Pseudonym wrote:At least give me some credit for not pretending that "atheism causes atrocities".
Done and gladly!
Pseudonym wrote:Indeed, a lot of my thinking was prompted by the writings of Christians from the more conservative end of the spectrum.
I have to say it looks to me like you’ve learned to interpret history from some of those same sources, too, thereby minimizing, if not ignoring altogether, the role that god-beliefs play in lots of conflicts.
Pseudonym wrote:Propositions are certainly acquired by religions as they get older, but I don't agree that this is their primary purpose, or their real advantage.
(There I go, channeling Karen Armstrong again...)
I’ll probably read Ms. Armstrong’s latest when it comes out in paperback, but what would you say is the primary purpose and real advantage of religion(s) young or old?
I might agree with you on that purpose, but as you know my view is that the downside of god belief (a vital component of almost all “religion”) outweighs the positive elements on any broad social scale.
Pseudonym wrote:Brad wrote:Ninety-nine percent of the tragedy caused by religious belief (as commonly defined) never makes the papers, but takes place in private homes and in what doesn’t happen in schools, and in many other relatively ordinary places and situations. Do I really need to explain further?
I've heard some horrific reports of abuse in military schools and prison-like "behaviour-modification" schools which are easily as bad as anything you've heard from a religious establishment. Is that the sort of thing you're talking about?
No, what I was referring to was more along the lines of the negative preparation for living that a very large proportion of believing parents impart to their children such as unnecessary fears of both supernatural deities and of human beings who don’t harbor those same fears, and such as divisive, scapegoating, and magical styles of thinking – often under the diversionary and false banner of “love,” distorted apprehensions and beliefs about gender, suspicion of science and all forms of higher learning, and a few other such minor indoctrinated impairments.
When I said “what doesn’t happen in schools,” what I was thinking of primarily at that moment was the fact that the Texas state Board of Education now has the primary influence over the textbooks that most public school students in the entire U.S. will study in the coming few years. And the majority of that BoE has quite a fundamentalist leaning. Guess what sort of things are going to left out? When those young Americans are grown, their ignorance will have unfortunate, but yet unimagined, consequences all over the world.
Pseudonym wrote:Pseudonym wrote:it remains a fact that religion seems to work and that science hasn't yet come up with something that does the job.
Brad wrote:What job, exactly?
One obvious example is that religion does a remarkable job of inspiring people to get engaged in community-building and charitable activities with people that they have little in common with (apart from, obviously, a shared religion). Science doesn't do this, because that's not its job, just like how explaining where the universe came from is not religion's job.
Brad wrote:Are you sure that you’re not setting up a false dichotomy between religion and science?
I'm certain that I'm not. I think that religion and science are fundamentally incomparable.
Of course it’s not the job of science to engage the public in social activities, so why write that, “it remains a fact that religion seems to work and that science hasn't yet come up with something that does the job” if what you were talking about as “the job” has to do with social/charitable activities? That’s why I asked if you might be setting up a false dichotomy. It looks to me like that was the case.
And religion is by no means the only motivator for people to help others. In fact, were it not for the divisive and paranoid aspects of religious dogmas and god beliefs, I think that it would be far easier for humanitarian and communitarian work to get done, and far easier to persuade larger numbers of people of the great benefits of such work for both individual service providers and the receivers of help.
Pseudonym wrote:Brad wrote:Religion "works" – sometimes to the good, but far more often than religious people want to acknowledge, very much to the detriment of humanity.
Right. It's the same with politics, democracy and any other principle which can be used to organise people. A powerful tool can be used for great good or great evil. The challenge is how to ensure that a tool is used properly.
If religion was simply a tool, that would be one thing. Even so, better tools are available - education and reason, primarily. But as tools go, religion is more like a stick of dynamite than a shovel or a hammer. In any event, as metaphors go, I think the disease model I used in a post above is far more apt than a toolbox to describe the effects of religious dogma and belief.
Pseudonym wrote:Brad wrote:
Pseudonym wrote:Given that, I think it makes sense for (many? most?) people to keep doing religion, so long as they do it right.
Right according to whom?
According to what produces the desirable results. If it encourages people to do good things and not to do bad things, then it's being done "right".
Problem: The Bible.
Another problem: The Koran.
As long as people believe that some sort of supernatural, or unseen, or immaterial, or mystical, being both exists and “inspired” or dictated those texts (and others), religion is not going to be done “right” by your definition by the majority of believers. That is because there is simply too much primitive and mean-spirited ancient tribal nonsense that appears to be “the Will of God” in those texts.
The notion that there is some sort of progress toward understanding what the posited deity “really” wants that is brought about through advancing interpretation/”hermeneutics” is, aside from defying the whole idea of an unchanging deity who provides “absolute” morality, belied by any reasonable interpretation of way too much of those texts. In any event, the world doesn’t have time to wait hundreds or thousands more years for that process to reach a safe sane conclusion, if indeed it ever would.
Pseudonym wrote:Brad wrote:Similarly, as we'd briefly discussed in the thread about Karen Armstrong, are you saying that when religion isn't about "propositions" it's more deeply about "practices?"
Practices, shared experience and a host of other things. It is true that religion acquires propositions, especially if it is a religion that becomes institutionalised, but I disagree that this is the point of religion.
Most believers would strongly disagree that their religion - the one that exists in our time - is not about propositions – ones that make all the difference, indeed actually define the purpose of the world, in their eyes.
Also, practices and shared experiences – ones that are truly beneficial – have no need of religion or religiosity whatsoever.
Pseudonym wrote:What more do you need?
I’m still trying to figure out to what degree and some sort of god or God or “divine presence” outside of your own consciousness is included in what you consider to be your religion.
In a past thread you allowed something to the effect that you considered your beliefs to be consistent with evidence and rationality, but you’ve never directly addressed exactly what sort of belief you were talking about nor how that belief might accord with the commonly accepted definition of the word “evidence.”
Apparently StillSearching considers his views to be essentially the same as yours, and he’s working on some sort of explanation. I’m guessing this is a rather difficult project to put into writing in a way that makes sense even to yourselves. Maybe that’s why you haven’t directly addressed that question?
Also and along the same line, I hope you might address the question I raised following this last quote from you:
Pseudonym wrote:Pseudonym wrote: The experience of something, anything at all, is immaterial, deeply personal, highly subjective and entirely inside the experiencer's own head. But I don't think it's either fair or accurate to call it "simply imaginary".
So is anything imaginary?
If so, on what basis is it appropriate to conclude whether given ideas and thought patterns are more likely imaginary than not?
Finally, in the context of this reply I’d intended to make a couple of comments about the very excellent text excerpts posted by Wonders above, but those will have to wait until next time.
Those who know the most of nature believe the least about theology. - Robert Ingersoll