Religion poisons everything - Hitchens

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Noah_Scape
Religion poisons everything - Hitchens

 

Noah_Scape

Its a telling sign of the times - still - that I feel hesitant to start this thread, for fear of being hated.

I just read Hitchen's book called "god Is Not Great" [with the pusposefull small g god], with the subtitle and theme of 'religion poisons everything'.

He attacks all religions equally, and through all time, with wit and intellectual acuity. He knows his history too. He presents many examples of where religion has proven to be a bloody and horrid phenomenon, with no basis at all other than social control and often financial and sexual rewards for the leaders.[the morality they presume is largely hypocritical]

I found myself laughing out loud at some of it - like a listing of "virgin births" of the various messiahs through the ages, in so many different cultures.

hitchens raises an interesting idea about Jesus that I would have NEVER considered - that JC never existed!! There is not one iota of archeological evidence or even any texts from his [supposed?] time. He suggests that people may have made up the whole story, not just some of the myths and miracles.

He is saying that, about Jesus, 'the nut falls not far from the tree, in that god is also a myth created'. [and thats the literary style Hitchens writes in through the whole book - its not easy to read].

In any case, it is a fact that so many wars and brutal behaviors, and trampling on the rights of people, has been done by religions.

Natural inclinations - including thoughts - are grounds for extreme punishments. Circumscisions are done with the idea of reducing sexual function and pleasure, despite that sex is natural and essential.

Anyone else read it? Perhaps it is an idea whose time has come?

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

I see that you're a newcomer. We've had a truckload of threads about religion here at babble ... so you might want to do a search and have a look at some of them. You might find that they cover some of the ground that you are interested in discussing.

You can look through past threads here at babble but there are also other ways to search.

One of the best way that I have found to do such a search is to go to google, go to advanced search, and type in [url=http://www.rabble.ca/babble]www.rabble.ca/babble[/url] in one field and the keyword you are interested in in another field and go from there.

Noise

I have problems reading these books as they invariably group all religion and spirituality under a giant 'Organized religion' umbrella... My preference tends towards something by Rosenblum (Quantum Enigma) or Radin (Entangled Minds).

Does it go much beyond an organized religion bash fest? For the most case, I generally think I can do a good enough job myself and don't need to read another Dawkins style book.

Or do what Beltov beat me to posting [img]tongue.gif" border="0[/img]

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

quote:


hitchens raises an interesting idea about Jesus that I would have NEVER considered - that JC never existed!!

It has been raised many times and exhaustively by Tom Harpur in [url=http://www.popmatters.com/books/reviews/p/pagan-christ.shtml]The Pagan Christ[/url].

I have little respect for Hitchens but I would disagree with the premise in your thread title. Religion, like an spiritual or political ideology, or even simply emotional state, merely provides a tool to exploit those easily led by those with toxic ideas.

Noah_Scape

Allrighty then, sorry to make these newbie mistakes and to bother ya'll with this topic.

I did that search and found "religion" in the national news section - who would'a thunk eh?

Also, "Rabble" came up, and "Babble Blogs" - thanks for the hint.

Although, I want to let you know, I wasn't actually interested in "religion" per se, in that I am NOT religious, its just that I read this Hitchens book and.... oh oh, there I go again.

Scurrying back to my public library now... Thanks for the replies everyone [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Oh, don't just go away. That isn't how this works. Offer a retort. Don't piss me off.

Michelle

quote:


Originally posted by Noah_Scape:
[b]Allrighty then, sorry to make these newbie mistakes and to bother ya'll with this topic. [/b]

No worries! There wasn't an active one, I don't think. Weren't we about due for another one? [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Isn't there a logical fallacy in the assertion that religion, say, for example, Xianity, is based on earlier evolving myths (i.e. languages for expressing one's cultural contradictions) and then after we've established it to turn around and blame such a myth for poisoning those who chose to express themselves with it in the first place? If not logical fallacy, then a flash of neurosis.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

I sometimes think we're too darn highfalutin and scare off the youngins. 10 "Hail Marys" for me.

1234567

quote:


Religion, like an spiritual or political ideology, or even simply emotional state, merely provides a tool to exploit those easily led by those with toxic ideas.


Like Babble. Fortunately, when all hell breaks loose on these boards and the namecalling starts, anyone who might have been brainwashed by someone here is scared away. LOL!

Noah_Scape

Wow, this is halloween I guess, pretty scary stuff here, lol [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

I can be disappointed at the 'welcome', but I will try not to let you scare me off, Okay? Maybe the "oldies" here are just insecure about the newbies? - kidding!! - have I made enemies allready? I was trying so hard to avoid that, since it seems to be a talent of mine.

I was hoping to raise an intellectual discussion about how religion poisons everything.

In the past few years, there has been a big increase in religious exposure - on TV and so on - and this book was a welcome rebuttal to that. I am dismayed at the way religion has made a comeback, as the 21stC dawns. I was hoping for some enlightenment instead.

I see a connection of religion to many of the world's problems, from sexual predators to wars, and maybe even global warming.

On global warming, the religious have this idea that humans are created in god's image and therefore we can continue to increase our GG emissions. Also, there are certainly some - perhaps many - out there who want to do all they can to bring on the 2nd coming, the "Rapture", and global warming is one of the ways that will contribute to it. Really - doesn't it seem like there are some who WANT to keep increasing emissions? [denials, getting in the way of solutions, etc].

Sure, where denials are involved, I realise that the biggest money is in importing oil and refining/selling gasoline [profit motive] but religion is having it's impact too.

Sexual predators, like the guy from Vancouver, Christopher Paul Neil, were at one time in the Catholic seminary... countless others were abused as children and are now predators themselves.... and the Catholic church is doing as little as it can to help solve this epidemic. There is the idea that "man-boy love" is the right of priests... its been going on for centuries. Religion poisons everything!

Obviously, there is a religious aspect to the Bushie wars, on both sides. Bush himself is such a hypocrit when it comes to being a good christian, being the author of so much death and destruction, and the "terrorists" are religiously motivated especially where they are killing each other [Shia on Sunni, sunni on shia][as well as having a perfectly good right to wanting the Americans out of their lands]. Africa's deaths squads, Bosnia's genocide - all religious!!

Both Islam and Chistianity are to blame of course, I am not on either one of those sides.

-------PS -
An on the 'Jesus was never here' idea - that link to "The Pagan Christ" was truly juicy stuff!!! Thanks for that, it explains where the myth got started [Ancient Egypt] - the Jesus myth comes straigh from that time... another copy, just another religion claiming to be "the only true one".

Noise

quote:


In the past few years, there has been a big increase in religious exposure - on TV and so on - and this book was a welcome rebuttal to that. I am dismayed at the way religion has made a comeback, as the 21stC dawns. I was hoping for some enlightenment instead.

Has it made a comeback... Or is it simply clashing more than it used to? I'm not entirely sure that a 'comeback in the 21st century' is an accurate description. There's been alot more active voices speaking out against it as far as I've noticed... Increased attention isn't a comeback.


quote:

I was hoping to raise an intellectual discussion about how religion poisons everything.

And I think we need to qualify that arguement to really continue... As FM much more elegantly states, relgion/spirituality tends to be a trait that is easily manipulated and swayed. If you are talking towards this manipulated section (I'll refer it to organized religion), then there is alot to cover. I would caution against labelling all spirituality under the same blanket umbrella as (I think) Hitchens has in his book.

sknguy

To simply say that religion "poisons everything" is a rather calculated reasoning for why humans do, what humans do. If you enter into the act of arguing over religion, then your simply exposing some human vulnerability. We could lash out at the threats around us by branding them heretical. But is that simply us manipulating religion, and not religion manipulating us. Are we as individuals coerced by religion? Or are we coercing religion?

Human vulnerability hides in the many things we do and believe. I simply see that humans use religion as an excuse for conflict, not a reason. I think stopping an examination of the “poisoning of everything” at religion would never really be address the dynamics of human needs.

Michael Hardner

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies the 1997 book by Jared Diamond, gives credit to Christianity for establishing a basis in personal rights that enabled individual industriousness in europe, pre-renaissance.

Then during the renaissance, the church caved on its own principles and allowed venture capitalism, and it's a tick of the clock to where we are today...

RosaL

quote:


Originally posted by Michael Hardner:
[b]Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies the 1997 book by Jared Diamond, gives credit to Christianity for establishing a basis in personal rights that enabled individual industriousness in europe, pre-renaissance.

Then during the renaissance, the church caved on its own principles and allowed venture capitalism, and it's a tick of the clock to where we are today...[/b]


Frankly, I don't know about the personal rights stuff but the usury controversy is fascinating. (Martin Luther is really fun on this subject! heh.)

remind remind's picture

quote:


Originally posted by Michael Hardner:
[b]Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies the 1997 book by Jared Diamond, gives credit to Christianity for establishing a basis in personal rights that enabled individual industriousness in europe, pre-renaissance.

Then during the renaissance, the church caved on its own principles and allowed venture capitalism, and it's a tick of the clock to where we are today...[/b]


I believe Diamonds' ass is sucking wind in this book for the most part, and that he gives too little credit to people deciding to empower themselves, as opposed to the "church allowing" anything.

Michael Hardner

quote:


I believe Diamonds' ass is sucking wind in this book for the most part, and that he gives too little credit to people deciding to empower themselves, as opposed to the "church allowing" anything.

Not a lot of empowering going on in them there times. Lots of beheading, not so much empowering.

Cueball Cueball's picture

quote:


Originally posted by sknguy:
[b]To simply say that religion "poisons everything" is a rather calculated reasoning for why humans do, what humans do. If you enter into the act of arguing over religion, then your simply exposing some human vulnerability. We could lash out at the threats around us by branding them heretical. But is that simply us manipulating religion, and not religion manipulating us. Are we as individuals coerced by religion? Or are we coercing religion?

Human vulnerability hides in the many things we do and believe. I simply see that humans use religion as an excuse for conflict, not a reason. I think stopping an examination of the “poisoning of everything” at religion would never really be address the dynamics of human needs.[/b]


I agree. Religion usually serves the interestes of the powerful, regardless of what the holy book may say. Hitchens is likely off on the wrong track as usual. Militant atheism seems very theological often times.

Blaming evil on the devil differs little from saying religion is the devil.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Here's some useful religion with a hopeful message.

[url=http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=107&ItemID=14171]God's Dream: Bishop Desmond Tutu[/url]

quote:

Bishop Desmond Tutu: ...truth-telling is hard. ...[But]It is not a choice. One feels compelled into it. ....

Some people are enraged by comparisons between the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and what happened in South Africa. There are differences between the two situations, but a comparison need not be exact in every feature to yield clarity about what is going on. Moreover, for those of us who lived through the dehumanizing horrors of the apartheid era, the comparison seems not only apt, it is also necessary. It is necessary if we are to persevere in our hope that things can change. ...

Most South Africans did not believe they would live to see a day of liberation. They did not believe that their children's children would see it. They did not believe that such a day even existed, except in fantasy. But we have seen it.


Bishop Tutu's message is one of hope against hope. It deserves a careful read. These are stirring words from an outstanding son of Africa and genuine moral heavyweight. We could use more like that and I don't particularly object to the religious covering with which Desmond Tutu expresses his thoughts.

This hardly seems like poison to me.

Noah_Scape

[url=http://www.straightgoods.ca/ViewFeature7.cfm?REF=559]Right-wing think tanks multiplying in Canada[/url]

- just an interesting article that came up as we were discussing this.

[/QUOTE]Together with the Manning Centre, the Institute for Marriage and the Family, and the Institute for Canadian Values, the Fraser Institute anchors a matrix of conservative organizations whose personnel attend each other's conferences, write for each other's newsletters and appear as spokespersons on sympathetic media to discuss the latest budgets, elections and court cases.
These organizations share a deep suspicion of government, an antagonism toward social programs and a dislike for the labour movement.
[QUOTE]

say no more!!

B.L. Zeebub LLD

quote:


Originally posted by remind:
[b]

I believe Diamonds' ass is sucking wind in this book for the most part, and that he gives too little credit to people deciding to empower themselves, as opposed to the "church allowing" anything.[/b]


The notion that the individual is ultimately morally responsible for their choices was in large part nurtured by Catholic dogma. Oddly, it was Protestants who went for the "predestined" nonsense. Catholics get to heaven or hell by their acts in this world - the honus is on the individual. The Catholic notion of "repentence" is based on the premise that each person may control their fate to an extent: God will judge, but [i]we[/i] choose. All of our later Western notions of "free will" are coloured by that history.

B.L. Zeebub LLD

quote:


Originally posted by Noah_Scape:
[b]Its a telling sign of the times - still - that I feel hesitant to start this thread, for fear of being hated.

[/b]


The times in which you're afraid of your own shadow?

Atheists, and/or those who question religion are NOT an embattled minority, despite the pleas of the narcissist humanists doing their best impersonations of Elijah screaming from their imagined wildernesses.

When was the last time a Heathen or Heretic was burned at your local stake?

[ 01 November 2007: Message edited by: B.L. Zeebub LLD ]

Cueball Cueball's picture

In the end I just think blaming all the worlds evil's on religion is a political cop out.

oldgoat

Yeah, I think organized religion is a very useful vehicle for those who seek to dominate, those who seek that level of corruption which comes from unaccountable power, as well as the merely venal, but without it they'd pop up elsewhere else from politics to being network TV executives.

Unionist

quote:


Originally posted by Cueball:
[b]In the end I just think blaming all the worlds evil's on religion is a political cop out.[/b]

I fully agree, and that's one of the chief errors made by the Dawkins-Harris-Hitchens crowd (in varying degrees). It's as if oppression and exploitation and imperialism etc. would all be fine (or disappear) if only religion were gone.

However, I think a more dangerous cop-out is to deny or ignore the extent to which religious organizations, beliefs and divisions serve to perpetuate the rule of the tyrants and their tyrannical system of oppression. Religion may not be the root of all evil, but it has a reprehensible record as evil's assistant.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Former South African President Nelson Mandela went out of his way to thank the South African churches, that raised their voices against Apartheid when all other voices were silenced, upon his release from jail after almost 30 years of imprisonment. It's a mixed bag of positives and negatives.

Noah_Scape

Good arguements against my hypothesis, but I don't know if I said that the ONLY problem was religion. If I did, I will recant that.

Where I claim to have a fear of being hated for speaking out about god and jesus being mere myths, it is perhaps a problem only in small towns and small minds, but it is real. Being a boomer gen, I have the "great generation" hanging over my head, and there really is hatred [or is it fear?] of athiesm there.

Still, you cannot deny that where some oilmen believe that "we can do no wrong since we are made in god's image", there is a huge threat to the environment, and emissions continue to increase because those most able to do something about it refuse to. [Yes, there is a profit motive too]

I personally know a CEO of a major oil corporation who pours motor oil on the ground because "it is organic", and he has other such fantasies. He has the confidence in his beliefs about pollution because he has that belief in god and that he "can do no wrong". There are many like him.

Also, what about the Catholic church and its failure to address sexual predators?

Plus, the damage to men from circumscision - we still don't talk about that... despite sexual dysfunctioning due to the missing "ridged band" and other important parts of the penus. Is that not a religious "thing" ? [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

[gee, I wish I could see your posts as I write this]

You are good critics, and I thank you for your clarity, but there is a threat when faith goes too far, and gets into areas of reality like environment and sex, am I right on that?

Tommy_Paine

Welcome, Noah. You have come to the right place.

I have just two short chapters to go on "God is not Great", before it joins "The God Delusion" on my bookshelf, where it should be sitting next to "The Demon Haunted World" except the later is on loan at the moment.

Hitchen's central point is not much different than what I have been saying for years. In the various scriptures can be found justification for whatever horrid behavior, whatever crime one wants to commit against one's fellow citizen. And this is why the key to human survival certainly does not lie with non-secular governments.

But for all that, I found Hitchens tedious in much of his stuff-- but maybe I was not the intended audience for much of it. It's a good book though, and Hitchens touches on many subjects that deserve to be books by themselves.

Reading through this thread earlier this morning, it put me in mind of another book I read many years ago: Isaac Asimov's "Guide to the Old Testament". There is also a "Guide to the New Testament", and a book released in the 1980's combining the two.

I suspect they might be hard to find, now. I found the "Guide to the Old Testament" at the library, so I do not have it to refer to at the moment.

But it seems to my memory that Asimov's more academic style, with no current political overtones does more damage to the position of religion than do Dawkins or Hitchens.

But they write in more desperate times.

Noise

quote:


Still, you cannot deny that where some oilmen believe that "we can do no wrong since we are made in god's image", there is a huge threat to the environment, and emissions continue to increase because those most able to do something about it refuse to. [Yes, there is a profit motive too]

I personally know a CEO of a major oil corporation who pours motor oil on the ground because "it is organic", and he has other such fantasies. He has the confidence in his beliefs about pollution because he has that belief in god and that he "can do no wrong". There are many like him.


Do you contend that it is the religious that jump to the conclusion "we can do no wrong since we are made in god's image", or the organized leaders telling people this is the way it is and the rest of the sheep follow the shepherd?

Tommy_Paine

quote:


Being a boomer gen, I have the "great generation" hanging over my head, and there really is hatred [or is it fear?] of athiesm there.

Interesting. It was "The Great Generation", and I believe my parents to be very typical amoung them, who were raised on fire and brimstone, where the Sabbath was the Sabbath, and everyone had to conform. True for my father, born, raised and buried here in London, and true for my mother, raised Anglican in a mill town outside Manchester, England.

But it was this generation, after the war, who did not require their kids to go to church. In fact, they turned their backs on organized religion to a degree greater than we boomers, or gen x'ers.

quote:

You are good critics, and I thank you for your clarity, but there is a threat when faith goes too far, and gets into areas of reality like environment and sex, am I right on that?

Well, I am so far a cult of one on this, but I have gone further to say that, at some point, religious devotion becomes a mental disorder, and that the world would be safer if it was treated as such.

Cueball Cueball's picture

For me, I guess I feel religion is immaterial. I was originally influenced to this position by a well know German Political Philosopher and Economist.

That said I think one has to make a distinction between organized religion and spirituality in general. This is I think and obvious point for most people on this thread, but I think it is a mistake to simply dismiss issues of spirtuality out of hand. The peristance of religious belief in the face of the tide of materialist thinking that swept the globe in the late 19th century and the last indicates I think a need, (desire, demand, want?) within people to express something about the human experience of the world that can not simply be wrapped up in cozy rationalist formula.

This perhaps has something to do with the mere mechanism of liminal perceptions and the way the world is experienced by people, but I think one has to agree that this problem persists, for whatever reason it does exists, and it exists even in secular thought as can be seen in the work of secular philisophers that have come down to us directly from the liniage of non-secular philpsophers that preceeded the rationalist boom.

Ideas such a "class consciousness" border on quasi-spiritual conceptual terrain.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

I always thought that class consciousness was, in simple terms, knowing what side of the fence you're on. Of course, it's no accident that a great deal of intellectual effort is expended on denying that social class exists at all ... so it's hardly surprising that many are unclear on the concept.

A more appropriate example would be market idolatry. Its advocates openly acknowledge that it is an article of faith.

quote:

Despite this, many economists still think that electricity deregulation will work. A product is a product, they say, and competition always works better than state control.
"I believe in that premise as a matter of religious faith," said Philip J. Romero, dean of the business school at the University of Oregon and one of the architects of California's deregulation plan.
--New York Times, February 4, 2001

I got the quote from an essay by Thomas Frank, [i]The God That Sucked.[/i]

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

If we accept that religion offers mythic compensation for irreconcilable contradictions or packaged ways of viewing the world, then it's easy to see (as many have) the sacred in celebrity and commodity culture. To say that religion has a monopoly on the mythical sacred is indeed a cop-out.

So to say that religion poisons things as if it were a root cause of suffering is like blaming the iPod for emptying life of any meaning. I love to criticize Tom Cruise as much as anyone, but I'm sorry to say that the damage was done before he (or religion) came anywhere near it. Plus those iPod nanos are just so damn cute. And don't get me started on the iPhone. Talk about sexy.

remind remind's picture

quote:


Originally posted by N.Beltov:
[b]I always thought that class consciousness was, in simple terms, knowing what side of the fence you're on. Of course, it's no accident that a great deal of intellectual effort is expended on denying that social class exists at all ... so it's hardly surprising that many are unclear on the concept. [/b]

I am aware and versed in the concept of class consciousness and I do not believe it exists, I believe it is a created mythos to foster peoples ego and for control over others.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

remind, your remarks are incoherent. Obviously, the concept [i]exists[/i] if we argue about it. I hope you're not trying to defend some sort of Thatcherite political solipsism in which it is denied that society exists at all. If that's the case, then asldfkjalsdfjqwrsdfadf. So there.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Its not incoherent to say class conciousness does not exist. It's refutation of the idea, as functional in society.

remind remind's picture

quote:


Originally posted by Cueball:
[b]Its not incoherent to say class conciousness does not exist. It's refutation of the idea, as functional in society.[/b]

Exactly, and more.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Fine. What's the purpose of a trade union? What interests do trade unionists have in common that there would be laws to regulate their functioning, the interactions between these organizations and the organizations of bosses? I suppose it's all just a misunderstanding and people who belong to trade unions don't really have any interests in common.

Like I said. asldfkjalsdfjqwrsdfadf.

Geneva

a new-new publishing trend? -- atheists return to faith (actually, it is an ancient one, w. moderns like Muggeridge keeping the pot warm):
[url=http://tinyurl.com/2vq8eo]http://tinyurl.com/2vq8eo[/url]
[i]
In one of the biggest religion news stories of the new millennium, the Associated Press announced that Professor Antony Flew, the world's leading atheist, now believes in God.

Flew is a pioneer for modern atheism. His famous paper, Theology and Falsification, was first presented at a meeting of the Oxford Socratic Club chaired by C. S. Lewis and went on to become the most widely reprinted philosophical publication of the last five decades. Flew earned his fame by arguing that one should presuppose atheism until evidence of a God surfaces. He now believes that such evidence exists, and There Is a God chronicles his journey from staunch atheism to believer.

For the first time, this book will present a detailed and fascinating account of Flew's riveting decision to revoke his previous beliefs and argue for the existence of God. Ever since Flew's announcement, there has been great debate among atheists and believers alike about what exactly this "conversion" means. There Is a God will finally put this debate to rest.

This is a story of a brilliant mind and reasoned thinker, and where his lifelong intellectual pursuit eventually led him: belief in God as designer.[/i]

[ 02 November 2007: Message edited by: Geneva ]

Geneva

oh boy, the plot thickens:
he has a longtime feud w. Dawkins and, Canadian content alert!, he taught at York:

from Amazon reader reviews:
[i]Anthony Flew was a hardcore atheist and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Keele for twenty years and upon his retirement, Flew took up a half-time post for a few years at York University, Toronto.

Flew said : I now realize that I have made a fool of myself by believing that there were no presentable theories of the development of inanimate matter up to the first living creature capable of reproduction." wrote Flew. He blames his error on being "misled" by Richard Dawkins, claiming Dawkins "has never been reported as referring to any promising work on the production of a theory of the development of living matter" .

This is a story of a brilliant mind and reasoned thinker, and where his lifelong intellectual pursuit eventually led him: belief in God as designer. [/i]

[ 02 November 2007: Message edited by: Geneva ]

Tommy_Paine

Religion does poison everything because it seeks, often quite successfully, to legitimize irrational thoughts and actions.

This is what Dawkins was on about. Why do we treat religiously based ideas with kid gloves? Why is attacking them rationally often deemed "unfair"?

Ben Franklin urged Thomas Paine to keep quiet about religion being a scam. That's because Franklin believed it had utility in keeping social order in terms of morality.

But we know a bit more than Ben these days. We know that, far from a guide for morality, the great utility of religion is to create an atmosphere and excuse for immoral behavior. In a philosophy like religion, and postmodernism, anything can be "true."

With this as the cornerstone of one's philosophy, the nastier aspects of our nature have free run over that small but constant voice of rationality that nags away in the back of our mind-- poisoning everything.

B.L. Zeebub LLD

quote:


Originally posted by Tommy_Paine:
[QB]Religion does poison everything because it seeks, often quite successfully, to legitimize irrational thoughts and actions.

Religion doesn't do this, PEOPLE do this. It's nice to conceive of a mind free from the fetters of irrational thoughts, haphazard emotions, the nagging wants of the body which drive us hither and yon, but no such human being exists. The average psychology is a maelstrom of conflicting desires, hastily drawn conclusions and half-baked (and nearly impervious) justifications for why we're all normal and we have it all under control.

Sorry Tommy, commonplace religion ain't the problem, it's the symptom and merely a tool in the hands of a deeply irrational being. Atheists are no less likely to be lead around by irrational impulses; though they usually talk a very good game about how they're well-reasoned and logical. Many people have simply lost the plot and assume that their "head brain" always runs the show, even if it's often the last to the party. If it's invited at all. Often our head brain is like those people who tell you they were at the first Blue Jays game. All 3 or 4 million of them.

And what's so illegitimate about irrational thoughts and actions, Tommy? I sure hope you don't try employing rational thoughts the next time someone fires a puck at your jockstrap.

You're conflating "irrational" with "bad". Is that necessarily the case?

[ 02 November 2007: Message edited by: B.L. Zeebub LLD ]

Geneva

well, Thomas Paine was just one side of the story, and he was pretty much a pamphleteer and not a philosopher; the issue has been debated for millennia (btw, a historical perennial, i.e. Roman "every faith equally true for the believer, equally false for the non-believer, and equally useful for the ruler");

In that same era, Alexis de Tocqueville doubted whether any free society could survive without private belief; not the manipulative schema TP outlines above but rather because, as Tocqueville outlined, because public virtue depends on private conscience:

[i]I doubt whether man can ever support at the same time complete religious independence and entire political freedom and am drawn to the thought that if a man is without faith, he must serve someone and if he is free, he must believe.
[...]
If their (atheist) system could be of some use to man, it would be in giving him a modest opinion of himself. But they do not demonstrate such a truth and when they think they have done enough to prove they are brutish, they seem as proud as if they had demonstrated that they were gods.[/i]

.

[ 02 November 2007: Message edited by: Geneva ]

B.L. Zeebub LLD

quote:


Originally posted by Tommy_Paine:
[b]

But it seems to my memory that Asimov's more academic style, with no current political overtones does more damage to the position of religion than do Dawkins or Hitchens. [/b]


By making the same mistake they do: taking religious text at immediately apparent face value and refuting it based on factual claims. In essence, by applying an unsympathetic literalist reading to a largely metaphorical and allegorical document and saying "see, it's nonsense..." without any regard to the possible (and likely intended) layers of meaning contained within.

Take the Freemasons as an example. Say what you will about them, but in the 33 Chapters of the Gospels (hence the 33 degrees) they claim there exists an allegorical key to finding a new way of conducting one's self in life - both inside and outside. As an example, the "death and resurrection" is a spiritual path that each one of us may undertake, not a supernatural event. Doubtlessly, this interpretation is understood by meditating Jesuits and Benedictines all over.

To argue that THAT isn't true, Asimov, Hitchens, and the Dawkins would have to have at the very least a) "correctly" read the allegory and b) attempted its prescriptions. They haven't.

To me, they do little more than kick down scarecrows. If they're claim is only that the New Testament is not [i]on its face[/i] a scientific treatise, then fair enough. Gotz me?!?! No argument. But that's like claiming that Shakespeare's plays are not scientific treatises. I doubt you'd find anyone to disagree, but the argument that the documents themselves are therefore useless, and without strong and intentional meaning for the various situations we humans find ourselves in, is a different argument altogether.

By failing to truly scientifically examine the possible meanings (isn't it "science" to try and account for all possibilities/probabilities of a phenomenon) in the text, let alone do the empirical work necessary to verify the content as useful or not, they've done themselves, science, and "religion" a disservice. They may have successfully refuted the claims of literalist religionists everywhere, but that's child's play. It's always been the deeper meanings inscribed into religious text that beg our close reading and attention. Funnily enough, it's the pernicious influence of modern literalism that has obscured these meanings both for believer and critic alike. We seem unable to read/think in more than one register.

Tom Harpur's rejoinder to those who remain skeptical of Jesus of Nazareth's existence is poignant: What does it matter if he did or didn't? That's not what's at issue. It is the Metaphor that is the Matter. Literally.


quote:

[b]But they write in more desperate times.[/b]

Is that you Elijah? The times are always desperate. We're all going to die any moment now.

[ 02 November 2007: Message edited by: B.L. Zeebub LLD ]

Cueball Cueball's picture

quote:


Originally posted by Tommy_Paine:
[b]Religion does poison everything because it seeks, often quite successfully, to legitimize irrational thoughts and actions.

This is what Dawkins was on about. Why do we treat religiously based ideas with kid gloves? Why is attacking them rationally often deemed "unfair"?

Ben Franklin urged Thomas Paine to keep quiet about religion being a scam. That's because Franklin believed it had utility in keeping social order in terms of morality.

But we know a bit more than Ben these days. We know that, far from a guide for morality, the great utility of religion is to create an atmosphere and excuse for immoral behavior. In a philosophy like religion, and postmodernism, anything can be "true."

With this as the cornerstone of one's philosophy, the nastier aspects of our nature have free run over that small but constant voice of rationality that nags away in the back of our mind-- poisoning everything.[/b]


This statement is so filled with assumptions, we might as well take it as an article of faith.

Noah_Scape

This is going good now,I can hardly keep up; so much more thought and insight here than at any other forum I've seen - where the 'insult tactic' and rhetoric are all they have to offer.'

And Tommy is reading the book!!

Ahhh, the godless wonders!! I am learning new things too, like about Flew - so what exactly was his revelation that 'led him back into the arms of god'? {I could google it, but...]

I think that Tommy is right in saying that irrational thought is what poisons everything.

As for the other arguement that it is people and not religion, well people are the ones doing the thinking, religion is a choice they make...

Anyhow, getting back to practical matters, global politics is pretty scary, with so many lives hanging in the balance, and it is too real to have religious people making decisions.

Maybe it is time to re-state the idea of "separation of church and state" - lookit Bush catering to the RW Christians on policy matters. [sure, Canada is not the USA, but with Harper it is getting closer].

I heard Mike Huckabee on PBS last night, and he is bringing religion into his platform... {did anyone catch what he said about global warming and Darwin?- "if evolution is true, then everything just keeps getting better, so it is survival of the fittest"] He doesn't seem to have a grasp of the situation where emissions are a man-made threat, so how will those types ever find solutions?

Ya, I said it... "those people". lol

I remember being told that I should leave the believers alone, because they are insecure and need to believe in god. Fine, but get them out of politics - is that reasonable?

Maybe in a democracy we have to let the majority have their irrational beliefs... its a tough call... I don't want to be a fascist athiest [though most fascists also had religious supports - as "god is not Great" said.

Q: are there more athiests/non-believers that religious people in Canada now? ; are we moving that direction?
They say that Islam is the fastest growing religion... but are there more Islamic converts than athiest converts?

There is, at least, a general movement towards non-religion, as someone pointed out, since the Bommers parents let them stop going to church {I went until age 12...]Good point, but isn't there at least a "media coverage increase" on religion since the Iraq Qar/9-11 started?

War and belief seem to go together, as Hitchens pointed out so many times [he also points out that there ARE athiests in foxholes].

hmmm, so many replies, my cup runneth over... I better endith thith now-ish.

Tommy_Paine

quote:


And what's so illegitimate about irrational thoughts and actions, Tommy? I sure hope you don't try employing rational thoughts the next time someone fires a puck at your jockstrap.

I would think it quite rational to dodge a puck to the yarbles. Or, quite rational to let the auto pilot in your brain do the flying for a moment. That's a whole other fascinating subject though. But to cut to the chase, I would think that what makes us human is the ability to over ride instinctive behaviors when the situation calls for it.

I would call that reason-- what Martin Luther calls "The Devil's harlot". Religion asks, indeed demands, that one abandon reason.

quote:

Sorry Tommy, commonplace religion ain't the problem, it's the symptom and merely a tool in the hands of a deeply irrational being.

Somehow, I don't think you are sorry. It's the sceptic in me. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img] Like you, I don't envision a utopia in the absence of religion. But I tend to think that if someone is attacking you with a tool, it's likely to hurt a lot less if they have the tool removed from their grasp.

quote:

In that same era, Alexis de Tocqueville doubted whether any free society could survive without private belief; not the manipulative schema TP outlines above but rather because, as Tocqueville outlined, because public virtue depends on private conscience:

That is contingent on the idea that only religion can supply moral foundation for the private conscience. It's a very wrong idea. It's not only insulting to atheists, it is deeply revealing of the mind of the religious.

quote:

To argue that THAT isn't true, Asimov, Hitchens, and the Dawkins would have to have at the very least a) "correctly" read the allegory and b) attempted its prescriptions. They haven't.

Actually, all Asimov did was to provide the kind of background you are talking about.

Be that as it may, you surely know that the onus of proof lies with the claimant:

quote:

By failing to truly scientifically examine the possible meanings (isn't it "science" to try and account for all possibilities/probabilities of a phenomenon) in the text, let alone do the empirical work necessary to verify the content as useful or not, they've done themselves, science, and "religion" a disservice. They may have successfully refuted the claims of literalist religionists everywhere, but that's child's play. It's always been the deeper meanings inscribed into religious text that beg our close reading and attention.

That's actually the job of the true believers-- or should be. Unfortunately, literal belief in the Bible and other scriptures has become so fashionable that it has infected the public discourse, and politics. So the "child's play" many of us find an exercise in pedantry has become necessary.

quote:

This statement is so filled with assumptions, we might as well take it as an article of faith.

Oh, Cueball, you are such a cute little empiricist.

When it suits you.

[img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]

Oh, a few more to address, I forgot.

quote:

Is that you Elijah? The times are always desperate. We're all going to die any moment now.

Well, we have India with the bomb now, and a kind of fundamentalist Hindu political view in ascendancy, we have a very unstable political situation in equally nuclear Pakistan, with fundamentalists there champing at the bit to stage a coup. Oh, and Iran doing their best to join the club. And we have those nut bars in the States in control at the moment who, if not fundamentalists themselves, give vast lip service to that view point.

Compared to when Asimov wrote his work, yes, I'd say the times are a bit more desperate. I mean, things were safer under Nixon and Brezhnev.

Who'd a thunk?

quote:

hmmm, so many replies, my cup runneth over... I better endith thith now-ish.

Oh, c'mon Noah, it's just starting to get fun!

[ 02 November 2007: Message edited by: Tommy_Paine ]

Agent 204 Agent 204's picture

quote:


Originally posted by B.L. Zeebub LLD:
[b]The notion that the individual is ultimately morally responsible for their choices was in large part nurtured by Catholic dogma. Oddly, it was Protestants who went for the "predestined" nonsense.[/b]

Thing is, if you accept the premise that God is omniscient, I don't know how you can avoid predestination. It's just that Calvin was the only theologian with the intellectual honesty to recognize that.

Noah_Scape

Oh ya, this IS getting good... I like it, it is a good 'intellectual discussion' - but it can have a practical slant too, as in maybe we can put some clarity into the problems of the day.

While I was away surfin' the 'net, I found this gem at "DeSmogBlog", a website that focuses on the denial of global warming:
[url=http://www.desmogblog.com/evangelical-powerhouses-ignoring-gods-green-ea... Powerhouses Ignoring God's Green Earth[/url]

quote:

"24% of voters identified themselves as white/born again Christians, and 78% of that demographic voted Republican."

- thats a significant portion of the population!!

They read the trash that preachers like James Dobson write, and they just 'simply' agree with him because they see him as the 'higher power' and don't bother to look any deeper.

quote:

"To say Dobson holds sway, is an understatement - over $250 million in annual revenue, a daily syndicated radio show reaching 220 million a day in 164 countries and a monthly magazine with over 2 million subscribers."

Dobson is typical of the kind of 'religious authorities' Hitchens wrote about, being "blatantly wealthy", and yet pretending to be vitally genuine, as if he is just preaching because he is a faithfull servant of god. So many preachers like him have come and gone, taking money and living glutonous lives, breaking all the commandments while preaching them, but the crowds don't seem to mind the hypocracy.

And what does he write? Who does Dobson take his cues from? The title was "scientists not convinced about global warming", and he is citing "research" and accompanying quotes from the George C. Marshall Institute and the American Enterprise Institute, two DC think tanks that has received large sums of money from the fossil fuel industry.

I don't doubt Dobson is also receiving some of his money directly from fossil fuel corporate interests, but that conflict of interest would not likely bother his followers either.

So, the result is that our emissions continue to rise because no action is likely to be taken until the public outcry become deafening. It is a mere whimper now, from a minority of the population who bothers to look further into the matter than what people like Dobson, and the entire "denial industry" are telling the public through the mass media [and Dobson's own rag]. In the case of those 35% of Americans who listen to Dobson, they belive global warming is much of a problem, if a problem at all.

Rational thought does not enter into it for many Americans, and the environmental movement needs their voices. Emissions will continue to rise until a solid majority is screaming for action, and willing to make changes on their own.

From the religious viewpoint, environmental damage should be a matter of great interest. People are supposed to be good stewards of the earth. 'god's creations' are not supposed to be desicrated.

What I am getting at is that the religious are not looking deeper" into their own doctrines to see if they are actually following it - they just listen Dobson and believe whatever he is saying.

They take it on "faith", and faith is a damn dangerous thing when it comes to real problems.

remind remind's picture

quote:


Originally posted by N.Beltov:
[b]Fine. What's the purpose of a trade union?
What interests do trade unionists have in common that there would be laws to regulate their functioning, the interactions between these organizations and the organizations of bosses? I suppose it's all just a misunderstanding and people who belong to trade unions don't really have any interests in common. [/b]

Interests in common, do not a class system make.

For example, we will take 2 bars that were in one city I lived in, both had excellent bands and a large cliental.

One was, considered "low class" the other "high class".

What were the people doing at each of them?

Drinking, doing rails on the bathroom toilet tanks, looking to pick up a fuck buddie for the night, listening to the music and dancing.

The only difference was, the people in one were wearing designer clothes, leather coats and shoes and pretending they were better than "those others" at the other bar. A "higher" class in other words.

When in fact, there was no difference in their pursuits at all.

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