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The Elliquian Herald & Post
Issue 73 ~ February & March 2017

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Author Topic: Religion- Oh no not that again  (Read 25819 times)

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Offline NatalieB

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #350 on: May 28, 2012, 04:11:31 PM »
Just jumping in real quick here to say that it's not the non-believer's responsibility to disprove what a believer says. A believer has the burden of proof for whatever they believe. It'd be like me saying that you can't prove there aren't invisible fairies holding up my house who live in the walls. You can't prove it's not true, so I can believe it.

This is the way science works. Someone comes up with an explanation and people question it. You don't come up with an explanation and than everyone just accepts it.

OK.  Yes, thats how the scientific method works.  Or should work at least, obviously there are vested interests in science as much as anywhere else, but thats beside the point.  Its how 'pure' science works.

But religion isn't science.  Talking about believers having the burden of proof is missing the point entirely.  If God (Allah, Zeus, etc) was a hypothesis, a theory, then sure.  But it isn't.  Saying the burden of proof is on religion is treating religion as a, I dunno, a subset of science.  A debate it will necessarily lose or look incompetant in - just as if I asked for the theological justification for electrons.  You can't judge things by the standards of other things.  Apples and oranges.

And what's so important is that nothing else is treated in this way.  I like Neil Gaiman's writings.  Technically the burden of proof is upon me to prove they're good.  But noone ever asks for it, its enough for me to say I like them.  I despise celery (I may have mentioned that before.  I really really hate it).  Technically the burden of proof is on me to prove with reference to the human taste system that the stuff is gross.  But noone ever asks me to.

Because asking me to would be stupid.  Personal likes, dislikes, opinions, etc. aren't scrutinised scientifically.  Until suddenly we get to religion, when apparently it is.

Burden of proof arguments aren't incorrect per se, they're simply irrelevant.

Offline Hemingway

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #351 on: May 28, 2012, 05:08:33 PM »
But religion isn't science.  Talking about believers having the burden of proof is missing the point entirely.  If God (Allah, Zeus, etc) was a hypothesis, a theory, then sure.  But it isn't.  Saying the burden of proof is on religion is treating religion as a, I dunno, a subset of science.  A debate it will necessarily lose or look incompetant in - just as if I asked for the theological justification for electrons.  You can't judge things by the standards of other things.  Apples and oranges.

I feel I must chime in here, briefly. Because this view only holds up if religion makes no claims about science, when it clearly does. Genesis, for instance, obviously contradicts science. At that point, it is making a scientific claim, and it must be treated as such. To treat religion as separate from and immune to science would be ... irresponsible.

Offline Samnell

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #352 on: May 28, 2012, 05:10:20 PM »
And what's so important is that nothing else is treated in this way.  I like Neil Gaiman's writings.  Technically the burden of proof is upon me to prove they're good.  But noone ever asks for it, its enough for me to say I like them.  I despise celery (I may have mentioned that before.  I really really hate it).  Technically the burden of proof is on me to prove with reference to the human taste system that the stuff is gross.  But noone ever asks me to.

Because asking me to would be stupid.  Personal likes, dislikes, opinions, etc. aren't scrutinised scientifically.  Until suddenly we get to religion, when apparently it is.

Likes and dislikes are scrutinized scientifically all the time. The food industry does a lot of it and there are ample scientific studies of taste, up to and including genetic predispositions to prefer certain tastes (or rather the chemicals that cause them) to others.

But as far as Gaiman goes, you are not claiming that he is good on some universal level. Rather you are saying that you yourself prefer his writing to that of others. While the tastes of one individual are rarely weighty enough that we'd bother to study them when we have so many more pressing issues to examine, they remain accessible to us. But if we suspected you were not telling us the truth or were mistaken about your own preferences, there are plenty of ways we can assess that. We can check your personal library, survey your reading habits, check out your internet posts to see if on some other forum you're badmouthing him instead of praising him, etc. This is all perfectly ordinary stuff we do every day. There's nothing about it that even theoretically excludes it from the purview of science.

Which leaves us with this one oddity that somehow, for some reason, can never ever be touched with science. This exclusion is extremely suspicious, especially in light of the fact that it appears the truth claims made therein are virtually universally incorrect. It appears much more likely that this exclusion is to hide bad beliefs from scrutiny rather than to preserve something unique that science would somehow destroy.

Offline NatalieB

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #353 on: May 28, 2012, 05:14:12 PM »
Good point, I was too brief.

Where religion makes direct scientific claims then sure.  If one takes a literal reading of Genesis (or much of the OT for that matter) then there are a series of direct scientific claims that must be held to the same rigours as any other theory.  I doubt many will hold.

However, literal reading of the Bible is not the way it was intended to be read and is a fairly modern invention.  It was written as allegory and etiology.  To return to the Tower of Babel mentioned above.  We can treat that as a scientific theory, sure, and search for the archeological evidence, the linguistic evidence etc.  But it was almost certainly never intended as such. 

If we read it, and vast swathes of the OT, as metaphor, allegory, etiology, etc.  then no claims are made about science and thus science, and the scientific method, has no claims about it.

Sorry for making a partial point there, and thanks for pulling me up on it.

Offline NatalieB

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #354 on: May 28, 2012, 05:20:00 PM »
Samnell, sorry - I missed your post.

I'm not saying personal likes and opinions are incapable of scientific scrutiny.  I'm saying that level of scrutiny is never performed.  I assure you the food industry has not once come round to take my DNA (I did do the Pepsi Challenge as a kid, though)

And its never performed for good reason.  Economic ones, sure, but also its just plain unimportant whether my claim to like Neil Gaiman is true, false, justified, unjustified - its plain unimportant what science says about that claim of mine.  Despite the fact I make decisions based on it. 

Offline Samnell

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #355 on: May 28, 2012, 05:37:42 PM »
Samnell, sorry - I missed your post.

I'm not saying personal likes and opinions are incapable of scientific scrutiny.  I'm saying that level of scrutiny is never performed.  I assure you the food industry has not once come round to take my DNA (I did do the Pepsi Challenge as a kid, though)

And its never performed for good reason.  Economic ones, sure, but also its just plain unimportant whether my claim to like Neil Gaiman is true, false, justified, unjustified - its plain unimportant what science says about that claim of mine.  Despite the fact I make decisions based on it.

So you don't care if your claim is actually accurate or not? Are you equally unconcerned about whether or not your doctor knows what he's doing when he diagnoses your ills and gives treatment?

Offline NatalieB

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #356 on: May 28, 2012, 05:39:55 PM »
Well, not that its overly important but its not actually my claim.  I'm not religious.

But I don't understand your point in the slightest I'm afraid.  Medicine is a scientific endeavour.  Thus its appropriate to talk in terms of science. 

I'm afraid I really don't understand what point you're trying to get across there.

Offline Samnell

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #357 on: May 28, 2012, 08:53:19 PM »
Well, not that its overly important but its not actually my claim.  I'm not religious.

But I don't understand your point in the slightest I'm afraid.  Medicine is a scientific endeavour.  Thus its appropriate to talk in terms of science. 

I'm afraid I really don't understand what point you're trying to get across there.

Religions are sets of claims about the universe, just like your taste in reading and food are claims about the universe. They have real world implications we can check to determine if those claims actually match reality. Medicine, physics, and Greek polytheism are all the same types of things.

Offline Sabre

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #358 on: May 28, 2012, 09:15:48 PM »
Actually religion is a set of claims about metaphysics, which can include claims about the universe but are not solely limited to empirical science.  Medicine, physics and theology used to be the same type of thing called natural philosophy, but empirical science and philosophy have become separate over time.

Offline NatalieB

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #359 on: May 28, 2012, 09:21:05 PM »
Ah, I get you.  Sorry for being dense.

We can, hypothetically, claim if some of those claims match reality.  Obviously some we can't.  Sure.  Can't really argue that point.

My question is why.  Why is it so important to some people (not necessarily you) that science can be proved to "beat" religion.  Noone ever checks the real world implications of my taste in reading or food.  Because its just not important enough.  But suddenly when it comes to religion everyone turns into Spock and insists to see all kinds of evidence for a fundamentally non-scientific thing.

Noone in the world is as logical as those same some people claim to be once they get on the subject of religion.  Have you tested the foods you eat - made them different colours, pureed them, ate them blindfolded just to test whether its the texture or appearance or whatever you like?  Of course not, thats the behaviour of a psycho.  Have you takena  black marker pen and removed all the nouns from Anansi Boys, all the verbs in a different copy, every 8th word in a third just to see what gives you the most pleasure?  Of course not.  Psycho.

You admit that reading and taste in food are a set of claims about the universe as is religion.  Yet for some reason you are utterly happy that those beliefs and opinions are exempt from scrutiny as simply a personal belief.  But religion isn't.

To take a different tack - I'm assuming you believe gay people aren't stupider on average than straights (and frankly, even if you did I assume you'll pretend not to  ;D).  Are there peer reviewed articles confirming that?  Single blind tests?  I have no idea whether there are or not, not my field at all.  But I'm happy enough to say there is no meaningful difference in intelligence.  The burden of proof is also on me there but noone ever demands I show it.

But for some reason religion is exempt from this.  Religion, despite not being a scientific endeavour, must be scientifically scrutinised and it is oh-so-important that every single aspect of the scientific method is followed in its discussion.

I don't know your personal feelings, Samnell, so some of the above may not apply precisely to you.  But even if it doesn't, I'm sure you know precisely the type of people, the types of criticism of religion, to which I'm referring.

Does that answer your query?

Offline Vekseid

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #360 on: May 28, 2012, 10:11:25 PM »
And what's so important is that nothing else is treated in this way.  I like Neil Gaiman's writings.  Technically the burden of proof is upon me to prove they're good.  But noone ever asks for it, its enough for me to say I like them.  I despise celery (I may have mentioned that before.  I really really hate it).  Technically the burden of proof is on me to prove with reference to the human taste system that the stuff is gross.  But noone ever asks me to.

Because asking me to would be stupid.  Personal likes, dislikes, opinions, etc. aren't scrutinised scientifically.  Until suddenly we get to religion, when apparently it is.

Amazon certainly spends some money on this. I've been tempted to do some research on personal preferences for writing styles.

Scientifically speaking, we usually take people's personal preferences at face value. This does not mean we can't double-check these things - it's been done regarding sexuality, for instance.

Offline NatalieB

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #361 on: May 28, 2012, 10:35:38 PM »
Hi Vekseid.

Sorry, that wasn't quite what I meant (wrt Amazon).  Sure its in company's best interests to know what I like, or at least profess to.  But if I decided to impress the Amazon cookie database with my incredible mind and started buying advanced physics textbooks which I then used to make forts, it would suggest a load of advanced physics textbooks for me.  It only knows my professed likes.

And yes, as I say we can check some things.  But we never do.  Or, OK, never is an exaggeration.  We do to an infinitesimal fraction of the amount that is done to religion.

Offline MasterMischief

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #362 on: May 29, 2012, 06:52:20 PM »
Didn't we already have the burden of proof discussion?  You can not prove there is not a Santa Claus, so you better be good.  And by good, I mean my definition of good.

Why does religion get raked over the coals for proof, because some people like to go around and try to force their religion on others.  I have yet to see anyone demand Buddhist or Taoist provide proof of their beliefs.  Likely because I have yet to see Buddhist or Taoist (and many other religions I am not naming here simply to save space) forcing their religion on others.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #363 on: May 29, 2012, 09:21:24 PM »
And yes, as I say we can check some things.  But we never do.  Or, OK, never is an exaggeration.  We do to an infinitesimal fraction of the amount that is done to religion.

Scientists do more scientific studies about more things on a yearly basis - than all the claims of all religions, combined, throughout the whole of human history. Ultimately, religions are finite things, and reality seems pretty close to infinite.

If you feel something needs more study - and you're probably right - then by all means, conduct a study. 

Offline NatalieB

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #364 on: May 29, 2012, 10:29:59 PM »
MasterMischief - I'd suggest thats due to an unfamiliarity with the news in areas dominated by those religions compared to western ones.  The government of Myanmar/Burma forces people to convert to Buddhism for example.

EDIT: Rubbish example removed, better one substituted.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2012, 10:35:59 PM by NatalieB »

Offline Samnell

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #365 on: May 29, 2012, 10:59:35 PM »
My question is why.  Why is it so important to some people (not necessarily you) that science can be proved to "beat" religion.  Noone ever checks the real world implications of my taste in reading or food.  Because its just not important enough.  But suddenly when it comes to religion everyone turns into Spock and insists to see all kinds of evidence for a fundamentally non-scientific thing.

Religion is only a non-scientific thing when the religious are too embarrassed by their stories to continue asserting they are true. Then they'll come right back around and tell you that ok, lightning was not Yahweh's (or Zeus's) anger but Yahweh will send a hurricane to wreck a city because decent people realize being decent requires them to throw Leviticus in the trash. This is just blatant dishonesty and only the social custom that we not hold people intellectually accountable for any degree of craziness they spout out in the name of faith obscures that fact.

You are right that your personal tastes aren't important enough to bother checking most of the time. It's the same with mine. We are not that big of a deal and they tell us such trivial things about the universe that they may as well not exist. The tastes of a large aggregate of people, however, can be quite scientifically relevant and we study them pretty routinely. But you're flat out wrong to put religion in the great unimportance category. Have you ever met an actual religious person who would say their religion was absolutely irrelevant? Something no one should waste their time with? I haven't either. Quite the opposite, they routinely insist that it is the single most important of all things.

Noone in the world is as logical as those same some people claim to be once they get on the subject of religion.  Have you tested the foods you eat - made them different colours, pureed them, ate them blindfolded just to test whether its the texture or appearance or whatever you like?  Of course not, thats the behaviour of a psycho.  Have you takena  black marker pen and removed all the nouns from Anansi Boys, all the verbs in a different copy, every 8th word in a third just to see what gives you the most pleasure?  Of course not.  Psycho.

You admit that reading and taste in food are a set of claims about the universe as is religion.  Yet for some reason you are utterly happy that those beliefs and opinions are exempt from scrutiny as simply a personal belief.  But religion isn't.

Actually I have done some informal analysis of what I like and dislike about foods. But I do not exempt those tastes from scrutiny. I don't know where you get that from. There's a world of difference between something being unimportant and playing a get out of intellectual accountability free card.

To take a different tack - I'm assuming you believe gay people aren't stupider on average than straights (and frankly, even if you did I assume you'll pretend not to  ;D).  Are there peer reviewed articles confirming that?  Single blind tests?  I have no idea whether there are or not, not my field at all.  But I'm happy enough to say there is no meaningful difference in intelligence.  The burden of proof is also on me there but noone ever demands I show it.

No, it would be the difference that would need establishing. In the absence of evidence, there's no rational case possible for making the distinction. We already know gay people are like other people in every other way except their sexual orientation. If you want to assert an additional, unrelated difference then the onus would fall on you.

But for some reason religion is exempt from this.  Religion, despite not being a scientific endeavour, must be scientifically scrutinised and it is oh-so-important that every single aspect of the scientific method is followed in its discussion.

I don't know your personal feelings, Samnell, so some of the above may not apply precisely to you.  But even if it doesn't, I'm sure you know precisely the type of people, the types of criticism of religion, to which I'm referring.

Why do I care?

Basic human decency is a good start. I consider it at best an act of sabotage to promote or support anything less than the most accurate beliefs you can get. Those beliefs are developed through the machinery of human rationality and empiricism. I would no more happily see someone throwing those away than I would happily see the same person drink water I knew to be poisoned.

And that's before you get into all the incredibly awful stuff that inevitably accompanies the practice of religion, like partitioning off parts of the universe as immune from scientific scrutiny or celebrating the most horrific capability in the entire human psyche: faith.

Offline NatalieB

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #366 on: May 29, 2012, 11:22:03 PM »
Religion is only a non-scientific thing when the religious are too embarrassed by their stories to continue asserting they are true. Then they'll come right back around and tell you that ok, lightning was not Yahweh's (or Zeus's) anger but Yahweh will send a hurricane to wreck a city because decent people realize being decent requires them to throw Leviticus in the trash. This is just blatant dishonesty and only the social custom that we not hold people intellectually accountable for any degree of craziness they spout out in the name of faith obscures that fact.

But noone asserts they are true.  I've never in my life met someone claiming that a hurricane is God's wrath. 

Ah.

I'm sorry, I'm going to abandon the post I had planned to write and get a bit stream of consciousness on you here.  Apologies for that, but I'm thinking "out loud".

You're in the US aren't you?

Do you know, I think we may be arguing European views on religion vs. US views on religion here without having realised it.  Because I so glibly claimed a few sentences ago that noone asserts the bible's claims are literal, but of course thats a major thing in the US isn't it.  I'd totally forgotten about that.  I take it Katrina or whatever was God's wrath (allegedly)?

If thats so then we're running two very very different meta-narratives on religion and its no wonder at all that my arguments aren't ringing true for you and yours aren't for me.  We essentially mean two different things by the word "religion".  That's interesting.

I imagine - and I'm not trying to caricature your argument here - that you're annoyed by religion "intruding" in schools.  Creationism being taught in science classes and whatnot.  And I can see how annoying that would be.  I'm arguing from a totally different cultural mileau though - 80% of schools have no prayer, religious education lessons cover many religions and our former Prime minister was ripped apart by the press for saying "God will judge him".  Religion, essentially, has no part in public discourse.  Or a far far reduced part at least, no part is an exagerration.  56% of people self identify as non-religious and atheism is taught in RE (religious education) lessons.

In general, the point I'm making is that religion is far far less intrusive over here than I get the impression it is over there.  Which may be why I'm prepared to shrug and say "jeez, chill out.  Religion is an inherantly non-scientific magisterium" (note - thats not the same as irrelevant) while you aren't.

I'm not certain of that rings true to you - differing cultural baggage and so forth - but it does to me.

I'm also sorry that was a little rambling.  It's 5:20 AM and I haven't slept.

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Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #367 on: May 30, 2012, 12:01:41 AM »
You are correct that religion is more intrusive over in the US than in the UK.  If you want to get an idea of the 'worst of the worst', I can give you a couple of groups to Google.  They aren't representative, but they are the reason that claiming to be 'devout', or 'following God's path' can get people with a more casual, less-mainstream or even non- religious outlook to start twitching like a cat at a rocking chair convention.

In recent months, we've had at least two dates set for the Rapture (the bodily assumption of the Chosen into Heaven).  We've got 'evangelists' giving the Hand of God responsibility for every natural disaster from hurricanes to earthquakes to epidemics (like SARS, swine flu, and AIDS), that is, when they aren't trying to influence their congregations to vote for the candidates that oppose access to birth control, gay marriage, or abortion (regardless of the medical situation).

These beliefs are not held by most of the Americans that you're likely to meet on a site like this.  They are, however, a highly vocal minority in the general populace. 

Offline NatalieB

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #368 on: May 30, 2012, 12:25:38 AM »
Yeah, I'm just having a bit of a google round.  We are arguing from two totally different standpoints.  Religious people are more likely to be left wing than non-religious people over here and they are openly mocked by mainstream media, comedians, etc.  Viewed as less intelligent, no statutory right to religious festivals off work and so on.

Whereas I see there is a wikipedia article on discrimination against atheists that pretty much solely talks about the US.

I think both Samnell and I were putting across the arguments of what we saw as an oppressed minority and thinking the other was insensitive without taking that kind of difference into account.

Offline Hemingway

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #369 on: May 30, 2012, 06:54:13 AM »
I think it was Richard Dawkins who suggested that the main problem, as he saw it, with religion in the US, was that there was no state religion. This because having no official status forced religions to become competetive and advertise themselves, which they did very well. I too come from a country where christianity is official religion, and while according to a 2005 poll something like 32% of people here believe in god ( not necessarily the christian god, or a specific god ) and another 47% believe in "some kind of spirit or life force" ( an answer so vague that it could apply to just about anything, if you ask me ), you wouldn't know this from talking to people in the streets.

Offline MasterMischief

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #370 on: May 30, 2012, 06:55:55 AM »
MasterMischief - I'd suggest thats due to an unfamiliarity with the news in areas dominated by those religions compared to western ones.  The government of Myanmar/Burma forces people to convert to Buddhism for example.

EDIT: Rubbish example removed, better one substituted.

I learn something new every day.  Let go of your attachments or we will take them from you.   :-)

Offline Samnell

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #371 on: May 30, 2012, 03:03:25 PM »
But noone asserts they are true.  I've never in my life met someone claiming that a hurricane is God's wrath. 

No one asserts religious claims are actually true? Do you mean to tell me that if I walked up to the Archbishop of Canterbury and asked him to confirm that the Gospels were a pack of lies, he'd happily nod along? How about the Pope?

You're in the US aren't you?

Do you know, I think we may be arguing European views on religion vs. US views on religion here without having realised it.  Because I so glibly claimed a few sentences ago that noone asserts the bible's claims are literal, but of course thats a major thing in the US isn't it.  I'd totally forgotten about that.  I take it Katrina or whatever was God's wrath (allegedly)?

Not just in the US. Worldwide old time religion is majority position. It's parts of Europe that are the fortunate exception.

I imagine - and I'm not trying to caricature your argument here - that you're annoyed by religion "intruding" in schools.  Creationism being taught in science classes and whatnot.  And I can see how annoying that would be.  I'm arguing from a totally different cultural mileau though - 80% of schools have no prayer, religious education lessons cover many religions and our former Prime minister was ripped apart by the press for saying "God will judge him".  Religion, essentially, has no part in public discourse.  Or a far far reduced part at least, no part is an exagerration.  56% of people self identify as non-religious and atheism is taught in RE (religious education) lessons.

It's not the intrusion of religion I'm concerned about. It's the existence of religion. It amounts to an epistemological pathology. I want it gone or minimized for the same reason I want infectious diseases gone. They take their toll on our physical and sometimes mental health. So also do religions, though they tend to attack mental health more directly. I suppose the best metaphor would be that religion is a disease that specifically attacks our judgment and rationality, which are the immune system of our minds against bad ideas.

But let me take your UK situation as described here into account. I will happily agree that the UK is an almost infinitely more decent place than the US in just about every way, though that is not a particularly high bar to set. But you still have 20% of schools with prayers. You have religious education classes. The fact that in some areas atheism gets a unit in RE hardly helps. You also, of course, have the Lords Spiritual and an established church. (Or two, if we count the C of E and the Kirk. Or zero if we're speaking of Northern Ireland or Wales. But you know what I'm about.) That's too much religion and too much state imposition of religion.

In general, the point I'm making is that religion is far far less intrusive over here than I get the impression it is over there.  Which may be why I'm prepared to shrug and say "jeez, chill out.  Religion is an inherantly non-scientific magisterium" (note - thats not the same as irrelevant) while you aren't.

It's not quite that, though I'm willing to admit I'd probably be a little less personally opposed to religion if it were extinct. I don't get all that worked up about Hammurabi's foreign policy either. I flat out don't agree that religion is inherently a non-scientific magisterium. As soon as a single claim about reality is made, we're in science. Something as simple as "God exists" is a science claim. It is, at very best, extremely irresponsible of us to treat it otherwise. There's no reason to even want to unless one knows the claim doesn't match reality and is trying to hide from the fact.

I'm going to group the next post along with this since they're directly related.

Yeah, I'm just having a bit of a google round.  We are arguing from two totally different standpoints.  Religious people are more likely to be left wing than non-religious people over here and they are openly mocked by mainstream media, comedians, etc.  Viewed as less intelligent, no statutory right to religious festivals off work and so on.

Whereas I see there is a wikipedia article on discrimination against atheists that pretty much solely talks about the US.

I think both Samnell and I were putting across the arguments of what we saw as an oppressed minority and thinking the other was insensitive without taking that kind of difference into account.

I don't see any of the things you've listed as signs that religion is an oppressed minority in the UK. Quite the opposite, it seems to be the oppressing minority rather like the communist party in the USSR. It may be true that it's less oppressive than it is in the US (of course in the US it's also a majority), and it's less oppressive in the US sometimes than it is in Saudi Arabia or Vatican City, but that's quite different from not being oppressive at all.

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Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #372 on: May 30, 2012, 03:11:28 PM »
I don't see any of the things you've listed as signs that religion is an oppressed minority in the UK. Quite the opposite, it seems to be the oppressing minority rather like the communist party in the USSR. It may be true that it's less oppressive than it is in the US (of course in the US it's also a majority), and it's less oppressive in the US sometimes than it is in Saudi Arabia or Vatican City, but that's quite different from not being oppressive at all.

Beg pardon - NatalieB states that 'they are openly mocked by mainstream media, comedians, etc.  Viewed as less intelligent, no statutory right to religious festivals off work and so on.' 

If we were to substitute any other group into this statement - let's take Polish people, since I happen to be over half Polish - would you still say that 'the things [she's] listed' were not signs that Poles were an oppressed minority?  Let alone that they were an oppressing minority?  I would think that an oppressing minority would be one that was able to influence the majority around them to their own benefit (e.g., forcing laws to allow them to take cultural festivals off work), and to drive any mockery about them down to the level of guiltily whispered snickers.

Offline Sabre

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #373 on: May 30, 2012, 04:06:36 PM »
No one asserts religious claims are actually true? Do you mean to tell me that if I walked up to the Archbishop of Canterbury and asked him to confirm that the Gospels were a pack of lies, he'd happily nod along? How about the Pope?

There's a difference between holding up a sign that says ___ is God's wrath and the above.  You'd most certainly have an enlightening conversation with Archbishop Williams however.

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Not just in the US. Worldwide old time religion is majority position. It's parts of Europe that are the fortunate exception.

It's not the intrusion of religion I'm concerned about. It's the existence of religion. It amounts to an epistemological pathology. I want it gone or minimized for the same reason I want infectious diseases gone. They take their toll on our physical and sometimes mental health. So also do religions, though they tend to attack mental health more directly. I suppose the best metaphor would be that religion is a disease that specifically attacks our judgment and rationality, which are the immune system of our minds against bad ideas.

Religion in the U.S. is fairly unique not just compared to Europe.  It's odd though that religion has been categorically shown to be a positive placebo effect in health issues.

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But let me take your UK situation as described here into account. I will happily agree that the UK is an almost infinitely more decent place than the US in just about every way, though that is not a particularly high bar to set. But you still have 20% of schools with prayers. You have religious education classes. The fact that in some areas atheism gets a unit in RE hardly helps. You also, of course, have the Lords Spiritual and an established church. (Or two, if we count the C of E and the Kirk. Or zero if we're speaking of Northern Ireland or Wales. But you know what I'm about.) That's too much religion and too much state imposition of religion.

Is any religion too much religion?

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It's not quite that, though I'm willing to admit I'd probably be a little less personally opposed to religion if it were extinct. I don't get all that worked up about Hammurabi's foreign policy either. I flat out don't agree that religion is inherently a non-scientific magisterium. As soon as a single claim about reality is made, we're in science. Something as simple as "God exists" is a science claim. It is, at very best, extremely irresponsible of us to treat it otherwise. There's no reason to even want to unless one knows the claim doesn't match reality and is trying to hide from the fact.

Existence is not a science claim.  It is ontological.  There are no theories devoted to the existence of phenomenon, only theories that seek to elucidate an observed physical reaction and why it occurs.  Gravity, for instance, is not a discussion of existence in physics but instead a matter of repeating, observable force.  We understand how it works without caring about how it came to be.

God performing a specific act that is observable and can be studied is a scientific claim.  The existence of God, spirituality, souls and prophesy however are ontology.  One is physicalism and the other qualia.


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I don't see any of the things you've listed as signs that religion is an oppressed minority in the UK. Quite the opposite, it seems to be the oppressing minority rather like the communist party in the USSR. It may be true that it's less oppressive than it is in the US (of course in the US it's also a majority), and it's less oppressive in the US sometimes than it is in Saudi Arabia or Vatican City, but that's quite different from not being oppressive at all.

Who is being oppressed by the Anglican Church in the UK?

Offline NatalieB

Re: Religion- Oh no not that again
« Reply #374 on: May 30, 2012, 04:11:54 PM »
Honestly, it looks a little like you're arguing for argument's sake now.  But fine.

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No one asserts religious claims are actually true? Do you mean to tell me that if I walked up to the Archbishop of Canterbury and asked him to confirm that the Gospels were a pack of lies, he'd happily nod along? How about the Pope?


I would have hoped it was obvious that the phrase this is in response to was the "glib" one I retracted two paragraphs after.  However, as further evidence of my point the Archbishop of Canterbury is an atrocious example.  Below is a relatively famous quote by him on biblical hermeneutics:

Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide
So in sum: what I believe we need for a renewed theological grasp of Scripture is (i) the recognition that Scripture is something heard in the event where the community affirms its identity and seeks its renewal; (ii) the development of the skills needed to explore the analogy and continuity between the world 'in front of' the text and the current context, so as at least to avoid the misuse of texts by abstracting them from the questions they actually put ;(iii) thus also, the discernment of where any given section of Scripture is moving what are the changes it sets out and proposes for the reader/hearer; (iv) an understanding that this last is decisively and authoritatively illuminated by the Eucharistic setting of biblical reading; (v) the consequent holding together of Eucharist and Scripture through a strong doctrine of the Spirit's work in constructing the community of Christ's Body; and (vi) the recognition that neither Scripture nor Eucharist makes sense without commitment to the resurrection of Jesus as the fundamental condition of a Church whose identity is realised in listening and responding. Reading Scripture theologically and understanding theologically the process of reading all this is essentially about seeing Scripture as the vehicle of God's act to bring about conversion. Ultimately, Scripture brings us back to the uniquely creative moment of God's freedom to the grace of a free self-bestowal that can create what is other and then, by love and welcome, transform that other into a sharer and communicator of the same joyful, generative act. 'The word of life...[that] we have seen and heard we declare to you, so that you and we together may share in a common life, that life which we share with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ' (I Jn.1.1-3).

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Not just in the US. Worldwide old time religion is majority position. It's parts of Europe that are the fortunate exception.

Well, perhaps.  But thats not at all relevant is it.  I asked if you were from the US, and then said I was putting forwards a European attitude.  This is the key passage that made me think you were arguing for its own sake, just so you are aware how I formed that opinion.

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It's not the intrusion of religion I'm concerned about. It's the existence of religion. It amounts to an epistemological pathology.... etc.  Snipped for length

As mentioned, we are using the word 'religion' to refer to two distinct things.  Maybe the religion your familiar with deserves such hatred, maybe it doesn't.  The religion I'm familiar with certainly doesn't.  Of course schools teach RE.  Are you honestly and genuinely claiming that religion (in both our senses) has had so little impact on humanity that the principles of it shouldn't be taught to children?  That's... well, I'm really sorry but thats so idiotic that I can only assume I've misunderstood your position.  How can you possibly object to RE lessons?

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It's not quite that, though I'm willing to admit I'd... again snipped for length

I'm just going to leave you and Stephen Jay Gould argue about that one.  One of you is clearly wrong.  At least one of you is a multi-award winning evolutionary biologist and one of the most influential science writers of all time.  Get back to me when you've thrashed it out.

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I don't see any of the things ...

Oniya has answered this.  Thank you Oniya