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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2015 7:23 pm UTC
by morriswalters
Copper Bezel wrote: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?".
I could drop down that rabbit hole but I'll defer. If you think they are the same then OK.

Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2015 7:47 pm UTC
by Copper Bezel
Yes, I anticipated that, and considered placing giant fucking hazard signs to indicate that I wasn't comparing the two in that sense, given your propensity to climb down any rabbit hole that presents itself, despite the very, very obvious context of that statement, but I briefly trusted that you might actually intend to discuss something in good faith. Thank you for pointing out my mistake.

Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2015 9:22 pm UTC
by morriswalters
I have no idea what you are going on about. If I respond you don't like it. I'm always talking about something other than what you are. And in this Fora if the phrase sexism comes up, I walk away. No matter the context.

Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2015 11:52 pm UTC
by Copper Bezel
No, look, I'm sorry, I could have made more clear that I wasn't comparing the two things as things, or used a more neutral example. The purpose of using a negative example is, of course, to illustrate why I think assuming necessity is faulty. Is there a rhetorical benefit to making a negative association there? Sure. But for chrissakes, call me out on the stylistic choice, then. It doesn't make sense to ask me if I'm comparing the two on a scale of, like, acceptableness or something.

I do think I was at least fairly clear that I don't believe the concept of an afterlife to be an inherently bad thing.

So, like, the post we're talking about was a response to your objection to my response to ucim. Your objection had two parts, one on the "who's patronizing who" question and one about afterlives.

You'd jumped ahead on the afterlives question, after I'd carefully laid out precisely what aspect of what afterlives I was referring to, and taken it as an attack on having an idea of an afterlife, which is to say that your question did not follow from the quote it was in response to. That objection, assuming that your misunderstanding was sincere, took some space to explain.

From that explanation, you plucked out one sentence to object to on what look to me to be stylistic grounds, or alternatively, a misreading of that sentence ignoring damn near half the rest of the post.

This is a pattern.

It's becoming a design problem for me to nest in all of the qualifiers I need to make any statement at all before the simplest post I can make becomes unreadably long. I'm actually fairly confident the all that qualification was all there, and that you were actively reading against my posts to get the meaning out of those snippets that you did. I'm sorry that my posts are as difficult to wade through as they are, but you have to understand that a part of the reason for that is to try to prevent superficial objections, whether made in good faith or otherwise, that don't have anything to do with the content. If the next post after mine is an attack on a misreading of what I said, that reduces the chance of me getting any kind of response or objection to the actual content of what I'm saying. I don't learn anything from that, except to reaffirm my paranoia of pedants.

I like a good, snappy turn of logic as much as anyone, but I'm not involved in this conversation exclusively to play rhetorical games for points. I actually think this "who's patronizing who" question has some merit. You, ucim, and I all seem to materially disagree. I'd love to explore that further. I will not, however, be accepting further suggestions about word choice and style from either of you.

Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Posted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 1:18 am UTC
by ucim
Copper Bezel wrote:I will not, however, be accepting further suggestions about word choice and style from either of you.
Ummm... some posts above you indicated (something like) that if a word wasn't being useful in the conversation, a different one should be chosen.

The primary thrust of your position is that Christianity is evil, and you specifically focused on Christianity (to the exclusion of other religions). Now I agree that Christianity is most likely incorrect, but that's not your issue. Your issue is that it is evil.

That's a loaded word. Do you really mean what (I think) most people take it to mean? Do you still stand by that word?

Do you care to define it in the context in which you are using it?

Because if words mean different things to the sender and the recipient, communication is not the thing that is happening.


Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Posted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 3:33 am UTC
by Copper Bezel
Right, okay.

It's of no consequence to me to prove that Christianity is incorrect.1 In fact, I think it does everyone, believers and nonbelievers alike, a disservice to even approach the question that way. "Correct" and "incorrect" are only meaningful labels if you think of Christianity as something that has a truth value. That leaves out all of the parts of Christianity that aren't about a truth value and elevates the ones that are.

To me, the logical case for any specific religion to be true or false is fairly open and shut. I mean, I don't have to prove incorrect an assertion that comes without any evidence. All I have to do is to point out that it has none. But we enter into that turf, and there are people who will present what they believe to be evidence, or think that simply disproving other models they see as competing with their claims is sufficient. (It's not, of course; disproving that the world as we know it evolved naturally says bollocks about the God of Abraham, which remains a single fanciful account among many, with archaeologically documented origins and influences.)

To be clear, I'm not interested in arguing that point, but it's necessary to state. There is zero value for me in investigating or determining the epistemological status of truth claims about religion - they're nonsense little things.

So I don't think anything of substance has ever come out of apologetics, but the distraction certainly keeps a lot of people busy. Taking the Genesis story literally and making creation an item of faith has added weird complications to the study and education of geology, then biology, then astrophysics, but I don't think it did Christians any particular good, save for the handful that get to ride the wave as defenders of the faith against science. Maybe that bit of cognitive dissonance has kept the faith powerful in ways it wouldn't be otherwise today, maybe not. I do think the way Christianity already stresses its identity with "truth", that it intends for believers to believe it to be "correct", is a very important factor in how it's spread. And so far as I can tell, that really is as old as the religion itself, so I'm not blaming modern apologists for innovating that or something. They certainly encourage and maintain it.

But Christianity is not equivalent with its claims about the world. I mean, it's not synonymous with those claims, in a way that would make sense to talk about proving Christianity "correct" or "incorrect". Christianity contains traditions, philosophies, ways of living, fuzzy metaphorical models of the world that don't prove or disprove.

I don't ask myself if Disney movies or the sort of Disney culture are "correct". I do ask myself if they're presenting messages that I consider healthy. I ask myself if they're fairly reflecting the conflicts and types and values I see in the world at large and have something substantive to say about them, and whether that thing they're saying encourages a healthy perspective. Point of fact, something I pay a lot of attention to in fiction is who the writers saw fit to "punish" and for what reasons. That urge to punish turns me straight off an awful lot of things - it just seems unhealthy to me.

So if you want a more palatable word than "evil", and of course I chose the word to prick in the first place, I think the word is "unhealthy" or "pathological". I'm not backpedaling the word "evil", but I'll readily admit that it doesn't tell you much more than how I feel about the thing I'm describing. I also don't mean that Christianity is a pathology, like a misreading of Dennett,2 just that these qualities are, themselves, individually, deeply unhealthy.

As I said, motivations and justifications are not the same thing, so an action being justified by a particular set of mind is definitely not the only thing we have to know about it to determine intent. Human beings do not begin at first premises and reason out all of their actions logically and without prejudice from that point. The few who have believed they could and attempted to do so by a novel means, and subsequently found logical trackways to reinforce all of their existing biases and preconceptions, I really do find both illustrative and laughable. Descartes and Kant come readily to mind.

I really do think that there's quite a lot of bloody-minded cruelty in the Christian faith, and not in the sense of some Christians coincidentally being bloody-minded and cruel, which of course is an uninteresting statistical inevitability, but in the sense that it's baked into the doctrines; someone wanted an awful lot of people to suffer for very petty reasons and (progressively, in stages, many hands making light work over the centuries) created a cosmology to do that for them, and that surely remains as a part of the appeal of those doctrines for at least some of the adherents who continue to endorse them. That, to me, seems deeply unhealthy.

My experience with other religions3 is much more limited, but whether a particular faith community or brand name carries similar pathologies is something I'd have to assess case-to-case. My sense of things right now is that Christianity is neither unique in all the world nor an average representative religion but something of a problem strain. I do think it's a little difficult and perhaps meaningless to compare religions in this way, because I don't think "religion" is always a meaningful category - things that look like a religion to us Westerners at a glance really might not be covering all the same spheres of their apparent adherents' lives. Or things we don't recognize as religions might inhabit spaces otherwise reserved for things that do, and so on.4

1. Unless I mistake your sense of "correct". If you mean something closer to moral right and wrong, as opposed to something like true or false, then I guess I don't disagree, it's definitely not a "correct" mode of behavior.

2. Or rather, just a reading of Dennett. He sure does like that virus metaphor. It's accurate, but that's not the only reason he likes it.

3. I say "Christianity and Islam" a lot, and here, I have to acknowledge that I don't have direct experience with Islam in the way that I do with Christianity. However, from the outside, they look very similar, they have very similar doctrines, they have a shared origin, they have the same emphasis on affirmation of faith being the deciding attribute of the faithful; I would be surprised to encounter any substantive difference between the two. Islam was certainly more militant in its inception.

4. Reading a bit about the fighting and borrowing that went on between the Gnostics and the Neo-Platonists, for instance - you know, one of those things is most definitely a religion in the modern sense, and the other definitely not, but they sure were playing on some very similar turf in ways that modern Christian zealots and modern scientists are definitely not, even if the general space of "truth claims about the world" is still contested territory between them.

Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Posted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 5:50 am UTC
by ucim
By "correct" I do mean along the axis of TRUE and FALSE (as opposed to RIGHT and WRONG).

Christanity does make claims about how the universe works and how it was set up. Those claims are either correct, or they are incorrect. (One may pick and choose the claims that one would like to disqualify as "merely metaphorical", but at the very least, the existence of a Supreme Being, outside the reality which we inhabit, who created the very reality we inhabit, sent his son (whatever that means) to us, and dictated a Holy Book (in his own way) for us to follow, are all claims whose truth value is central to the religion.)

We both believe these claims are most likely false; there's no need to argue them one way or another. But people can be incorrect.
Simulated beings whose "very fabric" is the ones and zeros and logic gates of a computer could conceivably figure out the rules of logic that govern their "atoms", but they would have no reason to posit the existence of neutrinos and galaxies - those are totally outside their universe, even if beings from that universe created the simulated beings doing the wondering.
What if those claims were actually true? Including heaven, hell, and eternal torment for finite wrongdoing. In that hypothetical case, would you still consider the religion "unhealthy" or "pathological"? Granted, God would be a dick in this case, and the universe itself would be pathological, but would it not be "unhealthy" or "pathological" to not believe in it, and to thus go about believing something that would be not only false, but would lead to eternal damnation?

Choosing one would make your view of Christianity dependent on its being false - which is fine, but then you can't say that its truth value is of no consequence.

Choosing the other would imply that it's not Christianity (itself) that you object to, but rather, the world (and otherworld) that it paints - which is also fine, but then you're aming at the wrong target in a subtle but important way.


Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Posted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 6:52 am UTC
by Copper Bezel
Well, no, I think the vast majority of people who argue in favor of the truth claims that underpin some parts of Christianity are not coincidentally the people who believe Christianity to be morally right, and I think that the moral rightness is the motivator. The truth proceeds from the rightness, not the other way around. It doesn't matter that that's not how logic works, because Christianity is not based in logic. Life philosophies rarely are, even among people who happen to not believe in any gods or supernatural shenanigans, so that's not even conspicuous in this space. I mean, my sense of morality comes out of good old-fashioned empathy, and bonobo chimps can pull that off without much capacity for symbolic logic to speak of, so I'm not going to pretend that that descends from some scientifically determined principle. Some people do hold up such a pretense of logical consistency, and some of the people who do are Christians, but I'm not going to give them any more slack than myself or my peers on the outside.

I definitely think there are some people who are fooled into following Christianity despite it not feeling right to them, believing it to be true on the basis of evidence, but once doubt is a weakness of faith, as it generally is in Christianity, you don't really have an evidentiary system anymore. And I'm not really talking about metaphor, either. It's more about priorities, I should think. Even a person who believes the whole mess literally from six-day creation to many-horned-beast apocalypse is more likely than not to do so out of something that starts in a gut feeling.

Separately, yes, for the reasons you've already explained, the self-contradictory dogma does also mean that if Christianity's truth claims were in fact true, that would be insufficient motivation to follow such a God, and he would go on being just as evil as his fictional counterpart is now. It would be morally right to boycott God. The counterfactual hypothetical just isn't very interesting to me, like positing a world where flamingoes were blue instead. We could hazard guesses about whether brine shrimp were also blue in this universe or the pigment was innate instead, but it's really just kind of a weird place to start. I honestly don't think that's where any actual Christians are starting, so I don't know why we would.

Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Posted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 3:24 pm UTC
by Tyndmyr
ucim wrote: 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.

Some people need alcohol to get through the day, too. That doesn't make it right, or good.

ucim wrote:
Copper Bezel wrote:I will not, however, be accepting further suggestions about word choice and style from either of you.
Ummm... some posts above you indicated (something like) that if a word wasn't being useful in the conversation, a different one should be chosen.

Sometimes this is a necessary tactic in order to circumvent misunderstanding, etc. There are certain words I avoid for this reason. However, you should not use this as an argument tactic, intentionally misunderstanding to force the other person into increasingly complex explanations. That isn't searching for truth, that's actively avoiding it. If you find yourself doing this, it's a good sign that you don't believe your own argument is strong enough to be persuasive on it's own merits.

In that case, you should re-examine why you're arguing for it.

Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Posted: Thu Jan 07, 2016 7:35 pm UTC
by Quizatzhaderac
ucim wrote:...are all claims whose truth value is central to the religion.
There are some people who have said that one must believe X literally to be a Y. But there are also many religious leaders that have said the exact opposite, that religion isn't a set of theological claims.

I'd also agree with Copper Bezel, in that I'd say for the most part people believe "love thy neighbor" and believe in Christ as the person who said that, not that they believe "love thy neighbor" because they believe in Jesus.