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Old 03-24-2014, 02:21 PM   #321
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I agree with your post, but I'm not getting how you're relating that to mine? What you are saying in paragraph 1, I agree with as something I know Christians believed, but I haven't seen widely practiced. I mean, I never felt that a large Christian community was judging me or anyone else for not being a part of their religious community.

And I agree with your second paragraph as well. My very devout Baptist aunt has never behaved as though she or her way is better than anyone else.
(I hope my use of the word "fanatical" in relation to Baptists wasn't taken negatively. It wasn't meant that way at all.)
What I was trying to say, I think () is that the idea behind Christianity is that it is a better way than not to practice, based on the impacts it has on eternity. From a Christian standpoint. I'm not saying that I think I'm better than anyone for that reason, I'm just saying that what you said and the theology behind Christianity don't exactly jive.

And no, absolutely not, I didn't take it negatively . In my experience, I haven't encountered nearly as many fanatic people in general. The people who were fanatic, however, were usually.....I'm going to leave this post exactly as it is, because I just went to go look up the church I was specifically thinking of in my area and it's Baptist, so never mind!
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Old 03-24-2014, 02:25 PM   #322
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I understand what you're saying in your first part. I think what I'm asking is I didn't think I had made any statement on Christian theology in my first post. As far as I know, at least.

Making an edit here...

Ok I went back and reread my post to try and get how you interpreted it and I think I get it now. I probably didn't articulate my idea as exactly as I wanted to. Maybe within the devout Christian community, non believers are seen as people who haven't attained that level..or morality... yet? But it has never felt that this is the norm for the United States as jeevey had described it, to me.
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Old 03-24-2014, 02:29 PM   #323
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I understand what you're saying in your first part. I think what I'm asking is I didn't think I had made any statement on Christian theology in my first post. As far as I know, at least.

Making an edit here...

Ok I went back and reread my post to try and get how you interpreted it and I think I get it now. I probably didn't articulate my idea as exactly as I wanted to. Maybe within the devout Christian community, non believers are seen as people who haven't attained that level..or morality... yet? But it has never felt that this is the norm for the United States as jeevey had described it, to me.
OK, I think we're all on the same page, then. . I'm always afraid I'm not being as articulate as I'd like to be, so it wouldn't shock me if something I said was unclear.
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Old 03-24-2014, 02:35 PM   #324
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Bono_212, you're right that I'm making generalizations based on observation and experience--which outside of research is all that most of us can do. I'm also using lots of qualifiers like "it seems like"; "often"; "in many contexts"; and "there is a narrative". I'm making observations about broad cultural attitudes, not making universal claims. The point in what I was saying is that when we see a bad belief or religion we often minimize the fact that the problem may originate in the doctrine itself.

The fact is that WBC is a church, is Baptist, and the gross things they do are a religious problem--it grows quite logically out of their theology. I think the urge to say that it's not about religion, that they are not a church and so on, is a mistake. It's important to acknowledge that they are and then tend to the problem from there.
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Old 03-24-2014, 05:57 PM   #325
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Bono_212, you're right that I'm making generalizations based on observation and experience--which outside of research is all that most of us can do. I'm also using lots of qualifiers like "it seems like"; "often"; "in many contexts"; and "there is a narrative". I'm making observations about broad cultural attitudes, not making universal claims. The point in what I was saying is that when we see a bad belief or religion we often minimize the fact that the problem may originate in the doctrine itself.

The fact is that WBC is a church, is Baptist, and the gross things they do are a religious problem--it grows quite logically out of their theology. I think the urge to say that it's not about religion, that they are not a church and so on, is a mistake. It's important to acknowledge that they are and then tend to the problem from there.

I believe religion, faith, and spirituality is what others make of it. If someone is looking to find meaning and peace, they could find it in religion. If someone is looking to feel superior to others, they'll find it in religion. It's all about the mindset of the individual when they read a religious text or enter a house of worship. The problem isn't religion itself but how someone interprets whatever is taught. I find it condescending for anyone to say religion automatically makes good people bad when the opposite can occur.

Also, Jeevey, you may be referring to your own experiences and use non-generalizing statements, but your tone comes across as broad.
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Old 03-24-2014, 06:12 PM   #326
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I'm sorry, maybe I'm misunderstanding something. Have I said that religions automatically makes good people bad? I'm not trying to be incendiary here, I honestly don't know what your comment is referring to.

Also about this:
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The problem isn't religion itself but how someone interprets whatever is taught.
Do you think it's impossible that a religious teaching be inherently bad? If for example there were a sacred scripture that said children are under the authority of their parents, do not achieve full personhood until adulthood and must categorically submit to whatever punishment their parents thought proper, thereby legitimizing all child abuse by parents, would that your statement still be true?
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Old 03-24-2014, 06:32 PM   #327
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I'm sorry, maybe I'm misunderstanding something. Have I said that religions automatically makes good people bad? I'm not trying to be incendiary here
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Do you think it's impossible that a religious teaching be inherently bad?
I don't know, it does come across like you have your mind pretty well made up.
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Old 03-24-2014, 07:33 PM   #328
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I don't know, it does come across like you have your mind pretty well made up.

This. You really contradicted yourself there, Jeevey.
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Old 03-24-2014, 07:38 PM   #329
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I don't often agree with jeevey, but I really don't understand what you guys (bono_212 and Pearl) are taking issue with here? I absolutely understand her point and I don't see any contradictions.
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Old 03-24-2014, 07:52 PM   #330
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I don't often agree with jeevey, but I really don't understand what you guys (bono_212 and Pearl) are taking issue with here? I absolutely understand her point and I don't see any contradictions.

OK, she is saying religious teaching can be bad. 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.

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? Granted, I label my beliefs as simply faith rather than what an institution tells me. It is hard to acknowledge the lousy parts of a teaching when you can't not acknowledge the parts that you've benefitted greatly from. But then again, the Bible was written by people, and what my heart/soul/spirit/gut says is another matter.
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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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