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Old 03-24-2014, 07:58 PM   #331
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Jeevey, of course I see that teaching as horribly bad. But does that mean everything a religion teaches is bad? As in, half of the good points don't matter because of the bad half?
I don't want to speak for Jeevey but that doesn't logically follow. I do think there is importance in people recognizing that religious teachings in and of themselves can be bad, destructive, maybe even evil.

There are things in the Bible which I think are incredibly disturbing, take the sacrifice of Isaac, for example. To me, it is plain old wrong and I would encourage people to consider the reaction today to a man who would be willing to kill his child because he hears the voice of God telling him to do so. Would you defend him or would he be branded deeply mentally ill? That isn't to say that you, as a Christian, believe in a BAD religion.
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Old 03-24-2014, 08:13 PM   #332
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I don't want to speak for Jeevey but that doesn't logically follow. I do think there is importance in people recognizing that religious teachings in and of themselves can be bad, destructive, maybe even evil.

There are things in the Bible which I think are incredibly disturbing, take the sacrifice of Isaac, for example. To me, it is plain old wrong and I would encourage people to consider the reaction today to a man who would be willing to kill his child because he hears the voice of God telling him to do so. Would you defend him or would he be branded deeply mentally ill? That isn't to say that you, as a Christian, believe in a BAD religion.
I think the sacrifice of Isaac is disturbing too. I do wonder if there's any truth to that story or what the hell God is thinking if that really happened. If anyone did that today, yes I would say he was mentally ill and he'll have to do a hell of a lot to prove that was God who did order that. And it would totally boggle my mind that the God that I've benefitted from will order that. Seriously, I would lose my sanity.
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Old 03-24-2014, 08:22 PM   #333
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What do we mean by "bad" here? It seems like it started off as "exclusionary," e.g. some religious people actively discriminating against gay people. To that I would say that such discriminatory behavior can and does exist in both religious and non-religious people. That's not an inherent problem with religion.

In my mind at least, the real social problems with religion arise from literal interpretations of scripture. Those will always result in ugly behavior because the context in which they were written differs so wildly from modern society. Anitram, you gave the example of Abraham and Isaac. For me that story is pretty clearly an allegory for the importance of a patriarchal society, i.e. each man obeys the older man in the story. So yes, if someone now not only takes that story as literal but also thinks it is applicable to modern culture, then that person will likely have some extreme problems with socialization.
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Old 03-24-2014, 08:30 PM   #334
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What do we mean by "bad" here? It seems like it started off as "exclusionary," e.g. some religious people actively discriminating against gay people. To that I would say that such discriminatory behavior can and does exist in both religious and non-religious people. That's not an inherent problem with religion.
I've known homophobes who could care less about God or religion.

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In my mind at least, the real social problems with religion arise from literal interpretations of scripture. Those will always result in ugly behavior because the context in which they were written differs so wildly from modern society. Anitram, you gave the example of Abraham and Isaac. For me that story is pretty clearly an allegory for the importance of a patriarchal society, i.e. each man obeys the older man in the story. So yes, if someone now not only takes that story as literal but also thinks it is applicable to modern culture, then that person will likely have some extreme problems with socialization.
That's why I wonder if the story is actually true. I think the Book of Genesis is a collection of folk tales from early Mesopotamian tribes. The Great Flood has some historical truth to it. There is evidence of a major flood in that area millennia ago that caused major destruction. Now about Noah and the Ark, that could be just a legend. Many cultures all over the world have legends that have some truth mixed with the supernatural. Legends are basically like the game, telephone
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Old 03-24-2014, 08:37 PM   #335
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That's why I wonder if the story is actually true. I think the Book of Genesis is a collection of folk tales from early Mesopotamian tribes.
I'd say that is pretty well accepted in scholarly circles. Different people added/edited/redacted biblical texts over several centuries. Sometimes the evidence for this is pretty clear, as in the two creation stories coming nearly back-to-back in the early stages of Genesis.
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Old 03-24-2014, 08:39 PM   #336
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I really don't think jeevey said that *everything* a religion teaches is bad, just that some elements of it *can* be bad, particularly if some tenets of it are distorted to suit a specific purpose.
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Old 03-24-2014, 09:25 PM   #337
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Maybe I'm just thinking anytime someone points out the problem with religion (and I agree that the Bible has it's problems) that means they're saying anyone who follows such teachings is a fool and out of touch with reality. Jeevey probably isn't, and I did probably miss her whole point.
That's exactly what I'm not saying. What I'm trying to say here is about individual dogmas--articles of belief. And that it's important to recognize that they can be both A. explicitly religious and B. really and truly evil. I'm speaking out to the exact discomfort that Pearl is expressing here, the reluctance to criticize religious teaching AS religious, for fear that religion or faith as a universal body is under attack. I think that's a problematic attitude that lets real harmful beliefs go unexamined, or get a free pass because they are religious.

To be clear, I don't think religion as a body is bad. It can produce many good things, and it's really precious for many people. In many ways I envy people of faith. I miss having that confidence that the universe gives a fuck, (which I know is not exclusive to people of a named faith, but which I only had when I was.) But I also don't think that religion and faith are inherently good. I think that like anything they need to be examined, weighed and thought about, and that you need to carefully pick and choose what dogmas are a force for good, and which are harmful.
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Old 03-24-2014, 09:37 PM   #338
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What do we mean by "bad" here? It seems like it started off as "exclusionary," e.g. some religious people actively discriminating against gay people. To that I would say that such discriminatory behavior can and does exist in both religious and non-religious people. That's not an inherent problem with religion.
By bad I mean evil, and for that I like Sam Harris's shorthand description, which I'm paraphrasing here but is roughly 'anything that actively creates human misery.' And no, evil does not come exclusively from religion, but it can come from there. And it's important that we not give protection to evil beliefs because they come from a holy source. I think it's important that we identify evil religious beliefs specifically by their religious nature, because it's often exactly that that gives them such power.
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Old 03-24-2014, 09:40 PM   #339
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That's exactly what I'm not saying. What I'm trying to say here is about individual dogmas--articles of belief. And that it's important to recognize that they can be both A. explicitly religious and B. really and truly evil. I'm speaking out to the exact discomfort that Pearl is expressing here, the reluctance to criticize religious teaching AS religious, for fear that religion or faith as a universal body is under attack. I think that's a problematic attitude that lets real harmful beliefs go unexamined, or get a free pass because they are religious.

To be clear, I don't think religion as a body is bad. It can produce good things, and it's really important for some people. In many ways I envy people of faith. I miss having that confidence that the universe gives a fuck, (which I know is not exclusive to people of a named faith, but which I only had when I was.) But I also don't think that religion and faith are inherently good. I think that like anything they need to be examined, weighed and thought about, and that you need to carefully pick and choose what dogmas are a force for good, and which are harmful.
I'm not really that reluctant to criticize or examine religious teachings. I take it my assessment of the Book of Genesis above reflects that. I think religion at best can be a structure that allows personal and spiritual growth, with enough room to question, doubt and explore. When questioning, doubt and exploration is stifled, and personal and spiritual growth is stunted, then I say religion, or any kind of single Christian denomination for that matter, is a problem, and even dangerous.

As for faith, I think blind faith (if that is what you mean) is only good if you've been practicing faith for a long time, as in many many years. Someone starting out on their spiritual journey, especially at a young age, shouldn't try blind faith because of their immature minds, emotions and spirit. Faith is a journey, I believe, and I don't think just finding God once means your journey is over. It's only the beginning to being a stronger, better, wiser person. That is, if you don't pay close attention and misinterpret teachings, that nagging feeling in your heart, etc. Then you can lose your way, and may become dangerous.
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Old 03-24-2014, 09:45 PM   #340
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That's why I wonder if the story is actually true. I think the Book of Genesis is a collection of folk tales from early Mesopotamian tribes. The Great Flood has some historical truth to it. There is evidence of a major flood in that area millennia ago that caused major destruction. Now about Noah and the Ark, that could be just a legend. Many cultures all over the world have legends that have some truth mixed with the supernatural. Legends are basically like the game, telephone
I know you are a fan of Karen Armstrong, I am a somewhat fan also. I remember listening to an hour long program with her on public radio about Abraham. She had written a book on him. Her point was that this story and person is at the very heart of the 3 great religions, without him and this story they do not exist. It gave me a lot to think about. If anything like this happened I think Abraham failed the test. He was supposed to tell G-d that he loved him but he would not kill an innocent child and G-d could do what he wanted with him but please do not question his love for not commuting murder.

So what are we left with? Three great religions that believe slaughtering innocents is ok, if you can tell yourself it is what G-d wants. And again we have seen all three religions do just that.
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Old 03-24-2014, 09:50 PM   #341
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Thoughtful post, deep. One of my most shaking moments in Bible school was when the professor asked, "Does God do things because they right or are they right because God does them?" I think it's so difficult when our sacred book tells us that God did something or commands something that our moral sense tells us is wrong. It's very difficult to resolve.
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Old 03-24-2014, 09:52 PM   #342
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I know you are a fan of Karen Armstrong, I am a somewhat fan also. I remember listening to an hour long program with her on public radio about Abraham. She had written a book on him. Her point was that this story and person is at the very heart of the 3 great religions, without him and this story they do not exist. It gave me a lot to think about. If anything like this happened I think Abraham failed the test. He was supposed to tell G-d that he loved him but he would not kill an innocent child and G-d could do what he wanted with him but please do not question his love for not commuting murder.

So what are we left with? Three great religions that believe slaughtering innocents is ok, if you can tell yourself it is what G-d wants. And again we have seen all three religions do just that.
It is true Abraham is at the heart of the three monotheistic religions. Maybe he did exist and maybe there is some truth to the story of Isaac. It is disturbing that God will test Abraham like that. It is more disturbing that Abraham was more than willing to do it. Maybe the point is, don't be that trusting of God. Or rather, like I said earlier, be careful of blind faith. Maybe even God wouldn't want us to have blind faith either. After all, He did stop Abraham and did not allow him to follow through. But still, its a pretty damning test.

Speaking of Karen Armstrong, she once said that when religion is personal and left to the individual, then it is fine. It's when institutions get involved and take away personal faith that religion becomes destructive. I agree with her.
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Old 03-25-2014, 10:58 AM   #343
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I know you are a fan of Karen Armstrong, I am a somewhat fan also. I remember listening to an hour long program with her on public radio about Abraham. She had written a book on him. Her point was that this story and person is at the very heart of the 3 great religions, without him and this story they do not exist. It gave me a lot to think about. If anything like this happened I think Abraham failed the test. He was supposed to tell G-d that he loved him but he would not kill an innocent child and G-d could do what he wanted with him but please do not question his love for not commuting murder.

So what are we left with? Three great religions that believe slaughtering innocents is ok, if you can tell yourself it is what G-d wants. And again we have seen all three religions do just that.
Really great and thoughtful post.
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Old 03-25-2014, 11:13 AM   #344
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Wow, I never thought there would be a religious discussion in a thread on homosexuality.


For what it's worth, thanks to my Christian upbringing I know my biblical stuff. But I never saw that book as something literal, to me it was just another storybook. And I still honestly do not understand why the difference was made that declared this specific book holy. And why people convince themselves they are forced to live by the rules declared in this book(but coincidentally pick the ones they don't mind living by, ie homosexuality is disgusting and wrong, but shellfish and divorce are pretty ok). It's just mindboggling as a whole. But ah well, religion doesn't want me anyway so I don't even need to bother understanding it. I'll be sent to hell anyway, for simply being myself.


Just saw this on 9gag. They do have a point. If all humans are created by god, why are people so against gays? Cause they would also have been made by god...
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Old 03-25-2014, 12:12 PM   #345
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I know you are a fan of Karen Armstrong, I am a somewhat fan also. I remember listening to an hour long program with her on public radio about Abraham. She had written a book on him. Her point was that this story and person is at the very heart of the 3 great religions, without him and this story they do not exist. It gave me a lot to think about. If anything like this happened I think Abraham failed the test. He was supposed to tell G-d that he loved him but he would not kill an innocent child and G-d could do what he wanted with him but please do not question his love for not commuting murder.

So what are we left with? Three great religions that believe slaughtering innocents is ok, if you can tell yourself it is what G-d wants. And again we have seen all three religions do just that.
This is the best thing you have ever posted in this forum.
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