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Old 12-05-2012, 05:50 AM
 
5,462 posts, read 5,942,522 times
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Originally Posted by The Theist View Post
You can't prove a negative. Unicorns are mythological creatures and a square is not a circle.
Funny you say you can't prove a negative and then go on to confidently tell us a square is not a circle. Which is it - can you prove a negative or can't you?

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A God is anything that is considered mighty or is venerated.
Not in typical English usage. Presidents aren't gods. CEOs aren't gods. The heavyweight champion of the world isn't a god.

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It isn't dependent upon belief. Zeus is a God, he doesn't exist, I don't believe in him, he is a god.
And he's imaginary. What's your point, other than word games?
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Old 12-05-2012, 05:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Theist View Post
Having said that, what would be evidence that verifies the existence of a deity, what is a deity, and how would this evidence change atheism?
First you'd need a coherent definition of what this god is and what we'd expect to see if it existed. Most religions are very hesitant to do this, mainly because those that propose concrete, specific ideas about their gods tend to have those notions contradicted by reality.

But go ahead, surprise us.
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Old 12-05-2012, 06:08 AM
 
7,802 posts, read 5,286,683 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
One should not ignore religion, nor should one be hostile to it.
Yes, we should. We should be hostile to the public use... in our halls of power, education and science... of any and all unsubstantiated claims. The core claims of religion... such as the existence of god... are entirely unsubstantiated and so yes we should fight against this.

I AM hostile to religion in many ways and I will continue to be so as I think it is the right thing to be. They are falsehoods and often quite dangerous and damaging ones.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
Religions do a lot of good in this world, artistically, charitably, socially, psychologically.
People do good and bad. Not religions. It is from people art and charity comes. Religion has little or nothing to do with it. They have managed to associate themselves in the minds of people like yourself however and they benefit from that association. Just because someone doing art or charity is religious however... this in no way suggests religion does any good or has anything to do with it.

Even if it was... which it is not but let's pretend... your point would still be problematic. Even if you imagine it does good charity or social work that still does not excuse it from our hostility. For example it can be shown that Hamass provides social services in Gaza but that does not change the fact for one minute that they are a militarized terrorist organisation with a fanatical antisemitic ideology. Louis Farrakan is said to get young black men off drugs but so what given that is a racist crackpot cult.

Be wary of turning the sentence "X does a good thing" into "X IS a good thing". It is a leap I do not think you can validly make even IF the sentence "X does a good thing" is accurate which in the case of religion it does not appear to be.
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Old 12-05-2012, 07:00 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Originally Posted by dtango View Post
That is not historically true. Religion (philosophers, theologians and priesthood –not to mention the state) did not invent any beings. They did exploit the belief of the ancient peoples to persons known by the name “gods” whom they described as normal people living side by side with the “humans” and having sex with them, mostly by raping their women.

We were taught that the ancients were naive (rather stupid) to believe in such gods and that the true gods were the ones who were transfigured and transformed by the philosophers into heavenly beings (they became heavenly by climbing a ladder to the sky!!).

Therefore, I suggest that in the future you use the expression “Today’s religion” and not “Religion” in general. Today’s believers are naive but not so the ancient ones. The ancient Greeks –the believers among them- were terrified of their gods, and for good reasons.
There are many theories about these things and you seem to have picked one, which is fine. I don't say that it's true or untrue as I haven't had the time to delve into it for myself. However, I don't see any substantive difference other than in details of myths, etc., between any religions I'm familiar with that have held sway over the past several hundred years and it seems to me that it all plays into human frailties and blind spots that I assume have always existed. If, for the sake of argument, there is some empirical basis for some of the ancient myths ... if, say, Apollo was really a space alien with seemingly godlike powers who, with some of his friends, hung out in ancient Greece (I'm borrowing an old Star Trek original series plot line here!) I would not consider that critical to the evolution of religion, I believe it would have evolved with or without any empirical basis to help it along. Humanity has, historically, invented gods -- largely god(s) of the gaps, to explain scary things that current human understanding can't explain or control, like thunder and lightning. Or in modern times, personal tragedy. Our gods explain why, often, s__t happens to good people and the wicked prosper, why "only the good die young", etc. They are fig leaf for the fact that that's Just The Way It Is. It's hard for many of us to accept that there is not some rhyme and reason to it at some level, if only we could see it. It offends our sense of importance. It's much more attractive to imagine that somehow it all is about us and our needs and desires.

Another theory is that the human experience of consciousness has itself evolved. Back in the 1970s or so, the theory was advanced that prior to some point BC, people predominantly experienced their interior mental dialog in more concrete forms, they literally heard voices in their heads telling them what to do or think; these were personified as gods. Eventually whatever genes control this expressed differently and people's dominant mental landscape shifted toward what we consider "normal" today and people with vestiges of the old mental configuration are generally considered insane. Once society began to shun the old configuration, new generations were automatically selected for the new one. It's an interesting theory with some circumstantial evidence to support it. Who knows if it could ever be proven. But again, I don't feel that changes the fundamental reality of what religion is, or at least what modern religion is.
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Old 12-05-2012, 07:34 AM
 
Location: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
336 posts, read 282,719 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nozzferrahhtoo View Post
I AM hostile to religion in many ways and I will continue to be so as I think it is the right thing to be. They are falsehoods and often quite dangerous and damaging ones.
Well, thanks for your view, much as it hurts to see this sort of hostility. I try to understand it but frankly I don't. Yes religions are generally "false" in many ways, and religions do a lot of damage. I think it is the ideological aspect of many religions -- the idea that "I am right and therefore you must be evil to disagree with me" that brings about the harm that religions and other ideologies bring. I would urge more balance in the way you see human things.

Quote:
Even if it was... which it is not but let's pretend... your point would still be problematic. Even if you imagine it does good charity or social work that still does not excuse it from our hostility. For example it can be shown that Hamass provides social services in Gaza but that does not change the fact for one minute that they are a militarized terrorist organisation with a fanatical antisemitic ideology. Louis Farrakan is said to get young black men off drugs but so what given that is a racist crackpot cult.
You are selective in your choices of example, picking the worst of religions from which to draw your characterization. On the basis of that kind of approach any human activity -- indeed, the human species -- stands condemned.

Quote:
Be wary of turning the sentence "X does a good thing" into "X IS a good thing". It is a leap I do not think you can validly make even IF the sentence "X does a good thing" is accurate which in the case of religion it does not appear to be.
How about a middle course, recognizing and encouraging the good in religions and seeing and discouraging the bad?
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Old 12-05-2012, 08:23 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
41,138 posts, read 18,604,845 times
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Originally Posted by The Theist View Post
I understand that. What I'm saying is that that isn't an accurate estimation.
So then you have no religious faith and hold no beliefs you consider sacred?
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Old 12-05-2012, 08:55 AM
 
Location: Albuquerque, NM
13,293 posts, read 12,807,499 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
How about a middle course, recognizing and encouraging the good in religions and seeing and discouraging the bad?
How about skipping the middleman? Recognize and encourage the good in people and discourage the bad. No religion needed.
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Old 12-05-2012, 09:04 AM
 
Location: Central Indiana
167 posts, read 145,053 times
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Originally Posted by filihok View Post
How about skipping the middleman? Recognize and encourage the good in people and discourage the bad. No religion needed.
That is the way.
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Old 12-05-2012, 09:13 AM
 
7,802 posts, read 5,286,683 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
Well, thanks for your view, much as it hurts to see this sort of hostility. I try to understand it but frankly I don't.
I did try to explain it but I must have failed somewhere.

Firstly I think that unsubstantiated claims of ANY kind have no place in our public discourse. Certainly not in our halls of power, education and science. That alone is enough reason to resist religion.

But religion is also the cause of a lot of other pain and suffering and problems. It is also a fertile ground for charlatans and fraud merchants to do their work. It fosters hostility and bigotry too. And it is an enemy of discourse and a conversation stopper in many situations where discourse is not just the most important thing we have but the ONLY thing we have.

These reasons alone I can expound upon if asked to but they would each be enough alone, let alone together, to justify my being a vocal enemy of religion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
You are selective in your choices of example, picking the worst of religions from which to draw your characterization.
You misread me sir. I was not giving those examples in order to characterise anything. I was giving those examples for an entirely different reason: To show why suggesting religion has some good effects is not enough to justify it. The "big picture" has to be viewed to see the OVERALL effect of religion.

We can not just cherry pick the nice bits alone. Especially if... as I said a few times.... the nice things you pick are falsely ascribed to religion and actually are not much to do with religion at all, let alone predicated on it or formed by it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
How about a middle course, recognizing and encouraging the good in religions and seeing and discouraging the bad?
The problem there as I said a few times now is that much of the "good" actually has nothing to do with religion at all. They are just things religion has successfully associated itself with for it's own ends. You gave some examples yourself. Let us look at them:

Charity - Has nothing to do with religion. People are and can be just as charitable without any religion whatsoever. There are secular charities to match the motivations and ends of any theist charity. Further charity per capita tends to be higher in more secular countries. And on top of all that much "religious" charity is not done for the sake of charity but for the sake of prosthelytizing the people you are working for. Missionaries are not so much in places like Africa to be charitable so much as to use charity to spread their religion. How much charity money is taken off the top before being redistributed to fund things like churches and the finery and riches of places like the Vatican?

When it comes to charity therefore Religion is not only superfluous to requirements but potentially damaging.

Art - What has religion got to do with art really? There is art without religion too so again it appears to be superfluous. Further perhaps we can even speculate artists of the past were hampered by religion and might even have been better without it. But in the past, or even in the present depending on the country, it was either too dangerous not to be a religious artist (atheists often being killed, jailed, tortured or shunned) or not viable (artists have to go where the money is so if religious institutions are paying thats what artists will produce). Even then it is not really religion per se which inspires art.... but the human penchant for personification of the universe and aspects of the human condition which inspires both art AND religion. So even without religion this penchant humans have would likely still inspire all kinds of art and literature and folklore and likely just as beautifully and effectively.

So again when it comes to art therefore Religion is not only superfluous to requirements but potentially damaging.
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Old 12-05-2012, 11:16 AM
 
Location: Central Indiana
167 posts, read 145,053 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
I love it!

I have to say, though, that I don't think that would persuade me. I would think it more likely some fraud is going on than that it really is Jesus. Just weighing the odds.
I definitely wouldn't believe it because the Bible doesn't teach that he will return in that way. My biggest complaint against atheists is that, for all of their arrogance they haven't a clue about what the Bible says.

I can show you the chronology of the Bible from the time of Adam to the flood in a few short verses. Over a thousand years. I can show you where Egyptology makes a laughing stock of modern historical dating, I can prove it using the far more accurate Bible along with astronomical charts, I can show you the math of the ancient Jews by which they knew when the Messiah would come and I can show you the math of when he returns. He already has, just as the Bible said he would. Almost a century ago. But not physically. He was never meant to return as most see his return.

Israel P. Warren, D.D., in his work The Parousia, Portland, Maine (1879), pp. 12-15: "We often speak of the 'second advent,' the 'second coming,' etc., but the Scriptures never speak of a 'second Parousia.' Whatever was to be its nature, it was something peculiar, having never occurred before, and being never to occur again. It was to be a presence differing from and superior to all other manifestations of himself to men, so that its designation should properly stand by itself, without any qualifying epithet other than the article, - THE PRESENCE.

"From this view of the word it is evident, I think, that neither the English word 'coming' nor the Latin 'advent' is the best representative of the original. They do not conform to its etymology; they do not correspond to the idea of the verb from which it is derived; nor could they appropriately be substituted for the more exact word, 'presence,' in the cases where the translators used the latter. Nor is the radical idea of them the same. 'Coming’ and 'advent' give most prominently the conception of an approach to us, motion toward us; 'parousia' that of being with us, without reference to how it began. The force of the former ends with the arrival; that of the latter begins with it. Those are words of motion; this of rest. The space of time covered by the action of the former is limited, it may be momentary; that of the latter unlimited . . . .

"Had our translators done with this technical word 'parousia' as they did with 'baptisma,' - transferring it unchanged, or if translated using its exact etymological equivalent, presence, and had it been well understood, as it then would have been, that there is no such thing as a 'second Presence,' I believe that the entire doctrine would have been different from what it now is. The phrases, 'second advent,' and 'second coming,' would never have been heard of. The church would have been taught to speak of THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD, as that from which its hopes were to be realized, whether in the near future or at the remotest period, that under which the world was to be made new, a resurrection both spiritual and corporeal should be attained, and justice and everlasting awards administered."
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