7th April 2008

“Secular law protects people's right to practise their religion, but it also protects them from aspects of their faith which are unjust and oppressive.”

Joan Smith

7 Responses to “7th April 2008”

  1. Chris Says:

    Like, say polygamy. Girls as young as 11 forced to marry uncles in out-law mormon sects. Good thing it’s against the law. The real genius of religion is that you can bend it to allow just about anything you want whether you’re a boy fondling parish priest (ok, not allowed but certainly forgiven) or a self loathing misogynous mullah with a taste for 10 year olds (Mohammad). The old saw “if there’s no god then anything is allowed” had it wrong. If there’s religion, then anything can be sanctified.

  2. Tzuriel Says:

    The old saw had it wrong regardless. Mainly because a morality system based upon a God is fundamentally flawed, for the reason you cite here. Even if the God is real, this God could like, for instance, eating babies. This obviously causes problems with morality. So, if God exists, he must be beholden to an outside moral system as well.

    I’d like to clarify the Mormon belief. It’s the split off sects that follow the polygamy. It was a part of Mormon religious practices back in the day, but never young girls, and only a select few practised it (all of which didn’t like it, but did what they felt God commanded them to do). Also, very often, the marriage was simply economic. Due to the horrible persecutions the Mormon people suffered in several states, many males had died, leaving behind destitute wives and children. So, church leaders would take these women as wives, and care for them. They didn’t have sex, though, or anything like that, initially (though that could develop if both consented, as well as other wives). However, when the American government said not to do it, after a small period of legal tensions, the Mormon church stopped the practise. The current groups who still practise polygamy are not actually part of the church, and any member found doing polygamy is immediately ex-communicated. Just thought I should clarify.

    However, while I agree with this quote, I disagree with you. Religion certainly does have the problem of authority being used wrongly, but that certainly doesn’t apply just to religion. It also applies to governments. Need I remind you of Nazi Germany? The problem here isn’t that it’s religion, it’s that it’s authority, put in the hands of evil men (or women) who pervent the laws and cause these problems. So the problem here, as I’ve been arguing all along, comes from the people. The religion isn’t the problem, it’s just the vehicle, the tool, the authority. Then the question is, how do you stop the problem, if the problem is people?

  3. Critic Says:

    However, when the American government said not to do it [ploygamy], after a small period of legal tensions, the Mormon church stopped the practise.

    Yea, so they could get Utah admitted as a state. Interesting how a religious principle can be negated when it gets in the way of commerce that benefits the religious leaders.

    The religion isn’t the problem, it’s just the vehicle, the tool, the authority. Then the question is, how do you stop the problem, if the problem is people?

    Don’t be silly. Of course the religion is the problem. The religion is the product of the people. The religious leaders make it what they want it to be to achieve their goals – see the polygamy reference above.

    Religion is evil and it is created by evil people to dominate society in evil ways. Always has been and always will be. It’s the nature of the religious mind.

    The term “Religious Leader” can most easily be defined as:

    Sick fucks who advance their position by promoting ignorance and persecuting others.

    The only sane option for individual freedom and society’s growth is no-religion. Please note that I did not say anti-religion. I said no religion. That means rational thought and actions. And that means a non-theistic society.

  4. Tzuriel Says:

    Actually, this occured after Utah was admitted as a state. To be admitted as a state, there is nothing that requires you to not practice polygamy. Otherwise, Texas would not be a state, as would Utah (due to the FLDS). It’s like demanding there be no crime in an area before you make it a state. Makes no sense. The point is, however, that the Supreme Court couldn’t take the case until Utah was a state. And the Supreme Court took the case. Though I would like to hear your opinion on polygamy, if it is used as a social institution, not as a religious function. Is it wrong, in your opinion, in that aspect?

    Yes, that’s right. Religion is the problem. The way to true utopia is to rid ourselves of dirty, dirty religions. Yeah, right. It’ll solve all humanities problems. You can’t tell me you actually believe that. If you do, I’m afraid you must stop calling yourself rational.

    However, you proved my point. If religion is a creation of man, then it is still simply a tool. It might’ve been created by evil people, but that is like arguing a gun is evil just because someone created it for the purpose of killing. The gun is not evil. The person who makes or uses it is (depending on what their using it for). Even if religion is a social construct, it is still a tool, and therefore can’t be blamed for all mankind’s problems. We’d have the same problems just with different excuses.

    On your religious leader definition: Yes, that’s right, because every single religious leader ever was a great persecutor and promoted ignorance. Except Joseph Smith, who was driven from state to state because of his beliefs, who was tarred and feathered, who lost almost all his children due to persecution, and who also promoted learning and teaching. What a friggin murderer, let me tell you. And early Islam, one of the greatest centers for learning this world has ever known, by which path europeans recovered the works of the greeks and paved the way for the existence of you. And how almost every work concerning ancient society we find in monasteries, preserved while libraries burn. Don’t get me wrong, my friend, religion can be evil, and often is used for that purpose, but the claim that all religious people are evil just because their religious is folly. There is no such thing as all or nothing. Not all psychopaths are serial killers. Not all Christians go to church every sunday. And not all atheists, or non-theists, are intelligent rebels. Yes, religion can be and has been used for evil, but it is not pure evil itself. To argue so is, frankly, stupid. In fact, that argument sounds incredibly like religious thought. Your either for me or against me, Critic?

    Also, as I’ve stated before, rational thought and actions are not impossible in the presense of religion. This is proven by history and by experience. Society can grow with religion, individual freedom can thrive with religion. Just look at history! We’ve had religion since almost the beginning, and we’ve grown throughout all that. Where before the great majority of mankind had no rights, here, in America, everyone has rights. Experience provides proof that these things are not exclusive. It’s only obvious.

  5. Critic Says:

    Tzuriel says:

    Actually, this occured after Utah was admitted as a state. To be admitted as a state, there is nothing that requires you to not practice polygamy.

    There was no way that a state run by a religious cult authority officially condoning polygamy was going to become a state. From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utah

    “During the 1870s and 1880s, laws were passed to punish polygamists, and in the 1890 Manifesto, the LDS Church banned polygamy. When Utah applied for statehood again, it was accepted. One of the conditions for granting Utah statehood was that a ban on polygamy be written into the state constitution. This was a condition required of other western states that were admitted into the Union later. Statehood was officially granted on January 4, 1896. Utah was the last state admitted in the Nineteenth century.”

    Sounds to me like they dumped their religious ideas for statehood. How practical. So, that’s like saying, believe all of our religious edicts until we change our minds. How typically religious of them. As for the practice of polygamy, I am not interested, thanks anyway. The evil of polygamy is to force adolescent girls to marry old men. That is child abuse. No matter what fairy tales you were told about polygamy, that is how it works all over the world – and recent evidence from Utah (and Utahans living in Texas) supports this claim in regard to the Mormon faithful.

    ….but that is like arguing a gun is evil just because someone created it for the purpose of killing.

    Fine. Let’s just make it illegal for children to own guns and be exposed to religious doctrine. No maiming or killing people with guns or religion until you reach the age of 18. Then, with proper education on the history, construction and use of both guns and religion, you may take a test and if you show sufficient knowledge, you may pursue target shooting and religious rites.

    As for your beloved Joseph Smith – there is nothing you can say from your tainted viewpoint that will convince me he was not a total fraud. And, perhaps I misspoke. The miserable deaths of all the “handcart” immigrants who were recruited from Europe and lied to about their chance of survival while walking across the country in the winter should be laid at the feet of Bringham Young, not Joe Smith. Sorry. Wrong religious nutjob. My bad.

    …early Islam, one of the greatest centers for learning this world has ever known.

    Yes, right up to the time that the religious fundamentalists took over Islam and decided that math and science were tools of the devil and there is the end of any possibly enlightened Islamic society. Now look at all the great science coming out of the middle east. This just verifies my thesis that practice of religion is predominantly evil.

    Also, as I’ve stated before, rational thought and actions are not impossible in the presense of religion.

    I agree. Not impossible, just highly improbable. I’m not interested in the possibilities, just the probabilities.

    In my zeal to make my point in my earlier post, I overstated the evil inherent in religion. Religion is inherently evil, but, religious folks, usually exclusively in a secular context, can do good deeds. However, every religious person who has instructed a child in religious dogma, has committed child abuse. That is an absolute that I’m sticking with.

  6. Tzuriel Says:

    Critic:

    On Utah history: Looks like you’ve got me, though I could dispute your source (lol). But that would be useless and I generally trust wikipedia, so I’m not gonna pull something stupid like that on you.

    As for them abandoning religion for practicality, you need to know more concerning Mormon doctrine. It’s a major tenet of the Mormon faith, established before polygamy was introduced, that one is to comply with the laws of the country that one lives in. If the country is going “evil”, like Nazi Germany, then you must comply with the laws as much as you can and still live a moral life. If it comes to the point that complying with the laws means you can’t live a moral life, then it’s revolution time, or time to get yourself out of the country. The point here being that it was part of their belief to comply to the laws of the U.S. government, as that was the land they lived in at that time. So, when the U.S. government laid down the law, they complied, and eliminated polygamy. They did this AFTER the case had gone to the Supreme Court, been debated, and been decided. So your argument still has teeth, but the conundrum they faced was rather like the one faced by a man who must choose between lying or letting a family die. While both are “bad”, you have to choose the lesser of two evils. So they choose to get rid of polygamy (after, if you subscribe to their faith, checking with God).

    On Polygamy: Here you are unequivocably wrong, my friend. In western society, where polygamy is considered a “wrong” thing, the practice all too easily decends into the reasons why. There are, however, examples of polygamy that are nothing like what you are talking about that have been going on for years. In some parts of Africa, it is very possible to have multiple wives. It has nothing to do with religion, it’s a custom that is part of their culture. In this system, the one that I have looked at, if a man wants another wife, he must consult his current wife (or wives). If they agree, he can begin to look for another woman. That woman, after a period of courtship, must, of course, agree to the marriage. The wives are encouraged to treat each other well and to be friends (many are). Also, the man must spend a equal number of nights with each wife, preferably by switching every night. While I think this would be exhausting, to each his own. The woman like it when their husbands get more wives, because then the workload is shared among them. The tension and difficulty that can arise because of this situation is diffused through cultural practices and the fact that this has been going on for hundreds of years. Also, the man must consult the village elders and receive the ok from them after they have determined if he and his current spouse(s) can handle another. The woman, and the man, are all adults. You can’t marry a young girl. How is this wrong? I agree with you that a polygamist society that forces young girls into marriage with old men is wrong, like that found recently in Texas, but that is not what is going on here. And that’s not what was going on with the early Mormons. If you were born into this African culture, with everything else the same, you would not feel it was wrong just because. Even as an atheist. You see what I’m saying? Also, this was no fairy tale. This is the truth. It’s time you stopped deciding that everything associated with religion is “tainted” and took things on their own grounds. Its remarkable how anti-religious you are and yet you continue to use religious terms like “tainted”, “absolute” and even “evil.”

    On the Tool argument: Touche. You argue that well. But it’s still a tool. Take it in the broader definition, including things like hammers, knives, forks, cars, etc. My point here is that the evil is the poeple behind it, not the tool. As the old saw goes, power corrupts. Religion offers people a form of power. Some are corrupted (many, even) but some are not. You can’t say they all are, nor can you remove power just because it corrupts. It’s impossible. By nature, we are really inequal. Some people just have powerful personalities and will create power no matter what. You can limit it, which is the function of secular law over and separate from religious institutions, but you can’t eliminate it. Especially since secular power corrupts just as much as religious power does.

    On Joseph Smith: You really don’t wanna debate this with me, man. I’m telling you right now I know more concerning Mormon history than you most likely ever will, especially the handcarts. So I’m gonna correct you on your history and then I’d prefer it if we left this alone, cause we both know neither of us is gonna sway in this. First, there were 10 groups that went to Utah, and only two of them met disaster. These two left late, due to the bad wood they had received from their contractors (not Mormon) and other delays. They traveled to a certain point, called Winter Quarters. Here, considering their late departure and the fact that winter was still several months off, they held a vote, as to whether they should head out for Utah or stay there for the winter. It was decided, independantly and without any influence from Church leaders, that they would head west. Winter came early that year, suddenly and without warning. Many lost their lives due to this, including one of my ancestors, who sacrificed his life so that his family might live. As far as the Mormon leaders in Salt Lake knew, the last handcart company had arrived earlier in the summer. They had no way of knowing that there were two others out there. Finally, some missionaries (if I remember correctly) returning from their missions found the pioneers, destitute and famished, and hurried ahead to Salt Lake. Help was immediately sent out and the pioneers were brought in to Salt Lake. These people suffered for what they believed in, and not one of them regretted it. Does that make Mormonism true? I don’t know. Are the sacrifices of the religious for their faith something that needs to be considered? Yes. Are all such sacrifices done out of free will? No. Was this? Yes, it was. Don’t tell me that was Brigham Young’s fault, because he had no way of knowing. They chose to come to Salt Lake. They chose to leave Winter Quarters. He had no way of knowing, nothing he could do. If you want, you can say it was God’s fault, but I’d be much obliged if you could leave that to yourself. All that needs be said here is that it wasn’t Brigham Young’s fault, in fact, when he heard what they had gone through, it’s said he wept like a babe. These were good men, and I know it. Was Joseph Smith deluded? I have no idea. But I know he was a good man, not the “sick fuck” you insist he is. Before you tell a man he is evil, you might want to learn a little about him.

    Islam: You missed the point. The point was that it was a huge center for learning, once upon a time, which tells us that religion has often encouraged learning and brought about many discoveries. Stop dancing aroung it and actually engage the question. Also, it might help you to know that the majority of Muslims are nothing like the terrorists we find blowing themselves up. In fact, they hate those terrorists more than you do. Islam is about peace. Another funny thing: you say Islam can’t “evolve” to fit the times, and yet it’s the fastest growing religion in the world, even in the U.S. Seems strange that a religion ill-fitted for “modern” times seems to be getting stronger than any other.

    I was very pleased to read your last two paragraphs. I’m very glad to know I’m not dealing with an absolutist who’s not willing to admit there are shades of gray.

    However, it’s not highly improbable. I’ve given you numerous examples to this effect, and still have an infinite amount of ammunition to throw here. However, I will say that it is highly improbable, perhaps even impossible, in a extremist setting, which brooks no dissent or question. In that setting, you are very right. Otherwise, you are not.

    We’ve already had the child abuse debate. You haven’t responded to my most recent posts there, which is understandable as I came back a little late. If you’d like, we can move that hear. It was an interesting debate.

  7. Critic Says:

    Tzuriel: thanks for the reply.

    Lets move on to current AQOTDs and leave this topic as it is. I’m sure we can rehash some of this in regard to later posts.

    As for Joe Smith and Mormon history, you’re right, I don’t want to debate that with you.

    Cheers.