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Author Topic: Religion and the Declaration of Morality  (Read 4573 times)

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Offline Fury AphrodisiaTopic starter

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Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« on: August 07, 2017, 02:05:50 PM »
Over the last year, I've been watching the words of Essence of Thought on YouTube. I appreciate his work which is generally responsible, highly cited, largely peer reviewed and with all that in mind, I admit that he has a penchant to be very rough on the concept of religion.

Generally speaking, I am against the concept of religion being something that is discussed in any forum that decides what is permitted in secular society, in education, in the medical field, etc. However, I am a proponent for allowing people to believe as they will, so long as it remains a basis for their own integrity and moral compass, not something that is decided on behalf of others. The controversy here comes about in many ways, from the argument on abortion, Creationism taught in schools, the hijab and marriage rights. As a secular humanist, as an athiest, as someone who believes in science above all unsustainable personal beliefs and free of opinion bias, I often find myself frustrated with the insistence of others that, aside from their ability (or inability) to debate religion in any reasonable setting, they are subject to a higher power and need not follow the rules of the land.

Wasn't is Jesus himself who said "Give to Cesar what is Cesar's and give to God what is His alone"? This in response to whether a man should pay taxes or not. (*Taps microphone* "Did you hear that, Mister Trump?") Despite the fallicies and faults of the Holy Bible as touted by the Judeo-Christian church, it is clear about obeying the law of the land as well as that of Jesus, so long as they do not contradict each other. In many places, the Bible even points out that Christians aren't called to judge the validity of the actions of others and what they might be allowed, but to look to their own follow of the commandments instead. In fact, it was even stated that Jesus came to turn members of the family against each other and cause division. That, to me, implies that we are STILL not meant to judge others, even if they are in our own family. The Christian philosophy, at its core, is meant to be "Be nice to everyone, ya pricks, or God's gonna getcha."

One of the most prominent examples of a discussion had recently was on Facebook, where someone posted a link to a particularly nasty article that I could, at first, not believe existed. But when I chased it down, of course it was from a pro-Trump, anti-Islam, anti-refugee, borderline White Nationalist, unapologetically biased, anti-Obama, conservative news outlet on Facebook whose tagline is "We're here to take a stand against the LYIN' media. Follow us for the real, conservative truth that you'll NEVER see on TV." Apparently they are associated with the Western Tribune, and are running a lot of "stir the pot" hate pieces lately.

Anyway, mostly the point was that I got tired of seeing this sort of rhetoric, so I started in on the case, challenging the information in the original piece. At first, I did not attack people nor point fingers about opinions, only spoke to the nature of the dishonesty in the initial information. But... of course... someone had to step in and throw down. I was ever so glad it was the OP. So, so glad. it allowed me to have a conversation that went something like this.

Dishonest Understanding of the Transgender Community
http://www.westerntribune.com/johns-hopkins-dr-transgenderism-mental-illness-tcooney/  from "Right Daily" Facebook group

Cites: http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/michael-w-chapman/johns-hopkins-psychiatrist-transgender-mental-disorder-sex-change


Me: This sort of article and statement are why humanity are okay abusing each other, I guess. This is terrible.

It completely fails to take into account that not only are suicide rates higher for a particular subset (namely those from religious households where their family was unsupportive) but then proceeds to cherry-pick and misrepresent the data.

The truth of those studies was not that seventy five to eighty percent spontaneously lost feelings, but that no gender reassignment speciality takes on children of a pre-puberty age for consideration of gender reassignment. Instead, they undergo a long process of psychological evaluation looking for very particular signs.

The idea it's a mental illness is ludicrous, since they must have letters of evaluation of a significant duration from I believe two separate specialist psychologists and a general psychologist. If I'm not incorrect, the time frame must be of a length no less than two years and cannot be evaluated in tandem before they can even begin hormone therapy.

Want to know what IS a very REAL mental illness? Body disphoria. I am far more convinced that is what this highly educated person was referring to and extremist traditionalists are more interested in spinning it to serve their oppressive religious purposes than actually being possessed of any sort of integrity.

There's a reason the overwhelming majority of educated medical professionals in the secular community (upwards of 90% last I checked though the official number escapes me at the moment) agree on the nature and treatment for trandgender individuals.

This article is nothing more than pandering garbage.



Him: I wouldn't call this man's article garbage. I think he makes a lot of sense. I believe God gave us our gender is Caitlyn Jenner really happier now?

Me: That's not for me to judge, that's Jenner's life. See, that's the problem with religion: It's so wrapped up in deciding others' lives that it misses the point.

But your beliefs aren't necessary here. This isn't about religion, it's scientifically measureable. It's like the climate change "conversation". Luckily, science doesn't have to care what your opinion is, it can still be proven incorrect. Your religion is not welcome here.

If they're going to try to cite "facts" to aid their deluded point, I'm going to point them out for the complete lack of integrity and wholly conscious pandering to lies. Simple as that.

When religion makes a justifiable, sustainable argument that bears up to scrutiny, then it'll be a real conversation. Until then, they're just trying to control people and the rational world isn't having it.

Still not sure why the religious feel like it's their business to be once again up in peoples' genitals. :/

Him: To hide one's head in the ground and say that's Jenner's life and to care less about another person's state is real self centered. So my question remains "is Caitlyn Jenner really happier now?"

Me: And my insistence remains that it's not my ob to find out if she's happier now. It's none of my business. That's between her, her therapist and exactly no one else. From what she's said, she is, so it's up to exactly no one else to pass judgement.

See, I can CARE about her life without having to JUDGE their life and deciding I am qualified to do so is miles more self-centered than simply leaving her alone and letting. Her live her life without interference.

You don't care about her mental state, don't feed me that. You just want her to live her life as you believe she should, which is simply arrogant and condescending.

In short: No one needs to care what your qustion remains, it is utterly irrelevant to the discussion at hand. Life is not about you.

Him: You assume too much. Do not putwords in my mouth. If a good friend does a major body....  life.... changing action and you glibly say "I don't care....it is your life.... Do as you want. You would make a very poor "good samaritan" .... but you might want it that way. Let the poor @#$%^&* die. he is free to so do.

Him: Of sourse my question is not valid to you. You have created a template of human living that does not care what anyone does.

Him: They can go to hell as far as you are concerned. Too cool.....too much pot.

Me: How dare you sir, insinuate that my understanding of human nature somehow mirrors yours? Or some nonsense about marijuana. You were not asking about a good friend, you were asking about someone I am not associated with, so your not-so-clever distraction is twice as faulty for your own dishonest representation.

If a good friend is happier once they have undergone reassignment, there is nothing to save them from. The samaritan helped someone who was noticeable in trouble in a way that person would jot have denied. Trying to force my mindset on another person whethey they want it or not "for their own good" isn't being a good samaritan, it is being a dictator. Not even your supposedgod is that bad. Does he not allow people to come to him on their own? What makes you more important than your god and more capable of passing judgement?

The instances of transgender individuals committing suicide is MUCH lower than those who do not undergo the surgery because they are simply denied (not taking into account the numbers for whom the aurgery was seen as not recommended to avoid skewing results). The higher numbers are from those who's families are unsupportive. Of the two of us, who is most likely under that light to invoke a suicidal response?

I do care what people do, forbinstance I care that your rhetoric is hateful and subjugating. The difference is I'm not going to try to force someone into living the way I think they should. These are adult people and you have no right to judge FOR them whether they are happy or not. Unless you are employed to be their personal therapist, you cannot override their claims of being hapoy: you simply are not capable. And thatis not a dig at you. I am not capable either, nor is any other human being that has ever lived. To insinuate that I do not care when you are the one propagating this ugly insistence that you know better than another person how they feel is so incredibly backward it doesn't surprise me it comes from a religious conservative.

Your own doctrine says "judge not, lest ye be judged: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of god." So, what makes you so important you can just skip that part and go straight for pointing judgemental fingers to decide for yourself what the fate of another should be?

Dhame on you, sir, for using arguments that are unfitting for a child a fifth of your age.

Him: Ashlynn Baldwin Insults insults... when you have no argument then insult your opponent. Clear observation can let one know if a decision of a person is affection them in a bad way. To not be concerned is sub human.

Unfortunately, this is where he blocked me from his page and deleted my comments, so I suspect he knows that he's on a lost leg here. Still... what the hell, people, why does this mindset persist?

Me: Ah, so you simply remove my comments, do you? Luckily I still have screen shots.

Him: I apologise for the "delete: That was a mistake. I was just lookiing you up on Google to reconnect. we can continue if you want though I lost most of the content.

Me: Don't worry, I still have your last message. "Insults, insults.... When you have no argument then insult your opponent. Clear observation can let one know if a decision of a person is affection them in a bad way. To not be concerned is sub human."

Me: To which I was about to respond...

Me: Says the man who decided I am apparently keen for people to go to hell (a place I do not believe exists) and that accused me of smoking pot. I return in kind the measure I receive, sir. I am not certain what of that you saw to be insulting, but that is quite telling.

Clearly, observation does this argument no good, since you are not capable or are not willing to cincede that the transgender community has been asking the religious right to kindly leave them alone for many years now. Once again I reiterate that your judgement of another person is irrelevant. If you are concerned for someone you know, I suggest doing the humane thing: offer them help. Pay for a therapist, provide numbers to help hotlines, drive them to a support group. Nothing you have stated so far is a valid plan of support. Instead of attacking and maginalizing them as victims of a mental illness simply because of a scientifically acknowledged phenomenon, I would suggest reaching out to them, having a conversation and working with them to establish a solution and realizing when professional support is necessary.

Posting passive-aggressive non-peer0reviewed interviews with discredited and un-researched conclusions is helping no one but hte egos of a certain few.

Also, to insinuate that I am sub-human does your intellect no favours, sir.

Him: (Allan Dale Bowen) I can not help but care for a person... friend or brief acquaintance who appears to be heading for trouble by a decision they have taken. To impose help.... NO. To offer YES. Perhaps we, in general, are not that far from each other in this aspect? " If you are concerned for someone you know, I suggest doing the humane thing: offer them help. Pay for a therapist, provide numbers to help hotlines, drive them to a support group. " ....totally agree.

Me: In that case, asking me if Caitlyn Jenner is truly happy was a misleading question. I don't know her, so the question is at best irrelevant and at worst, a red herring.

However, if someone is happy in their new life, if I see no reason to be concerned, then it's a moo point. The article cited is misleading for misrepresenting the data garbered from multiple, peer-reviewed studies on the subject. They claim that there's no difference when that's only half the truth. There is no difference between people that have the reassignment surgery and those that don't...

... Where they are unsupported by family and to a lesser extent, friends.

Seventy five to eighty percent of cildren taken for evaluation eventually grow out of those dismorphic feelings...

... Which is why professional psychological assessment of children too young to know is necessary before they're so much as recommended for further psychological evaluation leading up to surgery.

None of our recent acquiescence changes my initial point, but I do hope that it helps to clarify.

Him: I think my question about M. Jenner is a fair question as he/she has put himself out in the public to promote gender change.

Me: I know you do. So, if you want me to make a judgement, you will have to first point out what pieces of evidence I would have to be working off of. I would have had to have paid any remote attention to them before or after HER gendder reveal. I would have to have some idea of their mindset beforehand and some idea of her mindset now. Otherwise, I simply cannot comment, because I don't know. I do not kbow her or her circumstances. She has people looking out for her. It's not my place to offer an opinion on whom I do not know.

And for the record, she is not promoting gender change, that's not how it works. She's not saying "change your gender, it'll be fun!" All she has said is that it's important to not attack people and spread maliciousness or attempt to judge someone in her position.

It's literally the transgender community doing as I've said before: asking nicely for others to leave them alone.

In fact, why don't we lay aside Caitlyn Jenner and use another example. Can you name another transgender individual? Why don't we discuss them? In fact, we can even make it a celebrity if you prefer, and disciss their situation.

(I was going to bring up Laverne Cox, largely because I'll bet the sixty three year old straight white man has no clue who Laverne Cox is, because she didn't start out looking like he (OP) did.)

(Half an hour later, when most comments have been five minutes or less in the exchange)

Him: Unfortunately, a public figure's actions are widely followed and intentionally or inadvertently influence others to follow suit and others to be not in favor.

Me: I can agree with this. However, stating definitively that they are promoting gender change is an infactual statement.

However, you have not replied to the bulk of my proposal.

Him: We will disagree on this .... just being a public causes one to promote what one says, wears, attends etc. A gender change by a public figure can not help but promote

Me: If I saw as many people fighting the promotion of Trump's tax dodge ("Give to Cesar what is Cesar's and to God what is God's" in response to a tax question), fighting the outright verbal encouragement of sexual assault and the use of credit cards ("Neither borrower nor lender be"), I'd be inclined maybe to accept a viewpoint against gender reassignment surgery as valid, even though god nor Jesus never said a word about it.

And you still haven't addressed my suggestion. If you are keen to have me pass judgement on the life and happiness of a transgender celebrity, why not choose a different example? I might have better luck with someone else?

Me: Also, I would like to cite http://www.baltimoresun.com/health/bal-johns-hopkins-transgender-20170406-story.html

It turns out that this man's comments are decades outdated, being dredged up to support some political point and even he maintains aren't keeping up with current science.

Me: This was published in 2016, where the article you cited looks to be from 2015, possibly before that. Checking now.

Me: Okay, the initial Western Tribune article cited was from July 10th 2017, I'll grant that. However, the article to which they linked was published in 2015, more than two years ago, and has subsequently been discredited by colleagues and the University at large since then.

(Last comment from my opponent was 47 mins ago, by this point.)


I got a few screenshots, but not before the person "accidentally" deleted the comments that showed him losing his temper before the drastic tonal change.

Basically, my question is why do we still think like this? Why are there so many self-absorbed people (before I get those comments, I know they come from self-righteous people on both sides of the political debates, they come from everyone who decides they have the personal authority to try to force others to live by their life without supporting evidence or... you know... the right to do so) so dead-set on the concept of living by religion or some other equally indoctrinated principle. Does anyone else have examples of morality denied by those examples of religious individuals that seem unfair?

One of my "favourites" recently is the insistence that not only did morality begin with Christianity (I know, I'm hating on them a lot lately, but it is the most prominent example I have, given my locale. And also, here's a hint, that's not where morality began) but that Athiests don't have a right to claim they have any morality because by definition, they are morally bankfupt.

I also kinda loathe the argument that everyone must live by their example because they are the purest example of humanity and everyone else must be guided like children, or the most extreme being that no one should be able to vote unless they are registered to a Christian church. (Yeah, I heard that one and I had to walk away because this person was just so incredibly unhinged. Unfortunately, I couldn't go far, since it was a family Christmas dinner.

Offline Fury AphrodisiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2017, 10:44:50 AM »
Update!

While he has offered no further proof of anything he has said (no cited sources by anything aside from religious texts), he has also flat-out refused to answer anything directly. At one point, he recreuited someone who flat-out asked me why I couldn't believe god. Believing there might be something to be gained by this instead of the constant insults (*name redacted* Has no life, is wasting hers, cause she's a moron who won't listen to the ONE TRUTH OF GOD", etc.), I mentioned that I could not understand a god of perfect love that condoned, supported and even ordered the mass murder and rape of prisoners of war.

And then, what cinched the deal.

"Well, maybe when you're raped you'll see the glory of god.

Any takers?"

After an hour of no responses from anyone one way or another, he just said "I didn't think so. Not for YOU."

I'm not sure how to take his latter comments (though I'm certain it's no good), the gall of the former is insurmountable. To be clear, I know that this isn't all of Christianity. It's not of religion or any faith. But how does a mentality that works to this conclusion believe itself to be the equal of science or humanism in any way? How can they live with themselves and still believe in a "perfectly loving god"?

Offline Cookie

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2017, 11:54:10 AM »


On the article:  Yeah I've seen McHugh comments being shouted around again lately, usually in less than savory corners of the internet (though not always, people are welcome to read whatever opinions they like of course), usually prefaced with "ha here's what a Dr thinks". McHugh is welcome to his professional opinions, but as you noted it goes against prevailing evidence.  The problem with seeing transgender identities as a: "mental disorder that merits treatment" is that's been tried and fails miserably, essentially it's conversion therapy. 

As for why people draw an inflexible morality from religion?  I'd say they learn their religion (usually in childhood) it gives them something in their lives, they draw strength from it, and having an inflexible interpretation gives them the satisfaction of feeling right, which is nice. Of course that's a problem when there's a moralising outward preachy tone and a drive to get their beliefs enacted in politics, it's somewhat inherent to certain belief systems.

Those petulant, vile comments at the end are just a bad example of lashing out online. It doesn't sit well with 'love thy neighbor' and all that, but people aren't that consistent really.

Offline Fury AphrodisiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2017, 12:00:14 PM »
I've met some wonderful examples of Christianity, who recognize that their morality is meant to be internally focused, a guideline for what believers are meant to do or not do. Those people are examples of caompassion, most of them reasonable and understand that science is not an internally-focused practice.

More to the point, they don't have a belief that morality can only exist in their religion and that everyone else is a morally-bankrupt Mad Max interpretation.

Offline Fury AphrodisiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2017, 12:28:21 PM »
I posted this somewhere on my own Facebook wall (wasn't being antagonistic, left no caption, singled no one out).



For whatever reason, I was inundated with comments from people on my mom's super-religious co-worker's friends list.

Things like "Spreading lies" and "Abusing our children with evolution" and just... so on and so forth. At this point, my question is "Is there even a way to discuss reality with people who refuse to believe there is any other possibility in said reality?

Offline Oniya

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2017, 01:23:13 PM »
You can discuss things with the honestly confused.  The ones that have dug in - no.

Case in point - I was up at my mother-in-law's last month, and one of the new Planet of the Apes movies was on the TV.  She literally asked me why there were still monkeys if humans evolved from apes.  (This is a 75+ year old woman.)  I was able to explain it using examples from agriculture:  There are still wild grapes even though we have bred those into Concord grapes.  If you don't weed your garden, you can find wild carrots (Queen Anne's Lace) growing next to your regular carrots.  There are still wild strawberries even though we've developed the big juicy ones you find at the supermarket.  She got it.

Offline Iniquitous

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2017, 01:32:49 PM »
Fury, from my experience, there is no discussion with those that think it is their way or no way.  Anyone who is close minded will not be able to accept anything that does not match their beliefs.  My parents are great examples of this.  It has reached a point where there are certain things that are never, ever discussed between the three of us (politics, religion, abortion - basically anything that they have a strong stance on.) because they can't force me to believe as they do and it is impossible for me to open the tiniest crack in their close mindedness.

Sure, it has caused me to bite my tongue more than I care to admit, but the arguments just aren't worth it - and my dad gets REALLY pissed when I laugh at his opinions (last time I did that he told me I should move to Russia ... he was so pissed he didn't even realize how stupid that comment was in relation to my telling him that he should move to Russia if he was fine with the government having access to all his personal information.)

Offline NotoriusBEN

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2017, 10:59:41 PM »
If you all are open to it, I'd suggest listening to Jordan Peterson's lectures on youtube.
The two series that ive been listening to are his "2017 Personality and its Transformation" and "The Psychological Significance of Biblical Stories". Id start with the 2017 stuff and listen to it a few times because there is a lot to get your head around. Be aware these are both like 20 hour series so there is a lot there.

The man is a practicing clinician in therapy and a social scientist. He goes about these discussions and put forth a lot of thought and effort into the ideas presented, and they seem pretty solid to me. By explaining the idea of God and Christianity rationally, it might help you understand where most religious folks are coming from, even if they cant articulate that idea very well, tactfully, and respectfully, or lack there of...

Im not looking to try and convert or anything. You got your beliefs and i got mine and we can still have a conversation together, Id hope.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2017, 11:30:24 PM »
Honestly, I do not need to listen to some lecture to understand where the vast majority of believers are coming from.  My personal experience is that very, very few actually know the bible, even less actually follow the teachings of their deity.

The whole thing of this thread is the fact that the vast majority of christians have this inane belief that if a person is not christian then they cannot possibly be moral.  Which is bullshit (and puts those professing to be christian right smack afoul of one of the bible's tenets - not to judge).

I don't mean to come across as snarky here, but I cannot begin to count how many times I have been told 'oh you just don't understand' or 'no, you misunderstand christianity'.  No. I don't.  Just because I believe in something different doesn't mean that I lack morals.  I actually have pretty high morals - more so than my so called christian parents.

Offline Fury AphrodisiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2017, 11:39:16 PM »
I will definitely look those up.

My sister is a deep believer, as is her whole family (complicated, but she's got another family, it's a thing). Her half brother is a pastor and believe it or not, her cousin is a priest. I heard a rumour that there's a Rabbi in the mix somewhere down the line, but the point is that we often sit around having discussions about faith, psychology, philosophy and applied practice. And I love those people. I love them so much, and I will fight tooth and nail for their right to believe and practice as they will.

The difference, I think, is in how they treat things. They are able to understand that other world views exist. They understand that not everyone believes what they believe, but that human wellbeing and longevity is an objective standard. Even if there were no religion, trans individuals (as was the starting seed of the argument I mentioned before) are still to be treated with respect. It is their faith that drives them to go one step further and treat them with love and appreciation.

Those aren't the kind of Christians that I have a problem with. The ones that irk me, that make me lose my mind, are the same people I have a problem with when they're racist (as this man has since proven to be, I admit I went on his Facebook page and it was all "look how the muslims treat the jews" and "Turn firehoses on them at the border" and "gay people should be lobotomized or electrocuted until they get right with god" and just openly abusive language against literally anyone that thinks any differently than he), climate change deniers, those fighting against evolution (oh Ken Ham.... oh man.... I actually felt embarrassed for him watching that debate). The people that willfully choose to embrace (awkwardly and in a fashion I'm certain would make their god ashamed of them) nonsense to an unreasonable degree instead of taking it for a guideline of kindness it's meant to be. These are the people that will try to force everyone under their heel and will largely use religion as an excuse to do it.

And it's not that these people are only found in Christianity. Every religion has assholes. My confusion is why the better examples of religion don't rise up as one and slay them.

Alright, that's maybe a little extreme.

Personally, I've found that as science expands, god gets smaller. As education grows, god shrinks. The "god of the gaps" sort of an idea, roughly speaking, is going to eventually force religion to die out over time. And hey, if people want to find post-death comfort in a set of rules that will buy them admission to an everlasting theme park where they'll feel compelled to merely worship all day, and that makes them happy? Whatever, rock on, do you.

What I can't understand is the side of people that makes them want to force other people to abandon everything that makes life worth living in order to pretend (because you can't force yourself to believe something you don't, no matter how hard you try. Twenty years in the church easily taught me that) to think like they do. How do you possibly reason with these people on any level? The hateful, the domineering, the abusive, the bigoted, those whose very life blood runs black and thick with the evil they spit at whoever doesn't see things their way? How do you reason with them? How do you make them leave you alone? How do you stop yourself from being accosted by them?

Offline Mathim

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2017, 12:28:13 AM »
It is their faith that drives them to go one step further and treat them with love and appreciation.


Um...not sure you're giving credit where it's actually due, but if you say so...


My confusion is why the better examples of religion don't rise up as one and slay them.


Not really a difficult answer to come by. The framework of religion is simply not designed to be capable of producing this effect. Only a secular, objective framework that does not rely on contradictory claims, hypocrisy and appeals to unquestioned authority can truly generate an atmosphere of cooperation and altruism. Even the really nice believers are only that way because they've rejected everything about the faith that would preclude secular values, except for abandoning that last teensy bit of delusional thinking they'd be better off without anyway.


What I can't understand is the side of people that makes them want to force other people to abandon everything that makes life worth living in order to pretend (because you can't force yourself to believe something you don't, no matter how hard you try. Twenty years in the church easily taught me that) to think like they do.

When you're that morbidly convinced of something (which is why forceful indoctrination of children, whether they're your own or otherwise, should carry a minimum 20-year prison sentence) where the stakes are eternal agony or eternal bliss (both as unrealistic and unreasonable as it is possible for a proposition to be), then the temporary existence here ceases to hold meaning - which is simultaneously hilarious and yet maddening when they accuse non-believers of being nihilistic and having no meaning in their lives. Pretty damned easy to lose sight of anything of beauty or significance here when heaven awaits and lasts forever, yet the argument from beauty and design imply both, so there's yet more contradiction here. That way madness lies. It's why I don't cotton to the idea of even opening the door to that kind of delusion the slightest bit, it's kinda like a gateway drug version of inducing craziness.


How do you possibly reason with these people on any level? The hateful, the domineering, the abusive, the bigoted, those whose very life blood runs black and thick with the evil they spit at whoever doesn't see things their way? How do you reason with them? How do you make them leave you alone? How do you stop yourself from being accosted by them?

The problem is, numbers. Both the sheer number of strong believers, and the fair-weather believers who scoff, "Oh, piffle, that's not OUR religion, they're not worshiping god the right way", are extremely disjointed. Too many of the former to really 'fight' in a political or literal sense, and too few of the latter who are actually willing to raise their voices and admit just how secular they really are so that all voices opposed to religion running mad with power fail to meet or overpower to dull roar of fundamentalism. The minute the hatemongers and their brainwashed but less vocal ilk start feeling like nobody's listening to them and never will listen to them again, is the minute they'll start shutting up or turn on each other and destroy themselves from within. So until a way is devised to outnumber them, anyone with a genuine conscience, believers or not, is stuck with them. It's just that the non-believers aren't guilty of giving them any legitimacy by still claiming to have faith of any kind. Them having a sense of numerical superiority even if other believers are as far opposite the spectrum from them as possible, is still a huge incentive for them to keep shouting and spouting their rhetoric and doubling down on brainwashing as many others as possible.

Online midnightblack

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2017, 01:08:30 AM »
A very interesting thread. I lost the energy for such struggles years ago. The sense of futility that surrounded them was rather depressing.


What I can't understand is the side of people that makes them want to force other people to abandon everything that makes life worth living in order to pretend (because you can't force yourself to believe something you don't, no matter how hard you try. Twenty years in the church easily taught me that) to think like they do. How do you possibly reason with these people on any level? The hateful, the domineering, the abusive, the bigoted, those whose very life blood runs black and thick with the evil they spit at whoever doesn't see things their way? How do you reason with them? How do you make them leave you alone? How do you stop yourself from being accosted by them?


The short of it is that you don't, at least not directly and not on a personal level. When it comes to controversial topics, my impression is that people usually won't realize they are wrong unless they are lucky enough to get struck squarely in the face by reality. For that reason, I believe that most times it is simply best to refuse to engage in any kind of political or religious debate.  It's not like it would accomplish anything aside of bringing out the worst in people and entrenching irrational positions further. >.>

I would be tempted to say that the meaningful approach is to try and reduce their relevance for the future. That is, If you are in any way responsible for the education of the next generation, do it in a sensible way. And be careful how you cast your vote. However, this bring me to the next point.

Quote
Personally, I've found that as science expands, god gets smaller. As education grows, god shrinks. The "god of the gaps" sort of an idea, roughly speaking, is going to eventually force religion to die out over time. And hey, if people want to find post-death comfort in a set of rules that will buy them admission to an everlasting theme park where they'll feel compelled to merely worship all day, and that makes them happy? Whatever, rock on, do you.

Sure, this may be true locally, in a vanishingly small neighborhood centered on your own existence, but I do not see it happening in the future of the global picture. At the heart of things, there are two simple reasons why this has been the state of affairs for the last 6000 years or so: power and money, the only things that really matter to the extremely pragmatic and down to Earth people that lead various religious communities. And it is safe to assume that they will never be willing to give them up. Scientific research has already turned into this weird paper-pushing, political-pandering, pseudo-business that is focused on short-term results with little to no long term relevance or focus on questions that hold any meaning outside of monetary profit. As a working scientist, I've come to know this all too well.

I've noticed that recently it has become popular to jokingly take "Idiocracy" as a mirror of our future. While I do hold the impression that, however we look at things, humanity as a whole will lose, I'm not entirely certain we won't be cast as far back as the stone age in the times to come. Still, if that's to be avoided, I'd guess that something like "A canticle for Leibowitz"  would be a more accurate picture. That or Warhammer 40k.  ::)

Offline NotoriusBEN

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2017, 09:08:18 AM »
You cant account for assholes being assholes.

You only argue with them when there is a crowd and your objective is not to change their mind, but the person on the fence that is in the crowd. If that's not the case, dont engage with them.

If they just resort to name calling or character assassination, you call them out on it and tell them they are an asshole. They dont know you, your beliefs, or your values, and its fucked up to judge you before they know you.

Its mutually assured destruction for name calling, but if someone else is listening, you end up on the moral high ground, because you called out their tactic and predjudice.

Going to some others that commented, personally, I fell out of Catholicism in my early teens. I still believe in god, the 10 commandments, and that Christ was a person with some pretty ground shaking ideas, but the dogma and trappings of Catholicism turned me off to it. Peterson's lectures unpack what it means (to me) to be human and explaining the concepts involved in the bible. It resonated with me in a way no sunday teacher or preacher could ever come close to. Im not a born again christian, or evangelical. At least im trying not to be, even as i read over my post...

I do think that belief in a higher power and cosmic justice is a net good for humanity. I only need to point to Soviet Russia, Maoist China, Nazi Germany, and North Korea and North Vietnam as to what happens when kill the idea of god and you replace it with pure rationalism put the State above all else. They did/do not believe in the intrinsic worth of a human beingand the morals that go with that idea and they've killed over 160 million people over the course of the 20th century.

As the old saying goes, moderation is the key, you cant be completely one or the other or it distorts horribly.


I cant account for all the problems in christianity and western civilization. Compared to Utopia, yea, there are a fair number of problems... but compared to any other type of civilation humanity has undertaken, its the best one yet by an absolute wide margin.

I think i went on a few tangents there, but i think they all feed back into each other.

Offline Mathim

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2017, 09:31:46 AM »


I do think that belief in a higher power and cosmic justice is a net good for humanity. I only need to point to Soviet Russia, Maoist China, Nazi Germany, and North Korea and North Vietnam as to what happens when kill the idea of god and you replace it with pure rationalism put the State above all else. They did/do not believe in the intrinsic worth of a human being and the morals that go with that idea and they've killed over 160 million people over the course of the 20th century.

As the old saying goes, moderation is the key, you cant be completely one or the other or it distorts horribly.


I cant account for all the problems in christianity and western civilization. Compared to Utopia, yea, there are a fair number of problems... but compared to any other type of civilation humanity has undertaken, its the best one yet by an absolute wide margin.


I'm sorry, but that insinuation is absolutely disgusting and grossly ignorant. None of those systems were rational at all, they were merely state-run religions with the same kind of dogmatic nonsense as traditional religions substituted for 'real' icons. Not a one of them could be considered to be founded upon the ideals of secular humanism. Please do a little research, because that sort of statement is the most pernicious kind of ignorant propaganda that religion is guilty of spewing.

Online Lustful Bride

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2017, 09:44:07 AM »
I would get in on this. But im tired of constantly trying to argue for the positives of religion and that its not all bad. Deal with that way too much by letting myself get dragged into arguments on youtube where the same points just get spouted out over and over again in a cycle that only pisses everyone off. This has even been done here repeatedly on E. I don't even know why we still have this.

There is no real point to this argument since it looks like religion is just going to dry up and fade away eventually, and all anyone will remember is the bad side of it. But in the now it all boils down to a basic idea of "Religion is like medicine, some need it and use it to help others, while some abuse it and harm themselves and everyone around them".

A person can be moral with or without religion just as much as they can be immoral without it. There are just as many assholes and saints on both sides of the fence. And all this is going to lead to is people throwing a tantrum and getting al offended at everyone else.

Offline NotoriusBEN

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #15 on: August 10, 2017, 10:51:37 AM »
Im with you that religion isnt blameless either. Pure fundamentalism produces atrocities as well. Those countries started with the notion that they could justify their actions by scientific and intellectual reasoning and taken to its extremes and distorted, allowed those things to happen.

Science and intelligence are good, but ignoring morals and ethics leads to some pretty heinous things. I happen to believe in a higher power, whatever that might entail. I wish along with everyone else that the fundamentalists would get over themselves and just let people be.

Im at least glad we can talk about it without screaming at each other.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #16 on: August 10, 2017, 10:58:47 AM »
It wouldn't be such a concern if people didn't let religious institutions and ideals have such sway over basic human rights (I'm a fan of the saying "your bible doesn't fit in my vagina"). Whether those people are the saints or sinners, I'm less concerned about the legitimacy of a religion in and of itself and more in who and why they're trying to victimize in terms of the greater world. This began as an attack on transgender individuals. But I've seen it in attack on exucation, attack on reproductive rights, attack on basic humanities, in the way they advocate that certain members of a community are more deserving of a share in community resources than others based on their belief and other trivial differences...


When it coems down to it, the basic of it is that there is no good that religion provides that cannot be achieved in some other fashion, and continuing to make exceptions for religion in terms of the time, energy and resources spent educating about them instead of good, useful things (like ... climate change, history, human rights... hell, geography) is a waste of everyone's time, energy and resources, which are all in limited supply for each one of us.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for culture. I just don't think culture and religion are directly interchangeable.

Honestly, if it comes down to comparison, I would say those with religion have less morality than those without - since they have to be coerced and threatened into their morality by way of their deity's dictations instead of a humanist or secularist who makes the most of the one life they believe they have because it's just straight-up the right thing to do.

So, I look at it as a bad breakup. I can remember the good times, but that doesn't mean I have to dwell on them or keep a relationship with so much unhealthy in it, especially when someone else is just as capable of loving me and letting me build good times with them where I don't have to take all the crap that comes with it.

I am not religious, but I am still a crusader. I will defend those who are attacked by others, particularly needlessly. In fact, it was that truth that began the conversation quoted in the initial post. That is my morality, not the blind adherence to and subjugation of those who don't believe in, an unsubstantiated set of rules from an unknown source that flies in the face of all standing morality, even its own.

I guess, Lustful, if it weren't such a problem, there wouldn't be so many discussions about it? Sort of like Climate Change, rape culture and racism. If it wasn't a problem, if people weren't worried about it, we wouldn't bother with it. Just like no one here has mentioned Narnia yet, because it's not a real concern for us.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #17 on: August 10, 2017, 11:00:03 AM »
Im with you that religion isnt blameless either. Pure fundamentalism produces atrocities as well. Those countries started with the notion that they could justify their actions by scientific and intellectual reasoning and taken to its extremes and distorted, allowed those things to happen.

I think, actually, they began as fundamentalists and used (read: warped) intellectualism in order to justify their already-held beliefs.

Offline Mathim

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #18 on: August 10, 2017, 10:28:35 PM »
NotoriousBEN, don't take this as a personal attack, but you sound exactly like a fundamentalist when you try to spin things in that way. Science is not a belief system, nor is atheism. But you will hear no end of religious people screaming otherwise because they want anything they perceive as threatening to their beliefs to become something they can target or say "If we're bad, so are they because they're just like us!" So when you're attempting to paint these psychotic regimes that believe, among other things, that birds broke into human speech and song when Kim Jong Il was born, not only are you completely wrong about how science plays a part in forming any of it, but you're also dragging reason and rationality through the mud simply by association when they couldn't be more far removed from places like North Korea or the old Soviet Union. Please be more considerate and careful when you make these claims, especially if you don't want to look like a hypocrite when you call others fundamentalists. That kind of rhetoric is literally indistinguishable from a raving anti-science, education-hating fanatic's rantings.

Offline NotoriusBEN

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #19 on: August 10, 2017, 10:53:12 PM »
Ok, I'll take the criticism, thinking over it, I don't think I was articulate in that statement.

There is the possibility that Rationality can become arrogant and believe in its own theories. That is to say, you make a theory about the world and tend to assume it is correct.
Instead confirming or discarding that theory based of the data and evidence, you try to fit the evidence to the theory and that is where the problem starts.
Those countries had ideas and they overvalued them and tried to fit the evidence to those ideas and fervently prove that their ideals/society/etc were the correct path for humanity.

Its like they said, "Here is the damned theory and it is correct, and you will act it out. If you don't well, we know what to do with you."

The point is that nobody is perfect, everyone has many flaws, and nobody knows anything remotely close to everything. So it is healthy to question your own beliefs, regardless of topic, and make routine, conscious efforts to search for and identify flaws in your logic, because everyone has them and improve upon them.

So yes, I used the wrong terminology with that statement.
Does that help?

Offline Mathim

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #20 on: August 10, 2017, 11:43:55 PM »
Ok, I'll take the criticism, thinking over it, I don't think I was articulate in that statement.

There is the possibility that Rationality can become arrogant and believe in its own theories. That is to say, you make a theory about the world and tend to assume it is correct.
Instead confirming or discarding that theory based of the data and evidence, you try to fit the evidence to the theory and that is where the problem starts.
Those countries had ideas and they overvalued them and tried to fit the evidence to those ideas and fervently prove that their ideals/society/etc were the correct path for humanity.

Its like they said, "Here is the damned theory and it is correct, and you will act it out. If you don't well, we know what to do with you."

The point is that nobody is perfect, everyone has many flaws, and nobody knows anything remotely close to everything. So it is healthy to question your own beliefs, regardless of topic, and make routine, conscious efforts to search for and identify flaws in your logic, because everyone has them and improve upon them.

So yes, I used the wrong terminology with that statement.
Does that help?

Yes it does. Thank you for being willing to re-evaluate your position and/or statements based on new forthcoming data and evidence.  ;D

So what you're referring to is dogmatism, adherence to an ideology that is unshakeable and appeals to authority rather than thinking critically about it and evaluating it on its own merits. Yes, that sounds more like it, which would by definition be the furthest from rationality you can get (and you misused that term again; I'd just stop using it altogether since it holds no truck with religion anyway). You don't come by an ideology only through rationality and don't need to be rational or use it to adhere to it intransigently. A healthy mind will use rationality to defend whatever worldview they've come by (or have such a distorted view of the world that their version of rationality is...whatever else it becomes, but not rationality.) No rational mind will seek to stay entrenched in something if reason and evidence show that they're wrong about even their most deeply held beliefs. So with an irrational framework, and their ignorance and misunderstanding of scientific concepts (I'd go as far as to say they were believers in science fiction in some cases), some scientific principles (grossly misused) just happened to be the form these pseudo-theistic/irrationally dogmatic dictatorships' misguided efforts took. No different than burning witches at the stake in earlier times, simply a different mechanism for carrying out the same mindless agenda.

Science and reason are what tell us that they were objectively wrong in what they were doing, and in most cases, even in what they were trying to do. Until a better means of understanding the world and demonstrating things to be more or less reasonable comes along, they're all we have, and shitting all over them or mischaracterizing them is a fundamentalist staple. Be wary of this line of thought and of anyone who taught that to you, because it sounds exactly like the regurgitated vocal excrement of a third-rate fundie street preacher.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2017, 12:25:53 AM by Mathim »

Online Regina Minx

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #21 on: August 11, 2017, 09:27:16 AM »
Science and reason are what tell us that they were objectively wrong in what they were doing, and in most cases, even in what they were trying to do. Until a better means of understanding the world and demonstrating things to be more or less reasonable comes along, they're all we have, and shitting all over them or mischaracterizing them is a fundamentalist staple.

Not only are science and reason the best tools we have for understanding the world in which we live, but if there was some other tool that was better at telling us about the world than science and reason, the only way you could prove that that tool was better than science and reason would be to use...wait for it...science and reason.

Offline Mathim

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #22 on: August 11, 2017, 05:59:04 PM »
Not only are science and reason the best tools we have for understanding the world in which we live, but if there was some other tool that was better at telling us about the world than science and reason, the only way you could prove that that tool was better than science and reason would be to use...wait for it...science and reason.

I find this often presents a dilemma for the supernatural as well. How would one conclude, for certain, that something was in fact supernatural or a 'miracle' or any other such thing attributed to deities and whatnot? Science and reason. But if those things, by definition, are not able to be studied and evaluated by science, one could never actually conclude they were supernatural in any way, nor that the supernatural exists.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #23 on: August 11, 2017, 06:30:39 PM »
Mathim, could you give an example of such a thing?  I don't mean to naysay you, but having a concrete example to discuss would be useful.  Otherwise, I just get left with the Holmesian Razor.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #24 on: August 11, 2017, 06:46:43 PM »
Ooh, I have one! The Fresno Night Crawler.

This is the kind of thing that reminds me that the supernatural is an unproven possibility.

While we might not be able to say for sure that something is supernatural, we can certainly point out phenomena that we cannot explain. Ironically, I believe that in order to discover the supernatural in a way that is undeniable, it will still require modern technology. But... all we have to do is prove that we cannot explain it by means available to us. We don't have to prove that it's supernatural, just phenomena that we cannot figure out.

If you look at it that way, everything is a supernatural phenomenon for a little while.

Probably for the same reason that god feels like a phenomenon that is slowly fading out of obscurity and into scrutiny.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #25 on: August 11, 2017, 06:59:22 PM »
One second.

*GOOGLE GO!*

Ah, I see.  Alright.  A few things to keep in mind.

One: the Night Crawler is part of Amerindian legend; in it, it says the crawlers are creatures that have been around for a long time, and are meant to assist in some sort of awakening, a re-connection between man and nature.  Legends always have an element of truth to them, though we may not properly understand which part is true.  The legends about dragons breathing fire, most modern experts on the subject say, came from swamp gas igniting in the air.  Those legends were written centuries ago, and we only have the knowledge and understanding to explain them now.

Two: new creatures are being discovered frequently, especially in places that we haven't been able to reach prior to lack of transportation technology...and that is merely species we don't know about.  It's an old story, but the coelacanth was a species of fish that was thought to have perished sometime during the late Cretaceous period...

...until a fisherman in South Africa hauled one onto his boat in 1938.  It took an icthyologist to actually identify the thing for real.

I'm personally reminded of the thing Van Helsing says to Seward in Dracula:

"Do you not think that there are things which you cannot understand, and yet which are, that some people see things that others cannot? But there are things old and new which must not be contemplated by men's eyes, because they know, or think they know, some things which other men have told them. Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all, and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain."

Offline Fury AphrodisiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #26 on: August 11, 2017, 07:26:25 PM »
Mmmmn... Well, yes and no.

People, who are prideful and arrogant and brimming with hubris, are keen to say things that reflect that quote. However, science as a construct free of conviction and pride, has no trouble classifying information and events as unexplained or unknown. It is people who strive to dismiss whatever cannot be explained, let's not lay that at the feet of what basically amounts to a giant database. It has no opinion nor beliefs and cannot be swayed by such: That is the domain of humans.

That said, the reason I brought up the nightcrawler (I find a lot of American legends claim First Nations origins and I'm always skeptical. It's like the comment that you know a horror story is true because it happened to your friend's cousin or something and I've never heard of half of them from my own band. That could be because at least in the case of Fresno, well, we're a far cry from there, up in Ontario) is that there are a limited number of videos in circulation that, while they can't be substantiated beyond doubt, provide at least an interesting speculative opportunity.

I don't know what it is, I can't prove it's video editing since I see no evidence for it. Therefore, I'm forced to admit that a supernatural origin is a possibility, no matter how wide or slim a possibility I personally feel it might be. As I've said before, I'm skeptical but not a denier.

Offline Oniya

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #27 on: August 11, 2017, 07:48:50 PM »
Oooh!  I know those things!  I heard about them as a kid!

(Not intended to give any credence or dismissal to the actual story - but it was the first thing that popped into my head.)

Offline Mathim

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #28 on: August 11, 2017, 09:04:59 PM »
Mathim, could you give an example of such a thing?  I don't mean to naysay you, but having a concrete example to discuss would be useful.  Otherwise, I just get left with the Holmesian Razor.

I don't know what you're referring to, you're playing the pronoun game. And what the heck is the Holmesian Razor? I thought I explained it (if we're both talking about the supernatural) pretty succinctly and completely, and any specific example would be pointless since it would just be subject to the same explanation of its limits and self-refuting definition as the blanket term of supernatural. A few other posts here seem to  support it except where the definition is misused (but then there's been a fair bit of misuse of terms in this thread already). Unexplained does not equate with supernatural, not by a long shot, at least not in any meaningful way since it's by definition impossible to confirm something being supernatural as such. It's sort of like how people misuse 'faith' when they mean trust or hope.

Then there's the dilemma of the fact that the minute something starts interacting with the natural world, it is no longer by definition supernatural, but if no means to study it are presented, in what way is it remotely relevant anyway? Pondering it would be nothing but a waste of time. At least with a scientific hypothesis, you can theoretically find a means to test it and falsify it. The supernatural would have no mechanism by which to do anything like that. So unless the supernatural is by definition completely outside of nature and not interacting with or existing within nature, nothing as far as unexplained phenomena ARE supernatural. Perhaps paranormal would be a better term? But again, those have that cumbersome characteristic of being unable to be studied and so nothing about them can be learned or determined, ergo they're just as irrelevant as anything supernatural.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2017, 09:10:44 PM by Mathim »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #29 on: August 11, 2017, 10:23:27 PM »
Well, since it's impossible to prove the supernatural as such until we prove alternate forces of energy or the existence of a deity or what have you, in the meantime the best approach we can take to confirming the existence of a supernatural occurrence is to kill off every alternative that we can explain. Even then, there's a big leap between being unexplained and being supernatural, and not everything unexplained will remain so and therefore that will also cut down on supernatural. Still, I would think that something supernatural would by default have to be unexplainable at least by any other means. So, it would be the logical first step to look into the unexplained, yes? For my own, I don't know of anything that's been properly studied that is unexplained in the sense that one might allude to the supernatural. Most of the "supernatural" is misunderstood natural, superstition and rampant imagination, all with explanations that are feasible and easier to believe than the supernatural.

Even so, when it's unexplained and without proof that there is no "god", no above-mortal consciousness, we must concede that it is a possibility, however small.

To be clear, I was talking about the NightCrawler, because there exists video documentation. It has not, however, been studied as thoroughly as we have the power to do so, as far as I am aware. Most of the problem with supposed supernatural or miraculous sightings and experiences are based upon anecdotal evidence alone.

I remember one night my brother and I were camping in Algonquin, on one of our long tracking hunts. We heard a sound in the middle of the night which sounded like a man screaming in agony. Unfortunately, from where we were we couldn't tell which direction the sound was coming from and it was really distorted. My brother, who has always been a man of belief even if that belief has largely been undefined, was terrified. He slept with his hand beside his bed (where his hatchet was) all night.

Turns out it was a bear. There was a long investigation, the bear was found, the sound was exactly what we'd heard and as we were there to witness the bear when it was caught, we could verify it was the sound we'd heard. However, if we'd not been there as the bear was being moved to a more isolated reach of the park, my brother would have gone home swearing up and down that a man had been murdered in the forest, or perhaps that some kind of demon was out there in the darkness.

This story reminds me of much the same way a lot of these ghost hunting shows operate. "I'll show you the shiny gadgets that could prove I'm telling you the truth, but no one can verify we didn't rig/reprogram/etc. any of it. No one can really vouch for the integrity of the "investigation". And with the attempts science has made (those like Houdini, who always wanted an affirmative answer and never found enough proof to convince him any of it was true) to study these phenomena, particularly with regard to the fact that all of them I'd ever heard of had been dismissed as charlatans, we have only the personal stories of things no one will really study (statues crying blood, for instance?). Combine that with the intense disregard that most if not all political bodies hold in regards to keeping secrets from their own people and covering up dull and mortal things, it's hard to trust that anyone is going to tell the public the truth if there is something going on. This leaves a lack of evidence that a balanced mind should, I think, accept leaves a possibility for the supernatural. Or at least, the paranormal.

Online Regina Minx

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #30 on: August 12, 2017, 06:33:42 AM »
I think the Holmesian quote that's being discussed is..

“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

On the surface, this is an obvious point of logic. The truthful explanation for an event must lie within the set of possible explanations for the event, which is logically co-equivalent with 'non-impossible explanations.'

There is a flaw in this approach, however, when it comes to including the supernatural in our list of possible explanations. If you allow for the existence of magic, how do you define the possible versus the impossible? If you have a man dead in a room with no obvious cause of death, are you prohibited from concluding that the death was natural because you cannot disprove that he was killed by voodoo?

There's another objection you can raise to adopting the Holmesian principle, which is to ask how complete is your set of possible explanations? Let's take a common example; a UFO sighting. If you say that the possible explanations are an airplane, a balloon, a cloud, the planet Venus, or an extra-terrestrial spacecraft, and you are able to systematically rule out a balloon, cloud, and Venus and conclude that therefore it must be a spaceship, you've prematurely arrived at your conclusion. Your set of possible explanations is not complete. There are entries you've omitted from the list, including satellites, drones, hoaxes, and optical illusions.

It's a misapplication of the logical principle to conclude that the explanation for the UFO (by which I mean unidentified flying object) must be an alien spaceship because that is all that remains in the original list. In addition to not being “all” that remains, it should not even be included in the list of known possibilities. The error here is including unknown or new phenomena on the list of the possible, which should only include established phenomena.

If you don't, if you allow unknown phenomena in your list of possible explanations for an event, you can have an infinite list of potential explanations. Why stop at an alien spacecraft when we can posit time-travelling humans? Or the Wild Hunt of the Seelie Court? Or psychic Bigfeet (Bigfoots?) from another dimension? Or hyperintelligent dinosaurs from a hidden world scenario testing light projection technology? Or a god?

Favoring one unknown explanation over another based solely on the absence of an established explanation is a logical fallacy we call the argument from ignorance.

Allow me to modify the Holmes quote to a less pithy but more logically valid form.

Within the set of known phenomena, once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be true. If the entire set of known phenomena are eliminated as impossible, then the solution is simply unknown until a new phenomena that can serve as a solution is positively established.

Edit to add: Something else occurred to me on this subject. There are possible things, and there are impossible things that can serve as potential explanations for a phenomenon. However, it is a shifting of the burden of proof to conclude that just because a thing has not been demonstrated to be impossible, that it therefore must be possible. Both the possibility of a thing and the impossibility of a thing are separate questions, and a person advocating either must offer demonstration or evidence to support their position. "A supernatural explanation has not been shown to be impossible. Therefore it must be possible," inappropriately shifts the burden of proof.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2017, 07:43:17 AM by Regina Minx »

Offline Mathim

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #31 on: August 12, 2017, 10:18:50 AM »
I knew something had to be wrong with the Holmesian thing or I would have heard about it. Occam's Razor is far more helpful than that, in any case. But I like your re-statement of Holmes' quote and your demonstration that 'impossibility' not being established does not shift the burden of proof away from those claiming it IS possible.

Offline Silk

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #32 on: August 24, 2017, 01:18:36 PM »
I would get in on this. But im tired of constantly trying to argue for the positives of religion and that its not all bad. Deal with that way too much by letting myself get dragged into arguments on youtube where the same points just get spouted out over and over again in a cycle that only pisses everyone off. This has even been done here repeatedly on E. I don't even know why we still have this.

There is no real point to this argument since it looks like religion is just going to dry up and fade away eventually, and all anyone will remember is the bad side of it. But in the now it all boils down to a basic idea of "Religion is like medicine, some need it and use it to help others, while some abuse it and harm themselves and everyone around them".

A person can be moral with or without religion just as much as they can be immoral without it. There are just as many assholes and saints on both sides of the fence. And all this is going to lead to is people throwing a tantrum and getting al offended at everyone else.

I wouldn't worry Lust, Religion isn't going to fade, not as a concept anyway, just the direction. Political alignments (Both the left and the right) are guilty of the same cancerous enforced ethical code, double think, close-mindedness and abscondance of differing ideas as religions ever were for e.g.

Add-on

Also not forgetting the typical arguments of "But X does good and Y does bad" rhetoric. End of the day, people who will bash religion will continue to fall to the same set-pieces that they criticize it for and use the same defenses.  All that changes is the catalyst.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 01:21:08 PM by Silk »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #33 on: August 24, 2017, 06:59:19 PM »
I think I get where you're coming from Silk, and for the most part, I tend to agree. Ideologies of any sort are in danger of providing such strict guidelines that it allows for nothing else that might disagree to offer any argument, far removed from being able to present a convincing one.

I do have to disagree with the concept that anyone who criticizes religion is bvy default a victim of the same sort of thinking they criticize. I don't think that's foregone enough to be absolute. For instance, if I say that religion is scientifically inaccurate, I cannot by default be criticized for being scientifically inaccurate on the basis of my criticism alone. This is demonstrably true in the case of the Christian/Catholic bible and a general knowledge of science.

Then again, are you saying bash as in needlessly mock or bash as in poke holes in the intellectualism thereof?

Personally, if the information remains the same, I see no reason not to use the same arguments against the same arguments. In my experience, discussing religion with the religious often produces the same dogmatic responses, for which reason I don't see the use in coming up with a plethora of varied responses.

I do believe that the more we learn empirically about the world around us, the lesser and lesser space that religion could possibly occupy, given that the things explained away by deities can be then explained by experience, study and observation. Once there is no more room for the mystical to be intelligently embraced, there's no reason for it to continue in the world as a belief system. Or anything other than stories, I think.

That said, I do agree that pointing out little details about where certain ideologies fail and where they excel becomes a tedious waste of time. Unfortunately, in order to discard outdated and useless ideologies, we find that we often have to do this. Just as we do with laws, education, medicine, etc.

Offline Trevino

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #34 on: August 24, 2017, 07:09:28 PM »
Well, since it's impossible to prove the supernatural as such until we prove alternate forces of energy or the existence of a deity or what have you, in the meantime the best approach we can take to confirming the existence of a supernatural occurrence is to kill off every alternative that we can explain. Even then, there's a big leap between being unexplained and being supernatural, and not everything unexplained will remain so and therefore that will also cut down on supernatural. Still, I would think that something supernatural would by default have to be unexplainable at least by any other means. So, it would be the logical first step to look into the unexplained, yes? For my own, I don't know of anything that's been properly studied that is unexplained in the sense that one might allude to the supernatural. Most of the "supernatural" is misunderstood natural, superstition and rampant imagination, all with explanations that are feasible and easier to believe than the supernatural.

What you are alluding to is the Invisible Dragon problem, first described by none other than Carl Sagan in his book the Demon-Haunted World. Basically, the idea that there exists an entity that is somehow beyond the ability of science or logic to prove the existence of, but nonetheless you should believe that it exists anyway.

Religion can be a tricky subject to tackle, since the smartest theologians will attempt to point out the Problem of Induction when trying to prove their case. Ultimately it just comes down to Ockham's Razor; the simplest reason is often the best, and it's simpler to assume that no supernatural deity or phenomenon is necessary to describe the world.


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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #35 on: August 24, 2017, 07:19:29 PM »
Okay, play the other side - what if the simplest explanation is something like 'God did it'?

Give you two examples - the origin of life and an historical one.

Evolution can easily explain the diversity of life - that is, why there are so many species and all the variety we see in nature - but it often defaults to complex argumentation when trying to describe how life arose.  Contrast Creationism, which simply says 'God did it.'

The other is the Maccabean miracle - aka, the creation of Hanukkah.  This is not simply some story, either - while it may not be included in Biblical canon, that's less because it's untrustworthy and more because the Council of Trent didn't think it had anything to contribute to the Bible.  The story (though I use the term only in a descriptive sense) goes that the Maccabees freed Jerusalem and restored the temple, but could only find a small jug of oil to light the menorah with, a jug which should have lasted for only a night, yet somehow lasted eight.

Now, there could be a plethora of mundane reasons why it happened - but are they going to be less complex than 'God did it'?

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #36 on: August 24, 2017, 07:43:41 PM »
It was the Council of Nicaea that decided which books would be included in the canon of the Bible.  The Council of Trent dealt with the Counter-Reformation many hundreds of years later.  Both were about Christianity, however.

The problem with the argument of 'God did it' is: which god?  You can replace 'God' with any number of hypothesized deities or supernatural beings or concepts, and none of it gets you closer to an answer.  This concept is thus tripped up in the same way that Pascal's wager is tripped up.

As far as I'm concerned, 'supernatural' is just a place holder for ignorance.  Anything of sufficient technology will appear as magic to observers without the knowledge to understand what they are witnessing.  That's paraphrasing Arthur C. Clarke, I believe, but the point is that--if it interacts with the natural world, then its effects can be observed, and therefore it is no longer supernatural.  It should then be observable by science.  If it isn't observable by science, then the best thing to do is say 'I don't know'.  Either we will eventually gain the technology or understanding to understand it, or we won't.  If we do, we will be able to explain it.  If we don't, it isn't meaningful to our lives, because it has no interaction with reality anyway.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #37 on: August 24, 2017, 07:52:06 PM »
Evolution can easily explain the diversity of life - that is, why there are so many species and all the variety we see in nature - but it often defaults to complex argumentation when trying to describe how life arose.  Contrast Creationism, which simply says 'God did it.'

So you think the simplest explanation posits the existence of an immaterial, transcendent, all-power being that exists outside of time and space (what does it mean to exist out side of time and space? isn't existence necessarily temporal), who possesses consciousness, will, and that those aspects of its existence manifest without a physical body (what evidence is there that being is independent of brain?), who decided (when? I thought it existed outside of time) for unknown reasons using an unknown method to spontaneously cause self-replicating biochemical reactions to take place through a process of selective editing and heredity of protein sequencing to start out, knowing full well that the end result of this process would be humanoid life which this entity favored for some reason.

You think that's...a simpler explanation? You've answered a mystery (abiogenesis) with an appeal to a much more inexplicable mystery. The god explanation is no different and has no more explanatory power, than just saying magic.

I think your problem is a fundamental misunderstanding of Occam's Razor. Occam's Razor isn't to say that the simplest explanation is more likely to be correct. Occam's Razor is that the more parsimonious explanation is more likely to be correct. To be parsimonious is to introduce as few assumed elements into an explanation as possible. If I come home from work and I discover an empty bread bag on the kitchen floor, and somehow I know that there are only two possible explanations for it.

1) My dog counter-surfed and ate all the bread.
2) Someone picked the lock to my front door, took his or her shoes off to not leave footprints on the rug, went into the kitchen and ate all the bread (wearing gloves so no fingerprints, and left the same way they came in, locking the door behind them.

Which requires the fewest ad hoc assumptions to accept as being true? It's 1), but not because 1 is SIMPLER. A dog jumping on a counter and a burglary are both simple, commonplace events. But barring strong evidence in support of 2), 1) is the preferred explanation because we know that my dog exists, and has counter-surfed before. A bread-eating burglar doesn't square with the rest of the evidence, and we have to do a lot of hand-waving in order to accept it.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 07:59:44 PM by Regina Minx »

Offline Trevino

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #38 on: August 24, 2017, 07:52:57 PM »
Okay, play the other side - what if the simplest explanation is something like 'God did it'?

Give you two examples - the origin of life and an historical one.

Evolution can easily explain the diversity of life - that is, why there are so many species and all the variety we see in nature - but it often defaults to complex argumentation when trying to describe how life arose.  Contrast Creationism, which simply says 'God did it.'

The other is the Maccabean miracle - aka, the creation of Hanukkah.  This is not simply some story, either - while it may not be included in Biblical canon, that's less because it's untrustworthy and more because the Council of Trent didn't think it had anything to contribute to the Bible.  The story (though I use the term only in a descriptive sense) goes that the Maccabees freed Jerusalem and restored the temple, but could only find a small jug of oil to light the menorah with, a jug which should have lasted for only a night, yet somehow lasted eight.

Now, there could be a plethora of mundane reasons why it happened - but are they going to be less complex than 'God did it'?

The issue is that, by assuming the existence of a supernatural deity (in this case "God"), you are only displacing the problem of the First Cause. Namely, who brought these entities into existence and why? If we assume that their existence is uncaused, then why can't the existence of the universe itself similarly be uncaused? But if we assume that everything has to have a cause, then you run into to infinite regress problem.

And this is where Ockham's Razor comes in; there is no reason to expect that anything else exists other than the material universe itself.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 07:57:27 PM by Trevino »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #39 on: August 24, 2017, 08:04:28 PM »
I read an article somewhere that presented a very interesting explanation for a lot of the stuff in the Bible.

Take the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The entirety of the biblical story is that God looks at the cities and decides that both are way too wicked to be left standing. I think that there's actually a scene where God or an Angel appears to Abraham and tells him that he's gonna destroy the shit out of those cities. Abraham is distraught because his nephew lives there, and begs God/angel messenger to spare the cities, claiming that even God should spare them if there's even one innocent life among them. God's answer is that if there were even one innocent life, he would spare them.

Anyways, long story short, Angels go to Lot's (Abraham's nephew) and tell him that shit's about to get destroyed, pronto, and try to convince him to leave, Lot says no, he's got a nice life going on here. Some folks see the Angels arrive ande decide that they don't like the look of them.

(Small pointer that this is what most bible thumpers hold up as testament to how much God dislikes men getting freaky with each other, but this is something that is described as being something of a common occurrence during those times, all the way up until after the Hebrews leave Egypt. Folks didn't like newcomers in the town, and decided to make it clear that newcomers aren't very welcome by way of a sound beating. Food for thought.)

Anywho, with some heavenly help, Lot and his family escape the city (Minus Lot's wife, who gets turned into a pillar of salt on the way) and Lot and his two daughters escape. Happy ending, if you're a fan of incest.

A more logical explanation can be found though. Scientists have tracked some meteorological happenings around that time. And by meteorological happenings, I mean a half-mile wide asteroid. Before it could land, it apparently morphed into a three-mile-wide fire ball before clipping a mountain range and exploding in a rain of fiery debris. But don't beat yourself up for not getting that from the Biblical account.

I'm not 100% sure about the details, but here's a few links on the topic: http://www.bris.ac.uk/news/2008/212017945233.html
https://www.universetoday.com/13560/evidence-of-asteroid-impact-for-sodom-and-gomorrah/

TLDR: Well, According to the scientists, the mushroom cloud of the explosion would have reentered the Earth's atmosphere over the Mediterranean Sea, and would have flashed across the Middle East, leaving a trail of debris and superheated air in its wake. To quote the article, the heat "would be enough to ignite any flammable material -- including human hair and clothes. It is probable more people died under the plume than in the Alps due to the impact blast."

Now, you see that sort of stuff happening in the distance, or hear about a pair of cities being wrecked with no plausible explanation and no scientists around to explain such things as meteors, the first thing you'll think of: "Meh, god(s) did it."

Second thing you'll think of: "Why did god(s) do it?" "Oh yeah, I heard that those guys were really into buttsex. With dudes. How weird is that?" "Yeah, maybe god(s) punished them for liking butt sex?"

And you have a Bible story in the making.

There are a handful of other occurrences similar to that in the Bible that can easily be explained by people throwing their hands up and saying," Fuck it, God did it." And from there they come up with some sort of morality tale for why God did it. Faith is, in essence, giving up on trying to find an explanation past an act of an angry or merciful deity and coming up with some sort of explanation for why this deity will be getting involved in the first place. As science advances and acts of God or gods start to be explained away, people have to face the choice of trying to understand a scientific explanation for these happenings that to a lot of people (myself included) is just so much mumbo-jumbo, or the easy way out of holding to a morality tale that wraps the story up in a nice little bow on the terms of how you should be a good person according to the book in which they are.

Choosing to have faith is a personal choice, and honestly, one that I can't fault people for, but choosing faith over the scientific method is both dangerous and willfully ignorant. And having come from that sort of background, I can understand where this need comes from. There's a Bible verse among others that my folks drilled me through with memorization and catchy music that goes like this: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1. At first glance this is a simple talk about how if you believe in God and Jesus and be nice to the people around you, nice things will happen to you.

But you look at it without the context and in the way that it is blindly followed, and you see that it actually means that if you believe in something hard enough, that makes it true. And that, to me anyways, is as clarifying as it is terrifying. If I believe hard enough that the Earth is flat, that makes it true. If I believe hard enough that my skin color makes me a better person than people with difference skin colors than mine, that makes it true. And so on.

The 'Fuck it, God did it' response is so common in human psychology that you see it as a deus ex machina in a lot of fictional works: "Because magic" "Because the Force" "Because the Ancient Prophecies" and it's something that few people question. It's easier than trying to find a logical explanation that you won't be able to comprehend anyways that will in turn lead to a lot more questions being asked.

Just the 10 cents from a guy that was raised as Bible thumping Christian.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 08:05:51 PM by Deamonbane »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #40 on: August 24, 2017, 08:35:08 PM »
It was the Council of Nicaea that decided which books would be included in the canon of the Bible.  The Council of Trent dealt with the Counter-Reformation many hundreds of years later.  Both were about Christianity, however.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_of_the_Christian_biblical_canon
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea#Misconceptions

There's no information from the Nicene Council that they actually did any work on the biblical canon.

However, for the sake of what we're talking about, I will say this: the Council of Trent affirmed the canon that had been developed in the face of the Protestant Reformation (some portions of which wanted to revise the canon), so at the very least, Trent is responsible for the modern incarnation of the Bible we have today.

So you think the simplest explanation posits the existence of an immaterial, transcendent, all-power being that exists outside of time and space (what does it mean to exist out side of time and space? isn't existence necessarily temporal),

"The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be."  -Carl Sagan

who possesses consciousness, will, and personality that are nevertheless manifestations of a non-corporeal existence, who decided for unknown reasons using an unknown method to spontaneously cause self-replicating biochemical reactions to take place through a process of selective editing and heredity of protein sequencing to start out, knowing full well that the end result of this process would be humanoid life which this entity favored for some reason.

You think that's...a simpler explanation? You've answered a mystery (abiogenesis) with an appeal to a much more inexplicable mystery. The god explanation is no different and has no more explanatory power, than just saying magic.

Simpler in the intellectual sense, yes, in that you don't have to have an understanding of the scientific disciplines.

To point out - Occam's Razor says that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.  But that's all that it says.  Yes, saying that God created the universe and life raises a whole bunch of other questions - is God real, why did he create the universe, etc - but I have answered this question with the simplest explanation available.  Occam's Razor does not say 'the explanation with the fewest subsequent questions raised' (because any answer to anything will have subsequent questions, when you are dealing with a matter this complex) is the 'usually' correct one; it says that the simplest explanation is.

I will admit to it being a technical answer to a question that is non-technical, but I'm playing the opposite side of the field here.

And this is where Ockham's Razor comes in; there is no reason to expect that anything else exists other than the material universe itself.

Evidentiary-based arguments can be tricky, because in order to prove your argument, you either need to prove that your hypothesis is correct - or that all other hypotheses cannot possibly be correct.  Now, a lot of those arguments are not too difficult - Geocentrism vs Heliocentrism, as example - but if you want to prove that the material universe really is all there is, there isn't much other option.


Abraham is distraught because his nephew lives there, and begs God/angel messenger to spare the cities, claiming that even God should spare them if there's even one innocent life among them. God's answer is that if there were even one innocent life, he would spare them.

Ten.  This is a technical nitpick, but the book of Genesis states that if there were ten righteous men in the cities, they would have been spared.


Sodom and Gomorrah Meteorological Argument

Okay.  Question in response to that.

What if that meteor was the promised judgment?  This is not Noah, God did not say "I will destroy Sodom & Gomorrah with way X," just that he would - the 'how' is vague.


Now, you see that sort of stuff happening in the distance, or hear about a pair of cities being wrecked with no plausible explanation and no scientists around to explain such things as meteors, the first thing you'll think of: "Meh, god(s) did it."

Second thing you'll think of: "Why did god(s) do it?" "Oh yeah, I heard that those guys were really into buttsex. With dudes. How weird is that?" "Yeah, maybe god(s) punished them for liking butt sex?"

And you have a Bible story in the making.

There are a handful of other occurrences similar to that in the Bible that can easily be explained by people throwing their hands up and saying," Fuck it, God did it." And from there they come up with some sort of morality tale for why God did it. Faith is, in essence, giving up on trying to find an explanation past an act of an angry or merciful deity and coming up with some sort of explanation for why this deity will be getting involved in the first place. As science advances and acts of God or gods start to be explained away, people have to face the choice of trying to understand a scientific explanation for these happenings that to a lot of people (myself included) is just so much mumbo-jumbo, or the easy way out of holding to a morality tale that wraps the story up in a nice little bow on the terms of how you should be a good person according to the book in which they are.

Choosing to have faith is a personal choice, and honestly, one that I can't fault people for, but choosing faith over the scientific method is both dangerous and willfully ignorant. And having come from that sort of background, I can understand where this need comes from. There's a Bible verse among others that my folks drilled me through with memorization and catchy music that goes like this: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1. At first glance this is a simple talk about how if you believe in God and Jesus and be nice to the people around you, nice things will happen to you.

But that was because they - as you point out - had no way of understanding what had transpired at the time.  If you or I had lived at that time, without the benefit of modern knowledge and understanding, we might have easily thought the same thing.  I did a study on the development of modern pharmaceuticals, and it took a very long time through human history to even get to germ theory - and even that was being hotly debated for a century after Hooke, the microscope, and the reveal of cells.

I bring this up because if you go back in history, you find a man named Marcus Terentius Varro - as you might expect from the name, he was a Roman citizen (most notably an equestrian) and scholar.  This was right around the time of Caesar and Pompey, as Varro commanded one of Pompey's armies in the Roman Civil War.

Varro anticipated - by well over a millennia and a half - the development of epistemology and microbiology, having warned colleagues to avoid swamps because "there are bred certain minute creatures which cannot be seen by the eyes, but which float in the air and enter the body through the mouth and nose and cause serious diseases."  But here's the thing - he had quite literally no way of proving his hypothesis, that would have to be left to people who came long after he was dead.

I agree with you, in that choosing an alternate explanation for something for which there is evidence over one which lacks any such thing is dangerous - but that presumes that A, there is an alternate explanation to begin with, and B, that there is evidence for that alternate explanation.  And perhaps C, that there is someone who is capable of understanding both the explanation and the evidence.

Take Galileo and the Catholic Church - Galileo had solid evidence that the Earth revolved around the sun, not the other way around, but the Church refused his statements because, in their opinion, they "refuted holy Scripture."  (Though I will point out that nowhere - explicitly or implicitly - does it say in the Bible anything about this matter.)

But you look at it without the context and in the way that it is blindly followed, and you see that it actually means that if you believe in something hard enough, that makes it true. And that, to me anyways, is as clarifying as it is terrifying. If I believe hard enough that the Earth is flat, that makes it true. If I believe hard enough that my skin color makes me a better person than people with difference skin colors than mine, that makes it true. And so on.

Which is why you need to take what the Bible says within the context of everything around it - and within the context of the time that it was written.  A friend of mine has a saying: "A text, without context, is pretext."  I say it this way: "you can make anything say anything you want, if you're willing to ignore all the rest of it."
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 08:37:02 PM by ReijiTabibito »

Offline Trevino

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #41 on: August 24, 2017, 08:38:31 PM »

A more logical explanation can be found though. Scientists have tracked some meteorological happenings around that time. And by meteorological happenings, I mean a half-mile wide asteroid. Before it could land, it apparently morphed into a three-mile-wide fire ball before clipping a mountain range and exploding in a rain of fiery debris. But don't beat yourself up for not getting that from the Biblical account.

I'm not 100% sure about the details, but here's a few links on the topic: http://www.bris.ac.uk/news/2008/212017945233.html
https://www.universetoday.com/13560/evidence-of-asteroid-impact-for-sodom-and-gomorrah/

As a general rule I actually tend to be a bit skeptical with ascribing particular natural phenomena to (alleged) historic events. An asteroid hitting a particular city is improbable as is, and more often than not, it's pretty difficult to identify exactly what city the ruins once were (at least without a number of contemporarious sources; some cities were so well documented that we know exactly where they are, even thousands of years after the fact. Other cities, not so much).

After all, there is also the possibility that the events in the Bible were either made up, or grossly exaggerated, for propaganda purposes...

Evidentiary-based arguments can be tricky, because in order to prove your argument, you either need to prove that your hypothesis is correct - or that all other hypotheses cannot possibly be correct.  Now, a lot of those arguments are not too difficult - Geocentrism vs Heliocentrism, as example - but if you want to prove that the material universe really is all there is, there isn't much other option.

Not really. You would only need to prove that a particular hypothesis is unnecessary, redundant, trivial, or logically inconsistent. When it comes to supernatural phenomenon one hardly needs to go much beyond the proof by contradiction stage as I demonstrated earlier (i.e. the problem of first causes).


Simpler in the intellectual sense, yes, in that you don't have to have an understanding of the scientific disciplines.

To point out - Occam's Razor says that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.  But that's all that it says.  Yes, saying that God created the universe and life raises a whole bunch of other questions - is God real, why did he create the universe, etc - but I have answered this question with the simplest explanation available.  Occam's Razor does not say 'the explanation with the fewest subsequent questions raised' (because any answer to anything will have subsequent questions, when you are dealing with a matter this complex) is the 'usually' correct one; it says that the simplest explanation is.

I will admit to it being a technical answer to a question that is non-technical, but I'm playing the opposite side of the field here.

And this is incorrect. Occam's Razor actually has two rules; one is that, as has been pointed out, the simplest explanation is usually the best one. A corollary to that is the more assumptions you have to make, the more unlikely the explanation actually is. The number of assumptions that you have to include in an explanation is very important, as more assumptions will generally raise red flags. This is why most monotheists can easily dismiss the existence of multiple gods (and also why atheists can dismiss theism altogether without much trouble...)
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 09:18:29 PM by Trevino »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #42 on: August 24, 2017, 09:18:36 PM »
I have a few issues in technicality.

Firstly, Occam's Razor.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Occam%27s%20razor

It states that assumptions not be multiplied, in the case that if you must make an assumption to prove a hypothesis, that assumption is an undue complication. In that light, it would make the assumption of the existence of a deity something of a stronger complication, yes?

The second issue I have is comparing the time scales of historical learning to the comparative leaps that we see in today's progressions. In antiquity, the church held sway over everything, regardless of what church it was. There are pockets, small examples of information being lauded above the metaphysical beliefs, but these are few and far between. Proposing an idea that countered any accepted word of the church was tantamount to signing your own death warrant, whether it be through sentencing that would result in your execution or else in exile that would keep your society from offering you anything even in employment or fair trade. It made it nearly impossible to further knowledge and survive. Granted, that did not often cover the concept of microbiology, but lets also remember that telescopes weren't really a thing in the ancient world, particularly as they are now, and any use that might seem to mimic that of a telescope would run into the religious stymie issue that was covered before.

Galileo

In fact, the bible specifically says that the sun and moon were set by god into "the firmament of the sky" which likened it to a window or dome. This is often the cited source theologians use to "prove" that the earth is flat and that the sky is a dome, rather than the explanations the scientifically literate know to be true. I know there are other sources that are often mentioned, but for the life of me I cannot recall them at the moment.

As for the response Reiji put forward about the hows of god destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, I find it tricky to use that argument (Why could god not use a meteor and it still be his will?) when so often the same in regards to evolution v. creationism is often enough to have you screamed out of the room. I can, however, recognize that it is a decent point and acknowledge it would be difficult to prove otherwise.


Demon: While I agree with much of what you said (some points hilariously so), I also have to point out a small quibble that maybe doesn't even really have to do with the conversation at hand. While I understand the point you were driving at about trying real hard and believing real hard to make something so, I don't believe faith to be a choice, to a degree. I believe it to be a lack of understanding of conflicting evidence.

No matter how hard you try, you won't stand on a bottom stair and convince yourself that you are on a seaside cliff. I disagree that you can create belief where there is none. There have been things I have wanted to believe, absolutely, because they would have been wonderful and transformative and blah, blah, blah... But just WANTING to believe something is real and being imbued with the sort of faith that the religious and others claim to feel isn't the same thing. I honestly think it's impossible to believe something on purpose. On some level, your mind always knows that it's tricking you.

Or at least, in my experience, forced belief has been frustratingly beyond me.


Trevino: I find that skepticism is pretty healthy. However, there are a significant amount of data analysis that can tell us with relative accuracy what sorts of bodies have been present in the solar system hundreds, thousands, even millions of years ago. If they've managed to locate the place where these cities were located, then there's likely to be craters and dating methods that will tell us how old that crater (craters) is/are. If there's debris from the explosion that Demon mentioned, that, too can be dated. While it is possible that something happened "Around" the same time frame but might have missed by as small a scale as a hundred years, generally speaking that's a much smaller margin for error than that proposed by holy texts. Often these are written hundreds, even thousands of years after the issue said to have taken place. Even the bible's new testament gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) were written decades after the alleged death of Jesus and the supposed resurrection.

I agree with everything you said in a technicality standpoint, but I do point out that the bible was something that took place in a very small area of the world. It was often descriptive based off of the communities that were inhabiting a particular area at the time, and finally, it's easy to say that a meteor hitting a particular city is an improbability. Especially if you were trying to have it hit and decided that was the one before the attack.

But if I may propose a scenario I believe Demon was trying to get out?

One day, Achmed is out in the field and looks up to see an explosive force (mushroom cloud, great fire, whatever) in the distance. He wonders what it is. He tells Kalah that he saw something, and she asks, "Isn't that were Sodom was located?" Achmed shakes his head and says "No, probably Gommorrah."

Achmed and Kalah make their way to a gathering of people nearby, a village that sees the devastation and thinks to themselves "We should go to see what is happening, be sure they're alright." Achmed leaves home, travels there and finds that the whole area is utterly destroyed by a force larger than any he has seen. He asks Mohammad and Frank what they think, and neither of them has ever seen something like this before. It must be god! And he's angry. And thus the justifications that Demon mentioned.

In short, I don't think it was so much that it was a bit improbable to hit a city with a meteor, but more likely that a meteor hit, a city was destroyed and the story created afterward in order to explain it.

I'll point out that the ancient Greeks did the same thing... with echoes. And reflections. Natural phenomena explained by creating an overly complicated story that is reinforced with theological duct-tape when someone brings up a half-way decent question to challenge it.

Online Regina Minx

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #43 on: August 24, 2017, 09:27:20 PM »
To point out - Occam's Razor says that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.  But that's all that it says.  Yes, saying that God created the universe and life raises a whole bunch of other questions - is God real, why did he create the universe, etc - but I have answered this question with the simplest explanation available. 

Again, you've shown that you don't understand Occam's Razor. The phrasing of the original principle has nothing to do with the simplicity of the explanation. It has to do with the parsimony of the explanation.

Here's an illustrative example. Five people are standing in the middle of a field. One by one, they all experience a physical sensation on their torso. They look under their clothes, and they see red marks on their bodies. None of them saw anything that could have caused it. All five people try to come up with an explanation.

Abigail says, "I don't know what caused that."

Bob says, "Despite the fact that we didn't see anything, it was probably a small animal or insect bite."

Cecelia says, "It was an alien ship in orbit firing a death ray at us on low power."

Dashiel says "It was invisible elves that live in this part of the country, cursing us with magic."

Elliot says "It was God Almighty that put His hand on us."

None of the five people know what caused the marks on their bodies; they are and might remain unexplained because they lack sufficient data to justify their beliefs. Abigail is actually the most reasonable responder to the question because she's not willing to go beyond what the evidence allows, but let's pretend we must come up with an explanation.

In order of increasing probability, we have Bob. Bob is making a parsimonious explanation; accepting his theory does not require that you accept anything more than you already do. You know that there are animals that scratch, and you know there are insects too small to see.

Then we have Cecelia. Cecelia is actually posting new things that we don't previously know to be true. Aliens with death rays visiting earth. And yet, this is not a completely unreasonable explanation in comparision to what's to come. Cecelia is at least referring strictly to natural things and things that we can explain in terms of other things we know.

Then we have Dashiel. We have to make more and more ad hoc assumptions to accept his theory as true. We have to accept elves, magic, invisibility. None of this is in our pool of background knowledge, and if we exclude Abigail and Elliot, it's the least parsimonious explanation offered. It has a low prior probability of being true because of all of those new elements he's putting in.

And yet, for all that Dashiel is offering a poor explanation, it can't even hold a candle to Elliot. Elliot's explanation requires us to assume not only the same degree of supernatural belief as Dashiel, but everything in the previous list of undefined, contradictory, atypical, and bizarre elements. Mind that exists without body. Existence outside of time. Divine will which can accomplish things through undefined means.

It is by no means a parsimonious explanation. It has the least amount of support in favor of it (and might not even be provable at all in concept), and it's the one that ought to be rejected every single time.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 09:31:32 PM by Regina Minx »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #44 on: August 24, 2017, 09:42:22 PM »
Firstly, Occam's Razor.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Occam%27s%20razor

It states that assumptions not be multiplied, in the case that if you must make an assumption to prove a hypothesis, that assumption is an undue complication. In that light, it would make the assumption of the existence of a deity something of a stronger complication, yes?

Again, you've shown that you don't understand Occam's Razor. The phrasing of the original principle has nothing to do with the simplicity of the explanation. It has to do with the parsimony of the explanation.

And this is incorrect. Occam's Razor actually has two rules; one is that, as has been pointed out, the simplest explanation is usually the best one. A corollary to that is the more assumptions you have to make, the more unlikely the explanation actually is. The number of assumptions that you have to include in an explanation is very important, as more assumptions will generally raise red flags. This is why most monotheists can easily dismiss the existence of multiple gods (and also why atheists can dismiss theism altogether without much trouble...)

Except, that's not what was stated.  The statement was the initial rule that the simplest explanation is the best, leaving out the corollary.  I was able to construct and make an argument I would not otherwise have been able to make, simply because that corollary was left out.  (Yes, I was aware I was totally wrong, though I realize in this instance, I haven't any way to prove that other than to state that I know I was.)  This is why when we use tools like the Razor that it is important that we use them in their entirety, and that the person we are using them with/on/against is aware of the totality of them, as well.

Again, no evidence, just my word on it, but I'm with you guys in a lot of what we're talking about here - but when we argue, we have to avoid unforced errors like this one, otherwise the opposition can construct counter-arguments.  Now, you guys can counter-argue back - as you did, and rightfully - but to use a medical analogy - ounce, prevention; pound, cure.

Offline Trevino

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #45 on: August 24, 2017, 09:48:46 PM »
Trevino: I find that skepticism is pretty healthy. However, there are a significant amount of data analysis that can tell us with relative accuracy what sorts of bodies have been present in the solar system hundreds, thousands, even millions of years ago. If they've managed to locate the place where these cities were located, then there's likely to be craters and dating methods that will tell us how old that crater (craters) is/are. If there's debris from the explosion that Demon mentioned, that, too can be dated. While it is possible that something happened "Around" the same time frame but might have missed by as small a scale as a hundred years, generally speaking that's a much smaller margin for error than that proposed by holy texts. Often these are written hundreds, even thousands of years after the issue said to have taken place. Even the bible's new testament gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) were written decades after the alleged death of Jesus and the supposed resurrection.

I agree with everything you said in a technicality standpoint, but I do point out that the bible was something that took place in a very small area of the world. It was often descriptive based off of the communities that were inhabiting a particular area at the time, and finally, it's easy to say that a meteor hitting a particular city is an improbability. Especially if you were trying to have it hit and decided that was the one before the attack.

But if I may propose a scenario I believe Demon was trying to get out?

One day, Achmed is out in the field and looks up to see an explosive force (mushroom cloud, great fire, whatever) in the distance. He wonders what it is. He tells Kalah that he saw something, and she asks, "Isn't that were Sodom was located?" Achmed shakes his head and says "No, probably Gommorrah."

Achmed and Kalah make their way to a gathering of people nearby, a village that sees the devastation and thinks to themselves "We should go to see what is happening, be sure they're alright." Achmed leaves home, travels there and finds that the whole area is utterly destroyed by a force larger than any he has seen. He asks Mohammad and Frank what they think, and neither of them has ever seen something like this before. It must be god! And he's angry. And thus the justifications that Demon mentioned.

In short, I don't think it was so much that it was a bit improbable to hit a city with a meteor, but more likely that a meteor hit, a city was destroyed and the story created afterward in order to explain it.

I'll point out that the ancient Greeks did the same thing... with echoes. And reflections. Natural phenomena explained by creating an overly complicated story that is reinforced with theological duct-tape when someone brings up a half-way decent question to challenge it.


That is certainly true, but only if the meteorite actually left a crater. Many meteorites or asteroids will just simply explode before hitting the ground, as has happened with the Tunguska event. Now, it is certainly possible that something like that could have happened, and we might be able to determine this from the archeological record, but the task would be hugely more difficult.

But whether or not an asteroid did actually strike that area a long time ago is not that important (or if any natural phenomena was associated with any of the stories of the bible for that matter). The main issue with the bible (either the old or new testament) is that the historicity of the text is suspect. Some of its stories or accounts have already been dis-proven, and there is no evidence at all for the existence of some key figures of the bible (such as Moses or Jesus). And there is also the fact that there is strong evidence that some of the stories may have actually been plagiarized from other sources (for instance Noah's Flood and the Epic of Gilgamesh bear an uncanny resemblance).

But probably the biggest red flag is just simply the fact that many of its stories just aren't corroborated by a number of contemporary sources. Egypt has no mention of Moses that we know of, and the earliest reference to Christians comes from a Roman text, some 100 years after the supposed life and death of Jesus (the Romans thought of them as a cult as a matter of fact around this time period).

Except, that's not what was stated.  The statement was the initial rule that the simplest explanation is the best, leaving out the corollary.  I was able to construct and make an argument I would not otherwise have been able to make, simply because that corollary was left out.  (Yes, I was aware I was totally wrong, though I realize in this instance, I haven't any way to prove that other than to state that I know I was.)  This is why when we use tools like the Razor that it is important that we use them in their entirety, and that the person we are using them with/on/against is aware of the totality of them, as well.

Again, no evidence, just my word on it, but I'm with you guys in a lot of what we're talking about here - but when we argue, we have to avoid unforced errors like this one, otherwise the opposition can construct counter-arguments.  Now, you guys can counter-argue back - as you did, and rightfully - but to use a medical analogy - ounce, prevention; pound, cure.

Doesn't work that way :P. Using Occam's Razor necessarily entails going with the explanation that requires the least assumptions as a matter of principle. Otherwise you are just simply moving the goalposts, or engaging in special pleading (both of which are logical fallacies).
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 10:06:53 PM by Trevino »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #46 on: August 24, 2017, 10:07:52 PM »
Some of its stories or accounts have already been dis-proven, and there is no evidence at all for the existence of some key figures of the bible (such as Moses or Jesus). And there is also the fact that there is strong evidence that some of the stories may have actually been plagiarized from other sources (for instance Noah's Flood and the Epic of Gilgamesh bear an uncanny resemblance).

The bit about the Canaanites is old hat - if you read the Bible, God tells the Israelites to wipe out the Canaanites because their worship of other deities will take them away from God and break their agreement (that's what the Ten Commandments were, a covenant between God and them).  The Israelites don't do this, and literally half the crap that happens to them in the remaining Old Testament is because of such, up and to the fall of the now-divided kingdom to the Babylonians.

Moses is one thing, but nearly all scholars - Biblical and otherwise - agreed that Jesus was an historical figure, though to what degree the Gospels reflect his historicity is in doubt.   At the very least, a number of figures named throughout Jesus' life - Herod the Tetrarch, Quirinius, and Pontius Pilate - were absolutely historical, as well.

As for Noah/Gilgamesh, what if both were describing the same phenomenon?  That wouldn't make it stealing from one source to write another, that would be corroboration.  There is a theory out there that dragons were real at one point in human memory, simply because every antiquity culture has something draconic.

Doesn't work that way :P. Using Occam's Razor necessarily entails going with the explanation that requires the least assumptions as a matter of principle. Otherwise you are just simply moving the goalposts, or engaging in special pleading (both of which are logical fallacies).

I know that.  You know that.  But it's a bad assumption to think that everyone knows that.  I worked in a science laboratory where we grappled with chemistry and the inner workings of the universe all day when I was in college, but some of the graduate students I collaborated with hadn't a single clue what Occam's Razor was, or had the mis-understood version of "simplest explanation is usually right."  And these were not dumb people.  If they hadn't a correct understanding of it, what chance do you think the average American has?
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 10:12:18 PM by ReijiTabibito »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #47 on: August 24, 2017, 10:22:22 PM »
I'm.... sorry, Reiji, but I find I'm now completely lost on what it was you were trying to demonstrate, how the corollary is inapplicable to the situation at hand and now find myself completely confused as well about the pound, prevention, ounce, cure concept.

You said "To point out - Occam's Razor says that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.  But that's all that it says. " It was to this statement that I was referring in correcting you. That is not all it says, and the rest has to be applied in due course. Yes, I agree it's necessary to be sure that everyone understands the terms as they are put forward, the same with "Atheist" and "Theory", but their lack of information does not change the concept as it is used. My lack of understanding of something does not invalidate it as a tool.

I've never been quite clear on why it is up to me to be sure the person doesn't fall into a trap they should have been educated out of. I understand, I think, that you were trying to point out how easy it is to make a case against the one we're making, but I don't think that serves a purpose here. A case can be made against all manner of things that are simply immovable facts. That doesn't mean that they should or that we are responsible for preventing all of them.

Trevino:

I will admit to the first bit, with crater and subsequently for a lot of other evidence that could be sought and could very well simply end up not being present, though with each new method the likelihood of there being no evidence becomes lesser and lesser. However, to address your point, I understand that the skepticism, I believe, was being used as a tool to point out that explaining away the supposed events of the bible with natural phenomena only serves to reinforce some modicum of legitimacy that simply isn't necessary to address, given that the occurrence of the events haven't been adequately supported anyway. A cart-before-the-horse scenario if you will.

A complete lack of evidence is often my first observation on the subject as well, so I can concede that point enthusiastically.


Reji:

Sorry, Jesus WAS a historical figure? I'd be very much interested in that, since what I'd last heard from a papal physicist was to claim that no evidence was recognized of his existence. Or at least, not under the identity known to the modern world.

I would posit that I could make a story up about myself and the Obamas vacationing in Maui, that does not prove that I was the Vice President. I existed, and by name it would be similar, and the figures I name in this story might exist in reality, but that doesn't mean the character I create for myself exists. If you have something that might support it, I would be keen to see it.

As for Gilgamesh... it is supposed to be the earliest written work that has been found of any of human history. The mere writing of it is said to put the lie to the six thousand year old earth claim, since it predates what the bible claims to be the beginning of the world. How, then, could it NOT be stealing from one source (which existed in the same area far beforehand) to create the next? The theory of the draconic is a little... I don't know, suspect. I've heard it said in discussion that if there were dinosaur bones in a place, there would be dragon tales. I'm not sure how this relates to the Gilgamesh thing except as a very, VERY flimsy reasoning to believe that one thing was confirming another when Gilgamesh was written as fiction and the bible is lauded as testament.

Given that they were written at different times, set in different times, the basis of the stories were completely different excepting the part about the actual flood... I feel as though this is a nonsense hypothesis that hasn't even circumstantial evidence to support it.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #48 on: August 24, 2017, 11:01:14 PM »
I'm.... sorry, Reiji, but I find I'm now completely lost on what it was you were trying to demonstrate, how the corollary is inapplicable to the situation at hand and now find myself completely confused as well about the pound, prevention, ounce, cure concept.

Sorry.  Sometimes I try and be clever and I end up losing the point I was trying to make initially.  To try and explain.  The corollary is not inapplicable to the situation; the medical analogy I was going for basically states an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.  To adapt it for this particular situation - it's better to, if you can, deny the use of counter-arguments to your opposition than to have an argument that will counter theirs.

Two people, X and Y, are having a debate.  Which is the more efficient, easier method?

X makes an argument to which Y has no counter-argument - OR - X makes an argument, Y makes a counter-argument against X, X makes a counter-counter-argument against Y.

Reji:

Sorry, Jesus WAS a historical figure? I'd be very much interested in that, since what I'd last heard from a papal physicist was to claim that no evidence was recognized of his existence. Or at least, not under the identity known to the modern world.

I would posit that I could make a story up about myself and the Obamas vacationing in Maui, that does not prove that I was the Vice President. I existed, and by name it would be similar, and the figures I name in this story might exist in reality, but that doesn't mean the character I create for myself exists. If you have something that might support it, I would be keen to see it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sources_for_the_historicity_of_Jesus

Check those.  Also, who is your source - the papal physicist?  I won't make any further judgments, but I don't want someone whose specialty is physics telling me either religion or history, or both.  As for the statement, as best as I can make of it - the guy from the Vatican is basically saying that there's no evidence Jesus was who modernity makes him out to be - IE, Son of God, crucified on the cross, resurrected, etc.  That is a different question - whether or not the Gospels support the historical Jesus, not if Jesus actually existed.

As for Gilgamesh... it is supposed to be the earliest written work that has been found of any of human history. The mere writing of it is said to put the lie to the six thousand year old earth claim, since it predates what the bible claims to be the beginning of the world. How, then, could it NOT be stealing from one source (which existed in the same area far beforehand) to create the next? The theory of the draconic is a little... I don't know, suspect. I've heard it said in discussion that if there were dinosaur bones in a place, there would be dragon tales. I'm not sure how this relates to the Gilgamesh thing except as a very, VERY flimsy reasoning to believe that one thing was confirming another when Gilgamesh was written as fiction and the bible is lauded as testament.

Given that they were written at different times, set in different times, the basis of the stories were completely different excepting the part about the actual flood... I feel as though this is a nonsense hypothesis that hasn't even circumstantial evidence to support it.

Except.

1 - several cultures have flood narratives, and some of these are cultures that would have had no reasonable contact with the others.  The Greeks have the story of Deucalion; Hinduism has the story of Manu; the Norse story of Bergelmir; the Mayans have such a story; the Obijwa (a minor American Indian tribe); the Muisca (a Southern American people who lived in what is now Colombia); and if none of that matters, the Aborigines of Australia have one, too.

2 - The Epic of Gilgamesh is usually considered the earliest known work of literature.  But, there is strong evidence to indicate that the flood story presented in Gilgamesh was actually taken from another story, the Epic of Atrahasis.  Stories about Gilgamesh were told as early as 2100 BC, during the 3rd Dynasty of Ur.  The earliest versions that we have of the Epic date from somewhere between 2000 to 1500 BC, but these are fragmentary at best and don't tell the whole story.  The 'standard' version of the Epic of Gilgamesh we have in modernity dates from around 1300-1000 BC.  In contrast, the Epic of Atrahasis is firmly dated as being during the reign of the great-grandson of Hammurabi, a time frame of the 1600s BC.

To try and use an analogy - are you familiar with the Cthulhu Mythos?

Online Regina Minx

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #49 on: August 25, 2017, 07:30:51 AM »
Moses is one thing, but nearly all scholars - Biblical and otherwise - agreed that Jesus was an historical figure, though to what degree the Gospels reflect his historicity is in doubt.   At the very least, a number of figures named throughout Jesus' life - Herod the Tetrarch, Quirinius, and Pontius Pilate - were absolutely historical, as well.

It is WAY beyond the scope of this thread to bring up the historicity of Jesus. What I am going to do is agree with your first point: yes, the consensus of those in Jesus studies is that Jesus was historical. So yes, the burden of proof clearly falls on anyone who would challenge the consensus

But that is not to say that we can't argue that the current consensus has been improperly generated. And historians, especially historians in the field of Jesus study, do make assertions out of proportions to the evidence or simply cite the consensus without checking about how that consensus was actually generated.

Richard Carrier makes this argument in his book 'Proving History.' That book doesn't attempt to argue the historicity/mythicism debate, it merely lays the groundwork for demonstrating how the consensus is logically fallacious and not based on a sound historical methodology.

The fact that proponents of the historical Jesus produce so many different historical Jesuses is an illustrative point on this topic. You have Jesus the Jewish Cynic Sage, Jesus the Rabbinical Holy Man, Jesus the Devoted Pharisee, Jesus the Heretical Essene, Jesus the Political Revolutionary, Jesus the Zealot, Jesus the Apocalyptic Prophet. Jesus the Messianic Pretender, Jesus the Actual Messiah, Jesus the Folk Wizard, Jesus the Mystic and “Child of Sophia”, Jesus the Nonviolent Social Reformer, and Jesus the Actual Davidic Heir and Founder of the Royal Bloodline.

And this is not even a complete list. The fact that almost no one in Jesus studies agrees with almost anyone else about the nature of this historical person they all agree existed should lead one to question whether certainty in their own theory is really even warranted, since everyone else is just as certain, and yet they should all be fully competent to arrive at a sound conclusion from the evidence. Obviously, something is fundamentally wrong with the methods of the entire community. When a scholarly community uses, in principle, the same method of historical study, applies it to the same facts, and gets different answers in the range of the partial list above, we can be certain that there is a fundamental flaw in method.

Progress is supposed to increase knowledge and consensus and sharpen the picture of what happened (or what we don't know), not the reverse. Instead, Jesus scholars continue multiplying contradictory pictures of Jesus, rather than narrowing them down and increasing their clarity— or at least reaching a consensus on the scale and scope of our uncertainty or ignorance. More importantly, the many contradictory versions of Jesus (Jesus could not have been, for example, both a Pharisee and a Zealot) now confidently touted by different Jesus scholars are all so very plausible— yet not all can be true. In fact, as only one (at most) can be.

Again, this is a derailment and I'm not interested in having the historicity debate here. I'm merely pointing out an objection to your argument that the consensus argues for a historical Jesus ignores the fact that we have good reason to believe that the consensus was improperly generated.

Offline Trevino

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #50 on: August 25, 2017, 07:34:38 AM »
I know that.  You know that.  But it's a bad assumption to think that everyone knows that.  I worked in a science laboratory where we grappled with chemistry and the inner workings of the universe all day when I was in college, but some of the graduate students I collaborated with hadn't a single clue what Occam's Razor was, or had the mis-understood version of "simplest explanation is usually right."  And these were not dumb people.  If they hadn't a correct understanding of it, what chance do you think the average American has?

To that I would say, regardless of the circumstances, it is still special pleading. We can't just change the rules of logic or rhetoric simply because some people suck at it. And yes, it is a truism that education does not necessarily guarantee that those individuals will be free of committing logical fallacies, particularly if they have no formal training in mathematical logic. But that shouldn't stop us from pointing it out when it occurs. They may be smart, but they are still wrong.

If the problem is merely ignorance of applicable logic, then it would only be a matter of training to correct their thinking processes. I find it more likely, though, that you probably ran into quite a few people who engaged in special pleading, moving goalposts, or outright red herrings.


Except.

1 - several cultures have flood narratives, and some of these are cultures that would have had no reasonable contact with the others.  The Greeks have the story of Deucalion; Hinduism has the story of Manu; the Norse story of Bergelmir; the Mayans have such a story; the Obijwa (a minor American Indian tribe); the Muisca (a Southern American people who lived in what is now Colombia); and if none of that matters, the Aborigines of Australia have one, too.

Yes, that's certainly true. But for the most part they are also very dissimilar to each other, both in their narratives and also in their literary and cultural contexts. When it comes to the Book of Genesis, the similarities with the Epic of Gilgamesh is so obvious that we can say that it probably acted as the source material for the first few chapters of the Bible. It's not particularly important if the Epic itself was derived from an earlier source.


But that is not to say that we can't argue that the current consensus has been improperly generated. And historians, especially historians in the field of Jesus study, do make assertions out of proportions to the evidence or simply cite the consensus without checking about how that consensus was actually generated.

Richard Carrier makes this argument in his book 'Proving History.' That book doesn't attempt to argue the historicity/mythicism debate, it merely lays the groundwork for demonstrating how the consensus is logically fallacious and not based on a sound historical methodology.

+1

Said much better than I could have put it.

Overall though, I do think that this reinforces my earlier point about the inherent problems of ascribing historicity to any religious or mythological text (the Bible is only the most egregious instance of this). The narratives all tend to be contradictory, for one. Another thing, why do we even need to assume that the Bible actually describes historic events? Nobody thinks the Greek or Roman mythologies have any historicity whatsoever, so what makes the Bible special in this regard?
« Last Edit: August 25, 2017, 08:31:14 AM by Trevino »

Offline Serephino

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #51 on: August 25, 2017, 09:58:25 AM »
The way I've perceived things is this; many times when a person holds a strong belief and say it is rooted in their faith, they are talking out of their ass.  The truth of the matter is the belief is theirs, but they cherry pick from their faith to justify it.  Because if they can convince themselves that God is on their side, well, then who is anyone to challenge them?  You can see it all in history.  If I remember correctly, Pope Urban II started the crusades, because, well, God.  And then everyone went along with him, because, well, God.  Before the Age of Enlightenment if you claimed your orders came from God all argument stopped, and it seems very religious people want that to still be true.  It's very annoying and frustrating.

Offline Trevino

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #52 on: August 25, 2017, 12:32:00 PM »
The way I've perceived things is this; many times when a person holds a strong belief and say it is rooted in their faith, they are talking out of their ass.  The truth of the matter is the belief is theirs, but they cherry pick from their faith to justify it.  Because if they can convince themselves that God is on their side, well, then who is anyone to challenge them?  You can see it all in history.  If I remember correctly, Pope Urban II started the crusades, because, well, God.  And then everyone went along with him, because, well, God.  Before the Age of Enlightenment if you claimed your orders came from God all argument stopped, and it seems very religious people want that to still be true.  It's very annoying and frustrating.


I think a great deal more people wish it were true than just the orthodox religious guys. One of the defining characteristics of the Abrahamic religions is the conceit that, by subscribing to that group, you are therefore inherently superior to all other nonbelievers (i.e. those who would be classed as Heathens, blasphemers, etc.). At least the orthodox people will be honest about their beliefs, however repugnant they may be for the populace at large.

You don't get that vibe from, say, certain sects of Buddhism or the various polytheistic religions from antiquity (the Greeks, Romans, or the Celts). For the ancient Greeks in particular, religion was just simply a take it or leave it affair, and their mythologies did not even bother to try to impart moral wisdom to its believers (maybe except for the warning against hubris).
« Last Edit: August 25, 2017, 12:35:48 PM by Trevino »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #53 on: August 30, 2017, 09:03:20 PM »
Sorry.  Sometimes I try and be clever and I end up losing the point I was trying to make initially.  To try and explain.  The corollary is not inapplicable to the situation; the medical analogy I was going for basically states an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.  To adapt it for this particular situation - it's better to, if you can, deny the use of counter-arguments to your opposition than to have an argument that will counter theirs.

Two people, X and Y, are having a debate.  Which is the more efficient, easier method?

X makes an argument to which Y has no counter-argument - OR - X makes an argument, Y makes a counter-argument against X, X makes a counter-counter-argument against Y.

We cannot account for every argument made or that could potentially be made against good sense. That said, yes, it's best to steer them away from being able to make other arguments. However, the emotional side of the debate is never given to debating by means of rigid rules and strict guidelines that provide technical victories rather than actually influencing the minds of those to whom they speak or whom might be listening. Yes, it's a good idea to be sure we curb as many dumb conversations as possible. However, being too semantic will only alienate both opposition and ally, setting work back significantly on any progress we hope to have earned.

I agree that it would be convenient to be able to shut up their stupid (read: unreasonable) arguments prior to their ability to voice them, but I'm utterly convinced that even arguing in the manner that you specify would require a LOT of research for conversations that usually happen on the fly, and would only provoke stupider, more egregious arguments against which there is no sane defense. As such, I'm not sure why you insisted the rest of us jumped through all those hoops to try to figure out what you were talking about.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sources_for_the_historicity_of_Jesus

Check those.  Also, who is your source - the papal physicist?  I won't make any further judgments, but I don't want someone whose specialty is physics telling me either religion or history, or both.  As for the statement, as best as I can make of it - the guy from the Vatican is basically saying that there's no evidence Jesus was who modernity makes him out to be - IE, Son of God, crucified on the cross, resurrected, etc.  That is a different question - whether or not the Gospels support the historical Jesus, not if Jesus actually existed.

The papal physicist is named  Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ, the Director of the Vatican Observatory. The Vatican actually employs a great number of scientists, and has for quite a while. My first introduction to the idea was on Startalk, an episode about the Star of Bethlehem. While I cannot link you to the podcast itself, this article may help to give a rundown of it. If you happen to have the means to find StarTalk available to you, I highly suggest it. It's a wide range of topics that can sublimate an interesting education.

While I agree that there is something of a skepticism to listening to the Vatican on the topic of anything scientific, let us not forget that many of the most influential members of the physics, astrophysics, mathematics and biology worlds were in some way working with the church, despite the whole excommunication threat. It was simply a way of life, then.

Except.

1 - several cultures have flood narratives, and some of these are cultures that would have had no reasonable contact with the others.  The Greeks have the story of Deucalion; Hinduism has the story of Manu; the Norse story of Bergelmir; the Mayans have such a story; the Obijwa (a minor American Indian tribe); the Muisca (a Southern American people who lived in what is now Colombia); and if none of that matters, the Aborigines of Australia have one, too.

2 - The Epic of Gilgamesh is usually considered the earliest known work of literature.  But, there is strong evidence to indicate that the flood story presented in Gilgamesh was actually taken from another story, the Epic of Atrahasis.  Stories about Gilgamesh were told as early as 2100 BC, during the 3rd Dynasty of Ur.  The earliest versions that we have of the Epic date from somewhere between 2000 to 1500 BC, but these are fragmentary at best and don't tell the whole story.  The 'standard' version of the Epic of Gilgamesh we have in modernity dates from around 1300-1000 BC.  In contrast, the Epic of Atrahasis is firmly dated as being during the reign of the great-grandson of Hammurabi, a time frame of the 1600s BC.

To try and use an analogy - are you familiar with the Cthulhu Mythos?

Flood narratives existing, even on a large, claimed-worldwide scale, isn't evidence of anything except that people feared floods. These people also generally had deities of thunderstorms, drought, war, famine, death, magic and fire. It does not in any way support the concept of retelling the tale of the biblical Moses under different guises, nor does it support the idea that this biblical account might have (or could have) reached all of these communities. Instead, I would probably liken it to the common dream of falling and waking upon impact with whatever surface one was sleeping on - that is to say, one's mind preying on a fear that is innately held in humanity. People feared natural disasters and would of course see them as a warning from the powers purported to control weather events in the whole of the world.

(Also, I resent the Ojibwa being referred to as a "minor" anything, subjective accuracy or not.)

I was unaware of Ur, Atrahasis, or Hammurabi, it seems my education has some gaps. I'm still loath to agree on Gilgamesh being taken FROM anything (there's a problem I'm having here with "it predates the other" being equated to "it came from the other". I'm older, for instance, than all of my siblings...), but I'll admit it's a possibility and I didn't know there was anything that would be counted as possibly being before that.

I'm sorry, but I'm not familiar much with Cthulhu. That's the dude with a squid-monster face, right? Some sort of nautical figure with a squid for a head, usually dressed in seafaring garb?



Said much better than I could have put it.

Overall though, I do think that this reinforces my earlier point about the inherent problems of ascribing historicity to any religious or mythological text (the Bible is only the most egregious instance of this). The narratives all tend to be contradictory, for one. Another thing, why do we even need to assume that the Bible actually describes historic events? Nobody thinks the Greek or Roman mythologies have any historicity whatsoever, so what makes the Bible special in this regard?

Two things on this: Firstly, the consensus is, yes, sometimes unreliable, but we have a problem here. We have a stake in consensus, as well. We claim consensus in all kinds of things from evolution to the models of atomic composition to climate change and beyond. If we want to break down the consensus issues, we're going to have to be willing to throw all of those under the bus, as well.

That said, you mentioned why we have to assume the bible is historical, but I think there's a very obvious answer for where you're going with this. The trouble isn't that we assume it IS historical (in fact, we were talking about where that information might have come from. In some cases, it could be claimed to have come from one story and then another, passed down from civilization to civilization), but we are dealing with a bunch of people who fail to see the irony in claiming that they, unlike the Greeks and Romans before them, have found the TRUE god, and that's why the Greeks and Romans had such silly stories and why talking snakes and violent donkeys and stones that bleed water are historical and accurate and need to be the basis of everything from science to law to a patriarchal worldview.

The trouble, in this instance, is that these people truly believe that these things happened, and because these things obviously happened and the bible was always there, and it's too old to have been faked and ... (insert racist, sexist, ageist remarks, appeals to technology and superiority and circular logic here), then it should mandate all things, returning to the OP post, because it is the seat of all things true and moral and should be made standard.

We aren't REQUIRED to feel that the bible is historical, but if we're to square-off against people who do, we need to be prepared to get to the bottom of WHY they believe this, so we can show them the evidence we ACTUALLY have to the opposite.



The way I've perceived things is this; many times when a person holds a strong belief and say it is rooted in their faith, they are talking out of their ass.  The truth of the matter is the belief is theirs, but they cherry pick from their faith to justify it.  Because if they can convince themselves that God is on their side, well, then who is anyone to challenge them?  You can see it all in history.  If I remember correctly, Pope Urban II started the crusades, because, well, God.  And then everyone went along with him, because, well, God.  Before the Age of Enlightenment if you claimed your orders came from God all argument stopped, and it seems very religious people want that to still be true.  It's very annoying and frustrating.


Yes. It seems to me it comes down to power. You have those who are confident enough in themselves they function on the "live and love and let everything else slide" rules. There's those who aren't confident in themselves and want everyone to be as miserable as they, or in the dark as they (Ken Ham). Those who want the comfort that it brings, because they're scared people (Nothing wrong with that, but I remember grandmothers everywhere). Then there's those who want to use those deeply-held beliefs to further their own agenda, because it's teh quickest, deepest, most effective way of manipulating the largest number of people: Appeal to emotion.

Whatever way it comes about, yeah, I agree, frustrating. Completely frustrating.


I think a great deal more people wish it were true than just the orthodox religious guys. One of the defining characteristics of the Abrahamic religions is the conceit that, by subscribing to that group, you are therefore inherently superior to all other nonbelievers (i.e. those who would be classed as Heathens, blasphemers, etc.). At least the orthodox people will be honest about their beliefs, however repugnant they may be for the populace at large.

You don't get that vibe from, say, certain sects of Buddhism or the various polytheistic religions from antiquity (the Greeks, Romans, or the Celts). For the ancient Greeks in particular, religion was just simply a take it or leave it affair, and their mythologies did not even bother to try to impart moral wisdom to its believers (maybe except for the warning against hubris).

In general, I agree with you. I will, however, point out that the Romans and the Greeks both had huge problems with superiority. They would wipe out/amalgamate huge swathes of cultures to impose their banner over. The Greeks (to a lesser extent) and the Romans both used their "civilized" gods to take over Celtic lands, for instance, and impose their religion on the "barbarian gods". Sometimes, it was their grasp of science and technology that they would use, but it was often carried under the banner of replacing the heathen gods with those of benevolent or superior intellect. In fact, Rome even went so far as to quash any Celtic religion by imposing a ban on the mention of any highland gods, which led to the uprising of Boudica in the first century AD.

Religion is and always has been a card that has been used (if not intended) to justify superiority over non-believers, no matter how benevolent we would like to believe those individuals originally were.

Offline Oniya

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #54 on: August 30, 2017, 09:36:41 PM »
I'm sorry, but I'm not familiar much with Cthulhu. That's the dude with a squid-monster face, right? Some sort of nautical figure with a squid for a head, usually dressed in seafaring garb?

Old Squiddly, as he is sometimes affectionately referred to, is roughly bipedal with a squid or octopus for a face and bat wing - no other clothing is specified, unless you are Disney Studios, looking to make your pirate movie a bit less 'standard'.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #55 on: August 30, 2017, 09:42:19 PM »
For whatever reason, I seem to recall him being shown to me as dressed in a French naval officer's uniform, a sketch someone did that was made, at least, to look like it was antiquated.

A single bat wing? Very strange. Is this some old myth or something? Like the Minotaur or a basilisk?

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #56 on: August 30, 2017, 09:52:30 PM »
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cthulhu

TLDR: An elder god, or Cosmic entity that lives in the depths, worshiped by those that remember him. Created by writer H. P. Lovecraft and first introduced in the short story "The Call of Cthulhu", published in the American pulp magazine Weird Tales in 1928.

Has since become something of a cultural icon.


Offline Oniya

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #57 on: August 30, 2017, 10:00:57 PM »
For whatever reason, I seem to recall him being shown to me as dressed in a French naval officer's uniform, a sketch someone did that was made, at least, to look like it was antiquated.

A single bat wing? Very strange. Is this some old myth or something? Like the Minotaur or a basilisk?

Two bat wings - and it was invented by Howard Philip Lovecraft around the same time that Poe was writing.

The 'French naval uniform' version is probably a rendition of the 'Davy Jones' character from Disney's third (?) Pirates of the Caribbean movie (Dead Man's Chest).  Davy Jones was given a prehensile beard of tentacles for no particular reason.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #58 on: August 30, 2017, 10:22:34 PM »
I do remember the movie, might be why I got the two mixed up? I might have been looking at concept art. I'm afraid I never found a taste for Lovecraft's... well, craft. Poe, interestingly you bring him up, was a favourite of mine.

I, frankly, loved the PotC movies. I'm always excited to see another one. My little Boo-ling and I get dressed up as pirates and marathon the movies. It's something we share with my dad, I guess.

Thank you both!

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #59 on: August 30, 2017, 10:27:21 PM »
The papal physicist is named  Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ, the Director of the Vatican Observatory. The Vatican actually employs a great number of scientists, and has for quite a while. My first introduction to the idea was on Startalk, an episode about the Star of Bethlehem. While I cannot link you to the podcast itself, this article may help to give a rundown of it. If you happen to have the means to find StarTalk available to you, I highly suggest it. It's a wide range of topics that can sublimate an interesting education.

While I agree that there is something of a skepticism to listening to the Vatican on the topic of anything scientific, let us not forget that many of the most influential members of the physics, astrophysics, mathematics and biology worlds were in some way working with the church, despite the whole excommunication threat. It was simply a way of life, then.

Ah, he's a Jesuit.  That makes a lot of things clearer!  I'll see if I can't track this podcast down somehow.

Consider guys like Galileo, who was definitely one of those guys.  In order to be able to pursue their work, men like Galileo - or Da Vinci, another contemporary - needed funding, which in those days meant patronage.  And there were only a select few who could afford such patronage, and the Church was one of those few.  (Another were the Medicis, who were Da Vinci's patrons.)  It's KIND of changed now, though the sciences is one of the fields where patronage (read today: research grants) still has a significant hold.

Flood narratives existing, even on a large, claimed-worldwide scale, isn't evidence of anything except that people feared floods. These people also generally had deities of thunderstorms, drought, war, famine, death, magic and fire. It does not in any way support the concept of retelling the tale of the biblical Moses under different guises, nor does it support the idea that this biblical account might have (or could have) reached all of these communities. Instead, I would probably liken it to the common dream of falling and waking upon impact with whatever surface one was sleeping on - that is to say, one's mind preying on a fear that is innately held in humanity. People feared natural disasters and would of course see them as a warning from the powers purported to control weather events in the whole of the world.

(Also, I resent the Ojibwa being referred to as a "minor" anything, subjective accuracy or not.)

I was unaware of Ur, Atrahasis, or Hammurabi, it seems my education has some gaps. I'm still loath to agree on Gilgamesh being taken FROM anything (there's a problem I'm having here with "it predates the other" being equated to "it came from the other". I'm older, for instance, than all of my siblings...), but I'll admit it's a possibility and I didn't know there was anything that would be counted as possibly being before that.

I'm sorry, but I'm not familiar much with Cthulhu. That's the dude with a squid-monster face, right? Some sort of nautical figure with a squid for a head, usually dressed in seafaring garb?

My apologies.  I hadn't heard the name Ojibwa before I went looking into them and recognized them by another name, the Chippewa, who definitely were not a minor tribe.

As for Cthulhu, he's this dude:
Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide

Like Oniya, I'm not sure where you got clothes, unless you're referring to Davy Jones from PotC.

Anyways.  To go on.  The series of stories that involved Cthulhu and his brethren - which came to be referred to as the Cthulhu Mythos - began with the short story Dagon, which Lovecraft wrote in 1917 and was published in 1919.  To date, people are still writing stories in the Mythos today, but the Mythos really took off under August Derleth, who basically picked up after Lovecraft died in the 30s.  We're talking a series of stories that spanned at least a quarter of a century.  And that's not even including the genre of Lovecraftian horror, which is a whole genre in and of itself.

As to the point I was making...okay, I remember now.  Imagine if every story set in the Mythos, every story that featured Cthulhu, or the Deep Ones (another staple), or any of its hallmarks were gathered together, regardless of who wrote them.  Anyone everywhere who used Lovecraft's ideas and created media based on them.  You would be talking about a large, vast body of literature, and in these days, movies and games.  It might rightly be said of such a body that it had not yet reached completion, despite being nearly a century old by this point, and with no signs of stopping, either.  It might be another century before people tire of them!

To wit: simply because the first Gilgamesh stories pre-dated Atrahasis does not mean that they did not utilize other contemporary sources and simply attribute them to Gilgamesh instead.  To use another analogy, one you alluded to in your post, think of Greek and Roman mythology - a lot of stories in the mythologies were the same, simply because the Romans stole Greek religion and culture, and simply renamed them.  Herakles vs Hercules.

The trouble, in this instance, is that these people truly believe that these things happened, and because these things obviously happened and the bible was always there, and it's too old to have been faked and ... (insert racist, sexist, ageist remarks, appeals to technology and superiority and circular logic here), then it should mandate all things, returning to the OP post, because it is the seat of all things true and moral and should be made standard.

We aren't REQUIRED to feel that the bible is historical, but if we're to square-off against people who do, we need to be prepared to get to the bottom of WHY they believe this, so we can show them the evidence we ACTUALLY have to the opposite.

You're going to be digging a very long time.  I know people like this; I speak and talk with them on a weekly basis.  To them, the Bible is not about whether or not it is historically accurate, whether or not the stories in it are true.  You could prove that the modern Bible was written by some dude in a monastery 200 years ago - beyond shadows of doubt - and it would not matter to them. 

This is because the Bible is not a history book, or a storybook, or any such text to them.  The Bible is a moralistic source, a letter telling you about how to live your life and be a good person.  Something akin to Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics rather than Herodotus' Histories.  You mentioned Ken Ham earlier.  The people I speak of love Ken Ham and the Creation Museum.  Why?  Because it reinforces the Bible, and to a certain degree posits things that cannot be definitively proven.

Speaking as someone who is quite familiar with this book and people who believe it, I will make this statement: if you want to defeat the Bible, you must remove its moral power.  As long as the Bible can stand on two legs as a source of morality - as long as it is that letter telling you how to be a good person - you will not defeat it.  IF, on the other hand, you can prove that what the Bible teaches is how to be evil, or at the very least not good, then maybe, just maybe.

In general, I agree with you. I will, however, point out that the Romans and the Greeks both had huge problems with superiority. They would wipe out/amalgamate huge swathes of cultures to impose their banner over. The Greeks (to a lesser extent) and the Romans both used their "civilized" gods to take over Celtic lands, for instance, and impose their religion on the "barbarian gods". Sometimes, it was their grasp of science and technology that they would use, but it was often carried under the banner of replacing the heathen gods with those of benevolent or superior intellect. In fact, Rome even went so far as to quash any Celtic religion by imposing a ban on the mention of any highland gods, which led to the uprising of Boudica in the first century AD.

Religion is and always has been a card that has been used (if not intended) to justify superiority over non-believers, no matter how benevolent we would like to believe those individuals originally were.

That's because religion is a part of culture - and people want far more to prove cultural superiority over religious superiority.  It is useful, however, because religion can demonstrate the clash of cultures.   Compare the superiority of the believer vs the non-believer and the superiority of the dominant culture vs the non-dominant.

Offline SINless

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #60 on: August 31, 2017, 07:04:41 AM »


You're going to be digging a very long time.  I know people like this; I speak and talk with them on a weekly basis.  To them, the Bible is not about whether or not it is historically accurate, whether or not the stories in it are true.  You could prove that the modern Bible was written by some dude in a monastery 200 years ago - beyond shadows of doubt - and it would not matter to them. 

This is because the Bible is not a history book, or a storybook, or any such text to them.  The Bible is a moralistic source, a letter telling you about how to live your life and be a good person.  Something akin to Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics rather than Herodotus' Histories.  You mentioned Ken Ham earlier.  The people I speak of love Ken Ham and the Creation Museum.  Why?  Because it reinforces the Bible, and to a certain degree posits things that cannot be definitively proven.

Speaking as someone who is quite familiar with this book and people who believe it, I will make this statement: if you want to defeat the Bible, you must remove its moral power.  As long as the Bible can stand on two legs as a source of morality - as long as it is that letter telling you how to be a good person - you will not defeat it.  IF, on the other hand, you can prove that what the Bible teaches is how to be evil, or at the very least not good, then maybe, just maybe.

The problem isn't proving the bible is teaching evil, or at least saying people have to do and say a lot of evil things. The problem is that people will ignore all the vileness and hatred that is in the bible, because it is the bible. The bible must be good, otherwise it would mean they are not good, and that concept is something their self image cannot handle. There's countless of examples of people going to bible thumpers and reading parts of 'the qur'an' These Christians are incensed at how anybody could believe, let alone support such vileness. When it is then revealed that it's not the Qur'an but the bible, these same Christians either do a 180 and defend the verses they just condemned, or they get mad and use the cherrypicker argument.


In general, I agree with you. I will, however, point out that the Romans and the Greeks both had huge problems with superiority. They would wipe out/amalgamate huge swathes of cultures to impose their banner over. The Greeks (to a lesser extent) and the Romans both used their "civilized" gods to take over Celtic lands, for instance, and impose their religion on the "barbarian gods". Sometimes, it was their grasp of science and technology that they would use, but it was often carried under the banner of replacing the heathen gods with those of benevolent or superior intellect. In fact, Rome even went so far as to quash any Celtic religion by imposing a ban on the mention of any highland gods, which led to the uprising of Boudica in the first century AD.

Religion is and always has been a card that has been used (if not intended) to justify superiority over non-believers, no matter how benevolent we would like to believe those individuals originally were.

I hate to be a pedant here, but Boudicca's uprising had nothing to do with Highland Gods. She was the queen of an area in Modern day Essex. Her revolt depending on who you ask was either because her husband's kingdom was stolen by the Romans, while she and her daughters, the rightful heirs were flogged and raped in front of their own people by the Romans (This is the version most modern day scholars agree upon from historical sources, including Roman military historian Tacitus), while the other version, given by Cassius Do, is that it was because the Romans forced the Britons to accept loans to pay for their taxes, and then suddenly demanded their money back.

There's a lot we can blame on religion's intolerance of religion, but this is not one of them.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #61 on: August 31, 2017, 02:48:42 PM »
The problem isn't proving the bible is teaching evil, or at least saying people have to do and say a lot of evil things. The problem is that people will ignore all the vileness and hatred that is in the bible, because it is the bible. The bible must be good, otherwise it would mean they are not good, and that concept is something their self image cannot handle. There's countless of examples of people going to bible thumpers and reading parts of 'the qur'an' These Christians are incensed at how anybody could believe, let alone support such vileness. When it is then revealed that it's not the Qur'an but the bible, these same Christians either do a 180 and defend the verses they just condemned, or they get mad and use the cherrypicker argument.

There's a number of problems with this tactic, but I'll go into what I think are the more critical ones.

The first is that it is a 'Gotcha' move - attempting to expose someone's intellectual hypocrisy because they have no problem denouncing such things when other people do them, but the minute they do that, it becomes fine; it's a reveal of cognitive dissonance.  This tactic does not work the vast majority of the time for the principal reason of the audience - the only audience it would really work on is someone who is intellectually on the fence, unsure of their position.  Anyone invested in holding their position will simply ignore or attempt to rebut (I emphasize attempt here) the Gotcha; anyone who was already against the position to begin with will use it as reinforcement of their belief.

To utilize a semi-fictional example that does not involve religion - there was a gathering (I think at Berkeley) of Marxist/Communist/Socialist types, and a man walked up to them and started to give a speech.  That speech was nothing but Adolf Hitler quotes, to which the crowd applauded the speaker before he walked away.  Now, he didn't reveal who the source of the speech was, which is where I have to go into the fictional portion of this illustration.

Let's say that our speech-giver held the position that our gathering above was just comprised of a bunch of special snowflakes who are anti-intellectual, run based on emotion, and generally hypocritical people.  He goes and he gives this speech at the gathering, and then as he's walking away he reveals the content of the speech was entirely Hitler.  (He was probably not right to, as he was one man in a crowd of a couple dozen - if they had gone violent, things would have been really bad for him.)  There would have been two general responses to this revelation:

"Wow, we just agreed with Hitler.  That's bad, we might need to re-think our position."  The speaker wins.  Why?  Because he succeeded in at least making the people reflect upon their own position, reconsider their thought patterns and what they know.

Or, they'll do a 180 and defend their position - whilst simultaneously explaining that Hitler was taken out of context, or they were taken out of context, or some method by which they prove their position was right and totally not advocated by Hitler whatsoever - IE, what you said.  Speaker wins again.  Why?  Because he went into the matter with the belief that the opposition is anti-intellectual, that they are hypocritical, and his belief in that has not been challenged one iota.  Quite the opposite, in fact.

Trying to expose such hypocrisy might have worked a hundred years ago, but it does not function at all in the modern age, principally because of the idea of moral relativism  - what is right for you is not right for me, I have my own standards and you can have yours, etc etc.


The second problem with this tactic is that it frequently criticizes without construction.  It says to the person on the receiving end that you are bad people without telling them how to be better people.  But let's say, for a moment, that such a situation took place, and that the person on the giving end did offer construction, did tell the listeners about how to be a better person.  Here, the construction can go one of principally two ways.  Way A, which I more often hear, can be boiled down to 'my moral positions are better than yours, you should be like me.'  This usually gets the speaker accused of elitism or snobbery or 'he thinks he's better than everyone else.'  Which does not work.

The way that DOES work is Way B, where you challenge the listener to rethink all the foundations of their assumption.  Using gay marriage as an example - you want to convince someone that gay marriage is okay.  Most people will agree with you on the basic foundations of humanity - IE, you are a human and deserve basic human decency.  (This is, ironically, one of the things Christians are good at admitting.)  The question is not about humanity, the question is about marriage - why is it that they don't believe gays should be allowed to marry?  Castigating them about how they hate gays doesn't work because it's not the issue they have - the way to resolve the argument is to find out precisely what criterion they believe disqualifies gays from being allowed to marry, and then go from there.


The last major thing I would point out - which is more or less confined to this specific example or its analogues - is that when I have heard this tactic employed, a lot of the speakers will be pulling stuff out of the Old Testament.  As one friend of mine says: "Judaism is the Old Testament; Christianity is the New Testament." 

To elaborate on their argument - Old Testament Judaism was a highly legalistic religious system.  You commit sin X, you must make restitution Y.  It places emphasis on self-conduct and obedience to law as the primary cornerstones.  This was Mosaic law, which was laid out (according to Exodus) between Moses and God on Mt. Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments, plus a bunch of other laws that were later written down in subsequent books, and was the basis of the covenant between God and the Israelites.  The purpose of this law - and of varying customs that surrounded it, such as the Day of Atonement - were meant to be the basis of Christianity and the final nail in the coffin of the idea that salvation is earned by adherence to the law and being a good person.  A common charge I hear about Old Testament law is that it's supposed to be impossible to uphold - that's the whole point, my friend says, we aren't able to do it by ourselves, we need help, and that help is Jesus.

Fast forward a bit to the New Testament, during the Last Supper.  After the meal, Jesus takes bread - but he also takes the cup, which is the critical object here.  Jesus states that the cup is the new covenant, through blood.  The argument goes that Jesus - as fully God - was ending the previous covenant that had been established between God and Moses and was instituting a new one based on different principles.  Think about re-negotiating a contract as an analogue - some parts stay the same, but other parts change.  Jesus was changing the terms of the agreement, moving away from a legalistic basis and towards a relational one.

Quite simply put, using Numbers to denounce Christianity will not work, because they don't believe the laws in the book are relevant to their personal standing with God.  Well, that and they see anyone trying to do that as trying to manipulate the Bible for their own ends.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2017, 02:52:14 PM by ReijiTabibito »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #62 on: August 31, 2017, 03:34:24 PM »
Interesting point here: A lot of the rules and regulations that people quote (Gays are bad and are going to hell, people, the Bible says so) they are taking their justification from the old Testament. But then when you go into the Old Testament and see God telling King Saul to kill literally every living thing inside a city because they happened to worship another deity, they throw their hands up and say," Nah, that's the old testament. We don't follow that anymore." Same goes with why modern day Christians have no problem with eating bacon and lobster while still sporting a massive hate-boner for people that like to have sex with folks of the same gender. When you hold a book as a moral compass while cutting out the parts that you don't like (Kinda like the part where Paul says that where women have no place taking any kind of authority over men, which is in the New Testament, by the way) you immediately cut the knees out of any kind of moral high ground you might have.

Because if you hold that eating any kind of land animal that does to have cloven hooves and chews their cud (I.e. Not bacon) as well as any creature of the sea that does not have scales or fins as a health issue and thus outdated, but that 'the gays' are immediately going to the fieriest bit of hell, you are opening yourself to the counter that well, if the food bits are outdated due to medical advancements, why the hell aren't the sexual ones either?

In the end, even someone that follows all the rules in the Old Testament and New and consider themselves above people that don't are considered just as bad, because in the new Testament, Jesus goes off on what I can only describe as a rant on the scribes and pharisees telling them off for doing precisely that.

In short...



Everybody's going to hell.

Might as well be nice to the folks that you're sharing your life with.

Online Regina Minx

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #63 on: August 31, 2017, 08:39:43 PM »
...it was invented by Howard Philip Lovecraft around the same time that Poe was writing.





Umm...

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #64 on: August 31, 2017, 08:53:12 PM »
...As one friend of mine says: "Judaism is the Old Testament; Christianity is the New Testament." ...

Here's my response to "But that's the Old Testament!"

First of all, it's incorrect to say that a Christian can or should ignore the laws of the Old Testament, at least if they want to be consistent with what Jesus supposedly said. Matthew 5 starting at 17: Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

In order to be able to get to be at a point where you can cherry pick and pick and choose which verses you have to take seriously and which verses you don't, you have to not take seriously the supposed express words of Jesus. So there's that.

Second of all, Christian history has been full of gory use of the Old Testament. "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" might have a special resonance to someone burned at the stake during the Spanish Inquisition. Centuries of persecution of gay people have followed the declaration that if a man lies with a man as with a women they have committed an abomination and shall be put to death.

There is a Christian Dominionist Senate Candidate in the state of Missouri who was removed from a judgeship on the state Supreme Court for refusing to remove a monument in his courtroom of the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments, naturally, are featured in the Old Testament. If Christians are free to disregard the Old Testament, it seems like he went through an awful lot of time and effort defending that monument when it's not supposed to be an important part of his religion any more.

If you try to ditch the Old Testament, don't you have to ditch all of it? The mixed fabrics, the dietary laws, the yearly atonement sacrifices, the Ten Commandments, the instructions to murder witches and gay people. If you ditch the Old Testament, aren't you also ditching Original Sin? Isn't that the big thing that Jesus is supposed to be saving ourselves from in the first place?

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #65 on: August 31, 2017, 09:12:09 PM »
First of all, it's incorrect to say that a Christian can or should ignore the laws of the Old Testament, at least if they want to be consistent with what Jesus supposedly said. Matthew 5 starting at 17: Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

In order to be able to get to be at a point where you can cherry pick and pick and choose which verses you have to take seriously and which verses you don't, you have to not take seriously the supposed express words of Jesus. So there's that.

Jesus also said in Matthew that the two greatest commandments were "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind," and "Love your neighbor as yourself."  And that all the Law and the Prophets depended on these two things.  If you did not obey them, then the Law and the Prophets meant nothing.


If you try to ditch the Old Testament, don't you have to ditch all of it? The mixed fabrics, the dietary laws, the yearly atonement sacrifices, the Ten Commandments, the instructions to murder witches and gay people. If you ditch the Old Testament, aren't you also ditching Original Sin? Isn't that the big thing that Jesus is supposed to be saving ourselves from in the first place?

I won't answer all of these charges, but I will give an illustration that I believe clarifies the matter - specifically the bit about the Jewish dietary laws.  One of Jesus' disciples was a man named Peter.  Peter was in the city of Joppa, at the house of Simon, who was a tanner.  Peter was summoned by Cornelius, who was an officer in the Roman legions.  Before he was summoned, Peter had gone up to the roof of Simon's house, where he saw a vision.  That vision was of a large sheet being let down from the sky, and in it were all these animals - reptiles and birds and full of the things that Peter had been told not to eat as a good Jew.  A voice then told him "Get up.  Kill and eat."

Peter replies back "Surely not!  I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."  To which the voice replies "Do not call unclean that which God has made clean."  This happened three times, and then the vision ended.  After this, Peter went with the men sent by Cornelius.  Peter tells Cornelius about Jesus and the whole household is saved.

That's part 1 - part 2 is the even more critical part, where Peter comes back.  Jewish converts in Jerusalem, hearing about the matter, confronted Peter and accused him, saying that he had gone into a house with uncircumcised men and ate with them.  This was meant as a move to exile Peter, to throw him out, because he had violated Mosaic law in this.  Instead, Peter tells the whole story, from start to finish, and states that if God wanted to extend to the Gentiles the same gift he had extended to the Jewish people, who was he to stand in God's way?  At this the objection disappeared - and if you read the letters that make up the vast majority of the rest of the New Testament, you see that one of the real struggles - especially for Jewish converts - of the early church was to get away from the legalistic doctrines of Judaism.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #66 on: August 31, 2017, 09:38:27 PM »
Jesus also said in Matthew that the two greatest commandments were "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind," and "Love your neighbor as yourself."  And that all the Law and the Prophets depended on these two things. 

Yeah, and you know what that's a reference to? Yep. The Old Testament.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Leviticus 19:17-18: You must not hate your brother in your heart. You must surely reprove your fellow citizen so that you do not incur sin on account of him. You must not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the children of your people, but you must love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord

Quote
I won't answer all of these charges, but I will give an illustration that I believe clarifies the matter - specifically the bit about the Jewish dietary laws.  One of Jesus' disciples was a man named Peter...

Stop. You're telling the story out of order. The earliest known Christians proselytized Gentiles but required them to convert to Judaism (and thus, be circumcised and obey Jewish law, including dietary law). Paul is the first known Christian to discard that requirement (having received a special revelation instructing him to), and he had to fight the earliest known leaders of the cult for acceptance of that radical idea. But some books in the NT are from the sect that did not adopt this innovation but remained thoroughly Jewish (most obviously Matthew, the letters of John and James, and Revelation).  Galatians, Romans, Ephesians, and Colossians all report that Paul was the originator of the practice of converting Gentiles directly to Christianity without requiring that they become Jews first.

Because abandonment of dietary laws and conversion to Judaism did not originate until ~20 years after Jesus' supposed death, we cannot infer that Jesus, if he lived, taught anything other than a Jewish religion for Jews, and countenanced admitting only those Gentiles who first became Jews through circumcision and adherence to Torah law.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2017, 09:41:26 PM by Regina Minx »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #67 on: August 31, 2017, 10:02:33 PM »
Yeah, and you know what that's a reference to? Yep. The Old Testament.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Leviticus 19:17-18: You must not hate your brother in your heart. You must surely reprove your fellow citizen so that you do not incur sin on account of him. You must not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the children of your people, but you must love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord

Yeah, and your point is? Saying that 'Jesus taught from the Old Testament' is like saying 'A Spanish teacher teaches languages.'  For one, he had to, there was no New Testament yet.  For another, Jesus' message he was bringing - as you pointed out in Matthew, was that he was the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets, IE, the Old Testament.  Matthew's Gospel is different from the others that follow it in the Bible because Matthew wanted to show Jewish readers that Jesus was the fulfillment of long-heard prophecy (those Prophets that we keep talking about) about Jesus being the Messiah.  That's part of why the Biblical canon positions it as the first book of the New Testament - it's the bridge between the Old and New.  That's why you hear verses from the Old Testament way more in Matthew than compared to, say, Luke.

Stop. You're telling the story out of order. The earliest known Christians proselytized Gentiles but required them to convert to Judaism (and thus, be circumcised and obey Jewish law, including dietary law). Paul is the first known Christian to discard that requirement (having received a special revelation instructing him to), and he had to fight the earliest known leaders of the cult for acceptance of that radical idea. But some books in the NT are from the sect that did not adopt this innovation but remained thoroughly Jewish (most obviously Matthew, the letters of John and James, and Revelation).

Because abandonment of dietary laws and conversion to Judaism did not originate until ~20 years after Jesus' supposed death, we cannot infer that Jesus, if he lived, taught anything other than a Jewish religion for Jews, and countenanced admitting only those Gentiles who first became Jews through circumcision and adherence to Torah law.

An inference is a likely conclusion or assumption, based on our understanding of the facts at hand.  Aristotle inferred that dew on planets was the source of aphids, because aphids could be seen on such plants.  Now, today we know that's absolutely not the case - spontaneous generation is a dead theory - but that's because of advances in science and such disciplines.  The reason that we no longer believe in Aristotle's aphid claim is not because the facts have changed, but because we learned that our understanding of those facts was erroneous and needed correction.  To quote HAL from 2001: "This sort of thing has cropped up before, and it has always been due to human error."

Now, we could skip all this assumption and inference business if we had, say, direct evidence that he taught such things?


Also, quick question, if Jesus taught a Jewish religion for Jews, why did the Sanhedrin - the Jewish religious authorities - go to such lengths to have him executed by Roman authorities?

Offline Oniya

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #68 on: August 31, 2017, 10:21:01 PM »




Umm...

I said I was crap with dates.  Several of Lovecraft's correspondences express great admiration for Poe.  Needless to say, this takes it well out of the 'old myth' category.  ;)  (Old Myth-katonic, on the other hand...  ;D)

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #69 on: August 31, 2017, 10:59:04 PM »
Yeah, and your point is?

My point is that basing a practice of ignoring large swathes of a book because of what one guy was saying while he was quoting from that same book under discussion is inherently a self-defeating practice.

An inference is a likely conclusion or assumption, based on our understanding of the facts at hand...

Thank you. As someone who majored in statistics and who performs root cause analysis as a QA supervisor for a tech company, I had actually never heard the word inference or had any understanding of what it meant. I appreciate the mansplainin'!

Also, quick question, if Jesus taught a Jewish religion for Jews, why did the Sanhedrin - the Jewish religious authorities - go to such lengths to have him executed by Roman authorities?

I don't believe that they did. Yes, the Gospels SAY they did, but I don't believe that to be true. More importantly, I don't believe that was a part of the earliest versions of Christianity, either. For elaboration, see below if you're interested, but since this is a tangent, I'm not going to make anyone else reading this slog through it:

Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide
The earliest source we have about what Christians believed in the decades after Jesus' supposed death are the letters of Paul, and they do not blame the Romans or the Sanhedrin for that. It was only 15-20 years later that the first of the Gospels was written, at which point the story had changed. Why the Synoptic Gospel writers might have felt it necessary to blame the Romans/Sanhedrin for the death of Jesus is beyond the narrow scope of this conversation.We go back to Paul.

1 Corinthians 2, 6-10: We speak a wisdom among the mature, a wisdom not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age (the Greek is archontōn tou aiōnos toutou), who are being abolished, but we speak God’s wisdom, in a mystery, that has been hidden, which God foreordained before the ages (aiōnōn) for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age (archontōn tou aiōnos toutou) had known. For if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. But as it is written, ‘Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, and which entered not into the heart of a man, those things God prepared for those who love him’. For God revealed them to us through the Spirit...

Paul is saying that if the "the rulers of this age" had known what would happen when they killed Jesus, they would not have done so. This cannot mean the Sanhedrin or the Romans. If they had known such a fact, they would either have gone on with the crucifixion regardless (to save mankind) or not cared (if they didn't believe that killing Jesus would have such an effect). According to Paul, the rulers of this age killed Jesus, and that's more than just the Romans or Sanhedrin. And they only did so because they were kept from knowing that doing so would save the human race.

This refers to Satan and his demons. When Paul says ‘the rulers of this age’ (archontōn tou aiōnos toutou) were the ones kept in the dark and who in result crucified Jesus, he is using archōn to refer to supernatural beings. Paul almost never uses this word of earthly authorities, and never so uses it in conjunction with the context of aeons. And here he cannot be using it in a human sense, as the motives he is imputing to these archons then make no sense.



Christians have always used the Old Testament when it was convenient to them, and especially as a tool of oppression. Even the ones that are OK with gay people and witches and wearing mixed fabric shirts are probably a little more hesitant to give up the Ten Commandments (like our buddy Judge Moore), and fewer still are going to give up the notion of Original Sin, which is based out of a story in the Old Testament. So yes. I consider the Old Testament to be a perfectly valid club to bring to this debate, and I'm not convinced by the dismissal "But that's the Old Testament!"


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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #70 on: August 31, 2017, 11:54:55 PM »
My point is that basing a practice of ignoring large swathes of a book because of what one guy was saying while he was quoting from that same book under discussion is inherently a self-defeating practice.

It can be, depending on the format of the book.

Thank you. As someone who majored in statistics and who performs root cause analysis as a QA supervisor for a tech company, I had actually never heard the word inference or had any understanding of what it meant. I appreciate the mansplainin'!

Okay, this does not belong here.  For one, show me one previous statement you made in this thread where you stated your qualifications in statistics and duties as a quality assurance worker for a tech company.  For another, 'mansplaining' is an entirely inflammatory word that you used specifically on me because I am a man.  If this had been pointed out to you by, say, a woman, while you might have made a statement similar to this one, you would not have used mansplaining, but possibly some other word.  To follow up, mansplaining is generally defined as when a man explains something to a woman that does not need explaining to the woman.  Like a high school student trying to explain the intricacies of 19th century French colonial policy to a woman who is an expert on the subject

Mansplaining carries a connotation of arrogance, because it presumes that any man anywhere knows more about a subject than a woman because penis.  Did I make a mistake?  Yes, I made the assumption that you, like one of the other several billion other people in the world, are one of those people that did not understand what an inference really is.  That is now an assumption I know not to make with you again in the future.  Thank you for teaching me something. (And Inference should be right next to Irony in the list of 'words people think that they understand and use correctly, but don't')  Also, consider that the definition and explanation was not just aimed at you - any of the other people in this thread, or who might read this thread in the future, might have been in consideration at the time I wrote it.

Finally, this is not a rebuttal of the statement that I made.  I'm not going to make judgment on what it is, but I will say that this is not a rebuttal.

I don't believe that they did. Yes, the Gospels SAY they did, but I don't believe that to be true. More importantly, I don't believe that was a part of the earliest versions of Christianity, either. For elaboration, see below if you're interested, but since this is a tangent, I'm not going to make anyone else reading this slog through it:

So then, who did?  Or are we back to arguing again about whether or not Jesus was an historical figure?


Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide
The earliest source we have about what Christians believed in the decades after Jesus' supposed death are the letters of Paul, and they do not blame the Romans or the Sanhedrin for that. It was only 15-20 years later that the first of the Gospels was written, at which point the story had changed. Why the Synoptic Gospel writers might have felt it necessary to blame the Romans/Sanhedrin for the death of Jesus is beyond the narrow scope of this conversation.We go back to Paul.

1 Corinthians 2, 6-10: We speak a wisdom among the mature, a wisdom not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age (the Greek is archontōn tou aiōnos toutou), who are being abolished, but we speak God’s wisdom, in a mystery, that has been hidden, which God foreordained before the ages (aiōnōn) for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age (archontōn tou aiōnos toutou) had known. For if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. But as it is written, ‘Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, and which entered not into the heart of a man, those things God prepared for those who love him’. For God revealed them to us through the Spirit...

Paul is saying that if the "the rulers of this age" had known what would happen when they killed Jesus, they would not have done so. This cannot mean the Sanhedrin or the Romans. If they had known such a fact, they would either have gone on with the crucifixion regardless (to save mankind) or not cared (if they didn't believe that killing Jesus would have such an effect). According to Paul, the rulers of this age killed Jesus, and that's more than just the Romans or Sanhedrin. And they only did so because they were kept from knowing that doing so would save the human race.

This refers to Satan and his demons. When Paul says ‘the rulers of this age’ (archontōn tou aiōnos toutou) were the ones kept in the dark and who in result crucified Jesus, he is using archōn to refer to supernatural beings. Paul almost never uses this word of earthly authorities, and never so uses it in conjunction with the context of aeons. And here he cannot be using it in a human sense, as the motives he is imputing to these archons then make no sense.

Your understanding of Greek is better than most of the people who I hear argue about the validity of the Bible.  That's the common interpretation I've heard about this particular passage, too - that men were just the means by which.


Christians have always used the Old Testament when it was convenient to them, and especially as a tool of oppression. Even the ones that are OK with gay people and witches and wearing mixed fabric shirts are probably a little more hesitant to give up the Ten Commandments (like our buddy Judge Moore), and fewer still are going to give up the notion of Original Sin, which is based out of a story in the Old Testament. So yes. I consider the Old Testament to be a perfectly valid club to bring to this debate, and I'm not convinced by the dismissal "But that's the Old Testament!"


There's a lot I could say here, but I'm simply not going to because while it might feel righteous to, it would only serve to tarnish the point that I'm trying to make, which is this: people are imperfect and flawed and we all have some degree of evil inside is, and that evil will use any means necessary, any tool, any creation, as a tool by which to oppress and condemn.  Take writing.  Writing gave us Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Cicero, Herodotus, Locke, Mill, and Voltaire.  It also gave us Mengele, Hitler, Rand, Robespierre, and Mao.  To wit: the problem is not with the tool, but with the person who uses it.

As for the Decalogue, they should be.  The majority of those commandments are good moral principles to live by.  In my experience, people stop having a problem with the Ten Commandments around number 5, and numbers 2-4 some people can see the point of them - the one commandment that every objector to the Decalogue I've personally encountered has been the first one.

Of course, the issue with Judge Moore was that he didn't want them removed from a courtroom, which has absolutely nothing to do with what the Ten Commandments say but where they can be seen.  If Moore carried a tiny copy of them in his wallet, or had them taped to the underside of his bench where only he could see them, that would have been different - it probably wouldn't even have come up.  As for removing them from the courtroom, I have no issue with that - the courthouse is a public space, run by the government.

You can take original sin - that the sin of Adam was visited upon all of us - out of the Bible, eliminate it from the text completely.  People make original sin out to be this gigantic monster that explains everything.  It's not.  Sin - the non-original kind, the kind that people do every day - is.

EDIT: Did a little research.  The doctrine of original sin was not proposed until Irenaeus, who was one of the earlier Christian writers during the 2nd century.  While he did propose it, the actual doctrine itself didn't emerge until Augustine wrote on in sometime in the late 4th century.  As for Augustine, his work on it wasn't recognized by the church until the 6th century, and even then it was only a recognizance by opposition - they didn't endorse his work, but condemned that of his rival on the matter.  The whole thing came to a head again in the 11th century, and Aquinas led the charge to reject the Augustinian version in the 12th century.  And that's not even getting to the Reformation.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2017, 12:11:45 AM by ReijiTabibito »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #71 on: September 01, 2017, 11:53:17 AM »
So then, who did?  Or are we back to arguing again about whether or not Jesus was an historical figure?

That's a false dichotomy. I am not required to argue that Jesus was mythical in order to argue that the Gospel writers engaged in mytho-symbolic storytelling in which historical accuracy were not primary concerns, when they were concerns at all. I can believe that Jesus was historical without believing that the Sanhedrin conspired with the Romans to have him killed.

That's the common interpretation I've heard about this particular passage, too - that men were just the means by which.

Which is the answer to your question. My premise (that Jesus in Matthew was a Jew who taught the Jewish religion for the benefit of the Jews and required Torah observance as a condition of salvation) is not contradicted by asking why the Sanhedrin had him killed by the Romans. If we're going to say that it was Satan and his demons that were ultimately responsible, then they used the Sanhedrin whether or not Jesus preached Torah observance.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #72 on: September 01, 2017, 12:03:51 PM »
That's a false dichotomy. I am not required to argue that Jesus was mythical in order to argue that the Gospel writers engaged in mytho-symbolic storytelling in which historical accuracy were not primary concerns, when they were concerns at all. I can believe that Jesus was historical without believing that the Sanhedrin conspired with the Romans to have him killed.

Then, exactly what was the entire point of this argument?  Or perhaps I should state alternately, what exactly is your argument here?

Which is the answer to your question. My premise (that Jesus in Matthew was a Jew who taught the Jewish religion for the benefit of the Jews and required Torah observance as a condition of salvation) is not contradicted by asking why the Sanhedrin had him killed by the Romans. If we're going to say that it was Satan and his demons that were ultimately responsible, then they used the Sanhedrin whether or not Jesus preached Torah observance.

Okay, but it doesn't sound like you believe in Satan and his demons.  At least, not from the posts I've read here.  So you're arguing something you don't believe?  Or did I miss something?

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #73 on: September 01, 2017, 12:14:31 PM »
My argument is that the earliest generation of Christians, including Jesus himself, if he existed, preached Torah observance and the necessity of becoming Jews in order to achieve salvation. This is confirmed by the earliest writings (the genuine and pseudo-Pauline epistles) as well as later writings (Matthew, the letters of John and James, and Revelation). Thus, to circle back to the original discussion, "But that's the Old Testament" isn't a valid defense when someone pulls something form the Old Testament to criticize. Because non-Torah observance was a later feature, not original in the first generation of Christian belief and practice.

Of course, if you want to argue that the first generation of apostles and disciples just got it wrong, and Torah observance isn't necessary, then fine. But then the onus is on you to demonstrate how you know that Paul got it right, that non-Torah observance isn't required. And you must apportion some space in your certainty to the possibility that you are wrong. And any qualifier you put on that "I might be wrong" space must therefore be attached to any statement you make about the content of your beliefs. "I don't think that a Christian has to observe the Torah, but I could be wrong"

You're right, I don't believe in Satan and his demons. I also don't believe that Jesus was killed by the Romans at the behest of the Sanhedrin. Therefore, I don't need to explain why Jesus was killed by the Sanhedrin if he was a Jew and preached Torah observance among other things.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #74 on: September 01, 2017, 12:32:08 PM »
One has to admit though that Christianity has evolved (for the most part) from the first generation of Christian belief and practice. For better or worse, it has.

However, holding a book as your statute of morality while holding the ability to yourself (but not to others) to pick and choose how to interpret certain parts and pick and choose which parts to follow does call into question why your interpretation of that book's laws is the correct one. You immediately find yourself in a logical bind.

In most courts of law, if one portion of a testimony is found to be in error, the entire testimony therefore falls under suspicion, and the Bible certainly falls under that category (Apologies for my lack of knowledge of legal terminology). If a person says that certain parts of the Bible are to be followed whilst other parts are outdated, it calls into question this person's authority in declaring this. If you can dictate that certain parts of Biblical law are outdated, why can't I do the same?

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #75 on: September 01, 2017, 01:08:41 PM »
One has to admit though that Christianity has evolved (for the most part) from the first generation of Christian belief and practice. For better or worse, it has.

The problem with admitting that, though, is that you cannot claim that your moral authority is derived from the earthly teachings of Jesus through a line of living witnesses and tradents, if subsequent revelation holds that the earliest believers had it all wrong. If Jesus can give revelation at any time to correct the record, as it were, then one could claim anything, preach anything, and speak with just as much authority as Paul or the Disciples.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #76 on: September 01, 2017, 01:27:41 PM »
My argument is that the earliest generation of Christians, including Jesus himself, if he existed, preached Torah observance and the necessity of becoming Jews in order to achieve salvation. This is confirmed by the earliest writings (the genuine and pseudo-Pauline epistles) as well as later writings (Matthew, the letters of John and James, and Revelation). Thus, to circle back to the original discussion, "But that's the Old Testament" isn't a valid defense when someone pulls something form the Old Testament to criticize. Because non-Torah observance was a later feature, not original in the first generation of Christian belief and practice.

Matthew only wrote his Gospel; John wrote his, three short letters, and Revelation; James just wrote his letter.  (As far as we know.)  Also, all of the writers of the New Testament were Jewish writers, with the exception of Luke (and the possible exception of Mark, though Biblical lore states that if the writer of Mark was the same Mark as the cousin of Barnabas named in the Book of Acts, then he was almost certainly Jewish).

The question, in my mind, is to demonstrate that either the writers or Jesus himself, somewhere in those documents, preached conversion to Judaism.  Torah observance is one thing - I'll explain below - but to try and sum up really quickly, just because you observe the Torah does not necessarily make you Jewish.  Judaic conversion, on the other hand, would necessarily imply observance; you can't be a good Jew without it.

Of course, if you want to argue that the first generation of apostles and disciples just got it wrong, and Torah observance isn't necessary, then fine. But then the onus is on you to demonstrate how you know that Paul got it right, that non-Torah observance isn't required. And you must apportion some space in your certainty to the possibility that you are wrong. And any qualifier you put on that "I might be wrong" space must therefore be attached to any statement you make about the content of your beliefs. "I don't think that a Christian has to observe the Torah, but I could be wrong"

I don't really think it's necessary that I do state that I could be wrong - human nature is by default flawed and inherently temporal.  We get things wrong all the time; to me, saying "I could be wrong" is a statement comparable to "I need to drink water."  It's implicitly understood.  Moving on.

Yes, I do believe that Paul got it right, and that the Judaizers (as they have been referred to) got it wrong.  I'm not sure if the nuance of my argument will carry across, but I'm going to try.

First off, to restate - with the exception of Luke, all the writers in the New Testament were Jewish.  They were raised as such, practiced as such, and presumably died as such.  However, I would argue that after their conversion, their continued practice of Torah observance did not mean that they believed that one needed to follow Mosaic law in order to be a Christian.  It stopped being a religious observance and simply became a cultural custom.  To try and use a (rather imperfect) analogy, consider a diet.  People go on diets because they need to lose weight, primarily for reasons of health.  So they change their eating habits, work out more, alter their behavior to lose weight.  The person loses all the weight they want to lose (or perhaps more), and the diet ends.  Does the person immediately go back to their pre-diet habits?  Maybe.  The successful people, however, keep some of the behavioral changes they made during the time they were dieting.  (As keeping all the changes would mean in theory they would KEEP losing weight.)

Now, you can make the argument that this is because losing weight is a two-step process - losing weight and keeping it off - which is why I stated the analogy is imperfect.  To continue, though.  The dieter no longer needs to lose weight, but he kept on habits he formed while dieting despite the fact that they are not strictly necessary.  Same idea with this here - the writers no longer needed to practice Jewish religious observance, but at the same time, there was no prohibition against their practice, either.

Second line.  You are correct that early Christianity in Roman records was considered a cult, specifically a Jewish cult.  But at some point, it stopped being about Jewish religious observances and practices and became what it is today.  This is a direct result of Paul's argument that adherence to the Torah and being converted to Judaism was not necessary in order to become a Christian - what was necessary was to believe in the redemptive work of Christ and in Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.  We can presume that other people argued otherwise, but that doesn't change the fact that Paul's argument was the one that ultimately won out.  Why?  Because Paul's argument was superior, for two reasons.

The major reason was that it opened up an entire new world for evangelizers.  If believers did not need to practice Judaic religious observances, then the Gentiles could be evangelized and converted without the stigma of becoming Jewish (and if there's one thing that hasn't changed in a long time, it's that being Jewish is not popular).  The argument of salvation by grace as opposed to salvation by observance enabled the winning over of people who otherwise would have remained unconverted.

The minor reason deals with two somethings written about in the Synoptics - the tearing of the temple curtain at the death of Jesus, as starters.  It might simply be symbolic illustration on the part of the writers, but the tearing of the curtain is generally accepted as the fact that God was no longer just God of the Jewish people, but all peoples, and as abolishment of Judaism.  The second something deals with the Great Commission, which most people attribute to Matthew, but was actually in some form in all of the Gospels.  Matthew just gets props because he wrote it the best.  In Matthew, Jesus tells his followers to go and make disciples of all nations - one of the ideas that was concurrent at the time that the idea of a strong, independent Jewish nation, a sort of precursor to Israel today.  The Gospels are generally attributed to around 70AD, at the time that the Great Revolt - or the First Jewish-Roman War - would have been going on, an event that resulted in the destruction of the Temple of Solomon, the holy place of Judaism.  By telling the apostles to go to all nations, Jesus was refuting the idea that his teachings were meant for native-born Jews and Jewish converts.

Final line.  We've talked about guys like Matthew, John, and James, but there's one major book of the New Testament that has no established author, and that is the book of Hebrews.  I'm not sure how much you know about the book, so I'll simply state that the entire point of it is to state to Jewish converts that practice of Judaism and Torah observance is unnecessary to the practice of Christianity.  If you want to know more, I can follow up.

You're right, I don't believe in Satan and his demons. I also don't believe that Jesus was killed by the Romans at the behest of the Sanhedrin. Therefore, I don't need to explain why Jesus was killed by the Sanhedrin if he was a Jew and preached Torah observance among other things.

Isn't that a bit of a hairsplit, though?  If you don't believe that Jesus was killed by the Romans at the prodding of the Sanhedrin, that does absolve the Romans from their role in Jesus' death, but that still leaves the Sanhedrin on the hook for the act, and people don't generally kill other people without a reason.  Or, perhaps the statement I should be making, what precisely do you believe about the death of Jesus?  (Nothing is an acceptable answer.)

The problem with admitting that, though, is that you cannot claim that your moral authority is derived from the earthly teachings of Jesus through a line of living witnesses and tradents, if subsequent revelation holds that the earliest believers had it all wrong. If Jesus can give revelation at any time to correct the record, as it were, then one could claim anything, preach anything, and speak with just as much authority as Paul or the Disciples.

It is worth pointing out that out of the traditional Apostles, the educated ones were Matthew and Paul.  John, James, and Peter were fishermen - their ignorance might have caused them to make missteps.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #77 on: September 01, 2017, 01:48:21 PM »
The problem with admitting that, though, is that you cannot claim that your moral authority is derived from the earthly teachings of Jesus through a line of living witnesses and tradents, if subsequent revelation holds that the earliest believers had it all wrong. If Jesus can give revelation at any time to correct the record, as it were, then one could claim anything, preach anything, and speak with just as much authority as Paul or the Disciples.
Therein lies the point of this thread, I think, and on that point, I agree with you.

And with that, I'm ducking out of this discussion.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #78 on: September 01, 2017, 02:01:23 PM »
The question, in my mind, is to demonstrate that either the writers or Jesus himself, somewhere in those documents, preached conversion to Judaism.

Allow me to give you my references.

Alan Segal, ‘Conversion and Messianism: Outline for a New Approach’, in The Messiah
W.D. Davies, ‘The Jewish Sources of Matthew’s Messianism’, in The Messiah
David Sim, The Gospel of Matthew and Christian Judaism: The History and Social Setting of the Matthean Community
Margaret Williams, The Jews among the Greeks and Romans: A Diasporan Sourcebook
Richard Carrier, Proving History

The earliest known Christians prostelytized to Gentiles but required that they convert to Judaism before they could become Christian. It sounds weird to us to think of evangelical Jews actively seeking Gentile converts to full Judaism, but that was nevertheless an active feature of Judaism at the time.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2017, 02:03:46 PM by Regina Minx »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #79 on: September 01, 2017, 02:26:45 PM »
It's not that surprising, if you know the Bible.  Jesus castigated the Pharisees by telling them that they would travel over ocean and earth to win a convert, and then make him out to be twice the son of Hell they were.

I'll check out your references, but it may take me a while to get them all together, and it will certainly take me time to read them over.  And I will point out that this could just simply devolve into a battle of the experts - you line up yours, I line up mine, and...well, I think we can understand how those usually turn out.

Let's go out on a limb, though, and say that your experts are right, and that Jesus didn't teach what we thought he did, which means that modern Christianity is a fraud and that really what we should be doing circumcision and not working on Saturdays instead of Sundays and have to give up eating a lot of different things.  Except Judaism - really, all the Abrahamic religions - has all these nasty, horrible things to say about women and gays and witches and attitudes that don't belong in a moral society.

If we cannot say that religion provides a basis for morality - that in fact, the saying about it taking religion to make good people do bad things is indeed true - then where does morality come from?

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #80 on: September 01, 2017, 02:45:21 PM »
If we cannot say that religion provides a basis for morality - that in fact, the saying about it taking religion to make good people do bad things is indeed true - then where does morality come from?

Short answer: An evaluation of the effects and intent of human actions with respect to the standard of well-being.

Long answer:


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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #81 on: September 01, 2017, 03:00:56 PM »
Okay.  I'm not currently in a place that I can watch the whole thing - so take what I say here with a grain of salt for the moment - but I did watch the first couple of minutes of it, and I'm hearing echoes of arguments that I've heard before.  Principally an echo of the collectivist notion of 'does what we do help me/our community/our nation survive and thrive'.  I do hope that in the remaining 20+ minutes, he goes into more detail, but collectivist morality is not a better system than religious morality, because under its practice, collectivist morality can frequently trend towards 'whatever is best for the most people in the group.'

I presume you are familiar with The Boat Story?

(I will say that his argument about intent coloring actions is something I can get behind.  There's little I despise more than someone who says that they're keeping faith when all they're doing is using it as a shield to justify their own actions.)

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #82 on: September 01, 2017, 10:04:35 PM »
I presume you are familiar with The Boat Story?

You're probably going to need to be a touch more specific than that.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #83 on: September 01, 2017, 10:36:33 PM »
You are with seven other people in a boat.  The boat is sinking and you have no idea how long it will be before you are rescued.  The other people are:

A pregnant girl/woman;
A teenager;
A doctor;
Someone elderly;
Someone who is obese;
Someone who has a heart condition (or other medical malady);
Someone who belongs to an ethnic minority group.

You have managed to determine that if just one of these seven people is removed from the boat, the boat will stop sinking.

Who do you throw out of the boat?

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #84 on: September 01, 2017, 10:45:23 PM »
Thanks - there's a midrash also known as 'The Boat Story', which could have also been somewhat topical .

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #85 on: September 02, 2017, 08:46:02 AM »
...but collectivist morality is not a better system than religious morality...

That's not the source of the conflict. You can be a religious individualist or a religious collectivist. You can also be a secular individualist or a secular collectivist. Matt is starting off with a discussion of the "get along socially" aspect of morality is because very few moral actions are evaluated in a vacuum. In fact, almost all moral actions are moral with respect to their effect on other people, and the goal of morality is to evaluate a system of behaviors on the basis of well being.

I presume you are familiar with The Boat Story?

I had heard it under a different name, but yeah, I'm familiar (I initially thought you were talking about the Ship of Theseus

You are with seven other people in a boat.  The boat is sinking and you have no idea how long it will be before you are rescued.  The other people are:

A pregnant girl/woman;
A teenager;
A doctor;
Someone elderly;
Someone who is obese;
Someone who has a heart condition (or other medical malady);
Someone who belongs to an ethnic minority group.

You have managed to determine that if just one of these seven people is removed from the boat, the boat will stop sinking.

Who do you throw out of the boat?

I really wonder why it's necessary to spell out that there's a member of the ethnic minority. When I was visualizing the passengers, I actually did visualize the elderly person as an older black gentleman, and can't a doctor also be obese? But those are tangential questions; moving on to the ethical dilemma.

I'm going to guess that REASONS prevent me from putting myself off the boat? If that's the case, and for some other REASON I also have unilateral power to decide who gets off the boat and the means to accomplish the removal, I'd first ask for a volunteer (why can't I volunteer again?). If none were forthcoming, I would have the seven people draw lots.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2017, 09:14:32 AM by Regina Minx »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #86 on: September 03, 2017, 09:04:08 AM »
That's not the source of the conflict. You can be a religious individualist or a religious collectivist. You can also be a secular individualist or a secular collectivist. Matt is starting off with a discussion of the "get along socially" aspect of morality is because very few moral actions are evaluated in a vacuum. In fact, almost all moral actions are moral with respect to their effect on other people, and the goal of morality is to evaluate a system of behaviors on the basis of well being.

Agreed that you can't have the luxury of being an armchair moralist, at the very least.

I really wonder why it's necessary to spell out that there's a member of the ethnic minority. When I was visualizing the passengers, I actually did visualize the elderly person as an older black gentleman, and can't a doctor also be obese? But those are tangential questions; moving on to the ethical dilemma.

There's nothing saying none of those things can't be true, but the scenario requires that everyone present have only one qualifier to distinguish them from the rest - everyone on the boat could be black, for example, but that's not the important thing for answering the question.

I'm going to guess that REASONS prevent me from putting myself off the boat? If that's the case, and for some other REASON I also have unilateral power to decide who gets off the boat and the means to accomplish the removal, I'd first ask for a volunteer (why can't I volunteer again?). If none were forthcoming, I would have the seven people draw lots.

No, you are perfectly capable of putting yourself off the boat, but it means you are the one most likely to die, given the situation.  As for volunteers, other than yourself, no one would (again, part of the scenario).

And drawing lots?  You'd rather leave it to chance when you can make the decision yourself?

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #87 on: September 03, 2017, 09:32:15 AM »
No, you are perfectly capable of putting yourself off the boat, but it means you are the one most likely to die, given the situation.

I realize. Then my answer is unchanged.
1) I volunteer
If ~1, then 2) I ask for another volunteer
If ~2, then 3) Draw lots

And drawing lots?  You'd rather leave it to chance when you can make the decision yourself?

You mean, would I rather make this very difficult decision in a manner that is utterly blind to bias and subjective value judgments? A method that is the very definition of fair and equitable?

I think a better question is, why wouldn't you? If you have an answer that differs from mine, I'd love to hear it.

But I'm going to make a note ahead of time that unless your motivation is utterly vile (let's kill the filthy Filipino!) I'm not going to say your decision was a wrong one. This isn't precisely a triage situation where you're diverting limited time, attention, and resources onto those that need help soonest and who have the greatest degree of living. Presumably, everyone in this situation has the exact same chance of living once one person is put off the boat. I'm not going to ding you if you say that you would choose one of the seven instead of volunteering yourself. Here's where moral obligation and moral virtue part company, and while it might have been virtuous to offer to sacrifice yourself, that does not mean that you were obligated to do so.

Therefore, you're put in the unenviable position of determining who most deserves to live, or conversely, who most deserves to die for the sake of the other seven people (including yourself). I'm not going to call you out for putting the obese person in the raft as opposed to the old person, or the doctor as opposed to the teen, etc. You have to make a value judgment to get there, but I made the same value judgment when I determined to make the fairest decision possible.



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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #88 on: September 03, 2017, 01:13:57 PM »
You mean, would I rather make this very difficult decision in a manner that is utterly blind to bias and subjective value judgments? A method that is the very definition of fair and equitable?

I think a better question is, why wouldn't you? If you have an answer that differs from mine, I'd love to hear it.

But I'm going to make a note ahead of time that unless your motivation is utterly vile (let's kill the filthy Filipino!) I'm not going to say your decision was a wrong one. This isn't precisely a triage situation where you're diverting limited time, attention, and resources onto those that need help soonest and who have the greatest degree of living. Presumably, everyone in this situation has the exact same chance of living once one person is put off the boat. I'm not going to ding you if you say that you would choose one of the seven instead of volunteering yourself. Here's where moral obligation and moral virtue part company, and while it might have been virtuous to offer to sacrifice yourself, that does not mean that you were obligated to do so.

Therefore, you're put in the unenviable position of determining who most deserves to live, or conversely, who most deserves to die for the sake of the other seven people (including yourself). I'm not going to call you out for putting the obese person in the raft as opposed to the old person, or the doctor as opposed to the teen, etc. You have to make a value judgment to get there, but I made the same value judgment when I determined to make the fairest decision possible.

Technically, there is only one 'bad' option in this scenario, though in certain other cases you might be considered heinous for setting some people adrift.  The bad option is to set the doctor afloat; the doctor has medical knowledge that is valuable, whereas the others may or may not (depending on their profession).  The doctor, though, is more or less there as an easy elimination option - instead of having to pick seven people to die, you know the doctor stays so now you only have to pick six.

Most of the rest, you have to balance the benefits and the drawbacks of each individual.

Also, there is something you stated that doesn't quite make sense to me, so perhaps you can explain it.  You said that by going by chance, you were employing a method that was blind to subjective value judgments...but that you made a value judgment yourself when you determined to make the fairest decision possible.  There's probably a step or three in that chain that I'm missing, but I've read enough Lincoln to know that opposite statements cannot be true simultaneously.  Either it is blind to value judgments or it's not, and you haven't struck me as someone that wouldn't see a contradiction like that, so either this is one of those rare moments or I'm missing something.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #89 on: September 03, 2017, 01:45:11 PM »
Technically, there is only one 'bad' option in this scenario, though in certain other cases you might be considered heinous for setting some people adrift.  The bad option is to set the doctor afloat; the doctor has medical knowledge that is valuable, whereas the others may or may not (depending on their profession).

Objection. Assumes facts not in evidence. You said doctor, not MD. A PhD or DDS would both also be doctors. Even a podiatrist would be an MD who would not be super helpful assisting with medical situations in the foreseeable future. If you want to be artificially super-specified in saying that not only is this doctor an MD but a specialist in survival medicine, then you're putting weight on the scales by adding relevant details to make the doctor seem more valuable. We might as well say that the teenager is an Eagle Scout with merit badges in navigation, or that the ethnic minority is a skilled ship builder who can repair the damage to the ship.

If the purpose of the moral dilemma is to try to get me to make examinations about how I would triage a situation and what skills I would value, the situation needs to be much more well defined. I'm not going to assume that there are health risks on the horizon if that's not part of the original scenario.

The doctor, though, is more or less there as an easy elimination option - instead of having to pick seven people to die, you know the doctor stays so now you only have to pick six.

Most of the rest, you have to balance the benefits and the drawbacks of each individual.

The original framework of the scenario assumes only the immediate crisis of the ship sinking. That was the basis on which I made my decision.

Also, there is something you stated that doesn't quite make sense to me, so perhaps you can explain it.  You said that by going by chance, you were employing a method that was blind to subjective value judgments...but that you made a value judgment yourself when you determined to make the fairest decision possible.  There's probably a step or three in that chain that I'm missing, but I've read enough Lincoln to know that opposite statements cannot be true simultaneously.  Either it is blind to value judgments or it's not, and you haven't struck me as someone that wouldn't see a contradiction like that, so either this is one of those rare moments or I'm missing something.

There's no contradiction. What I was doing was elaborating on the connection between the value and the method. The value in question I'm employing is fairness. The method I use to achieve fairness is letting the person being put off the ship be randomly determined. In a fair system, no person is valued more or than any other person regardless of ethnic status, age, gender, profession, and the like.

If I put the old man on the boat because he has fewer years left to live, I'm employing a moral system that puts more value on youth than age. If I put the obese person on the boat, I'm employing a moral system that (presumably) punishes obese people for being obese. If I put anyone BUT the doctor on the boat, I'm using a moral system that values accomplishment (remember that I was stating only the assumption that the immediate problem of the sinking ship needed to be addressed). If I refrain from putting the pregnant woman on the boat, I'm affording her and/or the fetus special rights. If I put the minority on the boat, I'm saying that that person has less value than the non-ethnic person, and so on.

If I can't volunteer myself, and none of the seven wants to volunteer themselves, I'm going to make the decision in the fairest possible way, because my answer to the moral dilemma of how to value people and who to save in a crisis situation is to be fair to all involved.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #90 on: September 03, 2017, 02:19:34 PM »
Objection. Assumes facts not in evidence. You said doctor, not MD. A PhD or DDS would both also be doctors. Even a podiatrist would be an MD who would not be super helpful assisting with medical situations in the foreseeable future. If you want to be artificially super-specified in saying that not only is this doctor an MD but a specialist in survival medicine, then you're putting weight on the scales by adding relevant details to make the doctor seem more valuable. We might as well say that the teenager is an Eagle Scout with merit badges in navigation, or that the ethnic minority is a skilled ship builder who can repair the damage to the ship.

Really?  We're going here?  I mean, yes, TECHNICALLY those people also carry the title Doctor, but cut me a break.  A DDS isn't referred as a doctor, they're referred to as a dentist in common parlance, for one.  If I were to go out on the street and present this situation to 100 people, I'm more than willing to bet that over 95% of them would assume that when I say doctor, I'm referring to an MD.

And yes, I technically did not say that our doctor was an MD, but your objection is irrelevant, this is not a courtroom.

If the purpose of the moral dilemma is to try to get me to make examinations about how I would triage a situation and what skills I would value, the situation needs to be much more well defined. I'm not going to assume that there are health risks on the horizon if that's not part of the original scenario.

The original framework of the scenario assumes only the immediate crisis of the ship sinking. That was the basis on which I made my decision.

For one, I did state that one of the people on the boat had a heart condition.

If you really want to get your head into this, this is a whole set of philosophical arguments called lifeboat ethics.  To provoke a discussion on that was not my original intent in bringing up the scenario; it was to illustrate (rather badly, in retrospect) that while you are doing a good thing overall - you are saving the lives of seven people - you are also potentially condemning someone to die, which is a bad thing, but would a collectivist moral system recognize it as such, recognize the concept of necessary evil?

There's no contradiction. What I was doing was elaborating on the connection between the value and the method. The value in question I'm employing is fairness. The method I use to achieve fairness is letting the person being put off the ship be randomly determined. In a fair system, no person is valued more or than any other person regardless of ethnic status, age, gender, profession, and the like.

Fairness in only a single sense of the word.  Psychology Today published a short article on what fairness actually means, and it suggests that when we are talking about fairness, we are compositing three things together: sameness, deservedness, and need.

Yes, your idea is fair, but only by the standard of sameness, and even that is dependent upon the method by which you select who gets thrown out.  (The old method of 'drawing straws' is NOT one such case.)  But ideally, everyone has the same chance to be put adrift - one out of seven (or eight, if you decide to include yourself).

In a fairness system that emphasizes sameness, yes, no one person is valued more than any other person - the system would not change one iota from the scenario I proposed above if I swapped out the eight people for eight identical copies of the same person - but fairness should be more than that.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #91 on: September 03, 2017, 03:00:48 PM »
Really?  We're going here?  I mean, yes, TECHNICALLY those people also carry the title Doctor, but cut me a break.  A DDS isn't referred as a doctor, they're referred to as a dentist in common parlance, for one.  If I were to go out on the street and present this situation to 100 people, I'm more than willing to bet that over 95% of them would assume that when I say doctor, I'm referring to an MD.


If you haven't learned by now that philosophy is the practice of asking very child-like questions with the precision of a veteran lawyer, I don't know what to tell you.

For one, I did state that one of the people on the boat had a heart condition.

But not that the doctor was a heart specialist. If the doctor is an OB/GYN he or she would be more suited to treating the pregnant woman, and any situational advantage his or her status as an OB/GYN wouldn't be relevant if, hypothetically, the pregnant woman was put off the boat. If the doctor was a specialist in geriatric medicine, that advantage transfers to and is dependent on the presence of the older person. And if they doctor is a podiatrist, then I don't see that there's necessarily an advantage.

If you really want to get your head into this, this is a whole set of philosophical arguments called lifeboat ethics.  To provoke a discussion on that was not my original intent in bringing up the scenario; it was to illustrate (rather badly, in retrospect) that while you are doing a good thing overall - you are saving the lives of seven people - you are also potentially condemning someone to die, which is a bad thing, but would a collectivist moral system recognize it as such, recognize the concept of necessary evil?

Since I pointed out earlier that religious ethics and collectivist ethics aren't in conflict, this doesn't work if the intent is to 'gotcha' people who are collectivist. Since there's nothing that precludes them from believing that the ultimate source of ethics that benefit the common good is God. Under religious ethics, is God OK with necessary evil? Although there is no ONE religious answer to a dilemma such as this, I'm curious who you would put on the boat, if we assume that there is only one immediate crisis, the sinking of the boat. I would also like to amend the setup slightly so that it is known that the boat will sink in 2 hours, and that rescue will come in 24, and a person will die in 4 hours of hypothermia. There's no need to ration food, repair the boat, or do anything else but wait for rescue

(and let's just hand wave a rotating system of having people tread water for short periods of time so that there are always 7 people on the boat and it doesn't sink).

Is God cool with you deciding to put the doctor into the water to save the other 7? Or would God rather that everyone stay on the boat and die so that those that can get to Heaven will get there as soon as possible?

Addressing the point of whether collectivist ethics recognizes necessary evil, it behooves us to define evil. The definition I'm going to use here is to define evil as an action that inflicts needless suffering. I don't see the choice to put out one of the 7 passengers as needless, and therefore it can't be evil. It goes back to the earlier talk about the intent of actions affecting their moral character. It's not evil if I accidentally hit you with my car, or if my car hits you because the brakes aren't working (and I'd done due diligence in inspecting and servicing them). It's also not evil to put one person off the boat if the underlying need for that is the present life-threatening situation facing the other 7. In an emergency medical situation in which two people have roughly the same probability of survival, but the surgeon only has the time and attention to provide care to one of them, it's not evil if the doctor makes that decision (unless done for atrocious reasons but all other things being equal)...

Fairness in only a single sense of the word.  Psychology Today published a short article on what fairness actually means, and it suggests that when we are talking about fairness, we are compositing three things together: sameness, deservedness, and need.

Yes, your idea is fair, but only by the standard of sameness, and even that is dependent upon the method by which you select who gets thrown out.  (The old method of 'drawing straws' is NOT one such case.)  But ideally, everyone has the same chance to be put adrift - one out of seven (or eight, if you decide to include yourself).

In a fairness system that emphasizes sameness, yes, no one person is valued more than any other person - the system would not change one iota from the scenario I proposed above if I swapped out the eight people for eight identical copies of the same person - but fairness should be more than that.

It's great that it's understood that there are multiple definitions of the word, but you can't ascribe that my system isn't fair because it doesn't meet all definitions of that word. I specifically was referring to the nature of this system that is equitable. Allowing random chance (or as close to random chance as we can manage) to decide is a socially just means of dividing the limited resources in the society, in this case, the limited amount of space on the boat.

I have also asked this to you a couple of times now. Who would you put on the boat? You said the doctor wouldn't be. I disagree with the rationale behind that decision because it requires that I assume facts not part of the original premise, but fine. You wouldn't put out the doctor. But who would you put out?

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #92 on: October 19, 2017, 08:18:09 PM »
Addressing the point of whether collectivist ethics recognizes necessary evil, it behooves us to define evil.

And this, I think, is where the whole discussion breaks down.

Circular logic in the case of many religions (For example, "Look at all of creation! It proves that God exists! Why? Because God said he made it, and here it is, so God exists. How do we know that? Look at creation! It exists, therefore God made it!) has left a troubling trend of people believing they possess the singular definition of evil and therefore the singular path to good, where such a thing can be said to exist. Of course, that they immediately undercut that by claiming that even though they are the only ones in possession of the blueprint for good, that no one can be good by the definition of humanity and therefore fall into bad no matter what they do is just a trap, frankly, but that is a whole other branch of conversation.

A lot of the time it frustrates me to hear the argument for conditional morality, because it leads to the slippery slope fallacy. Those who claim that morality is different around the world are forgetting the consistencies. Everyone worldwide kinda understands that murder is wrong. They have to or they wouldn't have to come up with excuses to justify it (Such as ... well, religion). People know it's wrong, with the proof being that vengeance is a universal concept. I would posit that the single most common reason for vengeance in any known literature is murder, followed closely by rape and then madness. Jealousy is also a universal concept as far as I am aware, and just as universally rejected. The concept of truth and deceit is, as far as I can tell, globally known and understood to indicate that deceit is despicable.

When people complain about there being shifts in morality between cultures, they're most often talking about things the holy texts do not address: Transgender and alternatively sexual rights, reproduction, celebration, imbibing... in short, things that are governed largely by tradition and not by faith.

For support, I offer up Jehovah's Witnesses. It wasn't until... I think my source said 1981 that they stopped celebrating Christmas and Birthdays because Christmas was based on Pagan traditions (finally, a Christian sub-set that gets their asses outta the appropriation game) and birthdays because of the fact that the Bible says nothing good about birthdays. Apparently there were murders and hangings and all manner of unpleasantness any time a birthday is mentioned in the Bible.

Trouble is, they were established towards the end of the 1800's and didn't change anything about those celebrations until the end of the 1900's. This shows that it is a shift in tradition and not in faith, except where that faith specifically sets out to oppose tradition for tradition's sake.

All of this to say that morality is a very tricky subject. One of my favourite YouTube philosophers (CosmicSkeptic) points out that in order for him to consider morality truly objective, it has to exist in as close to a vacuum as possible. In essence, would it still be moral if humans didn't exist? Now, even he points out that with that argument, he doesn't intend to devalue subjective morality, but is forced to admit that to a degree, all morality is subjective. For instance, if a man steals something from another man, it's immoral. But if a hyena steals a kill from a lion, it's amoral (being without a moral compass or any measurable moral impact) since it is adherent to the innate compulsion for survival. In the end, theft is a subjective immorality because outside of the human world, animals and plants and even the very rocks that make the earth livable engage in a theft of some manner or another as consistently as the earth exists.

The only question left at that point is to what degree we decide that morality need be applied to us and our surroundings. Even theft between humans is considered to scale. We call it looting, commandeering or scavenging, depending on the level of usefulness to the proper owner and our own necessity for survival. Can we really claim to define morality in such absolute terms as the Bible and its fanatics call for?

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #93 on: October 19, 2017, 08:58:33 PM »
All of this to say that morality is a very tricky subject. One of my favourite YouTube philosophers (CosmicSkeptic) points out that in order for him to consider morality truly objective, it has to exist in as close to a vacuum as possible. In essence, would it still be moral if humans didn't exist? Now, even he points out that with that argument, he doesn't intend to devalue subjective morality, but is forced to admit that to a degree, all morality is subjective. For instance, if a man steals something from another man, it's immoral. But if a hyena steals a kill from a lion, it's amoral (being without a moral compass or any measurable moral impact) since it is adherent to the innate compulsion for survival. In the end, theft is a subjective immorality because outside of the human world, animals and plants and even the very rocks that make the earth livable engage in a theft of some manner or another as consistently as the earth exists.

And if a man breaks a window pane to steal a loaf of bread so his nephew doesn't starve to death...  what would be more immoral: stealing the bread, or allowing the child to die?

Offline Fury AphrodisiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #94 on: October 19, 2017, 09:11:06 PM »
Well, therein lies the rub, doesn't it?

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #95 on: October 19, 2017, 09:35:27 PM »
And if a man breaks a window pane to steal a loaf of bread so his nephew doesn't starve to death...  what would be more immoral: stealing the bread, or allowing the child to die?

Ask the bishop of Digne.  I'm sure he would be able to tell you.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #96 on: November 11, 2017, 09:45:57 PM »
   

A pair of videos by a pair of YouTubers studying the current use of religion, omitting any arguments over the concept of its truth.

Offline NebulousCass

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #97 on: November 14, 2017, 02:39:41 AM »
And if a man breaks a window pane to steal a loaf of bread so his nephew doesn't starve to death...  what would be more immoral: stealing the bread, or allowing the child to die?

This entirely depends on which ethical theory you subscribe/apply to it.

Under Utilitarianism, it would be considered morally justified to break the window and steal the loaf of bread to prevent a death. The suffering subjected to the store owner would be temporary and the loss of the loaf of bread and destroyed window can be recovered. The loss of a human life, is permanent and can not be replaced.

The only theory in which such an action would be seen as immoral is through Moral Absolutism. Where even though through inaction (not stealing the bread/breaking the window) that a person would die, you would be morally justified because you yourself did not cause harm to another.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #98 on: November 14, 2017, 07:05:42 PM »
Reiji and I were both referring to Valjean's situation in Les Miserables - Valjean's initial crime was the one I presented in my post.  The Bishop of Digne was the one who chose to lie(!) to the police so that Valjean would not be rearrested for stealing the silver during his parole, and indeed, further financed Valjean's ability to become 'an honest man' by presenting him with some silver candlesticks while making his statement to the officers.  (In the book, the candlesticks are specifically not sold, however, and make a significant appearance during Valjean's death scene, when he is asked if he wants a priest.  He gazes at the candlesticks and says 'I have one.')

Offline Remiel

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #99 on: November 30, 2017, 08:34:01 AM »
Performing a bit of thread necromancy here--I stumbled across this article today and it deeply resonated with me.  I was wondering what people think of it.

Quote
But trying to nurture moral virtues is one thing; assuming that you are already moral and virtuous simply because you identify with a particular religion is another. The latter turns religion into a tool for self-glorification. A religion’s adherents assume themselves to be moral by default, and so they never bother to question themselves. At the same time, they look down on other people as misguided souls, if not wicked infidels.

For such people, religion works not as cure for the soul, but as drug for the ego. It makes them not humble, but arrogant.

As a skeptic and an agnostic, I think religion, in itself, is not a bad thing.  It fulfills a very basic human need: the need to feel important, that one's life has value in a cold and uncaring universe.  And many of the big religions today have fulfilled a valuable social service--namely, charity organizations, helping the poor and those at the bottom rungs of society.

The trouble, I think, is when theists get into the mindset of thinking of religion not as a kind of moral code, a compass for how to live their lives, but more as an identity--i.e. "I am Christian and you are not."

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #100 on: November 30, 2017, 09:25:49 AM »
Content Warning: LOTS OF WORDS!

Since we're doing thread necromancy, it occurs to me that I never answered a question Reiji posed to me.

Or, perhaps the statement I should be making, what precisely do you believe about the death of Jesus?  (Nothing is an acceptable answer.)

I am not going to argue the mythicist position. I don’t believe mythicism can be dismissed out of hand, especially because I believe that the consensus in history, especially Jesus studies, is often based on faulty logic which is emblematic of a larger trend in the study of history itself. I believe that ‘consensus’ is not an intrinsically reliable guide to what’s true in history because it tends to be founded on logically invalid methods. For this, I refer you to both Richard Carrier’s Proving History and David Hackett Fischer in Historians’ Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought.

What I will do is outline what evidence I’m considering, what I think about it, the conclusions I draw from that evidence, and what I think are the implications of those conclusions. If you wish me to elaborate on any point, I will be happy to do so, even if it is only to point you to my source.

What counts as evidence?

In the study of history, we have to consider primary source material. For something to count as primary source material, it has to fit two basic criteria. (a) It has to be plausibly capable of being causally connected with the facts, and (b) it must be relatively independent of other pieces of primary evidence. As an example of what would not count for satisfying the first criterion is someone claiming to have psychic visions of events they’re providing information about (which has implications when we consider the Epistles).

Now I am not arguing from this that copies or later manuscript traditions cannot count as primary sources of evidence. For example, a medieval manuscript of Lucian’s account of his interactions with Peregrinus Proteus (in Lucian’s Death of Peregrinus) is evidence of the existence of Peregrinus and what happened to him. The reason for this is that the most plausible explanation of the manuscript’s existence is that it is the latest of a series of copies of a book written by Lucian. That original book was causally connected to Peregrinus by the fact that Lucian saw what happened to Peregrinus and recorded it later. (Or so Lucian claims, but I digress).

The second criterion is just as important: evidence must be independent. If someone wrote something about Peregrinus for which their sole source of information was Lucian’s book, then only the latter counts as evidence. In Bayesian terms, the probability of having information taken from a primary source if that source’s information is false is the same as the probability if the content is true. Therefore, having the secondary source can have no effect on the epistemic probability that the claim in question is true. Having a copy of someone’s letter, for example, does not make the original letter any more likely to be genuine or its contents any more likely to be true.

Unfortunately this conclusion still follows even if we merely cannot establish that a source is independent. For example, if someone after Lucian who had access to Lucian’s book says things about Peregrinus that are things Lucian already said about him, then that later source still can no longer count as relevant evidence for Peregrinus. It only counts as evidence of widespread knowledge about Peregrinus, but that’s not the same thing. Of course it’s possible this later author had a source independent of Lucian; but ‘possibly, therefore probably’ is a logical fallacy. Information that we cannot establish as independence cannot be considered.

This is significant because almost all the evidence for anything we know about the historical Jesus (including whether or not there even was one) cannot be established as independent of earlier evidence we already have. When all that evidence is excluded, we are left with very little.


The Actual Evidence We Have

The only evidence we have for the historical Jesus is written; books and letters. Personally, I’m only willing to consider texts that are known to be originally written (or probably written) before 120 CE as being causally connected to the facts, since after that time any surviving witnesses of the Christian cult’s creation cannot reasonably be expected to still be alive, but also because after that time the amount of bogus, forged literature about Jesus and the early Christians exploded. I do want to take a special note of this point: Other historical events did not generate nearly the same explosion of forgery and redaction. Few historical events generated much of ANY forgery and redaction, therefore the survival and detection of accurate information is tremendously difficult on the question of the historical Jesus.

The actual evidence I’m going to divide it into two here: evidence written by Christians and evidence not written by Christians. Note that this is not the same thing as evidence in the Bible and evidence not in the Bible. In the second category (things not written by Christians), we have almost nothing. There’s some material, but the problem is that it cannot be established as being independent of things we already know were written by or about Christians (such as the canonical Gospels). In the set of evidence written by Christians, there is a subset that material not in the Bible…but again, most of this is irrelevant. Either because it was written too long after the fact to be causally connected by the facts, or because we cannot establish it as independent.

Then, finally, the New Testament.

Non-Christian Writers

I’m already at a thousand words here, and I’m not going to detail each and every writer and piece of evidence. What I am going to say is that, for non-Christian writers, I don’t find the argument that they establish a historical Jesus persuasive. Josephus comments on Jesus are very likely Christian interpolations. Pliny only tells us that he had no idea what Christians were or believed until he interrogated some of them and discovered it was some sort of base superstition involving the worship of a certain ‘Christ’ who was something like a God but he gives no further details about him (not even the name ‘Jesus’), and says nothing pertinent to establishing historical details. This is not independent evidence and therefore worthless.

There’s reason to believe that Tacitus’ mention of “Christ” when describing Neronian persecutions of the 60s is a later fabrication, since it was unknown to people who quoted Tacitus at length and even this very passage until the 4th century. Thallus did not mention Jesus; Julius Africanus mistakenly claimed that he had. Suetonius mentions the expulsion of Jews from Rome following riots of an instigator named Chrestus, and the way he words it makes it impossible to conclude that he meant Jesus, who was neither alive at the time nor ever said to be in Rome under the reign of Claudius.

Non-Biblical Christian writings

Clement’s letter never talks about anything historical about Jesus. It never once places Jesus in history or ever tells any stories about him, never uses his stories as an example for anything, nor ever quotes anything Jesus says in the Gospels. Apart from his death, it never mentions any event in his life, any fact about his life, or anything not narrated in the Gospels. And this despite the fact that this is almost as long as both of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians combined. No information in the letters of Clement lead one to any justified belief in anything about Jesus.

The letters of Ignatius are implausible on the face as being valid history, in terms of questions about actual authorship, the date of authorship, and circumstances of their composition. Ignatius also does not tell us anything that we can show to be independent of the Gospels with one exception; To the Ephesians 19 is a bizarre reference to some Gospel other than the Gospel of Matthew, and thus can count as independent evidence of another Gospel tradition. Unfortunately, this Gospel tradition is peculiar on a historic theory and heavy with mythologic elements that would argue more strongly in favor of a mythic Christ than a historic one.

The less said about Papias the better. I mean, the man said he rejected what books said and instead relied only on hearsay, because he considered that to be more reliable. And yet, apart from the author of Acts, he’s the only Church historian whose writings we still have access to. What I will say is that nothing in Papias supports anything historical about Jesus. It confirms only that in the second century many Christians were relying on the Gospels for their historic knowledge of Jesus and felt at liberty to invent any stories about him that suited them, while some were even claiming to have known someone who knew Jesus to lend authority to whatever they invented about him. This is mentioned as supporting proof that this is no more unexpected in the second century as in the first, and why I will later say about the Gospels what I do.

Hegesiuppus it is the last known attempt at collecting historical data about first-century Christianity that we have from the second century. And what we see, especially in tales about the family of Jesus, is that they are so obviously fictional we cannot place value in them as history.

Acts

The book of Acts is pretty much historical fiction from top to bottom. The author’s brazen fabrications including the use of Josephus to make his story “look like” legitimate history, and his rewriting of facts reported directly by Paul pretty much establish that he is not honestly reporting the facts as he knows them. He is trying to create facts and sell them as the truth. This makes it impossible for us to know if the author had any real historical information or was just trying to sell a load of made-up bullshit. Nothing in Acts is persuasive as historical evidence. My source on this are Richard Parvo’s “The Mystery of Acts” and “Acts, a Commentary”.

The Gospels

Historians and Biblical scholars have attempted to develop some method to “tease out” a historical Jesus from the Gospels (a method invalid for the reasons I mentioned earlier). But if the Gospels are myth and made-up history in the first place, this is even more futile than for the fact that it has an invalid method, since it lies on the assumption that the intent of the Gospel authors is to record a collection of historical facts reported to them.

In other words, if instead the intent of the authors is to construct symbolic myths about Jesus, then we have no reason to expect any of their content to be historical. That would make the arguments of historians and Biblical scholars like Bart Ehrman flawed in both premise and structure. Some information in the Gospels may be historical, but since distinguishing fact from fiction would not have been of primary interest to the Gospels’ authors, we will have little hope of finding clues to such distinctions in the texts themselves. Yes, sometimes we can corroborate evidence to isolate factual elements (such as archaeological confirmation of the existence of Pontius Pilate). But confirming unrelated elements of the Gospels would not confirm their relationship to the historical Jesus. For example, just because there really was a Pontius Pilate did not mean that he crucified Jesus, let alone crucified Jesus at the behest of the Sanhedrin. Just like a novel that has aliens landing on the White House lawn and interacting with Richard Nixon doesn’t make the aliens really having existed and done the things the book describes, just because it mentions a real historical person.

What we have to contend with is that we are limited in our ability to know the historical truth about Jesus based on the Gospels. They are simply not historical records, even when they try to pass themselves off as such. They are literary constructs through and through. That means that I cannot consider anything in the Gospels to be verifiably true about the historical Jesus.

The Epistles

Paul’s whole argument of Galatians 1–2 is that human testimony was distrusted by the Galatians, to the point that he had to deny he ever relied on it, and had to insist instead that he had all his information by direct revelation, and that he didn’t even talk to anyone else in the church for years (he is even forced to swear to this). The snarkiest part of me is inclined to therefore just take Paul at his word. He had no human source for the information he presents about Jesus, and thus any evidence in Paul cannot be shown to be causally connected to the facts, and not count as primary source evidence.

However. If I am arguing a fortiori, I would allow that Paul was lying about this and only this fact. He learned what he knew from an oral tradition that he learned from the chief apostles called the Three Pillars. I said earlier that a causal chain of a manuscript could count as primary source evidence, so I’ll allow that here. What does Paul then say about Jesus?

Paul mentions ‘Jesus’ or ‘Christ’ almost 300 times, and this doesn’t even count when he refers to him as ‘the Lord’ or “Son of God’. But not a single one of these mentions has anything to do with any historical details with three exceptions. Paul is adamant that Jesus was crucified, and that he rose from the dead, and that he appeared afterwards in visions to those he named apostles (indeed, that’s what it meant to BE an apostle: to have a vision of the resurrected Jesus).

Never once is his baptism mentioned, or his ministry, or his trial, or any of his miracles, or any historical details about what he was like, what he did, or suffered, or where he was from, or where he had been, or what people he knew. No memories from those who knew him are ever reported. Paul never mentions Galilee or Nazareth, or Pilate or Mary or Joseph, or any miracles Jesus did or any miraculous powers he is supposed to have displayed . . . or anything about the life of Jesus later found in the Gospels. Paul never references any event in Jesus’ life as an example to follow (beyond the abstractions of love, endurance and submissiveness), and never places anything Jesus said in any earthly historical context whatever. So far as these letters tell us, no Christian ever asked Paul about these things, either. Nor did any of these things ever become relevant in any dispute Paul had with anyone. Not one of his opponents, so far as Paul mentions, ever referenced a fact about Jesus’ life in support of their arguments. And no one ever doubted anything claimed about Jesus and asked for witnesses to confirm it or explain it or give more details.

That’s just bizarre. Now, the sheer bizarreness of the information both in and conspicuously NOT in the Epistles is fodder for another discussion, and there are two elements I’m omitting here for space reasons. But I’ve made my point: the lack of evidence that is both causally connected to, independent of, and not intended primarily to mythologize the historical Jesus leaves us only with what Paul has to say (and even to get that into consideration we have to accept that Paul lied about where he had gotten it). Even having admitted it into consideration, though, the only details that really seem to concern Paul is that Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead.

Conclusion

So. In a long, long, LONG-winded answer to your question…what do I believe about the historical Jesus? I believe that if he existed at all:

1: He probably (but not definitely) lived in 1st century Judea and had followers in life who continued as an identifiable movement after his death.
2: He was killed by crucifixion.
3: His followers worshipped him, either before or after his death, as a living god/demigod.

I’m not arguing mythicism here, but I am willing to entertain that doubt about even the above 3 points is justified, and that there just isn’t enough surviving evidence to let us conclude any relevant detail about his life other than what I identified.

Implications of the Conclusion

Why don’t we have as much evidence for Jesus as we do for Socrates? There are really only five viable explanations, which are not themselves mutually exclusive per se, but some of which are more probable than others:

(1) Jesus was so insignificant and uninfluential that he inspired almost no following whatever and was completely unnoticed by any literate person who composed a factually reliable account of him until and except Paul, (2) massive quantities of documents were either neglected or deliberately destroyed, (3) there was a great natural disruption or dying off in the Church that resulted in accidental loss or abandonment of nearly all the documents there may have been, which would have had to take place across three continents and dozens of cities, (4) the first apostles of Jesus had a massive disinterest in creating a written record during the first century, or (5) there is no historical record because there was no historical person.

You have to pick one or some combination from that list, because there’s no other reasonable alternative to the strange silence of evidence on the life and times of Jesus. Of the first four options, no matter how you pick from them, an inescapable consequence is that we simply cannot claim to know anything about Jesus even remotely approaching how much and how reliably we know about Socrates.

Offline Fury AphrodisiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #101 on: November 30, 2017, 10:08:46 AM »
One thing I've noticed while I dig through statistics, is that particularly here in Canada, there's a misguided mindset that charitable organizations were initially religious, when the truth is that it's a firmly flawed statement. I was having this conversation with someone the other day, and I feel like I saw a discussion about it on ... John Oliver, I think? Whatever the case, there's a problem with the claim.

Firstly, to claim that we would or would not have particular charitable organizations without religion is untestable - Humans have been creating their own cosmic space wizards since the sun confused them at the dawn of time. You have no control sample by which to test the idea of charity on a large scale with any scientific integrity. There are anecdotal incidences of secluded tribes in remote areas that seem to have no particular gods or religions, but even in those cases creation myths can be found. As far as I'm aware, there is no community without some sort of religious affiliation that does not also show altruistic tendency.

What I do know is that, here in Canada specifically, (As can be found here in an explanation of a survey by Stats Canada between the years of 2007 and 2010), there are significant portions of religious giving - almost overwhelming - that are specifically given to religions, considered a charity on their own. Whether people would call that charitable giving is somewhat dishonest. Firstly, the Abrahamic religions seem to universally "encourage" their membership to donate to the church, to a point where the Christian faith demands a ten-percent tithe. Personally (And I'm aware this is only anecdotal) I know that Christian attendees are taught at length that they are required by god to give ten percent of their gross earnings to the church, not net earnings, which means that they generally and up giving twenty percent or more. As a child, what I earned through businesses I owned myself was automatically docked twenty five percent because that's what god expected. This is extortion, not charitable giving.

A second problem with the concept of religions themselves being considered charitable giving is that the money automatically is filtered back into the church and rarely goes so far as the rest of the community. Church soup kitchens aren't held to equality standard, neither are church-run shelters, church-run legal organizations, church-run housing subsidies, church-run scholarship funds.... I hope I'm making the point. They are not required to help anyone outside of their own faith, meaning that it's specifically excluding large swathes of the population. It gets to the point where a certain fraction of those funds are capable of being used to directly attack other members of the community, such as is the case with the Salvation Army. These people have outright stated that half the people who populate Elliquiy, for example, or my own family will not only not receive benefit of their services, but instead are condemned to burn, should be left to die literally in the streets and are using the funds donated in order to pursue suppression of equality and human rights.

The truth is that there is a dangerous double-standard in the case of these organizations. They aren't required to help anyone outside of their own worldview, leaving them vulnerable not only to punishing those who need help for not holding the right religious attitudes, but can even go so far as being abusive to others on the basis of lack of religious intent. There are situations, however, where they count towards federal counts for things such as shelters (such as shelters for abused women, who have been known to abuse their residents by telling them they weren't pleasing god and therefore had opened themselves up to abuse. This is horrendous for anyone, but ...), soup kitchens and donation organizations such as clothing, food and toy drives.

This means that, at least in Canada, religious organizations count towards the saturation of services. If there's a shelter in a city, the federal government recognizes that as help being offered to that city. If it is a small enough city, that counts towards the total federally mandated necessity and can therefore excuse any lack of external sources of support, since it's already covered. In theory, this is good practice to save the federal government money. The trouble is, they are only starting to balance that with an understanding of what the limitations of those programs are and what the government is legally allowed to demand of them. In effect, Canada cannot demand they help everyone, which means that churches don't have to. Entire cities are at the mercy of the combined villains of the poverty line and expectations demanded from religious affiliation.

In my city, the Catholic church owns four shelters: One men's, two women/childrens, one family. The only other shelter is the Muslim shelter on the border of the neighbouring city. Only in the last year has another shelter, publicly funded, been proposed. In essence, the people who don't believe in birth control, divorce of the woman's right to stand up to her husband are in charge of the shelter for abused women and children. When I was forced to use the shelter, it was common to hear abused women told they had tested god and he had delivered punishment to them by using their husbands to do so.

And the kicker? Most of these shelters, if not all, get federal funding as well because they are serving a purpose as subsidies that the government is technically responsible for.

So, this is just one aspect of why the claim that religions are the leading edge of charitable donations is technically true but honestly flawed. If one is being intellectually honest, they have to admit that there's a really dicey line between what is considered philanthropy and what is religious monetary coersion.

There are accounts of secular organizations comprising larger overall societal benefit, but that's a whole other (long) post when I can gather the significant citations, if someone wishes to directly challenge that.

The point of the article, however, as well as your own point seems to be upheld. Can people who comport themselves like this really be called morally superior, or is it all a method by which they control the lives and minds of those around them? To me, religion is more about tyranny than it is all other factors combined.

Offline Remiel

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #102 on: November 30, 2017, 10:20:00 AM »
I have never heard of a church-run soup kitchen or homeless shelter turning away people due to religious faith--or lack thereof.  If you have evidence to the contrary, please cite it.  Yes, these groups have a very particular philosophy, and do try to impress that philosophy on those they profess to help--but I have never heard of one turning people away if, e.g., they aren't Christian.

I guess the closest thing I can think of is Alcoholics Anonymous.  It was a common complaint in some of my support groups that AA's famous twelve-step program is rooted in a belief in God, which is part and parcel of their philosophy, but the fact remains that AA exists to help recovering alcoholics get and stay sober.  In this agnostic's opinion, a small bit of proselytizing is a small price to pay for the time, investment and resources invested in helping recovering alcoholics.

Online Regina Minx

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #103 on: November 30, 2017, 11:12:55 AM »
I have never heard of a church-run soup kitchen or homeless shelter turning away people due to religious faith--or lack thereof.  If you have evidence to the contrary, please cite it.  Yes, these groups have a very particular philosophy, and do try to impress that philosophy on those they profess to help--but I have never heard of one turning people away if, e.g., they aren't Christian.

I guess the closest thing I can think of is Alcoholics Anonymous.  It was a common complaint in some of my support groups that AA's famous twelve-step program is rooted in a belief in God, which is part and parcel of their philosophy, but the fact remains that AA exists to help recovering alcoholics get and stay sober.  In this agnostic's opinion, a small bit of proselytizing is a small price to pay for the time, investment and resources invested in helping recovering alcoholics.

Remiel: I've never heard of any religious charity refusing people because of their religious beliefs.
Catholic Church: HOLD MY BEER!

I know it's not a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. But.

Offline Fury AphrodisiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #104 on: November 30, 2017, 11:17:24 AM »
If they are a private shelter, receiving no government funding and not a necessary part of the public good, then yes. Proselytizing is within your perogative. If, however, you're going to turn down people that need help, and you're receiving federal funding? That's another thing altogether.

https://thinkprogress.org/salvation-army-refuses-housing-shelter-to-transgender-woman-2660c79b4cd4/
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/carey-fuller/homeless-shelter-parents_b_1035952.html
https://spu.edu/events/tent-city/documents/Bass_FaithbasedResponsestoHomlessness.pdf
https://www.jstor.org/stable/40969097?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/zinnia-jones/the-salvation-armys-histo_b_4422938.html
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2016/12/salvation-army-anti-gay-christian-church-not-worthy-support/
https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/The_Salvation_Army
https://mic.com/articles/104530/this-homeless-shelter-s-disturbing-policy-shows-the-problem-with-faith-based-charities#.HHeMguEuZ
http://blogs.law.columbia.edu/publicrightsprivateconscience/2016/10/03/federally-funded-homeless-shelters-cannot-use-religion-as-a-reason-to-deny-equal-access-to-transgender-people/

Aside from these, there is anecdotal evidence in an insane deluge. If you think incidents of homeless rape, murder and theft are underreported...

St. Vincent's Kitchen in downtown Oshawa, Ontario has a known history of rebuking and turning away those who have proven to have a history of "Homosexual behaviour", lack of faith-based adherence. Three Muslim shelters in Toronto - Men's, women's and familys' - will offer reduced services to those who are not Muslim. It's a way of getting around federal mandate outlawing the complete denial of services for any federally-funded institution. The YWCA shelter here in town will include faith indications in their entry paperwork. It is common knowledge in the community that needs to use shelters that going to anything with a Catholic base is automatically pointless. Not a single person who has ever applied and professed a disbelief in religious standard has been admitted.

Of course, they won't ever SAY that's the reason, but the blanket statements of things like "We don't feel they would suit our atmosphere needs" is just a cop out.

And to be clear, there  are plenty of ways that these shelters can discriminate without flat-out turning applicants away. Providing extra food and provisions strictly during religious services to attendees, having requirements for stays that include attendance of religious ceremonies and services, having applicants sign pledges that will effectively guilt them into indebting themselves to a church in order to receive shelter services are all ways that undue pressure and discrimination can be applied. Essentially saying "You don't have to BE Christian, but you have to ACT Christian to get any of these federally-funded meals" is discriminatory in and of themselves.

And if you happen to be a same-sex couple, good luck getting a religious shelter to allow both of you to stay in the same shelter at the same time. In fact, myself having been in a women's shelter with my at-the-time girlfriend was told that either she or I would have to settle for the streets, since they could not "in good Christian conscience" allow me to sleep in the same room as she (and presumably though not stated, other good Christian women) was sleeping.

Essentially, there are a myriad of ways and a myriad of stories in which religious discrimination can be present in order to obtain shelter in federally-funded, private religious institutions. This is particularly egregious in places where there is no secular equivalent. I resent that a place that denied me shelter was paid for with the tax dollars that -I- am required by law to provide the government. If they are left to be the only option, they cannot be allowed to demand that participants in their programs undergo any sort of ritualistic faith expression in order to benefit from support.

But, I guess not paying taxes would allow me to take part in the only truly secular shelter institution consistent throughout the nation. Prison. :/

Offline Fury AphrodisiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #105 on: November 30, 2017, 11:23:23 AM »
Basically, claiming that religion is the primary supplier of charitable works has to be able to stand up to scrutiny. Since what they do cannot even stand up to the scrutiny of the word "Charity", this immediately becomes suspect. If it cannot defend itself from the concept of coersion, if it only or largely benefits those who are members of their own faith community, if the charity is demanded and coerced from followers on the basis of manipulating their concept of eternal soul, what you have is a tyrannical societal structure demanding their own people pay them, then turning some of those funds towards helping "Good _________ (Christian/Muslim/Spaghetti Monster) people only/first!" with the intent to later turn around and point to those works as allowing them to corner the market on charity, meanwhile claiming that it is because of religion when a control sample cannot, by nature, be found on the planet is a weakly-founded argument at best. There is absolutely no evidence to maintain that religion is the reason for it, or that these so-called charities are actually altruistic in core nature.

Offline Remiel

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #106 on: November 30, 2017, 12:29:16 PM »
@Fury Aphrodisia:

Well, I stand corrected, I guess...

However, I feel obligated to point out a small but critical nuance:

Quote from: Scott Bixby
According to the charity's website, City Union Mission serves "single women, married couples, single parents and relatives caring for children younger than 18." Since same-sex marriage is currently legal in Jackson County, that would appear to extend to gay couples. However, since the charity doesn't receive government funding, it's not legally obligated to comply with anti-discrimination statutes (not that gays are legally protected from discrimination in either Missouri or Kansas).

Emphasis mine.  That, I feel, is very important.  If the charity receives government funding of any kind, including tax-exempt status, then yes, absolutely, it should not discriminate.  However, if it is funded "completely on support from individuals, businesses, foundations, organizations and churches", as its mission statement claims, I have a harder time attacking it for discriminatory policies.

Let's run a thought experiment.  Let's say that I decided to hand out cups of soup to the homeless people on my street.  No one was obligating me to do so, and I did it entirely of my own expense and of my own free will.  But let's say that I was only handing out cups of soup to white people.

Should I not be allowed to hand out cups of soup?  What about the people who benefited from my charity?  If you force me to desist, are you not depriving those people?

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #107 on: November 30, 2017, 01:30:30 PM »
As someone religious those statistics stun me. Help should be offered to all regardless. The only reason anyone should be turned away at a shelter is if they begin threatening other people there. Anything else is counterintuitive to what those places should do.

I hate seeing people use my faith as a reason to treat others like garbage. Its not right. It turns an offer of mercy and love into a mockery of those values.

Offline Fury AphrodisiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #108 on: December 01, 2017, 12:48:32 AM »
@Fury Aphrodisia:

Well, I stand corrected, I guess...

However, I feel obligated to point out a small but critical nuance:

Emphasis mine.  That, I feel, is very important.  If the charity receives government funding of any kind, including tax-exempt status, then yes, absolutely, it should not discriminate.  However, if it is funded "completely on support from individuals, businesses, foundations, organizations and churches", as its mission statement claims, I have a harder time attacking it for discriminatory policies.

Let's run a thought experiment.  Let's say that I decided to hand out cups of soup to the homeless people on my street.  No one was obligating me to do so, and I did it entirely of my own expense and of my own free will.  But let's say that I was only handing out cups of soup to white people.

Should I not be allowed to hand out cups of soup?  What about the people who benefited from my charity?  If you force me to desist, are you not depriving those people?


I think I'm getting a bit semantic here, so I'm hoping I can make myself concise for the purposes of the discussion. To that end...

1. I was not intending to insinuate that any of the shelters in particular in that mess of information was federally funded. However, I was trying to respond to the charge that you had not heard of shelters turning people away or rejecting services based on religious ideals. It was to the request of citation that I was responding and I'm sorry if that got convoluted with my last point. I was merely trying to establish that it happens, from which point conversation on the finer details could proceed.

2. You're absolutely in the right with your example. If you were to choose not to receive any sort of government funding and choose who you help based on your own criteria, then yes, you are perfectly within your rights to deny services to whomever you wish, of course. However, my problem comes in the following heavily-paraphrased fictitious conversation meant to illustrate the point.

Government: "OH! I see you have a system here for feeding people and giving them coats. Nicely done! Looks like you don't need my help."
Church: "Nope, we've got it covered!"
Government: "Okay, see you at tax time when you'll get another tax break to keep doing your work!"
Community: "But... we have people of colour here starving and freezing. We need help!"
Government: "Right, well.... you already have someone there taking care of that."
Community: "Okay, but only some people, they're denying the rest of us."
Government: "Alright, well, when we come back around later, you're perfectly free to use our resources to file a complaint about their resources we can't touch and use the legal system that cannot touch them to try to get them to do what you want them to do."
Community: "How do I do that?"
Government: "Ask the church."
Community: ....................

See, aside from the argument about whether tax cuts can be considered funding (That's highly subjective and will get us nowhere), the only method by which the citizenship here can pursue more resources is to prove that we're under-served. If the shelter is being sneaky or underhanded in any fashion in reporting their criterion, the government will not allow multiple repeals and will not entertain direct conversation about the subject, presumably due to some efficiency protocol? Hard to tell, since we don't get any information on the subject, merely informed when the appeal is resolved.

We do have the ability to go through a lengthly process to force a full investigation. All it requires is that a significant number of homeless and other shelter-service recipients in various stages of the transient community find the money, time and energy, not to mention money and other resources, to pursue legal representation that will file a class-action lawsuit against the government based on the lack of services. They are then responsible for proving that individuals running the shelter hold to some undisclosed criterion for bestowing or withholding service for people in need. Once that has been established, you are at the mercy of fate in regards to the fact that they may not be federally funded and may simply benefit from the typical religious institution tax benefits. IF you can prove they have a discriminatory bias based on religious belief and religious requirements, if you can prove they're federally funded, you can force them to change policy. If you cannot prove the latter but can for the former, you can force the government to begin the process of project bidding for management of a shelter or (as is more likely) a community center that can double as a shelter, provided a community center similar to the proposal isn't in place already nearby.

If you cannot prove either, the class action is dismissed and you have to start all over again.

Now, I don't know about anyone else, but when I was in the system, speaking up in any fashion against the leadership of a shelter could have you dismissed from that shelter with no notice whatsoever and anything that you failed to bring with you on the way out was forfeit. That sort of fear can wreak havoc in a city that drops below 0 degrees Celsius habitually for eight months of the year. Most people wouldn't be willing to put their health and safety on the line for the chance to film, record or otherwise procure a confession of that sort, leaving it up to those who are employed there or don't have anything to loose. The only people with the access to accomplish that means you're looking at an employee and I know at least one of the links I provided there (If it can't be found, I've got one here) shows that the group is fully capable of hiring in only those who are already present in their community, thereby severely undermining any inclination an employee might have to turn on the shelter or parent organization at large. Essentially, it means that if an employee did blow the whistle, they're giving up not only their job, but standing in their religious community as well.

So, we're talking overall about a process that can take decades to even find out if you're successful or not. And that's if you can even get it off the ground. In the meantime, that shelter is being allowed to function in the capacity of providing help for the homeless as the only real option in the area, providing a religious chokehold on the local populace.

Once again, I reiterate my point that this is not necessarily altruism and seems more like feigned philanthropy for the purposes of influencing greater control later on down the line. In essence, it would call into question the legitimacy of claiming that religions are responsible for providing those services as it's not necessarily for the good of the community and they aren't the only ones who show systematic altruism. A more globally defined altruism can often be found in secular institutions.

Offline Remiel

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #109 on: December 01, 2017, 07:06:45 AM »
Fair enough.  :-)

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #110 on: December 01, 2017, 07:11:21 AM »
As to the initial loint of your post, though, I agree. There's a bit of a philosophical paradox in self-recognizing as a moral leader. Somewhat like self-recognizing as the best for leadership.