religion does NOT poison society

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by Norsefire, Dec 29, 2007.

  1. KennyJC Registered Senior Member

    Care to elaborate?

    In fact Sam Harris author of The End of Faith commented on how when being interviewed by atheists, they loved it when he criticized Christians, but were uneasy when he criticized Islam because of the perceived racist connotations.

    It will tend to be those who are highly religious to be racist. Especially in places like America and the Middle East.
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  3. KennyJC Registered Senior Member

    However in more secular areas of America, they have a better record on racism. A clear indictment of the role religion plays in xenophobia and racism.
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  5. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Hard to say. I'm not aware of any great study. However, I would ask you to consider two stereotypes in the United States. One is, obviously, the greedy Jew. I don't know how many Jewish people served on the boards of what companies. There might be a study out there, but since there are, generally, very few legitimate reasons for such an inquiry, it would be an entertaining question, at least, as to the credibility of such an examination.

    The other stereotype is called "Old Money". This includes, for instance, the Kennedys and Bushes. Just as an example. And while some of these are Catholics, there is an acronym, widely regarded as as pejorative, that describes the others: "WASP", or White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. We also call them—derisively, of course—bluebloods, after King George III.

    And WASPs have money in everything. An old joke about WASPs goes,

    What do you call a WASP with a social conscience?

    A disgrace to the family.​

    Again, as with Jews, the basis for a study examining how many WASPs are in what industries is at least a little problematic. Perhaps there are good numbers out there, but the only reason I can think of to worry about whether the folks on these companies' boards are Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, or whatever, is because someone has made the typical vanilla assertion that religion does not harm society, and atheism is what we really need to fear.

    You and I know well, from listening to people rip on the whole of Islam through this most recent chapter of conflict and strife, that these arguments tend to overlook the socioeconomic factors involved in crime and strife in order to lodge a direct indictment against various identities. But it is true that religion provides a convenient mask for those currents. It is far easier to offend that God is with us and against them than it is to detail a thirty-minute explanation of how the cost of manufacturing shoes and underwear in Asia is related to strife in Africa or the Middle East. Sound bites, as you well know, tend to be more effective mobilizers than rational argument.

    Look, I know certain irrationality about this site can be exceptionally irritating, but I'm pretty damn sure you're smarter than that. Crime has only recently begun its move toward equal-opportunity empowerment. Which is why more women are more frequently prostitutes than gang leaders. Give them something else to do, and they might well do it.

    On a slightly more abstract note, I would encourage you to bear in mind that many of our neighbors around this site have become accustomed to making simplistic arguments specifically because they are responding to religious arguments. That shouldn't be taken as a blanket statement about religious people, but I have to admit that over the years, I've only had a few religious discussions that tested my comprehension. Consider, for instance, the simplicity of the topic post. "Athiests [sic] are usually the people that have no respect for others, they curse, they do drugs......athiests." The best counterargument I can think of would be to hang out with Norsefire, smoke our body weights in marijuana or hashish, and watch hours of cartoons and anime. South Park, Venture Brothers, .hack//Sign, Cowboy Bebop, &c. ad nauseam. Maybe drag him out to a Floater concert, or Pearl Jam, Radiohead ... if only Phish was still touring together.

    I think one of the things that makes religious people so frightened of atheism is that there is often a cynicism about atheists, and to be honest I have a hard time objecting to it. After all, atheists do not come about under the same conditions as religious folks. Atheism emerges in a generally-hostile environment, and despite the best efforts of religious people to extinguish it. Furthermore, the word itself refers to a lack; religious people tend to assume that a common label like atheism means atheists have common beliefs. Hell, I couldn't get our atheists to help themselves and explain the foundations of their moral and ethical structures; they're that determined to maintain a wall of separation between the label of atheism and the truth of who and what they are. And this behavior is, in fact, quite common for those who have existed under extensive and persistent oppression and hostility.

    The paradox, of course, is that in order for religious people to bridge that part of the gap that is their responsibility, they must be willing to view and treat their atheist neighbors as human beings. As a general rule, they don't. And while it is well enough for many to point out that atheists make the same mistake with theists, I always find myself wondering how that notion justifies the conduct of the empowered majority. After all, the idea that the people in charge are somehow oppressed, victimized, or deprived is somewhat absurd.

    Okay, deprived, maybe. But aiding and abetting what oppresses one—like Larry Craig or Richard Curtis, for instance—does not earn a person substantial sympathy from their oppressed fellows in the community.
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  7. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    my argument merely was that little crimes are noticed and punished and crime rates are not reflective of reality. I would say the criminal conviction and incarceration rate in the US reflects racism more than religion. How can it possibly be used as a standard for the assumption that theists are more likely to be criminals? Especially considering that, on this very site, you will find atheists who have not come out to their family or friends?

    Second, I agree that given equal opportunity women are as likely as men to be criminals. So what does their low representation in prison mean? Once again, that prison stats reflect social empowerment, not relgiious bent for crime.

    Third, if atheists are oppressed, it is because, as individuals they fall out of the bulwark of social cohesiveness. Lacking a moral system except that borrowed over the millenia by atheists from theists (morality or right and wrong being a religious construct, not a biological or physical one), they are, by definition, the other.

    Materialism as a social goal has the disadvantage of becoming severely indivdualistic (my house, my car, my ipod, my taxes) and is not something that aspires to or benefits social cohesiveness; as a social system, it has been the quickest way for a society (any society, be it the Carvakas, the Romans, the colonialists) to diminish its own worth and become a thing of the past.

    e.g. Of the atheists that aspire to "secular humanism" on this site do so from the same viewpoint as adopted by all evangelicals ie, that theirs is the only accpetable worldview. The same ones who wish for a more cohesive and peaceful world would begin by attacking the beliefs of others and calling it logical. When the situation is reversed, however, ie their beliefs are scrutinised, the issue is no longer an impersonal one and threats are issued by private messages. When people are so clueless about what constitutes belief and how integral it is to the person who holds them, one cannot but forsee that, like many others before them, they fail to realise the dichotomy between what they say and what they do, and how it represents them to teh world.

    This is the fallacy of atheism and why atheists have no choice except to destroy any society they dominate. Because unlike religion, they are all about only themselves.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2007
  8. Saquist Banned Banned

    And yet you did.

    I agree. But religion has done a lot of damage trying to walk that road of righteousness. The real culprit is ourselves not an idealogy. People kill and abuse their power it would happen even without a cause. People even today think and behave like animals.

    Religion sets standards. Boundaries for life most often. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to it other times it makes perfect sense. To day the Americas and Europe owe their current standards to Jewish or Roman standards. It is a part of civilization, to my knowledge their has been no group of people to be found that did not have such a system of belief.
  9. triplelite Registered Member

    Hmm, any atheist here ever tried becoming christian for a month? Its for research purposes ofcourse, and its the best way to research it by asking the people there and I'm sure they'd be happy to oblige. I mean, that would be the best way to learn more about what their lives are. This is similiar to a scientific experiment, you've gotta look at it from every angle.
  10. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Most atheistic folks in the US have "tried becoming Christian" for the first fifteen years of thier lives, at least.

    Religion is not theism, morality predates religion.

    You have to get it through your head that atheistic religion and areligious morality are completely normal, standard, common features of the world.

    The early Christian church celebrated bees as living examples of Christain morality, SAM. Most social animals have a recognizable morality, standards of right and wrong behavior.

    We might ask why particular religious theists take credit for what has obviously been "borrowed" from others - culture, morality, etc.
    When the Swedes, Danes, French, Japanese, etc, have demonstrated the selfishness and society-destroying effects of being "all about only themselves", compared with the theistically dominated Texans, Argentinians, Rwandans, Sudanese, Egyptians, Israelis, Saudis, etc,

    the argument will carry more weight. Meanwhile, it's ridiculous.
    Keep in mind that the US is the most religious, and within those religions the most theistic, Western industrialized nation. Is it the least selfish? The least racist ?
  11. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    Ah yes, such multicultural societies, doncha think?

    So accepting of diverse societies.
  12. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Atheist dominated, was I believe the criterion. Changing your mind ?
  13. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    Nope. I haven't.

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    Since their values are all based on their own traditional societies.
  14. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    So? These are societies dominated by atheists, and yet not destroyed - in fact, somewhat improved by all appearances. Recall your assertion:
    Theist dominated people's values are all based on their own traditional societies as well, btw. One of the striking properties of the standard theisms is the way they usurp and take credit for human values that go back to the dawn of history.
  15. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Unrealistic expectations

    Much applause, S.A.M. That's hilarious.

    And that. But it does raise a point worth considering. Modern atheism emerges from a world long dominated by greedy monotheists. Pretending that religious belief is not about the self is an exercise in self-deception. Mad bombers believe they go to heaven. Abstinence experts don't care about the fact that their program doesn't work. The inquisitors were doing unto others according to Jesus. Everything about redemptive monotheism leads back to the self; it's the reason for believing.

    Other religions? Well, maybe there is some genuine altruism about them, but once you stop believing in eternal rewards and punishments, religions lose their attractive power.

    Religious systems have, for millennia, asserted the key to life, the Universe, and everything. I find it erroneous at least that we should expect fifty or a hundred years of rising atheism should lead us out of the darkness when nothing else on the scale of the human endeavor works that fast. You might as well demand that atheists be bulletproof and fly around like Superman.

    And perhaps this is their error. Maybe you are in error, and viewing the discussion according to a specific prejudice. I can't say what goes on in your head.

    One of the long jokes I've always wondered about comes from conservatives who complained about "political correctness". While so many were complaining about affirmative action, quotas, and academically-useful words that weren't designed specifically to denigrate, demean, and offend, so also have many conservatives demanded political correctness. But I've never quite figured out how "equality" means one should be superior. In other words, what is persecutory about saying that someone is equal to their neighbor? Well, if you're the overlord, equality is a step down. Therefore, in order to be "fair" to those who enjoy supremacy, the only true equality comes if we leave that supremacy intact. Does this not seem somehow absurd to you?

    Can you not see the difference between denouncing whatever deviates from one's expectations as being pure evil (e.g. "of the Devil") and making the point that certain theological assertions just don't work? You've put yourself in an unenviable position, S.A.M., in which you risk arguing that the perpetuation of human suffering for an egocentric religious cause is right and proper while the struggle to end that suffering is evil. I would ask you to give that some thought.

    Hmph. On the one hand, I have no idea what you're talking about. To the other, though, if we have a standing practice of allowing people to threaten one another via PM, that might explain a certain disagreement I'm having with one of my neighbors who thinks wishing death onto children is a fine way to make a point.

    I recovered from Christianity. So have many of the atheists around here.

    Look, in the modern context, many of these believers were indoctrinated before they ever had a chance to make an independent decision. Does this not speak in some way ill of religion, that people have to sear such ideas into children's psyches that one or another faery-tale becomes integral to who they are?

    Give the world a generation free from these poisonous faery-tales and the recovery can begin. Consider the drug addict in recovery. Before that recovery can occur, the addict must stop using drugs. It is easier to do this if the addict is removed from an environment where drugs are readily available and actively pushed.

    Atheists who exist in religious cultures will adopt certain behavioral standards from the culture. This behavioral reality seems to be what you're complaining about. In order for atheists to start building their own cultural references, the first thing they will need is an environment not poisoned by religion. Even if we started today, that would be fifty to a hundred years out. Add to that forms of trial and error, such as society is known for, and you're looking at something over two hundred years before things will start to even suggest stabilization.

    Our species is addicted to religion. Rather than examining what our religions are for, the majority of humans simply believe because they think they must. That is, they believe because they think it is in their best interest to do so.

    And, frankly, there really are better reasons to believe or not.
  16. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    You're assuming this is a good thing. From the little I have encountered of atheism, I think this would destroy humanity.

    In any case, it is not sustainable, since it overrides what most people in the world find integral to their value for life. In other words, all it means in real terms is more genocide.
  17. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Hope for hope

    Telling, indeed.

    So, at worst, nothing gained?

    Look, S.A.M., "what most people in the world find integral to their value for life" is a set of ideas they were taught to believe at the stake of dire consequences. Blackmail and extortion should never be the bases for an identity politic.

    One of the fallacies of religious evangelism concerns the idea that people would seek gods, anyway. True enough, if left to our own devices, people might imagine some higher power, but no individual would cultivate, say, the Christian myth. Or the Islamic myth. These require the calculation and cooperation of whole communities in order to transmit the ideas from one generation to the next. So while people might certainly invent gods if left to their own, they would not invent the gods most of them are conditioned to accept and worship.

    Think of it this way: if we go with legend, it took over 4,000 years for Hebrew mythology to solidify into what we know as the Old Testament canon. We're looking at 1,800 or so years from Abraham to Christ. Five hundred from Abraham to Moses. Not quite twelve-hundred from Abraham to Deuteronomy.

    And yet, as history shows, the period between the ancient Hebrews and the rise of modern atheism is rife with atrocities. At best, you've merely indicted humanity as a genocidal species, and proposed that since you imagine this true, we ought not bother trying to overcome this part of ourselves. And, of course, I disagree. We are an evolving species, and while I don't believe it I acknowledge the possibility that our moral structures are entirely askew. Perhaps murder and warfare and genocide are simply tools of natural selection. I don't like the idea, and I'm certainly not going to give over to it simply because it's easier.

    What about you? It sounds like your mind is already made up.

    Or should we trade hope for hope? Give up on a better humanity, and just hope God will be merciful and redeem us?
  18. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    I'm not certain what your experience with religion has been. In fact, I find the entire concept of religion as expressed by some (atheists) on this board as alien and extreme. My own experience with religion has always been one of joy, celebration, community ties and happiness. My association with atheism has shown me only that atheists are, without exception, cynical and restless, seeking escapism in their life pursuits. They also appear to have really poor coping mechanisms, whether this is a reflection of the belief or the society, I don't know, but the desire to hit back or punish appears (almost) universal. I have never seen so many educated people who simply cannot fathom the difference between a fact and an opinion.

    Maybe I am mistaken in attributing it to atheism, maybe it is a product of Western society? I don't know. But its not something that looks good for the future, is all I can say.
  19. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member


    If a devil really were to exist then the first thing it would create would be religion. An idea that can convince 2/3rds of the planet population (some 4 billion) that death is really a magical gateway to paradise has to be one of the most evil distrations man has ever designed.

    Anything that can convince so many that fantasy is true is massively unhealthy for the society.

    Religion is a deadly poison that will result in our extinction unless we wake up and fight back.
  20. Enterprise-D I'm back! Warp 8 Mr. Worf! Registered Senior Member

    This is one of the most accurate things you've posted in some time...except undoubtedly you have attributed this sentence to the wrong group of people...
  21. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    I'm guessing you're confused between fact and opinion?

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  22. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Madison Avenue religion?

    Then you're an archetype.

    I'll give it some more thought when I can take that cookie-cutter, straight-from-the-catalog produce more seriously. In the meantime—

    —maybe I'm mistaken, but you seem to be talking about atheism and atheists in both cases. And there seems to be a conflict.
  23. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    Probably the conflict comes from the fact that in reality, people seldom discuss their beliefs.

    After associating with this forum, I have asked some people about theirs. All the people I associate with are, in general at least college educated and I would consider reasonably successful. This is my take on them.

    Its disturbing enough that this is the state of reasonably successful people. Don't you think?

    Perhaps a poll is in order?

    edit: Not a poll, but a quiz?
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2008

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