Theists, motivation for aggression, non-theists and trust in matters of "God"

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by wynn, Oct 31, 2012.

  1. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Can we finally get this settled, please:

    This is from another thread -

    I'm going sum up here the questions I've asked other people who are religious themselves, or not, but who believe that wars and other forms of violence are always non-religious, and instead are caused by greed, selfishness and ignorance or other human characteristics that are not specifically religious:

    There are metaphysical concerns to be addressed when it comes to people who claim to be religious/theists and who perform acts that are generally considered morally reprehensible.
    If all people would be equal before God and would have an equal chance of getting to know the truth about God, then, yes, we could easily dismiss all kinds of aggression, whether done by theists or not, as materially motivated and be done with it.

    But given that all people certainly do not seem to be equal before God, nor have an equal chance to get to know the truth about God, there is more to look into here.

    We ordinary people, who are not theists, are supposed to rely on theists (and their scriptures) for all input on the topic of "God".
    But when these theists do things that are generally considered morally reprehensible, it becomes more and more difficult to trust them. And so we are cut off from God!
    We end up in the predicament of "Trust the bastards, or burn in hell!"
    I really don't think this is fair.

    It is the relevance of theists (ie. them being effectively the only source of all input on the topic of "God") that makes all their behavior so relevant, putting everything they do into the spotlight:

    If it is not religion that is driving theists into aggressiveness, then why are they aggressive?

    If it is religion that is driving theists into aggressiveness, then how are we supposed to trust them?

    If it is religion that is driving theists into aggressiveness, and we cannot trust them, we end up damned - how is that fair?

    If they are driven into aggressiveness by greed, anger and delusion - then how can they be veritable sources of information about God?

    If we are to focus on the fact that only some theists are aggressive, or that theists are aggressive only some of the time - how can they nevertheless claim to be theists?

    If we are to focus on the fact that only some theists are aggressive, or that theists are aggressive only some of the time - how can we know which theists or when to trust them in terms of input on God and when not?
    How can we be sure that when a theist is threatening to kill us in the name of God, this is a time when he isn't to be trusted on what he says about God?
    Or, in more everyday terms, how can we be sure that when a theist is psychologically manipulating us in the name of God, this is a time when he isn't to be trusted on what he says about God?
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  3. Balerion Banned Banned

    So in order to even have this conversation, one must accept that God is:

    1) Real

    2) Most likely the God of Abraham

    3) Only knowable through other human beings

    In my view, this disqualifies your thread from being a genuine intellectual discussion, and relegates it to a theological pity-party. You can't feel God's presence, therefore it must only be available through religious practice, but since you can't stand most religious people, you feel cut off from the source.

    At some point, even just out of self-respect, don't you want to say enough is enough? Your entire being seems to rely on the ability to connect to an imaginary being. Just accept that you're an atheist and be done with it.
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  5. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Why this need to rely on believers for information about something you claim not to believe in? Should we also rely on astrologers to inform us about the influences of the stars. No, not if you don't believe in astrology. Nontheists have no desire to learn about a God they don't believe exists. It's that simple.
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  7. elte Valued Senior Member

    I was thinking a bit on such things earlier. The main religious texts are made up by man.

    Ironically, a loose paraphrase I heard from a preacher might fit your thread a bit, at least. Having wrong information about something doesn't change its reality, and that includes whether it exists or not. Funny that what the preacher said many years ago can work against religion.

    Maybe there should be a saying - live like an atheist, hope like an agnostic. It's not much, but might be the best of the options.
  8. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    "Aggression, in its broadest sense, is behavior, or a disposition, that is forceful, hostile or attacking. It may occur either in retaliation or without provocation. In narrower definitions that are used in social sciences and behavioral sciences, aggression is an intention to cause harm or an act intended to increase relative social dominance." -wiki(aggression)​

    It should be noted that we find the large majority of large scale aggression, religiously justified or not, from groups seeking to gain, maintain, or increase social, political, or military dominance. This explains why some very hostile ideologies never become any more than a local threat (KKK, anti-government militias, etc.). Hostility usually requires a certain mass to gain the confidence and capacity to execute serious aggression.

    Hear, hear.
  9. AaronB Registered Member

    I grew up in a Christian religious environment. What I am convinced of is that most who believe in any religion are not intentionally trying to manipulate anyone. They are using the same logical faculties we all have available to us, and considering the evidence presented to them decide that the religion presented to them is truth. Having lived most of my life being a Christian who swallowed the whole story hook line and sinker for most of my life, for me it was very difficult to escape the belief system I was brought up in. I was taught that to question the validity of my religion might result in me being eternally punished for all eternity, so why risk it? The majority of religious people were taught to see things from the perspective of their religion since they were small children, when the mind can swallow things whole before the ability to rationally make sense of things has fully developed. As a result as we grow up and develop the ability to discern more intelligently, this same discernment that is meant to protect our minds from absurdities is then used to protect the belief system instead.

    I see religion as only a small part of our cultural beliefs. It is superficial enough that with careful scrutiny many people do find a way out of the story they were taught to believe as children. The values taught by society are an even deeper level of mental programming that is far more difficult to unravel. For this reason I see religion as a valuable model to recognize the human tendency to create a model of reality and then exert enormous effort to maintain the validity of the model even as more and more evidence mounts up against it.
  10. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I want the theists to cover this point as sketched out in the op, because it is one they tend to shy away from.

    Theists themselves tend to start with the implied proposition that the only way we non-theists can know anything about God, is trough them, the theists. That on our own, we're lost.
    So I say, okay, let's work with this proposition, see where it gets us.
    But given that theists are often not exactly behaving like daisies and sweethearts, it's difficult to just trust them.
    So I want to see how they answer.
  11. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I want to know the truth about God.

    And unlike some, I'm not willing to settle for cheap atheist platitudes, such as "God is an imaginary being" and such. Talk about valuing feeling good over truth!
  12. Balerion Banned Banned

    No, what you want is validation. You want to know that God loves you and that you have an afterlife waiting for you. Otherwise you wouldn't automatically assume that atheists are wrong and that a bunch of people adhering to millenia-old books somehow have an inside track to God.
  13. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    I have answered this several times. You should read the references that those theists use and then take the leap to think for yourself. Most self-actualized adults have realized the need to differentiate between the influences of others and their own judgments. Likewise, no one really nurtures a spirituality without forming their own judgments, specifically without regard to those of other people. If there is a god, it certainly has granted you the capacity to discern things for yourself.

    Yes, you must learn to differentiate influence by content, and the proverbial angel and devil on your shoulders both speak with the same voice,...yours. You must have the wherewithal to decide that negative content is never truly your own. Only once you have begun to sort that out will you learn to trust your own judgment.
  14. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Bah. Discussing theism with atheists defeats the point.
  15. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Who said I was an atheist? Seems to be just your usual cop-out for not taking any responsibility of your own in the matter. If you cannot even learn to trust yourself, you will NEVER be capable of trusting anyone else.
  16. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    That's right, it's just a "seems."
  17. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    You have never even made an attempt to show otherwise. So either it is true or you have some unknown reason for intentionally seeming incapable of deciding for yourself. If you will not provide reason for the latter then we have no choice but to assume the former.
  18. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    i am not saying there isn't a point in needing to eventually trust our own cognitions, because that is very true, but i do think it is funny that people argue the point. It is a problem we have as we are not simply what we are, simple "things" (ortega y gasset), but rather that humans consist also of what we believe. So there would always a primary step of trusting another in removing your lack of trust for yourself, to become a human that trusts oneself. Unless you came out of the womb denying all that doesn't fit your somewhat unformed consciousness, which seems would be exceedingly rare.

    Trust me, not yourself, that the proposition x is most useful or correct
    once you have x, you can then trust yourself

    This relates also to your theism idea that you must first be introduced to someone's God, BEFORE you can talk to that God for your yourself (whatever "talk" means in that phrase). Of course you could always have a Pauline (there are other examples of this type) experience, where your eyes are "opened" independently of being taught by a human. For most of us the fact remains that there will be a primary step of introduction necessary. Often however, this could be simply a semantic point, such as being recommended to call a vague idea of a divine "something out there", by the name "jehovah" or "the holy spirit" or whatever, in which case you aren't actually being told you were ever "wrong" as such by being a non-theist, but rather just given the words and concepts some tradition feels are most appropriate to describe things you already feel. Of course, as people point out when they say that most atheist's need not worry about what theists say about God, if there are no nameless ideas that you already have which can be described as God, there is definitely no need to have a set of terms for those ideas.
  19. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    With religions like mainstream Christianity, notions of "trusting oneself" make sense. And this has to do with the way selfhood is understood in Christianity - namely, it's quite vaguely hinted at, with not much analysis.

    But if we go East, and look at their notions of "selfhood," in which the mind and intelligence (ie. those things one thinks with) are considered to not be the self, notions of "trusting oneself" become more and more problematic, because it's simply not clear what they refer to, or they are actually misidentifications.

    Much like it is logically inconsistent to say "I freely chose a deterministic outlook on life," it is problematic to try to deliberately accept a theory of selfhood and of mind in which the mind is not one's own and the things that one usually identifies with are considered to not be the self.

    Talking about "thinking for oneself" and "taking responsibility for one's spirituality" sound like sensible notions, but they don't actually have a referent in all religions/spiritual paths, only in some.
  20. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Not so. In Buddhism, it is only mana (the negative connotations of pride, conceit, etc.) which is sought to be overcome. Metta (loving-kindness) is often first cultivated toward oneself.

    "In the Theravadin Buddhist tradition, this practice begins with the meditator cultivating loving-kindness towards themselves, then their loved ones, friends, teachers, strangers, enemies, and finally towards all sentient beings." -wiki(Mettā)​

    So you need to explain exactly which religions/notions you are having trouble with, including specific sources.

    Although a thread about aggressive religions would seem to preclude the Eastern ones you seem to be using as another excuse here.
  21. Balerion Banned Banned

    Typical cop-out BS. Way to keep lowering the bar for yourself.
  22. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    well it certainly isn't appropriate to pin people's misuse of a western religion's ideas to justify their horrible deeds onto an eastern religious path.
    If you are going to choose to make the distinction between east and west, you will have to point out examples of practitioners of eastern religion that present this issue of doing these "reprehensible" deeds, i don't know if there are systematic atrocities attributable to buddhist, taoist, shinto, etc regimes. Are there? If the real question is, "why should i believe an eastern person's religion?", you probably shouldn't present a failing of western religion as a stumbling block to that.
  23. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    @ Cole Grey

    Wynn is just employing a typical tactic of groping for something out of left field to address any criticism. You should be well-acquainted with the tactic.

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