Turning the Question Upside-down

Onion
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Turning the Question Upside-down

If the stated goal of Rational Responders is to "free humanity from the mind disorder known as theism," what happens if you succeed? What are the practical consequences of ridding the world of theism? Will the world actually be a better place? Have you spent any time actually thinking this through?

The reason I ask is that much of the world as we know and experience it is based on theism. Take the United States, for example. The Declaration of Independence is a theistic document. In fact, human rights are a theistic concept. Humanity as rights, are equal under the law, and are free beings because they are created in the image and likeness of God. What happens to all these concepts when God is removed from the equation?

We do have some empirical evidence of what happens when societies "free themselves from the mind disorder known as theism." Within history we have plenty of examples of societies that officially adopt atheism. The French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution and the Communist revolutions all embraced atheism. All of these revolutions exhibited similar patterns of behavior:

1) All of them ended up with authoritarian governments.
2) All of them promoted homogeneity over diversity.
3) All of them arrested and executed their own citizens without trial for such "offenses" as: being an aristocrat, being a theist, being college educated, being influenced by an outside culture.
4) All of them dramatically curtailed freedom.
5) Science and reason both suffered serious blows under these regimes, because both require the ability to question authority, which means questioning those who are in power.

The reason that these patterns of behavior are consistent in atheistic societies is exactly because the concepts that protect individual citizens — law, human rights, equality, freedom — are all theistic concepts. This begs the question: which is worse, "suffering" the mind disorder of theism and the concepts of human rights, equality, law and freedom or getting rid of God and run the risk of seeing over 100 million people getting murdered in the 70 years that the Communists ruled Russia?


Vessel
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Onion wrote:

Onion wrote:
If the stated goal of Rational Responders is to "free humanity from the mind disorder known as theism," what happens if you succeed?

Humanity is freed from the mind disorder known as theism.

Onion wrote:
What are the practical consequences of ridding the world of theism?

People begin to think rationally about questions concerning existence and how to create societies conducive to living happy fulfilling lives instead of leaving such questions in the hands of a non-existent diety. This should lead to people realizing that they are no different than their neighbor. They are not special, or superior, because they have a certain belief that allows them eternal happiness and inflicts on their enemy, who is evil incarnate, eternal suffering, and all people truly are equal. People also realize that this life is the only life and therefor it is to be lived to the fullest. Then people start to take care of this planet after realizing that their children and their children's children will need it to have an opportunity to exist as well, instead of just trying to use up everything they can before the armageddon cowboys arrive and everyone who is special goes to fluffy cloud land to pet eternal puppies.

Okay, maybe it doesn't happen exactly like that, but do you think it is better to live in delusion or in reality? Either way people can live exactly as they do now, or even better if they make wise decisions. There is no reason for things to change unless society wants them to. All that would necessarily change in society is that people would no longer waste time worshipping a diety and living with the delusion that this life is crap as compared to what awaits them. I don't see how that is harmful to the rational man (/woman for you feminist types).

 

Onion wrote:
Will the world actually be a better place?

Yes.

Onion wrote:
Have you spent any time actually thinking this through?

Yes.

Onion wrote:
The reason I ask is that much of the world as we know and experience it is based on theism. Take the United States, for example. The Declaration of Independence is a theistic document. In fact, human rights are a theistic concept. Humanity as rights, are equal under the law, and are free beings because they are created in the image and likeness of God. What happens to all these concepts when God is removed from the equation?

Nothing changes. Their is no reason a deity is required for humans to have equal rights under the law. Societies dictate such things. Societies are organizations of people. If people want a peaceful society in which it is safe to raise one's children and in which they can live happily affording equal rights to all people is the only reasonable option.

In actuallity, with religion, men are not equal. Those that do not believe, or belong to another religious tribe, are basically only worthy of eternal suffering. To remove one from this life or enslave him or impede his quest for happiness is nothing as compared to what the deity has in store for him. On the other hand, from a naturalistic viewpoint, all men are, in reality, just men. How could they be more equal?

Onion wrote:
We do have some empirical evidence of what happens when societies "free themselves from the mind disorder known as theism." Within history we have plenty of examples of societies that officially adopt atheism. The French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution and the Communist revolutions all embraced atheism. All of these revolutions exhibited similar patterns of behavior: 1) All of them ended up with authoritarian governments. 2) All of them promoted homogeneity over diversity. 3) All of them arrested and executed their own citizens without trial for such "offenses" as: being an aristocrat, being a theist, being college educated, being influenced by an outside culture. 4) All of them dramatically curtailed freedom. 5) Science and reason both suffered serious blows under these regimes, because both require the ability to question authority, which means questioning those who are in power.

So we blame atheism and not communism? We blame lack of god belief and not zealots? This list is what happens in socities that are controlled by dictators and zealots whether atheist or theist. There are examples of these same atrocities in theistic socities, or do we turn a blind eye to those? Atheism is not responsible for Stalin's atrocities. He never once had someone killed to appease his non-god. Atheism was a tool he used to help ensure that he was worshipped instead of a god, much in the same way a David Koresh, or a Jim Jones, or a Pope so-and-so, uses religion to ensure that they hold on to their power.

 

 

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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Interesting question,

Interesting question, although it shows that there's a lot you don't understand about atheism. Hopefully your during your time here you'll get to know us better! Smiling

Onion wrote:
If the stated goal of Rational Responders is to "free humanity from the mind disorder known as theism," what happens if you succeed? What are the practical consequences of ridding the world of theism? Will the world actually be a better place? Have you spent any time actually thinking this through?

Yes. We're not simply "anything but Christianity!!!!" shouters.
Fundamentalist Christianity steps on our toes and does things we believe to be wrong, hence the activism against it. We believe that secular morality is the way forward.

Quote:
The reason I ask is that much of the world as we know and experience it is based on theism. Take the United States, for example. The Declaration of Independence is a theistic document.

Scrap it. Secular England will take good care of you! Smiling

Quote:
In fact, human rights are a theistic concept. Humanity as rights, are equal under the law, and are free beings because they are created in the image and likeness of God.

These aren't theistic concepts.
They are based on human values.
We value life and happiness of ourselves and others.
There is no need for the 'likeness of God' as a kind of middleman reason.

We also believe that Christian morality is secular, they just don't realise it. (Read the link. It turns the 'morality is rooted in Christianity' argument on its head!)

Quote:
What happens to all these concepts when God is removed from the equation? We do have some empirical evidence of what happens when societies "free themselves from the mind disorder known as theism."

Europe in general is very secular.
I think the life I'm living in England is what these guys want America to be like. My job as a rational responder/atheist activist is to stop fundies ruining my secular haven! Smiling

 

Quote:
Within history we have plenty of examples of societies that officially adopt atheism. The French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution and the Communist revolutions all embraced atheism. All of these revolutions exhibited similar patterns of behavior:

Atheism wasn't the problem.
The problem was that these particular ideologies were facist.
At the moment, places like Europe and Japan exemplify secular states.


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Quote: Take the United

Quote:
Take the United States, for example. The Declaration of Independence is a theistic document.

 

And see how well America is doing? Not that well.

 

And saying human rights is a theistic idea, is also saying athists don't give others human rights, or don't care for others. 

AImboden wrote:
I'm not going to PM my agreement just because one tucan has pms.


Onion
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Ophios wrote: Quote: And

Ophios wrote:

Quote:
And saying human rights is a thesitic idea is also saying athists don't give others rights, or don't care for others.

Human rights are a theistic idea. They are derived from the concept of natural law which can be found in second century Christian writers such as St. Justin the Martyr and Tertullian. It is entirely dependent upon the idea that humanity is created in the image and likeness of God. Without God, without the image and likeness, what ground do you stand on to grant or defend human rights?

What makes humans equal? From a scientific/biological viewpoint there is nothing equal about humanity. I, for one, am an inferior specimen of the species because I have severe allergies and asthma. How am I equal to an NFL football player who is my vast superior physically? How are women equal to men when biologically each sex can do things the other cannot? How is a person with down syndrome equal to someone who is not?

Without the theistic equation that it is God's image and likeness that makes everyone equal, it is very easy to rationally justify how people aren't equal. This is exactly how and why the "fascists" killed so many of their own citizens. The atheism condoned by these regimes enabled these justifications. 


Vessel
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Onion wrote: Human rights

Onion wrote:
Human rights are a theistic idea. They are derived from the concept of natural law which can be found in second century Christian writers such as St. Justin the Martyr and Tertullian. It is entirely dependent upon the idea that humanity is created in the image and likeness of God. Without God, without the image and likeness, what ground do you stand on to grant or defend human rights?

On the grounds that basic human rights (we can use life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as that wording seems to sum up the basics fairly well) are a natural part of human morallity, which obviously requires no deity. What are referred to as natural human rights (those which may seem to transcend governmental law) are nothing more than the logical extension of the basic tenets of a functional moral system. They are basically necessary agreements between peoples to ensure a stable environment in which to raise families. 

How does humans being created in the image and likeness of a god form a basis for human rights? 

 

Onion wrote:
What makes humans equal?

The fact that, free of any authrority dictating otherwise (i.e. a deity, a government, aliens) or in othger words, in a completely natural state, every human has just as much right to exist as does any other human. Whether that is no right or every right, it is equal.

Onion wrote:
From a scientific/biological viewpoint there is nothing equal about humanity. I, for one, am an inferior specimen of the species because I have severe allergies and asthma. How am I equal to an NFL football player who is my vast superior physically? How are women equal to men when biologically each sex can do things the other cannot? How is a person with down syndrome equal to someone who is not?

This is a completely different topic. Of course people aren't equal in this manner of speaking. The fact that all are not physically equal or mentally equal is obvious.  

onion wrote:
Without the theistic equation that it is God's image and likeness that makes everyone equal, it is very easy to rationally justify how people aren't equal. This is exactly how and why the "fascists" killed so many of their own citizens. The atheism condoned by these regimes enabled these justifications.

Wrong. Atheism had nothing to do with it. Atheistic societies can and do have moral systems and human rights. If one wants to justify how people aren't equal, it is easy in either a theistic or atheistic society. Justifications are always easy for those who desire them. Actually, being as that I could believe my god wanted these people dead, it seems much easier to justify killing for any given reason within a theistic society.

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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Onion has made a huge point

Onion has made a huge point although I'm not agreeing that people should believe because it would be worse for society without it.

If there is nothing intrinsicly special about an inidividual - i.e. no soul and not made in the image of God - then, despite our consciousness, we are cattle. It is right, therefore, to kill off the elderly, the mentally challanged, the short people, the people who are too tall, the skinny people, the fat people.

After all, it's not a "person" - it's a bag of chemicals worth a couple of dollars. We can just make another one, can't we?

As for secular states being "great models"? I'm not so sure about that. Holland for example.  Drugs, being counter-evolutionary in nature (harmful, not helpful), go against the logic of rational thought. It is irrational to use drugs. Experientially it makes sense ("I want to experience that, even only once" ) but then shouldn't we all experience other harmful things (at least once) just to see what they are like?

I think people mistake Secularism as meaning freedom. But peoples concept of freedom is so flawed that we could create a whole new thread for that.

strafio wrote:
Fundamentalist Christianity steps on our toes and does things we believe to be wrong, hence the activism against it. We believe that secular morality is the way forward.

Stafio you "believe" it is wrong, so therefore you protest. I'm not about to claim that Christianity is free from zealots who don't go round with signs that read "die fags die". I can't speak for Christians that interpret the bible through bigotted eyes. However, do you know that main difference between, say, Christianity, Islam and Atheism?

Atheism sees faith as a flaw and faith allows hope. Without hope, tomorrow has no meaning. Life becomes an experiencial trip that demands sensuality for pleasure - I have pleasure for life to be good (and I'm not necessarily talking about sexual pleasure). In atheism there is no logical reason for charity - it takes away from the experience. In atheism there is no reason for pure kindness other than selfish kindness - where the aim is to put yourself in a position where others will treat you well as a reward.

Islam seeks to propogate their beliefs the same way that Atheism does - it is not concerned with others at all and thus the reason they are willing to take lives for their cause. I'm not saying Atheists do that but the same mentality of the disease of the mind (or spirit in the case of Islam) present.

Now here's the punchline. As a Christian - I would give anything to see you happy. I would gladly give it all up for you and you alone. I would trade everything I have for you to have the knowledge of my God. I live a life of service to others not because I'm worried about eternal punishment for not doing it - that's already been dealt with - I do it because I have a joy inside me that I cannot help but share. It doesn't need anything besides the breath in my lungs and God's love in my heart. I can truly say, "What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish (or dung - depending on translation) that I may gain Christ" ( Phil 3:8 ).

If that is a bad thing, then what is good?


KSMB
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All these points are so new

All these points are so new and fresh and logical! Oh wait... today's not opposite day?


Onion
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Vessel wrote: On the

Vessel wrote:

On the grounds that basic human rights (we can use life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as that wording seems to sum up the basics fairly well) are a natural part of human morallity, which obviously requires no deity. What are referred to as natural human rights (those which may seem to transcend governmental law) are nothing more than the logical extension of the basic tenets of a functional moral system. They are basically necessary agreements between peoples to ensure a stable environment in which to raise families. 

How does humans being created in the image and likeness of a god form a basis for human rights? 

Do you realize that you are using a theist argument for human rights? Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are justified in the Declaration of Independence because they are endowed by the Creator. John Locke, upon whose work the Declaration of Independence is based, was a devout Christian. His defense of human rights comes directly out of his Christianity. The concept of natural human rights are based on a long tradition in Christianity of natural law, which is derived from the doctrine that God created humanity in his image and likeness. The logical extension and the moral system you are referring to are both Christian.

Vessel wrote:

This is a completely different topic. Of course people aren't equal in this manner of speaking. The fact that all are not physically equal or mentally equal is obvious. 

This is not a completely different topic. It is exactly the same topic. Christianity declares a radical equality of all humanity because, despite the biological inequalities found in humanity, everyone is created in the image and likeness of God. 

Now, in a world where there is no God, how do you justify the same kind of radical equality despite the obvious biological inequalities?

Simply stating that everyone is equal, or has rights, or this is a social agreement between people doesn't cut it, because all of these arguements are derived from theism.

So, either you have to come up with a systematic answer that can justify human rights without using the arguments laid down by theists, or you really don't believe that theism is a mind disorder, because all of the arguments you have used came directly out of this very same mind disorder.

Which is it?


Vessel
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Onion wrote: Do you realize

Onion wrote:
Do you realize that you are using a theist argument for human rights?

No, I am not. It is impossible for me to be using a theistic arguement as I do not believe in a deity. Let me show you... 

Onion wrote:
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are justified in the Declaration of Independence because they are endowed by the Creator. John Locke, upon whose work the Declaration of Independence is based, was a devout Christian.

Yes, and I borrowed those words because they are the basics of what most people consider the basic human rights. It was well written, that declaration was. Because I borrow the words, however, does not mean I agree with the Creator origins of the concepts. 

Onion wrote:
His defense of human rights comes directly out of his Christianity. The concept of natural human rights are based on a long tradition in Christianity of natural law, which is derived from the doctrine that God created humanity in his image and likeness. The logical extension and the moral system you are referring to are both Christian.

No, the moral system I'm referring to is not Christian it is natural. There are plenty of threads in this forum where people have taken the time to explain to inquisitve, and often resistent, theists that morallity requires no god. It is from these morals that human rights are derived. Not from any deity. Non-theistic these morals and rights are. That would be not from a god, Christian or otherwise.  

 

Onion wrote:
This is not a completely different topic. It is exactly the same topic. Christianity declares a radical equality of all humanity because, despite the biological inequalities found in humanity, everyone is created in the image and likeness of God.

Physical equality and human rights are different topics. All men are not physically equal. There is no dispute there.

onion wrote:
Now, in a world where there is no God, how do you justify the same kind of radical equality despite the obvious biological inequalities?

Why would biological inequalities necessitate rights inequalities without a god? You seem to think that without a god people would be better off to kill the weak. Why is that?

If a society removes the rights of any members it becomes difficult to draw a line as to what members are afforded rights and what members are not. If you take away the freedoms or lives of the mentally challenged why not the crippled and then the other races and then the left handed and then the brown eyed. This would make for an uneasy society, a society where no one can ever feel secure. Humans don't like that. We are social critters, you know.
We like safe stable socities. It is best to afford rights to all, where all can feel secure and live their secularly moral lives.

 

onion wrote:
Simply stating that everyone is equal, or has rights, or this is a social agreement between people doesn't cut it, because all of these arguements are derived from theism.

So, either you have to come up with a systematic answer that can justify human rights without using the arguments laid down by theists, or you really don't believe that theism is a mind disorder, because all of the arguments you have used came directly out of this very same mind disorder.

Which is it?

You see, this is the thing. Morals require no god. So ,when I say rights are an extension of a moral system, I'm not using a theistic arguement. Because you obviously think morals require a god, you may think that if I derive anything from morals I'm using a theistic arguement, but that simply is not true. Theists do not have a monopoly on morality.

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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Semp2pts wrote: In atheism

Semp2pts wrote:

In atheism there is no reason for pure kindness other than selfish kindness - where the aim is to put yourself in a position where others will treat you well as a reward.

 A Christians motivation for doing good tends to stem from two things, one is seeking eternal life the other is to avoid eternal damnation.  Clearly its in the Christians best interest to do good in order to ensure themselves these things. The motivations being totally selfish. 


Onion
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All moral codes are derived

All moral codes are derived from two fundamental questions:
1) What is reality (and therefore who and what is humanity)?
2) What is Truth (and therefore how do determine what is true)?
These questions then inform the basic question of ethics — What is good?
Atheism demands that reality has no God, therefore what is humanity? The only answer to this question that I can come up with is an animal. Again, since there is no God, Truth is dependent upon rational observation. What is reasonable for one individual or group may not be reasonable to the other. Therefore Truth, at best, is relative, if it exists at all.
What, then, is good? Since there is nothing overall special about humans — they are one species among many — and Truth is relative what is there to stop anyone from asking the question "What is good for me?" What is there to stop one group of people determining that it is good to eradicate another group of people?
Now, I will be the first to admit that there have been plenty of theistic despots, and that anyone can justify any kind of behavior. So, it might be useful here to look at some numbers. Can we agree that one of the most heinous episodes in theistic despotism was the Inquisition? Can we also agree that Stalin's Great Purge of 1937-1938 was one of the most heinous episodes in an atheistic society? I think these two are good for comparison because they were in essense trying to accomplish the same thing. The groups in power were trying to root out elements of society that they deemed dangerous.
At its height the Inquisition was killing about 10 people a month, or about 120 people a year. From 1937-1938 about half a million political prisoners were shot in Russia. That translates into about 20,000 people a month. In order for the Inquisition to have killed that many people at the rate they were killing people, they would have had to keep going at a steady pace for over 4000 years!
Why is the degree of bloodshed so dramatically different? Given the answers above, it is actually quite easy to see. Stalin was right. In a world without God anything is ethical and anything is moral  because Truth is relative. Who determines what is True? In a world without God, generally the guy with the biggest gun. In a world with God, that guy with the biggest gun has to contend with the Truth of God, and therefore there is a limiting factor on how much he uses that gun.
The camparison of the Inquistion and Stalin bears this out. As evil as the Inquisition was, it was limited by their belief in God. In Russia, once someone determined people needed to be killed, there was nothing to limit the bloodshed.
You can claim that you can be moral and you can create moral systems all you want, but without God, these moral systems have nothing to stand on. Once a powerful enough group determines that your moral system is no longer applicable, that system will collapse. 
This is why every single atheistic society has ended up as an authoritatian regime. This is why all those regimes have limited freedom and murdered millions of their own citizens. 
So I ask again, how is a world without God is better than one with?


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Onion wrote:

Onion wrote:
All moral codes are derived from two fundamental questions:
1) What is reality (and therefore who and what is humanity)?
  Reality is what exists.  As for humanity, it depends on if you are using humanity to mean the group of humans, or humanity as the qualities of being human. If you mean the group of humans then that seems fairly self evident. Humanity is the group of human beings that actually exist. If you mean the qualities of being human you will have to state what it is you want. A list of human qualities?
onion wrote:
2) What is Truth (and therefore how do determine what is true)?
  Wow, you got me there. Never had this discussion before. Just kidding of course. This line of questioning is second only to "if man came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys" on the theist rhetoric list.  First let me ask you a few questions. Has god ever told you what is real or what is true? Have you heard his voice speak to you personally? If you have are you certain it was god? If not, how does your godly truth differ from a non-believer's truth? Don't you have to experience with your own senses to arrive at a truth regardless of whether you believe in god or not, and can't those senses be wrong? So, even if your godly truth were to exist, why would that necessarily have any effect on human truth? How would you know anything if you can't trust your own experience and the way it synchs up with the experiences of others?  I will take it that your question of "what is truth" is merely a way of getting to the parenthetical question. Truth is conforming to fact or reality. That is easily discovered by using a dictionary. What you think is hard to reconcile with a godless existence is not the existence of truth but how we tell what is true from what is not. Correct?  Well, as I alluded to earlier(^ up there somewhere), humans arrive at there understanding of what is true by comparing what they experience to the experiences of others and finding commonality. Whether or not this conforms with what is actually true is impossible to answer as once we no longer trust our ability to gauge what is true by using our senses (all we really have) we can say nothing else on the matter, but that is unimportant in that it has no effect on our ability to function in a human society. All that matters, truthwise, to function within a human society is that you are able to experience with your senses what others experience with theirs.
Onion wrote:
These questions then inform the basic question of ethics — What is good?
  Good is that which benefits without harming. 
Onion wrote:
Atheism demands that reality has no God, therefore what is humanity?
  We already performed this dance. 
Onion wrote:
The only answer to this question that I can come up with is an animal.
  Of course man is an animal. Do you deny that man is an animal? How odd. What is man then? Sillyputty? Find me a single biologist who says man is not an animal. 
Onion wrote:
Again, since there is no God, Truth is dependent upon rational observation. What is reasonable for one individual or group may not be reasonable to the other. Therefore Truth, at best, is relative, if it exists at all.
  Truth would be relative from whose perspective? From the universes? Sure you could make a case for that. From a human perspective? Nope. We can see through experience that humans experience the world in very similar ways. These similar experiences are truths. We test things and get the same outcome time after time after time. We can call this truth. It is human truth but it is the only truth humans need as it is the only truth humans can ever possibly hope to achieve.
Onion wrote:
What, then, is good?
  Play it again, Sam. 
Onion wrote:
Since there is nothing overall special about humans — they are one species among many — and Truth is relative what is there to stop anyone from asking the question "What is good for me?"
  Truth is not relative in any meaningful way, as I have stated, but still there is nothing to stop them. Why, does your god normally stop people from doing this? If so, why are the prisons so full? 
Onion wrote:
What is there to stop one group of people determining that it is good to eradicate another group of people?
  Nothing. Heard of the holocaust? Obviously there was nothing to stop them. God sure didn't.
Onion wrote:
Now, I will be the first to admit that there have been plenty of theistic despots, and that anyone can justify any kind of behavior. So, it might be useful here to look at some numbers. Can we agree that one of the most heinous episodes in theistic despotism was the Inquisition? Can we also agree that Stalin's Great Purge of 1937-1938 was one of the most heinous episodes in an atheistic society? I think these two are good for comparison because they were in essense trying to accomplish the same thing. The groups in power were trying to root out elements of society that they deemed dangerous. At its height the Inquisition was killing about 10 people a month, or about 120 people a year. From 1937-1938 about half a million political prisoners were shot in Russia. That translates into about 20,000 people a month. In order for the Inquisition to have killed that many people at the rate they were killing people, they would have had to keep going at a steady pace for over 4000 years!
  The scale is only a matter of opportunity, ability, and need. I don't think you are being at all honest if you say you feel the Inquisitors are better than Stalin because they didn't kill as quickly? If so, your godly morals need some serious tweaking.

Onion wrote:
Why is the degree of bloodshed so dramatically different?
  Technology? Ability? Had more enemies to kill? 
Onion wrote:
Given the answers above, it is actually quite easy to see. Stalin was right. In a world without God anything is ethical and anything is moral because Truth is relative. Who determines what is True? In a world without God, generally the guy with the biggest gun. In a world with God, that guy with the biggest gun has to contend with the Truth of God, and therefore there is a limiting factor on how much he uses that gun.
  This makes me cringe. There is a limiting factor? So he only kills six days a week and rests on the sabbath? Its okay for him to kill as long as it is limited? I hope that isn't your point.  Okay, anyway, how does this truth of god limit the guy with the gun from killing people? Because he's scared to go to hell. That's not morality buddy. That's fear of consequence. 
Quote:
repeated unsubstantiated rhetoric....

....... 
onion wrote:
This is why every single atheistic society has ended up as an authoritatian regime.This is why all those regimes have limited freedom and murdered millions of their own citizens.
  A good portion of Europe is atheistic and not under an authoritarian regime so that statement is either a lie or a seriuously uninformed opinion.

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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I think the best way to

I think the best way to refute Onion is like this:
He's saying that if the world becomes atheistic then we lose all these things we value like human rights. However, by using it in his argument he knows that we already value human rights (because he's using its loss as a deterrent)
So atheists do support human rights.

Some theists might defend their belief in human rights using God but that doesn't mean the rest of us do. Onion, we humans value humanity. Human rights is a humanistic value.

Semp2pts wrote:
Stafio you "believe" it is wrong, so therefore you protest. I'm not about to claim that Christianity is free from zealots who don't go round with signs that read "die fags die". I can't speak for Christians that interpret the bible through bigotted eyes. However, do you know that main difference between, say, Christianity, Islam and Atheism?

Quote:
Atheism sees faith as a flaw and faith allows hope. Without hope, tomorrow has no meaning. Life becomes an experiencial trip that demands sensuality for pleasure - I have pleasure for life to be good (and I'm not necessarily talking about sexual pleasure).

Waaaaay of the mark.
Most usual types of faith and trust are ones that the atheist is fine with. The thing is, when faith becomes an excuse for stupidity then we have a problem with it. Banning stem cell research or condoms on faith is disasterous. So it's not personal faith that we have a problem with, it's when disasterous decisions are made on superstition that we get wound up.

The 'pleasure' assumption is a little off the mark.
We have values that don't involve pleasure too.
We have a sense of right or wrong, a recognition that some 'pleasures' are more trouble than they're worth.
We also have moralistic values like fairness and reciprocity.
We're not as pleasure-phobic as you're average religious person but we're hardly hedonistic.

 

Quote:
In atheism there is no logical reason for charity - it takes away from the experience. In atheism there is no reason for pure kindness other than selfish kindness - where the aim is to put yourself in a position where others will treat you well as a reward.

Who says we should have that aim?
Why assume that is our value?
Yes, humans are mostly selfish but most us also have genuinely altruistic values too. Surely your concern for the well-being of others doesn't stem purely out of fear of God's punishment?

 

Quote:
I live a life of service to others not because I'm worried about eternal punishment for not doing it - that's already been dealt with - I do it because I have a joy inside me that I cannot help but share.

So you have altruistic values too.
What makes you think that you require a God to have such values?

Quote:
It doesn't need anything besides the breath in my lungs and God's love in my heart.

(the atheist agrees except for the slight detail that it's your love in your heart rather than God's! Eye-wink)

Quote:
If that is a bad thing, then what is good?

No one is questioning your intentions. Smiling
I'd bet that most Christians mean well, just reliance on superstitions can cause bad, ill-informed decisions.
There's a famous quote that sums up our opposition to theism:

"There will always be good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.'' -- Steven Weinberg


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Starfio wrote: I think the

Starfio wrote:
I think the best way to refute Onion is like this:
He's saying that if the world becomes atheistic then we lose all these things we value like human rights. However, by using it in his argument he knows that we already value human rights (because he's using its loss as a deterrent)
So atheists do support human rights.

Some theists might defend their belief in human rights using God but that doesn't mean the rest of us do. Onion, we humans value humanity. Human rights is a humanistic value.

 

Actually what I am trying to say is that many of the things that the societies of the U.S., England and Europe value, such as human rights, are derived from theism. Therefore, to be intellectually honest as an atheist, you have to do one or more of the following:

1) Accept that you reap the benefits of theistic thinking.

2) Stop calling theism a mind disorder because the values that you hold (i.e. human rights) were established and put into practice by theists.

3) Accept the fact that you suffer from the mind disorder of theism because you accept the concept of human rights.

4) Disavow human rights as theistic drivel.

5) Justify human rights without God. On what grounds do you explain that all humans are equal?

 Within the context of this conversation, you have done none of the above.


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Onion wrote: Actually what

Onion wrote:
Actually what I am trying to say is that many of the things that the societies of the U.S., England and Europe value, such as human rights, are derived from theism.

No. You might derive them from theism but that's just you.
Also, you'd value these human rights even if you didn't believe in God.

You said:
Quote:
Humanity as rights, are equal under the law, and are free beings because they are created in the image and likeness of God.

Why should we give rights to something created in the image and likeness of God? I don't know what you reason for this is but imagine that it will gradually come down to humanistic moral values that human rights are based on. I might be wrong on this though.
I'm looking forward to your reply on this. Smiling

Quote:
1) Accept that you reap the benefits of theistic thinking.

There's benefits in human rights?
We hardly need to derive them from theism then!

Quote:
5) Justify human rights without God. On what grounds do you explain that all humans are equal?

Some of us believe in fairness, some of us value the wellbeing of other people, some of us see it as necessary rule for a good society (which we will benefit from).
Most of us have lots of reasons for believing in human rights.


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Onion wrote: Actually what

Onion wrote:

Actually what I am trying to say is that many of the things that the societies of the U.S., England and Europe value, such as human rights, are derived from theism.

 

And I say you're wrong. Thousands of years as working as a community brought about such things as human rights. Theism has been quite successful at highjacking a natural process. At least, in the eyes of the theist anyway. Yet more often than not it steps on said human rights. Go figure.

 

Onion wrote:
  Therefore, to be intellectually honest as an atheist, you have to do one or more of the following:

1) Accept that you reap the benefits of theistic thinking.

 

The only benefit I get from the existance of theists is a slightly higher pay some days of the year. Which I'd get anyway, since we are good at giving ourselves days off to celebrate something or another. It would just be on different days. 

 

Onion wrote:
2) Stop calling theism a mind disorder because the values that you hold (i.e. human rights) were established and put into practice by theists.

 

Fallacy. It is a mind disorder, partially for trying to claim something that doesn't belong to it. Also for belief in the non-existant.

 

Onion wrote:

3) Accept the fact that you suffer from the mind disorder of theism because you accept the concept of human rights.

 

Lie.

 

Onion wrote:

4) Disavow human rights as theistic drivel.

 

Except it has nothing to do with theism, so it's hardly theistic drivel.

 

Onion wrote:
5) Justify human rights without God. On what grounds do you explain that all humans are equal?

 

All humans are not equal. Though it would be nice if it were true. In the future it's possible. If it happens then, how about the fact that we all come from the same source, Earth? Or maybe that we're all human? Perhaps the fact that everyone is alive would be enough?

 

Onion wrote:

 Within the context of this conversation, you have done none of the above.

You have nothing to base your assessment on. Try again.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


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 -Let me just make this

 -Let me just make this clear to you Onion, atheists derive their morality from the simple realisation that there's no god to look out for us and so we have to make the best of what we've got ourselves. We understand that the only thing holding society together is us and we do so through cooperation, the foundation of morality. Ponder this logically; if you lived in a 100% atheist society do you think it would be beneficial to you if everyone, you included, tried to steal, rape and kill to get what you wanted? No, this would crush the society and the individuals. As this kind of action would hurt you it is not beneficial to be selfish, it is not beneficial to commit crimes. Now don't get me wrong here, thinking that if we got rid of theism everything would be just super does not follow, I'm confident that secterian conflicts wouldn't be profound anymore thoughTongue out.

-It seems to me that you're not thinking these things through very well, you just assume that god is necessary for morality without ever questioning that assumption. This is what the RRS is trying to combat, people making irrational assumptions based on some 5000/2000 year old book and a mythical hippie.
Open your mind a little, question things; I mean if your faith is strong it should stand up to some inspection shouldn't it? During the last three days I've been trying to make a reasonable arguement for christianity and I've actually made some headway. Of course it's fundamentally flawed and there's no way around that but I entertain these things because it is important to do so; if I do not then I'm a hypocrite.


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Onion wrote: John Locke,

Onion wrote:
John Locke, upon whose work the Declaration of Independence is based, was a devout Christian.

 

I'm sorry but I have to dispute this, in John Locke's time religious persecution was taking place and a lot of people would have hidden their true religious or non-religious views and just made out to be a christian.

 

There is a very good section at the following link about what John Locke's religious views may have been, it makes interesting reading as most of the ideas he formulated went against a lot of religious views at the time.

 

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/locke/#LocRelTol

 

Additionally it wasn't until around the late 18th century, well after Locke had passed away that atheism started to become more acceptable. Up until then you were a really really bad person if you were one.

 

So for Locke he may have very well been an atheist.

 

Regards,

UltraMonk

 

: Freedom - The opportunity to have responsibility.

: Liberty is about protecting the right of others to disagree with you.

 


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Let me start this post by

Let me start this post by saying thank you to everyone who has posted in this discussion — this has been a lot of fun!

 

Vastet wrote:
All humans are not equal.

Thank you for being intellectually honest.

 

Strafio wrote:
Why should we give rights to something created in the image and likeness of God? I don't know what you reason for this is but imagine that it will gradually come down to humanistic moral values that human rights are based on. I might be wrong on this though.
I'm looking forward to your reply on this.

I am glad you are looking forward to it.

Human rights depend upon the concept of human equality. I could list several examples from history when human equality was not accepted, but I'll just use slavery and racism against African-Americans in the U.S. When human equality is not accepted, human rights do not exist. In the South, before and following the Civil War, African Americans human rights were continually being trampled on because they were not accepted as equal.

As Vastet has pointed out, humans are not equal, not in any observable, scientific way. How, then, can we understand everyone as equal? How do we overcome the radical inequality between someone born with a devastating genetic disease and someone who is in peak physical condition? How can we say that someone with down syndrome is equal to a mathematical genius? We can't. Unless, we understand that God created every human being, genetic disease, physical health, genius, or no. Not only that, but he endowed everyone with his image and likeness. Thus, despite all other inequalities, every single human being in the world is equal in this way. This equality is greater than the mere concept that we are all human. This is a divine image — Christ can be seen and revealed in every human being — and the likeness means that everyone has the power and ability to become like God in their own unique and unrepeatable way. 

It is in recognizing this image and likeness in everyone of our fellow human beings that makes human rights possible. This radical equality overcomes the vast sea of inequality that is out there. Equality, in any real or tangible form, is only possible through God. 

Vastet wrote:
And I say you're wrong. Thousands of years as working as a community brought about such things as human rights. Theism has been quite successful at highjacking a natural process. At least, in the eyes of the theist anyway. Yet more often than not it steps on said human rights. Go figure.

The historical record says otherwise. Human rights specifically come from Christianity. If Christianity had never existed, the concept of human rights would not exist. Why? As I have repeatedly stated, human rights are based on Christian ideas, a Christian world-view, and Christian values. Without these, human rights don't happen.

Vastet wrote:
Yet more often than not it [theism] steps on said human rights. Go figure.

Theism doesn't trample on human rights, people do. I hope I have been careful enough in my posts to differentiate between atheism and the actions of people. If I have not, I apologize. There will always be evil in the world, and there will always be people willing to do evil things. The question is how do we understand evil and how we deal with evil. As I have been trying to point out, Christianity societal mechanisms and concepts (like human rights) that can forestall or slow down people who want to commit evil. Atheism, when used as a foundation for society, is vulnerable to those who want to do evil. The historical record bears this out. Atheistic societies have all fallen into the clutches of evil and have ended up committing heinous crimes against there own people. Christian societies are much better equipped to recognize evil for what it is and do something about it. For example, slavery no longer exists in the U.S. and it is no small coincidence that the greatest figure in the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, was a Christian pastor.  

roadkill wrote:
Now don't get me wrong here, thinking that if we got rid of theism everything would be just super does not follow, I'm confident that secterian conflicts wouldn't be profound anymore though.

Thank you for the honesty. Nor am I saying the world is perfect as it is (far from it!). However, I think sectarian conflicts would increase, not decrease. Humans are hard-wired to be social creatures. We need to belong to some kind of group. The concept of God and church creates a universal group in which all of humanity can belong. Without this, humanity balkanizes into many different kind of groups with an infinite number of possibilities and parameters. Tribalism is a classic example of this. Thus, the possibility for conflict actually increases. Given atheism's inherent vulnerability to evil, that conflict can very quickly escalate beyond control.  

roadkill wrote:
Open your mind a little, question things; I mean if your faith is strong it should stand up to some inspection shouldn't it? During the last three days I've been trying to make a reasonable arguement for christianity and I've actually made some headway.

Trust me, I have a very open mind. I hope I have demonstrated that in some small way with this conversation. In fact, at one time in my life I actually agreed with many of the people who are now telling me I am wrong. However, the longer I looked at the world, at history, at Christianity, and at myself, the more I realized that how wrong I was. My faith is something that comes from many years of questions and very close inspection. At the end of the day, the world is much better off with Christianity in it than without it.


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UltraMonk wrote: So for

UltraMonk wrote:
So for Locke he may have very well been an atheist.
Sorry, i hate to burst your bubble. Locke was a Christian. His summary of human rights was Life, Liberty and Property. In this context, he defended human rights by saying that every human being was the property of God. Therefore, if you deny someone their rights, you are messing with God's property. 


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Onion wrote: UltraMonk

Onion wrote:
UltraMonk wrote:
So for Locke he may have very well been an atheist.
Sorry, i hate to burst your bubble. Locke was a Christian. His summary of human rights was Life, Liberty and Property. In this context, he defended human rights by saying that every human being was the property of God. Therefore, if you deny someone their rights, you are messing with God's property. 

 

Don't worry, you didn't actually burst my bubble. As I stated, he *MAY* have been an atheist, then again he *MAY* have been a Muslim, and yes he very well *MAY* have been a Christian.

 

Just because someone would draw upon the bible or some other religious texts for inspiration in forming a group of ideas in no way means that the person themselves is a christian. It is the same as if you wrote an essay in high school and drew upon the bible for a phrase or an idea in it, does this mean you are a devout christian? Does it mean that the essay is god inspired? It certainly does not.

 

Remember the religious climate he was in, he would have been persecuted if he was seen to be anything other than a christian. So it is also possible that any references to christianity, god or the bible he made was for convenience.

 

After reading through several texts about Locke it gives me the impression that a lot of the ideas he had and what we have implemented in our societies actually goes against what the church(es) want. He managed to reduce the amount of power that your religion, your church and your god has over the general populace.

 

Here is a part of the text I gave the link too:

 

Locke's arguments for religious toleration connect nicely to his account of civil government. Locke defines life, liberty, health and property as our civil interests. These are the proper concern of a magistrate or civil government. The magistrate can use force and violence where this is necessary to preserve civil interests against attack. This is the central function of the state. One's religious concerns with salvation, however, are not within the domain of civil interests, and so lie outside of the legitimate concern of the magistrate or the civil government. In effect, Locke adds an additional right to the natural rights of life, liberty, health and property -- the right of freedom to choose one's own road to salvation.

 

Locke himself wanted seperation from church and state. He clearly had life, liberty, health and property not be subject to religious whims at all.

 

I'm sorry, I really think that Locke may have seemed Christian just for the sake of it. Here was a man who clearly wanted that no church, no faith, no religion and no god should have power over our government or our lives.

 

Regards,

Simon Richards

 

: Freedom - The opportunity to have responsibility.

: Liberty is about protecting the right of others to disagree with you.

 


Vastet
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Onion wrote:Let me start

Onion wrote:

Let me start this post by saying thank you to everyone who has posted in this discussion — this has been a lot of fun!

Vastet wrote:
All humans are not equal.

Thank you for being intellectually honest.


You're welcome, though it's something I strive for generally. It should be noted this is something of a philiosophical viewpoint based on observation of the world as it is today. It is not to suggest that humans cannot be equal, or should not be equal on a moral level. 

Onion wrote:
Vastet wrote:
And I say you're wrong. Thousands of years as working as a community brought about such things as human rights. Theism has been quite successful at highjacking a natural process. At least, in the eyes of the theist anyway. Yet more often than not it steps on said human rights. Go figure.

The historical record says otherwise. Human rights specifically come from Christianity. If Christianity had never existed, the concept of human rights would not exist. Why? As I have repeatedly stated, human rights are based on Christian ideas, a Christian world-view, and Christian values. Without these, human rights don't happen.

The historical record does no such thing. The historical record shows that the greatest immoral acts have been designed and carried out by the religious. The historical record shows dozens of civilizations that lived by a moral code millenia before christianity was even concieved of, let alone it's existance. The concept of basic human rights on a special(species) level is a very recent one. As in, the last 50 years. If it were a christian ideal, it would have been in practice 2000 years ago.

Onion wrote:
Vastet wrote:
Yet more often than not it [theism] steps on said human rights. Go figure.

Theism doesn't trample on human rights, people do.

In the name of theism. Your argument is equivalent to the bunch of crazies in the US that are part of some gun toting freedom bullshit. "Guns don't kill people, people kill people". Maybe so, but a gun makes it a thousand times easier to do, and takes away 99% of the risk involved to ones self. Take away the guns, and you greatly reduce the murder and theft rate, amongst other things. Religion is the same. Though I should thank you for providing the backing for said moral argument.

Onion wrote:
  I hope I have been careful enough in my posts to differentiate between atheism and the actions of people. If I have not, I apologize. There will always be evil in the world, and there will always be people willing to do evil things. The question is how do we understand evil and how we deal with evil.

While not exactly an expert, I would suggest it is a medical issue. The majority of those who commit acts you describe as evil are mentally unstable in various ways. Those who aren't need an ideal to carry out what they are doing. Be it political or religious, but usually religious.

Onion wrote:
  As I have been trying to point out, Christianity societal mechanisms and concepts (like human rights) that can forestall or slow down people who want to commit evil.

Or accelerate it.

Onion wrote:
  Atheism, when used as a foundation for society, is vulnerable to those who want to do evil.

Atheism by it's nature is not something a society can be founded on. It's the lack of belief, not a belief in and of itself. Basing a society on atheism would be akin to basing it on nothing, or turning atheism into something it's not. A society should be based upon freedom.

Onion wrote:
  

 The historical record bears this out. Atheistic societies have all fallen into the clutches of evil and have ended up committing heinous crimes against there own people.

Some have. So have many more religious ones. While not knowing the actual numbers, I can guarantee the theist side has been far more prevalent in falling to chaos. You can't show me a single theist country that exists today that existed 2000 years ago(Israel is a new country, not an old one, so don't try it), so obviously theism falls as well.

Onion wrote:
  Christian societies are much better equipped to recognize evil for what it is and do something about it. For example, slavery no longer exists in the U.S. and it is no small coincidence that the greatest figure in the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, was a Christian pastor.

Strange how slavery fell in Canada first, and how the process had little or nothing to do with god.  

Onion wrote:

Thank you for the honesty. Nor am I saying the world is perfect as it is (far from it!). However, I think sectarian conflicts would increase, not decrease. Humans are hard-wired to be social creatures. We need to belong to some kind of group. The concept of God and church creates a universal group in which all of humanity can belong. Without this, humanity balkanizes into many different kind of groups with an infinite number of possibilities and parameters.

I'm not sure how you can sit there and say this when theism is just as guilty a perpetrator to your suggestion as non-theism is.  

Onion wrote:
 Tribalism is a classic example of this. Thus, the possibility for conflict actually increases. Given atheism's inherent vulnerability to evil, that conflict can very quickly escalate beyond control.

Tribalism is a pre-curser to a society. Once the society has been obtained, a sudden reversal to tribalism would require a devastating act that destroyed society. Atheism is not capable of providing such an act, since by definition it is the lack of action of belief.

  

Onion wrote:
Trust me, I have a very open mind. I hope I have demonstrated that in some small way with this conversation. In fact, at one time in my life I actually agreed with many of the people who are now telling me I am wrong. However, the longer I looked at the world, at history, at Christianity, and at myself, the more I realized that how wrong I was. My faith is something that comes from many years of questions and very close inspection. At the end of the day, the world is much better off with Christianity in it than without it.

I believe you've been subjected to a biased history, world, and view of your own religion. You do come across as intelligent, and I'm relatively certain you're more than capable of coming out of this as more of an atheist than you are(and you are one, you just suspend your disbelief when it comes to christianity). 

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


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I'd like to point out that

I'd like to point out that the church has stood in the way of things like Women's Rights, anti-slavery, and quite a few other things. Indeed, one notices when countries become theocracies, they suddenly end up being backward areas filled with war and and civil strife. This is usually because of the religion and its conflict with other religions. e.g. Ireland.

 

Secondly, most of the strife caused by religious people is because of religion. The inquisition and witch hunts would not have had as much of an effect if most of the people weren't religious. On the other hand, the most commonly cited "evil atheist" is Stalin, and he did those things because he was a power hungry bastard. There is a pattern:

Power hungry bastards = high death toll

Religion = High death toll, while not paying taxes

Atheism = More moral, at least according to these studies:

  • Abraham Franzblau, "Religious Belief and Character Among Jewish Adolescents," Teachers College Contribution to Education, no. 634 (1934): found that the higher the acceptance of religious beliefs, the less inclined to honesty the adolescents became!

     

  • Murray Ross, Religious Beliefs in Youths, New York 1950: a survey of 2,000 associates of the YMCA found that those who labeled themselves atheists and agnostics were more willing to help the poor that those who called themselves religious.

     

  • Travis Hirschi & Rodney Stark, "Hellfire and Delinquency", Social Problems Vol 17 (1969), pp202-213: reported that there is no difference in the likelihood to commit crimes between children who attend church regularly and those who did not.

     

  • R.E. Smith, G. Wheeler & E. Diener, "Faith Without Works: Jesus People, Resistance to Temptation and Altruism." Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 5 (1975) p320-330: in their study found that college-age students in religious schools were no less likely to cheat than atheist and agnostic students in non-religious schools.

     

  • David M. Wulff, Psychology of Religion: Classic and Contemporary Views, New York 1991 p219-220: reported in his vast study that people with religious affiliation and / or attended church regularly and / or rated doctrinal orthodoxy as important tend to be prejudiced, intolerant of ambiguity, dogmatic and racist.
Enjoy.

 


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UltraMonk wrote: I'm sorry,

UltraMonk wrote:
I'm sorry, I really think that Locke may have seemed Christian just for the sake of it. Here was a man who clearly wanted that no church, no faith, no religion and no god should have power over our government or our lives.
On the contrary, he wanted no government to have control over any church, faith or God. And rightly so. When government starts to use coercion to insist upon any religious stance (even secularism and atheism) bad things happen. From a Christian point of view, it messes with human freedom. God does not force us to believe, love or follow him. Neither should governments. Locke was using sound Christian thinking.
Vastet wrote:
Atheism by it's nature is not something a society can be founded on. It's the lack of belief, not a belief in and of itself. Basing a society on atheism would be akin to basing it on nothing, or turning atheism into something it's not. A society should be based upon freedom.
Again, thank you for your intellectual honesty! Basing a society on atheism is a bad thing. Question: on what grounds do you justify freedom?
Vastet wrote:
You do come across as intelligent, and I'm relatively certain you're more than capable of coming out of this as more of an atheist than you are(and you are one, you just suspend your disbelief when it comes to christianity).
Thank you for the compliment. I am quite certain that you, using your reason, are quite capable of becoming a great theist. You've just suspended your belief. Mine was a long, arduous road, but I have seen the Kingdom of God. You can too. 
Sybarite, no one ever said that the religious path was an easy one. From a Christian point of view, it is actually a very difficult one. Christ set the bar. Humans of all stripes (including popes and bishops and other religious leaders) fall short every single day. However, with Christ, we do have that standard, that goal. Without it, the world is a poorer place.


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God does not force us to

God does not force us to believe, love or follow him.

 

So...... What's hell for? "Hi, I want you to give me $100 000 out of your own free choice. If you don't give it to me I'll kill your kid." Ah yes, smell that freedom.

 

Basing a society on atheism is a bad thing. Question: on what grounds do you justify freedom?

 

It's not a bad thing, it's an impossible thing(Seeing as it's a negative). I justify freedom on the grounds that I want it and I want everyone else to have it, I'm not going to explain the source of morals to you because it's abound on this forum so do a search.


Vastet
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Quote:   Vastet

Quote:
 

Vastet wrote:
Atheism by it's nature is not something a society can be founded on. It's the lack of belief, not a belief in and of itself. Basing a society on atheism would be akin to basing it on nothing, or turning atheism into something it's not. A society should be based upon freedom.
Again, thank you for your intellectual honesty! Basing a society on atheism is a bad thing. Question: on what grounds do you justify freedom?

You're welcome. Though I'd add that basing a society on any religious foundation is a bad thing as well. I can't see how a society could be based on atheism. Just the act of basing society on it turns atheism into something it's not.

As for freedom, I justify it on the example of nature.  

 

Quote:
 

 

Vastet wrote:
You do come across as intelligent, and I'm relatively certain you're more than capable of coming out of this as more of an atheist than you are(and you are one, you just suspend your disbelief when it comes to christianity).
Thank you for the compliment. I am quite certain that you, using your reason, are quite capable of becoming a great theist. You've just suspended your belief. Mine was a long, arduous road, but I have seen the Kingdom of God. You can too. 

An interesting thought. Though my reason can never lead me down that road. My belief is permanently suspended. The biggest theological question that noone asks the one who claims he's right and noone else is, is thus:

You're side is losing your great war of gods by the billions. Why the hell would I want to join the losing side?

Quote:

Sybarite, no one ever said that the religious path was an easy one. From a Christian point of view, it is actually a very difficult one. Christ set the bar. Humans of all stripes (including popes and bishops and other religious leaders) fall short every single day. However, with Christ, we do have that standard, that goal. Without it, the world is a poorer place.

I disagree. Remove the god that's always hovering over your shoulder, threatening eternal torture, and the world becomes a much brighter place indeed. Remove it's guiding hand and your accomplishments are infinately greater. Remove it's control over your fear and you can ask the questions that fear held you back from asking.

As one with almost no fear at all, religion seems as a controlling measure for the fearless to control the fearfull.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


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Onion wrote: Human rights

Onion wrote:
Human rights depend upon the concept of human equality. I could list several examples from history when human equality was not accepted, but I'll just use slavery and racism against African-Americans in the U.S. When human equality is not accepted, human rights do not exist. In the South, before and following the Civil War, African Americans human rights were continually being trampled on because they were not accepted as equal.

As Vastet has pointed out, humans are not equal, not in any observable, scientific way. How, then, can we understand everyone as equal? How do we overcome the radical inequality between someone born with a devastating genetic disease and someone who is in peak physical condition? How can we say that someone with down syndrome is equal to a mathematical genius? We can't.


Human rights don't depend on humans being equal, they depend on the ideal that humans should be treated as equals, as an ideal of 'fair play' kind of thing. So it doesn't matter if people are really equal or not - what matters is whether we belive that humans should be treated as equals.
This ideal can be derived from secular morality.

What I'm interested in from you is this:
You say that you value 'equality' because God considers us equals.
Why do you value what God values?
I have a hunch that all reasons that Christians have for believing God is good e.g.
"He made me and I am grateful."
"He brings happiness to those who believe in him"
that they all require secular morality like gratitude.

What's your personal reason? Smiling


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Vastet wrote: As for

Vastet wrote:
As for freedom, I justify it on the example of nature

What, exactly, about nature exemplifies freedom?

Roadkill wrote:
So...... What's hell for? "Hi, I want you to give me $100 000 out of your own free choice. If you don't give it to me I'll kill your kid." Ah yes, smell that freedom.

Hell is not a place, it is a state of being. Hell has no purpose, it is a consequence. At the end of time, when Christ comes again, EVERYONE will be resurrected (including you) and will be embraced by God in love. However, those that have rejected God, hate God, or otherwise don't accept that he exists, will experience this love and embrace as hell. Imagine the most annoying person that you can, someone you truly loathe, and imagine this person embracing you and kissing you for all of eternity.


Are you a parent? If so, this analogy might be easier to understand. God is our Father, we his children. He has told us that if we touch the burner on the stove when it is on, we will get burned. God is not the one putting our hands on the burner, we are. Just because you do choose to put your hand on the burner doesn't mean he will stop loving you. In fact, he so much doesn't want you to, that he took on human form and died so that we might come to fully appreciate how much he does love us.


Vastet wrote:
Remove the god that's always hovering over your shoulder, threatening eternal torture, and the world becomes a much brighter place indeed. Remove it's guiding hand and your accomplishments are infinately greater. Remove it's control over your fear and you can ask the questions that fear held you back from asking.

As one with almost no fear at all, religion seems as a controlling measure for the fearless to control the fearfull.

The irony here is that with God, I have no fear. Death has no sting. With God I know a freedom that I never had when I was without Him. In Christ I have true freedom. Without God, I am a slave. How is this possible? From a traditional Christian point of view (I suggest reading the Desert Fathers) humanity is enslaved by the passions. What are the passions? They are every emotion that we have only distorted. Thus, love becomes lust, anger becomes hate, desire becomes envy etc. Left to our own devices we cannot control these things. We succumb on a daily basis. With God, I am the master of my passions. I am free to be who I really am. Ultimately, I am free to love as God loves.

Human accomplishments are finite. Remove God, who is not only eternal but has granted us his image and likeness so that we, too, can be eternal, and you are not making your accomplishments "infinitely greater," you are dooming them to be merely finite.

Take another look at history, you will see failure and tragedy over and over again. Progress is a lie. Our tools may be more efficient, our luxuries may seem to be greater and even our understanding of the universe may appear to be more complete, but at the end of the day everything we build will decay and end. We will die. Read Thucydides. It is possible to replace every reference to Athens or Sparta with the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. and see that these two great conflicts centuries apart aren't all that different. 

Left to his own devices, humanity is nature's worst beast. We prove that every single day. No amount of reason can change that. A world without God is not a liberating, glorious, place of freedom, it is a decaying, scary, hopeless place full of people who are very much afraid.


Strafio wrote:
What I'm interested in from you is this:
You say that you value 'equality' because God considers us equals.
Why do you value what God values?
I have a hunch that all reasons that Christians have for believing God is good e.g.
"He made me and I am grateful."
"He brings happiness to those who believe in him"
that they all require secular morality like gratitude.

What's your personal reason?

Sure, I am grateful that he made me. But no, he hasn't made me happy. He has given me the strength to endure all the hardships that life throws at me. Thus, life, though harder with God in it, is easier to deal with. Happiness is a choice, my choice.

The question behind your question really boils down to what it is you think God values. Anyone who claims that God only loves or values a certain type of human, or a certain group, or those who believe X has distorted the message of God for their own purposes. God declared all of creation good. No, very good. When we rejected him and fell, he did not stand by and let creation die. He sent his Son, became incarnate, and willingly suffered and died so that all of creation might be saved. What does God value? He values all of creation. He values everything. He values all that we can be. That means using our reason to better understand our world and ourselves so that we might tend the garden and lift up all of creation to God, in communion with him. 

Their isn't a secular power in the history of creation that shares this vision of the world. Something or someone is always determined to be of no value. Which takes me back to the concept of human rights. God, by placing value in every single human being, values and does more than any human would do on his own. Without God, someone would be without value, and thus no human rights.


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Onion wrote: If the stated

Onion wrote:
If the stated goal of Rational Responders is to "free humanity from the mind disorder known as theism," what happens if you succeed? What are the practical consequences of ridding the world of theism? Will the world actually be a better place? Have you spent any time actually thinking this through? The reason I ask is that much of the world as we know and experience it is based on theism. Take the United States, for example. The Declaration of Independence is a theistic document. In fact, human rights are a theistic concept. Humanity as rights, are equal under the law, and are free beings because they are created in the image and likeness of God. What happens to all these concepts when God is removed from the equation? We do have some empirical evidence of what happens when societies "free themselves from the mind disorder known as theism." Within history we have plenty of examples of societies that officially adopt atheism. The French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution and the Communist revolutions all embraced atheism. All of these revolutions exhibited similar patterns of behavior: 1) All of them ended up with authoritarian governments. 2) All of them promoted homogeneity over diversity. 3) All of them arrested and executed their own citizens without trial for such "offenses" as: being an aristocrat, being a theist, being college educated, being influenced by an outside culture. 4) All of them dramatically curtailed freedom. 5) Science and reason both suffered serious blows under these regimes, because both require the ability to question authority, which means questioning those who are in power. The reason that these patterns of behavior are consistent in atheistic societies is exactly because the concepts that protect individual citizens — law, human rights, equality, freedom — are all theistic concepts. This begs the question: which is worse, "suffering" the mind disorder of theism and the concepts of human rights, equality, law and freedom or getting rid of God and run the risk of seeing over 100 million people getting murdered in the 70 years that the Communists ruled Russia?

Like we havent heard this crap before. STOP IT!

I really dont know how to be polite about it. So I will be blunt. 

You fail to mention current and past autoritarian regiems under religion. Iran is an autortarian state run on Islam and the Dark Ages were autoritarian states in Europe run on Christianity.

ANY autoritarian state is bad. Other than the occasional politically correct people  on the left, I would say most here understand how vital the free market of ideas are and none here should seek to silence religion via goverment force.

PLEASE KNOCK OFF THE HILTER CRAP! We have heard it before and it doesnt wash with us and out of all the fallacies that will piss off an atheist quicker than anything else is the thought that we want a world of robots submitting to goverment. BULLSHIT!

"Question with boldness even the existance of God, for if there be one, surely he would pay homage to reason than to that of blindfolded fear" Thomas Jefferson. Who, BTW denied the virgin birth and magical death of Jesus. Would you accuse him of wanting an autoritarian state?

He also once in a letter told John Adams to suck it up when Adams complained about media critizism and muck raking of politicians.

WE do value free speech and dont need big brother to rip holy books out of our neighbor's hands. In fact, we wish more people would read those books without some OVERLORD Preacher telling them how to interpret it. I think people who read it without bias glasses will come to the same conclusions we have here.

BUT, I am sick of people like you selling the idea that atheists are a bunch of emotionless robots seeking the subjegation of others. I dont need my goveremnt to spread atheism. But I am confident that if free speech exists and religious people debate us, that our positions are strong enough to stand on their own.

I think we do a better job of keeping our hands off goverment than Christinas do. Christians want to gang tag goverment property with their sectarian logo and lie and say that is not what they are doing. They are the ones that believe that a god, not a human, is our president. THERE IS A NAME FOR THAT "THEOCRACY"

A theocracy is the athoritarian rule by one religion. 

SO PLEASE KNOCK OF THE STEREOTYPE AND BULLSHIT THAT WE WANT TO BECOME LIKE HITLER AND STALIN, you can go suck an egg if that is what you think. 

You are afraid of our ideas competing with yours. Not our problem. We are not afraid of your bigotry or stereotypes and we are not out to barbaque kittens or spread cooties or take your bible away from you. You merely cant stand that their are people who live here that dont buy your mythology and call it what it is.

So, if you want to come here and debate. GREAT, do so. But your fearmongering is inmature, "The sky will fall if you give up god" is bullshit. 

Grow some nads and poney up with your evidence. But, asking for a neutral government is not authoritarian nor dictitorial. It merely means, "We the goverment will not play favorites to anyone". 

 

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
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Lets get another thing

Lets get another thing streight. Not all atheists are liberal "Gobment pay fo evthing".

I do believe that we need to do more for our neighbors. But having been around for 40 years I have seen goverment get bigger under both parties and waste more and more money.

I think the right wing wants to create a Christian utopia where the nation sucks up to Jesus while the left wants goverment to force their neighbor to pay for everything and never say anything "offensive". I think both ideas suck and both can and will lead to facist states.

Our free market of ideas and pluralism combined with a limited goverment keeps everybody free. Leading by example, not goverment dictation, is how one makes change. So you are sadly mistaken if you think I agree with everything the left may have to say.

I think the "left" has good intent in bringing equality but are headed for disaster if they make goverment the parent insted of doing things on their own. I think the right is just as bad because they want to gang tag the word Jesus on everything and eliminate any compitition to Jesus.

If it were not for Jefferson I would not be criticising religion today. If I am to value my right to call Jesus fiction, as a mater of human nature, I must value the rights of those who'd criticise me even when I find it "offensive".

If it stands to reason that you'd be appauld at Muslims threatening a cartoonist to death over a mere cartoon, what makes you think an atheist minority would or should do something stupid and allow goverment the power of censorship? I'm not that stupid to give a Christian majority that kind of power. So to maintain my own free speech I have a duty to protect yours as well.

SO, do not equate all atheists as being robots asking you to submit to one party rule. One party rule without checks and balances or watchdogs is bad for everyone. More goverment is not an idea solely sold by some atheists, many Christians want censorship and handouts too. I dont want either.

Big Brother, be it a facist right wing state, or facist socialist state without pluralism or a free market of ideas is a bad idea. 

So get your head out of your butt and realize that an atheist can be just as for freedom as a Christian and that an athiest doesnt always agree with other atheists and your stereotypes are nothing but fearmongering bigotry. 

I'd rather live in a society where I am called scum, than live in a society where I cant respond to someone calling me scum because of some stupid pollitically correct "hate speech" law. 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


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Brian37, when do I ever

Brian37, when do I ever accuse you of being a Hitler, a Stalin or an authoritarian? I don't. When do I say that there have never been or never will be authoritarian theocracies? I don't. If you read this conversation, you will note that I fully acknowledge that heinous things have been done in the name of God.What I AM trying to do is ask a serious question: what happens if theism disappears and everyone is an atheist. Based on the historical record my contention is that society becomes far more prone to evil and to people like Stalin. I am also trying to point out that the society that I live in (the U.S.) is founded on theistic ideas. I have tried to point out that concepts such as human rights, equality and freedom are Christian. I have called for you as atheists to defend these concepts without the use of theism. And, if that cannot be done, then I have called for the Rational Response Squad to refrain from calling theism a mental disorder.My overall point is this: the world is better with God in it than it would be without.I apologize if what I have said offends you in anyway, that is not my intention. I just want dialogue.


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Onion wrote:

Onion wrote:
What I AM trying to do is ask a serious question: what happens if theism disappears and everyone is an atheist. Based on the historical record my contention is that society becomes far more prone to evil and to people like Stalin.
Wouldn't a better reason why people like Stalin were atheist or imposed atheism be because they didn't subvert religion to gain their power, and because many religions (including Christianity) have their own power structure, one would need to keep them down to prevent conflicting power? Therefore, I believe you are looking at the question backwards. Also, what about countries that have a higher amount of atheists in them that are not authoritarian?
Quote:
I am also trying to point out that the society that I live in (the U.S.) is founded on theistic ideas.
Many key founders of the US were close to atheism (at least compared to Christianity) or atheist.
Quote:
I have tried to point out that concepts such as human rights, equality and freedom are Christian.
Those ideas are not unique to Christianity.
Quote:
I have called for you as atheists to defend these concepts without the use of theism.
These concepts lead to desirable effects in society and thus should be adopted.  [MOD EDIT - fixed quoting for readability]

"What right have you to condemn a murderer if you assume him necessary to "God's plan"? What logic can command the return of stolen property, or the branding of a thief, if the Almighty decreed it?"
-- The Economic Tendency of Freethought


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Quote: Humanity as rights,

Quote:
Humanity as rights, are equal under the law, and are free beings because they are created in the image and likeness of God.

 

So non-xians arn't humane? Ok, I understand now. 

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Onion wrote:Vastet

Onion wrote:
Vastet wrote:
As for freedom, I justify it on the example of nature

What, exactly, about nature exemplifies freedom?

A better question is what about nature does Not exemplify freedom?

Onion wrote:

Hell is not a place, it is a state of being. Hell has no purpose, it is a consequence. At the end of time, when Christ comes again, EVERYONE will be resurrected (including you) and will be embraced by God in love. However, those that have rejected God, hate God, or otherwise don't accept that he exists, will experience this love and embrace as hell. Imagine the most annoying person that you can, someone you truly loathe, and imagine this person embracing you and kissing you for all of eternity.

Then hell is only a matter of perspective, and one that can be denied or embraced. Meaning that there is no such thing as eternal torment. It can only bother you if you let it bother you.

Onion wrote:
Vastet wrote:
Remove the god that's always hovering over your shoulder, threatening eternal torture, and the world becomes a much brighter place indeed. Remove it's guiding hand and your accomplishments are infinately greater. Remove it's control over your fear and you can ask the questions that fear held you back from asking. As one with almost no fear at all, religion seems as a controlling measure for the fearless to control the fearfull.

The irony here is that with God, I have no fear.

I doubt that very much. Fear is a part of being. There is no such thing as a person who does not experience fear. Religion(amongst other things) can give a key to moving past fear, but the fear still exists.

Onion wrote:
Death has no sting.

Same goes for me. Without god.

Onion wrote:
With God I know a freedom that I never had when I was without Him.

Without god I know a freedom I could never have with one.

Onion wrote:
In Christ I have true freedom. Without God, I am a slave.

This is a contradiction. The bible lays down rules. By definition rules limit freedom. Hence, you are not free as a religious believer. You cannot be free.

Onion wrote:
How is this possible? From a traditional Christian point of view (I suggest reading the Desert Fathers) humanity is enslaved by the passions. What are the passions? They are every emotion that we have only distorted. Thus, love becomes lust, anger becomes hate, desire becomes envy etc. Left to our own devices we cannot control these things.

You are mistaken. I control my emotions constantly. I sometimes choose not to, but it is a concious decision. It can be a mistake to do so, and yet it's my mistake to make. This is freedom.

Onion wrote:
We succumb on a daily basis. With God, I am the master of my passions. I am free to be who I really am.

Sounds like you have a problem. I don't think you are alone however.

Onion wrote:
Ultimately, I am free to love as God loves.

An unsubtantiable claim.

Onion wrote:
Human accomplishments are finite.

To a certain extent. But then humanity itself is finite. Even if we don't get wiped out, 40,000 years from now we'll have evolved enough to not be considered homo-sapiens anymore. So it's a moot point.

Onion wrote:
Remove God, who is not only eternal but has granted us his image and likeness so that we, too, can be eternal, and you are not making your accomplishments "infinitely greater," you are dooming them to be merely finite.

They are already finite. You are merely allowing yourself the ability to recognize this. And suddenly your god isn't the explanation for your work. You are. Which makes it infinately more valuable.

Onion wrote:
Take another look at history, you will see failure and tragedy over and over again. Progress is a lie. Our tools may be more efficient, our luxuries may seem to be greater and even our understanding of the universe may appear to be more complete, but at the end of the day everything we build will decay and end. We will die.

This is a different subject altogether. One that can be explored whether or not there is a god. Fact is however, that the christian god existing makes everything we accomplish absolutely pointless. The only things we do that matter are following the word of god. Armageddon will wipe everything out. So what use is a monument or a piece of art?

Onion wrote:
Read Thucydides. It is possible to replace every reference to Athens or Sparta with the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. and see that these two great conflicts centuries apart aren't all that different.

Most conflicts have similarities by their very nature. There are many differences as well.

Onion wrote:
Left to his own devices, humanity is nature's worst beast. We prove that every single day. No amount of reason can change that.

How, exactly? The human species doesn't do a single thing that is unique to our species. The only things that we do that seperate us from other animals are technological things. And even many of them stem originally from observed nature.

Onion wrote:

A world without God is not a liberating, glorious, place of freedom, it is a decaying, scary, hopeless place full of people who are very much afraid.

It may seem that way to you, but you have it totally backwards.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


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Onion wrote:

Onion wrote:
What I AM trying to do is ask a serious question: what happens if theism disappears and everyone is an atheist. Based on the historical record my contention is that society becomes far more prone to evil and to people like Stalin.
I don't think much will change, at least in the long run. Initially, those people who only behave out of the fear of God will act up and badly. But after some time, they will begin to realize what I have realized (as well as many others, both theist and atheist); our moral behavior has very little to do with god-belief or lack thereof. Ethics is a human issue, and not one of what you think about theology. Our behavior is not learned from god-belief nor is it finally attained when one sheds religion. Morality is something that is an experession of innate faculties applied to the circumstances we find ourselves in. That is, we have the capability of learning moral behavior based on the skills we have to figure out the world, the associations of emotion, and the ability to understand that other people have minds (the whole "mirror neuron" issue that has recently caused much discussion). If everyone was an atheist, eventually the specific dogmatic religious rules would disapear, but the general framework of our behavior would very much be the same. We would have sociopaths, psychopaths, and meglomaniacs, as well as altruistics, volunteers, and inspiring leaders. These things have nothing to do with the belief in God; although often the belief in something fervently (God, a political ideology, etc) is enough to allow people to do horrible things in many cases, because they "demonize" the others who do not share said belief (many Christians literally do this "demonization&quotEye-wink. So yes, with an atheist world bad would still occur, just like if there were no atheists at all. Belief in God is not sufficient. It's the structure of our brains, our psychological state, and the influence of things like hormones, culture, etc that is important in determining behavior, morality, etc.
Quote:
I am also trying to point out that the society that I live in (the U.S.) is founded on theistic ideas. I have tried to point out that concepts such as human rights, equality and freedom are Christian. I have called for you as atheists to defend these concepts without the use of theism. And, if that cannot be done, then I have called for the Rational Response Squad to refrain from calling theism a mental disorder.
And this is exactly the point; These things do exist without theism. But you have to realize that many of these concepts, because they initially developed within a predominantly Christian culture, are painted in Christian colors. The concepts themselves are not theistic, but the concepts around them that allow us to understand them in the way we do are, and thus it is difficult to strip away--historically--the idea from it's cultural origin. Human rights, for example, are painted as if they are natural in that they are given to us. This is not precisely right. The concept of a "right" implies a legalism, which implies that there is a law-giver. Thus, strictly, it is a theistic idea. Nonetheless the idea can be understood by a non-theist by abstracting the concept of a right as given by ourselves-- a set of human beings which is an abstraction that can be attributed to some "god" without much trouble. Really, the right is self-created--by ourselves and the society in which we live. I believe that is how it was expressed by Locke and by the Founding Fathers (influenced by locke) of this country. "We hold these truths to be self-evident," meaning that we understand it and apply it. Human rights can be defended non-theistically this way; I feel the desire for freedom and the right to move about and do with my life as I please. If I recognize that others around myself have similar desires, I have to limit my own freedom and rights insofar as they do not infringe on the rights of others. Therefore, I recognize that myself, being a member of a set of sentient beings with these desires, have rights that we, collectively, agree upon to allow one-another. Where is God in that?
Quote:
My overall point is this: the world is better with God in it than it would be without.

But, if atheists are indeed correct, then the world is as it is without God, which includes the good and the bad. What I think you meant to say was that the world is better with the belief in God. that may be so, but even if it were it says nothing for the truth of God existing.

Shaun

I'll fight for a person's right to speak so long as that person will, in return, fight to allow me to challenge their opinions and ridicule them as the content of their ideas merit.