I don't understand the faith people put in religious texts

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby brenok » Thu Feb 09, 2012 4:17 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Well, some people like being religious. I feel like this is like asking what the advantages of chocolate ice cream are over vanilla ice cream.


I didn't see any people trying to convince others that chocolate is better than vanilla.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Zamfir » Thu Feb 09, 2012 4:37 pm UTC

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:01 pm UTC

Tomo wrote:This.. might be an aside for another thread, but ideally shouldn't all cultures wither and die? What purpose do they serve?
Shouldn't all life wither and die? What purpose does it serve?

Assuming you find a purpose to life, the same purpose is probably applicable to culture. It reaffirms who we are, gives us a sense of identity, a sense of self, a sense of worth. Its purpose is that some of us enjoy it, and value it. It doesn't need to serve any greater function than that.
DSenette wrote:if you believe in a god that has literally no effect on anything, anywhere, at any time, in any way (even in the after life) then your belief in god is EXACTLY the same as not believing in god. the results are exactly the same. at which point you could conceivably enact humanist values universally, but, then what's the point of the added god bit?
Who's to say? Maybe the God bit is very important to you. And maybe you do believe in an afterlife; we can imagine one that doesn't interfere with humanistic values.
DSenette wrote:what's the point of them being religiously ingrained values? why can't they just be values? humanist parents instill humanist values in their children every day. without the specter of god and eternal punishment. are these values somehow less valid?
No. Are they somehow more valid? That's what I'm asking.
DSenette wrote:what are the religious values that you're hoping to continue being passed down? is the amish rejection of technology a good thing? what are the advantages of the conservative jewish rules that are being passed down? is it actually to anyone's benefit to eat kosher? i mean, is it really a big deal for me to eat meat with a glass of milk?
It's to the benefit of the people who do it, and want to do it, and continue to do it regardless of the deliciousness of bacon. Some people prefer rules.

Actually, this brings up a great point; let's imagine a community of technology-hating hippies. They think that things like computers and cell-phones and laptops have detached us from each other, so they've created a culture of secular, atheist luddites who live out in the boonies and refuse to use anything digital. Now, just to make this all ethically simple, we'll pretend that when they or their kids get sick, they still go to the hospital--they still eat properly pasteurized food, they get vaccinated, they do all the right and proper things we'd expect from good healthy hippies--and if one of their kids say 'fuck this, I want an i-phone', they've got no problem with letting them go (of course, you can't live in the community if you have one).

Now, is it somehow unethical or wrong for this community to have children? To teach children these values? If not, does it suddenly become unethical the moment they stop being atheists?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Jave D » Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:03 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:
TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:This is beside Hippo's point. Sure, there are plenty of people who commit evil because of religion. But there are plenty of people who are religious and who don't commit those evils, which is what Hippo is trying to show.

Cool, I don't disagree with that.

We still have better tools than religion to gain the benefits that religion provides, with less negatives.


And what tool provides an improved conscious spiritual contact? What tools that religion doesn't provide allow me to express my faith in God?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby DSenette » Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:39 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
DSenette wrote:if you believe in a god that has literally no effect on anything, anywhere, at any time, in any way (even in the after life) then your belief in god is EXACTLY the same as not believing in god. the results are exactly the same. at which point you could conceivably enact humanist values universally, but, then what's the point of the added god bit?
Who's to say? Maybe the God bit is very important to you. And maybe you do believe in an afterlife; we can imagine one that doesn't interfere with humanistic values.
a belief in the after life has nothing to do with a belief that god, or following that god's rules will get you there.

i think the point of the concept is asking why the god bit is very important. if everything else that has ever been viewed as religion or typically associated there with, is no longer applicable (like the religious texts, dogmas, rules, etc...) then what's the benefit of believing in an unmeasurable, unprovable god that has literally no possibility of effecting anything? i'm actually asking what the benefit is associated with holding that belief, when not holding the belief nets the same result.

also, you TOTALLY can imagine a religious structure that doesn't interfere with humanistic values. like the universalist unitarians. the UU's are about as close to a secular humanist as you can get (in general).


The Great Hippo wrote:
DSenette wrote:what's the point of them being religiously ingrained values? why can't they just be values? humanist parents instill humanist values in their children every day. without the specter of god and eternal punishment. are these values somehow less valid?
No. Are they somehow more valid? That's what I'm asking.
are the religiously ingrained values somehow more valid? because on average, there are a lot of values that are ingrained via religion that are less beneficial.


The Great Hippo wrote:
DSenette wrote:what are the religious values that you're hoping to continue being passed down? is the amish rejection of technology a good thing? what are the advantages of the conservative jewish rules that are being passed down? is it actually to anyone's benefit to eat kosher? i mean, is it really a big deal for me to eat meat with a glass of milk?
It's to the benefit of the people who do it, and want to do it, and continue to do it regardless of the deliciousness of bacon. Some people prefer rules.

Actually, this brings up a great point; let's imagine a community of technology-hating hippies. They think that things like computers and cell-phones and laptops have detached us from each other, so they've created a culture of secular, atheist luddites who live out in the boonies and refuse to use anything digital. Now, just to make this all ethically simple, we'll pretend that when they or their kids get sick, they still go to the hospital--they still eat properly pasteurized food, they get vaccinated, they do all the right and proper things we'd expect from good healthy hippies--and if one of their kids say 'fuck this, I want an i-phone', they've got no problem with letting them go (of course, you can't live in the community if you have one).

Now, is it somehow unethical or wrong for this community to have children? To teach children these values? If not, does it suddenly become unethical the moment they stop being atheists?

the part at the end of your example is the bit that makes the difference. if the response of the parent is "whatever floats your boat", then there's not a problem with teaching the values that you're talking about. it's when those values are taught as THE ONLY values, and the ONLY correct way to do anything, and any questioning of those values and any inclination to choose a different option for oneself is met with resistance or punishment, that there is a problem. thats when it's indoctrination. indoctrination can happen with any value system. however, historically it's been more prevailant in religious cultures.

increased education in critical thinking, rational thought, free thought, the scientific method, et al tends to reduce the propensity for indoctrination as generations continue.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby LaserGuy » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:46 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:i think the point of the concept is asking why the god bit is very important. if everything else that has ever been viewed as religion or typically associated there with, is no longer applicable (like the religious texts, dogmas, rules, etc...) then what's the benefit of believing in an unmeasurable, unprovable god that has literally no possibility of effecting anything? i'm actually asking what the benefit is associated with holding that belief, when not holding the belief nets the same result.


Although I normally fall on the other side of the arguments for this, I think I'm going to take a stab at this one. I apologize, this argument is probably not fully coherent yet.

Let's start though, with something else that is also unmeasurable and unprovable. Canada. Canada is not a physical thing; it is a concept, but it is also a concept that only has meaning because we, collectively, agree that it has meaning. There's a big mass of land, with a lot of people spread out over it, with many different local cultures, dialects, etc., that we have collectively drawn a big circle around and called Canada. But it's entirely arbitrary. If someone had never heard of a country, or the concept of a country, this idea would be nonsense to them (as it was, to a significant extent with the First Nations/Native Americans). But I don't think anyone would deny that the concept of nationhood is a very useful one indeed. It creates social cohesion between distant groups who might otherwise compete with each other. It allows us to pool resources from much larger populations to undertake projects that benefit everyone but that would be too expensive for any individual community to undertake. It standardizes laws, so that people traveling from one place to another will not get caught by some local peculiarity. It is a fiction, but it is a useful fiction.

Religion is a similar form of fiction. It provides an opportunity to engage with people who might otherwise never cross paths with you. It provides a network of random strangers who might, simply because they identify with your group, might be willing to provide you with assistance when you need it, and lets people pool resources for community works. And yes, like nations, religious groups have their own particular set of laws, customs, and creeds, some of which are irrational, and others of which are harmful. And I don't think that anyone would argue that there isn't significant merit in purging religions (and nations) of the laws and customs that are clearly detrimental, but that doesn't necessarily mean we need to give up the concept of a religions or nations themselves. If someone says "I believe in God", you might well take that not as a statement of someone expressing a real truth in the world, but as someone reinforcing their group identity, much like how a Canadian might say "I believe that the Leafs are going to win the Stanley Cup", even though that statement is no more likely to be true than the existence of God is. It's also worth pointing out that, taking this from a purely sociological point of view, the fact that the creeds and dogmas of religion have changed over time is expected, because it is not a fixed structure, but rather is a cultural phenomenon. It makes no more sense to ask a Christian why they don't follow the Leviticus rules than it does to ask a Canadian why they aren't a fur trader--these things are part of the historical legacy of the culture, but aren't part of the culture as is practiced today. Even supposed Biblical literalists will have happily jettisoned huge swaths of Scripture in the name of cultural expediency. Unsurprisingly, this pattern is pretty consistent across all religions: the modern dogmas and rituals have long since supplanted the ancient texts.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Zcorp » Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:13 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:You've asserted that if I believe in God, but do so in such a way that allows me to maintain humanistic principles--believe in a God that pushes humanistic principles, in scripture that emphasizes humanistic principles, behave in such a way that besides the belief in God, I am indistinguishable from a humanistic--then my belief is meaningless and has no effect.
You've defined the belief in God as meaningless yourself. I've asked you what you mean by God, I've given you association and definitions of God, and you in this discussion have thrown all of those associations and definitions out. When you remove every concept that is meant or associated with the word you are left with nothing. You've defined God as nothing so that it can merge with Humanism. By defining and associating God with nothing you made the belief meaningless. You need to tell me what you (not you personally the hypothetical individual) believe and then we can find out how that compares to reality and improving human well-being.



This is part of what confuses me about your stance, because it implies that humanism can only come from a critical, secular point of view, and any other way of getting there is void.

Yes, I am saying that the only way to improve human well-being is to seek out and understand what improves human well-being. That requires a critical point of view, a scientific one even. As that is what science does, it seeks truth. Or it is a process, the best one we have, for seeking truth.

What confuses me is that you seem to be arguing is that acting through essentially random beliefs we can are acting in accordance with humanism, simply because our intention is to improve human well-being ignoring the real effect of our actions.


The other thing that confounds me is that you don't assign much value to parents passing on religiously-ingrained values to their children. Can you distinguish between Jewish culture and Jewish religion? Would you be happy with us passing on traditional, conservative Jewish culture--including the rules--but somehow removing the belief-in-God part? Would you be okay with the Amish rejection of technology if the Amish were doing it not on behalf of God, but just because that was their culture? Or should all of these cultures ideally wither and die?
If our goal is to improve human well-being we should remove aspects of our culture that decrease human well-being or hinder our ability to further improve human well-being.

Do you believe that the Amish have superior well-being than groups that embrace technology? Because they reject it?

When I combine these two things--faith and cultural value with no impact on humanistic values are meaningless, and parents shouldn't pass on meaningless values or values contrary to humanism--what I end up with is: "Parents shouldn't pass on meaningless values or values that are in contradiction to humanism to their children. Parents should only pass on humanism to their children. Anything else is bad."

Am I misrepresenting you? If so, could you clarify the above statement to more accurately depict what you think parents should and should not pass on to their children?

Understanding how we got where we are isn't meaningless. If our goal is to improve human well-being we should discuss what we as a society have learned toward that end with our youth. Including where we have made mistakes in the past and how we have come to the conclusions we have reached today. As well as how we hope to further improve our well-being. And not only with our Youth these are things we should be discussing frequently as adults.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby jseah » Thu Feb 09, 2012 10:17 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:the part at the end of your example is the bit that makes the difference. if the response of the parent is "whatever floats your boat", then there's not a problem with teaching the values that you're talking about.

I would disagree with this bit.

There are other reasons to reject certain types of behaviour beyond simple ethics. (ethics referring to the basic laws that allow society to function at all. Murder/Theft/Fraud need to be punished, regardless of the perpetrator's beliefs. )

While GreatHippo's example only rejects digital media, I will start by making a modification that GreatHippo eliminates in his example. So do keep in mind that I am not referring to his example.
The addition is the refusal of vaccinations.

Medical research clearly shows that vaccinations require a large proportion of the population to be vaccinated in order for herd immunity to work. (the disease cannot spread because not enough people are susceptible) Therefore, refusing to be vaccinated poses a risk to wider society in general by increasing the number of susceptible people, and directly to the unvaccinated children in particular. It can be argued that such a risk cannot be tolerated for the mere reason of preserving cultural identity.

Hence, even if a practice causes little direct harm, it can still be overridden if it affects society in general.

Now, back to GreatHippo's example. The rejection of digital media restricts the ability of people who grew up in that environment from succeeding in an information age world. If your parents lived through WW2, they likely did not have access to computers as they grew up; as mine grew up without.
I am more proficient with nearly everything to do with computers and especially the internet than both my parents, despite my main use of it being for entertainment and some literature searches. While my father uses it for his research work every day. My hunch is that this is because I grew up around computers (386s running MS-DOS, but still computers) while they did not. Of everyone I knew throughout school and university, a vast majority of them have greater familiarity with computers than their parents. (I should say all, but just because I cannot recall any...)

In a world that will likely only involve more digital media and more computer use, the children who grew up in GreatHippo's hypothetical hippie homes will be majorly disadvantaged towards higher education, jobs and eventually social life. What part of the new generation's social and working life does NOT involve digital media in some way? Those parts exist, like pubs and alcohol will continue to flourish, but nearly everything has been affected.
These people deprive their children of a learning opportunity that is critical to success now and will only be more critical in the future. My parent's generations, the current decision makers of society, grapple with the 'generation gap' and already we do not fully understand each other. One has only to look at the current state of internet freedom and computer security to know that a large proportion of working adults of the older generation who make our digital rights laws and administer security fail to understand how the internet works. (references chat logs between Anonymous and the president of a security firm that got hacked and had their emails released; she took a long time to understand that torrents are not centralized)

While the case is certainly not as strong as forgoing compulsory education, the argument is similar.
Some things have become so fundamental to our society that NOT giving your children exposure to it when readily available, or worse prohibiting it, even by implication (because no young kid will ask for an ipod when his parents think its the worst thing in the world; teenagers probably will just because), becomes problematic.
Basic education passed that point last century. Not giving your kid an education is not tolerable by society anymore.
Digital media is not there yet, but it may be in the future. Ask again in twenty years when this generation is writing the laws.


The argument can be extended to large cultural and religious differences. While I don't think believing in the supernatural has a direct problem, the cultural differences between a devout christian/muslim/taoist/atheist can be great enough to cause tension. When a society is structured in one way, say free-market-ish democratic-ish Western countries, certain practices are unacceptable even if they do not cause any direct harm but because they prevent integration into the society.

Conflicts in society due to cultural differences (often divided along racial and religious lines) are bad. They cause things like racial riots when in extremes and things like segregation and lack of understanding when more minor. Either we change how our society and possibly humans work to eliminate this friction or we reduce those cultural differences.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby morriswalters » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:11 pm UTC

So the people who create vaccines also create bio weapons. Which have the potential to do more harm than not vaccinating your kids. What potential problems can occur without Religion? Can anyone cite an example of a major civilization absent the Religious trappings to compare to what we have today?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby jseah » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:41 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:So the people who create vaccines also create bio weapons. Which have the potential to do more harm than not vaccinating your kids. What potential problems can occur without Religion? Can anyone cite an example of a major civilization absent the Religious trappings to compare to what we have today?

Might like to mention that bioweapons requiring the research that biochemists do haven't caused widespread harm.

Anthrax mail doesn't count since it doesn't need too complicated stuff to do. And didn't affect all that many people.
Compare to plagues of the past.

Vaccines, while certainly at least indirectly helping bioweapons research, have saved many lives and improve wellbeing in general simply due to less ill health.


Unintended consequences will always arise, yet if we never try to fix the problems and difficulties we face, they'll never get fixed at all. There will be new problems, but those are for the next generation to fix.

EDIT:
I have no idea what problems a society without religion will face. It might not even be a problem that we can identify as being caused by a lack of religion.

Nevertheless, the problems that society faces when there are major cultural differences is something that has been quite clearly demonstrated. (let me look that up first, I am just going by what happened in Malaysia/Singapore where I grew up) We ought to solve the problem, or try to mitigate it.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:01 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:You've defined the belief in God as meaningless yourself. I've asked you what you mean by God, I've given you association and definitions of God, and you in this discussion have thrown all of those associations and definitions out. When you remove every concept that is meant or associated with the word you are left with nothing. You've defined God as nothing so that it can merge with Humanism. By defining and associating God with nothing you made the belief meaningless. You need to tell me what you (not you personally the hypothetical individual) believe and then we can find out how that compares to reality and improving human well-being.
I've asked you to imagine a humanistic God who sits at the top of a religion that embodies humanistic principles. This isn't incredibly hard. If you want a simple example, then imagine a Christian who believes that the only thing we can take for granted about what God wants us to do is that He wants humans to prosper and improve themselves while they exist on earth; therefore, the Christian analyzes the best set of principles to improve humanity's lot, and embraces humanism to that end. They do this because they believe God told them to do so.
Zcorp wrote:Yes, I am saying that the only way to improve human well-being is to seek out and understand what improves human well-being. That requires a critical point of view, a scientific one even. As that is what science does, it seeks truth. Or it is a process, the best one we have, for seeking truth.
I can't embrace science as a tool toward improvement of humans because God told me to?
Zcorp wrote:If our goal is to improve human well-being we should remove aspects of our culture that decrease human well-being or hinder our ability to further improve human well-being.

Do you believe that the Amish have superior well-being than groups that embrace technology? Because they reject it?
I believe they believe they have superior well-being, and I believe you believe they don't. I suspect what the Amish do is silly, and ultimately to their detriment, but I think it's integral that we allow them the opportunity to fail or prosper--pressuring them to do otherwise is an expression of paternalism I am not comfortable with. I do not know what is best for the Amish people; it's not until they demonstrate behavior that is clearly abusive that I feel any need to step in and tell them how they should arrange their lives.
Zcorp wrote:Understanding how we got where we are isn't meaningless. If our goal is to improve human well-being we should discuss what we as a society have learned toward that end with our youth. Including where we have made mistakes in the past and how we have come to the conclusions we have reached today. As well as how we hope to further improve our well-being. And not only with our Youth these are things we should be discussing frequently as adults.
Let me ask this another way: Are you opposed to women wearing burkas? Are you opposed to women passing this tradition down to other women, even when they remain supportive of those children who choose not to wear burkas--and even if, hypothetically, this was purely a non-religious aspect of culture?

If you oppose this, I think I've come to understand where the core of our disagreement is, and I don't think it's a gap I can bridge.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby ThunderOfCondemnation » Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:51 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Zcorp wrote:If our goal is to improve human well-being we should remove aspects of our culture that decrease human well-being or hinder our ability to further improve human well-being.

Do you believe that the Amish have superior well-being than groups that embrace technology? Because they reject it?


I believe they believe they have superior well-being, and I believe you believe they don't. I suspect what the Amish do is silly, and ultimately to their detriment, but I think it's integral that we allow them the opportunity to fail or prosper--pressuring them to do otherwise is an expression of paternalism I am not comfortable with. I do not know what is best for the Amish people; it's not until they demonstrate behavior that is clearly abusive that I feel any need to step in and tell them how they should arrange their lives.


No, we should not allow "them" the opportunity to fail or prosper, because these parents pass on their irrational, harmful views to their children, who are thereby prevented from having a better life. We should not allow these enemies of progress to continue their indoctrination.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby LaserGuy » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:39 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:I've asked you to imagine a humanistic God who sits at the top of a religion that embodies humanistic principles. This isn't incredibly hard. If you want a simple example, then imagine a Christian who believes that the only thing we can take for granted about what God wants us to do is that He wants humans to prosper and improve themselves while they exist on earth; therefore, the Christian analyzes the best set of principles to improve humanity's lot, and embraces humanism to that end. They do this because they believe God told them to do so.


I think the question is: in what sense of the term could this person be reasonably classified as a Christian? I mean, if that's the only thing they believe, they could just as easily call themselves a Buddhist, and it would still probably be an accurate statement.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Zcorp » Fri Feb 10, 2012 7:08 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:I've asked you to imagine a humanistic God who sits at the top of a religion that embodies humanistic principles. This isn't incredibly hard. If you want a simple example, then imagine a Christian who believes that the only thing we can take for granted about what God wants us to do is that He wants humans to prosper and improve themselves while they exist on earth; therefore, the Christian analyzes the best set of principles to improve humanity's lot, and embraces humanism to that end. They do this because they believe God told them to do so.

LaserGuy answered this pretty much how I would. I'd only like to add that the Christian God is fairly well defined. Christianity does not embrace humanistic principles. If you are imagining a God that embodies humanistic principles you need to define what you mean by God. Explain to me his behaviors, his beliefs, his commandments, who is this god? You still haven't defined it.

You still haven't given a reason for why someone, who shares all values with humanism, then makes up or believes a god that doesn't currently exist in our culture for a purpose you have yet to explain.

I can't embrace science as a tool toward improvement of humans because God told me to?
He doesn't. No god ever has. Where is this god? Tell me about this god, I'm curious, please... enlighten us.


I believe they believe they have superior well-being, and I believe you believe they don't. I suspect what the Amish do is silly, and ultimately to their detriment, but I think it's integral that we allow them the opportunity to fail or prosper--pressuring them to do otherwise is an expression of paternalism I am not comfortable with. I do not know what is best for the Amish people; it's not until they demonstrate behavior that is clearly abusive that I feel any need to step in and tell them how they should arrange their lives.
I know they don't, as in rejecting technology and a understanding of our world truly and verifiably leads to a lower standard of life, shorter lives and in general more suffering. Suffering we are fully capable of alleviating. How far is someone allowed to go before behavior is clearly abusive? Hitting their kids? Spanking their kids? Refusing to allow them to learn to type? Not vaccinating them? Pulling them out of school before they finish high school? Where is the line for you when it comes to acceptable harm vs clearly abusive? Is it abuse to as a parent actively keep oneself ignorant of the world, its harms, opportunities and tools and yet have a children?

All of the things mentioned above, including and especially the active self ignorance, decrease a child's well-being. Which of them is acceptable practice?



Let me ask this another way: Are you opposed to women wearing burkas? Are you opposed to women passing this tradition down to other women, even when they remain supportive of those children who choose not to wear burkas--and even if, hypothetically, this was purely a non-religious aspect of culture?

If you oppose this, I think I've come to understand where the core of our disagreement is, and I don't think it's a gap I can bridge.

I honestly don't know enough about them, their history or their effects on culture and how they are perceived today. Wikipedia makes claim there are associated health risks. I'm aware that often the behaviors relating to their use are entirely irrational and I would of course be against groups that shun their children, or anyone else, because they refuse to wear one.

But again I think you being linguistically disingenuous. A Burqa is defined by its relation to the religion. When you remove that relationship and defining association is it still a Burqa? Or is it a veil?

Additionally I'm not opposed to educating people - adults and children - about culture but actively influencing or indoctrinating them to wear one rather than teaching them why they might choose to wear one is a practice I'm not generally ok with.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Feb 10, 2012 9:38 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:I think the question is: in what sense of the term could this person be reasonably classified as a Christian? I mean, if that's the only thing they believe, they could just as easily call themselves a Buddhist, and it would still probably be an accurate statement.
You can believe in Jesus Christ is the son of God, you can believe that the Bible is a source of divine wisdom, and you can believe that we'll all be united in the afterlife; you can also believe that God wants us to do the best we can for each other, and embracing humanism is the most effective means toward that end.

The belief in something like an afterlife, or the divine wisdom of the Bible, can change the type of actions I take, and often will--but it also can have very little impact on them. Humans are complex creatures; we do not always simply follow a chain of logical actions based on our stated beliefs. I'm far more interested in how people behave than what they state they believe--I think it's far more informative to look at actions to make our determinations about negative, destructive culture than scripture or religious belief. The two are often related, but that relationship is not always as clear and obvious as we think it is.
Zcorp wrote: Christianity does not embrace humanistic principles. If you are imagining a God that embodies humanistic principles you need to define what you mean by God. Explain to me his behaviors, his beliefs, his commandments, who is this god? You still haven't defined it.

You still haven't given a reason for why someone, who shares all values with humanism, then makes up or believes a god that doesn't currently exist in our culture for a purpose you have yet to explain.
'A God who supports and commands their followers to be humanists' isn't satisfactory? You want me to go into detail about humanism? What, do you think you're going to catch me on some sort of inherent contradiction that makes a humanistic God impossible? Religion is inherently irrational, and often contradictory; it isn't hard to imagine a God who supports tooth decay side-by-side with toothpaste any more than one who supports humanism.

And you're perfectly capable of believing in a Christian God, or a Jewish God, or a Muslim God, and believing that they want you to support humanistic principles. Remember, religion is often an intensely personal experience. Religious experiences are its currency. As a child, I believed in a God who wanted me to do the most possible good for the people around me, and do what I could to improve people's lives. I grew out of it--but how hard is it to see how with, one more very reasonable step, that would lead to humanism?
Zcorp wrote:I know they don't, as in rejecting technology and a understanding of our world truly and verifiably leads to a lower standard of life, shorter lives and in general more suffering. Suffering we are fully capable of alleviating. How far is someone allowed to go before behavior is clearly abusive? Hitting their kids? Spanking their kids? Refusing to allow them to learn to type? Not vaccinating them? Pulling them out of school before they finish high school? Where is the line for you when it comes to acceptable harm vs clearly abusive? Is it abuse to as a parent actively keep oneself ignorant of the world, its harms, opportunities and tools and yet have a children?
The moment the parent(s) refuse to allow their children to explore alternate possibilities by which to pursue prosperity and happiness, I consider it abusive. And yes, doing everything in your power to make sure that children don't even encounter alternate possibilities counts.
Zcorp wrote:But again I think you being linguistically disingenuous. A Burqa is defined by its relation to the religion. When you remove that relationship and defining association is it still a Burqa? Or is it a veil?
'Veil' would be a better word.
Zcorp wrote:Additionally I'm not opposed to educating people - adults and children - about culture but actively influencing or indoctrinating them to wear one rather than teaching them why they might choose to wear one is a practice I'm not generally ok with.
So if parents came to their children and said "We want you to wear this veil, we understand you may not want to, but it's very important to us and our culture and we want to share that culture with you, but if you don't that's perfectly fine and we'll still support your decision", you'd be fine with people wearing the veil?

Would you feel the same way if we replaced the words 'wear this veil' with 'believe in God'?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Zcorp » Fri Feb 10, 2012 11:43 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:'A God who supports and commands their followers to be humanists' isn't satisfactory? You want me to go into detail about humanism? What, do you think you're going to catch me on some sort of inherent contradiction that makes a humanistic God impossible? Religion is inherently irrational, and often contradictory; it isn't hard to imagine a God who supports tooth decay side-by-side with toothpaste any more than one who supports humanism.
What you just described isn't a religion. Where did this god say this? What else did this god say? Is there a Humanism book? or did he speak directly into your head? Or does he speak through signs seem through natural phenomenon? Does he interact with the world? If so, how and why? Why did he choose to speak to you? While what you are talking about is faith in something that we have less evidence in the Christian Deity, it is a faith that is mostly harmless, although you are still quite reluctant to actually discuss the reality of such a belief, that I've never heard of anyone having ever. Well not true I suppose you just seem to be describing Deism.

Is your argument about religion being inherently irrational that we should just accept contradictions and delusions because they are inherent to faith? You are just talking in circles. The problem being presented is that irrationality, the reality that people -sometimes actively- delude themselves to account for their irrational beliefs. This causes harm. This causes harm on a psychological and sociological level. The problem with religion is that they perpetuate beliefs that are not in accordance with reality, that they often fight against getting people to understand reality and generally do nothing to understand reality. They assert beliefs, often false ones and we know that humans have difficulty changing their beliefs. Even more so when they conviction in that belief, not only difficult in general it makes those false beliefs stronger.

I'm just repeating myself, again.

And you're perfectly capable of believing in a Christian God, or a Jewish God, or a Muslim God, and believing that they want you to support humanistic principles. Remember, religion is often an intensely personal experience. Religious experiences are its currency. As a child, I believed in a God who wanted me to do the most possible good for the people around me, and do what I could to improve people's lives. I grew out of it--but how hard is it to see how with, one more very reasonable step, that would lead to humanism?
You can, but that doesn't make that belief about those Gods support accurate, according to the information we know about those gods, nor does it make te belief in those Gods useful to society. The only utility you've presented of these beliefs is as an escape because an individual is having a hard time accepting reality, well that and being part of perpetuating groupism. Neither of which are healthy for the individual or society, and we have better tools for dealing with reality than deluding ourselves with faith.


The moment the parent(s) refuse to allow their children to explore alternate possibilities by which to pursue prosperity and happiness, I consider it abusive. And yes, doing everything in your power to make sure that children don't even encounter alternate possibilities counts.
So then we should stop the practices of the Amish? What if a parent just perpetuates an ignorance in their children about alternative possibilities?



So if parents came to their children and said "We want you to wear this veil, we understand you may not want to, but it's very important to us and our culture and we want to share that culture with you, but if you don't that's perfectly fine and we'll still support your decision", you'd be fine with people wearing the veil?

Would you feel the same way if we replaced the words 'wear this veil' with 'believe in God'?

You keep dancing around these answers like your trying to make me misspeak so you can see me falter. I've set a pretty consistent narrative here, why do you trying to throw red herrings at me. I suppose keep it up, you may very well get me to misspeak or you may just frustrate me to the point of ambivalence. Or do you truly not understand what i'm saying?

The goal is well-being, accepting and seeking to understand reality has shown to be the best way to improve well-being, consistently, everywhere.

You should teach your child why you wear the veil, the history of it, what it represents, how it represents your values and why you care about those values. You should not leverage your authority or bond to get them to conform to your values, as that would be disingenuous. Understanding of the concept I mean when I use the word educate really shouldn't be this elusive.


But here is the problem, I can logically and consistently put forth my narrative. I can articulate it and tell you my values and why I care about them. I can discuss them from the top all the way down to the very root level of my beliefs and I can back them not only with reason but with empirical evidence. Religious values simply don't hold up to that scrutiny. Educating your children about your religious values requires you to be disingenuous, ignorant, unreasonable or not in congruence with reality, sometimes all of those. It also requires certainly in areas that reason and science can not offer it.


If you are educating your child to be a critical thinker you actually have to teach them to reason, as the skill is largely defined by it. If you haven't reasoned through your own beliefs there is no possibility of you doing what I'm suggesting with your child.



Edit:
Listen this is getting old. I feel like I repeated myself in like very paragraph here. What is it about what I'm saying that you do not understand? Do you not understand the goals of humanism? How about the process of reason and science? Are you not familiar with psychological theories and practices well enough to understand how beliefs not based in reality can problems with how people function within it and how they react to that in-congruence? Do you not understand how beliefs become associated and how it can be difficult to separate them? Do you not understand how often religious beliefs are not in accordance with reality?

If you understand all of those things, is all you are trying to do is get me to say that a belief in a entity more powerful than humans (lets call it a god) doesn't conflict with reason and our evidence now? Because unless you can provide that evidence reason does not allow us to accept that belief.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Feb 11, 2012 1:26 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:What you just described isn't a religion. Where did this god say this? What else did this god say? Is there a Humanism book? or did he speak directly into your head? Or does he speak through signs seem through natural phenomenon? Does he interact with the world? If so, how and why? Why did he choose to speak to you? While what you are talking about is faith in something that we have less evidence in the Christian Deity, it is a faith that is mostly harmless, although you are still quite reluctant to actually discuss the reality of such a belief, that I've never heard of anyone having ever. Well not true I suppose you just seem to be describing Deism.

Is your argument about religion being inherently irrational that we should just accept contradictions and delusions because they are inherent to faith? You are just talking in circles. The problem being presented is that irrationality, the reality that people -sometimes actively- delude themselves to account for their irrational beliefs. This causes harm. This causes harm on a psychological and sociological level. The problem with religion is that they perpetuate beliefs that are not in accordance with reality, that they often fight against getting people to understand reality and generally do nothing to understand reality. They assert beliefs, often false ones and we know that humans have difficulty changing their beliefs. Even more so when they conviction in that belief, not only difficult in general it makes those false beliefs stronger.

I'm just repeating myself, again.
But you're not addressing my point: That it's possible for me to have a religious experience that makes me embrace humanism. You keep wanting details, and I keep noting that the details of my delusion are irrelevant, so long as we assume that my personal religious experience leads me to embrace humanism. If it would help, I could make up a bunch of spooky religious-sounding scripture, and end it with "...and God commands you to embrace humanism", and it would probably sound no less wacky than some of the faiths already out there.

As for irrational beliefs causing harm, you haven't provided evidence of that. You've cited examples of irrational beliefs that cause harm, but you haven't demonstrated that irrational beliefs inherently cause harm.
Zcorp wrote:You can, but that doesn't make that belief about those Gods support accurate, according to the information we know about those gods, nor does it make te belief in those Gods useful to society. The only utility you've presented of these beliefs is as an escape because an individual is having a hard time accepting reality, well that and being part of perpetuating groupism. Neither of which are healthy for the individual or society, and we have better tools for dealing with reality than deluding ourselves with faith.
Can you provide evidence that escapism is always unhealthy? Actually, I'd argue that escapism can, depending on our circumstances, be a very healthy response. It's anecdotal, but I can think of many times in my life when critically evaluating my circumstances would have caused me more emotional distress than just embracing a semi-irrational narrative and riding it on out of the storm.
Zcorp wrote:So then we should stop the practices of the Amish? What if a parent just perpetuates an ignorance in their children about alternative possibilities?
If parents are lying to their children, then yes. And if the Amish are doing what I described, then they are engaged in what I would describe as abusive behavior, and we should find some means to oppose it.
Zcorp wrote:You keep dancing around these answers like your trying to make me misspeak so you can see me falter. I've set a pretty consistent narrative here, why do you trying to throw red herrings at me. I suppose keep it up, you may very well get me to misspeak or you may just frustrate me to the point of ambivalence. Or do you truly not understand what i'm saying?
I'm honestly not understanding what you're saying. My goal isn't to make you misspeak; it's to try and understand your narrative better. I keep proposing situations like this to better understand where you're drawing the line.
Zcorp wrote:If you are educating your child to be a critical thinker you actually have to teach them to reason, as the skill is largely defined by it. If you haven't reasoned through your own beliefs there is no possibility of you doing what I'm suggesting with your child.
What evidence do you have to support the idea that parents who don't analyze their religious beliefs are incapable of teaching critical thinking skills to their children--skills those children may then apply to their own beliefs, leading them to atheism? It sounds like you're just assuming that it must be so. I'm familiar with at least one personal example where your statement here is wrong.
Zcorp wrote:Listen this is getting old. I feel like I repeated myself in like very paragraph here. What is it about what I'm saying that you do not understand? Do you not understand the goals of humanism? How about the process of reason and science? Are you not familiar with psychological theories and practices well enough to understand how beliefs not based in reality can problems with how people function within it and how they react to that in-congruence?
I'm not very familiar with any formal psychological theories, and I find it odd that you'd ask me if I am--as if I should be. Do I need to be to discuss this?

I understand that irrational beliefs can cause harm; my problem is that you seem to assume that they always cause harm--or, at least, that if they don't cause harm, their benefit is minimal, and could be easily replaced with rational beliefs that would serve their function better. This is what I find to be bizarre, largely because it feels like you're treating humans like robots with modular mental functions.

People are incredibly complex, and their emotional needs are hard to predict. I think you're oversimplifying a vastly complicated situation with what you think is a mental panacea. Rationality is definitely a healthy approach, but I don't think it's the only and best one--and treating it like it is will probably lead to more suffering than joy.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Zcorp » Sat Feb 11, 2012 3:44 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:But you're not addressing my point: That it's possible for me to have a religious experience that makes me embrace humanism. You keep wanting details, and I keep noting that the details of my delusion are irrelevant, so long as we assume that my personal religious experience leads me to embrace humanism. If it would help, I could make up a bunch of spooky religious-sounding scripture, and end it with "...and God commands you to embrace humanism", and it would probably sound no less wacky than some of the faiths already out there.
And you are wrong when you say what you believe is irrelevant. I've tried to point out that religions have components. If your 'religion' consists of just 'embrace' (what ever the fuck that means) humanism cause 'I GOD SAID SO.' That is not a religion. On top of which, why do we care what this god says. Why do I need a god to tell me to care about people? Once I create a belief through faith, and authority rather than reality and critical thinking my ability to change the belief is significantly reduced.



As for irrational beliefs causing harm, you haven't provided evidence of that. You've cited examples of irrational beliefs that cause harm, but you haven't demonstrated that irrational beliefs inherently cause harm.
I have, you just don't seem to understand it or you disagree that understanding and accepting reality increases human well-being.


Can you provide evidence that escapism is always unhealthy? Actually, I'd argue that escapism can, depending on our circumstances, be a very healthy response. It's anecdotal, but I can think of many times in my life when critically evaluating my circumstances would have caused me more emotional distress than just embracing a semi-irrational narrative and riding it on out of the storm.
I've stated it is LESS healthy. Thus WORSE for well-being. I've stated numerous times there is utility in positive psychology. You really need to read what I write instead of what you want to read.

Now if you can provide me with an example of where delusion or faith in an irrational belief, I've not once mentioned escapism, has proved more effective in your life than accepting reality we can examine that.

Are you familiar with Cognitive Behavioial theories or Choice Theory or any contemporary psychotherapy? If you are not familiar, how can you possibly state that delusion is healthier, when you aren't even familiar with recent ideas on mental health?


If parents are lying to their children, then yes. And if the Amish are doing what I described, then they are engaged in what I would describe as abusive behavior, and we should find some means to oppose it.
No once have we talked about lying to children. We have talked about with holding information and aspects of the world from children. We've talked about refusing preventive medicine to children, we've even talked about instilling irrational belief in children. Not once, have we talked about lying to children. Where are you getting this stuff? This is getting old.

You really need to read what I write instead of what you want to read.


]I'm honestly not understanding what you're saying. My goal isn't to make you misspeak; it's to try and understand your narrative better. I keep proposing situations like this to better understand where you're drawing the line.
The line of what?

To start out with understanding me maybe you should read what I write instead of what you want to read.

What evidence do you have to support the idea that parents who don't analyze their religious beliefs are incapable of teaching critical thinking skills to their children--skills those children may then apply to their own beliefs, leading them to atheism? It sounds like you're just assuming that it must be so. I'm familiar with at least one personal example where your statement here is wrong.
I didn't say that. You really need to read what I write instead of what you want to read. I did say that if a parent can't analyze their own beliefs they will not be able to have a critical view when teaching their beliefs.

I'm not very familiar with any formal psychological theories, and I find it odd that you'd ask me if I am--as if I should be. Do I need to be to discuss this?
As we are discussing the psychological and sociological impact of beliefs, having at least basic understanding of those to fields seems prudent.

I understand that irrational beliefs can cause harm; my problem is that you seem to assume that they always cause harm--or, at least, that if they don't cause harm, their benefit is minimal, and could be easily replaced with rational beliefs that would serve their function better. This is what I find to be bizarre, largely because it feels like you're treating humans like robots with modular mental functions.
How does having reason for ones beliefs make them a robot?

People are incredibly complex, and their emotional needs are hard to predict. I think you're oversimplifying a vastly complicated situation with what you think is a mental panacea. Rationality is definitely a healthy approach, but I don't think it's the only and best one--and treating it like it is will probably lead to more suffering than joy.
It amazes me you make such claims while admitting you have essentially no understanding of the entire field of psychology. I think you are massively underestimating how much we understand about human behavior, and how much control people can have over their own thoughts and actions. We are not limited to being a slave of our emotions.

I also don't think you understand what is meant by the word rational if you have any questions about what is meant by the word relating to social sciences I'll do my best to answer them. It has little to do with being a 'robot.' acting rationally is not acting as if you are programmed. In fact it is almost the opposite.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Jave D » Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:49 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:If you understand all of those things, is all you are trying to do is get me to say that a belief in a entity more powerful than humans (lets call it a god) doesn't conflict with reason and our evidence now? Because unless you can provide that evidence reason does not allow us to accept that belief.


Your reason does not allow you to accept that belief.
I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay
Ain't it sad?
And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me
That's too bad.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby morriswalters » Sat Feb 11, 2012 7:05 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:It amazes me you make such claims while admitting you have essentially no understanding of the entire field of psychology. I think you are massively underestimating how much we understand about human behavior, and how much control people can have over their own thoughts and actions. We are not limited to being a slave of our emotions.


Neuroscience would say that you are overestimating. Understanding human behavior does not imply being able to control it.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby BeerBottle » Sat Feb 11, 2012 7:41 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:
I can't embrace science as a tool toward improvement of humans because God told me to?
He doesn't. No god ever has. Where is this god? Tell me about this god, I'm curious, please... enlighten us.
Not really relevant to the current conversation but I thought I'd pick you up on this. One major world religion strongly encourages the search for knowledge and describes the benefits it will bring:

Spoiler:
[Quran 3:190-191] Verily in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day - there are indeed signs for men of understanding; Men who remember Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the creation of the heavens and the earth

[Quran 29:20] Say: Travel through the earth and see how Allah originated creation; so will Allah produce the second creation: for Allah has power over all things.

[Quran 39:9] ...Say: Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know? It is those who are endued with understanding that remember Allah's Message.

[Quran 41:53] Soon will We show them Our Signs in the farthest horizons, and within themselves, until it becomes manifest to them that it is the Truth

The prophet Mohammed said:

"A person who follows a path for acquiring knowledge, Allah will make easy the passage to Paradise for him."
"A Muslim is never satiated in his quest for good (knowledge) till it ends in Paradise."
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Feb 11, 2012 8:22 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:And you are wrong when you say what you believe is irrelevant. I've tried to point out that religions have components. If your 'religion' consists of just 'embrace' (what ever the fuck that means) humanism cause 'I GOD SAID SO.' That is not a religion.
Why not? It satisfies all the requirements--faith in God, and commandments to follow. What more is required? When I believed in God as a child--and prayed every night--was I not religious? Does it matter that my belief's only important tenet was to try and do good for fellow human beings? Does the simplicity of my prior faith somehow invalidate it as a religious creed?
Zcorp wrote:I have, you just don't seem to understand it or you disagree that understanding and accepting reality increases human well-being.
I'm sorry, I might have misunderstood or missed it; what was the evidence? Can you point me to the specific evidence that irrational beliefs are inherently harmful?
Zcorp wrote:Are you familiar with Cognitive Behavioial theories or Choice Theory or any contemporary psychotherapy? If you are not familiar, how can you possibly state that delusion is healthier, when you aren't even familiar with recent ideas on mental health?
As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm not very familiar with any formal psychological theory. I'm challenging your premise that delusion is always less healthy, and I'm asking you--as someone who I assume is familiar with these theories--to use your knowledge to defend that premise.
Zcorp wrote:No once have we talked about lying to children. We have talked about with holding information and aspects of the world from children. We've talked about refusing preventive medicine to children, we've even talked about instilling irrational belief in children. Not once, have we talked about lying to children. Where are you getting this stuff? This is getting old.

You really need to read what I write instead of what you want to read.
Whoa, whoa. First off, when someone 'withholds information and aspects of the world from children', do you consider that not lying? Second off--when you said 'perpetuating an ignorance in their children about alternate possibilities', how was I supposed to read that? Because I read that as misrepresenting alternatives, which is clearly a deceptive practice. An example would be teaching Creationism to children by misrepresenting evolutionary arguments--misquoting Darwin, for instance. Obviously, if you need to lie to children to convince them that your beliefs are right, it's worth contemplating that your beliefs aren't right--or even worth teaching. Was I supposed to read your statement as 'unintentionally perpetuating an ignorance'?

As far as I understand, I'm not misinterpreting you here--I'm agreeing with you.
Zcorp wrote:I didn't say that. You really need to read what I write instead of what you want to read. I did say that if a parent can't analyze their own beliefs they will not be able to have a critical view when teaching their beliefs.
Okay. Reread what you wrote:
Zcorp wrote:If you are educating your child to be a critical thinker you actually have to teach them to reason, as the skill is largely defined by it. If you haven't reasoned through your own beliefs there is no possibility of you doing what I'm suggesting with your child.
I'm not going to get deep into this, but the last part of your statement here directly implies that what you're talking about is 'educating your child to be a critical thinker'. As in: "There is no possibility of you educating your child to be a critical thinker if you haven't reasoned through your own beliefs". How else am I supposed to interpret 'what I'm suggesting with your child'? Is this really a case where I'm misreading you?
Zcorp wrote:As we are discussing the psychological and sociological impact of beliefs, having at least basic understanding of those to fields seems prudent.
That's fair, but outside of hard sciences, I'm always suspicious when someone can't boil down an argument into some intuitive form. I accept "Because they just do" as an explanation for something like why magnets attract metal (the real explanation would require at least several college courses to understand, and metaphors fail to do the true answer justice!), but when you're proposing the notion that irrational beliefs are inevitably detrimental, I'd like at least something more reasonable sounding than "because psychology says so" before I'll take you at your word. I don't accept "because psychology said so", because--as you yourself have pointed out--psychology is full of fraudsters. Mathematics and other hard sciences are less forgiving toward bad science; psychology is far more fuzzy. I need a deeper explanation before I can just accept the premise based on the credibility of the field.

I mean, come on. Freud set the tone for just pulling shit out of your ass. I understand psychology's gotten a lot better since then, but I think a little skepticism on my part is well-warranted. If you want to convince me of your point, present the evidence. What proof do we have that irrational beliefs are inherently harmful?
Zcorp wrote:How does having reason for ones beliefs make them a robot?

...

I think you are massively underestimating how much we understand about human behavior, and how much control people can have over their own thoughts and actions. We are not limited to being a slave of our emotions.

I also don't think you understand what is meant by the word rational if you have any questions about what is meant by the word relating to social sciences I'll do my best to answer them. It has little to do with being a 'robot.' acting rationally is not acting as if you are programmed. In fact it is almost the opposite.
The critical word in my post was 'modular', not 'robot'. That's to say, I suspect you are treating people as if their beliefs are disposeable things that we can switch out for better ones. Being rational doesn't make you a robot, but assuming rationality is the best course for any given person is treating any given person as if they were a robot. Our needs are complex; beliefs serve to satisfy those needs. Rational beliefs aren't always going to be the right tool to accomplish that.
Zcorp wrote:It amazes me you make such claims while admitting you have essentially no understanding of the entire field of psychology.
Does anyone have an understanding of the entire field of psychology? Because that would be pretty damn impressive.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Zcorp » Sat Feb 11, 2012 8:39 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Zcorp wrote:It amazes me you make such claims while admitting you have essentially no understanding of the entire field of psychology.
Does anyone have an understanding of the entire field of psychology? Because that would be pretty damn impressive.

I'll respond to the rest when I have more time, I just wanted to point out again you need to read what I'm saying not what you want to read.

I did not say that I'm amazed you don't understand the entire field. I did say I'm amazed you have no understanding of the field at all and are making such claims.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Feb 11, 2012 8:50 pm UTC

That's not what you just said. You said 'no understanding of the entire field of psychology'. Those are the words you typed. They're up there, in your post. I read them. Twice, now!

I'll admit, in context, I was pretty sure you weren't actually saying what you actually said. I could have just been nice and changed the words for you ("It amazes me you make such claims while admitting you have essentially no understanding of psychology"). But you've been accusing me of a lot of misreading, and I just wanted to poke you as a reminder that communication is a two-way street.

Sometimes we misinterpret things because we're poor readers, and sometimes we misinterpret things because the writer isn't writing very clearly.



(Sometimes, it's both!)
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:26 pm UTC

"You have no understanding of the entire field of psychology" can mean "You have no understanding of anything in the entire field of psychology."
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:38 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:"You have no understanding of the entire field of psychology" can mean "You have no understanding of anything in the entire field of psychology."
I'm semi-skeptical, if only because reversing the statement (by changing the 'no' to a positive value) implies otherwise ("You have an understanding of the entire field of psychology"). But I could be wrong--and even if I'm not, it's a silly point to stick on (and this isn't the place for me to stick on it). I'm comfortable calling the poke inappropriate, apologizing to Zcorp for it, and leaving it at that.

I still do think there's a lot of miscommunication going on (between myself and you, Zcorp), and I'm not convinced that it's just because I'm reading what I want to read.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Zcorp » Sun Feb 12, 2012 1:28 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Why not? It satisfies all the requirements--faith in God, and commandments to follow. What more is required? When I believed in God as a child--and prayed every night--was I not religious? Does it matter that my belief's only important tenet was to try and do good for fellow human beings? Does the simplicity of my prior faith somehow invalidate it as a religious creed?

Faith in a deity and commandments do not make a religion.

Wikipedia: "Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values"

You are being entirely disingenuous when you are separating the single action of praying to a deity and calling that religion. While it is a behavior that is consistent with the culture and rituals of a religion it is not itself a religion. Religion is more than just the quote above, but very specifically religion relates to belief systems. It encompasses many beliefs that are associated with each other.

Humanism, also a belief system, does not associate itself at all with a deity. It is not dependent upon one nor does it follow from Humanism that a deity exists.

When you just throw a deity on top of that and say 'Look now we have a religion' you are not being honest about how beliefs function, reason functions nor how belief systems function.

And you still need to define this deity for me. Are we talking about something close to Coyote, Shiva, Horus, Satan or possibly the Christian God? What defines this god, and how do we know of them? What does this god do? What does this god want us to do? Does this god communicate with us? Writings and stories define other deities and belief systems, what defines yours?


I'm sorry, I might have misunderstood or missed it; what was the evidence? Can you point me to the specific evidence that irrational beliefs are inherently harmful?
Because you missed it I'll quote myself from the post you are directly replying to.

Zcorp wrote:I've stated it is LESS healthy. Thus WORSE for well-being. I've stated numerous times there is utility in positive psychology. You really need to read what I write instead of what you want to read.


Now what this means: When I as an individual refuse to accept or am having trouble dealing with reality for whatever reason I might use escapism to try and alleviate my stress. This would be a defense mechanism. While this is less healthy than accepting reality it is a frequency occurrence in human behavior, especially in those who are not taught tools to assist them in accepting and understanding reality (so most people). If this lack of acceptance becomes chronic we start to categorize that behavior as psycho-pathological. We observe that individuals who hold significant irrational beliefs start to have significant problems relating to people, society and other functioning in other aspects of their lives.

Say refusing to accept the death of a loved one. Because of this refusal this individual still believes they see and speak with the deceased, bringing their lack of acceptance into full blown delusion. Now this could be pretty much harmless, this individual could only speak to the deceased alone, never speak of seeing them and what the deceased 'tells' them could result in little harm. Due to this their other relationships might not suffer as no one knows about their delusion, their job might not suffer as it might not prohibit their ability to function and they might be able to easily form new relationships. However, we observe a high frequency in cases like this where individuals continue to delude themselves further. Creating greater conflict between what they make real in their heads and what is real. This greater conflict results in behaviors that are generally hard to understand by people close to them. Which often leads to them pulling away from other people, which we have observed creates greater problems in the human psyche.


Now as for teaching irrational beliefs that seem harmless. The primary difference between beliefs attained through Reason and Faith, well tautologically, the way they were created. One approaches from a place of skepticism looking for evidence of an occurrence and building on that evidence and judging the strength of that evidence to form a belief. The other establishes beliefs without evidence and tries to adapt the world to fit those beliefs. Now the problem with this is two fold, first people are generally poor at changing their beliefs. So once I have established a belief without evidence, I have Faith, changing that belief is difficult. In fact, we have observed that when you present evidence against that a belief created through by faith the belief grows stronger and not weaker. Second, with reason, one establishes beliefs and their strength or weight based on evidence often through a hierarchy of observations when presented with new evidence are not only more adept at changing their belief to fit this evidence they can, because they have actively set up a hierarchy of belief, with greater ease change associated beliefs as well.

The harm comes in when irrational beliefs are challenged by, or come in conflict with, reality. We have observed that when someone holds an irrational belief and reality conflicts the strength of that belief grows. Often this means that an additional irrational belief is created to compensate for the conflict. Say I have a faith that every time I wear green socks it rains. Then I wear green socks and it doesn't rain. Because I did not form my belief through observation of reality I'm very likely to add on a stipulation to my belief rather than change it. Say the day that it didn't rain was Wednesday. I might adapt my faith to "Every time I wear green socks it rains, unless it is Wednesday." Then next week I wear green socks on Wednesday and it rains. I might adapt my faith to "Every time I wear green socks it rains, unless it is Wednesday. Although if I don't eat breakfast on that Wednesday it still rains." This often continues and these beliefs becomes rationalized often to crazy extremes. These beliefs often have associated behavioral changes. Many of these beliefs are also related to someones feelings. Which becomes a positive feedback loop. Say an individual feels safer or less anxious (they have faith they are better in some way) when they triple check
the locks on a door. So every time they come home they do that and they feel better, than one day for whatever reason (bad day at work, a speeding ticket w/e, they heard on the news of a robbery nearby) their normal ritual doesn't make them feel the same way. So they add another step, they triple check the doors lock and then go and lock all the windows. Then it happens again: they now triple check the door lock, the and window locks multiple times throughout the night. Then it happens again; they triple check the lock, lock all the windows and look out the window to make sure no one is walking up to their house. Then again...and while watching their yard they write down everything that happens. Now their entire evening, and night consists of re-locking doors and windows while watching and taking notes of anything that happens in their yard or on the street in front of their house. This could affect their sleeping, it certainly affects their productivity during that time and this entire time they are in an emotional state of fear which they are letting control their behavior.

Irrational beliefs lead to erroneous justifications of those beliefs when they are confronted with evidence that those beliefs are wrong. But this is just the tip of the iceberg this is one of many defense mechanisms and how it might turn out. People are capable of overcoming various problems related to irrational beliefs and obviously not all irrational beliefs will result in significantly impairing OCD as described above. However, irrational beliefs have a much higher chance of creating problems. Not only on a personal psyche level as just described but in an individual relating to a community or communities relating to each other. Irrational beliefs lead to conflicts with reality, conflicts with reality generally lead to conflicts with other people or isolation from them. Both of which escalate the severity of the problem.

Whoa, whoa. First off, when someone 'withholds information and aspects of the world from children', do you consider that not lying?

Of course. We aren't talking about a lie by omission here, that should be obvious by the context. Refusing to purchase internet access and a computer is quite obviously not a lie.

Second off--when you said 'perpetuating an ignorance in their children about alternate possibilities', how was I supposed to read that? Because I read that as misrepresenting alternatives, which is clearly a deceptive practice. An example would be teaching Creationism to children by misrepresenting evolutionary arguments--misquoting Darwin, for instance. Obviously, if you need to lie to children to convince them that your beliefs are right, it's worth contemplating that your beliefs aren't right--or even worth teaching. Was I supposed to read your statement as 'unintentionally perpetuating an ignorance'?
Again we are discussing this in the context of Amish, Mennonites and Christian Science. An example would be never talking your child to a doctor nor teaching them any biology and instead only educating them on how prayer can heal you.

Okay. Reread what you wrote:
Zcorp wrote:If you are educating your child to be a critical thinker you actually have to teach them to reason, as the skill is largely defined by it. If you haven't reasoned through your own beliefs there is no possibility of you doing what I'm suggesting with your child.
I'm not going to get deep into this, but the last part of your statement here directly implies that what you're talking about is 'educating your child to be a critical thinker'. As in: "There is no possibility of you educating your child to be a critical thinker if you haven't reasoned through your own beliefs". How else am I supposed to interpret 'what I'm suggesting with your child'? Is this really a case where I'm misreading you?
We were discussing teaching your child about your own beliefs. My statement was in that context, why do you keep removing context?

There is no possibility of doing what I'm suggesting (educating your children about your beliefs. Educating and specifically not indoctrinating those beliefs) if you have not reasoned through your own beliefs.


That's fair, but outside of hard sciences, I'm always suspicious when someone can't boil down an argument into some intuitive form. I accept "Because they just do" as an explanation for something like why magnets attract metal (the real explanation would require at least several college courses to understand, and metaphors fail to do the true answer justice!), but when you're proposing the notion that irrational beliefs are inevitably detrimental, I'd like at least something more reasonable sounding than "because psychology says so" before I'll take you at your word. I don't accept "because psychology said so", because--as you yourself have pointed out--psychology is full of fraudsters. Mathematics and other hard sciences are less forgiving toward bad science; psychology is far more fuzzy. I need a deeper explanation before I can just accept the premise based on the credibility of the field.
I suppose I assumed that some basic elements of psychology were more prevalent in general understanding than they are. I don't mean that as a criticism of you, but as a failing of my own. The answer isn't 'because psychology said so' but because it is a base level observation we have made about human mental health. Something akin to hot air rising or mass attracting mass in physics. The specifics of this observation change based on the components, but is a general observation about human behavior and well-being.

Reality doesn't change because you don't believe in its effects or occurrences. When your beliefs are put in conflict with reality you accept reality (the more healthy option) or enact a defense mechanism to maintain your belief despite reality (the less healthy option). I feel like I explained this fairly well above, tell me if I did not.

Maslow's Hierarchy, besides the of valid criticisms of the 'hierarchy' aspect of the concept, is a taught because it is a more than decent representation of human needs. Social science progresses just like the physical ones, through observations and experimentation. Specifically ones that hold up to the principles of validity, reliability and consistency with other observations. The greater number of those needs that are met the 'healthier' the individual is. By healthy we mean the less stressed they feel, the more productive they are, they less self-destructive they are and the less socially destructive they are. Another attempt to distill human needs can be found within Choice Theory. We can observe that the more of these needs that are met the healthier people behave. However, the amount of each need required to feel fulfilled (for lack of a better term, meant to mean that person is not seeking to fill that need) varies based on the individual. An individual with a low nor non-existent love and belonging need can be represented in a variety of ways. Say for example an individual has no drive to fill that need and a low Agreenableness you have significant potential for Anti-social personality disorder (often referred to as sociopathy). An individual who cares little about others well-being and has a low need for love and belonging is more likely to behave in a way that harms others and society, call them a constant defector in Prisoner's Dilemma. While an individual with a high need for love and belonging but still low level of agreeableness is likely to exhibit Histrionic behaviors. However, all of this depends on other aspects of the individuals personality and experiences as well. A large part of that being their knowledge base and beliefs. If we can improve peoples knowledge base and methods for acquiring beliefs we can assist them in behaving in healthier ways. Both for themselves and for society.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Annihilist » Sat Mar 31, 2012 2:35 am UTC

elasto wrote:It's not really very complicated. They believe it to be the Word of God. Some believe it to be the literal Word of God - ie Prophecy: God has spoken directly to people (whether they realise it or not). And some believe it merely to be the writings of people who had close personal relationships with God - ie the writings and thoughts of men - but divinely inspired none-the-less.

If you're then going to ask why they believe that - well, that's like asking why they're a Christian/Muslim/Whatever. That'll surely be a more complicated answer.
Why is the Bible/Qur'an more "true" or "Gospel" than a book like Harry Potter or 1984, for example?

"Religious texts" are works of fiction, and they are no more "true" than any other work of fiction. It is foolish to hold up the bIble and say "this is true, this is the Word of God, this is Gospel", and hold up another fictional book and say "this is fiction, this isn't true". The only thing that suggests the Bible is absolutely true is, well, the Bible itself. It describes itself as true, and as the Word of God. So it's not really a valid text to live your life by.

I extend this and use it as justification to believe that religion is just stupid, waste of time, and has no place in society. We should disregard all religions and let them lose their credibility and validity in society, and then eventually die out.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Jave D » Sat Mar 31, 2012 3:43 pm UTC

Annihilist wrote:
elasto wrote:It's not really very complicated. They believe it to be the Word of God. Some believe it to be the literal Word of God - ie Prophecy: God has spoken directly to people (whether they realise it or not). And some believe it merely to be the writings of people who had close personal relationships with God - ie the writings and thoughts of men - but divinely inspired none-the-less.

If you're then going to ask why they believe that - well, that's like asking why they're a Christian/Muslim/Whatever. That'll surely be a more complicated answer.
Why is the Bible/Qur'an more "true" or "Gospel" than a book like Harry Potter or 1984, for example?


This is a good question which is answered by the fact that the Bible and Quran are not works of fiction.

But rather than letting anyone else answer that...

"Religious texts" are works of fiction, and they are no more "true" than any other work of fiction. It is foolish to hold up the bIble and say "this is true, this is the Word of God, this is Gospel", and hold up another fictional book and say "this is fiction, this isn't true". The only thing that suggests the Bible is absolutely true is, well, the Bible itself. It describes itself as true, and as the Word of God. So it's not really a valid text to live your life by.


Hey, congratulations on answering your own question and convincing yourself that your own hypothesis is true. I'm glad you had this discussion. Next time perhaps you could invite others to join you and then who knows what might happen?


I extend this and use it as justification to believe that religion is just stupid, waste of time, and has no place in society. We should disregard all religions and let them lose their credibility and validity in society, and then eventually die out.


Key word being justification, and that it's what you believe. I however don't need to tell you that "the only thing that suggests the Bible is true" is not the Bible itself, but rather the beliefs of millions and millions of people who aren't you. Nor do I need to tell you that your opinion on whether the Bible is a "valid text to live your life by" is not really persuasive as those who actually DO live their life by it and consider it valid for them. You are rather like a man not eating the cake, who hasn't eaten the cake, while telling other people not to eat the cake because it tastes bad.

And I don't need to tell you that people who do believe in the value of religion don't believe they're wasting their time or have no place in society are again more convincing than you. I mean it's great that you have these ideas about what "we should" do about religion, that you think other people are wasting their time, and that their beliefs aren't valid while holding up your own beliefs as somehow justified, your knowledge of how people should use their time to be superior to other peoples' ideas on their own time, but maybe if you were to step back a moment and see yourself as being the arrogant, bossy, "believe as I do or else you're stupid" kind of stereotypical fanatic you might see that the world is really not all about you.

And if you really believed that disregarding religion and 'letting it lose credibility' was the way to go, you'd be doing that... instead of flailing around, putting up rather childish 'arguments' against religion, and basically doing everything except disregarding religion and letting it stand or fail on its own merit. I think rather you're afraid that without your profound spiritual guidance ("religion is stupid," well thanks for that amazing insight!) the world will not be well-informed enough to disregard religion and let it die out and so you're making sure the world hears your bold leadership that it may follow you.

Because that would be a shame if people just made up their own minds about what they can believe in, or how they should use their time! Freedom? Pah! Everyone should listen to you instead! ;)
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby DSenette » Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:30 pm UTC

Jave D wrote:
Annihilist wrote:
elasto wrote:It's not really very complicated. They believe it to be the Word of God. Some believe it to be the literal Word of God - ie Prophecy: God has spoken directly to people (whether they realise it or not). And some believe it merely to be the writings of people who had close personal relationships with God - ie the writings and thoughts of men - but divinely inspired none-the-less.

If you're then going to ask why they believe that - well, that's like asking why they're a Christian/Muslim/Whatever. That'll surely be a more complicated answer.
Why is the Bible/Qur'an more "true" or "Gospel" than a book like Harry Potter or 1984, for example?


This is a good question which is answered by the fact that the Bible and Quran are not works of fiction.

But rather than letting anyone else answer that...

"Religious texts" are works of fiction, and they are no more "true" than any other work of fiction. It is foolish to hold up the bIble and say "this is true, this is the Word of God, this is Gospel", and hold up another fictional book and say "this is fiction, this isn't true". The only thing that suggests the Bible is absolutely true is, well, the Bible itself. It describes itself as true, and as the Word of God. So it's not really a valid text to live your life by.


Hey, congratulations on answering your own question and convincing yourself that your own hypothesis is true. I'm glad you had this discussion. Next time perhaps you could invite others to join you and then who knows what might happen?


I extend this and use it as justification to believe that religion is just stupid, waste of time, and has no place in society. We should disregard all religions and let them lose their credibility and validity in society, and then eventually die out.


Key word being justification, and that it's what you believe. I however don't need to tell you that "the only thing that suggests the Bible is true" is not the Bible itself, but rather the beliefs of millions and millions of people who aren't you. Nor do I need to tell you that your opinion on whether the Bible is a "valid text to live your life by" is not really persuasive as those who actually DO live their life by it and consider it valid for them. You are rather like a man not eating the cake, who hasn't eaten the cake, while telling other people not to eat the cake because it tastes bad.

And I don't need to tell you that people who do believe in the value of religion don't believe they're wasting their time or have no place in society are again more convincing than you. I mean it's great that you have these ideas about what "we should" do about religion, that you think other people are wasting their time, and that their beliefs aren't valid while holding up your own beliefs as somehow justified, your knowledge of how people should use their time to be superior to other peoples' ideas on their own time, but maybe if you were to step back a moment and see yourself as being the arrogant, bossy, "believe as I do or else you're stupid" kind of stereotypical fanatic you might see that the world is really not all about you.

And if you really believed that disregarding religion and 'letting it lose credibility' was the way to go, you'd be doing that... instead of flailing around, putting up rather childish 'arguments' against religion, and basically doing everything except disregarding religion and letting it stand or fail on its own merit. I think rather you're afraid that without your profound spiritual guidance ("religion is stupid," well thanks for that amazing insight!) the world will not be well-informed enough to disregard religion and let it die out and so you're making sure the world hears your bold leadership that it may follow you.

Because that would be a shame if people just made up their own minds about what they can believe in, or how they should use their time! Freedom? Pah! Everyone should listen to you instead! ;)

so, if millions of people believed that a work of fiction were actually true, it makes that work of fiction true?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Jave D » Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:16 pm UTC

Oh, did I say that?

(No.)
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby DSenette » Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:20 pm UTC

Jave D wrote:Oh, did I say that?

(No.)

then could you clarify how you've come to the conclusion that the bible isn't a work of fiction again?


Key word being justification, and that it's what you believe. I however don't need to tell you that "the only thing that suggests the Bible is true" is not the Bible itself, but rather the beliefs of millions and millions of people who aren't you
because that pretty much suggests that your statement is "well a shit ton of people believe it's not fiction, so...."
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Jave D » Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:29 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:
Jave D wrote:Oh, did I say that?

(No.)

then could you clarify how you've come to the conclusion that the bible isn't a work of fiction again?


Key word being justification, and that it's what you believe. I however don't need to tell you that "the only thing that suggests the Bible is true" is not the Bible itself, but rather the beliefs of millions and millions of people who aren't you
because that pretty much suggests that your statement is "well a shit ton of people believe it's not fiction, so...."


I am responding to a comment that said "the only thing that suggests the Bible is true is the Bible," whereas the plain and rather obvious truth is that millions of living and breathing people suggest the Bible is true, thus that comment was not accurate.

I'm not concluding through this argument that the Bible isn't a work of fiction at all. I wasn't offering proofs of its non-fictionhood. I was more addressing the argument of whether it's valid as a way of life and meaningful; i.e., "it's stupid and a waste of time."
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby DSenette » Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:39 pm UTC

Jave D wrote:
DSenette wrote:
Jave D wrote:Oh, did I say that?

(No.)

then could you clarify how you've come to the conclusion that the bible isn't a work of fiction again?


Key word being justification, and that it's what you believe. I however don't need to tell you that "the only thing that suggests the Bible is true" is not the Bible itself, but rather the beliefs of millions and millions of people who aren't you
because that pretty much suggests that your statement is "well a shit ton of people believe it's not fiction, so...."


I am responding to a comment that said "the only thing that suggests the Bible is true is the Bible," whereas the plain and rather obvious truth is that millions of living and breathing people suggest the Bible is true, thus that comment was not accurate.

I'm not concluding through this argument that the Bible isn't a work of fiction at all. I wasn't offering proofs of its non-fictionhood. I was more addressing the argument of whether it's valid as a way of life and meaningful; i.e., "it's stupid and a waste of time."

Jave D wrote:This is a good question which is answered by the fact that the Bible and Quran are not works of fiction.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby elasto » Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:51 pm UTC

Annihilist wrote:Why is the Bible/Qur'an more "true" or "Gospel" than a book like Harry Potter or 1984, for example?

"Religious texts" are works of fiction, and they are no more "true" than any other work of fiction. It is foolish to hold up the bIble and say "this is true, this is the Word of God, this is Gospel", and hold up another fictional book and say "this is fiction, this isn't true". The only thing that suggests the Bible is absolutely true is, well, the Bible itself. It describes itself as true, and as the Word of God. So it's not really a valid text to live your life by.

That's not how the reasoning goes.

Let's say you come across a book lying in the road, and it describes how you can improve how your car operates and how you can fix problems with it as they arise. Let's say you try out some of the suggestions and they do improve the running of your car, and you did have one or two problems with your car and the book successfully suggests ways to fix them. Would you go on to tentatively conclude that the book might not be a work of fiction but might in fact be the operating manual for your car as it claims it is? Well, you might. And you might be wrong to do so - but, equally, you might be right to do so.

The Bible claims it is the operating manual for living a satisfying life on earth - how 'loving the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and loving your neighbour as yourself' will bring satisfaction that no amount of wealth can bring - and, well, many of those that have followed the advice therein have found the advice accurate. Does that mean it's true? Of course not. Proof doesn't work that way. But it's one part of why people put faith in religious texts: Because, outside of mathematical situations - ie in the real world - the only 'proof' you ever get for anything is, as they say, in the eating. Or, as the Bible says, seek and you will find.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Jave D » Mon Apr 02, 2012 5:11 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:
Jave D wrote:
DSenette wrote:
Jave D wrote:Oh, did I say that?

(No.)

then could you clarify how you've come to the conclusion that the bible isn't a work of fiction again?


Key word being justification, and that it's what you believe. I however don't need to tell you that "the only thing that suggests the Bible is true" is not the Bible itself, but rather the beliefs of millions and millions of people who aren't you
because that pretty much suggests that your statement is "well a shit ton of people believe it's not fiction, so...."


I am responding to a comment that said "the only thing that suggests the Bible is true is the Bible," whereas the plain and rather obvious truth is that millions of living and breathing people suggest the Bible is true, thus that comment was not accurate.

I'm not concluding through this argument that the Bible isn't a work of fiction at all. I wasn't offering proofs of its non-fictionhood. I was more addressing the argument of whether it's valid as a way of life and meaningful; i.e., "it's stupid and a waste of time."

Jave D wrote:This is a good question which is answered by the fact that the Bible and Quran are not works of fiction.


Yes, I have already come to the conclusion that the Bible is not a work of fiction, but I'm not trying to prove it here. Any more than the poster who I was addressing tried to prove that it is fiction - he simply assumed that, and based the (loaded) question 'why is it more true than any other work of fiction' on that assumption. I wasn't willing to share that assumption by answering the question like "well it's more true than other works of fiction because... [argument ensues]" nor did I.

A difference is I'm not saying something like "not believing the Bible is stupid" or "people who don't believe the Bible are wasting their time" and "we should disregard all non-believers for they have no place in society" and similar stunning pieces of drivel.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby DSenette » Mon Apr 02, 2012 5:54 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
Annihilist wrote:Why is the Bible/Qur'an more "true" or "Gospel" than a book like Harry Potter or 1984, for example?

"Religious texts" are works of fiction, and they are no more "true" than any other work of fiction. It is foolish to hold up the bIble and say "this is true, this is the Word of God, this is Gospel", and hold up another fictional book and say "this is fiction, this isn't true". The only thing that suggests the Bible is absolutely true is, well, the Bible itself. It describes itself as true, and as the Word of God. So it's not really a valid text to live your life by.

That's not how the reasoning goes.

Let's say you come across a book lying in the road, and it describes how you can improve how your car operates and how you can fix problems with it as they arise. Let's say you try out some of the suggestions and they do improve the running of your car, and you did have one or two problems with your car and the book successfully suggests ways to fix them. Would you go on to tentatively conclude that the book might not be a work of fiction but might in fact be the operating manual for your car as it claims it is? Well, you might. And you might be wrong to do so - but, equally, you might be right to do so.

The Bible claims it is the operating manual for living a satisfying life on earth - how 'loving the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and loving your neighbour as yourself' will bring satisfaction that no amount of wealth can bring - and, well, many of those that have followed the advice therein have found the advice accurate. Does that mean it's true? Of course not. Proof doesn't work that way. But it's one part of why people put faith in religious texts: Because, outside of mathematical situations - ie in the real world - the only 'proof' you ever get for anything is, as they say, in the eating. Or, as the Bible says, seek and you will find.

now, let's say you find a book on the ground, and it's got some stuff about how to fix your car, and you try that stuff and it works, but i have the EXACT same model of car, and i try the same things, and it doesn't work, even though to the best of our knowledge i tried the exact same things that you did? or with the same book, it's got some good car repair advice, but it also has some stuff about not eating pork, or hating homosexuals, or killing anyone who doesn't use the same manual to fix their cars?

Jave D wrote:
DSenette wrote:
Jave D wrote:
DSenette wrote:
Jave D wrote:Oh, did I say that?

(No.)

then could you clarify how you've come to the conclusion that the bible isn't a work of fiction again?


Key word being justification, and that it's what you believe. I however don't need to tell you that "the only thing that suggests the Bible is true" is not the Bible itself, but rather the beliefs of millions and millions of people who aren't you
because that pretty much suggests that your statement is "well a shit ton of people believe it's not fiction, so...."


I am responding to a comment that said "the only thing that suggests the Bible is true is the Bible," whereas the plain and rather obvious truth is that millions of living and breathing people suggest the Bible is true, thus that comment was not accurate.

I'm not concluding through this argument that the Bible isn't a work of fiction at all. I wasn't offering proofs of its non-fictionhood. I was more addressing the argument of whether it's valid as a way of life and meaningful; i.e., "it's stupid and a waste of time."

Jave D wrote:This is a good question which is answered by the fact that the Bible and Quran are not works of fiction.


Yes, I have already come to the conclusion that the Bible is not a work of fiction, but I'm not trying to prove it here. Any more than the poster who I was addressing tried to prove that it is fiction - he simply assumed that, and based the (loaded) question 'why is it more true than any other work of fiction' on that assumption. I wasn't willing to share that assumption by answering the question like "well it's more true than other works of fiction because... [argument ensues]" nor did I.

A difference is I'm not saying something like "not believing the Bible is stupid" or "people who don't believe the Bible are wasting their time" and "we should disregard all non-believers for they have no place in society" and similar stunning pieces of drivel.
why should he be expected to justify his statement that the bible is a work of fiction if you're not willing to justify your statement that it isn't?

you've already assumed that the bible ISN'T a work of fiction, so you're in the exact same boat as he is.

the fact of the matter is that the bible, or the qur'an or any other "holy book" only has itself as evidence of it's lineage....the book itself claims that it's the word of god, and thus those that believe it claim that as well. there's no external claim outside of the book that it is the word of god. none. at all. so it has EXACTLY the same amount of external support for it's factualness (i.e. non fictionness) as any modern work of fiction, EXCEPT that modern works of fiction are required to be listed as such when they're published.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Jave D » Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:08 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:
Jave D wrote:
DSenette wrote:
Jave D wrote:
DSenette wrote:
Jave D wrote:Oh, did I say that?

(No.)

then could you clarify how you've come to the conclusion that the bible isn't a work of fiction again?


Key word being justification, and that it's what you believe. I however don't need to tell you that "the only thing that suggests the Bible is true" is not the Bible itself, but rather the beliefs of millions and millions of people who aren't you
because that pretty much suggests that your statement is "well a shit ton of people believe it's not fiction, so...."


I am responding to a comment that said "the only thing that suggests the Bible is true is the Bible," whereas the plain and rather obvious truth is that millions of living and breathing people suggest the Bible is true, thus that comment was not accurate.

I'm not concluding through this argument that the Bible isn't a work of fiction at all. I wasn't offering proofs of its non-fictionhood. I was more addressing the argument of whether it's valid as a way of life and meaningful; i.e., "it's stupid and a waste of time."

Jave D wrote:This is a good question which is answered by the fact that the Bible and Quran are not works of fiction.


Yes, I have already come to the conclusion that the Bible is not a work of fiction, but I'm not trying to prove it here. Any more than the poster who I was addressing tried to prove that it is fiction - he simply assumed that, and based the (loaded) question 'why is it more true than any other work of fiction' on that assumption. I wasn't willing to share that assumption by answering the question like "well it's more true than other works of fiction because... [argument ensues]" nor did I.

A difference is I'm not saying something like "not believing the Bible is stupid" or "people who don't believe the Bible are wasting their time" and "we should disregard all non-believers for they have no place in society" and similar stunning pieces of drivel.
why should he be expected to justify his statement that the bible is a work of fiction if you're not willing to justify your statement that it isn't?

you've already assumed that the bible ISN'T a work of fiction, so you're in the exact same boat as he is.


Because his statement came first? Because he's trying to make an argument (we should dismiss religion, it has no place in society, it's stupid, etc) and I'm merely responding to his?

And I already pointed out a difference as to why he and I are not in the same boat. Yes, we make assumptions. But his is a launching point for unmitigated hostility. I'm not saying anyone's belief or lack of belief is stupid. Is that really the same boat?

the fact of the matter is that the bible, or the qur'an or any other "holy book" only has itself as evidence of it's lineage....the book itself claims that it's the word of god, and thus those that believe it claim that as well. there's no external claim outside of the book that it is the word of god. none. at all. so it has EXACTLY the same amount of external support for it's factualness (i.e. non fictionness) as any modern work of fiction, EXCEPT that modern works of fiction are required to be listed as such when they're published.


There is no external claim, or outside of the people who believe it to be fiction, that it is fiction either. Since when does anyone need some sort of external validation for what they do or do not believe? Particularly when it comes to matters of theology.
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That's too bad.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby elasto » Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:57 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:now, let's say you find a book on the ground, and it's got some stuff about how to fix your car, and you try that stuff and it works, but i have the EXACT same model of car, and i try the same things, and it doesn't work, even though to the best of our knowledge i tried the exact same things that you did? or with the same book, it's got some good car repair advice, but it also has some stuff about not eating pork, or hating homosexuals, or killing anyone who doesn't use the same manual to fix their cars?

Well, if it doesn't work for you - if being kind and loving to your fellow man brings you no happiness or satisfaction for example - then it'd be odd for you to put your faith in such advice for life - that should go without saying. The rational thing would definitely be to ignore such advice. And if noone ever got happiness or satisfaction from a life serving God and their fellow man, well, then the advice can be thrown away as just plain clearly wrong.

But, well, if others do get happiness from following the advice within but you don't, it could just be that you're doing it wrong. One ought to be humble enough to at least consider such a possibility. Perhaps you're reading allegory and metaphors too literally - or taking passages out of context, for example. It'd definitely be worth double-checking with a wise person who follows that core precept of Jesus' teaching - acting in a kind, respectful and self-sacrificial manner towards your fellow man - how to interpret those sections.

Of course, it'd definitely not be worth taking too much notice of any self-declared Christian people and organisations that clearly don't act in such a kind, respectful and self-sacrificial manner. If they can't get something even that basic right, why would they get anything slightly more complicated right? After all, with a book as long as the Bible, it's not hard to find passages that can be interpreted to suit you - whatever your nefarious, self-serving purposes and prejudices might be. Unfortunately, that narrows the number of people you could talk to about the Bible quite considerably - because a lot of self-declared Christians do manage to get even that wrong. Them's the breaks, though, sadly.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby DSenette » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:13 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
DSenette wrote:now, let's say you find a book on the ground, and it's got some stuff about how to fix your car, and you try that stuff and it works, but i have the EXACT same model of car, and i try the same things, and it doesn't work, even though to the best of our knowledge i tried the exact same things that you did? or with the same book, it's got some good car repair advice, but it also has some stuff about not eating pork, or hating homosexuals, or killing anyone who doesn't use the same manual to fix their cars?

Well, if it doesn't work for you - if being kind and loving to your fellow man brings you no happiness or satisfaction for example - then it'd be odd for you to put your faith in such advice for life - that should go without saying. The rational thing would definitely be to ignore such advice. And if noone ever got happiness or satisfaction from a life serving God and their fellow man, well, then the advice can be thrown away as just plain clearly wrong.

But, well, if others do get happiness from following the advice within but you don't, it could just be that you're doing it wrong. Perhaps you're reading allegory and metaphors too literally - or taking passages out of context, for example. It'd definitely be worth double-checking with a wise person who follows that core precept of the Bible - acting lovingly towards God and acting in a self-sacrificial manner towards his fellow man - how to interpret those sections. It'd definitely not be worth taking any notice of any self-declared Christian people and organisations that clearly don't act in a loving and self-sacrificial manner towards their fellow man - be they homosexuals, unbelievers or anything else. With a book as long as the Bible, it's not hard to find passages that can be interpreted to suit you whatever your nefarious self-serving purpose or prejudice might be.
man it's so great that the all knowing, all loving, all mighty creator of everything left things so open ended (and in so many different books, unless of course the bible is the only real one written by god). who decides what is to be taken literal in the bible (jesus was LITERALLY the son of God and he LITERALLY rose from the dead) and what's not supposed to be taken literally as it's written (pork is dirty, you can beat your wife if she talks back, you should kill your kids if they talk back to you, rape is cool as long as it's the wife/daughter of one of your enemies, etc... etc... etc...)? who decides which interpretation of taht is right? and who is doing it wrong? like, are baptists doing it wrong? or the catholics? surely the christian scientists can't be right? what about the pentacostals?

Jave D wrote:
DSenette wrote:
Jave D wrote:
DSenette wrote:
Jave D wrote:
DSenette wrote:
Jave D wrote:Oh, did I say that?

(No.)

then could you clarify how you've come to the conclusion that the bible isn't a work of fiction again?


Key word being justification, and that it's what you believe. I however don't need to tell you that "the only thing that suggests the Bible is true" is not the Bible itself, but rather the beliefs of millions and millions of people who aren't you
because that pretty much suggests that your statement is "well a shit ton of people believe it's not fiction, so...."


I am responding to a comment that said "the only thing that suggests the Bible is true is the Bible," whereas the plain and rather obvious truth is that millions of living and breathing people suggest the Bible is true, thus that comment was not accurate.

I'm not concluding through this argument that the Bible isn't a work of fiction at all. I wasn't offering proofs of its non-fictionhood. I was more addressing the argument of whether it's valid as a way of life and meaningful; i.e., "it's stupid and a waste of time."

Jave D wrote:This is a good question which is answered by the fact that the Bible and Quran are not works of fiction.


Yes, I have already come to the conclusion that the Bible is not a work of fiction, but I'm not trying to prove it here. Any more than the poster who I was addressing tried to prove that it is fiction - he simply assumed that, and based the (loaded) question 'why is it more true than any other work of fiction' on that assumption. I wasn't willing to share that assumption by answering the question like "well it's more true than other works of fiction because... [argument ensues]" nor did I.

A difference is I'm not saying something like "not believing the Bible is stupid" or "people who don't believe the Bible are wasting their time" and "we should disregard all non-believers for they have no place in society" and similar stunning pieces of drivel.
why should he be expected to justify his statement that the bible is a work of fiction if you're not willing to justify your statement that it isn't?

you've already assumed that the bible ISN'T a work of fiction, so you're in the exact same boat as he is.


Because his statement came first? Because he's trying to make an argument (we should dismiss religion, it has no place in society, it's stupid, etc) and I'm merely responding to his?

And I already pointed out a difference as to why he and I are not in the same boat. Yes, we make assumptions. But his is a launching point for unmitigated hostility. I'm not saying anyone's belief or lack of belief is stupid. Is that really the same boat?

the fact of the matter is that the bible, or the qur'an or any other "holy book" only has itself as evidence of it's lineage....the book itself claims that it's the word of god, and thus those that believe it claim that as well. there's no external claim outside of the book that it is the word of god. none. at all. so it has EXACTLY the same amount of external support for it's factualness (i.e. non fictionness) as any modern work of fiction, EXCEPT that modern works of fiction are required to be listed as such when they're published.


There is no external claim, or outside of the people who believe it to be fiction, that it is fiction either. Since when does anyone need some sort of external validation for what they do or do not believe? Particularly when it comes to matters of theology.
there's an almost overwhelming amount of external evidence that suggests the bible is mostly (if not entirely) a work of fiction (especially when it comes to the parts that people actually care about....the begats are all probably somewhat factual....except for the age). the literary style used to write most of the thing corresponds to the style used in fiction of the time, many parts of the book are almost word for word lifted from works of fiction of the time (see gilgamesh), taking into account the actual mythical/magical claims of the book and comparing them to reality, etc...

EVERYONE should need some sort of external validation for what they do and do not believe. the fact that people don't seek external validation of items before they believe them isn't a good thing. and it doesn't mean that it shouldn't be something that's needed.

the fact that you're "being nice" and he's "being a big meanie head" has absolutely no bearing on your claims that the book isn't fiction.
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"The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place." ~Andre Codresu (re: "the Rapture")
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