I don't hate religion - I see it as a fully caused natural state for many fellow humans...

I am curious as to how we can as a group develop an approach to religion that is useful in promoting rational thinking.

I find that many atheists have negative attitudes about religion - and claim that religion is a virus or disease - I don't dispute this claim - but haven't yet had time to research the evidence to support this view point.  It may be that humans generally have negative intentions and religion is only an excuse and not a reason for harmful actions.

Is a negataive attitude towards religion useful to promote as a meme in our community?

And if so, why?

Where is the evidence that religion is the cause of 'evil'?

And what would be an intelligent way that our community would approach religion, including our attitude towards religion and the memes we promote - specifically regarding the promotion of rational, critical and free thinking in ourselves and others?

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I am curious as to how we can as a group develop an approach to religion that is useful in promoting rational thinking.


I think that it's important to take an individualistic approach to religion, and not think that simply because someone is comfortable with a certain label that we understand all their religious attitudes. I have met Christians for example that didn't fit my idea of what Christianity was, and I could say the same about atheists. To engage in respectful discussions with a curious attitude that looks to expose logical flaws, be they our own or those of an opponent promotes rational thinking.

I find that many atheists have negative attitudes about religion

Its like having a negative attitude about societies. It's retarded.

- and claim that religion is a virus or disease - I don't dispute this claim -


I will. Looking at religion individualistically, everyone has a belief/value system or religion. There may be problems with them, but addressing those problems is not served by illogical calls to do away with the system itself. Looking at a religion as an institutionalized social construct, it's easy to see that these too have problems that likewise can't be addressed by illogical calls to treat the institutions themselves as the problem. Metaphorically speaking...Standing on a riverbank complaining about all those idiots who are polluting the river is a far cry from doing something to effectively stop pollution. Working for a cleaner river is a vastly more intelligent approach then trying to get rid of it.

Is a negataive attitude towards religion useful to promote as a meme in our community?


You have already discerned that to keep such an attitude is counterproductive, that's why you're compelled to post here where the unorthodox non-theists hang. :)

And what would be an intelligent way that our community would approach religion, including our attitude towards religion and the memes we promote - specifically regarding the promotion of rational, critical and free thinking in ourselves and others?


Engage in conversations with those who disagree. Address the logic of the individual, not the stereotype.

atypican - so deal with everyone on a case by case basis - including theists and atheists alike?

But what about a mission statement, or ideology or hypothesis - an idea that we can work towards as a community?  Do you think that possible to negotiate?

I am concerned about the negativity towards religion - I don't claim it to be unfounded - but I do think that it might be prejudice - in that just because a small group of Muslims conspire to fly planes into buildings, we don't then need to label all Muslims as terrorists - I am curious as to what so called leaders in our community have to say about it - and I've bought Sam Harris' book - the end of faith - to see what his educated take on this subject is - I would hope that he is rational, reasonable and sensible about it - maintaining integrity in his logical thoughts on the matter.

Perhaps I need to create more attention to the matter by posting a discussion in a large group here on AN saying something like "atheists promote a form of racism when they claim that all religion is a virus and needs irradiating - which is only inciting violence, intolerance and prejudice and is not the action of intelligent and rational thinkers...   ?

I understand reality as a causal web of all things, in which we need to understand and be aware of how cause and effect operates - the spreading of memes can be a marketing exercise - and perhaps should be if it is in the name of promoting free thinking, rational thought and greater well being for all... ?

so deal with everyone on a case by case basis - including theists and atheists alike?

It seems you understand my point well enough.

But what about a mission statement, or ideology or hypothesis - an idea that we can work towards as a community? Do you think that possible to negotiate?

We can certainly discuss it and see if anything develops. I'm not sure how worthwhile going to the effort here would be, and I don't pretend to speak for anyone but myself, but I'd be happy to read (and respond to) the strongest arguments against my position, which is that being against religion (in general) is pointless, illogical, lame and counterproductive. Perhaps calling it a form of racism would be provocative enough to garner some oppositional arguments. Have at it and let me know if anyone pipes up and I'd be happy to join the foray.

(Upon considering the above I typed the following and decided not to edit it out but leave it in case it might stimulate further conversation)....Something remarkable happens when we stop obsessing over flaws we perceive in the way "they" think and we get busy refining and articulating our own philosophy. Self criticism is where it's at. As soon as we get in the habit of that, we find people who think differently to be of great value. Spotting flaws in our own approach is easier with the help of opposing viewpoints.


atypican - oh for sure - that's why I talk to religious folk - to sharpen my own understanding of my position and their's and the relationship between us - what matters and what doesn't - and why I do what I do...

Here is another discussion about my conversations with theists:

http://www.atheistnexus.org/group/originsuniverselifehumankindandda...

So far in my discussions I've got this far....

in a conversation on facebook about the bible and it's moral value i got these two responses:

"There is also no scientific evidence for many scientific theories, and yet they are held to be true ..."

I got a very long post from another friend on justifications for the story of the guy who sacrified his daughter for winning a war - basically saying that he didn't really sacrifice her, but her virginity.

"all of us are doing our best to make sense of the crazy world we live in.I wonder if debating extensively our belief system actually helps anyone but we might be best to build on what we have in common and try to make the world a better place. I think that is what mostly happens. Human beings in spite of their imperfections are generally good people ....."

I had a chat with an atheist last night at the pub - he had rather more different views.. I'll find him - he told me he was on you tube...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmYqm-Gq-PU

He had some quite disturbing things to say - and seemed very anti religion....

- what matters and what doesn't -

Understand what someone thinks about that, and you understand their religion. :)

If we focus on non verbal actions as opposed to descriptions of beliefs/values, we discover that religiously we have more commonality than difference.

I suppose one difference that makes a lot of difference (and this exists within individuals as much as among groups) has to do with love and desire to be served as opposed to a desire to be of service.

IMO, once someone makes their mind up firmly about something of highest importance, they have the intellectual equivalent of theology. The main reason I reject theism is because I see it as being detrimental to curiosity about "matters of the greatest importance"

I read your post and I liked it. Particularly: "The basis for my moral values is that something will either promote human well being or it will detract from it - and something that is clearly detracting from well being is clearly to be avoided and that which is contributing to human well being is clearly to be promoted. When it is clear that an action is leading to human suffering and pain - I can not stand by and support anothers belief in the thing that is causing it such harm."

So for the sake of discussion, name one or more clearly harmful beliefs. :)

Greta has something to offer on this front:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2007/10/15/atheists-and-an/

Belief that god wants:

A person to fly a plane into a building

Explode a bomb on a London Tube / Bus

Jesus weeps when we wear condoms (HIV)

Homosexuals will go to hell / shouldn't marry

It's OK to forgive and cover up child sexual abuse for generations

It's OK to forgive a peodophile

It's OK to condemn a girl raped by a pedophile, her mother and the surgeon, to hell for having an abortion

Just off the top of my head.

Belief that god wants:

A person to fly a plane into a building

Explode a bomb on a London Tube / Bus

I have never met, and I'd be willing to wager that you've never had a discussion with anyone who believes such a thing. Why do you suppose that is? I do however have some experience with supposedly secular institutions that are busy indoctrinating people to believe that the killing of innocent people is necessary to make the world a better place.

Jesus weeps when we wear condoms (HIV)

Who have you met that believes that? Why is it that these people with bad beliefs are only read about, but publicly accessible conversations with them never seem to be taking place?

What about the belief that condoms promote having indiscriminate sex with minimal concern over the possible outcomes....what is YOUR opinion on that?

Homosexuals will go to hell / shouldn't marry

I have talked with someone in depth about the underlying issues of that. Have you? How do we determine when an abnormality becomes a public health risk?

It's OK to forgive and cover up child sexual abuse for generations

Why is sexual abuse more unforgivable than other types of abuse?

It's OK to forgive a peodophile

Explain in your own words (if you dare) what you think the word forgive means.

It's OK to condemn a girl raped by a pedophile, her mother and the surgeon, to hell for having an abortion

If someone is voicing their poorly thought out beliefs to someone else who is perfectly capable of disregarding them, I'd say the benefits of people being open and forthright with what they believe, outweigh any claimed detrimental effects of free speech. I believe it is OK to say whatever you please. It's when you force someone to listen that it becomes abusive and clearly harmful. You can't force someone to believe they are going to hell for having an abortion.

My husband and I did actually meet some of the associates of the perpetrators of the London bombings of 2006 - we met them in a Pakistani coffee shop in Leeds, England in 1996 - they told us that trouble was brewing - my husband remembers the details better than I do.  My husband was visibly shaken after the conversation.  In was the area in which I grew up as a child, I went to school on the same street as one of the London 2006 bombers lived.

Condoms don't promote random sex - they are a tool for sex that is already on the cards - IMO - give me some hard evidence that they promote sexual activity.

It does matter that they are either promoted or warned against as an evil against god when considering HIV.

What?!  Abnormality becomes a public health risk!  What is that supposed to mean?  I really can't see that allowing homosexual couples to get married as being a public health risk.

The Catholic church, according to the inquiry about sexual abuse of children by priests et al, showed that sexual abuse / pedophilia / child rape, was covered up by the church, forgiven and gave priests another chance to do good in another parish, which was repeatedly betrayed.  

I understand the words forgive in this context to mean that the church let the offense go, gave them all a second, third, forth etc. chance.  They the church absolved the sin and held no anger against the perpetrators.  This would have been fine IMO, IF they had also protected against it happening again through exposure, education for the priest, warning potential others of the danger and accepting that forgiveness alone isn't going to change the habit of the priest of offending - it is more than forgiveness of one that will cause the other to cease offending.

Regarding condemning a girl to hell - the principle here is how the church can rate one crime against another - to rape a child is forgivable, to have an abortion or participate in supporting one is not forgivable.  It's not so much about how the condemned took the news, more about how the news was reasoned.

I don't hate religious people at all.  I am concerned about some of the harms done in the name of religions, as I am also concerned about the harms done otherwise in the world.

My point is that people who think god wants them to kill people, are fundamentally no different than those who think their idea of "the greater good" will be served by military action with expected innocent casualties.

Your alleged "meeting" with who you suspect were "associates of the perpetrators" may have happened, but seriously what do you know about the associations that indoctrinated them to believe that what they were doing was honourable? Could you have a conversation with them? Why not worry about wrongdoers you can have a conversation with? Why not point out flaws in the organisations we're intimately familiar with (and GASP! part of)first, instead of always pointing outward to "them".

If the aim is to hold accountable organisations that indoctrinate people to believe that the killing of innocents is acceptable in the service of a perceived "greater good", we shouldn't be so narrow minded as to focus on ones labelled "religious". (not necessarily saying you are)

Any "hard" evidence about whether or not condoms ultimately prevent more problems than they cause is subject to interpretation.

I don't have much desire to persuade you to change your opinion on the matter. But I have a pretty strong suspicion that broader societal acceptance of casual or indiscriminate sex is ultimately detrimental to public well being. If the aim is to get as many people as possible to regard sexual intercourse as a very serious matter, I don't think the use of condoms helps to that end. I think condoms give an excessive sense of security. I don't think giving an excessive sense of security to as many people as possible is wise. I don't expect you to offer any "hard evidence" to change my mind but I certainly would appreciate any challenges you can offer.

It might not be politically correct to say, (and I don't hate homosexuals) but homosexuality is an abnormality. Suppose that a direct causal relationship could be proven to exist between the release of specific pollutants and remarkable increases in homosexuality and hermaphroditism. Should effort be made to reduce such pollution?

As to the gay marriage issue, I don't think the government should be involved in a couples decision to make commitments to one another, be they homosexual or heterosexual. It's a huge waste of government resources.

Regarding places and organisations that people willingly send their kids to where they can be subjected to abuse. Why single out the Catholic Church? Do you think that what's gone on there is any worse than elsewhere? If people are getting away with sexual abuse don't you think it's best regarded as a failure of law enforcement? Where is the "hard evidence" that sexual abuse and consequent cover ups is more predominate within "religious" organisations?

Churches rate one crime against another and so do our legal systems. What's the difference? You say you don't hate religious people at all, but if you spend more effort condemning bad actions of the "religious" organisations than you do the "secular" ones that commit just as heinous of atrocities, your religion is one of bigotry and hate.

Just try logically defending the (IMO false) dichotomy between the religious and the secular. I'd be astounded if you could by way of rational argument, change my mind on that. :)

My husband recalls some of what they said to him:

"there will be rivers of blood, something big is being planned and the west will pay"

He was so concerned on hearing this that he considered alerting the authorities at the time, but didn't.

I've been doing more research on this and other topics and came across a Dawkins interview as part of a panel on the Australian show Q and A, where Dawkins states that it is not atheism that causes evil to happen in the world, it is ideology - Christian ideology, Muslim ideology, Jewish ideology, communist ideology etc.

I thought that was an interesting point.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=YyYXz...

Regarding sex - do you really think that those who contracted HIV would have wanted to do so and wouldn't have chosen if they had their time again to use a condom?

Homosexuality present in our society - and those that are born homosexual have no choice in the matter.

Have you even thought about the implications of not being able to marry the person you love?  In terms of laws, money, inheritance, children, adoption etc...  preventing a loving couple from marrying is to treat them unequally in the eyes of the law and prevent them from gaining greater benefit and well being from being recognised as a couple.

It's interesting that you are so aggressive towards me.

I was wondering how to respond to this. Atypican - great reply - I would have to agree.

Thanks. Nice to meet you.

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