What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Simplyme » Fri Nov 13, 2015 8:31 am

So then, since you've reduced the charge to "Preaching without a license" are you then withdrawing the charge of intellectual dishonesty?


In your case, aren't they one and the same?
I find it rather amusing, when thought of as ignorant or stupid(though I can be on many subjects). Especially by those who believe in a deity up in heaven watching our every move, and rewarding or punishing us after we have expired.
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby spongebob » Mon Nov 16, 2015 6:30 am

So what does religion (or lack of religion) offer? I'll tell you.

First of all, it depend on your particular definition of "religion". It means many different things to many different people. But I'll try to address what it means to a large percentage of people. To a great many, it offers the hope of eternal life after death and very little else. Whatever is required to attain this is worth it because of the alternative, eternal damnation. To these people, not believing in their religion means certain damnation and that is not a tolerable idea to most people, not even to me if I believed in such a thing.

To some it merely means a way of thinking that is better than the alternative and to some degree I have a lot of respect for these people. They at least realize that it isn't their place to decide what's best for other people but rather contain their religious ideas to how it guides their life. I consider these type of people the least offensive and most likely to be reasonable.

Now to other people, the promise of eternal life is important but perhaps less so than a realization that they are evil and doing harm. To these people, religion becomes a way to a better life and being a better person. To these people I tip my hat because they are demonstrating at least some level of self actualization and are attempting to make the world a better place by making themselves a better person. Religions of all sorts claim the ability to do this through various means and for the most part they can do it because the focus is often on the most basic things in life, such as respect and love for others. These are not profound ideas and they don't take a genius to figure them out, but for someone who grew up in a harsh environment and learned to survive by taking things from others, lessons like this aren't as obvious and someone has to show them the way. Religious leaders can do that and for the most part I see no problem with this because the main point is to help people become better human beings; I just don't believe any of the magic and hoopla that's being employed.

Now the downside to these "benefits" of religion is that once converted, many people don't stop with just becoming better human beings. Empowered with this belief in an all powerful being that knows best for all, many of these people then turn their attention to controlling other people. So instead of just focusing on loving others and helping them, they believe that the only way others can be whole is if they believe the same things about god. It's no coincidence that in many cases the very people who were the worst kind of abusive and cruel humans, now converted to a loving and "Christlike" individual they often become manipulative and forceful in that endeavor as well. Their inner nature hasn't changed much at all; they have merely changed their focus from forcing people to do horrible acts to forcing them to believe in their god and in my opinion the worst kind of person is the kind who believes completely that he knows what's best for everyone and has the will to act on it. For every loving, kind and thoughtful Christian, there's one of these monsters out there.

Is one religion better than another? Absolutely not. All religions contain within them the same core ideas with some variations. You can argue all day about this one or that one allowing for a better this or that, but ultimately you can't compare the details of a religion without taking into account the cultural aspects that are tangled within them. So if the purpose of religion is to create order in society, and I believe this is the absolute reason it exists, any religion does this job adequately and none are superior in any way. The details might vary, but the ultimate goals and intentions are the same, control people and keep order in society.

So what is the advantage of no religion at all? The only real answer is that you don't have some guru telling you all the answers and manipulating you. I am faced with all the same challenges and questions that every Christian is and I somehow deal with all of them without the "help" of Christianity or any other religion, and of course there's nothing special about me. How is this possible? Well, the obvious answer is that no religion offers us anything so unique that it can't be gotten on our own. There are some very rational and logical conclusions about how human beings should treat one another in a free and open society and people have been declaring these without the help of religion for quite a while now. Put simply, it's just not rocket science to understand that in a free society, people need to treat one another with some standard of decency or it just won't work. I value any set of standards that people work out in a transparent way far more than any set handed down on stone tables from a burning bush. Why? For one reason, we can challenge them and change them if our circumstances call for it. We can also hold ourselves to a standard that we ourselves developed. If it's from some "god", then people are always going to argue, "That's not my god! That doesn't apply to me!" And unless you live in a dark cave and never stick your head out, you know this is true. The very attacks on France this weekend are solid proof of this. And to a much lesser degree, we see religious people behaving badly every single day in all the ways human behave. Being religious does not inoculate you from being a bad person. Horribly, in many cases it offers you an "out" and it puts the entire blame on another non-existent being, Satan. So its clear that no religion has a decided advantage in keeping people from being monsters; people have to decide this for themselves.

Legends and myths will always exist as long as humans do; it appears to be a fact of human existence. And so will religion for the same reason. People have a need to believe in something more powerful than themselves and a hope for some peaceful place to rest after life is over, but that belief also appears to be subject to change. So Christianity will eventually die out and be replaced by some other religion if humans survive long enough. My biggest regret about life is that I won't get to see what things are like 5,000 years from now when Jesus still hasn't returned and people no longer celebrate Christmas and football is gone. The religious beliefs of our time will seem as silly as the stories of Zeus and Poseidon do to us.
Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
~Bertrand Russell

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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Og3 » Mon Nov 16, 2015 9:59 pm

So you're saying that some religious beliefs are bad,
Therefore all religious beliefs are bad,
Therefore my religious beliefs are bad.

These are the informal fallacies of illicit transference, specifically, the fallacy of composition (line one) and the fallacy of division (lines two and three).

And no, you didn't put it into those words, but yes, this is a valid inference from your post; otherwise the reference to the attacks in Paris are meaningless and border on bigotry.
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby spongebob » Tue Nov 17, 2015 3:22 pm

Og3 wrote:So you're saying that some religious beliefs are bad,
Therefore all religious beliefs are bad,
Therefore my religious beliefs are bad.


That's not even remotely close to the meaning of what I said and it suggests you didn't even read it. I'll entertain a specific question that you think leads to this but I can't comment on this generalized response because it gives me nothing to say except that you can't be serious.

These are the informal fallacies of illicit transference, specifically, the fallacy of composition (line one) and the fallacy of division (lines two and three).


Please point to the SPECIFIC fallacies or inaccuracies or untruths that I stated and we can discuss them. This comment of yours is so far points to nothing I said so it's impossible for me to even understand it.

And no, you didn't put it into those words,


Precisely, I DID NOT. So how about you not suggest I did.

but yes, this is a valid inference from your post;


NO, it is NOT! Please point to a specific statement that supports your conclusion and please do not take anything out of context. This is most certainly NOT the intended message, nor is it a reasonable interpretation.

otherwise the reference to the attacks in Paris are meaningless and border on bigotry.


How can you possibly say that? Here's what I said:

Spongebob wrote:There are some very rational and logical conclusions about how human beings should treat one another in a free and open society and people have been declaring these without the help of religion for quite a while now. Put simply, it's just not rocket science to understand that in a free society, people need to treat one another with some standard of decency or it just won't work. I value any set of standards that people work out in a transparent way far more than any set handed down on stone tables from a burning bush. Why? For one reason, we can challenge them and change them if our circumstances call for it. We can also hold ourselves to a standard that we ourselves developed. If it's from some "god", then people are always going to argue, "That's not my god! That doesn't apply to me!" And unless you live in a dark cave and never stick your head out, you know this is true. The very attacks on France this weekend are solid proof of this. And to a much lesser degree, we see religious people behaving badly every single day in all the ways human behave. Being religious does not inoculate you from being a bad person. Horribly, in many cases it offers you an "out" and it puts the entire blame on another non-existent being, Satan.


Did you not read this entire paragraph? It certainly seems as if you just read a piece of it and then commented without understanding the whole. All I said was that the standards that lead to a civilized society don't have to come from a religion. And when they do come from religion, they are not and will never be absolute because various religions will always exist and will never be the same, so someone, somewhere will always reject some religious standard as not theirs. Religious attacks are solid proof of this. Even within a religion. Not all Muslims support this extremist version of Islam. So this is why I don't think religious standards are the best way to go for peaceful human existence.

Now, how can you argue that my reference to the attacks on Paris are meaningless, much less bordering on bigotry????? Please keep up this approach, btw. You are about to receive a warning from the moderators for breaching the intent of the Civility Lounge. I suggest you read the forum rules for the CL.
Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
~Bertrand Russell

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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby spongebob » Tue Nov 17, 2015 4:22 pm

Og3 wrote:In the various studies that I cited above, this was one of several factors that led those surveyed to convert. It usually ranked third or fourth most frequent of the reasons stated. The leading factor, which appears to have been first or second in nearly all of the cited studies, was the fact that Jesus struck them as a good man who sacrificed himself for others and did many good works.


So the last reason appears to be the most compelling and yet the least divine. I can at least respect and acknowledge that approach.

Obviously, if Christ is who he says that He is and did the things it is said that he did, then that would be a more compelling reason to follow him than the assurance of salvation.


I agree, but there are a lot of problems with making an assumption about that, but that would be an entire conversation on its own.

Actually, both the Abraham story and the David story give pictures of a God who is quite amenable to fellowship with mankind; Judaism teaches that Adam and Eve walked with him in the cool of the evening.


I think there's some case to be made of this although there's a strong case for the opposite as well. But it just begs the question of why Jesus then.

This is because Christianity teaches that we have a tendency to sin. We can only live without sin by having our actual guilt re-assigned to someone else. "The LORD has laid the iniquity of us all upon Him."


The scope of this question seems to be creeping enormously; I don't don't know how this got all the way to original sin, but I guess at this point in this thread I'm just commenting on why this particular facet of Christianity isn't compelling for me. Of course I agree that humans have a strong tendency toward selfishness (which is the essence of sin), but that can be dealt with in non-religious ways and even with "sin-reassignment" as you put it, we still don't seem to be able to help ourselves. To return to the allegory, this is not unique to Christianity, all forms of religion deal with sin in their own way and I don't really see an advantage of this way over others. In some ways I see the Christian method as more harmful because there is this other person to blame your sin on and even if it isn't meant as a cop out, I feel that people will sometimes use it as just that, whether you believe they are "doing it right" or not. Casting your guilt onto someone else seems like a bad idea to me.

You may well say that my "sermon is but ill-preached," as the Emir said to Charlemagne in Chanson Roland, and you're welcome to that opinion. But I have done what I set out to do, namely, expound the offerings of Christianity. You may accept or reject those, and even call them "cartoonish;" I acknowledge that opinions will differ.


Thanks for your opinions.
Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
~Bertrand Russell

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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby CL Moderator » Tue Nov 17, 2015 5:31 pm

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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Simplyme » Tue Nov 17, 2015 5:35 pm

Really??????

They just want cookies and ice cream on this page.
I find it rather amusing, when thought of as ignorant or stupid(though I can be on many subjects). Especially by those who believe in a deity up in heaven watching our every move, and rewarding or punishing us after we have expired.
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby CL Moderator » Tue Nov 17, 2015 9:30 pm

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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby spongebob » Wed Nov 18, 2015 9:31 am

Simplyme wrote:Really??????

They just want cookies and ice cream on this page.


You've read the Civility Lounge rules, right?
Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
~Bertrand Russell

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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Stacie Cook » Wed Nov 18, 2015 10:50 am

I like cookies and ice cream.


What do you all think of all the different Oreo flavors?
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