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My problem with Sam and his books
Posted: 16 October 2007 09:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]  
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Dee - 16 October 2007 03:12 AM

MD Beach ,

Your question is a very good one , and deserves some very good consideration.
Your thoughts about what can replace religion have entered my mind also. In spite of what those who scorn religion with passion say , we should admit that religion has almost certainly helped mankind. A certain type of person may stop short of commiting a crime just because he/she fears the wrath of God. I imagine some people’s morals are held together only because they believe in hell, and don’t want to end up there. The approval of God has caused many believers to refrain from abusing others ; I personaly know a man who was a pain to himself and everyone around him. I saw him years later after he had “got religion” and the change, good change, in him was amazing ,and so on.. Yes- what shall we give humanity that will inspire it to be decent and good ?

Believe it or not, I have an idea !!  It has worked for millions and—well, ask me !
          Dee

That sounds like a come-on for Scientology or the equivalent.  Okay, I’ll bite, what is the idea?

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Posted: 16 October 2007 12:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]  
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Dee - 16 October 2007 03:12 AM

The approval of God has caused many believers to refrain from abusing others ; I personaly know a man who was a pain to himself and everyone around him. I saw him years later after he had “got religion” and the change, good change, in him was amazing ,and so on.. Yes- what shall we give humanity that will inspire it to be decent and good ?

While I can’t address your friend’s personality specifically, I condemn the concept of being “good” simply to please an authority. That’s not “inspiring,” that’s simply acting out of fear of punishment. Following rules does not equate to true morality, which is about the effects of one’s actions on the self and others. Hypothetically, the authority could change its mind about the rules at any time.

Your example doesn’t prove that God exists, and it doesn’t prove that religion always leads to good. There are examples that counter yours. Chuck Colson switched his object of worship from Nixon to Jesus, but his personality remained the same.

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Posted: 16 October 2007 11:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]  
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Carstonio - 16 October 2007 04:27 PM
Dee - 16 October 2007 03:12 AM

The approval of God has caused many believers to refrain from abusing others ; I personaly know a man who was a pain to himself and everyone around him. I saw him years later after he had “got religion” and the change, good change, in him was amazing ,and so on.. Yes- what shall we give humanity that will inspire it to be decent and good ?

While I can’t address your friend’s personality specifically, I condemn the concept of being “good” simply to please an authority. That’s not “inspiring,” that’s simply acting out of fear of punishment. Following rules does not equate to true morality, which is about the effects of one’s actions on the self and others. Hypothetically, the authority could change its mind about the rules at any time.

Your example doesn’t prove that God exists, and it doesn’t prove that religion always leads to good. There are examples that counter yours. Chuck Colson switched his object of worship from Nixon to Jesus, but his personality remained the same.

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Posted: 17 October 2007 01:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]  
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This idea I have about finding something to take the place of religion in respects to doing good and keeping high moral values etc. dawned upon me as I thought about my Father and Grandfather !

They both were Freemasons, and I was always so impressed by thier organization , which is, as most of you know , a fraternity. It’s the oldest fraternity in the world. I was awed by thier brotherhood qualities, thier faith and devotion to one another . They shared a common understanding between them and thier beliefs were religious in nature but were not any religion. Their’s was a respect for humanity and faith in the decentcy and goodness of the human heart and mind.

They enjoyed and honored life itself , vowed to reach out to help others and give of themselves. Not only that, but thier establishment was ornate, mysterious and splendid—indeed, thier Temples were more beautiful than most churches.  If it all sounds religious, well that’s the beauty of it—-it has all the goodness and soulfulness of religion without being a religion. It is like what a decent religion SHOULD be .

Before you think another thought, I want you to realize that I know they do include “God” in thier institution . But they do not preach and thier ceremonies , however religious they seem, are not of any one religion .

There was a time when the brotherhood was almost the backbone of the United States government. When people like George Washington came to what was to be America, they were members of that fraternity. The US Constitution is built upon the ideas and principles of the Freemasonry .

AND :If ever this kind of life took root and flowered in the world it would have to drop the “fraternity” part and include the female of the species also.  What do you think ? Please let me know—!

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Posted: 17 October 2007 09:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]  
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Dee - 17 October 2007 05:03 AM

This idea I have about finding something to take the place of religion in respects to doing good and keeping high moral values etc. dawned upon me as I thought about my Father and Grandfather !

They both were Freemasons, and I was always so impressed by thier organization , which is, as most of you know , a fraternity. It’s the oldest fraternity in the world. I was awed by thier brotherhood qualities, thier faith and devotion to one another . They shared a common understanding between them and thier beliefs were religious in nature but were not any religion. Their’s was a respect for humanity and faith in the decentcy and goodness of the human heart and mind.

They enjoyed and honored life itself , vowed to reach out to help others and give of themselves. Not only that, but thier establishment was ornate, mysterious and splendid—indeed, thier Temples were more beautiful than most churches.  If it all sounds religious, well that’s the beauty of it—-it has all the goodness and soulfulness of religion without being a religion. It is like what a decent religion SHOULD be .

Before you think another thought, I want you to realize that I know they do include “God” in thier institution . But they do not preach and thier ceremonies , however religious they seem, are not of any one religion .

There was a time when the brotherhood was almost the backbone of the United States government. When people like George Washington came to what was to be America, they were members of that fraternity. The US Constitution is built upon the ideas and principles of the Freemasonry .

AND :If ever this kind of life took root and flowered in the world it would have to drop the “fraternity” part and include the female of the species also.  What do you think ? Please let me know—!

I’m not a mason, but am familiar with some of their history, practices, and teachings.  On this forum there might be a problem since, I believe, they will admit men of any religion, but no atheists on grounds that atheists acknowledge no higher power to swear the various oaths in the name of.  Agreed, they are not a religion.

There are many other groups with similar teachings.  If you are interested in other forms of spirituality, in terms of human development, I recommend the book The Sufis by Idries Shah.

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Posted: 06 November 2007 08:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]  
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I know I’m coming late to this discussion but I had to comment. Religion is like any other addiction and should be addressed as such.

I don’t pretend to know enough about this subject, but what I do know is that the answer won’t be the same for everyone. Like any addiction (such as smoking, alcohol, posting long comments on Sam Harris’ web forum), there are bound to be withdrawal symptoms such as fear, uncertainty and cravings for the comfort they once felt while intoxicated, but also like all addictions the person is better off without that junk in their system.

——

The question of what should replace religion is one that is asked all too much, when I think the answer has been around the whole time: rationality, science and the belief in our own species’ capability for good.

That is overly simplistic I admit though. We need to ask why people are religious and then attempt to address their needs. Some people were born into religion and brought up with its teachings, some people find comfort in thinking there is an overlord looking out for them (I find the notion creepy, but that’s just me!), some people are afraid of the unknown or what we don’t yet understand so religion fills this void… I could go on.

Sarcasm aside, in the Western world and even here in parts of East Asia where I live, people are going through a period of transition from religion to secularism and these questions are bound to be asked. I guess my point is the answer is not a one size fits all proposition.

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“If God doesn’t exist, how do we explain chocolate macadamia nut brownies?”
“God(s) made me an atheist. Who are you to question Him/Them?”
“Religion spelt backwards is noigiler. I don’t think that means anything, just thought I’d say it.”
“I programmed religion into a computer. Output was Insufficient evidence.”
“God and prayer aren’t saving my mum from cancer. Medical Science is.”

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Posted: 06 November 2007 10:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]  
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RationalRuben - 07 November 2007 01:13 AM

I know I’m coming late to this discussion but I had to comment. Religion is like any other addiction and should be addressed as such.

I don’t pretend to know enough about this subject, but what I do know is that the answer won’t be the same for everyone. Like any addiction (such as smoking, alcohol, posting long comments on Sam Harris’ web forum), there are bound to be withdrawal symptoms such as fear, uncertainty and cravings for the comfort they once felt while intoxicated, but also like all addictions the person is better off without that junk in their system.

——

The question of what should replace religion is one that is asked all too much, when I think the answer has been around the whole time: rationality, science and the belief in our own species’ capability for good.

That is overly simplistic I admit though. We need to ask why people are religious and then attempt to address their needs. Some people were born into religion and brought up with its teachings, some people find comfort in thinking there is an overlord looking out for them (I find the notion creepy, but that’s just me!), some people are afraid of the unknown or what we don’t yet understand so religion fills this void… I could go on.

Sarcasm aside, in the Western world and even here in parts of East Asia where I live, people are going through a period of transition from religion to secularism and these questions are bound to be asked. I guess my point is the answer is not a one size fits all proposition.

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Posted: 06 November 2007 10:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]  
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To say that religion must be replaced with some other institution is to completely miss the point of opposing religion. Those of us who are not religious surely don’t “need” any other doctrine. That is, of course, besides the obvious ones of reason, free-thinking, and humanism. I have spoken to so many people who were once religious, and are no longer so. They usually just tell me something to the effect of, “I just decided to start thinking for myself.” There is no replacement dogma that is needed. We are talking about the moderates here. It is the moderates, after all, who we should be focused on bringing to our side. The fundamentalists will never budge. They just have to be marginalized until the end of time. It’s the moderates that I think will gradually swing to our side, as the decades and centuries go on.

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Posted: 06 November 2007 10:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]  
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R.Ruben :

When I mentioned the Masons as a substitute for religion I was just using them as an example , the organization does’nt have to be the actual Freemasons—-just something like it. The Masons are a good example of an organization that goes by the good principles of a religion , but not a church etc.  One thing that religion gives us is that “togetherness” , and something like the Masons does that also. I still think they are the best idea for a substitute for religion that anyone has come up with yet.

Do you have any better ideas ?  I believe one thing is for sure and that is that the world, humanity, does need something to unite them and apply thier brains and bodies to a common good cause - like the welfare and betterment of humanity ; happiness for all without it being at the expense of others.  (That’s hard to put into the right words, but you get the idea )
  Another thought that is challenging is : If the world did, indeed, have no religion (“Freedom from Religion” etc.)what would life be like ? Would it really be better ? Maybe we’d be surprised, and find things are worse !
I do know that the world would, without a doubt, be better off without Islam. ( Just imagine !  A world without beheadings ! )

I keep thinking about some relatives of mine who , since they got religion,have become kinder, gentler people. ( At least I can stand them now ) . One example of religion doing some good. Of course, they are nuttier than a Payday candy bar . Oh well…

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Posted: 07 November 2007 07:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]  
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Dee - 07 November 2007 03:37 AM

  Another thought that is challenging is : If the world did, indeed, have no religion (“Freedom from Religion” etc.)what would life be like ? ...

I tend to agree with Harris’s statement that “. . .  love and curiosity are sufficient . . . “.

Human affinity groups are plentiful, and swimmingly serve community/bonding/relationship purposes.  I’d venture that we need not worry about a “substitute” for religion, should it disappear, and that healthy types of group togetherness would automatically take its place.

“. . . we need not console or frighten ourselves or our children with Iron Age fairy tales.. . . “ as a bonding technique.

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“The hands that help are better far than the lips that pray.”
          — Robert G. Ingersoll

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Posted: 07 November 2007 07:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]  
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Further, to elaborate -

Genuine attempts to gain each other’s love through kindness and compassion for their own sake . . .

versus

The confusion of trying to gain the love of an invisible, supernatural, tyrannical skymaster vis-a-vis unchanging, dogmatic, convoluted scripture penned by Dark Age camel herders.

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“The hands that help are better far than the lips that pray.”
          — Robert G. Ingersoll

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Posted: 22 November 2007 06:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]  
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I have a problem with absoluteness, either belief or disbelief. I suppose absoluteness is required to create a sense of purpose. Whether it be evolution or knowledge or science or religion it is all a creation of human mind. Who knows what truth is or what truth means in an absolute sense? For is not truth a construct or a figment of mans imagination just like math and science and most certainly religion is? Although I do like science and math a little better since they are more organized and appealing to the rational mind.

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Posted: 22 November 2007 09:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]  
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anumutsi - 22 November 2007 11:41 PM

I have a problem with absoluteness, either belief or disbelief. I suppose absoluteness is required to create a sense of purpose. Whether it be evolution or knowledge or science or religion it is all a creation of human mind. Who knows what truth is or what truth means in an absolute sense? For is not truth a construct or a figment of mans imagination just like math and science and most certainly religion is? Although I do like science and math a little better since they are more organized and appealing to the rational mind.

Do you think that the Pythagorean theorem is universally true, was true before humanity existed, and will continue to be true for all time?  Is it true, regardless of whether it has been formulated by any sentient mind wherever that mind might be?

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Posted: 23 November 2007 07:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 74 ]  
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burt - 23 November 2007 02:53 AM
anumutsi - 22 November 2007 11:41 PM

I have a problem with absoluteness, either belief or disbelief. I suppose absoluteness is required to create a sense of purpose. Whether it be evolution or knowledge or science or religion it is all a creation of human mind. Who knows what truth is or what truth means in an absolute sense? For is not truth a construct or a figment of mans imagination just like math and science and most certainly religion is? Although I do like science and math a little better since they are more organized and appealing to the rational mind.

Do you think that the Pythagorean theorem is universally true, was true before humanity existed, and will continue to be true for all time?  Is it true, regardless of whether it has been formulated by any sentient mind wherever that mind might be?

Since it doesn’t hold in a non-Euclidean geometry, I’m not sure what you are talking about. It is certainly true relative to the set of “axioms” governing Euclidean geometry, but that’s all there is to its validity.

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Posted: 23 November 2007 09:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 75 ]  
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arildno - 23 November 2007 12:59 PM
burt - 23 November 2007 02:53 AM
anumutsi - 22 November 2007 11:41 PM

I have a problem with absoluteness, either belief or disbelief. I suppose absoluteness is required to create a sense of purpose. Whether it be evolution or knowledge or science or religion it is all a creation of human mind. Who knows what truth is or what truth means in an absolute sense? For is not truth a construct or a figment of mans imagination just like math and science and most certainly religion is? Although I do like science and math a little better since they are more organized and appealing to the rational mind.

Do you think that the Pythagorean theorem is universally true, was true before humanity existed, and will continue to be true for all time?  Is it true, regardless of whether it has been formulated by any sentient mind wherever that mind might be?

Since it doesn’t hold in a non-Euclidean geometry, I’m not sure what you are talking about. It is certainly true relative to the set of “axioms” governing Euclidean geometry, but that’s all there is to its validity.

That is exactly the point.  The Pythagorean theorem is an absolute truth of Euclidian geometry.  It cannot be denied so the question I asked was directed at a comment that seemed to say that because Euclidian geometry was discovered by Euclid (and the earlier mathematicians whose work he summarized) it was only a human invention and not necessarily something that is an absolute truth.  (The difference here is between absolute and universal.)

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