Religion as an expression

Cpt_pineapple
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Religion as an expression

My nearly two year long argument with Hambydammit have inspired this blog, he claims he has constantly been explaining his position and that I somehow don't grasp it seeing how "obvious" it is.


And according to him I must somehow disprove his claims or at least come up with an alternative explanation as to why religion is supposedly correlated with social ills.



Here I explain my position by arguing that religion isn't the cause of the behaviour, it's an expression of the behaviour.


If Bob builds homes for the poor and says that religion caused him to do it, it wasn't religion,  he was incorporating religion into his compassion.


If Joe throws rocks at a gay club and said homosexuality is a sin, it wasn't religion that caused his homophobia, he was incorporating homophobia into his religion.

 


Nature vs Nuture


If I was wrong, and religion was the only explanation for Bob and Joe's actions, then we shouldn't see non-religious people do charity work, or non-religious homophobes.

But there are non-religious homophobes and charitable non-religious people. So if religion caused Bob and Joe's actions, then what caused the actions of the non-religious people who do the same thing?


Of course, there can be multiple causes of the same action. Bob may donate to cancer research because he knows somebody who died of cancer, but John may donate because he is a compassionate person. Some causes can be enviromental [Bob's donation] or intrinsic [John's]

But what a minute here maybe there are two sides of the same coin. It's not like that Bob was an apathetic prick and then his friend dies of cancer then he donates.

Perhaps Bob was a compassionate person and merely expressed his compassion in different ways than John. Had his friend not died, Bob could have expressed his compassion in other ways.

In other words, nature determines how we react to nuture.

But it goes deeper than that doesn't it?

What about the Milgram experiments where rational compassionate participants administered shocks they knew would injure or even kill the person? In the Ashe line experiements, educated rational people picked a line that was clearly too short or long in order avoid going against the crowd?

Or the terrorist groups that have rational, educated, intelligent and compassionate people knocking on their door to join?


 The enviroment let the person administer lethal shock, the enviroment caused the people to pick the wrong line. They wouldn't have done it under different circumstances. If the person was alone, they would have stopped giving shocks, or picked the correct line.



Doesn't this leave at least the possibility that it's religion and that growing up in a religious enviroment will have this effect?




Rationality of Faith



Faith is irrational. Believing things despite absence of evidence [*cough**cough*] or evidence to the contrary isn't really logical or rational. Couldn't I justify anything using it? A gremlin in my sock drawer?


Well, yes it can be used to justify anything, but it doesn't get used that way. If I told even the most devout Christian that there was an invisible gremlin in their sock drawer, what are the odds they would believe me? If belief in God and religion is irrational and they accept that, why won't they accept the Gremlin in my sock drawer?

Here, I argue that since faith/ God belief is irrational, it's not the origin of the feelings or beliefs per se, but rather an expression of the feelings.

Since it can't be derived logically/rationally, it has to be a secondary expression of already existing feelings/desires.




Diversity of Theists and Override Power of Faith


Theists are a rather diverse group. Some think homosexuality is a sin, some don't. Some think drinking and lusting is a sin, some go out and party every night and try to hook up.

Why is this? Because faith can't override basic human instincts/needs.

Humans are selfish creatures. If we think that going out and getting shit hammered on Saturday night is fun then we are less likely to view drinking as a sin than if we think drinking out all night is stupid and reckless.

The Christians that drink are well aware that their are other Christians that view drinking and lusting as sinful, and that if they engage in these activities they are going straight to hell, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

 Yet they still drink/lust even though they basically share the same belief system as those that think drinking/lusting is a sin.

It's because faith can't override their desire to get shit hammered.

If faith/God belief can override our inert beliefs/desires, then we should be seeing some monolithism within religion. A Canadian Christian should hold the same beliefs as a Polish Christian, they are taking them on faith after all.

If it can override our basic desire, then why do people you had abstence only education have sex at the same frequency [not higher, contrary to popular belief] as people who don't?

Why is the Christian divorce rate higher than the non-Christian divorce rate [27% and 24% respectivley] I mean shouldn't faith keep them together? Shouldn't it operate in evidence to the contrary that the marriage would work out?

I have yet to even see a coherent mechanism that can even determine what we do and don't take on faith that would override our basic desires/feelings/beliefs/


Many homophobic Christians cite Leviticuis as their justification for their homophobia. But an interesting question would be why then do they not see shellfish as an abomonation?  Isn't that in there too? Why don't they keep slaves?


Because the homophobia goes with their inert feelings, but the shellfish and slaves do not.

 

 




 What About the Data?


What about the data? I mean religion being a scourge upon the Earth is positive claim right? So shouldn't we

see empirical evidence that doesn't rely on confirmation bias or anecdotes show this


Well the good news, is that there are people who are studying this. The bad news is that not evidence has really shown up in the favour of religion causing the ills it is accused of.


Scott Atran who is a research director at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, has been doing empirical studies of the cognition of religion and it's effects of society.

I think he puts it better than I can here


http://www.edge.org/discourse/bb.html#atran

You can also see Sam Harris's response if you scroll up the page. Notice how Harris doesn't make any mention of studies and Atran does?

Some highlights:


Of course, if it can be proven that religious beliefs are particularly dangerous to life and limb — at least any more dangerous than a belief in the cleansing power of "democracy" — attempts at (say) de-Islamicization might be as important as de-Nazification. Yet there is no such proof, and in the absence of any proof, or even compelling data of any sort. In fact, those of us doing actual empirical research in this area have uncovered evidence to the contrary of what was claimed. Jeremy Ginges, a psychologist at the New School, finds that belief in God does not promote violence, combative martyrdom or almost anything else the "God delusion" was blamed for at the conference







So I guess "it's obvious" or "I don't have to prove that people at baseball games eat hotdogs" doesn't stand up to scientific rigor. Go figure.

 

 

 


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Not to make this another

Not to make this another broken record party, but it seems as though religion still serves as a fantastic excuse to do stuff that ordinarily would be morally uncomfortable. It's just not the only one (which I think is part of your point), and the mechanism seems to be merely social expediency.

Nationalistic thinking, for example, can manufacture the same kind of odd social environments.

For instance, the average person is not going to be enthusiastic about actually murdering someone. Maybe the fantasy of taking out some aggression on the boss or whatever, but actual murder is not just icky in practice, it's morally uncomfortable. The social situation of war, however, demands that those easy-to-understand feelings of discomfort be squashed in favour of "getting the bad guy" or "downing a target". Clearly mental, but it's something we accept as normal, because everyone is doing it, or because "there are bad people in the world" or [insert ridiculous platitude here]. Drafted Vietnam veterans had a terrible time with the fact that they had shot and killed people, but at the time, the social situation demanded it.

Or how about the infamous Josef Mengele? Was it really religion that allowed him to perform all those experiments on people? There isn't a lot of evidence to support that. He was just a twisted fuck who took an opportunity to torture people who were defenseless. The social situation which allowed for that was a totalitarian regime with "nationalist" in the title. Ultimately, there's simply a very small portion of the population that is sociopathic to varying degrees, and the social situation there allowed this one sociopath the freedom to do more of what he wanted to do anyway.

Why compare those two, when the former starts with normal draftees, and the latter is an extreme sociopath? Because the real convergence is a social mechanism that allows for or encourages sociopathic behaviour, and it just happens to coincide with us-and-them thinking. Religion is just another way to differentiate behaviours, and create the dehumanized "other".

That said, an excuse is not a cause. I don't think religion causes behaviour, but it is a social institution, and like any social institution, it can allow for awful things.

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Yes Will that is part of the

Yes Will that is part of the point.

 

If you have a stash of gold, and I really want it, but I can't use religion to justify my actions, do you really think that will stop me from trying to take it?

 

The point is that even if religion is taken away, the desire is still there, and as I've said human irrationality will just subsitute something in place of religion. It happens all the time. Atheists murder, they can't use religion to justify it, so they just get another excuse.

 

It's like a water bed, supresss on side, and the other side bulges up.

 

There's a reason psychologists have to go through years of training. Because they have to peel pack the onion layers and get to the actual root of the behaviour before they can change.

 

Getting rid of one justification in no way dispels the desire which is the actual cause of the action.

 

 

 

 


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Religion can be used as an

Religion can be used as an excuse to hide behind, but it can also be the cause of, for example someone that has grown up with the religious mindset that certain things are wrong no matter what, say homosexuality, it's not like they were homophobic, then found religion and use it to hide behind, it's because of religion they are homophobic. Religion gives them the reason and causes to be homophobic.

Now using your first example, bob, what if bob doesn't really feel the compassion but is compelled out of fear of angering his god because his priest said that if he didn't do such things that he would go to hell and be tortured (this example I used because it's actually a real scenario that I have talked with a friend with), it's not using religion as the expression behind the behaviour, it's the cause of the behaviour, due to the religious mindset that if he doesn't he will go to hell and be punished.

It also can be used as a reward system which in the past and present it has been used as such. Religion can be the cause for behaviour and it can be the expression for such said behaviour.


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You guys argued for almost

You guys argued for almost two years...about that ?

*facepalm*


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:My

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

My nearly two year long argument with Hambydammit have inspired this blog, he claims he has constantly been explaining his position and that I somehow don't grasp it seeing how "obvious" it is.


And according to him I must somehow disprove his claims or at least come up with an alternative explanation as to why religion is supposedly correlated with social ills.



Here I explain my position by arguing that religion isn't the cause of the behaviour, it's an expression of the behaviour.


If Bob builds homes for the poor and says that religion caused him to do it, it wasn't religion,  he was incorporating religion into his compassion.


If Joe throws rocks at a gay club and said homosexuality is a sin, it wasn't religion that caused his homophobia, he was incorporating homophobia into his religion.

 


Nature vs Nuture


If I was wrong, and religion was the only explanation for Bob and Joe's actions, then we shouldn't see non-religious people do charity work, or non-religious homophobes.

But there are non-religious homophobes and charitable non-religious people. So if religion caused Bob and Joe's actions, then what caused the actions of the non-religious people who do the same thing?


Of course, there can be multiple causes of the same action. Bob may donate to cancer research because he knows somebody who died of cancer, but John may donate because he is a compassionate person. Some causes can be enviromental [Bob's donation] or intrinsic [John's]

But what a minute here maybe there are two sides of the same coin. It's not like that Bob was an apathetic prick and then his friend dies of cancer then he donates.

Perhaps Bob was a compassionate person and merely expressed his compassion in different ways than John. Had his friend not died, Bob could have expressed his compassion in other ways.

In other words, nature determines how we react to nuture.

But it goes deeper than that doesn't it?

What about the Milgram experiments where rational compassionate participants administered shocks they knew would injure or even kill the person? In the Ashe line experiements, educated rational people picked a line that was clearly too short or long in order avoid going against the crowd?

Or the terrorist groups that have rational, educated, intelligent and compassionate people knocking on their door to join?


 The enviroment let the person administer lethal shock, the enviroment caused the people to pick the wrong line. They wouldn't have done it under different circumstances. If the person was alone, they would have stopped giving shocks, or picked the correct line.



Doesn't this leave at least the possibility that it's religion and that growing up in a religious enviroment will have this effect?




Rationality of Faith



Faith is irrational. Believing things despite absence of evidence [*cough**cough*] or evidence to the contrary isn't really logical or rational. Couldn't I justify anything using it? A gremlin in my sock drawer?


Well, yes it can be used to justify anything, but it doesn't get used that way. If I told even the most devout Christian that there was an invisible gremlin in their sock drawer, what are the odds they would believe me? If belief in God and religion is irrational and they accept that, why won't they accept the Gremlin in my sock drawer?

Here, I argue that since faith/ God belief is irrational, it's not the origin of the feelings or beliefs per se, but rather an expression of the feelings.

Since it can't be derived logically/rationally, it has to be a secondary expression of already existing feelings/desires.




Diversity of Theists and Override Power of Faith


Theists are a rather diverse group. Some think homosexuality is a sin, some don't. Some think drinking and lusting is a sin, some go out and party every night and try to hook up.

Why is this? Because faith can't override basic human instincts/needs.

Humans are selfish creatures. If we think that going out and getting shit hammered on Saturday night is fun then we are less likely to view drinking as a sin than if we think drinking out all night is stupid and reckless.

The Christians that drink are well aware that their are other Christians that view drinking and lusting as sinful, and that if they engage in these activities they are going straight to hell, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

 Yet they still drink/lust even though they basically share the same belief system as those that think drinking/lusting is a sin.

It's because faith can't override their desire to get shit hammered.

If faith/God belief can override our inert beliefs/desires, then we should be seeing some monolithism within religion. A Canadian Christian should hold the same beliefs as a Polish Christian, they are taking them on faith after all.

If it can override our basic desire, then why do people you had abstence only education have sex at the same frequency [not higher, contrary to popular belief] as people who don't?

Why is the Christian divorce rate higher than the non-Christian divorce rate [27% and 24% respectivley] I mean shouldn't faith keep them together? Shouldn't it operate in evidence to the contrary that the marriage would work out?

I have yet to even see a coherent mechanism that can even determine what we do and don't take on faith that would override our basic desires/feelings/beliefs/


Many homophobic Christians cite Leviticuis as their justification for their homophobia. But an interesting question would be why then do they not see shellfish as an abomonation?  Isn't that in there too? Why don't they keep slaves?


Because the homophobia goes with their inert feelings, but the shellfish and slaves do not.

 

 




 What About the Data?


What about the data? I mean religion being a scourge upon the Earth is positive claim right? So shouldn't we

see empirical evidence that doesn't rely on confirmation bias or anecdotes show this


Well the good news, is that there are people who are studying this. The bad news is that not evidence has really shown up in the favour of religion causing the ills it is accused of.


Scott Atran who is a research director at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, has been doing empirical studies of the cognition of religion and it's effects of society.

I think he puts it better than I can here


http://www.edge.org/discourse/bb.html#atran

You can also see Sam Harris's response if you scroll up the page. Notice how Harris doesn't make any mention of studies and Atran does?

Some highlights:


Of course, if it can be proven that religious beliefs are particularly dangerous to life and limb — at least any more dangerous than a belief in the cleansing power of "democracy" — attempts at (say) de-Islamicization might be as important as de-Nazification. Yet there is no such proof, and in the absence of any proof, or even compelling data of any sort. In fact, those of us doing actual empirical research in this area have uncovered evidence to the contrary of what was claimed. Jeremy Ginges, a psychologist at the New School, finds that belief in God does not promote violence, combative martyrdom or almost anything else the "God delusion" was blamed for at the conference







So I guess "it's obvious" or "I don't have to prove that people at baseball games eat hotdogs" doesn't stand up to scientific rigor. Go figure.

 

 

 

You ARE missing the point Pinny. All of our emotions are an expression of a reaction to something. The difference between the atheist and the theist is that the atheist doesn't assign natural human qualities to a super natural source.

If Bob builds a house, there is no god telling him to do so. He merely wants to believe that a god told him to do so. The capability of compassion is in all of us and is not dependent on a deity in order for us to express it, anymore than a deity is needed for us to express anger or hate or jealousy.

Believing that our emotions are a result of a disembodied being is absurd. We know, however, that humans have had a long history of inserting bad answers into gaps. Thor makes lighting........Isis had sex with the re-animated penis of Osirus to give birth to Horus.......All these things people literally believed and OUTWARDLY EXPRESSED in their emotions assigning them to these fictional beings, believing them to be real.

Quote:
So I guess "it's obvious" or "I don't have to prove that people at baseball games eat hotdogs" doesn't stand up to scientific rigor. Go figure.

WTF?

We don't have to prove something after it has been proven time after time after time after time after time.  Do you think it is required to prove that all humans shit?

It is true humans have always had a history of believing in god(s) but that is not the same as proving their existence. "Feces exists" is provable fact. Deity claims are merely what people wish to be real.

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Cpt_pineapple wrote:Getting

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Getting rid of one justification in no way dispels the desire which is the actual cause of the action.

Maybe the picky complication (and source of confusion where religion is concerned) is that there are people who get power by evoking divine righteousness. For example, someone may become a preacher for the unconscious reason that they enjoy exerting influence over others. When they incite actions in others, they've been given the power to do so by the aforementioned social institution (or simply by consensus, which is essentially the same thing), but they're still inciting action.

The "higher power" or "something bigger than each of us" mechanism can be used in this case (and others) to influence behaviour. It's only given that awareness that exerting such influence becomes unconscionable (and cynical). If a preacher were aware of his or her actions (as evidenced by active tax evasion, for example) then it becomes clear that the preacher has simply found a way to be powerful, and, like a politician evoking "patriotism", is being purely manipulative.

Given that knowledge, though, what's to be done? Preachers and politicians can manipulate unsophisticated audiences, and they've done so for thousands of years. It's not new. The only difference now is that a great many of us know we're being had.

In the case of nationalism, a politician can conflate a shared culture with an imperative to sacrifice for the greater good under the umbrella of "the country". It's a common non sequitur, and unexamined, it seems reasonable. In the case of religion, a shared culture does the same thing with a god. Neither really exist. Sure, a country is a group of people all trying to align to the same values, and with agreed-upon borders, treaties and trade agreements, but those are social institutions that are broken, disregarded and misrepresented constantly. The country exists about as much as a god does. That is, a vague notion of "something greater" that nobody can pin down.

The "higher power" mechanism is important to group solidarity, so I'm not sure what can be done about it, aside from being aware that it exerts considerable sociological influence.

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Cpt_pineapple wrote:Yes Will

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Yes Will that is part of the point.

 

If you have a stash of gold, and I really want it, but I can't use religion to justify my actions, do you really think that will stop me from trying to take it?

 

The point is that even if religion is taken away, the desire is still there, and as I've said human irrationality will just subsitute something in place of religion. It happens all the time. Atheists murder, they can't use religion to justify it, so they just get another excuse.

 

It's like a water bed, supresss on side, and the other side bulges up.

 

There's a reason psychologists have to go through years of training. Because they have to peel pack the onion layers and get to the actual root of the behaviour before they can change.

 

Getting rid of one justification in no way dispels the desire which is the actual cause of the action.

  

 

But isn't religion a social institution?  And don't social institutions cause harm or give benefit based on what they perpetuate in a society?

 

If Group A works to perpetuate racism and group B works to perpetuate racial harmony, both groups are responsible for shaping the world.  Neither A nor B are responsible for racism or harmony, but they are responsible for perpetuation the ideas and as such, they can be attacked directly on their own merit.  If you destroyed Group B, racism would increase and if you destroyed group A harmony would increase, simply by disorganizing the ideals of the institution.

 

Now, if you are saying that religion is not the 'root cause' of a particular behavior or idea, I agree.  Humans are the root cause of behavior and idea. (Edit: But the social institution will change human behavior and ideas, so it must be taken into account)

 

(I don't know which side I am on, because I have not read two years of debate on the subject.)

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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Reading thru that discussion

Reading thru that discussion from Beyond Belief between Scott Atran and the 'Others', I cab see a clear correspondence between Atran vs Dennett, Harris, et al, and Cpt_pineapple vs. Hamby and the rest here.

Scott does seem (to me) to be the master of the art of the subtle strawman, almost certainly not consciously.  The studies he refers to don't quite address the 'real' points that his opponents are trying to point out.

One quote from Scott that struck me as highlighting what I see as wrong with his approach is

Scott Atran wrote:

Some scientists have some good and helpful insights into human beings' existential problems some of the time, but some good scientists have done more to harm others than most people are remotely capable of.

This is a "d'uh" statement to me - of course it's true, but doesn't really say much of significance. Of course there is a spectrum of behavior and attitudes and positive and negative impacts of individual scientists to society. That does not address the issue of what the overall contribution of the scientific study of society and the human mind at all levels is and could be.


It is clearly intended to denigrate and dismiss the real and potential contribution of Science to social, moral, and 'spiritual' concerns, both in providing real insights into the nature of those feelings and in providing a framework for understanding 'Life, the Universe, and Everything', which, IMHO, offers a far deeper and sounder basis for comprehending and dealing with life and reality than religion does, for many people, if not all.

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Cpt_pineapple wrote:My

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

My nearly two year long argument with Hambydammit have inspired this blog, he claims he has constantly been explaining his position and that I somehow don't grasp it seeing how "obvious" it is.

Yeah, that's kind of his M.O. It's just a rhetorical tactic.


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latincanuck wrote:Religion

latincanuck wrote:

Religion can be used as an excuse to hide behind, but it can also be the cause of, for example someone that has grown up with the religious mindset that certain things are wrong no matter what, say homosexuality, it's not like they were homophobic, then found religion and use it to hide behind, it's because of religion they are homophobic. Religion gives them the reason and causes to be homophobic.

Now using your first example, bob, what if bob doesn't really feel the compassion but is compelled out of fear of angering his god because his priest said that if he didn't do such things that he would go to hell and be tortured (this example I used because it's actually a real scenario that I have talked with a friend with), it's not using religion as the expression behind the behaviour, it's the cause of the behaviour, due to the religious mindset that if he doesn't he will go to hell and be punished.

It also can be used as a reward system which in the past and present it has been used as such. Religion can be the cause for behaviour and it can be the expression for such said behaviour.

 

Okay, say you read about Bob in the paper or hear Joe walking around calling people fags, how do you know whether or not it was due to indoctornation?

 

We don't know if Bob or Joe were taught that he was going to hell if he didn't do good, or to hate homosexuals.

 

Quote:

 

But isn't religion a social institution?  And don't social institutions cause harm or give benefit based on what they perpetuate in a society?

 

 

Sure is, but it's a reflection of culture.

 

For example, a Muslim from the strict Saudi Arabia is more likely to want to impose Shia law than a Muslim that grew up in Canada or the US.

 

 

Quote:

 

Yeah, that's kind of his M.O. It's just a rhetorical tactic.

 

 

Yeah, plus the fact he constantly baits and switches.

 

On his blog, I left a comment asking for proof that religion can cause psychosis, he just said he didn't need proof that religion causes prayer, so apperently that proves that religion can cause psychosis and whatever else he claims it to cause because he doesn't have to prove it causes prayer or that people at baseball games eat hotdogs.

 

 


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jmm wrote:Cpt_pineapple

jmm wrote:

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

My nearly two year long argument with Hambydammit have inspired this blog, he claims he has constantly been explaining his position and that I somehow don't grasp it seeing how "obvious" it is.

Yeah, that's kind of his M.O. It's just a rhetorical tactic.

What rhetorical tactic?

Hambi says, "Where is the beef"

Pinney's response is, "How do you know there isn't any beef?"

And on top of Pinney's new age goble dee goo, uses the tactic "I am not like them" to distract that no credible science class or biology class would make Pinney's claims standard textbook material anymore than it would if I claimed I could fart a Lamborghini out of my ass.

Hambi's M.O. is rational and simple, "SHOW ME THE MONEY"

Pinney's response is as typical as a homeless person standing on the street corner shouting that they are Napoleon.

I like Captain Pineapple. But I am not going to treat Pinney any differently than I would a Muslim or Jew or Scientologist. Hambi is not doing anything differently than I would do. Other than that Hambi has a much more gentile bedside manor than I do.

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Cpt_pineapple

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

latincanuck wrote:

Religion can be used as an excuse to hide behind, but it can also be the cause of, for example someone that has grown up with the religious mindset that certain things are wrong no matter what, say homosexuality, it's not like they were homophobic, then found religion and use it to hide behind, it's because of religion they are homophobic. Religion gives them the reason and causes to be homophobic.

Now using your first example, bob, what if bob doesn't really feel the compassion but is compelled out of fear of angering his god because his priest said that if he didn't do such things that he would go to hell and be tortured (this example I used because it's actually a real scenario that I have talked with a friend with), it's not using religion as the expression behind the behaviour, it's the cause of the behaviour, due to the religious mindset that if he doesn't he will go to hell and be punished.

It also can be used as a reward system which in the past and present it has been used as such. Religion can be the cause for behaviour and it can be the expression for such said behaviour.

 

Okay, say you read about Bob in the paper or hear Joe walking around calling people fags, how do you know whether or not it was due to indoctornation?

 

We don't know if Bob or Joe were taught that he was going to hell if he didn't do good, or to hate homosexuals.

We don't know, we would have to know or learn more about them to say for sure, however is a society that tends to be homophobic because it's mainly religious outlook, say islamic or christian background it's not due because the society decided to use religion as a expression of their behavior, but tend to be that way because of religion and the teaching of that religion, but to say that religion is just an expression of a behavior is not true at all. It can be, but it is also a cause of behavior.

Now if bob was a born again christian you might have an argument there. However how do you know? it's the same question back.


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:  Sure

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

  

Sure is, but it's a reflection of culture.

 

For example, a Muslim from the strict Saudi Arabia is more likely to want to impose Shia law than a Muslim that grew up in Canada or the US.

 

 

 

That seems to gloss over the fact that the social institution still exists, and has an impact.  Ideas are not perpetuated without organization, I don't see religions as unique, only very successful.

 

In your example, so what?  If the Muslim was born in a society where that particular religious institution did not exist, his behavior would be different.  The religion is still perpetuating the idea.

 

What else is there to discuss?

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Quote:Now if bob was a born

Quote:

Now if bob was a born again christian you might have an argument there. However how do you know? it's the same question back.

 

It was more of a point that even if you prove conclusivley that religion can cause a behaviour, it is difficult to determine that it was the cause.

 

The "prove" most atheists cite as religion causing a behaviour comes from newspaper stories or anecdotes in which the information of the person in question is unkown.

 

 

 

 

mellestad wrote:

 

That seems to gloss over the fact that the social institution still exists, and has an impact.  Ideas are not perpetuated without organization, I don't see religions as unique, only very successful.

 

In your example, so what?  If the Muslim was born in a society where that particular religious institution did not exist, his behavior would be different.  The religion is still perpetuating the idea.

 

What else is there to discuss?

 

But if religion is so succesful then why is it declining in the US?

 

 

 

 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Quote:

Now if bob was a born again christian you might have an argument there. However how do you know? it's the same question back.

 

It was more of a point that even if you prove conclusivley that religion can cause a behaviour, it is difficult to determine that it was the cause.

 

The "prove" most atheists cite as religion causing a behaviour comes from newspaper stories or anecdotes in which the information of the person in question is unkown.

  

mellestad wrote:

 

That seems to gloss over the fact that the social institution still exists, and has an impact.  Ideas are not perpetuated without organization, I don't see religions as unique, only very successful.

 

In your example, so what?  If the Muslim was born in a society where that particular religious institution did not exist, his behavior would be different.  The religion is still perpetuating the idea.

 

What else is there to discuss?

 

But if religion is so succesful then why is it declining in the US?

  

 

I'm not saying you are wrong, I just don't understand what you are asking me in that sentence, sorry.  (Edit: I think I know what you meant now, but I don't see how it is applicable.  Any social group that has billions of members throughout human history should be defined as 'very successful' shouldn't it?)

 

Religions are just very pervasive social groups (if they were not effective social groups, they would not spread so widely, social groups are Darwinian), but if people don't need them, or they are proved obsolete to their own members and refuse to change, or they have competing social groups that take away their followers the groups will decline and the ideas they perpetuate will wane.

 

Again, I don't know who's 'side' I am on here, because I have not been following the debate, but the practical aspects of religion and how it operates in a society don't seem very mysterious to me either way, so I don't see what the argument is about.  That is probably horribly arrogant on part though, so feel free to correct me.

 

To make the case that religion is not responsible for the actions of the people who make up that group though?  If you do that, you have to apply the same logic to every institution or idea.  It ignore the fact that ideas are contagious.  If you take a society and introduce a new religion (or any organized, popular philosophical/political idea that advocates certain behavior), within a generation that society can be radically altered.  When Russia adopted Communism, it is fair to say that the *idea* of Communism empirically 'caused' certain behavior among the populace of that nation.  Why would religion be different?

 

Again, what is there to argue about?

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BobSpence1 wrote:Scott Atran

BobSpence1 wrote:

Scott Atran wrote:

Some scientists have some good and helpful insights into human beings' existential problems some of the time, but some good scientists have done more to harm others than most people are remotely capable of.

This is a "d'uh" statement to me - of course it's true, but doesn't really say much of significance. Of course there is a spectrum of behavior and attitudes and positive and negative impacts of individual scientists to society. That does not address the issue of what the overall contribution of the scientific study of society and the human mind at all levels is and could be.

Yet another example of a scientific mind giving weasel words the benefit of the doubt, when it's clear that they don't deserve consideration. Someone would have to explain how good scientists have done more harm to others than most people are remotely capable of. I'm serious when I write that, and I know the examples are things like "the atomic bomb", "a bunch of nasty chemicals", the "Shamwow" or whatever. Only that's not science. That's technology.

You could argue that the members of the Manhattan Project knew they were making a huge, earth-splitting bomb, but at that point, you couldn't say it was about the science. The knowledge was there. They weren't strictly experimenting, they were tinkering for energy yield.

This common notion of scientist as Dr. Frankenstein is only there so that "regular" people can feel like scientists are the monster any time one of their new toys doesn't work. To then turn around and say, "look how good scientists can go so wrong!" is just being a bitch-weasel, tapping into that guilt that everyone placed on the scientific community after Hiroshima. Look how science can be baaaaad! Fuck you, Atran.

BobSpence1 wrote:
It is clearly intended to denigrate and dismiss the real and potential contribution of Science to social, moral, and 'spiritual' concerns, both in providing real insights into the nature of those feelings and in providing a framework for understanding 'Life, the Universe, and Everything', which, IMHO, offers a far deeper and sounder basis for comprehending and dealing with life and reality than religion does, for many people, if not all.

Pff. As if "real understanding" and Scott Atran will ever occupy the same space. If that day comes, it will be because real understanding will have coincidentally overlapped with that which glorifies Scott Atran.

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Wow, why is it a favorite on

Wow, why is it a favorite on this board to simply re-define things?

 

 

Yes, Will, bio-engineering anthrax to be more lethal is as much science as bio-engineering a plant to produce cancer medicine.

 

Increasing the effinecny of the atomic bomb is as much science as increasing the effency of a nuclear power plant.

 

 

Anywho, you're missing Atran's point. Increase in scientific knowledge doesn't really make you more or less moral.

 

Bob, I don't think he was making a point about applying scientific study of  society and the human mind, considering he  is taking part in said studying of society and the mind.

 

 

 


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Getting rid of one justification in no way dispels the desire which is the actual cause of the action.

Yeah, but doesn't religion also enforce questionable actions regardless of the individual desire. It's not only used as a qualifier, I'm sure.

What about all the Bob's and Joes out there who would say... "oh I never thought homosexuality/abortion/evolution was such a big deal until Brother whosawhatsit showed me in the inerrant bible in gods own words just how evil and sinful it is" .

It's the sheer weightiness of the religious influence that poses a unique issue, your point seems to sidestep that to focus on content and how content is easily found by Bobs and Joes who are looking for it. Sure, of course that's true but in religion such "content" finds those who aren't looking for it, too.

Where the difference is that religion can and does forcibly impose questionable content on everyone who is looking for something else, just as much, and it's pretty unique in that role to boot, I don't think you've made a significant counter-argument Cpt.

 

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But Eloise, since belief in

But Eloise, since belief in God is irrational, than we make God in our own image.

 

Like I said, the Christians know what other Christians think and it doesn't matter that the other Christians think something is the inherent word of God and evil, whether they were looking for the info or not.

 

 

If Jack the Christian wasn't looking for God's stance on drinking/lusting, was partying every Friday night, it is unlikely that Brother whosawwhatsit will convince him that Jesus likes people being sober and not lusting will cause him to pour his booze down the drain and stop his subscribtion to playboy.

 

 

So I don't see how them not looking for the information really changes anything.

 

 

 

If Jack had no interaction with drinking and partying then perhaps you would have a point, however it is unlikely that Jack wasn't exposed to the party scene.

 

 

 

 


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Looking at that statement of

Looking at that statement of Scott Atran's I quote previously, I realize it is worse than I initially thought. He really does have a prejudice against science - his concession to the positive contributions that some scientists may have made is far weaker than his accusation of the massive harm that he accuses others of having caused. Which is either ignorant or dishonest.

I had problems with this guy the first time I came across him, and this just confirms it.

I have no time for him.

 

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BobSpence1 wrote: He really

BobSpence1 wrote:

 

He really does have a prejudice against science

 

 

Then he made a pretty shitty career choice, don't you think?

 

 

 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:But

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

But Eloise, since belief in God is irrational, than we make God in our own image.

 

Like I said, the Christians know what other Christians think and it doesn't matter that the other Christians think something is the inherent word of God and evil, whether they were looking for the info or not.

  

If Jack the Christian wasn't looking for God's stance on drinking/lusting, was partying every Friday night, it is unlikely that Brother whosawwhatsit will convince him that Jesus likes people being sober and not lusting will cause him to pour his booze down the drain and stop his subscribtion to playboy.

  

So I don't see how them not looking for the information really changes anything.

  

If Jack had no interaction with drinking and partying then perhaps you would have a point, however it is unlikely that Jack wasn't exposed to the party scene.

   

 

I think your point would only be valid if religious doctrine commonly arose spontaneously.

 

I think your example of Jack the Christian is flat out wrong.  I know too many people who are morally conflicted about victimless 'moral crimes' just because they grew up being taught they were evil.  In your example, Jack would have to exist in a vacuum of religious influence.  But he doesn't, he is probably surrounded by it, and has been since childhood, and so it has shaped his ideas on what is right, what is wrong and most importantly where moral authority comes from in the first place.

 

I don't see how you can claim that religious leadership and group thought is not responsible for shaping the morality of religious followers.  Social groups with that kind of devotion are more than just groups of like minded people.  You seem to be treating religion like a kite flying club, where people are united only by their love of kites...but that is too much of a simplification.  Religions have advanced rules, systems, traditions, teachings and philosophies.  Something that advanced cannot be simply a group of like minded people joining because they believe the message already...the message itself is psychologically attractive, it lures human beings and then works to convert their beliefs to match that of the group, and it is self replicating. 

You can take a group of native people who have had the same life style for generations and who have never heard of Jesus, send in a missionary, and a year later they are whacking the foreskins off their children, learning English, exiling their medicine man and harassing the neighbor village to join the club.

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Cpt_pineapple wrote:If Jack

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

If Jack the Christian wasn't looking for God's stance on drinking/lusting, was partying every Friday night, it is unlikely that Brother whosawwhatsit will convince him that Jesus likes people being sober and not lusting will cause him to pour his booze down the drain and stop his subscribtion to playboy.

Yeah, ok. But what about the Jack whose daughter drinks and, let's say, had an abortion? Brother whosawhatsit will can convince him to relegate his child to the drain, whereas previously he may not be inclined, can't he? The point I am making is that religion can impose attitudes on Jack that don't necessarily pertain to his condition at all but the condition of others around him, and then enforce that he take certain actions in response to said conditions.

Cpt Pineapple wrote:

So I don't see how them not looking for the information really changes anything.

 

What it changes is that we're not just talking about religions influence on attitudes to our personal condition, but to the condition of others. It's a different kettle of fish for a person to act against something someone else is "doing wrong" when their religion exhorts them to.

 

Cpt Pineapple wrote:

If Jack had no interaction with drinking and partying then perhaps you would have a point, however it is unlikely that Jack wasn't exposed to the party scene.

 

Well that was my point Cpt. When it's not about what Jack, himself, is doing religion still has a heavily weighted influence over his attitudes and actions towards certain conditions in the human experience. If Jack has no strong opinion on sexuality or contraception or likewise, in a religious environment he can be given one to adopt and be exhorted to act on it in a morally questionable way. 

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Cpt_pineapple wrote: Many

Cpt_pineapple wrote:



Many homophobic Christians cite Leviticuis as their justification for their homophobia. But an interesting question would be why then do they not see shellfish as an abomonation?  Isn't that in there too? Why don't they keep slaves?


Because the homophobia goes with their inert feelings, but the shellfish and slaves do not.

 

 

I believe it might help to clarify my previous points if I respond to this paragraph directly, Cpt.

I would say the homophobia goes with "someone's" innate feelings on the matter, for sure, but to look at Leviticus 18 (emphasis added):

Bible wrote:

29 " 'Everyone who does any of these detestable things—such persons must be cut off from their people. 30 Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the detestable customs that were practiced before you came and do not defile yourselves with them. I am the LORD your God.' "

is to see that it is hardly necessary for the attitude to be preexisting in anyone else to whom this passage gets pointed out.

So to say, it only takes a finite number of heads selecting this chapter because of their own predisposition to point out the last verse and export their bigotry to others whose prime motivation is their intent to be seen as faithful.

The issue is the weight that is lent to that last sentence "I am the LORD your God". Remove that weight and only those who have the innate desire to forcibly impose "sexual moralities" on others have any cause to take ths seriously. It's with the exhortation from "Mr Absolute Authority" thrown in at the end that the disproportionate power of religion is realised. Nevermind that the book is laden with empirical contradictions and crazy talk, as long as the passage insists on its authority as absolute it's damn scary, scary enough to make the weak minded moderate suddenly very opinionated.

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Cpt_pineapple

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

He really does have a prejudice against science

 

Then he made a pretty shitty career choice, don't you think? 

Not entirely sure what his agenda is, but he did make that statement I quoted, and my conclusions still stand, although I perhaps should modify it to 'a reaction against common attitudes and behavior of scientists'.

He is obviously strongly interested in Science and research, he has done well in his career, so your comment is not very relevant. He is commenting on what he sees as what other scientists have done, so becoming a scientist and showing how it should be done is an entirely rational decision.

The point is he appears to object to certain assumptions and attitudes which many other scientists hold, especially on this issue of the 'causes' of terrorism and the influence of religion. Much like yourself, he seems to have this gut reaction to what he sees as unjustified attacks against religion and its effects on societies, to the point where he goes out of his way to devise and report on experiments or observations which seem to support this view, and downplays any evidence which cannot be readily interpreted to support his view.

He probably considers it his mission to correct what he sees as the errors of his fellow scientists, which in itself is not a problem. He should be allowed to pursue his agenda, as long as others are allowed to point out where they see he is wrong.

 

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Cpt_pineapple wrote:Wow, why

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Wow, why is it a favorite on this board to simply re-define things?

Yes, Will, bio-engineering anthrax to be more lethal is as much science as bio-engineering a plant to produce cancer medicine.

Increasing the effinecny of the atomic bomb is as much science as increasing the effency of a nuclear power plant.

So that's not technology? In the context, Atran specifically points a finger at the wrong thing using weasel words. I wasn't re-defining anything; I was pointing out Atran's over-simplification of the problem, and clear equivocation between the process of science and the moral behaviour of individual scientists. Science and technology are obviously intertwined, it just bothers me to have Scott Atran pass judgment on a whole field of people like that. If you're going to pass judgment on people, make it a clear and well-pointed attack, not this vague kindergarten nonsense.

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
Anywho, you're missing Atran's point. Increase in scientific knowledge doesn't really make you more or less moral.

His point was a passive aggressive snipe, so I was throwing it back. If he had said, "increase in scientific knowledge doesn't really make you more or less moral," then I wouldn't have had a problem. That would have been stating the obvious. So, too, would have been "science and technology are intertwined". Instead, he turns it into "good" scientists doing incalculable harm, which is good old-fashioned baby boomer fear mongering. It has nothing to do with the effects of religion.

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Cpt_pineapple

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

He really does have a prejudice against science

Then he made a pretty shitty career choice, don't you think?

Not if his goal was to get an audience, which seems to be the case.

 

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Eloise that would pose the

Eloise that would pose the same problem I brought up with latincanuck.

 

And I'm not entirely convinced that religion can override basic human empathy that stops people from expressing homophobic messages.

 

 

Bobspence1 wrote:

Much like yourself, he seems to have this gut reaction to what he sees as unjustified attacks against religion and its effects on societies, to the point where he goes out of his way to devise and report on experiments or observations which seem to support this view, and downplays any evidence which cannot be readily interpreted to support his view.

 

 

I downplay evidence? What evidence? I've asked Hamby for two years now to produce peer reviewed papers that support his position, and all I got is a lame abstract that doesn't even prove what he says it does.

 

So far all I've gotten is Jack Tomphson quality evidence.

 

In contrast, you can look at Atran's published articles on terrorism and society


 

 

 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:Eloise

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Eloise that would pose the same problem I brought up with latincanuck.

You mean this?

Cpt PIneapple wrote:

It was more of a point that even if you prove conclusivley that religion can cause a behaviour, it is difficult to determine that it was the cause.

 

The "prove" most atheists cite as religion causing a behaviour comes from newspaper stories or anecdotes in which the information of the person in question is unkown.

If so then are you saying you think that you win this argument simply by stubborn refusal to concede a no-brainer? Wow, that's kinda dishonest, Cap.

I did give you the offending material. Is that not enough evidence that religion has the capacity to cause the adoption of attitudes and behaviour in followers, regardless?

 

Cpt Pineapple wrote:

And I'm not entirely convinced that religion can override basic human empathy that stops people from expressing homophobic messages.

You're not entirely convinced that a claim which is given as completely and finally, absolute is ever taken exactly as it is presented? Hmmmmm....

 

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Cpt_pineapple wrote:I

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

I downplay evidence? What evidence? I've asked Hamby for two years now to produce peer reviewed papers that support his position, and all I got is a lame abstract that doesn't even prove what he says it does.

 

So far all I've gotten is Jack Tomphson quality evidence.

  

 

So we need a peer reviewed paper to prove to you that religion causes behavioral changes?  My example of a native tribe that has been converted to Christianity seems to be real, clear and repeatable.  Why would anyone do a paper on something so obvious?  It is a very clear case of cause and effect...religion can make a individual or society take real, physical actions on things they never even considered before its introduction...that is just a fact isn't it?  Are there examples of spontaneous circumcision in isolated societies?  No-one wakes up and says, "I want to chop part of my penis off, so I'll go see if someone has a religion that offers that!"

That has been my main point of concern, I didn't understand what there was to argue about, because this seems to be so easily re-producible.  I don't see how you can even argue the point.  Maybe I am missing something obvious?

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One wonders why if religion

One wonders why if religion is so innocuous then why is it included in the curricula for behavioral science, criminal profiling, and personality theory.

Fromm's

...nevermind. I just remembered who the OP is and thought better of posting.

Even when religion is shown to be A cause of an individual's actions in one of the many anecdotes not permitted for evidence, Pineapple has asserted that it couldn't possibly be among the list of reasons for said actions.

Girl dragged by pick-up truck, exorcism death, Andrea Yates.

Jeesh.

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Well first off, my latest

Well first off, my latest blog entry will show my concerns

 

Second of all, the whole "it's just so obvious" thing is getting on nerves.

 

I mean William Dembski says that it's "obvious" that human cells were designed by a creator.

Alex Jones says it's "obvious" that Bush brought down the twin towers in a controlled demolition.

 

 

The fact of the matter is, is that many things in science [and espcially psychology] are counter- intuative

 

So I don't think the "obvious" assertion isn't going to cut it.

 

Maybe it is obvious, but if it's so obvious, then why isn't there loads of studies to show this?

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:... You

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
...

 

You example is silly.

 

P1 if Suzy thinks that God wants her to have hardwood tiles in her kitchen she would put them there
P2 Suzy has hardwood tiles on her kitchen
C Suzy's religion caused her to have hardwood tiles

 

You example takes a common event that can arise on its own.  There are clearly many events that people simply would not take part in if they were not suggested by religion.

Bob grows up in a secular family, he never worried about his pee-pee.

Bob becomes born again.

Bob chops off his pee-pee cover because the Bible tells him he should.

 

If Bob had not joined the religion, his behavior would be radically different.  Saying we need a peer reviewed journal to show such a basic cause-effect is just stupid.  I agree with you that you can't blame all woes at the door of religion, but to say that religion does not alter the perception and action of an individual or group is just...stupid.

 

I am sure there are plently of journals about cult psychology, read those if you want 'proof' about how a group influences behavior.  Religion might be more mild, but then think about it...I personally know people who believe in talking snakes, demons, magic and literal immortality because they were taught those things were true.

 

(Edit: http://www.thethinkspot.com/sociology/chapters/15/summary  <-- Even sociology texts 'assume' that religion influences people and societies.)

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Instead of addressing points

Instead of addressing points directly, I'll just ask some simple questions if you don't mind.

 

 

1. Many atheists here were indoctirnated to believe that there is a God and if they didn't believe God would send you to hell forever. So then why are you atheist?

 

2.  Many Christians were exposed to the Christian homophobic agenda, why aren't they homophobic?

 

3. Many were indoctirnated to believe that they are going to hell if they have pre-marital sex. So why do people who recieve absitence only education have sex at the same rate as those who do not? Why doesn't their indoctirnation override their desire to get laid?

 

4. What percentage of Bobs out there do it out of compassion and what percentage do it because they think that if they don't do good they are going to hell? What percentage of Joes out there are homophobic intrinistcly and how many are homophobic because they were indoctirnated?

 

 

 

 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:Second

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Second of all, the whole "it's just so obvious" thing is getting on nerves.

So you don't think it's an easy concession to make, Cpt?

The Christian Bible, for example, directly admonishes that a follower must "cut off" gays from their people, (signed sincerely, The LORD your God) therefore the religion of adhering to the solemn dispensation of a homophobic church leader causes homophobic behaviour and attitudes in followers - this is not easy to concede be...cause..... we can't ennumerate methodologically identified cases?

Are you kidding?

 

Cpt Pineapple wrote:

I mean William Dembski says that it's "obvious" that human cells were designed by a creator.

 

Alex Jones says it's "obvious" that Bush brought down the twin towers in a controlled demolition.

And they give their arguments to each as well, ergo implying that the "obviousness" follows from what they have said previously. But in both cases it's a matter of them invoking a very specific charge from very general statements, which is not the case here with the concept of religion having a negative moral influence, the charge is as general as the statement backing it. 

It's the difference between saying Bush tends to get up to no good therefore he is behind this specific ill and, Bush tends to get up to no good therefore he is behind some manner of ills. The latter is obvious, while the former is a logical error, I suggest that what we are arguing here more closely matches the latter case. ie:

Religion is rife with questionable moral messages so removing religion is to remove a questionable moral influence.

Is this not true?

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Eloise wrote:It's the

Eloise wrote:

It's the difference between saying Bush tends to get up to no good therefore he is behind this specific ill and, Bush tends to get up to no good therefore he is behind some manner of ills. The latter is obvious, while the former is a logical error, I suggest that what we are arguing here more closely matches the latter case. ie:

 

 

Ahh but Eloise, it IS about the former. You've been here for over two years, and so have I, how many times exactly was it the former rather than the latter?

 

 

 

Eloise wrote:

Religion is rife with questionable moral messages so removing religion is to remove a questionable moral influence.

Is this not true?

 

 

Like I said I am in no way saying the religion or God belief is rational or that they are a source of good.

 

You're correct of course, religion does teach some nasty things, some stupid things, some good things etc...

But I feel I've already addressed this.

 

The issues I am trying to get to the bottom of is:

 

Is it enough to get rid of religion?

 

Is it better to address the religion or the intrinsic cause of the behaviour?

 

 

 

 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote: Like I

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

 

Like I said I am in no way saying the religion or God belief is rational or that they are a source of good.

 

You're correct of course, religion does teach some nasty things, some stupid things, some good things etc...

But I feel I've already addressed this.

 

The issues I am trying to get to the bottom of is:

 

Is it enough to get rid of religion?

 

Is it better to address the religion or the intrinsic cause of the behaviour?

 

But Capt. If it teaches those things doesn't cause those behaviors, last time I checked if you teach someone to hate from young they tend to hate those they were taught to hate, until something changes that behavior or those teachings. So religion can be the cause of behavior as well, not just an expression.


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:Instead

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Instead of addressing points directly, I'll just ask some simple questions if you don't mind.

 

1. Many atheists here were indoctirnated to believe that there is a God and if they didn't believe God would send you to hell forever. So then why are you atheist?

 

2.  Many Christians were exposed to the Christian homophobic agenda, why aren't they homophobic?

 

3. Many were indoctirnated to believe that they are going to hell if they have pre-marital sex. So why do people who recieve absitence only education have sex at the same rate as those who do not? Why doesn't their indoctirnation override their desire to get laid?

 

4. What percentage of Bobs out there do it out of compassion and what percentage do it because they think that if they don't do good they are going to hell? What percentage of Joes out there are homophobic intrinistcly and how many are homophobic because they were indoctirnated?

  

 

So your point is that because religion is not 100 effective at retaining members, and people often act out of empathy, it does not have a direct role in influencing societies?  Are we arguing different points?  I have to think so, because that does not seem at all relevant.

 

My hypothesis: Religion, when introduced to a society or individual is statistically likely to change the behavior of that society or individual, often in ways very specific to the particular religion.

Capt: ?

 

I don't say anything about good and evil.  Some religion is positive, some is negative.  I don't make the claim that religion has a 100% transmission rate.  Some people believe without thought, some people believe with thought, some people disbelieve without thought, some people disbelieve with thought.  What point are you making?  Can you make your point in a single sentence so I am clear about what you are trying to say?

 

If your point is simply that religion causes more good than bad, that is fine.  I would just ask: why do we need religion to teach good?  What stops us from having a strong moral system that does not rely in any way on the negative baggage religion often totes around?

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:  Ahh

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

 

 

Ahh but Eloise, it IS about the former. You've been here for over two years, and so have I, how many times exactly was it the former rather than the latter?

 

I can't say for sure, Cap, haven't really kept a tally. Sticking out tongue

But specifically in this instance we're talking about an apparent statistical correlation between religiosity and a general spectrum of societal dysfunction, right?

Given the nature of religion is that it is authoritative and often belligerent in asserting that authority, it's no big leap to consider the possibility of it being involved in causing some manner of the observed disharmonies. 

Have I missed a point somewhere, are we talking about something more specific than this?

 

Cpt Pineapple wrote:

The issues I am trying to get to the bottom of is:

 

Is it enough to get rid of religion?

No, of course. No one element would ever be enough to get rid of; there are other arguments for poor attitudes and behaviour than 'God told me to'. Other traditions and philosophies can move right into same place after religion and we probably cannot remove them all.

However we do have the secular statistics which offer some hope that possibly there is an element of religion which makes it a more powerful disseminator of unrest than less sacrosanct alternatives. And again as you mentioned there may be counter-intuitive forces at work in those statistics that we don't anticipate in throwing off religion but what do we have to lose when, lets face it, it really sucks anyway. Good riddance to bad rubbish, we should dump it regardless. 

 

 

Cpt Pineapple wrote:

Is it better to address the religion or the intrinsic cause of the behaviour?

It's far easier and expedient to address the religion, but moreover, it's remiss to not address the religion because:

1. We can be fairly sure that religion spreads conflict so what does it matter the extent? Why should we accept any at all?

2. It is far easier to identify the religious source of a given hostility than the psychological one. And in any case the religious source is lending power and justification to the psychological condition so why not remove it?

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Cpt_pineapple wrote:Is it

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Is it better to address the religion or the intrinsic cause of the behaviour?

From a strictly behavourist standpoint, you'd be chasing your tail for a while on that one. The intrinsic cause of the behaviour is some possible combination of things, including solidarity, the tendency towards "bigger and better", an intense impulse to continue childhood with magical parental figures, hero worship, the creation of fiction and legend, etc, etc. Going after religion at least narrows the field. We only have so long to live, after all, and religion is arguably the silliest cluster of these illusions we create for ourselves.

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This is getting a little off

This is getting a little off topic now.

 

 

This is about whether religion causes or exhasuterbates social ills.

 

This isn't about whether religion or God belief should stay. Get rid of them both for all I care, my topics on this subject are whether religion does or even can cause social ills and if it does and can, to what extend.

 

Maybe I'm not writing clearly, but nothing in my topics or arguments involving this over the years have implied that we shouldn't criticize religious and Theistic claims.

 

 

yesh.

 

 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:This is

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

This is about whether religion causes or exhasuterbates social ills.

 


Yes, it does.

 

It also often causes social good.  I simply don't see why we have to have the baggage of religion to get the benefits of a 'good' moral society.

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:This is

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

This is getting a little off topic now.

This is about whether religion causes or exhasuterbates social ills.

We know that religious institutions can exacerbate social ills, we just aren't clear on whether or not religious institutions can cause social ills. I would say no, because causality is too hard to pin down for anything as vague as "social ill". But a religious institution can certainly make things worse (ie. by making a simple conflict a "cosmic" conflict).

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Cpt_pineapple wrote:

My nearly two year long argument with Hambydammit have inspired this blog, he claims he has constantly been explaining his position and that I somehow don't grasp it seeing how "obvious" it is.


And according to him I must somehow disprove his claims or at least come up with an alternative explanation as to why religion is supposedly correlated with social ills.



Here I explain my position by arguing that religion isn't the cause of the behaviour, it's an expression of the behaviour.


If Bob builds homes for the poor and says that religion caused him to do it, it wasn't religion,  he was incorporating religion into his compassion.


If Joe throws rocks at a gay club and said homosexuality is a sin, it wasn't religion that caused his homophobia, he was incorporating homophobia into his religion.
 

 


Nature vs Nuture


If I was wrong, and religion was the only explanation for Bob and Joe's actions, then we shouldn't see non-religious people do charity work, or non-religious homophobes.

But there are non-religious homophobes and charitable non-religious people. So if religion caused Bob and Joe's actions, then what caused the actions of the non-religious people who do the same thing?


Of course, there can be multiple causes of the same action. Bob may donate to cancer research because he knows somebody who died of cancer, but John may donate because he is a compassionate person. Some causes can be enviromental [Bob's donation] or intrinsic [John's]

But what a minute here maybe there are two sides of the same coin. It's not like that Bob was an apathetic prick and then his friend dies of cancer then he donates.

Perhaps Bob was a compassionate person and merely expressed his compassion in different ways than John. Had his friend not died, Bob could have expressed his compassion in other ways.

In other words, nature determines how we react to nuture.

But it goes deeper than that doesn't it?

What about the Milgram experiments where rational compassionate participants administered shocks they knew would injure or even kill the person? In the Ashe line experiements, educated rational people picked a line that was clearly too short or long in order avoid going against the crowd?

Or the terrorist groups that have rational, educated, intelligent and compassionate people knocking on their door to join?


 The enviroment let the person administer lethal shock, the enviroment caused the people to pick the wrong line. They wouldn't have done it under different circumstances. If the person was alone, they would have stopped giving shocks, or picked the correct line.



Doesn't this leave at least the possibility that it's religion and that growing up in a religious enviroment will have this effect?




Rationality of Faith



Faith is irrational. Believing things despite absence of evidence [*cough**cough*] or evidence to the contrary isn't really logical or rational. Couldn't I justify anything using it? A gremlin in my sock drawer?


Well, yes it can be used to justify anything, but it doesn't get used that way. If I told even the most devout Christian that there was an invisible gremlin in their sock drawer, what are the odds they would believe me? If belief in God and religion is irrational and they accept that, why won't they accept the Gremlin in my sock drawer?

Here, I argue that since faith/ God belief is irrational, it's not the origin of the feelings or beliefs per se, but rather an expression of the feelings.

Since it can't be derived logically/rationally, it has to be a secondary expression of already existing feelings/desires.




Diversity of Theists and Override Power of Faith


Theists are a rather diverse group. Some think homosexuality is a sin, some don't. Some think drinking and lusting is a sin, some go out and party every night and try to hook up.

Why is this? Because faith can't override basic human instincts/needs.

Humans are selfish creatures. If we think that going out and getting shit hammered on Saturday night is fun then we are less likely to view drinking as a sin than if we think drinking out all night is stupid and reckless.

The Christians that drink are well aware that their are other Christians that view drinking and lusting as sinful, and that if they engage in these activities they are going straight to hell, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

 Yet they still drink/lust even though they basically share the same belief system as those that think drinking/lusting is a sin.

It's because faith can't override their desire to get shit hammered.

If faith/God belief can override our inert beliefs/desires, then we should be seeing some monolithism within religion. A Canadian Christian should hold the same beliefs as a Polish Christian, they are taking them on faith after all.

If it can override our basic desire, then why do people you had abstence only education have sex at the same frequency [not higher, contrary to popular belief] as people who don't?

Why is the Christian divorce rate higher than the non-Christian divorce rate [27% and 24% respectivley] I mean shouldn't faith keep them together? Shouldn't it operate in evidence to the contrary that the marriage would work out?

I have yet to even see a coherent mechanism that can even determine what we do and don't take on faith that would override our basic desires/feelings/beliefs/


Many homophobic Christians cite Leviticuis as their justification for their homophobia. But an interesting question would be why then do they not see shellfish as an abomonation?  Isn't that in there too? Why don't they keep slaves?


Because the homophobia goes with their inert feelings, but the shellfish and slaves do not.

 

 




 What About the Data?


What about the data? I mean religion being a scourge upon the Earth is positive claim right? So shouldn't we

see empirical evidence that doesn't rely on confirmation bias or anecdotes show this


Well the good news, is that there are people who are studying this. The bad news is that not evidence has really shown up in the favour of religion causing the ills it is accused of.


Scott Atran who is a research director at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, has been doing empirical studies of the cognition of religion and it's effects of society.

I think he puts it better than I can here


http://www.edge.org/discourse/bb.html#atran

You can also see Sam Harris's response if you scroll up the page. Notice how Harris doesn't make any mention of studies and Atran does?

Some highlights:


Of course, if it can be proven that religious beliefs are particularly dangerous to life and limb — at least any more dangerous than a belief in the cleansing power of "democracy" — attempts at (say) de-Islamicization might be as important as de-Nazification. Yet there is no such proof, and in the absence of any proof, or even compelling data of any sort. In fact, those of us doing actual empirical research in this area have uncovered evidence to the contrary of what was claimed. Jeremy Ginges, a psychologist at the New School, finds that belief in God does not promote violence, combative martyrdom or almost anything else the "God delusion" was blamed for at the conference







So I guess "it's obvious" or "I don't have to prove that people at baseball games eat hotdogs" doesn't stand up to scientific rigor. Go figure.