Religion: The Deuce

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Coffee Stain » Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:52 am UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:Saying that Christianity isn't an example of Christianity is a no true scotsman fallacy. I understand what you are saying(and of course there is intentional misinterpretation by some people in religion) but you can't cover any flaw in religion by saying that flaw isn't a real part of the religion.

Whether this statement is true depends on what you take to be the definition of "real" religion. If we take religion to be a a specific type of search for truth, and the aspects of life it reveals to the human psyche as a consequence, then questioning whether the Crusades were a "part" of religion is almost nonsense. In this case, more "real" religion would be a type that leads to more accruate truths of that specific type, and consequentially better results in the individual's self-understanding. If we take religion to be a social phenomenon, then it is clear that the crusades were a part of historical religion, in the same sense that inaccurate models of the atom are a "part" of historical science. We talk about how to better science in terms of its modern abilities, and in light of its past failures; there is no reason we cannot do the same with religion. If we do talk about religion in the historical sense, more "real" religion is just a more accurate historical description about religion. With the former definition, a more real religion is a more accurate description of the things religion is about, and this is not a useless metric.

So yes, the Crusades are a part of Christianity, but I can see no reason that this need concern our discussion here. What we know about religion is that under some circumstances it can be used as a justification for evil. What we don't know is whether we, with that knowledge, can use it (like any tool) for a greater good than the damage it's capable of. Wars have been started a hundred times over with a hundred other motives than religion; the natural thing to acknowledge is that people start wars, not that any of those motives are evil in and of themselves.

You correctly state that the popes thought it was God's will that he commit what we now know to be terrible evil. What you've failed to recognize is that, from a religious perspective, he could be wrong. The type of religion being defended here is not of the type these popes held, so I don't have a clue why it was even brought up.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby thc » Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:56 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:I don't think anyone is saying that the Crusades, etc. aren't real parts of Christianity, which would be a ridiculous thing to try to define. The fact is that there are as many Christianities as there are Christians, and quite a few understandings of Christianity held by non-Christians. With that in mind, it doesn't make sense to charge "Christianity" in general with something like the Crusades, any more than it would make sense to say that Christians believe in the Real Presence or that Jews follow the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov. Unless you see Christians here condoning the Crusades, I don't see the point in bringing them up.


That wholly depends on your definition of religion. If religion is just any set of beliefs concerning Stuff and Things, then there are as many religions as there are people. But that's not a very useful definition, IMO. If you think of religion as an institution, then there are far fewer Christianities than there are Christians. In fact, during the Crusades, there were like, what, 2 or 3 max.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby duckshirt » Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:58 am UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:Saying that Christianity isn't an example of Christianity is a no true scotsman fallacy. I understand what you are saying(and of course there is intentional misinterpretation by some people in religion) but you can't cover any flaw in religion by saying that flaw isn't a real part of the religion.

I think you're working under a different definition of Christianity now (at least, from nitePhyyre). What he originally claimed, when this conversation began, was that crusades were part of Christian doctrine, i.e. 'Christianity,' which they aren't. If you define 'Christianity' as 'everything that has to do with everyone who calls themselves Christians,' which might be a valid definition, then you might be right, but it's not how the discussion began.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby nitePhyyre » Thu Jul 29, 2010 7:04 am UTC

guenther wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:tl;dr Religion has had thousands of years to unite humanity, technology has made more progress in 100.

I think what we observe is an abundance of wealth. When things are good, it's easier to be good. In fact, it's this abundance of wealth that's given us the freedom and security to expand science and technology and to move away from religion. But when this prosperity runs out (changing climates, peak oil, overcrowding, global war), we'll see that people use the tools of science and technology to do all the same evil that people have used religion for over the ages.

Yes, we have an abundance of wealth, created by science and technology mind you, that is giving us the freedom and security to expand science and technology and to move away from religion. This is because science and technology works. Religion does not. And yes, If we stop making further technological progress we will stop receiving the benefits of technological progress. Things would then decay. None of this refutes the fact that: Religion has had thousands of years to unite humanity, technology has made more progress in 100.

guenther wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:While we may not currently be able to empirically demonstrate this, (yet) we can make inferences. We can extrapolate. Do you go to your local Medical Doctor or your local Witch Doctor when you are sick? When there is a drought and your crops are dying, you can dance and pray for rain, or get engineers to build a pump and irrigation system, what works better? I could go on, but let's not. If science and reason seem to tackle individual problems so well, it seems reasonable to believe it would do equally well in a general setting.

I think science and reason do a good job of tackling well-defined, objective problems. But in the world of subjectivity where there's no clear right answer, I'm not covinced it will have such unparalleled success.
In every realm that science goes head-to-head with mysticism, it does better. Every time. Without fail. You need a hell of a lot more than "I think" to say that this one instance will be different.

guenther wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:Science and religion are two methods of getting to the same place. They are both trying to figure out the world and universe around them. They both ask the same questions, why does the universe exist, how does it work, how should we live, how can we be good people, etc. If walking and driving are two methods of transportation, science and religion are two methods of revelation.
Science is based on the scientific method. It values evidence absolutely.
Religion is based on faith. Faith values ignoring evidence absolutely.
If you don't see a conflict, is it because you disagree with the above, or you don't see it as a conflict? Another reason why this isn't conflicting?

I disagree with the above. Science serves a specific purpose of describing the world in an objective way. But people measurably have a need to ask questions with no well-defined answer. In the realm of science, these questions are unimportant (asking if there's a God is meaningless unless someone puts forth a notion of God that's testable). But to us they matter a great deal (people want to know if God exists even it's objectively poorly defined what type of being God is).

I hate to break it to you, but the bible is also trying to describe the world in an objective way. First story of the bible? The 100% objective factual story on how the universe and humanity was created in 6 days. Genesis is a directly competing theory with all of cosmology and evolution. Do you remember ever hearing of those heretics who were killed or persecuted for saying things like the earth was round, or that the earth wasn't the center of the universe, because those views were against the views of the church?

guenther wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:Faith being a virtue is the main problem with religion. Teaching that belief without evidence is a good thing is damaging to reason. I don't know how you can teach religion without faith.

I see faith as a method of getting people to adhere to difficult roads. It's really more about being faithful to a way of life than about having faith in a certain statement of truth. However, because our mind readily conflates the two, people often promote the former by advocating the latter.

Can you back up your claim that faith damages our ability to reason? I don't believe it's true. Rather our problem with reason comes from our own biology. Sometimes I think faith can improve our capacity to maintain rationality. In Christianity, faith is used as a way to calm the spirits and to quell our fear. Strong emotions are the primary corruption of our ability to reason, and if these can be brought into check we'll better be able to analyze the situation.

Well, sure if you redefine faith to mean discipline, then it's a good thing. Unfortunately, that is not its definition. Faith means to believe with out facts, evidence or reason to believe.

Faith and reason are antonyms:
Spoiler:
World English Dictionary wrote:Faith: confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.
2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
3. belief in god or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
5. a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.
6. the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.: Failure to appear would be breaking faith.
7. the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one's promise, oath, allegiance, etc.: He was the only one who proved his faith during our recent troubles.
8. Christian Theology . the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved.
—Idiom
9. in faith, in truth; indeed: In faith, he is a fine lad.

World English Dictionary wrote:Reason: –verb (used without object)
8. to think or argue in a logical manner.
9. to form conclusions, judgments, or inferences from facts or premises.
10. to urge reasons which should determine belief or action.
Particularly what is in bold.
Religion tells us to be faithful in all aspects of our lives. Considering the word are antonyms, that sentence could be rewritten as:
Religion tells us to be anti-reason in all aspects of our lives.

More to the point: Once you have accepted that there are times where it is reasonable to be unreasonable, it can - and will - bleed into times where it is not reasonable to be unreasonable. Humans are bad at compartmentalizing.

(btw: When you have to start redefining words to make them not contradict your position, it shows a fairly large confirmation bias. Thank you for being a case in point about faith and reason not coexisting nicely)

guenther wrote:
quantumcat42 wrote:
Dark567 wrote:I think any philosophical legwork will tell you that science can't answer "How should we live" or "How can we be good people". This is essentially the is-ought problem.

Precisely. The philosophical legwork I was referring to is establishing goals or values (which can then be pursued scientifically) -- the essence of the is-ought problem is that science can't really help with the process of establishing these values. It's inherently philosophical.

I agree with both of you. Science has trouble tackling questions that measurably play a profound role in how people live their lives. This is why science is merely a tool and not a panacea.

Of course a philosopher will tell you a scientist can't do his job, haven't we been through how science outperforms mysticism? :wink:
Thing is, the is-ought problem is bullshit. First off, it doesn't apply here because we were already discussing a clearly defined goal. The is-ought problem says you can't define goals. Secondly, Science requires predictions. If it is nessecary to move on from just 'is', it is not that far of a jump to get to 'ought'. Thirdly, you are all ignoring the fact that this shit already exists. Fourthly, you are all making the unsubstantiated assumption that it is impossible to derive 'goodness' and 'badness' from dopamine, serotonin, or some other is-type attribute. Most importantly the is-ought problem basically states that it is impossible to turn any information or knowledge gleaned from empiricism into wisdom. This is tantamount to saying wisdom can only be gained by devine revelation. If you maintain that position, a are a zealot. Thanks again for showing that faith and reason don't play nicely.



duckshirt wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:I don't know where you get this notion from, the Judeo-Christian-Islam religions all have convert-or-kill doctrines or passages. To say anything else is a lie, ignorance, or blasphemy. Ever heard of the Crusades?
Your logic is flawed: Just because crusades happened doesn't mean it was based on an actual doctrine or a scripture passage. In the Middle Ages the Catholic church had a lot of "beliefs" that were not based on the Bible or actual doctrine because >99% of people couldn't read the Bible (until Martin Luther et al changed that), so the few who "could" could easily make up stuff to take advantage.
Ignorance it is then. :wink:

Jesus wrote:But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.


duckshirt wrote:I think you're working under a different definition of Christianity now (at least, from nitePhyyre). What he originally claimed, when this conversation began, was that crusades were part of Christian doctrine, i.e. 'Christianity,' which they aren't. If you define 'Christianity' as 'everything that has to do with everyone who calls themselves Christians,' which might be a valid definition, then you might be right, but it's not how the discussion began.

What I said was that there are passages and doctrines that justify an increase in us-vs-them hostilities. The crusades are an example of the effect of these passages. Although I more likely meant the Inquisition.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Dark567 » Thu Jul 29, 2010 1:06 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:
Thing is, the is-ought problem is bullshit. First off, it doesn't apply here because we were already discussing a clearly defined goal. The is-ought problem says you can't define goals. Secondly, Science requires predictions. If it is nessecary to move on from just 'is', it is not that far of a jump to get to 'ought'. Thirdly, you are all ignoring the fact that this shit already exists. Fourthly, you are all making the unsubstantiated assumption that it is impossible to derive 'goodness' and 'badness' from dopamine, serotonin, or some other is-type attribute.


All of those things can only answer the 'is' part of the is-ought divide. Evolutionary ethics(something I discuss in great detail in viewtopic.php?f=8&t=61675 ) or psychology can never tell you an ought. They can only tell you about the morals that we have, not the ones we ought to have. It is true that if you have a well defined goal(i.e. happiness) you can use science to get to that with defining things like dopamine or serotonin to be "good", but thats not to say they are ultimately good, they are just useful for getting to your goal(which we also don't know if it is good).
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby quantumcat42 » Thu Jul 29, 2010 1:18 pm UTC

Dark567 wrote:It is true that if you have a well defined goal(i.e. happiness) you can use science to get to that with defining things like dopamine or serotonin to be "good", but thats not to say they are ultimately good, they are just useful for getting to your goal(which we also don't know if it is good).

For example.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Thu Jul 29, 2010 5:33 pm UTC

nitePhyyre: You don't understand much of my argument.

First, regarding abundance of wealth, I argue that science and reason are merely tools, and the enabling factor is surplus energy. When we lose access to cheap energy, our advancement will decline. And I don't have a ready cite, but I heard an interview that talked about how religiosity around the world is most closely tied to prosperity. So I predict that when our overconsumption, overcrowding, and overexploitation outstrips our ability to find easy resources, we'll have a decline in prosperity and a rise in religiosity. And this is all despite the gains we've made of developing science and reason as tools.

Second, this is all besides the point. I still maintain that science and religion can coexist quite well, as we have ample evidence to prove. My theory is that religions encode their way of life by promoting a narrative about the world. But when this narrative conflicts with what science tells us, we get a clash. But history has shown that religions simply change their narrative to maintain their faith. This tells us two things: A) the clashes are not fundamental breaks between religion and science, they're merely temporary growing pains for people that encode wisdom in this way. And B) religion isn't about providing objective statements of reality if these claims can get consistently debunked and religion moves on just fine. There's something else that's causes people to continue believing.

Third, I never redefined faith; I was describing the function of faith. And I agree that having faith in a statement will limit our ability to apply reason regarding it. But we are already biologically limited on how reasonable we can be. So does faith further limit our ability to use reason? This is where I'm asking for a citation. I'd like to see an experiment that actually tests our ability to apply reason in various circumstances.

My hypothesis is that it won't limit it, and in fact it can help in the way I already described. If you start with an assumption that we are perfectly rational creatures, then faith can only hurt our capacity for reason. But if you start from the belief that our mental faculties are already flawed, then it's not as clear of a picture. I suspect that the limits to our reason exist in all of us and can show up in our tendency for faith-like beliefs (where the strength of our belief is not backed by evidence). And faith is just where we are open about not needing evidence.

nitePhyyre wrote:Religion tells us to be faithful in all aspects of our lives. Considering the word are antonyms, that sentence could be rewritten as:
Religion tells us to be anti-reason in all aspects of our lives.

If I say that a man should be faithful to his wife, does that mean I want him to be anti-reason to his wife? Being faithful is about being true to our commitment. Religions promote that we should commit to God and be true to that commitment. And when faith is mentioned in the Bible, it's mostly about having faith that God will follow through on his promises. When we lose that faith, our capacity to remain faithful is severely limited. That's why I say that having faith is really about being faithful.

nitePhyyre wrote:
Jesus wrote:But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

This is the problem with quoting out of context. It's a parable where the person speaking is the master that represents God. Elsewhere in the Bible it talks about how we should leave the justice to God while live out a life of peace.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby thc » Thu Jul 29, 2010 7:21 pm UTC

Dark567 wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:
Thing is, the is-ought problem is bullshit. First off, it doesn't apply here because we were already discussing a clearly defined goal. The is-ought problem says you can't define goals. Secondly, Science requires predictions. If it is nessecary to move on from just 'is', it is not that far of a jump to get to 'ought'. Thirdly, you are all ignoring the fact that this shit already exists. Fourthly, you are all making the unsubstantiated assumption that it is impossible to derive 'goodness' and 'badness' from dopamine, serotonin, or some other is-type attribute.


All of those things can only answer the 'is' part of the is-ought divide. Evolutionary ethics(something I discuss in great detail in viewtopic.php?f=8&t=61675 ) or psychology can never tell you an ought. They can only tell you about the morals that we have, not the ones we ought to have. It is true that if you have a well defined goal(i.e. happiness) you can use science to get to that with defining things like dopamine or serotonin to be "good", but thats not to say they are ultimately good, they are just useful for getting to your goal(which we also don't know if it is good).


And you're assuming that religion can tell you what the ultimate good is? If not, then it follows, Nitephyyre's point, that religion has no advantage.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Dark567 » Thu Jul 29, 2010 7:25 pm UTC

thc wrote:
And you're assuming that religion can tell you what the ultimate good is? If not, then it follows, Nitephyyre's point, that religion has no advantage.


His point still stands, his logic getting there was the problem.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby morriswalters » Thu Jul 29, 2010 7:37 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:Yes, we have an abundance of wealth, created by science and technology mind you, that is giving us the freedom and security to expand science and technology and to move away from religion. This is because science and technology works. Religion does not. And yes, If we stop making further technological progress we will stop receiving the benefits of technological progress. Things would then decay. None of this refutes the fact that: Religion has had thousands of years to unite humanity, technology has made more progress in 100.


I would point out that the last 100 years is not the era to make your argument about technology. We have had 2 major wars with causalities close to 60 million from all causes. Plus numerous other smaller wars, revolutions, genocides, ethic cleansing, ect. Some of these were religious in nature, a most weren't. Technology is a mixed blessing at best. We have managed to do a lot of damage to the planet and are at a point were things could really get bad. One thing it has done for sure is to allow the birthrate to come unglued from the checks of the natural system completely. We have developed dynamite, atom bombs, hydrogen bombs, and biological and chemical weapons and used them. During the cold war we had enough weapons to destroy the world, cocked and ready at all times. Religion didn't seem to be deeply concerned with all that. And unless I'm mistaken we seem to be falling into smaller pieces.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby thc » Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:26 pm UTC

We have had 2 major wars with causalities close to 60 million from all causes. Plus numerous other smaller wars, revolutions, genocides, ethic cleansing, ect. Some of these were religious in nature, most weren't

Really?

I still maintain that science and religion can coexist quite well, as we have ample evidence to prove. My theory is that religions encode their way of life by promoting a narrative about the world. But when this narrative conflicts with what science tells us, we get a clash. But history has shown that religions simply change their narrative to maintain their faith.


But in the mean time, when religion is not quite ready to change their narrative, it actively impedes the advances that science could make.

Glad to see you at least admit that religion resists progress (and still does today).

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Oregonaut » Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:48 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:Yes, we have an abundance of wealth, created by science and technology mind you, that is giving us the freedom and security to expand science and technology and to move away from religion. This is because science and technology works. Religion does not. And yes, If we stop making further technological progress we will stop receiving the benefits of technological progress. Things would then decay. None of this refutes the fact that: Religion has had thousands of years to unite humanity, technology has made more progress in 100.


I would point out that the last 100 years is not the era to make your argument about technology. We have had 2 major wars with causalities close to 60 million from all causes. Plus numerous other smaller wars, revolutions, genocides, ethic cleansing, ect. Some of these were religious in nature, a most weren't. Technology is a mixed blessing at best. We have managed to do a lot of damage to the planet and are at a point were things could really get bad. One thing it has done for sure is to allow the birthrate to come unglued from the checks of the natural system completely. We have developed dynamite, atom bombs, hydrogen bombs, and biological and chemical weapons and used them. During the cold war we had enough weapons to destroy the world, cocked and ready at all times. Religion didn't seem to be deeply concerned with all that. And unless I'm mistaken we seem to be falling into smaller pieces.


I wouldn't use the convenience of war in any time period as an effective means of holding either side of the argument. Considering the only thing that stops this from reoccuring is the interconnectivity of humanity. We spent a great deal of time coming up with some really entertaining ways to kill people. Religion has been as good a reason as any. Imagine the fervor of that time period, only with tanks. The tanks don't make themselves drive. The men with holy fervor wanting to "convert" or kill the heathens do. Imagine an atom bomb in the hands of one of the more...zealous...members of the crusades. England wouldn't exist as it is today. That's not an argument against technology, that's an argument against zealousy, and zeal for technology can be dangerous, zeal for religion can be moreso.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Thu Jul 29, 2010 9:06 pm UTC

thc wrote:But in the mean time, when religion is not quite ready to change their narrative, it actively impedes the advances that science could make.

Glad to see you at least admit that religion resists progress (and still does today).

Yup. If I felt scientific advancement was the most important thing, I'd be less of a cheerleader for religion. Even still, I don't think religious narratives are impeding science very much nowadays. It boils down to a handful of issues out of a great vast sea of science. And while there's certainly a religious element, I think much of the distortion comes from politics. I.e. I suspect promoting intelligent design correlates better with being Republican than with being Christian. I'd be interested to know if anyone has evidence to the contrary.

And regarding progress, I believe we need a healthy balance between conserving the way things have been done and progressing to new ways of doing things. Religious groups naturally do the conservation side better.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby mmmcannibalism » Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:56 pm UTC

Spoiler:
guenther wrote:
thc wrote:But in the mean time, when religion is not quite ready to change their narrative, it actively impedes the advances that science could make.

Glad to see you at least admit that religion resists progress (and still does today).

Yup. If I felt scientific advancement was the most important thing, I'd be less of a cheerleader for religion. Even still, I don't think religious narratives are impeding science very much nowadays. It boils down to a handful of issues out of a great vast sea of science. And while there's certainly a religious element, I think much of the distortion comes from politics. I.e. I suspect promoting intelligent design correlates better with being Republican than with being Christian. I'd be interested to know if anyone has evidence to the contrary.

And regarding progress, I believe we need a healthy balance between conserving the way things have been done and progressing to new ways of doing things. Religious groups naturally do the conservation side better.


http://www.gallup.com/poll/21814/evolut ... esign.aspx

So 82 percent of Americans believe in intelligent design(or straight up creationism)

http://www.gallup.com/poll/141080/Democ ... Slide.aspx

43 percent of Americans are republicans

So at best there is a 43/82=.524 correlation between being a republican and being a non believer in evolution

http://www.gallup.com/poll/124793/This- ... stian.aspx

78 percent of Americans identify as Christian(ignoring other religions)

so assuming every non christian believes in id/creationism(obviously not true) there would be at least a 78/(82-12)=1.114 correlation between being a christian and being a non believer in evolution.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby duckshirt » Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:59 pm UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:So at best there is a 43/82=.524 correlation between being a republican and being a non believer in evolution

Actually, in this poll, that "Man formed, God guided the process etc" isn't necessarily rejecting evoltion... Wikipedia had a source of a much better poll somewhere where people basically said whether they accepted evolution or not; the U.S. was around 66% (and it also compared among religions, political parties, and more countries than just the U.S., too).

Also, I'm pretty sure you're doing statistics wrong, but to answer guenther, there was a bigger difference in the acceptance of evolution between U.S. Republicans and Democrats than between religious and not.


nitePhyyre wrote:Ignorance it is then. :wink:

Jesus wrote:But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

...
What I said was that there are passages and doctrines that justify an increase in us-vs-them hostilities. The crusades are an example of the effect of these passages. Although I more likely meant the Inquisition.

Well, you said Christianity has 'convert-or-die' doctrines or passages- I assumed you meant either doctrines or verses that could actually be reasonably interpreted as supporting 'convert-or-die' actions, whereas anyone who's read the preceding few verses of the quoted passage can see that it's part of a parable (by the way, is there a reason non-Christians always quote from the King James? just an observation). Sure, it's possible for a power-hungry ruler to quote that one verse in support of a war he wanted to fight, as long as the people couldn't actually read the rest of the Bible (e.g. the Crusades), but it still begs the question: if they couldn't read the Bible, why even quote it in the first place?
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby thc » Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:20 pm UTC

...zealousy...


More poignant than you intended.

guenther
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:41 pm UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:http://www.gallup.com/poll/21814/evolution-creationism-intelligent-design.aspx

So 82 percent of Americans believe in intelligent design(or straight up creationism)

http://www.gallup.com/poll/141080/Democ ... Slide.aspx

43 percent of Americans are republicans

So at best there is a 43/82=.524 correlation between being a republican and being a non believer in evolution

http://www.gallup.com/poll/124793/This- ... stian.aspx

78 percent of Americans identify as Christian(ignoring other religions)

so assuming every non christian believes in id/creationism(obviously not true) there would be at least a 78/(82-12)=1.114 correlation between being a christian and being a non believer in evolution.

Thanks for the information. I didn't know that evolution was so narrowly accepted. I didn't follow how you came up with 78/(82-12). Regardless your point is clear. Believing in creationism/ID seems to correlate well with Christianity.

However, when I said "promoted", I meant in a policy sense. Do Republicans or Christians better correlate with push to put ID (or even to weaken evolution) in the science classroom. To me this is where religion really gets in the way of science since it impacts how future generations are taught the material. If people with no connection to science hold unscientific opinions, the science community can still do their thing. (I found this link, but I don't know how to extract correlation from it.)

I could still be wrong on this point though. I do think there are times when faith in the religious narrative can get in the way of evaluating scientific data. When we've invested so much in believing something to be true, it's hard to fairly consider that it might not be true. The same happens with political allegiences.
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thc
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby thc » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:08 am UTC

The evolution/ID debate is important, sure, but in some respects, it just seems like a giant pissing match between science and religion. And apparently, it's possible to believe in ID and still be an amazing molecular biologist.

I was more thinking about stem cells. There is a tremendous amount of lost opportunity because of the restrictions on its research, all due to religious lobbying.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:43 am UTC

While it's related to the religious narrative, it's not really anti-science or a problem with reasoning. It's just an ethical bound on science derived from religious beliefs. In fact, ethics as a whole impedes our advancement of science.

Even still, I do agree with you on the lost opportunity here. While I get the concern about having embryos manufactured for scientific experiments, there's still some very reasonable safeguards we can do to allow science to ethically advance down that road.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby nitePhyyre » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:45 am UTC

guenther wrote:nitePhyyre: You don't understand much of my argument.

First, regarding abundance of wealth, I argue that science and reason are merely tools, and the enabling factor is surplus energy. When we lose access to cheap energy, our advancement will decline. And I don't have a ready cite, but I heard an interview that talked about how religiosity around the world is most closely tied to prosperity. So I predict that when our overconsumption, overcrowding, and overexploitation outstrips our ability to find easy resources, we'll have a decline in prosperity and a rise in religiosity. And this is all despite the gains we've made of developing science and reason as tools.
If science and tech are only enabled through energy surplus, what creates the energy surplus? Praying? I'm going to assume you meant negatively tied to prosperity, this way the post makes sense. Otherwise, you are wrong. Your prediction is based on the assumption that we will not make further technological progress. I have already conceded the point that if we stop tech progress, society will decay. This does not change the fact that technology has done more to unite humanity in 100 years than religion has done in 6000.

I understand your argument, it just doesn't refute mine.

guenther wrote:Second, this is all besides the point. I still maintain that science and religion can coexist quite well, as we have ample evidence to prove. My theory is that religions encode their way of life by promoting a narrative about the world. But when this narrative conflicts with what science tells us, we get a clash. But history has shown that religions simply change their narrative to maintain their faith. This tells us two things: A) the clashes are not fundamental breaks between religion and science, they're merely temporary growing pains for people that encode wisdom in this way. And B) religion isn't about providing objective statements of reality if these claims can get consistently debunked and religion moves on just fine. There's something else that's causes people to continue believing.

I would like to see citations of this ample evidence. I think people like Galileo, Copernicus, early Christians, would take issue on use of the phrase "simply change their narrative". So it doesn't really tell us anything. Religion doesn't simply change, they get dragged, kicking and screaming, and they only 'simply' change when it is the last possible thing they can do to maintain any shred of credibility. Unless of course the science happens to sound like the religion, like the big bang. Then religion quickly jumps on that band wagon, which shows us they are trying to describe the world objectively. Or to be precise, religion tell us how the world is, and how it ought to be.

guenther wrote:Third, I never redefined faith; I was describing the function of faith. And I agree that having faith in a statement will limit our ability to apply reason regarding it. But we are already biologically limited on how reasonable we can be. So does faith further limit our ability to use reason? This is where I'm asking for a citation. I'd like to see an experiment that actually tests our ability to apply reason in various circumstances.

So we now both agree that having faith will limit our ability to apply reason.
I'll give you that faith is one method of acquiring discipline. Although, so is science so the point is moot.
So the question is, does science inherently limit our ability to reason, similarly to faith?

guenther wrote:My hypothesis is that it won't limit it, and in fact it can help in the way I already described. If you start with an assumption that we are perfectly rational creatures, then faith can only hurt our capacity for reason. But if you start from the belief that our mental faculties are already flawed, then it's not as clear of a picture. I suspect that the limits to our reason exist in all of us and can show up in our tendency for faith-like beliefs (where the strength of our belief is not backed by evidence). And faith is just where we are open about not needing evidence.

The ways you already describe are faith promoting discipline in a roundabout way in some religious people. This is an argument for promoting the teaching of self-discipline, not for religion. I definitely don't think humans are rational machines. It's sort of one of my 'talking points'. I agree it isn't that clear a picture. For instance my position is based on humans being poor at compartmentalization. That being said, if we agree that reason is beneficial, and humans are capable of being both reasonable and unreasonable, it makes sense that we should try and remove the obstacles to reason.

As you said we are already biologically limited as to how reasonable we ca be. It makes no sense to add to that limit.

guenther wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:Religion tells us to be faithful in all aspects of our lives. Considering the word are antonyms, that sentence could be rewritten as:
Religion tells us to be anti-reason in all aspects of our lives.

If I say that a man should be faithful to his wife, does that mean I want him to be anti-reason to his wife? Being faithful is about being true to our commitment. Religions promote that we should commit to God and be true to that commitment. And when faith is mentioned in the Bible, it's mostly about having faith that God will follow through on his promises. When we lose that faith, our capacity to remain faithful is severely limited. That's why I say that having faith is really about being faithful.
First you redefine faith as discipline, now you choose to use a secular synonym of trust, instead of the definition that we were OBVIOUSLY discussing. I mean, I quoted and bolded the fucking dictionary. You STILL try to redefine faith to mean anything other than "belief without evidence". To top it off your newest redefinition "Being faithful is about being true to our commitment. Religions promote that we should commit to God and be true to that commitment." is predicated on accepting 'belief without evidence" definition of the word faith.

guenther wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:
Jesus wrote:But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

This is the problem with quoting out of context. It's a parable where the person speaking is the master that represents God. Elsewhere in the Bible it talks about how we should leave the justice to God while live out a life of peace.

Yes, Jesus is telling a parable about a ruler or king of some sort. This king represents Jesus. In the parable the king (who is Jesus) says: "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." How exactly is this out of context?

@morriswalters: Since the end of ww2, this is the longest the world has gone without a major conflict. More importantly, there was war in the dark ages as well. But tell me this, What is the dark age equivalent to the WTO? Even better, Haiti. What was the dark age equivalent to the international outpouring of aid in response to a natural disaster?

@duckshirt: As to your main point, I answered above. As for the King James. Everyone who uses a non-KJV doesn't give a shit about which bible is quoted from. The people who use the KJV believe it to be the only non-blasphemous translation. So everyone quotes the oldest version because of the KJV zealots. Hey! another example of religion fighting progress.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:19 am UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:This does not change the fact that technology has done more to unite humanity in 100 years than religion has done in 6000.

I'm quite happy with the advancement of science and technology (in fact I make a living off of it). So I'll let this go since it's only relevant to the discussion if one believes that when these are advanced, religion is hurt. And you are right that I meant a negative correlation with regards to religiosity and prosperity.

nitePhyyre wrote:I would like to see citations of this ample evidence

Open any science textbook and count how many things are being impeded by religion and how many things are not. I bet one of those numbers will be a lot bigger than the other. And maybe "changing the narrative" is whitewashing the process a bit, but from a large perspective I think that's precisely what's going on.

This isn't quite on topic, but here's Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about science and politics. Basically he's making the case that Republicans are not anti-science. I couldn't figure out how strong the impact of Christianity is on the Republican party, but it seems the general wisdom is that it's pretty powerful. If such a powerful contributor was anti-science, I don't know how the party could be measurably pro-science.

nitePhyyre wrote:So the question is, does science inherently limit our ability to reason, similarly to faith?

No, but it also doesn't have the power to increase reason the way faith can.

I should also point out that I don't regard reason as an ideal. If you do, then I understand why you don't like religion. Rather I see reason as a tool that helps us make better decisions, and I think faith can help there too. Ultimately I want people to make good decisions. (Of course "good" is not well defined here, but I'm really emphasizing the point that I'd rather see a metric that measures the quality of our choices rather than how well we can apply reason.)

nitePhyyre wrote:First you redefine faith as discipline, now you choose to use a secular synonym of trust, instead of the definition that we were OBVIOUSLY discussing. I mean, I quoted and bolded the fucking dictionary. You STILL try to redefine faith to mean anything other than "belief without evidence". To top it off your newest redefinition "Being faithful is about being true to our commitment. Religions promote that we should commit to God and be true to that commitment." is predicated on accepting 'belief without evidence" definition of the word faith.

You are conflating faith and faithful. They are not the same thing. I am using the former to mean "belief without evidence" and the latter to mean "true to your commitment". And I believe I've been consistent on this usage since the beginning. What I'm saying is that people promote belief without evidence to get people to be true to their commitment. In other words, promoting faith is about fostering faithfulness.

Basically I'm trying to answer this question: Why has faith played such an important role throughout our history? If it can clearly limit our ability to reason through things, why would we hang on to such a detrimental practice? I believe that it's not detrimental and in fact useful. For starters, it can actually improve our ability to reason when it counters strong negative emotions like fear and despair.

But more importantly, it's about getting us to stick to a way of life that's been evolved to promote behavior that's good for the group. When we empower people to define their own morality through reason, they will be unable to counteract the huge bias we have to favor what's most useful for ourselves. So faith is a fix for our own mental deficiencies. We are naturally inclined to care more about selfish short-term needs, most especially in times of distress. Getting people to focus beyond that is very challenging. As an example, scientifically we know exactly how to fix the obesity problem, but we can't get people to actually do the hard work required. As far as I know, using science and reason to fight this strong internal bias has not proven very effective, and this is in an area where it will quite demonstrably improve their own life. The problem gets harder if we want to convince people to fight this bias to improve other people's lives. And it will get harder still if we move into a time of reduced prosperity and increased stress.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby duckshirt » Fri Jul 30, 2010 10:08 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:Yes, Jesus is telling a parable about a ruler or king of some sort. This king represents Jesus. In the parable the king (who is Jesus) says: "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." How exactly is this out of context?
Because the people he's commanding to "slay" are not the citizens (i.e. the ones representing humans), but servants (who don't really have a good real-world equivalent that I can think of right now), which is hard to tell when you only quote that one verse but easy to see if you read a few more before it.

As for the King James. Everyone who uses a non-KJV doesn't give a shit about which bible is quoted from.
Well, sorta. The KJV is fine, but the newer translations are more accurate and in contemporary language, so it makes a little more sense. And there probably aren't nearly as many KJV-zealots as you think, and none of them are here; my feeling has always been that non-Christians like to quote it because it's so non-contemporary and thus easier to make it look confusing... so whenever I see it quoted I get the feeling, which could be wrong, that the one quoting it just copied the one verse as-is from another website and never bothered to actually look the verse up.

...because of the KJV zealots. Hey! another example of religion fighting progress.
and you're just going to help them?
lol everything matters
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Idhan » Sat Jul 31, 2010 5:41 am UTC

Christian soteriological inquiry: what is paradise, and when do people go there? I'm under two simultaneous impressions:

-Paradise is heaven, an alternate state from the temporal realm, to which people's immortal souls go swiftly after death, leaving their physical bodies behind.

-Paradise is here on Earth, in the Millennial future, when Christ reigns as king and the dead are physically resurrected before the Last Judgment and live eternally in renewed physical bodies.

Is only one true, and the other a widespread misconception? Are neither true, and I've oversimplified or misunderstood things entirely? Or are they both true? If so, how? Is Heaven actually just a sort of second-best paradise, pleasant enough for souls to wait in, but not as great as Earth will be in future, so souls eventually come down from heaven back into physical bodies to live an even more glorious existence as perfected physical beings?

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby duckshirt » Sat Jul 31, 2010 10:49 am UTC

Idhan wrote:Is only one true, and the other a widespread misconception?
Yes, the second is true and the first is the popular misconception... many Christians speak as if the first is true but probably realize that it's only a misconception and just forget; a similar thing happens, I think, with the 'Day of the Dead' holiday, which everyone speaks of but isn't really quite in line with most of their (Catholic) beliefs. Anyways, I don't really believe anything special happens to souls in between in the waiting time... Some say they go to a place called Sheol, the Catholics might say something else, but I don't know the basis for those.
lol everything matters
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Sat Jul 31, 2010 3:17 pm UTC

duckshirt wrote:Anyways, I don't really believe anything special happens to souls in between in the waiting time...

I've been taught that when we die we are instantly with the Lord. This is based on 2 Corinthians 5:6-9 and Philippians 1:23 where it implies that there is no middle between being alive and being with God.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby nitePhyyre » Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:47 am UTC

guenther wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:This does not change the fact that technology has done more to unite humanity in 100 years than religion has done in 6000.

I'm quite happy with the advancement of science and technology (in fact I make a living off of it). So I'll let this go since it's only relevant to the discussion if one believes that when these are advanced, religion is hurt. And you are right that I meant a negative correlation with regards to religiosity and prosperity.

It is relevant because you claimed that only religion has the capacity to reduce the human tendency to create us vs them conflicts. It does not have that capacity in the slightest. Science does.

guenther wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:I would like to see citations of this ample evidence

Open any science textbook and count how many things are being impeded by religion and how many things are not. I bet one of those numbers will be a lot bigger than the other. And maybe "changing the narrative" is whitewashing the process a bit, but from a large perspective I think that's precisely what's going on.

Open any survey on sex abuse and count how many kids are being molested and how many are not. By your logic unit there are more kids being abused than not, child predators aren't a problem. The whitewashing topic is interesting, I consider it church sanctioned blasphemy. I believe you have to take what ever bible you choose as a package deal. Sorry for the Godwin-esqe.

guenther wrote:This isn't quite on topic, but here's Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about science and politics. Basically he's making the case that Republicans are not anti-science. I couldn't figure out how strong the impact of Christianity is on the Republican party, but it seems the general wisdom is that it's pretty powerful. If such a powerful contributor was anti-science, I don't know how the party could be measurably pro-science.

No, no, no, he is saying that they really hate science, but really, really love money. Science makes money! :)

guenther wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:So the question is, does science inherently limit our ability to reason, similarly to faith?

No, but it also doesn't have the power to increase reason the way faith can.

ok, first of all
nitePhyyre wrote:So we now both agree that having faith will limit our ability to apply reason.
I'll give you that faith is one method of acquiring discipline. Although, so is science so the point is moot.
So the question is, does science inherently limit our ability to reason, similarly to faith?
quote out of context so that you can ignore the point to just say 'no you are wrong' is not cool.
Secondly, I was going to give you the 'faith enhances discipline' if you conceded that science if you conceded that 'science enhances discipline', you don't concede the point so I'm going to have to ask for citations.
Additionally, Faith does not increase reason. It is possible that faith enhances self-discipline, and that self-discipline enhances reason. To leave out the middle is essentially a lie by omission, because there are multiple paths to self-discipline.

guenther wrote:I should also point out that I don't regard reason as an ideal. If you do, then I understand why you don't like religion. Rather I see reason as a tool that helps us make better decisions, and I think faith can help there too. Ultimately I want people to make good decisions. (Of course "good" is not well defined here, but I'm really emphasizing the point that I'd rather see a metric that measures the quality of our choices rather than how well we can apply reason.)

I do think reason is an ideal. It is the ideal tool to use when making decisions.

guenther wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:First you redefine faith as discipline, now you choose to use a secular synonym of trust, instead of the definition that we were OBVIOUSLY discussing. I mean, I quoted and bolded the fucking dictionary. You STILL try to redefine faith to mean anything other than "belief without evidence". To top it off your newest redefinition "Being faithful is about being true to our commitment. Religions promote that we should commit to God and be true to that commitment." is predicated on accepting 'belief without evidence" definition of the word faith.

You are conflating faith and faithful. They are not the same thing. I am using the former to mean "belief without evidence" and the latter to mean "true to your commitment". And I believe I've been consistent on this usage since the beginning. What I'm saying is that people promote belief without evidence to get people to be true to their commitment. In other words, promoting faith is about fostering faithfulness.

I'll give religion one thing. The mental-backflips its adherents have to perform to justify their belief is astounding. It doesn't really matter if you have been consistent in how you've used the words, the point of language is for the words to be consistent between people. I can consistently refer to pizzas as 'dogs' and vice-versa it doesn't make me any less wrong. Moreover, it was pretty ironic to read this sentence "In other words, promoting faith is about fostering faithfulness" in the paragraph where you are lecturing me about conflating 'faith' and 'faithful'.

guenther wrote:Basically I'm trying to answer this question: Why has faith played such an important role throughout our history? If it can clearly limit our ability to reason through things, why would we hang on to such a detrimental practice? I believe that it's not detrimental and in fact useful. For starters, it can actually improve our ability to reason when it counters strong negative emotions like fear and despair.

Let's see, why would the people who have accepted that there is no reason to reason, reason away that belief system? Hmm, I wonder....

guenther wrote:But more importantly, it's about getting us to stick to a way of life that's been evolved to promote behavior that's good for the group. When we empower people to define their own morality through reason, they will be unable to counteract the huge bias we have to favor what's most useful for ourselves. So faith is a fix for our own mental deficiencies. We are naturally inclined to care more about selfish short-term needs, most especially in times of distress. Getting people to focus beyond that is very challenging. As an example, scientifically we know exactly how to fix the obesity problem, but we can't get people to actually do the hard work required. As far as I know, using science and reason to fight this strong internal bias has not proven very effective, and this is in an area where it will quite demonstrably improve their own life. The problem gets harder if we want to convince people to fight this bias to improve other people's lives. And it will get harder still if we move into a time of reduced prosperity and increased stress.

This is basically a fountain of ignorance.

The entire idea that humans are these selfish, self-interested, short-sighted people is flat out wrong.
A primer

If caloric intake versus caloric expenditure was the only factor involved, I doubt there would be many obese people. Sweet foods act as a drug on the brain. The way subsidies are structured unhealthy foods are much more expensive than healthy ones. Genetics. Habits, etc.

Let's assume for a second though that it really is that simple, fat people are fat because they are lazy pigs. All that is saying is that these people know the science, are ignoring it, and as a result their lives are demonstrably worse. Yeah, thats what I've been saying.

Even the final statement doesn't seem to be true in my experience. Since 2008 the world has been in the largest recession in nearly a century. Reduced prosperity, increased stress all around. In 2010 there was an earthquake in Haiti. The international aid that was sent to help was practically unprecedented. In the Discovery series The Colony, the volunteers were always low on food and water. Still even in the most critical shortages, they always gave water and almost always gave food to strangers. Hell they even gave to people who stabbed them in the back. Anecdotal, yes. If anyone has anything more compelling, it would liven up discussion.

duckshirt wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:...because of the KJV zealots. Hey! another example of religion fighting progress.
and you're just going to help them?

touché!

duckshirt wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:Yes, Jesus is telling a parable about a ruler or king of some sort. This king represents Jesus. In the parable the king (who is Jesus) says: "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." How exactly is this out of context?
Because the people he's commanding to "slay" are not the citizens (i.e. the ones representing humans), but servants (who don't really have a good real-world equivalent that I can think of right now), which is hard to tell when you only quote that one verse but easy to see if you read a few more before it.
Ok Let's just get the actual text here.
Spoiler:
Luke 19:11-27 wrote: 11While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 12He said: "A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas.[a]'Put this money to work,' he said, 'until I come back.'
14"But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, 'We don't want this man to be our king.'

15"He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.

16"The first one came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.'

17" 'Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. 'Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.'

18"The second came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned five more.'

19"His master answered, 'You take charge of five cities.'

20"Then another servant came and said, 'Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.'

22"His master replied, 'I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23Why then didn't you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?'

24"Then he said to those standing by, 'Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.'

25" 'Sir,' they said, 'he already has ten!'

26"He replied, 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. 27But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me."


Jesus told this parable to teach that the kingdom of heaven would not descend as soon as they entered the city as is written in the bible.

"A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return."
"A man of noble birth" = Jesus
"went to a distant country to have himself appointed king" = die and go to heaven
"and then to return" = second coming

"So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. 'Put this money to work,' he said, 'until I come back.'"
Servants = Christians
The giving of minas and putting them to work signifies giving of the holy spirit and/or simply doing god's work
"until I come back" = until the second coming.

"But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, 'We don't want this man to be our king.'"
Any sort of non believer, Atheist, Muslim, Wiccan, Pagan what have you.

""He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it."
Second Coming happens.

"The first one came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.'
'Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. 'Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.'"
'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.' = Depending on you take of the slash option above this means either number of converted or piousness.
...take charge of ten cities.'" = Large reward in heaven
... 'You take charge of five cities. = medium reward in heaven.

" "His master replied, 'I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn't you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?'" = anger over failure? I got nothing on this.

""Then he said to those standing by, 'Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.'
" 'Sir,' they said, 'he already has ten!'" = The rewards of of the non-pious Christians will be given to the pious ones, the non-pious get into heaven.

"He replied, 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me."
"He replied, 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. = The rewards of of the non-pious Christians will be given to the pious ones

"But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me"
Now what does this mean? You already know my interpretation.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Tue Aug 03, 2010 6:00 am UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:It is relevant because you claimed that only religion has the capacity to reduce the human tendency to create us vs them conflicts. It does not have that capacity in the slightest. Science does.

I didn't make the claim you indicate.

nitePhyyre wrote:Open any survey on sex abuse and count how many kids are being molested and how many are not. By your logic unit there are more kids being abused than not, child predators aren't a problem. The whitewashing topic is interesting, I consider it church sanctioned blasphemy. I believe you have to take what ever bible you choose as a package deal. Sorry for the Godwin-esqe.

I didn't say that wide religious opposition to scientific topics like evolution weren't a problem. In fact, I've voiced that it is a problem that I support fixing.

nitePhyyre wrote:quote out of context so that you can ignore the point to just say 'no you are wrong' is not cool.
Secondly, I was going to give you the 'faith enhances discipline' if you conceded that science if you conceded that 'science enhances discipline', you don't concede the point so I'm going to have to ask for citations.
Additionally, Faith does not increase reason. It is possible that faith enhances self-discipline, and that self-discipline enhances reason. To leave out the middle is essentially a lie by omission, because there are multiple paths to self-discipline.

If I am fearing for my life, I will be overcome with a strong force of irrationality. If I can quell that fear with a calming belief that God is protecting me, I can diminish the impact of the strong emotional bias. I argue that faith used in this way can help clear the mind and allow me to process my surroundings better. I have personally witnessed this in times of crisis (though not a fear-for-your-life crisis). Are you denying that this is possible?

As cool as science is, I can't imagine it's impact here is as strong. Science is best practiced when we are already level-headed, and I bet the whole scientific process goes out the window in times of heavy emotional stress.

nitePhyyre wrote:I do think reason is an ideal. It is the ideal tool to use when making decisions.

We have different ideologies. We will always differ on the value of religion and faith because of it.

nitePhyyre wrote:I'll give religion one thing. The mental-backflips its adherents have to perform to justify their belief is astounding. It doesn't really matter if you have been consistent in how you've used the words, the point of language is for the words to be consistent between people. I can consistently refer to pizzas as 'dogs' and vice-versa it doesn't make me any less wrong. Moreover, it was pretty ironic to read this sentence "In other words, promoting faith is about fostering faithfulness" in the paragraph where you are lecturing me about conflating 'faith' and 'faithful'.

This whole thing is just nonsense to me. I am being consistent in my usage, and I am being consistent with the dictionary. Apparently you don't believe that, but I don't know how to make my case any plainer.

nitePhyyre wrote:The entire idea that humans are these selfish, self-interested, short-sighted people is flat out wrong. A primer

I didn't say that we are selfish, self-interested, short-sighted people. I said we have a bias. But that bias can be overridden and we can do things in other people's interest. Empathy is a great example of how we do this. But we also have ways of turning off empathy for other people. I've tried very hard to get people on one side of the political divide to care about people on the other side, and they simply refuse to do so for umpteen million reasons. There is simply a lack of will to extend empathy to certain people.

By the way, I like the message of your link. In fact, it's essentially in line with my core philosophy that we need to care about one another, particularly across sharp divides. I bet the biggest source of irrationality we experience is the Us vs. Them divide which fuels contempt, intolerance, and hatred. We have the power to bring about more rationality by countering that tendency and extending empathy. I think people can help that goal by living out their faith that we should love one another. And I think people can help that by using the tools of science and reason to defend the value in an empathic civilization. I am not saying that everyone needs to get religion to be useful here. Rather I believe that religion has within it the tools to help.

nitePhyyre wrote:Let's assume for a second though that it really is that simple, fat people are fat because they are lazy pigs. All that is saying is that these people know the science, are ignoring it, and as a result their lives are demonstrably worse. Yeah, thats what I've been saying.

Good. Then we've found common ground. (Though you're the one calling overweight people lazy pigs, not me.)

And I don't know what the whole Haiti thing is that illuminating here. It demonstrates that in the face of immediate and immense devastation, our empathic wiring has a strong impact on our behavior. But how well do we do when the devastation isn't quite as immediate and immense? And how well do we respond when the impact is mainly on those on the other side of a sharp divide, and their suffering is actually aiding our political cause?

By the way, if you want to use economic aid as a metric for our ability to care about one another, how do you think science and reason stack up against faith in getting people to donate time and money?
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Phill » Tue Aug 03, 2010 12:16 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:"But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me"
Now what does this mean? You already know my interpretation.


If you interpret the parable as being about the second coming - which I think is reasonable, by the way - then "kill them here in front of me" actually happens after Jesus has returned. Why, then, would anyone who interpreted it in the way you interpreted it translate that as, "well, Jesus hasn't come yet... but let's kill everyone anyway!" But your own interpretation I think anyone who used that as a justification for the crusades is indeed wrong.

I think it's far more likely that this verse is referring to damnation / hell / whatever you want to call it. There's also a note in my Bible to say it may allude to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.

I think the problem is, people are people and will use whatever tools are available to accomplish their own ends. Religion, science - whatever. It's all good. Science isn't immune, for example back in the 19th century scientists supported racism against black people by measuring (weighing) their brains and claiming that lighter brains = less intelligent. Any data that didn't fit the theory were discarded or explained away as anomalies. For more info on this have a read of 'Rebuilding the Matrix' by Denis Alexander, it's not a light read but has a fair amount of detail without going over-the-top.

I also found a paper on the internet which looked into the so-called religious wars of history and concluded that in a large majority of cases, "religion" as such was not the primary factor. I'll try and look it out.

Edit: this is, I think, the paper I was talking about.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Whimsical Eloquence » Wed Aug 04, 2010 5:56 pm UTC

Phill wrote:I think the problem is, people are people and will use whatever tools are available to accomplish their own ends. Religion, science - whatever. It's all good. Science isn't immune, for example back in the 19th century scientists supported racism against black people by measuring (weighing) their brains and claiming that lighter brains = less intelligent. Any data that didn't fit the theory were discarded or explained away as anomalies. For more info on this have a read of 'Rebuilding the Matrix' by Denis Alexander, it's not a light read but has a fair amount of detail without going over-the-top.


Right, so information (true or false) can be used to justify prejudices, convince people to do x or y and to accomplish abominable and objectionable ends? On that we're agreed.

So, let's examine how each of the two systems we're talking about deals with information. Science has Empiricism, that evidence is found and from it theories formulated which are then tested against further evidence, it rejects all prejudice and cognitive bias. This is an independent criteria for the whether one should accept or deny information and let that govern one's actions and attitudes. Religion has Faith, which will validate any information even inconsistently with previous validation on the basis of it being "Divine Truth" despite this generally being done by human minds. Religion can both safeguard and reject prejudices, it really only matters whether or not they conform to the established doctrine as it were.

Do you see a problem? Information can be infinitely manipulated to get people to do things and to justify their attitudes. Religion can theoretically validate or invalidate any information making it open to making people DO anything. Science has no such manipulation. The only it can be used for is to act on independently verifiable truth with a set criteria or the adoption of such truth. Indeed, Religion actively basis itself on the idea of making exemptions for ordinary truths. "There exist immutable physical laws", "I require evidence" or "Fairies don't exist" are truths (though really any truth works for this) for which exemptions can be made on the grounds of Faith. Therefore, Religion is not just open to manipulation in itself but corrupts other systems allowing them to be manipulated.

As for the example which you gave: I can quite justifiably say "That wasn't Science". This is not the same as when the Crusades are dredged up and defender of Religion exclaims "That wasn't Religion". The point is that there is a definition of what Science is. What those people did wasn't science. They had existing prejudices and manipulated data according to this. This doesn't fit the earlier definition of Science. Now I'm sure you'd make a similar argument for Religion, that they merely used the banner of Religion to justify what they did. The point is that if they acted on Faith, if they took something in Faith even if it didn't fit with established Orthodoxy then they were acting on the same principle of ALL Religion.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Wed Aug 04, 2010 7:16 pm UTC

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:Therefore, Religion is not just open to manipulation in itself but corrupts other systems allowing them to be manipulated.

Religion would corrupt a system of truth built purely from science. But I don't think many people have such systems of truth. Our society is awash in notions that are measurably very important but are completely unscientific. The whole concept of morality for example. Is homosexuality morally permissible? What does the science say? It says nothing because it's not a scientific inquiry. But how many people remain agnostic on this topic? Politically you get people on both sides that treat their position as 100% truth even though the empirical truth is not defined.

So the problem you attribute with religion is really a problem with human cognition. We create bubbles of belief that we treat as true even though they have no physical basis whatsoever. We behave as if our shared subjective opinions are objective facts. Science can help us pierce through these bubbles and measure true objective facts. But as powerful as this process is, it's very expensive in terms of time, money, man-power, and energy. And, as I pointed out earlier, this tool used in the role of a personal guide to life is completely untested. So when people advance science as powerful in this role, ironically they're being very unscientific.

Another point about the bubbles, I think they exist because they allow us to arrange the world in terms that help us make better choices. (I describe this as encoding wisdom.) We care if a person is trust worthy, but that's a completely subjective quality. We care if flying on an airplane is dangerous, but again that's a subjective judgment. We can quantify danger in terms of deaths/injuries per year or whatever, and this would help a computer make algorithmic, rational decisions. But unfortunately our brains don't work that way, and we've made the data harder to process for most people. If you say "Doing X leads to 1000 deaths per year", they still want to know if it's dangerous. That's because "dangerous" contains subjective information that encodes wisdom (a belief about what is wise to do), not simply objective facts. If we pierce the bubble, we are actually stripping away the encoded wisdom as well. (Of course, people can use explicit wisdom based on clear metrics and objective data, like don't do X if the deaths/year are bigger than Y. But crafting an entire wisdom of life from this is untested as I mentioned above.)

In my opinion, what really matters to me is the quality of people's choices. Doing something based on perceived truths from bubble narratives is OK if it leads people to live better lives (though I think manufacturing bubbles for this purpose would lead to very bad results). If someone wants to claim that something fundamental to religion, like faith, limits the quality of our choices, then I'd like to know by what metric of goodness and how that's scientifically backed up.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby duckshirt » Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:44 pm UTC

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:Religion has Faith, which will validate any information even inconsistently with previous validation on the basis of it being "Divine Truth" despite this generally being done by human minds.
This has probably been discussed already, but I don't think this is the correct definition of "faith." It doesn't really match the dictionary definition (think of when you might say "I have faith in you" to a friend) or the definition found in the Bible; it's more synonymous with a confidence, but in something that's at least justified. With respect to Christianity, "faith" is having the confidence to do things that you know believe are good but don't have a 100% proof at hand. Replace "faith" with "very blind faith" in your arguments and it might fit better...
Information can be infinitely manipulated to get people to do things and to justify their attitudes. Religion can theoretically validate or invalidate any information making it open to making people DO anything.

Which religion? This argument may work on some religions but not "religion" in general. In protestantism (maybe Catholicism too, again I am hopelessly uninformed about their doctrine), Martin Luther established five solas, one of which is sola scriptura, which says that all information necessary for salvation is contained in the Bible (even less, actually, but he accepted anything in the whole as useful in some way Bible), which can't be modified. There is no way, therefore, that a present person can manipulate the doctrine for his own good.
As for the example which you gave: I can quite justifiably say "That wasn't Science". This is not the same as when the Crusades are dredged up and defender of Religion exclaims "That wasn't Religion". The point is that there is a definition of what Science is.
It is true that you "religion" in that sense doesn't have a nice definition like "science" does (which is why it's annoying when people just use the term "religion," as if it's all just one big thing), but something like "Christian doctrine" does. Therefore, you can say "that wasn't correct Christian doctrine," because you actually can point to parts of Christian doctrine that preclude it from fitting the definition.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby quantumcat42 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 3:41 pm UTC

Whimsical Eloquence, I'm not sure you're holding Science and Religion to the same standard. In your description of the two, the merits of the scientific approach are evaluated in a very idealized context (acted out by perfectly rational agents with precise, accurate data) while the religious approach is described in a more down-to-earth context (with fallible agents guessing at the meanings of ancient texts). Of course the ideal scientific approach is superior to the non-ideal religious approach, just as the ideal religious approach (with actual access to a "cosmic cheat sheet") is superior to a non-ideal scientific approach (with inaccurate data, personal bias, and incorrect presuppositions).

I have absolutely no argument with the idea that the feedback in the empirical approach allows it to evaluate physical truth claims without appeals to outside information -- and personally consider that a more reliable approach than the "phone a friend" lifeline (unless this friend truly is omniscient and the phone connection is good) -- but discussing the relative rolling abilities of a normal orange and perfectly spherical apple is hardly a useful approach.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby IcedT » Sat Aug 07, 2010 4:09 am UTC

Frankly, I think religion is a cultural phenomenon much like language, mores, and customs. Which is to say, they're completely arbitrary, based on nothing, and constantly subject to change. This is why most arguments in favor of it go something like 'it's better to have something arbitrary than nothing at all.'

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Sat Aug 07, 2010 6:39 am UTC

I think language is an interesting analogy. It seems completely arbitrary how we define words, but there's clearly some utility to it. For example, common words aren't 50 syllables long. So the long process of doing things with no basis other than because people before us did the same has crafted a language with a good fitness.

Of course, it seems that once a language achieves a certain level of fitness, it's not better or worse than any other language above that bar. In which case, the choice among those languages is arbitrary.

One other analogy with language. While some of the utility of a language is governed by it's efficiencies in communication (among other metrics), a big part of the utility comes from many people sharing a language. It's better to have everyone speaking one common sub-par language than everyone speaking a more optimal but unique language. It seems reasonable that the same is true for morality since it's a social construct like language. Religious tools have demonstrated a strong capacity for getting people to align their moral beliefs. But among the areligious, I've found little interest in this, and in fact a strong promotion for everyone deciding for themselves what's moral.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Azshade » Wed Aug 18, 2010 2:21 pm UTC

Had a thought today.
Quick, tell me the first man and woman on earth according to christianity. Adam and Even, right? Here then is my question. Adam and Eve are 'English' names. What are the 'original' names for Adam and Eve in whatever language Genesis was originally written? (I think Greek?) Was it still Adam and Eve or was it something different? And then, assuming it wasn't Adam and Eve, how(who) translated the names to Adam and Eve? I mean it's easy to translate words like nouns (english to japanese: dog inu water mizu nose hana etc)... but names?

Just curious if anyone has any thoughts or sources.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby pheonixduprese » Wed Aug 18, 2010 2:30 pm UTC

Azshade wrote:Had a thought today.
Quick, tell me the first man and woman on earth according to christianity. Adam and Even, right? Here then is my question. Adam and Eve are 'English' names. What are the 'original' names for Adam and Eve in whatever language Genesis was originally written? (I think Greek?) Was it still Adam and Eve or was it something different? And then, assuming it wasn't Adam and Eve, how(who) translated the names to Adam and Eve? I mean it's easy to translate words like nouns (english to japanese: dog inu water mizu nose hana etc)... but names?

Just curious if anyone has any thoughts or sources.


First, Adam and Eve are both Hebrew-ish names, but they originally didn't have names. The writer of Genesis, which is commonly attributed to Moses, was told by God their name, but it wasn't in Hebrew, or for that matter any language which man speaks. (Laymans terms- God "zapped" the knowledge into Moses, sorta. Also, note that this is what I have been taught and also what I've deducted.) Therefore Moses was responsible for putting the words into something man could understand, and he came up with Adam, which means "dust, man, mankind" in Hebrew, and Chava (angelicised Eve) which means "living one." Genesis was written in Hebrew (and some Aramaic), as was all of the Old Testament (Torah and Tanakh) and the New Testament was written in Ancient Greek as well as some Aramaic.
I think that sums it up.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:00 am UTC

Wat. Where are you getting that?
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Not even sporange.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby pheonixduprese » Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:27 am UTC

Getting what? The zapping thing?
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Coffee Stain » Wed Sep 08, 2010 10:08 am UTC

Greyarcher wrote:
Coffee Stain wrote:The Christian (or perhaps theist) idea, I think, for why we should use the word 'faith' vs. 'trust,' is that indeed faith implies belief with a lack of evidence, although perhaps not a total lack. I'll frame this as a separate issue from the plausible rejection of all religions due to likely Naturalistic explanations for their origins. The belief that there exists a religion that could be true is a hugely different prior than the belief that all are likely false, and leads to an entirely different system for picking a particular religion from the masses.
It's not so much that "all are likely false", but that choosing one religion often implies--or even necessitates--a belief that all other deities are false. But what if we then try and explain the origin of the stories and belief in these other [false] deities? It seems that such an explanation would tell a story about humans that would naturally account for and discredit one's own deity as well.

I agree, "faith" has the connotations you mentioned, and is closely tied to religious belief. That is partially why I used "trust"--because it does not give special, favorable conditions to religious belief, but judges it impartially like other beliefs.* Also, "trust" is more about people than the divine. It's about judging humans and whether their character and testimony may be trusted ('They said, "A god spoke to Bob"; is it reasonable to trust them, or are they too credulous?'). This is a bit troublesome when we don't personally know the humans in question, and even more problematic when we consider that across the world humans may have created fictional deities that acquired countless believers.

If we grant as the relevant case deities that belong to philosophies in which there is only one Deity, the question becomes simpler. If we go so far as to grant those philosophies greater credence, then the answer becomes clearer, although perhaps some will get caught up with that "if." At the very least, the Monotheistic Deity more elegantly avoids the objection, perhaps most obviously from the fact that there are less entities to prove! And the One entity that is said to exist by these various religions, as is often claimed by their respective historical greats, is owed many of his most important attributes by the existential reality that we occupy; not excluding, in addition to, or even preceding the type of historical testimonies you describe. Create a religion that claims the existence of a contingent and temporal (if non-physical) entity that represents, say, the Sun, and you owe an account for not only why your being has the contingent and temporal attributes he has, but also for why the explanatory power of a ball of fusion is not sufficient. Create a religion that claims the existence of a noncontingent, eternal entity that represents only itself, to which things such as the Sun owes their existence, and whose attributes are at least supposed to be perceived in a way other than your testimony itself, then the problem is reduced only to that of sufficient explanatory power, and you subject your claim to the ability of others to perceive Him in the same way.

The issue of explaining the origins of beliefs about Him, once you believe in Him, then becomes exclusively a Theological one. The waxing and waning of theological thought will be observable in successively larger differences as the believer looks further and further from his own theological position, allowing the believer to catch at least a glimpse of the poor epistemic virtues that lead to bad theology; and, the further he glimpses, a realization of the amount of scrutiny he must apply to his own beliefs. My point is that any scrutiny he applies, either to his own or others' beliefs about the particular attributes of such a Deity, would hardly qualify as a reason to doubt the general existence of Him.

If we place importance on "what is true" or "what should be believed" then we should not compromise our principles when it comes to evaluating religious belief. However, the phrase "what should be believed" might lead someone to invoke a train of thought like Pascal's Wager.
Wager-style thoughts try to play to our hopes and fears. Admittedly, if we find a religion a little plausible, Wager-style thoughts may push us towards it. But this is just a disingenuous attempt to bypass reasonable skepticism with stories of great rewards and/or punishments. It should be given no credit, since random events may be interpreted as providence, and promised rewards/punishments often come after death and thus cannot even be confirmed.

"What should be believed," if it is indeed a superset of "what is true" (or, alternatively, "what appears to me to be true given what I observe"), would probably find its place in types of actions that are more intrinsically moral than suggested Pascal's Wager. The Wager implies massive, self-serving self-delusion on such a scale that it seems like it is only those who support it who don't need to use it to attain belief. They already believe in God and eternal rewards for other reasons, and the only people they need to delude are those who don't hold those reasons. As a Christian, I might simply say that the intellectual and morally personal difficulties present to an individual over the matter are far more difficult that can be solved by such a wager. The sort of wager I take is one I am hardly able to articulate, that applies very little to others, but (perhaps as a result) applies very well to myself. I could provide a more relaxed modern philosophical approach to the wager, but it hardly goes as far as I (as well as some of the relevant scriptures) would take it.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby teacupdk » Thu Sep 09, 2010 10:04 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:I would like to see citations of this ample evidence. I think people like Galileo, Copernicus, early Christians, would take issue on use of the phrase "simply change their narrative". So it doesn't really tell us anything. Religion doesn't simply change, they get dragged, kicking and screaming, and they only 'simply' change when it is the last possible thing they can do to maintain any shred of credibility. Unless of course the science happens to sound like the religion, like the big bang. Then religion quickly jumps on that band wagon, which shows us they are trying to describe the world objectively. Or to be precise, religion tell us how the world is, and how it ought to be.


this was mentioned a while ago, but I'll just quickly...
For several reasons I believe religion goes hand in hand with conservatism and even enhances it at times... like with the whole earth being round incident..
But when christians are constantly attacked for having an irrational faith, they defend themselves through let's say saying that Big bang is a way in which the bible and science doesn't clash... thus the bible does not give us a definiton of how the world is, some christians try to interpret(6000 years and the likes), but this is not a defining factor for christians,, those i know just say that what we learn from the bible is that God created the earth,, They could care less as to how and when..
I don't think it's jumping on a band wagon, they just accepts the science, which is actually not that seldom... sure conservatists use religion to deny science.. That has nothing to do with real christianity, and i would hope that people could see a differnce between the real christians and those who're christian through culture


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