# Should Freedom of Religion include Freedom from Religion?

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Goldtop, Dec 13, 2017.

1. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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In general I agree with your posit.
I would add one important reason to a very powerful false promise made by religions, a glorious everlasting after-life, as if that would be experienced after death by the original person for eternity.

3. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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As for "absence of proof is not proof of absence", I think that's kind of deflection or even a red herring.
I don't pretend to speak for, or even of, all atheists, of course, just the ones with whom I've been in communication.
What the atheists I know disbelieve is not the faint glimmer of possibility that somewhere a creature exists that would seem god-like to us, or that a mighty creative intention is somehow behind the evolution of life, or the birth of the universe itself.
What we disbelieve absolutely is all of the central stories, rules promises of the religions with which are familiar.
Nothing complicated: Just not buying that life-insurance policy.

Ha, same thought, same time.
If a bribe is all it takes for you to abandon your principles, you're simple corruptible. Does that still qualify you as "good people"? Depends how much bad you're willing to do for the bribe, I suppose.

5. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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And that designation would make sense - for someone in the 1700's. It wouldn't make sense today.
When Christ was born, lightning was considered metaphysical. So were eclipses. Now we know they're not really metaphysical.

Today we say "a virtually omniscient and omnipotent being who can hear prayers, blot out the Sun and bring people back to life? Surely that MUST be metaphysical!" Give it 2000 years and see if you still think so.

7. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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Right, so in view of this mass debunking of previously held ideas, should we now assume that the old ones somehow were correct after all?

The problem is that in the past it was assumed God DID exist until we proved that all "miracles" assigned to his power were proven false.
This is a reverse situation where we assume God does NOT exist until evidence to the contrary is presented.

Today we say "a virtually omniscient and omnipotent being who can hear prayers, blot out the Sun and bring people back to life? Surely that MUST be metaphysical!" Give it 2000 years and see if you still think so.[/QUOTE]
Well OK, but then God is not as defined. If we have to rely on our current knowledge I'd rather not make the same mistake as our ancestors in assuming God is an extant supernatural phenomenon who can hear your prayers or blot out the Sun and bring people back to life. Someday we may be able to do so physically. Are we God perhaps? Ain't that a hoot?

I keep an open mind window in case evidence to the contrary is presented. But it has not in the past 3,000 to 70,000 years and I see no reason why the next 2,000 years would prove the earlier incorrect assumptions correct after all, in view that we have debunked 99.9 % of scriptural "spiritual" (metaphysical) "miracles" and "works", because we are finally beginning to understand the true scope of Bohm's "Wholeness and the Implicate order" and the application of purely secular metaphysical concepts such as an inherent Universal Potential. i.e. inherent mathematical rules in the processing of values and functions,
the ability for dynamism and doing work.

It does not require "intent", it requires only mathematical permission or restriction in accordance to the relational interactions between values and functions of matter within this Universe.

Emotional Sentience is not required in running the universe, and as yet there is no evidence that emotional sentience is a required ingredient of reality after intensive searching at all levels of intellect, and philosophy, IMO.

We can always invent esoteric perspectives of the potential expressions (fictional accounts) available to us from study of natural phenomena in spacetime during Human history.

But truth demands mental recognition and consensus understanding as to its nature, not some vague assertion that God IS.

I still like Roger Antonsen's clip on the nature and meaning of patterns. It all works so beautifully that it appears intentionally motivated. But the Art lies in the expressed mathematical patterns themselves.

Roger Antonsen : Math is the Secret to Understanding ; https://www.ted.com/talks/roger_antonsen_math_is_the_hidden_secret_to_understanding_the_world

Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
8. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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Not at all! And if we do discover some entity we consider to be God today, we may no longer think so in 2000 years.
Given how very many iterations of God(s) have been defined, it's pretty safe to say we don't have any one definition we can use.
We might be at some time in the future. Who knows?

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9. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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Religions are usually more coercive than implied by such description - it's not really persuasion when it's focused on children, for example - but more to the point they are coercive whenever not prevented, curbed, limited by force.
Religion does not get credit for having its coercive propensities curbed somewhat by a larger society of reasonable people. One must have freedom from religion to have freedom of it.

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10. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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Brainwashing is done by all communal organizations.
Children are taught to revere the flag, pledge allegiance and believe their country the bestest one there ever wuz, ev-arr!
They're also taught, very early on, to revere \$ and believe, absolutely, that Capitalism is the only way to do life. I mean, you have six-year-olds selling their discarded teeth and bartering with a cartoon character, household chores for toys from the catalogue.
Children are expected to grow out of belief in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus, but not in money-for-work & stuff.
Similarly, they often grow out of belief in a vengeful Jehovah, heaven and hell, but maybe not prayer-for-favours & stuff.

Hence my reference to theocracy. An unregulated national religion means that the coercive power of the state is at the disposal of priests - and the priesthood is never an elected office, never answerable to any but its own internal oligarchy or dictatorship.

No, not credit; simple description of its function.
Don't confuse religion itself with its administrative organization. Look at doctrine separately from its official interpreters.
If you take the [most familiar] New Testament, there isn't much evil in what Jesus is recorded as saying, while there is considerable nastiness in Paul's correspondence, and more has accrued over the centuries, due to popes and bishops and fundamentalist ministers.
The basic religious doctrine says you get rewarded for faith and charity; punished for breaking the rules. But the actual reward and punishment is deferred to somewhere beyond life - it's undemonstrable: the choice to believe or not is all yours.
The state, however, can punish law-breaking, right here and now; to make public examples of the rebellious. It's not open to question, not a matter of faith.

Absolutely.
Plus, there would be a lot less poverty and overcrowding if churches had neither political nor moral power.
Tax the bastards!!*
(*only, for chrissake don't put the revenue to militarizing space. )

Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
11. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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And since religion has been generally the most significant and influential such organization in modern societies - - - - -
Or confuse religion with explicit doctrine, or imagine that the coercive powers of religion (for reward or punishment) are limited to an afterlife.

12. ### spidergoatLiddle' Dick TaterValued Senior Member

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Probably so, but that doesn't absolve the persuaders or the holy books from criticism.

13. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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Then what is so special about God? An evolved being?
Wouldn't that be "natural"?

Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
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14. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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Maybe. But again, what was supernatural 2000 years ago is natural today.

15. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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Who did absolve them?
I've been trying to show that religion is just one of the tools used by those who seek power over other people. It's not unique as a form of control, any more than the manipulators who use it are unique. Spirituality/superstition is just one of the three major routes into the human psyche: the other two are greed/aggression and the need for social belonging/ validation. Priests, politicians and merchants all use those psychological gateways. They all establish reception stations inside people's heads and keep transmitting both overt and subliminal messages to get people to do their bidding. Some institutions have more physical power; some have more persuasive power.

Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
16. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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I don't think so. I think it's just the one most frequently brought up as an example. People who can clearly see the damage done by religious indoctrination (generally of a denomination other than their own, or one they have quit) can at the same time overlook damage done by institutions they still accept, and do not question. Most of us have no idea how much unexamined propaganda we carry around. It's easy to point out the fallacies of a doctrine based on unreal premises - it's the ones firmly founded in half-truths and convenient obscurity that are most insidious and effective.

17. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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I disagree with your POV. Subjectively, humans may have thought it was supernatural, but it never was. That's the whole point.
For any natural event the causality is almost certainly NOT supernatural, because if it was it would be extra dimensional and unable to interact with our dimensional processes.
If it can, it is no longer supernatural.....

Time is such an extra dimension, but then time is not causal but caused and therefore is not a supernatural, but an emergent property of spacetime.

18. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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I agree, but that is no reason to give religions a pass for their half-truths and "divine" obscurity.

Actually, "good intent" is not even sufficient cause for dishonesty of any kind.

19. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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I've never given religious organizations "a pass".
I do not agree that half-truths are in operation in the religious realm: I believe all the scriptures are fiction and I've not used the term 'divine' in any context.
This, I can't accept as an absolute - can think of too many real-life exceptions.
But as regards the lies told by prophets, ayatollahs, charismatic preachers and popes, I don't credit them with good intentions, anyway.
Rank-and-file priests, monastics, etc. are often sincere - even more brainwashed and exploited than their parishioners - but the top brass who invent the lies and turn them into dogma are never innocent, never without ulterior motives. And they never believe in the deity - or they'd not dare to behave the way they do.

Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
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20. ### TiassaLet us not launch the boat ...Staff Member

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See, I don't think you should actually need to say that.

Freedom from religion, in the U.S., is part of freedom of religion. It also applies to atheists. Both ways.

21. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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Nor do I, in the ordinary way, but I did feel a need to respond and clarify my position.
In theory. Ask the vice president how it should go in practice.
What are the two ways?

22. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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Neither side is allowed the establishment of a non-democratic, non-secular government?

23. ### TiassaLet us not launch the boat ...Staff Member

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Well, it's a long story, but we can see the produce of it around here.

If you think back not so far in history, but let's run about twenty years, because part of what I'm discussing in this moment involves the Sciforums experience, we can find, nineteen years ago,or so, discussion that might almost seem petulant, about atheists having better educations, making more money, and in many aspects showing greater material generosity. But it wasn't petulant; it was atheists justifying themselves in ways they shouldn't have to.

But also imagine, please, questions about "conversion"; to what degree does any of this opposition to religion have to do with curing religion, and since we're clearly not talking about doing so through coercive violence ... er ... wait ... are we? Let us presuppose we are not talking about violence as a cure to religion.

Okay, now what?

A lot of the discourse leading up to and during the New Atheist period has been mostly complaint and pretty much nothing for solution. It is easy enough to argue on behalf of freedom from religion, but we also need to remember that the legal status of atheism as de facto religion—i.e., religious position or belief, a rhetorical circumstance for juristic purposes—does not simply guard atheists against religious persecution; it also protects others from bullshit in the name of atheism.

• An extreme version: I tell a story about an atheistic advocate who needed to redefine religion to mean, merely, belief in God, in order to protect other behavior from ever being called religious; it was a personal priority, and cannot at this time be applied as any sort of stereotype.

Yet if we convene a symposium historical, it will be easy enough to agree that we ought to protect the discourse from all that fouled up political religion; in this gathering, we would instead be making formal inquiries into the historical record and arguing philosophy of history. That is to say, no, excluding the exclusionary political evangelical Christianity wouldn't be excluding Christianity, and those working their way through, say, the anthropology of the Great Awakening, or index and concordance of Original Good in the American literary record—both massive undertakings—would not, in excluding two-bit evangelical atheism that has nothing to do with anything beyond a status "without god", be excluding atheists from the discussion of religious history. To the other, if we must start redefining everything at the outset in order to suit atheists, we've pretty much wrecked the discourse just as we would letting Regents University write the agenda. It's kind of like a choice between sitting down with scholars historical from around the country, or maybe putting Kevin Swanson, Mike Huckabee, and Megyn Kelly in a room with Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins; the latter will be entertaining and irrational as hell. The former would seem boring by comparison, but if we know how to rationally attend the resulting discourse, we might learn a lot about religion, society, and humanity.​

It's one thing to redefine for the sake of what the record tells us; it's another to do so for the sake of those who can't be bothered with the record.

For our purposes, we need to remember that atheism does not automatically correlate with rational argumentation, and here is an interesting notion: That story about redefining religion has another vector. It stands out to me that some atheistic evangelists around here seem to think they don't really need to know much about the religions they criticize; but if we simply hold to a constrained definition of religion, then not only can nontheists cult it up as much as they want—just don't call it God—we also find that critics of religion need never actually study the history and anthropology. In that context, without defining religion down like that, atheism has nothing to do with the most part of religious discourse: Rationally speaking, if all atheism has to say is its refusal or absence of God, then it has nothing to say about code, cult, and creed, for instance. Or, as some Sufis say, the rest is the balance of religion; by that aspect, atheism would have nothing to say about religion.