28th March 2008

“Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires.”

Sigmund Freud1856 – 1939

24 Responses to “28th March 2008”

  1. Terence Meaden Says:

    Yes, and because of this it is children above all who are most at risk.

    Religion derives its first strengths from the reality that innocent children are credulous and trusting of adults at the very age when they should be doubting the devious deceiving storytellers. TM

  2. Critic Says:

    Yes, Sigmund – but sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. ;{>}

    Terence, you are exactly right. Childhood indoctrination really is the strength of – and best evidence of the evil of – religion.

    On Sunday mornings when I drive by the houses of ignorance (aka churches) and see all those little children being led in for their weekly dose of intelligence prevention and brain washing, I truly feel sad for them. The saddest thing is that their parents are abusing them but don’t seem to realize the horrible injury they are causing to the individual children and to society as a whole.

  3. Holysmokes Says:

    One should tread carefully when expressing absolutes. It renders the effect of placing the atheist on the same playing field as the believer, especially since neither can be certain without evidence. I for one simply see no reason to believe, however I could be wrong. I see no problem in admitting that or respecting the believer’s point of view. In their minds, they have evidence in the form of ancient writings and that is good enough for them. I do not understand that mind-set so I’ll wait for evidence.

  4. Terence Meaden Says:

    Ah, ‘evidence’. Therein lies the problem, as previously discussed here.

    The non-theists cannot accept as evidence tales from antiquity that were cobbled together by Bronze Age desert dwellers (Abraham, Moses etc) or a likely epileptic camel-caravan leader. And just as bad are the preposterous concoctions of theists (=charlatans) Joseph Smith, Taze Russell and Ron Hubbard.

    Non-theists are not at all on the same playing field. We occupy the intellectual high ground where the scientific disciplines range, and this is the realm that most theists eschew. They may be dumb enough to accept ancient writings–fabricated or exaggerrated though they are–but in modern times they should not force unsupportable non-scientific beliefs on others, least of all children.

    All schools should be secular by order of the state, as they mostly are in France.

  5. Tzuriel Says:

    I agree with Holysmokes. Almost word for word. But I can’t agree with the rest of you.

    Critic: I like debating with you. But it might never end.

    Childhood indoctrination is a great strength of religion. And a great strength of atheism, too. Remember, that whether you are saying God is good, God is great and God is real or saying God’s a worthless belief for syncophantic losers, the child will believe either one. There is nothing about saying there is no God that actively encourages thinking above saying there is one. Children are given the ability to think for themselves, and can break from whatever indoctrination they suffer as children when they reach an age able to think on it seriously and intelligently. But what makes childhood indoctrination evil is not that children are convinced of a particular belief. It’s when children are influenced to do evil things in the name of religion or patriotism or even I told you so. Case in point: child armies in Africa. A great many of these have nothing to do with religion, only greed. Yet here we are arguing about those dirty Christians who tell their children to be good, eat their vegetables and remember Jesus loves them, all while ignoring those who, with no thought of religion or use of it, get kids addicted to drugs, make them into vicious killers with no remorse and ruin the lives of not only the children, but their parents, their siblings, and anyone who comes in front of their gun. This is where childhood indoctrination is evil. But when I reflect on my religious upbringing I see no evil. I was taught to respect all people, to love all people, to do everything I could to help them. Where is the evil there? Though it is true there are those in America who do abuse their children by not letting them experience different viewpoints and test things for themselves, but insist that they must believe what they believe no matter what. I was lucky in that, though my parents are very religious, I was raised in a home where I was allowed to explore opposite veiwpoints and voice concerns I had. Upstairs in my home I can find the works of Nietzche, one of the most vehement and brilliant atheists there ever was. I can find the Qur’an sitting next to the Book of Mormon, sitting next to the Bible, sitting next to the Baghavad-Gita, sitting next to texts on Greek mythology, African mythology, Native American spirit religion, and every thing else I can think of. It is no bad thing to be taught in Sunday school, to listen to your parents express a profound devotion to their religion, as long as this is tempered with reason, consideration, and the right to think and speak freely. In fact, it is one of the best of things.

    TM:
    Schools are secular by order of the state, unless you mean Sunday school. If you do, I cannot but disagree with you, and it isn’t because I’m Catholic or somesuch other (I’m not – I have no religious affiliation or opinion as of right now). A man has a right to believe in what he wants, whether that is that God will save us all or that there is no God. If you eliminate this right, no matter how much you think you’re in the right, you are making a grave folly. This right is what has given you the ability to speak out. The thought process that led you to this might never have started if it hadn’t been for this right. To secularize everything would be a grave mistake, and you might find that it won’t be long before it swings the other way, and you are stripped of your right to speak freely. That right holds things in a careful balance. To take it away would set the pendulum swinging, much as it did with the Protestant Reformation in England, when the monarchy swung between Catholic and Protestant and many needlessly lost their lives. It would be the same way here, except atheists v. Christians. We don’t need blood on our streets.

    Children are very often the victims of some of the worst this world has to offer. However, before I complain about indoctrination I’m going to think about the little girl who was raped by her daddy for the 3rd time today. And that daddy wasn’t a religious man. He was just a sick fuck (sorry for the language). Let’s take care of that, then we can look at indoctrination.

    I’m sorry to get so much disdain coming from your comments. You sound like the priest who thinks he’s got God behind him and so can do whatever he wants and no one can touch him. Except that’s not true, and for you, it’s the “intellectual high ground.” You obviously haven’t read much of Christian philosophy, have you? These are not stupid people. I would love to see how you’d hold up against a man like John Locke, who was very religious. Or a man like C. S. Lewis, who spent a good portion of his life as an atheist. Or a million other men and women who believed in God. By the way, it was these men and women who founded your beloved science. You’d have nothing if it wasn’t for Christians.

    You might also want to think a little bit more about Joseph Smith before you lump him as a lunatic. You might want to think about the fact that Joseph Smith told his followers not to drink alcohol or smoke or chew tobacco or use a myriad of other drugs because of the negative effects it has on your body. You might want to think that he said this in the 1830s, long before people knew just how bad it was. In fact, chewing tobacco was considered healthy. You might want to think about all the other men you’ve disdained as crazies and everything you owe to them. You fight want to think, period.

    You have no high ground. You act like this is a war, like you should be killing people out there. There are just as many stupid atheists as there are stupid Christians (percentage wise). You’re not special because you fight against the status-quo. I’ve lived my whole life ridiculed because I wasn’t the status-quo, and then turned around and ridiculed others who weren’t. It means nothing. It doesn’t make you special. And you might want to consider that science isn’t perfect. In fact, it’s got a lot of problems, not the least of which is denial of everything but itself. Non-scientific. Like that really means anything. What, if it’s not scientific then it’s bad? You want me to list for you the number of things that aren’t scientific? By the way, there are many religious people who are very, very intelligent. My father is a very religious man and a talented lawyer. If there is any man that can punch holes in an argument, it’s him. Heck, forget C.S. Lewis and John Locke, I’d like to see you go against my father. Being religious doesn’t mean your ignorant, it means you’ve chosen to believe in something. You can’t ridicule someone for that, because you don’t understand it. Only when you understand something do you get to put it down. And your way off.

    Again, Holysmokes got it right on. It’s about respecting others beliefs. I respect a man who is atheist. I respect a man who is Christian. I respect a man who is Buddhist. I respect a man who truly believes what he believes and respects others for their beliefs. Not someone who feels that he has the “highground” all to himself. Cause there isn’t any such place.

    Whew. Sorry to fall on you like a meteor there, but this is something I feel strongly about and you got me ranting. Funny how we aren’t even talking about the quote anymore. I’m sorry if anything I said offended (as I’m sure some of it did) and I didn’t mean to insult anybody. But you hit a soft spot in my thought process and I can be pretty vicious when debating an issue I really feel for, especially if I see an opportunity to go for the throat. I totally understand if you wanna attack back, but I doubt I’ll have the energy to go off like that again. Hopefully you can peel off the emotion and get to the internal logic and we can debate that.

  6. Critic Says:

    There is nothing about saying there is no God that actively encourages thinking above saying there is one.

    Yes, there certainly is. Teaching children to believe in whatever god their parents happen to believe in teaches them to believe lies and not think but learn by rote.

    Teaching children that there are all kinds of religion and that none of them can be proven therefore following them is not logical frees them to spend their lives learning about reality instead of demented religiosity.

    Never teach a child to pray, instead teach her to think.

  7. Terence Meaden Says:

    Sorry but being overwhelmed with urgent research work and lecture writing, I have not the time to respond to Tzuriel as I would wish. So I’ll be quick over it although it is hardly worth bothering really because, it seems, that Tzuriel is reacting like James A. Johnson: “Nobody can prove anything to me, if I don’t want ’em to.”

    Mikhail Bakunin’s words are perceptive: “All religions, with their gods, demigods, prophets, messiahs and saints, are the product of the fancy and credulity of men who have not yet reached the full development and complete possession of their intellectual powers.”

    It is, in short, ultimately a matter of reasoning as per Baron D’Holbach: “Every man, who REASONS, soon becomes an unbeliever.”

    Sigmund Freud, astute as usual: “Religion… comprises a system of wishful illusions together with a disavowal of reality, such as we find in an isolated form nowhere else but in amentia, in a state of blissful hallucinatory confusion.”

    Again, what is Religion?
    “The neurology of irrational beliefs is a subject of research under the direction of Professor Susan Greenfield at the University of Oxford. Complete lack of evidence for the contrary clearly shows that religious belief is ALL IN THE MIND (the PROOF IS that beliefs depend on where and when you were born and how you were raised and educated) and that the mind with its power of imagination, is solely a product of the brain, the unconscious repository of learning and the source of emotions and spirituality, our feel-good-feel-bad barometer of the senses.” Graham Newbery.

    Indeed, “Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt. The more stupid the man the heavier his load of faith.” H. L. Mencken

  8. Chris Says:

    Freud is on the money here. I see it in practice with my 8 year old. One of these desires is belonging and she has become aware that her parents are in a small minority of non-believers. She wants to know why they believe X and we don’t. I can tell the idea of God is attractive to her since all her friends believe it and she wants to go along. One even told her she’d go to hell if she didn’t believe too. She doesn’t even know what that is but it made her upset! These are the kids of very mainstream, very moderate folks and that’s the carrot and stick their children are abused with.

    TM is absolutely right that the differences in belief caused by societal context make it pretty damn clear that all of it is just simply, plainly, obviously made up.

  9. Holysmokes Says:

    TM & Tzuriel; I do apologize for sparking a, “debate” between the two of you. I just added this, “Atheist Quote of the Day” to my home page two days ago, consequently I’m new to this line of thinking.

    Although I do agree with you Tzrueil especially on the “higher ground” comments, I have a suggestion for TM. Since you seem convinced that indoctrinating young children in a specific religion is a bad call ….and getting it out of schools is the best answer, why not look at it the other way? Simply put, create a “required” class in every school that mandates the teaching of all popular religions on a basic level and include atheism as well. Lay it all out there and let the kids decide. Let us see where logic takes them. Obviously kids who regularly attend church/Sunday school and the like, will have a predisposed opinion. No doubt many parents will also cry foul and decide to home-school their kids. I only see one very large problem with teaching such a class, (other than getting the government to consider it of course). Where would the country find sufficient quantities of truly impartial teachers to teach it?

  10. Critic Says:

    But when I reflect on my religious upbringing I see no evil.

    You are either dishonest or blind. I’ll let you decide which.

  11. Holysmokes Says:

    Hmmm, I’ll assume that you disagree with my suggestion. unless you care to elaborate on why you feel it necessary to insult me.

  12. Tzuriel Says:

    This is going to take a long time. Critic (your first comment):

    You say there is something about saying there is no god that actively encourages thinking above saying that there is one. Okay, what is it?

    Perhaps you didn’t understand what I was saying. I grew up in a very religious household. Both my parents are very active in their religion and devote much thought and time to it’s practice. Yet, being currently in college, I find myself majoring in english and philosophy, and spending almost as much time in anthropology classes. I say this not to say I’m incredibly smart because of this (cause I’m not) but to say that, despite that I’ve been taught to believe in a God all my life, despite that my family kneels together every night and goes to church every Sunday, here I am, taking classes that are meant specifically to make you think and to challenge your beliefs. Not only that, but I am supported in this by my parents. In fact, before I had even decided on it, when I was in high school, my father encouraged me to go into philosophy, knowing full well that the study of philosophy is not always kind to church-goers. Tell me, then, just how this happens when I have been born into and spent my whole life in what you consider an intellectual low ground, a dead zone for thinking.
    I’ll say it again: There is nothing about believing in God that means that you cannot think, or about raising a child in such belief that excludes critical thought.

    I believe the problem here, though, comes on two fronts. First, you have been given a bad conception of faith in the home. Yes, there are many families that raise their children to believe in God or follow a faith that never allow the child to voice doubts or concerns concerning this faith. This is done politically, too. You look at this and see it is wrong. I agree. I believe it is a great injustice to your child to put them through that kind of upbringing, for then belief and reason become exclusive, which thinking leads to exactly the kind of problem we’re having here. If one thinks about it, one realizes there is nothing about being a believer that makes it impossible to think reasonably and clearly. To prove my case, I present to you almost every great thinker since the beginning of western history. Almost all of them were Christians, even devout Christians. Descartes, a very devout Christian, who, I’ll admit, could let his faith cloud his thinking (or used it to excuse himself from logical conundrums), but also to who we owe the very beginning of enlightenment western philosophy, which, I’ll remind you, led to the separation of everyday life from religion and, therefore, the advent of socially acceptable atheism. Be careful, before you proclaim that religion is evil and excludes thinking, and look to your roots.

    Second, you have been given a bad conception of faith in churches. Yes, there are many churches where the pastor spends his entire career threatening good people with hellfire and trying to scare them into submission. This I disagree with to the very core of my being. What’s the purpose of faith if the only reason one goes to church is to escape damnation? There is none. But there are also many churches where children are raised in hope and happiness. Again, I was raised in such a church. I watched my peers swell with love and hope at the thought of Jesus. I don’t currenlty reserve such hope myself, but I know that religion has had a positive influence on me and helped me to think critically. Many people, looking at this hellhole of a world, need that hope to go on, to keep living and working. They continue to bring children into this world because they are convinced that God will watch over them, and feel that whatever he does, he does in his infinite wisdom. Even if it is delusion (I’m still not convinced it is), why is this bad? Why is giving people hope, a reason to live, bad? I can see no way in which it is. In the churchhouses I visited as a child, we were taught to love our fellow men, to be willing to sacrifice for that which was good, to treat people like people, and do to anything and everything in our power to help others. Even if I live the rest of my days with no believe in God and no hope of life after this, I will hold these lessons close to my heart and continue to live them, always. That is the path to a good society, to a happy people, to real peace and brotherhood. Those who commit great works in the name of religion must be put down, yes, but you approach it from the wrong perspective. It’s like blaming the hammer a serial killer uses to dispatch his victims. It is simply his tool, it didn’t decide to kill these people or delight in the bloodbath. You can’t destroy the hammer for it, even if you kill the killer, too. Religion, like a hammer, can be a tool for building a house, or a destructive force for tearing one down. It all depends on who’s swinging it.

    You also might want to consider that religion is part of reality. Almost everything we have today has been influenced by religion, in both good and bad ways. To learn about religion, particularly as a scholarly study, is very beneficial to oneself.

    Teaching a child not to believe in God can be just as bad, or good, as teaching one to believe in God. You just have to make sure you teach the child to think as well, to challenge what doesn’t make sense, to ask questions freely and expect to get a good answer. Saying, “God doesn’t exist cause I said so,” is just as bad as saying, “God exists cause I said so.”

  13. Tzuriel Says:

    TM:

    It’s fine that you couldn’t respond fully, though, with your being a professor, I gather, I would’ve enjoyed the debate very much. Again, my comments were in many ways offensive, but I explained myself earlier and, though I regret the offensive fashion I said them, I do not take back the meaning behind them.

    Now, to your many quotes. That’s quite the list, many philosophers and the very founder of modern psychology. Very nice, and very well read. Unfortunately, I, unlike others who are obviously much smarter than me, can’t quote much of anything I read, though I always remember the internal meaning, and make a point to reread the works with worthy quotes found therein.

    However, throwing at me a bunch of quotes that all say the same things with different words, will not dissuade me. First, though, I’ll address your comparing me to our good friend James A. Johnson (that was a funny quote, btw). I think you misunderstand. I’ll pick holes in every and any argument I come across. I believe that if man is ever going to find truth, he must do this, no matter what the argument. I’d argue with you if you were Socrates (and lose). That’s part of the reason that I currently have no religious belief. I’ve yet to find one that doesn’t have holes, sometimes flagrant. You should know I consider atheism to be a form of religious belief, if only because it makes things simpler politically so that when it comes to freedom of religion, yours is considered equally with all the others. Part of the reason I subscribed to this quote thing was to see what your arguments were and see if I could pick holes in them. I have. So, your job is to plug them up and pick holes in mine. Then, I do the same. That’s what I’m looking for.

    So, I’m going to focus on the quote I thought the most powerful and effective. You put:

    “Again, what is Religion?
    ‘The neurology of irrational beliefs is a subject of research under the direction of Professor Susan Greenfield at the University of Oxford. Complete lack of evidence for the contrary clearly shows that religious belief is ALL IN THE MIND (the PROOF IS that beliefs depend on where and when you were born and how you were raised and educated) and that the mind with its power of imagination, is solely a product of the brain, the unconscious repository of learning and the source of emotions and spirituality, our feel-good-feel-bad barometer of the senses.’ Graham Newbery.”

    Well said, but there are many problems I see here. First is the approach. Newberry starts off already having labeled religion as the “neurology of irrational beliefs.” This is folly. You don’t approach an argument with the attitude, “I know this is wrong,” because, no matter what, you’ll find a way to make it wrong every time. This is something many Christian thinkers have a problem with. They approach the arguments of another religion or of atheists “knowing” that they’re wrong. So they’ll find one thing that they either don’t understand or can’t accept (and not because of logic) and hold to that through every logical triumph of the other party. And they’ll walk away thinking they won. Every time. So Newberry starts off on the wrong foot here, already setting himself up for a losing battle.

    There isn’t a complete lack of evidence. Your beloved science has many studies that, strangely enough, show that people who pray heal faster, live longer, and are happier than those who don’t. God? Or maybe it’s just because it makes them feel better. Either way, there’s something there that can’t be ignored or brushed aside as an anomaly (perhaps the stupidest thing one can do when it comes to evidence). I’ve met people who “miraculously” did the impossible. Anomaly? It happens far too often. So explain that, scientifically, to me, and I’ll listen. Cause I have yet to here an explanation for people walking who should’nt have even survived, let alone walked.

    Beliefs do not depend wholly on circumstance. Generally, if I am born in Africa, I’ll follow a form of voodoo, or if in Iraq, I’ll be a Muslim, this is true. But there are many who convert to a religion that has no real base in their environment, even sometimes the only members of that religion for miles around. Why would they do this, ridiculed, scorned and reviled by those aroung them (this was what happened to Joseph Smith, btw)? Why, if faith’s just a dreamlike state, if it’s all in our heads? Tell me a real reason why. Speaking of Joseph Smith, have you bothered to look into his history? Or that of Martin Luther? Or Jesus? Or the early Christians? Or Muhammed? Or thousands of others? These peaple suffered in ways many of us can’t even comprehend, lost family members, were exiled from the company of former friends, and died for what they believed in. I’m not going to say this is because it’s true, but no one suffers as they did for something that is so apparently obviously untrue, especially people as smart as Joseph Smith, who knew 5 languages when he died at just over 40, was well read in almost all religious text and quite a bit of philosophical works, and is now considered one of the greatest geniuses to have ever lived. Tell me how it is that all this is just falsehood, that something so obviously important to society and history just isn’t true. It’s like discounting math. Give me a good reason why, cause, despite all my time in philosophy and reading the argument of men like you, I have yet to find one.

    If it’s just some uncouscious bundle in the back of my mind, then how come it has such an effect on my physiology? Tell me how people religious people are so much more likely to overcome things like cancer and other seemingly permanent, fatal diseases than non-religious people? At the very least, it is a product of evolution to keep us going, to make us live as long as possible and continue on in the face of defeat and doubt.

    Which is a good thing.

    btw, doubt is not the measure of a smart person. If it were, I’d be the smartest man ever known, cause I doubt everything. And, in case you haven’t yet figured it out, I’m not the smartest man ever known. Any stupid man can doubt. And, if the doubting, non-religious man is the most civilized, explain to me how atheist nations, like China and Russia, failed to meet the mark. How is it that the mark of a “civilized” man is one that helps his fellow man, as many religions do with charities, is so missing on these nations that seem to have done exactly what you’ve wanted?

  14. Tzuriel Says:

    Chris:

    I am sorry for the way others have mistreated your child. Nobody should be treated like that. Trust me, I know what your child has gone through. Though I grew up in a religious household, we have always been a minority religion. I’ve been treated like dirt often in my life, simply because they believed whatever their pastor threw from the pulpit. These children who act like that are the sad products of an abusive upbringing. But that can happen with atheist children, too. The atheist child who considers all his/her churchgoing peers idiots just because of that is just as guilty as those who proclaim he/she will go to hell. Both children have been mistreated by their parents.

    No, TM isn’t right. Just because there are different religions doesn’t mean they’re all wrong or even that only one of them is right. Both assumptions are wrong and horribly destructive, particularly because they are assumptions taken as truth. It must all, of course, be taken with reason and careful thought, but also with sincerity. If one doesn’t sincerely look for the truth, he will find only lies.

  15. Tzuriel Says:

    Holysmokes:

    You should know I would’ve started the argument anyway. I’m an argumentative person. So, in that case, I should apologize to you for dragging you into. So, sorry.

    However, you’ve got some good stuff to say. I’d would very much like to see such a class. Perhaps the way would be to switch the teachers, so a Buddhist teacher teaches the section on Buddhism, a Catholic on Catholicism, etc. Of course, that would wreak havoc on the schedule, but I think it would be worth it. And those parents that get all worked up over it are exactly the kind of parents who are abusing their kids. Such a class would be extremely beneficial, and would clarify many of the stupid prejudices that have built up among religions.

  16. Tzuriel Says:

    Critic:

    Why are you leaving the decision up to me when you already know everything? Oh, did I even tell you what my religion was? Where my church was? Have you gone and met the people there? Spent a couple Sundays? Talked with the children? Gone to their meetings? Talked with the adults? Gone to their meetings? Did you go seeking to understand where I am coming from or seeking to find flaws and therefore creating some to suit your purposes? Have you come over to my house and talked with my parents, spent a couple weeks, particularly Sundays, over? Have you had a long conversation with me, asking me just what my upbringing was, what happened, how my parents did it? Did you talk to my siblings to see if theirs was different, and how so? Did you pay attention to the kind of lives we appear to be leading, whether we were happy or not, whether we did good things or not? Did you do any of that?

    The answer is no. So, you’re either omniscient or you don’t know what the hell your talking about. I’ll let you decide which.

  17. Hypatia Says:

    Just because there are different religions doesn’t mean they’re all wrong or even that only one of them is right.

    Can you give me an example of a pair of religions that are not mutually incompatible. I think if you ask their followers they would disagree.

    Do you think any of the hundreds of abandoned religions were not wrong? Why are the new ones any better?

    The question of whether God exists may be unanswerable. But to a rational observer it is clear that all religions are human constructs – pure speculation.

    Both assumptions are wrong and horribly destructive

    Freeing human minds from a collective delusion and stultifying dogma is hugely beneficial, rather than destructive.

  18. Critic Says:

    Hey, “Rock of God”:

    My only reply to your whiny rant above is a twist on what Hypatia has to say:

    Chaining human minds to a collective delusion and stultifying dogma is hugely evil rather than beneficial.

    BTW, sorry you had to grow up in the LDS church (is that a good guess?).

  19. Critic Says:

    God’s Rock said:

    Saying, “God doesn’t exist cause I said so,” is just as bad as saying, “God exists cause I said so.”

    I never said that. I said, “There is no evidence that god exists, therefore believing in god is a stupid thing to do.” And, by the same token, indoctrinating young minds in the delusion of religion is an evil thing to do.

    You’ll get no quarter from me with your half-baked attempt to justify your religious upbringing. You’ll only get pity.

  20. Terence Meaden Says:

    When I can, I’ll take up the challenges set out by those supporting theism, but I am overwhelmed with research work right now.

    I’ll just say that when arguing for and against the case for divinity most people including some non-theists do not begin the argument in the most appropriate place. Most start the argument half way through, instead of at the beginning.

    I’ll clarify this enigmatic statement another day.

  21. Tzuriel Says:

    Sorry I haven’t replied in a while, but I went out of commission over the weekend and have been recovering. Basically, arguing with you guys is really fun, but hard work, and I needed a break. That lasted longer than I wanted it to (due to time constraints). So, I’m back, though I might be out on weekends. We’ll see. Not like it really matters anyway. To the arguments:

    Hypatia:

    2 religions that are compatable? How much have you studied religious history? You’ll find that very often, when two religions meet, contrary to popular opinion, one doesn’t wipe out the other. They assimilate. Voodoo and Christianity into a religion practiced by many in South America. Celtic beliefs and Christianity into Irish Catholicism. However, this doens’t prove my point. It’s just an interesting corollary to the argument.

    Many religions are compatible with each other. It’s the people that make things difficult. Also, it depends on your definition of compatible. If you mean two religions that can be “right” at the same time, that’s difficult. If you mean two that can exist at the same time, then your question is already answered. But you mean the first, so I’ll stop babbling and give you an example. Voodoo (African spirit religions) and Native American beliefs (tribal, think midwestern U.S.). Those work very well. However, I must admit, I’m cheating here. I’m using religions that fit specifically to a group of people, without discounting the existence of other groups. Compatible religions get significantly harder when comparing larger, established religions like Christianity and Islam. It is, however, still possible. Consider Christianity and Voodoo. These, taken at two seperate religions with no mixes between the two, are actually surprisingly compatible. Orisha are like saints (for Catholicism) or angels (for general Christianity) and God is the same. It’s really surprising how well religions work together and the many areas they agree.

    Religions are abandoned not because they were wrong, but because the people were wiped out, or, far more likely, the religion was assimilated. For instance, Celtic religion (druids, water gods, etc.) was in reality assimilated into Catholicism. It’s not “dead”, per se, but lives in a new incarnation. This happens very often in history. One tribe beats another tribe, so the beaten tribe thinks, “Dude, they’ve got better gods than us. Let’s take their gods.” So they do, undoubtedly mixing it in with what they had previously. Besides, say some ancient group had the “truth” and they were wiped out and everything they “knew” forgotten. That doesn’t mean it’s not the truth. It’s useless to us, but it isn’t a requirement that we know about it for something to be true.

    It is definitely possible, even likely, that religion is a human construct. But it is also possible that spiritual beings visit people, cause them to found a “religion” and then leave them to their own devices (or stick around) for their own reasons. Just cause we can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Means we can’t do much about or concerning it, but it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Also, “pure speculation” has more often than not had a lot of truth in it. It’s surprising, actually, what science is just beginning to understand that people have known religiously for centuries. The truth is the same, but the method is different. Both methods are valid, however.

    It’s beneficial if it’s true. But you don’t KNOW if it is. The key word in my statement is assumption. Both sides assume they are right, because their parents said they were, or because Bobby saw an angel, or because Timmy went through a logical construct and came out with doubts. The real problem here is when either side tries to force its assumption down the throat of the other. An atheist trying to force Christians to give up their faith is just as in the wrong as a priest who forces people to get baptized.

  22. Tzuriel Says:

    Critic:

    I wish we didn’t have to have this hate between us (lol, that sounded really, really lame, but I still mean it). Yes, the name Tzuriel means Rock of God. I found it in a baby book 3 or 4 years ago, when I was very religious and used it as a screen name. I’ve kept it for two reasons: it’s easy to remember and I like the sound. As you know, I’m currently in no man’s land when it comes to religious feelings, so it doesn’t apply any longer. And, yes, you’ve got me pegged. I was wondering if I should just come out and say it, but you decided for me. I was raised LDS. And I’m grateful I was. Not because I think the LDS church is correct (don’t know about that one) but because it was a minority religion, one that is especially reviled by a great deal of people for no reason. Very religious people. I can emphasize with you. I know what it’s like for people to distort your beliefs and claim you’re something you’re not nor could ever be. I know what it’s like to sit in the minority (I didn’t grow up in Utah). And I actually like it here. Makes you think. I am grateful for what I had, because I, generally, had a happy childhood, with a good family. Many, many people, have suffered in ways I never had to suffer. And that is because I had a good family, which, in many ways, is because that family is LDS. So that explains my Joseph Smith rant, a man that I still respect. He was good to people, he was smart. Though I might not follow his religion anymore, I cannot but help to respect the man, because he was a good man, and a good man is a good man, regardless of their religious persuasion.

    That was very intelligent, Critic. I can almost hear your thought process, “I don’t agree with a word he says so instead of arguing it I’m just going to call it a whiny rant and hope they let me go on that.” Well, Critic, it didn’t work. If you want to prove to me that you’re right, if you want to prove to me that you hold this intellectual high ground, then you’re gonna need to argue against all my best and worst points. And you keep on ignoring my best. I’ve asked you to explain to me your veiwpoints. But you just say I’m whiny and call me God’s Rock (which I’m not). So I guess I’ll just have to live with a semi-smart discussion that never got where it could’ve gone, despite my every attempt to make it get there. That’s too bad.

    I agree that chaining human minds in any way is “hugely” evil. But my point here is one I’ve made over and over again but that which no one seems to respond to. My point is that it is just as possible for an atheist to chain the minds of his/her child to his/her viewpoint as it is for a religious person to do the same. So address that.

  23. Tzuriel Says:

    Critic:

    It wasn’t an attempt. It was the truth. Take it as you like, any man that knows my family and knows how I was raised wishes they could have an upbringing like that. I was very lucky. Too bad I never really learned my lesson. Besides, I can’t control having a religious upbringing. I wouldn’t try to justify it. It’s like trying to justify that I have red hair. Pointless.

    Okay, you said that there’s no evidence for it. My reply is that there’s no evidence against it, either. I’m saying that it’s evil for one to submit a child to a belief about God either way, because either way is just as possible. The child should be allowed to come to their own conclusions. Molding them to what you want is wrong either way.

  24. Tzuriel Says:

    TM:

    Hopefully you’ll make that other day soon. I’m anxious to see where I’ve gone wrong, though I know you and I got off on the wrong foot. Guess that’s life. Though, when you do present this place that we should be starting at, please include an argument why so I can justify it to myself. Otherwise, I look forward to the day.