Should religion be illegal for children?

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morriswalters
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby morriswalters » Sun Nov 22, 2015 3:36 am UTC

Copper Bezel wrote: The thing that makes salvation meaningful is the idea that every single human being who has ever lived deserves eternal torment without it. That's true in any denomination.
No it isn't. Some believe that eternal damnation is final death without the possibility of resurrection.

I assume you believe that Unitarians have tamed Religion.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Copper Bezel » Sun Nov 22, 2015 4:30 am UTC

Much more so than most, to a degree I find kinda comical.
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby LaserGuy » Sun Nov 22, 2015 4:36 am UTC

Cradarc wrote:I never said there wasn't a single atheist on this planet who had never felt 100% convinced there was a God. I was pointing out the inconsistency between the atheist need for every claim to be justified and their neglect of justification when making claims about the nature of religion. You are atheist because you can't bring yourself to believe in God unless it makes logical sense. If that is the case, how can you be fine with declaring a belief to be objectively evil when you have no logical basis to do so?


Well, I and others have pointed out numerous logical reasons why particular beliefs are evil. Yes, making a claim that a belief is evil for no reason is nonsense, but nobody is doing that.

Cradarc wrote:In God's eyes, the amount of evil doesn't matter though. It's an all or nothing situation.


And, as I noted in the post above, that is a really terrible moral system. I think you could certainly make the claim that it outright is evil, but I'd rather go with my original statement that it's Blue and Orange morality--incomprehensible to be described as morality at all.

Cradarc wrote:What I'm wondering is why atheists who don't believe in absolute standards act the same way. The fundamental faith of atheism lies in logic. Logic does not give rise to morality. So all atheist standards of morality is subjective. If I were an atheist, I would not be able to assert my morality is absolute without identifying my own fallacy.


Some atheists do postulate absolute morality (utilitarians, for example). Of course, it's not like religious morality is absolute either. Even within Christianity, what is moral now compared to a century ago has changed radically, let alone since the time of Jesus.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby mcd001 » Sun Nov 22, 2015 3:16 pm UTC

Ach! So much to say, so little time to say it. Real quick, though, I do need to respond to this:

Tyndmyr wrote:
mcd001 wrote:
If I'm following your logic correctly, I think you're saying that the evil here is the minimizing of the importance of the real world. If so, you don't make a very strong case for why this is evil. In fact, I could just as easily argue that putting too much importance on the real world is evil, and point at green radicals who would rather see people starve than have access to genetically modified grain that could enormously increase production. Is this a gross oversimplification? Yes. And that's my point.

Without doing a point by point rebuttal, let me pull out this one example. This is not merely a gross oversimplification, it is a bad example. Someone who would rather see people starve rather than have access to GMO grain is wrong not because of their level of caring, but because they are factually mistaken. It is not a question of degree, but an issue of belief.

Tyndmyr is correct, this IS a bad example. I was trying to make a point that caring too much for the real world is as bad or worse than caring too little, and I was thinking of tree-hugging, environmentalist Gaia worshipers who are against any and all human development. My example didn't capture that, and fell quite a bit short of the mark.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Copper Bezel » Sun Nov 22, 2015 4:56 pm UTC

I'm not sure that it matters, really. The function of the supernatural in Christianity seems to be to redirect attention away from earthly affairs. I'm not sure whether that's a dial that really does have a "good" middle position and two "bad" extremes, and I don't actually think that this shift is inherent in supernatural systems the way it might seem to be at first blush, either. But this conversation is happening on way too many axes for me to meaningfully follow. The thing that got me into the thread was this idea:

mathmannix wrote:The thing about (most?) religions is that if you really believe your religion, then you know deep in your heart that it is the only true way, and everything else is just made-up lies. (At least this goes for the ones I know anything about.) So, (A) you want to convince other people (adults in particular) that your religion is the truth so that they can believe too (unless you believe there's some sort of competition where only the top 144,000 get in or something like that, or you are just being a dick and you don't want certain people you don't like in your paradise.) And (B), you really, really want your children to believe so they can get in, because you love them, so of course you're going to tell them the Truth, and emphasize it above anything else.

I really do think that this assessment is much truer for some religions than for others, and absolutely truest of Christianity and Islam. I do also think they're religions that cause quite a lot of problems that others don't, but that's honestly not the thing I consider really difficult to observe or prove and not something I'm deeply interested in arguing about to do so. If some religions worship concepts and others worship rocks, those do certainly have fundamentally different effects on how that society works, and the only point I really felt a need to throw into this thread was that calibrating the discussion to those concept religions and putting everything in a Christianity-shaped box is going to lead to some oversights. That's all I really have to contribute here.
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Nov 23, 2015 4:56 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Copper Bezel wrote:I'm not sure how fundamentally that changes what sin "is" in some sense, but there's certainly nuance there.
It fundamentally changes things because there is nuance where you have allowed for none, and it seems to be that lack of nuance is what leads you to your position (that Christianity is fundamentally and uniquely evil).

I think Christianity is incorrect, I think its canon is unsupportable (It could be true, but with probability zero), and I think that it (nonuniquely) leads to some bad stuff (e.g. intolerances of various sorts). However, given that humans are social and emotional creatures rather than logical automatons, religion provides a kind of structure and support to some that, if taken away, would leave those people worse off.

Religious extremism is a Bad Thing, and that needs to be curbed. But be careful painting with big brushes, for that is itself a form of extremism.

Jose


There is some nuance, but the central premise of being born bad remains the same. Or at least, within Catholicism, is addressed by different means. By Limbo for a while, but I guess that got tossed out recently.

And the bible, and some faiths, address it as a "sins of the parents" thing. Christian parents? That baby's goin' to heaven. Atheist parents? Burn in hell.

And then there's predestination, which some embrace, that is an endless barrel of worms.

The different beliefs have different problems(Catholicism rather less than most, simply because they, as a massive organization, have had the history to have run into most of them before) but they all run into some whoppers, even if they aren't exactly the same ones.

Extremism is obviously bad, but I don't think it's necessarily the only bad thing. Harm can accrue from other practices, even if they are not necessarily seen as extreme.

Cradarc wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:
Cradarc wrote:Why do people insist they know what believing in God means because they have read all the books and seen all the traditions that come with belief in God?

Why do you think that they haven't? There are plenty of former Christians out there who have profoundly numinous experiences, who believed that they have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, who can speak in tongues, who believed that they had experienced miracles, who have ticked every box in the Christian checklist (if there were such a thing), and have since become atheists.

If you have a couple of spare hours of time, I'd strongly encourage you to look up the Evid3nc3 deconversion video series on YouTube. It is the video memoir, if you like, of exactly this sort of person.

Sure, there are plenty of checkboxes, but none of those checkboxes defines Christianity. I can argue scientists are equally diverse. Some like experiments, some like theory. Some focus on chemistry, some on physics. Some believe science describes reality, others believe science is a model for reality. None of those checkboxes describe science.


Yes, they do. If you follow the scientific method, you're a scientist. Full stop. There are many other practices and customs floating around regarding science, sure, that's just the nature of human behavior, but there's a very strict "if you DONT do this, you are not a scientist" litmus test.

For most of Christianity, acceptance of Christ is similar. There's a lot more you SHOULD do, maybe, but if you haven't done that, you ain't a Christian.

Trying to say "anyone that left was never really a christian" gets you to a point where you can not identify who, right now, actually is a Christian, because you would need information on the rest of their lives to do so. Then, the only "real Christians" are dead. So, you ain't one either, and can no longer claim special knowledge.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Quercus » Mon Nov 23, 2015 5:14 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:
morriswalters wrote:Religion is what it is. It can't be tamed or controlled.

Talk to a Unitarian sometime.

I haven't caught up with the rest of the thread, but I just thought I'd say that if anyone does actually want to talk to a Unitarian, I am one. *waves*

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Copper Bezel » Mon Nov 23, 2015 5:26 pm UTC

Ha. Hi! I'm doubtless going to want to ask some questions myself, but I'm going to take a bit to formulate, I think.

Tyndmyr wrote:Yes, they do. If you follow the scientific method, you're a scientist. Full stop. There are many other practices and customs floating around regarding science, sure, that's just the nature of human behavior, but there's a very strict "if you DONT do this, you are not a scientist" litmus test.

For most of Christianity, acceptance of Christ is similar. There's a lot more you SHOULD do, maybe, but if you haven't done that, you ain't a Christian.

Trying to say "anyone that left was never really a christian" gets you to a point where you can not identify who, right now, actually is a Christian, because you would need information on the rest of their lives to do so. Then, the only "real Christians" are dead. So, you ain't one either, and can no longer claim special knowledge.


I'd go back to Cradrac's first question, honestly, because these are not equivalent assessments, whether Cradrac thinks so or not - "people who believe in God" and "Christians". "Christian" is comparatively trivial to define. There is an agreed upon orthodoxy that owns the name, and for all its variety and fragmentation, there are a set of things that all groups called "Christian" share. That is what the word means and how it is used. It's no different from any enthusiast club: a minority of fans of a particular work or franchise can't claim that they're the only "true" fans of that thing.

Experiencing believing in (the Christian) God? That's always going to be a subset of those people, and Cradrac is correct that different people are bound to experience that inner condition differently. But to claim that no one who has ever deconverted experienced it at some particular depth - yeah, there are enough people who leave the faith, with diverse enough descriptions of their experience of spirituality through Christianity, that that assessment necessarily means that most Christians do not experience that thing. If that thing, which I'm thinking of right now as an arbitrary threshold of depth in some sense, is really more significant than that and synonymous with genuine religious experience instead, then very few Christians have any at all.
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby morriswalters » Mon Nov 23, 2015 5:46 pm UTC

Quercus wrote:
Copper Bezel wrote:
morriswalters wrote:Religion is what it is. It can't be tamed or controlled.

Talk to a Unitarian sometime.

I haven't caught up with the rest of the thread, but I just thought I'd say that if anyone does actually want to talk to a Unitarian, I am one. *waves*
Which particular brand?

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Quercus » Mon Nov 23, 2015 6:15 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Which particular brand?

My church is, I guess, closest to Unitarian Universalism in the way it operates (because our minister is American and did much of his ministerial training in the US), although it isn't a member of the UUA because it's in the UK. That's fine though, because Unitarian congregations don't have hierarchy - each congregation governs itself and elects its own minister. In terms of personal belief I suppose I'm somewhere in the space between atheism and pantheism, at least at the moment. I also incorporate some pagan-inspired practices, though with effectively zero supernatural content (I do use personified deities in my practice, but more as mental "vessels" for particular sets of ideas and feelings than as anything I actually believe exists in the world outside my own brain).

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby morriswalters » Mon Nov 23, 2015 7:02 pm UTC

My question to you isn't so much about what, more to the why. Why have any organized Religious ?affiliation?

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Quercus » Mon Nov 23, 2015 7:52 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:My question to you isn't so much about what, more to the why. Why have any organized Religious ?affiliation?

The main part of my answer is people, and friendships. Being a member of my church allows me to get to know and keep in touch with a lot of people who are committed to the same sort of exploration of what I guess you could term "the big questions" as me, but from a wide variety of different perspectives. There are a lot of other organisations I could join to meet interesting people, but there are actually very few whose primary function is the inclusive facilitation of the personal growth, in all aspects of life, of its members, which is what I get from my church. I also enjoy supporting others in their own growth, listening to them and helping them when I can. London can be quite an isolating city, and that sort of close-knit community is rare; especially so an intergenerational one (our oldest congregant is in her 90s, our youngest is six weeks old, and there is a fairly even spread between those). Lots of people say that they find it rather challenging making new close friends after college. I have almost more friends than I can handle because of my church - the only thing stopping me having 20 more, or even 50 more close friends is lack of time to maintain that many friendships. Having that sort of community of friendship strikes me as a rather special thing.

The second part of my answer is ritual. I find intentionally coming together with others at a specified time, in a codified way, to think, talk, listen and reflect, as well as singing together and eating together, to be a rather powerful experience. It creates a space away from the everyday to effectively "refocus" my priorities. As a sense of how powerful it is for me, I've lost track of the number of times I've wept in services, as well as the number of times I've laughed.

As for why a religious, rather than an entirely secular organisation? I really value input from people with a wide variety of religious beliefs (at least if they are committed to religious freedom and acceptance of others with different beliefs, which you pretty much would have to be in order to be comfortable in my church). The secular organisations fulfilling similar roles tend to be dominated by atheists - which works well for some people, but I don't feel it would work as well for me. In our congregation we have atheists, agnostics, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Pagans, pantheists and probably more that I don't know about (incidentally our minister is an atheist).

Edited to add:
mcd001 wrote:Tyndmyr is correct, this IS a bad example. I was trying to make a point that caring too much for the real world is as bad or worse than caring too little, and I was thinking of tree-hugging, environmentalist Gaia worshipers who are against any and all human development. My example didn't capture that, and fell quite a bit short of the mark.

From my perspective the problem with the sort of view you describe is not that such tree-huggers* care too much for the real world - it's their inherant dualism, the artificial separation of "humans" and "nature". Humans are just as much a part of the natural world as anything else, so being against human development seems like a symptom of not caring enough about part of the real world, specifically that part of it which consists of humans and their activities.

*as an aside, I am vaguely displeased that this has become a pejorative term - as a highly tactile person, I find the act of hugging a tree to be a lovely experience, and it's a bit of a shame that it has been tainted in this manner.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby morriswalters » Mon Nov 23, 2015 9:05 pm UTC

Quercus wrote:Having that sort of community of friendship strikes me as a rather special thing.
Quercus wrote:The second part of my answer is ritual.
I suspect without caring to try and prove it, that this is the primary case for the bulk of the Religious.
Quercus wrote:Humans are just as much a part of the natural world as anything else, so being against human development seems like a symptom of not caring enough about part of the real world, specifically that part of it which consists of humans and their activities.
You may have that backwards, in the sense that human development doesn't seem to much care for the natural.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Quercus » Mon Nov 23, 2015 9:16 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
Quercus wrote:Having that sort of community of friendship strikes me as a rather special thing.
Quercus wrote:The second part of my answer is ritual.
I suspect without caring to try and prove it, that this is the primary case for the bulk of the Religious.

I think I agree. I find Unitarianism to be a place I can get (and help create) all that, without having to subscribe to beliefs I can't find evidence for or agree to moral precepts I don't support.

Quercus wrote:Humans are just as much a part of the natural world as anything else, so being against human development seems like a symptom of not caring enough about part of the real world, specifically that part of it which consists of humans and their activities.
You may have that backwards, in the sense that human development doesn't seem to much care for the natural.

Oh, absolutely - the point I was making was specifically that people who go too far the other way could be just as correctly (and in my view, more usefully) viewed as caring too little about the human as too much about the natural.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Cradarc » Tue Nov 24, 2015 1:05 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Yes, they do. If you follow the scientific method, you're a scientist. Full stop. There are many other practices and customs floating around regarding science, sure, that's just the nature of human behavior, but there's a very strict "if you DONT do this, you are not a scientist" litmus test.

For most of Christianity, acceptance of Christ is similar. There's a lot more you SHOULD do, maybe, but if you haven't done that, you ain't a Christian.

Trying to say "anyone that left was never really a christian" gets you to a point where you can not identify who, right now, actually is a Christian, because you would need information on the rest of their lives to do so. Then, the only "real Christians" are dead. So, you ain't one either, and can no longer claim special knowledge.

I actually agree with most of this. I don't have special knowledge of who is Christian. However, I can identify whether some behaviors blatantly go against Christian tenets. What I don't like is when people choose to associate Christians tenets with the "bad" things that Christians do while not forming the same association for the "good" things Christians do.
There is certainly practical merit to talk about the impact of people's faith on society as a whole, but that says nothing about the faith itself.

Copper Bezel wrote:I'd go back to Cradrac's first question, honestly, because these are not equivalent assessments, whether Cradrac thinks so or not - "people who believe in God" and "Christians". "Christian" is comparatively trivial to define. There is an agreed upon orthodoxy that owns the name, and for all its variety and fragmentation, there are a set of things that all groups called "Christian" share. That is what the word means and how it is used. It's no different from any enthusiast club: a minority of fans of a particular work or franchise can't claim that they're the only "true" fans of that thing.

The only thing that unites everyone that are labeled "Christians" is the tenet that God came in human form and died out of love for humanity. John 3:16. That's about it. It's crazy how much a simple message has transformed through time.
You are correct in the sense that I can't monopolize a label shared by many people. However, that is also the very reason you can't associate that label with any description that isn't part of its definition. If you say "Christianity is X", you are implying all people that associate with Christianity is associated with X. The people that are "evil" don't have a monopoly over the label any more than the people that are "not evil".

LaserGuy wrote:Well, I and others have pointed out numerous logical reasons why particular beliefs are evil. Yes, making a claim that a belief is evil for no reason is nonsense, but nobody is doing that.

They have a reason, but their reason is "Many people who profess the belief do things that go against my moral system". Even if we ignore the fact that there are many Christians out there who 1) do things that are not against atheist moral systems, and 2) hold moral systems that are different than those people, this is as logically sound as "I think your belief is wrong because it goes against my belief".
LaserGuy wrote:And, as I noted in the post above, that is a really terrible moral system.

There we go. My moral system is terrible because your moral system says so.
LaserGuy wrote:Of course, it's not like religious morality is absolute either. Even within Christianity, what is moral now compared to a century ago has changed radically, let alone since the time of Jesus.

True, but people who wish to pick at other people's moral systems should acknowledge that they hold their own moral system as absolute. If you hold your moral system as subjective, there would be no logical basis for you to challenge the authority of someone else's moral system. You need to have at least a sense of you being more right than the other person. "More right" is meaningless if you have no absolute point of reference for "right".
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Nov 24, 2015 4:20 am UTC

Cradarc wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:And, as I noted in the post above, that is a really terrible moral system.


There we go. My moral system is terrible because your moral system says so.


I described this in an earlier post, so I won't repeat it. It is a terrible moral system because it leads to objectively bad outcomes. I think that objective morality does exist; I just don't think that we have yet discovered precisely what it is. We are successively discovering better and better moral systems, and these replace poor and outdated ones, like that of the Bible. Morality is not an opinion.

[edit]Thinking about this a bit more, I'll add that you don't compare moral system A to moral system B using moral system B. You compare both A and B using a meta moral system C that analyzes moral systems as a whole (whereas the individual moral systems analyze particular actions).

True, but people who wish to pick at other people's moral systems should acknowledge that they hold their own moral system as absolute. If you hold your moral system as subjective, there would be no logical basis for you to challenge the authority of someone else's moral system. You need to have at least a sense of you being more right than the other person. "More right" is meaningless if you have no absolute point of reference for "right".


It's fairly trivial to define an absolute point of reference in the moral spectrum, and compare to that. Just use the point of "an action that is neither moral nor immoral". Any trivial action will work fine for this. Which chair to sit in an empty room, say.
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue Nov 24, 2015 8:34 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:
Quercus wrote:Having that sort of community of friendship strikes me as a rather special thing.
Quercus wrote:The second part of my answer is ritual.
I suspect without caring to try and prove it, that this is the primary case for the bulk of the Religious.

Which is why I think it's rather lovely that there exist a religion or two that are actually put into the service of human wellbeing. Identity, fellowship, and ritual are Good Things, and the ease with which you discard them is an artifact of the Christian conception of an intellectualized religion that doesn't value them for their own sake. We can have them without evil doctrines or a rejection of reason, and we should.

Cradarc wrote:The only thing that unites everyone that are labeled "Christians" is the tenet that God came in human form and died out of love for humanity. John 3:16. That's about it.

No, it's still the Nicene creed, whether you like it or not, which is much more specific.

You are correct in the sense that I can't monopolize a label shared by many people. However, that is also the very reason you can't associate that label with any description that isn't part of its definition. If you say "Christianity is X", you are implying all people that associate with Christianity is associated with X. The people that are "evil" don't have a monopoly over the label any more than the people that are "not evil".

First, we were talking about the experience of being Christian, not anyone being evil, and your incomprehension that people who have believed as hard as you do could turn around and decide that, no, that was bullshit, sorry! You're not addressing that point at all in this formulation.

Second, I'm absolutely not using the term "Christian" selectively. I have repeatedly and clearly stated that I think that some of the most central doctrines of Christianity are evil. Period. I don't care how evil you want to protest any of the people are or are not. There are countless good people struggling under the weight of an evil doctrine in history, and I think the majority of Christians today who've actually read the Bible and aren't bloody televangelists or something are exactly that.
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Cradarc » Wed Nov 25, 2015 1:18 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:I described this in an earlier post, so I won't repeat it. It is a terrible moral system because it leads to objectively bad outcomes. I think that objective morality does exist; I just don't think that we have yet discovered precisely what it is. We are successively discovering better and better moral systems, and these replace poor and outdated ones, like that of the Bible. Morality is not an opinion.

[edit]Thinking about this a bit more, I'll add that you don't compare moral system A to moral system B using moral system B. You compare both A and B using a meta moral system C that analyzes moral systems as a whole (whereas the individual moral systems analyze particular actions).

You claim you have no idea what the objective moral system is, but have no issue talking about "objectively bad outcomes" and "better moral systems"? It sounds rather like you have discovered objective morality and is just trying to convince other people that you're right.
The meta moral system is still your personal system. Unless you know it's an objective meta-moral system, which you said you do not know, it's not logical to assume it's a good meta moral system to use.

LaserGuy wrote:It's fairly trivial to define an absolute point of reference in the moral spectrum, and compare to that. Just use the point of "an action that is neither moral nor immoral". Any trivial action will work fine for this. Which chair to sit in an empty room, say.

I would say not pulling the lever in the Trolley Problem is neither moral nor immoral. So let's put that as the reference point. Oh wait, but other people don't agree. Now what?

Copper Bezel wrote:No, it's still the Nicene creed, whether you like it or not, which is much more specific.

Okay.
There are many people who consider themselves Christians who have never heard of the Nicene creed. I, myself, had only heard it in passing, and I had to Google it to figure out what you exactly you are referring to. If you want to assert that, go ahead. Just don't claim it's not your opinion while simultaneously saying everything I claimed is merely my opinion.

Copper Bezel wrote:First, we were talking about the experience of being Christian, not anyone being evil, and your incomprehension that people who have believed as hard as you do could turn around and decide that, no, that was bullshit, sorry! You're not addressing that point at all in this formulation.

So, now you're claiming the experience of being Christian is objectively evil? I'm not following. It started with the assertion that Christian beliefs are objectively evil. The evidence was that people who no longer consider themselves Christians decided their past experience with the faith is evil (totally no bias there). I'm arguing the exact opposite, that all the people who are truly of the faith see nothing bad in it. This is, by definition of what it means to accept God.
You disagreed with that definition and decided my response was bullshit. Okay sure, but it can't be objectively bullshit any more than calling it bullshit is objectively bullshit.

Copper Bezel wrote:Second, I'm absolutely not using the term "Christian" selectively. I have repeatedly and clearly stated that I think that some of the most central doctrines of Christianity are evil. Period. I don't care how evil you want to protest any of the people are or are not. There are countless good people struggling under the weight of an evil doctrine in history, and I think the majority of Christians today who've actually read the Bible and aren't bloody televangelists or something are exactly that.

I suspected as much. I just wasn't sure if you can acknowledge that you are being equally "dogmatic" about your beliefs as a religious person. It's one thing to make a claim without logical justification, and another thing to say you have logically justified it when you really haven't.
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Nov 25, 2015 1:55 am UTC

There are many people who consider themselves Christians who have never heard of the Nicene creed.

There are plenty of butterflies who have never heard of lepidoptera.

So, now you're claiming the experience of being Christian is objectively evil?

The hell? Are you reading every other word now?

I just wasn't sure if you can acknowledge that you are being equally "dogmatic" about your beliefs as a religious person

"No, you are!" is a fabulously powerful rhetorical technique, but there are in fact situations where it is not entirely applicable.

I'm arguing the exact opposite, that all the people who are truly of the faith see nothing bad in it. This is, by definition of what it means to accept God.

Not only is that not any opposite of anything you're attributing to me, quite apart from anything I've said, it's literally actual nonsense. I'm gradually becoming fairly certain I've somehow wandered into an in-progress Turing test.
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby morriswalters » Wed Nov 25, 2015 2:32 am UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:There are plenty of butterflies who have never heard of lepidoptera.
I'm fairly sure you could say no Butterfly has ever heard of lepidoptera.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Nov 25, 2015 5:11 am UTC

Cradarc wrote:You claim you have no idea what the objective moral system is, but have no issue talking about "objectively bad outcomes" and "better moral systems"? It sounds rather like you have discovered objective morality and is just trying to convince other people that you're right.


We don't know everything about it, but we know more than we used to. We don't know everything about physics either, but that doesn't mean that we can't make some any claims about it at all. Likewise, simply because we do not know all of the details about morality does not mean that we don't know anything about it at all. There are many moral truths that we do know, and we can discover new ones.

Cradarc wrote:I would say not pulling the lever in the Trolley Problem is neither moral nor immoral. So let's put that as the reference point. Oh wait, but other people don't agree. Now what?


Well, that's not a trivial action, so it isn't a good reference point. But people's agreement doesn't matter. If they choose a bad reference point, then they'll just get the wrong answers. As I said, morality is not an opinion. Sometimes people are just wrong. If one person decides that murder is moral, that doesn't make murder moral; it makes that person wrong.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Nov 25, 2015 12:30 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
Copper Bezel wrote:There are plenty of butterflies who have never heard of lepidoptera.
I'm fairly sure you could say no Butterfly has ever heard of lepidoptera.

Quite so.
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby ucim » Wed Nov 25, 2015 3:54 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:If one person decides that murder is moral, that doesn't make murder moral; it makes that person wrong.
That's pretty much an issue of definition, not of morality. Substitute "killing" for "murder" and the question is more ambiguous (and ethically meaningful). Killing is not always wrong, but murder is pretty much defined as "killing that is wrong".

"Morality" is more or less a statement about the kind of world we want to live in. "Objective morality" is nonsense, but there is another thread for that.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Trebla » Wed Nov 25, 2015 4:05 pm UTC

ucim wrote:"Morality" is more or less a statement about the kind of world we want to live in. "Objective morality" is nonsense, but there is another thread for that.


This makes the most sense to me... "objectively moral" sounds as fallacious as "objectively funny." There's no absolute "funny" but it still makes sense to describe things as "more funny" (or "funnier", but "more moral" was the term being compared to).

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Nov 25, 2015 8:09 pm UTC

Trebla wrote:
ucim wrote:"Morality" is more or less a statement about the kind of world we want to live in. "Objective morality" is nonsense, but there is another thread for that.


This makes the most sense to me... "objectively moral" sounds as fallacious as "objectively funny." There's no absolute "funny" but it still makes sense to describe things as "more funny" (or "funnier", but "more moral" was the term being compared to).


And yet, describing things in objective terms such as "funny" or "not funny" is routine, and describing a joke at say, a comedy event as "the most funny" is not at all strange.

If reality is objective(and it certainly appears to be), then at least some morality follows from that. If your morality does not match up with observable fact, well...you've got a problem. And denying reality isn't really a fix. Now, it's possible for variation in religion without conflicting with reality but....as it stands, a significant portion of religion does take issue with observable facts regarding reality.

Say, for instance, Christianity in the US regarding evolution. That's pretty open and shut, and it's still an issue for a ton of people. Does the fault for this conflict lie in reality, or in Christianity? Because you can attack scientists all you want, but reality won't change as a result.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby ucim » Wed Nov 25, 2015 9:28 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:And yet, describing things in objective terms such as "funny" or "not funny" is routine, and describing a joke at say, a comedy event as "the most funny" is not at all strange.
It's shorthand. (Spoilered for OT)
Spoiler:
You can describe something as "the most funny" but describing something doesn't make it true. And the response to "I didn't think it was funny" isn't usually "You're objectively wrong".
Tyndmyr wrote:If reality is objective(and it certainly appears to be), then at least some morality follows from that.
No, it doesn't. The statement suffers from the same fallacy as "If reality is objective (...), then at least some art follows from that". Art is not objective. There's no reason morality ought to be either.
Religion can conflict with reality. That's a case where the beliefs a particular religion holds are incorrect. Santa Claus is also incorrect (despite a basis in fact). Being incorrect is not the same as being evil.

In fact, being harmful is not sufficient either. Evilness requires motive.

It is not the motive of Christianity to harm people. For that reason, Christianity is not evil, even if it causes net harm.

Blowing up shopping malls for the lulz is evil, but blowing them up to stem the descent of civilization into mindless commercialism isn't - it's just (tragically) misguided. This is an important nuance.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Nov 25, 2015 9:49 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:And yet, describing things in objective terms such as "funny" or "not funny" is routine, and describing a joke at say, a comedy event as "the most funny" is not at all strange.
It's shorthand. (Spoilered for OT)
Spoiler:
You can describe something as "the most funny" but describing something doesn't make it true. And the response to "I didn't think it was funny" isn't usually "You're objectively wrong".
Tyndmyr wrote:If reality is objective(and it certainly appears to be), then at least some morality follows from that.
No, it doesn't. The statement suffers from the same fallacy as "If reality is objective (...), then at least some art follows from that". Art is not objective. There's no reason morality ought to be either.
Religion can conflict with reality. That's a case where the beliefs a particular religion holds are incorrect. Santa Claus is also incorrect (despite a basis in fact). Being incorrect is not the same as being evil.


I agree that being incorrect does not necessarily make one evil.

But it certainly can lead to that. Being wrong is fine. Learning to fix the thing you're wrong about is better. Using your wrong knowledge to justify evil acts is, however, kind of a problem.

In fact, being harmful is not sufficient either. Evilness requires motive.

It is not the motive of Christianity to harm people. For that reason, Christianity is not evil, even if it causes net harm.

Blowing up shopping malls for the lulz is evil, but blowing them up to stem the descent of civilization into mindless commercialism isn't - it's just (tragically) misguided. This is an important nuance.

Jose


Bullshit. People can absolutely be evil without intending to be evil.

If you dislike consumerism, and your solution is randomly murdering lots of people....yeah, you've chosen an evil path. It ain't the desire that's the problem. It's the randomly murdering lots of people.

There's tons of real world examples of people being not only mistaken about something, but using that incorrect knowledge to justify a path that is...kind of horrible. Let us look at the historical/religious practices of say, killing twins, or otherwise maltreating them. I mean, from a factual standpoint, trying to figure out which twin is the 'evil twin' is kind of ridiculous. It's certainly a bad reason to kill children on any sort of pragmatic grounds. Would you defend someone who wants to kill kids as "not evil", simply because he holds to some old stupid belief?

Being ignorant does not prevent you from being evil.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Nov 25, 2015 10:00 pm UTC

Yeah, "evil" is definitely not one of the better-defined terms in this discussion, but "intent to do harm for its own sake", a sort of generalized sense of "sadism" or something, is not how I would define that term or the sense I've been using it in. When I say a doctrine is evil, I do mean that it at least in theory should drive people to actions that are evil, and I think of that as actions that are really greatly disproportionately harmful in contrast to whatever intended end they have, or, ehhh, something like that. I'm making a lot of assumptions about the value of those desired ends and I ... frankly don't care, because I'm well aware that "evil" is also one of the least objective terms I'm using, too.

I don't actually agree with Tyndmyr that there's an obvious connection between objective reality and objective morality, but this is not that thread.
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby ucim » Wed Nov 25, 2015 10:36 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:If you dislike consumerism, and your solution is randomly murdering lots of people....yeah, you've chosen an evil path. It ain't the desire that's the problem. It's the randomly murdering lots of people.
How does this compare with going to war? If you are the weak contender, playing the game where you line up soldiers to shoot at the other set of neatly lined up soldiers is a guaranteed loss, so you do something else. That's what war is.

War is unmolpish for sure, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that war itself is evil.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Nov 25, 2015 10:37 pm UTC

Objectivity is interesting, but not central here. And certainly not necessary to agree in the given example of statement of "murder is wrong".

Evil isn't perfectly objective, but we can generally come to at least a decent agreement as to if a given act is evil or not. If you wanna peg the needle, you can point at some ludicrously overt example like genocide.

So, then the question becomes, can an initiator of such an act do so on the basis of misunderstanding?

That seems like a fairly obvious yes. No matter *what* your definition of evil, believing you are doing the right thing is not sufficient to keep one from doing any evil act. In fact, it seems reasonably common that people come to different conclusions and act differently because they believe different things. This is true regardless of if the source of the belief is religious or not.

If we allowed "good intent on the part of the actor" to make an action not evil, then perhaps no actions at all would be evil. This seems to be uselessly vague. If you redefine a word to encompass everything or nothing, you have only avoided the categorization, not solved it.

In practice, you can take a number of paths to attempt to prove "murder is wrong"....but it's being used as an example specifically because actual, real world acceptance of the principle is near universal. This probably stems from biological commonalites. Namely, not wanting to be murdered. Maybe there's a social element, where societies that embrace wanton murder are outcompeted by societies that do not. Whichever. The outcome is the same, in that everyone accepts the same thing, even if they rationalize it differently. Objective or subjective, someone who decides to cheerfully murder all willy nilly is...not going to be treated as holding an equally valid viewpoint. Regardless of rationalization, we all want to see the murderer stopped, and basically any society ever will describe his murderin' as evil. There might be some stuff on the edge of the category that's not as clearly evil or not, because that's how most categorizations work, but nobody is *actually* in doubt about the murderin'.

Subjective, objective, whatever. We all act as if he is wrong, an awful human, and a threat to be dealt with. What is the point in saying differently, if that is what you will *do*?

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:If you dislike consumerism, and your solution is randomly murdering lots of people....yeah, you've chosen an evil path. It ain't the desire that's the problem. It's the randomly murdering lots of people.
How does this compare with going to war? If you are the weak contender, playing the game where you line up soldiers to shoot at the other set of neatly lined up soldiers is a guaranteed loss, so you do something else. That's what war is.

War is unmolpish for sure, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that war itself is evil.

Jose


*sigh* If you're trying to equate war and terrorism, just...go read all the crap already written about that.

And yes, war can totally be evil. Situations and results may vary, but very few people here are likely to embrace war as something good. Merely as "better than alternatives" or the like.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby ucim » Wed Nov 25, 2015 11:29 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:And yes, war can totally be evil.
Yes, but my point is that it can also be totally not evil. And whether it is seen as evil or not often depends largely on what side you're on. Ditto Christianity.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Nov 25, 2015 11:42 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:And yes, war can totally be evil.
Yes, but my point is that it can also be totally not evil. And whether it is seen as evil or not often depends largely on what side you're on. Ditto Christianity.

Jose


So?

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Nov 25, 2015 11:46 pm UTC

War is a really nebulous concept. Using it as a standard for restraining the definition of another really nebulous concept seems really impractical. A war is more likely than a lot of things to have two sides that often think of each other as evil, or ascribe evil actions to one another. If someone is saying that war itself is evil - I don't know, I'm pretty sure both sides can be saying that.

You can have an opponent whose incentive is to act in opposition to you, and still distinguish between an acceptable move and a dickish one on their part, you're just not always going to be as successful at it as a neutral third party, because, you know, you're not one.

And if you're opposed to Christianity because you've decided that things Christians do or believe or whatever else are evil ... yeah, the war metaphor is just not working anymore. = /
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby morriswalters » Thu Nov 26, 2015 2:30 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:If we allowed "good intent on the part of the actor" to make an action not evil, then perhaps no actions at all would be evil.
IMO evil requires knowledge of the morality of the act. That is, that you know that what you are doing is immoral, and that you do it in spite of that knowledge. So for example, Jeffrey Dahmer knew that murder was wrong, he just didn't care. So he was evil. But intent has to count, otherwise we would punish juveniles and people lacking the ability to understand the fact, that what they have done is morally wrong. So a thing can be morally wrong without being evil. Evil gets thrown about like a cudgel. In most cases it's wasted and overused.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Nov 27, 2015 4:14 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:If we allowed "good intent on the part of the actor" to make an action not evil, then perhaps no actions at all would be evil.
IMO evil requires knowledge of the morality of the act. That is, that you know that what you are doing is immoral, and that you do it in spite of that knowledge. So for example, Jeffrey Dahmer knew that murder was wrong, he just didn't care. So he was evil. But intent has to count, otherwise we would punish juveniles and people lacking the ability to understand the fact, that what they have done is morally wrong. So a thing can be morally wrong without being evil. Evil gets thrown about like a cudgel. In most cases it's wasted and overused.


We do punish those people. All the time.

Granted, we usually punish them less. So sure, intent counts for something....but I dare say that one can do evil while having grand ambitions, and believing that what you are doing is right.

I'm sure at least some people really believed the Crusades were great. And slavery. And every other great evil one can imagine.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri Nov 27, 2015 5:13 pm UTC

Honestly this is another of those cases where, like, if the word isn't useful, we can use a different word. There are plenty of similarly negatively-connoting alternatives.
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby ucim » Sat Nov 28, 2015 4:01 am UTC

Ok Copper Bezel, go ahead and pick new words. You said "Christianity as it now exists is a major force for evil.". You further claim that it is uniquely evil, laying out three key points here.

"Evil" is a very high bar. It's not just naughty, it's not just harmful, it's not just unthinkingly selfish, it's not even just devastating... to be "evil" is to be dripping in vile, remorseless, knowing, Dahmer-level depravity. And even with that, "evil" is just a label that separates "us" from "them" and gives us an excuse to punish them viciously. Calling them "evil" gives us license to do that.

So.... if you want to pick a different word, be my guest. I'm listening. Because while I agree that the three points of contention you have with about Christianity point out how nonsensical the beliefs are, and I agree that (at least) the idea of eternal punishment for finite wrongdoing is so wrong (if God really did that, he'd be a dick and unworthy of worship), people do buy into it. It has the potential to cause great harm, but it also has the potential to do quite a bit of good. It helps keep people in line (FSVO "in line") that otherwise might themselves do harm to others, and this is no small thing. It would be nice if people didn't need this, but some people do. Some people desperately do. It's easy to sit in our enlightened position and decree that they are defective people who shouldn't be coddled like that, but that's (at the least) dickish.

As to what "in line" means here (it could mean helping them decide not to rob banks, but it could also mean "helping them" to not be able to express their sexuality...), that is a different question; a question that applies to any form of community relations. That something fosters something else that you think is wrong, does not in itself make the first thing wrong. It's the second thing that's wrong. Otherwise, all governmental and power structures would be wrong.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Copper Bezel » Sat Nov 28, 2015 5:05 am UTC

Well, I mean, no, I'm obviously not going to revise my previous posts according to your personal dictionary. I don't remember agreeing to anything like that. Normally I'd try to avoid using the word "evil" in the way I avoid using the word "ironic", in that it's impossible to actually use in a sentence without contradicting someone's pet usage and starting a fight over them.

I will say that I don't think justification is the end-all-be-all of motivation. I mean, christ, we just had a fairly apropos-of-nothing reference to the Trolley Problem, which is designed to illustrate the difference between the two. So your approach to your definition of "evil" is a little narrow there, because I do think it requires you to conflate them.

This part is interesting, though.

ucim wrote:It has the potential to cause great harm, but it also has the potential to do quite a bit of good. It helps keep people in line (FSVO "in line") that otherwise might themselves do harm to others, and this is no small thing. It would be nice if people didn't need this, but some people do. Some people desperately do. It's easy to sit in our enlightened position and decree that they are defective people who shouldn't be coddled like that, but that's (at the least) dickish.

The thing is, we can't help being the enlightened patronizing the benighted in this arrangement, and it's something I find awkward about discussing "religion" in general (with the understanding that, yeah, I'm mostly meaning Christianity here, or some of the typical alternatives in Western society). If I say that some unspecified mass of people need this or that emotional crutch, even if I don't, and I should accept that, that's already a very patronizing way of looking at the world. I'm implying that all of those believers are people who can't handle something I can. That's not really a road I want to go down.

But to take this a step further and say that some people need heavens and hells as a moral crutch - well, this is demonstrably untrue in anything but a local, cultural, immediately-these-literal-individuals sense, because plenty of societies have got on without one or the other or either, and there are still plenty of perfectly functional societies on the planet today that still don't need them. So at the very worst, there are people who have been raised to need them.

But no, I really just don't think that's an accurate assessment on any level. I think the moralistic value of religion has been wildly oversold.

I'm a little puzzled by the idea of "desperately" needing heaven and hell as a moral incentive, though. That implies both needing it and wanting it at the same time, which seems like a contradiction in terms, like Star Trek's android character Data wanting to feel emotion. The people who talk the most about religion as a moral guide are generally very devout people with a strong sense of what they feel is moral. They're the last people you'd need to offer any incentive to keep in line.
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby morriswalters » Sun Nov 29, 2015 3:14 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:If I say that some unspecified mass of people need this or that emotional crutch, even if I don't, and I should accept that, that's already a very patronizing way of looking at the world. I'm implying that all of those believers are people who can't handle something I can. That's not really a road I want to go down.
Isn't that your default position? Or at least the default position on an atheist. It certainly is for me. People want Religion for something. Whatever it might be, I don't. When I take the position that God doesn't exist, then I am left with the fact that people have formed a framework that I don't, myself, need. Either I'm missing something of my part, or they are missing something on theirs. But the positions are mutually exclusive. The only difference for me personally is that I don't care. I believe in whatever it takes to get through the day. That means I accept Religion unless they step on my toes.
Copper Bezel wrote:But to take this a step further and say that some people need heavens and hells as a moral crutch - well, this is demonstrably untrue in anything but a local, cultural, immediately-these-literal-individuals sense, because plenty of societies have got on without one or the other or either, and there are still plenty of perfectly functional societies on the planet today that still don't need them. So at the very worst, there are people who have been raised to need them.
Most Religions affirm the idea of an afterlife. Call it whatever you will. And answer me this, if people don't need an afterlife, why do they keep inventing them?

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Copper Bezel » Sun Nov 29, 2015 6:04 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Isn't that your default position? Or at least the default position on an atheist.

Well, no, for precisely the reasons I said.

Most Religions affirm the idea of an afterlife. Call it whatever you will.

Which is precisely not what I'm talking about. I said "heavens and hells" because that is what I was talking about when ucim objected. If either of you are not talking about heavens and hells, then you're not responding to what I said and I'm under no obligation to simply take the position you're each ascribing to me.

In context of my previous post, we were discussing needing a heaven and hell as a moral incentive, specifically, a society's indefinitely deferred supernatural punishments and rewards. Christianity and Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, and others do have this quality; they're "heavens and hells" in that sense, even if I have separately claimed that the Christian and Muslim variations are particularly insidious for other reasons (many afterlives do not trivialize the experiential world the way this one does, but that's not what we're talking about right now).

ucim, unless I'm deeply misunderstanding him, made the rather brassy claim that some people, perhaps many people, need the moralistic qualities Christianity places on the afterlife. It's like ucim had claimed that damn near everyone needs a red car, I had disagreed and said that blue is a perfectly fine color as wel, and you're coming at me with an argument for why damn near everyone needs a car, color aside. These aren't the same conversation.

And answer me this, if people don't need an afterlife, why do they keep inventing them?

It's not as clever a question as you think, I don't think. Compare, "If people don't need sexism, why do they keep inventing it?".

A neutral or detrimental idea can certainly be likely to develop in human societies, and then have compulsive qualities that allow it to persist, without the society as a whole or the average person within actually "needing" it, certainly not its apparent "consumer".

In fact, a lot of common perceptual failures seem to be a simple result of our biology and don't need any inventing at all. The basic human tendency to ascribe intentionality to damn near everything almost certainly falls into this category, making animism, the seed from which all religion grows, quite probably an inevitable consequence of how human reasoning does and does not work. It isn't necessary, it just is. We've only had a fully developed theory of mind for a few hundreds of thousands of years, if that. It's demonstrably overactive. We are wired to anthropomorphize.

I actually think afterlives, speaking broadly, are closer to that cluster of innate tendencies than they are to organized religion as we know it. Death is exceedingly hard to grok. The level of our minds that understands object permanence and theory of mind finds it particularly confusing; the physical person is right there, the mind is not. Where did it go? This thing sure looks like a person, it must be thinking somewhere. And being emotionally bound up in a particular death doesn't make us any more rational about it. Certainly before neuroscience, or even Aristotle's four causes, I think the question "where do we go when we die" is actually a fairly natural one, even inevitable.

What a given religious authority generally does from there is to endorse and reaffirm an afterlife at the cost of using it as a moralizing tool, which cyclically reaffirms its own power. Which, I mean, is what religions do and are - they buy up all the magic that's already naturally out there in our fuzzy, metaphor-laden mindscapes, monopolizing and regulating it.

I was really hoping on some level to answer your question with a question, but I can't - there is a fairly firmly established answer for it. That's where afterlives come from. None of the steps have to be necessary, not all of them are even inevitable, and they don't really tell us anything about how to feel about the whole business or how we ought to treat it. Some inevitable ascriptions of intentionality on my own part in this account aside, none of them are really inherently good or bad for society or for the individual in question, they just sort of happen.

So if people "need" an afterlife (inevitably will, on some deep level, expect one must exist), that does not imply that they "need" the moral guidance of a particular afterlife as presented by their particular community's organized religion.
So much depends upon a red wheel barrow (>= XXII) but it is not going to be installed.

she / her / her


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