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Thread: Replacing religion

  1. #1 Replacing religion 
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    Can religion ever be replaced? Simple question, but maybe not a simple answer. I believe that religion is part of the human psyche, and consequently cannot be replaced. By religion I mean a method of morality and/or worship. Therefore any attempt by scientists to rubbish religion is doomed to failure. Humans minds would have to be somehow reprogrammed away from it, but that's not going to happen is it? What would you replace churches, mosques and temples with? Learning centres for evolution by natural selection, perhaps, but these would not be popular. Does secularism really have a morality? If it does, then why is it ineffective? Even if the morals of religion are sometimes a bit dubious, it's still better than teaching no morality. In parts of the world where historically religion has been absent, the population has all too often resorted to barbarism. I think that religious dogma is more likely to survive to the end of human time than scientific fact, because the latter will never be universally understood.


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    Morality does not come from religion. It comes from our evolution as pack animals which exist in troops. Here's the short version:

    Those humans who went against the group rules and procedures were ostracized, and hence lost access to resources such as food and potential mates. Over time, those humans who went against the expectations of the group and got thrown out of the group reproduced less than those humans who behaved in accordance with the group rules and expectations. Those who followed the rules benefited from the protection, access to food, and access to potential mates within the group, and had more offspring than those who did not.

    In short, morals come from our evolution as pack animals. Those who were immoral faced more difficulty in surviving and reproducing than those who acted within the morality of the group. Through time, those who were more inclined to be moral were more successful reproductively.

    Btw... the same thing can be seen in wolf packs. The wolf who does not act in accordance with the expectations of the group alpha is shunned from the group, and a lone wolf cannot be as successful hunting and breeding as can wolves who remain a part of the larger pack/collective.





    Also, the gathering of people is less about worship or churches and more about being social and sharing common worldviews and stories with one another. It's easy to replace that... Just be social, and do so in an environment which values rationality, reason, and the quest for knowledge. We don't need churches for that. We don't need fairy tales written by barely literate tribal peoples in the desert during the bronze age for that... We just need to reinforce those values which have merit, and ostracize those which do not (such as faith in the absence of evidence).

    We do have certain genetic predispositions toward religion and belief in deities, but those same predispositions can be tweaked by our culture to value scientifically valid explanations for nature and the formation of communities around pro-social values.


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    Can religion be replaced?
    - It is likely that it will stay a long time. But it also adapts to fit the population changing norms. Christianity 500 years ago is different from Christianity 200 years ago which also is different from Christianity today.

    I believe that religion is part of the human psyche.
    - I see no evidence.

    What would you replace churches, mosques and temples with?
    - Charity services, Community services, Children playground etc. May be a forum to discuss ethics.

    Does secularism really have a morality? If it does, then why is it ineffective?
    - What sample do you use, against which benchmark, to come to this conclusion?

    In parts of the world where historically religion has been absent, the population has all too often resorted to barbarism.
    - The absence of law and order most often turned country into anarchy. But which country has abandoned religion and subsequently resorted to barbarism?

    I think that religious dogma is more likely to survive to the end of human time than scientific fact, because the latter will never be universally understood
    - Luckily we still have some who understand that fact. Or else we will not be able to enjoy the benefits around us, which are brought out by science and technology.
    If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism
    -Albert Einstein
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Morality does not come from religion. It comes from our evolution as pack animals which exist in troops.
    I don't think it's this simple. Human society evolves not only by genes, but also by traditions. So if you dump the traditions, then you have perhaps disrupted the "DNA" of societal evolution.
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  6. #5 Re: Replacing religion 
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    In parts of the world where historically religion has been absent, the population has all too often resorted to barbarism.
    Ethnocentric nonsense
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by prasit
    It is likely that it will stay a long time. But it also adapts to fit the population changing norms. Christianity 500 years ago is different from Christianity 200 years ago which also is different from Christianity today.
    Christianity moves with the times to be relevant for the current age. I'm not sure about other religions though.
    Quote Originally Posted by prasit
    I believe that religion is part of the human psyche.
    - I see no evidence.
    The evidence is there when you walk along just about any main street. In fact I would say its been part of the psyche since man became a 'fully conscious' being. Hence the reason why religion is not found among 'sub-consciously' or 'instinctively-acting' other life forms.
    Quote Originally Posted by prasit
    What would you replace churches, mosques and temples with?
    - Charity services, Community services, Children playground etc. May be a forum to discuss ethics.
    This sounds just like religion to me!
    Quote Originally Posted by prasit
    Does secularism really have a morality? If it does, then why is it ineffective?
    - What sample do you use, against which benchmark, to come to this conclusion?
    How about Dawkins' God Delusion and his replacement for the 10 Commandments?
    I doubt if the world is going to change to his way of thinking.
    Quote Originally Posted by prasit
    In parts of the world where historically religion has been absent, the population has all too often resorted to barbarism.
    - The absence of law and order most often turned country into anarchy. But which country has abandoned religion and subsequently resorted to barbarism?
    They haven't, that's the point, but at least I'm not aware of any state that has embraced religion has gone back to say, cannibalism.
    Quote Originally Posted by prasit
    I think that religious dogma is more likely to survive to the end of human time than scientific fact, because the latter will never be universally understood
    - Luckily we still have some who understand that fact. Or else we will not be able to enjoy the benefits around us, which are brought out by science and technology.
    I tend to agree, but ultimately science could stall and even fade away if its promises are not kept. If I live that long I'll look out for the truth of Michio Kaku's Visions. I seem to recall that some scientists 30 years ago were predicting that we'd all have helicopters and even submarines by now.
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    Quote Originally Posted by prasit
    I believe that religion is part of the human psyche.
    - I see no evidence.
    Actually, we do seem to be predisposed toward religious tendencies and belief in deities. I discussed this at length at another site if you're really curious to learn more about the idea. I chose not to repeat it here since there's so much data available regarding the "evolution of religion and belief."

    Either way, we're also predisposed to love sugar, salt, and fats... but not everyone is obese. In much the same way, we are predisposed toward belief and religious practice, yet many of us are atheists. We can use our rational minds to overcome our baser tendencies, so keep that in mind.



    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Human society evolves not only by genes, but also by traditions.
    I agree, but religion is a subset of tradition, not the other way around.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Human society evolves not only by genes, but also by traditions.
    I agree, but religion is a subset of tradition, not the other way around.
    All right. I don't think I said or implied otherwise. Would you agree then that the means of passing behavior traits to the next generation is much different between humans and wolves? And that consequently the behavior of humans could rapidly change in a way that wolves would not?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Would you agree then that the means of passing behavior traits to the next generation is much different between humans and wolves?
    No, not really. There are FAR more similarities than differences, which is especially apparent when you look to the studies of young children (infants and toddlers) which pull out some of our human predispositions and tendencies. Sure, culture and tradition play a role, but there are no meaningful differences in this regard between humans and other non-human animals AFAIC.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Would you agree then that the means of passing behavior traits to the next generation is much different between humans and wolves?
    No, not really. There are FAR more similarities than differences, which is especially apparent when you look to the studies of young children (infants and toddlers) which pull out some of our human predispositions and tendencies. Sure, culture and tradition play a role, but there are no meaningful differences in this regard between humans and other non-human animals AFAIC.
    If you are trying to say that kids instinctively know right from wrong, without being taught by their elders, I just don't think that's a reasonable opinion.
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    ox wrote
    What would you replace churches, mosques and temples with?
    - Charity services, Community services, Children playground etc. May be a forum to discuss ethics.

    This sounds just like religion to me!
    The definition of religion almost always includes spiritual being. If you have different definition please provide it.

    They haven't, that's the point, but at least I'm not aware of any state that has embraced religion has gone back to say, cannibalism.
    You have not given evidence to support your prior claim that the absence of religion leads to barbarism.


    I tend to agree, but ultimately science could stall and even fade away if its promises are not kept.
    You are referring to scientific theory and hypothesis. Scientific approach to explore knowledge does not change.
    If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    If you are trying to say that kids instinctively know right from wrong, without being taught by their elders, I just don't think that's a reasonable opinion.
    Well, I understand your feelings, but there are a lot of layers to that onion, Harold. For example, many of the things which make up that which is "right" and "wrong" are culturally dependent, and (as you rightly suggest) DO need to be taught. However, there are a great many other things which children seem to know without being taught (and studies have confirmed this time and again).

    So, I'm not arguing for one or the other, but both... and also for the fact that we have more similarities with non-human animals than differences. I really can't see any opinion being more reasonable than that, but YMMV.
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    YMMV? And btw, all pack animals learn the same basic way; by proxy of it's fellow pack members and experience. What are humans but just another pack animal?
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
    -Plato

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    YMMV?
    Your mileage may vary.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    And btw, all pack animals learn the same basic way; by proxy of it's fellow pack members and experience. What are humans but just another pack animal?
    Yes, I agree... Fully, actually. To summarize:


    I argued against the inherent claim that religion is the source of morals by suggesting that they are more a result of of our evolution as pack animals.

    Harold suggested that I oversimplified (which I did, and I stipulated that when making the original post), and that tradition plays a role concurrently with genetics. I agree with that (which I also said).

    Harold then asked if I would agree that the passing of behaviors to the next generation happens much differently for humans than it does for wolves (and other animals). I responded that I did NOT agree, and that I found FAR more similarities than differences between humans and non-human animals in this regard.

    I further elaborated that much of our understanding of morals is passed genetically, and that this has been demonstrated in experiments with young children and also infants.

    Harold then responded that he found it unreasonable to suggest that children know right from wrong without being taught.

    I said that it's both. Some things we seem to know instinctively, and others need to be taught. I expanded on this by suggesting that there are very few absolute concepts of right and wrong (like murder) and most are much more culture specific... contingent on the society in which the child gets raised.

    I then attempted to clarify that I was not arguing for one or the other (nature OR nurture), but was actually arguing both, and that this seems to me to be the most reasonable position of all (despite the fact that we are now far removed from my original comment that religion is not the source of morality, but our evolution as pack animals IS).


    I was not entirely sure where the confusion was, so I hope the above clears it up.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    What would you replace churches, mosques and temples with? Learning centres for evolution by natural selection, perhaps, but these would not be popular. Does secularism really have a morality?
    Some Sundays ago I passed a service empying out. The old building was nestled off the main roads in a quiet residential neighbourhood. Most patrons were retirees, with a few restless younger folk attached. They milled around outside in their conservative Sunday finest chatting about the Moral or the weather, some regrouping for tea or whatever. Most attend these services, well, religiously, and enough charitable contributions flow in to keep the place going. It's a stage-theater.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    I was not entirely sure where the confusion was, so I hope the above clears it up.
    The only point I was trying to make is that the teaching of religion has been traditionally a big part of how moral codes are passed from one generation to the next. If you think that is equivalent to the assortment of yips, barks, growls, snaps, etc. that wolves use to communicate, then there is nothing much I can say.

    It is very easy for a religious person to explain to their kids why a certain behavior is wrong, and we are all familiar with how that takes place. The atheist parent has a bit of a problem, I think. Something is wrong, just because it is, or because other people will disapprove, or because the correct behavior will get them farther in life, or whatever.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    I was not entirely sure where the confusion was, so I hope the above clears it up.
    The only point I was trying to make is that the teaching of religion has been traditionally a big part of how moral codes are passed from one generation to the next. If you think that is equivalent to the assortment of yips, barks, growls, snaps, etc. that wolves use to communicate, then there is nothing much I can say.

    It is very easy for a religious person to explain to their kids why a certain behavior is wrong, and we are all familiar with how that takes place. The atheist parent has a bit of a problem, I think. Something is wrong, just because it is, or because other people will disapprove, or because the correct behavior will get them farther in life, or whatever.
    I think that is a big part of religion. Being able to explain things in much simpler terms. It is much easier to say "Killing someone is bad, because if you do God will punish you." Then, "Killing someone is wrong, because society decrees that it is bad, because you wouldn't want someone to kill you, so you shouldn't kill other people." This is especially true for science when it comes to the masses. "How did the Earth form?" Most people probably wouldn't be able to tell you the scientific theory for how the Earth formed, so they would simply go with "God created it."

    Most of religion is likely a convenience thing. People don't like to think they are small nearly insignificant beings on the grand scale of the universe, so they invent a way to make themselves important. Sounds very similar to paranoid schizophrenia to me, people thinking they are more important then they actually are.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haasum
    Sounds very similar to paranoid schizophrenia to me, people thinking they are more important then they actually are.
    Now, really, can't we just have an objective discussion about these things? Seems like every topic on the religion forum boils down to the venting of spleens.
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    What would you replace churches, mosques and temples with? Learning centres for evolution by natural selection, perhaps, but these would not be popular. Does secularism really have a morality?
    Some Sundays ago I passed a service empying out. The old building was nestled off the main roads in a quiet residential neighbourhood. Most patrons were retirees, with a few restless younger folk attached. They milled around outside in their conservative Sunday finest chatting about the Moral or the weather, some regrouping for tea or whatever. Most attend these services, well, religiously, and enough charitable contributions flow in to keep the place going. It's a stage-theater.
    You sound a bit like Dawkins here. Yes, some people do treat the church as a social club, while others really are of a spiritual nature. Some people are happy to give, for whatever reason, while others are reluctant. Churches need funds to exist, and to help with charity work.
    I think the question is really one of life's central theorem, evolution by natural selection. I mean, does anyone doubt that religion is subject to n/s? Some ancient religions are extinct. Some more struggle for existence. The Catholic Church is the world's biggest because it resonates more true in the current age, and appears to have more of an age mix. Think in terms of a traveller. He is exploring a geographical area. A student is exploring his mind. A truly religious person is exploring his soul. You can't generalise when it comes to religion. A person may be deluded into thinking that the Second Coming is imminent, as with the Millerite movements, while with others this is not an issue. So just as animal species are subject to variation, so is religion. I think this answers the old question as to why there are so many different divisions within each religion. The answer then is evolution by n/s. Has Dawkins ever reasoned this?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    The atheist parent has a bit of a problem, I think. Something is wrong, just because it is, or because other people will disapprove, or because the correct behavior will get them farther in life, or whatever.
    I am not an athesit, but an agnostic. I never invoked mention of God at any time in teaching my chldren about moral and proper behaviour. I never found this difficult in any form or fashion at any time. I don't understand why there would be any difficulty associated with this. For the record my children are now in their twenties and are responsible - and as far as I can tell - ethical members of society.
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    I'm an agnostic-atheist (as is my 7 year old daughter) and we've found no difficulty in teaching morality. Indeed, I find it far easier to teach without the burden of religious superstition since I'm not bound by doctrine. I can teach my daughter that equality is a humanist quality and a value without having to justify contradictions of various scriptures which say otherwise. I need not worry that my condemnation of violence would likewise find scriptural contradiction. And so on.

    I also find it easier to explain the actions of those who claim to be religious, yet do bad things. Something my daughter has noticed and has questioned.

    And, as godless as she is, she's probably the best behaved and most considerate member of her 2nd grade class.

    I think its also important to point out that my daughter is atheist and godless in the sense that she hasn't embraced any belief in a deity and not through my insistence or indoctrination. In fact, I've allowed her to go to church events with her friends in the past and I stress to her that she is under no obligation to believe as I do about religion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    If you think that is equivalent to the assortment of yips, barks, growls, snaps, etc. that wolves use to communicate, then there is nothing much I can say.
    We seeem to be cut from a rather different cloth, you and me, Harold. I have studied for years psychology and biology, and I accept the astounding similarities across all animals... both in terms of abilities and approaches to survival and teaching of skills to offspring. My sense from you in many of these threads is that you cannot help but to rationalize your faith, and that you often find it important to place humans on some sort of pedestal... As if we are somehow better than and distinct from all other life (that's just my impression, and I could certainly be wrong, but either way...).

    I'm okay with that. It's an opinion, and it has merit in various contexts. I (again) find more similarities than differences between the approaches taken by humans and non-human animals, and choose to focus on that, but it's an opinion so really doesn't matter if we disagree. That's totally cool. I just ask that you please try to refrain from belittling my points, and appealing to ridicule. If you do not understand something I say, then please ask me for clarification. If you disagree with something I say, then please explain why, and where you think my approach is invalid. I'm confident we can find common ground and understanding if we approach one another in this manner.



    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    It is very easy for a religious person to explain to their kids why a certain behavior is wrong, and we are all familiar with how that takes place. The atheist parent has a bit of a problem, I think.
    In it's essence, this is an argument from incredulity. As others have already pointed out, just because you struggle to understand how atheists might explain morality to their kids, there really is no problem, and many non-theists find it remarkably simple to do this. IMO, this comes from the fact that morality is not a religious concept, but a social one... and we are a social species. There are simply too many holes in the idea that religion is the source of morality for any reasonable and rational person to accept that assertion as valid.


    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Something is wrong, just because it is...
    Again, there is no need for strawmen such as this. That is hardly a fair or accurate observation of how non-theists discuss morality and right/wrong with their children.
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    Ophiolite and Skinwalker,

    I don't doubt what you say in the least, but that does not necessarily invalidate my argument. People differ as to their parenting skills and kids are all different and react differently to the same treatment.

    While a parent may be satisfied with his offspring's outcome, there could still be subtle changes. Perhaps the message delivered was a little bit more nuanced, and delivered with less moral conviction than by somebody who thought it was carved in stone. Maybe after a few generations the message gets changed even more. And while the atheist himself may be happy with the changes, the overall effect on society may be unpredictable. Maybe said effects will show up only under some stress to the society. I don't think anybody really knows.

    We tend to think that atheism is some new development, but I think somewhere, quite possibly, atheistic societies have sprung up and died out, in the way that species spring up and die out from time to time. So what we are mainly left with are the religious ones that benefited from some survival advantages of their beliefs.

    inow,

    When I said that the means of passing behavior traits to the next generation is much different between humans and wolves, I was only stating the obvious, and it seems like you were disagreeing just to be contrary. It's no more controversial than if I said that the means of getting food was different between humans and wolves. It says nothing about my beliefs regarding religion, which you have no idea about because I haven't said, nor any purported hierarchy of humans over wolves.

    I don't see how you would take offense to what I said, or call it a straw man argument. It is quite common for parents to say things like "It's wrong just because it is" to their kids, whether they are theists or atheists, especially if the subject is something like etiquette, rather than some major transgression. Example: "Johnny, get your elbows off the table." "Why mom?" "Because it's not polite."

    Now, if you have some different ideas about how atheists do or should provide moral instruction to their children, why not just say what that is?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    it seems like you were disagreeing just to be contrary.
    If you'll forgive the jest and obvious humor of this reply, I must say that I disagree. Two of your closer friends/fellow staff members here also seem to have had problems with your comment(s). It might be worth further reflection.

    Either way, we're now rather tangent from the original intent from this thread, and more so from my original response to it. Morality is a trait resulting from us having evolved as social creatures, and the argument that it comes from religion is inaccurate and silly. That was the only point I intended to make with my contribution to this thread.
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    Godless societies exist today. And they flourish. In fact, their social behavior indexes are positively correlated to their lack of religiosity and exhibit higher morality than societies that have high levels of religiosity.
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    I believe that the majority of beneficial moral codes are partially instinctual. What religion simply does is provide an extra incentive, but the same core values are standard. One might argue that for the majority of people on the planet the constant battle for respect and self worth (a mostly personal battle fought with some of the tools community offers) can steer their behaviour towards thinly veiled selfish aims, but our loyalties towards community are instinctual as well. In this way, explaining moral codes in terms of our in-built empathic tendencies (explained in terms of how one might feel in the same situation, in order to aid conceptualization) can be just as powerful as explaining them in religious terms and be even more adaptable in real world situations, since the moral tool kit would be born more out of understanding than simple dogma.

    This requires a level of understanding by the parent as well though and this is where religion has found its footing IMO. Moral codes are and have always been to a certain degree dictated by communal authority figures, who always have a mix of personal and social reasons for advocating certain behaviours. These leaders (being products of the working system themselves), often with a mix of conscious and subconscious intention, use religion to attain their personal and societal imperatives because of its perceived power. Since this inclination towards being authority figures is universal among humans, we use the same tactics in each level of society we find ourselves having a bit of authority in. So IMO the ingrained religious flavour of societies are to a very large extent the result of widespread appeals to social conformity by authority figures on various levels.

    The moral codes most people will agree upon are all (whether they know it or not) based on social unity, harmony, efficacy, survival and empathy, rather than anything else. Eliminating religion, when done correctly, can only add more understanding into the mix, not take anything of value away.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    it seems like you were disagreeing just to be contrary.
    If you'll forgive the jest and obvious humor of this reply, I must say that I disagree. Two of your closer friends/fellow staff members here also seem to have had problems with your comment(s). It might be worth further reflection.
    I didn't see anybody else disagree that humans are different than wolves.
    Either way, we're now rather tangent from the original intent from this thread, and more so from my original response to it.
    No, I don't think we are tangent. The thread is about replacing religion with something else, and we are all discussing that.
    Morality is a trait resulting from us having evolved as social creatures, and the argument that it comes from religion is inaccurate and silly. That was the only point I intended to make with my contribution to this thread.
    No one else but you is discussing the origin of morality, but only how it is transmitted from generation to generation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    Godless societies exist today. And they flourish. In fact, their social behavior indexes are positively correlated to their lack of religiosity and exhibit higher morality than societies that have high levels of religiosity.
    How many generations have the societies been godless and what stresses have they withstood?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    [I didn't see anybody else disagree that humans are different than wolves.
    I shall disagree on two counts.
    Firstly, I think the grammatically correct construction is different from wolves, but I could be wrong.
    Secondly, I think wolves and humans are similar in many respects. That is doubtless one of the reasons we were able to domesticate them. Or consider that the term Alpha male, often applied in human psychology originated, I think, from the study of wolf packs.
    No one else but you is discussing the origin of morality, but only how it is transmitted from generation to generation.
    If morality emerges from the social character of humans rather than from an externally delivered religion then it is likely that an agnostic/atheistic approach to transmitting that morality would be the more efficient one (and vice versa). Hence the origin of morality is intimately tied to the question of transmission and is implicit in all such discussions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    Godless societies exist today. And they flourish. In fact, their social behavior indexes are positively correlated to their lack of religiosity and exhibit higher morality than societies that have high levels of religiosity.
    Please list some of these godless societies. I don't think that you can suppress religion for long, for example communist Russia.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    [I didn't see anybody else disagree that humans are different than wolves.
    I shall disagree on two counts.
    Firstly, I think the grammatically correct construction is different from wolves, but I could be wrong.
    It's an American thing.
    Secondly, I think wolves and humans are similar in many respects. That is doubtless one of the reasons we were able to domesticate them. Or consider that the term Alpha male, often applied in human psychology originated, I think, from the study of wolf packs.
    My point was that people's behavior is determined substantially by cultural factors, and wolves mainly by instinct. So, are you disagreeing with that?
    No one else but you is discussing the origin of morality, but only how it is transmitted from generation to generation.
    If morality emerges from the social character of humans rather than from an externally delivered religion then it is likely that an agnostic/atheistic approach to transmitting that morality would be the more efficient one (and vice versa). Hence the origin of morality is intimately tied to the question of transmission and is implicit in all such discussions.
    But who claimed that the origin was religion?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    My point was that people's behavior is determined substantially by cultural factors, and wolves mainly by instinct. So, are you disagreeing with that?
    Somewhat and ultimately completely. The cultural character has been determined by instinctive drives. The precise behaviour has been filtered through the cultural overlay, but the source remains instinctive. I may open a door for a lady rather than swing a wooden club in a cartoon manner, but either way I'm just trying to get my leg over.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    But who claimed that the origin was religion?
    It was implicit in several posts. If religion is not the origin of morality then it has no superior ability to transmit morality and will arguably be inferior at the task.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    Godless societies exist today. And they flourish. In fact, their social behavior indexes are positively correlated to their lack of religiosity and exhibit higher morality than societies that have high levels of religiosity.
    Please list some of these godless societies. I don't think that you can suppress religion for long, for example communist Russia.
    The religion isn't being "suppressed" in these societies at all. Indeed, several of them have state sponsored religion. Denmark, Sweden, Japan, Norway .... the list is larger but these are perhaps the most godless in the sense that the majority of the populations cite "none," "agnostic," or "atheist" when polled for religious affiliation. Many more who state "catholic" or "lutheran" do so out of cultural tradition and admit to little or no religious involvement or personal belief.

    These nations each have freedom of religion aside from the fact that several have state-sponsored religion -meaning that the clergy receive their paychecks from the state rather than the church. However, immigrants aren't required to join state churches as far as I'm aware. Several of these nations have growing populations of Muslims in the larger cities and, interestingly enough, the rates of crime are growing in these neighborhoods.

    So, religion isn't being "suppressed" at all. Indeed, its very likely the other way around: religion has been suppressing society; bending it to its immoral and unethical practices for millennia.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    Several of these nations have growing populations of Muslims in the larger cities and, interestingly enough, the rates of crime are growing in these neighborhoods.
    So, religion isn't being "suppressed" at all. Indeed, its very likely the other way around: religion has been suppressing society; bending it to its immoral and unethical practices for millennia.
    I think this is too sweeping a statement, and I detect a hint of Islamaphobia. I live in an immigrant city and I believe that it's safe to walk the streets. Crime will exist in just about any society. You can't tar everyone with the same brush. I have felt safer travelling in Muslim countries than in the USA. In states where you have little option but to be a member of the religious tribe there may be even be less crime, but at the expense of liberty. Religion may have suppressed science, and indeed in some religions it still does. In the whole history of mankind, arguably it has only done so by about a century. My original point was that if you are going to replace religion, then what with?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    My point was that people's behavior is determined substantially by cultural factors, and wolves mainly by instinct. So, are you disagreeing with that?
    Somewhat and ultimately completely. The cultural character has been determined by instinctive drives. The precise behaviour has been filtered through the cultural overlay, but the source remains instinctive. I may open a door for a lady rather than swing a wooden club in a cartoon manner, but either way I'm just trying to get my leg over.
    Well, this is great. Religion doesn't matter, people would do the same things regardless. Then I wonder what all the pissing and moaning about religion on this forum is all about.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    But who claimed that the origin was religion?
    It was implicit in several posts. If religion is not the origin of morality then it has no superior ability to transmit morality and will arguably be inferior at the task.
    No, I don't agree with that. Someone who believes that the commandments were chiseled in stone by God and are broken under pain of hell might tend to behave differently than someone who does not. And what about the suicide bombers? Would those people behave the same if they did not believe in an afterlife?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Then I wonder what all the pissing and moaning about religion on this forum is all about.
    I am not one of the ones who piss and moan about religion. Those who do believe that people would behave better without religion. As you see I do not subscribe to that view.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    My original point was that if you are going to replace religion, then what with?
    Oh... I dunno... Secular rationality and reason?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    But who claimed that the origin [of morality] was religion?
    As mentioned already by others here, it was implicit in many posts, and my reading of the OP shows it to be explicitly suggested from the start.

    Here's the bit I found to be relevant:


    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Does secularism really have a morality? If it does, then why is it ineffective? Even if the morals of religion are sometimes a bit dubious, it's still better than teaching no morality. In parts of the world where historically religion has been absent, the population has all too often resorted to barbarism.

    I would also like to remind readers that the OP has failed to address the request for even a single example of when the absence of religion led to barbarism.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    I would also like to remind readers that the OP has failed to address the request for even a single example of when the absence of religion led to barbarism.
    How about pre-Christian Rome. Crucifixion, decimation, the barbarous use of animals for entertainment. (yawn). Unless, of course you believe in the sort of paganism that the Romans originally practiced was really religion, but nowadays I don't think we'd class it that way.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    I would also like to remind readers that the OP has failed to address the request for even a single example of when the absence of religion led to barbarism.
    How about pre-Christian Rome. Crucifixion, decimation, the barbarous use of animals for entertainment. (yawn). Unless, of course you believe in the sort of paganism that the Romans originally practiced was really religion, but nowadays I don't think we'd class it that way.
    This response fails on several fronts. First, pre-Christian Romans were, in fact, mostly religious... Ergo, this does not meet the standard set by your OP suggesting that the "absence of religion" leads to barbarism.

    Second, you have yet to demonstrate that their activities were the direct result of... were CAUSED by... a lack of religion (or, in your specific example, by a lack of Christianity).

    Your claim is completely specious, without merit, and disconnected from reality. You asserted that the lack of religion itself led to barbarism. You can either support that claim legitimately or concede that you are unable.
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    Extant religion has triumphed over the darkness of the past. The suppression of religion in Stalinist Russia led to the death of more people than by the Nazis.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    The suppression of religion in Stalinist Russia led to the death of more people than by the Nazis.
    Oh yay... The old Stalin/Atheism canard. We seriously need an FAQ on "stupid creationist arguments" that people should be smart enough to never repeat again... Maybe we can get it to popup automatically when creationists hit the submit button and mention the name "Stalin."

    Stalin's atheism was not the part of his worldview that inspired mass murder, but the worldview of the state as a de facto god with Stalin as the almost supernatural head of its church. Even if Stalin was a devout atheist, he did not commit his tyranny in the name of religion or because he claimed to defend reason. Stalin was simply a megalomaniac and a political opportunist. Stalin was not motivated by atheism; if he was motivated by an “ism”, it was Communism. While communism is an ostensibly atheistic political philosophy, atheism is not inherently communistic.

    I know logic and religion are not always friends, but let me explain this more clearly. Your entire point is a nonsequitur... a fallacy of false cause. Your argument goes like this:

    X is a person who believes in A (ex - Stalin is an atheist who believes in the absence of God)

    X is involved in an activity or commits a crime (Stalin orders mass murder/genocide)

    Therefore A is the cause for X to be involved in the activity (Therefore atheism is the cause for those mass murders Stalin committed).


    Errmm... That makes no sense... But it's PRECISELY what you are arguing here.


    Let's look at a few more examples to see if this logic holds:

    Y strongly believes in democracy.

    Y is a heroine addict.

    Belief in democracy is the cause of heroine addiction.


    Nope... That doesn't make sense, either... but it uses the same logic structure you've put forth here in this thread. Let's try another... This is fun:


    X is a white american in pre-civil war Mississippi who believes in Christianity.

    X supports slavery and has a large number of black slaves.

    Christianity is responsible for slavery and slave trade.


    Wow... It doesn't work there, either. How odd. I wonder why? Here's an idea:


    Stalin committed these mass murders because of political reasons and to gain political power or to further a demented and false ideology which were not influenced by his belief (or lack thereof) in god.


    So... again... You're oh for two. You asserted that the lack of religion itself led to barbarism. You can either support that claim legitimately or concede that you are unable.
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    No no, it is because Stalin was an atheist that he commited those atrocities. You see, he didn't know the "love thy neighbor" commandment, and thus didn't know moral codes. He perpetrated the genocides of his people because he had no morals as handed down by the bible.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
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    An argument could be made that had he wanted to justify his genocides... to find some sort of sanction for them... then the bible would actually be a pretty good place to look.

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/god_cana.htm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    No no, it is because Stalin was an atheist that he commited those atrocities. You see, he didn't know the "love thy neighbor" commandment, and thus didn't know moral codes. He perpetrated the genocides of his people because he had no morals as handed down by the bible.
    You mean like when the Jews slaughtered the Canaanites(even women and children)*and countless others in the name God? Don't be silly. Did the Crusaders love their neighbours?

    Edit: Uh, sorry, I thought I was quoting Ox.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    I believe the study of genocides is an important and ongoing area of research.

    The lessons of history seem to support the idea that both atheists and theists can participate in genocide or mass killing.

    This is an important area of study since we are still in the nuclear age.
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    Why don't the Russian people clamour for a new Stalin? Since the breakup of communism many have welcomed back religion. It was the obvious thing to fill the void. I would urge all atheists to keep an open mind. In an atheistic totalitarian state, religion needs to be suppressed. In a free theistic state, atheism is tolerated.
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    In an atheistic totalitarian state, religion needs to be suppressed. In a free theistic state, atheism is tolerated.
    Kind of like... midieval Europe? Iraq? Afghanistan? Sudan? Because.. well, they are theistic states and atheism is 'not' tolerated. In fact, Atheism is the least trusted minority group amongst people who claim to have a religion. You are also making a hasty generalization. An atheistic state isn't necessarily on par with Stalins regime.
    "Democracy is a problem because it treats everyone as equals." - Betty Fischer

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    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Why don't the Russian people clamour for a new Stalin? Since the breakup of communism many have welcomed back religion. It was the obvious thing to fill the void. I would urge all atheists to keep an open mind. In an atheistic totalitarian state, religion needs to be suppressed. In a free theistic state, atheism is tolerated.
    Verzen already touched on this (and provided clear examples which demonstrate your final assertion to be plainly false), but just to add... There is a HUGE difference between forced intolerance of religious practice in a nation and people naturally rejecting deities and religious practice based on rationality and reason. You do your argument a great disservice by continually equating the two as the same.

    Also, per your "keep an open mind" comment, please explore this short vid:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T69TOuqaqXI
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    Theistic states hardly "tolerate" atheism, because it is a direct contradiction to what they want everyone to believe. When you have mass amounts of people that don't believe what you want them to, it just sounds like a situation ripe for rebellion. So the logical thing for these theistic nations to do, is to suppress atheism and any that isn't the theistic nation's idea of the right religion.

    I doubt if you go to Afghanistan, Iran, or any of the middle east countries over there, which are all dominated by religion, you would find even 1% of the populations being atheist. Even if there are atheists there, it is unlikely they will be open about it like we can be here, because as soon as they do, they are a "traitor to the faith."

    I heard a news story where a Muslim family came over to America, their daughter later converted to Christianity, and ran away, refusing to go back home to Ohio. She claimed that if she did, her parents would have to perform a "mercy" killing because she left the faith. She said that they are told to do that by the Koran itself. Now I don't know if it is true that they would have to kill her, or that they would kill her, or that it even says that in the book, I have not read the Koran so I really don't know. But the fact that she would even think they would do something like that, is pretty telling in my opinion. Does that sound like they would "tolerate" atheism? Christianity and Muslims have the same God.

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/2009/08/wh...ghter-bac.html

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/...=related_story
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    Harvard did a survey of basic ethical questions (the old variations of the person on the tracks and the options you have). They found no significant difference between the answers of gays, straights, men, women, atheist, age, and any religious group. It seems that within a single cultural group, Americans in this instance, there doesn't seem to be any correlation between atheism or religion with ethical decisions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haasum
    Theistic states hardly "tolerate" atheism, because it is a direct contradiction to what they want everyone to believe. When you have mass amounts of people that don't believe what you want them to, it just sounds like a situation ripe for rebellion. So the logical thing for these theistic nations to do, is to suppress atheism and any that isn't the theistic nation's idea of the right religion.

    I doubt if you go to Afghanistan, Iran, or any of the middle east countries over there, which are all dominated by religion, you would find even 1% of the populations being atheist. Even if there are atheists there, it is unlikely they will be open about it like we can be here, because as soon as they do, they are a "traitor to the faith."
    I did actually say 'free theistic states'. In the case of Afghanistan and Iran, both of which I have visited in the past, I would say that although Islam is dominant there, it does not mean that other religions and even atheism are not tolerated. It's a bit like the West, where Christianity is taught in schools, but it doesn't mean that everyone is Christian. A good example is Malaysia. This is a Muslim state, but there are plenty of churches and temples where Hinduism and Buddhism are practiced. I remember when arriving in Kota Bahru in the north east of peninsular Malaysia I saw a big sign which said 'Welcome to Kota Bahru - The Islamic City'. My first thought was 'okay, so there's no alcohol'. In fact it was freely for sale there. You simply can't generalise.
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    Okay... but there's a difference between 'Islam dominant' and 'toleration'. They kill an open atheist on the spot in those states, with EXTREME prejudice.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
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    Iran a free theistic state?

    From wiki:

    On 9 June 2009, the singer Mohsen Namjoo was sentenced in absentia to a five-year jail term for ridiculing the Quran in a song. In 2008, Namjoo had apologized for the song, which he claimed was never meant for public release.[6]

    In March 2009, Iranian blogger Omid Mirsayafi died in prison while serving a 30-month sentence for propaganda against the state and criticism of religious leaders. The authorities said Mirsayafi committed suicide.[1]

    In February 2009, the Iranian government launched a campaign against Mohammad Mojtehed Shabestari, a Shia Muslim cleric, for blasphemy. Shabestari's blasphemy was to say in a speech: “If in a society the three concepts of God, power, and authority are mixed up, a political-religious despotism will find strong roots. ... and the people will suffer greatly.”[7]

    In May 2007, authorities arrested eight students at Tehran's Amir Kabir University. The students were associated with a newspaper which had published articles suggesting that no humans were infallible, including Prophet Muhammad and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.[8]

    In October 2006, Ayatollah Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi, a senior Shia cleric who advocates the separation of religion and state, and a number of his followers were arrested and imprisoned after clashes with riot police. He and seventeen of his followers were initially sentenced to death, but the death sentences were later withdrawn. In August 2007, he was sentenced to one year in prison in Tehran followed by another ten years in prison in another part of the country.[1]

    In 2002, Hashem Aghajari, a member of the Shia majority, a history professor, and a veteran who lost a leg in 1980-88 war against Iraq, gave a speech in which he called for political reforms. The authorities arrested Aghajari, charged him with blasphemy, and jailed him. A court convicted Aghajari, and made death the penalty. In June 2004, the Supreme Court substituted a charge of "insulting religious values" for the blasphemy charge, and imposed a jail term of three years among other penalties. Aghajari was released on bail on 31 July 2004. [9] [10]

    In 1999, Iran put on trial for “insulting the Prophet, his descendants, and the Ayatollah Khomeini,” and for other charges, Abdollah Nouri, the former Minister of the Interior in the Rafsanjani and Khatami cabinets. In 1999, Nouri was the publisher of a daily newspaper that discussed the limits on the Supreme Leader's powers, the rights of unorthodox clerics and groups to air their views, the right of women to divorce, and whether laughing and clapping were un-Islamic. On 27 November 1999, the Special Court for the Clergy found Nouri guilty, and sentenced him to five years' imprisonment and a fine. Nouri regained his freedom on 5 November 2002.[11][12]

    In 1988, in the United Kingdom, Salman Rushdie published The Satanic Verses, a novel. Muslims in the United Kingdom accused Rushdie of blasphemy. Some Muslims called upon the Crown to prosecute Rushdie but it did not. On 14 February 1989, the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa which called for Muslims to kill Rushdie and all publishers of The Satanic Verses. In 1991, the novel's Japanese translator was stabbed to death. Shortly afterward, the Italian translator was stabbed but survived. In 1993, the Norwegian publisher of the book was injured in a gun attack.[13]
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    Quote Originally Posted by i_feel_tiredsleepy
    Iran a free theistic state?
    Thanks for the information on Iran, but really I wasn't implying that I think Iran is now a free theistic state. However it was when the Shah was there when I visited it in 1973. Malaysia is a better example, which is a mix of all religions. Primarily Muslim, it also has large pockets of Buddhism and Hinduism. KL is home to many church denominations. Go to the Batu Caves in north KL and see the incredible Hindu shrines high in the hillside with a massive statue of Murogan outside. I agree that this might not be tolerated in the Iran or Afghanistan of recent times, but given time things will change.
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    Apostates (those who convert from Islam to another religion) in Malaysia can be fined or imprisoned for a year of "rehabilitation."

    Their "religious freedoms" exist only on paper of secular government, which is at the beckon call of Sharia courts.

    http://www.littlespeck.com/region/CF...-My-041228.htm

    This is archaic and medieval as a practice and against all human decency. If one wishes to chose another superstition in favor of Islam (or none at all), they should be free to do so and not punished by imprisonment for doing so.

    There was a news story of a young woman who was born into a Hindu family in Malaysia but orphaned as a toddler. The orphan was taken in by Muslims and adopted but when she decided to pursue the religious tradition of her birth parents, marrying another Hindu and beginning a family, Muslims found out and pronounced her and her children as Muslim. They were all shipped off to "rehabilitation" camps.

    Nice religious "freedom" they have there.
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    The place in question is Kelantan in the north east corner of peninsular Malaysia, which is the most traditional of the Muslim Malay states. As in a previous post I told of my visit to this state's capital of Kota Bahru (in 2008), and unexpectedly found alcohol for sale there in shops quite close to the town centre. So what I am saying is, you can't generalize when it comes to Islam. I would agree that some practices are likely to shock westerners, such as the requirement that a Muslim can only marry another Muslim. This might be one of the reasons for aposatasy. However, Islam is very diverse.
    In Kota Bahru you are likely see more happy faces than you will find in any Western city. The women are beautifully dressed too. Perhaps you prefer a nation of gloomy atheists?
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    My preferences are irrelevant. I'm merely pointing out the fact that a "theistic state" is both archaic and medieval notion as well as inhumane. I've no doubt that one can find refugia of secularism in large metropolitan regions of many theocracies, where the wealthy and those of particular class or status can find familiar western and secular themes. But the peasant classes of these nations are stuck in superstition and threats of punishment and death for apostacy -the theocratic state fears the loss of its religious adherents. It fears enlightenment.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    Several of these nations have growing populations of Muslims in the larger cities and, interestingly enough, the rates of crime are growing in these neighborhoods.
    So, religion isn't being "suppressed" at all. Indeed, its very likely the other way around: religion has been suppressing society; bending it to its immoral and unethical practices for millennia.
    I think this is too sweeping a statement, and I detect a hint of Islamaphobia.
    What you detect is your own bias. Please do not project on me.

    I have no unbalanced fear or any hatred for Muslims or the Islamic superstition. If people want to believe in that or any other mumbo jumbo their free to waste their lives doing so in so far as their beliefs don't affect me or mine.

    But one cannot maintain a rational outlook and not recognize the increased crime associated with Muslim immigrants in Scandinavian nations. It is simply a fact that represents itself well enough to be noticed.

    Quote Originally Posted by SwedishNewsOutlet
    The figures have nearly doubled in the last ten years: 467 rapes against children under the age of 15 were reported in 2004 compared with 258 in 1995.

    Legal proceedings continue this week in a case involving a 13 year old girl from Motala who was said to have been subjected to a group rape by four men.
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-.../1372959/posts

    They were all Kurdish Muslims.

    The number of rape charges per capita in Malm is 5—6 times that of Copenhagen, Denmark. Copenhagen is a larger city, but the percentage of immigrants is much lower. And it’s not just the rape statistics that reveal a scary increase in Malm or Sweden. Virtually every kind of violent crime is on the rise. Robberies have increased with 50 % in Malm only during the fall of 2004. Threats against witnesses in Swedish court cases have quadrupled between 2000 and 2003. During the past few decades, massive immigration has changed the face of Sweden’s major cities, as well as challenged the viability of the welfare state. In 1970 Sweden had the fourth highest GDP per capita among developed countries with income about 6% above the OECD average. By 1997 it was at fifteenth place with an average GDP per capita 14% below average. Malm has a heavy concentration of Muslim immigrants in particular. According to some estimates, it will be a Muslim majority city in no more then 10 years. Crime is rampant in the growing ghettos:
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-.../1372959/posts

    Quote Originally Posted by SwedishNewspaper
    The number of rapes committed by Muslim immigrants in Western nations are so extremely high that it is difficult to view them only as random acts of individuals. It resembles warfare.
    That last quote is clearly a bit of hyperbole, but this "religion of peace" had the gall to riot when a Danish newspaper published cartoons like this one:



    Offensive. Perhaps. A point to riot over? Destroy property & lives over? Not hardly.

    Barely two years ago, Muslim lawmakers stood in front of Parliament in Denmark and chanted "Death to those that oppose Islam!" The violent nature of the Islamic superstition is clearly underscored by its leaders.

    The Islamic superstition brings with it this notion of "honor" and a violence that seems to accompany it: followers of various Muslim cults that emerge in Western nations seem to find their duty to "punish" the infidels in their own lands and to fight the "jihad" -a "struggle" in literal translation but one that demands self-sacrifice of humanistic ideals. To quote Joan Smith, an opinion columnist for The Independent: "The stark fact is that the notion of "honour" and the violence linked to it cannot co-exist with the modern idea of universal human rights. It encourages men to create oppressive laws which do not recognise individual liberties, and to break the law in states where those liberties have been acknowledged."

    I live in an immigrant city and I believe that it's safe to walk the streets.
    I've not doubt that it is safe to walk most of the streets in just about any immigrant city. But you're not the only one who considers themselves traveled. Name your immigrant city (or any other) and I bet I can give you a few streets populated by immigrants that you might not want to walk down.

    Crime will exist in just about any society.
    Sure. But that isn't a point of contention here. The point is that crime is directly correlated to religiosity. The more superstitious a nation is, the higher its crime and, ironically, the higher its rates of abortion, divorce, alcoholism, drug addiction, etc. that aren't necessarily considered crimes but considered "immoral" by many societies, particularly religious ones.

    You can't tar everyone with the same brush.
    Nor have I.

    I have felt safer travelling in Muslim countries than in the USA.
    We can toss anecdotes back and forth all day. I, too, have felt safe in several of the Islamic countries I've traveled and worked in. I fail to see the relevance. Unless of course, you're just tossing out these little anecdotes to subtly suggest age, wisdom, and the experience of a "traveled man." There. We've both measured our junk. Back to the facts, eh?

    In states where you have little option but to be a member of the religious tribe there may be even be less crime, but at the expense of liberty.
    Of course. One can rule in fear. Impose death penalties for apostasy and atheism (this is the case in modern Afghanistan). Increase the sentences to an additional 200 lashes for the woman who complains her rapists got of easy (as in a recent Saudi Arabian case). But the quality of life diminishes. The amount of humanism is reduced and only those of high station and stature and who are the correct gender feel any sense of freedom. Its good that we find a point we can agree upon.

    My original point was that if you are going to replace religion, then what with?
    Humanism.

    That is to say, if I were arguing for the replacement of religion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    My preferences are irrelevant. I'm merely pointing out the fact that a "theistic state" is both archaic and medieval notion as well as inhumane. I've no doubt that one can find refugia of secularism in large metropolitan regions of many theocracies, where the wealthy and those of particular class or status can find familiar western and secular themes. But the peasant classes of these nations are stuck in superstition and threats of punishment and death for apostacy -the theocratic state fears the loss of its religious adherents. It fears enlightenment.
    Can you give us any examples of "atheistic states" that are governed the way you
    would envision?

    Past examples of state sponsored atheism in Russia, China, and Cambodia do not offer any advantage over other governments.
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    an "Atheistic state" would be more like a religiously blind state. One that doesn't care or submit law governing religion nor religious preference of individual. Most of Europe abides by those guidelines for an "atheistic state"
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
    -Plato

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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    Can you give us any examples of "atheistic states" that are governed the way you
    would envision?

    Past examples of state sponsored atheism in Russia, China, and Cambodia do not offer any advantage over other governments.
    Look to pretty much any Scandinavian country, and be sure to check out Phil Zuckerman's book, "Society Without God."


    http://www.salon.com/books/review/2008/10/22/zuckerman/
    In "Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment," he tells of a magical land where life expectancy is high and infant mortality low, where wealth is spread and genders live in equity, where happy, fish-fed citizens score high in every quality-of-life index: economic competitiveness, healthcare, environmental protection, lack of corruption, educational investment, technological literacy ... well, you get the idea.

    To a certain jaded sensibility, what makes Scandinavia particularly magical is what it lacks. "There is no national anti-gay rights movement," writes Zuckerman, "there are no 'Jesus fish' imprinted on advertisements in the yellow pages, there are no school boards or school administrators who publicly doubt the evidence for human evolution ... there are no religiously inspired 'abstinence only' sex education curricula ... there are no parental groups lobbying schools and city councils to remove Harry Potter books from school and public libraries ... there are no restaurants that include Bible verses on their menus and placemats, there are no 'Faith Nights' at national sporting events ..."

    <...>

    And he's gone at least partway to proving the central thesis of his book: "Religious faith -- while admittedly widespread -- is not natural or innate to the human condition. Nor is religion a necessary ingredient for a healthy, peaceful, prosperous, and ... deeply good society."

    This will come as a surprise to cultural conservatives, who for a long time have pointed baleful fingers at the atheist dictatorships of Albania, North Korea, China and the former Soviet Union. But as Zuckerman argues, there is a significant difference between imposing atheism from above and absorbing it from below. The majority of Scandinavians, he writes, "stopped being religious of their own volition." It may be they never started. Although Christianity was first introduced to Sweden and Denmark in the 800s, it took centuries to become fully entrenched, and given that this process was shaped less by missionary work than by royal fiat, Zuckerman questions whether Danes and Swedes were ever truly as devout as some of their European brethren.

    As for faith being the cornerstone of personal morality, Zuckerman would remind us that Scandinavians rank near the top in charitable giving to poor nations, that their murder rate is among the lowest in the world and that the safety net they've created for their poorest citizens puts the U.S. welfare state to shame. And all this has been accomplished without God breathing down anyone's neck.

    Also, this is just spot on:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkCuc34hvD4
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    O.K.

    It seems that the states of Europe/Scandinavia are more socialist. Religious freedom is practiced. They are not really atheist.

    Atheism does not seem to be a political doctrine of the ruling parties in these examples as in communist countries that developed a violent oppression of the population.

    Although there are also examples of violent oppression in "theistic nations", the nations where atheism has been a political doctrine of the ruling elite have done as much or more harm to their populations.

    Thus, you guys don't seem to offer any evidence of an advantage of atheism. Rather, you seem to support religious freedom.

    Perhaps this is one area where theists and atheists can agree. Religion should be free.
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    You're missing the point. No one is claiming that there are "atheist states" -i.e. states that promote atheism or take an atheistic point of view from the government.

    What several of us have stated, and I'll restate in summary form here, is that there are many nations in the world (Scandinavian nations, most notably, but Japan and others as well) where atheism is not a minority worldview. This is due to many factors, but in each of these nations religious freedoms exist.

    In these nations where atheism and a non-religious worldview are highest, crime is lowest, as are the so-called "moral indicators" that include abortion, divorce, etc.

    In other words, there is a direct correlation between religiosity and immorality. The latter thrives where religiosity is the highest.
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    Actually, there have been "atheist states", and the ones I am aware of have committed mass killing and genocide.

    I don't think you can have it both ways. If you wish to claim a causal linkage between the "moral indicators" in Scandinavia and atheism, then you should accept a causal linkage between atheism and the atrocities of Stalin and others.

    However, it is more likely that whatever causes societies to score low on moral indicators, it is an independent variable from religious beliefs. Tolerance of minority opinions including atheism or homosexuality does not mean that these minorities are good or bad. It just shows that the society as a whole is tolerant.

    Also, "moral indicators" are often highly selective. For example, I would not include Japan in any conversation on morality. Take a look at websites regarding dolphin slaughter, or the movie "The Cove".

    It is my opinion that whatever causes people to participate/accept group violence is accompanied by a "compartmentalization" phenomenon. Thus, people can be outraged by cruelty toward areas that they care about and indifferent to cruelty directed toward beings outside of their group affiliations.

    One of the differences between a Nazi and a sage may just be the size of the group that the Nazi would choose to protect. The sage would work to protect most, if not all beings. The Nazi, only cares about other Nazis.
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    Dedo - Are you a fucking moron? Do you know what atheism even is? It's the denial of a claim. Guess what? You are probably a spaghetti monster denialist.. so is Hitler and Stalin. They were spaghetti monster denialist states and thus since you follow the same creed as them, you must be the same as them!


    Do you see how inane that sounds? You can't have an 'atheistic state' where their atheism was the cause of their atrocities since atheism is NOT a group. It is simply the denial of your claim. Get that through your pea brain head of yours.



    Your God has done mass killings and genocide, yet you still WORSHIP him. Why is that? Funny how religion has been the biggest cause of human rights violations this world has ever seen, yet they get a free pass. Why is this? They dealt more damage during the 400 year long period the Spanish Inquisition was going on than any regime we know of today.

    I don't think you can have it both ways. If you wish to claim a causal linkage between the "moral indicators" in Scandinavia and atheism, then you should accept a causal linkage between atheism and the atrocities of Stalin and others.
    That statement may SEEM logical but it's really not. Atheism isn't a cause for morality, but theism is a cause for immorality making it seem like denying the claim is a cause for morality in and of itself.
    There is no linkage between atheism and the atrocities of stalin because their Atheism did not make them into bad people. Theism generally makes humans into bad people threatening others with damnation or such. Religion also teaches segregation and hate. There aren't very many theists who are tolerant of other faiths and view other faiths as equal as their own. In fact, they think all others who dont follow their one view are going to burn in hell and be tortured by their 'loving' God.
    "Democracy is a problem because it treats everyone as equals." - Betty Fischer

    "back in the 50's or 60's Nicky Criuz was a gang leader who met David Wilkerson in New York City. After much discussion over months or years, i forget how long, Wilkerson's wife became pregnant. one day Cruz decides to test God, he basically prayed--God if you are real let the baby be born a boy-- it was a boy. "
    - Logic of a creationist

    Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur
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    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    Dedo - Are you a fucking moron?
    If you could control your blind rage and read a little further you would have seen that dedo did not claim atheism was the cause, merely that an atheist state did commit mass killings and geneocide - a fact you cannot deny. Now, please, can we raise the level of discourse?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    Dedo - Are you a fucking moron?
    If you could control your blind rage and read a little further you would have seen that dedo did not claim atheism was the cause, merely that an atheist state did commit mass killings and geneocide - a fact you cannot deny. Now, please, can we raise the level of discourse?
    At the very least, Harold... He was too blinded by his own ideology to realize that the claim he made had already been flatly debunked when he made it previously in the thread, and yet he continued to repeat it as if it were perfectly valid.

    I mean... exasperation is understandable in this instance.


    Person A: X caused Y (or, Y happened because X was the belief system).
    Person B: No, here is both evidence and counter logic showing that claim to be false.
    Person C: Here's more reasons why Person A's claim is false.
    Person D: And here are even more reasons showing that claim is not reality-based.
    Person E: Additionally, on top of all of the other points, here are further points demonstrating the fallacious nature of that logic, and how the conclusion is flawed as a result.

    Person A: X caused Y (or, Y happened because X was the belief system).

    The rest of us: "Are you a fucking moron?"
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    The rest of us: "Are you a fucking moron?"
    But inow, this forum has standards. We can't go around calling just anyone a ****ing moron on the basis of one or two posts in a single thread. The honorific ****ing moron has to be earned.

    The appelate for the position must demonstrate a singular denseness in a number of threads, over an extended time period; they must repeatedly bring their agenda ridden arguments to the fore, even - especially - when irrelevant; they must display an intransigent inability to learn and a primal commitment to being stupid.

    Dedo may well be a ****ing moron, but until he has met the conditions itemised above it is unfair on the ****ing morons who have established their credentials to accord him such a high honour. Harold is therefore quite correct in admonishing verzen on this occassion.
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    Thanks Harold:

    Verzen and Inow:

    You guys have not debunked anything. As far as I know, the cause of war and group violence is unknown, and it remains an important area of research.

    Thus, you have not refuted a linkage between atheism and the atrocities of political atheist leaders any more than I have proved it. However, I have not claimed a causal relationship.

    Rather, the evidence I have seen seems to indicate that the cause of group violence is related to an unknown process that follows a power law. This process has been evidenced in the actions of theists and atheists, just as both groups can catch the flu.

    It is a fascinating subject that may have a direct effect on our life expectancy.

    However, I will concede that in other threads, you atheists have made strong arguments regarding your superior intelligence.

    That is why I would like to dump what I have read about this issue in your laps.

    Maybe you will be able to figure it out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Person A: X caused Y (or, Y happened because X was the belief system).
    Person B: No, here is both evidence and counter logic showing that claim to be false.
    Person C: Here's more reasons why Person A's claim is false.
    Person D: And here are even more reasons showing that claim is not reality-based.
    Person E: Additionally, on top of all of the other points, here are further points demonstrating the fallacious nature of that logic, and how the conclusion is flawed as a result.

    Person A: X caused Y (or, Y happened because X was the belief system).

    The rest of us: "Are you a fucking moron?"
    Yeah, except he did not make that claim.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    Dedo - Are you a fucking moron?
    If you could control your blind rage and read a little further you would have seen that dedo did not claim atheism was the cause, merely that an atheist state did commit mass killings and geneocide - a fact you cannot deny. Now, please, can we raise the level of discourse?
    I agree.

    Dedo:

    Firstly, atheism by itself is not an ideology. That means it does not say anything other than the person in question does not believe that such a thing as a god exists, with the definition of "god" seemingly being entirely defined by the religious and often in an arbitrary way. If a regime decides that atheism should be forced on the populace, then that is the expression of an ideology that has universal atheism as one of its tenets.

    Secondly, I think the correlation between religion and immorality might exist, but it is not the root cause. The root cause to me is almost definitely the level of education. An uneducated mind is more likely to accept the unevidenced, so it more easily gravitates towards religion which is a ready-made answer to many questions and can serve an almost infinite number of sociological and psychological functions. This very nature of religion means it can reinforce the same ignorance that to me is its main cause. It feeds on itself. Mind, I am not saying ignorance is necessarily the cause of all religion, but the major contributing factor in it being as widespread as it is.

    The ignorance I am describing is of the human condition and, mostly, of general science.

    Further and finally, less education means less money and more struggle. Struggle can bread immorality and violence, because of the elevated emotional existence of those that struggle. Struggle for survival on all levels can cause all sorts of rationalizations and moral concessions, with peer pressure and the cheap, short term rewards adding to the cycle.

    However, I will concede that in other threads, you atheists have made strong arguments regarding your superior intelligence.
    Flattering, but not a universal trait among atheists I'm afraid. No more than a lack of intelligence is among theists. :wink:
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Yeah, except he did not make that claim.
    No, of course not... I'm sure he never intended to imply cause. [/sarcasm]

    I appreciate the call for decorum and civility, but pull-eez. Let's not kid ourselves. He was touting the old "Stalin/Hitler/Pol-Pot and Atheism" canard, and no matter how many times he re-asserts that he wasn't implying cause, we all know that's absolutely what he meant.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Yeah, except he did not make that claim.
    No, of course not... I'm sure he never intended to imply cause. [/sarcasm]

    I appreciate the call for decorum and civility, but pull-eez. Let's not kid ourselves. He was touting the old "Stalin/Hitler/Pol-Pot and Atheism" canard, and no matter how many times he re-asserts that he wasn't implying cause, we all know that's absolutely what he meant.
    Pull-eez yourself. Dedo's first post on this thread said
    The lessons of history seem to support the idea that both atheists and theists can participate in genocide or mass killing.
    If he thought that atheism was the cause, why would he mention the genocides and mass killings by theists? Don't put words in people's mouths.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Pull-eez yourself. Dedo's first post on this thread said
    The lessons of history seem to support the idea that both atheists and theists can participate in genocide or mass killing.
    If he thought that atheism was the cause, why would he mention the genocides and mass killings by theists? Don't put words in people's mouths.

    And now for a more context-based review of dedo's posts:

    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    Although there are also examples of violent oppression in "theistic nations", the nations where atheism has been a political doctrine of the ruling elite have done as much or more harm to their populations.
    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    Actually, there have been "atheist states", and the ones I am aware of have committed mass killing and genocide.
    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    If you wish to claim a causal linkage between the "moral indicators" in Scandinavia and atheism, then you should accept a causal linkage between atheism and the atrocities of Stalin and others.
    However, I did happen to make the mistake of confusing the posts of dedo and ox. When I made my original response, the two were the same person in my mind. That was the reason for my tone, and looking back that was in error.

    Regardless, as is supported by my quotes of dedo above, I still think there is reason to believe that dedo is merely injecting the long-debunked and flawed assertion that Stalin/Hitler/Pol-Pot did their terrible things due their atheism.

    If you are coming to a different conclusion after reading those quotes, I'd be rather interested to hear what that conclusion is and what has led you to it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    Dedo - Are you a fucking moron?
    If you could control your blind rage and read a little further you would have seen that dedo did not claim atheism was the cause, merely that an atheist state did commit mass killings and geneocide - a fact you cannot deny. Now, please, can we raise the level of discourse?
    I agree.

    Dedo:

    Firstly, atheism by itself is not an ideology. That means it does not say anything other than the person in question does not believe that such a thing as a god exists, with the definition of "god" seemingly being entirely defined by the religious and often in an arbitrary way. If a regime decides that atheism should be forced on the populace, then that is the expression of an ideology that has universal atheism as one of its tenets.

    Secondly, I think the correlation between religion and immorality might exist, but it is not the root cause. The root cause to me is almost definitely the level of education. An uneducated mind is more likely to accept the unevidenced, so it more easily gravitates towards religion which is a ready-made answer to many questions and can serve an almost infinite number of sociological and psychological functions. This very nature of religion means it can reinforce the same ignorance that to me is its main cause. It feeds on itself. Mind, I am not saying ignorance is necessarily the cause of all religion, but the major contributing factor in it being as widespread as it is.

    The ignorance I am describing is of the human condition and, mostly, of general science.

    Further and finally, less education means less money and more struggle. Struggle can bread immorality and violence, because of the elevated emotional existence of those that struggle. Struggle for survival on all levels can cause all sorts of rationalizations and moral concessions, with peer pressure and the cheap, short term rewards adding to the cycle.
    Kalster:

    If education is the answer, then why have so many highly intelligent and highly educated people participated in genocide? A great cinema depiction of this is in the movie, "Inglorious Basterds" where the German SS officer was a model of intelligence, poise, and charm. This officer also had a malevolent capability for brutality. The architects of genocide are not always ignorant thugs. In WWII, the genocide was not just confined to the SS, as regular military units often participated even without a threat of sanctions.

    Your point about when a regime tries to force or impose its ideology on a population could be important. If someone is so convinced that their way is the "only way", this may be evidence of black and white thinking, also called dichotomous thinking.

    This sort of thinking may indicate that the person is under the influence of some process/variable in an extreme sort of way. This has been shown to be the case for the morbidly obese who show evidence of dichotomous thinking, denial, and the use of food to regulate mood in their behavior and speech.

    I believe that dichotomous thinking is also associated with other "processes" and I have seen it in the rhetoric of people exhorting war. Other characteristics of the "war process" may also include "denial" and a "mythic thinking". The last characteristic was discussed in LeShan's "The Psychology of War".

    Thus when someone shows an obsession with a particular point of view, it could mean they are right, or it could mean they are exhibiting black and white thinking that is evidence of some "process".

    I brought up obesity because we all agree that our weight (I am on a diet too) is an independent process/variable compared with our religious beliefs or our propensity for violence. However, obesity is a process that has two important characteristics.
    1. It can be "self-reinforcing".
    2. There are braking mechanisms that impede the "process" of weight gain.
    If the self-reinforcing component dominates, we gain weight. If the self-reinforcing aspect really dominates, we can gain incredible amounts of weight. In this case the "obesity process" controls the whole system and effects our life in many ways.

    Other variables/processes may work the same way. Understanding what the parameters that influence the self-reinforcing property vs. the braking mechanism could be the key to controlling the process. This is where education could play a role.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    If you are coming to a different conclusion after reading those quotes, I'd be rather interested to hear what that conclusion is and what has led you to it.
    I simply take them at face value and do not read any more into them than what they actually say. I am not prone to jumping to conclusions as you seem to be. When and if Dedo says that atheism is the cause of mass killings, then I will conclude that he thinks atheism is the cause of mass killings.
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  79. #78  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    If you are coming to a different conclusion after reading those quotes, I'd be rather interested to hear what that conclusion is and what has led you to it.
    I simply take them at face value and do not read any more into them than what they actually say. I am not prone to jumping to conclusions as you seem to be.
    So, instead of answering my question and being forthright, you've chosen to disparage my character and me personally as a person "prone to jumping to conclusions." Golly... Thanks, Harold. That was helpful. You're the bestest.

    Now that you've gotten that out of your system, would you kindly please address my original inquiry and be so kind as to explain what YOU garnered from sir dedo's posts so as we might once again find the common path in this thread?

    I'm just asking for some integrity. I really don't know what alternate conclusions one can draw from the words I quoted, and I appreciate hearing the interpretations of others to ensure my own are accurate and without flaw.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    So, instead of answering my question and being forthright, you've chosen to disparage my character and me personally as a person "prone to jumping to conclusions." Golly... Thanks, Harold. That was helpful. You're the bestest.

    Now that you've gotten that out of your system, would you kindly please address my original inquiry and be so kind as to explain what YOU garnered from sir dedo's posts so as we might once again find the common path in this thread?

    I'm just asking for some integrity. I really don't know what alternate conclusions one can draw from the words I quoted, and I appreciate hearing the interpretations of others to ensure my own are accurate and without flaw.
    I honestly don't know what you are asking. I think on a science forum we should stick to the arguments as they are presented and argue the logic of what was said, not what someone thinks was meant or implied. If Dedo said something that was factually in error or fallacious, go ahead and jump down his throat. From what he wrote, I gathered that he was looking for answers as to why mass killing occur. Nothing more, nothing less.
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  81. #80  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    From what he wrote, I gathered that he was looking for answers as to why mass killing occur.
    Thank you. While we still disagree on our assumptions about his intent, I appreciate that you came back and answered.
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  82. #81  
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    Actually, there have been "atheist states", and the ones I am aware of have committed mass killing and genocide.
    You'll first need to define what you mean by "atheist state" so that we're clear on what is intended by the verbiage and then note that I'm talking in the present and not the past.

    If you mean states like Stalinist Russia, then here we have a state that happened to be one run by a government that denounced organized religion. Clearly the Russian Orthodox Church survived the Stalin years -it's still there and always have been. Indeed, there is sufficient evidence that Stalin supported the Church: priests entered Soviet camps during the sieges of Stalingrad and Leningrad; the streets of Leningrad welcomed the icon Our Lady of Kazan as it was carried in a procession; and Stalin normalized relations with the Russian Orthodox Church by allowing and encouraging the election of Metropolitan Sergius as patriarch. In 1945, its recorded that a single church in the city of Kuibyshev performed 22,045 baptisms. Stalin supported the Russian Orthodox Church financially -in 1946 he gave them 550,000 rubles and over 3 million rubles in 1947 (Avalos 2005; Radzinsky 1997)

    If Stalin was an atheist, he certainly appreciated the church. There's not the smallest evidence that his genocides and atrocities were the result of atheism, nor is it apparent that he intended Russia to be an atheist state. The genocide during the regime of Stalin was a result of an ideology of "forced collectivization (Avalos 2005)."

    I don't think you can have it both ways. If you wish to claim a causal linkage between the "moral indicators" in Scandinavia and atheism, then you should accept a causal linkage between atheism and the atrocities of Stalin and others.
    Please quote where I said "causal linkage" so that I might make a correction. I recall typing "correlation." In this case, we have relatively large sample sizes to work with: every extant nation on the planet. We have a very interesting and, perhaps, revealing correlation. I'm not suggesting a cause.

    What you're doing, is using a bit of intellectual slight of hand to create a correlation of your own, which is an attempt to link atheism to immorality and "evil." This is a strawman since you would clearly like an argument you can defeat, but its also, perhaps, a red herring its created a bit of misdirection in the discourse of the thread. In fact, I'd almost go so far as to say your quotes above are fractally fallacious in that they appear fallacious at each permutation and combination.

    However, it is more likely that whatever causes societies to score low on moral indicators, it is an independent variable from religious beliefs. Tolerance of minority opinions including atheism or homosexuality does not mean that these minorities are good or bad. It just shows that the society as a whole is tolerant.
    Why is it "more likely?" Please elucidate this claim. What statistical data are present that support this? What other correlations are present?

    Also, "moral indicators" are often highly selective.
    Agreed. Which is why I chose those "moral indicators" favored by those afflicted with religious superstition since the discussion is about religion and the relevant correlations involve religiosity.

    For example, I would not include Japan in any conversation on morality. Take a look at websites regarding dolphin slaughter, or the movie "The Cove".
    I have zero interest in dolphins or coves. Nor have any of the religious adherents in question made any significant inclusion within their doctrines, policies, sermons, or mad rants on a.m. radio. Therefore, they're irrelevant as "moral indicators" in this discussion. In addition, I hold "moral indicators" as concepts that are to be viewed with a fair amount of skepticism. Its just interesting that these "indicators" are the very things that religious nuts hold to be "vitally important" and, yet, the more religious a nation is the higher rates of abortion, divorce, etc are -in addition to crime as a whole.


    References:

    Avalos, Hector (2005). Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

    Radzinsky, Edvard (1997). Stalin: The First In-Depth biography Based on Explosive New Documents from Russia's Secret Archives. New York: Anchor.
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    Mod Note: If we're going to disagree, even vehemently, lets please do so without referring to others as "****ing morons."
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  84. #83  
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    there is a direct correlation between religiosity and immorality. The latter thrives where religiosity is the highest.
    May I tweek that a bit?

    You and others suggest that immorality comes and goes (with religion), like an imposition over the default morality. Try this: Morality develops from an earlier state of relative immorality. It will go on developing, so our present state must someday appear immoral. Meanwhile, and often in parallel, alternatives to religion develop. Some nations have developed more rapidly on many fronts. Same reason you could probably find a correlation between thatched roofs and "traditional" music.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    Actually, there have been "atheist states", and the ones I am aware of have committed mass killing and genocide.
    You'll first need to define what you mean by "atheist state" so that we're clear on what is intended by the verbiage and then note that I'm talking in the present and not the past.

    If you mean states like Stalinist Russia, then here we have a state that happened to be one run by a government that denounced organized religion. Clearly the Russian Orthodox Church survived the Stalin years -it's still there and always have been. Indeed, there is sufficient evidence that Stalin supported the Church: priests entered Soviet camps during the sieges of Stalingrad and Leningrad; the streets of Leningrad welcomed the icon Our Lady of Kazan as it was carried in a procession; and Stalin normalized relations with the Russian Orthodox Church by allowing and encouraging the election of Metropolitan Sergius as patriarch. In 1945, its recorded that a single church in the city of Kuibyshev performed 22,045 baptisms. Stalin supported the Russian Orthodox Church financially -in 1946 he gave them 550,000 rubles and over 3 million rubles in 1947 (Avalos 2005; Radzinsky 1997)

    If Stalin was an atheist, he certainly appreciated the church. There's not the smallest evidence that his genocides and atrocities were the result of atheism, nor is it apparent that he intended Russia to be an atheist state. The genocide during the regime of Stalin was a result of an ideology of "forced collectivization (Avalos 2005)."

    I don't think you can have it both ways. If you wish to claim a causal linkage between the "moral indicators" in Scandinavia and atheism, then you should accept a causal linkage between atheism and the atrocities of Stalin and others.
    Please quote where I said "causal linkage" so that I might make a correction. I recall typing "correlation." In this case, we have relatively large sample sizes to work with: every extant nation on the planet. We have a very interesting and, perhaps, revealing correlation. I'm not suggesting a cause.

    What you're doing, is using a bit of intellectual slight of hand to create a correlation of your own, which is an attempt to link atheism to immorality and "evil." This is a strawman since you would clearly like an argument you can defeat, but its also, perhaps, a red herring its created a bit of misdirection in the discourse of the thread. In fact, I'd almost go so far as to say your quotes above are fractally fallacious in that they appear fallacious at each permutation and combination.

    However, it is more likely that whatever causes societies to score low on moral indicators, it is an independent variable from religious beliefs. Tolerance of minority opinions including atheism or homosexuality does not mean that these minorities are good or bad. It just shows that the society as a whole is tolerant.
    Why is it "more likely?" Please elucidate this claim. What statistical data are present that support this? What other correlations are present?

    Also, "moral indicators" are often highly selective.
    Agreed. Which is why I chose those "moral indicators" favored by those afflicted with religious superstition since the discussion is about religion and the relevant correlations involve religiosity.

    For example, I would not include Japan in any conversation on morality. Take a look at websites regarding dolphin slaughter, or the movie "The Cove".
    I have zero interest in dolphins or coves. Nor have any of the religious adherents in question made any significant inclusion within their doctrines, policies, sermons, or mad rants on a.m. radio. Therefore, they're irrelevant as "moral indicators" in this discussion. In addition, I hold "moral indicators" as concepts that are to be viewed with a fair amount of skepticism. Its just interesting that these "indicators" are the very things that religious nuts hold to be "vitally important" and, yet, the more religious a nation is the higher rates of abortion, divorce, etc are -in addition to crime as a whole.


    References:

    Avalos, Hector (2005). Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

    Radzinsky, Edvard (1997). Stalin: The First In-Depth biography Based on Explosive New Documents from Russia's Secret Archives. New York: Anchor.
    Skinwalker:

    This is the way I think it works. On a different thread, you remarked that you thought religion could spread like a "virus" through a group/nation. Viruses/germs can exhibit self-reinforcing behavior that can effect, and even overwhelm, the group/nation. Certain specific parameters in the group/nation can promote the self-reinforcing effect of the "virus". However, other highly specific parameters can inhibit or kill the virus and act like an antibiotic or an antiviral agent. The inhibitory parameters I call the "braking mechanism".

    Lets rename the virus as a "process". I believe our nations/groups are subject to numerous "processes", most or all of which can be effected by self-reinforcing conditions or braking conditions.

    Lets use your example a little more and look at the plague that decimated the population of Europe. At that time, there was no braking mechanism (antibiotics).
    The conditions that promoted the self-reinforcing effect (rats, lack of hygiene etc.) also occurred and promoted an uncontrolled spread of the plague through the European population.

    Our current knowledge of group violence may be similar to the knowledge of plague in the Middle Ages in Europe. After more thought, Kalster's comment about education is probably correct. Education may inhibit the self-reinforcing aspect of group violence in the same way that hygiene and pest control prevents plague. Educated people can still become violent or catch the plague. This is where the braking mechanism becomes crucial.

    We do not have plague now because we understand the process. We know how to prevent the self-reinforcing conditions, and we have effective specific antibiotics (braking mechanism) to treat plague if it occurs.

    Let me use one more example. Yesterday my wife made a batch of absolutely incredible brownies. Well, I ate 1/2 the batch in one sitting. Later, I continued this carb binge with a bag of Newman's popcorn, 2-3 giant Latte fudge bars, and a couple cups of chocolate chips. When I cringed while looking at the scale this morning, I saw that I had lost .2 pounds from yesterday. Why is that? That is because yesterday, I invoked a couple "braking mechanisms" as I do every day. These braking mechanisms kill a binge the way that an antibiotic kills the plague.
    For me, understanding the process of obesity has changed weight loss from "almost impossible" to "almost effortless". Although I still want to lose 10 pounds, I remain about 35 pounds lighter than I was 20 years ago before I started researching this "process".

    I believe that group violence and religious beliefs are independent processes. This does not mean these processes cannot interact. If an atheist or theist regime promotes the self-reinforcing conditions of group violence, then that regime is a cause of group violence.

    It may be even more alarming if a particular government suppresses or destroys the "braking mechanism" for group violence. Some aspects of religious practice may act as a braking mechanism. However, this is unproven.

    There is also some evidence that innocent life may act as a braking mechanism. There was a report from the genocides in Bosnia where a thug in the middle of a murder rampage was handed a baby and he stopped the violence on the spot.

    Braking mechanisms can be extremely effective.

    Imagine a house with a gas stove. Turn the gas on without the pilot light and let the gas flow into the house. Imagine that the windows are mostly open. If the windows remain open, the gas can run all day and never reach a critical level where a spark could blow up the house. However, if you start to close the windows, this can change very quickly. In this example, the gas is the self-reinforcing mechanism. The windows are the braking mechanism.

    This is why I object to what Japan is doing to the dolphins. I believe these beautiful creatures may be part of a specific braking mechanism for group violence. Japan is closing the windows as we speak.
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  86. #85  
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    there is a direct correlation between religiosity and immorality. The latter thrives where religiosity is the highest.
    Some additional data on that:


    http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html
    In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies (Figures 1-9). The most theistic prosperous democracy, the U.S., is exceptional, but not in the manner Franklin predicted. The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developed democracies, sometimes spectacularly so, and almost always scores poorly. The view of the U.S. as a “shining city on the hill” to the rest of the world is falsified when it comes to basic measures of societal health. Youth suicide is an exception to the general trend because there is not a significant relationship between it and religious or secular factors. No democracy is known to have combined strong religiosity and popular denial of evolution with high rates of societal health. Higher rates of non-theism and acceptance of human evolution usually correlate with lower rates of dysfunction, and the least theistic nations are usually the least dysfunctional. None of the strongly secularized, pro-evolution democracies is experiencing high levels of measurable dysfunction. In some cases the highly religious U.S. is an outlier in terms of societal dysfunction from less theistic but otherwise socially comparable secular developed democracies. In other cases, the correlations are strongly graded, sometimes outstandingly so.

    If the data showed that the U.S. enjoyed higher rates of societal health than the more secular, pro-evolution democracies, then the opinion that popular belief in a creator is strongly beneficial to national cultures would be supported. Although they are by no means utopias, the populations of secular democracies are clearly able to govern themselves and maintain societal cohesion. Indeed, the data examined in this study demonstrates that only the more secular, pro-evolution democracies have, for the first time in history, come closest to achieving practical “cultures of life” that feature low rates of lethal crime, juvenile-adult mortality, sex related dysfunction, and even abortion. The least theistic secular developed democracies such as Japan, France, and Scandinavia have been most successful in these regards. The non-religious, pro-evolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral creator. The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted. Contradicting these conclusions requires demonstrating a positive link between theism and societal conditions in the first world with a similarly large body of data - a doubtful possibility in view of the observable trends.

    <...>

    There is evidence that within the U.S. strong disparities in religious belief versus acceptance of evolution are correlated with similarly varying rates of societal dysfunction, the strongly theistic, anti-evolution south and mid-west having markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the northeast where societal conditions, secularization, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms (Aral and Holmes; Beeghley, Doyle, 2002).
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  87. #86  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    The suppression of religion in Stalinist Russia led to the death of more people than by the Nazis.
    Maybe this video is done at a level that you can wrap your head around. It's pretty simple and straight forward, and shows how religion (or lack thereof) had nothing to do with the massacres performed by Stalin, Hitler, or Pol-Pot.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZr-JZYctvA&feature=sub


    Youtube... Helping to teach history even to people who are too ignorant to read. 8)
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  88. #87  
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    The suppression of religion in Stalinist Russia led to the death of more people than by the Nazis.
    Maybe this video is done at a level that you can wrap your head around. It's pretty simple and straight forward, and shows how religion (or lack thereof) had nothing to do with the massacres performed by Stalin, Hitler, or Pol-Pot.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZr-JZYctvA&feature=sub


    Youtube... Helping to teach history even to people who are too ignorant to read. 8)
    Inow:

    This video confuses symptoms and causes. For example, consider a serial killer who says that he shot several people because a dog named "Sam" told him to. Does this mean that dogs named Sam are the cause of serial murder?
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  89. #88  
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    In that case, it's the man's fault.

    But lack of religion didn't have anything to do with the massacres.
    However, the Bosnian massacre, the crusades, terrorism in Iraq, and the murdering of all christians in somalia (to name but a few) are to do with religion.

    Hitler was a devout catholic according to his works, and stalin trained in the priesthood.

    Not that I'm against practising religion as most people do it, and not as an excuse for violence.
    http://s1.zetaboards.com/Conceptual_Evolution/index/

    Is the new address for speculative evolution.
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