my tongue when all I wanted to do was scream "fuck God and fuck you" at them. I get that these sentiments are comforting for them, that they get from them a great deal of peace, but not me. I didn't want to scream obscenities at people just trying to help, but it was so damn hard not to sometimes.

Offline YaoiRolePlayTopic starter

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #38 on: April 02, 2012, 03:37:55 PM »
Honestly, I think the people who abuse religion the most are the ones who don't truly believe.  If they truly knew God, they'd know better than to use him/her/it as a club.  I think these people were indoctrinated and they say they believe because they were told they must to be accepted.  Then they use it for their own gain because it's so easy to do.


That of course depends on your definition of "abuse," but generally that's not true at all. If people didn't really believe it they wouldn't say the things they do so passionately. Were the millions of people who believed crusades, inquisitions, and witch hunts non-believers? Not at all. The people who believe it the most, who actually believe in the literal word of their scriptures are the ones who others are going to think are abusing it because the morality has changed so dramatically. If you believe the literal word of the Bible, you have justification for all sorts of nasty things. But to those who live in today's morality, we find all those things abhorant, and we think those who believe those scriptures literally are abusing the scriptures when really they're just doing exactly what it says. They believe it more than anyone else, essentially.

Offline Ironwolf85

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Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #39 on: April 02, 2012, 10:24:54 PM »
I believe in god, christ, and salvation. I'm not 8 ways of crazy, nor do I believe in bashing gays, nor do I believe collages "kill yur religionishness" as St. Santorium believes (him being a law school graduite himself he's just a freaking dumbass)

I'm a moderate, I also don't believe it does my faith justice to sit in the back and feel embarissed or be ashamed my beliefs.
here's the core of my belief.
Christ promoted honesty, hard work, charity, understanding, loving, and forgiving your fellow man for his mistakes, sins, and flaws as the almighty has forgiven you and all mankind. God loves you so much he gave his own son for you, and by his death and rebirth, everyone, EVERYONE is forgiven.
this forgiveness and love is not withheld from gays, followers of other faiths, people of a diffrent political party, people in other countries, etc.

Religion is flawed, because man is himself flawed. there has only been one man who lived and unflawed and untarnished life, and he wound up nailed to a cross because those in power feared him.

I've actually met a lot of good and honest priests, you notice the kindly pastor who coaches inner city basketball, isn't a perv, helps people with their problems, and genrally does what a he's supposed to, he does not get on television or publish his own line of "god will help you loose weight." books.

I'm not perfect, but I say my prayers at night, I believe in god and evoloution, Darwin was a monk of the Anglican church, and I know the diffrence between a follower of christ and someone who is "following what's popular."

on a related note, I believe that Santorium's support comes from backlash on the religious right is because they've failed so miserabily against abortion rights, gay marrage bills, and evoloution at the state level, which is a testiment to the way things are going.
Also just to mention, I'm fine with preventive care or an early term abortion, a late term abortion where they break the fetus's neck and suck it out is horrific though, ultimately it's a family issue to deal with and I can't make other people's choices, even if I disapprove.
as for gay marrage, I (literally) don't give a damn, they should have the right to be married by the court, but likewise a religious institution that feels strongly should be able to refuse to do the service on the basis of religious freedom.
I believe in evoloution, it explains how things got from there to here, it's been proven, it's fact, it exists, stop wasting my time, tax money, and the dignity of my faith fighting it. I do believe the almighty could've had a hand in things, I see no reason the great creator of existance, author and publisher of the laws of physics and architect of the foundations reality couldn't have just planned ahead.

Offline Serephino

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #40 on: April 03, 2012, 12:56:06 AM »
That of course depends on your definition of "abuse," but generally that's not true at all. If people didn't really believe it they wouldn't say the things they do so passionately. Were the millions of people who believed crusades, inquisitions, and witch hunts non-believers? Not at all. The people who believe it the most, who actually believe in the literal word of their scriptures are the ones who others are going to think are abusing it because the morality has changed so dramatically. If you believe the literal word of the Bible, you have justification for all sorts of nasty things. But to those who live in today's morality, we find all those things abhorant, and we think those who believe those scriptures literally are abusing the scriptures when really they're just doing exactly what it says. They believe it more than anyone else, essentially.

Actually, in the Salem Witch Trials, those who accused others weren't all that concerned about ridding the village of evil.  They used it as an excuse.  The girls that started it all just didn't want to get in trouble for being curious about Voodoo.  Then, once people actually believed them and started giving them attention, they decided they liked the attention.  Your neighbor has something you want?  Swear you saw them performing witchcraft!  Then they get tossed in jail, and you get what you want.  Having an affair with a married man?  Accuse his wife of being a witch, and he's all yours.

The Bible was nothing more than excuse.  If you think about it, back then it was either be a good Christian, or be publicly hanged.  Given those two options I'd go to church and spout meaningless scripture too.  They quote it because it has been drilled into their heads.  It is what their family/community expects of them. 

My History teacher once gave us a little analogy.  Imagine for a moment that when you were born I kidnapped you from the hospital.  I kept you in my basement, and taught you to call me Mommy.  When you started eating solid food I gave you dog food.  When I dressed you I put socks on your hands.  You never had any contact with anyone but me.  Okay, now, today, I let you out into the world, and you see people eating ice cream and wearing socks on their feet....

We are social creatures.  Monkey see, monkey do.  Our parents and teachers have the most influence over us at a young age.  Then, of course, there's peer pressure in your teens and early twenties.  Everything is a learned behavior.  You go to the bathroom in a toilet instead of your pants because you were potty trained.  You don't run around naked in public places because not only were you taught that it's unacceptable, it's also against the law.  You were taught to share your toys and not steal...

The people I'm talking about spout that crap because it's what they know.  They were brainwashed.  Their parents and Sunday School teachers taught them the scripture is right, and everything else is a path straight to Hell.  They didn't come to the path on their own.  I'm not saying that everyone who was raised Christian isn't a true believer.  I'm sure some are.  But the ones who use it as a weapon, who do the terrible things, are Sunday Christians who twist everything to fit their own personal agenda because they can.   



Offline Serephino

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #41 on: April 03, 2012, 01:02:31 AM »
I believe in god, christ, and salvation. I'm not 8 ways of crazy, nor do I believe in bashing gays, nor do I believe collages "kill yur religionishness" as St. Santorium believes (him being a law school graduite himself he's just a freaking dumbass)

I'm a moderate, I also don't believe it does my faith justice to sit in the back and feel embarissed or be ashamed my beliefs.
here's the core of my belief.
Christ promoted honesty, hard work, charity, understanding, loving, and forgiving your fellow man for his mistakes, sins, and flaws as the almighty has forgiven you and all mankind. God loves you so much he gave his own son for you, and by his death and rebirth, everyone, EVERYONE is forgiven.
this forgiveness and love is not withheld from gays, followers of other faiths, people of a diffrent political party, people in other countries, etc.

Religion is flawed, because man is himself flawed. there has only been one man who lived and unflawed and untarnished life, and he wound up nailed to a cross because those in power feared him.

I've actually met a lot of good and honest priests, you notice the kindly pastor who coaches inner city basketball, isn't a perv, helps people with their problems, and genrally does what a he's supposed to, he does not get on television or publish his own line of "god will help you loose weight." books.

I'm not perfect, but I say my prayers at night, I believe in god and evoloution, Darwin was a monk of the Anglican church, and I know the diffrence between a follower of christ and someone who is "following what's popular."

on a related note, I believe that Santorium's support comes from backlash on the religious right is because they've failed so miserabily against abortion rights, gay marrage bills, and evoloution at the state level, which is a testiment to the way things are going.
Also just to mention, I'm fine with preventive care or an early term abortion, a late term abortion where they break the fetus's neck and suck it out is horrific though, ultimately it's a family issue to deal with and I can't make other people's choices, even if I disapprove.
as for gay marrage, I (literally) don't give a damn, they should have the right to be married by the court, but likewise a religious institution that feels strongly should be able to refuse to do the service on the basis of religious freedom.
I believe in evoloution, it explains how things got from there to here, it's been proven, it's fact, it exists, stop wasting my time, tax money, and the dignity of my faith fighting it. I do believe the almighty could've had a hand in things, I see no reason the great creator of existance, author and publisher of the laws of physics and architect of the foundations reality couldn't have just planned ahead.

Ironwolf, you've pretty much described how I feel. 

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Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #42 on: April 03, 2012, 02:50:12 AM »
Actually, in the Salem Witch Trials, those who accused others weren't all that concerned about ridding the village of evil.  They used it as an excuse.  The girls that started it all just didn't want to get in trouble for being curious about Voodoo.  Then, once people actually believed them and started giving them attention, they decided they liked the attention.  Your neighbor has something you want?  Swear you saw them performing witchcraft!  Then they get tossed in jail, and you get what you want.  Having an affair with a married man?  Accuse his wife of being a witch, and he's all yours.


I recall a map in a textbook that went into the distribution of where the 'witches' lived versus where the 'accusers' lived.  There was a fairly clear correlation between what side of town you lived on and what side of the trials you ended up on.  [/useless trivia]

Offline DeMalachine

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #43 on: April 03, 2012, 12:07:05 PM »
Darwin was a monk of the Anglican church.

Just a small point of order: Darwin was never a monk of any church. He did briefly consider joining the Anglican clergy during his studies, but was never involved with the church in any other capacity than as an agnostically-inclined (and not atheist, as many other people like to claim) layperson.

Offline Ironwolf85

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Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #44 on: April 03, 2012, 12:16:30 PM »
Ironwolf, you've pretty much described how I feel. 

it's nice to meet another moderate on here, there are a lot of us, but moderate people don't go around chanting slogans, bombing buildings, and shoving their perticular holy book in people's faces, so we don't get much airtime.
let's face it folks love, peace, and harmony, religion and science going hand in hand to make the world a better place, while enlightning, do not make for riviting TV

Just a small point of order: Darwin was never a monk of any church. He did briefly consider joining the Anglican clergy during his studies, but was never involved with the church in any other capacity than as an agnostically-inclined (and not atheist, as many other people like to claim) layperson.
understood thank you for correcting me, I had gotten carried away in my rant.

Offline Tamhansen

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #45 on: April 03, 2012, 01:04:31 PM »
Agreed.

I suspect that notions of right and wrong emerged in our species as a matter of biology long before the advent of religion. Capacities for empathy and cooperation, which I believe are at the root of all morality, enabled humans to live in groups which provided advantages to their members in the struggle for survival. It is difficult to conceive of any society, even one as relatively simple as a clan or a tribe, long enduring without behavioral codes which proscribed such antisocial acts as wanton killing, theft, and tresspass on the conjugal rights of others. Through natural selection, empathic and cooperative traits were passed down in ever greater numbers to offspring. We are, in other words, wired to behave socially and thus "morally".

I do not mean to suggest that the biological inclination for "decent" behavior always prevails. Human behavior, which occurs at the intersection of competing drives and situational provocations, is obviously not always moral. And, the most moral course in any situation is not always clear.

You mention three moral issues here. Murder, theft and adultery. Out of these only murder seems to be a biologically driven taboo. Conjugal rights and even the whole concept of marriage seem to have evolved after the Agricultural revolution at the end of the neolithicum. There is evidence that in most hunter gatherer tribes, women simply chose their bedmates as it suited them. Polyamorism is of course an excellent way to achieve genetic diversity. 'Moral' codes seem to be  usually laid down by tose in power to maintain the status quo, not driven by some genetic predisposition.

How then do we explain the 20th century? Despite its recency, the 20th was perhaps the least humane epoch in the history of the species. Witness the blood lettings of the First and Second World Wars, the mass murders under Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Milosevic, the Armenian genocide, the carnage in Rwanda, the terror states in South Africa and the Jim Crow South, to name but a few of its highlights. The 21st century does not appear to have gotten off to a much more promising start. 

Clerics have occasionally been dragged kicking and screaming to a more modern understanding of scripture. However, have you had a chance to discuss these views with, say, Saint Santorum? Or, perhaps, with one of the Ayatollahs? I think they might disagree with their thrust.

fully agree


The problem with organized religion, and the reason I think it has most often been a retardant to human progress, is that so many of the faithful continue to view the content of scripture as divinely revealed literal truth. To be sure, interpretation of scripture is an evolving process for many religions (the Talmud, for example, is a compendium of centuries of rabbinical commentaries on the Torah). However, I think precious few of the faithful would agree that the polestar for the process should ever be the "morality of the time." Once one subscribes to the idea that scripture is the revealed word of God, there may still be some room for interpretation, but it becomes very difficult for expedience or human desire to enter the debate on anything approaching an equal footing.

Better, I think, to just jettison religion's baggage, and apply God's gift of reason to the problem of what is right and what is not.

but who then to decide? because what is right for you, can be wrong or even damaging to another. Let's take an example from the recent months. the Trayvon Martin case. Was Zimmerman's shooting of martin a wanton killing, or a justified act of self defence? To decide that, we'd need a common understanding of what encompasses self defence, and what is considered justified. Our government has laws based on a certain moral code laid down by an organised party. Now whether this is a religion, a state, or any other form of power doesn't really matter I think. Is there really a difference between loving someone because jesus said you should, or because a real person said you should.
Is there really a difference for killing because your pope wants the infidel dead, or because your president wants the infidel's oil?

Offline vtboy

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #46 on: April 03, 2012, 06:00:11 PM »
You mention three moral issues here. Murder, theft and adultery. Out of these only murder seems to be a biologically driven taboo. Conjugal rights and even the whole concept of marriage seem to have evolved after the Agricultural revolution at the end of the neolithicum. There is evidence that in most hunter gatherer tribes, women simply chose their bedmates as it suited them. Polyamorism is of course an excellent way to achieve genetic diversity. 'Moral' codes seem to be  usually laid down by tose in power to maintain the status quo, not driven by some genetic predisposition.

What, I believe, is biologically driven is the inclination toward cooperation and empathy, not its manifestation. How these tendencies are expressed in specific moral or legal precepts will vary from society to society and from time to time.

To the extent we are talking about "'moral' codes laid down by those in power to maintain the status quo," I think we are talking about law. While law and morality may overlap, and law is frequently dressed in moral or religious garb, the distinction is that the former is enforced by temporal coercion (jail, fines, execution, etc.), while the latter relies on something else, perhaps indoctrination or the promise and threat of rewards and punishments in the next life.   

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but who then to decide?

Depends on the society we are talking about. In a monarchy, it's the king, in a theocracy, the clerics, in a democracy, the rabble. 

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because what is right for you, can be wrong or even damaging to another.
Let's take an example from the recent months. the Trayvon Martin case. Was Zimmerman's shooting of martin a wanton killing, or a justified act of self defence? To decide that, we'd need a common understanding of what encompasses self defence, and what is considered justified.

Yes, we do need to reach a common understanding of when the use of force, especially deadly force, is justified. However, the question may be resolved in entirely utilitarian terms, rather than moral ones.

I think it self-evident that freeing people to blast away at each other under any but the most limited of circumstances is inimical to the social order which enables us to avoid lives which are nasty, brutish and short. The Florida "stand your ground" statute is bad law, in my view, because its license for violence where not absolutely necessary (i.e., where retreat is possible) brings us a step closer to chaos, and a step further from a world which allows the greatest number the opportunity to maximize their happiness and security.

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Our government has laws based on a certain moral code laid down by an organised party. Now whether this is a religion, a state, or any other form of power doesn't really matter I think. Is there really a difference between loving someone because jesus said you should, or because a real person said you should.
Is there really a difference for killing because your pope wants the infidel dead, or because your president wants the infidel's oil?

Well, yes. In a secular democracy, and one which favors minimal government intrusion in private decision making, it makes all the difference in the world whether government acts out of secular considerations or religious ones (though, admittedly, the dead infidel may not care).

Though I realize the religious right would disagree, I think the founding fathers had in mind a government that would deal with problems of this world (regulating trade among the states, stealing land from native Americans, and what-not) to give us all the greatest advantage in our private pursuits of happiness. Conversely, I also think their intention was to leave individuals to strike their own bargains with higher powers. When government loses sight of the distinction, and proscribes rules because they are good for our souls rather than our bellies, it unnecessarily circumscribes the field of individual action (e.g., proscribing contraception, abortion, marijuana, smut, etc.).

We may disagree with our government that killing infidels for oil is a good thing, but at least if we are all on the same secular page, there is hope our elected representatives might be persuaded that their policies are not conducive to maximum happiness. The game is lost, however, if we need also persuade them of what God wants.   
« Last Edit: April 04, 2012, 02:43:47 PM by vtboy »

Offline MasterMischief

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #47 on: April 04, 2012, 08:43:47 AM »
I believe I am on the same page as vtboy, but if I may attempt to sum up.  You can appeal to the reason of the rabble.  You can not appeal to god.  There can not be an open and frank discussion when the answer is, "because god said so."

Offline vtboy

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #48 on: April 04, 2012, 11:33:09 AM »
I believe I am on the same page as vtboy, but if I may attempt to sum up.  You can appeal to the reason of the rabble.  You can not appeal to god.  There can not be an open and frank discussion when the answer is, "because god said so."

Thank you. Brevity is not my long suit.

Offline Cheka Man

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #49 on: April 04, 2012, 01:58:40 PM »
If there is a God or Goddess-why does He or She not show Him/Herself in such a way that noone can doubt Him/Her?