The Secular Value and Atheist Rejection of Sacred Texts

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by Nom-De-Plume, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. Nom-De-Plume "Give him a mask ... " Registered Member

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    There is a meme spreading across the Atheist, Agnostic and Anti-theist community: a vehement hate for any and all sacred texts, and disregard for any non-religious value they may hold.
    Being Atheist, or even Anti-theist, doesn't mean you need to dismiss or hate the Bible, the Qur'an, or any other holy book completely.

    The Bible -- despite all of the terrible teachings it does hold -- is a text of colossal literary influence. It is the root of many analogies, phrases, and concepts common today. It's an important milestone in Philosophy and human ethics and morals. Its shortcomings are found in its outdated views, but its didactic stories cannot be deemed ignorable, as their impact and longevity are unprecedented.

    The Bible, in its context, was in some aspects an extremely progressive text. Being a multifarious collection of writings, I am careful about making generalisations, but it's fair to say that it did, in fact, challenge many 'bad' views and philosophies of the time. It can be studied in a secular fashion, particularly the New Testament, as a manifesto covering pacifism, plutocracies, political science, dictatorships, imperialism, and much more. Not to say that all, or even some of it is 'relevant' today, but that when in terms of literature history and study, the bible and other sacred texts are not to be overlooked. Forward thinking doesn't mean rejecting the past completely.

    Questions I'd like replies to answer in their posts:​

    1) Do you believe sacred texts should be completely ignored, if one is Atheist?​

    2) Do you believe sacred texts can have secular value?​

    3) Do you believe that sacred texts are only retrogressive, or that historically, they have at times propagated progressive views and messages?​

    Feel free to add any references, ideas, or perspectives that you believe will contribute positively to this thread

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    Edit: I'd appreciate any and all responses to this thread
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013
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  3. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    I don't think atheists in general are doing anything of the kind. I appreciate the Bible for secular reasons, for it's historical context and comedic properties. Philosophically, it can mean anything people want it to mean, it's like an inkblot test.
     
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  5. elte Valued Senior Member

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    It makes a point about the value of honesty and trust to help the unreality of religion fade away.


    There are better writers we could use for wisdom.

    A look at it could be included in a comparative religion course.

    There is so much real stuff out there nowadays that we ought to focus on.

    i do, nevertheless.

    I agree with you that, in some ways, they were progressive for their time. Things are much different now and there is so much more knowledge these days, and the recent knowledge is much more important. Besides, those texts add to strife between cultures like Western and Arab.

    In these times when there is no shortage of information that everyone can access, it is better to let go of that stuff. It's not supportive of honesty for us to look the other way while people spend time trying to make sense out of what we know are largely made-up stories.

    You're welcome. regards
     
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  7. Nom-De-Plume "Give him a mask ... " Registered Member

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    It's very common on Facebook, 4chan, YouTube, generally any site where the community is likely to be largely annoying lol. Thanks for your response!
    (Nice ink blot analogy... I'll have to use that sometime [when you aren't looking

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    This is true. Although, this is really a result of subjective interpretation of sacred texts, as well as figures e.g. Jesus was an American who loved freedom and guns.

    Thanks for your response!
     
  8. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

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    So, poorly educated, intellectually challenged, inadequately motivated, scoially inept atheists are adopting this approach of rejecting ancient texts. I don't think I shall lose any sleep over that. Any well educated, intelligent, curious, socially well-adjusted person will value them as historical, mythical and literary documents. As they should.
     
  9. Balerion Banned Banned

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  10. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

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    Well, again, as discussed in a thread prior to this... atheists aren't all of the ilk to dismiss or hate. There are vocal atheists, who might... and then there are those who don't even think about holy tests all that much, or what they might have to say.
    Religion thrives on forcing an opinion of it. Without confrontation, it wouldn't survive.

    Most people wouldn't bother to think about religion, were they not continually reminded that it exists.

    In the sense of literary influence, yes, completely agreed. Philosophical influence, as well.
    It should be remembered though, contextually, that the bible in its current form wasn't even a book until the Council of Nicaea. It doesn't have a huge impact on this particular discussion, but is worth remembering that the bible is, in effect, a work of man.
    There were more than a few "gospels" deemed not worthy of inclusion.

    Interesting that you emphasise the new testament. the difference between new and old are a particular weakness of the bible as a work.
    It allows a certain personalisation depending on one's own viewpoint.

    That all depends. If you're the kind of atheist who simply rejects religion, then yes, they should be ignored.
    If you're the type of atheist who would prefer to study how mankind has evolved socially, then no, religion cannot ever be ignored.

    Effectively, no. as pure philosophy, the bible is rather primitive and there have been other writings (both based on the bible or otherwise) which have more depth.
    The bible itself serves more as a common reference point for philosophy, rather than a philosophy in itself.

    In light of the above, the latter. As a stepping stone, they have value. As a guide to modern life, they are no longer relevant. In fact, the difference between old and new testaments in the bible can only lead to more confusion, or to one viewpoint using the bible as a reference in direct opposition to another. Most religious texts are much the same, and this is why there are so many splinter groups; too many possible interpretations.
    As we see every day.

    Other than my own?
    Heh.
     
  11. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    For a while, yes.

    The thing is that sooner or later, one desires more than mere opinions; one desires The Absolute Truth.
    At best, people can provide only opinions; this is why mere human input bears the mark of insufficiency, and there is the desire for something more.

    (By this, I am not suggesting that this or that particular religious text is The Absolute Truth, for I do not know which one would qualify for that.)


    Knowledge about what?
     
  12. Nom-De-Plume "Give him a mask ... " Registered Member

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    Well, the problem is that those questioning Christianity (especially when young) come across this attitude, and are convinced to follow suit. Thanks for your response

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    While, by today's standards, some of it is retrogressive, some was progressive for its time. For example, its stance on the separation of Church and State:
    Thanks for your response

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    Thanks for your response

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    Ahh yes, but this would not refer to a secular value, rather a religious one. Thanks for your response

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  13. Balerion Banned Banned

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    First, calling the moral writings of people like Orwell, for instance, mere opinion is to greatly understate what it is he (and others) wrote. Secondly, the flaw in your logic is that if there is such a thing as objective morality and ethics, and this truth can be recognized and understood by man, then there is no reason why man himself cannot intuit it on his own.

    I think what you're seeking is absolute authority. Someone who takes the guesswork out of it for you, absolves you of having to make valuations on the merits of the arguments. But this is the equivalent of wanting Santa to deliver your Christmas presents; yeah, you can believe while you're young and stupid (or old and stupid) and there may even be people willing to maintain the illusion for you, but ultimately you're just lying to yourself.

    Of course, I question the notion that one necessarily desires Absolute Truth. I think most people are content in the subjective nature of their righteousness, or their ignorance. Some surely aren't, but that doesn't mean everyone must share this restlessness.
     
  14. kx000 Valued Senior Member

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    I'm a believer, yea burn em'!

    It gets in the way of natural faith. If your me you read it backwards and its some sort of treasure map, but for anyone else the bible is just a brick. Adam eating from the one forbidden tree when he had god abilities to grow sums up the moral skewered that is the collection of the KJV bible.
     
  15. Balerion Banned Banned

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    Are you sure those who are rejecting it aren't reading it? I mean, the bible's value lays solely in its literary beauty, and that's only certain versions. It can also be a teaching tool regarding mythology, I suppose, but it's not exactly indispensable in that respect. I think the young people who are rejecting it are just rejecting its teachings, not necessarily the beauty of the prose.

    Also, not everyone reads the KJV. The newer translations are more plain-English and devoid of any beautiful passages.

    Frankly, I think it's natural for young atheists to react with anger, just as it is for young theists to react with anger toward atheism. Eventually, of course, those young atheists grow up and realize that the book itself isn't evil, just the crap it teaches, and if it can approached from that perspective then there's probably something worthwhile within. But even if they don't, I'll accept the devaluation of the bible as a source of literature if it means a decrease in the Christian population.

    This makes me wonder if you've actually even read the bloody thing. It's all retrogressive by today's standards. And the bit about rendering unto Caeser has nothing whatsoever to do with the separation of Church and State. The Pharisees were pissed at Jesus for speaking against them, so they tried to trick him into saying something illegal, like telling his disciples not to pay their taxes. But he could tell they were trying to set him up, and he said the only thing he could say without getting arrested, which was "No, dude, give to the government what the government asks for."

    That's not progressive, that's practical. If he had preached that taxes were a sin, he would have probably died in a jail cell. And at any rate, the temples paid taxes. That was nothing new.
     
  16. elte Valued Senior Member

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    It has never been apparent that any writing of anyone has come from God. So we are left with the problem that there isn't a way to know much Absolute Truth. All of our truths tend to be both tentative, subject to change because of better knowledge, and relative to our own existences. I doubt any of the some 10 billion people now and before have found much Absolute Truth except things like 2+2=4, and that shows how unlikely it is for you or me to find it.




    Knowledge about how to live day to day effectively and to the satisfaction of each of us, and about how to continue to do so in the future. Much of what is useful in that process involves basic ethics, like what goes around comes around, and scientific findings.
     
  17. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

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    If you believe, as I suspect is true, that most people have seriously deficient understandings of how the world works and what is important in life, then such a consequence seems almost inevitable and tragically irrelevant. we see self corection at work , in that these same people tend not to vote.

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  18. Nom-De-Plume "Give him a mask ... " Registered Member

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    I can attest to the truth of such a process. Pretty much every Atheist in my friend group has gone through such a change.


    True, but then again, there are some more informed that are ineligible to vote -- such is the tragedy of democracy, "majority rule doesn't work in mental institutions"

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  19. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Attempting to assess probability and thus use that probability as a foundation for making decisions, is a misleading tool.
    Just because something seems rare or improbable doesn't mean it's not worth seeking.
    Finding a new job in this economy is statistically quite improbable; and yet millions of unemployed people continue in their efforts to find a job anyway.


    Live life effectively toward what goal, for what purpose?
    Effectiveness can only be assessed in relation to a goal or purpose.
     
  20. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Not at all.

    As if you, an atheist, aren't interested in "how things really are."
    Of course you are.
     
  21. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    What is that "on his own"?

    >>
    Which they believe to be the Absolute Truth.

    QED.
     
  22. Balerion Banned Banned

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    I don't understand the phrasing of the question.

    What is what on his own?

    Some might, but I don't think most people give it much thought. In fact, I think most people go on knowing that what's right for them isn't always right for others, and get along just fine with that. Hence, being content with the subjective nature of their righteousness. In other words, Absolute Truth doesn't factor in for most people. For them, it's about what they believe is right at the time.
     
  23. elte Valued Senior Member

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    Indeed, and millions more quit looking. Such things involve a cost benefits analysis. After long doing something without satisfactory results, and in the case of looking for God, no sign of even a hint of any positive outcome, a different task might make more sense. Additionally, results can show more and more the opposite of what is sought is what is really the case. Usually even on things that are largely failing, we get some aspects that are truly hopeful, maybe even if only in some tangential way. Looking for God is a task that always gives no inkling of hope, just frustration.



    Satisfaction with, or accomplishment of undertakings in one's life. One goal or purpose may just be to attain satisfaction itself.
     

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