16th April 2008

“But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?”

John Adams1735 – 1826

24 Responses to “16th April 2008”

  1. Renshia Says:

    Well, because man is sick depraved and evil..Oh and left to our own devices we would annihilate each other. Good this we have religion around to help hold us in abeyance.
    Oh wait a second.. haven’t the majority of wars been fought because of religion…hmmmm oh yeah.. we needed the wars to keep evil people busy.

  2. Terence Meaden Says:

    In short, because of the crass gullibility of much of mankind.

    And the fact that the blighted simpletons infect others with their puerile stories or hallucinations.

    Deep scientific education can overcome credence in these stupidities—and yet it is also possible for a proper application of commonsense to arrive at the same conclusions regarding the daftness of these crazy beliefs.

    There can be nothing so cruel as a religious zealot who is utterly convinced that an imaginary superhuman is on his side.

  3. Terence Meaden Says:

    Even briefer, many people will believe anything that gives them hope of immortality.

  4. Chris Says:

    I have to take issue with the notion that people are evil. Individuals can be evil, which, off the cuff, I think means violating the norms of their particular group. Some evil acts are universal.

    It may be that we tend to believe fantastic nonsense because the tendency conferred some fitness advantage. People group together naturally by shared ideas. This feature of human-ness is sadly all to easy for evil individuals, or the insane, to exploit. So, religion promoted by evil cynics for control, by the mentally ill as delusions and followed by those simply following the human desire to belong. And yes, the desire not to die. Less “evil”, “crass” or “depraved”, I think we’re self-centered and maybe not more so than any other animal but because of our unique abilities, more dangerous.

  5. Tzuriel Says:

    Renshia:

    The majority of wars haven’t been fought because of religion. Just look at history. Even the majority of wars haven’t been fought with the pretext of religion. The crusaders said they fought for God, but anybody, then and now, can look at the crusades and see that they all knew this wasn’t the case. Only recently has there been an upsurge in “religious wars.” We just remember the wars about religion because they’re more dramatic and just easy to remember. They stand out. Also it should always be kept in mind, particularly with this quote, that a religion cannot always be blamed for the acts of its followers. People are screwed up, they do bad things. Religion can’t change that. Saying that someone did something cause they were religious is a serious mistake. We all know there’s so much more to it than that.

    TM:

    Get off your high horse. You’ve got a point, and a brain, but that doesn’t mean that everybody that disagrees with you doesn’t. That attitude is the attitude exemplified by religious nuts, and is the reason they can be so infuriarating to talk to. People have to be willing to give and take to reach a common ground, even a solution. Looking down at those who profess religious belief as “lesser mortals” does not establish that. Yes, some religious people are either crazy or deluded, but many work a lot of good in the world and try their hardest to live a good life and help others. Don’t let your hatred of religion make you hate the religious. Again, that’s a mistake religious nuts make all the time. Don’t be the same thing, just with “Atheism” and “Science” as your almighty hammer instead of the voice of God.

    Chris:

    You’re suggesting a relativist moral viewpoint (if I understand you correctly), which, as I’m sure you know, has many problems. I’ve already stated why I think people go religious. I think it can certainly tie into the desire to be accepted and the desire not to die. But blanketing all religious people like that is a mistake. It’s like blanketing all atheists as social misfits trying to gain attention. Both are, obviously, false. I think it’s much more complicated than that. For some, certainly, it just is a desire to be accepted. But for others, I imagine, they are religious because the organization offered by the religion is the best way to help others.

    Everybody:

    You all need to remember that you don’t have all the answers. Everyone of us must eventually take a leap of faith and come to terms with it. Some will decide to believe in God and follow what they believe his commands are. Others, like you, will decide you don’t have enough evidence, or you don’t like God, or whatever, and will abandon religion. Others will decide they don’t know yet and just try to live the best they can. The point is it’s an individual decision, and the only fault you can apply to someone when they make that decision if whether or not they have considered all the evidence. If they have done so, you cannot attack them for choosing a religious life. Just as for you it feels that, based on what you know and personal feelings, there cannot be a God, for others the lack of evidence goes the other way. It’s a personal choice, one based more on sentiment, for everybody, than anybody would like to admit. So remember that. Just cause you made a particular decision, even a well-informed one, doesn’t mean that you’re right.

  6. Tzuriel Says:

    to what i just said: I also need to remember that, and always try to. It’s important.

  7. Renshia Says:

    Well Tzuriel,
    I beg to differ. I will accept that religion is not responsible for all wars. If you look back into history it would seem that the majority of wars come from a lack of tolerance with those that believe differently. And this is in majority to religious intolerance. This intolerance comes from the mindset created within these religious institutions. But yet again those of you who hold to religious beliefs will once again defend your god and lay the blame upon mankind, never stopping to think that without this teaching of intolerance, these wars would have never come to fruitation. No god is not responsible, how could he be when he doesn’t exist, but the intolerance that is taught by religion within society breeds the hate and discention triggering many conflicts. Religion holds no responsibility for it. It is always better to blame mankind’s shortcomings than to think your perfect religions contribute to these heinous acts.
    However if this plague of religions was purged from the earth, then society would have one less crutch to use as an excuse for its intolerant behavior.
    Without this plague of mental delusion a new world facing reality with reason, instead of hiding behind false dreams would be born. This has to be better than living in mass delusion.

  8. Tzuriel Says:

    Renshia:

    I disagree (as usual). The great majority of conflicts are instigated because of matters of state. There have been religious conflicts, such as 9/11 and Ireland throughout much of the 20th century. But these are not the majority. Many conflicts are instigated with religious pretexts, but the truth is fairly easy to see. Kind of like how it’s common knowledge the U.S. went into Iraq for the oil. However, even without religious pretext, the great majority of conflicts are secular. Just look it up. People want money, power, land, etc. Even the conflict in Ireland has it’s roots in very secular places. Long before the Protestant Reformation, Britain and Ireland hated each other. It goes all the way back to when the Romans took England. And that hatred still exists today. This is not religious, this is not “God”. This is man.

    The dissension plaguing man has it’s root in many things. Yes, religion plays a part, but so does nationalism, ethnicity, history, even differing ideas of what constitutes a good life and reality, and differing philosophical outlooks. All of these things play into it and complicate things. How can it just be religion that’s the source of, for instance, the conflict in Ireland, when you have Protestants and Catholics living in peace right over the ocean in America. Obviously there’s more to it. Also, you’re viewing religion through blinders. Not all religious people nor all religions incite hatred among their members. Not even the most common ones used, like Islam, do. In fact, “Islam” means “peace.” The problem here is that people take the religion and use it to spread their own messages of hate. Again, you can’t blame the tool. It’s people like Osama bin Laden, not Islam, that is the problem. The same messages are spread politically. I mean, it’s so freaking obvious. Surely you see it?

    “Without this plague of mental delusion a new world facing reality with reason, instead of hiding behind false dreams would be born.”
    People have been touting the utopianist horn for years. If only we got rid of…if only we got rid of…Guess what? It doesn’t help! In fact, more often than not, it hurts. By the way, they tried religion already. Just take a look at the French Revolution. Fat lot of good that did in the world.

    It’s true that religion has been used as an excuse. But that’s no longer. As nations continue to develop, this trend continues to fall apart. For instance, when 9/11 happened, the leaders of the world didn’t just throw up their hands and say, “Well, it really sucks, but it is their religion. Guess we should just ignore it.” There is no excuse for intolerant behavior, which doesn’t need religion to justify itself. All it needs is stupid people.

  9. Critic Says:

    Preachy Tzuriel said:
    You all need to remember….

    Thank you so much for your instruction. We simply could not live without it. You wisdom has changed my life.

    …the only fault you can apply to someone when they make that decision if whether or not they have considered all the evidence. If they have done so, you cannot attack them for choosing a religious life.

    Talk about relativism. What a great example you provide for us. So, if I consider all the ramifications and then decide to sexually abuse small children I can’t be faulted because it is an individual decision and I have considered all the evidence? Such bullshit my friend.

    A conscious decision to believe in religion is the absolute worst condition. I can understand being brainwashed as a child then never being able to recover from the abuse, but, to consciously make such a decision as an educated adult? Simply unforgivable.

  10. Tzuriel Says:

    Critic:

    I find the best way to learn is to actually, really listen to what people are trying to say, even if they’re reprimanding me. Especially if they are. Have you ever paused to consider if it’s justified?

    There’s nothing relativist about this view. You’re taking my words out of context and out of place to try and bring down what you know is true. In an earlier post I stated that men should be judged not by their beliefs but by their words and actions. Of course a man that abuses small children must pay for his actions. That goes without saying, and you know I believe that. There’s a difference, a huge difference between making a personal, religious decision, and deciding to abuse small children. Don’t tell me there isn’t, cause that’s the bullshit you hate so much.

    A conscious decision to believe in religion is a chosen state. Is it right or wrong? Neither. It’s simply a decision. What right do you have to claim it is “unforgivable” for a man to decide to believe in something more than what is empirically available? I am stunned by how often you use religious rhetoric, Critic. You talk like a new form of zealot, the man who straps bombs to his chest and blows himself up in a marketplace to prove there is no god and that he has no fear of meeting him after death. Just as when someone does it to prove there is a god, it proves nothing. Intelligent men and women have chosen to believe in a God because they hold what they believe is evidence that you cannot hold. I don’t understand it, you don’t understand it, and I suspect we never will. But they hold a conviction to it and, through that conviction, do a lot of good in the world. I cannot fault them for this. They believe, for whatever reason, and there is nothing wrong with this. They raise their children in that belief, and, when the children are old enough to consider their options and to think about it, the children decide whether to follow that same belief or not. The only evil is when it is attempted to be forced on someone. Same goes for atheism. You made your decision with the evidence you had, and now you hold to your conviction. You raise your children in that conviction, and, when they are old enough, they will consider it as well, and, who knows, one of your kids might become religious. We all choose our path with what knowledge we have. There are standards of right and wrong, but there are many gray areas. This is one of those areas, the realm of personal belief. None of us have all the answers. In the end, it really is up in the air whether or not this or that religion or viewpoint’s right. We could all be wrong. We all make a leap of faith, deciding for ourselves which direction our life is going to go in. This is taking responsibility for one’s life, this is deciding that something is true despite the fact that someone else disagrees. I cannot fault a man who does this, who chooses his religious beliefs carefully and consistently, someone who looks at all the things that that decision will affect, and whether that’s good or not, whatever. A man that makes that decision with the good of himself and the rest of mankind in mind and who acts like that, whatever the decision, that is a good man.

    You can’t hate everything that you don’t agree with, Critic. We all have to live with each other in this world, and spreading a doctrine of hate, religious or non-religious, is evil. You also can’t justify to yourself an argument that hits the core by making up stupid crap to try and rationalize your actions, by taking things out of context and arguing against what you know I’m not saying. I’ve never said that atheism is wrong here. I’ve never said that being religious is right. I’ve made several concessions when you’ve defeated me in a particular argument. You can do the same. If you actually have a reply to my argument, then give a real reply. Not crap that you know doesn’t apply. If your pride won’t let you admit you lost, then that’s fine, too. Just don’t reply.

  11. Critic Says:

    If you actually have a reply to my argument, then give a real reply. Not crap that you know doesn’t apply. If your pride won’t let you admit you lost, then that’s fine, too. Just don’t reply.

    Oh, my my. Sorry to have gotten you all riled up.

    You’ve certainly won. I lost. I am evil. I am a suicide bomber. Happy now?

    BTW, believing in the non-existent is not a noble act as you present it in the above tirade – it is folly.

    Oops, there I go being nasty again…..I’m really gonna get it this time.

  12. Terence Meaden Says:

    Those who take “leaps of faith” in a fantasy world, Mr. Tzuriel, care nothing for the demands of evidence that are required in the real world by practising lawyers, judges and scientists.

    “One might ask “How can you prove that a god does not exist?”
    One can only reply that it is scarcely necessary to disprove what has never been proved.” David A. Spitz

  13. Tzuriel Says:

    Critic:

    Not much of a listener, are you? If you would, I’d be much obliged if you’d reread what I read, really listening to what I am trying to say, instead of automatically assuming that what I’m saying will be wrong. Consider it. Admitting that religion has positive influences does not make you wrong. In fact, it makes it so you at least look like you’re willing to consider all the evidence, instead of ignoring that which doesn’t agree with your sentiments.

    I didn’t present believing in the non-existent as a noble act. Again, you didn’t read it. I said holding to one’s convictions was a noble act. That includes the conviction that there is no God. As long as that conviction has been reached intelligently, and with a kind heart, then the following of that conviction is a good thing, religious or non-religious.

    I’m here is a search for truth. I find truth by picking holes in EVERYTHING. Why are you here?

  14. Tzuriel Says:

    TM:

    hehe, Mr. Tzuriel. That sounds really funny.

    Well, Mr. Meaden, you misunderstand. Everybody, including you, must take a leap of faith. When you decided to be atheist, I understand, you based your decision on the evidence you had, which, by your understanding, told you there is no God. However, you must acknowledge that you don’t have all the evidence, and that your understanding isn’t perfect. You did the best with what you have. Other people have a different set of evidence, and, with that different set, come to a different conclusion. This only makes sense. When I say leap of faith, I don’t mean ignore everything that disagrees with where you’re leaping and live your life accordingly. I mean understand that you don’t know everything, but go from what you do know to what you believe is the truth. Until we have evidence that God does or does not exist, we all have to take it on a kind of faith, based on what we do “know.” This is the truth. To use myself as an example, though I’m going to investigate this as much as I can (which is why I’m here), in the end I have to decide on evidence that is by nature shaky and not conclusive. If I decide to be religious, if I decide to be non-religious, either way I’m making a decision that is uncertain and will influence my life for the rest of it. There’s no way around this.

    That’s what I’m trying to say.

  15. Tzuriel Says:

    Oh, I meant to address what Mr. Spitz said.

    Well, he’s right. But the fact that neither proof can be given says that it isn’t certain. You might argue that inductively you’re correct, though that’s not necessarily the case, but, deductively, there is no conclusive argument. This, again, means it’s up in the air. This, again, means that when we decide what we’re going to believe, we are ALL taking a leap of faith. Or call it an uncertain decision, if the religious terminology bothers you. I just use it cause it’s more poetic.

  16. Critic Says:

    Tzuriel wrote:

    Until we have evidence that God does or does not exist, we all have to take it on a kind of faith, based on what we do “know.” This is the truth.

    No, what you write is not truth. It is bullshit.

    One does not establish beliefs based on the first assumption that everything that could be imagined could actually exist – then use some incorrect notion of “faith” to trim out those things that one decides not to believe. Such a silly idea – but, in fairness, I know how you come to the idea (from a religious upbringing) so I will not blame you. Rather I will blame your abusers.

    One establishes beliefs based on the likelihood of truth based on evidence. There is no evidence that god exists. Therefore, one should not believe in god. It really is very simple – unlike the complex and twisted logic that your childhood abusers ingrained in your head in an attempt to lobotomize you through religious instruction. I’m glad they at least partially failed – although the tone of your posts indicates that you really are a religious person. Which I am sorry about.

  17. Tzuriel Says:

    Critic:

    I’m not religious. But I do sympathize with the religious, and I do believe there are “spiritual” things (for lack of a better word) that we currently don’t understand, though I also believe that, given time, we will understand the “supernatural.” Call that what you like – it is the state of my thoughts at this time (though they’re constantly changing, so you never know).

    Personal stuff aside, you again misunderstood what I’m saying. I suggest you read what I said about Mr. Spitz quote. For every argument for God, there is a counter argument against. For every argument against God, there is a counter argument for. It goes on and on. In the end, with a decision of this nature being much more life altering than say, deciding to believe in Plato’s forms, the decision, in this culture at least, must be made on some level. There is no evidence for God’s existence that has not been countered by evidence against, and vice versa. So, until evidence is CONCLUSIVE either way, we are making a decision that we don’t *know* is right – we’re just taking what we do “know” and going from there. So, in the end, we have to take some things on a kind of faith, whether you decide to believe in God or not. It is not the “One True Way” that everyone believe in God or not believe in God. This I am certain about, until, at least, we do have conclusive evidence. And that’s what I mean.

    When it all comes down to it, we are forced to admit that we really don’t know it all, and possibly won’t ever.

  18. Tzuriel Says:

    Oh, a note in defence of my “abusers.”

    My parents raised me the best way they knew how. And, though I probably won’t be religious in my methods, I will raise my children in much the same fashion they have raised us, because it’s worked. We all have our flaws, but people marvel and how well we get along as a family, at how much we really do love each other. My parents raised me with that love and with an emphasis on doing things the smart way. In fact, my dad and I were having a conversation with another gentleman just yesterday, where we were talking about how religion can be dangerous because people can tend to become sheep in a religion and not investigate things for themselves. We talked about how this was a problem in my dad’s own religion (Mormonism) politically (he’s a democrat), and also how this was plainly evident in Islam with the susceptability of young men to evil people like bin Laden. My dad, all throughout the conversation emphasized that people need to be willing to think for themselves and to consider things carefully. Though religiously, this is how I was raised. I have seen many non-religious and even atheist families that did not carry this emphasis of love and reason. Is my dad wrong in his belief? I don’t know. But I know his values are right, and he has taught me the best he can. My parents have both done everything they can for me.

    So lay off. I haven’t insulted your parents.

  19. Critic Says:

    …until evidence is CONCLUSIVE either way, we are making a decision that we don’t *know* is right…

    You are equating the following as equally valid conditions:

    1) Belief, with no evidence what so ever, in a supernatural being that created the universe and meddles in the lives of human beings;

    2) Not believing in whimsical ideas that cannot be proven.

    They are not equal.

    One is a logical and intelligent way to approach the universe (to be clear, that would be #2). The other is the mentality of a childish innocent (yes, that would be #1).

    How can you think these two choices are equally valid?

  20. Critic Says:

    So lay off. I haven’t insulted your parents.

    Fair enough.

  21. Tzuriel Says:

    Critic:

    Thank you for the parents thing. I’ll now go on to insult your parents. No, just jk.

    Okay, let’s look at what you said, cause you did it very well. But you misunderstand. With #1, with both options, I meant after someone had carefully looked at it. In the end, there’s no real proof for either option, so one has to make a decision based on what they know. For some people, there is evidence in #1, mind. It ranges from having seen angels to having a burning feeling in your heart in religious moments. For others, there is none. To clarify, this is how I would put it:

    1) Belief, with a different than scientific kind of evidence, of a supernatural being that created the Earth, etc., after having thought carefully about that belief and considering dissenting views.

    2) Believing that such a conception is not possible, considering the lack of scientific evidence, again after having thought carefully about that belief and considering dissenting views.

    In both cases you consider the most intelligent argument and consider it carefully as unbiased as possible. Both, based on what the individual knows or has experienced, are and can be equally valid. Your life would be very different if you had had some sort of “religious” experience. You can’t use your life experience as the only way of knowing the world, because it’s not the only life experience. There’s obviously more. You have to give them weight, too.

  22. Critic Says:

    Thank you for the parents thing. I’ll now go on to insult your parents. No, just jk.

    Feel free to do so any time. You opinion of my parents does not bother me no matter what it might be.

    As for my parents, I’m off this afternoon to visit them for a week or so. I accept that their abuse of me through forced religious education was unintentional in that they did it out of concern for my welfare, but I also accept that it was abuse. And, I have talked to them about it and received apologies from them so we have a good relationship. However, I still condemn their actions and the actions of any parent who would do the same to an innocent child.

  23. Tzuriel Says:

    Well, I’m glad things are working for you. That gives hope to those of us struggling with, if we leave religion, how we’re going to break it to our parents. However, I still don’t think it’s abuse. Some parents probably have in a way abused their children along this fashion, but mine haven’t. It’s their encouragement to educate myself that has led me to this.

    In light of this comment, I take back what I said about you having never been religious. However, I still believe there are certain qualities you just won’t understand, perhaps due to your personality. Or I’m deceiving myself. I’m sure you prefer the second.

  24. Critic Says:

    I still believe there are certain qualities you just won’t understand, perhaps due to your personality. Or I’m deceiving myself. I’m sure you prefer the second.

    Yup.