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Old 03-14-2007, 04:04 AM   #61
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in regards to what you wrote mia - i don't equal spirituality with stupidness. I have spiritual feelings, where I feel there could be something bigger out there, that we have a purpose - the world is a living breathing everchanging thing and we are but a miniscule blip on the whole of existance sort of thinking - i like spirituality i don't like organised religion. I don't understand how people can live their lives by a book, or how an intelligent person can live by some 'rules' and think they are on their way to heaven or something by believing everything someone up on a pulpit tells them. Also that a lot of my experience of very religious people are very aggressive with their beliefs and frankly quite scary.
I know in the past i have been judgemental about religious people, and used to not want to be around people who would talk about religion and god like they were trying to convert me, but i think i've become more desensitised to it. I'm fine with people believing in god, whatever works for them to get through life is fine with me - what im NOT fine with, is people finding fault with my beliefs. After all am i not on the side of logic and reason? why then am i suddenly distrsutful?

its an interesting point.

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Old 03-14-2007, 07:21 AM   #62
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anyone know what the male/female ratio is of atheists in America is? Would be interesting

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Old 03-14-2007, 12:53 PM   #63
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Originally posted by dazzlingamy

in regards to what you wrote mia - i don't equal spirituality with stupidness.

i agree with this, but i do want to approach one thing that i think underlies the whole, "religious people are stupid" that i think sometimes gets inadvertantly expressed.

it's not that i think that religious people are stupid. far from it, as evidenced by the many religious posters in here who are extremely thoughtful and articulate. what i do think happens, however, is when you get into fundamentalism and fundamentalist literalism that seems, to me, not to be a sign of stupidity but of a refusal to think.

if you simply accept creationism, it seems to me that you aren't thinking. if you simply accept whatever at face value -- Noah's Ark, the fact that it's okay to think that the one billion Muslims and 800m Hindus are going to hell because you haven't converted them -- without listening to what your own eyes, ears, conscience, and experience tell you, then that seems a refusal to think. whenever we subjugate our own experiences to that which is written in a book, that seems to me to be a refusal to think.
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Old 03-14-2007, 01:17 PM   #64
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i see what you both mean.

i just wanna point out that what you both are describing is illustrative of "absolute knowing" which is the first stage in some cognitive-structural theories. in this stage, knowledge is absolute, there is no questioning nor justification necessary. Truth is Truth, and this Truth is usually given to an authority figure.

Yes, these types of people will perhaps flock to a particular religion or community where they can find comfort in authority telling them what is right and what is wrong. But this sort of pre-reflective thinking is not typical of all those affiliated with religion. also, this type of thinking happens outside of religion too, i think. for example it could be students who prefer a lecture over a debate only because they'd rather accept truths than discuss them, and also that these students would be less likely to defend a point of view different from their own.

pre-reflective thinkers can belong to any religion, or not even have a religion at all. for example, it wouldn't surprise me to meet a person who is athiest simply because her family was, and who never even thought to question it.
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Old 03-15-2007, 04:59 AM   #65
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Coming from a religious family, I moved fairly young to a fluctuating agnostic--doubtful, but not really wanting to give up on that belief. I was a long time at that stage. (Really long). Finally moving to less fluctuating agnostic. Right now, I probably stand right at the edge of atheism, but I'm still susceptible.

I'm not particularly spiritual. But there still is that primal and childlike need for magic of some sort that can make everything better. My head knows better. My heart wants something else.
Always that clash.

But back to the thread, I would vote for an atheist. I am getting a little tired of candidates who present their religiosity or their families as prime reasons to vote for them.
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Old 03-15-2007, 03:03 PM   #66
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Moderate believers give cover to religious fanatics -- and are every bit as delusional.

By Sam Harris
SAM HARRIS is the author of "The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason" and "Letter to a Christian Nation."

March 15, 2007

PETE STARK, a California Democrat, appears to be the first congressman in U.S. history to acknowledge that he doesn't believe in God. In a country in which 83% of the population thinks that the Bible is the literal or "inspired" word of the creator of the universe, this took political courage.

Of course, one can imagine that Cicero's handlers in the 1st century BC lost some sleep when he likened the traditional accounts of the Greco-Roman gods to the "dreams of madmen" and to the "insane mythology of Egypt."

Mythology is where all gods go to die, and it seems that Stark has secured a place in American history simply by admitting that a fresh grave should be dug for the God of Abraham — the jealous, genocidal, priggish and self-contradictory tyrant of the Bible and the Koran. Stark is the first of our leaders to display a level of intellectual honesty befitting a consul of ancient Rome. Bravo.

The truth is, there is not a person on Earth who has a good reason to believe that Jesus rose from the dead or that Muhammad spoke to the angel Gabriel in a cave. And yet billions of people claim to be certain about such things. As a result, Iron Age ideas about everything high and low — sex, cosmology, gender equality, immortal souls, the end of the world, the validity of prophecy, etc. — continue to divide our world and subvert our national discourse. Many of these ideas, by their very nature, hobble science, inflame human conflict and squander scarce resources.

Of course, no religion is monolithic. Within every faith one can see people arranged along a spectrum of belief. Picture concentric circles of diminishing reasonableness: At the center, one finds the truest of true believers — the Muslim jihadis, for instance, who not only support suicidal terrorism but who are the first to turn themselves into bombs; or the Dominionist Christians, who openly call for homosexuals and blasphemers to be put to death.

Outside this sphere of maniacs, one finds millions more who share their views but lack their zeal. Beyond them, one encounters pious multitudes who respect the beliefs of their more deranged brethren but who disagree with them on small points of doctrine — of course the world is going to end in glory and Jesus will appear in the sky like a superhero, but we can't be sure it will happen in our lifetime.

Out further still, one meets religious moderates and liberals of diverse hues — people who remain supportive of the basic scheme that has balkanized our world into Christians, Muslims and Jews, but who are less willing to profess certainty about any article of faith. Is Jesus really the son of God? Will we all meet our grannies again in heaven? Moderates and liberals are none too sure.

Those on this spectrum view the people further toward the center as too rigid, dogmatic and hostile to doubt, and they generally view those outside as corrupted by sin, weak-willed or unchurched.

The problem is that wherever one stands on this continuum, one inadvertently shelters those who are more fanatical than oneself from criticism. Ordinary fundamentalist Christians, by maintaining that the Bible is the perfect word of God, inadvertently support the Dominionists — men and women who, by the millions, are quietly working to turn our country into a totalitarian theocracy reminiscent of John Calvin's Geneva. Christian moderates, by their lingering attachment to the unique divinity of Jesus, protect the faith of fundamentalists from public scorn. Christian liberals — who aren't sure what they believe but just love the experience of going to church occasionally — deny the moderates a proper collision with scientific rationality. And in this way centuries have come and gone without an honest word being spoken about God in our society.

People of all faiths — and none — regularly change their lives for the better, for good and bad reasons. And yet such transformations are regularly put forward as evidence in support of a specific religious creed. President Bush has cited his own sobriety as suggestive of the divinity of Jesus. No doubt Christians do get sober from time to time — but Hindus (polytheists) and atheists do as well. How, therefore, can any thinking person imagine that his experience of sobriety lends credence to the idea that a supreme being is watching over our world and that Jesus is his son?

There is no question that many people do good things in the name of their faith — but there are better reasons to help the poor, feed the hungry and defend the weak than the belief that an Imaginary Friend wants you to do it. Compassion is deeper than religion. As is ecstasy. It is time that we acknowledge that human beings can be profoundly ethical — and even spiritual — without pretending to know things they do not know.

Let us hope that Stark's candor inspires others in our government to admit their doubts about God. Indeed, it is time we broke this spell en masse. Every one of the world's "great" religions utterly trivializes the immensity and beauty of the cosmos. Books like the Bible and the Koran get almost every significant fact about us and our world wrong. Every scientific domain — from cosmology to psychology to economics — has superseded and surpassed the wisdom of Scripture.

Everything of value that people get from religion can be had more honestly, without presuming anything on insufficient evidence. The rest is self-deception, set to music.

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