Reeling from Christian friend's bigotry

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This topic contains 88 replies, has 15 voices, and was last updated by  jason 3 years, 3 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 61 through 75 (of 89 total)
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  • #521

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    @steveinco – of course, no need to apologise. & @strega, What I mean by the evolutionary basis for mysticism, of which the quote from Christine Cainer is an example, is the inbuilt tendency of all living things to thrive, and to seek survival. These tendencies are not conscious, but automatic, and are a direct result of evolution and natural selection, because they make reproduction more likely. This is equivalent to God’s love, and God’s love is the basis for religious mysticism, along with “awareness of reality” or truth. Look again at Christine Cainer’s quote and maybe you will see what I mean.

    This is something religious people are really good at.

    So this evolutionary basis is the raw material of compassion: when we make someone thrive, it’s these tendencies doing all the actual work. Just like when we nurture a plant in our garden to make it grow. That’s the best analogy I can come up with.

    It’s a very neat, very powerful idea that links evolution and religion. Can you see how subversive it is? Not that I’m into being subversive.

    #523

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    @Milton Platt – you should be pleased, it’s the sign of an open mind.

    #525

    Strega
    Moderator

    @simon. I’m with you until you get to the bit where you say “this is equivalent to gods love”. That’s a non sequitur. I could type the same thing but replace “God” with “Peach”, my dog. Actually I can demonstrate my dogs devotion to me.

    I still see no “mysticism” but perhaps we are defining the word differently. What is your understanding of the word mystic?

    #527

    SteveInCO
    Participant

    Oh crap!!!!! I find myself agreeing with a theist!! (Drbob)

    Well Dr. Bob professes to accept evolution. I agree with him on that. That doesn’t mean he isn’t wrong about theism and it certainly doesn’t mean that his moral evaluation of the Catholic Church as an institution is even remotely accurate.

    #537

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    @strega – in a very real way, you’re right about your dog Peach, because the raw material of compassion from one living creature to another is this tendency to thrive. When Peach licks you and you feel happy, he invokes your tendency to thrive. Peach hasn’t gone into your brain and injected it with happy chemicals, he has set off a predisposed chain reaction along existing pathways leading to happiness.

    Mysticism has a wide range of meanings of course, and what I mean is: 1) an experience of “God’s love” (for want of a better term); 2) an experience of reality; 3) an experience of the oneness of all creation, which as defined as an evolutionary trait, can be said to be the same as 1).

    I believe that there are three aspects to Christians’ ideas of God’s love, and only no.1 applies here: 1) the evolutionary tendency to thrive and survive; 2) “hallelulah! my village was wiped out but God saved me!”; 3) God will send us to heaven.

    God’s love (1) is only ever described in poetic terms, so I can’t do better for now than Christine Cainer’s quote. See if you can see how it matches up to my evolutionary explanation. Try these too:

    The disciples said to Jesus, “Tell us what the kingdom of heaven is like.” He said to them, “It is like a mustard seed. It is the smallest of all seeds. But when it falls on tilled soil, it produces a great plant and becomes a shelter for the birds of the sky.”

    Jesus: Gospel of St Thomas

    In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.

    Albert Camus – “Return to Tipasa”

    #541

    I wish I had more time to comment, but I’m in mid-move.

    I love the thread’s (slight) meandering from my original post (thanks for acknowledging that pseudo hijacking, @MrBob!).

    @simonpaynton: Hrmmm… Simon’s vs. Sam’s take on “religion.” With respect, I defer to him, as I’d wager he’s done far more homework on and put far more careful thought into this topic than have you (or me) — his several books, numerous talks, and debates notwithstanding. But I’m open to evidence and well-reasoned arguments otherwise.

    Apologies for repetitive arguments, but — risking @virgil‘s tantramic reproach (which I’ll gladly address separately) — responding to your response to me:

    There is a mystical side to atheism – known only to me, apparently”

    A mystical side to the rejection of a god belief? Do explain. I’m curious if you think there is a mystical side to a-flat earthIsm, a-fairyism, a-martianism, etc. how do you support your claim that a disbelief in a god or the (so-called) “supernatural” to be “mystical”?

    #548

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    @Mr Tag – it’s a good thing you don’t have a fragile ego. Regarding atheist mysticism, and its link to morality, I would refer you to the previous few posts where I’ve been trying to explain it.

    #556

    Davis
    Participant

    @steveinco

    Some theists like to set up the debate in a way in which it is next to impossible to criticise religion (more importantly their religion) and their institutions.

    Resident theists have recently used the following technique:

    If you quote their particularily foul lines in their scriptures in addition to pointing out contradictions, extremely questionable wisdom or commandments or in any way to evaluate their faith…you are a fundamentalist.

    If you judge their history as an institution (their history of grievous crimes) you are only focussing on the negative. You are a fundamentalist.

    If you ask them direct and clear questions…you are demanding too much. Desiring a definitive set of moral laws (even a few basic ones) from those who profess that only their sense of morality is valid…is way beyond a reasonable request. You are a fundamentalist.

    Pointing out chronic problems of predatory priests raping children or gay priests having night long sex parties…is betraying a sexual or pornographic obsession. You are a fundamentalist.

    Asking clear questions and expecting remotely clear answers is unfair. Religion is just a concept after all. Repeating the question ad infinitum…makes you…guess? A funda-fu**ing-mentalist.

    If you point out the circus of insane activity amongst their members…you are a fundamentalist.

    If you point out something that makes their church look bad…in every case you are only referring to the great masses who don’t really understand the religion as it is meant to be. What is that? Asking that question is unreasonable and that makes you a fundamentalist.

    #564

    SteveInCO
    Participant

    @davis, to put it more concisely, some apologists are experts at using weasel argument tactics.

    #570

    Davis
    Participant

    I would actually call it four dimensional weasel tactics…which are so weasel-like it is borderline trolling. I wish that David guy had stayed on and kept going.

    #596

    DrBob
    Participant

    @davis, by contrast on the other side, I see a few forum regulars who are difficult to engage with productively because their positions aren’t consistently rational or well-informed.

    So, for example:

    If you quote their particularily foul lines in their scriptures in addition to pointing out contradictions, extremely questionable wisdom or commandments or in any way to evaluate their faith…you are a fundamentalist.

    If they themselves don’t treat “particularily [sic] foul lines in their scriptures” as being authoritative, then yes. You are being more fundamentalist than they are, or you are taking passages out of context just to advance an agenda rather than proceed rationally.

    The peer-reviewed scripture of science is full of bad science. We don’t condemn science for that if it’s not what we’re teaching in science now. Why would we condemn religion or any other discipline if its historical writings aren’t perfect? Unless we’re fundamentalist, and we believe that absolute literal authority resides in those writings. Personally, I don’t think that’s rational.

    If you judge their history as an institution (their history of grievous crimes) you are only focussing [sic] on the negative. You are a fundamentalist.

    Nonsense. You should learn about the (full, culturally embedded) history of institutions, and learn from both the good and the bad. At the same time, one can look at the Native American genocide in the U.S. and condemn it while still not coming to the conclusion that representative democracy is an awful institution. It’s not rational to believe that any human institution or group of humans is going to be perfect.

    If you ask them direct and clear questions…you are demanding too much. Desiring a definitive set of moral laws (even a few basic ones) from those who profess that only their sense of morality is valid…is way beyond a reasonable request. You are a fundamentalist.

    Yes, if you truly desire a definitive set of moral laws in English, then you’re a fundamentalist. Expecting that it’s possible to reduce all of morality to a codex in a human language isn’t rational. Heck, we can’t really say that anything we know right now is a definitive physical law, let alone a moral one. What we do know about physical laws requires a lot of study to really understand. Same thing with “moral laws.”

    Pointing out chronic problems of predatory priests raping children or gay priests having night long sex parties…is betraying a sexual or pornographic obsession. You are a fundamentalist.

    No, pointing out those problems is honest. Those have been, and occasionally still are, very real problems. Humans are humans. We commit unspeakable horrors sometimes. We cover things up in the hopes of avoiding embarrassment or financial loss or worse. Those acts should be condemned. The perpetrators should be jailed if the evidence supports it.

    At the same time, we should be rational and recognize that crimes and coverups are not unique to any one institution or type of institution. We can condemn some Wall Street Bankers and say they should have been jailed while at the same time recognizing that banking in general is a good thing for human societies. We should recognize that just because there have been horrible crimes and fraud committed by individual scientists, that doesn’t invalidate the practice of science. Similarly, just because there have been horrible crimes committed by individual priests, that doesn’t invalidate the practice of religion.

    Asking clear questions and expecting remotely clear answers is unfair. Religion is just a concept after all. Repeating the question ad infinitum…makes you…guess? A funda-fu**ing-mentalist.

    No, asking simplistic questions and seeking simplistic answers is childish, or at least the mark of a beginner in a field. The real world is complex, and nuanced. No matter what the discipline is – science, economics, history, religion, engineering – it takes time and effort and study to really understand.

    If you point out the circus of insane activity amongst their members…you are a fundamentalist.

    Not at all. However, if you point out the circus of insane activity done by a fraction of their members and attribute it to all of their members or the institution itself, you’re just expressing your own bias or prejudice. If you do it when they don’t even consider those folks members of their group, then you’re adding ignorance on top of bias.

    If you point out something that makes their church look bad…in every case you are only referring to the great masses who don’t really understand the religion as it is meant to be. What is that? Asking that question is unreasonable and that makes you a fundamentalist.

    No, believing that people are the same thing as corporations or ideas mostly makes you foolish. Granted, fundamentalists are also foolish, but this is different.

    56% of high-school educated Americans can’t pass a knowledge test on basic government that is required for foreigners to become U.S. citizens. We can say that indicates a problem with our educational system, or with those people’s level of study or commitment. What we can’t say is that the presence of ignorant Americans means that American constitutional democracy is bad, or that all Americans are ignorant.

    No different for religion.

    So in conclusion, it’s not a matter of technique or any form of game. The issue is that each of these things is a really poor, biased, or irrational argument no matter what the field is. There is a great deal to criticize about religion or the religious, but it should be done fairly and rationally.

    #599

    Davis
    Participant

    Did you know that the best place to get Bananas is not in Nicaragua as many think…but are on the Canary Islands. Fabulous place to eat and buy bananas. I am utterly gaga for Canary Island bananas.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by  Davis.
    #602

    Strega
    Moderator

    @davis. Madeira has great bananas

    #603

    Strega
    Moderator

    There is a great deal to criticize about religion or the religious, but it should be done fairly and rationally.

    Says who, @drbob ? This is an atheist website and all our atheist members are free to be as unfair and irrational as they like. You are a visitor, as you have often clearly recognized in posts. Don’t think for a minute that you get to set the rules here. If our members feel like ranting, or describing their perceptions in a way that doesn’t please you, that’s just too bad.

    Keep your criticisms to yourself on this matter, or alternatively, find a nice Christian Thinkers site and go commiserate there.

    #621

    SteveInCO
    Participant

    The peer-reviewed scripture of science is full of bad science. We don’t condemn science for that if it’s not what we’re teaching in science now. Why would we condemn religion or any other discipline if its historical writings aren’t perfect? Unless we’re fundamentalist, and we believe that absolute literal authority resides in those writings. Personally, I don’t think that’s rational.

    Science doesn’t have “scripture” and if you think it does, you don’t understand the meaning of one or the other of those words.

    Science does have currently accepted theory but any scientist will tell you they are subject to change. Scripture is presumed not to change (it does, but many followers of it refuse to concede that point), it’s just that people decide to ignore whatever parts they wish weren’t in it.

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