In general it seems that the saying never to discuss religion or politics holds true. People get too emotional (myself included) and it seems to de-humanize who you’re talking to. I prefer to look at people as they are, fallible and frail, potentially able to rise above a difficult situation and do the right thing, or have sympathy for the suffering that we seem to have no choice but to go through and which injures us to the point of a terrible sickness of the soul. We are all alike in this way, no matter what we believe in.
What’s wrong with getting emotional? Emotions aren’t necessarily bad things. It’s good for us to have emotions and identify them.
Also, why would having a discussion about a persons’ deepest beliefs de-humanize them? For me it’s the opposite. If you are talking with something about something very obvious that everyone agrees upon, like the weather it isn’t all that revealing of a conversation. But to me what makes humans most distinctly what they are is the deep and passionate beliefs they have and their desire and capability for seeking and self reflection.
Beliefs systems are inherently tribal and political anyway — they serve to divide as much as to unite, perhaps to unite to divide?, conquer and rule. It’s more about sheep following a shepherd at a certain point, with the individuality and therefore sympathy for the individual being lost, a belief system by those in power being imposed by a matter of “you’re either in or you’re out,” defeating the whole point of inclusion and ultimately, making EVERY religious belief system exclusive at a certain point.
I have to disagree with you there. While all belief systems will divide between people who agree and people who don’t some belief systems seek to be inclusive. Some people just don’t want to be included. Think about the people who shared a belief that all people should have equal rights in the eyes of the law. The people that were part of those civil rights movements wanted everyone to be included. Yes this was political, but it wasn’t a move to gain power for a certain group of people, but to disseminate power equally to all people.
I agree with Odi that many Atheists are just as bad as many religious people, but so far in this thread i haven’t seen much of a problem from anyone preaching or getting up on a soap -box to dignify or spread their respective believes.
I think the furthest we’ve gone is to explain our personal belief systems and how that correlates with our specific viewpoints.
Yeah, that’s what I was hoping for.
It’s highly doubtful that anyone is going to convert anyone to radically change their belief system just through posting on a forum here. In fact, I’d be pretty worried if someone did change their beliefs just based on what people were saying here. But what this does do is help us to understand our fellow man better. Understanding leads to love and peace, which it seems like everyone is for.
Here is a question to Christians. I have been a personal admirer of Mother Teresa, a foreigner nun who single-mindedly devoted her life for lepers and orphans in Calcutta without any ulterior motive of converting them. Why can’t the non believers find inspiration in such noble souls who belonged to the Christian faith?
Service is all about being good to people and helping them. You don’t need to be rich to help others. A caring caress on the back of a person needing comfort can be more satisfying than almost any materialistic pleasure in life. Don’t think about the fallacies in your religion. Think about what is the primary foundation that most religions are based on and that my friends is Service.
Riss — I’m talking about when people let their passions rule them. They tend to stomp everything out based on how they feel. It’s REALLY important to use your intellect to curb your emotion. This is a basic rule of thumb, based on wisdom, don’t you think? I never said emotions were wrong, I said out of control emotions were wrong.
I think the civil rights movement and the sort of brainwashing that goes on in religion — i.e. you will go to hell if you don’t join us — is pretty different.
It’s highly doubtful that anyone is going to convert anyone to radically change their belief system just through posting on a forum here. In fact, I’d be pretty worried if someone did change their beliefs just based on what people were saying here.
Ok, changing your mind because of just one conversation might be a surprise, but people do change their mind as they learn more and think things through. Such changes are often slow, so even when looking back, you often cannot peg them to any point.
^ Yeah, and I’m very easily convinced about a lot of things!! :)
I guess what we’ve come to, as Brad effectively pointed out, is that some people see abuses of religion as grounds to reject it outright, while others find an inherent value to religion that transcends the distortions of religion that humans make in the name of power. Personally, I don’t see the Catholic Church’s sex scandals as a reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Everybody knows that people are flawed and do bad things, and priests are no exception, and the Catholic Church (as well as every major religion and non-religion) readily acknowledges this. Even the pope goes to confession like a couple times a day!
I don’t feel like personal abuses of something are enough to ruin its essence. And I think there’s a lot more to religion and spirituality than the way people use it to gain power. But yeah, my religious views are pretty much all over the place. I feel pretty pro-Catholic today.
Anyway, something that I do have a problem with is the marriage paradox – where the woman is supposed to be submissive to the man, but both partners serve each other. Could you expand on this, Riss? I genuinely don’t understand, and would like to know what your beliefs are. What do you mean by “submissive” and “servant” in that context? What does that mean specifically for you and your fiancee? Do you make most of the decisions, or am I misunderstanding submissive? I hope I didn’t come across as too negative a while ago when you first posted that!
that some people see abuses of religion as grounds to reject it outright
I would say the abuses are reasons to oppose it. That religion is based on bad thinking is reason enough to reject it. Two different issues really. But, of course, when you are looking to excuse abuse, you have no choice but to use bad thinking of some kind.
Personally, I don’t see the Catholic Church’s sex scandals as a reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Well, look at the Catholic policy more broadly. For instance, it would have made a big difference in the AIDS epidemic if the Catholic churches had actively promoted the best public health policy instead of opposing it based on their weird and ugly ideas about birth control. And even more broadly than that, social and economic development is strongly linked to bringing down birth rates. Only when women can separate their sex lives from reproduction does it become possible for them to earn their own incomes and gain some autonomy from their husbands. With fewer births, women are healthier. With smaller families, parents can invest more in the upbringing and education of their children particularly the girls. If the Catholic hierarchy hadn’t locked itself into such bad thinking, its churches could have participated in an immense improvement in people’s lives around the world. Instead, they opposed this and still do. They are not on the side of promoting human welfare.
Religion and God have nothing to do with each other. I see no problem rejecting the church but believing in God (or even believing in the church’s teachings, etc.)
Religion is about man, not God.
Only when women can separate their sex lives from reproduction does it become possible for them to earn their own incomes and gain some autonomy from their husbands. With fewer births, women are healthier. With smaller families, parents can invest more in the upbringing and education of their children particularly the girls. If the Catholic hierarchy hadn’t locked itself into such bad thinking, its churches could have participated in an immense improvement in people’s lives around the world. Instead, they opposed this and still do. They are not on the side of promoting human welfare.
^ This. When you are a woman, this is a VERY major reason to throw out the Catholic Church — the institution. This affects your life in a MAJOR way, DFFOO.
I have two basic reasons for actively opposing religion. One is that it is a bad mode of thinking, and people can and should do better. But the more important reason is that I’m not indifferent to the suffering around the world and want to oppose it. The worst thing for women everywhere are the authoritarian traditionalists who use religion to buttress their effort to control societies the way they see fit. If you care about things like equality and civil rights, you have to fight that kind of religious thinking.
I think Christians would agree with that. The thing is you can’t lump all religion into that kind of thinking. Christians are certainly opposing that kind of thinking and fighting against that kind of suffering and low view of the value of human life.
I haven’t read the book “How Christianity Changed the World” by Alvin J. Schmidt, but I recently came across this summation of some of some of the ways Christians have historically foughts for laws that support equality and civil rights:
Historian Alvin Schmidt points out how the spread of Christianity and Christian influence on government was primarily responsible for outlawing infanticide, child abandonment, and abortion in the Roman Empire (in AD 374); outlawing the brutal battles-to-the-death in which thousands of gladiators had died (in 404); outlawing the cruel punishment of branding the faces of criminals (in 315); instituting prison reforms such as the segregating of male and female prisoners (by 361); stopping the practice of human sacrifice among the Irish, the Prussians, and the Lithuanians as well as among other nations; outlawing pedophilia; granting of property rights and other protection to women; banning polygamy (which is still practiced in some Muslim nations today); prohibiting the burning alive of widows in India (in 1829); outlawing the painful and crippling practice of binding young women’s feet in China (in 1912); persuading government officials to begin a system of public [Christian] schools in Germany (in the sixteenth century); and advancing the idea of compulsory education of all children in a number of European countries.
During the history of the church, Christians have had a decisive influence in opposing and often abolishing slavery in the Roman Empire, in Ireland, and in most of Europe (though Schmidt frankly notes that a minority of “erring” Christian teachers have supported slavery in various centuries). In England, William Wilberforce, a devout Christian, led the successful effort to abolish the slave trade and then slavery itself throughout the British Empire by 1840.
In the United States, though there were vocal defenders of slavery among Christians in the South, they were vastly outnumbered by the many Christians who were ardent abolitionists, speaking, writing, and agitating constantly for the abolition of slavery in the United States. Schmidt notes note that two-thirds of the American abolitionists in the mid-1830s were Christian clergymen, and he gives numerous examples of the strong Christian commitment of several of the most influential of the antislavery crusaders …. The American civil rights movement that resulted in the outlawing of the racial segregation and discrimination was led by Martin Luther King Jr., a Christian pastor, and supported by many Christian churches and groups.
Those people who only have religion as a socializing/recreational activity—suitable for a potluck—don’t bother me much. But if they take it seriously (as so very many do) and insist that their dodgy religious ideas ought to be used to organize our society and write our laws, then I come out against them.
Both of these groups bother me. Not that I don’t enjoy just being social and potlucks, but if that’s all people get out of their religion they aren’t getting anything out of it that a social club would have done instead. And for people who are trying to legistlate morality that in any way denies personal liberties then they are not going to accomplish anything other than shaming those who don’t agree with them. Morality is not achieved by forcing behavior. It’s a heart issue. Anyone ever seen A Clockwork Orange? I love that film, and actually see it as a Christian allegory.
See Jazz!! There’s another way my Christian viewpoint can affect the way I see films. I doubt many people who don’t hold Christian beliefs would label A Clockwork Orange as a Christian film, but I see a lot of that in there.
Again – I don’t see the errors of religious institutions as a reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I think that religion as a whole has done much more good than bad – it’s just that the bad is very sensational.
But I’m still curious about the Christian perspective on marriage, Riss (or Jazz or anybody). Are you still thinking about that?
Also, Jazz has been notably absent from this discussion – where are you Jazz?
Sure I can identify with ‘hell on Earth’—I think people create their own hells all the time (addiction is a good example). I have no issue with that concept. I also hold out for the possibility of some kind of spiritual ‘purgatory’ where your soul wrestles with itself over whatever issues are holding it back from self-actualization before entering ‘heaven’, or as I would call it, the union with the eternal consciousness.
The concept that I’ll never be able to accept, is of the ‘vengeful god’. For me, the idea that something divine could hold such human traits as wrath or vengeance is just contradictory. This is akin to Greek mythology, and I see much of the OT as exactly that.
That is totally understandable. And while it may not convince you totally, I think you should listen to this audio recording of a sermon by Tim Keller. I think you will find a lot of insights and potentially some new understanding. I hope you can find time to listen to it, and I’ll be very interested in what your reactions are.
Hell: Isn’t the God of Christianity an angry Judge?
I also encourage anyone else who finds the idea of hell horrible and irreconcilable with the idea of God as a loving God.
I’ve really been affected by Tim Keller. I think he speaks well and makes his points well, and is very in tune with people who like to think of themselves as intellectuals. I’ll probably be posting some more of his stuff because he did a series of sermons and a book called “The Reason For God” that have affected me greatly. In fact if you read it you’ll probably see that I’ve been plagerizing a lot of his perspectives.
it’s just that the bad is very sensational.
It’s not sensational – it deserves the criticism it gets.
If you take a stand as a moral authority, esp. in the hierarchy of your organization, then you deserve all the ire you draw by being a hypocrite, particularly if your organization hides your activities for years.
This is the same thing with politics. People deserve punishment for their, for lack of a better word, sins.
You cannot dismiss that, DFFOO, by calling it “sensational.”
I’m not dismissing that. I’m just saying that I think that religion has done more good than harm. It’s just the bad is very sensational, and the good isn’t, so the bad is what gets discussed. That doesn’t make it any less bad. And it shouldn’t be ignored. It’s just not enough for me to think that religion as a whole is bad, like Downbylaw says.
Well I don’t think it’s bad as a whole. I think the bad and the good are as balanced and/or unbalanced as any human institution — because it’s made out of people, and people are fallible. That’s where it gets ridiculous, not to question leaders. And that’s what the Catholic church expects from its people, as do many religions. They may state this or that, but as you can see people trying to change anything is the equivalent of direct democracy, which our forefathers thought was bad business, because they looked upon the masses as well… the unwashed masses.
At least in a democracy, you can vote jerks out of office. With religious institutions, “God” appoints them, in a manner of speaking.
What the hell is that? Who has the gall to stake the claim that they are so special that they cannot be questioned, they cannot be thrown out, and worse, that they can abuse the power of their authority with little consequence?
THAT is fucked up.
I think the bad and the good are as balanced and/or unbalanced as any human institution — because it’s made out of people, and people are fallible
Yep, that’s what I think, too!
The reason I said “annoying” is that I want to make it clear that atheists can be just as annoying as religious people. Not because I was attacking any one person on this thread. This was in response to Santino saying that the atheists that he had met were not as aggressive as the religious people he had met. Well there ARE aggressive atheists out there, and I provided an example in my link to the Santa Monica incident.
Let’s post a news story about where people react positively instead of negatively! :) A friend showed me this one just today as a motivation to show the goal of showing love and support to all people even if you don’t all disagree:
I think I can answer that! It comes from the fact that very few people (if anybody at all) would choose an unfair or unjust society from behind a veil of ignorance.
I don’t think that is true. Say there is a person who believes truely and deeply that he is part of a suprior race and other races are inferior and do not deserve the same rights as him. Even if you put him behind a veil of ignorance and told him to deisgn the laws of a society where he does not know what race he would be in it, he would still design the society to give less rights to those races he felt were inferior. He believes this so strongly that if he then found himself to be placed in this society as one of those inferior races he would see himself as inferior and resign himself to having less rights. Of course once he actually has to live in those shoes he may change his mind. But I do think there are a lot of people out there whose racist beliefs go that deep.
Question for you, Riss: Why would God make us want to have our own purposes that are diametrically opposed to His? I just don’t really understand any justification of the idea that God’s purposes are different from our own.
It’s a good question, and I don’t know if I know all of the reasons or the whole reason. But I do feel like this is the way the world works.
It’s not that our purposes are diametrically opposed to his. It’s that we invent false purposes for ourselves that are opposed to his. It seems to go something along these lines. He has given us the freedom to chose our true purpose to worship and obey him and experience the fullness of what we were created for through that. Or we can chose to worship his creation. God is glorified in us turning to him even though he doesn’t force us.
Yet at the same time we are also told that not a single person choses God on his own. Not one. It is is God’s gift of faith upon us that causes us to chose him and accept his grace.
This is one of the most difficult things for me to rectify logically. Almost all who believe this will admit it seems like a logical paradox, but that’s the way it is. There are a lot of blessings to accepting this is the way it is though.
Maybe Brentos has some insights?
Where does that come from? Just from Jesus?
Well it comes from God, and Jesus is God, so I guess so.
I had a question as well that was conveniently ignored or was it too silly for you people?
Who is “you people?”
>>Here is a question to Christians. I have been a personal admirer of Mother Teresa, a foreigner nun who single-mindedly devoted her life for lepers and orphans in Calcutta without any ulterior motive of converting them. Why can’t the non believers find inspiration in such noble souls who belonged to the Christian faith?<<
Here’s Rohit’s question, so “you people” are the Christians here. I would be shocked if any of them had a problem with non-believers finding such inspiration in good people.
Um yeah. I’m not getting the question. Why would anyone have a problem with anyone being a good person, no matter their beliefs? Good is good.
so isn’t that enough for you in any religion or you want everything to be 100% perfect?
We get down to the exclusivity of religions now. The time to identify tribes. Divide people. The survival of the fittest.
Did anyone read my link to that CNN article a few pages back? It talks about that…
I was pretty clear on the original question, but I’m not sure I understand the follow up.
I think he may be talking about the urge to convert. As in, why is it necessary for conversion to occur if someone who is not of your faith respects you despite your faith?
Well…I saw a lot of comments about what is wrong in Christianity. I was highlighting the good parts of it. God lies in being good to people and being of service to humanity. That’s all religion is about. I can’t see why we would have any atheists at all based on this philosophy.
I fully agree with the first part of your posts, but I see no reason not to respect the choice of some people to be Atheists as well.