Religion itself is the fount of most evil.

Found this in today’s Sunday Herald, and thought I’d share some of it with you guys.

For the government of a secular country such as ours to treat religion as if it had real merit instead of regarding it as a ridiculous anachronism, which education, wisdom and experience can hopefully overcome in time, is one of the most depressing developments of the 21st century. Religious people must be treated with the same respect as non-religious people, but their religions should quite properly be regarded with the weary contempt they deserve. Instead we have debates on TV news shows between hardline Muslim scholars and moderate Muslim politicians without any intervening voice of scepticism suggesting that the whole darned thing might be just as invented as virgin births and Mormon tablets.

We have bishops arguing with Christian women about ordination as if this is an important issue, again without the obvious interjection that it is unlikely in the extreme that there exists any god at all, never mind a peculiar one who cares what sex wears the cassock. And there goes old nutty Ruth Kelly using taxpayers’ money to introduce a whole new clutch of assorted religious schools that will abuse the innocence of trusting children by teaching them superstition alongside facts to ensure they cannot separate the two.

The defence of any attacked faith is always to say: “You don’t understand our religion.” It’s considerably more likely that those defenders of their rrational beliefs have failed to understand Montesquieu, Hume, Rousseau and Diderot. The tattooed drunken morons attending an Orange walk are hardly theologians.

Since these are dark days, it’s time to stop all this polite tiptoeing around religion and harden up accordingly. Our elected leaders constantly bleating their respect for religion is not political correctness but a public declaration that intellect, tolerance, democracy, reason and enlightenment are of less value than dogma and delusion. Now’s the moment for a clear, definite, distinct line to be drawn between state and religion, one that defends the individual’s right to follow whatever ideology he or she wishes within the law, but also firmly declares and vigorously defends our collective ideals of gender equality, respect for differing sexual orientations and reinforces the message that there is no room whatsoever for the supernatural and the irrational. No bishops, mullahs, Presbyterian ministers, rabbis, or Scientologists should be gifted special hearings at Downing Street, but should confine themselves to wielding their power and freedom as the rest of us do, namely as ordinary voters, and the state-funded faith schools that shame us all with their manipulation of young minds must cease. We have all been mugged, but the shock must take us back to reason and as far away from religion as we can get.

What do you think?

179 thoughts on “Religion itself is the fount of most evil.

  1. My father always says “Now Seán, you gotta take the good with the bad with religion”. The evidence is staring in the face that religion is bullshit, but apparently he is suffering form arborary vision imparement.

  2. This is an excellent article, Bachalon. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

    Even to me though it seems oddly sinister to suggest that we should give up our gods. That’s almost like saying “Don’t hope for the fantastic and miraculous to be manifested. It’s irresponsible to believe in a hallowed hero.”

    The optimist in me believes it’s time to give up our superstitions. The pragmatist in me fears that’s never going to happen for the world.

    But why I do I feel evil when I advocate the end of all religions? Am I really that indoctrinated?

  3. But why I do I feel evil when I advocate the end of all religions? Am I really that indoctrinated?

    Possibly…I feel the same way since it is like telling people what they can or can not think.  Yet, what is better, to allow people to think whatever they please (and suffer the consequences from their “logical” conclusions) or get people to realise that we live in the real world and all of us have to make real world decisions to make the real world a better place (instead of thinking that if we beleive in some myth hard enough, we will find paradise instead of flesh munching worms after we die)?

    I say down with the superstitions.

  4. Instead we have debates on TV news shows between hardline Muslim scholars and moderate Muslim politicians without any intervening voice of scepticism suggesting that the whole darned thing might be just as invented as virgin births and Mormon tablets.

    That hits it on the head for me.  When talking with religious friends, we avoid the subject.  The few times they’ve backed me into the corner, I’ve told them I respect their religion about as much as folks who really believe in the Easter Bunny. I respect the *people*, so I don’t rub their collective noses in how I really feel … but that’s it in essence.

    Organized religion is a contrived system of control, paying homage to invisible, inaudible, untouchable “spirits”, using stories stolen from earlier mythologies.  It’s a colossal carrot and stick game, used to control the hearts and minds of the masses.

    D

  5. Yes….We have people right here in the United Sates which are every bit as determined to take over the world with their religion as Muslims are. You’ll always get the argument that at least they aren’t actively involved in violence as other religions are……….YET!

    “Author and educator George Grant was Executive Director of Coral Ridge Ministries for many years. He explains in The Changing of the Guard, Biblical Principles for Political Action:

    Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ—to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.

    But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice.

    It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.

    It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.

    It is dominion we are after.

    World conquest. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less… Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land—of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ. (pp. 50-51)”

    Our own Pat Robertson seems to be preparing his followers for getting thier hands bloody.

    “If Christian people work together, they can succeed during this decade in winning back control of the institutions that have been taken from them over the past 70 years. Expect confrontations that will be not only unpleasant but at times physically bloody…. This decade will not be for the faint of heart, but the resolute. Institutions will be plunged into wrenching change. We will be living through one of the most tumultuous periods of human history. When it is over, I am convinced God’s people will emerge victorious.
    —Pat Robertson, Pat Robertson’s Perspective Oct-Nov 1992”

    I realize that regular visitors to this site probably aren’t seeing anything new here. I had to add some beef to my post though.

  6. Thanks for the compliment Brock. Sometimes my news reader pays off.

    As for that feeling of indoctrination, don’t worry to much about it. There are such things as invalid beliefs and even beliefs than can be justified in small ways can become invalid if they have an malignant effect on behavior.

    That’s the crux for me.

  7. But why I do I feel evil when I advocate the end of all religions? Am I really that indoctrinated?

    You have been contaminated with Credulum 214, an artificial religious element with a half-life of 5 years.  The isotope breaks down into Cynicum 180 and large amounts of helium gas. 

    The effort of resisting Credulum’s influence is directly proportional to the remaining amounts of the isotope still in your system.  You’re never completely free of it but cheleation therapy with Heinleinium and Twainium can reduce it to nontoxic levels in a few years.

    Well, it sounded funnier in my head…

  8. Well, it sounded funnier in my head…

    It sounded complicated in mine. But if it works, who am I to say: What?

  9. This whole idea of controlling the institutions and courts sounds a lot like 1984 by George Orwell. That scares the shit out of me. Christianity does such a good job of blocking all sorts of logical questioning thought that it could very well end up like the world in 1984. If some religion gets that much power in the government every one who wishes to think and express themselves would be screwed. Maybe I am just being crazy and over reacting by mentioning 1984 but if I lost me right to think for myself I would be pissed.
      I dont know if christianity would take things as far as 1984 but it seems to be advocationg a similar goverment.
      Another note: forcing people to think for themselves(as in taking away religion) would be a different thing that forcing people to think one specific thing. By forcing someone to think forthemselves choice is inherant. You have to choose what your opinions are. That, I think, is the biggest thing that religion takes away: the ability to make ones own choices about opinion. And, I think, the most important thing we have: choice of belief.

    Cheers BunBun.

  10. Our elected leaders constantly bleating their respect for religion is not political correctness but a public declaration that intellect, tolerance, democracy, reason and enlightenment are of less value than dogma and delusion.

    I could have swore it was a declaration that beliefs govern us.  When it comes down to the wire your survival instinct is trained to cooperate with any beliefs you’ve instilled in it, rational or irrational.  You don’t have to be a theist to govern yourself irrationally.

    Now’s the moment for a clear, definite, distinct line to be drawn between state and religion, one that defends the individual’s right to follow whatever ideology he or she wishes within the law, but also firmly declares and vigorously defends our collective ideals of gender equality, respect for differing sexual orientations…

    But these colective ideals must have a basis or how will we determine them?  So we don’t use religion, what do we use?  The popular vote?  As people’s whims change and their greed for superiority avails them what’s to stop them from changing the moral boundaries?

    …and reinforces the message that there is no room whatsoever for the supernatural and the irrational.

    Could you prove the supernatural is an irrational concept?  Wouldn’t that require a knowledge of the supernatural greater than most?  Yet, if metaphysics comes to belief, as we must always acknowledge it does, then I find it unfair to equate the supernatural witht he irrational.  It can’t be any more rational than atheism since they know just as much.  I recommend the government go to some length to encourage respect for everyone’s ignorance of the absolute reality of things.  Besides politics requires cooperation and giving preferential treatment to the atheist is going to leave out the majority of theists in the world.

    No bishops, mullahs, Presbyterian ministers, rabbis, or Scientologists should be gifted special hearings at Downing Street…

    Don’t forget excluding atheists.  We must be fair to all religions.  Oh wait, then no one would be left to influence the government if their could be one left.  I agree that all of the above should not be granted special hearings, but they must be granted hearings nonetheless if you are to play fair.

    Originally posted by bachalon:
    What do you think?

    Another idiot blowing steam and writing without thinking.

  11. But these colective ideals must have a basis or how will we determine them?  So we don’t use religion, what do we use?

    Here’s a radical notion:  How about the Constitution, or perhaps the Affirmations of Humanism, which are far more universal (and useful) principles than the Bible or the ten commandments?

    I think it’s quite interesting that the articles in Bachalon’s posts, which are straightforward and unapologetic in their call for an end to “respecting” religion, were published in mainstream media.  Anything of a similar nature written here in the US would likely only be found in non-mainstream publications.  It’s ironic that such opinions find a wider audience in the UK, where there’s an actual state religion, than they would here in the supposedly secular US, as yet not declared a Christian nation despite the militant and unceasing cries of the fundies for it to be so.

    By and large, people don’t think twice about calling Scientology a total crock of shit, and considering its adherents to be delusional nut cases; but to say the same of Christianity and ITS adherents is considered “persecution” or “hate speech” by many of those same people.  It stands to reason (which is why it can’t be grasped by most Christians) that an adult human being with an IQ over 30 who believes in an invisible superfriend like “God” or “Jesus” should be considered just as delusional as if they truly believed in the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy.  Belief in invisible beings is something to be laughed at, not respected.  And certainly not respected to the point that the supposed “words” of those invisible beings are looked to as a source from which the laws that govern a civil society should be taken.  If our leaders told us that the Easter Bunny commands all people to immediately cease killing rabbits, and therefore a law would be enacted, we’d call them insane and kick them out of office with all due haste.  Yet not an eye blinks when our leaders propose laws according to “what God says” in the Bible, as if that somehow makes their proposals any less ridiculous than those of an Easter Bunnarian.  Rational and reasonable people rightly see no difference between such ludicrous claims.

    Sure, I can still respect people I know who cleave to such nonsense as a belief in gods in order to get through their lives, but I admit that my respect for their level of intelligence and maturity drops a few notches.  Only children and fools should give credence to the notion that fairies, dragons or gods are somehow real; their ignorance is excusable (and often curable).  Not so any adult who can manage to tie his or her own shoes and is convinced that Jesus is going to return to earth and run the place for a thousand years.  I refuse to “play nice” and pretend that it’s ok for adults to go on in their delusion, especially when their invented deity and his “laws” seem to take precedence over the very real needs and problems of the rest of humanity.  Presenting myth as fact is the height of insanity, and using that myth to make law is intolerable.  Moreover, employing the force of law to prop up one belief system over all others is unconstitutional – and that’s what’s happened here in America.

    Rather than “honoring our Christian heritage” as the fundies claim as justification for reconstructionist policy, we should be a little bit embarrassed about our ignorance at the time the country was founded, and embrace the fact that we’ve smartened up over the past two centuries and start correcting those laws that serve to highlight our former ignorance, intolerance and delusion, while simultaneously supporting discrimination against those people who’ve embraced reason and reality.

  12. Sorry…..British that is. Each day I have a different key rebel on my keyboard. I guess it’s Bs’ turn today. I have to jab it extra hard to make it work.

  13. I think that Sunday Herald article took a lot of balls to publish, especially considering the “shout ‘em down!” mindset of the fundies these days.  I can almost see in my mind the hate mail the editor is getting.

    Yesterday afternoon, one of the local news channels aired a piece about a group calling itself “Christian Exodus”.  These people – mostly fundamentalist christians – are slowly but surely moving in to certain communities in South Carolina, taking over over local governments with an eye on the bigger picture.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find a link to – OUCH! I got a Frankenberry caught in my tooth! dangit! – that particular story, but here’s something mentioning these folks and their “movement”:

    http://www.hibbingmn.com/placed/index.php?sect_rank=4&story_id=205757

    Secession?  hmmmm . . .

  14. YOu can find those Christian Exodus winners here.

    Personally I hope they succeed so the rest of the country can get a taste of what a fundamentalist christian country would be like.

    I don’t think anything would turn people off of that quicker than watching a state self-destruct like that.

  15. I think that Sunday Herald article took a lot of balls to publish, especially considering the “shout ‘em down!

  16. YOu can find those Christian Exodus winners here.

    Damn…I bet this is how Christianity (and other religions) spread in the first place.  Just hordes of insane people settling down in areas and being annoying as all get out.

    I find it funny that on their web site, they have the “no establishment” from the Bill of Rights prominently displayed before they go into the details on how they want to establish a religious state!  Hypocracy at its best!

    On a darker note, this reminds me of that wonderful line from The Terminator:

    “It can’t be bargained with! It can’t be reasoned with! It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead!”

  17. For me, a statement that religious people are delusional and deserve to be laughed at raises the same neck hair as does a statement that Atheists are immoral and without the Bible or religious beliefs as reference, the moral fiber of the world would unravel. Just an observation.

    The line between church and state ought to be eight miles thick, and I think that is a no-brainer.

  18. The objection that nonreligious morality has only a human source (and is therefore subject to change) does not hold water.  Religion itself has a human source and is subject to change.  How else explain 300+ Christian denominations in the US alone?  Each sees something a little different in that anthology of ancient writings known as the bible. 

    Christianity itself was once a heresy of Judaism.  As I recall the Pharisees and Sadducees were less than thrilled with Jesus.  Some even believe (please let’s not get into the details right now) that Christianity is recycled Egyptian or Babylonian mythology.

    BTW, Theo, atheism is not a religion unless drought is another kind of precipitation.  As drought is the lack of precipitation, so atheism is the lack of any belief in god.  We might prefer rain to drought but that has no bearing on which you will see outside the window at a given moment.

    I do not advocate for humanistic morality out of distain for god, rather out of lack of belief that he/she/it exists at all.  Whatever morality we do propose should at least be based on our most supportable, most probable, most predictive model of reality.  In other words, what OB said.

    I might respect a believer but that respect will be tempered since they hold to something I think is absolute nonsense.  Probably they feel the same about me.  Neither of us believes the others’ reality is equal to our own.  Both cannot be right.

  19. I like Affirmations of Humanism better so I’ll answer to them.

    We are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems.

    Now that’s what I was looking for.  The ethics of science.  Now we have a basis.

    We deplore efforts to denigrate human intelligence, to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms, and to look outside nature for salvation.

    So where’s their proof nature holds more salvation than the supernatural?

    We believe that scientific discovery and technology can contribute to the betterment of human life.

    Yes.

    We believe in an open and pluralistic society and that democracy is the best guarantee of protecting human rights from authoritarian elites and repressive majorities.

    Wait if we just granted an ethics of science why are we all of a sudden pluralistic?  Where there is difference, there is strife.  Not settling for less than absolute or a method to find the absolute. wink

    We are committed to the principle of the separation of church and state.

    In a community determined by the logical this seems adequate.

    We cultivate the arts of negotiation and compromise as a means of resolving differences and achieving mutual understanding.

    Sounds good, but your arts are insufficient if they can not resolve the differences in a pluralistic society.

    We are concerned with securing justice and fairness in society and with eliminating discrimination and intolerance.

    Good for you, but you might want to start by rewording your second point, it sounded a little intolerant. tongue wink

    We believe in supporting the disadvantaged and the handicapped so that they will be able to help themselves.

    Agreed.

    We attempt to transcend divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, and strive to work together for the common good of humanity.

    Go Team!

    We want to protect and enhance the earth, to preserve it for future generations, and to avoid inflicting needless suffering on other species.

    Can do.

    We believe in enjoying life here and now and in developing our creative talents to their fullest.

    Arts and crafts are fun!

    We believe in the cultivation of moral excellence.

    Get out!  Me too!

    We respect the right to privacy. Mature adults should be allowed to fulfill their aspirations, to express their sexual preferences, to exercise reproductive freedom, to have access to comprehensive and informed health-care, and to die with dignity.

    So long as our ethics of science agrees.

    We believe in the common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility. Humanist ethics is amenable to critical, rational guidance. There are normative standards that we discover together. Moral principles are tested by their consequences.

    Fair enough.

    We are deeply concerned with the moral education of our children. We want to nourish reason and compassion.

    I can’t believe we’re not best friends by now.

    We are engaged by the arts no less than by the sciences.
    We are citizens of the universe and are excited by discoveries still to be made in the cosmos.

    Mmhmm.

    We are skeptical of untested claims to knowledge, and we are open to novel ideas and seek new departures in our thinking.

    Apparently not open to metaphysical ideas though.

    We affirm humanism as a realistic alternative to theologies of despair and ideologies of violence and as a source of rich personal significance and genuine satisfaction in the service to others.

    Did you test those theologies of despair in all cases?

    We believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair, learning in the place of dogma, truth instead of ignorance, joy rather than guilt or sin, tolerance in the place of fear, love instead of hatred, compassion over selfishness, beauty instead of ugliness, and reason rather than blind faith or irrationality.

    9/10.  Do you expect me to take it in blind faith that you proved reason better then blind faith in all cases? tongue wink

    We believe in the fullest realization of the best and noblest that we are capable of as human beings.

    Alrighty then.  Utopia, here we come.

    Originally posted by OB:
    By and large, people don’t think twice about calling Scientology a total crock of shit, and considering its adherents to be delusional nut cases; but to say the same of Christianity and ITS adherents is considered “persecution

  20. Originally posted by decrepitoldfool:
    BTW, Theo, atheism is not a religion unless drought is another kind of precipitation.

    I’m not sure your analogy stands.  Drought is the perceivable shortage of water.  Precipitation is the perceivable abundance of water.  Atheism is the belief god(s) does not exist.  It is not simply a lack of belief in God.  If atheism is similar to a drought, then atheists would have a shortage of belief in god(s), which implies some belief still remains.  Theism is the belief in god(s).  Both are belief systems relating to the existence of the supernatural, which grants them equal religion status in my book.  I’ve challenged people to come up with a more logical definiton of religion before and had no reply.

  21. Theo, you are right that the term ‘drought’ can include some rain.  Here in Illinois we are in a severe drought even though it is raining right now.

    So forget “drought” and consider: is “not precipitating” a form of precipitation?  No water vapor condensing around nuclei and becoming water – that is what condensation is.  If ‘x’ is not happening, then ‘not-x’ is not a form of ‘x’.  It is the absence of ‘x’.

  22. The biggest thing that a gevernment can give is choice. People should have the right to choose there own beliefs. If people understand that then all this debate over religion would be moot.

    From this seperatation of church and state logically follows because there are so many different religions that to have any single one being more important than another would go against the freedom of beliefs. This is due to the fact that people would be pressed to conform to it by the others of the state sanctioned religion. However, if only Aetheists were allowed into the government that would be just as problematic. Atheism is just another way of looking at our universe and is similiar to religion in respect to freedom of belief in that to choose it above others would be the same as choosing a specific religion above others. So anyone must be allowed the chance at government. Yet if people are ignorant and elect religious leaders of one specific denomination and end up creating a religious state then all the talk of freedom of belief is undermined. So the real way to solve the problems – at least the way I think – is to educate. If everyone were able to think for themselves and make decisions independent of what is written in some peice of “holy” scripture then maybe we could all coexist. The way I see it is this: we could live happily with the same inteligence as monkeys or as much smarter and more intelligent beings who use rational thought which I think we are capable of.

    Thus we should strive to educate. The reason I dont like religion is that they do not promote education and rational thought(it tends to show that the religion is based on control). Yet one can believe in god and think rationally. So religion itself is the problem NOT the beliefe in god. If religion(the ceremonies, the writings, and the preaching) were done away with and left only with the concept of god then this new form of religion(s) would be perfectly acceptable. I see nothing wrong with believing in god; however, I think the acts that follow are useless and often promote blind faith in people who claim to be closer to god (ie: a dictator).

    Cheers BunBun

  23. Justice:  For me, a statement that religious people are delusional and deserve to be laughed at raises the same neck hair as does a statement that Atheists are immoral and without the Bible or religious beliefs as reference, the moral fiber of the world would unravel. Just an observation.

    I think it’s worth noting that my statement raises hackles (not just yours, but many people’s) when applied to those who believe in God, yet the same applied to people who really and truly believe in the existence of Santa, leprechauns or the Easter Bunny wouldn’t raise an eyebrow.  It’s a testament to the pervasiveness of our cultural indoctrination that a belief in God is supposed to be treated differently, i.e. given more respect or more credibility, than a belief in any other invisible and/or mythical being.

    Theo:

    We deplore efforts to denigrate human intelligence, to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms, and to look outside nature for salvation.

    So where’s their proof nature holds more salvation than the supernatural?

    I’m pretty sure their point is that there’s no NEED for salvation.  Christians believe all people are sinners, hence are in need of salvation (and if that’s not a denigration of human intelligence I don’t know what is). Humanists have no such beliefs.

    Theo:

    We are skeptical of untested claims to knowledge, and we are open to novel ideas and seek new departures in our thinking.

    Apparently not open to metaphysical ideas though.

    I’d say metaphysical ideas fall into the category of those “untested claims” of which Humanists are skeptical.  Rightly so, IMO.

    BunBun: The reason I dont like religion is that they do not promote education and rational thought(it tends to show that the religion is based on control). Yet one can believe in god and think rationally. So religion itself is the problem NOT the beliefe in god. If religion(the ceremonies, the writings, and the preaching) were done away with and left only with the concept of god then this new form of religion(s) would be perfectly acceptable. I see nothing wrong with believing in god; however, I think the acts that follow are useless and often promote blind faith in people who claim to be closer to god (ie: a dictator).

    Indeed.  People can believe whatever they want to in private.  It’s the beliefs of some people (and a minority, no less) driving public policy that I have a serious problem with.  Because some Christians believe homosexuality to be a sin, our nation is supposed to adopt a policy that denies gays their constitutional right to choose their legal next of kin through marriage?  Because some Christians believe that a frozen embryo is somehow as much a person as a living, breathing human being, as a matter of public policy we’re supposed to give up embryonic stem cell research that has the potential to save lives?  Because some Christians believe that the Earth was created 6000 years ago by God, exactly as it is now, and that dinosaurs and humans walked side by side, it should be the law of the land that school children be taught in school that that particular bit of mythology is equally as valid as a scientific theory that’s backed up by over a century’s worth of empirical evidence?  Fuck no!  Not on my watch.  As long as I have a breath in my body, I will loudly oppose allowing myth to be presented as fact (especially to children) and allowing the government of ALL Americans to make laws based upon those myths, or laws that support the notion that those myths are somehow relevant to anyone other than those who believe them to be true.

  24. People can believe whatever they want to in private.  It’s the beliefs of some people (and a minority, no less) driving public policy that I have a serious problem with.

      That is it in a nutshell, OB.

  25. OB, let me start by making clear I am not defending my own beliefs, and I have also cracked many jokes about religious people – Christians, particularly. So this is more a pause for thought because for some reason, put the way you put it, your statement bothered me. I wasn’t really sure why at the moment, which is why I wrote it was just an observation.

    I have given it thought. I don’t think a belief in Santa Claus is a fair comparison to a belief in a god. When children discover Santa Claus is not real, they can immediately replace Santa Claus with (usually) mom and dad. In other words, there is no mystery left behind when Santa is suddenly plucked out of existence because everything they attributed to Santa is explained as a covert operation executed by their parents. You have to admit there is a mountain of information to sort through when comparing religion to science, and there is also a need for a lot of research to understand scientific studies and terms. Everybody is arguing over what is valid and what is not, and you can find those arguments occurring among scientists themselves. It can be confusing; so substantially more so than trying to figure out who stuffs the stockings on Christmas Eve.

    Furthermore, finding out there is no Santa can be a bummer, but realizing there is no god can be devastating. I don’t know if you have directly or indirectly experienced that transition, but it can and often does completely fuck a person up for a while. So no, I don’t think the comparison is fair because a belief in god carries far more weight – not in validity, but in the potential mental and emotional impact from its destruction, and also because it takes far more patience, determination, education, and reason to denounce. For those two reasons, I would argue that a belief in god does deserve – at the least more patience, if not – more respect than a belief in something as relatively trivial as Santa Claus or fairies.

    Now, having said that, I don’t mind chasing off bible thumpers with 100+ lbs. of bone crushing teeth and muscle (my dog cool grin ) because they almost invariably cross a line around here, and religious people who are trying to take my rights need to be stopped. But unfortunately, a statement that says religious people are delusional and deserve to be laughed at sweeps across the people I know who believe in some form of god to which they attribute no human-like qualities and professed reign (those I think cannot be said to be delusional because they cannot yet be proven wrong, but rather can be said, at best, to be drawing an unlikely conclusion) and those who believe in a biblical version of “God,” but would join you brick by brick in building that eight mile thick line between church and state (delusional, maybe, but deserving of some measure of respect as they understand you don’t believe as they do, that they have no right to impose their beliefs on you, and otherwise, are not bothering you but supporting you – and me.)

  26. I’m reading “believe, believe, believe” everywhere…. I’ll be nice and say that for most people that I know, They’re thinking “believe, believe, believe”. But what they are really doing is wishing, wishing, wishing for that book to reflect truth, for that pardon coming from above. For Jesus to hold their hands telling them “you did good”. They are wishing so hard that they are willing to protect a set of ideas that would give a meaning to their lives. In my opinon this whole religious philosophy is there to fii in a hole in some people’s education…The need to believe.

    An other image that comes to mind is the situation where I would be accused or accusing… it doesn’t really matter….I would then tell the judge a story. Any story. And he would be asking me to show proof….

  27. You have to admit there is a mountain of information to sort through when comparing religion to science,

      Justice, I think that might be the big sticking point.  You really can’t compare religion and science.  Religion is based on faith/belief with no bearing on whether or not there is proof.  Science tries to make cohesive sense of observable phenomona (including “extended” senses like telescopes, microscopes, infrared, etc…).  What makes something a “science” is the ability to accurately make predictions based upon hypotheses formulated from past observations.  These predictions have to be able to be independently verified through experiments by other scientists.  Science is based upon empiricism and religion is based upon faith.  Science (in general) attempts to answer the “hows” while religion attempts to answer the “whys”.  Scientific knowledge is ethically null while religion is steeped in mores and ethos.  There is no real common ground other than what some people who feel threatened by empirical facts have attempted to make (e.g., creation vs evolution).  Even the creation versus evolution “debate” is flawed because evolutionary theory deals with what happened to life after it began on earth while creation is about the origins of life.  Scientific theories dealing with the origins of life are divided into two camps- abiogenesis and biogenesis, ebolutionary theory is a separate branch of study.
      As for Santa Claus, OB’s point migth be a little more valid than you think.  Parents never take the place of Santa.  Once the child’s belief in Santa is gone, Santa ceases to exist.  The child who believes in Santa believes in an omnipotent being who knows if you are good or bad.  This being is able to magically create toys for all of the children in the world and then somehow manage to deliver these toys to every household in the world in one night.  This is not coincidence since Santa is merely a demoted Danish god, just as Satan is a demoted paleolithic god.  (Hmmm… Satan and Santa are anagrams!:vampire:).  Other pagan dieties were cannonized (St Brigit comes to mind) to help assimilation of the conquered cultures.

  28. Well said Justice.  I was about to point out something similar.  By the claims of the myth of Santa he visits every Christmas morning with presents.  This is easily testable and easily dismissed.  Religions are much harder to do so with.  You can’t so easily disprove everything in the Bible.  Their may be some things that grant reasonable doubt, but, as I was reminded sometime ago in another thread, piltdown man’s fraudulent nature does not grant the whole theory of evolution thrown out the window.  No one can prove every claim in the Bible to be false.  They may be logically unreasonable, but that does not equate myth.

    Originally posted by decrepitoldfool:
    So forget “drought

  29. THEOCRAT states: . . . Atheism is a religion.

    Why does every single christian feel that by calling atheism a “religion” it thereby makes it so?  What does it accomplish? 

    If it makes christians feel better, FINE . . . atheism is a religion.  Now what?

    THEOCRAT: When people claim that invisble beings speak to them it is a belief.  If they knew that then we could test it, but since we can’t it must be a belief, in which case ignore them if you don’t follow their belief.

    Ignoring ‘em worked just fine for many years . . . the problem is that there are now those who are no longer content to “live and let live” – they believe that their special little imaginary friend wants them to force everyone else in the US to accept *their* beliefs as the Truth of Truths, and they’ll bring us all to heel one way or another!

    Over the past few years, I’ve realized that ignoring them is no longer an option.

  30. Theo, everything you believe, either testable or not, is a belief.  That’s a tautology.

    As for atheism being a religion, as Beau Tochs said, fine if it makes you feel better.

    Well, I guess I’ll go work on my hobby, “not collecting stamps.”

  31. Originally posted by Beau Tochs:
    Why does every single christian feel that by calling atheism a “religion

  32. My point about the belief tautology was that earlier you used “belief” to indicate only untestable things.  You went on at some length about it.

    Metaphysical ideas are beliefs.  They are untestable.  Only knowledge is testable…

    I believe there is no god, and I can’t test that belief.  I believe the sun will come up tomorrow, and I can test that belief. 

    A religion is more than a belief.  Theism is not a religion; Catholicism is.  Religions, as I understand them, really are a “belief system” combined with a set of rituals, practices, an ethical framework, a social structure, a comprehensive doctrine, and an identity.

    I think it is arguable that a belief in a higher power is what distinguishes a religion from a philosophy.  The counterexample of nontheistic strands of Buddhism would serve to make the argument longer but in the end I’d have to say those strands are philosophies, not religions.

    Atheism might be a component of a philosophy, like the atheistic strand of Humanism.

    Because I beleive in Chrisitianity there are certain things you can generally infer about how I live my life and what I consider important.  If I meet a Muslim or a Hindu there are things I may infer about their lifestyles based on their beliefs about the supernatural.

    Nope.  Your belief in Christianity tells me very little about how you live your life or what you consider important.  Think for a moment about the tremendous diversity of lifestyles among those who follow the carpenter from Nazareth. 

    The Pope in all his riches, preaching about compassion for the poor.  The preacher in East St. Louis doing street-basketball clinics at night and substitute teaching math in inner-city schools by day.  The used-car dealer, the Mexican villager, the gay Episcopalian Rector, the Marxist priest in Guatamala, the evangelical preacher of my acquaintance who lied about getting a girl pregnant, another evangelical preacher, friend of mine, whose life is devoted to compassion on Earth as well as spreading the eternal Gospel …  all Christians.

    Same true of atheists.  One might profess nihlism but be a lousy nihlist, rescuing kittens and volunteering to help clean old refrigerators and tires out of polluted creeks.

    Jesus said in Matthew 7: you’ll know them by their fruits.  He didn’t infer a lot from people’s professed beliefs.

  33. Come up with a more logical definition of religion than a ‘belief system regarding the supernatural’ that gets atheism out of the umbrella of religion, if it bothers you so much.

    How about this:

    A series of mythical tales designed to explain that which people (at the time of the myths creation) did not understand.

    Atheism doesn’t fall under that umbrella.

  34. warbi: Justice, I think that might be the big sticking point.

    I’m not really sure what “the big sticking point” actually means; I do think your point is valid but misses mine. Give me some room; it was not an entirely formed idea and based on a new perspective. Perhaps I should have written religious claims to scientific claims or religious explanations to scientific explanations. . .

    Parents never take the place of Santa.  Once the child’s belief in Santa is gone, Santa ceases to exist.

    Warbi, when I said the children immediately replace Santa with their parents, I think I actually further demonstrated what I meant by that by saying everything they attributed to Santa they can then attribute to their parents.

    Parent: “There is no Santa.”

    Child: “How did the presents get under the tree?”

    Parent: “I put them there.”

    The absence of Santa leaves no mystery behind on how the presents got there because the parents put them there.

    Atheist: “There is no god.”

    Believer in god: “How did we come to be?”

    Atheist: “I cannot say with absolute certainty, but here are the theories…”

    Really, bring me down a notch because the more I think about it, the more I think comparing religious beliefs to beliefs in Santa Claus is to reduce a good number of intelligent people (among others) to absolute idiocy, and I am finding the same arrogance there as I did with the man who shouted at me that not only was I going to hell, but I was taking my “innocent children” with me.

    THEOCRAT: Well said Justice.  I was about to point out something similar.  By the claims of the myth of Santa he visits every Christmas morning with presents.  This is easily testable and easily dismissed.  Religions are much harder to do so with.

    Thanks. We clearly agree that far.

  35. Good argument DOF.  I concede.  Glad we agree Justice.  It’s nice to have some help.

    Originally posted by KPatrickGlover:
    A series of mythical tales designed to explain that which people (at the time of the myths creation) did not understand.

    Myths are fictional.  Unless you can prove that each of the world’s religions are fictional I can not accept this inferior definition.

  36. Actually, you are still missing my point, viz, religious beliefs are neither provable nor disprovable whereas scientific theories are either supported by empirical evidence or not.  If the theory is not supported by the evidence, then it is discredited.  What I mean by sticking point is that there is no useful way of comparing religion and science, they are two totally different systems.  One relies on faith and the other on empiricism.
      While religious beliefs are not provable per se, one can still use probablilities, sociohistoric knowledge, etc… and come to the conclusion that even if there were a Supreme Being, the likelihood of it being the Christian diety is no more probable than it being Danu, Zeus or any other of the myriad pantheons that have existed throughout human history.  The hubris of someone thinking that his religion is more “right” than another religion is somewhat ludicrous especially when viewed against the whole of human history.  For example, shinto started at least 500 years before Christianity.  The worship of Cernunnos probably stretches back thousands of years.  Which is “more” right?
      As for the Santa analogy, while one can explain how presents are under the tree, loss of the belief in Santa still means losing the belief in an omniscient (originally meant that in my previous post and used omnipotent instead- d’oh!) being who is magical and creates a wonderous sense about the holiday.  I didn’t mean that Santa couldn’t be disproved, merely that loss of faith in Santa is more analogous to losing faith in whatever the religion du jour is than you were acknowledging.

  37. I believe there is no god, and I can’t test that belief.  I believe the sun will come up tomorrow, and I can test that belief.

    Actually I believe that’s the difference between deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning.

    Just an aside.

  38. Warbi, I am derailing myself by using the word “compare” because I am actually thinking of science, that which discredits religious claims. Given that clarity, I still say my point is valid.

    As for Santa, “more analogous” I will give you, but I still think the glaring differences make that analogy unfair to the point it is insulting.

  39. Furthermore, finding out there is no Santa can be a bummer, but realizing there is no god can be devastating. I don’t know if you have directly or indirectly experienced that transition, but it can and often does completely fuck a person up for a while.

    Being born & raised Catholic, and now an atheist, I’d say I experienced it directly… and it didn’t fuck me up at all.  However, I understand what you’re saying and that it DOES totally blow some people’s mind when they realize they’ve been believing in fairy tales – and worse still that some of the people they trusted most worked the hardest to keep them ignorant of reality.

    In fact, if you think that realizing that God and Jesus are every bit as mythical as Odin, Ganesha or Santa Claus has the potential to be SO devastating to a person’s psyche, I’d say it’s downright CRUEL to desire that the default position, especially that of the GOVERNMENT, be in support of perpetuating the myth as reality.

    Again I’ll state that it’s not the adherence to religion of individuals I have a problem with, but the pervasiveness in this country of ONE religion’s views, including the indoctrination of our children (which I cannot abide) and the Christians’ employing the force of law to hold up their particular myths as beyond reproach.

    If a person sincerely believes Jesus is coming back, more power to ‘em.  I won’t laugh in their face or anything like that (in spite of how ludicrous I think that belief is) as long as they avoid going zealot on me.  However, if that person is actively seeking to change public policy in order to bring ABOUT the return of Jesus, I’ll only stop laughing at their beliefs long enough to fight tooth and nail to keep THEIR fantasies out of laws that apply to ME.

  40. Basically my position is exactly the same as Muriel Gray’s:

    For the government of a secular country such as ours to treat religion as if it had real merit instead of regarding it as a ridiculous anachronism, which education, wisdom and experience can hopefully overcome in time, is one of the most depressing developments of the 21st century. Religious people must be treated with the same respect as non-religious people, but their religions should quite properly be regarded with the weary contempt they deserve. Instead we have debates on TV news shows between hardline Muslim scholars and moderate Muslim politicians without any intervening voice of scepticism suggesting that the whole darned thing might be just as invented as virgin births and Mormon tablets.

    There simply aren’t enough “intervening voice[s] of scepticism” in the US.  And those that TRY to be are subject to ever-increasing attempts to gag them through legislation.  We shouldn’t stand for it, and many of us WON’T.

  41. Furthermore, finding out there is no Santa can be a bummer, but realizing there is no god can be devastating. I don’t know if you have directly or indirectly experienced that transition, but it can and often does completely fuck a person up for a while. (Justice)

    Yep.  That was exactly my experience.  The final realization that there is probably not a god was devastating to me some years back and for several years running.  That is because I had so. much. invested. in it.

    Children have less invested in the Santa myth, so there’s usually less trauma connected with its loss.  Christianity is a much bigger, more all-inclusive myth that is more deeply engrained in our culture and in the individual’s psyche.  The Christianity myth and the Santa myth are more different in size than in kind.

  42. Children have less invested in the Santa myth, so there’s usually less trauma connected with its loss.  Christianity is a much bigger, more all-inclusive myth that is more deeply engrained in our culture and in the individual’s psyche.  The Christianity myth and the Santa myth are more different in size than in kind.

    Well said.  It’s bound to be less traumatic to have a myth dispelled after 8 years of believing it to be true than it is after THIRTY-eight years (or whatever) of doing so, especially when you’re surrounded by people who refuse to call a spade a spade – or more correctly, a myth a myth.

    It is precisely for that reason that I find it appalling to see our government being used to help indoctrinate children into Christianity (or any other religion for that matter… but Christianity’s the one that’s propped up by the US government).

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