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The purpose of this forum
Posted: 29 December 2004 09:21 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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This will be my first post. 
After reading many of the topics and posts so far i can see no clear theme. Most forums have a theme and the theme of "religion" is far too broad for this site.
Sam's book will help a great deal toward's promoting clear thought and i think this site should focus on that issue.
I look forward to reading discussions regarding alternatives to organized religion. As an experienced church goer (kicked the habit 12 years ago) i appreciated the many beneficial aspects of a church: the coming together of kind hearted people who look toward bettering themselves and helping others.
If we use this forum to de-value the efforts of good people it will be of no use to humanity. I would appreciate hearing suggestions to replace the church - not the people.

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Posted: 29 December 2004 09:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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[quote author=“Paul Hindle”]This will be my first post. 
After reading many of the topics and posts so far i can see no clear theme. Most forums have a theme and the theme of “religion” is far too broad for this site.
Sam’s book will help a great deal toward’s promoting clear thought and i think this site should focus on that issue.
I look forward to reading discussions regarding alternatives to organized religion. As an experienced church goer (kicked the habit 12 years ago) i appreciated the many beneficial aspects of a church: the coming together of kind hearted people who look toward bettering themselves and helping others.
If we use this forum to de-value the efforts of good people it will be of no use to humanity. I would appreciate hearing suggestions to replace the church - not the people.

This forum is built around the issue of faith. Sam’s hypothesis as I understand it is that faith is the enemy as Sam calls for “The End of Faith”. I think really what is at issue is not faith as all of us every day must make decisions based on faith. For example, if we have to catch a bus at 6:30 am we act on the faith that the bus will be there at 6:30 am or thereabouts. If we do not have the faith that the bus will be there, then there is no point in even going down to the bus stop.

So what that leaves us with is not an issue of faith, but of blind unquestioning faith of the religion to which an individual adheres. I therefore understand this to be a question of the necessity of having individuals who have accepted the whole ball of wax without question to begin to question aspects of their religious belief as opposed to washing the whole ball of wax down the toilet which will cause the toilet to back up and overflow and create a nasty mess all over the floor.

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Posted: 29 December 2004 10:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Perhaps “faith based on experience” is where rational thought leads.  If someone tells you a bus will come but the bus never comes you might arrive at the conclusion whoever told you about the “no-show bus” is lying or stupid.  Continuing to wait for a bus that someone tells you will arrive, but never arrives, and there is no evidence to support that it will ever arrive, is an example of irrational thought.  Much of religion would disappear if it had to adhere to bus schedules. 

Religion is not about the proveable—when people make it follow the same rules as Science it naturally falls apart: most of what has been asserted cannot be proven, or even observed.  You can’t make metaphors go through physical hoops, and the fools who insist you can live in Neverland of a kind.  You can’t make words do what sensory perceptions can do (Occam’s Razor via Joseph Campbell: It you haven’t had a sensory experience of something you cannot make an abstract assertion about it).

A religion based on reason?  That’s like dancing based upon math: you can see the moves but will you “feel” the music?  Unless “reason” has a place for its counterpart, it will never get people on the dance floor.  Reason isn’t meant to do everything, but (I posit) it’s meant to be the chief arbitrater for a world that cannot afford nonsensical ideas that cause harm to hold sway.

Belief is like a jailer
Who offers you a key
To free you from a prison
The jailer built for thee.

(I am interested in these issues, and more than a bit pedanctic, but mean no harm…)

+++

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Posted: 29 December 2004 10:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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John Doe (the Divine) starts a church. His followers question some aspects of his message. John Doe never actually researched any of his beliefs or had any research groups try to reproduce his findings so instead of providing his followers with knowledge he said they must have faith. They initially told him to take a flying leap so John said to them “believe or you will not go to (insert divine place here), you will instead go to (insert bad place here - or Los Angeles). They then changed their minds and thought faith didn’t sound so bad after all. John Doe the Divine became very powerful and rich.

The End

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Posted: 29 December 2004 02:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Paul,

Hello and welcome to the site.  Everybody is new here, so you’re just in time.  Thank you for your effort to thematicize our little forum; your advice is well received.

I, and as you can see if you look deeply enough, many of the other posters do agree that an effective response to the rising theocracy should be a primary focus for this forum.  Many comments I have read have been along the lines of “what do we do?”

It seems to me that you are correct in assessing Sam’s book as an aid in promoting clear thought.  However, as Scepticx has pointed out, unfortunately that is a value that not all of our fellow citizens share, preferring the simpler confines of the flock, and moving when and where their shepherds tell them.  It seems, therefore, that an obstacle to overcome is to broaden the appeal of clear thought, as we, the secular humanists define it.  This ground has been trod for centuries, so we shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel.

There is one item I am still a bit hazy on, and perhaps others are as well: who or what is our target?  Are we aiming to de-convert some parishioners?  Is that our audience?  Are we trying to forward another voice in the sea of America for the ruling class to consider?  Is activism our objective?  Is mass-media our conduit?  Do we write plays, sit-coms, songs, etc?

As far as how to replace the church—that may be impossible.  No other entity revolves around such an ultimate concept; no other organization recognizes and speaks to humanity’s ontic anxiety.  The good?  Well, if the bull in the china shop can be deemed to have good characteristics, maybe so, but if the world is a china shop, then the bull has no positive function there.  It is for the destruction that many call for an end to religion.  Maybe there are “beneficial aspects” to organized religion.  As Sam points out, though, at what cost?

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Posted: 29 December 2004 03:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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[quote author=“Frank Armstrong”]Perhaps “faith based on experience” is where rational thought leads.  If someone tells you a bus will come but the bus never comes you might arrive at the conclusion whoever told you about the “no-show bus” is lying or stupid.  Continuing to wait for a bus that someone tells you will arrive, but never arrives, and there is no evidence to support that it will ever arrive, is an example of irrational thought.  Much of religion would disappear if it had to adhere to bus schedules. 

Religion is not about the proveable—when people make it follow the same rules as Science it naturally falls apart: most of what has been asserted cannot be proven, or even observed.  You can’t make metaphors go through physical hoops, and the fools who insist you can live in Neverland of a kind.  You can’t make words do what sensory perceptions can do (Occam’s Razor via Joseph Campbell: It you haven’t had a sensory experience of something you cannot make an abstract assertion about it).

A religion based on reason?  That’s like dancing based upon math: you can see the moves but will you “feel” the music?  Unless “reason” has a place for its counterpart, it will never get people on the dance floor.  Reason isn’t meant to do everything, but (I posit) it’s meant to be the chief arbitrater for a world that cannot afford nonsensical ideas that cause harm to hold sway.

(I am interested in these issues, and more than a bit pedanctic, but mean no harm…)

+++

The fathers of the US of A built a belief system on reason. They believed that if a government was properly formed with enough checks and balances then that government would have a slim chance of actually working for the people as to working against them which has now become the case.

Those of the Bahá’í faith believe that men that have been touched by God, prophets, regularly are born on Earth to overturn what has become religious dogma. These prophets are believed to be commissioned by God to try to heal the hole that has developed in humanities psyche.

Is it possible for a religion to be built with checks and balances? Probably not - as those that control the religious institutions have nothing to gain by giving up some of their power (the same as those in government.) But who decided that the acolytes have to hand over this power to religious leaders?

The only way that I can see to solve this problem is to not have leaders - but is not that what communism was all about? Perhaps religious leaders should be elected, should not hold office for more than four years, should not be allowed to rake in money from corporate sponsors for campaign funds and should not be allowed to benefit financially from their position of authority!

Hell if we could do that in the government of the good old US of A then we might actually have a government that cared about the people and did not tax the people to subsidize major corporations at the tune of several billion dollars every year!

(I am not angry, I am vehement)

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Posted: 29 December 2004 03:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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[quote author=“Paul Hindle”]John Doe (the Divine) starts a church. His followers question some aspects of his message. John Doe never actually researched any of his beliefs or had any research groups try to reproduce his findings so instead of providing his followers with knowledge he said they must have faith. They initially told him to take a flying leap so John said to them “believe or you will not go to (insert divine place here), you will instead go to (insert bad place here - or Los Angeles). They then changed their minds and thought faith didn’t sound so bad after all. John Doe the Divine became very powerful and rich.

The End

I thought his name was John Smith and he commisioned Brigham Young with Book of Mormon. am I bad?

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Posted: 29 December 2004 03:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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[quote author=“child”]Paul,


There is one item I am still a bit hazy on, and perhaps others are as well: who or what is our target?  Are we aiming to de-convert some parishioners?  Is that our audience?  Are we trying to forward another voice in the sea of America for the ruling class to consider?  Is activism our objective?  Is mass-media our conduit?  Do we write plays, sit-coms, songs, etc?

The only way to get adherents is to solicit the disassociated. The question then becomes who is disassociated? We all are unless we belong to the one percent of the population in America that controls the wealth and resources, the American aristocracy.

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Posted: 29 December 2004 05:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Paul Hindle wrote: I would appreciate hearing suggestions to replace the church - not the people.

One of my contentions has been that the up-tic in religious involvement in politics augers their own walls coming down—i.e. if religion is compelled to face reason regarding “reality” in a fair contest it cannot compete.  It wasn’t built for that.  Look at the world: the more histrionic and politically involved the religion, the less effective the state.  I joked on another site that we should have a national game show or contest pitting fundamentalists/creationists against scientists, and having each side answer questions regarding their various assertions.  Call it “Who Wants to be a Monkey’s Uncle?”  I’d watch, but then again I’m a monkey’s nephew. 

Religious symbols work by going past the intellect and into the gut (Joseph Campbell wrote about this issue extensively).  We get into trouble when zealots and others take the poetry of myths and call it prose (again a contention of Campbell’s).  The bible is poetry (a lot of it bad poetry at that) that is being sold as prose.  However, if people of reason don’t understand the dynamics of magical belief systems they will never be able to market a distinct, attractive and understandable alternative.  It is not enough to point at the fool: one has to be able to describe, examine and understand the fool as well. 

Maybe this site would do well to avoid obsessing on religion, but it can never avoid the subject for long.  Religion comes from the word religio which means to “link back.”  This site may prove to be a good place to start “linking to the now.”

+++

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Posted: 29 December 2004 11:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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I did some checking…

America seems to go through evangelical revivals in a cycle
Alot of people seem to expect the return of Christ every millenium, although the invention of the nuclear bomb and world war II also set one off.  What is scary is how much evangelical BS we are exporting.  Pentacostals have seen great increases in converts in Korea and South America.  Remember Bush is “Born Again”.

I don’t want to “de-convert” people, I don’t want to “take” their faith, but I don’t want to live in a isolanionist theocracy because our leaders are exploiting those with “faith”

To me, what we need to do is find, reach out to, and organize people that already think like us and start blocking this countries political movements toward theocracy.  We can even reach out to those of faith who see what is going on.

I think the violence the Faiths of the world are engaged in, both Christianity and Muslim is because they already are threatened.
I have faith they will fall themselves in time, we just need to keep them from doing too much more damage before they do.

Education is the critical issue, which is why “Intelligent Design” and control of our courts are possibly the most insidiously scary things I see the theologists trying to do to America.  I am a patriot, and I see what is going on as a clear threat to America both in its world leadership position, its future, and its basic core freedom and principles.

As for church and spiritual support there are several faiths out there that are not a threat and are actually quite good. 
 
The Catholic Church has for the most part stayed out of politics since it learned its lesson in the Dark Ages.  The Baha’i faith teaches non-involvement in government.  Unitarians aren’t so bad either.  Eastern religions are also more prevalent now in the US.  Even Islam has its “good” and “bad” sects, but I am not very familiar with their protestant versions.

Go to your local School Board and City Council meetings, if you live in the South like I do you might be amazed.

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Posted: 30 December 2004 01:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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I repeat here my post from another thread. Rule of law, as conceived by our founding fathers, is the best idea I can think of. It is something a group can work for, as opposed to trying to eliminate the ingrained misconceptions that so many people depend on for their peace of mind.

“Quote:
are all the people that now believe in God going to simply suspend belief?”

I don’t think that is possible. Not in our lifetimes. That is why governments should be strictly separated from religion. Religion can be allowed to exist only under the rule of law in its respective countries. Preferably these countries should be democratically governed.

We are witnessing a phenomenon right now in Saudi Arabia, where Islamic extremists are attacking the government with bombs. It will be hard for an Islamic government to punish people who follow to the letter the laws of Islam, which the bombers claim they are doing. Where this will end, who knows.

We have a case here in NYC of a lawyer who has defended a number of Muslim extremists. She is now accused of aiding and abetting terrorism, and it is clear that she has overstepped the lines of law several times in her enthusiasm for helping her clients. I suspect she will go to jail.

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Posted: 30 December 2004 01:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Belief is like a jailer
Who offers you a key
To free you from a prison
The jailer built for thee.

that is very well put!

I would like to propose a new religion based on probability - the probability of something happening (in the future, of course) - the greater the probability, then the greater the “faith”, or the greater expectation of a certain result

stochastic processes, that forms part of the broad field of probability (one of the most complex areas of applied math today) govern a large part of our lives - it is possible to model many of these events and arrive at a useful mathematical [removed]such as the Poisson or Gaussian distributions)

a particularly important part of the broad field of probability is reliability, which is defined in mathematics as the probability of a given event at a given future moment in time and under a given set of conditions - this field is growing rapidly - it could be the cornerstone of our “new faith” - we are already exposed to probability expressions throughout our daily lives, such as expiration dates on foods and batteries, and “mean-time-to-failure” for light bulbs - we certainly don’t expect “god” to extend the life of an object - instead, we “expect” the object to have a projected lifetime

Bayes’ Theorem has even been used to “adjust” probability expressions given new evidence - that could be one major subject matter for “preaching” the “new faith”

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Posted: 30 December 2004 02:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Blissful one,

Don’t look now, but:

Within the next twenty-five years the population of the world’s Christians is expected to grow to 2.6 billion (making Christianity by far the world’s largest faith). From 1934-1994, the number of Christians in the world increased by 1300 percent (from 40 million to 540 million in the last 60 years), while the world’s population grew only 400 percent…This shift in “Christianity’s heart” will have an enormous effect the faith[sic], as well as geopolitical affairs as Christian/Muslim tensions mount.

Looks like the clash of fairy-tales will not end any time soon, somebody named “Joshua Claybourn” notes.

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Posted: 30 December 2004 02:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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child said:

Within the next twenty-five years the population of the world’s Christians is expected to grow to 2.6 billion (making Christianity by far the world’s largest faith). From 1934-1994, the number of Christians in the world increased by 1300 percent (from 40 million to 540 million in the last 60 years), while the world’s population grew only 400 percent…This shift in “Christianity’s heart” will have an enormous effect the faith[sic], as well as geopolitical affairs as Christian/Muslim tensions mount.

only a temporary setback smile

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Posted: 30 December 2004 06:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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I know of this prediction, and its based partly on the success of evangelical religions growing in countries that maybe arent quite as educated.

Meanwhile, the numbers of “Christians” is strange count.
There are alot of people that say they are Christian, but dont participate.
Membership in organized religions in Europe is drastically dying out.

To be a “Christian” is also a misnomer.  I can list 10 different “Christian” churches with different philosophys off the top of my head without doing a search, and these different sects don’t agree.

But this is also disturbing to me, while most of us are educated and intelligent and moral, there are alot of immoral people, and uneducated ones.  If you look at proliferation of violence among the young, you see that they are getting their morals from movies and video games and rap songs.  While I don’t agree that religion is the best place to get morals from, it sure as hell beats getting it from “Grand Theft Auto”.

So, I can see alot of sides in this debate = )

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Posted: 30 December 2004 08:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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Too much of that openmindedness and they will label you as a flip-flopper…Watch it buster!

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