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What of the Moderates?
Posted: 06 January 2005 03:30 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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I'd like to talk about the attack on moderate theists that Sam broaches.  I haven't time to look up quotes right now, but the strain is strong in his argument.  What do you all think?  Is he too hard on the "good, honest, salt-of-the-earth believers," or is he right: they are allowing the radicals viability.

I'll come back with some quotes later.

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Posted: 06 January 2005 10:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Clearly, the moderate’s “respect for the beliefs of others” should be viewed warily.  At bottom, the problem of belief in “untestable propositions” is what opens the door to all manner of manic notions.

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Posted: 07 January 2005 06:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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In principle, I want to respect the rights of people to believe in the religion or faith of their choice as long as their beliefs do not either adversely impact me or put me at risk in any significant way.

Unfortuantely, there are two major problems with religions that, in my estimation, make them unacceptably risky.

First. in order to embrace most religions it is necessary for the believer to suspend “common sense”.  One must accept preposterous assertions as “truth” (e.g. “miracles”, divine inspiration, direction or revelation, supernatural forces, etc.).  For example, in order to be a Christian, one must believe (among other things) that Jesus was born of a virgin, walked on water, and rose from the dead, each of which defies common sense.  For believers, these myths become articles of “faith” which are neither rational nor verifiable and yet are surely false.

The second problem is that there is no objective religious “truth” that can be independently verified.  As a result, one man’s religion is another’s heresy.  This has resulted in enormous strife and conflict throughout recorded history (and probably well before history was recorded).

The obvious danger is that, with common sense suspended and objective truth unverifiable, it is a short leap (of faith) to believe almost anything that some charismatic charlatan espouses. 

As a result, anyone who; 1) wants to make up ridiculous religious assertions (claiming divine revelation) and, 2) can find people who are gullible enough (having suspended common sense) to believe it, can develop a devout following and claim religious justification for their actions no matter how aberrational.  As demonstrated repeatedly throughout history, this can be very dangerous to the well being of both believers and non-believes alike (e.g. Jim Jones, David Koresh, Osama Bin Laden, etc.).

The problem with “moderate” religious believers, is that they have already suspended their common sense and have clearly demonstrated capacity to believe irrational things. 

What assurances do the rest of us have that they will not take the next step?

[ Edited: 07 January 2005 03:36 PM by ]
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Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful…..Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman (3 BC - 65 AD)

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Posted: 07 January 2005 11:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Thanks, CA, that was very well put. 

Further, the charismatic can gather a great mob to him/herself, and a momentum builds.  The election results of November in the USA, (an uprising of the “moderates”) is the result.  Unhappily, that momentum usually includes the accumulation of gobs of money and then the whole goofy enterprise becomes self-justifying and “legitimate”.

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Posted: 07 January 2005 02:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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[quote author=“Conservative Atheist”]it is necessary for the believer suspend “common sense” and there is no objective religious “truth” that can be independently verified. 

The obvious danger is that, with common sense suspended and objective truth unverifiable, it is a short leap (of faith) to believe almost anything that some charismatic charlatan espouses. 

As a result, anyone who; 1) wants to make up ridiculous religious assertions (claiming divine revelation) and, 2) can find people who are gullible enough (having suspended common sense) to believe it, can develop a devout following and claim religious justification for their actions no matter how aberrational.

The problem with “moderate” religious believers, is that they have already suspended their common sense and have clearly demonstrated capacity to believe irrational things. 

I consider myself a moderate believer. (I do not buy dogma)

I am a very common sense type of person.

I am also a skeptic and believe only what is incontrovertible.

And sometimes I even question the incontrovertible.

(Personally I think this is due to the fact that my father convinced me that milk was the color blue when I was very young. To me the color ‘blue’ meant the color of milk.)

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Posted: 10 February 2005 06:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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I agree in general that even “moderate” religious belief is unjustifiable logically and yet there are many who are able to compartmentalize their irrational beliefs and contain them within a greater rational framework in their lives—they pick and choose which parts of their religion are ok, I hope using reason to make those selections.  For the majority of the non-Islamic religions this seems to be the mainstream…most Christians not only reject the lunacies of a David Koresh, but repudiate those who use the faith for anything outside of things that can be rationally justified—-
but for Islam there is no such “moderation.”  and yet both are playing with the same sorts of centuries old rule books…

As Sam points out- these Islamic terrorists are little different from 14th century Xians, and yet the Xians have been mostly tamed by reason….his book really does not explain how that came about…and perhaps a very RATIONAL question would be how can we bring about the moderation of the Islamic faith in the same way….I realize Sam argues for the END of FAITH—and I share that goal—but perhaps that is it too far-fetched to reach for that goal.  WE have EVIDENCE from Xianity that moderation is possible….so when the more attainable moderation has already been achieved in other irrational belief systems maybe we should be studying HOW to whittle away at that rather than trying to take down the whole thing at once.

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Posted: 10 February 2005 09:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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[quote author=“Anonymous”]I agree in general that even “moderate” religious belief is unjustifiable logically and yet there are many who are able to compartmentalize their irrational beliefs and contain them within a greater rational framework in their lives—they pick and choose which parts of their religion are ok, I hope using reason to make those selections.  For the majority of the non-Islamic religions this seems to be the mainstream…most Christians not only reject the lunacies of a David Koresh, but repudiate those who use the faith for anything outside of things that can be rationally justified—-
but for Islam there is no such “moderation.”  and yet both are playing with the same sorts of centuries old rule books…

As Sam points out- these Islamic terrorists are little different from 14th century Xians, and yet the Xians have been mostly tamed by reason….his book really does not explain how that came about…and perhaps a very RATIONAL question would be how can we bring about the moderation of the Islamic faith in the same way.

***
In the Muslim world, religion permeates everything.

By contrast (as Sam says), it is secularism that has ground away at the more fundamentalist beliefs in our society.  IOW, it is incontrovertible that secularism and reason is WHY we aren’t still living in 14th century Xian-land.


...I realize Sam argues for the END of FAITH—and I share that goal—but perhaps that is it too far-fetched to reach for that goal.  WE have EVIDENCE from Xianity that moderation is possible….so when the more attainable moderation has already been achieved in other irrational belief systems maybe we should be studying HOW to whittle away at that rather than trying to take down the whole thing at once.

***
But, fundamentalism is on the rise around the GLOBE.  There is a way to attack this as I’ve started other threads about disseminating exactly WHAT monotheism was based on.  It may take a few millenia but I think we can stem this most recent tide.

JL

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Posted: 10 February 2005 05:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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9/11 spurred right-wing Christians into action.  It was kneejerk reaction that is way too obvious.

Frickin “Left Behind” rapture books—best selling books of all time.

We’re so screwed.

Someone please say something that will keep me from leaving this country!

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Posted: 12 February 2005 11:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Zyglob asks for a reason to stay in the US. In my part of the world, it is a tad embarrassing to hear intelligent American visitors constantly apologising for their country’s activities. In international news media, the term “‘fascist’’ is appearing not infrequently in references to the Bush regime.  So, don’t leave, Zyglob - your country NEEDS YOU!

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Posted: 03 March 2005 12:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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“moderates” who wade knee deep into organized religion are bottom pillars of the larger religious structure. A few innocent aspirations like, “I want to be forgiven” or “I’m afraid of death” may find answers in various religions but those answers are a package deal. Moderates should be held accountable for the actions of the leadership of their selected faith, even if they only ordered ala carte.
Moderates are the Achille’s Heel of organized religion. Making them relize how great a departure they already are from their “faith” is the best way to soften the bottom girders. Still, they will not leave the structure until there is somewhere else for them to go. The secular world in its current form is not enough of a draw. As yet, it can’t forgive them, or calm their fear.

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Posted: 03 March 2005 02:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Zyglob,.........Don’t let the door hit you in the A$$ on the way out of the country…......and, oh, by the way, please don’t bother coming back!

Jasper,.........Please stay wherever you are and please try to convince those “Intelligent American Visitors” to whom you’ve been talking to stay there also!

Thanx for your consideration and permanent absence from the US.

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Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful…..Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman (3 BC - 65 AD)

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Posted: 04 March 2005 12:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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[quote author=“Conservative Atheist”]
First. in order to embrace most religions it is necessary for the believer to suspend “common sense”.  One must accept preposterous assertions as “truth” (e.g. “miracles”, divine inspiration, direction or revelation, supernatural forces, etc.).

Quite true, and predictably dangerous.

Basically this is the domino theory.  Once we are accustomed to magical thinking, we will continue to extend it further and further. 

However, this doesn’t seem to happen.  I’m one of those moderate Christians, and I’m fine with a rigidly compartmentalized subset of irrational beliefs, and a fiercely skeptical worldview outside of it.  I’m not unique, I think this is the pragmatic approach of many.  Logically it can’t hold - but the compartment walls are pretty strong. 

The reverse domino theory has some truth in it also.  You cannot make inroads into even the most absurd fundamentalist beliefs with direct arguments, but with a few years of math and science classes they tend to erode on their own for some people.  (One of the reasons for home schooling, by the way.)

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Posted: 04 March 2005 01:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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[quote author=“Conservative Atheist”]Zyglob,.........Don’t let the door hit you in the A$$ on the way out of the country…......and, oh, by the way, please don’t bother coming back!

I also hate the way the religious right wing has ignorantly twisted this anti-traditional American values “mandate” into action against the Constitution, and particlarly the way they use doublespeak to defend it as precisely the opposite. Would you also suggest I leave the country?

Byron

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Posted: 04 March 2005 02:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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[quote author=“SkepticX”][quote author=“Conservative Atheist”]Zyglob,.........Don’t let the door hit you in the A$$ on the way out of the country…......and, oh, by the way, please don’t bother coming back!

I also hate the way the religious right wing has ignorantly twisted this anti-traditional American values “mandate” into action against the Constitution, and particlarly the way they use doublespeak to defend it as precisely the opposite. Would you also suggest I leave the country?

Byron

You did not offer (threaten?) to leave the country in protest. 

If you did, I would certainly not stand in your way!

BTW, if you really believe that the Constitution has been or is being violated, you have remedies available to you through the courts…......put up or shut up!

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Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful…..Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman (3 BC - 65 AD)

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Posted: 04 March 2005 03:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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[quote author=“Conservative Atheist”] .........put up or shut up!


Or what—are you going to take your ball and run home?

Please, let’s try and act like adults here—eh?

Byron

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“We say, ‘Love your brother…’ We don’t say it really, but… Well we don’t literally say it. We don’t really, literally mean it. No, we don’t believe it either, but… But that message should be clear.”—David St. Hubbins

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Posted: 04 March 2005 03:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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[quote author=“SkepticX”][quote author=“Conservative Atheist”] .........put up or shut up!


Or what—are you going to take your ball and run home?

Please, let’s try and act like adults here—eh?

Byron

I am only tyring to encourage you to do something about your allegations of Constitutional assaults rather than just whining….......like a child.

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Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful…..Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman (3 BC - 65 AD)

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