Author Topic: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)  (Read 7246 times)

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Offline cruguru

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #29 on: December 05, 2008, 09:45:35 AM »
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I'd like to see that work actually has been done beyond maintenance that has lead to new knowledge that is shareable across groups of religious professionals.

But you expect it to not exist and everything I've presented to you, you've redefined or dismissed.  When I presented new ideas, you wanted 'best practices'.  When I offered best practices, you commented that 'those don't seem very new'.  But I'll keep trying. 

I mean, I don't want you to think that I'm some kind of crusader out to defend the institutional church or organized religion (I'm working on a plan with our neighboring church to bulldoze our building and build mixed income housing).  It's just that in my experience, the negative perception of the church and what it does and stands for isn't that accurate.  To understand my preception of Christianity and why I am confident of the future of faith (if not the future of organized religion), check out these two links.  One is a trailer for a movie, the other is a conversation with the woman who directed the movie.

http://theordinaryradicals.com/
http://relevantmagazine.com/god_article.php?id=7567

This is just what's going on in the US and within the Christian faith.  There are people of faith around the world that are doing really great things.  But before you say so, no it's not that innovative.  It's what the church should have been doing all along...

For what it's worth, I'm sorry that your major encounters with people of faith have left you with a bitter taste in your mouth.  I don't think you're going to hell, but since you don't really believe in it anyway (and neither do I), it's a moot point.  I suspect you've gotten a lot of the 'if you just believe in Jesus, your soul will be saved' malarky, which just proves that something doesn't have to be accurate to be held up as truth.  Just know that not everybody who claims to believe in G-d thinks that way.

Offline Hermes

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #30 on: December 05, 2008, 10:16:57 AM »
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I'd like to see that work actually has been done beyond maintenance that has lead to new knowledge that is shareable across groups of religious professionals.

But you expect it to not exist and everything I've presented to you, you've redefined or dismissed.  When I presented new ideas, you wanted 'best practices'.  When I offered best practices, you commented that 'those don't seem very new'.  But I'll keep trying. 

My expectations have no bearing on reality.  I can't wish my thoughts into reality if reality isn't cooperating.  That's why I say show me -- to this or any other proposition I'm not convinced of. 

Beyond becoming credulous about every idea anyone has ever had, I can't be more open minded.

Secondly, I was explicit in my OP.  I'm looking for new knowledge.  When I mentioned practices I was widening the field not narrowing it.  When I changed the time span from the last 50 years to the last 100 years I was being more flexible not less.

For example, ask a project manager if they have studied the PMBOK.  I have, and I've talked to folks who contributed to that document.  It has a date on it.  It gets revised.  It gets used.  People discuss it.  (PMBOK = Project Management Body of Knowledge.)

What is comparable for religious professionals?

This is just what's going on in the US and within the Christian faith.  There are people of faith around the world that are doing really great things.  But before you say so, no it's not that innovative.  It's what the church should have been doing all along...

If you find something, let me know.

For what it's worth, I'm sorry that your major encounters with people of faith have left you with a bitter taste in your mouth.  I don't think you're going to hell, but since you don't really believe in it anyway (and neither do I), it's a moot point.  I suspect you've gotten a lot of the 'if you just believe in Jesus, your soul will be saved' malarky, which just proves that something doesn't have to be accurate to be held up as truth.  Just know that not everybody who claims to believe in G-d thinks that way.

Off topic.  I'm not interested in explanations of my own psyche, the psyche of others, dogmas, or blanket excuses.  I want to know what people do.  It's what they do -- and fail to do -- that leads me here and nothing more.
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline cruguru

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #31 on: December 05, 2008, 11:19:51 AM »
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My expectations have no bearing on reality.  I can't wish my thoughts into reality if reality isn't cooperating.  That's why I say show me -- to this or any other proposition I'm not convinced of.

Your expectations may not directly change the physical, but they define your perception of reality.  So if you expect evidence to be unconvincing, you will most likely perceive it to be unconvincing. (I would argue that the statement "my expectations have no bearing on reality" is a rehash of the old idea of dualism; That there is 'reality', where your body resides, and there is some other place that your consciousness resides that has no connection to 'reality'.)

What's the PMBOK for religious professionals?  For the Methodist Church, there's the Book of Discipline, which gets revised every four years.  Ordained pastors have to be at least passingly familiar with it.

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It's what they do -- and fail to do -- that leads me here and nothing more.

I think I'm going to send this quote to my friends at church because it underscores why the church has been such an abysmal failure lately.  It's always what we do, not what we say.

And that's part of why I don't buy this irrational hatred of organized religion.  I've seen the televangelists, the Benny Hinns and Jerry Falwells, and I know they're full of s**t.  They are doing terrible things and we're worse of, humanity as a whole, for their idiocy. 

But I also know that they're not the only kind of christian out there.  This spring I had the pleasure of talking to a nun who had spent the last forty years of her life as a missionary in South America.  She's done a lot of great work, most recently building a program that serves street children in Bolivia.  Before she started the program in Bolivia, she lived in a small village near Peru.  She told us that one day, she saw a funeral procession for a young child and decided to find out what happened.  This, at the time, 70 year old woman walked almost 10k back to where the procession had come from and found out that there was a man who's family was slowly dying from some sort of infection.  The nun offered to help the man, but the local shaman convinced him that his family was beyond help.  So he told the nun to go home.  She did, but came back again the next day.  And again the next day.  Finally, the man said she could help.  So she gave the family penicillin and they got better.

My goal is for there to be more people in the world like that old nun, who are willing to walk a lot to help people.  I don't care what they believe, because when you're compassionate and caring, you believe the same thing I do.  Besides, it's not what people believe, it's what they do that matters, right?

Offline Atheist_Convert

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #32 on: December 05, 2008, 11:35:34 AM »
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Besides, it's not what people believe, it's what they do that matters, right?

Yes. And when they try to force magical superstition into the science classroom, someone has to stop them.

And when they slaughter and terrorize others in the name of their god, someone has to stop them.

Stopping these things physically is just a bandaid. To heal our society, there has to be long term education so that even children don't fall for this nonsense. One day calling on the name of Allah or Yahweh or Jesus will be seen as silly as calling on the name of Zeus or Ra or Huitzilopochtli. Then the impetus behind 99% of the wars will be gone and man can maybe live in peace.

Compassion for others would be relieving them of their supertitions, not promoting them.

Offline cruguru

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #33 on: December 05, 2008, 01:51:29 PM »
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Yes. And when they try to force magical superstition into the science classroom, someone has to stop them.

Absolutely.  Religion has no place in the science classroom (unless you're discussing how the brain makes religious thought possible, but I doubt that's going on in most high schools).  I also think schools should require courses in logic and philosophy, but that's just me.

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And when they slaughter and terrorize others in the name of their god, someone has to stop them.

Agreed.  I would even go so far as to say people need to be stopped when they try to slaughter and terrorize for any reason, not just if they do it in G-d's name.  How awesome would it have been if there had been a coalition people who met at the airports before the invasion of Iraq and refused to let the soldiers board those planes?

As to the rest of your comments, I think you'd have a hard time trying to come to consensus about what's nonsense.  I think that children should be taught how to think independently and then allowed to come to there own conclusions, but how do I know that that is a sensible idea?  Or that even caring about it is sensible?  Maybe it's all just happening and my thoughts about what I 'want' are inconsequential.

And you really think people wouldn't fight if religion was gone?  I mean, what wars in the past 100 years have been fought for mainly religious reasons?  Compare that to which ones have been fought for geo-political reasons that cover everything from land to ideology.

Offline Atheist_Convert

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #34 on: December 05, 2008, 02:02:43 PM »
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How awesome would it have been if there had been a coalition people who met at the airports before the invasion of Iraq and refused to let the soldiers board those planes?

Yes, and how awesome would it have been if there had been some rational thinkers available to stop the Catholic Church from slaugtering hundreds of thousands during the inquisition, or to have stopped the Christian Crusaders, or the nut job Muslims on 9/11 or the wholesale ongoing slaughter on both sides in Jerusalem or Hitler's hatred of Judaism and Homosexuals or the current Theocracy of Iran or Self Deificaction of Kim Jong Il in N. Korea or stop the starvation in India brought about through veneration of animals and the Caste system that is all part of Hinduism or the bombing of abortion clinics or the halting of medical research or the refusal of condom or needle programs. One could go on and on about the evils of religion.

Rational thought sees all people as the same race with the same needs and the same goals. ALL religions promote an "Us vs. Them" mentality.

Offline cruguru

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #35 on: December 05, 2008, 02:28:24 PM »
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One could go on and on about the evils of religion.

You could also talk about all the good that religion has done (universities, algebra, liberation of India from British rule...) and it would be just as pointless.  People from all sorts of belief systems have done good and bad things.  I think your ire would be better directed at humanity, not the constructs we build. 

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Rational thought sees all people as the same race with the same needs and the same goals. ALL religions promote an "Us vs. Them" mentality.

Not only is this statement inaccurate, it also creates an 'Us vs them' paradigm.  (if I told you I thought that that was funny, would you find that offensive or join me in seeing the comical irony?)

Offline velkyn

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #36 on: December 05, 2008, 02:45:29 PM »
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One could go on and on about the evils of religion.

You could also talk about all the good that religion has done (universities, algebra, liberation of India from British rule...) and it would be just as pointless.  People from all sorts of belief systems have done good and bad things.  I think your ire would be better directed at humanity, not the constructs we build. 

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Rational thought sees all people as the same race with the same needs and the same goals. ALL religions promote an "Us vs. Them" mentality.

Not only is this statement inaccurate, it also creates an 'Us vs them' paradigm.  (if I told you I thought that that was funny, would you find that offensive or join me in seeing the comical irony?)

Algebra?  How does religion figure into algebra? 

Can you show that relgions do not automatically creat an us vs. them mentality?  All religions consider the "us" those who know the "truth" and the "them" as those who do not. 

If people should be stopped from doing bad things in God's name, why doesn't God stop them as he used to? 
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Offline Hermes

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #37 on: December 05, 2008, 02:52:53 PM »
What's the PMBOK for religious professionals?  For the Methodist Church, there's the Book of Discipline, which gets revised every four years.  Ordained pastors have to be at least passingly familiar with it.

Glad to hear it.  Do they share that or get that from other religious groups, or is it proprietary?

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It's what they do -- and fail to do -- that leads me here and nothing more.

I think I'm going to send this quote to my friends at church because it underscores why the church has been such an abysmal failure lately.  It's always what we do, not what we say.

Better yet, send them the block I'll post at the tail end of this message...

And that's part of why I don't buy this irrational hatred of organized religion.

Where's the hate?  Fear and frustration, political necessities (due to aggressive Christians), a refusal to let others dominate the conversation, yes, but seriously ... where is the hate?

I see plenty of hate and bigotry and ignorance from Christian leaders as well as the rank and file, yet from the atheists?  Where?  The closest it gets is a 'fuc# off' when the Christian has already said something beyond the pale.



Below is a statement and a question that I've been posting to many Christians.  Some come up with moral answers, though many instead repeat the problems that I am asking them to combat ... and they act as if they are doing a good thing by spreading ignorance, hate, bigotry, pain, and death.





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I have noticed, as you may have as well, that there are Christians that do things in the name of Christianity that are negative.  Christians that promote bigotry and ignorance.  Christians that advocate actions that lead to harm and even death.  Christians that advocate not caring about this world and who want it to be destroyed in a polluted and fiery apocalypse.

If there were enough Christians that effectively dealt with those problems, I would not have any concerns.  Believe as you want.  As far as I would be concerned, the real world problems would be solved.

Unfortunately, that is not the world we are in.  Most Christians aren't doing nearly enough.   Many unfortunately are actively promoting these negative goals -- from paying money passively to going out and doing these negative actions themselves.  Some of the strongest advocates for those negative actions are the leaders and congregants of the larger Christian churches and organizations; this is not a problem with a few fringe groups or eccentric cult leaders.

Too many Christians not only do not take responsibility, they are leading the charge for these negative actions.  They justify bigotry and ignorance, they justify actions that result in the deaths of others that could be easily avoided.

As a responsible person, someone who cares about the world and the future of humanity, I have to act.  Even if it is not my fault that these Christians are doing harm, it is my responsibility to do something positive.  You can consider it a moral obligation.  If that means that I have to hold up a mirror so that my fellow humans look at what they believe, then I'll take that modest step.  Maybe that will be enough to drain the air out of some of those bad ideas?

My question to you is not what you believe, but what are you doing about the acts your fellow Christians perform in the name of Christianity that spread hate, bigotry, ignorance, pain, and death?
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline cruguru

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #38 on: December 05, 2008, 03:26:14 PM »
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Algebra?  How does religion figure into algebra?


Algebra was codified by an Islamic Persian mathematician during the height of the Persian empire.  Algebra is an Arabic word and algorithm is actually derived from that mathematician's name.

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Can you show that religions do not automatically create an us vs. them mentality?  All religions consider the "us" those who know the "truth" and the "them" as those who do not.

I can't demonstrate that religions don't create an us/them mentality, but I don't really need to.  The statement was 'ALL religions create an us vs. them mentality', so a single counter example, like the Unitarian universalists, should prove that it is an inaccurate statement.  I think if you wanted to say 'many religions...' I would agree with that.  But I think it would be more accurate to say that many human institutions create an 'us vs. them' mentality, religious and non-religious alike (although I've seen very few football related crusades...)

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If people should be stopped from doing bad things in God's name, why doesn't God stop them as he used to?

Good question.  I think if more people believed that the 'Hand of G-d' was going to literally come down and sweep the the unclean off the face of the earth, they'd be a lot less inclined to do it themselves.  But for a long time, people have prayed to gods for things and then gone out and done those things themselves.  Maybe people need more faith?

Offline cruguru

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #39 on: December 05, 2008, 03:52:24 PM »
Herms,
Thanks for that post.  I think your perception of Christians is spot on, much as I wish it was not the case.  I will definitely pass this on to folks that I know because I think the church needs to get its s**t together NOW.  I think there are a lot of good Christians who are willing to do the hard work of making society better...as long as they don't have to confront other Christians who are jerks and down-right dangerous.  I think your words will help those folks (and myself) understand why challenging the old guard is just as important as going down to the soup kitchen.

Slight tangent, are you familiar with ethical culture society?

Offline Hermes

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #40 on: December 05, 2008, 09:17:10 PM »
Brain is fried.  Ask in a couple days.
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline velkyn

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #41 on: December 08, 2008, 11:45:40 AM »
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Algebra?  How does religion figure into algebra?

Algebra was codified by an Islamic Persian mathematician during the height of the Persian empire.  Algebra is an Arabic word and algorithm is actually derived from that mathematician's name.
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Can you show that religions do not automatically create an us vs. them mentality?  All religions consider the "us" those who know the "truth" and the "them" as those who do not.
I can't demonstrate that religions don't create an us/them mentality, but I don't really need to.  The statement was 'ALL religions create an us vs. them mentality', so a single counter example, like the Unitarian universalists, should prove that it is an inaccurate statement.  I think if you wanted to say 'many religions...' I would agree with that.  But I think it would be more accurate to say that many human institutions create an 'us vs. them' mentality, religious and non-religious alike (although I've seen very few football related crusades...)
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If people should be stopped from doing bad things in God's name, why doesn't God stop them as he used to?
Good question.  I think if more people believed that the 'Hand of G-d' was going to literally come down and sweep the the unclean off the face of the earth, they'd be a lot less inclined to do it themselves.  But for a long time, people have prayed to gods for things and then gone out and done those things themselves.  Maybe people need more faith?

heh, you should be in Philadelphia to see a football-related crusade  :)

I agree with you, I should have said "most" or "many".  All is a dangerous word. 

I do know about algebra, but I was wondering how the religion had anything to do with it.  It's like saying that geometry was from the Greek pantheistic relgion which doesn't quite seem right to me. 

I don't think people need more faith to have God actually do anything.  An omni-everything being shouldn't be so childish to "withold" its abilities since it at one point didn't have a problem at all.  If people are to do what God supposedly did, it stands to reason that people have always did it and God is just a figment of the imagination. 
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Offline rigabear5

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #42 on: December 08, 2008, 03:59:57 PM »
Define what you mean by: 'religious professionals'
Define what you mean by: 'Knowledge'

I am fairly certain that not all scientists are atheist. It is taught in Catholic (!) schools over here in England that Science and Religion mix; people who are religious do not have to believe that the world was created 6000 years ago and all that nonsense about God. I'm under the impression that it is the same in the public schools of America. Note; Einstein believed in God. He had faith. Whether or not that counts as 'religious, I don't know.

And other realms of knowledge; for example art and such... religious people have furthered culture in the last 100 years. For example, I think it is metalica (or some other heavy metal band) whose lead singer is a devout christian; despite this they have introduced what could be considered by some as 'cultural knowledge'.

Hmm... overall, I am perplexed by your question; it seems you have a very limited view of religious professionals. It is possible to be rational, intelligent, etc and be religious. I'd go so far as to say that the majority of religious people are. Although, if you want hard numbers I'm at a loss... but then do you have hard numbers that prove otherwise? A silly argument perhaps, but considering you are such an advocate for 'proof', I'd like to see what proof you have (I feel like I am signing my own death warrant... nevertheless, I'll forge on  :)).
I can keep digging around for you to get more answers, but I get the impression that you just want me to roll over and admit that your vague assertion is absolutely correct.
I agree with this sentiment.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2008, 04:37:00 PM by rigabear5 »

Offline Hermes

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #43 on: December 08, 2008, 07:57:08 PM »
Define what you mean by: 'religious professionals'

Broadly defined; a professional that is in a religious field

The words mean what they mean; this is not a trick.  It's a question.

Define what you mean by: 'Knowledge'

Knowledge.

I am fairly certain that not all scientists are atheist.

Actually, there are quite a few current famous and competent scientists that are theists.  That's not in dispute.

Yet, I did not mention scientists *at all* except in reply to others who brought them up ... and to point out that this question does not require or even include scientists ... and that was intentional.

You can verify that easily by looking back at my previous posts and looking yourself.

In the future, please blame me for what I actually do not what you suppose I did.

It is taught in Catholic (!) schools over here in England that Science and Religion mix; people who are religious do not have to believe that the world was created 6000 years ago and all that nonsense about God. I'm under the impression that it is the same in the public schools of America. Note; Einstein believed in God. He had faith. Whether or not that counts as 'religious, I don't know.

Nit: Check your facts on Einstein.  You've either misunderstood or have been mislead.  He was explicit in his private letters and public books.

Yet, once again, science is not addressed in the question this thread focuses on.  Please stay on topic.

And other realms of knowledge; for example art and such... religious people have furthered culture in the last 100 years. For example, I think it is metalica (or some other heavy metal band) whose lead singer is a devout christian; despite this they have introduced what could be considered by some as 'cultural knowledge'.

Bit of a stretch, don't you think?

You've got 100 years.  What religious professionals have contributed generally to the knowledge of other religious professionals?

I ask that in the same spirit that I gave my examples in my original post;

Every year, in almost any discipline, there is an expectation of new knowledge and progress.  Change is expected and encouraged.

In business there are think tanks and professional groups that develop new methods of managing projects and people.  Accountants work on new methods of improving their fields.  Even plumbers have innovations in tools and practices that change that field every year.

All of this work -- and the work of countless other disciplined professionals from white and blue collar disciplines -- are expected from those who work in those fields as well as those who benefit from the work of those fields.  As time marches on, the consensus of what is the best way to do things changes ... but it is a consensus.

Yet, I see no innovations from the theologians or other religious professionals.  No new knowledge.  No new practices.  The only consensus is based on dogmas of a specific sect -- dogmas that don't span from a Baptist to a Buddhist, a Hindu living deity to an Imam.
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline Hermes

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #44 on: December 08, 2008, 08:28:30 PM »
Thanks for that post.  I think your perception of Christians is spot on, much as I wish it was not the case.  I will definitely pass this on to folks that I know because I think the church needs to get its s**t together NOW.  I think there are a lot of good Christians who are willing to do the hard work of making society better...as long as they don't have to confront other Christians who are jerks and down-right dangerous.  I think your words will help those folks (and myself) understand why challenging the old guard is just as important as going down to the soup kitchen.

I am glad if it motivates people to do good. 

On a serious note, while I am not religious, I'm hopeful in the same way that Sam Harris and Danniel Dennett are about religion and somewhat like Joseph Campbell was; that there is something that could flower from it. 

At this point, my limited list only shows that meditation can be spun from it as some branches of philosophy were in the past.  I do not see Christianity currently as a net positive, yet I do not see it or other religions beyond correction.  The Tibetan Buddhist monks are making an effort with the meditation brain studies, yet it is a very isolated instance of progress and they are still retrogressive in some respects.  IMNSHO of course.   ;)

Slight tangent, are you familiar with ethical culture society?

Sounds familiar, but I'll have to say no for now.
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline rigabear5

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #45 on: December 09, 2008, 01:59:15 AM »
I apologize for my earlier misconceptions. It seems I misunderstood the question... nonetheless, I will be back  ;)

Offline Hermes

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #46 on: December 09, 2008, 01:53:11 PM »
I apologize for my earlier misconceptions. It seems I misunderstood the question... nonetheless, I will be back  ;)

Glad to hear it!
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline rigabear5

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #47 on: December 09, 2008, 05:32:07 PM »
I'm not sure that asking for knowledge that 'leads to a consensus among all or even most religious scholars?' is a fair question. I'd liken the field to say, philosophy. While new knowledge is constantly being produced, you are never going to reach a consensus amongst most philosophers. Of course in the case of plumbing and business (both of which could be considered a science of sorts). Cruguru has pointed out some new knowledge produced by religious scholars. There are no 'best practices' for philosophy; or at least none in the last 100 years (as far as I know... my knowledge of the field of philosophy is limited). For theology, there is nothing as clear (I say this in the loosest sense of the term) and quantifiable as a market with which to forge best practices. There are no recessions, trends (not in the last 100 years) etc to make theologians go; 'whoops, we were completely wrong' and the fact that religion is so old and ingrained in society does not help. Business and theology seem to be very different things (I don't mean in the literal sense or in terms of content; obviously). 

If you mean 'relevant' knowledge, then again I point to cruguru's reasoning; you have assumed that God does not exist, therefore the study of God is not going to produce much of consequence. I'm not getting into whether God exists or not, I'm just saying that assuming that God does not exist and answering responses with this is mind makes this question even more unfair and impossible to answer.

Eh, all I can provide is my opinion; I'm open to persuasion and refutation.

Christianity currently as a net positive
Slightly OT, but is there a thread or somewhere that this is discussed? This outlook has always confounded me  :-[

Offline Deus ex Machina

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #48 on: December 09, 2008, 05:39:41 PM »
On what grounds do you assert that they assume that God doesn't exist?
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Offline rigabear5

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #49 on: December 09, 2008, 05:50:49 PM »
On what grounds do you assert that they assume that God doesn't exist?
I don't assume some form of your god or any deity doesn't exist.  As a practical step, I conclude that the lack of evidence in support of the proposition means something.  Show me what I don't know.  Show me evidence, credible evidence, and I'll be a theist.  It's that simple.  That's why I identify as an agnostic atheist

'Assume' was probably the wrong choice of word. I'm not using it to judge your belief in God or whatever reasons / reasoning is behind it. That was not the point I was getting at.

Offline Hermes

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #50 on: December 09, 2008, 08:06:55 PM »
I'm not sure that asking for knowledge that 'leads to a consensus among all or even most religious scholars?' is a fair question.

Why not?  It happens all the time in project management and plumbing.

I'd liken the field to say, philosophy. While new knowledge is constantly being produced, you are never going to reach a consensus amongst most philosophers.

I didn't say that no other fields can't suffer from this problem.

That said, I'm looking at less esoteric issues, that's why I mentioned plumbing and accounting.

Of course in the case of plumbing and business (both of which could be considered a science of sorts).

Why do you keep wanting to bring in the irrelevant topic of science?

In either case, plumbing as a field isn't a science.  To call it one makes both words meaningless.

Cruguru has pointed out some new knowledge produced by religious scholars. There are no 'best practices' for philosophy; or at least none in the last 100 years (as far as I know... my knowledge of the field of philosophy is limited). For theology, there is nothing as clear (I say this in the loosest sense of the term) and quantifiable as a market with which to forge best practices. There are no recessions, trends (not in the last 100 years) etc to make theologians go; 'whoops, we were completely wrong' and the fact that religion is so old and ingrained in society does not help. Business and theology seem to be very different things (I don't mean in the literal sense or in terms of content; obviously). 

Philosophy has been addressed above.

As for the rest, I didn't ask for retractions of dogmas.  I was asking for new knowledge that can be agreed upon by a general consensus.

If you mean 'relevant' knowledge, then again I point to cruguru's reasoning; you have assumed that God does not exist, therefore the study of God is not going to produce much of consequence. I'm not getting into whether God exists or not, I'm just saying that assuming that God does not exist and answering responses with this is mind makes this question even more unfair and impossible to answer.

The existence or non-existence of a specific deity doesn't impact the possibility of a gain in knowledge or reaching a concensus on general issues.

Eh, all I can provide is my opinion; I'm open to persuasion and refutation.

I'm not arguing ... nor do I have a point to drive home beyond what seems to be true; religious professionals don't produce new knowledge on a regular basis that is shareable with other religious professionals in general and that which they basically concur.

I ask the question because any answer that comes up that is valid even partially would be very interesting.   It's the exceptions to general rules that tell us something, not that the surface of the planet is lit by the sun constantly at some point.
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Offline Hermes

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #51 on: December 09, 2008, 08:18:16 PM »
I do not see Christianity currently as a net positive, yet I do not see it or other religions beyond correction.
Slightly OT, but is there a thread or somewhere that this is discussed? This outlook has always confounded me  :-[

I mention it in a few places, mostly to counter the 'atheists deny God because they want to sin! and 'without God there would be riots and murder in the streets!' comments that come up often in the forums and in the mailbag posts.

Here is a thread, and some links to check yourself;

Study; More Faithful Nations Are Less Moral
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php?topic=2542

Research the issue yourself;

General statistics on regional populations
International - http://www.nationmaster.com
USA only - http://www.statemaster.com

International religious statistics
http://adherents.com
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #52 on: December 09, 2008, 08:31:12 PM »
as long as there is TAX FREE money to be made it will never be dead :-\
Bow down my hairy children and behold the world I have laid out for you,walk away from your electronic devices and listen to the sounds of nature. Tear from you the ties that bind you to your pathetic existance,walk back into the woods with me and we shall feast on the bounty I have left
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Offline cruguru

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #53 on: December 10, 2008, 09:58:14 AM »
Hermes,

Do you think that more fundamentalist religious thought is the cause of poorer social health in these areas (I highlight fundamentalist because the only specific religious idea that I caught in the excerpt was a denial of evolution; that's not a universal religious belief)?  It's possible that extreme fundamentalist thought is a symptom of poor social health, not the cause.  For example, I'm sure there's a high correlation between percentage of nascar fans and societal health.  But I doubt that nascar actually causes poverty and illiteracy; it just feeds off of them (Nascar is directly responsible for mullets).

Offline Hermes

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #54 on: December 10, 2008, 10:12:34 AM »
Do you think that more fundamentalist religious thought is the cause of poorer social health in these areas (I highlight fundamentalist because the only specific religious idea that I caught in the excerpt was a denial of evolution; that's not a universal religious belief)?  It's possible that extreme fundamentalist thought is a symptom of poor social health, not the cause.  For example, I'm sure there's a high correlation between percentage of nascar fans and societal health.  But I doubt that nascar actually causes poverty and illiteracy; it just feeds off of them (Nascar is directly responsible for mullets).

I could speculate on the specific cause, but the correlation is there and seems to be consistent across the surveyed countries.

At this point, I'm giving the nod to the cause being the constellation of beliefs and practices that people identify for themselves as religion.   Could there be another reason?  Sure.  Nothing pops out as viable that doesn't overlap with religion.  For support, I point back to the study I referenced earlier, as well as some other books like Phil Zuckerman's recent Society without God;

Phil Zuckerman Deadline Interview (Denmark)
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9vc7v7em_4[/youtube]

http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&id=mwmJ4FwuF2YC&dq=Phil+Zuckerman+%22Society+without+God%22&printsec=frontcover&source=web&ots=fHvDFrgxEI&sig=6axYAp8KG1_fQLgeOiKyAEXRhgI&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result

Review;
http://www.salon.com/books/review/2008/10/22/zuckerman/

Forum link;
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php?topic=1186.msg43191#msg43191
« Last Edit: December 10, 2008, 10:14:07 AM by Hermes »
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline Hermes

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #55 on: December 10, 2008, 10:18:01 AM »
That said, if you want to delve into that topic more ... please start another thread.

This thread should retain a narrow focus as the question I posed does not deal with the positive or negative aspects of the output of religious professionals.  Instead, it deals with the products produced by the effort as described in the OP.
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #56 on: December 10, 2008, 01:26:54 PM »
Quote
That said, if you want to delve into that topic more ... please start another thread.

Check.  I have horrible internet etiquette, so reminders are much appreciated (I actually have horrible etiquette in general, but that's another story...)

Quote
This thread should retain a narrow focus as the question I posed does not deal with the positive or negative aspects of the output of religious professionals.  Instead, it deals with the products produced by the effort as described in the OP.

I'm going to disagree with you here, though.  Whether or not you see religion as a net positive or negative goes a long way towards whether or not you see their products as useful to humanity, since one of the major questions that religion deals with is how to promote religion.

Take the auto industry bailout in the US.  There is a lot of debate about whether or not 'the big three' can become competitive again.  The main argument for lending them money is that it will give them time to adopt industry innovations and maybe come up with some of their own and in the end they'll start producing cars that are better for society.  But if I don't start with the assumption that cars are in fact a net positive for society, then that whole argument falls apart.  If I think that cars (and maybe even long distance travel itself) are bad for society, why would I be interested in innovations that will produce more cars?  Who cares if they can become competitive or produce better cars if I think that cars in general are bad?

If you believe that religion is a net negative, then if any religious innovations help produce more religion, you'll probably view them as negative and not adding anything to society.

Offline Hermes

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Re: Is religion dead? (A question for theists about religious knowledge.)
« Reply #57 on: December 10, 2008, 01:34:39 PM »
I'm going to disagree with you here, though.  Whether or not you see religion as a net positive or negative goes a long way towards whether or not you see their products as useful to humanity, since one of the major questions that religion deals with is how to promote religion.

Not quite what I meant. 

Here's an example ... the PMBOK (project manager's book of knowledge) is useful to project managers and benefits the results the PMs get for their projects.  It is probably the case that some of them are working on projects that have a negative impact on the world.  I would hope that most projects are net positives, but that's neither here nor there IRT the PMBOK as a very narrow example of the kinda thing I'm looking for from theologians.  (Note that I am not limiting the possible examples that are valid by giving the PMBOK as an example.)
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer