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Unity of Science and Faith

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posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 12:24 AM
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originally posted by: scorpio84
a reply to: Ghost147
I was going to counter-argue this, but then I remembered Buddhism.


True


originally posted by: scorpio84
a reply to: Ghost147
Does this mean you believe in a soul? What is your understanding of ghosts (not to sidetrack the discussion, but I'm curious)?


I personally do not believe in a soul. I do, however, see that once brainwaves are formed, they always continue to exist, but simply dissipate. It could very well be a possibility that what we are seeing is some sort of manifestation of these brainwaves, perhaps even consciousness. Of course, if this were to be true, then like all things that were previously thought as a supernatural incident (sunrise, for example) would then on be a natural one.

Again, it's all up for supposition do the the lack of an available way to repeatedly test the phenomena accurately. Still, I don't see the need for the existence of ghosts to require a 'soul' as defined by religion or some spiritual views.

In the end, it's a complicated and inconclusive answer to that question, at this point in time.


originally posted by: scorpio84
a reply to: Ghost147
I can understand an atheist not believing in that which isn't observable. However, how does one believe in ghosts, alien abductions, etc., yet reject god as implausible?


Because there are events that seem to have no other explanation other then a strong suggestion that would give the cases you've listed some minor credibility. I would never claim with entire certainty that either of those things, as we know them, are absolutely fact. But there are indeed tidbits that suggest what was witnessed may likely be the things in question.

God, as an explanation, or a plausibility, has none of these attributes, and the information that we do have often does explain those events away from a natural perspective. Or at the very least, unnecessary of a god's involvement.




posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 12:53 AM
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originally posted by: scorpio84
a reply to: Ghost147
Love God and love they neighbor. Where is the absurdity in this? If you want, we could ignore the "god" part and just say "love your neighbor, i.e. fellow human."


I was referring to the bible in general. I completely agree with some points it makes, including the one you mentioned. However, I could list hundreds upon hundreds of incidences that are just horribly immoral, both for humanity to follow, and from the choices god made. Far more, in fact, than I can list the positive remarks. Not only that, but things that are demonstrously horrible.

Things like:

~ God accepting human sacrifices
~ God allowing rape
~ God giving people to rape as a reward
~ No real punishment for raping a woman
~ Rape and Spoils of War
~ Sex Slaves
~ God actually assisting in rapes
~ Instructions to Kill: People who don't listen, Witches, Homosexuals, Fortunatellers, people who hit their fathers, people who curse their parents, adultery, fornication, people who follow other religions, people who are non believers, false prophets, the entire town if one single person believes in a different god, Women who are not virgins, People who work on the sabeth, and on and on.
~ Slavery is rampant throughout the bible
~ Natural disasters are a good thing
~ Prayer cures the sick (this is a deplorable notion)
~ Praise for mass slaughter

and yes, I can go on and on.

Virtually the only positive things in the bible, are already so incredibly obvious that they are practically moot points.


originally posted by: scorpio84
a reply to: Ghost147
It's just that for some reason it makes more sense to me to think of the universe as being conscious than to think of a time when there was no matter and no consciousness and then matter came into being, then after eons, conscious beings. Maybe simpler to say would be it makes more sense to me that there has always been consciousness, rather than to tie it to the material and say it came about randomly.


So you don't accept Evolution then? or abiogenesis? or the big bang?

Just as a note, there was matter before the big bang. The universe is never said to have come from nothing, it was said to have come from an extremely compressed singularity, that expanded rapidly within a short period of time. To my knowledge, no scientific hypothesis exists that attempts to explain what was before the big bang.


originally posted by: scorpio84
a reply to: Ghost147
I'm typing this reply right now - that is a natural process. Explaining this process would belong to various disciplines of science. Theology - at least as I studied it - could be described mostly in terms of philosophy and literary analysis. I think when it comes down to it, theology is concerned with answering "what did God want us to understand?" - or perhaps even better - how exactly did the authors of these books intend them to be read?


That doesn't really answer my question. If god is guiding or creating nature, then he is impacting it and involved with it in some way or another. Which would impede on what we see in scientific studies. So how do you distinguish a deity's actions from a natural one?


originally posted by: scorpio84
a reply to: Ghost147
Very true. I think, then, the first response of the atheist to a theist should not be "god does not exist" but rather a question in the form of "when you say 'god' exists, what do you mean by god?"


Except the vast majority of theists have a personified view of god. There's no catering to everyone.

And to those that claim the extremely vague description of god, the topic is already meaningless from it's core because the claim is empty to begin with.


originally posted by: scorpio84
a reply to: Ghost147
To be fair to the Bible, translations don't exactly capture the meaning accurately. Even the very first line of Genesis contains an error in translation.


I'm well aware of that, but there is no way to form an entire book on a gods actions without personifying that god in one way or another. If there is any action at all made by god to affect the physical realm, we can argue against it with what we can naturally observe.



originally posted by: scorpio84
a reply to: Ghost147
You mean some people don't know when to stop applying their religious views to natural matters? If that's the case, I'd agree.


No. I meant what I stated literally.

You yourself don't seem to be able to explain what god effects and what it doesn't effect without god intruding on nature. If god's just "there, in everything" then that's irrefutable (it's an empty statement that holds no weight on anything, but it's irrefutable), but if it pushes or pulls or creates something in the natural realm, it intrudes on nature and we can explain it away.


originally posted by: scorpio84
a reply to: Ghost147
I wonder if you are making the same sort of mistake I did in lumping atheism and science together. Just as an atheist can believe in "pseudoscience" and theologian can be an atheist - or, in my case, agnostic.


Yes, my mistake, i did not mean 'theism'. Also, if you believe in any form of god, you're no longer agnostic.



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 01:32 AM
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a reply to: scorpio84


The inability/unwillingness of atheists to argue theological topics within the framework of theology is despised by theists, I'm sure.

Since an unwillingness (or inability) to argue theological topics is not a moral failing, there is no reason apart from prejudice and resentment for believers to despise it — so I would argue that such thinking is further evidence of moral mala fides on the part of some believers.

Allow me to speak clearly: I myself am what you would call an agnostic, but only in the very weak sense that it is impossible to know whether or not a sentient being of some kind created and/or sustains the universe. Science has shown us, to a very high degree of credibility, that such a being is not necessary to explain the universe. Therefore, as Prezbo has been trying to explain to you, there is no reason to invoke one. You have surely heard of Occam's Razor. But that, as you very astutely point out, is no reason to suggest that there isn't a God; just that there doesn't have to be one.

Commencing from this premise, we may examine the idea of God, using your favourite intellectual discipline, theology. As Prezbo also pointed out, it has existed for two thousand years (nothing to do with Creationism; more to do with the actual history of theology, which is about 2,500 years old) without achieving one generally (I do not say universally) accepted conclusion. So perhaps it would be best to examine God using metaphysics, ontology and ethics, as the philosophers do.

In my view, and that of many others, the concept of God breaks down into illogic under the application of any and all these disciplines. To my mind, as you may have gathered from my earlier posts, I find Epicurus's objections sum up the position nicely:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?


If you can provide a clear and consistent answer to his observations, one that does not haver and equivocate as all theology does, then reply to this. If you cannot (and I would be very surprised indeed if you — or anyone — could) please do not bother.


edit on 27/11/15 by Astyanax because: of a typo.



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 01:49 AM
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a reply to: scorpio84


Why would God need to renew Himself? I think I explained that God is the sum totality. The dead cells merely change form - they don't cease to exist. If you use terminology such as "the divine sloughs bits of itself off" then it means you are arguing specifically against the notion of a god separate from its creation, does it not?

I will treat this as honest confusion rather than bad faith.

If God is the sum totality, then God is the Universe. Pantheism indeed.

Your conception of God is pantheistic. That, unless you want to get into some very esoteric hairsplitting, implies that God is immanent in Creation. So whatever sloughs off God is part of Himself. And in neither the Spinozan nor the Liebnizian concept of pantheism — not even in Gnosticism, for heaven's sake — do these bits ever cease to be divine.

I am not arguing against the notion of a god separate from its creation; the 'terminology' I used was based on an image you provided — dead cells washing off a man in a shower. Pantheism was implied... by you.

As I said before, please be careful. I will not discuss anything with someone who stoops to deceit.


Which image?

The one you brought up, and then falsely attributed to me. Dead cells washing off in the shower.


What would you like me to explain?

How you square a pantheistic conception of the divine with a belief in objects (dead skin cells, suffering innocents) that are not, or no longer, divine, and can be cast heedlessly away by Old Nobodaddy as he cavorts in the shower.



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 01:53 AM
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a reply to: scorpio84


Love God and love they neighbor. Where is the absurdity in this?

Try the Book of Genesis. For full impact, I recommend the R. Crumb Illustrated Edition.



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 08:04 AM
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a reply to: Ghost147




~ God accepting human sacrifices



When? There is no human sacrifice in the Bible. There was one example of God testing the faith of Abraham, but He stopped the sacrifice from going through.

The rest of the examples you give have less to do with God commanding something and more with Jews being victorious in battle and using God as justification either deceitfully or because they were mistaken in thinking he wanted them to do those things. What comes from God in the OT would be the 10 commandments and the promise to Israel. Of course, whether or not those things come from God or were simply attributed to God is up for debate. However, regardless of where the 10 commandments originate - that is where the morality is. The other things - murder, rape, slavery - are a historical account of what happened. Slightly divergent but still relevant, I find it a bit interesting that we find these things in the Bible. After all, "history is written by the winners." It seems odd that the Old Testament would contain a record of the atrocities carried out by the Jews. To me, this would make sense if it were written partially as a confessional.




Virtually the only positive things in the bible, are already so incredibly obvious that they are practically moot points.


I agree that for us they are. However, what about for those who were the contemporaries of the authors? Maybe saying "God says not to kill" was the only way to get people to stop wanton murder.




So you don't accept Evolution then? or abiogenesis? or the big bang?


I'm fairly ignorant of them (as far as the specifics) - but I do accept them.




Just as a note, there was matter before the big bang. The universe is never said to have come from nothing, it was said to have come from an extremely compressed singularity, that expanded rapidly within a short period of time. To my knowledge, no scientific hypothesis exists that attempts to explain what was before the big bang.


Matter or energy that had yet to be converted to matter? Not sure if these are considered hypotheses or just explanations, but they're scientific all the same: cyclic model and ekpyrotic universe.




That doesn't really answer my question. If god is guiding or creating nature, then he is impacting it and involved with it in some way or another. Which would impede on what we see in scientific studies. So how do you distinguish a deity's actions from a natural one?



In my interpretation of the scriptures, God is not separate from His creation. Your question stems from the idea of a God separate from us - creating everything, watching over us. My own reading of scriptures and an unwillingness to ignore things like evolution and the big bang brings me pretty much on the side of monism, with consciousness being the monad, so to speak. However, this is what makes the most sense based on scriptures (from various traditions) and other disciples. Now, if you were to ask an explanation for people getting taller, I would look to science as a way to explain it. The "divine" part comes in with the idea of eternal existence.




Except the vast majority of theists have a personified view of god. There's no catering to everyone.

And to those that claim the extremely vague description of god, the topic is already meaningless from it's core because the claim is empty to begin with



I would say most descriptions I've heard/read about God are personal and vague. The best example I can think of is when people shop for religions, looking for the one that is most convenient to them.




I'm well aware of that, but there is no way to form an entire book on a gods actions without personifying that god in one way or another.


Personification makes God easier to understand - particularly to the scientifically ignorant (or should I say those ignorant about science). Also, I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the language used to describe much of theology (which we get from the Greek philosophers of antiquity) was missing. Of course, there is an entire evolution of god from being pretty much little more than a superhuman to being a transcendent immaterial being.




You yourself don't seem to be able to explain what god effects and what it doesn't effect without god intruding on nature.


Probably because I don't see the conflict. A tree grows. Even if I were to take the Creationist view that God made the tree grow, why couldn't I also study botany and learn the exact processes that went on during its growth.




Also, if you believe in any form of god, you're no longer agnostic.


Very true. I believe in possibilities. Maybe there's a god and maybe there isn't.



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 08:35 AM
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a reply to: Astyanax




If God is the sum totality, then God is the Universe. Pantheism indeed.


Wrong, monism. Still, don't confuse this for my personal "belief" which is that maybe god exists and maybe god doesn't exist.

The whole thing with the dead cell analogy was to try to explain the idea of God not caring.




That, unless you want to get into some very esoteric hairsplitting, implies that God is immanent in Creation. So whatever sloughs off God is part of Himself.


There is no "sloughing" off. This implies a separation.




I am not arguing against the notion of a god separate from its creation; the 'terminology' I used was based on an image you provided — dead cells washing off a man in a shower.


I think I already said when I sent the analogy that it is a bad one. Nonetheless, in your replies in this thread and others you work from the basis that the god being discussed is one separate from creation - the "bearded man in the sky" model.




As I said before, please be careful. I will not discuss anything with someone who stoops to deceit.



Have I dealt with you deceitfully? If I have not fully answered your questions or given half-answers, let me know specifically what you want answered. Actually, I'll make a more appropriate thread for that.




The one you brought up, and then falsely attributed to me. Dead cells washing off in the shower.



I attributed nothing to you. It was my analogy. I'm sure you are aware of the "impersonal you" used in English.




How you square a pantheistic conception of the divine with a belief in objects (dead skin cells, suffering innocents) that are not, or no longer, divine, and can be cast heedlessly away by Old Nobodaddy as he cavorts in the shower.



When you use words such as "Old Nobodaddy" it tells me you are interested not in learning new viewpoints, but in simply espousing your own position. This would also seem to be backed up by the "mind firmly closed" under your ATS nickname. So, one could question that if you are not open to other perspectives and changing your mind - what is the purpose of you even entering the debate?

However, the entire point I'm getting at is that expecting god to care about individual parts is like expecting you to care about cells that flake off. It's not an exact analogy, but I thought you would still understand the meaning. Apparently not - so I'll try to explain it again, this time without an analogy.

Imagine, if you will, that god permeates everything - we'll just go with pantheism on this one. In this view God is everything - so the question of caring, in the sense of a parent caring for their child, doesn't come into play.




Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?


Simple. Evil doesn't exist.

So, does this mean I think child murder is good? No. It's something that happens. Things like "good" and "evil" are only applicable subjectively - objectively they don't exist.

Let's take the example of child murder - most of us (myself included) would consider the act heinous and probably call it "evil." However, for the killer, perhaps it was "good."

The other argument I've seen against this is summed up in two words: free will. That is god can stop evil and even is willing to do so, but simply won't. Anyhow, I'm not that up to date on the free will argument - my personal argument is that evil doesn't exist and the supposed quagmire from Epicurus is moot - somewhat like asking "what is the best type of hay for a unicorn?"



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 08:40 AM
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originally posted by: Astyanax
a reply to: scorpio84


Love God and love they neighbor. Where is the absurdity in this?

Try the Book of Genesis. For full impact, I recommend the R. Crumb Illustrated Edition.


Or you could try telling me what you find absurd in love god and love your neighbor?

I've read Genesis. It's required reading when studying theology. Did you wish to not answer the question and instead tell me something you think is absurd about Genesis? By all means - pick a passage you don't understand.



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 11:48 AM
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originally posted by: scorpio84
a reply to: Prezbo369

This type of statement shows that you really do not know much or anything about theology. The "2,000 years" is used time and again by people who assume theology=Creationism.


Creationism?...no I was talking about Christianity, why would you assume I was talking about creationism? You do know that creationism is a modern invention right?



Are you talking about theology books as in works by theologians or do you mean scriptures? If the former, theology is an evolving discipline - people learn more about something (perhaps through language, archaeology, etc) or new readings bring about new interpretations. It's not like theologians think that one person has the definitive answers - closed-mindedness and theology don't go hand in hand. If you mean the latter, then would you give me an example of the author of one scripture rejecting the author of another?


Yeah theology is a regular information highway....

Very very little if anything at all has been revealed or discovered in the theological world over the last 2 millenia unlike other academic fields.



That's your opinion and you are welcome to it. For some people, theology is a way to gain a deeper understanding of God and their religion (as well as other religions). For others (and I would be in this category) it is a way to gain a deeper insight into culture, a greater understanding for traditions, and a way to explore possibilities not open to science. However, if you mean "unproductive" in that it has not produced anything tangible in the way chemistry has, for example, then I'd have to concede the point. However, if you mean it is worthless, we'll agree to disagree on that point.


Like I said earlier, theology does nothing that cannot be done i other fields. All it does it produce new interpretations, which are also done each every time someone opens a religious book.



No, theology brings interpretation to the table. Furthermore, "tales" is a dismissive term that shows you are making an assumption that really should not be made.


Until the aforementioned burden of proof is met, the claims made in such holy books can only be put down to tales and myths.



Sometimes, vocabulary is important. I never used the term "non-existent" - and for a reason. Non-existence does not seem possible.


I was asking how you would be able to distinguish between an 'unseen world' and one that doesn't exist.


You could say:
1). Nothing exists.
2). Nothing is real.
3). Non-existence exists.
4). Non-existence is real
etc.

No matter how you phrase it, you have the idea of non-existence "being." And if something is "being" then it exists. Even when we die, we don't cease to exist - we simply change. Now, whether that be in the sense we have souls that are set free to another reality/dimension - or simply in the sense that information is never lost, I couldn't say for any certainty.


It was the concept of non-existence, and just because you can conceptualize something it doesn't mean it does exists.

And you were making an assumption here that shouldn't really be made...

And you still haven't cleared up whatever point it was you were attempting to make in regards to faith and science...



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 01:02 PM
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a reply to: scorpio84


It's an issue but not the issue. For as many theists who make fanciful claims about nature based on an (incorrect) literal approach to their holy book there are just as many atheists claiming god doesn't exist due to lack of evidence and being unfalsifiable.

I disagree, just given the sheer number of theists there are when compared to atheists. I've met very few gnostic atheists in my time. It probably looks that way from both sides because, after all, it's typically the science-denying fundamentalist theists and the god-denying anti-theist atheists that tend to be the most vocal.



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 04:13 PM
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a reply to: Prezbo369




Creationism?...no I was talking about Christianity, why would you assume I was talking about creationism? You do know that creationism is a modern invention right?


Hm, my mistake then.




Very very little if anything at all has been revealed or discovered in the theological world over the last 2 millenia unlike other academic fields.



Wrong.




Like I said earlier, theology does nothing that cannot be done i other fields. All it does it produce new interpretations, which are also done each every time someone opens a religious book.



The problem is, most people do not have a clue how to interpret whichever books. That is why you get questions like "what made God" or "what was before the beginning". False interpretation is responsible for much false believe about the scriptures. Whether or not you think theology produces anything, what it does do is give a better understanding of what one is talking about when engaging in a discussion on the holy books.




Until the aforementioned burden of proof is met, the claims made in such holy books can only be put down to tales and myths.



The burden of proof demand is circular. If the claim "god exists" is unfalsifiable, wouldn't laying the burden of proof on that claimant be pointless?




I was asking how you would be able to distinguish between an 'unseen world' and one that doesn't exist.


We'd know nothing about a world that doesn't exist. Anyhow, while I think monism makes the most sense, I also think there's something to nihilism.




It was the concept of non-existence, and just because you can conceptualize something it doesn't mean it does exists.



Such as?





And you still haven't cleared up whatever point it was you were attempting to make in regards to faith and science...


From the OP? Simple. Theology and science should stay in their respective realms - theology in interpreting religious works of literature and working to make sense of God (better yet our relation to Him) and science in studying natural processes.

Of course, for a person who does not believe in God or have a curiosity as to what the scriptures say or don't want to know about any particular religion, theology is pointless. Pointless or not, the premise of the OP stands: they should not be in conflict. If you choose to think one particular pathway of knowledge is useless, that's on you. Theists are sometimes guilty of the same thing when they ignore science, accepting only one path of knowledge.



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 04:15 PM
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a reply to: iterationzero




it's typically the science-denying fundamentalist theists and the god-denying anti-theist atheists that tend to be the most vocal.


True.



posted on Nov, 28 2015 @ 03:05 AM
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a reply to: scorpio84


Wrong, monism.

Effectively the same, it seems to me. Except for that talk about consciousness; I have never understood in what sense a gecko-dropping or a trouser button can be described as conscious.


In my interpretation of the scriptures, God is not separate from His creation. Your question stems from the idea of a God separate from us - creating everything, watching over us. My own reading of scriptures and an unwillingness to ignore things like evolution and the big bang brings me pretty much on the side of monism, with consciousness being the monad, so to speak. However, this is what makes the most sense based on scriptures (from various traditions) and other disciples. Now, if you were to ask an explanation for people getting taller, I would look to science as a way to explain it. The "divine" part comes in with the idea of eternal existence.

This conception of God is a useful one, since it has no practical or ethical implications for a believer. Sadly it is also a rather ineffectual one, since it denies the believer any of the emotional benefits commonly sought in religion, and offers, moreover, no moral guidance -- something else people look to religion for. Its sole virtue is that it is not scientifically absurd.

It's true that theodicy is not an issue with this kind of 'God' -- until you attribute consciousness to it in some shape or form. But yes, philosophical pantheism (or monism, if you prefer) is not in conflict with science because it makes no predictions about the world.

But what does it profit us to achieve a concordat between science and religion at the price of eviscerating the latter?

And since you do invoke consciousness, Epicurus's words still apply.


edit on 28/11/15 by Astyanax because: of some tidying up.



posted on Nov, 28 2015 @ 04:16 AM
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a reply to: Astyanax




Sadly it is also a rather ineffectual one, since it denies the believer any of the emotional benefits commonly sought in religion, and offers, moreover, no moral guidance -- something else people look to religion for.


I can't know for sure if monism is true, but to me it is far more plausible. Furthermore, it may not be appealing for the reasons you've stated, but it'd be better than a false security.




Its sole virtue is that it is not scientifically absurd.


I disagree. If, in the hypothetical world, we could prove monism - heck, even if everyone just believed in monism, I think we would have more unity in the world. Religion - the kind that offers the cozy feelings - seems to me to be a source of divisiveness.




But what does it profit us to achieve a concordat between science and religion at the price of eviscerating the latter?



In my personal view, beliefs about God aside, I think we would profit a great deal if religion were not only eviscerated, but abolished and relegated into obscurity for all future generations. Would you like me to expound on this view?




And since you do invoke consciousness, Epicurus's words still apply.



Explain. I don't get what consciousness has to do with the non-existence of good and evil.



posted on Nov, 29 2015 @ 03:05 AM
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a reply to: scorpio84


In my personal view, beliefs about God aside, I think we would profit a great deal if religion were not only eviscerated, but abolished and relegated into obscurity for all future generations. Would you like me to expound on this view?

Not particularly. Most broadminded, educated people are aware of the misunderstanding, social polarization, stereotyping and stigmatization, violent persecution and repression, etc., associated with religion.

But people still more broadminded and knowledgeable will understand that religion (and I do mean religion, not God or even mere belief in the divine) offers very important personal benefits and consolations. Yes, they may be largely illusory, little more than fine words and pious hopes. Nevertheless, they are of enormous value, even indispensable, to many; and I suspect that all of us, even the most uncompromising atheist, will have benefited from them, if only at second-hand, some time or other. I may be an atheist or the next nearest thing to one, but I am very far from believing that religion should be abolished. Most people would be incapable of living without it. Societies would have to become even more repressive than they are now, just to maintain public order.

I even acknowledge the truth of an argument sometimes often offered by the religious as justifaction for their faith, and invariably pooh-poohed by atheists: religion helps people know right from wrong.

Yes, of course it does so very imperfectly and inadequately (your earlier defence of the Book of Genesis notwithstanding). In every religious tradition, good moral instruction is blent with a lot of evil — see, for example, the Ten Commandments, of which the first five are not moral in the slightest, but are intended to reinforce the prevailing social order among the Hebrews, while even the genuinely 'moral' commandments are mostly about the recognition of property rights. And yes, it is true that decent, civilized, intelligent people require no help from religion to know right from wrong. But I suspect that is it only such uncommon folk who can successfully formulate a personal ethics without the help of religion. The great mass of humanity simply cannot. To keep themselves out of trouble, they need the moral guidance provided by religion — as well as other authorities, such as parents, teachers and the law.

Finally, it should not be forgotten that religion clearly offers believers some evolutionary benefit, or is the side-effect of another trait that does. Were it not so, the religious impulse would not be so nearly universal among members of our species. We would do well to discover what this benefit is, and how religion connects to it, before we talk of abolishing the latter.


I don't get what consciousness has to do with the non-existence of good and evil.

The way the universe is set up, pain and suffering are inevitable, and so is our consciousness of it. To knowingly cause suffering and pain is an evil act. To knowingly create a universe in which they are inevitable has to be the worst of all crimes.

Perhaps there are mitigating circumstances we know nothing of, but that is really no excuse, unless God wishes us to think Him either evil or nonexistent.

How it applies to the Epicurean riddle is very simple: if 'God' is merely a sentient universe, conscious but helpless, bound by the laws that bind all matter and energy, then It is not omnipotent, and the evil and suffering that appear in the world cannot be blamed on It. God is innocent.

And if God the Universe is held to be sentient only because conscious intelligences inhabit it, then it becomes the responsibility of those individual intelligences (ie you and me) to set the universe right: to abolish pain, suffering and death in order to redeem the universe. We, as God's eyes, ears, hands and feet, are the only possible executors of the task. A noble programme indeed, though it is hard to say how it might be carried out, since at present we can't even refrain from doing evil ourselves. As Nietzsche put it, we stare into the abyss and it stares back at us.

But if God is held to have consciously created the universe, then, whatever God is, God is responsible for the evil in it. And if He is omniscient and omnipotent, there is no reason for him to have created the universe the way it is. He could have made us all live on moonlight if He wished. But instead we must kill to live — all of us, save the plants.

Le bon Dieu, est-ce que c'est possible q'uil est rien mais un gros légume?


edit on 29/11/15 by Astyanax because: of typos.



posted on Nov, 29 2015 @ 08:12 AM
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a reply to: Astyanax

I agree some good has come from religious organizations, but I don't think it is as a result of religion - rather the result of a particular group of people working together. It is a wholly unnecessary institution.




But people still more broadminded and knowledgeable will understand that religion (and I do mean religion, not God or even mere belief in the divine) offers very important personal benefits and consolations.


So, you are arguing that groups can offer support. Okay, I'll agree.




Nevertheless, they are of enormous value, even indispensable, to many; and I suspect that all of us, even the most uncompromising atheist, will have benefited from them, if only at second-hand, some time or other.


This is where we part company. To me, religions are of zero value. Religion is not necessary for people to work together. People naturally form groups and working together is part of the social contract. Have people working in the name of a certain religion done good things? Of course - I don't dispute that one bit. Was that religion necessary or "indispensable" in order for them to do those good things? Absolutely not.




Most people would be incapable of living without it. Societies would have to become even more repressive than they are now, just to maintain public order.


Why do you think that abolishing religion would lead to some sort of clusterf*ck necessitating repressive laws? Are you arguing that there are people who can know right from wrong if and only if they learn it from a religion (as opposed to their parents)?




religion helps people know right from wrong.


It's a slippery slope from this to saying "morality comes from God."




But I suspect that is it only such uncommon folk who can successfully formulate a personal ethics without the help of religion.


Morality comes from necessity. It's part of social contract. It goes back to the question of if you could make yourself invisible, would you steal?




Were it not so, the religious impulse would not be so nearly universal among members of our species.


Religion makes things simpler and we are hard-wired for laziness.




The way the universe is set up, pain and suffering are inevitable, and so is our consciousness of it.


We assume here that pain and suffering exist or are distinct. One person's pain may be another person's pleasure.




How it applies to the Epicurean riddle is very simple:


If you assume good/evil to actually exist as a dichotomy.




And if God the Universe is held to be sentient only because conscious intelligences inhabit it, then it becomes the responsibility of those individual intelligences (ie you and me) to set the universe right: to abolish pain, suffering and death in order to redeem the universe.


...and if it is not our responsibility, then it would be God's responsibility - and we know how good of a job He is doing with this.




But instead we must kill to live — all of us, save the plants.



Not all plants...

Good post and interesting. I agree with your points mostly - we just differ, I think, on the notion of whether or not religion is necessary. You seem to be saying that for the majority - it is. I argue that it isn't and that those who get their morality from religion would get it elsewhere. The vast majority of people would not kill even if there were no laws prohibiting it. I think this has more to do with us being social animals than it does with any religion.



posted on Nov, 30 2015 @ 09:41 AM
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a reply to: scorpio84


So, you are arguing that groups can offer support. Okay, I'll agree.

That's part of it, but it wasn't uppermost in my mind. I was speaking of personal, private consolation. Prayer, meditation, confession, comfort from sayings and scriptures. Ways of understanding and coming to terms with personal tragedy. 'Justifying God's ways to Man'. That sort of thing.

Concerning the support offered by 'groups', I'm not sure whether you mean people rallying round in times of crisis (which is what it sounds like) or whether you refer to the way in which religion becomes a component of personal identity — one that confers both the security of belonging and the pride of standing for something. The first is, as you say, perfectly achievable under secular conditions. But so, for that matter, is the second — in armies and even more so in elite units within an army, within sports teams and among their fans, among racist groups, among the alumni of certain academies and institutions, etc. This kind of identification can easily be turned to evil ends, as everybody knows, by religious organizations as well as by secular ones. But that is only one side of the story. It also massively promotes cooperation and expedition: it gets things done. And it makes people feel good. So it's not going to vanish from the world because some of us wish it would go away.

What I am trying to convey here is that religion, bad as it can be, isn't all bad. It's like most other things humans invent: it has its nice bits and its nasty bits.


Are you arguing that there are people who can know right from wrong if and only if they learn it from a religion (as opposed to their parents)?

No. But who will teach their parents? Their parents? And who instructed them?

If there is no commonly agreed moral code, what is to stop people from making up their morals freelance? People will do so anyway, given the slightest excuse, as we all know from first-hand experience. Having a code makes it harder.


It's a slippery slope from this to saying "morality comes from God."

But I did not say that. I am assuming that you and I are above all that nonsense.


Morality comes from necessity. It's part of social contract. It goes back to the question of if you could make yourself invisible, would you steal?

That sounds both scientifically and morally dodgy to me. As far as I'm concerned, morality is basically innate, the conscious projection of our social and nurturing instincts, which then gets elaborated because that is what opportunists and chatterboxes like Homo Sapiens do to everything. As it gets elaborated, it gets distorted. This is a good thing, because innate morality is rather primitive and ultimately self-serving.

But it gets distorted in all kinds of ways. Somebody (supposedly his name was Jesus) came up with the idea that it would be beneficial to treat all conspecifics as close genetic kin. But other ways of distorting innate morality aren't necessarily so beneficial, or nearly so elegant, and even that one has a lot of built-in dangers and impracticalities. So morality continues to evolve in the direction of ethics, and we may hope that at some point it transcends mere religious proscription.

If I still have to ask myself whether I would commit some crime if I knew I wouldn't get caught, there is clearly some further evolving to be done.


We assume here that pain and suffering exist or are distinct. One person's pain may be another person's pleasure.

Pain and pleasure are not quantities to be weighed in a scale, nor positive and negative charges that add up to zero. The concept of karma, as interpreted by some of its believers, conduces to this error of judgement, as does a cyclic view of history.


How it applies to the Epicurean riddle is very simple if you assume good/evil to actually exist as a dichotomy.

I hold the existence of good and evil as categories by means of which the acts of sentient beings can be sorted. I do not believe in the existence of good or evil people as such, though it's a fine distinction. But human beings lack omniscience, and are blessed in never being able to know in advance all the results of their actions. For an omniscient being, it is hard to avoid responsibility for all the consequences of any action. I would say that it is impossible.


I agree with your points mostly - we just differ, I think, on the notion of whether or not religion is necessary. You seem to be saying that for the majority - it is.

Not so much necessary as inevitable. People are forever inventing religions.


I argue that it isn't and that those who get their morality from religion would get it elsewhere.

Yes, but where? Oh, to whom shall we turn for our commandments? Give us a sign! Give us a sign!


The vast majority of people would not kill even if there were no laws prohibiting it. I think this has more to do with us being social animals than it does with any religion.

On that, at least, we can agree. But we are also animals that create religion. I wonder why that is?



posted on Nov, 30 2015 @ 09:29 PM
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a reply to: Astyanax




It also massively promotes cooperation and expedition: it gets things done. And it makes people feel good. So it's not going to vanish from the world because some of us wish it would go away.



I agree it would be completely unrealistic to expect gatherings of like-minded individuals to cease. However, in a theoretical world in which I made all the laws on Earth - I'd abolish it. I concede that for individuals, religion can be good - however it is a plague when taken as part of the bigger picture. It truly is "the opium of the masses." Sure, coming off that high would be difficult - but people would push through it and be all the better for it. Regardless of the positives about religion and how good it makes people feel, it is divisive. It tells its members "you are better than those who believe this and that" or at the very least there is a sense of being different, unique...special.




No. But who will teach their parents? Their parents? And who instructed them?



It doesn't really matter who instructed whom . People will normally mimic. Religion as a tool for teaching morality is completely superfluous. Besides, morality is relative.




As far as I'm concerned, morality is basically innate, the conscious projection of our social and nurturing instincts, which then gets elaborated because that is what opportunists and chatterboxes like Homo Sapiens do to everything.


Fair enough. To me it is simply a matter of right and wrong that comes about from living in a social environment. Morality doesn't even have to deal with murder - it can be the most mundane things. I realize there are some nut jobs (or brave souls?) who would walk outside completely nude and fart in a crowded area. Most of us don't, though. The reason, I argue, is to due (at least partly) with empathy. We do not want to both others. I'm sure plenty of people walk around nude and fart in their own homes if no one is around. This tells me that morality is (at least largely) relative to others. We tend to do what others like and avoid what they don't ...the need for acceptance is strong.




If I still have to ask myself whether I would commit some crime if I knew I wouldn't get caught, there is clearly some further evolving to be done.



Well, evolution is an ongoing process. You not being able to answer that question may just have to do with not having been in the situation.




I hold the existence of good and evil as categories by means of which the acts of sentient beings can be sorted.


If you say they exist as categories...I'm more inclined to agree - but still, people will categorize things differently.




For an omniscient being, it is hard to avoid responsibility for all the consequences of any action. I would say that it is impossible.


Some would argue that free will would absolve such a being.

It is rather difficult to argue for an omniscient, loving being that takes an active part in the world, though. Surely there was a better way to get the Jews to Israel than the Holocaust.
Still, the question of "why would God allow evil to exist?" assumes the premise that He should care what people think. It is said God is good - that does not have to correspond with our definition of "good." In fact, the Bible (reliable source that it is) seems to be clear on the fact that God doesn't care what we think - our job is to obey.




On that, at least, we can agree. But we are also animals that create religion. I wonder why that is?



Our need to belong.



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