Came across this the other day and it made me think some = )
Posted: 13 July 2005 10:20 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/dawkins_24_5.htm

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Posted: 30 July 2005 11:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Even a brainy guy like Dawkins sounds like he’s stumped for an explanation of religion.
I think religion was originally for a purpose that no longer exists and no one remembers- the creation of a community of stable conscious minds. Civilization ensued, education took over conscious installation, and religion had nothing left but the party hats. We’ve been trying to figure out the hats ever since.

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Posted: 01 August 2005 11:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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I kind of thought of religion as a person’s attempt to assign context and meaning to one’s life. There are a lot of ways to find meaning and when you get enough people together with similar goals in mind they tend to create organizational religion.  It’s possible to understand certain principles and truths about the world through insight and observation, but when you start asking questions about, let’s say; life after death, reason then fails to address the issue because it’s impossible to observe something that’s unobservable. 

Whether a religion is false or true, logical or unreasonable, it is still humanity’s attempt to explain and understand the mysteries of life and understand one’s own existence. Some religions have been explaining reality for a long time and they guard those little chunks of insight that they’ve gained whether they were discovered or revealed. Are these insights accurate or true? Well…like I said if everything in life was based on logic then atheists would have been able to resolve this conflict a long time ago. Until you have a system of thought that allows other people to explore and explain the hidden truths behind their lives without being affiliated with a group, ideology, or religion, then people are going to still argue and fight over dogma whether its religious or secular in nature.

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Posted: 02 August 2005 05:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Welcome, Ebion :D Love the Jung quote, btw.

You may be right, but that doesn’t change the fact that religion, especially patriarchal religion, has damaged our species.  It deserves no place in politics.

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The road of excess leads to the palace of Wisedom
-William Blake, “Proverbs of Hell”

Life, what is it but a dream?
- Lewis Carroll, “A boat Beneath a Sunny Sky

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Posted: 02 August 2005 10:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Thank you for the compliment, and I can understand your argument. Religion seems to loss context when exercised in the public realm. Empirical truth or reason does not always require a person to individually understand all of its implications. We see the sun rise and set, and even though we may not all understand why or how it happens still it does, and nothings will take away from the fact that it happens.
Spiritual truths or insights however require understanding and integration within a person’s life to yield any meaning, whether that meaning is factual or made up.

Religion is an individualistic process because all of the gains and losses that a person achieves within a spiritual pursuit are personal: were another person cannot add or take away from that person’s insight or convictions unless they allow them too. That’s why a person’s beliefs are not always driven by logic or reason. Because what goes on in each of our brains is more than information exchange, but emotions and feelings as well.

Religious conviction means absolutely nothing to someone who doesn’t understand them, and it is immoral to force someone to obey such convictions if they do not believe or hold them to be true. That’s why in the public sector religion beliefs should not be basic policy. However, I believe making policies against religions or religious convictions is equally immoral, since you can’t make a person believe something to be true, you can’t force a person to believe something isn’t true.

I’ve come to think that whether a person holds a secular belief or a religious one, that unless that person or group can explain and convince others of their position, and to have other untimely come to understand and believe that position, then it is nothing more than a private conviction and should remain so.  A person should have a freedom of choice, and anything that blocks that freedom to be seen as attack on personal liberty and should be avoided.

That’s why historically movements and reforms to either suppress religious thought or force religious thought onto others have ended badly, regardless of position. The true crime has been on the liberty of man individually and as a speices.

[ Edited: 04 August 2005 08:06 AM by ]
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Posted: 03 August 2005 05:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Avoidance is not suppression.  The secular state in no way inhibits private religious practice.  In historical fact, as has been argued here before, the secular democracy is the friendliest environment for religion.  Theocratic states engender abandonment of religion.

The fight against theocrats in America is a fight to preserve the health of our democracy and protect it from the corrosive effects of fascistic theocracy as represented by evangelical patriarchal authoritarians operating under the false pretense of ‘social conservatism’.  The fight to preserve secularism in public policy is the true patriotic cause.

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The road of excess leads to the palace of Wisedom
-William Blake, “Proverbs of Hell”

Life, what is it but a dream?
- Lewis Carroll, “A boat Beneath a Sunny Sky

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Posted: 03 August 2005 11:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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I know that the secular state does not suppresses religious thought, and the system of government set in place by the founding fathers runs under the idea of “separation of church and state.” That means that the government cannot favor one religion over others, but that equally means that the government cannot take a anti-religious stance when dealing with others religions.

I would be inclined to agree with your easement and that having a religious system set up as a ruling frame work for a country is a mistake. However, I would like to remind that it’s not always a cut and dry distinction between religious thought and secular thought. 

Certain issues are purely religious in nature such as, “Is their a God?” Some issues are not so simple. There are many philosophical stances and ideologies ranging from secular to religious, even to atheistic that argue about the bases of human nature. A person can have a purely secular outlook on human nature or they canone that is religiously motivated.

How a person sees mankind will undoubtedly effect how they form social policies and reform. If you think man is flawed and inherently evil then you create laws to limit man’s powers and freedoms. If you think man is ultimately good and sometimes does wrong, you create laws to encourage man’s best behavior. This kind of argument can be seen in early American history with Jefferson and Hamilton.

The reason (as many on this forum have said) that Christians or religious groups just don’t seem to get “it” when arguing on faith and reason is that the issue has not been clearly defined. No one has yet been able to devise a system that says, “This is religion and this is secular and neither the two should met.” A person’s religious views predominantly create that person’s worldview, and in turn that worldview shapes the way that person votes and decides on social issues. It’s impossible for a religious person to divorce their religion completely from their social or political life. If you had a law that forbade a politician from being elected by taking a religious stance, how would you go about proving that person is in violation of that law?

I advocate that secularists and atheists debate and discuss issues with religious minded people as a basic policy. This would include in the public realm. That does not mean that religion is given equal power or influence, but that they are part of the process. Humans are driven predominantly by ideas, by getting these ideas out and sharing them with opposite or even hostile parties then a position is more clearly defined. I don’t see it as a violation of a separation of church and state if a religion is able to publicly voice why the believe something to be wrong or if the have an objection to a public policy. As long as “all” parties are allowed to voice their opinion then each citizen has the right to voice that opinion. 

Now I know the danger that many fear when a religion begins making itself know in the public sphere. Many start to force their religious policies onto to others. Unfortunately that is a flaw of our democracy and the democratic process. Democracy is always driven by mob rule. That’s why freedom to express many different ideas is so important so that such a large majority of people don’t become obsessed with enshrining one system of thought as the ruling influence in public policy.

Religious minded people are not crazy or different from the rest of humanity. They have the same fears and frustrations as everyone else. Anyone will become exasperated and distraught when they feel their concerns are being ignored. By have an outlet, and that means a public outlet, for venting such frustrations then you avoid haveing a build up of resentment and hostility within a country.

Also as a minor side note; I think it’s a mistake though to lump all of conservatism with a desire to establish Theocracy as the ruling political government in the country.  That’s an oversimplification of the issue and inacruate, but I’m not trying to criticize your assessment. I just see it as leading to a miss understandings when others take a particular stand point. I think that you’ll agree that the same thing happens with liberal ideas and often those ideas are misinterpreted under the guise of false ulterior motives.

[ Edited: 04 August 2005 08:10 AM by ]
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Posted: 03 August 2005 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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I see a major flaw in the concept that there is no clear distinction between what is secular and what is religious.  That way of thinking confuses religion with morality and civility.  Religion is not the basis of morality, survival, both at the individual and ‘tribal’ level, is the true source of the demand for social order, stability, and justice.  The legal proscription of criminal activities such as murder and rape is not, as is so often asserted by the fundamentalist, rooted in religion but is founded upon reason, a secular value.

A careful reading of the Constitution will reveal that ‘mob rule’ was something the founders were very keen to prevent and therefore established the system of checks and balances.

It goes without saying that people, religious or not, will vote their consciences (to which some may or may not attach their wallets ).  When it comes to ‘outlets’, religious people have always had plenty in their churches.  And as long as religious people wish to present their political arguments in honest terms, with respect to the real and long-term effects of the policies they promote, then they deserve to be heard in the public square.  But when they ignore the legitimacy of other views and frame every debate as if it were a sermon they lose any hope of being taken seriously.

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The road of excess leads to the palace of Wisedom
-William Blake, “Proverbs of Hell”

Life, what is it but a dream?
- Lewis Carroll, “A boat Beneath a Sunny Sky

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Posted: 04 August 2005 03:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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True rabbit, religion cannot create morals and someone who is not religious can very easily be a moral person. Though I think that it is an important to note that religions do not see morality as an end in of itself. Religions are primarily concerned with spiritual matters and spiritual obtainment. Religion in of itself is also not and end, but a means to an end.

The idea of morals and obsoletes interested me when I was younger and I tried to understand what these concepts meant. The Greek conception was disappointing for it posed the idea that morals were good in of themselves without any need of a higher principle to give it context, hence Plato and Aristotle. I was most impressed with the Chinese concept of morality. Morality is a tool or a means to an end, much as exercise is a means to better health, morality was a means as to stronger spiritual bases. Everything a person did had a consequence on their development and spiritual progress. Thus they made a clear distinction that a person who was moral was not necessarily spiritual, but that a spiritual person was a moral person. Thus it is not a claim of religion to invent of assign morals as a way of controlling others, but as a means to gaining true meaning and understanding of their teachings.

As to your other objection, “survival, both at the individual and ‘tribal’ level, is the true source of the demand for social order, stability, and justice.” This may very well have validity, but I hold more of an intellectual position of “natural rights” which was not a popular stance with many modern philosophers. I’ve seen many attempts to discredit the idea of the natural rights of man, such as the Utilitarians, but never found their argument very convincing. I find the intellectual idea of “utility” to be somewhat ambiguous. The only person I read that did justice to the ideal of proscribed rights of man and defined by the need for utility was John Stewart Mills’ essay “On Liberty.”  Though Mill’s argument was not enough to convince me that “natural rights” did not exists.

I see that the argument to limit the voice of religion is usually framed with the fundamentalist in mind. And yes when they frame “every message as a sermon” they do lose legitimacy. Although, I see this silencing of fundamentalist as having huge implications down the line as other groups are silenced to keep the peace. This creates that build up, as I mentioned before, of resentment and hostility. Perhaps I’m looking to far ahead, but I find that tomorrow usually arrives more quickly than we think.

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Posted: 04 August 2005 05:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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I see that the argument to limit the voice of religion is usually framed with the fundamentalist in mind. And yes when they frame “every message as a sermon” they do lose legitimacy. Although, I see this silencing of fundamentalist as having huge implications down the line as other groups are silenced to keep the peace. This creates that build up, as I mentioned before, of resentment and hostility. Perhaps I’m looking to far ahead, but I find that tomorrow usually arrives more quickly than we think.

It’s necessary to do so, at the very least to preserve any potential sense of responsible rational justice.  Being afraid of any sense of backlash on the issue isn’t good reason to continue analyzing it, and deprogramming it.  Otherwise, there’s no counterbalancing what is potentially regressing back into an authoritarian state that imposes on sane people rights.  Forcing laws on another based on religious ideology, is a threat to what you call natural rights.  I’m not for passing laws that keep people from believing as they wish, only from removing one’s ability to believe as they wish, provided it doesn’t get too extreme to the point where it requires forcing another to do similarly.  It’s best to leave the table all open, to each his/her own belief system, except the one that requires removing another’s ability to be happy following a dissenting view.

It may seem paradoxical, but really what should be the standard is imposing the option of free thinking, as I’ve said, with limitations on detrimental extremist acts.  Neo Nazis may be free to think as they wish, but they aren’t free to impose on another as they wish.

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Posted: 05 August 2005 05:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Religions are primarily concerned with spiritual matters and spiritual obtainment.

If that’s really so then politics should be of little or no interest to the religious.

Morality is a tool or a means to an end, much as exercise is a means to better health, morality was a means as to stronger spiritual bases.

Morality and spirituality are mutually exclusive conditions and no semantic footwork will overcome that hurdle to establish morality as a dependent variable of spirituality.
So this:

… a person who (is) moral (is) not necessarily spiritual, but ... a spiritual person (is) a moral person.

cannot be validated, nor can such a premise be extrapolated from the idea that:

Everything a person (does has) a consequence (on their development and spiritual progress).

  <my parentheses

Which is why, by intellect and experience, it is clearly untrue that:

… it is not a claim of religion to invent (or) assign morals as a way of controlling others, but as a means to gaining true meaning and understanding of their teachings.

 

I see this silencing of fundamentalist as having huge implications down the line as other groups are silenced to keep the peace.

Firstly, religious fundamentalism has, sadly, never been silenced in America.  Secondly, those groups who advocate violence, as do so many religious fundamentalists, should be monitored and censored.  The KKK, the anit-gay and anti-choice preachers, and the fundamentalist Islamic madras are equally unwelcome in any civilized culture.  The true danger lies in failing to suppress such poisonous rhetoric as numerous clinic bombings, the Atlanta Olympic bombings, Oklahoma City, and 11 September clearly demonstrate.  Tolerance is wasted upon the intolerant.

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The road of excess leads to the palace of Wisedom
-William Blake, “Proverbs of Hell”

Life, what is it but a dream?
- Lewis Carroll, “A boat Beneath a Sunny Sky

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