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syz's avatar

Do you have a response to this article that I would find compelling?

Asked by syz (33570 points ) February 12th, 2014

(Warning: if you prefer to avoid questions about religion, please skip this question. I don’t mean to offend, so please, please skip it if you see questioning belief as an attack.)

Sure, it’s a set up, because I am predisposed to agreeing (pretty much completely) with this article.

But what I’m wondering is if there’s a response beyond “Because the Bible says so” as a thoughtful, measured response.

I’m not looking to get into a fight over religion. I’m an atheist and I’m nearly 100% certain that nothing will ever change that – I’ll admit that up front.

If I don’t believe in God, and if I believe the Bible to be a outdated and flawed fairytale, then referencing God and the Bible doesn’t work as an argument for me. So I guess I’m asking….what other arguments are there?

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41 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

I am not an atheist. Yet I vigorously agree with the article.

What the article is arguing against is intellectual weakness, arguing that God endorses your human effort. That’s a weak and unverifiable argument. And when one examines such arguments, they point to a pretty weak deity.

People whose spirituality has evolved beyond such dualistic thinking never make arguments as criticized by the article.

syz's avatar

@zenvelo Sadly, it seems as if those in the public eye are all suffering from intellectual weakness and I am assaulted by it daily (this morning’s offering).

keobooks's avatar

I know people who still believe that interracial couples are an abomination against God. I wonder if they will get to refuse service to those people on religious grounds as well. And I don’t think that’s a slippery slope argument. I just wonder if these legislators have really bothered to think that stuff out .. This is regarding the second article, btw.

Coloma's avatar

I agree with @zenvelo
It doesn’t matter, all we can do is live our own lives as we see fit, and being angry at others belief systems is a waste of time and an energy drain. Remove yourself from the line of self imposed assault and practice detatchment.

keobooks's avatar

It’s hard to remove yourself from the line of assault when people’s interpretation of their religion is directly affecting you. Some people will do amazingly hurtful and hateful things when they think they have God on their side. I think sometimes people do need to get over themselves and do the legal thing rather than the religiously moral (in their opinion) thing.

ibstubro's avatar

I found the second article much more compelling.
Why stop at religious beliefs about marriage? Hell, in my lifetime I was taught that when Cain killed Able, the ‘mark of God’ was color. I should be able to refuse service to the original felons. For that matter, I was raised in a Christian household, so females can just kiss my aspphole.
I love the Kansas law. As an adult white male American with Christian training, I can do any, and I DO mean ANY, thing I see fit. (Now re-visit the first article.)

Oops. First we need to pass a law making Christianity the official religion! Can’t have the rag heads in no more planes or the spooks making Molotov cocktails.

thorninmud's avatar

I think that bolstering one’s own preferences by framing them as God’s law is just a particular and highly conspicuous instance of a common human strategy. You see it in the political arena where greed for personal gain gets justified as an axiom of the natural way free-market economics, with its “invisible hand”, is supposed to work; and where not wanting to see your money go to taxes gets spun as not enabling the bad habits of weak people, a violation of the economic principle of “moral hazard”. You see it in lifestyle choices: wanting to eat meat gets framed as the right thing to do based on evolutionary evidence that we’re meant to be omnivores.

I could sit here forever citing variants on the same theme: My point of view harmonizes beautifully with the Way Things Are (AKA God’s law, the natural order of the universe, common sense, Tradition…).

keobooks's avatar

People may be seeing that law as a simple thing like the florist refusing to serve a gay couple, but does that law mean that a medical professional can refuse to give emergency medical service to a gay person? Or actually, someone they simply PERCEIVE as gay and may not actually be gay at all? I could seriously see two straight men who just want a cup of coffee together getting kicked out of a restaurant because one of them looked suspiciously swishy.

It scares me that we are living in a society right now where laws like this are being passed. In the recent past, I would have agreed with the “live and let live” people who would say don’t be so hard on those who believe they are holy and righteous and anyone different is dreck. But now these people are in the legislature and they are trying to legalize discrimination, mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds and God only knows what else.

I think the article should be “I DO care about your damn religion because it scares the crap out of me.”

Tropical_Willie's avatar

You understand “The Bible” is not a single work but a compilation of different works by different people at different times and the King James Version was edited and completed in 1611?

There is no reason that different works by different people at different times is going to be a cohesive and unified set of logic. All answers for all questions can be interpreted from “The Bible”, if you need answer to to to counter your nemesis just keep looking in there you’ll find it.

Coloma's avatar

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

KNOWITALL's avatar

“The shield of religion is excellent for rationalizing prejudices that we logically and empathically know are wrong.” – OUCH! Sad but true.

Jesus died for our sins and told us to ‘walk in love’ (Eph 5:2) so that’s what I try to do.

“Jesus was saying what we know that the Christian faith is not for good people. It’s for sinners. The church is not for people who think they’re righteous, it’s for people who know they’re not. You hear that criticism a lot, “Well the church certainly isn’t filled with perfect people.” True, but at least we know we’re not perfect, that’s why we’re here. This is not a club for the righteous, this is a hospital for the sin sick.”
http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/42-67/jesus-came-to-call-and-to-save-sinners

RocketGuy's avatar

The Bible is a book of phrases. Some call for kindness, etc. for everyone, some call for killing and abuse. Anyone can pull the right phrases to argue for or against anything.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I would like to join in this discussion, but I first need some clarification.

The title question states, “Do you have a response to this article that I would find compelling?” I have to ask, “Compelling for what?” Are you looking for ideas compelling enough to steer you to return to religion? Are you looking for arguments compelling enough to change your mind regarding the existence of God? Religion and belief in God are not the same thing, by the way. I really don’t understand the title question or the details.

In the details, you ask, “What other arguments are there?” I’m still at a loss. Perhaps I’m being dense, but I truly do not understand what you’re looking for.

I read the article linked in your details, and I agree with @zenvelo. I am not an atheist, but I also find it tiresome when public officeholders use religion to base public policy on. It’s an incorrect use of reason.

There are many many different reasons to argue for or against many many different points of public policy. It’s my observation that God gets brought into the debate when one side wants to proclaim superiority in a way that allows them to simultaneously vilify their opposition. God is resorted to in order to claim irrefutablity, and that is wrong.

pleiades's avatar

I really only like the New Testament and I’m not ashamed to say that. Personally, I take the Old Testament with a grain of salt as more of a historical context to see how Jesus came into the world.

All the “documented” teachings directly from his mouth were recorded by many people. Whether you are atheist or not, many scholars agree, a Jesus of Nazareth did in fact rome the earth just as was recorded a King Hamurabi, or even an Abraham Lincoln, you get my point. Whether or not he is God depends on the individual, naturally. Now with all that have being, the teachings that came directly from Jesus in large part are all about respect, humility, charity and most importantly not being judgmental/loving one another. I combined the last two because I’m lazy to go back and backspace I’d rather keep typing :) There’s also good info about diet. In Christianity within the Old Testament there are verses telling people not to eat pork, or shell fish. For me it makes good sense to avoid as pork is a very fatty meat and shell fish are high in cholesterol. Am I cherry picking? Maybe… I also like the story of the disciples who were in prison and they were told by God to eat only vegetables and fruits while they were offered meats. In the book it records that the vegetarians felt and looked better physically than those who were eating the meat. A story encouraging vegetarianism? Alright I’m on board!

The latter teaching is what really should set all Christians free from “the worldly problems” there is even a verse in the bible that forbids Christians to stand on corners and shout out and condemn others to hell or shout out God is offended and crap like that.

and @RocketGuy actually, if you’ve actually read the book I’d love for you to pull a quote where Jesus said it’s ok to kill another person. Unless it’s just a myth you were told then you don’t have to answer my question.

syz's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake I guess I’m looking for a non-cyclical argument. “You must do what the Bible says because that’s what it says in the the Bible” just doesn’t make sense to me. Is the only support for religion blind faith? Because if it’s blind faith, who decides which faith is the correct one (except that everyone seems to believe that theirs is the correct one). What argument is there to believe? Why do people believe?

If there’s some aspect of science that I find dubious, usually someone can explain it to me. If I feel a certain way about politics, sometimes someone can show me another point of view that may affect my opinion (or not). There are so many topics that with information, dialog, education, argument…whatever…I can grasp why people believe what they believe. But I just don’t get religion.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Sy* Many theists have personal confirmations that confirm God exists.

syz's avatar

@KNOWITALL What does that mean?

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@syz Thank you so much for the clarification.

You are absolutely correct to say cyclical arguments such as you mentioned are nonsensical. They’re stupid.

I believe in God, but I follow no religion. I don’t get it either.

I see belief in God and religion as 2 separate things. My personal belief is not dependent on attending any religious functions to learn a set of rules whereby I may have access to that God. For me, belief is about feeling that something is fundamentally correct, and religion is about control. I believe in God, because it feels right to me. I don’t practice any religion, because I don’t need to be told when and how I can know the divine.

Personally, I believe that God is unlimited from time and space. God’s existence does not depend on my ability to explain it. God is indefinable. It cannot be known, but I do believe it can be experienced. I believe in a Classical God. I use Classical to mean something akin to Platonic ideals or Aristotle’s Unmoving Mover. God is a logical, indefinable necessity by which everything that is has its being. God is being.

I have read a lot on a wide variety of topics. I have not read anything in science to refute the idea that a Classical God is impossible. I have read a lot in many different kinds of literature that a Modern God as is thought of by the average believer I meet in the street today is, in fact, impossible. The average believer thinks God is a part of the universe that at a distinct point in time caused the universe to exist.

That’s wrong. God cannot be a part of the universe subject to its laws and existing in it somewhere. Such a being is not supreme. The second it becomes the thing which caused the universe to exist according to definable laws, then it also becomes subject to those laws and is therefore a limited, finite being. It is not God.

But a Classical God is being. It just is.

I believe God exists in the natural longing present in every culture I am aware of to know transcendentals like truth and beauty. That longing represents an irrepressible urge by people to know something larger than what is readily exhibited to our everyday existence. There is nothing in the natural world to suggest absolute truth and beauty exist, yet every culture strives for those things.

Many years ago, I was staying for a time on a farm. There were many ponds and grassy areas and trees. I walked around the area a lot, and I really enjoyed myself. I do not remember all the details, because it’s been probably 2 decades now. I do remember walking back from one of the ponds to the house one evening, and I was quite suddenly and ecstatically struck by the knowledge that all this exists in order for love to exist. There is no other reason.

I readily admit that there were thoughts coursing through my head, and those thoughts can be broken down by neuroscientists to electro-chemicals in the brain. I have not read anything to convince me that those electro-chemicals can be said to physically hold thought itself. The electro-chemicals do not hold ideas.

What I’m trying to say is that my consciousness is not contained by the electro-chemical firings that occur inside my physical brain. My consciousness exists. It just is much like God is.

ibstubro's avatar

Lean pork is not high in fat, that’s the reason it dries out easier than fat-marbleized beef. The ancient bias against pork probably has more to do with trichinosis.

syz's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake Thank you, that’s a lovely description. And a very personal description. And it sounds (to me) nothing like what the intrusive proselytizers that come to my door sound like, nothing like what the religious right spews…well, you get my drift. Are you sure what you describe is even in the same category as religion?

It does sound very much like the overwhelming awe and excitement that I feel when I consider the incredible, layered, complex beauty of evolution and the interconnectedness of living systems. But I consider that nature, not god.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@syz You are correct. It’s nothing like the modern evangelical religions of any type. I have read books by people who believe in the Classical God and also practice a modern religion, and they are deep thinkers.

I have more of a philosophy than a religion. It’s a metaphysics for living.

I agree with you completely. It is that awe and excitement you speak of when thinking about how miraculous all this is. I have a question for you about that awe and excitement.

What is it?

I know it is emotion and can be broken down into electro-chemical impulses in the physical brain, but those electro-chemicals do not carry in their structure the ideas of awe and excitement. They do not even carry emotion. They are empty of themselves.

We humans give it meaning with our consciousness, and consciousness just is. I have not yet read a convincing account that says consciousness can be broken down into physical particles that carry mental ideas. There isn’t an atom or quark for “awe”. We humans give meaning to the physical. We are the creators.

We humans do something when we think about the physical world that gives it something that’s not there without us. We are a link between spirit and physical, and our thoughts seem key to how we accomplish that link.

When we turn our attention to our thinking, we are doing something supernatural. Nothing else in the universe that has shown itself to us so far is capable of self-reflection. That act is as close to the divine as we can experience, I suspect.

In my thinking, your awe and excitement are a symptom of God. They are transcendental longings that carry a spark of the divine. They are what a human does who is longing for a larger reality. That longing is a mark of spirit. I don’t believe that longing can be explained using purely physicalist words.

I hope I am getting close to a thoughtful and measured response.

syz's avatar

“In my thinking, your awe and excitement are a symptom of God. They are transcendental longings that carry a spark of the divine.”

I’m frustrated that I can’t formulate a response without sounding petulantly contrary, but here inside my mind I look at those thing that I celebrate as proof that there is no God. If God is perfect, why the evolutionary lines that failed and died off? Or why evolution at all, why not instant perfection? Even if we move away from the term “God” and call if spirituality, I still shy away.

In my heart of hearts, as much as I would like to think that my life has some deeper meaning or lasting affect or even something that happens after life ends, I know that that’s not true. We are highly evolved animals that through some quirk developed these amazing brains. But they’re just amazing brains, and we’re just animals, and when we die we cease to exist and then we rot. Nothing else makes any sense.

(And in the meantime, religion – which we’re not currently talking about and haven’t been for some time – does fuckall kinds of destructive, divisive, deadly, evil shit all over the world.)

gailcalled's avatar

In all the online concordances, there is NO mention of the domestic cat anywhere in the bible. Lions and leopards, yes, but without felines, how can you even attempt to define a deity?

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@syz Those are all excellent questions, and I believe they have an answer. That answer will not be satisfying probably, because it is—like God—vague.

When I hear questions about God’s perfection and the imperfection of the world, I realize those ideas are based in an incorrect definition of what God is. Those ideas rank God among the items in the universe that can be seen and cataloged. It makes God a finite thing with a time and a place.

It makes God one of us—a thing.

You’re frustrated with what you want to say, and I’m just as frustrated. I don’t know what God is, but I know that God can be experienced. Still, I don’t know how to describe that experience with human language.

God is something that happens. God is.

I am completely at peace with your idea that we are highly evolved animals. I have no distaste for that at all. Where I think we differ is that I see something more in what our amazing brains do. It’s my idea that when we use our amazing brains, something supernatural happens.

I had a supernatural experience when I saw the farm that day as described above. I had another one when I visited the rock garden at the Japanese Zen Buddhist temple Ryoan-ji in Nara near Kyoto. The simplicity of the stones set amongst gravel carefully raked moved me in an indescribable way. That is a longing for transcendental beauty. I have had a handful of these experiences, and they all prove to me that there is something more. Longing is a mark of God.

I cannot correctly give voice to what that “more” is other than to say it is.

LostInParadise's avatar

I love this quote, which I just learned about.

Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

physicicst Steven Weinberg

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@syz You’re right. I don’t think we’re talking about religion anymore.

In your parenthetical sentence, you raise the issue of evil and specifically of evil perpetrated in the name of religion. I have no satisfactory answer for that seemingly eternal quandary.

When the subject of evil is raised in these discussions, it always seems to be a way of questioning God. Why doesn’t God do something about evil?

I don’t know. I just don’t.

gailcalled's avatar

@sy: I am hoping that someone proves me wrong, but so far, it has not happened.

rojo's avatar

Well, I was impressed enough that I passed it on. Is that compelling enough?

rojo's avatar

And yet @gailcalled there are 40 references to dogs.

Coincidence?

I think not.

keobooks's avatar

Is there any truth to this article? I don’t know the source very well.If it is, my thing about doctors refusing service isn’t too far fetched. Here’s another story: about it

rojo's avatar

@keobooks His reasoning for the legislation included … efforts by LGBT activists in other states to end discrimination….. .

Now, do you think if we substituted the word “religious” for “LGBT” he would pursue it with the same vigor? I do not believe so. I think he would be howling his indignation at the persecution from the capitol dome.

Wouldn’t refusing treatment violate the Hippocratic Oath ?

keobooks's avatar

@rojo—It would also violate the Bible. In the story of the Good Samaritan, people tend to focus on the Samaritan who went and helped the poor guy lying in the ditch. But there were also two very religious men in the story, who walked over and refused to help the man. Jesus had a polite way of pointing out that they were sinful rotten hosebags.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@keobooks Your post above is one of the reasons that I think it’s so important to keep talking about how religion affects political beliefs.

I’m in the Midwest and I’m all too familiar with anti-LGBT sentiment and I find it disgusting and completely against biblical teachings from Jesus.

keobooks's avatar

It REALLY scares me about the police being able to refuse to go to someone’s aid. Especially in a part of the country where hate crimes are somewhat common. They want to make it legal for some poor guy to bleed to death in an alley and the guys who did it to get away with No police will come to the calling and the ambulance doesn’t have to come. The judge doesn’t have to convict the guys who did it.

I don’t want to mention the German N——word, but I’m just saying that it’s starting to smell like 1930’s in here.

rojo's avatar

State Mottos

Idaho: Don’t call us.

rojo's avatar

I can see it now…......

Operator: “Idaho 911. What is your emergency”
Caller: “There has been a terrible accident on the highway! Someone just got hit by a car”
Operator: “Is he gay?”
Caller: “Um, I don’t know but he is wearing a multicolored tie-dye shirt.”
Operator: Well, WE can’t take the chance. Please hang up and call someone who cares.”
Caller: “Hello, Hello? Is there anybody there?”

keobooks's avatar

This is even worse. OREGON is joining in too.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

So I guess I’m asking….what other arguments are there?
To make your own self your own god, then however your life turns out, it was because that is what you allowed, ordained, or created for yourself; so don’t complain about what you have and where you are.

As for that article, I would tell him be better start with ”Dick and Jane”, or ”See Spot Run”, the Bible has way to much meat for him to chew to even try to say what is in it and what isn’t or how it works.

keobooks's avatar

What’s weird about Oregon is that they have also legalized gay marriage. So you can get married in the State, but it’s legal for people to spit on you afterwards.

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