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Author Topic: Agnosticism on the rise in the US  (Read 7314 times)

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Offline Jzorkie

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #50 on: March 13, 2009, 02:16:17 AM »
One thing that irks me is how the word Atheism is presented as a label. There are some connotations tied to it when you tell someone "I am an Atheist". I'd really like to get the viewpoint changed from "This guy is a heathen!" to "I am normal."

Smart Catholics I know do not take the bible seriously, they know it is a story. But my personal opinion thinks a man named Jesus Christ indeed walked the earth, and was really influential, but some guys decided to write a book about him and glorify it.

Bleh, random bantering from me. :-\

Offline Oniya

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #51 on: March 13, 2009, 07:27:21 AM »
Smart Catholics I know do not take the bible seriously, they know it is a story. But my personal opinion thinks a man named Jesus Christ indeed walked the earth, and was really influential, but some guys decided to write a book about him and glorify it.

Or as my husband once told the religion-pushers (the ones that come around door to door to tell you you're going to hell), 'Oy, Jesus was a great rabbi!' (aka 'teacher'.)

Offline Zakharra

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #52 on: March 13, 2009, 08:36:27 AM »
Or as my husband once told the religion-pushers (the ones that come around door to door to tell you you're going to hell), 'Oy, Jesus was a great rabbi!' (aka 'teacher'.)

 Hai, I'll have to try that. Jesus  -was- a good jew after all.  ;)

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #53 on: March 13, 2009, 01:46:16 PM »

 Science by itself has no ethics. None at all. It's the scientists that might or might not have thics. The people who study and research in it that have the ethics. Which makes them, in the end, just people. As ordinary in their own way as anyone. Religious or not.

So you're implying without a religious base that humans don't have ethics and don't know right from wrong?

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #54 on: March 13, 2009, 01:49:30 PM »
I wouldn't take that interpretation from what is written there, but I have heard variations of that from some of the more religious posters on another of my forums.

Actually the scary ones are the ones that claim without religion there would be nothing to prevent people from going out raping and murdering at will.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #55 on: March 13, 2009, 01:54:31 PM »
One thing that irks me is how the word Atheism is presented as a label. There are some connotations tied to it when you tell someone "I am an Atheist". I'd really like to get the viewpoint changed from "This guy is a heathen!" to "I am normal."

Smart Catholics I know do not take the bible seriously, they know it is a story. But my personal opinion thinks a man named Jesus Christ indeed walked the earth, and was really influential, but some guys decided to write a book about him and glorify it.

Bleh, random bantering from me. :-\


I think that's the critical thing about Christ that's going to continue to be argued. It appears we have an actual historical figure, and an influential one at that, yes. What he actually was; mortal man or something else entirely else, is the center of debate.

Interesting to note that one religion did seem to deify him, while many other recognize him to varying status.

~Ripped from Wiki.



Quote
Islam holds Jesus to be a prophet, or messenger of God, along with Muhammad, Moses, Abraham, Noah, and others. In particular, Jesus (Arabic: عيسى‎ `Īsā) is described as the Messiah, sent to guide the Children of Israel (banī isrā'īl) with a new scripture, the Injīl (gospel).[195] According to the Qur'an, believed by Muslims to be God's final revelation, Jesus was born to Mary (Arabic: Maryam) as the result of virginal conception, a miraculous event which occurred by the decree of God (Arabic: Allah). To aid him in his quest, Jesus was given the ability to perform miracles. These included speaking from the cradle, curing the blind and the lepers, as well as raising the dead; all by the permission of God. Furthermore, Jesus was helped by a band of disciples (the ḥawāriyūn). Islam rejects historians assertions that Jesus was crucified by the Romans, instead claiming that he had been raised alive up to heaven. Islamic traditions narrate that he will return to earth near the day of judgement to restore justice and defeat al-Masīḥ ad-Dajjāl (lit. "the false messiah", also known as the Antichrist) and the enemies of Islam. As a just ruler, Jesus will then die.[196]

Like all prophets in Islam, Jesus is considered to have been a Muslim, as he preached for people to adopt the straight path in submission to God's will. Islam denies that Jesus was God or the son of God, stating that he was an ordinary man who, like other prophets, had been divinely chosen to spread God's message. Islamic texts forbid the association of partners with God (shirk), emphasizing the notion of God's divine oneness (tawhīd). As such, Jesus is referred to in the Qur'an frequently as the "son of Mary" ("Ibn Maryam").[196][197] Numerous titles are given to Jesus in the Qur'an, such as mubārak (blessed) and `abd-Allāh (servant of God). Another title is al-Masīḥ ("the messiah; the anointed one" i.e. by means of blessings), although it does not correspond with the meaning accrued in Christian belief. Jesus is seen in Islam as a precursor to Muhammad, and is believed by Muslims to have foretold the latter's coming.[196]

Ahmadiyya views
Main article: Jesus in Ahmadiyya Islam

According to the early 20th century teachings of the Ahmadi Muslims, Jesus did not die on the cross, but after his apparent death and resurrection (or resuscitation from his tomb) he journeyed east to Kashmir to further teach the gospel until his natural death[198] (The general notion of Jesus in Kashmir is older than the Ahmadi tradition,[199] and is discussed at length by Grönbold[200] and Klatt[201]).

Following Jesus' death of natural causes (so the Ahmadi tradition) "at a ripe old age of roughly 120 years",[202] Jesus according to Ahmadi doctrine was then laid to rest in Srinagar, and that the tomb of a sage known locally as Yuz Asaf (which in Kashmiri means "Leader of the Healed"[203]) is really the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth.[204]

Further, according to this movement, the second coming predicted in the Muslim tradition is not actually that of Jesus, but that of a person "similar to Jesus" (mathīl-i ʿIsā), i.e. the founder of the movement himself and his teachings were representative of Jesus.[199]

According to the Encyclopedia of Islam, Ahmadi Christological beliefs are one of the three primary characteristics that distinguish Ahmadi teachings from general Islamic ones, and that it had provoked a fatwa against the founder of the sect, "purporting that this doctrine disagreed with the Koran and therefore had to be looked upon as a heresy".[205]

Judaism's view
Main article: Judaism's view of Jesus

Judaism holds the idea of Jesus being God, or a person of a Trinity, or a mediator to God, to be heresy.[206] Judaism also holds that Jesus is not the Messiah, arguing that he had not fulfilled the Messianic prophecies in the Tanakh nor embodied the personal qualifications of the Messiah. According to Jewish tradition, there were no more prophets after Malachi, who lived centuries before Jesus and delivered his prophesies about 420 BC/BCE. Judaism states that Jesus did not fulfill the requirements set by the Torah to prove that he was a prophet. Even if Jesus had produced such a sign that Judaism recognized, Judaism states that no prophet or dreamer can contradict the laws already stated in the Torah, which Jesus did.[207]

The Mishneh Torah (an authoritative work of Jewish law) states in Hilkhot Melakhim 11:10–12 that Jesus is a "stumbling block" who makes "the majority of the world err to serve a divinity besides God".[208] According to Conservative Judaism, Jews who believe Jesus is the Messiah have "crossed the line out of the Jewish community".[209] Reform Judaism, the modern progressive movement, states "For us in the Jewish community anyone who claims that Jesus is their savior is no longer a Jew and is an apostate."[210]

Bahá'í views

The Bahá'í Faith, founded in 19th-century Persia, considers Jesus, along with Muhammad, the Buddha, Krishna, and Zoroaster, and other messengers of the great religions of the world to be Manifestations of God (or prophets), with both human and divine stations.[211]

Hindu views

The Hindu beliefs about Jesus vary. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) considers Jesus to be a shaktyavesha Avatar, the beloved son of Krishna who came down to Earth to preach God consciousness. Contemporary Sant Mat movements regard Jesus as a Satguru. Ramakrishna believed that Jesus was an Incarnation of God.[212] Swami Vivekananda has praised Jesus and cited him as a source of strength and the epitome of perfection.[213] Paramahansa Yogananda taught that Jesus was the reincarnation of Elisha and a student of John the Baptist, the reincarnation of Elijah.[214]

Buddhist views
Further information: Buddhism and Christianity

Buddhists' views of Jesus differ. Some Buddhists, including Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama[215] regard Jesus as a bodhisattva who dedicated his life to the welfare of human beings. The 14th century Zen master Gasan Jōseki indicated that the Gospels were written by an enlightened being.[216]

Other views

Mandaeanism, a very small Mideastern, Gnostic sect that reveres John the Baptist as God's greatest prophet, regards Jesus as a false prophet of the false Jewish god of the Old Testament, Adonai,[217] and likewise rejects Abraham, Moses, and Muhammad. Manichaeism accepted Jesus as a prophet, along with Gautama Buddha and Zoroaster.[218]

The New Age movement entertains a wide variety of views on Jesus. The creators of A Course In Miracles claim to trance-channel his spirit. However, the New Age movement generally teaches that Christhood is something that all may attain. Theosophists, from whom many New Age teachings originated (a Theosophist named Alice A. Bailey invented the term New Age), refer to Jesus of Nazareth as the Master Jesus and believe he had previous incarnations.

Many writers emphasize Jesus' moral teachings. Garry Wills argues that Jesus' ethics are distinct from those usually taught by Christianity.[219] The Jesus Seminar portrays Jesus as an itinerant preacher who taught peace and love, rights for women and respect for children, and who spoke out against the hypocrisy of religious leaders and the rich.[220] Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and a deist, created the Jefferson Bible entitled "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth" that included only Jesus' ethical teachings because he did not believe in Jesus' divinity or any of the other supernatural aspects of the Bible.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #56 on: March 13, 2009, 02:04:05 PM »
I wouldn't take that interpretation from what is written there, but I have heard variations of that from some of the more religious posters on another of my forums.

Actually the scary ones are the ones that claim without religion there would be nothing to prevent people from going out raping and murdering at will.

The second sentence in particular: I see that as a very transparent ploy to imply that man needs religion to be functional.

I'd say the reverse is much closer to the mark; religion needs believers to be functional. What most of them are comfortable with is the level of control they exert...their best kept secret is that you don't need their particular brand of control or ethics to be functional person.



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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #57 on: March 13, 2009, 02:13:13 PM »
The mindset of that particular group (thankfully there's only 2 or 3 of them post with any kind of regularity) is that all morality must come from their God. Without that, there would be no morality, and we'd all be out raping and murdering.

They also believe that their God is perfect, and good and anything he does is therefore good, even if we can't understand it .. things like obliterating individuals, peoples, cities, the entire human race .. all good, because their God is by definition good and hence cannot do bad.

Their logic makes my head hurt.

Offline Nessy

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #58 on: March 13, 2009, 02:25:49 PM »
Science doesn't explain the conscience very well. Scientist think they are getting somewhere with serial killers but they can't really tell why someone will stop and help someone in need and someone else doesn't. Even in the Christian faith, there is explained that humanity is given a choice so again, that doesn't explain why one person does "good" and while another might do "bad" even if you factor in the influence of a devil.

None of the religions or science, whether you consider a science a religion or not, garauntees it's followers will only do good or is even the source of all good.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #59 on: March 13, 2009, 03:25:29 PM »
So you're implying without a religious base that humans don't have ethics and don't know right from wrong?

 At first, yes. Religion explained the world to primitive man in ways that made sense and laid out an ethic that allowed them to work together in groups that allowed the rise of civilization. Religion has evolved down through the ages as nations/people evolved.

 I highly doubt that ethics would have formed without religion to set down a basis for what happens to people if they do wrong. It's only recently that government has taken a step back from religion.

 People need to believe in something. Whether it is a religion, themselves, a personal code of honor or belief, most all tend to have something to follow.

 Science, by itself has NO ethics at all. It's the scientists and those that use it that bring in any ethics. A scientist can be as blind and bullheaded as the most fanatical religious nut in, persuing their pet theories. This can be less so in the physical sciences like chemistry, physics and the like. Sciences we can feel and touch. It almost can be like a religion in  belief when the sciences are more intangible, like social and psychological.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #60 on: March 13, 2009, 03:56:55 PM »

This is sort of taking my thread off track but I have to say these people leave me somewhere between confuzzled and outright laughter.


The mindset of that particular group (thankfully there's only 2 or 3 of them post with any kind of regularity) is that all morality must come from their God. Without that, there would be no morality, and we'd all be out raping and murdering.


I don't believe that for a second, and I doubt anyone else on these boards does. I know that running raping and pillaging indiscriminately is wrong and I don't need a higher power breathing down my next to tell me that.

Translation: Those people you're quoting would not have a focus or moral compass in their lives if it weren't for their little enclave.


They also believe that their God is perfect, and good and anything he does is therefore good, even if we can't understand it .. things like obliterating individuals, peoples, cities, the entire human race .. all good, because their God is by definition good and hence cannot do bad.


That's more extreme a view than I'm used to hearing, but I think it's the sharp edge of that general view of 'god's will'. When the universe does things that throws us into chaos and that we don't understand, some of us like to assign it to the designs of a higher power. If god directly invoked a storm that knocked down half our town, we'll feel a little better about it, since the divine deigned to get directly involved with we mere more mortals.

Gee thanks God! I just got the roof redone right before you ripped it off, but thy will be done...thanks for letting us know you care!!  ;D
Without going out and making another ‘blanket statement’ by saying that I believe religionists are weak-minded (but to be fair, I've met a few that fit the bill), I believe a lot of the faithful have a 'softer' psyche that needs to find a nice tidy, orderly way to perceive things to keep hold of their sanity.


So when the cosmos throws us a fastball and a little chin music, we like the dots to connect. Darn thing is, time itself is driven by entropy. It's a fundamental characteristic of the universe...eventually, things get changed or outright fucked up. This is a domain where I think the agnostics and atheists take a more pragmatic approach on things.



Their logic makes my head hurt.

I think that throbbing you're experiencing is occurring at the quantum level in your brain- When logic and antilogic meet, they explode violently.  ::)



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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #61 on: March 13, 2009, 06:18:51 PM »
I don't believe that for a second, and I doubt anyone else on these boards does. I know that running raping and pillaging indiscriminately is wrong and I don't need a higher power breathing down my next to tell me that.

Agreed. I've tried pointing out that plenty of other cultures managed to come up with the idea of 'murder is bad, mmkay?' without any influence from their god.

The response to that is generally along the lines of 'they were still responding to Gods will, they just didn't know it'. That's the point you kinda throw up your hands, because rational arguement is never going to get through that.

Translation: Those people you're quoting would not have a focus or moral compass in their lives if it weren't for their little enclave.

I have thought it, I'm just too polite to say it :)

That's more extreme a view than I'm used to hearing, but I think it's the sharp edge of that general view of 'god's will'. When the universe does things that throws us into chaos and that we don't understand, some of us like to assign it to the designs of a higher power. If god directly invoked a storm that knocked down half our town, we'll feel a little better about it, since the divine deigned to get directly involved with we mere more mortals.

These people try to argue that morality is an absolute. Something is either right or wrong. I kill someone, it's wrong. Their God kills someone, it's ok. Their God orders the obliteration of an entire people, oh, well, they obviously had it coming because they were evil. Don't question God's will.

Sorry, that one don't fly for me.

Without going out and making another ‘blanket statement’ by saying that I believe religionists are weak-minded (but to be fair, I've met a few that fit the bill), I believe a lot of the faithful have a 'softer' psyche that needs to find a nice tidy, orderly way to perceive things to keep hold of their sanity.

Some do, some don't.

I think that throbbing you're experiencing is occurring at the quantum level in your brain- When logic and antilogic meet, they explode violently.  ::)

Count yourself lucky you haven't seen the .. dear Gods .. 15,000 post thread on creationism. There are a pair on there, the main one whose arguement style consists of badly understood science, ouright lies from creationist sites, line after line of smileys, and declaring himself the winner of every arguement, even when what he's said has been disproven countless times. Give it a few pages and he'll dredge the same arguements up again, possibly reworded.

I stick my head in every so often to see if it has changed any. It hasn't.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #62 on: March 13, 2009, 06:52:56 PM »
At first, yes. Religion explained the world to primitive man in ways that made sense and laid out an ethic that allowed them to work together in groups that allowed the rise of civilization. Religion has evolved down through the ages as nations/people evolved.

 I highly doubt that ethics would have formed without religion to set down a basis for what happens to people if they do wrong. It's only recently that government has taken a step back from religion.

 

Possibly. I’d like to see some positive anthropological evidence to back that however…until then the jury is still out for me. For now anything we say here is subjective.

I could point out that many people seem to have an internal moral compass that’s there regardless of what faith they follow, or even if they follow no faith. Now, was that given by a creator or something specific to us that came up in our DNA structure? This goes along with that argument I love to consider now and then: Are good and evil truly universal concepts or just human concepts?

Fact is, we could argue this for the next hundred years, and in the end have to admit we really don’t know for sure.





 People need to believe in something. Whether it is a religion, themselves, a personal code of honor or belief, most all tend to have something to follow.



I remain unconvinced here. Maybe a personal moral blueprint at the very least, but once you scale up from there it gets dicey. Many people do, but trust me, not all of us.

I don’t believe it’s necessarily about ‘following’. One of the great frailties of the human race is that we have endless legions of willing followers and far too few leaders. I can speak only for myself, but I have no real compulsions to follow anything. This doesn’t automatically make me a leader, in fact, I’m more comfortable in my mantle as a lone wolf.

However, as a mentor once said to me, a leader is anyone who influences others by their thoughts or actions…whether they realize it or not.

 


 Science, by itself has NO ethics at all. It's the scientists and those that use it that bring in any ethics. A scientist can be as blind and bullheaded as the most fanatical religious nut in, persuing their pet theories. This can be less so in the physical sciences like chemistry, physics and the like. Sciences we can feel and touch. It almost can be like a religion in  belief when the sciences are more intangible, like social and psychological.

Now we’re screwing up terminology. You're comparing science to a force; like saying that electricity or nuclear energy isn’t good or evil, it just depends on how it’s used. However, scientists and researchers ARE science…science would not exist without its practitioners. Any many of them are moral people, so I maintain science has morality.

But I can see the confusion here; you’re looking at science as some sort of fundamental force in nature. It’s not; science is a human discipline that’s trying to crack nature wide open to see what makes her tick.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #63 on: March 13, 2009, 08:44:15 PM »
Possibly. I’d like to see some positive anthropological evidence to back that however…until then the jury is still out for me. For now anything we say here is subjective.

I could point out that many people seem to have an internal moral compass that’s there regardless of what faith they follow, or even if they follow no faith. Now, was that given by a creator or something specific to us that came up in our DNA structure? This goes along with that argument I love to consider now and then: Are good and evil truly universal concepts or just human concepts?

Fact is, we could argue this for the next hundred years, and in the end have to admit we really don’t know for sure.


All of the findings of neolithic and early civilized man show signs of the gods the people back them worshipped. From the EarthMother to the early deities of the Summerian, Egyption and Chinese cultures, as well as every other one clear up to modern times. I'm not aware of -any- culture that achieved civilized (or barbarian) status without some belief in higher powers.

 The last is definately true. We simply do not know for sure.


I remain unconvinced here. Maybe a personal moral blueprint at the very least, but once you scale up from there it gets dicey. Many people do, but trust me, not all of us.

I don’t believe it’s necessarily about ‘following’. One of the great frailties of the human race is that we have endless legions of willing followers and far too few leaders. I can speak only for myself, but I have no real compulsions to follow anything. This doesn’t automatically make me a leader, in fact, I’m more comfortable in my mantle as a lone wolf.

However, as a mentor once said to me, a leader is anyone who influences others by their thoughts or actions…whether they realize it or not.

 You are confusing belief  to an organized faith of some sort. I'm meaning a person, themself, all people believe in something. Not always a religion,  or the same as others, but we seem to have a need to believe something. Whether in a god, a personal code of ethics/honor or a simple belief in what's around them.


 
Now we’re screwing up terminology. You're comparing science to a force; like saying that electricity or nuclear energy isn’t good or evil, it just depends on how it’s used. However, scientists and researchers ARE science…science would not exist without its practitioners. Any many of them are moral people, so I maintain science has morality.

But I can see the confusion here; you’re looking at science as some sort of fundamental force in nature. It’s not; science is a human discipline that’s trying to crack nature wide open to see what makes her tick.

 Hhhmmm...  A human discipline eh? That could explain the good and bad scientists. Like the Angel of Death. He was an amoral man by our standards, yet his methods led to some medical advancements because of his brutality. As long as scientists do not subscribe to the methood of their way is 100% right and the ends justify the means.

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #64 on: March 13, 2009, 09:00:05 PM »
Hhhmmm...  A human discipline eh? That could explain the good and bad scientists. Like the Angel of Death. He was an amoral man by our standards, yet his methods led to some medical advancements because of his brutality. As long as scientists do not subscribe to the methood of their way is 100% right and the ends justify the means.

Discipline in the sense of an academic field of study, not as in 'maintaining discipline'.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #65 on: March 13, 2009, 10:12:07 PM »
I keep seeing this exception to the rule statement.  Granted I did not go in depth to the commentary, but that seems to be a continuing defense here.  An exception to the rule means that a substantial portion of a population exhibit something.  In most statistics this tends toward a 5% margin as 95% is the standard, acceptable confidence level for a statement.  So is it to be said that only 5% of people who follow an organized religion are thinking for themselves and acting on their own beliefs.  Only 5% of people are doing something aside from what their religious leaders tell them to do.  I dare say the statistics on abortion, birth control, crime, etc can be used to counter that statement.

Also you may wish to look at the amount of scientists, doctors, political figures and so on that count themselves among a particular religion.  Many of these people make contributions to both science and society that are not in agreement with “standard” religious practices.  I would think they make up more than 5% of their population.  There are priests, pastors and other religious figures that are also doctors and scientists as well.  These pillars of their organized religion likewise subscribe to science and understand what certain trains of thought imply.  So honestly this exception seems to be the rule or at least such a large portion of the population that the hypothesis is proven false.

What exactly is wrong with believing in an organized group?  What is wrong with people of similar beliefs getting together in order to pray and worship as they believe is right?  So long as they don’t hurt anyone else, what is the problem?  Does this give some sort of ego trip to stand on the side and say you’re an independent cause you’re not with them?  Congratulations, I applaud you for doing as you see is right but let other people do as they see is right without your ridicule.

Offline Mycroft

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #66 on: March 13, 2009, 11:50:50 PM »
I keep seeing this exception to the rule statement.  Granted I did not go in depth to the commentary, but that seems to be a continuing defense here.  An exception to the rule means that a substantial portion of a population exhibit something.  In most statistics this tends toward a 5% margin as 95% is the standard, acceptable confidence level for a statement.  So is it to be said that only 5% of people who follow an organized religion are thinking for themselves and acting on their own beliefs.  Only 5% of people are doing something aside from what their religious leaders tell them to do.  I dare say the statistics on abortion, birth control, crime, etc can be used to counter that statement.

Also you may wish to look at the amount of scientists, doctors, political figures and so on that count themselves among a particular religion.  Many of these people make contributions to both science and society that are not in agreement with “standard” religious practices.  I would think they make up more than 5% of their population.  There are priests, pastors and other religious figures that are also doctors and scientists as well.  These pillars of their organized religion likewise subscribe to science and understand what certain trains of thought imply.  So honestly this exception seems to be the rule or at least such a large portion of the population that the hypothesis is proven false.

What exactly is wrong with believing in an organized group?  What is wrong with people of similar beliefs getting together in order to pray and worship as they believe is right?  So long as they don’t hurt anyone else, what is the problem?  Does this give some sort of ego trip to stand on the side and say you’re an independent cause you’re not with them?  Congratulations, I applaud you for doing as you see is right but let other people do as they see is right without your ridicule.

Oh I wouldn't applaud just yet.

First, it's never a good idea to admit you didn't go into depth reading the commentary in a debate. Frankly it's not a good idea to not read it in the first place, but admitting it is, while honest... not advisable.

Now rather than turn this into a novel, let me focus on the big issue. What exactly is wrong with religion so long as they don't hurt anyone else? The answer is nothing!

Unfortunately, that's never the case.

People have different ways of looking at things, you see. So while I'm perfectly content to allow for the possibility of any and all gods exist, I'm LESS than keen to let their adherents to do as they would. It's inevitable that my agenda will find itself contrary to their agenda. And eventually, both sides bring out the lawyers.

I think even OL and I can agree on this point, that we do NOT want to be governed by legislation that is based upon the religious beliefs of others. I'm fine with people doing what they feel is right, but frankly, I'm not fine with people, motivated by their God's words handed down from scripture, who wish to dictate what I personally should feel and do.

Stem cell research, homosexual marriage, abortion, death penalty, divorce, red meat seven days a week, magical underwear, praying to mecca, we all have our views on these matters, and no one is readily willing to concede. So... yes, I'm entirely willing to let people do as they see is right, provided it doesn't stand in the way of doing what I feel is right and proper.

Offline Zeitgeist

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #67 on: March 13, 2009, 11:59:42 PM »
Good God kill this thread, someone.

Hope you all appreciate the irony in my choice of capitalization.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #68 on: March 14, 2009, 01:05:31 AM »

All of the findings of neolithic and early civilized man show signs of the gods the people back them worshipped. From the EarthMother to the early deities of the Summerian, Egyption and Chinese cultures, as well as every other one clear up to modern times. I'm not aware of -any- culture that achieved civilized (or barbarian) status without some belief in higher powers.

 

I'm not aware of any civilization that didn't make it because of lack of religion; just because all major civilizations that emerged had religions doesn't automatically mean religion was a factor to their survival. A factor to their social order most certainly; if religion is has gotten anything perfected over the centuries, it's telling people what they think they should be doing and finding ways to get them fall in line like good little sheep. From pomp and pageantry to outright gunboat diplomacy.

Perhaps religion did play a factor in keeping at least some long-term civilizations afloat, then at least that's one good thing it's done over history.




 You are confusing belief  to an organized faith of some sort. I'm meaning a person, themself, all people believe in something. Not always a religion,  or the same as others, but we seem to have a need to believe something. Whether in a god, a personal code of ethics/honor or a simple belief in what's around them.



And maybe the equation is as simple as belief in one's self, and not necessarily a higher power. Looking at my own personal situation I find more and more reason to believe that the single greatest obstacle I'll ever face is myself. All the showboaters I run across are just pretenders to be kicked aside. Yeah, I think at least belief in one's self may be needed.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #69 on: March 14, 2009, 02:07:32 AM »
Honestly, you just said that you’d prefer to have policies you agree with enacted.  I would agree with you and simply say that most, if not all, people feel that way.  You are just ridiculing those policies because they have a foundation in religious belief.  So you are saying that the way you choose to live your life is right because it comes from whatever you believe, but the way they believe is wrong because it derives from a major religion.  Then when they gain power they use their ethical values to make laws which is wrong.  Yet if you gained power you would create laws…against your values and viewpoints?

Offline MHaji

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #70 on: March 14, 2009, 02:23:19 AM »
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You are just ridiculing those policies because they have a foundation in religious belief.  So you are saying that the way you choose to live your life is right because it comes from whatever you believe, but the way they believe is wrong because it derives from a major religion.

No, the objection is that it's an imposition of a religious belief on a secular legal system. I don't think anybody sane thinks that "the way they believe is wrong because it derives from a major religion." The "atheist who thinks religion is AUTOMATICALLY evil" is a strawman, a creature of fantasy. Even anti-religious critics will usually allow that Bach was pretty cool, and Thou Shalt Not Kill is a good baseline rule.

I disagree with the logic of many religious arguments. I disagree with many moral decisions made in the name of religion. But I do not disagree because these positions are religious.

Case in point: If a religious person says that stem cell research is wrong because human souls are sacred, and a blastula has a soul, I might disagree with both religious reasons, but still think that there's some substance to the position. I favor stem cell research, but I also admit that abuse can happen if people aren't very careful with where the line is drawn between human and inanimate.

Case in point: If a religious person says that murder is wrong because God said so, I might argue the reverse - that Biblical morality is anti-murder because murder ruins societies. But we'd both agree that murder is wrong.

Finally, if a religious person said that a perfectly benevolent God would be merciful, I would absolutely agree. A perfectly benevolent God would be merciful. But we'd disagree on whether such a God actually exists.

Conclusion: Even an atheist like me does not necessarily discard religious beliefs, culture, or ideas as wrong simply because they are religious - and I'm about as firmly atheistic as a person can get. Atheism is not a state of being anti-religious, it's not believing in God's existence. That's all.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #71 on: March 14, 2009, 02:57:59 AM »
There can be no government run by human beings that is not at the whim of human beings.  There is no individual that anyone can put into a position of government that will not seek to impose his/her own views.  Even a secular system will be ruled by the values of those that are put in charge of its construction and operation.  So the objection might as well be against ethics and values being implemented into a secular system.  Those values will be there even if the person is an atheist.  People will then just say atheist values instead of Catholic ones.

I don’t see how someone telling you what is right or wrong is any better based on the source if you disagree with what they are saying.

Also, I have little problem with atheism.  I do believe in God so there is an obvious philosophical disagreement, but I do not categorize atheists together as stupid.  My original post was dedicated toward the lumping of participants in organized religion together and labeling them as incapable of thinking on their own.  I would honestly have the same objection if someone did the same thing to atheists.  Just seems more in style to do that with religion.

Offline MHaji

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #72 on: March 14, 2009, 03:17:15 AM »
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There can be no government run by human beings that is not at the whim of human beings. There is no individual that anyone can put into a position of government that will not seek to impose his/her own views.

That is why a balanced government is not ruled by one individual, but by many people working together, compromising, and using agreed-upon guidelines to ensure that no single group's views are allowed to dominate.

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Even a secular system will be ruled by the values of those that are put in charge of its construction and operation.

Yes and no. If imposing those values on the people who disagree is made costly - for example, by a structure of law that makes it harder to violate the rights of a minority - then only the shared values will be imposed.

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So the objection might as well be against ethics and values being implemented into a secular system.  Those values will be there even if the person is an atheist.  People will then just say atheist values instead of Catholic ones.

But are the base values of atheists that different from those of Catholics? Do atheists even share a common set of base values? I'd say no and no. I know atheists who believe that the Individual Will is more important than anything else, and that pride is a virtue, not a moral failing. And I know atheists who believe the opposite - that humility in pursuit of a common goal is best. Clearly, the divide isn't between the religious and the non-religious, but between individualists and collectivists, between the Left and the Right, and so on.

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I don’t see how someone telling you what is right or wrong is any better based on the source if you disagree with what they are saying.

If someone can give a set of reasons why something is right or wrong, based on shared concepts - that hurting people is generally wrong if there's no justification, for example - then they stand on firmer ground.

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Also, I have little problem with atheism.  I do believe in God so there is an obvious philosophical disagreement, but I do not categorize atheists together as stupid.  My original post was dedicated toward the lumping of participants in organized religion together and labeling them as incapable of thinking on their own.

Fair enough.

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I would honestly have the same objection if someone did the same thing to atheists.  Just seems more in style to do that with religion.

I'm not going to say one group is more oppressed than the other; in general, "people who care about any position" don't fare well in a cynical society. But consider this: 48% of Americans (as of 1999, but the number's held steady for over a decade before that) would never vote for an atheist president... even if they were sure that candidate was "generally well-qualified." And people vote for unqualified candidates all the time!

You can claim that this is simply "cultural," but the common belief, simply put, is that atheists are inherently immoral/emotionally broken/immature/dead inside/outright evil. Religious people also get their share of flack, of course. I have more sympathy for a religious group that's genuinely oppressed/hated - for example, Muslims in America, Catholics in anti-Catholic communities, and so on - than I do for people who claim the social benefits of religion without actually believing in anything.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #73 on: March 14, 2009, 03:42:34 AM »
A government is still ruled by its own people and those people share common ideas.  There will be a popular religion amongst the people and shared ethical values.  Should the government bring those people into its ranks, then it will fill itself with those ideas and beliefs.  So a ruling value system will be implemented into the government, regardless of its origins being religion of cultural.  To separate human beings from their personal code of ethics is impossible, so they will bring that with them to their jobs. 

While I have little data to confirm this, I will go out on the limb and say that atheists do place a lot of faith in science.  Granted there are multiple branches and disciplines in science, but I would wager that many still feel that science holds our best chance for understanding the world.  With that would come a certain set of beliefs and feelings toward scientific research and its benefits.  In truth there is probably only a little more tying Catholics together than atheists. 

Whether something can be made to make sense or made to seem logical does not change disagreement.  If you do not agree with something, its source or base has little bearing on you feeling better about its implementation.  I could make an excellent argument about why sex outside of marriage should be illegal due to STDs, unwanted pregnancy and the social ills that it brings.  I doubt that’d make it any easier to swallow if that was made into a strict law.  You’d simply pick apart my logic rather than my religious belief.

I have little sympathy for anyone that picks at another.  Oppressed or not, that does not make generalizations any better or more useful for the cause.

Offline MHaji

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #74 on: March 14, 2009, 04:14:24 AM »
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A government is still ruled by its own people and those people share common ideas. There will be a popular religion amongst the people and shared ethical values.  Should the government bring those people into its ranks, then it will fill itself with those ideas and beliefs.  So a ruling value system will be implemented into the government, regardless of its origins being religion of cultural.

I'm skeptical. Yes, people share a lot of common ideas, but saying that this implies that a government will act to give all of them legal force is a stretch. Just because people believe something doesn't mean that they'll want the government to establish it. Legal protections exist to prevent even a majority from forcing all aspects of their "ruling value system" on a minority.

"Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all sorts of directions." - Terry Pratchett

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To separate human beings from their personal code of ethics is impossible, so they will bring that with them to their jobs.

Sadly, politics does a great job of separating human beings from their personal code of ethics. By and large, politicians act based on what works, not what suits their ideals. And not turning government into a religious or antireligious arena can work pretty well.

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While I have little data to confirm this, I will go out on the limb and say that atheists do place a lot of faith in science.

Atheists do. So do agnostics. So does anybody who flies on a plane, gets medical treatment, or plays on a computer.

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In truth there is probably only a little more tying Catholics together than atheists.

If so, Catholics are pretty fragmented; have you ever tried to get a roomful of atheists to agree to anything except the nonexistence of God? There are plenty of atheists who hold anti-intellectual or anti-scientific views.

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Whether something can be made to make sense or made to seem logical does not change disagreement.

But understanding the logic of a stance is a crucial first step towards compromise and acceptance.

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I could make an excellent argument about why sex outside of marriage should be illegal due to STDs, unwanted pregnancy and the social ills that it brings.  I doubt that’d make it any easier to swallow if that was made into a strict law.

You could make an excellent argument that sex outside of marriage is a bad thing due to those factors. The excellent argument you could not make is that all bad things should be illegal.

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I have little sympathy for anyone that picks at another.

Picking on other people is wrong. Picking at their arguments, particularly if those arguments promote intolerance or misunderstanding? An excellent thing to do.