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Religion

Discussion in 'General' started by PJF, Oct 25, 2007.

  1. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    One thing that I've noticed over the good few years I've been frequenting international English-speaking websites - a good many people all over the world are quite concerned with our politics and the general mass-mindset of our citizens. And probably with good reason...

    I think you're pretty mature on this subject, and you seem to be pretty even-minded about it. There's quite a bit of atheism-outing going on in our country right now, and I think it's a good sign. Not because we're out to eradicate religion or anything - but just because atheism has been such a taboo for so long. By a long step, the highest-ranking non-theist in our government is a lone Congressman out of several hundred. I think that is clearly not so much that all of them are theists in practice, but that they all know it could easily cost them their position if their true thoughts on the subject were known, not because of any official "religious test" in our Constitution, but because the vote itself for so many is a religious test.

    Religious tolerance to a high degree is required, nearly anywhere you go, simply because there are so many religions and denominations within religions that it is truly impossible to get everyone to agree on any one religion. That is precisely the problem that brought about our founders' dedication to separating church and state. A man might feel like it is his duty to god and to his fellow man to make an official church, but he realizes that this will open up the path for another religion to seize control and force him to practice a religion he does not agree with.

    In the US, Christianity is undeniably predominant. Something close to 90% of all Americans, depending on which study you peruse, claim belief in some god or another. Over 80% claim Christianity. Probably quite a few less than that go to church regularly. The solid fundamentalists make up about 30% of our voters, and something around another 20% are at least in part influenced by Christian fundamentalist ideas.

    This is something that will change - not quickly, but gradually, as it becomes more socially acceptable to profess atheism.

    Weren't we talking about that on another thread? :p
     
  2. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    False. The problems are rooted in power not religion. No religion is centered on brutality and war. Religion is used to justifiy going to war. Furthermore, those who say that their religion urges them to fight, are misinterpreting the words. Take for example Islamic extremists, they skew their own religion and any Muslim around the world would tell you that their religion is a peaceful one.
     
  3. demonic_advent

    demonic_advent New Member

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    I believe that humans cannot grasp the power of religion, and sometimes use it as an excuse to perform evil deeds. (Ex. Crusades, Jihad, Holocaust, etc.)
     
  4. chopinman0901

    chopinman0901 New Member

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    What I'm saying is that if there was no religion, there would be no power or influence to abuse based on faith.
     
  5. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

  6. PJF

    PJF New Member Piano Society Artist

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    HAHA! That's a keeper.
     
  7. PJF

    PJF New Member Piano Society Artist

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    If you missed very fist post:

    First, I have to say that I pass no personal judgment on any single person's belief system nor do I ever make any attempt to convert anyone to mine.

    I was born of Roman Catholic parents and raised in the traditions of the Church. Up until age seven, I took the teachings as sacrosanct. Then, one day, an epiphany occurred. Having just finished reading the bible cover to cover, I could see the unreconciled differences between The Book and reality. I couldn't help feeling I'd been taken for a fool. Of course, I immediately squelched these horrid ideas my sinful little mind had cooked up against an infallible, a perfect religion which, as I had been informed, was Catholicism. I eventually came to the realization that every faith ever practiced in the history of humanity has caused a cessation of intellect; if one book has all the answers and is unquestionable, then what incentive is there to think about anything else? I deeply hold the belief that any embrace of immutable dogma is a grave sin.

    I believe faith is a function of the limits of the human psyche. It never fails; if we understand an idea, we take it as common sense, never invoking faith of any kind; we don't believe in a rain-god, because we understand the water-cycle; our astrophysicists understand a branch of calculus known as perturbation theory, therefore we don't need a god to explain the otherwise miraculous stability of the planets' orbits around our sun. Isaac Newton did not understand perturbation theory (it had yet to be discovered); because of that lack in his knowledge (which was vast but limited, to be sure), he could not mathematically explain the regularity and stability of our solar-system. According to his calculations, the orbits should be unstable, causing the planets and moons to fly away along random paths. In his Principia he concluded that this could only be due to an omnipotent force:

    "The six primary Planets are revolv'd about the Sun, in circles concentric with the Sun, and with motions directed towards the same parts, and almost in the same plane....But it is not to be conceived that mere mechanical causes could give birth to so many regular motions.
    ...This most beautiful System of the Sun, Planets and Comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being."


    Just as soon as we reach the boundaries of knowledge, we chalk up events to the supernatural. This is dangerous. We humans don't handle superstition very well, we get afraid, we worry about others' views of it, we kill and die over it. From A.D. 800-1100, Baghdad was the science capital of the world (Arabic numbers and algebra are products of this intellectually fertile period). Then Imam Hamid al-Ghazali (A.D. 1058-1111) whose philosophy basically said math is the work of the devil enters the equation. He forbade any thinking beyond the Koran, thereby undoing any intellectual progress and ushering in an age of violent fundamentalism that continues to this day. The Catholic teachings against contraception have had a profoundly negative impact in some parts of Africa, where use of condoms is considered sinful, but overpopulation and high AIDS rates are somehow taken for granted. Religion often tells us what is right, even if we know better.

    . . .

    I base my belief system on one premise: as an integral (albeit infinitesimal) part of reality, the ultimate job of being human is to humbly respect what actually is, regardless of what our terribly limited minds may want to think. Existence exists. I don't think anyone can disagree on that point. Since existence exists (in whatever form it does) we are compelled toward honest acknowledgment, whether we understand it or not.

    So, do I belong to a sect? No. Am I an atheist, a deist, a pantheist? No, no, no. Am I undecided? No. Do I believe in the existence of God? That is an unanswerable question. Do I have faith? Yes, I have 100 percent faith in the fact that what is, IS.

    The entirety of reality may be infinite, therefore impossible to define. It makes no sense to assign anything as the last word.

    Respectfully submitted,
    PF
     
  8. Anonymous

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    The point is: how do you know what IS? I think you can't know anything for sure. The only way to get information is to use your eyes, ears etc. And sometimes people 'see'/'hear' things they cannot see/hear, things that don't really 'exist'. So how can you know what IS?
     
  9. Adam

    Adam New Member

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    Looks like someone's been reading Plato? We can never know what IS and what ISN'T. Our minds can often be deceived so that we see or hear things that aren't there. All we can do is to assume that if several people have seen/heard something in the exact same way at the same moment, it IS.

    Religion IS power. Take a look at the pope; He doesn't want people to use condoms, and people listen to him because he's the pope. Then look at what's happening in Africa ( HIV all over the place ). This may not really be a war, but Christianity is certanly screwing people over.

    Well, I haven't read the Koran myself, so feel free to disregard this next bit, but people often say that the Koran has some really nasty bits in it. I've heard that it litterly states that anyone who does not believe in Allah should me killed on sight. Women are also often treated as garbage because the Koran says that men are superior to women. Again, I haven't read the Koran myself, so this may not be true at all, but still... there must be a reason why the Islam has such a bad reputation.
     
  10. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    And Zeno too.
     
  11. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    This is not so different from the Bible - except for the 'killing on sight' bit, if that is true. The Bible just says that non-believers must be converted, and that is a Christian's most important task.
    I haven't read the Koran either - but repeatedly read that it has much in common with the Bible. The history of Christianity is every bit as bloody as what Islam is going through now. Perhaps it's a phase........ When Europe was in the dark middle ages, and America yet undiscovered, Islamic world was a model of tolerance and wisdom. How things have changed.
     
  12. demonic_advent

    demonic_advent New Member

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    Crusades... Jihad... both stem from one religion being threatened by another.

    Personally, I think that religion actually has more power than any kind of government out there.
    Especially considering that it is often directly or indirectly in control of those governments.

    George W. Bush = Actually believes that he talks to God. His christian religious background plays a massive role in his political decisions.

    And about the Koran... I can't claim to have read it myself either... however what I have been taught in my religion classes at school is that the Koran is open to numerous interpretations, because it rarely says anything directly upfront. Thus, the extremisits can claim that it calls for a Jihad, whilst the more moderate can see it as a means for a peaceful lifestyle.

    But that's just what was taught to me by various teachers. It's obviously not a substitute for actually reading the Koran.

    But now I feel inspired... perhaps I should look it up...
     
  13. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    That, I think, is more or less the case with the bible too. It means different things to different people, depending on what they want to achieve. Another way in which the two books have much in common.
    It would be interesting to read the Koran, if one had time for it, and understand better what Islam is about - and what it's not about. I think though it needs many years of study and guidance to get the fine points, and you still need to doa lot of interpretation for yourself.
     
  14. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    It's difficult to get away from the violence with Islam, fundamentally, because the religion was spread by the sword, by Muhammad himself.
     
  15. PJF

    PJF New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I have only one problem with religion(s). The practice of faith.

    For clarity, I use "faith" meaning: firm belief in something for which there is no proof.

    When one or a group then go about proclaiming truths deduced through faith, ergo the problem.

    Pete
     
  16. PJF

    PJF New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I'm supremely irritated. (Maybe it's the 40 degree heat.)

    Every time I see my very kind aunt, she rather innocently opens up a discussion about religion (which is fine), but then proceeds with a rather forceful attempt at converting me to Catholicism! It's an obsession of hers that borders on insanity. This gets my goat worse than anything (although I never display any sign of vexation). And of course, I'm compelled to engage her in a 4 hour argument about the presence or absence of the Trinity. This has been going on for almost 5 years. It exhausts me! I wish she would just shut up for a minute and enjoy the moment, instead of incessantly trying to mold my world view to hers.

    I never attempt to convert others from their belief system to mine; I think doing so is sort of rude, if you ask me. Last time auntie made her predictably not-so-subtle move to change me, I almost lost control of my emotions (I'm practically Vulcan, you know :lol:). I'm not one for yelling at someone, but I am very close to giving her a verbal slap-in-the-face. I can count the number of times I've lost lost my temper in my life on one hand. Really, I don't want want to add another (middle) finger. I've tried telling her directly but politely to stop the nonstop onslaught, but she just can't turn off the holy-roller attitude.

    I love her to death and I don't want to hurt her. What should I do?!?! :?

    Again, respectfully submitted,
    Pete.
     
  17. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    She should see that forcing someone to believe (whatever the belief maybe--Elvis is still living or 2 + 2= 5 or the Doctrines of Catholicism) is not a genuine conversion; therefore it would be correct for her to take to heart that if someone comes to believe is much better than trying to force it.


    As for your actions: don't explode, don't yell. Patience is a virtue. Silence when appropriate. It is hard to bite the bullet but, as you said, you love her and I think that by yelling at her it would only cripple the love.

    I hope this helps just a tad.
     
  18. PJF

    PJF New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yes, that did help, a lot. I never thought of letting her know that I'll never believe 2 + 2 = 5 is true, unless I see that 2 apples plus 2 apples clearly amounts to 5 on my plate! I truly am searching for the truth, as honestly as possible. (I read just as much Peter Kreft as Richard Dawkins.)

    I never really could explode and I am patient to a fault. Sarcasm, however is one of my strong (weak :roll: ) points. :lol:

    Perhaps what I may do (with ulterior motives) is start the conversation about religion and try to convert her to my sort of science-based agnostic hybrid atheism/pantheism/deism (I don't even know what 'religion' I am.) I could ask her what she is reading (she's very concerned with me reading anything by Richard Dawkins, even if its about biology and not even remotely about faith). I could proudly and militantly shove my Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris books upon her and proceed to vehemently explain how everything she believes is summarily false (of course I would never do that, since proving false anyone's faith is impossible. Somehow, I don't think the talk would last even 1 hour.

    On the other hand, perhaps not.

    Thanks, J.
     
  19. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I don't know if your large paragraph was sarcastic or serious, but you don't want to be a hypocrite. Don't try to force her to believe what you may (or may not) believe because you'd be doing the same thing she has been doing.
     
  20. PJF

    PJF New Member Piano Society Artist

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    (I was being sarcastic.) If I ever did decide to argue in that fashion, it would not be in an attempt at conversion but rather to illustrate to her the futility of such forcing.

    I know what I'm going to do, now. Next time she says anything along the lines of proselytizing, I'm going to sharply (but quietly) interrupt her and say "I don't want to have this conversation anymore this year. My mind is still open and we can have this discussion all during Holy Week but please not outside of that time." If she doesn't respect that, I won't engage in anymore debates. Fair, no?
     

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