What Do People Know About What They Pretend to Discuss?

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Tiassa, Nov 15, 2017.

  1. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Yes I think that's right, if what you want to do is rehash the perennial argument about whether or not there may be a god. The positions that can be taken are well-known and the arguments well-rehearsed, but it is a serious, philosophically respectable debate that you can have without understanding much theology.

    What I take exception to, and it seems Tiassa does as well (in his or her usual, rather elliptical, mode of expression), is starting puerile threads to ridicule religion on the basis of silly and ignorant caricatures of religious belief. You know the sort of thing: "It says in Genesis 1 that God divided light from darkness on the first "day" but, as he only created the sun on the 4th day, that's obviously ridiculous, therefore all Christians are idiots hahaha [custard pie]". Whereas any decent attempt at debate would at least make some effort to find out what the churches actually teach about Genesis, first. (Augustine of Hippo was pointing out that these ancient stories couldn't be taken as literally true, as early as 400AD.)

    There is also in my view an interesting but largely unexplored discussion that could be had about why people believe, or part-believe, or go along with, religious practice, i.e. what they get out of it, what value it has for them. This is a question that is quite independent of the perennial argument about the existence of a god, but it needs to be addressed before millions of people are summarily dismissed as idiots.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
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  3. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 69 years old Valued Senior Member

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    Problem

    You cannot pin down churches on a coherent teaching about Genesis

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  5. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Here is one example, after 30sec web search: https://www.catholic.com/tract/creation-and-genesis
    Obviously it is not a church's job to take a position on science, so they leave it open, but they make it pretty clear that no conflict with modern cosmology is implied.

    And here, after a further minute's research is a Jewish take on it: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/genesis-as-allegory/

    Either of these would be enough to show the infantility of an attack on Christianity or Judaism based on the scientific inconsistencies of Genesis.
     
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  7. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 69 years old Valued Senior Member

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    The very premise of believe in a church setting goes against the workings of science. Churches really do not have to take a position on Science. The two camps are not anywhere near each and if they stopped lobbing stupidity at each other life would be so much more peaceful

    Fat chance

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  8. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    I presume what you mean by that is that you think - wrongly - that religious belief is intrinsically incompatible with science. That is an entirely different point, which has nothing to do with the puerile and ignorant attacks on the Old Testament that I was complaining about.
     
  9. gmilam Valued Senior Member

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    Except that there is no coherent line of thought among ALL Christians. Down here in the bible belt I have been told numerous times throughout my life that I will burn hell for believing in evolution. I know adults who believe the Earth is only 6000 years old and Noah literally built an Ark.

    I usually avoid the religious threads around here, because they really are a dead end. But the charicatures I see are based on real people. It does no good to quote St Thomas Aquinas to them when they believe the Catholic church is a cult.
     
  10. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    You have a point certainly. I too have a little experience of the US bible belt, from when I lived briefly in Houston, and it did rather shock me. Christianity is somehow milder and seemingly more thought-through over here in Europe, having been around for nearly 2 millennia and being part of the fabric of society. Our ancient universities were all religious institutions, after all. Nobody could deny that theological doctrines and views vary between denominations, but I would still contend that if anyone wants to argue against Christianity per se, they can only be persuasive if they engage with the more thought-through versions of it, rather than just knocking lumps out of its more bizarre and extreme manifestations.
     
  11. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    I was once thrown out of an army chapel by a red faced redneck southern baptist chaplain when he screamed at me "Out of my church you sacrilegious son of a bitch!".
     
  12. gmilam Valued Senior Member

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  13. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    This sort of thing is appalling, I quite agree. I honestly thought the challenge from the ID people had been seen off. I had no idea this nonsense was still going on. In Britain there was one attempt, some years ago now, but the Education Secretary told them to get lost and put such questions into religious studies, not science, if anywhere. (As I think I have previously commented, I suspect it would be a good thing if American schools had a "religious studies" slot in the curriculum, as we do here. If one has this option, all these debates can be had where they belong, without contaminating the methodological naturalism that is essential for scientific study of nature.)

    Your example certainly sheds more light, for people like myself, on why people in the US get so hot under the collar. It is hardly surprising if scientists get infuriated by these tricks that exploit ignorance in order to undermine science - and sadly not surprising either if they come to see all religious believers (or even religious sympathisers like myself) as some sort of "enemy". But it's still a great pity, as it is not true.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
  14. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    How funny. What had you done? Reminded him that Noah's Flood is all there in the Epic of Gilgamesh?
     
  15. gmilam Valued Senior Member

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    I agree.

    Many, if not most, of my family and friends are religious. But they are generally of a more "enlightened" variety. (I was raised in the Methodist church.) As such, I generally have no dispute (or even discussion) with them on the subject. But the people that these trolls are lampooning do exist - and they vote.
     
  16. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Does it change your taking of exception, if one observes that those aren't silly and ignorant caricatures of religious belief, but instead descriptions of common manifestations and societal norms that have current and significant political influence?
    There is a role - even a need - for people willing to simply defy those "bizarre and extreme" manifestations, knock lumps out of them, on their own grounds and terms. They are, after all, at least 90% of the Abrahamic belief one encounters - certainly in the US, of course, but also throughout the Catholic and Islamic world globally.
    A little help in that chore may be too much to ask of the through-thinkers, redolent of betrayal regardless of protestations of higher and different intellectual status;

    but a request they at least quit running interference for the political efforts of the "extreme and bizarre" is not.
    That's far more common, and visible here, among theists of the troll penchant. Most atheists - even especially the troll variety - make explicit use of the multiplicity of available gods and beliefs, and the lack of a coherent and all-encompassing "meaning".

    Likewise the question of where morality comes from - a variety of fair answers (wherever it came from among atheistic societies, wherever it comes from among social animals from squirrel monkeys to vampire bats, an emergent inevitability in circumstances described by game theory, a scientifically unsettled evolutionary matter currently under serious investigation, etc) exist, but we are to ignore them unless they are explicitly produced by any given atheist?
     
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  17. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    What's this ignorance? I read their books, watch their media, listen to their arguments...

    Then I accuse you of not paying attention. There is no clear foolproof method of determining what is moral. The religious say what's moral is what a religious authority says is moral, but don't you make a moral judgement to obey that authority? You can't escape having to come to a conclusion based on incomplete information, namely the future effects of your decision. Atheism alone can't help, since it is in essence a position on God. There is no doctrine. This isn't an evasion, I can refer you to humanism as a reference for moral arguments. The atheist movement, fractured as it is, also takes moral positions on a range of religious practices like FGM, honor killing, women's rights, and politics.
    Sometimes attempts at conversion are pointless, and it becomes an exercise of preaching to the atheist choir. I don't see what's wrong with that. Note this is a forum for debate, an inherently competitive endeavor. Why not be proud of defeating an opponent? Maybe sciforums is less of a public square and more of a private training ground where you can refine your approach to issues with no real consequences.
    I'm here to spread the gospel that you can walk without crutches. Social needs can be met in other ways, like take a class or something.
     
  18. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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  19. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    no
    actually
    The post was Fort Ritchie. We were stratcom and ran site r. Interesting place(if not claustrophobic), interesting people with, i suspect, an average iq north of 130.
    A few of us had started a bible study group, wherein, we would compare perceptions of various passages, and bounce our ideas off of each other and our intelligent and well studied chaplain. Then he shipped out and was replaced by the aforementioned southern baptist.(big man with a small and narrow mind)
    Suddenly, our open discussions were replaced by opinionated pompous posturing and stern fire and brimstone lectures.
    I tried reasoning with the silly bastard, but open discussion seemed well beyond his capabilities and desires, so I decided to say something to test the depth of his "faith", thusly:
    I said: when mentioning GOD, you quite often use the personal pronoun, "He"(something that I do not do). So, I conclude that you think that GOD was male.
    He replied "Yes"
    OK, said I, and GOD is eternal, the alpha and omega, here from the beginning until the end of time, and maybe beyond.
    He replied, "Yes".
    OK, said I, and Jesus was GOD's only child, through all of eternity.
    He replied, "Yes".
    OK, said I, well if he only had the one child, what did he do the rest of the time? Beat off"?
    Whereupon, the southern baptist puffed hisself all up, moved toward me aggressively, and with a bright red face, and spittle flying out of his mouth, screamed at me: "Out of my church you sacrilegious son of a bitch!".
    My conclusion, he was all bluff and bluster and had no faith.
    So, end of bible study and we adjourned to the special service club and formed a scrabble group.
     
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  20. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    I don't think that proves that at all.

    If you were speaking to a couple, and at one point said "oh, so your wife is a worthless whore?" you'd probably get a similar response. Doesn't mean that the man "had no faith" in his wife - just means that he doesn't want to see someone he cares about be called names.
     
  21. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    You could be correct.
    However, I had known men of faith, and, no matter what crazy shit I said, they never resorted to angry outbursts. (perhaps, a good shepherd does not force sheep out of the flock?)
     
  22. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Well you have to admit you were pushing your luck.

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    But I don't blame you: I am sure I would have been equally annoyed in your place.
     
  23. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    No it doesn't change my taking exception to people who use extreme sects to ridicule an entire religion. It's like claiming all democrats are communists or something. I'm all for pointing out absurdities and deceit (You may have noticed I lose no chance to point out the falsehoods of ID when it pops up here - we had a case not long ago). Just so long as people do not lazily assume - or pretend, for cheap rhetoric - that such wacky beliefs are core to the religion itself and that by attacking them they demolish the whole religion.

    I would take issue with your contention that 90% of the "Abrahamic belief" (interesting formulation - I have not been talking about Islam) that "one encounters" is represented by such views. It may possibly be true in the US but I am certain it is not true of Christianity in its European home.

    There is also another point: I think too that, just as with politics, one needs to distinguish between what the man in the street, who does not think about such things all day, may believe - or says he thinks he believes when caught on the hop, in answer to a man with a clipboard - and what the thinkers in the religion actually try to teach. If I wanted to know what Catholicism or the Church of England had to say about something I would ask a priest, not an Irish farmer or a woman at a parish jumble sale. That is only fair, it seems to me. What most people really believe is often not something they have ever really articulated to themselves. They may only find out gradually when confronted by a situation that forces them to examine the question.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017

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