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Old 06-26-2019, 03:14 PM
 
8,099 posts, read 7,065,854 times
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People would be surprised that God bring blessing of life to many people who are just and unjust in the world as believers pray and God answers the believers pray to all to glory to the Lord ..... Like prayers God would answer is like God has a cure for climate change and is working behind the veil of the spirit regulating the extend of this menace , as God gives rain for all and God brings air for all to breath ....... One thing is if religion where to come to an end like many humanist would like then God would stop that ideas in its tract
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Old 06-26-2019, 03:43 PM
 
40,035 posts, read 26,715,004 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuakerBaker View Post
Please don't hate me...I also realize that I am young and not that smart...I just wanted to make a reply to that other thread and have been thinking on this patiently for a couple of days.

Nothing but love for all of you as you go through life.

I will leave this here and just listen to replies without posting arguments in return. As religion has taught me there is wisdom in listening and using fewer words.
Welcome, Quaker. I have immense respect for your religion. I am considerably older than you but I could have paid more attention to the wisdom underlined in bold in your post. You have nothing I would argue against. In Christ's love, Mystic.
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Old 06-26-2019, 04:54 PM
 
Location: Southwestern, USA
15,350 posts, read 12,109,955 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clintone View Post
But, the primary harm I see to most religion is that I think most of it's untrue...
Thank you. Well intentioned...but, yes, untrue.

Last edited by Miss Hepburn; 06-26-2019 at 05:04 PM..
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Old 06-26-2019, 05:11 PM
 
177 posts, read 36,934 times
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QuakerBaker, you're very blessed to be part of a Quaker community. Just in case you didn't know, the Quakers heavily influenced the great Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy (War and Peace). He basically saw the Quakers and groups like them, which do such a good job of living out the Sermon On the Mount, as the model for what human society should be like. His writings on Christianity are very profound, even though he rejected the supernatural aspects.

In the sense of "vital" that you're talking about, the much-hated Jehovah's Witnesses also exemplify the best of Christianity. I share so many of their values that I've been tempted to join them, even though I don't share some of their beliefs. Alas, one cannot be a 70% JW.

Always remember that the overarching question for any religion is whether it is True, meaning whether it provides True answers to the ultimate metaphysical questions. If it doesn't, then all the beneficial aspects are pretty hollow.

Contrary to what is suggested above, a sincere belief in God is central to the success of a belief system. It isn't that religion is an "external deterring factor" (to borrow the phrase from above). It's that without a sincere belief in a higher power, moral values are no more than opinions, subject to change at any time. Human existence without God can never have the depth of meaning that it does with God. If religion can be characterized as an external deterring factor, in the case of Christianity I believe it's a True one.

Christianity is unique in recognizing the fallen state of humanity. All utopian dreams that rely on "self-aware members" (to borrow the phrase from above) are doomed to failure. EVERY ideology that looks good on paper eventually stumbles and crumbles because of: fallen human nature, just as Christianity teaches. Only Christianity recognizes this reality and offers hope of transformation through the Holy Spirit. Only Christianity recognizes that peace on earth is never going to come until Christ reigns.

The fact that Christianity best meshes with the reality I observe and experience is one of the key reasons I believe it is True. If one can find a community such as the Quakers that exemplifies the best of Christianity, this is the most that one can hope for. A Buddhist or Hindu community might offer similar benefits in the sense that you're talking about, but the problem is the overarching one: My quest has led me to conclude that neither Buddhism nor Hinduism is True; certainly they don't mesh as well with the reality I observe and experience.
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Old 06-26-2019, 06:38 PM
 
665 posts, read 144,768 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuakerBaker View Post
Hi,
I am relatively new to these boards and I saw a thread "Why Religion is Dangerous" Mod note: (Referenced thread is in Atheism and Agnosticism) and I wanted to give a contrasting viewpoint.

I am nervous as I type, I feel a bit like Daniel in the Lion's Den.

For starters I want to say that me being a Christian (Quaker) and you being atheist doesn't make me a better person nor does it make me more loved by God. He loves us equally.

Okay here it goes...

Peace...

Every meeting house I have ever been involved with teaches non-violence. In this modern world with technological weapons can kill millions the choice is not between violence and pacifism it is between non-violence and non-existence. Jesus teaches us non-violence and turning the other cheek, living in harmony. We need more Jesus, not less. Meeting houses teach us to be a peacekeeper in our own corner of the world and to push pacifism or non-violence globally.
First, an observation:
The title of this thread refers to religion in general, yet you're focusing on a specific sect of Christianity, which is but a small subset of religion in general.

Moving on...

You state that your religion preaches non-violence. So? Do you think the non-violence of Quakers represents some sort of unique outlook? It doesn't. Nor is the idea of non-violence found only in religion. But more specifically, when we look at the world we do not see a correlation between religiosity and non-violence. You might be aware that Canada is decidedly less religious than, say, Latin America. Canada has been rather circumspect in its military adventures since it became independent, and it has an enviable violent crime rate. In contrast, Latin America has been a hotbed of coups d'etat, revolutions, civil wars, international wars, and domestic strife. You'll find that Scandinavia is one of the more secular places on the planet, yet it's very peaceful with low crime, in comparison to places like the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, which are both very religious but not particularly peaceful at all. Need I point out that the most religious part of the United States, the South, also is the region with the highest overall violent crime rate?

You see, you've made an assertion, but you haven't bothered to see if your claim is actually reflected in what actually happens in the world.

More to the point, if Norway and Sweden and Finland and Denmark and Iceland (and let's not forget the Faroe Islands) can be nice and peaceful with relatively low rates of religiosity, while Syria and Iraq and Yemen and the Philippines and Somalia and the Congo teem with believers and are mired in vicious conflict, how can you possibly think that religion is 'vital for peace'?

Quote:
Originally Posted by QuakerBaker View Post
Inner Harmony...

As an 18 year old girl, I have a lot of stressers and self-doubt. But George Fox taught us to find that bit of God in us all by being silent and listening to that innervoice. It is very soothing and warming in times of stress.
This is silly.

A bubble bath with candles while listening to whale sounds is soothing.
Post-coital cuddling is soothing.
A martini is soothing.

People find contentment everywhere. Need this even be pointed out?

Quote:
Originally Posted by QuakerBaker View Post
Equality...

Religion teaches us that we are created equally. That we are all a reflection of God's image, stressing that equality. Meeting houses fought for women's suffrage and abolition, because of that equality. Seneca Falls Convention was hosted by a Quaker church. Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Lucretia Mott, and Carrier Chapman Catt are just some of the Quakers who were leaders that fought for suffrage for women in a non-violent fashion with dignity and self-sacrifice.
Again, I'll suggest that you look to the status of women, and minorities, and LGBTQ folk, in, say, Scandinavia compared to the Middle East. Or Canada compared to pretty much anywhere in Africa. You'll find that equality most certainly does not follow religiosity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by QuakerBaker View Post
Service...

Religion teaches us to serve in the community in all sorts of ways. We are always encouraged to do and share.
Again, silly. There are myriad secular service organizations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by QuakerBaker View Post
Purity...

My meeting house stresses avoiding alcohol, illegal drugs, cigarettes, etc...something that is healthy physically and mentally. My father turned his back on God becoming an atheist after my mother died and then started drinking and gambling, which led to bad consequences for him.
I'm an atheist. I used neither illegal drugs nor alcohol. I used to smoke. Know what I stopped? Because it's unhealthy. I do enjoy a cocktail and a beer. Nothing wrong with that in moderation.

Per Pew Research, this graphic illustrates the religiosity of states (the darker, the more religious):

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tan...is-your-state/

And here's a link showing the rates of smoking per state:

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/...fig1_314845044

Again, we see that religion is hardly vital to not smoking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by QuakerBaker View Post
Business...

We are encouraged to try hard, be a self-starter, start your own...this leads to success.
Are you really going to equate religiosity with business success? We're that the case, eastern and southern Europe (more religious) would be more economically successful than northern and western Europe (less religious). But the opposite is true. Sub-Saharan Africa is entirely an economic basket-case, but it teems with believers. The Middle East has precisely one thing going for it - it sits on top of a lot of oil. But it's still a mess economically. Shouldn't those places economically dominate less religious countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom and Japan? They don't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by QuakerBaker View Post
Family...

Everyone in the meeting house is like a family and will help and serve each other. We hit hard financial straits when my dad was struggling and I recieved constant help from my Friends.
Again, I'll pint to Scandinavia and their unparalleled social safety net.

Quote:
Originally Posted by QuakerBaker View Post
Please don't hate me...I also realize that I am young and not that smart...I just wanted to make a reply to that other thread and have been thinking on this patiently for a couple of days.

Nothing but love for all of you as you go through life.

I will leave this here and just listen to replies without posting arguments in return. As religion has taught me there is wisdom in listening and using fewer words.
No hate. It appears you are quite content with your church. However, none of the categories you delineate are the sole province of religion and, indeed - as I've pointed out - we see real world examples of those things not only being present in secular settings but working very well as such. And in many cases, we see that secular societies outperforming religious ones in the areas you list. This is not to say that you can't find some counter-examples. I am sure that you can. But what you cannot do is demonstrate general correlation between those things and religion.

And that shows that, for these things, religion is not vital.
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Old 06-26-2019, 09:11 PM
 
Location: Missouri, USA
4,342 posts, read 2,971,301 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nerfball View Post
Contrary to what is suggested above, a sincere belief in God is central to the success of a belief system. It isn't that religion is an "external deterring factor" (to borrow the phrase from above). It's that without a sincere belief in a higher power, moral values are no more than opinions, subject to change at any time. Human existence without God can never have the depth of meaning that it does with God. If religion can be characterized as an external deterring factor, in the case of Christianity I believe it's a True one.
I disagree and will explain why. There is no reason why belief in a higher power would necessarily encourage anyone to behave more ideally without some kind of punishment, and Christianity, generally speaking, does not punish for harmful behaviors, only for nonbelief.

From a secular perspective though, and from every religious perspective I'm aware of, it is possible, and I'd argue most sensible, to look at the world like "I dislike suffering. Other life forms also dislike suffering. Therefore, ideally they will not suffer, because there isn't anything inherently worse about my suffering than other's suffering. Ideally others will experience joy as well, for similar reasons.

In my mind, the religious tenets of Christianity - the Ten Commandments and various Biblical teachings, are better described as moral nihilism than most of the secular morality that tends to be described as moral nihilism. Many of the Tenets of Christianity, particularly the first four of the Ten Commandments, aren't rooted in anything that assists anyone. Regarding the others...there's no reason to always obey most of them. The only exception I can think of is don't murder. I can't think of any reason to break the law to murder many people...although even in that case, assassinating Hitler would have been illegal in Germany, but I suppose you could look at that as something besides murder.

Adultery isn't always bad though. Neither is theft, nor lying, nor coveting, nor is failing to honor one's father and mother. They're just generally good ideas to follow.

But, we have a code of ethics that's much more firmly embedded into reality than anything written in any holy book. It's simply the rule that my life matters because your life matters, and vice versa. My pain and joy matter because your pain and joy matters, and vice-versa. This is, as far as I'm concerned, the ethical code built into nature that all beings will discover with time if they look into the nature of reality enough.

If a God taught us morality...I'd think...there it is. That natural ethical code can guide our behavior in more specific ways too. I think it exists as a kind of math formula that determines how to maximize pleasure and minimize suffering for all life in existence.

I think the formula would be a consequentialist formula - an ethical code that says only the results of our actions matter, never the motivations. It would work by quantifying pleasure into units, as well as suffering and trying to achieve the maximum number of units of pleasure and minimum number of units of suffering for all life.

I would even argue that, from the secular perspective, at least from a certain point of view, there isn't much difference between individuals. We are, more or less, sensory appendages of the same super organism. When I die, my memories will be gone, but the most important part of me will live on through my fellow life forms: my awareness, and when I look around at the world, it's really not very different than you doing it. You will, in a sense, be my afterlife, if you outlive me. From a greedy perspective, therefore, it is in my best interest to assist my fellow life forms to improve my mortal afterlife.

Now, I don't do that that often, because I'm irrational, kind of like how Christians say they don't always behave ideally because they're just flawed humans.

Both our worldviews can lead to very similar behaviors though. Yours has Jesus...the perfect, selfless person, in your eyes. Mine has the selfless, purely logical, hypothetical machine - the ultimate empathetic brain formed by math and reasoning.

So, I definitely disagree that without some belief in a higher power morals are no more than opinions, subject to change at any time. I would say that basing one's moral code off holy texts works exactly that way though. I'd say, if someone bases their moral code off holy texts, that is never anything more than their opinion, subject to change at any time, because there is no strong foundational reason for them to have that moral code.

On the other hand...I don't know why aliens on the other side of the universe wouldn't understand the same kinds of moral codes it makes sense for humans to practice on Earth, if they maximize pleasure and minimize suffering and we do to. I'd be surprised if that's not universally understood. They might not practice it all the time, or even most of the time...but I bet they'd understand that, and reasons for behaving like that.

If we're ever on the verge of contacting spacefaring aliens, I will bet anyone five-thousand American dollars that they will understand the concept of "the improvement of my life has value, and therefore the improvement of your life has value, because we each are aware beings" and they'll respect that sort of moral code, regardless of whether they're hive organisms, or their ancestors were antisocial badger-like organisms, or conscious machines.

Last edited by Clintone; 06-26-2019 at 09:38 PM..
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Old 06-26-2019, 09:33 PM
 
Location: interior Alaska
4,475 posts, read 3,312,926 times
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Hi, Quaker Baker, I enjoyed your post, and you make a good case for the Society of Friends being a net positive force for individuals and society. That said, I would not say you proved your premise. A person could adopt the same practices and ethical codes you describe even if they lacked belief in a diety or the supernatural.
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Old 06-27-2019, 03:00 AM
 
Location: Valencia, Spain
15,310 posts, read 10,332,182 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuakerBaker View Post
Okay here it goes...

Peace...
Inner Harmony...
Equality...
Service...
Purity...
Business...
Family...
OKay. Here goes. Which of the above CANNOT be achieved without religion. The first, in fact, is something that is very often destroyed BY religion

Quote:
Originally Posted by phetaroi View Post
Peace does not require Jesus. War has often used Jesus.
Quite so.

Quote:
I'm an atheist. I don't drink. I don't do illegal drugs. I don't smoke.
Yeah. You eat babies though dontcha. You can't fool us.
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Old 06-27-2019, 04:30 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Rafius View Post
OKay. Here goes. Which of the above CANNOT be achieved without religion. The first, in fact, is something that is very often destroyed BY religion
Good point. If there is a religion that brings all of those (I highly doubt it), then the religion is vital to people who need those things to come in a all-in-one package.
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Old 06-27-2019, 04:56 AM
 
13,456 posts, read 4,976,974 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clintone View Post
There are also things we can learn from you, so I'd like it if you respond. Also, of course, I think we learn a lot from talking back and forth.


I'll definitely acknowledge that cultures often have positive influences on people. Your culture appears to have some pretty positive aspects to it. However, I can think of reasons to behave in all the positive ways you suggested that don't depend on any religious beliefs.


On the con side though...I'm concerned about the survival of humanity. I also used to have Tourette's syndrome, and my father developed spinal cancer (It's gone now and he's walking again) but during the course of his treatment he developed steroid psychosis and threw a laptop. He was not in his right mind. My surrogate uncle, right now, has frontal lobe dementia.


Under my worldview, those sorts of unfortunate events do not surprise me. I perceive them as just random aspects of life that aren't anyone's fault. I can look at them as simple obstacles to be overcome.

I know some God-believers explain those events as occurring because life is a test - a difficult test. I know some God-believers explain those events by viewing the world as a fallen place...but if God really is omnipotent and omniscient, I don't know what good that sort of stuff could serve. I think people have three choices for dealing with that prospect, if they believe in a God, and I don't there are other rational choices:

Choice #1: You can perceive God as morally flawed.
Choice #2: You can perceive God as not completely omniscient or omnipotent.
Choice #3: You can just not think about this much and hope for the best.

The first two options, I'd think, make God no longer a perfect, parental figure. In my mind that takes away religion's main advantage over atheism - potential comfort.
The third option requires not seeing reality as clearly as possible, which is my primary concern about religion. In a democratic society I'd like people to see the world as clearly as possible so they're informed, clever voters who elect informed, clever people.

Furthermore, in my opinion the Abrahamic faiths do not tell of rational views of the world. They tempt people to hold their views though, through temptations such as wanting to fit in to one's community of believers, or wanting of answers to the world's difficult questions, questions which can often be answered without religion...but it might take some thought to do so, perhaps uncomfortable thought. That's without the risk of hell for nonbelief and gain of Heaven for belief that many views tell of. It's also without the perception of a God that is offended by nonbelief, which can be another incentive.

So, in my mind, most religion tempts people to perceive the world in an inaccurate way, which has negative consequences. If I don't see the world the way it is, that may dramatically effect my life goals.

I can think of some exceptions - religious views I don't see as harmful...but that's because people with those views tend to be the agnostics or agnostic theists who focus most on the physical world we know exists, and so don't really see things much differently than atheists, in most important ways. Even some of those views might bias people in some unexpected ways. It just depends on what the views are. I want aging cured, for example. I can think of many pretty seemingly benign religions that tell of an afterlife. If we cure aging, and those religions give people incentive not to have their aging cured...they may stop being benign religions and turn into ones that dramatically effect people's lives in negative ways due to a lack of understanding.

But, the primary harm I see to most religion is that I think most of it's untrue...at least if it tells of a God who rules over the universe with the sorts of characteristics that are described in the Abrahamic texts. You, apparently disagree and so have considerably less reason to view religion as harmful.

I will say, though, Quakerism is one of those religions I view as not concerning...but that's because it seems pretty close to atheism to me, just maybe a more organized version of it with more social supports than can currently exist amongst atheists and agnostics due to our low numbers.


There's a cognitive scientist and philosopher, who is also a pretty well-known atheist who you may have heard of named Daniel Dennett who likes the idea of creating atheist social structures so we're not so reliant on religious ones. Many atheists are more into being more individualistic than that...but I kind of like the idea of there being atheistic cultures with healthy forms of peer pressure and social support. When I think of what that might look like, I don't think of it as too different from this website's description of Quakerism: https://www.learnreligions.com/quake...actices-701370 I might change my mind if I learned more about it though. I really don't know much more about it than what I briefly read on that website and your description of it.

I do think there is a lot of religious belief out there that isn't like Quakerism though...that's a lot more authoritarian.


The flaws you seem to have associated with a lack of religion - the "abandoning of God" that your father went through, look to me more like the abandoning of a healthy culture than the abandoning of God. Religion often goes hand-in-hand with culture, but in my mind religion is often a misleading side-effect of that.


I think a lot of purely cultural Jews might have the right idea. They've kept the healthy culture and relationships with people they care about, but they don't believe in the religion. That said I don't know a huge amount about Judaism.


Even culture, though, can be a mixture of pros and cons. I really don't like much of the culture I see. I feel like it encourages too much emotion-driven idealism, mostly. I could get more specific, but that'll take awhile.
Good post.

I lump this under a person is smart people are mobs. Mob mentality plays more of a role than religion its itself ... to me. people act like people.

I like the word culture vs religion. religion, like a football game. A large crowd at an event ... culture. How do they behave and what can we learn.

I personally have nothing against religion, or culture. I do have a problem with people that mis use it.

another good point. abandoning religion is not abandoning god. its that simple. saying that some properties of god are not correct (like omni) versus abandoning god is not the same thing.

its like a child learning that their dad isn't perfect. The fact that the dad wasn't perfect and still devoted their lives to that child makes them special.
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