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Getting along just fine with their lives by no means make religious ideals harmless. Whilst I can't pull up any statistical data on the issue (I don't think a consensus/survey has been done on this matter yet), I can illustrate the harm from an excerpt:

 

[hide=How harm can occur]

 

The "what's the harm?" arguments tend to be used with regard to single cases with a certain context - as illustrated in the introduction; however, harm from irrational beliefs can occur in many different ways depending on who holds them and the position they hold in society. Some ways in which harm can arise from irrational beliefs include:

Financial harm

 

This can occur to individuals, businesses, government agencies, institutions, etc. Spending hours on the phone to 'gifted psychics' can prove extremely costly to the individual; lending huge sums of money to people who can't afford to pay it back in the chase for more profit can prove extremely costly to banks, the government, and ultimately the taxpayer (as we have recently found to our cost!); spending money to 'invest' in an MLM business in the hope of making it rich.... one day.

 

Direct harm

 

Direct harm occurs as a direct consequence of an action or inaction: suffering a stroke after a chiropractic neck manipulation; being poisoned or killed by the unknown compounds in a herbal remedy; a woman needlessly dying in childbirth because her religion has interpreted scripture so that blood transfusions are not allowed; a person dying of cancer through choosing alternative medicine in place of proven treatments; physical/emotional harm caused by avoiding proper medical care because of the belief in alternative medicine.

 

Indirect harm

 

Indirect harm occurs as a consequence of inaction, previous action or due to the beliefs and actions of others: children dying through needless treatments for autism because the parents believe that it was caused by heavy metals in a vaccine despite the evidence against this; severely malnourished children due to being fed a strict vegan diet by their parents; children being harmed or killed by preventable diseases because their parents believe anti-vaccination propaganda; animals enduring curable conditions because their owners choose homeopathic vets or animal acupuncture.

 

Psychological harm

 

Caused by psychological investment in irrational concepts: false hope being given by 'psychic detectives' who involve themselves with murder and missing persons cases; distrusting things like medicine/science/institutions/etc. through conspiracy theories; irrational fears of things like Mercury in fillings, Aspartame in food, or fluoride in water; stress and anxiety caused through the belief in curses and spells, possession by demons, etc.

 

Social harm

 

This can manifest itself by things such as: poor public policy (using lie detectors to monitor paedophiles); wasting resources (using taxpayers' money to fund homeopathic hospitals); preventing scientific research and advances because of religious arguments; making major decisions without basing them on evidence or in spite of the evidence - e.g. going to war based on the belief that the enemy possesses weapons of mass destruction.[/hide]

 

Since you seem obsessed with gathering evidence as opposed to arguing on the basis of reason (as if it's an implausible concept), here's one: http://whatstheharm.net/scientificstudies.html

 

I'm not sure of the relevance of the 'love' analogy - care to explain? They're not even remotely similar. I don't see how it rationalizes your belief that religious ideals/beliefs are harmless.

 

Oh, and in response to the 'full capacity to question their beliefs' - this isn't quite so if they're taught to fear the deity they revere. Is it not mandated that questioning the 'word of (the purported) god' is the equivalent to blasphemy, which is punishable by eternal torture ('hell' as Christian theologians call it)? I realise I'm stepping into the lines of Christian fundamentalism, but that's exactly where the problems lie - why should it be ignored simply because they don't represent Christianity as a whole?

 

EDIT - The most problematic, outspoken theists who cause a majority of the problems are fundamentalists. Of course they won't escape scrutiny.

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You just don't understand unfortunately. Belief is belief. It is not a rational thing, not logical, it cannot be quantified and measured, it is simply belief.

 

[...]

 

I don't think you will ever be able to fully debate religion unless you come at it with an open mind. The amount of times on these forums people have been in despair at your arguments show exactly that. You seem to not understand what religion at at it's core, therefore cannot legitimately argue anything about it.

 

Belief is belief? What sort of tautological nonsense is that? It's quite frankly meaningless in all contexts. Of course beliefs can be rationally based, by definition - in order to reach the position of 'the acceptance of something to be true/valid/existent', it requires logical/emotional thinking.

 

I'm not sure what purpose/relevance 'quantifying' or 'measuring' belief would have in this argument - care to elucidate? It seems that you don't really understand my position. I've never suggested quantifying belief, did I?

 

I don't think you have any right to judge whether I'm thinking with an open mind. It's funny that those critique others of myopia tend to be the ones myopic themselves, thus merely projectors of their own image, but I digress. I'm not sure what you're trying to suggest in your statements regarding the amount of times people have been at contention with me - are you suggesting that on this premise, my arguments are somehow discredited or becomes less valid?

 

I understand religion only partially, and I would appreciate anyone correcting me if I'm wrong. It doesn't tend to be the case, rather - I get personally attacked by the self-proclaimed critics of the board for upholding and defending my beliefs.

 

In lieu of telling me that I don't know what religion is about 'at its [purported] core', how about telling me? It would be more constructive for sure.

 

EDIT @Gingy - I strongly oppose fundamentalism. I mildly oppose moderate theism. I still believe that having a belief in a lie is still harmful to some extent.

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You're not thinking with an open mind. You've made your opinion about twenty times so far on this thread and not changed it at any point, whilst concurrently bludgeoning anyone else possessing a contradictory point of view. That's not being open-minded.

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That's the role of debate - to persuade the other side. I'm not persuaded by the sophistry of the defence. I've always found serious flaws in the opposing argument, hence the contention between both parties. I have considered the opposing party's arguments and position, but I simply find it unpersuasive and frankly, an illogical position to hold.

 

I presume the primary question we're discussing here is the existence of an omnipotent/omniscient/omnibenevolent creator-deity called Yahweh - indeed, I don't believe in it.

 

Here's a question - have Christian theologians ever considered the prospect that their purported god to 'not exist'?

 

EDIT - I like the emotive language there. '[...] while concurrently bludgeoning anyone else possessing a contradictory view.' Define your metaphorical term - if by 'bludgeoning', you mean to make a rebuttal, then indeed I have. If by 'bludgeoning', you mean blindly attack the opposing side with heated rhetoric and fallacious argument, I don't believe I have.

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Okay, I'll try to do this step by step.

 

 

First of all, I've read through your examples of how harm can occur. None of these fits for normal religious people. As for the link you gave me, quite frankly I have no idea what it's supposed to tell me.

I am also not "obsessed with gathering evidence". You have made a statement that seemed to me more or less grabbed out of thin air in a terribly generalised way as I've told you I know plenty of people who are evidence for your statement being incorrect, or rather not wholly true.

 

 

Love is similar to belief in the sense that we cannot explain them rationally. Obviously there is a rational process behind it, e.g. love being a biomechanical procedure invented by nature to improve chances for healthy offspring, but right here, *you*(or me..) cannot rationally explain why that person is in love with the other one, same as a religious person cannot really explain why he/she believes in a god. It can be a similar source for irrational beliefs that, according to you, will likely cause harm.

 

As to "fear the deity they revere" and "punishable by eternal torture"...DEAR GOD. You're not just "stepping into the lines of Christian fundamentalism", you're deep down in the bog. Stuff like this is horrible, but it is not what usually happens and besides, it's not the religion that would cause the harm here but the way the religion is executed.

 

I say fundamentalism should be ignored *in this debate* because it's obvious that what they're doing is stupid, immoral and whatnot. Doesn't mean that fundamentalism should be ignored completely. But if you want to discuss religion, discuss religion, not fundamentalism.

 

And yeah of course fundamentalists cause the most harm. That's not the point of the debate though.

 

 

You say that belief can be rationally based, by definiton, but what does that definition tell you? If I may pull the example again, it's like love. Someone can tell you hours and hours about love. If you do not experience it yourself, you'll never understand it. It cannot be rationally explained. What Danqa was getting (I think? sorry if misinterpreted) at is that this debate has happened a few times already, and it always has failed on the point that you try to discuss religion while you do not really understand it and are unwilling to accept the fact that belief is irrational and that's it.

I've told you what (christian) religion was basically about. You, quite frankly, didn't get it. I can't do more than that. And no one has attacked you for upholding your beliefs, where did you get that idea from?

 

 

To your last post: When did this become a debate about whether god exists? I haven't been arguing that, nor have I seen anyone else doing that for the last few points. It's no point arguing about that anyway. Last that I know, we were discussing whether irrational beliefs would generally cause harm or not.

 

And as for your last point: Considered? Yes, of course lol. I think everyone but the most fanatic religious people have considered at some point if their god doesn't exist. You won't see them discussing it a lot, because they *are* christian, therefore they believe in that god and discussing whether a religios belief is true or not is pointless as it can neither be proven nor proven to be false and that doesn't even matter. It's called belief, not knowledge.

 

 

Edit: You said yourself that debate is about persuading the other side. Why do you even bring up fundamentalists then? We all agree (at least I think so? :ohnoes: ) that they're a bunch of idiots. No one disagreed with you. Yet you keep bringing it up and I simply cannot understand for what reason you are doing this, quite frankly.

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The analogy fails because love denotes an emotive state, whereas a belief in God denotes the acceptance in supernatural claims. The differences are very significant. Your assertion that we (the human race) cannot rationally explain how love can occur is wholly untrue - it's a biological instinct set off by psychological processes.

 

I discussed 'god-fearing' earlier, which is presumed to occur in moderate Christianity as well. I'm pretty certain that those who believe in a Christian deity would automatically accept heaven/hell. The aforementioned 'eternal torture' refers specifically to the latter - hell.

 

I don't want to dismiss fundamentalists, as despite their lack of prevalence in European countries, their actions still have significant effects on those around them. In my religious discussions, I do not exclude any party on the basis of their lack of presence, unless they're so minute that they're negligible.

 

I understand that beliefs can be irrational, and this is because we are human (thus we have all the human flaws, such as our ability to ascribe unexplained phenomenas to a deity as we like to fulfill what we don't understand with something we believe we understand). I'm not concerned with what beliefs are - I'm concerned with what beliefs ought to be. I believe that accepting a non-truth to be true is harmful, and thus holding irrational beliefs are harmful, because our actions are informed by our beliefs. This is especially relevant if the lie believed by the masses mandates particular moral guidelines, which I'm certain moderate Christians accept as well (I do contend with certain ideals in regards to the commandments, in particular - the notion of absolute or objective morality).

 

On a more digressive note, I noted some mild levels of persecution as in other threads, I have been personally attacked (verbally/written) for my moral/religious stances. It's less relevant to this thread, but it's still interlinked.

 

I'm a bit uncertain about what this debate is about. It seems to be responses to other responses, which makes the positions we are defending rather blurred. I'm still in disagreement with you in regards to irrational beliefs being harmless, though.

 

I think I've covered why I brought up fundamentalists earlier in this post. I consider them too much of an influence, especially politically, in the USA. Given my understanding that the USA is the economic and political superpower, I consider it dangerous to ignore fundamentalists. I consider fundamentalism insidious, and they play a considerable role in religious groups.

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I'm a bit uncertain about what this debate is about. It seems to be responses to other responses, which makes the positions we are defending rather blurred. I'm still in disagreement with you in regards to irrational beliefs being harmless, though.

 

I think this is the biggest part why this discussion doesn't work right. To summarize: You brought up fundamentalists. I asked why you keep bringing them up when there's nothing to be gained in a discussion about them because everyone agrees on them being idiots. You said you didn't know moderate christianity. I gave a quick summary, you said you didn't understand it and said irrational beliefs would cause harm. Those last two points *I* was discussing with you, which is why bringing up fundamentalists again and again adds nothing, and absolutly nothing to this.

 

 

So, back the topic of the discussion:

 

Of course you can explain why and how love exists. You can do the same thing for religion. However, you cannot (fully) explain why Person A loves Person B, nor can you explain why Person C believes in God D. That's what I was getting at. Of course religion includes supernatural claims and love doesn't, but that doesn't make the difference. The whole point was that people sometimes do things they have no rational reason to or even where rationality speaks against it(e.g. being in love with someone who doesn't treat you well). Yeah the analogy is not the best, I'm aware of that. It's the closest I've been able to get though.

 

Well I live in a country made up of mainly moderate christians, and I'm not aware of anyone actually "god-fearing" nor who believes in a hell as "eternal torture". Exception may be some of the old people whose parents were still teaching religion in a stricter way.

 

 

You still haven't been able to tell me though why moderate religion would be harmful though. Irrational beliefs can of course be harmful, depending on how strong and what kind they are. Moderate religion however doesn't hold much harm and has some positive aspects, at least from what I was able to experience.

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Given my lack of understanding, could you briefly go through exactly what moderate Christians interpret the following to be:

 

Yahweh - which powers, how he 'feels', what he wants, purpose of him, what he did, etc.

Heaven/Hell

The validity of the ten commandments

The biblically accounted 'miracles'

etc.

 

In addition to that, please clarify what religious practices are practiced - indoctrination/teachings? What exactly does a visit to the church entail? Do they pray, or is that interpreted to be mythological? Do they base their morality around the proclaimed 'Christian' moral codes?

 

I refuse to answer until it's clarified, as whatever interpretation I come up with, I'll be shot down for 'misconstruing what moderate Christianity is.' On a slightly tangential note, if moderate Christianity has no real world implications - then tell me, what good is it?

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The problem here is that things vary so wildly, especially when taking into account that there are so many different arms of Christianity. Just as there is no one way politicians act and feel, there is no one way a Christian acts and feels.

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But define a moderate Christian?

 

 

Protestant, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican?

 

Those are just the main categories off the top of my head, then break them down into even smaller groups within them. There could be over a hundred slightly different versions of Christianity out there. All of them believing slightly different things, going about their faith in slightly different ways. some will believe in one part, while another not. some may practice in one way, another not.

 

This is not even counting those who only slightly believe in the teachings of Christianity but don't actively practice it.

 

 

There is no such thing as a moderate Christian in reality, because Christianity is not a solidly structured organism.

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I'll just tell what I've been taught by church/PE teachers/my parents. This would be roman catholicism, probably in a moderate version(Which is widely spread around here though)

 

 

Yahweh - which powers, how he 'feels', what he wants, purpose of him, what he did, etc.

----

He is almighty, although how often he uses/has used his powers varies wildly, I personally have (from my teachings) always perceived him as a friendly watcher that usually doesn't take influence though. He is proud of humanity, grateful and generous. Sins are not an issue as long as the person regrets what he/she has done. He has created the world, though this is seen in an indirect sense(creation myth is not taken literally). He has sent his son Jesus christ on earth 2000 years ago, who died to burden himself with our sins, making forgiving them possible. He was resurrected, which will also happen to christians and (here it might vary) to every other human as well.

 

 

Heaven/Hell

-----

Heaven is life with god, Hell for those who have chosen not to live with god. No punishment, merely life without god.

 

 

The validity of the ten commandments.

----

They are valid, however you should obey their sense, not their words. E.g. "thou shalt not kill" doesn't mean you mustn't kill under any circumstances.

 

 

The biblically accounted 'miracles'

-----

Here it varies again, they are usually seen as metaphors, some central parts (e.g the resurrection) are taken literally.

etc.

 

 

In addition to that, please clarify what religious practices are practiced - indoctrination/teachings? What exactly does a visit to the church entail? Do they pray, or is that interpreted to be mythological? Do they base their morality around the proclaimed 'Christian' moral codes?

----

Religion is taught at school, you can choose if you want to visit the catholic or protestant classes(Those assume that you at least partly believe in christianity) or ethics, which is just a substitute teaching kids who do not believe anything or a part of a religion that's not numerous enough to have its own class general morals etc.

In catholic classes, primary school you would mostly talk about biblical stories and practices in the church. Though there is no explicit criticism(remember those kids are 6-10 years old), it is mentioned that the bible is not historical fact.

In later years, you would increasingly talk about morals in general, other religions and religion critique, though it would still stay favoured on the religious side.

 

Church consists of songs, prayers(Most would say they're praying to god, though some see it more as a meditational thing), an excerpt from the bible and a preaching based on that excerpt, often giving general advice on how to handle everyday life(such as "take time for your loved ones" or stuff like that)

 

 

I refuse to answer until it's clarified, as whatever interpretation I come up with, I'll be shot down for 'misconstruing what moderate Christianity is.' On a slightly tangential note, if moderate Christianity has no real world implications - then tell me, what good is it?

----

It has some real world implications, namely that you believe there is a god watching over you, which makes a lot of people feel more secure. This is the main advantage of religion. Morals are generally thought of as christian morals, although they are usually not direclty based on it(few people say "you mustn't kill because god says so" but rather see the commonly accepted moral standard as christian)

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In response to Christian fundamentalism (although I'd assume you are more than likely referring more so to literalism), I would just like to mention that I particularly feel it stems from an inability to properly read a text (in this case, the books of the Bible) in its proper context. There are certain cultural and linguistic weights attached to each book of the Bible and it has taken years upon years of textual and source criticism, as well as historical knowledge, to even break the surface. Fundamentalism arrises out of the idea that one can simply pick up the Bible and read it and do as it says literally. The Bible is not one work nor is it written as an easy-to-use instruction manual; it's not even all in the same language (and even within that, the original language of some sections is debated).

 

An example I like to use that is susceptible to idiotic religiosity without proper context is the "number of the beast" found in Revelation. It is translated as 666, but it is actually [in Greek and Aramaic sources alike] numerical values when translated to their alphabetic equivalents spell cognates of Nero Caesar; an Aramaic source of Revelation even completely omits 666 and means Nero by name. Scholars widely agree that Revelation is a historical book written in cryptic criticism of how Nero was a jerk (which also explains the beast) rather than a book prophesying eventual earthly destruction.

 

Another example is Jesus's turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, etc. These phrases taken alone seem extremely passive and weak, whereas in the context of 30CE Palestine they make a lot more sense. Turn the other cheek is a sassy nonviolent response, as it makes your face only able to be hit by either your enemy's left hand or the backhand of their right, which both would have resulted in their fining and social ridicule if they're your peer. In terms of going the extra mile, Roman soldiers were only permitted to press inhabitants of provinces into service of carrying their equipment to the next milestone; if they forced you to carry it for more than one, they'd be fined for breaking the law.

 

Keep in mind a lot of the stories told by the Gospel writers are probably clever retroactively applied stories, so they've had time to think them out. That means there is specific numerology and symbology where things are seemingly nonsensical. If you pay attention to the Last Supper, Jesus specifically blesses three cups but does not finish his fourth; any orthopractic Jew or Biblical scholar can identify this is referencing the four cups used at Passover and there's a specifically symbolic omission of the fourth cup because Jesus is suppose to implicitly be the fourth.

 

There are countless other examples in the NT; the Biblical books require particular scholarly inspection to understand, and when they're just read like a novel it is obviously misconstrued by literalists. Often the Bible is just assumed to be some silly religious work without even being read (forget about being properly read). Even to an atheist, as a literary work the symbolism and cultural references, if the cultural context is understood, is highly fascinating on the level of literary studies. Of course, every Christian is incapable of studying the Bible in depth, so they must rely on what textual scholars conclude. Religion, without proper textual and theological understanding, is worthless ritual; that's basically what literalists have. I've also noticed, many Christians lose their faith when they realize much of the Bible can actually be rationalize as retrospective account and is not God prophesying. However, someone keeps asking what the "Christian moderate" is and not to play the semantics game but that's an extremely vague term. Define for me the beliefs of the moderate conservative, I'm sure your definition will vary from everyone else's.

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Heaven/Hell

-----

Heaven is life with god, Hell for those who have chosen not to live with god. No punishment, merely life without god.

I take a little bit of an issue with this, I've seen a lot of people who typically aren't too religious get worked up when these kind of issues are brought up and respond with, "I hope you burn in hell." I've usually seen it a lot from the "Sunday Christians" crowd (Often younger, a lot of high schoolers I've seen and interacted with are like this), not fundies, who when issues like gay marriage, evolution, trans people, or separation of church and state come up will respond with quite venomous depictions of all the punishments their god will inflict. I would agree that in general the public face of many churches has rejected openly teaching about the pain and torture of hell but it's a major aspect of Judeo-Christian philosophy that pops up quite often.

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Heaven/Hell

-----

Heaven is life with god, Hell for those who have chosen not to live with god. No punishment, merely life without god.

I take a little bit of an issue with this, I've seen a lot of people who typically aren't too religious get worked up when these kind of issues are brought up and respond with, "I hope you burn in hell." I've usually seen it a lot from the "Sunday Christians" crowd (Often younger, a lot of high schoolers I've seen and interacted with are like this), not fundies, who when issues like gay marriage, evolution, trans people, or separation of church and state come up will respond with quite venomous depictions of all the punishments their god will inflict. I would agree that in general the public face of many churches has rejected openly teaching about the pain and torture of hell but it's a major aspect of Judeo-Christian philosophy that pops up quite often.

If they're catholic, they're misinterpreting the church's definition of hell, either deliberately or unintentionally.

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Heaven/Hell

-----

Heaven is life with god, Hell for those who have chosen not to live with god. No punishment, merely life without god.

I take a little bit of an issue with this, I've seen a lot of people who typically aren't too religious get worked up when these kind of issues are brought up and respond with, "I hope you burn in hell." I've usually seen it a lot from the "Sunday Christians" crowd (Often younger, a lot of high schoolers I've seen and interacted with are like this), not fundies, who when issues like gay marriage, evolution, trans people, or separation of church and state come up will respond with quite venomous depictions of all the punishments their god will inflict. I would agree that in general the public face of many churches has rejected openly teaching about the pain and torture of hell but it's a major aspect of Judeo-Christian philosophy that pops up quite often.

If they're catholic, they're misinterpreting the church's definition of hell, either deliberately or unintentionally.

Eh, the Roman Catholic's definition of hell is ambiguous at best.

 

Nature of suffering in hell

 

[spoiler=Snippet from article]It is agreed that hell is a place of suffering.[67][68][69]

 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

 

Jesus often speaks of "Gehenna" of "the unquenchable fire" reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost. Jesus solemnly proclaims that he "will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire", and that he will pronounce the condemnation: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!"

The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire". The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.[70]

 

Although the Catechism explicitly speaks of the punishments of hell in the plural, calling them "eternal fire", and speaks of eternal separation from God as the "chief" of those punishments, one commentator claims that it is non-committal on the existence of forms of punishment other than that of separation of God: "Even the Roman Catholic church, which has long maintained the existence of "pains of sense" in hell, seems of late to be heading in a separationist direction. The recent Catechism is ambiguous, neither denying nor confirming the existence of physical torments."[71] Another interpretation is that the Catechism by no means denies other forms of suffering, but stresses that the pain of loss is central to the Catholic understanding of hell.[72]

 

Saint Augustine of Hippo said that the suffering of hell is compounded because God continues to love the sinner who is not able to return the love.[73] According to the Church, whatever is the nature of the sufferings, "they are not imposed by a vindictive judge"[73][74]

 

"Concerning the detailed specific nature of hell ... the Catholic Church has defined nothing. ... It is useless to speculate about its true nature, and more sensible to confess our ignorance in a question that evidently exceeds human understanding."[75]

 

I wouldn't be surprised if they're misinterpreting the teachings, I get the sense that the people who say things like that mostly just follow the culture rather than the actual teachings. I'm not sure of their particular denominations though.

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Treasure Trails: Saradomin Full Helm, Ranger Boots, Rune Body (t), Saradomin Vambraces, Various God Pages
Misc:1 Onyx,1 Ahrim's Hood, 1 Guthan's Chainskirt, 1 Demon Slayer Boots

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I really don't see how someone can argue a matter of faith when they obviously don't have any of their own. While it might not be an emotion, we don't 'feel faith', it has some of the same qualities in that it can't really be quantified. The entire nature of faith defies logical or concrete explanation, because it is believing in something despite a lack of logic or evidence, or for some people, in spite of logic or evidence to the contrary.

 

For me, faith is something that gives me comfort. It comforts me to believe that there is 'something' out there greater than 'us' (us being the world and its inhabitants), and it comforts me to believe that life does not end with death. Faith is a way to answer the questions that science either can't answer, or hasn't answered. For me, if and when science answers a question that was previously a matter of faith, then faith will remake itself to conform to the new knowledge, because there is no assumption that I am right.

 

And I'm pretty sure that someone is going to point out that religion itself probably came about as a means to comfort and inspire people on matters such as life beyond death. It's nothing I haven't considered before, but my conclusion every time is that if I'm wrong, I'm not going to be in any state to know it, and until such a time as I die, I'll probably be a happier person if I believe that life goes on. I believe because I choose to. Faith does not require logic or reason, which is what can make it so dangerous. Some people put faith before reality, and that is dangerous because it can blind you to the real world. But I fail to see the harm in the many people who put science and the real world first and just use religion to fill in the blanks until science can give a better answer.

 

And a lot of people blend the two. The idea of guided evolution, that evolution is true, but that it had help, is not all that uncommon, especially amongst those whose faith previously adhered to creationism. If nothing else, it demonstrates flexibility even among the less moderate religions.

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I don't see how faith is a relevant issue unless we're arguing about theists themselves as opposed to religion. I go by the dictionary definitions of faith - to believe something unconditionally - i.e. without true critical analysis. No argument, reason or evidence would ever convince a person of faith that their beliefs may not be true (do note the terminology).

 

I don't like false hope and reassurance - is it not better to grieve and finish grieving about the death of a loved one, than to falsely believe that it's all part of some malevolent plan that involves a myriad of suffering, torture and death for the majority to save a tiny, tiny minority?

 

I don't like the idea that we should use religion to fill in the blanks that science currently has, either - I see it as a curiosity stopper. If we say 'God done it', and leave it unquestioned - when can we ever get the answer? Even in moderate Christianity, questioning God is considered a generally negative thing, correct? If so, that's your curiosity stopper.

 

It's pseudoscience at best, and essentially a mind-numbing virus at worst. It doesn't make the world look like a good place knowing the figures of those who are religious.

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I don't like false hope and reassurance - is it not better to grieve and finish grieving about the death of a loved one, than to falsely believe that it's all part of some malevolent plan that involves a myriad of suffering, torture and death for the majority to save a tiny, tiny minority?

 

First of all, you cannot claim it is false, and discussions about it being true or not are useless. Not sure where you got the "tiny,tiny minority" from either.

Also, to your main argument, for some people religion helps them to grieve and finish grieving. I see no big harm in a false hope if you're not going to witness it being uncovered as false.

 

I don't like the idea that we should use religion to fill in the blanks that science currently has, either - I see it as a curiosity stopper. If we say 'God done it', and leave it unquestioned - when can we ever get the answer? Even in moderate Christianity, questioning God is considered a generally negative thing, correct? If so, that's your curiosity stopper.

 

It's pseudoscience at best, and essentially a mind-numbing virus at worst. It doesn't make the world look like a good place knowing the figures of those who are religious.

 

I guess you could say questioning god may be considered negative, but no one here uses god as explanation for natural phenomenon either, so it's really not a curiosity stopper. I agree that god shouldn't be used to cover scientific blanks.

 

And, what exactly do you mean by your last point? Care to elaborate?

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I really don't see how someone can argue a matter of faith when they obviously don't have any of their own. While it might not be an emotion, we don't 'feel faith', it has some of the same qualities in that it can't really be quantified. The entire nature of faith defies logical or concrete explanation, because it is believing in something despite a lack of logic or evidence, or for some people, in spite of logic or evidence to the contrary.

 

For me, faith is something that gives me comfort. It comforts me to believe that there is 'something' out there greater than 'us' (us being the world and its inhabitants), and it comforts me to believe that life does not end with death. Faith is a way to answer the questions that science either can't answer, or hasn't answered. For me, if and when science answers a question that was previously a matter of faith, then faith will remake itself to conform to the new knowledge, because there is no assumption that I am right.

 

And I'm pretty sure that someone is going to point out that religion itself probably came about as a means to comfort and inspire people on matters such as life beyond death. It's nothing I haven't considered before, but my conclusion every time is that if I'm wrong, I'm not going to be in any state to know it, and until such a time as I die, I'll probably be a happier person if I believe that life goes on. I believe because I choose to. Faith does not require logic or reason, which is what can make it so dangerous. Some people put faith before reality, and that is dangerous because it can blind you to the real world. But I fail to see the harm in the many people who put science and the real world first and just use religion to fill in the blanks until science can give a better answer.

 

And a lot of people blend the two. The idea of guided evolution, that evolution is true, but that it had help, is not all that uncommon, especially amongst those whose faith previously adhered to creationism. If nothing else, it demonstrates flexibility even among the less moderate religions.

I can definitely understand that aspect to it, and I would be lying if I didn't wish that I could believe in something out there helping me or life continuing after death. But in all honesty I could never delude myself to the point of actually buying into the religion just to comfort me in the face of ultimate death or the chaos of the universe. I see so many flaws with the idea of heaven that I'm certain that life after death like that could not exist.

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I don't see how faith is a relevant issue unless we're arguing about theists themselves as opposed to religion. I go by the dictionary definitions of faith - to believe something unconditionally - i.e. without true critical analysis. No argument, reason or evidence would ever convince a person of faith that their beliefs may not be true (do note the terminology).

 

Then its a shame your not arguing with a dictionary. You might find it easier to understand what people are saying if you allow the context of words to help convey the meaning, because while English has an incredible number of words that allow you to convey the same things with very subtle differences in meaning, it does not actually have a word for everything. This more of a general point though. My point was that it would be easier to understand the arguments people make if you had some understanding of why people (can) believe in things without evidence, rather than just going "that's stupid" and walking away. You are either unable, or unwilling to comprehend the whole concept. Also, by using the pure believing in things unconditionally definition, you are inadvertently painting moderates as fundamentalists since moderates do ask questions.

 

I don't like false hope and reassurance - is it not better to grieve and finish grieving about the death of a loved one, than to falsely believe that it's all part of some malevolent plan that involves a myriad of suffering, torture and death for the majority to save a tiny, tiny minority?

As it applies to death, I don't see how it makes a difference. False hope is only an issue if the possibility of finding out that hope was false actually exists. Either I am right and the hope wasn't false, or I am wrong and I'll never find out (since as it stand now, the question can't be answered for me until I die, and if I am wrong, I won't exist to know I am wrong).

 

And Malevolent plan? Again, assuming we are talking about death, then its neccesity, not malevolence. People need to die. If we were immortal in so far as we never grew old and died, then we would all eventually starve or suffocate as our population consumed all the resources available to us. If we we're immortal, then we would also essentially need to be sterile, and you can't have a species like that since there would be no way to start it, except artificially. And that's not a religious point so don't mistake it for one.

 

I don't like the idea that we should use religion to fill in the blanks that science currently has, either - I see it as a curiosity stopper. If we say 'God done it', and leave it unquestioned - when can we ever get the answer? Even in moderate Christianity, questioning God is considered a generally negative thing, correct? If so, that's your curiosity stopper.

Doesn't matter if you like it. We all do it. Religion comes from humans, so all the assumptions are of human origin anyway. I'll use Evolution as an example. You don't need religion to assume that humans have always been humans. It's actually the logical conclusion unless your either 100,000 years old, someone who studies bacteria, or someone who studies archaeology and has found the right evidence. Even when Evolution is working as fast as it can (and it can work quite fast, such as African Elephants being born noticeably more often tuskless as a result of poaching), its probably going to be a few lifetimes before you can really notice it. It is unobservable unless you have been alive for way to long, you study something that reproduces incredibly fast (such as bacteria), or you have access to fossil records. Religions (plural - since I think this applies to pretty much every religion ever) assume that the creator made us as is because for thousands of years, there was no way to observe otherwise.

 

At this point I should probably mention that I believe the works that make up the Bible were all written by humans, not God.

 

You didn't need to believe in anything to come to the logical conclusion that humans had always been humans, and always would be humans.

 

As for a curiosity stopper...for some people I suppose its possible, but only for those who need to know everything about the world (and to think you know even close to that would require a terribly small imagination anyway I think). I have a drive to know how things work, be it a mouse climbing something (they have fantastic grip), that camera that broke and I can finally take it apart, or how skates move so easily on ice. My curiosity and drive to know things is greater than anyone else I know.

 

When I say it answers questions that science can't, don't make the mistake of thinking that I am filling in blanks like the grand unifaction theory with religion. I don't know how to quantify what I mean, and its a very individual thing anyway. Some people look to religion to tell them how to live(running the gambit from 'be kind and forgiving' to 'these are the absolute rules you live by', others to tell them what the meaning of live is. I guess it depends on what the questions are.

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Doesn't matter if you like it. We all do it. Religion comes from humans, so all the assumptions are of human origin anyway. I'll use Evolution as an example. You don't need religion to assume that humans have always been humans. It's actually the logical conclusion unless your either 100,000 years old, someone who studies bacteria, or someone who studies archaeology and has found the right evidence. Even when Evolution is working as fast as it can (and it can work quite fast, such as African Elephants being born noticeably more often tuskless as a result of poaching), its probably going to be a few lifetimes before you can really notice it. It is unobservable unless you have been alive for way to long, you study something that reproduces incredibly fast (such as bacteria), or you have access to fossil records. Religions (plural - since I think this applies to pretty much every religion ever) assume that the creator made us as is because for thousands of years, there was no way to observe otherwise.

 

At this point I should probably mention that I believe the works that make up the Bible were all written by humans, not God.

 

You didn't need to believe in anything to come to the logical conclusion that humans had always been humans, and always would be humans.

 

As for a curiosity stopper...for some people I suppose its possible, but only for those who need to know everything about the world (and to think you know even close to that would require a terribly small imagination anyway I think). I have a drive to know how things work, be it a mouse climbing something (they have fantastic grip), that camera that broke and I can finally take it apart, or how skates move so easily on ice. My curiosity and drive to know things is greater than anyone else I know.

 

When I say it answers questions that science can't, don't make the mistake of thinking that I am filling in blanks like the grand unifaction theory with religion. I don't know how to quantify what I mean, and its a very individual thing anyway. Some people look to religion to tell them how to live running the gambit from 'be kind and forgiving' to 'these are the absolute rules you live by', others to tell them what the meaning of life is. I guess it depends on what the questions are.

I'd actually agree with Assume on this one, but not because "I don't like it" but because as you pointed out it can have noticeable harms. I suppose my biggest problem with it being a creativity stopper isn't stopping those with a drive to learn, discover, and explain (Many Enlightenment scientists thought they were doing God justice by exploring the greatness of His works) but rather giving an easy hand-wave to those who aren't as inquisitive and thus dismiss a valid observation or criticism for as long as the proposition can be ignored. As long as mainstream religious people can look at people trying to explore or explain seemingly mundane things and say "This is heretical" or "What you're doing isn't worthwhile, everything's explained here" or can suppress their work from being accepted then religion will continue to be a hamper on the advancement of our understanding of the universe.

 

Also, just as a side note, evolution can be observable within a single generation. I saw a video in my Fundamentals of Evolution and Genetics class where a wife/husband team of scientists observed a group of birds in the Galapagos and as the weather conditions changed beak sizes either increased or decreased an average of 3-4% if the changes were extreme enough. That is an observable and predictable change, but not one a layperson would examine; and if it weren't for scientists most people would think that observing such things would be a waste of time.

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You can make that argument for anything though. The majority of the population tends to think studying specific things that aren't of much interest to them is a waste of time; it's the specialists in every field who go above and beyond to analyze the details.

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