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Harvard's atheists get religion?

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posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 02:14 PM
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After all atheists scored higher on the SAT right?

Recent USA TODAY Article here: www.usatoday.com...

What in the world is a "humanist chaplain?"

Excerpts: Humanist chaplain Greg Epstein, left, talks with Harvard University students after a group meeting in Cambridge, Mass. Epstein envisions local humanist centers nationwide that perform many of the community-building functions of a church, only in service of the humanist creed, which he sums up as a commitment to living ethical, personally fulfilling lives while serving the greater good.

More:

"I don't know if anybody is going to be able to convince me that God exists," Sheiman said in an interview, "but they can convince me that religion has intrinsic value."

The old atheists said there was no God. The so-called "New Atheists" said there was no God, and they were vocally vicious about it. Now, the new "New Atheists" — call it Atheism 3.0 — say there's still no God, but maybe religion isn't all that bad.

Faith provides meaning and purpose for millions of believers, inspires people to tend to each other and build communities, gives them a sense of union with a transcendent force, and provides numerous health benefits, Sheiman says. Moreover, the galvanizing force behind many achievements in Western civilization has been faith, Sheiman argues, while conceding that he limits his analysis, for the most part, to modern Western religion.

"More than any other institution, religion deserves our appreciation and respect because it has persistently encouraged people to care deeply — for the self, for neighbors, for humanity, and for the natural world — and to strive for the highest ideals humans are able to envision," Sheiman writes.

Religion has always had its cultured defenders, atheists who speak up for the social benefits of faith. The philosopher Plato, for instance, did not believe in the Greek pantheon, but argued that other people should, for the good of society. He even proposed criminalizing disbelief in the existence of deities and immortality of the soul.

In recent years, the skeptical scene has been dominated by the New Atheists —Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and others — who argue in best-selling books that religious faith is a mental illness, or worse.

But now, a new crew of nonbelievers is taking on the New Atheists, arguing that while they may not have faith themselves, there's little reason to belittle believers or push religion out of the public square. The back-and-forth debates over God's existence have shed a little light, but far more heat, they argue, while the world's problems loom ever larger.

"The work that we need to do, we atheists, humanists and non-believers, is to build a better world and not try to tear down those with whom we disagree," said Greg M. Epstein, the Humanist chaplain at Harvard University.



Have we finally met some ethical atheists?

Is Richard Dawkins now old hat?

Are atheists stealing from religion?

Or is this a good thing?


Believers and skeptics alike, chim in on OT's latest, ok?




posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 02:32 PM
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Maybe its our brain, huh? That sees the benefits of religion/faith?


Atheists, thoughts?

See:



Faith rites boost brains, even for atheists: book

Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Buddhist monks and Catholic nuns boost their brain power through meditation and prayer, but even atheists can enjoy the mental benefits that believers derive from faith, according to a popular neuroscience author.

The key, Andrew Newberg argues in his new book "How God Changes Your Brain," lies in the concentrating and calming effects that meditation or intense prayer have inside our heads.

Brain scanners show that intense meditation alters our gray matter, strengthening regions that focus the mind and foster compassion while calming those linked to fear and anger.

Whether the meditator believes in the supernatural or is an atheist repeating a mantra, he says, the outcome can be the same - a growth in the compassion that virtually every religion teaches and a decline in negative feelings and emotions.


more: www.reuters.com...



posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 02:48 PM
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I’ll participate if you promise not to refer to yourself in the third person.

On the topic, what makes you think that atheists prior to this “new” group were not ethical?

I am an atheist but I don’t subscribe to any of these groups and I still have ethics.

I would never deny that religion has its benefits but I just think that these are rooted in common purpose and belief rather than the blind faith aspect in itself. That said it does have negatives; if that common belief is that everyone should agree with you and the purpose is to make them no matter what then that’s probably a bad thing.

So religion might have its upsides but those can be had without believing in things for which there is no evidence or reason.





[edit on 26-10-2009 by Mike_A]



posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 02:55 PM
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Originally posted by Mike_A
I’ll participate if you promise not to refer to yourself in the third person.




OK...

OT

PS: Why does it bother you?




posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 02:59 PM
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reply to post by Mike_A
 


btw, did you notice we have the same subtitle in the avatar?

Funny, huh?

OT



posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 03:07 PM
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Originally posted by Mike_A
I’ll participate if you promise not to refer to yourself in the third person.

......


Did you mean tomorrow? A future date?

"I" am waiting.....

Maybe, you had to run? If so, a note, saying such...would be nice/appreciated...

OT



posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 03:11 PM
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lol no idea why I find it annoying but I do, it's just a bit weird, like I'm talking to yoda or something


Anyway, just to add something to my last reply on religion and society. I really wouldn’t like to lose religion completely, I don’t want Christmas to go and I’m happy to have the Lords Spiritual sit in the House of Lords. I like the cultural and historical aspects of its presence and I think it is important to maintain them. It’s also important to hear other people’s points of view, regardless of where they come from.

BUT… I draw the line where religious beliefs are given undue influence. I don’t agree with laws that put religion beyond criticism or give it rights beyond other subjective beliefs; I also don’t agree when religious beliefs, by virtue only of the number of believers, dictate policy that otherwise requires a good deal of empirical evidence before implementation (e.g. genetic engineering being slowed because of religion).


BTW you did read my whole first post right?



posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 03:19 PM
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Originally posted by Mike_A
lol no idea why I find it annoying but I do, it's just a bit weird, like I'm talking to yoda or something

......



That is great....

I tried it with the wife....

and she ripped me a new one!!!


OT


yes, I did read you insightful post, thx!



posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 03:47 PM
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Originally posted by Mike_A

Anyway, just to add something to my last reply on religion and society. I really wouldn’t like to lose religion completely, I don’t want Christmas to go and I’m happy to have the Lords Spiritual sit in the House of Lords. I like the cultural and historical aspects of its presence and I think it is important to maintain them. It’s also important to hear other people’s points of view, regardless of where they come from.

BUT… I draw the line where religious beliefs are given undue influence. .....


Actually you are not that far off, I agree with you...


I'm sure there are some other atheists out there that think we both a heretics...??????

OT



posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 03:50 PM
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Its as valuable as a leash on a dog.

Look up a discription of the value and training assistance of a leash and you will find a mirror definition of religion.



posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 03:58 PM
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Originally posted by Wertdagf
Its as valuable as a leash on a dog.

Look up a discription of the value and training assistance of a leash and you will find a mirror definition of religion.



Wertdagf,

HI!!!!


I am trying here....friend!


RU gonna do one of those drive-by-posts? Or are you gonna engage here?

OT curious



posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 04:02 PM
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reply to post by OldThinker
 


I think they have been testing people, and monitoring people to get to this position.

There is no case against the fact that christian values, helped western culture. Man cannot decide what is right for themselves, no matter what dawkins says.



posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 04:05 PM
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Originally posted by OldThinker



"More than any other institution, religion deserves our appreciation and respect because it has persistently encouraged people to care deeply — for the self, for neighbors, for humanity, and for the natural world — and to strive for the highest ideals humans are able to envision," Sheiman writes.


I disagree. If anything, religion has done more to divide people and incite wars.

I think most people have the ability to 'care deeply' as an innate human quality and religion has nothing to do with that.

Religion has been a source of confusion for most people. And religions are set up to pontificate rather than educate. Parishoners are not really allowed to ask questions about church doctrine. If they question the dictates they are either scorned, marked, or ostracised. Parishoners are not allowed to disagree or debate with church doctrine; for that they will be put out of the church. Religion is a tool to control the behavior of the masses.




Originally posted by OldThinker

He even proposed criminalizing disbelief in the existence of deities and immortality of the soul.



Point proven. See how it is already causing division? It's all about DOMINIONISM.

The above quote sounds a lot like the G.W. Bush, sr. comment that "atheists are not citizens of the USA". The reason being, because the constitution says this is one nation under god. And if you do not believe in god, then you are not protected under the constitution; thus, you are not a US citizen.



posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 04:06 PM
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religion is also good for keeping otherwise savage individuals and groups of people in check. I can only imagine how barbaric some people would be if not for the fear of god or hell.



posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 04:09 PM
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Sorry guys, I was on another thread....

Thank you for stopping bye...

OT



posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 04:14 PM
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Originally posted by andy1033
........There is no case against the fact that christian values, helped western culture. Man cannot decide what is right for themselves, no matter what dawkins says.


any honest person would come to that conclusion.....


but have you seen OT's battles here on ATS? You would think I'm proposing .... a terrible thing? I left it generic, cause I don't wanna get slapped on the wrist....

Never have, don't want to...OT will live UP TO I Peter 3:15

OT



posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 04:19 PM
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Originally posted by Alethea

Originally posted by OldThinker



"More than any other institution, religion deserves our appreciation and respect because it has persistently encouraged people to care deeply — for the self, for neighbors, for humanity, and for the natural world — and to strive for the highest ideals humans are able to envision," Sheiman writes.


I disagree. If anything, religion has done more to divide people and incite wars.

....



Alethea, those are not OT's words, right?

OT


PS: One more time on how the prince of peace, incited WAR?

Really curious? You are throwing the baby (JC) out with the bath water!!!!!!!!



posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 04:21 PM
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Originally posted by Alethea
......It's all about DOMINIONISM.......



Sounds like S and M??

Scarry....

Help OT out....ok?




posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 04:31 PM
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Originally posted by Totalstranger
religion is also good for keeping otherwise savage individuals and groups of people in check. ....
TS, do you have an original thoughts here? Sorry, that was weak. Faith has done SOOOOOOOOOO much good...For example: www.faithfacts.org...

Women. In ancient cultures, a wife was the property of her husband. Aristotle said that a woman was somewhere between a free man and a slave. According to the book Reasons for God by Tim Keller (page 249), "It was extremely common in the Greco-Roman world to throw out new female infants to die from exposure, because of the low status of women in society. The church forbade its members to do so. Greco-Roman society saw no value in an unmarried woman, and therefore it was illegal for a widow to go more than two years without remarrying. But Christianity was the first religion to not force widows to marry. They were supported financially and honored within the community so that they were not under great pressure to remarry if they didn't want to. Pagan widows lost all control of their husband's estate when they remarried but the church allowed widows to maintain their husband's estate. Finally, Christians did not believe in cohabitiation. If a Christian man wanted to live with a woman he had to marry her, and this gave women far greater security. Also, the pagan double standard of allowing married men to have extramarital sex and mistresses was forbidden. In all these ways Christian women enjoyed far greater security and equality than did women in the surrounding culture. See Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity." In India, widows were voluntarily or involuntarily burned on their husbands' funeral pyres. Christian missionaries were a major influence in stopping these century-old practices and ideas.
Children. In the ancient world, for example in classical Rome or Greece, infanticide was not only legal, it was applauded. Killing a Roman was murder, but it was commonly held in Rome that killing one's own children could be an act of beauty. Through a higher view of life, it was the early Christian church that ultimately brought an end to infanctide. The modern pro-life movement is largely Christian. This pro-life view has been true from the very beginning of Christianity. A Christian document called the Didache, dated from the late first century or early second century, contained instructions against abortion.
Slavery. While it is true that Christians have owned slaves in history, it is clear that this was a distortion of biblical teaching. (See Misconceptions, item #12.) Early Christianity elevated the roles of those oppressed in society, by for example, accepting women and slaves as full members. Slaves participated equally in worship and the community and were afforded contract and property rights. It is also true that slavery was ended in great measure by Christian activists. For example, historians credit the British evangelical William Wilberforce as the primary force behind the ending of the international slave trade (which happened prior to the American Civil War). Two-thirds of the members of the American abolition society in 1835 were Christian ministers.
Gladiators. A 5th century monk, Telemachus is credited as being the pivotal force ending the gladiator spectacles.
Cannibalism. Missionary followers of Jesus are credited with stopping cannibalism in many primitive societies.
Top of page Compassion and Mercy
Kennedy and Newcombe in their book detail the rise of charity in the name of Jesus over the centuries. This is in stark contrast to history before Jesus. Historians record that prior to Jesus, the ancient world left little trace of any organized charitable effort.

An important aspect to Jesus' ministry was his emphasis on helping the neediest and lowliest in society. For example, his Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) is a classic illustration that is still part of our language today. While there are good charitable efforts outside of the name of Jesus, Kennedy and Newcombe argue that Christian charities stand out. They point to Mother Theresa, the Salvation Army, religious hospitals, and church supported soup kitchens and thrift shops in every community. Jesus has had such an enormous impact on charity that one wonders how different things would be if he had never been born.

D'Souza points out: "This is our culture's powerful emphasis on compassion, on helping the needy, and on alleviating distress even in distant places. If there is a huge famine or reports of genocide in Africa, most people in other cultures are unconcerned. As the Chinese proverb has it, 'the tears of strangers are only water.' But here in the West we rush to help....Part of the reason why we do this is because of our Christian assumptions....The ancient Greeks and Romans did not believe this. They held a view quite commonly held in other cultures today: yes, that is a problem, but it is not our problem....However paradoxical it seems, people who believed most strongly in the next world did the most to improve the situation of people living in this one."

The mythical character of Santa Claus points back to Christ. St. Nick unquestionably arose within the Christian tradition.

Top of page Marriage and Family
As explained by D'Souza, before the Chistian era, pederasty and homosexuality were not considered wrong: "Christianity exalted heterosexual monogamous love, which would provide the basis for a lasting and exclusive relationship between husband and wife, oriented toward the rearing of children. We take the family so much for granted—it remains such a powerful ideal in our society, even when actual family life falls short— that we forget the central premises on which it is based. Those premises were introduced by Christianity into a society to which they were completely foreign."

Top of page Education
From the beginning of Judaism, from which Christianity is derived, there was an emphasis on the written word. But the phenomenon of education for the masses has its roots in the Protestant Reformation.

In order to promote Bible literacy, Christians have been leaders in education. This trend was accelerated with the advent of the printing press at about the same time as the Protestant Reformation. Many of the world's languages were first set to writing by Christian missionaries in order for people to read the Bible.

In America, the first law to require education of the masses was passed by the Puritans. The law was called "THE OLD DELUDER SATAN ACT." This name was a reference to the devil, who Christians believe gets his foothold into people's lives because of their ignorance of Scripture.

For the first 200 years in America, children's reading texts emphasized biblical literacy. The emphasis on literacy was so intense in colonial America, that John Quincy Adams said in the early 1800's that the illiteracy rate was only 4/10th of 1 percent. By comparison, it has been estimated that in America today, 40 million people are functionally illiterate.

All but one of the first 123 colleges in colonial America were Christian institutions. While these universities have lost their Christian identities, it is interesting to read the founding statements of these schools. Harvard, for example, was founded on this statement: Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternall life, John 17:3?

Top of page Government of the People
While America's constitutional government is not specifically Christian, it can be argued that its roots are taken from biblical doctrines. Here are just a few possible arguments in this regard:

America's first constitution was the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. The Puritan framers of this document required that each aspect of it be grounded in Scripture. Other constitutions to follow contained many similarities to this one.
At least 50 of the 55 signers of the U.S. Constitution were orthodox Christians.
There is no doubt that the concept of our Constitutional checks and balances system is a direct result of the biblical doctrine of the sinfulness of mankind. All of our founders understood the importance of this doctrine to the social order.
America's foundational idea of The Rule of Law rather than the authority of man traces back to the Old Testament, beginning with the Ten Commandments.
The idea that all men are created equal as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence is a biblical doctrine.
The notion of the sovereign authority of God (as mentioned in the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, all 50 state constitutions, our currency, etc.)--rather than the sovereignty of the state--is certainly biblical.
The existence of moral absolutes (a biblical concept) is an important idea in our Declaration of Independence--specifically, self-evident truths and unalienable rights from the Creator.
Many other aspects of our laws come directly from the Bible--for example the judicial, legislative and executive branches trace to Isaiah 33:22. Fair trials with witnesses have numerous Old and New Testament support.
Regarding civil liberty, founding father John Adams (and others) emphasized 2 Corinthians 3:17 as the basis for American civil liberty. The slogan on the Liberty Bell is "Proclaim Liberty throughout the land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof" is from Leviticus 15:10. Kennedy and Newcombe argue that Jesus himself was the greatest civil libertarian of all time.
"Here we see, in its embryo, the idea of limited government. This idea derives from the Christian notion that the ruler's realm is circumscribed and there are limits beyond which he simply must not go....Our modern idea of limited government takes the Christian notion of space that is off-limits to state control and extends it to the whole private sphere....The separation of the realms should not be a weapon against Christianity; rather, it is a device supplied by Christianity to promote social peace, religious freedom, and a moral community. If we recovered the concept in its true sense, our society would be better off." (Dinesh S'Souza)

Note: See the other article on our site entitled The Bible and Government.


Top of page Science
Kennedy and Newcombe also argue that science has it roots in Christianity. They point out that other world religions may express a worldview of fatalism (everything is fatalistically determined) or of illusion (that the physical world is an illusion). Science could not have arisen from these worldviews.

Christianity on the other hand, is based on the notion that there exists a rational God who is the source of rational truth. This, they argue, gave rise to the possibility of scientific laws.

Evidence for this view is that nearly all the founders of modern science were Christians. These include men such as Keppler, Boyle, Pascal, Pasteur, Newton, etc.

Top of page Free Enterprise and the Work Ethic
Private property rights can be traced to the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:15, 17 (Thou shalt not steal,?Thou shalt not covet.")--as well as to other passages from the Old and New Testaments. Interestingly, there are over 700 references to money in the Bible!

It is noteworthy that Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations was written in 1776, the same year as the birth of America. But many historians credit theologian John Calvin from 200 years earlier as the person who is most responsible for putting together the principles that were always in the Bible into a system adapted by the American founders. For example, the biblical doctrines of self-reliance and self-denial are the foundation of the famous "Protestant work ethic." These doctrines are at the heart of our economic (and political) way of life.

A distinction can be made between biblical capitalism and evolutionary capitalism. The emphasis on biblical capitalism is on the importance of servanthood--a key teaching of Jesus. Evolutionary capitalism on the other hand relies solely on the survival of the fittest. See our blog article Biblical Capitalism in Uncertain Economic Times.

Anyone who doubts the relationship of biblical ideas to free enterprise need only to note the stark contrast with communism. Communism is specifically an atheistic system that relies on the non-biblical notion that all men are good (thus will work for the common good). But communism has been an abject economic failure.

As put by D'Spouza, "The system of modern capitalism arose in the West. To some it is surprising that capitalism developed so easily in conjunction with a Christian ethic. But capitalism satisfied the Christian demand for an institution that channels selfish human desire toward the betterment of society. Some critics accuse capitalism of being a selfish system, but the selfishness is not in capitalism—it is in human nature....While profit remains the final goal, entrepeneurs spend the better part of each day figuring out how better to serve the needs of their actual and potential customers. They are operationally, if not intentionally, altruistic....One may say that capitalism civilizes greed in much the same way that marriage civilizes lust."

Top of page Art, Music, Literature
The influence of Jesus on art, music, and literature is enormous. For example, the Christian faith has influenced literature in such Christian writers such as Dante, Chaucer, Donne, Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, Dickens, Milton, etc.

Had Jesus never been born, music would likely sound very different from what we're used to. There may never have developed the cantata, the concerto, or the symphony. Handel, Vivaldi, and Bach were Christians who worked to honor God with their work. Bach, for example, signed all his works with Soli Deo Gloria ("Solely to the glory of God").

Art has likewise been magnificently impacted by Jesus. While much modern art seems to debase the human spirit, classical Christian art tries to bring out the best of mankind--pointing us to a higher plane. This is certainly a tribute to Jesus.

And think of all the incredible architecture through the years. Especially noteworthy are the beautiful cathedrals in Europe.



posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 06:17 PM
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Operation Vatican Stealth:

-Train several priests in Atheism, ensure they know how to speak and portray the Atheist lifestyle. They must blend in.

-Once the cells are in place and established activate phase2. Phase2 is having the cells begin to question militant Atheism. Carry out Phase two for many months then proceed to Phase3

-Phase3, full media and public displays of our secret Atheist cell promoting religion, thereby neutering real Atheists

-Phase4, full Atheist support of integration of church and state.



suckers



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