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Old 02-04-2013, 04:34 PM   #151
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I'd make a similar argument that the Arab wars of conquest from the 7th to 10th centuries were more about an expansionist new nation, again control of land and trade routes. I will grant you it was likely Islam that fashioned this new sense of being a singular people, from desert tribes to burgeoning empire. Afterwards Jihad was a defence against incoming European powers. Modern jihad I see as more of a response to being politically sidelined and alienated in the world. With the British and then US governments propping up dictatorships that either were responsible for supporting islamic or propping up other governments that didn't treat the muslims well within their borders.

You push anyone to the side and they are likely to go to extremes. Alex Jones while clearly nuts is in my opinion an actual expression of deep unease many Americans have with Washington and the financial worlds sway, these irrational fears are a byproduct of a deeply injust system hence the religious rights paranoia. Religion doesn't cause that injustice such as the way capitalism works or why the healthcare system is the way it is, it's more an expression of that inequality that comes out in some rather unfortunate ways, but it would still come out even if religion didn't exist.
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Old 02-04-2013, 04:48 PM   #152
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Or that most every war in Asian history somehow wasn't "religiously motivated".

Saying the concept of religious war didn't exist until after the first millennium is like saying half of the world doesn't exist.
What widespread religious war existed before the crusades or the arab conquests? A few of the popes and other scholars of the time had to extensively write about and formalise the idea of religious conquest before it became a widely accepted notion, the concept didn't really exist formally before this, such as Pope Urban II, Gregory VII. As such it was an innovation within religious thought at the time. It may seem odd to think of it that way but the idea had to be invented first. I'm unaware of any major religious war beforehand. Not saying people never used their beliefs prior to justify their actions in part but religion prior to this rarely influenced empires or nations to attack another.

I think here we are arguing about degrees of influence. While I disagree with much about religion I just don't feel it is as comprehensibly pernicious as some do. The much baser urges of greed and power are primarily at work in whatever war, religion is just used in attempt to make them look good while they go about their business.
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Old 02-04-2013, 05:54 PM   #153
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I would define God as that unknown force responsible for the universe, sort of the end-all-be-all of everything. It would be hard for me to think that there is no prime source of reasoning that governs universal laws and makes them logic. God, whatever His/Its nature, is that which is beyond human understanding as the highest source of that reason. To me, it relates to Descartes's "I think, therefore I am." All humans are given some small basic measure of reason, and it would be very hard to me to imagine that such reason came about out of no reason, or that order (as we perceive it) came out of disorder...

The problem inherent in religion, I think, is that religious people assume that they know what God is. And paradoxically, thus they think they are God because, if they can understand the highest source of reasoning in the universe and prescribe it to laws they themselves create, then they place themselves on the same level of reasoning, if not higher, than the ultimate force behind the universe, and they banish God to a lower status than themselves, making Him/It not God anymore.

Not to derail from the existing topic, but I'm curious as to why the atheists here think the way they do. Is it because religion is bad, therefore God does not exist? The number one reason for not believing in God seems to be about religious people, not God per se. It's fine if you simply can't believe that something as God exists, but is your beef really with religion?
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Old 02-04-2013, 06:25 PM   #154
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The number one reason for not believing in God seems to be about religious people, not God per se.
I don't know a single atheist that doesn't believe in god because they think religion is bad. That's a very simplistic view.
I don't believe in a god because there has never been any proof that one exists and the universe doesn't need one to exist. It can exist the way it is with or without a god, so why inject one into the mix with no evidence whatsoever? Why does there need to be a prime source? Why does there need to be a meaning for it all? The only reason to believe there needs to be a meaning is as a security blanket. Otherwise we're just relatively insignificant clumps of matter in a seeming infinitely massive universe (insignificant in respect to the universe doesn't mean you can't find significance relative to life on Earth). But why can't we be insignificant clumps of matter?
The laws of the universe could be completely arbitrary, for all we know; just the result of tiny fluctuations in energy, a fraction of a second after the big bang. There needn't be some grand creator to dial them in. Why imply the universe is fine tuned for us, not the other way around?
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Old 02-04-2013, 07:03 PM   #155
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I don't know a single atheist that doesn't believe in god because they think religion is bad. That's a very simplistic view.
Okay, thanks for this, JT. I just seem to notice that when atheists speak of atheism, the first reason for this belief/lack of belief they seem to cite is religion, as having such a negative impact on human history (as the posts above). We can all agree on that, though we might interpret that differently (as in, "My major religion has never done any such things, so you should not be accusing us" and then pointing the finger to someone else).

I'm not here to convince you otherwise whether God exists or not; that's none of my business. But that's just how I define God, and in that context, it's very hard for me personally to think that such a thing couldn't exist, though you might find it easier to imagine than I. I agree that with you on insignificance/significance. In terms of insignificance, we are both comparing ourselves to something more significant than we are. But if nothing is more significant than us, then yes, like religious people, we must think we are God. At least, by my definition of God. That is the part I'm uncomfortable with, the ignorance in assuming that humanity is the most powerful force in the universe. That's a problem I have mostly with religious people, not with atheists. So if you don't believe there is a God, defining God as any one of a number of different ways, but still believe that we are "insignificant clumps of matter," then I'm cool with that. I agree in that we are "insignificant clumps of matter" compared to something else, whatever that something else is. I just like to tack on a label to that "something else" and call it God. Because I really don't know. It might be simplifying things out of convenience, but I just don't think any of us is capable of saying with certainty.
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Old 02-04-2013, 07:07 PM   #156
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Okay, thanks for this, JT. I just seem to notice that when atheists speak of atheism, the first reason for this belief/lack of belief they seem to cite is religion, as having such a negative impact on human history (as the posts above).
I think maybe you'll just find that to have this view, you pretty much have to be atheist or agnostic... And the ones that don't share that view I guess don't really have a whole lot to talk about on the subject hahaha so you don't really hear from them (just a guess).
Sounds like you probably swing further toward the agnostic side of things than the religious?
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Old 02-04-2013, 07:09 PM   #157
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I'm not here to convince you otherwise whether God exists or not; that's none of my business.
Doesn't mean you can't lay out your beliefs though. Makes this place more interesting
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Old 02-04-2013, 07:11 PM   #158
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I would define God as that unknown force responsible for the universe, sort of the end-all-be-all of everything. It would be hard for me to think that there is no prime source of reasoning that governs universal laws and makes them logic. God, whatever His/Its nature, is that which is beyond human understanding as the highest source of that reason. To me, it relates to Descartes's "I think, therefore I am." All humans are given some small basic measure of reason, and it would be very hard to me to imagine that such reason came about out of no reason, or that order (as we perceive it) came out of disorder...
I see God almost the same way. I don't buy into the whole Old Man in the Sky thing.
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Old 02-04-2013, 07:17 PM   #159
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Sounds like you probably swing further toward the agnostic side of things than the religious?
Well, would my views fall under "spiritual but not religious"? Maybe I'm confused as to what people here are saying "spiritual" means, but I guess that's me, despite someone here (I think) saying that there's no such thing.

I'll just go further and say that I would really like to think that "God" is benevolent and cares about us. That might be a lot more of a stretch than first saying whether or not God exists at all, but I really wish so. It's the only thing that keeps me going every day. That might be crazy, but so be it. So in that sense, am I "spiritual" if I believe that?
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Old 02-04-2013, 07:32 PM   #160
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There is nothing in atheism akin to brainwashing. If anything, it's brain unwashing. It promotes skepticism, free thinking, and logic.
While this sounds nice, retaining a belief in a deity is not compatible with atheism. As long as there is some criteria involved in being an atheist, there is such a thing as a wrong answer; one cannot be a "free-thinking atheist" and come to the conclusion that a God exists. Therefore, it is pushing a specific belief system while excluding others. An "atheism convention," then, celebrates this belief system while condescending those that are incompatible with it. How is there not, to some degree, groupthink involved here?
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Old 02-04-2013, 07:49 PM   #161
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While this sounds nice, retaining a belief in a deity is not compatible with atheism. As long as there is some criteria involved in being an atheist, there is such a thing as a wrong answer; one cannot be a "free-thinking atheist" and come to the conclusion that a God exists. Therefore, it is pushing a specific belief system while excluding others. An "atheism convention," then, celebrates this belief system while condescending those that are incompatible with it. How is there not, to some degree, groupthink involved here?
It's free thinking because you aren't tied to any preconceptions that there is a god. You're free to rely solely on the evidence without being influenced by dogma. No truly logical thought can lead toward a belief in god. I would also argue that, given proof, most atheist would be willing to admit the existence. The difference being, like science in general, you can hold a belief and be willing to amend that belief in the face of new evidence. That can't be said for religion.

Otherwise you're saying you can't be a free thinker and believe in evolution because creationism is a wrong anwser. How can you believe in anything and be considered a free thinker by those standards?
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Old 02-04-2013, 08:54 PM   #162
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Here's a few early religious wars.

God commanded that Israel kill the Canaanites around 1400 B.C. for their wickedness.

In the second century B.C. the Seleucid Greek king Antiochus Epiphanies IV tried to eliminate the Hebrew religion; he banned its practice, killed Jews that would not worship the pagan gods of Greece and desecrated the Temple at Jerusalem. In fact, Hanukkah is the observance of the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabean Revolt.
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:25 PM   #163
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No truly logical thought can lead toward a belief in god.
That's absurd. For one thing what's wrong with the logic that an ordered world might hint at a creator or that the existence of good and evil require an external, objective source?

For another thing, some the greatest Christian apologists and writers are ex-atheists or agnostics that came to their faith in the course of trying to disprove the existence of God. Here's one:


Prager University: The Four Big Bangs - YouTube
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:40 PM   #164
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That's absurd. For one thing what's wrong with the logic that an ordered world might hint at a creator or that the existence of good and evil require an external, objective source?

For another thing, some the greatest Christian apologists and writers are ex-atheists or agnostics that came to their faith in the course of trying to disprove the existence of God. Here's one:
There is not a single shred of evidence for the existence of a god. That's why they call it faith. It doesn't follow that the existence of order hints at a creator. I'm talking about empirical evidence, of which there is none. Unless you've got some to share with the class? (If it's candy, you better have enough for everyone)

For every ex-atheist you show me, I can show you 10 ex-theists. And every single one of them we list will be completely irrelevant to the issue
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:48 PM   #165
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Ok, I just watched that video. Apart from now being upset with you for wasting my 5 minutes, that guy clearly has no idea what he's talking about and is just trotting out the same old creationist 'arguments' that have been successfully and easily refuted a thousand times over("the chance of the universe creating life is 100000000000000000 to one". yaaaaawn). He doesn't have a clue. If part of his reason for becoming a born again Christian was the realization that "wait a minute... animals can't appreciate art", then you can happily have him on your team. Poor example, Indy
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