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  #201  
Old 03-27-2009, 08:01 PM
uncle ebeneezer uncle ebeneezer is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

I assumed that he knows I was talking to him. Especially with the Philly reference I threw out there.

For clarification, Happy B-day AemJeff. From Uncle Eb
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  #202  
Old 03-27-2009, 08:17 PM
graz graz is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
Quote:
[...]
Thanks for the answer. I wasn't trying to entrap you into condoning lawlessness. After all, you are a lawyer.

People, religious or otherwise often make for lousy neighbors. My ideal neighbor is quiet, respectful of shared privacy and accepting of my disdain for proselytizing.

P.S. I hope that you have an opportunity to address Wonderment's last post.

Last edited by graz; 03-27-2009 at 08:23 PM..
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  #203  
Old 03-27-2009, 08:39 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle ebeneezer View Post
I assumed that he knows I was talking to him. Especially with the Philly reference I threw out there.
Yes, I noticed. I wanted him to notice too.

Quote:
For clarification, Happy B-day AemJeff. From Uncle Eb
Nice!
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  #204  
Old 03-27-2009, 08:57 PM
Abu Noor Al-Irlandee Abu Noor Al-Irlandee is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

Wonderment, I think we're again talking past each other to a certain extent.

I think you joint two different issues here and I'm not entirely clear why they have to be related...although I could assume an argument as to why I don't want to assume.

There is one issue with scientific or historical claims in scripture that were perhaps at one time believed and then later have been thought to be contradicted by science.

There is a different issue with moral claims made in scripture. Such claims cannot, as I've stated repeatedly, be disproved by science. So, the bible says you shouldn't eat pork because God doesn't want you to....science cannot ever "prove" that actually God does want you to or doesn't think it's a big deal. It's not a scientific question.

I guess (and here is where the assuming comes in) you are saying, well if we no longer believe the historical or scientific claims of scripture, then of course we don't believe the moral claims either. (I guess you're saying that now we know the scripture is not "authentic" so we just don't accept it necessarily, although you say it can still be a guide, I guess, as long as reason backs it up (again, I have no idea how reason weighs in on many of these questions).

Of course, while I've been trying to study the bible more lately, I'm no expert on it. I think it must be said that the Qur'an is a very different book than the bible. That doesn't mean that one couldn't raise some of the same issues you raise about the bible with respect to the Qur'an but really the questions involved would be much different and I say that not because I believe in the Qur'an and don't believe in the Bible, but because it is a very different book.

Do you claim science has proved that monotheism is not better than polytheism? How in the world would science have anything to say about that? Again, I really don't see what you are claiming for science.

By the way, your little statement about the unbeliever who takes nothing on faith alone could not be much further from being accurate, the vast majority of people who either have no faith at all or know nothing about their faith which is a large group of people take things "on faith" without engaging in any reasoning process constantly all day long and this includes not only little things that one could argue are not worth a long reasoning process as well as the most important questions they will face in their lives: this includes deciding who to fall in love with, who to marry, what career to go into, how to dress, what they think is correct behavior towards parents, towards neighbors, towards wives, towards children, what they should eat and what they shouldn't, what wars to support, who to vote for, etc. etc. the vast majority of these decisions are made by people whether religious or avowed atheist on the basis of what their parents taught them, what the other kids in the neighborhood did, random chance, what they thoughts was cool, some "feeling" they had, etc. etc. As Mark Lilla ascribes to David Hume (who would undoubtedly agree with your larger point) "the limits of the human mind render us unable to demonstrate even a connection between cause and effect. On this basis he was able to make an unusual argument: not that faith is irrational, but that it is ubiquitous.

Even in those cases in politics or law or what have you where reason is consciously put forward as a justification for actions or beliefs, it is most of the time put forward as an after the fact justification (whether sincere or insincere in the person's mind) for decisions made on the basis of interest, tradition, prejudice or for no discernible reason at all.

You think reason or science allows you to have an answer to the guy who is pro-life (purely on the basis of reason) if you are pro-choice (purely on the basis of reason?

I think you'll find people change their mind on moral questions just as often on the basis of religious argument as on the basis of any argument based on "reason." Of course, most of the time they don't change their mind at all, or they never cared in the first place.

I'm a bit tired, so I hope I'm not being flip. I'm actually not trying to convince any of you guys in this discussion...just trying to give you a peak into my mind. I certainly understand why people are skeptical of appeals to religion or revelation. I have no idea why people have any trust in appeals to reason or science in the realm of morality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
Abu,

I don't claim that morality is scientific.

I only claim that morality -- to be taken seriously -- has to be evidence-based and make some sense. You can't just make it up and it cannot stand in defiance of science (i.e, things we know to be true).

A moral claim has to be well-argued, and the arguments from authority/scripture/ revelation are weak and have been rendered almost ridiculous by modern science.

In pre-scientific times claims about miraculous events, the authenticity of sacred scripture could be made with a straight face: God dictated the Torah word-for-word on Mt. Sinai; the Church incarnates the Pope (by magical ritual) as the Vicar of Jesus on Earth; monotheism is intrinsically superior to "primitive" religions; the female sex was created from a male's rib, and so on.

Modern lingusitics, archaelogy, anthopology, sociology and related sciences (not to mention biology, astronomy and geology in other areas) have reduced the assorted claims about sacred texts to mythology.

The myths of course, can still be a good guide to behavior and a good source of inspiration, role models, evocations of spiritual experience, etc. What they can't be are factual accounts of what happened OR stand-alone moral absolutes.

To be a literalist (i.e. to unquestioningly accept the moral does and don't of the scriptures) is to deny science and reason. Why? Because you ultimately have no reasons for your assertions other than "God says so." You have no answer to the guy from the next religion who says his god claims the opposite or to the non-believer who accepts nothing on faith alone.
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  #205  
Old 03-27-2009, 09:05 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

Happy Birthday, Jeff!

Good place to also note your triumphant rise to first place among Bhead posters. Of course, Brendan doesn't count, since he is so off the charts as to be in a league of his own. Members of the illustrious 1000 Club are listed below:

bjkeefe 6,942

AemJeff 1,787

Wonderment 1,761

TwinSwords 1,460

piscivorous 1,305

Ocean 1,228

uncle ebeneezer 1,183

graz 1,012
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  #206  
Old 03-27-2009, 09:14 PM
graz graz is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

Happy Birthday.

Exactly how was it a surprise party if you were welcoming the guests? I could guess, but share your b-day story if you like.
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  #207  
Old 03-27-2009, 09:29 PM
graz graz is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abu Noor Al-Irlandee View Post
There is a different issue with moral claims made in scripture. Such claims cannot, as I've stated repeatedly, be disproved by science. So, the bible says you shouldn't eat pork because God doesn't want you to....science cannot ever "prove" that actually God does want you to or doesn't think it's a big deal. It's not a scientific question.
Science doesn't have an issue with the "other white meat." The historical acceptance or rejection is varied depending on culture,etc...
But science is relatively neutral on the value of pork. And the FDA would suggest that trichinosis is not very common. My reason tells me that bacon may have repercussions, but I will apply common sense, informed by nutritional science.
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  #208  
Old 03-27-2009, 09:53 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

Abu,

You make a valid point about secular people who are not deep thinkers, although I think that resorting to Hume to prove it will not bolster your overall case.

As to your point about reason and science guiding ethical decisions on subjects like abortion and homosexuality, I think there is no doubt that they do.

Roe v. Wade, for example, was argued (reason) based on the medical facts (science). Certainly, modern biology guides us in understanding whether a fetus feels pain, if it is conscious. Science helps us reject the notion that something magical (a soul) happens at the moment of conception.

Once we began a scientific study of human sexuality, we discovered that biases against homosexual conduct were unsupportable.

In a previous post you said:

Quote:
I know I am arguing things which are (perhaps rightfully) considered to be long ago settled by all sensible, modern, intelligent people but hey these are just some sincere thoughts I have. I am not putting forward a total solution I'm still very much in the middle of thinking through the questions.
I'm glad you're still thinking these things through, Abu. I hope you won't take this as patronizing, but one of the big complaints I've always had about orthodox religious thinking is that it strikes me as lazy, requiring us secularists to do all the heavy lifting.

I grew up around a lot of Orthodox Jews. There are quite a few very high IQ types in the Orthodox Jewish world (imagine Eliezar Yudkowsky's grandparents poring over the Talmud the way he goes at quantum physics), as I am sure there are in the Muslim and Christian world.

But the brainy religious types are pampered. They never have to let go of the security blanket of Scripture. They grow up intellectually lazy and then live in enclaves with other big babies who reinforce their beliefs.

I hate to say "grow up!" to religious people because I know how obnoxious and deprecating it sounds and because religious people do a lot of the other kinds of heavy lifting in society: building and sustaining spiritual communities, giving to charitable causes, caring for the orphans and widows, showing up for the difficult hospital, hospice and funeral visits, etc.
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  #209  
Old 03-27-2009, 10:10 PM
Starwatcher162536 Starwatcher162536 is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

I am going to have to agree with Abu on this one. Reason has no moral implications, reason is merely a tool to understand cause and effect.

On another note, Once you give up on there being a god, or at the very least, see that their is no way to determine which god exists, you realize that morality is nothing but arbitrary constructs to keep society from imploding.

So, the only things that can be thought of as wrong are things that affect someone else negatively (Of course this point is also arbitrary, but I can live with it). Everything else is bullshit.
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  #210  
Old 03-27-2009, 10:27 PM
Abu Noor Al-Irlandee Abu Noor Al-Irlandee is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

I'm going to really try not to beat any dead horses with this one, but just say a couple of quick things I find interesting.

First, the reason I mentioned Hume is that the point is not just about deep thinkers, it is not possible to make all decisions based on deep reason, and perhaps not advisible to try to make too many. I am actually trying to argue that it is better to try to approach life through the methodology of the serious religious thinker (i.e. through the lens of a process of thought like halakha or shari'ah) rather than through the more common approach of either tradition or based on whim. This is one of the big differences between a conservative traditionalist and an orthodox religious mind which is not conservative (perhaps fundamentalist but without the negative connotation)

As to Roe v. Wade, see my comments about people trying to rationalize their positions in a language of science/reason. (Actually this is what lawyers always do and I think being a lawyer has contributed greatly to my skepticism about reason as a way of getting at truth, rather than just a process to funnel disputes through to give the illusion of truth, i.e. to reach a result which parties have to live with).

I really disagree with your perception of the basis upon which attitudes toward homosexuality changed.

I actually disagree at least somewhat with your comments about smart religious people being intellectually lazy and pampered/spoiled. Or maybe one just needs to be more specific. I think no doubt that many religious people are intellectually lazy, but normally these aren't the really smart ones among them. Especially when you live in a society that is pluralist and secular and modern. A smart religious person in modern America of course realizes that the vast majority of the "smart" people around them think that their beliefs are ridiculous and that they were 'proven to be false' hundreds of years ago.

I think this attitude leads to a type of intellectual laziness on the part of, again, not necessarily people who really know science, but the vast majority of people who claim to believe in science but know not too much about it and don't really understand it at all.

I have to say the fact that I know that people like you and Graz and some others really want to just yell Grow up! (Brendan sometimes goes ahead and yells it)but don't leads me to respect the fact that you contain that impulse out of consideration but also the fact that I know you think that leads me to feel the condescension of your arguments even when you keep it out of what you write. And I know we have a similar feeling (especially those of us who have not always been religious and feel we know what your point of view is because we used to think that way). So in actuality its a big circular feeling of the other guy just doesn't get it which is often the case in discussions where the differences are vast and I tend to attribute it to different underlying assumptions. It's like an argument between two secular people who are ideologically on opposite sides. You can talk about issues, and you may be able to learn something from the discussion, but the discussion will never really go anywhere because there are fundamental underlying assumptions which separate you/us).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
Abu,

You make a valid point about secular people who are not deep thinkers, although I think that resorting to Hume to prove it will not bolster your overall case.

As to your point about reason and science guiding ethical decisions on subjects like abortion and homosexuality, I think there is no doubt that they do.

Roe v. Wade, for example, was argued (reason) based on the medical facts (science). Certainly, modern biology guides us in understanding whether a fetus feels pain, if it is conscious. Science helps us reject the notion that something magical (a soul) happens at the moment of conception.

Once we began a scientific study of human sexuality, we discovered that biases against homosexual conduct were unsupportable.

In a previous post you said:



I'm glad you're still thinking these things through, Abu. I hope you won't take this as patronizing, but one of the big complaints I've always had about orthodox religious thinking is that it strikes me as lazy, requiring us secularists to do all the heavy lifting.

I grew up around a lot of Orthodox Jews. There are quite a few very high IQ types in the Orthodox Jewish world (imagine Eliezar Yudkowsky's grandparents poring over the Talmud the way he goes at quantum physics), as I am sure there are in the Muslim and Christian world.

But the brainy religious types are pampered. They never have to let go of the security blanket of Scripture. They grow up intellectually lazy and then live in enclaves with other big babies who reinforce their beliefs.

I hate to say "grow up!" to religious people because I know how obnoxious and deprecating it sounds and because religious people do a lot of the other kinds of heavy lifting in society: building and sustaining spiritual communities, giving to charitable causes, caring for the orphans and widows, showing up for the difficult hospital, hospice and funeral visits, etc.
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  #211  
Old 03-27-2009, 10:30 PM
Abu Noor Al-Irlandee Abu Noor Al-Irlandee is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

Thanks for commenting Starwatcher...at least with your comment I feel like someone's completely understood what I'm trying to say.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 View Post
I am going to have to agree with Abu on this one. Reason has no moral implications, reason is merely a tool to understand cause and effect.

On another note, Once you give up on there being a god, or at the very least, see that their is no way to determine which god exists, you realize that morality is nothing but arbitrary constructs to keep society from imploding.

So, the only things that can be thought of as wrong are things that affect someone else negatively (Of course this point is also arbitrary, but I can live with it). Everything else is bullshit.
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  #212  
Old 03-28-2009, 12:04 AM
graz graz is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abu Noor Al-Irlandee View Post


I have to say the fact that I know that people like you and Graz and some others really want to just yell Grow up! (Brendan sometimes goes ahead and yells it)but don't leads me to respect the fact that you contain that impulse out of consideration but also the fact that I know you think that leads me to feel the condescension of your arguments even when you keep it out of what you write. And I know we have a similar feeling (especially those of us who have not always been religious and feel we know what your point of view is because we used to think that way). So in actuality its a big circular feeling of the other guy just doesn't get it which is often the case in discussions where the differences are vast and I tend to attribute it to different underlying assumptions. It's like an argument between two secular people who are ideologically on opposite sides. You can talk about issues, and you may be able to learn something from the discussion, but the discussion will never really go anywhere because there are fundamental underlying assumptions which separate you/us).
I believe that your first sentence is offered out of respect, but it is not exactly true for me. I guess it's fair to say I wouldn't mind seeing you change your mind - yet I believe in and respect the strength of your conviction.

And with your last highlighted passage you nail it. Thanks for your thoughts and consideration neighbor.

Last edited by graz; 03-28-2009 at 12:06 AM..
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  #213  
Old 03-28-2009, 07:05 AM
Francoamerican
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abu Noor Al-Irlandee View Post
By the way, your little statement about the unbeliever who takes nothing on faith alone could not be much further from being accurate, the vast majority of people who either have no faith at all or know nothing about their faith which is a large group of people take things "on faith" without engaging in any reasoning process constantly all day long and this includes not only little things that one could argue are not worth a long reasoning process as well as the most important questions they will face in their lives: this includes deciding who to fall in love with, who to marry, what career to go into, how to dress, what they think is correct behavior towards parents, towards neighbors, towards wives, towards children, what they should eat and what they shouldn't, what wars to support, who to vote for, etc. etc. the vast majority of these decisions are made by people whether religious or avowed atheist on the basis of what their parents taught them, what the other kids in the neighborhood did, random chance, what they thoughts was cool, some "feeling" they had, etc. etc. As Mark Lilla ascribes to David Hume (who would undoubtedly agree with your larger point) "the limits of the human mind render us unable to demonstrate even a connection between cause and effect. On this basis he was able to make an unusual argument: not that faith is irrational, but that it is ubiquitous.

Even in those cases in politics or law or what have you where reason is consciously put forward as a justification for actions or beliefs, it is most of the time put forward as an after the fact justification (whether sincere or insincere in the person's mind) for decisions made on the basis of interest, tradition, prejudice or for no discernible reason at all.
Your general argument here is valid, and no agnostic or scientific atheist will ever be able to refute it...alas. Science has absolutely nothing to say about what we should do....as opposed to what we in fact do. Its only value is the continual progress of science and whatever contributes to that progress. Science tells us "what is," not what ought to be. This is sometimes called "Hume's fork" in philosophy, and it lies at the basis of Kant's moral philosophy.

Practical and moral decisions, as you point out, are based largely on custom, religion, prejudice, education, example, conformism etc. Hume, however, and most other philosophers who have thought about moral questions since Hume, did think philosophy could offer some insight into our reasons (=motivations) for being moral.

Last edited by Francoamerican; 03-28-2009 at 07:15 AM.. Reason: grammar
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  #214  
Old 03-28-2009, 10:33 AM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

Thanks to all for the BDay wishes.

graz, I fully approve of the spirit of skepticism implicit in your post. I've known for weeks that something was up. A key conspirator in this little play was my wife, who, among many charming attributes, keeps a secret like a six year old bursting with pride to give daddy the macaroni portrait she made him for his birthday. So, as a dutiful spouse, I practiced a measure of cognitive dissonance. We were supposedly going for a small dinner with our parents, last evening. But, people starting showing up at my door with food, including all my sisters and as much of their families as they could rustle up - meaning that some folks had flown in to Philly from as far away as Georgia. One minute I'm happily in my cocoon bloviating about things about which my expertise is entirely questionable [Happy, Happy Jeff!], the next minute my house is full of friends and relatives bearing gifts, some of whom I haven't seen in years.
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  #215  
Old 03-28-2009, 04:09 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

Quote:
Hume, however, and most other philosophers who have thought about moral questions since Hume, did think philosophy could offer some insight into our reasons (=motivations) for being moral.
And they think science and reason can inform ethical decisions. Look at any article or book by a modern ethicist and you will find that each issue is argued on the basis of accurate scientific information, which makes the case in point compelling or not.

Abu seems to be arguing that since core principles are up for grabs (you can't derive ought from is), anything goes. You might as well start from the Koran, the Torah, voices you hear in your head or the outer space messages of Scientology. I'm sure I'm misrepresenting him, but that's as far as I can get with revelation as a basis for moral decision.
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  #216  
Old 03-28-2009, 06:22 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

Perhaps we can close this discussion on something we agree on: I think a life led without deep religious sentiment (spirituality, if you like) is not worth living. Or at least it is not fully human, like living a life without art or sex or moral sensibilities.

I also think secular societies have done a terrible job of supplanting religion's role in providing the human spirit spiritual sustenance. So far, anyway.
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  #217  
Old 03-28-2009, 06:45 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
Perhaps we can close this discussion on something we agree on: I think a life led without deep religious sentiment (spirituality, if you like) is not worth living. Or at least it is not fully human, like living a life without art or sex or moral sensibilities.
I've stayed out of this until now, but I'm certainly going to disagree with that.

Quote:
I also think secular societies have done a terrible job of supplanting religion's role in providing the human spirit spiritual sustenance. So far, anyway.
Two things: (1) very short time, so far, and (2) the most religion-free countries I can think of, like the Scandanavian ones, seem to be doing pretty well for themselves. I'd also observe that many of the most religious countries in this world, including the US, Israel, and several largely Muslim ones, don't seem to be doing an especially good job in sustaining the human spirit.
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  #218  
Old 03-28-2009, 08:01 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

Quote:
Two things: (1) very short time, so far, and (2) the most religion-free countries I can think of, like the Scandanavian ones, seem to be doing pretty well for themselves. I'd also observe that many of the most religious countries in this world, including the US, Israel, and several largely Muslim ones, don't seem to be doing an especially good job in sustaining the human spirit.
I completely agree with 1 but would somewhat dispute 2.

I'm not sure how "religion-free" Scandanavia is.

We'd have to look at their traditions (life passage events like births, marriage and death, as well as holy days like Xmas and Easter).

Also, Israel is probably a lot less of a religious country than you think. It was founded by socialist atheists, and the establishment has always been at as religion-free as Scandanavia.

Interestingly, there are huge populations of secular Israeli youth (post-army age) wandering Asia (India, Nepal and other "exotic" spots) in search of non-Jewish "spiritual" enlightenment. That's basically why the Chabad House in Mumbai, where the Orthodox family was murdered , was there in the first place -- to serve the godless wanderers that the Orthodox still view as Jews.

Finally, I am not interested in preserving religion. All I'm saying is that the secular world -- by my lights -- has not done a good job of supplanting it. Communism was secularism's worst failure, but global Hollywoodesque consumerism is also pretty bad.

The cultural revolution of the 60s and subsequent decades -- with its emphasis on nonviolence, deep ecology, human rights, sexual freedom and free-form spirituality -- provides some hope for the future of secularism, so -- as you say -- we'll have to wait and see.
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  #219  
Old 03-28-2009, 08:16 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
I completely agree with 1 but would somewhat dispute 2.
All fair enough. I don't have a good way to debate any of your specific points in any case. I just didn't buy the sweeping nature of your previous post. And I will continue to maintain that heavily religious countries (leave Israel off the list if you like) do not seem to be doing a great job at much for their people, except possibly indoctrinating them.

I'm not sure about this:

Quote:
All I'm saying is that the secular world -- by my lights -- has not done a good job of supplanting it.
I don't think it's best to view this process as a top-down thing, which is what it sounds like you're asking for.
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Last edited by bjkeefe; 03-28-2009 at 08:19 PM..
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  #220  
Old 03-29-2009, 01:00 AM
Bobby G Bobby G is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality (Adam Frank & Eliezer Yudkowsky)

I guess it depends on who you read. I like John Cottingham a great deal, as well as Peter van Inwagen, Christine Korsgaard, J. B. Schneewind, Robert Adams, Susan Neiman, Barbara Herman, Peter Singer, and a bunch of others. You may like some of the above, if you haven't read them.
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  #221  
Old 03-29-2009, 04:48 AM
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And they think science and reason can inform ethical decisions. Look at any article or book by a modern ethicist and you will find that each issue is argued on the basis of accurate scientific information, which makes the case in point compelling or not..
You will have to be a little more precise. I agree that a few moral philosophers (e.g. Kant) have thought that REASON (not science) tells us what is right (=what we ought to do), but science, broadly or narrowly conceived, seems to me to be void of moral content. Hume's fork still holds.

A moral argument framed by an "ethicist" concerning abortion for example, can invoke scientific evidence about the viability of the foetus at various stages, but ultimately the decision on whether abortion should or should not be legal and at what stage it becomes illegal is not up to science. It is either a political or a religious decision. Personally, I would prefer it to be a political decision (because I place civil peace above "Revelation"), but I don't see how you can say that this or any other controversial issue can be solved by science.


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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
Abu seems to be arguing that since core principles are up for grabs (you can't derive ought from is), anything goes. You might as well start from the Koran, the Torah, voices you hear in your head or the outer space messages of Scientology. I'm sure I'm misrepresenting him, but that's as far as I can get with revelation as a basis for moral decision.
He may believe whatever he likes. But in the final analysis he will have to abide by the law of the land in which he lives. Most religious beliefs are perfectly harmless because they have no real consequences.
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  #222  
Old 03-29-2009, 04:56 AM
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality (Adam Frank & Eliezer Yudkowsky)

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I guess it depends on who you read. I like John Cottingham a great deal, as well as Peter van Inwagen, Christine Korsgaard, J. B. Schneewind, Robert Adams, Susan Neiman, Barbara Herman, Peter Singer, and a bunch of others. You may like some of the above, if you haven't read them.
I am familiar with Singer, Schneewind and Neiman. I agree they are well worth reading.
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Old 03-29-2009, 10:47 AM
Eastwest Eastwest is offline
 
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Default Yudkowsky = What a Gracious Host!

Wow!

I've listened to and watched certainly hundreds of BHTV Diavlogs.

I've never heard a so-called host so consistently and obnoxiously arrogant, condescending, dismissive, self-centered, and brain-proud egotistical in any DV.

There are of course many kinds of intelligence. Yudkowsky clearly has given us a great example of a kind of fundamentalist dogma defending intelligence of his own and he is both ruthless and rabid in defending his own faith-based dogma.

And then there's social and emotional intelligence often massaged into a high degree of servicability through spiritual paths emphasizing selfless altruism without any concern for whether or not one might gain any rewards, either material or celestial, from its exercise.

Yudkowsky appears to have not a single trace of either social or emotional intelligence.

I would have to say that Yudkowsky has produced the best proof possible for the genuine utility of a life oriented towards non-dogmatic spirituality.

EW

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Old 03-29-2009, 11:43 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Yudkowsky = What a Gracious Host!

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[...]
Without commenting on what you wrote, let me just say that it's good to see you posting again, EW. Please don't be a stranger.
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Old 03-30-2009, 03:35 PM
Abu Noor Al-Irlandee Abu Noor Al-Irlandee is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

Brendan,

I disagree strongly not so much with what I think you are trying to say here in your second part, but with the conclusions you draw from it. You seem to be saying that many countries that are largely poor and miserable places to live are also very religious. You seem to somehow take from that that religion doesn't produce good places to live. Hmmm....I don't know about that, but actually I would say the fact that so many hundreds of millions of Muslims and Christians are actually sustained by and find meaning for their lives in strong religious faith despite the fact that they live lives that are materially and in other ways very difficult precisely proves that religion in these societies does sustain the human spirit, which is exactly what Wonderment said.

Now, you are right that the wealthy and secular environments such as much of Europe and increasingly the United States have been around for a relatively short amount of time but I would agree with Wonderment that there is reason to be concerned about the sustainability of the human spirit in these conditions without some kind of spirituality and I think this can be seen widely (although of course then it just becomes a debate as to what counts as spirituality/religion). Finally, I'm sure you would agree that non-religious societies such as communist dictatorships in no way proved to be better or as good at sustaining the human spirit in materially poor conditions than poor religious societies.
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Old 03-30-2009, 04:02 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

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Now, you are right that the wealthy and secular environments such as much of Europe and increasingly the United States have been around for a relatively short amount of time...
You also have to look at the "dark side" of the philosophical roots of modern secularism. If you follow the general existentialist trend of thought from Kierkegaard and Nietzsche through Sartre, Camus and others, you find that a hard look at post-God-is-dead philosophy is not very comforting.

Living without God for atheists like Nietzsche, Sartre and Camus was supposed to be a very difficult enterprise. Why not commit suicide? Why not become entirely nihilistic? How can any ethical system be coherent? Modern societies have generally chosen to ignore these hard existential questions in favor of consumerism, oblivion, platitudes, hedonism and a vague agnosticism. But a lot of philosophical questions remain unanswered.

Most people are probably untroubled by philosophical questions, so life goes on. But in those moments when we try to make sense of what Tillich called the "ultimate questions," secularism provides plenty of clich廥, lots of "self-help" and few real answers. Is that enough? Maybe.

Given the immense difficulty in living a life bereft of spiritual sustenance or faith, you also see people like Eliezar getting on the bandwagon of new religions -- in his case it seems to be the cult of transhumanism, i.e., the desire to defy death (and the absurdity of dropping out of the universe into nothingness) by achieving immortality through science.
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Old 03-30-2009, 04:12 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

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Originally Posted by Abu Noor Al-Irlandee View Post
Brendan,

I disagree strongly not so much with what I think you are trying to say here in your second part, but with the conclusions you draw from it. You seem to be saying that many countries that are largely poor and miserable places to live are also very religious. You seem to somehow take from that that religion doesn't produce good places to live. Hmmm....I don't know about that, but actually I would say the fact that so many hundreds of millions of Muslims and Christians are actually sustained by and find meaning for their lives in strong religious faith despite the fact that they live lives that are materially and in other ways very difficult precisely proves that religion in these societies does sustain the human spirit, which is exactly what Wonderment said.
I buy some of this, but I'd also point out that the harsh religious restrictions contribute in many ways to the perpetuation of the misery; e.g., by treating women as second-class citizens (and therefore, among other things, preventing society from getting full contributions from half their population), by discouraging science and openness to other (secular) ideas and good relationships with people who don't share the de facto state faith, and by sustaining a hierarchy that allows only the high priests, as it were, to live in comfort. Oversimplifying here, obviously, but I'm sure you get what I'm thinking about.

I'd also say the usual line about opiate of the masses -- you can keep the poor down forever if you can get them to swallow the notion that their reward will come in the next life.

So, it's not so much that I think religion is failing to provide better places to live as it is actively sustaining the miserable conditions that exist.

Quote:
Now, you are right that the wealthy and secular environments such as much of Europe and increasingly the United States have been around for a relatively short amount of time but I would agree with Wonderment that there is reason to be concerned about the sustainability of the human spirit in these conditions without some kind of spirituality and I think this can be seen widely (although of course then it just becomes a debate as to what counts as spirituality/religion).
That's just another matter of faith. There plenty of atheists and other non-practitioners who find meaning and happiness in life, and the countries (and smaller regions within the US) that are predominately non-religious seem to me to be doing just fine.

I grant there is a wide range of what might be called spiritual, especially when you realize you've also been talking about the human spirit.

Quote:
Finally, I'm sure you would agree that non-religious societies such as communist dictatorships in no way proved to be better or as good at sustaining the human spirit in materially poor conditions than poor religious societies.
Well, yes, but I don't agree that Communist dictatorships were non-religious. Effectively, especially in terms of controlling the populace, suppressing dissent, and denying individual freedoms, they were no different from other theocracies. If you look at the set-ups that people like Mao, Stalin, the Kims in North Korea, and Castro ran, they and The State were the equivalent of deities or divinely chosen leaders. The Party officials were the equivalent of high priests, enjoying deference from the majority and privileges far beyond what the average person could even dream about. The only way to advance in those societies, by and large, was to work one's way up the Party (Church) hierarchy. The mind-control, intolerance of heterodoxy, and endless review of the ruling dogma were the equivalent of organized religion and prayer. Mandatory participation in rituals was commonplace. About the only differences were a lack of promise in an afterlife and a named being superior to the current ruler, although once dead, many of those rulers were barely distinguishable from supernatural creatures, still watching over.
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Old 03-30-2009, 04:16 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
But in those moments when we try to make sense of what Tillich called the "ultimate questions," secularism provides plenty of clich廥, lots of "self-help" and few real answers.
And this is different from religion how?
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Old 03-30-2009, 04:54 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

Also ...

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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
Modern societies have generally chosen to ignore these hard existential questions in favor of consumerism, oblivion, platitudes, hedonism and a vague agnosticism.
That's about as much of an unfair stereotype as someone could make about, say, immigrants from Mexico. Just because you can think of some people who you know who are like this, and because the middle-brow media loves to tsk-tsk about examples of such (since people who don't live lives of excess don't make good copy), you don't have any basis to make these sweeping generalizations.
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Old 03-30-2009, 05:20 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

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That's about as much of an unfair stereotype as someone could make about, say, immigrants from Mexico. Just because you can think of some people who you know who are like this, and because the middle-brow media loves to tsk-tsk about examples of such (since people who don't live lives of excess don't make good copy), you don't have any basis to make these sweeping generalizations.
I didn't mean to make it sound so negative. I'm just saying -- I could be wrong -- that I don't see most people seriously grappling with tough existential questions. They default into secularism and take its meaning for granted.

Traditional religion sometimes did a better job of encouraging people to examine their "souls." It may provide screwball answers, but at least the answers are articulated in a context of ultimate concern.

Secular people tend to turn to these questions and to "God" when something bad happens to them --- a divorce, unemployment or homelessness, a death, a drinking problem, terminal illness, a prison sentence. Often they will start going to the Mosque again, enter the 12-step program (complete with "a Greater Power") or get born again.

The default values of secular humanism often turn out to be wanting. Not always, but often enough to make me think they may be unsustainable in difficult times.

As I've said, there may be a future path that synthesizes the strengths of religious and secular worldviews. The best elements in various countercultures over the past half century give me hope.
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  #231  
Old 03-30-2009, 05:33 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
I didn't mean to make it sound so negative. I'm just saying -- I could be wrong -- that I don't see most people seriously grappling with tough existential questions. They default into secularism and take its meaning for granted.
Again, you don't really have a basis for saying this as a way to make non-religious people look worse than religious people. Most religious people don't grapple, either. They just repeat slogans whenever faced with the same questions; e.g., "God will provide," "God works in mysterious ways," "all these questions will be answered in heaven," "Let go and let God," etc.

Quote:
Traditional religion sometimes did a better job of encouraging people to examine their "souls." It may provide screwball answers, but at least the answers are articulated in a context of ultimate concern.
I wouldn't say so, any more than secular education encourages people to reflect, sometimes with the aid of art, books, philosophers, the study of history, playing or listening to music, and so on. And there are many forms of meditating that many non-believers practice, from sitting cross-legged to going for a hike in the mountains.

Quote:
Secular people tend to turn to these questions and to "God" when something bad happens to them --- a divorce, unemployment or homelessness, a death, a drinking problem, terminal illness, a prison sentence. Often they will start going to the Mosque again, enter the 12-step program (complete with "a Greater Power") or get born again.
Sure. We call this trading one drug for another, conning the parole board, reaching for a security blanket, and so on. And what about all those people who turn away from God when their lives go sour?

Quote:
The default values of secular humanism often turn out to be wanting. Not always, but often enough to make me think they may be unsustainable in difficult times.
I'd say the same thing about religious beliefs. This is how wars and other ways of demonizing those who aren't of the same faith often get started, for example. This is how schisms can form, for another.

Quote:
As I've said, there may be a future path that synthesizes the strengths of religious and secular worldviews. The best elements in various countercultures over the past half century give me hope.
No comment.
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  #232  
Old 03-30-2009, 06:25 PM
Abu Noor Al-Irlandee Abu Noor Al-Irlandee is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

Brendan,

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Well, yes, but I don't agree that Communist dictatorships were non-religious. Effectively, especially in terms of controlling the populace, suppressing dissent, and denying individual freedoms, they were no different from other theocracies.
I have to admit I find this a particularly weak form of argument which I noticed is used among many of the new atheists who are loath to admit that secular and in many cases atheistic ideologies that reached their height in the 20th century unleashed mass killing of a scale which could never ever have been imagined in the centuries of supposedly endless and horrible "religious wars" that were supposed to have taught us that at the least secularism and probably agnosticism were just self-evidently the way to go -- but I have to admit that you've put it more baldly here than I've ever seen before.

You're basically saying that every form of repression and oppression is therefore a religion or religious, just becasuse it is a form of oppression or repression or maybe even more so the more pervasive and widespread it is.

Wow! If that's how you define religion, then indeed there's no way to argue with you about whether religion is good or bad.

Incidentally, as I think you and I have both noted, I'm aware there is a possibility of my own "side" of this discussion going down a similarly dangerous path of slippery definition and tautology by trying to define anything that gives own's life spiritual meaning as "religion" or "spirituality" and then arguing that only "religion" or "sprituality" can sustain one spiritually.

I think we generally understand what each other is saying, but I think the nature of this forum or the scattered nature of the discussion has kinda made us all a little sloppy in the terms we are using.

Anyways, I suspected most of the rest of your responses and as you might suspect, I see where you are coming from and don't disagree completely, but I still do disagree in large part.
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Old 03-30-2009, 06:50 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Abu Noor Al-Irlandee View Post
I have to admit I find this a particularly weak form of argument which I noticed is used among many of the new atheists who are loath to admit that secular and in many cases atheistic ideologies that reached their height in the 20th century unleashed mass killing of a scale which could never ever have been imagined in the centuries of supposedly endless and horrible "religious wars" that were supposed to have taught us that at the least secularism and probably agnosticism were just self-evidently the way to go -- but I have to admit that you've put it more baldly here than I've ever seen before.

You're basically saying that every form of repression and oppression is therefore a religion or religious, just becasuse it is a form of oppression or repression or maybe even more so the more pervasive and widespread it is.
Not true. I pointed out many similarities between the communist dictatorships and theocratic states. Sorry if you feel it's a "particularly weak form of argument;" but I must say, I feel exactly the same way about religious people trotting out this example in every single one of their arguments to show how evil secularism is.

Especially when you all start comparing numbers and saying, "At least we didn't kill that many!" Stalin, et al, may have been horribly efficient, but those reigns of terror lasted a few decades. Religion (gone wrong, and it has, often) has a history of oppressing people, fomenting misery, causing and prolonging wars, and this history has lasted for thousands of years, and there is no way to count how many people's lives have been worsened because of it. The most troubled spots on the planet right now all have as at least a major cause religious conflict.

And ultimately, whether you buy it or not, I have always viewed those Communist dictatorships, and Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, as the same for all practical purposes as theocracies. Remember, once you don't believe in an afterlife, the only thing that matters is what happens here on Earth.

Quote:
Incidentally, as I think you and I have both noted, I'm aware there is a possibility of my own "side" of this discussion going down a similarly dangerous path of slippery definition and tautology by trying to define anything that gives own's life spiritual meaning as "religion" or "spirituality" and then arguing that only "religion" or "sprituality" can sustain one spiritually.
Maybe. I've given up expecting "spirituality" to have any precise definition that most people can agree upon. It's kind of like trying to define pornography -- at the end of the day, it's just "I know it when I see it." If someone wants to say, "I consider myself a spiritual person," I'm not going to argue about it. (And for the record, I can't answer yes or no to the inevitable follow-up question: "Do you?")

But thanks for saying so, in any case.

Quote:
I think we generally understand what each other is saying, but I think the nature of this forum or the scattered nature of the discussion has kinda made us all a little sloppy in the terms we are using.

Anyways, I suspected most of the rest of your responses and as you might suspect, I see where you are coming from and don't disagree completely, but I still do disagree in large part.
I'm not surprised. And that's fine, mostly.

The one thing I wish you (and Wonderment) would work harder at keeping in mind is that people are prone to all sorts of heinous behavior, especially when stressed. They are also capable of all sorts of admirable behavior, in good times and bad. This has been true throughout history, whether religion played a major role, served only as an excuse, or played no role at all. What I really object to is the attitude you two have, where you just take it as a given that a society that doesn't have a big religious component is necessarily inferior. It strikes me as bigotry, whereby carefully chosen bad examples are held up as representing the entire sum of people who don't believe in God, and every human foible (Wonderment's "consumerism" particularly irked me) is attributed only to non-believers.
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Old 03-30-2009, 09:06 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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The one thing I wish you (and Wonderment) would work harder at keeping in mind is that people are prone to all sorts of heinous behavior, especially when stressed. They are also capable of all sorts of admirable behavior, in good times and bad. This has been true throughout history, whether religion played a major role, served only as an excuse, or played no role at all. What I really object to is the attitude you two have, where you just take it as a given that a society that doesn't have a big religious component is necessarily inferior. It strikes me as bigotry, whereby carefully chosen bad examples are held up as representing the entire sum of people who don't believe in God, and every human foible (Wonderment's "consumerism" particularly irked me) is attributed only to non-believers.
Given that I am an avowed atheist, it's odd to be put in the same camp as brother Abu. Be that as it may, I will try to tease out what you and I agree on and see what's left:

AGREEMENTS:

1) There is no God.
2) Secular democracy is far and away the best form of government human beings have devised.
3) The more separation of "church" and state, the better.
4) Both religious people and non-religious people do good and bad stuff.
5) "Spiritual" is too vague a term to be very useful.

That's it. What we disagree on probably has too much to do with subjective experience to discuss very productively. My hunches, intuitions and personal experiences have lead me to believe that a great deal has been lost by the abandonment of religion. Belonging to a religious community has been important to humans always, and substitutes may not be as good as the real thing. I can't prove this, and I hope I'm wrong. After all, I'm rooting for the atheists. It would be great if dropping religion had no downside. Certainly, I'd say that the trade-off is a good deal for the atheists (including me). That's why dropping out of religion is so popular in the free market; that's why I did it. There are plenty of benefits: freedom of thought, sexual freedom, liberation of women, etc.

It actually is something like immigrating to a new country (thank you for bringing up that metaphor): You leave behind a lot of miserable shit and overall you're better off, but there are intangibles about the old country that you long for and that leave you with a sense that the old folks with their primitive ways were on to something that the new country has forgotten.
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  #235  
Old 03-30-2009, 09:56 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
Given that I am an avowed atheist, it's odd to be put in the same camp as brother Abu. [...] My hunches, intuitions and personal experiences have lead me to believe that a great deal has been lost by the abandonment of religion. Belonging to a religious community has been important to humans always, and substitutes may not be as good as the real thing. [emph. added --bjk]
Argh.

Sorry if I tend to be snappish about this, but there are atheists and then there are atheists. I really have a problem with those atheists who just take it as a given that when we as a society grow out of religion, we've lost something. As you rephrased it in the rest of the comment from which I pulled the above, I can accept your point of view a little more, but I still feel like you are tending to think only of the good elements of religion when you think about it going away. You have to remember all of the bad stuff that we're rid of, too, because when religion is around, you never, ever, ever get the good without the bad.

And by the way, there is no reason to give up some of the good parts about religion, just because we don't have God in the mix. I grant that it will be a little harder to form community groups, for example, but the trade-off is that more of the people you attract will be there because they want to be there, not because they are afraid not to be. They will be even more "the real thing."

Ditto doing good works.

Also, there is something like paternalism inherent in an atheist bemoaning the loss of religion for "all those other people." As far as I can tell, you live a good life, you seem like a kind and sensitive and caring person, so why not assume that as we all grow out of God, other people can do that, too?

I emphasize that I am exaggerating the way you are leaning to make these points. But I do see elements of these things in what you have been writing.

Quote:
It actually is something like immigrating to a new country (thank you for bringing up that metaphor): You leave behind a lot of miserable shit and overall you're better off, but there are intangibles about the old country that you long for and that leave you with a sense that the old folks with their primitive ways were on to something that the new country has forgotten.
This is the part that struck me, that I meant when I said "rephrased" above. It's a good sentiment.
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Old 03-30-2009, 10:09 PM
Abu Noor Al-Irlandee Abu Noor Al-Irlandee is offline
 
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Quote:
AGREEMENTS:

1) There is no God.
2) Secular democracy is far and away the best form of government human beings have devised.
3) The more separation of "church" and state, the better.
4) Both religious people and non-religious people do good and bad stuff.
5) "Spiritual" is too vague a term to be very useful.
And with regard to myself, I obviously could not disagree more strongly with Statement 1. I completely agree with Statements 4 and 5. And I think 2 and 3 are complicated questions about which I could either choose to say I agree, BUT or I disagree BUT and to both, heck, now that I really think about it I guess I'd have to say "I disagree BUT...." to both of those.

Brendan, I still think your argument about the totalitarian states of the 20th century as being essentially "religious" is still WAY, WAY off but it seems to be a reaction to what I think is a misunderstanding of the argument from the other side. (At least from me and certainly from Wonderment) No one is saying that secularism is necessarily bad just because those secular/atheist governments did a lot of wicked things, just merely pointing out the obvious that it seems ridiculous to say based on the evidence that secularism or atheism is better because it gets rid of the violence associated with religion in politics. No one is arguing that having highly religious societies will get rid of all violence because even though we might think it should based on true religious teachings the historical counterexamples are just too obvious to argue that with a straight face.

I think you would be better off (although why would you take debating advice from your opponent?) to restructure your argument along the lines of "free" or "democratic" or "liberal secular" or some such description States as being better to live in than "totalitarian" states and then you could indicate why you feel theocratic states are one subtype of totalitarian States and fascist or communist States are other types. I still really don't see the commonality as being about "religion." (I mean there are still problems with the argument I'm suggesting for you since not all States that you would describe as theocratic are in fact totalitarian and even free, democratic, secular, liberal states have done a lot of bad, particularly in the era of imperalism and colonialism, which of course someone like me would argue is still an ongoing era.
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Old 03-30-2009, 10:17 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Abu Noor Al-Irlandee View Post
And with regard to myself, I obviously could not disagree more strongly with Statement 1. I completely agree with Statements 4 and 5. And I think 2 and 3 are complicated questions about which I could either choose to say I agree, BUT or I disagree BUT and to both, heck, now that I really think about it I guess I'd have to say "I disagree BUT...." to both of those.
I'm curious about why you don't agree with #2 and #3. Do you really think religion should be part of the government? (*shudder*)

Quote:
Brendan, I still think your argument about the totalitarian states ...
In another context, I would take your advice. However, the way you brought it up sounded to me like the way it usually gets brought up, so I gave the response I usually give. And, as I said, agree or don't (of course I don't expect you to), that's the way I see those states.

And for the record ...

Quote:
... it seems ridiculous to say based on the evidence that secularism or atheism is better because it gets rid of the violence associated with religion in politics.
... I never said anything of the kind. You brought up the Communist regimes unprovoked. I think doing away with religion is desirable for all sorts of reasons, and I don't claim human beings would suddenly stop killing each other if we did.

Quote:
... not all States that you would describe as theocratic are in fact totalitarian ...
Could you give me some examples?
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Old 03-30-2009, 11:31 PM
Abu Noor Al-Irlandee Abu Noor Al-Irlandee is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

I'm not saying you said that but it's an understood assumption of the narrative that our culture tells itself about how we figured out that secular democracy and separation of church and state are the best forms of government devised for human beings that the European wars over religion proved that having religion involved with politics was a disaster that led to unending violence. (I agree it's not the ONLY aspect of the story our culture tells itself but its a major part and one that doesn't entirely hold up to real scrutiny for the reason I mentioned as well as some others -- which is not to say that it has absolutely no merit).

With regard to states being "theocratic" (in your view) and not totalitarian, this actually goes to the reason why it would be analytically helpful for you to be more precise about your use of the word "religious." If you use theocratic broadly to describe any state that does not separate church and state, but you have in your mind that all such states are totalitarian, there is no theoretical reason why this has to be so.

And historically, let me say that my first argument would hinge on the fact that the totalitarian state is actually a quite recent phenomenon (a state that regulates nearly every aspect of public and private life would have been basically unimaginable for most of human history where there was not usually even a strong concept of the "state" and while there may have been some sovereign who could possibly do real bad things to you, often he would have been quite far away from your daily concerns.

This is certainly true of traditional Islamic/Muslim societies where although the clerical establishment and the political establishment were different, religion and government were not completely distinct and Muslim political rulers were expected to rule by Islamic Law (this is what gave them legitimacy). In any event, though there were certainly better and worse Muslim rulers throughout history, they would not be described as totalitarian in the modern sense as that term really implies levels of industrialization, urbanization, technology, and many other aspects of 'modernity' that just were not available during those periods of time.

There is no doubt that government in the United States today (in an arguably free and certainly not totalitarian society) is far more intrusive on people's everyday lives both public and private than for example a medieval 'theocratic' Islamic polity.
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Old 03-30-2009, 11:55 PM
Abu Noor Al-Irlandee Abu Noor Al-Irlandee is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

Which goes to why I equivocate on questions 2 and 3.

I certainly understand the dangers of traditional Islamic understandings of the intersection of government and religion in the context of the modern technological all pervasive nation state. While it seems unlikely that technology will go backward, I certainly hope that other aspects of the today's nation state (including the very idea of the nation-state) are susceptible to change.

So, as a person who has lived all my life in the U.S. and went through law school here and has lived almost all of my adult life as a religious minority, and for much of that time as part of a religious minority to which at least a significant segment of the population hostile, believe me I understand the reasons for church-state separation and its benefits. However, am I willing to sign on to it as always being in every time and place the ideal and the more of it, the better...No, I'm not willing to sign on to those absolute statements.
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  #240  
Old 03-31-2009, 12:25 AM
Starwatcher162536 Starwatcher162536 is offline
 
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Default Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abu Noor Al-Irlandee View Post
And with regard to myself, I obviously could not disagree more strongly with Statement 1. I completely agree with Statements 4 and 5. And I think 2 and 3 are complicated questions about which I could either choose to say I agree, BUT or I disagree BUT and to both, heck, now that I really think about it I guess I'd have to say "I disagree BUT...." to both of those.
[...]
This is a rather good argument for (2) and (3):
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/ba...he-earth-phew/

Is kind of scary someone in the US congress thinks environmental concerns are pointless because of assurances given in the King James Bible......
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