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Online One Above All

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #29 on: February 27, 2012, 09:39:15 PM »
I gotta say, things like this ("What atheists/atheism can learn from religion") are just attempted manipulations of us (atheists) to make it seem as if atheism is a religion (or needs to be more like one). Why not "What religion/theists can learn from atheism"? There's critical thinking, morality that doesn't come from misogynistic goat-herders who died before anything alive today was even born, the ability to interpret facts without ignoring them because they don't match whatever beliefs one might have... the list goes on.
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Offline Death over Life

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #30 on: February 27, 2012, 09:41:59 PM »
In all honesty, I'm with brakeman.

There is absolutely nothing positive about religion. If you lose the god and the magic, it is no longer religion. The only positive outlook of religion are magic shows because at least magic shows tell you the Truth in that they are tricks, not actual occult magic or any acid trips of the sort.

If you really want to talk positive of religion, I see it as shooting yourself in the foot, because religion serves no purpose that secularism can't give as well.

If you are in need of a social club, just go find some people who share similar interests with you, and there you go. I'd rather go to a social club where everybody is obsessed with the bands that are about to play, or the pro-wrestlers are about to compete, or a particular team is about to play on a stadium, or wait and meet an artist and author instead of a social club where you not only look like a fool, but are being lied right to your face, with a straight face at that.

Even without religion, you can always go to philosophical social clubs. A couple posters mentioned Buddhism (consisting of many atheists) which is a great start. I constantly spout LaVeyan Satanism since that is another atheistic philosophical club. In case you are worried about it being to religious, most LaVeyans are not card-carrying members, but there are members by personal views and by association.

Take away philosophy, I still have television, movies, wrestling, a little bit of MMA, Metal music, classical and folk music, politics, and video games, among a list of who knows what else to get me to be socially active if I need a social club.

What is 1 positive thing that atheists can learn from religion other than nothing?

Offline The Gawd

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #31 on: February 28, 2012, 06:02:30 AM »
agreed DOL, this is like the inverse of the thread about murderers that happen to be atheists. Until there is something Theists/religion can do that we cannot other than lie straight to peoples faces and still take a tenth of their wealth then I dont think we can get anything from religion that is specific to religion. I also wasnt in an abusive church (well, not that I noticed at the time) nut as I look at my facebook stream, damn near each and every one of those people are deeply brainwashed. And that takes any positives away.

Offline Brakeman

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #32 on: February 28, 2012, 06:57:24 AM »
church is a social club.     and social clubs are very valuable.    they are an easy way to make new friends, go on fun adventures, and have a support network.     plus, the pastor of this social club also doubles as a free counselor/therapist.     

you may have had a bad experience growing up with the church, but mine was fairly positive.    there was nothing abusive about it.  the reason i deconverted was not because i hated christians (except the fundies), but because its made up.

Pining away for the fjords, are we? Prison is a similar "social club", you can't speak your mind and you can't be yourself behaviorally. You can't be critical of other member's delusions but you must be critical of the same targets of the crowd (gays,liberals, etc). You have a "gang leader" who'll tell you constantly what to think and will zero onto you if he thinks you're starting to fall out of line.
It is a social club of abusive relationships. Just like a woman wearing "Irish sunglasses" from her husband, you are in denial. Healthy social clubs do not use immense social pressure to make you conform to strict standards - have you ever heard of "excommunication?" Have you heard what catholic, mormon, or jehovah witness shunning is like to families? Do you think any HEALTHY social clubs do this?
When a abusive husband brainwashes his pitiful wife, doe he praise her for her self worth? Or does he instead berate her into self worthlessness as do so many invitational hymns. Ever heard the phrase "for such a wretch as I?"

No, the argument is not that the church stands as a social club in the community, it is that it is an abusive social club, attacking the members' self worth, and self determination.
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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #33 on: February 28, 2012, 08:20:29 AM »
No offense to the people here who disagree, but my feeling is that the kind of person who says "there's nothing positive about X" has either been indoctrinated to think so or has a powerful enough emotional reaction to it that it's clouding their ability to think rationally about it.  For example, theists fall into both categories when they're talking about atheism.

Personally, I don't think there are many of the former kind amongst atheists, since atheism isn't a doctrine per se.  So that leaves the latter, and it's here that I tend to see it, atheists who have understandable emotional reactions to theism because of past experiences who think we'd be better off without religion at all.  It isn't that they aren't thinking about it at all, it's that their emotional reactions are getting in the way.  I've had to deal with the tendency in myself to let my emotional reactions to something interfere with my ability to think about it, and I always found that my ability to think rationally about the something was far improved if I wasn't angry or upset about it at the time.

Offline The Gawd

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #34 on: February 28, 2012, 08:34:35 AM »
No offense to the people here who disagree, but my feeling is that the kind of person who says "there's nothing positive about X" has either been indoctrinated to think so or has a powerful enough emotional reaction to it that it's clouding their ability to think rationally about it.  For example, theists fall into both categories when they're talking about atheism.

Personally, I don't think there are many of the former kind amongst atheists, since atheism isn't a doctrine per se.  So that leaves the latter, and it's here that I tend to see it, atheists who have understandable emotional reactions to theism because of past experiences who think we'd be better off without religion at all.  It isn't that they aren't thinking about it at all, it's that their emotional reactions are getting in the way.  I've had to deal with the tendency in myself to let my emotional reactions to something interfere with my ability to think about it, and I always found that my ability to think rationally about the something was far improved if I wasn't angry or upset about it at the time.
I think you have to show something that can be taken from religion that cant be taken anywhere else. If it can be had elsewhere then religion has nothing to do with it (more likely its part of the human experience). 

For example: Corn is good, I love it whether out of a can or on the cobb, it doesnt matter. Now, I can pick corn out of floating turd that didnt quite flush down the toilet... or I can go to the grocery store and get a whole new cobb or can-o-corn. Now just because corn is good and i CAN get it out of the turd doesnt mean the turd has positive aspects. The fact that corn is in the turd doesnt speak to the possible goodness of the turd. And quite frankly I'd rather have corn thats not inbedded in shit.

Dont eat corn from shit.

Offline RNS

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #35 on: February 28, 2012, 08:51:12 AM »
I personally haven't looked into it myself, but I heard Stephen Fry say somewhere that we would not have the music of Bach if it weren't for religion. I'm sure there are other things that would not have come about if it weren't for religion.
I think to say it's completely bad is a bit narrow minded. In certain parts of the world I really do think it makes a positive difference in helping people lead better lives because without it they would not know better.
I'm not saying that this could not be achieved by other methods, but on such grand scales I struggle to think of how.
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Offline velkyn

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #36 on: February 28, 2012, 09:58:23 AM »
I'd have to ask: what about religion is required for music or art?   IMO, religoin was around and we got music and art.  Even if religion isn't around, we still get music and art. 
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Offline screwtape

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #37 on: February 28, 2012, 10:19:59 AM »
When he said "...we are free to discover religions as a repository of occasionally ingenious concepts ..." I was hoping for some examples. I was disappointed.  Maybe I'm a narrow minded philistine, but none come to mind that do not involve magical thinking or imaginary friends.

What about community, tradition, or philosophy?  Religion was our worse attempt at these concepts, but it was also our first. 

eh?  Religion was our first attempt at community?  I don't think so.  I think our ancestors probably formed into communities before they could talk or even really think properly.  Apes and monkeys do it now, sans priests.

I also doubt religion was our first attempt at having "tradition", whatever that is worth.  As for philosophy, I see religion as a subset of philosophy.  Philosophy happened and the first answers it arrived at were religious. 

I'm not sure that was what the author meant and that wasn't really what I was looking for.  I was looking for products of religion that would specifically fulfill the rest of that quote: "...with which we can try to assuage a few of the most persistent and unattended ills of secular life." 

What "ingenious" thing has religion come up with to help solve "persistent and unattended ills" that does not require belief?  Unless I misunderstood, that was the point of the article.  Non-believers can still find religion valuable.  How?  How can religion help me with anything other than to cynically manipulate the stupid and superstitious?   

It helps people grieve for the dead through belief in an afterlife.  Not something that helps me.
It helps people in hard times through belief in a cosmic daddy who is looking out for them.  Not something that helps me.
It helps people with morality through threatening them with eternal torture or rebirth into a worse life. Not something that helps me.

I'm just not seeing it.  Help me out, if you have an example.
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Offline RNS

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #38 on: February 28, 2012, 10:47:34 AM »
I'd have to ask: what about religion is required for music or art?   IMO, religoin was around and we got music and art.  Even if religion isn't around, we still get music and art.

I'm not implying that religion is required for music or art, but I feel safe in saying that religion has inspired a lot of music and art. Therefore those specific pieces/works would not otherwise exist.

EDIT: to actually answer your question, "what about religion is required for music or art?"- I'm not sure, but I'd guess strong emotional feelings and possibly even changes in neural physiology that leads to different understandings of things and different expression of things   ..or something along those lines.
Maybe some people make their work in the name of god, i.e. as a gift or sign of appreciation.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 10:51:17 AM by RNS »
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Offline velkyn

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #39 on: February 28, 2012, 10:58:00 AM »
I'd have to ask: what about religion is required for music or art?   IMO, religoin was around and we got music and art.  Even if religion isn't around, we still get music and art.

I'm not implying that religion is required for music or art, but I feel safe in saying that religion has inspired a lot of music and art. Therefore those specific pieces/works would not otherwise exist.

EDIT: to actually answer your question, "what about religion is required for music or art?"- I'm not sure, but I'd guess strong emotional feelings and possibly even changes in neural physiology that leads to different understandings of things and different expression of things   ..or something along those lines.
Maybe some people make their work in the name of god, i.e. as a gift or sign of appreciation.

I agree. But it seems most artists and musicians were paid well by the religions. 
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Offline RNS

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #40 on: February 28, 2012, 11:06:55 AM »
But it seems most artists and musicians were paid well by the religions. 
But? Don't you mean and?  :D
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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #41 on: February 28, 2012, 11:11:07 AM »
I think you have to show something that can be taken from religion that cant be taken anywhere else. If it can be had elsewhere then religion has nothing to do with it (more likely its part of the human experience). 

For example: Corn is good, I love it whether out of a can or on the cobb, it doesnt matter. Now, I can pick corn out of floating turd that didnt quite flush down the toilet... or I can go to the grocery store and get a whole new cobb or can-o-corn. Now just because corn is good and i CAN get it out of the turd doesnt mean the turd has positive aspects. The fact that corn is in the turd doesnt speak to the possible goodness of the turd. And quite frankly I'd rather have corn thats not inbedded in shit.

Dont eat corn from shit.
This is a non sequitur.  It has nothing to do with religion except for an attempt to compare by analogy, a comparison that, to be blunt, is just dressing the "nothing good comes of religion" idea up a bit.  That may be good enough for you, but it never will be for me.  "Show me the evidence" doesn't just apply to supernatural theistic claims.

I won't deny that you can get good things without religion.  But that doesn't justify axing religion in its own right.  You need to show not that there are bad things about religion (because there are bad things, whether potential or actual, about every human endeavor), but that religion is irredeemably bad and there is no way to fix it.  You have to show that religion is actually a turd, as you put it, not just say it is.

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #42 on: February 28, 2012, 11:14:15 AM »
What actually comes from religion is belief in supernatural boogeymen. Nothing more. Everything else are simply things religion adopted and started calling its own. Religion has never produced anything on its own (that I'm aware of).
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Offline velkyn

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #43 on: February 28, 2012, 11:33:11 AM »
But it seems most artists and musicians were paid well by the religions. 
But? Don't you mean and?  :D

well, teh "but" came from thinking people were just doing it to feel good  ;)

Jaime, I'm curious, do you think there is a way to fix religion?  I find its base presumptions are simply lies and I find that lies are rarely beneficial.
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Offline Tero

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #44 on: February 28, 2012, 11:46:30 AM »
Religion is feelings! ;D

Atheist visiting death bed of religious friend: great news, Tom, you are not going to hell after all.

Offline fishjie

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #45 on: February 28, 2012, 01:54:37 PM »
church is a social club.     and social clubs are very valuable.    they are an easy way to make new friends, go on fun adventures, and have a support network.     plus, the pastor of this social club also doubles as a free counselor/therapist.     

you may have had a bad experience growing up with the church, but mine was fairly positive.    there was nothing abusive about it.  the reason i deconverted was not because i hated christians (except the fundies), but because its made up.

Pining away for the fjords, are we? Prison is a similar "social club", you can't speak your mind and you can't be yourself behaviorally. You can't be critical of other member's delusions but you must be critical of the same targets of the crowd (gays,liberals, etc). You have a "gang leader" who'll tell you constantly what to think and will zero onto you if he thinks you're starting to fall out of line.
It is a social club of abusive relationships. Just like a woman wearing "Irish sunglasses" from her husband, you are in denial. Healthy social clubs do not use immense social pressure to make you conform to strict standards - have you ever heard of "excommunication?" Have you heard what catholic, mormon, or jehovah witness shunning is like to families? Do you think any HEALTHY social clubs do this?
When a abusive husband brainwashes his pitiful wife, doe he praise her for her self worth? Or does he instead berate her into self worthlessness as do so many invitational hymns. Ever heard the phrase "for such a wretch as I?"

No, the argument is not that the church stands as a social club in the community, it is that it is an abusive social club, attacking the members' self worth, and self determination.

Your prison analogy fails because prison isn't a club you join voluntarily.   

As for being in abusive relationship, nope.     Again, perhaps you had a negative experience going to church, but that's you.    The church communities that I was a part of were friendly, open, and supportive of one another.   Hardly the grim picture that you describe.    Sure there were assholes in the mix, but that's true of any social settings.   You just avoid them.   Problem solved.  Are there fire and brimstone churches?   Sure.   But christianity has thousands of denominations, each with hundreds of believers, each with their own different beliefs.   Claiming they are all fire and brimstone shows you clearly don't know what you're talking about.     What is the term that is commonly thrown around on here?   SPAG.   Self projection as god.   If you are an abusive person, your religious outlook will be abusive, but if you're a positive person, you'll focus on the lovey dovey feel good stuff (think Jefferson bible).

You are just talking out of your ass here, and you are being fanatical about it too, seeing the world in black and white.     That kind of fundamentalist thinking is what makes religion bad in the first place, and what makes militant strains of atheism horrible.   

Offline fishjie

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #46 on: February 28, 2012, 02:10:41 PM »
How can religion help me with anything other than to cynically manipulate the stupid and superstitious?   

It helps people grieve for the dead through belief in an afterlife.  Not something that helps me.
It helps people in hard times through belief in a cosmic daddy who is looking out for them.  Not something that helps me.
It helps people with morality through threatening them with eternal torture or rebirth into a worse life. Not something that helps me.

I'm just not seeing it.  Help me out, if you have an example.

It gives hope for people in shitty situations.    Is it deluded?    Sure.     But there is no real rational basis for being optimistic when your house burned down and you are now homeless.     However, if it allows people in crappy situations to be happy, that's great.     There's a reason why there's an inverse correlation between wealth and religious beliefs.     People who are well off don't need it.     So if you want to get rid of religion, simply improve the living conditions of third world countries.     Using logic and reasoning and clever internet essays won't work on someone whose life is a living hell.     Irrational belief is all that's preventing them from putting a bullet through their head.

People in these situations have nothing to look forward to except more misery.    Critical thinking tells them that the wealth in the world is disproportionately distributed and that the corporations own the politicians, who pass laws to make sure things stay that way.     

I'm all for more happiness.   The only problem with religion is when it forces its beliefs on others.    But religion is not a static thing, it is a dynamic force that has evolved over the years, creating new strains.      There are many religions and subsets of religions that do not have aggressive proselytizing as part of their dna.

Offline The Gawd

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #47 on: February 28, 2012, 02:41:39 PM »
This is a non sequitur.  It has nothing to do with religion except for an attempt to compare by analogy, a comparison that, to be blunt, is just dressing the "nothing good comes of religion" idea up a bit.  That may be good enough for you, but it never will be for me.  "Show me the evidence" doesn't just apply to supernatural theistic claims.

I won't deny that you can get good things without religion.  But that doesn't justify axing religion in its own right.  You need to show not that there are bad things about religion (because there are bad things, whether potential or actual, about every human endeavor), but that religion is irredeemably bad and there is no way to fix it.  You have to show that religion is actually a turd, as you put it, not just say it is.
Evidence that nothing good comes from religion? Youre asking for evidence of something non-existent? That I cannot give you. You already know why. What I can do though is take anything YOU say is "good" from religion and show you it is either not from religion OR not good.

Offline The Wannabe

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #48 on: February 28, 2012, 03:36:54 PM »


eh?  Religion was our first attempt at community?  I don't think so.  I think our ancestors probably formed into communities before they could talk or even really think properly.  Apes and monkeys do it now, sans priests.

I also doubt religion was our first attempt at having "tradition", whatever that is worth.  As for philosophy, I see religion as a subset of philosophy.  Philosophy happened and the first answers it arrived at were religious. 

I'm not sure that was what the author meant and that wasn't really what I was looking for.  I was looking for products of religion that would specifically fulfill the rest of that quote: "...with which we can try to assuage a few of the most persistent and unattended ills of secular life." 

What "ingenious" thing has religion come up with to help solve "persistent and unattended ills" that does not require belief?  Unless I misunderstood, that was the point of the article.  Non-believers can still find religion valuable.  How?  How can religion help me with anything other than to cynically manipulate the stupid and superstitious?   

It helps people grieve for the dead through belief in an afterlife.  Not something that helps me.
It helps people in hard times through belief in a cosmic daddy who is looking out for them.  Not something that helps me.
It helps people with morality through threatening them with eternal torture or rebirth into a worse life. Not something that helps me.

I'm just not seeing it.  Help me out, if you have an example.

I think what he means by "persistent and unattended ills"[1] is the assumption that previously religious individuals who become atheist stop participating in their religion, effectively alienating themselves from their community, thereby making them sad.  If this is the case, he's viewing religion as a vibrant social club that atheist are no longer members of.  As many users already pointed out, there are several different ways a person can go about being "social", religion doesn't have a monopoly on community or human solidarity.

Maybe the atheist community doesn't have anything to learn from religion, maybe it merely needs to respect that religion is part of our history and that it plays a large role in the majority of peoples lives.  We all know the main tenants of religion are irrational, that it is more than possible to live fulfilled lives without placing blind faith in the supernatural, and that an atheistic world would undoubtedly be a better one, but we need to have empathy for believers.  Their lives rest upon their religious beliefs, and when atheist attack their holy book or their god, theist feel that their whole way of life is being threatened[2].  Let's try not to exasperate these feelings by demonizing or characterizing the religious any more than we have to.
 1. no idea in hell why he would use those words to get his point across
 2. and maybe rightly so
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 03:58:14 PM by The Wannabe »
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Offline velkyn

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #49 on: February 28, 2012, 03:59:21 PM »
I can accept that religion is part of our history and other people participate in it. I do not respect that.  I also have empathy for them since I was once a theist.  However, theists will find that any evidence or comment on their religion as being false to be "demonizing" it and them.  They may feel that their way of life is being threatened, that doesn't mean it shouldn't be.  Since we are goign to be damned for anythign we say against religion, I don't see much point in trying to pussyfoot around the issue.
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Offline nogodsforme

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #50 on: February 28, 2012, 04:02:24 PM »
How can religion help me with anything other than to cynically manipulate the stupid and superstitious?   

It helps people grieve for the dead through belief in an afterlife.  Not something that helps me.
It helps people in hard times through belief in a cosmic daddy who is looking out for them.  Not something that helps me.
It helps people with morality through threatening them with eternal torture or rebirth into a worse life. Not something that helps me.

I'm just not seeing it.  Help me out, if you have an example.

It gives hope for people in shitty situations.    Is it deluded?    Sure.     But there is no real rational basis for being optimistic when your house burned down and you are now homeless.     However, if it allows people in crappy situations to be happy, that's great.     There's a reason why there's an inverse correlation between wealth and religious beliefs.     People who are well off don't need it.     So if you want to get rid of religion, simply improve the living conditions of third world countries.     Using logic and reasoning and clever internet essays won't work on someone whose life is a living hell.     Irrational belief is all that's preventing them from putting a bullet through their head.

People in these situations have nothing to look forward to except more misery.    Critical thinking tells them that the wealth in the world is disproportionately distributed and that the corporations own the politicians, who pass laws to make sure things stay that way.     
[snip]

Critical thinking makes people realize how and why they are being screwed. Religion makes them think it's okay to be screwed, in fact it feels good! :?

That's why the commies say that religion is the opiate of the masses. That's why the colonizers made sure to send in the missionaries alongside the mercenaries.

If they are not beaten into submission by teachings that say "blessed are the meek" and "suffering is good because Christ suffered" and "the poor will get their rewards in heaven", people realize they have to do something about their situations besides pray to god. &)

Join a megachurch, not a labor union, a boycott or a protest movement. The last thing the powerful people want is for the 99% to realize the truth and start fighting back.  :P
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline wright

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #51 on: February 28, 2012, 04:17:14 PM »
Maybe the atheist community doesn't have anything to learn from religion, maybe it merely needs to respect that religion is part of our history and that it plays a large role in the majority of peoples lives.  We all know the main tenants of religion are irrational, that it is more than possible to live fulfilled lives without placing blind faith in the supernatural, and that an atheistic world would undoubtedly be a better one, but we need to have empathy for believers.  Their lives rest upon their religious beliefs, and when atheist attack their holy book or their god, theist feel that their whole way of life is being threatened[1].  Let's try not to exasperate these feelings by demonizing or characterizing the religious any more than we have to.
 1. and maybe rightly so

Like velkyn said, I think most atheists are willing to acknowledge (if not respect) religion's role historically and in our present society. But, Wannabe: many theists have a notoriously low threshold for becoming exasperated over the very existence of atheists, let alone when they begin speaking out.

The terms "militant" and "radical" when applied to atheists often boil down to "saying things outside the comfort zone" of those applying them, theist or atheist. That's why I side more with those atheists like PZ Myers. The religious need to recognize their privileged position is not above reproach and less hypersensitive to criticism.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 04:19:21 PM by wright »
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Offline The Wannabe

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #52 on: February 28, 2012, 05:05:24 PM »
I can accept that religion is part of our history and other people participate in it. I do not respect that.  I also have empathy for them since I was once a theist.  However, theists will find that any evidence or comment on their religion as being false to be "demonizing" it and them.  They may feel that their way of life is being threatened, that doesn't mean it shouldn't be.  Since we are goign to be damned for anythign we say against religion, I don't see much point in trying to pussyfoot around the issue.

And I never said that we should pussyfoot around the issue.  All i'm saying is that we should make it clear that we are not the enemy of most religious people[1].  We are trying to get them to escape the entrappings of their religion, and view the cosmos with eyes unfettered by irrational belief in supernatural monsters or dictators, not destroy their way of life.  Some believe that atheism will erode morals and disrupt society, they would claim we are striving to demolish "Christian ethics" and that we have nothing with which to replace them.   Atheist must assure the religious that this is not the case, and that most of us espouse positive philosophies such as humanism which advocates more concern and consideration for mankind than any of the monotheistic religions. 

I'm not saying we leave theist unmolested, I'm only suggesting that we diplomatically try to make allies instead of assuming the believer, from a priori, already to be our enemy. 
 1. The exception of course being those in positions of religious authority who knowingly deceive or abuse those under their "spiritual guidance".
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 05:15:47 PM by The Wannabe »
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Offline fishjie

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #53 on: February 28, 2012, 05:44:45 PM »
How can religion help me with anything other than to cynically manipulate the stupid and superstitious?   

It helps people grieve for the dead through belief in an afterlife.  Not something that helps me.
It helps people in hard times through belief in a cosmic daddy who is looking out for them.  Not something that helps me.
It helps people with morality through threatening them with eternal torture or rebirth into a worse life. Not something that helps me.

I'm just not seeing it.  Help me out, if you have an example.

It gives hope for people in shitty situations.    Is it deluded?    Sure.     But there is no real rational basis for being optimistic when your house burned down and you are now homeless.     However, if it allows people in crappy situations to be happy, that's great.     There's a reason why there's an inverse correlation between wealth and religious beliefs.     People who are well off don't need it.     So if you want to get rid of religion, simply improve the living conditions of third world countries.     Using logic and reasoning and clever internet essays won't work on someone whose life is a living hell.     Irrational belief is all that's preventing them from putting a bullet through their head.

People in these situations have nothing to look forward to except more misery.    Critical thinking tells them that the wealth in the world is disproportionately distributed and that the corporations own the politicians, who pass laws to make sure things stay that way.     
[snip]

Critical thinking makes people realize how and why they are being screwed. Religion makes them think it's okay to be screwed, in fact it feels good! :?

That's why the commies say that religion is the opiate of the masses. That's why the colonizers made sure to send in the missionaries alongside the mercenaries.

If they are not beaten into submission by teachings that say "blessed are the meek" and "suffering is good because Christ suffered" and "the poor will get their rewards in heaven", people realize they have to do something about their situations besides pray to god. &)

Join a megachurch, not a labor union, a boycott or a protest movement. The last thing the powerful people want is for the 99% to realize the truth and start fighting back.  :P

well that's the point, it keeps order.   if the 99% fight back, we get retarded communist revolutions that fail miserably and replace capitalism with a dictatorship, which is 1000x worse.   see what mao ze dong did to china, and what stalin did to russia. 

they sure showed those bourgeoisie!   oh wait, the proletariat got screwed 1000x worse.   the majority of human civilization is not capable of having a peaceful non violent revolution capable of creating a better life for people, so as a white collar guy whose doing well in the 20% i'd prefer it if religion kept them docile.     the USA lucked out with george washington who everyone wanted to make king.     india lucked out with gandhi.   but those guys are exceptions not the rule.   take a look at south america and asia and how those revolutions all turned out.

what's also interesting to note is that communism is atheist in nature, and they persecuted religions, but the leaders set themselves up as gods.    my parents still have mao ze dongs hymns memorized.   hence why it is not religion that is the problem, but blind fanaticism and adherence to any ideology.    most believers in america today are very liberal christians, the problem is that the creationist bible thumping minority is the most vocal.   

there are countries that have better distribution of wealth and they are mostly atheist, but again those are exceptions.     rather than fight religion, the fight should be to improve the standard of living and education, through non violent means, and religion will naturally shed more of its dogma and take on more of its role as a way to foster community.

Offline The Gawd

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #54 on: February 28, 2012, 06:31:10 PM »
fishjie,

The French Revolution worked. Not non-violently, but it worked.

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #55 on: February 28, 2012, 07:31:01 PM »
I said this in another topic, but I think it's worth mentioning here.  Atheists can live with moderate/liberal religious people who accept the idea of a secular society, if necessary.  But nobody can live with fundamentalists of any stripe.

Offline fishjie

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #56 on: February 28, 2012, 08:29:22 PM »
fishjie,

The French Revolution worked. Not non-violently, but it worked.

they slaughtered lots of people indiscriminately and set up napoleon as emperor.    sure france eventually turned out ok, but the french revolution is a perfect example of why mob mentality is the problem.    religion gives a safe outlet for mob mentality (opiate of the masses and such), and some religions are safer than others.      when you take it away, the outlet can easily become beheading people on the guillotine.     or mao killing off various "enemies of the state" and doing retarded crap like the cultural revolution.     

I said this in another topic, but I think it's worth mentioning here.  Atheists can live with moderate/liberal religious people who accept the idea of a secular society, if necessary.  But nobody can live with fundamentalists of any stripe.

yup.     in europe its mostly atheist, but church stays around more for tradition and rituals and community.   nobody is really fundie there and it works out pretty damn well.     

Offline Cyberia

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Re: What atheists can learn from religion
« Reply #57 on: February 28, 2012, 08:47:51 PM »
No offense to the people here who disagree, but my feeling is that the kind of person who says "there's nothing positive about X" has either been indoctrinated to think so or has a powerful enough emotional reaction to it that it's clouding their ability to think rationally about it.  For example, theists fall into both categories when they're talking about atheism.

Personally, I don't think there are many of the former kind amongst atheists, since atheism isn't a doctrine per se.  So that leaves the latter, and it's here that I tend to see it, atheists who have understandable emotional reactions to theism because of past experiences who think we'd be better off without religion at all.  It isn't that they aren't thinking about it at all, it's that their emotional reactions are getting in the way.  I've had to deal with the tendency in myself to let my emotional reactions to something interfere with my ability to think about it, and I always found that my ability to think rationally about the something was far improved if I wasn't angry or upset about it at the time.

Introspection and reflection are difficult and often painful, weather atheist or theist, it part of the human condition.  If you get through the process, often you come out with a new mental-model that supersedes the original.
Soon we will judge angels.