Non-Religious Leader

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Belial » Mon Oct 15, 2007 9:40 pm UTC

Well once religious groups become the political machine, maybe I'll identify with an atheist organization.


You don't think that's happened yet? We've *never* had a non-christian president, most americans say they wouldn't ever vote for an atheist, and it is considered general political wisdom that you can't get the republican nomination without the okay of the radical christian right (previously in the form of Jerry Fallwell).

And that's just the shit I can think of off the top of my head.
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Axman » Mon Oct 15, 2007 10:27 pm UTC

We've *never* had a non-christian president, most americans say they wouldn't ever vote for an atheist, and it is considered general political wisdom that you can't get the republican nomination without the okay of the radical christian right (previously in the form of Jerry Fallwell).


But...who cares? Being Christian doesn't change how taxes are structured, or how wars fought, what drugs are illegal, what international policies set, or about anything else that goes on in the Oval Office. The only thing that it seems to affect is abortion law, which is still, last time I heard, protected by the judiciary. If you're a good Christian, then you should know not to force others to mirror your faith (and trust that should they be devout, they'll behave in accord on their own).

The problem with politicians explaining their reasons is that they're never straight-forward. No one ever says "I made this decision because I owe political favors in exchange for the money that I used to get elected President," but that's what actually happens. God doesn't have an penny to do with it.

And...how likely do you think any President isn't atheist? In a realist world, politicians have already sold themselves to the highest bidder. In an ideal world, the President acts completely outside his own interest but in the country's best.
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Tue Oct 16, 2007 1:24 am UTC

Axman wrote:And...how likely do you think any President isn't atheist? In a realist world, politicians have already sold themselves to the highest bidder. In an ideal world, the President acts completely outside his own interest but in the country's best.


Um... what? Are you suggesting that all Presidents are atheists due to their corruption? Non sequitur detected!
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Aperfectring » Tue Oct 16, 2007 2:08 am UTC

I am atheist/agnotic (not that I believe it matters), and I find the notion that one person can be a moral or ethical guide for every occasion or for every person a bit ludicrous. Personally, if I am having a moral or ethical crisis, I am likely to find friends, parents, or colleagues who I know to generally act morally and ethically, and ask their advice. If you want anonymity, I can always go to the interblag, and there are some small corners (like this forum) where people will take you seriously, and give you their advice. It generally doesn't matter to me what a person's religious bias is when asking them for advice, what matters to me is that I know their character. I also like to get the opinions of people who support both (or all) sides of an issue, and see what their justifications for taking that side are. It helps me along the path that I feel is right to my own moral and ethical standards.
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Bugs » Tue Oct 16, 2007 10:39 am UTC

Aperfectring wrote:I find the notion that one person can be a moral or ethical guide for every occasion or for every person a bit ludicrous. Personally, if I am having a moral or ethical crisis, I am likely to find friends, parents, or colleagues who I know to generally act morally and ethically, and ask their advice. If you want anonymity, I can always go to the interblag, and there are some small corners (like this forum) where people will take you seriously, and give you their advice. It generally doesn't matter to me what a person's religious bias is when asking them for advice, what matters to me is that I know their character. I also like to get the opinions of people who support both (or all) sides of an issue, and see what their justifications for taking that side are. It helps me along the path that I feel is right to my own moral and ethical standards.


I agree with you up to a point, but will second whoever said earlier that a good priest (or other religious leader) can be a very good guide in these matters. The vast majority of a religious leader's time is spent on "pastoral care", i.e. helping their community deal with illness, death and other problems, as well as plan for happier events. Also, while I'm not sure about all religions, becoming a religious leader in most Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions involves studying ethics and morality. I'd say that after this education and years of experience in counselling and giving advice, a good priest is an ideal person to talk to.
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby HaeSuse » Sun Dec 02, 2007 8:46 pm UTC

We've *never* had a non-christian president



uhhhh.... do your research. i'll just point out 3 of our non-christian presidents (the last one, could go either way, but he was most certainly not an orthodox christian of any sort, and the first 2 are most certainly not christian):






3 Abraham Lincoln quotes (the 2nd one is quite blatant in saying that, yes, we have had a non-christian president):


"My earlier views at the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them."

"The Bible is not my Book and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long complicated statements of Christian dogma."

"I see a very dark cloud on America's horizon, and that cloud is coming from Rome."





8 Thomas Jefferson quotes:

"Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man."

"Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear."

"He is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong."

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."

"There is not a truth existing which I fear... or would wish unknown to the whole world."

"It is error alone that needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself."

"I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature."

"Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law"




3 John Adams quotes:


"I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved--the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!" "This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no [organized] religion in it"

"As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion..."

"What havoc has been made of books through every century of the Christian era? Where are fifty gospels, condemned as spurious by the bull of Pope Gelasius? Where are the forty wagon-loads of Hebrew manuscripts burned in France, by order of another pope, because suspected of heresy? Remember the 'index expurgatorius', the inquisition, the stake, the axe, the halter and the guillotine."
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby pKp » Sun Dec 02, 2007 10:50 pm UTC

"As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion..."


That must be why the president swears on a Bible :mrgreen:
Also, you may want to check this out. :mrgreen:
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Belial » Mon Dec 03, 2007 3:18 am UTC

uhhhh.... do your research. i'll just point out 3 of our non-christian presidents


Yeah, looking back, I have no idea what I was thinking two months ago. Chances are, I was considering the last hundred years or so, and no further.
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby VannA » Mon Dec 03, 2007 3:37 am UTC

Yes, its a shame.

America was once a breeding ground for excellent natural philosophers and their ilk.

Now you have Creationist Musuems. /cry.

I would suggest that it is very telling that there has been no Non-Publically-Christian President in the last Century.. certainly, since Federation, I don't think Australia has had a non-christian leader.
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby JoshuaZ » Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:24 am UTC

Okita wrote:I was thinking about all the religion talk that happens in SB and General once in a while and I started thinking about the preacher v. religious community relationship. I don't think I'm too far off when I claim that a priest is the religious leader of a religious community. Specifically in the Christianity or Judaism, the priest is a sources of leadership in things ethical, moral and spiritual.


The sentence at least for Judaism is not very accurate and it isn't completely true for all forms of Christianity. Judaism does not have "priests" as such or at least hasn't had a real priesthood for 2000 years. The priesthood was patrilineal(that is you were priest if your father was priest). The priests' primary responsibility was handling the animal sacrifices in the Temple. Post the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. the priesthood became much less important. Those of priestly descent (called kohanim (or if you want to anglicize, kohanes)) are still around today but are treated like other Jews by most Conservative and Reform congregations. A small number of Conservative congregations and all Orthodox congregations do still treat the kohanim differently but the kohanim are responsible some small minor elements of ceremonial addition, generally on holidays. Also, Orthodox kohanim and some Conservative kohanim keep certain old rules of ritual purity which include not going to cemeteries except for funerals of close relatives.

Modern Judaism does have Rabbis which are often erroneously compared to priests. This comparison does not work well with most forms of Christianity and works especially badly with the classical Catholic and Orthodox style priests. Rabbis primarily exist to give answers to questions. Rabbis are thus very unlike priests who exist as intermediaries between God and the lay people. One might go so far as to say that under some of Jewish theological attitudes the ideal world would not need Rabbis since everyone would be experts.
Okita wrote:Atheists don't really have that and I wondered why. True, Atheists do not believe in God and thus would have no need for any sort of spiritual leadership. But at the same time, it's not like someone who is Atheist will always have a complete idea of what is ethical or moral for them. I suppose the question I'm posing is "How come there isn't a sort of non-spiritual community leader for non-religious people?"


Do you mean people who have as a job thinking about ethics and morals? They're are general ethicists. Non-religious atheists (to keep out Buddhists and such who in some form are atheists) don't need special leaders or such for at least one simple reason: there's no revelatory element to what is moral. Priests or Rabbis make sense when there is a transcendent(or claiming to be transcendent) moral being who has given instruction which some people have specifically studied and become experts or where some people are acting still as conduits (as in the classic prophet or what some evangelicals claims to get from God). For the generic atheist there is no moral knowledge that the atheist cannot get by simply thinking and conversing with people.

Okita wrote:In my own crazy world I imagine that someday we'll have local Speakers, people who are reasonably well educated and perhaps hold lectures or speakings or something weekly. Obviously they won't talk about whether there is a God or quote from Scripture or have spiritual routines that the Church goes through. But they would talk about local or global events, their opinions and research on them and seek to inform people about them.

Maybe they'll be like researchers who spend their life learning and then "preaching" what they have learned to the community in easier to digest forms so that the community as a whole benefits from being more learned on all subjects. A Jack-of-all-trades version of knowledge.

Then again, perhaps something like that already exists (methinks perhaps lectures at local colleges?) and I'm just rambling. What do you think?

Some colleges do this and have lecture series open to the public. But that doesn't have anything to do with atheism in any way. The atheist would want those just as much as the religious person. Now, if the lecture was specifically about morality the religious person might be less interested in the lecture on morality from the atheist and the atheist would be less likely to be interested in a talk on morality that started off with some religious premise, but the basic point doesn't seem to have to do with atheism at all. Am I missing something here?
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Hench » Wed Dec 05, 2007 10:10 pm UTC

Okita's use of a capitalized "Speaker" and this:
Okita wrote:Honestly, when I was thinking about this I was thinking a lot about "Speaker for the Dead" by Orson Scott Card.

imply (okay, mention explicitly) The Speakers for the Dead from the Ender series. It's been a while since I've read Speaker, so I'm hesitant to discuss it completely on my own, so could someone some up what exactly a Speaker stands for (at least insofar as the humanistic religion that follows them) and how the concept could relate to an atheistic leader?
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby VannA » Thu Dec 06, 2007 2:09 am UTC

Speakers research the dead person's life and give a speech that attempts to speak for them, describing the person's life as he or she tried to live it. This speech is not an apology, but rather a way to understand the person as a whole, including any flaws or misdeeds.


Essentially, speakers are non-ivolved eulogists, who give accurate and well presented recitatations of another being's life.
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby HaeSuse » Mon Dec 10, 2007 4:33 pm UTC

pKp wrote:
"As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion..."


That must be why the president swears on a Bible :mrgreen:
Also, you may want to check this out. :mrgreen:



if obama gets elected, he wont be. i think it would be fucking awesome for him to swear in using the quran.

and, regardless of swearing on a bible, it is 100% certain that some presidents were NOT christian, and actually kind of HATED christianity.
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby daydalus » Mon Dec 10, 2007 7:08 pm UTC

HaeSuse wrote:
if obama gets elected, he wont be. i think it would be fucking awesome for him to swear in using the quran.

and, regardless of swearing on a bible, it is 100% certain that some presidents were NOT christian, and actually kind of HATED christianity.


Um, Obama is a Christian - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obama
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby magnum_opus » Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:20 pm UTC

well if you want an atheist moral leader you can always look to the Dalai Lama.

That the Dalai Lama is an answer here speaks to a failing of either The US or the latest atheist push. Either way atheists have been running around the media instilling a sense of capital Atheism as opposition to the Abrahamic faiths. What they're actually saying though is a promotion of naturalism, humanism and skepticism. The problem with that being that they've accidentally convinced a bunch of atheists that there is an Atheism thats some sort of cohesive philosophy/movement (The Brights certainly didn't help). As witnessed by the fact that despite most people here agree atheists are a herd of cats, no one seems to have admitted that atheism still allows for: ghosts, souls, Karma, reincarnation, nirvana, absolute morality, psychic vampires, bigfoot, the lock ness monster, demons, djinn, angels etc. (ignoring of course things like objectivism and other atheistic derivations of morality)
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Adalwolf » Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:37 pm UTC

Couldn't Richard Dawkins be considered a leader of atheists? Not a political one, but a...not spiritual...hmm...intellectual leader, perhaps?
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby d33p » Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:50 pm UTC

I've been a pastor. And while I'll agree that people who are prone to ministerial positions have a certain proclivity towards helping people, it is almost always centered around an agenda. Namely, "saving someone's soul."
In an open playing field of humanism, social ethics, personal morality, etc - yeah, you're going to have a lot more options as a non-Christian in seeking advice or enlightenment, since you're not tied town to a specific dogma. Conversely, it may be harder to find someone that has an inner desire and (relatively) altruistic motivation to help you.
Psychotherapists make a helluva lot of money, and while I don't have the figures, I'd wager it's a more lucrative business than even televangelism.
Yes, you can seek help from a shepherd-type pastor, because it will most likely be free advice and ideas, but keep in mind it's going to be laced with a religious slant.
So you get more options as an atheist, but just because the pool is bigger doesn't make it easier to choose a mentor. It's probably harder, but safer if you're avoiding any faith-based teachings.
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Indon » Mon Dec 10, 2007 10:09 pm UTC

I'd like to point out that non-organized religions have the same issue; last I checked, there was no Church of Deism (unitarians nonwithstanding), for example.

Without a religious support network, there are still secular equivalents, depending of course on what your problem is. In addition, you can find communities about practically anything, most of which would have individuals willing to help give you guidance and such (even communities nominally built around webcomics, I imagine), so long as the issue's at least a little relevant.
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