10th April 2008

“If there is no God, does that mean that life has no purpose? Does it mean that personal existence ends at death? They are thoughts that do my head in. One thing that I can say, however, is that even if I am unable to discover some fundamental purpose to life, this will not give me a reason to return to Christianity. Just because something is unpalatable does not mean that it is not true.”

Jonathan Edwards

26 Responses to “10th April 2008”

  1. Nefari Says:

    Which Jonathan Edwards? Puritan minister? Psychic? Politician?

  2. Chris Says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Edwards_%28athlete%29

  3. Renshia Says:

    It is as amazing to me that people still ask this question, as much as it amazes me people still believe in a god.
    What other possible reason could we have to live , than the one thing we all do.. no matter what.. we learn… that is our purpose.. that is our destiny… what else could it be other than to learn.

    Silly humans… were so busy fulfilling our purpose we don’t even see it.

    This is why religion is so reductive… When you think you have all the answers your brain shuts down.

  4. Terence Meaden Says:

    Answer to the question “which Jonathan Edwards?”

    Everyone should follow the link to triple-jump champion Jonathan Edwards and read his biography.
    Here is the section on his religious beliefs, past and present:
    “He initially refused to compete on Sundays due to his devout Christian beliefs, a decision which cost him a chance to compete in the 1991 World Championships. However in 1993, after much deliberation and discussion with his father (a vicar), he changed his mind, deciding that God gave him his talent in order for him to compete in the 1993 World Championships.
    On 2 February 2007 it was widely reported that Edwards had lost his faith in God despite him once saying “My relationship with Jesus and God is fundamental to everything I do. I have made a commitment and dedication in that relationship to serve God in every area of my life.”
    The Daily Mail described Edwards as a “man deeply troubled by the collapse of his Christian faith” but revealed that a friend said “[Edwards] has a deep, theological comprehension of the Bible, making his spiritual meltdown even more unlikely … They still go to church as a family” The Daily Mail article also quoted Edwards as saying that he is going through a difficult period in his life, one that is deeply personal to him and his family such that he does not wish to comment on.
    Edwards presented episodes of the Christian praise show Songs of Praise until 2007.
    In an interview in The Times on 27 June 2007, Edwards said: “If there is no God, does that mean that life has no purpose? Does it mean that personal existence ends at death? They are thoughts that do my head in. One thing that I can say, however, is that even if I am unable to discover some fundamental purpose to life, this will not give me a reason to return to Christianity. Just because something is unpalatable does not mean that it is not true.” Furthermore, in the interview with the Times he also stated “When you think about it rationally, it does seem incredibly improbable that there is a God.” In the same interview he also said “I feel internally happier than at any time of my life.” Jonathan Edwards confirmed his rejection of Christianity in an interview on BBC Five Live Sportsweek on 29 July 2007

  5. Nefari Says:

    Thanks for the context, folks. Very interesting read.

    Those are some tough knocks. Such radical paradigm changes do not happen without pain. I’m glad he has found peace in his journey.

    Indeed, there is an “internal happiness” when you no longer have to constantly justify your world view in conflict with reality, and stop filtering everything through dogmatic glasses. I found that a mental consonance is gained, which is refreshingly peaceful, once all that baggage is dropped.

  6. Critic Says:

    …even if I am unable to discover some fundamental purpose to life, this will not give me a reason to return to Christianity.

    Why do we (humanity) seem to have this need for an externally imposed purpose to our lives?

    Much of life’s bliss, for me anyway, is knowing that the purpose of my life is what I choose it to be. If god did exist and he had decided a purpose for my life, I would be very pissed at the unwanted interference in my life.

    Luckily, since there is no god, I can live a free and happy life.

  7. Tzuriel Says:

    Renshia:

    I like your thoughts on man’s purpose, but I’m a little confused. What’s the use of learning if it all ends after this life? Why not go and do whatever makes you happy (which some do, indulging in drugs, etc.)? Just a thought on your thoughts.

    Critic: Very existentialist, and a good thought. For once we agree. However, an interesting thought occured to me while reading your comment. What if, assuming there is a God, you and him decided your purpose together? Hmm. I think that’d be interesting.

    Anyway. This is a quote that really applies to me and summarizes the great majority of my thoughts for the last several months and currently. I read his wiki last night, but was unable to comment then, though it gave me much to think on. I have taken an introductory philosophy course, during which time we talked about God, arguments for and against (very fun). However, I remain unconvinced. The argument about evil in the world is one that hardly phases me in light of God’s existence, as the arguments against it are very succint and powerful. So, I guess what I’m asking here, is what particular argument did you all find that clinched it for you, that told you there is no God? Be prepared, I will debate it, but simply because I really do wish to come to the truth, and debate has been the best way that I’ve found so far, in things that can’t be tested (and some that can). So, please, I would love to hear your arguments. Cause, doing my best to think rationally, I’ve had a hard time coming up with arguments against (likely because of my upbringing). So, help me out a little here.

  8. Tzuriel Says:

    Another thought
    Critic: I think humanity looks for an external purpose because man is so obviously fallable. We like the idea that there is something greater than ourselves, something not fallable, that makes our purpose for us, because then we know that our purpose will actually mean something (to others) and be a part of a greater whole. It’s comforting, to think you are being guided by God. Don’t think to harshly on those who rely on this purpose, however. Atheism didn’t become a major movement until science gained a lot of power and influence vs. God. In a sense, science replaces God for atheists because it provides the answers God is supposed to provide otherwise. It provides the opportunity to “know everything” eventually (supposedly) that God earlier provided. So, though to a lesser degree, your purpose is shaped by science much as the Pope’s is shaped by God. Just a different end and a different means. Very interesting, how similar people are. Just thoughts, though. What do you think?

  9. Critic Says:

    Tzuriel said:

    What’s the use of learning if it all ends after this life? Why not go and do whatever makes you happy (which some do, indulging in drugs, etc.)?

    That is the point exactly. Go and do what makes you happy. I think you’ll find that the vast majority of folks will get along just fine in that scenario without the fear of eternal damnation spurring them on. There is no need for an afterlife to give this life meaning. As one Ed Abbey wrote, “One life at a time please.”

    Tzuriel also said:

    What if, assuming there is a God, you and him decided your purpose together?

    I am not able to reply because I am not able to imagine that there is a god…….

    Tzuriel said further:

    In a sense, science replaces God for atheists because it provides the answers God is supposed to provide otherwise.

    I suppose in a vague way that could be argued. However, the natures of knowledge thru science and god thru religion are so vastly different that I have a hard time seeing any equivalencies.

    Science is a method which comes to answers through trial, error, trial, recalculation and more trial and error.

    God is a figment of the imagination (of the more imaginative than I) who is a perfect creator who has a personal interest in every human and who hands out perfect unchanging answers – but only to special people who do special things to placate him/her.

    See the difference?

    and finally Tzuriel said:

    So, though to a lesser degree, your purpose is shaped by science much as the Pope’s is shaped by God.

    No.

    I shape my purpose in life based on my understanding of the world. Then I live my life the best I can as modified by periodic re-evaluations.

    The Pope shapes his god based on the immediate needs of the Vatican’s power structure. Then he imposes edicts on the faithful, claiming the authority of god and using fear of ex-communication and hell to get them to comply.

    I see these two things as inherently different.

  10. Tzuriel Says:

    Critic:

    I’ve finally found why our arguments are so frustrating (for both of us, I believe). I am a very imaginative person, and that is how I think. If I wish to consider a subject, I imagine up a world where that subject is different, or just imagine that subject itself and play with it. For instance, if I wish to consider the nature of God, then I would imagine up a world in which God was capricious, cruel, and liked to watch us suffer. Then I would imagine up other worlds based on other God-natures, etc. That’s how I think. I imagine that scenario. Sounds like you are not that kind of person at all. So, not to discard all that either of us have said to the other, I’m gonna have to say that the reason our arguments are almost never debates is because I insist on imagining different scenarios and you insist that those scenarios are not real, and so not worth considering. I can’t really say which is right. Which means we reach an impasse regardless of our various opinions, just because of the different ways that we think. The telling moment was when you wouldn’t even imagine there was a God. I’m not sure any of our discussions are ever going to go anywhere, cause neither of us can relate to the other, it seems, considering our background and intellectual perspectives. However, I’ll continue the discussion because I think it’s interesting and because I like to talk.

    On happiness: hehe, there’s like a billion philosophical tracts with that name. Anyway, I’m not sure I agree, Critic. While I would agree that the basic “purpose”, if you will, of this life is to be happy, I don’t think the great majority of people are so great at that. People make themselves miserable looking in the wrong places for happiness: drugs, power, money. Maybe what I really mean is that people look for more than happiness, they look for fulfillment. I think people have to realize that there’s more to life than pleasure to reach a real equilibrium, and some never reach that realization. Here I think one can see the usefulness religion plays. Often, religion provides that fulfillment, though, of course, not always. But there are many who are perfectly content with life because they are active in their religious upbringing.

    On the God/science relationship: Well, yes and no. God, by Bible, hasn’t always provided obvious answers. He’s tested us, and, at times, has asked us to test him. However, I will admit the comparison is flawed, mainly in that religious “knowledge” and scientific “knowledge” are two fundamentally different things. My main point was that science, or, if you will, the scientific method, provides the purpose for many atheists that God provides for religionists. That’s the basic thought.

    On the Critic/Pope relationship (lol): Here is something that can’t go on unless you’re willing to imagine with me. First, by throwing out the Pope, I meant any believer, but I just picked one we could identify easier. If it makes things easier, replace him with Joe Believer, an ordinary, good, religious man. Now, the key thing here is this statement from you: “I shape my purpose in life based on my understanding of the world. Then I live my life the best I can as modified by periodic re-evaluations.” This statement, to me, exemplifies the human condition. We all shape our lives based on our understanding of the world, and then, hopefully, live the best we can as “modified by periodic re-evalutations.” See, for you, this is shaped by a world-view that is primarily secular and based on science and reason. For a religious person, it is really the same, just that their understanding of the world includes God in it, and their periodic re-evaluations are processes of looking at their actions and seeing if they line up with the commands given by God/Jesus/Buddha, etc. In reality, it’s all the same. Our world-view and re-evaluations are different (for everybody), but the fundamental structure, the purpose if you will, that we have set up is the same. Your perceptions are different, but the formula you follow is the same. See?

    However, while I really enjoy where we’ve gotten with this, I didn’t get on this particular thread to focus on it. I’d really like it if you addressed my request for arguments against God’s existence. That’s what’s most pertinent to me right now.

  11. epi406 Says:

    It would seem to me that to find purpose in life one could find the purpose just pondering the question is there a purpose to life. Philosophically this debate could go on endlessly.
    I think each must individually ponder the question (or not) according to one’s inclinations as I believe there are as many purposes to life as there are people. An individual quest so to speak.

  12. Tzuriel Says:

    epi406:

    I think you’re probably right. People just like the idea of a grand purpose to “all this”, that all the struggling, death and pain has a higher purpose in some grand plan. In that sense, though, you’d still be right, because each of us would serve an individual “purpose” in that plan. Sometimes I wonder, though, if it all really even matters. But I think almost all my thoughts will change when I have kids. Oh, well.

  13. Critic Says:

    I’d really like it if you addressed my request for arguments against God’s existence.

    Arguing against the existence of god is a waste of time. Believers believe not because there is a good reason to believe, but because they believe that belief in something that can’t be proven is honorable. They get strength from their faith believing what should not be believed.

    Unbelievable!

    Arguing against the smallest possibility that something might be true is an untenable position and one that I am not interested in placing myself in. One cannot conclusively prove that something does not exist. I have no unique or original arguments against the existence of god. I could recommend a book if you are interested – “God, the Failed Hypothesis” by Victor J. Stenger. I am in the middle of this book right now and am enjoying it.

    My position is this: Prove that something exists or stop believing that it exists. I cannot prove that god exists, therefore I believe there is no god. This is a logically and rationally justified and emotionally pleasing position. I am willing to change it if definitive, reproducible, scientifically-defensible proof of the existence of god is provided. Until that time, I will remain in the non-theist camp.

  14. Tzuriel Says:

    Critic:

    I don’t fault you for choosing your position and your reasons for sticking to it. In fact, I ask because I myself am at a position in my life where I must choose which camp I put myself in (or in another entirely) and I’m asking for your help in supplying arguments that I can think on. So thanx for the book. After finals are over, I plan on diving into Harris and Dawkins, as well as the religious texts of most every religion (or discussions of them if possible).

    I do fault you for your position on believers, however. Believers don’t believe because they think it’s honorable, or, at least, the great majority don’t. They believe for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s a desire for a reward. Sometimes it’s nothing more than “my father believed, so I do, too.” The majority of believers, though, I’ve found, believe because it gives them hope, hope for a better world, hope for a greater purpose, and hope for themselves and their families. Is there something wrong with this? I find nothing wrong with this. People need hope, and there’s not much to be found here. With idiotic political leaders taking the stage, threats of tyranny at home, war abroad, child armies, prostitution, etc., etc. there’s not much here to believe in, to give security. That security and hope, the thing that tells them that even though their son died in battle, they’ll see him again, that’s a powerful thing. People go to religion for that.

    Your thoughts on proving something’s existence or non-existence are very true. Can’t fault you there.

  15. Critic Says:

    The majority of believers, though, I’ve found, believe because it gives them hope, hope for a better world, hope for a greater purpose, and hope for themselves and their families. Is there something wrong with this?

    You’ve asked this, and I’ve answered it, in several different ways. You actually ask it three times in your last post. My answer to all previous, present and future inquiries is: Yes, there is something wrong with this. Human nature is capable of so much more than childish petty religions. Hope can come from the beauty and joy in life and nature and music and art. It does not need to be based on false beliefs – e.g., beliefs that cannot be proven to be true. Finding hope in the false promises of religion is a sad state for a thinking human being. I hate to see humanity abuse itself in such a manner.

    …the thing that tells them that even though their son died in battle, they’ll see him again, that’s a powerful thing. People go to religion for that.

    They delude themselves with fairy tales. Great. Well, great for the political/military leaders because then the deluded have less resistance to sending their loved ones off to kill loved ones in another country. This just seems like another explanation of the evil inherent in religion.

    You seem to think that religious belief is OK. I concede that what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes is their business, but exporting their religious perversions to children and society at large is criminal.

    All of the justifications you provide in the above post rely on people being deceived by themselves or their religious authority. I see nothing good about this.

  16. Renshia Says:

    “Why not go and do whatever makes you happy (which some do, indulging in drugs, etc.)?”

    We do…….. learning is not limited to school and a pursuit of purpose.. it is everything.. it is experience. so do that.. do whatever makes you happy.. I live my life based on the fact that I only follow a path with heart.. I do what I want.. I do what makes me happy.. hell I’ve tried drugs… Is is all learning.. We can’t avoid it…. Well most of us can’t.. But it doesn’t change the facts.. were a perceptual species.. this is what we do.. we learn.. everything else is just fluff.

    Tzuriel, You said….

    “I think humanity looks for an external purpose because man is so obviously fallable.”

    This is where religious thinking is so reductive..
    It is not that we are fallible. It is that we are born stupid… we no nothing… We need to learn… learn to walk, learn to talk… learn to assemble reality is such a way as we can to function.
    How can we be fallible when we know nothing and the only way for us to effectively learn is to make mistakes… That is how we learn best.
    I told my son not to touch the stove it was hot.. so when I turned my back he touched it..and then he learned.. does this make him fallible, no it is the way we are.. we learn from experience..

    to condemn us for it is the absolute height of ignorant stupidity.. And yet this is the fundamental principle of religion.. if you make a mistake… if you sin… you will burn in hell… First the religious profess a god created us as we are, then condemns us for being what he created… why would anyone in their right mind believe in that???
    and our only hope is he will forgive his own fuckup…give me a break..

  17. Tzuriel Says:

    Critic:

    Well, I continued to ask because you had never supplied this response before, or at least put it so succintly, in a nutshell that I can analyze.

    It may be false. But it gives hope, and I consider that a good thing. Not everyone can find hope and joy in nature and music, etc. When you’re looking at child armies in Africa, it’s hard to appreciate simple joys, wonderful as they are. They find hope because it gives them purpose. This reminds me of a conversation I had just last night with my father concerning my grandfather. My grandfather is miserable. He’s the kind of man who needs to be doing something, who loves work. He’s been working all his life, but now, in retirement and old age, he has nothing to do. He hates it. He wants to serve those he loves, but physical labor, that which he has done almost his entire life, is beyond him because of his body. He needs a purpose, something to devote his attention to. What if he was called (in Mormonism there is no paid clergy, members volunteer and are “called” to positions like choir director, nursery teacher, etc.) to a religious position in his little church? This would give him his purpose and help him be happy, as he would be serving people. No other organization available to him can do this. This is not a bad thing.

    But, yes, religion can be bad. Political leaders use religion all the time to delude others into following them. But, here, I find that this still isn’t the fault of religion. This has been used secularly as well. People don’t do the research for it, and just ask, “Is he Democrat? Is he conservative?” etc. Christian, or whatever, is just another group. This is because people don’t do the research they need to do, not because they are religious. This is just something people do, religious and non-religious.

    We’ve already had the children debate. Children, raised religiously, have the chance to rethink what they believe and decide if they want to stick with it. I’m a living example of this. It’s criminal when they are denied that chance. That I’m against. As for society, that’s what the whole separation of church and state is for. Here, I agree with you to the bottom of my heart. Church and state must be separated, at all times, no matter what. But I have nothing against church-houses or monuments or missionaries. As a person, you get to choose whether you go into those places, whether you believe what the monuments represent, or whether you listen to the missionaries.

  18. Tzuriel Says:

    Renshia:

    whew, I have a hard time reading your comments…some…times…lol. just playing with you.

    I agree that we learn from experience. But not all experiences are a good thing. If you shoot a man to “learn” what’s it’s like, then, I’m sorry, you’re a murderer. Same with drugs and such. You shouldn’t have to take pot to learn. Even though I agree that man should try and experience as much as possible, there should always be limits, a place where you say, I don’t need to experience that to know it’s a bad idea.

    You misunderstand what I meant by fallible. Yes, man learns by experience, and he should. That’s one of our strengths, the reason we were able to come so far. The thing is, we are often wrong. Man, unlike “God”, is not omniscient. We make mistakes, and it’s one thing to touch a hot stove, but another thing entirely to incite a war and change the course of history. You look for an external purpose cause the one you pick, or the one given by your political organization could be wrong. That’s why they do that.

    Your point on God is very strong. But it can be neutralized. The argument I’ve often heard against that is very simple: God created us fallible because He had to. He wants us to live with Him, but we need bodies for that, because bodies LET US LEARN BY EXPERIENCE. So He sent us to this world to learn by experience. Jesus takes away the mistakes we make by taking on the suffering they cause. Usually, though, sin is very different from touching a hot stove. He knew that we had to learn by experience, but that we would make mistakes and only perfect people could live with Him, so He faced a major quandary. So He solved it by the sacrifice of Jesus, a willing sacrifice, who took our sins and effectively neutralized them. I’m not saying I subscribe to this belief, but that’s the argument against what you’re saying.

  19. Renshia Says:

    “Your point on God is very strong. But it can be neutralized. The argument I’ve often heard against that is very simple: God created us fallible because He had to. He wants us to live with Him, but we need bodies for that, because bodies LET US LEARN BY EXPERIENCE. So He sent us to this world to learn by experience. Jesus takes away the mistakes we make by taking on the suffering they cause. Usually, though, sin is very different from touching a hot stove. He knew that we had to learn by experience, but that we would make mistakes and only perfect people could live with Him, so He faced a major quandary. So He solved it by the sacrifice of Jesus, a willing sacrifice, who took our sins and effectively neutralized them. I’m not saying I subscribe to this belief, but that’s the argument against what you’re saying.”

    I must admit Tzuriel, I find that you being able to seriously be putting this down.. disturbing..
    Let look at this…
    We Have almighty God Creating us in his image…to give us bodies.. so we can reside in heaven with him.. then he creates these rules.. that he knows we cannot follow.. which by his rules condemns us to eternal seperation. He gives us the ability to think and decide on our own.. then lays down all the laws, some so petty that their existence is obviously just an act of polishing said gods ego. Then lays a guilt trip on us telling us that is is because we are so bad he setup his son to be killed for our sake, as atonement for rules he placed in our lives. That by giving us free will, as well as a lack of direct guidance, he knows we will screw up.. and so we now are supposed to appreciate this sacrifice and dedicate our lives to him..
    So in reality it is like some big bully putting our hand on a hot stove and when we pull away, he beats us up for disobeying…

    no matter how you look at it is is stupid… it is his rules… if he cared so damn much.. maybe he should just lay off making all the stupid rules…
    or at least lead by example.. you know like the one where he says thou shalt not kill… so he makes the rules, but by setting up his own son to die.. is guilty of the same things we are punished for…
    Just on principle alone, i do not know how any one could follow such crap…

    All this crap we go through is his fault.. and we are held responsible..
    Do you not see how ludicrous this is.
    surley if there was a god he could not be this demented..

  20. Tzuriel Says:

    Renshia:

    What you’re saying resonates very clearly to me and echoes many of my own thoughts. I’ve often thought that if God were a king, he would’ve been deposed a long time ago. Something of a disturbing thought for one who has been raised religiously, but, as this very quote states, just because something is unpalatable doesn’t mean it’s not true.

    A flaw in your argument, though, for the sake of argument. The people who pose this argument, the Mormons as far as I know, also say that, technically God is not fully omnipotent and that the laws that he is going by here were not set up by him and cannot be changed by him. But then that brings up the big, big religious problem: well, then, who the hell did?

    I brought up the argument to see how you would respond to it.

    But something I should say. I believe that, if God were to exist, the purpose of the rules would be to protect us. For instance, assuming, say, Mormonism is true, then the rule against drinking alcohol would be to protect people from being alcoholics. Now, it’s easy to argue that being a social-drinker won’t make you an alcoholic, but for some it will. For instance, in my family, we have a long and illustrious history of alcoholics. So, were I not raised Mormon, I would probably be an alcoholic. Almost undoubtedly. So, though I find any faith I had in the religion rapidly eroding, I am grateful I was raised in it for that and many other reasons. But that’s all assuming that God’s real, so it doesn’t really matter.

    I like your bully example. Very clear, and very true. But I still don’t think religion is only evil. I believe it has done good in the world, too.

  21. Renshia Says:

    Tzuriel:

    I don’t disagree that some good has been done by the religious. I do believe that many good people have a faith in god.. I think that they have been told there is one and so they have accepted it. Being good people, they do as they are told is right.. and being good people, they do good works. And they give that credit to their religion and their god, as they were taught to do. That is because people are good people. But religion as a whole, the institutions it creates and and its hieratical control over people is reductive to humanities growth.

    Within most religions, there is a coming.. and end of life.. in it’s cryptic statement, as an example lets say, within Christianity. there will come and end time.. Most Christians I know, believe it will be within their time.. especially now. Combined with the teachings of how god gave us domain over all the animals.. and the earth it self, we see a wanton disregard, by this majority religion for the well being of our planet.. Whats to preserve, if god is just going to end it anyways.. and so thinking as a lot of society does that they only have another 50 years or so left, what permanent damage could we do… so with no regard for the future, because there isn’t any, they wantonly destroy all that we have.

    This religious belief that permeates our society, leaves it’s path destruction and despair. There are so many causes to this horrific belief system that all the good is really just a bandaid to give cause to those who are good, so they are to busy to see the source of the problem.
    We are told we are unworthy terrible sinners, selfish, and responsible for the plight of man. Yet this plight is the results of the religious beliefs… It is a vicious circle that is destroying humanity. And it doesn’t matter if it is the mormons or the catholics. Look at the hypocrisy.. The catholics have paid out over 2 billion dollars to sexual abuse victims.. Where in the hell could they get 2 billion dollars. Then look at the mormons with their fine temples…Where does all that money come from? How it is that it is not feeding the poor? What happened to go forth “And he commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse:”
    These are just some of the glaring hypocrisies of religion…
    No I believe there are good people, but Religion is the most destructive force in the history of man.. that is the fruit religion bears.

  22. Tzuriel Says:

    Renshia:

    I’m glad we agree that there are good people in religion. That’s a good common ground.

    A side note. Many of your arguments are against established religion. What about mysticism? What about religion where you just go out and try to find God yourself, not worrying about other people?

    With regards to your environmental argument: Yes, many do act like that. But many also view themselves as stewards of God’s world and so try to protect it, because they believe God will judge them partly based on what they’ve done to his planet. However, that’s irrelevant. Your point is that religion causes this. Here you’re wrong. People cause this. They don’t need religion. Religion can offer a justification, but without religion they’ll just find another one. Rationalization does not require religion. Just people. See, I think people would be doing this to our planet regardless. I remember one time I was arguing about environmental issues back when I was in high school. The other guy was saying it didn’t matter cause it was so far down the road. The absolute carelessness floored. I almost stammered back, but that’ll be your children suffering for that. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Who cares?” He never offered a religious justification for that statement. It was just pure selfishness, undiluted by religious concerns. Selfishness and selflessness both exists outside and inside of religion. They are not dependant on it.

    Yes, religions can be hippocrites. But that’s because they’re made up of people. This is why a utopia, even one without a religious foundation, is impossible. People are the problem. No one can really achieve the standards of perfection outlined in religious belief. They just try. The plight of men is themselves. Men find everything they need in themselves. They find everything they don’t need. They find everything necessary to save themselves and everything necessary to destroy themselves. They don’t need religion for any of those things. We all decide which path to take. Religion can influence our decision, for bad or good, but in the end we decide.

    Earlier you argued religion is bad because it encourages men not to take responsibility for their actions. And yet here you are arguing that religion, not men, is the source of all our problems. Who’s dodging responsibility now?

  23. Tzuriel Says:

    note on the mormons: they are still a great charity in the world. The money comes from the tithes and donations of followers, some rich, some poor, but all giving willingly. the tithing money in mormonism is used primarily to keep it afloat, to pay for the survival of some (most pay for their own) of it’s leaders, and to build temples and meeting houses. Other funds go to the poor, though it should be remarked that tithing is often used to keep organizations designed specifically for helping the poor kept up. There’s no doubt temples and such are expensive, but the religion does a lot of good in the world. I’ll give it some slack.

  24. Renshia Says:

    “Earlier you argued religion is bad because it encourages men not to take responsibility for their actions. And yet here you are arguing that religion, not men, is the source of all our problems. Who’s dodging responsibility now?”

    Yes it is men taught by religion.. they are responsible because they let their following of religion overcome their reason.

  25. Renshia Says:

    “What about mysticism? What about religion where you just go out and try to find God yourself, not worrying about other people?”

    call it what you will, if it is belief based on the existence of a god, or a search for god, it is delusional.
    therefore it is not reasonable and is reductive to humanity.

  26. Tzuriel Says:

    Renshia:

    You ever see I-Robot? Viki’s argument seemed pretty reasonable to me? Do you agree?

    No, it’s not men taught by religion. It’s men! There are plently of avowed atheists in the world who have done bad things! How can you not see it? Yes, religion has done bad things (as well as good things), but that is because of the men involved. They decide to do what’s wrong. Only when a religion has as a part of it’s doctrine a doctrine of hate will I agree that that particular religion is wrong. Look at the doctrine of every major religion. It’ll be enlightening for you.

    Are you suggesting, Renshia, that, due to the fact that you are not religious, you don’t do anything wrong? Surely you realize how absurd that really is.

    Mysticism: So one crazy going out into the woods and there having “ecstatic visions” is reductive to the whole of humanity? You’ll have to explain to me you’re logic. You’ll also need to prove that religion is reductive, using history, science, anthropology, and whatever else you can bring to bear. On that field I will meet you.