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Old 09-20-2012, 09:04 PM   #201
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Oh, I know what you meant. I was actually saying if anything, the opposite is true. I think I might've simplified too much though, so it was confusing. My distaste for religion doesn't come from whether or not I think it's all made up. If it were a benign belief system that didn't affect anyone uninterested, it would probably be something I said little about. It isn't my distaste for religion that brings about my thoughts on events like the ones of the past couple weeks. But rather events like the ones of the last couple weeks that have moved my views from being indifferent to an outright disdain. There was a time when I was younger that I was indifferent and maybe a part of me still believed in some of it. But as I've grown older and more aware, the uglier and deceitful nature of religion has become so apparent to me. That said, it's religion itself that I dislike so much, not the majority of the people who practice it (though I wish the world would get to a place where we didn't need or want it anymore).





Would you agree then that you're slightly more secular than your father? That's sort of the idea I'm getting at. Whereas your father might read passages from the bible and live his life in strict adherence, you afford yourself the freedom to interpret and possibly even omit (I'm guessing here) certain parts. And maybe I am oversimplifying, but my argument would be that if your slide toward secularism, however slight it may be, has made you a more reasonable person, does it then follow that the further the slide, the more reasonable the man? Or at the very least, the more likely one may be to come to one's own conclusions rather than having them coloured by passages in the bible, sometimes to their detriment.

I have not read that book, but I'll read it after the one I currently am. Thanks for the recommendation!



I'd be hard pressed not to agree with this (though Hitler was far from an atheist). But I would also make a point that nobody has ever done anything in the name of atheism, whereas atrocities are committed in the name of religion now and throughout history. You're right, the vast majority of religious people are good, caring, reasonable people. But the idea of religion has made some people and some societies do terrible things. I just don't think the good is worth the bad. Sure, we'll find reasons to fight anyway, but why lump a huge log on that fire? (Obviously this is coming from someone who doesn't believe in any of it, so easy for me to say).

Great conversation guys! Nice to see iYup joining in too
Ugh. I just wrote a long response to this and somehow deleted the whole thing. How depressing. Will try again later.
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Old 09-20-2012, 10:08 PM   #202
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Religion is such an incredibly malleable thing. The Bible and the Quran are both violent in some passages, peaceful in others... it is easy to create an interpretation saying just about anything, to the point where it's hard to say that either book defines a religion. Rather, the religion that people follow is defined by their interpretation of the Books, to the point where I'd say that al Qaeda probably has more in common with, say, the great people of Westboro Baptist Church than most Muslims.

Peace, to me, is about peaceful integration. It is about expanding communities beyond the immediate. Really, human history has slowly progressed more towards global integration, towards commonality (I highly recommend reading the book Nonzero by Robert Wright for more. It and Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond are my favorite nonfiction books.). Integration is largely a function of economic dependence. Why are China and the United States at absolutely zero risk of warfare, despite competing ideologies and major potential for geopolitical conflict? Why, since 1945, is warfare dying down in Europe for the first time since the fall of the Western Roman Empire? In both cases, it's because of incredibly deep economic integration between people, which in the case of Europe is even leading to the blurring of lines between nation-states (the merits of that are another argument). In Europe's case, these new connections between peoples are cutting through centuries of nationalistic distaste for other Europeans. Can anyone imagine any combination of France, Germany, and United Kingdom at war anymore? It's unthinkable, and a century ago, it was constant. Economic integration creates two things issues that bring people together. First, it helps to prevent wars, as countries realize that it would be economically suicidal to wage war on those on which they depend. Second, it helps to bring people together, as they have to mingle to facilitate their trade; it exposes the humanity of different races to each other, to put it crudely.

Since the mid-1800s or so, however, the Middle East has largely been the object of Western intervention and tampering without economic benefit. When the Ottoman Empire began to decline, Britain, France, and Russia all swept in, and the region that was the economic center of the world while Europe languished in the Dark Ages began to fail. It only got worse after First World War, when the Ottoman Empire collapsed completely and the European victors (against the advice of a very wise president, Woodrow Wilson) got to cut out zones of imperial influence in the Middle East. Western colonialism and neo-colonialism (for which neo-conservativism is basically an aphorism) did nothing to develop the area, and it's no wonder to me that there is so much anti-Western sentiment there. By poverty, especially in the poorest of the poor areas like Somalia and Afghanistan, is borne the sort of extremism and hatred towards "the man" on which terrorism survives. And in this case, "the man" is the West, as typified most strongly by the United States. Of course Islam develops around this. While the vast majority of Muslims are just like the vast majority of Christians, it's no surprise at all to me that a strong and attention-hungry sect of Islam developed that despises the West. The Quran can be used to support it, but is that really what matters? Of course not. The Bible could too if the people of the area happened to largely be Christians! Any ideology can be used in that manner, though religion is easy. But wars get waged all the time on the backs of other sorts of ideologies used in a mythological form. Nationalism is extremely common, of course. For neo-conservatives, Democracy gets used, although it is heavily intertwined with Nationalism. The ideology is not what matters. The religion is not the source of evil here. Nix Islam, and people would be rioting over attacks on the sovereignty and the culture of the Arab people. The problem lies with resentment bred by decades of economic non-integration. And by integration, I don't mean Washington Consensus colonial raiding-of-resources nonsense. I mean trade of equals - the sort of trade which Japan and China were able to develop by themselves with comparatively little Western colonial influence.

So yes, in a nutshell, religion isn't the real issue here. It gets used to justify conflict, but that conflict tends to be bred by economics, and other ideologies can fill the same roll.
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Old 09-21-2012, 03:17 AM   #203
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You make some good points, digitize and I'm sure all that factors in. It's really late here (beddy byes), so don't take my short post as dismissive, but aggression between Christianity and Islam go back much further than the 1800s. The crusades being an obvious example.
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Old 09-21-2012, 03:27 AM   #204
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Why are China and the United States at absolutely zero risk of warfare, despite competing ideologies and major potential for geopolitical conflict? Why, since 1945, is warfare dying down in Europe for the first time since the fall of the Western Roman Empire?...Can anyone imagine any combination of France, Germany, and United Kingdom at war anymore? It's unthinkable, and a century ago, it was constant.
One more quick one. I'd argue, in the case of China and the US, that it's the perfect example of what happens when religion is not involved, despite other competing ideologies. Taking religion out of the equation is a huge reason as to why there is nearly zero risk of conflict.
It's not surprising that the countries in which the influence of religion is dwindling show less potential for being at war with one another.
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Old 09-21-2012, 08:04 AM   #205
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but aggression between Christianity and Islam go back much further than the 1800s. The crusades being an obvious example.
Oh yes, absolutely. The difference is that the Christians were the terrorists from the economic hellhole sticking it to "the man", the rich and prosperous Muslims.
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:10 AM   #206
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right, but economics wasn't a driving force so much as religion was. It seems to me to be a more distilled example of the similar situations today
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Old 09-21-2012, 10:22 AM   #207
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right, but economics wasn't a driving force so much as religion was. It seems to me to be a more distilled example of the similar situations today
Well, there was little economic integration between Western Europe and the Middle East. And there was Islamic meddling in Europe, in Spain. Of course the justifications for the violence stemmed from religion, but I think such religious tensions could be ameliorated with economic integration, and I'm not sure I buy that getting rid of religion would fix things when there are other myths that can be clung to with religious fervor.
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Old 09-21-2012, 10:22 AM   #208
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right, but economics wasn't a driving force so much as religion was.
I'd have to challenge this, I'm afraid. I would say that the early Crusades were an example of kings and the pope - political figures, essentially - taking advantage of religious individuals for the sake of their own economic gain. Kings got rid of the nobles who were destroying royal lands with their constant feuding, and the pope tightened his stranglehold on European politics. The lucrative trade routes in the Near East were also an object of desire. All this is to say that those who instigated the Crusades were not motivated by a hatred of Islam so much as by a desire to further their own political and economic interests. They simply took advantage of religious people in order to further their own ends, much as someone like Bin Laden did. There is a lot of interesting scholarship on the issue of piety in the motivations of ordinary crusaders, by the way.
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Old 09-21-2012, 12:17 PM   #209
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But that is pretty much organized religion in a nut shell. Kings, Popes, the church in general manipulating and controlling the population for personal gain; that's one of my primary reasons for being so anti-religious. I would never argue against the fact that there were probably nefarious motivations for the crusades; I'd be shocked to hear of any virtuous motivations. But take away the religious aspects and they wouldn't have a leg to stand on. Regardless of who's pulling the strings at the top, it's the infection of religion throughout the general populace that allows these things to happen.
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Old 09-21-2012, 01:56 PM   #210
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But that is pretty much organized religion in a nut shell. Kings, Popes, the church in general manipulating and controlling the population for personal gain; that's one of my primary reasons for being so anti-religious. I would never argue against the fact that there were probably nefarious motivations for the crusades; I'd be shocked to hear of any virtuous motivations. But take away the religious aspects and they wouldn't have a leg to stand on. Regardless of who's pulling the strings at the top, it's the infection of religion throughout the general populace that allows these things to happen.
I disagree that the general populace couldn't be persuaded without religion. Why? It happened in the United States, just about a decade ago. Look at Iraq. Religion wasn't used. Nationalism and Democracy were.
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Old 09-21-2012, 02:01 PM   #211
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I'd say pride in religion, country or anything else would make people act irrationally when provoked. It's the "this is who I am and how dare anyone insult me" type of thinking. It is also mass egotism.
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Old 09-21-2012, 05:58 PM   #212
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Religion is a symptom of poverty, or more accurately, a symptom of economic inequality.
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Old 09-21-2012, 07:42 PM   #213
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Religion is a symptom of poverty, or more accurately, a symptom of economic inequality.
I would say this makes sense if I didn't know several very rich people who are also extremely devout. It seems to be a trend among Mormons for one reason or another, perhaps owing to the idea that success in life is a sign of divine favor.

For a long time the consensus about the spread of Christianity and Islam was that the celebration of the poor and marginalized attracted those demographics, i.e. early Christianity and Islam was populated by the lower rungs of society. Recent evidence is challenging that vantage point rather convincingly, though.
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Old 09-22-2012, 12:07 AM   #214
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Libya: Four Protesters Killed, 20 Wounded in Benghazi in Demonstrations Against Armed Groups
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Old 09-22-2012, 12:31 AM   #215
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That is just... really saddening, honestly.
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:04 AM   #216
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But I disagree with him. I think such judgments about either president are trivial and cheap. I feel the same about that people that like to make much of Bush at the elementary school on 9/11. I've always thought criticizing Bush for not leaping out of his seat and DOING something was shallow with(apologies to present company; I recall one of us recently made that very criticism just a few days ago--can't remember who or what thread. I do disagree with it).
well i missed what reccent critisms you are refering to

And i didn't expect him to leap out of his seat and do something right at that second.....

i'm sorry he still looked like a deer in the headlights....
what he could have done was excuse himself after half min, min saying children/students sometimes when something very important a President has to leave where he is and go talk with his advisors... etc
nice and calm...
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:43 AM   #217
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Mitt would never apologize to the protesters! Romney 2012!
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:44 AM   #218
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I think their reaction has less to do with religion and more with their governments taking advantage of anti-American sentiment in the population.

Why aren't Muslims in the U.K., France, Canada, Australia etc. taking to the streets? The common denominator is they live in democratic countries, and those protesting live in places where there is no real concept of free speech or this idea that anybody can post a bloody video on Youtube. To them, a video like this can only be uploaded with U.S. government approval, thus demonstrating another example of American imperial behaviour in the region.
second paragraph has good nuance in it ..now .i've been ouit all day/eve don't know any latest news...

Really most Muslims won't be reacting , yeah i do believe other social-economics factors enter in. there's a ?billion or so believers in Islam so... these are smallish groups in relative terms.

Also that's why you'll see a lot of geometrics, plants animals in there art and mosques, not depictions of
Mohammed and his ? relatives or supporters.

I can also tell you living in a part of Brooklyn near to where a lot of Musloms live/worship the day after
(or 2nd day) 9-11 there was an interfaith march including Muslims to commemorate the death & suffering. I didn't know that area well so i was going down this street and that never found them to join in.

finally there were thousands maybe even more of Muslins in Terhan, Iran that night (still our day/early eve) with candles in the big square memorializing the atrocity.
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Old 09-22-2012, 12:57 PM   #219
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Religion is a symptom of poverty, or more accurately, a symptom of economic inequality.
You have it backwards. On a macro level, poverty is the symptom of dysfunctional values. Compare Israel and Palestine. China and Singapore. Haiti and the Dominican Republic. West and East Germany during the Cold War.

Which countries protected private property rights and economic freedom and which ones viewed the state's role as insuring "economic equality"?
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:40 PM   #220
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Religion is a symptom of being afraid to die.
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