Author Topic: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not  (Read 5070 times)

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Offline Monolight

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #58 on: February 13, 2013, 02:42:20 PM »
Justice. It's maybe secondary, not primary.

setting aside whether eternal torture is actually just, maybe it's not even a need so much as a want?
Maybe, but what does it change?

Offline pianodwarf

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #59 on: February 13, 2013, 03:00:18 PM »
The most recent available poll information, as I said, is that the "Nones" are currently nineteen percent of the population in the United States
I don't know where you got those figures from

It was from a survey conducted last year by the Pew Center.
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2012-07-19/no-religion-affiliation/56344976/1

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Considering we are in computer age now since 90s...
Not sure why you think this is relevant?
It's the age of internet - easy and almost infinite access to information and intellectual freedom. This could have more negative influence on religion.

Ah, I see.  Yes, I agree.  Seth talked about it a bit on a recent "Thinking Atheist" podcast.

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In 2005, 69% of Irish people described themselves as "religious", but in 2012, that number had plummeted to 47%.  That's quite a drop.
I don't know where you got those figures from.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/aug/08/end-of-catholic-ireland

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I found this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_Republic_of_Ireland
and it says (Church attendance in the Republic of Ireland) in 2005 34% and in 2009 46%. But anyway, comparing e.g. to 91% in 1973, it's a big drop.

Yes, it is.  Personally, I'm glad to see it.  I'm always glad to see a drop in religion, but I'm especially pleased to see it happening in Ireland.  Ireland is perhaps my favorite country in the world (I'm spending two weeks there in September), and I've always considered its strong religious tradition as a stain on an otherwise very beautiful country.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #60 on: February 13, 2013, 03:24:17 PM »
Maybe, but what does it change?

Your premise. 
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Offline Monolight

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #61 on: February 13, 2013, 03:46:08 PM »
It was from a survey conducted last year by the Pew Center.
There is a comment: "Young people are resistant to the authority of institutional religion, older people are turned off by the politicization of religion, and people are simply less into theology than ever before." If it's true, the reason of the growth of nones is partially the result of religion evolving in the wrong direction. It's not sure that those people simply abandoned their belief. If they still believe in God, there may be place in this country for another religion.

And here:
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2012/1018/breaking31.html

The Iona Institute, which describes itself as a pro-marriage, pro-religion think tank, said the figures on non-religious should be assessed with caution.
“Not belonging to any particular religion is not the same as being irreligious,” spokesman for the organisation David Quinn said.
He pointed to a survey by the prestigious Pew Forum in the US that found that one in five Americans does not belong to a religion but half of this group consider themselves to be either religious or spiritual.
“Ticking the ‘no religion’ box can simply mean a person doesn’t belong to any particular religion, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are purely secular in their thinking, let alone that they are atheists,” Mr Quinn said.


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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #62 on: February 13, 2013, 03:54:52 PM »
People say sometimes "because god wants it that way" when they are helpless. This makes it easier to cope with e.g. tragedy. (btw religion does not give the answer as to why God wanted it this way, so it's not a full answer, just somethig to calm the mind). Another point for religion, then. Does atheism offer any kind of such consolation?

I have never understood why religious "comfort" is considered so superior. I've been an atheist for a long time, and have yet to encounter any tragedy in my life that I couldn't deal with because I was lacking a god. In fact, I would say that in my anecdotal cases, it was the religious people also affected by the same incident or death that suffered more than me, because many of them had to go through the "why did god let this happen" rituals along with dealing with the problem itself.

As an atheist, things like natural disasters and death happen. We don't like such things any more than the religious, but we don't have to waste time trying to squeeze the thing that just happened into a reality which includes a loving deity. Shit happens, I deal with it. I might ask "why" something happened, technically. (a relatively recent friends death in a car wreck, for instance. I wanted to know what happened. Turned out a drunk t-boned him at an intersection. That's all the "why" I needed), but I don't have to go into any esoteric religious thought process. You know, where I have to put the bad thing in line with my unrealistic religious expectations of reality.

A religious friend of mine who has tried to convert me on several occasions still makes it clear about twice a year that he anguishes over the "fact" that if I don't accept jc as my lord and savior, I will burn in hell for eternity. If he lucks out and I kick the bucket first, he is presumably going to have to deal with that additional bit of imagined horror as well as with my actual death.

How can making everything harder make things easier?
Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline Monolight

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #63 on: February 13, 2013, 04:16:03 PM »
This is a fancy way of saying that believers shouldn't worry about theology and should simply let the ones at the top figure everything out for them.  That type of top-down approach seldom works very well, and it never lasts, especially today.
It works effectively since (more than) 2K years and lasts until today. Perhaps it will change in the future, because religions evolve.

For example, Inquisitions, witch trials, pogroms, religious warfare, persecution of 'heresy', forcible conversions, threats of damnation, and so on.  Note that this is just from Christian religions - I've no doubt that other religions have their own vicious histories.

You know what's happened in cultures where those kinds of actions are no longer tolerated?  Religious tendencies have tended to falter and fade over time, and being non-religious has started to steadily gain ground.
But those vicious histories were long time ago - a few generations have passed and the main religions have not faded out. Secondly, if you are saying that the main reason for the existance and survival of religion is threat and force - how would you explain the spread of more quiet religions like Buddhism?

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #64 on: February 13, 2013, 04:38:08 PM »
It works effectively since (more than) 2K years and lasts until today. Perhaps it will change in the future, because religions evolve.
No, it didn't work effectively.  It stifled human progress for most of that time and resulted in a lot of people who simply did as their religious leaders told them, without bothering to think about whether it was right or not.  Indeed, if they started feeling qualms about it, they were able to quiet them because they could pretend it wasn't actually wrong since "God" (meaning their religious leaders) obviously approved, otherwise those same religious leaders wouldn't have told them that it was okay to do it in the first place.

Quote from: Monolight
But those vicious histories were long time ago - a few generations have passed and the main religions have not faded out. Secondly, if you are saying that the main reason for the existance and survival of religion is threat and force - how would you explain the spread of more quiet religions like Buddhism?
That's specious reasoning.  Religions have lasted a long time; they aren't going to fade out in a few years or even a few generations.  Second, you need to do some research.  Buddhism has been involved in its share or violence and oppression through history.

Offline Monolight

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #65 on: February 13, 2013, 04:45:03 PM »
Maybe, but what does it change?
Your premise.
My premise was that religion fulfills human basic (primary) needs. The fact that it also fulfills something else, doesn't negate the premise.

As a sidenote, maybe the term basic human needs is not 100% precise (although I've seen it used by people on other sites too). But the Maslow's classification is not what I meant. Maybe the better term would be "basic human desires".

Offline Monolight

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #66 on: February 13, 2013, 05:05:37 PM »
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This is a fancy way of saying that believers shouldn't worry about theology and should simply let the ones at the top figure everything out for them.  That type of top-down approach seldom works very well, and it never lasts, especially today.
It works effectively since (more than) 2K years and lasts until today. Perhaps it will change in the future, because religions evolve.
No, it didn't work effectively.  It stifled human progress for most of that time and resulted in a lot of people who simply did as their religious leaders told them, without bothering to think about whether it was right or not.  Indeed, if they started feeling qualms about it, they were able to quiet them because they could pretend it wasn't actually wrong since "God" (meaning their religious leaders) obviously approved, otherwise those same religious leaders wouldn't have told them that it was okay to do it in the first place.
By "effectively" I meant effectively for its own survival, because it lasted for long time

Quote from: Monolight
But those vicious histories were long time ago - a few generations have passed and the main religions have not faded out. Secondly, if you are saying that the main reason for the existance and survival of religion is threat and force - how would you explain the spread of more quiet religions like Buddhism?
That's specious reasoning.  Religions have lasted a long time; they aren't going to fade out in a few years or even a few generations.  Second, you need to do some research.  Buddhism has been involved in its share or violence and oppression through history.
First, what's specious about it? You repeated what I was saying.
Second - fine. I just wanted to show that violence was not the main force behind the existance and survival of Buddhism over ages (as could be in case of other religions). They had wars with others, but did not enforce anyone to Buddhism.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2013, 05:12:01 PM by Monolight »

Offline Monolight

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #67 on: February 13, 2013, 06:01:29 PM »
I have never understood why religious "comfort" is considered so superior. I've been an atheist for a long time, and have yet to encounter any tragedy in my life that I couldn't deal with because I was lacking a god. In fact, I would say that in my anecdotal cases, it was the religious people also affected by the same incident or death that suffered more than me, because many of them had to go through the "why did god let this happen" rituals along with dealing with the problem itself.
Just thinking. Maybe "why did god let this happen" works like mantra. It takes a portion of the raw suffering and replaces it with a question requiring reasoning. I know that atheists could also pose a question "why did this happen" (just omit the god part) but for a religious person this question is more important hence more absorbing (atheist knows that s**t just happens). So, you may have thought that he had additional problem to cope with, while in fact, he was just repeating mantra in his mind and reacting to it.
Or maybe he was just more sensitive, or less psychologically resistant.
You can find plenty of testimonials in the internet how faith helps in bearing with suffering.

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #68 on: February 13, 2013, 06:45:48 PM »
By "effectively" I meant effectively for its own survival, because it lasted for long time
Effectiveness measures how well something does, not how long it lasts.  And, to put it bluntly, the fact that something lasts a long time does not make it a good thing.

Quote from: Monolight
First, what's specious about it? You repeated what I was saying.
My point was that when something has thousands of years of inertia behind it, it takes longer than a few decades for that inertia to wear itself out.

Quote from: Monolight
Second - fine. I just wanted to show that violence was not the main force behind the existance and survival of Buddhism over ages (as could be in case of other religions). They had wars with others, but did not enforce anyone to Buddhism.
Granted, but Buddhism also doesn't go for eternal damnation or an afterlife, doesn't have a god as its figurehead, doesn't have a devil figure either, and is much more about dealing with the problems that people suffer in life.  It tends to be much more of a philosophical belief with some religious trappings (for example, karma and the cycle of rebirth).  So it's not really a good example of a religion in the sense that you mean it to be.

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #69 on: February 13, 2013, 06:54:42 PM »
You can find plenty of testimonials in the internet how faith helps in bearing with suffering.

Obviously we can't make conclusions based on anecdotal evidence, so all I am giving is my opinion right now. But I have to ask this, based on what you wrote in the above quote: How do we know that it helps? Because they say it does? What are they comparing it too?

To me it is like mommy kissing a little kids "boo boo" to make it feel better. But with baggage.

I like to think that people, unencumbered by religious stuff, could cope even better by eliminating the mythical and replacing it with the practical. Sure it hurts to watch your whole town be inundated by a tsunami, and loose half your friends and family, etc. Bad. But is a christian or other religious person saying "it's god's will" actually going to get through the ordeal better than an atheist who says "Ouch, now lets get this mess cleaned up."

I'm not talking about the time it takes so create rationalizations. I'm talking about the overall usefulness of the process. Again, this is just me, but I don't see the advantage.

"God must have wanted another angel in heaven" does nothing for me. It almost makes the death acceptable, when measures to prevent similar deaths in the future might be possible. Why bother if dead people happen because of a god wanting more angels?

I'm prejudiced here. I like to think that I have a more realistic approach to tragedy. I could be wrong. But I have no way of pretending I'm religious to try other approaches.
Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline kcrady

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #70 on: February 13, 2013, 08:19:01 PM »
Going through the list from the "Seattlepi" piece:

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1) Security and stability. We are speaking not of physical security, but of emotional security at the deepest level. Religious believers testify to an ultimate reality, or supreme being, who bestows this sense of security and stability through the storms of life. Metaphors such as rock and mighty fortress express a sense of fulfillment of this need. [emphasis in red added]

Note that religion does not offer any boost in actual security.  Instead, it offers what amounts to a pacifier or security blanket.  As has already been pointed out, when one's luck runs out and something bad happens, the "sense of security" can turn to thorns, as the person starts having to wonder, "Did I do something to make god/the gods mad at me?"  Believing that whoever's in charge of the Cosmic Events Department likes you may provide one a "sense of security," but unless there actually is someone in charge of a Cosmic Events Dept., and they actually like you, the "sense of security" is false.  As it is written in the Litany of Gendlin:

What is true is already so.
Owning up to it doesn't make it worse.
Not being open about it doesn't make it go away.
And because it's true, it is what is there to be interacted with.
Anything untrue isn't there to be lived.
People can stand what is true,
for they are already enduring it.

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2) Love, acceptance, companionship. This need is partly fulfilled by other people, but friends and lovers can be fickle, spouses unfaithful and loved ones die. We need one who is always there, always faithful. We have what Max Otto (not a believer) called "the hunger for cosmic support." Scripture testifies that "God is love."

As with "security," we are once again not talking about an actual love from an actual being that gets manifested in some way.  Instead, it's a "sense of being loved" that works in about the same way that a pacifier works as a substitute for a nipple.  Humans need love because we're social animals.  Being loved and "belonging" means that our tribe has our back.  A lack of these things means that we're alone against the hyenas and lions, and our chances of survival go way down.  Religion can offer membership in a community that takes the place of our ancestral tribes.  Some religions have evolved the trick of creating a sense of "virtual love" from the deity or deities.  This lets them set a hook into this human need, much like an addictive chemical "fits" into receptors for neurotransmitters, generating an artificially intense "high" in place of the positive feelings normally generated by the brain.

The secular replacement for this is a real human community that really looks out for its members.  The most secular nations (such as Northern Europe and Japan) are the ones that provide comprehensive social support systems, transit systems, and the like, reducing the existential worry of their citizens.  In the U.S., the most religious of the developed nations, opposition to such social support networks correlates strongly with religiosity: religion fears the competition.

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3) Meaning and purpose. This need may be the most basic. It's hell to look at life and perceive it all as meaningless. In part, this need is cognitive and intellectual, for we need to make sense of life. But the need is deeper, more "existential." We may have rational answers to all the questions and problems, and still not be satisfied.


Once again, we're talking about a false "sense" of purpose, rather than an actual purpose.  Unless the religious person is clergy or a missionary or a guru or ascetic, they actually live pretty much the same kind of lives as everyone else.  They go to the same kind of jobs, pay the same kind of bills, do their best to raise their children, etc..  Ask a religious person, "OK, so you've got this purpose for your life that I don't have.  Alright then, what is it?"  They don't have very many options for response here.  They can either say that their "Purpose Driven Life" means that god/the gods has/have "placed" them where they're at, so that their chosen vocation isn't just a job, it's a Divine Purpose!  Unless they can point to some mystical experience where an angel or theophany manifested to them and told them in a big booming voice, "Harold: Behold, your purpose, decreed by Heaven, is to be an insurance agent and raise three children!  Go forth, and fulfill thy purpose!" then they very likely chose their "purpose" in about the same way as the rest of us do.  Religion allows them to paint a sparkly halo around it in their minds.

Another option might be to say that their purpose is to worship their god/s and/or "spread the Message."  Again, unless they're a professional clergy-person/missionary/guru/etc., they're not really fulfilling this "purpose."  Singing hymns and listening to a sermon for an hour or two a week and passing out the occasional tract is hardly "living to worship/spread the Message."  It's more like a hobby--a "sense" of purpose, rather than the real thing.

The secular alternative is to do what the vast majority of religious people do, and choose our own purpose--only, accept the truth that this is in fact what we are doing.  I point, again, to the Litany of Gendlin.

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Yet in the Bible, Job was finally satisfied to know the presence of God, even though his desperate questions were not answered.

The Book of Job is an odd place to go in an attempt to defend the notion of Divine "purpose."  Above, Mr. Burres says, "It's hell to look at life and perceive it all as meaningless."  And yet, what could be more meaningless, pointless, and capricious than what Yahweh does to Job?  Job's family is murdered and the man himself brutally tortured, because Satan made a bet with Yahweh that his favorite little minion would not continue to worship him loyally if he chose to act like the Devil would want him to.  Rather than tell Satan to beat it, "for I am a just and righteous God, far be it from Me to betray the trust of My most loyal servant and violate My Covenant with him!" Yahweh's ego makes him eager to see if he can receive worship from Job even when he doesn't deserve it.  "To win a bet with the Devil" is hardly a grand, lofty Divine Purpose that justifies mass murder and torture.  The Book of Job is not very good at providing a "sense" of Divine protection and purpose.  If anything, the author of Job is deliberately sticking his thumb in the eye of those who taught that Yahweh provides protection and his purposes are wholly righteous and just.  Those people are represented by Job's friends, who get pwned in the end. 

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4) Holiness. Holiness? Yes, in a moral sense we all need to feel that we are doing the right thing. If we don't, we live with guilt. We can either rationalize to try to justify our actions, or we can admit we were wrong and seek forgiveness.


Or we can...oh, I dunno, be moral people, instead of just cloaking ourselves in a "sense" of morality?  And when we do something wrong we can admit we were wrong, do our best to make up for what we've done, and seek forgiveness.

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In a spiritual sense we need reconciliation with the ultimate. Thus novelist Salman Rushdie confessed to having a "God-shaped void" in his life. Though we may try to fill that void with all kinds of things, only one can truly fill it.

And Charlie Manson confessed to being Jesus.  So?  Since Salman Rushdie is most famous for putatively blaspheming his religion and getting the knickers of the "holy" men thereof in a really big knot, he seems like an odd choice of icon here.  Nonetheless, if Salman Rushdie thinks he has a "God-shaped void" in his life, that hardly makes it a universal.  I can see your Salman Rushdie and raise you a Richard Dawkins, a Julia Galef, a Christopher Hitchins, and a Paula Kirby, all without "God-shaped voids"--not to mention myself, and (I'm guessing) just about all the members of this Forum.  Since Mr. Burres has already admitted that religion only offers a "sense" of fulfilling these needs he lists, he can't point to any actual evidence of "God-shaped voids" in people, or demonstrate that only those who worship the properly-shaped god get these "voids" filled properly.

The secular alternative to "reconciliation with the ultimate" is to do our best to develop the most accurate understanding we can of reality as it is, take joy in the merely real, and act within reality's parameters.  Making things up so that we can have a "sense" of getting our needs and desires met doesn't actually meet our needs and desires.

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5) Joy. Let's make a distinction between joy and happiness: Happiness is the satisfaction we get from achieving a goal, attaining something desired. But happiness is fleeting. Joy is a deeper sense of contentment that endures when the other needs are met. It is "the peace that passes all understanding" because it is completely independent of outward circumstances. We can have joy even in the midst of sorrow.

And this is sourced solely in religion, how?  Since Mr. Burres doesn't even make an argument that religion provides this, much less that only religion can do so, there's nothing for me to respond to here.  The vast majority of religious people go through life just like we do.  They cuss when they hit their hand with a hammer, they have arguments with their spouses and get mad at their kids and whack the dog with a newspaper when it poops on the carpet and...etc.  If religious people glided through life with serene, beatific expressions on their faces come what may, and the rest of us could only watch them enviously wondering what it was that they had and we didn't, Mr. Burres might have a point.  Doesn't work that way though, does it?

Perhaps one could point to practicing contemplatives who meditate or pray for hours a day over a course of years and say that they have this kind of beatific joy.  Since the benefits of meditation are measurable, it follows that those benefits would be most visible in "athletes of meditation" who regularly exercise.  In the same way, a person who spends those same hours practicing with the violin, or ice skating, or dance, or anything else, will develop abilities in those areas that significantly surpass those of "ordinary" individuals who don't, or who develop their abilities in something else.  One thing to notice though, is that the "joy" of the mystics is tradition-invariant.  Zen monks can achieve it as well as or better than Christian monks.  Zen is also notable for not having any doctrine to speak of.  You will find no gods or divine commandments there.

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Why, then, do people sometimes commit violence in the name of religion? People may belong to religious groups for any number of superficial reasons. If their existential needs are not genuinely fulfilled, then insecurity, lack of love, guilt and emotional turmoil may drive them to try to compensate in horrendous ways. It is all too easy to believe they are doing the will of their deity. But don't blame the religion for what some of its adherents do.

Och!  Nae True Scotsman, laddie!  It would actually be nice if violence committed in the name of religion was a man-bites-dog story, something only manifested by the occasional oddball straying from the path of their religion because their needs weren't being "genuinely fulfilled."[1]  Unfortunately, the worst religious violence is that waged by the religious groups themselves, under the authority of their most respected leaders, backed by the teachings of their religious scriptures and/or doctrines.  His own preferred "holy" book, the Bible, contains entire treatises on the art of genocidal religious warfare (see Exodus, Deuteronomy, Joshua and Judges for examples).  The "New and Improved" Jesus-y version adds the delightful idea of everlasting torture after death for everybody who doesn't get the right answers on the Celestial Quiz.  "Holy" religious violence, said to be perpetrated--at an ultimate level of sadism, and forever--by the Deity Himself.  With that as a holy ideal, religious violence from believers is not at all surprising.
 1. Considering that, over and over again, Mr. Burres has admitted that religion only provides a "sense" of these needs being met, rather than providing any evidence that an actual god/goddess/gods actually steps in to meet them, then its hardly a surprise that people might "try to compensate in horrendous ways."
"The question of whether atheists are, you know, right, typically gets sidestepped in favor of what is apparently the much more compelling question of whether atheists are jerks."

--Greta Christina

Offline lotanddaughters

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #71 on: February 13, 2013, 11:46:44 PM »
Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not? Because there is no alternative to religion, that's why.

You are trying to apply logic (contradictions, etc) to disprove religion, while the main reason people are religious is not for the pure beauty of logic, but rather for emotions and spirituality. Religion appeals to people because it fulfills their many (sometimes primary) needs.

A brief googling for the subject:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080213195752AA4uQ2a
http://www.seattlepi.com/local/opinion/article/Religion-does-fulfill-primary-need-1209724.php
(let me know if you find better elaboration about "how religion fulfills people's needs", I am interested in this subject)

You think people should wake up and stop believing, because religion is irrational and God is scientifically impossible (according to current state of science). That won't happen, because the benefits religion gives people will compensate for any "contradictions". There are answers for all your "contradictions", some are more, some are less logical, but it doesn't matter, either. Believers will choose to believe these answers, rather than your contradictions, because the only thing atheists can do (regarding religion of course) is negate and abolish. You don't really have any alternative, anything to give people instead of religion. Or have you?

For the people who have the potential to accept that there isn't a guarantee of an all-loving god/all-good-in-the-end situation, all of these philosophical angles that are provided on this website help to educate and enlighten these questioning individuals in order to further enhance the remainder of their precious lives and the lives of those that they influence.


For the people who can't handle the truth . . . fuck 'em.
Enough with your bullshit.
. . . Mr. Friday . . . that post really is golden.

Offline lotanddaughters

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #72 on: February 14, 2013, 12:12:12 AM »
Warning:

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Offline screwtape

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #73 on: February 14, 2013, 09:14:13 AM »
My premise was that religion fulfills human basic (primary) needs. The fact that it also fulfills something else, doesn't negate the premise.

you've yet to show that it fulfills any primary needs.  and the point being made here is that it may not satify any needs at all.

Maybe the better term would be "basic human desires".

Then that does change your premise. 
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Offline DumpsterFire

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #74 on: February 14, 2013, 11:12:47 AM »
Yes and that's the main reason why insurance companies grow so well. People need to feel secure. I am not saying though (and religion doesn't teach this) that you can drive and take turns 200km/h and feel safe because your faith will protect you.
This is a false analogy, as the sense of security insurance companies (legitimate ones, anyway) provide is not false. If I do take a corner at 200 km/h and slide into a ditch, my insurance company will cover the expense of any resulting damages.

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When you learned her true intentions, you are only left with disappointment, because you we wrong (mistaken) and rejected. The difference with religion is that it first of all teaches that misfortune or tragedy may happen to you, and when it happens, you religion will give you strength to cope with it. If tragedy happens, many people come out of it even more religious than before. They find strength anyway and whether it comes from God or from other sources ("what doesn't kill me makes me stronger" -Nietzche) is left to decide to their conscience. Many say religion really helps in difficult times.
An obvious problem here is that religion is deliberately unfalsifiable, at least for the living. You posit religion as a coping mechanism, and while I do not understand why so many feel it necessary, I don't fault anyone for dealing with tragedy by whatever means they prefer. A caveat would be that said means does no harm to others by its practice, something which cannot be said about religion.

Bottom line: It really sucks that so many folks in this world are oppressed, suppressed, vilified, stigmatized, and/or discriminated against just so other folks can feel a false sense of security.
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Offline Monolight

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #75 on: February 14, 2013, 02:14:41 PM »
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1) Security and stability. We are speaking not of physical security, but of emotional security at the deepest level.
Note that religion does not offer any boost in actual security.  Instead, it offers what amounts to a pacifier or security blanket.

Emotional security is as real as physical security, but in the world of emotions (inside brain) instead of physical world.

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As has already been pointed out, when one's luck runs out and something bad happens, the "sense of security" can turn to thorns, as the person starts having to wonder, "Did I do something to make god/the gods mad at me?"

As has already been pointed out, the answer is often "God wanted it this way." Not that "God is mad at you". Religion doesn't say life will be sweet as cherry pie. Part of the role of religion is to prepare people to cope with problems.

Here is an article about emotional security: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_security
Religion is mentioned twice in an example situation of death of a loved person. First of all, hoping that the deceased person has gone to 'better place' is not commented as some sick attitude, but rather as a possible healthy reaction, proving one's emotional security. Second, religious devotion is given as one of possible ways to increase one's emotional security.

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2) Love, acceptance, companionship.
As with "security," we are once again not talking about an actual love from an actual being that gets manifested in some way.
God's love was manifested in many ways (many are described in the Bible). I am pretty sure all of them have already been ridiculed on this forum thoroughly, so you should have the idea. Religious people believe in those manifestations, this love is true for them and not an artificial "sense" of abstract love. You may think it's funny or absurd, but that's YOUR opinion.

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Some religions have evolved the trick of creating a sense of "virtual love" from the deity or deities.  This lets them set a hook into this human need, much like an addictive chemical "fits" into receptors for neurotransmitters, generating an artificially intense "high" in place of the positive feelings normally generated by the brain.

Whether it's artificially high, depends on the view. Do people ever complain on too much love? Rarely. More love is usually welcome.

"Intense high" versus "normal": in this respect, it's analogical to art, or to knowledge. Is it bad that art makes you feel "high"? Are you against specialized studies, which absorb brain intellectually more than average? Both of these disciplines hook into some desire or need (for beauty, curiosity) and stimulate it. Religion hooks into need for love. Experiencing God's love may sometimes get a bit "high" (exaltation). Agape - "a selfless love, a love that was passionately committed to the well-being of the other" (by wikipedia). It's wrong with experiencing it?

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The secular replacement for this is a real human community that really looks out for its members.  The most secular nations (such as Northern Europe and Japan) are the ones that provide comprehensive social support systems, transit systems, and the like, reducing the existential worry of their citizens.

Are you saying that religion does not offer "real human community"? Googling for "Christian communities" shows 269,000,000 results, so at least some of them must be real.

About the "secular replacement" for the "unreal christian community", e.g. in Sweden. It's true Sweden is viewed as an example of how well a secular community develops. But note also, that it is a very rich country. It's easier to deal very well when you have a lot of money.

Besides, the "secular communities" seem to be missing spirituality. In “The epidemiology of lost meaning: A study in psychology of religion and existential public health in a Swedish context” by Cecilia A. Melder, you can read about it: (  http://uu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:371919/SUMMARY01  )

Professors Kathryn O´Connell and Suzann Skevington from the WHO Centre
for the Study of Quality of Life at the University of Bath write, “Although
spirituality has been seen as irrelevant, or difficult to measure, a
growing body of peer reviewed articles point to a positive and important
relationship between spiritual beliefs and other domains of quality of life in
health”

Koenig, Director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke
University, North Carolina notes the following in an interview for the Journal
of Religion and Health:
We need to design better studies. There is already a lot of evidence accumulating
that religion is somehow related to personal and public health, but
we’re still left with a number of questions about how and why it works (if it
indeed does positively affect health). We need more studies

In The Lancet professor Wolfgand Rutz describes the current public health
status in Europe in this way, “During this period of European transition,
societal stress and loss of social cohesion and spiritual values directly affect
patterns of morbidity and mortality“

Professor Jean-
Paul Vader claims that we need to address the spiritual dimension. In his
Editorial in the European Journal of Public Health 2006 Vader writes:
By ignoring the spiritual dimension of health, for whatever reason, we may
be depriving ourselves of the leverage we need to help empower individuals
and populations to achieve improved physical, social, and mental health. Indeed,
unless and until we do seriously address the question— however difficult
and uncomfortable it may be—substantial and sustainable improvements
in physical, social, and mental health, and reductions in the health gradient
within and between societies, may well continue to elude us

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3) Meaning and purpose. This need may be the most basic. It's hell to look at life and perceive it all as meaningless. In part, this need is cognitive and intellectual, for we need to make sense of life. But the need is deeper, more "existential." We may have rational answers to all the questions and problems, and still not be satisfied.
Once again, we're talking about a false "sense" of purpose, rather than an actual purpose.
And again, it's false for you. Someone may live or die for ideas (e.g. patriotism) which are meaningless and false to someone else.

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The secular alternative is to do what the vast majority of religious people do, and choose our own purpose--only, accept the truth that this is in fact what we are doing. 

This is goal (aim), not purpose (although purpose is a synonim of goal in the dictionary). The purpose that the Seattlepi article is talking about is more like "meaning of life" or "cause of life". In this sense, it would be impossible for human to set the cause of life themselves. According to religion, God set the purpose of life. And as the article says, humans need to know this *deeper* purpose. Need answer! And religion explains exactly this.

It's not a one time answer. Some people never feel need to question it. Some people think of it, doubts come, faith drops, they live with doubts or change religion, leave religion, settle life goals, see the meaningless of life, come back to church, stay, repeat. Some become atheist on the way. Religion gives a huge answer. It's old, it may have contradictions, but it resonates with many people's minds.

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4) Holiness. Holiness? Yes, in a moral sense we all need to feel that we are doing the right thing. If we don't, we live with guilt. We can either rationalize to try to justify our actions, or we can admit we were wrong and seek forgiveness.
Or we can...oh, I dunno, be moral people, instead of just cloaking ourselves in a "sense" of morality?  And when we do something wrong we can admit we were wrong, do our best to make up for what we've done, and seek forgiveness.

That's what religion teaches. Plus, it helps recognize what's right and what's wrong. While other systems, like state law, also tell you what's right and what's wrong, religion does it more attractively. But in a sense.. The state of holiness could be perhaps compared to the state of lawfullness.. I am not sure what she meant.

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In a spiritual sense we need reconciliation with the ultimate. Thus novelist Salman Rushdie confessed to having a "God-shaped void" in his life. Though we may try to fill that void with all kinds of things, only one can truly fill it.
The secular alternative to "reconciliation with the ultimate" is to do our best to develop the most accurate understanding we can of reality as it is, take joy in the merely real, and act within reality's parameters.
That's good rational life. Reconciliation with the ultimate is something else. But if you never felt the void she's talking about, it's hard to explain.

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We can have joy even in the midst of sorrow.
And this is sourced solely in religion, how?  Since Mr. Burres doesn't even make an argument that religion provides this, much less that only religion can do so, there's nothing for me to respond to here.
I also think that the joy she is talking about is not unique to religion. Religion can be the source of inner joy, meditation (and maybe some other techniques) also can. But meditation is difficult and is not for everybody. Drugs on the other hand are destructive and short term.

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Unfortunately, the worst religious violence is that waged by the religious groups themselves, under the authority of their most respected leaders, backed by the teachings of their religious scriptures and/or doctrines. 
Yes. So is secular violence.




Offline Monolight

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #76 on: February 14, 2013, 02:55:24 PM »
This is a false analogy, as the sense of security insurance companies (legitimate ones, anyway) provide is not false. If I do take a corner at 200 km/h and slide into a ditch, my insurance company will cover the expense of any resulting damages.
Even when we narrow the view to only the legitimate ones. This is what I had in mind: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/science/06tier.html?_r=0
We buy insurance not just for peace of mind or to protect ourselves financially, but because we share the ancient Greeks’ instinct for appeasing the gods.
The same study is also described here: http://www.insweb.com/news-features/why-we-buy.html


Offline sun_king

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #77 on: February 14, 2013, 03:07:08 PM »
This is a false analogy, as the sense of security insurance companies (legitimate ones, anyway) provide is not false. If I do take a corner at 200 km/h and slide into a ditch, my insurance company will cover the expense of any resulting damages.
Even when we narrow the view to only the legitimate ones. This is what I had in mind: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/science/06tier.html?_r=0
We buy insurance not just for peace of mind or to protect ourselves financially, but because we share the ancient Greeks’ instinct for appeasing the gods.
The same study is also described here: http://www.insweb.com/news-features/why-we-buy.html

Mono, I wouldn't have used this example. I would say the articles conclusions are more of personal opinion. I do not buy insurance to avoid a calamity, I do that to handle the aftermath should there be a calamity.

And you might want to read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_FallacyWiki, there may be several of these in your posts.

Offline Monolight

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #78 on: February 14, 2013, 03:20:31 PM »
How do we know that it helps? Because they say it does? What are they comparing it too?
I think you say that it's irrational to believe something just because millions say it's true, is that so?

If that's what you say, then think of millions of people voting for politicians during election. How many have thorough knowledge about their candidate? How many believe what they heard on TV (and you know and they know all this information was paid) or from friends? And election is important decision. Are they all completely irrational?

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To me it is like mommy kissing a little kids "boo boo" to make it feel better.
Father, actually.

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"God must have wanted another angel in heaven" does nothing for me.
This means that:
1. your friend is still alive, just somewhere else
2. your friend is safe with God
3. you will see him again
4. it's not your fault what happened
5. don't bother thinking "what if?" - it was God's will

The last one can be a torture for years.
Of course, there may be more.

Offline Monolight

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #79 on: February 14, 2013, 03:32:58 PM »
Mono, I wouldn't have used this example. I would say the articles conclusions are more of personal opinion. I do not buy insurance to avoid a calamity, I do that to handle the aftermath should there be a calamity.
Your conclusion is also more of a personal opinion.

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And you might want to read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_FallacyWiki, there may be several of these in your posts.
I've read this some time ago: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/. It's a very good page about the same, but apparently I am not smart enough to notice my own fallacies.

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #80 on: February 14, 2013, 03:51:53 PM »
How do we know that it helps? Because they say it does? What are they comparing it too?
I think you say that it's irrational to believe something just because millions say it's true, is that so?

If that's what you say, then think of millions of people voting for politicians during election. How many have thorough knowledge about their candidate? How many believe what they heard on TV (and you know and they know all this information was paid) or from friends? And election is important decision. Are they all completely irrational?

This day and age, we voters probably are irrational. Not completely, but our expectations don't match reality enough to be useful. Sadly, since I don't like shooting people, I can't figure out any way to fix it.

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To me it is like mommy kissing a little kids "boo boo" to make it feel better.
Father, actually.

I didn't raise my kids this way. I treated their injuries with compassion, but I didn't lie to them about the medicinal qualities of affection. I wanted my kids to be able to hack their arms off in a Utah canyon if they had to and walk miles for help, not sit around and wait for daddy to show up and kiss something.

I don't like the coping skills of the religious when they have to interject gods part in the incident/issue/whatever.  If you're already dealing with something that stinks, voluntarily farting adds nothing.

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"God must have wanted another angel in heaven" does nothing for me.
This means that:
1. your friend is still alive, just somewhere else
2. your friend is safe with God
3. you will see him again
4. it's not your fault what happened
5. don't bother thinking "what if?" - it was God's will

The last one can be a torture for years.
Of course, there may be more.

If christianity, as you understand it, is true, you're right, I'm up a particular kind of creek without a paddle.

But dead people are no longer alive. Be they Connecticut school kids or my father or me sometime in the next decade. If life had a way of filling me with fear, I might think otherwise, but I have seen no evidence of such things (popular opinion is not an inherent hallmark indicating truth) and don't expect to encounter any between now and when I kick the bucket. I'm not a sucker for ancient stories, nor recent ones in the case of the hundreds of versions we have gotten of christianity on this site. I've got better things to do that biblically structure my paranoia. I just eliminated the paranoia and it feels much better. And more truthful.

Monolight, you mentioned the lack of "spirituality" in secular life in another post above.

Some people think that means we are missing an essential ingredient. I don't buy it.

As a non-spiritual being who is otherwise human, all I am missing is the "woo", and I don't need "woo". I can't imagine what the addition of spirituality would do to me in any positive sense. I would feel like I was f**king with my own head for the express purpose of impressing others or something. It would do nothing for me, except make me doubt my own sanity.

What would "woo" add to my life? I am happy, friendly, well-adjusted socially, responsible, kind and lots of other pleasant things.  What I lack in perfection I make up for with a sense of humor and overall pleasantness. I cannot imagine what spirituality, religious or otherwise, would add. Or could add.

I can imagine what it would subtract, however. Wondering if my just stubbed toe was a sign from my spiritual guide, whether my dead car battery was a sign from the universe, wondering if the gas I smelled at a Batman movie meant that there was going to be a slaughter 25 years later: that is not an improvement. Paranoia does not suit me.

If someone wants to be spiritual, that's fine. I have no right to stop them. They have no right to force spirituality on me. I would prefer not be be judged as someone who is inferior because I don't prostrate myself to their specific ghost/crystal/god/star/pyramid of choice. Like all other squirrely beliefs, as soon as spirituality in any form becomes a mandate, I have to fight it. And people who think that my lack of spirituality is a negative need to keep their beliefs to themselves, just as the religious should do. Or I will become negative because of spirituality.

Edit: fixed quoting errors. Oops.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2013, 06:25:59 PM by ParkingPlaces »
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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #81 on: February 14, 2013, 04:51:02 PM »
I think you say that it's irrational to believe something just because millions say it's true, is that so?
Whether or not he says it, I certainly do.  Lots of other people believing something or do something doesn't mean that it's rational, much less sensible.  This is known as the fallacy of the majority.

Quote from: Monolight
If that's what you say, then think of millions of people voting for politicians during election. How many have thorough knowledge about their candidate? How many believe what they heard on TV (and you know and they know all this information was paid) or from friends? And election is important decision. Are they all completely irrational?
So what?  Let's say that every single one of those millions is irrational.  It doesn't affect my own choice for who to vote for.  In fact, this example makes a pretty strong case for pushing to help voters become properly informed about who to vote for.

I think I've come to a realization about the point you're trying to make.  Your argument, at heart, is that religious belief is necessary because if fills needs of the human psyche, and that there are no real alternatives to religious belief to fill those needs.  What this argument boils down to is that we shouldn't seek to change things because the old ways are good enough, and there's no point in discussing alternatives because there are none worth mentioning.  Well, with all due respect, I firmly disagree with that.  If we followed that approach from a technological standpoint, we'd never have progressed beyond basic hunting and gathering.  If we followed it from a cultural standpoint, we'd still be living in tribes, or in dictatorships.

I see no reason that we should have to accept that religion is necessary, simply because it's been around a long time.

Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #82 on: February 14, 2013, 07:38:45 PM »
This is a fancy way of saying that believers shouldn't worry about theology and should simply let the ones at the top figure everything out for them.  That type of top-down approach seldom works very well, and it never lasts, especially today.
It works effectively since (more than) 2K years and lasts until today. Perhaps it will change in the future, because religions evolve.

For example, Inquisitions, witch trials, pogroms, religious warfare, persecution of 'heresy', forcible conversions, threats of damnation, and so on.  Note that this is just from Christian religions - I've no doubt that other religions have their own vicious histories.

You know what's happened in cultures where those kinds of actions are no longer tolerated?  Religious tendencies have tended to falter and fade over time, and being non-religious has started to steadily gain ground.
But those vicious histories were long time ago - a few generations have passed and the main religions have not faded out. Secondly, if you are saying that the main reason for the existance and survival of religion is threat and force - how would you explain the spread of more quiet religions like Buddhism?
Why does the word of a god or its followers need evolution? The Bibles rules are now archaic and irrelevant,that is why followers now ignore most of them.....even the commandments of God are now ignored,why is that ? if the word of God is perfect why is it irrelevant in society as we see it compared to 2000,1000 even 100 years ago.

 Without the believer filling in the gaps as they see fit with SPAG there would be no gods......or as we see the militant versions of the Muslim religion we would still be back in the stone age,stoning women to death for what Christians see as normal behaviour(Adultery)
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Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #83 on: February 14, 2013, 07:42:17 PM »
Mono, I wouldn't have used this example. I would say the articles conclusions are more of personal opinion. I do not buy insurance to avoid a calamity, I do that to handle the aftermath should there be a calamity.
Your conclusion is also more of a personal opinion.

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And you might want to read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_FallacyWiki, there may be several of these in your posts.
I've read this some time ago: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/. It's a very good page about the same, but apparently I am not smart enough to notice my own fallacies.
Do religious people need insurance,or should they just pray? Insurance has nothing to do with a god,it has to do with rational people being prepared in case of a natural disaster
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Offline sun_king

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #84 on: February 14, 2013, 11:51:24 PM »
Mono, I wouldn't have used this example. I would say the articles conclusions are more of personal opinion. I do not buy insurance to avoid a calamity, I do that to handle the aftermath should there be a calamity.
Your conclusion is also more of a personal opinion.

Correction, that is a FACT. I know exactly why I am doing it. Hence the "I".

Your NY Times link has this statement "We buy insurance not just for peace of mind or to protect ourselves financially, but because we share the ancient Greeks’ instinct for appeasing the gods. "

THIS is an example for a personal opinion. The author included me (I am sure I can find several others who buy insurance that has more to do with being prepared)  in his conclusion and went on to make a theory. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasty_generalization, you are welcome.

We are going way off topic, the goalposts have been shifted a bit....


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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #85 on: February 15, 2013, 12:03:42 AM »
Even when we narrow the view to only the legitimate ones. This is what I had in mind: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/science/06tier.html?_r=0
We buy insurance not just for peace of mind or to protect ourselves financially, but because we share the ancient Greeks’ instinct for appeasing the gods.
The same study is also described here: http://www.insweb.com/news-features/why-we-buy.html

The linked article is about how some people buy travel insurance due to the mistaken belief that somehow having such insurance minimizes the chances for a disaster occurring during their trip. The example you gave of making turns at 200 km/h references auto insurance, a completely different situation. Setting aside the fact that auto insurance is required by law most places, I doubt that many people purchase car insurance because they believe it makes accidents less likely to happen. They do it so that the financial burden of any accidents will be assumed by the insurance company. Knowing that even a terrible wreck won't bankrupt you does provide a sense of security, I suppose, but certainly not a false sense.

It is interesting that you use this article to support your argument for religious beliefs when it's primary point seems to be that buying travel insurance in order to prevent accidents is irrational. Why, its almost like you are admitting that religion is nothing but an irrational waste of time, effort, and money. :o
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Offline Aspie

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Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
« Reply #86 on: February 15, 2013, 03:18:27 AM »
I like how the piece that kcrady covered above conveniently skates over every case of the inverse being true. What about when religion teaches people to despise their own natures such as in the case of self-hating gays? What about people who develop psychological issues and sexual dysfunction from being taught by religion to fear and hate their own sexuality? How about the fact that religion can be incredibly divisive leading people to hate and clash with members of opposing sects/religions, disown family members who deconvert, ostracize outsiders, and oppress vulnerable targets such as the LGBT crowd? What about when a believer's perceived meaning or purpose is at odds with what they really wanted to do with their lives or how they wished to enjoy it becoming a shackle they won't let go of for fear of being shunned or punished? What about believers who go into the faith in pursuit of holiness, but simply become burdened with guilt at the sense that it's forever out of their reach?

Of course when you're working from the entirely circular conclusion that there must be a primary need so many religious people are filling because so many people wouldn't be religious if there weren't a primary need to fill it can be easy to dismiss all the above as outliers who simply lack the spiritual craving and therefore receive no super special True Religionist Only benefits.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2013, 03:53:20 AM by Aspie »