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Thread: Is religion bad for our youth?

  1. #1 Is religion bad for our youth? 
    Forum Freshman Gen1GT's Avatar
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    In a somewhat recent issue of Macleans magazine, they discussed Project Teen Canada, and the results from the study. The study has found that Canadian teens are less and less likely to be religious as the years progress, yet teen behavior is improving inversely to the reduction in religosity.

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/04/07/t...ith-in-droves/

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/04/10/generation-tame/

    Thoughts?


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  3. #2 Re: Is religion bad for our youth? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gen1GT
    In a somewhat recent issue of Macleans magazine, they discussed Project Teen Canada, and the results from the study. The study has found that Canadian teens are less and less likely to be religious as the years progress, yet teen behavior is improving inversely to the reduction in religosity.

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/04/07/t...ith-in-droves/

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/04/10/generation-tame/

    Thoughts?
    I think it is myopic to complete a couple of limited behavior surveys and make sweeping conclusions that change is based on just one input. I would think that your interest in using empirical data to uncover truth would cause you be more thorough than that.


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  4. #3 Re: Is religion bad for our youth? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Quote Originally Posted by Gen1GT
    In a somewhat recent issue of Macleans magazine, they discussed Project Teen Canada, and the results from the study. The study has found that Canadian teens are less and less likely to be religious as the years progress, yet teen behavior is improving inversely to the reduction in religosity.

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/04/07/t...ith-in-droves/

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/04/10/generation-tame/

    Thoughts?
    I think it is myopic to complete a couple of limited behavior surveys and make sweeping conclusions that change is based on just one input. I would think that your interest in using empirical data to uncover truth would cause you be more thorough than that.
    The studies don't actually report any cause. Two different studies by the same institute on different subjects are being discussed in the articles. One is a drop in religiosity amongst Canadians, except amongst immigrant families. The other is about decreasing trends in drug use, alcohol consumption, and teenage sex.

    The OP is simply asking if people think their may be connection between these results.

    My opinion is that the swing towards conservative behavior amongst teens is more of a backlash to the nihilistic attitudes of the 90s. The religion thing is probably unrelated.
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  5. #4 Re: Is religion bad for our youth? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by i_feel_tiredsleepy
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Quote Originally Posted by Gen1GT
    In a somewhat recent issue of Macleans magazine, they discussed Project Teen Canada, and the results from the study. The study has found that Canadian teens are less and less likely to be religious as the years progress, yet teen behavior is improving inversely to the reduction in religosity.

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/04/07/t...ith-in-droves/

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/04/10/generation-tame/

    Thoughts?
    I think it is myopic to complete a couple of limited behavior surveys and make sweeping conclusions that change is based on just one input. I would think that your interest in using empirical data to uncover truth would cause you be more thorough than that.
    The studies don't actually report any cause. Two different studies by the same institute on different subjects are being discussed in the articles. One is a drop in religiosity amongst Canadians, except amongst immigrant families. The other is about decreasing trends in drug use, alcohol consumption, and teenage sex.

    The OP is simply asking if people think their may be connection between these results.
    No, the poster is begging the question.
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  6. #5  
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    That's the question I'm posing; Is religion bad for our youth? You can draw from any source of information or use your own opinion, if you'd like.

    However, by just using the two sets of results, I think it's justified to conclude one of the following;

    a)Because religiosity has dropped amongst teens, it has resulted in a drop in teen smoking, pot use, alcohol use and fewer teens having sex. Therefore, religion is bad for our youth, as those behaviors were more common with a higher rate of religiosity.

    OR

    b)There is some other factor increasing positive behavior in teens, and lack of religiosity didn't play a role. In this case, when teens were more religious, they behaved more poorly, and when they were less religious, they behaved more appropriately. We can then conclude that religion has no effect whatsoever on the behavior of teens, good nor bad.


    Worst case scenario, religion has no net positive effect on teen behavior.
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    What's bad for 'youth' (and everyone else ok they are not so special) is to believe things people tell you whether it's from religious or scientific or other groups.

    You have to ask yourself what feels right - and you're done.
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by rideforever
    What's bad for 'youth' (and everyone else ok they are not so special) is to believe things people tell you whether it's from religious or scientific or other groups.

    You have to ask yourself what feels right - and you're done.
    Please, like I'm gonna fall for what you tell me.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gen1GT

    a)Because religiosity has dropped amongst teens, it has resulted in a drop in teen smoking, pot use, alcohol use and fewer teens having sex. Therefore, religion is bad for our youth, as those behaviors were more common with a higher rate of religiosity.
    Well no, you'd have to provide some sort of causative explanation, otherwise correlations don't carry that much weight. I doubt religiosity amongst Muslims, is likely to increase alcohol use levels, as alcohol use is prohibited under their religion. Alcohol use levels amongst teens are likely to drop with increased Islamic immigration.

    Also, you have to account for recent social movements like Straight Edge, and the popularity of "clean image" in pop media at the moment. I grew up in the time of Eminem and Britney Spears, now kids have Taylor Swift and the Jonas Brothers.
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  10. #9  
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    Gen1GT my private observations agree that teens (and generally people under 25) are becoming less "sinful". I'm unsure what role if any the marginalization of religion has to do with it.

    I see it more as generational, where recent generations are in the funny position of rebelling against rebels. These kids resurrect the values of Boomer's parents AKA the Greatest Generation. That's their grandparents and great grandparents, formed out of hardship before rebellion became commercialized and mainstream. Like the Greatest Generation, these kids emerged from economic uncertainty and hardship... the Depression, the Recession... whether or not they felt it, this informed "how the world is" to them. So they don't feel personally entitled to luxury as Boomers or early Gen-Xers do. I think for them the hedonism they see in their parents is embarrassing.

    Perhaps they've been able to salvage values of earlier generations because they're ignorant of religious context. The Boomers couldn't consider celibacy with a straight face, because they knew it as a crotchety commandment by frowning priests. Recent generations don't automatically make that connection.

    This generation's also the first to grow entirely through a social-engineering school system and culture. I mean all the little preschoolers gather around and sing "The Earth is a Sharing Place" and so forth. When I was a kid we had the Grouch who lives in a garbage can: There wasn't much moral to glean from anything, in fact the agreed "experiment" by early Boomer parents was not imposing any morals on children. I think this younger generation sees the moral emptiness of my Generation X and think they don't want to be like that.
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    First : to tired and sleepy
    Religious prohibitions do not necessarily mean those who are religious obey them. Italy is the world's most catholic country, and the pope has banned birth control. Guess what, Italians have an extremely low birth rate, and you know damn well it aint because they have given up on sex!!

    In the same way, the Muslim prohibition on alcohol does not necessarily mean ostensibly Muslim kids will not drink it. Sure, the most devout will obey that rule, but most people within a religion are not that devout.

    Second : to Gen
    To suggest that religiosity among teens leads to bad behaviour, and the lowering of religiosity leads to good behaviour, your study would have to show that it is the religious ones who behaved poorly. I doubt that the data would back that idea up.
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    You guys all make great points, but your arguments tend to prove my hypothosis correct; Religion has no net positive effect on behavior.

    If you can all argue that being religious doesn't neccessarily cause teens to misbehave, then my true point here is, there is nocorrelation between religiosity and behavior.

    There is almost no argument against the claim that a higher instance of religion amongst teens has no benefit to them or society.

    Like I said, either the statistics show that dropping religiosity amongst teens increases positive behavior, or there is no correlation between religiosity and behavior at all ... and religion has no benefit one way or the other.
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  13. #12  
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    "no correlation"

    Try this Gen1GT. Replace Christ's teachings with rubbing a naturally occurring stone on underarms. Say that got to be a social norm, so that everybody did it and was taught the ritual at an early age. Now let's find that half the population no longer follow Christianity. Do the non-believers stink? No, probably not. They're the ones who've found they require no anointment. What about the group still practising? They don't stink either, although when challenged they offer irrational explanations or evade with vague anecdotal reference to "personal reasons". Well apparently there's no correlation between Christianity and body odour!

    You could be an anti-Christ urging all Christians to cast away their deodorant stones, because that rubbing-stone nonsense does nothing for you, so neither should it matter to them.

    What percentage do you reckon are practising Christians now, who really needn't be? Are you prepared to deal with the probably small percentage who will positively stink if publicly bullied into going natural.
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    This is from the first article:

    "It’s a huge shift, and Bibby says it may be a worrying one. While it’s true that today’s teens seem to be more responsible and mature than previous generations, the surveys still find that teens who belong to an organized religion—including Christianity, Islam and other faiths—tend to put a higher value on trust, honesty and concern for others. Religion has long been a “source of stability,” he says, not to mention a moral compass of sorts. For instance, 95 per cent of young people who “definitely” believe in God or a higher power also think this entity “expects us to be good to each other,” while just three per cent of atheists agree."

    The author believes that religion is good for youth. I agree.

    Last week, we attended a Christian service in a church that targets youth (Wave Church). There was plenty of contemporary Christian music, great band etc.

    The youth there appeared to be remarkably outgoing, friendly, and happy.

    This is consistent with what the first author is saying.
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    Those are both observations on a micro level. There a gjillions of individuals who are better off with religion on their side. It appears to help them get through the day, because they don't have the personal strength to get through it themself.

    Regardless of what your personal opinion is on the topic, there is still no argument that any society is better off without religion. Religiosity is inversely proportional to crime, education and human rights in any given country.

    I challenge you to show me the best places in the world to live aren't highly non-religious, and I challenge you to show me the worst places to live aren't highly religious.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    This is from the first article:

    "It’s a huge shift, and Bibby says it may be a worrying one. While it’s true that today’s teens seem to be more responsible and mature than previous generations, the surveys still find that teens who belong to an organized religion—including Christianity, Islam and other faiths—tend to put a higher value on trust, honesty and concern for others. Religion has long been a “source of stability,” he says, not to mention a moral compass of sorts. For instance, 95 per cent of young people who “definitely” believe in God or a higher power also think this entity “expects us to be good to each other,” while just three per cent of atheists agree."

    The author believes that religion is good for youth. I agree.

    Last week, we attended a Christian service in a church that targets youth (Wave Church). There was plenty of contemporary Christian music, great band etc.

    The youth there appeared to be remarkably outgoing, friendly, and happy.

    This is consistent with what the first author is saying.
    Bibby's opinion of his own survey results is meaningless. Statistics don't need a moral compass attached to them.

    That youth group could just as well been secular, and the kids would still be outgoing, friendly and happy.
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gen1GT
    You guys all make great points, but your arguments tend to prove my hypothosis correct; Religion has no net positive effect on behavior.

    If you can all argue that being religious doesn't neccessarily cause teens to misbehave, then my true point here is, there is nocorrelation between religiosity and behavior.

    There is almost no argument against the claim that a higher instance of religion amongst teens has no benefit to them or society.

    Like I said, either the statistics show that dropping religiosity amongst teens increases positive behavior, or there is no correlation between religiosity and behavior at all ... and religion has no benefit one way or the other.
    Let's skip to the end here, the bit where Gen1GT says "I told you religion is bad let's get rid of it !" ... anything that happens in the middle just gives the appearance of reason where there isn't any.
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  18. #17  
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    To Gen.

    In live in New Zealand. My country has just been measured as the least corrupt nation on Earth. A few years ago, we were also measured as being the least religious nation on Earth. Is this a correlation? I am not sure if we are still least religious, but we would be close.

    Compared to the United States, we are way less religious. We also have one fifth the murder rate, and Americans emigrate to New Zealand because they feel unsafe at home. Is there a link with low religiosity??

    Outside New Zealand, nations in Europe rate way up there as least religious. They also rate way up there as having lowest crime rates, lowest illiteracy, low child mortality etc etc.

    The most religious nations on Earth are those in the Middle East and in Africa. They also have the highest crime rates, highest murder rates, highest child mortality, high illiteracy etc.

    If you look at nations like Afghanistan, atheism among its citizens is so rare it is almost absent. Yet, would you like to live there?
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  19. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gen1GT
    Those are both observations on a micro level. There a gjillions of individuals who are better off with religion on their side. It appears to help them get through the day, because they don't have the personal strength to get through it themself.
    This is correct. The believer relies on God to get through the day. One of the most wonderful things about religious faith is knowing that you do not need to face challenges in life alone. God helps you through difficult times, and it is often at this point that we are most able to see the hand of God in our lives. I thought my observation was important, because it was an example of young people having joy in life because of religion, and sharing that joy with others.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gen1GT
    Regardless of what your personal opinion is on the topic, there is still no argument that any society is better off without religion.
    I am glad you agree with me. We need religion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gen1GT
    I challenge you to show me the best places in the world to live aren't highly non-religious, and I challenge you to show me the worst places to live aren't highly religious.
    There is a common mistake in this section to place a causal relationship between variables that are temporally associated if they support your own opinion, and to ignore temporal associations that are against it. Atheism has been temporally associated with good and bad elements. So has the blue sky.

    Were the atheist communist societies of the 20th Century great places to live?

    You used articles to support a position that the author of one of the articles does not agree with. In fact the author notes that studies show that religion generally plays a positive role in young people's lives. Thus, my observation is consistent with the first author's review of the literature. Religion is good for youth.
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  20. #19  
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    dedo

    You are also making a logical error, in your statement about atheist communist states. Communist states were not primarily atheist. In fact, many communist states support an extremely powerful religion. eg. Cuba and catholicism.

    Communist states are communist, first and foremost. The harm that comes in those states comes from the communism. Lots of communists are atheist, but more are not. Harm comes not from the atheism, but from the communism. Especially it comes from too much power in the hands of one person.

    Which reminds me of George W. Bush......
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    Dedo, once again and I can't say this enough, I'm not saying religion has no benefit to society whatsoever, only that the overall net effect is detrimental to society.

    There are many lost souls who have found God, and that steered them away froms drugs, crime and a life of anguish. That's great for them, however, it doesn't fix the problem religion presents to the rest of society. Intolorance, hatred, racism, ignorance etc, all are tied to religion. Those factors will never be removed.

    If religious followers behaved as their gospels say they should, our planet would be a utopia.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gen1GT
    Dedo, once again and I can't say this enough, I'm not saying religion has no benefit to society whatsoever, only that the overall net effect is detrimental to society.

    There are many lost souls who have found God, and that steered them away froms drugs, crime and a life of anguish. That's great for them, however, it doesn't fix the problem religion presents to the rest of society. Intolorance, hatred, racism, ignorance etc, all are tied to religion. Those factors will never be removed.

    If religious followers behaved as their gospels say they should, our planet would be a utopia.
    The fact that many atheist display obvious intolerance, hatred and ignorance invalidates your point unless you classify atheism a religion too. Do you not see your own prejudice in these posts?

    Are you blind to the reality that Stalin was an atheist who applied atheistic principles to his notion that political opponents were genetically and environmentally compromised and therefore could not be rehabilitated and needed to be sent to the Gulag to die, unable to corrupt the rest of society. He applied this principle to murder tens of millions.

    How do we accurately judge one worldview over another? You were mistaken about the correlations between atheism and intelligence, is it too much of a stretch to suspect you are wrong here too?
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  23. #22  
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    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Are you blind to the reality that Stalin was an atheist...
    Facepalm.
    Stalin committed these mass murders because of political reasons and to gain political power... He was trying to further a demented and plainly false ideology... and his actions were not influenced by his belief (or lack thereof) in god.

    http://www.thescienceforum.com/viewt...=215495#215495
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZr-JZYctvA&feature=sub
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  24. #23  
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    Stalin was a megalomaniac who was obsessed with power. He killed large numbers of people in chasing that power. Incidentally, he was also an atheist.

    Hitler was a megalomaniac who was obsessed with power. He killed large numbers of people in chasing that power. Incidentally, he was also a christian.

    I think the conclusion is obvious.
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    Hitler may have been Christian, but nazi ideology was not.

    Nazism flourished in a moral void, where the standing values were cold rationality and efficiency. We've all seen forum members come and go, who adhere so strictly to those pure (scientific) values they become callous... and, well, evil.

    I've seen this propaganda poster captioned to the effect: "With objective science we will judge humanity."


    Stalin's Russia, like Hitler's Germany, was an a-moral environment. It was no more moral than a five-year production plan.

    Religions push a package of morals, that give people more to go on than "what is most rational, what is efficient." Of course, each package being fundamentally irrational, there will be internal contradictions and incompatibilities between religions.

    Atheism is a-moral. Not that it's bad in itself. One may invent an outstanding moral system in the free-fall of atheism, but most do not. So where do atheists get their morals?

    I think that through social engineering we condition people with morals, so they perform tolerably well under an illusionary belief they just do what's rational. Their morals seem rational to them, and rational to them is good. Our younger generations express this way of thinking.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Quote Originally Posted by Gen1GT
    Dedo, once again and I can't say this enough, I'm not saying religion has no benefit to society whatsoever, only that the overall net effect is detrimental to society.

    There are many lost souls who have found God, and that steered them away froms drugs, crime and a life of anguish. That's great for them, however, it doesn't fix the problem religion presents to the rest of society. Intolorance, hatred, racism, ignorance etc, all are tied to religion. Those factors will never be removed.

    If religious followers behaved as their gospels say they should, our planet would be a utopia.
    The fact that many atheist display obvious intolerance, hatred and ignorance invalidates your point unless you classify atheism a religion too. Do you not see your own prejudice in these posts?

    Are you blind to the reality that Stalin was an atheist who applied atheistic principles to his notion that political opponents were genetically and environmentally compromised and therefore could not be rehabilitated and needed to be sent to the Gulag to die, unable to corrupt the rest of society. He applied this principle to murder tens of millions.

    How do we accurately judge one worldview over another? You were mistaken about the correlations between atheism and intelligence, is it too much of a stretch to suspect you are wrong here too?
    OK, please use this opportunity to explain why the countries with the most atheists are the countries with the lowest crime rates, longest life spans, fewest involvements in wars and most personal freedoms?

    If you think my points aren't convincing enough, then perhaps you can explain what would turn out to be extraordinary coincidences.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gen1GT
    OK, please use this opportunity to explain why the countries with the most atheists are the countries with the lowest crime rates, longest life spans, fewest involvements in wars and most personal freedoms?

    If you think my points aren't convincing enough, then perhaps you can explain what would turn out to be extraordinary coincidences.
    I'm sorry but this is just silly. All you're doing is making appeal to correlations without any attempt at critically assessing what those correlations may mean.

    Atheism is most common in secular liberal societies probably because those are usually the only societies that allow atheism. Liberal societies also happen to be economically well off, which promotes all that wonderful health stuff.

    As to crime statistics, why do some highly religious countries like Ireland have homicide rates similar to highly secular countries like France. Also, why does one of the most religious countries in Europe, Portugal, have a much lower homicide rate than France. Why is one of the most secular states in Africa, South Africa, have one of the highest homicide rates. Some of the most secular states in the world, Russia and China, are also some of the prime human rights violators. I fail to see any reason to connect crime rates with religiosity. In fact, some countries like Saudi Arabia, although very authoritarian, are incredibly safe places to live.

    There is no connection between atheism or religion with levels of crime.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of..._homicide_rate
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    cypress

    Stalin was a megalomaniac who was obsessed with power. He killed large numbers of people in chasing that power. Incidentally, he was also an atheist.

    Hitler was a megalomaniac who was obsessed with power. He killed large numbers of people in chasing that power. Incidentally, he was also a christian.

    I think the conclusion is obvious.
    I do too. It would seem that no world view is free from evil.

    Stalin (an Atheist) and Hitler (a Christian) were motivated by power and both used atheistic principles of genetic, cultural and environmental factors to prejudicially classify people so they could rationalize the elimination of millions of those they saw as both inferior and as political enemies.

    Conclusion, It is difficult to judge one world view as "better" than another.
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    Atheism is not an ideology, so your comments are moot, Cypress. Atheism is no more a religion or an ideology than bald is a hair color.
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    Atheism is not an ideology, correct.
    However, many atheists are also humanists. Humanism is definitely an ideology, and a very attractive one.

    Pity that neither Stalin or Hitler were humanists.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanism
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Atheism is not an ideology, correct.
    However, many atheists are also humanists. Humanism is definitely an ideology, and a very attractive one.

    Pity that neither Stalin or Hitler were humanists.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanism
    I am a humanist/existentialist/atheist. I love you. :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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    Atheist Humanists are proof religion is no longer required.
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    honestly speaking according to me this is totally wrong thought ... religion is something that make the mans life more easy and perfect than before .....all religion of the world have a great impact on the in developing ones attitude ....

    so we can blame the religion anymore ....
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    That post made very little sense, and the thought stands that religion isn't necessary. As a matter of fact, the simple existence of atheism shows that religion is not necessary, because people can exist and thrive without it.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
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    It seems because atheists are free-thinkers, that ability to think about more than they're told from clerics makes them more aware of their place in society, and gives them the foothold in humanism and common-sense human interaction. We don't need a priest to tell us it's wrong to rape, steal and kill, so we also don't have a priest telling women what to do with their bodies or that our fellow gay friends are wrong for being who they are.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gen1GT
    We don't need a priest to tell us it's wrong to rape, steal and kill...
    Depends on our will to figure these things out on our own. Most atheists do not build a consistent system. Many stop at "you just know" right from wrong. The Germans under Hitler "just knew" they were behaving rationally, and indeed few atheists today can explain where the holes were.

    I argue that society is better served when many people subscribe to prepackaged systems which religions offer. Better real-life performance with less investment and risk.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    the simple existence of atheism shows that religion is not necessary, because people can exist and thrive without it.
    The existence of flying squirrels shows that all squirrels can fly?
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    No, but the existence of ground squirrels shows that flying is not a necessity for squirrels to live. Some people may do well with religion, but it's not as if the human race would end if religion died out, that's my point. If some members of the species can survive without a given property, the species on the whole can survive without it.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
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  38. #37  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    the existence of ground squirrels shows that flying is not a necessity for squirrels to live
    Nice dodge, but the logical progression is inevitable:
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    not as if the human race would end if religion died out, that's my point
    Not a very happy outcome.

    So to this end atheists press believers to leap off the metaphorical cliff? Some survive, some don't. It's messy. But they're free of religion anyway.

    I just don't think we're ready for this. We can't even explain how to thrive as atheists. "Just do it" isn't good enough. Humanism might fill much of the void, though that's debatable for now. I think that atheists as a group need to grow up and build some shared insight first. Tilting at Nativity figurines proves our immaturity. When I see atheism expressed positively, independent of religion to define against, then I'll know we have something to offer.

    Many religions chart paths to enlightenment and maybe atheists could borrow the practice?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    I just don't think we're ready for this. We can't even explain how to thrive as atheists. "Just do it" isn't good enough. Humanism might fill much of the void, though that's debatable for now. I think that atheists as a group need to grow up and build some shared insight first.
    Should people who don't believe in unicorns also come together as a group and build some shared insights? What about people who don't believe in the tooth fairy? Should they "grow up" too? Or, how about all of the people who don't believe in Thor, Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon, or any of the other countless deities laying dead in the graveyard of human mythology... should all of those people "grow up" and "build some shared insight?"

    Sorry, Pong... but those last two posts of yours were laden with fail. Atheism is not an ideology any more than a lack of belief in leprechauns is an ideology.
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    Early on, 1GenGT said:

    If you can all argue that being religious doesn't neccessarily cause teens to misbehave, then my true point here is, there is no correlation between religiosity and behavior.
    I think this is one of the more astute observations I have seen on this forum in a long time.

    Christians have the very same behavioral problems that non-Christians have. Churched people have illegitimate children, get involved in drugs and alcohol and crime. They lie, cheat, gossip and get divorced. Well, not all Christians are doing all those things. But then, neither does the non-believing population.

    The unfortunate thing is that Christians often try to pretend those things do not happen to people in the church. And non-Christians seem to think that Christians are hypocrites because they have human failings.

    The biggest differences between Christians and non-Christians is what they believe and what they hope. One would wish that Christianity had a greater impact on behavior in the U.S., but when we see politicians and people of power who, claiming to be believers, seem more focused on self promotion and self preservation than on serving others as Jesus taught, it makes you wonder what the future of mankind holds.

    I am sure some strict religious movements do impact behavior. But they do so to the detriment of freedom of thought and freedom of expression.

    Anyone who thinks Christianity is a behavior modification program has the wrong idea about Christianity. It is about recognizing that wrong offends the God of the Universe and that there is a need to reconcile that offensive behavior. It is about a spiritual relationship.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Should people who don't believe in unicorns also come together as a group and build some shared insights? What about people who don't believe in the tooth fairy?
    There ya go. Atheism as you relate it, is defined by what one disbelieves. I think our atheisms differ. And I don't think you can preach your brand while holding absence of ideology.

    Atheism will have features simply because people have features. Even monks meditating on the nothing. People gotta live. So we want people to live with atheism. How's this going to work? How do we make this a positive change? How does society operate with atheism?
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    Pong, you're reading too much into it. Atheism is simply a lack of belief in some type of theology. It's not a moral code, as every atheist has a different moral code based on their culture, personal experiences, etc. and there isn't much in the way of ideology behind it. Religion is seen as a moral guide, something to tell you how to lead your life; Atheism shows that we, humans in general, don't need that guide. Sure, some people would rather have it, but they don't need it and that's the point I'm trying to get across.
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    So what about humanism. Do we need religion for that? No.
    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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    Religion isn't responsible for any of the humanitarian efforts seen around the world. Natural human compassion is responsible, and to attempt to say religion is the cause of compassion is asinine as atheists are equally likely (perhaps even more likely in ancient times) to be compassionate as a theist. All of the characteristics innate in people are there regardless of what they believe in terms of the supernatural. Sure, you can derive morals from the bible, but you can also derive morals from children books that have nothing to do with religion, or fantasy books that have nothing to do with religion, or any other experience a person can have.

    God is not the source of anything, it is simply the explanation that happened to survive, because it answered all of the questions we couldn't answer by other means, as it still does. That is arguably it's only real use at this point, to give peace to those who seek a definitive answer. Little else
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
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    This is a response to several posts on page 1.

    Perhaps computers have replaced religion.

    If religion has had some beneficial societal role in the past, perhaps it has been to provide community and support, something that may have been partiuclarly beneficial when many people in communities spent much time in manual labour (rather than socialisation), when those communities were widespread and communication between them, difficult. Perhaps a weekly meeting to share community was beneficial for a raft of sociopsychological reasons.

    Perhaps online communities and communication now provide support, friendship, communication, and many of the elements that religion has provided in the past, and this may account in part if religiosity is dropping with no net negative imact on society.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner

    Anyone who thinks Christianity is a behavior modification program has the wrong idea about Christianity. It is about recognizing that wrong offends the God of the Universe and that there is a need to reconcile that offensive behavior. It is about a spiritual relationship.
    Would you agree that secularism, or atheistic humanism, is about recognizing that wrong offends our fellow man, and that there is a need to reconcile that offensive behavior... that secularism is about relationship with each other?
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    To the question : Do we need religion?

    Sadly, the answer is that some people do. My own opinion is that the need for a religious belief is the more primitive response, and more advanced humans are able to get by very nicely without that.

    It goes further than religion, and it is more than intelligence. I believe that there is another quality, which I call rationality. People who are rational will have a set of beliefs based on solid evidence, not on superstition.

    A recent survery of Mensa Club members in Canada showed that about 50% believed in astrology, and more than that believes that UFO's existed and proved visits by aliens. These Mensa Club people were very intelligent, but also very superstitious.

    A truly advanced mentality is rational, as well as intelligent. Such rational and intelligent people (and there are many represented on this forum) will not believe any superstition, whether it takes the form of a religion or not.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    Anyone who thinks Christianity is a behavior modification program has the wrong idea about Christianity. It is about recognizing that wrong offends the God of the Universe and that there is a need to reconcile that offensive behavior.
    What about the fact that... even within Christianity itself... there is little agreement about "what offends god," and what it means to "reconcile that offensive behavior?" My point is simple... All you have to do is note the fact that when you look at Catholics they have a different interpretation than Protestants and they have a different interpretation than Baptists and they have a different interpretation than Methodists and they have a different interpretation than Jehova's witnesses... ad infinitum.

    You are here suggesting some objective truth... some objective definition of "wrong" and "offense to god"... when even people following the exact same scriptures and with tremendous overlap in core dogma cannot agree on what those objective definitions and truths are. That does not bode well for your position.

    What you have is personal interpretations of words written by barely literate tribal peoples during the Bronze age in the middle of the desert somewhere, supported by nothing other than your own faith in the absence of (and sometimes in direct opposition to) evidence... and interpretation which is likely to differ significantly from the person in the pew beside you, and more so from the person in another "christian" church down the street.



    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    I think our atheisms differ.
    I'm rather sure they do, which is kind of my point.





    Quote Originally Posted by free radical
    If religion has had some beneficial societal role in the past, perhaps it has been to provide community and support, something that may have been partiuclarly beneficial when many people in communities spent much time in manual labour (rather than socialisation), when those communities were widespread and communication between them, difficult. Perhaps a weekly meeting to share community was beneficial for a raft of sociopsychological reasons.
    Indeed. There is a tremendously interesting line of research about the evolution of religion and belief in deities. Your intuition as shared above aligns very closely with much of that work. A while back I put together a collection of very interesting articles and talks on exactly that topic. You might enjoy checking it out based on your post above. :wink:


    http://www.thescienceforum.com/viewt...=223531#223531

    (Note: I had a better post with snippets from those, but I can't find it... Seems to have been deleted since the guy to whom I was responded got banned for trolling).
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    free radical asks:

    Would you agree that secularism, or atheistic humanism, is about recognizing that wrong offends our fellow man, and that there is a need to reconcile that offensive behavior... that secularism is about relationship with each other?
    Simple answer -- no.

    More complex answer. If you can show that no sociopath is secular, then you might have a remote chance of convincing one or two people of that idea. Secularism and humanism are as self indulgent and self centered as any other recognized world view.

    Meanwhile, we humans are in the process of being humans. That is the problem we have as humans -- we are human. Our first thought from day one is self. Feed me, keep my warm, change my diaper.

    Unfortunately, we do not really progress that far from the cradle in our lifetime whether we are religious or secular. We get upset if others interfere with our access to our needs and wants or whatever we consider we are entitled to. Secularism and humanism are as self serving as religion and if you can't see that, I would say it indicates a blind spot in your world view.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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  50. #49  
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    free radical asks:

    Would you agree that secularism, or atheistic humanism, is about recognizing that wrong offends our fellow man, and that there is a need to reconcile that offensive behavior... that secularism is about relationship with each other?
    Simple answer -- no.

    More complex answer. If you can show that no sociopath is secular, then you might have a remote chance of convincing one or two people of that idea. Secularism and humanism are as self indulgent and self centered as any other recognized world view.
    In that case, can you agree with the statement that religion is as self indulgent and self centered as any other recognized world view?
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    Simple reality : about 10% of any human group are sociopaths.

    Definition of sociopath is someone with essentially no conscience. In other words, if they can get away with it, and it is to their benefit, they will do pretty much anything, no matter how much it harms other people.

    You only need to look at all the catholic priests who have been done for pedophilia. Or politicians who steal. Any group will have its share of sociopaths.

    This rule most definitely applies to the religious and to the non religious. Both groups are about 10% sociopath, or, in more basic words, evil people.

    The main difference between religious and non religious is not good vs evil, but rational versus irrational. Religion is just another form of superstition, and adhered to by those who are irrational.
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  52. #51  
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    I think our atheisms differ.
    I'm rather sure they do, which is kind of my point.
    Good, I see your point. No shame in admitting your brand of atheism kicks off from Christianity, as I guess it should in your situation. So I think you see my point that an absence defines what remains? People have to work with it. Then we can look at societies and speculate how the absence of religions (or more simply: the presence of atheism) will change them.

    In this thread some atheists have maintained atheism's detachment from reality. They say it's simply a lack of belief. Or they say it can't be defined because each atheist is unique. Or they observe that good citizens may grow naturally in atheism anyway. Seems like evasion to me.

    I think that atheists as a group ought to be responsible for our members, and atheism's effects upon society. I'm sorry if that smells like religion to the anti-religion factions. Real life calls for it.

    In this thread we're looking at the corresponding growth of recent generation atheism, with morals, in Ontario youth. I mean growth of morals in the sense of their development. I supplied some ideas regarding what makes this demographic tick.

    If we can't, as a group, take responsibility for manifestations of atheism, then why not? How do we overcome this?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong

    I think that atheists as a group ought to be responsible for our members, and atheism's effects upon society. I'm sorry if that smells like religion to the anti-religion factions.
    Indeed, organised, bad idea.

    On the heels of organised comes dogma and core values.

    As an example, one of the central tenets of Unitarian Universolism is an adherence to no dogma. !!

    An absence of organisation leaves atheists responsible for themselves, which surely seems a more mature way to go.
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  54. #53  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Good, I see your point. No shame in admitting your brand of atheism kicks off from Christianity, as I guess it should in your situation.
    Okay. You've lost me completely. It's time for you to back-up and explain more clearly what you mean by this.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Seems like evasion to me.
    It's not evasion. It's an accurate description of the situation.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    I think that atheists as a group ought to be responsible for our members, and atheism's effects upon society.
    You still just don't get it. Atheism is not a "group," any more than people who don't believe in Thor are a "group." The only thing atheists have in common is the fact that they are not theists. That's what atheism means. Not theist. You trying to ascribe sets of beliefs or values to this arbitrary label shows only your own misguided understanding.

    People who don't believe in Zeus are not a "group." People who don't believe in the tooth fairy are not a "group." People who don't believe in unicorns are not a "group." Why are you trying to force people who don't believe in Jahweh to be a "group?"
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  55. #54  
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    inow wrote:

    What about the fact that... even within Christianity itself... there is little agreement about "what offends god," and what it means to "reconcile that offensive behavior?" My point is simple... All you have to do is note the fact that when you look at Catholics they have a different interpretation than Protestants and they have a different interpretation than Baptists and they have a different interpretation than Methodists and they have a different interpretation than Jehova's witnesses... ad infinitum.
    Soooooo! I suppose there are people who think there is nothing that is wrong, at least from the standpoint that everything has a circumstance in which it may be proper. I think the common thing here, however, is that almost off of us, religious and secular, agree that there are behaviors which are wrong. Whether our basis for that belief is religious (moral) , or secular (a legal wrong) or personal conscience, we do agree that there are wrong behaviors which are disruptive to society or perhaps to innocent victims of the behavior.

    And, generally, we all seem to agree that some of those wrong behaviors are deserving of reprimand which may include punishment. So, in a sense, the reprimand or punishment meted out by a legal system is designed to reconcile the perpetrator to society by having him/her pay recompense for whatever negative result was produced by the "wrong" action. Not only do religions have different interpretations of what constitutes moral wrongs, different societies and individuals within those societies have differing ideas on what should be legally wrong.

    We do not all agree that there are also a potential spiritual wrongs which subject the perpetrator to spiritual consequences.

    But we do almost all agree that there are behaviors which are wrong and which are deserving of reprimanding consequences whether they be legal and/or spiritual consequences.

    inow then claims:

    You are here suggesting some objective truth... some objective definition of "wrong" and "offense to god"... when even people following the exact same scriptures and with tremendous overlap in core dogma cannot agree on what those objective definitions and truths are. That does not bode well for your position.
    To the best of my knowledge, I did not list or indicate any one thing that I think is wrong. So I have no idea how you can attach any objective significance to what I wrote. Please point out, specifically, what objective truth you think I suggested.

    inow again registers an unfounded claim:

    What you have is personal interpretations of words written by barely literate tribal peoples during the Bronze age in the middle of the desert somewhere, supported by nothing other than your own faith in the absence of (and sometimes in direct opposition to) evidence... and interpretation which is likely to differ significantly from the person in the pew beside you, and more so from the person in another "christian" church down the street.
    I have no idea what "personal interpretations" I submitted which you can attribute to Bronze Age people, let alone any statement of faith. I think you need to specifically point out what personal interpretation I expressed and how it might be related to the Bronze Age.

    I did register the opinion that we are all human, but if you insist, I am willing tomake an exception in your case. I secondarily opined that our societal problems are the result of our humanity.

    If you disagree with that, you are certainly free to offer your opinion as to what other animal you think we are or what other additional causes there may be. It seems that would be more productive to the discussion than to merely say you disagree with me for the wrong reasons.

    free radical asked:


    In that case, can you agree with the statement that religion is as self indulgent and self centered as any other recognized world view?
    I'm not sure, but I think I said we are all self indulgent because we are human. If that is what I said, it would include religious people as well as members of other recognized world views or groups. I would not agree that religion is, in and of itself, self indulgent any more than I would say communism or the French or Asians are self indulgent because of what or who they are. People are self indulgent in their own right no matter the basis of their world view or group membership.

    skeptic writes:

    The main difference between religious and non religious is not good vs evil, but rational versus irrational. Religion is just another form of superstition, and adhered to by those who are irrational.
    What legislative body or scientific community or philosophical society has conferred on you the sole right to determine that which is rational. Even the insane think they are rational. This is, in an of itself, an irrational argument because there is no scientific basis by which you can make that conclusion -- it is based only on your belief that there is no spiritual world. To me, that is not only irrational but also foolish. You have expressed nothing more than an opinion with which I disagree.

    I am not sure who has ever directly claimed that the difference between religious and non-religious (adjectives you use without a noun to indicate what you are actually describing; may I assume you mean people) is good and evil. In fact the only thing remotely resembling that thought I have seen is atheists, following the lead of Richard Dawkings, claiming that religion is evil which, according to your statement, you would disagree.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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    I'll make this simple since you're having a hard time following, daytonturner. You said that Christianity is about "recognizing that wrong offends the God of the Universe and that there is a need to reconcile that offensive behavior."

    I was pointing out that there is no such thing as an objective definition of wrong (which is required for your assertion to have any merit), and this lack of objective definition is obvious even when restricting the population to those who ascribe to christian belief.

    There is overlap in what the various denominations see as wrong or not wrong, sure, but that same overlap is seen across the religious and non-religious, as well... In short, you are positing an absolute/objective truth about "what offends god" and "what is wrong" which simply does not exist.

    As I said... All you have is your own personal interpretation of what is "wrong" and what is not, and your interpretation will differ from that of others... it will even differ from other christians who claim to be deriving their sense of right and wrong from the precise source you claim to be deriving it. Ipso facto, your claim of objective truth or clearly defined "wrongs in the eyes of god" is wholly without merit, and lacks validity.

    As for your suggestion that religious people are moral because of the bible and secular people only act morally due to laws... That's just too stupid to even respond to, and you've been corrected on that false impression before. We are social creatures and our behaviors are a result of our evolution as such. Non-religious people don't choose to avoid murdering or raping people due solely to the fact that there is a law and police will punish them, and the fact that you keep suggesting this is the case is really rather distressing. Even religious scholars agree.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2p9C...layer_embedded
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnXmDaI8IEo
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    I think it is very clear that I was saying what the Christian perspective is about what constitutes a wrong. It is an offense against God whatever they think may be such an act. This would not be a universal application to all of humanity as you seem to attempt to make it.

    Non-Christians would not agree that whatever they may consider to be wrong is an offense against God. Christians, almost all of them, would consider any wrong to be a wrong against God even more than a wrong against society or another person. If you are aware of some other Christian perspective on wrongful acts (sin), pray tell, please explain that perspective before dissing mine.

    At no point do I ever suggest any specific behavior as being wrong. Had I done so, your objection would have some validity, although not much significance.

    inow said:


    All you have is your own personal interpretation of what is "wrong" and what is not, and your interpretation will differ from that of others
    Name one thing that I said I think is wrong -- just one act. You are here again, and as usual, grasping at straws to present an argument against an issue that no one has raised or presented. I believe that is what you so love to call a strawman argument.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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    DT said :

    "What legislative body or scientific community or philosophical society has conferred on you the sole right to determine that which is rational. Even the insane think they are rational. This is, in an of itself, an irrational argument because there is no scientific basis by which you can make that conclusion -- it is based only on your belief that there is no spiritual world. To me, that is not only irrational but also foolish. You have expressed nothing more than an opinion with which I disagree. "

    Obviously there is a level of opinion here. However, my opinion is rooted in the rationality of modern science. Science requires empirical evidence, and that which has no strong empirical evidence is not accepted as a part of science. Or as a part of rational thought. Indeed, any belief that is not based on good empirical evidence can be considered to be superstition.

    If your belief system is based on an act of faith, rather than solid empirical evidence, then it is irrational. If religious belief is based on empirical evidence, then that has not been demonstrated. To the best of my knowledge, no person supporting religion on this forum has used anything other than faith as the basis for their belief.

    This makes it irrational. To admit there is no solid empirical evidence for any specific idea of a deity is rational, and that is what characterises those of us who profess ourselves to be non believers.
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    skeptic said:
    To admit there is no solid empirical evidence for any specific idea of a deity is rational
    It is a rational possibility based on the lack of empirical evidence either way. If there was empirical evidence either way, just about everyone would believe what the empirical evidence shows. Sayyyyyy, doesn't the last poll indicate that 93 per cent of people in the U.S. believe in a deity? Hmmmmmm?

    Is it not equally true that to admit that there is no solid empirical evidence to exclude the existence of any God, it is equally rational to conclude that a deity may exist.

    Your belief is based on the faith that the lack of evidence of God is sufficient to safely and rationally exclude His existence. In contrast, you seem to deny that the lack of evidence of his non-existence is sufficient to rationally believe He exists.

    The fact is that one of us is right and one of us is wrong regardless of the rationality of our position. Could you agree that if it turns out God does exist, your belief was irrational? If you are wrong, you will most certainly know it and regret your belief. And I envy you that position because if I am wrong, I will never know it, but I will not regret having had my belief.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

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  60. #59  
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    I think that atheists as a group ought to be responsible for our members, and atheism's effects upon society.
    You still just don't get it. Atheism is not a "group," any more than people who don't believe in Thor are a "group." The only thing atheists have in common is the fact that they are not theists. That's what atheism means. Not theist. You trying to ascribe sets of beliefs or values to this arbitrary label shows only your own misguided understanding.

    People who don't believe in Zeus are not a "group." People who don't believe in the tooth fairy are not a "group." People who don't believe in unicorns are not a "group." Why are you trying to force people who don't believe in Jahweh to be a "group?"
    To be clear, by "group" we mean sharing characteristics unnecessary to the purest definition, i.e. atheists are more than simply "not theists"; and, others relate to this class as a group in the common sense of the word; and, this group has some cohesion. I'm paying out a lot of slack for you here.

    I think you're saying atheists are not a group because people who reject something, or are simply free of something, do not constitute a group. Let's test this in the real world...


    -Anti-racists. What do they have in common besides rejecting racism? Well, lots of things... for fear of making politically incorrect generalizations I won't even begin to paint this group. Such is real life. But anti-racists have government lobbies for example.

    -How about those Freedom from Religion people? Are they not a group? Hmm.

    -See how one group can define atheists as a group: What did the mujahideen chant before kicking ass on the Soviet occupiers? "Death to the atheists" is what they chanted. And they were technically correct. They were resisting atheists, and atheists were oppressing them with typical atheist intentions.

    -Rewind to the 60's. Anti-establishment movement. What they had in common was elusive. They rejected "the man" or something. But were they a coordinated group? You bet they were.

    -Meanwhile many women rejected careers as housewives. They had in common a "freedom from". Kinda like people who have left the church. They built a cohesive movement out of this. Not only did they protect and empower members of the group, they expanded group membership hugely.


    Apparently a simple rejection or absence of a thing under real-world conditions can richly characterize a group. And the group may operate as a group in the normal sense within society. Inow would you claim atheists are a special case aloof from the normal rules? If so, isn't this like theists claiming their beliefs a special case?

    I'm gonna assume you're now convinced that atheists are a marginally functional group, with common experiences, beliefs, values, spokespeople, agendas, etc. Now I may ask how do we better compose this rabble, and especially in my mind: what are our responsibilities to the membership and society?


    Quote Originally Posted by Skeptic
    If your belief system is based on an act of faith, rather than solid empirical evidence, then it is irrational... To admit there is no solid empirical evidence for any specific idea of a deity is rational, and that is what characterises those of us who profess ourselves to be non believers.
    Not this atheist. My firm disbelief is a combination of faith and expedience, and I'd be deluding myself to think I'm capable of deep rationality (cue the cheapshot). Moreover, rationality IMHO is basically misanthropic and I can't honestly reconcile rationality with goodness and humanism, so rationality "has its place".

    I think atheists must work out these kinds of differences before we act in a consistent manner. Eh.. maybe just excommunicate embarrassing members like Pong? Yeah, fine: it's me or Dawkins.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    I'm gonna assume you're now convinced that atheists are a marginally functional group, with common experiences, beliefs, values, spokespeople, agendas, etc. Now I may ask how do we better compose this rabble, and especially in my mind: what are our responsibilities to the membership and society?
    That would be a false assumption to hold, Pong.

    In context of this thread, my references to "groups" above were clearly in reference to populations with shared ideology or teachings. As I've made clear already, atheism is not an ideology, nor is it a source of values. Therein is the issue we seem to have with each others posts. You want to mandate that atheism act as a collective and that those who identify under that label should all hold some shared values. My stance is that your points are better directed at the concept of humanism, and that your target of atheism is wholly misplaced.

    When I read your posts, it's as if you're asking me what are the shared responsibilities are values of people who don't believe in astrology. I am left rather stumped as to why you don't see the obviousness of this point.

    I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree, as I'm not sure how much more clear I can make my point. You are assigning collective worldview where there is none. The only thing atheists share is their lack of theism, and while it is most commonly manifested at present in context of the abrahamic god, there is no other core commonality.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    your points are better directed at the concept of humanism,
    Well that is constructive. Thanks for the pointer.

    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    and that your target of atheism is wholly misplaced.
    It's probably a local demographic difference: About 3/4 of the 8-year-olds in my son's grade (at his school) appear very likely to grow up atheist as they are now. However what proportion of these kids will grow up to be humanists is impossible to guess. In your world it makes no sense to talk about an atheism movement, or atheists as a demographic, because they're uncommon. I've been trying to spur discussion regarding what we can do for these generations, as atheists, and I've learned I'll have to keep that to my own local community.

    I'll continue to hold myself responsible for the atheist movement thanks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    In your world it makes no sense to talk about an atheism movement, or atheists as a demographic, because they're uncommon.
    Pong, I'm really trying here, but again... This is not an issue of "commonality." Atheism is just a lack of theism. It is not a worldview or ideology any more than a lack of racism, a lack of belief in astrology, or a lack of belief in Thor, Zeus, Apollo, unicorns, tooth fairies, or santa claus is an "ideology."

    The best thing we can do for our children is to teach them to be rational and reasonable. That is what we need to support. There is no need to define ourselves in opposition to something. We don't define ourselves as non-racists. We don't define ourselves as non-astrologers. We don't define ourselves as non-numerologists, nor as non-believers in Zeus. We are just rational, and reject those things for lack of evidence and lack of alignment with reality.

    If you want to support a movement, I might suggest you support rationality, reason, and critical thinking. That's really all it takes to achieve your desired end.

    Take care.
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    inow said:

    If you want to support a movement, I might suggest you support rationality, reason, and critical thinking.
    Just by way of clarification -- do I detect the implication here that only atheists have these qualities and that these qualities are not shared by the 93 percent of the people in the U.S. who are not atheists? In other words -- that the minority view is the only rational, reasonable, critically thought out view?
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    inow said:

    If you want to support a movement, I might suggest you support rationality, reason, and critical thinking.
    Just by way of clarification -- do I detect the implication here that only atheists have these qualities and that these qualities are not shared by the 93 percent of the people in the U.S. who are not atheists? In other words -- that the minority view is the only rational, reasonable, critically thought out view?
    No.
    Many theists are rather rational people in other parts of their lives.
    Many atheists are rather irrational in other parts of their lives.

    However, as pertains to theism, by definition theists are acting irrationally and unreasonably.

    Btw - Your percentage above about 93% of people in the US being believers is rather outdated, and has been steadily decreasing for years.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demogra...#North_America
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    So is it possible that people of religious beliefs have reasoned, rational, critically thought out positions?
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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  67. #66  
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    So is it possible that people of religious beliefs have reasoned, rational, critically thought out positions?
    Try reading more closely, dayton. I've covered this already.
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    Pong - Out of curiosity, did you have any plans to clarify your comment from the previous page and address the question I put to you?


    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Good, I see your point. No shame in admitting your brand of atheism kicks off from Christianity, as I guess it should in your situation.
    Okay. You've lost me completely. It's time for you to back-up and explain more clearly what you mean by this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Pong - Out of curiosity, did you have any plans to clarify your comment from the previous page and address the question I put to you?


    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Good, I see your point. No shame in admitting your brand of atheism kicks off from Christianity, as I guess it should in your situation.
    Okay. You've lost me completely. It's time for you to back-up and explain more clearly what you mean by this.
    Just trying to be agreeable regarding different flavours of atheism, and predicting what you later confirmed:
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    it is most commonly manifested at present in context of the abrahamic god


    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    The best thing we can do for our children is to teach them to be rational and reasonable. That is what we need to support. There is no need to define ourselves in opposition to something. We don't define ourselves as non-racists. We don't define ourselves as non-astrologers. We don't define ourselves as non-numerologists, nor as non-believers in Zeus. We are just rational, and reject those things for lack of evidence and lack of alignment with reality.

    If you want to support a movement, I might suggest you support rationality, reason, and critical thinking. That's really all it takes to achieve your desired end.
    Those are some values. In my experience these fill atheists (me) with self-flattery, stunt spiritual and emotional growth, and are seriously dangerous unchecked. Having broken past the self-deception of my own rationality, I'm aware of it in others. Do you know what I mean by watching people sleepwalk? Well, maybe in another thread you could explain how "rationality, reason, and critical thinking" outputs loving goodness or any other humane sentiment. I hope to see your light if you have any.

    For now though I'm concerned with the ...uh, spiritual... development of young atheists. I don't need reminding that few self-made atheists think that useful, and even some think it antithetical. If you want to pursue this then I suggest you address it as an atheist group problem.

    Otherwise, enjoy your personal lack of theism.
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  70. #69  
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    inow said:

    Btw - Your percentage above about 93% of people in the US being believers is rather outdated, and has been steadily decreasing for years.
    Actually, the page you link to says:

    A 2004 BBC poll showed the number of people in the US who don't believe in a god to be about 9%.[6] A 2005 Gallup poll showed that a smaller 5% of the US population believed that a god didn't exist.
    So, it would appear that from 2004 to 2005, even your own information indicates the percentage of people who admit to being absolute atheists decreased and -- wow, by about 44 percent!!!!!!!

    A 2008 poll by the Pew forum on religion and public life as summarized at http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/200...elieve_ot.html
    is more recent stating the number who believe in God or some sort of universal spirit was at 92 percent which I erroneously inflated to 93 percent. I note this study is four years more recent that the 2004 BBC poll you cite.

    Even more shocking in that poll of 35,000 people is that only 1.6 percent of people in the U.S. considered themselves athists. A full copy of this poll can be found at http://religions.pewforum.org/reports

    It would seem to me, contrary to your contention, that the number of people who are dyed in the wool, out and out atheists is the group which is dramatically decreasing.

    Now then, we have no way of knowing exactly how the questions were asked and that can skew such a poll as can the way the pollsters interpret the information they get. For years, pollsters would ask people what their "religious affiliation" was and then consider those who said "none" as being none believers. This group for the last half century has grown from around 12 percent to over 16 percent. Further investigation, however. found that many of these people were actually believers though they did.

    These studies are always difficult to interpret because we do not usually know how the questions were asked. The use to consider people who said they were "unaffiliated" as non-believers, but by asking the question differently, they find that many "unaffiliated" people are believers who just don't associate themselves with any particular religious organization. This group -- people who believe in some spiritual essence but do not align themselves with any recognized, organized association -- is the group which has grown the most.

    I think the atheists who post on this forum get a false sense of their numbers since they are the large majority of the forum population. I think the forum is also highly populated by mostly young people who range in age from just pre-college to probably around 30ish. I know there are several who do not fall into that demographic, but statistics show that particular segment of our population is most likely to claim disbelief in God, a belief that often shifts to the other side when the vagaries of life send them in search of some consistency.
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  71. #70  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Pong - Out of curiosity, did you have any plans to clarify your comment from the previous page and address the question I put to you?


    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Good, I see your point. No shame in admitting your brand of atheism kicks off from Christianity, as I guess it should in your situation.
    Okay. You've lost me completely. It's time for you to back-up and explain more clearly what you mean by this.
    Just trying to be agreeable regarding different flavours of atheism, and predicting what you later confirmed:
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    it is most commonly manifested at present in context of the abrahamic god
    Looks like you should start reading more closely, too, Pong. I never claimed nor implied that my atheism was restricted to Jahweh. As my countless examples make clear, I am also atheistic toward all of the other gods laying dead in, what I like to call, the graveyard of human mythology.

    You have merely quoted me out of context above to make some strange point. In context, I was obviously referring to how atheism most commonly manifests in todays society... how the term tends to present itself in modern discourse... I was not, contrary to your suggestion above, speaking about how I define my own lack of belief.

    Here is my quote in full, without the context stripped:

    Quote Originally Posted by iNow
    I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree, as I'm not sure how much more clear I can make my point. You are assigning collective worldview where there is none. The only thing atheists share is their lack of theism, and while it is most commonly manifested at present in context of the abrahamic god, there is no other core commonality.



    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    I don't need reminding that few self-made atheists think that useful, and even some think it antithetical. If you want to pursue this then I suggest you address it as an atheist group problem.
    I don't know if you're being stubborn or stupid or some combination of both, but I will reiterate. Atheism is no more of a collective group than are those who lack belief in astrology or unicorns. The fact that you cannot wrap your head around this rather simple point means that we are talking past one another and using terms differently... essentially spinning our wheels and wasting our time.

    As pretentious as this may come across, my usage is the correct one. Atheism is no more a group with shared ideology or values than bald is a hair color. Take care.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    inow said:

    Btw - Your percentage above about 93% of people in the US being believers is rather outdated, and has been steadily decreasing for years.
    Actually, the page you link to says:

    A 2004 BBC poll showed the number of people in the US who don't believe in a god to be about 9%.[6] A 2005 Gallup poll showed that a smaller 5% of the US population believed that a god didn't exist.
    Talk about selective quoting. It also says this, Dayton.
    The most recent ARIS report, released March 9, 2009, found in 2008, 34.2 million Americans (15.0%) claim no religion.


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    So, it would appear that from 2004 to 2005, even your own information indicates the percentage of people who admit to being absolute atheists decreased and -- wow, by about 44 percent!!!!!!!

    A 2008 poll by the Pew forum on religion and public life as summarized at http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/200...elieve_ot.html
    is more recent stating the number who believe in God or some sort of universal spirit was at 92 percent which I erroneously inflated to 93 percent. I note this study is four years more recent that the 2004 BBC poll you cite.

    Even more shocking in that poll of 35,000 people is that only 1.6 percent of people in the U.S. considered themselves athists. A full copy of this poll can be found at http://religions.pewforum.org/reports

    It would seem to me, contrary to your contention, that the number of people who are dyed in the wool, out and out atheists is the group which is dramatically decreasing.
    Except no where, at no place, and at no time did I contend that atheism was increasing. You have built this really fancy strawman above and then claimed to demolish it, when all I actually said was, "Those numbers are a bit outdated, Dayton."



    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    These studies are always difficult to interpret because we do not usually know how the questions were asked.
    They are also difficult to interpret because we don't know how sincere respondents are being, nor how safe they feel in openly sharing their religious beliefs or how that will effect them in their particular community.

    This was also addressed in the link I provided. What's the problem, exactly?



    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I think the atheists who post on this forum get a false sense of their numbers since they are the large majority of the forum population. I think the forum is also highly populated by mostly young people who range in age from just pre-college to probably around 30ish.
    Okay. Not sure how that's relevant since I was not talking about the commonality of atheism, but thanks for sharing your opinion. Would you like to discuss your favorite color and flavor of ice cream now, or about how the plot of Avatar is kind of hollow and silly? After all, those topics would be equally relevant to our exchange here.



    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I know there are several who do not fall into that demographic, but statistics show that particular segment of our population is most likely to claim disbelief in God, a belief that often shifts to the other side when the vagaries of life send them in search of some consistency.
    I'd like to read more about this. It seems counter-intuitive, and more likely to apply to people who are merely on the fence about whether or not to believe (not to those who explicitly state their disbelief), but I'd like more clarity and context since you're suggesting that non-believers expressly are the ones who rush to the church when life gets tough. I'm having a hard time buying that, and it sounds like pure spin and misrepresentation from you, but I will readily review data which shows otherwise once you've shared it with us here to ensure my position is tenable.

    Statements like "statistics show" are best supported by sources. Otherwise, they're called "hearsay" and can be safely rejected, so let's see the evidence of your claim so I can read about it in context. Thanks.
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    They are also difficult to interpret because we don't know how sincere respondents are being
    I can attest to this. If I was being polled while in the company of almost anyone I know, I would say I believe in some form of creator. The reason is that I don't want to needlessly have people worrying about me (since I am now going to hell after all :|) and I don't want to have to deal with the ignorant stigma that surrounds atheists. It might even cost me my job and isolate me from those I love.
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    This thread is about the rise of atheism among youth, and the moral implications. I see a lot of numbers thrown around that aren't very relevant. Here are some relevant figures from the OP link, polling teens in Ontario, Canada:

    Asked which faith they identify with, in 2000 14% responded "other", 25% "no faith at all"; in 2008 16% "other", 32% "no faith at all".

    I've informally observed a larger proportion of "no faith" among my 8-year-old's classmates, though this probably the most "atheistic" community, in British Columbia. If the Ontario trend continues, and my son visits Ontario at age 16, he'll find "no faith" the de facto majority.
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    inow said:
    Talk about selective quoting. It also says this, Dayton.
    Quote:
    The most recent ARIS report, released March 9, 2009, found in 2008, 34.2 million Americans (15.0%) claim no religion.
    I do think I covered that phenomenon later in the post by noting that those who claim no religion usually mean they do not consider themselves affiliated with a known, recognize religious group. It does not necessarily indicate they do not believe in something, whether it be atheism or the FSM to 12th dimension interactions, or whatever other spiritual entity or essence(s) they may have adopted.

    inow said:

    Except no where, at no place, and at no time did I contend that atheism was increasing. You have built this really fancy strawman above and then claimed to demolish it, when all I actually said was, "Those numbers are a bit outdated, Dayton."
    Well, I have noticed this about you inow, and with no disrespect intended, you are an expert at making implications and then denying that you meant what you implied. The clear implication in your post was that the percentage of believers was declining and being replaced by non-believers. It is regrettable that you do not fully understand that not only must you take responsibility for what you actually say, but also for what you imply. I think a better response to those things would be to say you did not realize that implication and that you did not mean it, rather than chastising the person for recognizing the implication and then charging them with making a strawman response.

    Even in your exchange with Pong, it also seemed to me that you were implying that you were only (or at least mostly) offended by the "abrahamic God." And that of any (or all) the Gods you do not believe in, He is the main one. I did not quite get that He was the only one you did not believe in but, rather, in the unlikely event you were ever going to believe in some spiritual presence, that is the one you definitely would reject.
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    To DT

    Couple of points.

    First, the number of believers in the US is an irrelevent statistic. There have been times in human history when pretty much 100% of the population believed in witches. Does this make them real?

    Second : in relation to belief. You are correct in saying that a lack of empirical evidence for a deity does not prove said deity does not exist. Personally, I am happy to accept that as a possibility. In fact, what I do is to assign probabilities to various deities. This is, of course, speculative and unproveable. It is just the way I like to think about it.

    For example : the Christian deity is supposed to be omnipotent, omniscient, omipresent, and omnibenevolent. A description that is denied by every one of the million odd innocent children who die in agony each year! So I assign a probability of the Christian God existing, about a trillion to one against.

    However, a different kind of deity may exist. We live in a very large universe, and there may be a species somewhere so advanced as to be god-like to us poor humans. However, this species is unlikely ever to interact with us even at the most trivial level. I regard the probability of a god-like species existing somewhere in the universe as being rather high.

    What is the probability of a creator god? That is : one that created the universe rather than being a part of said creation? Probably a little on the low side, but still possible. If the universe was created by an intelligent being, I would expect that creation to leave signs, and so far we not seen any such.

    There are even people who believe the universe is a computer simulation and we all are just sub-programs. If so, then the computer operator is God.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    the number of believers in the US is an irrelevent statistic.
    Well, yeah. But since few have anything topical to add, and we're not allowed to discuss atheists as demographic or subculture...

    98% of forum users like pie.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    Even in your exchange with Pong, it also seemed to me that you were implying that you were only (or at least mostly) offended by the "abrahamic God." And that of any (or all) the Gods you do not believe in, He is the main one.
    Am I speaking Swahili or something? The fact that you find implications in my posts which simply aren't there really isn't my problem. The fact that you cannot properly comprehend what is being said is a fault of yours, not mine.

    Here's the point about your quote above. I reject all gods equally as ridiculous inventions of weak human minds, inventions which have propagated through indoctrination and social norms. The only reason the Abrahamic god plays into this at all is because that is the most commonly accepted deity in modern times, and the one most commonly referred to in these discussions. That does not mean my atheism relates only to Yahweh, just that these discussions generally take place in that specific context. If someone were a believer in Thor or Apollo my comments and criticisms would apply equally... as would my own lack of belief.

    It has nothing to do with me being offended. Seriously, please remove your cranium from your colon.

    The stupid in these posts is really starting to burn.
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  79. #78  
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    No point getting offended by those opinions which do not match up to your own. Personally, I totally agree with your views on deities, though I am possibly a bit less fervent about it. This is because the existence of a deity is still a remote possibility, even if that deity is seriously unlikely to resemble those of human invention.

    However, we should realise that reasoning by means of act of faith instead of reasoning using evidence, is a very common human attribute. Those of us who insist on proper empirical evidence are still a minority, and it behooves us to exercise a bit of tolerance towards those who use fallaceous 'faith' based illogic.

    It is my hope (possibly forlorn) that humanity may be developing towards a society in which everyone is taught from an early age to insist on proper evidence. However, we have a long way to go to achieve that.

    Scientific rationality requires solid evidence, and the testing of hypotheses. Religion does not. Religion is still very strong, and the religious still fail to understand the major weakness in the basis for their belief. Rational people have no choice but to exercise a bit of patience.
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  80. #79  
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    skeptic said:

    First, the number of believers in the US is an irrelevent statistic. There have been times in human history when pretty much 100% of the population believed in witches.
    I have no problem with that. But I don't think these numbers were being used to validate or repudiate the existence of God.

    I think a lot of it goes back to the incessant drone of the forum atheistic community that atheism is, singularly, the most intelligent, most moral, most just about every good quality you would want in human race to embody and how dangerous it is to the world to have religious people on the loose. And the second half of that equation is that religious people are religious because they lack intelligence and the ability to think for themselves and are merely the results of indoctrination.

    I cannot speak for other religions, but it is clear, statistically, that indoctrination does not play a significant role in U.S. Christianity. There are alarming statistics relating to the number of youths who leave the church during and shortly after high school.

    inow asked for some links to studies on this but there are times when the information is so readily available, it just does not seem necessary that I should have to do the research. A simple google of "youths leaving the church" will turn up hundreds are articles on the subject.

    We went thru this topic some time ago and I read numerous articles with alarming statistic of some churches losing 75-90 percent of their youth. I note that the current articles on this topic seem to be by a lot of alarmed hand wringing Christians fearing the demise of the church.

    I have searched and searched for the article I found in the earlier discussion which I thought made the best and most sensible use of the available information and history of the situation. That article pointed out this trend of high losses of youth began in the early 20th century and has been observed and fairly constant for some 75 years. With that kind of loss of the younger generation, one would think Christianity was but one generation away from extinction.

    However, in the time since, while church attendance has declined, the overall percentages of believers has remain fairly constant. The obvious conclusion is that while young people tend to leave the faith during their late teen years, they must be returning at some time. Otherwise, people of belief would soon be non-existent.

    I could agree with Kalster that some people, if polled in the presence of others might feel intimidated to respond in a specific way. However, when taken as an aggregate, hundreds of polls showing similar results can hardly all be skewed by suspected intimidation. Many of these polls are conducted in complete anonymity. If it could be shown which ones and that they produce significantly different results, then Kalster might have a complaint. Far more significant iskewing of such polls is in the population polled or the wording of the questions and the conclusions drawn from ambiguous questions.

    As to skeptic's probability scale, again I have no argument with his opinion or personal conclusions. But on the same scale, I think I would put the probability that the universe was created by some intellectual presence at about 99.5 percent and would set the probability that the intellectual presence was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at being about 99 percent. But as skeptic adequately points out, belief is not proof one way or the other.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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  81. #80  
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I cannot speak for other religions, but it is clear, statistically, that indoctrination does not play a significant role in U.S. Christianity.
    Nonsense.


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    inow asked for some links to studies on this but there are times when the information is so readily available, it just does not seem necessary that I should have to do the research.
    I had a feeling you'd worm out of your responsibility. You made a claim that nonbelievers return to the church when life gets tough. I asked you to support that claim.

    You have just expressly conceded that you cannot support your claim and implicitly demonstrated it to be false. Thank you.


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    A simple google of "youths leaving the church" will turn up hundreds are articles on the subject. We went thru this topic some time ago and I read numerous articles with alarming statistic of some churches losing 75-90 percent of their youth.
    Claims about youths leaving the church is not what you were asked to support, as a quick review of the referenced post clearly affirms. Please try to pay better attention and not so easily lose the thread of the discussion.


    [EDIT] Here it is again, in context, so you can see clearly why your response has failed:

    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I know there are several who do not fall into that demographic, but statistics show that particular segment of our population is most likely to claim disbelief in God, a belief that often shifts to the other side when the vagaries of life send them in search of some consistency.
    I'd like to read more about this. It seems counter-intuitive, and more likely to apply to people who are merely on the fence about whether or not to believe (not to those who explicitly state their disbelief), but I'd like more clarity and context since you're suggesting that non-believers expressly are the ones who rush to the church when life gets tough. I'm having a hard time buying that, and it sounds like pure spin and misrepresentation from you, but I will readily review data which shows otherwise once you've shared it with us here to ensure my position is tenable.

    Statements like "statistics show" are best supported by sources. Otherwise, they're called "hearsay" and can be safely rejected, so let's see the evidence of your claim so I can read about it in context. Thanks.
    [/EDIT]



    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    As to skeptic's probability scale, again I have no argument with his opinion or personal conclusions. But on the same scale, I think I would put the probability that the universe was created by some intellectual presence at about 99.5 percent and would set the probability that the intellectual presence was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at being about 99 percent.
    Are there any other numbers you want to randomly pull out of your ass to support your preconceptions?
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  82. #81  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Personally, I totally agree with your views on deities, though I am possibly a bit less fervent about it.
    The word exasperated is a better fit than fervent. :wink:


    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Rational people have no choice but to exercise a bit of patience.
    We've been patient for far too long already. I'm not willing to lend any further deference to this nonsense. I understand that you and others may feel differently, but this is important and I'm going to stand up strongly for reality at every chance I get. I don't respect religious beliefs, and my patience on this topic ran out well more than a decade ago.

    Cheers, and happy twenty-ten, mate.
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    pong said:

    Well, yeah. But since few have anything topical to add, and we're not allowed to discuss atheists as demographic or subculture...
    Well, relevant to your actual topic, it would be my opinion that the only thing religion has proved to be dangerous to is atheism. In view of the fact that most youths leave the faith around 18 years of age -- give or take a couple, it does not seem to have much negative influence on them. Well, unless you consider leaving the faith a negative result. What you really need to do is get out there and ridicule the learned adult community which forms the backbone of religious belief -- at least, in America. Oh, wait a minute, you already do that. And you are so effective at it that that the statistics show the believing community remaining virtually constant over the last century while the atheist community shrank from 5 percent in 2004 to 1.5 percent in 2008. Sort of like a 1-10 football team claiming success for the season.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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  84. #83  
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    What you really need to do is get out there and ridicule the learned adult community which forms the backbone of religious belief -- at least, in America. Oh, wait a minute, you already do that. And you are so effective at it that that the statistics show the believing community remaining virtually constant over the last century while the atheist community shrank from 5 percent in 2004 to 1.5 percent in 2008. Sort of like a 1-10 football team claiming success for the season.
    Wow. More inaccuracies. Are you lying on purpose to defend your faith, or are you just sadly misinformed?


    http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_prac2.htm
    • "The proportion of the [American] population that can be classified as Christian has declined from 86% in 1990 to 77% in 2001." ARIS Study, 2001. (It reached 76.0% in 2008)
    • The 2008 findings confirm the conclusions we came to in our earlier studies that Americans are slowly becoming less Christian and that in recent decades the challenge to Christianity in American society does not come from other world religions or new religious movements (NRMs) but rather from a rejection of all organized religions." ARIS Study, 2008.
    <...>
    • Prior to 1990, the popularity of Christianity had been stable in the U.S. About 87% of adults identified themselves as Christians. The country then experienced a major change. Significant numbers of American adults began to disaffiliate themselves from Christianity and from other organized religions. By 2008, the percentage of Christians had reached 76% and is believed to be continuing its decline.
    • The ex-Christians do not seem to have joined new religious movements (NRMs) or other world religions; they mostly left organized religion entirely.
    • Since World War II, this same process had been observed in other countries, like the U.K., other European countries, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

    It just warms my heart seeing so many god-loving people lying for Jesus. 8)


    Even other believers concede the trend (as evidenced in this site completely unaffiliated with atheists):

    http://evidenceforchristianity.blogs...f-atheism.html
    Interest in atheism is surging all over the world - even in the United States which had been resistant to it for so long. The reality is that people in modern society are rejecting the concept of "god" more than ever before, and this is really starting to frighten major religious institutions.

    In a 2008 Gallup survey, 15 percent of Americans claimed no religion at all. That is up from only 8% in 1990. That is almost a doubling in less than 20 years. That is stunning growth! In fact, the "non-religious" now outnumber all religious organizations in the United States except the Catholics and the Baptists.

    Speaking of trends... How important is religion in the US?

    http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=504&...terstitialskip




    FYI, Dayton... That last link was published last week and puts the national average for belief in god at 71%... a rather fair bit lower than your claim of 93 earlier in the thread.
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    Just a couple of comments.

    I do not believe that religious people are unintelligent or stupid, or whatever. However, I doubt their rationality. There is a big difference between intelligence and rationality.

    As I quoted before, a survey published in Skeptic magazine showed that, of Canadian members of the Mensa Club, about 50% believed in astrology. These are extremely intelligent people. Yet they believe in a pure superstition. So, while intelligent, they lack rationality.

    Rationality is essentially the main requirement for good science. It demands good evidence. Lots of very intelligent people are quite happy to believe something without good real-world evidence. They have intelligence, but by definition, are not rational. This is my view of religious people. They may be highly intelligent, but their willingness to believe something without good evidence is an irrational approach.

    Second point : does religious belief cause harm?
    Answer : Sometimes.
    If we look at history, we see times when advocates for religion are extremely intolerant, and punish those who fail to believe the same things. Examples include Muslim suicide bombers, Spanish inquisition, and the torment of 'heathens' whenever Christians expand into non Christian territories. Sometimes it is even so bad as to involve one Christian sect torturing and killing members of another Christian sect.

    I do not think that religious belief necessarily causes harm, but it definitely does sometimes.

    Does atheism cause harm? I would treat such a statement with extreme suspicion. Atheists can be good, bad or anything in between. They may be sadistic extremists, but that trait would come from their base nature, not their lack of belief in a deity. As I said before, 10% of every human group are sociopaths. This means that, whatever side of the debating fence you sit, you will be able to find examples to 'prove' your opponent's belief system causes people to become evil.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    ...Well, unless you consider leaving the faith a negative result. What you really need to do is get out there and ridicule the learned adult community which forms the backbone of religious belief -- at least, in America. Oh, wait a minute, you already do that. And you are so effective at it that that the statistics show the believing community remaining virtually constant over the last century while the atheist community shrank from 5 percent in 2004 to 1.5 percent in 2008. Sort of like a 1-10 football team claiming success for the season.
    What's with the partisanship? Why do you engage me like I'm an anti-theist set on faith's eradication? Oh... inow. Inow isn't representative of atheists. You see why I had that spat with him regarding responsible membership? These atheists cause a lot of trouble for us because they blithely prejudice believers like yourself, against the whole group. And I think you'll admit it is most tempting to think in terms of opposing sides, like your football analogy.

    But my goal is not to "score" against theism. In fact I've said before that many people just aren't ready for atheism; and atheism, as a social movement, is not mature enough to trust our future with. Not yet, maybe never. For now, reliably, expediently, and for goodness' sake religion is an excellent way to go. And if it saves your eternal soul as well that's just gravy. In my humble opinion.

    Okay? Thanks for helping to restore the topic:

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    Well, relevant to your actual topic, it would be my opinion that the only thing religion has proved to be dangerous to is atheism. In view of the fact that most youths leave the faith around 18 years of age -- give or take a couple, it does not seem to have much negative influence on them.
    This makes sense to me. It could even be the optimal way to grow a well-rounded person. Your thoughts?

    Do you think a religious upbringing embeds core values that remain regardless of superficial (intellectual) indifference to them?

    Are some religions better starting points for later atheism? Are some religions bridges?
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    I could agree with Kalster that some people, if polled in the presence of others might feel intimidated to respond in a specific way. However, when taken as an aggregate, hundreds of polls showing similar results can hardly all be skewed by suspected intimidation. Many of these polls are conducted in complete anonymity. If it could be shown which ones and that they produce significantly different results, then Kalster might have a complaint. Far more significant iskewing of such polls is in the population polled or the wording of the questions and the conclusions drawn from ambiguous questions.
    Is there a poll somewhere about how many people are regular church goers? You see, I am pretty sure that a very large portion of people that are not church goers would still identify themselves as believers in some kind of God, no matter what their family's denomination (if any) is. That is, people identify themselves as believers as an issue of pride and, what they consider to be, the proper thing to do as an adult and as someone that conforms to an idealized benchmark, but that a very large portion of them don't actually pray, go to church or "actively" believe. And then also, amoung those people that might actively go to church etc, that a very large part of them in turn simply go through the motions as a social obligation in much the same way as above. I am very sure of this point.

    I mean, a true believer is the one that actually actively does what a believer is supposed to (pray, care, help) when nobody is watching. Those that don't do this in private simply don't really believe and even a lot of those that do also really don't. They don't act as if an all powerful being that can read one's thoughts and determine one's eternal fate actually exists. I mean, really think about it. Is it really proper to call people like that believers when they plainly don't believe? When you look at it this way, then the vast majority of people that would identify themselves as believers in polls actually don't believe and most probably never have fully. These people would be classified in my mind as cultural believers at most and as such not bona fide believers. They don't have anything other than superficial concepts of that which they profess to believe in, let alone think (consciously or subconsciously) for any length of time about what it means to believe apart from how it affects them socially. [b]To my mind, this even goes for the vast majority of other religions as well to varying degrees. By the criteria above, the vast majority of people are actually atheists or agnostics. They just don't know it yet or won't think about the issues long enough to actually be able to admit this to themselves. This goes back to what I have said before, that religion is little more than a cultural phenomenon.

    The single biggest hurdle, and again I strongly believe this, to a sudden explosion of atheists is the cultural obligations that people are held to, that you are a good person and a productive member of society by association to the touted ideals of said religion when you identify yourself as a believer (in whatever faith). The more it becomes OK in communities to identify yourself as an atheist or an agnostic, the more the people will start crawling out of the woodworks.
    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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  88. #87  
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    Kalster, I think you make some very good points. Perhaps the statistic mentioned by inow - that 71% of USAians believe in God - says something about your arguments, when you consider that that figure of 71% actually refers to those who say they are "absolutely certain" while more than 90% say they believe. What's the difference between believing something, and being absolutely certain about something?

    If the roughly 20% or more who say they believe but are not absolutely certain were to be questioned in depth would they perhaps turn out to be agnostics?
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  89. #88  
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    In answer to both Pong and Kalster:

    I sort of addressed this previously with the idea that Christianity is not primarily a behavioral modification program. It's primary goal is deal with the spiritual consequences of unacceptable behavior.

    The Christian belief is that each of us is a sinner. Each of us displays and employs behaviors which violate the goals of human behavior God has set for us either by doing things which He has pointed out are counter productive or neglecting to do things which God says are productive activities.

    And this is not a matter of being an obedient believer. We see many famous Christians caught up and exposed in various improper activities. But it is not evidence that they are not believers, it is evidence that they are human beings.

    Behavior may be an indicator of how seriously a believer is about following God's instructions. But you can find individual Christians all over the board in how they think their relationship with God plays out.

    If Kalster will indulge me, my reading indicates that Christian church attendance has declined considerably over the past several years as people have seemingly become less inspired with traditional programs as well as other things intruding into their lives.

    If God does not actually exist, you may well be right that there will eventually be a cultural turnaway from, at least, Christianity. If God does exist, I can assure you that He is well able to turn the hearts of men and draw them unto Himself.

    As to pong's questions, I do not think Christian children are any more or less likely to develop good behaviors than children brought up in responsible non-Christian homes. I think discipline and consistency in the home is a more important factor in the effectiveness of instruction than the basis of that instruction. That is -- parental inconsistency in a Christian home is less likely to embed core values and produce well adjusted kids than consistent parenting in a non-Christian home.

    But again, these things are focused on behavioral impacts which is sort of like saying the penal system's main focus is on reform. That is certainly an aspect of imprisonment, but not the main purpose; the main purpose is to separate the offender from society so he cannot offend. Reform is an important attempt to prevent recidivism which may or may not attract an inmate or produce the desired revision of behavior.

    The primary purpose of Christianity is to reconcile the offending human to a holy God. And, in some cases, over and over again. Certainly behavioral conduct is an important factor for a Christian, but again, the main focus of Christianity is dealing with the spirtual consequences of behavior as each individual understands God expects of him.

    Bunbery accurately points out that many alleged Christians are actually functional Christian agnostics. They probably believe, but it just has no impact on their life. But in some cases, they could also be false professors of Christianity. I am content to let God sort that out, but I have no ability to read hearts or minds. If someone says he is a believer, I take him at his word.

    And pong is correct in his observation that not all atheists are hell bent on the destruction of religion of any and all forms. Unfortunately, the vast majority of atheist posters on this forum tend to be Dawkinsites who have as their goal the destruction of religion. I sometimes forget that not everyone here is like -- ah, well, the list is far to long. The Kalsters and Pongs have been few and far between in my over four years of participation here.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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  90. #89  
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    ...unacceptable behavior.
    <...>
    behaviors which violate the goals of human behavior God has set for us
    <...>
    various improper activities.
    <...>
    Behavior may be an indicator of how seriously a believer is about following God's instructions.
    <...>
    the main focus of Christianity is dealing with the spirtual consequences of behavior as each individual understands God expects of him.
    And yet those instructions, activities, and behaviors to which you continually refer are clearly open to interpretation, as evidenced by the vastly different understandings held even within the christian community. As was pointed out to you arleady earlier in this thread, what you posit as absolute, rigid, and objective desires of god are hardly as clear and objective as you make them sound.

    You may not wish to admit it, but as is obvious in your posts, you think that your understanding is the only correct one, and by consequence that all others are wrong. Oddly, that same thinking is common across believers... believers who themselves hold different interpretations than yours.

    Person A thinks they have the absolute truth.
    Person B thinks they have the absolute truth.
    Person A and Person B define their truths differently.
    Either one or both of them are wrong.

    My stance is that it's both.
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  91. #90  
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    inow, you have done it again accused me of holding you up to my standards so to speak.

    Go back through all my posts on this thread and find one place where I have listed one, just one, action which I think is wrong behavior or one which I have listed is required.

    At this point I will finally list one thing that I think is wrong behavior -- it is your disrespectful treatment of other people on this forum. My suspicion is that you probably treat everybody that way -- it is improper behavior which I don't think anyone on this forum appreciates.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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  92. #91  
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    inow, you have done it again accused me of holding you up to my standards so to speak.

    Go back through all my posts on this thread and find one place where I have listed one, just one, action which I think is wrong behavior or one which I have listed is required.

    At this point I will finally list one thing that I think is wrong behavior -- it is your disrespectful treatment of other people on this forum. My suspicion is that you probably treat everybody that way -- it is improper behavior which I don't think anyone on this forum appreciates.
    You're really missing this rather simple point, Dayton. I am not claiming that you have "listed" specific behaviors. What I am demonstrating is that your comments require such a list to exist, and it does not.

    You keep talking about what god wants and what is wrong and what is acceptable in the eyes of god as being "what christianity is truly about." By definition, this means that there are very specific behaviors which must fall into those categories of "wrong in gods eyes" or "unacceptable to god" or "against gods wishes." I have been making the point that people... even people of the same faith attending the same church with the same pastor... disagree on what those things are which are "wrong in gods eyes" or "unacceptable to god" or "against gods wishes." They disagree on what is right and what is wrong, what is acceptable and what is not, what god wants, etc... and they are all drawing their interpretations from the same place.

    On top of that, they all think that their interpretation is the correct one. Person A thinks they have the true interpretation. Person B thinks they have the true interpretation. The interpretations of Person A and Person B are different, therefore one or both of them is wrong.

    You continue to talk about religion or christianity being about doing what god wants and not engaging in wrong behaviors, and I am trying to illuminate to you how there is no objective definition of those things... how all you have is interpretation. I am not attacking you, so get a grip. You keep whining about how inappropriately I am treating you and how I'm misinterpreting your points... You think I'm challenging some particular list you've put forth, or misrepresenting your position, when instead I am showing a core flaw which serves as the basis of your logic. I have been showing that "what god wants" and what is "wrong" or "appropriate" is subjective and based on interpretation alone, but that your argument requires those things to be very clearly and objectively defined... consistent across all people. It's not, though, and this is obvious to all of us.

    Get it through your head. I'm not saying you've presented a list of what is wrong and what is right in the eyes of god. I am not giving you hard time for presenting such a list. What I am doing is demonstrating how no such list could possibly exist, but that your argument/position requires it. The list cannot exist because what you think is wrong in the eyes of god will not be seen as wrong to countless others who profess the same faith... who read the same book... and who come to a different conclusion than you about what is "against gods will" or "wrong in the eyes of god."

    If I'm wrong, and such a list exists, then present it, but without that, your core position is without foundation.
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    Well, actually, we all have lists of dos and don'ts. We all agree that premeditated murder is wrong, that assault is wrong, that raping children is wrong, that robbing banks is wrong and a lot of things that all seeming hold to be wrong acts whether it is because of some religious belief or some legislative fiat.

    I was merely explaining what most Christian people believe relating to improper behavior. It is almost as though you are saying there is no such thing as impropery conduct. There is no insistence that you believe the same thing, especially in view of the fact that not all religious people believe the same thing. You seem to feel no compunction at expressing your beliefs and opinions on these matter, but then you turn around and unnecessarily use disrepectful and derisive language to attack and ridicule those who believe or opine differently.

    It is impossible and useless to try to carry on a meaningful conversation with you when your objective is to try to tell the other person that his beliefs are stupid and irrational, in the face of the fact that a large percent of people agree with him while only 1.5 percent of people agree with you. That, it seems to me, is rather arrogant.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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  94. #93  
    Time Lord
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    As to pong's questions, I do not think Christian children are any more or less likely to develop good behaviors than children brought up in responsible non-Christian homes. I think discipline and consistency in the home is a more important factor in the effectiveness of instruction than the basis of that instruction. That is -- parental inconsistency in a Christian home is less likely to embed core values and produce well adjusted kids than consistent parenting in a non-Christian home.
    No. You're wrong. :x Christian-raised have better manners. You just pulled that claim of atheist good behaviour out of your ass.



    You started it.



    I do think religion provides helpful structure, for raising children. It certainly cues parents as to how to raise children, most religions even offering pre-scripted responses to those tough questions children have a knack for drilling. I find believers more predictable and accountable... and I intuit that when faced with moral dilemma they're more liable to soul-search or seek guidance with a spirit of humility, than the all-too-common ad hoc justifications atheists must live by and defend as "rationality and open-mindedness". An atheist may be internally logical at any moment but to an outsider they can be quite random. Not the greatest parents.

    On the other hand, the best learning is hands-on, by direct experience, and the moral vacuum of atheism does demand it of every atheist. One has to work for one's beliefs. So ironically what an atheist does believe, if anything, will be a "true" belief from the bottom up so to speak. Apparently there can be no Sunday atheists.

    Something I'm afraid of, in either group, is convenient self-deceptions that block ethical or spiritual depth. You know sometimes people in the courses of their lives pick up contradictions they're reluctant to resolve. I'm sure the atheists have shown you daytonturner many contradictions suggested by your own religion, and you observe their bad effects in some - not all - Christians. I also see contradictions atheists are especially susceptible to. And who knows, as an atheist I may be sadly blind to many things.

    I'm yet more concerned when groups of individuals holding contradictions, tacitly agree to maintain each other's contradictions. They act as a sort of subconscious support group. I believe I see this activity between atheists on Internet forums, and I wonder if a critical mass of mainstream atheists would build and support collective delusions particular to atheists in "the real world".

    Finally, to me, it's about the children. I want our future generations to develop into wholly functional, good, powerful citizens. The atheistic Ontario teens surveyed are an early example. I want to understand what they're doing right, and what they're possibly doing wrong; and why.

    I wonder if the same mechanism that causes so many Christians to leave the church around age 18, may also cause atheist-raised to likewise leave their own "church"? Anecdotally, I may have observed this in my (Vancouver) peers where atheists are already a well-established demographic. Were they Sunday atheists? Did atheism fail them, or is this a healthy progression?
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  95. #94  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I was merely explaining what most Christian people believe relating to improper behavior.
    No, Dayton, and that's rather disingenuous of you to suggest. What you were doing was saying that Christianity is about doing what god wants you to do, about avoiding behaviors which are wrong in the eyes of god. Here are quotes from you supporting my point:

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    Anyone who thinks Christianity is a behavior modification program has the wrong idea about Christianity. It is about recognizing that wrong offends the God of the Universe and that there is a need to reconcile that offensive behavior.
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    ...behaviors which violate the goals of human behavior God has set for us...
    ...doing things which He has pointed out...
    ...things which God says are productive activities...
    ...following God's instructions...
    Demanded of your argument is that there is a clear list of what god does and does not want, what he says are productive activities, and what are his instructions. I have shown without question that there are no such things; there are no such lists... not even within your own community of Christianity, and most certainly not across different religions who ALL claim to be acting on gods wishes and who ALL claim to be doing what god wants.



    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    It is impossible and useless to try to carry on a meaningful conversation with you when your objective is to try to tell the other person that his beliefs are stupid and irrational
    My objective is to accurately and rationally represent the reality in which we exist, and to demonstrate the flaws in your position and the lack of logic in your arguments. If in so doing your beliefs are shown to be stupid and irrational, then so be it.

    Now, how about instead of continuously pivoting to how offended you feel, and what a meanie I am, how about you actually try to support your position and address my criticisms rationally? Nearly all of your responses have been little more than misrepresentations, misunderstandings, and hapless attempts to change the subject to me and my tone. I'll tell you right now... if you were actually capable of comprehending what is being said to you and putting forth a rational response, or if you had enough integrity to at least admit that you have NOTHING other than your personal faith to support your position... instead of continually trying to support your beliefs using pathetic diversions, hand waving, and bad logic... I would be a lot less derisive and dismissive of your contributions.

    In sum, how about you man up and address my criticisms or concede that you cannot since you have nothing other than personal faith in support of your views? It's grown tiresome watching you persistently evade the central topic and comment on completely unrelated points.




    @Pong - If you see benefit in lying to children, telling them things which are patently false, and arresting their ability to think critically by giving them the easy answer instead of the correct one, then that is your prerogative. I personally disagree with that approach, and I find myself wondering why you wish to ignore the obvious harm you are causing them by changing not only what children think, but how. The concept of "garbage in, garbage out" is supremely applicable in this context.
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  96. #95  
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    Inow you're a jungle missionary proselytizing the holy spirit you obey and revere as supreme: the spirit of reason. It's not going to work on him.

    Because you won't acknowledge other ...gods... besides reason you say daytonturner has a "core flaw" with "no foundation". Me, I see "gods" in myself, him, and in you. Reason is one we have in common, but not all of us completely submit to reason as your jealous reason demands. Heh, maybe this is what happens when I don't eat my vegetables. And I end up offending everyone.

    ***

    Anyway inow you haven't helped the topic yet. If you really care about our future generations you'll prove them more to you than rhetorical devices highlighting the venomous nature of Pong. Why don't you take one of the cues above... like, um, the OP and linked article? I'm game to that.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  97. #96  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Anyway inow you haven't helped the topic yet.
    I think I've helped it tremendously since I've stood up for accuracy and valid representations of reality and pointed to flaws in peoples arguments. However, if you're asking me to address the question in the OP about whether or not religion is bad for our youth, I would answer with a resounding, "yes."

    I think religious teachings tend to be maladaptive and cause children (and adults raised with those teachings) to act irrationally. It causes children (and often adults raised with these teachings) to feel guilt and negative emotions often for no real reason. In religious households, children are threatened with punishments such as being burned for eternity in hell. They are made to feel guilty and abnormal for having perfectly normal biological urges and sexual cravings. They are often convinced that they should dismiss science and reason, and my stance is that they are having their minds blocked... That parents who teach religion to their children are forever wounding, scarring, and handicapping their childrens ability to think critically and engage in free inquiry... They are diminishing their childrens ultimate potential all as a result of little more than bronze aged fairy tales and dark aged superstitions.

    Humans naturally follow the teachings of their elders... it is hard wired into all of us. This deferral to the teachings of our elders was most certainly an evolutionary advantage when our elders taught us not to poke a stick at the lions or not to crawl too close to the cliffs and other such tings, but now, it's leading to maladaptive traits because children are being taught that a magic invisible sky pixie and celestial dictator who has never been demonstrated to exist outside of weak human minds cares about what you think and do, and that you'll burn in damnation forever and ever with no hope of parole or release for one mistake or ill thought… and those elders teach these things all in the absence of any evidence whatsoever that this is true or valid.

    There are also other real and more tangible instances where physical harm came to the child as a result of the parent’s religious beliefs... Such as in the case of Kara Neumann, an 11 year old girl who had grown so weak that she could not walk or speak due merely to something as treatable as diabetes... and she ultimately died… all because her parents, who believed that god alone had the ability to heal the sick, chose only to pray instead of taking her to a doctor.

    Or, what about Daniel Hauser, a 13-year-old boy whose parents refused him treatment for one of the most curable types of cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma, because the treatment was against their religion and religious beliefs?

    Or, how about the New Jersey woman who let her 5 kids starve, growing listless and emaciated with each passing day as she did nothing to find a job or even to find food for them because, "We were supposed to wait for God to provide, and that's what we did."

    Maybe you think those were rare or isolated instances, but there have been over 300 similar cases in recent history where parents withheld care for their children as a direct result of their religious beliefs. Do you want me to also start talking about how priests have been molesting children for years, or maybe about the hundreds to thousands of genital mutilations which are forced on children, male and female, every single day due to religious beliefs, or what about how religions encourage ingroup/outgroup associations and us/them mentalities, leading to societal strife, fighting, and ultimately war and needless suffering? I'd rather not, but I can... My preference is to focus on the impact to their minds, and the impact to society resulting from this indoctrination and belief in nonsense, but those are hardly the only harms religion causes our children, and ultimately our society.

    Yes, my stance is that religion is bad for our youth. Is that on-topic enough for you?
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  98. #97  
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    A lot to digest there. I must admit you've apparently more experience than I about religious upbringing. Largely anecdotal in both cases I think? Your post argues that religion is pure poison.

    A major hesitation to blaming religion for bad parenting, I've gained, is surprisingly good experience with Jehovah's Witness families. You'd expect all the troubles of religion multiplied in JWs, since they're roughly an intensely irrational edition of the mainstream Christian. Yet comparing their family lives and the social adjustment of their children, in my experience, they outshine most agnostic/atheistic families. These JW families I've gotten to know inside, and even coming from initially extreme prejudice and as an atheist I'm forced to rate them model families. So I have a lot of trouble linking irrational or fanatical thought itself to bad parenting.

    I think that rationally incorrect thoughts I might find ridiculous, may yet be quite sane as far as growing healthy children is concerned. There's Santa. What else? Is there inherent value in a certain amount of nonsense for the sake of nonsense? I wonder how valuable the process of unmasking Santa is.

    I have seen a lot of physically abusive parenting by Catholics, personally. This does seem commonly excused as kids are "born bad" and need correction at an early age when "all they understand is punishment". The church indirectly though plainly justifies this. In nations that are overwhelmingly Catholic there's no getting around it. The line between culture and religion is blurred here. I imagine that if I were raising a child in a Catholic dominated culture even as an atheist I'd absorb attitudes and norms - they'd make sense to me. For equivalence note atheist's attitudes regarding leaving baby in a crib all night varies considerably and depends on the nation they belong to - in any case they rationalize the cultural norm.

    Some of the coldest, most emotionally aloof parents I've known are atheists. I've known intellectual atheist parents to wilfully neglect and even discourage their children's spiritual development, raising confused little sociopaths or later converts to religion. I've been told by leftist baby boomers this was a "social experiment" a good chunk of them agreed to try, as a group, through networking with other parents at the time. It seemed most rational to let children develop naturally without any indoctrination. The idea, also popular in media, was that an untampered ...hippy... child would simply blossom plant-like into balanced maturity and free of inhibitions.

    I find more traditional households that opaquely instructed children "because that's how it is" often yielded better adjusted young adults. Why would that work? Does this provide youths ready objects to rebel against? Is coping with an unreasonable parent an important developmental achievement?

    I personally can't play the authoritarian parent, and rather strive for transparency. This means my child self-indocrinates, since he like all children frankly wants to know what parents think and models that with scarcely a second thought. It's funny to hear dogma coming from his mouth and realize where he picked it up. Also funny to think my idle thoughts he embraced as gospel truth, he may someday resent as bullshit indoctrination. Perhaps better tell him just the opposite of what I hope he'll "decide" as an adult?

    I find there is a lot more social engineering through elementary schools now. A large part of my son's values originate and reinforce through that channel. I speculated earlier that the Ontario teen atheists owe a lot of their ethics to social engineering. True/false? Good/bad?
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  99. #98  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    If you want to generalise about good and bad parenting, then the worst parents are single parents from lower socio-economic groups.

    Again, generalising, the best parents are couples who love each other and love their children. This group can be religious or atheist.

    Personally, I am not so focussed on the dichotomy of theist vs atheist. My interest is more on the dichotomy of rational thinker vs irrational thinker. This new dichotomy does not exactly equal atheist vs theist. There are religious people who are quite rational, though they are massively outnumbered by religious people who are irrational.

    There are some rational reasons for believing in a creator God, in spite of iNow's cynicism on this point. In fact, bearing in mind the special nature of our universe, and its amazing suitability for life, there are only two possibilities.

    1. A creator God made the universe to be a home for life.
    2. There are an enormous number of universes, and we just happen to live in the one best suited for our type of life.

    Naturally I prefer that latter explanation. The multi-universe theory is becoming more and more likely as our understanding of physics grows. However, the former explanation is still possible, and so a belief in a creator God is not necessarily irrational.

    To take the next step, and say that creator God is the Judeo-Christian Yahweh - or the Muslim Allah - is a step too far in my opinion. There is no objective, empirical evidence that a God exists, and but especially there is no such evidence to show that this hypothetical deity has the least interest in humans.

    Proper scientific rational thinking requires solid, credible, empirical evidence. If anyone chooses a system of belief based on 'faith' rather than evidence, then they are irrational. I want to see rationality become the norm, and get rid of irrational thinking. It is not religion that is harmful. It is irrational thinking. The USA would not be in Iraq if rational thinking had prevailed. Rational thinking leads to the best world.

    So to return to the OP, it is not religion that is harmful to our kids. It is irrational thinking.
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  100. #99  
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    inow said:

    My objective is to accurately and rationally represent the reality in which we exist
    Well, then, why don't you try to do that instead of spending most ofour efforts in writing long posts railing on a tack which can be summed up in two words, "You're wrong."

    To which I must now reply, "Am not."
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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  101. #100  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    So to return to the OP, it is not religion that is harmful to our kids. It is irrational thinking.
    Kinda tacked on to the end, like you'd built to this conclusion. What you really built addressed truth or falsehood of abstract existential/creation beliefs, irrelevant to real life. Like, what bearing has that on whether little Kenny snatched Samantha's crayon and made her cry?

    I'm deeply interested in the process and implications of a wholly rational upbringing, skeptic, for which I think you're a great spokesperson. Could you pick up one of the questions I raised in recent post? Maybe begin with Santa. What do you think is going on there?


    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    If you want to generalise about good and bad parenting, then the worst parents are single parents from lower socio-economic groups.
    Yes. Perhaps inow better crusade for family values. Do you think atheism relates to earning potential or family structure?
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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