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2/1/12 12:21 AM
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Ridgeback
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 And by "small" I don't mean "infrequent."  I mean that there is a way to contribute to a conversation and there is a way to mostly play the role of critiquer.  I honestly have no idea what you believe or what you stand for because I don't see any of your posts that bring these things out.  I know what granpa believes and stands for.

And context is everything when it comes to how I deal with many of these anti-religionists.  They are resurrecting the sentiments that led to some of the worst murder sprees in history and a lot of people are buying into this.  There are anti-religionists on the OG who think it should be against the law to raise children in a religious tradition since this is "child abuse."  Now when people start claiming I am a child abuser I get a little crabby in my responses.  

Also, it is sometimes hard to be patient when people are both ignorant and arrogant at the same time.  I could take brilliant and arrogant (ahem) but the sheer pride in so much laziness does indeed bring out the worst in me.
2/1/12 12:34 AM
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Ali
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Generally, I ask questions for my own education.

I disagree with much of what is written here (by you, yes, but others as well) and don't/can't post in response to any but a small fraction of it, and often don't think people would or should (necessarily) care if I did. (I'm ready to "educate" if I think I'm up to it and someone is willing, but the those two conditions are very rarely simultaneous!) So I pick my spots.

In brief, if you feel singled out it might be because a) you said something that piques my interest, or b) you said something I think is really wrongheaded on one level or other and I'm interested in your revisitation of it.

I don't think of teleology as "the assigning of worth or meaning" either, by the way. (And again, I'm not sure if that's at all where you're going). That is, such assignment, by whatever agency, is normally done after the event or fact. A Telos would be to assign a goal (or an eschaton?) already, no?
2/1/12 12:44 AM
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Ridgeback
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Ali - Generally, I ask questions for my own education.

I disagree with much of what is written here (by you, yes, but others as well) and don't/can't post in response to any but a small fraction of it, and often don't think people would or should (necessarily) care if I did. (I'm ready to "educate" if I think I'm up to it and someone is willing, but the those two conditions are very rarely simultaneous!) So I pick my spots.

In brief, if you feel singled out it might be because a) you said something that piques my interest, or b) you said something I think is really wrongheaded on one level or other and I'm interested in your revisitation of it.

I don't think of teleology as "the assigning of worth or meaning" either, by the way. (And again, I'm not sure if that's at all where you're going). That is, such assignment, by whatever agency, is normally done after the event or fact. A Telos would be to assign a goal (or an eschaton?) already, no?

 I never claimed that teleology was the assigning of worth or meaning.  Two different issues, but related in the sense that granpa isn't owning up to the differences between observable, repeatable science and the philosophical interpretive paradigms by which those phenomena are given meaning.

My basic contention is that all humans essentially stand on the same ground when it comes to constructing theories of reality.  No theoretical framework exists apart from at least one or more metaphysical assumptions which can't, by nature, be proven.  Hence the fact that the atheist is in the same boat as the theist at the level of ontology.  Now granpa is focusing on the manifestation of a theory of reality rather than on the philosophical underpinnings of that theory.  I was trying to get him to explore those underpinnings and at least admit that when he does assign meaning or worth to any aspect of the universe he is doing so not out of some kind of pure observation of said universe, but rather because he has subscribed to a theory of reality that his transposed over said universe.  But since his subscription is derivative he isn't going to go there and so will never admit to my basic contention.

Every time granpa uses the word "religious" replace it with the word Jew and every time he uses the word "religion" replace it with Judaism.  See how that sounds to you.  
2/1/12 12:52 AM
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Ali
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I'm not defending granpa's posts (though again, if I were able to parse them all out, I'd agree with some points and not others. I think he's no "idiot" at all, and I think he's engaging the level of "folk religion" more often than not, which is the way most religious folk do -- especially when exercising political power; so there are very good reasons not to spend too much time arguing with "the best" in religion). To the extent it occurred to me to step in, it was very early on before I saw he was ok with playing pugnacious, too. Then... ok... have at it.

I think much of Harris' rant has merit and deserves engagement it didn't get. (And I have no idea if you have paid enough attention to know that I'm highly critical of Harris, by the way, while somewhat defensive of him in the face of some other critics. He easily writes the worst books of the "the four horsemen," not having had a body of work prior to The End of Faith).

Is "all humans essentially standing on the same ground when it comes to constructing theories of reality" a statement of relativism? It reads that way.

(And herein is part of the problem with posting on forums -- it may be that very soon we get to "you have to read x and y and z that I've read to begin to dialogue with me about what I understood by those things and what I mean". Or type incredibly long, and many posts to unpack things such as your second paragraph).

I see that you didn't claim that teleology was the assignment of meaning. (Which is why "again, I'm not sure if that's at all where you're going". Please note I try to be careful about these attributions, and ask your indulgence in granting that it wasn't an unreasonable guess given the order of sentences and posts). And I'm not noticing what you're calling "teleological thinking" in granpa's post, either.
2/1/12 11:24 AM
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inlikeflynn
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Granpa - 
inlikeflynn - 
Granpa - 
inlikeflynn - 
Granpa - People have been murdering, torturing, persecuting other people from the beginning of time solely because of the ignorance brought about by religious thinking. You cannot, in all sincerity, possibly deny this. And though I cannot provide that number (for obvious reasons), I am quite confident that if you were to add that up, it would dwarf the number of people killed by any one or group who claimed to be atheist.


LOL @ this gem. Congratulations Granpa, you've managed to make angryinch look like a Rhodes Scholar by comparison, and that is no small task. Do you even read what you are writing?


Resolving to personal insults when you can't intelligently argue something. What a surprise.


What am I supposed to intelligently argue here, your concrete assertion that "since the beginning of time people have been killing each other soley as the result of religious thinking"? And you know this how? Can you point me to the time machine you used to go back and observe this or the written historical accounts you've read, which somehow existed before recorded history? How about we discuss the number of people killed because of religion, which admittedly, you have no idea how many there were, but gosh darnit, your confidence is a good substitute for empirical data, right? Certainly more compelling than the sources that The Stewed Owl provided.


Luckily, we have this thing nowadays called historical evidence that paints a clear picture on religious, ritualistic sacrifices, the genocide and persecution of people solely because they worshiped a different god, and all manner of atrocities committed in the name of some unfounded religious belief.

I suggest you pick up a history book.


We have history books that go back to the beginning of time?
Do tell, that would be an interesting read.

And, these history books, do they detail the number of people killed for the religious reasons you describe above? Do they also talk about the people killed in the conquests of Ghengis Kahn, Alexander the Great, and the Roman Empire, or will you argue those were religious in nature? Or how about the 20th century, we have fairly detailed numbers of those killed by Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot, to name a few. And before you start ranting "They didn't kill because of atheism", I'm not arguing that as it is irrelevant to my point, which is that humans kill for a myriad of reasons, mostly becuase of greed and lust for power. Is religion sometimes used as an excuse? Sure. But, I think history, particularly recent history, shows that in the absence of religion, people are at least as bloodthirsty and cruel.
2/1/12 1:37 PM
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Ridgeback
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 For the record granpa, the Stewed Owl has brought up countless specific historical examples to back up his claims and you have produced exactly zero so far near as I can tell.  Maybe you are different, but I find most anti-religionists have a very poor grasp of history for the simple fact that they never read history by historians but rather take their very limited exposure to history directly from the propaganda manuals released regularly by the New Atheists (who can't be serious about what they are doing).  None of the New Atheists have any historical training and it shows.  I don't know why you would look to people like that to be your authorities when their are plenty of brilliant atheist scholars writing and producing excellent works of history, philosophy, and even literature.  Why not shoot for the highest quality of what your religion has to offer? 

I guess Ali would say that you are entrenched in folk atheism.
2/1/12 2:29 PM
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Ali
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Ridgeback
I guess Ali would say that you are entrenched in folk atheism.


No, I wouldn't. But I do think that's funny.
2/1/12 8:33 PM
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Granpa
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Ridgeback -   <span style="line-height: 20px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); font-size: small; ">There is nothing metaphysical in understanding that we are made of star stuff. That billions of years ago, a star died so we may live. That a little squirrel like creature managed to survive a global catastrophe which allowed mammals to evolve into the dominant species on earth. I am here because my genes survived through it all, and through this evolution I am able to appreciate all that has come before me and look forward to all that will come after. There is wonder in the natural world and the natural process that absolutely dwarfs the ideas propagated by some bronze age thinkers. 


Fr. Coyne, the Vatican's chief astronomer, makes a very similiar argument for theism.  After all, it was atheists who resisted the idea of the Big Bang and tried to argue that the universe was so vast and life so rare that it can't be considered important.  Now it appears that the size of the universe and the age of the universe and all those stages that it went through were essential for life to exist.  

You are engaging in teleology and won't even acknowledge it. In simple terms you don't understand enough basic philosophy to see where the problem is.  Basically all I see is a fundamentalist Christian who moved laterally into fundamentalist atheism.  The same basic trust in authorities, the same simplistic black and white view of reality, and the same low level of education permeating every post.  <br type="_moz" /></span>


That's funny, in you I just see someone who thinks anyone who doesn't think like him is ignorant. And who isn't courageous enough to admit he might be wrong about his unfounded beliefs.

metaphysics: of or relating to the transcendent or to a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses

Nothing I have relayed so far is beyond the perception of my senses. We have physical evidence for the survival of our genes, we have observable evidence for the formation of solar systems. What exactly have I stated that goes beyond what we can perceive?

You need a much better argument than just your opinion Ridgeback.
2/1/12 8:54 PM
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Granpa
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TheStewedOwl - Okay, now could you give me an _actual_ example of a culture “violently opposed to slavery that pre-dated Christianity”? And by “violently opposed,” I presume you mean “advocating and conducting actions designed to free slaves, probably at some personal cost”?

The early Christian Church certainly did. Well before the time the Jain sutras were being transcribed, St. Augustine was leading his parish in Africa in direct-action missions to rescue poor people who had been seized by slaves. St. Augustine’s parish stormed slaver ships and pulled the slaves out of the slaver’s custody at considerable risk to their own life and liberty. St. Augustine used the Roman court system to try to free slaves legally. He interviewed freed slaves and transcribed the interview reports to let other know what was happening and how the slave trade worked, and used church funds and donations from parish members to buy slaves’ freedom. St. Patrick demanded that pagan kings stop taking people as slaves, and denounced slavery as evil. Gregory of Nissa (335 - 394) publicly denounced slavery as an evil (“If man is in the likeness of God, and rules the whole earth, and has been granted authority over everything on earth from God, who is his buyer, tell me? Who is his seller? To God alone belongs this power; or rather, not even to God himself. For his gracious gifts, it says, are irrevocable (Romans 11:29). God would not therefore reduce the human race to slavery, since he himself, when we had been enslaved to sin, spontaneously recalled us to freedom. But if God does not enslave what is free, who is he that sets his own power above God’s?”). St. John Chrysostom [345 A.D. - 407 A.D.], the Patriarch of Constantinople, said "Slavery is the fruit of covetousness, of extravagance, of insatiable greediness".


Don't confuse indentured servitude with slavery. There was in almost every culture wide-spread resistance to slavery that pre-dated Christianity. I'm not denying that there were many Christians that were vocal in their opposition of slavery, but don't act like they were the first.

Secondly, there were many Christians who were part of the abolitionist movement yes, but there were many more who would defend slavery citing biblical text and verse. Passages in the Bible have historically been used by both pro-slavery advocates and slavery abolitionists to support their respective views. This again, points to the religious cherry-picking that has always existed because, as much as god tried, it's clear he wasn't very good at communicating his point across ... or maybe he just enjoys the chaos and confusion.


Do bad people misuse holy scripture to justify their own evil? Without a doubt, even as atheists misuse and misquote scripture to try to denigrate the faith of others. And yet, numerous Christian tracts and pamphlets (most available on the Internet) successfully defended the Abolition movement against the claims of those misusing them by correctly quoting and interpreting scripture. And guess what? Our side won. The Truth will set you free, as a famous Christian minister once said.




The difference is that those Christians who supported slavery, were well within their right to do so as followers of the Bible.

"However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way." (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

"When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment." - (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

"When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property." (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

"Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ." (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

"Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them." (1 Timothy 6:1-2 NLT)

It's quite evident that the Christians that were opposed to slavery CLEARLY were not inspired by the Bible to oppose it. Once again, the Biblical cherry picking fails to impress.

2/1/12 9:04 PM
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Granpa
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TheStewedOwl - 
What about the millions of people of all ages slaughtered because people thought doing so would ensure that their crops would grow that season?


I accept the responsibility for these heinous acts on behalf of all Christians everywhere, Granpa.


You don't have to do that, I was merely making a comment against the idea that religious teachings by themselves cannot be enough of a motivating factor for murder.


Religion encourages the separation of our species. It puts unnecessary labels on people. Why would anyone want that if not to satisfy their own ego?


There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)


Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah's witness, Baptist, Evangelicals, Born Again Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Taoists... I could go on and on... oh and Atheist, a word that wouldn't exist if we didn't have religion. We would just all be people.


Ridgeback, I understand (and so do you) that life is precious because I live, because I love, because I feel compassion. I do not have to attribute those qualities to the existence of a supernatural being watching over my every step. As a matter of fact, to think so would make your compassion, your love, your kindness insincere. It would imply that if god wasn't looking over your shoulder, you would be a selfish, murderous bastard.


I’ll never understand why atheists think that is a good or even rational argument. I am often a selfish bastard even though I know God is looking over my shoulder. I might well wind up in Hell due to my sins, yet still feel that my duty is to follow God’s command to my best ability even if I knew I had a ticket on that Hell-Bound Train. I try to do my best, primarily due to my love for my Creator, not the fear of punishment.


I do the same, the only difference is that I don't need to believe in something that may or may not exist to compel me to be good. At the same time, I am not subject to hating entire groups of people simply because an imaginary god told me to (and I'm not saying this about you specifically, but you know as well as I do how many Christians feel about homosexuals).

When you look at the evidence from the animal kingdom, especially our primate cousins, (of which none has read the bible or any other religious text), you will find that compassion, and caring for other creatures even of different species, is intrinsic. And the degree of this seems to correlate directly with the aptitude of the creature, meaning that the more intelligent the creature is, the more likely he is to exhibit these qualities.


Are you on - Never mind.

Our primate cousins regularly rape, murder, bully, and torture members of their own species. Dolphins, reputedly also highly intelligent, do the same thing. Have you ever even taken a biology class?


Are we talking about our intrinsic flaws or qualities here? Because humans also regularly rape, murder, bully, and torture members of their own species. And what's more, 95 of those humans do so claiming to believe in a loving god.

So while my argument is that kindness and compassion exist without the need to read the bible, you certainly can't argue the other way around. Belief in god has done nothing to curb human violence against each other and every other species that has ever lived that man has interacted with.
2/1/12 9:09 PM
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Granpa
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Ridgeback -  For the record granpa, the Stewed Owl has brought up countless specific historical examples to back up his claims and you have produced exactly zero so far near as I can tell.  Maybe you are different, but I find most anti-religionists have a very poor grasp of history for the simple fact that they never read history by historians but rather take their very limited exposure to history directly from the propaganda manuals released regularly by the New Atheists (who can't be serious about what they are doing).  None of the New Atheists have any historical training and it shows.  I don't know why you would look to people like that to be your authorities when their are plenty of brilliant atheist scholars writing and producing excellent works of history, philosophy, and even literature.  Why not shoot for the highest quality of what your religion has to offer? 

I guess Ali would say that you are entrenched in folk atheism.<br type="_moz" />


It's clear Stewed Owl is much more familiar with historical details than I am. I don't know if he's a history major or simply has a much better memory than I do. I am not sitting here with a history book in hand. However I have read plenty of historical text and I do know that the opposition to slavery predated Christian dogma. If you would like, I can come back with specifics at a later time.

Forgive me as I am trying to answer back to everyone's rebuttal while still waiting for this "proof of god" that I was promised.
2/1/12 9:37 PM
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Granpa
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Ridgeback - 
Ali - Generally, I ask questions for my own education.

I disagree with much of what is written here (by you, yes, but others as well) and don't/can't post in response to any but a small fraction of it, and often don't think people would or should (necessarily) care if I did. (I'm ready to "educate" if I think I'm up to it and someone is willing, but the those two conditions are very rarely simultaneous!) So I pick my spots.

In brief, if you feel singled out it might be because a) you said something that piques my interest, or b) you said something I think is really wrongheaded on one level or other and I'm interested in your revisitation of it.

I don't think of teleology as "the assigning of worth or meaning" either, by the way. (And again, I'm not sure if that's at all where you're going). That is, such assignment, by whatever agency, is normally done after the event or fact. A Telos would be to assign a goal (or an eschaton?) already, no?

 I never claimed that teleology was the assigning of worth or meaning.  Two different issues, but related in the sense that granpa isn't owning up to the differences between observable, repeatable science and the philosophical interpretive paradigms by which those phenomena are given meaning.

My basic contention is that all humans essentially stand on the same ground when it comes to constructing theories of reality.  No theoretical framework exists apart from at least one or more metaphysical assumptions which can't, by nature, be proven.  Hence the fact that the atheist is in the same boat as the theist at the level of ontology.  Now granpa is focusing on the manifestation of a theory of reality rather than on the philosophical underpinnings of that theory.  I was trying to get him to explore those underpinnings and at least admit that when he does assign meaning or worth to any aspect of the universe he is doing so not out of some kind of pure observation of said universe, but rather because he has subscribed to a theory of reality that his transposed over said universe.  But since his subscription is derivative he isn't going to go there and so will never admit to my basic contention.

Every time granpa uses the word "religious" replace it with the word Jew and every time he uses the word "religion" replace it with Judaism.  See how that sounds to you.  <br type="_moz" />


Ridgeback, again I say, you really do not understand what Atheism is. You clearly do not.

With statements like "you cannot get meaning from Atheism", you are making incorrect assumptions about what Atheism is. You view Atheism as a closed door and that simply is not the case. An Atheist can draw meaning, and feel wonder, and enjoy mystery, and have all of that based in the physical world. 75% of all physicists are Atheist, and they entertain ideas about parallel universes, matter made up of octaves, multiple dimensions. Someone like you might look at that and declare "well that's metaphysical, or that's religion" and it's not. And you want to know why it's not? Because all of those ideas are based upon our understanding of the physical world. An the beauty is, that all those ideas are subject to change. We can discover something about the natural world that would make us crumple up any contemplation of parallel universes, multiple dimensions, etc. and throw it in the garbage.

Religion on the other hand IS a closed door. God must exist. The bible/qu'ran/torah must be the perfect word of god. And when religion doesn't quite square up with what we know about the physical universe, some religious people say "well you can't take those books literally, but Jesus is still the son of God!", "God still exists", or "All religions are just different paths to the same God". Other just downright cover their eyes and ears and yell "la la la la la la la, I don't want to hear it!".

Where does that kind of thinking get us exactly? Where has it gotten us? You know why women in certain parts of the world aren't allowed to read? You know why little boys and girls worldwide have their genitals mutilated on a daily basis? You know why we can have a member of our government go on national television and tell an entire group of people that they are sub-human? Because we have to respect religion. We have to respect that which has no basis in reality.

Why?
2/2/12 6:13 PM
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TheStewedOwl
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Granpa: You know why we can have a member of our government go on national television and tell an entire group of people that they are sub-human? Because we have to respect religion.


Which incident was this?
2/2/12 6:18 PM
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TheStewedOwl
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Granpa: There was in almost every culture wide-spread resistance to slavery that pre-dated Christianity. I'm not denying that there were many Christians that were vocal in their opposition of slavery, but don't act like they were the first.


I think most people object to being enslaved, themselves. That's hardly surprising. I'm referring to people who object to the principle of slavery, itself, whether it is applied to themselves or other peoples.

So, again, could you tell me which pre-Christian societies there was violent and widespread opposition to slavery? Especially inasmuch as this sentiment existed, as you say, "in almost every culture."
2/2/12 6:21 PM
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Ridgeback
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 Granpa,

The Oxford English Dictionary Definition of atheism is the following:

    Disbelief in, or denial of, the existence of a God. Also, Disregard of duty to God, godlessness (practicalatheism) 


I see nothing about all those other religious beliefs you got from your guru Sam Harris superimposed on this definition.  
2/2/12 6:48 PM
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TheStewedOwl
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I do the same, the only difference is that I don't need to believe in something that may or may not exist to compel me to be good. At the same time, I am not subject to hating entire groups of people simply because an imaginary god told me to (and I'm not saying this about you specifically, but you know as well as I do how many Christians feel about homosexuals).


I see. And all those people who don't believe in God (not just "High Church atheists" of a liberal frame of mind), they are all solidly in support of homosexual marriage, yes? No atheists have ever discriminated against a man or woman just because they were gay, right? And those labor camps in atheist Cuba where homosexuals were "taught" to be properly macho heterosexuals, those never existed, right?

Castro has finally admitted to them. The Cuban health system pays fro free sex-change operations, but gay marriage is still illegal, as it probably is in the atheist states of North Korea, Laos, China, and Vietnam.

http://washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-confidential/fidel-castro-apologizes-sending-cuban-gays-labor-camps-foreign-policy-says

Actually, a lot of Christians seem to be very okay with homosexuality. Lutherans and Anglicans and Methodists have ordained openly gay priests and even bishops:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/weblogs/belief-blog/2010/may/04/gay-lutheran-pastors-reinstated/

I was just in Boston and lost count of how many churches I saw with a rainbow flag sticker out front on the prayer service schedule and an announcement for gay-inclusive paryer services.

I sometimes think atheists are a little unclear on the concept that there is a whole Christian culture that is decidedly liberal and social-justice oriented. Atheists often complain about Christian encroachment into the secular world with prayer in the schools, creationism, etc.; I never hear any of them complain about the Pope decrying the excesses of capitalism, or anti-war marches by Quakers or Methodists, or support for illegal aliens by church groups. They complain about most Christian leaders, but never say anything bad about politically involved Christians like the Rev Dr. Martin Luther King or Dorothy Day.

Even the committed conservative Christians I personally know, whether Catholic or Protestant, may disagree with the concept of gay marriage and consider homosexuality a sin, but are unfailingly courteous and respectful to the gay people they know - unlike many of the secular people I know . Many Christians are capable of separating the sinner from the sin. While we often tend to focus on sexual sins (because, well, they are a lot more interesting to talk about) to the exclusion of others, is a homosexual act any worse than an employer who cheats his employee of a living wage? Is it worse than the father who emotionally abuses and belittles his son? Is it worse than the public servant who takes a bribe?

George W. Bush seems to occupy a special place in the hatred of atheists (and many others), but I remember reading that he refused to take a public stand against homosexuality when asked to do so by a group of religious leaders, saying "Who am to categorize sin?", based on his own admitted failings as a sinner. That seems to me to be the proper response. We are all children of God, and we can rebuke the sin without hating the sinner.
2/2/12 6:58 PM
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Ridgeback
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 By the way granpa, if you would like to know the name of the philosophy you have been taught by your New Atheist gurus it is called Positivism.  In philosophical circles it has long since fallen out of favor, but it is experiencing a minor boost among those who read the works of Harris and Dawkins and Dennet.  


2/2/12 7:24 PM
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TheStewedOwl
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Granpa: When you look at the evidence from the animal kingdom, especially our primate cousins, (of which none has read the bible or any other religious text), you will find that compassion, and caring for other creatures even of different species, is intrinsic. And the degree of this seems to correlate directly with the aptitude of the creature, meaning that the more intelligent the creature is, the more likely he is to exhibit these qualities
.

Me: Our primate cousins regularly rape, murder, bully, and torture members of their own species. Dolphins, reputedly also highly intelligent, do the same thing. Have you ever even taken a biology class?

Granpa, again: Are we talking about our intrinsic flaws or qualities here? Because humans also regularly rape, murder, bully, and torture members of their own species. And what's more, 95 of those humans do so claiming to believe in a loving god.

So while my argument is that kindness and compassion exist without the need to read the bible, you certainly can't argue the other way around. Belief in god has done nothing to curb human violence against each other and every other species that has ever lived that man has interacted with.


You're changing your argument, Granpa: You said, with absolutely no evidence, that animals have intrinsic qualities of compassion and sharing, even with other species (unless of course you are, say, a mountain lion and a gazelle). When I remind you of the fact that we don't actually live in a Care-Bear movie, you respond that we humans are just as bad. So, then, animals are NOT intrinsically good, and humans (which are, by your lights, the most intelligent of animals, and thus able to exhibit the greatest degree of compassion, nonetheless also regularly rape, murder, bully and torture members of their own species. I think your argument is kind of going off the tracks here and into the gully.

If your argument now is that 95 (I'm guessing you meant 95%) believe in God and do all these terrible things while believing in a loving god, so the belief in the loving god is somehow invalid, we would have to look at a test case, such as a nation where belief in God is banned (like, I don't know, North Korea?) to see if human compassion increases. Or we could look at the declining rate of belief in God (or even church attendance) within our own society over time and see if the human virtues (including compassion, kindness, charity, insight, clarity, protection of children, commitment to marriage, etc.) have increased or decreased. I'm guessing that you might not want to go there.

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