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Old 04-20-2014, 08:28 PM
 
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Do you feel the designated hitter in major league baseball is an abomination?
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Old 04-20-2014, 09:23 PM
 
181 posts, read 177,196 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
I agree that science does not deal with morality. There is a basis is evolved instinct which science could tell us about, but our evolved instincts are not always moral! It is a powerful argument that human morality is based on nothing but a convenient attempt to arrive at a fair deal for everyone. It seems attractive to have a fixed set of rules imposed by a deity who is always right. But in fact there are problems with that.
I think you are looking at religions superficially rather than understanding what they are, from an academic perspective. By academic, I mean the study of religions from an anthropological, sociological, psychological, historical, and theological point of view. Studying religion in academia does not require belief in a deity, and it may help people understand that there is more to religion than just supernatural beliefs. There have been several public lectures on Religion at my university, and I tried to attend most of them if I could fit them into my schedule. The lectures mainly examine religion from a historical perspective. I also enjoy contributing to the Christianity Stack Exchange. I like the website, because it's the only website I know that allows anybody to contribute as long as the information provided is well-sourced, regardless of religious beliefs. Over time, I have learned a great deal about Christianity, and experience tells me that Christianity is more than just supernatural beliefs. Supernatural beliefs are merely superficial part. It's the different denominational perspectives that interest me, and my amateurish, spare-time research into Ebscohost and Google Scholar has earned me lots of points and knowledge.

Your assertion in bold, I believe, is applicable to religions that have beliefs regarding a deity that is consistently morally righteous. I feel that many claims that atheists put forth are really claims targeted at Christianity, maybe Judaism and Islam, but mainly Christianity. When atheists start looking into Eastern religions, I find their claims start getting weaker and weaker, because their knowledge of those religions are limited. Therefore, I think one critical factor for the criticism of religion is to learn different religions and understand them from the adherents' point of view instead of pigeonholing religions into the Christianity mold.

Quote:
Flexible human consensus - codes of morality are better.

Indeed, I do see religious morality as very much based on human morality. They hi-jack it, use it to impose their own beliefs and values on the basis of a divine authority.
This seems to be quite a common belief among "rationalistic atheists". The belief is that religionists hijack morality and impose their own beliefs and values on the basis of a divine authority. That sounds more like an anti-religion conspiracy theory than a working hypothesis in the social sciences. Your wording makes it sound like the hijackers have some sort of evil intention going on.

Quote:
It is. We frequently get arguments along the lines of without God-belief people can have no morality. This is bunk. We had morality- and I think better morality- apart from religion. I see the religious 'absolute god-given morality' argument as moribund because it actually changes all the time, but they pretend that was how it was all the time. humanist morality accepts that it is relative or flexible and it can get things wrong. It has the advantage that it can be changed to make it better without having to make a church grudgingly go along with it for fear of seeing more church seats without bums on.
I wrestled with that belief too. In my head, I just assume that God is really the personification of goodness, and that without awareness of goodness, people can have no morality. I'm not sure if my interpretation is accurate, but I only created it in the first place, because I was trying to get at the underlying value. In any case, I think my interpretation of the religious claim makes more sense to me.

I do not think all religious people would say that morality does not change, since that has to do with the nature of morality.

I think the main issue that you are against is not religion. I think you are against dogmatic religious orthodoxy, because dogmatic religious orthodoxy is about having a set of codified beliefs and assuming for certain that the religious beliefs are always true and never change. Your claims seem to attack dogmatic religious orthodoxy fairly well.

Unsurprisingly, religious people criticize religious people for being too "orthodox". I recently picked up a book on Lutheran history (A History of Lutheranism, written by Eric W. Gritsch) and read how the Pietists perceived the danger of "dead orthodoxy" and wanted to change Lutheran piety.
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Old 04-21-2014, 01:06 AM
 
Location: The backwoods of Pennsylvania ... unfortunately.
5,846 posts, read 3,361,010 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McDweller View Post
This seems to be quite a common belief among "rationalistic atheists". The belief is that religionists hijack morality and impose their own beliefs and values on the basis of a divine authority. That sounds more like an anti-religion conspiracy theory than a working hypothesis in the social sciences. Your wording makes it sound like the hijackers have some sort of evil intention going on.
Religions do this all the time. It's not an anti-religious conspiracy but more an attempt to shine some revealing light onto what religion attempts to do. After all, the entire reason why we celebrate Christmas on December 25th was to essentially hijack the pagan celebration of the winter solstice. That is but one example. Religion is now laying claim to marriage, as well, in an attempt to justify its bigotry against homosexuals. That is but one more example. Of course religion has also staked its claim on morality, as well, claiming that even atheists uphold Christian (or religious) principles - never mind the fact that many of those principles existed when Western religion was the exclusive perview of the Native American.

I think what myself and others on this thread are driving at is religion itself is dogmatic, inflexible, and often quite militant in its attempts to spread its authority. Yes, it is true that most Westerners know little about far eastern religions - BUT - far eastern religions are more philosophical and metaphysical than anything that came out of the Middle East. Hinduism is really the only exception as it does involve deity worship.

I've said many times in my short stay here on this forum that religion is inherently fascistic, authoritarian, and, to be quite honest, heirarchical to the point of fostering elitism even among its own adherents. Even more benign religions such as Buddhism still have forbidden places, secret knowledge, and all of that tomfoolery. That is where the elitism comes into play when you pit acolytes against elders.

By and large, religious morality is nonsense morality - it's stuff people made up. For instance, the Western attitude toward sex is as much due to the prudishness of Saint Augustine as it does with the Bible. Religious morality is just a truckload of barmy rules that prohibit or encourage meaningless behaviors that neither harm nor benefit those who adhere to them. Things like rules concerning head coverings, putting tassles on your cloak, what direction you face when you pray, the length of skirts, whether you can see an R-rated movie, and all of that balderdash.

Then there are two other types of morality - legal and civil. These are the only two that really matter since they are usually pragmatic and helps make the world a better place overall (even if they can be annoying at times). For example, legal morality would include obeying the speed limit, paying your taxes, and not littering.

Civil morality and legal morality often overlap - but civil morality is how we treat other people. Obviously acts such as murder, theft, rape, and assault are immoral both legally and civilly. But other acts such as lying (unless you're testifying in court), adultery, and racism aren't necessarily illegal yet society still deems them civilly immoral.

Of these three categories, religious morality is all but useless except where it overlaps with legal and civil morality. Yet in most cases we don't need religion to tell us those acts are immoral. Atheists, for instance, know full well that murder, child abuse, assault, and the like, are both illegal and immoral since they harm other people. No God or religious belief is required to be empathic enough to realize that running down the street kicking everyone in the groin isn't a moral thing to do. Religion, on the other hand, is wont to say that, without a deity, such morality could not exist (which is utter tripe).

One of the reasons why atheists tend to take a dim view of religion is because religion tends to focus primarily on religious morality - even to the point of making it law for everyone regardless of their religious beliefs. But as I said, religious morality is the most pointless of the three kinds of morality yet are often harmful to others. The Christian "culture war" against gays is a good example - not to mention Islam's intolerance of homosexuality.

Yet who cares? Why is homosexuality so important - important enough that the Vatican warned American nuns that they were spending too much time helping the poor and not enough time condemning gays? This is an excellent demonstration of why religious morality is fascistic and authoritarian. It really doesn't matter too much which religion it is. Thus it was more important for girls trying to flee a burning school to have the proper Muslim head-covering on than it was to actually leave the building, resulting in over half a dozen girls dying in the fire (they were physically prevented from leaving the burning building by the Saudi morality police).

Therefore, atheists tend to adopt the secular humanist philosophy on morality because it essentially encapsulates the best all around morality paradigm. It doesn't focus on trivial nonsense that people simply invented - like head coverings, how to conduct your sex life, or when to deprive yourself of food (fasting). Secular humanism isn't rigidly dogmatic and understands that exceptions exist and the rules are "general" rules and not absolutes - and that means there is far less opportunity for extremism. No one is going to die in a fire for not having on their proper secular humanist headgear, for instance.

Secular humanism allows us to aspire to be good and decent people without pushing fascistic conformity. Roughly 7/10ths of the world's population believes in supernatural deities and that means deity-worshipers wield an enormous amount of power. Perhaps the biggest fault with religious morality is that it often believes in collective guilt.

In other words, an entire civilization can be held accountable and punished due to the irreligious actions of even a small number of that civilization's inhabitants. This is why some Christians in America, for example, have no problems blaming 9/11, Katrina, and the Sandy Hook shootings on America not being tough enough on gays or for taking prayer out of public schools or because women aren't barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.

Notice how these religious adherents never blame these disasters on too much crime, drug addiction, pedophilia, domestic violence, political corruption or corporate greed. Nope. If their god is angry, it's always because society didn't adhere to the useless, often arbitrary tenets of religious morality. Legal and civil morality are rarely ever at the forefront of religious concern. It is precisely this kind of twisted attitude that has allowed so many kiddie-fiddling priests to avoid prosecution. Molesting young boys isn't nearly as important as stopping contraception use or keeping gays away from the marriage altar.

Secular humanism - indeed secular morality in general - actually concerns itself with the flaws in our society that actually matter. I mean the things that matter to us as human beings and NOT what presumably matters to some anonymous deity that commands us to put tassles on our cloaks but allows slavery and says nothing about the harm of raping children.

As such, if you feel that you must derive your particular moral code from a religious paradigm, be my guest. Billions already do. I, for one, will continue to base my moral code on empathy, tolerance, compassion, and the continuance of a civil and peaceful society.

Cheers.
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Old 04-21-2014, 05:39 AM
 
39,211 posts, read 10,895,806 times
Reputation: 5097
Quote:
Originally Posted by McDweller View Post
I think you are looking at religions superficially rather than understanding what they are, from an academic perspective. By academic, I mean the study of religions from an anthropological, sociological, psychological, historical, and theological point of view. Studying religion in academia does not require belief in a deity, and it may help people understand that there is more to religion than just supernatural beliefs. There have been several public lectures on Religion at my university, and I tried to attend most of them if I could fit them into my schedule. The lectures mainly examine religion from a historical perspective. I also enjoy contributing to the Christianity Stack Exchange. I like the website, because it's the only website I know that allows anybody to contribute as long as the information provided is well-sourced, regardless of religious beliefs. Over time, I have learned a great deal about Christianity, and experience tells me that Christianity is more than just supernatural beliefs. Supernatural beliefs are merely superficial part. It's the different denominational perspectives that interest me, and my amateurish, spare-time research into Ebscohost and Google Scholar has earned me lots of points and knowledge.
I can only deal with religion as it is presented to me,an atheist, posting on a religion forum. I am aware that many religious people actually use humanist moral codes as indeed do churches. Nevertheless,we do get the argument here that there can be no morality without God, either to discredit atheism, or to somehow prove that God exists as there could be no morality without one. As I say, this is bunk.

Quote:
Your assertion in bold, I believe, is applicable to religions that have beliefs regarding a deity that is consistently morally righteous. I feel that many claims that atheists put forth are really claims targeted at Christianity, maybe Judaism and Islam, but mainly Christianity. When atheists start looking into Eastern religions, I find their claims start getting weaker and weaker, because their knowledge of those religions are limited. Therefore, I think one critical factor for the criticism of religion is to learn different religions and understand them from the adherents' point of view instead of pigeonholing religions into the Christianity mold.
We nearly always wrangle with Christians here, because that is the religion that constantly tries to exercise authority over western countries and manifests in a most pernicious and dangerous form in America. Eastern religions are not a problem for us. Our particular adversary is the religion of the Book and if that loses credibility and authority, then the other religions of the Book - all of them - go down with it.

Quote:
This seems to be quite a common belief among "rationalistic atheists". The belief is that religionists hijack morality and impose their own beliefs and values on the basis of a divine authority. That sounds more like an anti-religion conspiracy theory than a working hypothesis in the social sciences. Your wording makes it sound like the hijackers have some sort of evil intention going on.
Aside, the rather loaded term,'evil',there is a conspiracy going on. It is a conspiracy to fool the population of the World that what we have is done by a particular god. The argument that what we are,what we have and what we do are all somehow evidence that God exists is the ongoing conspiracy.

Quote:
I wrestled with that belief too. In my head, I just assume that God is really the personification of goodness, and that without awareness of goodness, people can have no morality. I'm not sure if my interpretation is accurate, but I only created it in the first place, because I was trying to get at the underlying value. In any case, I think my interpretation of the religious claim makes more sense to me.

I do not think all religious people would say that morality does not change, since that has to do with the nature of morality.

I think the main issue that you are against is not religion. I think you are against dogmatic religious orthodoxy, because dogmatic religious orthodoxy is about having a set of codified beliefs and assuming for certain that the religious beliefs are always true and never change. Your claims seem to attack dogmatic religious orthodoxy fairly well.

Unsurprisingly, religious people criticize religious people for being too "orthodox". I recently picked up a book on Lutheran history (A History of Lutheranism, written by Eric W. Gritsch) and read how the Pietists perceived the danger of "dead orthodoxy" and wanted to change Lutheran piety.
I have been forced to wrestle with the argument from Moral absolutes. I have always taken the view that atheism is about what (according to the evidence) is true regarding the God -claim. But I soon found that religious apologists had an argument that (true or not) we needed religion because without it civilization would collapse into anarchy and atheism was bad because, if it disbelieved in God, it also disbelieved in God's commandments and there we could have no morality.

In fact it transpired that the morality had been worked out, along with our social development and in fact both we and the religionists apply human standards of morality to the Bible. There are few who are bold enough to declare that If God Does IT, it is Good. More prefer to excuse 'bad' things that God does.

In any case, it is clear that humanist morality IS what we use, even to judge what is in the Bible - though few understand what they are doing. You may learn a lot more about the religious Thing though chatting with we goddless bastards here than reading Religious books written by theologians accustomed to thinking well within the Box.

I suppose the debate is three tiered.

(1) Bible-literalist fundamentalism, which has recently attempted to hi-jack the whole of US society, politics, education, science and impose Bible- literalist modes of thought. This is the most dangerous and most in need of debunking and nullifying.

(2) Organized churches. They also have a pervasive influence and authority on the basis of religious claims and Holy Books which actually have no validity at all. People are of course free to believe what they want, but the West and in time, the world, must run along rational and not religious lines.

(3) Religion. The claims of religion are invalid so, apart from the danger they may pose to society, or the influence they may have on society, the claims of religion per se have to be examined, analyzed and, if they do not stand up, debunked.

This is my mission. I believe it is our mission and when the world understands that the ongoing propaganda that even if the religions are not true, we need them to prevent anarchy becasue without religion there can be no morality, is a load of bunk and in fact morality has long been relative, humanist and concesus and religions have Hi-jacked it and claimed that their Godgave the rules in the first place, then (when the case for the Bible being unreliable is also made) there will be no reason, good or bad to believe the claims of religion, listen to the authority of religion or indeed have any need for religion.
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Old 04-30-2014, 10:36 PM
 
181 posts, read 177,196 times
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You are conflating "religion" and "Christianity" again. When you say "religion", nine times out of ten I know you really mean "Christianity".

Quote:
We nearly always wrangle with Christians here, because that is the religion that constantly tries to exercise authority over western countries and manifests in a most pernicious and dangerous form in America. Eastern religions are not a problem for us. Our particular adversary is the religion of the Book and if that loses credibility and authority, then the other religions of the Book - all of them - go down with it.
You may be forgetting that many people in the world are Christians, that there are different types of Christians, and that some people do self-identify as Christians but are merely semi-observant or non-observant. The same goes for other types of religious people. Some religious people do practice full observance while some people do not. For the people who do not practice full observance, I do not think they are any less religious than people who are fully observant. They are still "in", as in being in the social group or cultural group. It's a way to maintain a sense of self-identity and belonging. But then, the way I think of religion is that religion is a family/tribal thing. Some people are born in a religious family, so they are raised that way. Some people are born in a nonreligious family, so they are raised that way.

Quote:
Aside, the rather loaded term,'evil',there is a conspiracy going on. It is a conspiracy to fool the population of the World that what we have is done by a particular god. The argument that what we are,what we have and what we do are all somehow evidence that God exists is the ongoing conspiracy.
Um. I think this is a gross misunderstanding of Christian theology. Christian theology is quite complex and cannot be explained in a few sentences or paragraphs. Language is a limitation, and there are many nuances embedded in the language. It may only sound like a conspiracy theory to YOU, but that's probably because you are viewing it through your lens, using your own worldview and assumptions.

Quote:
I have been forced to wrestle with the argument from Moral absolutes.
You are still taking a philosophical position on the nature of morality. Whether the position is moral absolutism or moral relativism or moral nihilism or whatever, they are all positions on the nature of morality. I think they are all justifiable in their own way. Sure, they may all have their criticisms, but what's philosophy without a bit a criticism?

Quote:
I have always taken the view that atheism is about what (according to the evidence) is true regarding the God -claim. But I soon found that religious apologists had an argument that (true or not) we needed religion because without it civilization would collapse into anarchy and atheism was bad because, if it disbelieved in God, it also disbelieved in God's commandments and there we could have no morality.
You are making a couple of assumptions about atheism right there.

1. You are assuming that atheism is based on "evidence", however you define it.

2. You are assuming that atheism is "true", however you define it. In this case, you are likely assuming that there is objectively, whatever that is supposed to mean, no god.

Again, your term, "religious apologists," is just a word for "(conservative) Christian apologists".

Quote:
In fact it transpired that the morality had been worked out, along with our social development and in fact both we and the religionists apply human standards of morality to the Bible. There are few who are bold enough to declare that If God Does IT, it is Good. More prefer to excuse 'bad' things that God does.
Basically, your claim is that everybody lives by some sort of generic "human standards of morality". That's a description, not an ethical philosophy or a moral rule. I do not think there is a single "human standards of morality", but many, because people are very diverse. I believe that people reason differently, including having different ethical reasons in different situations. However, I do not think that this is to say that morality is inherently relative. I believe that there is some sort of overarching moral truth in the world, but that truth is unknown. The way to find the truth in the world is by differing reasoning abilities and subjective values. Our reasoning abilities and subjective values are not perfect, but that's okay, because that means that we're just human and always adjusting to change. Just because we have differing reasoning abilities and subjective values, I do not think that means that our reasoning abilities and subjective values are the best choices or valid, because there may be negative outcomes to any ethical choice we choose. In this respect, I do find weaknesses in the philosophical doctrine of moral relativism. I think my own personal philosophy fits well with a statistician's worldview, or at least that's what I learned from Statistics.

Quote:
I suppose the debate is three tiered.

(1) Bible-literalist fundamentalism, which has recently attempted to hi-jack the whole of US society, politics, education, science and impose Bible- literalist modes of thought. This is the most dangerous and most in need of debunking and nullifying.

(2) Organized churches. They also have a pervasive influence and authority on the basis of religious claims and Holy Books which actually have no validity at all. People are of course free to believe what they want, but the West and in time, the world, must run along rational and not religious lines.

(3) Religion. The claims of religion are invalid so, apart from the danger they may pose to society, or the influence they may have on society, the claims of religion per se have to be examined, analyzed and, if they do not stand up, debunked.
Can you just use "Christianity" instead of using this obscure "religion" as a replacement?
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