Social Question

iamthemob's avatar

Why is bashing religion not the equivalent of prejudice against race, sex, sexual orientation, etc.?

Asked by iamthemob (17123 points ) October 10th, 2010

I’ve noticed a lot in threads like this, this, this and this, that it seems people who claim to have a rational approach to the issues of the world seem to have not problem with making dismissive and even insulting comments about religion – mostly Christianity.

Why is this not gravely offensive? As a gay man, I see the rational points of a religious argument that although homosexuality may exist homosexual acts are a sin against God, if we work from the assumption that God exists (every rational argument is based on certain assumptions about the nature of reality). However, belief in God is compared to the spaghetti monster by “rationalists” who seem to believe they’re justified in making such gross overgeneralizations without stopping to think about how this is the equivalent of saying, from a societal perspective, “all asians are good at math” or “all gay men sleep around.”

What to people think?

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355 Answers

everephebe's avatar

Well religion is not something you are born with.

Seek's avatar

Gay people did not choose to be gay, nor are they on a mission to “convert” the rest of us to their group.

The black/white/Aboriginal/immigrant community are not petitioning to force our children to learn mythology as science in public schools.

Men/women/transgendered/nongendered people don’t knock on our doors at all hours of the day threatening us with hellfire for not following a poorly edited book that’s between 1000 and 2000 years old.

downtide's avatar

I agree with the above. religion is something you can choose. Race, gender or sexuality are not.

I do not get people of other races trying to convert me to their race. Homosexuals do not try to convert straight people to be gay (even though many straight people are terrified that they do).

poisonedantidote's avatar

I never had a black man come to my door to convince me to be black.

your race is something you dont have a say in, religion is an idea and therfore open to criticism. there is no reason why it should be exempt from cirticism any more than any other idea.

Coloma's avatar

Live and let live.

As long as anothers beliefs are not infringing on my rights, do your own thing, who cares?

roundsquare's avatar

@Coloma I care because I want to know the truth. Is there a god or isn’t there? Belief is something we can look into and be critical of. So, if people want to talk about religion on the, say, internet, I will (often) get involved. After all, its not like I’m forcing them to talk about it.

Coloma's avatar

@roundsquare

Of course.

I am interested in all spiritual experience as well, but, I am not interested in egoic debate.

Truly open minded people will reveal that quickly.

Ivan's avatar

Religion is a collection of ideas and beliefs regarding the universe. These ideas and beliefs are either correct or incorrect. They should be scrutinized and criticized just as much as ideas regarding politics, etc.

mammal's avatar

allow St Christopher to explain.

iamthemob's avatar

@Ivan

This isn’t about criticism, though. It’s about, essentially, mocking the beliefs. It happens all the time, if you look through the threads. There’s a difference – one entitles respect in the end for what a person chooses, and disagreeing with it. The other entitles claiming a superiority over them, and assuming things about them from one set of behaviors.

iamthemob's avatar

I agree with the above. religion is something you can choose. Race, gender or sexuality are not.

It’s arguable, though, that faith isn’t something that you can choose – it chooses you. Also, as I mentioned, while attraction may not be chosen, behavior certainly is. You can be gay without ever having a sexual relationship with a person of the same sex. While I don’t believe this is the right option, personally, it may be for some people – and doesn’t entail, by necessity, a conversion to heterosexuality when it’s not natural.

HungryGuy's avatar

There’s a difference between religion and race/sex/origin/orientation.

Religious people seems to be (1) always trying to convert people to their religion, (2) accusing people of being evil for being the wrong religion (or not having a religion at all), and (3) trying to impose their rules on EVERYBODY.

While there’s some of that in regards to sexual orientation (I’ve been accused, right here on Fluther, of being ignorant and hateful by a member of the gay community for no other reason than because I said I wouldn’t have gay sex, even though I believe in equal rights, gay marriage, etc ), but it’s only a few militant gay nutcases who are like that. By far, most gay men and women I know are tolerant and reasonable.

As for race and sex and national origin. I’ve never, ever seen anyone prosthelytize and try to convert someone else to change their race, sex, or national origin.

iamthemob's avatar

Gay people did not choose to be gay, nor are they on a mission to “convert” the rest of us to their group. The black/white/Aboriginal/immigrant community are not petitioning to force our children to learn mythology as science in public schools. Men/women/transgendered/nongendered people don’t knock on our doors at all hours of the day threatening us with hellfire for not following a poorly edited book that’s between 1000 and 2000 years old.

@Seek_Kolinahr – that’s exactly what I’m talking about though. That’s the essence of prejudice, isn’t it? Assuming something about an entire group of people because of your experience with a limited…even majority…section of them?

Stereotypes always have some basis in fact or data. But that doesn’t make them facts. You’re talking about individual people, but expanding it to make dismissive comments about something that’s sacred to a lot of good, productive people.

crisw's avatar

“if we work from the assumption that God exists”

Nope. That’s a huge assumption to make.

We can work with the assumption that gays, blacks and women exist.

Religion, however, is a belief, not a state of being. And, in a free society, any belief is open to critical examination.

mattbrowne's avatar

Bashing intolerant forms of religions is not the equivalent of prejudice against race etc, although I think bashing doesn’t actually accomplish much. Users delete their Fluther accounts and remain stuck in their intolerant circles.

Bashing tolerant forms of religion does happen as well, but usually atheists are reasonable enough to engage in a serious dialog admitting that perpetuating generalizations about anything is unfair and even got the potential to create an atmosphere of distrust and hostility.

downtide's avatar

@HungryGuyReligious people seems to be (1) always trying to convert people to their religion, (2) accusing people of being evil for being the wrong religion (or not having a religion at all), and (3) trying to impose their rules on EVERYBODY.
This is true of most people’s experience of religion but to be fair, the only religions that actually do this are Christianity (and the various sects thereof) and Islam. You never see Sikhs or Jains or Buddhists acting that way.

If I bash anything I bash the behaviour as described above; not the religion itself. In exactly the same way that Christians describe homosexuality – love the sinner, hate the sin etc.

HungryGuy's avatar

@downtide – That’s true. I’ve never seen Sikhs or Jains or Buddhists proselytize. But I’ve never been in a place where they’re the predominant religion either. I spent a couple of weeks in India once, but that’s it as far as exotic cultures go.

mammal's avatar

seems to me where Capitalism is concentrated to the point of toxicity, we seem to find that other noxious ingredient, Christian fundaMENTALism, all in all a particularly potent concoction.

BarnacleBill's avatar

You don’t choose your gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation. You do choose your religion, and within that religion, you do choose if you drink the Kool-aid as served, or think for yourself.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

prej·u·dice

noun

1. an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.
2. any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.
3. unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, esp. of a hostile nature, regarding a racial, religious, or national group.
4. such attitudes considered collectively: The war against prejudice is never-ending.
5. damage or injury; detriment: a law that operated to the prejudice of the majority.

from dictionary.com

Seek's avatar

@iamthemob

@tragiclikebowie got to it before me. I was going to post the definition of prejudice for you.

To take definition 1, I have knowledge, thought, and reason.

I know the basis and tenets of the religion. I think they are irrational and, in some cases, insane. I thus reason that the religion is harmful to society.

You’re talking about individual people

No, I am not. I am talking about religion, which is a concept based on irrationality, prejudice, and control, which happens to be followed by many people.

absalom's avatar

Why shouldn’t we be critical of religious beliefs that are irrational or extremist or backward or fallacious?

As a gay man, I see the rational points of a religious argument that although homosexuality may exist homosexual acts are a sin against God, if we work from the assumption that God exists…

This seems like an eager attempt to be tolerant of a religion that does not tolerate you. Why? What’s the point in pretending that it’s okay to claim homosexuality is sinful and will send you to hell? That is a ridiculous belief and nobody should respect it.

We bash religion because it merits bashing. Ask yourself what there is to criticize about the color of a person’s skin – there’s nothing. And then ask yourself what aspects of religion can (and should) be criticized – there are plenty.

Trillian's avatar

I see a lot of bashing of Christianity, Islam not so much.

Coloma's avatar

All religion is a man made construct.

‘Spirituality’ is available to everyone, religion is nothing more than a perception, interpretation of wisdom reconstituted to fit a particular group mentality.

Don’t reject the messenger, reject the convoluted message.

Loried2008's avatar

@absalom I’m a Christian and I don’t believe homosexuals will go to hell. (and everyone gasps) Why does no one ever think that there are people who don’t agree with EVERY aspect of their religion?

@Seek_Kolinahr In some cases you can only be talking about individual people because as I stated above it is possible for people to disagree with some aspects of their religion.

>>>
I don’t understand how I can be so tolerant of other people’s religion and others still treat me with prejudice. A lot of people have the preconceived notion that someone “like me” is closed minded. I am my own person and I have a relationship with God. I don’t go by what man tells me, I go by what my heart tells me, but if someone asks me what my religion is they have a picture already painted and sometimes it is unfavorable. That is prejudice they have no true knowledge of who I am, where I’ve been, or what I agree with.

Paxan8's avatar

@Trillian are you serious? Most of America associate the Islam religion with terrorism and the Middle East. You don’t see any bashing of that? Read a newspaper. I too am guilty of prejudice against Islamics when I first meet them my initial reaction is OMG are they a terrorist do they hate America? It takes a few seconds for my rational brain to kick in and say…calm down Islam does not teach hate there are only a few left wing crazies that believe that, but still….I can’t help my initial reaction.

The reason there is much more criticism of Christianity is because Christians have so much pull in the American government and force laws to cater to their beliefs. The most egregious being Intelligent Design that actually sends our poor children out into the world thinking humans and dinosaurs lived together and the first man was created out of dirt from some magic man in the sky. I mean really how does any sane person believe that?

@Seek_Kolinahr by far summed it up best. Religion is a choice and not a fact.

downtide's avatar

@Trillian Islam-bashing happens much more on right-wing forums than it does on Fluther.

Seek's avatar

@Loried2008

If they are promoting a religion, they promote the tenets of that religion by association. They’re carrying the flag of “Christianity”, then they accept the implications of what that flag represents. You don’t join a religious group because you want to be a special snowflake about your spiritual life.

You can’t support the KKK and then validate it by saying “Well, I don’t hate _____ people, I’m just a member”. Yes, that might be construed as an extreme example (meh.) but the idea is the same.

Claiming you believe in Biblegod, just not those icky bits doesn’t help your cause.

DominicX's avatar

@absalom highlights the reasons for me, although I don’t know if “bashing” and “criticizing” are the same thing. Some people view all criticism as bashing. I personally never bash religion. I don’t call all Christians “idiots” or anything like that, I don’t insult them. But I do heavily criticize the religion because it warrants criticism and I have issues with many of the beliefs of Christianity. Just because it’s a belief system and it’s personal to people, does not mean it’s immune from criticism. Again, I suppose I see a difference between bashing and criticism and not everyone does.

And as all the others have said, religion is something you can choose, the others are not. They will never be the same.

Trillian's avatar

@downtide Thank you for having the intelligence to understand the context of my remarks, which I was confining to this site in particular since that was what the OP asked. I will never understand why people want to get into these side arguments with others who are just answering the OP.
I should thank the other prerson for illustrating my point so well, and had I known, I would also have made some observation about the assumptions that people make.
I will state that for many people, religion is not a choice. If you are born into a particular religion, it permeates ALL aspects of your life and breaking away from that is extremely difficult. So, not always an option, people.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Religion is a choice. (Which was said in multiple posts above.)

Personally, my problem is not with people in most cases, but the theology itself. I have a great deal of respect for Christians that live a good, productive life. That doesn’t change the fact that I think that the teachings of the Bible are archaic and a little bit insane. I can’t say that I speak for everyone on my side of the fence, but I’m rarely judging people – I’m usually judging a belief system that I think has the potential to be dangerous. That belief system directly affects my day to day life in many ways. As also stated above, homosexuals (and other groups commonly discriminated against) are not knocking at my door trying to convert me, nor are they trying to teach myth over science to my children.

On the flip side, there are plenty of spiritual/religious people that find it disturbing, disgusting, abominable, (pick your nasty adjective) that I don’t believe in god. That there must be something wrong with me to believe such a thing. Maybe not quite so much on Fluther, but out here in the real world it can be a very bad idea to admit that you are an atheist. I never hear people reluctant to admit their faith in god. However, as nonbelievers we are less likely to be voted president than any other minority, we can’t join the Boy Scouts, many family courts consider religion to be a necessary ingredient to raising a healthy child, so atheists are less likely to be granted custody, many of us have to keep our beliefs hidden in day to day life because it is so offensive to the people around us. Sounds to me that if anyone should be worried about prejudice, it is those of us on the other side.

absalom's avatar

@Loried2008

I am not criticizing Christians (i.e., you). I am criticizing Christianity (i.e., the religion to which you yourself only partially adhere).

If you do not agree with an aspect of the basis of your own religion, why do you leap to its (the religion’s) defense?

Why do you continue to identify with that religion?

Shall I anyway congratulate you for being so progressive?

The condemnation of homosexuality is only a single example of what is ridiculous in Christianity (and most other religions).

Christianity is only a single example of what is ridiculous in religion.

Loried2008's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr The KKK wouldn’t exactly be a good example for me, not because it’s extreme as much as it doesn’t reflect my situation. The KKK is centered around the hate of a race where as Christianity is the belief in God and his son, not the rules in the bible. I understand people will view me by association to my religion. The whole point is that I think it’s wrong, because I do not agree with everything that the vast majority of my religion agrees with. Who said anything about “icky bits”? I don’t agree with several things in the bible mainly involving the Old Testament. I don’t believe we should take everything so literal, but that’s getting off subject.

I agree with @Trillian I was born into Christianity and to me it is not an option to change my religion, but I have however done away with things I find in my religion that can promote hate towards others among many other things. I don’t go pushing myself on people who do not believe that God exists. If someone asks I’ll be glad to share and even convert them if they want.

@absalom I answered a lot of your questions above but I will repeat them in order here below as well.

-I understand that it is my religion you criticize, my point is that my religion consists of a body of people who vary and have many different opinions on many things including their religion. So people will judge me based on only what they know of my religion. Christianity is the belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God, not that homosexuals will go to hell etc..

-Why do I jump to my religion’s defense? Because it is my religion! lol I believe Jesus Christ is the son of God and that he died so that my sins would be forgiven. That is what Christianity is.

-I identify myself as a child of God, but if someone is going to ask me what my religion is the easiest thing to say is “I’m a Christian” because again, I am. Would you see it fit to say “I believe in God and his son, but I don’t agree with…. (long list of things)” Who wants to listen to that? The only reason I’m rambling on here is because it’s Fluther :) and it’s also good stress relief lol.

-Thank you very much. The theory that homosexuals will go to hell is ridiculous, but the belief in God, I feel, is not.

(Sorry everyone if I repeated myself I’m in a hurry)

Seek's avatar

@Loried2008 And where do you get the prescription for your religion, if not the Bible? Why do you feel it is acceptable to believe only the parts of the Bible you agree with, and not the rest? Do you understand why an outsider would find that confusing and/or hypocritical?

Katexyz's avatar

Religion is a position, and all positions deserve to be criticized. Everything else you list there is a matter of identity, rather than a position. To ridicule a position is just that, but to ridicule an identity, is to ridicule a person, which is unacceptable.

syz's avatar

Religion is a choice. It may be a heavily promoted and difficult to overcome choice, but it is a choice. If you are born Christian and raised Christian and inundated with Christianity, you can still ask questions, seek answers, and potentially change your mind. You cannot wake up one day and decide “I’m no longer going to be black, I don’t believe in it anymore”.

@Trillian Your comment I will state that for many people, religion is not a choice exemplifies my own distaste for organized religion – it seems to require blind faith, unwavering support and a complete suppression of logical thought. I will never base my life decisions on something that requires that I not think for myself, something that cannot tolerate the exposure of questions.

Loried2008's avatar

I don’t want to continue to discuss this here, because I feel like I’m taking over this thread I will say this and then I’m done lol.

@Seek_Kolinahr Here’s the best way I know to put this.. Not all Christian’s live by the bible. Is it viewed as right by my religion? No. But the whole purpose in being a Christian is that you are forgiven of your sins because Jesus died for them to be covered.

Maybe this website will help explain my point of view better.
http://christianteens.about.com/od/whatthebiblesaysabout/a/wbsaHomosexual.htm
(I don’t know how to make one of those super cool “here” links. Lol

As you will see the meaning of the scriptures are debated, especially among Christians. But for the most part people keep it sweet and simple with “It’s a sin and if you ask Christ into your life it’s forgiven” while others, like myself believe there is something left out in translation or that it simply means something else.

I do not find my acceptance of homosexuality to be hypocritical as I have stated I do not believe they will go to hell. It’s all a matter of how you look at it. Yes I get my belief in God from the bible, that doesn’t mean I have to take everything that is said word for word or even apply it to my life.

If you’d like to ask me further questions or have a response I will gladly answer you but please send me a comment or message :) I don’t wanna annoy anyone. Thanks.

Seek's avatar

Not all Christian’s live by the bible
But the whole purpose in being a Christian is that you are forgiven of your sins because Jesus died for them to be covered.
the meaning of the scriptures are debated, especially among Christians
Yes I get my belief in God from the bible, that doesn’t mean I have to take everything that is said word for word or even apply it to my life.

So, everything that’s in the Bible is debatable and unimportant, except for the “God is real, Jesus is his son, and he died for our sins”. Makes perfect sense.~

thekoukoureport's avatar

Why bash christians.

a The distruction of all ancient knowledge that was not DIRECTLY attributed to GOD which destroyed the great library at Alexandria, the Mayan Empire, and plunged society into the Dark Ages.

b. Makes the female (half of our species) Evil and responsible for original sin. Which to this day has caused women to be treated as a lesser beings.

c. Destroyed the ancient cultures of south America and all the knowledge that was not directly attributed to god.

d. Stayed nuetral against hitler and nazi germany.

e. Invented the Virgin birth at the first council of Nicea in 1100 (something like that)

I wont go on cause it’s Sunday and I like to keep holy the sabbath LOL

TAX ALL RELIGIONS and let the IRS sort them out

iamthemob's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie

I never hear people reluctant to admit their faith in god. However, as nonbelievers we are less likely to be voted president than any other minority, we can’t join the Boy Scouts, many family courts consider religion to be a necessary ingredient to raising a healthy child, so atheists are less likely to be granted custody, many of us have to keep our beliefs hidden in day to day life because it is so offensive to the people around us. Sounds to me that if anyone should be worried about prejudice, it is those of us on the other side.

The problem here, of course, is that you wouldn’t hear that – because people who might be reasonable might not want to bring it up for fear of having to face the kind of ridicule that I’m talking about.

The point of whether or not it’s a choice is misplaced. For many years being gay was considered a choice, and therefore it was not protected. Religious beliefs were always (technically) protected under the Constitution. Religious persecution has been extremely common (consider the holocaust, which was not clearly persecution by a religion, but a state).

If we look at in terms of persecution, from the Refugee Treaty context, religion has been considered on the same level as persecution in a particular social group, which is something innate, which has been interpreted by the Ninth Circuit to include homosexuality as innate because it is something that a person should not be required to change, and is central to their identity.

The same thing can be said for political beliefs. The aspects of the belief could be criticized, but they should be done in a manner that is respectful. Otherwise, they seem radical and hateful at times.

And regardless of how you feel about receiving of prejudice, should you therefore be able to justify your prejudice? No, it’s all the same. All of those arguments seem to add up to “Two wrongs do make a right.”

Trillian's avatar

”...something that cannot tolerate the exposure of questions.” Questioning and bashing are two very different things.
\Who said anything about not being able to be questioned?
My comment was intended to address tha fact that many religions are incorporated into all aspects of the daily life of the aherents, and that leacing that religion is not always a vialble option.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

Was that last comment meant to be sarcastic? I.e., are you saying that it doesn’t make sense?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I don’t typically “bash” religion or religious people (at all). But I don’t believe in it, and I don’t mind letting that fact slip from time to time. If I’m ever in a discussion about religion, then I let fly. I still try to be polite towards people with other opinions, but opinions on this topic are pretty much equally valid: “there is a God and we speak daily”; “there is no God and never was”; God Was Here, But He Left Early—a good book, by the way (Irwin Shaw?)—and The Flying Spaghetti Monster, invented as a counterfoil to Christian arguments in Kansas years ago as a basis for doing education “their way”. Yes, it’s a spoof, but if you keep building up the story, the characters, the timeline and the rest of the mythology, then how does it differ?

This, to me, is what religion is: a collection of stories to explain the things we probably won’t ever find out through scientific or other investigation. So as long as they don’t hurt anyone—and I don’t have any issue bashing the hell out of religions that do hurt others, such as stoning girls who flirt with men, female genital mutilation and any of hundreds of other forms of barbarism, or starts deadly riots and fatwahs over comics and books they don’t like—then one religion is pretty much the same as another.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@iamthemob I don’t have to hear that, because I hear the opposite on a daily basis. People are not only comfortable expressing their belief in god, but most of them wear it proudly.
My issues are with the belief system itself, not the people following it. I don’t even consider “bashing” to be acceptable.. criticism is a different story.
Would you be so quick to jump to the defense of Satan worshipers? I’m not a fan of hate in any context… I don’t hate Christians. Nothing could be further from the truth. But if you’re talking about a group that is repressed or faces regular prejudice, I struggle to see where Christians come out at the top of that list. We’ve all been taught that it isn’t polite to discuss religion or politics, but I’m pretty comfortable in saying that people will be faster to admit to belief in god than the opposite. I’ve met more people than I can count in my lifetime that don’t hesitate to tell me how “wrong” I am, but I’m not going around telling every believer that I meet that their god is about as easy for me to believe in as the tooth fairy.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but that is my own personal experience. However, I wouldn’t be even the slightest bit surprised to hear similar stories from other nonbelievers.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

I don’t agree with bashing religion, but out of the subjects in your question, religion, sex, sexual orientation and race, religion is the only one you have choice on. I also think that when you point out the contradictions in the christian bible it is taken as an insult.

Seek's avatar

@iamthemob The tilde – ” ~ ” at the end of a statement is inserted to convey sarcasm.

iamthemob's avatar

@Russell_D_SpacePoet

If you don’t agree with bashing religion, though, doesn’t that conflict with the below statement?:

Because Gawd is an imaginary being just as Santa, the easter bunny, etc. There is about the same amount of proof for them all. They are also alike in the fact that they are all constructs of man..

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@iamthemob I wouldn’t call that statement bashing or hateful. Although it isn’t “fact”, if that is @Russell_D_SpacePoet‘s belief that all of the above are constructs of man, then why shouldn’t s/he say so? Just because it may offend believers? Would you say that “Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light” is also bashing nonbelievers?

Loried2008's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie I don’t think Christians are at the top of the list for facing prejudice either actually. Doesn’t mean we don’t face it. No one should ever be afraid to state what they believe in or don’t believe in. If you don’t believe in God you shouldn’t hesitate to say so. For the record I never take the stance of “You’re wrong, I’m right” I simply understand that we disagree. And yes there have been countless times I’ve been hesitant to say that I am a Christian because in many situations people will jump on me purely for the fact I am a Christian, not taking the time to see that I am not pushing myself on them merely stating my belief. How would you have known that had I not told you? I choose to take a passive path when it comes to my religion the majority of the time and for people like me that means when you do state how you feel you get “bashed” a lot.

ratboy's avatar

@Trillian, Penn Jillette explains the paucity of Islam bashing.

ratboy's avatar

For the same reason that eradicating smallpox is not the same thing as cruelty to animals.

Seek's avatar

No one should ever be afraid to state what they believe in or don’t believe in

I’m sorry, but it is a very real aspect of atheist life to worry about losing a job, or being kicked out of your home, or alienating friends, or causing a serious rift in the family by coming out of the atheist closet.

There are children and teenagers whose parents will physically beat them for insinuating that God doesn’t exist (and they will give you scripture telling you it’s okay for them to do it). According to some polls, nearly 47— 50% of Americans would be upset if their son or daughter wanted to marry an atheist.

That is why people are afraid to admit their non-belief.

Loried2008's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I didn’t say that Atheist’s don’t deal with people being prejudice. I even agreed with her statement that Christians are not at the top of the list. I can see with some of your examples why they’d be afraid to admit their non-belief and I think it’s wrong they should have to go through that hence me saying No one should ever be afraid to state what they believe in or don’t believe in. Maybe you misunderstood, I’m trying to say I think it’s wrong that she feels she can’t say so. I should have said, No one should have to feel afraid to state their beliefs.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Loried2008 I don’t disagree that no one should be afraid. I’m just saying that the tone of this entire discussion is that somehow Christians are suffering from the prejudice against them… and it is insinuated that it is at the hands of nonbelievers, and I think that’s just grasping at straws. Maybe I’m misreading, but that is definitely what I’m picking up here, and it’s bullshit. @Seek_Kolinahr is absolutely right, there are countless situations where admitting non-belief can be detrimental in very, very real ways. That is a completely different story than someone comparing god and the giant spaghetti monster, or whatever.

thekoukoureport's avatar

Almost like admiting your a democrat can be detrimental. So maybe we can set up a prejudice for that.

Coloma's avatar

THAT is the whole enchilada right there @thekoukoureport !!!

It’s all about the over identification with a concept, a political stance, a belief, a self image,
built from that identification, as a way to separate people from seeing the person behind the belief.

It is sick, it is ego, it is programming and it is the epitomy of the strife of the human condition.

Mikewlf337's avatar

Religion may not be something you are born with and something you choose but there are people who find it to be a very important part of their lives. If a relgious person isn’t shoving his/her beliefs down peoples throats then it is very wrong to bash the person and if you do then you are just a douchebag.

thekoukoureport's avatar

Can I get some guacamole on the side please?

You believe Despite all evidence to the contrary that I should be respectful of one of the most vile things ever put on this earth. The destruction of our civiliztion in the name of GAWED is the same as the destruction happening right now with explosive vests. But I should respect a tax exempt organization that has done nothing but destroy anything that they can’t control. Shall I continue to list more history?

Some of the most condesending judgemental people I have ever met all had the same thing in common….. Guesses anyone?

So ego…. judge not lest ye be judged, do onto others as they would have done onto you. Words that if actually practiced by it’s believers would make this world paradise. Or was Torquemada’s way “the epitomy of strife of the human condition” Couldn’t find his actions in any of Jesus’s teachings….. Thats what being christian is right? Practicing the teaching of Jesus. How many of your cathedrals, stadiums, stages do you think he would visit if he were here today?

Now religion should be afforded special protections? really? No more aboriginals left?

Programming? How could my views be Programming? These thoughts come to me because I read history. Maybe thats not your history but its more than just two books (old and new testament). Oh and I am not being sarcastic!

Why don’t all peoples put the labels away and start just being earthlings. maybe then we can walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

fundevogel's avatar

“Why is bashing religion not the equivalent of prejudice against race, sex, sexual orientation, etc.?”

well lets see.

It it rediculous to be black? No, it’s just one of many possible skin colors.

Is it stupid to be a woman? Well no, being a woman can be great. Anyways we don’t really have a say in the matter.

Is it reasonable for a man to love a man? It’s the most reasonable thing in the world if that’s who he loves.

Does it make sense to think one or more invisible supernatural entities control the whole world, read minds, and love the smell of burnt animals?

Coloma's avatar

@thekoukoureport

I think you have waaay over identified with my words on a personel level.

I was not talking of YOU specifically.

I was talking in generalizations to sum up a truth.

I was parroting the very last sentence of your response above.

iamthemob's avatar

I don’t disagree that no one should be afraid. I’m just saying that the tone of this entire discussion is that somehow Christians are suffering from the prejudice against them… and it is insinuated that it is at the hands of nonbelievers, and I think that’s just grasping at straws.

I think, @TheOnlyNeffie, you’re confusing the sort of -ism’s associated with other categories (e.g., racism) with statements that reveal prejudices.

I wasn’t insinuating that the bashing was at the hands of non-believers. In fact, it can come from people who are distinctly believers, but not affiliated with the religion. It’s those that claim they approach a situation rationally and then make demeaning “flying spaghetti monster” statements and think it’s not damaging.

I haven’t been at all religious in any point during my life. However, reading some of the things that I saw and continue to see on these threads, I’ve begun to sympathize with Christians specifically, and the religious in general. Having had to hide who I am in certain circles, and having to be concerned if my family would reject me, or my friends, wondering if I would keep a job (even if I was pretty sure I was safe)...I’ve seen hate and prejudice and I’ve had it directed both at people like me and at me personally. In either case, it’s still harmful, and it’s what I’ve seen over and over again here.

iamthemob's avatar

@thekoukoureport

I believe that you should exhibit the respect that you desire be shown you. Ironically, the golden rule. ;-)

You believe Despite all evidence to the contrary that I should be respectful of one of the most vile things ever put on this earth.

“vile things ever put on this earth”? That’s the kind of attitude you want thrown back at you?

iamthemob's avatar

@fundevogel

Does it make sense to think one or more invisible supernatural entities control the whole world, read minds, and love the smell of burnt animals?

Does that make it okay for you to bash someone because that’s what they believe?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Maybe it’s time to define what is meant by “bash”. I attack ideas with vigor when I oppose them and find logical flaws or factual errors in them. Is it “bashing” a person to make the statement of equality of ideas that @fundevogel does? I hardly think so.

What do you consider “bashing”, @iamthemob? And where do you differentiate between bashing “a person” and “an idea”? Or is it the same thing?

fundevogel's avatar

@iamthemob
“I believe that you should exhibit the respect that you desire be shown you. Ironically, the golden rule. ;-)”

Respect is something that must be earned. We give tend to give people a trial period to smooth things along but there is no reason to expect me to respect an ideological system I find fallacious and immoral. These are not attributes I think deserve respect. Demanding that I owe respect to a system where I find these negative traits is no different than asserting that respect itself is mandatory, regardless of merit.

“Does that make it okay for you to bash someone because that’s what they believe?”

Well that depends on what they believe doesn’t it? Would it be ok to bash Hitler just because he believed in the final solution? Beliefs matter. Beliefs say more about a person than skin color, sex, or sexual orientation. If someone holds a belief that doesn’t merit respect I won’t give that belief respect. And if it is particularly repugnant belief I might bash the person that holds it as well.

Don’t confuse my lack of respect for an ideology you hold for a lack of respect for you. If I couldn’t respect anyone that I ever had an ideological disagreement with I’d be in trouble. It’s the people that embrace ignorance or bigotry that I don’t have respect for. Garden variety ignorance or naivete isn’t a crime.

iamthemob's avatar

@CyanoticWasp

That’s a really good question…but I think that it’s actually clear. I would figure you could see a lot of bashing if you read through the thread, and imagined yourself as a Christian who never judged another.

And where do you differentiate between bashing “a person” and “an idea”? Or is it the same thing?

The problem is if you’re bashing a sacredly held belief, what IS the difference? Again, you can have differing opinions, but approach the discussion in a relevant manner.

@fundevogel

Beliefs say more about a person than skin color, sex, or sexual orientation.

Ironically, this is exactly the issue. You just argued that it makes more sense to be prejudiced against someone who believes in a god than in someone because of their race or sexuality. And then in the next breath you state the above – that beliefs are MORE important than that. So when you assume x beliefs because of a person’s statement that they believe in y system…well, that’s what atheists are constantly arguing about. Making the dismissive remarks doesn’t allow a respectful conversation to begin…it’s utterly irational.

And again, when the ideology is so central to a person, it IS a lack of respect for the person. How can you reasonably argue that? It’s saying “You shouldn’t have your feelings hurt because I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.” That argument allows one to approach the argument with disregard and disrespect.

fundevogel's avatar

@iamthemob “You just argued that it makes more sense to be prejudiced against someone who believes in a god than in someone because of their race or sexuality.”

I didn’t say anything about predjudice. I’ve been talking about assessing merit and giving or withholding respect based on merit.

To quote Bill Maher: “I’m not pre-judging, I’m judging.” I have opinion on religion based on what I know about religion. If judging an ideology based on the merit of its claims makes me an bigot I don’t know what to say. That’s ridiculous. Demanding respect for something independently of it’s merit, nay, in place of investigation of it’s merit is nothing less than tyranny of thought.

I might lose some respect for you if you can’t fathom the possibility that my refusal to kowtow to religion doesn’t make me prejudiced. Any loss of respect would be a consequence of your insistence religion is entitled to respect, not of me automatically disrespecting you because you are a theist.

Question: “And where do you differentiate between bashing “a person” and “an idea”? Or is it the same thing?”—@CyanoticWasp

Answer: “The problem is if you’re bashing a sacredly held belief, what IS the difference? Again, you can have differing opinions, but approach the discussion in a relevant manner.”—@iamthemob

If you can’t differentiate between being critical of an idea and being critical of its holder and don’t approve of either you have effectively condemned all critical discourse. If it is impossible to find one position better than another without hurting someones feelings, and no ones’ feelings should ever be hurt, than no idea may ever be challenged.

I on the other hand don’t think any idea is beyond challenging, regardless of if it might make other people uncomfortable.

iamthemob's avatar

@fundevogel

You said: “Why is bashing religion not the equivalent of prejudice against race, sex, sexual orientation, etc.?” ... well lets see. ... It it rediculous to be black? No, it’s just one of many possible skin colors. ... Is it stupid to be a woman? Well no, being a woman can be great. Anyways we don’t really have a say in the matter. ... Is it reasonable for a man to love a man? It’s the most reasonable thing in the world if that’s who he loves. ... Does it make sense to think one or more invisible supernatural entities control the whole world, read minds, and love the smell of burnt animals?

But then: I didn’t say anything about predjudice. I’ve been talking about assessing merit and giving or withholding respect based on merit.

You do see yourself how you’re reducing my statement to a minimum, and making a generalized statement about the entire ideology as it applies to its followers, don’t you? This is the essence of prejudice – reducing an ideology to a statement. If you don’t believe that you can reduce it in such a manner, you’re treating the situation as if it’s okay to make fun and reduce religion…but what if that were done with any of the previous categories? Religion is a very personal thing…do you disagree?

As quoted earlier.

prej·u·dice

noun

1. an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.

You said, again: Does it make sense to think one or more invisible supernatural entities control the whole world, read minds, and love the smell of burnt animals?

How is this an opinion arrived at with reason, when it is an absurd reduction?

2. any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.

See the above – if you express it in that way, a person reading it can easily believe that’s your opinion about the religious – since that’s who it’s aimed at. “Does it make sense to believe” isn’t about religion – it’s about people who believe, and it’s calling them stupid.

3. unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, esp. of a hostile nature, regarding a racial, religious, or national group.

You said: I have opinion on religion based on what I know about religion. That, in conjunction with the above, seems pretty close.

4. such attitudes considered collectively: The war against prejudice is never-ending.

Prejudices can’t be ranked. They shouldn’t be. Any negative statements of this manner are not productive – and it’s not conversation.

5. damage or injury; detriment: a law that operated to the prejudice of the majority.

This is pretty much content neutral.

I might lose some respect for you if you can’t fathom the possibility that my refusal to kowtow to religion doesn’t make me prejudiced. Any loss of respect would be a consequence of your insistence religion is entitled to respect, not of me automatically disrespecting you because you are a theist.

That’s not the issue. I don’t want to make it seem like I think people are wholly prejudiced for making these statements…however, it’s evidence of a prejudice. It also seems like people think it’s fine to make fun of religious people in a way that would be utterly offensive with any other group. Is that okay?

So it’s not about a deeply held prejudice – it’s about an expression that breathes nothing but prejudice regardless of the held beliefs of the speaker. When you reduce religion to a line, and frame it as a rhetorical question, how is someone to respond? How are they not automatically meant to feel stupid? Approaches like that effectively condemn all critical discourse as well…but it also ignores that the discourse isn’t just about “what do you believe” but “what are you going to do with what you believe”?

It’s not about having respect for an underlying belief – you don’t have to kowtow. But if you don’t want to offend them, and actually have a rational discussion – don’t be offensive. Thinking that the issue can only be approached based on whether there is merit to the beliefs rather than including the feelings that they inspire and the possibility of good work, you’re limiting the discussion, and silencing people who might offer productive insight. So don’t have respect for the belief in a virgin birth, etc., whatever. But if you let that be the end of your ability to respect the faith as a whole…you haven’t done the complete analysis.

Finally…threatening me with a loss of respect, as implied, is based on an impression that I’m demanding respect rather than demanding people be respectful. I thought “disagreeing without being disagreeable” was one of the tenets of this very site.

Trillian's avatar

What if we have Chritianity wrong?

fundevogel's avatar

Part 1:

@iamthemob “You do see yourself how you’re reducing my statement to a minimum, and making a generalized statement about the entire ideology as it applies to its followers, don’t you?”

I’m going to try and keep this simple. You’re objection is that I over grossly over-simplified religion when I asked this:

“Is it ridiculous to think one or more invisible supernatural entities control the whole world, read minds, and love the smell of burnt animals?’

You claim that saying such a thing makes me prejudiced.

“This is the essence of prejudice – reducing an ideology to a statement.

And that the statement exposes my ignorance of religion.

”How is this an opinion arrived at with reason, when it is an absurd reduction?”

And now I shall reaspond!

I disagree that I made religion look ridiculous. Yes I reduced religion to a few simple elements, but that is not the same as Reductio ad absurdum. I’m not actually making a claim at all. I simply repeat, in casual terms, characteristics commonly applied to gods. It’s true that these aren’t descriptive of every god, but they are descriptive of the most popular ones. So how is it that repeating religious claims, in casual terms, is prejudiced? Did I mis-characterize god? Is he not invisible? Does he not read minds? Does he not control the whole world? Is he not pleased by the smell of burnt animals? If those claims are consistent with the god in question the fact that they sound ridiculous has nothing to do with me.

And contrary to your assertion the statement was not prejudiced, even according to all of the definitions you provided. There’re pretty much the same so I’ll just use one:

prej·u·dice – 1. an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.

It’s true that I have an unfavorable opinion of religion. But my statements and opinions do not meet the second criteria of being formed without knowledge thought or reason. I was raised Christian. I went to church for fourteen years. I put years of thought into religion before I realized I was an atheist. I still read the Bible and other books on Christianity and other religions. I’m currently reading A Short History of Christian Theophagy and Jesus, Interrupted. I am filthy with knowledge of religion in general and Christianity in particular. I’m not an atheist because I don’t understand religion, I’m an atheist because I know too much about it. Yes, I toot my own horn when I am accused of ignorance.

So you see, you were wrong to call me and my views prejudiced.

fundevogel's avatar

Part 2:

@iamthemob ”It also seems like people think it’s fine to make fun of religious people in a way that would be utterly offensive with any other group. Is that okay?”

You’re mis-characterizing my criticism. I make fun of plenty of other folk who think silly things. Racists, new agers, anti-vaccers. There is a big difference between criticizing a person for an idea and criticizing them for being gay. Ideas can be demonstrated to be good or bad, “Hispanic”, “gay” and “female“are neutral attributes. They can’t be demonstrated to be right or wrong any more than “plaid” or “hairy”. Any judgment about the value of being “gay”, “plaid” of “hairy” is subjective. Ideas are so lucky.

“Finally…threatening me with a loss of respect, as implied, is based on an impression that I’m demanding respect rather than demanding people be respectful. I thought “disagreeing without being disagreeable” was one of the tenets of this very site.”

So is discussion. It is my experience that “bashing religion” is code for saying “anything that challenges religion”. When you insist that I shouldn’t say things like that you aren’t protecting religion or civilized discourse, you’re sacrificing my voice in the name of it. If you are a person that would have my mouth shut when you don’t like what comes out, I can’t respect that.

I don’t know if the things me and my ilk have to say upset you. Do you know what upsets me?

My grandmother has very personal relationship with god. She told me a story of a pregnant woman asking that a cross be removed from her hospital room so her baby wouldn’t see it. My grandmother very gleefully reported that the baby was born blind. I don’t care how personal a belief is. If there’s something wrong with it I’m not going to respect it. She has another story she loves about God crushing a man’s legs with a train because he danced in church. Her very personal religion is revolting and the fact that she cherishes it changes nothing. It certainly doesn’t deserve my respect. Shit on her personal religion.

There are plenty of good theists and there are plenty of bad ones. Whether or not you are a good one or bad one has nothing to do with if your beliefs are accurate. But lets be clear, if you think talking about religion critically is disrespectful, try listening to your grandmother revel in the torment she would have rained down on your ilk. That’s disrespect, that’s prejudiced, that’s hate.

absalom's avatar

@iamthemob

The problem is if you’re bashing a sacredly held belief, what IS the difference? Again, you can have differing opinions, but approach the discussion in a relevant manner.

What, exactly, does this mean? You seem to say that the sanctity of a belief grants it some kind of anthropomorphic qualities that give it impunity against ridicule. Of course there is still a difference between an individual and a belief. To say otherwise is a reduction of the individual; we are not our belief systems. We are many things more than that.

Does that make it okay for you to bash someone because that’s what they believe?

Yes, it is okay. Why should we not ridicule that which is ridiculous? You are preaching a virtuous pluralism of agonistic respect, and that’s fine; a productive society respects itself. But it’s also dangerous to think that way. It gives too much credit to bogus beliefs and allows them to continue to be disseminated through society.

What is this word, bash, anyway? One of its meanings is ’to criticize harshly.’ I would suggest that those who elect to believe in certain deities, certain religious tenets, should prepare themselves for the harsh criticism that they deserve. If their beliefs withstand, all the better for them, but there is no reason to complain along the way. People are so afraid of offending others that a real critique of beliefs and opinions is rare, and we are too often allowed to go on believing in absurd things that can actually impede the progress of a people. I am not saying that everyone should stop believing in God, but they should stop seeking impunity in the name of their beliefs. No idea is exonerated from criticism, harsh or not.

And again, when the ideology is so central to a person, it IS a lack of respect for the person. How can you reasonably argue that?

How can you reasonably argue otherwise? It doesn’t matter how ‘central’ an ideology is to a person. The critic of an ideology – if he knows what he’s doing – couldn’t care less about the people who hold that ideology, and there’s no reason he should. I don’t see why this is difficult to understand. It has nothing to do with the person. It’s concerned only with the beliefs and how they relate (or fail to relate) to reality.

A belief system does not encapsulate a group of people (regardless of what those people think); a group of people encapsulates a belief system.

as if it’s okay to make fun and reduce religion…but what if that were done with any of the previous categories? Religion is a very personal thing…do you disagree?

IT IS OKAY.

As if religion doesn’t need to be reduced in its scope and influence over the lives of so many people. If ridicule and reductive insults were slung at your ‘previous categories’ (skin color, sex, sexuality, etc.) then it would simply be stupid because those things are objective realities/unavoidable conditions of human beings. ‘Religion,’ as you say, ‘is a very personal thing’ – i.e., a very subjective thing that, when out of hand, deserves to be ridiculed. Psychopathy is also a ‘very personal thing.’ Should I respect a psychopath’s psychopathic behavior lest I hurt his feelings?

it’s about an expression that breathes nothing but prejudice regardless of the held beliefs of the speaker.

Critical expression of religion breathes many things, foremost of which is minty-fresh reason. It occasionally smells badly of prejudice, you’re right, but we are supposed to ignore those people. You would seem rather to focus on them, for some reason, and imply that everyone who breathes has bad breath. Of course this is not the case.

When you reduce religion to a line, and frame it as a rhetorical question, how is someone to respond?

He is to respond with a ‘rhetorical’ answer. That’s kind of how argument works. If he is silent or claims indignance, how are we supposed to respond? The discussion ends there because a person who has nothing to say is pretending to be offended.

It’s not about having respect for an underlying belief – you don’t have to kowtow. But if you don’t want to offend them, and actually have a rational discussion – don’t be offensive. Thinking that the issue can only be approached based on whether there is merit to the beliefs rather than including the feelings that they inspire and the possibility of good work, you’re limiting the discussion, and silencing people who might offer productive insight. So don’t have respect for the belief in a virgin birth, etc., whatever. But if you let that be the end of your ability to respect the faith as a whole…you haven’t done the complete analysis.

You are right. But I think you have already kowtowed (giving merit to or ‘seeing the point’ of the belief that homosexuality is a sin – really?), and that is what bothers me. You cannot have a level discussion when your head is bowed and you are staring at the ground, with others exercising the agency of a false victimhood over you. Fear of offending leads only to self-censorship. Obviously there is nothing productive or admirable in calling a Christian an idiot for his beliefs. That is not the kind of offensiveness I’m talking about. I am talking about people who are afraid that their disagreement with a belief will offend the believer. In that case, who cares? No one should be offended by disagreement and everyone should welcome earnest criticism of their own beliefs.

You mention the good things that come out of religion, signs of humanity and compassion, perhaps, etc. That’s fine, but religion is not the sole manufacturer of good will. Good will, on the contrary, usually comes from the individual, regardless of religious beliefs. We all recognize that a lot of people do a lot of good things in the name of religion. But those actions are up to the individual, and (like the individual, too) are separate from the actual system.

Loried2008's avatar

I’m not sure how anyone can behave this way about anyone’s religion (or lack of). You don’t see me going around telling people that I think they are ridiculous for their beliefs. There is a difference in stating your belief and downing someone because of what they believe. Someone saying “I don’t believe in Christianity” is fine, someone saying >>>

-I should be respectful of one of the most vile things ever put on this earth?
and
-Some of the most condescending judgmental people I have ever met all had the same thing in common….. Guesses anyone? (that’s a very judgmental thing to say)

How is that “criticizing” Christianity and not “criticizing” me? You cannot separate the two in the attempts to justify yourselves. I’m sorry. I am not my religion but my religion is a part of me.

In a perfect world everyone would agree to disagree and do so with dignity and respect, but this is not a perfect world and certain people will always take their criticism too far. I have a problem with the generalized assumptions (often time offense or biased) made about people involving their beliefs.

I simply agree that bashing religion is just as bad as bashing anything else about someone. They are a person made up of many different physical, mental, and emotional parts all interconnected. I’m well aware that race, sex, etc… are things you are born with and cannot change. When someone believes in something it can be their whole life and as a whole who they are, so how is bashing someone for who they are okay or in this case any different? It’s not in my opinion.

thekoukoureport's avatar

5:11 “Blessed are you when people reproach you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake
5:12 Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
5:14 You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can’t be hidden.
5:15 Neither do you light a lamp, and put it under a measuring basket, but on a stand; and it shines to all who are in the house.
5:16 Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
5:22 But I tell you, that everyone who is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment; and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council; and whoever shall say, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of the fire of Gehenna.
5:23 “If therefore you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you,
5:24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
5:25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are with him in the way; lest perhaps the prosecutor deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison.
5:44 But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you,
5:45 that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.
5:46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same?
5:47 If you only greet your friends, what more do you do than others? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same?
5:48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
6:1 “Be careful that you don’t do your charitable giving before men, to be seen by them, or else you have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
6:2 Therefore when you do merciful deeds, don’t sound a trumpet before yourself, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may get glory from men. Most assuredly I tell you, they have received their reward.
6:3 But when you do merciful deeds, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand does,
6:4 so that your merciful deeds may be in secret, then your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
6:5 “When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Most assuredly, I tell you, they have received their reward.
6:6 But you, when you pray, enter into your inner chamber, and having shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
6:7 In praying, don’t use vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their much speaking.
6:8 Therefore don’t be like them, for your Father knows what things you need, before you ask him.

Being a christian 101…. It’s funny but people who don’t believe usaully have more respect for people than those who do. So if you are offended take heart at the word of Christ. Stop trying to make your “faith” a minority, or an affliction or something your born with or whatever other term fits under your interpretation of prejudice.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr – You wrote: So, everything that’s in the Bible is debatable and unimportant, except for the “God is real, Jesus is his son, and he died for our sins”.

Here are my answers:

Yes, everything that’s in the Bible is debatable when it comes to the context of the year 2010 or put differently every interpretation of every word and every sentence is debatable. Why? Because we have to understand the historical context. When modern Christians (and theologians in particular) debate the Bible this doesn’t mean everything gets rejected or every interpretation gets rejected. Here’s an example. What does it mean when Christians consider Jesus to be their savior? Well, it can mean 1000 things. Here’s how a lot of German theologians explain it in layman’s terms:

Jesus reminded us that we make ourselves very unhappy when we hate other people. This reminder saves us from living a miserable life.

I do agree with this. To me that’s the most important aspect of being saved.

See for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higher_criticism and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_hermeneutics#Trajectory_hermeneutics

and keep in mind the debates are ongoing.

Most modern Christians either say: God is real to me or I believe God is real.

Most modern Christians say: Jesus being the son of God has a symbolic meaning. Jesus is not the biological son of God. God is beyond our imagination and he most certainly does not have a human genome which gets passed on to his descendants.

American evangelical Christians do not represent all Christians.

Christian nutcases promoting evolution denial do not speak for all Christians.

iamthemob's avatar

@absalom

Obviously there is nothing productive or admirable in calling a Christian an idiot for his beliefs. That is not the kind of offensiveness I’m talking about. I am talking about people who are afraid that their disagreement with a belief will offend the believer. In that case, who cares?

If you’ll read through the thread, and at the threads linked, you’ll see the joking, dismissive, and (as you mentioned) insulting rhetorical strategies employed by people speaking of religion or a belief in “Gawd” or “Gawed” (really?) that are employed. This is why I used “bash” instead of criticize. When someone says, “I believe homosexuality is a sin because the bible tells me so,” they deserve to be questioned, and strongly. When they quote the passages, it becomes necessary to bring in translation issues, the idea of cannonization, transcription errors, the historical context, the authorship, and the interpretation. When they say that it’s more in line with the general discussion that sexual acts that are done outside the concept of a loving relationship, and the person believes such acts take one further away from God, then you can have a reasonable discussion about the merits of such a belief, whether they are held generally, why they might not work for everyone, etc. When I see the reason in the argument, it’s not bowing my head…it’s just that I can understand how this perspective can be a reasonable one worthy of discussion, and not one that is reached without reason and therefore worthy of criticism.

The irony is that you’ve written a long answer in response to the types of discussion I have no problem with – those that are reasoned discussions about some of the impossible problems of religion and those that aren’t insurmountable, but rather can lead to productive solutions to social relations. I totally agree with you that criticism is necessary, and strong criticism at that. However, to say such things as “religion is a fairy tale” is to employ rhetorical strategies that can only lead to defensive stances from the other side, and to do such things as demand that the scientific method be the only valid rational approach (this is done repeatedly) to deal with a question about the metaphysical is disregarding not only religion, but philosophy generally. This doesn’t create discussion, only yelling. I don’t understand why that is so difficult to understand.

iamthemob's avatar

@thekoukoureport

It’s funny but people who don’t believe usaully have more respect for people than those who do. So if you are offended take heart at the word of Christ. Stop trying to make your “faith” a minority, or an affliction or something your born with or whatever other term fits under your interpretation of prejudice.

This is pretty accurate, and I support your assertions generally, except for the following:

(1) The first sentence may or may not be true…but from what I’ve seen here on fluther, I profoundly disagree. In general, those who yell the loudest are those seen as the “representatives” of their group. But we can’t rest on those as representing what the group’s beliefs are.

(2) Making the faithful a minority is not the issue – the issue is that if you want to have a productive discussion about religion, and want the religious to feel free to be part of the conversation, stop talking about the simple parts (e.g., a literal interpretation of the bible), and start talking about the interesting ones – I think you might have some reasoned responses like those from @mattbrowne and @Loried2008 above (and we needn’t assume or know anything about their personal beliefs to know that their contributions are, in fact, reasonable).

Loried2008's avatar

@thekoukoureport I’m not offended, but also I don’t see how someone elses religion, faith, or belief should be respected more than my own. I haven’t disrespected anyone on this thread nor do I disrespect people in everyday life. I’m not trying to make my belief a minority, nor did I say I was born with it, and I certainly don’t see my belief in God as an affliction.I agree with @iamthemob that we should be able to discuss our beliefs without everything getting blown out of proportion or having accusations thrown at you.

iamthemob's avatar

@fundevogel

I repeatedly stated that I didn’t necessarily think you were prejudiced, or ignorant – just that the statement made initially can easily be interpreted as being so, and makes it difficult to respond in a reasoned manner, especially considered how important god is in many people’s lives.

I disagree that I made religion look ridiculous. Yes I reduced religion to a few simple elements, but that is not the same as Reductio ad absurdum. I’m not actually making a claim at all. I simply repeat, in casual terms, characteristics commonly applied to gods. It’s true that these aren’t descriptive of every god, but they are descriptive of the most popular ones. So how is it that repeating religious claims, in casual terms, is prejudiced? Did I mis-characterize god? Is he not invisible? Does he not read minds? Does he not control the whole world? Is he not pleased by the smell of burnt animals? If those claims are consistent with the god in question the fact that they sound ridiculous has nothing to do with me.

You do mis-characterize, though:

(1) If we’re talking about the Bible, that god has appeared in many forms (e.g., the burning bush). And metaphorically, just because something is not perceived does not make it invisible. Are atoms invisible? Not necessarily, it’s just that we’ve only recently been able to perceive them. Is time invisible? Not necessarily, it’s just that we’ve recently begun to understand exactly how it is to be perceived.

(2) Whether or not God reads minds depends on how we look at what this means. Is this true? Maybe, but we can’t really say. Is god omniscient, and does that mean that it must read our minds by necessity? Perhaps. If Jesus is the son of god, wouldn’t he read minds? Well, if he asked god to release him from his duty in the garden (I’m too lazy to look up the spelling ;-)), it implies that no, god in some forms is limited. In eden god asked Adam and Eve about their nudity…does that show whether or not he was mindreader? Either/or.

(3) Who knows? But where are the ritual sacrifices if this is deeply held these days, I ask. Are women tainted during their period so that they cannot be touched or are the dead tainted in a manner that we cannot soil our hands and therefore our souls with them? Who knows…but the more interesting new testament question thereafter is whether grace and faith are demonstrated by adherence to the law and acts or by sincerely held beliefs.

This is the problem…the attempt to focus the questions still on the most simple and arguably boring aspects of the question, and then sitting back and feeling satisfied. It is both arrogant, and at the same time makes the opponent seem exactly how one has made the argument – simple and boring.

iamthemob's avatar

@Trillian

Very…good…question.

I think that the documentary Lord Save Us From Your Followers addresses it well.

thekoukoureport's avatar

I have shown you how the misuse of Jesus’ teachings has resulted in the suffering of untold millions of people, You don’t deny the various points that I have mentioned but you don’t see how that will build mistrust among many who have seen the light and got burned by it.

Instead you wish to steadfastly defend it, and then call for protection because of it. Rather than defend why did you not use the words of Jesus. to further your argument.

All the religious discussions on this website is designed to illicit a response from the collective. Most of the time I belive the questions are designed by believers who want to try out their argument on the populace. Seems rather egotistical if I wish to be judgemental, on the other hand, by having this “boring conversation” some of theses people took a moment and read a passage or two. Isn’t that prostelitizing the faith and one of the tenants of Christianity. Yet you complain that its “boring” Thats a good christian

Seek's avatar

@fundevogel, @absalom, @thekoukoureport

I’m in lurve with you all.

But, I’m afraid your opponents in this debate insist upon expounding on the most obscure and pointless parts of your (wonderful!) arguments.

(Does whether God likes the smell of burning animals today as he did in the Old Testament really merit research?)

Christians – I will say it again: If you keep carrying the flag, people will paint you with the colours of the flag. If you don’t like the colours, you have three options: work to change them, put down the flag, or deal with it, pray for your “oppressors”, and hope those mansions in Heaven aren’t metaphorical.

Seek's avatar

@mattbrowne You and I are cool. ^_^ Nothing you say is pointless.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr – Exactly! Since the year 350 CE thousands of Christians have worked to change the colors and this is an ongoing process. Therefore I wrote above: everything that’s in the Bible is debatable when it comes to the context of the year 2010. This doesn’t mean everything gets rejected.

Bottom line: Religions evolve. Societies evolve.

iamthemob's avatar

@thekoukoureport

I have shown you how the misuse of Jesus’ teachings has resulted in the suffering of untold millions of people, You don’t deny the various points that I have mentioned but you don’t see how that will build mistrust among many who have seen the light and got burned by it.

You and I keep coming to these points, but I’m hopeful that we can again get passed this. ;-) I completely understand distrust. I actually just admitted privately to @Loried2008 how I always distrusted nominal “Christians” because of the very issues that you discuss. So I do see it – and share the distrust still.

But holding the religion responsible despite the evolving nature that @mattbrowne points out is counter-productive. Everything can grow but we need to allow it to. Taking your logic, should I, as a white person in America of European dissent, be held responsible and be distrusted by African Americans for the travesty of slavery? No, but I understand how that distrust still exists today. As a gay man, should I distrust all straight people because of millenia of violent oppression? No, but I would expect people should understand why I approach them with caution sometimes.

If we rest on the examples from the past, we’re not learning from them, we’re harping on them.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

The work goes both ways.

Seek's avatar

What am I to work for? It’s your religion. You change its perception.
I do not deny your job is a difficult one, particularly when the vast majority of atheist Americans are ex-Christians who already know the scent of your faith’s dirty laundry.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

Was that addressed to me? Because I’m not a Christian.

iamthemob's avatar

(I’m also not religious)

Seek's avatar

So, have we all been Punk’d here?

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

How so? I would say that’s not the attempt on my end – however, the assumption reveals all of the problems with the other underlying assumptions that I have a problem with, and that I think are objective problems with the argument as it proceeds generally.

Seek's avatar

@iamthemob

Yes, it is clearly the fault of the nontheists in this thread that we made the unreasonable assumption that you were a member of the theistic sect you championed.~

“If we work from the assumption that God exists”. So, that’s where you were coming from, with your “I’m not religious” stance?

In any case, if you believe in God, you’re religious. If you don’t believe in God, you would be what Dan Dennet calls a “weak atheist” who merely “believes in belief”. That is: “all religions are equally true to the populace, false to the philosopher, and useful to the magistrate; and that the philosophers, if they are wise, should just get over it. ”. He states (and I agree) that it is an outrage to deliberately keep people who should know better in the dark because the results are more convenient.

thekoukoureport's avatar

I’m sorry was that too long ago. How about recent history, with The catholic church equating female priests to pedophiles. How about accepting married episcoble priests who want to run from the gay priest.

How about rev Haggard teaching the word of Christ to that nice male prostitute while smoking crank.
How about the rev in Atlanta buy all those nice young men fancy gifts.

Amen how christianity has “evolved”

All of thes examples are just from this past year.
So maybe I am trying to convert you and thats why I have to do the same as christians have done throughout histry. Break you down and build you back up in “THEIR” image.

Loried2008's avatar

Where there are people there is corruption.

mattbrowne's avatar

Keep in mind: there are non-religious deists.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

You are not defining weak atheism correctly. It includes agnosticism in many definitions. If anything, I am a weak atheist. But since that includes agnosticism, which is a belief in god, which at times I do and at times I don’t (general uncertainty), then I guess at times, you would claim I am religious.

But I think a lot of atheists would strongly disagree with you. Thanks for trying to pigeon-hole me though.

and what @mattbrowne said

thekoukoureport's avatar

Where there is people there should be hope… not original sin… freedom… not subjugation and love…... not judgement.

Until then all I have to go one is ones actions, cause the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

iamthemob's avatar

@thekoukoureport

How about rev Haggard teaching the word of Christ to that nice male prostitute while smoking crank.
How about the rev in Atlanta buy all those nice young men fancy gifts.

You are using anecdotal evidence. Look at @Loried2008 – she’s an example of how Christianity has evolved. The fact that the two people above haven’t been burned are an example of how it’s evolved. The fact that we have a first amendment shows how we’ve evolved.

Evolution is continuous – if you’re trying to argue that Christianity isn’t perfect yet, and is far from it – well, you win. But that doesn’t mean we should be flippant to it as a whole – that’s just harmful.

Seek's avatar

@mattbrowne

“Deism is therefore a natural religion” Source: Deism.com

iamthemob's avatar

@thekoukoureport

Until then all I have to go one is ones actions, cause the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

You seem to think people are debating you on these points. You are right. But you also can’t use any one person’s action as representative of all like them…or even groups of them.

That’s what we call prejudice.

Seek's avatar

” The fact that we have a first amendment shows how we’ve evolved.”

How so? The Constitution was not written by the Christian church. In fact it was written by Thomas Jefferson, the sometimes-Deist, sometimes-Atheist.

Seek's avatar

@iamthemob They are choosing to act as representatives of the group, thus the term “prejudice” does not apply.

It would not be “prejudice” to claim a neo-nazi or a KKK member, or a self-described “skinhead” is racist. The group holds a level of racism as a defining tenet. If the person chooses to identify with the group, they choose to be defined by its tenets.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

Please read my statement again and see how “we” does not mean the Christian Church because “it” was the reference to Christianity. “We” was a reference to society, and how we seek equality in opinions.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

Yes prejudice does apply in the example. If it does not, a Europeans would not be prejudiced against Americans if they assumed that you agreed with everything that President Bush said or did.

Your skinhead arguments are faulty because a skinhead generally openly supports the tenets of hate in the organization. The people in the examples given by @thekoukoureport were preaching one thing, and doing another. Apples and oranges.

Seek's avatar

On the contrary – I did not choose to be born in America. And I did not choose to be a member of the Republican Party.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

But you also didn’t emigrate when Bush became president.

Seek's avatar

@iamthemob

By that logic, millions of Ugandans chose to be slaughtered by Idi Amin because they did not emigrate when he came to power.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

Millions of Ugandans also didn’t have the resources available to move without dying potentially.

There also is the potential for followers to be oppressed by people who propose to be their representatives.

Seek's avatar

So then it would be unfair to assume every American that disagrees with the government at power had the option of leaving.

And thus, it would be prejudice to assume resident citizens agreed with that government.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

Thus, it would be prejudice to assume that all followers of Christianity agree with everything that the bible or leaders of various sects state.

thekoukoureport's avatar

equality of opinions? The pagans tried that and Christianity took over all It’s religous dates and made them their own.(you know like the easter bunny)

I have evidence that religions prior to christianity existed that hold the same stories as the Christian religion.
He was born of the god osiris and a virgin mother
HORUS
who was resurrected and accended to the father.

What opinion do I want? If your opinion acts to further intellectual decline, it is our duty as a society to shout from the rooftops the HYPOCRISY of it all. Hopefully in doing so we can help the civilization as a whole EVOLVE. By taking away responsibilty and giving it to god we overlook the HUMAN suffering by saying its god will. Bullshit we need to take personal responsiblity for our selves if we are to grow and evolve.

thekoukoureport's avatar

thank you @iamthemob they only follow the ones that fit their prejudice. thanks for wrapping that up for us.

Seek's avatar

They. Chose. To. Call. Themselves. Christian.

That is the key difference.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

You. Chose. To. Stay. An. American. Citizen.

If you had the capability to change, and didn’t, there is no difference. Difficulty in change does not matter unless it rises to the level of impossibility. Therefore, there is no difference.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr – Good point, although I’m under the impression that there’s some controversy whether deism qualifies as a religion or not.

iamthemob's avatar

@thekoukoureport

What opinion do I want? If your opinion acts to further intellectual decline, it is our duty as a society to shout from the rooftops the HYPOCRISY of it all. Hopefully in doing so we can help the civilization as a whole EVOLVE. By taking away responsibilty and giving it to god we overlook the HUMAN suffering by saying its god will. Bullshit we need to take personal responsiblity for our selves if we are to grow and evolve.

Is it your responsibility to also attempt to belittle people who are trying to do good while claiming they belong to a certain group that you disagree with on many points?

Seek's avatar

@iamthemob

I’ve said it many, many times, if I fell on the minimum $100,000 it would take me to legally leave this country, I’d be out of here before I could finish saying “kiss my ass, America!”

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

But you don’t, because it’s harder to. And because you know that leaders are temporary.

What’s the difference in a Christian who can further explain that they’re a follower of Christ’s message of love, and not the church?

And what’s the difference in assuming Christian means one thing instead of various, and assuming the Richard Dawkins speaks for all atheists?

Seek's avatar

No, I don’t because I don’t have money. That is the only reason.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

It doesn’t take any amount of money for you to legally leave the U.S. You can leave any time you want. Not having the money is an excuse based on the hardship of doing so.

The issue is the same – no one can assume anything about Americans without being prejudiced, and no one can assume anything about Christians without being prejudiced. And if it’s particularly negative, that assumption cannot be helpful.

thekoukoureport's avatar

Ive belittled noone. Taking something personnal is your responsibilty… If you are not comfortable with your position don’t spout it. Did you read the Quotes form Jesus above?
Doing wonderful things is important to all but do it in the name of yourself. Afterall your where created in gods image right?

The hercules religion died out about a hundred years before Christ and he was also born of a virgin mother, died and was resurrected.

iamthemob's avatar

@thekoukoureport

Not saying you did. But many do. If you agree that’s not okay, we’re still not arguing. ;-) We believe the same thing – criticism is good, but bad criticism isn’t productive.

And I can do wonderful things in the name of anything I want – god, jesus, my mother, myself. It’s not your place to mandate how I decide to do good in my life, is it?

Seek's avatar

Atheists do not belong to a group of any kind. They are the absence of organisation. There is no atheist flag. The only thing all of us agree on is that there’s probably no god.

Christians claim a god in common. They claim that god has a son that died for the remission of sins (that god defined). They claim the belief of that deity comes from one particular set of books.

The differences come when they squabble over which parts of those books have merit. And that’s where the rest of humanity’s logic sensors start pinging “WHAT THE FRAKKING FRAK?” Why would they believe one part of the book is absolute if the rest of it is debatable?

Not that it’s even on topic, but I’ve done a good deal of looking into emigrating out of the country, and it reeks of ignorance for you to claim it costs nothing to become a legal immigrant of another country or to eat whilst trying to establish yourself in that country.

thekoukoureport's avatar

Jesus told you how to do good things in life.(read above) How about doing it the Christian way then!

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

I didn’t claim anything about becoming a legal resident elsewhere. You misrepresented the argument by stating that there are legal requirements to leave the U.S. ;-)

If atheists don’t belong to a group – then don’t call yourself atheists. Otherwise, don’t assume anything about Christians other than they believe in a god and have a concept of what that god is. Otherwise, you’re being prejudiced.

Why would they believe one part of the book is absolute if the rest of it is debatable?

If you believe that one concept of atheism is good for you and the rest is debatable, how is that different?

iamthemob's avatar

@thekoukoureport

Jesus told you how to do good things in life.(read above) How about doing it the Christian way then!

Exactly. How about it? But if you assume that someone means anything other than that when they say that they’re a Christian, it’s prejudice.

Seek's avatar

Pardon? “Atheism” doesn’t presume a group.

atheist
1570s, from Fr. athéiste (16c.), from Gk. atheos “to deny the gods, godless,” from a- “without” + theos “a god”.

It’s no different than calling yourself an “insomniac”.

“Christianity” is an organisation. It is not simply a descriptive word – it is used to identify a person with a religious sect.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

Christianity is not an organization. It is a belief. As is atheism, considering that it isn’t falsifiable. The church is an organization, as is any organization that expounds a particular atheistic point of view that an atheist might belong to.

thekoukoureport's avatar

Okay I’m prejudiced…... SORRY CHRISTIANS.

You can’t have this argument both ways. The fact that Christians DON“T act that way is what is truly offensive, prejudiced and misguided. But I should not point out the Hypocrisy, The Crimes, THE SINS put upon our race in the name of god? Give me a break! do you understand how we are interprting your question? Did you want us to just say gosh thats wrong to prosecute and organization that has done MUCH more harm the good.

This has been fun! Definitely my definition of mental masturbation!

iamthemob's avatar

Chris·ti·an·i·ty (krsch-n-t, krst-)
n.
1. The Christian religion, founded on the life and teachings of Jesus.
2. Christians as a group; Christendom.
3. The state or fact of being a Christian.
4. pl. Chris·ti·an·i·ties A particular form or sect of the Christian religion: the Christianities of antiquity.

Seek's avatar

Atheism is a belief like bald is a hair color.

“Secular Humanist” is a group. If I identified myself as a “Secular Humanist” (which I don’t), you could make all sorts of presumptions based on what you know or what you’ve heard abotu Secular Humanism. But I don’t. I simply use the descriptive term of “atheist”. I do not believe in god. That is all the weight that term holds.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

See definition number 3 above.

Atheism is the state of fact of being an atheist.

Seek's avatar

WTF? You can’t use the definition for one word to infer the definition of a completely unrelated word.

Seek's avatar

A Secular Humanist is an atheist. An atheist is not necessarily a Secular Humanist.

A Christian is a theist. A theist is not necessarily a Christian.

See where I’m going with this?

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

I’m not. You’re saying that atheism isn’t anything more than not believing in god, by definition. I’m saying that Christianity isn’t anything more than being a Christian. Any inferences about what that means come from the assumptions of the person hearing the word. And all assumptions, whether based on personal observation or not, become ridiculous when generalized.

See where I’m going with this?

Seek's avatar

Aside from the “male given name” and the definitions that are only used in Archaic speech or while speaking with other Christians, you can clearly see that the term “Christian” has strong implications toward membership in a particular group with particular teachings.

Chris·tian   
[kris-chuhn]
–adjective
1.
of, pertaining to, or derived from Jesus Christ or His teachings: a Christian faith.
2.
of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to the religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ: Spain is a Christian country.
3.
of or pertaining to Christians: many Christian deaths in the Crusades.
4.
exhibiting a spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ; Christlike: She displayed true Christian charity.
5.
decent; respectable: They gave him a good Christian burial.
6.
human; not brutal; humane: Such behavior isn’t Christian.
–noun
7.
a person who believes in Jesus Christ; adherent of Christianity.
8.
a person who exemplifies in his or her life the teachings of Christ: He died like a true Christian.
9.
a member of any of certain Protestant churches, as the Disciples of Christ and the Plymouth Brethren.
10.
the hero of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.
11.
a male given name.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

And you choose to assume what implications you find important. Those are your assumptions. Again, they are not definitive, and can very well be harmful and negative.

This is evidenced by the fact that you chose to bold some words and not the others…some of the definitions and not the others.

You are cherry-picking in exactly the same way people often accuse Christians of cherry-picking from the bible.

iamthemob's avatar

Case in point:

Chris·tian   
[kris-chuhn]
–adjective
1.
of, pertaining to, or derived from Jesus Christ or His teachings: a Christian faith.
2.
of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to the religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ: Spain is a Christian country.
3.
of or pertaining to Christians: many Christian deaths in the Crusades.
4.
exhibiting a spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ; Christlike: She displayed true Christian charity.
5.
decent; respectable: They gave him a good Christian burial.
6.
human; not brutal; humane: Such behavior isn’t Christian.
–noun
7.
a person who believes in Jesus Christ; adherent of Christianity.
8.
a person who exemplifies in his or her life the teachings of Christ: He died like a true Christian.
9.
a member of any of certain Protestant churches, as the Disciples of Christ and the Plymouth Brethren.
10.
the hero of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.
11.
a male given name.

mattbrowne's avatar

Secular humanism finds itself in conflict with religious fundamentalism, but not necessarily with all forms of religions available today.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_humanism

I am in agreement with almost all tenets of this philosophy. I am not superstitious. I have a problem with many of the existing religious dogmas. I am committed to reason, evidence, and scientific method. I don’t claim that my belief in God is a fact. I also point out that science does have limitations. It cannot tell us anything about the purpose of our universe, for example. And I really think when our deep need for meaning goes unmet our lives might feel shallow or empty. Therefore I keep looking for different answers and I think modern forms of religions have a lot to offer. But I also think that a good metaphysical and ethical framework for our lives does not necessarily depend on (organized) religion. We should tap into all sources of wisdom available.

Like secular humanism.

Seek's avatar

Please show me where any of my emphasis changes the definition as written. I merely bolded certain phrases in every single definition that demonstrates that Christianity is a chosen social religious group.

Your emphasis removes essential parts of certain definitions, like #7 – “Adherent to Christianity” is an important clause you chose to remove.

In #1, we are not discussing Jesus himself, so the definition “pertaining to Jesus” does not pertain to this discussion. Thus the reason I did not emphasise that clause.

When you’re ready to be intellectually honest in this discussion, I will be waiting.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

“Pertaining to” implies that a belief or action may be related to an interpretation of the underlying teachings – which means that it implicates an infinite variety of ways by which the teachings can be expressed. This undercuts an argument that it’s proper to assume anything about it.

Your emphasis removes certain essential parts of certain definitions, like #7 – “a person who believes in Jesus Christ” is an important clause you chose to remove.

In #1, we show how Jesus Christ is an important element in Christianity generally, so the definition “pertaining to Jesus” is very much part of the discussion. His message of love was central to a lot of the New Testament. Thus I re-included after you edited it out.

When you’re ready to see the inherent hypocrisy in what you’re trying to do, and recognize that I am showing your tactics to be what they are, I will be waiting. Until then, your intellectual honesty is really the only one in question.

Seek's avatar

So we’ve gone to “I know you are but what am I?” I’m done.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

Unfortunately, yes. But that’s because, as again from the playground, “you started it.” ;-)

And if you don’t want to see why you’re wrong on these points, fine. Yes, you are done. But if you want to show me how I’m wrong that Christianity means very little specifically, and instead represents a variety of belief that assuming anything about represents more about the person assuming than it does about Christians, I’m open to it.

Seek's avatar

The PM I sent you:

What hypocrisy? You’re talking about atheism like it’s a religion. It’s not. I gave you the religious equivalent. You ignored it. I described to you repeatedly how Christianity is a chosen social group and that one cannot claim prejudice against something they are self-defining as, and you ignore it and want to complain that I’m not bolding all the words you like. You continually veer the discussion off course. I’m over it. You’re still wrong, but the fight has become boring

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

No, I’m talking about Christianity in terms of how it can be addressed outside the religion. The church sets doctrine, Christianity does not…it’s following a teaching, like any other teaching, and you address the lessons as they might be relevant to you without requiring a specific construct.

You just can’t get out of the mindset of how atheism isn’t a religion, and therefore it can’t have anything in common with something generally conceived of as a religion. If the argument is boring, it’s because you’re taking a narrow approach to it, and shutting down because of an unreasonable emotional response.

Coloma's avatar

JESUS!

I am prejudice against you people that have the mental rocket fuel to go this deep this early in MY morning! lol

Reading through all these postings has left my gray matter mushy. haha

Seek's avatar

@iamthemob

Christianity in terms of how it can be addressed outside the religion.

There is no “Christianity outside the religion”. It is a religion.

If you want to talk about the philosophical teachings of Jesus, without any deity involved, sure, we can do that. But you don’t need a deity to agree with some of the philosophies attributed to Jesus. Hell, you don’t even need Jesus – everything he is supposed to have said can be found somewhere else.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

Then you are ignoring the definition again. No one is making you accept that a deity is involved to discuss the teachings. And if you want to call it a philosophy, fine. But all of those problems are you bringing your own baggage to the discussion. I prefer to check mine.

Seek's avatar

Are you claiming that Christianity is not necessarily a theist religion? or that it is not necessary to believe in God and the supernatural being of Jesus to be a Christian?

Because that’s a whole different can of worms you’d be opening.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

Nope. I’m saying that you are only focusing on it as a religion, when so many of the definitions talk of the teachings of Christ. You said you’d be fine with talking about the teachings. I’m saying no one is requiring you to believe in the deity in order to have a discussion with Christians except individual Christians you talk to. If they’re saying that you can’t have the discussion without that prerequisite, they’re wrong. But if you’re saying that they have to agree that they’re religion is ridiculous in order to have a conversation about the aspects you find acceptable, you’re just as wrong. Find the mutually acceptable point, and move from there. But if you start off being dismissive, on either side, no one moves anywhere.

Seek's avatar

I’ll talk to Christians about their philosophies all day long. @mattbrowne is an awesome person, who I consider a dear friend on this site. I love hearing his perspective on things. The fact that he believes in an intangible deity weirds me out, because otherwise he’s brilliant. But, I don’t take issue with the Einsteinian sense of a deity – that is “there’s something up there I don’t understand, and I’m going to call that ‘god’.” That’s fine, whatever. That’s what my husband believes and we get along fine. It’s the issue of a personal god, that is deeply and intimately concerned with my sex life and whether I cut my hair or eat meat on a Friday, that I have a problem with.

However, the term “Christian” brings with it a lot of implications, both relative to its definition and the public face of others that bear the flag of “Christian”. If one chooses to give themselves that label, they bear the responsibility of those implications. I cannot and will not be responsible for conducting a thorough interview with each and every individual of every social group, club, organization, political party, etc. to determine whether they fit 100% with the label they have granted themselves. There’s a reason they chose that label, so they get to keep it for better or for worse.

As an example, a dear friend of mine claims to be a Republican. She doesn’t believe in trickle-down economics, or the fight against gay marriage, and doesn’t feel the second amendment is being interpreted correctly by the majority of her party, but she wants to be called a Republican. Thus, she’s a Republican.

I, personally, like to use labels for myself that I agree with as close to wholeheartedly as possible. I am an atheist. I am a libertarian socialist. I am pro-choice. In none of these labels will I say “I am an atheist except…” like so many Christians say “I am a Christian and believe in the Bible except that part that says…

Not that that is particularly wrong of them – I’d much rather have a group of Christians that support gay marriage and modern medicine than a group of Westboros, but it is not my responsibility to filter through their self-chosen labels. When I was a Christian, I referred to myself specifically as an “Apostolic Pentecostal”, lest anyone believe I were a member of one of those heathen liberal churches that allows women on the pulpit and lets men grow their hair long.

When we choose our own labels, we cannot expect others to interpret the labels the way we choose them to be interpreted. We must choose which labels best fit us, or handle the consequences ourselves.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

However, the term “Christian” brings with it a lot of implications, both relative to its definition and the public face of others that bear the flag of “Christian”. If one chooses to give themselves that label, they bear the responsibility of those implications. I cannot and will not be responsible for conducting a thorough interview with each and every individual of every social group, club, organization, political party, etc. to determine whether they fit 100% with the label they have granted themselves. There’s a reason they chose that label, so they get to keep it for better or for worse.

When we choose our own labels, we cannot expect others to interpret the labels the way we choose them to be interpreted. We must choose which labels best fit us, or handle the consequences ourselves.

That, however, is prejudice – a lack of motivation to determine who the person is as a person, and instead substituting what you think about the group.

For instance, I used to believe that Richard Dawkins was the example of atheists. Atheists have told me differently, and said that I have to figure out what their personal beliefs are rather than assume things about them because they are atheists.

But if you choose to call yourself an atheist, then you have to deal with all the implications associated with it. You get to deal with the consequences of it. You get to deal with being called godless. You get to deal with having work issues, and issues with your kids in school, and issues with the scouts. And you do not get to expect that people ask you what you mean by that.

Therefore, by that logic, you don’t ever get to complain about the results of it, and have to quietly accept this judgment, and think that it’s reasonable if people don’t want to listen to your explanation.

Atheism is as loaded a term, culturally, as Christianity. If we don’t want to learn about each other, then we accept prejudice as a necessary result. And we have to think that it’s okay.

Does that sound productive? If you think that people shouldn’t assume anything about atheists, but that Christians “do it to themselves,” I’d like to know how that is not a hypocritical argument (note: I am not saying that’s what you absolutely are saying – but if you are that requires some major support.)

Seek's avatar

I do deal with the implications of being an atheist. I have to deal with theists trying to convert me, with people telling me I’m going to hell, with a considerably smaller job market (as I refuse to sign my name to a statement calling myself Christian in order to be a secretary at a private school or a construction company), etc. I’m pretty secure in knowing that “atheist” is self-explanatory. I don’t believe in a deity. I am godless. If someone else wants to take that to believe I’m evil/worship satan/a bad influence on their children, they have a right to that ignorance. I have a great amount of respect for Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and many other “extreme” atheists, so being regarded in league with them is no insult in my eyes.

If someone wishes to discuss my atheism, I will not say no, nor will I demand that one discuss and clarify my atheistic stance. The issues with children in school is another matter entirely, for there are legal documents in our country prohibiting government-sponsored endorsement of religion. That extends to the Scouts as well, as they have been continually supported on the federal level.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

You do – why should you have to?

Seek's avatar

@iamthemob Because I don’t have the time or the inclination to give a dissertation on my life story to everyone I meet. That is why the human race has developed symbols and labels.

If a Christian school doesn’t want me as a secretary, that’s their right. And if someone wants to call me a godless heathen… well, that’s not exactly inaccurate.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

Not what I’m asking – what I’m asking is why should you have to deal with it? It’s completely inappropriate. But it’s just as inappropriate the other way around. It’s not productive, it shelters people from each other, and promotes no discourse.

Assuming some things isn’t destructive, although it can be counter-productive. Assuming the worst or assuming the negative generally is destructive.

Seek's avatar

I think this thread is a perfect example on how one can hold discourse without revealing any information beforehand.

thekoukoureport's avatar

Funny, a pol was done recently regarding religion and Christians new less about their religion than atheist or muslims.

You want discourse but on your terms, when backed in a corner you play symantics, never once have you addressed this issue in an open minded fashion. Yet you claim not to be religious? How is that so?

thekoukoureport's avatar

Thats they problem with knowledge… tends to bring light to the darkness, and away from fantsy and dreams.

The more you speak the more you create hostility, if you don’t like the argument come up with a cogent reply. This is typical of any religious discussion on this site, like talking to a wall.
@Seek_Kolinahr was right.

iamthemob's avatar

@thekoukoureport

I do want discourse, but only on my terms. But what terms do you think those should be? My only concern is that one side not make disparaging remarks against the other as a group.

That’s not religion…that should be common decency right? Tell me if I’m wrong.

I also don’t understand how I haven’t responded cogently to anything. Please let me know exactly what you want me to respond to, and I’ll do it again – or for the first time if I haven’t done it before.

iamthemob's avatar

@thekoukoureport

PS – this isn’t a conversation about religion – it’s about why one form of prejudice appears to be more acceptable than another.

thekoukoureport's avatar

I have given you reasons how and why have I not. Should I then give the same treatment to the Taliban, Hamas, Neo nazis, Westboro Baptist.

SYMANTICS my friend go study your bible or whatever book you ascribe to.

iamthemob's avatar

@thekoukoureport

The taliban is not a religion. Neither is Hamas. Neither are neo-nazis (that’s more racism than anything). And you know my feelings on WBC.

I’m saying why is it okay to be dismissive of the entire group because of fringe organizations. So why is it okay to assume something about any of these religions because of the clearly insane use of them?

Would it be more appropriate to use the word “religious” instead of “religion”?

thekoukoureport's avatar

They are deep rooted belief systems that define who they are. That by your definition is a religion. Come on I looooove symantics.

Seek's avatar

It’s okay @thekoukoureport – He only thinks it’s prejudice if he agrees with the voluntary social group’s practices. If the voluntary social group’s practices are disagreeable, feel free to tar their entire group with the colours of the group’s flag.

Who’s a hypocrite now?

iamthemob's avatar

@thekoukoureport

Deep rooted belief systems that define who a person is can always be destructive, and should always be uprooted if they do so.

Please note that I never said one should not be critical of a religion. Everything should be approached critically. There are plenty of radical queers who have advocated violent overthrow, racial separatists, etc. An extremist view isn’t what I’m talking about. It’s the fact that some people base their view on religion on that.

The taliban is a perfect example – it’s a government based on a radical and oppressive interpretation of Islam. Are all Muslims members of the taliban? No – but dismissive comparisons make many Americans fearful that they are.

I’m concerned only with people making dismissive comments that are harmful to those who hold the best aspects of their faith. Such comments are pointless.

PS – you do know that it’s “semantics” and not “symantics” right? Of course, that’s just semantics…;-)

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

Yes…because I didn’t just say that prejudice against atheists is just as intolerable as prejudice against the religious. Wait…

Seek's avatar

But you don’t know that there aren’t members of the Taliban that are snuggly little teddy bears. I demand you interview each and every one of them for a thorough understanding of each of their personal beliefs before you judge them!

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I always follow discussions like this until I feel the urge to bash my head into the keyboard a few times.

I’m sure everyone wishes we could “all just get along.” I think, for the most part, it isn’t a lack of education on the subjects that causes a stirring of so much emotion. It is how intensely we are connected to our own ideals. Faith and lack of faith are very personal issues, and something that most of us feel a need to protect for many reasons. It is pretty difficult to imagine perfect harmony among such drastically different viewpoints. Many Christians genuinely fear for our souls (because we are sinners), and on the contrary, many atheists feel that Christians are wasting their time on fairytale-like stories and ultimately doing more harm than good. Hard to come to a truly common ground. In the big picture I believe that both groups have the best interest of the others in mind. It is simply impossible to come to an agreement because no one really knows the truth.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

I do know that there are members of the taliban that are willing to be reasonable. I do know that there are people under the taliban’s rule who are unfortunately associated with it by implication. I also know that I have my own prejudices. I just don’t think it’s okay to say dismissive things based on those. Although I’ve done it.

In fact, specifically about the religious – MOSTLY about the religious. That’s something I’m trying to change about myself.

iamthemob's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie

It is simply impossible to come to an agreement because no one really knows the truth.

But this statement is something that we can potentially all agree on. There’s no need to agree on anything else after the fact. Once that’s accepted, we can try to sort out the harmful from the beneficial with a more critical eye.

What I think we agree on also (@TheOnlyNeffie – you and I, that is) is that neither judgment on either side is appropriate…but rather both are harmful.

iamthemob's avatar

Either @fundevogel has stepped away from the computer…or she is crafting the longest response…ever…

Seek's avatar

I appreciate @fundevogel taking her time crafting a good response. She often takes a while but it’s always good.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@iamthemob well that sounds good, but I don’t see how it works in principle. Isn’t it against some of the very basic teachings of Christianity not to do what they can to save those of us who have strayed from the herd? In order for us to just agree to disagree and all get along, then Christians would essentially have to hunker down and just decide they are going to let us lost souls go on our merry way to eternal damnation. I’m not sure that I see how it is possible.

iamthemob's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie

Who’s to say that every Christian believes in eternal damnation? Hell is actually an infrequent theme in the bible in comparison with other themes. Conversion is definitely a goal for many, but if the goal is conversions to the teachings of love for one another, would anyone object to it?

It all depends on how it’s going to be framed, which is a constantly evolving issue.

I found this thread which seems like another good discussion on the issues of whether an attempt to “talk down” to religion is productive in any way.

thekoukoureport's avatar

While you are destroying everything around me while teaching me to love one another. Yes I would have and do have a HUGE problem with it.

thekoukoureport's avatar

@fundevogel has probably had to change her response several times due to the changing of the subject many times.

iamthemob's avatar

@thekoukoureport

Who’s you and what the what are you talking about?

and I bet you’re right about @fundevogel

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@iamthemob I don’t need to be converted to love my fellow man. Or my fellow living creatures. Or my earth. Or to love, period. It isn’t that simple for most of the Christians that I’ve met in my experience. Again, I feel like I have to repeat myself whenever I get into a discussion like this… I can only speak from my own experience. I would never make a complete all-encompassing statement and assume it applies to every individual in a given group. However, I am inclined to believe in majority rules ideals when those are what are presented to me over the course of my lifetime.
I know, and you know, that I personally do not agree with bashing another person’s religious or spiritual beliefs. I see no good that can come from it. However, I can understand how people can get to the point where things get a little bit ugly when a topic that is so deeply personal is tugged in thousands of possible directions. That is the nature of the unknown. No, we don’t necessarily have to come to an agreement – but we all want to be right. We all stand to gain or lose something by being right or being wrong, and that is not something that most people will take lightly.

thekoukoureport's avatar

@iamthemob but if the goal is conversions to the teachings of love for one another, would anyone object to it? see my answer above.

iamthemob's avatar

@thekoukoureport

That’s not an answer. I’m asking who you are referring to when you say “you.”

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I feel the need to backtrack and address the issue of eternal damnation. Maybe you’re right. Maybe it isn’t a focus. However, I can not possibly count on all of my fingers and toes combined how many people have told me that I am going to hell. Politely. Even apologetically. With pity in their eyes. I see the good intentions behind their statement, sure. But they all believed with their whole heart that I am going to hell.
Please, please show me a person that considers themselves a Christian that will tell me that despite the fact that I reject everything taught in the Bible, that my soul will go to heaven, and that person will be held to the highest regard in my mind. I may not believe it, as I do not believe in heaven, but to have someone of religious or spiritual faith see and acknowledge the goodness in me regardless of my lack of faith would give me great peace of mind. It would restore a lot of my faith in Christianity as a positive force in this world, that’s for sure. Not because I’ve asked for it, of course. Because they truly mean it.

iamthemob's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie

I doubt there is such a person. However, you’ve put forward an impossible scenario, as I don’t believe that you reject everything taught in the bible. I also doubt that anyone who would give you that guarantee would be reliable – that person probably wouldn’t feel comfortable making a judgment of that magnitude as it applies to anyone, even themselves.

However, I would talk to @Loried2008. She seems completely reasonable, and has to be open-minded to ask this question.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

That was my original point. Maybe there isn’t a major focus on eternal damnation, but I have never met a Christian that does not believe that I will go to hell because I reject the Bible and belief in a god. For many, if not most, the goal is to save my soul from just that. Again, I see the good intentions, but you must be able to see how that would make the harmony you’re proposing difficult to achieve. It would require one of two things. Atheists being open to being preached to, or Christians agreeing to abandon those of us who have strayed. These are important issues on both sides, not easy to find a very happy medium. I won’t disagree that bashing someone based on their religious or spiritual affiliation is wrong. But I don’t see the harmonious joining of hearts and minds that you are optimistically drawing up. It would be lovely, sure. I just don’t think it is feasible. As long as people are trying to convert me, I’m going to be unhappy. As long as people are missing out on the salvation, Christians are going to be unhappy. For lack of a better term.

Why do you think that someone would not feel comfortable telling me that I would go to heaven? I will tell you with all honesty that I know for a fact that there are plenty that won’t hesitate to tell a person they are going to hell.

iamthemob's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie

You misinterpreted my answer, though. First, you can’t really reject everything in the bible, please tell me how that’s possible. Second, I would think that someone who was open-minded and Christian would believe, for instance, you might go to heaven – but if it’s a call based on judgment, I don’t think that person would claim they have the right to say if anyone would get into heaven, or go to hell.

You are also assuming a necessity where there is one. Have you strayed? Who can tell – if you’re living a good life, what’s the difference? I’ve known many Christians in my life who don’t think that Jews are going to hell simply because they reject Christ, or that Muslims are going to hell, or Buddhists, etc. You can preach the word without demanding faith in the belief…and as an atheist, you can accept the lessons without converting to a belief in god. It may inevitably be awkward, and there will always be some disagreement – but you seem to have fixed ideas about preaching, conversion, salvation and belief that aren’t necessary.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

That is just semantics, though. I clearly reject the basic tenets of Christianity. It holds very little, if any, bearing on whether or not people perceive me as a person living a good life by the standards of the Bible.

When all of Christianity agrees that preaching, conversion, and salvation are unnecessary, I will not complain.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

On that note, I think I will ask. Hopefully there will be some jellies out there that believe those of us who are genuinely good, regardless of non-belief, can have our shot at eternal bliss.

Seek's avatar

^ I think she might mean (as I read it anyway) as “reject everything unique to the Bible”. Considering that “eye for an eye” was the Code of Hammurabi, and “turn the other cheek”, “do unto others…” etc. are all from other, older sources.

Things unique to the Bible (and thus Christianity in one form or another) might be “Accept Jesus as your personal saviour”, “repent, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and receive the holy ghost with evidence of speaking in tongues”, “Spare the rod and spoil the child”, the entire “Virtuous woman” chapter of Proverbs, the mandated treatment of slaves as laid out in the New Testament, “wives, sumbit yourselves unto your husband”, Revelations 21:8, in which all liars, whoremongers, etc. will “have their place in the lake of fire”, etc.

thekoukoureport's avatar

Those of us who are generally good have eternal bliss.

Seek's avatar

^ If “bliss” means the glorious absence of consciousness that occurs at brain-death. But hell, the generally evil will get that, too.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

That’s more what I was getting at (re: uniqueness). Although I doubt “Spare the rod,” “wives, submit,” or the fact that liars, whoremongers, etc. will be punished somehow are biblically unique.

thekoukoureport's avatar

earlier religions worshipped Mother Earth. Celebrated fertility (spring equinox), bountiful harvest (autumnal equinox) and rebirth (winter Solstice). Really didn’t have alot of time to make up the subjigation of women.

iamthemob's avatar

@thekoukoureport

So the first time women were ever subjugated, and the only time since, was in the bible?

Seek's avatar

@iamthemob The point is that most of the happy-go-lucky “Oh, but Christianity is good because it believes _____” stuff comes from a variety of other sources, and thus cannot be attributed to Christianity.

For example: The Golden Rule.
1.1 Ancient Babylon
1.2 Ancient Egypt
1.3 Ancient Greek philosophy

2.1 Global ethic
2.2 Bahá’í Faith
2.3 Buddhism
2.4 Christianity
2.5 Confucianism
2.6 Hinduism
2.7 Humanism
2.8 Islam
2.9 Jainism
2.10 Judaism
2.11 Mohism
2.12 Sikhism
2.13 Taoism

So “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is hardly monopolised by Christianity. Thus, one cannot use that as a reason that Christianity is beneficial to society. I cannot think of any other religion that claims specifically:

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Except Islam, but I don’t know that scripture of the Koran. And in any case, that’s also an Abrahamic religion and it’s all pretty much the same.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

That’s not the point, though. I don’t think that I was ever, or that anyone was, advocating that. You seem to be drawing the discussion towards the validity of specific belief in the bible as the word of god, never received before.

You’re saying that because good parts of it are collected from other sources, arguably, that it can’t be good? I hope not. And quoting the bad parts of the bible isn’t helpful as it’s reducing an entire system of belief that expands beyond the bible and throughout history, and is also beside the point. Whether or not it can or can’t be beneficial isn’t really the point so much as whether making arguably prejudiced comments about religion, the religious, etc. has any benefit at all.

That’s what you’re attempting to advocate. Advocate that then. Tell me why prejudice is good. Or tell me why judgmental statements aren’t prejudicial.

As an example, @TheOnlyNeffie asked this question. When I started responding, everyone who seemed to argue from a Christian perspective was saying “I don’t see why good atheists wouldn’t get into heaven” whereas all the atheists seem to be saying “Christians won’t let you in, and why would you want to be with them anyway?”

So, if I’m going to use that as an example of who I should side with in what I want to be a reasonable, judgment-free discussion about how we should relate to each other…who do you think I should side with?

thekoukoureport's avatar

Subjucated yes, having it blessed by the God of love NO. or was that not your point either cause it is 2010 years later and female priest are on the same level of abomination as pedophiles.
Hello is this thing on?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@iamthemob that isn’t exactly what was said. It was more along the lines of “I hope so” or “I’d like to think so”, but fair enough I suppose. Atheists are most likely going to reply with the negativity and the things that they find disturbing or unacceptable in the Bible. They want people who are “adhering” to a religious text to see the gaping hole between what they really believe in their hearts.. and what the Bible tells them so.

iamthemob's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie – amusingly, the first statement was more along the lines of “That’s in God’s hand, and I can’t judge as it’s not my place”, which is kind of what I said an open-minded Christian would most likely say

iamthemob's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie

Atheists are most likely going to reply with the negativity and the things that they find disturbing or unacceptable in the Bible. They want people who are “adhering” to a religious text to see the gaping hole between what they really believe in their hearts.. and what the Bible tells them so.

Do they ask or do they tell? It looks more like they tell.

Seek's avatar

It is absurd to expect us (as atheists) to ignore the bad parts of the Bible, and bend over backwards in joy that some people also (or even only) believe the good parts.

When one takes their beliefs from a book (and anyone who believes in Jesus gets that belief from the Bible, as there are no records of his teachings outside the Bible), it would logically follow that they would find the entirety of that book equally valid. If (as is apparently in the case of some if not most Christians) they don’t find all parts of the Bible to be equally valid, one must then question why they believe the parts they do, and exactly what algorithm they use to separate good Scripture from bad Scripture.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@iamthemob I would have expected that answer, as well. That is why I tried to make it very clear that I wanted opinions. I know that by the book, Christians aren’t really supposed to make that kind of judgment. We are all human, though, and many do. I’m all for free thought, so I’m not complaining.

Ask or tell what? I never said anything about asking.. so I’m confused, I’m sorry. Am I understanding you correctly in that you want them to follow their scripture quotes with something to the effect of “do you see the inconsistencies here?”

DominicX's avatar

@iamthemob

About the question of atheists getting into Heaven. I approach these things from a realist “scientific” point of view. I have a problem with people who claim A) The Bible is the infallible word of God and B) What the Bible says about homosexuality, atheists, etc. doesn’t matter because it’s negative and all that matters is “Love one another.”

This is part of the reason why I moved away from being a Christian, despite how I was raised. I wasn’t raised to be hateful or anything, but I was raised to believe that the Bible was the true word of God. So it bothers me that the same word of God that says “love one another” also says that people who break certain rules should be put to death.

I don’t like this “pick and choose” attitude that some so-called “progressive Christians” have toward the Bible. If they can explain to me how some parts of the Bible can be ignored and other parts are exalted, then by all means, convince me.

thekoukoureport's avatar

good luck @DominicX we have been trying allllllll day.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@DominicX I have major issues with that, myself. In fact, that may be my biggest issue with Christianity today.

Seek's avatar

Also, I have already demonstrated (I refuse to count how many times in this thread alone) how the term “prejudice” does not apply to voluntary social groups, particularly when the person who is being accused of prejudice has a thorough knowledge of the tenets and practices of that group.

thekoukoureport's avatar

I believe we all have @Seek_Kolinahr or at least TRIED to!

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

When one takes their beliefs from a book (and anyone who believes in Jesus gets that belief from the Bible, as there are no records of his teachings outside the Bible), it would logically follow that they would find the entirety of that book equally valid.

This is, perhaps, some of the most flawed logic I’ve seen.

iamthemob's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie

They want people who are “adhering” to a religious text to see the gaping hole between what they really believe in their hearts.. and what the Bible tells them so.

Do they just tell them what’s wrong with their belief, or do they ask what it is that they follow from the religious text? It seems more like the former.

Seek's avatar

@iamthemob How so? Either a source is a valid source, or it is not, or there must be some method of determining which parts of the source are valid.

iamthemob's avatar

@DominicX

So do you think it’s okay to assume that Christians are homophobes, want women to be subservient, condemn all other people, and to make comments to such belief?

Isn’t that prejudice?

I don’t like this “pick and choose” attitude that some so-called “progressive Christians” have toward the Bible. If they can explain to me how some parts of the Bible can be ignored and other parts are exalted, then by all means, convince me.

So…you think it’s better for people to be rigid adherents to the bible rather than adapt their beliefs to modern times?

If they’re not trying to convince you that they’re right, wouldn’t you prefer the latter?

If they were, wouldn’t you like to have a more reasonable discussion about it with the latter?

If not, do you just want to tell them how ridiculous they are?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@iamthemob I don’t think coddling is really necessary. If someone fails to see the discrepancies between ‘I think you could go to heaven because you are a good person’ and “whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son”... what can be said?

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

Alright, if prejudice does not apply to voluntary social groups, then we will no longer be able to grant refugee status to people who flee to the U.S. because of religious persecution. We will not be able to grant it to people who come here because of persecution because of their political affiliations, or because they organized labor in their home country. We wouldn’t be able to grant it to homosexuals, since many courts state that they can survive in their home countries because they can choose to pass as heterosexual.

“Particular social group” is a category for persecution under the refugee treaty. How is it possible to be persecuted if there is no prejudice?

Seek's avatar

* facepalm *

“Prejudice” =/= “persecution”.

No one is slaughtering Christians by the dozen because they have an illogical belief system.

Why don’t you just try answering my question, instead of diverting to nonsense?

Is the Bible a valid source, is it an invalid source, or if neither is true, what is the method used to determine which portions are valid and which are not?

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

So there’s a way to determine an absolute moral authority? If not, then one can interpret and gain moral instruction from a source without it coming from an absolute authority.

And if not, then why do you get the privileged position of saying that someone’s beliefs are wrong? This is an objective question.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

I didn’t say prejudice = persecution. What I said is that from prejudice comes persecution. If people do not prejudge a group, then they would not persecute that group – they would subject the members to individual prosecution.

I’m diverting nothing into nonsense. You’re making a claim that membership in a group that is voluntary means that one cannot be subject to prejudice because of membership in that group. Or if they do, it’s their own fault. You haven’t provided a shred of argument to show why this is valid, but instead resort to showing why you don’t like Christianity.

So, tell me how you’re right.

iamthemob's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie

If you can’t see the difference between someone accepting that the bible as written does not apply and a Christian looking to it for guidance and trying to determine the truth from it being able to accept that goodness is salvation, I’m at a loss.

You’re assuming that someone has to believe the entire bible in order to be a Christian. Please tell me if I’m misinterpreting. If I’m not, please tell me how that’s an objective necessity. Because I certainly have met Christians who accept me as gay because they’ve learned how to read the bible as a guide, and not an instruction booklet.

Seek's avatar

You don’t have an answer, do you?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

“You’re assuming that someone has to believe the entire bible in order to be a Christian.” you are absolutely misinterpreting.

If you haven’t gathered from this and previous conversations that I do not believe that, then I’m not really sure how to make it any more clear. You’re saying that we should be asking if they see the discrepancies. Okay. Most of them do, they don’t need baby steps. They just don’t see the relevance.
Where many atheists struggle to understand who draws all of these lines. Who decides how much of the Bible should be taken literally, and how much shouldn’t? If the Bible is the word of god, then what is with all of the cherry picking? At least, I wonder.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

An answer to what?

iamthemob's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie

No, I’m not asking you to do anything. What I’m asking is if you think that assumptions about what they believe is at all productive, and if you feel like making dismissive comments about them is productive.

There are a multitude of theological interpretations about what divine inspiration means. About the work of cannonization. This has changed over time. Why are atheists struggling with who draws the lines instead of asking where an individual draws the line. If you don’t want to, fine. But then if you need to get into a theological conversation with someone who is a Christian, or Muslim, or Jew, or Deist – a quick way to make sure it will go wrong, I think, is to assume that they believe in all the minutiae of the religion that you get from the bible and then attack those bits of minutiae as illogical.

Seek's avatar

For the fourth time:

Is the Bible a valid source, is it an invalid source, or if neither is true, what is the method used to determine which portions are valid and which are not?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@iamthemob I’ve already made it clear that I don’t think in such a black and white way. You keep pushing as though I do, but I’m not sure why. I know that they do not all believe every detail literally. Maybe not even at all in some cases. And some do! I am not so foolish that I don’t recognize that there are varying degrees of religious belief and spirituality that fall all over the spectrum.
I do think that dismissing certain points in the Bible is productive. If someone is going to tell me that slavery is acceptable or that homosexuality is an abomination, I would see nothing wrong with confidently saying that the Bible is wrong on those points. I am willing to put my foot down and say that I believe it is unacceptable to believe such things. That doesn’t mean that I believe that every Christian believes it to be true. If you think that none of them do, then you are the one who is fooling yourself.

Now I know your retort is going to be that you didn’t say that none of them believe that, but that is exactly what you are doing to me.

iamthemob's avatar

The bible is totally a valid source for a moral philosophy. The individual assertions or lessons within it can be determined as valid or invalid by showing how the lessons produce generally beneficial or harmful results in society.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@iamthemob but is it necessary? Can human beings have a firm and sufficient grasp on moral philosophy without it?

iamthemob's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie

Wait – what? I’m slightly confused now, because my responses have only been based on what you’ve said, not what I assume to believe about any group that you belong to.

Although it might indeed be motivated by what I feel atheists seem to generally state in their arguments. However, I was from the beginning asking (1) is that okay, and (2) why dropping insulting comments shouldn’t be considered as making prejudicial remarks about a group. Nothing that I’ve done to you has done that – I’ve definitely made assumptions, but as part of a critical analysis of the argument, which from the beginning I thought was productive.

So what are you saying I’m dong to you, so I’m not misinterpreting.

iamthemob's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie

but is it necessary? Can human beings have a firm and sufficient grasp on moral philosophy without it?

Does it matter if it’s necessary? Also, although not necessary, I think at this point it’s kind of inescapable as a reference.

Seek's avatar

@iamthemob In that case, I would call it a “poor source” to say the least.

When one considers the character of the so-called-benevolent God, and his rampant violence, it is no wonder that the history of Christianity is written in blood of infidel and devoted follower alike.

I firmly believe wisdom is wisdom, no matter how come by. However, one must be able to discern the good from the bad, the moral from the amoral, and leave the rest behind. We all do the same with Greco-Roman Mythology, Norse mythology, Egyptian mythology… why have we not let go this one deity, and continue to not only defend it, but demand unearned respect from all – believer or non?

When one has to tear out more pages than one keeps, why hold back from tearing out the one that demands fealty?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I feel like this discussion is going in circles. I don’t think I have it in me to do it anymore. So, I’ll wrap it up by reiterating my stance: I do not believe that it is the same as prejudice against race, sexuality, gender, etc. Religion is a set of ideas, a grouping of beliefs.. which at least to some degree you choose to adhere to. It is not considered prejudice to consider someone who holds racist ideals “ignorant.”, so this is not much different. Beliefs can be changed and have always been open to criticism by those who believe differently. In that regard, it is different.
I do not agree with hate or bashing of any sort, for any reason. I do see why emotions fly high on subjects like faith and absence of faith because they are ideologies that people are passionate about and that they hold very close to their heart. We all want to be right in the end because we all stand to gain or lose by being right or wrong.

I think that covers it. I’m out.

fundevogel's avatar

Skipping over stuff. Though I see a lot of good comments.

@iamthemob “I repeatedly stated that I didn’t necessarily think you were prejudiced, or ignorant – just that the statement made initially can easily be interpreted as being so, and makes it difficult to respond in a reasoned manner”

Here’s the bottom line, I have beat beating my brow defending the giving and withholding of respect according to merit and you turn a round a say things like:

“You just argued that it makes more sense to be prejudiced against someone who believes in a god than in someone because of their race or sexuality.”

You can’t compare my criticism of religion with gaybashers and then claim that you never meant I was prejudiced. To have and defend a prejudiced view is to be prejudiced. You can’t think my views are prejudiced without thinking I am prejudiced. You can’t back out of that just because you can’t argue with my explanation of why my criticism and bashing is not prejudiced.

And it’s simply disingenuous to back off from the accusation that:

“This is the essence of prejudice – reducing an ideology to a statement.”

and switch over to claim that, you didn’t think I was prejudiced, but that:

“You do mis-characterize, though:”

But that won’t stop me from rebutting that too. I like arguments where I can reference undeniable evidence.

I asked “Does it make sense to think one or more invisible supernatural entities control the whole world, read minds, and love the smell of burnt animals?”

1. God is an Invisible, Supernatural Entity
You argue that is a mis-characterization because God was at one point a burning bush among other things. Perhaps you were grasping for the mist often personified as God on Mt. Sinai? If I had said burning bush in my statement you would have crucified me for cherry picking an absurd characterization of God. And you would be kinda justified, deifying a burning bush is was crazier than being invisible. Plus, the burning bush doesn’t represent how people usually see (or don’t see) God, like it or not most Christians do seem to think of YHWH as an invisible, immaterial entity. And as far as I can tell there is no difference between that and an invisible supernatural entity. But then you suggest the very notion of invisibility is invalid saying:

“Are atoms invisible? Not necessarily, it’s just that we’ve only recently been able to perceive them. Is time invisible? Not necessarily, it’s just that we’ve recently begun to understand exactly how it is to be perceived.”

Here’s the thing. Atoms are for all practical purposes invisible, you’re confusing detection with visibility. God is neither visible nor detectable making him both invisible and undetectable. Time is a measurement not an entity so it doesn’t even make sense speak of its visibility. I can’t see an ampere or taste a parabola either, that doesn’t mean invisibility or tastelessness are useless terms.

2. God is a mind-reader
You question the definition of mind-reader to get God off that hook.

“Whether or not God reads minds depends on how we look at what this means.”

I’m going use the usual definition of the word

mind reading – the ability to discern the thoughts of others without the normal means of communication, esp. by means of a preternatural power.

So can God do this? According the Bible he can [1] [2] [3]. Honestly God’s mind reading ability is central to Christianity. Prayer would a futile activity if he couldn’t hear your silent message to him. That or maybe you think he can only hear prayers when they are spoken out loud? That would be pretty shitty for all the silent prayers. All those moments of silence wasted for believers. Once again my claim about god is what believers themselves say.

3. God Loves the Smell of Burning Animals
You don’t even seem to want to address this one.

“Who knows? But where are the ritual sacrifices if this is deeply held these days, I ask.”

Well Orthodox Jews do, A. J. Jacobs participates in an animal sacrifice in New York as part of his attempt to live the Bible literally. He doesn’t do it on his own, his advising Rabbi takes him to a traditional annual ritual where plenty of other obedient Jews buy livestock (goats I think) and pay someone to kill and burn them for God on their behalf. They do it, as ancient Jews did, because it says in their holy book that God likes the smell of burning animals. Christians tend to ignore what God demands in the Old Testament. This is because Christianity is a faith based religion while Judaism is a ritual based religion.

But lets get it from the horse’s mouth shall we? A Bible Gateway search has 37 unique instances of the phrase “aroma pleasing to the Lord”, they are all about burning animals. I’m assuming the Bible doesn’t always use the same phrase when referring to God’s enjoyment of the smell of burnt animals, but I figure 37 examples is enough to show I wasn’t mis-characterizing YHWH.

“This is the problem…the attempt to focus the questions still on the most simple and arguably boring aspects of the question, and then sitting back and feeling satisfied. It is both arrogant, and at the same time makes the opponent seem exactly how one has made the argument – simple and boring.”

I don’t see anything simple or boring about defending a few simple observations about religion against claims that I’m just bashing religion. I’m sorry if my refusal to have my references to verifiable religious claims written off as religious bashing comparable to hate speech bores you. Clearly you think facts are far too banal to be relevant to rational discussion. That must be the case since your response to my list of religious claims I confirmed above was to call them opinions devoid of reason:

”How is this an opinion arrived at with reason, when it is an absurd reduction?”

I am a person that believes that it is always preferable to believe true things rather than false things. This is why I am opposed to systems of thought, like religion, that eschew rational scrutiny and appeal to faith. It is my conviction that facts matter and that no idea is immune to criticism that that keeps my spitting fire when people tell me that it’s not right for me to criticize what they will not.

Gratuitous quotes:

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion(s), they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”—John Adams

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”—George Orwell

fundevogel's avatar

That was a kidney stone.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

Fine. Do whatever you want. Wonder why people believe what they do. Hold them accountable for their mistakes because of it.

Now, will you finally answer my question, or do you not have an answer for it?

Seek's avatar

* smile *

And which question would that be?

Loried2008's avatar

My head hurts >.<

iamthemob's avatar

@fundevogel

So, you had to just expand your initial, one line, into a long explanation of what you meant. Therefore, you reduced the argument to a ridiculous line that didn’t contain any of the substance that you wanted, and thought that answered the question.

However, you want to seem like you’re not prejudiced because you take a critical approach to the bible? So a critical approach to the bible means you have authority to judge a complicated system of beliefs?

This is the problem – a constant critical examination of the bible and the tenets of the religion is an important process. When you make little quips about religion, that’s not what you’re doing. You’re making quips about something that many people take as a central part of the identity, so when they read it, it’s reasonable to think, “Does that what @fundevogel thinks about me?”

I just don’t understand what you’re trying to do. Are you trying to show that criticism is not prejudice? Read back – I never said it was. Are you trying to say that you’re not prejudiced? Read back – I said you were coming off that way because of that statement. And it is exactly those statements that I was asking about from the beginning.

No one is saying that you need to respect the belief. However, if you attribute beliefs that could be held by members to all members, that’s prejudiced. If you’re making a statement that seems to do that, your making a statement that can be easily interpreted as prejudiced.

So your argument was, it’s not equivalent because it’s reasonable to think having sex with someone of the same gender is fine, but it’s not reasonable to believe in an invisible, mind-reading, meat-loving god, that you can make fun of Christians all you want and it’s not on the same level as making fun or bashing gays.

Does that seem like an argument we should be making?

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

Do you consider making generalized or insulting statements about Christians the equivalent of prejudice? If not, why not? How is it productive? If it’s not productive, why does it seem so common?

Seek's avatar

I do not consider it to be prejudice. I consider it “judgment based on experience, knowledge and reason”, which would exclude the term “prejudice” by definition.

It is completely possible to make a generalized statement about a group – because it is a group and has chosen to identify as a single body. The statement “Christianity takes its core tenets from a book that advocates rape, slavery, and genocide” is not a flawed statement, nor is it prejudice. It is a fact.

“All Christians believe women should be silent in church” is not prejudice, it is simply a flawed and untrue statement.

“I hate all Christians” is a prejudicial statement. However, no one has said that.

“I hate Christianity” is a judgement based on knowledge of the core tenets of the religion, and not a prejudicial statement.

Speaking out against that which is flawed, devoid of logic, or harmful to society (as many atheists, myself included, believe Christianity to be) is necessary in hope of drawing attention to the facts to which we are privy, and allowing people to decide for themselves whether to hold their beliefs.

I don’t want to get too personal in this thread, but it was talking to non-believers about why they didn’t believe, or why they ceased believing, that allowed me to realise the reason I was so unhappy in my religion, and to ultimately leave it without the least remorse or guilt. That is why speaking out against organized religion is not only productive, but essential to the moral growth of our culture.

No one is happier than I am that there are some Christians that don’t hate gay people, that don’t believe a woman will burn in hell for having an abortion, or that support a person’s right to nonbelief. However, they are still promoting the organization that does support those harmful, amoral stances, and raising their children in a method that exposes them to those ideas.

Does it sound like I’m proselytizing? I’m sure it does. And I am. I worked for 15 years on the wrong team. I have a lot of sin to atone for. I preached a lot of hate for a long time. I was a Sunday School teacher. Over 300 kids in ten years got to hear me tell them their grandmothers went to hell because they didn’t follow every letter of the Bible.

As happy as I was every time I saw someone darken my church’s door, so much happier am I these days, when I hear of another person dropping the chains of religion.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

The funny thing is…it’s people like you that have actually started turning me to organized religion, because there’s this amazingly arrogant element to your argument, particularly in the way that you frame it. From what I’ve seen of you all, atheists take the most simplistic view of religion, which is why I have been wondering whether I should associate myself with them as a group or as a position because I would be grouped in with the people whose arguments, as the above, I find so morally distasteful.

It’s pretty much the reason why I am beginning to hate atheism. I can only base how atheists think on how they frame their arguments. The way they reduce arguments to the most ridiculous of statements. How they improperly compare things like “god” and “Santa Clause,” how they use anecdotal evidence that is proof of a misheld belief as proof that the entire belief is misheld, and how they attempt to apply the scientific method as the only real method of reasonable analysis to arguments that are inherently meta physical.

You’ve let your personal experience sour your analysis. If this is the kind of reason associated with how atheists feel they get to judge people…well…then you can’t really judge me for feeling that atheism seems like the last refuge of the dull-witted and reactive.

DominicX's avatar

@iamthemob

So do you think it’s okay to assume that Christians are homophobes, want women to be subservient, condemn all other people, and to make comments to such belief?

If we define “Christian” to mean “someone who takes the Bible literally word for word” then yes, I can assume that someone who does take the Bible literally word for word believes that women should not speak in the churches as Paul says in his letter to Timothy and that homosexuals and the effeminate will not enter the kingdom of heaven, as Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians. These people take the Bible literally.

Not all Christians do consider that the Bible should be followed word for word on a literal basis, therefore I cannot make that assumption about Christians in general. I have met Christians that do not believe that. Likewise, many Christians simply choose to ignore the less favorable parts of the Bible. However, the paradoxical message I receive from some Christians, “the Bible is perfect, but ignore the bad parts” does not sit well with me. If the Bible is perfect, then there are no “bad parts”, there is nothing to ignore.

So…you think it’s better for people to be rigid adherents to the bible rather than adapt their beliefs to modern times?

Again, it depends on how you view the Bible. I have met Christians who say the Bible is absolute. Just because it was written in older times does not mean it adapts to modern times. Women are no longer subservient to men in modern American society, but the Bible still says women are to answer to their husband and should not speak in the churches. There are Christians that follow that exactly the way it says without adapting it to modern times at all. There are very few statements one can make about “all Christians”. They believe different things and many of them cannot agree on how the Bible is to be interpreted.

Loried2008's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr “Christianity takes its core tenets from a book that advocates rape, slavery, and genocide” Where in the bible does it advocate rape? I’m not trying to start an argument I was just curious cause I’ve never seen it.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

“well…then you can’t really judge me for feeling that atheism seems like the last refuge of the dull-witted and reactive.”

…. really?

iamthemob's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie

Really. It’s all that I’ve seen so far. And I’m trying not to. But it @Seek_Kolinahr feels like she can be flippant and dismissive of Christians, and it’s not prejudice, why should I feel like atheism deserves anything else?

Seek's avatar

@Loried2008

I could list it myself, but I happen to have this wonderful link

Not the least of which is Lot turning over his two virgin daughters to a rape gang in order to “save” the stranger who came to visit.

DominicX's avatar

@iamthemob

So you use one person to judge everyone. You really aren’t “above” anything, you do realize that.

Seek's avatar

When was I flippant or dismissive?

You can’t choose to be an atheist, nor can you convert to atheism. You either believe in a god, or you don’t.

If you believe in a god – at all – you’re not an atheist. So I really couldn’t care less if you’re “turning away from atheism”. If a disagreement can alter your mind so that you can invent belief in a deity in order to not be atheistic, then don’t be one. You’re not breaking any hearts, and no one’s losing any tithes.

iamthemob's avatar

@DominicX

Not really, though…again, if you look at the other thread, and threads, its repeated, over and over again.

It just seems like atheism requires no intellectual investigation, and allows people to sit in a position of superiority. It seems kind of lame.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Wait, so you are basing your judgment on the whole based on the actions of a few people? I don’t recall being flippant or dismissive. I do not consider myself superior to anyone. Let me just make that clear.

DominicX's avatar

@iamthemob

The only reason I consider myself no longer a Christian is because of “intellectual investigation”. I was not believing what those around me were believing. The idea that the Bible was perfect but flawed at the same time caused me to shy away from religion. The idea that people can be punished infinitely for finite crimes didn’t sit well with me and caused me to shy away from religion. The idea that out of all the religions in the world, this one has it right (despite that most religions think that way) didn’t make sense to me. I was not believing it anymore. Most atheists I’ve met have similar reasons for being an atheist.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

See @Loried2008‘s question. She seems like a thoroughly open-minded Christian, and yet you said The statement “Christianity takes its core tenets from a book that advocates rape, slavery, and genocide” is not a flawed statement, nor is it prejudice. It is a fact.

What a horrifying thing to say, and yet you rest in the calming argument that it’s a fact. Really, what you’ve done is take the concept, and the main text, and made a statement that easily sends the message that because the Bible advocates rape, etc….Christianity must be bad because it’s central tenets come from the Bible. That’s rhetoric. I’m sorry, but it’s also flippant.

iamthemob's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie

You weren’t at all…but @Seek_Kolinahr seems to think that demeaning statements to a Christian should not be considered prejudicial, and are instead based on observation. I’ve observed arguments of the types mentioned over and over and so, if I am being fair, and using this type of argument, it’s not prejudicial for me to state that from what I’ve seen atheism doesn’t require any real intellectual investment.

It’s a “what’s good for the goose, is good for the gander” statement – but it’s based on everything that I’ve seen from atheistic arguments. I understand why people wouldn’t believe there’s a god. I don’t a lot of the times, and as I said would qualify as a weak atheist. However, I shy from associating with them because I have a negative impression. Christians, recently, have shown me, as a gay man, nothing but compassion. Why doesn’t it seem more reasonable, then, to assume that my life might be morally and emotionally enriched by exploring the church?

iamthemob's avatar

@DominicX

But do you need the church to be a Christian?

DominicX's avatar

@iamthemob

I don’t know. That’s exactly my problem. I don’t know what you “need” to be a Christian. Some tell me that by being gay, I cannot be a Christian because of what the Bible says about homosexuality. Some tell me that I need to believe the earth is 6000 years old (which I simply do not), some tell me that I need to believe in Hell (I simply do not believe in Hell). I can’t make my personal beliefs match many beliefs of Christianity, therefore I can’t consider myself a Christian.

I don’t consider myself an atheist because I am open to possibility that God exists, but if God does exist, then it is not the sexist homophobic God that people like the Westboro Baptist Church preach of. It is not the God that delights in sending people to Hell, is jealous, or spiteful and vengeful. But again, at this point in my life, I do not really believe that God exists.

iamthemob's avatar

@DominicX

I don’t know what you “need” to be a Christian.

Is that what you meant to say? Because no one’s sayig anything about you needing to be a Christian. That’s not the argument. But I think comments generalizing Christianity are harmful as those generalizing anything.

Criticism yes…judgment, no. But I can’t help but see a sense of moral authority and superiority coming from atheism through athiests that I just don’t get.

DominicX's avatar

@iamthemob

“I don’t know what is required of you in order to be considered a Christian” would be a better way to word that grammatically confusing sentence that I wrote.

I criticize, yes. It is these criticisms that have not been reconciled for me that prevent me from being a Christian. I have too many questions that cannot be answered. I have too many issues that are unresolved. These prevent me from believing in a God, and specifically from being a Christian.

Loried2008's avatar

@thekoukoureport

… Judges 21:10–24 The last part of that scripture was left out…

25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.

I only read the first example, because as a whole I view the Old Testament nothing more than a history lesson.

No one is happier than I am that there are some Christians that don’t hate gay people, that don’t believe a woman will burn in hell for having an abortion, or that support a person’s right to nonbelief. However, they are still promoting the organization that does support those harmful, amoral stances, and raising their children in a method that exposes them to those ideas.

Does it sound like I’m proselytizing? I’m sure it does. And I am. I worked for 15 years on the wrong team. I have a lot of sin to atone for. I preached a lot of hate for a long time. I was a Sunday School teacher. Over 300 kids in ten years got to hear me tell them their grandmothers went to hell because they didn’t follow every letter of the Bible

No true Christian should hate anyone. I have never heard it be promoted to hate people or to condemn people. My parents raised me in a Christian home and some of their best friends were gay. I have never been “exposed” to those kinds of ideas. I don’t seem to remember anyone saying anything about following every letter of the bible in my childhood church… :( What kind of church did you attend?

Luke 10
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[c]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 3 2So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Well, first of all… whether or not you agree or disagree with @Seek_Kolinahr‘s responses or her approach, insinuating that she is dull witted is pretty far fetched.

Assuming that atheism is for the “reactive” is ridiculous. Most, of not all of us, have thought very long and hard about where we stand today. If we happen to be wrong there may be potentially devastating consequences to face. That isn’t something that most people take with a grain of salt.

If you are making these statements to prove your point, I suppose you must feel like that is your last chance to get your side across. However, I don’t really get the impression that this is to make a statement. I feel like what you’re saying rings true, that you really do take issue with atheism. That leads me to think that you care very little about harmony and fairness between the two. In which case I feel a bit foolish for trying to patiently come to common ground on an issue that you were secretly quite biased about.

iamthemob's avatar

@DominicX

And that’s a position I can understand. That’s one from which you are seeking information, not demanding justification.

And…I’m right there with you. (although I was never a Christian).

Loried2008's avatar

Jesus seems in his teaching to say all you need to obtain eternal life is this:

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

So no I don’t gather from this that a church is necessary…

iamthemob's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie

I absolutely take issue with atheism. But by necessity, since there is a claim that atheism is not a group, etc., I can only be exposed to atheists. So it’s weird to hear anything said about atheism in general when atheists seem to always say “atheism is not organized it’s only a lack of belief.” So for me to say that I hate atheism shouldn’t really bring up any feelings. And if atheism is just a lack of belief, it isn’t an intellectually interesting position. It’s the lack of an intellectual position.

Whether you came to the position through a good deal of thought, the criticism that I’ve seen against belief, religion, etc., come from using improper models of analysis (scientific method), rhetorical devices (using “supernatural” rather than “metaphysical”), and simplified versions of the argument along with anectodal evidence and cherry-picking of their own. Should I respect that if that’s all I’ve been shown? No. And should I feel justified in being flippant about it when, apparently, it’s not prejudicial and all criticism is constructive? When I’m working in @Seek_Kolinahr‘s world.

Talking about Christian/atheist relations specifically is the topic of another thread. My flippancy was solely argumentative. My assessment of how atheists approach these issues is based on my personal (and I might add, thorough as it has not been limited to this site, and instead based on reading and watching various presentations) observations of the way that they have almost universally argued their positions.

DominicX's avatar

@iamthemob

What kind of argument would satisfy you? I can only explain my lack of a belief in God so far. I’ve already explained it. What do you want from someone who does not believe in God?

(I know you are not addressing me specifically, but you are talking about atheists and since I consider myself an “agnostic atheist” I could be included in whom you are talking about).

iamthemob's avatar

@DominicX

Oh, I understand why there’s doubt. I understand nonbelief. What I don’t understand is when the argument proceeds as “prove god to me” and they work from a position where they point out problems with the bible, and then say that the bible has to be 100% or it’s nothing, and if it’s not 100%, and you can’t provide sufficient proof, the conclusion from the atheists is “Ah! See! I’m reasonable. Your irrational. [There is no Gawd] (bracketed to show this isn’t always a conclusion). My position is the best.” That, unfortunately, is not reducing the argument – since it’s only the conclusion, and it’s the only one I’ve seen from atheists generally.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Christians almost universally argue their position based on faith. I can’t say that I’ve heard many arguments for atheism that I disagree with, but I am an atheist. I can say that, personally, I came to my own conclusions when I simply did not have the ability to believe it anymore. It doesn’t make sense, it is full of holes, it boils down the one core thing.. and that is that I find it absurd to believe in. For me. I don’t care much what anyone else believes, aside from gathering perspective, as long as they aren’t hurting other people. Most of the atheists that I’ve discussed this with feel the same way. We do not have guidelines laid out for us, we do not have a mission to spread our word, we aren’t doing anyone’s work. Converting me to Christianity may allow someone to feel as though they have done a good deed, that they have saved my soul.
If you dislike atheism, fine. Plenty of people dislike atheism. Plenty of people dislike atheists. I don’t think you should come at this like you are trying to level the playing field, when you have actually chosen a side.. and you are doing exactly what you are asking atheists not to do.
In all fairness, atheists do quote scripture in debate. So do Christians. Atheists cite lack of evidence for their non-belief, Christians cite faith. Christians believe that they have found something wonderful, beautiful, true and pure. Atheists believe they have found something most likely true (since there seems to be a split between those who believe there is no god beyond a shadow of a doubt, and those who admit that we can’t be certain) and logical.
What kind of argument do you want in retaliation to “I see god all around me” or “The Bible says…” or “I know god is real because I have faith.”

Let’s be realistic here. It isn’t like one side is concrete and one isn’t. We are all on equally unstable ground, hoping that when our time comes that we made the right decision and lived our lives in the best way possible.

My argument is that claiming that there is an almighty, all knowing, invisible being ruling over us and expecting us to live based on a book that is obviously flawed, written by man… years after the death of Jesus…. requires damn good proof for me to accept it as truth. Until then, I’m quite comfortable in my conclusion that it is not true. If you believe that means that I find myself somehow superior to those that do not require the same proof… well, that’s on you, not me. Because I certainly don’t feel that way. Again. I don’t need the Bible, I don’t need god, I don’t need the teachings of Jesus to tell me how to live my life. I do well by myself, by the people around me, by my surroundings because I love life. It is innate. If god put it there, awesome. I hope that god is just and sees that I do everything that I can to be a genuinely good person on this earth. No one is asking you to be an atheist. If you feel so strongly about it, find the belief system that works for you. Just don’t expect me, or anyone else, to pussyfoot around everything that might offend you just because you’re uncertain of your own faith.

iamthemob's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie

Let’s be realistic here. It isn’t like one side is concrete and one isn’t. We are all on equally unstable ground, hoping that when our time comes that we made the right decision and lived our lives in the best way possible.

To be honest, I feel awkward debating these points with you, as I believe you have the most practical and honest approach (not unique, because others on this site share it) to your atheism I’ve seen.

I think it’s mostly because of the above statement. Discussions regarding the metaphysical are problematic because people generally like to be right – me included. But they aren’t the kind of arguments where there is, more than likely, a right answer that we’ll discover. But we can get closer to a right answer.

The problem with a generally dismissive attitude that seems consistent in a lot of the more flippant posts regarding Christianity, as well as other religions, is that it prevents one side of the discussion from comfortably entering. This isn’t about coddling. This isn’t about believing they’re right, or deserve a reverent approach in the discussion. But they do deserve not to have their points reduced to the most vile aspects of a millenia old tradition before they even get a chance to speak. That’s what these comments do.

Again – this isn’t about being critical. It’s about being decent. @TheOnlyNeffie – I think you’re TOTALLY decent, personally

fundevogel's avatar

This is in response to this comment by @iamthemob

You know, the last post you made to me completely ignored the content of my post. You dismissed me. I’m not not sure why you would be angry at how I have treated you (assuming that your angry complaints that atheists are arrogant, intellectually lazy and superior, flippant and dissmissive apply to me) . I have consistently put time and effort into my responses and your latest response completely ignored everything I had to say, apparently dismissing it as worthless since it only explained a position you have been attacking me for this entire time. That isn’t an argument. That’s refusing to engage. Despite the fact that you have ignored me and my points I have responded to yours.

“So, you had to just expand your initial, one line, into a long explanation of what you meant.”

What do you mean? I was answering the question you directed at me here. the conversation that followed led me to believe that you had no idea that those things actually are consistent with YHWH.

“Therefore, you reduced the argument to a ridiculous line that didn’t contain any of the substance that you wanted, and thought that answered the question.”

I’m not sure what question you’re referring to. Unless it was the one my very first answer was to. The one that you dismissed as a prejudiced opinion and later dismissed as mis-characterizing religion.

“However, you want to seem like you’re not prejudiced because you take a critical approach to the bible?”

I already answered this here.

“So a critical approach to the bible means you have authority to judge a complicated system of beliefs?”

It is impossible to judge without employing criticism. To sneer at the use of criticism is to abandon reason altogether. And nothing I criticized is even remotely complicated.

“This is the problem – a constant critical examination of the bible and the tenets of the religion is an important process”

Which is it? Am I wrong for being critical or is necessary and right?

“When you make little quips about religion, that’s not what you’re doing. You’re making quips about something that many people take as a central part of the identity, so when they read it, it’s reasonable to think, “Does that what @fundevogel thinks about me?”

So all of the time I spent crafting this and this and this and this and this is just me being flippant and dismissive of you and religion.

Is this what you think about me? That the time, thought and source checking I have spent on you is just a little quip? Do you really want me to think the time and words I devote to you are so worthless to you? I’m not the one that spent all morning making three sentence responses.

“I just don’t understand what you’re trying to do. Are you trying to show that criticism is not prejudice. Read back – I never said it was.”

I read back to the beginning of this very post to where you incredulously ask me,

“So a critical approach to the bible means you have authority to judge a complicated system of beliefs?”

If that isn’t a case of writing off criticism as nothing more than justification of prejudice I don’t know what is.

“Are you trying to say that you’re not prejudiced? Read back – I said you were coming off that way because of that statement. And it is exactly those statements that I was asking about from the beginning.”

I already addressed this here.

“No one is saying that you need to respect the belief.”

And yet the whole reason I’m here is because you object to me suggesting that believing in an invisible, mind-reading, meat-sniffing God, characterizations I have demonstrated to be consistent with YHWH, is no more than callous ridicule.

“However, if you attribute beliefs that could be held by members to all members, that’s prejudiced.”

I didn’t. I’ve just been talking about religion’s with claims of invisible, mind-reading and meat-sniffing gods and why I am justified in commenting about them.

“So your argument was, it’s not equivalent because it’s reasonable to think having sex with someone of the same gender is fine, but it’s not reasonable to believe in an invisible, mind-reading, meat-loving god, that you can make fun of Christians all you want and it’s not on the same level as making fun or bashing gays.”

exactly.

“Does that seem like an argument we should be making?”

Why not? as I said before:

There is a big difference between criticizing (or bashing) a person for an idea and criticizing them for an attribute. Ideas can be demonstrated to be good or bad. Attributes like “Hispanic”, “gay” and “female“ on the other hand are neutral. They can’t be demonstrated to be right or wrong any more than “plaid” or “hairy” can be. Any judgment about the value of being “gay”, “plaid” or “hairy” is subjective. Ideas aren’t so lucky.Cleaned up for clarity. The original is here.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@iamthemob first, I’m certain you’re right in that I am not unique in my viewpoints. I have met many people that feel very much as I do. Atheism may not be an organization, we do not have dogma or traditions, congregations or rituals.. but we are a group of people that share a similar view. We don’t believe in god. Often that leads us to many of the same conclusions on other subjects related to religion and spirituality, but there is simply no set guideline beyond not believing in god.

Secondly, I’m not in any hurry to find answers. I’m content. That is just my personal stance. I am 100% comfortable with the phrase “I don’t know.”

I’m not fond of the dismissive attitude, I’ve already made that clear above. I like to think that I do my best to be respectful of those around me, as long as they are showing me the same courtesy. I will admit, and I have said it before, that non-believers tend to be a bit more vocal here on Fluther, possibly even pushing into the majority. However, this is not a microcosm for the real world. I don’t see people out on the streets bashing Christians for being irrational. If anything, which I’ve already said.. I feel like an idiot repeating myself so much tonight.. it is often the opposite. Maybe not so blatantly, but discrimination against nonbelievers is relatively acceptable. I have experienced it personally on countless occasions. I know that many atheists have also had similar, even worse, experiences to mine. Perhaps anger, frustration, defensiveness play into it. Again, we are all human. You have demonstrated yourself in this very thread how easy it is to let emotions take hold in discussions that are so personal. Sometimes a tough outer shell is the only way you feel you can protect yourself from what you have learned will be hate or distrust in you, based simply on your beliefs. I am not going to lie and say that I can’t understand why people can get defensive and pissed off, and even downright rude.. because I am too. I’m human.

Nice of you to say so, thanks.

iamthemob's avatar

@fundevogel

And yet the whole reason I’m here is because you object to me suggesting that believing in an invisible, mind-reading, meat-sniffing God, characterizations I have demonstrated to be consistent with YHWH, is no more than callous ridicule.

I objected to you saying that because it’s unreasonable to believe the above, then Christianity is fair game for whatever kind of flippant comments you want to make about it. I’m not trying to assume that you carry a prejudice against Christians because of this one statement, and that it was the statement itself alone, but your consistent attempts to argue that it’s okay to say flippant things and not come off that way are making it difficult.

Arguing why you think these are appropriate criticisms of the religion is of no consequence, because at no point was criticism ever brought into question. And the criticism of ideas is not criticism, again, of an entire belief system that includes many, many texts outside the bible as well as thousands of years of interpretive tradition (which I know you know).

And in the end, this is what you come back to:

“So your argument was, it’s not equivalent because it’s reasonable to think having sex with someone of the same gender is fine, but it’s not reasonable to believe in an invisible, mind-reading, meat-loving god, that you can make fun of Christians all you want and it’s not on the same level as making fun or bashing gays.”

exactly.

“Does that seem like an argument we should be making?”

Why not? as I said before:

There is a big difference between criticizing (or bashing) a person for an idea and criticizing them for an attribute. Ideas can be demonstrated to be good or bad. Attributes like “Hispanic”, “gay” and “female“ on the other hand are neutral. They can’t be demonstrated to be right or wrong any more than “plaid” or “hairy” can be. Any judgment about the value of being “gay”, “plaid” or “hairy” is subjective. Ideas aren’t so lucky.

So…Christianity is an idea. A single idea. Rather than a complex belief system that has been interpreted in a mind-boggling variety of ways, and has developed and changed with time, and is different with each of its adherents.

Because there’s always an uncertainty in what we’re talking about when we talk about Christianity, it’s arguably just as neutral. You’ve taken some very simple elements to describe the idea. You know that it doesn’t. So why is it okay to extrapolate from your ability to critique these elements that “Christianity” gets the rasperry?

I know you see the difference. It’s those simple, silly, mocking comments that disrupt the argument. How is anyone supposed to think you can have a discussion with them when that’s how you start it off? Then you have to backtrack, and flesh out, and yet feel justified in repeating it in the end.

I don’t understand how you don’t understand the potential destructive nature here.

iamthemob's avatar

@fundevogel

PS – again, the only time I think you were flippant was with that first line. The rest of the time was an attempt to show why it was okay to be so.

Seek's avatar

I still do not see where I was flippant or dismissive. @Loried2008 asked where the Bible advocated rape, and I provided a link that explores every instance of rape in the Bible in great detail, and provided a short example besides. That is the exact opposite of dismissive.

I’ll ignore the fact that the example you gave of my being “flippant and dismissive” occurred after you accused me of same. Perhaps the rest of our audience will do the same, perhaps not. ^_^

I would like to know, as @DominicX asked, what manner of argument against theism would satisfy you. Obviously, working “from the assumption that God exists” as your OP stated, is illogical. We do not begin with a conclusion and work from there.

The most logical course of action is to begin with a statement of hypothesis, for example: “There is a god and Jesus is his son” and then explore the supporting evidence. As in any science lab or even judicial court, when the evidence (in this case, the Bible) is called in to question, it can be either admitted or dismissed based on its own merit.

Why do we believe there is a god? The Bible says so. How do we know the Bible is true?

…and so the tale rolls on, with the nontheist seeking empirical evidence that supports the works of the Bible.

If someone can give me one reason to believe the Christian God is real, that can be empirically verified, I am more than open to hearing it. However, until that happens, the Bible is just a poorly edited ripoff of the Code of Hammurabi, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and ancient Egyptian folklore.

fundevogel's avatar

In response to this post.

@iamthemob “the criticism of ideas is not criticism, again, of an entire belief system that includes many, many texts outside the bible as well as thousands of years of interpretive tradition (which I know you know).”

“So…Christianity is an idea. A single idea. Rather than a complex belief system that has been interpreted in a mind-boggling variety of ways, and has developed and changed with time, and is different with each of its adherents. Because there’s always an uncertainty in what we’re talking about when we talk about Christianity, it’s arguably just as neutral.”

Ah I see, all of my criticism is invalid because you refuse to accept that anyone could possibly be capable of

A. identifying Christianity (though there have already been been several definitions posted)
B. criticizing a system as complex as Christianity (though many people have, doing it on fluther doesn’t even account for a tick on the time line of religious skepticism and Biblical criticism)

You aren’t arguing against my reasons for why I think religion is ridiculous, you’re arguing that no one can know what a given religion is let alone try to figure out if religion makes sense. That’s just anti-intellectualism. And for all the ideas or systems of ideas I’ve encountered religion is far from being the hardest to understand. I can handle religion. If you want hard take a look a 4-d objects, quantum theory and, on the simplier side of hard, neuroscience. And you know what? People have been doing a pretty good job of figuring those things out.

Assuming something is too complex to understand through study and analysis does nothing more than ensure that you never will.

I recommend you should stop worrying about what all us annoying atheists think and start reading the Bible yourself. Maybe you’ll find that what you were hoping was there, may be not. Either way it will be more productive than arguing about the characteristics and merit of a religion you don’t know very much about.

fundevogel's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I totally read the Code of Hammurabi this year. It was very progressive for 1700 BCE. They were concerned about orphans and widows. And the exchange rate between eyes.

196 – If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out.
198 – If he put out the eye of a freed man, or break the bone of a freed man, he shall pay one gold mina.
199 – If he put out the eye of a man’s slave, or break the bone of a man’s slave, he shall pay one-half of its value.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

Gay people did not choose to be gay, nor are they on a mission to “convert” the rest of us to their group.

The black/white/Aboriginal/immigrant community are not petitioning to force our children to learn mythology as science in public schools.

Men/women/transgendered/nongendered people don’t knock on our doors at all hours of the day threatening us with hellfire for not following a poorly edited book that’s between 1000 and 2000 years old.

Is that not a flippant view of Christianity, and religion generally? Just so you don’t have to ignore the issue regarding my previous example. This is the first thing you said – you argued that it was okay to be flippant about religion by being flippant about religion.

Whether there are examples of some horrific things in the bible isn’t at issue. When you use those as examples of why someone shouldn’t be Christian is assuming that those aspects are central to the religion, rather than peripheral. Or to the belief rather than peripheral.

You misinterpreted the “working from the assumption that god exists” bit. That was regarding how I can approach the issue of homosexuality as sinful as coming from a reasoned place. In fact, one needn’t assume god exists. For example, Buddhism generally deems sexuality as unproductive – not sinful, but a distraction from the real work. I was not asking you to work from that position. Is that what you thought I meant this entire time?

From my perspective, I don’t see evidence for God. I don’t see evidence against God. I don’t think it’s reasonable for anyone to argue logically that they have the answer hands down. Personally, I think that Denys Turner really does a good job about discussing atheism in The Atheist Tapes.

Believe what you want about the bible as a ripoff. I don’t disagree with you about the bible as a book. However, I don’t disregard that it contains truth. And if you’re truly interested in actively changing people’s perception about the truth of their religion…well, you know how well aggressive attacks work on you.

Seek's avatar

Flippant: adj-
frivolously disrespectful, shallow, or lacking in seriousness; characterized by levity

lev·i·ty   
–noun, plural -ties.
lightness of mind, character, or behavior; lack of appropriate seriousness or earnestness.

No, those comments were not at all flippant. They were factual, and a very honest reason. People do not have respect for Christianity because certain vocal Christian groups are very disrespectful to the rest of us.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t join clubs whose rules I dislike, and I don’t support organisations I don’t agree with. Whether the horrific tenets are central or peripheral doesn’t matter – they are still present, in a major way.

Yes, I do know how aggressive attacks work on me. They turned me from a hardcore Christian who only kept from outward violence against certain groups of people because the Bible told me to follow the law of my land, to a reasoning, logical atheist.

I’ll let you in on a secret: The reason I chose my old religion is because it was an all-or-nothing church. They took the Bible literally. Completely. No, the Old Testament wasn’t out-dated. Yes, it was an abomination for a woman to wear pants, and the only reason they didn’t kill nonvirgins on their wedding night was the afore-mentioned edict to follow the law of the land. But that was okay, because Jesus would sort the whores out later. That insanity made more sense to me than cherrypicking which parts of the Bible we liked, and which God really didn’t mean to end up in there. It was absurd to think that God would make a mistake.

Yes, to this day I agree the Bible contains some truths. Mostly in the book of Proverbs… but then, Solomon died an atheist, or at least a heathen. ^_^

iamthemob's avatar

@fundevogel

Ah I see, all of my criticism is invalid because you refuse to accept that anyone could possibly be capable of

A. identifying Christianity (though there have already been been several definitions posted)
B. criticizing a system as complex as Christianity (though many people have, doing it on fluther doesn’t even account for a tick on the time line of religious skepticism and Biblical criticism)

Not quite. I think your criticism is valid. I don’t think it validates, however, you being justified in referring to something which is deeply important to many people in a flippant manner. I don’t think it’s a reason to make those statements more acceptable than “homos can’t be monogamous” etc. More understandable? Maybe – but not acceptable.

To A.: “though there have already been several definitions posted.” Exactly. Will the real Christianity please stand up? ;-) Variety in the belief negates the productive value of most simple statements about it.

To B.: There; are many aspects of Christianity that can and should be criticized. Same thing with Medicine. Or the Big Bang theory. Although the later two provide methods of observable experimentation to test the criticism and Christianity does not so easily, the point is that it’s not the same kind of system where disproving certain parts of it make the entire system falsifiable. It’s not a scientific theory. There are ways to incorporate a modern understanding into the way the religion is expressed.

If you want hard take a look a 4-d objects, quantum theory and, on the simplier side of hard, neuroscience. And you know what? People have been doing a pretty good job of figuring those things out.

Of course they are…because there are answers. There are experiments that can be performed that offer clear observable evidence. As stated in the Denys Turner video I linked to, the method we have for asking questions actually dictates the kind of questions we can ask. The scientific method requires questions of how, that can be disproven through experimentation or observation.

I think the problem with the application is apparent when we deal with the social sciences. Trying to apply experimentation to prove how personality affects behavior has resulted in a weird mix of what appears more like pseudo science than anything else. Once you get people involved in it, it becomes too complex to nail down because people are all very different, and always changing. So it’s not hard because the concepts are hard – it’s hard because nearly everything involved is a variable.

Assuming something is too complex to understand through study and analysis does nothing more than ensure that you never will.

It’s not to complex to understand, but you’re never going to get the answer “this is Christianity” like you will “this is the neuron.” You will get a better and better understanding of what it is though.

I recommend you should stop worrying about what all us annoying atheists think and start reading the Bible yourself. Maybe you’ll find that what you were hoping was there, may be not. Either way it will be more productive than arguing about the characteristics and merit of a religion you don’t know very much about.

I don’t really worry about what you think. I worry about what you do. I have read the Bible. I have read the Gnostic Gospels. I’ve read and viewed material on the historical accounts and materials making up the Bible, as well as two great little books “God: A Biography” and “Jesus” or something or other, which approach the bible as a piece of lieterature with God as the main character. I know you’ve done a lot or research as well. I think your criticisms are very well thought out. I think your first statement, however, is ridiculous. And I think the fact that it’s appropriate to boil it down so and think you’re doing something meaningful is ridiculous.

I don’t know why you keep harping on your ability to criticize religion generally. I don’t care and didn’t comment on that. But when you boil it down the way that you did, you have taken out all the subtlety and made it just stupid. Not because it’s stupid, but because that’s how you’ve made it look.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

@iamthemob I don’t consider what i said bashing religion. The truth is uncomfortable sometimes. I am of the firm opinion you can believe what you want.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

You’ve again chosen one definition over the other:

frivolously disrespectful, shallow, or lacking in seriousness.

As these are disjunctive, any or all could apply. You’re stating that because there are bad things about religion, it is worthy of offhand, offensive, critical remarks. You may have reasons based on facts for doing so, but it’s a shallow characterization.

But it makes sense if you approach things with an absolutist perspective. Black or white, right or wrong, all or nothing – okay. That’s it.

Then that’s the fundamental reason why we will absolutely, I can assure you, never come to an agreement on this, or most other complex issues. I don’t believe in a right answer when it comes to these questions. I believe in a wrong one, and an answer that is better than the last, but not as good as the next. I don’t believe investing in a flawed system is a waste. I believe it might be productive. Again, I might be wrong, but I might also get an answer that was better than the last one.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie Your point about the Christian pushing religion on someone is a very valid pot. I find it offensive if someone tries that with me. As far as the santa claus/easter bunny/gawd relationships, I believe they are all constructs of man. I know for a fact santa and the easter bunny are and I’m all but positive gawd is also.

Seek's avatar

It is absolute. There are either one or more gods, or there are not. No one worships Schroedinger’s Jesus.

As of now, I’ve yet to see any compelling or even anecdotal evidence of the existence of a god. Thus, I approach life and any religious debate from that standpoint.

Christians claim belief in a deity. Since that deity is not known to actually exist, I have to look at what it is they actually believe in. That is the Bible. Thus, I debate from the standpoint of “the Bible is errant”.

iamthemob's avatar

@Russell_D_SpacePoet

Because Gawd is an imaginary being just as Santa, the easter bunny, etc.

That is not truth. That is an assertion. A lack of proof that something exists is not proof against its existence. And to compare something like God to Santa Clause is again, taking the base elements of it and throwing away the complexity.

A discussion of God shouldn’t be subject to evidentiary requirements, because the concept escapes full definition, observation, measurement, etc. “I believe in god” is a statement based on as much factual evidence as “I don’t believe in god.”

However, everything about the beliefs, practices, particular concept should be discussed. The problem still is you assume this is the truth. And even if it is the truth, do you really expect someone with an honest and profound belief in god to listen to you after you throw out something like that?

It’s dismissive. Personally, I think dismissing someone is pretty harsh – I’ve done it so rarely and I’m ashamed to admit I came damn close in this very thread. When that dismissal is attached to an entire belief, it’s character multiplies.

Let’s say I fervently believed in god. Have you, in the above, indicated to me, that I can talk to you and be respected?

Your point about the Christian pushing religion on someone is a very valid pot. I find it offensive if someone tries that with me. As far as the santa claus/easter bunny/gawd relationships, I believe they are all constructs of man. I know for a fact santa and the easter bunny are and I’m all but positive gawd is also.

I agree with @TheOnlyNeffie‘s point as well. But it seems that a lot of atheists are as dead-set in pushing their beliefs as well. To the point that they find it acceptable to belittle the other side without first engaging the other side, and stating that they don’t have to figure out what the other sides believes because they’re just wrong.

Belief is something that should be handled just as delicately by atheists as it should be Christians. This doesn’t preclude criticism, but it does preclude many of the statements I see in these threads.

Seek's avatar

We are not dismissing people. We are dismissing ideas. Flawed, irrational ideas likened to arguing for the practice of putting milk on our doorsteps in order to keep the Fairies from stealing our children from their beds at night.

Yes, God should absolutely be subject to evidentiary requirements. If he created the whole damn world in a week, he could at least send a postcard. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, particularly when the immortal souls of 15 billion people past and present hang in the balance.

Seek's avatar

I’m going to bed proud of myself for not stooping once to a personal attack. Good night.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

It is absolute. There are either one or more gods, or there are not.

Yes. So that’s the only absolute? Then why be committed to the idea, as it seems you are or were, that the bible is either true, or is not true? It seems you don’t agree that it can be analyzed, revised, or grow.

I have to look at what it is they actually believe in. That is the Bible.

So use of the Bible as a proxy for Christian belief is the best method. Disregarding theologist interpretation. Or discussions of the Gnostic Gospels, etc.

And which translation are you looking at? And do you include Mormons?

Looking at the bible as evidence provides as many problems for you if you’re trying to use it as objective evidence against the religion as it does for those using it as objective evidence for the religion.

We are dismissing ideas. Flawed, irrational ideas likened to arguing for the practice of putting milk on our doorsteps in order to keep the Fairies from stealing our children from their beds at night.

You are dismissing ideas, fine. But when you present those ideas as evidence as to why you think it’s okay to be flippant about religion, Christianity, etc., you are using the parts to demonstrate the faults in the whole. Again, that’s just faulty.

Yes, God should absolutely be subject to evidentiary requirements. If he created the whole damn world in a week, he could at least send a postcard. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, particularly when the immortal souls of 15 billion people past and present hang in the balance.

Nope. You’re using the Bible’s statements again to show how the existence of God can be disproven, instead of how parts of the bible, or interpretations of it, can be disproven. So again, when you reduce it so, you preclude people from being a part of the conversation in a reasonable way. You are asking people to self-censor.

And why, oh why, is this proof a necessary prerequisite for any sort of value to be drawn from the bible.

I’m going to bed proud of myself for not stooping once to a personal attack. Good night.

And yet you said : It’s okay @thekoukoureport – He only thinks it’s prejudice if he agrees with the voluntary social group’s practices. If the voluntary social group’s practices are disagreeable, feel free to tar their entire group with the colours of the group’s flag.

Who’s a hypocrite now?

Maybe you and I have different understandings of what a personal attack is.

fundevogel's avatar

In response to this post.

@iamthemob “not quite. I think your criticism is valid. I don’t think it validates, however, you being justified in referring to something which is deeply important to many people in a flippant manner.”

I’m indifferent to how much people care about their religion, I’m only concerned with if it is accurate and moral. There is no way in the world to tell people their sacred beliefs are wrong without compromising their feelings. Is it better to coddle a person with pleasant lies rather than directly address the merit of their belief system? I don’t think so.

“Variety in the belief negates the productive value of most simple statements about it.”

So I guess the fact that there are thousand of varieties of trees all different from eachother means no one can make any simple statements about trees. Regardless of their differences all trees and all Christians are subject to the same unifying factors that places them in the the category of “tree” or “Christian”.

“There; are many aspects of Christianity that can and should be criticized. Same thing with Medicine. Or the Big Bang theory. Although the later two provide methods of observable experimentation to test the criticism and Christianity does not so easily, the point is that it’s not the same kind of system where disproving certain parts of it make the entire system falsifiable. It’s not a scientific theory.”

You claim you support criticism, but in removing religion from the reach of scientific inquiry you eliminate the only impartial way of doing so.

“There are ways to incorporate a modern understanding into the way the religion is expressed.”

Name a single impartial way to evaluate a claim the doesn’t involve the scientific method.

“Trying to apply experimentation to prove how personality affects behavior has resulted in a weird mix of what appears more like pseudo science than anything else. Once you get people involved in it, it becomes too complex to nail down because people are all very different, and always changing. So it’s not hard because the concepts are hard – it’s hard because nearly everything involved is a variable.”

The existence of badly framed scientific research doesn’t not invalidate the scientific method as a whole.

“It’s not to complex to understand, but you’re never going to get the answer “this is Christianity” like you will “this is the neuron.” You will get a better and better understanding of what it is though.”

Then you shouldn’t have reprimanded me for trying and claimed that I thought Christianity was a simple single idea. I don’t think it is, but it is insane to frame an argument around every little variation of a fractured belief system. Especially when you only really need to address the problems they have in common. Namely that they are all based on the same book and the claims of that book are demonstrably false.

Perhaps if you could appreciate the effort I put into the little corner of Christianity I explained at length I would be more willing to discuss other components of Christianity. It’s relation to ancient Mystery cults or the problems of reproducing books accurately before the invention of the printing press. But you don’t appreciate what I have I already explained so don’t berate me for failing to spend more time talking about history and scripture that you aren’t interested in.

“I don’t really worry about what you think. I worry about what you do. I have read the Bible. I have read the Gnostic Gospels. I’ve read and viewed material on the historical accounts and materials making up the Bible, as well as two great little books “God: A Biography” and “Jesus” or something or other, which approach the bible as a piece of lieterature with God as the main character.”

The odd thing about this is while I have used many references to the contents of the Bible you haven’t used anything in the Bible or the history of Christianity to support your thoughts on it. In fact, when I set you up to accuse me of mis-characterizing YHWH you took the bait. If you were so knowledgeable about what the Bible says how could you fall for that set up?

I wonder what it is you worry about me doing. Is it being loud and factual? Because that’s the extent of my atheist activities. Last I heard that wasn’t a crime. It certainly isn’t something to be a afraid of. If my arguments are sound the will stand, if not they will fall. A fear of addressing contrary views only betrays fear that cherished beliefs are not strong enough to over come criticize. I argue without hesitation because I’m not afraid of being proven wrong. If you show me my position is wrong I want nothing more to do with it. The only stance worth cherishing is one that can’t toppled by uncompromising testing and scrutiny.

“I don’t know why you keep harping on your ability to criticize religion generally. I don’t care and didn’t comment on that. But when you boil it down the way that you did, you have taken out all the subtlety and made it just stupid. Not because it’s stupid, but because that’s how you’ve made it look.”

I don’t care how poetic you can make religion sound. I’m only interested in its claims. I already addressed those. but I’m not interested in dressing up clams to religious frippery. I didn’t do any thing to make those claims look ridiculous. I just listed claims. i would have to put conscious effort in to making the claims sound reasonable. It is not my job to make religion look good, but you clearly see anything less as hostility.

This is why I am an aggressive atheist. I refuse to be wrangled into discussing religion according to the level of deference it’s supporters feel it is entitled to. This is exactly the sort of thing I meant when I said:

“Respect is something that must be earned. We give tend to give people a trial period to smooth things along but there is no reason to expect me to respect an ideological system I find fallacious and immoral. These are not attributes I think deserve respect. Demanding that I owe respect to a system where I find these negative traits is no different than asserting that respect itself is mandatory, regardless of merit.”[1]

excuse my typos, I’ve written several books today and I don’t feel like proofreading any more.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I just can’t wrap my head around why you consistently ask these kinds of questions and someplace later (to people who still don’t know, of which there are little) you ‘reveal’ yourself as non-religious and ‘on the good side of tolerance’ – do you really want to be Christian, after all? By all means, find a good church and commence but stop making adults who have given this some thought feel as if they haven’t. People are prejudiced about a million things. Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you get to speak on behalf of all queer people and say it’s okay that some religions are interpreted into homophobia and prejudice. People are all people, they can be bad or good or religious or atheist. No one should be bashed for their beliefs but something like race isn’t a belief and I know you’re smart enough to know that. In fact, I know you already know all that you have been discussing here and all the opposite arguments as well – you’re just doing this for something else…something I can’t quite put my finger on but you have a need…a void, maybe…anyway, it doesn’t matter to me, it’s a decent enough thread (though we’ve all been here before, hundreds of times) and I stayed away from it because @fundevogel was around and she’s like 1000000x better than I at articulating thoughts on this topic, thoughts I share. Generally speaking, I, an atheist, spend a lot of time defending people’s right to religion, especially to Islam (because, and here I disagree with @Trillian , I simply can not get over the arrogance of some Christians in having the nerve, the audacity, to speak ill of ANY other religion besides their own) and I direct my comments at people, individuals…I dislike the institution of religion for many reasons (and it’s irrelevant what they are) but I won’t tell people not to worship…but when some people (religious or not) tell me they don’t like my ‘queer lifestyle’..it’s ironic…they think their beliefs infallible, immutable but my sexuality as a ‘choice’...anyway…just some thoughts.

iamthemob's avatar

@fundevogel

Is it better to coddle a person with pleasant lies rather than directly address the merit of their belief system?

Please address it directly. But not flippantly. Is that an insane request?

So I guess the fact that there are thousand of varieties of trees all different from each other means no one can make any simple statements about trees

Yes. Because trees are exactly as different in the way the interpret ideas as people are. But yes, when you say tree it means something, just as when you say Christianity. However, cognitive neurologists have shown that images stereotypically representative of a tree (consider the child’s drawing of a tree) are recognized with the word “tree” with a reaction time statistically significantly faster than images which would be further from a standard tree. It’s the same with any item.

And this is the problem with ideas, especially as they get more complex. They have less and less specific meaning, so that ask on person for a page on what Christianity is, and ask another for the same, you will not get two pages that are very similar. Similar yes…

you claim you support criticism, but in placing religion from the reach of scientific inquiry you eliminate the only impartial way of doing so.

Please support how the scientific theory is the only impartial way of criticism. I remember being subject to criticism on the merit of my papers in literature classes. This was not the scientific theory, at all. And there was a more subjective element to it. If you could tell me how a literary work can be subject to the scientific merit and how this would be a better method for a criticism of it, please do.

But you don’t appreciate what I have I already explained so don’t berate me for failing to spend more time talking about history and scripture that you aren’t interested it.

I’m not asking you for a better explanation. I’m not saying you don’t have an understanding of Christianity. But that doesn’t mean you know what Christianity is. And that it is because there is a significant subjective element at play. I don’t know how to make it more clear that I don’t want you to talk about history and scripture. I just don’t understand how you’re flippant about it when it seems you have an understanding about it’s complexity.

The odd thing about this is while I have used many references to the contents of the Bible you haven’t used anything in the Bible or the history of Christianity to support your thoughts on it.

Because I’m saying that’s not important to the discussion. Any movement can turn into a research or quote war, and none more quickly than one surrounding a religion. Why do you think I want you support why you disagree with aspects of Christianity? I made no such challenge. I asked only that you support why reductive statements that are easily read as disrespectful are productive, or why they aren’t the same as any prejudiced statement. A prejudiced statement can be made by someone who has a boatload of research to back up the individual statements in it.

I argue without hesitation because I’m not afraid of being proven wrong. If you show me my position is wrong I want nothing more to do with it. The only stance worth cherishing is one that can’t toppled by uncompromising testing and scrutiny.

Argue, fine. But I didn’t know the necessity was to prove you wrong. When you walk in and throw down the gauntlet, if no one picks it up, are you right – or did no one want to fight you because you seemed unreasonable? If it’s the latter, you’ve cheated yourself out of something. If it’s the former, you position doesn’t change regardless. But you never really know.

You seem to conflate respect and deference. Deference is unproductive much of the time as well. Sometimes it’s necessary as a matter of efficiency. Respect can be as little as framing your argument in a manner that is more reasonable. If you don’t think you should have to…fine. There are some people who won’t talk to you. That’s your choice, though. If your fine with your initial statements acting as a mechanism to remove certain people from the discussion who would otherwise have joined, fine. I think statements like that act as a lightning rod for misinterpretation.

iamthemob's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir

People are prejudiced about a million things.

And all of it bad.

Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you get to speak on behalf of all queer people and say it’s okay that some religions are interpreted into homophobia and prejudice.

I never claimed to. I really hope you’re not saying that I am.

No one should be bashed for their beliefs but something like race isn’t a belief and I know you’re smart enough to know that.

I never said that it was, but religion, sex, gender, sexuality, race, national origin, political affiliation, and membership in a particular social group are treated as equivalent in many (particularly legal) contexts.

Generally speaking, I, an atheist, spend a lot of time defending people’s right to religion, especially to Islam

Great.

I simply can not get over the arrogance of some Christians in having the nerve, the audacity, to speak ill of ANY other religion besides their own

Neither can I.

I dislike the institution of religion for many reasons (and it’s irrelevant what they are) but I won’t tell people not to worship

So do I and neither do I.

they think their beliefs infallible, immutable but my sexuality as a ‘choice’

And this is what I find ridiculous. It’s okay to treat something with less respect as an attribute because, arguably, it may be something that they can change. If it’s something they shouldn’t be required to, what is the logical difference? If there’s none, why is there such a battle to differentiate them.

ratboy's avatar

@mattbrowne: “God is beyond our imagination…” If so, how do we manage to argue about It?

Trillian's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir What, exactly, do you disagree with me about? Was it my first statement? “I see a lot of bashing of Christianity, Islam not so much.”
Was it my second comment; “I will state that for many people, religion is not a choice. If you are born into a particular religion, it permeates ALL aspects of your life and breaking away from that is extremely difficult. So, not always an option, people.”
Or the third one about “What if we have Christianity wrong?”
Because none of them really seem arguable points. This whole thread is a big Christian bash, and I get why the Christian bashers don’t take a poke at Islam. But you can’t say that I’m incorrect in saying that on this site, people bash away at Chrstians all the time.
And for those born into those societies where the religion is a seamless part of everyday life, religion really isn’t a choice unless that person were to completely break away from home, family and society.
And what if we really do have Christianity wrong? I would love to discuss this with somone who knows more about it than I. I have a couple ideas, and they actualy incorporate Islam and Judaism as well,,,, Any bible scholars who happen to read this, please PM me. I have some questions and…..anyway.
Those were my three points, and I’m moderately curious to know which one you disagree with. I know you’re not accusing me of speaking ill of other religions. I took a stand refusing to draw Mohammed and I actually emailed that minister and asked him not to burn any Korans. I’m always the one saying that not believing the way another person believes is no excuse to belittle them or their beliefs. There are those who have that particular arogance. Who they are, I leave to yourself to determine,

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

@iamthemob Well, it’s just an assertion that gawd exist. Prove it. You can’t. My belief that gawd is man made is just as valid as the christian idea of gawd.

fundevogel's avatar

@iamthemob

I have just two things I’d like you to do for me in your next response to me. I am not interested in another other comments unless you answer these.

1. You have told me that Christianity can not be evaluated, as I would other claims, presumably non religious ones.[1] I know of no other way to impartially evaluate anything except by the scientific method. I asked you in my previous post to give me one example of another impartial means of evaluation as effective as the scientific method.[2] Instead you asked me to “support how the scientific theory is the only impartial way of criticism.”[3] To do so I would have to prove that every conceivable means of evaluating claims is partial. That would be exhaustive and I have already written enough.

You have already assured me that evaluation can happen by “incorporat[ing] a modern understanding into the way the religion is expressed.”[3] To do so you would need to know of at least one method of evaluation as effective as the scientific method. I can’t tackle every conceivable means of evaluation, but if your previous statements are justified you already know how to disprove my belief that there is no better way to evaluate claims than with the the scientific method. You don’t need to pussyfoot around. As much as I love the scientific method and deeply believe in it you don’t need to worry about hurting my feelings. I’m tough. I can take it.

Please name one means of rational evaluation other than the scientific method, but equally as effective as it. Explain how the method works and why it works as well as the scientific method.

2. You aren’t interested in my justification of the accuracy of terms or validity of the question:

“Does it make sense to think one or more invisible supernatural entities control the whole world, read minds, and love the smell of burnt animals?”

You are only concerned about the flippancy you attribute to it. Please re-write the question without flippancy. Do not change the informational content. The information, however flippantly presented, has been shown to be consistent the Biblical God YHWH.[5] The intention of the question must remain whether or not belief in a god with the specified attributes is sensible.

iamthemob's avatar

@Russell_D_SpacePoet

That’s more an assertion. And I’m not challenging it. I’m just wondering whether there’s a point to comparing them all so blithely, just as a statement.

fundevogel's avatar

@iamthemob bonus points if you cant tell me why the scientific method is not compatible with evaluating religion, but why your method is.

iamthemob's avatar

@fundevogel

(1) Trial by jury.

(2) “I don’t believe in any God because I prefer to rely on observable evidence to support my belief.” This would be a non-flippant way of responding to the question, “Why don’t you believe in Christianity?” But the original question was, of course, “Why is bashing religion not the equivalent of prejudice against race, sex, sexual orientation, etc.?”

(3) Bonus – The scientific method requires, as I understand it, repeated experimentation regarding observable phenomenon. Because religion necessarily includes aspects that are not observable, methods derived from a philosophical perspective are more in line with the types of discussion various aspects of religion are likely to elicit.

fundevogel's avatar

1. Please name one means of rational evaluation other than the scientific method, but equally as effective as it. Explain how the method works and why it works as well as the scientific method

@iamthemob “Trial by jury.”

You can not use a trial by jury as a methodology to evaluate claims. To does so is to avoid doing any evaluation at all by passing it on to a committee. And were you willing to settle all critical evaluation by popular vote you still haven’t established any method by which the jury can evaluate the claims you have passed off on them.

bonus points if you cant tell me why the scientific method is not compatible with evaluating religion, but why your method is.

@iamthemob “The scientific method requires, as I understand it, repeated experimentation regarding observable phenomenon. Because religion necessarily includes aspects that are not observable, methods derived from a philosophical perspective are more in line with the types of discussion various aspects of religion are likely to elicit.”

The scientific method at it’s core is testing claims. A hypothesis is a claim. Experimentation, observation and/or research is conducted to confirm or deny the truth of a hypothesis. You mention repeatability and this is good. A repeatable findings are those that can be independently confirmed by various researchers and can’t be discredited by them. However you are wrong about religion being untestable. It is true that the scientific method can not prove the there is no god at all. But it can disprove gods that have specific attributes if the existence of a god with those attribute is demonstrated to be incompatible with what we know about the world.

You didn’t explain how trial by jury would be an effective means of evaluating claims. You didn’t try to show that evaluation by jury was superior to the scientific method or why it was more compatible with evaluating religion.

Since your trial by jury supplies no system for evaluating claims and you have not given me any reason to think it is a viable alternative to the scientific method I will continue to use it the scientific method. And since the scientific method is my only means for critical evaluation and intellectually I am obligated to critically evaluate all claims I will continue to use it when evaluating religion.

2. “Does it make sense to think one or more invisible supernatural entities control the whole world, read minds, and love the smell of burnt animals?”

Please re-write the question without flippancy. Do not change the informational content. The information, however flippantly presented, has been shown to be consistent the Biblical God YHWH.[5] The intention of the question must remain whether or not belief in a god with the specified attributes is sensible.

@iamthemob “I don’t believe in any God because I prefer to rely on observable evidence to support my belief.” This would be a non-flippant way of responding to the question, “Why don’t you believe in Christianity?” But the original question was, of course, “Why is bashing religion not the equivalent of prejudice against race, sex, sexual orientation, etc.?”

I asked for a question. Changing it to a sentence alters intent. You omitted information. That avoids addressing whether belief in a god with those characteristics is sensible and avoids the entire purpose of the question. Evaluating whether or not the specific claims regarding that god were believable.

I’m afraid I can’t believe that I was needlessly flippant when, you can’t come up with a suitable alternative without changing the intent, content and format of the original sentence. The whole point was to consider the merit of those specific claims about the god YHWH. In avoiding the content your answer is an admission that you don’t think it is possible to address those specific claims without sounding flippant. In opting to omit mention of those attributes you prioritize gentility over discourse. I do not.

Since it seems I can not meet your standards of etiquette without completely changing the intent and content of the sentence I think you’re being unreasonable in accusing me of flippancy. Maybe it was flippant but if it is impossible to talk about it without being flippant I’m not interested in abandoning an argument because there is no way to say it without stepping on toes. I shouldn’t be expected to.

Should you like to try again go a ahead. But I am not interested in talking in circles with you until you can give me one well supported answer and a non flippant version of the question without ignoring the criteria.

iamthemob's avatar

@fundevogel

You didn’t explain how trial by jury would be an effective means of evaluating claims. You didn’t try to show that evaluation by jury was superior to the scientific method or why it was more compatible with evaluating religion.

Trial by jury has been utilized as the method for evaluating the claim of the state against a citizen, during which evidence is submitted, the question deliberated and a determination of guilt is returned. Whether or not it is more effective than the scientific method is a relevant question only if the scientific method can be applied to such claims as well.

I don’t see how it can. If it can’t, then the scientific method is only compatible with certain questions. If it is only compatible with certain questions, then there is no need to show that trial by jury is a more effective means of evaluating claims. If you can show me how it is, I would be interested.

You are right that the scientific method is useful for evaluating certain specific and verifiable claims of a religion. However, there are many “why” questions that cannot be measured or observed. I’m more than happy to admit that the scientific method can demonstrate whether the age of the earth is X better than any other. But what good is it otherwise?

I wasn’t asked to show that the method was more compatible with evaluating religion. However, much like a jury model, longitudinal surveys and psychological surveys are perhaps better models than the purely scientific models to gather evidence about the beneficial or negative effects of certain teachings in the bible, or in a religion, and how they’ve changed over time. etc.

In avoiding the content your answer is an admission that you don’t think it is possible to address those specific claims without sounding flippant. In opting to omit mention of those attributes you prioritize gentility over discourse. I do not.

I think it’s foolish to introduce them as the initial point. I don’t understand why you think this challenge is appropriate, since I thought the comment was flippant as a response to my question, which therefore depends on how it is presented in context. It is a question because you decided to answer my question with a question, which is part of the flippant nature. I will, however, oblige now.

Is belief in an omniscient creative force, generally imperceptible, that is appeased by the sent of burnt offerings, central to your understanding of Christianity? I ask because I’ve never heard a reasonable explanation of why any of these, particularly the last one, are necessary qualifications for one to follow the moral teachings of Christ.

thekoukoureport's avatar

weeeeeeeeeee round and round she goes where she stops no one knows!!!
I now know why I give disrespectful remarks to christians and discussions about their gawed? Because of this discussion!

This string above should be printed and distributed to the entire world so we can end this FOREVER.. move on society. I will say this though Great job @fundevogel @Seek_Kolinahr and @DominicX and @TheOnlyNeffie it is my hope that some “Christian” will read this string and begin a new path to personal discovery and stop listening to the witch doctor.

You see what I did there, was that direspectful? GOOD!
Your lack of intelectual understanding and continued obstinance would be considered, by I imagine most of the people here, to be DISRESPECTFUL!

At what point should we tell you to go to your room for not listening?

Loried2008's avatar

This is all so pitiful…

AdamF's avatar

In short, people have rights, ideologies don’t.

By protecting any ideas from criticism (imagine if we all did so for islam, Communism, MMR = Autism, etc…) we foster the creation and retention of what often turns out to be dangerous dogmas, rather than promoting the worthy pursuit of provisional truths. Any idea worth having, any belief worth retaining, should be able to withstand challenge – nice or otherwise. To do so is to the benefit of everyone and therefore Society as a whole. Because the fostering of such self and externally directed criticism acts as a strong selection pressure against the propagation and promotion of stupid and dangerous ideas.

Likewise, belief in God has consequences for the hear and now, because such beliefs almost invariably are coupled with claims of possessing authoritative truths about what is right or wrong, what is worthy or not, what is true or not. Such beliefs have real world consequences for the followers of the creed, and those of us who have to share a planet with them. As at their heart these religious worldviews base their justification on the existence of not just god, but a particular variant of god, and usually some “authoritative texts”, then demand for evidence for such a god’s existence is an entirely reasonable starting point for challenging them. For if someone doesn’t have any convincing justification for the existence of their god (or any god), then the rest of us are entirely justified in dismissing any associated claim.

As such, religious beliefs should be as open to criticism as any political, or economic idea.

If in the process of criticising the other person’s views, one wishes to ridicule, satire, or blaspheme their religion; then whether or not that is seen as being justified or not, depends entirely on the circumstances and the goal…and of course the views and values of the observer. In other words, there is nothing at all inherently wrong with criticizing religion, even in an “aggressive” fashion.

For example, I believe the world benefits by ridiculing the behaviour of – for example- the Catholic church; with respect to its policy on condom use and AIDS, the institutional protection of child rapists, and its pronouncements on homosexuality, and for that matter, their views on sex in general.

If Catholics, or likewise Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc. are hurt by ridicule of their religion….They have multiple options at their disposal. They can ignore it, explain how the criticism was unwarranted (it way well be), be challenged by it and hopefully try to reform their religion, or leave.

Frankly I can’t remember anything here on fluther, or any prominent atheist (Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris) has said about any religion, even remotely causing anywhere near the suffering that a single religiously embraced dogma like “homosexuality is evil” has caused through the ages (let alone all the misogyny…nor the suffering religions have inflicted on the subscribers to other religions). It’s hard to come up with an example that could. That’s the irony of this whole discussion, isn’t it.

To protect religions from criticism, you condemn people to suffering.

Seek's avatar

It seems you don’t agree that it can be analyzed, revised, or grow.

This is true. The Bible is either the Word of God, and since the Bible clearly defines that God is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), and Jesus clearly stated that his position was not to abolish Moses’ law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17), the Bible must either be 1. Untrue, or 2. True, and not open to revision.

So use of the Bible as a proxy for Christian belief is the best method. Disregarding theologist interpretation. Or discussions of the Gnostic Gospels, etc.
And which translation are you looking at? And do you include Mormons?

I will be more than happy to discredit any translation or supportive text you place in front of me. That goes for any supernaturally- (or since you seem to prefer it, metaphysically-) based religion on the planet.

You are dismissing ideas, fine. But when you present those ideas as evidence as to why you think it’s okay to be flippant about religion, Christianity, etc., you are using the parts to demonstrate the faults in the whole. Again, that’s just faulty.

You have yet to demonstrate where I have been flippant. Yes, I often can be, when the discussion becomes so tiring and absurd that my weaker nature takes over, but I feel I’ve done quite well at taking the discussion seriously throughout the thread. Methinks you’re just fond of the word. It’s okay, I have crutch words, too.

Nope. You’re using the Bible’s statements again to show how the existence of God can be disproven, instead of how parts of the bible, or interpretations of it, can be disproven. So again, when you reduce it so, you preclude people from being a part of the conversation in a reasonable way. You are asking people to self-censor.

Burden of proof rests on the believer. I use the Bible to discredit the existence of the Abrahamic god. The statement is already “God is real because the Bible says so”. I feel free to begin at this point because there is no primary source of testable evidence for the Judeo-Christian god that appears outside the Bible. If they present a belief without evidence, they’re not being censored – they’re losing the debate.

If any theist would like to present evidence for their deity apart from the Bible, I’ll be happy to debate that as well. As yet, that has not happened in this discussion.

And why, oh why, is this proof a necessary prerequisite for any sort of value to be drawn from the bible.
Because if people are basing their lives on the words of a 2000 year old Mesopotamian mythological storybook, they have the right to know if it is true.

Seek's avatar

^ Please read the second sentence of my reply as “either the Word of God or not, and…”

It’s too late for me to edit for clarity.

I also want to throw in a source for the claim “Word of God”. And that is:

“… from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:15–17).

iamthemob's avatar

@AdamF

If in the process of criticising the other person’s views, one wishes to ridicule, satire, or blaspheme their religion; then whether or not that is seen as being justified or not, depends entirely on the circumstances and the goal…and of course the views and values of the observer. In other words, there is nothing at all inherently wrong with criticizing religion, even in an “aggressive” fashion.

I agree 100% with what you say. But when the statement is simple, snarky, etc., and is the first thing said, and perhaps the only thing said, I don’t understand the value. I haven’t seen an argument that convinces me that there’s a productive reason for that specific form of aggressive atheism. Stating something at the start of the discussion that seems to represent an entire argument, conclusion, etc. so that it needs to be broken into to discuss the inner workings, or asking at the beginning a rhetorical question…I don’t see the difference between that and any other “my mind’s made up” statement – many of which reveal prejudices.

I do understand such things coming from a place of frustration and anger. And I do see the benefit they have for those frustrated and angry too, essentially, vent. I don’t see how they’re ever really rational, reasonable, or productive.

I’m going to repost a couple of things @AdamF posted elsewhere, as I think they’re great, straight-forward sources here and here.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

This is the first thing you said, posted again:

Gay people did not choose to be gay, nor are they on a mission to “convert” the rest of us to their group.

The black/white/Aboriginal/immigrant community are not petitioning to force our children to learn mythology as science in public schools.

Men/women/transgendered/nongendered people don’t knock on our doors at all hours of the day threatening us with hellfire for not following a poorly edited book that’s between 1000 and 2000 years old.

This statement, as it relates to why it’s okay to make these statements, is flippant in the sense that it is frivolously disrespectful, shallow, or lacking in seriousness (not in terms of the issues about conversion, etc., which are not shallow or lacking in seriousness). When asked what the difference is, you cite three things that are absolutely true as the reason, but characterize the religious, therefore, as falling into these categories because the statement is shallow – because of the action of bad individuals (whether or not a minority) is the reason for criticizing the whole.

This is also not criticizing ideas, but rather people. “They,” “The…community,” “people,” – those are the subjects of the sentences.

This may be after a life or a period of frustration, but in this thread it is the first thing you said. You can stand behind the objective facts within it – and I can too. But to claim that it describes the religious, or Christians, is a clear overgeneralization. Because of this, I read it and wonder if you’re at all reasonable, or just reactive and angry, latching on to the easiest critiques from examples based on your personal experience. Again, understandable, but not really different from any other unreasonable overgeneralization.

Seek's avatar

I have already explained why this is not a flippant response.

The fact that I mentioned people in my examples is directly related to your insistence that prejudice against a group of people who did not choose their lot is equal to challenging a religion that a group of people choose.

You can turn the statement positive, and insert “Christianity” into each one, and have a true statement:

Christianity includes a mission to “convert” the rest of us to their group.

Christian communities are are petitioning to force our children to learn mythology as science in public schools.

Representatives of Christian religions knock on our doors at all hours of the day threatening us with hellfire for not following a poorly edited book that’s between 1000 and 2000 years old.

All of the above are true. They are not shallow, they are examples of fact. They are not disrespectful, they are examples of fact. They are not lacking in seriousness, these are actual issues that affect my daily life, and I have the right to question them. The fact that some Christians do not feel a call to preach conversion does not negate the fact that many, if not most, do. The fact that some Christians do agree with the complete separation of church and state does not do away with the fact that there is still a very vocal group that is working damned hard to put my son in a Creationism science class. The fact that not all Christians go door to door, stalk ex-members, waylay people in grocery store parking lots, or pass out poorly edited flyers in state parks does not make the ones that do any less aggravating.

I find it absolutely delicious that religion is so weak that any possible statement of disagreement is considered an attack.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

Ah! See, you did more than insert “Christian” into the claims…you also put in “Representatives of,” “includes” and “communities” (I would ideally like more, but this doesn’t objectively imply any sort of universality).

NOW, those three statements are not overgeneralizations. I disagree with your feeling that the fact that these communities exist is reason to start off a discussion by attributing the worst aspects of a religion to all members of the community, but THAT statement is not flippant – those are reasons that can be discussed.

I just wish people would be more clear about what they mean from the beginning. We can talk about facts…and those are now facts.

Seek's avatar

So the problem was not with my statements, but in how you interpreted them. For my original three statements were also fact. I’ve never had a transgendered person knock on my door and demand I read a list of all the reasons it’s a good idea to alter your biological sex.

Trillian's avatar

“I find it absolutely delicious that religion is so weak that any possible statement of disagreement is considered an attack.”
No. No no no! That’s wrong. Just a straight up untruth. @mattbrowne is more than capable of making statements of disagreement without being adversarial or combative, and he never makes demeaning remarks about the beliefs of others.
A statement of disagreement is just that, and a statement strewn with name calling, generalizations and partial truths designed to shut down communication is an attack.
Clear difference there.

Seek's avatar

@mattbrowne is a different story entirely. He’s awesome. ^_^

I should have had a “by many” clause at the end of that statement, I agree.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

So the problem was not with my statements, but in how you interpreted them. For my original three statements were also fact. I’ve never had a transgendered person knock on my door and demand I read a list of all the reasons it’s a good idea to alter your biological sex.

Misinterpretation is an easy thing on the internet. We’ve all done it. But the less careful we are, especially when characterizing a group of people, the more likely it will occur, and the more likely it is to be read as offensive. It’s not 100% your responsibility…but if you want to ensure that people respond reasonably, more accuracy is necessary. The statements as written were accurate as you claim, but also stated that this is what the religious did, literally.

Isn’t it reasonable that I read that and think it’s a gross simplification of the argument? Isn’t it reasonable that some people would? Because it’s a hot button issue, I don’t see the reason for people being generally reductive, which leads to carelessness, when they are writing responses like this.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

The entire debate would have been unnecessary, and probably more focused, if there was that clarity from the beginning. I think the way it’s gone all over the place is demonstrative of the problems with comments that appear flippant in this way – they inspire more shouting matches than reasonable debates.

And they make me throw my hands in the air and say things like “This is why I hate atheism,” which was inappropriate and I now apologize for.

iamthemob's avatar

@thekoukoureport

At what point should we tell you to go to your room for not listening?

Whenever you want. But we seem to have come to a resolution regarding the lack of clarity that spins out of control on both sides. If I’d gone to my room, what resolution is there?

I mean, imagine what would have happened if I had told you to go to your room during our discussion of the first amendment, before we reached the conclusion?

AdamF's avatar

@iamthemob “But when the statement is simple, snarky, etc., and is the first thing said, and perhaps the only thing said, I don’t understand the value.”

That’s probably because for you, and perhaps me too, there wasn’t any.

That said, the point you raise in the quote could really be seen as a question of tactics (at least in my view)...ie. What is the goal of the “new atheists” for isntance, and is it best achieved stand alone snarky comments.? I would have to say it still depends on the context and the goal. Stand alone snarky comments can be useful or counter-productive, not to mention the fact that what is “snarky” for one is mere “brevity” and “clarity” for another.

So I hate to sit on the fence, but I can imagine both productive and unproductive outcomes.

For instance, the flying spaghetti monster (as you mentioned in the start of the thread) had its origin as a satirical/ridiculing protest against the decision by the Kansas State Board of Education to permit the teaching of intelligent design in public schools. I think it served its purpose very well in this context, and continues to do so in others.

So in some cases a passing reference to Pastafarianism may be entirely appropriate, if only to signal to other atheists that the theist’s arguments are equally valid for promoting pastafarianism. Thereby identifying a hole in their logic. This may not be directly productive for convincing the theist, but it may be indirectly productive for highlighting a flaw in the logic, or reaching the all important spectators…who sit in the background at first undecided, but perhaps subsequently swayed by the opinions presented.

I think in the end some of us will inevitably use ridicule or be rude some of the time (probably as much depending on how much sleep we’ve had or how our love lives are going as anything else). I think the best advice is just to pause before doing so, and ask whether it’s the best way of achieving whatever it is you’re trying to achieve.

Sometimes that might just be the overwhelming need to vent some frustration.

iamthemob's avatar

@AdamF

Good points indeed. Would you agree that this is, however, an “ends justify the means” argument in support of showing the benefit of the tactic? I think that it is (obviously, since I sort of indicated the bias with the leading structure ;-)).

If so, I think that it’s an unfortunate necessity of the fact that a public and increasingly stable presence of atheism in the public debate is relatively new, and new movements whose ideas have historically been oppressed and suppressed need such arguments, whereas older established movements can afford to be “more deferential” all the time. Is that a fair assessment?

iamthemob's avatar

This comment, from this link provided in another thread @AdamF was participating in, I think demonstrates a reason not mentioned previously, but I will admit appears to be a solid reason why offensive comments might also be productive, not just necessary:

The orthodoxy of today is the blasphemy of yesterday. From the beginning, the spiritual search for religious truth has not been against blasphemy, but by way of blasphemy. Depending on where we sit metaphysically, we may want that search called off, or we may want it furthered. Either way, we must welcome religious offense as the unavoidable consequence of a free religious conscience.

Was this not mentioned earlier because (1) people supporting the need for such statements didn’t think about it, or because (2) it demonstrates, as some people seem to argue against, the ability for religion to develop into a form more coherent with current understandings of people, psychology, etc.? Or is there another reason?

For me, the above demonstrates how these statements can work to the benefit of the general discussion.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@iamthemob Well there are immutable characteristics like one’s skin color and those aren’t the same as beliefs because beliefs can be changed. I think all of our beliefs (including religion or atheism) can be scrutinized and examined (bashing not being either and shouldn’t be supported) but certain things aren’t beliefs just because they’re also controversial. I have an interesting view on gender, race and sexuality because, to some extent, I do think they’re fluid, as well given how socially constructed much of it all is but that’s only when ambiguity enters into a picture (for example, a multiracial person can call themselves black and I will call them that but others will not necessarily perceive them as such and will question their identity – in that regard, race and religion are both questioned on the same level but they aren’t always on the same level). I don’t know who is this ‘them’ you’re talking about because plenty of Christians have a race, a sexuality, an ethnicity, a background and each person can be a sum of their education and experiences so there’s no them in my head. If I’m going to differentiate something, it’s just going to be about institution: the institution of religion, of medicine, of science, of education – I belong to many of these, yet I criticize all of them all the time ( just because I’m an atheist doesn’t mean I can’t question religion as an institution especially given that institution’s social effects). Why do some people bash people who are religious? That’s a different question and there are a variety of answers to this: they’ve had bad experiences, they’re misinformed, they’re thinking their way is the only way to believe in God (because, obviously, religious people bash other religious people), etc.

@Trillian I was talking about your first point (I find your second point interesting) – as far as this site goes, I’ve seen a lot of ignorance in regards to Islam, thinly veiled anti-arab, anti-muslim, anti-‘them that are dark and terrorists’ kind of talk..I hope you don’t expect me to go looking for specific instances of this vomitus. And again I don’t think criticism of Christianity is bashing of Christians.

@Loried2008…good thing God will straighten us all out in the end ~

AdamF's avatar

I think “ends justifies the means” is far too open a proposition to be embraced without caveats, so I’ll sidestep a yes or no answer, and put it this way…in the context of open discussion, sometimes some ends can be successfully achieved by using means which may offend some people. Not sure if that was useful, but I think its true.

With regards to new movements and unfortunate necessities…IMagine if I wrote the following in this thread…

“If we go back to the beginnings of things, we shall always find that ignorance and fear created the gods; that imagination, rapture and deception embellished them; that weakness worships them; that custom spares them; and that tyranny favors them in order to profit from the blindness of men.”

or

“All religions are ancient monuments to superstition, ignorance, ferocity; and modern religions are only ancient follies”

That’s Baron D´holbach (Paul-Henri) writing in the 1770s. Not exactly pulling his punches.

To be honest, the modern arguments have a long history of similar rhetoric, with the added benefit of a solid foundation in the scientific advancements which have gradually, conistently, and tirelessly providing testable naturalistic explanations for what were previously seen as supernatural phenomena.

Anyways, I think, regardless of new or old, the assertive nature of any movement is a product of how that movement sees the disparity between where society is and where they hope it to be. Where people see bad reasons for justifying societal injustice or any human suffering, it would be morally questionable of them not to use rhetorical techniques that work to advance their cause. Where they overstep them mark, Im sure somone will challenge them in return.

iamthemob's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir

I agree that the term religion was imprecise. However, in the details I included the types of statements I was referring to – the one-liners that don’t seem to me substantively no different from such dismissive one liners about people with various other differences. They all group and reduce…and I wasn’t seeing any productive point.

Indeed, I agree with you about the instances of people bashing religious people for various reasons. Again, these are only problematic from a more objective standpoint for me is when the “bashing” is done from the outset, and reductive in the senses I mentioned.

My main issue with the explanation for the difference that most seem to rest on of “mutability” or “ability to change” is that this is exactly the reason people site for regulations against homosexual behavior. Note – one can be homosexual, etc., without having sex. Therefore, although the identity may be immutable, the behavior is not. Celibacy is an option for anyone, regardless of their orientation. Bringing this into the argument, then, means that we validate an argument that most here, I’m certain, would find objectionable – it’s okay to bash homosexuality because they don’t have to behave that way.

I prefer the concept of immutability that is present in the refugee context – a person can be persecuted for something that is so central to their personhood that it is something that cannot, or that a state should not require to, be changed. This is how homosexuality is a valid reason for persecution. Political opinion and religion are included outright and not implied – the Holocaust was in fact the motivation for the refugee treaty on which the analysis is based. Therefore, in that context, and when we take the First Amendment into account, in every context in the U.S., we’ve found religious expression to be central to us as people.

This means that one should be able to freely state “I am a Christian” or “I am an atheist” without being made to feel like it’s something that they should change. The statements ridiculing populations as a whole are a society’s first tool in making someone feel that very thing – that it’s not okay to affiliate with a certain group. Criticism is something different, and aggressive criticism should be supported, as I’ve said. But the statements ridiculing religion, when overgeneralizing and ridiculing, are akin (although not equal in measure) to tactics used by groups like the WBC.

Since there was what really seemed like general yelling and leaving all around – the posts I put off seem to indicate more of a productive possibility for these statements when coming from an atheist perspective. However, I did not attempt from the outset to direct this at atheists. It was directed at those who claim to be rational, and yet use the tactics nonetheless.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@iamthemob “This means that one should be able to freely state “I am a Christian” or “I am an atheist” without being made to feel like it’s something that they should change.” – indeed they should but who do you see, usually, of the two groups above asking the other to change?

iamthemob's avatar

@AdamF

in the context of open discussion, sometimes some ends can be successfully achieved by using means which may offend some people.

Very useful. And I agree – but when open discussion is the prerequisite.

Where people see bad reasons for justifying societal injustice or any human suffering, it would be morally questionable of them not to use rhetorical techniques that work to advance their cause.

Referring to an unfortunate necessity, I more talk to the prevalence of it during some points of the movement as opposed to the other. At the beginning of the civil rights movement, we had Malcolm X and the Black Panthers – radical, loud, and offensive because the message couldn’t really be quiet. We aren’t much better off now from my perspective, but the discussion, although animated and agitated at this point, is more generally civil in terms of the public debate. Yes, the rhetoric might always be productive, but it seems like when the message is initially attempting to make itself known…it’s more prevalent.

I think part of my issue now is that, on the internet, there’s an odd conflation of public and private debate. I still approach a lot of threads as if there was a conversation. However, there’s an understandable tendency to use it as a forum, and most often to mix the two. So when things are written, at times, with an intent that is neutral, an individual reading it may be more inclined to take it as more personal. These threads particularly are not like reading a blog, and the people posting are often people you come to “know” to a certain extent.

I think that this mixture of the public and private nature of the media makes the use of the rhetorical strategies a little more complicated…and I’m kind of just realizing this as I’m typing it.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir although the answer to that is seemingly obvious, I don’t think that @iamthemob is too far off in that statement. Atheists may not have a mission to convert people, but I think as a defensive measure many of us (myself included at times) have become so pushy and vocal about our side that it could easily be perceived as trying to persuade the opposition to believe what we do. Or disbelieve.

iamthemob's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir

I have never actively had anyone, honestly anyone, personally address me to convert me to Christianity. On these threads, I’ve seen more prevalence of disparaging remarks toward various religions than atheism.

However, I know that you mean this as much generally as personally. I’m certain that atheists have experienced this more and this happens more often from Christians. But I don’t think that’s an argument for the rhetoric in any sense as much as an explanation why people use it. So I can understand the need to state these things – but that doesn’t mean that one comment is objectively better when using the same type of rhetoric when it comes from one side rather than the other.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie – I would never imagine that atheists don’t push or criticize – it depends on the person. I always say ‘it’s got more to do with stupidity than with a belief in god’ – a stupid atheist will do just as much damage as a stupid believer. I’m just asking @iamthemob about perception – perhaps, he perceives that the criticism goes mostly from atheists to belivers, I perceive the opposite.
@iamthemob I know, it’s not an excuse but I can see why some atheists (after being bothered about their beliefs) would bother back.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@iamthemob Do you live in a bubble?
Again, I do not think Fluther is a very accurate microcosm for the real world. The number of atheists compared to the number of Christians here is skewed compared to society. I can only speak for myself, but I suspect this happens to a number of nonbelievers, when your beliefs have been attacked enough times you go on the defensive. People get angry when they find out you don’t believe in god. God is sacred, personal. Asserting that s/he may not exist.. or probably doesn’t exist, is like a slap in the face. Some Christians are extremely aggressive in their attempts to convert a person. Again, I only speak from experience. Atheists are constantly subjected to things that might be considered offensive to us. God is all over our government, our schools, and even threatening to teach our children that the earth is only 6000 years old. Sometimes I think that people feel like those are low blows and deserve equally low blows in return. It is frustrating, and emotional attacks will often receive an emotional response.

It’s natural to get defensive. And sometimes overly so. Which might look an awful lot like what the opposition is doing.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir of course, right. I have the same perception that you do.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

We have got to start a new thread, this one takes too long to load.

iamthemob's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie

I’ve rarely been to church, was raised without religion (I remember one time I bought a Christian comic one time and my parents looked through it to make sure that it wouldn’t try to convert me too heavily before I bought it). I did go to church as a child, but it was more about community than anything, and my parents never talked about god or anything like that. I went to private schools, the ivy league, and then law school in the south (New Orleans, which isn’t the most radically religious of places in the south. ) Lived up and down the east coast, but managed to surround myself with people who aren’t religious in any fundamentalist sense.

Discussion with my peers has been limited to why we believe what we do, if anything. Independent, and not based on religion – just study.

But I know all of the comments about Christian attempts to convert and atheist prejudice are accurate, and personal. I understand when people react with that anger. I don’t understand when they think it’s alright because of the majority of the reasons stated here (arguments against religion, people’s nominal ability to change it) and why it may be privileged because of that. Towards the end, I discovered practical benefits by looking at outside resources.

So no, not a bubble per se. But I grew up lucky and try to keep as much of what I perceive to be damaging at bay.

iamthemob's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir

It’s all you, if you want it. I’ll get in if you want. I’m just, you know, tired.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@iamthemob Hm, as I told you in pm…my interest in this topic leads to complexities I don’t think some people on Fluther will be able to untangle in any kind of an objective manner…maybe I need time to think about the parameters of my question…it’ll need a lot of instructions to keep people focused. And I know you’re tired, you’ve done well, rest.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I’ll second that. I was utterly exhausted last night, and I didn’t even participate in the entire discussion. This sort of thing takes a lot out of a person, I’m impressed with anyone that had the stamina to stick it out to the end of this thread.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie Well you know us queers…we’ve got plenty of stamina. ~

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

You mean by wearing me out and then ensuring that I get a good night’s sleep? Can’t say it hasn’t happened before. ;) And now that I have officially derailed, I’m off.. for the second or third time. :)

mattbrowne's avatar

Is the very fact that modern democracies are based on the ancient Greek model evidence of mysogyny implemented by the current US administration? The Greek even had slaves and women did not have the right to vote. Some anti-religious fundamentalists, as well as religious fundamentalists, seem to think that dogmas and traditions and interpretation of holy texts are forever frozen and cannot evolve. What a ridiculous notion.

fundevogel's avatar

@mattbrowne“Is the very fact that modern democracies are based on the ancient Greek model evidence of mysogyny implemented by the current US administration?”

No, but contemporary governments don’t put ancient Greek law on a pedestal. They don’t call it the perfect and sacred will of the Greek people. And they certainly don’t say that we must live our lives according to the will and wisdom of the Greek people.

If contemporary democracies had ancient Greek documents as their founding legal documents, and those documents asserted inequality of the sexes and the acceptability of slavery then I would question the ethics of that system of government. But they don’t. Modern democracy, like America’s, isn’t just based on Greek democracy, modern government draws heavily on the political philosophy of Enlightenment thinkers like Hobbes and Locke and pulls what, to that best of it’s organizers ability, is the best of all these things. And even the founding documents of countries like America can and have been altered to improve upon them. None of these things can be said about the founding documents of religion.

“Some anti-religious fundamentalists, as well as religious fundamentalists, seem to think that dogmas and traditions and interpretation of holy texts are forever frozen and cannot evolve. What a ridiculous notion.”

And yet I don’t see anyone preaching that the Jefferson Bible is the basis of their Christianity.

Religious practitioners, may in practice pick and choose what part of their holy text to observe, but that’s a far cry from cutting out all the crazy ancient stuff, adding the contributions of later thinkers, and creating a new and improved text which continues to be open for revision as the basis for their religion. So long as sacred texts are the basis of religion, with authority over all other material on the matter, religion can not divorce itself from the content of its sacred texts.

Loried2008's avatar

I have always understood that my religion has different denominations because every Christian has their own personal interpretation of the bible. Everyone on this earth is different, so how could we expect that everyone would agree on anything?

Seek's avatar

^ I thought that would be where the One True God™ comes in.

fundevogel's avatar

@Loried2008 – Somethings just can’t be interpreted in more than one way. The laws set out by God are really straight forward. You should see the rules for getting rid of mold. Under certain circumstances a priest needs to kill a bird and sprinkle it’s blood around the house.

Seek's avatar

Removed by me

iamthemob's avatar

@fundevogel

I’ve never heard of the Jefferson bible. Thank you!

iamthemob's avatar

@fundevogel

But you’ve already discussed the difference between law and grace (or the many other iterations of the dichotomy) that the New Testament seems to represent. From the beginning, therefore, Christianity has provided, oddly enough, it’s followers with an “out” when it comes to the law, particularly Old Testament law.

Of course, practically the fundamentalists will bring the law back into it, which is difficult if not impossible to see the logic in (other than to use the religion, of course, to maintain an oppressive agenda benefiting certain institutions). But because of the New Testament, the law can arguably be interpreted in two ways – do this, or don’t do this. But it places less importance on the acts opposed to belief.

fundevogel's avatar

@iamthemob “But you’ve already discussed the difference between law and grace (or the many other iterations of the dichotomy) that the New Testament seems to represent. From the beginning, therefore, Christianity has provided, oddly enough, it’s followers with an “out” when it comes to the law, particularly Old Testament law.”

You must be thinking of someone else. I mentioned in passing that Judaism is a ritual based religion and Christianity is a faith based. I don’t think that the fact that Christianity is practiced as a faith based religion means that the commandments of the old testaments are no longer a part of the religion, even if they are neglected.

If you ask me this doesn’t sound like a pass:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17–18).

Sounds like and affirmation of the laws to me, not just for now, not until you accept the grace of god, but “until heaven and earth disappear.” If I remember correctly there are other places that contradict this and do claim that the rules no longer apply. To me its just a problem when the Bible says two different things in two different places. Clearly they can’t both be right, but how can just one be right (and how can the right one be determined) when every word in the book is claimed to be sacred?

“I’ve never heard of the Jefferson bible. Thank you!”

I’m glad I mentioned it then. It also has the added appeal of being a good bit shorter than a regular Bible.

Loried2008's avatar

@fundevogel It’s true there are a lot of straight forward laws, but there are also things a lot less clear. Like whether or not it’s okay to drink. There were seven different churches in the bible because they could not agree on many things even down to how and who could baptize them.

fundevogel's avatar

@Loried2008 I don’t dispute it. It is healthy that churches and individuals are permitted to attempt to make sense of these things rather than have them dictated to them. At least until someone can demonstrate one view to be the historical one.

iamthemob's avatar

@fundevogel

Here’s what you stated:

Christians tend to ignore what God demands in the Old Testament. This is because Christianity is a faith based religion while Judaism is a ritual based religion.

This originally links the two closer together…but that’s besides the point. I never said there was a pass, as you put it – rather that the fact that you state “the laws are pretty straight-forward” is undermined by the fact that the law applies to the Hebrew people, and there is no spiritual penalty, per se, for not practicing the law as specifically laid out in the Old Testament for the Christian. Christ himself was, arguably, an observant Jew…but he stated that the principle of the law was more important than the performance of Acts. Part of his goal, arguably, was to destroy the tight hold the rigid hierarchy of the temple had on the God of Abraham. He advocated interpreting the law for what it meant, not what it said – therefore, the commandment against murder was a commandment against anger, to hate, to murder (to the dark side). I did say an “out” was provided – but this is an out from the rigid adherence. Therefore, Christianity does provide a mechanism, and a clear one, for a developing sense of what the bible means rather than a rigid adherence to what it says. That’s what, it’s been argued, the quote from Matthew you gave above implies. Essentially (and fittingly), that’s taking it to literally. ;-)

There are further issues when you try to determine if Jesus broke laws, or rather acted in a manner contrary to the contemporary interpretation of OT law in order to show that the law was not a static thing. Stories given as examples of proper behavior also demonstrated that it was through goodness, and not adherence to the law, that people entered God’s kingdom – the good samaritan (sp?) who helped the ill citizen, when adherents passed because, if the person were dead, it was unclean by OT law standards as understood at the time to touch a dead body, and they would not taint themselves.

I don’t disagree that the bible is contradictory – just only by necessity when read in a vacuum. When read as the word, and literally, then it is, I agree.

fundevogel's avatar

@iamthemob I think you’re making mountains out of mole hills. You mention Christians having an out, but make a fuss about me calling it a pass? Are you looking for a fight, because I don’t see a difference.

I don’t really want to argue about how Christians and Jews choose to interpret their books. There are thousands of ways of variable validity to do that. I’d prefer to stick to the source material thank you very much.

iamthemob's avatar

@fundevogel

Yeah, I wrote it in two parts, and during the second I looked up to see I had written “out”...no fight intended, just didn’t re-edit. ;-)

The odd thing about this is while I have used many references to the contents of the Bible you haven’t used anything in the Bible or the history of Christianity to support your thoughts on it. In fact, when I set you up to accuse me of mis-characterizing YHWH you took the bait. If you were so knowledgeable about what the Bible says how could you fall for that set up?

The problem is when I do go to specific parts of the bible, and how they’ve been interpreted, commenting on how it related, potentially, to certain historical moments, you state:

I don’t really want to argue about how Christians and Jews choose to interpret their books. There are thousands of ways of variable validity to do that. I’d prefer to stick to the source material thank you very much.

The problem is, as I’ve attempted to emphasize throughout the thread, it seems that you only want to argue with biblical literalists. The question was about Christianity and religion generally – and if you characterize the religion in the limited fashion you began with, and state that you want to limit the discussion to “the” source material (of course, books included in the cannon were not the only ones available), then the reason why I’m not providing answers that are satisfactory for you is because you’re not dealing with the question I’m answering.

A fear of addressing contrary views only betrays fear that cherished beliefs are not strong enough to over come criticize. I argue without hesitation because I’m not afraid of being proven wrong. If you show me my position is wrong I want nothing more to do with it. The only stance worth cherishing is one that can’t toppled by uncompromising testing and scrutiny.

But if you limit the conversation to the source material, and don’t deal with any of the cannon of theological interpretation, biblical interpretation, etc. that approaches the Bible as something other than an instruction booklet to be adhered to in the most rigid fashion, then you’re limiting the rules so that, by necessity, you’ll win. And you also will only be arguing with people who insist that the bible is the infallible word of God. Those are the least intellectually interesting Christians to talk to.

Religious practitioners, may in practice pick and choose what part of their holy text to observe, but that’s a far cry from cutting out all the crazy ancient stuff, adding the contributions of later thinkers, and creating a new and improved text which continues to be open for revision as the basis for their religion. So long as sacred texts are the basis of religion, with authority over all other material on the matter, religion can not divorce itself from the content of its sacred texts.

If you stick to the Bible only, of course you won’t see any of the development. But in many ways the very purpose of the Bible can be seen, from certain historical perspectives, to spread and grow the word of God and that of Christ. Indeed, the Protestant Reformation as well as the invention of the printing press were pushed by the demand for bibles translated into something other than latin so that the interpretation of the laws set down, and the dogma attached, to Christianity would not fall under the sole authority of the Catholic church – so that, in essence, every man (I think that limit is probably appropriate) would be given the opportunity to interpret it himself (this of course, not the only reason, but the move was to make the teaching more democratic in nature).

No, but contemporary governments don’t put ancient Greek law on a pedestal. They don’t call it the perfect and sacred will of the Greek people. And they certainly don’t say that we must live our lives according to the will and wisdom of the Greek people.

No…but all contemporary governments essentially do this with their own laws. But in the U.S., we have multiple branches of the government interpreting, reinterpreting, etc., laws that are on the books. Some still insist that the Constitution is a static document, and that in order to reference it we can only do so if we use the original meaning of the founding fathers when the Constitution was written. That’s true to this day. The argument has been used to argue that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot apply to anything but race, as it was written in response to the slavery crisis. That argument was used as the basis for preventing women from voting until well into the 20th century, as “equal protection under the law” was understood to mean equal protection for men only, now disregarding their race, because men were the only ones intended to have rights under the original meaning of the Constitution. Isn’t that ridiculous? Much the same thing can be said for referring solely to the Bible to understand the laws of Christianity and attempting to interpret it literally, from any perspective.

I don’t care how poetic you can make religion sound. I’m only interested in its claims. I already addressed those. but I’m not interested in dressing up clams to religious frippery. I didn’t do any thing to make those claims look ridiculous. I just listed claims. i would have to put conscious effort in to making the claims sound reasonable. It is not my job to make religion look good, but you clearly see anything less as hostility.

No one’s asking you to make religion look good. But if you’re only looking at the Bible, you’re not getting the full story. And if you’re taking the Bible literally, you’re really only going to be debating the stubborn, the closed-minded, or the ignorant. Have at it…more power to you. They do need to be shown the fallibility of a literal interpretation.

You aren’t arguing against my reasons for why I think religion is ridiculous, you’re arguing that no one can know what a given religion is let alone try to figure out if religion makes sense. That’s just anti-intellectualism. And for all the ideas or systems of ideas I’ve encountered religion is far from being the hardest to understand. I can handle religion.

“I don’t really want to argue about how Christians and Jews choose to interpret their books.” See, if I try to expand the argument, you want to limit it to the text of the Bible. That’s not handling religion – that’s handling the Bible, and handling it without any consideration of the historical context. That’s anti-intellectualism. If you’re comfortable minimizing the importance of the variety, and discussing only the claims as you interpret them to be literal, again…that’s great. But it seems you want to limit the rules of the game to the ones you feel comfortable with. That’s of course, your perogative…but I ask that you not be frustrated if I refuse to follow those rules when the very nature of the thread was to examine why it’s proper or improper to limit the discussion. This will often be done with the flippant comments about ridiculous things from the Bible. Aggression can have it’s place in the discussion, as I did come to realize here – but I don’t think it’s honest to claim that the aggression is a reasonable argument when it ignores entire aspects of the belief system it pretends to engage.

fundevogel's avatar

@iamthemob I’ve been reading back over our comments and I think at this point our priorities regarding religion are too disparate to have a meaningful conversation.

I can’t discuss the moral or spiritual validity of Christianity until it can be demonstrated to be true in the first place and you don’t see what the veracity of Biblical claims has to do with being Christian.

If our concerns are different then our arguments will never matter to each other. I expect our failure to understand each other will keep you fuming over the limits of my respect and me grinding my teeth over your indifference to Biblical content.

Shall we let it be and stop trying to concuss ourselves on our respective brickwalls?

AdamF's avatar

Just came across this article and thought I’d throw it into the arena.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/oct/14/atheism-fighting-talk-in-church

iamthemob's avatar

@fundevogel

Let’s put it this way…you’re right. My only question remains (and this requires no answer, because I think this is another thread topic) what you think that my priority regarding religion is, because I don’t really think I have priorities regarding it. I think that meaningful conversation isn’t out of reach – but not if, for some reason, you’re insistent on discussing the veracity of biblical claims. Because here’s the thing – I’ve agreed with every point you’ve made regarding parts of the Bible, but disagree that there is an authoritative interpretation that makes Christianity an invalid vehicle for moral or spiritual growth. So, we can move on from there…or leave it at that.

I’m not at all indifferent to Biblical content – I just don’t know that there’s an authoritative interpretation, particularly considering that Christianity was about the disruption of the Temple authority in a lot of ways, that allow for an assessment of all of the claims as truth or fiction (or worse – lies). Many of them, surely.

This is a new thread, I think…but I wonder how it’s possible to determine moral validity of anything at all.

Paradox's avatar

Geez it took me nearly a minute to get to the bottom to answer this question.

Perhaps it’s this way because religion has no hardcore evidence to being true or observable. The threat of hell and sins along with people not converting to their religion or religious beliefs is not very appealing to even the most morally sound person. Trying to use “science” to prove the Bible rather than using science to find the truth with the most evidence to support it doesn’t help either (namely creation science).

I consider myself to be a nonreligious theist and I consider myself to be a freethinker. I have also found many atheists to be overbearing with their beliefs as well as so-called “liberals”. As a nonreligious theist I have no problem accepting proven and I really mean proven beyond a convincing (not absolute) doubt scientific theories/theorems. Since I do not preach hell or condemn any acts based upon any religion or religious book I will admit it ticks me off when other people can’t respect someone elses theist beliefs whether they are religious or not. However religion and the topics mentioned in the OP are two seperate issues.

I know where you are getting at but for me it is a somewhat difficult question to answer.

iamthemob's avatar

@Paradox – And I think it should be a somewhat difficult question to answer. It’s a fine line because in some cases harsh criticism is warranted, and perhaps the only way to get through to someone. My issue is when it seems to be the default tactic…and there’s no concern that the tactic will shut people out of the discussion (I get the reason why it happens though – as Christianity enjoys a privileged position in the argument, it’s difficult to emotionally reconcile why someone from a secular, atheistic, agnostic, deist or nonreligious standpoint of any manner should feel the need to make them feel welcome to the discussion as historically Christianity has worked through the church to silence contrary viewpoints, often violently).

Paradox's avatar

It all comes down to which side of the political fence you’re on. Naturally because many liberals consider themselves educated and support gay rights, gun control, abortion rights, enviroment among other issues they will obviously be more inclined to bash fundamentalist religion, especially Christianity since this is the religion many liberal atheists grew up with.

You have the other side here who places their religious beliefs over the above mentioned topics. Naturally they are conservative or even label themselves as “Christian Conservatives” who happen to be on the polar opposite end of the above issues I’ve mentioned and usually these people will try to use the Bible to justify all their beliefs.

I think it all comes down to each person’s individual political or religious beliefs. Simple question to answer but yet complicated.

cockswain's avatar

Just stumbled on this thread and skimmed it. All I can add is I think I used to be fairly prejudiced against people of any religion, but I think that was a by-product of my anger at feeling duped for many years as I shed my Christian upbringing. Fluther has had a hand in helping me continue to shed those knee-jerk prejudices against religious people. I still don’t believe any god is monitoring my thoughts and think those that do are creating harmful illusions for themselves, but I no longer feel the urge to explain to those that do believe that they are wrong. Fluther let me rant and argue that out of my system.

Plus I think I’m generally more likable by being less judgmental (doesn’t Christianity say something about that?). Not my goal, but another pleasant by-product. There’s been a bunch of lessons I’ve learned in changing of how I think. I’ve actually stuck up for a few Christian friends who were being coerced into justifying their beliefs. I wouldn’t have done that a year ago. Now I think as long as religious people do their thing without worrying about what anyone else is doing, they can do whatever the hell they want.

HOWEVER, lately I’ve been struggling with the notion: do parents have the moral right to “encourage” a child into their personal faith? Maybe should be its own thread, but I tell my daughter what various religions believe, tell her what I believe, and tell her I will support whatever she chooses is right for her to believe.

iamthemob's avatar

All I can add is I think I used to be fairly prejudiced against people of any religion, but I think that was a by-product of my anger at feeling duped for many years as I shed my Christian upbringing

As did I. But it wasn’t because I felt duped. I never was raised to believe it. I felt anger because it was the reason why I get called faggot and am told I’ll burn in hell much of the time.

Plus I think I’m generally more likable by being less judgmental (doesn’t Christianity say something about that?). Not my goal, but another pleasant by-product.

I agree. Even if we do get into “it” sometimes. ;-)

Now I think as long as religious people do their thing without worrying about what anyone else is doing, they can do whatever the hell they want.

Amen.

do parents have the moral right to “encourage” a child into their personal faith? Maybe should be its own thread, but I tell my daughter what various religions believe, tell her what I believe, and tell her I will support whatever she chooses is right for her to believe.

Good question! I think that should be another thread – but I’ll say what you’re doing is how I plan on raising my children.

AdamF's avatar

“Maybe should be its own thread, but I tell my daughter what various religions believe, tell her what I believe, and tell her I will support whatever she chooses is right for her to believe.”

In addition to the above, I will also discuss with my daughters the reasons why those differences in religions occur, and the massive fundamental difference between believing something based on faith, dogma, or authority, and basing a belief on evidence and reason.

With those tools I hope they will be well equiped to sort justified claims from unsubstantiated claims, regardless of whether they are relgious claims or not.

urbanprimate's avatar

damn good question. religious diversity is like cultural diversity. were 99.5% percent the same (genetically) but we all appear to others differently

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