Author Topic: A Right to Believe?  (Read 1495 times)

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Offline Strawman

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A Right to Believe?
« on: September 19, 2013, 09:53:04 PM »
I've started writing pseudo-essays on a few subjects, I don't know why but it feels good to formulate one's thoughts. My latest subject is relevant to this forum so I thought I'd post what I have so far and see what you guys make of it.
The crux of it is the question: "Do People Have an Inalienable Right to Believe What They Want?"
I will attempt to address what the nature of belief is, the personal consequences of belief, the societal consequences of respecting and/or promoting the beliefs of others. I've barely touched on most of that but I'm quite happy with what I have so far, so hopefully it's interesting.

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I am an atheist; I do not hold any personal beliefs. I have a modicum of knowledge and experience that serve to inform my powers of reasoning, but any and all paradigms I rely upon today are in a constant state of flux. There is no room for absolutes, I can never be certain of anything; nor can anyone else, no matter how sincerely or aggressively they state their views as “truth”.

Lacking absolute certainty does not diminish the value of knowledge, there are different levels of knowing that do not require absolute certainty to be useful; just as I do not require a perfect understanding of gravitational theory to know that objects tend to fall towards the Earth.
Admitting that we can never be certain of anything is the realisation that our views may possibly be wrong, in part or sometimes in full. This is why it is vital that any proposal be supported by a significant body of evidence before it is accepted as fact.

This is an inescapable reality, yet “believers” attempt to circumvent the requirement of evidence by claiming absolute certainty. If they were honest enough to admit even one-hundredth of a percent uncertainty, then they would admit the possibility that they could be wrong, and therefore to justify their beliefs they would require the support of evidence, of which they have none. This is why believers are told that doubting or questioning one's faith is sinful, because religious leaders realise how fragile the illusion of faith really is.
If God exists at all he clearly wishes to reside exclusively in the imagination.

Offline Traveler

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2013, 10:43:11 PM »
...This is why believers are told that doubting or questioning one's faith is sinful, because religious leaders realise how fragile the illusion of faith really is.

I was right there with you until this last line. Ascribing a "why" to others is a risky proposition, and gives them a chance to slip in with "no, that's not why ..." and then your message gets lost in noise.

Other than that, very well said.  :)
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Offline William

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2013, 10:53:10 PM »
"Do People Have an Inalienable Right to Believe What They Want?"

It's complex - but I'm saying no - belief is not an inalienable right.

A lot of beliefs are harmless - for example kids believing in the easter bunny or Santa. No real problem there.

Where it get's complicated is where the beliefs inevitably lead to harmful actions, inaction, and prejudice.  For example:
  • 72 virgins for a martyr
  • Vaccinations are an evil conspiracy
  • My race is superior
  • It's okay to arrange a marriage for my 9 year old daughter  :o
  • Homosexuals should be cured
  • God will take care of global warming

Some beliefs need to be expunged - not tolerated by society.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2013, 12:02:33 AM by William »
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Online Azdgari

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2013, 12:09:46 AM »
Thoughtcrime is a dangerously slippery slope, William.
The highest moral human authority is copied by our Gandhi neurons through observation.

Offline William

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2013, 12:53:33 AM »
Thoughtcrime is a dangerously slippery slope, William.

I'm not talking about criminalisation.
I'm talking about social sanctions.  Like the outrage that should be directed at anyone who farts in an elevator.
In my view we're far to polite in public about ridiculous beliefs. Religious tolerance and tax breaks are encouraging and incentivising stupidity!

Sensible laws can certainly help - without going down the "crime" route.
Claims about the power of prayer and "healings" should be subject to Consumer Protection laws - truth in advertising, refunds etc
Here in Australia, New South Wales we've now got regulations that "exclude unvaccinated children from state-run child care facilities".
http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2013/s3769940.htm

 
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Offline Mrjason

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2013, 04:26:35 AM »
You have to respect the fact that people believe in something but you don't have to respect what they believe

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2013, 05:08:17 AM »
Thoughtcrime is a dangerously slippery slope, William.

I'm not talking about criminalisation.
I'm talking about social sanctions.  Like the outrage that should be directed at anyone who farts in an elevator....

But that's not a belief - that's an action on a belief. 

I sort of want to be on your side - there are thoughts and beliefs I find repugnant, that I wish people did not have.  My concern is that we are saying "you do not have a right to believe what you want - you must believe what I believe", which is exactly what we get grumpy about Christians saying to us.

Everyone has a right to believe what they want.  They have no automatic right to be able to act on their beliefs, nor do they have a right not to be ridiculed or ostracised for their beliefs, even if those beliefs are not acted on.

But to refuse someone the right to hold a belief?  That I can't get behind.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline hickdive

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2013, 05:40:44 AM »
The right to believe as you wish is an essential human right. However, that right does not extend to inflicting or enforcing your beliefs on others nor does the right to believe make your beliefs right.
Stupidity, unlike intelligence, has no limits.

Offline William

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2013, 07:37:51 AM »
Everyone has a right to believe what they want. 
Okay yes I accept that - and I narrowly modify my stated position - see next.

They have no automatic right to be able to act on their beliefs,
Under the concept of "act", would you include indoctrinating children, refusing to take specific actions on behalf of their children, and taking advantage of vulnerable people to evangelise and convert them?  I do.  That's why I like the example of the vaccination laws I linked above.  The minute it becomes apparent to the child care organisation the parents have refused (or neglected) to vaccinate their kids they get referred for counselling.

Is this just belief or is it action? :



... nor do they have a right not to be ridiculed or ostracised for their beliefs, even if those beliefs are not acted on.
Yep, that's exactly the way it should be.
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Offline Nam

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2013, 07:49:36 AM »
The picture is an "action" resulted by a "belief". Believing you can rightfully do that to a child is not the same as actually doing that to a child.

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline Strawman

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2013, 09:22:59 AM »
Quote
Thoughtcrime is a dangerously slippery slope, William.
Belief and thought are very different. That's really the main meat of this, I just haven't gotten that far yet.

...This is why believers are told that doubting or questioning one's faith is sinful, because religious leaders realise how fragile the illusion of faith really is.

I was right there with you until this last line. Ascribing a "why" to others is a risky proposition, and gives them a chance to slip in with "no, that's not why ..." and then your message gets lost in noise.

Other than that, very well said.  :)
I agree. I'll try to avoid putting words in their mouths.
If God exists at all he clearly wishes to reside exclusively in the imagination.

Offline Traveler

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2013, 10:10:41 AM »
What the hell is that woman doing to that child???  >:(
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2013, 10:31:54 AM »
You can hold some ideas right up until the moment you, or someone else, decide to put them into operation (see KKK, the holocaust, Pol Pot, Jim Jones, etc.)

In the UK, the test for being locked up in a secure institution is “Are you a danger to yourself or others?”

When considering, "Do People Have an Inalienable Right to Believe What They Want?" The upshot of this is therefore, “Yes, as long as nobody gets hurt.”

Unfortunately, it is often not clear when harm starts and, by the time it is clearly seen, the stable door is swinging wide and the horse has bolted.

The question is perhaps clearest when some fundamentalist sect decides that medicine is “of Satan” and only prayer should be used to cure the diabetic child. I feel that, at this stage, all members should be required to sign a document in which they undertake to supply orthodox medical services to all members under 21 and any members who are of low intellect. Failure to do this or failure to comply would result in incarceration and re-education and release only when they have been cured of the delusion.

This may seem harsh but such a belief is criminal negligence waiting for an opportunity to do harm and is no different from wiring your door-knocker to the mains supply and saying, “I’ve rigged it so that someday that switch will turn on and then a random person will be killed.”

Of course, that example is pretty clear; it is the line that is difficult to see.

The other, harsher, view is that people who put out stupid ideas should be banned from publicising them. Fortunately, those who believe that UFOs abduct people are highly unlikely to ever reach a position of real power – so it’s perhaps best to let them get on with it and they define themselves as lunatics and thus restrict their own access to the gene pool.
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline neopagan

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2013, 10:38:53 AM »
What the hell is that woman doing to that child???  >:(

Making him/her a true believer in Islam.  Similar pics could have Jews circumcizing boy babies, Christians pouring feces-infested water from a baptismal font over a head, and atheists roasting babies...  :o
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Offline screwtape

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Links:
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What's true is already so. Owning up to it does not make it worse.

Offline Hatter23

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #15 on: September 20, 2013, 11:25:09 AM »
I am an atheist; I do not hold any personal beliefs. I have a modicum of knowledge and experience that serve to inform my powers of reasoning, but any and all paradigms I rely upon today are in a constant state of flux. There is no room for absolutes, I can never be certain of anything; nor can anyone else, no matter how sincerely or aggressively they state their views as “truth”.

Ahem, horseshit. My evidence? The rest of the paragraph.

perhaps you should word it;

I am an atheist; I do not hold any personal metaphysical beliefs.

Because it is clear you do have beliefs, one being "Evidence is held in higher regard than hearsay" for instance.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2013, 11:53:31 AM by Hatter23 »
An Omnipowerful God needed to sacrifice himself to himself (but only for a long weekend) in order to avert his own wrath against his own creations who he made in a manner knowing that they weren't going to live up to his standards.

And you should feel guilty for this. Give me money.

Offline Traveler

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #16 on: September 20, 2013, 11:43:58 AM »
Thanks screwtape. I hadn't heard of that ritual. And, Neo, I think routine infant circumcision is one of the greatest of the current religious crimes in America's so-called civilized society. Germany has outlawed it. The more I learn about it, the more horrified I am that its become common practice. I think I'll go take a nap ... I'm getting too worked up about religious harm in the world. ARG!!!!  :(
If we ever travel thousands of light years to a planet inhabited by intelligent life, let's just make patterns in their crops and leave.

Offline Hatter23

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2013, 01:03:13 PM »
What the hell is that woman doing to that child???  >:(

Making him/her a true believer in Islam.  Similar pics could have Jews circumcizing boy babies, Christians pouring feces-infested water from a baptismal font over a head, and atheists roasting babies...  :o

Tar Tar is my preference.

An Omnipowerful God needed to sacrifice himself to himself (but only for a long weekend) in order to avert his own wrath against his own creations who he made in a manner knowing that they weren't going to live up to his standards.

And you should feel guilty for this. Give me money.

Offline Nam

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2013, 11:34:02 PM »
Thanks screwtape. I hadn't heard of that ritual. And, Neo, I think routine infant circumcision is one of the greatest of the current religious crimes in America's so-called civilized society. Germany has outlawed it. The more I learn about it, the more horrified I am that its become common practice. I think I'll go take a nap ... I'm getting too worked up about religious harm in the world. ARG!!!!  :(

From my understanding, the US didn't start widespread circumcision until the late 19th cent. and it didn't happen excessively until the 1980's.

In the beginning (19th cent.) it was a varying of things; disease prevention; a way to profit off people; and religious viewpoints on preventing adolescent boys from masturbating.

Today, I think those three reasons are on the back burner; I think it's more to do with a society norm (for the US) than anything.

My father and brother are both circumcised. I am not. The doctor in the US Army, when my father was in the Army said to my parents (in Germany) that it was unnecessary. So, I wasn't circumcised.

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline Traveler

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2013, 11:38:30 PM »
You're a lucky man, Nam.  :)

Yeah, the "reason" I hear most often in this country is so the boy will "look like his father." Arg!!!
If we ever travel thousands of light years to a planet inhabited by intelligent life, let's just make patterns in their crops and leave.

Offline Nam

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #20 on: September 20, 2013, 11:42:06 PM »
You're a lucky man, Nam.  :)

Yeah, the "reason" I hear most often in this country is so the boy will "look like his father." Arg!!!

I actually thought, seriously, about getting circumcised when I was in my late teens, early 20's but then I told myself, "Fuck it." Then I thought, "...or her."[1] and that was the end of that.

-Nam
 1. true
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline Traveler

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #21 on: September 21, 2013, 01:45:30 AM »
You're a lucky man, Nam.  :)

Yeah, the "reason" I hear most often in this country is so the boy will "look like his father." Arg!!!

I actually thought, seriously, about getting circumcised when I was in my late teens, early 20's but then I told myself, "Fuck it." Then I thought, "...or her."[1] and that was the end of that.

-Nam
 1. true

LOL! There's quite a bit of evidence that sex is better both for men and their partners if the man is intact. Someday perhaps I'll have a basis for comparison.  ;D
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Offline Angus and Alexis

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #22 on: September 22, 2013, 09:29:40 AM »
As free will goes, believe in what you want to believe.
But push it on someone else? That's the line, that is where you are no longer believing, and instead are brain washing.
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Offline neopagan

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #23 on: September 22, 2013, 06:47:53 PM »
will Nam be starting a "Cut or uncut?"... umm, pole here soon?  :)
If xian hell really exists, the stench of the burning billions of us should be a constant, putrid reminder to the handful of heavenward xians how loving your god is.  - neopagan

Offline Nam

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #24 on: September 23, 2013, 02:12:11 AM »
will Nam be starting a "Cut or uncut?"... umm, pole here soon?  :)

Pole? Pole yourself. ;)

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline Anfauglir

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #25 on: September 23, 2013, 03:30:31 AM »
They have no automatic right to be able to act on their beliefs,
Under the concept of "act", would you include indoctrinating children, refusing to take specific actions on behalf of their children, and taking advantage of vulnerable people to evangelise and convert them? 

Yup.  Soon as your beliefs leave the confines of your head and start impacting on the world, thats an act.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline jdawg70

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #26 on: September 23, 2013, 11:43:39 AM »
Yup.  Soon as your beliefs leave the confines of your head and start impacting on the world, thats an act.
But is there really a clear delineation of a belief remaining in the confines of one's noggin' and when said belief has an appreciable impact on the external world?

Any effect I have on the external world (be it through direct physical action, communication of information, or whatever other means of affecting external reality I have available to me) is the result of some amalgamation or integration of bits and pieces of beliefs that I have.  Or, to put it another way, any belief that I have is subject to being incorporated into any decision and action that I take.
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: A Right to Believe?
« Reply #27 on: September 23, 2013, 11:51:39 AM »
Any effect I have on the external world (be it through direct physical action, communication of information, or whatever other means of affecting external reality I have available to me) is the result of some amalgamation or integration of bits and pieces of beliefs that I have.  Or, to put it another way, any belief that I have is subject to being incorporated into any decision and action that I take.

The question, of course, is how we tell what belief/s are influencing your actions.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?