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Why is ALL religious belief harmful?

rockwater
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7/5/2013 12:57:03 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Not all atheists believe that all religious belief is harmful, but some do. By religious belief, I generally mean theism (or, if not theism, belief in one or more Deities), belief in an afterlife, belief in a divinely revealed code of ethics, etc.

I oppose the view that all religious beliefs are harmful although I acknowledge that religious beliefs can lead people todo harmful things. Specifically, I believe that as long as people do not make decisions based on religious beliefs when those beliefs prescribe something contrary to the advice of science and reason (and general humanistic values of human liberty, dignity, and rights) that religious belief is not harmful.

This does not mean that every decision made based on religious beliefs that conflicts with the recommendations of science, reason, and humanistic values is harmful, just that some of them are harmful.

I do not believe that religion necessarily deludes people into thinking that their religious beliefs trump science and reason to the point that they should make decisions that science and reason would say are harmful. That is based on a very narrow definition of what constitutes a religious belief.
bladerunner060
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7/5/2013 1:04:38 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Religious belief in general encourages the rejection of our reason. So I would agree that "all religious belief is harmful in general".

The vast majority of theists in the US believe "faith" (defined here by them as belief DESPITE evidence) is a good thing--I would argue it emphatically is NOT. As soon as you allow that, you allow someone to justify the bad things you noted. That they haven't done so YET is immaterial to the fact that they've abandoned the only thing we know which consistently gets us closer to the truth of any given thing in favor of what they want to be true, or what they "feel" to be true. Well, Charles Manson had faith, and "felt" he was right. If there's no difference between the respective "faiths" of the innocuous theist and Charles Manson, then the fact that they haven't killed a bunch of people yet is irrelevant to the fact that they COULD.

Now, there are theists who think they have a good proof resting on logic...in those cases, usually, I personally find a huge and glaring flaw in their proof that establishes it in my opinion as a post-hoc rationalization of a belief they already had. I consider those inherently bad, and so therefore those arguments as inherently bad...but no worse than any other post-hoc rationalization would be, and not as bad as the other, more prevalent (at least to my experience) position of simply rejecting reason.
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bladerunner060
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7/5/2013 1:08:06 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
One of my favorite podcasts plays this at the end of every show, a spoken-word poem (Cognitive Dissonance, for what it's worth):

"Credulity is not a virtue
its fortune
cookie
cutter
mommy issue
hypno
babylon bullsh*t
couched in scientician
double bubble toil and
trouble
pseudo quasi alternative
accu punctuating pressurized stereogram
pyramidal free energy healing
watered downward spiral brain deadpan sales pitch late night
infodocutainment

Leo Pisces cancer-cures detox reflex foot massage
death and towers tarot cards
psychic healing crystals balls
bigfoot yeti aliens
churches mosques and synagogues

temples
dragons
giant worms
atlantis dolphins
truthers birthers
witches wizards
vaccine-nuts

shaman healers
evangelists
conspiracy doublespeak stigmata nonsense

expose your sides
thrust your hands
bloody
evidential
conclusive

doubt even this."
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popculturepooka
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7/5/2013 1:11:00 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/5/2013 1:04:38 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:

The vast majority of theists in the US believe "faith" (defined here by them as belief DESPITE evidence) is a good thing--I

Prove it.
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popculturepooka
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7/5/2013 1:18:46 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I wonder if people who believe this can actually back it up with things other than recycled Christopher Hitchens' quotes and absurd denials that MLK Jr. or Dietrich Bonhoeffer were religious.
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BLACK LIVES MATTER!
rockwater
Posts: 273
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7/5/2013 1:20:36 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/5/2013 1:04:38 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
Religious belief in general encourages the rejection of our reason. So I would agree that "all religious belief is harmful in general".

The vast majority of theists in the US believe "faith" (defined here by them as belief DESPITE evidence) is a good thing--I would argue it emphatically is NOT. As soon as you allow that, you allow someone to justify the bad things you noted. That they haven't done so YET is immaterial to the fact that they've abandoned the only thing we know which consistently gets us closer to the truth of any given thing in favor of what they want to be true, or what they "feel" to be true. Well, Charles Manson had faith, and "felt" he was right. If there's no difference between the respective "faiths" of the innocuous theist and Charles Manson, then the fact that they haven't killed a bunch of people yet is irrelevant to the fact that they COULD.

Now, there are theists who think they have a good proof resting on logic...in those cases, usually, I personally find a huge and glaring flaw in their proof that establishes it in my opinion as a post-hoc rationalization of a belief they already had. I consider those inherently bad, and so therefore those arguments as inherently bad...but no worse than any other post-hoc rationalization would be, and not as bad as the other, more prevalent (at least to my experience) position of simply rejecting reason.

I'm a religious person but I don't think that reason or science could prove my Religous beliefs. That is why I make a point of not doing things (or being neglectful in sound things) that science, reason, or humanistic values would find harmful. I think that as long as religious people act in this way, there is no harm to religious belief, and religious relief can be just as beneficial to society as all other human endeavors and motivations.

I don't think having religious belief means rejecting reason at all. Religious beliefs, for me at least, are different than beliefs about secular things in that I do not let them justify actions that are harmful based on secular reasoning. Therefore, region complements reason for me rather than conflicting with it.
bladerunner060
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7/5/2013 2:00:28 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/5/2013 1:11:00 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 7/5/2013 1:04:38 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:

The vast majority of theists in the US believe "faith" (defined here by them as belief DESPITE evidence) is a good thing--I

Prove it.

I tried to qualify it below, but I wasn't clear enough, so I will fully qualify it here for clarity:

That is an anecdotal piece of evidence. TO MY EXPERIENCE, the vast majority of theists I HAVE MET blah blah blah.

I would be interested in an analysis of whether it does hold generally true, but I have no warrant to make that assertion, and apologize for a decided lack of clarity.
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bladerunner060
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7/5/2013 2:01:08 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/5/2013 1:18:46 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
I wonder if people who believe this can actually back it up with things other than recycled Christopher Hitchens' quotes and absurd denials that MLK Jr. or Dietrich Bonhoeffer were religious.

What are you talking about? I've done neither of these things, unless that poem has a Hitchens quote in it...
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bladerunner060
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7/5/2013 2:09:16 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I'm a religious person but I don't think that reason or science could prove my Religous beliefs.

Then why do you believe them? If you do not use your reason, what do you use?

That is why I make a point of not doing things (or being neglectful in sound things) that science, reason, or humanistic values would find harmful. I think that as long as religious people act in this way, there is no harm to religious belief, and religious relief can be just as beneficial to society as all other human endeavors and motivations.

It CAN be, but my point is to abandon the only method we have shown to be effective at getting at the truth is bad.

Now, does that mean "All theists are bad arglebargle"? No. Not at all, and if that wasn't clear, I'm sorry. But I would say that if two people did the same thing, but one did it despite abandoning their reason and going with whatever "felt right" and one did it because of principles they have thought of, that person 2 is doing more overall good. But that doesn't negate the good of person 1. And of course, if there is no person 2, but only person 1, well, then only person 1 had done good.

I don't know or care a great deal for MLKs personal religious beliefs. The man was a Reverend, so I presume he was religious unless shown otherwise just on that whether it holds necessarily true or not. He did some awesome things. He also cheated on his wife. Nobody's perfect. Cheating on your wife is bad, no matter how much racial equality you fight for. And I would argue that abandoning rationality for religion (which, again, I don't really know the character of his belief, so this isn't directed at the good Rev.) is a bad thing because it justifies a position which cannot be defended. But I happen to think hypocrisy is a bad thing and a big deal. Some people I've met sort of shrug their shoulders about hypocrisy in a "well, what're you gonna do" sort of way.

I don't think having religious belief means rejecting reason at all.

It seems to in your case, because you specifically said you don't use reason for it. Not a complete abandonment, sure, but where do you draw that line once you've accepted abandoning reason as a legit thing?

Religious beliefs, for me at least, are different than beliefs about secular things in that I do not let them justify actions that are harmful based on secular reasoning. Therefore, region complements reason for me rather than conflicting with it.

It's still an assertion about the world, a claim that a REAL THING exists. I applaud your quarantining (for want of a better word at the moment) of your irrationality, but by accepting it at all, where do you get the justification for condemning those that DO justify harmful actions with their religion? After all, they're just doing the same thing as you: denying their reason in a claim about the world.
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popculturepooka
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7/5/2013 2:33:37 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/5/2013 2:01:08 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 7/5/2013 1:18:46 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
I wonder if people who believe this can actually back it up with things other than recycled Christopher Hitchens' quotes and absurd denials that MLK Jr. or Dietrich Bonhoeffer were religious.

What are you talking about? I've done neither of these things, unless that poem has a Hitchens quote in it...

I wasn't talking to you specifically; I was poking fun at Christopher Hitchens and his "acolytes" who think that just by saying "religion poisons everything" it proves their case. Then when, inevitably, "good" religious people who are brought up whose religious beliefs figured heavily in motivating them to do good things they just deny that they were really religious and try to say, "no, they were REALLY just undercover secularists" which is one the most ridiculous things I've ever heard coming from the gnu atheist camp (and they have stiff competition). Anybody whose actually read about and works from these people will know that that is patently false.
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bladerunner060
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7/5/2013 2:38:40 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/5/2013 2:33:37 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 7/5/2013 2:01:08 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 7/5/2013 1:18:46 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
I wonder if people who believe this can actually back it up with things other than recycled Christopher Hitchens' quotes and absurd denials that MLK Jr. or Dietrich Bonhoeffer were religious.

What are you talking about? I've done neither of these things, unless that poem has a Hitchens quote in it...

I wasn't talking to you specifically; I was poking fun at Christopher Hitchens and his "acolytes" who think that just by saying "religion poisons everything" it proves their case. Then when, inevitably, "good" religious people who are brought up whose religious beliefs figured heavily in motivating them to do good things they just deny that they were really religious and try to say, "no, they were REALLY just undercover secularists" which is one the most ridiculous things I've ever heard coming from the gnu atheist camp (and they have stiff competition). Anybody whose actually read about and works from these people will know that that is patently false.

Ah. K then. It's a fair complaint against that type of point.

Of course, though, the converse is true with regards to things like the Hitler's Religion point, too ...there are some folks who have a REALLY HARD TIME accepting that he was religious.

(Of course, I don't really see any of those arguments as particularly strongly relevant except in passing to illustrate possibility and how to deal with it. Every group has bad people.)
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rockwater
Posts: 273
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7/5/2013 3:07:25 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/5/2013 2:09:16 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
I'm a religious person but I don't think that reason or science could prove my Religous beliefs.

Then why do you believe them? If you do not use your reason, what do you use?

That is why I make a point of not doing things (or being neglectful in sound things) that science, reason, or humanistic values would find harmful. I think that as long as religious people act in this way, there is no harm to religious belief, and religious relief can be just as beneficial to society as all other human endeavors and motivations.

It CAN be, but my point is to abandon the only method we have shown to be effective at getting at the truth is bad.

Now, does that mean "All theists are bad arglebargle"? No. Not at all, and if that wasn't clear, I'm sorry. But I would say that if two people did the same thing, but one did it despite abandoning their reason and going with whatever "felt right" and one did it because of principles they have thought of, that person 2 is doing more overall good. But that doesn't negate the good of person 1. And of course, if there is no person 2, but only person 1, well, then only person 1 had done good.

I don't know or care a great deal for MLKs personal religious beliefs. The man was a Reverend, so I presume he was religious unless shown otherwise just on that whether it holds necessarily true or not. He did some awesome things. He also cheated on his wife. Nobody's perfect. Cheating on your wife is bad, no matter how much racial equality you fight for. And I would argue that abandoning rationality for religion (which, again, I don't really know the character of his belief, so this isn't directed at the good Rev.) is a bad thing because it justifies a position which cannot be defended. But I happen to think hypocrisy is a bad thing and a big deal. Some people I've met sort of shrug their shoulders about hypocrisy in a "well, what're you gonna do" sort of way.


I don't think having religious belief means rejecting reason at all.

It seems to in your case, because you specifically said you don't use reason for it. Not a complete abandonment, sure, but where do you draw that line once you've accepted abandoning reason as a legit thing?

Religious beliefs, for me at least, are different than beliefs about secular things in that I do not let them justify actions that are harmful based on secular reasoning. Therefore, region complements reason for me rather than conflicting with it.

It's still an assertion about the world, a claim that a REAL THING exists. I applaud your quarantining (for want of a better word at the moment) of your irrationality, but by accepting it at all, where do you get the justification for condemning those that DO justify harmful actions with their religion? After all, they're just doing the same thing as you: denying their reason in a claim about the world.

Basically, my religious beliefs are unverifiable assertions. There is no way to prove them using reason unless you accept premises like those of Aquinas that not all rational people would agree with. So they are beliefs that go in the same category as knowledge gained from the humanities - true (for those who believe them) in the sense of human feelings and experiences but not verifiable with scientific methods or with reason based in premises that everyone would agree upon.

I am lucky to have a religion - my own particular liberal understanding of Catholicism, that does not require me to make daily decisions where there is any chance that the requirements of my faith conflict with science or reason. As for historical events like the Virgin Birth or the Reserrection of Christ, I admit that there is no reason known to science that such things would have any probability significantly above zero of happening. These beliefs do not influence my daily decisions very much other than giving me some moral guidance when I am unclear what to do (and I am choosing among options that are not clearly wrong based on science, reason, and humanistic values). These beliefs also give condor and enrichment to my life and give me something to share with other people in conversation if they want to talk about it. I don't proselytize but am happy to talk about my beliefs with others and let them reach their own conclusions about the truth.

So let's take the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection of Christ as examples. What harm is caused by believing in these things in the way I do?
tkubok
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7/5/2013 3:36:01 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/5/2013 3:07:25 PM, rockwater wrote:
At 7/5/2013 2:09:16 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
I'm a religious person but I don't think that reason or science could prove my Religous beliefs.

Then why do you believe them? If you do not use your reason, what do you use?

That is why I make a point of not doing things (or being neglectful in sound things) that science, reason, or humanistic values would find harmful. I think that as long as religious people act in this way, there is no harm to religious belief, and religious relief can be just as beneficial to society as all other human endeavors and motivations.

It CAN be, but my point is to abandon the only method we have shown to be effective at getting at the truth is bad.

Now, does that mean "All theists are bad arglebargle"? No. Not at all, and if that wasn't clear, I'm sorry. But I would say that if two people did the same thing, but one did it despite abandoning their reason and going with whatever "felt right" and one did it because of principles they have thought of, that person 2 is doing more overall good. But that doesn't negate the good of person 1. And of course, if there is no person 2, but only person 1, well, then only person 1 had done good.

I don't know or care a great deal for MLKs personal religious beliefs. The man was a Reverend, so I presume he was religious unless shown otherwise just on that whether it holds necessarily true or not. He did some awesome things. He also cheated on his wife. Nobody's perfect. Cheating on your wife is bad, no matter how much racial equality you fight for. And I would argue that abandoning rationality for religion (which, again, I don't really know the character of his belief, so this isn't directed at the good Rev.) is a bad thing because it justifies a position which cannot be defended. But I happen to think hypocrisy is a bad thing and a big deal. Some people I've met sort of shrug their shoulders about hypocrisy in a "well, what're you gonna do" sort of way.


I don't think having religious belief means rejecting reason at all.

It seems to in your case, because you specifically said you don't use reason for it. Not a complete abandonment, sure, but where do you draw that line once you've accepted abandoning reason as a legit thing?

Religious beliefs, for me at least, are different than beliefs about secular things in that I do not let them justify actions that are harmful based on secular reasoning. Therefore, region complements reason for me rather than conflicting with it.

It's still an assertion about the world, a claim that a REAL THING exists. I applaud your quarantining (for want of a better word at the moment) of your irrationality, but by accepting it at all, where do you get the justification for condemning those that DO justify harmful actions with their religion? After all, they're just doing the same thing as you: denying their reason in a claim about the world.

Basically, my religious beliefs are unverifiable assertions. There is no way to prove them using reason unless you accept premises like those of Aquinas that not all rational people would agree with. So they are beliefs that go in the same category as knowledge gained from the humanities - true (for those who believe them) in the sense of human feelings and experiences but not verifiable with scientific methods or with reason based in premises that everyone would agree upon.

I am lucky to have a religion - my own particular liberal understanding of Catholicism, that does not require me to make daily decisions where there is any chance that the requirements of my faith conflict with science or reason. As for historical events like the Virgin Birth or the Reserrection of Christ, I admit that there is no reason known to science that such things would have any probability significantly above zero of happening. These beliefs do not influence my daily decisions very much other than giving me some moral guidance when I am unclear what to do (and I am choosing among options that are not clearly wrong based on science, reason, and humanistic values). These beliefs also give condor and enrichment to my life and give me something to share with other people in conversation if they want to talk about it. I don't proselytize but am happy to talk about my beliefs with others and let them reach their own conclusions about the truth.

So let's take the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection of Christ as examples. What harm is caused by believing in these things in the way I do?

Well, in a way, id say its being dishonest, which is always a bad thing. But when you believe absurd beliefs, youre inclined to believe more absurd beliefs. And thats always a harmful thing.
bladerunner060
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7/5/2013 3:49:47 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/5/2013 3:07:25 PM, rockwater wrote:

Basically, my religious beliefs are unverifiable assertions.

So are the Bad Guys'.

There is no way to prove them using reason unless you accept premises like those of Aquinas that not all rational people would agree with.

Well, I would argue that Aquinas' were ones that NO rational person would agree with, but that's just me being snarky. The question is, do you think those ARE the best rational answer, or not? If they ARE, then if I could convince you they weren't, you'd theoretically change your midn. If they AREN'T, why do you believe them?

So they are beliefs that go in the same category as knowledge gained from the humanities - true (for those who believe them) in the sense of human feelings and experiences but not verifiable with scientific methods or with reason based in premises that everyone would agree upon.

That rational people disagree =/= as ignoring rationality in belief. Humanities arguments still rely on reason and rationality to make their case. There is a difference in what some find compelling, however, and that's a self-limiting factor because one recognizes that one's case is weakened by it (even if one believes it to be the STRONGEST option).


I am lucky to have a religion - my own particular liberal understanding of Catholicism, that does not require me to make daily decisions where there is any chance that the requirements of my faith conflict with science or reason.

Well, there's problems with that, but I'm not going to be a dick about it.

As for historical events like the Virgin Birth or the Reserrection of Christ, I admit that there is no reason known to science that such things would have any probability significantly above zero of happening. These beliefs do not influence my daily decisions very much other than giving me some moral guidance when I am unclear what to do (and I am choosing among options that are not clearly wrong based on science, reason, and humanistic values).

Such as, for example? Because there's nothing that I know of as wrong which isn't wrong based on those things. While the only things that isn't already considered wrong by those are things along the lines of things I know you disagree with...

These beliefs also give condor and enrichment to my life and give me something to share with other people in conversation if they want to talk about it.

But that doesn't affect how TRUE they are. Emperor Norton led a rich life...but he wasn't Emperor of America.

I don't proselytize but am happy to talk about my beliefs with others and let them reach their own conclusions about the truth.

And that's to your credit. I hope the less kind folks on here don't strip that balance away from you.

So let's take the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection of Christ as examples. What harm is caused by believing in these things in the way I do?

Well, assuming you believe them in defiance of your reason (as seems to be the case), it isn't that THOSE specific beliefs are bad (who cares about some 2,000 y/o jewish chick's relative faithfulness? I kid, I kid...), but that they are indistinguishible from, say, belief that blowing up schoolkids is okay. Both are in defiance of your reason. For sure, one is innocuous while the other is not. And I'm not trying to equate YOU, simply that link in your chain of reasoning which says "This is not what my reason says, but I will believe it anyway".

Again, NOT EQUATING you. I don't AT ALL mean to say "You're just as bad as a terrorist!!!"

But I see a similarity there, and no defeater that doesn't rely on either competing faiths, in which no side can really claim "I'm right", or the application of reason, which has been expressly repudiated to accept the belief in the first place.
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rockwater
Posts: 273
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7/5/2013 10:35:03 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/5/2013 3:49:47 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 7/5/2013 3:07:25 PM, rockwater wrote:

Basically, my religious beliefs are unverifiable assertions.

So are the Bad Guys'.

There is no way to prove them using reason unless you accept premises like those of Aquinas that not all rational people would agree with.

Well, I would argue that Aquinas' were ones that NO rational person would agree with, but that's just me being snarky. The question is, do you think those ARE the best rational answer, or not? If they ARE, then if I could convince you they weren't, you'd theoretically change your midn. If they AREN'T, why do you believe them?

So they are beliefs that go in the same category as knowledge gained from the humanities - true (for those who believe them) in the sense of human feelings and experiences but not verifiable with scientific methods or with reason based in premises that everyone would agree upon.

That rational people disagree =/= as ignoring rationality in belief. Humanities arguments still rely on reason and rationality to make their case. There is a difference in what some find compelling, however, and that's a self-limiting factor because one recognizes that one's case is weakened by it (even if one believes it to be the STRONGEST option).


I am lucky to have a religion - my own particular liberal understanding of Catholicism, that does not require me to make daily decisions where there is any chance that the requirements of my faith conflict with science or reason.

Well, there's problems with that, but I'm not going to be a dick about it.

As for historical events like the Virgin Birth or the Reserrection of Christ, I admit that there is no reason known to science that such things would have any probability significantly above zero of happening. These beliefs do not influence my daily decisions very much other than giving me some moral guidance when I am unclear what to do (and I am choosing among options that are not clearly wrong based on science, reason, and humanistic values).

Such as, for example? Because there's nothing that I know of as wrong which isn't wrong based on those things. While the only things that isn't already considered wrong by those are things along the lines of things I know you disagree with...

These beliefs also give condor and enrichment to my life and give me something to share with other people in conversation if they want to talk about it.

But that doesn't affect how TRUE they are. Emperor Norton led a rich life...but he wasn't Emperor of America.

I don't proselytize but am happy to talk about my beliefs with others and let them reach their own conclusions about the truth.

And that's to your credit. I hope the less kind folks on here don't strip that balance away from you.


So let's take the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection of Christ as examples. What harm is caused by believing in these things in the way I do?

Well, assuming you believe them in defiance of your reason (as seems to be the case), it isn't that THOSE specific beliefs are bad (who cares about some 2,000 y/o jewish chick's relative faithfulness? I kid, I kid...), but that they are indistinguishible from, say, belief that blowing up schoolkids is okay. Both are in defiance of your reason. For sure, one is innocuous while the other is not. And I'm not trying to equate YOU, simply that link in your chain of reasoning which says "This is not what my reason says, but I will believe it anyway".

Again, NOT EQUATING you. I don't AT ALL mean to say "You're just as bad as a terrorist!!!"

But I see a similarity there, and no defeater that doesn't rely on either competing faiths, in which no side can really claim "I'm right", or the application of reason, which has been expressly repudiated to accept the belief in the first place.

The Virgin Birth and Resurrection of Christ can't be compared to a belief in blowing up children because the latter belief directly encourages causing harm whereas the former two beliefs do not in themselves encourage harm (although some people might have used them as part of a belief system that advocated harming others).

I wasn't raised to accept teachings from a religious authority. Quite the opposite! My parents were raised Catholic and were determined to raise me to be very skeptical about the Church. I was an adult out gay man when I completed my Ronan Catholic initiation and knew what I was getting into.

Now going back to the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection, saying that I don't have a rational argument to prove them does not mean it is impossible that they actually happened. I just can't really explain why I believe in them. But I don't see how believing in them negatively impacts my or anyone else's life.
MadCornishBiker
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7/6/2013 8:28:13 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/5/2013 12:57:03 PM, rockwater wrote:
Not all atheists believe that all religious belief is harmful, but some do. By religious belief, I generally mean theism (or, if not theism, belief in one or more Deities), belief in an afterlife, belief in a divinely revealed code of ethics, etc.

I oppose the view that all religious beliefs are harmful although I acknowledge that religious beliefs can lead people todo harmful things. Specifically, I believe that as long as people do not make decisions based on religious beliefs when those beliefs prescribe something contrary to the advice of science and reason (and general humanistic values of human liberty, dignity, and rights) that religious belief is not harmful.

This does not mean that every decision made based on religious beliefs that conflicts with the recommendations of science, reason, and humanistic values is harmful, just that some of them are harmful.

I do not believe that religion necessarily deludes people into thinking that their religious beliefs trump science and reason to the point that they should make decisions that science and reason would say are harmful. That is based on a very narrow definition of what constitutes a religious belief.

It isn't, it's beneficial to all. As long as it is the true religion of course. Anything else is harmful in the long term.
bladerunner060
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7/6/2013 9:55:50 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/5/2013 10:35:03 PM, rockwater wrote:

The Virgin Birth and Resurrection of Christ can't be compared to a belief in blowing up children because the latter belief directly encourages causing harm whereas the former two beliefs do not in themselves encourage harm (although some people might have used them as part of a belief system that advocated harming others).

I believe I specifically said that they weren't directly comparable.

And that it is different is nice and all, but doesn't address the fact that you can't actually argue with the person. Their belief is based on EXACTLY the same ground as your belief. You point to "harm" as the guideline that determines whether the belief is faulty or not. But religious folks don't want gays to be married specifically because it's what they believe their religion teaches as moral. They don't see what they're doing as a harm! And indeed, I'm sure there's similar self-justification in the heads of the Terrorists, too.

The point is that the method of decision-making is indistinguishable.

I wasn't raised to accept teachings from a religious authority. Quite the opposite! My parents were raised Catholic and were determined to raise me to be very skeptical about the Church. I was an adult out gay man when I completed my Ronan Catholic initiation and knew what I was getting into.

Now going back to the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection, saying that I don't have a rational argument to prove them does not mean it is impossible that they actually happened. I just can't really explain why I believe in them. But I don't see how believing in them negatively impacts my or anyone else's life.

Saying that it's not impossible that they happened =/= saying it actually happened. If you "can't explain why you believe" X, I see that as a bad thing. Not, of course, a Terrible, Awful, No-Good Very Bad Thing on par with monstrous things. But a bad thing nonetheless.
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rockwater
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7/7/2013 2:34:10 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/6/2013 9:55:50 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 7/5/2013 10:35:03 PM, rockwater wrote:

The Virgin Birth and Resurrection of Christ can't be compared to a belief in blowing up children because the latter belief directly encourages causing harm whereas the former two beliefs do not in themselves encourage harm (although some people might have used them as part of a belief system that advocated harming others).

I believe I specifically said that they weren't directly comparable.

And that it is different is nice and all, but doesn't address the fact that you can't actually argue with the person. Their belief is based on EXACTLY the same ground as your belief. You point to "harm" as the guideline that determines whether the belief is faulty or not. But religious folks don't want gays to be married specifically because it's what they believe their religion teaches as moral. They don't see what they're doing as a harm! And indeed, I'm sure there's similar self-justification in the heads of the Terrorists, too.

The point is that the method of decision-making is indistinguishable.

I wasn't raised to accept teachings from a religious authority. Quite the opposite! My parents were raised Catholic and were determined to raise me to be very skeptical about the Church. I was an adult out gay man when I completed my Ronan Catholic initiation and knew what I was getting into.

Now going back to the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection, saying that I don't have a rational argument to prove them does not mean it is impossible that they actually happened. I just can't really explain why I believe in them. But I don't see how believing in them negatively impacts my or anyone else's life.

Saying that it's not impossible that they happened =/= saying it actually happened. If you "can't explain why you believe" X, I see that as a bad thing. Not, of course, a Terrible, Awful, No-Good Very Bad Thing on par with monstrous things. But a bad thing nonetheless.

I guess this all boils down to epistemology, or what knowledge means. I am no expert on philosophy. I remember being taught in high school that knowledge is justified true belief, and that there are four ways of knowing (sensory perception, language, reason, and emotion). I think that secular knowledge, used to frame laws, investigate the natural world, etc., should come as much as possible from sensory perception, linguistic communication with rational minds, and one's own reasoning, but not from emotion. Spiritual/religious knowledge can come any of these four "ways of knowing," but is open to emotion as well. Spiritual/religious knowledge should not conflict with secular knowledge. Where it appears to, people should make decisions based on secular knowledge. Spiritual/religious knowledge (which I contend can include humanistic and other worldviews held by atheists and agnostics) helps people make daily decisions when rigorous empirical and rational analysis of the situation is either not feasible or does not offer clear advice about what course of action is best to pursue.

If you do not like the terms "religious/spiritual" and "secular" for these types of knowledge, you can suggest other ones.

I also would like to say that my religious beliefs do not not involve reason altogether. There is actually a lot of reasoning behind Catholic beliefs. They just, as I said, involve premises that not every rational person would agree with.

I would finally like to suggest that there is some kind of universal morality - a set of humanistic values - that many religions and secular philosophies share (the golden rule, love thy neighbor, forgive your enemies, do not murder, do not steal, take care of creation, etc.). Religion is only harmful when it comes into conflict with these values. Honoring these values, in fact, requires using reason and science to explain the natural world and to make fair laws. However, some people find it easier to live these values with a religious worldview while others find it easier to do so with a purely secular worldview. My "two kinds of knowledge" explanation above tries to provide a framework for that - although I admit I am not very good at explaining these sorts of things.
bladerunner060
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7/7/2013 2:46:11 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/7/2013 2:34:10 PM, rockwater wrote:

I guess this all boils down to epistemology, or what knowledge means. I am no expert on philosophy. I remember being taught in high school that knowledge is justified true belief, and that there are four ways of knowing (sensory perception, language, reason, and emotion). I think that secular knowledge, used to frame laws, investigate the natural world, etc., should come as much as possible from sensory perception, linguistic communication with rational minds, and one's own reasoning, but not from emotion. Spiritual/religious knowledge can come any of these four "ways of knowing," but is open to emotion as well.

Spiritual/religious knowledge should not conflict with secular knowledge. Where it appears to, people should make decisions based on secular knowledge.

I think you already said this, but perhaps in a different way that concentrated on "harm". This way of phrasing is one I can agree far more with.

Spiritual/religious knowledge (which I contend can include humanistic and other worldviews held by atheists and agnostics) helps people make daily decisions when rigorous empirical and rational analysis of the situation is either not feasible or does not offer clear advice about what course of action is best to pursue.

If you do not like the terms "religious/spiritual" and "secular" for these types of knowledge, you can suggest other ones.

I also would like to say that my religious beliefs do not not involve reason altogether. There is actually a lot of reasoning behind Catholic beliefs. They just, as I said, involve premises that not every rational person would agree with.


I would finally like to suggest that there is some kind of universal morality - a set of humanistic values - that many religions and secular philosophies share (the golden rule, love thy neighbor, forgive your enemies, do not murder, do not steal, take care of creation, etc.). Religion is only harmful when it comes into conflict with these values.

Ah, but there's a problem there. Some religious folks think, for example, that being gay is wrong, on par with things that are clear wrongs (I don't think anyone equates it with murder, but certainly it's considered to be A Wrong.) The problem is the premise. If you agreed it was A Wrong, you'd agree with the further premise. And they don't think it conflicts with their other values.

Honoring these values, in fact, requires using reason and science to explain the natural world and to make fair laws. However, some people find it easier to live these values with a religious worldview while others find it easier to do so with a purely secular worldview. My "two kinds of knowledge" explanation above tries to provide a framework for that - although I admit I am not very good at explaining these sorts of things.

I strongly disagree with this last point. You don't give yourself enough credit for your explanatory abilities.
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Drayson
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7/7/2013 9:25:16 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
For myself, I think it's more that it's harmful to hold matter-of-fact beliefs that are actually untrue.

And given that I see all religious matter-of-fact beliefs as being most likely untrue, it's just a basic logical progression.
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