office tramp: I was replying to Mrs Thomas directly and quoting her directly. Let's not get distracted from the point here, which is that some anti-theists think that part of being a theist means rejecting science.
I am a theist, but I don't reject Darwinism or other branches of science, nor do I see any faith based reason to.
P. Dillon I think you are wrong. Atheism was an inherent part of communism and it probably crushed and killed more poeple than all the religious conflicts throughout history combined, many of them in the name of destroying religious belief (or was it just a coincidence that all those orthodox priests, imams and Buddhist monks were selected for the Gulag). morover, it wasn't only soviet communism that persecuted in the name of atheism - if you're in any doubt just read about the Dalai Lama in Tibet. Having said that, not everybody killed or opressed by communism was killed or oppressed in the name of atheism! Dawkins asserts Communism was so dogmatic it might as well have been a religion - very convenient, but given that he's trying to link such behaviour to theism, rather dishonest. You seem to imply that to be a theist is to be irrational and intolerant. I actually think ideological conflictn (which is what a religious war is) has a very sound Darwinian basis.
Anyway - you want to listen to yourself:
"just on the basis of Rushdie's fatwa, atheists have every right to crush EVERY religion."
Is that really the voice of atheist reason I hear?
Its really amazing that you choose to disallow T.Parsons encounter, if he says he had one hen he had one, even if it makes you uncomfortable. The issue is what and who do you believe? If you choose to believe that God doesn't exist then so be it. As for me and my house I'll serve the Lord as long as I live. Someone mentioned religion/faith as a crutch, well if we choose to use this as something to lean on to make us strong then this is our choice. The arguments for and against are all quite "intelligent" and well "wise" but God always uses the foolish to confound the wise. Whether heaven exists or not we'll all find out in due time. The most important thing like that lovely lady in a few threads before pointed out is RELATIONSHIP. Once you have that with God there is no debate. But it is quite an interesting thread and I hope all who have participated will have all their questions answered.
It is not dishonest to link theism and Communism. The point to be made is that Communist governments had to crush all religions as they were 'competition'. They wouldn't have been competition if Communism had not been a form of religion itself. 'Mother Russia' was a clear attempt to fill that earth goddess/woman of purity/caring mother character that is in virtually every religion. Communist states demanded an unquestioning obedience similar to that which you see in immature religions (medieval Christianity for example) and they enforced that obedience using fear of damnation - only it was damnation in this life not the next. Actually, I bet 'Siberia now' was more scary than 'Hell when you die in 40 years time'.
I was brought up as a Catholic and have a pretty good set of morals, I think, but many of them were learnt from my father who was not religious at all. He was just a good man. Why do so many religious people think they have the monopoly on morals? Before making the journey to atheism (via a number of theistic and agnostic waypoints), I witnessed plenty of immoral behaviour within the Christian church - nothing breeds hypocrites quite the way religion does.
"Why do so many religious people think they have the monopoly on morals?"
Wondering the same thing. I am an atheist, grew up a caring person with good morals....i am a better person and behave better then all my friends who call themselves christians. Christians that say morals derive from their religion are lame...if they are good people they will have good morals regardless if they are reliogous or not.
You guys are right. We atheists are constantly attacked, forced to defend our lack of belief. But when we question a believer they are suddenly filled with righteous indignation "Who are you to qestion my belief? You are merely an atheist, you do not believe so have no right to discuss belief!!!!" An idiot can be religious, and have no basis or thought process to his belief, but if you are an atheist then you had damn well better have some way to back it up!!!!
Christianity, Islam and Judaism are fictitious, factitious atavistic, contradictory, archaic texts (based on astrology actually) that encourage division, hatred, persecution, murder on an epic scale, rape, pillage and unbound fear. Treating thm as anything other than ancient, fictional literature (or poetry viz the Koran) is contemptable. By the way, I have a bible and a koran and read them so I my assertions are not unfounded. as a better man than me once said "We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love, one another."
It takes kids a few years to be disabused in some way of the belief in the absurd: the tooth fairy, Father Christmas, mosters under the bed etc. and they feel bad about it, Santa is a great thing to believe in, but they also feel enlightened. Why is taking us so long to shrug of equally the absurd myths of religion? Surely we are too old for that now?....
Science, Religion and Philosophy are all ways of telling a story, a story which we do not know the conclusion to. It is important to be skeptical about all three subject areas, after all humans are analytical creatures. The fundamental problem of all these prominent subject areas in society is that they try and answer questions which are far beyond the apparatus we have to answer these questions. The difference between religion and science is that the later promotes the idea of trying to gain the apparatus needed to answer the questions where as, religion inhibits learning thus starving human thought and answers to the questions. Therefore, the real argument is not related to who causes the most evil in the world, but which viewpoint inhibits learning and creates an anti-intellectual society. Steven hawking and Einstein are deists, when they talk of God they are not referring to the monotheist god of Abraham but the entity, not deity, which created the universe.
"This is a fundamental conflation, one of the many examples of poor logic displayed by theists. The existence or non-existence of god is a separate question from that of religion. You can have a god without there being religion. Religion is the organised worship of god by humans - organised, institutionalised, narrow-minded, brutal and crushing to human freedom."
I think I have a pretty good grasp of logic. Indeed, I think I probably have a better grasp of it than you and many other posters. I am also slightly amused by the fact that, in the same way that you feel we theists claim a 'monopoly on morals', you atheists claim a monopoly on intellect. You're not all that clever. Trust me -and if you don't believe me, take a look over your own arguments. They are full of assumption, ignorance and supposed (but not actual) intelligence.
My whole point about Einstein and Hawking was not about religion. It was about theism. Theism is a foundation for religion; without theism there can be no religion. So, in order to support my argument, demonstrating that theism is credible (because two of the greatest minds in scientific history support it) isn't a bad place to start.
I'm not saying atheists are immoral or amoral. I am putting forward the question: where do humans get their morals from? If you want a better irreligious answer than the ones that you've all been putting forward, try Joan Robinson's 'Economic Philosophy'. It provides an interesting and credible theory. I'm not closed minded. It's just that I seem to have been confronted with some incredibly pig headed responses, that haven't paid the slightest bit of attention to my first post.
The difference between me and many of you is this: I am standing up for my beliefs, whereas you are taking on the slightly larger (I would argue impossible) task of WRITING OFF religion and theism altogether. I am merely saying that there are two sides to the story, whereas you are reigning down on an entire concept, supported by millions upon millions of people through history; many of them far more intelligent than you or I. I'm not saying 'ATHEISM IS RIDICULOUS...YOUR BELIEFS ARE WRONG'. I'm saying that mine could well be right, and I believe they are...and who are any of you to tell me that they're not? Just accept that none of you have a deep enough understanding of science, psychology or philosophy to provide a definitive answer as to why we believe or whether God exists. I don't. Nobody in history ever has, and nobody ever will. So to only write or read books about why religion is wrong, evil etc is pointless and futile. You should instead try to broaden your mind and look at different points of view in order to give yourselves a fighting chance of making a sensible educated guess.
Alas, I don't think I or anybody else will ever make the 'Dillon' grade of intelligence...
Philosophy is not a way of telling a story...think about what you've just said. I think to bunch 'science, religion and philosophy' under one rather crude definition is slightly silly and doesn't do your credibility any favours.
Einstein was most certainly not a theist, he was a deist. There is a very big difference.
The thing I find most fascinating about God, is he always seems to agree with the person claiming a personal relationship with him. He agreed with George Bush and Tony Blair about invading Iraq, he agreed that Hitler was doing his work by murdering the jews, he agrees with the West Boro Baptist Church, when they picket the funerals of dead soldiers, with their hate slogans.
Someone on my msn list had their screen name set to "With God, anything is possible". Although they were using the screen name to display their religious beliefs, I found the other possible interpretations interesting. It seems to me that people saying that because they are somehow know they are doing god's will, that that somehow validates their actions.
Hi Dr Tatham. I am probably joining this exchange far too late to be of any use, but here goes... I wanted to address the issue of 'fear' as a 'tactic' for leading us to God, as there are different ways of viewing this. On a purely human level, one could cite the example of the Government's TV ad's portraying circumstances where using a mobile phone whilst driving leads to fatal consequences. Or, when I was teaching, showing the kids colour photos of lung cancers in order to dissuade them from the dangerous habit of smoking. Or, perhaps more commonly, my GP talking about the dangers of diabetes unless I change my diet. Now, these are perfectly valid uses of 'fear' in order to help me to change my habits or lifestyle. I wonder if this is the way it is used in the Bible. Christ uses the term 'Gehenna' to describe 'Hell' - it is a picture of the city refuse tip outside the wall of Jerusalem in the Valley of Hinnom. It would have been for his listeners a compelling word-picture. He doesn't beat them over the head with it, but I suspect that the end result would have been that a proportion of those listening would have concluded: "that's one place I don't want to go". Throughout the Bible, the same kind of approach is manifest - there are consequences to our lifestyle choices now: if we wish to live lives which exclude our Creator, he will simply make that condition permanent after death. And the counterbalancing truth is always evident also: it does not have to be that way. Hope this is helpful. Regards, Kevin
I know of absolutely no basis for your contention that atheists are any less moral than religious people nor, perhaps more importantly, that without religion no alternative source of moral derivation would exist.
K.Moss, I was reading your post and was starting to like your reasoning in explaining why fear is sometimes used for a person's own good/health. But you made a big mistake with the sentence "......our Creator, he will simply make that condition permanent after death.". This completely destroyed your argument; The people that give produce/use the photos of lung cancer(and the other examples you use) are explaining to people the likely consequences of their own actions. They are not saying "If you smoke I am ,personally, going to make you get cancer." Unlike your example of fear based religion which says "If you do not believe in me I am, personally, going to make you go to hell.". These are two very diffirent uses of fear tactics and one cannot be used to justify the other.
Bezzer: "It is not dishonest to link theism and Communism. The point to be made is that Communist governments had to crush all religions as they were 'competition'. They wouldn't have been competition if Communism had not been a form of religion itself."
Excellent point. In addition, many make the mistake of equating religion with atheism. Religion is a set of beliefs and practices useful for everyday life, distinct from simple theism. Atheism is a lack of belief in gods, the counter-part of theism, which is not nearly the same thing as religion.
One pits theism against atheism. One pits religion against, say, humanism. It is unfair, uninformed, dishonest, or purely ignorant to equate atheism with religion. Blaming atheism for the excesses of Hitler or Pol Pot or Stalin is like blaming deism for the Inquisition. Religion is to blame for the Inquisition, not belief in a god.
None of the atheist dictators embraced humanism, or a sceptical, rational world view. There are plenty evil people who believe in a god. Religious people would be quick to point out that their "religion" is not right, not their belief that there is a god, or gods. Similarly, religious people should realize that non-belief in a god, or gods, is not the problem with Hitlers and Stalins and Pol Pots (there are plenty non-believers who are good): it is their non-rational and non-humanistic world view that is at fault.
Ask any educated and proud atheist and they will tell you their moral fibre does not stem from atheism per se, but from secular and humanistic philosophies that provide a moral tapestry as rich as any religion may provide. Atheism may as well describe the colour of their shoes. As moral beings, they look to other areas than theism/atheism for their guidance.
In summary, if you confront a religious person with an example of another religious person who was demonstrably an evil, or a bad person, they would answer that those people were not "true" Christians/Muslims/Believers/etc. So, George Bush professes to be Christian but many Christians believe he is not a true Christian. But he believes in God. So, believing in God is no guarantee of goodness. In the same way, not believing in God (atheism) is no guarantee of goodness (or badness).
Believing in God and being a bad person does not mean believing in God is bad. In the same way, not believing in God and being a bad person does not mean not believing in God is bad. Get it? The religious would say, oh, but if you have the correct belief in God then you will be good, etc... In the same way, atheists point out that if you have the correct atheistic beliefs then you will be good. The correct atheistic beliefs according to me are Humanist.
So, if anyone can give me a single example of a secular humanist atheist who did bad things, they may have a point. Until then, they don't, because Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot were all revered as gods in their own time and had nothing to do with secular humanism. They inculcated personal worship and submission amongst their slavish followers (overwhelmingly Christian in the case of Hitler) and exemplified many of the traits of cult worship and religious following.
Besides, Hitler could not have accomplished what he did without almost two millennia of Christian theology that demonized Jews as the "Christ killers." Pogroms against the Jews were no stranger to Europe by the time Hitler came along, and we must acknowledge there is no reason to hate Jews as Christian Europe did (or anywhere else for that matter), if it were not for religion.
but wouldn't the same thing apply when the big bang theory is taught to children as an unquestionalbe truth. and before you comment against that im not saying i agree or disagree with the big bang theory, im just saying that it is the same as teaching religion. only when religion is taught it is not taught to be true and all religions are included
i have had the oposite experience in my life. you see, many people i have know in my life have turned to religion and have never looked back. the change in there lives and their personalities is remarkable, and i know many many Christian scientists who have never once had anything challenge thier Christian beliefs. for someone to turn from religion means that they were never really religious to start with, for if they were they would never cast off the fantastic feeling that true religion brings
but people do violent acts in the name of everything, just taking religious people out of the equation wouldn't solve anything, another group would just rise up and take there place. and extremists are in the major minority, what about all the other religious people who live their lives peacfully, you seem to be forgetting them. and anyone who sins in Gods name is not truly religious. if they were they would follow thier own teachings and react to situations peacfully. its not that people manipulate the texts to suit themselves, it's because people twist the words of others, and what to you mean 'most major religious groups do?' i don't know anyone who has done that. and people are manipulated all the time, and not just by religious people, i have never felt manipulated by a religious people. but i have felt manipulated by non religious people.
religion often contributes to modern science. we have a few scientiest in our Church, a few work and creating medicines and the rest are physisists. im not sure exactly what they do, but i could find out if you want
with regards to the HIV thing, (a) it is only one church not all of them and b, it doesn't show that they are incompatible, it just shows that no one is perfect or all knowing, im sure you agree with that right??
i dont think that the bible is threatening us, i think it is tring to warn us, the same way you would warn your children not to stick their fingers in the plug sockets. after all, if we were never told about hell people would start to think that you would go to heaven regardless, which wouldn't be true. and would cause many problems. and the kind of being is the kind who created us and has given us everything we love. i know it's hard to understand unconditional love as it is impossible with other humans. but i promise you, if you become a true Christian you will understand, and will know that you can't help but give God unconditional love, he is just too amazing!! (and i know that sounds crazt but it's true!!)