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Author Topic: Elliquian Atheists  (Read 35632 times)

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Offline Braioch

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #425 on: November 03, 2012, 04:06:26 PM »
Probably because whenever you bring up that it was written by man, you get to hear all about how it was 'inspired by God.' As if that somehow lessens or changes the sheer fact of what Mischief is talking about.

Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #426 on: December 04, 2012, 10:47:35 PM »
This was going to be my response in another topic, but the discussion was actually about some public displays that ruffled some Religious groups. I didn't want to drag it back to Atheism vs Religion again (it was derailing there a lot) so I'd rather reply here.

Atheism is as much a religion as Christianity to me.  Which, in my eyes, as long as it's respectful, is worthy of my ear and respect.  Whether or not I personally agree with it.

Thank you for respecting my religion. Because my belief that we are on an object of matter bound by understandable and demonstrable laws, and that all things that exist in some form or fashion are comprehendable given time is just an opinion that happens to works for me. That's my personal assertion. There are plenty of other equally valid world views that explain the nature of things, and mine is no more likely then a 6 literal day creation event or the cosmos being the spread out and ever expanding waves of Rhubarbs first belly flop into the pond that was pre-creation space.

Because we can just swap models whenever we like and they are all equal. I just choose this particular religion because it makes me feel good and my folks told me it was the correct one.

Offline Braioch

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #427 on: December 05, 2012, 06:41:27 AM »
-Drowns in the snark-

Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #428 on: December 05, 2012, 06:46:49 AM »
Well I'm getting tired of the claim that I'm religious because I 'have beliefs' :P that ones as repetitive as 'marriage means mum and dad' and it holds water just as well.

Offline Braioch

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #429 on: December 05, 2012, 07:01:10 AM »
-Uses the lifeboat of optimism-

Good lord, I think there were sharks in there!

Anyways...

I addressed it in the thread myself, couldn't really let it lie. :P

Offline Braioch

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #430 on: December 05, 2012, 09:00:04 AM »
I have a little confession for all you who browse this thread...

I'm rather glad I'm an atheist, not just because I feel free of being spied on by some sky deity, that I'm totally free to be myself and not have my happiness rely on whether or not there is a god, or an afterlife.

No, because I know, that were there ever proof there was a god, I would find myself hating him/her/it. That's often times my problem with any one religions god, "how in the HELL can you love something like that? On that note, how can you claim that it loves you? Look at the shitty things in your life that weren't even your fault? Or the people who suffer and die before they get a chance to do something with themselves, what did they do to deserve this? HOW?! How is that love? Were it a person doing it to you, it would be called abuse, downright sadism in most cases, but since it's a deity, it's love?"

I cannot help be feel utterly bewildered at this, I cannot stand any deity that is proposed to be all powerful and all loving while the shit that happens in this world happens, things that aren't even human induced. (e.g. Natural disasters, cancer, disease, genetic disorders, etc)

I fight with it constantly when talking to people who believe, whom not only believe, but feel strongly that they need this being that I find to be nothing more than a giant cosmic bully. It's like Stockholm syndrome, but with some dude/duddete we've never even seen or have proof of, it's the world's biggest enigma. Cruel people I can understand, they're petty people in a limiting world with petty dreams and petty means, but something with the power to make it all better, choosing not too, or making it worse?

No thank you ma'am!

/rant

Offline Sethala

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #431 on: December 25, 2012, 09:11:48 PM »
Hm, I should really check this board more often, it's rather fun...

Just checking in here as a slightly-torn atheist.  I definitely don't believe in any organized religions, but I have trouble shaking the feeling that there's some sort of driving force behind "fate".  One of the ideas I humor at times is that there is a deity of some sort, but it's unable (for whatever reason) to interfere directly with the normal world.  However, it's able to do a few small things, alter chance, help people make decisions they might not make without a slight nudge, things like that, to guide us towards a certain result.

I have no real reason to believe this is true, to be honest, aside from a few anecdotes from my own life where it seems a lot of coincidences all led towards a larger result.  To be honest, it might be a small part of (failed) indoctrination into a Christian household that's refusing to leave my brain, who knows.

Personally however, I do look forward to the day when Christianity is nothing more than notes in a history textbook, laid alongside the Greek, Roman, and Norse religions of past ages.

Offline Saria

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #432 on: December 25, 2012, 10:15:44 PM »
Just checking in here as a slightly-torn atheist.  I definitely don't believe in any organized religions, but I have trouble shaking the feeling that there's some sort of driving force behind "fate".  One of the ideas I humor at times is that there is a deity of some sort, but it's unable (for whatever reason) to interfere directly with the normal world.  However, it's able to do a few small things, alter chance, help people make decisions they might not make without a slight nudge, things like that, to guide us towards a certain result.

I have no real reason to believe this is true, to be honest, aside from a few anecdotes from my own life where it seems a lot of coincidences all led towards a larger result.  To be honest, it might be a small part of (failed) indoctrination into a Christian household that's refusing to leave my brain, who knows.
All humans have a powerful impulse to seek patterns and meaning in things, like seeing purpose a string of completely unrelated and random. Even I often talk about will and purpose when I talk about things - it slips into my language and thinking - though I try not to let myself by taken along with it. It's a constant battle, for me, to keep my wits about me, and not give in to the temptations of shoddy thinking, and comforting belief. I think it's worth the fight, though.

Personally however, I do look forward to the day when Christianity is nothing more than notes in a history textbook, laid alongside the Greek, Roman, and Norse religions of past ages.
Actually, I don't! I don't really care if religions continue to exist, or even if they continue to be immensely popular! All I've ever wanted, and all I've ever asked for, is that they stay out of MY life, and the lives of everyone else who didn't choose to be under their thumb. That includes, of course, staying out of the politics, science, philosophy and education that affects the lives of people outside of the religions, including myself.

What brings me to activism, of course, is that they don't. They never have, and they show no interest, even now, that they're ever going to do so. So I'm left with only one logical response: if the religions of the world won't politely and willingly leave me and others with enough space to live, without always trying to interfere with and control our lives, then I'm going to make that space for myself... by pushing them out of the way. I am not trying to start a fight - I am only asking for freedom and to be left alone, both for myself and for others who want the same - and if the religions of the world were ever to back down and give others their space, I would probably leave them alone and let them exist. Sadly, it doesn't look like that's going to happen any time in the foreseeable future, so as long as they continue to push me, I'm going to continue pushing back... and, happily, the evidence is mounting that we atheists, fed up after so many centuries of marginalization and disapproval, are pushing back hard... and winning. That's comforting to me, and encouraging, but I'm not going to let up until either they give me space, or I've taken so much power from them that they'll never, ever be able to take it from me or anyone else.

So I don't want to destroy the religions of the world, and I don't even have the passive-aggressive wish that they'll just die. If they just left me and everyone else alone - other than those who chose to be part of the religion - we could coexist perfectly peacefully. But as long they won't tolerate my existence and freedom, then I don't see how I can tolerate theirs.

Offline Sethala

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #433 on: December 26, 2012, 12:26:17 AM »
Actually, I don't! I don't really care if religions continue to exist, or even if they continue to be immensely popular! All I've ever wanted, and all I've ever asked for, is that they stay out of MY life, and the lives of everyone else who didn't choose to be under their thumb. That includes, of course, staying out of the politics, science, philosophy and education that affects the lives of people outside of the religions, including myself.

What brings me to activism, of course, is that they don't. They never have, and they show no interest, even now, that they're ever going to do so. So I'm left with only one logical response: if the religions of the world won't politely and willingly leave me and others with enough space to live, without always trying to interfere with and control our lives, then I'm going to make that space for myself... by pushing them out of the way. I am not trying to start a fight - I am only asking for freedom and to be left alone, both for myself and for others who want the same - and if the religions of the world were ever to back down and give others their space, I would probably leave them alone and let them exist. Sadly, it doesn't look like that's going to happen any time in the foreseeable future, so as long as they continue to push me, I'm going to continue pushing back... and, happily, the evidence is mounting that we atheists, fed up after so many centuries of marginalization and disapproval, are pushing back hard... and winning. That's comforting to me, and encouraging, but I'm not going to let up until either they give me space, or I've taken so much power from them that they'll never, ever be able to take it from me or anyone else.

So I don't want to destroy the religions of the world, and I don't even have the passive-aggressive wish that they'll just die. If they just left me and everyone else alone - other than those who chose to be part of the religion - we could coexist perfectly peacefully. But as long they won't tolerate my existence and freedom, then I don't see how I can tolerate theirs.

First off, let me say that I just love your sig.

That out of the way, I want to clarify that I have no intention of killing off religion by doing anything other than educating the ignorant masses.  If anyone in the US were to propose making any sort of religious practice illegal, I would vehemently oppose it (or at least, oppose it as vehemently as I oppose other things... which isn't much, honestly).  I do want organized religion to die off, as it tends to do far more harm than good, and the good it does do can easily be done through purely secular means.  We can feed the homeless just fine without forcing them to sit through a sermon first, for instance; we don't have to hold their sandwich ransom in the name of Jesus.  Similarly, the "feel good, be good to your neighbor" sermons can still be done without invoking a nonexistent deity.

But when I say I want religion to go away, it is because I believe that it is a falsehood that destroys people's self-esteem, sabotages their ability to think rationally, and convinces them that they need to convince everyone else that they should believe the same thing.  I'm fine with people believing it if they want to, but I want them to have good reason to believe it, not just because they were indoctrinated from childhood or because they were drawn in by peer pressure.  Part of it is because, even if our politicians and other important figures tried to keep their own beliefs out of politics, their understanding of the world is quite different from reality because they do believe in a magical man in the sky.  (And currently, we have quite a few politicians who aren't at all interested in keeping their beliefs out of politics...)

Offline vtboy

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #434 on: December 26, 2012, 04:36:13 PM »
Actually, I don't! I don't really care if religions continue to exist, or even if they continue to be immensely popular! All I've ever wanted, and all I've ever asked for, is that they stay out of MY life, and the lives of everyone else who didn't choose to be under their thumb. That includes, of course, staying out of the politics, science, philosophy and education that affects the lives of people outside of the religions, including myself.

The problem with religion, and especially with organized religion, is that "live and let live" tends not to be in its nature. If one truly believes, for example, that human life begins at conception, that all human life is sacred, and that we are charged by the divinity with the duty to protect it, how does one not seek the political power to stop abortions? Once a person is convinced he is privy to divinely revealed truth, it becomes very difficult to confine its influence to behavior within the four walls of one's house of worship. The ability to compartmentalize is often a bit atrophied among the faithful.

I don't advocate abolishing religion, but I do look forward to the day when it will wither away, at least in its organized incarnation.

Offline Sethala

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #435 on: December 26, 2012, 10:48:44 PM »
The problem with religion, and especially with organized religion, is that "live and let live" tends not to be in its nature. If one truly believes, for example, that human life begins at conception, that all human life is sacred, and that we are charged by the divinity with the duty to protect it, how does one not seek the political power to stop abortions? Once a person is convinced he is privy to divinely revealed truth, it becomes very difficult to confine its influence to behavior within the four walls of one's house of worship. The ability to compartmentalize is often a bit atrophied among the faithful.

I don't advocate abolishing religion, but I do look forward to the day when it will wither away, at least in its organized incarnation.

As I mentioned in another thread, if the guy that does my banking is a young-earth creationist, I really wouldn't care.  As long as he knows how to handle my finances (assuming, in this fantasy, that I had finances to handle in the first place...), I don't really care what he worships.  If that same person were instead a biology teacher, however, I'd have a very big problem with him teaching my kids that we all came from God and evolution's just a myth.  Similarly, if he decided to sell all my stock back in September because his beliefs convinced him the world would end on December 21st, he would not be doing a good job of dealing with my money.

The problem is that there's so many parts of this world where one's beliefs can skew their perception of reality and undermine their ability to think critically.  That is why I want everyone to make sure that whatever they believe in, they have good reasons to do so.  And if there suddenly were good reasons to believe in Christianity, I'd become a believer.  (Granted, I probably wouldn't actually worship him, since he'd have a lot of explaining to do for all the suffering he caused if he did create everything, but I'd at least acknowledge his existence.)

Offline Saria

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #436 on: December 27, 2012, 12:54:42 AM »
First off, let me say that I just love your sig.

That out of the way, I want to clarify that I have no intention of killing off religion by doing anything other than educating the ignorant masses.  If anyone in the US were to propose making any sort of religious practice illegal, I would vehemently oppose it (or at least, oppose it as vehemently as I oppose other things... which isn't much, honestly).  I do want organized religion to die off, as it tends to do far more harm than good, and the good it does do can easily be done through purely secular means.  We can feed the homeless just fine without forcing them to sit through a sermon first, for instance; we don't have to hold their sandwich ransom in the name of Jesus.  Similarly, the "feel good, be good to your neighbor" sermons can still be done without invoking a nonexistent deity.

But when I say I want religion to go away, it is because I believe that it is a falsehood that destroys people's self-esteem, sabotages their ability to think rationally, and convinces them that they need to convince everyone else that they should believe the same thing.  I'm fine with people believing it if they want to, but I want them to have good reason to believe it, not just because they were indoctrinated from childhood or because they were drawn in by peer pressure.  Part of it is because, even if our politicians and other important figures tried to keep their own beliefs out of politics, their understanding of the world is quite different from reality because they do believe in a magical man in the sky.  (And currently, we have quite a few politicians who aren't at all interested in keeping their beliefs out of politics...)
Why thank you. :-) You actually reminded me I hadn't changed it a while.

You know, I don't think we actually disagree on any major point. Let me just make clear that when I say no religion should be allowed to control people who don't choose to be part of that religion... that includes children. Children do not choose to be part of a religion - they can't. Their parents make that choice for them, then control their education and psychologically abuse them until the child accepts the doctrine (which, of course, "sticks" through adulthood, because psychological abuse and trauma is difficult to fix). The way I see it, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with a parent telling their child what they believe or teaching the child their customs... but to be clear: the child should not be denied a proper education, including proper critical thinking skills (which are really not currently taught in schools, and should be), and complete exposure to other religions and cultures so that they recognize their parents religion as just one of a multitude of possibilities. The current situation is intolerable and unsustainable: we cannot continue with the notion that children are their parents' property to mold as they please, or that parents have the "right" to restrict what knowledge and education their child is exposed to. Parents can share their culture and beliefs, but the child should get a proper education - with critical thinking skills, and awareness of other cultures and ways of thinking.

Indeed, most of what you have said is exactly what I would call meddling with the lives and freedoms of people who didn't choose to be part of the religion. And a lot of it is only tolerated because we give religion a free pass to meddle in things that it really shouldn't. Take your politicians for example: let's assume we have a politician who believes something due to religion, like that the Earth is 6,000 years-old. No problem with that by itself - they can believe the Earth is made of Jell-o and it shouldn't hinder their duties as administrators - which, ultimately, is all politicians are. But now suppose something comes across their desk that actually involves the age of the Earth - let's say, for argument's sake, that they have to vote on a bill to declare a museum for the Jurassic age. Now, current thinking is that it makes sense for the politician to "stand up for principle" and refuse to vote yes because it would violate their religious beliefs. But, hang on... think about that. Shouldn't the correct response to be: "Excuse me, bureaucrat boy? What's it say on your office door? Does it say 'paleontologist'? Did we elect you to be a geochronologist? I don't think so, paper pusher; you weren't elected to decide the age of the Earth, you were elected to be an administrator. We don't care squat what your belief the age of the Earth is; we have properly trained experts to determine that. All we expect you to do is listen to them, and do your effing job, and your job does not include being a scientist who decides the age of the Earth. Shut up and sign the bill or step down if you can't do the job you were hired to do. If you want us to listen to your opinion on the age of the Earth, go ahead and try to get it published in a relevant peer-reviewed journal, then we'll listen." Seriously, think about it: why should we be the least bit concerned what our elected officials' opinions on the age of the Earth (for example)? Why should it matter at all? We don't elect politicians to decide those things, so why do they think they can? Clearly they are inappropriately forcing their religious beliefs into their jobs, and that shouldn't be tolerated. We wouldn't tolerate a politician trying to legislate their opinions on math, like that 0.999... doesn't equal 1 or something (though, it has been tried in the past!), so why do we tolerate them trying to legislate their opinions on science? The problem there isn't just religion trying to push into areas where it doesn't belong; the problem there is also at least partly due to the fact that we allow it to.

I also agree that religions are basically useless. We don't need them for charity, we don't need them for social connections and we don't need them for culture. We don't need them for anything, really; any thing useful they can do can be done better by other, less dangerous alternatives.

So I think we're on the same page so far as agreeing that religions should no longer be allowed to influence anything or anyone that doesn't choose to be part of the religion, and that religions aren't really necessary, or even useful. I think where we part ways is on what happens next.

You seem to be suggesting that because of the above, you want religions to just die off. But I say: why? If we have defanged them - removed their ability to do any harm to anyone that doesn't choose to be harmed by them - why not just leave them to exist? Why do they have to die off? Yes, they're useless, but so what? Being useless shouldn't be a death sentence. My position is: if people want to be part of a religion, then let them be. So long as the religion no longer has the power to harm those who don't choose to be part of it, there's no reason not to just leave it be. If a bunch of people choose to meet once a week in a building with colourful glass and sing and dance for the supposed amusement of an imaginary sky fairy, then... let 'em.

The key point for me is that religions should not be allowed any power or control over anyone or anything that doesn't choose to be part of the religion (which, as I explained, includes children). If that is true, then there's no reason for them to die off. If people still choose to be part of them, then leave them be. Because, why not?

The problem with religion, and especially with organized religion, is that "live and let live" tends not to be in its nature. If one truly believes, for example, that human life begins at conception, that all human life is sacred, and that we are charged by the divinity with the duty to protect it, how does one not seek the political power to stop abortions? Once a person is convinced he is privy to divinely revealed truth, it becomes very difficult to confine its influence to behavior within the four walls of one's house of worship. The ability to compartmentalize is often a bit atrophied among the faithful.

I don't advocate abolishing religion, but I do look forward to the day when it will wither away, at least in its organized incarnation.
The thing is, the role of religions in society can and does evolve. Two thousand years ago, it would have been unthinkably absurd for any nation not to have an official state religion with the head of state as the head of the religion. Now, we have countries that are explicitly secular, and many others that are secular in all but semantics, and religions have adapted to that (in the more civilized parts of the world, at least - there are some countries going backwards, like Egypt is currently). Once upon a time it would be unthinkable to publicize an idea about the nature of the universe that didn't jibe with the dominant religion, or at least get its tacit approval; now scientists can freely speculate on heretical ideas without being threatened with burning at the stake - religions have adapted, and you almost never hear of scientists fearing retribution from religions or of religions having the balls to threaten a scientist. Today, thanks to our increasingly multicultural societies, we have interfaith panels and services... things that never would have been dreamed about in the past.

So there's no reason that religions can't change to understand that while their members are free to have their own, strongly held beliefs, they cannot impose those beliefs on others, ever in any situation. There's no reason we couldn't have a world where religious beliefs are seen this way: no one would dare tell a believer they have to shave their beard if their religion demands they don't, but by the same token no believer would dare tell someone outside the religion that they can't abort their baby if they didn't want to carry it to term. You can't say it could never happen just because it looks unlikely now - two thousand years ago they would have said that a state without an official religion couldn't happen (because no one could rule without divine sanction), and they would have been wrong. The role of religion in society has changed before, and there's no reason it can't change again.

And if they can be changed that way - whether by choice or by force - then there is no reason they have to die off. Of course, if they can't change, or won't change - if they refuse to accept that those not in the religion are not under their control - then, yes, they have to go. But until we know for sure that they can't or won't change, there's no reason to write their death warrant. Let's give them a chance to adapt to the new world - and let's not give them to choice not to adapt - and see if they can do it, before we start planning to dance on their graves.

As I mentioned in another thread, if the guy that does my banking is a young-earth creationist, I really wouldn't care.  As long as he knows how to handle my finances (assuming, in this fantasy, that I had finances to handle in the first place...), I don't really care what he worships.  If that same person were instead a biology teacher, however, I'd have a very big problem with him teaching my kids that we all came from God and evolution's just a myth.  Similarly, if he decided to sell all my stock back in September because his beliefs convinced him the world would end on December 21st, he would not be doing a good job of dealing with my money.

The problem is that there's so many parts of this world where one's beliefs can skew their perception of reality and undermine their ability to think critically.  That is why I want everyone to make sure that whatever they believe in, they have good reasons to do so.  And if there suddenly were good reasons to believe in Christianity, I'd become a believer.  (Granted, I probably wouldn't actually worship him, since he'd have a lot of explaining to do for all the suffering he caused if he did create everything, but I'd at least acknowledge his existence.)
But those situations are not really cases of irrational thinking, they are cases of a failure to do the job they were supposed to do. Irrational thinking just happens to be the cause in your examples, but it is far from the only potential cause. There are many things you shouldn't do on the job, but you can do freely in private.

The teacher teaching creationism in a science class is an obvious violation of job requirements. If a teacher ever did that, they should be fired outright, and blacklisted from teaching ever again. But the thing is, if the teacher had been sleeping through classes and not teaching anything because they were flat-out drunk every day, it's the same thing, and should be handled the same way. But you wouldn't propose another prohibition on alcohol would you? Of course not. It's not the alcohol or the religion that is wrong, it's the fact that the job wasn't done properly because they showed up during work hours.

Similarly, you hired your stockbroker to use his training in finance to manage your finances - presumably after getting confirmation from him that he was properly trained and would manage your finances according to your aims and desires - then he dumped it all in anticipation of the rapture, he would be failing on all counts. He wouldn't be using the training you hired him to use, and he wouldn't be acting according to your wishes; he wasn't doing the job you hired him for. But again, although religion may have caused the wrong, religion itself wasn't the wrong; the same situation could be created because the stockbroker had a nervous breakdown and psychotic episode due to stress or a really bad reaction to something they ate.

Yes, religion can and does cause irrational thinking, and that irrational thinking could spill over into the workplace, but it is not impossible to compartmentalize. People do it all the time. We should expect that anyone hired to do a job will do that job properly, and if religion gets in the way, then it is no different from alcoholism or mental illness. The cause of the problem is irrelevant, all that is relevant is that the person does the job they were hired for properly, and if you have any reason to suspect that someone's religion will interfere with the job, you should either not hire them or monitor them carefully - same way you would handle alcoholism, mental illness, or any other potential problem you suspect.

I suppose if you want to compare religion to mental illness or substance addiction, and say that it must be "managed" the same way as those afflictions if the person is to function in modern society, that can work. We expect people that enjoy a drink to keep it off the job, and if they can't they get fired, so why can't we expect people to keep their religion off the job, and if they can't get they get fired? You can say, "but religious people can't keep it off the job", all you want, but the evidence of reality is that they can, and do - there are thousands of religious scientists, for example, like Francis Collins, and you can't really seriously argue that every teacher teaching evolution properly believes in it in a country where 46% of the population believes in creationism, and another 38% believes that evolution is a divine parlour trick. Just as we have responsible drinkers, we have responsible religious people. Perhaps what needs to change is not that religion should be made extinct - perhaps we should change our cultural and social standards of how religion should be responsibly practised.

Offline vtboy

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #437 on: December 27, 2012, 03:44:02 AM »

The thing is, the role of religions in society can and does evolve. Two thousand years ago, it would have been unthinkably absurd for any nation not to have an official state religion with the head of state as the head of the religion. Now, we have countries that are explicitly secular, and many others that are secular in all but semantics, and religions have adapted to that (in the more civilized parts of the world, at least - there are some countries going backwards, like Egypt is currently). Once upon a time it would be unthinkable to publicize an idea about the nature of the universe that didn't jibe with the dominant religion, or at least get its tacit approval; now scientists can freely speculate on heretical ideas without being threatened with burning at the stake - religions have adapted, and you almost never hear of scientists fearing retribution from religions or of religions having the balls to threaten a scientist. Today, thanks to our increasingly multicultural societies, we have interfaith panels and services... things that never would have been dreamed about in the past.

So there's no reason that religions can't change to understand that while their members are free to have their own, strongly held beliefs, they cannot impose those beliefs on others, ever in any situation. There's no reason we couldn't have a world where religious beliefs are seen this way: no one would dare tell a believer they have to shave their beard if their religion demands they don't, but by the same token no believer would dare tell someone outside the religion that they can't abort their baby if they didn't want to carry it to term. You can't say it could never happen just because it looks unlikely now - two thousand years ago they would have said that a state without an official religion couldn't happen (because no one could rule without divine sanction), and they would have been wrong. The role of religion in society has changed before, and there's no reason it can't change again.

And if they can be changed that way - whether by choice or by force - then there is no reason they have to die off. Of course, if they can't change, or won't change - if they refuse to accept that those not in the religion are not under their control - then, yes, they have to go. But until we know for sure that they can't or won't change, there's no reason to write their death warrant. Let's give them a chance to adapt to the new world - and let's not give them to choice not to adapt - and see if they can do it, before we start planning to dance on their graves.

I can't disagree that, since the Enlightenment, the power of religion to do evil has been significantly diminished in many parts of the world. Though I take considerable comfort from the fact that my town's central square has yet to host an auto-da-fe, it nevertheless still strikes me as fundamental to the teachings of most religions that adherents not only believe their nonsense but also act on it to one extent or another. For so long as we have religion, this characteristic, I think, establishes some irreducible minimum for its entanglement in governance.

Short of abolition, I don't see any way by which secular law may strip religion of all temporal power and influence. In a popular democracy which respects liberty of conscience, the same laws that stop my neighbor from escorting me to his church at gunpoint, also prevent me from taking away his children for teaching them they are stained with original sin and from invalidating his religiously mandated vote to eliminate government funding of stem cell research. Imperfect as the bargain may be, it seems the lesser evil.

This is not to say that the march of reason won't eventually persuade all of the folly of religious belief, at which time cathedrals and temples may be rededicated to money changing, prostitution and other more utilitarian purposes. But, that would represent the withering of religion to nothing, rather than recognition on the part of the faithful that religious belief must be excluded from the voting booth.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2012, 01:41:16 PM by vtboy »

Offline Skynet

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #438 on: January 07, 2013, 05:32:11 PM »
I'm not an atheist per se, although I might be depending upon one's definition.

I believe that the universe is capable of having a sapient creator.  However, if this is the case, such an entity might not be alive or a "God" in the human sense of the term.  I do not believe that the deities as imagined by human cultures exist, for much of their explanations about the afterlife, creation of the world, is heavily grounded in their specific cultural lens.

I'm more of an agnostic atheist.

As for religion and coercion, Christianity and Islam are prominent because their doctrine encourages the faithful to recruit as many people as possible.  This probably explains why they're the two largest groups, as opposed to the exclusive faiths which discourage proselytizing.  I think that the coercive influence of religious leaders influencing politics is part of the need to bring as many people into the fold.  I'm not saying that exclusive religions don't do this, only that the importance of conversion is a large factor into getting into people's private business.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2013, 05:34:26 PM by Skynet »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #439 on: January 07, 2013, 05:46:28 PM »
I was reading 'The Dancing Wu Li Masters' today - it's actually a book on quantum physics - and the chapter was talking about the whole 'observation/collapse of wave-forms' phenomenon.  In English that amounts to: 'until something is observed, there's no real way to tell what happened.' 

The question was posed: What is observing the universe?  The answer was: We are, and as we are part of the universe, it can be said that the universe is observing itself.

Offline Saria

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #440 on: January 08, 2013, 05:15:56 AM »
I can't disagree that, since the Enlightenment, the power of religion to do evil has been significantly diminished in many parts of the world. Though I take considerable comfort from the fact that my town's central square has yet to host an auto-da-fe, it nevertheless still strikes me as fundamental to the teachings of most religions that adherents not only believe their nonsense but also act on it to one extent or another. For so long as we have religion, this characteristic, I think, establishes some irreducible minimum for its entanglement in governance.
See, I think what you're saying is correct up until the last sentence, where you make what I think is an unjustified leap. I agree that most religions insist on adherents living the religion - not just "believing" it, but actually behaving in accordance with the rules of the religion - but I don't see I don't see any connection between that point and saying that adherents should feel justified in forcing others to be in accordance with their religion.

When I look at the rules written into the major religions, I see nothing in any of them about forcing others to follow their rules. Even if I focus on the religions that are most aggressive about controlling a whole society, I see that there are "escape clauses" that allow the adherents to live peacefully and tolerantly in pluralistic societies. Take Islam for example: Islam technically gives the rules to run a whole society top-to-bottom, from how the courts should be run to how people should poop. However, it also has "escape clauses" for the case of adherents that live in countries that are not structured in accordance with the Islamic rules... and among those rules are quite explicit instructions to play nice and don't try to force Islamic ideas on the society. Muslims that live in Western nations can be very devout Muslims in a non-Islamic society by taking advantage of these "escape clauses" - they can practice their Muslim religion openly (or in private) in any way the society allows, and they aren't under any obligation to try and institute sharia courts. That's how millions of Muslims live today, peacefully, in pluralistic societies.

And the same is true for any religion. Yes, religions do force adherents to behave in certain ways, and many do encourage adherents to proselytize to convert others... but they do not oblige adherents to force others to adhere to their religion's principles.

The problem you're thinking of is not a problem intrinsic to the religions, it's a social and cultural problem. The religion does not oblige adherents to cast their votes to turn their country into a theocracy. The fact that people think it does is a cultural issue, not a religious one.

Now, in some countries, it's culturally cool to wave your religion around like a flag, daring anyone to comment on it. In other countries, it is highly culturally discouraged. (A graphic example.) It's not that these countries oppress religion, but the culture has evolved the idea that religion is a very private and personal thing, and being loud-mouthed about it is quite rude. So what if a society's culture got the idea that while there's nothing wrong with being religious... it's very inappropriate to press it on others? In such a society, there wouldn't be many politicians running on religious platforms, and those that do would be considered quite fringe. And the average citizen wouldn't see voting as a way to express religious belief, and would use other things to make their decision (which could be anything from demonstrated administrative competence to the colour of the politician's skin - you don't need a perfect world for this society to exist; it could easily exist in today's world, with all its other problems intact).

So you see, we don't need to change religions (or destroy them) to stop them from trying to lord over the rest of us. That drive isn't in the religions themselves, it is in the way religions are viewed culturally. That's why we can have a country like Egypt which, even though it is like 80-90% Muslim, just barely over 50% of the population supports creating an Islamic state; clearly a big chunk of the Muslim population don't like the idea of forcing Islamic rules on others. If we can change the society's attitudes to make a society where having religion is accepted (I don't like the word "tolerated") and living religion is accepted, but where the very idea of even accidentally forcing others to obey your religion is horrifying, that should be good enough. That will give us a society where religion can continue to exist, and co-exist peacefully with other religions and no religion, and where we won't have issues with one religion or another trying to seize control of this or that issue.

Couldn't that work? Or am I way off base here? Assuming we could socially-engineer such attitudes into a society (which doesn't seem like a ridiculous idea), wouldn't that do the trick?

Short of abolition, I don't see any way by which secular law may strip religion of all temporal power and influence. In a popular democracy which respects liberty of conscience, the same laws that stop my neighbor from escorting me to his church at gunpoint, also prevent me from taking away his children for teaching them they are stained with original sin and from invalidating his religiously mandated vote to eliminate government funding of stem cell research. Imperfect as the bargain may be, it seems the lesser evil.
I don't think that's true. I think that's also a case of social perception. And I think the key word there is "his". "His" means very different things depending on the context.

Let me demonstrate by rewording your point, and repeating it three times. But each time I repeat it, I'm going to change the subject - just one word! Watch what happens:
  • In a free and just society, no one should be able to prevent a person from taking his laptop - not capable of making decisions - to the church of his choice, programming them with his beliefs, and making them follow the rules of his religion.
  • In a free and just society, no one should be able to prevent a person from taking his neighbour - not capable of making decisions - to the church of his choice, programming them with his beliefs, and making them follow the rules of his religion.
  • In a free and just society, no one should be able to prevent a person from taking his child - not capable of making decisions - to the church of his choice, programming them with his beliefs, and making them follow the rules of his religion.
Now, there is clearly something very different about the first two cases. Obviously the first case is true. There is no rational argument against letting someone take their laptop - which is their property - and programming it to follow the rules of his religion (for example, to automatically censor images, never use the name of God and display prayers five times a day, and so on). But there's something very, very problematic about the second case: no one would say that someone has the right to take their neighbour who is mentally disabled (ie, not capable of making decisions for themselves), and indoctrinate them with their religion.

What's happening here is that "his" performs multiple duties in English. It indicates both possession and relation (among other things). "His book" and "his brother" involve two entirely different concepts. In the first case, saying "his book" means that the book is his property, and he controls it and has full responsibility for it - and if you do anything with it without his permission, you're in the wrong. In the second case, saying "his brother" does not mean that the brother is his property, or that he controls it or even has any responsibility for it - and if I choose to do anything with someone's brother, that someone has no damn business knowing about it, or saying anything about it. "His brother" merely describes a relationship.

In the example I gave above, "his laptop" clearly means possession - he owns the laptop and can do with it whatever he likes. Meanwhile, "his neighbour" most certainly does not mean possession - he cannot simply decide to take his disabled neighbour and indoctrinate them. "His neighbour" just refers to a relationship, not ownership.

So my challenge to you is: what does "his" mean in the third case? Does it mean the child is his possession? Or does it merely describe a relation? Is the third case more like the first - where the subject is a possession of the person - or the second - where the subject is another person (albeit a person not capable of making decisions for themselves) who is not "owned" by the person (and the "his" just describes a relationship)?

You see, if you say that he has the right to indoctrinate the child however he pleases, then you're saying the child is more like a possession - like the laptop - than a person - like the neighbour. Think about that.

Personally, I don't put the child in the same category as the guy's other possessions - I put the neighbour and the child in the same category. They're both people, not possessions, and while both are incapable of making decisions on their own, that doesn't mean that their neighbours, their brothers, their aunts, their cable provider - anyone who can claim a "his" (or "her" relationship with them) - have a right to make decisions for them. The case for all people incapable of making decisions on their own - whether they're actual children or just mentally and psychologically equivalent to children - should be the same: the society should set universal standards for care and education - they shouldn't be set by whoever happens to hold the figurative leash. So we should be able to say to anyone raising a child - whether they're a biological parent, an adopted one, or an employee at an institution for kids with no home - that they can't deny the child a proper education, and they can't psychologically torment the child with visions of Hell. That is not a violation of anyone's freedom, because no one really has the freedom to treat people like possessions. That is protecting the freedom of the child (and the mentally disabled neighbour, to boot) - they should not be denied their right to a proper education, and freedom from abuse, including psychological abuse.

It's a radically different way to think, I know. But we've already taken enormous strides in that direction.

I was reading 'The Dancing Wu Li Masters' today - it's actually a book on quantum physics - and the chapter was talking about the whole 'observation/collapse of wave-forms' phenomenon.  In English that amounts to: 'until something is observed, there's no real way to tell what happened.' 

The question was posed: What is observing the universe?  The answer was: We are, and as we are part of the universe, it can be said that the universe is observing itself.
Ah... honestly... that all sounds like complete nonsense. In fact, it sounds like a very popular form of nonsense, which is just new age mysticism wrapped up in sciencey-sounding language by sticking the word "quantum" in front of it - the kind of thing that hucksters like Deepak Chopra sell.

There are hundreds of frauds and pseudoscientists making nonsense arguments about wavefunction collapse and the observer effect in quantum mechanics... with the catch being that the observer effect in quantum physics is something entirely different, and completely unrelated, to the observer effect everywhere else in science. Most of them are pulling a fast one using equivocation about the idea of observation and measurement. The language of quantum physics talks about observers and measurement... but when the pseudoscientists pushing their books get their mitts on it, you get a case of "you keep using that word - I don't think it means what you think it does." There is no need for an observer to observe a wavefunction. "Observing" a quantum event doesn't mean that some sapient intelligence has to "see" it. The wavefunction of a quark can be "observed" - in quantum physics terms - by another quark that gets entangled with it. In other words, if you have an electron way out in intergalactic space - millions of light years away from any sapient "eyes" - that electron's wavefunction could be collapsed by a stray photon that hits it. The photon observes the electron, and collapses its wavefunction (and vice versa). No "being" actually observes anything; "observe" is used analogously, not literally. To interpret "observer" as used in quantum mechanics to mean the same thing that "observer" means in common language ("someone who observes"), and concluding that the universe must therefore have someone watching it, is about as ridiculous as doing the same for "actor" as used in computing, and concluding that actors in computer software must therefore have six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon.

The charlatans like to pick on this word - "observe" - and use it in a literal sense to argue for various nonsense, like that God must exist, or that the universe is conscious, and so on and so forth, but it's all just a sneaky trick. Quantum physicists only use the word in analogy, not in a literal sense. Indeed, even if there were no intelligence anywhere in the universe - or outside of it - observing things, wavefunctions would still be collapsing (or appear to be) just as much as they are now. If you think about it, how could it possibly make sense that collapse requires consciousness to observe? Because:
  • If wavefunction collapse required a sapient observer, how did wavefunctions collapse before sapience evolved in the universe?
  • And if wavefunctions didn't collapse before sapience evolved, then how could sapience have evolved at all? (Indeed, how could any specific event have happened?)
  • The common answer among the new age mystics pushing this stuff is that "the universe itself is conscious" - which is really just a sciencey-sounding way of saying "Goddidit" (or, more specifically, "God" is the sapience doing the observations to cause wavefunction collapse before sapience evolved in the universe). But if that is true, and the universe (or "God") is observing and collapsing wavefunctions, then how could there be any uncollapsed wavefunctions anywhere?
  • Is the universe (or "God") selectively deciding which stuff to observe and to not observe in such a precise way as to make all our experiments work the same way every time?
See? It all makes no sense.

I can try to explain wavefunctions, wavefunction collapse, measurement, decoherence, Schrödinger's cat and all that in a non-mystical way, but it would take a while, and get really complicated - especially if I get into explaining all the alternate hypotheses. Not to mention that this is all still cutting-edge physics, so there's still a lot we don't understand. I will if you'd like, though, and I think it's worth it because there's some really freaky stuff in the real science (like how about experiments that show you can send messages backward in time!!!), but for now, from just the conclusion you mention about us observing the universe having something to do with wavefunction collapse, it sure sounds to me that that book would be of more value in the bathroom after Mexican dinner night than as reading material.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #441 on: January 08, 2013, 10:51:27 AM »
It's certainly a great deal more simplified that Dr. Susskind's lectures, but it's actually quite a bit more in-depth than the excerpt I gave, while still remaining accessible to the lay-person.  As the topic of atheism is more philosophical than anything else, that just happened to be the bit I found relevant. 

Judging any book on a two-sentence anecdote is just asking for sampling error.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2013, 10:52:35 AM by Oniya »

Offline band in the rain

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #442 on: January 24, 2013, 10:34:26 PM »
I have a little confession for all you who browse this thread...

I'm rather glad I'm an atheist, not just because I feel free of being spied on by some sky deity, that I'm totally free to be myself and not have my happiness rely on whether or not there is a god, or an afterlife.

No, because I know, that were there ever proof there was a god, I would find myself hating him/her/it. That's often times my problem with any one religions god, "how in the HELL can you love something like that? On that note, how can you claim that it loves you? Look at the shitty things in your life that weren't even your fault? Or the people who suffer and die before they get a chance to do something with themselves, what did they do to deserve this? HOW?! How is that love? Were it a person doing it to you, it would be called abuse, downright sadism in most cases, but since it's a deity, it's love?"

I cannot help be feel utterly bewildered at this, I cannot stand any deity that is proposed to be all powerful and all loving while the shit that happens in this world happens, things that aren't even human induced. (e.g. Natural disasters, cancer, disease, genetic disorders, etc)

I fight with it constantly when talking to people who believe, whom not only believe, but feel strongly that they need this being that I find to be nothing more than a giant cosmic bully. It's like Stockholm syndrome, but with some dude/duddete we've never even seen or have proof of, it's the world's biggest enigma. Cruel people I can understand, they're petty people in a limiting world with petty dreams and petty means, but something with the power to make it all better, choosing not too, or making it worse?

No thank you ma'am!

/rant

This. I'm going to keep the phrase "cosmic Stockholm syndrome" in mind from now on. Way too close to the mark for some people's outlook.

Offline Braioch

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #443 on: January 24, 2013, 11:23:22 PM »
I totally forgot about that post and made myself giggle reading it.

Now I have coined the phrase ::)

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #444 on: January 25, 2013, 09:37:27 AM »
This comes down to this for me: Science can prove by science how the world and universe work, or can demonstrate theories that if we cannot directly study the issue say Black Holes can make a sound position or say honestly we don't know. Religions in the main cannot prove the "Divine" Theory with the same evidence and methods so its outside our realm of knowing for the moment. So why support if rational the weaker position as fact.

If one chooses to believe as an act of faith then fine but its not to me a rational view supported by the data we have.


Offline Saria

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #445 on: January 31, 2013, 09:44:26 AM »
Wow... just... wow.

So... Jessica Ahlquist. If you don't know who she is, you should read up on her and the Cranston high school prayer banner thing. It's a horrific and depressing story, made even worse by the stuff being said to and about Jessica (in some cases by state representatives!) since the court case ended. Christian love means, apparently, "you'll be needing a police escort from now on".

If you've heard the Jessica Ahlquist story you've probably already cried more than once at the evil vindictiveness and outright ignorance she's had to deal with. Well, brace yourself.

Apparently after Jessica won the court case, the Freedom From Religion Foundation tried to send her a congratulatory bouquet of flowers. Guess what happened. You'll never guess. Not one single florist contacted in Cranston would deliver flowers to Jessica Ahlquist. Yeah. Really.

Now, if you're a charitable soul like me, you're probably thinking, "well, maybe they just refused because they didn't want their business to come under the same threats and attacks that she has to deal with". It's depressing, but plausible, that that could happen. I mean, if the haters are willing to target a 16 year-old high school student (rather than the judges who actually made the decision, and thus should be the targets of any criticism of the decision, but it's just easier to terrorize a high school kid) then a flower shop would certainly seem to be at risk of being targeted, too. It would be nice if we could believe that's why the flower shops said no, and that's what the FFRF assumed at first, before they decided to press the issue.

But no, the flower shop owners have been very clear: they chose to refuse delivery to Jessica. One of them said: "It's my freedom of speech. I refuse orders when I want and I take orders when I want... I just chose not to do it. Nothing personal, it was a choice I made. It was my right, so I did that. I'm an independent owner and I can choose whoever I want, whenever I want." Naturally the FFRF pointed out that Rhode Island law disagrees with flower shop owner's expert legal opinion, and, in fact, does not allow businesses to discriminate based on race, religion, and some other things as they please. Some of the florists agreed to go to mediation under the state's Commission for Human Rights, but one of them said she wanted to go to court. To which the FFRF said, "bring it on".

Which leaves me saying... wow... just... wow.

Refusing to deliver flowers?!?! Seriously? I mean, the hate mail and nasty tweets - even the sniping by lawmakers in the state - that was all bad stuff, but... refusing to deliver flowers? That's about as petty and pointlessly vindictive as you can get. And for what? What exactly is so bad or distasteful about Jessica Ahlquist that you can't even bring yourself to deliver dead fucking foliage to her? What next, religious people? Gonna put only one pickle slice instead of two in her burger? Gonna refuse to hand her the receipt, and make her reach across and pull it out of the register herself? Gonna do the "pretend she's not there" thing whenever she's around?

Offline band in the rain

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #446 on: January 31, 2013, 07:48:46 PM »
Wow... just... wow.

So... Jessica Ahlquist. If you don't know who she is, you should read up on her and the Cranston high school prayer banner thing. It's a horrific and depressing story, made even worse by the stuff being said to and about Jessica (in some cases by state representatives!) since the court case ended. Christian love means, apparently, "you'll be needing a police escort from now on".

If you've heard the Jessica Ahlquist story you've probably already cried more than once at the evil vindictiveness and outright ignorance she's had to deal with. Well, brace yourself.

Apparently after Jessica won the court case, the Freedom From Religion Foundation tried to send her a congratulatory bouquet of flowers. Guess what happened. You'll never guess. Not one single florist contacted in Cranston would deliver flowers to Jessica Ahlquist. Yeah. Really.

Now, if you're a charitable soul like me, you're probably thinking, "well, maybe they just refused because they didn't want their business to come under the same threats and attacks that she has to deal with". It's depressing, but plausible, that that could happen. I mean, if the haters are willing to target a 16 year-old high school student (rather than the judges who actually made the decision, and thus should be the targets of any criticism of the decision, but it's just easier to terrorize a high school kid) then a flower shop would certainly seem to be at risk of being targeted, too. It would be nice if we could believe that's why the flower shops said no, and that's what the FFRF assumed at first, before they decided to press the issue.

But no, the flower shop owners have been very clear: they chose to refuse delivery to Jessica. One of them said: "It's my freedom of speech. I refuse orders when I want and I take orders when I want... I just chose not to do it. Nothing personal, it was a choice I made. It was my right, so I did that. I'm an independent owner and I can choose whoever I want, whenever I want." Naturally the FFRF pointed out that Rhode Island law disagrees with flower shop owner's expert legal opinion, and, in fact, does not allow businesses to discriminate based on race, religion, and some other things as they please. Some of the florists agreed to go to mediation under the state's Commission for Human Rights, but one of them said she wanted to go to court. To which the FFRF said, "bring it on".

Which leaves me saying... wow... just... wow.

Refusing to deliver flowers?!?! Seriously? I mean, the hate mail and nasty tweets - even the sniping by lawmakers in the state - that was all bad stuff, but... refusing to deliver flowers? That's about as petty and pointlessly vindictive as you can get. And for what? What exactly is so bad or distasteful about Jessica Ahlquist that you can't even bring yourself to deliver dead fucking foliage to her? What next, religious people? Gonna put only one pickle slice instead of two in her burger? Gonna refuse to hand her the receipt, and make her reach across and pull it out of the register herself? Gonna do the "pretend she's not there" thing whenever she's around?

Well, no book, can substitute for a real moral compass, sensibility or class for that matter. What is inside is far more important than the pious veneer that's put up over it.

Offline Skynet

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #447 on: January 31, 2013, 09:52:24 PM »
What makes it worse is that a State Representative took sides against the poor girl and called her "an evil little thing."

If Jesus were alive today, he'd be dismayed at all the evil committed in his name... :'(

Offline Oniya

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #448 on: February 01, 2013, 12:13:18 PM »
Well, no book, can substitute for a real moral compass, sensibility or class for that matter. What is inside is far more important than the pious veneer that's put up over it.

True enough.  I like to ask the 'simulated wood-grain' righteous if they've actually read the 'red words'.  (A common printing practice for Bibles is to put the words attributed to Jesus in red text.)

Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #449 on: February 04, 2013, 09:43:26 AM »
Atheist SuperBowl Commercial - Best Commercial At The SuperBowl!

Just found this on Facebook. At first, I was pretty impressed that this was on the SUPERBOWL and was expecting some massive backlash, but now I'm finding out it's a Scientology commercial that's been edited.

Which sucks, because it's a really good commercial and just slapping the word 'Atheism' on the end somehow worked.